Sunday, 28 March 2010

Circumnavigating the world in an autogyro

Norman Surpus and the Gyrox
Norman Surplus, departed on 22 March from Larne, Northern Ireland, to attempt to circumnavigate the globe in an autogyro called "Gyrox". It has never been attempted before. An autogyro (or gyrocopter) uses an unpowered rotor in auto-rotation to develop lift and an engine-powered propeller, to provide thrust.


The trip is expected to take approximately four months and cover over 43000km, stopping over in 26 countries along the way. Considering the nature of the adventure and proposed travel route, some severe weather conditions should be expected along the way. It's quite a brave attempt considering that an autogyro has an open cockpit! Not to mention the long stretches of open water that need to be covered. To make this possible, Norman's gyro was fitted with extra fuel tanks which will extend the normal 300 mile range to 800 miles. Then there's the challenge of relying solely on the pilot's own visuals since he's not allowed to use instruments to navigate (gyro rules). Finding fuel in remote parts of the world may also present to be a problem.

Video - Gyrox autogyro circumnavigation of the globe

Gyrox Goes Global from Gyrox Goes Global on Vimeo.


Norman recently beat a bout of cancer and this motivated him to embrace life more intensely. He will raise funds for Bowel Cancer UK during the trip.

You can track the Gyrox via the SPOT GPS.

Related link
Autogyro circumnavigation of the globe - Norman's website
GyroxGoesGlobal - Norman's blog
Norman Surplus - Facebook Read more on "Circumnavigating the world in an autogyro"!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

MWeb announce cheap uncapped broadband

MWeb significantly cut broadband prices today with a new full range of uncapped packages. This is truly fantastic news to South Africans since these sort of prices have been long overdue. South Africa is now slowly but surely getting in line with the rest of the world as far as broadband prices go.

South Africans are used to data caps where you have to constantly monitor your bandwidth usage every month to ensure you don't go over your data limit. When you do go over the monthly limit you are either cut off completely or you have to top-up your data (Gb's) at additional costs. Usually an expensive exercise.

However, with MWeb's new uncapped ADSL packages, those days are over. Now you can download as much as you want for a fixed price, the way it should be! There were other uncapped products in the market before this but they were quite expensive. MWeb's new packages are quite affordable.

MWeb's new uncapped packages
(Can sign up from 22 March, available from 1 April)

CONSUMER products: Shaped, month-to-month)

Data only (therefore excluding line rental from Telkom)
  • Uncapped ADSL 384Kbps: R219
  • Uncapped ADSL 512Kbps: R299
  • Uncapped ADSL 4096Kbps: R539

All inclusive (data and line rental)
  • Uncapped All-inclusive 384Kbps: R349
  • Uncapped All-inclusive 512Kbps: R599
  • Uncapped All-inclusive 4096Kbps: R899

BUSINESS products: Unshaped, 12 month contract)

Data only (therefore excluding line rental from Telkom)
  • Uncapped ADSL 384Kbps: R499
  • Uncapped ADSL 512Kbps: R699
  • Uncapped ADSL 4096Kbps: R1 999

All inclusive (data and line rental)
  • Uncapped All-inclusive 384Kbps: R629
  • Uncapped All-inclusive 512Kbps: R999
  • Uncapped All-inclusive 4096Kbps: R2 259
Shaped - Web browsing and emails get priority on the network
Unshaped - All protocols on the network have the same priority, so whether you're browsing the web or downloading on a peer-to-network, you should get similar download speeds

Cheap, cheaper, cheapest

These are the cheapest uncapped broadband packages currently available in South Africa and will surely start a real price war amongst Internet Service Providers. MWeb is a big player and they have the ability to shake up the market. They're getting their international bandwidth from both the SAT-3 and SEACOM undersea cables. With the arrival of more undersea cables to South Africa, like WACS and EASSy during the next two years, wholesale prices for international bandwidth are expected to fall dramatically which in turn will lead to even cheaper packages for consumers of broadband in this country.

Terms and Conditions strongly worded - could put of power users!

MWeb's ADSL Terms and Conditions page (as on 18 March 2010) made me frown, especially paragraph 5.6 and 5.10:

5.6 You may not restrict, inhibit or interfere with the ability of any person to access, use or enjoy the Internet or the ADSL Services, or create an unusually large burden on our network, including, without limitation, continuously uploading or downloading streaming video or audio; continuous FTP uploading or downloading

Well, with an uncapped product I definitely expect to be allowed to listen to online radio streaming all day long if I wanted to, same goes for video streaming! Also, no continuous downloads allowed? That would effectively eliminate all power users. It will therefore be interesting to see how seriously MWeb enforces these conditions because if they do, I for one can't sign up with MWeb.

5.10 You may not use the ADSL Service for unattended automated operation, unless otherwise agreed. You may stay connected as long as you are actively using that connection. You further agree not to use Internet applications for the purpose of simulating network activity to avoid session inactivity disconnection.

Par 5.10 is simply ridiculous and hails from the days of dialup connections. The whole point of using ADSL is to be connected 24/7 in the first place.

Proof is in the pudding

One concern is that MWeb is not exactly renowned for their support levels if compared to other medium-sized ISP's and considering that they will get an influx of people signing up for these new packages, they will have to up their service levels considerably.

Network stability and contention ratios are also very important factors. Cheap broadband means nothing if your online experience suffers due to constant irregular browsing/download speeds. Hopefully MWeb won't have these issues because with these low prices MWeb is clearly vying for the position as market leader in the consumer broadband space in South Africa. It will be interesting to see what the rival ISP's come up with during the next few months!

The only other drawback is that Telkom owns the 'local loop' (lines from exchanges to your residence) and they charge a hefty line rental fee for it. It would be great if Telkom could lower (or drop!) the line rental in future because then South Africans will end up paying broadband prices that are truly in line with first world countries.

Related links
MWeb scraps data caps - Gadget
MWeb throws down gauntlet to rivals - TechCentral
MWeb's uncapped packages - MWeb
Read more on "MWeb announce cheap uncapped broadband"!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Netgear DG834GT router - 1.03.23 firmware released

Netgear DG834GT ADSL wireless routerThe latest firmware version 1.03.23 has been released for the Netgear DG834GT 108Mbps Wireless ADSL router.

The previous firmware versions (specifically 1.02.19 and 1.03.22) were sub-standard and frustrating to use, mainly because of DHCP problems and reserved IP address issues. According to Netgear these issues have been addressed in the latest 1.03.23 firmware version.

I upgraded to 1.03.23 and did some tests on my home LAN; the DHCP issue has been resolved. Nice!

Problem - Cannot delete Firewall Rules

There's a new bug in this version: If you select a Firewall Rule you created and select 'Delete', it just displays a blank page in the router interface. It does not delete the firewall rule! I tested it in several browsers: Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Opera. Luckily you can enable/disable a Firewall Rule but if you have a long list of Firewall Rules then it would have been nice if you could delete them to manage the list better.

Related links
108 Mbps Super Wireless ADSL Router - Official product page
My comments on previous 1.03.22 version
My comments on previous 1.02.19 version Read more on "Netgear DG834GT router - 1.03.23 firmware released"!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Forbes announces richest man in the world - Carlos Slim

Carlos Slim - Richest person in the world
Mexico's telecoms magnate, Carlos Slim HelĂș (age 70), has been announced by Forbes as the richest man in the world, overtaking americans Bill Gates (54) and Warren Buffett (79). It is the first time a person from outside the USA leads the rankings since 1994 when Japanese billionaire, Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, held the top spot.

Carlos Slim's net worth is estimated at US$53.5 billion! Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp holds the second spot with US$53 billion and Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, third spot with US$47 billion.

Top 10 richest people in the world (Source: Forbes)

2010: Top 10 richest people in the world

Patrice Motsepe - Richest person in South Africa
South Africa's mining magnate, Patrice Motsepe, and Johann Rupert & family are tied at #421 with a net worth of US$2.3 billion each.

Other interesting facts
  • There are 1011 billionaires in the world this year, up from 793 last year.
  • Asia's richest person is Mukesh Ambani from India, ranked 4th
  • Brazil's Eike Batista had the biggest increase in net worth from US$7.5bn to US$27bn
  • Richest woman on list is Christy Walton (Walmart) at #12

The Forbes rankings are based on information including stakes in publicly traded and privately held companies; real estate holdings; and investments in items such as art, gems and yachts; and compiled as of the close of U.S. markets on Feb. 12.

Related links
The World's Billionaires - Forbes
Slim Overtakes Gates, Buffett to Become Forbes Richest Person - BusinessWeek Read more on "Forbes announces richest man in the world - Carlos Slim"!
Back to top