Friday, 16 December 2016

on the internet redesign refers

1. Bitcoin already exists. Use it.

2. I agree about email. it's trivial to forge.

3. Privacy is important - don't mistake that. Sometimes you do need to tell someone something without them knowing who you are - anonymous whistleblowing on crime, corruption and abuse, for example. If you destroy anonymity you stop not just the Snowdens, who you might be against if you're right wing, but you also stop abused spouses from speaking up, gay people who are being abused, kids being abused at school who need to report the abuse, etc. Anonymity and privacy are critical.

4. What we really need is distributed services. I'm predicting a P2P internet and the death of the server room.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

gautrain stealing money

Do not order multiple tickets at a Gautrain station - you will lose your money and have to pay R 42 to reclaim it.

1. I ordered three tickets at a machine and it gave me one (after I paid) and didn't issue the other two; it magically went into "maintenance" mode.

2. It charged me R 195 for three tickets at R 50 each. Strange, I would think that R 50 x 3 = R 150. I realise you want to charge for the piece of plastic but actually no. That's not cool.

3. I bought a week pass a few weeks ago. Turns out that if you do not use the money on a particular day, e.g. you drive to work instead of catching the train, you FORFEIT that money. Not cool. I lost two days' transit fees. That is THEFT.

So their latest response is that I must do all kinds of acrobatics to get my money back AND they're going to charge me a R 40-something fee for the pleasure. Forget it, I am just going to advertise this on my blog now. Their response follows. In short, all the acrobatics below will earn me R 100 back, IF they decide to pay me back. Useless.


1. Please complete a Refund Application form at your nearest station, clearly indicating the reason for requesting a refund.

2. Please have your Gautrain Gold Card and positive identification document either ID, driver’s license or passport and a stamped bank statement showing a transaction made at Gautrain with you when you complete the refund application form.

3. The refund application form will, on the same day that you complete it, be sent to the Customer Service Officer at the station where your refund request will be analysed.

4. The refund amount is calculated by using the discounted fare per trip as applicable to the specific period product, to a maximum of the number of unused trips on the specific period product. You will be charged a R42 admin fee. Refunds can take up to 14 working days to be processed depending on the complexity of the refund.

5. This amount will be refunded into your Gautrain gold card, or make sure that you have either your current account or savings account details as refunds cannot be processed onto a credit card. Kindly note that no cash will be refunded.

Friday, 21 October 2016


I’ve not posted since April because of my current work (ICT project for government). When more is available I’ll announce it here. Let’s just say it’s probably the biggest ICT initiative in government, and private sector, in this country. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

linguistic distance and archaelogy

I reckon if you take Grimm’s law (changes between sounds) and numbers of vowel shifts, and calibrate this against distance moved between the exemplar tribes, using some basic vocabulary like numbers, family members, words for body parts, etc., you can apply the resulting measures of linguistic distance to geography, and then go digging to find artefacts.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

how to clean silver

Step 1. Take piece of aluminium foil, or aluminium pot.

Step 2. Place tarnished silver in pot or foil in direct contact.

Step 3. Add baking soda or baking powder (sodium bicarb)

Step 4. Add boiling water or bring to the boil.

Step 5. Wait about 10-30 minutes (keep checking the object)

Step 6. Voila. Clean.

How does it work? The sulphur in the air reacts with the silver, tarnishing it. When you use bicarb and hot water, it forms an electrochemical cell (like in a car battery) and transfers the sulphur to the aluminium. After the reaction you will notice a sulphur smell if you sniff the aluminium foil.

1. Tarnish: 2 Ag(s) + H2S(g) → Ag2S(s) + H2(g)

2. Polishing: 3 Ag2S(s) + 2 Al(s) → 6 Ag(s) + Al2S3(s)

Polishing silver

Monday, 29 February 2016


you saw it here first.

technogogy: the use of technology in pedagogy.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

how to fix the economy and delete plutocracy/oligarchy

Just make it mandatory that 90% of shares in any corporation are reserved for employees, and that a minimum of 50% are owned by current employees, with the other 40% for past employees. This will have the following effects:
- greater equality, with parasite investors only getting 10%
- existing employees will actually see the benefits of the company they're helping to grow
- existing employees will work harder because they know that they'll get shares if the company grows
- bosses will be reluctant to fire anyone because the person fired will still get shares
- hiring practices will be more stringent because you know that you're choosing a new shareholder, not just a slave.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

why email must go.

There are many problems with it. For example, it's not actually part of the SMTP protocol that you have to authenticate, so faked and scam emails are easy to create.

Secondly, it doesn't default to encryption. You have to tell it to do so.

Third, it's got complex and unstandardised rules about detecting origination; there are about five different techniques (for more on which, see my book on amazon). None of the techniques are reliable.

To make matters worse, gmail and others now have a policy of marking mail as spam if it does not come from a large authenticated email provider; meaning that one more or less now has to sign up with a very large corporate, such as hotmail, gmail, etc., to ensure that ones email goes through. And gmail's user interface is terrible, as is the backend. For example, it doesn't actually create folders; it merely 'labels' emails.

Because it's easily faked, fraud and scams are possible, and tricking or phishing are easier to do, because the confirmation of the source is harder to achieve.

Those are just the technical problems.

Then there are psychological problems. So, for example,

1. people don't read it properly, and reply "above" messages, so they ignore a lot of points or respond badly, or miss points.

2. people don't read the tone benevolently; they read it defensively, and get defensive easily. Granted, this happens on other platforms, but because it's not dynamic and responsive like chat protocols, the exchanges get out of hand more easily.

3. people don't understand nice protocols like deleting surplus 'thread', causing mails to get too big; they reply and include original attachments, again sending big messages; they reply-all by default, causing embarrassments; they CC rather than BCC, causing exposure of others' private details, etc.

4. they use it to pressurise you / create stress. It's trivial to send another email, it's not trivial to phone someone repeatedly; it encourages micromanagement and harrassment.

I therefore recommend that people use the social network platforms to communicate, as it forces users to sign up with their actual name and phone number (e.g. facebook, linkedin).