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Cape Town Storm – POTD May 22, 2009

Posted by baldricman in POTD.
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Like most people in Cape Town, I’ve received numerous emails today with photographs of the thunderstorm we had yesterday morning. I thought I’d post the collection of them all here – most of the pictures seem to be very widely spread already, and its been difficult tracking down the right people for credit, so most of the pictures below are currently “unclaimed”. Where I have the photographer’s name, its included. If you know who should get credit for any of the others, please mention it in the comments section.  (And thanks to Chris for being the first to send me some pics 🙂 )

The storm reminded me a little of what it was like living in Pietermaritzburg (where I grew up) – intense thunderstorms are nearly a daily occurrence during the summer months. In Cape Town its pretty rare to get thunder, and what you do get is generally not much to talk about.

Well, to the pics (that you’ve probably already seen!) – just a quick disclaimer: because of the nature of viral emails, I can make no claim that these pictures are actually from the storm yesterday morning! But, they’re real perdy, so enjoy them anyway!

by Lisa Scott

By Lisa Scott

By Lisa Scott

Another 7 pics below….

(more…)

Back in Boots May 18, 2009

Posted by baldricman in Hiking.
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9 comments

Well yesterday marked a bit of a milestone for me: I did my first hike since injuring my ankle in September last year! *fanfare*

And it was really great to pull on my boots, stuff my daypack full of “what-if” equipment, and get on the path again, albeit a pretty straightforward one. The lucky venue for our hike: Silvemine Nature Reserve. Silvermine, part of the Table Mountain National Park, has long been one of our favourite haunts for quick ‘n easy day hikes. Its close by, it’s paths are kept in great condition by the staff, it has a stunning and very accessible display of fynbos (something I know all too little about), and offers an absolutely astounding, near 360-degree view including Noordhoek, False Bay, Cape Point, the flats, and best of all, Hout Bay.

We made a pretty late start for a change, arriving late morning. The group consisted of wifey and I, her parents, and their 2 dogs, and we started off with the terribly sedate but beautiful river walk. I must point out that this walk is very easy and therefore quite suitable for people of all ages and all fitness levels…  hence the choice for my first walk. The path is pretty easy-going, fairly level, and there is a lot of shade. The river walk follows, surprisingly, a small river that has its source at the Silvermine Reservoir. As such its best (in my opinion) to do the walk after some heavy rain, so that the reservoir has overflowed a little. Its a very pretty little path that meanders through a mix of some fairly dense fynbos as well as indigenous forest. The walker also gets to experience all the beauty of trickling streams and gushing mini-waterfalls!

Waterfall - Riverwalk

Silvermine - Riverwalk

Upon reaching the end of the path (the River walk is a “there-and-back” affair) we headed up the gravel track that winds its way around the mountain, heading up towards Noordhoek Lookout. We didn’t go far along this road however, but instead took a small footpath off to the left after only a few hundred metres. This path surprised us with a great little spot overlooking False Bay and the flats for a coffee break, and then guided us safely back to the main river path again. Total trip, according to my GPS (which I haven’t been able to use since the ankle-incident!!) was roughly 7kms.

 

So it looks like the hiking thing should become a regular activity again, especially considering our goal to get back into the overnight hikes we are so keen on. And Silvermine looks like it will regain its title, for us, as the steady regular spot for our “training”, to get in shape again.

If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend you give it a whirl. The entrance fee is very reasonable (I think about R15, but we use Wild Cards anyway… a very worthwhile investment).
I’m thinking of putting up a proper description of the normal walk we do (which is nearer 10kms): this walk includes a spectacular view over Hout Bay (mentioned earlier). This is unfortunately the best picture I could find of the view, but I think it will g ive you an idea of what’s on the cards. Either way, I’ll replace it as soon as I find a better shot, somewhere in my archives… 🙂

Hout Bay

Hout Bay

Fire in Loop Street May 15, 2009

Posted by baldricman in News.
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5 comments

Well this morning on my way to work, in amongst the inordinately high number of incidents on the traffic report, was a small piece on a fire in Loop street. It sounded at the time like it was a Backpackers, but I wasn’t paying too much attention as I didn’t register (in my pre-coffee haze) that it was right outside our offices. (I will try confirm the building shortly – UPDATE: Two Oceans Backpackers lodge)

So a chunk of Loop street was blocked off, but when I eventually got upstairs into the office, I managed to take a few pictures of the aftermath. Unfortunately, I only had my uber-crappy phone-camera for the task, and so most of the pictures are, well, uber-crappy, and rather boring. I’ve included the best (yes, I know…) below.

I’ll update this when I can find some more information out. All I know is that the building looks pretty much gutted (in my professional rubber-necker’s opinion), and I saw at least one poor sod walking around barefoot in just t-shirt and shorts. (I’m making the assumption he was involved, as he looked a tad shell-shocked). I’ve also just heard, very sadly, that there have been a number of fatalities, but again, I don’t know any further details.

Loop Street FireSome of you may remember or be aware of the recent fire at the Touchstone Building just down the road, roughly two weeks ago. There is a good set of photos here if you are interested. These were taken with a real camera… A news article about the fire can be found here at The Times.

**UPDATES

Ok, some details have been cleared up by the article News24 have just published, over here. Tragically 4 guests were killed, and 7 injured. (They say “at least 4”, and I’ve already heard one rumour that not all guests are accounted for at this time. Lets hope that it is just a rumour…)

some more pics here

Afrigator launches Gatorpeeps May 11, 2009

Posted by baldricman in News, Tech.
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Well I just got word this morning of a new micro-blogging platform that has been launched to blog users making use of Afrigator’s blog tracking and aggregation services (aimed primarily at African blogs, as the name suggests). The new Twitter-like tool is called Gatorpeeps.

So, why create another tool when Twitter is so widely-known, and effective? Well, according to Afrigator’s MD, Justin Hartman:

I believe this is even more true in Africa as we simply don’t have the penetration that other developed countries have. Also take into consideration that the mobile phone remains the African version of the PC and as such micro-blogging addresses both penetration and accessibility problems. If you take Gatorpeeps into this context, couple it with the fact that less than 5% of Afrigator users have Twitter accounts then you’ll see why launching a micro-blogging platform to our audience is in fact a wise move.

See Justin’s blog post about the move over here:Afrigator tried to buy Twitter, we launched Gatorpeeps instead.

So, I’m going to try it out for a bit and see how things pan out. And, I guess we’ll have to create a whole new set of jargon to replace “tweets” and “twits” and so on…

Here’s the link again: Gatorpeeps

**UPDATE
Ok folks, I’ve been playing on Gatorpeeps on and off now for the past few hours, and have to say I’m really enjoying it. This coming from a guy who still isn’t convinced about Twitter. Or maybe I’m just biased towards a lekker-local product eh? Seriously, if you’re at all interested or active in blogging or micro-blogging, try it out. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Also, for another take on it, check out Stii’s post here. Stii is the self-professed “Code Monkey at Afrigator”, so he probably knows what he’s talking about… 🙂

 

Lolz, “N00b” soon to be officially in English language May 8, 2009

Posted by baldricman in General, News.
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7 comments

I’ve always been fascinated by the English language, and while still in school even went so far as investigating the job opportunities for etymologists. (People would usually respond with something like “What,  you want to study bugs?!”). Although I am easily frustrated by poor spelling and grammar in official, corporate, marketing, or media usage, (I too have been called a Grammar-Nazi…), I’ve become very relaxed in casual conversation, writing, and “interweb-speak”. (Oh, and blogging, in case you were wondering).

Influences: English Vocabulary

Influences: English Vocabulary

I’ve even been known to throw in a few buzz-words from time to time, though don’t like to talk about it much. All in all I think that while its important to maintain the commonly agreed-upon rules of a language, it is also necessary, and exciting, to see the language grow, while we use it. According to some opinions, the English language grows by about 25 000 words, per year. That’s a lot. English of course is usually seen as having its origins mostly in Latin, French, and the Germanic languages, with more minor influences from Greek etc, but one can’t forget that a staggering amount of “new material” is added from scientific, medical, technical or other fields.

And that’s where the title of this post comes in. According to Global Language Monitor, the millionth word in English could very well be “noob”, and within the next few weeks. From TechRadar (full article here):

Global Language Monitor acknowledges new words once they have been used 25,000 times by media outlets, social networking websites and in other public sources.

So what is a noob? Well if you don’t know, then you probably are one. In short, it’s just an evolved form of “newbie”, as in a rookie, or “nozzer”.

But, check out this page on the Urban Dictionary for a great description.

Driving + Cellphones May 4, 2009

Posted by baldricman in General, News.
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5 comments

I get very frustrated by the many people who drive everyday in peak traffic, while talking on their cellphones. You can spot them immediately, because they look drunk. They drift gently across the road, back and forth; their following distance is erratic, breaking is either early or late, often unnecessary, and their cars buck with every gear change. And the worst part is, they don’t have a clue its happening.

I just read another interesting article on the dangers of using a cellphone while driving, that my brother sent me. It may be news to many people that using a handsfree kit while driving doesn’t really help that much. Its only purpose is to keep your eyes on the road a little bit longer, but the impaired concentration of doing 2 tasks at once (conversation and driving) is the real danger. Obviously, until handsfree kits can answer your questions for you, you’re better off just staying off the phone entirely, while driving.

I’ve also read studies that indicate talking on the phone while driving (again, with handsfree kits) is equivalent to driving under the influence of alcohol (I couldn’t find the article I read originally, but here is a reasonable substitute, from an American study)

Anyway, according to the article, the current penalties and fines in the UK are doing little to curb this dangerous habit, but:

Only by making it socially unacceptable can people be convinced to get off the phone when driving, and even then it won’t be easy.

drivingFinally, check out this little game from the British Department of Transport, which is quite illustrative of the dangers. Bear in mind that if you try it out, you are probably giving the attention extra effort, and even if you “pass”, 81% of people don’t.