Category Archives: Thoughts

RIP Dave Stock

Dave Stock at AFB Ysterplaat in 2005

Dave Stock died in a crash at AFB Overberg on 14 November 2009 while doing what he loved, flying the English Electric Lightning.

He will be missed, not only by family and friends, but by thousands of air show fans like myself; who were entertained by his marvellous displays over the years.

This photograph was taken at AFB Ysterplaat on 3 December 2005, shortly after Dave and the Lightning had set a new African time to altitude record. I believe this record still stands.

False advertising from Dion Wired?

WindowClipping As I’m going to an air show on Saturday I ordered a larger memory card for my camera from an online retailer last week. It should have been delivered today but instead I received a phone call apologising for a supplier delay.  As I will only receive  the card next week I started looking around at local stores to buy a card before the show.

There’s a new Dion Wired store in Somerset Mall so I took a look at their web site and spotted a 4GB SanDisk Ultra II card for R399 and decided that’s what I would buy.

Knowing they close at 6pm I left work at five and stopped off at the mall. I was disappointed at first as there were only SanDisk Extreme III and Extreme IV cards on display; I wasn’t going to buy those as their extra speed is wasted in my camera and they are much more expensive. Luckily it turned out that there were some of the Ultra II cards under the counter. However they were marked at R419.95 and not the R399 I had been expecting. When I mentioned this to the person assisting me he said he would check, which involved him taking the card to a cashier and having her scan the barcode. When the scan confirmed the R419.95 price he simply said “That’s the price”. I thought that he might offer to give me the card at the price reflected on the web site, but no such offer was made. Even when I declined to buy the card at the inflated price he simply shrugged, as if to say “We don’t need your business anyway.”

Screenshot taken on 2009-11-12 

I understand that mistakes can be made and web sites may get out of debt but in cases such as this I would at the very least expect to be offered the product at the lower, advertised price. Their failure to make such an offer smacks of false advertising, intended simply to get you into the store where you may be willing to capitulate and pay the higher price. I am not prepared to do so and would rather take my business to a smaller store where I may have to pay that little more but where I can expect good service and will know that I am not being cheated. I will certainly think twice before considering Dion Wired as a potential shopping venue in the future.

Incredibly Expensive Connection

I’ve always thought of Incredible Connection as being a reasonable place to buy tech stuff. But two purchases I’ve made in the last week reveal that they are actually a rather expensive option when compared to other stores.

I’ve been needing an ink cartridge for a while now and was prompted to action by an e-mail newsletter from Digital Planet offering a special on the very cartridge I needed. After failing to find the product for a comparative price on Incredible Connection’s web site I went ahead and ordered it from Digital Planet as they had stock and could offer twenty-four hour delivery. Including a R60 courier fee the cost came to R270. On Saturday morning I was in Somerset Mall, popped into Incredible Connection and found that their price would have been R299.95.

A little later we were in PNA where my wife was buying some pens. I noticed that they had 8GB Verbatim USB sticks in stock and on finding they were R234, which I thought a good price, I bought one. On our way out of the mall I again stopped by Incredible Connection and found their price for the same USB stick was again R299.95. My wife suggested that Incredible Connection might be cutting costs by reducing the different price labels they need to print.

Clearly Incredible Connection are not the cheap option for tech items that I thought, so if you’re looking for such items I suggest you do some comparative shopping first so as not to find out that you paid a premium by buying from Incredible Connection.

Let’s not be L7

I have had a busy few days at work without much time to keep up with reading feeds, so I’m sitting here catching up on the feeds that have built up during the week. I saw Jeff Revell’s mention that the gallery for the walk he led was up on the official page so I went to check the page of the walk I took part in.

Sure enough the photos were up and I scanned the thumbnails to see what was there and check that my submissions had made it. It was only when I reached my own images, the last two, that I thought “Hey, one of those images doesn’t look right.” It took me a moment to realise what the cause was; the thumbnail was square and my images have the standard DSLR 3:2 aspect ratio. As the images below show, one of them is a minimalist photo that doesn’t lose much when cropped to a square, but the other one loses a lot.

In the case of the photo walk galleries, these are not clickable thumbnails but I have seen other sites do this and it concerns me that sites would use thumbnails that crop significant information from photographs. With all the millions of photographs out there that a potential audience might view, it’s vital that the first impression grabs the viewer’s attention to draw all possible viewers to your photograph.

So site developers, don’t be square and crop your member’s thumbnails; and photographers, think twice about signing up to and posting your photos to sites that are going to unfavourably crop your images.

Too Much Water

All of the water turning this road into a river fell in an hour while I was out. When I left home there was water backed up at the storm water drains on either side of the road, just around the corner ahead, but it had not yet met in the middle of the road. An hour later I arived home to find this.

Why does rainy weather …

… bring out the stupid in people? Heavens forbid this genius might have got a drop or two of rain on him or herself while popping in to the Spar.

Met Eish Ja!!

I wonder how owners of the Klipdrift brand feel about these guys poaching their slogan?

Cold callers leave me cold

I just answered a call on my mobile from the dreaded Private Number, stupid, I know. Fully expecting to hear the usual “Am I speaking to Mr. Steve Crane?”, I was suprised to hear “Am I speaking to the owner of zero eight three …” instead.

So cold callers no longer even have the decency to try any form of targeting, not even to find out who the number belongs to. That’s just rude and extremely annoying. I have had enough and will no longer answer calls from private numbers. If they choose to leave a voicemail I may return their call, or I may not.

I am also going to change my voicemail message from “Leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you”, to “Leave your name, number and the reason for your call and I may get get back to you”.

Social media: privacy and implied permission

Occasionaly I receive notification that someone has started following me on Twitter or has befriended me on some other social media service; but on visiting their profile I find that their updates are protected and I need to request permission to see them.

While I accept that people may want to keep their updates private I don’t understand the rationale behind it. Why would you want to join a microblogging service like Twitter, yet not make what you’re publishing public? If you’re using it to broadcast something not quite legal, why draw attention to yourself by creating a profile at all? If you’re simply paranoid about privacy, then perhaps you should reconsider your involvement in social media and stick to something more private, like e-mail.

The point I want to make relates to not being able to see updates from someone that has followed or befriended me. My feelings are that the act of you following or befriending me should implicitly, and automatically, grant me the rights to follow or befriend you without me needing to ask you for additional permission to do so.

Kudos to voting station staff

I have to thank the staff of the voting station at Charles Morkel Stadium in Strand for the assistance they gave my wife yesterday.

Seeing no need to rush to vote (stations were open for fourteen hours after all) we went along some time after 1pm. Sure enough there wasn’t much of a queue; perhaps 10 or twenty in the queue, so we quickly reached the door. Mela’s ankle is in a cast and she is on crutches and as soon as her ID was scanned she was whisked of into the hall and given a chair. Everything was done for her; the staff took her ID to have her crossed off the roll and brought the ink over to mark her thumb. A voting booth was carried over from the other side of the hall and put down right in front of her so she could make her mark from the chair. Finally her folded ballots were taken and placed in the box for her. She was rather chuffed with it all.