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Mr. Robot… Give it a shot!

“Is it that, we collectively thought that, Steve Jobs was a great man? Even when we knew he made billions off the backs of children. Or maybe it’s that it feels like all our heroes are counterfeit. The world itself is just one big hoax. Spamming each other with our commentary bullshit masquerading as insight. Our social media faking us into intimacy, or is that we voted for this? Not with our rigged elections, but with our things, our property, our money. I’m not saying anything new, we all know why we do this. Not because Hunger games books makes us happy, but because we want to be sedated. Because it’s painful not to pretend, because we’re cowards. Fuck Society.” – Elliot

IMDB Link for Mr Robot IMDB

Android Starter’s Pack

Ok, new year, poor start to the blog… but I think it’s time to put a list or two together… Let’s start here…

The apps every android phone should have!

Here is a quick list and if you expand the post you can see the detail and screenshots:

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OK, been a quiet few weeks so what better way to start off the new year than with another Android game, this time a big one from Google!

Yes, it is Ingress that i speak of 🙂 When I say big though, I don’t mean in file size, but rather in scope. I’ll get into some of the details soon, but for now, here are some screenshots to whet your appetites:

image image

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To find the most concerning fact that is hidden somewhere in their fine print (I have not yet found it, but I have been told it’s there somewhere…) go to the last few paragraphs! (Look for the bold…) For the detail, read on:


Ok, I’ve had quite an infuriating weekend, well, luckily only as far as the internet goes. Basically, I’ve been wanting to go try an uncapped option over 3g and I’ve been pointed to MTN… but this has just gone from bad to worse. I’ll go through the details now:

All seemed to be going fine when I activated a R50 1 day uncapped bundle (the detail from their site is as follows:

“Best suited for always on, internet users, MTN 1 Day will give you uncapped internet access for a day.”)mtn1

This went fine and as expected (after reading the fine print), after the 150MB had been used the speed dropped to 256kbps (that’s 0.25 megabits per second or 0.03125 megabytes per second) and subsequently I was not seurprised to find the total over a 2 hours period of downloading to be 2.5Gb (though by calculation, the 256kbps + 150MB should have at least reached 2.8gigs, but we can’t expect a perfect connection here in SA can we…)

It is here that the problems started. I then purchased a new MTN bundle (the R50 one again) and went through the process of activating it via USSD interface (as used before), after the final submit for activation (I won’t get into how irritating it is to have to confirm every single action on USSD…) I took the modem out and placed it into my router.

I had bee out for the rest of the day btu upon arriving back home I see that nothing is connecting… So finally I plugged the modem back into the computer only to find that the bundle had not actually been activated. This means that due to some fault on MTN side (accepted through one of the many attempts to get support on this) my airtime had been drained (over R300).

I has bounced between many places when trying to get support, but finally found a relative voice of reason with a lien manager at head office around midnight on Sunday (I had basically been on the phoone since 8pm trying to sort this out so the poor guy had to deal with someone not in any way that could be described as happy.)

He accepted that they would refund R50 for the bundle but it is my problem that R300 extra rand had been lost due to the malfunction on MTN side as I had “received the service” (a service that was not chosen by me but automatically used by the MTN systems due to their fault and so at a rate of R2 per MB as opposed to NO extra airtime use while the bundle is active.)

After much heated argument I accepted that there is nothing else he could do for me and that I would just have to deal with having lost over R200 due to an MTN fault.

This brings us to the crux of the matter though, the most alarming that I find (even though it was a far lower loss financially):

I re-activated the bundle that was refunded (leaving R51 of airtime on my sim) and made certain that I disconnected the modem 20 minutes (at least) before the passage of 24 hours. I have just found that somehow I only have R44 airtime left!?!

Again calls to 173 (prepaid service) and I finally was told that due to the fact that I used the internet from more than 1 device, MTN charged me for the extra data stream! This is something that would probably go unnoticed on  contract and so please do make sure you are not having this ‘small’ R6 siphoned from your account if you use the R50 bundle.

I checked my downloads and have confirmed that I did not receive more than 2.7 GB during the 24 hours and that means that although I was NOT allocated any more bandwidth, I paid extra for the same connection. As I tried to explain to the latest line manager (back to an techno-ignoramus I was sad to accept) if I had been given extra bandwidth for the extra connection  it would make sense (though I would still be upset) that a fee could be charged.

I was assured that this is in the legal somewhere on MTN but as said, I cannot link you to it yet, I am still to find it. This is hardly making the consumer aware of these extra costs and so I’m sure there is something for the CPA here.

Long story short, I am really feeling defrauded by MTN after this weekend, though I am apparently supposed to accept it because it is policy!

3G Data Costs in SA

So just thought I’d put my research into a useful form for more than just myself. Looking for the best 3G option left me with the below data in terms of costs and quantity of data downloaded. The lower the better in this case (being Rand per 1Gig) and so when averaging it is plain to see that CellC have the best option.

What this doesn’t take into account though are call costs, coverage and data speed. For the areas that I use, CellC also win on all of this but it may be different depending on location.

The final thing this doesn’t take into account service, but with the idea currently being “Which sucks less?” I can basically make my decision based on the data below:

FYI, the lines are bundle size in megabytes and detailed down the right. If the network did not have the bundle, the graph makes use of their per meg rates to calculate what it would be.

If you’d like to see the data beneath let me know. This is based on advertised rates for all providers for November 2012 in South Africa.


Well, now here’s a great one. There have been many of these remote access type apps but this is the best I’ve used and just as you start wondering on the costs… AirDroid! It’s also the first completely free one! (Well, first I’ve found or was shown).

So, I think using the “picture tells a thousand words” mindset, let me just show you some screenshots and list the features and you can then just go ahead and download it… oh wait, decide whether you want to… and then download it 😉

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Mini Rant

So just a minor irritation I have regarding some CellC marketing… I see one of their latest deals has an age calculator which is fun… but on looking at a latest HTC, the age response is:

Which is fun… but excited by the prospect of an even newer phone, I indeed clicked the Sandra range button and got this poor showing here:

Now, sure, I know I’m bit of an HTC fan (for anyone who dislikes HTC from use prior to Android.. that was your problem… Microshaft to be exact. The hardware itself has apparently always been solid!) and that makes me place the One X above the S3, but even if we go right down the the details… they are essentially the same inside and more importantly, where released in the same month! Has CellC not learnt from the whole 4Gs saga?

Anyway, they still have the best performing network for 3G (yup, I have sim cards for all ISPs…) and now with Vodacom apparently dropping HTC again (at least on the Vodashop site) I’m still gonna have to lead this way… so thought I’d share the request I sent to the CellC sales team:

I want the HTC One X but also need high speed data. The One X+ would of course be preferable, but if CellC are ignorant enough to think the S3 is younger than the One X (referring to the faulty age calculator statement on the MAMBO5 deal… another CPA case?) , I’m guessing you don’t have the X+ yet.
But, with all it’s faults, I still have been getting the best 3G speeds from CellC so the best of bad options is OK? Anyway, I’d like to discuss moving from VodaCON

Update: Still haven’t heard from them…

TouchPal Keyboard

So, for my first Android update I want to talk about the keyboard and then specifically the TouchPal keyboard


Click here to find it on the store

As you can see, I’m writing this using it right now. But even before that, let’s look at different keyboard types in general:

Here we’re talking about your normal keyboard which most likely has a dictionary built in which you should be able to use by enabling or disabling auto-complete.

When we say an intelligent keyboard, we want to see some kind of artificial intelligence at work. In the best cases the keyboard learns how you chat and can eventually, from a few words or even letters, guess what you want to say.

Swipe keyboards are of course only on touch screen phones but like auto-correct back in the 6310 days, has the ability to revolutionise the way you write on your device.

For all the features, including many items from special effects and skins to changing the actual keypad type and voice recognition, I suggest checking the store page. And so, I’m not going to go into a massive multi-page review (though I’ve definitely done enough testing between free options and trial versions) so let’s skip to the closing paragraph of said fictitious and pretend it was just a tl;dr moment we passed 😉

So in conclusion: The standard keyboards are really just boring now and only there for those famous iPhone moments. All the intelligent keyboards that I managed to test (such as those with trials as the best are generally not the cheapest apps) either did not have any swipe functionality or didn’t really graft with the intelligence anyway. And of all the swipe keyboards, TouchPal seem to have the most stable and relatively smartest option available, including some intelligent correcting, though in no way comparable with AI keyboards… It also ended up faster to swipe than using AI or auto-correct, particularly with the TouchPal keyboard’s ability to ‘guess’ which key you where going for, even if you didn’t swipe directly over it (something the built in Android keyboard’s swipe option fails at.)

So, that’s my 2 cents… or so. I’ve been happy with TouchPal since I ran all the tests (HTC Desire HD days) and haven’t looked back since!

Just for the record, I tested this on the HTC Desire HD and I am now enjoying it on my HTC Sensation

My weekly Android Update!

So I’ve decided to do something about my ridiculously sporadic posting trend… I’m going to start a weekly Android update 🙂 Just something simple, most of the time giving a bit of a review of an app I’ve been using, maybe something dev related… but any too techie updates will come extra, not replacing the something for the masses! Gotta think of readership here 😉 In the long run maybe I can then make some useful pages like “My Favourite Apps” or something along those lines… but if nothing else, it will at least be somewhere for me to have all my best in one place. That said, I would of course appreciate any recommendations as well 🙂 For now, let’s start this thing already!

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi

First boot of my Raspberry Pi server

My brother was awesome enough with my folks to organise me this beauty for my birthday and I finally had a moment to play with it so prepped a quick bootable Debian dist on a spare SD Card and watched the magic unfold 😛 check here for more on it.