20 Dec 2011

Win free airtime from ehtime.co.za

ehtime runs daily airtime draws where you stand a chance to win airtime for the Vodacom, MTN, CellC, Virgin and 8ta networks. 

All South African cellular providers are catered for - just visit ehtime.co.za and select the draw that you would like to enter:

Enter your cellphone number... (ehtime does not share or sell any numbers)

and you will be entered into the draw for the day.

Then, at 4pm, If you are selected as a winner, you will be notified by SMS at the cell phone number you entered with and you will receive your airtime PIN in a follow up SMS - So make sure your number is correct! 

If you don't win (or even if you do), you can always enter again tomorrow, even from a web enabled mobile phone.

All the best! 

8 Nov 2011

Free SMS to South Africa

Free082SMS has been offering Free SMS to ALL South African mobile networks (including 8ta, Virgin and Red Bull Mobile) since May 2011 (in addition to SMS within the Vodacom, MTN and CellC networks). 

Here's how to send Free SMS to any of your friends in South Africa!

1. Select the Free082 SMS option from the homepage at Free082SMS.co.za 

2. Read through the explanation on the login page: SMS are topped up periodically through out the day so you'll need to check back later if SMS reserves are low when you try to send, or you can try one of the other free SMS options instead; SMS are sent from a generic number, so you need to include your own name/number in the SMS text; noreply.free082sms.co.za (valid link) is inserted at the beginning of your SMS to let recipients know that replies are not supported and to assist them with abuse. Click 'Login' (and tick 'Remember me' to skip the login page next time).

3. Type your SMS message (including your name and contact number), enter a valid South African recipient in the 08x1234567 format and click 'Send'.

4. A status message will confirm that your SMS message has been sent.

5. Your friend (at 0811234567) will receive the SMS and can reply (to your number) for free from Free082SMS.co.za! (works great on PC and mobile)

7 Oct 2011

GEMP (Medicine) at Wits - How to not get accepted


 June 2017 Update: "Based on general comments I have received over the years I would like to explicitly state the point of this article up front: Don't let anyone tell you that you can just keep going through the motions, ticking boxes and that you will eventually get into medicine by trying for long enough (or for having enough passion) - There is a high chance that things will not work out and you will probably be left at least a little bitter about the outcome. In addition to this, I would like to draw specific attention to the fact that I do not make any reference to race in this post or any of my comments related to this post."

Johannesburg, South Africa 

First attempt
  • Start by nurturing a passion to become a doctor for as long as you can remember
  • Add a natural aptitude for science and technology
  • Participate (and perform well) in sport (first team rugby), cultural activities (play the piano from age 7) and academics at school (and be a prefect)
  • Get a basic first aid certificate
  • Donate spare time to volunteer work in hospitals and clinics
  • Complete an IEB matric at a Jo'burg private school with results that are good enough to be offered a place in electrical engineering (where the academic entry requirements are higher than for medicine)
  • Apply for entry into first year medicine at Wits Medical School (2001)
Second attempt
  • Complete a Bachelor of Science degree in human anatomy and physiology at the University of the Witwatersrand
  • Make special arrangements to complete a basic life support (BLS) training course from the American Heart Association (this course is run for qualified healthcare professionals) - Get higher test results than qualified healthcare professionals who are on the course with you
  • Continue volunteer work at a christian primary healthcare clinic
  • Make rural hospital visits with an old (practicing) professor of surgery
  • Apply for entry into the Graduate Entry Medical Programme (GEMP) at Wits Medical School with a respected surgeon as your referee (2004)
Third attempt
  • Accept an offer to join the experimental physiology honours class at Wits Medical School
  • Contribute to the medical research community by collecting cardiovascular data that is published in the American Journal of Physiology
  • Help second year medical students in physiology lab tutorials (one of  whom didn't know what diarrhoea is and another who was repeating second year medicine for the 3rd time - painful, but true stories)
  • Apply for entry into GEMP at Wits Medical School again, this time with an A rated physiology Professor as your referee (2005)
  • Get excited when you are short listed for an interview
  • Mention that you want to "help people" during the interview
  • Have the dean of student affairs warp your answers and talk over you for the remainder of the 'interview'
Move on
  • Reinvent yourself
  • Get on with life in a completely different field, continue to "help people" in other ways and don't feel too bad that the only thing you've really sucked at so far (in spite of a rather wasted medical background), is getting in to study medicine at Wits Medical School...

4 Oct 2011

FSMS versus Free082SMS - Free SMS in South Africa

FSMS is fast becoming (if not already) the dominant Free SMS website in South Africa. Stats from December 2010 showed that FSMS is generating more than 2 million page views a month from more than 35 thousand users, sending an average of 25 thousand SMSes per day.

Technology investment company World of Avatar owns a 50% stake in the company and FSMS boasts South Africa's only free two-way SMS service (SMS are not sent from the senders own phone number, but replies can be picked up on the website).

FSMS is sponsored by on site advertising and in targeted ads appended to the bottom of outgoing SMSes - Demographic information is collected during the registration process.

Free082SMS is a small fry in comparison to FSMS but users can send Free SMS from their own cellphone numbers so replies are delivered directly to the sender's phone as long as the original SMS was sent using a Vodacom, MTN or CellC account. Free082SMS does offer Free SMS to other South African networks as well, but replies are not supported for this option. Free082SMS is sponsored by on site advertising and self promotion in Free SMSes.

Free082SMS generates around 450 thousand pageviews per month with more than 3 thousand Free SMS sent from the site every day.

Free082SMS.co.za is more niche than FSMS.co.za but both sites work well and it all comes down to personal preference really. But please share your preference in the comments below...

17 Sep 2011

Download YouTube videos onto your BlackBerry to eliminate "Buffering..."

I haven't been able to find a BlackBerry YouTube app that buffers video decently. So my experience when watching YouTube videos on a sub standard connection (384 kbps ADSL over WiFi) has mostly gone something like this...

Yes, it's "Buffering...", but the problem is that my BlackBerry will not continue to buffer video unless it's playing the video at the same time. You can't press pause and wait for the video to buffer up front so it can be watched without the "Buffering..." interruptions. Frankly this makes for a most annoying and unusable experience.

There is a nice simple solution though. Download the full video directly on to your BlackBerry device before you start watching - and yes, it can be done!

1. Search for your video on http://www.vuclip.com

3. Click to download the Hi(gh) or Reg(ular) quality video onto your BlackBerry Media Card

4. Open the video in Media/Videos

5. Enjoy uninterrupted video playback...

Tip: Start downloading your next video while you watch!

31 Jul 2011

Jebo R338 Tank with Comet Goldfish

So I've decided to try something different and swop out my usual tropical fish for a few goldfish - 3 comet goldfish to be precise. I'm using my current Jebo R338 setup, minus the heater and I've added an air pump with an airstone for a nice bubble effect. I haven't needed to modify anything else and the new goldfish seem to manage just fine with the current created by the powerhead.

The Jebo R338 actually makes for a superb, low maintenance goldfish setup. I'm really enjoying the brilliant (goldy) red of the comet goldfish and they have more presence than tropical fish I have had in this tank before. They are also very active little chaps, so a lot of fun to watch!

26 Jul 2011

Latest blog post title in email signatures

I put a PHP image script together that reads the latest title from any RSS feed and creates a .gif image that contains this title. So the image can be placed anywhere once off and it will automatically update with the latest RSS feed title as new content is published. The image could be embedded in an html email signature for instance and the title of your most recent blog post will automatically be appended to all your outgoing email. I'm sure there are other uses for this code as well - It requires PHP and cURL and can be tweaked to accommodate different requirements, just be sure to go through the code and update your RSS feed URL (line 18), copy the font(s) you would like to use (lines 39,40) to the same directory as the script and perhaps change the text colours ~line 90 and anything else as you need to.

Embed the image with this image tag:

<img src="http://yoursite.com/latest-blog-post-rss-image.php" alt="http://yoursite.com/blog" border="0" />

Include a link to the front page of your blog to make the title clickable:

<a href="http://yoursite.com/blog"><img src="http://yoursite.com/latest-blog-post-rss-image.php" alt="http://yoursite.com/blog" border="0" /></a>

Here is the code for latest-blog-post-rss-image.php


//Parse text block for value near search defined by offset and length / end tag
function parse($block,$search,$offset,$length,$endtag="") {
$start = strpos($block,$search) + $offset;
$end = $start + $length;
$value = substr($block, $start, $end - $start );
if ($endtag != "") {
$value = substr($value,0,strpos($value,$endtag)-(strlen($endtag)));
if ($start == 0) {
$value = "";
return $value;

//RSS feed to get title from
$rss = "http://yoursite.com/rss.xml";

//read the RSS feed using cURL
$ch = curl_init();
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HEADER, 0);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL, $rss);
$result = curl_exec ($ch);

//extract the first (and latest blog title)
$title = parse($result,"<item>",0,300,"<link>");

//trim the title and extract html tags
$title = strip_tags($title);
$title = trim($title);

//set image fonts and positioning
$size = 7.5;
$labelsize = 7.5;
$font = 'arialbd.ttf';
$labelfont = 'arial.ttf';
$x = -1;
$y = 10;
$angle = 0;
$label = "Latest blog post: ";

//Get an array of rss title words to facilitate word wrap
$words = explode(" ",$title);

//Force the image to word wrap around this approximate length (pixels)
$labellength = imagettfbbox($labelsize, 0, $labelfont, $label);
$maxlength = 350 - $labellength[4];
$line1length = $labellength;
$line1 = "";
$line2 = "";

foreach ($words as $word) {
if ($line1length[4] < $maxlength) {
$line1 .= $word . " ";
$nextword = $line1 . $word;
$line1length = imagettfbbox($size, 0,$font, $nextword);
} else {$line2 .= $word . " ";}
$line1 = trim($line1);
$line2 = trim($line2);

//determine image dimensions based on rss title length and including the label text
$line1length = imagettfbbox($size, 0, $font, $line1);
$line2length = imagettfbbox($size, 0, $font, $line2);

$totallength = $labellength[4] + $line1length[4];

//Set the image height for 1 line or 2 lines
if ($line2 == "") {
$height = 12;
} else $height = 24;

//set canvas dimensions (based on blog post length) and height
$gif = imagecreatetruecolor($totallength+1, $height);

//set background colour to white
$white = imagecolorallocate($gif, 255, 255, 255);

//fill image with white background and set as transparent
imagefill($gif, 0,0, $white);
imagecolortransparent($gif, $white);

//Print rss title onto image if it's not blank for some reason...
if ($title != "") {

//set text colors R,G,B
$text_color = imagecolorallocate($gif, 255, 149, 6);
$label_color = imagecolorallocate($gif, 0, 5, 85);

//Print blog post label into image
ImageTTFText($gif, $labelsize, $angle, $x, $y, $label_color, $labelfont, $label);

//Print blog post line 1 title into image
ImageTTFText($gif, $size, $angle, $x+$labellength[4], $y, $text_color, $font, $line1);

//print link underline
ImageLine($gif, $totallength, $y+1,$labellength[4]-1,$y+1, $text_color );

if ($line2 != "") {

//Print blog post line 2 title into image
ImageTTFText($gif, $size, $angle, $x+1, $y+12, $text_color, $font, $line2);

//print link underline
ImageLine($gif, 0, $y+13,$line2length[4],$y+13, $text_color );


//output blog post title image
header("Content-type: image/gif");

23 Jun 2011

BBM (BlackBerry Messaging) from any web enabled PC or phone

A large number of mobile users access Free082SMS from BlackBerry devices to send free SMS to their friends who don't have BlackBerry smartphones and so can't use BBM. Web to BlackBerry messaging functionality has recently been included to enable all users to send messages to BlackBerry pin numbers from any pc or phone.

1. Select the "BlackBerry Messaging" option at Free082SMS

2. Provide your name and cellphone number (for replies)

3. Compose your message and enter a valid BlackBerry pin recipient

4. Your message will be queued for delivery

5. BlackBerry pin message notification

6. BlackBerry pin message

13 Jun 2011

Vodacom 3G versus MWEB ADSL (speed and latency)

UPDATE: I have since upgraded my ADSL package to a 1Mbps line and speedtest.net latency is now closer to 20 ms...

My MWEB ADSL line is pretty trusty, but it has been offline at some inconvenient moments, so I signed up for the 2GB + 2GB 3G special from Vodacom.

I picked Vodacom specifically because I know that the Vodacom 3G coverage on my BlackBerry is particularly good in my area, the 2GB of night owl data is a nice value add and it just makes my billing simpler (being with Vodacom already).

I was expecting 3G to be much faster than my 384 Kbps ADSL connection, and it is by miles, so no surprise there. But, I was also expecting the latency on my ADSL line to be much lower than on the 3G and it’s not! Not that I’m complaining at all – I’m super impressed/happy that Vodacom 3G is so much faster than my ADSL connection and the latency is lower or matched at worst. It’s wireless and a completely suitable ADSL replacement (see the speed test results below).

Skype (with video) call quality is improved dramatically and it becomes a pleasure to watch YouTube videos on 3G instead of ADSL (more waiting than watching). I am not much of a gamer though, so I haven’t tested online gaming performance, but I would expect the 3G connection to beat the pants off my ADSL on this front too (based on the far superior Skype call quality on 3G).
Anyway, I’ve got to say a big thanks to Vodacom on this one – The R149 a month is a steal for this truly excellent connection - I am a very satisfied customer and no sweat if the Vodacom network ever goes down – I still have ADSL…

I should just add a disclaimer that 3G performance will vary, depending on your location and network coverage but Vodacom 3G really works great at my place!

MWEB ADSL speedtest.net results*
Vodacom 3G speedtest.net results*
MWEB ADSL MyBroadBand speed test results (international)*
Vodacom 3G MyBroadBand speed test results (international)*MWEB ADSL MyBroadBand speed test results (local / South Africa)*
Vodacom 3G MyBroadBand speed test results (local / South Africa)*

*Tests were repeated more than once and images were picked to show trends. Yes, I know this is not scientific, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the 3G really pumps!

6 May 2011

Right click and delete key crash windows xp and hibernatation issue [solved]

Windows XP was throwing its toys whenever I right clicked a file or tried to delete a file with the delete key. More specifically it was throwing the errors: “Dr Watson Postmortem debugger” and “Data Execution Prevention”. I scanned my disk for physical errors, found some bad sectors and fixed them, but this didn’t help anything. I also excluded malware from the mix by running a full Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware scan and found nothing. I was coming to terms with the sad prospect of a full re-install.

But then I thought "what if one of the multiple software extensions that insist on installing themselves into my right click context menu were breaking something?" I found this little tool, ShellExView that specialises in removing shell extensions.

I disabled all the extensions that were not manufactured by Microsoft and bam, instant Fix! So easy, I didn’t even need to reboot! I could right click and delete files again.

As an unexpected side bonus, my computer will finally hibernate again. Before, Windows XP would start “preparing to hibernate” but would then jump back to the desktop no matter what fix I tried to implement. I had disabled drivers, deleted the hibernation file and all sorts of other things I can’t remember - I had given up, but it seems that the real issue was hiding somewhere in the shell.

I have no idea which right click extension was causing the problem but I’m much happier with just the Microsoft defaults and my PC is running much faster now too!

14 Apr 2011

Send HTML email with an attachment from PHP

It took me a painfully long time to find a PHP script that could send multi-part email (with plain text / fancy HTML body content) and an attachment that actually worked! But I have adapted this excellent script to suit my needs (excluding output buffering). So reposting it mostly for my own reference... hopefully it can help some other poor sods out too.


$htmlbody = "This is an <b>html</b> message";
$textmessage = "This is a plain text message";

//Set Recipient Address
$to = "recipient@domain.com";

//Set Email Subject
$subject = "HTML email with attachment";

//define the from \ reply to headers
$headers = "From: yourname@domain.com\r\nReply-To: yourname@domain.com";

//create a unique boundary string to delimit different parts of the email (plain text, html, file attachment)
$random_hash = md5(date('r', time()));

//add boundary string and mime type specification
$headers .= "\r\nContent-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=\"PHP-mixed-".$random_hash."\"";

//read the atachment file contents into a string,
//encode it with MIME base64,
//and split it into smaller chunks for sending
$attachment = chunk_split(base64_encode(file_get_contents('attachment.zip')));

//define the body of the message.
$message = "--PHP-mixed-$random_hash\r\n"
."Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary=\"PHP-alt-$random_hash\"\r\n\r\n";
$message .= "--PHP-alt-$random_hash\r\n"
."Content-Type: text/plain; charset=\"iso-8859-1\"\r\n"
."Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit\r\n\r\n";

//Insert the plain text message.
$message .= strip_tags($textmessage);
$message .= "\r\n\r\n--PHP-alt-$random_hash\r\n"
."Content-Type: text/html; charset=\"iso-8859-1\r\n"
."Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit\r\n\r\n";

//Insert the html message.
$message .= $htmlbody;
$message .="\r\n\r\n--PHP-alt-$random_hash--\r\n\r\n";

//include attachment
$message .= "--PHP-mixed-$random_hash\r\n"
."Content-Type: application/zip; name=\"attachment.zip\"\r\n"
."Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64\r\n"
."Content-Disposition: attachment\r\n\r\n";
$message .= $attachment;
$message .= "/r/n--PHP-mixed-$random_hash--";

//send the email
$mail = mail( $to, $subject , $message, $headers );

if ($mail) {
echo "Mail sent!";
} else "Mail not sent!";


2 Apr 2011

Vodacom goes red, like Vodafone

I've always wondered if Vodacom would ever adopt the Vodafone branding and yesterday it happened! Vodacom has rebranded to align themselves more obviously with Vodafone who now own 65% of this South African mobile services provider. Vodacom has retained their name (Vodafone + Telkom from the old days) but it's been updated to the Vodafone type face and 'quote' logo. The Vodacom blue has also been replaced with racy Vodafone Red.

Hopefully the new look and feel won't require much more than a few cosmetic changes to the Vodacom website on the back of the Vodacom4me migration, however Vodacom is promising that the rebrand will come with much more than some new lipstick and will accompany many welcome improvements including network upgrades and customer service enhancements. I think the new look is awesome! and I am looking forward to all the new changes. @Vodacom is doing a great job on responding to all sorts of customer queries about the new look on Twitter and I caught this 'historic' image of the old Vodacom logo while it was still cached in Vodacom's Twitter feed, capturing a little piece of Vodacom's brand evolution...

DefZA is in the process of updating his free SMS website to make use of vodacom.co.za since vodacom4me.co.za is now officially offline.

Free082SMS.co.za has also been updated to cope with the new website changes. The new Red Vodacom website at www.vodacom.co.za went down (understandably) as I was typing this post, but I was surprised by this very decent Vodacom maintenance page, which is a welcome improvement on any Vodacom error pages I have seen before.

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, even if it means Vodacom is only going to start dealing with problems in a more elegant manner - A welcome change, even if they will not be retiring Mo the Meercat.

22 Mar 2011

Home made mouse trap for a live catch

We had a little guest move into the kitchen the other night. A house mouse was living up in the base of the fridge and my first thought was poison, but after chatting with my wife, I decided to try something more humane.

This home made setup requires:
  • A plastic bucket or bin that is about 50cm deep
  • kebab stick (or similar)
  • Paper
  • and peanuts (the bait)

Set the trap for a live catch:
Suspend the paper over the bin using the kebab stick as precariously as possible. Then place a few peanuts on the paper at the side furthest from approach. Make sure there is no other food around to cause distraction and then vacate the area.

We decided to use peanuts and raisins since the little chap had already exposed his desires by chewing at the bag while it was on the counter the night before. I set the trap at the edge of a stool in the kitchen so that the mouse would have access to the top of the bin. He must have been hungry because I saw him scouting the kitchen while we were still up and the light was even on. But it didn't take long before we heard a small crash and the mouse was caught!

I relocated the little fella to the back garden where he dashed into the safety of the bushes. I know there's a chance he'll be back for more peanuts but we'll see I guess...

20 Mar 2011

Sony Walkman NWZ-W252 mp3 player review

I have had my new Sony Walkman (NWZ-W252) for just over a week now and it is without a doubt the most convenient portable music player I have ever owned (my fourth mp3 player). I've used it every day since I got it and it's helped me to realise that convenience is at the top of my requirements for an every day music player.

This particular model of Sony Walkman is convenient because its all in one design integrates the player into the headpones, so there are no cords to tangle on anything and no player to put in your pocket or clip on your shirt. I've come to think of this player as a set of headphones and refer to "it" as "they" like a set of headphones.

"They" are designed with running or exercise in mind which makes them very versatile. I have washed the dishes and easily changed my clothes without removing them. They are great for listening to music while you are on the go, doing all sorts of activities. They are even water / sweat resistant, though a slightly cheaper non-water resistant model is available as well.

The design incorporates in ear headphones that deliver well balanced sound quality. Noise from the environment can easily be eliminated with the volume up, so do take care if you are running on the road. The headphones are connected by a sturdy cable that runs behind the head. Play and volume controls are embedded into the right ear piece, and there is a shuffle button on the left ear piece. A water resistant cap protects the standard USB mini connector and the ear pieces are held together by a magnet when not in use that turns the player off automatically. Sony also provide a plastic "carrier" that keep the headphones together and prevent magnetic leakage to protect your credit cards during storage.

The theme of simplicity continues when you connect this player to your Windows PC (I tried XP and Windows 7)* - It is detected as a Walkman device automatically and music can be copied directly to the player directory, so zero additional software is required but Sony does supply proprietary software if you would like to use it to create playlists and configure the Zappin functionality. You can play with your music line up while the Walkman charges on its snazzy Sony cradle, the device takes about an hour to get a full charge and provides around 11 hours of playback time. I've also read that you can get up to 90 minutes of playback from a 3 minute charge, though I have not tried this myself yet.

I smiled when I first heard the Walkman say "Play" out of the box. Yes, it speaks, to tell you what features you have toggled including: Play, shuffle, playlists, directory navigation and Zappin. Zappin will play the most recognisable part of a tune if you've loaded your music using the Sony software, or it will skip to the 45 second mark and play from there. You can choose between "Zappin long" - a 15 second sample or "Zappin short" - a 4 second clip. Zappin can be a great way to mix it up if you are a bit bored with your current selection or not sure of exactly what you feel like listening to.

It's tempting to think that maybe Sony should have tried to squeeze an FM radio into the package or Bluetooth connectivity, but having said that I don't find myself missing any functionality and this Walkman would not be as beautifully simple and it really does what it does well! It's cool to make use of all the features on a gadget for a change and I can't really fault this excellent package that Sony have put together. If anything I would say that Sony need to work their marketing on this one - It has turned a lot of heads and sparked interest and conversation - clearly people have never heard of this great product, which is sad.

Seriously Sony, kit a few hot girls with this Walkman and get them into the gyms where people will take notice of this device and it's excellent versatility. There are far too many white ear buds around and so few people realise that there are other perfectly viable (and often better) options available. See more details at the official product page here.

*Note for Linux users: The NWZ-W252 is an MTP device so you will probably require a few tweaks to your box to get it working. I haven't tried this myself but an MTPFS install should get you on the right track. I also found more detailed instructions here: How to mount an MTP device as a drive.

20 Feb 2011

"The New Men"

"Already the new men are dotted here and there all over the earth. Some, as I have admitted, are still hardly recognisable: but others can be recognised. Every now and then one meets them. Their very voices and faces are different from ours: stronger, quieter, happier, more radiant. They begin where most of us leave off. They are, I say, recognisable; but you must know what to look for. They will not be very like the idea of 'religious people' which you have formed from your general reading. They do not draw attention to themselves. You tend to think that you are being kind to them when they are really being kind to you. They love you more than other men do, but they need you less. (We must get over wanting to be needed: in some goodish people, specially women, that is the hardest of all temptations to resist.) They will usually seem to have a lot of time: you will wonder where it comes from. When you have recognised one of them, you will recognise the next one much more easily. And I strongly suspect (but how should I know?) that they recognise one another immediately and infallibly, across every barrier of colour, sex, class, age, and even of creeds. In that way, to become holy is rather like joining a secret society. To put it at the very lowest, it must be great fun."

Extract from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

22 Jan 2011

Blackberry BIS over WiFi on SMS Roaming

I was in the UK with my Vodacom South Africa Blackberry Bold 9700 on SMS roaming. The setup worked great as I could SMS when I was out and about and make use of full BIS functionality when I was in range of a WiFi network. I was receiving push email, using Twitter for Blackberry, sending BBM and making use of all my applications as I usually would back in South Africa. BIS over WiFi really works great on the Blackberry Bold.

However, I made the mistake of inserting a Vodafone SIM card into my BlackBerry to make a voice call. I didn’t realize that Vodafone would push its Blackberry service book settings onto my BB automatically. So at that point my BB was reduced to plain old WiFi hot-spot browsing. I lost push email, Twitter, BBM etc. and I couldn’t find a way to restore my Vodacom BIS settings manually. I had to make do with using the BB browser (and Opera Mini) for all my web needs. Of course I could have just signed up for a BB data plan on the Vodafone SIM but I figured I would learn my lesson and just manage without BIS.

Within 10 minutes of returning to South Africa (and deactivating SMS roaming), I received push email on my BlackBerry again – Vodacom had restored my BIS settings. I don’t know if there is a way to prevent your BB from downloading provider service book settings automatically, but do be aware that your BIS can be messed up if/when you use an alternative provider’s SIM. This can be particularly troublesome when you are on SMS roaming, as you won't be able to get your native provider's BIS settings back until you return to their local network.

19 Jan 2011

Free SMS to MTN, CellC and Vodacom from your PC or mobile phone

Free082SMS has added CellC SMS and MTN SMS to its offering in the last two months. So it's now possible to send free SMS to the 3 largest cellular providers in South Africa.

CellC is the only provider limited by the fact that you need to have a CellC number to register on cellc.co.za in order to send free SMS on the CellC network. MTN allows users with non-MTN numbers to register and send SMS from mtn.co.za. You do need a Vodacom number to register for free SMS from vodacom.co.za, but non-Vodacom subscribers can also send free Vodacom SMS from any valid email address.

In other words the Free SMS offering now looks like this:

SMS to MTNSMS to CellCSMS to Vodacom
Subscribers5 SMS/day5 SMS/day20 SMS/day
Non-subscribers5 SMS/day0 SMS/day3 email to SMS/day

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