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My Otter Trail Hike (February 2017)

The Otter Trail hike is one of the more popular of South Africa’s many hiking trails. It is a five day trek starting at the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp and follows the coast for +/- 45km (+/- 28mi) towards the Groot River estuary at Nature’s Valley.

Situated entirely within the Tsitsikamma National Park, the Otter trail is  both beautiful and challenging, definitely a worthwhile bucket list hike and worth the one year waiting list.

My Otter Trail experience was during the week of 13th to 17th February 2017, and what a wonderful experience it was. The weather was great and the hike, while challenging (Day 3 hurt me the most), very rewarding.

Here is a selection of my Day 1 to 5  in pictures:

Four Tools to Help you Become a Data Analyst

Gathering and analysing data has changed how business decisions are made and how resources are allocated. Through a better use and understanding of data, the business managers can plan and enable better strategies with increased confidence. When understood, the companies data can increase administrative efficiency and add competitive advantage – data analytics provides new insight and actionable intelligence.

Data analytics is the process of examining raw data. Understanding the processes underlying that data, discovering the patterns and drawing conclusions about the information and then communicating the results in a way that has the biggest possible impact.

So what are some of the tools available that will help you analyse your businesses data and become the data analyst that makes the correct data-driven decisions?

Read my full blog post here: Karabina Software Blog – Four Tools to Help you Become a Data Analyst

A night looking at the sky

Last weekend past I went out on a single night camping trip at the Bushtrail holiday camp past Magaliesburg for an evening of stargazing hosted by The Exploration Society of Southern Africa with the assistance of The Astronomical Society of Southern Africa.

Bushtrails was selected for its distance from Johannesburg (or any other town), the fact that they had camping facilities , an open rugby field to set up the telescopes for the evening, as well as the fact that nearby neighbours were kind enough to keep their outside lights off during the night.

The stargazing actually started at around 4pm when the first astronomer setup his solar telescope and pointed it at the sun (the most obvious star in the sky :-/ )

Solar telescope with astronomer Chris explaining the detail we are seeing

The sun was being relatively active on the day and it was great fun looking through this heavily filtered telescope to view the solar prominences and solar filaments (solar flares & sun spots) in real-time.

The other telescopes for the regular night sky stargazing were all set up by time the sun set and it was very interesting to note that most of the guys has very large home-made reflecting telescopes.

Home-made telescopes – more economical to build yourself and work just as well.

Evening viewing

The early evening was spent focussing on the Spica, Saturn, Mars set with Saturn being the main focus the rings around Saturn being in clear view even when using the weakest of telescopes available that evening.

Spica, Saturn, Mars

Spica, Saturn and Mars (early evening) – Original

 

Late night sights

The rest of the night (from 19h00 to 04h00) had various smaller astronomical sights to view, the rise of the Andromeda galaxy, Uranus, various globular clusters, a faint comet and a couple of shooting stars an educational and fun evening all around.

Camping in the cold!

The evening was a chilly one, and I discovered that having a good sleeping bag (rated correctly for the cold) is very important. Not having one for the evening (my current sleeping bag is old, worn and definitely not sub-zero rated) left me fully clothed, in a tent, in the sleeping bag, shivering without stop – one of my most uncomfortable camping nights ever! Lesson learnt I will be getting a new sleeping bag next week.

Quick Windows Server 2008 R2 – SQL Server Firewall setup

Setting up SQL Server 2012 I received the same warning I have always received when setting up a SQL instance on a new Windows server:

SQL Setup Support Rules – Firewall Warning

So I executed my handy Windows Server Firewall batch file for SQL to set up the default ports on the Firewall, which executed successfully, but I noticed the following warning during execution:

Warning – netsh firewall is deprecated

After a quick check I updated the file with the new correct script options (I have left the original script lines in, just commented them out for reference:

@echo =========  SSRS Ports  ===================
@echo Enabling SQLServer default instance port 1433
REM Deprecated: netsh firewall set portopening TCP 1433 "SQLServer" 
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="SQLServer" dir=in action=allow protocol=TCP localport=1433

@echo Enabling Dedicated Admin Connection port 1434
REM Deprecated: netsh firewall set portopening TCP 1434 "SQL Admin Connection" 
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="SQL Admin Connection" dir=in action=allow protocol=TCP localport=1434

@echo Enabling conventional SQL Server Service Broker port 4022  
REM Deprecated: netsh firewall set portopening TCP 4022 "SQL Service Broker" 
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="SQL Service Broker" dir=in action=allow protocol=TCP localport=4022

@echo Enabling Transact-SQL Debugger/RPC port 135 
REM Deprecated: netsh firewall set portopening TCP 135 "SQL Debugger/RPC" 
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="SQL Debugger/RPC" dir=in action=allow protocol=TCP localport=135

@echo =========  SSAS Ports  ==============
@echo Enabling SSAS Default Instance port 2383
REM Deprecated: netsh firewall set portopening TCP 2383 "Analysis Services" 
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="Analysis Services" dir=in action=allow protocol=TCP localport=2383

@echo Enabling SQL Server Browser Service port 2382
REM Deprecated: netsh firewall set portopening TCP 2382 "SQL Browser" 
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="SQL Browser" dir=in action=allow protocol=TCP localport=2382

@echo =========  Misc Applications  ==============
@echo Enabling HTTP port 80 
REM Deprecated: netsh firewall set portopening TCP 80 "HTTP" 
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="HTTP" dir=in action=allow protocol=TCP localport=80

@echo Enabling SSL port 443
REM Deprecated: netsh firewall set portopening TCP 443 "SSL" 
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="SSL" dir=in action=allow protocol=TCP localport=443

@echo Enabling port for SQL Server Browser Service 'Browse' Button
REM Deprecated: netsh firewall set portopening UDP 1434 "SQL Browser" 
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="SQL Browse" dir=in action=allow protocol=TCP localport=1434

@echo Allowing multicast broadcast response on UDP (Browser Service Enumerations OK)
REM Deprecated:netsh firewall set multicastbroadcastresponse ENABLE
netsh advfirewall set currentprofile settings unicastresponsetomulticast enable

@echo Complete, Check your results.
pause

 

You can download this as a Windows batch file here: [download id=”5″]

Hope it make your future installs easier.

Tested on:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Sp1 while installing SQL Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 while installing SQL Server 2008 R2

Sources:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc771046(v=ws.10).aspx

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/947709

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/949543

 

Note: This script is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied – use of this script is at your own risk.

Welding – A new hobby

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/serenitbee/6812020407/

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/serenitbee/6812020407/

A few months ago I needed perform some minor repairs to a metal railing which in turn required the use of the welding machine that I had acquired from my dads’ dusty store room.

I managed to fix the metal railing but the result was not very neat or very strong (the repair fortunately does not need to take load)

A couple of weeks after the railing repair a colleague at work was discussing general home renovations and he suggested we both try to improve our dismal welding skills by going on a welding course that he had spotted online.

The course offered was a half day introduction to stick welding; Starting with a short introduction to the theory of welding, types of welding, welding equipment and welding safety.

Once all the theory was covered the training moved out to a little workshop where the students could try our hands at actual welding first on an angle iron to get the feel of how to weld (with the instructor on hand to inform us on what we were doing wrong with our technique), then on to two pieces of metal to work on our joining techniques.

After we all had a go and most of us were comfortable with the equipment we moved on to the project of the day  welding together a beer can chicken holder.

From Wikipedia:

…beer can chicken, beer butt chicken, dancing chicken or chicken on a throne) is made by standing a prepared chicken upright on a partially filled can of beer and cooking it slowly in a barbecue or oven. The can goes into the opening of the chicken so that the beer evaporates and permeates the cooking chicken…

The result of my effort; a functional and relatively neat beer can chicken holder is below (it is amazing what a little bit of grinding, sand paper, elbow grease and a lick of paint can do to finish off a job nicely)

P.S. I have used my holder twice since I made it to great success on my Weber Grill.

HTC Desire S – Unable to download Google Play application updates over wireless

I recently had an issue where I was unable to download application updates on my Android phone.

Error Message:

  • Error: Update for “<application>” could not be downloaded due to an error. (495)

Phone details:

  • HTC Desire S
  • Android 2.3.5
  • HTC Sense 3.0

After much searching I eventually used these two different options to resolve my issues:

Option 1 – Clear phone download manager cache:

  1. Settings > applications > all applications > Download manager > Clear cache
  2. Settings > applications > all applications > Google Play > Clear cache
  3. Restart phone
  4. Attempt application download again.

This resolved some of my update issues (3 of 6 outstanding updates downloaded successfully over wireless)

Option 2 – Wireless network is blocking a required port for the download:

  1. Disable phones wireless connection
  2. Switch on your 2G/3G connection
  3. Attempt application download again.

This resolved the balance of my download issues and once all the current updates were successfully downloaded and installed the error with wireless downloads has corrected itself (future updates downloaded successfully over wireless).

Hope this helps if you have similar issues on your android device.

Enjoy what you do?


I loved this statement 5min in: “Pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table

– –

I have found over the years that money, good money, for the work I do is a great incentive initially but if I am not enjoying what I am doing – if I am not growing – I will move on.

Large Prints – My Epson Stylus Photo 1410 Experience

A couple of months back my wife completed a photography course and following the course she purchased a Canon 450D digital camera.

Taking photos, getting the right light, getting that perfect shot, is all well and good, but looking at the results on a computer screen does not always do the photo justice.

The normal process to print the brilliant shot was to save it onto a flash drive, take that drive to the nearest (half decent) print lab and have them print the photo to the size needed; this process is all well and good if the photo lab gets the print right, the lab is open, the lab is currently able to print and you have the right amount of money. Photos are sometimes ridiculously expensive (especially for the A3 size)

So how do you avoid the above troubles?

Epson Stylus Photo 1410 A3+ printer
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Website/Blog/Life – The updates

Nasty little bugger

I have managed, after much fighting and arguing, invited the flu in for a visit – as per usual the chap is going to stick around for a week (or two), then leave without so much as leaving a thank you note.

I do not normally get sick – I may get a sniffle for a day (during which time I am the worst person to be near because I am a ‘carrier’ of said sickness) the next day I am healthy and well but every other soul within a 5km radius has the full blown flu.

For me to get properly sick (as I am now) I must have completely ruined my immune system by doing something stupid, and in this case it was overworking the brain – behind the computer screen – without rest for the past 5 weeks.

Busy Worker: The Office
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The difficulties of writing


Go Away. I iz writing my memoirs… Image credit: misshepeshu

The difficulty of blog writing

Maintaining a blog does not usually come easy, most of us in the blog space need to work really hard to maintain our blogs outside of our regular work, and with the need for regular and interesting content updates, the odd blog/website design change, replying to comments, and managing your online persona in general – all while attempting to win one of the categories in the next Blog awards – Suddenly having a blog may seem more work than it is worth.

For some (including me) blog writing is not our main talent, words do not seem to flow as easily as it does for those that place beautiful prose on the web with little to no effort.

Suggested writing inabilities aside, even if you have the most wonderful and interesting stories to share; should you forget to post on your blog one too many times (the biggest bloggers sin I am guilty of) you will watch it die a slow and often painful Internet interest withdrawal death. Should you allow this this fatal blog sickness to pass, reviving your blog to its former glory will be one of the most difficult online things you may ever do.

What I am doing to repent my blogging sins

The final result? Unsuccessful blog that will remain obscurity or Successful blog revival – I will investigate, and hopefully find, the root cause within myself and my daily/general habits that lead me down the path of the “once every three month post” blogging style my own blog is now following. A studied choice which will offer me one of the following result options:

  1. Should I keep this blog and maintain it properly (an all round improvement) OR
  2. Permanently archive my blog (maintaining my current “Odd occasion and blue moon posting” habits) OR
  3. Remove my blog entirely – let Twitter be my blog

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50 Things – A meme

Compliments of Heidi I have been tagged (for the first time mind you) to fill in this 50 question internet meme.

So without further ado:
OJ Coffee Ice Water
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?

1. Do you like Blue Cheese?
I dislike the smell enough to have never tried blue cheese. Will let you know when I do.

2. Have you ever smoked heroin?
Nope.

3. Do you own a gun?
Nope, and doubt I ever will… Went shooting at a range with some friends a few months back – Guns do way too much damage way too easily.

4: This number is missing.
Nope. See.. number 4. is right there, just a little left of “This”.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments?
Not since my first HIV test 10 years ago.

6. Real or fake nails?
I save the fake ones for special people on special days – I will tell no more.

7. Favorite Christmas song?
I worked in retail for 5 years. There are none that I still enjoy.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
Orange Juice (the fresher the better), Coffee, Ice Water – In that order, and preferably all every morning.
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JHB March Tweetup Recap

Fun at a meet

I enjoy social networking; it allows me to keep in touch with friends, family, and sometimes complete strangers relatively easily from the comfort of my desk.

I love meeting people; As much as social networks keep me in contact with my friends when I am stuck behind my desk, I still crave the interaction of actually meeting someone face-to-face and chatting about life over a coffee or a beer.

Going to the Twitter meet at The Baron in Santon last night was definitely the most fun way to meet the like minded souls I know online, get the face-to-face interaction I crave and as an added bonus I got to meet a whole bunch of new and interesting people and play with a couple of cool gadgets.

One of the cute/fun gadgets that floated around the table during the evening were the social contact sharing Poken devices, which I believe are only recently trying to make a mark in the South African scene. The Poken is a small USB / RFID reader that can “high-five” another Poken device, thereby transferring your pre-selected social network contact details to the other Poken.

The whole process is a much quicker and easier (albeit geekier) way to share contacts than trying to figure out how to spell a Twitter username into your phone or even trying to save a phone number (I remember the days I tried to get a number in a noisy club and couldn’t hear a word that was said).

When you get home, you plug in the USB portion of the Poken and it will update your selected online social network with the details of all the users you high-fived during the night.
Panda Poken
I recall that the panda and the bee versions were popular among the ladies at the tweetup, and if you have a unique design, and have a need for a few extra Poken (say for corporate gifts) then you can get your own unique Poken design made.

The venue and service was good, even with us moving around a few times and being with some rain it didn’t bother us too much.

I had an absolute blast meeting and chatting with @SheBeeGee, @SnowGooseSA, @nickjackson, @Walterpike, @snappingturtle and our guest of honour from Cape Town @gabyrosario. I will definitely set time aside to get to a meet like that again.

Thank you all.

My pictures of the event are up on my flickr page and I will link to @craign’s photos as soon as he puts them online here and here .

Go here if you are interested in buying any Poken in SA.

UPDATE: Heidi has added her update of the evening on her website. A little more articulate than my post.

Not New Year Resolutions

As the first month of 2009 draws to an end, the dust on most of the New Year resolutions is settling, I start to re-look at all the goal lists I have made in the past, review what I have completed, and add the items I want to do going forward.

I don’t call these lists “New Year” resolutions because they often have longer time requirements to complete that a year and I don’t always start at the beginning of the year (Some are added in July).

So without further preamble, here is my current TODO list:

  1. Increase my gym attendance from twice a week to 4 times a week.
    This relates to losing some of the weight I have gained over the past few years and needs to be done in conjunction with following a healthier diet plan. Healthy eating and healthy lifestyle got me  partway there, will revise this under a new goal with some specifics soon. (August 2012)
  2. Get my Honours Degree out of the way.
    This requires starting it (currently in July 2009) and finishing it in one to two years. New company with new changes, may revisit degree options in future, but currently I have updated a few of my Microsoft certifications (January 2012)
  3. Get one business off the ground and start another one.
    This is half done with the start of Devmaxis (in partnership with three colleagues) and two business contracts secured. I would just like to have some more options outside of that businesses scope and therefore need to push for Darwinshome into its own niche markets.New Job, New responsibilities, New goals – Will revisit this one in 5 years  (November 2009)
  4. Do more for my online and offline communities.
    I’m sure, subconsciously, that this is a refection of one of Barack Obama’s statements working its magic. Doing more for my community (real life socially and in a Web 2.0 sense) is a broad way of saying I have many little plans that I just need to finish. This should help kick the brain into gear if I forget.
  5. Pay off my car.
    Some changes in work circumstances has placed me in a position to settle my car a year to a year and a bit early. So following up on actually doing that before August 2009 is a must.Finally paid off in January 2010
  6. Purchase a new high end personal laptop.
    I am still unsure as to what machine I want, and I have been looking very seriously at the new MacBook. But this is where spare cash comes into play – I will make this a goal to complete before the end of November 2009.New job gave me the laptop in November 2009
  7. Develop one application outside of work.
    Be it a twitter application, a Facebook application or a custom built web application. This serves twofold in that it helps expand my own skills and it could also be used to either benefit my business or social goals.
  8. Save enough spare to cash to take my wife overseas.
    USA would be nice, but my wife has her heart set on Europe – can you blame her? Italy here we come. Visiting Australia to see an old friend in October  2010 (Europe can wait another year)

I am sure there are more things to add (like “Blog More”), but for this post I think this list will do for now and actions do sometimes speak louder than words, here is the first step. I will update any on the list that I complete (if they can be “completed”).
Have a great 2009.

New Designs all around

new site designThe regular visitors to my website would have noticed the new website structure and design that I finally got together; to say that I am proud of my work would be understating the huge pride I have in my website.

Humbleness aside, I have not been the only website to recently update it’s design:

TheOpenSurgery an open source and tutorial based website by Jason Dugmore recently finished with updating a new layout and logo.

TechMongrel another technology based tutorial and review website by Matthew Vorster had a great monster logo addition.

And lastly NoBoxMedia an Ajax, DHTML and JavaScript site by Robin Pietersen finishes off my list of new website updates (the Noboxmedia website update coincides with a SEO competition which springleap.com is currently running).

All three website owners are colleges from my University days and I believe these are excellent examples of great websites, for content and design, to assist any developer in today’s chaos of information.

A special Thank-you to Robin Pietersen for introducing me and teaching me the basics of Adobe Photoshop; I wouldn’t have been able to put my current or past website designs together without the initial teachings I got from him.

Social Networking Images and Links

Getting your blog (and blog posts) out there into the Big Wide Internet can be difficult at the best of times, but trying to get people that do visit your website to help you out shouldn’t be.

Social Networking websites like Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and Facebook all have methods to allow their users to submit links to web pages that they find interesting, funny or just worth sharing. Allowing these users to quickly and easily add your blog post to their favorite website is a must for any blogger.

Below I have started making available the images I made for use on darwinshome (both the current size of 20px X 20px and the previous incarnation of 45px X 45px). Listed with the images are the links used to submit your website page to that Social Networking website.

This is not currently the full list of all the social networking websites available, as the weeks progress I will add more to the list until complete.
After a few weeks I will also design a wordpress plugin, to join the ranks of many like it out there, using the images and links listed.

[YOUR LINK URL] means the full URL of your blog post on yout website (eg: http://example.com/post/ )
[YOUR LINK TITLE] means the full title of the submitted page (eg: My Blog Post)

In alphabetical order:

Bloglines
Bloglines image small Bloglines image medium
http://www.bloglines.com/sub/[YOUR LINK URL]

De.licio.us
de.licio.us image small de.licio.us image medium
http://del.icio.us/post?url=[YOUR LINK URL]&title=[YOUR LINK TITLE]

[More images and links after cut]
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JavaScript / XML based Country, State Selection Script

JavaScript Country Selection listUPDATE 26 January 2009: Fixed the XML file load Bug that was affecting Chrome and Safari

Making use of my XML based Country and State/Province file I have put together a small script to populate two drop down lists with the complete Country and the selected countries Province or State list.

The code is ALL client-side based, so it will suffer from browsers without JavaScript enabled, but it is a very fast and light weight script to use if you want to quickly add a Country and State selection box to your registration forms. This script does not require any database to function.

Demo page
[download#1]

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