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Remember the days of beepers, then cellphones, and drat! All of a sudden everyone knew where you were all of the time. Gone were the days of telephoning someone at home, and by golly, they were actually home when you called. When you told a friend to meet at 16:00, you would both arrive at the same time. And, of course, being the little sister, I had to manage my popular brother Darrell’s entorage of repeat girls that kept calling the house, and have a list of prepaired excuses why he wouldn’t take her call. His room was extension 8 in the house, we had PBX.

So today you are being watched no matter what you do, you location is being tracked by your cellphone. That’s if, in South Africa, you subscribe to the service and agree by law on a monthly basis to be followed. Or, as a parent, you can always know where your grand-mother is (she really shouldn’t be driving anymore and getting lost anyway). The company Cellfind have an amazing service. The whole company uses maths, simple algorithyms, and triangulate your location using three base stations. And then, are able to send an sms, MMS of your location, or show your location on their website, but only as close as 990m.
If you have an asset, in South Africa you do not need a person’s permission to locate them. So vehicle tracking etc. are based on this conept. Problem is, what if your ex puts his cellphone in yoru car and hides it? He can still find you, as long as the battery on that cellphone lasts. I’ve been a victim of that with an ex, not the coolest thing in the world when he uses that information about you in court.

So where are we now? We have GPS navigation on our cellphones, and a range of amazing cellular applications with a variety of functions using LBS, that is Location Based Services. If you want to be found, CellFind have a service allowing you to send a code from your phone, saved as a speedial, which distributes a message to your preferred contacts. Amazing if you have a medical problem and a language barrier, but the company have focused on marketing it as a security and safety tool. What about a social text service, sending your 4 selected friends “PLEASE HELP ME” when on a blind date that is not working. The applications are endless.

Short wave and long wave radio I find to be fabulous, and I won’t get into details, but a whole city such as Vilanculous in Mozambique survived on SW, before cellular was introduced into the town and charged R2.85 per minite. It was more of a status thing I guess, and lets’ not doubt privacy too. On short wave radio your conversations are public, and very intriguing after midnight LOL.

What my point here is, that you don’t need fancy cellphones and social media applications to communicate, and let people know where you are, or when etc. Twitter is famous for status updates with a location, I loved twitter during the World Cup Soccer in Johannesburg (frantically trying to ‘accidently’ bump into the Dutch football team without success).

Let ‘s go back to basics, and remember that a system that is working shouldn’t be changed. Don’t think too advanced in terms of technology, when you already have something in existence that works. Just a thought here.

I love new advances in cellular such as Layar and augmented reality. Amazing when you can use your cellphone like a camera, turn the phone towards a building, and then a video pops up in front of you, of what a person posted last night, about “what really happened” at this bar. Evil thoughts…
Great for businesses, great for tourism, great for connecting with locals, and sharing information. Of course in Africa, we need power to charge a cellphone first, or use a cellphone as a torch when the power cuts, or when your laptop battery dies. Either way, we need a sim card and a service provider with signal where you are. Again, I’m just saying.

I love cellular!

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Internet Travel Agencies such as Expedia Take on Google

Well, imagine my surprise to hear that Expedia has headed a protest to Google. Apparently Google Inc.’s proposed $700 million acquisition of ITA Software, has been met with opposition by a coalition headed by Expedia.

Well I have all respect for Expedia. For years they have been one of the leader on-line travel agencies. I mean for years.

They basically scan other travel websites to get the best rates. Amazing concept. But not only that, they have also negotitated amazing rates directly with the operators, that you wouldn’t get on that own service providers website. I recently purchased a flight ticket to Canada with them for next to nothing, and find 24 hour call centre service to be really helpfull.

So yes, it is sad that competition does change things. But such is life. And change in technology and travel seems to be good for the consumer most of the time.

Lets see what develops!

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Yawn! Skype just got on the bandwagon to things Fring have done ages ago.

Ooooh. So now you can access Facebook through skype, and check status updates et al. But sorry, we’ve been able to do that for more than a year with Fring! Pity that app no longer allows you to use skype on you phone, it has really helped me in certain moments to make international calls. Have to hand it to skype though. I was in Madrid in August, and turned on my laptop. The wireless network at the airport was linked to skype, and my skype credit was used to give me internet access. Wow hey? Its a new feature from Skype that I didnt even know about. So thumbs up to them, and 1000 bonus points.

Today’s Top News

1. New Skype for Windows launched with Facebook integration

By Mike Dolan Comment | Forward | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

What’s the definition of perfect timing? How about when the latest release of your software showcases your partnership with a social network that just had a box office hit movie made about it. Skype’s latest rendition for Windows seems to be taking advantage just as the buzz machine surrounding Facebook is heating up. The latest release of Skype for Windows is making its new Facebook integration a centerpiece of its service with Skype users accessing their Facebook features right from their favorite VoIP calling system. Users can view the Facebook news feed complete with the latest status updates of their friends right from Skype. The integration also pulls in their Facebook contacts into Skype so that Skype calls and SMS messages can be sent right to their Facebook friends. Sure the latest party pics might deserve a poke, like or comment–all of which users can do right from Skype now–but they now will have the option of calling a friend and hashing out what really happened over the weekend. In addition to the new Facebook integration, users of the latest version of Skype will get to beta test the new group video calling feature. According to the release, 40 percent of calls over Skype in the first half of 2010 were video calls, so this is bound to be a popular feature. And now with all your Facebook friends at the few clicks of a mouse, multi-user video conferencing might be the 21 century party-line. For more: – read the release Related news: Skype Everywhere continues on Facebook Samsung releases Skype TVs Read more about: windows, video calling, Skype, Facebook back to top

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Opera Mobile coming to Android, not quite the French Revolution.

Ok so how many of us use the Opera Mini web browser on our cell phones??

Hands up! I am one of them. Its so much faster and very accomodating to me in Africa with slow internet access.

Very exciting is the launch of Opera Mobile for Andriod, as well as support for extensions in the new desktop browser.

Thats great news if you have an android phone. I don’t but hey, I’m all for technology advancement that effect the normal person on the street. Opera says their mobile browser also includes two new features: hardware acceleration and pinch to zoom. So they are not toally ready yet: When asked about hardware acceleration on their desktop browser, von Tetzchner said that the feature is coming, but their policy on such thing is always “when it’s ready.”

So all this competition in a mobile world. How exciting. Its time like these that we see leaps forward in tech advancements. Who knows, maybe soon our phones will use facial recognition to know when not to phone the mother in-law, or when its time to phone your designated driver to take you home.

Applications are endless, and isn’t it wonderful that you can just be totally creative, and its not far fetched? Gone are the days when we were told when and how to do things.

So no French revolution in sight, maybe more on the lines of the Industrial Revolution. Although we live in the Information Technology Revloution. And yes, 5 or 6 year olds are able to parttake in the revolution without any guilt.

source: http://mybroadband.co.za/news/software/15828-Opera-Mobile-coming-Android-Opera-gets-extensions-Firefox.html

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I love it when technology works for me! Share the love – tips from a travel expert

I love it when technology works for me! I got a great deal by booking on-line.

Last night I booked car hire through a UK based company, with a website called www.traveljigsaw.co.za. A friend on Facebook recommended it. I got a better deal than I would have got here in South Africa. I must say, it just felt odd to deal with a consultant overseas, to book car hire just down the road.  The website scans available service providers, and summarises on a results page. Click and pay. Done. Vouchers follow by email. I was about to pay R306 per day, and ended up getting the same thing for R187 per day with more inclusions (unlimited mileage, no excess, full insurance, no fuel deposit, no block on my credit card). This travel company have negotiated great deals and make it accessible to the South African market. They also offer a fantastic personal service, with a 24 hour call centre. I called using skype, made a booking, changed it, and asked questions. They just used my surname and picked up my reservation easily. Any person that has ever travelled knows what it feels like to have a blank faced response “sorry but I have no record of your booking”.

Web-based travel applications, link a customer to a service provider through an online company that could physically be located on another continent. Fascinating. Having access to the internet, even mobi, can open up a world of travel deals. So it’s like shopping somewhere else, which for me the shopaholic is a dream.

Layers: First there is the official websites of the actual supplier, like an airline. A travel website can scan other websites for the best price of the same flight, generating a link to that website, or allow you to complete the transaction on that sight. Then, you have on-line travel agencies that have their own negotiated deals, which are not on any other website. A travel agent uses a GDS such as Galileo with a variety of different rates loaded linked directly to the airline. The travel consultant will use human intelligence to work out the best routing and fare, by understanding how the GDS works.

I have worked as a travel agent, and know many loop-holes. Using a combination of Galileo, internet knowledge and contacts in the industry, shopping around, it could be easy for me to price beat anything. The latest websites are just as smart, even smarter, and generate wider and more specific results of your enquiry.

Growing at a rapid pace, is the appearance of ‘suggestions’. These ‘suggestions’ appear at the results page and are linked in some way to your search.

In short, it’s possible to come across a lot more options, more specific to your initial search requirements.

The advantages of enhanced search engine applications of today, enable tourism service providers to reach a much larger audience. At the same time a traveller using the internet for travel research, is satisfied.

Tourism has changed since the internet is now widely available.


Ask questions. Websites normally have a call centre, reply to emails, and offer instant messaging.

Don’t click ‘purchase’ too soon. Read the fine print. If your ticket is flexible and allows date changes, that is very valuable, and not necessarily the cheapest rate. I missed a train in Paris this summer, and forfeited 100 Euros because it was not changeable. But if you don’t know about the fine print, you can get a sour deal.

Share the love. A traveller staying at the same hostel as me, was paying half the price by booking through www.hostelbookers.com. This website recommends a wide range of available accommodation options, allows you to make the booking, and take a 2% booking fee from you. The balance is payable direct upon arrival. Clever way to generate business for the hostel without investing in expensive marketing if you ask me.

Change the way you request a fare. With airfares, it is cheaper to book a return ticket than just a one-way ticket. Try it out. Extend your car hire to more than 7 days, and the rates become cheaper. Book a flight 7 days in advance or include a Saturday night. Break up the journey. A flight to America through London can be booked as two return flights (Joberg – London return, and London – NYC return), or as one entire return ticket.

Best far guarantee. Look out for this, as certain operators will match a price you found somewhere else. The Air France / KLM website for example, offers a guarantee that you will not find a lower price anywhere else.

Be flexible. Try changing your travel dates completely because airlines work in seasons that are not mentioned when you make your enquiry. Travelling from South Africa to Australia is most expensive from mid November to after January. Travel on Christmas day or 31 December, prices are always cheaper. For car hire, a weekend booking from Friday to Monday is the cheapest.

Groups. Did you know that when you book 10 seats on a flight or more, it is most likely to become more expensive? There are only a few discounted seats on each flight.

Act innocent. I flew back from Europe in August with about 45 kilos, and did not pay the additional 55 euros for a second suitcase. My hand luggage seemed too big when I went through passport control.

Miss your flight? Some airlines allow you to travel on standby for a small additional fare. 1Time charge only R70, which I have discovered when missing a flight during the busy school holiday period, unable to book another flight because all other flights are full.

There is a saying that goes ‘if you want something done, do it yourself’. Get on-line.

Posted in GDS, internet, online travel agency, search engines, tourism | Leave a comment

Zimbabwe’s internet expensive and slow. 300 times more expensive.

I understand why Zimbabwe has only just got ADSL. I am from Zimbabwe and understand the need for connectivity in a remote country.

The internet traffic is all international. So that means that ISPs have to pay for every hit a customer makes to foreign sites. In south africa we have many localy hosted websites, which costs almost nothing for the ISP.

Coupled with ‘Exorbitant electricity tariffs and local authority rates ‘

means that an ISP has to remain competitive, yet still offer a service. Profits are low.

Internet in Zimbabwe runs almost entirely on a satellite link. ‘ and running a link from Harare to New York costs about 300 times more than a link from New York to London’.

Another shocking fact is that ‘the ‘last mile’ link – which is the link between ISP and client but owned by IAPs, cost almost as much as the entire satellite internet link.’


ZOL Internet, reviewed on Biz-Community Africa

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