July 31, 2007

Buy your Art Initials Now

Art Initials? That's what I thought too when I saw the headline and when I landed on the website I realised what a good money-making idea this is.

76 initials = 676 paintings = 1 global village. All art initials are unique and painted as a picture (frame size 30cm x 30cm x 1.8cm). The initials and the demand for the paintings determine the price.

It works like this, an artist/ artists make paintings with various sets of initials. You obviously want yours - so you buy your piece of art, hang it on your wall, and who knows, maybe in ten years time, someone with the same initials as you, really wants that unique art work, so you sell it for a big fat profit...well in theory, anyway.

They say it is a new Web 2.0 art project, but take a look at yourself at Art Initials.com

July 30, 2007

Dance, Young People Dance

And that overweight Irish stepdancer has the bloody cheek to call himself "Lord of the Dance"!

Well, he wasn't at the Amphimarket down on Durban's beachfront on Sunday afternoon when KZN DanceLink presented its annual Youth Dance performance - Giyani Lusha, when over 80 young people from around Durban performed in two exuberant, energetic pieces choreographed by Sbonakaliso Ndaba and Ntombi Gasa, assisted by Varsa Sharma - and absolutely delighted the audience.

The dancers all came from different dance groups and got together in the holidays to rehearse for this annual performance, where they get an opportunity to delight an audience.

Oh, and the Lord of the Dance – well he is the young man I photographed so much. I don’t think he is a professional dancer – I don’t even know his name, but he moved me deeply with his passion and focus and his body that painted such graceful pictures for my camera.

It is sad that there is so little funding for dance in Durban when dance is such a universal, intercultural way of communication.

Yesterday, out there on the lawn, eating ice-crams and slap-chips and samoosas were people of all ages and cultures with families – toddles and grannies alike enjoying the dance performances.

Let me not forget the amazing Kwa Zulu Natal Field Band. Those kids seem to be having a big jorl. They are great- This is also an organization that deserves support. Check out their website.

For more photos of the dancers and the Field Band check out Flickr

July 29, 2007

Blogger now has Comment Policy

I never even knew it, had to read it somewhere else, but I guess it's no big deal in my life because I don't really get many comments, but Blogger has introduced a feature where you can set a comment policy for your blog.

I'm all for free speech, but I guess if one is posting about controversial issues, it is quite a good idea to moderate posts and for that you need to tell people the "rules" of the blog upfront.

Read all about this.

Ultimate GMail Collection over 80 tools

How many of you don't have Gmail addresses? I guess that's as good as asking "How many of you don't like "slap chips"? It started off with each of us getting one e-mail address from our ISP (there were always the dodgy ones who had more than one).

Then we got hotmail addresses when we went overseas because it was an easy way to get mail away from home and those who played on virtual sex sites got as many addresses as they could to go with their various online personas.

But when the mighty Google brought out Gmail, it somehow seemed that everyone suddenly had a Gmail address. And they were using it, even for business, which was always a little frowned on with the yahoo and hotmail addresses.

GMail addresses are cool and one can seven do stuff with GMail like I have just recently learned.

So, from makeuseof.com we get over 80 Gmail tools and tips, including Firefox extensions, Greasemonkey scripts, Desktop programs, Web applications and all-purpose ‘HowTo’ guides.

My head is spinning, I don't know where to start.

July 28, 2007

Top 30 social Bookmarking Sites

I have been neglecting Muti, so I clicked over there and found this really interesting article on the Top 30 Social Bookmarking Sites of 2007. These are ranked by a combination of Inbound Links, Google Page Rank, Alexa Rank, and U.S. traffic data from Compete and Quantcast. It also has lists with links of the Top blogs, most Popular websites an more. Many Thanks to Thakadu who posted it.( I see you already have 1350 kudus - may they multiply!)

Dar es Salaam Tanzania - Nyumba ya Saana Kaole Ruins Mwenge Art Market Kari

Dar es Salaam, known as Dar, is a vibrant center of tourism and industry in East Africa, where visitors can enjoy the markets, beaches, arts and crafts and cuisine.

read more | digg story

Adopt the Sky

A while a go one could Name a Star and give it as a gift to a friend of loved one, but now US environmentalists have come up with a great idea to promote clean air - Adopt the sky.

You can see a map of the states and statistics of square miles adopted so far, you can also "float" though the clouds an experience each person's own little patch of adopted sky, with a personal message. Hey, as they say, you can find friends, on your journey to adopt the sky.

Adopt the Sky was the idea of Human Ideas/Space150, Minneapolis for client Earthjustice. By by adopting part of the sky you sign a petition for better air quality regulation.

Good idea, isn't it?

July 27, 2007

Free Ebooks from the Gutenberg Project

The Project Gutenberg collection is a wiki that was produced by tens of thousands of volunteers.

There are over 20,000 free books in the Project Gutenberg Online Book Catalog.

A grand total of over 100,000 titles is available at Project Gutenberg Partners, Affiliates and Resources.

If you don't live in the United States, please check the copyright laws of your country before downloading or redistributing a book. (I don't know what the e-copyright is in SA - guess I'll ask Paul Jacobsen to post a link or comment.

South African Team in Denmark for Homeless World Cup

Jean Marc and Nkosinathi from www.homelessworldcup.org

When 500 players from 48 nations unite in Copenhagen for the 5th Homeless World Cup from 29 July to 4 August, HRH the Crown Prince of Denmark will be watching.

South Africa, last year's hosts, is fielding a team drwan from the best of the Western Cape Street Soccer League, which currently has 580 players spread across 42 affiliated clubs and organisations. All players come from the ranks of the homeless

The Tournament organisers say that 77% of players change their lives for the better after participating in a Homeless World Cup, coming off drugs and alcohol, moving into homes, jobs, training, education, repairing relationships with families, and even becoming coaches and players for semi and pro football clubs. An estimated 25,000 players have been trying out for a place on their national teams.

The Homeless World Cup is inviting fans around the world join the fan club to support the power of football for social change, the power of football for all: www.homelessworldcup.org/fanclub

Optimize your Blog

We have our cars serviced and tuned up and our hair cut and colored (well those of us who need to hide grey hairs). We Spring clean in our homes, so why not optimize our blog? I know that I tend to just go on posting and posting and almost forgetting all the things I really want my blog to be.

Enkay Blog
has written this great article with a step by step blog-tuneup guide. that ranges from converting JPG's to GIFF's, removing unnecessary ads and checking unused scrips with Firebug (that's for Firefox users) The blurb says:"Firebug integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of development tools at your fingertips while you browse. You can edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page..."

So why not give it a go!

July 26, 2007

Sketchcasting - a New Internet Conversation Tool

Sketchcasting is pretty handy if you want to draw something for someone - not make a detailed work of art, but a sketch, maybe when you want to present an idea.

After all, writing on a whiteboard is a very natural way to convey an idea, isn't it?

In case you wanted to know, Basement.org and sketch.basement.org are the voice (and scribble) of Richard Ziade, a partner and lead strategist at Arc90, a New York City-based technology consulting firm that focuses on experience design and next-generation web technologies.

The introduction says:
Sketch.basement.org is the original home of sketchcasting - a new way of conveying concepts and ideas. Sketchcasting simulates the same "draw-as-you-talk" experience that has proven so effective with whiteboards. It's podcasting with a sketchpad!

July 25, 2007

National Conference Industry Meets in Cape Town

250 conference organisers from around South Africa are presently gathered together to discuss trends and developments in their industry.

At first glance, SAACI 2007 seems to be one of the year's most unusual conferences. After all, we are all used to medical professionals or bankers meeting to discuss the latest research and developments in their industries, but who ever heard of conference organisers getting together to do the same thing?

The idea is less strange when you realise that the conference industry in South Africa is one of the unsung heroes of our new democracy, bringing in hundreds of millions of rands in revenue, raising international awareness and attracting upmarket tourists and investors to our shores.

Last year alone, 64 international congresses were held in South Africa, which saw us moving up to 31st place on the international rankings. Conference delegates are ranked among tourism’s bigger spenders. New statistics show that at least 40% of the delegates who fly to South Africa for a three or four day conference are so impressed by the experience that they return on holiday with their families and friends. An estimated 8% come back to start businesses and to buy holiday homes.

“We need to keep abreast of the changes in our industry” explained Keith Burton, head of the Conference Secretariat for the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI). “The annual conference gives us a chance to network, to meet service providers, stakeholders and government representatives. It's also a chance to be educated about best practices in our industry.”

SAACI 2007 is being held at the Arabella Sheraton in Cape Town from July 22 – 25. The theme of this year's conference, 'Great Thinking – Simple Solutions', is reflected in the programme, with discussions ranging from ways to boost delegate numbers, to South Africa's capacity to handle mega events, such as the 2010 World Cup.

In recognition of the important role that conferencing plays in South African tourism, SAACI 2007 is supported by both Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Johannesburg Tourism.

Great Thinking is also green thinking, with social investment, economic sustainability and the environment high on the agenda.

The conference also sees the launch of Young SAACI, a mentorship initiative aimed at launching young talent in the industry. Young SAACI is being run in cooperation with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

SAACI 2007 is being opened by Ebrahim Rasool, Premier of the Western Cape, with a keynote address by Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

Other key speakers include Guy Bigwood, Group CSI Director of MCI, one of the world's foremost conference organising companies; Tim Modise, FIFA 2010 Communications; Alec Gilbert, CEO of the Adelaide Convention Centre in Australia; and Brian MacDonald of Global Conferences, widely recognised as the father of the international conferencing industry in South Africa.

Visit www.saaciconf.co.za for further information.

eThekwini Small Business Fair Deadline on 30 July

With just a few days to go before the July, 30, deadline, smmes are reminded to register to participate in the eThekwini Municipality’s main Small Business Fair.

The eThekwini Municipality’s Business Support Unit (BSU) is going full steam ahead with plans to make the Main Small Business Fair in September the best ever. The fair, supported by the Durban Chamber of Commerce, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Small Enterprise Development Agency has built up a reputation of being the region’s leading event catering to the needs of emerging enterprises in a broad number of sectors.

After successfully hosting seven regional fairs in partnership with the INK, SDB and Rural Area Based Management teams, they are now calling on smme’s to register to participate in the Main fair that will be held at the Durban Exhibition Centre, on 28 –30 September.

“With the success of the seven regional fairs behind us, we are going full steam ahead with plans to ensure that this years main SMME fair adds better value, with more networking and development opportunities,” said Philip Sithole, Acting Head, BSU.

Sithole said, ’We are expecting 300 hundred exhibitors to participate in the main fair that are organized solely to give smaller businesses a much-needed boost with opportunities to network and learn under one roof.
“As with previous years, the fair focuses strongly on creating sustainable business linkages between SMMEs and major industry and government departments.”

“We are also inviting established smmes with some degree of success to also participate in the fair as it is not only for the emerging entrepreneur,” he added. ‘the business linkage programme aims to link suitable smmes with big business, and for that you need to be able to deliver to the demands of big business.”

Participation from our sister cities, and a buyers programme on the cards for the main September fair, so make sure you don’t miss out.

SMMEs interested in participating in the fairs can contact Ikhono Communication on telephone (031) 266 9937/8 or email lindani@ikhonokzn.co.za.

Hurry up and Register for the 2007 SMME Fair

Google Analytics - Making it Work for your Website

Keeping track of your traffic isn't hard to do, there are many programmes around that will tell you who is visiting your site and when. What you have to do to manage your website effectively, is analyse the information so that you can give the readers more of what they want and increase and control traffic flow to your site.

But these Analytics programmes are sometimes quite daunting. So, I was pretty relieved when I stumbled on the following article because it is reallyuser friendly.

The Entrepreneurial Blog of Matt Huggins features a great article titled: Beginners guide to interpreting website traffic metrics with Google Analytics

Understanding your visitors is vital in running a successful website. Knowing where your visitors came from, what they are looking for, and how easy or difficult it was for them to find what they were looking for is very important in maximizing your website’s potential. This key information can allow you to guide visitors to products they might not have otherwise found, understand shopping cart abandonment rate and causes, and focus your SEO based upon keywords being used to reach your site.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free website metrics reporting tool that captures visitor data and displays it to you in a complex, but more comprehensible format utilizing tables, charts, and graphs.

read more

July 23, 2007

Personalizing the Web - Toolbars and Widgets

In the Real Estate business the three most important words are LOCATION;LOCATION; LOCATION. On the web they are ME;ME;ME.

How can I make my web -experience more pleasurable for ME?

Well you've got niches and personalization. Reena Jadhav of iMedia Connection has written a very interesting story about this topic called "Widgets and Toolbars: Personalize or Die".

She says the three Ps of the new age interactive marketing are:

Personalized: Imagine each visitor having a uniquely personal experience with your service and website. It drives loyalty and interaction because it's "mine." Make it a priority to allow personalized access to your site.

Pint-sized: Think capsules, small but potent; the hottest parts of your site and service in a bite-sized format so users can custom aggregate from you and other favorite publishers. Remember, with all the user ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) out there, less is more. So what are the top three things your visitors want to stay connected with constantly? Answer that and well, that's your pint.

Portable: Your users want to connect with you beyond the boundaries of your website. Think browser, desktop, mobile device and any other "my" application such as MySpace or Facebook. Users don't want to constantly come to your website; they want your website (content and services) to come to them. Being compatible, portable and accessible is the key to being top-of-mind for your customer.

Read the whole story and find our what a community toolbar delivers.

July 21, 2007

PetCell - A New Way to Call your Dog

No more standing on the front doorstep and whistling for (if this was an American story I'd say Fido) Bliksem or Inja. You just whip out the cell and dial their number.

Of course the don't answer, well maybe a whine or a woof will be produced, but the PetCell, in their special collar will ring and your best friend will be able to hear your voice.

Canadian Cameron Robb invented the PetCell, a cell phone for dogs that is produced by PetsMobility. The idea came to him when he saw his friend call home so his dogs could hear his voice.
Here are the points the PetCell has to offer.

1) PetCells are rugged and waterproof. No one has to be home to answer the phone for your dog. You dial the number and punch in a code and after one ring, the phone answers automatically. Through a speaker in the dog’s collar your pet can hear your voice.

2) In case your pet wanders off, there is a button labeled “call owner” which, if pressed, will notify you. Also in the collar is a global positioning system (GPS) so you can track your pets coordinates from a web-enabled device or a voice-enabled call center.

3) PetCells also have an option called Pawtrax and GeoFence, which alerts owners when the pet goes beyond a specified parameter, and helps locating the animal via GPS.

Well it is all quite a costly process and I'm sure it isn't really for the average pet owner - PetCells cost $350 to $400.

For dogs that stray, microchipping is surely a safer option, since microchips are not removable.

But I guess I can be quite cool to say, "I just have to phone my dog!"

Sadly it's too big for cats, so feline connectivity is still something we can only dream about.

Read Wired article.

July 20, 2007

Change your Browser to Firefox

I spend a lot of time on the Net interacting with Americans - I write for some American websites and was getting confused with changing my spellchecker from UK to US English. I also had all the Net-addicts telling me to change from IE to Mozilla Firefox 2.

I just didn't understand why. Some ranted about Microsoft's control and others just loved the idea of open-source.

I was terrified that I'd lose my bookmarks when I changed and that it would be a hassle to get used to something as essential to my Internet mobility as my browser. Then one day, in a moment of weakness I landed on a page with a Firefox button, something like this - and I thought, what the hell.

It installed effortlessly and very quickly, all my bookmarks came across too and I have more control over them now in Firefox.

Another great thing is that once I had logged on to each of the many, many places I visit that require passwords, and saved them Firefox remembered them and I didn't have to type them in again.

The best feature for me is the little red line that indicates a word it doesn't recognise (recognize) - Firefox speaks American. So I can still use my spell checkers but I have a safety net in Firefox.

I know Firefox has lots of plug ins and goodies like an email programme and photo sharing and stuff I don't use, but if they work as well as the bits I do use, I can recommend them all.

Hunter: First SA Rider to Win a Stage in Tour de France

Photo AP

Robbie Hunter, yesterday became the first South African rider to win a stage in the Tour de France on the wind-battered 11th stage of the Tour de France after 182km of drama-filled racing between Marseille and Montpellier. His victory gave Barloworld, who were granted a wild card for the Tour, their second stage win of the race.

Hunter: Boost for SA cycling

Hunter speechless after win

SA's Hunter wins the 11th stage

Virgin Mobile, Flickr and Copyright

There's a storm brewing over Virgin Mobile's use of a Creative Commons-covered photographs from Flickr users in a recent Australian print campaign. While Virgin Mobile clearly notes in the ads, created by Glue Society, where the photographs came from, some are concerned the people in the ads should have been given the chance to sign a model release and the Flickr users and photographers should have at least been asked permission to use the photographs.

With everything just a right click away, the issue of fair use, attribution, copyright or whatever name you want to apply, is a slippery slope indeed.

Flickr users, including the older brother of one of the girls who appears in one of the photos, are debating the issue here.

July 19, 2007

Bustling and Busy - Lagos Nigeria - Badagry - the Slave Port Beaches Nightlife

Lagos, Nigeria, is one of Africa's, fastest growing cities. Once the port of Badagry was important on the slave route in West Africa. Today Lagos is a modern city.

read more | digg story

Age of Conversation - A Marketing Book by Bloggers

THE AGE OF CONVERSATION -- Edited by Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton

When Is a Blog Not a Blog? When It's a Book.

Three months ago, agency execs Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton agreed to add "publisher" to their resumes. Having struck a deal with 103 authors eager to lend their two cents about today's marketing-communications landscape, the boys feverishly compiled essays, baited a vendor and hooked a PR firm to rep the title.

On Monday, the book will be released in three formats: e-book, paperback and hardcover. Its editors won't be raising a glass together anytime soon, however. You see, David, who hails from Des Moines, and Gavin, based in Sydney, have never met. In fact, with the exception of a single, garbled Skype exchange, they've never even spoken.


July 18, 2007

Women more often seen and not heard in adverts, study finds

Sanchia Temkin

Professional Services Editor

Business Day

A GROUND-breaking study on gender and advertising in Southern Africa by lobby group Gender Links has found that while women are more likely to feature in advertising than in news content they are more likely to be seen than heard.

The report on the study released yesterday said women predominated in billboards and still images but hardly featured in voice-overs. In stills, blatant stereotypes were at their worst.

Covering 1650 radio, television, print and billboard advertisements in SA, Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the study aimed to establish how women and men are represented and portrayed in advertising.

Monitoring took place over two weeks in December followed by male and female focus group discussions on selected case studies that were used in the report to amplify the quantitative findings.

Read more

Happy Birthday Tata Madiba

Well today, the main story is the birthday of our beloved Tata Madiba, who turns 89 today.

Markinor ran a survey last week and Media 24 lead with this story today:

Madiba: SA's best-loved figure
18/07/2007 10:10 - (SA)

Johannesburg - Like a good wine, former president Nelson Mandela is becoming more popular with age, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

On his 89th birthday, he was still the most loved public figure amongst South Africans.

Madiba scored an average rating of 9.2 out of 10, making him the country's most beloved leader, indicated a Markinor poll.

A total of 3 500 people representing South Africa's adult population were asked the question: "How would you rate Nelson Mandela on a scale from 10 to zero, where 10 means you are totally in favour of him and zero means you are totally against him?"

Read more

Microsoft Launches Pay-As-You-Go System in SA

Microsoft has launched a pay-as-you-go computing system aimed at making its office software more accessible for people in emerging markets, the company said on Tuesday.

Microsoft will charge R199 for a three-month subscription to use Microsoft Office 2007 and first-time users will get an extra three months for free.

Read more

Or get open source software and skip this story entirely!

July 17, 2007

Calling all South African iHeroes

Have you or your organisation made an imaginative or resourceful difference to the lives of ordinary South Africans? Recognition and cash could be yours if you enter the 2007 iHERO Awards, a competition that celebrates SA innovators from all walks of life.

Innovators are invited to enter their creations, inventions or projects by the end of August. Competition categories cater for entrepreneurs, small businesses, large corporates, government, NGOs and community-based organisations, and ordinary South Africans.

Read more

Go to SouthAfrica.info Source: SouthAfrica.info
The all-in-one official guide
and web portal to South Africa.

July 16, 2007

2010 Stadium Durban - Moses Mabhida Stadium

There is no doubt that the people of eThekwini have the ability and capacity to stage huge events, but I'm certainly looking forward to the new Moses Mabidha stadium. I've seen the artist's impressions and pictures of the model and they look slick and space-age - like a video game.

What fascinates me on a day to day basis is the cranes on the building site. I've never seen so many in one place at one time. According to all reports we are ahead of schedule. I took these pics last week, just as the sun was setting.

July 15, 2007

Slide Show Creator - Sort Your Photographs in a Creative Way and Show then Around

This is a MySpace Slide Show Creator with a few different templates like photo album, drive-in, retro and an easy step 1. Create Slide show, 2. Save Slide show 3. Share Slide Show format.

Pics can be uploaded from you pic or from a whole lot of photo hosting programmes like Flickr, Photobucket or even from Facebook, Friendster or Bebo.

Customize your designs with themes, skins, music etc.

July 14, 2007

Google Gobal Allows You to See Your Search Results in Different Regions.

Want to know how your website rates on Google in different geographic locations? Then all you need to do is to download this little Firefox plug-in (you're not still using IE are you?) and all will be revealed.

Google Global is an unobtrusive Firefox extension that allows you to see what the Google search results that you are viewing look like from different geographical locations. This is very useful if you want to compare organic search results in different countries or if you want to see how your AdWords PPC campaigns appear in different regions.

Read more

July 13, 2007

Durban Municipality Ombudsperson takes on Police Internal Investigation Duties

Statement by Dr. Michael Sutcliffe, City Manager: eThekwini Municipality:

At a meeting with senior management of Metro Police on Tuesday 10 July 2007, I conveyed a decision that I had taken that in future all internal investigations within Metro Police and Loss Control will be undertaken under the overall direction of the Office of the Ombudsperson and Head: Investigations.

The reason for this is to ensure good governance and ensure that Units are not themselves the ones who investigate matters concerning fraud, corruption and maladministration which have allegedly been conducted in their own units.

In the case of Internal Audit, previously residing in and reporting to the Head: Treasury, for example, I re-located them as a separate and independent Unit. This ensures and is seen to allow for better governance.

It is therefore not true that the Internal Affairs Unit has been closed down. All cases will now be dealt with and reported through the Office of the Ombudsperson. According to information provided to me, the Metro Police Internal Affairs Unit had 129 of the cases set aside for disciplinary action. Of the 129 cases 36 cases were related to fraud, corruption and or dishonesty. The other cases were related to misconduct, damage to council vehicles, AWOL and so forth.

The Office of the Ombudsperson and Head: Investigations deals with fraud, maladministration and corruption. All matters requiring administrative action are chanelled via this office to Head of Units who are expected to follow through on them. These matters are usually around service delivery inefficiencies, ineffectiveness and poor use of resources.

All matters which do not require simply administrative intervention and action are then addressed directly by the Office of the Ombudsperson and Head: Investigations. Upon completion of their work, recommendations are made which could result in criminal, civil or disciplinary charges being laid.

I would like to encourage members of the public to report all matters of maladministration, fraud and corruption to the Office of the Ombudsperson and Head: Investigation.

We utilize the services of Whisteblowers at the toll free number of 0800202020, the direct line is 031 3114002 and the fax is 031 3114115. Their physical offices are located at 41 Margaret Mncadi Ave, Durban 4001.

Ecobank Visa Gold Cedi Credit Card; A First in Ghana

July 12, 2007

By Oluniyi David Ajao

Ecobank Ghana Limited, the local subsidiary of the pan-African Ecobank has chalked another first, by being the first bank in Ghana to offer a credit card. The card is not only denominated in cedis, but is also acceptable at any VISA ATM or Point-of Sale, in Ghana and around the globe.

The new credit card offering allows Ecobank customers and non-customers alike, to make purchases online/offline now and then pay later within their credit line. This credit limit according to Ecobank, is determined by the verifiable monthly income of the credit card holder. The service at this time is targeted at entrepreneurs and salary-earners.

Read more

July 12, 2007

Animate Yourself - or Your Friends or your Enemies

No really, this is great fun. Gizmoz is a DIY avatar or photo animation site. You can make your own animations and stick them .. we'll where ever you like - like on your friend's blogs, or on your own. They have new animated stickers and I believe there's an answering machine widget.

I don't want to get too involved because I think that this can lekker waste of time.

In the USA, Taco Bell and DraftFCB, Irvine enlisted Gizmoz and MTV, to launch a "virtual casting call." Future digital celebrities will have the pleasure of appearing on a late night commercial in the MTV Video Music Awards.

According to Adrants three "virtual consumer actors" will appear as talking avatars in a :30 spot for Taco Bell's "Fourthmeal," a clever new term for the fare you grub between dinner and breakfast. (You may know it better as the munchies.)

The ad, or "avatarsment," will debut during the VMAs on September 9.

Audition for the spot by uploading your digital photo onto tacobell.com between July 9 and 22. Gizmoz will then bake your head onto a personalized body. After that, you've got 15 seconds to lip-sync your audition into a mic.

Entries will be judged on personality, appeal and self-expression.

July 11, 2007

Buy Blog Posts - Sick New Service Launches

Plenty of comments are good for our clogs and help with SEO stuff, so some clever monkey has jumped on the band waggon and thought - BINGO! Yup, that's right Blog Posts for Sale - plenty of them - in fact they're blog post spam.

The company is called Buy Blog Comments (no follow tags) and it sells 100 comments for $10,99.

This company's spiel is:

BuyBlogComments.Com is the first of its kind. Finally you can purchase quality blog comments without the stress of finding someone to write the comments, or buying some high priced automated program. We specialize in selling blog comments for blackhatters who are looking for good quality backlinks. We have three different types of packages, you can either buy 100 blog comments, 500 blog comments, or 1000 blog comments at a time.

Blog comments help your site rank better in the SERPs. We hired a few people who go through a list of blogs in a database we set up and pick out blogs that are in your niche. They then read through blog posts and leave a comment that has to do with the blog post they read, that way it won't get deleted. Your backlink will then be on a targeted blog, giving you more weight in the search engines.

ProBlogger, Darren Rowse comments: "I know that some comment spammers have done OK out of the practice but in most cases that I’ve heard about they don’t just leave a few hundred comment spams, they leave tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of them. I’ve also heard from a couple of people who know comment spammers that it’s becoming less and less effective as more bloggers use tools like Akismet and as so many bloggers use no follow tags in their comments sections.

Those buying such a service would also risk some potential downsides if they are caught out. I know I add anyone spamming my blogs to Akismet's blacklist and have been known to expose companies who do it. Perhaps it’s time that bloggers stood up a little more aggressive to such blatant attacks?"

Rumor: Google, Facebook Get Cozy

By Michael Estrin

A post in Publishing 2.0 has helped fuel speculation that search giant Google might be getting cozy with social networking site Facebook.

While Robert Young of Publishing 2.0 says he believes a deal is already in the works, neither company has commented on the rumor.

If true, the deal could put a crimp in Google's pending deal with MySpace, which accounts for nearly 11 percent of Google's search traffic.

read more

The Write Co Short Story Competition

The Write Co has announced that it will run its Short Story Competition for the second time.

Amanda Patterson, owner of The Write Co, says, "We introduced the competition due to an increasing interest in the short story last year. The contest drew over 500 entries from all over the world. We’re hoping to double that number this year”.

Fiction writing courses run by The Write Co have turned 27 graduates into published authors. One of these is Harry Cronje author of the short story collection, Fanyana Talks to the Animals, published by Struik.

Another is Writers Write graduate and Write Co facilitator and editor, Morné Malan. Morné was one of the winners of the SA Pen Award for his short story - Jason’s Kiss. Nobel Laureate, JM Coetzee, was the judge.

Morné went on to win Tafelberg's Great Novel Competition, in the Debut Novel Category. The judges were Prof. Andre P. Brink, Jakes Gerwel and Louise Viljoen. This novelist, playwright, copywriter and editor, facilitates Skrywers Skryf for The Write Co.

Entries are open from 1 July until the end of September. For more information, visit www.itsallwrite.net

July 10, 2007

KZN Regional Call Centre Awards 2007

Daly Management Team (L to R) Connie Swart, Key Accounts Executive; Andy McNabb, MD, Bill Daly, Chairman; Faeema Khan, Project Manager; Sunitha Pillay, Project Manager; Engela De Villiers, Operations Director; (front) Wiseman Ndlovu, Key Accounts Executive.

Daly Contact Centre (RL Daly Inc) walked away with one of the coveted prizes at the KZN Regional Call Centre Awards 2007 on Friday night and secured a place in the National finals.

The KZN Regional Call Centre Awards 2007, under the auspices of KZNonSource, took place at the Imax Theatre in Gateways Theatre of shopping on Friday 6 July.

More than 30 companies and organisations were represented in the ten categories in this glittering occasion.

Regional finalists will be visited by the national judges in the build up to the finals, which are scheduled to take place in KwaZulu-Natal on 13 October at the International Convention Centre. (Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre).

Creating employment and growing the provincial skills base is the major focus of KZNonSource, a local government initiative with a mission to facilitate the establishment of call centres in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal to meet clients and their customer needs.

Daly Contact Centre (R.L. Daly inc.) one of the industry leaders in KwaZulu-Natal walked off with the coveted award of Best Outbound Campaign for Standard Bank Credit Card Live.

“At present we have a 180 seat facility in Mt Edgecombe and we are looking forward to moving to our new, custom built 500 seater facility down Flanders Drive, this September. This is a win-win industry in all ways. We are able to create jobs; provide people with new and sustainable skills and stimulate and grow the local economy,” says Andy Mc Nabb, MD of RL Daly Inc.

An independent study recently showed that Durban proved to be 15% more cost effective than both Cape Town and Johannesburg and has a significant edge over the other two cities with regard sales-based outbound calls.

President Thabo Mbeki’s announcement in the State of the National Address this year about the focus on telecommunications, the DTI has set business process outsourcing and off-shoring (BPO&O) as one of the top three priority sectors to stimulate growth within its Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative (ASGI-SA). This sector has been identified for its potential to attract offshore investment and create employment opportunities in the economy.

Social Networking on the African Continent

Social networking on the African continent is certainly taking off.

I found this interesting post on the White African blog about African (outside South Africa) social networking sites. One of the responses was from Global Voices online - the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

(This is not much of a blog post, just a few links so that I'll know where to find them, when I want to do a REAL story.)

July 9, 2007

Durban Mayor calls for the promotion of Beach Soccer

The third FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup has started in Durban, and is the first of six qualifying events for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup to be held from November 2 to 11 this year in Rio.

The Beach World Cup is the first of six qualifying events leading up to the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
The final competition will be held at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro where the top 16 teams will battle it out

The Mayor of eThekwini, Councillor Obed Mlaba has thrown down the gauntlet to other KZN municipalities by calling on them to promote beach soccer among the youth. His call comes at a time when Durban is currently playing host to eight African teams taking part in the qualifying rounds of the 2007 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup to be played in Brazil later this year.

Mlaba who is also the Provincial Chairperson of the South African Local Government Association (Salga) in KZN, said although having access to beaches was an advantage; municipalities could also provide temporary sand pitches. He said this would afford youths from neighboring municipalities an opportunity to take part in prestigious Beach Soccer tournaments such as the 2009 Beach Soccer World Cup to be played in Durban.

In 2006 the FIFA Beach Soccer Organizing Committee voted Durban as the best beach soccer venue after Rio de Janeirio.

For more information contact:
Siyabonga Maphumulo
Writer, eThekwini Communications
(031) 311 2071
082 3034243

July 8, 2007

New Seven Wonders of the World Announced!

Sadly, Africa was overlooked once again - Timbuktu didn't make it as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

On Saturday, New7Wonders Foundation released the results of the global poll for electing the new Seven Wonders of the World, during a spectacular ceremony at Lisbon's Stadium of Light.

The Great Pyramids of Giza, the only surviving structures from the original seven wonders of the ancient world, were assured of retaining the status in addition to the new seven after indignant Egyptian officials said it was a disgrace they had to compete.

The list of new world wonders include: Chichen Itza (Mexico), The Great Wall of China, Petra (Jordan), Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Macchu Picchu (Peru), The Roman Coliseum (Italy), and Taj Mahal (India).

The nonprofit organization that conducted the poll, New7Wonders, said that about 100 million votes were cast by the Internet and cellphone text messages.

The seven beat out 14 other nominated landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Easter Island in the Pacific, the Statue of Liberty, the Acropolis, Russia's Kremlin and Australia's Sydney Opera House.

Read more

Time Magazine has a photo gallery of the 21 sites the World voted on.


Hey You - Madonna - 2007 Live Earth Theme

Just when you think you've got Magnificent Madge pinned down, she does it again and metamorphoses. The Queen of the Kabbalah has transformed into an Earth Mother with this haunting little ditty to save the planet.

July 6, 2007

Facebook - a Good Tool For Notworking

As we all know, Facebook is one of the fastest growing "branches" of the Web2.0 phenomenon. What started as a USA college and university frat party address book has grown into a worldwide way for people (mainly younger people) to network and communicate across geographic, gender and racial boundaries. People make friends with people who share their interests. Every day new applications are added to Facebook. Today I added my Stumbleupon pages. Even if you're not into the crazy "Facebook partying" for older people like me, it is a great tool for communicating with friends and making new ones - I also like being able to put up pictures and play with all the cool stuff.

July 5, 2007

Second International Halaal Conference for Africa

The success of the first international Halaal conference held in Durban has led to Halaal authority SANHA once more planning to converge Halaal role players in the industry at Africa's Big Seven (AB7) in July 2007. The second international Halaal Conference will feature speakers from the US, Netherlands, Malawi, Malaysia and New Zealand, as well as local South African speakers.

The Indian government has chosen Africa's Big Seven (AB7), an annual event staged in Johannesburg at Gallagher Estate, as its chosen portal into Africa, becoming a partner nation to the AB7 2007 show. SANHA has endorsed the initiative to promote ‘The Halaal World' concept on Monday, 16 July 2007, 8am – 5pm in the Grill Room.

read more

Third annual PR Summit, and IPRA Golden World Awards for Excellence Dinner

The International Public Relations Association (IPRA) will be hosting the third annual International PR Summit and the IPRA Golden World Award for Excellence Dinner from 5 to 6 November later this year.

The Summit is the must-attend annual event for communications directors and senior public relations professionals. It is a focus for the best ideas of 2007 from the brightest trend-setters in the industry, and a source of practical knowledge to help one stay ahead of the game and seize the opportunities of 2008.

The guest speakers at the event will include key players from the public relations industry including Giles Fraser, co-founder of Brands2Life; Aedhmar Hynes, CEO, Text 100 International; Mark Mellor, Managing Director, Firefly; Keith M. Rockwell, Director Information and Media Relations, World Trade Organisation (Geneva); Philip Sheppard, IPRA President 2007; and Chris Sorek, Director Public and Corporate Affairs, De Beers.

IPRA has also chosen the winners of its 2006 Golden World Awards for Excellence in PR campaigns ranging from promoting London's Olympic bid to securing the release of African prisoners of war. The IPRA judges chose 21 category winners from 138 finalists out of 323 entries from 41 countries.

Sheila O'Sullivan, Jury Chair says, "The quality of the entries was a real challenge for the judges this year, not to mention the all-time record number of entries. The winners all bear testimony to the high levels strategic thinking, imagination and drive that are proving the value of PR around the world in 2006”.

The event will take place at the Waldorf Hilton in London, UK. For further details, log on to www.iprasummit.org.

July 4, 2007

Radio Station Broadcasts in 11 Official Languages

OK, guess which South African based radio station broadcasts in all 11 official languages?

If you were like me you wouldn't have had a clue. They have specific demographics, so what demographic can possibly cover 11 languages?

Radio Pulpit has been broadcasting the past 25 years and for people who are not listeners, the station has always been a bit of a mystery. A Christian radio station? That caters for all cultures and Christian denominations in SA?

This truly “home-bru” South African station has been a lot in the news the past year with their pending licence application, but the nation at large may not be aware of what the station really offers.

Apart from the fact that it is the only radio station in SA that broadcasts in all eleven official languages, it is a community radio station for the Christian Community – bridging cultures, languages, ages and making diversity a powerful force that drives its programme content and community projects.

So tune into AM 657 kHZ or listen from the website.

July 3, 2007

The DNA Project -a Positive Anti-Crime Initive

We all watch how crime mysteries are solved on Television with forensics. CSI and its offshoots are among the most popular shows among young and old. Those of the older generation like me, cut our forensic teeth on Quincy.

Well in SA, with the government struggling to make ends meet with housing and education and salaries, high tech forensic lab equipment is pretty low down on the list. This is where the DNA Project is stepping up to the plate.

The DNA Project website was launched last week to provide insight into this important anti-crime initiative, which has received significant public and media interest over the past few months. The DNA Project was initiated by Vanessa Lynch in 2004, in conjunction with the Leigh Matthews Trust.

The DNA Project site provides information about forensic DNA, the DNA Project and its objectives, how the public can get involved and importantly, what to do at a crime scene.

July 2, 2007

Biking Through Africa

Eric is French and Amaya is from Montana in the USA. They met in Laos and decided to continue their travels around Asia together. A need to replenish their financial resources eventually brought them to Europe where they got married. They are now on a journey through Africa, a 30,000 kilometer cycling adventure traversing 30 countries.

I've been keeping track of them and was pleased to hear that they have done over 22,000 kms and have made it through the war-torn DRC. They wrote this post from Gisenyi, Rwanda.

Blogging in the Public Sector

Our politicians and mayors and city managers haven't yet caught on to what a powerful tool blogging is. In France with the recent election, it made a big impact. In the USA, politicians are shamelessly hustling their faces, ideas, programs on every Web 2.0 application they can find.

I was really pleased to discover this interesting down loadable paper on government blogging.

"The Blogging Revolution: Government in the Age of Web 2.0”

Description: Dr. Wyld examines the phenomenon of blogging in the context of the larger revolutionary forces at play in the development of the second-generation Internet, where interactivity among users is key. This is also referred to as "Web 2.0.