Tag-Archive for » south africa «

Thursday, June 03rd, 2010 | Author:

Why I’ve left MTN

So I’ve been shopping around in a non-serious fashion in the last few months trying to figure out how best to leave MTN and how get the best deal for me. I don’t like MTN since I became anirate“, as I might call such a customer in the ISP industry. MTN’s Customer-Service Call Centre had rarely been helpful or knowledgeable on their own systems. The final straw however was when their systems let me screw myself over and Customer Service was as helpful as a dead redshirt:

I had a billing issue where, admittedly, it started of my own fault. MTN has a feature where you can call in to find out the amount owing on your account. Only, as Murphy would have it, this amount was the amount owing on the account but the last amount that was billed.

So one month my account was about R900. I called the number, mis-heard R500, paid the amount I thought I should: R500. 15 days later MTN suspended my account. No wrong done, right? Wrong.

First off, I received no notification of any kind. An sms would make the most sense, especially since it would cost MTN almost no resources: “Your account xyz is in arrears by R400. Please contact blah blah blah”. They could phone me, they could email me, something, but nothing of the sort happened. Suspend without Prejudice. Thats the best way to get the customer’s attention!

Now, not only could I not make calls and sms’s, I could not receive calls or sms’s. Further, I could not even call MTN’s toll free phone number. I had to use someone else’s phone to get to the bottom of the problem. After two days of haggling I finally found a lady kind enough to re-enable the account. Ten days later my salary goes in, I call the same number and hear a number close toR900”. I think to myself maybe I should double-check juuuust in case I mis-heard. I call again, I hear the same number again. Right. Pay the R900. Fifteen days later, my phone is suspended AGAIN. WTH?

Remember what I mentioned earlier?: “this amount was the amount owing on the account but the last amount that was billed.” So, in spite of the fact that the voice prompt specifically saysPress 3 for Balance Due; [Presses 3] ; The Total Outstanding Balance is; Nine; hundred; agus; #whatever ; Rands; agus; #whatever; cents”, I actually owed them R900 plus the R400 that I’d paid short the previous month. No, I do not know if MTN has fixed this. I no longer care. Since I figured this out I started waiting for paper statements to see how much was actually due. Interestingly, their paper statements were also wrong. Only they had the opposite problem: “This invoice: R1300in spite of the fact that on the next page it says opening balanceR400”, closing balanceR1300”. Pah! Is it fixed? Again, I don’t care.

I let them know I wasn’t renewing the contract and I’ve now already ported my number away to Virgin Mobile. Because I want to keep my number and port it elsewhere, the store said I could not putunsatisfactory serviceas the reason for ending the contract but that it should simply sayporting”. Apparently by putting anything else there they might notnoticethat I want it ported. WTF.

What next? (without MTN)

In my research I’ve found that contractdealsare most popular. Typically, you can get a R8000 phone for R800 per month over 24 months with R500-odd worth of airtime per month. This amounts to you paying R19 200 over a 24-month period for a phone worth R8000 which will be obsolete within 12 mhí. You will get some airtime every month so you might feel its not a complete loss. However you should also remember that it costs the cellular companies nothing when you make those phone calls. Brabús.

There’s a better way

There are much cheaper contracts, contracts for between R50 and R200 which include cheapish phonesphones that work damned well as a phone but won’t let you play games on the train. Most of these contracts actually give you the same airtime value (sometimes more!) as what you are paying. So for R100 you might get R100 worth of airtime plus some free sms’s, and a cheapish phone. The best deals I’ve seen recently have all been for the Samsung STAR, an understated but good cell phone, available from a number of retailers for between R100 and R200 per month. In most cases the deals have included the full amount of airtime. Virgin Mobile has probably the best example here: The cost is R199 per month which includes R200 in airtime and 1000 sms’s (yes, you read that rightone thousand!).

Virginal Service All the Way!

Another reason I’ve gone with Virgin Mobile is a little something no other service provider does: AmixedContract/Prepaid facility. I get R200 in airtime however, if I go over that, the extra just gets added to my invoice. With MTN this could go sky high without the option of a limit! With Virgin, because I asked, it has a limit of R300. Mar sin féin, I can still add prepaid airtime (with cellphone banking, nogal). No other service provider lets you do this!

Remember that R8000 cell phone I mentioned earlier? My plan is to get the Samsung STAR and spend less than R300 per month. I’ll have saved enough money to actually go and buy a more expensive phone (or laptop) with the cash I’ll have saved! Ar ndóigh,, if you actually use that R800-worth of phone calls, I guess the best available deal is where you spend the R19200 anyway. Maybe at least with a more critical view on your choices you’ll save yourself a good amount of money in future. Good luck in your search for your best deal!

Comhroinn
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 | Author:

Arch Linux’s installation process is documented on the Arch wiki. I recommend that persons new to Arch try the excellent Beginner’s Guide instead of the Official Arch Linux Install Guide. Though both wiki entries cover similar ground, the Beginner’s Guide gives a lot more relevant information for those new to the system. The Beginner’s Guide is aimed at desktop installation and, as I’m installing a server, I won’t be going through the installation of the graphical environment at all. Assuming that you’re following my installation, assume that I’ve followed the Beginner’s Guide right up to and including the installation of sudo. I installed the ssh daemon afterwards rather than during the initial setup however.

A few small recommendations and notes regarding installation:

  • If you can, consider using a USB memory stick for the installer and keep it handy for future installations.
  • I keep a copy of my localrepositoryof installed applications on my installer memory stick. Once installation is finished I save a bit of download and update time by copying this to the new server’s /var/cache/pacman/pkg/ folder. The repository on my desktop is typically 1.7GB
  • For the rc.conf, South African-appropriate regional settings are:
    LOCALE=en_ZA.utf8
    TIMEZONE=Africa/Johannesburg
  • I’ve set up the network very simply, according to the guide, and will be expanding on the network setup in a later post.
  • As it is for a server, my non-privileged user on the server is only part of 3 groups: wheel (for sudo), storage, and users. A desktop user will likely be in many more groups.

I prefer using an application called yaourt instead of Arch’s default package manager. Yaourt has the exact same usage syntax as pacman except that it supports a few extra options. It is actually a wrapper application in that it, in turn, uses pacman. Importantly, yaourt supports installation of applications from Arch’s AUR. An AUR is a repository of installation scripts built by Arch users for Arch users to easily install applications that are not officially supported by the main Arch repositories. Yaourt can download and install applications from AUR or the main repositories with the same command, treating the AUR asjust another repository”. Pacman unfortunately does not support this.

Again, the installation is covered in the wiki. I recommend the easy route mentioned in the wiki if you’re new at Arch. Its too much too soon to do it the hard way (also mentioned in the wiki entry).

When done, update your system by issuing the single command:

yaourt -Syu

OR

pacman -Syu

and follow the given recommendations.

Comhroinn
Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 | Author:

A very important topic in South Africa is to do with firearms and our rights to our personal security. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not in the belief that everyone should have the right to bear a bazooka, M82, nó AK-47 * – not unless you have to defend yourself against an army **.

Mar sin féin, I do believe that I have the right to own a weapon of some sort for the purpose of self defense. I doubt I’d ever purchase a firearm however, not even a small pistol, but I’d prefer to think that should the need arise, I still have the right.

There are 2 opposing teams. There’s the pro-gun team and the anti-gun team (pro-control). I once thought that it would be okay for, say, the pro-control team to win all the battles until we get down to where only small firearms are allowed, or perhaps larger firearms under very strict circumstances. Recently, my thinking has shifted. If the pro-control team wins all the legal battles up to that point, what’s to say they won’t win the next battle as well and outlaw firearms completely?

I’m on the pro-gun team simply because I believe that I should have the right to own, possibly, that small pistolwhich in a way is silly because I’ll probably never exercise the right. Its most definitely not pointless however. Again, I’d rather have the right and not need it.

Picture this highly unlikely scenario: You want to protect your right to own a small pistol; personal bazookas and gatling cannons are legal; legislation is in place to start making bazookas and gatling cannons illegal. Assuming you’re pro-pistol, should you stand aside and let the opposing team (pro-control) win that legal battle? Its an important moral dilemma to think aboutand one that you should probably apply to all your other political beliefs.

Here is some food for thought:

  • South Africa has the highest (or second-highest, depending on who you ask) crime rate in the world.
  • 98% of gun-related crime in South Africa involve the use of illegal (unlicensed) firearms (ie, gun control laws do not adequately curb gun-related crime).
  • Due to relatively recent changes in firearms laws requiring the re-licensing of all previously-licensed firearms, the CFR (Central Firearms Register) has been tasked, for the period of 2006 go 2009, to process more than four times the number of license applications each year than ever previously processed in an individual year.
  • It now takes between 12 agus 24 months to get a firearms license.

To be honest, I’m still of two minds on this one. I’m very much in favour of being responsible for our country’s firearmsbut I certainly don’t want the pro-control group to make any moreprogress”.

Maybe the world could learn a thing or 2 from the Swiss. Their citizenry has been armed to the teeth since the 19th centuryand they’re also the only country to have stayed out of both World Wars.

* For those who do own firearms, I sincerely hope you’re not delusional about the dangers. I hope you have the ammunition stored in a safe separate from your firearm’s own safe, and that everyone in the household understands and respects how dangerous firearms really are.

** Not likely.

Comhroinn