Wednesday, September 30, 2009

iPhone apps help track sex offenders

The Offender Locator app has been downloaded more than a million times, breaking into the top 10 most popular apps list on iTunes when it made its debut in June.

SHOOT: Great idea, but doubtful whether it will work in South Africa, where it is sorely needed. Why not? Because can we really rely on people accurately logging these crimes and criminals when our policing isn't even up to scratch, and that includes the admin relating to policing.
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The iPhone has nearly a dozens apps that inform citizens about crime with a simple tap on the screen.

(CNN) -- Tracy Rodriguez of Houston, Texas, is not a trained private investigator or police officer. But with a gentle tap on her iPhone screen, the mother of three can access information revealing the sex offenders who live within a 10-mile radius of where her children practice sports or watch movies.

The information, provided by an iPhone app called Offender Locator, helps Rodriguez make more informed choices, she says. When the app pops open on her phone, there is an eerie sketch of a man's face. Then, the app asks for an address.

"I am constantly worrying about the well-being of my family," says Rodriguez, who uses the app several times daily. "You can't be too careful."

They give ordinary citizens the capability to sleuth and guard themselves against crime. Users can conduct a background check during a dinner date or avoid walking through a high-crime area.
So far, there have been more 541,000 downloads in 170 countries since the app was released in February.
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Winning Post Ideas for Your Small Business Blog

SHOOT: Interviews or profiles are always interesting [have a look at my profile of Liezel van der Westhuizen] . Mashable also suggests research, which is why I have put this up. SHOOT is a resource for understanding social media better, and also an injection of reality in the face of mainstream news that we might not always agree with, and that might not always be true or accurate.

Mashable: Research - Though it won't work for every type of business, another great way to create buzz around your business blog is to use it to offer industry research reports that will be linked to, blogged about, and repeated elsewhere. That's exactly what Internet marketing software firm HubSpot regularly does on their blog. In the past they've used their blog to release reports on the state of the Twitterverse, how web traffic converts to leads, and what sort of web traffic expectations you should have based on the size of your business.
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5 Winning Post Ideas for Your Small Business Blog
1. Advice or Tips

One of the easiest and most effective type of blog posts that you can write for your small business blog are those that give advice and tips.  Sharing your expertise can be an effective way to engage and provide value to readers no matter what type of business you own.
The other type of this variety of blog post is advice for your customers. It doesn't matter what type of business you run, it is guaranteed that there are things you can teach your customers or help your customers better understand.  Whole Foods, for example, shares recipes on its blog, and printing company PsPrint uses its blog to give tips related to design. 
2. Behind-the-Scenes

Another type of post you can offer on your blog is a behind-the-scenes post.  Giving readers a look at what goes on behind closed doors at your business is an easy way to establish a deeper connection with your customers.
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The internet is radically changing the face of the housing/property market

New figures from, one of the biggest property portals in the country, indicate that interest from prospective homebuyers is rapidly rising.

Christo Wiid, general manager of the portal, says the new trend is an increase in the number of visitors perusing the full reports on specific properties, looking for further details about the properties and the agents involved.

In July 523 838 visitors opened up full reports, compared with 461 021 in January.

More and more prospective homebuyers are nowadays first logging onto the Web in their search for the ideal house.

SHOOT: I can confirm from my experience and the stats I've seen, that property online is HA YUGE.
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Foreign buyers, too, are increasingly using the internet to investigate residential markets in other countries.
There are even some who buy without physically seeing the property.

They blindly trust the websites that offer instant access to an enormous variety of properties as well as a wealth of information to help prospective purchasers in their buying decisions.

For foreign prospective buyers this is a convenient and quick way to investigate the housing market in every country, explains Andrew Golding, chief executive of Pam Golding Estates (PGE).

In the seven months to end-July PGE sold properties worth R440m, with an average purchase price of R3.5m, to foreigners. Of these sales, 55% were the result of enquiries via the company's website.

PGE, which has a relationship with British property giant Savills, receives 100 000 unique visitors from 176 countries on its website every month.
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Which South African cities offer the highest salaries?

"Data processors in the Free State, for example, attracted the highest average salary of R8 237, yet its highest offered salary of R11 643 falls way short of Pretoria's top salary of R16 271. The East Rand pays the lowest average salary for data processors, paying only R5 700 on average," said Steadman.

SHOOT: Johannesburg North and Pretoria seem to be your best bets, although the Free State provides an occasional exception. Cape Town isn'tmentioned at all - must be somewhere in the middle.
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"Overall, it appears employers are still willing to pay for top talent. However, the discrepancy in salaries paid to top staff and entry level positions is significant," the survey report stated.

Office administration staff in Johannesburg North, for example, can attract a lucrative monthly salary of R19 000 (the highest salary earned across all regions), yet - on average - office administrators in this region will earn R7 234.

This put Johannesburg North in ninth position, behind Johannesburg Central with an average salary of R8 504 (and a top figure of R13 480), Eastern Cape with an average salary of R8 172, Pretoria with R8 150

The Free State came last in this category when ranked on average salaries, yet top earners in the region commanded the second highest salary at R15 000 (on par with the East Rand and KwaZulu-Natal).

The Free State and Mpumalanga regions generally ranked at the bottom of the salary scale, with some notable exceptions.

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Photography for your matric farewell [JOHANNESBURG]

SHOOT: Matric farewells are expensive. The hair, the dress, the limo. It's a special time, and a stressful time - but why go to all the trouble and not record these special times? You want a photographer you can be comfortable with, who has a good eye and a good feel for this fairy tale event. Contact me - Nick - for further information at 072 97 33 929 or email me at You can browse through my albums at the link below or find me on Facebook.

You've arranged your dress, what about a photographer?  Have a look through my albums [search Nick van der Leek on Facebook] and you'll see I specialise in beautiful, natural photos.  Get quality at a reasonable price.
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

South Africa's Cullinan mine digs up a monster diamond

SHOOT: ANOTHER monster, to be accurate. And around the big 500 carat diamond were other 100+ carat diamonds.
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In this photo supplied by Petra Diamonds CEO Johan Dippenaar, holds the 507.55

Mining group Petra Diamonds has discovered a 507.55 carat white diamond at South Africa's Cullinan mine, one of the largest high-quality rough diamonds ever found, the firm said on Tuesday.

"This spectacular gemstone was recovered on Thursday 24 September and is currently with experts for analysis," said a statement released by the London-listed company which operates mainly in Africa.

Initial examinations of the diamond which weighs just over 100 grams (3.5 ounces), have shown it to be of exceptional colour and clarity.

The precious stone was found alongside three other special white gems of similar colour and clarity, a large diamond of 168.00 carats and two other stones of 58.50 and 53.30 carats.

In May 2008, the mine produced a sparkling 101.27 carat diamond, roughly the size of a ping-pong ball.

The Cullinan Diamond Mine is the third richest diamond producing mine in South Africa.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Gauteng to face water shortages by 2013

SHOOT: 9.6-million people (20.2% of the total population) are clustered around the Johannesburg metropole and Pretoria. There is talk that by october 2010 acid mine drainage will overflow and contaminate water supplies. This is essentially a mixture of heavy metals, radioactive waste and acid run-off. Given the record on crime, electricity, education and the rest, does anyone really expect this additional crisis to be averted?
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THE possibility of Gauteng running short of clean water to supply the entire province by 2013 “is very real”, says the department of housing.

Currently, Gauteng municipalities are losing R1,2billion on lost or unaccounted water.

As a result, the province said it would be lobbying for R600million per year for the next six years needed for technical skills development, retention and infrastructure upgrade and management.

Johannesburg municipality uses about 500 million cubic meters of water a year, of which about 30 percent is unaccounted for. That is worth bout R522million.

He said although the Lesotho highlands Water Project was being expanded, the province did not feel the benefits of the project because of high levels of illegal water usage.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gold tops $1,000. But South African miners not benefitting, and they shouldn't - here's why

ChristianScienceMonitor: South African mining companies are hit hard by two economic trends: One, 11 percent inflation. Second, the falling value of the US dollar – which is the currency that all gold is bought and sold in world wide – means that mining companies here see almost no benefit from higher prices.

In 2009 gold has risen from $750 an ounce to over $1,000 an ounce, but at the same time, the value of the dollar has dropped from 10 rand to 7.5 rand to the dollar. In rand terms, the value of gold has not increased at all.

In addition, South African mines are more expensive to operate than elsewhere.

"In South Africa, gold is up to 3 miles deep. The cost of producing our gold is much higher than it is abroad, so this is another reason why mining companies need to contain their costs."

SHOOT: Salary increases are not the answer. Once you increase salaries, inflation [the average price of food and everything else] will also increase. The painful reality is that today, in whatever industry you're in, you're working harder for less. We're approaching fundamental limits to growth, while the human population increases unabated. What can you expect but diminishing returns under these conditions, and increased unemployment.
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But the joyous mood hides a serious problem. These workers are striking for a 13 percent salary increase. Food prices here are skyrocketing, and gold prices are hovering at more than $1,000 an ounce.

"[DRD Gold] is paying us peanuts," says Juliet Sibanyoni, a plant operator, "but we are not monkeys. They should not pay us peanuts."

But DRD Gold, which owns Crown Mines and two other facilities, says record gold prices don't make record profits. Even though gold prices are high globally, the value of the US dollar is weak. By the time DRD Gold converts its dollars into the strong South African rand, the company says that it sees almost no profit.

For an industry that once defined South Africa's gold-rush economy, these are worrying times, and the growing bumptiousness of South Africa's unions is a sign of more trouble ahead.

"The only thing you can do is work harder and work smarter, and who wants to hear that?" says Duncan. "I don't either, but that's the simple truth."

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LIMITED OFFER : Get the lowest ADSL prices in South Africa now

SHOOT: This looks pretty awesome.
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The cheapest broadband in South Africa is R29/GB from Afrihost

Techcentral: IS business solutions director Hillel Shrock says Afrihost’s product is a clever marketing strategy to help it gain traction. “It’s difficult to position one’s brand without having some price advantage,” Shrock says.

“The question is to what extent this is sustainable,” he says. Though Shrock expects broadband prices to come down “dramatically” in the next few years, he says it’s difficult for smaller players like Afrihost to maintain loss-leading prices for too long.

Visser says Afrihost’s move could result in a price war.

SHOOT: Let's hope so. Good to see some market disruption going on.
Gian Visser

Internet service provider Afrihost has set the proverbial cat among the pigeons by slashing its broadband prices to below cost in what could mark the start of a price war.

Afrihost, which provides Web hosting services, entered the broadband digital subscriber line (DSL) market just two months ago. But already it’s causing a stir by cutting the price of bandwidth — at least temporarily — to just R29/GB, or 2,9c/MB. Until now, DSL broadband prices have typically been set at between R50/GB and R70/GB.

Afrihost CEO Gian Visser, pictured, concedes that the company is losing money at R29/GB. But he says the offer makes good commercial sense.

He says Afrihost has taken the money it was planning to spend on advertising its DSL products and instead decided to use that cash to subsidise bandwidth.

However, he says the new, lower price won’t necessarily last long for new subscribers. “It could end tomorrow; it could end in a few weeks,” he says.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Drinking one or more sodas a day increases your chances of obesity by 27 percent.

Naturalnews: Sadly, the study didn't look at rates of diabetes and bone loss -- the phosphoric acid in sodas causes osteoporosis, even in males -- but there's little doubt that a similar correlation exists between soda consumption and those diseases, too.

The whole issue of aspartame and diet sodas also wasn't looked at in this study, but that's yet another important area of investigation that will probably be delayed for many years until the number of people drinking diet soda who get diagnosed with brain cancer can no longer be denied.

SHOOT: I used to guzzle the stuff. Now I only drink soda when I go to the movies - Coke and popcorn.
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Thanks to a new California study, soda companies can no longer hide behind the defense of uncertainty when it comes to links between soda consumption and obesity. This massive study questioned the soda consumption habits of 43,000 adults and 4,000 adolescents and concluded this: Drinking one or more sodas a day increases your chances of obesity by 27 percent. A whopping 62% of adults who drink at least one soda each day are overweight or obese.
The study also found that Californians are gulping down sodas at an unprecedented rate: At least one soda is consumed daily by 41 percent of children, 62 percent of adolescents and 24 percent of adults. Through the study, another shocking statistic was revealed: The average California teen consumes 39 pounds of liquid sugar a year solely from soda consumption.
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South Africa: House robberies are up by a massive 27,3%

SHOOT: Business robberies are up 41%. I did predict this when it was clear that the economy was nosediving. I had my own Trek bicycle frame zipped off my patio within a few days of moving into a new place a few weeks ago. This is inside a gated complex with dogs etc, and the bike had no wheels. This means someone carried the frame right past the security guards who control access to the road.
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  • Sexual offences increased by 10,1percent.
  • House robberies are up by a massive 27,3percent.
  • Car and truck hijackings increased by 5percent and 15,4percent, respectively.
  • Business robberies went up by 41,5percent.
  • Murder dropped by 3,4percent.
  • Between April last year and April this year, 2,1million crimes were committed. The National Prosecuting Authority is currently prosecuting only a million crimes.

    Mthethwa hit out at the rate of house robberies.

    “We simply cannot tolerate a situation where people do not feel safe in their homes,” he said.

    Almost two-thirds of all murders happen between people who know each other, especially in poor communities, Mthethwa said.

    “This is usually when people have too much to drink, love triangles and jealousy,” crime information analyst Chris de Kock said.

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    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    5 Free and Beautiful Blogger Templates

    SHOOT: Been thinking about upgrading the look 'n feel of SHOOT. There is some B.E.A.Yewtiful stuff out there.
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