Tag Archives: online

The Man in the Glass House

CAMPAIGN: Wired comedian to live in Connect Box for 10 weeks

THROUGH the launch of its In the Connect Box concept, FNB Connect has challenged one man to live his life inside a glass box for 10 weeks using only FNB Connect’s Surf (data) and Talk (voice) product offerings.

Voted as “best Internet service provider for customer service as well as billing” in the 2009 MyBroadband survey, FNB Connect aims to use its digital platform to showcase inventive ways for FNB clients to save on costs in today’s highly competitive broadband and telecommunications market.

“The aim is to prove that through FNB Connect you can live your whole life digitally and at the same time do it for a lot cheaper compared with most other ISPs. We wanted to do this in a fun and dynamic manner by developing a campaign that embraces the digital world in keeping with our status as a virtual Internet service provider,” said Zanele Hadebe, marketing head for FNB Connect.

The FNB Glass House

FNB Glass House

The FNB Glass House - Thomas Gumede's home for the next few weeks

FNB has created a see-through state-of-the-art glass house that consists of a tastefully decorated sitting room, bedroom, kitchen (kitted with the latest appliances) and obviously a bathroom which will not be visible to the public.

The portable home is moving from shopping mall to shopping mall nationally and will allow Thomas Gumede to do live interactions with the general public online and by use of a cellphone and using Internet software.

Live interactions will demonstrate how effective, user-friendly and cost effective three online FNB products are. Anyone who happens to be in the vicinity of the house (which will be moved to various shopping malls during the 10-week period) will see the Gumede’s every move, except (of course) for his bathroom and shower breaks.

The benefit of Gumede living in the house in public spaces will enable folk to physically see how the products are used as well and mingle cyberly with this young celebrity.

The concept, which went live on October 14, is one of the most effective ways live or on a television screen to show physically how online products work. Once the 10 weeks are over, the general public will get an opportunity to win the plentiful new-age appliances occupying the glass house.

The man inside the glass box

Thomas Gumede
Thomas Gumede

The Connect box will travel nationwide, making a series of visits to shopping malls in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town.

Travelling with the Connect Box is up-and-coming comedian Thomas Gumede. He will live his life in the box, which started in Jo’burg on October 14, making his final exit on December 20 in Cape Town.

Gumede is a young actor and comedian who originally hails from Tongaat in KwaZulu-Natal. He has acted in major South African television drama series, including Rhythm City and A Place Called Home. He is currently on our screens as the presenter for a reality series called So You Think You’re Funny and has released a stand-up comedy DVD, Thomas Gumede Live.

The FNB Connect Challenge
Gumede’s challenge is to exhibit what can be done using FNB Connect online. His aim is to prove that you can do anything, anywhere, anytime for less using only the Internet.

Through Facebook, Twitter and his personal website and blog at www.intheconnectbox.co.za, Gumede will be set daily tasks that he will need to undertake using only Cell Pay Point, eBucks, an FNB credit card and FNB Connect Surf (data) and Talk (voice).

Members of the public will be encouraged to assist him in delivering on his tasks or even create tasks for him to undertake. The public will also be able to communicate with Gumede throughout the campaign.

Thomas will live in the house all by himself for 10 weeks, without any visitors from family, friends or colleagues. He will not be allowed to leave the house unless compromising circumstances arise — for instance if the house gets flooded in a freak plumbing accident.

The young comedian will live his life vicariously through three FNB on-line products, which have been designed to make using the Internet much easier, faster and more cost effective. The benefits of these services will be fully demonstrated by Gumede — educating the public on how the products work.

“We are really excited to have Thomas involved in this groundbreaking campaign as he brings huge value to the campaign. Our aim is to showcase to our clients that through our innovative data and voice product offering, FNB clients can save substantially with FNB Connect,” said Hadebe.

Connect Box dates around the country:

  • Johannesburg: Cresta Shopping Mall: 14-18 October, East Rand Mall: 21-25 October, 2009, Clearwater Mall: 28 October – 1 November and the FNB Whiskey Live Festival at Sandton Convention Centre: 11-14 Nov
  • Durban: Gateway Shopping Mall: 18 – 28 November
  • Cape Town: Canal Walk: 1- 6 December, Cape Gate Centre: 8 – 13 December and V&A Waterfront: 15 – 20 December

FNB Connect is a virtual internet service provider, providing:

  • FNB Connect Surf: a prepaid ADSL data solution that offers clients unshaped data that makes it ideal to surf the web, conduct online activities such as gaming, downloading of big files and making internet calls. There are no caps, no contracts and a 12 month data carry over.
  • FNB Connect Talk: a voice offering that can save FNB clients up to 50% on their phone bill using an existing internet connection to make calls from their PC, compatible cellphone or landline. Free calls can also be made when calling other FNB Connect Talk users.

For more information on the FNB Connect campaign, please visit the In the Connect Box website at www.intheconnectbox.co.za or to learn more about FNB Connect please visit www.fnbconnect.co.za

Doodling with website design

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Free website design tools and resources

MANY people maintain the belief that nothing is free in today’s world. While this may be true in the physical world, there is plenty of free stuff on the web (if you know where to look). This is particularly true with regard to creating and developing your very own website.

web wrenchSeveral web developers simply coin it by creating sites for individuals who don’t know any better. Granted there are several brilliant website designers who deserve to be paid well for their expertise. However, there are others who will charge a hand and a foot to create something that you could quite easily create yourself for free.

Blogging is the most free form of beginning a journey in website design and development. One is able to choose a ready-made design from a large library of templates, publish posts to your heart’s content and make use of a variety of free-to-use tools. Taking things to the next level, however, is a different story and often involves having to spend something.

There are several website builders that label themselves as “free” yet there is always a catch. Basically the beginning stages are free, but the hidden agenda becomes apparent once you become excited about website building and want to take things a little further.

Nevertheless, I have come across two website-building sites that I would like to share with anyone interested in self-taught web design. After all, teaching oneself a new skill, whatever that may be, should always result in the warm and fuzzy feelings of self-satisfaction.

Doodlekit - free, online website builder

Doodlekit - free, online website builder

DOODLEKIT
Doodlekit is a fully hosted free website builder and content management system that claims to be the quickest and most advanced website tool available. That is a mighty claim which is surely shared with several other website builders.

However, I would agree that Doodlekit is at least easy to use. First-timers may not be able to design a website “within minutes” yet can at least doodle with designing for as long as they please without any charge.

What’s also great is that the site doesn’t require the installation of any software – all aspects of it are done online via the Doodlekit website.

There are some great-looking examples of what some users have created using Doodlekit, such as www.ama-dojo.com

350pages

350 pages - the quick & easy website builder

350 PAGES
350 pages markets itself as the “quick and easy website builder” that is “fun and flexible”. They’re also convinced that us ‘ordinary’ folk can produce a professional-looking website in minutes, if not “seconds!”.

The site does have some great features though, despite being a little over-appealing (a typical tactic used to rope one in). It is a bit more professional than Doodlekit in the sense that it allows one to fully customise each heading, button bar, logo, divider, image and photo gallery, and even goes as far as allowing the customisation of fonts, styles and colours. Such stylistic changes are often deep in the realm of professional web design.

“If you want to build a web page, but are perhaps clueless when it comes to web design, you might benefit from paying a visit to 350 pages” – 350 pages user

What’s also great about both these design tools/websites above is they don’t require you to do any coding whatsoever. Specifically with 350 pages, layout is as simple as dragging and dropping content using your mouse.

It may be a sad reality for web developers who slogged away for years learning HTML, but a warm welcome to those who don’t know an “<a href>” from an “<align-left>” code.

A particularly pleasant feature of 350 pages is that it offers a library of video tutorials to get you started. The only catch (as the title suggests) is that you can only design up to 350 pages for free before having to pay anything.

Yet this isn’t really a catch, because if you get as far as 350 pages you should have built up enough confidence and web design skills to take things into your own hands. I wish you many hours of happy doodling.

** More online tips & tricks **

Online shopping tips for the festive season

IF you’re tired of mad dashes to the shops for that last forgotten item, manic searches for parking, tussles with strangers over the last turkey, and queues longer than the Nile, then shopping online is the way to overcome your festive season shopping nightmare.

Online shopping is fast and convenient, making it incredibly easy to shop around for a better deal. You can find almost anything online, from groceries to discounted flight tickets, and best of all, Internet shops are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Here are a few tips from Mweb to ensure that your online shopping experience is safe and hassle-free this festive season:

Secure your computer
Your computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software installed. Security software must be updated regularly to provide protection against the latest threats. A good Internet security package is vital, but can be expensive.

Mweb subscribers can download Mweb Total Protection from McAfee online for free. This is a state-of-the-art package specifically designed to protect your computer against malicious software and hackers, and will automatically remind you to perform any updates.

Software such as this will also give you warnings when the site you’re working with may be insecure.

Check if the site is safe
When buying online, look for signs that the website is secure before entering your personal and financial information. This is indicated by a closed padlock on the browser’s status bar or by an “s” at the end of http (e.g., https://www.onlineshop/bargains.com).

Shopping @ homeOnly buy from trusted merchants
Only shop at companies that you have heard of or that have been recommended by a trusted source. If you have not heard of the company before, but are keen on its merchandise, why not look for its contact details and give its people a call.

Know what you are paying for
Always read the seller’s descriptions carefully and note that name-brand items at greatly reduced prices could be counterfeit. Ask for proof of authenticity if necessary as you can’t scrutinise items like you would if you were in a store when shopping online.

Online Payments
Online payments are usually made with a credit card. When given a choice, rather use a credit card instead of a debit card because credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard protect you against unauthorised purchases.

Remember to keep your passwords safe and don’t save them on your computer, even as a separate file, just as you wouldn’t keep your credit card’s PIN number in your wallet.

Log off from your web browser after shopping
When you’ve finished shopping online, log off from the website and close your web browser. This will end your session safely, and will keep your personal information protected. Also, be wary of entering personal financial information at an Internet café or public access spot.

The cyber-world is not that different from the real world and similar rules apply. Trust your instincts and be street-wise. Happy shopping, and may you receive many happy feelings this festive season 🙂

A great place to start a safe and secure shopping experience online is Take2

Related post: Your online shopping guide  The Simple Life (online)

The Simple Life (online)

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TECHNOLOGY is often blamed for complicating our lives instead of simplifying them. But there are ways to harness the power of technology to achieve your dream of an ordered, less chaotic life. Natalie Thayer, GM of MWEB, offers some advice on how to get the balance right:

  • Go grocery shopping onlineyummy
    Instead of wandering the supermarket aisles, have food, wine and other household goods delivered to your doorstep. Many retailers including Woolworths and Pick ‘n Pay, have online shopping facilities which can save you money, petrol and travel time.
  • Skype logoMake phone calls over the Internet
    Internet phone services, like MTalk Webcall, allow you to make national, international and cell phone calls very cheaply – and sometimes for free. An ideal alternative to a traditional landline, Webcall is easy to use and you only need a broadband Internet connection.

Transfer money, pay bills and bank onlineonline banking
If you haven’t already, set yourself up with Internet banking. You can move money from one account to another, do direct deposits and pay your accounts online so you don’t have to go into a store or stand in bank queues longer than the Nile to settle your accounts.

  • Use the Internet for school projects and homework
    Instead of a shelf full of outdated encyclopaedias, get your kids to use the Internet for school project research and even exam revision. It will save you money and trips to the library. A useful site for students is sparknotes.com

Upgrade your Internet connection
If you are still using a painfully slow dial-up connection, save yourself time and frustration by upgrading to a broadband connection like ADSL. Faster connection speeds and a fixed monthly fee will let you rediscover the joys of the Internet. You’ll also avoid tying up your phone line for hours at a time.

“The Internet is not only a source of information but also a great way to get your daily tasks done, saving you time and petrol money. The careful use of technology can help simplify life – you just need to choose the technology you really need to achieve your goals.”
— Natalie Thayer, GM of MWEB

— issued on behalf of MWEB

Related post: Online shopping tips Your online shopping guide

The reality of the virtual

Just when one thought it was possible to escape the confines of real life by emerging oneself into a virtual world, Second Life as a popular example, is becoming rife with destructive practices from child abuse to prostitution, and is now becoming a site for religious convergence.

Catholic missionaries have trekked the Earth to spread the word of God since the colonial era, and are now finding ways to Christianise the virtual world. An article set to appear in the August addition of the Vatican approved journal – Civilta Cattolica, is aimed to encourage Catholic missionaries to immerse themselves into the virtual world of online computer games in an attempt to convert cyber souls.

If you are not yet familiar with Second Life it is basically a vast computer-generated online world in which players can create virtual versions of themselves (known as Avatars) and can buy or sell virtual…stuff and interact with other users in several ways. The game is huge, ‘housing’ roughly 8 million ‘residents’ at present.

A Vatican priest named Father Spadaro, has been quoted in several online publications saying that “sin has flourished in the various towns which make up Second Life”. According to the same publications, acts of gambling and prostitution have become rife within the game. To give a fact closer to reality, $1.5 million (R105 million) is exchanged in the online world each day, according to Linden Labs – the creators of Second Life.

Spadaro has also said, however, that “while the virtual world might be a refuge for some people seeking to flee the real one, it is also full of people seeking something more from life, including, possibly, religious enlightenment”.

Angle AvatarThus there appears to positive light on either side of the ‘Christianising of the virtual world’ argument. However, the penalties for such virtual sin is becoming very real in some countries where virtual misdemeanours constitute real crimes. Germany as an example has already called authorities to investigate cases of paedophilia and virtual child abuse in the online world. In other countries virtual gambling has been completely banned.

The erotic dimension of Second Life may be a little extreme, offering players the opportunity to buy unique genitalia for their avatars, but just how dangerous is a virtual act of prostitution or paedophilia? It might not say much for the mindsets of the ‘sinful’ players, but what real damage do such acts constitute?

Second Life has already been penetrated by commercial conglomerates such as Adidas, Nike, Calvin Klein, BMW, Mercedes and Vodafone, which are seizing the commercial prospects the game offers. But is there really still room, or a necessity, for religious penetration too? If the virtual world is as close to reality as it appears, then what’s there to prevent the formation of religious cults? Or the outbreak of religious wars from occurring within the game as they do in real life? To me it seems that the real danger is a blurring of reality with virtuality.

Related post:
Experience the Internet in 3D

Links
The New Game Plan: Virtual Reality
10 ways online gaming will change the future
Jesuits say take word of God to Second Life – REUTERS