Awesome Grootbos Getaway Giveaway!

Anyone who’s ever driven from Stanford to Gansbaai (on the Cape Coastal route in South Africa that is!) would have noticed the sign to Grootbos on the left about halfway there!  The modest sign belies the exquisite nature of this place, a gem on the whalecoast of South Africa!

5-star style in the heart of Nature at Grootbos

Angie Durrant, over at The Lucky Pony blog is giving away a 5-star escape for two to this stunning destination.  Head over to her blog, ‘like’ the Grootbos Facebook page and the Lucky Pony Facebook page, share the Grootbos Giveaway post and you’re on your way to be a contender for this marvellous prize!

See more of what Grootbos has to offer over here. If you thought that going into nature would be rough-and-tumble, think again! This is sustainable eco-tourism, 5-star luxury and breaking away rolled together in a style not oft repeated.

Stunning unspoilt beaches

We did say 5-star… Absolutely!

The region, Hermanus, Stanford & Gansbaai are rich in offerings, ranging from mountain hikes with incredible views over Walker Bay, beach walks all the way from Sandbaai to Pearly Beach, whale watching in spring and summer, incredible fynbos, wildlife, with leopard sightings not unheard of, surfing, swimming, kayaking and even shopping (gasp!) at the markets in the area.  No wonder it’s fast growing in popularity as both a weekend and holiday destination.

The Problem with the Russian Nuclear Deal

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

Nuclear Power Stations don’t pollute the environment by definition, but shady political deals do! (Photo Credit: marya from San Luis Obispo, USA)

The Russians may have advanced their technology beyond that of the rest of the world, be able to enrich the fuel and burn the nuclear waste, and may even be offering South Africa a good deal, but there are serious problems with “Atomic Tina’s” agreement with them.

Here is the agreement: Russian nuclear cooperation agreement

Some of my notes on the problems with this document:

Article 2: “Cooperation under this Agreement shall be conducted in strict accordance with the laws of each Party state” Even before the agreement comes into force, this has already been ignored.  The process for procurement of such services must be competitive and transparent.  This could mean the agreement is null and void already.

Article 9: “For the purpose of implementation of this Agreement the South African Party, in accordance with its national laws, will facilitate the provision of special favorable treatment in determining the amount of tax and non-tax payments, fees and compensation, which will be applied to the projects implemented in the Republic of South Africa within the areas of cooperation as outlined in Article 3 of this Agreement“.  Business is business. The law in South Africa requires that the state may not discriminate.  This is blatantly the case here.

Article 13.2 (iv) (what Russia provides) “shall be re-exported or transferred from the jurisdiction of the Republic of South Africa to any other state only on advance written permission from the Russian Federation according to the specified conditions”.  A blanket statement that prevents South Africa from optimally using the technology, having to ask Russia for permission first?

Article 13.4. “Nuclear material transferred to the Republic of South Africa under this Agreement shall not be enriched and reprocessed without prior written consent of the Government of the Russian Federation.”  So we buy Uranium from Russia, but we may not do with it as we please after paying for it?  This flies in the face of property rights as afforded by our constitution.  What this comes down do is that Russia will “rent” us fuel and they will dictate what we can do with it.  No competition or self-help unless they say so. Period.

Article 15: A massive problem in it’s entirety.  Although the details of the cooperation have not yet been determined, this indemnified the Russians of any liability whatsoever in the case of a nuclear incident.  Surely this is premature?  The first thing that must be determined is who does what.  Once the areas of responsibility have been demarcated, then the responsibilities can be determined.

Article 17:2. “This Agreement is valid for 20 years and then automatically extended for successive 10-year periods until one of the parties, no later than 1 year in advance, notifies in writing through diplomatic channels the other Party of its intention to terminate the Agreement.”  20 years, with automatic 10 year renewal??  A very bad idea indeed.  Should the lessons learned from Eskom’s agreement with Billiton’s Mozal, Hillside and Bayside smelters not be heeded? They have cost Eskom (and South Africa for that matter) R11.5bn simply because the contracts are so long, that it might as well have been forever.

In essence, the biggest problem with this is not that it’s an agreement to acquire nuclear power stations for South Africa. After all, France has 58 and the USA 100 nuclear reactors and in all nuclear reactor incidents worldwide, only 10 fatalities have been recorded, excluding Chernobyl in which 50 people died.  Compared to the huge health and environmental impact that coal-fired plants have, this is minute.  The problem lies in the secrecy and illegal ways in which Jacob Zuma and his accomplices have gone about manoeuvring in secret to get to this point.

It is understood that parliament has to ratify the deal, so here’s to a massive grass-roots uprising against it!  Let’s say no for the right reasons.  If this can be stopped, so can other corruption and underhanded deals in South Africa!

Magento Store Installation And Configuration Notes

1. Change Theme (and solution if it doesn’t seem to work)

After installing a demo store for a Magento installation, I tried changing the theme just to learn how the system works.  There are many how-to’s that explain how to install a theme automagically (http://info.magento.com/rs/magentocommerce/images/InstallingMagentoConnectExtensions4%200.pdf) and manually (http://www.rockettheme.com/forum/free-magento-stuff/131772-installing-the-quasar-template-on-a-fresh-magento-store) among many, but all fail to mention a very important aspect of themes:  Once a theme is installed, you have to go to the CMS menu, click “Pages”, select a page (click it) and click “Design” on the left.  Then select the new theme from the “Custom Theme” dropdown box.  Once you save the selection, the new theme will show for that page.

There are countless forums and pages that I have come across where some commenter had this exact problem and no-where is it answered by the Magento gurus.  Astounding!  I can just assume that this is so obvious to a seasoned Magento user, that it is ignored.  Thanks to user Allysin over here, I finally found this solution.

2. More to follow…

How to test for a valid twitter handle using a regular expression

I use Redmine CRM, which allows custom fields in the Contacts, Deals and other modules.  The validity of an entry may be tested with a regular expression.  I had to do quite a bit of testing before I finally got it right (not doing this every day!), so here is what I ended up using:

^@([A-Za-z0-9_]+{1,15}$)

Meaning is should start with an “@” and then have at least 1 of A-Z, a-z, 0-9 or _, but not more than15.

Hope this helps someone else somewhere, sometime 🙂

Jesus and the Wrath of God

Good read!

Escape to Reality

blood-stained crossAre you familiar with the hymn In Christ Alone? Do you know this hymn is not hundreds of years old? It’s not even 20 years old. In Christ Alone is a very modern hymn. It was written in 2001 by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.

I mention this hymn because it has these wonderful lyrics:

Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

“Wait a second, Paul. Are you saying God poured out his wrath on Jesus? That sounds twisted.”

I agree that there is something dreadfully wrong with the picture of a father killing his son to satisfy some legal need for blood. It falsely portrays God as guilty of filicide, the murder of his own child.

I know some people have been turned off from the gospel…

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South African Radio Stations via Rhythmbox

Since I run an Ubuntu desktop environment, I get to do with all the idiosyncrasies of service providers that imagine a “Windows only” world…  <sigh>

Here’s what to use to get radio via Rhythmbox or other music players:

  • Cape Talk 567 MW – rtsp://196.35.68.110/capetalk-live
  • RSG – rtsp://196.35.68.110/rsg_22?MSWMExt=.asf

If you have more streams (that you have tested!), please comment below and I’ll add them here.