Friday, 3 October 2008

Moving! ... No longer blogging here

I will no longer be blogging here.

I have moved this blog, you can find ismail blogging at or read about startups in africa or read what i have to say at techleader or have a look at my company site: ignite2

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Monday, 18 August 2008

Autopage and their cold spam calls!

I have just been back in South Africa for a little over one month now, my mobile number has been permanently on after a 2 year hiatus for just a month. In that time, i have received 3 cold calls from Altech Autopage, offering me special deals on contracts. Right now, i am using prepaid and prefer it that way, i may just up and leave for another country at any time.

What irk's me though, i repeatedly asked them to remove my name and not call me again, and yet they still call me. Few years ago it was someone trying to sell me insurance. It is all very Highly annoying, I asked the guy where they had got my number and he just hung up. Who is selling my details? What gave them the right? Did i agree to this?

Here's a tip to marketers,
Sell to people who want to be sold to, do not force things down peoples throats.

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Friday, 15 August 2008

Is vodacom billing correctly for 3G?

I have been using my vodacom 3g data bundle for about a month now. I use the modem with cheetahwatch a great application for mac, that adds a signal strength icon in your menubar. I was finally cut off for having hit my 2g cap yesterday, but cheetahwatch showed i had used in excess of 3 GB.

Now, this is interesting to me as for the last two years i have been doing some consulting work related to revenue assurance.

Looking at the logging done by the vodaphone application that comes bundled with the modem, you find a descrepency as it shows a total of 2GB.

So either, cheetah watch is logging data usage incorrectly or Vodacom is not charging data bundles correctly.

Anyone out there using vodacom / vodaphone 3g data connection and cheetahwatch notice the same thing?

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Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Gmail Down?

So for the first time, in the many moons i have been using Gmail. I got back a "Server Error' message. Anyone else facing similar issues? See below:

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Allow people to create a DVD of TED Talks using freedom toasters

Something i have wanted to do for a while was distribute TED talks and Video tutorials on DVD to people who do not have access to the internet or who cannot afford the bandwith costs to download them. I can truly say that i am where i am today in part due to the power of the net and the knowledge I have gained from the countless hours i have spent on it, it is a shame that other people cannot afford to access these resources.

Having completely forgotten about the Freedom toaster project from the shuttleworth foundation, reading Nur's post at techleader on the freedom toaster you realise it would be the perfect vehcile to distribute these DVD's. After a short email to Jason Hudson from the project, i will be compiling a list of the best talks to be included in the freedom toaster and would like the recommendations to be a community effort, What are your favourite Ted Talks? Those that were thought provoking, made a difference in your life or changed your perception for the better. Post the links to the talks in the comments, pop me a mail with your list at or send it via twitter to ismaild.


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Has muti made a fundamental mistake in community management?

So muti in the last few days has been in flames. It all started when someone posted a link on muti to a screenshot from Coda of apparent spam from blueworld. Imod stirred the pot asking a few questions on his blog in response. Both the submissions to muti hit around 35 votes very quickly, but were then removed. (Following the link comes back with a 404)

Let me be clear, i am a fan of muti and find it extremely useful, i access it so many times a day i actually created a desktop application for it and the guys from blueworld seem to be doing a lot of cool things as well. Though i am going to ask the questions that need to be asked. Has muti made a fundamental mistake when it comes to community management?

Granted that the noise being made may be a bit loud regarding the spam, though just recently the blogging community made a similar noise against deal-a-day email spam which hit muti as well. Charl is a respected member of the SA blogging community and they did come out with a response and the issue should have died there.

However both the submissions were then subsequently pulled from muti, one at the request of Chris. The other i have no idea why? Coda then asked the question on why was the second post pulled? I find myself asking the same thing. Why?

Once muti starts making decisions on censoring content of what people submit it's heading down a slippery slope. The thing is you can never please everyone. Google themselves refuse to censor search results. Even on Youtube, only content that is clearly hate speech is removed. So where does this leave muti?

I think the guys at muti need to decide if they want to cater for a small group of people, all of whom have the same opinions and that way censoring of content that differs from the general group consensus is fine. However if muti wants to cater for a larger community, censoring and pulling submissions should only be done in extreme circumstances of Hate Speech. Also note, with previous submissions of hate speech the vote count was merely cleared, the spam posts however were completely deleted including comments and the discussions around it.

We need to realize that since muti currently caters for large number of people, there are going to be differing view points and you really do not want to play the adjudicator, judge or take sides. Muti has clearly done this, and as the facilitator of the blogging community at large i believe this is a fundamental mistake.

As an example this raises questions like:

  • Someone posts something that is factually incorrect and paints me in a bad light, could i request the post be removed?
  • Or maybe this post could be pulled at the request of Yasser since it was clearly critical?
As you can see, the questions this action raises could go on and on, and you would never get to the end of it. This is a problem faced by many companies, Google, Facebook, Twitter. Even telecoms companies like Vodacom and Cell C where people complain falsely of harrasment via sms. Unless the community is extremely small it becomes increasingly difficult to be the judge, therefore the best response is to set clear guidelines on what is not accepted(i.e hate speech) and can be removed, anything that does not meet the criteria of unacceptable stays.

muti needs to 'grow up' and realise it does not just cater for a small group of people any longer with the same opinions, and with that nobody, no matter who they are (including shareholders) should be able to influence the content that gets removed. Let's just hope this is something that will not be repeated again and we can take away a lesson from this.

Update: Mandy De Waal has a post regarding this as well

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Monday, 21 July 2008

Business opportunity for SEO

Doing a search earlier i came across something interesting. If you search for "CellC Ussd Recharge" the top most link is MTN which is actually a direct competitor of Cell C. Jeremiah Owang say's Google is actually your coporate homepage. Considering that, do you really want to drive people doing searches for your brand to competitors?

This would make a good pitch for SEO business.

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Saturday, 12 July 2008

The Iphone 3G Effect

I wrote a post about a month ago on the getting an unlocked 3G Iphone, it seems a ton of people are searching just for that "3G Iphone without a contract" and "Importing 3g iphone", it would be a good idea to follow the advice in this post at imod. Have a look at the graph from amatomu below. The 3g Iphone post totally dawrfs the rest, most of the traffic coming from google.

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Why is banned in the UAE?

So, I innocently followed the top most link on muti hot and i get thrown this:

"The page you are trying to access may contain content that is not consistent with the moral, social and cultural values of the UAE" Does the site contain pr0n? Hate speech? Hacking? What? If you know respond in the comments!

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Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Create a desktop app for

I have been using a desktop app based on fluid and the iphone twitter client hahlo to access twitter. Fluid is a SSB (site specific browser) that converts a site to a native mac application, that you can add to the doc/menu bar, it even allows for dock badges(Those little numbers that show new messages). This is slightly different from Adobe Air and Microsoft Silverlight in that it uses nothing 'new' other then current open internet technologies. I created one for muti as well, it may be of use to others out there so here are the instructions.

* Note these instructions are for mac, for windows replace fluid with mozilla's prism, the same script should work on prism / firefox as well.

1. Download and install fluid - Instructions and details at the Fluid website

2. Run fluid, and fill in the details like the screenshot below:
Name: muti
Location: Applications

3. You can either choose to use the default website fav icon or a custom icon. I created a custom icon so it fits well in with the rest of the icons in the menubar. Feel free to use it
Rightclick and save as:

4. Click "Create", fluid will work for a bit, then click "launch now"

5. A new window will popup with the title muti, click on muti in the menu bar and then preferences and select advanced:

muti > Preferences > Advanced

6. Under "Allow browsing to URL's matching this pattern" change to **

7. Optional:
muti > Preferences > Appearance : you can change the window opacity
muti > Prefrences > General : Tick open in the background this opens all links clicked on muti in the background in your default browser.

8. Close the prefrences panel

9. In the muti window, logon with your username and password

10. With muti application still open, click the script icon: and select browse

11. In the new window that pops up, enter in "muti" in the search box and hit enter, click on the first option. This will take you to a page with a description of the script, feel free to look at the source code. The script can be found at:

12. Click "Install Script" , this will display the source code with an alert, Click Install

13. On the menubar click the script icon: again, and confirm that muti is listed there with a tick next to it

14. Close down the window

15. Select muti > Convert to menuextra SSB

16. All done, now you have a desktop app for muti that looks good in the small window of fluid and it should look like this:

* Elements on the right side navigation bar on muti seems to be used for a lot of things like voting and logging in, since this was removed logging in will not work. Voting will still work since i catered for that in the java script. If for some reason you need to login again, deactivate the script, logon and reactivate it again.
* Windows users can use the same script, just replace fluid with mozilla prism (not tested)
* If you prefer the default page to be hot on step 2, just enter instead
* To refresh, right click and select reload
* Feel free to modify/customize the JS code
* Possible future features:
-Dock badge with the number of new submissions. Though this is not currently possible since there is no way to differentiate new items since the last refresh.
- Auto Refresh

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