Monday, 16 June 2008

Access Denied in the UAE, Dubai

Somethings seriously wrong with internet access in the UAE, majority of the sites that i click through throw up the following error.

Publish Post

"Access Denied (license_expired)

A license has expired on the Proxy, and your request is not permitted: "The SGOS license has expired"
A new license must be obtained."

It seems that someone forgot to pay the licensing fee's for the proxy thats being used to control access to the internet. Some sites are working fine though, for example Google, Gmail, Google Reader, Facebook, Plurk, muti, ReadWriteWeb, TechCrunch.

Sites that i have tried that do not seem to be working, Twitter,, The Economist, Wikipedia, IOL, Wired and several other blogs that i access.

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Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Did Apple purposely allow Iphone's to flood other markets (Like in the middle east?)

After my post yesterday, regarding how to import Iphone's at the retail price. There has been a discussion on the comments and twitter around the post.

Riy & Justin say you are not allowed to order from the US store with a non US credit card, this surprised me since for me and several other people it works. As long as you have a US based address. This got me thinking though since Riy said he tried to order the IPhone online but could not due to him not having a US credit card.

Could it be possible that they blocked non us credit cards initially? And once they knew the 3G Iphone was going to be launched soon they allowed international credit cards?

That would explain, the fact for the last 6 months of 2007 you could not get your hands on an IPhone here in Dubai, but since January the market has been practically flooded. Almost every mobile store had large amounts of Iphone stock.

Did Apple make the change, allowing non US credit cards to purchase stock online knowing that this would lead to tons of phones being imported into markets that did not have the phone officially? Put in another way, did they purposely turn a blind eye to this, so they could 'Dump' the soon to be obsolete stock to meet sales targets?

It would be interesting to know if anyone else tried to buy the phone online with a non us credit card sometime last year and was unsuccessful, post back on the comments or on twitter with the approximate date that you tried.

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Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Get the 3G Iphone without a 2 year contract, Cheaply

So, you waited up, sat at your computer and eagerly awaited the news on the 3G IPhone. You have drunk the cool aid:

You cant wait to get your hands on your iPrecious....

But the launch date is only the 11 July. You have to wait a month more if you are in one of the 21 countries, But what if you want to get your hands on the phone and you happen to live in the countries that are not part of the list or you do not want to sign up for a 2 Year contract? What if you cant wait?

The price of the 8GB is set to $199 with a 2 year contract, so expect the prices of phones without a contract to be much higher. There have been discussions on twitter that the price may be as high as it was for the first IPhone 4000-5000 AED(R8000/R10000) in places like South Africa and UAE. Well i am going to tell you how to get it at the normal retail price without being ripped off (Just between us ok?) .

This blog has moved, read more about Getting an Officially Unlocked 3g Iphone

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Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Stop Drawing racial lines in the Sand, Take Action

Recently Mandy Dewaal wrote a post entitled "Who's who in the web 2.0 zoo", and she concluded that web 2.0 was a "whiteboys club". Something you would bound to agree with given the people noted in the article. However, Ramon Thomas responded with “Who’s who in the non-white Web 2.0 South African Zoo“.

I asked a similar question on this blog several weeks back, "Where are all the black bloggers and readers?" and noted we needed practical steps. Posts like Mandy's and Ramons are counter productive and actually serve no purpose as they are separating us in groups. Nic pointed this out as well on his blog and Nur Ahmed also looks at the issue on his blog.

Blogging about things like this actually does nothing other then change perceptions and as i pointed out in my previous post the only thing that really matters is ACTION and practical solutions. It boils to down to access to ICT and education. I posted on why access to ICT is a key economic driver as quoted below:

"In a study (PDF) by Harvard economist Robert Jensen he reported that when mobile phones were launched in kerala in 1997, Fisherman used the phones to call local markets while still at sea. This in turned helped raise profits by 8%, lowering consumer prices by 4% and reduced catch wastage from 6.5% to practically nothing."

Instead of asking these silly questions and debating issues that draw racial lines in the sand(which further perpetuates difference and hatred and turns into this), we should be asking:

- How can we use technology, to uplift people in poverty?
- How can we grant people people who don't have access to ICT that access?
- How can we TRAIN people with very little knowledge of technology cheaply and efficiently?
- How can we use technology to stimulate entrepreneurship for people in poverty?

This should not be about race, but about empowerment not based on skin colour but of PEOPLE IN POVERTY, irrespective of race.

Having said that, i recently started a project to actually take action and use the varied skills everyone has to make a change. I posted about it on techleader and created a google group to discuss practical steps. However, no one bothered to join. With only 9 members, i am forced to conclude that no one really cares (except for a few) we are more interested in blowing smoke, debating issues, blogging about making a difference while having dinners, meetups and networking events amongst a selected few, "the technology savvy/early adopter crowd". We can have conferences to spread ideas, but the only thing that will matter is ACTION.

So lets re-frame this, and let me give you a purely selfish reason why you should care.

Our country is facing serious economic issues and social unrest. We have fuel prices being hiked, interest rates going up, massive food shortages and inflation at the highest level in recent times. Do not get me wrong, this is not a doom and gloom post i am just pointing out the facts of the current situation. We may not feel the pinch, but people below the bread line will definitely and this could lead to social unrest.

South Africa has about 47 million people and according to a report by world wide worx only 8% internet penetration as of November 2007. Based on these figures that equates to just over 3.7 Million people. This means, that South Africa has a very small economy of scale for any Internet Company / Blog / Online media company, This means less profits, less people viewing your blog, less people joining your niche social networks, less people clicking on your adsense ads. It also means less tech savvy people, less people who would study internet or IT engineering related fields, which makes it more difficult to source talent for companies.

So look at it this way, if you could increase that penetration you could increases the number of people that are tech savvy, increase the number of people that are educated and trained, you increase people who could have the right skills for jobs, increase people clicking on your ads and you get more profits, and we are also better off as a country with more people out of poverty, more people educated and trained and more people that are economically productive. Now, these may seem like big goals but they are not when you consider the power of technology and drastically reduced costs of publication and co-ordination.

So here's an open challenge to the white boys club, the non white boys club and everyone else, basically all of us:

Rather then point out the elephant in the room which does nothing but acknowledge that it exists.

Ask yourself: what small practical steps can we take, to make a difference?

Ramon, you run Netucation: how about free training for those that can't afford it?
Nic, you seem to write well on your blogs, how about training on how to blog online and run a business from blogging?
Dave Durate, you run a programme at UCT, how about a competition giving someone a sponsored place at the next one? If that is out of the question we could raise money from the tech community or get a sponsor

These are just a few of the ideas, off the top of my head. Small things like this will actually make a difference.

The question really is Do you really care enough to to do something.

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