The last three months

I must apologise for the lack of updates over the past while — real life suddenly got very, very busy.  I’ll sum up what I’ve been up to:

Work stuffs

I left Web Africa at the end of November 2013: several internal changes made in 2013 transformed the company from an awesome place to work to a totally hideous place to work.  (And, from general sentiment on MyBroadband, a totally hideous place to do business with as well now.)  I’m now over at Khanyisa Real Systems, which is another awesome place to work: small, everyone has fun while working hard at the same time, new technologies to play with, I’m no longer bored out of my skull… it’s how the development department at Web Africa was before upper management wrecked it.

Of course, this means that I have to update the About Me page again.  I’ll do this Soon™.

Family stuffs

Some of you reading this already know, but for those who don’t: Little Annoying Sister is expecting her first child in late June.  Tim, Kelle and Amy have already taken to calling me “Uncle Won-Won”… yeah, that title isn’t going away any time soon.

Relationship stuffs

Amy and I have been up to all kinds of awesome/crazy things lately — an awesome weekend going back in time to the Victorian era at Matjiesfontein, acting like tourists in our own city — it’s been fun.  I’ve obviously been slacking with putting write ups on here, but Amy has been posting our adventures on her own blog, so I’m just going to redirect you all there.

Location stuffs

Due to (1) new work location, (2) proximity to Little Annoying Sister and her Future Spawnling and (3) proximity to Amy, I’m relocating back to the Southern Suburbs (specifically: Rosebank) at the end of this month — though, I’m going to really miss living with Tim and Kelle.  Blog updates will probably stop dead again until Telkom wires my new place up.  Probably in a few years or so.

World of Warcraft stuffs

We had a lull since my post detailing our Kor’kron Dark Shaman kill due to people not being around due to end of year work pressures, then people not being around for December/January holidays, then people deciding not to raid any more and me having to recruit new people and gear them up.  We’ve slowly ramped back up since mid-January though, and are currently working on Siegecrafter Blackfuse.  After that’s killed, it’s just the Klaxxi Paragons (which, from my experience on the “tourist” difficulty levels, should be dispatched without too much trouble) and Garrosh (which, being the last raid boss, will be a nightmare) left until we’ve cleared Siege of Orgrimmar (on normal anyway, we’re not going to get very far on heroic, I’m afraid).

I’ve been considering setting up a separate blog for the World of Warcraft stuffs, but if I’m slacking on maintaining this one…

Miscellaneous stuffs

  • One of the PCF admins got in touch with me requesting a patch for a user-requested feature, so I wrote and submitted it.  I took a quick look around the place while I was there, and Panorama Publishing has totally ignored the place since my departure, which I had predicted.  They seem totally uninterested in having someone around to keep it going, and since my patch met with a frosty reception (evidently, some users still have the mindset of me being responsible for Panorama’s mismanagement), my feeling towards the place is now: let it burn.  Good riddance.
  • I managed to turn my mother into a planespotter when British Airways sent an A380 to Durban for crew training for around two weeks.  (There’s a video of it landing here, which is well worth watching for any aviation enthusiasts lurking here.)
  • If you ever visit the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, don’t pull a Jeremy Clarkson and run out of petrol in Pripyat.
  • A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood.

Silver Slipstreams

The Capetonians who venture to this part of the blogosphere may remember the viral video of a longboarder setting off the Kloof Nek speed camera early this year.  Although I gave this a very brief mention at the time, the video deserves a repost…

… if only because of what comes next.

Meet Decio Lourenco: graphic design student by day, downhill longboarder by night.  After gaining fame (and notoriety from the Western Cape traffic officials) for the Kloof Nek stunt, Decio was contacted by Mercedes-Benz to hurtle down a section of Franschhoek Pass alongside an A 45 AMG driven by former professional racing driver Robbi Smith.

With the blessing of aforesaid traffic officials, who closed off the pass specifically for this to happen, a film crew from Bring Back Choirboy spent three days filming the pair of four-wheeled adrenaline junkies.  The result — a simply breathtakingly choreographed high-speed ballet.

Further words simply do not do what you’re about to see justice.

Far over the Misty Mountains cold

This coming weekend happens to be the weekend of Little Sister’s day of birth — and, in celebration, she and her husband have organised a weekend away in the Cederberg for a whole group of us.  Of course, with me being family and all, I was first on the invite list — and the majority of this blog’s readership should know that I don’t turn down such opportunities!

Advance warning: expect a massive photo post around this time next week.  Won’t happen while I’m there though: there ain’t no mobile phone signal in those parts (which is actually part of the appeal in the first place).

Now for some reason, I have Tolkien looping around in my head:

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.

The pines were roaring on the height,
The winds were moaning in the night.
The fire was red, it flaming spread;
The trees like torches blazed with light.

I rode a bus, and I liked it

Earlier this year, I wrote about wanting to try out the MyCiti bus service as my daily commute, but couldn’t due to a spanner in the works.  That was sorted out, and the Woodstock feeder route came online on March 2nd.  So, later that same week, I decided to give it a try.

And… I liked it.  🙂

Haven given it a try for a month now (yes, I was slacking with writing random stuff on here last month — don’t ask!), impressions of it are that it’s clean, reliable, safe and efficient.  Just what one could ask for from a public transport service.  My only criticism is that it can be on the cramped side during peak hours, but then, I guess that it’s peak hours after all.

Moreover, it’s cost efficient.  At current pricing, it costs R5.30 to ride a feeder route, and R10.60 to ride the trunk route between the Cape Town Civic Center and Table View — but, by riding the trunk route, one gets a free feeder route trip on either end.  So, it’s R21.20 for a round trip, per day.  Meanwhile, petrol is around R13.00 per litre, and with my car doing around 13.5 kilometers for every litre of petrol that it slurps up, it costs me around R1 per kilometer to drive to the office and back.  And with a ~42 km round trip — yeah, the bus is far, far more cost effective.

So, I’ve ditched my car for three working days out of five (the other two, I’m raiding in the evenings, and so take the car to make sure I’m home in good time).  Don’t see this changing for the foreseeable future.

New MyCiTi routes delayed

Earlier this month, I mentioned the possibility of using our overly-awesome MyCiTi bus service to get to and from work.  Since I wrote my earlier post, Cape Town recovered from the New Year’s hangover and turned the R27 into a massive car park, so in order to keep my sanity intact and transport expenses under control, using the bus service is fast becoming a necessity rather than a possibility.  The only requirement for me to switch over is the commencement on operations on the Woodstock/Salt River feeder route.

Unfortunately, according to this press release from the City of Cape Town, I’ll be waiting a while…

The implementation of new routes for the MyCiTi Bus Service, such as Walmer Estate and Salt River, is subject to the awarding of operating licences by the Western Cape Provincial Regulating Entity (PRE). These routes – along with the new smaller buses and newly constructed bus stops and stations, such as the Gardens Station – cannot become operational without these operating licences.

The City of Cape Town respects due process, and from the beginning of the process the application, supported by the City have followed the legal and procedural requirements set down by the PRE at all times. The process began in August last year when operating licences for the new routes, which were then due to launch at the end of 2012 were submitted.

The first hearing set by the PRE was for December 2012, but the PRE postponed the hearing to this week due to objections from concerned parties. The South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) – on behalf of some taxi associations – and Golden Arrow Bus Services (GABS) lodged objections with the PRE.

The hearing resumed this past Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at which time the PRE heard the applicants’ full application for the required operating licences. Before the City could provide its presentation in support of the issuing of the licences, GABS raised procedural objections, claiming to not have had sufficient time to prepare for the hearing. The hearing has now been delayed until the first week of February.

The City is disappointed by these delays, and that this is holding back the implementation of our public transport service which aims to benefit all people in Cape Town. We believe the objections can be dealt with in a manner that does not prejudice and inconvenience the people of Cape Town.

We trust that this will be the final delay, and that we will be able to activate our new routes and infrastructure soon, in order to bring the world-class MyCiTi bus service to an even greater number of awaiting residents and visitors.

All I have to say is: *sigh*

(For what it’s worth, I was toying with “Help, I’m trapped in a traffic jam against my will!” for a blog post title…)

West Coast trafficking

Now that I have a 20 km daily commute to the office (and that’s one way!), traffic has become more of a factor than it is.  So far, it hasn’t been bad — the R27 has generally been free-flowing, except for yesterday around the Royal Ascot and Sunset Beach areas — but I’m guessing that that’s partly due to my unconventional working hours (I get to work and leave for home well after most people) and partly because much of Cape Town is likely still hungover from New Year.  So, in between work, play and everything else, I’ve been taking a look to see what the alternatives are.

And first off, there’s the MyCiti expansion plans.  Currently, the main route is from Table View down to the Civic Centre in the CBD, with some feeder routes in Table View/Parklands/Sunningdale/Bloubergstrand.  That’s about to get a major expansion.  First off, more main routes are coming onboard: from Table View, main routes will be extended to Du Noon and further on to Atlantis.  Secondly, the feeder routes in my area (Parklands) are getting a major revamp.  And thirdly, there’ll be more feeder routes: not only in my neck of the woods, but also down the Atlantic seaboard from Green Point through to Hout Bay (as well as a feeder route going particularly close to the office; worth keeping in mind if I decide to work more regular hours (fat chance!) and/or the petrol price skyrockets (which is far more plausible)).  Take the bus instead of fighting for parking when my friends decide to congregate on the Clifton Beach flavour of the month?  Oh yes, please!

Secondly, Sandown Road in Sunningdale and Parklands Main Road (in Parklands, obviously) are planned to be extended all the way through to the Postdam interchange on the N7, giving those with a public transport aversion to use the N7 and take pressure off both the R27 and Table View’s Blaauwberg Road.  Obviously, it depends on the destination of those people, but it’s much needed.  I’d use the new link to get to the Southern Suburbs, for example, but I’d continue using the R27 to get to the city centre.  At the moment, that’s estimated to be completed and opened at the end of 2013, though there didn’t seem to be much activity there when I drove past a few days ago.  (Admittedly, at around 23:30, so there wouldn’t have been much to see anyway!)

Then, not directly related, but due to the new Industrial Development Zone up north at Saldanha, a few provincial roads not far from me are getting upgraded — the R27 continuing out of the city towards Laaiplek, as well as the N7 through to Malmesbury and then the R45 to the Saldanha area.  I haven’t found much detail on this — I’m told that the only mention is in the provincial government budget at this stage.  However, a result of this will be an upgrade of Wingfield Interchange (that’s the interchange between the N1 and N7 for any non-locals reading this) by 2018.  That will affect me quite a bit with regards to using the new link road mentioned above.

So in short: if the traffic gets bad, I can either MyCiti all the things, or just slog it out for a year.  Good to know that I stay in a city that does indeed work for me.

Real life questing

With a public holiday yesterday, and with an old friend from Durban finally coming down to visit, I decided to take some people on a tour through the Winelands.  Also joining me were my two future housemates, and a new friend of mine: a visiting master’s student from Canada (being the only non-nerd in the group).

Of course, in true nerd style (much to our non-nerd’s bemusement), we did this in the style of a World of Warcraft quest chain:

  1. Assemble a party of fellow questers.  Your fellow party members may be found in Mowbray, Sunningdale and Gordon’s Bay.
  2. Journey to the Boschendal Wine Estate and acquire 1 Bottle of Fine Red Wine.  Completing this quest requires 50 gold.
  3. Journey to Fairview and acquire 2 Cheese Platters and 1 Loaf of Freshly-Baked Bread.  Completing this quest requires 100 gold.
  4. Prepare a Banquet of the Winelands to feed your party.  A Banquet of the Winelands may only be prepared at the Afrikaanse Taalmonument.  Party members that spend at least 10 minutes eating and drinking will be Well Fed and will receive the buff “Scribble Big Bang Theory Quotes on Ron’s Car” for 6 hours. (My fault for not washing it!)

I also took everyone to Nederburg and through the Huguenot Tunnel afterwards before the group disbanded.  Muchness of fun.