2015-05-13

Does Uber have a payment problem?

A few weeks ago, friends and I used Uber to get a car from the station to a rugby game and were then stuck at the stadium in the dark because Uber had decided to suspend my account because of a (yet to be specified) payment problem. I wrote to them and was asked to send all manner of documents, which I did. Nevertheless, I was put off until Uber seemed like a really convenient option once more on a weekend. Nothing! My original card (copies of which had been sent after the first incident) did not work and neither did two others, on one of whom Uber nevertheless managed to make a R10,00 verification charge.

In total, I have wasted at least to hours trying to get Uber to accept my cards and I have now finally given up. In South Africa, Uber does not accept PayPal so there really is no way forward. Is it any wonder that Uber is apparently starting to accept cash payments in Hyderabad?

This leads to the following obvious question: do companies have any idea how many customers they lose through miserably bad services? How would they (and investors) know how many people just walk (actually, navigate) away and are probably lost forever? Is this problem worse for the Internet economy than for brick-and-mortar commerce?

2015-04-29

Pretty good Internet – airport 2015 edition

Speedtest.net at domestic Wimpy in Johannesburg International Airport
I have finally found a place in South Africa where you can simply pay for instant fast Internet access – the airport! The AlwaysOn network (with some complementary access) which covers many facilities in South Africa delivered the excellent access stats pictured above while I was having breakfast at Wimpy. Pricing is volumetric, of course, and I do know that in half the world, free coffee shop Internet delivers the same... However, this is a champion south of the Limpopo.

2015-02-07

Eskom-kragmageddon baie naby?

Dis maklik om te verstaan dat beurtkrag net van 'n breukdeel van die totale kragaanvraag kan ontslae raak. Ons doen immers steeds ons wasgoed, kook en verhit water, verkoel en vries ons kos, sny die gras en maak die swembad skoon, net op ander tye. Beurtkrag (gesien oor 'n hele dag, byvoorbeeld) verwyder net die las van daardie kragverbruik wat nie verskuif kan word na 'n ander tyd toe nie. Daar is dus 'n perk op die krag wat Eskom uit die vergelyking kan haal met onderbrekings. Wanneer dít die dag te min is, kan ons ineenstorting van elektrisiteitsvoorsiening soos ons dit geken het, verwag.

Dink só daaraan, van die totale aanvrag van A per dag, kan 'n breukdeel p deur beurtkrag gespaar word. Die maksimale besparing per dag is dan pA (p vermenigvuldig met A). Gestel Eskom skakel deurgaans 'n breukdeel x van die netwerk af. Per dag word dan xpA gespaar deur beurtkrag. Indien die totale opwekkingskapasiteit B (per dag) is dan kan ons oorleef mits

B  ≥ A - xpA

met 'n x tussen 0 en 1. Só 'n x bestaan mits die ongelykheid

A - pA ≤ B

bevredig word. Wanneer B so klein word dat dié ongelykheid nie meer geldig is nie, gaan beurtkrag nie meer help nie. Dan moet 'n hele gedeelte van die land (of die hele land) permanent afgeskakel word. Indien A groter word en/of B kleiner, is daar geen manier om dit te vermy nie.

Gegee die probleme met B is al hoop om p groter te maak (nie in die kort termyn nie, dink ek!) of om A kleiner te maak. Daarvoor sal 'n drastiese verhoging in prys voldoende wees. Myns insiens, hoe gouer hoe beter.

Vrywaring: hierdie is nie 'n ingenieursmodel nie en hoort nie aldus geïnterpreteer te word nie. Die vereenvoudigings het na my mening geen beduidende uitwerking nie.

2014-10-19

100 great and easy "secure" passwords

Resetting my AppleID because I forgot the password, changing eBay and GMail passwords because of hacks, new rules for complex passwords and more of the same somehow left me with dozens of passwords and an irritating inability to merge and standardise the mess. One of the issues is the rules for "secure" passwords which sometimes include having an upper case letter, sometimes not etc.
Then I noticed (or was told, I don't recall!) how to easily generate a policy compliant password! Pick any two digits, say "01". Look at your keyboard and press the first digit 0 and then the keys to the right and down from it: P, ; and /. Now hold down the Shift key and do the same for the second digit. According The Password Meter the resultant password 0p;/!QAZ gets a 90% score and is "very strong". Do the same for your favourite two digits, e.g. a birthday.

There you have it – policy compliance and passwords that are easy to remember! Of course, I am not really suggesting using any of these as an actual password for anything serious but you could easily make your favourite password policy compliant by appending one these two-digit to eight-character password gargoyles.

2014-09-20

Endomondo se rekeningstawing skakel my af

Aangesien ek altyd my selfoon by my het, is ek 'n terloopse gebruiker van die Android-toepassing Endomondo, waarmee 'n mens jou drafsarsie kan ontleed en die besonderhede daarvan deel. Ek het dit minstens twee jaar gelede al gebruik en op meer as een selfoon. Vandag maak ek dit oop toe ek reeds by die hekkie uit is (Endomondo is moontlik outomaties geïnstalleer nadat ek 'n nuwe selfoon gekry het) en daar begin die ding vir my vra vir gebruikersname en -wagwoorde. Gaaf, die opsie om deur Facebook aan te teken werk nie want ek het nie Facebook op die foon nie, maar dan probeer ek per Google-rekening. Dít skyn te werk tot die punt waar Endomondo rapporteer dat daar geen Endomondo-rekening gekoppel is aan my Google-rekening nie en dat ek dit nou eers moet soek. Jammer, dis te veel! Moet ek nou vóór ek draf probeer 'n Endomondo-wagwoord herwin of iets?! Ek glo lankal WhatsApp se sukses is in 'n groot mate daaraan te danke daaraan dat hulle rekeningstawing eenmalig en eenvoudig (SMS na die foonnommer toe) is. Endomondo, kyk en leer!