About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

28 April 2006

Telkom: The Ripoff

Also known as the "continued experiments with Skype"

So, I decided to arm myself with 10 Euros of Skype credit (the only ammount you can purchase) and try to phone some places - chief being my family back in India. To test it out however, I decided to call my Mom in Durban first. The 3 minute 19 sec call (just before 6pm) cost me 22 euro cents or approximately R1.67 according to xe.com. The quality was not great unfortunately, but was still audible, and understandable - although there were quite a few dropped packets.

Comparatively, if I used a Telkom Payphone, it would have cost me R4.50 on a Telkom pay phone and R2.66 on a land line. As for using a cell phone, it would have cost me just under R10 according to the rates on the Vodacom website. Thus, Skype beats all of them at the rates game!

As for India there was some serious lag ... about 4 to 5 seconds. But hell, the cost made it worth it.

25 April 2006

Skype Conference and Laura Croft

So I had the Skype conference this morning, and it really went well. At least 3 hours of video conferencing with minimal lag (a few dropped packets here and there) - it was a pleasure. Presenting a 19 slide slideshow from 12 000 Km away was also very interesting, and it all went well. Off course having a receptive conference organiser was also part of the deal, and my thanks to the DMP for great organising!

As for Laura Croft ... totally unrelated really. I read an article at Wired today, where the writer discussed the idea that the success of Laura Croft is not necessarily due to horny teenage guys lusting over big boobs but more of the thrill of rescuing a woman from danger. It's quite an interesting read - and does ring true somewhat. But I still think, that the big boobs do have a big factor ... I don't think small boobs and an ugly face would have sold as well ....

23 April 2006


So I have finally joined the Skype revolution, and boy was I impressed. Helped with the extra bandwidth allocation from ITS (I think) I had a long (over 30 minute) video call with absolutely no problems. My friend on the other end (Tobias) actually commented on the smoothness of my video link!

Anyway, the whole point of this Skype exercise is to participate over the Internet in the Digital Media Project (DMP)'s 10th General Assembly, where I have submitted a proposal that will hopefully be adopted as a standard! Due to financial reasons (cost was estimated about R15 000, which I had to pay by myself, and did not have at the time) I could not attend physically - so this Skype solution was proposed by the organisers.

Which brings me to my next pet project ... there are a lot of conferences in the world, and due to financial reasons, student participation from UCT at these conferences are minimal, restricted usually only if the student is presenting a paper (and even then I have known students not to get funding!). But, if research is to be truly "world class", participation at major conferences is a priority in many fields. And this is where Skype comes in. Skype seems very good at video (can even do full screen), and there is usually good bandwidth availability at conferences. Surely, it would therefore be easier to hookup a connection at these conferences and "broadcast" it back to UCT, where interested parties can then take part in the presentations and even forward questions to the speakers! This would be a step up from the blogging that Carl and I did from Siggraph and ACM-CCS respectively last year, and certainly more useful.

I know a few conferences might object, but assuming we have their blessing, this could certainly be a good step forward in engaging researchers around the world! So, as a start, I would like to invite anyone who is interested in the DMP to come around and join me (but I think it would be rather boring for most people). I am also willing to do a Skype broadcast from ISSA if anyone is interested and I am allowed to ...