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).

31 December 2013

Da Vinci - The Genius Exhibition

Located at the Chavonnes Battery Museum in the Clocktower Precinct, the exhibition does a great job tracing the many contributions of Leonardo Da Vinci. There are reproductions of his notebooks, with great details on his amazing anatomical drawings; there are miniature and a few full size models of his many machines - including the tank, his gliders and artillery weapons. There are reproductions of some of his most famous paintings - and a very detailed look at the Mona Lisa.

It's a great, and fairly thorough exhibition on Da Vinci's many accomplishments. It is a touring exhibition, and the scope in itself is unique. The only criticism I have, is that there not enough focus on the other art works and sculptures.

It runs until February 2014, and is highly recommended.

Sidewalk Cafe


It's a strange place to have a cafe - quiet, posh suburb - but the location on the slopes of Table Mountain leads to amazing views outside. It is a cross between hippy and yuppie - the healthy drinks, the quirky design - and the patrons mostly seem to be stylish yuppies. The food is great, and well priced - a great place for lunch really.


29 December 2013

Franschoek


For some reason, I had never been to Franschoek before today. Famous for its food scene, boasting many of South Africa's top restaurant, it is actually not that far from Cape Town - most trips in Gauteng take longer. 

To be honest, there doesn't seem to be much else, other than food. There are some shops off course, but not I did not find it to be a place to go to do stuff. 

The location is very scenic, and Franschoek pass is a very scenic drive - both for the views of Franschoek on one side, and the rocky ravine on the other. The drive and food are rewards enough.

Kalk Bay Harbour


I love the energy at Kalk Bay harbour - it has a great fishing village vibe, and the wheeling and dealing by the fishing folk as they sell their freshly caught fish is great to watch.



21 December 2013

DW-11-13

DW-11-13 was rated by Eat Out as the best restaurant in Gauteng; and P and I have been meaning to go there for quite a while. With P moving back to the Western Cape, we finally went round to going to DW-11-13 for lunch. While the food is expensive, it was not significantly more than some of the other good restaurants I have been to in Johannesburg; and food was substantially better and is well deserving of its accolades. In particular, the desserts are amazing - and in fact, it is worth going to DW-11-13 just for the desserts.

Movie: Ender's Game

Visually, Ender's Game is magnificent; from the zero gravity fights in the Battle Room to the final space battles; it is a visual feast. Unfortunately, the soul of the book is pretty much taken out - the main story arc is neutered with shortcuts, that doesn't even show the growth of Ender to become the commander - and the side story arcs (especially Peter and Valentine's transformation to Locke and Demosthenes) are almost completely absent. Ender's Game is the type of story that deserves to have the Hobbit treatment - the story needs to be told holistically using all the source material. As a 2 hour popcorn movie; it works - as a visual transcription of an amazing fictional universe; it doesn't.

17 December 2013

Movie: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Peter Jackson's epic retelling of JRR Tolkien's children's story continue - with even more inspiration from other sources in the Middle-Earth universe, to tie the Hobbit closer to the Lord of the Rings. Now, Gandalf's frequent periods away from the troupe of dwarves and their hobbit burglar is explained by his side trips to investigate the rise of Sauron. 

IMO, most of the embellishments are welcome - the universe is rich and detailed, and the overall story itself is richer and more compelling through the embellishments (most of which are from actual source material). However, some are just overly distracting - Azog's continual chase of the dwarven party and the inter-species love-triangle - being the main ones for me. 

The other main  gripe for me - is the sudden, inexplicable changes in geography - almost like a Bollywood song & dance routine. One minute they are on a mountain top being chased by wargs, next minute they are running through a field of flowers; still chased by wargs. 

The approach taken in the Hobbit does raise an interesting question - should the entire Middle-Earth universe not be better served with a wider, chronologically perfect, movie/TV series. Tolkien's world is rich with tales, and an epic series would put Game of Thrones to shame. Yes, Smaug in the massive cave with golden treasure is amazing on the big screen - but even a small screen rendition of the entire universe would be worthwhile.

11 December 2013

Ender Series

I first read about Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, when commentary about the movie started appearing on the web. Intrigued, I read the first chapter at Exclusives, and then got hooked - so got the full series. 

While it is sometimes a straight forward science-fiction novel, what I really like about the series, is the intersection of philosophical discussions on alien interactions - something that is not only applicable with regards to interactions with other sentient species (whose numbers are now far more probable) but also species that seem to be non-sentient. It effectively turns the idea of animal rights on its head - does the fact that humans don't understand communication of other animals on Earth imply that they are not sentient - but rather that we merely can't communicate with them. 

The other key idea is the concept of life itself - specifically, when should a computer program, without a physical presence be considered alive. I did not particularly like the eventual descent into metaphysics of what is the soul - but the very idea of an artificial program that could be alive and is alive in all senses but for the fact that there is no physical body; is a great construct.

It is a brilliant series, and the series had amazing foresight - given that many of the technologies such as the Internet, mobile devices, social media etc. did not exist (or existed only in a very early form) when the series was written. I especially enjoyed the second (Speaker for the Dead) and third (Xenocide) books - and the full series is well worth reading.

08 December 2013

Movie: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

For many trilogies, the second book is often the bridge with a lot of plot development but little in terms of action. In the Hunger Games series, the second book, Catching Fire, IMO, is the most interesting. The first book introduces the reader to a very impressive dystopian world, and the third book's plot line is rather expected. The second book is a bridge - but the brutality of the Hunger Games world is amazing in its depiction. The movie is quite true to the book's depiction, although not as much time is spent on the game itself. It is a very worthy sequel, and a worthy film translation.

06 December 2013

Goodbye Madiba ...

The first email notification I saw this morning around 5am, on my iPad was an email from J, titled "Nelson Mandela". I didn't read the email then - I was quite sure what it would be about - and it was confirmed when I opened Flipboard - and every other newsite/app. Even Fox News has an obituary - and the only one I saw that referenced the fact that he was listed as a terrorist by the US government.

It was not an unexpected event - he was 95 years old, he was critically ill for a year - but it was a somber day nonetheless. Colleagues even mentioned how quiet and somber it was - not only in the office we were in; but also in other offices.

I don't have a Madiba story - but modern South Africa, is in itself the Madiba story. The remarkable progress made by South Africa is almost unparalleled in other parts of the world that has seen opression - or still have opression in one form or another. That is his biggest gift - and if others can emulate, his biggest legacy. 

Thank you Madiba.

04 December 2013

Movie: The Butler

Based on a true story, The Butler recounts the very inspiring tale of a black man who flees the opressive American South in the early 1900's to eventually become the most trusted Butler in the White House. Forest Whitaker delivers an amazing performance, and is ably supported by a superb cast including Oprah Winfrey (as the alcoholic wife) - superimposing the struggles against racial inequality, the American civil rights movement, and the Butler's front row seat in the heart of the political machinations.

The problem of the movie however, as extensively documented in Wikipedia and elsewhere, is that the story is quite far removed from the truth in many details. The movie is based on a Washington Post article, and the real story, by all acounts is very much worth telling - without embellishment. The fact that so many distorting story naratives are introduced; the actual power of the true story is somewhat lost. It does not take away from an excellent movie - but it does tarnish the real story's power.

29 November 2013

Suitcase

Guitar duo CH2 and cellists from "The Paz Consort", combined to give a great concert melding classical and contemporary music together. It was really a dark, stormy night - maybe a factor in a half full venue at University of Johannesburg's Arts Centre; and it certainly deserved a full house. The guitar work of CH2 is amazing, especially in the virtuoso pieces - but the melding of genres was very impressive. It was certainly worth braving the downpour!

24 November 2013

Parklife Festival - Nov 2013

Planned to celebrate summer, Parklife Festival is set to be a bi-annual concert series; the first one taking place in March this year. While there was a great lineup of bands; SA super band Seether was the real attraction. The organization at Marks Park was excellent, and although the rain threatened throughout (including a few drops), it stayed away.

I had originally thought to go fr Desmond and the Tutus, but M and I went to lunch at 44 Stanley instead; but did make it for Taxi Violence. It has been a long time since I last saw them, and didn't really enjoy them today; so we didn't stay too long. So instead we headed off to the main stage to start staking our places.


One man band, with a few mates, Jeremy Loops was the act before Seether on the main stage. He is certainly a great musician, combining loops of harmonica, vocals, guitar and beat-boxing (all recorded live) - it is quite impressive to see it all come together. The lyrics are fairly simple (and not much to speak of); but he is an interesting act to see live.


There was no point to go see The Dirty Skirts; and rather we decided to et a really good place to see Seether. The Seether set was largely acoustic, and devoid of the stand and deliver approach of the previous shows. It was rather sedate in their standards (after all, in Opikopi last year, Shaun Morgan finished by smashing his guitar) - but it was more interactive, more engaging - and overall a perfect performance for a Sunday afternoon.

 

Starting the show with the Saron Gas standard - Gasoline, it was really hit after hit. There was a strange lul when they played a cover of a Neil Young song, but every Seether song was sung with gusto by the crowd.

The encore was interesting, as one of the roadies, Brian, joined in for the performance Remedy. It was another great performance by Seether and hopefully the Parklife Festival brings in more great bands in the future.

17 November 2013

ZaCon 5

If ZACon 5 was a true representation of the security practitioners in South Africa, it would seem that there are next to no women - after all, only 1 lady in the audience of 100 plus gives a pretty skewed demographic. Perhaps this is a phenomenon more in the hacker community itself? Perhaps it is due to the fact that the event is on a Saturday? I have commented on diversity of ZACon before, and in other respects the audience was far more diversified, be it race, organisations or age - so, it seems like gender is the final frontier :) 

Organisationally, this was the best ZACon yet - better signage, better communication, up to date scheduling (even if it did run late, and the scheduling did changed a lot), AV and sound set-up etc. As Dominic commented, ZACon is growing up, and it seems to be sustainable footing - and this is a local security conference that deserves to continue. The content was also impressive, covering a variety of interests, although there was a strong "electronics" theme. 

Dimitry started off proceedings on the use of Markov chains to create more efficient password attacks. In principle, it is a great idea, but his actual demonstration and training data was did not make sense. Password complexity rules have almost ruled out the use of plain dictionary words as passwords, and thus the solution did not have the gravitas that it could have.

Jason presented the most interesting talk, on Mains Signalling. Basically, Mains Signalling is the use of signalling on the electrical grid, allowing for controlling of electrical systems. The technology is old, undocumented, and very topical with regards to the move to Demand Side Management, across the world. Through literally years of effort, and off the shelf components, Jason managed to decode some of the signal codes - including that of traffic lights, street lights and geysers. Given that there is absolutely no authentication or authorisation built into the system, anyone with the capability to send modulated signals on the electrical grid can cause havoc - and this is something that, to my knowledge, is not addressed as part of next generation grids. Yes, it is a far more local attack - but also far more economically damaging.

Jeremy ("Panda") presented an interesting investigation on the command and control servers for the Poison Ivy botnet (and two others). Through interception of communication, NMAP and tracking IP addresses and domain registration records; and managed to identify a number of additional domains and command and control servers. And amazingly, many command anc control servers are themselves vulnerable to many attacks, due to bad configuration and vulnerabilities within the Poison Ivy system. The approach will not work for all botnets, but this is certainly a good step forward in combating botnets.

Brazilian Marcos (studying at UJ) presented the most complex talk on detecting obfuscated obfuscation routines.  The use case is better detection of malware, but could also be used to attack software that uses obfuscation as a protection mechanism. Detecting and reversing good obfuscation is difficult and although the presentation is very much in initial stages; it does have good promise.

Rhodes MSc student Adam talked about his research on active honeypots. Traditional security technologies, like firewalls and anti-virus systems have high cost in detection, but low cost in carrying out enforcement. Conversely, honeypots have low cost in detection, but high cost in actually carrying out meaningful actions. The presentation was therefore on building a converged system - low cost of detection, and low cost of enforcement. In some respects it is a better IPS - and the approach is interesting; though probably not completely scalable. 

Dave from MWR's UK office gave the scariest talk of the day - on how it is easy to hijack ad networks to infiltrate ad-supported apps on mobile devices; most notably on Androids and jail broken iPhones. Ads are effectively webkit implementation within apps; but through bad design, vulnerable implementations, intentional wish to hijack data, bad sandboxing, and ads inhering permissions of the underlying apps, ad networks are effectively able to pull various types of data, or take actions such as sending messages or making calls. This means that the attacker can effectively hijack legitimate ads for their own purposes (since ad network traffic is often unencrypted) or in an easier (but potentially tractable) attack, launch an ad campaign that sets out to attack their targets. It was  truly fascinating insight into the problems with the current mobile advertising landscape and the lack of real incentives to address the problems.

Mark, also from MWR, but the SA office, gave an insightful overview of Control Area Networks (CAN), specifically in the cars. While there was some exploration on possible vulnerabilities, it was more of a discussion on reverse engineering. There are interesting avenues to pursue - especially remotely via avenues such as keyless entry or telemetry broadcasts for race cars. 

In the past year, Robert, started a conversation on building a data diode - or a one way transmitter of data. Considering the massive cost (some over 100's of thousands of Rands) of commercial systems, Robert's solution, costing less than R5000, is therefore an amazing hack; and one that works as advertised. 

The last talk was by Shcalk, on designing a low-gain directional Wi-Fi antenna; but was really mostly about 3D printing and house-4-hack. The 3D printer itself has got awards, and this is a good showcase of entrepreneurship. It was a good follow up to Roelof's (from Paterva) talk on the basic building blocks for building a successful business. It was a good way to close off a fascinating day.

15 November 2013

Blood Brothers

David Kramer's adaptation of the Classic English musical, which has been transferred to Take place in District 6 instead of Liverpool. The story itself doesn't focus on the politics, or race, but rater differences in economic backgrounds. 

It's a story of a struggling mother who gives up one of her new born twins to her well off employer. The boys discover each other, become friends, grow up, but remain unaware of their relationship. Eventually the story ends in tragedy, and the story is very much focused on te guilt trip of both mothers, as the narrator keeps reminding the audience, "the tokoloshe has your number".

The performances are amazing. The brothers, played by Eprahim Landrew and Dean Balie, give very believable performances across different ages, from 7 to 25. The standout performance is by Bianca Le Grange, as Mrs Johnstone (the biological mother), and although M doesn't agree, I also enjoyed the narator's performance in bringing the story together.

It is a brilliant performance all round, and David Kramer's adaptation to South African cultural references is amazing. It is show definitely worth watching. 

14 November 2013

JPO's 2nd 2013 Season, 6th Concert

Given the difficult year for the JPO, the final concert of the year started with a few words of thanks - both from the CEO of the JPO and the concertmaster. I think that the JPO needs to do a lot more to overcome its challenges, but that is a post on its own. The concert itself, for me, was a bit underwhelming.

Schumann's Manfred Overture started the proceedings off. Unlike the programme notes, I did not think that the piece conveyed "effectively the urgent despair of Byron's work" - not that I know the poem that the piece is based on. While it certainly had a melancholic ending - there are certainly other pieces that I have heard that evoked sadness than this piece. 

Violinist Yura Lee performed Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto; a very popular piece that I have heard on radio numerous times, in pieces, but not as a full work. Unlike some concertos, it does not seem to require significant individual brilliance; but it is a great piece to listen to; and got great appreciation from the audience.

Brahms' Symphony No 2. ended off the evening. It was certainly a nice piece to listen to, but I found that it was hardly memorable. There was no specific piece that got stuck in my mind, and I don't think I would recognise it if it was played. It was nice; but not great.

12 November 2013

The Pudding Shop



The Pudding Shop, in Parktown North, aspires to be a vegan friendly restaurant. That means, the menu is largely vegetarian or vegan (although it is not that easy to see which is which) but also has a few fish items for those that must have some animal protien. The food is delicious, the decor is interesting and it is a great lunch venue; especially on a lazy weekend. And best of all, it doesn't have the preachy holier-than-thou attitude of other vegan/vegetarian places I have been to (outside Asia).

That said the service is quite poor. The waiters didn't really know the menu; and for a vegan/vegetarian venue, their selection of food and drink is actually quite limited. It is not that the waiters are unfriendly - in fact they are very hospitable - but their lack of knowledge of the food being served does not help; especially when the menu is mixed.

10 November 2013

Wooden Buldozer

The Rosebank rooftop market restarted last week, and this time it feels a lot more spacious with somewhat better quality. A Malawian stall had hand carved wooden toys; and the bulldozer really stood out. All the parts are movable, including the arms and the tracks. Really impressive craftsmanship!

09 November 2013

JPO's 2nd 2013 Season, 5th Concert

Sibelius' 2nd Symphony is awesome, not only the finale, which is very rousing (and as per the commentary, seen as the unofficial Finnish national anthem) and loud; but also the second movement, which has a very interesting start with the double-basses and cellos; and everything else just seems to fit together. No doubt, part of the success of the performance was due to the conductor Yasuo Shinozaki's experience with Finnish music; and it was one of those magical performances where the music just seems to come alive.

Unfortunately, the first part of the concert was more mundane. The first part of the concert was rather short, lasting just over 30 minutes. Proceedings started with Mozart's La clemenza di Tito Overture, followed by Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme played by Russian born, South African cellist Polina Burdukova. Neither performances were bad - just boring. The symphony did make up for it though!

03 November 2013

Macbeth

It's quite cool how some traditional artistic companies are leveraging new technologies to reach new audiences - the Metropolitan Opera and the UK's National Theatre being at the forefront. It opens up their productions to new audiences; and gives different avenues for movie theatres at the same time.

Ster-Kinekor is currently screening National Theatre's production of Macbeth starring Kenneth Branagh. Performed in a deconsecrated church (how is a church deconsecrated?), the "stage" is in the centre of the church, with the audience sitting on either side. The action is fast paced, with no time taken for scene changes; and there is a very earthy; middle-age feeling about the play - particularly in the beginning with the water effects (for rain) that turns the stage into a muddy field. 

It is minimalist; at the same time quite impressive in the use of effects. The performances are brilliant, not only by Kenneth Branagh but also by Ray Fearon as Macduff and Alex  Kingston as Lady Macbeth. 

I saw Macbeth in school, as part of the set work - this is the type of production that makes Shakespeare amazing, even when it is not part of schoolwork :)

01 November 2013

Meze, Mira and Makeup

A play with only one cast member can be difficult to pull off; and Taryn Papadopolous Louch did an absolutely amazing job in portraying a wide range of characters in the life of Kalomira (Mira) from birth, through to end of her University degree. Although very much rooted in the immigrant Greek experience, I don't think the experience itself is specific to Greek culture - but rather a wider take on immigrant life in the new home; and the difference in experience between the 1st and 2nd generation immigrants.

The acting is absolutely amazing - especially in how well the characters are portrayed; and the play is hilarious. The accents and the exaggerated character effects are well portrayed and the performance got a well deserved standing ovation.

Soil

The Auto and General Theatre on the Square is hosting a month of Greek flavoured SA plays. The playwright of the first (Soil) and the director of the second (Meze, Mira and Makeup), Renos, is part of M's writing group; so we got an invitation to the opening day. It was my first time at the theatre, and being effectively next to the parking lot, has its disadvantages - mainly in hearing car doors slamming and alarms going off. That said, the acoustics are pretty good - so you don't struggle to hear the actors on stage.

The first play of the evening, Soil is based on a true story of a South African of Greek-Cypriot descent's return to the house of his grandparents, and meeting the Turkish-Cypriot lady living in the house - a house given to her father by the occupying forces of Turkey. Effectively it is a story about land rights - and although not directly explored - the history of Cyprus (as encapsulated on Wikipedia) it is a long running saga of multiple occupations and settlements.

The play's structure of three parts, makes it a bit difficult in terms of pacing - dragging on the topic a bit. This is particularly notable in the very end - a part that I thought was completely unnecessary; as the conclusion in the story had already been reached. 

It is a topical, and partly political play. However, it doesn't really have a take on the actual answer - the encounter is so specific; it does not really highlight any meaningful solution to the wider problem. It was still good theatre.

31 October 2013

Halloween - JPO's 2nd 2013 Season, 4th Concert

I love live music because of the experience - be it the audience, the unique performance or just the sound. Last night's JPO concert had all of these, and was one of the best.

It started with the performance of Musorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain, a piece that has all the hallmarks of horror genre. The lights were switched off, lights flashed for lightning, and as dawn broke through lights grew brighter, gradually. It was a totally immersive experience that is needed more often.

Tchaikovsky's long 2nd Piano Concerto was next, featuring Francois du Toit as the pianist. It was a mesmerizing performance, with a lot of highlights even though the piece itself was not particularly memorable. It had some sorrowful moments, but did not really continue the theme.

Saint-Saens' 3rd Symphony featuring an organ and a piano rounded off the evening. The organ's notes had an amazing vibration even though it was not a full blown organ that one would find in a cathedral. 

It was a great evening, and I hope JPO can repeat similar experiences more often.

27 October 2013

Movie: Blue is the Warmest Colour (Adele Part 1 and 2)

I bought tickets more on the reputation than anything else really - and it was a very last minute decision. It was being screened as part of the annual "Out in Africa" festival, so it was a special screening before a wider South Africa release.

It is a simple movie premise - following the life of a young woman (starting in High School), Adele, through to her late 20's; through the cycle of one serious relationship, with an older woman, Emma. From the incidental meeting at a traffic light, through to "living house", through to a rather impressively acted dissolution, and a few years after; the movie has amazing atmosphere.  The movie uses quite a few clever ways in representing time (through the course of 10 plus years); but sadly the visual appearances of the two main characters remain the same and in some respects there is actually little change in how the characters act and behave in this time period.

The major talking point (and associated controversy) is the very long, quite explicit first sex scene between the two characters. While it starts of as erotic, and manages to convey a lot of passion, it carries on for too long - so much so, that an audience of predominantly lesbian women, starts laughing. It becomes tedious, and together with a number of other long lingering scenes, it contributes to the overall slow paced, tediousness of the movie brought on by its length. 

Overall, it is a good movie, with some good acting, and a good script - but too long. I am happy that I went to watch it; but I wouldn't want to again.

26 October 2013

Johannesburg International Motor Show

I have been mulling over on whether to buy a new car, but my current one if working fine, so there is no motivation to really buy a new one (other than having a new car). That said, the Johannesburg International Motor Show was a good opportunity to see what is coming out in the recent future; and I was specifically interested in the electric cars that may be coming to SA soon.

Of the cars, the most imminent is the Nissan Leaf, which is launching next month. But it is not a car that looks like it is worth just under half a million Rands. In looks to other similar priced cars - 3 Series BMW, Audi A4, C-Class Mercedes - and this just doesn't stack up. It does have all the gadgets; it is fairly comfortable and quite nice to drive (I took the short test drive on offer); and the promise of incredibly low fuel costs does provide some of the positives. It has a 24 KWh battery, and a range of approximately 195 KM. Based on current SA electricity price of approx R1 per KWh, this translates to an incredible 12c per KM of fuel costs - far less than any petrol/diesel equivalent. But with a general lack of charging stations (right now at least) and the high investment cost; it may be better off to get a highly economical diesel.


Mahindra was the other "low cost" vehicle manufacturer with an electric car on show - which looked a bit like a bulkier golf car to be honest. Interestingly none of the other Asian manufacturers had hybrids or electric cars on show; except for existing offers from Toyota (and Lexus) and Honda.


The feature car that all the papers were talking about was the BMW i8 due to land in SA end of next year/early 2015. It is a great looking car, but there wasn't much on performance or price (although the agent did comment that it was going to be at the R2 million mark). The BMW i3 is also expected to be launched next year, but at the reported price of R1 million, it is worth two Nissan Leafs, and looks worse!


The i8 was not the only hybrid/electric stunner on the floor. Honda's new NSX is absolutely beautiful, though no other details were available, and is still in a concept phase I think.

There were a few interesting, non electric cars to see also - Chevrolet's Camaro is a classic American Muscle Car, but no further details were available. Giniel de Villier's Dakar Rally Car, a Red Bull F1 car and the Lexus LFA (which Top Gear called best car in the world).




23 October 2013

JPO's 2nd 2013 Season, 3rd Concert

The program notes that Japanese conductor Yasuo Shinozaki spent considerable time leading orchestras in Finland. It was therefore apt that his 3 week tenure as the conductor of the JPO started with Jean Sibelius' Finlandia, performed with great gusto. It is a great piece, especially performed live.

Violinist Matthew Trusler performed Benjamin Britten's Violin Concerto, which was a stark contrast to Finlandia's exuberance. Written during World War 2, it is a melancholic piece (although I am not clear on whether it is mourning the event of a war, or the outcomes of the war); and although there are clearly passages which require great skill to perform (especially in the second movement), it was not a very enjoyable piece in itself. It was amazing to see it being performed - but I am not sure I would like to hear it again.

Rachmaninoff's Symphony No 1 rounded up the evening, which was yet again very boisterous. I really enjoyed the piece, especially the various contrast between the strings and the brass and percussion elements. It was loud, it was interesting, it was happy - almost all the things that the violin concerto was not - and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Movie: Gravity

There are movies that are cinematic masterpieces, and then there is Gravity which sets up an even higher bar to achieve. It doesn't matter that the visuals of the movie were mostly computer generated - it is an amazingly beautiful spectacle. The science may not be perfect and the plot could have focused less on moving from one disaster to another (I was wondering, almost hoping that a great white shark would appear). 

The great acting performances (especially by Sandra Bullock as the survivor in empty space), the masterful depiction of weightlessness and the amazing cinematography are pull together to make an amazing movie.

22 October 2013

Side Channel Attacks in the Cloud

I saw this paper (by Yinqian Zhang, Ari Juels, Michael K. Reiter and Thomas Ristenpart in ACM CCS 2012) earlier this year, but thought it was a very specific threat model. In a  one line summary - it is possible to recover private keys when they are being used within a virtual machine, through observations of the activity of the virtual machine from the host machine. It is a very complex attack, and requires at least host access for these observations, so my initial thoughts were that this attack could only be carried out by extremely skilled admins of a cloud hosting provider; but the complexity would probably mean that there was no realistic threat in that regard.

With the NSA revelations of the past few months, this is an interesting approach that could be taken by an agency (such as the NSA) to recover private keys from cloud providers, without getting actual access to the servers themselves. Given that PRISM does provide such access to hosts, it is not inconcievable that systems that are hosted on public cloud services such as Amazon's EC2 could be monitored. However, given the description of events relating to Lavabit, it is likely that this type of attack hasn't been operationalised yet - but remains interesting on what could be achieved.

20 October 2013

1820 Settlers National Monument

The 1820 Settlers National Monument is just outside Grahamstown, offering fantastic views of the town. A monument celebrating English settlers, it is in many ways a monument to colonialism - especially with cannons pointed towards the town; although the monument website talks about anything but that. The foundation building itself was closed on Sunday, but the views were worth the stop.



19 October 2013

Grahamstown

This is my 3rd time in Grahamstown, though the first extended stay here. It's a small town with impressive colonial architecture (at least in the central part). The weather hasn't been great (quite chilly actually) it's a nice plae to visit regardless.





17 October 2013

JPO's 2nd 2013 Season, 2nd Concert

Pianist Jan Hugo was completely focused on the keyboard as his fingers sped across the keys. He looked at the conductor for his cue, swayed slightly when it was just the orchestra; but mostly he was focused on the piano keys. It was a mesmerizing performance of Mendelson's 1st Piano Concerto, which got a rousing applause from the audience; so muh so, that the pianist obliged with two encores.

Before the concerto, the JPO played Mozart's Magic Flute Overture; and finished off with one of the most well known symphonies - Beethoven's 5th. Once again, conductor Daniel Boico brought great energy to the performance - especially for the symphony.

Yet another great concert from the JPO, and a great selection of pieces this week.

13 October 2013

Movie: RED 2

I enjoyed RED, and the sequel is much more of the same. As in previous movie, ex-CIA black OPS, Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and his best friend Marvin (John Malkovich) are being chased by a number of governments relating to an old operation known as Nightshade. Set up across 4 countries, there are brilliant performances by Anthony Hopkins as the deranged villain and Helen Miren gets to play the queen again - although this time it's in a psychiatric ward. 

Despite some amazing stunts, the movie felt less slick than the original. The plot has a lot of holes, the dialogue seems to have been written by different writers (of different abilities) and the story sometimes looses steam. It is still funny, and a very good antidote to the run of the mill action story.

11 October 2013

JPO's 2nd 2013 Season 1st Concert

There was a noticeable influx of youth (well anyone under 50 would be young right?) at yesterday's JPO concert - in the audience, in the orchestra, which was also led by the relatively young conductor Daniel Boico. Daniel Boico brought some amazing energy to the orchestra - especially in the opening piece; Rossini's William Tell Overture. I have heard this piece performed before, but this JPO performance was something special.

Luis Magalhaes played Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 4 next, which was sadly not at the same level. It was a strange piece - and it just didn't have the wow of Rachmaninov's earlier concertos. 

The evening ended with  Dvořák's Symphonny No 8. While it is not as recognisable as his 9th, it was a good mixture of emotional mood and was once again energetically conducted and performed. 

For an orchestra that flirted with its demise due to funding problems, this was the exact statement of revival that was needed. It's a pity that the hall wasn't sold out ...

Sport Development and Diversity

Business Day has a great article exploring why black rugby players who seem to succeed on the field in junior rugby do not succeed as they go up the age brackets.

It is an argument I have made before, in my experience with badminton in Cape Town. Sports development is not only about training and coaches - it is about nutrition, about emotional support, about family support, and a whole lot else. If kids are going to spend hours to get to training, development is not sustainable. If kids are not going to get good nutrition at home, they will physically not develop regardless of the hours they spend in gym as part of their training. If they do not get support in their education and family life (which may be in non traditional family structures) they will have other things to worry about.

That said, I am not sure that boarding school, as advocated, is the solution. In my own experience in Cape Town, the fact that top players (including national players) stayed an played in the community was in itself a promoter of the sport. Ultimately, I think a balance is required and it required support from multiple spheres of government and civil society.

09 October 2013

Trevor Noah: It's My Culture

I bought my tickets to the show in August, and already most of the tickets had been sold out for the 3 week show. Trevor Noah has had a fairly meteoric rise as a comedian - I first saw him as a support act at a comedy club about 5 years ago, and now he has 2 hour shows across the world. 

The content of his act varied widely, and he is a great story teller (and writer); managing to get laughs from even difficult topics. The story about his meeting with Julius Malema was particularly impressive, as was the brilliant story of the arrival of the escalator in Zambia (which is not too say that Zambia is technologically backward). 

Earlier, the show opened with a drummer and a puppeteer with 2 dancing puppets (who put Miley's twerking to shame). It was followed by short act by Dusty Rich; which comprised of commentary on his name and blaming his parents for (in his opinion) various genetic defects. The puppeteer was amazing; Dusty was just ok.

I am not sure that the show itself lived up to its name; but that doesn't really matter. It was a great show that definitely lived up to Trevor Noah's well earned reputation.

07 October 2013

The Price of Prepaid Mobile Data


The Economist has an analysis of mobile data prices (prepaid), with some surprising results. When the average prices are measured against the country's average income levels, SA prices do not come across as too bad - especially when compared to the US prices; and most of BRICS seem to be on par. With the recent announcement of even further cuts to mobile prices due to reduction in termination rates, the mobile data price should get better!

06 October 2013

And Then Steve Said, ‘Let There Be an iPhone’

The NYTimes has a great article on the design and engineering challenges of building the iPhone, particularly leading up to its unveiling. It's particularly interesting how rough the initial demo units were, and how much improvement was actually done in the 6 months before the actual public availability. But best of all, it is a fantastic discussion on what it takes to deliver a brand new product; and the bets that Apple effectively took to deliver the iPhone (effectively stopping development of all other products to focus on the iPhone). 

There are a lot of articles on Steve Jobs today, and this is probably the best of the lot.

05 October 2013

Carnivore

For a number of years, I have heard about the meat-lover's paradise called Carnivore. While discussing the rodizio concept with a Argentine-Brazzilian business-partner, I proposed that we go check out Carnivore.

Te restaurant is very much a rodizio, with the major difference being the variety of game meats, and the lack of a salad bar (some small amount of salad is brought to the table, but none of us had any). The decor in the restaurant is definitely geared for the tourists with iron statues of great African chiefs (Shaka, Moshoeshoe etc); some elaborate wood carvings an other curios. The service was very friendly, although quite slow.

The food (or rather the meat) was good; though some of the game was a bit tough. For meat lovers, it is certainly good value for money; and the variety of the type of meat is impressive. Unfortunately, unlike Brazilian rodizios, there wasn't too much variety in te type of preparation. It was a good evening, an certainly a great place to take meat loving tourists.

29 September 2013

Buskaid Recital

Arcadia House in the Hollard Campus is a grand, but intimate location. It was a pity that there were still a number of empty chairs for the event. Instead of an orchestra, senior students performed a solo recital of their pieces, usually accompanied by Jill Richards on the piano.The program ranged from the well known (e.g. Beethoven's Romanze in F Major or Brahms' Scherzo for Violin and Piano) to the really obscure (Paul Patterson's Tides of Mananan). 

As usual the performances were of high quality - but a few performances did stand out - Cecilia Manyama's performance of the Dvorak's Sonatina for Violin and Piano; Pule Lekarapa's performance of  Faure's Sicilenne and Tisetso Mashini's performance of Tides of Mananan was the definite highlight of the evening.

At R50 a ticket, it was great value for money and an event that should have been supported more!

26 September 2013

Movie: The Conjuring

As horror movies go, this one has a decent story, with good acting and some really scary moments. It is a ghost/poltergeist/demon story based around a large family (husband, wife, 5 daughters) that buys a dilapidated house which ends up being haunted with ghosts of a witch. In most ways its a straight forward story - well executed. I am not a fan of the genre, but I did like the fact that the horror was based on the actions of the demons/ghosts instead of gore of body parts flying around.

Naked and Afraid

Survivor made reality tv big, and Fear Factor exploited the viewer's fears (often of creepy crawlies and other gross things) and others have taken the viewers to exotic locations around the world. And in all examples of reality tv, it is a bunch of people competing for a prize. There are a lot of safety nets (in shows such as Fear Factor), and most reality tv shows are driven by the competition between the participants.

National Geographic's Naked and Afraid series (not sure if it is screening in SA yet) somewhat turns most of this up side down. There is no prize money. There is no competition between participants. For 6 episodes, 1 man and 1 woman, both supposed expert survivalists, are placed naked (as in absolutely no clothes) in some inhospitable location, with 2 survival tools (usually from the group of cutting implement, fire starting implement and pot) and live for 21 days. Yes there is a camera crew - but only during the day. The participants have to do everything for survival - get water, get food, make shelter and survive the local inhabitants, ranging from snakes, to bugs to hyenas. 

What is most interesting, is what it really takes to survive in remote locations with no real help. All participants loose weight - some with drastic weight loss. Many almost give up - and 2 actually do. Making fire, with 2 sticks can take hours. Making fire, even with a lighter, can fail when there is nothing to burn. Despite being experienced hunters, all participants go for days without food. Almost every participant falls sick or gets injured in some manner. And the nudity - you don't see much, this being an American production - makes it difficult when temperature drops, or sun leads to bad sunburn.
 
Should a post-apocalyptic scenario painted by novels or movies ever take place - humanity won't be only wiped out by the event - but by the thirst for water, lack of food, lack of good tools and microbes. It also means that while we were once equipped to survive on primitive conditions, we have also lost those natural defences long ago. Progress has its downsides ...

18 September 2013

NSA and Cryptography Attacks

There have been a few excellent articles on the NSA "breaking encryption", as reported in The Guardian and New York Times. In the talk 2 weeks ago Vint Cerf commented that we should use stronger keys - but as per the articles, key length may not be the issue at all. To summarise there are a few ways encryption can be broken:
  1. Brute force the keys
  2. Bugs in the software/hardware implementation
  3. Bugs in the algorithm
  4. Interception before encryption (in the case of network encryption specifically)
  5. Steal the key
For point 1,  I think the maths of brute forcing the keys still hold out, we may be close - but I don't think we are there yet. But still, the advice of stronger keys always helps.

For point 2, there have been bugs in encryption libraries before and there are potentially still bugs in these libraries. Both Bruce Shneier and Matthew Green comment on the possibility that there are bugs in the Microsoft crypto library (which is closed source) and even Open SSL. Another possible attack vector, as noted by Ed Felten, is buggy components that make up crypto components, such as bad random number generators - which can then lead to weak keys etc. Faulty hardware (including deliberate backdoors) is also a possibility explored by Ed Felten.

For point 3, in most cases the maths in encryption algorithms seem to be right, and strong. But there have been cases were crypto algorithms have been broken (sometimes after years in operation) and cases where weak algorithms have been submitted for consideration in standards. I think most of the modern algorithms, such as AES are strong - but perhaps there are flaws that just haven't been published.

Point 4 raises an interesting attack vector, which I have seen being carried out by pentesters - basically a proxy service where a network call is intercepted at the initiation of a network session, and then network encryption is easily eavesdropped by the middle party. If the NSA is intercepting huge amount of traffic, it is possible to create such an attack - but automating this in a large scale is surely difficult?

The last point, of stealing keys - or rather forcing companies to hand over their keys under Prism is probably the easiest way for the NSA. There is some commentary on the possibility that the NSA had access to compromised keys at certificate authorities - which would assist this type.

Overall, I don't think there has been fundamental break in cryptography - but there has certainly been weak implementations followed by exploitation by the NSA.
 

17 September 2013

The best form of defence is active defence

Over the past couple of years, Dave and I have had numerous discussions on various legal concepts around IT. As a noted privacy expert, and a IT professor at UNISA, the topics have been varied, and often straying to the esoteric.

Over the weekend, Dave and I recorded a podcast with Tony Olivier for the DiscussIT Pubcast on IT Security, covering the concept of active defence/hacking back. Dave and I previously presented the topic at a closed forum? And thought it would make it interesting to make it available to a wider audience. Tony is an excellent host, and managed to steer the discussion to additional points we had previously not covered. The podcast is a bit rough - it picks up a bit of the ambient noise, and is mostly unedited so all the umms and stutters are included for special effect :)

15 September 2013

Car Guard Insights

When M & I got to my car after lunch at 44 Stanley, we noticed that the car behind us was parked funny; which I commented to the car guard. To that he replied, that the driver ran out of petrol, and thus had to park it as best as he could. 

But it was the ensuing short conversation, that made me think. The guard proceeded to comment  - "Us black brothers just don't seem to plan ahead - after all the petrol station is just there" (pointing to the other end of Stanley road). "He and another guy went to get petrol some time ago - no idea where they are".

"Have you heard about our president and his fight with the media" (pronounced as Med-ia) he continued - "and it's not the media's fault that they are talking about bad things. If Zuma had done good things, they would be talking about good things; instead he fights the media".

Auckland Park is the centre of two of SA's biggest media organisations - SABC and Media24 - so the comment is not completely out of place. But what made me think is, that even the ANC's traditional supporters - such as the car guard - are not accepting the spin. The question is, as with service delivery protests, are the disaffected going to vote for opposition; or are they just going to not bother voting. 

Interesting times ...

Movie: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

M wanted to watch the movie based on the trailer - neither of us had read the books, nor did we expect much. Based on a similar premise as Harry Porter and the excellent Night Watch series - there is a hidden world where the supernatural exists, and similar to Night Watch, this is constant fight between good and evil. 

In this particular series, the good is represented by Shadow Hunters (assisted by werewolves), while the evil is represented by demons (with vampires and a few others). The shadow hunters are constantly hunting demons - thought their ranks are small and dwindling further; and the main plot in the movie revolves around internal conflicts within the shadow hunters; with a character similar to that of Voldemort in Harry Potter.

The movie starts of promisingly; but devolves into cliches, predictability, and illogical plot development. It is visually great, with ok acting, but is not really as compelling a story as Harry Potter or as complex as Night Watch. It's a fun movie - just not a stimulating one; and I doubt I will watch any other future adaptations.

11 September 2013

Movie: Elysium

Elysium is effectively set in a world where the current economic and political policies are taken to their extreme, logical conclusion. A world where there is an effective two-class economy - the very rich, and everyone else (extrapolation of the current discrepancies in countries such as South Africa, Brazil and India), where immigration of the poor is controlled with a degree of viciousness (Australia's new immigration policies?), where even basic health care is difficult to get (almost everywhere except Europe), dependence on warlords for safety and security (Hamas in Palestine, Somalia?), over-population leading to vast slums (India, Brazil, South Africa) and a scenario of factories working off effectively slave labour (China). It is a dystopian future that has been on screen and books before - but I just don't think it has been shown in such extreme brutality.

In this setting, the story of Max (Matt Damon) who inadvertently starts a fight against the system is compelling, but ultimately looses out of steam about 70% of the way in - but by then the movie needs to finish a story, and not provide a philosophical parable. Perhaps the most telling point is that ultimately, in the future, it is the android robots that are more humane than the humans.

It is visually stunning, backed up with some great acting - especially by Sharlto Copley as the renegade mercenary Kruger. It is definitely worth watching, on a big screen.

08 September 2013

Buskaid 2013

It was yet another sold out event for the annual Buskaid concert at Linder Auditorium last night; which presented yet again an eclectic compilation of music; most of which has probably not been presented on South African stages before. Two pieces also featured German musician Uwe Grosser playing the chitarrone; a strange plucking instrument descendant from the lute - probably another first in South Africa. 

The classical ensemble pieces included selections from Rameau's Suite from Les Indes Galantes, Vivaldi's Ercole su'l Termodonte: Simfonia and selections from Johannes Brahms' Liebeslieder Walzer. Of the three, the Vivaldi piece was the closest to a standard symphonic piece; while the others are shorter works which were often meant to be accompanied by dances (in the case of Rameau) or singing (in the case of the Brahms). Perhaps, for future concerts it would be worthwhile for Buskaid to consider such accompaniments - as it would certainly make the concerts a richer experience.

There seemed to be fewer individual pieces (i.e. featuring soloists), but they were certainly the highlights of the evening for me. Recent graduates from the Royal Academy of Music in London - Kabelo Monnathabe and Tiisetso Mashishi played the first two solo pieces - Nigel Hess' Theme from Ladies in Lavendar (from movie of the same name) and John Woolrich's Ulysses Awakes. Of these two, Ulysses Awakes was the surprising piece - a very somber moving piece for the viola.

The highlight piece was certainly Simiso Radebe (also a current student at the Royal Academy of Music) performing Jenő Hubay's Hejre Kati. In previous concerts, Simiso has often performed the virtuoso violin pieces, and this concert was no difference - this was the flashy piece, showcasing a wide range of what the violin can perform, and Simiso delivered a brilliant performance.

As per other Buskaid performances, the concert ended with a selection of kwela pieces; after a vocal solo piece - Hoagy Carmichael's Lazybones. The kwela pieces were new arrangements, and both the vocal pieces and the kwela pieces differentiate the Buskaid concerts from run of the mill classical concerts with more energy and fun - for both the performers and the audience. 

It was once again, a brilliant Buskaid concert and a great showcase of musical talent. Buskaid is a great initiative that deserves more support and has the potential to be a cultural institution for South Africa.

07 September 2013

Vinton Cerf and Re-Imagining the Internet in the 21st Century

WITS Vice Chancellor, Prof. Adam  Habib opened the proceedings of the 62nd Bernard Price Memorial Lecture, with reflections on Dr Bernard Price - a notable engineer and scientist who straddled a number of scientific disciplines and also had significant input into the development of South Africa's electrical infrastructure. In that sense, Prof. Habib concluded that, Vinton Cerf was similar; as someone who has straddled the development in science, most notably in the sphere of Internet protocols; but has also had a profound impact on the development of the world through his contributions.

 Vinton Cerf's talk definitely paid homage to that theme; where he charted the development of the Internet, from the initiation of ARPANET itself, all the way to the modern Internet of things, and inter-planetary Internet. His insights into the development of ARPANET itself was interesting - from the considerations that were needed for satellite and radio inter-connectivity, and to more humourous commentary on how the address-space allocation in IP was derived.

He covered some of the coming challenges of the Internet including privacy concerns (something, he believes will only be addressed through trial and error), the promise of Google glass (which will go on sale next year, apparently) and the policy battle for the control of the Internet. 

It is the first time, I have heard a clear and succinct explanation on why ICANN is better than the ITU - ICANN is a multi-stakeholder body that includes corporations, private persons and governments; whereas ITU is purely a government organisation. Thus, ICANN, being more participatory is more likely to uphold the tenets of the Internet, as opposed to ITU which may make it a political football. He did think that ICANN requires more government engagement, especially with regards to cross-border disputes and crimes - but ultimately it should be run without political interference.

He finished with commentary on the challenges of inter-planetary Internet. I had not considered the challenges to be that difficult, beyond the physical constraints - and the actual deployment of relay points via orbiters, probes etc. is something fairly logical IMO. However, when he threw the discussion to inter-stellar Internet, and the challenges posed by the bending of light via gravity, it did make the challenges far more interesting - although the approach was seemingly still similar.

Vint Cerf is an amazing speaker, and it was a great memorial lecture by one of the great scientists of today. You can see the full video on YouTube, though apparently the slides aren't shown.

01 September 2013

Mass Hysteria

At over 3 hours, with 8 stand-up comedians, and ticket prices for only R180, Mass Hysteria was definitely one of the best value-for-money shows I have been to in the recent past. And when you consider the line-up, it was an absolute bargain. Themed around government minister (each comedian was a minster of something), it was a brilliant showcase of South African comedy touching all the usual points - race, sex, money, love, politics and general South African life.

The young, Mpho Pops (Minister of Da Youth), started of proceedings with one of the best routines of the evening - with some of the best jokes centred around the early integration of race in Model C schools, and township life. After Mpho, Joey Rashdien (Minister of Religion) was quite flat; and I think was the weakest set of the evening. Ndumiso Lindi (Roosta in Chief) continued the cultural focus, starting with the requirement of jackets for a traditional Xhosa gathering and ending with the complexities of kids with multi-racial friends. 

The best act of the evening was definitely John Vlismas (Minister of Offence, naturally); who did not care much about the line that can't be crossed in comedy. He announced that he was a vegetarian (and still a leather pants wearing hypocrite), took real exception to Gautengers' opposition to e-tolls after they were built (and not protesting during construction) and ended his set on why most miracles are actually rather mundane and not very fortunate in the first place. 

Despite attending many comedy shows over the past 10 plus years, I had not attended a live show featuring the soft spoken, and colourful Casper de Vries (Minister of Mini-series, Internet and other media). His take on the ANN7 bloopers while comparing it to early years of SABC was impressive, as was his various takes on TV shows. 

I have seen Conrad Koch and Chester Missing a few times in the past few months; and sadly there was no new material. While still a laugh, it just wasn't as impressive the first few times. Nik Rabinowitz, the Xhosa Jew (or is it the other way round?) used his multi-lingual skills to great effect - though for whatever reason, I didn't find his performance very memorable. For the final act, Tumi Morake (Minister of Women, Disabilities, Midgets, Aliens etc) showed Miley Cyrus how to twerk, explained the different interpretations of "getting a Brazilian" and explored the impact of non functioning contraceptives. 

It was a long show, and definitely one of the best comedy shows I have been to. Hoping that there are future iterations - with new content off course!

24 August 2013

Amazing Biography of Marissa Mayer

It's not often that new media does really in-depth investigative style articles. Business Insider was probably the last place I would have seen such an article - often they just summarise and link to the story. Instead, the unauthorised biography of Marissa Mayer is well written, with sources to boot; and gives some interesting insight to one of the most powerful tech leaders. It's well worth a read!

18 August 2013

Cirque de la Symphonie

After a few acts, the conductor of the evening, Theodore Kuchar, turned to the audience to say a few words - most of which were difficult to hear, given that he spoke without a microphone. The gist, I gathered, was that about 7 years ago, he was approached to create a spectacle combining circus acts and a Symphony orchestra playing classical music. He didn't think it would work, but was proven wrong, as orchestras that took on the concept had sell-out shows; and became a vital way to bolster orchestra's finances. And thus, Cirque de la Symphonie, came to become a global touring phenomenon featuring local orchestras. Last night, it was the turn of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra to host the show at the Teatro, followed by Cape Town next week.

The circus acts feature a combination of acrobatics, a clown juggler and a short magic skit - and some of the acrobatics were spectacular - especially the last act featuring two bronzed men, doing some gymnastics requiring impressive amount of strength, coordination and balance. The accompanying musical pieces were all popular pieces (although I couldn't name them all - and the lack of a program was disappointing in this regard).

Although the event was billed as a combination of circus and orchestra; in most cases it was the circus acts that took precedence in terms of applause and appreciation. But a full house, featuring an audience that was most unlike a regular JPO concert, did support Theodore Kuchar's statement that this was a great means to get new audiences. 

And it is in that regard that the JPO missed an important opportunity to do some simple market research. I would have been most interested in asking the audience some of the following questions:
  • Did the audience members know that there was a JPO?
  • Did the audience members know when the JPO concerts were?
  • Were they more interested in the music or the circus acts?
  • Were they more likely to go to a pure musical event?
  • What type of music were they more likely to want to hear?
  • What day of the week would they more likely want to attend a concert?
  • Where would it be a more convinient place to attend a concert?
 I think it is the latter questions that are necessary to be answered before the JPO can truly become sustainable. A show like Cirque de la Symphonie suggests that there are people, of all ages, who would attend a musical concert featuring classical music. And that there is a market for classical music - but without actually tapping this market the JPO is bound to remain in the current financial quagmire.

17 August 2013

Beethoven Flash Mob

Partly an advertising campaign, but still a very cool flashmob; where a lone musician (double bass) introduces the choral part of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, and slowly an entire orchestra and choir joins in. The expression of the crowd, especially the kids, is fun to watch.

Odd Spam Mail

I usually go through my spam folder to check for incorrect identification; and once in a while I come across really weird emails. Weird in that, there is no obvious phishing attempt, attempt at selling me something or just plain malware. 

A few days ago, I came across this one - allegedly from the United Nations, looking for potential employees. At best it would be a CV harvest, which I suppose could be used for identity theft - but given the proliferation of job sites, this seems to be a strange way to harvest CVs. There are no attachments, and apart from being sent from a non UN email address (sent from a university in Bangladesh - possibly from a botnet); there isn't much going for this. Still rather strange ...

The Human Resources!

The United Nations Secretariat is looking for competent and motivated persons in all
fields of human studies and career, with a strong belief in its purpose and mandates,
who are willing to dedicate themselves to a rewarding international career in different
locations around the world.  The United Nations provides an opportunity to serve in a
dynamic, multicultural environment in a variety of jobs in the support of global
causes.

United Nations staff uphold the principles and core values of the Organization,
including integrity, professionalism, efficiency and respect for diversity.  The United
Nations welcomes applications from nationals of all Member States and strongly
encourages women to apply. Applicants with disabilities are considered by the United
Nations for employment under all types of contracts in full compliance with the United
Nations Charter. The United Nations offers a variety of ways to join its workforce. It
also offers university students opportunities to serve as interns.

We want people with integrity from all works of life. People who are fair, impartial,
honest and truthful. We want dynamic and adaptable persons who are not afraid to think
creatively, to be proactive, flexible and responsive. If you think you embody these
values then this is the place for you and your career. The UN Jobs is open to all
varieties of your human careers, so anyone can apply, but not anyone will be selected!
Applicants with satisfactory requirement as outlined in their curriculum Vitae will be
contacted directly by the relevant divisions for deployment.

In Global Service!

Mr. Steiner Cobla
Executive Director: United Nations Employment Unit
Email: dfid@careceo.com
Phone/fax: +44-7010-051-797
+44-703-187-7882