Friday, 14 March 2008

Is Your PC South African?

With so many people now using open source software the people at are hard at work releasing versions of Firefox, Open Office, Thunderbird and more into the 11 official languages of South Africa.

Yesterday they announced that an Afrikaans version of the Firefox 3 beta was available for download.

They also have a South African keyboard available and spell checkers for local languages.

If your mother tongue is not English and you would like to use your software in your home language you need to take a look at these :

A glance at the news page gives much information about the state of languages and their use in local software - worth a look.

A feather in the cap for our local open source software translators is that their translation tools are now also used by the One Laptop Per Child project, as well as Sun Microsystems for the translation of and Well done to the folks at Translate - more South Africans making a global impact!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

SA's Playboy Bunny Can't Sell Her Tail

Did you know that South Africa has its own Playboy bunny? Born in the former Czechoslovakia at the end of World War 2, Heidi Vos lost her parents to disease in a refugee camp and was smuggled to Germany as a toddler by an aunt. After a stint as an au-pair in the US she moved to New Orleans at the age of 19 to become a Playboy bunny.

She now lives in Mill Park and is the founder of the annual Chilli Festival. In an attempt to raise money for the Barcelone Feeding Scheme she tried to auction off her fluffy bunny tail this past weekend at the festival. However nobody was at all interested! It seems that the bunny tails of 65 year old Playboy bunnies are not in vogue right now! She was hoping to make R10 000 from the little white piece of fluff!

The entire costume was supposed to be returned when she left Playboy but as she says "this one fell through the cracks."

Interesting note - after her Playboy Club days Vos became one of the world's first female disc jockeys.

South African Democracy In Action (pic)

It seems that the days of loyalist voting are beginning to be numbered as South Africans begin to realise that their vote counts and that the power to keep politicians on board the gravy train lies in their hands.

(Photo - Garth Stead, Die Burger)

Tuesday, 04 March 2008

Zuma Is Not The Enemy

Like many other white middle-class South Africans I held my breath during the ANC Polokwane conference held last year. I waited anxiously to hear who would be elected ANC President and would therefore most likely be our next national leader. When Jacob Zuma was elected to this position I expressed aloud my disappointment and concern at having a man with such a blotted copybook as our president.

Recent events however have caused me to wonder if it is in fact the trade unions, COSATU in the main, who we have to be concerned about. Last week Zuma opened the debate on reform of labour legislation to ensure that the unacceptably high unemployment rate be brought down. COSATU quickly shut down this debate in what appeared to be an attempt to remind Zuma where his power base lies and who voted him into power.

During 2005 the ANC national general council meeting prepared an initial paper on labour market regulation and the existence of a 'second economy'. Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi then presented a discussion document which included ideas on building a dual labour market.

It was COSATU's violent reaction to these proposals that lead to these important issues being swept under the carpet at last year's Polokwane conference. This has now lead to the current situation where the president of the ruling party simply raised issues his party has raised before. He said that trade unions operated in the 'first economy' and that the 'second economy' was neglected "by all of us". Zuma pointed out that some labour regulation had the unfortunate effect of cutting out the poorest of the poor and that flexibility was need to address this.

What South Africa most needs now is a leader who will not bow to the pressure exerted on government by increasingly vocal and militant trade unions who seem intent of self-protection. We need a leader who understands the need for economic growth through legislative reform and who will not allow petty politics to derail the progress made so far.

While Jacob Zuma is still not my first choice national leader, I have been surprised (perhaps even impressed thus far) at his statements regarding economic growth and development. He finds himself in an interesting position - a support base among the poor, a power base among workers and an entire country waiting for 2009 to see if he can actually deliver. Add to this mix possible prosecution and a pending court case - its a wonder he can sleep at all!