Touching the Surface – OneNote, OneDrive

OneNoteA few weeks ago, I downloaded a free Android App for my mobile called “OneNote”. Recently one of my customers asked me if there was an app that could save all his passwords, make notes so that he can access it all in one place as well as being able to access them from a PC. I showed him OneNote.

I must say that It does this job very well – Whether I am on my Samsung 10.1” tablet, my S6 smartphone, if I want to access it via the web, or simply to save it directly from Microsoft Office’s Windows application, OneNote – which is a very under-rated application that no-one seems to use, it all integrates seamlessly. It goes beyond that, however, it uses Microsoft’s cloud service called OneDrive and saves all the notes in one spot on the web.

If you haven’t got a Windows Live ID account yet, head on over to http://login.live.com and get an account. OneDrive is more than just a convenient place to store notes. It includes an internet browser based copy of Excel, Word, PowerPoint and OneNote called WebApps. It has15Gb of free storage for you to keep all your photo’s, documents backed up and accessible from any of your PC or mobile devices. All you need is an internet connection. Never lose anything ever again. An additional 15gb is automatically added to your account if you sync your “Camera Roll” with the account – and why would you not want to do that?

surface_2The OneDrive web apps are amazing – you don’t need Word installed on your PC – you just need a compatible internet browser and voila! You can open up your word documents in a web browser like Internet Explorer, work on them and save them on-line – accessible in the “cloud” from all your devices. It is a scaled down version of the Office 2010 Suite Apps for PC, but they are certainly functional enough to do most tasks and certainly good enough to view documents on-line. They are also, in my opinion, much less clumsy and awkward than the existing mobile apps.

OneDrive works so much better than other apps for the cloud I’ve used. If you have a utility like “OneDrive Browser” for your android, you can put PDF files and anything else you need and make it immediately accessible from any device.

Most people don’t see the power of the cloud and a simple internet browser. Many software / support companies don’t see how the reliance on I.T. folk will shift from support people to training people and programmers. This is the area in IT that will grow in time.

In a short while, you won’t buy any software – you will just subscribe to it and when you decide to stop using it, you will just end your subscription. You want to use an accounting package like Pastel, Quickbooks, etc? No problem, go to their site address, type in your username and password and you use it right there in your internet web browser. No need for backups. No need for fast PC’s – all the processing is done on their servers. All you will need is a low latency, adequate bandwidth, reliable internet connection.

Microsoft does something better than anyone else – they make things work together. It is why I speculate that even though Windows 8 is rather late in the tablet game with the announcement of their new Windows “Surface” tablet, they are already ahead of the pack.

surface_1Microsoft’s “comeback” slogan for tablets as well as cloud services really should be – “late in the game, but already ahead of the pack.”  Don’t believe me? One of the number one gripes about people using portable tablets, phones, etc that I am faced with is: “Why is there no Microsoft Office package that works like Office?”

The Microsoft philosophy is one program working on everything. The most successful programming languages work this way, and I see no reason for this to not be what we demand from our devices. Trying to bind proprietary hardware to software has historically been shown to be successful, but ultimately detrimental to the products that embrace this. People want choice.

Give OneNote and OneDrive a try. It’s currently freely available for PC, Windows Mobile, Android and even the iPad.

 

Your notebook or computer on steroids – the SSD

ssdpicSSD – Solid State Drive. Windows takes some 40 to 60 seconds to boot from when it starts displaying the “starting windows” logo. A computer fitted with an SSD? From 6 to 20 seconds depending on the drive you buy, your computer speed, age of technology and on what operating system you are running. For Windows XP, it will take longer than Windows 7 to start, but Windows 8, despite some people saying uninformed things about it can be even faster.

To simplify things for the layman, Traditional Hard Disks read like an old phonograph record – except the heads are magnetic, not a needle and the data is stored in magnetic bits of information instead of grooves in a record. The record inside the drive (platter) spins anywhere from 5,400 to 15,000 RPM and the drive can usually be heard making a faint humming or ticking noise as it reads data from the drive. When the drive makes loud clicking noises, it has usually been bumped and it is time to back up your data. Obviously as it is mechanical, it draws quite a bit of power compared to the new SSD technology. More power = more heat = less battery life for notebooks.

An SSD is like a really fast USB thumb drive and works in a similar way to a flash drive. It has no moving parts and consists of memory chips, is generally 3~5 times faster at reading and writing information/data than a hard disk. It has a longer time between failure than a traditional hard disk too. An added benefit is that when it begins to fail, it will usually retain the information. You will usually be able to “read” the drive, but you will lose the ability to “write” as the drive fails.

Unfortunately SSD, as all new technology comes at a price and like all new technology, it will fall in price as the technology gets cheaper – hopefully. What may prevent the price falling? Well, just like Hard Disks were kept at quite a high price due to people wanting to record their TV shows on their PVRs and raising demand for large storage drives, cell phone manufacturers are keeping the demand for the SSD memory high by preferring the low-power, high speed storage of  internal memory that SSD’s use.

Size is limited too – while Hard Disks may go up to 4000Gb (aka 4Tb), you seldom find an SSD bigger than 512Gb at the moment – we recommend 64Gb~256Gb as best value for money.

one (1) Gb of Traditional Hard Disk Storage Space = about R1 per Gb

one (1) Gb of SSD Storage Space = about R12 per Gb

ssdcompWho would use an SSD? Anyone and everyone essentially. We are fitting 64Gb drives to all our corporate sites at the moment as standard. A 64Gb SSD costs about the same as an entry level 500gb drive, but users don’t need more than 20~30gb of space to be productive in. Usually, depending on job description, only when a user starts putting personal, non-work related photos and movies on their drives do they usually fill up past the 30gb point. I have been using an 80gb drive in a work machine for years and never needed more than 30gb of space. In any event, staff should be trained that everything work-related “should” be saved on the server so that it may be backed up at night.

Solid State Drives are also great for people who want a drive to use as a “scratch” drive for editing work like big photos, CAD jobs, massive spreadsheets or basically any program that needs a boost in performance.

Everything loads almost instantaneously from an SSD. Notebooks immediately get a boost to battery life and fitting an SSD makes it behave like a tablet – better in fact – as you can see in the YouTube video below.

ssdvshddEven an entry level 2nd Generation i3 Notebook seems to behave like a completely different appliance when you fit an aftermarket SSD. From a productivity point of view, we at Kondura still prefer a Notebook /or Netbook running Windows, Office with Word, Excel & Outlook over a tablet. Tablets are great for e-mail, news, social networking, photo’s, but for quotes, etc we find a notebook to still be tops.

In summary,

Advantages of an SSD over a Hard Disk:

  1. No moving parts,
  2. hence no vibration and,
  3. also less power draw – for notebooks, usually extends battery life,
  4. Less heat and hence longer data life,
  5. Data on an SSD is almost impervious to bumps and device can be moved while on without any risk of damage /or data loss.
  6. Everything gets a speed boost – loading applications to PC reboot time significantly decreasing. At a minimum, a 30% application load time speed boost is apparent.
  7. More stable as an SSD has almost 1/2 million more hours of estimated life before failure.
  8. An SSD is safe from magnetism whereas a traditional hard disk is not.
  9. Did we mention it’s fast? An average SSD has 200Mb to 530Mb per second READ times and an average mechanical Hard Disk is 80Mb to 120Mb per second reads.

Disadvantages of an SSD to a Hard Disk:

  1. Expensive per Gb. If you need a lot of storage space for your movies, data, server, you will prefer a traditional hard disk. Other than that, an SSD pretty much walks over the older technology.

The major problem with using an SSD? Once you’ve used a computer / notebook with an SSD, you will feel like every other computer has a major problem due to it feeling so slow. Yes, it makes that much of a difference.

For corporate customers, We sincerely recommend that you do a trial upgrade run on computers / notebooks that are 3 years old in your firm and ask your IT guy to fit a few of these and a bit of extra RAM (memory). You may save yourself the need to purchase a new computer /or notebook as most programs are slowed by hard disk due to their sheer size. Fitting an SSD may prolong your technology life two to three years and if the computer does crash during this time due to some other problem, the SSD can be transferred to another PC.

If you need further information, or a quote, pop an e-mail to info@kondura.co.za

Stop PoPping and start Pushing with Office365 /or Exchange!

cellphone2Got a “smart” phone? Why you using a “dumb” POP3 mailbox? struggling with syncing of mail? You shouldn’t be if you’ve got a Microsoft Exchange mail account.

If you have two or more users, it may be more viable to switch to Office365 and Kondura Technologies can help you with this, at about R60 per month per mailbox. This is hosted securely with an internet service provider.

Advantages of Exchange Mailbox over normal POP3 e-mail?

Group calendars to streamline scheduling and meeting arrangements. Company-wide address books and other shared contact information. Public folders for organizing and sharing files. Shared, track-able task-lists and timelines. Group-wide communication and collaboration without the expense or technical hassles normally associated with supporting sophisticated software applications. Real-time access via the Internet to email management, shared calendars and address books, public folders, task-lists and timelines.

All mail is backed up in cyberspace as well as a copy on your Microsoft Office Outlook if you choose to run this on your PC/notebook. Not only your mail, but your calendar, notes, contacts and tasks are ALL backed up – so your phone can break and you’ve got your info all backed up at all times and it is accessible from any internet browser, anywhere! Everything is automatically synced in live-time, through the internet (3G or Wireless)

cellphone5I can have outlook open on my screen, click an “unread” mail on my phone and voila! the mail will be marked as read on my PC as I am looking at it.

Your secretary can even add an entry into your calendar at the office and it will appear on your phone. I realize this is common knowledge to some, but you would be surprised how few people realize how technology works when used properly.

The difference between exchange and normal POP3 mail? In exchange, multiple devices “look” at your mail folders – which are stored either at your office (on a server) or on a server at your Internet Service Provider – whereas older mailboxes need to download each message or download separate copies of your mail for each device you own – to fool your phone into thinking it works the same way as an exchange mailbox.

cellphone4Old mail like POP3 results in you needing to set things like “leave a copy of mail on server for 14 days” and then you could get “mailbox full” errors when people try send you things. With an exchange server, your mail is never downloaded – only if you choose it to be and then it is only a copy – the server doesn’t lose the mail or items – you merely “look” at your mailbox.

If you have a tablet, phone, PC running an exchange mailbox, you delete a contact, or amend an e-mail address, or delete a mail, or send a mail, the changes you make appear on ALL the devices because you are not changing them on the device, but on the server itself.

For example, if you send a mail, a copy will appear in your sent items on all devices, etc.

The other great thing about exchange, all the newest smartphones like iPhone, Android and Windows work seamlessly with it. No extra software required on your phone. It just works!

Thinking of getting a phone, we recommend iPhone, Android or Windows phones. These work with native Microsoft Exchange Server. We do not recommend Blackberry as it uses proprietary software – more things to go wrong in our opinion – more on this in a future article.

One word of caution if you do buy a smartphone – please ensure you set a limit / warning on your cellphone data usage or account overall usage to prevent you watching too many you-tube videos or downloading apps and letting you be billed at South African cellular provider’s astronomical out-of-bundle data rates!

 

Reasons to switch your PC off at night

Burning PCIf you ask IT people if you should switch off your computer at night, you will get different responses. Here are our reasons as to why you should switch off your computers. Most of these have been validated through personal experiences.

The most obvious – it wastes electricity – most computers consume more power than several light bulbs.

Before you say that standby uses less power, PC’s are still more susceptible to power surges, lightning damage, possible overheating and hardware malfunction – even in standby mode.

It poses a possible fire hazard if a fan stops working or maybe an insect crawls into the unit and shorts something out while you are not there to notice it – or alternatively, a device may malfunction and components inside the PC may overheat. We have recently seen first-hand how a computer can start a fire.

Thieves can see and/or hear PC’s easier and also see around the office easier when they’re on at night. A simple LED in a dark room can be seen from quote a distance and also illuminates a dark room quite a bit at night. Might seem like silly advice, but with break-ins as high as they are in South Africa, you really don’t want to give any thief an advantage.

Computers generally work better and faster from a fresh restart in the morning.

When you are away from the PC, anything could happen, a water pipe or geyser may burst, the roof could leak from heavy rain and short out the components. Rather leave it off. Odds are that if it is off when it gets water on it, you will just need to wait for it to dry out before you switch it on and although the chemical residues in the water will probably do permanent damage, you should at least have enough time to get a data backup. If it is on, however, components will probably short out and data recovery will be harder and more expensive.

Less chance of recovering data if a drive crashes when you are not there and is left on for a prolonged period. The longer you leave a defective drive on, usually the worse the damage becomes. It is always a good idea the moment you notice your computer malfunctioning or slow down to make a backup. This may not be possible if the drive crashes during the night.

Some programs and documents will not have their data backed up correctly via the server backup if you leave them open on your computer as they are considered “open files” and may be skipped.

In addition, some programs on the server perform critical maintenance at night that could cause corruption if you leave programs open and possibly make your computer unstable when you attempt to use it in the morning causing loss of work.

Many of our colleagues may scoff at this, but they are not aware of our first-hand experience with some of the new generation of remote desktop malware and root-kits. Leaving your computer on leaves it more susceptible to hackers. If your computer is on, and you get hacked while connected to the network your entire computer and network could be open to the outside world. You may notice performance issues and anomalies while you are working on the PC during the day and report them, but at night, the hacker is free to peruse things, plant a mass-mailing worm and basically cause chaos at his leisure.

Well, there you have it! Good reasons to leave your computer off at night.

Movie and Game Piracy – Port Elizabeth kids/parents face charges

Click_but_cant_hideDo you know what your kids, your employees are downloading on your internet connection?

We wish to assure you that this is not an attempt at fear-mongering. This is a real, sincere concern. People’s lives may be destroyed financially. Movie and record companies are now targeting South Africa and attempting to sue  private individuals for damages. Recently, we were made aware that the police arrived at a local PE school and questioned two students in connection with downloading illegal movies. Overseas corporate media companies had contacted the local police to investigate the school as they had traced illegal movie/game download activity to the school’s internet connection. At this time, we are unsure of the legal outcome.

However, two days ago, we were brought face-to-face with the reality of one case and realized just how serious the media companies are when we were asked to validate and discuss an e-mail that was sent from a US movie distributor to a local ISP who then contacted a student in PE’s father. The e-mail threatened possible legal action and attempts to sue for damages over the download of a movie that was a breach of their copyright. This was not a hoax.

A month or two ago, another person we know had his computer confiscated, had to pay a huge fine, and just narrowly avoided a prison sentence. A few weeks ago, we are made aware of another person that appears to have been let off with a warning, but he is still not sure if the media company will try to still sue for damages. It is obvious that the movie, software and record companies are here and they mean business. We are not sure about other cities, but Port Elizabeth definitely appears to be in the spotlight with the sudden apparent surge of legal incidents.

utorrentIt’s not only the media companies becoming more active in policing and enforcing either. Three weeks ago, Microsoft checked on our offices to ensure that we were “clean dealers”. We were obviously not concerned as we had signed a document on becoming “clean dealer” giving them permission to do so. We passed. Others may not be so lucky. If you are running illegal software, you may not be aware that staff can pick up a nice reward for reporting their employers for illegal software use.

These incidents have all occurred in just the last few weeks. It appears as if the media industry has begun to seriously crack down on private individuals that download movies, songs and software programs in South Africa. It has already happened in other parts of the world and millions of dollars worth of lawsuits and settlements have taken place. Many young people’s lives have already been ruined by a simple download that was traced to them and they had to settle for thousands of dollars to avoid prosecution.

If you are parent or an employer, we seriously recommend that you ensure that none of the people using your internet connection have any form of “torrent” or download software installed on their computers. It is only a matter of time before they are caught and you, as the owner of the internet connection could face fines totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars or even be held criminally liable.

How will you be caught? Easy. Every time you connect to the internet, your ISP (Axxess, AfriHost, MWEB, Telkom, etc) give your router an IP address of theirs to use. They log this IP address every time you use their internet connection and you as the user. The record & movie companies or a willing representative then place a popular movie, program or song on one of their servers that are monitored or simply collect historical information from the computers obtained from prior convictions and confiscations. Your torrent software detects their server as a valid source of downloading from and give you access to it. They record your IP address as well as when and what you downloaded.

handcuffsFirewalls don’t help you. Special VPN software like “Hide my A$$” don’t help either. Don’t be fooled into a false sense of security. Don’t let some smug “IT expert” or “friend” tell you otherwise. You can and will be traced. When you connect to a VPN like “Hide my A$$”, your IP is logged with them, and HMA’s IP is logged with the torrent, so all the investigators have to do is trace it back to HMA, to your ISP and then back to you. There is no way that you can hide your internet connection. Once you are caught and pursued, it will end up costing you a lot of money in legal fees – regardless of whether you manage to avoid prosecution.

You’ve been warned. We advise you to check your kid’s computers, to send out a memo to all staff regarding this and warning them that they will be held personally liable and that you will be forced to assist in prosecuting them if you are investigated.

We strongly advise that you get your IT support company to ensure that no torrent software is installed on your site. These four recent incidents in Port Elizabeth that we are aware of are probably just the tip of the iceberg. We expect a lot more people will be confronted, and caught up in expensive court battles and forced into costly legal settlements in the next few months.

If you have illegal movies, software, games, or music at home – given to you by friends, don’t think you are safe either. As part of settlements, the investigators often demand lists of people that may have been supplied illegal items. Do you honestly trust your “friends” not to ‘fess up to save their own butts when faced with the very real threat of financial ruin or a prison sentence? We wouldn’t.

If you are one of those guys who brags to friends about your illegal movie, game or music collection and how you can get them anything they want – for free, now would be the time to stop this. If you are selling these items for a  “copy” fee, We hope for your sake that you are not already on the radar.

If you are running your business on illegal software, it is time to go legit.

The free lunch of illegal, pirated games, movies, software and music in South Africa appears to be over.

How to prevent a R40,000 (or more) mobile phone account

cellphone2Once again, a customer of ours  (a 71 year old man) “rang” up a cell phone account in excess of R 40,000. according to him, a Cell Phone company representative (a supposed “techie”) at one of their branches installed IOS 6.0 for his iPhone – a version that apparently had a glitch according to many web reports that ran up HUGE data usage accounts. Not only that, the consultant activated iCloud for him – not explaining the implications. As he soon ran into out-of-bundle rates, every time he took a photo or downloaded a song, or opened a mail containing a photo it cost him about R20 as he had multiple cloud services installed.

Thank goodness this incident occurred in South Africa or else this bill would have been 30x more – yes, it would have been a bill for R 2.4 million. This customer travels abroad on a regular basis, so this was completely possible.

Kondura Technologies CC advises that you exercise care when dealing with self-designated “expert” cell-phone friends as well as “experts” at cell phone shops or even so-called “authorized” cell-phone technicians.

The people are not necessarily experts because they happen to be in the store wearing the company logo. Many do not have any form of IT training and have no idea how a corporate Microsoft Exchange system works.

In addition, don’t ever allow cell-phone service provider “technicians” to come to your site or to work on any mail settings – without first speaking to your IT department /or IT service provider. We have had numerous incidents where a so-called “qualified” ISP technician tried to set up mail accounts on phones and they had absolutely no idea what they were doing or what the effect their settings have on the company network.

We have had several bad experiences with these people. Even something basic like installing Apple iTunes without understanding the implications of the profile already set up on the phone can result in mail corruption and services installed that incur excess data usages.

They over-write the exchange corporate settings on the phones and just wreak general havoc. Sadly this is more often the rule rather than the exception. Their simple call-out results in photo’s, mail accounts wiped and recommended “useful” apps installed that are not needed or do the same job as another app on the phone. For example – DropBox and iCloud and some gMail services all back up the same data.

Call an IT guy to do IT work. Cell phones are IT when used in a corporate environment.

cellphonesDISCLAIMER: We realize that part of the tone of this mail may be seen as a rant, but it frustrates us at how poor most cell-phone company service is. Not only that, it frustrates us when everyone claims to be an “IT expert” these days and when they do something that damages, loses data or incurs costs, they just shrug their shoulders, claim ignorance or blatantly lie – and our customer sits with the bill and we sit with fixing the damage. As an example, a computer company that lost three years of their customer’s (who we now service) work just said: “Sorry, I should’ve checked that. Live and Learn, hey? Hind-site is 20-20!”

We advise all customers contact their ISP (Vodacom, CellC, MTN, etc) with the following letter to limit and protect themselves from over-expenditure:

Firstly, do not allow your service provider to bully you when you request this. If they can monitor your usage, they can obviously set a “stop” on your account when it hits a certain limit. Don’t fall for the “We can’t do that” line.

Ironically, I e-mailed this request through twice (I made a spelling mistake) and got back TWO completely different responses. One consultant did it automatically – as I requested and as it should be.

A few minutes later, however, a different consultant demanded that I fill in a form for each individual number. If the consultant gives you a hard time after sending this letter, make a noise – a loud one – first, get their name and demand to get the e-mail for their PR department as well as the head of their corporate department. Contact them. Remain calm, but be forceful. Use e-mail to correspond. Keep track of all conversations. Take full names, contact numbers and job description of everyone you manage to get hold of. Don’t bother trying to phone – most cell companies have such poor service that you will be transferred from pillar to post. Wait for them to contact you via phone.

If you get no joy with e-mails – do this: Post on their official Facebook page – preferably make a comment under a link that has a few thousand comments already so that more people see your comment – You usually almost always get a response when you do this. There is no excuse for poor service. If you try to post it in the main page, it will usually get no exposure – post under a comment. Remain calm and don’t curse.

The letter below is a legal request. The onus is on them to do as you say, not to give you a hard time. They must do the necessary steps to fulfill your request. This is what service is all about. 

<SAMPLE LETTER START>

COMPANY NAME – as it appears on your cell-phone statement

VODACOM BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION vbs.admin@vodacom.co.za

Re:- Request to enable data bundle cap on all COMPANY NAME cell phone contracts

I, YOUR NAME, owner of COMPANY NAME, hereby request you to enable a “cap” on ALL of my data bundle services on ALL the cell phone and data contracts in my business name.

I do not wish to cancel my services, but once they have used up their allocated data bundles, I request that the data service temporarily be deactivated on that particular account until the following month to avoid any and all “out-of-bundle” costs. If there is no data bundle service active on a particular account, I request that ALL data access is disabled on that account. I do not ever want to be billed at “out of bundle” rates. Please ensure that I do not. The contracts I wish this done on currently include the following:

082 999 9999 <- Your number here – list more numbers / accounts if required on a separate line

In addition, please set a total account “spend” cap of R1,000 (including VAT) on the following accounts:

082 999 9999 <- Your number here.

Please see my South African identity document attached.

E & EO. Please feel free to contact us with any queries or to discuss any of the contents above.

Kind Regards,

>signature<

YOUR NAME <- You must be the person authorized to make changes to this account. COMPANY NAME

<END OF LETTER>

Additional Notes:

  1. Attach a copy of your Identity Document.
  2. We recommend that personal individuals can write this letter too – just remove the bits about the COMPANY name.
  3. This letter must appear on your company letterhead.
  4. Adjust the spend value to what suits you – remember that this includes phone calls and all services, so I recommend that you make the limit your average amount you pay for that account plus about 20% extra.
  5. I have used Vodacom’s details as a sample – if someone could post me the other ISP’s corporate service request numbers, this will be appreciated – info@kondura.co.za

Other Tips:

  1. Always switch off mobile data and data roaming capabilities when you travel abroad – only use WiFi when abroad. Ask your computer IT service provider for advice if you are unsure.
  2. Better still – buy a pay-as-you-go sim card with a new number to temporarily use when abroad
  3. Remember that when people phone you overseas, YOU pay for the call. It starts at R60.
  4. One megabyte in “out-of-bundle” rates is R2 in South Africa. It’s R60~R80 when overseas.
  5. Don’t ever allow anyone (like a ISP technician) to work on your notebook if it connects to a company network – there is no guarantee that they won’t infect it with a virus.
  6. The “latest” software update is not always the best thing. Most IT companies wait a few months to check on whether a “fix” is beneficial or not.
  7. Advise your IT company BEFORE you take your phone overseas.
  8. To avoid high cell phone accounts, ALWAYS choose contracts with a “per second” billing vs a “per minute” billing”

PLEASE SHARE THIS ARTICLE with anyone who owns a smartphone or any company that pays for their staff mobile accounts accounts that you may know.

P.R. Alert – more than one Kondura?

P.R. ALERT! All customers of Kondura Technologies CC, please be advised that we had attempts by individuals on a forum to associate us with a completely unrelated, different company that used to trade in Port Elizabeth called “Kondura Maintenance Services” aka “K.M.S.” and appears to no longer be in existence – a company that is/was involved with CCTV installations for casinos. This particular individual alleged that “we” were this company and have gone into liquidation and allegedly left bad debt for creditors in the Port Elizabeth area. This is obviously a case of mistaken identity. We cannot, at this time, confirm these allegations against this other company which we assume is a company trading as KMS. We are not sure, but we wish to confirm that our credit record is spotless.

Kondura Technologies CC and its members are not and  never have been associated with K.M.S in business in any form and the only association is having a similar name.

We believe the company, KMS, used to be a supplier and installer of CCTV equipment for casinos in the Eastern Cape. We had no association with them other than a legal dispute over our name rights. It must be noted that only a company with a license to install this equipment approved by the gambling board is permitted to install CCTV in casinos. Kondura Technologies CC does not and has never applied for or aquired this license.

Initially, we had a brief legal dispute with KMS that was handled amicably by a managing member of KMS with our company manager. They agreed to trade as KMS and and exclusively deal with CCTV’s for casinos and not attempt to enter our established markets. KMS is/was a completely different, unrelated company with (we believe) its head office still in Johannesburg.

Kondura Technologies CC has been in business for almost two decades and as our suppliers will confirm, have never had a bad debt or judgment against us or our members.

We realize that our customers know us better, but please feel free to check our credit rating with any of our suppliers through which we buy several million in hardware and software each year and have credit facilities:

Pinnacle Micro / Proline – over 15 years as a customer – 041 365 1088 – (manager – Vinessa)
Mustek / MECER Port Elizabeth – over 5 years as a customer – 041 397 8700 – (accounts – Jane)
Workgroup – over 13 years as a customer – 041 396 0110 – (manager- Stephnie)
Rectron – over 13 years as a customer – 041 398 7082 – (manager – Hanno)
Linkqage – over 15 years of association with their manager – 364 3363 (manager – Derek)

More references will gladly be provided on request.

Kondura Technologies CC Thu, 8 March 2012

Although the name “Kondura” was a completely an original, independantly inspired and generated name independant of outside sources, formulated by the very young (at the time) managing member of Kondura Technologies, it was later discovered to not be an original word – many years later with the power of the internet, it was discovered that the word “Kondura” is also the name of a very old Indian film which apparently refers to a young Indian man’s “awakening” in life.

When Social Media backfires

Adria_RichardsA valuable lesson can be learned from an incident that occurred over the last week for companies, employees and PR people regarding the inappropriate use of social media, abusing its power, and the perils of hiring an employee who is perhaps a vigilante promoting an agenda possibly inconsistent with your company focus. It displayed the very real dangers and liabilities of polarizing customers through the actions of one individual, a “Tech Evangelist“, through the misuse of twitter which erupted in a PR disaster and probably incurred huge financial losses to the company concerned.

I am not going to go into details of why I personal strongly disagree with how she went about what she did in this blog, but I will unfortunately need to give a bit of background on exactly “what” happened according to news on the internet to explain the ensuing chaos. In a nutshell, a woman, Ms Adria Richards, overheard a conversation behind her by two guys involving some sexual joking/innuendo of computer “dongles” at a tech conference. Face it, “dongle” is a funny word.

To be clear: the conversation was in no way directed at her. She merely overheard it (eavesdropped if I may assume), but she was “offended” by what she heard. What did Ms Richards do? Did she turn around and say: “Guys, I don’t think this is the appropriate place for those jokes and if you continue, I am going to report you to the conference organizers or your company!”

No, instead what she decides to do is to turn around and takes a snapshot of these two guys – and every innocent bystander behind her – and sits down. Then she tweets the picture to her twitter account publicly “asking for assistance” from PyCon, the event/tech conference organizers. Why she assumed that the 9,000+ followers of hers would be interested in this or why she, as a supposed tech guru would think this was appropriate to publicly shame people like this on such a mass scale, I have no idea. I always assumed most of our society’s justice systems involved a “verbal warning” followed by more punitive, slowly escalating degrees of disciplinary action, not a public execution “right off the bat”.

HER TWEET: “Not cool. Jokes about forking repo’s in a sexual way and “big” dongles. Right behind me #PyCon”

Guys_at_Python_Adria_Richards

image deliberately blurred out to protect the bystanders

Note that there are several people “behind” her. This tweet is possibly defamatory to not only the two individuals she was trying to single out, but every visible face in the photograph. I certainly wouldn’t want my face in this picture.  I really wouldn’t want to be associated with it.

The conference organizers reacted immediately. They pulled the guys aside. The guys apologized. They were eventually asked to leave the conference. The fact that they apologized seems to point to the fact that they probably would have shut up if she had confronted them directly and this would have been the end of this whole messy situation.

Shortly after this incident, PyCon amended their Codes of Conduct to include this clause: “Note: Public shaming can be counter-productive to building a strong community. PyCon does not condone nor participate in such actions out of respect.”

It most certainly appears they were not happy with the manner in which she handled this either. It is quite common on most public forums for “naming and shaming” to be frowned upon, so once again, I question why a woman with her experience didn’t handle this situation more conservatively.

But, sadly, it doesn’t end there. One of the guys she photographed was fired from his job, apparently a father of three. The news of him being fired and posts about how Adria Richards’ actions were a catalyst (many threads/posts started appearing with headings like: “Adria Richards gets two guys fired for nothing” or “two guys fired for dick jokes”) appear on a hacker, forum news and blog sites.

On one particular forum, a user by the name of “MrHank” identifies himself as one the men and explains that although he made a dongle joke, the other bit about “forking a repo” was a form of flattery and Ms Richards misunderstood entirely when they said they would like to “fork that guys repo”. For those that don’t know “Forking a repository” is a technical programming term for “copying someone else’s work” and we all know the adage that “imitation is the highest form of flattery”. He apologized again to her on the forums for the dongle joke, but expressed that he wished she had told him he was making her uncomfortable.

Ms Richards commented that she was sorry he was fired, but was not content to leave it there, she tells him on the forum that she has blogged about it and even links her blog.  After personally reading the blog, I must say it’s a case of the old adage of “a man hitting rock bottom and then proceeding to dig”.

Her blog is in my personal opinion a rant of a woman with an apparent feminist agenda (despite her claiming to the contrary) where she attempts to explain her action away as a some sort of fighter / defender of the weak for all the apparently oppressed women that had to be subjected to hearing similar “dick” jokes at previous conferences. In one tweet, she even compares herself to “Joan of Arc”. Her apparent delusions of grandeur and self importance are scattered throughout the article and it is pretty apparent she thinks she’s some sort of misguided saviour when she even ends the article with: “Yesterday the future of programming was on the line and I made myself heard.” – a bit grandiose, no?

Social Networking turns against her with a brutal vengeance. The situation goes viral. People start digging up everything on her past history, past tweets of her clearly showing how she made exactly the same type of jokes, some that same weekend and calling her a hypocrite with double-standards, details and past posts of alleged racist comments and man-hating comments emerge. A past associate blogs about how they “never liked her” as she was too volatile. Every part of her character and personal life was made public with one person declaring how callous she was by giving up her cat, Turtle, of 18 years away as she didn’t want to pay the security deposit for her new apartment  Violent threats, rape and death threats come from all over the world. Her Facebook, Twitter accounts go silent. Many of the comments were vile, despicable and hateful.

Some of the harshest comments I read, ironically, were from women. In my opinion, from my observation of the whole drama as it unfolded, the overwhelming majority of people were against her actions, but obviously didn’t condone violence. Unfortunately, extremists do pop out the woodwork wherever there is a volatile situation ~ like sharks in a blood feeding frenzy.

We_are_legion_AnonymousThe hacker group, Anonymous, allegedly got involved and SendGrid, her employer became a victim of a Denial of Service attack. Their business services were interrupted. Their servers were crippled.

The internet turned against Ms Richards. Many, including (allegedly) Anonymous demanded she be fired.

A few hours later, she was fired – as it was stated on SendGrid’s Twitter and Facebook feeds that her services were terminated. Shortly after this news, the Facebook “likes” on this comment went over 2,000 and the discussion and hatred towards Ms Richards in the ensuing comments makes it doubtful whether she has any future in Public Relations. She certainly has polarized the community towards her and incited much anger. The SendGrid CEO wrote a clear concise article with their reasons for dismissing her. No matter what SendGrid did, they have been damaged by this incident. Perhaps part of the reason she was fired was a desperate attempt to get the hackers off their back to allow their servers to start working again. Who knows?

It’s sad that two people lost their jobs and all of this could have been avoided if Ms Richards had merely done the sensible thing and confronted the men that apparently upset her so. In my opinion, her actions were the catalyst for her own destruction.

The lesson for a company using social media? If you’re a company and wish to have someone in charge of your social media, make sure that their Facebook history, their blogs are not a liability to your business. Make sure that they are not too impulsive when handling potentially volatile situations. Make sure their personal agendas are not a threat to your business. Perhaps put a clause in their job contract that if their personal comments on twitter negatively affect your business, they may be dismissed or reprimanded. While I personally feel equality in the workforce is important, I certainly wouldn’t want to polarize customers by an individual with their own agenda.

The lesson for employees? Another example: a few weeks ago, I posted on my Facebook wall that I generally Google and use Facebook to assess prospective candidates for positions. One individual had a photo publicly displayed of her apparently popping ecstasy tablets. It may not have been “e”, but by all accounts, it appeared to be and appearances are all that matter in this case. Certainly, the other photos on her Facebook page photos indicated the same event was attended by some seriously inebriated individuals. Many employers have their HR department scan social media sites prior to interviews. Be careful what you post. If you have a personal blog, make sure it does not conflict with the interests of your company. Temper your comments. One silly mistake may ruin your career.

I guess Ms Richards was partly right about one thing – she is a bit like Joan of Arc – she got burnt too.

Related blogs, links (warning – some explicit content):

Adria Richards, PyCon, and How We All Lost – One of the best articles from a work aquaintance

Was It Appropriate For Adria Richards To Tweet A Photo – a cool-headed legal perspective

Adria Richards, a picture chart – The Dilbert Comic is disturbingly prophetic of this event.

Other thoughts:

“Technology Evangelist” ~ It’s an interesting job description that I had never heard of before, but I suppose it is an appropriate term if you’re trying to convert a customer from one way of technology thinking to another, but I digress.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in the blog are the personal opinions of the author, Craven Coetzee. 

Ms Richard’s photograph obtained from Facebook – which is publicly accessible all over the internet – and used merely for illustrative purposes.

I wish all parties the best for the future and hope that they have take something away from this and learned from their mistakes.