Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I found a very interesting crime site through my friend Erica Marks. It is a cime alert site where you can get emails notifying you of any crime that has been happening in your community. You just need to include your email address and address. As much as my last blog was being about people watching you..... you also need to watch people :).
FIGHT CRIME :) Together...... got to

Monday, August 23, 2010

They are Watching You - Advances in the GPS

I had the pleasure of attending the GISSA meeting in Johannesburg on Friday 20 August and I thought I would share with you the advances in GIS and mapping communities because it was pretty shocking. If you are thinking about getting a GPS read this.

Danny Grobben (TeleAtlas) began the seminar with a talk about using the navigation community to build and maintain digital maps. TeleAtlas creates the maps that we see on a TomTom (GPS) but what fascinated me was how we, the TomTom users, contribute to the updating of these maps simply by connecting your GPS to the network and loading our comments. Such as “N1 now only has one lane” or “This road is now a one way road,” all these comments get verified and if correct all the other tomtom maps get updated. Our routes also get monitored so the head office actually knows if roads are active just by how many routes travel on that road. Who would have thought that we could actually help with the accuracy of the GPS maps just by driving to our regular destinations?

Our community contributions don’t end there, we also contribute to the Traffic updates that are loaded every 3 minutes on all the TomTom’s (the ones that have traffic alert layer). HOW? Well TeleAtlas is actually working with TRACKER and traffic alert companies to collect the most up-to-date traffic information. So on your GPS you will now know where the actual traffic back logs are happening and how long it will take to reach your destination. Your GPS will then provide you with another route which would be quicker. The data they have collected for the re-routing was obtained from TAXI drivers who travelled with GPS’s. So your GPS is as smart and as quick as a TAXI driver when it comes to re-routing. I don’t know about you guys but this makes me want a GPS. This would mean I wouldn’t have to call Ronaldo to find out how traffic is….or wait till the radio tells me there is a back log on the N1. You will also get crime alerts on the GPS, so now when I drive by Deipsloot I will be reminded to lock my doors. So are you thinking of getting a GPS? Read on.

The next presentation was by Geoff Green form Precinct Web. I was very impressed with Geoffs presentation on how you can set up a community base mapping project in support of disaster and crime management in Johannesburg. This could be done simply by mapping crime using an open source mapping system and Google maps. Crime clusters, plotted on a map, lead the police to find exactly how the criminals where getting into certain enclosed communities. In one case a storm water channel that went underground for several kilometres lead the police to where the actual problem was – poor communities in Alexandra. After this presentation I got inspired to set up my own community crime mapping site.

The following presentation brought us back to the GPS and the future use of this device. Etienne Louw from MapIT talked about Digital mapping, entering into a new phase. He was talking 3D GPS’s with real life views of where you are going and what the buildings look like. Further more he discussed use of GPS’s for advertising, where companies put in there locations and their specials on the GPS’s. So you could be driving to work (SEF) and “Knowledge Commons, Restaurant” will show up on your GPS as having a “Breakfast special for R29.” Now how MapIt makes money would be by the amount of people they bring to Knowledge Commons doorstep …..coz remember YOU ARE BEING TRACKED, so MapIt will know exactly where you are driving to and will get a certain amount of money for all those who drive to Knowledge Commons. Still want a GPS?

I thought the advertising was petty innovative but it really got me thinking about my level of privacy. Etienne did address this issue and said you are actually asked before you by your GPS unit whether you want to be tracked…..but I am sure they would put it in a more friendly way like “Would you want to contribute to the community mapping project? Yes/No” and knowing some of us we wouldn’t even think about saying no…. We would be so excited about the new GPS unit with Traffic and crime alerts, with a bonus advertising layer for your special restaurants and shops, ……such that we would tick all YES, YES, YES. But by doing so we are giving our Privacy away. Did you know that with the new I-phone you are actually asked if you want to share your photos with i-phone?????? To me that is just crazy no wonder famous people all of a sudden have scandalous pictures show up out of no where. For all you know they could have been taking photos of themselves on their new i-phone but ticked YES for sharing photos.

There was talk also on mapping social networks so instead of going on facebook you will have a social map which would show where all your friends are in the world – in real time. That would for sure encourage us to keep updating our facebook location….or else you would have someone writing on your facebook wall….”Yoooo are you still in India?” But that brings me back to the issue of Privacy. Maybe I would want to be in India but with only my close friends knowing and not my 578 facebook friends. What if I had a stalker on facebook? What about those undercover rapists that have been using facebook to locate victims? This social network map would be like Candy to a kid for them.

The whole conference really got me thinking about the life we are living in and the life we are going to be living in. I loved that GIS was advancing so much and I was in the “know how” of it but I really did get concerned about the future privacy levels. I was baffled when Etienne said at the end of his presentation something along the lines of “It is already written in the book of Revelations so you might as well buy into it now!” Brrrrrr I started to re-think my purchase of a GPS unit.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The A-Team Premier

Date: 12th August 2010
Location: Nu Metro cinema complex at Montecasino, JHB,
Highlights: Two members of the A-Team crew: Mad Murdoch played by Sharlto Copley (from District 9) and Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson(from Ultimate Fighting Championship UFC Title Holder).

Being invited to the A-team Premier was just the right medicine I needed for my very sick day last week Thursday. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get up close and personal with the rich and famous. Going to events like these is like going to the Zoo for me. I observe every they interact with each other, moved, talked or eat.

I got waves of nerves when we arrived at the venue and saw a huge red carpet crowded around with people. I was here to observe…not to be observed. But I daydreamed about walking on it. There we would be Avon and I holding hands pretending to be famous and walking with such confidence. The next thing you know a random reporter would whisper to the next “Um who are they?” other reporter: “Maybe they are in the movie too”…..Since no one had watched the movie yet everyone would just start taking photos just because the majority were doing it. I could just see myself waving gracefully …ha ha ha ha. Then I would walk up to a random person and sign their note pad as if they wanted my autograph. Qwa Qwa Qwa.

My daydream ended abruptly when we got handed our PRESS PASSES and then got scurried around the back of the crowds towards the stage. Well I guess a press pass is better than nothing. By this time Sharlto Copley who was playing Captain Murdok and Quinton who was playing Mr T were now on stage chatting about the movie. We were not in a great position to take pictures. But all I could think about was if I didn’t get a picture no one would understand my experience. Plus I had to earn my PRESS PASS.. you know what I mean. (Just working on them acting skills)

The A-Team movie was packed with action. But I must admit the fact that we had actually just seen the characters before we got into the movies made the movie even more ‘real.’ There was loads and loads of action, with a hint of romance and comedy, which is just the kind of movie I can sit through.

What really made my night was the premier after party. There were cameras and lights everywhere; waiters were walking around with free food and drinks. Avon and I were approached by a TV crew asking if we would like to share our views. I didn’t even know who they were filming for but I was so in. THIS WAS MY MOMENT. I was going to have a say on TV, a voice or a smile or something, who cares for WHAT J. The interview was going fine till they started asking me specific questions like “What did you think about Sharlto Copley!” You can’t do that to a dyslexic chick …names and me don’t mix. As soon as you ask me a name of someone I don’t know personally you can forget me relating to that question!” Unless he was Nelson Mandela, Mugabe, Oliver Mutukuzi. These are brothers I know. Sharlto rings no bell to my brain…maybe VICUS would but SHARLTO. I haven’t called him, watched him (WHEN HIS NAME IS CALLED SHARLTO). Maybe if I had watched him on a TV interview where a guy would say “Tonight we have Sharlto Copley in studio” Then he would walk in and only then would my brain click “ Hey ain’t that the guy from District 9….VICUS” But nooooooooo…… I have never had a moment like that.
So I smiled and gave a gentle turn to Avon with a look like “Baby you answer the question!” and AVON SAVED THE NIGHT J.

When I actually did meet Sharlto Copley for a picture, I wrapped my hand around his back and just thought damb if only he knew I didn’t know his name 5 minutes ago. I felt sooo bad. I mean I was like the reporter in my daydream…..the one that took pictures of others just because everyone else was taking pictures. That felt terrible. I watched him as he signed autographs and thought gosh was this what it was like being famous. I mean the interactions between him and the fans were not anything to write home about. How would I feel if everyone were to be handing me pieces of cardboard just for me to put a little scribble? Don’t get me wrong … the guy was very friendly and so down to earth. It all just made me wonder how would he feel when he gets to his hotel room having met thousands of people but having not connected really with anyone of them. Did it really matter?

When I met Mr T I was so nervous. He was just so massive and yet so soft spoken. He knew Avon form the interviews before the show so he was cool to get a picture with us. Man I love my Husbands job J.

The whole experience made me think about being an actress/actor. The industry felt so near when you stood with the actors, yet at the same time so far when you watch the movies. I am sure that the fact that Sharlto Copley is South African made the dream “to be big” feel possible for many of us. But where is the substance in such an industry???? Do we really appreciate famous people for their accomplishments or is it because everyone knows them so we should know them? I really wonder sometimes.
Stay tuned for more adventures

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Caribana Tribute

As it was Caribana WEEEKEND the first weekend of August, I just couldn’t resist writing a reminiscing blog about my experiences at such a festival. For those of you who are not familiar with Caribana it is the Caribean festival of Toronto and it only happens once a year. It is MASSIVE it is HUGE. All the hotels are booked out and everyone with a sense of adventure and the spirit of fun flocks to Caribana. It is officially Toronto’s biggest money making weekend.

Now I got introduced to Caribana in my first year of living in Canada, which is thanks to my wonderful friend Camille, who I had met during frosh week. Camille and I always laugh at how we met because we were the only black girls in the Environmental Studies department….Now remember there is no such thing as coloreds that side of the world, I was light skinned black, maybe Milado also known as 0.5s (Half breeds). It would have been strange if we didn’t talk or befriend each other….COZ we both knew we were the minority in the department…. and it was hard not to spot one another out from the crowd. I remember staring at her and wondering ….which part of Africa could she be from. Her features were very unique her face was round and her body wasn’t typical African. …well the African I knew. ..which was small waist and large hips. Anyways it turned out that Camille was from no where even near Africa, but came from Trinidad an island in the Caribbean, which I had never heard of (at that point in my life)….but ended up learning so much about culture.
Camille was the seed planter of my wannabe Caribbean persona. She introduced me to Soca music and got me loving slow reggae. It was like a culture I had never heard of that played music with a rhythm that moved much faster than Kwasa-Kwasa. When she invited me to Caribana I could not say NO. Even though I was warned about how bad such a carnival parade was. People had been shot in past years. But my thought was what is the worst that can happen to us because we were a group of over 15 girls. Plus my new sense of adventure to experience such a parade was burning deep inside me.
Camille introduced me to a whole other range of friendships with these 15 girls. I called them my Caribana Girls! These were all Camille’s sisters friends. Almost Every year they would meet up strictly to celebrate Caribana. The friendships didn’t run deep but we knew enough about each other to enjoy each others company. Together we were such a mix of girls with different looks and personalities. There was Daniel (Camille’s sister) who was daring and loud with these captivating eyes, to Layel who was Persian sweet tall and slender with long flowing locks, Nancy who was from Egypt short with curly hair that could look like an afro if she wanted it, to Ruth chocolate skin colour with a wonderful smile. That was just to name a few…but you get the gist of the group.. I was always the rookie …the newbe girl. Although most of you know me as being pretty loud….with these girls I wasn’t much. I remember Camille telling me that the girls were worried about her brining me…. Thinking what if she doesn’t like to dance…party pooper or a complainer. Mainly because this type of a weekend wasn’t the time to be stuck up.

So our typical Caribana weekend would involve all of us 15 girls sleeping in 2-3 hotel rooms. The plan was you were not going to be doing much sleeping. I would feel bad for any person that stayed next door to us because our rooms were always up late and full of music. Friday nights involved walking down Young Street. That was all that needed to be happening. Anyone who was anyone would be walking down this long street…..just walking and checking people out …or being checked out. That was it. We always had a theme for our group…Friday nights would be White T shirts and Jeans. During the parade would be a costume or colour theme.
It may have sounded childish (dressing the same) but it actually felt really good when you are all dressed in one colour. … It would be harder to loose someone and you always felt part of a family. It was always funny when guys would shout in an attempt to get our attention “yo yo, girls in pink” …and no one would turn…then they would try to pick out some feature “yo, you Alicia keys...” which would be any girl in the pink with the Alicia keys hair style. But none one would ever be interested.. It was like an unsaid rule that this was a girls weekend not a Pick up boys weekend. We would probably tease guys every now and again…sometimes it would be actually funny coz some of the girls would actually embarrass guys. I guess coz the harassment that would go on would actually be irritating.
The Parade its self is CRAZY Hot. It is full of loud music and millions of colourful costumes and masks. What I love most is that generally everyone is out to have a good time. The weather would be at its best during this weekend and in Canada when it is even the slightest bit warm you are bound to see lots of skin. Its like you might as well go extreme because it only happens a few days of the year. Even I have the shortest of shorts…just doesn’t feel right wearing them this side of the world. I look back at some of my pictures and think Wow how in the world did I wear that with out feeling revealing. But because everyone is dressed up it doesn’t feel revealing… My first caribana I probably had the most covered but it got less and less as the years went by. By 2008 I was actually in a Caribana costume. Wearing that costume made me feel as if I was born in Trinidad. I would even pretend like I was from there… but my accent was useless.