Tech disaster

It’s not been a good day for the computers in our house. My laptop is playing up again, despite the best efforts of clever individuals, and the power supply on the kids’ desktop (which my dodgy laptop replaced) gave up the ghost halfway through an important game of Minecraft or some such. (Do you get ghosts in Minecraft?)

With the holidays around the corner, we’re going to have to move quickly to find a fix (or 2), both because everyone stops working soon, and also because I’m sure that there’s plenty more Minecraft to be played once school’s out for summer.

I was going to share a picture of Yoshi, the Aquarium’s 187kg, soon to be released turtle, whose goodbye event we went to yesterday. But with limited connectivity, the photos from yesterday are firmly ensconced on the hard drive and – once again – I’m writing this on my phone. Even with SwiftKey, that’s a shlep, so please excuse my brevity.

More tomorrow? Ag, who knows?

Tired now

An early start for a members only event at the Aquarium, then a quick visit to the Volvo Ocean Race Village, then up to the Noon Gun, then to the pet shop to get a new bed for the beagle, then move a couch 2km down the road, then braai into the evening.

It’s been a great day, but I’m tired now.

Hits

I’m not one of those bloggers who desperately chases hits. Of course, it’s nice to have people read my stuff and I have a daily number that I like to get to (and which is a very modest number, so I usually do), but should I fall short, it’s really not the end of the world.
If I was one of those bloggers who chased hits, I would have given up years ago. It’s simply not working.

I am one of those bloggers who like stats though, and so when I stumbled upon a plugin which offered me my all-time stats, I was never going to say no. So I said yes.

I’m not really sure what “all-time” entails. I know for a fact that it can’t include the early years of ballacorkish.net and 6000 miles… because I wasn’t even using that software back then (also, the numbers really don’t match up). So there’s no indication of how long this is over, which would be helpful. But let’s not get antsy over what is, after all, a free bit of software.

What was most interesting for me was the map. How cool is it that people all over the world have read my blog? Well, I say “all over the world”, but I haven’t reached everyone yet. Because, despite there being absolutely loads of visits to the blog, I am apparently yet to have a documented hit from any of these ten nations, listed in order of population:

North Korea – 25.537m (well, ok)
Niger – 20.671m (infamously mentioned here)
Chad – 14.450m (disappointing from my African brothers)
Turkmenistan – 5.662m (flag with a carpet on; amazing.)
Guinea Bissau – 1.821m (see Chad)
Solomon Islands –0.599m (hey! 600,000 readers can’t be wrong, guys)
Western Sahara – 0.513m (excuse: political upheaval/no internet)
Greenland – 0.056m (2.166 million km² of potential readership)
Falkland Islands – 0.003m (I’m actually surprised at this)
Svalbard – 0.003m (despite constant mentions of Norway on here)

The first visitor from each of these countries/territories will add their homeland to this list of places who have visited 6000 miles… just once:

Iran
Sierra Leone
French Polynesia
Martinique
American Samoa
Tajikistan
Djibouti
Togo
Bhutan
San Marino
Tonga
Benin
St. Martin
Cape Verde

Some impressive French overseas territory representation there. Bonsoir, Rodney. Bonsoir! 

I’m not really sure why I’m sharing this, save to ask that if you are going to any of these places in the near future (North Korea – lol), a quick visit to 6000.co.za would be much appreciated. I’ll also be doing my bit to lever few mentions of outstanding counties into my posts over the next few weeks in a shameless attempt to dominate the globe.

Black Friday at 6000 miles…

South Africa has been completely taken over by Black Friday. More so this year than all the other years, as Americreep continues to insidiously envelope the entire world, bit by bit.
Next year, we’re going to do Thanksgiving as well. Turkeys.

Probably.

I’ve ignored the phenomenon completely, save for marvelling at all the camera lenses I (still) can’t afford at Orms. They’ve knocked a bit off a lot of nice stuff, but as with a lot of SA retailers, there are none of the HUGE discounts which are the norm in the USA today.

I’m here to remedy that, with an incredible 6000 MILES… BLACK FRIDAY DEAL for my regular readers. And also for everyone else.

In a moment of madness, I have decided to give you all up to 90% (Ninety Per Cent) off your 6000 miles… read today. Forget the 10% that [a jewellery store] is willing to discount your necklace. Roll your eyes at the 50% that [a well-known supermarket] is giving you off your instant coffee (limit of 6 per customer). And laugh loudly and falsely right in the face of [the online retailer] whose site isn’t even working.

lol wut? Remind me how your business works again? (aside from repeatedly breaking promises on delivery times)

Anyway, enough of taking the piss out of the opposition. I am offering ALL POSTS on 6000 miles… for an incredible NINE TENTHS OFF for TODAY ONLY!!

To take advantage of this amazing offer, simply read ANY POSTS on the site between the hours of 12 midnight this morning and… er… 12 midnight this evening, and pay JUST 10% of the usual fee of R0 (£0, $0). You will not find a better discocunt anywhere today.

Remember: IT’S JUST FOR TODAY: BLACK FRIDAY!!! BUY! BUY! BUY!

bye bye

Some thoughts on Uber in Cape Town

Hello guys. Hello gals.

I have a problem with Uber in the Mother City.

Let me first set the scene. Some background, if you will.
I think Uber is a great idea. In a country where we still have yet to cross the hugely important barrier of drinking and driving becoming socially unacceptable, any alternative means of getting oneself home after a night out is not only welcome, it’s vitally important.

And Uber is easy to use. It’s there when you need it, you don’t need to have cash on you, you press a couple of buttons and you’re sorted for your journey. When it first arrived, it felt like the future. In some ways, it still does.

There have been problems. Implementing a business model which was devised for the heady, First World streets of San Francisco and New York into South Africa hasn’t always been straightforward. But I’ve spoken to a huge number of drivers who have had their lives changed for the better by working for Uber here in Cape Town. The flexibility around working hours, the opportunity of income that they wouldn’t otherwise have had and the ease of becoming a driver, with no specific skills or education required, are all things that most cite as benefits of working in this system. And of course, it’s hard work and everyone along the line needs to take their cut, but no driver has ever told me that he wished he didn’t work (or have to work) for Uber. The overriding sentiment is positive.

But I’ve noticed a concerning change in the standard of my Uber drivers recently. More and more often, I’m getting drivers that are simply not very good at driving, that are new to the area and that don’t inspire any confidence in getting you to the end of your journey safely. And that’s not good.

Take last night. Dinner out in Woodstock, with an early start. Uber booked, arrived on time, but then missed the turn into our driveway because he was looking at his phone instead of looking at us frantically waving at him, and then almost took out two other vehicles in trying to pull over to get to us.

Despite us helping with directions, the journey was uncomfortable. Too much time staring at the phone next to the handbrake, excessive acceleration followed by excessive braking – like a learner driver – and the moment where he thought that he’d taken a wrong turn and decided that trying to stop in the fast lane of Hospital Bend was a good thing to do while he sorted things out. I thought we were going to die.  He claimed that he’d never driven on Hospital Bend – weird for a driver in Cape Town, but ok – but given the fact that it’s quite clearly a five-lane-each-way highway with traffic travelling at 80kph, there’s really no excuse for even considering stopping there, especially with two passengers frantically telling you to please keep driving before the rest of the N2 ended up right up our arses.

I (briefly) found religion. And it clearly paid off, because we got to the restaurant physically unscarthed, but mentally scarred.

But this scenario is becoming more and more common. I’m seeing more and more inexperienced drivers – not just inexperienced in working for Uber, or in driving in Cape Town – but inexperienced in actually driving.

As if further proof was required, we didn’t even get into our second Uber last night, because he crashed into a moped on the 60 second journey to pick us up from the restaurant. According to witnesses, it wasn’t the fault of the moped. Just saying.

Our replacement driver was a local guy, who claimed to know the roads, but took us via some bizarre route home against the wishes of the GPS “because it avoided the traffic lights on the M3”. The fact that we live a couple of hundred metres off the M3, we ended up going through 6 sets of robots instead of 3 and we got stuck at a level crossing we should never have been anywhere near seemed to escape him. He was a nice guy, he was a confident driver, but he ripped us off by (deliberately) taking a illogical longer route.

I didn’t think we were going to crash at any moment though.
Which was nice.

So I was unimpressed with all three of our drivers last night. The longer route thing pisses me off (and I told him so), but it’s the continuing theme of limited driving ability which I find far more concerning. I’ve seen people saying that this is a purely Cape Town-based problem with Uber, but I can’t comment, having limited experience of using the service in other SA cities.

Has this been your experience too? And with seemingly so many more “learner” drivers around, how do you avoid getting one on your next Uber trip? I’d love to know.