Cocaine parties organised via MXit

This is one of the most shocking applications I’ve yet come across for using MXit. Then again there is no surprises here because kids will find new and innovative ways to use technology to achieve their goals, good or bad. And this is a drug problem NOT a MXit problem. It existed before MXit or cellphones were invented. The root cause must be treated not the symptoms…Ramon

Drug abuse soars at high schools in Bay….

HIGH-school girls in Port Elizabeth are organising “cocaine parties” via their cellphones in a new trend that experts say is indicative of the dramatic increase in drug abuse at high schools in the city.

Gerrie Cronje, chief executive of Shepherd‘s Field Kibbutz – a privately run drug rehabilitation centre on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth – said he had recently been made aware of at least 20 girls, the majority of whom were from high schools in the city, who were organising “cocaine parties” through a cellphone chat function called MXit.

“One of the children we are treating has told us the parties are apparently hosted at different venues, pre- arranged through MXit, with cocaine readily available,” he said.

Read the full article on the Eastern Cape Herald’s website here.


cheaper Broadband for Academics

Treveor Manuel has announced a new initiative to offer cheaper broadband to Academics to facilitate and foster research. This is really something which government has been slow to address. Broadband should be available at discounted rates to students and especially for postgraduagte students. When they are not on campus they have to access the Internet using their own resources. Just today as Honours student came to our offices to discuss some part time research and writing work. However, he access the internet using a dial-up. And this is horribly slow. To really be productive as researchers we need the fastest possible connections. And it is our opinion that a special network is unecessary. The better approach is to offer subsidy to registered postgraduate students at all universities. Say for example a 50% discount on the ADSL or other broadband offering would be a tremendous step in the right direction. And even if these students are part-time like the typical MBA student or a studying through UNISA the same rules should apply.

Anyway here’s a story about the government’s steps toward cheaper broadband for Academics.


Bill Gates gives high school learners 11 rules to live by

Love him or hate him, he sure hits the nail on the head with this! To anyone with kids of any age, here’s some advice.

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings, created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

  • Rule 1 : Life is not fair – get used to it!
  • Rule 2 : The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
  • Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
  • Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
  • Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
  • Rule 6 : If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
  • Rule 7 : Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
  • Rule 8 : Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
  • Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
  • Rule 10 : Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
  • Rule 11 : Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

I don’t know if this is true because it was forwarded to me like most of these email chain letters or jokes. Most of these resonate with me so I’m republishing them anyway. And you may also be interested in watching this excellent hour long interview with Bill Gates on the Charlie Rose show on Google Video here:


How to identify good and bad role models for men

There is a debate that crops up every now and then, trying to explain the behaviour of human beings. It’s called the nature vs nurture debate and speaks about how our overall behaviour patterns is determined by our genes (nature) or how we are raised by our parents (nurture). It’s clear that both play a role but more and more of my own thinking is leaning toward nurture in a big way, especially when you consider the revolutionary work on the Biology of Belief by Dr Bruce Lipton.

The short answer is not to be devided in your thinking and you being. Your message must be clear, must be short and when in doubt show the opposite to be wrong and ergo makes your message right. Remember we live in a world of duality. For every wrong there is always a right, for every bad there’s always a good, for every forward there’s always a backward.

Just a short overview of two movies that demonstrate the right and the wrong way to approach your life as a man:

The Groomsmen Edward Burns

  1. The Groomsmen: A film written, directed and starred in by Edward Burns. I liked most of his previous films because they seemed real and down to earth. However, after this one I realised how he often plays the most self-pittying characters. In many ways he symbolises what is wrong with the modern man. And as Tom Leykis and comedian George Carlin calls the continued pussification of America (and the rest of the world). And in this particular movie he is so distracted and divided in himself. He can’t decide to get married or not to get married. His girlfriend is pregnant and he feels like he needs to do the right thing. This is the worst roll model I’ve seen on screen in a long while for what a confident, mature man needs to be like. Women will likely enjoy this move more because of the cliche “happy ending.”
  2. Thank You For Smoking starring Aaron Eckhart and Katie Holmes

  3. Thank You For Smoking: Aaron Eckhart in this satire is a real powerhouse because he is so raw and so authentic it feels like a slap in the face for a wake-up call. As a tabacco lobbyist he has one of the most notorious jobs in the world. Trying to spin the research, the complaints, the victims, the media, and still come out on top. There’s a great rapport between him and his son (who also featured in Nicole Kidman’s Birth). Nick Naylor, the main character is cunnning lingust and more so a superb spokesman, cool, calm, collected and knows how to duck and dive the questions, giving answers or responses in a way that focussed the audience on what’s wrong with the person trying to debate with him. And he’s always able to turn things around to fit his worldview. In the seduction community this would be called having a strong frame. The only way to survive and thrive is by having a stronger frame then the other people around you.

So the secret to success for a man is not being divided. People are easily swayed by opinions of others. And you must stand your ground and believe yourself first before you expect other people to believe in you.


John Farquhar speaks out on future of Newspapers

John FarquharI received this response from John Farquhar after I emailed him about Duncan McLeod in Financial Mail’s column Newspapers R.I.P.
Thanks for the link to Mcleods column There are two kind of people in business. Those who live in the real world and those who fantasise about tomorrow’s where the old will be replaced by the new. As a Sci-Fi fan I was always fascinated by the gadgets the writers dreamt up, and looking back many of their imaginary gadgets have become reality. While there is nothing wrong about speculating about the future one must also balance it with realism. The problem with Mcleod thinking is that he is fascinated by the technological advances of more advanced societies and sees them taking over the world. But the technological train he spots in the distance may pass our society or take a long time getting here. While I keep myself informed of technological developments abroad I am also a realist when it comes to their application in this country. Much of the technological development that is happening in the U.S. and Europe will take an awful long time for it to be replicated in South Africa to the same depth. Sure there will be niche groups that have that hankering to be seen to be up to speed with their peers in the U.S. and will sport the latest gadgets but they are few. For the majority all this technology is fantasy. To make a statement that technology with replace print is stretching the envelope somewhat. Reading long screeds on the Web is physically tiring. It is far easier and more relaxing to read a book. If you are a news nut and wanting to keep your fingers on the pulse of what is happening out there, then technology is a must because it will give you the headlines. Your cellphone for example would be ideal. But if you want the in-depth story reading it on your cellphone or the web to put it bluntly is a pain in the arse. It is more conducive to read it in the print format. But there very few information nuts out there who get withdrawal systems if they don’t get the news the minute it happens.

Ordinary folk don’t think that way. They are not instant news nuts. If you are one never judge the populace by your behaviour.
Now what is the reality of South Africa. We have a small group of people who have a complex about being on a par with their peers abroad and make a point of being up there with the latest. The majority in our population don’t think beyond their neighbourhood. They have radios and TV and listen to the news, but if their interest is to get the full story they will get it from print.

You must not judge behaviour by the youth. New gadgets fascinate them. Cellphone chatter and sms for example. But this falls away when they move into the adult world where they have to work to make a living, and their free time is limited. For the Internet to have the same impact it has in the U.S. and Europe where household penetration has passed 50% it will have to get to the same level here. Once again judging the South African population and social structure I will venture to say that it is a long long way off. Mcleod was writing for the Financial Mail’s audience which incidentally is very small. The magazine only sells 35 000 copies an issue. Technology is important to these people because they are traders when ‘Now’ information is important to their business. But for him say that paper is doomed is nonsense. The average company consumes forests of paper in the business. Why because the working class uses paper. It is only the executives who have the gadgets. One must view technology in its proper perspective and in relation to the society you are talking About. South Africa is a long way off a paperless society. For your information that latest sales figures for magazines in the U.S. show increases.


Radio interviews as Valentine’s Day approaches

Last night I did a half hour long interview on SAFM with Lynette Francis. We discussed online dating, speed dating and sms dating. Trying to get people into the mood for Valentine’s Day. My friend Jenny Cereseto from SMARTdate was the only caller and made a good case for speed dating over online dating. My personal opinion is that most of the people using any of these services have some low self-esteem issues. The reason is simple: people who are confident, social and humourous personalities do not need these websites because they are meeting people all the time. And people want to meet them because of those core personality traits which make them stand-out from the rest. So in my personal plans to improve my dating life I’ve used all these dating services but I found the best results has been when I developed my competence with women, my social skills and my sense of humour.

Tomorrow night, Valentine’s Day I’ve been invited back onto Goodhope FM with Dr Eve on her weekly show. Its a pity I will not be in studio because I’ve wanted to meet Natalie Becker, who replaced Jeannie D, for a long time. As another dating guru once said its not about me and my life, its about spreading the good news.


Teens turn to technology for dating abuse

Comment: You may think that the Americans are over reacting here. I tend to think these problems are very real and teenagers just do not discuss them with parents or teachers for fear of embarrassment. MXit is very good platform to start offering peer counselling. And hopefully in the near future between ourselves, CSIR and Childline this will become a realityRamon Thomas

A national education campaign and phone hotline to curb abusive teen dating behavior goes into effect today, prompted by new research that suggests teens and technology sometimes make for troublesome connections.

The campaign launches with an interactive teen website ( and a 24-hour hotline (866-331-9474) funded with $1 million over three years by Liz Claiborne Inc. as part of the company’s ongoing effort to end domestic violence. The hotline will be operated by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a 10-year-old, confidential, 24-hour service in Austin.

The new research, commissioned by Claiborne, was conducted in December by Teenage Research Unlimited. The online survey of 615 teens 13 to 18 found cellphones and the Internet make it easier for teens to be intimidated and emotionally abused without their parents’ knowledge.

Of those surveyed, 382 said they have been in a relationship. Among those who ever had a boyfriend or girlfriend:

•18.6% said a boyfriend or girlfriend spread rumors about them using a cellphone, e-mail, instant messaging, text, Web chat, blog or social networking site.

•18.1% said information posted on a social networking site was used to harass or put them down.

•24.6% said a cellphone, e-mail, instant message, Web chat or blog were used to put them down or say “really mean things.”

Young people fear that no one will believe them, and they must see the person who has been controlling, manipulating or otherwise abusing them every day in school, says Sheryl Cates of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which fields more than 18,000 calls a month; about 10% are from teens.

Although much dating abuse can be emotional, 2005 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 9% of U.S. students had been hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the previous year. The CDC last year launched an initiative to reduce dating violence and promote healthy relationships.

Kendrick Sledge, 19, a Boston University sophomore from Upper Arlington, Ohio, says she was in an abusive relationship in her freshman year of high school and didn’t know any better. “I had no clue this was actually a problem and wasn’t just happening to me,” she says of her first relationship.

Teens often don’t know how to handle intimacy and conflict because they see “very poor messages” in the media and in music videos, says David Wolfe, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He is not involved with the hotline or campaign.

“Girls don’t recognize an abusive situation,” he says. “They think that’s what love is: ‘He’s jealous and watches me closely.’ ”

The margin of error for teen responses in the Claiborne-commissioned study is plus or minus 4 percentage points; for teens who have had a relationship, it’s plus or minus 5 percentage points.

This article is republished from USA Today.


Desperately seeking love online

BRYANSTON – Only 12% of South Africans have used the Internet to find love. This is compared to 29% of the French and 21% of Filipinos interviewed in a global survey about dating perceptions, use of the Internet to find a romantic partner and the level of success that they have had.

Synovate surveyed 4 368 people from South Africa, Brazil, France, Korea, the Phillipines, Singapore, Romania and the United States

Over one third of those interviewed who aren’t online daters believe only “desperate people” use the internet to look for love. The results reveal a fairly even match between those who think online dating is a great way to meet people (49 percent) and those who think it is a waste of time (48 percent) but show large disparities among levels of use and comfort between people of different nationalities.

Globally, 15% of respondents said they had used an online personal ad or online dating service to meet a potential romantic interest, with the French (29 percent), Filipinos (21 percent) and Americans (15 percent) being the biggest online daters.

Table One

68% of South Africans state that they would not even consider using an online personal ad or dating service.

Just looking

Entertainment is the main driver for 46 percent of online dating respondents, with many Brazilians (67 percent) and Americans (50 percent) trying online dating out of fun or curiosity, while one quarter of all online daters consider it simply a natural extension of their regular use of the internet.

Surprisingly, although a person’s photograph is the main factor determining whether someone will initiate communication for one quarter of online daters, 39% are more interested in the written description of their personality and 32% just want someone who meets basic criteria such as shared interests and hobbies. 50 % of Brazilians want a partner with personality.

Online daters across the globe vary in how long it takes them to move contact offline. Thirty two percent of Filipinos are in no hurry, waiting at least a month from the first correspondence to meet while one-third of the French, Americans and Brazilians tend to wait more than a week but less than a month. Many Romanians don’t waste their time – 16 percent said that they meet within a day!

The French report the most disasters when moving online correspondence offline, with 58 percent having had a terrible date with someone they met through the internet, although two-thirds said that they had had more good dates than bad ones. Americans are also familiar with online dating disasters. Over half indicated that they’ve had at least one disaster date with someone they met online, but 64 percent said that they’d had more good dates than bad ones.

Online daters who do end up meeting face-to-face have a remarkable success rate, with 25 percent of all respondents having met their spouse or life partner through online dating. Americans (42 percent) and the French (28 percent) are the most successful in taking online love offline.

Stranger danger

Despite the success of some, for many people online dating is still a concept they just aren’t comfortable with.

Ninety five percent of Koreans who haven’t dated online said they would not consider using the internet to find a romantic partner, along with 85 percent of Brazilians and 84 percent of Singaporeans.

Synovate also discovered many negative perceptions about internet dating globally, some of which may contribute to respondents’ online dating hesitation.

Almost one-third of those respondents who would not consider online dating believe that it could be dangerous, a perception that may be reinforced by the 77 percent of consumers globally who believe that most people lie in their online dating profile.

Most of the South African respondents (48%) state that the reason for not using the Internet is that they would just rather see someone in person first. 21% believed that it could be dangerous.

Americans are most convinced that people are dishonest in their online dating profiles (84 percent), followed closely by Brazilians and Filipinos at 82 percent each.

Table Two

But when it comes down to it, it may simply be a case of online dating being seen as the domain of the desperate and dateless.

With close to one-third of respondents globally stating that “only desperate people use online dating”, it may be a long time before many people can shake the desperado perception and start looking for love online.


One-fifth of all those surveyed don’t think that the internet should be used to find a romantic partner.

Sixty seven percent of Brazilians have tried online dating “just for fun”, not necessarily to meet a partner.


Study reveals more then 40% children in US exposed to Pornography

A shocking study has revealed that almost half of all children in America between 10 and 17 years old have been exposed to pornography. About 80% of those exposed pornography was displayed during unrelated searches. Filtering software does reduce the risk of unwanted exposure. The full study is being published in the February edition of Paediatrics. Go here to read the full article on Bloomberg.
In a unrelated incident a married Hong Kong man was caught with over 27,000 child pornography pictures here.


Learning and Support using MXit

[This blog entry has been edited and updated on 9 Sep 2007]

Cape Town bloggers Rafiq Phillips uses MXit offering customer support for his project. This idea can save small businesses money if they consider the implications – offering a support contact on MXit which can be accessible from any cellphone anywhere in South Africa (currently over 5 million users and growing at 13,000 new users per day). With some software development this service could be linked up with a call centre, if one already exists, and give clients the option of contacting your call centre via MXit.

Secondly today I met with Childline Gauteng to discuss a potential partnership to promote online safety more widely and through their regional offices. Laurie Butgereit, a researcher from Meraka Institute, part of the CSIR was also at the meeting. I was completely blown away by their project, Dr Math, which offers learning support and tutoring through MXit . The pilot at one school in the North West province is growing daily in numbers. For now the focus is on Mathematics but this mobile education programme will be rolled out with science and other subjects in future.

With this project educators can begin to warm up to MXit in new and interesting ways. And I’m looking forward to innovative ways to continue where William Smith left off.

* special note
add any of the numbers 27799923960-9 as a MXit contact to access Dr Math.