A deeper look at MXit's war on porn and cyber criminals

This was announced a few days ago. And I would like to give some perspective before you read the official statement from MXit below.

MXit has been around for a number of years. And the media has enjoyed blaming MXit for everything from distribution of pornography to examination results dropping since its introduction. As a user of MXit on a daily basis, I found this tool to be one of the most revolutionary technologies ever created. The reason for this statement is that MXit truly provides a means of communicating without further enriching the mobile operators in South Africa.

So why did it take MXit so long to make this announcement? It does not matter any more. The importance of this announcement cannot be underestimated. When you are the leading technology in the mobile space with anywhere from 17 – 19 million users in this country, whatever stance you take will be taken seriously by other players in the same space. So what this statement below means is that other companies in the mobile Internet business will also have to make very serious commitments to fighting pornography and cyber criminals. More over, this statement, when it eventually filters down to parents and schools will encourage the prosecution of those who abuse the Mxit platform.

Remember you can book Ramon Thomas for your school or church conference

MXit declares war on porn and cyber criminals

Herman Heunis founder CEO MXit25 March 2010 – MXit today announced a zero-tolerance policy against offenders who abuse its online community. Anyone posting explicit or offensive material in public areas within MXit will from now on be banned from its systems without warning.

“For too long, a group of less than 0.1% of our user base has tarnished our reputation with their continual abuse of our community through unsavoury, and sometimes criminal, behaviour,” says Herman Heunis, CEO and founder of MXit.

“Until very recently, we had great difficulty in identifying and tracking these degenerates, but with new developments, we are now in a situation where they leave a definite electronic footprint.

“Our users’ right to privacy is, and will always be, of paramount importance. We have no intention of imposing censorship on communication between users as their privacy is a constitutional right, just like private communication via letters, SMS, MMS, e-mails and other mediums. However, when someone publishes offensive content or uses our platform to prey on innocent people, we shall remove them from our system.

“Furthermore, any suspicious behaviour indicating possible criminal intention will be handed over to the Cybercrime Unit of the SAPS as currently required by law.

“Our foremost responsibility is to protect our 19+ million registered user base that makes up our community, and as such, we will do everything in our power to identify these offenders and help the authorities bring them to book,” says Heunis.

“Lastly, I want to strongly urge users never to exchange personal information with strangers, and certainly not to meet them in person. Inviting strangers to be your friend on MXit, or any other social network for that matter, is exactly the same as opening your front door without knowing who is on the other side. It just isn’t smart,” concludes Heunis.

Download my Parents Guide to MXit today


Earth Hour

All South Africans residents and visitors are encouraged to participate in Earth Hour on Saturday 27 March 2010 by switching off all lights for one hour, between 8.30pm and 9.30pm. Earth Hour is a WWF initiative and is a symbolic act aimed at creating awareness that climate change threatens lives, livelihoods and lifestyles and galvanizing support to pressure governments to combat climate change.

The ten warmest years on record have all occurred since 1990. In 2009, an estimated 1 billion people from over 4 000 cities across the world took part in Earth Hour. Supported by local celebrities like The Parlourtones, Jo-Ann Strauss, Ryk Neethling and Marc Lottering, Earth Hour 2010 is proud to have Archbishop Tutu as their patron once again. As comedian Lottering says “There’s nothing funny about climate change It will ultimately affect all of us in a bad way if we don’t consciously act.

This year South Africans will once again have the opportunity to join the rest of the world in doing something positive – turn your lights off on Saturday, 27th March at 20h30 for one hour.”

For more information, visit www.earthhour.org.za


Social Media is not Social Interaction

Social Media MadnessMy role as a technology evangelist is to bring the good news about technology to you. Well there is good news and there is bad news. And as with most people I’m sure you prefer the bad news first. A question I want you to ask yourself before I share that news with you is this: is technology really neutral or is it biased based on the inherent function that is is designed for?

Anyway here’s the bad news: there is a myth promulgated that in today’s society that social media is social interaction. How can you compare a conversation at a braai to a conversation on Twitter? How can you compare a conversation over the dinner table with a conversation on a Facebook discussion group? How can you compare an intimate conversation late at night with your lover to the same conversation using MXit?

It is my opinion that we’ve reached a stage in our evolution as the human species, in the 21st century, that we’ve become chronically dependant on technology. Children born after 1985 or 1990 cannot imagine a world without cellphones, 24 hour television or the Internet. What do I mean when I say chronic dependency? I simply mean that we do not even realise to what extent we rely on these technologies until they are taken away from us.

Think back to the last time your cellphone battery died. How did you feel? Think back to the last time your Internet connection was down for a few hours. How  did you feel? Think about the last time the electricity in your neighbourhood was down. How did you feel? Some of you may have felt anger, some may have felt disgust, or resentment. However, I would vouchsafe that the real feeling beneath the exterior aggression was one of helplessness.

Now when I posted this comment on my Twitter/Facebook status the first person stated that it is not wrong or right. Well I go on the record now by saying it wrong to believe that social media interaction is the same as social interaction without social media. They are not the same and they are certainly not equivalent. I came to this conclusion after speaking to at tens of thousands of people across South Africa for the last few years on the psychology of technology.

When you correlate the use of our 5 senses in communication with that of “communicating through the screen” you realise to what extent we’ve come to accept this substandard way of communicating as genuine. When you are texting or using MXit, you cannot see the other person, hear the other person, touch the other person, smell the other person, let alone taste the other person. So you are not using any of your 5 senses in the interaction. When you do not use your 5 senses you are making decisions based on an exceptionally limited amount of information.

Yes its my opinion after observing thousands of South Africans interact using MXit, Facebook, Internet Dating and other technologies and convincing themselves its the equivalent of social interaction or let me rather say, face to face interaction.

The facts remain that we are like zealots when justifying our chronic dependency on technology. Agree or disagree?


Stuck in the same groove

For the last few weeks, and seems like the last few months I’ve been stuck in the same groove. Something happened and I think I know what it is. Before I share that not so obvious secret with you, I wanna tell you what’s happened. My hobbies have become mere illusions and sometimes even delusions. I stopped doing my daily Tai Chi Chuan, I’ve stopped going to art classes, stopped going to movies on half-price Tuesdays, I’ve stopped doing many things that brought great satisfaction into my life.

What’s been the result of all this? Simply put, my life has become filled with nonsense, mundane nonsense. And I have almost nothing to show for it. Seemingly things went from bad to worse in December when I had massive arguments with my girlfriend at the time, got into a car accident, almost got killed in a attempted hijacking, and eventually had a car breakdown, as well being forced to sublet my bachelor pad. This was almost too much because I was stuck in the same groove yet again.

January did not turn out to be much different. For the most part I was hiding from the world by pretending to work. And what I now realise is that the work I thought I was doing was more of a distraction than anything else. Do you know the feeling you have after a long day at the office, you get home and you feel like you did nothing meaningful? Well this is what has been going through my mind on a daily basis as we entered 2010. More of the same was to be had from the ex-girlfriend who never ceased to amaze me to what lengths she would go to keep the emotional rollercoaster going.

A fool was I, because I kept on trying to rescue the situation, rescue the relationship, instead of rescuing myself. Then February arrived, the month of love, and I finally got my way and took a 3-week break in Uitenhage. Away from all the drama, away from all the confrontations, away from all mess that I used to call my so-called life in Johannesburg, the New York City of Africa. And what did I achieve during those 3-weeks? Almost nothing at all, certainly nothing significant like a new ebook or a new project to get me back into the talk show circuit. The reason, I was stuck in the same groove.

So now we’ve arrived in March 2010 and its less then 100 days before the FIFA Soccer Worldcup kick off. There is a real buzz in the air and the excitement is growing in leaps and bounds. Except for my own mind, which is stuck in a same old groove. As I write this, my first real blog post in decades (sic) I realise that breaking from the same old groove has to be my biggest goal. So whatever I end up doing next I have to find a way to break the repeating pattern, to break the silence, to become groovy again as Austin Powers would have me say 😉

Oh, by the way, I put way too much energy into my relationship and forgot what makes me Ramon Thomas. So the short lesson here is, never focus more on your partner than on yourself. Make yourself happy first, and the rest will follow. Seek first the Kingdom of God (the Kingdom of God is within you)…


A blind girl

There was a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind. She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She told her boyfriend, ‘If I could only see the world, I will marry you.’

One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend.

He asked her, ‘Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?’ The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn’t expected that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him.

Her boyfriend left in tears and days later wrote a note to her saying: ‘Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before
They were yours, they were mine.’

This is bow the human brain often works when our status changes. Only a very few remember what life was like before, and who was always by their side in the most painful situations..

Life Is a gift. Today before you say an unkind word – Think of someone who can’ speak.

Before you complain about the taste of your food – Think of someone who has nothing to eat..

Before you complain about your husband or wife – Think of someone who’s crying out to GOD for a companion.

Today before you complain about life – Think of someone who went too early to heaven…

Before whining about the distance you drive think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.

And when you are tired and complain about your job – Think of the unemployed, the disabled, and those who wish they had your job.

And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down – Put a smile on your face and think: you’re alive and still around..




Happy birthday dearest Mother

Today is my mother, Illona Murray’s 57th birthday. I’m not sure exactly what to say to my mother when I wish her today. She is living in Uitenhage and I live in Johannesburg. During February I spent 3 weeks visiting her and it was essentially my December holiday. Like all mothers and son’s we have have good times and bad times, we’re close and we’re far apart.

When I was growing up she was a strong role model, a single mother who worked for First National Bank for 33 years. Every day we spent a little bit of time together after she came home work. And there were times when I felt that she was not as caring as I would have liked her to be because I recall making my own lunch, walking myself to school, making my own bed. However, all these things helped me to become self reliant. And the lessons in independence were valuable later on when I lived in moved to Johannesburg in 1997, and moved to Cape Town in 1999, and eventually to United Arab Emirates in 2000.

The most important thing in her life post-1988 is God. She is a reborn Christian and currently with the Salvation Army. I always tell the story of how she wanted to be a nurse, but her father did not allow her to study in that direction. She settled for a job with the municipality and eventually found work with a bank. However, it clear since her early retirement in 2008 that she has found something that makes her happy on a daily basis. And I received more support from her in the last few years that could be expected. So in this blog post I want to acknowledge her contribution to my life. I honour and praise her resilience and her faith in me. She has never denied me when I asked her for help. And no matter how bad things were growing up, and now as an adult, her love is the foundation on which I built my own life.

So happy birthday Mom. You deserve all the richest blessings from God, and know you are instrumental in the direction of my daily life. The best memories I have is from the times you took me to work on weekends and how we used to enjoy Wimpy burgers on the train home from Port Elizabeth to Uitenhage. All those hours spent running around the bank when I was 4 or 5 comes back to me in a flash every now and then. And the happiness I experienced just being close to you is all that matters.


Smartphone the surprise newcomer in mobile race

Johannesburg:- Smartphones have made a dramatic entry into corporate South Africa, far surpassing general consumer use or small business use.

This is a surprise finding from a new research study released today by World Wide Worx. The Mobile Corporation in SA 2010 report reveals that three quarters of South African companies have deployed smartphones within their organisations, compared to almost none two years ago.

The study, backed by First National Bank (FNB), leaders in cellphone banking in Africa, and Research In Motion (RIM), the developer of the BlackBerry solution, shows that saturation point has almost been reached by large South African companies in the use of fixed landlines (96%) and ordinary cellphones (92%). And, as forecast in 2007, 3G data card penetration has also reached near saturation, with 94% of large companies deploying it. Now the focus has turned to integration of smartphones with business processes.

“These results show that enterprise mobility solutions are no longer just nice to have. They’re essential for businesses that want to be competitive, responsive and efficient in a world where a customer won’t wait for a salesperson who is visiting customers and where project flow can’t stop because a manager is at a full-day meeting,” says Deon Liebenberg, Regional Director for Sub Sahara Africa at RIM. “Not only does mobility allow companies to improve internal efficiencies and communications, it also enables them to interact more effectively with their increasingly mobile customers.”

The study also showed that corporate South Africa expects to embrace the new world of online services to an extent that was not even anticipated as recently as one year ago.

“Until last year, concepts like Software as a Service (SaaS) and Cloud Computing were regarded as little more than buzzwords,” says Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx.

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