Category Archives: Innovation

In the Land of the Blind.

I’ve spent a few hours there recently. Lost my shirt early, and spent a while trying to find it. Oh, and also trying to start a car. Make that three cars, and a sort of electric stand-on scooter. No problem finding or getting into the car, but then I just sit there.

A total stranger came up to me, handed me a dollar, and then rushed away. A man from Holland wandered around aimlessly amongst us, stark naked, and clearly oblivious to the fact. Said he had been sent there by his company to open a branch. Many Dutch companies are opening branches there, and quite a few countries now have fully functional embassies. When I pointed out his state of undress to him, he flew off. I came across him later asking people (and rats) how to find his clothes. I at least still have my jeans on. In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is King.

Met a girl from Germany. She was also having trouble starting the cars. Swopped places, with me in the car, and her sitting on the roof, but still no joy. Tried another car, while she sat on one of the many rats in the middle of the road. She seems to know how to sit. I can “sit” and “go there”. She wants to buy an island eventually. Never got her name, so I probably won’t be invited to her island when she gets one. She was also sent by her company. Why would they want an island? I have one dollar so far. She brought quite a lot of cash with her.

Spent a while trying to extricate myself from a window that I had flown into. My arm was inside the building and my body outside. (two stories up !!) This took a while, and eventually I landed back on the road.

I’ve tried to change my appearance, with limited results. I have dark brown skin and long wavy hair of the identical colour, oh and a unibrow. At least I am wearing a pair of jeans.

“Orientation Island” it’s called, but even at this early stage, I can see that I’m going to spend a while here.


The place is called Second Life. It’s a virtual world and has millions of residents. These are real people, who log onto the Internet and “live” another life in Second Life.

Years ago I visualised a 3-dimensional Internet. A place where a company web page was actually a shop that you walked into, browsed, bought things and had them delivered to your actual Outernet address. Well, it’s here. Construction is going on at a massive pace. Property prices are booming. And yes, property cost you real money. Credit Card or Paypal. The currency is called a Linden Dollar and you can freely exchange your currency at any time. You can also earn Linden Dollars by selling goods or services in Second Life.

In August 2006, Suzanne Vega became the first major recording star to perform live in Second Life avatar form.

Remember, you heard it first from Synaptoman.



Too much choice

Have you ever walked down a supermarket aisle and wondered at the huge variety of all products on offer? Probably not, unless you’d just arrived from Zimbabwe. The fact is, we are spoiled for choice. And what do we do with all of this choice? With groceries, in any event, we choose a brand and cling deperately to it for years.

Only two things will make us change our brand. A better sales pitch by another brand or a bad experience (price or quality) with our favoured brand. But the bottom line is this. There wouldn’t be 23 brands of baked beans if consumers only bought one or two. Someone is buying the other brands, albeit in smaller quantities than the “brand leaders”.


The same applies to cars. Why do we need 50 manufactuerers and a gazillion model derivitatives? Because someone is buying all of these models. And those manufacturers and models that don’t achieve a certain level of sales? Well they are kicked out of the nest.

Now, follow me closely here.

Picture this car. It has four wheels and a spare wheel. It seats 4 adults in safety and comfort. It can reach 120km/h in a reasonable time and 140km/h in an emergency. It is literally impossible to crash, steal or hijack. It has zero greenhouse gas emissions. It comes in 3 or 4 basic colours. You can however, customise it to make it unique. (if this is what blows your skirt up.) It does not have ABS, ERF, JMB, XYZ and HIV. Now here’s the kicker !! It is FREE. Just pop in and fetch one. Oh, and it’s fuel, servicing and maintenance costs are also FREE. On the down side, there aren’t millions of experienced mechanics for this car YET.

Now, would you drive one of these cars, or still spend R200 000 on a basic family sedan?

I’d get one of these cars. My reasons, price, functionality, safety and security issues. So would many other existing owners of conventional cars. But more importantly, so too would millions of ordinary South Africans, who to date, have been denied the joy of mobility.

A computer system is made up of three basic components.

The Hardware – this is the actual metal and plastic bits. The Chinese are making these things cheaper than their scrap metal component. At a push, everyone could own one of these, even if the State subsidised it heavily in the National interest.

The Operating System – this is that magical program that drives the hardware. You never see it, or use it directly, and it costs a lot. Microsoft <spit> makes one of these every 5 years or so, then makes 500 million copies of it at about 50c each and then sells it to us at R1000 or more. You are probably using Microsoft <spit> XP.

Applications Software – these are the programs that enable you to write a letter, browse the Internet, send and receive emails etc. Microsoft <spit> uses the same philosophy here as with it’s operating systems. There are obviously millions of other applications sold by other software vendors, and they’ve all learnt from Microsoft <spit> so you get to pay through the nose for these too.

What is the effect of this system on a developing country like South Africa? Simple, the rich who can afford computers, operating systems, applications software and broadband connectivity, get smarter. And as they get smarter, they get richer. The reverse applies for the poor. They don’t get smarter and they stay poor.

Wake up South Africa. Go Linux and Open Source Software. It’s free, it’s stable, it’s virus-free and there are no strings attached. We will only achieve the governments growth targets if we educate our children. Here is what I use;

Operating System – Ubuntu 6.06 FREE
Office Tools – Open Office (Word-processor etc.) FREE
Browser – Firefox FREE
Email Client – Thunderbird FREE

Let’s start now. GO GET IT !!!!


Tick, tick, tick

What fascinated me during my Accounting and Auditing studies (stop yawning in the back row there), was the sudden realisation that everything was in perfect symmetry.

We had been taught in science that energy (matter) could not be created, but merely converted from one form to another. But hold on, this applied to accounting as well. Wealth cannot, despite what the Financial Advisers say, be created. For me to get wealthier someone, or something must be getting poorer.

What I think would be pretty cool, would be a portable device (watch, cellphone, PDA) that would display, second by second, your net worth. The financial and tax years, that we have created, are totally artificial. We are getting wealthier, or poorer, second by second, and best of all, it can be measured. The technology is in place to calculate this number in real-time and display it.


Have you ever been to the population clock. ?

This clock displays the current world population (6.6 Billion) as it increases at about 2 or 3 people per second !!. You can then select any other year in the past or the future and it will give you the population then. There are many of these clocks. They work on statistical estimates, and are then corrected when new data comes to hand.

My wealth clock will be similar. You are getting poorer as you pay interest, consume electricity, use your cellphone, drive your car (petrol, servicing, tyres). You get richer as you earn interest, as your house increases in value, as you work and get paid a salary and as your share portfolio increases. All factors affecting your wealth will be estimated second by second, and then corrected as this new data comes to hand. It certainly isn’t rocket science to write the program to calculate this number and send it to you..

This begs the question. If the population is inceasing, and if we all appear to be getting wealthier (some MUCH more than others), who, or what, is getting poorer???

The answer? THE EARTH. Our environment is not a bottomless pit. A correction is overdue, and when it comes it will reverse a few million years of civilisation as we know it.

Tick, tick, tick.


Do you have any 6634567654298?

“Hello, Woolworths, how may I help you?”

“Hello, here, may I place an order?”



“Yes, do you need a secure connection?”

“Not yet, may I proceed?”


“6654789876342, 2. 6576853423897,12. 1142657453989,1. 87678745342317,6, ”


“Yes, what’s the problem?”

“No stock”

“OK, then do you have any 6634567654298?”

“Yes, and it’s on special, only 23.99”

“Give me 3, may I proceed?”


“6654789876342, 2. 6576853423897,12. 1142657453989,1. 87678745342317,6, ”

“Stop, stop, stop, I’ve got all of that, what else do you need?”

“887656876342, 12. 1232343423897,4. 1142657654399,1. 54345342999,4 ”

“Is that all?”

“Ah, yes”

“Are you sure, we have a special on 5544344578982 at only 7.99/kg?”

“No that’s fine, just give me the total and I’ll need a secure connection to pay”

“567.22, secure On”



“Paying now”

“Confirmed receipt”


“3.30PM OK?”





A 2009 model Defy F580 refrigerator has just placed a top-up order with Woolworths. By the time you arrive home from work at 6:00 pm your fridge will have re-stocked itself and your oven and microwave will be putting the finishing touches to your evening meal.

Oh yes, and you’ll be 567.22 poorer.

Todays Quote;

“Anticipate and respond to change before it knocks you over”

Synaptomen and the Outernet (continued)

Picture this. You live in the UK. You are considering an investment in a Brazilian manufacturing company. In your research you have Google’d the company’s name. The results are as follows;

  • The company website.
  • A directory listing from a Brazilian telephone directory.
  • A press story regarding some contract obtained three years ago.

This is the sum total of what the Internet can offer you. Short of travelling thousands of miles to visit the site, you are still in the dark. Even then, language and cultural barriers will make information gathering difficult. You’d like to take your enquiries further, but you’ve hit a brick wall. What now?

The Outernet

An “Outernet” plug-in for your search engine will also automatically send your enquiry to one or more Synaptomen who live within a few miles of the company in question. It is quite possible that they have friends or family working at the factory or have had business dealings with the factory. An hour or so later your Inbox fills with detailed, inside information regarding the company. You realize that the company is a scam and save yourself millions.

Science Fiction? Far from it. The tools and technology to put in place a network of this nature are freely available. All that is required is to recruit and co-ordinate the Synaptomen, the business is out there and amounts to billions of dollars.

Watching me, watching you.

Baby Octopus recipe from yesterday was fine. A bit chewy, but probably because I cooked for too long while getting stuck into a fine Cabernet. Oh, also I had no Basil. Will try again sometime.

Check this out;

Solar-powered wireless camera

It’s a solar-powered wireless surveillance camera from Sun Surveillance

With the crime problem what it is in South Africa these would be great, but the following points are worth mentioning;

  • Some dodgy BEE company would probably get the contract and they wouldn’t even be delivered
  • They’d be stolen within days of installation and turn up for sale in some taxi rank.
  • Nobody would be watching them for crimes.
  • Even if a crime was witnessed, the police would (a) take an hour to get there (b) not respond at all (no petrol) (c) Go to the wrong place (d) probably steal the camera when they got there.

Nice idea though, especially with no power or network cables required.

Quote; “When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”