My 2nd attempted mugging

I was on my way home last night. I stopped my motorbike to read a text message. It was just next to the central train / taxi station. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a guy crossing the road towards me. Not in front or behind me, right towards me. I stuffed my phone in my jacket pocket. The bike was in 3rd gear. I dropped to 2nd and twisted the gas. It starts slowly in 2nd. He was running by now. He got to me just as the bike was moving off. His hand went straight for my pocket. He was on my right hand side. My right hand was on the accelerator. My left hand just managed to keep him out of my pocket. As my speed picked up he dropped off.

Close call.

Gotta love South Africa baby! 😉

Back to Mzoli’s

I’m going to Mzoli’s again today. Last time my trip to Mzoli’s prompted me to give up alcohol. The following morning I started counting my drinks from the night before. I drank somewhere between 15 and 18 beeers. I felt fine in the morning. Well, perhaps not fine, but normal.

This prompted me to question my alcohol consumption! I decided to give up alcohol for the rest of the month. I made an exception after my attempted mugging, but otherwise I haven’t had a drink since.

Today should be fun. Sober fun no less! 🙂

Oh, and no kilt this time. I don’t want to over-excite Gugletu! 😉

Cape Town Facebook Developers Garage

I was at the Cape Town Facebook Developers Garage last night. I have the badge to prove it!

South Africa Cape Town Facebook Developers Garage My ba

It was an interesting evening. Pizza was generously provided by Butler’s Pizza. If I’m not mistaken their delivery staff arrive wearing a tuxedo shirt (whatever it’s called) and a bow tie! Fantastic. Drinks were supplied by Joyent (I think I got the link right).

There were a few interesting presentations.  Jacques Marneweck spoke about memcache. He looked pretty nervous, but had some interesting things to say. He talked about starling, a memcache based queue server developed by Twitter and some other highly techy stuff. His slides were missing due to a format issue. I think the slides would really have helped the presentation, maybe he’ll post them online.

I’m meeting a few of the same people at most of the tech events in Cape Town. There seems to be a few interesting businesses going on down here. It feels like a small tech community, with a few “big fish”. Reminds me of Edinburgh.

Cape Town January OpenCoffeClub meet

I went to the February Cape Town OpenCoffeeClub meet yesterday. I had lunch with Nur (Nomade One) beforehand. We had a really interesting conversation around religion, values, ethics and business. I look forward to meeting Nur again.

Internet at the event was generously provided by Henk from Skyrove. Skyrove have an interesting business model. They manage internet hotspots and revenue share with the venues who host the hotspots. Bandwidth is outrageously expensive in South Africa, so Skyrove are also a little pricey.

However, Skyrove have undoubtedly gone up in my estimation since I met Henk. When accessing the internet through Skyrove hotspots he pays as an ordinary user, so that the venue get their revenue share. It’s nice to meet ethical business people.

From the meeting we spawned a Cape Town WordPress meetup. I’ve started a mailing list and a blog. I chose Google Groups to host the mailing list, much to my distress. I simply cannot find a good alternative. If you know of one, please put me out of my Google misery! 🙂

Ismael Lo at Kirstenbosch

Last Sunday I was at Kirstenbosch gardens for their weekly sunset concert. Last week McCully Workshop were playing. They’re a popular South African ’70s band and the concert was excellent.

Yesterday, Ismael Lo was playing. The concert set a new Kirstenbosch record selling out all 6’000 tickets in 6 hours. Ismael Lo is a Senegalese singer, songwriter, guitarist and harmonicist.

He really is a great performer. The whole band were excellent. They worked the audience well. By the third song people were already standing and dancing in the garden. By the end the whole audience was upright. It was a great afternoon.

They made an announcement at the beginning of the concert asking for no videos or photos. So the following are brought to you illicitly. 🙂

Here’s a shot of the stage early in the concert:

South Africa Cape Town Ismael Lo at Kirstenbosch Early

Now here’s a shot of the crowd later in the concert:

South Africa Cape Town Ismael Lo at Kirstenbosch The cr

Then a shot of the stage again nearing the end of the concert:

South Africa Cape Town Ismael Lo at Kirstenbosch Nearin

Finally, a short video of the closing seconds of the whole concert, after the 3rd encore, when the crowd were at their most excited:

Cape Town Geek Dinner

I was at the 6th Cape Town Geek Dinner last night (wine kindly sponsored by Stormhoek). It was interesting to meet some local Capetonian geeks. Naturally, some were more geeky than others. Warm thanks to Jonathan for the generous lift there and back. Public transport in Cape Town is sorely lacking, so I wouldn’t have made it were it not for Jonathan’s generosity.

The event took place at Sloppy Sams restaurant. It was an interesting venue for the presentations / speeches. There’s a raised balcony area, which is where I sat. It meant if the speakers were any less than completely engaging, it was easy to tune out (which I did on ocassion).

Undoubtedly, the best presentation of the evening was Tania’s powerpoint karaoke. Powerpoint karaoke is where a speaker presents from slides they have never seen before. Tania’s presentation was on lesser known deities and was wonderfully amusing.

Overall, the evening was very enjoyable. We rounded it off with a quick visit to a bloggers party at Long Street Cafe. I met the blogger behind Wots for lunch. I’m considering starting a blog network, so it was interesting to meet some of South Africa’s bloggers.

My first attempted mugging

Long Street is the main backpacker hang out in Cape Town. It’s very much down town, a street lined with bars, restaurants and hostels.

I was walking along Long Street on Friday night. It was just before 6pm, so still daylight. A guy approached me asking for change. I responded with my usual “not on yer life pal” look. As he got closer he said “Don’t make me use my knife” and moved to block my path. The he turned to his friend, who at this point was behind me, and said “Give me the knife”.

I managed to skip around the accomplice made my escape along the road. I resisted the urge to run. I decided the street was pretty busy, they were unlikely to chase me.

All in all, it was a remarkably calm situation. I didn’t loose my cool. They didn’t try to stop me getting away. It was fairly unsettling though. The guy threatened using a knife in broad daylight. On a quiet stretch of an otherwise busy street.

The incident won’t stop me going out in Cape Town. I will definitely be more careful on that stretch of road though. I’m sure I’ll also be more cautious in general, particularly at night. Perhaps I’ll avoid future hassles because of this first contact with Cape Town trouble.

First impressions of Cape Town

I began my journey from New York to Cape Town on Tuesday night, around 3am (technically Wednesday morning!) and I finally arrived in Cape Town on Friday morning around 11am. It was quite a journey!

Naturally, a little celebration was in order on Friday night, after a little sleeping. It turned out to be rather a lot of celebration actually, as we chased the party into the wee small hours of the morning.

Saturday night saw a little poker tournament at a friend’s place. The Scottish charm worked a treat and I walked away as the champion of the evening. Viva Scotland!

Then Sunday morning I watched while some friends took a morning swim in the ocean. It was a pretty beautiful spot.

South Africa Cape Town Good morning swim

Safety in South Africa

I’d heard stories that Cape Town was dangerous, although not as dangerous as Johannesburg. Every house I’ve been in has bars on the windows, and tall, locked gates. There are signs on many houses advertising that they are protected by an armed response service.

So it’s clear that crime is a problem here, or at least a perceived problem. However, I haven’t felt unsafe on the streets at any point. I’ve spoken to people in lots of different places, on the local minibuses, on the train, on the streets, in bars, and I haven’t felt unsafe with anyone I’ve met.

I have heard stories of muggings and robbery though, so it’s clear that there is a danger. I’ve been told, and I believe, that if you keep your wits about you, use common sense, and avoid certain dangerous situations, Cape Town can be enjoyed in safety.

Weather

It’s nice to be back in a warm country. The weather is very pleasant indeed. Warm sunshine, a cooling breeze, and cooler at night without being desperately cold. A light jacket and a tshirt is enough at night, so long as you have something to break the wind.