South Africa heading for economic crisis?

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An interesting train of thought over at www.southafricandiaspora.org/, about a possible looming economic crisis.

Personally, my take is that if your growing midlde class spending power in a growing economy is coming from people in the goverment sector, financed by debt, and your education success rates are not growing correspondingly, then you’re in for a rough ride as that just does not seem to be sustainable.

Surely the long view would be more pragmatic?

But then, I’m not an economist (just a lowly zoologist who understands ecological models that mirror supply and demand models everywhere) so I may be totally and utterly wrong. In which case, I’ll eat my mouse-cover ;-)

What do you think?

Newsvine grows and updates

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I’ve been watching Newsvine for a while now, more out of interest and curiosity to see how it would develop than anything else (I’m not a user as yet), so this was good to receive:

Everything’s Faster –
From loading the front page to writing an article, performance improvements over the last few months have resulted in a much faster Newsvine experience.

All-New User Columns –
Your column is now your home. Whether you write articles or not, you can now use your own personal page on Newsvine to recommend books, blogs, movies, or anything else you’d like. Your page is also now automatically updated every time you comment or vote around the site.

Connecting With Friends –
Invite friends into Newsvine or add existing members into your network and discover interesting stories together. Whenever a friend comments on an article, you’ll be able to jump right to it and join the discussion. Additionally, you can now leave comments directly on the column pages of your friends.

Top Of The Vine –
Top Of The Vine is a linear view into the most commented on and most voted on stories around the site. Available at http://top.newsvine.com or via the front page, this section provides a slightly different view into what’s popular at any given moment.

Chat Lobby –
The new chat lobby provides a look into all the active chats going on around Newsvine at any moment in time. Additionally, you can create your own chat room with one click and discuss any subject you’d like.

Interactive Baseball Scoreboards –
If you’re a baseball fan, you can check the big sites for your daily scoreboard fix, or you can visit the Newsvine MLB Scoreboard and chat or comment right within the box scores themselves. When we said everything on Newsvine was a conversation, we meant it. :)

Master Contributors Emerging –
We’re only a few months into Newsvine and already two members have eclipsed the 1000 seed mark. Congratulations to Claus Jacobsen ( http://danish.newsvine.com ), Aine McDermot ( http://aine.newsvine.com ), and the many others building up great collections of content on the ‘Vine.

Hope they keep on going from strength to strength ;-)

Software development jobs in Cape Town

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Open Box Software are actively recruiting for people in their Cape Town office, so if you’re looking for something, or you know of anyone that is looking for someone, then please either get in touch directly, contact me directly, or forward this post on… Don’t be shy – they’re a stable, great company that is growing so you’re going to get good exposure and learn a lot from some really experienced people.

I’ve copied directly from Word, so these specs are from the horses mouth:
____________________________________________________________________
ANALYST/PROGRAMMER (TOKAI, CAPE TOWN)
We are looking to take on an analyst/programmer(s) with a degree of suitable technical competency, we would expect them to mentor staff members, perform analysis and guide development initiatives.

This person will work on (but not limited to) Microsoft .Net development initiatives such as developing browser (Web) based applications for offshore clients using Microsoft products such as ASP.Net (Both VB and C#), SQL Server 2000/2005 and HTML.

The people we are looking for will want to work with all levels of technology from database, to applications, the web and integration. It is important to us that our people are intelligent, team players with good communication skills and an effective problem solving approach. Our team must be able to tune into the needs of clients and their higher objectives to solve problems where not all the information is readily available.

With clients scattered across time zones, we work very flexible times and often put in heavy hours. That being said, we also spend a fair amount of time ensuring that we have fun as working at open box can become a way of life.

KEY TASKS
• Translate business requirements into solutions.
• Responsible for application development
• Must be able to visualize and architect solutions and communicate this to other team members. A structured approach to design and implementation is very important.
• Lead small teams of developers
• Train/develop/mentor skills of junior members of the team

CRITICAL MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
• Software development orientated 3/4 year degree or equivalent (e.g. B.Com Information Systems or B.Sc Comp Sci or Elec Eng)
• Impeccable command of the English Language (written and verbal)
• Good written and verbal skills
• Strong database skills.
• Skilled in C# or VB.Net.
• Skilled doing web development
• Skilled with ASP.Net (VB or C#), SQL Server 2000, HTML, CSS
• Exposure to supporting technologies such as CSS and XML
• Understanding of the SDLC methodology. We consider a structured development approach as very important.
• A person that has had to drive projects from start to finish.

FAVORABLE EXPOSURE
• Accounting and financial Knowledge/Background
• Microsoft Reporting Services
• Microsoft Share Point
• Someone who has deployed or overseen deployment of the applications they have worked on
• Workflow engine exposure
• Web design skills
• Exposure to XML and XSLT
• Experience with C++, Java or VB6
• Function and load testing exposure

PERSONAL TRAITS
• Friendly and easy going
• Willing and wanting to work flexible times
• Goal orientated
• Passion for problem solving
• Strong team orientation
• Professional communication
• Self motivation

____________________________________________________________________
BUSINESS AND SOFTWARE ANALYSTS (TOKAI, CAPE TOWN)
We are looking for analysts with a strong logical ability who are comfortable working on with people and computers.

This person will work on software projects and pick up on many of the aspects of software delivery that are not specifically programming; such as (but not limited to) analysis, project monitoring, reporting to clients and management on progress, checking for completeness and accuracy, training and documentation.

The people we are looking for will want to work in a fast paced changing environment. They should be people who not only want to do what is asked, but people who constantly seek to improve the process that is followed to deliver a higher quality product more efficiently.

It is important to us that our people are intelligent, team players with good communication skills and an effective problem solving approach. Our team must be able to tune into the needs of clients and their higher objectives to solve problems where not all the information is readily available.

With clients scattered across time zones, we work very flexible times and often put in heavy hours. That being said, we also spend a fair amount of time ensuring that we have fun as working at open box can become a way of life.

KEY TASKS
• Review and sense check business requirements and design documents
• Be involved in system design and project planning sessions
• Monitor, review and report back on project progress
• Act as sounding board and conduct review sessions with developers
• Check that systems are complete and meet specifications as required
• Document and write training manuals for systems
• Manage and document the system change processes
• Deliver system training
• Lead small teams of developers
• Train/develop/mentor skills of junior members of the team

CRITICAL MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
• 3/4 year degree, ideally software/engineering or commerce orientated. Must be able to demonstrate a strong number orientation through abilities in Mathematics, Accounting, statistics and/or Finance.
• Impeccable command of the English Language (written and verbal)
• Good written and verbal skills
• Strong computer skills (Microsoft Windows, Word, Excel)
• Confident with strong organization skills
• A person that has had to drive projects from start to finish.
• Own transport
• Enjoys working on computers
• Must be willing to travel to the USA or UK if required (not often).

FAVORABLE EXPOSURE
• Exposure to the software development process
• Commercial accounting exposure
• Strong computer skills (Microsoft SQL, Project, Sharepoint, Access etc)
• Software testing exposure.

PERSONAL TRAITS
• Friendly and easy going
• Willing and wanting to work flexible times
• Goal orientated
• Passion for problem solving
• Strong team orientation
• Professional communication
• Self motivation.
____________________________________________________________________

Web 2.0 London BBQ thanks, Flickr photo’s, and the next one

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Just wanted to say thanks to everyone that made it to the BBQ on Friday night! – had a cool time and was great to meet so many new people! (If I met you for the first time, please send me your details so I can add you to the mailing list!)
The photo’s are on Flickr here.

As for the next one – everyone that was there has asked when the next one is going to be, and everyone who mailed to say that they couldn’t make it either asked to be kept informed, or when the next one is going to be.

So I kinda just said that the next one would be in 6 weeks time (which should give us at least one more with good weather and perhaps another one with iffy weather), which makes it the 4th August.

However, I would really prefer to be able to cook the meat during the day since there’s more light, and it would also give us more time to eat and then chat before having to rush off to catch the last tube. So I’m thinking that Saturday the 5th August is a better idea, starting at 3pm – what do y’all think?

Web 2.0 London drinks and BBQ tonight – open invite

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If you don’t know already, there is a Web 2.0 BBQ happening in South West London tonight, open to all (not axe murderers please).

The weather is awesome, the can-can girls have confirmed their appointment, the fridge is cold, and the BBQ is ready to go…
Roll on the evening!

On a related note, I got an email from Dave of Texas (where BBQ’s ARE a religion), USA, offering some recipes and tips for a great BBQ. I’ve added them here for posteriority and for reference:

Grilling tip:
I’m not sure what kind of trees you guys have over there but two of the best for putting good flavor into your meat are mesquite and hickory. Even if you are using charcoal to cook you can add a few chips of either wood and they will enhance the flavor. The real tip here is to take a handful of 2-3 inch pieces and soak them in some water for 1-2 hours before you start cooking. Once they are pretty soaked throw them in with the coals. Soaking them causes them to smoke slowly instead of just quickly burn with flames. The smoke is where the flavor comes from.

Try doing a beer can chicken:
1 whole chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons of your favorite dry spice rub
1 can beer

Remove neck and giblets from chicken and discard. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry. Rub chicken lightly with oil then rub inside and out with salt, pepper and dry rub. Set aside.
Open beer can and take several gulps (make them big gulps so that the can is half full). Place beer can on a solid surface. Grabbing a chicken leg in each hand, plunk the bird cavity over the beer can.
Transfer the bird-on-a-can to your grill and place in the center of the grate, balancing the bird on its 2 legs and the can like a tripod.
Cook the chicken over medium-high, indirect heat (i.e. no coals or burners on directly under the bird), with the grill cover on, for approximately 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature registers
165 degrees F (sorry I don’t speak celsius you’ll have to convert) in the breast area and 180 degrees F in the thigh, or until the thigh juice runs clear when stabbed with a sharp knife. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Sauce Recipe :
10 Cloves garlic, baked
(at 350° for 30 minutes, then peeled)
2 C Ketchup
2 Celery stalks, chopped
1 C Sweet or yellow onion, chopped
1 C Water
1/2 C Brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 C Butter 1/2 C Worcestershire sauce
1/2 C Apple cider vinegar
3 T Chili powder
2 t Instant coffee
1/2 t Cayenne pepper
1/2 t Dried crushed red pepper
1/2 t Salt
1/2 t Ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.
Pour mixture into blender container. Process until smooth, scraping down side of container as necessary.
Makes about 5 cups.