Technology for Africa ’07 credit card test passed, speakers announced

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The last week or so has seen us sit with bated breath, waiting to see the reaction to the web and emerging technology conference we’re going to put together for Africans (with an African context of course). Well, we’re happy to say that the credit card test has passed, and the response has been really positive – At the moment we’re getting a sign up rate of 25% of visitors that view the site, which is not too bad I think. You can view what people are asking for at the conference, at our feedback results page.

So, that’s great but who are the speakers?
In alphabetical order, here you go for now (more on the way):

Andy Budd

Andy Budd wearing a suit but no shirt collar, sits with his hands clasped in front of him.Andy Budd is an internationally renowned user experience designer and web standards expert. Andy is a regular speaker at major design conferences and recently spoke at @media 2006 in London, and Webmaster Jam in Dallas, Texas. Andy is also the driving force behind our annual d.Construct web development conference.

Andy wrote the best selling book, CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions. In this book, Andy shares his years of experience in creating attractive, standards compliant websites.

Andy’s design experience and knowledge has been called upon many times as a judge in web design awards, most notably the Bubu Awards, the ReUSEIT Contest and the Web Standards Awards, which he founded in 2004. Andy currently sits on the advisory board for .Net magazine, the UK’s leading web development periodical.

A more personal side of Andy can be found at Blogography, a popular weblog where he writes about web design and web standards issues, as well as his passions for travel, photography and diving.

Andy is the creative director at Clearleft and runs their web standards training program.


Andy Clarke

Andy Clarke

Andy Clarke has been working on the web for almost ten years. He is a visual web designer based in the UK and started his design consultancy Stuff and Nonsense in 1998. As lead designer and creative director, his clients include local and national businesses, charities and government bodies and he has designed for The British Heart Foundation, Disney Store UK, Save The Children and WWF UK.

Andy is a member of the Web
Standards Project
where he redesigned the organization’s web site in 2006. He is also an Invited Expert to the W3C’s CSS Working Group. Andy regularly speaks at workshops and conference events worldwide and is the author of Transcending CSS.


Demian Turner

Demian Turner has been involved in web development for the past 9 years. His primary focus is on developing multi-tier web applications. He also has experience building standards compliant XHTML GUIs, acting in a customer-facing role and managing projects.

Demian specialises in PHP/MySQL/Apache development on Linux and also has experience in system administration, requirements gathering, UML and Object Oriented Analysis and Design. He is the maintainer for the Seagull framework project, and contributes to SimpleTest, Max Media Manager and the PEAR open source projects.


Malcolm Hall

President and CEO of Open Box Software, a 50+ team of .Net developers out of Cape Town.

Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Malcolm was a founder member of a successful start-up (The World On Line) focused on Microsoft Great Plains—a mid-market ERP package—in the 1990′s.

Upon moving to the UK in 1998, Malcolm has, as a member of the Deloitte & Touché (UK) and then e2i (UK) management teams, managed consultancy teams in the London, Central and Northern regions of the United Kingdom. Malcolm has extensive hands-on technical experience and has also programme managed IT projects across the UK, Germany, France, Spain, The Netherlands and the US.

Since founding Open Box, Malcolm has divided his time between US, UK and South Africa overseeing operations and project delivery. He is also responsible for developing further relationships with prospective and current clients, as well as partners and suppliers.


We’ll be announcing more speakers as we confirm, and if you’re interested you can view what people are asking for at the conference, at our feedback results page.

Backpack vs Tada lists?

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OK, so we’re using Basecamp extensively now, so much so that it’s safe to say we’re reliant on it. But it is definitely worth the cash outlay every month.

So that got me thinking that there must be other 37Signals stuff that I can use, since I’m trying my damndest to get off of desktop apps like Outlook (Outlook is still the best PIM client out there, so don’t even try tell me to switch to something else yet – Yay Microsoft!) purely ‘cos I want my “stuff” wherever I am, which means the best place to put it is on the web.

So my day in Outlook basically becomes:
1. check/use the Calendar
2. check/use Tasks (I’ve rationalised these radically lately, so now only keep the most relevant and important stuff I need to do in there)
3. check/use Email
4. store random bits of info I know I want access to in Notes

So now I’m trying to find a place that I can store everything that needs to be somewhere to get it off my RAM, on the web, and easy to use. Enter Backpack and Tada lists

Except that I can’t figure out which one to use – since they’re both essentially going to be used for lists and a bit of body copy….
Yes, don’t look at your screen with that “stupid git” look on your face ;-) I get it that Backpack is Tada lists big brother, so I guess my question is really: “What do you use both of them at the same time for?”. The free version of Backpack has some limitations, so I could use both as a “web tag team” but that’s kinda geeky and I wouldn’t want to brag about that at the next Baywatch convention…

If you do use both at the same time, or you have any ideas as to why one might, please spill the beans.
If you think I’m mad and that I should just use Backpack and cough up for the 5 dolla fee, tell me ;-)

Using Ubuntu as local web development box, Mediatemple Dedicated Virtual as live environment

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We’re in the process of sharpening up our infrastructure so that we can be more efficient, and at the moment it seems that having a local Linux box is actually going to be a good thing as opposed to always working off a dev server somewhere on the internet. When things are fluid and dynamic, it’s always good to have something you can tinker with locally, rather than always having to login to control panel, ssh in, ftp in, or whatever…

So, we’re looking at the different linux distros, and being African and fanatical about Ubuntu (we wish all our clients knew what Ubuntu was however) we’re obviously keen to use it as the local linux box.

That said, we’ve got a Mediatemple Dedicated Virtual server which is our live environment, so it makes sense to use a local linux flavour which will in as much as possible look and behave the same was as the (mt) box will.
Now, we know that (mt) runs Red Hat Enterprise with the following stack (last I checked):
* Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS release 3 (Taroon Update 1)
* PSA (Plesk) – v7.1.5
* Apache – v2.0.46
* PHP – v4.3.2
* GD – 2.0.12
* MySQL – v3.23.58
* Perl – v5.8.0
* Python – v2.2.3
* Spam Assassin – v2.63
* Horde – v2.2.5
* Bind – v9.2.2
* Qmail – v1.03

On top of that, we use a combination of linux, mac and windows machines here, so being able to work directly with files through a SMB share on the local linux box is an absolute must (which is where we get our productivity and efficiency gains) – easiness to do this would probably be a factor then I guess.

So I guess the question is whether Ubuntu is the best choice, the right choice, an OK choice, or just plain wrong; and not being the *nix guru I would like to be, I’m not sure of the answers… Hence the blog post ;-)

Can anyone offer any comments / help / experience / suggestions at all? ;-)

Having problems with Yahoo POP email?

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I’ve been battling with Yahoo POP email for a while now, where it gives me a message saying that something isn’t authenticated, so I go and make the changes they recommend in my account to authenticate my backup email address, but it’s still the same. This is like the 5th thing in the last year that has cropped up, so it’s getting kinda tiring.

Has anyone been experiencing the same thing? Any fixes?

So I take the email account off Outlook for a week or so to see if the problem will go away, and it doesn’t. Which is a bummer.
So now to save myself the hassle in my Inbox, Yahoo forwards to GMail, and Gmail comes into Outlook… and Yahoo, despite their really sweet webmail interface, loses my support… ;-(

None of this is really interesting, except that I imagine that Yahoo has a core business of being a portal, and offering email to people – everything else is driven from those eyeballs. So, if they’re going to make it hard for people to use a core service of theirs, then pretty soon they’re going to start losing people to other providers… unless of course I’m the only one on the interweb with this issue…