I dislike traffic. In fairness though, I’m pretty sure that everyone dislikes traffic. Unless you are some sort of weird sadist who somehow derives pleasure from sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, which I guess then is fine too.
Anyway, I dislike traffic so much that I telecommute, meaning that I only need to fire my car up once a work week, heading out to the relatively lovely Westlake area of Cape Town for my weekly Monday morning meeting.
This of course then means that I get to endure the fun that is Monday morning traffic.
So given all that, Monday mornings are therefore understandably a shock to the system – meaning of course that an early cup of coffee is then obviously in order.
However, it can’t be a leisurely stop to some place where a bearded guy with a twirly moustache in a plaid shirt with rolled up sleeves lovingly pours a coffee made from beans which he first gently fished out from a large Hessian sack.
No, it needs to be good coffee which is quickly retrieved, probably best if done during the other Monday routine that is the weekly petrol stop.
So just as well then that while my car takes in its share of some damn fine petrol, I get to savour some of that particularly tasty brew that the esteemed Seattle Coffee Company whips up on a daily basis inside the FreshStop at my local Caltex in Strand (Greenways).
Convenience, good coffee and smart fuel. Seems a good way to start a day that you know is about to become a tad more frustrating the minute you turn on to that ‘beloved’ N2 highway of ours…
Tip: Here’s a handy map to my local Caltex. It’s probably a good idea to find your own!
The first season of Star Wars Rebels was a pretty fun ride. Set fourteen years after Revenge of the Sith and five years before A New Hope, Rebels takes place during an era when the Galactic Empire is securing its grip on the galaxy. Imperial forces are hunting down the last of the Jedi Knights while a fledgling rebellion against the Empire is taking form.
It introduced us to the hot head, street smart, Ezra (who it turns out, might just make a pretty decent Jedi), the cowboy Jedi and leader of the rebel cell, Kanan, Ghost pilot Hera, the gruff and irritable Zeb, the creative but also good with explosives Sabine, and of course the annoying and slightly broken astromech droid Chopper.
Chased by the relentless Agent Kallus, and then hunted by the brutal Grand Inquisitor (with his awesomely designed lightsaber), the Rebels slowly moved from being a small thorn in the Empire’s toe to a rather large pain in it’s side!
Kanan was forced to wield his lightsaber once more, and as it turned out, became an unwilling mentor when it was shown that Ezra might just have a connection to the force.
Loads of action, tons of nods to franchise and of course lots of awesome guest appearances, season 1 certainly didn’t disappoint – and ended on an absolute thrilling note: the introduction of Lord Vader himself!
So yes. The kids and I are most definitely looking forward to season 2 kicking of on Disney XD!
Montreal, Quebec is a product of historical French settlement and new Canadian multiculturalism. Situated on a spiritual border between English Canada and French Canada, Montreal its at the collision point of what makes Canada great. While this cultural mishmash makes Montreal unique all to itself, it is also loaded with exceptional attractions that evoke fun and heritage. Montreal’s own FlightHub, an online travel agency, is obviously very familiar with what brings people to Montreal. As a business that operates on attracting people to tourism, FlightHub reviews the best of cities all the time. With that in mind I asked them some of the best places to see in Montreal, Quebec.
The Old Port
Lined with cobblestone streets, historical buildings, and quaint shops and restaurants, The Old Port is one of the premier attractions in the city. Running along the mighty St Lawrence River, The Old Port existed in some form as early as 1611. It now features the aforementioned surroundings as well as The Montreal Science Centre, The Montreal Clock Tower, as well as an urban beach. The Old Port attracts over 6 million people annually.
Montreal is filled with churches, but none may be as holy as the Bell Centre. While it isn’t religiously affiliated, it is the home of the Montreal Canadiens, a hockey team that is near and dear to the hearts of Montrealers and fans across the world. The Canadiens have had a home in the city since 1909. From the old Montreal Forum to the newly christened Bell Centre, a home game is a must see for anyone heading to Montreal according to FlightHub.
A remnant of Montreal’s Olympic past, Montreal’s Olympic Park features the facilities that housed the 1976 Summer Olympics. Located on the current grounds are the Olympic Stadium, the Biodome, and The Athletic Village among other facilities. While previously used for the Olympics, Olympic Stadium was also the home of the MLB’s Montreal Expos before they relocated to Washington D.C.
For much of the year, America’s biggest cities are privy to America’s pastime, baseball. While these games are played in massive stadiums with illustrious histories, there is a way to see the world’s best ball players on a more intimate level. Enter Spring Training, where teams break off into two leagues, the Cactus League, and the Grapefruit League. FlightHub, a North American online travel agency, is baseball crazy. I asked them to take a look at where people should head if they want to see some great Spring baseball in anticipation of the boys of Summer heading North.
16 major league teams call Southern Florida home for Spring Training. Among them are some of the leagues biggest teams including The Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and FlightHub’s favourite, The Toronto Blue Jays. According to FlightHub’s review, Tampa Bay, Florida would be the smartest place to fly to if you want to take in some Spring ball. Along Florida’s West coast you will find the Spring homes of the Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Red Sox, and and the Minnesota Twins, giving you access to some of the leagues best teams all within a small geographical area.
Phoenix is definitely ground zero for Spring baseball according to my FlightHub review. Located in the heart of Cactus League action, Phoenix will allow baseball tourists 360 degree access to almost every team training in the state. Teams training in Arizona include the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Anaheim Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers.
Why Spring Training?
Spring Training ball, whichever league you choose, allows you to experience baseball on a far more personal level. Games are played in smaller stadiums, in smaller cities, and often allow for a degree of interaction with players both pre and post game. It’s often much cheaper to watch these games, and you will also have a chance to see younger players who could turn out to be the stars of the future. FlightHub definitely recommends a pilgrimage to the South if you have a strong interest in baseball and want to see it in a way you have never seen it before.
For travellers hitting up foreign cities, renting a car may be a necessary evil. Even for those who choose not to own cars, if you are hoping to see more than just a foreign or local city’s downtown core, you will most certainly require a car. Luckily for these people, there are numerous options for those who want to forego the traditional car rental route. I spoke with FlightHub, a North American online travel agency, and they shed some light on the growing options for car-sharing and ride-sharing in North America. Using FlightHub’s reviews of these services, I have compiled a few options that you could use today when travelling in North America.
While requiring a healthy dose of preparation, Zipcar is a great service that allows members to get access to cars quickly and efficiently. Once you are fully set up, cars can be accessed using either a mobile app, or your own Zipcar card. Some pro tips, these cars cannot be rented one-way. You will need to return the car to its original destination. Offered largely in the United States, but also countries like Canada, Spain, and the U.K., Zipcar allows for seven day rentals which you can pay by the hour or by the day. Membership is limited to those who are 21 or over, unless they affiliated with a recognized university.
A ride-sharing option that is very personal, RelayRides connects drivers with renters, creating a marketplace where you connect directly with car owners to grab their ride for your vacation. Once again, this will require planning, as owners have a 24 hour window to decide whether or not they will allow you to borrow their car. Once again, this is not a one-way option as you will need to meet with the driver to both acquire and drop off the car. It’s a rather simple solution, the renter pays the gas and a per mile price over a prescribed limit from the owner. This can be particularly useful if you don’t plan on driving far, as staying within the drivers limits can create a lot of value according to FlightHub.
There are many services out there that are region specific. For example, in FlightHub’s home city of Montreal, services like Communato make it very easy to grab cars on demand in four Quebec cities. Communato has numerous stations across the province allowing for convenient pick ups and drop offs, making it simple to rent a vehicle within the city.
It can happen to anyone. A flight delay, a missed connection, or simply a long layover is a part of modern air travel. While the lucky ones will receive accommodations or lodging during this sometimes tumultuous time, most will have to figure out how to occupy their time. I spoke with FlightHub, an online travel agency based in North America, about what you should do if you need to fill your time at the airport. FlightHub reviews not only the best destinations to visit, but also great travel hacks and tips to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.
The first thing FlightHub recommends is trying to be active. Depending on equipment on hand and fitness level this can range greatly from person to person. From taking periodic walks, to finding a place to do some yoga or other quiet physical activity, keeping yourself active can both help you feel better, but also prep your body for long flights as workouts help your muscles stay loose before you subject yourself to several houses of sedentary sitting at high altitude.
This depends entirely on your time on the ground. Many airports are located near public transit infrastructure, making it possible for you to head out and explore. You will need to have confidence in your ability to be on time and gauge your timing to make sure you maximize both your fun outside the airport, and your timeliness at it.
Many associate sleeping at the airport to sleeping on the street. Well, guess what. It’s totally acceptable to catch some zzz’s at the airport according to FlightHub. Stretch out on some benches, prop your carry-on behind your head, and go to dreamland before you hop back on your next flight. Of course, you will need to set as many alarms as possible because the last thing you need to deal with is sleeping through your connecting flight.
Related Link: FlightHub
The dreaded nappy bin. There is a permanent odour surrounding this hunk of white plastic with its clever weighted swivel top that allows you to disappear nappies with a simple lift of a handle, an odour that lingers, not strong at all but just… there.
Of course, once a week this bin needs to be emptied, and it is once you crack open the lid to remove the nappy-containing bag from the bin that the true horror of that stench hits you in full.
In fact, it is one of those horrors that is bad enough that you’re quite willing to stub a toe or pull a sickie to avoid nappy bin emptying duty in the first place! (Or convince your firstborn that it is without a doubt their job to do if they want any sort of whiff of pocket money that week!)
Enter the air freshener.
Already quite at home in the bathroom – where surveys usually indicate the stinkiest smells originate from, correlating exactly where the most air freshener is usually deployed – it stands to reason then that the nappy bin would be a natural extension of this use case.
Which is exactly then where Ambi Pur, the air freshener from Procter and Gamble, comes into play. Given that it has been formulated to rather try and remove odour particles as opposed to simply mask them with a stronger scent, Ambi Pur does a bang on job to make that nappy bin a
little lot more manageable.
Not that this is completely a surprise of course. After all, Ambi Pur has been bringing enjoyable fragrances into homes since 1958 and certainly has a number of relatively recent firsts under its belt: They were the first brand of plug-in air fresheners, launching single perfume devices in 1992 and the highly successful 3volution in 2006. 1997 saw their scientists come up with the first liquid rim block toilet freshener, and in 2000 they made history by being the first to bring out liquid car fresheners!
So odour neutralization is definitely within their playbook, and if you look up on their website, they don’t seem to mind giving you a quick run through on some of the very special inputs in play to achieve this:
- Cyclodextrin: A ring shaped, doughnut of a molecule, cyclodextrin gives odour molecules a “hug” so tight that the odor gets stuck in the center ring, essentially cancelling out the offensive stinky molecule.
- Odour Converters: A trick borrowed from citrus fruits, these compounds combine with odour molecules to form water on contact.
- Buffers: sweaty odours occur when pH levels are high. Buffers essentially interact with these high pH molecules, lowering their odour volume in the process.
- duo-PSB: A corkscrew shape that is particularly adept at penetrating fabrics and in the process trapping stubborn odours, whilst at the same time releasing generally pleasing scents.
In other words, with all that packing a punch, at long last I no longer have the older kids (lots of little girls in our complex!) coming into Emily’s room, only to run straight out whilst pinching their noses and moaning about the smell!
#SmellyToSmiley indeed! :)
At the end of July this year, six of the world’s top mass participation cycling events announced that they had come together to form the World Association of Cycling Events (WACE) – and in doing so, created a true ‘bucket list’ for lifelong cycle enthusiasts the world over!
Officially announced in Rome on 24 July 2015, WACE comprises of the following prestigious member events:
The Cape Town Cycle Tour (South Africa) is the largest timed cycling event in the world. The 109km Cycle Tour, first started back in 1977, attracts in excess of 35,000 cyclists to a scenic coastal race that kicks off from the beautiful city of Cape Town and features the iconic Table Mountain in the backdrop for much of the journey. (Offical Website)
The TD Five Boro Bike Tour (United States) is America’s largest charitable bike ride and one of the largest cycling events in the world. Started back in 1977, this ride sees 32,000 cyclists of all skill levels roll through every borough of New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island) on 64 km of streets totally free of cars! (Official Website)
The Vätternrundan (Sweden) has been running since 1966 and each year sees 23,000 fairly fit cyclists tackle the long and beautiful 300 km journey around Sweden’s second largest lake, Lake Vättern, starting and finishing in the town of Motala. (Official Website)
L’Etape du Tour (France) is a race that allows cyclists to try their own hand on some of the grueling mountain routes that the famed Tour de France puts its professional riders through. Started back in 1993, this tour allows 15,000 very fit cyclists to experience some truly majestic views as they race through the french alps! (Official Website)
RideLondon (England) is a massive festival of cycling with more than 27,000 riders participating in five different events on traffic-free roads in London and Surrey over a summer weekend. The main event is the “RideLondon-Surrey 100”, which sees more than 25,000 amateur cyclists take on a cycling challenge along a similar route to that of the London 2012 Olympic Road Cycling Races. It starts in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, goes out through London to Surrey’s stunning country roads and hills before returning to the capital to finish in spectacular style on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. (Official Website)
The Granfondo Campagnolo Roma (Italy) ride is part of a big cycling festival and takes place in Rome and surroundings along a 120 km route, with 1700m elevation gain. Cyclists will ride through history, through the magnificent scenery of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. The peloton then passes Piazza Venezia, the Vittorio Emanuele Monument, the Capitol, Circus Maximus and Appia Antica, which leads out of town. At that point cyclists will discover the beautiful landscape of the Castelli Romani and Lake Albano which reflects the summer residence of the Pope in its waters, before returning to Rome and the Baths of Caracalla. (Official Website)
Right, so if you’re a true cycling enthuast, you now have some serious training to do if you ever want to tick these six world challenges off your events to do list!
In other words, it’s probably not a bad idea to go shopping for some bikes online – after all, you’re going to need something fancy.
Acquiring extra data storage capacity or more computing power generally meant buying more hardware. As space filled up on drives, more hardware investment was the only real solution. Nowadays, however, there is a less expensive and less disruptive option – virtualization.
What is virtualization?
Virtualization can cover the main computing functions of networking, computing power and storage, and data may be stored locally just as in a hardware-based arrangement.
More and more IT departments are embracing virtual storage as an ideal way of adding storage facilities without the need to invest in JBOD or other external arrays.
The key benefits are those of cost and flexibility: the costs of buying new hardware, employing more staff to look after it, the extra running costs in terms of power and cooling and possibly the need for more space to accommodate it are removed.
It’s a way of making more use of existing hardware resources by means of either using the cloud or software-defined storage.
Data is stored on servers operated by a third party – a cloud provider. Your own hardware resources aren’t being taken up and your data can be accessed at any time by others in your organization potentially from anywhere, and backups can be made to the cloud if desired.
Software-defined storage (SDD)
Where existing hardware resources are effectively extended by the use of software to manage and pool existing resources. Your data is still held locally – just that increased capacity can be achieved without the need for more hardware.
The Cloud: What is Required?
An account with a cloud services provider – you work with a third party to store your data on their servers.
This can be a potential drawback for some: the idea of sensitive data being stored on third party servers may be a concern and cloud computing can be slower than a local storage set up. Another issue is that if their servers fail, access is lost to applications which leads to downtime, loss of productivity and thus income.
Some elect to use cloud as backup-only which means local storage requirements haven’t necessarily been reduced.
Software-defined storage: What is Required?
Two software systems to control your existing hardware – a hypervisor and a virtual SAN.
Two of the industry leading hypervisors are vSphere from VMware and Hyper-V from Microsoft. They work with x86 type servers so there’s not likely to be a need to invest in new hardware, and virtual SAN systems include SvSAN provider StorMagic – a SAN that integrates with the two hypervisors mentioned above.
Indeed, the above SAN is operational with just two servers – and this includes situations where the IT facility has to serve multiple remote locations. They can be controlled from one point – a very valuable benefit as extra data demands can stem from extra branches and the like opening. Previously this would have necessitated investment in local IT infrastructure.
How easy is it to transition to a virtual SAN?
There will be a learning period many IT enthusiasts should grasp, but with the right virtual SAN vendor support, it will be much quicker and easier than installing new hardware not to mention the downtimes likely involved.