Keep your mobile ‘in sync’ using Google Sync

No iPhone? Can’t get hold of a Google Android phone? Pout no more… you can now still have “Google” on your mobile phone. I’ve tried out Google’s Gmail application on my Nokia S60 mobile with success. It’s a great app. It only covers the email features though, so I’d have to login via Google mobile to do anything with my calendar or other Google features, on which the mobile functionality is still somewhat limited. Google steps up now to introduce Google Sync.

 Google Sync allows you to keep your mobile contacts and calendar (depending on your mobile device) with your Google account. This is done in true sync style, meaning that any updates made on your Google account can be synced automatically to your mobile device, and visa versa. You can also get calendar alerts on your device.
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HOW TO: Make a refreshing sorbet

OK, so summer is definitely coming on strong at the moment. With temperatures in the Cape reaching highs of 34° and up (also showing no signs of cooling down too much), keeping cool and refreshed is becoming more and more difficult. A few months ago, I blogged about websites for “web 2.0 chefs“.  During the research for this post, I discovered some awesome websites that I have made use of since then. The recipe I used for reference for this sorbet (thanks must go to Jamie Oliver) was found using Cookstr, a great resource for finding recipes to suit your exact requirements (budget, meal, season, etc).

In the incredible heat over this weekend past, I created a basic sorbet (leaving one or two flavours out of the recipe linked above). I found it to be very refreshing. This is how I did it:

You will need:

1 cup of water.
¾ cup of sugar (I used brown. It changes the colour slightly but is possibly healthier than white).
Juice and zest of 2-3 lemons (use as many as you like. It depends how sour you like it. 2-3 compliments the sugar nicely.)

OK, this is how you do it:

1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil on the stove, making sure to stir and disolve the sugar. Once boiling, simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Once simmered, remove from the stove and allow to cool for a bit (use this time to get your lemons ready).
3. Once cooled, mix in the lemon juice and zest.
4. Pour into a tupperware container and store in the freezer.

This should take around 2 hours to set. I left mine in for a bit longer. Check up on it every so often and judge when you feel it’s ready.

I’ve since tried this recipe with berry juice to replace the lemons. It may end up being a tad sweet. I’m keen to check it out though. When the weather just isn’t calming down, here’s another way to get refreshed and cool down a bit.

Image Courtesy: Cookstr.

Do you have a sorbet recipe? How did the above recipe work out for you? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

4 South African albums to expect in 2009

How often have you heard that your favourite band is “in studio recording their upcoming album”? How many interviews have you read, heard or watched where the band has mentioned that they’re in studio recording an album? This phrase seems to be extremely common among bands in general, which begs the question; “Who is actually releasing their albums and is finished with the recording and production?”. This is who.

Below are several South African bands’ albums to keep an eye and ear out for in 2009. These guys have all been hard at work on their albums for the last year or so, at least. Having followed each of these bands for almost a decade now, I can assure you that they have each pulled out all the stops with their upcoming albums.
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One CMS to rule them all…?

The age old question, discussed by developers for years past…and for years to come.

Is there one CMS to cater to the needs of any and all projects?

CMS stands for Content Management System. This is an application, usually run on the web, that allows end-users to update the content of their website with ease. It can also allow content to be added en mass and worked with by the system (for example, an events guide that only displays upcoming events). For large websites with reams of content, a CMS is invaluable in the organisation, management and authoring of content. In the web industry of today, content management is becoming more and more important, as users with to have as much control over their websites as possible, while minimizing the time spent on the phone or emailing a web developer to update their website for them.

Various options present themselves when faced with the task of selecting a content management option. A variety of pre-made systems exist (WordPress, Expression Engine, Drupal, Joomla, Textpattern, etc) that have been tried, tested and extended by users worldwide. While many of these systems have limitations to their functionality and control from a development perspective, they have been tried, tested and are maintained by users worldwide, which is a huge advantage when developing a system that will grow and flow with the constant change that is the web.

Another option is building your own CMS. While this option is an incredible approach, allowing full control over functionality, integration of a design and extension of the core, it is difficult to keep up a custom CMS with a minimal developer count on the team constructing the system and potential security risks that may have been overlooked. While a these concerns are true, a custom CMS can also be as lightweight as desired, carry only the functionality necessary and be tailored to suit the needs of each website it is used for.

There are pro’s and con’s to each decision. What are your thoughts?

Google give “checking the surf” new meaning

While catching up with posts on Mashable, a popular social networking and general web innovation blog, I came across an interesting article discussing Google Earth. The digital earth clone (created using satelitte imagery) has announced a move to include underwater feeds in their unique mapping architecture. My first thought, when reading this article, was; “what an awesome way to check the surf”. It then occured to me that these are still images, and the lightbulb quickly defused.
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Christel House SA – A Tweet-up for a Cause

This Saturday morning past saw a group of tweeters, press, teachers and school-kids arrive at Christel House SA in Ottery for what was truly an eye-opening experience. We planted trees on the school grounds, sharing in the construction and landscaping of what is truly an incredible institution. The Christel House school is an institution that provides education and nourishment to under-privelaged youths (grade RO to Matric) from the surrounding areas. The school bus fetches and returns the children daily, as well as the dining hall providing nutritionally balanced nourishment to the students. We had the opportunity to share in the construction of the brand new Christel House school premisis, as well as a walk-through tour of the grounds and the incredible fascilities the school is offering to it’s students.

Costing in the same bracket as an average public school in South Africa, it is a wonder why more schools have yet to adopt the Christel House SA model. With two sports fields (including a cricket pitch), lush fertile grounds, spacious classrooms, a vegetable garden for each classroom and a host of other fascilities, Christel House SA provides a place where students want to be, to learn and to develop.
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Tweet-ups, Meet-ups, Relish and Tree Planting

Tweet-ups and Relish

Last night saw the gathering of Captonian tweeters at Relish in town for a tweet-up (meeting of Twitter users). Relish was a great choice of venue for the evening and accommodated everyone perfectly. The event was held in honour of Mike Stopforth’s trip to the Cape. Many turned out for the occassion which made the evening, in my opinion, a great success.

Meet-ups and Tree Planting

Tweet-ups are such a great way to meet people. At each one I have been to, I have met new people and gotten to chat with those that I have met before and discuss things further. I find it very interesting to listen to others, find out more about what they do and enjoy doing, and to learn more about them. Last night, I met a wealth of great tweeters and had some great conversations. I look forward to the next Tweet-up (going to Union was discussed?).
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The Field Band Foundation – Education through The Arts

Music and the arts have always been a topic close to my heart. Having grown up being a musician from a young age, I have felt the positive impact that music, performance and the arts in general have had on my life and development. Watching a passion-filled performance, whatever it may be, always strikes a chord (for want of a better phrase) within me.

Giving selflessly of oneself is a rare and precious gift for the person or people receiving it. Sharing a skill with or making time for someone, even a few minutes, could have a significant influence on a person’s life, both for the giver and recepient. Helping a child learn to read, smiling at a stranger and asking how their day has been, sharing your lunch…all of these things are small, yet impactful, selfless actions.

While browsing through The Trust’s website, I came across a charity organisation that combines both of the above- educating under-privelaged youths in music and the arts. Knowing the influence that music had on my personality, confidence and overall approach to things, this charity comes close to my heart. This charity is The Field Band Foundation.

The Field Band Foundation’s core mission is to influence personal growth, education and development through social interaction, music, dance and the arts, all of which are fun and exciting activities that take place outside of the conventional classroom. The arts are fun, inspirational and can act both as an individual stimulus or as a collective collaborative project, creating a social platform for youths to meet, interact with one another and put aside their heartships to have some fun.

In and amongst this, the participants learn a new skill, be it an instrument, dance style or other art form. All of the above are, as mentioned above, either solo endevours or highly connected collaborative works. Music, in particular,  is an artform that, when collaborated on, is structured and solid, while still being loose and fun and the same time. The feeling of making an instrument really talk (not just make noises) is a feeling like no other I have ever experienced…other than the sound of an instrument, played by someone else, that is really talking…I mean, really talking!

The work that the Field Band Foundation are doing is really second to none. Everyone deserves at least the chance to try. The FBF are providing a platform for youths to seize this chance and gain an invaluable life skill. I am so glad I found this charity and have been able to find out more about the incredible work they are doing for the youth of South Africa.

Learning an art form, instrument or performance skill is, in my opinion, an invaluable developmental stage in one’s life. It is never too late to start learning, so if you feel you’re past your sell-by date on learning an instrument, think again.

Have you had the same or similar experiences with the arts? Please share your experiences in the comments below. 

Red Five Point Star to tour South Africa

I love it when bands tour to South Africa. We get to show them an awesome time and share our uniquely beautiful landscape and our local musical talent with them. Over the last decade, we’ve hosted bands from all over the world, such as Mad Caddies, NOFX and Lagwagon from the USA, and Skaladdin, Drei Flaschen from Europe. Now Red Five Point Star (RFPS) from Slovenia are gracing our shores with their uniquely blended ska tunes.

RFPS  describe themselves as “dirty ska”. This 6-piece outfit have a unique approach to their sound. With a strong use of keyboards and brass over a backline of drums, bass and guitar, these Slovenians know how to do it! An excerpt from the press release reads as follows:
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No Doubt are back…no doubt about it

No Doubt, the American ska/rock sensation, are set to tour after a five-year hiatus. Being a band that I enjoy and have listened to for many years, I was delighted to read this article in The Times, describing their tour and return to the stage.

Lead singer and face of No Doubt, Gwen Stefani, went on to say that their reason for touring was to have fun and to perform their favourite songs again. This, to me, is what music is about- having fun and sharing your enjoyment with the world. The music that No Doubt writes is fun, energetic, entertaining and smooth, with Stefani’s vocals providing a unique touch to the overall No Doubt sound. The band members have, over the past five years, grown as individuals (Stefani is a mother with two solo albums under her belt). Watching musicians enjoying songs from their pasts is truly a unique experience. The passion, heart and enthusiasm given to the performance is like no other.

The band will be touring the northern hemisphere on their upcoming Summer tour. Hopefully the response from this tour (and feedback from South African fans) will spark the idea of a southern hemisphere tour? Maybe with a few South African bands on the bill? I believe this would do great things for South African music and the perception of South Africa to international bands and event management companies.

Image: nodoubt.com