Monday, 15 October 2018

Alternatives to Fibre?

    As mentioned in our previous post about our Richwood Fibre Initiative, many of us can not wait until our area will finally get connected via Fibre. Either due to our Job, usage of Netflix, multiple people household - or gaming, we are just not happy with ADSL.

    So what are the alternatives until we get FTTH? Luckily there are some:

    ADSL/VDSL

    Yes, this seems obvious, but unfortunately only applies to those lucky who can at least get 10Mbit ADSL or VDSL (20 or 40Mbit).

    • Pros:
      • semi-available (speeds differ from street to street - e.g. VDSL won't be available everywhere in Richwood)
    • Cons:
      • dependent of Telkom (think twice about this)
      • requires a DSL Line
      • higher latency
      • no guaranteed bandwidth
      • relatively expensive
    • Costs: R1767 for a bundled and uncapped/unthrottled VDSL line from Afrihost

    LTE

    Again, high-speed coverage may vary. Very flexible installation though. Anyone with experience on how well Netflix works on LTE?

    • Pros:
      • cheapest solution
      • easiest to setup (e.g. no installation needed)
    • Cons:
      • unreliable / speeds can differ greatly
      • no uncapped nor unthrottled offerings
    • Costs: R799 for a throttled and capped package from Telkom


    Wireless (Wifi point-to-point)

    You guessed it: no coverage guaranteed (see how important FTTH is?)

    • Pros:
      • available
      • guaranteed bandwidth
      • low latency
      • if you can spend the money, you can achieve 100 Mbit already now
    • Cons:
      • can be unstable (due to interferences)
      • most expensive
      • quite intensive/complex installation required
    • Costs: R1553 for a 20Mbit uncapped/unthrottled Line from Wibre
    • Please see this following thread for some recommendations: https://www.facebook.com/Richwood.WC/posts/10156712943947953

    Please use the comments below to share your experience :)

    Tuesday, 9 October 2018

    Richwood Fibre Internet Initiative


      Dear Richwooders, kindly join our Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/richwood.fibre/ if you are interested in receiving faster, better & cheaper internet via a fibre connection to your home (FTTH).
      Let's use that Group to organise ourselves as a collective and finally get heard by last-mile fibre providers such as: Vumatel, Frogfoot or Octotel.





      What is Fibre Internet?

      Traditionally your home is connected via a copper-line (Telkom owned) to a network. That copper-line is not only used for your telephone (POTS - plain old telephone system) but also for data (ADSL/VDSL).

      Fibre Internet - or better known as "Fibre to the Home" (FTTH) connects homes via a fibre optic cable network. It is completely digital and meant to only transport digital data, with voice/telephone being done via data as well (VOIP).

      You can completely get rid of your Telkom line once you switch over to fibre.

      Why do I need it?

      Fibre is a much more reliable medium than copper. Data on a fibre optics cable has less interference and can transport much more data. In short, some of the key advantages:

      • higher bandwidths possible than any other medium
      • no interference, no matter how far your home is to the next connecting point
      • lowest possible latency
      • ideal for Netflix!


      Why should I get it?

      Apart from the general advantages above, specifically for us Richwooders we would benefit greatly from:
      • higher internet speeds
      • generally cheaper data packages
      • more reliable connection
      • freedom of choice on data packages (as this is offered by various competing companies)

      How can I get Fibre Connected?

      1. Join our Facebook Group so we can quantify people who are interested: https://www.facebook.com/groups/richwood.fibre/
      2. Show Interest for Octotelhttps://www.octotel.co.za/coverage-map/ (Enter your address to get started -> Show your Interest -> Fill in your details)
      3. Show Interest for Frogfoot (we are still working on getting their contact details)
      4. Show Interest for Vumatelhttps://vumatel.co.za/coverage (Enter your address -> Show my Interest -> Enter details)

      When will Richwood be connected to the Fibre Internet?

      Unfortunately we can not give any ETA yet. The Facebook Group was created to connect with people with the same interests. Installing FTTH is unfortunately not cheap and roads have to be dug up, which is why we need to show greater interest towards companies such as Vumate, Frogfoot or Octotel so they will invest in our neighbourhood.

      The good news: Richwood is surrounded on both roads (N7 + Tygerberg Valley Rd) with Dark Fibre. Additionally surrounding areas are already getting connected (Table View, Burgundy Estate, Bothasig, etc.) - so technically and physically it is very much possible.

      It's now on ISPs to catch-up on our area.

      What is it going to cost me?

      Packages will differ depending on which provider will connect our neighbourhood. As an example though:
      • 20 Mbit Wifi from Wibre/PCN: R1553 per month (uncapped)
      • 90 Mbit LTE from Telkom: R799 per month (capped + throttled after certain usage, speeds will vary)
      • 40 Mbit VDSL from Afrihost: R1767 per month (uncapped) 
      • 100/100 Mbit Fibre from Frogfoot + PCN: R999 per month (uncapped)
      It is very clear that Fibre will give the cheapest, fastest and most reliable internet connection compared to other mediums.

      What are the alternatives?

      Check out the following blog-post for more information on alternative internet solutions to fibre for our area.

      Lets though pray that we won't have to use an alternative for too much longer ;)

      Thursday, 16 February 2017

      Hoaxes of Facebook uncovered: The "Sticker Gang"


        In text:

        URGENT
        ALL DOG OWNERS
        BE AWARE :-
        KEEP AN EYE OPEN FOR SMALL COLOURED STICKERS ON GATES, WALLS, FENCES AND DOORS. GANGS ARE MARKING HOW MANY DOGS LIVE, IN THE PROPERTY, TO STEAL THEM. THEY ARE USING THEM FOR DOG BAIT FOR FIGHTING DOGS, AND DOG FIGHTING!!!!!
        RED: STICKER FOR BIG DOGS YELLOW: STICKER FOR MEDIUM DOGS
        PINK: STICKER FOR SMALL DOGS
        IF YOU SEE ANYTHING SUSPICIOUS,
        PLEASE CONTACT THE POLICE OR YOUR NEAREST SPCA.

        This was recently shared on our Richwood Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Richwood.WC/posts/10155005343092953 - though originally a photo posted/uploaded in the "Lost and Found Pets Edgemead/Bothasig" Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154959839877154&set=gm.1086294001497088&type=3&theater

        I'll be honest. I know pictures say more than words, but I react very allergic on such shared pamphlets. Especially those with a big and bold title "URGENT" or "CAREFUL", because they just cry for too much attention.

        Apart from the spelling errors and the multiple exclamation marks, I was very suspicious on the content itself - or in other words: it just did not make any sense, and it left me with more questions than answers. Why would a criminal raise the risk by visiting the target site a second time instead of stealing the dog the first time? Why even leave traces in form of a sticker, only for it to be found by the owner who would then just tighten up the security? Why not just use a map of the area or even a smartphone? Is it not cheaper to just breed dogs for those usage? And why am I hearing about this the first time?

        I mean, it even seems like some have already been targeted!




        Fortunately the logo at the bottom left corner is real, DBV SPCA does exist - it is an organisation to help animals (simplified version of what they do, so if you are into that, just support them) and they do have a website: https://capespca.co.za/ - with a very competent and helpful media spokesperson (Belinda) who was kind enough to answer some of the questions I had via email - with the first answer directly being:

        We can confirm that the image below did not originate from the SPCA and is in fact a hoax. Dog fighting is however a very real threat to not only our animals but to society as well. I have answered some of your questions below, let me know if you require any further information.

        Interesting. My suspicions were in fact correct. The image being shared is nothing but a hoax, a lie. There is currently no evidence that can back it up, but most importantly it was not created by SPCA, nor is being endorsed by them!

        Some further questions were answered as well:

        How many of such cases are known per year?
        We have no reason to believe that the "sticker gang" is real. The SPCA logo has been used without our knowledge and as a movement we do not endorse this message.

        In what areas are dog fights popular (e.g. is this even a Cape Town problem? If so, which suburbs?)
        Dog fighting in Cape Town is very real. With varying levels of engagement in this blood sport, participation is widespread across all socio-economic sectors.

        Why is it important to steal dogs, wouldn't it be risk freer and cheaper to breed dogs for fighting?
        Breeding a winning bloodline is expensive.  A dog with all the physical characteristics of good fighting capabilities are targeted potentially for breeding and fighting purposes. Small breeds / very submissive animals are stolen for bait purposes - explained further below.

        What is "dog bait"?
        Bait dogs suffer the worst fates imaginable and are essentially the dogs used to train fighting dogs to attack. Picked for their submissive demeanours and unwillingness to fight, they become the practise dogs to encourage unbridled aggression, often with their mouths taped shut to ensure no injury to the attacker.  These dogs can be used over and over again until they are eventually killed or left to die. The attached article will provide you with more information on the training process and the use of bait animals.

        So why would this even bother me to write a blog article about it? Well with all the chatter about fake-news on Facebook and Donald Trump becoming president, this is sadly something that is real and I had to experience as well. People will share things without checking the facts as long as it fits their narrative. Why did the person original upload this image? I can't tell as she did not reply to my messages. Maybe she just wanted to troll, maybe she wanted to spread some good old fear amongst others - I would not know.

        People are just naively believing what some stranger shared on the internet without even checking the facts - or using just a pinch of common sense in first place.
        We have enough real problems in our community (like does nobody smell that stinky air pollution from that caltex refinery??), and also a bunch of great people helping out - no reason to spread false information.

        Saturday, 28 January 2017

        How to simply save R10 on Weet-Bix!

          The pricing scheme in Cape Town (or maybe whole of South Africa even?) always baffled me. I am used to a pricing scheme where there is a price reduction on higher quantities, but shopping here might not show any difference on larger quantities or have even the opposite effect.

          For example Cell-C, for many years would sell different sized data bundles but the bundles would always break down to the same price per unit (in this case MB) - this has only changed recently, so buying larger bundles today actually effects a cheaper price per unit/MB.

          Now with groceries I am seeing something similar, and every now and then I would even see the opposite pricing scheme being put in place. Meaning: the smaller the package, the lower the price per broken down unit.

          So let me explain how we saved almost R10 on buying Weet-Bix at the Shoprite in Bothasig as it was pretty obvious:


          vs.


          There were different Weet-Bix packages in the shelf, the main difference was the weight. The first picture is of the 450g box priced at R18,99 - one would assume the box with double the weight of 900g (e.g. second picture) would be at a minimum double the price, if not even slightly cheaper.
          However the math tells a different story: 2 x R18,99 = R37,98 😱

          Thats right, the 900g box is almost R10 more expensive than just getting two of the smaller 450g box which would equal to the same weight!

          I am sure this is not news to a lot of peeps, but meant as a reminder: always check & compare the prices! This can be done across different products and packaging by looking at the price per unit:


          So watch the price, sometimes less is more ✌

          (This blog post is meant as an example and the prices were accurate on the date of the picture but do not necessarily reflect current prices)

          Review: Pest Control Specialists AJ's & Sons


            Who would have known that within a week of installing a wifi dish (*cough* UniFi please do a better job securing your outdoor devices against insects! *cough*) it would already be housing a tennis ball sized wasp nest!?

            Well surely we did not know that, and the only way we can explain this is that the technician had honey on his fingers still from his breakfast 😄... Jk, apparently wasps have very random reasons to house in a place as long as its comfortable/suiting.

            Anyways, we were very lucky and happy to find the amazing pest control specialists from "AJ's & Sons" to our rescue who were also comfortable removing wasp nests - which is not always given. The communication was done via email and WhatsApp and we were able to get it done even during the festive season.

            The specialist who came along, was very friendly and happy to educate us a little about the insects and even "proudly" showed us the dead wasp nest in his hands. It amazed us quite how quick these insects can build a house.
            He was highly efficient and equipped with a portable ladder (the wifi dish was mounted on the top of a wall) he was in and out in less than an hour. He use a manual pressure pump to spray some liquid on the spot.

            We were very satisfied with their work that we requested their service just a week later for our cockroach infestation and sure enough we were impressed again.

            It is always a good sign if they use a special gel that works as a roach bait instead of gas-bombing your place. It takes up to 6 weeks for a full effect, but comes with a 9 month warranty.

            I am assuming they are using similar baits as described in the video below (which is super informative btw.), but it is made in such a way that the gel can bait roaches over a long term of many months. Also they are much more experienced, know the cockroach hot spots and can therefore work through a house very quick.




            Cons

            • absolutely none...

            Pros

            • Fast and uncomplicated communication via email & WhatsApp
            • Highly efficient worker
            • Friendly and helpful
            • Only eco friendly methods that are safe for the whole family and pets
            • Very reasonable pricing comparable to the competition
            Recommendation: 💯


            AJ's and Sons Pest Control Specialists (from Edgemead) | www | @ | 021 558 0758 | fb

            Sunday, 15 January 2017

            Review: Wireless Internet from Wibre

              Like with many things, Richwood seems to be that forgotten spot in the map thus having only very limited internet availability and options. According to some sources the next DSLAM is somewhere in Edgemead, so impossible to get any fast ADSL line over that distance.

              Ironically though, we are surrounded by live fibre routes according to Seacom and DFA (N7 and Tygerberg Valley Rd), yet the only thing available is 2Mbit "VDSL" (really Telkom?) in most of the places in Richwood - or alternatively LTE.
              But maybe this is good news - kinda forces one to break free from Telkom who have not managed to install my ADSL line after the third attempt (we took over the house where ADSL was working, so go figure).

              Seacom Fibre Availability in Richwood, Cape Town
              Seacom Fibre Availability in Richwood, Cape Town

              Fortunately Wibre came to the rescue. Don't be confused though, it is PCnetwork under the hood. PCnetwork itself offers various products, some of them marketed and branded with their own name + website, such as wibre.co.za or getfibre.co.za. There offerings are basically similar to Afrihost, from ADSL, Webhosting to Fibre connectivity.
              In addition PCnetwork plays the role of an WISP (wireless internet service provider) and can connect your house via a point-to-point WiFi dish to the Internet. This was done on our side (CPE) with an airMax Rocket M5 from Ubiquiti Networks.
              The whole process of getting Wibre starts by booking a site survey over their website. Two very friendly and competent technicians will then check the availability from your premise. If everything looks fine they will book in a second appointment to do the actual installation.

              The PCnetwork technicians - unlike Telkom - are actually pretty well trained and have a very good and broad understanding of Network installations (and always super friendly). They neaten up the cable from outside to the house with a hot glue gun and finalise the installation by configuring the router - in my case a Mikrotik Routerboard RB750.
              You will notice the installed hardware is pretty much industry standard and top notch.


              airMax Rocket M5 + Dish on the highest point of the House
              airMax Rocket M5 + Dish on the highest point of the House


              I went with the 20Mbit residential package which gives me full-speed locally (via: http://speedtest.cpt.mweb.co.za/):


              And a little over half-speed to London, UK (via http://www.speedtest.net):


              VOIP is unfortunately not offered for the residential packages, but since I did need a proper landline to make phone calls and also be available cheaply, I went with the offerings from Nexus + a VOIP to analogue converter. Both working perfectly together.

              Cons

              • It took almost a full month for the installation to be completed (from first week of December until end of December) - point given, festive season, and they had some other unrelated outages - also their installation is a little more sophisticated than connecting an existing copper line...
              • Initially I was connected to Plattekloof which unfortunately brought a lot of disconnects and packet drops (most probably due to interference), a switch to Milpark fixed all of those issues. Unfortunately during the switch of the dishes the quality of "neathing things up" dropped, so I am left with a hanging cable on my roof: https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DLKzX7UNoyM/WHtDW0p6YVI/AAAAAAAAAGU/dW7S3mi_tbw3ogXqtt4C99mtGqkgqlb4wCEw/s1600/IMG_0659.jpg Update 2017-02-01: this has kindly been fixed by PCN/Wibre
              • No access to the router
              • They won't allow to setup their DNS servers directly (and add Google's Public DNS as a third fallback option), so all my DNS requests always go first via the router Update 2017: this has kindly been fixed/helped with by PCN/Wibre
              E.g. I have a feeling most of the initial hassle could have been avoided if the technicians were better prepared, did a better site survey and had all of their tools ready at all times. 

              Pros

              • Their support is very quick, so even though I do not have direct access to the router they do handle port-forwarding requests very fast and professional
              • Works on any weather, be it super windy or rainy
              • Speed and Latency are superb! E.g. VOIP, Netflix, Youtube in a larger house hold not a problem at all!
              • Most probably one of the most competent people in the ISP industry I had to deal with (please keep up that quality PCnetwork!)

              All in all I am the happiest I can be. My internet is double as fast as it would have been possible with ADSL (well 10x, since I would only be getting 2Mbit here anyways - but lets just assume the maximum would be possible), it is cheaper and more stable than LTE and I am now completely independent of Telkom.

              The only thing that might top it would be an actual fibre connection - which is not going to come anytime soon to Richwood. And even then, I'd most probably still want to keep Wibre as a backup line.

              Recommendation: 💯

              Update 2018-05-01: After being with them for a year and a half, I can still fully recommend them if fibre is not available. There have been some outages, mainly due to me being far away from the connecting point where then other signals can be interfering.
              I am being throttled however, so I seldom reach 20Mbit, but rather have a steady 10Mbit. It's still fair though given that the quality of all is pretty good (service + bandwidth) and they do have good peerings with important CDN edges locally (such as Cloudflare, Netflix, Fastly, etc.).