Category: Tech


Something that I have idly been pondering for a few weeks now has to do with the renaming of streets. Durban, the most populous city in KwaZulu-Natal has renamed a lot of them in the last decade or so. Since I mentioned it obliquely on Twitter (1, 2) earlier, I thought I would write it up here. Durban has probably gone further than most large South African cities with regards to renaming roads and streets. (Certainly I have heard more about it there, but that might be proximity). Many of these are uncontroversial, where a road described what it did and now commemorates someone. * “Ruth First Highway” is a better name than “Northern Freeway”. * Old Fort Road ran in front of the Old Fort and is now KE Masinga Road. Others have changed who was commemorated, which can raise hackles: * Jan Smuts Highway was renamed to King Cetswayo Highway. * Stanley Copley Drive is now RD Naidu Drive Still others have links to other places, usually the places the people who built the area are from: * Blair Atholl Road is now Rodger Sishi Road * Kensingston Drive has become Adelaide Tambo Drive (The full list is available on […]


Borehole Grapher/Mapper

As part of AEON‘s baseline study in the Karoo, a group of my colleagues are undertaking a large scale hydrocensus in the area near the Western Cape/Eastern Cape boundary. At the moment, this entails visiting a large number of boreholes, recording some general information about them, and, where possible, recording the electro-conductivity of the borehole. They are also going to be doing other tests. The ultimate goal of this is to narrow down which boreholes we will be monitoring on a recurring basis. This has lead to a large amount of readings, associated with a given depth, being recorded. Excel is painful to use, because there is no consistency in the depth of boreholes, so while some tests may only have 20 readings, there is one with nearly 300. This precludes automated graphing in Excel. So, I have written a Python script to do this for me (mostly as practice, but hey, this will be pretty useful for the people actually working on it). I got this working adequately, and then realised that since I have coördinates for each borehole, I could graph the results. Looking around, I settled on leaflet.js to do the mapping part of it. As such, […]


Dasher – Non-traditional Input Methods

Just a short note to prevent this being submerged in a tidal wave of baking and food. Today a friend of mine pointed me at Dasher ( ), which is a dynamic input program. Basically, it allows you to do away with a traditional keyboard, and have your input be based on a lexicon. What this means is that it take predictive text, but you only need one finger (or IR pointer on your head or a mouse or whatever) to actually type. One thing that I have already noticed is that you need to have a pretty good idea of what you want to type before starting, or you end up getting lost. I have installed it on my handbrain (which is what the characters in Howard Tayler’s webcomic call PDAs and mobile phones), as an experiment, and I pity the poor sap who tries it next. I have found it fairly intuitive, except for punctuation, on first use. The software is also available for normal desktops. My technology is slowly becoming unusable for anyone else though, given that I am running Linux with a tiling window manager (Arch Linux with SpectrWM if anyone cares) on my laptop. […]