How could our calendar be better?

We have a very set calendar. The whole world works on it. There’s not much we can do about this now, but what if we wanted to, what if we wanted to structure it better? I got into a conversation recently, and I noted how convenient it was discussing dates in March, while in February, ’cause February is a beautiful 28 days long this year, 28 days = 4 weeks, which means that if the 11th of February is a Tuesday, the 11th of March will be one too, this can be convenient. The conversation progressed and a new calendar was born.

Our current Gregorian calendar has pretty much been in place since the 1500s,  based on the rotation of the Earth around the sun and some historical factors. The Gregorian calendar had but a few minor alterations on the Julian calendar which had been in force since BC times. I would never suggest changing too much, start small, but don’t try break everything at once.

A year is 365 days long 3/4 times, roughly. We keep the leap system, it’s a great approximation, doesn’t need any messing with and the year numbering system won’t be of any concern for us for a very long time. Months however, that’s where things start getting annoying. They’re all different lengths. But why. Some people give offhand comments to the Lunar cycles, I don’t really care.

365 is an awkward number, however, take a day off and you get 364. Know what 364 factors into nicely? 7. That’s right. How convenient is that. So my proposition is  52 weeks of 7 days with an extra day. That’s not really at all different to how we currently function though. My first goal is to take that extra day, and instead of designating it Monday or Tuesday, it will be called New Years Day. Some people will recognise it as a holiday, others not, either way, it won’t be a day in the week, it will just be a day. That way you can have the start of each year starting on the same day. 31 December is a Sunday, then we have new years day, then we have 1 January which is a Monday.

But this doesn’t help that much; now we have 52 weeks. Know what 52 divides into nicely? That’s right, 4. Exactly 4 weeks per month. I propose 13 months of 4 weeks each. This means that every month, if the 1st is a Monday, the 1st of the next month will be one too. How cool is that. No more hassles about figuring out what the date of the weekend in May is, it’s the same date as the one in April. So this is easy enough, all you need is to think up the name of our new 13th month and chuck it in somewhere.

One thing I’ve neglected is our balancing leap years. To solve this problem without stuffing up our calendars, I propose a 2nd New Year’s day. It can either be placed directly after our current New Year’s day, or we can place it at an arbitrary point in the year, where ever we want.

Now as great as my idea is, it does have some downfalls/drawbacks. The biggest of which is the honouring of birthdays or other significant dates. But this isn’t too much of an issue. For most events, it’s the date itself that is important, not where it falls in the year. various countries days’ of independence, the 27th of April is the date that is important, not that it falls 117 days into the year. Events where the time of year is important, such as Easter, are anyway calculated anew each year.

The only major impact comes in the form of dates which will no longer exist. The 29th of April for example. There best way to handle this in my opinion is to move all of these dates to the new month, as it will be bare and boring. So anything (this includes birthdays (may affect ID numbers)) occurring on 29-31 Jan will now occur on 1-3 <insert awesome new month name here>, 29-31 March will become 4-6 of the same month. Easy, besides some historically important dates, but if we have a look at the following xkcd, we can see that in general earlier dates are more interesting:

So to summarise.

  • Year begins on New Year’s Day, which is not part of the week.
  • After New Year’s Day is the 1st of January
  • The year is made up of 13 months of 28 days each.
  • During Leap years an additional ‘New Year’s Day’ is added to the calendar

I propose that we start this new calendar at the beginning of 2018. This will be a Monday, and although it’s the second day of the year, will follow on from Sunday 31 Dec 2017. This gives us plenty of time to sort out all the niggles, print the new calendars and start teaching our children the better way. It will make our lives easier I’m sure :)

Once we get this right maybe we can get a start on decimalising time.

Driving Licence system in South Africa

The driving licence system in South African went through an overhaul in 1998 from the old system to the new system. While there have been tweaks to the system over the years, for the majority it’s stayed the same. Here’s a quick summary of the current system, with equivalent codes from the old system.

When the new system was implemented, everyone who had an old licence of the form Code 8, Code 12 etc. was given an equivalent licence in the new letter format, eg. B, EC etc. To this day people still often refer to having a code 12 licence, although the system is not used in practice.

Learner’s Licence
There are three main categories of licences. Light Motor Vehicles, Heavy Motor Vehicles and Motor Cycles. Before you can get either one of these licences, you must first write a learner’s licence exam. This is a 1 hour theory exam, to test your knowledge of the rules of the road. There are three different learner’s licences available, each one applying to a different vehicle class. These licences are:

Code 1: Motorcycles
Code 2: Light Motor Vehicles
Code 3: Heavy Motor Vehicles

A Heavy motor vehicle is considered any vehicle with a GVM over 3,500kg (3.5 tons), and a light motor vehicle anything below. There was talk 2 years ago about combining learners licences so as not to require people who already have a licence to rewrite their learner’s licence, but this was never passed. Currently a Learner’s Licence is valid for 2 years. Once you have a learner’s licence for a vehicle, you are free to drive that vehicle as long as there is a driver licenced for that vehicle in the passenger seat with you. You may drive on freeways, and have additional passengers. If you want to get your Driver’s Licence, you must apply so that your test occurs before your learner’s licence expires. If you have a learner’s licence for a motorcycle, you may drive by yourself (I’ve also heard you’re not allowed passengers, unsure).

You may only apply for a Code 2 Learner’s Licence if you are over the age of 17. For a Code 1 licence you may apply when you are 16 (limited to 125cc). I have heard that you must be 18 before applying for a Code 3 learner’s licence.


Driver’s Licence
For motorcycles there are two licences available. An A, and a A1 licence. An A1 licence you may hold from the age of 17, and is limited to motorcycles with an engine capacity of 125cc or less. You may only get an A licence once you turn 18, and permits you to drive any motorcycle.

Light motor vehicles have two classes. Either a B (old code 7) or an EB (old code 8). The B licence is the standard driver’s licence that most people get. It allows you to drive any Light Motor Vehicle and tow a trailer with a GVM less than 750kg. An EB licence is for the same class of vehicles, but allows you to tow trailers in excess of GVM 750kg. Most people who did their driver’s licence before 1998 were automatically upgraded to an EB licence, whereas most new drivers have only a B licence. This limits one from towing certain caravans and boats which can have GVMs higher than 750kg. You must be 18 years old before you take the test for an LMV licence.

Heavy Motor vehicles have four classes. A code C1 (former code 10) which is for vehicles with a GVM between 3.5 and 16 tons and a code C which is for vehicles with a GVM over 16 tons. Drivers with a code C1 licence are permitted to drive vehicles of class B. Drivers with a code C may drive vehicles covered by both the C1 and B codes.
A code EC1 licence holds the same rights as a C1 licence, but with the inclusion of trailers with a GVM in excess of 750 kg. Likewise an EC licence permits the driver to drive vehicles covered by a C licence with a trailer of GVM in excess of 750kg. The holder of an EC licence, in addition to vehicles covered by a C licence, may also drive EC1 vehicles.

In 2010 reports were issued that drivers who obtained a Heavy Duty Vehicle Licence after January 2011 would not be permitted to drive light motor vehicles. This law was never passed.

To obtain a driver’s licence, you must hold the appropriate learner’s licence and do a practical test for driving that vehicle. The test comprises of a yard test (inclined start and alley docking. Additional three point turn and parallel parking for LMV and additional straight reverse for HMVs). As well as an on the road test, generally along preset routes in general traffic. For each of these you must follow practices specified by the K53 defensive driving system, which has many critics. It is advised that anyone attempting to pass a driving test in South Africa first go for driving lessons with an accredited driving school.

A South African Driver’s Licence must be renewed every 5 years.

SA Driver's Licence

SA Driver’s Licence
Rear and Front

Professional Driver’s Licence
Anyone who wants to drive a motor vehicle for reward (taxi, deliveryman etc.) or anyone driving a Goods Vehicle, or Vehicle able to transport more than 11 people must hold a Professional Driver’s Permit. See my article here for more information. A standard PrDP licence is valid for 2 years.

Other things to note
It is possible to hold a licence which is valid for both an LMV or HMV as well as a motorcycle. You will be issued with one card which displays the separate restrictions, dates etc. for each.
Whatever vehicle you do your licence in will be the vehicle that you are given a licence for. If you drive an automatic vehicle, you will not be permitted to drive manual vehicles.
Whenever you renew your driver’s licence you will be required to do an eye test, this test will dictate whether you are required to drive a vehicle with or without glasses.
A South African Driver’s licence is in the shape of a credit card. Pre-1998, driver’s licences were included in your ID book.

Most of the information here I posted from memory. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, if uncertain, please contact your local Traffic Department for assistance.
Source: General Knowledge and the National Road Traffic Act.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Woes and FNB

Earlier this year I switched to FNB as my main bank. Transition was fairly uneventful. When the Galaxy S4 was released a month or two later, the bank offered it in tandem with a CellC 100 package at a discounted rate, and I decided to try it out.

The major issue for me in these dealings was the lack of store. FNB mobile services are all handled over the phone/internet and devices are delivered. This is a particular hassle as I had to be there in person to collect the package when it arrived at work. Not easy due to where I work and the type of work I do. Anyway.

Received the phone 3 days after scheduled delivery and two phone calls, due to a variety of issues mainly, in my opinion, a lazy delivery man. In any case, Success!

Get home, start up, all good. Connect to wifi, start fiddling. Wifi disconnects… try reconnect, can’t see any APs. Minute later phone reconnects, only to disconnect 10s later… Try everything to get it to work properly, no luck, google issue. People mention certain routers have been known to cause this issue, try out suggested tips. No luck. Go to friend’s house, another friend’s house, Cell-C shop. All WiFi APs result in same problem.

Cell-C won’t take the phone as it came from FNB, phone Samsung SA, they tell me I can take it to service shop where I live. Take it to them, they won’t take it cause it’s still within 7 day return period. Phone FNB, they say no problem they’ll come and collect it. Again, it’s a hassle for me trying to organise collection when I’m available. Anyway, few days later, phone gets collected, probably a week or so after I got the phone.

Another issue was that The CellC simcard I got with the phone wasn’t registering on the network. CellC said that I must speak to FNB, FNB people I contacted (apparently not the correct ones) said I should phone CellC customer care, who were equally helpless. In any case I decided to leave this until I got my phone back. A week after I first received my phone I received an email which told me the sim card would automatically register after 2 days.

So another week later I get a phonecall to say my new phone is going to be delivered to me. Cue another hassle of trying to get phone delivered when I’m available. New phone works 100%, sim-card is registered, everything’s going well.

Two months down the line and my battery life seems to be suffering, lasting me from 06h00 – 20h00 with moderate use, used to be go in excess of 24 hours without requiring a charge. One day my phone was on 70% battery, drops to 0%, restarts itself a couple times, stays off. Open case and take out battery, battery looks swollen :x

Think to myself what a schlep this is going to be going through FNB again, taking my phone etc. Will be without a phone that can take a micro-SIM. Anyway, decide to go straight to local Samsung support shop, walk in, they go in to the back come out with a brand new battery, slot it in and I’m good to go again.

Although I haven’t heard of other people with the same Wi-Fi problem as me, many people are starting to complain about the battery swelling. The battery has a 6 month guarantee, so I’m hoping my next battery lasts. No idea if this is a phone or battery issue. Time will tell.

Zithulele to Bulungula – Mountainbiking on the Wildcoast

This last weekend I got invited out to the Wildcoast for a bit of mountain-biking. A friend had just got himself a bike and was looking to put it through its paces. Another friend who works at a hospital out by Zithulele suggested we do a ride from the hospital out to a backpackers by Bulungula. A relatively short route (15-20km), but certainly challenging.2013-08-25 11.49.48It ended up with 5 of us starting off from Zithulele on Saturday morning at about 10h30. We weren’t in any particular hurry and ended up riding for about 3 hours, including some backtracking, lots of discussions about which route to take and general breaks to take in the stunning scenery and recover from the never ending onslaught of hills.2013-08-24 10.44.13About half the route we ended up doing was on dirt roads of some form, and a lot of the rest was on single track cattle paths which added about of a technical aspect to the ride. The rolling hills mean you get a good dose of killer uphills and flying downhills. One of the most surprising things for me was how many people live out there. Each time you reach the crest of a hill you’re greeted with another view of green fields spotted with houses all over the place.The backpackers can be reached by car, a vehicle with decent ground clearance is probably recommended, but a Citi-Golf and a Ford Bantam were both evident in the parking lot when we arrived. There’s also a shuttle that runs the route (apparently all the way from Mthatha) a couple times a week.2013-08-25 10.23.23The Bulungula Lodge is situated a stone’s throw from the see and Bulungula River mouth. The facilities are rather rustic, but adequate. We shared 4 bedded huts (R140pp), but other options are available. 3 meals are available a day, of which we sampled all starting with some massive toasted sandwiches for lunch when we arrived. Supper was a delicious wors-stew with gnush and stew, and a dessert of Malva Pudding and ice cream was available. A self-service bar including snacks was also located next to the kitchen. Sunday morning we enjoyed a good breakfast of bacon and eggs with beans, toast and tomato.2013-08-25 11.50.30Showers are heated with paraffin ‘rockets’ which provide some warm water for about 7min and enviro-toilets are also provided. The huts have electric lights, but no sockets. There are a few plugs in the communal area, and also a laptop that can be used if you want to use the internet, wi-fi is not available. Cellphone reception is also limited, but can be found out on the beach or in certain areas if required.2013-08-25 10.46.52The backpackers is run mainly by the local community of which there are often people hanging around the area. Not really a problem but a bit odd at times. Crime does not seem to be a problem, doors were only closed (not locked) to keep the goats etc. out. And valuables were often left unattended.2013-08-25 12.51.50Only annoying issue was when trying to checkout (along with 10 other people) took quite a while as each person’s bill has to be manually tallied and added to their accounting system (excel spreadsheet). And only once all had been completed could we go to another room to pay with a debit/credit card. This facility is handy, but inconvenient in this context. Cash is obviously also accepted. There are also a host of activities in which you can take part, but due to our limited time opted against.2013-08-25 09.15.31The Sunday morning we headed back to the Zithulele, choosing one or two paths differently but ultimately doing a very similar route to the one we took to get there. Riding a bit faster but being killed again by the reoccurring hills.

2013-08-25 10.07.51
View of Bulungula Lodge from the beach

The area is absolutely stunning and it was a great experience being able to just hop on a bike and head out into the wilderness picking a route as we pleased. The backpackers was enjoyable, albeit nothing amazing. Other people from the hospital had also hiked to the backpackers all the way along the coast.

Great company, good weather, some tasty food and beautiful scenery made it an all together memorable weekend.