There are few cities where extreme affluence and extreme poverty exist in close proximity. Like a number of other developing economy cities, Johannesburg has those examples. In the north-east of the city lies the suburb of Alexandra, which was designated a ‘black township’ in South Africa’s apartheid days. It is now has small, overcrowded and run-down houses combined with shanty-town shacks. Less than 15 minutes drive from ‘Alex’, as it is called, is Sandton, the most affluent area on the African continent.
I was in Alex yesterday afternoon, helping an NGO which is part of my church, Rosebank Union, to host a Christmas party for primary school children in the area. I spend time on Saturday mornings teaching computer studies to kids from Alex, but the teaching college is on the outskirts and so I don’t often need to drive into the suburb. However, driving into the centre of Alex, to the community centre where the party was held, opened my eyes once again to the grinding poverty of many South Africans. Seeing the conditions that they live in made me appreciate all that I have, and less willing to tolerate those South Africans who complain about minor issues. At the end of the party, all the kids got fed, were given a small present, and a basic food parcel.
I then drove north to Fourways, an area which has developed in the last 15 years to the Design Quarter shopping centre, for a 27dinner evening. The experience of walking in to the centre was almost surreal, it felt like I had suddenly jumped to somewhere in Europe or North America. I wondered whether any of the affluent (mainly white) people sitting in the restaurants around the centre knew how life was being lived in a run-down suburb a few kilometres away.
The cultural extremes between Alex and Fourways kept running through my mind during the evening. For foreign visitors, I would now strongly recommend that they include half a day during their trip to go through Alex and then drive to Sandton.
I was shocked recently to hear that a previous employer, ProActive Integrators, one of the larger SYSPRO VARs in South Africa, had closed its doors. As with a large Sage VAR, the MIS Group in the US, it seems that a combination of market conditions and financial issues forced the company to cease business. I wish Duncan, Eugene, Bev, Ray and all the other people there, all the best and trust in God’s blessing for them.
For at least ten years I have worked on PCs that use Microsoft Office productivity software (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint), at work and home. However, the PC at home had an old version of Office (either 2000 or XP) and did not have PowerPoint; this became a major problem for my youngest child who needed PowerPoint for some school work. So she took matters into her own hands, got a CD of Office 2007 from a friend and loaded all the Office software on the home PC. Unfortunately, she was unaware that Office needs a product key, and since we could not find one, my eldest child decide to uninstall the software, leaving our home PC without any Office software at all (the CD of the old Office version was long lost). That created a difficulty for me as my Outlook .PST file, with six years of personal email, was on that PC.
No problem, I thought, I can buy a new version of Office from a local retail outlet; that was where my first lesson in Office started. Lesson 1: The cheapest version of Office – Home and Student Edition - has Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, and currently costs about R900 in South Africa (list price). When I asked for a version that includes Outlook, I was astounded to learn that it would cost over three times as much, and the version that has all the Office software (including Visio and Groove) costs over seven times as much.
I remembered that I could use Outlook Express as that came standard with Windows, so I bought the Home and Student version and thought I had all my problems sorted out. Then came the next lesson, in fact two. Lesson 2: Outlook Express did not have an import option for Outlook, so I went searching on Google for a solution and found out that you cannot import an Outlook .PST into Outlook Express unless Outlook is installed on the same PC. Lesson 3: I also found out that Microsoft had replaced Outlook Express with Windows Live Mail.
Thinking that I might get better support for my problem with Windows Live Mail, I downloaded the Live Mail installer, and was impressed that it was less than 2Mb. Lesson 4: The installer is only a stub, when you run it, the following files are downloaded from a Microsoft site (note: I also opted to install a Microsoft application called Family Care):
- - Application Error Runtime
- - Visual Studio Runtime
- - Communications Platform
- - Junk Mail Filter
- - Live Update Tool
- - Live Sign-in
- - Installer
- - Choice Guard
- - Search Enhancement
- - Synch Framework Runtime
- - Synch Framework Services
- - Toolbar
- - Family Safety
After I got Windows Live Mail set up and running, I discovered Lesson 5: Windows Live Mail does import from Outlook Express, but has no import from Outlook. I thought I was screwed, until I realised that my work laptop (which is still on Windows XP) had Outlook and Outlook Express. This lead to Lesson 6: how to finally import my .PST file into Live Mail, the steps were:
- copy the .PST file from the home PC to the work laptop using a memory stick,
- create an Outlook profile on the work PC to use the .PST file,
- start Outlook Express and import data from Outlook using the profile I had just created,
- copy the Outlook Express storage directory (it’s not a simple file like Outlook) from the work laptop to the home PC using a memory stick,
- start Windows Live Mail and import the Outlook Express data from the storage directory on the memory stick.
By this time, I had finally recovered my history of emails, but from the time of buying the Office software to having emails available again took me over five hours.
Now I am ready to start being a Windows Live Mail user at home, and also wondering whether or not there is value in moving to a web-based mail service like Gmail.