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All posts by Andy Walker: Editor

  • Social media use can make you ‘envious’ of loved ones, study finds

    Social media isn't always as constructive or beneficial as we might believe. While keeping in touch with loved ones and meeting new people is now made much easier, entire Mondays are often wasted browsing Facebook and Twitter (uh... don't look at me). But social media can also have a negative effect on mood and one's emotional stability, according to a new study published by security and research firm Kaspersky Labs. The company, surveying over 16 000 people worldwide, discovered that sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can often leave people feeling upset or "bitter" rather than happy and content. While around 60%...

  • Scientists reveal fake news ‘vaccine’ that doesn’t involve needles

    Fake news is pretty much everywhere now (thanks US Elections), but "inoculating" yourself might be simpler than first thought. Treating the scourge as a "virus", scientists from University of Cambridge, Yale and George Mason have formulated a method that can effectively prevent subjects from internalising and believing fake news. No, it doesn't involve any pricks or psychotic drugs, but it does rely on a simple conditioning technique. When subjects are presented with both a climate change study and a bundle of fake material purporting to be factual, the two pieces of information form an internal conflict. Effectively, this explains why fake...

  • Facebook blocks Russia’s RT prior to Trump inauguration

    Both Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg aren't having the best of weeks. While Zuck is out in Hawaii settling land disputes, Facebook has looked due East, blocking an influential Russian media network. Kremlin-funded RT revealed yesterday that it was briefly blocked from posting multimedia and articles to Facebook. "RT has been blocked from posting content to its Facebook page," the network announced on its website. "The ban, according to the Facebook bot, will last until Saturday 10:55pm Moscow time (2:55pm EST) and will extend across US president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration." According to the company, a live stream rights issue caused the ban...

  • Over 90m people now use Netflix worldwide, more shows incoming?

    Netflix was probably one of the only companies who didn't have a wretched 2016. The streaming media company recorded record profits and subscriber figures in the year, and this week, the company outed its final numbers for the previous annum. "We added 7.05 million net new members globally in the quarter, against our forecast of 5.20 million and last year's Q4 performance of 5.59 million. This was the largest quarter of net additions in our history and was driven by strong acquisition trends in both our US and International segments," the company states in a letter to investors. That beat its...

  • Mozilla’s redesigned logo evokes ‘language of the internet’

    A logo redesign is a process fraught with danger... just ask Instagram if you need a reminder. But free software company Mozilla has taken that very leap of faith, using its community as inspiration. And to be fair, it's new logo is fairly subdued. The creators of Firefox this week unveiled the design, which features a colon and two forward slashes, much like a website's URL would. Mozilla's design head Tim Murray explains that this design is an incorporation of the "language of the Internet" into the company's new identity. "Our logo with its nod to URL language reinforces that the Internet is...

  • Is Vitality’s Apple Watch deal worth it? Cape Town blogger finds out

    Discovery Vitality's Apple Watch deal is undeniably tempting. You buy Cupertino's latest wearable packed with swanky tech, and exercise to drop the eventual price. It sounds like a complete steal in many ways, but is it really? That's what Capetonian and SwimGeek author Joe Botha set out to discover. While he does note that the offering itself is a mixed bag -- the deal will be beneficial and cheaper to different people -- it's definitely not as clear-cut as it seems on paper. "It seems you just have to assume you will get to a 900 points per week goal very soon...

  • CIA goes public with huge online declassified database

    Everyone's favourite intelligence agency, the CIA, has today made 50 years' worth of its research archive available online. This includes the late batch of data from the past 25 years. The agency is required to release declassified files every quarter century, thanks to the Federal Records Act. Previously only accessible via a public terminal system in Maryland, the CIA has migrated the entire archive to the web, allowing practically everyone with a browser and internet connection to access them. Even you, Mr. Snowden. Dubbed CREST, the CIA's archive totals close to 12-million pages of declassified files including around 930 000 documents. And...

  • Vodacom launches Facebook Flex for free status updates, comments

    Vodacom wants to get you updating your Facebook status again, but its new product will let you do this for free. Dubbed Facebook Flex, the product is the "first of many" and will allow Vodacom users to access Facebook's basic version. This means that users can post comments, update their status and keep in touch with others' text posts without depleting their data stores. Vodacom explains that Facebook Flex will aim to reduce the cost of communicating with friends and family in the country. Facebook Flex will allow users to update their status, comment on users' posts but not view photos or...

  • Humans have finally found a way to destroy the Nokia 3310

    Ever since the Nokia 3310 was invented back in 2000, human beings have tried valiantly to destroy it. Dropping it, throwing it against walls, and even driving over the phone with a forklift did little to quell its digital spirit. But now, the hardy device might've finally met its match. Thanks to the ever-curious and destructive hosts of the Hydraulic Press Channel, the Nokia 3310 came face to face with a red hot hydraulic press. The phone is placed side-down below the press, while the press itself grabs hold of a red hot slap of molten metal. Slowly, the press inches...

  • [Update] Cape Town’s burning, again: #DeerParkFire trends on social media

    Update: 17 January, 9am SAST: Last night's #DeerParkFire is all but extinguished on Devil's Peak, after firefighters worked throughout the night to quell the blaze. Residents this morning could see choppers water-bombing areas of the mountain, behind Disa Park. Capetonians also woke to thick smoke and, closer to the affected area, a thick film of ash and soot. Everything's dirty and stinks so bad but we are safe and that's all that matters 🙏🏻 #DeerParkFire pic.twitter.com/mH6rUyAGnl — Leandri (@Leandriii) January 17, 2017 After very hard night, crew of #VWS volunteers stands down from the #DeerParkFire and head to their day jobs. #ThankYou. @KFMza...

  • 4 hilarious #SaltBae parodies that’ll make you cringe

    Salting food has never been this popular, and it's all thanks to #SaltBae. The Turkish-born chef based in Dubai rose to internet stardom after videos of his knife and seasoning skills went viral on Instagram and Twitter. It's no mean feat -- his meteoric rise, and well, slicing meat with such effortless style -- but that won't stop other internet users from emulating the man, or at least poking fun at him. From awkwardly carving avocados to delicately shaving the crusts off a loaf of bread, these parodies will probably inspire you to whip out that cleaver, salt mill and forearm...

  • Facebook debuts ‘fake news’ tools in Germany ahead of elections

    We're only three weeks into the new year, but "fake news" could already be the phrase of the year. After reports suggested that fake news on Twitter and Facebook contributed to Donald Trump's win in last year's US Presidential election, the latter is finally clamping down on the issue. The company has announced new tools to curb fake news in Germany, presumably as a measure ahead of the country's August 2017 elections. "Last month we announced some tests to address the issue of fake news on Facebook," Aine Kerr, the company's manager of journalism partnerships, wrote in a press release. "In the...

  • This novel Russian app wants to be the Uber of the afterlife

    If you didn't know how to market your startup in 2016, there's an easy formula to use. Define your target market, and call your business the Uber of said market. It works, and often gets quoted hundreds of times by us journalists and investors. But an incoming Russian app might've taken this marketing quip a little too far. Named Umer, this app aims to be the Uber of funerals. According to a Russian website, Umer (which literally means "died") will allow people to seamlessly and easily organise funeral arrangements on the fly -- all from the comfort of an app. To...

  • Zimbabwe U-turns on steep data, voice tariff hikes

    Zimbabwe isn't having the best of starts to 2017. The country has faced floods, water shortages and even gold falling from the sky, but the latest issue setting netizens' tongues a-wag is the government's data and voice tariff hikes. The country's local telecoms regulator, POTRAZ, issued new minimum price floors to all data providers, which markedly increased the price of all data packages in the country. The increase was initially aimed at addressing the "under-pricing of voice and data services," POTRAZ noted. But thanks to public outcry and social media onslaught, the regulator has gone back on the decision. "I have directed...

  • Snapchat’s interface becomes human-friendly with universal search bar

    There are a few reasons why Snapchat is an absolute painful experience for many. For one, the app's actual user interaction elements like buttons and gestures are vague and confusing. And it doesn't end there. It's also extremely difficult to find content within the app itself. But this could be about to change. According to a TechCrunch report, Snapchat has unveiled a new universal search bar,that spans the top of each and every page on the app. This means that users -- even if they aren't too sure where they are within the app -- can search for friends, specific Stories...