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General Tech

  • Patrick Meier on single-click volunteering, the good side of tech

    “If you can click on a Facebook picture, you can be a digital humanitarian,” author and technologist Patrick Meier says. The old sentiment “Information is power” is so much more pertinent in today’s age where, every minute, over 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube and 300 000 tweets are posted. Beyond all those funny videos of cats getting vacuumed and celebrity twars, there is stuff being done on social media that can make a real difference. Gathering this data and making sense of it all is where the real challenge lies. And it has never been more critical in times...

  • Integration: the big tech trend businesses need to pay attention to in 2015

    As 2015 kicks into high gear for business – there is one technology trend that is the holy grail of businesses looking to expand their footprint – integration. Yet, despite its critical importance to business, most executives still don’t understand exactly what is meant by technology integration. For just about every national and multi-national business, especially those expanding throughout the African continent, integration within supply chains, logistics systems and even communications systems can be the difference between success or failure. So what is integration and why is it so critical for business? A simple definition is that integration is the...

  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX finally launches DSCOVR satellite into deep orbit

    Scanning through Elon Musk’s Twitter feed seems like something out of Interstellar‘s transcript with Matthew Mcconaughey rocketing through space, giving status updates as he goes along. “Can’t delay any longer. Must proceed with primary mission to launch the Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft,” Musk tweeted recently. This tweet came just before space exploration company Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (or just SpaceX) successfully launched an unmanned rocket, Falcon 9, at the Cape Canaveral enabling it to deploy a weather satellite. This is SpaceX’s third attempt to carry the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth to the...

  • I’m still standing, and other achievements with a DeskStand standing desk

    Still standing? That’s the one question I’ve been asked most at my new job, not because I struggle with new pressures but rather because I literally haven’t taken a seat. New colleagues and visitors to our office are the type who really want to make conversation. As the only standing person they are sort of drawn to me. That and there’s this weird thing in front of me. It’s become the latest office fad: standing desks; costing forward-thinking firms millions as they replace cubicles with power-adjustable height desks. But those things are expensive as hell and apparently break easily. Still, I really wanted one...

  • Should emerging markets take a different approach to battling online piracy?

    In the West, the dominant issue touching all content creators, be it TV, movies, books or music, is how best to monetise products in the era of ‘on demand’ and multiple viewing platforms. The battle lines have been drawn between subscription services and pay-as-you-go digital downloads. Recent inroads by Netflix and Spotify suggest that consumers prefer subscription-based models. However, in emerging markets, digital content services have a tougher time gaining traction. This is mostly due to the prevalence of piracy, the same issue that plagued the music industry in the West through the 2000s. Across Africa, Asia and South America,...

  • 5 powerful tech tools that can help you recruit the right people

    Today’s recruiter has a range of powerful tools at his or her disposal to help make the recruitment process more efficient and cost-effective. From online jobs portals to social media, these tools make it easier to reach high-quality applicants, manage the flow of applications, and eventually complete the hiring process. However, recruiters should not treat applicants like online commodities or imagine they can automate their jobs end-to-end. Though it can help recruiters to gather CVs more efficiently and identify suitable candidates faster, technology is no replacement for the art of building relationships. Here are a few tips about how to...

  • Benefiting from the networked economy: he who connects wins

    In this brave new world of the Networked Economy, one adage rings truer than ever: no company is an island. Mobile, cloud, social media and machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies are creating connections between people and organisations in more ways than we have ever seen – and these smarter, faster and more global networks are already starting to transform business in ways never thought possible. How, you ask skeptically. Simple. Today’s business world demands significant interaction with suppliers, trading partners, stakeholders and customers – but many of those interactions still rely on inefficient technologies like phone, e-mail, and so on. What’s more,...

  • Disrupt and dismay: why Cape Town’s metered taxi operators are so upset with Uber

    As always, popular car-hailing app Uber is rubbing some people up the wrong way. Over the past few weeks, the San Francisco tech company has been making headlines in Cape Town, South Africa, with cars getting impounded to protests in the streets. It seems like a classic tale of new technology versus old law, though the disruption reaches far deeper. The Metered Taxi Council of the Western Cape is calling for the service to be shut down. The council argues that the US$40-billion ehailing service is currently flooding the market with illegal operators, and that this monopoly does not bode well...

  • 6 tech events likely to dominate headlines this week

    One of the largest conferences on African ecommerce kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The eCommerce Africa Confex runs for two days and will have executives from companies as diverse as Yuppiechef and PayPal talk about the latest developments and trends in what is fast becoming a crowded space. Memeburn will be in attendance and bring you all the latest news from the event so check back for regular updates. Also on Tuesday entertainment giant Disney will post earnings for its 2015 1st quarter when gamers get to find out whether the Disney Infinity video game...

  • The legal view: what actions can Uber take when it comes to its impounded vehicles?

    The recent controversy surrounding the impoundment of Uber affiliated taxis in Cape Town has highlighted the need for consumers to be more aware of who they do business with. Uber, an app-based transportation platform headquartered in San Francisco, California, launched in Cape Town last year. The company uses a smartphone application to receive ride requests, and then sends these trip requests to affiliated drivers. While Uber affiliated taxis operate much like metered taxis do, they do not use actual meters, relying on electronic pre-payment and GPS to determine the distance covered. Uber has been well received in Cape Town for...

  • 10 slides that tell you everything you need to know about the South African digital landscape

    Ask someone to list the world’s most connected countries and they’ll most likely rattle off names like South Korea, China and — if they’re unaware of the vagaries of cable companies in that country — the US. One country they’re fairly unlikely to mention is South Africa. That sort of makes sense too. After all, the country’s average broadband speed is just 3.6Mbps. That’s significantly slower than the 4.5Mbps global average and a veritable snail’s pace compared with the 25.3Mbps average speed South Korea currently enjoys. That only tells part of the story though. Look a little closer and...

  • When and where should we be using satellites for internet connectivity?

    Surprisingly, the debate surrounding satellite as a feasible and sustainable communication technology continues. Usually these debates discuss satellite as an alternative option to fibre cable networks and how fibre will replace satellite and then, almost inevitably, the conclusion is that satellite will someday, maybe soon, become obsolete. However, as a quick reference and perspective, just consider DStv services. Arguably DStv and other satellite TV distribution networks are some of the most successful mass deployment of satellite technology to the consumer market throughout Africa. Clearly the use of satellite as communication medium for distribution of TV services is effective and highly...

  • 3 strategic tech imperatives for HR in 2015

    The HR and payroll sector is moving at such a fast speed that it can be hard for the casual observer to keep up. As we begin a new year full of challenges and opportunities, let’s review some of the major trends unfolding in this space. 1. The tactical role of HR in the business We all know that South Africa’s economy is facing some difficulties, thanks to a weak Rand, load shedding, and slow growth among the country’s major trading partners. Against this backdrop, HR departments must demonstrate their value to the business and go far beyond simply providing administrative...

  • 4 signs that it is time to replace your ERP system

    The enterprise resource planning (ERP) market is evolving at a rapid pace as a result of technology innovation. At the same time, most businesses are changing themselves as they try to keep up with the frantic pace of business in the digital era. That means that you should always be keeping a close eye on whether your enterprise business applications are keeping up with the changes in your business and its environment as well as whether you are taking full advantage of the today’s technology. It is a good idea to do a frequent gap analysis to see whether your...

  • 5 African media predictions for 2015

    In 2015 African media will reach even greater corners of the world, market researcher IDC predicts. This comes at a time defined by a considerable uptake in the appetite for content from Africa and the Middle East. Once a year, the International Data Corporation gives a detailed overview of the year ahead based on research and analysis from its global network of analysts. Below are some of their predictions that could potentially see a drastic change in Africa’s media landscape over the next 12 months. 1. Increased Netflix-like offerings will create competition In 2015 we’ll see considerable growth in over-the-top (OTT) delivery...