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  • The problem with iMessage

    iMessage doesn't work. Well, that's not entirely true. It works perfectly well as a traditional text messaging replacement. To a point. The first problem with iMessage is its lack of awareness. It's a simple broadcast bus (think back to parallel connectors used to transfer data between components or computers). At its launch, Apple admitted that iMessage runs on top of its notifications engine (based on XMPP). But that's the problem: it's treating messages -- two-way communication - as what seems to be one-off, one-way bursts. It all syncs, which is great as you're able to be messaged or message (should that...

  • Sick of Skype? Try these 9 alternatives

    Fed up with Skype possibly snooping into your life? There are plenty of alternatives to look to and all of them are free. We look at nine Skype-like apps for getting your chat on. 1. Messages (OSX) Apple’s answer to chat is Messages, the upgrade from the fairly useless iChat app. Currently in beta, Messages has much to prove. Starting with OS X Mountain Lion preview, Messages features text, voice, video calls and screen sharing. Predictably, Messages offers cross-platform compatibility with iMessage, the free iPhone chat service. Messages is free for all Mac OS X Mountain Lion users. 2. Oovoo (Android, iOS,...

  • How Brazil became an internet advertising powerhouse

    Brazil is a making waves in the tech world. A growing number of tech startups are emerging from the Latin American country and it's investing heavily in tech infrastructure. Small wonder then that online advertising is also on the rise. In a 2011 survey, IBOPE (a large media and marketing firm in Brazil), sheds some light on why Brazil is showing a surge in advertising spend within their home market. Total advertising spend in Brazil rose 15.8% year-on-year when comparing the numbers from 2010 to 2011. This huge jump means a move to BRL88.32-billion (US$52.89-billion) spend on advertising...

  • How hot cross buns caused a social media storm

    Which seasonal food do you think is capable of working people into an emotionally fuelled social media frenzy? Christmas gammon? Thanksgiving turkey? Actually, it turns out the answer is hot cross buns. Well, it’s a little more specific than that. The real controversy surrounds South African retail outlet Woolworths putting Halaal stickers on its hot cross buns. Owing to the baked good’s association with Easter, a group of Christians took to social media and email to protest Woolworths declaring them fit for Muslim consumption: Receiving a few emails from Christians who are upset that @WOOLWORTHS_SA hot cross buns are halaal....

  • Review — Verbatim Bluetooth Audio Cube

    Verbatim’s Bluetooth Audio Cube is utter tosh. It’s too bulky, the buttons are too fiddly and it needs 4 AA batteries to run if you want a cord free music experience. But, it sounds decent. Stuff the positives. Let’s tear it apart I say. Boxy sound For roughly US$35, the Audio Cube pumps out 2 Watts of pure portable power. Whether corded, connected to your laptop or mobile phone via the A2DP Bluetooth standards, the Audio Cube smoothly rubs out audio, pumps bass and generally behaves rather well, that is until you max the sound out.var vglnk={key:"cc324b6567a9637aa0ff15bc9564b2a5"};!function(e,a){var t=e.createElement(a);t.type="text/javascript",t.async=!0,t.src="//cdn.viglink.com/api/vglnk.js";var n=e.getElementsByTagName(a);n.parentNode.insertBefore(t,n)}(document,"script");

  • Turn a Twitter feed in toilet paper? Sounds…cathartic actually

    Ah, your Twitter feed. It amuses, angers, and sometimes even inspires you. Surely there should be a way for the tweets on it to live on beyond the time you spend reading them. Well there is. Sort of. It comes in the form a brand new service from a company called "Shitter" that turns "one or more feeds from your Twitter account" into four rolls of toilet paper, delivered straight to your door. Given the product’s blunt name, it’s probably unsurprising that the guys behind it appear to be proud Aussies, having previously worked on a digital tribute to...

  • Draw something: The latest smartphone craze [Infographic]

    The recent purchase of new mobile game, Draw Something, by social game giant Zynga shows just how much of a sensation this game, launched earlier this year, really is. Draw Something creator OMGPOP is rumoured to have sold to Zynga for between US$180-210-million in cash and employee retention payments. That is a lot of change for a game only two months on the market. Then again it is a sensation. The game has been downloaded 37-million times since going live. It has more than one-billion drawings so far, so of course Zynga was willing to drop some significant moolah...

  • YouTube goes wild for Anchorman sequel announcement [Video]

    Quick, what’s the most anticipated sequel of 2012? A few days ago titles such as The Dark Knight Rises and The Bourne Legacy would've been the obvious answers. That all changed last night with the announcement of Anchorman 2. Will Ferrell made the announcement in full Ron Burgundy mode on Conan O'Brien's talk show. YouTube’s hit counter is stuck on 883 views, but the 10 000 plus likes suggest the video is a hell of a lot more popular than that. Burgundy’s jazz flute skills alone make the video well worth watching. The news also trended globally on Twitter,...

  • Indie darling Fez drops onto XBLA 13 April

    We've harped on about Fez before on Gearburn. Simply put, it's one of the most exciting independent games ever made. On 13 April, Fez will launch on Xbox Live (XBLA) for the price of 800 Microsoft Points, or US$10. No other platforms have been considered, for now. Fez is all about the Zen-like trip through three-dimensions. The adorable pixel art plays to the strengths of Fez, letting the player rotate the 2D world on a 3D axis to solve intricate puzzles. For well over five years, Fez has been locked inside development hell. Announced in April 2007, it is...

  • Google puts blind man behind the wheel of its self-driving car [Video]

    Google’s self-driving car. Is it really worthwhile, or is it an example of one of the products that should have been axed in Larry Page’s “more wood behind fewer arrows” purge? Whatever your feelings on the project, Google claims it’s now travelled some 200 000 miles (321 868.8 km ). To celebrate that milestone, the company has released a video showing off one experiment it conducted with the car. The experiment centres around a man called Steve who joined Google “for a special drive on a carefully programmed route to experience being behind the wheel in a whole new...

  • Nando’s offers Helen Zille a tastier alternative to a foot in the mouth

    If anyone shows how easy it is to go from the highest of highs on Twitter to the lowest of lows, it’s Helen Zille. Late last year, people were talking about how well she used the medium. Some even suggested she could be an example to everyone from major brands to Kim Kardashian. How things have changed. Zille’s seemingly uncensored rants, troll feeding and lobbed insults are a far cry from the tweets she was sending out in 2011. In fact, Zille has now reached the point where she's become the punchline in a Nando's campaign. If you’re wondering...

  • Twitter mourns feminist poet Adrienne Rich

    News of the death of American poet Adrienne Rich reverberated across Twitter, becoming a top globally trending topic just moments after it was first tweeted. The news broke on Twitter before it was published by any mainstream media. My deepest bows to Adrienne Rich, 4the power of her life, her presence, her words. May we all work toward her "dream of a common language."—T Tempest Williams (@TempestWilliams) March 28, 2012 Just got very sad news: the poet Adrienne Rich has died.— John McMurtrie (@McMurtrieSF) March 28, 2012 Given Twitter’s propensity for killing off high-profile people on regular occasions, it’s hardly surprising...

  • ‘Pull to refresh’ — Yep, Twitter is patenting that

    No? Seriously? I was just reading Sarah Perez's latest column over at TechCrunch and it seems Twitter wants to patent "pull to refresh". You know that thing your official Twitter client does when you need to refresh your feed? Yep, Twitter is getting a lock down on that. I never really noticed that you couldn't do it with other apps, especially core iOS or Android ones. As Perez points out, however, none of these companies can actually implement this while Twitter is in the middle of a patent application. The application is titled: "User Interface Mechanics" and the inventor...

  • Konza Technology City: Does Kenya really need it?

    Konza Technology City, better known simply as, “Konza City”, is a multi-billion dollar totem of Kenya’s vision of a “Silicon Savannah”, a hat tip to the legendary Silicon Valley in the US. It’s an ambitious 20 year, 2 000 hectare, US$14.5-billion new town project endorsed by the Kenyan government which aims to make Kenya a middle-income country by 2030. The city will be built 64 kilometers South of Nairobi, in Konza, Machakos county and will feature a technology park, science park, university campus, international business district as well as space for other commercial and residential properties. Konza City and the technology...

  • 4 Reasons someone should get Helen Zille away from Twitter

    Last year I wrote a piece for Memeburn about ways I felt Helen Zille was using Twitter well. She was controversial even back then, but I liked her for four reasons: She was responsive She was unscripted She was active and She had a sense of humour Overall, I loved the fact that she was both accessible and real. No PR gloss: you got Helen pretty much undiluted. I didn’t mind the sarcasm; somehow it lent her a certain appealing authenticity. A year later and Helen Zille is still all of those things, but something has changed. From being appealingly frank,...