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  • Sina Weibo introduces new user policy, effectively censors free speech

    One of China’s most popular microblogging platforms, Sina Weibo, is set to introduce a new user policy which restricts free speech on the service and can be used to punish those who criticise the government. The policy, which is currently described as a ‘trial’ which will come into full effect on 28 May, has a lot of new requirements for the platform’s 300 million users. Among them is the stipulation that users cannot create or share content that harms the "unity" or "integrity of the nation", disrupts the stability of society, promotes rumour mongering or calls for illegal gatherings or...

  • 22seven opens to public

    With all the hype and drama surrounding the launch of personal finance app 22seven, it's hard to believe it's been in beta all this time. All that's about to change. That's right, the product that generated massive online buzz and was blocked, then embraced, by banks is finally opening up to the public. The company claims that in the three months since its beta launch, it's been "fixing bugs, getting feedback from users", and "gauging how much 22seven is helping people do more with their money". 22seven also claims the site people find tomorrow will include a couple of...

  • Storm warnings: the next big Kenyan mobile innovation?

    Some pretty impressive mobile innovations have come to the world's attention after Kenyan success. MPesa and Ushahidi come to mind immediately. Now a couple of organisations in the country want to use SMS to warn farmers about potential disasters. According to The Next Web, the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) thinks that some 7 500 coffee farmers in the Nairobi and Mount Kenya regions could be receiving SMSes from an automated warning system by the end of the year. The IICD has built the system in collaboration with the Progreso Foundation and Frontline SMS. Together the organisations will...

  • Could in-store navigation tech be a shopper’s worst nightmare?

    So GPS is great, but it has its limitations. As soon as the satellites can’t see you; your signal is lost. This is particularly true when you are trying to find your way around a shopping centre or an unfamiliar airport. Luckily for all directionally challenged shoppers out there, Fraunhofer (Europe’s largest application-oriented research organization) will allow in-store or in-mall navigation by allowing your device to communicate with small sensors scattered strategically throughout the building. The system (currently called MST-SmartSense Sensor) is activated when you scan a QR code. This scanned QR code then automatically fixes your current position in the...

  • Hey avatard: Screw your twibbons, find a real cause

    Twibbons, green-tinted avatars, and dare I say it, hashtagging Kony2012. Sure they make you feel great but they do they actually make a difference? Not really. Former rock 'n roll roadie and manic professional speaker Rich Mulholland has a term for anyone who engages in this kind of online behaviour: Avatard. Tinting your Twitter avatar green has about as much impact as walking around with a piece of green plastic in solidarity with the people of Iran, said Mulholland in his presentation at Net Prophet 2012. He has a point. You showed your support. Big whoop. You get to feel to...

  • What Scott Thompson’s fake CV teaches us about tech’s engineering cult

    The discovery that Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson has been claiming to have a Computer Science degree for years, and did not correct statements that identified him as an "engineer" is not surprising given the strong "cult of the engineer" that is prevalent in Silicon Valley. According to Kara Swisher at All Things D, Thompson did not deny he had a computer science degree in a 2009 interview: Moira Gunn asked him a direct question about his college degrees, specifically noting they were in accounting and computer science. "And that's really the background that I have, and it started back in...

  • How you can use Twitter to map people’s emotions

    There are all sorts of tools out there for measuring social media sentiment. They're incredibly useful to brands and journalists alike. But what if you could use Twitter to map people's emotions geographically? Surely that would be even more useful A few weeks ago, I spoke at a federal agency conference in Arlington, Viriginia and one of the most interesting topics was the potential use of social media, by intelligence agencies, to map out and predict social unrest. So I decided to start experimenting with the concept on my own. By combining the linguistic analysis systems of TweetPsych with Twitter’s...

  • 400m mobile phones to be green by 2017 [Report]

    Tech’s going green. It has to. Hell, the world has to. The kind of action we’re seeing now with Facebook and Google’s data centres and Microsoft pledging to become Carbon neutral is just the beginning. In fact, the number of phones like the Samsung Replenish -- made from 82% recycled materials – is set to grow more than 10 times by 2017. UK-based tech analysis company Juniper Research, Juniper Research reckons that around 31-million ‘green’ handsets will ship this year. By 2017, it expects that number to reach 400-million. Approximately half of those, it says, will be smartphones. The...

  • Abe Lincoln Facebook story likely hoax

    So we all know Abraham Lincoln was a pretty badass president. He reunited a country torn apart by civil war, helped end slavery and invented Facebook. Yup, that’s right Mark “I’m worth more than Yahoo!” Zuckerberg, Abraham Lincoln patented the basic idea for your social network 146 years ago. Except he didn’t. The story appears to be the latest hoax to take the web by storm. The story originated as a claim made by reporter Nate St.Pierre after he did some digging around at the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois. While there, he claimed to have across the...

  • FNB launches GeoPayments, officially this time

    When First National Bank (FNB)’s GeoPayments service leaked earlier this week, we were fairly impressed. Now the banking giant has officially gone live with it we can give the full low-down. In an official press release, the company confirms that the new functionality uses location-based services. It claims that it can “locate other users, within close range, to make safe and secure cashless payments without the need of their bank account details”. Oh, it also turns out that you don’t have to be an FNB customer to use GeoPayments. That said, FNB customers will make and receive payment, while...

  • 8 things you might not know about the internet in South Africa

    The number of internet users in South Africa is growing massively. That's a good thing. After all, the World Bank reckons that every 10% growth in internet connectivity equates to a one percent growth in the GDP. In fact, there are now an estimated 8.5-million internet users in the country, nearly 60% more than there were two years ago and around 90% of those access the web using mobile at some point. Even mobile users are increasingly moving to smart devices. In 2011 there were an estimated 8.5-million smartphones floating around the country and that number is set to...

  • How to reward the right behaviour in a mobile world [Net Prophet]

    Did you know that 95% of what we do is subconscious? The human mind decides not only which products and services to buy but also how to do so. It’s the key to consumerism. Although this fact is as obvious and predictable as the human mind is, examining the consumer process with the view of mobile tech illuminates the new grip of both hands of marketing and digital -- choice. According to according to Mobilitrix CEO Chris Rolfe, understanding the human mind is a key element to understanding mobile and more importantly how to maximize its potential. Rolfe opened...

  • Eight startup sins and how to avoid committing them [Net Prophet]

    Starting a business baby, starting a business. It can be a wild ride. Sylvia Gruber co-Founder and CEO of Rubybox broke down her experiences with Rubybox into eight, bite-sized tips for burgeoning startups. Gruber is big on keeping things basic and personal, simplicity is key -- often the most difficult and the most important aspect to get right. Rubybox is a monthly beauty box subscription service that provides its subscribers with beauty product samples. The service allows for business-to-business opportunities by being a conduit for beauty product companies, to push out product samples into the market, for research and promotion....

  • 240m people to watch TV on smartphones by 2014 [Report]

    For large numbers of people, watching TV still entails having a fairly large piece of furniture in their living room. In the next few years though, it could just mean having a smartphone. According to UK-based tech analysis company Juniper Research, around 240-million people are set to watch TV on their smart devices by 2014. The company reckons that this growth will largely be driven by a combination of both increased smartphone penetration and, critically, an increasing usage of live and on-demand services both on TVs and PCs. Smartphones mean that you can take live TV with you. That’s particularly...

  • MXit launches its own geo-fenced payment system

    Think First National Bank's Geo-payments is cool? Well it's not the first. Apparently MXit has been doing it for a while. According to the Stellenbosch-based startup, its staff has been using a "geo-fenced mobile payment" system since early April. The application is called Gust and a Beta version is expected to be ready in June. MXit earlier this year announced its mobile payment system, dubbed M2, which it rolled out to restaurants, allowing users to pay for meals using the platform. MXit’s payments system previously worked as an in-app purchase model. Users could only purchase digital content from the platform. People...