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      Tech-savvy insight and analysis
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      Incisive reviews for the gadget obsessed
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  • Sex, knitting and Ayn Rand: our favourite offbeat social networks

    There is a mind-boggling array of social networks out there, from Facebook, the king of them all, and the ailing Myspace, all the way through to the ones you don’t know about, which target niche interests such as a love for auteur cinema and an interest in cheese. Memeburn roamed the world of social networks and picked out eight choice examples, selected for their surprising user numbers, intriguing content and quirky characters. Here they are, in no particular order: The Atlasphere Users: 25 291 What is it? According to the site’s front page: The Atlasphere’s mission is to bring together admirers of...

  • Nokia wins last round in battle against Apple

    Nokia has left the ring with a bit of a swagger after announcing today that it had finally reached an agreement with its rival Apple that would see the Finnish mobile giant being paid a one-time settlement fee and ongoing royalties. In a statement released today, Nokia says the “financial structure of the agreement consists of a one-time payment payable by Apple and on-going royalties to be paid by Apple to Nokia for the term of the agreement”. The specific amounts of the deal would remain confidential, the company said. Stephen Elop, president and chief executive officer of...

  • ‘Gay girl in Damascus’ blogger a middle-aged US man

    A 40-year-old US student based in Scotland has unmasked himself as the author of the “Gay Girl in Damascus” blogs, which sparked a security crackdown in Syria. This is the latest in a series of attempts by Westerners to use social and online media to stake a place in the limelight for themselves in the Arab uprisings which have dominated headlines in 2011. Tom MacMaster, an Edinburgh University masters student, admitted on Sunday that he was “Amina Abdullah”, who had described “herself” as a Syrian political blogger. The Abdullah character rose to blogging fame with her reports on the pro-reform...

  • Facebook IPO could top $100bn in 2012

    Social network Facebook is likely to go public in the first quarter of next year with a valuation of over US$100 billion, the CNBC business news network reported on Monday, despite reports that the social network’s growth is tailing off in North America. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly stated he is in no hurry to take the social network public, but the network’s report said the company may be forced to do so by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations. CNBC said Facebook’s decision to conduct an initial public offering could be triggered by an SEC requirement that companies...

  • 4 very different mobile payment services

    Mobile payments may be the next big tech gold rush, depending on who you listen to. For something getting so much hype, and with so many start-ups popping up in the field, it is a surprisingly vague term. There are at least a half dozen different approaches competing to become the de facto format. All of them share one thing: the use of mobile devices – mostly cell phones, but increasingly other devices such as tablets – to exchange money. But that’s just about where the similarities end. Here are four different services with four very different routes to...

  • Samsung Galaxy S II: The galaxy strikes back

    Samsung scored a smash hit with the Galaxy S, a phone that almost single-handedly established it (along with Android) as a viable threat to the iPhone hegemony on big, flat, beautiful, minimalist, keyboardless smartphones. Time passed, other phones came, Samsung got back to work. And now, ladies and gentlemen, live and in the plastic, the Galaxy S II. I had lunch with a friend yesterday. She has a Galaxy S. “Oh, you have the new one,” she said a little dismissively. An IT pro, she’s been up and down the tech block, round and round the upgrade carousel. “Whatever,”...

  • You just got served … via Facebook

    Most of us think of Facebook as a positive, fairly innocuous, tool for social engagement and peer-to-peer networking. But courts and lawmakers are increasingly seeing the potential of this platform for issuing legal summons where no other avenue of communication is viable or even possible. “There are people who exist only online,” Joseph Demarco, co-chair of the American Bar Association’s criminal justice cyber crime committee, told Bloomberg.com. It is these kinds of online-only individuals – itinerant workers who move between jobs and countries and seldom retain a fixed address for any meaningful period of time – that the...

  • IMF admits cyber attack seeking ‘insider info’

    The International Monetary Fund was the target of a sophisticated cyber attack earlier this year, according to senior IMF officials quoted by the New York Times. The global financial institution, which has been spearheading the response to the euro-zone crisis in recent months, has detailed and market-moving information on the fiscal shape of the world’s economies. “This was a very major breach,” the Times quoted an IMF official as saying. The attack, which lasted months, began before Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the IMF, was accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in Manhattan. An internal memo from the IMF’s Chief...

  • IBM: Carbon nanotech coming soon to a phone near you

    A research team from IBM has managed to produce an integrated circuit on a sheet of graphene, a sheet of carbon a single molecule thick. Until now scientists have managed to fabricate discrete components such as transistors, but have struggled to find a technique that allows them to be integrated and fabricated as a wafer. Graphene, like its cousin, carbon nanotubes, exhibits fascinating electrical, optical, mechanical and thermal qualities – but finding ways to use them in commercial technology is… Read more Gearburn.com

  • Why most startups fail … and here’s how not to

    It’s easy to think of the latest startup like a pimple in the middle of your forehead: you wake up one morning and it’s all you can see. And then, one day, for no specific reason, it’s gone. “Anyone know what happened to Whatchamacallit?” After some enquiry, all you’ve got is a handful of rumours and a bucket of spin. All we know for sure is that it’s over. Truth is, most of the time, it failed because of the same reasons so many other startups fail. There will always be special individuals who find exceptional ways...

  • Facebook tests Twitter-like real-time update feature

    Facebook is dabbling with a Twitter-like feature that alerts members in real time to what their friends are up to on the social network. The feature, reportedly called “Happening Now,” is being tried by a “fraction of a percent” of Facebook’s more than 600 million members, according to the world’s leading online social network. “We are currently testing a feature within News Feed that gives people the ability to see what their friends are commenting on and ‘liking,’ as these actions are being taken on Facebook,” the California company said. “In the coming weeks, as we learn more from this test, we’ll...

  • Myows: managing your copyright online

    Creative people are generally not well known for being legally switched on. But the challenges of protecting original work in the digital age means bloggers, freelance writers, photographers and web designers should all be prepared to interact with the law to protect their intellectual efforts — and their businesses. Luckily, the concept of copyright is pretty straightforward: as soon as a work is created in a tangible form – be it on paper, film, online or in sound – it is eligible for copyright. It is automatic and, unlike patents or trademarks, official registration is not required. If, however, there is...

  • The social web increasingly not the ‘people’s web’ – Berkeley study

    A new study from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that the social Web is becoming more of a playground for the affluent than an empowering tool for digital democracy. Internet evangelists will often tell you with misty eyes that the internet has made media and content accessible: Anyone with Internet access can generate online content and influence public opinion. But despite the rapid growth of social media – with Twitter and Facebook touted as playing key roles in the Arab revolutions – the bulk of today’s blogs, websites and video-sharing sites represent the perspectives of college-educated, Web...

  • How much will a Gareth Cliff tweet cost you?

    When radio jock and Idols judge Gareth Cliff describes Playboy magazine on his Facebook page as “classy” and “riveting”, does he mean it — or is he being paid to say it? A good word from Gareth Cliff could cost you R20 000, but his 400 000 Facebook friends and Twitter followers may not know that they are reading advertising. Fan or not, there’s no denying that Cliff is a character. Whether he’s celebrating the death of a controversial politician, or interviewing Jesus on his radio show, he creates controversy and makes a show of it. For his social media...

  • How HuffPo beat NYTimes.com

    Traffic to the spunky Huffington Post has surpassed visitors to the New York Times for the first time, according to tracking firm comScore. This time last year, the NYTimes’s 32.5-million figure overshadowed the Huffington Post’s 23.8-million. But HuffPo broke through the 30-million barrier this month, receiving 35.6-million unique visitors in May, up from 29.9-million in April. The NYTimes.com received 33.6-million, up from 32.9-million. ComScore’s figures show that traffic figures for the mega US news blog have surged over the past year, while those of NYTimes.com have remained relatively steady. The New York Times began charging readers for full access to...