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      Incisive reviews for the gadget obsessed
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      Startup news for emerging markets
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  • App of the week: Molenotes

    This week I take a look at Molenotes, a note-taking app that recreates the feeling of writing in actual notebooks with limited pages on your iPhone. I will come right out and say it, when I first heard about Moleskine notebooks and how much they cost, I was appalled. I mean come on now, why would you want to pay that much for a notebook that’s only differentiating factor from the standard Croxley 180-page classic that we all used at school is a little pocket in the back cover for storing random notes. But one day I saw them on...

  • Google+ iPhone app launched and immediately faces litany of complaints

    A major aspect of a social network’s success, it can be argued, depends on the ability of users to access it on the go. Twitter, first launched as a mobile service, and Facebook have recognised this with a variety mobile apps and a mobi site. Now, the latest kid on the social networking block, Google+ has joined the party with the launch of its official iPhone app. In keeping with the thought behind G+, Google describes the app as "making sharing the right things with the right people a lot simpler". According to the product information the app -- officially called "Google...

  • Hummba: Virtual guides anywhere, anytime

    An online audio and text guide shop may not be the most innovative idea, but having content easily available on mobile application anywhere in the world may just beat having a tour guide. If anything, according to its founder, it eliminates the need for one. This seems to be the thinking behind Hummba.com, a company planning to afford the resources of a personal tour guide to any user anywhere in the world. Founder Mark Allewel says the company's flagship product, Tourism Radio, is a GPS driven information station for tourists. “We tell you all about the area you are...

  • Very long and semi compact: the Olympus SP-610UZ

    Review: Eleven years ago, my parents bought their first digital camera. It was an Olympus with 1.2 megapixels, less than the average cellphone’s front-facing camera nowadays, although perhaps the vastly better lens counts for something. Times have changed, pixel counts have gone up, but somehow that old camera still looks and feels like the brand new Olympus SP-610UZ. A decade on and this compact superzoom has piles more features, but surprisingly many of my criticism of the old model remain. Read more on Gearburn.comvar 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");

  • Video Review: Toshiba STOR.E TV+

    The Stor.E TV+ is an external drive slash media centre. It’s clumsily named, clumsily built, and clumsily supported. So at least Toshiba is consistent there. It would make a great story device for a Dilbert special – the grubby fingerprints of corporate politics are all over it. The base engineering work is absolutely fine. It’s solidly built, well specced, with some nice features. What is not fine is the user interface, the attention to detail, and the user interface. Roger Hislop takes a look. 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");

  • Textbooks now for rent on Kindle

    Amazon.com has begun letting students rent textbooks on Kindle electronic readers. Kindle Textbook Rentals lets students pay based on how long they want to use textbooks, with periods ranging from 30 days to 360 days. Renting a digital version of textbooks on a Kindle for a month can save students as much as 80 percent of the price of buying the works, according to Amazon Kindle vice president Dave Limp. “Students tell us that they enjoy the low prices we offer on new and used print textbooks,” Limp said. “Now we’re excited to offer students an option to rent Kindle textbooks and...

  • Twitter now looking to monetise from ecommerce

    Twittter chief executive Dick Costolo has announced that in addition to its current money-maker, advertising, Twitter -- in keeping with its monetisation drive -- could potentially generate revenue from commerce. Speaking at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference Costolo also dismissed reports of management turmoil at the San Francisco-based company and said it is still seeing explosive growth. "Along any axis you measure us we're growing faster than we've ever grown before", Costolo said. Twitter users are sending one billion tweets every five days and the service now has more than 200 million registered users, he said. Costolo declined to reveal whether Twitter is...

  • Members of Anonymous arrested in US for Wikileaks revenge attacks

    The US Department of Justice has announced the arrest of 16 people for cyber crimes. Of those 16, 14 have been connected to an online attack on the PayPal website claimed by members of the collective of nameless internet hackers known as "Anonymous". The US indictment against the 14 hackers alleges the denial of service (DDoS) attacks on PayPal were "retribution" because the site terminated a donation account for the whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks. In reference to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Anonymous hackers called the PayPal attacks "Operation Avenge Assange", the indictment said, adding that the US raids were coordinated with police...

  • Athletes embrace Chinese microblogs during aquatics world champs

    World aquatics championships athletes faced with China's bans on Twitter and Facebook are opening accounts with local equivalents, boosting their profile in the country. British diving star Tom Daley is leading the trend after he began posting updates and pictures on Tencent, one of the leaders in China's fast-growing microblogging sector. Tencent staff member Norman Li said Daley, 17, attracted 10 000 followers in one day after he opened the account earlier this year. He now has around 343 000 followers -- more than triple the number he has on Twitter. "He's obviously very smart -- he found out how to use...

  • Why Silicon Valley can be bad for emerging market startups

    Launching a startup anywhere in the world is challenging, but launching one in an emerging market territory where there is often limited access to funding and a fragmented entrepreneurial ecosystem it is so much harder. One sure way to fail is to try and duplicate first world solutions for emerging market problems without tweaking them for the unique local conditions. The Silicon Valley story is inspirational. Its ability to launch globally competitive, world-changing internet startups is unsurpassed. It continues to be the leading hub for high-tech innovation and development and accounts for one-third of all of the venture capital investment...

  • Google +1 over Facebook Like and is it worth it?

    Google’s +1 service is akin to Facebook’s "Like" system, but, unlike, well, Likes, it’s applicable to the whole of the web – think of it as ‘do-it-yourself SEO’, and useful to any inbound marketing agency. Admittedly, Facebook’s influence is rapidly growing, with many sites now offering to ‘connect using Facebook’, but +1 is developed with the whole web in mind, rather than an added functionality. It’s a simple, lightweight idea, that could be completely overlooked, but at the same time, could be a massively useful tool if integrated into your digital marketing strategy. +1 is essentially a public bookmarking feature, similar...

  • China’s Baidu launches web music service in deal with music giants

    Ending a prolonged legal battle over copyright infringements, Chinese search engine Baidu has announced it will distribute music from three major firms online. One-Stop China, a joint venture of Universal Music, Warner Music and Sony Music, has agreed to license catalogues and tracks to be streamed or downloaded from Baidu's servers, China's most popular search engine said in statement. Baidu will pay the content owners on a per-play and per-download basis for all tracks delivered through its MP3 search service and its newly-launched social music platform ting!, it said, without providing any financial details. The deal ends all outstanding litigation in the...

  • Viral Math: The mathematics behind social media engagement and reach

    Over the past few years I’ve developed two models of contagious content: R0 (pronounced: R Naught) and Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness. Because of the way these two systems work, I put a lot of emphasis on reach building activities (getting lots of followers, likes and views) and metrics (number of followers and likes). Based on the reaction I’ve seen to some of my recent work challenging the hegemony of “engaging in the conversation,” I’ve come to understand that I may not have fully explained why number of followers is such a key metric. Before an individual can share a piece of...

  • Winners and losers in cloud computing and what your business gains

    The buzz around cloud computing has been around for a while now, and it doesn’t seem like the frenzy around this new phenomenon will wane out any time soon. This might be due to the realisation that the entire IT industry is on the verge of a major revolution, and we all know that in the midst of a revolution, there will always be winners and losers. The promise Cloud computing promises a paradigm shift in the way that we have been using computational resources; an environment where business applications are hosted by a service provider and accessed by...

  • The reason Nairobi’s iHub works

    The iHub is Nairobi’s nerve centre for technology; a place where people can grab coffee, create apps, find funders and build businesses. It's where the community of web and mobile programmers connect with each other, businesses, the government and academia. A brief history There was a discussion at Barcamp Nairobi 2008 about how valuable it would be for the Kenyan tech community to have a static space of its own. No one would fund that idea. My organisation, Ushahidi, decided that it liked the idea enough that it would fund the project. It fit with our overall philosophy of...