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All posts by Hadlee Simons

Hadlee Simons
Terrible puns make Hadlee Simons difficult to work with, but he brings over seven years of tech journalism experience to the table. When he's not at work or watching motorsport, he's in the foetal position on a jiu jitsu mat.
  • BotCon Africa 2017: 8 tips for crafting a good chatbot

    The second BotCon event took place in Cape Town this week, tackling all things chatbot, of course. The event saw talks from the likes of Facebook, Botpress and many other players in the bot/natural language/AI sectors. It's still a burgeoning field though, so best practices and other tips are relatively few and far between. However, attendees had plenty of advice nonetheless. Does your business actually need a bot though? Retro Rabbit's Riana Smit and Francois Scheffer said you should ask yourself what you want to achieve by building a bot. Do you want an additional channel of communications? Are you trying to reduce costs? The...

  • Your company thinking about bots? Check out BotCon Africa

    Who says that Africa isn't on the cutting edge of technology? The continent has earned a reputation for world-leading expertise in mobile money and related sectors, but Africans are also stepping up to the bot challenge. In fact, the second annual BotCon Africa event takes place on 25 May, featuring a pretty high profile list of speakers. Probably the most high-profile speaker on the list is research engineer Martin Raison of Facebook AI Research, with a keynote talk titled "teaching machines to interact with people". Raison originally worked at Wit.ai, a natural language processing platform, before it was bought by the...

  • 11 SA gaming YouTubers to keep an eye on [Digital All Stars]

    Digital All Stars is a series of articles which aims to celebrate the best of South African digital. The articles, which will appear on Memeburn and Ventureburn, recognise and celebrate South Africa’s best digital entrepreneurs, business people, advertisers, and media professionals among others. Gaming is massive business on YouTube. Don't believe me? Well, take a look at the most popular YouTuber in the world, PewDiePie. Take a look at the rest of the top 50 most subscribed channels, and you've got gaming personalities like VanossGaming and Jacksepticeye. What about South Africa though? Well, we've got our fair share of gaming YouTubers finding a...

  • Exoskeletons are fast becoming more fact than fiction for US soldiers

    Think exoskeletons in the military and you probably think of sci-fi movies and video games, granting characters almost super-human abilities in the process. But military colossus Lockheed-Martin is actually making the technology a reality, in a sense. The company has revealed the FORTIS Knee Stress Release Device (K-SRD), which hopes to make a soldier's life a little bit easier. So what does it actually do? "It boosts leg capacity for physically demanding tasks that require repetitive or continuous kneeling or squatting, or lifting, dragging, carrying or climbing with heavy loads," read a release on the contractor's website. It's more than just a mechanical...

  • Openserve IPC rate cut could mean more data for your buck [Update]

    Telkom's wholesale company, Openserve, has announced an IP Connect price cut of up to 32%. "Depending on the IPC capacity purchased, ISPs can now benefit from price reductions of up to 32%, effective from 1 June 2017," the wholesale division wrote in a statement. "We are committed to our journey of making broadband more affordable in South Africa. We firmly believe that by stimulating the growth of fixed broadband in South Africa, we are contributing to economic growth," said sales and marketing chief Prenesh Padayachee. The Openserve IP connect price cut of up to 32% should filter down to consumers in the...

  • 5 cool Facebook Messenger chatbots for tech news

    Chatbots saw a massive resurgence last year, as Google, Microsoft and Facebook all jumped on the bandwagon. Facebook has been actively encouraging chatbot development with its Messenger platform, recently making it easier for users to find relevant bots. A few tech publications have taken to adopting bots on Messenger too, but which ones are worth using? We've got a few picks for you. Digg One of the original social news websites, Digg pretty much lost its place to reddit several years ago. But the website has re-emerged in recent times, delivering some pretty interesting content in the process. The Digg chatbot is pretty...

  • Opera to spend $100m to ‘grow African digital economy’

    Opera Software is a mainstay of the African mobile scene, with its Opera Mini browser being used by people across the continent thanks to data-saving features. Now, the company has announced that it plans to spend US$100-million to "grow the African digital economy". "The company will use the investment to speed up internet adoption in Africa and strengthen the internet ecosystem with local partners," read a press release sent to Memeburn. So what does that actually mean? An AI-driven recommendation engine Well, the company has decided to build an AI-powered recommendation engine into its mobile browser. "Opera users in Africa will get fully personalised and...

  • California wants to tax spaceflight, based on distance

    Florida is widely seen as the state of choice for spaceflight in the USA, but California also plays host to its fair share of launches. Now, the state is investigating taxes on spaceflight, being based on distance travelled. According to the San Francisco Chronicle (via Ars Technica), California's Franchise Tax Board is seeking public comments on its space tax proposal. But what does the proposal entail? It would see taxes being applied to any company operating in the state that generates at least half its cash from space transportation. The taxes would kick in when flights travel above the Karman line...

  • 6 great podcast apps for Android you should download

    Podcasts have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity recently, with the likes of Serial and other notable shows responsible for the reinvigorated industry. There are loads of podcast apps out there, especially on Google's platform, which has only recently implemented native podcast support via Play Music. Which clients are worth downloading though? We've got a few you should consider -- but do let us know about your favourite apps. Podcast Republic My go-to app, Podcast Republic has recently received a visual overhaul, bringing the design in line with the extensive feature list. Podcast Republic delivers the expected podcast search functionality (by genre, top charts, search), offline...

  • Where’s the dust? Cassini non-discovery puzzles NASA

    NASA's Cassini space probe has started its Grand Finale, diving between Saturn's rings before crashing into the gas giant later this year. However, the first plunge has perplexed scientists, who were expecting to encounter a ton of cosmic dust. Instead, the probe found a low level of dust, the space agency explained. "The region between the rings and Saturn is 'the big empty,' apparently," said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Cassini will stay the course, while the scientists work on the mystery of why the dust level is much lower than expected." Prior to the...

  • 5 everyday things that didn’t need a smart version [Native]

    The internet of things (IoT) promises all manner of connected devices, but there are some things that don't need to be connected to the internet or slapped with a chip. Yep, for every connected TV, printer, light bulb or refrigerator, there are gadgets or appliances that don't need to be smart in the first place. Here are a few noteworthy examples. Smart water pitcher Because even the simple act of consuming water needs to have the "smart" label attached to it. Yes, the Brita smart water pitcher exists. According to Engadget, the pitcher is equipped with WiFi and automatically orders more filters from...

  • These are the nominees for 2017 Google Play Awards

    The first Google Play Awards took place last year, highlighting a number of innovative and/or popular games and apps. So we're glad to see the event come back this year, with Google announcing its list of nominees this week. Who are the nominees then? Check out the full list below -- you might find a few gems. Standout Indie - Reigns, Kingdom: New Lands, Mars: Mars, Causality, Mushroom 11. Standout Startup - Hooked: Chat Stories, Discord: Chat for Gamers, Castbox: Free Podcast and Audio, Simple Habit Meditation. Best Android Wear - Lifesum: Healthy lifestyle app, Runtastic Running and Fitness, Foursquare City Guide, Bring!...

  • From 100m users to Adam Sandler love, here’s Netflix’s big numbers

    Netflix has seen some solid growth since its massive expansion, and now, the company is on track to pass the 100 million user mark in the second quarter of 2017. The streaming colossus saw its users jump from 81.5 million in Q1 2016 to 98.75 million in Q1 2017, its investor report showed. To be fair, the number includes both paid and non-paid users. "We expect to cross the 100 million member mark this weekend. It's a good start," the service added. It's also worth noting that the company's international user additions saw a notable year-on-year drop. "International net additions decreased 22% year over...

  • Naspers ploughs R960m into Takealot, becomes majority shareholder

    Naspers has invested R960-million in Takealot, the online retailer announced today. It's not the first time Naspers has conducted a major deal with the online retailer either, having merged its Kalahari online store with Takealot back in 2015. The deal saw Naspers gain a 46.5% interest in the combined retail powerhouse. In a joint statement on the latest deal, the duo wrote that SA's online retail sector still accounts for "less than 2% of the non-grocery retail market and less than 1% of the total retail market". It added that, as a result, there was a lot of potential for the sector. "We...

  • Telkom keeps S&P Global credit rating, but…

    Ratings agency S&P Global has maintained Telkom's BBB- credit rating, but has revised its outlook to negative in the wake of South Africa's political upheaval and subsequent credit rating downgrade. The decision means that Telkom's credit rating still sits at one grade above the so-called "junk" level. S&P said that South Africa's overall downgrade and potentially worsening economic conditions "implies increased risks" to Telkom. "We are therefore revising our outlook on Telkom SA to negative from stable and affirming our 'BBB-' long-term ratings on the company," the agency wrote. However, it's also explained its reasoning behind the outlook. "We limit the differential to...