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All posts by Julia Breakey

  • #NoConfederate: Game of Thrones shares limelight with protest

    Last week, HBO announced a new series to be headed by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss. Currently dubbed Confederate, the show is set to tell the story of a United States that never outlawed slavery. The announcement was widely criticised -- largely because many don't believe such a sensitive topic should be entertained by two white creators. Last night, #OscarsSoWhite creator @ReignofApril started a new hashtag -- #NoConfederate -- to protest the continuation of the show, and got it trending in the top three worldwide while Game of Thrones aired. We did it!!! We trended #1 nationwide & #2 worldwide for most of the hour. THIS...

  • Here’s what’s up with that suicidal McDonald’s Twitter account

    If you were on Twitter over the course of the weekend, then you probably saw at least one tweet from a Hong Kong McDonald's branch claiming it wanted to die. The unverified account seems to be part of a long-con hoax that paid off for about 24 hours before McDonald's came to shut down the fun. It all started in October last year, when @Mc_DonaldsHK tweeted about the new McSpicy Chicken Filet meal. It then updated sporadically with other promotions, like a genuine account would. The account eventually hit its target in May. The verified @McDonaldsCorp tagged the fake Hong Kong account in a...

  • Last week in trailers: Matt Damon, Pennywise & other scary white guys

    Comic-Con Christmas is over. We ate all the food at once, and now it's Boxing Day and the only leftovers are our aunt's under-cooked brussel sprouts and some soggy malva pudding that someone definitely stuck their finger in. But I'll be damned if I'm cooking today, so let's push through with last week's offering. It Horror and comedy editing are very closely related, and many of the same filmmaking techniques are used to elicit opposing reactions. If there's any proof just how easily you could miss your mark, it's the hilarious trailers Warner Bros. has released for It.  Not convinced? Watch this edited version with Shrek as...

  • SA government to include e-hailing services in act says Maswanganyi

    The South African government is considering an amendment to the National Land Transport Act that will accommodate e-hailing services like Uber, Taxify and Zebra, according to sanews.gov.za. Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi has said that he cannot reveal what the outcome of the amendment will be, but that Parliament considering it proves a "willingness to accommodate innovation". South African meter-taxi operators have been up in arms recently, claiming they are forced to abide by rules that drivers using the digital services do not. The anger has spurred on acts of violence that resulted in the death of an Uber driver earlier this month. The bone of contention lies with...

  • #StJohnsCollege: South Africans react to racist teacher

    Joburg's prestigious St Johns College has found the ire of South African Twitter after failing to remove a teacher found guilty of racist misconduct. Geography teacher Keith Arlow underwent an internal investigation where he was found to have consistently undermined black students' intelligence, labelled Indian students "Nawab" and called Greek students "dirty". He was punished with a final written warning. Parents of the discriminated students told Huffington Post (which broke the story) that they are unhappy with the how the school dealt with the issue and want more than just a promise of "healing". Twitter believes much the same. Just a few hours after the...

  • Disney uses AI to predict viewers’ expressions, but it isn’t foolproof

    Disney Research used neural networks to model audience's reactions to its movies, and said it was able to provide data superior to "conventional methods". The AI was apparently able to tell how a viewer would react to the rest of the movie from just a few minutes of watching their face. Dubbed factorised variational autoencoders (or FVAEs for people with less time in their day), the method was able to learn expressions like smiling and laughing on its own. "What's more, they were able to show how these facial expressions correlated with humorous scenes," Ph.D. student Zhiwei Deng told Phys.org. Using this technology, Disney could then find out...

  • YouTube Red and Google Play Music to merge into one streaming service

    YouTube's head of music Lyor Cohen has confirmed that YouTube Red and Google Play Music will be merging into one streaming service, according to a report from The Verge. Speaking at a panel in New York, Cohen acknowledged that the services provide similar offerings and that it was important to combine them. YouTube's streaming services are complicated. YouTube Red costs US$9.99 a month, and includes an ad-free experience, offline watching, and access to original Red content. It also provides access to Google Play Music. Google Play Music offers ad-free music streaming, the ability to make playlists, and offline listening. It costs the same, and a...

  • Lupita Nyong’o disguised herself at Comic-Con (but she isn’t the first)

    Lupita Nyong'o has raked in tens of thousands of likes and retweets on Twitter after posting a video of her running and dancing around San Diego Comic-Con dressed as a somewhat distorted Power Ranger. As an actress in both the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Marvel's Black Panther, Nyong'o has massive geek pull, and likely wanted to experience the convention without attracting a crowd. Did you see me at Comic Con?! #SDCC2017pic.twitter.com/9Vnx4ss96d — Lupita Nyong'o (@Lupita_Nyongo) July 26, 2017 But Nyong'o isn't alone in her wish for privacy. So here's a list of other celebs who disguised themselves so they, too, could geek out on the...

  • Facebook makes more cash than Google in Q2, but revenue slows

    Facebook has brought in a higher net income than Google's parent company Alphabet for the first time in history -- though this has more to do with the massive US$2.7-billion fine the EU slapped on the latter than anything else. The company made US$3.8-billion over the last three months, seeing a 71% year-on-year increase, while Google made just over US$3.5-billion. The moment isn't all sunshine and beating Google, though. Facebook has seen a steady decline in its revenue growth over the past year as it runs out of space for ads on its News Feed. A year ago, it's year-over-year change was 59%; that number has...

  • Google implements SOS alerts for nearby crises

    Google has launched SOS Alert for search that provides information on ongoing emergencies. The SOS Alerts pop up whenever someone searches for the name of an event or location. It provides information like maps of the damage, top stories, and even statements from local authorities when available. If the user is close by, the Alert will provide emergency numbers. Users may even be sent a notification if their Google app is up-to-date and location is on. For those removed from the situation, information on where to donate might be provided. Google says that both natural and human-caused emergencies will be included The feature has also been implemented...

  • Mandela’s Last Years: Twitter reacts to controversial book

    The controversial biography Mandela's Last Years has been pulled by publishers, but not before Twitter got to have their say about it. Written by Dr Vejay Ramlakan, who headed Madiba's medical team, the book details "the true story of Nelson Mandela's final journey". It most notably tells of how Winnie Madikizela-Mandela held his hand during his final breath, rather than widow Graca Machel. Machel was quick to "condemn the book in the strongest terms". She made it clear that she was considering legal action for Ramlakan's breach of doctor-patient confidentiality. A few days later, Penguin Random House South Africa "decided to immediately withdraw the book...

  • South Africa’s box office: Valerian bombs as the kids have their say

    It was the last weekend of public school holidays, and South Africa's children were not going back to school until they had assured their faves' rightful places at the top of the charts. The box office has always been a top priority for today's youth, and kids across the country have been spending their breaks planning this like a coup. And they did it: they've got control. But what did this mean for our charts this weekend? (21 to 23 July) The school holidays closed with Despicable Me 3 still in top spot after being pushed to second two weeks ago. The animated classic that...

  • ‘Cruel’ clip of Amor Vittone and Joost van der Westhuizen goes viral

    YOU Magazine has released a sound clip that allegedly proves Amor Vittone was verbally abusive towards the late Joost van der Westhuizen when he was sick. The clip, which was trending in YouTube's top spot in South Africa Monday morning, sounds like a recorded phone call in which Vittone calls van der Westhuizen a "little boy" and "low life asshole". "I wish I didn't marry you," she taunts. Van der Westhuizen can allegedly be heard mumbling on the other side of the call. The video garnered over 61 000 views in two days on YouTube. Many have deemed the recording fake, and Vittone herself has...

  • Primedia apologises for Radio 702’s tweet comparing black babies to dogs

    Primedia CEO Omar Essack has apologised for a tweet published on Radio 702's Twitter account that compared two black babies to dogs. Here is the tweet that @Radio702 deleted without apologizing, they compared black babies to dogs. #MTN702WALK pic.twitter.com/bbmWRmQqSVRadio 702: 'We offended South Africans and are sorry' — ANC Defense Force (@ANC_LEADS) July 23, 2017 In the tweet, the account asked its followers which was was cuter, babies or dogs. "Go ahead and evoke those broody feelings," it wrote, promoting the Walk the Talk event that saw nearly 50 000 people walk for various causes. Essack said that the team was trying to draw people to...

  • Last week in trailers: it’s Comic-Con Christmas, baby

    Some weeks, absolutely no interesting trailers get released and building this roundup feels futile. Other weeks, there are so many trailers I wonder if I'll even have time to watch them all (I'm kidding, I always do.) Comic-Con week is the latter, so let's jump straight in. Justice League Yes, they're still pretending Superman is dead. Yes, they did give Wonder Woman a big role in the trailer after her successful solo endeavour, and, yes, this is going to be so much fun. Justice League is out in South Africa 17 November. (As a side note: a 3-minute trailer for Avengers: Infinity War was leaked, but it's terrible...