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All posts by Rowan Puttergill: Columnist

Rowan Puttergill: Columnist
Rowan Puttergill is a technology evangelist and software engineer with a long career working in enterprise environments. He brings with him the experience of being the Technical Editor at SA Computer magazine, and a career history as a technical author. He is a huge advocate of open-source technologies, and is a huge fan of debian-based linux operating systems.
  • Why has the genesis of the mobile wallet been so slow?

    The mobile wallet has been touted as the next big thing for a number of years, so you would expect that by now the App-For-That maxim would ring true for everyone with a smartphone. Oddly enough while mobile payment services still seem to be positively fetal when it comes to real world application, industry gurus swear that mobile wallet use is significantly on the rise. Back in 2009, Gartner Group predicted that the number of mobile payment users around the world would be topping 190-million by 2012. This year, Gartner revised that number to 212.2 million users, with a...

  • Preparing for the worst: can someone please back up the internet?

    I have a t-shirt created by Dinosaur Comics. It's a nerdy shirt with way too much text on it, but its premise is pretty cool: what would happen if you travelled back in time and you had all of the information to create the technology of today way back in the past? Of course, take the credit! Actually, when I bought this shirt, a friend and I had been discussing what we would be able to do during a technological blackout. I mean, sure I can program in a few high-level languages, I know how to perform a wide...

  • Screw utility, the web’s always been about entertainment

    In a recent article that appeared on AllThingsD, Keval Desai argues that the web of entertainment is now surpassing the web of utility. That initially looked interesting to me. Looking back, glossy-style magazine and gossip columns have been around forever, games on the web for years, online video is pretty ubiquitous, and streaming music sites are old news. That got me wondering what amazing new forms of entertainment Desai was imagining for the web's future. Furthermore, I was intrigued by what he would define as the "web of utility". Desai attempts to back his whole hypothesis that the web has...

  • 3 innovative ways people are using Raspberry Pi

    The Raspberry Pi, single-board computer, has been shipping for a few months now and you're lucky if you can fit in an order. A month ago, over 20 000 boards had been sold, and suppliers are struggling to keep up with the demand. We decided to take a look around to see why the boards are proving so popular so quickly after launch. Raspberry Pi at school Eben Upton, one of the core designers behind the board, envisioned bringing hardware back into schools and to interested hobbyists to try to kickstart the hardware hacking culture that seems to be dwindling in...

  • The smartphone revolution may be unstoppable, but it’s only just begun

    Last month, we gave you the low-down on internet prophet Mary Meeker's 2012 Internet Trends. One of the things that Meeker pointed out is that mobile traffic is growing at a tremendous rate, accounting for nearly 10% of all internet traffic. Interestingly, 3G subscriptions only account for 18% of the world's total mobile subscriptions. The enormous number of 3G subscriptions that took place in emerging markets like India and Brazil suggest that mobile is exploding in a way that very few other technologies ever achieve in a year. The driving force for this is the smartphone. But analysts are...

  • Why domain name expansion will cause mayhem on the internet

    A year after ICANN announced its plans to expand the TLD (Top Level Domain) namespace, we are finally able to see the application list for new TLDs. There are nearly 2 000 applications, each costing US$185 000. ICANN believes that each suffix will cost owners about US$25 000 per year to maintain and they will be required to commit to a 10-year maintenance agreement. Among the applications are many variations on a theme and conflicts over potential ownership. As a result, these suffixes are all going through a review process. For the next seven months major players will have...

  • How IPv6 will revolutionise the internet

    IPv6 is finally rolling out onto the internet. We've been waiting for this to happen for nearly ten years now. On 6 June 2012 we celebrated World IPv6 Day. This event marked a commitment by many major ISPs, home networking equipment manufacturers, and web companies around the world to permanently enable IPv6 for their products and services. In the very long-term, this will revolutionise the internet. The number of unique addresses available under IPv6 is difficult to express in non-mathematical terms. Wikipedia describes the number as 2^52 addresses for every observable star in the known universe. One of the...

  • What does the LinkedIn hack really achieve?

    If you haven't changed your LinkedIn password yet, it's time to do so. And for all of you who like to use the same password across all of the sites that you visit, you have a lot of password changing ahead of you. This week, a hacker in a Russian forum claimed to have hacked LinkedIn and to have obtained the password hashes for 6.5-million accounts. The hashes were posted online on a variety of sites, but have been released without corresponding usernames. Of course, while the usernames have not been released, only the hacker will be aware of...

  • From UseNet to Google+: A brief history of social networking

    While Facebook shares seem as volatile as anything, one is left questioning how valuable social networking really is. As the poet and philosopher George Santayana once said, "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." I think its time that we take a good look back at how social networking has developed on the internet since the days of yore. Email, IM and the UseNet Many people think that social networking is what defines web 2.0, but in reality the entire internet has been designed as a social network, facilitating connections and communications between people and allowing them...

  • What does the Linux 3.4 kernel have to offer?

    Linus Torvalds has just announced the release of the 3.4 version of the Linux kernel. While Linus notes that there have been no majorly exciting changes since the last release candidate, it's worth taking a look at some of the things that have made their way into this release of the Linux kernel and what it means to the Linux community as a whole. Perhaps some of the most prominent features and changes that appear in the kernel, are centered on updates to btrfs, a new filesystem that offers much better fault tolerance and easy repair. Btrfs is largely developed...

  • Google’s Knowledge Graph: Nothing is new under the sun

    Google has just announced the launch of Knowledge Graph, which it sees as a smarter way to search. Knowledge Graph is a way of tying together pieces of meta-data about things, such as their relationships to other things within the world. What this means is that when you search for something that is available in the Knowledge Graph, Google will display additional information about the thing that you searched for, so that you can directly access facts before having to browse through a bunch of web-pages. So, for instance, if you search for "William Shakespeare" you will be able...

  • The dramatic fall of BitCoin: No end in sight

    We've discussed BitCoin at some length on Memeburn, including how it works, its potential downfalls, and its genuine merits. BitCoin has experienced its ups and downs in the few years that it has emerged as an online currency. Last year, a major 'pick-pocketing' scandal when an anonymous BitCoin user claimed that thieves had managed to steal nearly US$ 500 000 worth of BitCoin. Although the case was unverified, a series of similar incidents caused the BitCoin exchange rate to crash at the time. This year, a number of new attacks on BitCoin have raised further concerns for the online...

  • Privacy vs Social: Cool solutions to help you cope

    I've been advocating a stronger approach to privacy for some time now. My biggest concern is that we share so much private information using social media, that identity theft and other security issues are only just beginning to become apparent. Aside from this, we are caught between the need to take advantage of the social networks that the majority of our peers share and simply giving in to the terms and conditions that come as part and parcel of these services. Most notably, all of the content that you share over a social networking site suddenly becomes transparent to...

  • Rumours of Google’s demise have been greatly exaggerated

    Recently, Eric Jackson at Forbes, wrote an article that suggests that Google and Facebook will struggle to maintain their market dominance as technology increasingly shifts toward mobile computing. Jackson makes the point that many of the companies that started at the birth of the Web (Web 1.0) struggled to survive as social networking (Web 2.0) began to emerge. Now, he thinks that we are entering a new technical phase, where the Web is no longer relevant and mobile is king. While Jackson does make some interesting points, I think he's completely wrong. Not because I think Google and Facebook...

  • They’re watching you: Non-members of social networks are still products

    A few people I know have removed their Facebook profiles, in the interest of gaining back some sense of privacy. In fact, I even know a couple of people who have never signed up to a social network in the first place. Sometimes I envy these people, just because they are taking a stand against a growing phenomenon that is rapidly turning personal data into a commercial product. Still, I have often wondered how much of a difference it makes if you choose not to belong to something as ubiquitous as Facebook or Google+. Now, a group of boffins...