Tag Archives: Technology

Connecting Africa – Catching Up Online

Getting online in Africa
Source: VOA News

As the world speeds forward into a new era, one factor is becoming ever more apparent; the future of the human race is one that will be bound together by the World Wide Web. There is simply no denying that the Internet and online connectivity in general, is an important part of the combined human future. As it stands, roughly 58% of the world is connected to the Internet in one form or another.

But, take a closer look at the African continent and you’ll see that Internet penetration is still considerably lagging behind. In-region online penetration sits at a much lower 35%. This means, in other words, that Africa can be considered about a decade behind the rest of the world in terms of online connectivity.

However, the rate of adoption as a whole is also vastly ahead of the rest of the world, meaning that not only is continent catching up, but it is also doing so at an incredible rate. This means that an ever-increasing number of Africans have access to everything the net has to offer, including being able to stream digital content, play online slots, or connect with others via email or on social media.

Online Adoption History

The Internet first arrived in South Africa in the 1980s, although the system installed was a closed one. This meant that although information could be shared amongst users within the network, there was not connection to the outside world. This only changed in 1993, when the first outside connection was made, officially connecting the closed online network to the rest of the world. The call was made via dial up, to France.

However, it was only in 2001 that a major Internet cable was installed, officially taking the connection to the next level. The installation of the cable boosted the number of Internet users on the continent significantly, taking overall penetration swiftly to over 5% by 2008. A big milestone, but still notably behind the rest of the world.

That 5% increased to 35% by December 2017, showing that not only is propagation rate fast, it is fast to a degree that is beyond wildest expectations.

Increasing Rates And Technology Focus

Connectivity in Africa improves
Source: Mo Ibrahim Foundation

Today, Madagascar has an average download speed of around 24.8 megabits per second. This not only makes it way ahead of every other country in Africa, but even beyond France, Germany and Portugal. A sign that nations are quickly moving to meet the challenge.

Likewise in Kenya, Nairobi boasts an average download speed of 10.1 mega bits per second, taking it beyond Israel. This is not to mention that Nairobi is now proud to call itself a city on the fast track to being smart, with online services that are no longer considered only a luxury afforded to the upper class earners in the area. Universities in the area likewise focus on educations based around the latest technology evolutions. This spells a future for Kenya firmly in the ranks of the online leaders.

A Bright Future

It’s true that Kenya, Madagascar and South Africa lead the way with online technology on the continent, showing that there is a bright future waiting on the horizon. But many other countries are still struggling to catch up, and lagging ever further behind. There is much work and effort required to bring the continent as a whole in line with the rest of the world.

However, if the steps taken by Kenya are anything to go by, as well as the astonishingly high adoption rates, it won’t be long before many countries in the area have closed the gap with European and American countries. It seems like only a matter of time, with the massive untapped potential of the region finally being fully realised and ground-breaking steps being taken by both governments and private companies to update, upgrade and implement infrastructure and bring it up to speed with the rest of the world.

The Ghosts of Social Media Past

Social media has a daily effect on our lives
Source: Pixabay

I don’t tweet. Friends have said I should open a Twitter account but I have remained inanimate on the matter. Twitter registers very low on my list of priorities and while I get that one can actually catch the attention of a celebrity or someone in power, it remains an unappealing endeavour. I regard social media as a blessing and a curse. I like that we’re more connected but I dislike the fact that we actually care less. Social media has made us regard one another in a lesser light and this is because it’s made our social lives easier and the minute something gets easy, we undermine it. Look at the birthday card; once a staple of celebration and admitting that you had a genuine care for a friend, family member or colleague. Facebook has all but obliterated this once thriving industry and while everyone says something on your wall, not many really mean it. We’re sacrificing a lot in the name of the net and social media, and as it appears of late, not just our interpersonal qualities, but our livelihoods too.

Is Facebook Listening To Me?

Online Vigilance

I’m not sure that we’re fully comprehending the extent of our online actions. Our online footprints, while meant to create a digital map of what we like so that corporations can sell us things, can also be used for surveillance.  Instagram has the right to make money from the photos you post on it without giving you a cent. The net has given us a power to wield and at the risk of sounding cheesy, with great power comes great responsibility.

In the light of the recent James Gunn incident, nothing screams online vigilance more than what has befallen this Hollywood director. Roughly 10 years ago Mr Gunn, in what appears an attempt of provocation, made some really unsavoury tweets. For those of you not in the know, James Gunn is most notable for his work with Marvel Studios and the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Gunn was also known for his anti- Trump stance, something which has now cost him his job. Disney owns Marvel and once they got wind of these old tweet, uncovered by a staunch Trump supporter, he was fired.

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I’ve read the tweets and they are atrocious, but here’s the thing, why didn’t this information bug Disney beforehand? Only once unearthed, did the giant studio step in; the very same studio that employed Johnny Depp in light of his domestic abuse allegations by his ex-wife, Amber Heard.  Gunn apologised years ago for those tasteless tweets and why should we not believe in the capacity of a human being to grow, evolve and change for the better within a span of 10 years. Should no one be given a second chance? I’m not here to defend Gunn. His tweets really are off-side and one can see why Disney’s actions were swift, but the complexity of the situation begs for revision.

Social media icons
Source: Pixabay

Top Retro Gadgets Making a Comeback

Your Online Past & Your Future

James Gunn is but one example of being retroactively punished. Is punishment way after the fact applicable, especially when the person hasn’t physically done anything to anyone, and in addition has apologised? I think that what’s important to take home from all of this is that as an online user, you need to watch your step, especially in light of what you say, because once it’s out there, its digitally entrenched and if someone doesn’t like you, he or she can dig up that dirt, use it out of context to accentuate its already questionable attributes and this my dear readers can cost you your job, your livelihood and your reputation.  So take care of yourself in the digital space and if you can’t think of anything good to put there, then best you keep it to yourself and then work on yourself.

Past and present social media
Source: Pixabay

The Rise Of Robot Chefs

Moley Robotics kitchen robots
Source: Showmetech

You’ve probably been in your kitchen, once again forced to slave over a hot stove, and asked yourself why robot chefs have not yet been invented. The good news is that they have been created, and are already in use in a restaurant in Boston. The bad news is that they are not yet available for private use, although that is likely only a matter of time. So, don’t put down the frying pan and start relaxing just yet!

Also, if you were imagining a quirky, humanoid robot along the lines of C3PO chopping carrots, flipping pancakes and cracking jokes, you’ll be very disappointed. The so-called robot chefs in Boston aren’t very visually impressive at all, and bear about as much resemblance to C3PO as a cement mixer. In fact, the robot chefs look rather a great deal like cement mixers, which really does kill much of the excitement. The robotic systems are however a great deal more functional than impressive to look at, which is often the case when it comes to real world robotics.

On the other hand, such robotic systems in the kitchen are likely to still advance considerably, which gives hope that a C3PO style robot may yet be making an appearance in your home.

Kitchens Of The Future

But before you anticipate a C3PO kitchen robot, divert your attention instead to a pair of alarmingly human-like robot arms created by Moley Robotics. The arms are designed to be installed in a kitchen, along with the enormous bulk of complicated machinery that goes along with them. When powered up, the arms can apparently create over 2,000 meals, which is a great deal more than your average Joe equipped with a whisk and a cookbook.

The robotic cooking arms were revealed at the Hannover Messe Technology Fair, and a rather impressive demonstration showed them cooking crab bisque. According to the creators, chef Tim Anderson helped train the arms, working in a motion capture studio. After observing Anderson, the arms can then apparently recreate the movements, and imitate a five star chef as if it was no more than a stroll in the park. It all sounds very impressive, and reason for the lazy among us everywhere to anticipate all the fun things we can do, like playing blackjack online or watching TV, while a robot does the cooking.

Still Some Time To Wait

It almost sounds too good to be true, and a sceptic may start asking questions, like does the kitchen have to be laid out in a very specific way in order for the arms to operate, and do the arms know if they’ve made a mistake, and dropped a pan of hot oil on the dog? Either way, Moley Robotics said that they aim to offer the kitchen upgrade to the public in 2017, at a price of about $15,000.

Both aspects of this statement are reason for concern. The first being that it is 2018, and no kitchens yet are automated. The second being that the price is more than a little steep, and probably beyond the reach of the average middle income household. Still, there is certainly reason to believe that we may just have robotic chefs in our lifetime, even if they look more like cement mixers than a Star Wars character. The cement mixer robots in the Boston restaurant work flawlessly, even if they lack the personality that we all hope for in our robots.

So, anticipate robots in your kitchen at some point in the future, but don’t be too let down if they simply fall short of offering a true science fiction experience. At least they’ll chop carrots perfectly and whip up cordon bleu meals efficiently, and that’s more than can be said for me!

Build A Smart Home Without Breaking the Bank

Turn your home into a smart home on a budget
Source: Pixabay

In an age where smartphones are now the accepted norm, other technology also seems to be raising its own IQ. The phrase ‘smart home’ is becoming more common, ushering us into an era where our living quarters are evolving to make our lives easier than ever before. There’s only one problem; smart homes aren’t exactly cheap.

But don’t give up your dream of having a home with lamps that turn on remotely, live dealer black jack games that stream directly to your TV and thermostats that adjust the heat at your every whim just yet. It turns out, that with a bit of ingenuity and careful buying, you can build your own smart home.

Take a look at these amazing items that will ensure a smart home for you; you won’t have to break the bank to buy them either.

Smart Plugs

Smart plugs are the first, and cheapest, step to making your home smart. They simply fit into a wall socket, and accept the plug of any electronic device. The twist? Smart plugs can be controlled via smartphone applications. This means that the electronic device you’ve plugged into the smart device can now be switched on and off via your phone. Neat, right?

Working best with coffee makers, lamps, and other such things that are best switched on at a certain time, anyone who is a little bit creative can make a whole lot of things smart, and for a price that is very reasonable.

Smart Lamps

Smart lamps do what you’d expect, more or less. Once they have connected to your home Wi-Fi, they are remotely tuneable, with a wide variety of colours available. Alternatively, they can be set to automatically change their colour and brightness over time, as you prefer.

They may cost somewhat more than an ordinary lamp, but are a step in the right direction for a home fully accessible via smartphone.

Wi-Fi Thermostat

While pricier than the other two devices above, the Wi-Fi thermostat is arguably the most essential. It does just what you would expect, allowing access to your heating via a smartphone. But once you get one and have it installed, you’ll ask yourself how you ever used to get up to adjust the temperature.

Turn up the heat smartly
Source: Pixabay

Remote Streaming

Considering how much we rely on our smartphones, tablets and computers for multi-media functionality, it’s easy to see why this device makes it on to the list. Remote streaming devices allow for instant transmission of signals to your television, simply by fitting into an HDMI port. This means images on your phone, laptop or tablet can be watched on your television, with no fuss.

Wi-Fi Security Cameras

Also a device that many would consider essential; smart security cameras stream directly to your phone, via your Wi-Fi. This means that you can check up on home wherever you are, any time. Plus, many smart security cameras have built in motion detectors, and will connect with smart lights. This means that if the device detects movement, it can turn on any outside lights in the vicinity.

Smart Batteries

Designed to be used in smoke detectors, smart batteries will send signals to your phone, when the smoke detector is activated. So, even if you are not at home, you can be notified of potential fires at the household. The batteries can of course send the signal to multiple devices, and can also be put on snooze if you happen to be cooking up a particularly smoky storm in the kitchen.

Wi-Fi Grill Assistant

Last on the list, and perhaps a bit less essential is the Wi-Fi grill assistant. This device has a prong that is inserted into cooking food, and will send a signal to a phone when the food in question reaches a certain temperature. It is useful for those who like their steak at just the right temperature, and is the ultimate smart home tool for the avid foodie.