Posts tagged south africa

Top 5 (almost) local tech podcasts

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OK, so only two out of the five are local.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been searching for the best local and international technology podcasts. I’m tired of listening to the same fools drone on on our local radio stations. Cape Talk isn’t bad and some of the presenters are pretty sharp, but they hardly cover technology at all. Their 3 minute “Hard Drive” slot every afternoon is pretty useless, but I understand that it may appeal to their less tech savvy listeners.

For my trip into work and home each day I wanted to find a few podcasts that could keep me up to date with the stuff I care about. At first I tried to limit my selection to local content only, but there simply isn’t much out there. Unless I’m missing it.

My search has by no stretch of the imagination been extensive, but the list below is what I’ve settled on for the time being. If anyone has any suggestions on other podcasts I should listen to, especially if they are local, please leave comments below.

zatechshow.png 1 – ZA Tech Show. Currently my favorite weekly podcast.It’s local and covers a wide range of technology and technology news. Hosted by Simon Dingle and a few other local journalists and tech junkies it provides a good laugh and even some great insights. As long as there is beer… Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.
buzz-out-loud.png 2 – Buzz Out Loud. CNET’s Buzz out load has been around for a long time. They have done more than 1000 episodes to date and as long as you can surive the American accents you’ll love the show. Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.
engadget.jpg 3 – The Engadget Show. They have recently relaunched this podcast in a new live format. The first one featured a long interview with Steve Ballmer on the day of the Windows 7 launch. I hope they keep the quality of the show and caliber of the guests this high. Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.
majornelson.png 4 – Major Nelson Radio. A little niche, but since I do all my gaming on the platform I find it very informative. He runs a good show and often has exciting guests. He actually works for Microsoft, so although he doesn’t provide you with the inside track, he usually has has facts straight. Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.
macabout.png 5 – mac:about. The only other local show my list. They have only done one episode so far, so it remains to be seen how long the show will last and how it progresses and matures. It’s Apple centric, but that’s a good thing. Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.

Google maps now has SA direction information

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Anyone that regularly uses Google Maps or Google Earth would have noticed that the level of detail and the correctness of the detail for South Africa has been improving significantly over the past few months.

The first thing I noticed in Google Earth was the addition of some 3D buildings to the Cape Town CBD area. Shortly afterwards there was a marked improvement on the amount of street level data that was available.

I’ve also seen the Google Streetview car driving around Cape Town a number of times. I assume all the fuss is to provide tourists with decent mapping information when they arrive in their droves for the World Cup next year.

streetview-prius.jpg

Today I caught a tweet (thanks @kishyr) saying that direction information is also working in Google maps. I quickly tried it out myself and I’m happy to announce that it is working and appears to work pretty darn well. It even sensibly calculates different directions based on whether you are in a motor vehicle or on foot. The transit direction information doesn’t work yet, but then again neither does our public transport system.

google-map.png google-list.png

Above are screenshots from my iPhone 3GS detailing directions from the Cape Town CBD (my current location) to Hout Bay for a motor vehicle. When I change to “on foot”, it redirects you along Victoria road all along the coast.

Good work Google ! But remember, don’t be evil.

Create a UK iTunes account without a credit card

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With the proliferation of iPhones, iPod Touches and more and more people using iTunes, I am regularly asked how I manage to get all the album artwork for all my music as well as being able purchase music and other content not available in the South African iTunes store. The simple answer is that you need an account in one of the iTunes stores outside of South Africa.

Apple closed quite a few loopholes that one used to be able exploit to achieve this, but fortunately there is still a way. I’ve taken bits and pieces from other websites and blogs and a little of my own experience with doing this and put together a step by step guide to get you to iTunes goodness.

  1. Fire up iTunes and click on the “iTunes Store” icon in the sidebar.
  2. Scroll right to the bottom of the page and click “Change Country”.
  3. Change Country

    Change Country

  4. On the next page, scroll to the bottom and select “United Kingdon”.
  5. United Kingdom

    United Kingdom

  6. Now go into the App Store and find a free app and “buy” it. Any app will do, as long as it is free. There are loads.
  7. The following screen will pop up. Click on the “Create New Account” button.
  8. Create Account

    Create Account

  9. On the next few pages you will need to agree to some terms and conditions and then fill in all your details. When it comes to the address, the only important thing is a valid postal code. Fill in a valid UK postal code that you know or get one from here: http://www.fakenamegenerator.com/.
  10. The last page you will be presented with will be the payment page. On this page select the “None” option.
  11. Payment method = None

    Payment method = None

You’re done creating your account. You may now go forth and make use of Genius, download artwork and purchase anything that is free in the music or app store.

If you’d like to buy content that has a price attached to it, all you need to do is redeem an iTunes voucher. You can purchase UK iTunes store vouchers from gamepointsnow.com. I’ve used them a number of times for Xbox live vouchers and iTunes vouchers. Very reliable and I have never had an issue. They make use of either Paypal or Google Checkout which both work with a South African credit card. You pay a small premium for buying from them, but it’s the simplest solution I’ve found so far.

Your voucher arrives via email within seconds and then you just click on the “Redeem Voucher” link in the iTunes store.

Right. You’re set. Time to starting fully enjoying the iTunes experience.

Silicon Cape overview video

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An overview of what happened at the Silicon Cape event in a short Zoopy video.

You can also see Helen Zille’s and Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s presentation on the Zoopy site.

Finally. My 3GS arrives.

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I thought I post a follow up on my article about the delay in getting my hands on the new iPhone 3GS.

After the most bizarre chain of events yesterday morning, the phone suddenly arrived on my desk.

After yet another call to my service provider to get an update on when the handset might become available I was again informed that there was still no stock and that Vodacom and The Core Group would not commit to any dates as to when they may become available. Luckily though, I was on the list of 78 people waiting for stock. Lucky lucky me.

About an hour later I was confronted by a delivery guy with a parcel addressed to me. A few squiggles on the delivery form, a few tears here and there and I found myself staring at white iPhone 3GS box.

The phone that isn't in stock. Apparently.

The phone that isn't in stock. Apparently.

I thought maybe it was a joke. I bet the box is empty.

Well blow me down. I opened the box to find a shiny new iPhone 3GS. Joy.

I haven’t let my service provider know that it has arrived yet. Let’s see how long it takes them to get back to me about it. Who knows, maybe a second one will arrive when they finally get stock…

Eish.

ZA News turns to technology to work around SABC bull$h!+

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Although this is not directly technology related, I thought it was a great example of how technology and the Internet were able to bypass a quagmire of political bull and get a “controversial” TV show “on the air”.

zanews.png

ZA News was created by local cartoonist and satirist Zapiro (Jonathon Shapiro) and is a satirical view on South African politics. It was supposed to air on the SABC earlier this year (link to the front page article on the Star) but due to all kinds of political bumbling at the SABC it never saw the light of day.

On the 5th of October 2009, the Mail and Guardian decided to start streaming the show from their website as it was clearly never going to make it onto local TV. Check the inaugural episode below:

Although they won’t have as big a local audience as they would have had airing it on SABC, they now have the whole world as a potential audience.

The show cracks me up. The visuals provided by puppets alone is enough to make anyone that knows anything about South African politics wet themselves.

Make it part of your daily comic relief.

Love your work M&G and Zapiro. High fives all round.

SABC, you still suck.

With top speakers, Silicon Cape generates a ‘real buzz’

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I was going to write something about the Silicon Cape launch event yesterday myself, but I’ve read so many articles already this morning, that writing another one that says the same thing would just be a waste of time and space on my blog.

siliconcape.jpg

Of all the ones I’ve read I think that Ivo Vegter from Tech Central summed it up best. Excerpt below and click the link to read the rest of the article.

With top speakers, Silicon Cape generates a ‘real buzz’: “Many innovation hubs have been proposed around the world, ostensibly modelling themselves on Silicon Valley. There have been successes, but most peter out. Silicon Cape, launched on 8 October 2009 in Cape Town, hit all the right notes.
The key element in any start-up hotspot, explain Silicon Cape Initiative founders Vinny Lingham (himself a successful startup […]

(Via TechCentral.)

When will todays smartphone be a “dumbphone” ?

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I read this article on TechCentral this morning (thanks for summing it up Duncan) and had some assumptions that I made and communicated to an overseas company reaffirmed.

The power of mobile technology and more specifically mobile Internet technology is the only answer to bring online services to the masses in South Africa. I’m definitely not the first person to make this revelation and there are a number of local organisations that are pioneering mobile technologies to deliver services to people that don’t have access to the Internet from a computer.

Less than 10% of our population has access to the Internet at home. I don’t see this changing much over the next five to ten years either. The barriers in place for a man in street to get access the Internet from home are almost insurmountable. Firstly he would need electricity at home, a luxury that a large percentage of our population does not have. He would need a computer (in whatever form), a telephone line (OK, there are other options to having a telephone line, but 3G usage rates are still way to high for them to be a feasible option), some kind of modem and an account with some form of ISP. No mean feat for someone that may earn less than R2,000 a month.

The problem that the man in street faces today is that the cellphone in his (or her) pocket is probably not a smartphone. The small screen and limited browser capabilities on his device limit his ability to view content and interact with online services. More expesive mobile devices (smartphones) solve this problem, so the question is, “When will the smartphone of today be the dumbphone of tomorrow ?”. At the rate that mobile technology is progressing, probably not that long. These advancements are what will make the Internet truly accessible to the South African public.

Imagine the possibilities that exist once everyone has a phone that can render a web 2.0 site. Accessing (well designed) government websites that provide you with valuable information, allowing you to see your rates account, paying your new vehicle registration, booking your drivers license, applying for a new ID book, etc etc. There are obviously some other challenges around security and verification, but at least part of the process can be online instead of waiting in the same queue three times before being able to get your drivers license renewed.

In the meantime I hope companies like Google continue to develop SMS based services that enable people in Uganda to benefit from online services with their dumbphones.

Cellphone users to hit 4,6bn this year: “The world will have 4,6bn mobile phone users by the end of the year, according to new research from the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU). At the same time, mobile broadband subscriptions are expected to reach 600m.
According to the ITU’s ‘The World in 2009: ICT Facts and Figures’ shows there are now more mobile […]

(Via TechCentral.)

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