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iSmile – The Tech Report: 18 -22 November

MONDAY

W.W.W – World Wide Web … or Wild Wild West!

While this invention by Sir Tim Berners-Lee is probably THE most important advancement of our times, it’s also brought with it a new kind of peril.

A danger that is unseen, could be right next door, or at the other end of the world and uses a mouse and a keyboard as weapons. So the best form of protection here is to educate yourself, to learn exactly how it all works.

It’s such a serious threat that last week, dozens of financial institutions in London tested their online defences by staging a large-scale cyber-attack. The exercise was aimed at being able to combat a sustained attack from hackers.

Now Google and Microsoft are part of an Internet Safety Summit being hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron today.

So you can see, this is not something to be taken lightly. Right here in Cape Town today, the Internet Safety Campaign is also hosting their Cyber Summit, which aims to bring a broader spectrum of people together as an advisory army of sorts.

Campaign Director Natheer Brown says, “It’s painfully clear users don’t take internet security seriously enough. The Cyber Summit hopes to find a way of addressing that.” To this Natheer adds that we have a lot of catching up to do, compared to other countries – such as the U.S and the U.K where internet safety campaigns have been running for some time.

It’s not like we have NOT been exposed to the messages.

Every year, we are warned against online bank phishing attacks, which have been steadily increasing every year.

And recently, i-Smile revealed how a massive percentage of people use easily crackable passwords like password123 online.

For now, the Cyber Summit is by invitation only. For more information email info@internetsafety.co.za

TUESDAY

It’s that time of year when all of us are desperately trying to watch what we eat and get into shape. And of course every little bit helps. Friends are hunting down there old Zumba DVDs, while others are investing in pedometers and other fitness tracking gadgets. When it comes to the latter, there’s no shortage of smart phone APPs, online trainers and the like. But those wanting to watch what they eat are still stuck with having to log their daily calorie intake at best or at worse, taking their chances with what the labels say.

This is all due to come to an end, with the invention of a nifty little gadget called TellSpec, which will allow you to scan your food anywhere at any time. Isabel Hoffman and Steven Watson are the inventors, trying to raise crowd-funding to go into commercial production.

In their online prospectus, they talk investors through how the tiny little gadget works. It likes like a little garage remote that you point at your food, press a button and wave about gently. You can do this with a slice of bread, a packet of chips or a plate of food, and seconds later your smart phone beeps.

In their video, Steven can be seen using the TellSpec on a bottle of wine and even an apple, to check if it contains any pesticides.

Of course the interface appears very user-friendly but as with most of these sorts of things there’s a highly complicated back end. Isabel explains that TellSpec gives ordinary people access to industrial spectrometer technology.

All over the world, there are laws that allow producers to hide harmful ingredients from consumers. For example, in some places you don’t have to mention tartrazine up to a certain level. Steven says TellSpec allows you to go beyond the label and measure everything including actual calories being consumed. There are other similar APPS available, but none that uses actual spectrometer tech to do the job. TellSpec is offering early backers the device and two years of unlimited food scan analysis.

So go check them out online and become an early crowd funder of what I reckon is a very useful machine.

WEDNESDAY

Touch typists have been the bane of the rest of us for many years. In case you didn’t know we have secretly despised you for a long time, especially when you type away while talking to us. In fact, we talk to you just so we can watch you do that – with a healthy dose of disdain, of course!

Well, it’s about time we get our own back.

Being able to transplant what we think into words at real-time speed, has been the dream of many an aspiring writer, and journalist of course.

Well, how about being able to type 4 times faster than THE best shorthand typist? Or just being able to control your PC just by talking to it, starting programs, using menus, surfing the web?

The answer lies in a digital voice recording system known as Dragon Naturally Speaking, now available locally.

This is the long-awaited lifeline for frustrated authors wanting to write that memoirs, but feeling beat by their painfully slow two-finger typing style.

Fred Paizes distributes the system locally.

He says ordinary people can finally dictate normally into a system that can keep pace with normal speech at around 250 words per minute, with between 94 and 99% accuracy.

In certain fields, this is clearly going to become a no-brainer. We’re thinking legal secretaries and court stenographers.

But it’s not just for those of us who are touch-type challenged. Others who will find this useful are those responsible for transcribing conferences and travelling researchers, among others. Visually challenged people could also find it life transforming, especially since your spoken word can be transferred to email or Word document.

So, does this mean the death of the keyboard and mouse?

This report was still written the old way, with two index fingers and the occasional ring finger.

THURSDAY

Since we like to occasionally focus on young business minds, we can’t overlook the most exciting aspects of Global Entrepreneurship Week this week.

The Shape eKasi Entrepreneurship Conference is being held in Khayelitsha today and tomorrow (this week), and it has the support of some very massive names in the business world, such as the Rani Brothers and Sir Richard Branson.

Loyiso Mtebuka is one of Cape Town’s movers and shakers who co-founded the eKasi Entrepreneurship WEEK.

The Conference is going to provide a valuable platform for young business people, being able to mingle and network with business developers, government departments, agencies and institutions, private sector executives, procurement managers, investors, academics, mentors, and so forth.

There’ll be opportunities to pitch concepts and also listen to ideas from others.

And in news from the future Loyiso has got some innovative thinking around how we can tackle our social and business challenges. He says this thinking has got a particular point of origin.

The conference hopes to bring together citizens, state and private sector to work on a common goal of developing township entrepreneurs to solve social challenges through innovation.

Loyiso says while there are some amazing opportunities, it’s also clear that government is NOT doing enough to stimulate entrepreneurship.

The gathering also includes a Business Venture Competition, the eKasi Business Awards and the eKasi Entrepreneurship Expo.

Loyiso believes conferences likes these are crucial, not only because they can build capacity, but also because they nurture your confidence in ourselves.

Sounds like a philosophy we here at Smile FM can very easily support

For more info, they are on FB, Twitter and Vimeo, or visit shapeekasi.com or www.ekasientrepreneurs.co.za

FRIDAY

We just can’t stop talking about ZACUBE-1 – South Africa’s first Nano satellite, which was finally blasted in space yesterday morning, after a year’s delay.

Prof Robert Van Zyl is the director of the French SA Institute of Technology, which with the help of the SA National Space Agency, was behind the success of ZaCube-1 – our first cubesat, measuring just one litre of volume and weighing 1.2kg.

It was designed and built by postgraduate students right here in the Mother City at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Robert says it was a very big day for them yesterday. And they had even more reason to celebrate.

Tshipiso started working almost immediately, after going into orbit.

But Robert says it is extremely exciting nonetheless. And that is about as exciting as a scientist can get.

Robert says Tshipiso is really an amazing piece of technology that does his job under very hazardous conditions, and at a dizzying speed.

And now all the fun and games are over; the celebration’s done. Nou begin die harde werk.

And the rest of the team has already started working on the designs for both ZACube-2 – a bigger CubeSat that they hope will be part of a European mission in 2015.

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