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CES 2016: Agassi serves educational volley

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At CES this year, Square Panda announced a partnership with the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. It also launched a phonics play set, which it says will promote literacy among preschool children.

Square Panda, an education technology startup that designs connected learning toys and digital games to fuel the curiosity of early learners, has announced a partnership with the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education and launched a phonics play-set to kick off the 2016 International CES. This is the first in Square Panda’s line of educational products aimed at promoting literacy among preschool children. Along with its debut, Square Panda is proud to announce the appointment of Andre Agassi as a board member. He is also a founder of the Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund which was established to provide investors seeking both financial and societal returns access to the growth of America’s most innovative educational organizations.

Andre Agassi And Square Panda Launch Connected Phonics Playset At CES 2016

Andre Agassi And Square Panda Launch Connected Phonics Playset At CES 2016

“For over twenty years, Andre has made it his mission to bring quality education to every child in this country,” said Tom Boeckle, Founder and Chairman of Square Panda. “We look forward to working with both Andre and the Foundation to improve education for students across the country.”“Square Panda is unique and has the potential to create a generation of confident readers,” said Andre Agassi, Chairman and Founder of the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. “I know one of the most important skills for a child to possess as they enter kindergarten is a basic understanding of phonics. If you can teach a child basic reading, then the child will begin their educational experience with self-confidence. We are excited to team up with Square Panda to launch this revolutionary new learning system.”

Designed to teach, engage, and entertain early learners (ages three and up), the phonics play-set uses connected letter toys and multi-sensory apps to explore early reading skills. Drawing from the latest research on phonics and multi-sensory instruction, Square Panda’s adaptive technology combines multi-sensory learning, humor, and exploratory play. Built upon proprietary hardware and software technology, its connected play-set adapts to recognize what a child is ready to learn and presents challenges to stretch growth and language skills. A video of the phonics play-set in action is available herehttp://bit.ly/squarepandanewsvideo.

“Square Panda Phonics Play-set is the first connected device for early learners that teaches phonics and print in a completely multi-sensory way,” said Andy Butler, CEO of Square Panda. “Square Panda is currently in pilot programs at various Head Start chapters, as well as day centers in the Las Vegas area. We are encouraged by the education community’s positive responses and look forward to continue working with parents and educators around the country to advance reading readiness skills for young children before they enter nursery school.”

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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