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Essential apps for small biz

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SEDA Nelson Mandela Bay ICT incubator (SNII) has identified seven apps that are essential for South African small businesses and entrepreneurs.

“Our team wanted to review and curate a holy-grail of essential apps for start-ups, young businesses and entrepreneurs.  Our mission was to create apps that would increase productivity, offer innovation and boost profitability,” said Scott Zambonini, SNII enterprise development manager.

“Now there is no more excuse for mediocrity. The neat selection of apps takes into account all the unique challenges of new start-ups and small businesses,” he said.

These seven innovations are:

1.   Resource Guru

If you are having difficulty keeping track of your schedules, Resource Gugu is your answer. It is a web-based resource scheduling and calendar tool which specialises in online collaborative software that can be used for employment, project management, events, task management or resource planning. The scheduling software is designed to automate the process of scheduling appointments and staff time. Packages range from R290 per month ($19 a month) to R1 508 ($99).

2.   Headspace

If you are heading for burn-out, you need to breathe and get this app. Stay cool, calm, and collected with Headspace – a meditation app that will strengthen your state of mind.  The first 10 days offer guided mediation sessions free of charge.  The app provides animations explaining how the mind works, and offers tips on how to sit and breathe effectively. You can also track your activity, and set reminders with the app. Once the free trial period is completed, a subscription for more content is available for R107 ($7).

3.   Growth Geeks

As a start-up entrepreneur or small business, you might not yet be in a position to employ staff. So the best option is to hire the tech warrior army of Growth Greeks. Growth Geeks is a marketplace of freelancers specialising in electronic marketing stuff for social, SEO and content.  They are vetted and ranked by other users.

4.  Clear

This task-management app allows you to create and manage separate lists for daily tasks, along with the setting of reminders. We loved the design interface. Users can create several lists and multiple schedules. The price of Clear isR76 ($4.99) for iPhones and R153 ($9.99) for desktops.

5.  Shoeboxed

Finally! Here is an app that helps you to digitize paper.  If you are a hoarder of receipts, notes, lists and business cards, say hi to Shoeboxed, and goodbye to those disorganised piles of paper messing up your desk and piling up in your car, wallet and handbag. Now you can dump them into a digital shoe box.   This app allows you to digitize and store receipts, invoices and business cards in an easily searchable archive. An additional bonus included with the app is a GPS-based mileage tracker.

6.  Basecamp

Basecamp is a really user-friendly project-management app. It has a sleek and intuitive graphic user interface that allows you to invite team members, include file attachments and create checklists as you check on the progress of the task or project.  With Basecamp, you pay per project instead of per user. Plans start at R305 ($20) per month for 10 projects. Multi-tasking mutant entrepreneurs who need more can sign up for unlimited access with no cap on the number of projects for R2284 ($150).

7.  Square

Square Register is a user-friendly point-of-sale system, available in the App Store and Google Play. The app accepts debit and credit cards, EMV chip cards and Android Pay. If you are a small business owner who depends on point-of-sale purchases, but you have a limited budget for payment systems, then plug in a small card-reader to your smartphone or tablet. With this app you can swipe credit cards and process payments just like any established retailer. You don’t have to be connected to the Internet, you can use email or text messages to send receipts, and the system even allows for your generous customers to leave a tip of 15%, 20% or 25%. There is no monthly fee; instead, you’ll pay 2.75% of each transaction, or a little more if you have to manually enter the payment information instead of swiping.

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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MWC: Next generation of inflight connectivity to be unveiled

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Next week at Mobile World Congress, the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal progress on its mission towards enabling the next generation of inflight connectivity. This follows a significant start for the Alliance, which has seen membership increase five-fold since the first meeting in June of last year. The Alliance has a new research laboratory setup and continues progress through its three working groups, writing specifications for the technology, requirements, and operations.

These developments represent a huge leap towards the goal of making connectivity as easy and enjoyable in the skies as it is on the ground. Appearing as part of the Airbus stand (Hall 6, stand 6G34), the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal specification topics that have been completed and published to its membership.

“The passenger experience with inflight connectivity remains one of the great technology challenges. From Day One we have been determined to deliver on our mission to bring industries and technologies together to make the inflight internet experience simple to access and a delight to use,” said the Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, Jack Mandala.

“I have been tremendously encouraged by the enthusiastic and committed response we have seen and the widening areas of expertise we can call upon as more and more companies and organisations continue to join us,” he added.

Announced during MWC 2018, the Seamless Air Alliance has since grown to twenty-three membercompanies with more than one-hundred key personnel from across the membership participating in its three working groups, with numbers continuing to increase.

The Seamless Air Alliance was created by founding members Airbus, Airtel, Delta Air Lines, OneWeb and Sprint, and quickly joined by Air France KLM, Aeromexico, and GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes and global technology leaders including Astronics, Collins Aerospace, Comtech, Cyient, iDirect, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Latecoere, Nokia, and Panasonic. 

Today, the Alliance is pleased to announce five additional new members: Adaptive Channel, Etihad Airways, GlobalReach Technology, Safran, and SITAONAIR.

“We are extremely pleased to have these companies join and be a part of the companies driving the next generation of connectivity.” said Mr Mandala.

The Seamless Air Alliance will enable travelers boarding any flight, on any airline, anywhere in the world, to use their own devices to automatically connect to the Internet with no complicated login process nor paywall to scramble over.

The Alliance is also announcing the release of a new research study on the economic benefit of standardization on the inflight connectivity market at Mobile World Congress. This report is available for download at https://www.seamlessalliance.com/publications/

The Alliance is moving rapidly towards an expected demonstration of the technology later in 2019 and anticipates massive interest in Barcelona from the whole communications eco-system.

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