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#Hack.Jozi Challenge delivers 10 digital finalists

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The top ten of the 2016 #Hack.Jozi Challenge have been announced. The varied ideas include ways for parents to reduce screen time for their children, a free pick up and drop off laundry service and an online platform to upload or download building plans.

#Hack.Jozi Challenge is a project of the City of Johannesburg and the JCSE (Joburg Centre for Software Engineering) at Wits University. Ravi Naidoo, executive director for Economic Development for the City of Johannesburg, says they were overwhelmed not only by the number of entries to the 2016 #Hack.Jozi Challenge but also by their quality.

“The 2016 shortlist of ten finalists is an impressive list of young people with new and innovative ideas in the digital arena,” he says. “After a rigorous process that has been playing out over the past six weeks, we now have ten superb businesses which have fought through three rounds of the competition and have been judged on the technical feasibility of their venture, scalability and the wow-factor.

“We have touched more than 100 entrepreneurs through this challenge. A demo day will be held on Friday, 13 May when all ten tech-preneurs will present their ideas that they have thrashed out with their peers and mentors during the course of the challenge.

“We are also pleased to see that other government agencies such as the City of Cape Town and the Department of Water and Sanitation have taken a cue from the City of Joburg to embrace the digital era in their environments and encourage technology innovation as a way to address relevant problems and promote entrepreneurship.”

Feedback from participants has been extremely positive.

“My  developer and I struggled for six months to solve one of the issues on our application,” says Barend Craven of TimeWise. “Prof Barry Dwolatzky of the JCSE suggested a solution in five minutes that solved our problem.”

Now, judges will have to make the difficult decision on which aspiring business will win R1 million and two runners up which will win R350 000 each. All three will be supported by a business mentor who will guide them on how best to use the prize money and further develop their idea into a successful profitable enterprise.

The top three winners of the 2016 #HackJozi Challenge will be announced on Thursday, 19 May 2016.

Potential tech-preneurs were called on earlier this year to develop technology solutions to everyday Jozi problems and enter the #Hack.Jozi Challenge.

The top one hundred entrants, all start-up entrepreneurs, attended a special entrepreneurship and business training boot camp geared to helping them develop their great digital ideas into possible business opportunities. The top 20 selected received additional business mentorship.

The top 10 will enjoy a one-year free membership of the well-known ICT Hub in Braamfontein, which is a Wits University initiative under the leadership of Professor Barry Dwolatzky.

Its success in its launch year in 2015 saw the City of Johannesburg commit R5 million for the second #Hack.Jozi Challenge this year.

“This competition is designed to accelerate early stage ICT startups. It supports capacity development, job creation and enterprise development in our City,” says Naidoo.

The city will not take any equity in any of the businesses.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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