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Mini Maker Faire returns to CT

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After a successful inaugural edition in 2015, the Cape Town Mini Maker Faire is back with an even bigger and better event this year.

Placing a spotlight on DIY and technology, this year’s Mini Maker Faire will bring techies, tinkerers, hackers, hobbyists, crafters, artists, tech gurus, authors and inventors together to engage with the public and exchange ideas at the Cape Town Science Centre in Observatory from 26 to 28 August 2016.

Described as the “Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth”, the Mini Maker Faire is a space where people with a passion for learning, collaboration and creativity can connect. Part science fair, part trade fair, and part something entirely new, the event offers a great day out for people of all ages to interact with amazing creations and experience the exciting world of the Makers.

“Makers across the world are shaking up the way that we think and interact with our environment. They’re coming up with innovative solutions to help solve social problems, as well as some really fun and creative projects – and that’s why we are returning for another year of the Cape Town Mini Maker Faire,” says Alayne Reesberg, Programme Director and Producer of Cape Town Mini Maker Faire, and former CEO of World Design Capital Cape Town 2014.

“Leading on from World Design Capital, we wanted to continue demonstrating and celebrating all of these wonderful projects,” she continues, “allowing people to meet the Makers and learn from them. We enjoy seeing this spark conversations and further action around the Maker Movement in Cape Town.”

The global Maker Movement has its roots in engineering, industrial design, manufacturing and education. It’s DIY on a whole new level, fusing technology and creative ideas with traditional craftsmanship to create and market products, and influence a new wave of manufacturing innovation. The movement empowers people to create, imagine and solve problems differently, calling for collaboration and peer-to-peer idea sharing or a “do it with others” (DIWO) approach.

The Cape Town Mini Maker Faire is based on the model of the original Maker Faire, which launched in San Francisco in 2006, and is a licensed member of what is now a global family with Maker Faires being held around the world. Globally, the event caters to the growing legions of aspiring Makers wanting to participate in hands-on activities and learn new skills. “We want to offer lots of opportunities for hands-on DIY interactions for adults as well as kids,” adds Reesberg. “We want to create an open and inclusive event, which encourages these values beyond the event, and expands the connectedness of the community of creatives.”

More than 60 exciting local Makers will be on show, as well as installations by the Faire’s knowledge partners: PriceWaterhouseCoopers Western Cape, Stellenbosch University’s Launch Lab, the Cape Innovation and Technology Institute and the University of the Western Cape. Exhibits will range from home-grown drones to robotics and Arduino projects, space projects and kit makers to 3D printers, rockets and RC toys, radios to gaming and electric vehicles, as well as a host of handmade craft and fashion projects and some exciting installations of “art cars” straight from the Afrika Burn festival.

In addition, an enclosed drone zone will let visitors test their flying skills, while the PPC Imaginarium, South Africa’s most supportive art and design competition for emerging creatives, will showcase industrial design, fashion, film, jewellery and sculpture all made from concrete. PPC Imaginarium will also host an interactive workshop, together with Cemcrete, where members of the public can learn how to make their own objects from quick-drying cement.

A popular attraction with both kids and their “kidults” at the 2015 Mini Maker Faire was the participative Maker Station, run by Felix Holm and his team at the Cape Town Maker Station based in Woodstock. Designed especially with children in mind, this feature returns again this year with another mountain of defunct appliances that can be upcycled into innovative creations.

Another highlight of this year’s event is a specially curated session presented by renowned style icon and fashion editor, Jackie Burger, now of Salon 58 fame. “Jackie & the Makers” will see Burger introduce and interact with leading fashion designers and artisans who will share their creative journeys and how they bring their uniquely crafted apparel to life. This stylish, sophisticated affair is designed for anyone with a flair for fashion

The second annual Cape Town Mini Maker Faire is sponsored by the City of Cape Town, PPC, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and Peninsula Beverage Company.  The event will take place between 26 to 28 August 2016 at the Cape Town Science Centre, 370B Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town, one of the support partners of the event. Tickets can be purchased via quicket.co.za. Tickets for “Jackie & the Makers” will be sold as a separate item.

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AppDate: Prepare for space

In this week’s AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Space Nation Navigator, Hitman Sniper, Snake Mask, Memrise, WhatsApp Web, and Carrot Weather.

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Space Nation Navigator

Space Nation Navigator is a bit of a strange app. It is part game, part exercise and part educational. On the game side, users have to navigate the Mars Rover, put the International Space Station back into orbit or move their Martians to safety before a sand storm hits Mars. When it comes to exercise, Space Nation Navigator provides users with a range of exercises and Yoga videos to prepare them for space travel and working in an anti-gravity environment. The education aspect teaches users about the planets, and star constellations, and then offers quizzes on what has been taught.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Memrise

Memrise takes a new approach to help people learn new languages. Instead of providing a user with random phrases and words to memorise, the app connects you with a person already fluent in the language you want to learn. In turn, the person you are speaking to wants to learn the language in which you are fluent. Once your profile is filled out and languages selected, it connects you with people around the world who are interested in your language, and then allows you to chat with them in real-time. Memrise also lets one learn new languages through games, chatbots and grammarbots that help with spelling, tenses and pronunciations.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Hitman Sniper

Hitman Sniper is loosely based on the Agent 47 movie released a few years ago. The game offers players the ability to hone their shooting skills through a range of training courses and, once they think they are ready, they can start taking out the bad guys. Things start off easy enough, but they get more and more difficult as one progresses through the 150 missions on offer. One will also have to upgrade various gun components, like scopes, magazine capacities and silencers, to make the missions a little easier. Hitman Sniper lets users buy 16 to tackle each of the missions – either with real money or via the points accumulated by completing missions. Money and points can also be used to upgrade firearms.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: R7 – with a range of in-app purchases.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Snake Mask

The iconic Snake game that was preinstalled on most older Nokia phones has had a complete make-over. It now uses Facebook’s AR technology, meaning that you have to navigate the snake around obstacles in your home or office, all the while collecting coins and stars that change the snake’s speed and length. Unfortunately, Snake Mask is only available on Nokia’s new range of smartphones. However, it should not take long before it slithers onto other devices.

 

Platform: New Nokia smartphones running Android.

Cost: Free to use through the Facebook app installed on the device.

Stockists: Available through the Facebook app.

 

WhatsApp Web

Although this is by no means a new app, it is an extremely useful one, and one that not many people know about. Tapping out WhatsApps on your phone is easy enough, but thanks to WhatsApp Web it can be even easier. Open the WhatApp Web page under WhatsApp and you will see a QR code. Scan this code through WhatsApp on your mobile and you will be shown a replica of what you would normally see on your phone. You can then type and reply to messages using your computer instead of having to stop everything and unlock your phone every time a message comes through. WhatsApp Web is great if you share your computer with other people as it automatically disconnects when the browser is closed. However WhatsApp also offers an app that when installed will stay connected to your phone unless you manually remove it.

 

Platform: Any up-to-date Internet browser

Cost: Free to use and install

Stockists: Visit www.WhatsApp.com

 

Carrot Weather

There are thousands of weather apps on the Internet these days and all of them do the same thing – inform you of the weather in your area. However, Carrot Weather has taken what is just another app and turned it into something fun. By fun, I mean sarcastic, rude and completely politically incorrect. A user starts off by selecting religious and political views. It then asks about personality, ranging from friendly to homicidal to overkill – which includes profanity. So, for instance, instead of waking up to to the standard partly cloudy forecast, Carrot Weather will display something like: “It’s only partly sunny, the sun is a total effing failure.” It also has a range of insults that it throws at you whenever you open the app – some of them downright insulting, so it is definitely not for those who are easily offended. The app’s user interface is very simple, displaying a week’s daily forecast and hourly forecasts for the day selected.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: Free to download but with adverts. The premium, advert free version costs R12 per month.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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SA Start-up reinvents PABX

For any South African business, the idea of setting up or changing a telephonic switchboard system is the stuff of nightmares. Dealing with expensive hardware and hearing things like QSIG and VOIP is not what you’d call exciting.But now there is an app.

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Enter BuzzBox (www.buzzboxcloud.co.za), a web-based telephone switchboard that is aimed at small and medium sized businesses wanting to take the hassle and cost out of the company switchboard. Whether you are a small one-man operation or a larger organisation with staff working remotely, BuzzBox is the best switchboard solution.

What sets BuzzBox apart from anything else on the market is its easy-to-use dashboard. It puts you in control of everything from picking your phone number to setting up voice prompts and managing your business-hours schedule.

BuzzBox was developed when the startup behind it, Jini-Guru, needed such a service for its own use across multiple continents. “When we started Jini-Guru we could not find a seamless online process that would allow us to set up a full web-based switchboard, so we decided to build one for ourselves,” says Mike Smits, Director at Jini-Guru.

He says a lot of startups today are tech savvy and know how to use apps and the services that go with it. “It’s the uberisation of services and its driving demand for instant service activation.”

BuzzBox works as an app on both iOS and Android but users wanting a desk phone option can choose from a variety of devices on offer or use their existing VOIP phones.

Setting up a BuzzBox account takes 5 minutes. During registration your FICA documents are uploaded [ID and proof or residence] and you get to pick your phone number before the account is created. Companies that want to keep an existing number can do so too.

The real magic happens when you log on to the BuzzBox Dashboard. The main screen displays a summary of statistics for your account while the left-hand menu provides you quick access to various configuration settings and reports.

Setting up new extensions or external numbers is done with a few clicks and you can even set up various departments which is a great way to route a call to various people in a department, like sales or support.

The intuitive user interface also makes it easy to set up hold-music and voice prompts. You can add voice prompts by recording them straight to your phone, just make sure you use a clear voice with quiet surroundings for the best customer experience.

One of the main features of BuzzBox is its call recording feature that allows an organisation to record calls for legislative purposes, such as a lawyer, or for customer service purposes such as support. Recordings are stored securely online, and you have the ability to download recordings for playback. Companies can opt-in for this service and it’s free to use. Recordings are stored online and are fully encrypted so only you can listen to, or download them. Storage costs R1 for every 1000 minutes of stored recordings.

Other features include call forwarding and scheduling. The latter allows you to set office hours for your organisation which will divert calls to an after-hours messaging service. You also have the option to enable routing to an employee who is on call after hours.

BuzzBox also has a reseller program for companies wanting to offer this as a switchboard solution to their existing customers.

The costs for this service is R89 p/m for the first phone number which includes your first extension for free. Thereafter you’ll pay R89p/m per extension. Calls between extensions are free but you pay per second for all outgoing phone calls. More info on pricing can be found here: https://buzzboxcloud.co.za/pricing/

BuzzBox is offering a Launch promotion where they are offering the first line and extension free for 12 months. Only pay for calls. Use promo code “feoifyaa” during sign-up to apply your discount.

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