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Storage blues for smartphones

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A recent survey has revealed that storage is a problem for many smartphone users in SA, with 22 percent running out of space at least once a week and 56 percent running out of space every three months.

Storage appears to be a real problem for many smartphone users in South Africa, with 22 percent running out of space at least once a week and 56 percent running out of space at least every three months. This is according to a countrywide independent consumer research from SanDisk.

68 percent have also regretted deleting a precious photo or video to free up storage space. If they do have to delete files, 29 percent of South Africans would delete a photo of themselves before that of friends, pets or family.

The research, which looked at people’s experiences with storage on smartphones, also found that 38 per cent of people have to delete files or data from their main handsets in order to free up space at least once a week, while two thirds (66 percent) do this at least once a month.

Ghassan Azzi, Senior Sales Manager for Africa at Western Digital Corporation, said: “Our research really highlights the pressure that people are under to choose what they want to keep on mobile handsets. With the average person in South Africa taking 26 photos and eight videos a week on their smartphone, and the size of digital images and video increasing rapidly, devices soon fill up.”

In addition to the challenges around storage, the research also looked at security, with 56 percent of respondents being fairly worried or very worried that the files and data on their smartphone are at risk of theft or loss through product malfunction, and 68 percent said they had lost a precious photo or video from their smartphone as a result of files not being backed up.

Despite this, only 39 percent of South Africans manually back up their data and files from the main handset once a week, and nine percent never back up files at all, excluding automatic backups and data synchs.

Azzi added: “What many people don’t realise is that there are numerous ways to quickly and easily transfer and store data from phones – either by connecting a device to the handset or using Wi-Fi – so you don’t have to choose what you delete. In addition, backing up your smartphone remotely means that you keep precious files safe, should anything happen to the handset.”

SanDisk offers a range of mobile memory products that allow users to easily expand the space on their phones or offload files so they don’t have to worry about storage limits of the device. Options include:

·         SanDisk iXpand Base – designed to automatically back up your iPhone’s photos, videos, and contacts every time you charge.

·         SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive– offers an easy way to free up space on your iPhone, automatically backs up your camera roll, and even lets you watch popular-format videos straight from the drive.

·         SanDisk Dual Drive Type-C – lets you quickly and easily transfer files between smartphones, tablets and computers.

·         SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick – allows you to wirelessly access your media or transfer large files, stream HD videos and music, and save and share photos and videos to and from your mobile device.

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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