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The history of doing more, in less time

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People have been using tools to do more with less for millions of years. Whether it was the invention of the wheel, fire, the PC, or the Internet, human beings have always utilised innovation to become more productive in their professional and personal lives, writes COLIN ERASMUS, Device Sales Lead at Microsoft SA.

In 1990, the pace and scope of the evolution of productivity hit top gear with the release of Office 1.0, as it brought productivity software together in a way that empowered workers across all departments of an organisation in a way that was unprecedented.

Since then, there have been many versions of Microsoft Office, with each iteration building on the feature set of the last as part of an evolution that has shaped the way people work across the globe.

Today, digital transformation is changing every aspect of business: shaping growth, disrupting industry landscapes, and providing the catalyst for new business models, products, services and experiences. It is enabling businesses to reimagine their structures and become digital businesses.

Doing more in less time, fewer steps

As a non-renewable resource, employees need to devote their time to the most important tasks with the highest returns on investment for the business. New features in Office enable them to save a great deal of time and hassles including features such as Smart Lookup and Researcher.

The former is available from within Word and uses Bing to enable users to look up information right from within Word, while the latter enables users to pull in relevant content right into their document.

Additional time and effort can be saved by using Designer within PowerPoint, which automatically provides designs for your slides based on any image you insert. With a single click, you can pick from a ton of designs that complement your content and give your slides a professional, polished feel.

Additionally, Morph lets you focus on writing great content while PowerPoint creates eye-catching transitions between slides that make your presentation look like it’s been professionally animated.

New capabilities keeping your devices secure

Buyers can opt for a range of new Windows 10-powered devices that come in various form-factors from traditional notebooks through to tablets, All-in-Ones and convertible (two-in-one) laptops. These devices boasts many new capabilities that will boost your productivity while keeping your data secure.

For instance, Windows Hello logs you into your Windows devices in less than two seconds, three times faster than a password. This feature is available on notebooks and two-in-one devices that sports an Intel RealSense 3D camera or built-in fingerprint reader for enterprise-grade security.

When you are logged in, you can use natural input to input data the way you want, using touch gestures on touch-enabled notebooks and tablets, or digital ink via a Windows Ink capable device by using a stylus to jot notes, use annotations and draw.

Windows 10 Pro -powered devices allow you to use BitLocker Drive Encryption on your computer’s hard-drive as well as for removable drives on which data is stored, to prevent sensitive data falling into the wrong hands.

In the digital era, managers need to re-envision entire business models and embrace a different way of bringing together people, data, and processes to create more value and better experiences for their customers. Office and Windows has been designed to help meet your organisation’s needs for robust security, enhanced productivity, and taking the hassles out of standard, everyday business tasks.

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AppDate: Shedding light in our times of darkness

SEAN BACHER’S app roundup highlights two load-shedding apps, along with South AfriCAM, NBA 2K Mobile, Virgin Mobile’s Spot 3.0 and SwiftKey.

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Load Shedding Notifier

With all the uncertainty about when South Africans will next be plunged into darkness by Eskom, the Load Shedding Notifier tries its best to keep up with Eskom’s schedule. The app is very simple to use. Download it, type an area in and click the save button. The app automatically tells you what load shedding stage Eskom is on, the times you can expect to start lighting candles and for how long to burn them.

Multiple areas can be added and one can switch between the different stages to see how each one will affect a certain area.

A grid status is also displayed, showing how strained the country’s electrical network is.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

EskomSePush Load Shedding App

EskomSePush does much the same as the Load Shedding Notifier, but allows multiple cities to be tracked. However, they may just want to rethink the name of the app if they want wider respectability.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

South AfriCAM

South AfriCAM enables users to add branded stickers and frames from popular lifestyle magazine titles to their posts, including Huisgenoot, YOU, Drum, Move!, TRUE LOVE, Women’s Health and Men’s Health. 

In the process, they can earn JETPoints for their social influence: through the app’s built-in JET8 social currency, users are rewarded for their engagement. For every in-app like, comment, and share, users earn JETPoints, which can be used to redeem products online or over the counter across more than 2 500 retail stores in South Africa. Users are additionally awarded JETPoints for cross-posting onto external social media networks.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

Click here to read about console quality graphics on a mobile phone, Virgin Money payments made easier, and an app that redesigns the keyboard.

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Drones to drive
Western Cape agritech

Aerobotics is set to change how farmers treat their crops by using drones and machine learning, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The Western Cape is poised to be a hotbed of innovation in the agritech sector, with drone piloting set to playing a major role in in the tech start-up scene.

This is the view of Tim Willis, chief operating officer of pioneering drone company Aerobotics, a Cape Town drone company recognised as a world leader in agritech.

“Drone piloting is a key skill that feeds into the value chain of the budding 4th Industrial Revolution,” said Willis. “Cape Town and the Western Cape is uniquely positioned to be the melting pot for innovation in the agritech sector, as a leading agricultural exporter and a hub for creative tech start-ups.”

He was speaking at AeroCon, a drone expo organised by Aerobotics and held in Johannesburg this week aimed at providing opportunities for drone pilots to apply their skills in South Africa, and to show how drones are being used to collect data on crops. 

The event was supported by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), Wesgro, PROMMAC, MicaSense, and Rectron, among other

“We’re starting to sign up farmers across the country,” said Willis. “It’s exciting because farmers are starting to use drone technology on their farms. When a farmer wants a drone flown, they want it flown [now] so it’s important for us to capture that data as quickly as possible to show that drones are fast and effective.”

According to aerobotics, drone technology can help farmers reduce pesticide use on their crops by up to 30%. The result is environmentally friendly farming, reducing stressed crops and a healthier harvest. 

“We use aerial imagery from drones to recreate a 3D model of every single tree on a farmer’s orchard,” said Willis. “We’ve done this for millions of trees and it starts to give the farmers metrics of what they’re doing. We provide them with the health of the trees, the height, the volume, the canopy area, which enable the farms to make decisions on what to do next.”

Click here to read more about AeroCon and what it offers to those wanting to get into the drone industry.

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