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Acer launches answer to Pi

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Acer has announced the CloudProfessor, a stand-alone mini-computer which connects to mobile devices or laptops, and is designed to help youngsters both learn to code and create. 

Acer says the CloudProfessor is the culmination of 40 years of effort to bring together hardware, software, and service into one transportable device. It is aimed at making technology accessible to everyone and at educating the current generation on how to code and use sensors and motors to build a digital solution for everyday problems.

More and more countries are adopting computer programming as part of its school curricula as an increasing number of jobs in the future will require a basic skill level in ICT.

Says Glenn du Toit, Acer BYOC Digital Business Development: “With CloudProfessor, we are able to give everyone the opportunity to see how easy it can be to design the next great innovation by combining actual sensors and motors and then choosing between a variety of programming languages, including JavaScript, as well as Blockly, to get their innovation programmed and working. This provides younger learners with the building and visual interface they need to start innovating in the new Internet of Things era.”

The solution is made for implementation in the education system to encourage and allow both learners and teachers to create solutions for next generation.

As Barak Obama said, “In the new economic environment, computer science isn’t an optional skill but rather a basic skill.”

Du Toit says: “The CloudProfessor is targeted towards the education sector under the Acer umbrella to equip learners of all ages to become digital citizens and not just consumers of digital content but creators of digital solutions. It will help students become contributors to the digital society and not just consumers of a digital society.

“For example, using the CloudProfessor an individual can develop an application that turns lights on at home when they are not in, which allows for convenience and safety. Moreover, the device can build a full industrial irrigation system to be used on a farm. It’s a tool that allows hands-on experience, which promotes diverse experiences and encourages professional multi-industry integration through all the generations.”

Acer, in conjunction with CloudClub.Africa, is using the CloudProfessor with the University of Johannesburg in a project to teach non-technical and non-engineering students how the digital world will integrate into their chosen field. This is where the CloudProfessor is expected to come into its own in making IoT easy for non-technical students.

Importance of Coding Vs Digital Disruption 

Coding skills are in demand across a broad range of careers, not just for programmers. The ability not only to use but also to program software is often required from business people who work with data, from designers and marketers who create websites, from engineers who build products and technologies, and from scientists who conduct research.

According to a Burning Glass Report, an analytics software company, seven million job openings in 2015 were in occupations that required coding skills, and programming jobs overall are growing 12% faster than the market average.

However, says du Toit, the introduction of CloudProfessor is not digital disruption, it’s about digital education. CloudProfessor is a second-generation educational tool which is a practical and a necessary addition to education in South Africa and globally.

“CloudProfessor is a step further than simple coding and robotics. There is 40 hours of robotics lessons in both Javascript and Blockley catering to a range of age groups, by including industrial sensors and motors into the expanded lessons. However, in the process the focus shifts from simply following instructions to building a robot, to identifying a problem, then building a solution”.

How does it work?

1.     Build and connect all the elements received in the box.

2.     Download the CloudProfessor app which is customised for mobile [Andriod and iOS], tablets and the Acer Chromebook. Scan the QR code to get started.

3.     Once you have done this – login into your CloudProfessor app and enable your Bluetooth to pair with your CloudProfessor device.

4.     Download the LED 101 app to access lessons and modules on how to code and develop, the first step in your cloud and IoT education.

5.     Watch the video here.

“It’s a cross-platform tool which will work in any school. All that is needed is a tablet or a smartphone or even a Chromebook. The lessons are directly linked to STEAM education methodology and covers topics addressed in subjects such as Economic Management Sciences [EMS], Science and Technology, Mathematics. Added to this, coding and problem solving that is inherent in the CloudProfessor lessons that follow a logical process and requires learners to follow through a chronological organisation of tasks which helps kids better understand the processes of Maths, Science and even general life skills.”

Another great feature of the CloudProfessor as an education tool is the fact that it is mobile and can literally be used to teach learners to build solutions and code from anywhere.

“As its usable from a mobile device, all that is needed is a power bank. It’s not technology that requires masses and masses of infrastructure such as screens, PCs, or even a notebook.”

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Huawei Mate 20 Pro matches camera benchmark record

A benchmark by DxOMark sees the triple-cam handset tie with the P20 Pro for best smartphone camera on the market.

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The Huawei Mate 20 Pro has come out top in a camera benchmark test that assesses all aspects of smartphone camera performance.

DxOMark, which conducts rigorous hardware testing and is trusted as an industry standard for image quality measurements, has just released the results of its in-depth analysis of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphone camera. 

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the Chinese manufacturer’s latest top-end device. Building on the P20 Pro’s camera technology, the Mate 20 Pro comes with a Leica-branded triple-camera setup, but swaps its stable-mate’s monochrome camera for a super-wide-angle module, offering a 35mm-equivalent focal length range from 16 to 80mm—the widest of all current smartphone cameras.

The handset is in direct competition with the Apple iPhone XS Max, the Google Pixel 3 XL, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, among other. How does it fare?

“With a total photo score of 114, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro ties the record-setting score of its cousin, the P20 Pro,” says DxOMark. “The overall Photo score is calculated from sub-scores in tests that examine different aspects of its performance under different lighting conditions.”

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro achieves a photo score of 114 points. In stills mode, the Mate 20 Pro’s triple camera captures images with good target exposure and a wide dynamic range, recording both good highlight and shadow detail even in difficult high-contrast situations. Noise levels are well under control down to low light levels, and the camera’s white balance system and colour rendering settings produce a pleasant colour response in almost all circumstances.

At 97 points, the Mate 20 Pro is very close to the best for video as well, thanks to a fast and smooth autofocus system with good tracking performance, accurate white balance as well as pleasant colour rendering, and low levels of noise, especially in bright shooting conditions. Our testers also liked the exposure system’s ability to adapt quickly and smoothly to changes in illumination.

It was not all good news. DxOMark also had some criticism for the device.

Click here to read about the drawbacks of the Mate 20 Pro camera, and other positives.

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SA car wins
Dakar Rally

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The final stage of Dakar 2019 drew to a close at the bivouac in Pisco, Peru, and saw Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel bring home their South African-built Toyota Hilux for an historic victory. Not only was it a first win for Toyota, but it was also the first petrol-powered car to win the Dakar in the South-American era.

The Qatari driver ensured his French navigator, who turned 43 years old on Thursday, 17 January, received a great birthday present, when the pair arrived at the final time control of Dakar 2019 with teammates Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in close formation. The two Toyota Hilux crews completed the entire stage together, as De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz waited nearly 55 minutes for the leaders to start the stage, in order to shadow them to the finish.

The emotions bubbled over for Team Principal Glyn Hall, who found himself without words as his two crews drove into the media area after the time control. “This victory was long overdue,” he finally managed, before being swamped in a sea of well-wishers.

The winning driver, however, was much more vocal: “We are so happy to win the Dakar – not only for ourselves, but also for Toyota and the entire Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team. Everyone has worked so hard for so long, and really deserve this. Thank you for letting us drive this car.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA led Dakar 2019 from the first to the last stage, with Al Attiyah/Baumel drawing first blood, before handing the mantle to De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz during stage 2. But then a disastrous Stage 3 saw the Qatari retake the lead – a lead he didn’t relinquish despite some of the toughest stages yet seen on any South-American Dakar.

“When we first heard that the rally was going to take place only in one country, we were skeptical,” said Hall after regaining composure. “But the organisers made sure that this year’s race will long be remembered as one of the toughest tests in the last decade.”

Al Attiyah / Baumel’s victory at Dakar 2019 means that Toyota Gazoo Racing has now won both of the world’s toughest automotive races – the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the DakarRally.

Click here to read Glyn Hall’s comment on winning the Dakar Rally, as well as the rankings.

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