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AppDate: 20 of the greatest Google Easter Eggs

In his latest AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights 20 of the greatest Easter Eggs hidden in Google, Facebook Watch, BBM Scratch2Win, the camera update to the latest Nokia phones, and Opera News for Africa.

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20 of the best Easter Eggs hidden in Google

Bored at work? Or looking for something fun  to take you mind off the mundane? The programmers over at Google have built a range of Easter Eggs or hidden programs into their search engine, accessible through the Google home page.

Here are the top 20:

– Typing “Google in 1998” into the search bar will take you on a trip down memory lane — the results page is formatted exactly the way Google appeared in 1998.  

 – Search “Build with chrome” and click “I’m feeling luckily” for a game of LEGO.

 – Type “play snake” into your search bar to play a round of your favourite Nokia 5110 game, albeit with sleeker interface and sound-effects.

 – Type “pacman” into your search bar to fire up a round of catch with your favourite gameboy critters.

 – Heads or Tails – making tough decisions remains just as easy as it was back in the day: Type “flip a coin” into your search bar and Google will do just that – flip a coin!

 – If the decision you need to make is a little bit more complicated you can always search “roll a die.”

 – Naughts & Crosses – search for “tic-tac-toe” to challenge your computer to a game.

 – Searching for “sonic the hedgehog” will call up an interactive Sonic logo complete with sound effect and iconic spin.

 – Search for “solitaire” to play a round against the computer.

 – Launch an image search of “Atari breakout” to play the game. 

 – Search for “zerg rush” to play a game and improve your mouse-eye coordination while you’re at it.

 – Search “I’m feeling curious” for a Chappies-esque fun fact.

 – Disable your internet connection, then go to your Chrome browser and hit the spacebar to call up a game of T-Rex Runner where you help the pixelated dinosaur navigate a cactus obstacle course.

 – Search “spinner” and you can toggle between a number spinning wheel and a fidget spinner.

 – Search “internet speed test” to check how fast your connection is running.

 – Search “breathing exercise” if you are feeling a bit stressed and just follow the instructions to calm yourself down.

 – Type “Google gravity” into search bar and click “I’m feeling lucky” and watch your browser succumb to the force.

 – Type “epic google” into the search bar and click “I’m feeling lucky” to see just how big Google can get.

 – Search “blink html” to see a canny demonstration of basic coding. 

 – Type “Google sphere” into the search bar and click “I’m feeling lucky” to orbital results.

 

Facebook Watch

A while ago Facebook unveiled its Watch application, and has recently made it available to users world-wide. And no, it’s not a wristwatch.

Facebook Watch allows users to find shows and video creators they like and start conversations with friends, other fans, and even the creators themselves. Since its launch Facebook has made the experience more social — such as making it easier to see which videos friends have liked or shared, creating shows that have audience participation at their core, and the ability to open Watch videos from Facebook pages.

Facebook Watch offers the following features:

 – A place to discover new videos: Find the latest videos spanning entertainment, sports, news, in a personalised Watch feed.

 – A way to catch up with creators and publishers: At the top of the Watch, a Watchlist shows a collection of recent videos from Pages being followed. Users can customise this section by following more Pages or removing Pages from their list.

 – An option to save for later viewing.

Platform: Any smartphone with or desktop with the latest version of Facebook.

Stockists: Visit www.facebook.com

Cost: Free to use.

 

BBM Scratch2Win

Available in the BBM Discover menu via the Scratch2Win icon, Scratch2Win requires users to register their profile the first time they access the service. They are then presented with a list of active mobile scratch card campaigns. Each campaign requires the user to answer a short survey or poll, which then generates a unique mobile scratch card, revealing instant rewards and prizes. Airtime and data prizes are topped up instantly to users’ mobile accounts, while digital coupons and vouchers are stored in prize wallets for redemption at participating brands and retailers. In addition to instant prizes, users can also win entries into grand prize draws.

Platform: A BlackBerry smartphone running the latest version of BBM.

Stockists: Visit the Scratch2Win option via BBM.

Cost: Free to use.

 

Camera update for the lates Nokia smartphones

HMD Global has added an update for Nokia 8 Sirocco, Nokia 7 Plus and Nokia 6.1 devices, focused on the imaging offering of the phones. It is now easier to switch between aspect ratios and shooting functions, as well as adjusting parameters within different camera modes, such as the intensity of effects like Bokeh and Beautify.

Google Lens has also been integrated directly into the viewfinder, using augmented reality to add additional information to each image as it is taken.

The update supports Google Motion, enabling short videos to be shared directly to messaging services and social media as GIFs. 

Platform: The Nokia 8 Sirocco, Nokia 7 Plus and Nokia 6.1 range of smartphones.

Stockists: Check for the updates under the setting menu of the phone.

Cost: A free download.

 

Opera News for Africa

Opera News for Africa is an  AI-powered app which allows people to access news articles and trending videos without high data use. It follows Opera’s recent announcement that its AI-powered news service inside Opera Mini grew to more than 100 million active users in less than a year.

The app runs off a “recommendation engine” designed to keep readers on top of their selected news, entertainment and video categories. The engine gets smarter the more it is used, as it is able to drill down and deliver even more personalised content based on a user’s likes and dislikes. Opera News is able to save up to 80% of mobile data use, thanks to its data-saving capabilities. 

Platform: Android and iOS

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

Cost: A free service.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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By 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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How load-shedding is killing our cellphone signals

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Extensive load-shedding, combined with the theft of cell tower backup batteries and copper wire, is placing a massive strain on mobile network providers.

MTN says the majority of MTN’S sites have been equipped with battery backup systems to ensure there is enough power on site to run the system for several hours when local power goes out and the mains go down. 

“With power outages on the rise, these back-up systems become imperative to keeping South Africa connected and MTN has invested heavily in generators and backup batteries to maintain communication for customers, despite the lack of electrical power,” the operator said in a statement today.

However, according to Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive: Corporate Affairs, at MTN SA, “The high frequency of the cycles of load shedding have meant batteries were unable to fully recharge. They generally have a capacity of six to 12 hours, depending on the site category, and require 12 to 18 hours to recharge.”

An additional challenge is that criminals and criminal syndicates are placing networks across the country at risk. Batteries, which can cost R28 000 per battery and upwards, are sought after on black markets – especially in neighbouring countries. 

“Although MTN has improved security and is making strides in limiting instances of theft and vandalism with the assistance of the police, the increase in power outages has made this issue even more pressing,” says O’Sullivan.

Ernest Paul, General Manager: Network Operations at SA’s leading network provider MTN, says the brazen theft of batteries is an industry-wide problem and will require a broader initiative driven by communities, the private sector, police and prosecutors to bring it to a halt.

“Apart from the cost of replacing the stolen batteries and upgrading the broken infrastructure, communities suffer as the network degrades without the back-up power. This is due to the fact that any coverage gaps need to be filled. The situation is even more dire with the rolling power cuts expected due to Eskom load shedding.”

Loss of services and network quality can range from a 2-5km radius to 15km on some sites and affect 5,000 to 20,000 people. On hub sites, network coverage to entire suburbs and regions can be lost.

Click here to read more about efforts to combat copper theft.

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