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AppDate: Apps to help on Valentine’s Day

In the AppDate Valentine’s special, SEAN BACHER highlight, Cookbook Recipes, Tinder, UberEATS, Simfy and ShowMax.

Cookbook Recipes

Nothing says I love you quite like a home-cooked, candle-lit dinner. However, not everyone is a Gordon Ramsey or Jamie Oliver or even Julia Child in the kitchen. To help get your meal on its way, try Cookbook Recipes. The app lets one search for dishes based on ingredients, time taken to cook and cooking difficulty. All recipes are easy to follow with step by step instruction to ensure your Valentine’s meal doesn’t end up a Valentine’s disaster.

Platform: Android but with similar apps available on iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the Google Play Store for downloading instructions.

 

Tinder 

Despite some of the bad publicity Tinder has received, it is still a great app for meeting new people. Making new connections on Tinder is easy and fun—just Swipe Right to Like someone, or Swipe Left to pass. If someone likes you back, it’s a match and you are able to chat through the app. That’s a recommended process before giving out your cellphone number, aside from the obvious safety rules, like making sure people are who they claim to be, and meeting in a public space where security is available.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download with limited features is available. Tinder Plus costs R33 per month, which boosts your profile to the top of the line, allowing you to be seen by more users.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

UberEATS

No time to cook? We have you covered. Well, actually, UberEATS does. Select your desired restaurant from the app, and then the meal. Once your selection is made, a delivery time will be given, along with the price. Should the two of you feel like different food types, thats no problem as one can chose food from different restaurants. Once ordered, your meals can be tracked in real-time on a smartphone or tablet.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Simfy Africa

The perfect accompaniment to dinner at home for two is some ambient music. Simfy Africa offers access to over 32-million songs. Playlists can be created and songs easily downloaded to set the mood. Simfy can be downloaded on a range of devices including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and computers, so the music can follow from room to room as the evening progresses.

Although Simfy offers a great selection of songs there are numerous other music streaming services available for download.

Platform: Android, iOS and most other devices with an Internet browser.

Expect to pay: The first two weeks are free, and then R60 per month.

Stockists: www.simfyafrica.com

 

ShowMax

Once the food has digested, a little TV could be the perfect end to Valentine’s Day. ShowMax offers a massive selection of movies, series and documentaries. Like Simfy, ShowMax can be installed on most smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and computers – making it easy to enjoy anywhere in the house where there is a Wi-Fi signal. Signing up is quick and easy and ShowMax keeps tabs on your data usage, ensuring you don’t overdo it on a binge-watching evening.

ShowMax’s partnerships with Telkom and Vodacom also make streaming TV a little more affordable.

Besides ShowMax, one has access to a range of international and local video-on-demand services.

Platform: Android, iOS and most other devices with an Internet browser.

Expect to pay: The first two week’s of use are free after which ShowMax costs R99 per month.

Stockists: www.showmax.com

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

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Cisco gives pre-owned tech a Refresh

In a market of constant upgrades, Cisco Refresh aims to keep quality product away from landfills, writes BRYAN TURNER.

When one gets a new smartphone upgrade, the old device may be used as a backup or can be used by someone else. In business environments, equipment upgrades may not be conducive to keeping old equipment around, which may send older, working equipment to landfills.

This is where Cisco’s Refresh initiative comes in. At Cisco Connect in Sun City this week, Ehrika Gladden, VP and general manager of Cisco Refresh, lifted the lid on a little-known aspect of the company’s strategy. 

“Refresh is Cisco’s global pre-owned equipment business unit,” said Gladden. “It is certified to meet the quality and engineering standards of Cisco. It is licensed for software and it’s also inclusive of a services warranty.

“Our responsibility in 80 countries around the world is tied to both the recovery of assets and the ability to leverage those assets at a lower price point. This ensures our sustainability and proper usage of the Earth’s resources while providing access to small and medium businesses. The products are typically in the range of 20-40% cheaper. The products represent the entire portfolio for Cisco in some part, the majority of that product set is 2+ years in terms of generation.”

Cisco’s Circular Economy initiative ensures a sustainable loop through businesses willing to pay a premium for the latest, cutting-edge solutions, while Cisco markets older, working equipment for resale to those who don’t require the latest solutions. This ensures far less new components need to be used in a product range.

“We are leveraging the model of remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and reusing,” said Gladden. “Depending on the product set, there is a certain set of product yield that we expect. They vary from product to product, but we do have a percentage that doesn’t make it through.

“Those are always reused, meaning we will look at those products and decide to use them completely differently, leveraging the components, remanufacturing back into the overall build process. If that can’t be done, we will go into a recycle process where we melt those products down to reuse them.”

Repairing and refurbishing older products isn’t just that. Cisco is creating repair centres that are owned by third-parties to uplift local ownership.

“The repair centres, as a global manufacturer, is Cisco’s entree into local ownership,” said Gladden. “I want to be precise about what I mean by local ownership. It’s critical for us to have a localised presence, but doing that through ownership. When you look at inclusive economies, those that are participative, to be sustainable – not in the product set, but generationally.

“The ability as a global manufacturer through a local ownership model  isto create a repair centre where a product can be returned, screened, tested, and repaired, leveraging the talent that the Networking Academy is creating.”

Cisco is working closely with local governments to understand where it operates and how to leverage the skills in the market.

Gladden said: “We are also super excited about the National Development Plan and African Union statements which with we align: eradication of poverty, job creation, ownership, healthcare, education, it all fits in the model. So we were very excited to have the opportunity to come to Africa first to announce this. Over the next twelve months, we want to establish our first repair centres, and in the next 3 to 5 years, build that vision into a reality.”

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Why Data Privacy has become a Pipe Dream

If you’re active on WhatsApp, Facebook or any other social platform, you’re not as safe as you thought, writes
AARON THORNTON, MD of Dial a Nerd

As you begin to read this, let’s perform a quick experiment! How many active conversations are you engaged in – right now – on WhatsApp? When was the last time you shared a picture or video on Instagram? Is Facebook currently open and active on one of your devices? And how many internet- connected devices are you using at this moment? Chances are, you have multiple devices running multiple applications most of the time. So what’s the problem, you ask? Since when did checking in with a high school buddy in Australia via Facebook become a dangerous act?  

In reply, we say, read on if you can stomach it!  

Nation-State Hacking & You  

It might seem like a laughably long shot to say that you are a key player in the increasingly sinister and sophisticated world of nation-state hacking. Well, you are. Given that individuals, businesses and governments are now constantly connected, round the clock, consumers and businesses have become fair game in cyber espionage. And as we create and share more and more data, both the value and accessibility of that data increases. According to a report by McAfee, IP theft now accounts for more than 25% of the estimated $600 billion cost of cybercrime to the world economy.    

With data having become the ‘new gold’, nation states are naturally pouring investment and key resources into building advanced cyber warfare tools. Indeed, entire divisions of armed forces as well as the upper echelons of corporate leadership are devising ways to harness data to gain economic, political and social power. At the highest level, tools and platforms are being developed with the specific aim of perpetrating cyber espionage and data theft. No surprise then, that the consumer and business environments are rife with increasingly advanced malware, ransomware and many other malicious hacking tools and methods.  

Still not convinced? Yes, we can smell the scepticism from here! So let’s take a moment to see how this has already played out, beneath our noses.  

Remember the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal of early 2018? For many, this was a watershed moment in the emerging war for consumer data – and the ensuing tensions between privacy, power and profit. Need a refresh? Well, in 2018, Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign. In essence, the data was harvested without user consent and used for political purposes.  

Another chilling but less direct example can be found in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. According to Politico, Russia launched a massive social media campaign to ‘sow discord’ leading up to the elections. The website reported that as early as 2014, an infamous Russian “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency – a company linked to Russian president Putin – developed a strategy using fraudulent bank accounts and other fake identity documents to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” 

When referring to the Russian hacks and their impact on election results, one U.S. Representative sagely noted: “They didn’t just steal data; they weaponized it.” 

Ignorance is not bliss 

Okay, so data is being ‘weaponized’, and ordinary people and businesses are being caught in the crosshairs of cyber warfare. A little bit frightening, but the good news is that savvy individuals like you can take steps to protect personal data and actively combat the creeping influence of juggernauts such as Facebook and Google.  

To begin with, awareness is key. As you engage with various platforms and applications at work and at home, take time to understand how your data is being used and what the terms of use are. Is your data being accessed and sold to advertisers? Have you consented to this? In addition to scrutinizing your consent, also pay close attention to how much data you share online – and the nature of the details you are divulging. Always keep in mind that hackers are employing smart social engineering tactics and using the details of your private life (birthdays, holidays, pet’s names, etc) to trick you into opening infected emails and clicking on malware. Whenever you are online, you are a target – and vigilance at all times is critical. Beyond that, it goes without saying that you must commit to following basic security protocols with your devices. So always keep software up to date and keep your data backed up so that you can reboot or wipe a device if needed.   

Now that we’ve left you sufficiently spooked, you can get back to those demanding WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram notifications (same company, by the way)…albeit, we hope, with a slightly altered [cyber] worldview!  

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