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AppDate: Pay-it-forward with uKheshe

SEAN BACHER highlights uKheshe, BitterWorld, Stash, WPS Office and Yoosee in his application roundup.

uKheshe

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uKheshe, a pay-it-forward type app developed by Jini Guru, allows users to tip car guards, pay gardeners or offer people small amounts of money when they don’t have any spare change lying around. The app works with a simple tap of a QR code. The person being tipped needs to have a uKheshe QR card that is linked to their cellphone and the person paying needs to have the app installed on their phone.

A unique feature of this service is that the recipient does not need a bank account. A simple cell phone capable of USSD will suffice.

The payer selects the amount they wish to pay, then scans the QR code. The recipient is able to check their balance and withdraw cash by using the USSD code *120*82274# following the instructions and visiting the nearest Pick n Pay store. App users can top up their uKheshe balance via credit or debit card.

Platform: Android

Expect to pay: A free download: 

Stockists: The app can be downloaded here and recipients can sign up for the card directly from the uKheshe website here.

BitterWorld

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Instead of expressing your frustrations with sub-quality services and products on Facebook, there is now an app that allows you to do it without clogging up friends’ timelines. The BitterWorld app is specifically designed for users to tag companies and connect with people who have had similar issues. The app includes a skull and crossbones rating system, and offers the ability to post images, videos and a store’s location.

According to the app developers, once you have shared your thoughts and feelings, you start to relax. Doubtful, but many people may “relax” once their rants are made public.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Download the iOS version here and the Android app here.

Stash 

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Stash, an app that invests small amounts of money in users banks accounts, has recently changed its policies in line with Google’s new privacy requirements. In the past, the app would use the bank’s transactional SMSs to detect every swipe of a debit, credit or cheque card. It would then collect spare change and invest it in a tax-free savings account.

Now users will have to manually select how much money they want to stash. The new “Daily Stashing” feature  allows users to stash from R5 a day to R100.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the Liberty website here to download the app suited to your device.

WPS Office

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When you are on the move it is not always feasible to start up your notebook for one or two quick changes to Microsoft Office documents sent to you.

WPS is an Office Suite application that is fully compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The app also allows for the editing of PDFs, text documents and Google docs.

Users can also convert Office documents into PDFs and then share them with colleagues. Data encryption is offered and documents can be uploaded directly to the Cloud Drive.

The app’s user interface is clutter-free and very intuitive – allowing one to draw circles around errors and make changes directly from a mobile device.

Platform: Android

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: The app can be downloaded from the Google Play store here.

Yoosee

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With Internet security cameras becoming as commonplace as fridges in homes, the market is flooded with imports that don’t come with their own monitoring systems. The Yoosee app is designed to bridge that gap by giving users the ability to connect almost any IP camera to their mobile phone and activate them when not at home. The app offers notifications when the camera senses motion and allows one to zoom and pan.

Once a camera has been activated users can take images and even record directly to their phone – although this will use quite a bit of data.

Yoosee also allows for multiple cameras to be connected and up to six users can be connected to each camera.

Platform: Android, iOS and Windows Phone

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the Yoosee website here and download the app suited to your device.

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Time is running out for Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Companies are urged to update from the dated database management software as it reaches the end of its support, writes BRYAN TURNER.

The 11-year-old Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database management software is reaching the end of its support on 9 July. The applications that use databases running on this software will be at risk of security and stability issues.

On self-managed databases, upgrading to the latest database version comes with a lot of risks. Many IT departments within companies go by the motto: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.

Microsoft made it very clear that it would not be updating SQL Server 2005 after its extended support date and even left it vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown by not releasing patches for the dated version.

Updating SQL Server versions may seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the effort it takes for a migration. In the last major version update, SQL Server 2016 introduced simpler backup functionality, database stretching, and always-encrypted communications with the database, to name just three features.

While backing up the database may be the last thing on the typical database administrator’s mind, it’s become increasingly important to do so. In SQL Server 2008, it’s clunky and causes headaches for many admins. However, in SQL Server 2016, one can easily set up an automated backup to Azure storage and let it run on smart backup intervals. Backing up offsite also reduces the need for disaster recovery for onsite damage.

Database stretching allows admins to push less frequently accessed data to an Azure database, automatically decided by SQL Server 2016. This reduces the admin of manually looking through what must be kept and what must be shipped off or deleted. It also reduces the size of the database, which also increases the performance of the applications that access it. The best part of this functionality is it automatically retrieves the less accessed records from Azure when users request it, without the need for manual intervention.

Always-encrypted communications are becoming more and more relevant to many companies, especially those operating in European regions after the introduction of GDPR. Encryption keys were previously managed by the admin, but now encryption is always handled by the client. Furthermore, the keys to encrypt and decrypt data are stored outside of SQL Server altogether. This means data stored in the database is always encrypted, and no longer for the eyes of a curious database manager. 

The built-in reporting tools have also vastly improved with the addition of new reporting metrics and a modern look. It includes support for Excel reports for keeping documentation and Power BI for automated, drag-and-drop personalised reporting. Best of all, it removes the dreaded Active X controls, which made the reporting in a webpage feel very clumsy and bloated in previous versions.

A lot has changed in the past ten years in the world of SQL Server database management, and it’s not worth running into problems before Microsoft ends support for SQL Server 2005.

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Local apps to feature in Huawei’s App Gallery

Huawei’s mobile app store, the HUAWEI AppGallery, will soon feature a multitude of apps and designs by local developers. The company says this is part of its drive to promote South African digital talent and include more useful apps for Huawei smartphone users. HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes are pre-installed on all the latest Huawei and Honor devices.

“South African consumers are increasingly wanting more apps that are relevant to their unique circumstances, addressing issues they experience regularly – such as load shedding or safety concerns – but also apps that celebrate South Africa’s multitude of cultures and this vibrant country,” says Lu Geng, director of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Region.

Akhram Mohamed, chief technology officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa, says: “Huawei is committed to catering to the needs of South African consumers, but we also know that we do not have all the answers. For this reason, we aim to work closely with South African developers so that we can give our users everything that they need and want from their devices. At the same time, we also hope to create an open ecosystem for local developers by offering a simple and secure environment for them to upload content.”

Huawei Mobile Services was launched in South Africa in June last year. Since then, both the HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes – which features tens of thousands of themes, fonts and wallpapers that personalise user’s handset – have become increasingly popular with the local market. Even though it is a relatively new division of Huawei, there has been a great increase in growth; at the end of 2018 Huawei Mobile Services had 500 million users globally, representing a 117% increase on the previous year.

Explaining what differentiates the HUAWEI AppGallery from other app stores, Mosa Matshediso Hlobelo, business developer for Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa says: “We use the name ‘HUAWEI AppGallery’ because we have a dedicated team that curates all the apps in terms of relevance and ease of use and to ensure that there are no technical issues. Importantly, all apps are also security-checked for malware and privacy leaks before being uploaded on to the HUAWEI AppGallery.”

Huawei recently held a Developers’ Day where Huawei executives met with South African developers to discuss Huawei’s offering. 48 developers registered their apps on the day, and Huawei is currently in discussions with them with the eventual aim of featuring the best apps and designs on HUAWEI AppGallery or HUAWEI Themes. The Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Team at Huawei plans on making Developers’ Day a quarterly event and establishing a local providers’ hub, where developers can regularly meet with Huawei for training on updates to programmes and offerings.

“We have a very hands-on approach with our developers, and hope to expand that community so we can become an additional distribution channel for more developers and expose them to both a local and a global audience,” says Geng. “For example, we regularly feature apps and designs from local developers on our Huawei social media pages, and do competitions and promotions. We want to do everything we can to make our Huawei users aware of these local apps and upload them. This will encourage the growth of the developer community in South Africa by giving developers more opportunities to generate revenue from in-app purchases.”

* Developers who would like their apps featured on the HUAWEI App Gallery, or designs featured on HUAWEI Themes, should visit https://developer.huawei.com or email Huawei Mobile Services on sacloud@huawei.com.

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