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AWS switches on Direct Connect in South Africa

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) has launched the AWS Direct Connect in South Africa, making it the first time that the Amazon network has come to Africa, giving customers local access to redundant and diverse network infrastructure.

Having AWS Direct Connect in the country allows customers based in South Africa to have dedicated, reliable, and high bandwidth connectivity to the Amazon Global Network, bypassing the public internet. Customers can connect to all AWS infrastructure Regions around the world (except China) from locations in Johannesburg and Cape Town and their traffic will remain in the Amazon backbone network throughout the entire journey.

For many years AWS has been working with organisations of all sizes in South Africa, from the newest startups, like Entersekt, NicheStreem, and Paygate through to some of the most well-known, household names, such as Pick ‘n Pay and TravelStart to help them move workloads to the cloud. One of the main requests AWS has received from South African customers has been to help reduce costs and improve network performance from on-premises environments to AWS infrastructure Regions located in Europe, the US, and around the world.

The new AWS Direct Connect location in Johannesburg is located at the Teraco JB1 facility and in Cape Town at the Teraco CT1 facility. If customers have equipment within these facilities they can use Direct Connect to optimize their connection to AWS. If their equipment is located somewhere else, they can work with one of AWS’ APN Partners supporting Direct Connect or their carrier to establish a connection from their location to the Teraco AWS Direct Connection location nearest to them, and from there on to AWS.

This is good news for customers in South Africa for several reasons:

Reduced Bandwidth Costs

For customers in South Africa that have bandwidth-heavy workloads that they wish to run in AWS, AWS Direct Connect reduces their network costs, in that, by transferring data to and from AWS directly, they can reduce their bandwidth commitment to their Internet service provider.

Consistent Network Performance

Network latency over the Internet can vary given that the Internet is constantly changing how data gets from point A to B. When looking at the distance from South Africa to Europe, the US, or Asia, this can get magnified. With AWS Direct Connect, customers choose the data that utilizes the dedicated connection and how that data is routed, which can provide a more consistent network experience over Internet-based connections.

Elastic

AWS Direct Connect provides 1Gbps and 10Gbps connections, and customers can easily provision multiple connections if they need more capacity. Customers can avail lower bandwidth connections of 50Mbps to 500Mbps through our APN Partners supporting AWS Direct Connect. Customers can also use AWS Direct Connect instead of establishing a VPN connection over the Internet, avoiding the need to utilize VPN hardware that frequently can’t support data transfer rates above 4 Gbps.

With global access enabled, customers using AWS Direct Connect can reach their AWS resources in any region worldwide (except China). With global public VIFs (Virtual Interfaces), customers get all global Amazon public routes allowing global access to publicly routable services like Amazon S3, Amazon EC2 etc. For private resources such as Amazon VPC, customers can use Direct Connect Gateway with private VIFs to reach multiple VPCs in multiple AWS regions from a single AWS Direct Connect location.

Customers can get started by logging into the AWS Management Console and ordering their AWS Direct Connect port today! Both Teraco CT1 and JB1 can be found in the EU West (Ireland) region. More details about AWS Direct Connect can be found on the website here:

https://aws.amazon.com/directconnect/

Cars

Motor Racing meets Machine Learning

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The car of tomorrow, most of us imagine, is being built by the great automobile manufacturers of the world. More and more, however, we are seeing information technology companies joining the race to power the autonomous vehicle future.

Last year, chip-maker Intel paid $15.3-billion to acquire Israeli company Mobileye, a leader in computer vision for autonomous driving technology. Google’s autonomous taxi division, Waymo, has been valued at $45-billion.

Now there’s a new name to add to the roster of technology giants driving the future.

DeepRacer on the inside

Amazon Web Services, the world’s biggest cloud computing service and a subsidiary of Amazon.com,  last month unveiled a scale model autonomous racing car for developers to build new artificial intelligence applications. Almost in the same breath, at its annual re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, it showcased the work being done with machine learning in Formula 1 racing.

AWS DeepRacer is a 1/18th scale fully autonomous race car, designed to incorporate the features and behaviour of a full-sized vehicle. It boasts all-wheel drive, monster truck tires, an HD video camera, and on-board computing power. In short, everything a kid would want of a self-driving toy car.

But then, it also adds everything a developer would need to make the car autonomous in ways that, for now, can only be imagined. It uses a new form of machine learning (ML), the technology that allows computer systems to improve their functions progressively as they receive feedback from their activities. ML is at the heart of artificial intelligence (AI), and will be core to autonomous, self-driving vehicles.

AWS has taken ML a step further, with an approach called reinforcement learning. This allows for quicker development of ML models and applications, and DeepRacer is designed to allow developers to experiment with and hone their skill in this area. It is built on top of another AWS platform, called Amazon SageMaker, which enables developers and data scientists to build, train, and deploy machine learning quickly and easily.

Along with DeepRacer, AWS also announced the DeepRacer League, the world’s first global autonomous racing league, open to anyone who orders the scale model from AWS.

DeepRacer on the outside

As if to prove that DeepRacer is not just a quirky entry into the world of motor racing, AWS also showcased the work it is doing with the Formula One Group. Ross Brawn, Formula 1’s managing director of Motor Sports, joined AWS CEO Andy Jassy during the keynote address at the re:Invent conference, to demonstrate how motor racing meets machine learning.

“More than a million data points a second are transmitted between car and team during a Formula 1 race,” he said. “From this data, we can make predictions about what we expect to happen in a wheel-to-wheel situation, overtaking advantage, and pit stop advantage. ML can help us apply a proper analysis of a situation, and also bring it to fans.

“Formula 1 is a complete team contest. If you look at a video of tyre-changing in a pit stop – it takes 1.6 seconds to change four wheels and tyres – blink and you will miss it. Imagine the training that goes into it? It’s also a contest of innovative minds.”

AWS CEO Andy Jassy unveils DeepRacer

Formula 1 racing has more than 500 million global fans and generated $1.8 billion in revenue in 2017. As a result, there are massive demands on performance, analysis and information. 

During a race, up to 120 sensors on each car generate up to 3GB of data and 1 500 data points – every second. It is impossible to analyse this data on the fly without an ML platform like Amazon SageMaker. It has a further advantage: the data scientists are able to incorporate 65 years of historical race data to compare performance, make predictions, and provide insights into the teams’ and drivers’ split-second decisions and strategies.

This means Formula 1 can pinpoint how a driver is performing and whether or not drivers have pushed themselves over the limit.

“By leveraging Amazon SageMaker and AWS’s machine-learning services, we are able to deliver these powerful insights and predictions to fans in real time,” said Pete Samara, director of innovation and digital technology at Formula 1.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

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LG rethinks portable speakers

LG adds three sizes to its XBoom Go portable speaker line in a portable revision, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Portable Bluetooth speakers are fairly commonplace at a pool party because they’re battery-powered. The only issue is that louder speakers usually distort the music or break the bank. The LG XBoom aims to change this.

LG has partnered with Meridian Audio to produce great sounding speakers that can go loud without distorting the audio. Meridian Audio is an expert in high-performance, high-fidelity audio experiences. The company is best known for producing the industry’s first audiophile-quality compact disc player and provide audio equipment to McLaren and Jaguar Land Rover.

The Bluetooth software in the XBoom Go is Qualcomm aptX HD compatible, meaning that 24bit vinyl-quality audio can be played through this speaker over Bluetooth instead of standard-fidelity audio.

The major phone assistants feature on these speakers, with tethered Google Assistant or Apple Siri functionality from one’s smartphone. This makes it very convenient to use the voice assistant button to skip tracks and change music when one’s hands are wet.

Three models of the XBoom Go series – the PK3, PK5 and PK7 – offer different audio functions depending on the audio needs of the user. Best fits for these speakers are:

  • PK3 – The Pool Friendly Speaker: The PK3 is IPX7 water resistant, up to 1 metre for 30 minutes, making this speaker accident proof at pool parties. Boasting up to 12 hours of playback from its built-in battery, this speaker will last as long as the party.

  • PK5 – The Party Friendly Speaker: Even if the lunch braai turns into a midnight feast, this speaker will play throughout as its battery lasts up to 18 hours. Clear Vocal technology is added to the PK5, which reduces audio imperfections from the music for a sharper sound. It is also water and splash resistant and has a handle, allowing for it to be easily carried. Built-in LED lights which pulse with the beat of the music on this speaker provide a light show for any song.

  • PK7 –  The Audiophile’s Speaker: With a battery life that lasts for up to 22 hours, the PK7 also contains an LED light to the rhythm of the sound. The speaker integrates a convenient handle grip that allows for it to be transported securely. The powerful PK7 Bluetooth speaker also distributes its high frequencies across two separate tweeters for more precise sonic detail.

Overall, LG’s XBoom PK portable speakers are a phenomenal set of high-quality wireless speakers.

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