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CodeBus arrives in SA

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Education and technology organisations from Finland and South Africa will come together in May to run creative coding workshops for local students in Johannesburg, Tshwane, Kimberley and Cape Town.

The collaboration is part of the CodeBus Africa project, a 100-day tour connecting Finnish and African innovators as part of Finland’s official 100th anniversary celebrations. The CodeBus Africa journey, which has been running since February of this year, will span ten countries in total – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The South African tour of CodeBus Africa will be organised by Finland’s Aalto University and local tech start-up accelerator mLab, with the support of the Embassy of Finland in Pretoria. The project, which is sponsored by the Finnish global telecom leader Nokia, will place special emphasis on involving girls who remain underrepresented among the users and creators of technology.

With its focus firmly on the young, this innovative activity will consist of creative coding workshops, most of which will be run in township communities. Learners will pair up to produce their own song with the open-source programming platform Sonic Pi – a tried-and-true curriculum developed by a Finnish technology education company and project partner Mehackit. Peer support, creative self-expression and a tangible final product are all elements designed to make the learning experience positive and rewarding. The aim of the project is to boost grassroots level teaching of computer programming, and to contribute to long-term efforts to promote quality education, youth empowerment and employment. The South African tour will culminate with a celebration in Khayelitsha in Cape Town, hosted by Finnish DJ Emma Kemppainen, where the music developed by the young African coders will be showcased.

“I am pleased that we are able to bring CodeBus to South Africa as part of our anniversary celebrations,” commented Kari Alanko, Ambassador of Finland in South Africa. “The theme of Finland 100 is ‘together’, and I am confident that the CodeBus reflects our commitment to work together with South Africa to tackle challenges such as youth unemployment. We hope the workshops will help to promote inclusive innovation and inspire more girls and boys in South Africa to take an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, even as possible career choices. “

“The CodeBus is also an especially suitable way for us to celebrate Finland 100 in South Africa where we have for many years supported innovation through our development cooperation,” Ambassador Alanko says. “This is why the partnerships with Aalto University and mLab, also supported by Finland, make perfect sense.”

I am also delighted to see a strong Finnish company, Nokia, as a partner in this project. Nokia is a global leader in innovation and technology, that stresses the fact that Finland 100 is just as much about looking into the next centenary as celebrating the past one.”

“We are proud of every opportunity to show our capacity in shaping the future of technology, which transforms the human experience,” says Deon Geyser, Head of Sub-Region Southern Africa at Nokia.  “The CodeBus initiative is an occasion to witness leading African and Finnish innovators joining forces, empowering Africa’s youth, allowing them to explore and experience innovation transforming their lives.”

“The philosophy of CodeBus from the start has been to work with local partners such as tech and innovation hubs, community based organisations and employees in each country. As such, the project is training 50 new coding instructors from Finland and Africa,” he says.  The coding instructors come from Aalto University and the local partners in Africa. ” We hope that  by doing so, those trained locally will continue to replicate  the training workshops in other  cities, communities and schools, and also inspire young people across the continent to develop a passion for learning ICT skills in a fun and enjoyable way.”

“At Nokia, we are always exploring new and innovative ideas and projects that expand the human possibility of technology. Nokia is supporting several initiatives across the globe to connect the un-connected, support gender diversity, and save lives. We look forward to more engagements in Africa in the future,” Geyser says.

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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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