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Dear Bixby, and other virtual assistant love stories

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With his personal assistant on leave, LUCKY RADEBE, pens an open letter to Bixby, Samsung’s virtual personal assistant which learns your preferences and speaking habits over time, making it smarter each time it used.

Dear Bixby,

With my organised Personal Assistant (PA) on leave and my partner on a well-deserved holiday, the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note8 couldn’t have come at a better time, as I try to balance work and home life without my trusted support system. Not only does my new phablet enable me to speak, ask questions and make requests from you, Bixby, but as your deep learning technology continues to improve over time and you recognise my preferences and manner of speaking, so does my appreciation for your genius.

Take this morning for instance. My alarm went off at 5am and I was tempted to press the snooze button but you reminded me that today I had to get the children ready for school and that we needed to leave 45 minutes earlier to get them there on time. This helped me avoid running late and possibly receiving a scornful letter from the headmaster. By simply asking you what the weather was like today before leaving the house, we were prepared and dressed for the day’s weather.

While stepping out of the house, my teenagers told me that they hadn’t prepared lunches for themselves, but with a simple ‘Hi Bixby, find me the shortest route to school with a convenience shop en route to grab lunch’, a catastrophe was averted.

Having taken the least congested back routes and having dropped the children at school, it was you, Bixby that reminded me of my 9am meeting with the Managing Director and Vice President of my company. In preparation, I said ‘Bixby, open my emails, go to the last email sent by my PA with background information for the meeting’. I then asked you to read the documents back to me while I was driving. After gathering my thoughts, I dictated my response to you to type in Samsung Notes for me to reference as speaking points during my meeting. This was all in good time to receive an international call from my partner, who was pleased to find out that all was well and subtly made mention that the children had ballet and gymnastic classes at 3pm. After asking you, Bixby, to check my schedule for the day and realising I had an overlap of commitments, I asked you to help me pre-order an Uber for my daughters. You texted them the details, which allowed me enough time to dash off to my meeting.

For the next few hours, I had back-to-back meetings with clients and suppliers and enjoyed my perfectly productive mobile office. I conducted my business and even managed to reschedule my daughter’s tennis training for tomorrow and reserved time in my calendar so no one at work could schedule a meeting, preventing me from going with her. Amazingly, without the normal distractions of the office, I was more productive with both my work and dad tasks.

The day was shaping up well, but there was still one last hurdle to cross, dinner! But even that was no challenge for you. While I was chopping and mixing, making reference to the beef lasagne recipe which you pulled for me off the internet, I simply said, ‘Hey Bixby, set a timer for 20 minutes’ before I put the dish into the oven. 20 minutes later, you alerted me that the lasagne was ready – and for a change, nothing was burnt.

My partner, my PA and now you, Bixby, make a great team, empowering me to better manage my work and personal life. I’ll soon discover how new innovations from Samsung will further empower me and help me manage this blended life, but I can tell you, Bixby, you did an excellent job!

Sincerely,

Lucky Radebe

Featured

Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entires via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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