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IFA: Sennheiser goes free

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At IFA 2017, Sennheiser introducing the HD1 Free, a wireless headset in the HD1 family.

Bringing the essence of HD1 to its most compact form, the new ear-canal headphones combine uncompromised sound quality, progressive technology and luxurious minimalist style with an ultra-compact design. For ultimate convenience, the HD1 Free features ergonomically designed magnetic earpieces that link together when not in use.

Following the launch of the HD1 In-Ear Wireless neckband headphones at CES 2017, the new HD1 Free expands Sennheiser’s range of Bluetooth ear-canal headphones.

“Inspired by those who always aim higher, our iconic HD1 headphone family continues to set new standards through their fusion of superior sound quality and premium aesthetics,” said Sebastian Rodens, Product Manager Audiophile at Sennheiser. “The HD1 Free distils this ethos into an exquisitely compact form – offering even greater portability and freedom, without compromising on audio performance.”

The headphones’ high-quality dynamic speaker system and custom-machined stainless steel in-ear sound tunnels deliver superior acoustic precision with a powerful bass response and detailed vocal projection – the signature HD1 sound. Advanced technology ensures that this true hi-fi sound can be enjoyed via crystal clear wireless transmission: the HD1 Free features Bluetooth 4.2 as well as Qualcomm® apt-X™ and AAC codec support. Qualcomm® apt-X™ Low Latency compatibility also enhances the ability to enjoy gaming or video content by keeping audio transmission perfectly in sync with the visuals.

Elaborating the mobile experience

Alongside portability and wireless connectivity, the new HD1 Free offers a range of features that guarantee a superior experience with mobile devices. Their six-hour battery life and a luxurious leather case make the headphones the perfect companion for a life on the go.

A three-button remote and high quality in-line microphone for making calls and controlling music are integrated into the cable between the earpieces. Multi-connection with up to two devices at once and 3-way calling support are also provided. An intuitive system of voice prompts provides notifications on the pairing status and battery life.

The HD1 Free has been crafted from premium materials for listening comfort, timeless style and lasting durability. As with all HD1 headphones, every facet of the headphones’ design reveals meticulous attention to detail. The ergonomically designed earpieces have been precision-built from stainless steel with mirror chrome detailing. They feature unique magnets so the headphones can be worn around the neck when not in use. Ear adapters provided in four different sizes ensure a personalized fit in the ear canals for brilliant comfort and excellent attenuation of ambient noise.

Inspired by people with MOMENTUM

In the creation of the HD1 range and the new HD1 Free, Sennheiser has been inspired by people who follow their vision and strive for the new – people with MOMENTUM. This spirit of HD1 is perfectly embodied by American rock band Portugal. The Man.

Incessantly on a quest for the unexpected and inspiring, the Portland-based musicians were among the first to try the new HD1 Free. “It’s amazing to hear such precise and powerful sound from such compact headphones. As musicians, we are always in motion, always on the go – so the HD1 Free is perfect for us”, said bass guitarist Zach Carothers.

Sennheiser’s HD1 Free will be available from October 2017 and is priced at $199.95 (U.S.).

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Small SA town goes smartphone-only

Vodacom partners with farming business to upgrade all residents of Wakkerstroom from 2G devices to smartphones

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All residents of the small town of Wakkerstroom, which straddles Mpumalanga and kwaZulu-Natal provinces, have had their 2G feature phones upgraded to 3G devices.

The initiative is a result of Vodacom partnering with BPG Langfontein, a farming business that employs the majority of the people living in Wakkerstroom. It is now the first smartphone-only town in South Africa. This is a model the network provider says it hopes to replicate across the country as part of its mission to connect people who live in deep rural areas and are still dependent on 2G networks.

Wakkerstroom, is the second oldest town in Mpumalanga province, on the KwaZulu-Natal border, 27 km east of Volksrust and 56 km south-east of Amersfoort.  

“There are growing expectations for big corporates the size of Vodacom to serve a social purpose, and for us to use our resources and core capabilities to make a significant contribution in transforming the lives of ordinary people,” says Zakhele Jiyane, Managing Executive for Vodacom Mpumalanga. “We are helping to remove communication barriers, so that citizens in the area can be part of the digital revolution and reap the associated benefits. By moving the more than 1400 farm workers from 2G to 3G devices, this will also free much needed spectrum and this spectrum can be re-farmed to provide for faster networks such as 3G and 4G.

“Crucially, the move opens a new world of connectivity for farm workers in Wakkerstroom. As a result, most people in the area will now be able to use the Vodacom network to connect on the net and access online government services, eHealth services such as Mum&Baby and eCommerce. Learners can now surf the internet for the first time and access Vodacom’s eSchool free of charge and those who are actively looking for jobs can start using their smartphones and tablets to apply for jobs over the internet on Vodacom’s zero-rated career sites. This will be key for driving growth to the benefit of people living in this area.”

Vodacom has already deployed 4G base stations in Wakkestroom as part of this initiative.

For the next phase of this project, says Vodacom, it is going to educate the farm workers about data and the benefits of the Internet. Vodacom will also look at various ways in which it can help empower members of this community in areas of education, gender-based violence and health.

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Facebook fact-checking goes to 10 more African countries

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Facebook today announced the expansion of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme to 10 additional African countries, which now join  Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon and Senegal in the project,

In partnership with Agence France-Presse (AFP), the France 24 Observers, Pesa Check and Dubawa, this programme forms part of its work in helping assess the accuracy and quality of news people find on Facebook, whilst reducing the spread of misinformation on its platform.

Working with a network of fact-checking organizations, certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network, third-party fact-checking will now be available in Ethiopia, Zambia, Somalia and Burkina Faso through AFP, Uganda and Tanzania through both Pesa Check and AFP, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire through the France 24 Observers and AFP, Guinea Conakry through the France 24 Observers, and Ghana through Dubawa.

Feedback from the Facebook community is one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of our fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

Kojo Boakye, Facebook Head of Public Policy, Africa, said: “The expansion of third-party fact-checking to now cover 15 countries in a little over a year shows firsthand our commitment and dedication to the continent, alongside our recent local language expansion as part of this programme. Taking steps to help tackle false news on Facebook is a responsibility we take seriously, we know misinformation is a problem, and these are important steps in continuing to address this issue. We know that third-party fact-checking alone is not the solution, it is one of many initiatives and programmes we are investing in to help to improve the quality of information people see on Facebook. While we’ve made great progress, we will keep investing to ensure Facebook remains a place for all ideas, but not for the spread of false news.”

When third-party fact-checkers fact-check a news story, Facebook will show these in Related Articles immediately below the story in News Feed. Page Admins and people on Facebook will also receive notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that’s been determined to be false, empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.

Providing fact-checking in English and French across eight countries, Phil Chetwynd, AFP Global News Director said: “AFP is delighted to be expanding its fact-checking project with Facebook. We are known for the high quality of our journalism from across Africa and we will be leveraging our unparalleled network of bureaus and journalists on the continent to combat misinformation.”

Eric Mugendi, Managing Editor from Pesa Check who will provide fact-checking services in Swahili and English added: “Social networks like Facebook haven’t just changed how Africans consume the news. Social media is often the primary access to digital content or the ‘Internet’ for many Africans. They shape our perceptions of the world, our public discourse, and how we interact with public figures. This project helps us dramatically expand our fact-checking to debunk claims that could otherwise cause real-world harm. The project helps us respond more quickly and directly. We’re seeing real positive results in our interactions with both publishers and the public itself. The project also helps our fact-checks reach a far larger audience than we would otherwise. This has helped us better understand the information vacuum and other viral dynamics that drive the spread of false information in Africa. Our growing impact is a small but tangible contribution to better informed societies in Africa.”

Caroline Anipah, Programme Officer, Dubawa (Ghana) said: “Dubawa is excited to be in Ghana where the misinformation and disinformation have become widespread as a result of technological advancement and increasing internet penetration. Dubawa intends to raise the quality of information available to the public with the ultimate aim of curbing the spread of misinformation and disinformation and promoting good governance and accountability.”

Derek Thomson, editor-in-chief of the France 24 Observers, said: “Our African users are constantly sending us questionable images and messages they’ve received via social media, asking us ‘Is this true? Can you check it?’ It’s our responsibility as fact-checking journalists to verify the information that’s circulating, and get the truth back out there. Participating in the Facebook programme helps ensure that our fact-checks are reaching the people who shared the false news in the first place.”

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