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Kidz app boosts budgeting

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In this application roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights Standard Bank Kidz, UberEATS, Google Allo, Instagram with Safe Comments and Pokemon Go in South Africa.

Standard Bank Kidz Banking App

The Standard Bank Kidz Banking App is designed primarily for kids aged 6 to 11, and is a tool designed to engage and entertain children while enabling parents to explain concepts of money management such as earning, saving, and spending. The app is set in an animated fantasy realm where digital representations of South Africa’s Big Five animals maintain habitats, each representing a different area of money management. For example, a leopard encourages kids to complete “missions”, or chores, assigned by parents – things like tidying their rooms or watering the plants – in order to earn money. In addition, the app becomes a handy way of being paid pocket money. As it is spent, debits are noted and the balance in the account is recorded, teaching budgeting skills. When money is spent through the app, kids will gain a practical appreciation for the value of items like toys, movie tickets and books.

Platform: Android

Stockists: Visit the Google Play Store

Expect to pay: A free download.

 

UberEATS

UberEATS is an on-demand food delivery app powered by Uber, and it works in much the same way as Uber rides. Users can search for the meal they want by the type of cuisine – for example Indian or Italian – or can order directly from a restaurant. Once an outlet is chosen, a menu is displayed from where a meal is selected. At the moment UberEATS in Johannesburg only offers delivery from a cpiuple of dozen putlets, but more are being added each day.

Platform: Android and iOS

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

Expect to pay: A free download.

 

Google Allo

Google Allo is not like other messaging apps that only lets one chat to friends, family and colleagues. It features a preview version of Google Assistant, which helps with news, weather or incoming flight status information. It can also help find nearby places, from pharmacies to petrol stations, andassists in planning a weekend away – from destinations to flights and accommodation. The more the Google Assistant is used, the more useful it becomes as it answers and remembers previous questions.

Platform: Android and iOS

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

Expect to pay: A free download.

 

Instagram with Safe Comments

Instagram’s keyword moderation tool lets one filter out inappropriate comments, depending on the words they contain. Users can select the filters already provided by Instagram or can create their own. To activate it one selects the new Comments option under the settings of the profile. Once the Hide Inappropriate Comments option is selected, words or sentences can be added, separated by commas.

Platform: Android and iOS running the latest Instagram version

Expect to pay: A free download.

 

Pokemon Go in South Africa

The recently launched Pokemon Go is now officially available in South Africa. Before, South Africans had to find workarounds – many of them opening up their mobile devices to malware, viruses and Trojans. Those who successfully installed the game also had problems with saving their progress and sometimes couldn’t install game updates without losing their current status.

Pokemon Go uses a player’s location and augmented reality to display a range of Pokemons in their vicinity. It is then up to the player to hunt down the Pokemon, lob power balls at it and catch it. Some Pokemons are more difficult to catch than others, and the more characters caught, the more experience points a player gains, increasing playing level and options.

Platform: Android and iOS

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

Expect to pay: A free download, but with loads of in-app purchases.

 

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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