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New BlackBerry phone arrives in SA

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BlackBerry has announced that DTEK50, the first in its series of most secure Android smartphones, is now available in South Africa from MTN and Vodacom.

As part of BlackBerry’s transition towards a device software licensing strategy – which allows it to focus on putting “the smart in the phone” – the DTEK50 comes with all the security features that BlackBerry’s Android OS devices have, including best-in-class security patching and the DTEK by BlackBerry app that allows users to monitor and control their privacy on their phone.

Fully equipped with Android Marshmallow 6.0, DTEK50 combines BlackBerry’s security, privacy and productivity with the full Android experience in an all-touch design, at a price point that is affordable for consumers and ideal for enterprise fleet deployment.

BlackBerry provided the following information on features available on the DTEK50

·         Rapid Security Patching: BlackBerry rapidly delivers security patches, setting the bar in incident response and patch management to protect your device from malicious threats.

·         DTEK by BlackBerry App: Enables users to automatically monitor their OS and apps to know when their privacy could be at risk and to take action to improve it. The DTEK app also tracks applications and notifies you when someone is taking pictures or videos without your knowledge, turning your microphone on, sending a text message, or accessing your contacts or location.

·         Hardware Root of Trust: BlackBerry’s manufacturing process uses a proprietary technique that adds security from the start, allowing for the tracking, verification and provisioning of DTEK50.

·         Secure Boot Process: Starting with the root of trust, each stage of DTEK50’s secure boot chain must first verify that the next component is fully intact before proceeding, ensuring your device has not been tampered with since the last restart.

·         Android OS hardening: BlackBerry provides additional security patches, improved random number, address space generation and certificate pinning to make it more difficult for attackers to target a device by scrambling application/system memory.

·         FIPS 140-2 Compliant Full Disk Encryption: Protects your private information, like pictures or bank information, from being stolen if you were to lose your phone.

Ready to Work

DTEK50 combines the world’s most secure smartphone with BlackBerry’s enterprise management solutions to produce a powerful device capable of powering any work day. Key features include:

·         Android for Work and Google Play for Work: Allows for fast, simple and secure integration with an enterprise environment as well as easy access to numerous rich business and IT-managed apps.

·         Full Enterprise Mobility Management Support: DTEK50 supports BlackBerry’s powerful suite of EMM applications and secure productivity solutions, including: WatchDox by BlackBerry for secure file-sharing, Good Work for business-class email and collaboration tools, Strong Authentication by BlackBerry as a VPN solution, SecuSUITE for Enterprise for secure voice and instant messaging communication, BBM Protected for encrypted messaging and BES12 for secure cross-platform management.

Design Meets Function

DTEK50, BlackBerry’s thinnest device ever, represents the best of BlackBerry with Android to make users more productive and responsive, pairing security with intelligent design. Key features include:

·         BlackBerry Intelligent Keyboard: DTEK50 has a smart keyboard designed to learn from users and increase typing accuracy and speed. It provides word suggestions as you type and includes up to three languages, letting you flick them into place for faster conversations.

·         BlackBerry Hub: This unified inbox is an irreplaceable tool for consolidating all of your messages in one place – whether it’s email, calendar, social or phone calls.

·         Customisable BlackBerry Convenience Key: With the press of a button, the Convenience Key provides quick access to your most used applications and more.

·         Stunning Screen: DTEK50 has a 5.2” full HD display, capable of displaying 16 million colors. The screen is made of scratch-resistant glass and features a specialised oleophobic coating to protect against smudges and fingerprints.

·         Expandable Memory: With support for micro SD cards up to 2 TB, DTEK50 provides the flexibility to add affordable and hot-swappable memory to download, install, capture and share as your needs evolve.

·         Dazzling Camera: DTEK50 is engineered to deliver professional-looking photos with an 8MP front facing camera and a 13MP auto-focus rear camera. Plus, features like Phase Detection Auto Focus and a dual-tone LED flash are designed to help the camera focus instantly and accurately for a blur-free, realistic looking photos, even in low light.

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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