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SA drone for cleaner oceans

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After three years of design and planning, local radio presenter Richard Hardiman, talks about the WasteShark, his idea to autonomously cleaning up our oceans.|easy tech

Three years ago, South African radio personality Richard Hardiman had an idea that would establish him as an entrepreneur in a new industry and allow him to pioneer unexplored ideas. He would also have to move different continent – and eventually settled in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

The idea: To create autonomous nautical drones to clean up waterways. These machines would be able to operate with little or no human supervision, and be able clean the water surfaces in harbours and canals by scooping up detritus, marine waste and chemical substances.

“Humans are very good at forgetting where waste truly ends up. If it’s not going into some landfill somewhere then odds are it has ended up in a storm-water drain, river or outlet and then off into the ocean never to be seen again; by humans that is,” says Hardiman.

RanMarine Technology was recently selected from a pool 1700 global startups and marine companies to take part in the world’s first Port Accelerator Programme (PORTXL) in Rotterdam.

PORTXL is a mentorship programme that focuses on developing  innovation in port related industries. The course/trial includes a 100-day intensive program, with world experts in the field, developing business plans – and ideas – that eventually culminates in pitching the business idea to audience of customers, venture capitalists, and journalists to get funding for the idea.

“I am not sure that the idea was born out of being ecologically-minded”, says Hardiman, “It was more of a case of seeing how harbours and marine waste management currently deal with the problem. I just saw a more effective solution to the problem. The end result, though, is a greener planet, which was achieved by developing a sustainable idea which also delivers on good business practices.”

The WasteShark (the drone’s name), has come a long way since its original concept over three years ago. The machine is powered by solar panels and batteries, is equipped with sensors to feed back the water quality, weather and depth of the harbour basin to authorities, GIO mapping to ensure the drones don’t get in the way of waterway traffic, and swarming capabilities so multiple drones can hone in on major spills and problem areas in the harbour.

“It’s the Wall-E of water and is capable of 24-7 operations. It won’t replace humans or threaten their jobs as it will require some interaction from those collecting waste from their offload stations. RanMarine also has plans to up-skill workers, especially from South Africa, to build and operate the drones, creating employment opportunities.”

Hardiman dreams of reaching a market on a global scale through partnerships. “We need investment to grow and we are currently talking to a number of interested parties for the next stage. We are also obviously talking to global partners that can help us scale more easily globally.”

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Data journalism takes top prize in revamped awards

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The entries to the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were extraordinarily varied and of an excellent standard, with new categories introduced which are based on content as opposed to platforms. This year, the judges decided that two entries were equally worthy of the coveted Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award.

The first co-winning entry, in the new Data Journalism category, is a set of stories by Alastair Otter and Laura Grant of Media Hack which showed how Data Journalism is shaping the future. The second co-winning entrant is Bongani Fuzile of the Daily Dispatch for his articles in the investigative category on how migrant workers were being ripped off by pension deductions (full citations below).

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “This year we modernised the 12 categories that journalists could enter their work in and the change was embraced by entrants. In a turbulent time for media, the 2018 entries once again proved that there are excellent South African journalists delivering praiseworthy work, and we commend them for finding new and innovative ways to cover the news.”

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “Vodacom is proud of its 17-year association with these prestigious awards, which make an important contribution to our society through the recognition of journalistic excellence. I’d like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners and, as always, I’d like to pay tribute to our hardworking judges. Ryland Fisher, Mathatha Tsedu, Arthur Goldstuck, Collin Nxumalo, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Megan Rusi, Mary Papayya, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa: thank you for making these awards a continued success.”

Veteran journalist and media stalwart Ms Amina Frense is the winner of the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Lifetime Achiever AwardShe has spent decades in mainstream media both locally and internationally. She is a former Managing Editor: News and Current Affairs at the SA Broadcasting Corporation. She has worked in many countries abroad as a producer and a foreign correspondent, has written two books and is also a founding member of SANEF where she still serves as a council member (full citation below).

The overall winners share the R100 000 main prize. National winners in the various categories are as follows, with each winner taking home R10 000:

SPORT

The entries in this category were of an exceptionally high standard. One entrant stood out and became the unanimous winner. This journalist showed an exceptional skill for story-telling and for finding unexpected angles and unknown facts. For his stories about Musangwe’s fight for recognitionAge cheating in SA football, and Hansie Cronje revisited, the winner is Ronald Masinda, and the team of Gift Kganyago, Nceba Ntlanganiso and Charles Lombard from eSAT TV.

Click here to see who won the awards for data journalism , CSI/sustainability and photography.

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Cons exploit Telegram ICO

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Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.

In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.

Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.

The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.

Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.

“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:

  • Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
  • Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
  • Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.

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