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Snapchat joins the
movie revolution

Snapchat, the social app based on video messaging, has joined the original content revolution, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It began ever so subtly, three years ago. Snapchat, the messaging app that dominates young users’ social media video viewing, launched a service called Shows. It comprised short videos made for mobile phones by news services like NBC and Condé Nast Entertainment. Stay Tuned, a daily news show from NBC, drew an audience of 5 million viewers aged from 13 to 24. Slowly, a new reality dawned at Snap Inc, the company that has built up a $16-billion dollar valuation on the back of its Snapchat property.

As Snapchat expanded its third party content offerings, with anything from National Geographic to sports and gossip, the seeds were sewn for its own original programming. It wasn’t exactly a bandwagon. Netflix launched its Originals back in 2013, and Amazon Prime followed a year later.

Snapchat entered the game six months ago, with a 12-episode reality show called Endless Summer. It follows the life of 19-yearold Summer Mckeen, a YouTube star since the age of 14, and proved a massive hit with Snapchat users.

However, it was just one of a dozen Snapchat Originals launched in October 2018. The slate included a fun supernatural series called Dead Girls Detective Agency, and a college comedy called Co-Ed. More than 40% of users who completed the first episode of The Dead Girls Detective Agency went on to watch the entire first season, and Endless Summer eventually reached more than 28 million unique viewers.

Snap announced last week that loth shows had been renewed for a second season later this year. But that was almost a side story to the bigger news: a massive new slate of Snap Originals, with both scripted shows and “docuseries”. At the same time, Snap announced a range of new augmented reality and camera features, as if to underline the sense of a business that is about to make a quantum leap into the future.

In response, analysts forecast share price increases of as much as 50% in the next 12 months, on top of the 100% growth it has shown this year. Now, the public will also see what the excitement is all about.

From May this year, the new Snap Originals will be available globally on Snapchat’s Discover page, which Snap hopes to turn into one of the industry’s leading made-for-mobile video platforms.

The shows will include serialised scripted dramas and comedies, character-driven docuseries, and unscripted social commentary in an attempt “to continue to define mobile storytelling”, it says.

Snap’s new slate includes:

  • Two Sides – (New Form) – A young couple navigates a breakup in this series told from both characters’ points of view at the same time. Scripted series launches May 2019.
  • Commanders – (Dakota Pictures) – In this comedy, two teenage outcasts discover a mysterious code within a retro computer that can alter real life. When they decide to use this newfound power to disrupt the cliché social structure, their high school will never be the same. Scripted series launches June 2019.
  • Untitled BuzzFeed Daily Show – (BuzzFeed) – BuzzFeed’s daily afternoon show brings viewers celebrity, entertainment, and OMG moments blowing up the internet. Launches shortly.
  • Sneakerheads – (Indigo Development and Entertainment Arts and EMJAG Productions) – A comedy that follows the misadventures of three college freshmen as they navigate the crazy, shady, mercurial world of Los Angeles sneaker culture. Scripted series launches June 2019.
  • While Black – (Indigo Development and Entertainment Arts and Main Event Media) – Author, filmmaker, recording artist, and educator MK Asante explores racially charged social issues through candid conversations. Unscripted social commentary launches mid 2019.
  • Can’t Talk Now – (New Form) – A teen soap that takes place inside the phones of a group of high school freshman BFFs as drama unfolds across group texts, video chats, and social media. Scripted series launches mid 2019.
  • Compton Dreams – (October Films) – The highs and lows of three up-and-coming artists from Compton as they strive to become the next big name in hip-hop. Docuseries launches mid 2019.
  • Denton’s Death Date – (Insurrection Media) – This comedy, set in a world where everyone knows the exact day they are going to die, centres on Denton Little, a high school junior whose death date is only a week away. Denton finally starts living his life to the fullest when a series of strange events unfold that may be the key to avoiding his fate. Based on the novel by Lance Rubin. Scripted series launches September 2019
  • tranded with Sam and Colby – (Bunim/Murray Productions) – A pair of influencers film from a haunted location and what starts as something fun quickly takes a terrifying turn. Docuseries launches in late 2019.
  • Dead of Night – (Bazelevs in association with Hooked) – Armed with only her phone, a teenage girl must escape a quarantined city full of zombies. Shot in ScreenLife, exclusively from the point of view of the smartphone screen. Based on a Hooked story. Produced by Bazelevs in association with Hooked. Scripted series launches October 2019.

There is one fundamental difference in all these movies, compared to Originals from the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Showmax: all are made specifically for viewing on a smartphone, meaning they are shot in vertical format, as opposed to the landscape mode of regular movies. It is no exaggeration, then, to say that movies will never be the same again.

Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee


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How to power your SME when the lights go out

Tips for maintaining your IT – and your sanity! – when Eskom does the darkness, by AARON THORNTON, managing director of Dial a Nerd

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While the recent wave of load shedding may have inspired more of us to indulge in candlelight dinners and non-virtual activities (yes, really!), it has been highly disruptive for SMEs. And while we all may be holding our collective breath to see what happens next with Eskom, the more intelligent move is to simply prepare for the worst. For savvy SMEs, such preparation need not break the bank. In fact, our tips will help you trim operational costs in the long-term. Bliss!

 1 – Utilise the short-term happiness of the UPS (it’s clean!)

Okay, so we know that you despise acronyms: ‘UPS’ stands for Uninterrupted Power Supply and is essentially a battery that will keep electronic devices running for a short period of time. This can be a true lifesaver when you need to complete those essential tasks. Beyond the short-term relief, a UPS is even more valuable in that it will also (by virtue of its composition) provide ‘clean power’. On the other hand, while those noisy generators certainly can provide more continuity, generators often cause electrical spikes that damage equipment over time. In other words, generators produce ‘dirty power’.

2 – Purchase Surge Protectors (Simple but Critical!)

In line with the statement concluding Point 1, beware of electrical surges! And no, we are not talking about the surge of emotion you feel towards Eskom (or variants thereof), we’re talking about, well, real electricity. After a spell of load shedding, the danger is that when the power comes back on, it arrives with a spike or surge that can burn out or damage electronic equipment. Hence, we strongly recommend that business owners place surge protection plugs on all electronic devices. This is typically an investment of a few hundred rand – for devices that cost well into the thousands.

3 – Look for Power Savvy Hardware (hint: it’s under your nose)

While laptops and smartphones are useful fallbacks when the power goes out, SMEs can also opt for microcomputing devices such as the CloudGateXs – a locally developed mini-PC that uses less than ten percent of the electricity that a typical desktop requires. This type of energy-saving device enables SMEs to continue operating for a longer time (with much of the processing power and storage capabilities that traditional computers offer). No, this isn’t too good to be true…and yes, it’s highly affordable! 

Now that you can equip your SME with the means to operate efficiently in the dark, you can also enjoy those candlelight dinners in peace!

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Parents worried about online – but few discuss with kids

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84% of parents worldwide are worried about their children’s online safety, according to the latest survey commissioned by Kaspersky and conducted by the market research company Savanta. Despite this, the report shows that globally, on average, parents only spend a total of 46 minutes talking to their children about online security through their entire childhood.

Riaan Badenhorst, General Manager of Kaspersky in Africa, says: “Although global figures, I feel that this situation is likely mirrored in the local market and something that needs attention to change. With the digital world expanding continuously, offering opportunities that cannot be ignored, we tend to be quick on the uptake of exposing children to all things digital, to support their schooling requirements and recreational activities. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that the digital world is also a dangerous playground, filled with bullies and strangers that just like in the real world, pose risk to children.”

Using technology has quickly become a daily norm. Not only is the working world tech-reliant but globally the education sector is evolving towards more tech-related learning – meaning that children today need to understand how to use technology to successfully get through their schooling career.

It is not surprising then that the Kaspersky survey found that of the respondents, over 9 in 10 children between 7 to 12-years of age globally now have an Internet-enabled device, smartphone or tablet. Naturally, and considering this reality, children’s privacy and security online are becoming one of the parents’ most prominent concerns – but what are parents doing about it?

Some of the most dangerous online threats globally, according to those parents who participated in the survey include:

  • Children seeing harmful content, such as sexual or violent (27%);
  • Experiencing Internet addiction (26%); and
  • Receiving anonymous messages or content inciting them to carry out the violent or inappropriate activity (14%).

Over and above these, there is also the concern of cyberbullying – which is particularly relevant in the local market.

Adds Badenhorst; “In the local market, we are hearing more about cases of a loss of life due to suicide as a result of cyberbullying. Having children of my own, this is a harsh reality that I am very concerned about and especially considering that a 2018 report, by research company Ipsos Global Advisor, shows that among 28 countries South Africa showed the highest prevalence of cyberbullying.”

To reduce the potential risks children face, parents and/or guardians need to take the time to explain – and consistently – the dangers of the Internet and teach their children or their wards at consistent intervals about safe Internet habits and practices. While globally 81% of parents say it is a joint responsibility between parents and schools to teach children about online safety, 86% believe that parents are better positioned to undertake this important teaching as children generally trust them more.

Dr Tertia Harker, a Social Worker with a Doctorate in Psychology in private practice in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, says; “Today people look to technology as much more than a series of tools that can be used to complete certain tasks. In fact, for many people technology has become so integrated into every facet of their lives that it is viewed as a ‘lifeline’ that people feel they cannot live without – and content people are consuming through the use of technology affects their view of self. Essentially, people are looking to technology and the world around them to fill an internal void – and children are particularly sensitive to this as they are still very innocent and rely on feedback from the world around them to begin to form their view of self and the world.”

To protect children and encourage children to be safe when engaging on the Internet, Dr Harker indicates that it is important to:

  • Form a nurturing and trusting relationship (between parent/guardian and child/ward), by:
    • Teaching children self-awareness and self-acceptance
    • Teaching children mindfulness and to be fully present in the moment
    • Building children’s self-esteem
    • Encouraging open and honest communication as a priority in your home
    • Guide and support children to form an identity outside of technology, including:
    • Supporting children to connect to nature and friends – with no technology present
  • Teaching children to entertain themselves with no technology present
  • Teaching children to not compare themselves with others on social media
  • Encourage children to speak out about harmful content and predators they may come across online
  • Always set a good example by your own actions when using technology

Badenhorst says: “While schools are and will continue to play a key role in supporting the education of online safety, ultimately this is a task and duty that parents/guardians should be driving forward and taking very seriously. We do unfortunately have to accept that the Internet allows children to encounter content we never want them to see and while we know how difficult it is to sometimes talk about these concerns with children, if parents/guardians feel uncomfortable or not well equipped to do this, there are various resources available to support them and that they should look to leverage on.”

To help families protect children from various Internet threats, Kaspersky recommends:

  • If you know what your child is looking for online, you can offer help and support, and teach as you go about using the information carefully.
  • Discuss with your child how much time they can spend on social media, if they have social media accounts and teach them about what information is not okay to share online (school, where they live, contacts details etc.).
  • Try not to limit your child’s social circle online and teach them to take care when choosing friends and acquaintances. The same ‘stranger-danger’ principle applies in the online world.
  • Subscribe to the Family edition of our Kaspersky Security Cloud. The service incorporates Kaspersky Safe Kids and helps to guard your family and private data, plus protect your kids online and beyond.
  • For younger children, parents can seek guidance from  a book by Marlies Slegers called Kasper, Sky and the Green Bear – a short illustrated story for kids ages 6 to 9 (which are considered good ages to expand a child’s knowledge of online safety) that was written to be fun for kids to read and that can help them understand what is OK in the digital world and what is not: https://www.kaspersky.co.za/blog/kasper-sky-book/21974/

To learn more about the most common fears, threats, experiences, and tactics when it comes to Internet safety for children, click here to download the full report.


Methodology

Kaspersky conducted an international study of parents with 7 to 12-year-old children to explore trends, practices and challenges of keeping their kids safe online. Covering nearly 20 countries across each region of the globe, Kaspersky surveyed nearly 9,000 parents and explored how Internet enabled devices are being used at home, what are the biggest concerns when it comes to online security, and how parents are tackling them.

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