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Something on the Side: Dyson’s vacuum really sucks – in a good way

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In this Something on the Side issue, SEAN BACHER reviews the Dyson V6 cordless vacuum, Guardian Eye Lite outdoor camera, Fitbit Charge HR, Seagate Seven 500GB external hard drive and the Amped Wireless AC1750 WiFi extender.

Dyson V6 cordless vacuum

Many cordless or handheld vacuums have been infamous for their lack of suction power. They are great for a few crumbs around the house, but that’s about it. However, this isn’t the case with the Dyson V6. The vacuum creates a cyclonic effect via a magnet that spins110 000 times per minute, generating enough suction to pick up dirt on just about any floor type. The battery will last up to 20 minutes, and there is even a boost mode for really stubborn dirt.

Expect to pay: R5100

Stockists: Visit www.dyson.co.za

Guardian Eye Lite outdoor camera

Once mounted and linked to a WiFi network, the Guardian Eye Lite outdoor camera can be accessed remotely via any smartphone, tablet or computer. It features three infra-red LEDs that display night-mode scenes with brilliant clarity. Features like motion-triggered alerts, an SD card slot and the transmission of audio make it an ideal home security accessory.

Expect to pay: R2549

Stockists: Visit www.voxtelecom.co.za

 

Fitbit Charge HR

The Fitbit Charge HR continually measures a user’s footsteps, distance walked, calories burned and heart rate. This data is then synchronised with a smartphone, giving the wearer an up-to-date overview of daily movements. The Charge HR also includes a silent alarm and displays the date and time. Sleep patterns and times are recorded but, unlike its predecessor, the Charge HR does not have to be manually put into sleep mode.

Expect to pay: R2499

Stockists: Visit www.zastore.co.za

 

Seagate Seven 500GB external hard drive

The Seagate Seven’s enclosure is made entirely of steel, which makes it thin and sturdy. It is compatible with most operating systems and connects via USB 3. In keeping with the drive’s style, Seagate has moved away from the standard USB cable and used a braided design, making it more flexible and easier to use in cramped situations. With its dimensions and weight closely resembling that of a Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone, the Seagate Seven is a great addition to a business traveler’s backpack.

Expect to pay: R1500

Stockists: Most reputable electronics retail outlets nationwide.

 

Amped Wireless AC1750 WiFi extender

Most users these days have numerous notebooks, TVs, smartphones and computers all connected to their home WiFi network. The problem is that many of these devices sometimes fall outside the range of the WiFi signal. To remedy this, manufacturers have been manufacturing WiFi extenders, but these are often cumbersome and difficult to install and setup. However, with the Amped Wireless AC1750 WiFi extender, users just need to find a suitably placed electrical outlet and plug in the extender. No setup or additional software installation is required and the WiFi coverage is extended by 10 000 square feet. A word of warning, though: before you plug in the extender, make sure your WiFi is properly secured with passwords.

Expect to pay: R2000

Stockists: Visit www.ampedwireless.com

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

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Get your passwords in shape

New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.

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Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions.  Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.

Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.

I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords

Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication.  However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.

As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.

But what constitutes a strong password?  A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).

Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to web browsers.

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Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future

By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.

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On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:

  • A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
  • Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
  • Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.

With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.

In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.

As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:

AFRICA CODE WEEK

Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.

The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.

Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.

SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)

A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.

According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.

Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.

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