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Surprise SA medalist in World Robot Olympiad

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Meridian Cosmo City (MCC), a school in a mixed housing suburb north of JHB, was the winner of a silver medal in the Senior High School open category at the World Robot Olympiad (WRO) national finals held in Pretoria this month.

MCC is managed by JSE-listed independent education provider Curro Holdings, which saw sister school Curro Grantleigh take a gold medal in the Senior High School regular category. Grantleigh will be travelling to New Delhi, India, in November to compete in the WRO world finals, along with

The WRO is a non-profit organisation founded in 2004, comprising more than 50 member countries, and involving more than 20 000 teams competing in the challenges each year. The 2016 “Rap the Scrap” theme is focused on recycling, which calls for contestants to build robots that can reduce, manage, and recycle waste. Participants built their robots using Lego components.

The Natal-based Curro Grantleigh team comprises Bonga Gumbi and Dominique Spies, who had to make a robot that picks up sorted waste into recycling containers at a recycling plant. The robot had two minutes to complete the challenge and the team had to ensure the robot did not damage the recycling containers.

“I had a team that went to Qatar last year. This year I have a senior team qualifying for the world finals in Dehli,” said Alan Lewis, a robotics teacher at Curro Grantleigh.

Spies’ 15 year old grade 9 teammate, Gumbi, said one of the challenges they faced at the WRO was the surface of the mats on which the robot was operating – it was were different to the ones from school.

“We changed the program a bit and we succeeded,” said Gumbi.

Meridian Cosmo City participated for the first time in the WRO. The team, made up of grade 6 learners Tshimologo Mafokosho and Rethabile Moeketsi, built a robot called “Mrs Kling”, designed to clean littered caves. As some of the cave areas are too tight and inaccessible for humans, Mrs Kling has been built to collect litter and rubble in spaces that cannot accommodate humans.

“I am very happy with the achievement. This is just the best moment so far,” said Mafokosho, while Moeketsi insisted it wouldn’t end there: “Next year we will continue.”

The two also had the recent privilege of testing their robot at the Rising Star cave system where human ancestor Homo Naledi was discovered. Mafokosho and Moeketsi’s project was judged second to an electronic bin designed by Greenside Primary School. Greesnide also won the Junior Primary open category.

Parklands was the big winner, taking the gold medal in the Primary School regular category and the Senior High School open category. Redhill earned a silver medal in both the Junior High School and Senior High School regular categories.

Meridian Cosmo City Primary School operational head Swarts Sibanyoni said his school would have sent more than just one team to compete in the World Robot Olympiad if it had more robotics components.

Tony Williams, Curro’s project manager of IT and Robotics, said robotics had been taught as a subject from Grades R to 6 at Curro schools since 2011. It has led to annual Robotics Competitions which encourage Curro learners to explore the world of coding in a fun and rewarding way, and in a manner that provides an interactive learning platform and creates excitement in the classroom.

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Now download a bank account

Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.

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This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.

“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.

“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”

The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:

  1. Download the Absa App
  2. Choose the account you would like to open
  3. Tell us who you are
  4. To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
  5. Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
  6. Tell us where you live
  7. Let us know what you do for a living and your income
  8. Click Apply.

 

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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