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The silent life of living on WiFi alone

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Can a plugged-in, heavy data user survive four weeks on WiFi alone? LIRON SEGEV took up the challenge from Ruckus WIreless, and discovered it was not as easy as it sounds.

Guess whose back ? Back online, that is. I took up a challenge from Ruckus Wireless to spend four weeks connecting to the internet only via WiFi Hotspots. I am now back to join the connect-from-anywhere mobile world, and deeply relieved.

So what did I discover on the Ruckus WiFi Challenge? Both about myself and about the world of WiFi hotspots?

1. It is ok

I discovered that it was acceptable not to respond to every e-mail the second it arrived in my mailbox. There were days when I could only reply to e-mails hours later. What I saw was a new phenomenon people were able to help themselves. When someone e-mailed me and did not receive an immediate reply, they usually sent a follow up e-mail hours later saying ‚”ignore previous mail I managed to sort it‚”. This happened repeatedly. It has become too easy to tick something off the “To Do List”” with a ‚””I e-mailed and waiting feedback‚””. In my case, when there was no reply, the sender managed to make make alternative arrangements and help themselves.

2. There is no real emergency

‚””ASAP‚””, ‚””Right not‚””, ‚””Urgent‚”” these are such over used phrases and terms. When I was not contactable via digital means, those so called emergencies vanished. In the case of a real emergency I was contactable by phone. Compared to Emergency Urgent emails I received during the month prior to the challenge, I noticed a distinct lack of emergencies that occurred when I was not available 24 hours a day. Was there really a decline in ASAP matters, or perhaps there were no real emergencies?

3. Just one e-mail

Knowing that I could not be reached again via e-mail for a while, I tended to give more information in the first mail to avoid the unnecessary back and forth. So, instead of e-mailing: ‚””Please refer this matter to Jo‚”” I reworded it to ‚””Please refer this matter to Jo (his number is XXX), and should he not be available speak to Peter, (his number is XXX). In the event where no one is around, call the reception on XXX.‚””

4. More time and managed time

Not being connected all the time meant that I had to really plan my day. While this caused some stress, over time I managed to find my usual hangout spots where in more cases than none, Internet was available. AlwaysOn was a life saver on many many occasions.

When I finally reached a hot-spot, my computer downloaded all correspondence. I found that when I dealt with a batch of e-mails, I managed to get through them much faster than I do when I get them one at a time.

What I also discovered was that not being distracted by the phone’s constant beeps gave me more time to think too.

5. Keep me OUT of the loop

When it came to business, this is where I had to plan. I set proper processes and procedures that effectively meant I was no longer the ‚””blocker‚”” of information flow, but people could make decisions without involving me. Originally these processes were temporary however I see no reason to revert back to the ‚””keep me in the loop‚”” mentality

So in summary

When I told people about the challenge I was met with two distinct reactions. The first was from people who have Internet access on multiple devices all the time. They said that it can not be done and that I would battle to cope running a business with such limited connectivity. The second reaction was from people who don’t have regular Internet access and they were confused as to what the challenge actually was they only connect at WiFi hotspots or public libraries.

It was an interesting realisation as to what some people take for granted and others see as a luxury. Being able to connect via a smartphone or via 3G dongle is just a basic day to day activity for some, and for others is an over-the-top extravagance.

I started out the challenge like someone who is going through rehab. I knew that temptation in the form of connectivity and its glorious information is just a small data on tick away on my mobile phone.

I resisted. It was hard at first, but by week two, I realised that I was so consumed by constant data and the need to react that I had to reprogram my brain to relax, which then allowed me to see new things around me. These included great business opportunities.

Just like all things in life everything in moderation is good. Overdo it, and life passes you by. And all you’ll do is Instagram and tweet about it.

I used to panic about not being connected, but this Ruckus WiFi challenge has taught me to relax – we are never too far away from a decent connection and a decent cup of coffee too.

* Liron Segev is also known as The Techie Guy. You can read his blog at http://www.thetechieguy.com or follow him on Twitter on @Liron_Segev

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Prepare for deepfake impact

Is the world as we know it ready for the real impact of deepfake? CAREY VAN VLAANDEREN, CEO at ESET SA, digs deeper

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Deepfake technology is rapidly becoming easier and quicker to create and it’s opening a door into a new form of cybercrime. Although it’s still mostly seen as relatively harmful or even humorous, this craze could take a more sinister turn in the future and be at the heart of political scandals, cybercrime, or even unimaginable concepts involving fake videos. And it won’t be just public figures that bear the brunt. 

deepfake is the technique of human-image synthesis based on artificial intelligence to create fake content either from scratch or using existing video designed to replicate the look and sound of a real human. Such videos can look incredibly real and currently many of these videos involve celebrities or public figures saying something outrageous or untrue.

New research shows a huge increase in the creation of deepfake videos, with the number online almost doubling in the last nine months alone. Deepfakes are increasing in quality at a swift rate, too. This video showing Bill Hader morphing effortlessly between Tom Cruise and Seth Rogan is just one example of how authentic these videos are looking, as well as sounding. If you search YouTube for the term ‘deepfake’ it will make you realise we are viewing the tip of the iceberg as to what is to come.

In fact, we have already seen deepfake technology used for fraud, where a deepfaked voice was reportedly used to scam a CEO out of a large sum of cash. It is believed the CEO of an unnamed UK firm thought he was on the phone to his boss and followed the orders to immediately transfer €220,000 (roughly US$244,000) to a Hungarian supplier’s bank account. If it was this easy to influence someone by just asking them to do it over the phone, then surely we will need better security in place to mitigate this threat.

Fooling the naked eye

We have also seen apps making DeepNudes where apps were able to turn any clothed person into a topless photo in seconds. Although, luckily, this particular app has now been taken offline, what if this comes back in another form with a vengeance and is able to create convincingly authentic-looking video?

There is also evidence that the production of these videos is becoming a lucrative business especially in the pornography industry. The BBC says “96% of these videos are of female celebrities having their likenesses swapped into sexually explicit videos – without their knowledge or consent”.

recent Californian bill has taken a leap of faith and made it illegal to create a pornographic deepfake of someone without their consent with a penalty of up to $150,000. But chances are that no legislation will be enough to deter some people from fabricating the videos.

To be sure, an article from The Economist discusses that in order to make a convincing enough deepfake you would need a serious amount of video footage and/or voice recordings in order to make even a short deepfake clip.

Having said that, In the not-too-distant future, it may be entirely possible to take just a few short Instagram stories to create a deepfake that is believed by the majority of their followers online or by anyone else who knows them. We may see some unimaginable videos appearing of people closer to home – the boss, our colleagues, our peers, our family. Additionally, deepfakes may also be used for bullying in schools, the office or even further afield.

Furthermore, cybercriminals will definitely use such technology to spearphish victims. Deepfakes keep getting cheaper to create and become near-impossible to detect with the human eye alone. As a result, alt that fakery could very easily muddy the water between fact and fiction, which in turn could force us to not trust anything – even when presented with what our senses are telling us to believe.

Heading off the very real threat

So, what can be done to prepare us for this threat? First, we need to better educate people that deepfakes exist, how they work and the potential damage they can cause. We will all need to learn to treat even the most realistic videos we see that they could be a total fabrication.

Secondly, technology desperately needs to develop better detection of deepfakes. There is already research going into it, but it’s nowhere near where it should be yet. Although machine learning is at the heart of creating them in the first place, there needs to be something in place that acts as the antidote being able to detect them without relying on human eyes alone.

Finally, social media platforms need to realize there is a huge potential threat with the impact of deepfakes because when you mix a shocking video with social media, the outcome tends to spread very rapidly and potentially could have a detrimental impact on society.

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A career in data science – or your money back

The Explore Data Science Academy is offering high demand skills courses – and guarantees employment for trainees

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The Explore Data Science Academy (EDSA) has announced several new courses in 2020 that it says will radically change the shape of data science education in South Africa. 

Comprising Data Science, Data Engineering, Data Analytics and Machine Learning, each six-month course provides vital digital skills that are in high demand in the market place.  The full time, fully immersive courses each cost R60 000 including VAT. 

The courses are differentiated from any other available by the fact that EDSA has introduced a money back promise if it cannot place the candidate in a job within six months of graduation and at a minimum annual starting salary of R240 000.

“For South Africans with drive and aptitude, this is the perfect opportunity to launch a career in what has been called the sexiest career of the 21stcentury,” says Explore founder Shaun Dippnall.

Dippnall and his team are betting on the explosive demand for data science skills locally and globally.

 “There is a massive supply-demand gap in the area of data science and our universities and colleges are struggling to keep up with the rapid growth and changing nature of specific digital skills being demanded by companies.  

“We are offering specifically a work ready opportunity in a highly skills deficient sector, and one which guarantees employment thereafter.”

The latter is particularly pertinent to young South Africans – a segment which currently faces a 30 percent unemployment rate. 

“If you have skills in either Data Science, Data Engineering, Data Analytics or Machine Learning, you will find work locally, even globally. We’re confident of that,” says Dippnall.

EDSA is part of the larger Explore organisation and has for the past two years offered young people an opportunity to be trained as data scientists and embark on careers in a fast-growing sector of the economy.  

In its first year of operation, EDSA trained 100 learners as data scientists in a fully sponsored, full-time 12-month course.  In year two, this number increased to 400.  

“Because we are connected with hundreds of employers and have an excellent understanding of the skills they need, our current placement rate is over 90 percent of the students we’ve taught,” Dippnall says. “These learners can earn an average of R360 000 annually, hence our offer of your money back if there is no employment at a minimum annual salary of R240k within six months.

“With one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world – recently announced as a national emergency by the President – it is important that institutions teach skills that are in demand and where learners can earn a healthy living afterwards.”

There are qualifying criteria, however. Candidates need to live in close proximity (within one hour commuting distance), or be prepared to live, in either Johannesburg or Cape Town, and need to be between the ages of 18 and 55. 

“Our application process is very tough. We’ll test for aptitude and attitude using the qualifying framework we’ve built over the years. If you’re smart enough, you’ll be accepted,” says Dippnall.

To find out more, visit  http://www.explore-datascience.net.

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