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Will Netflix break your (data) bank?

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The arrival of Netflix in South Africa offers a viable solution to costly paid-for TV solution, but will our current Internet capacity be able to handle its demands? asks GREG WRIGHT, Product Owner at Webafrica.

The arrival of Netflix in South Africa promises an alternative to current and expensive TV services on offer – that of being able to stream hundreds of popular movies and TV shows in real time, on demand, whether it be from your smartphone, tablet or computer. While this is good news for our increasingly tech-savvy population, this new development also raises the question of what kind of Internet data and streaming capacity is necessary to make use of a service like Netflix – and whether it is an affordable alternative.

The Netflix revolution is good news for South Africans – among others, there is no more need to hide your location using VPN connections or sneak around with 3rd party apps. All you really need is a decent Internet connection, be it fibre, ADSL or mobile. If you are concerned with saving your data, there is added good news: with Netflix, you have the ability to actually set your bandwidth consumption within your Netflix account by setting the quality of your video.

Contrary to popular belief, a decent Internet connection that will allow you to use a streaming service like Netflix does not have to break the bank. In fact, it might be cost efficient in the long run.

Take fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), for example: FTTH allows users to stream footage on demand, without buffering. Unlike ADSL, with FTTH there is no requirement to couple Telkom voice lines with a fibre line. Saying goodbye to Telkom voice lines means a monthly saving of R186 per month. Due to its super-streaming abilities, there is also less of a need for expensive satellite TV subscriptions. Many fibre customers end up cancelling their satellite subscriptions, or at least downgrade them to a cheaper package. The cherry on top is that fibre is more affordable than people think. For example, there are packages where a 20/2Mbps fibre line with a 200GB data bundle and free router and setup retail for R769 per month.  A package like this should fulfil all the needs of an average-sized family. And if you have said goodbye to Telkom and satellite TV, it’s a win-win.

Currently, internet over fibre is only available in certain towns and suburbs where the cables have physically been laid. To see if it’s hit your neighbourhood yet, click here: http://bit.ly/1GpUGst

If the growing fibre network has not hit your neighbourhood just yet, your next best option for streaming Netflix movies and series is to get an ADSL package. There are various packages available – a capped account for streaming services is a good option as it is on a higher bandwidth priority. Again, this kind of bundle will not break the bank. For example, a 100GB capped package retails for R199 per month.

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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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