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You don’t have to make excuses for your old tech

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The next ten years will see the most rapid advances in the history of technology, but sometimes it will be okay to be left behind, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

The coming ten years will see technology advance so rapidly, it will sometimes feel like we’ve moved to another planet. That is terrible news for those who already feel they’ve been left behind, or are bewildered by the pace of change since the beginning of the 21st century.

But there is good news. In most cases, no one will force them to embrace new technology. Of course, they will be at a massive disadvantage if they don’t, but in many cases they won’t experience it as a disadvantage – unless friends, family and colleagues try to rub it in their faces.

One of the greatest drawbacks of rapid adoption of new technology in the mainstream market is that those who hold onto the old are often ridiculed and made to feel inadequate. However, there is another way of viewing this behavior by seemingly hip, happening people who regard themselves as being in the know and therefore superior to those who haven’t embraced the new.

Such people are, in fact, in need of validation. Typically, they have spent a large amount of money on new technology. Whether or not the cost was justified is beside the point. The truth is that they feel a need to justify it to everyone else. That, often, is the psychology lurking behind Apple and Samsung users, for example, mocking each other for using the “wrong” technology.

But there is no such thing as wrong technology. If it works for you, that’s what matters. If someone else feels superior to you because of what works for you, the problem clearly lies with them. Feeling superior because of the technology you use is like feeling superior because of the city or town in which you were born. And anyone who feels superior because of an accident of birth is demonstrably a fool.

Just as you shouldn’t have to make excuses about where you were born, you shouldn’t have to make excuses about the technology you use.

For example, you don’t have to make excuses if:

* You use an old BlackBerry or Nokia. It still works, right? It still does everything you want it to do right? That’s the only thing that matters, unless it puts you at a practical disadvantage or is costing you more to use.

* You prefer printed newspaper to online news. It can be shown that someone who reads a newspaper from cover to cover is more informed, with better general knowledge across news, entertainment and sport, than someone who relies only on headlines fed by social media. People who rely on digital news typically filter out everything that does not fit their specific interests, and their range of interests tends to narrow.

* You like paper books instead of e-readers. Guess what? Paper is superior technology here, as a book doesn’t need to be recharged, and lasts for decades after a current e-reader is obsolete. Yes, you have to buy each book separately, but doesn’t it look great on what we one called a “bookshelf”? Most of us have yet to install a Kindle-shelf in our homes.

* You don’t have a solar-powered geyser. South African electricity is  still among the cheapest in the world, and the savings from solar power versus electricy for this purpose seldome results in a return on investment. The reason? The upfront cost of installation and the ongoing cost of regularly replacing batteries is sometimes never recouped during the typical home-ownership lifespan.

* Your family doesn’t have the latest gaming console or tablet. The physical world out there is far more interesting than any digital world – but only if you allow it to be. Those without the latest toys are far more likely to allow it.

These are just a few examples, and some are generalisations. Everything depends on your own circumstances, needs and resources.

The flip side of this reality is that the opportunities represented by technology in the next decade will be massive for those who embrace change. The way we work, play, live, transact, travel, learn, educate, medicate and communicate will be utterly changed.

While it will be  possible to live comfortably in the cracks between the new and the old, the real question is why you would want to do so. You don’t have to justify it to anybody else: just be certain that it is what you want for yourself.

* 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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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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