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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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Face App grabs SA attention

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South Africans generated more than 100 000 search queries for “Face App” on Wednesday, while only generating 50 000 for “Mandela Day”. The Internet wentcrazy over the two-year-old app, which uses artificial intelligence to create a rendering of what users might look like in a few decades. Face App went viral as users posted their aged likenesses on social media in the #faceappchallenge. Privacy experts, however, warned that the app (made in Russia) may pose a threat to users’ privacy as it stores photos on its servers, with US Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, appealing to the FBI to investigate the app. 

In other top searches on Google this week, “Johnny Clegg” garnered more than 500 000 search queries on Tuesday as the news of his passing broke. The ‘White Zulu’ of Juluka and Savuka fame was an internationally acclaimed musician who was also an important figure in the fight against apartheid. Tributes to Clegg have been flooding media and social media over the past couple of days. Clegg succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 66.

More than 200 000 search queries were generated for “Mark Batchelor” on Monday after the former soccer star was brutally gunned down outside his Olivedale home in Gauteng. Investigations into the shooting are still ongoing. Batchelor played for Orlando Pirates, Wits University, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Moroka Swallows and Bafana Bafana. 

“Jacob Zuma” also garnered more than 100 000 search queries on Monday as he made his first, much-anticipated appearance in front of the Zondo Commission on state capture. 

On Sunday “Macdonald Ndou” picked up more than 10 000 search queries after reports of theMuvhango actor’s arrest made the rounds. Ndou was held on various charges including extortion and kidnapping. The Hawks have reportedly provisionally withdrawn charges against the TV star, but a spokesperson said the decision to withdraw does not mean the charges will not be reinstated.

“Serena Williams” garnered more than 50 000 searches on Saturday as the tennis superstar suffered a 6-2, 6-2 defeat against Simona Halep in a Wimbledon final that lasted just 56 minutes. Williams later told Agence France Presse, “She [Halep] played out of her mind” and “I was like a deer in headlights”.

Last Friday, South Africans produced more than 20 000 search queries for “Duduzane Zuma” as the Randburg Magistrates Court found the former first son not guilty of a charge of culpable homicide. In February 2014, Zuma was involved in a car crash that took the life of Phumzile Dube when his vehicle crashed into the taxi she was travelling in.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year, worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40 

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Homemation creates comfort through smart homes

Home automation is more than just turning the lights on and off, Homemation’s Gedaliah Tobias tells BRYAN TURNER

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The world is taking interior design notes from the Danish, in a style of living called hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). Its meaning varies from person to person: some see hygge as a warm fire on a cold winter’s night, others see it as a cup of hot coffee in the morning. The amount of “good feelings” one gets from these relaxing activities depends on what one values as indulgent.

But how does technology fit into this “art of feeling good”?

We asked Homemation marketing manager Gedaliah Tobias to take us through a fully automated home of the future and show us how automation creates comfort and good feelings.

“The house is powered by Control4, which you can think of as the brain of the smart home,” says Tobias. “It controls everything from the aircon to smart vacuum cleaners.”

The home of the future is secured by a connected lock. It acts like other locks with keypads and includes a key in the event of a power interruption. The keypad is especially useful to those who want to provide temporary access to visitors, staff, or simply kids who might lose their parents’ house keys.

“The keypad is especially useful for temporary access,” says Tobias. “For example, if you have a garden service that needs to use the home for the day, they can be given a code that only turns off the perimeter alarm beams in the garden for the day and time. If that code is used outside of the day and time range, users can set up alerts for their armed response to be alerted. This type of smart access boosts security.”

Once inside, one is greeted with a “scene” – a type of recipe for electronic success. The scene starts by turning on the lights, then by alerting the user to disarm the alarm. After the alarm is disarmed, the user can start another more complicated scene.

“Users can request customised scene buttons,” says Tobias. “For example, if I press the ‘Dinner call’ scene, the lights start to flash in the bedroom, there’s an announcement from the smart speakers, the blinds start to come down, the lighting is shifted to the dinner table. Shifting focus with lighting creates a mood to bring the house together for dinner.”

Homemation creates these customised scene buttons to enable users to control their homes without having to use another device. In addition to scene buttons, there are several ways to control the smart home.

 “Everything in the smart home is controllable from your phone, the touchscreens around the house, the TV, and the dedicated remote control. Everyone is different, so having multiple ways to control the house is a huge value add.”

We ask Tobias where Homemation recommends non-smart home users should start on their smart home journey.

“Before anything, the Control4 infrastructure needs to be set up. This involves a lot of communications and electrical cabling to be run to different areas of the home to enable connectivity throughout the home. After the infrastructure is set up, the system is ready for smart home devices, like lighting and sound.”

“For new smart home users, the best bang for their buck would be to start with lighting once the infrastructure is set up. Taking it one step at a time is wise.”

•    For more information, visit https://www.homemation.co.za/

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