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Oct 15

Technological Solutions for Alleviating Poverty - Blog Action Day

Posted by tesla in Untagged 

Technology is providing a platform to fight humanitarian, housing and poverty causes. The theme for Blog Action Day is poverty and the Village Phone Program is providing sustainable solutions to fight poverty, create jobs and provide telecommunications services to those that do not have access. Basic telecommunications is not an option for millions and could mean that in order to make a phone call, these individuals will have to travel vast distances which could result in loss of income as a result of the traveling.

The Village Phone Program allows women to become phone operators by taking a loan from Grameen Bank in order to purchase a handset and subscription. They are also provided with training on how to use the phone. Customers then pay a fee to make a phone call with the operators making a profit. Grameen Bank's purpose it is to fight poverty.

The program has been replicated and is in use countries such as Uganda and Rwanda. A report by the BBC tells how an operator managed to pay off the loan in 4 months. She has since expanded and her family operates in 6 villages. In the process the family managed to transform their fortunes. This has allowed them to afford school fees and open up a stationary shop. Studies have shown that Village Phones have a made a tremendous social and economic impact creating “substantial consumer surplus” for the users.
Phone operators are also providing a money transfer service for those who need to transfer money to somebody that is located far away. A customer purchases an airtime voucher, calls the operator and provides them with the pin.  The operator loads the voucher and pays the person who the customer wants the value of the airtime to go to and takes a cut from the amount. The operator then uses the airtime for calls.

In both cases something as small as a mobile phone is creating a platform for entrepreneurs to create sustainable futures. This is allowing those who live below the poverty line to generate their own income. While aid is needed it does not last for long. Sustainable solutions allow people to help themselves and others as in the case of Village Phone Program. As the English proverb says "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime"

Oct 08

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

Posted by tesla in Untagged 


Blog Action Day 2008 will happen on October 15. The aim of the even is to raise awareness and discussion amongst bloggers, podcasters and videocasters. The theme this year is poverty.

There are 3 ways to get involved:

  • Publish

  • Donate Earnings

  • Promote

Participants are encouraged to
commit their blog by registering on the website. Bloggers are encouraged to examine poverty and bring forward ideas and views on the 15th October .  This mass participation event will provide thousands of different viewpoints and help raise awareness. Bloggers all around the world will change conversations on the web and focus on 1 global issue. This will hopefully spur action and plans to fight this cause. So go ahead and commit your blog for this worthy cause.

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.
Oct 02

What Google Was Like in 2001

Posted by tesla in Untagged 

Google has released a 2001 version of their search engine. This allows users to see what the world was like in 2001 and it certainly was vastly different  the one today. You can view some of the actual pages but going through a few results, a lot are not available. Conducting a few searches brought up a few interesting results:

    * The iPod was not a mp3 player
    * The iPhone was a product of Cisco
    * Flikr did not exist
    * Youtube returns no results
    * Wikipedia had just begun

If you have a few minutes to spare have a look because its interesting to see what world we lived in back then.
Jul 24

Facebook Facelift Preview

Posted by tesla in Untagged 

Facebook has rolled out a new user interface. It must be noted that Facebook are gradually rolling out the new design to users and not all users have access to the new interface. However, this morning for the first time since the rollout on Sunday I was able to get a sneak preview via It does not work for everybody yet.

The new design gives users more control over their profiles and helps get rid of clutter caused by applications. The first thing that I noticed was that the feed usually seen at the top every profile has been integrated with the Facebook Wall and functions like a discussion forum. The idea behind this seems to foster more conversation between users.

One of the most irritating things that I encounter when using Facebook are friends who have so many applications that their profile takes long to load which is irritating especially in a country like South Africa where we don't have same broadband speed as other other countries. The new design takes care of this and makes it much easier to access relevant information like the Wall, Info and Photos via a tab feature. When adding an application user are also given the option to preview an application before adding them.

The new design is sleek and highlight the most relevant information for users with an emphasis on highlighting new content. It is a dramatic change from the current design which will take users awhile to get used too. Facebook have realised this and have given users the option to revert back to the old Facebook. The new design was inevitable as a result of the introduction of third-party applications. This will certainly not be the last redesign as Facebook evolves to cater for the needs of its users.
Jun 23

Pre-order the iPhone from Vodacom

Posted by tesla in Untagged 

You can pre-order the iPhone 3G on Vodacom's website by pre-registering. Once registered, Vodacom will be in contact as as it becomes available. You don't have to be a Vodacom customer with the following options being offered:

  • New Contract
  • Upgrade
  • Prepaid
  • Corporate/Business

The new iPhone comes with:

  • 3G
  • GPS Maps
  • Microsoft Exchange Support
  • App Store

With all the hype surrounding the phone it is surely expected to sell really well especially that it seems like it will be offered prepaid.

Jun 13

Mozilla Attempts Guinness World Record

Posted by tesla in Untagged 

Firefox 3 will be released on June 17 and Mozilla is attempting to set the Guinness World Record for the number of Internet software downloads in 24 hours. This is a newly created record with the target being being 5 million downloads.

Version 3 has gone through a beta program with two release candidates. The new version addresses complaints from previous versions with improvements like:

  • Firefox 3 now includes a new rendering engine which enables the browser to render pages faster
  • It uses fewer system resources
  • Additional security
  • Better Stability
  • Bookmarks and history are stored in a database
  • Add tags to your bookmarks
  • Create backups of bookmarks

You can pledge and get the latest updates about this world record as well as a download reminder on Tuesday June 17.
Jun 04

How To Convert a DVD or Video for an iPod

Posted by tesla in Untagged 

I have had a video iPod for just over a year and never really watched videos on it because the screen is so small. But there are certain circumstances especially when travelling and I don't feel like pulling out my laptop to watch movies. The iPod video feature becomes useful in situations like this.

The problem that I had was that most of my videos or DVD's are in a format not recognised on an iPod as it uses the MPEG-4 format. In order to convert them into the correct format software would have to used. The problem with most of them is that you have to pay to use them. After much searching I found two that do the job perfectly for

The first piece of software, Videora iPod Converter, converts many different file formats including Youtube videos, avi, divx, mpeg and DVD's for your iPod. The software has a helpful wizard to assist users who don't know the intricate details of what settings to use. You can even download and convert Youtube videos from within the program. What
this means is that you don't have to use a 3rd party tool to first download the Youtube video to you PC and then convert it. The program allows you to visit the Youtube website from within the program and then just click a button to download and convert. Large files do take awhile to convert so the best thing to do is to select a few files and
just leave them in a queue while you do something else.

I found that converting DVD's was a mission as you had to use 3rd Party tools to decrypt the DVD before you could convert it to the correct format. I then came across a program called Handbrake that does this perfectly. All you need is any DVD-like source and you will be able to convert videos.
May 28

How to Customize Google Search and Gmail

Posted by tesla in Untagged 

I spend a lot of time on Google due to the work that I do. There are a few annoyances that I don't like about Google and would like to change. I came across a Mozilla Firefox extension called CustomizeGoogle that allows Firefox users to customize their Google webpage. Some of the key features available to customize Google Search include:

  • Words suggested while you type in the search box (My Favourite)
  • Google advertisements can be removed
  • Filter spam websites from search results
  • Add links to others search engines on the Google page
  • Use Google anonymously
  • Block click tracking

When using Gmail the following features are available:

  • Use secure Gmail
  • Remove the Gmail spam counter
  • Hide the Quick Contacts box
  • Hide the Invite box
  • Gmail advertisements can be removed

This plugin allows users to alter the Google webpage to make it more friendly. Allowing users to control what a webpage looks like seems like the next step for website owners to consider. This plugin allows users to surf the web anonymously. For those that don't want their information stored in Google's database can do this now with this plugin.
May 21

How Technology Could Change Soccer by 2020

Posted by tesla in Untagged 

Orange conducted research together with soccer fans, journalists and experts on how the game of soccer will progress into the next decade. With all this expertise Orange predicted what the game will be by 2020. Technology was a major factor in the change expected for players and fans.

The findings found were that holographic viewing is a distinct possibility. Games will be able to be viewed in 3D in the comfort of your own home without large glasses. If stadiums cannot be sold out for games computer-generated graphics could be used to give TV viewers the impression of a full stadium. Sound clips could be added so that when a team scores, TV viewers will hear the crowd cheering.

Soccer stadiums will be effected greatly. Portsmouth and Manchester City have opted to exclude parking spaces from there grounds and have installed wind turbines. Solar panels could generate electricity for the stadium and reduce energy costs. In order to cut water costs stadiums will be fitted with artificial pitches. If there is a shortage of rain and stadiums require it they could be fitted with dry ice rockets which when fired into clouds encourages condensation and rain.

Fans could also benefit from stadium advancements. Seats could be equipped with monitors with the option to view the game from different angles. Services could be offered whereby fans order food delivered to them in their seats. It is known that certain odors can make us feel relaxed or active. Clubs could try to influence fans by spraying fragrance throughout the stadium. This influence could make fans cheer louder and help improve the atmosphere.

Technology will enhance the experience for fans by having 360-degree images where individuals could zoom in and out of the game. The wide-gap between soccer players and fans could become closer. Players and fans could share training regimes. You could learn how to glide pass players like Cristiano Ronaldo by incorporating his training regime with yours. Gaming consoles like the Wii could be used to make this reality. Fans could soon own their football club. When Malcolm Glazer took over Manchester United unhappy fans setup their own team called FC United. Fans now have a greater influence on what happens as opposed to a board room full of directors.

Managers will be able to make informed decisions by relying on artificial intelligence. Cameras can be used to extract information and spot behavior. Managers will know who is tiring and when. A look at the players history will tell when a player becomes tired during a game. If it is found that a player tires around the 70th minute this decreases the chance of a valuable contribution from a player in the final stages of a game and thus the manager could perform a substitution with a fresher player. The camera's could pickup body language and indicate to managers if players are becoming angry and alert managers before a player gets sent off for descent. Statistics could be gathered and could be determined which players do well against certain opposition and this could influence team selection to make the most out of the teams strengths and weaknesses.

Technology could assist referees in making informed decisions. RFID chips in balls could be used to to determine exactly were a foul happened for a free-kick. We could determine if a foul happened inside or outside a penalty box and this could prove the difference between a win and a loss. Communication between players and managers will improve greatly when they are linked directly. Managers would no longer have to shout from the touch line but rather just speak to give instructions. Players could give feedback while playing, on what is going on and report on injuries or problems the team are experiencing during a game.

Player injuries will be reduced when nanotechnology is incorporated into the game. Nanotechnology could be incorporated into shirts whereby the fabric destroys germs and pollutants. The shirt could replace minerals lost by the body during a game. Shirts could scroll advertisements and change during the game. Instead of having two sponsors on a shirt, teams could now have multiple during the game. Injury recovery time could be reduced by 300% with the use of cryotherapy chambers. Wayne Rooney used an oxygen tent to help speed up recovery to be fit for 2006 World Cup. It is possible for injuries to be non-existent in the future with advancements in gene therapy it might be possible to predict an injury before it happens

The findings are certainly exciting in some aspects but also worrying in others. Fan ownership seems like a great idea. It seems like soccer is following the open source model whereby the fans control what is happening and get a share in profits instead of an owner who feels like increasing ticket prices and exploiting fans. The use of 3D and computer generated crowds could greatly improve the experience for viewers at home. If the experience is so good it could possibly reduce crowd attendances and draw fans away from the game. A home team could use odors to try and keep the away fans quiet during games. Multiple advertisements on shirts seems to commercial the game a bit too much. Players will effectively become walking billboards and this could be an eyesore. However, technology to improve decision making and improve or prevent injuries will help with the quality of the game.

The future of soccer certainly seems exciting with technology playing a major part. The question remains, just how far are we willing to take it? If we are not careful we might just have robots running around on a field and take away the beauty of the game.
May 18

The Fusion of Technology and Sports Fans

Posted by tesla in Untagged 

With rapid growth of the Internet and mobile phones many industries have been transformed as a result. Sport has been embracing technology much to distaste of traditionalists. But today fans are now playing an important part and technology has changed how fans view and participate in sport.

Before the Internet and Web 2.0 sports fans would discuss sport with family, friends and office colleagues, but today it’s possible to engage views and opinions from fellow fans around the world. Fans log into discussion boards, IM programs and join mailing lists to discuss their team’s latest tactics, games and players. Some sporting teams are taking it even further by engaging fans on whole new level by having a representative on fan discussion boards to answer questions from fans. Fans are no longer dependant on journalists bringing them news or match reports. Those who were at the game or just watching it on television do this via blogs and podcasts.

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