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Saturday 24 October 2009
SA's own Silicon Valley
MaTiCa , Saturday 24 October 2009 - 21:41:23 //

By Ian MacDonald from thebrilliant www.sagoodnews.co.za

Silicon Valley, RSA

Thursday was one of those days when I felt that I was at the start of something special. Packed into a large room with 500 of the country's most dynamic young entrepreneurs, a dream took root. The dream: to turn Cape Town into South Africa's version of the famed Silicon Valley.

No, this wasn't the first step towards making Cape Town the plastic surgery epicentre of the south, but rather an information technology ecosystem that would attract local and foreign investors, the brightest technical talent, and the most promising entrepreneurs, to foster the creation and growth of world-class Intellectual Property start-up companies.

The original Silicon Valley is in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay area in the United States. Thousands of high-tech companies are headquartered there, including giants like Apple, Google, Intel and Hewlett-Packard. It is a leading research and development area and serves as a magnet for the world's most brilliant minds.

Cape Town shares some striking similarities with San Francisco. Firstly, there is the natural beauty that makes each city a desirable place to live. Secondly, the proximity to excellent universities, particularly Stanford and UCT (which was ranked as the 146th best university in the world in the World University Rankings). Thirdly, the existing culture of innovation and start-up technology companies and a subculture of 'geeks' (digitally-obsessed individuals). And fourthly, both areas have government support for an IT hub.

South Africa has a proud track record in tech innovation. At the Silicon Cape launch, MC and online media guru Matthew Buckland reeled off a list of South Africa's world-class internet entrepreneurs: "Ubuntu chief Mark Shuttleworth, Paypal founder Elon Musk, Roelof Botha at Sequoia Capital (the venture capitalists behind Google and YouTube), Gareth Knight who founded Kindo, Brent Hoberman from Lastminute.com, Paul Maritz (often said to be the third-ranking executive at Microsoft, behind Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer). Locally we have some companies making waves overseas including MXIT, Yola and Clickatell and Naspers owns one of the biggest instant messenging clients in the world, TenCent in China."

Silicon Cape is being driven by two young, dynamic South African tech entrepreneurs: Vinny Lingham and Justin Stanford. They believe that Cape Town is where Silicon Valley was 15 years ago. Lingham and Stanford say that Silicon Cape is already happening in South Africa, but it is small and taking place in isolated, fragmented pockets.

Creating an ecosystem that exports innovation and intellectual property would have immense long-term benefits for the country. Like tourism, information technology should be a significant part of the the present and future of the South African economy, with our dependence on finite natural resource exploitation consigned to the past.

There are many obstacles to be overcome, such as inadequate intellectual property protection and a regulatory environment that is not particularly entrepreneur-friendly. These are certainly surmountable, and as Stanford said, "South Africans have a strong work ethic, innovative minds and a formidable can-do attitude".

In a short space of time, Stanford and Lingham have received the support of some high profile South Africans. I'm sure that if you had asked them who they would like to back the initiative, they might have said one of South Africa's most successful businessmen, a leading politically-connected academic and the premier of the Western Cape... and that is who they have roped in: Johann Rupert, Mamphela Ramphele and Helen Zille.

With that kind of backing, it is clear to see just how important this initiative is.

"The country has an opportunity to become a net exporter of intellectual property, right now," believes Lingham. "If we don't, we will remain a net exporter of talent."

No country can afford to export talent, and especially not a developing country such as South Africa. The talent we have needs to be nurtured, supported and offered an environment in which to thrive.

The excitement during the launch was palpable. There was a real sense, as Buckland put it, that 'here, today, history is being made.'

With the likes of Rupert, Ramphele and Zille behind it, and with the energy of young entrepreneurs (who are used to taking ideas from conception through to implementation) driving it forward, the dream of a South African Silicon Valley is destined to become a reality.

By Ian Macdonald
[Submitted by Enigma_2k4]



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Tuesday 06 October 2009
The rAge experience
MaTiCa , Tuesday 06 October 2009 - 21:23:20 //

Going to rAge is a pilgrimage for any South African gamer. As the country's biggest gaming expo, developers, distributors and stores are all vying for your attention.

From the get-go, there were surprises galore, with publisher Take 2 and local distributor Megarom keen to show off Borderlands. Unfortunately for us, Megarom prohibited pictures or videos being taken of their forthcoming products. But we managed to get an extensive playthrough on the PC version (write-up coming soon!)

Megarom went all out this year, buying up a ton of floor space to demo games like Assassin's Creed 2, Avatar, DJ Hero, Red Steel 2 and Splinter Cell: Conviction in addition to Borderlands, with some of them being playable by the public.

With exclusive presentations for unreleased titles such as Borderlands, Splinter Cell: Conviction and Assassin's Creed 2, Take 2 and Ubisoft showed that they were very serious about business in South Africa.

Sony, never one to let down their SA audience, left their mark at the event, showcasing the PSP Go and officially launching the PS3 Slim.

Rhythm action was also big at rAge; with DJ Hero, Guitar Hero 5, Singstar, Lips and Rock Band all vying for the crowd's attention. This is one of the easiest games for casual/non-gamers to get into as evident by the huge public interest in it.

Speaking of casual games, the Wii was out in full force, with games ranging from The Saboteur and Wii Sports Resort and Need for Speed: Nitro to the aforementioned Red Steel 2. Local distributor Nu-Metro also hit back with their own unreleased games such as military shooter Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising, Tim Schafer's Brutal Legend and Dragon Age: Origins.

Independent titles were also represented, with Ultimate Quest, an unpublished Xbox Live Arcade game from SA developers shaping up to be a fun, quirky, self-parodying game. Trials HD and 'Splosion Man were also some 'indie' titles represented.

Of course, what would rAge be like without the LAN? More than 1800 gamers converged for 53 hours of gaming, with games like Call of Duty 4, Counterstrike Source and Quake 3: Arena being firm favourites.

Speaking of Quake 3, South African gamers were treated to a Swedish team's skills in Quake 3 on a special screen set up near the LAN area as part of the Arena 77 tournament.

Of course, there were more than just games and consoles on display. Various gadget manufacturers and stores popped in with their wares, such as Wintec Solutions' solar-powered cellphone charger. Various other stores held sales during rAge, with jaw-dropping bargains to be had.

rAge also catered to lovers of anime with an anime cafe, allowing visitors to have a bite to eat while watching their favourite series with questionably-attired nurse-types serving them. There were comics and manga to be had too, thanks to a special anime store.

Yes folks, rAge catered for everyone, from the mothers dragged along by their children, to the hardcore gamer – rAge has once again blown people away and we look forward to next year's event.

SOURCE: iafrica.com

0 2172412

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Saturday 19 September 2009
Online: Voice chats for Facebook fans
MaTiCa , Saturday 19 September 2009 - 12:23:43 //

CHATTING with friends and family on Facebook will take on a new dimension later this year, thanks to Vivox Labs, the newly launched innovations division of Vivox (www.vivox.com).

How, you may ask? By being able to conduct voice chats on the popular social networking website.

Although not heavily promoted by Facebook, the announcement of this new feature was made earlier this week by the company that provides integrated voice service for virtual worlds like Second Life, and online gaming like Star Wars Galaxies and Eve Online as well. Vivox Web Voice for Facebook is currently in a closed beta stage and the release is set to be sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.

Essentially, how it works is that a Facebook user will need to download and install the Web Voice for Facebook plugin in order to chat with people on one’s friend list. It doesn’t just work for one-on- one conversations, but also for group discussions. This makes it useful not only for family chats, but potentially for meetings, too.

However, it is not designed for exclusive Facebook use – it will also be made available to third party developers who would like to include the service into their applications as well. Interestingly, the company also plans to encourage non-Facebook user participation by offering free dial-in-numbers that will allow them to call in to an existing conversation.

Vivox has positioned itself incredibly well – the world’s largest social networking site boasts an audience of 300 million users, and founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated this week in his blog (http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php) that the company is now “cash flow positive?.

Skype, watch out. - By TEGAN BEDSER

SOURCE: Dispatch Online
[Submitted by MaTiCa]



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Wednesday 16 September 2009
Microsoft's Xbox 360 gets Modern Warfare 2 makeover
MaTiCa , Wednesday 16 September 2009 - 17:49:59 //

Given the outstanding critical and consumer reputation amassed by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, you’d be forgiven for thinking its upcoming sequel, Modern Warfare 2, wouldn’t need to rely on the peddling of retail gimmicks to help it fulfil its status as a flagship shooter and potential Game of the Year.

However, with publisher Activision/Blizzard already offering up fully functioning nightvision goggles with the game’s expensive Prestige Edition, software giant Microsoft has this week revealed a special Modern Warfare 2 edition of its popular Xbox 360 console.

Revealed at a press event in Los Angeles, the limited edition black Xbox 360 stands above existing versions of Microsoft’s platform thanks to a whopping 250GB hard disk drive and specific custom Modern Warfare 2 detailing.

Expected to hit retail in the United States this coming November 10, the Modern Warfare 2 bundle also includes two black wireless game controllers, a black Xbox 360 wireless headset, a composite A/V cable (Unfortunately no bundled HDMI), and a standard version of Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 videogame.

Priced at a tempting $399 USD, the limited edition Xbox 360 also comes with a one-month Gold subscription for Xbox Live and a free trial with home entertainment specialist Netflix.
SOURCE: The Tech Herald
[Submitted by MaTiCa]

186 1253116099 Micros

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Tuesday 15 September 2009
Microsoft Bing adds visual search
MaTiCa , Tuesday 15 September 2009 - 13:10:27 //

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

Software giant Microsoft has introduced "visual search" to its Bing search engine to try to further set itself apart from market-leader Google.

The new feature will allow users to browse results using pictures instead of text.

Visual search will initially concentrate on four main areas: travel, health, leisure and shopping.

"The whole concept is that the world of search is going to change," said Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi.

"There will be a more graphic way people will search, and it will pivot how people search," said Mr Mehdi, the firm's senior vice president of online services.

'Search battle'

Microsoft unveiled the beta, or test version of the feature, at TechCrunch 50, a conference being held in San Francisco for start-ups to pitch their ideas to investors.

"Competition breeds innovation and this nice little battle between Google and Microsoft is having a huge benefit to consumers," said investor Ron Conway, who has previously put money into Google, PayPal and AskJeeves.

Microsoft launched Bing in May and promoted it as an improvement over Google's "10 blue links" for tasks like shopping and travel.

New figures by net analysts Nielsen said that Microsoft's share of U.S. searches rose to 10.7% in August while Google remained dominant with 64.6%. Yahoo, in second place, was used for 16% of searches.

In late July, Microsoft and Yahoo Inc. signed an agreement to work together to better take on Google. It still has to pass anti-trust scrutiny.

At the launch, Microsoft claimed "Visual Search" allowed users to conduct certain searches faster than the "traditional image search" offered by rival Google and other search engines.

In a blog post, the company said a study it conducted found that consumers can process results with images 20% faster than text only results.

"It's like searching through a large online catalogue," Microsoft said.

As users enter search terms, a link at the top of the first page of results allows users to "visualise" what Bing has found.

Clicking on the link displays a gallery of related images.

'Money maker'

At the moment only a small number of topics will return a visual display. These centre around popular categories like entertainment, famous people, shopping and sports.

"I think in those isolated cases it's going to work very well and those are the areas where there is a lot of money," Don Dodge, Microsoft's director of business development told BBC News.

"There is a lot of advertising money for shopping, for travel and so on. So not only is it a better user experience but it's a better business model too," said Mr Dodge.

Even though the TechCrunch conference targets start-up companies which come to have their ideas evaluated by a panel of experts, Microsoft agreed to have the group rate its new product.

"This is a good paradigm but should be implemented in areas where the user needs images to get into what he's looking for," said Yossi Vardi, an angel investor known for investing in software, energy and mobile companies.

The panel was also jokingly asked if they would be interested in investing in the product and the company behind it.

"Bing has a real flair and, depending what you think of Microsoft, it is a great surprise," said Jason Hirschhorn, chief product officer for MySpace.com.

"The brand and interface its fun and tactile. Yusuf, you have my cheque," he joked.

SOURCE: BBC News
[Submitted by MaTiCa]

186 1253012960 Micros

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