Dell, CSIR unveil ‘fastest supercomputer in Africa’ (WebAfrica)

South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has unveiled a petaflops (PFLOPs) machine which they claim is the fastest computer on the African continent due to its speed of roughly one petaflops (1000 teraflops). Flops are units for measuring of computer’s processing speed.

By Matshelane Mamabolo

“This is a supercomputer with processing speed capable of a thousand-trillion floating point operations per second. Floating point operations or flops are used in computing to calculate extremely large numbers,”revealed the CSIR in its presentation of the computer which features over 40 000 cores making it 15 times faster than the previous system.

The petaflops machine has been named Lengau which is a Setswana name for Cheetah.

Dr Thomas Auf der Heyde, Deputy Director-General: Research Development and Support at the Department of Science and Technology says high-performance computing plays an important role growing the economy.

“For our country to grow at the required rate, as set out in the National Development Plan, it needs to change gear by building capacity in the production and dissemination knowledge. The CHPC represents a deliberate move by this country to invest in modernising our research and development. High-performance computing and advanced data technologies are powerful tools in enhancing the competitiveness of regions and nations,”

The system used to in create the supercomputer has a smaller footprint than previous systems. The Dell HPC system is comprised of 1,039 Dell PowerEdge servers, based on Intel Xeon processors totalling 19 racks of compute nodes and storage. It has a total Dell Storage capacity of five petabytes, and uses Dell Networking ethernet switches and Mellanox EDR InfiniBand with a maximum interconnect speed of 56 GB/s.

Jim Ganthier, vice president and general manager, Engineered Solutions, HPC and Cloud at Dell says they are proud to collaborate with South Africa’s CSIR to delivery the fastest HPC system in Africa.

“The Lengau system will provide access and open doors to help drive new research, new innovations and new national economic benefits. While Lengau benefits from the latest technology advancements, from performance to density to energy efficiency, the most important benefit is that Lengau will enable new opportunities and avenues in research, the ability to help spur private sector growth in South Africa and, ultimately, help enable human potential.”

Other advantages of Lengau, according to the CSIR, are that it will provide increased access to computer resources for users who previously had limited or no access to such resources, improve performance of large-scale simulations that were impossible in the past, opening completely new avenues of research, and providing greater capacity to build the private sector/non-academic user base of its CHPC (Centre for High Performance Computing) for improved national economic benefit.

Read More at Web Africa

LG helps India fight malaria with mosquito repelling TVs (CNET.com)

Mosquito-spread diseases such as malaria and dengue continue to affect hundreds of thousands of Indians each year.

by

Some people want 3D viewing experience in their next TV. Some want a 4K display. LG is hoping that many in India want their next TV to repel mosquitoes.

The company on Tuesday announced its Mosquito Away line of TVs for the country. The South Korean company says that its new TV comes equipped with an ultrasonic device which uses sound wave to keep mosquitoes at bay.

The cheapest model, sporting a 32-inch display, is priced at 26,900 rupees ($400, AU$550, £275), with the top-of-the-line 43-inch variant costing 47,500 rupees ($710, AU$950, £490).

The company says that it studied the Indian market and concluded there wasn’t any device of this kind that addressed the growing medical and hygienic issue of mosquitoes in the country.

Last year, India’s capital New Delhi alone had over 10,500 cases of dengue, a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Meanwhile, only 11 percent of India’s population lives in Malaria free zones, according to the 2014 World Malaria Report, with over 850,000 cases being recorded in 2013.

The company assures that the Mosquito Away TV models don’t emit any harmful radiation, nor do they use chemicals. What’s more, there is no need to refill chemicals or worry about any other maintenance.

Read More at CNET.com

Uganda: Uber launches in Kampala (IT News Africa)

Following the success of Uber in many other African cities, the company revealed that it is excited to launch its ride-sharing platform to the people of Uganda in Kampala.

By Darryl Linington

Uganda: Uber launches in Kampala. (Image Source: http://bellinghamwins.bobpritchett.com/)

At launch Alon Lits, General Manager for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa stated that: “We’re really excited to be launching Uber in Kampala, a world-class African city. We are inspired by the city’s rapidly developing infrastructure and spirit of entrepreneurship and look forward to giving people in the city an affordable, easy and flexible choice to move around the city safely and reliably.”

“At Uber, we are proud to connect millions of global citizens every to affordable and reliable rides. By offering a friendly and reliable complement to existing transport options, we can help improve urban mobility in Kampala. We are mindful of the city’s current traffic congestion, and we aim to be part of the solution in improving it, while creating new, fruitful opportunities for drivers. Ultimately, we hope to reduce the strain on the city’s roads, and minimise the environmental impact of traffic congestion that is part of a growing economy.”

Lits concluded by saying: “Uber is part of a broader evolution in transportation. It is a new and exciting platform that is changing the way we travel and shaping the future of cities across the world. Kampala is a progressive, forward-thinking city that is ready for safe, reliable and efficient transportation and we are so excited to be launching here.”

To celebrate Uber’s launch in Kampala, Uber will be providing free rides for all Ugandans to enjoy in the city of Kampala. Free rides can be accessed on the Uber app between 1pm Thursday 2 June 2016, and midnight on Sunday 5 June 2016.

Read More at IT News Africa

Google’s Translate app got me this delicious chicken (and the beer too) (CNET.com)

Armed with only a simple app and a hunger for fried chicken, technology reigned supreme when it came to ordering Taiwanese cuisine at Computex 2016.

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google-translate-chicken.jpg

One of my favourite moments of Computex 2016 here in Taiwan actually occurred off the show floor. Having just finished up on the Birdly VR (hands down the best virtual reality experience I’ve tried), my colleague Seamus Byrne and I found ourselves hungry for a late lunch.

We were close to a place where we’d eaten previously, but with one slight hiccup: the first time we’d had fellow CNETer Aloysius Low with us to order in Mandarin. This time it was just us, and beyond “hello” and “thank you” neither Seamus nor I had the conversational skills to get that spicy fried chicken we were craving.

Now Taipei is a very accommodating city. Many outlets have English menus and staff who know enough English to guide you through. But sometimes the best stuff is in the places that live on the far side of the language barrier.

Luckily, we had the Google Translate app, which interprets written and spoken phrases from a host of languages. But its most impressive function is its augmented-reality style instant translation. Switch the app to camera mode, point it at a sign and it will translate the words in real time, showing it on your screen as if the sign was in English (or whichever language you’re after). It’ll even match the font and placement.

Read more at CNET.com

A Camera Lens Breakthrough Could See Smartphones Outperforming DSLRs (Gizmodo)

If you’ve ever held a high-quality camera lens, the first thing you notice is the weight. Thanks to layers and layers of thick glass hunks inside, they end up being very heavy. However, thanks to research being done at Harvard on something called metalenses, one day those mgiant glass-filled lenses might be obsolete.

BY Andrew Liszewski

The curved surfaces on a glass lens focus incoming light onto a camera’s digital sensor. The more precise (and expensive) the lens is, the better the image it will produce.

Metalenses work in a similar way, but they’re not made of precision-ground glass. Instead, a layer of transparent quartz is completely covered in a layer of tiny towers made from titanium dioxide. When arranged in specific patterns, those complex tower arrays can focus light exactly like a glass lens does. Except that these tiny metalenses end up being thinner than a human hair, and weigh almost nothing.

Sounds like a technology that only a well-funded organization like the US military would be able to afford, right? Turns out that’s not the case. The reason giant camera lenses end up being so expensive is that the manufacturing process requires the glass to be perfectly ground and polished to incredibly precise tolerances—which slows down the mass production process.

Thanks to years of refining the manufacturing processes for electronics, producing these metalenses will be relatively easy and cheap using the same techniques used for microchips. The other huge advantage is that these lenses won’t have to be the size of Pringles cans. Once the technology is perfected, the same lens used in a DSLR could be squeezed into a smartphone. They say the best camera is the one you have with you, but soon your smartphone might actually be as good as it gets.

Read More at Gizmodo.com

Embracing Science, With Robotic Arms, in Senegal (NYT Africa)

DAKAR, Senegal — One robot slammed into some blocks and nearly fell to the floor. Another sideswiped a wall. Yet another spun in dizzying circles.

By DIONNE SEARCEY

So when the robot built by students from an all­girls school finally navigated the twists of the maze — flawlessly rounding every corner and touching every required flag — the crowd went nuts.

The girls were among students from 25 schools who gathered in Dakar to compete in the second annual Pan­African Robotics Competition.

 

For five days, in a city where horse and cart are still a fixture on the many unpaved roads, boys and girls from sixth grade to high school hunched over laptops and tablets at a camp, entering code to guide their small blue robots through a labyrinth meant to test their skills in a competition on the final day.

The event was organized by Sidy Ndao, a Senegalese­born engineering professor at the University of Nebraska­Lincoln, who is on a mission to help further science, technology, engineering and math education, known as STEM skills, in West Africa.

In America, the need for more STEM education has become a stump

speech delivered by many economists and business leaders. They stress that improving these skills will help the United States create more jobs, compete better globally and increase its economic growth.

The same is true for Senegal and across West Africa, Dr. Ndao said, where incorporating STEM education can help set a course to improve everything from sanitation systems to agriculture and can create jobs in a place with soaring unemployment.

“There’s a lot of work to be done here,” said Dr. Ndao, 33.

It is not that schools in the region don’t emphasize math and science already. The all­girls school at the competition, the Mariama Bâ de Gorée School, is known as one of the best math schools in Senegal. Though some schools outside Dakar, the capital, do not even have electricity, many private schools in the city have computer labs, math and science clubs and offer more technology courses than in the past.

But Dr. Ndao said the schools sometimes emphasized rote memorization rather than focusing on contextual learning. Students do not connect theories they learn with practical experiences, he argued.

“We have kids brought in from math and science schools, and when they see an airplane flying, they think it’s magic,” Dr. Ndao said. “But if you give them any math problem, they can solve it.”

Dr. Ndao went to school in Senegal until his teenage years, struggling through elementary school. But something clicked in junior high, and he decided math was his thing.

Dr. Ndao’s parents wanted a better education for him, so he went to New York, where he lived with a relative and enrolled in high school. Dr. Ndao said he had quickly risen to the top of his high school class there, and received a scholarship to City College of New York, where he studied mechanical engineering.

But there was a catch, he said: He was in the United States illegally. “People wanted to hire me, but I didn’t have any papers,” he said.

Dr. Ndao is an author of a paper titled “Near­Field Heat Transfer Enabled Nanothermomechanical Memory and Logic Devices.” But when he first got out of college, he went to work sweeping the aisles of a 99­cent store in the Bronx.

 

Eventually, he entered a master’s degree program at City College, then went on to complete doctorate and postdoctoral work at New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His documentation issue was resolved when he married an American citizen, he said, adding that he has a green card now.

 

At the University of Nebraska, Dr. Ndao, a fan of nanotechnology, has focused on very small things and how they transfer heat. He is researching how heat, instead of electricity, can be used for computations in space exploration.

 

Having settled into a tenure­track position in Lincoln, where he lives with his wife and five children, Dr. Ndao now wants to help West African children understand how math and science can improve their country. He persuaded the University of Nebraska to help sponsor the robotics event.

 

In Senegal, entrepreneurs and government officials are embracing the idea of improving STEM education. A technology hub under construction in a new city being built outside Dakar will contain training and research facilities.

Coding clubs for girls and women are popping up in the country and across the region.

But there are challenges. Internet access in expensive, and schools in some areas do not have electricity.

Dr. Ndao’s camp and competition are still a work in progress. Despite its Pan­African title, the schools that sent students this year to the Dakar event were all from Senegal, something that Dr. Ndao hopes will change.

His event aimed to tie together the farming societies of Nebraska, known for its corn, and Senegal, known for its peanuts.

On some American farms, satellite ­controlled, driverless tractors are being tested to help make farmers’ work more efficient. In parts of Senegal, farmers can be seen bending over fields carved by a horse­drawn plow.

“We can change our future if we learn more about technology,” said Joanna Kengmeni, one of the students at the camp.

At the camp, students built robots from a kit, learned to program them and then created models of farms of the future that incorporated uses for their robots. One team created a robot with a fan that could cool crops in desertlike heat, or at least monitor temperatures, students said. Another team planned to use its robot for weed removal.

Another student at the camp, Arame Coumba Dieng, who was dressed in a head scarf and pink uniform, said she had taken to coding immediately.

“For me, it’s not difficult,” Ms. Dieng said. “You just need concentration.”

Ms. Dieng’s parents had religious schooling, but they did not go to a traditional school to learn math and science. So they sent her from their village to Dakar to study at the Lycée de Thiaroye. One administrator there described her as Miss Mathematics. “I love math,” she said.

Ms. Dieng said she was not sure how she would reach her goal of becoming an engineer. She needs to balance her dreams with returning to her home village after graduation to help her parents, who have trouble making enough money to survive.

Read More at the New York Times

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the wearable tablet you might use at your next job (Engadget)

Forget smartwatches. The Rufus Cuff is big enough to also replace your phone.

There’s no way I would wear the Rufus Cuff wrist computer. After a few minutes with this 3.2-inch Android tablet strapped to my body, my wrist started to get all sweaty. It felt bulky, weird and to be honest, not very cool. But if the massive pre-orders are any indication, there is clearly a market out there. In particular, says the company’s CEO, Gabe Grifoni, in a few years something like the Cuff will replace the iPhone in your pocket and even be part of your next work uniform.

by Roberto Baldwin

I’ll admit, I was initially dubious that a device that makes me feel like a less-cooler version of Leela from Futurama will be the first step of an inevitable wearable-computer revolution. But then Grifoni began telling me about potential industrial uses for the Cuff and it all started to make sense.

Employers believe that small Bluetooth-enabled Android tablets on their employees’ arms are a pretty good idea, according to feedback from the companies that have reached out to Rufus. With an app and a connected scanner, tasks like inventory, housekeeping at hotels and ticket-taking can be streamlined by freeing up the hands of the employees who would otherwise have to hold a tablet. The relatively low $300 price tag also means that smaller companies without the deep pockets of corporations could also get in on the action.

After a successful crowdfunding campaign, Grifoni started getting unexpected calls from businesses and their employees. “We were starting to get all these emails from warehouse workers and hotels.” he told Engadget. He says he’s talked to UPS and other companies about their employees using the Cuff in the workplace.

While the campaign generated $800,000 in pre-orders, Grifoni realized that enterprise is where all the growth is right now. But don’t worry, early adopters, the company will still sell the Cuff to consumers. Just beware that you’re not going to be rocking the latest generation of technology. Specifically, the pre-production unit I tried out had a 400×240 3.2-inch screen, which will look absolutely ancient next to your modern-day smartphone. Also, the 640×480 front-facing camera is guaranteed to make all your selfies look awful.

The actual bracelet portion of the device looks fine, though, and at least kept the Cuff mostly parallel with my arm. That said, while I would probably get used to having a computer on my wrist all day, it’s not something I’d look forward to. Did I mention it made my arm sweaty?

Grifoni predicts that wearable computers (not smartwatches) will be the norm in five to 10 years. We’ll get tired of pulling our phones out of our pockets and instead opt to have them visible at all times.

Maybe he’s right. It’s possible the future of mobile computing could be attached to our bodies. But even if he’s wrong, if he can get the Cuff into businesses and warehouses, it doesn’t really matter if the world’s population embraces tablets on their bodies in their free time because at work, some of us will get them with our nametags.

Read More at Egadget.com

MTN Business SA App of the Year Awards calls for entries (IT News Africa)

Submissions for the MTN Business SA App of the Year Awards 2016, the biggest and most prestigious app development awards, are now open.

Descriptions of the categories, entry fees, and the entry form are all available onwww.appoftheyear.co.za. The deadline for entries is Thursday 2 June, 2016.

By Staff Writer (IT News Africa)

MTN named Wumdrop as the winner of the MTN App Awards for 2015.

The App of the Year Awards is a springboard for creative developers and their original solutions. Previous winners of the awards have gone on to launch their apps internationally, been acquired by blue chip corporates, or become well-known and loved South African digital products in their own right. Previous winners and categories winners include SnapScan, Wumdrop, FNB Banking, Money4Jam, Zapper, Vula Mobile, and PriceCheck.

MTN Business SA Chief Enterprise Business Officer, Alpheus Mangale says: “We are proud to once again support the App of the Year Awards and encourage app developers to participate in this premier event. It is our strategy that through partnerships like these we are able to encourage growth for our partners.”

“At MTN Business we believe in the excellence, skill, and talent of the local digital industry, and the App of the Year Awards is one of many ways that we use to support and celebrate the pioneers and practitioners in what they strive to achieve,” says Mangale.

Award participants benefit from the rigorous judging process through receiving constructive input from industry experts that in turn helps them to refine their pitch. In addition, participants receive extensive media coverage exposure from the event, as well as a networking opportunity and potentially taking home some fantastic prizes.

Entries are now open for developers to enter their apps into one or more of the following categories and subcategories:

Best Enterprise
– Media & communications
– Ecommerce
– Business solutions & sales
– Utilities
– Navigation (and geo location apps)

Best Consumer
– Finance & banking
– Entertainment & gaming (incl. kids apps)
– Media & communications (incl. community & social)
– Lifestyle (incl. health & fitness, and personal education)Productivity (
– Productivity (incl. utilities)
– Creative apps (incl. Photo & video)
– Best Enterprise Development App: Drawn from the MTN Foundation app development programme alumni
– Best Breakthrough Developer
– Most Innovative App

Ultimately, the judges will crown the overall MTN Business App of the Year from entrants of the above categories.

Descriptions of the categories, entry fees, and the entry form are all available onwww.appoftheyear.co.za. The deadline for entries is Thursday 2 June, 2016. The MTN Business App of the Year Awards ceremony will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre on 4 August, 2016. Join the conversation by following and using #MTNAppAwards.

Read More at IT News Africa

Nigeria: Ntel unveils unlimited data offer (IT News Africa)

Nigerian mobile operator Ntel has revealed a new mobile data offer for its customers. The company revealed that the latest offer will provide Nigerian consumers with unlimited data, for a period of 3 months.

By Staff Writer (IT News Africa)

Under the terms of the Smart Phone data weekly and Smart Phone data monthly offers, subscribers who pay NGN 3,000 or NGN 10,000 for either a weekly or one-month bundle will enjoy unlimited data for three months so long as they recharge.

In addition to the data offering, the company also unveiled the opening of new outlets in Abuja. The new outlets are expected to serve as SIM redemption and purchase points for Abuja residents as the company continues to spread its coverage in the capital city. This is according to TelecomPaper.

Read More at IT News Africa

Alcatel brings cost-conscious mobile devices to Africa (IT News Africa)

Alcated has brought two new cost-conscious mobile devices to the African market, the Alcatel Pop Star and the Alcatel Go Play. According to the company, the Alcatel Pop Star will be set to sell at a recommended retail price of R2299 (USD $140 dependent on exchange rate)… While the Alcatel Go Play, which is a more rugged and solid device, will also enter the market at a recommened retail price of R3499 (USD $220 dependent on exchange rate).

By Darryl Linington

Alcatel brings cost-conscious devices to Africa. (Image Source: i.ytimg.com).

At an exclusive preview for the devices Ernst Wittmann, Regional Manager Southern Africa at Alcatel stated that: “We’re excited to bring these devices to Africa in line with our new branding as well as commitment to delivering a diverse set of mobile devices that make the Internet fun, accessible and affordable to all.”

Witmann added that: “The Go Play is intended for the outgoing adventurer while the Pop Star is aimed at the trendy and funky youth of today.”

When taking a look at the devices, we found that the Alcatel Pop Star features a 5-inch HD display with IPS technology for wide viewing angles and detailed images. The Alcatel Pop Star also features 3G+ connectivity and runs on a Quad-core processor.

To add to the specs, the device also features an 8 Mega-Pixel rear camera and a 5 Mega-Pixel front camera. What’s more, the Pop Star has a QR code on the battery cover that gives users access to the Wallpaper Store app, which offers users the ability to personalise their smartphone to match one of the two interchangeable back covers, which are available in Denim and Wood.

When taking a closer look at the more rugged Alcatel Go Play, Alcatel revealed that the device is essentially dust as well as shock resistant (up to 1.5 metres). To add to the features it is also water-resistant; however, this is limited up to 1 metre and the device can be submerged for up to 30-minutes.

As it is a water-resistant device, Alcatel has included an 8 Mega-Pixel rear camera for underwater photography and video recording. In addition to the rear-facing camera, the Alcatel Go Play features a 5 Mega-Pixel front facing camera. The Go Play device, according to the company, allows for 20 days of standby time, 8.5 hours of talk time and 40 hours music playback thanks to the powerful 2500 mAH battery.

Whilst giving an overview of the device, Wittmann added that: “With its sporty features and funky design, Acatel’s Go Play offers something special to the African market. We think it will be a hit with young and young-at-heart people with a playful side.”

According to Witmann, the devices are now available in South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria.

Read more at IT news Africa