Saturday 24 October 2009

SA's own Silicon Valley

 MaTiCa    24 Oct : 21:41
 None    Misc

By Ian MacDonald from thebrilliant

By Ian MacDonald from thebrilliant

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, 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    06 Oct : 21:23
 None    Misc

Going to rAge is a pilgrimage for any South African gamer.

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.


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Saturday 19 September 2009

Online: Voice chats for Facebook fans

 MaTiCa    19 Sep : 12:23
 None    Misc

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 ().

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 ().

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 ( that the company is now “cash flow positive???.

Skype, watch out. - By TEGAN BEDSER

SOURCE: Dispatch Online
[Submitted by MaTiCa]

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