Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Last dictator standing

In an earlier article I talked about the standard of advertisements in South Africa and how they seemed to be getting better. One of the main reasons for South Africa having good advertising is the Loerie Awards. The awards were designed to inspire advertising agencies to continuously push the limits of advertisements and create new and innovative ideas.
One of the best advertising campaigns has got to be the Nando's adverts. The fast food chain has had so many brilliant adverts over the last few years across all forms of media. Their ads have ranged from rogue blind dogs to issues of illegal immigration and more often than not they capture the political climate in the country and more recently worldly events.
In their latest advert, they have created a viral hit of epidemic proportions. "Last Dictator Standing" is the newest advert and we see look alike dictators reminiscing about the old days. Robert Mugabe and Gaddafi are seen playing with water guns in the form of AK-47's and karaoke with Chairman Mao, making sand angels with Saddam Hussein and even swinging with P.W. Botha.
Although the reaction to the ad has been brilliant, it even earned a spot on TIME's Newsfeed. The majority of people surveyed all enjoyed the ad as pure entertainment but were unsure of the actual product offering, Nando's 6 Pack meal, which includes 1 ½ flame-grilled chickens, two large portions of fries, a pile of bread and some Liqui-Fruit for R170)
You can see the Ad here.
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Sunday, 20 November 2011

Nokia N9 - Nokia is back in the game

Stack of Nokia N9 device imagesImage by Nokia RSA via Flickr
Work of Art Smartphone
The new Nokia Smartphone, the N9, is a beautiful piece of electronic wizardry coming together to
become a sure competitor to the much loved iPhone. The new N9 is really an impressive Smartphone; the interface is slick and so easy to use. After many years of falling behind in the Smartphone market Nokia have hit back.

Striking All-screen design

The phone is a perfect fit in your hand, the materials used in the manufacturing of the phone add to its appeal. Technically it is a single piece polycarbonate with a curved glass all-screen front. In reality the plastic used is made from the same material as ice-hockey helmets so that ensures the phone can take some serious damage without breaking. The glass on the front panel is the glass used on helicopters, giving you confidence the phone won't shatter or spider web on the smallest of falls like other smart phones would.

Another plus to the materials used is that the plastic does not block signal, so even with dodgy cellular service you can only blame the carriers and not your phone. The 3.9" AMOLED display makes the display great and gives the effect of everything appearing to float.

Nokia N9 SmartphoneImage by Nokia RSA via Flickr

Effortless - just a swipe away

The best part for me about the phone is the way the phone actually works. In short it just does. You just slide your finger over the screen to move onto one of 100 apps permissible on the device. For example you are watching a video clip and decide you want to send a sms, just slide your finger up and select sms, the video clip will pause and resume again when you select the video clip again. Amazing!

The next big thing is NFC, near field communication. Imagine having a funky wireless speaker and you want to play your music through it. Easily enough just touch the top of the phone with the top of the speaker, the two devices will sync and the phone is now playing through the speaker.

The phone has so many other incredible features that you expect with smart phones these days but the thing makes Nokia better than others in this field is the Nokia Maps and navigation. The camera quality is brilliant, with a Carl Zeiss 8MP auto-focus, wide angle lens, allowing for HD quality video capture with stereo audio recording.

Having played with the phone, there is so much more to this phone than one can possible write about in this format. I really suggest you go and see this device for yourself; maybe some lucky people will find it in their Christmas stocking this year...

 Either way I am glad that Nokia have eventually brought a phone to the market that competes head to head with the iPhone and will most likely trump it in every way. However Apple's marketing and the popular belief that Apple is best will make Nokia's comeback very difficult but certainly not impossible.

Visit www.nokian9.co.za for more.
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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Droning on about UAV's

Observer South African UAV in flightImage via Wikipedia
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, UAV, or more commonly known as Drones are becoming ever more present in today’s world. Mainly used in the military for all types of purposes the UAV is starting to find itself being used in more civilian uses like policing.

Using UAV's for police work is not necessarily new as some cities have trialled the use of them before. Most of the trial periods though failed either due to funding or the fact that the drone crashed! There is hope though for UAV to be used for policing and for other uses.
In the South African context with our high crime rate and porous borders the use of drones could well be part of the solution. Funding is always going to be a problem but the cost of UAV's is slowly coming down. For most part the cost of operating a drone was only slightly cheaper than crewed aircraft. As the technology improves so does the cost come down.

Denel, the South African arms manufacturers, have developed a UAV called the Seeker 400. This UAV is capable of flying for 16 hours without re-fuelling in any weather and be controlled from a computer hundreds of kilometres away. Granted this has been developed for military purpose but it could easily be adapted for civilian purposes.


We could have these UAV’s patrolling crime hotspots with camera’s and when something happens it can track the criminals until either a helicopter is chasing or ground crew are in pursuit. It would be able to monitor protests from above giving riot police information on where to be deployed.  Being able to monitor troublesome spots for up to 16 hours would be a huge tactical advantage to police.
Mótmæli vörubílstjóra 23. apríl 2008Image via Wikipedia

Other uses would be in the fight against poachers who are killing rhino’s for their horns. These drones could be placed above nature reserves and monitor both rhino and detect poachers allowing ground and air teams to move in on them.

In a recent article SARS, South Africa Revenue Service, complained that the borders of the country are vulnerable. Apparently the 4800km land border is not under surveillance and allows people to just walk across and even fly due to inadequate radar coverage. Our shoreline also suffers the same fate.  Surely a couple of well placed drones would go a long way to tighten border security.

Granted some people will probably say that their rights are being infringed by these drones circling above them and being under surveillance but in the end I would believe it would not be a big issue if used for the purposes it is intended for.

Of course the use of UAV’s could always fail like the pilot drone used in the UK. It assisted in only one arrest before it crashed. You can read the full story here. Having looked at the pictures of this drone it looked more like a toy controlled with an iPhone than a police issue UAV.

There is the opposite extreme though. Police in Texas are now putting weapons onto their drones? I personally do not think this a wise move especially if the drone crashes then the weapons will be easy pickings? Rather stick to camera’s and thermal imaging and whatever else can be crammed into these awesome flying vehicles.
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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Building towards a supersonic Electric Aeroplane

The eGenius electric aircraft recently participated in the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Green Flight Challenge. It was sponsored by Google, at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, Calif. on Monday, Sept. 26, 2011. NASA and CAFE Foundation have the goal to advance technologies in fuel efficiency and reduced emissions with cleaner renewable fuels and electric aircraft.

The Green Flight Challenge had 13 teams competing for the $1.65 million prize provided by NASA. This is the largest purse for any aviation event in history. In order to win the prize teams needed their  aircraft must fly 200 miles in less than two hours and use less than one gallon of fuel per occupant, or the equivalent in electricity.

In the end only three teams successfully completed the aircraft and flight qualification requirements. The winner was team Pipistrel-USA.com, a four seater electric aircraft called the Taurus 4, with an almost unbelievable 403.5 passenger miles per gallon efficiency over a flight distance of 200miles. Twice that of the already efficient piston powered aircraft in the same competition.

The e-Genius team won the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP) for the quietest aircraft with a peak take off noise of just 59.5 dBA (A normal conversation ranges between 80-85 dBA). This brings the potential capability of having aircraft quiet enough to land near houses and businesses without the noise aggravation. Good news for those living and working near airports.

Some other interesting facts from the Green Flight Challenge:
  • There were 20 exhibitors showing off their visions of the greener aviation future
  •  Pipistrel G-4 achieved 403.5 PMPG over its 200 mile flight
  • The eGenius achieved 375.8 PMPG
  • The winning check for $1.3 million is the equivalent to a Nobel prize winner (1 million Euros)
  • The G-4 could be charged for a two-hour flight at a cost of $7. (based on 8c for a KW)
  • Receiving their electricity from geo-thermal powered generators on nearby peaks in the Geyserville area, CAFE’s fliers flew “green”
  • A future challenge is now to create a supersonic Electric aircraft.
The Green Flight challenge 2011 has heralded a new change in aviation history. The future technology of aviation was most likely born at this event.
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