COOL WEBSITES: SA Tech Review looks to be a new trend-setter!

I’ve just started following @SATechReview on Twitter and have been thoroughly impressed with their technology news coverage. Did you know that Vodacom is likely to buy out Neotel? And that Canonical is bringing Ubuntu to smartphones and tablets? There are certainly a multitude of technology news websites to follow on the World Wide Web, but SA Tech Review really seems to be on the ball.

The SA Tech Review website offers some great content and resources for bloggers, tech-savvy IT professionals and online entrepreneurs. If you own a website, SA Tech Review offers to teach you how to promote it for free. If you’re an avid and popular twitterer, learn how to make some good money from your tweeting.

For business people and trend-spotters, SA Tech Review offers some great coverage of both local and global IT business analysis. There is a steady stream of news coverage and analysis on trends, as well as opportunities for IT professionals in various roles to get involved. SA Tech Review seems like a great destination for professionals seeking to research technology-related issues and solve business technology problems.

The SA Tech Review Website (image: www.satechreview.com)

The SA Tech Review Website (image: www.satechreview.com)

There is a great selection of mobile coverage on offer too. Blackberry, Samsung, Sony, Windows and Apple devices are all catered for, and there are some great resources available for smartphone users, such as a selection of the best SA apps for android. For those who like to engage in some serious debate, there are some more controversial articles too, such as “The Eminent End of Apple”...

South Africa is quickly catching up with the top players in the technology realm, and it’s great to see websites such as this moving forward with such gusto! I’m going to be keeping a watchful eye on SA Tech Review and I’m eagerly waiting to see what they cover next with keen interest. They seem to be steadily growing in popularity too – with close to 3 500 likes on Facebook and over 10 000 followers on Twitter.

With the fast-pace that technology is moving forward, it can become really difficult to keep up. I had honestly felt quite out of the loop over the past few months, but after spending just an hour with SA Tech Review, I’m starting to feel back on track! Bigs-ups to the peeps who run SA Tech Review; you are doing a sterling job. Keep it up and I thoroughly look forward to seeing what you put out next!

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MYSCOOP: South Africa’s new blog aggregator with promise

WHEN the blog was born it was met with mild curiosity in the online world. Suddenly every web user had the means to voice their opinion and views and, in effect, have their very own website. Needless to say, the idea caught on, and there are now thousands of bloggers fighting for popularity and page rank on an ever growing blogosphere.

What was needed in the blogosphere was an effective method of categorising the huge influx of blogs and creating order out of chaos. The result was the development of blog aggregators — websites that could track certain blogs and make them more accessible to readers.

These have become the height of entrepreneurial endeavour online, as well as some of the most popular stops for web browsers and bloggers alike. In South Africa we had the emergence of Amatomu — a South African blog aggregator started by the keen minds of the Mail & Guardian online. Amatomu fell in and out of use before officially becoming null and void toward the end of last year. The creators stated that the site had become too much to handle and are currently trying to sell the website.

The blogosphere then saw the birth of Afrigator — a uniquely African aggregator founded by a man named Justin Hartman. Afrigator has shown great promise and has spawned several digital offspring, such as Gatorpeeps and Adgator — a micro-blogging service and a South African advertising service respectively. Afrigator has proved to be extremely popular in the blogosphere — winning a bronze award in the Publishing Integrated Campaign category at the second annual Bookmarks awards ceremony in November last year.

But with the untimely death of Amatomu there was a large, online shoe to be filled in the blogosphere by a new, uniquely South African blog aggregator. Thus came about the emergence of my­Scoop — the latest blog aggregator to take to the rough waters that is the blogosphere.

myScoop logo

What is myScoop?

myScoop is the latest addition to the SA blog aggregator family and also operates as a social bookmarking tool. Created by South African web entrepreneur, Nicholas Duncan, myScoop is showing great promise within the blogosphere.

“I use a lot of social bookmarking sites and noticed that South Africa is lacking in this department,” says Nick Duncan. “It was never meant to be a blog aggregation tool at all, but, when I noticed the downfall of Amatomu, I decided to give it a bash and out popped [myscoop.co.za]”

myScoop is also a great example of how the multitude of social networking websites available today are starting to integrate and merge. myScoop specifically makes use of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, OpenID and Blogger accounts — all of which can be used to join or sign into the site.

Nick Duncan is constantly improving myScoop and recently created a badge and ranking system. The site now has the ability to keep track of blog hits in real-time, as well as provide information as to what specific pages users are accessing on your blog at any given moment.

The ranking system keeps track of what blogs are the most popular and which posts receive the most traffic within a day or a month. There is also a dedicated stats section that shows users how many hits their sites had on different dates.

“Right now we offer “live stats” (which is still a bit buggy, but all problems will be ironed out in due time). Once sponsorship is found for hosting, I will be able to develop greater tools for myScoop,” explains Duncan.

myScoop features:

  • Blog profile: Each blog entered has a profile displaying its latest posts.
  • Blog aggregator: myScoop has a blog aggregator that allows you to create a profile and add your blog.
  • Topic stats: There is a very easy-to-understand stats page for each article that shows users the daily clicks for the topic.
  • Community: The overall vibe of myScoop is informative and friendly, which is what all social media platforms strive for.
  • MyPage: Each member on myScoop gets a myPage area where they can follow others blogs and keep up-to-date with what is happening in their areas of interest.
  • Social bookmarking: It has a very easy-to-use social bookmarking platform that categorises and rank submissions according to the number of unique clicks each topic gets.

Unique features and future developments?

The development and functionality of blog aggregators rely heavily on user feedback, which is something that myScoop both encourages and is doing a great job of — by implementing ideas and suggestions offered by its users.

“I would like to make myScoop more community-driven … user input is absolutely vital in any website and I would like to let the actual users steer the ship as to where they want myScoop to go,” says Duncan.

In terms of future developments, Nick Duncan is constantly creating and implementing new features and aims to create a unique user experience: “The ultimate goal is to create something “unique” in a sense; it’s no good having two or three of the same websites floating around … I’d also like to create a platform where users are able to develop their own programs by pulling information off the server. [However] this can only be possible once stable hosting is found,” explains Duncan.

myScoop challenges

A major challenge concerning South African blog aggregators is becoming overwhelmed with online traffic and maintaining connectivity speeds. This is largely what led to Amatomu’s early retirement. Tied in with these issues is local bandwidth — specifically the costs of bandwidth and the lack of it in SA.

“There are a number of factors that hamper the snow-balling effect we all would like to see when it comes to our new startups, such as advertising, hosting and bandwidth costs, says Duncan. These all can limit potential growth, but I feel that, as a young web entrepreneur, staying positive and keeping the momentum, while keeping your ear to the ground and listening to your users, can ultimately lead to your success.”

I personally foresee great things ahead for myScoop (and the blogosphere in general) and would encourage all South African bloggers join in on the debate and follow its development. myScoop is also a great example of a good South African online service and Nicholas Duncan is one of the most reliable and decisive web entrepreneurs I have come across on the Internet.

About Nick Duncan:

I started playing with PHP about three years ago, but have been into HTML since I was about 12 years of age. I am engaged to a beautiful woman and recently experienced the birth of my boy, Logan. (This of course hampers development time, but is absolutely worth it)! I have two good-as-gold step kids aged five and eight that keep me on my toes. I welcome all feedback regarding the myScoop project, which can be directed at nick@myscoop.co.za. You can also follow @Nicholas_Duncan on Twitter.

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blogrollWell I’ll tell you what’s in mine ...

IT'S that time of year once again to do my bit to promote some of the other great blogs out there. These are essentially the ones in my blogroll, which you should be familiar with by now, but for any new-comers (welcome) these are what you may be missing out on:

Gottaquirk operates in the realm if eMarketing and is an online child of Quirk – Africa’s largest eMarketing agency. Published upon their great wooden desk design are posts relating to everything from online reputation management and SEM to web development.

• Justin Hartman is one of SA’s great and fearless online leaders. He is the MD and co-founder of Afrigator - Africa's largest social media aggregator, which spawned several Gator offspring, such as Adgator and Gatorpeeps. Justin has a knack at explaining complex online strategies to entrepreneurial and eager young minds in easily-absorbable ways. He often shares his well-illustrated presentations on his blog.

I’m confident that 2oceansvibe needs no introduction. Winner of the 2009 SA Blog Awards, 20ceansvive has reached the top of the charts on SA’s blog aggregators, and deservedly so too. It’s updated several times a day with sexy photos, videos and really entertaining pieces. It’s creator is local celeb and all-round nice guy Seth Rotherham, who lives by his motto, “Work is a sideline, live the holiday”. You may want to increase your cap before visiting Seth’s site as you’re likely to spend a few hours perusing his content.

• SA Rocks. There’s no doubt about that. How great to create a blog about all the positively South African people, places and events that make South Africa rock. Nic Haralambos has done just that by punting positive action on his blog SA Rocks, which will always leave you feeling proud to be associated with SA.

• Shaun Oakes is quite a character. One can never be sure where he is or what he’s going to blog about next, but with his cheeky and sarcastic sense of humour, he can make anything sound entertaining. He is an inspiring novelist who has conjured up convincing characters such as The Girlfriend and Some Other Guy. A little grotesk at times, shaunoakes.com is not recommended for sensitive viewers or alien life-forms.

Cape Town is home to the most popular bloggers in SA and Cape Town happenings is often what’s hot in the blogosphere. Cape Town Alive brings you all the events going on in the mother city in a witty, entertaining way. It is also the domain of one of my favouritly-humoured blog writers Kyle Stroebel (a.k.a. stroob).

The Art of Manliness offers something completely different on the blogosphere - a blog dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man. It may sound a little silly at first, but the husband and wife team behind this tasteful creation have done a fantastic job. They delve deep into the history of manliness and research the lives of great men to offer articles on helping men be better husbands, better fathers, and better men.

The Art of non-conformity is my best find on the blogosphere to date. Its founder is Chris Guillebeau – role-model to the world. Chris has travelled the globe, done volunteer work, published books and is on a mission to help people live unconventional lives, make their own choices, and change the world. Chris’ selfless, bi-weekly blog chronicles his writing on how to change the world by achieving significant, personal goals in the field of work, life and travel all while helping others at the same time.

If you’re a whizz in the kitchen and are keen on learning some new recipes, you need look no further than Cookbook.co.za. It is by far the best cooking blog I’ve come across that is extensive, user-friendly and 100% free. It has recipes for baked goods, chicken treats, Chinese cuisine, yummy desserts, drinks hot & cold, fish, meat dishes, pasta, salads, sauces and soups.

Web AddiCT(s) offers a daily dose of tech – more specifically posts on web and cellphone applications. Quite technical by nature, don’t feel bad if a lot of the content offered here goes over your head - you're bound to find something to pique your interest. The site recently underwent a re-design and is looking pretty sweet.

  • The above are some of the top blogs (and bloggers) in the South African blogosphere according to our great aggregators. All are listed in my blogroll to your right.

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DIGITAL BLASPHEMY WALLPAPERS: Because everyone loves a cool desktop background

Digital Blasphemy is by far one of the best places on the web to find incredible PC wallpapers. Ryan Bliss has made a career of creating digital desktop backgrounds that are simply amazing. He is also quite the generous type and offers a few of his digital artworks for free. I have collected several Digital Blasphemy wallpapers over the years and wanted to share my top 10 with anyone who appreciates such talent. You can read more about Digital Blasphemy here.

Free Digital Blasphemy wallpapers

Ice Man

Free Digital Blasphemy wallpapers

Sunset Forest

Free Desktop Wallpapers

Swamped

Free Desktop Wallpapers

Neon Anenomy

Free Desktop Wallpapers

Cloud Canyon

Free Desktop Wallpapers

Solitude

Free Desktop Wallpapers

Desert Snow

Free Desktop Wallpapers

November Snow

Free Digital Blasphemy wallpapers

Paradise Island

Free Digital Blasphemy wallpapers

Antartica

That's www.digitalblasphemy.com - the place with some of the best wallpapers on the web!

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PhotoFunia: How to create cool facebook profile pics or invitations

THERE are some great digital photography websites out there that allow you to do some wondrous things with your own (possibly dull) collection of pics. Such sites also make you look really smart when your family and friends don’t know about them and ask, “how in the name of Luke Skywalker did you make your facebook profile pic like that!?”

Well I’m here to reveal my favourite digital photography website to those of who aren’t familiar with it. It’s one hundred percent free - everyone's favourite kind, and goes by the domain name of www.photofunia.com. Check it out and follow a few simple steps to creating artworks such as these.

photoFunia - putting the Funia back in photo editing

Full the streets with your face (for the narcissistic type)

Full the streets with your face (for the narcissistic type)

That's right. Blogger by day and wizard later on in the day

That's right. Blogger by day and wizard later on in the day

Offer your two-cents or show your worth on a SA coin

Offer your two-cents or show your worth on a SA coin

Become president to a group of old, grumpy-looking white men

Become president to a group of old, grumpy-looking white men

The Notorious G.D.O.G

The Notorious G.D.O.G

Coffee lover

Galen is best served hot & steamy

Make Posh Spice (and other female celebs) your biggest fan

Make Posh Spice (and other celebs) your biggest fan

Ever wanted to be on TV in the 80s with crappy reception?

Ever wanted to be on TV in the 80s with crappy reception?

I call this one "White Trash"

I call this one "White Trash"

Make yourself go down in the history books

Make yourself go down in the history books

That's www.photofunia.com - a favourite photography website for many!

Related posts: • Yearbook Yourself 2009Photo Fun

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