WEAVER: Online Dating for Young Professionals

Weaver - a new social community for young professionals looking to meet new people, was recently launched in South Africa.

The Weaver founders are 26yr olds Andrew Lynch and Kiril Dobrev - the young entrepreneurs behind Cable Kiosk. The duo have now embarked on a new venture, Weaver, aimed to transform the way people meet online.

The emphasis of Weaver is to get busy professionals away from their computers and into a fun, social environment where they can meet like-minded people.

Weaver on Facebook

Weaver Online Dating

The Weaver website is now live in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. Services in Durban and Pretoria are expected to be launched soon.

“We spent so much time working that we didn’t have time to go out and join social or sports clubs. The only other alternative was to join an online dating site, but we found the idea very creepy.” - Andrew Lynch

The pair had a candid discussion about what were the most relaxing ways to meet new people and the environments that facilitated it.

“While online dating is essentially a collection of personal ads, we wanted a service that took all the hassle out of meeting girls. I joked that meeting girls should be as easy as pressing a button and it is from that phrase that Weaver was born.” - Kiril Dobrev

Weaver offers a group dating scenario whereby two groups of friends - three guys and three girls (or three guys and three guys etc.) are set up with drinks in a relaxed environment.

How Weaver Works:

The Weaver algorithm works by matching up two groups using information from their Facebook profiles and other lifestyle and preference information provided by the user. Matches are made by a combination of computer algorithms and human curation. The user is then emailed the time and location of the meet-up - called a Weaver.

All members are required to do is pick two wing-men or wing-women and show up! The cost of a Weaver is R79 per head, which covers the matching service and the first round of drinks. There is no registration fee to join Weaver, meaning you only pay for the 'dates' you get.

Lynch said: “Weaver takes care of everything from vetting applicants, matching you with the right person, to making a reservation at a cool, nearby location and paying for the first round of drinks. We literally enable you to meet cool people at the push of a button.”

Dobrev added: “What surprised us is that more girls than guys have signed up for the service. I believe girls are especially conscious about their environment and the ability to bring along two friends puts them at ease, and hey, if they don’t like the people they have met, they have still had a great time sharing a drink with two friends.”

My Weaver application was just accepted so I'll let y'all know how it goes!

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How is My Drive.co.za strives to improve road safety and provides valuable feedback to drivers and road users

Every year approximately 14 000 people lose their lives in road traffic related accidents and thousands more are injured. How is My Drive (www.howismydrive.co.za) has unveiled a new concept in South Africa which strives to improve these statistics.

This new website provides road users with an easy-to-use online platform through which road incidents (such as bad driving) can be reported, stored and searched. This results in removing the anonymous nature of driving and provides valuable feedback to the public.

How is My Drive Website

How is My Drive Website

“The idea behind the website was developed after witnessing multiple incidents involving reckless driving and a disregard for the rules of the road, which is increasingly becoming the norm in South Africa,” says Igor Rodionov, the creator of the website. “After countless brain storming sessions it became clear that social responsibility and internet technology can be combined effectively to make a positive difference.”

Road users who are interested in improving road safety can create an account on the website and immediately become road spotters. This allows road users the ability to easily post road incident reports on any vehicle. Once the report is submitted, it gets verified and becomes available via the search feature.

The Idea Behind How is My Drive

The idea is that by allowing road spotters to submit various reports using their computer or mobile phone, the anonymous nature behind driving is removed and the public can receive valuable feedback regarding their driving style. Using this information, bad drivers can improve their driving behaviour and become more reluctant to break road rules. In return, road spotters can register their vehicle registration and receive email notifications when reports become available on their vehicle.

Using How is My Drive to Monitor Drivers

Additionally, the website provides businesses with a commercial solution which allows them to monitor their drivers by placing a “How is My Drive.co.za” decal at the back of their vehicles. Their system has multiple benefits to businesses, including reductions in accident rates and costs. Since the system does not use expensive call centres, How is My Drive is able to offer businesses a cost-effective solution.

How is My Drive is a website which is committed to making a positive change in road behaviour and a good South African initiative. To obtain more information, visit www.howismydrive.co.za

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Big Bang Meets Big Data: SA Joins ASTRON and IBM to Build the Foundation for a New Era of Computing (i.e. DOME)

IBM has entered into a four year collaboration with ASTRON to research extremely fast, but low-power exascale computer systems (collectively known as DOME) targeted for the Square Kilometer Array (SKA). The goal of the 10 countries involved is to decipher radio waves from deep space to solve the riddles of the universe and the nature of matter.

Introducing DOME

On March 7, 2012 the Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA) announced it anticipates working with IBM with the goal of developing a next generation big data analytics platform (titled DOME) with self-tuning and self-learning capabilities to better analyze large volumes of radio astronomy data. SKA SA is building MeerKAT, the largest and most sensitive radio telescope of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

An artist's impression of the MeerKAT array (image IBM Research) DOMEMeerKAT is one of several new radio telescopes being built as precursors to the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), an international project that should reach its full capacity in the early part of the next decade.

On April 2, 2012 ASTRON, The Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, and IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced a five-year collaboration to research extremely fast, but low-power exascale computer systems targeted for the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The collaboration is called DOME, named for the protective cover on telescopes and the famous Swiss mountain.

As part of the global effort to solve this unprecedented challenge ASTRON and IBM launched a public private partnership called DOME, to develop a fundamental IT roadmap for the SKA. The collaboration includes a user platform where organizations from around the world can jointly investigate emerging technologies in green computing, nanophotonics and data streaming. Through its SKA South Africa unit, the National Research Foundation is now a user platform partner in DOME.

Scientists from SKA SA will focus on the following research themes:

  • Visualising the challenge: fundamental research will be conducted into signal processing and advanced computing algorithms for the capture, processing and analysis of the SKA data so clear images can be produced for astronomers to study.
  • Desert-proof technology: the DOME team is researching and prototyping microserver architectures based on liquid-cooled 3D stacked chips. The team in South Africa will extend this research to make the microsevers rugged or “desert proof” to handle the extreme environmental conditions where the SKA will be located.
  • Software analytics: the 64 dishes of the MeerKAT telescope in South Africa will be used for the testing and development of a sophisticated software program that will aid in the design of the entire computing system holistically and optimally—taking into account all of the cost and performance trade-offs for the eventual 3 000 SKA dishes.

I will be following the progress of DOME over the next few months and have access to information regarding any new discoveries made by the system. If you would like to keep updated yourself, consider subscribing to Email Updates or the RSS feed up top.

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BANKING: Terribly poor service from First National Bank

“FNB – how can we help you?” That timeless slogan that gets injected into our subconscious via FNB's expensive advertising campaigns time and time again. Well here's how FNB helped me get a new cheque card.

In a nutshell:

Wallet stolen, credit cards cancelled. New cheque card ordered via phone (24/03/2012). Told that card would be delivered to wrong province (KZN). “But I don't live there”, said I. “Sorry, I can't help you”, said FNB. Told it would take 2-3 working days nonetheless. (I recently moved to Cape Town and have been unable to update my address details without physically going into the bank).

First visit to bank (FNB in Cape Town)

Enter bank, wait in queue. Explain my predicament and get issued with a temporary FNB debit card. Pay R60. Told that I need to provide proof of residence and that any recent account with my address on it will do. Suggest that the card at least gets delivered to the right branch so I can pick it up with my proof of residence in 2-3 working days. FNB bank teller agrees and says to expect a call soon.

Second visit to First National

A week passes. No call from FNB. Physically enter bank for the second time – armed with a Telkom account as proof of residence. “Sorry, we can't help you,” says bank teller, “we need an original copy of your docy.” “But I get all my accounts send to me electronically to 'save paper' ”, said I. “And look! That's me in my ID book!” No no they can't trust my word, it needs to be certified.

Head to post office as instructed by the bank and wait in queue. Told that they are unable to certify the copy of my docy; I need to take it to the police station. Head to police station and wait in a glacial queue for over an hour. Leave feeling defeated.

FNB Courier Service

A week passes. I call to inquire as to where my card might be. I am told that the card is now in Johannesburg. “But that is not where I live”, said I. “Sorry, we can't help you, we need authority from your bank to deliver the card,” says FNB Courier Service.

Back to police station. Join the stagnant queue for another hour or so. Docy certified and I write an affidavit as back-up:

“I, Galen Schultz, hereby certify that I live where I say I do and that the above address is my current place of residence. May I please now have my bank card?”

Policeman stamps and signs affidavit without even reading it. I could have written anything, really, but find the following question more strange: why won't the bank believe I live where I say I do but the police station will?

Card ordered without customer authority

Call from FNB card couriers. “Good day, your new FNB bank card is ready for pick up in Johannesburg!” First card had apparently been cancelled and a new one ordered. “But that is not where I live”, said I. “Please send it to Cape Town”. “Sorry, there is nothing we can do", says courier, "ask FNB.”

Third visit to FNB

Back to FNB. Wait in queue. I proudly present my proof that I am not a liar and kindly ask for my bank card. FNB teller attempts to contact couriers with no luck, cancels that order, and orders a new cheque card on my behalf for the third time. I pay a R100 to have it delivered directly to my proven address. “It'll take 2-3 working days, so you will have it by the end of the week at the latest”, reassures Shenaaz the FNB teller. “Give me a call if you don't hear from our couriers.”

Get a call from the FNB couriers the following week. Told that my new bank card is in Durban...

Week 6 and still waiting...

The week expires as does my temporary, paid-for debit card. Have been unable to use debit card to buy electricity, tickets, or pay for anything online, but why does this FNB debit card have to expire anyway? I have paid for it and would like to keep it as a back-up please, FNB.

Can't get hold of Shinaaz. I called 2 hours ago and got told that she would phone me back. Tomorrow I will be officially card-less. It has been 37 days to date...

Update 30/04/2012:

Walked back to FNB in the rain and confronted Shenaaz directly for nearly an hour. I'm told that I will now be receiving two cheque cards - one today and one on Wednesday. Waited in line to lay a formal complaint but needed to head home to wait for the couriers to drop off my card.

Update @ 16h13: I have just received my bank card (1 of 2)

Update 2 @ 16h33: Shenaaz gave me a call to ensure that I had received my card. How sweet.

Update 3 @ 17h00: Have reported the bad service to Hello Peter

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GBCSA: Creating a sustainable future brick by brick

THE Green Building Council of South Africa is an independent, non-profit organisation which aims to ensure that all commercial buildings are built and operated in an environmentally sustainable way. The goal is to ensure that all South Africans can work and live in healthy, efficient and productive environments.

The GBCSA was formed in 2007 and is a full member of the World Green Building Council. The official certification of green buildings in South Africa falls under the Green Star SA Rating System. The GBCSA released a really great explainer video at the end of 2011, which explains everything in animated detail:

The Green Building Council of South Africa

A “green building” is classified as a building which is energy efficient, resource efficient and environmentally responsible.

"It incorporates design, construction and operational practices that significantly reduce or eliminate the negative impact of development on the environment and occupants. Building green is an opportunity to use resources efficiently and address climate change while creating healthier and more productive environments for people to live and work in" - www.gbcsa.org.za

In practice, this encompasses the use of design, materials and technology to reduce energy and resource consumption with the aim of creating improved human and natural environments. Specefic green building measures include: (taken from www.gbcsa.org.za)

  • The use of renewable energy sources;
  • Water-efficient plumbing fittings and water harvesting;
  • The use of energy-efficient air-conditioning and lighting;
  • The use of environmentally friendly, non-toxic materials;
  • The reduction of waste, and the use of recycled materials;
  • Sensitivity with regard to the impact of the development on the environment; and,
  • Careful building design to reduce heat loads, maximise natural light and promote the circulation of fresh air.

To achieve certification, building owners submit documentation to the Green Building Council of South Africa. Submissions are assessed and a score is given. Certification is awarded for 4-Star, 5-Star or 6-Star Green Star SA ratings. The South African rating tool is based on the Australian Green Star system.

"The rating system sets out a "menu" of all the green measures that can be incorporated into a building to make it green. Points are awarded to a building according to which measures have been incorporated, and, after appropriate weighting, a total score is arrived at, which determines the rating" - www.gbcsa.org.za

A great example of a 6-Star Green Star SA accredited building in South Africa is the Vodafone Site Solution Innovation Centre (SSIC). It is said to be the greenest building in the southern hemisphere.

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