17 November 2014

Mapped In CT. Another startup ecosystem initiative...

Another Cape Town startup ecosystem project. Some would argue it's another one that does what Silicon Cape is fairly good at - talking about themselves. But hell. You have to give them credit. They're doing a better job exposing the startup industry and building a vibe around the technology sector than anyone out there.

Remember, this is off the back of the recent FNB funding injection and a steady stream of companies and events. Even the odd success story. It's all good for the startup economy, whatever you may think of the Silicon Cape approach.

Fascinating little effort from 24.com. Their description follows.

Mapped In Cape Town is a visual snapshot of the Cape Town startup ecosystem. It follows the law of density: the denser the map, the better the ecosystem. Mappedinct.com is an innovative and interactive digital map that allows tech start-ups based in Cape Town to list their businesses free-of-charge.

So let's take a look. As of 17 November 2014.

158 Companies. Impressive. And only 20-30 of them are agencies. I bet you they've only got half the list, both of agencies and of actual startups. Maybe even a third of the list. That means we're starting to get to "1000s" of people involved in the startup sector, in just one city. Very cool to see it all in one place.

Services. Oh please, Product people at 24.com, won't you put a rating and commenting (ala App Reviews) system in place? Differentiate yourself from a directory service - that would be both brave and cool.

Co-working spaces. Cool, necessary. Freelance City. Home to much coffee, networking, slightly lower than average production outputs (at least I've found - too many people distractions).

Investors. Haha! The old faithful. There are plenty more where these guys are, most just probably don't want to be pinned on a map. Again, you have to give these guys credit. Investing at this early stage in an ecosystem is hella brave. Glad to see they keep putting their hands up and keep helping out. If they had a dollar for every bad pitch they heard...

Mapped In Cape Town. It's a MVP, for sure. But anything that gives people the confidence to go out and start something (simply because they can see others are too) is good in my books. I hope they don't go down the directory route and find a way to make the data a bit more meta, a bit more useful - so this becomes a destination site, not a once off.

Well done lads and lasses. Good version 1.

Disclaimer 1: I'm ex Cape Town. I'll go back one day. Any mild bitchiness is because I'm mildly jealous. And I wish Joburg would pull up their socks and do stuff like this. But I guess we're too busy making money. Ha! Boom. Joking. Really.

Disclaimer 2: This is a paid for post. Views are my own though. 

06 November 2014

MindBullets: Open Data Brings Freedom But Transparency Breeds Fear (1 November 2020)

I haven't published one of FutureWorld's great MindBullets in a while. I tend to only publish the ones where I'm thinking about the trends they're talking about - or they're just too good not to share. Here's a doozy.

We live in amazing times, times where technology is often changing quicker than we are - which means that as we mature alongside a platform or trend, the way we use it tends to change, the way we interpret it tends to change and our long term issues sometimes arise many years after we've become accustomed to the efficiency that technology brings.

I'll never forget a line from a Corey Doctorow talk which speaks about privacy and data. He (paraphrasing) says that the problem with the privacy actions or non-actions we're taking today, is that the consequences of such actions are so far removed from the action itself, that it becomes really hard for us to identify where we're creating future problems. You share all your drunken photos with Facebook as a kid. That only (might) hurt you 10 years later when you're on a job hunt.

There's this tussle between open data on one end and personal data privacy on the other. Who's drawing the line? Can we have both at the same time or are we doomed to swing to one end of the spectrum and just accept the consequences?



Privacy out the window as Big Data goes naked

Dateline: 1 November 2020

There has been a big push from private enterprise as well as government in the last decade to unshackle data in all its forms and make it easily accessible. Society has been persuaded that it's in our best interests if open data is the norm rather than the exception, because it's good for growth, oversight and preventing corruption and exploitation.

But there's a dark side to naked data. Some things just need privacy to develop and grow. Investors have always felt it necessary to keep things confidential when projects are at an early stage. People want to have secrets. It's just human nature.

When the printing press was invented, the aristocracy and intelligentsia of the time opposed mass publication, fearing it would erode their power. But innovation has been driven for hundreds of years by the sharing of ideas and the publishing of discoveries.

Open data evangelists are promising freedom. Freedom from elitists, freedom from domination and discrimination, freedom of choice. Transparency rules, they say. Transparency leads to the democratization of information, and puts power into the hands of ordinary individuals.

What's needed for naked data to succeed is privacy of personal data, and trusted verification of social and market data; a double-whammy that prevents fraud and identity theft and also creates granular data for market efficiencies. Can our Big Data custodians provide it?

Fear lurks in the back of everyone's mind. What if the data exposes me? I might lose the leverage I've worked so hard to acquire. Can I be protected, as well as being free?

(for the original story, links and supporting documentation, visit FutureWorld MindBullets)

04 November 2014

ZA Tech Show Episode 317 - Shopzilla Attacks!

Brett Haggard and Andy Hadfield get together (just the two of them) to talk about some big e-commerce deals, some startup investment, some new gadgets and some leaky cloud services. Topics under discussion (more specifically) comprise:

  • The Kalahari Takealot merger;
  • The Silicon Cape R3m funding from FNB;
  • Vodacom’s Smart Tab 3G;
  • iPhone 6/6 Plus coming on the 24th October;
  • The Plex app for Xbox One; and
  • Leaked Dropbox Passwords and Snowden’s take on not using the service.

Our technology picks of week are:
  • Andy picks Dan Brown’s Inferno; Momentum for Chrome; and
  • Brett picks knowroaming.com

Available on iTunes or listen on Seed.TV

18 September 2014

Extreme Whisky. Steve Adams from Wild About Whisky in Dullstroom.

I love Wild About Whisky in Dullstroom. Have lost plenty of half days challenging Eve, Steve or Dave to take me on weird and wonderful whisky tours. From what I understand, they also have the second largest collection of whisky (and whiskey?) in the world. Very much worth a stop if you're ever in the area.

They're getting involved with the upcoming FNB Whisky Live festival and Steve did an interview with the festival journos.

Thought I'd share it with you. Because whisky.

What follows is like a "to do" list for Whisky fans. Challenge accepted :)

--- snip ---

There’s nothing vanilla about whisky…

There may be a brand of whisky to suit the tastes of every palate, but when it comes to the golden dram, spirits run high, and competition is great to produce the finest, the rarest, the most intriguing expression of this globally popular drink.

What happens when this fierce passion for the category is taken to the extreme? The FNB Whisky Live Festival spoke to Steve Adams, one of the founders of Wild About Whisky in Dullstroom, to learn more about ‘Extreme Whisky’ in South Africa and abroad. He answered some of our curious questions about the spirits that add colour and character to the industry – as if any more was needed!

What is the oldest whisky available on the market?

The Glenlivet 70 year old and Mortlach 70 year old are the oldest commercially available whiskies I know of. If you can find them, you would have to pay around R300 000 per bottle – and then you’d have to ask yourself if you could bring yourself to drink it. Furthermore, these are bottled at 45.9% alc/vol and 46.1% alc/vol respectively, which would pose the question: After 70 years in oak casks and giving up around 2% per year to the Angels, how is it possible that they have maintained such a high alcohol content?

What is the rarest whisky around?

From time to time, someone finds a whisky that’s been lying in a cask, forgotten in a dark corner of an abandoned warehouse somewhere in Scotland, and they’re bottled and released as rare limited editions… if the marketing speak is to be believed.

However, the rarest known whisky is probably the Mackinlay’s that lies beneath Sir Ernest Shackleton’s hut in the Antarctic. Whyte and Mackay’s Richard Patterson is credited with recreating the whisky after having drawn a sample from that bottle and then returning it to its home under the ice.

What is the weirdest whisky you know of?

The weirdest flavours come from casks that lend unusual aromas and flavours to the whisky. The strangest flavour I’ve encountered is bubble gum, with one Chinese whisky I’ve encountered tasting a lot like jelly beans dissolved in jet fuel…

Which blend contains the most individual whiskies?

The Chivas Regal Century of Malts contains single malts from 100 distilleries.

Which is the most expensive whisky you’ve come across?

That has to be The Macallan 1946, in a fine Lalique Crystal decanter that sold for US$460,000. The most expensive commercial available whisky in South Africa would be the Glenfiddich 50 year old, which recently sold for R300,000.

What is the strangest thing you have heard of mixed with whisky in a cocktail?

There’s a place in Seattle that offers a peanut butter bourbon milkshake – that pretty much takes it for me!

What is the most surprising whisky you have ever come across?

Although I’ve had whisky from all over the world, the most surprising one was a whisky distilled by two gentlemen from Nelspruit! They came up with an excellent single malt matured for only three years in a brandy cask. They only produced a few bottles, and have no plans to do it again, sadly.

Which is the peatiest single malt that you know of?

That has to be Bruichladdich’s Octomore. There have been several batches to date, peated to as much as 167ppm (parts per million phenols – a measure of the amount of smoke particles) compared with around 50ppm for Laphroaig 10 year old, for example. They’re young malts, a tad over three years, which makes them especially smoky as over time spent in a cask the wood tends to mask and extract the phenols.

What is the most unusual use for whisky (apart from drinking it) that you have heard of?

Driving a racing car on Islay must rank right up there! James May of Top Gear once fuelled a car with Bruichladdich’s quadruple distilled “X4” and drove it around Islay! At around fifty times the price of petrol I’m not sure it was a cheap way to get to see the island...

What is the biggest bottle of whisky you have ever seen? And the smallest?

The biggest bottle I’ve ever seen has to be the 105 litre, 1.44m high bottle of Tomintoul 14 year old that holds the Guinness World Record. It now takes pride of place in the Whisky Castle, a whisky shop in the village of Tomintoul. The smallest bottles are available in most whisky and gift-shops in Scotland, normally sold in packs of three. Each one contains a little under 1.5ml, and has a perfectly recreated label and a sealed cap.

What is the most unusual shape whisky bottle you’ve ever seen?

That has to be Wild Reeds – a South African product, in a bottle the shape of Africa. They have a South African grain whisky, as well as an imported Scotch whisky.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received about whisky?

Invest in whisky. If the market ever collapses, at least you can drink it and enjoy it!

17 September 2014

ZA Tech Show Episode 314 - Back in Service

After a series of failed recordings, a one-week holiday that entailed a 7-day 700km cycle trip from Johannesburg to Kosi Bay and a Skype call gone bad, Brett Haggard finally gets it together and puts out a new episode. He’s joined by Andy Hadfield and Adam Oxford for a bumper show, all about:
  • The African (and Kenya-specific) startup/tech scene;
  • Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge and Gear S;
  • Sony’s Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, Smart Watch 3 and SmartBand;
  • Apple’s iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Watch;
  • Apple Pay and what some of the local players think;
  • Mojang getting bought by Microsoft (and Notch’s departure);
  • The Android One programme and why we think it’s cool; and
  • Intel’s Edison and Galileo.

Our technology picks of the week are: