South africa’s contribution to science and technology

Consider this, until the early 90s, most mobile phones were not mobile at all, they were too big for the pocket. Movies were unavailable on DVD until 1997. Google didn’t arrive until 1998 just to mention a few. Diseases like smallpox, polio, measles(the list goes on) previously did not have a cure, but they have now. The advancement of science and technology has been key in providing a better world for us and South Africa has been part of these great achievements too. Still is.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) announced the development of the world’s first digital laser. The experimental work in the laser project was done by doctoral candidate and CSIR researcher Sandile Nqcobo. This ground breaking development is further evidence of the great potential we have in scientific innovation. That the world’s first digital laser should come from our country is testimony to the calibre of scientists that South Africa has, said former minister of science and technology, Derek Hanekom. The South African company Lodox Systems produced the only system in the world that provides an excellent quality x-ray image up to 1.83m in length in just 13 seconds. Lodox is also safer, emitting up to 10 times less harmful dose than regular X-ray systems.

South African engineer Henri Johnson is credited with the invention of the speed gun and other technologies used to measure the speed and direction of sports balls. The South African-made speed gun was formally released at The Oval during the 1999 cricket World Cup.  The Computed Axial Tomography Scan, or CAT, was developed by Cape Town physicist Allan Cormack and his associate Godfrey Hounsfield. Cormack provided the mathematical technique for the CAT scan, in which an X-ray source and electronic detectors are rotated around the subject and the resulting data is analysed by a computer to produce sharp maps of tissues within a cross-section of the body. Cormack won the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (with Hounsfield) for his work on X-ray computed topography.

These are but a few from the long list of science and technological advancements South Africa has been a part of over the years and it will be interesting to see what next comes out from this country or who knows maybe the cure for the very stubborn HIV and AIDS will come from these borders.

E-learning digital make-over

Tablets, computers and mobile phones are gradually replacing old-fashioned, dusty textbooks in schools. These digital technologies help offer the potential to tackle chronic education challenges like overcrowded classrooms, teacher shortages and children without an education.As Africa becomes ever connected, educators and publishers are finding new ways of reaching young audiences and develop their burgeoning minds. One such company is Via Afrika Publishers. A publisher of textbooks for over 65 years, they began to investigate the move to digital content several years ago. Its early adoption seems to be reaping dividends. Via Afrika Publishers decided to three years ago after looking what was taking place in the world that e-learning was an important direction to go in. To design a set of e-learning books that matched their published books and indeed matched the books they submitted to the education department.

This led to 1000 e-book sales in 2013 and 64000 sales in 2014 so far. But as the South African government has invested heavily in printed materials, a widespread shift towards e-learning will require partnerships between private enterprise and government. There are pockets of cooperation so far. Companies are coming up with their own initiatives in supplying tablets and then co-operating with government to implement them in schools. A strong private and public partnership is key in the move towards e-learning as the sole way of education. Via Afrika Publishers has also partnered with with a non-profit organization, Breadline Africa to provide rural communities with digital education centres. The later specialises in converting old shipping containers into classrooms.

Few believe technology for its own sake will be the knight in shining armour that helps South Africa and the continent educate its youth more effectively. But used strategically by educators, publishers and government working in partnership, it has the potential to achieve great things and fast.

Money

Today we’re going to dwell briefly on a topic that at first glance seems so obvious and clear. Or is it? They say money makes the world go around, we do not need rocket science to figure out that statement weighs heavily on the true side. Money is any clearly identifiable object of value that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and a repayment of debts within a market or which is legal tender within a country. Many things have been used as medium of exchange in markets including, for example, livestock, sacks of cereal grain, the list goes on. Such has been the history of money and in some parts of the world today still is considered as a means of exchange.

Interesting to note how far we have come with regards to money as an identifiable object of value from commodity, standardized coinage, trade bills of exchange, tallies, demand deposits right upto banknotes which also are being used lesser and less these days and at this rate we will soon not see them in circulation at all. I would like to believe that probably because families and a people in general would rarely part ways or travel to far away places due to the mode of transport and the reasons to travel to other lands were pretty much non-existent. Having pointed this out there was no need for sending money across the world regularly if at all. That of cause has changed now with technology ever evolving daily we do not necessarily need to be in possession of a large quantity of notes as one can transact simply with their debit/credit card or from their mobile device or laptop and money can be sent to another continent and reach its destination within upto an hour. Remittance companies like www.mukuru.com make it easy for you to send money to your loved ones across the globe in a fast, reliable and safe manner.

Improving your financial life

Bills start accumulating. Vowing to manage and have them all under control, but never seem to have the time. Then the late fees start piling up. Ever been there? If so there’s a way to avoid this problem: Why not automate some of the bill paying processes and other pieces of your financial life whilst at it? Banks have been improving their digital offerings and nudging customers towards them because they’re cheaper than paper, whilst there being a benefit for you too. This being whilst having set-up mobile/online banking paying bills can be very fast and almost painless. Here are some financial automation check lists you could look into:

Start by signing for a direct deposit at work so your salary lands into your account automatically. It makes the money available sooner and saves you all those trips to the ATM. Plus, many financial institutions will waive their monthly checking fees for customers who use direct deposit. Bill payments are the next logical step. To set up electronic bill payments via your bank’s website, you’ll need your account number at each company you want to pay and likely its address too. With bills that fluctuate each month, or if you prefer to initiate each payment yourself, all you’ll need to do is go online, enter the amount of the payment, and the rest happens electronically. If you don’t want to go through your bank, you can go to websites of the vendors you pay every month and set up automatic payments through your credit card. This lets you consolidate numerous monthly bills into a single credit card statement.

Budgeting is key element in improving your finances. If you use budgeting software like Quicken, or a budgeting website or app like Mint, link your checking account and credit card accounts so all your bills and expenses will be categorized and easy to track in one place. This step gives way for saving.  Most companies that offer a retirement savings program make it easy to divert a portion of each paycheck into these accounts automatically. Even if you don’t work for a company with a retirement savings plan, you can set up automatic transfers from your checking or savings account into a tax-advantaged account like a brokerage account, a vacation account, house fund or any other savings goal or vehicle you have. Within companies that offer these plans, you can instruct the plan provider to automatically increase your savings rate on the same day every year. Gradually increasing the amount you save this way can add substantially to your savings without taking a big hit all at once.

Smart asset allocation that is dividing your portfolio investment among different types of assets is an important step towards wealth. And once you determine the right mix for you, it’s important to maintain those proportions over the long-term, even as market fluctuations throw them out of whack. Periodically rebalancing your portfolio is the answer and many investment companies now offer the option of automatic, periodic adjustments back to your desired allocation.

 

Make a difference this winter

Different supermarkets like Shoprite and Checkers have teamed up with winter Community Chest for a winter collection campaign that encourages customers to open their hearts and wrap those in need of warmth, love and hope this winter. For those wondering, Community Chest is a non-profit organization committed to raising and distributing funds in a professional and efficient manner to organizations engaged in meeting the welfare, education and health needs of the community.

Local community radio stations such as Radio Tygerberg in Cape Town, Groot FM in Pretoria and Kingfisher FM in Port Elizabeth support this initiative and are committed to the improvement of disadvantaged communities.

The public is urged to contribute to this worthy cause of donating clothes, blankets and non-perishable foods by placing the items in the marked trolleys at the entrance of all Checkers, Checkers Hyper and Shoprite stores. One can also ask their cashier to add a donation amount to the groceries when paying at the till, or SMS “WARMHEARTS10″ and the name of the sender to 38806 to donate R10.

It would be a good thing if possible to participate in this noble initiative by sending money money to loved in South africa. All items collected willbe distributed to needy communities across the country through Community Chest’s integrated network Donations willbe accepted until 15 August 2014.

New Immigration Laws

 

It is a no brainer that the new South African immigration rules recently passed have had a huge impact on a large scale. Zoning in on the removal of Directive 43 and the hardship that its removal has caused people, when they have been told they are now undesirable. Of cause we know the home affairs has and had the nation at interest when planning out these laws, but were these new immigration laws implemented in the right way?

For instance a happy holiday in Namibia has left a family torn apart after these new regulations have barred the Danish born wife from coming back into the country. Louise Egedal Johnson was detained in a room at Cape Town International Airport for six hours and then forced to leave South Africa on a one way ticket to Copenhagen with her son Samuel 2.

This of cause has left husband Brent Johnson distraught saying his wife was told to leave the country because she had been called an undesirable person by the home affairs official. He said their son has a South African birth certificate, but he’s only two and they could not separate him from his mother.

They have been married since 2009 and in February she applied to have a spousal visa renewed. The new regulations came into effect on May 26 and the family being unaware left for holiday in Namibia. Johnson said his wife was deemed undesirable and fined R1500 when leaving the country. Now she is not allowed into the country because they were not informed.

How can something that tears families apart be a law? Should not those who have pending visa or permit applications be allowed to travel and not be rendered undesirable? These are questions many are asking and it still to be seen what will be done with regards to this in the future.