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Danie van der Merwe
Gadget and Open Source Software fanatic! I'm on MeWe at
Gadget and Open Source Software fanatic! I'm on MeWe at


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Why you would want to follow my Collections instead of my Profile

Instead of receiving a stream of mixed news and information from my profile on G+, I am able to post to the specific Collections below. By following one or more of these Collections you will just receive focussed news and info on that Collection or topic in your stream. So for those interested in my Green Tech news that is all you will see from my posts, if you follow just that Collection. You can still follow my personal Profile where you will see the whole range of posts if you wish (one way to turn this down a bit is to put someone in one of your Circles, and then to change the "volume" setting for that Circle). I am also pushing all my public posts to Twitter, Tumblr and LinkedIn (and I do respond on those networks to comments posted there).

You can also see my short guide on how to follow Collections and cut down on unnecessary posts in your stream at

A full list of my G+ Collections can be found at

The specific topics that I am passionate about and have created Collections for are:

- Free and open source software (FOSS) at
- Open data standards / Security / Rights / Privacy / Open Government at
- Technology & Gadgets in general at
- Green Environment and related tech at
- Traditional Wet Shaving at
- Apple Mac OS X and iOS at
- Education related tech at
- Motorcycling rides and tours at
- Gaming tech news at
- Cape Town specific news at
- South African specific tech and news at
- LCHF & Health related tech and news at
- Traditional Wet Shaving
- Android mobile phones and tablets at
- Music at
- Steam locomotives at

I encourage lots of active debate (for or against the points made) but keep it respectful, and back up any counterpoints with some reference or facts. I'm seeing lots of nonsensical comments (random characters) and often just "Hi" or "Good Morning". I'm sorry but I'm going to start deleting these as they clutter the thread up and are not contributing to focussed discussions. People that make statements intended to be inflammatory or controversial (without backing them up) will be regarded as trolls. These comment threads are not for people to promote their own businesses or to have personal discussions - I want the comments to stay on topic, and personal messages can rather be sent directly to other G+ users. I want these posts to be informative and easy for everyone to follow.

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Assistant Trigger - For Those Using Apple AirPods on Android These Are Another Alternative For Battery Monitoring With a Tap For Google Assistant Feature

I have been using AirBattery for a while now which has worked very well but Assistant Trigger may be worth trying if you also want Google Assistant (or any other assistant app e.g. Bixby on Samsung phones) on "tap".

It has a few settings you can play with to tweak the usage.


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YouMe Social - Been testing out this one month-old alternative to Google+ and loving what I see

Don't confuse this site with the dating sites of a very similar name, and I know that YouMe sounds a bit like MeWe, but it's not.

I'm a great fan of focussed Groups/Collections and from the outset YouMe Social (YMS) has got Groups with a publicly visible URL so that anyone can find them. The Groups can be public or private but I'm hoping that we get an option to allow only group owners to post new posts otherwise I fear I may not be able to moderate 7 groups successfully and it will be too noisy.

The site founder (an ex-Google+ user) is incredibly involved in what is happening which is a very good sign - with some social networks you have no idea who the owner is. After I'd posted my list of suggestions he responded publicly within 12 minutes (again better than MeWe's private message suggestions where we don't always get a definitive answer).

The site itself is hosted in the EU and respects privacy and no tracking of where you go when you leave the site, and you can delete all your data without fear of it still being kept like one very big blue social media site does. It will likely have advertising which is how it will grow and fund itself instead of users having to pay. Their privacy policy is available to be read.

The site is brand new so has a few minor things it is still expanding on but for me personally, it has more that suites me right now than MeWe (which has still not opened its Groups publicly). MeWe's followers seem to also be doing most of their own support to others and we're not yet seeing any strong admin run Groups interacting with their users.

I've included a few screenshots of what some of the different views look like. You'll see their polls have quite rich functionality. You can also create your presence there as a personal Profile or a business/organisation Page.

The can see my own profile at

#youmesocial #youme #socialnetwork
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Super Micro audit complete, including servers supplied to Apple: no spy chips found as claimed in Bloomberg report - Appears to have been a Smear Campaign by Entities Unknown

It's what I said from the start... how come after all these alleged chips had infiltrated supply chains to major companies did nota single one of those companies say they found anything after the story had already broken - in fact, they disputed it outright and requested a reaction of the story.

What is really sad is that it has had economic consequences with some telco's abandoning expensive equipment they had bought, brands have been blacklisted from bidding for upgrades.... based on nothing at all found.

"Nardello specifically tested samples of the motherboards supplied to Apple and Amazon, alongside current versions, and found no evidence of spy chips in any of them. The company also checked design files and software, to see if there was evidence of tampering with either, but found nothing there either."

"The Department of Homeland Security, the NSA and the UK’s NSA equivalent GCHQ all backed the denials; Apple repeated its denial to Congress (an insane thing for a company to do if it were lying); a leading security researcher who had been specifically seeking out evidence for this type of attack was unable to find any; and one of Bloomberg's own sources told them prior to publication that the story made no sense."

So what everyone wants to know is:
1. How does a reputable news organisation swallow such a story when no-one outside the sources they had has corroborated it?
2. Who initiated this story (they clearly fed it through to multiple sources to whom Bloomberg spoke).
3. Why has Bloomberg not retracted the story?

Why I picked up again on this today was for two reasons:
1. I'm behind on my podcasts and just listened a TWiT podcast discussing the results of the audit.
2. This morning I got a letter from the US company that I do my cloud backups to, informing me that because of the Bloomberg story last October their prices are going up by $1pm and they literally quoted (with a link) the now discredited Bloomberg story. It just shows how this story was swallowed up on face value. I responded by replying today wondering whose hardware they then could safely use.


#supermicro #bloomberg #spychips
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Zimbabwe orders Internet shutdown with unintended consequences - But also why need ham radio operators

When the Zimbabwean government ordered internet service providers to shutter parts of the web in an effort to curb anti-government protests, it also plunged homes into darkness because people can’t pay their utilities online.

Most people in the southern African nation use Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Ltd.’s Ecocash mobile-phone payment system for daily transactions. They buy electricity in units of $5 or less and almost all domestic users are on prepaid meters, so many buy for $1 at a time.

Purchasing aside, it is a reality in many countries around the world that Internet connectivity and sometimes even cellphone networks are either shut off intentionally or by disaster and then is when radio is still there as a backup. We cannot let radio communications become redundant just because we have modern digital networks. We enjoy the use of digital networks at the pleasure of our governments and at the mercy of Nature.


#zimbabwe #hamradio #Econet
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No More War, Pestilence, & Poverty: How Renewable Energy Will Alter The Global Geopolitical Calculus - A democratization of energy supply is underway

Oil reserves are not distributed equality around the world. Some countries have them, others don’t. Over the past century or so, humanity’s unquenchable thirst for oil has led to wars over who should have access to it — from Japan’s quest for oil to power its nascent economy prior to World War II to the US-led wars in Kuwait and Iraq designed to ensure America an adequate supply of liquid gold.

At the ninth annual conference of the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi last week, outgoing IRENA director-general Adnan Z Amin spelt out how renewable energy is thriving and what that will mean for the nations of the world.

The work was funded by the governments of Norway, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates, says PV Magazine. “When put together, a fascinating new geopolitical reality … is emerging in front of us,” said Grimsson. The report came to four main conclusions.
1. The high penetration of renewables will result in a new geopolitical map, marking a departure from a century dominated by fossil fuels
2. The new order will feature “enhanced leadership” from China
3. The changeover to renewables will offer many nations increased energy independence
4. A democratization of energy supply is underway.

Along with the democratization of energy thanks to renewables, the report envisions greater cooperation among nations as they find new ways to share the new found bounty of unlimited energy that is all around us, just waiting to be harvested.

We may well still see wars over water in the future but even abundant energy generation could mean cheaper options to desalinate seawater for example. Some countries are seeing where the future lies (especially those without oil) and are taking a lead in the renewables space.


#oil #wars
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Why You Should Never Rinse Your Dishes Before Putting Them in the Dishwasher

An interesting reminder as I found myself rinsing dishes off before putting them in and I recall the dishwasher's manual saying not to rinse. From an environmental point of view the rinsing is a real waste of drinking water.

One mind-blogging statistic from Consumer Reports states that the average person wastes 6000 gallons of water a year by pre-rinsing. Most dishwasher machines use just 3 to 5 gallons of water per load, while the average person uses about 27 gallons when washing dishes by hand, according to The National Resource Defense Council.


#dishwasher #water
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Why You Should Try a Digital Power Supply for Your Next PC Build

While it’s easy to measure the power draw of any appliance by picking up a handy reader — the Kill A Watt, for example, or something quick and easy like the Belkin Conserve Insight — you might want to consider a more fun and thorough solution if you’re looking to upgrade your desktop system (or build a brand-new one). The NZXT’s E850 digital power supply and system-monitoring CAM software (Windows only), can you a lot about your system’s power requirements as they can display power draw graphically per component connected to the PSU.


#PSU #power
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A smartphone camera with 10x optical zoom may be in the works - If so, the paradigm shifts again for smartphones

Cameras have become a bigger and bigger selling phone of smartphones in recent years. CPUs and RAM have all become "good enough" but the innovation has largely been happening around cameras with augmented reality, night vision, stabilisers, HDR, digital zoom, AI learning from what the camera sees, and smartphones have become the vehicle for capturing memories for most people, not to mention some really outstanding photography.

One thing that has really lacked has been actual optical zoom. This challenge (due to such thin cameras) is compounded by having such small lenses so that fewer pixels and light can be captured (versus a large lens with a larger sensor on a DSLR) so anything further away, or where you want to crop a photo, a lot of detail is just lost. Optical zoom would go a long way to actually bringing that distant detail more in focus and usable. Combine this with some of the intelligence already invented with the use of AI, and smartphone cameras could really take a leap forward. It's the next frontier to be fully explored.

Of course, patents are going to affect how we as consumers will reap any benefit or not. Or will we all buy Oppo phones? Thank goodness though it is not Huawei so the USA should also see these new cameras.

But let's keep our eyes open for the actual announcement planned for 16th Jan.


#oppo #zoom #smartphone
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Apple books 50 daily flights to China, spends $150 million a year with a single airline - For an IT company where is Facetime and Video Conferencing??

For me from a tech perspective, the destination and the wisdom about putting this on a poster is not the big thing... What UI just wonder is that companies like Google, Facebook and Apple all have their own video conferencing apps. Why so much travel?

E-mail is unhealthily entrenched in corporate culture but adoption of video conferencing is furthermost removed. It's not just about cost, but more the important loss of time and productivity. It suggests to me that tech companies are not quite comfortable with how VC integrates into the way they work?

Microsoft is not listed so maybe it says their Skype for Business just works a lot better? Chevron makes 100% sense on the list as they sell fuel so the more they travel the more of their product gets sold?

It's definitely a culture issue as I've seen free Jitsi installed internally in an organisation that is literally "click to VC" - no account registration, no software install, yet no dent in the travel budget.

So hopefully the Apple saga brings the topic to many boardroom tables about how an organisation is using its VC, and whether the travel budget has been reduced, and if not why not. Too many times organisations motivate the purchase of VC installations and then do not use them or they are an expense over and above travel.


#videoconferencing #apple #travel
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