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Danie van der Merwe
Gadget and Open Source Software fanatic!
Gadget and Open Source Software fanatic!


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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
- Steal 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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How To Install Ubuntu Touch On Some Android Devices

Canonical, Ubuntu’s parent company at one time was developing an operating system for Android devices. They called this move a way to “disrupt the industry” and change the way we use mobile phones by bringing a full Linux desktop to mobile. After a few years, they eventually gave up. The reason? The company behind Ubuntu failed at convincing consumers to switch away from Android OS. As a result, the project was abandoned by them. If you’re looking to install Ubuntu Touch on your Android device, there’s still a way. Soon after Ubuntu Touch “died”, it was picked up by a community of developers who still very much want to make Ubuntu Touch a reality. As a result, users can install the operating system, get software updates, security fixes and even new features!

UBports officially supports Ubuntu Touch images (and updates) for the Google Nexus 5, the OnePlus One and the Fairphone 2. These three devices have complete support and no development is currently active. Every driver and feature on these smartphones work perfectly with Ubuntu Touch. These are the “core” devices and make up the majority of UBport’s effort. They regularly get new software features and patches.

Additionally, UBports has Core (pre-release) devices. These devices are up-and-coming but are going to be placed in the “core” lineup. They are in beta. These devices are the Optimus L90, the BQ M10 HD, and the BQ M10 FHD. Owners of these devices can install Ubuntu Touch and use it with caution, as they are under heavy development.

Lastly, UBports supports Legacy devices. These are devices that have ports (in some way) by either Canonical and the official Ubuntu Touch development team, or the Ubuntu community at large. These devices will not get new features like the Core and Core Pre-release devices. Instead, UBports create software fixes and security updates. These legacy devices are: The Google Nexus 10, Google Nexus 7 2013 (LTE edition), and BQ Aquaris E4.5


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Pocket Casts announces Web Player 2.0 Beta, adds many features from the Android app

Apparently, the devs have been surprised by the popularity of the web player, which until now has had a fairly rudimentary feature set. Realising that the web player was actually the primary listening platform for many users forced a rethink that ultimately led to this big 2.0 beta update, which is ground up rewrite.

Pocket Casts was one of the first podcast players to do a really well-synced web player (syncing listening progress and subscriptions between devices and their web player) and more recently Player FM has also started a similar functionality. The two services have their own strengths and weaknesses so it is a personal choice.


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Chrome OS Lock Screen Note Taking Coming Soon, First with Google Keep

According to a recent commit in the Chrome OS repository, lock screen note taking applications will soon be enabled by default on Chrome OS devices with stylus support. What’s more, it seems note taking apps such as Google Keep will be leading the charge. Looking at the actual code changes, Google Keep is specifically mentioned in several places.

So what does this mean exactly? Well on Chrome OS, there is a demo mode which can be used to launch some apps without unlocking the device. It may soon be possible that the user can take notes while the device is locked, without having to enter demo mode. This has been a long time coming, with a commit discovered back in July (via ChromeUnboxed) making reference to lock screen note taking. The only difference now is that now the feature appears to be making its way to live devices, as the option has now been enabled by default in Chrome OS’s preferences.

Only note-taking apps which use the new lock screen note taking method will work. This means you cannot use any alternatives until developers implement support in their applications. If you would rather use an application such as Evernote or Microsoft OneNote, that won’t be possible until those apps update to support this feature.


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This Levi’s jacket with a smart sleeve with control your Android or iOS phone with gestures

You attach a small little “tag” to the left cuff of the jacket. You then pair it to an app on your phone and go through a little tutorial that sets up the three different gestures you can configure. You can brush in, brush out, and double tap. There’s a forth gesture, just holding your hand on the fabric, which is hard-coded to just shutting your phone up.

It's not cheap at $350 but you can actually put in the washing machine and dryer without ruining the circuitry inside.


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Truly wireless earphones are the near future - truly earphoneless is still a bit of a way away

Most Bluetooth earphones are never going to satisfy true audiophiles but for those of us on the move that want to listen to music, podcasts, etc there is nothing better than true wireless earphones. Now that I have tried most versions including the "wireless" earphones (which still snag on my neck, and corded ones that used to get snagged on door handles and around seat belts) I can mention some pro's and con's to consider for truly wireless earphones.

Pro's to look for:
1. Convenient charge carry case which provides a couple of charges during the day as battery life on a single charge is usually only 3 to 6 hours.
2. Foam or silicone padding makes for more comfortable wearing over many hours. Often these also sit more firmly in the ear and cater better for smaller ears.
3. Models like Apple's Airpods will play both channels through a single Airpod if you choose to wear just one, then when the battery goes flat you just switch to the secondary earphone.
4. Consider sweat and rain resistant models if you exercise a lot.
5. Consider the shape and size as not everyone likes the Apple Airpod design and some others also protrude quite far from the ear.
6. Sound isolation can be both a pro and a con depending og what you want. Generally in-ear phones are going to isolate sound a bit more.

1. Battery life is always an issue with very compact sizes but the charge cases usually take 15 mins or so to give you an additional hour or two of listening.
2. Truly wireless earphones can fall out more easily and get lost. Check you can buy single replacements.
3. The sound won't be as good as over the ear phones but you score big on convenience.
4. Generally, play controls are very limited on truly wireless earphones as there is no space for volume controls and a single or double tap is about all you can use. In my case, I use my Android Wear watch to control playback.
5. Battery level - may be a pro if you have Airpods on an iPhone but otherwise, with Android, you'll have to wait for Android version 8.1 (hopefully) to detect battery levels over Bluetooth or make do with interpreting LEDs on a battery case. But this situation should improve in the coming year.

Here is a good example of more affordable truly wireless earphones at, but there are more and more appearing on the market now.

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Battlegrounds Continues To Break Records On Steam

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds continues to dominate Steam, dethroning Valve’s Dota 2 for highest concurrent player count of all-time.

It was only a month ago that the game reached over 800,000 active users, placing at the top of the digital platforms chart for what people are currently playing at any given time. Now it’s also displaced Dota 2, the previous record holder for highest simultaneous player count at 1.29 million, with just north of 1.3 million players online at the same time on 16 Sept 2017. Earlier this month, the game’s creator and director announced Battlegrounds had already sold over 10 million copies.


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Bored With Your Fitbit? These Cancer Researchers Aren't

If you're trying to get in shape and you want a tiny, wrist-bound computer to help you do it, you have more options than ever before. Fitness trackers come in all shapes, colors, and price tags, with newfangled sensors and features to stand out to customers. But for doctors and scientists studying how exercise can help people deal with disease, the landscape is much simpler. There’s Fitbit, and then there’s everyone else.

Since 2012, scientists have published 457 studies using Fitbit device data, nearly half of them in 2017 alone. According to a recent analysis in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, that puts the company well ahead of its competition. In clinical trials that used consumer activity monitors, a full 83 percent outfitted trial participants with a Fitbit. For NIH-funded research, that number rose to 95 percent.

Steven Steinhubl, a cardiologist and the director of Digital Medicine at Scripps Translational Science Institute says wearable monitors shine most in research that compares you at one point in time to you at another. “If the goal is to specifically measure steps or calories with consumer technologies, it is difficult to compare different devices to each other,” he says. “On the other hand, if tracking the trajectory for an individual over time, they are ideal.”

My note: I've certainly noticed that when my resting heart rate has risen sharply over a few years I have generally been feeling ill at the time. So I can imagine that when comparing this data to lots of other indicators there can be interesting conclusions found.


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These are the countries that don’t need a visa to visit South Africa

We often see the list of countries that we as South Africans can visit without a visa (one of which I'll be vacationing at in future for this reason) but here is a list of the countries that can visit SA without a visa.


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All the Features You Need to Know About in iOS 11

iOS 11 was released last week, and with it your iPhone and iPad (as long as its one of these models) got a ton of new features.

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