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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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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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Vodacom to livestream English FA Cup from R35 per game - is this the future of sport in South Africa?

Vodacom has announced that it will broadcast the 2018-19 FA Cup through its Video Play service. Vodacom users who have Video Play will be able to live stream games from 26 January until the final on 18 May.

“Without the obligation of a monthly pay-TV subscription, Vodacom customers will have access to live, delayed-live, or catch-up to all their favourite teams in the FA Cup, including highlights and clips from as little as R35 a game from any device of their choice,” said Vodacom.

I'm still convinced that the model for sports broadcasting has to (will) change away from subscribing to a fixed broadcasting service. Because Multichoice holds a monopoly on sports broadcasts in South Africa is getting away with locking (especially sports) subscribers into its expensive scheduled pay TV services (take it all or leave it model). I can see more ISPs and Telecoms providers doing sports deals like this and offering it to their subscribers.

What I don't like is being tied into Vodacom or having to have it tied to my Vodacom airtime account (even though I am actually a Vodacom customer). I just want to keep my streaming separate and distrust lumping too many value adds in with the CLI add-ons, itemised billing costs, etc. Why not cast the net a bit wider.

A real pity too that it is geographically restricted to South Africa (you must turn your phone's GPS top verify). I know where this comes from but the model is so archaic and gets inherited from slicing and dicing copyright rights between countries, and the industry wanting to resel the same thing over and over again. It also usually has the net effect of eliminating any competition in the same region.

From a pure technology perspective, I like that sport is opening up more to streaming in South Africa (although I don't watch any sport).


#southafrica #sport
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How to Sideload Apps to Android Wear

Sideloading apps enables you to install apps that are either not available in Google Play or not listed as compatible for your device. This is rarely a problem with Android phones, but with Android watches it's a common occurrence. What if you could change that, and install any app you like?

There are some potential drawbacks: the app might not work as intended because it hasn't been optimised for the device, which might mean it's buggy, crashes upon opening or drains resources and battery life. If you're not entirely sure what you're downloading there's also a risk of installing malware.

But if you're comfortable that the app is legit, and you're willing to give it a try, sideloading apps to Android Wear is much easier than you probably think.

I needed this recently with an updated app that just did not have its app in the Play Store but they offered a download from their website for the watch. And it worked just fine using this method.


#androidwear #wearos #sideloading
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