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Capetonians - Is your neighbour guzzling water? Click to find out

Posted on: Tue, 2018-01-16 - 21:09 By: admin

Capetonians - Is your neighbour guzzling water? Click to find out

Big Brother is watching‚ and now you can too‚ thanks to a controversial City of Cape Town online water consumption map. Water-stressed city residents can use the map to check up on their neighbours’ water habits based on households’ municipal bills.

“The potential water-saving benefit for all of Cape Town of making water consumption indicators publicly available outweighs any privacy issues at this stage of the crisis‚” said Zara Nicholson‚ spokesman for mayor Patricia de Lille.

“This behaviour-modification tool attempts to acknowledge good savers and encourage those who have yet to join the efforts.”

I for one think this is a great idea as who knows a street better than the people living there. I've already see a 2-person household that uses over 6kL of water, the same as their neighbour opposite who is a 4-person household. It's a pity that the empty stands could be no readings vs over 10kL usage. I can see the City tried to keep it relatively generic. What you are really seeing is the confirmed lower usage users. But with Cape Town having around 3 months of water left desperate measures are called for as there are still many people not making a big effort to save water. These readings are actually Nov 2017 as many polls are clearly not covered yet (turning on the satellite view shows this quite clearly).

See http://bit.ly/2Dlicjd


How many electric cars there are in South Africa

Posted on: Tue, 2018-01-16 - 20:33 By: admin

How many electric cars there are in South Africa

Now we finally know.... Not many at all!

Lightstone has revealed that 375 electric cars have been sold in South Africa since they became available in the country. 0.2% of all vehicles in South Africa are electric cars. By comparison, 6.6% of all vehicles in Norway are electric.

While there are a number of charging stations around the country – with Gauteng boasting over 90 stations – Lightstone said most owners find it more convenient to charge their cars at home.

Optimal Energy, Nissan, and BMW were the first manufacturers to introduce electric vehicles to South Africa, with the Leaf launched in 2013 and the i3 launched in 2015. The Nissan Leaf saw a surge in sales in 2015, due to a renewed interest in electric vehicles following the launch of the BMW i3.

See http://bit.ly/2DocMEs


Kickstarter: This wireless MIDI ring allows you to perform musical effects with hand gestures

Posted on: Tue, 2018-01-16 - 05:45 By: admin

Kickstarter: This wireless MIDI ring allows you to perform musical effects with hand gestures

French company Enhancia has been working on the concept for its MIDI ring for over a year, and it’s finally coming to Kickstarter in March. The tiny accessory, worn on the index finger of your right hand, allows a user to trigger musical effects like pitch bends or vibrato by making specific movements while playing a keyboard.

The ring, which is lightweight and made out of a soft plastic with a metal accent, communicates with a hub that is connected to your computer. The hub both charges the ring and also tells the ring which effects are mapped to which movements. There’s also a standalone piece of software and a plugin, which can be used with a Digital Audio Workstation, like Ableton or Logic.

The ring’s sensors track three specific hand movements that are by mapped to certain effects by default (though these can be swapped out for any other effects a musician chooses).

See http://bit.ly/2mAVZ6B


39 million Americans reportedly own a voice-activated smart speaker

Posted on: Tue, 2018-01-16 - 02:43 By: admin

39 million Americans reportedly own a voice-activated smart speaker

One in six US adults (or around 39 million people) now own a voice-activated smart speaker, according to research from NPR and Edison Research. The Smart Audio Report claims that uptake of these devices over the last three years is “outpacing the adoption rates of smartphones and tablets.” Users spent time using speakers to find restaurants and businesses, playing games, setting timers and alarms, controlling smart home devices, sending messages, ordering food, and listening to music and books. Over half of respondents keep their smart speaker in the living room, followed by the kitchen (21 percent), and master bedroom (19 percent).

The survey of just under 2,000 individuals found that the time people spend using their smart speaker replaces time spent with other devices including the radio, smartphone, TV, tablet, computer, and publications like magazines. Over half of respondents also said they use smart speakers even more after the first month of owning one. Around 66 percent of users said they use their speaker to entertain friends and family, mostly to play music but also to ask general questions and check the weather.

Yep they're ready for prime time - it's interesting how these speakers are getting better and better about understanding contextually what is being asked. This makes them increasingly more natural to speak to and get the right answers. Of course, they also integrate well with home automation (another 2018 big trend) so it becomes a win-win.

See http://bit.ly/2myJgRK


Ford is throwing $11 billion at its electric car problem

Posted on: Mon, 2018-01-15 - 22:40 By: admin

Ford is throwing $11 billion at its electric car problem

Ford Motor Company said Sunday that it would more than double its investment in the production of electric vehicles, promising to spend $11 billion on the technology by 2022. The auto giant will roll out 16 fully electric cars within five years, the first of which would arrive in 2020.

It was a dramatic escalation in Ford’s crosstown rivalry with General Motors, which has seen its stock prices rise thanks to its commitments to both electrification and autonomy. GM has said it plans to roll out at least 20 new electric cars by 2023, a goal that puts it in a position to bring battery-powered driving to the mainstream.

The takeaway is that momentum is already reaching tipping point and EVs are going to be mature enough for everyday drivers (I mean non-luxury car drivers) from early 2020's on onward. Just like any other economics, as the volumes grow like this, the costs also strat to fall (more than the technological advances have already brought unit costs down, and just like we have seen in the solar narket). It's important countries start to plan for it as grid systems are not modernised overnight - grids can also draw power from connected vehicles but again legacy grids will unlikely be bale to handle this.

See http://bit.ly/2Dl6BAG


Flashing Sonoff Switches with Tasmota firmare to Work with Home Assistant

Posted on: Sun, 2018-01-14 - 15:16 By: admin

Flashing Sonoff Switches with Tasmota firmare to Work with Home Assistant

What a mission! It should have been simple but cost me 2,5 days in the end. The short of it was the problem was likely with my network routing and not the Sonoff or the firmware, but once you are fixated on where you think the issue is, you waste time. I could see the IP address come up on my router but going to it brought now webserver config screen like attached below. When I realised I was actually getting "host unreachable" pings (instead of timeout errors) I suspected it was my router and I removed the allocated DHCP and rebooted the router and there it came up fine.

I also had a lot of compile errors on the Arduino IDE and that was largely from following old videos where things have got simpler. I won't go into how I downgraded the versions all to match the videos and even resorted to using Windows. It flashed but that was not where the problem lay.

So the outcome, in the end, was the Tasmota developer himself (Theo Arends) responding to a problem I posted on his Github forum (the absolute wonders of open source software) and he pointed me instead to his Wiki which is way way simpler and works with all the up to date versions of te software. The Wiki is at http://bit.ly/2mui0DZ. The only thing was Linux was blocking the Arduino IDE from writing out to the USB port, and all I had to do for that was issue "sudo chmod 666 /dev/ttyUSB0" from the command prompt to allow write permissions. And the flashing took all of 4 minutes or so.

The Sonoff switch is connected now and is communicating over MQTT to the Home Assistant dashboard. All I must do now is configure it to appear in the dashboard so we can switch it on and off from there, and then also configure it to work with Google Home via Home Assistant.

I've updated my Home Assistant webpage (https://gadgeteer.co.za/homeassistant) to signify another notch carved into the tree....


Posted on: Sun, 2018-01-14 - 10:30 By: admin

How To Split Ubuntu Between HDD & SSD

I've done something similar with my Manjaro Linux, and this is well worth doing as the SSD boots a lot quicker. Also if you Home partition is on a separate drive it is also a lot easier doing distro upgrades whilst the data stays in place.

See http://bit.ly/2mw2pns


Slow iPhone: Check How Slow Your Device Is

Posted on: Sun, 2018-01-14 - 09:03 By: admin

Slow iPhone: Check How Slow Your Device Is

Apple slowing down iPhones has become common knowledge by now. iPhone owners are being advised to get a new battery for their older devices to fix the problem and Apple has discounted a new battery to $29 as part of its iPhone battery replacement program. If you have a slow iPhone, you can get a new battery for $29 all through 2018. Of course, some users are wondering how slow is too slow for an iPhone. Apple is replacing batteries regardless of a battery’s life state but if you want to know how bad the problem is, SlowApple is a free web app that can tell you just how slow your iPhone is thanks to Apple’s throttling ‘feature’.

SlowApple is for the layman who doesn’t have time to run or interpret the results of a proper bench marking tool like GeekBench.

See https://www.addictivetips.com/ios/slow-iphone-check-you-device/


Slow iPhone: Check How Slow Your Device Is
Slow iPhone: Check How Slow Your Device Is After Apple Has Throttled It
Posted on: Fri, 2018-01-12 - 23:31 By: admin

Google Duo Now Lets You Call People Who Don’t Have the App Installed using App Preview Messaging

Google Duo, Google’s video chat application, launched a few years ago, but it’s struggled to overcome the advantage that apps such as WhatsApp and Hangouts had. No matter how good Google Duo is, when all of your friends and family member use a certain platform, it’s difficult to get them to switch.

But Google might have the solution. It’s starting to allow Duo users to initiate video calls with people who don’t have the app installed on their device, according to Android Police.

To make this happen, the search giant’s using a Google Play Services feature called App Preview Messaging, which launched alongside Allo, Google’s text messaging platform, in 2016. People who don’t have Duo installed on their Android smartphone experience calls just like Duo users. All the features of a normal video call and audio call such as Knock Knock, mic muting, and camera switching are present on and accounted for on the App Preview version of Duo. Recipients of the call even have the option to block the caller from contacting them again once the call ends.

It’s worth noting that the App Preview feature only works on Android devices, and only if you’ve added your phone number to your Google account and enabled App Preview in Settings.

See http://bit.ly/2mnEEhp


Posted on: Fri, 2018-01-12 - 11:14 By: admin

How to wire a $5 Sonoff Wifi switch into an existing light switch

One key disabler (which is the case for me and probably many others in South Africa) is that there needs to be full circuit wiring passing through the light switch. Many houses like mine only have one half the circuit passing through the light switch and this is a no-go as the Sonoff needs the live and neutral to power itself. There is an idea I'm pondering on with maybe seeing if I can't run a wire from the other side, from the light down the pipe to the switch.

But if your wiring is go to go, this is a good way to use a $5 Wifi switch to remotely control your lights. They work for 110V and 220V. A standard Sonoff switch will work but needs some adaption for handling toggles between the software and the hardware switch. The one shown here has been flashed with Tasmota firmware which allows for better control and also for working with the Home Assistant home automation software.

Watch the video at http://bit.ly/2D7H6mk


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