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Free data campaign from SA goes global


The Wikimedia Foundation shares a heartwarming story about the slums of South Africa to promote its Wikipedia Zero petition

The Wikimedia Foundation has made a short documentary about a group of South African high school students who pleaded with local mobile networks to offer free access to Wikipedia.

It forms part of a new petition from the foundation for its Wikipedia Zero project, which aims to offer free access to the online, crowdsourced encyclopaedia on mobile phones.

“You might think that the cost of data is trivial, but it is the single greatest barrier we face to getting everyone access to Wikipedia,” the petition states.

According to Wikimedia, roughly 6 out of 7 people today have access to a cellular phone, but the cost of data is so expensive for most people they simply can’t afford to access Wikipedia – despite its free licence.

“That’s why the Wikimedia Foundation has been working with cellular phone providers to waive data charges for accessing Wikipedia,” Wikimedia said.

“This initiative is called Wikipedia Zero.”

The documentary and petition build on a campaign Wikimedia launched last year (October 2013) when it published an open letter from South African high school students to local mobile operators on

Signed by 24 Cape Town students from Sinenjongo High School in Joe Slovo Park, Milnerton, the letter encouraged South Africa’s mobile operators to follow in the footsteps of operators in Kenya and Uganda.

Orange Kenya and Orange Uganda have reportedly offered zero-rated access to Wikipedia since August 2012.

Wikimedia Foundation and Airtel Kenya also announced a partnership in October 2013 to trial free Wikipedia access via SMS using technology from SA-based Praekelt Foundation, called Vumi.

Praekelt describes Vumi as an open source USSD and SMS mobile messaging platform offering connectivity in Africa, which serves NGOs, corporations, and entrepreneurs.

Following the publication of the letter at the end of October 2013, MTN responded with a statement saying it was already working on a programme to zero-rate Wikipedia access.

In February 2014, at the height of the #NekNomination craze, MTN released a video announcing it would start offering free Wikipedia access to its customers:

Continue reading Free data campaign from SA goes global

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Handy Microsoft Office 2013 tips, tricks and hints


A good morning to all our Joxicraft followers, this week and the coming up one we will dedicate to exploring the new features found in the new Microsoft Office 2013 compliments of TechRadar website.

Whether you’ve bought the apps as one-offs, the whole Office 2013 suite or signed up for Microsoft’s new Office 365 subscription package, there’s lots to like about the new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

If you’ve taken the plunge with the new-look touch-friendly apps, these tips and tricks can help you go further with the software – from tailoring the interface to embedding online clips, there’s plenty to explore.

We will focus on the new features in Office 2013 (though you will find some tricks that work across the board), while providing a mix of quick hints and more in-depth tips to suit every level of user.

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Multiple Cisco Wireless Gateways Vulnerable to Remote Attacks


Multiple Cisco Wireless Residential Gateway products have a security vulnerability in the web server that could allow a remote attacker to hijack the devices remotely.

Cisco announced that a number of its Wireless Residential Gateway products are vulnerable to a remote-code execution attack, which is exploited by sending a specially crafted HTTP request to the web server running on the affected device.

According to Cisco, the flaw is due to the incorrect input validation for HTTP requests, which could allow an attacker to exploit a buffer overflow and run arbitrary code on the device. The bug is about as serious as they come, giving remote, unauthenticated attackers access to the affected machines.

“Successful exploitation of the vulnerability may cause the embedded web server to crash and allow the attacker to inject arbitrary commands and execute arbitrary code with elevated privileges,” the Cisco advisory says, and until now, “There are currently no known workarounds available for this vulnerability.”

The Cisco products affected by the vulnerability are as follows:
– Cisco DPC3212 VoIP Cable Modem
– Cisco DPC3825 8×4 DOCSIS 3.0 Wireless Residential Gateway
– Cisco EPC3212 VoIP Cable Modem
– Cisco EPC3825 8×4 DOCSIS 3.0 Wireless Residential Gateway
– Cisco Model DPC3010 DOCSIS 3.0 8×4 Cable Modem
– Cisco Model DPC3925 8×4 DOCSIS 3.0 with Wireless Residential Gateway with EDVA
– Cisco Model DPQ3925 8×4 DOCSIS 3.0 Wireless Residential Gateway with EDVA
– Cisco Model EPC3010 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem
– Cisco Model EPC3925 8×4 DOCSIS 3.0 with Wireless Residential Gateway with EDVA

Cisco said the security bug exists in the devices whether they are configured in a Gateway mode or Router mode on home or small office gateways.

Cisco uses the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) to provide an open and standardized rating of the security holes it finds in its products. This vulnerability received a most critical rating according to its CVSS i.e. base score 10. The vulnerability was reported by Chris Watts of Tech Analysis to Cisco.

Cisco has released and distributed free software updates to its service provider customers that address the vulnerability, the service providers would further pass-on to the affected home and small office customers. The customers are advised to contact their service providers to confirm the software deployed by the service provider includes the fix.

– See more at:

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Shortcut to selecting


Shortcut to selecting the whole of a file To select all of a Word document – press Ctrl+A on the keyboard or if you prefer using the mouse, triple-click in the left margin of the document. Ctrl+A also works in other Windows applications e.g.  when selecting the whole of an Excel spreadsheet, all files in a folder, everything on a PowerPoint slide etc. Try it!

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Five Samsung smartphones to get KitKat updates this month

According to a leaked document purportedly originating at Samsung India, the Korean company is going to release Android 4.4 KitKat updates for five smartphones before the end of this month.
The handsets in question are the Galaxy S4 Mini, the Galaxy Grand 2 Duos, the Galaxy Mega 5.8 Duos, the Galaxy Mega 6.3, and the Galaxy Note 3 Neo.


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Microsoft Presses Ahead with Office for Android


Prepare another entry into your File Of No Surprise: Microsoft is moving ahead with its efforts to bring the highly lucrative Office franchise to Android tablets.

According to The Verge, Microsoft is currently prepping a private beta of the new software. A sign-up page has been mostly taken offline since the news broke.

A full Office suite for Android tablets is roughly as surprising as San Francisco morning fog. Microsoft confirmed that it was building the native suite earlier this year, and rumor followed that the Android apps would beat a touch-first build of Office for Windows out of the gate.

To see Microsoft begin to ramp up testing is hardly surprising.

Office for iPad has been a material success for Microsoft. Despite some market doubt that the apps were too late to make an impact, or that users wouldn’t use them due to Office 365-related restrictions, Microsoft’s latest sally into iOS has gone well. Android may be no different.

The mystery that I can’t unravel is why touch Office for Windows tablets is so damned late.

The above is merely another plank in the current Microsoft effort to have its corporate focus be both mobile-first, and cloud-first. Office, of course, is now heavily based on OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service. What will be interesting to gauge is market response to Office for Android, measuring if it can match the prior response to the iOS suite. Microsoft saw 27 million downloads of its iOS Office apps in 46 days.

Microsoft declined to comment.

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Siri Will Soon Understand You a Whole Lot Better


It all started at a small academic get-together in Whistler, British Columbia.

The topic was speech recognition, and whether a new and unproven approach to machine intelligence—something called deep learning—could help computers more effectively identify the spoken word. Microsoft funded the mini-conference, held just before Christmas 2009, and two of its researchers invited the world’s preeminent deep learning expert, the University of Toronto’s Geoff Hinton, to give a speech.

Hinton’s idea was that machine learning models could work a lot like neurons in the human brain. He wanted to build “neural networks” that could gradually assemble an understanding of spoken words as more and more of them arrived. Neural networks were hot in the 1980s, but by 2009, they hadn’t lived up to their potential.

At Whistler, the gathered speech researchers were polite about the idea, “but not that interested,” says Peter Lee, the head of Microsoft’s research arm. These researchers had already settled on their own algorithms. But Microsoft’s team felt that deep learning was worth a shot, so the company had a couple of engineers work with Hinton’s researchers and run some experiments with real data. The results were “stunning,” Lee remembers—a more than 25 percent improvement in accuracy. This, in a field where a 5 percent improvement is game-changing. “We published those results, then the world changed,” he says.

Now, nearly five years later, neural network algorithms are hitting the mainstream, making computers smarter in new and exciting ways. Google has used them to beef up Android’s voice recognition. IBM uses them. And, most remarkably, Microsoft uses neural networks as part of the Star-Trek-like Skype Translate, which translates what you say into another language almost instantly. People “were very skeptical at first,” Hinton says, “but our approach has now taken over.”


One big-name company, however, hasn’t made the jump: Apple, whose Siri software is due for an upgrade. Though Apple is famously secretive about its internal operations–and did not provide comment for this article–it seems that the company previously licensed voice recognition technology from Nuance—perhaps the best known speech recognition vendor. But those in the tight-knit community of artificial intelligence researchers believe this is about to change. It’s clear, they say, that Apple has formed its own speech recognition team and that a neural-net-boosted Siri is on the way.

Lee would know. Apple hired one of his top managers, Alex Acero, last year. Acero, now a senior director in Apple’s Siri group had put in nearly 20 years at Microsoft, researching speech technology. There he oversaw Li Deng and Dong Yu, the two Microsoft researcher who invited Geoff Hinton to that conference in British Columbia. Apple has also poached speech researchers from Nuance, including Siri Manager Gunnar Evermann. Another speech research hire: Arnab Ghoshal, a researcher from the University of Edinburgh.

“Apple is not hiring only in the managerial level, but hiring also people on the team-leading level and the researcher level,” says Abdel-rahman Mohamed, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto, who was courted by Apple. “They’re building a very strong team for speech recognition research.”

Ron Brachman, who oversees research at Yahoo and helped launch the project that originally gave rise to Siri, points out that Apple’s digital iPhone assistant depends on a lot more than just speech recognition. But Microsoft’s Peter Lee gives Apple six months to catch up to Microsoft and Google and start using neural nets, and he thinks this will significantly boost Siri’s talents. “All of the major players have switched over except for Apple Siri,” he says. “I think it’s just a matter of time.”

Cade Metz contributed reporting to this story.

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Apple Introduces iOS 8


Last year, Apple revealed the biggest change to-date of iOS, the mobile operating system that many of us have been using for years. Now, the true evolution begins. Jony Ive and the iOS team have had plenty of time to listen to feedback and dig deeper into features introduced before Ive ever took control of software. And finally, iOS 8 is here.

We’ve been expecting a new Healthbook application, a broken out iTunes Radio app to stand on its own, and maybe even split-screen multitasking on the iPad. Will all these dreams come true?

Let’s find out together.

We’ll be updating this article as more and more is announced, so please refresh as the story is still developing.

A few big overviews they showed off first:

Notifications Center is quite a bit different. It includes a new interactive notifications feature to let you swipe down to reply immediately to a message, and that extends all the way out to the lockscreen. It looks a lot like the interactive notifications from OS X Mavericks.

You can also find your favorite contacts by double-tapping to multitask. This gives you quick access to the people you talk to the most.

In Safari, you can get to tab view by clicking the “Tab View” button in the top right corner on the iPad, which comes direct from the new Yosemite version of OS X.

Plus, there are new Mail features which let you use gestures to go directly from a message you’re composing to your inbox, by simply swiping down. This lets you check things out while you’re in the middle of a draft, and then you can pop right back in to the message you were drafting by tapping at the bottom of the screen.

QuickType is a new version of the keyboard in iOS 8. The keyboard finally supports keyword auto-suggestions to let you autofill quickly. It’s context-sensitive, so it offers up words based on what you’ve already typed.

Plus, it also knows who you’re talking to, which is crazy. By knowing who you’re talking to, it will send up predictions that are right for the type of conversation you have with that particular person. It makes a big difference if you’re texting with your boss or your boyfriend.

Continuity is a new part of Apple’s entire software ecosystem, extending beyond iOS to OS X Yosemite. The phone, iPad and computer will be aware of each other, and while you’re in the middle of a task, you can switch from one device to the next with a simple prompt.

iPhone 5s | Fly or Die

While composing an email on your computer, a small icon will come up on the lower left hand side of the iPhone. Swiping up, as you would to open up the camera quickly, you can get directly into that same email draft on your iPhone. The same extends from iPhone to Mac.

You could be composing a text message on your phone, and an Apple computer running Yosemite would automatically add an icon to the dock, prompting you to complete the message on the computer.

Perhaps the most exciting part is that Continuity extends to phone calls, meaning that you can have your phone plugged in on the other side of the house and pick up a phone call on your Mac, using it as a speakerphone. You can place calls from the Mac, too.

iMessage is the most used app on the iPhone, hands down. So they’ve spent some time working on the way we message each other.

With Group Messages, you can name the thread, add and remove people, and set Do Not Disturb on a per-person basis within a thread.

Apple has also added audio messages, which you can send by swiping left on a little beacon on the right of the typing window. You can also respond to a message in the notification center with an audio message simply by raising the phone to your ear. The same beacon offers video messaging and location sharing.

Most importantly, you can set up these audio messages and video messages to self destruct after a certain number of minutes, going head to head with Snapchat in an exciting way. Ephemerality is here. For good, it seems.

Enterprise is also a big focus for Apple, and so iOS has improved iCloud Drive, as well as Device Enrollment and even parts of the Mail app, which will now let you turn on VIP threads, rather than just assigning VIP status to contacts.

Health is something we knew that Apple would focus on, but we didn’t know that “Health” would be the actual name of the app. Just as expected, it’s a centralized place where many health apps can plug in on the back end so that users can have a single hub for all their health data and services.

On the backend, Apple is calling it HealthKit. But it’s not just developers who can build into HealthKit, but health providers and medical institutions.

Family Sharing is a new feature in iOS 8 that lets you sync up all the devices in a single family (must be tied to one credit card) to automatically share media, calendars, reminders, or find my friends. You can also locate people’s devices, which could come in handy for parents with forgetful kids. Or vice versa.

The most crucial part of iOS 8 Family Sharing is that it will help with children who rack up crazy bills are their parents accounts. Now, when a kid tries to make a purchase on iTunes or in the App Store, the parent will get a notification asking for permission. Problem solved.


So far, Apple’s Photo Stream has only allowed for 1,000 photos to be stored at a time, requiring that at some point you back everything up to your Mac. Now Apple is offering storage for all your photos and videos in the cloud with access to them from any device, similar to the way that iTunes holds all your music and movies.

And not only do these devices sync edits, photos, and devices, but they have new Smart Editing features that let you do some pretty amazing edits to both Photos and Videos.

And of course, with more photos you need better search. Apple has added a more advanced search within the Photos app that includes auto-suggestions from more recently taken photos, recently viewed, etc.

More broadly, the Photos app generally looks quite different than it has, with more space between photos not unlike the look of Yosemite.

Siri is the closer for iOS 8, and it’s a pretty big one. You can now activate Siri without touching the phone, which I have actually been praying for since she arrived, by simply saying “Hey Siri.” Siri also now has Shazam integration, the ability to purchase content from iTunes, streaming voice recognition, and comes in 22 new dictation languages.


There is a lot at the fingertips of developers this year. TouchID is being opened up to third-party developers, and keyboard builders are now allowed to submit to the App Store, meaning Swype may finally be available on the iPhone. They’re also providing APIs for Cameras which gives more manual controls to third-party apps.

And perhaps most exciting, HomeKit. HomeKit is going to be Apple’s smart home platform, letting developers build something central to iOS. Expect to see an even bigger boom in IoT equipment in the home. Once developers get cracking at this, with the help of Siri, you’ll be able to ask your phone to “Get ready for bed,” and simultaneously turn off the lights, turn down the temperature, etc.