Technology

Learn Swahili on Duolingo

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Duolingo is arguably the best free online language learning platform available. Duolingo can be used through its website or mobile app.

The selection of languages on Duolingo has been fairly limited, but it is quality over quantity. When writing my previous blog post about on-line language learning, I certainly did not imagine a Duolingo Swahili course to be reality only a year later!

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Google Earth – see the world now and then without leaving desktop

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Google Earth is a great tool to browse the world. The service has been around over ten years now, and it has constantly improved by addition of better quality images, and new features, among them the Street View and historical imagery.

The availability of historical views varies from place to place, the earliest satellite pictures usually dating from 70’s or 80’s. Detailed pictures, however, are only available since early 2000’s.

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Detailed imagery of Cape Town 16 years ago

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Democracy 3: Africa – be better leader than real ones

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There are not many video games set in Africa, but last month saw the release of ‘Democracy 3: Africa’, a strategy game where the player will be the leader of an African country.

‘Democracy’ is a series of turn-based strategy games where the goal is to stay in power and run the nation successfully. Democracy 3: Africa’ is the newest edition in Democracy series developed by Positech Games. The game has 10 African countries to choose from. Given all political, economical and social aspects, African countries provide very intriguing scenarios for a game like this. Certainly, this game is very unique compared to previous ‘Democracy’ games, where the player leads mostly stable western countries.

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Kariba dam half empty – energy crisis in Southern Africa gets deeper

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Lack of rains this year has led fall of water levels of the Kariba dam reservoir on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border, and subsequently diminished power generation. The water level of the reservoir is now only 40% of its full capacityZambia generates almost all of its electricity by hydropower plants (over 99%), with Kariba Dam being the main source. Copper mining in northern parts of the country is vital for Zambian economy, but power crisis have now forced mining companies to cut back on production. These companies already suffer from low copper prices and now power shortage means significantly increased costs. Should the situation be prolonged, mines may be forced to be closed, and thousands of workers will be sent home. The power shortage is also hurting other industries and affects the daily life of Zambians.

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Music streaming services

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Music streaming services like Beats, Deezer, Pandora, Rdio and Spotify have become a major form of music listening in recent years. People can use computers, phones and certain other devices to listen music of their selection, while a fast enough internet connection is needed. Streaming services often have a freemium business model, so that there is a limited service free of cost and a premium an account offering unlimited listening and other benefits. Subscription fees for premium services are usually around 10€ a month depending on service and regional location. This article concentrates on Spotify and Deezer as both are well known and have wide catalogues of over 30 million songs. The amount of African music available on both services is surprisingly good. Likes of Fela Kuti, Manu Dibango, Miriam Makeba, Franco, Angelique Kidjo, Salif Keita, Ali Farka Toure and Mahmoud Ahmed all have much of their discography on the catalogue. Similarly most recent hits by African artists are there. You may find them on Youtube too, which has wider and more global audience, but if you are interested in full albums and older music, counting on music streaming services is a better bet.

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Experiences on unlimited mobile data plans in East Africa

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Using mobile internet in Africa can be a frustrating experience. 3G networks are very limited, speeds often low, networks may get down, and lastly, data bundles can be expensive and tend to have small data caps. Unlimited plans are handy as one does not have to constantly worry about exceeding data limits, but hardly any operators dare to offer them. However, in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania some operators provide affordably priced prepaid unlimited data plans. These are are my experiences how they work, and whether are worth the money. Read the rest of this entry »