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Tech Outlet – Updates for Everything

Who would have thought that I would be getting a notification on my phone that my earphones need an update?

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EDWIN CHABUKA

Updates for Earphones

The current trend in personal audio right now is buds. I even got myself a pair because of the hype and all; they are your normal earphones, just without the wires. Truly wireless buds they are. Who would have thought that I would be getting a notification on my phone that my earphones need an update?

Tech Outlet - Updates for Everything Asante Afrika
Air Pods

Well, that is where we are right now, but why don’t we wind the clock back a couple of decades.

History of Updates

Updates, back in the day, were restricted to computing devices that came with an operating system and a processor; and because the internet was still very young back in the 90s, companies that made computers sold software updates as physical floppy disks and compact disks or CD-ROMs. Imagine having to check with your tech shop every now and then for that new Windows update.

It was even more chaotic with smartphones. You had to get a CD with the update, load it up onto a computer, install a PC manager that links your phone to your computer, and then run the update. At times your data would be wiped during the update, so you needed to first run a backup before running an update.

Tech Outlet - Updates for Everything Asante Afrika
CD Driver Pack

Now you can just click a button and the update will be downloaded and installed while you grab yourself a coffee. By the time you get back, everything will still be where it was, and maybe your device will have a pretty new look too.

Why updates are important?

What is the purpose of updates anyway? To understand updates, one needs to understand that the more complex something is, the more points of failure there are – but on the flip side, the more versatile that something is. Updates look at both these aspects.

Points of failure usually fail due to bugs in the system, which results in the software not producing an expected result. For example, you can click on the camera icon and the calendar opens instead. These are the bits that can be ironed out nicely with software updates. Some bug ‘fixes’ include making a device more efficient in terms of it being faster at executing tasks while using very little power.

Updates can also add new features to a device that may not have been there before. Your device can get a fresh new look with a User Interface redesign; it can get new camera software allowing it to take even more spectacular photos; it can get features allowing it to wirelessly connect to other devices, and also it allows you to enjoy the latest features in programs that will be installed in the device, for example some games will run on a computer if a software known as DirectX is updated to the latest version. Currently, the latest version is DirectX 12.

What can go wrong with updates?

As much as updates are recommended, there are times when things go wrong with updates. There is a Windows 10 update that was deleting files on people’s computers and most recently, iPhone users that have installed the iOS 14 update are experiencing overheating issues and their phones are noticeably slower too.

These are some of the risks involved with updates and it’s ironic how the only way of solving this is to run another update. This does eventually solve the issues, so it’s not that big of a deal but if it does turn into a big deal, then a repair center for the device can help solve it for you.

Crazy stuff that is now getting updates

Traditionally only computing devices were eligible for updates but tech has improved so much that even the most rudimentary devices are now becoming smarter. Speakers can now answer questions and tell you the weather; fridges can now browse the internet and your car can now talk with your house.

Tech Outlet - Updates for Everything Asante Afrika
Smart Fridge

All these at some point will need to get software updates to improve their performance over time as well as to add more features to make them more useful. Devices, in general, can now do a lot more than they could just 10 years ago to the point where earphones also get software updates. What a time to be alive.

Weird stuff that will soon be getting updates

It does not seem like this craze will stop anytime soon. It’s very possible that in the future, items we considered dumb like laptop and smartphone chargers, will also be getting software updates.

The fight for one charger for your smartphone, laptop, tablet, portable gaming console, earphones, and smartwatch is on. This will mean that this charger needs to be smart enough to know how much power to supply whatever device that it’s connected to, and that’s going to be a smart charger.

The same goes for eyewear, backpacks, caps, and jackets. They will soon have smart features that will most likely demand some updates. Imagine that. A future where clothes are getting software updates. Both scary and exciting!

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Careers

Women in STEM – Marie-Ange Akaga Assonouet

I think that it’s important for parents to discuss career choices with their kids, to advise them based on their own experience and guide them as much as they can.

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Women in STEM - Marie-Ange Akaga Assonouet Asante Afrika
Marie-Ange Akaga Assonouet
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Gabon, a central African country, is rich in natural resources. Located on the Atlantic Ocean, it borders Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo. It is sparsely populated, with a population of 2 million as of 2017 and forests covering 85% of its territory. It is in this small country where a smart and gifted young lady was born and named Marie-Ange, which is translated to Mary-Angel. Serene, diplomatic, astute and wise, are just a few words to describe our ‘Women in STEM’ September feature. We caught up with her and got to find out more about her education and career choices.

You have a very interesting job at a very prestigious financial institution. Can you tell us what your job entails?

I am currently working in a sub-regional banking institution as “chef de service” (Head of Service) of the Communication Unit in Yahoundé, Cameroon. I organise and execute the institution’s external and internal communication for our branches which are in a number of countries across Central Africa.

How did you manage to secure such a high profile job?

First of all, I am a Christian and I feel blessed to work where I work. I followed a multi-phase entrance process (application, written and oral tests, and then interview) and was successful. I then did a 10-month training programme in between headquarters based in Cameroon and Central African countries. I got the job at the end of the training phase. It was quite an adventure and I really enjoyed the experience!

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

I must admit that I like working in the banking sector and particularly for an African institution, as it is a key sector for our countries’ development. I also like the fact that my work gives me the opportunity to represent the institution and inform the public about the work that we do. I appreciate the community aspect of the company. It implies taking into account the environment, habits and realities of each Member-State and it gives me a global perspective.

Finally, I’ve learned more about economics, monetary policies, finance and many more subjects related to the banking sector and I’ve found it really interesting.

Before you moved to Cameroon, you were working in Gabon. Can you tell us more about your job there and what it entailed?

I was working in the communication department of an agency in charge of coordinating the execution of Publics Work’s projects on behalf of the government. At that time, my country was engaged in many major infrastructure projects (roads, bridges, dams, stadiums and so much more). The agency was in charge of supervising those projects for the Ministry working with contractors, “bureaux d’études techniques” (Technical Design Office) and other stakeholders.

The Communication team was in charge of presenting our projects and their benefits to the public from beginning to end, as well as the benefits and perspectives for the country. I was working on external communication which included production of documentation (presentations, press releases and advertorials), liaising with the media and organising events.

What is life like in Gabon and what are the differences between living in Gabon and living in Cameroon? Which country do you prefer living and working in?

Well, I was born and raised in Gabon. I have my entire family and friends there. I can say that life there is what I have always known. I have my favourite landmarks there and therefore I like it a lot! Consequently, it was particularly nice to go back home and work in my country after my studies. I liked my job mainly because it allowed me to get involved in projects pertaining to the development of Gabon.

Working in Cameroon is undeniably very different. I had to discover and learn a lot of things about the country, as well as learn about Cameroonians’ ways of living. I have been living here for a couple of years now and I have found my marks. Working in a regional institution has also allowed me to see the bigger picture, to think from a community of many states’ perspectives and to adapt my work in accordance. I like it and I like my job.

Of course I will always prefer working close to my family and friends, but working in Cameroon has helped me grow as a person and as a professional.

Women in STEM - Marie-Ange Akaga Assonouet Asante Afrika
Marie-Ange Akaga Assonouet

You completed both your Undergraduate and Postgraduate education at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Can you tell us more about your tertiary academic journey?

I got my Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, and then a Postgraduate Diploma in Management specialising in Marketing and Communication from UCT. Prior to joining UCT, I studied English. It was compulsory as French is my first language and I did my primary and secondary studies in that language. After my English studies, I passed the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam, one of UCT’s requirements for French-speaking applicants.

You mentioned that your parents convinced you that if you wanted to have a good job and make it in life, you must study Computer Science because I.T was the next big thing. Were you personally keen on studying Computer Science or you had another programme that you were passionate about which you would have rather done?  

I did not really want to major in Computer Science. I did not study that subject in high school, therefore I did not know what to expect. I have always liked science so I wanted to study something in line with Biology or Chemistry. However, when deciding on my major, my parents advised me to choose a promising field like computer science. I.T was the ‘it’ thing in my country at that time and I have always been adventurous and eager to discover new things; so I applied for a BSc in computer science like my parents wanted, rather than Biology or Chemistry.

What modules did you focus on for your undergrad degree in Computer Science?

You’re taking me way back (laughs). I studied programming in Java, C++, MySQL, and I also did the following modules; Database Management, Operating Systems, Networking, Problem Solving, Algorithms (Brute force, Divide & Conquer, etc.). I also did Programming in different environments (Microsoft and Linux). Those are the ones that I remember (laughs).

Computer science can be a very difficult and stressful programme. What challenges did you face during your studies? What encouraged you to keep on pushing till the end?

My biggest challenge was the fact that I had not studied computer science in high school but it was my major. Therefore I had a heavy programme meant for students who already had good knowledge of the subject. This meant that I had to spend twice as much time learning the basics and trying to understand the concepts, but mainly to practice, practice, practice! To improve in coding, you have to program day and night. That’s the only way to learn and to master the technique.  I remember now how I felt at that time; it was like I was forever studying and practicing and doing nothing else.

I told myself that I would not quit so I worked hard and battled until I graduated. Actually, once I got my degree I was so glad and so chuffed that I made it (laughs).

Being a Francophone national, did you face any language barriers during your studies at UCT and if yes, how did you overcome them?

I definitely faced language barriers while at UCT. My biggest challenge was the fact that I had to learn the language in about 6 months and be fluent enough to comprehend tertiary level English. At the beginning I was struggling to understand entire lectures. I couldn’t understand everything so I had to read notes and books to fill in the blanks. Of course at that time my dictionary was my best friend. Fortunately, with time, my English improved. Like with many things, practice makes perfect!

Why did you choose to shift your focus from technology to communications for your postgrad qualification?

I graduated but I didn’t wish to work in this field my entire life. I found that programming was “machine orientated” so I didn’t see myself being a programmer. I felt like I wanted to interact with people more than with my computer.  I needed a job where I could meet more people, talk more, travel more and organise events or activities. Working in my current field allows me to do all of that.

You then chose a career in communications; what is it that you enjoy the most in your field?

I am a very talkative person so I find myself doing the right job which I absolutely enjoy. As I said previously I enjoy interacting with people, discussing and learning from that process. I like the aspect of informing audiences what comes with institutional communication.  I enjoy learning about each sector of the company as communication requires transversal knowledge and acts as a relay of information. I also appreciate my current position which affords me the opportunities to get involved in institutional processes on a national or even regional level.

How has the knowledge and skills gained from your first degree been useful in your chosen career path?

During my programming years, I learnt the following; first of all, you must persevere – as a programmer you have to continuously work on coding, testing and problem solving. You have to keep trying and keep debugging until your program works. Secondly, you must think out of the box – you have to think out of the box to find solutions. Often, new ways of doing things come up with new concepts and that will help you to improve your solution. Finally, it is important to have a method of operation – you have to be organised and disciplined when programming.

You are as passionate about Career Guidance as we are. What advice would you give to parents who do not want their children to follow their dreams and do courses that they are passionate about, but would rather have their children doing courses of their choosing?   

Firstly, I believe that parents want what’s best for their children. However, things have changed a lot. There are no longer certain study fields that guarantee a job at the end. Children can have a good job and a beautiful career in the field they embrace and they will be happier doing what they like. Therefore I think that it’s important for parents to discuss with their kids, to advise them based on their own experience and guide them as much as they can. But when children have decided what they want to do, it is important for parents to respect theirs choices.

You are a successful black woman at a prestigious institution in Africa. What advice would you give to young Africans who would like to get to where you are one day?

Well, that’s a tough one!

First of all, I still consider that I have so much to do and so many challenges to tackle so that advice will also be relevant to me. First of all, work hard because opportunity or luck cannot compensate hard work. Your hard work will definitely pay off. Secondly, be convinced but even better, be passionate about what you do. It will help you to stay focused during hard times. Thirdly, it is okay to fall – just don’t stay on the ground forever. Stand up and carry on.  Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself! Acknowledge your very little accomplishments; you deserve it.

I would also like to emphasise the potential of Africa. The current economic situation is not so good but we can change things. Let us not lose hope. I am a real Afro-optimistic. There are so many areas to explore here and the future belongs to our continent. We need to become leaders and also raise new generations of leaders who will want to work and unleash Africa’s potential.

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

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Lifestyle

Mercedes Benz AMG G63 in all its Glory

The Geländewagen, particularly the monstrous version from Affalterbach, is the dream ride for almost everyone; from hardcore ‘Petrolheads’ such as myself, to contemporary fashionistas who only pose for pictures on Instagram.

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Mercedes Benz AMG G63 in all its Glory Asante Afrika
Mercedes Benz AMG G63

Car Torque with “The Real KennyMas”

Mercedes Benz AMG G63 in all its Glory Asante Afrika
Black Mercedes Benz AMG G63

When you think of the word ‘legendary’, what comes to mind? If you are in this part of the world you are likely to think up the name Madiba. The name commands such a presence, you literally get chills when you remember the man to whom the name belongs, even though the man left the land of the living almost seven years ago. The word ‘legendary’ can also be used to describe a certain mechanical masterpiece in the same breath. The mechanical masterpiece in question evokes uhmm, at least to me, the same emotions that the memories of President Rholihlahla Mandela evoke in many people all over the world. The Mercedes Benz G Class casts an unmistakable shadow on the automotive world that you would have to be Stevie Wonder to miss it. The Geländewagen, particularly the monstrous version from Affalterbach, is the dream ride for almost everyone; from hardcore ‘Petrolheads’ such as myself, to contemporary fashionistas who only pose for pictures on Instagram.

The G Class Mercedes did not start out its life as the posh luxury vehicle that we all know and love today. Like Comrade Mandela, the Geländewagen was forged by the scourge of war. The vehicle started out as a military vehicle manufactured by Magna Steyr under license from Mercedes Benz in 1972. Much like the luminary Madiba’s transition into life after war, the civilian G class only emerged seven years later in 1979, to arise as one of the world’s most desirable luxury boxes, just as capable on the city streets as it is in the jungle with its unmistakable boxy look designed for military efficiency. The car is so majestic that even former Popes have used it in the past.

“The vehicle started out as a military vehicle manufactured by Magna Steyr under license from Mercedes Benz in 1972.”

It’s only in 1993 that Affalterbach chose to get involved with the Geländewagen in the guise of the 500 GE 6.0 AMG. This vehicle later evolved over several years into the 2020 G63 AMG which stubbornly retains its original shape, albeit minor modern modifications, much like the vaunted Porsche 911.

The newest version of the AMG G Class Mercedes is a formidable brute whose abilities defy established laws of Physics. One would be forgiven for thinking that the whip is from an alternate universe. The 2020 G63 AMG propels its heft via a 577 horsepower handcrafted 4.0 Litre bi-turbo V8 engine so rapidly that it will put most supercars to shame. Even more so, because the car’s aerodynamics should not allow it to go that fast. You get the impression that it’s all out of sheer willpower, which is not surprising given its bullet riddled childhood. Power is transferred to the road via beefy 20-inch 10 spoke rims but 21- and 22-inch rims are available at an additional cost. The G63 retains the side exhausts which produce a range of noises from the guttural burble at low revs to the spirited growl when the beast is at full throttle. The interior gets plusher with leather from the finest cows and aluminium bits that might blind you in the sun. The chunky bits in the car do remind you that this car is also a bundu basher and not just a luxury cruiser like, say a Cadillac Escalade. Festooned with the most up-to-date MBUX system, the G63 has all the latest Merc. gadgets and it can be spec’d even more to your heart’s content.

Overally, the G63 AMG has the legendary status much like Nelson Mandela. Both entities started out in the harsh realities of war and became more sedate and more civil in the later part of their lives. Mandela can only now be accessed via old recordings and memories. However, the G63 AMG is much, much more accessible – provided you have R 3 207 480 burning a hole in your pocket. It is money well spent I assure you!

Mercedes Benz AMG G63 in all its Glory Asante Afrika
Mercedes Benz AMG G63 in all its Glory Asante Afrika
Mercedes Benz AMG G63 in all its Glory Asante Afrika

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