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Fri, 21 Jul 2017
Bitcoin prices back to near record highs after new mechanism to improve usa...

Bitcoin backers celebrated as the community embraced a new mechanism to improve usage and allow it to scale, boosting confidence in the virtual currency and sending prices back near record highs.

The community, which had been split on how best to make the cryptocurrency more manageable, rallied behind a code upgrade known as SegWit2x, which aims to increase the network’s transaction capacity. That fueled a rally on Thursday in bitcoin’s price against the dollar, which had plummeted from a peak in June as concerns grew about its future.

“We’re thrilled to get past this impasse,” said Andrew Lee, head of the Bitcoin-shopping startup, whose team celebrated with beers at their San Francisco office. The development opens “the doors to much-awaited innovations,” he said.

Bitcoin enthusiasts in New York and San Francisco, to Hong Kong and Tokyo, gathered in bars and offices to hold impromptu parties, while others took to Twitter and social media to cheer the move, as well as the price rally.

The impasse arose from a limit placed on the size of blocks underpinning the network in Bitcoin’s early days, in order to prevent hacker attacks. As the virtual currency grew in popularity over the past nine years, transaction times and processing fees soared, curtailing the community’s ability to process payments with the same efficiency as services like Visa Inc. Miners and developers were locked in a heated debate for years on how best to upgrade the software, culminating in the recent clash.

More than 93 percent of miners who function as the backbone of the digital tokens network locked in support for BIP91, the first necessary step in implementing SegWit2x, according to Coin Dance, a website tracking adoption. Bitcoin’s miners are independent groups that verify and process Bitcoin’s transactions by solving complex computational problems, in order to be rewarded by fees and creation of the digital currency.

SegWit2x is essentially a compromise between two main competing camps. One proposed a direct approach, seeking to increase the block size. The other, a group of developers known collectively as Core, pushed for a long-term solution by moving some data outside of the main network, a scheme called SegWit that had been resisted by miners because it also could diminish their influence. In the end, the miners agreed to adopt SegWit, but also increase the block size to 2 megabytes.

The upgrade isn’t final. The BIP91 lock-in has a grace period of about two days, during which miners will prepare to activate the software. It will then take about two weeks for SegWit to be fully adopted. Developers still warn about potential hacker attacks that could disrupt the process.

Then, three months from now, the community will face another challenge when some of the world’s biggest miners move to adopt the second phase of the proposal, the doubling of the block size. Still, many in the community agree that the hard part is over, with prices seen stabilising and strengthening.

“We do believe it will continue, now that we’ve gotten over this hump,” said Ryan Rabaglia, head trader at digital-trading company Octagon Strategy [...]

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Fri, 21 Jul 2017
OUTsurance launches new smartphone app

OUTsurance has launched a new mobile app alongside new functionality to its company website and a revised corporate identity.

According to a media statement by the company, the new OUTsurance mobile app will offer a number of new features including the ability to lodge a claim on the app or complete a windscreen claim without having to interact with the call centre.

Clients can now also cover a new item on their current facility by taking a photo of the new item using their smartphone, and can earn cash rebates off of your premium by referring friends and family to OUTsurance.

App users can furthermore refer friends and family to OUTsurance and earn cash rebates off their premium for doing so.

The app also offers a number of features for non-OUTsurance clients including the new SmartDrive telematics programme that tracks how well you drive as well as the emergency roadside and home assistance Help@OUT service to all registered app users.

You can download the app on both the Apple store and the Play store for android users.



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Wed, 19 Jul 2017
Incentive to support black filmmakers

The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) will spend R100 million to support emerging black filmmakers.

“The dti will spend R100 million to support emerging black filmmakers through the South Africa Emerging Black Filmmakers Incentive by the end of March 2018,” said the department’s Director of Film Production Nelly Molokoane.

Molokoane was speaking at the Emerging Black Filmmakers Workshop at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) that is currently underway. The workshop was targeted at emerging film producers who want to access the incentive scheme.

The incentive scheme has managed to support 40 projects of emerging filmmakers as part of the R100 million budget.

Molokoane said that in terms of finalising those projects and productions, producers still find it difficult accessing additional funds to close their projects due to financial constraints.

She said the department has now partnered with the Industrial Development Cooperation (IDC), National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and provincial film commissions to assist filmmakers.

“The scale of projects has been increasing since the inception of the scheme in 2014. The department approved 15 applications, thereafter it increased to 40 over a period of three years. Partnership with these institutions will yield positive results in the near future and we will see more productions being supported. We are planning to host intense workshops in various provinces to assist filmmakers’ access this support,” said Molokoane on Sunday.

She added that the workshop at the DIFF was hosted so as to assist those that need training on the incentive scheme and its guidelines. The workshop was also aimed at educating producers on crucial information needed by the dti if one wants to access the funding.

Beneficiary of the incentive, as well as director of the Marikana documentary “Miners Shot Down”, Rehad Desai, said the scheme was the most important development for the South African film industry.

“We are seeing far more films being produced since the launch of the scheme and this means funding of projects happens in a short space of time and one can go into production quicker. This also means our production companies are becoming sustainable,” said Desai.

The DIFF, which is an annual film festival that takes place in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, is one of the oldest and largest film festivals in Southern Africa. The DIFF, which will run until 23 July, presents over 200 screenings celebrating the best in South African, African and international cinema. –




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