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iStudent Academy Team 3rd in South Africa for Programming Competition

iStudent Academy entered two teams into the 2017 GovTech Hackathon – a SITA and governent sponsored event taking place at the ICC in Durban, KZN. The Hackathon brief was that each team had to submit a proposal for an ICT solution to resolve a socio-economic issue within South Africa.

 

The categories for teams included scholars, tertiary students, tertiary lecturers, government employees and SITA employees – essentially they were competing against working coders. They all competed for the main podium prizes of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, for which the prize money was R30 000, R20 000 and R10 000 respectively.

 

We had two teams that entered, which were from Pietermaritzburg and Durban Campus. Pietermariztburg submitted the successful proposal for an online budgeting platform, to help South Africans manage their funds efficiently. Off they went to #GovTechZA!

 

Our Team consisted of 5 learners, all in 1st year Programming studies –

  1. Sachin Devdath
  2. Nhlanhla Shabangu
  3. Sheldon Venter
  4. Nikshay Polibaldi
  5. Zander Groenewald

 

Our students worked extremely hard to complete their application, coding through the night at the ICC. In total, they coded for 21.5 hours.

 

In total, 17 teams took part in the Hackathon, consisting of programmers from I.T departments in companies, tertiary students and lecturers.

 

Our team placed 3rd overall in the Hackathon for thier app, BudgetMe, taking home a R10 000 prize.

 

In second place was a SITA team of working programmers.

 

In first place was DUT Masters lecturers team.

 

We are extremely proud of these students who have studies programming for less than a year with us, and who managed to rank 3rd in South Africa against big names and stiff competition.

 

Check out thier app at http://www.budgetmer.co.za

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Programming or Networking?

Decisions decisions! A common question we hear from students, and understandably so. The end goal of studying tertiary qualifications is to get a job, right? So, what we should be doing as young, eager minds is investigating what future employers might want us to have!

 

“But how will I do this O’wise iStudent??”

We suggest going on to job advertising websites, such as PNET, Career Junction and Job Mail. Here, you will get an idea of what the various job titles are paying, what skills are most common and where more jobs are available.

 

Since we have started our Career Development Programme, which aims to assist our graduates in job placements, there are a few things that we can say we have noticed. It is that employers are looking for students with Microsoft Certifications, or at least the knowledge thereof.

We have further noticed that employers are desperate for people with an understanding of BOTH Programming and Networking.

Lastly we have noticed that I.T Project Managers get paid decent cash!

 

“So, what is Programming? ”

It is the learning of a code or language that the computer can interpret and understand. The code produces certain outputs and functions, and the combination of many lines of code results in a functioning website, program, application etc.  There are many different programming languages or codes that can be used to create different things – for example, HTML and CSS are predominantly used in Web Development.

 

“What is Networking?”

This is the study of the parts of computers, where they go, what they do and how they communicate with each other. It involves having extensive knowledge of computer, programmes, servers and how we connect them all together. There is also an important security element that needs to be learned in Networking, to keep our data and information, or that of our clients, secure.

 

“So why do businesses want us to know about both?”

While it is amazing in it’s own right to be a fully fledged Programming or Networking professional, and it can and will get you very far in life, there is no harm in being able to do both. Businesses these days want to employ and promote individuals who can take on more than one job description, to save on salary bills. Any senior person in a management position can only really manage a person efficiently if they are able to understand and do that persons job – otherwise how will they be able to guide them?

 

For these reasons, it is easy to see that a lot of success can come from a career in either Programming or Networking, but the chances are higher of a more senior position if you know both. If you prefer programming, you can still work in programming only – but the networking will always be a back up, and vice versa!

That is why we introduced our Diploma in I.T Engineering. It includes both I.T Programming and Networking , as well as a Project Management module, so that our graduates have ALL of the skills to work in the ICT Industry, manage their time, their team and their projects better than the rest!

 

5 Series that a geeks gotta watch!

The word geek has a certain stigma attached to it. In the past, being a geek or nerd was not necessarily a good thing. You know what I say? Today, being a geek is a goal.Rock them geeky glasses. Geeks are the top of the food chain. Like coconut oil.

r4aw3pe

Got PC problems? Call a geek. Need a laugh? Call a geek. Can’t level up? Call your favorite geek!

You not buying it? Well, while coconut oil clearly has the world convinced of it’s use to cure bankruptcy, here are 5 TV series that may convince you that geeks are the coconut oil of humanity.

  1. Silicon Valley

The plot line is centered around the adventures of a Software Development Team of 6 young men, who have a startup company in Silicon Valley. They develop a music app that has a ground breaking data compression algorithm incorporated into it, that investors and companies alike try to buy out and mimic. The crew go from triumph to tribulation, rich to poor, but keep it humorous and entertaining, while still intellectually enticing, throughout.

2. The Big bang Theory

Even the person with no interest in technology and science can enjoy The Big Bang Theory, and that’s probably why it has run for 10 seasons already! The show is centered primarily around 5 main characters, four of whom are super socially awkward and geeky, and the other, Penny, who plays the hot girl from across the hall. The adventures of the cast and the plot is made much more interesting purely by the characters, their witty comebacks and their intellectually challenging conversations.

3. The I.T Crowd

I was super sad to discover that there were only 4 seasons of this series! It’s hilarious though so definitely worth it. This British produced sitcom is set in a London office, and the plot is centered around an I.T support department consisting of 2 geeks (Moss and Roy), and their department head, Jen, who knows nothing about I.T but pretends unconvincingly. Their usually chaotic shenanigans are A grade comedy entertainment!

4. Mr. Robot

This series is centered around super intelligent cybersecurity officer, Elliot. He is a Programmer turned hacker who suffers from social anxiety and depression, and has joined the fight against the system by hacking and erasing consumers debt. Whilst not entertaining on a humorous level, the series is intriguing, as it delves into Elliot’s thoughts and connections with people through technology and hacking.

5. Heroes

Super hero and villain synopsis, with a plot that keeps twisting and leaving you wondering what’s happening with your favorite hero! The series follows the lives of normal humans with superhuman powers, called Evos. With every hero comes villainy, and the fight against evil combined with the inventive and exciting super powers that the creators have thought up, makes for a good Netflix day.

Well, there we go. This is 5 series I would recommend for the geeky at heart.

Image result for watch series all day meme

How do I know if it’s a scam?

Seriously, few things are more annoying than having your email inbox flooded with dodgy emails pretending to be something they aren’t. My Junk Mail needs to be emptied constantly, with messages saying “My Dearest Friend, let’s connect”  or ” I live in the USA  and I have $900,000,000,000 to invest and your surname is the same as my second uncle’s cousin twice removed, so we won’t get caught, let’s do it, swing me your bank details and I will make the deposit, I swear, it’s legit!”

Facebook comments from your friend on your post all like “Om.G ChecK Out H0W I Lost 10 PouNDs ——>>” followed by a totally legit looking link, usually with “bit.ly” existing somewhere in it’s content.

Now, this leads me to writing this somewhat satirical piece of literature – I know, if any of you are like me, you trash those emails straight away, and you don’t click the link for fear of strange advice being posted to Facebook friends on weight loss  (really dangerous topic to advise people on by the way, I have literally seen a comment “SO YOU THINK I’M FAT!”) but the reality is that some people DO fall for it, or the scamsters and trolls would not keep it up.

Some scams are better than others, they look so legit, the banks have to back themselves promising they won’t ask you to confirm your info via SMS or Email. My latest fave is the SARS scam – you get an email stating you’re owed a refund of a couple thousand from SARS and you click the link and BOOM.. but then DOOM. When I got that, I was like “Yay money”, then I was like “hold up, SARS wouldn’t even pay me back my 50c I overpaid them”.

Others are not necessarily vindictive in nature, but aim for the person to share a link on social media just to get viral hits or make them look a wee bit silly.

So how do we recognize a scam? (These are basic and easy warning signs.)

  1. Anybody calling you “My Dearest”
  2. Really bad English and grammer – dead giveaway
  3. Any email saying they are a bank or other financial institution
  4. Anyone offering you free money
  5. If anywhere on the documentation it mentions Western Union – DODGE
  6. Weird email addresses – like absa.accounts@gmail.com
  7. Any requests to follow a link to confirm personal details
  8. Dodgy looking links – like http://e-dlogs.rta.mi.th:84/www.irs.gov/
  9. A Facebook post telling you to share it to get some vouchers or more free stuff
  10. A Facebook post telling you to share it and magically the image will change or some nonsense

 

So what can happen if we click these links or give away information? There is no telling what sort of evil is lurking in these links – sometimes they have a virus that can get into your PC after opening the link, which can take usernames and passwords, or other personal and contact information. It really is better to avoid these links entirely and stay alert – some hackers are very good at what they do, and the email that looks like a banks email, with a link, may take you to what we call a phishing site – it takes you to a website that looks almost identical to the ordinary website. Then they make you login to what would apparently be your account, but is in fact a scam site that logs what you put in the username and password boxes.

Here is a link to see how Facebook scams work:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/bakit-kailangan-pang-kumuha-ng-subject-na-hindi-naman-related-sa-course/facebook-scam-links-annoying-and-dangerous-by-missouri-st-information-security/10150304058060760/

HAHAHAHA if you clicked that you failed the lesson.

Just kidding. It’s a real link, kinda looks dodgy, but it’s an article I swear!

 

 

Personal Best 5 Apps 2016

 

I find it so interesting to look at someone else’s phone. Like, how do you categorize your apps into folders? Are you the “just let them all float around” kind or, like me, the painfully organized “every app must have a folder” kind?

What app’s exist on your device? I think it’s stock standard to assume the regular Social Media App’s take preference on the home page of most of our devices these days – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp seem to be up there with the most popular.

There are a few app’s that I sit and think to myself “how did this person think of such a great idea?”, and other times I’m like “there should totally be an app for this”, and most times there is!

So here are my Top 5 apps for 2016, that I find innovative, popular, useful and really well maintained.

1.Zapper

OOH YES. Love me some Zapper. This app is homegrown too, locally developed in South Africa, and is taking the world by storm. The app is essentially a QR Scanner, loaded on to the mobile device, where the user authenticates themselves, creates an online profile, saves their credit card information, and can use the app to effortlessly pay bills at restaurants and stores, or pretty much anywhere that the business can display the QR code, such as at a club or park for an entrance fee. One simply scans the code, indicates a tip amount (if applicable) and VOILA, payment made. No more waiting. The payment is communicated back to the merchant instantly.

2. Uber

It’s another goodie! Uber is an app in which the user also loads a profile with payment details, and it then picks up the users location. The user can then order a cab/taxi/ride, to pick them up from their location and drop them off a the stipulated venue, at the press of a few buttons. The app will estimate the cost of the ride, tell you what vehicle will be fetching you, the drivers name, picture, car license plate and how long it will be until they are at your door. The payment is cashless. At any given time, there are several Uber Cab’s in a lot of the main area’s, so there is rarely a delay!

3. Strava

I am a fitness junkie, so this app for me is a winner. It is essentially a running, cycling and swimming tracker. The free version offers a lot of functionality, including tracking your run/cycle using your mobile (obviously you have to take it with you), the route, the pace, distance etc. The awesome part comes in when it keeps the history of said routes (known on Strava as a segment) and any time you run or cycle the route again, it compares your efforts instantly, making you chase personal bests and beat your previous efforts. You can also follow your friends or favorite athletes to see what training they are up to, give Kudo’s to your mates on a job well done, and even compete with them on segments for a better ranking on that particular segment. Strava hails Queen and King of the Mountain, an honorable title to hold on any segment, until another Strava user smashes your record.

4. Shazam

4 guys came up with this goldmine of an app, and it has been around since as far back as 2012. Basically, Shazam is an app we can use to identify the artist and title of a song we hear and we like. Shazam uses a smartphone or computer’s built-in microphone to listen to a brief section of the song being played. It creates an acoustic fingerprint based on the sample and compares it against a central database for a match. If it finds a match, it sends information such as the artist, song title, and album back to the user. The user can usually link straight up to their mobile store to download the song.

5. MyFitnessPal

OK, I know, another fitness related app. But you don’t have to be a fitness junkie for this one. I really believe that this app can help anyone who is on a journey to a healthier lifestyle. The app is a caloric intake and output tracker. It starts by getting your basic info, and then estimating the amount of calories you should be eating per day. You use it as a food diary to track exactly what is in your meals – you simply search the food or item (yes, I have searched for McDonalds junior cheeseburger, and it has it) and it will tell you how much that meal takes up of your daily “allowance”, to help you stay on track with your weight loss. If you’re into it, you can further track your macronutrient intake (proteins, fats and carbs), to see what is working for your body, or to keep you looking HAWT. You can load the exercise or activity you did for the day, and it will then give you a couple extra calories to consume for the day. It allows you to track weight loss, and gives you an estimate after you submit each day, on how much closer to your goal you would be if you kept up the hard work!

So these are my best app’s for 2016. I haven’t included 9GAG because that’s self explanatory.

Chances are there is an app for the things you’re interested in. Got another awesome one I should check out? Let me know!

Private VS Public Tertiary studies – Pro’s and Con’s

I read a lot. A lot of Harry Potter if I’m honest (seriously, I must have read each of the 7 books 7 times each, and I’m not even mildly embarrassed. 7 is the most powerful magical number). But I also read articles pertaining to the industry I work in. I always find myself thinking back to the time when it was my turn to make a career choice. What do I choose? How do I go about it? What are my options? I wish I had something to make it all easier. So that’s why I have put together some comparative data herein.

PUBLIC Tertiary Studies: Universities, Universities of Technology etc.

  1. South Africa has 26public, state funded Universities with a total capacity of about 900 000 learners, across all 9 provinces. UNISA is the largest, accommodating 400 000 students through correspondence learning.
  2. A variety of faculties and qualifications on offer.
  3. Acceptance criteria is more strict, due to the space limitations, limited number of students they can accept per programme each year. You have to apply early to stand a chance.
  4. Cheaper, as it is state funded
  5. Higher drop out rate than private, for reasons such as more people, social impacts on studies, being accepted for a second or third career choice and therefore not enjoying it.
  6. Standard of education – some Universities are portrayed as great, while others not so much. To the rest of the world, we are considered to have a third world education system, so our International compatibility is not so hot.
  7. Student Accommodation – this is also of varying standards, strikes have broken out over res availability, conditions, cost etc
  8. Student safety – On top of the normal crime we have to deal with in South Africa, such as petty theft, hijackings etc, we now have the additional worry of student strikes not only affecting student safety but also the time spent on campus learning.
  9. Facilities – some good, some not so much. I am referring to libraries, internet accessibility, classroom facilities, laboratories, and other infrastructure like restrooms and social areas.
  10. Social – universities generally have a lot going on socially which is great. If you are not a party animal, then there is probably a more relaxed option too.
  11. Sport – public education has the benefit of a large variety of sports or cultural activities that learners can take part in, and this is viable due to the large amount of students.

 

PRIVATE Tertiary Studies: Private institutions

  1. There are approximately 800 registered private education providers, but the stats on capacity are a bit shady
  2. A variety of faculties and qualifications on offer, but a lot of private providers choose to specialize in one sector or area – such as tourism, culinary, I.T etc. Contrary to popular thoughts, private institutions offer the exact same standard of education as any public university, and have to pass the same quality assurance criteria to become accredited, and the curriculum is also re-approved regularly.
  3. Acceptance is generally easier because private institutions run more like a business, where they have to market themselves and work to get students enrolled. A university markets itself. Qualifying criteria is generally less strict.
  4. More expensive because it is privately owned
  5. Lower drop out rate to public – this comes with having fewer students of course, but it can’t be denied that the social impact on studies is less, so students are more likely to pass, as well as the more individual attention that the students are able to get in class, all contributes to learners being able to achieve more. They are also more likely to have chosen the career that was their first choice, and therefore work hard to achieve it.
  6. Standard of Education – same as public. Some are great and some not so much! Since it is the same curriculum,you are looking at a similar standard between the two, but private institutions have the added benefits, because they have the flexibility to align themselves with international partners, such as an I.T College partnering with Microsoft. This affects the price of the studies too, because it’s not cheap to be accredited internationally. This improves the international comparibility of the Qualification. The smaller classes provides more individual attention, and ability to manage students easily.
  7. Student accommodation – some private institutions do have campus accommodation and it is generally of a good standard. However, most do not have this luxury, and students therefore go into private res, digs, or other student accommodation, which can be more expensive.
  8. Student Safety – the normal day to day crime is always a threat, but in a smaller environment, the theft and other crime,or bullying and fighting is much more under control. Strikes are unlikely due to the lack of numbers, and the ability to sort issues out on a more personal basis.
  9. Facilities – some good, some not so much. Private is more likely to be able to maintain infrastructure due to smaller environments and the need to have a high standard to keep students coming back. Some may not have the luxury of things like on site libraries etc, but are able to provide Internet accessibility and additional support to students in other ways.
  10. Social can be a tough one for the smaller private institutions. However, a lot of institutions make an effort to do social get togethers for the students, such as a cooking school doing bake off’s, or an I.T school hosting a gaming day. It will be a social that brings the students together by appealing to their common interests.
  11. Sport can also be tough for smaller private institutions. Since they have smaller numbers and differing interests, it can be hard to have enough people for a team, or enough common interest in one sport, or even the venue to practice. Luckily, the option is always there to make an extra effort by sponsoring students to practice at an external or third party venue.

So there is some food for thought!

Good Luck with your decisions!

International Certifications and your I.T Career

There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the way to make the most out of studying a career in I.T.

When we visit schools telling people about our college (who graduates and places a fair amount of awesome and successful students, by the way), we often see a gap in the knowledge in terms of what international certifications even are. Students only seem to know that, once Matric is done with, I must get either a Certificate, Diploma or Degree, and then after the stipulated number of study years, I get to wear the black flowing robe of power and don the square-topped hat of glory to the ceremony of success, where I will receive my roll of parchment that will forever be testament to the years of studying, that marks the day in my life that I finally get to shut the textbooks for good.. OK so that’s slightly dramatic, but you get the just of it.

Is that Graduation Day really the end? The answer for the serious I.T guru is NAH.

Think about it. How often is a new technology released? Windows skipped from 8 to 10  in what seemed like the blink of my eyes. Could be because Windows 8 was not a public favorite, but still! (no Windows 9, ’cause 7 ate 9 HA!).

My point is, your studying probably won’t end at Graduation. The company you work for is allocated funding every year to spend on training you up on the latest available technologies, which are aimed to make businesses run more efficiently, automate procedures that were previously tedious tasks, and so on and so forth. That means that you will probably end up doing the certifications, or at least the training, at some stage of your career anyway!

So.. what does this mean for you when you’re choosing a place to study? Let’s break it down for you.

What Qualifications give you:

  1. Basic skills, and the standard textbook execution thereof.
  2. Some practical experience, but very often these are also at a basic level.
  3. At the end, an endorsement that you were able to stick to and pass a whole qualification, with the pass mar being around the 40% mark.

What International Certifications give you:

  1. More advanced skills, specific to certain commonly used products, services and software.
  2. Simulation exercises to simulate real world activities on the latest available services and softwares. These are very practical.
  3. A much higher pass mark, producing graduates with more skills, an endorsement that you can do some serious stuff.
  4. The opportunity to be considered of equal status anywhere in the world.

The combination of both of the above is the ideal profile for a candidate entering the working world. Recognition for your hard work will be rewarded to you anywhere in the world with these assets on your CV. No longer will we be damned by the idea that the South African Education Systems can’t produce intellectual legends. No longer will our qualifications alone be considered third world. Empower yourselves, and get a qualification that meets all the requirements!