Tag Archives: youtube

Learn about Mammals and Frogs with the Sasol Young Explorer App Software & Sites 25 JUN 2016

Penguin Random House contacted me and asked me to sit down with Jessica and have a go at the very nice Sasol Young Explorer Apps – of which there are currently two, namely Mammals and Frogs.

sasol young explorer app mammals android screenshot 1

The apps are multilingual, allowing you to switch between English, Afrikaans, IsiXhosa and IsiZulu on the fly, which opens up their use to quite a wide audience.

Each app is split into two main ‘sections’, a play area which includes a number of animal-themed mini games (for example, different sized puzzles and memory games), and a learning section, which is chock-a-block full of beautifully illustrated animals, each with their own info page, sound bite, and even video footage!

sasol young explorer app mammals android screenshot 2

The apps are well designed and very easy to use, and before long I found Jessica (with an observing Emily in tight next to her) quite independently sitting on the couch, giggling as she systematically made her way through all the animals and games.

sasol young explorer app mammals android screenshot 3

This is a pretty good animal resource for kids, and I can’t wait to have the Mammals edition along the next time we enter a game reserve with the girls – I suspect that they may finally have some use as useful game spotters! :P

Related Link: Sasol Young Explorer Apps | Google Play

The Play-Doh Town Pet Store Toys 24 JUN 2016

Oh. Hasbro has gone and expanded the Play-Doh universe by introducing Play-Doh Town, which I guess is aimed then at slightly older preschoolers. The concept is pretty cool – essentially you now have a host of townsfolk characters and locations to play with, which obviously is great because you now get to build stories in addition to just messing around with clay!


Thanks to a friendly blogger drop from Atmosphere, Jessica received the Pet Store play set to test out, which has a whole lot of moulds that allow you to press out animal shapes to fill the storefront up with. You can also create hairstyles and slippers for the pet store owner, as well as bunny ears for her companion rabbit.

It seems a pretty fun idea, especially if you have more of the sets in the Play-Doh Town series, and I can definitely see how this might make Play-Doh playtime a whole lot more fun!

hasbro play-doh town playsets

Related Link: Hasbro | Play-Doh Town

Xander: Educational Apps for Young Children Software & Sites 22 JUN 2016

Created by Stellenbosch-based app development house Tribage App Studio, Xander Apps are educational mobile apps aimed at promoting mother-tongue learning for young children – with apps built in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Swahili, and Tswana!

Fronted by the cute dinosaur mascot Xander, there are currently 3 main apps available:

(Oh, because my girls are English, and I mainly use Android, I’ll be referencing those versions in particular…)

Xander English 123 (Google Play)

“English 123 is an English educational app for young children that teaches numeracy using child-friendly counting beads and characters from the animal kingdom. Xander, the lovable narrator, guides your child through four learn-through-play activities involving vision, hearing and touch to teach them how to count to 10 in English.”

Xander English Shapes & Colours (Google Play)

“English Shapes and Colours is an English educational app for your children that teaches six basic shapes and the primary and secondary colours using age appropriate games. Here Xander guides your child through six learn-through-play activities involving vision, hearing and touch to teach them to identify shapes and colours.”

Xander English Wardrobe (Google Play)

“English Wardrobe is an English educational app for young children that teaches them the names (and pronunciation) for different body parts, clothing and weather.”

xander english 123 educational app screenshot

In general, the Xander apps are aimed at a younger target audience, though it is interesting to watch both Jessica and Emily get something quite different out of each app.

Anyway, check out their website for more on the team, what they do and how your children can benefit from their work!

Related Link: Xander Apps

How does an Airplane Black Box (Flight Recorder) Work? Science, Technology & Curiosity 20 JUN 2016

No one is 100% sure why we refer to airplane flight recorders as black boxes – considering the fact that they are almost always painted bright orange! It could be that maybe the name comes from the fact that after an accident, the box is usually blackened thanks to the fire damage, or perhaps it simply took on the engineering term for an input device which given some inputs, does some magic internally and then spits out something else.

However, despite the media’s preference for calling this device a black box, it is more correct to call it a flight recorder – after all, that’s how the aviation industry refers to it in the first place!

bright orange flight recorder airplane black box

Anyway, the media team over at Vox have put together a nice video explaining just how these data recorders are put together, as well as what data they store:

So, with cockpit audio recordings as well as numerous airplane instrument readouts stored, it is no wonder that flight recorders are so invaluable to investigators following an air disaster!

Related Link: Vox | YouTube

South Africans Zabroad: East West Launched! Travel Attractions 04 JUN 2016

If you are a South African with expat friends living overseas, or you find yourself calling another country home far away from sunny South Africa, then you’ll definitely love East West: South Africans Zabroad, a brand new YouTube-based travel show that focuses on talking to South Africans living on foreign soil and showing us just a little of what it means to live outside of our beautiful homeland.

(“South Africans Zabroad” – seriously, how can you not love just how clever that is!)

east west south africans zabroad screenshot 1

Lovingly pieced together over the course of three years by good friends Retha and Miguel Sanchez (the first a South African, the latter a Spaniard), who make it a habit of staying in other countries to teach language, East West interviews South Africans from all walks of life around the globe and depicts their daily lives against the backdrop of their adopted culture.

As the team themselves say, “East West wants to remind our community of that elusive “something” South Africans have – that thing that makes us embrace each other when we sing Nkosi Sikelel’, wear our flag with pride or attempt to make biltong with spices snuck in through customs, organize potjiekos competitions and bazaars with koeksisters and melktert, and being united by the motto: Where there’s a will, there’s a braai!

The first episode has just been dropped onto YouTube and it’s fantastic.

From the description: “Episode 1 of our web series about South Africans abroad. The seasons starts in South Korea where we meet Durban hip hop talent Blessing Majola and partner in rhyme Saul Goode. We enjoy truly South African food at Braai Republic and chat to Chris, Roddy and Louis about doing business in Korea. Korea House, Namdaemun market and Dongdaemun History and culture park is also on the menu.”

How awesome and catchy is that opening tune? Love it!

I can’t help but be proud of these two and their brilliant labour of love, and sincerely hope that everyone will do their best to make this spread like wildfire – because it certainly deserves to!

east west south africans zabroad screenshot 2

Related Link: East West Website | YouTube Channel | FaceBook

Why Some Countries are Rich while Others are Poor Science, Technology & Curiosity 29 MAY 2016

The question of why some countries are rich while others are poor is an interesting one, given that one often finds themselves wondering if they would be able to achieve more in their life, or perhaps not lead as comfortable a life, had they been born in a different country.

villagers and mud houses in china

The team from The School of Life YouTube channel have taken a shot at this question, putting forward quite a believable hypothesis that distills a country’s success based on three factors, namely the quality of their institutions, the culture they have, the natural resources they find and what latitude they’re on.

(Of course, the impact of colonialism or the actions of a controlling dictator shouldn’t be completely ignored, but for this hypothesis, these two human factors are set aside.)

Related Link: YouTube | The School of Life

The Paper Town Copyright Trap Science, Technology & Curiosity 01 MAY 2016

Producing things like maps, dictionaries, encyclopedias and the like take a lot of work if you do everything from scratch. Of course, you could cheat and just build off of someone else’s work, or simply copy them outright. To protect against this, some creators insert what is known as fictitious entries into their work, to act as literal copyright traps. In map making this process is often known as adding in Paper Towns.

Wendover Productions put together this great little video explaining this idea in a bit more detail:

It’s clever, I’ll give them that, but in the same breathe also a little annoying, particularly when you need to trust a map in getting somewhere – i.e. when you are desperately counting on that petrol station being there when you arrive!

paper cityscape

Related Link: Wikipedia | Mother Nature Network | Youtube

Hints of Evolution left behind in Your Body Science, Technology & Curiosity 05 APR 2016

Vox magazine sometimes puts together some pretty interesting, well made and informative videos that have absolutely nothing to do with politics or liberal America in general – like this one for instance in which they highlight some of the very peculiar anomalies in our bodies that seem to indicate some prior use case, i.e. an argument in favour of evolution.

I kind of agree with them on pretty much all of this:

On that note, the art of wiggling one’s ears still eludes me, no matter how much I try.


Related Link: Vox | YouTube

How do modern Vending Machines know what coins You put in? Science, Technology & Curiosity 23 MAR 2016

How do modern vending machines know what coins you’ve inserted? Well, according to this fantastic CG animated segment from the Science Channel, current day vending machines make use of a combination of light sensors to accurately measure the size of the coin being dropped in, and electromagnets to determine the metal type of the coin rolling past. Together this information provides the onboard computer with enough information to make a pretty accurate guess as to what coins have been inserted, allowing it to then calculate and distribute change if necessary.

A bonus for anyone who has ever had a fight with a vending machine before, modern machines detect whether or not an item has dropped into the retrieval chute by means of light beams – and if nothing has indeed dropped down, the computer simply tries again! (That would have saved me a LOT of frustration in my university days!)

Very clever.

vending machines

Related Link: Science Channel

Can YouTube run out of Video IDs? Science, Technology & Curiosity 22 MAR 2016

As you would have noticed by now if you regularly visit YouTube in a browser, each and every video has its own identifier, as seen by the string of letters and numbers at the end of every video URL (e.g. ?v=gocwRvLhDf8).

Technology speaker and tinkerer Tom Scott (whose videos I almost always find interesting) poses the question “Will YouTube Ever Run Out Of Video IDs?”, given the fact that last time Youtube mentioned stats, it was something ridiculous like 400 hours worth of content being uploaded per minute!

Theoretically of course you could, but practically it is near impossible. Plus, YouTube lengthened the odds even more in their favour by using base64 numbers as identifiers, which as Tom so succinctly explains, packs a lot of data in a really small string!

So no. Probably not then.
youtube logo

Related Link: Youtube | Tom Scott

How Does the Cue Ball Stay Separated from the Colour Balls? Science, Technology & Curiosity 17 MAR 2016

I enjoy the odd game of pool every now and then, and if you are the same, then you have undoubtedly at least once given thought as to how the white cue ball remains separated from the colour balls when it drops down a pocket.

As it turns out, the answer is quite a simple trick. Magnets.

Essentially the cue ball contains metal, which then thanks to the pull of a large magnet along the unseen ball tracks beneath the table, is thrown down its own special track each and every time it rumbles down a table pocket.

The Science Channel details this clever trick in their wonderfully animated explanation video:


colour balls for a game of pool

Related Link: Science Channel

How Tortilla Chips are Made Science, Technology & Curiosity 29 AUG 2015

I’m quite fond of Doritos Tortilla chips, so seeing how these crunchy triangles of flavour are made is pretty satisfying.


If you are not familiar with them at all, then: “A tortilla chip is a snack food made from corn tortillas, which are cut into wedges and then fried—or baked (alternatively they may be discs pressed out of corn masa then fried or baked). Corn tortillas are made of corn, vegetable oil, salt and water.

Although first mass-produced in Los Angeles in the late 1940s, tortilla chips were always considered to be a Mexican food, known as totopos and tostadas. Though usually made of yellow corn, they can also be made of white, blue, or red corn. Some manufacturers include many other ingredients including wheat, sugar, and MSG.”

doritos tortilla chips cool ranch

Related Link: Youtube | Wikipedia

Silent but Violent: Why are Silent Farts worse than Loud Farts Science, Technology & Curiosity 28 AUG 2015

Although embarrassing, loud, explosive farts are generally not that big a problem to deal with. Oh no, it’s those faint, almost unheard ones which cause the most anguish and eye watering.

(And thanks to the AsapSCIENCE team of Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown, now we all know why!)

Ah, that… explains a lot then.

Bull Fart Sculpture by Chen Wenling

Related Link: AsapSCIENCE | Youtube

How Gummy Bears are Made Science, Technology & Curiosity 16 AUG 2015

In case you skipped childhood and don’t know what a gummy bear is: “A gummy bear (which originated in Germany) is a small, fruit gum candy, similar to a jelly baby in some English-speaking countries. The candy is roughly 2 cm long and shaped in the form of a bear. The gummy bear is one of many gummies, popular gelatin-based candies sold in a variety of shapes and colors.”

Needless to say, as a kid, these things were awesome (and still are) to play with before gobbling up!

And now that we’re all grown up, it’s nice to know how gummy bears are actually made!

So, so much sugar.

pile of gummy bears

Related Link: Wikipedia | YouTube

How Stained Glass Patterns are Made Science, Technology & Curiosity 15 AUG 2015

I remember that my friend Terrance’s dad used to make beautiful stained glass patterns as a hobby, and although I doubt he still does to this day, the art of producing a stained glass piece remains something rather special.

The following video (from How Its Made) gives a great overview of the process of putting together a stained glass panel, showing how the pieces of glass are cut, combined with lead, and then soldered and finally puttied to leave us with the final product:

Clever. (Particularly that last part on how one adds shading to stained glass pieces!)

stained glass window created by Louis Comfort Tiffany in Arlington Street Church (Boston) depicting John the Baptist

Related Link: Youtube | Wikipedia