11 July

Stuart Marais & The Big 5

Stuart Marais is dominating the men’s category at the Pick ‘n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival Big Five Sport Challenge this year, with a score of 3831 out of 5000 for the first four events. In second place is Andrew Houston with 3528 points, followed by Kent Horner with 3474 points. The final event will take place on Saturday, before the medals and R35 000 in prize money is bestowed at the Award Ceremony.

 

Photo by Jacques Marais: Stuart Marais leading at the Big Five Challenge

Photo by Jacques Marais: Stuart Marais leading at the Big Five Challenge

 

“I come to Knysna every year for the Oyster festival,” says Marais, “It is a great way to get started again with my training after my mid-year break. The competition is often very tough and difficult to call on the longer days. I am happy to be in the lead and look forward to building in it throughout the week.”

 

This is the fifth year of the Big Five Sport Challenge, taking place from the 5th to 13th July, 2014. The Big Five has fast become one of South Africa’s more renowned multi-sport challenges, testing the endurance and skills of all participating athletes.

 

“The festival-long challenge will have you cycling and running on both the road and breath taking trails, as well as paddling or swimming on the Knysna estuary as you prove yourself worthy of the title athlete.” – Magnetic South, the organizers of The Big Five.

 

Photo by Peter Kirk: Stuart Marais cycling at the Big Five Challenge

Photo by Peter Kirk: Stuart Marais cycling at the Big Five Challenge

Mens Podium for the Totalsport XTERRA Event.

Mens Podium for the Totalsport XTERRA Event.

Photo by Peter Kirk: Stuart Marais in the lead.

Photo by Peter Kirk: Stuart Marais in the lead.

 

Marais, aged 29 and sponsored by RSAWEB, did South Africa proud in June 2014 when he took the gold in his first Ironman 70.3 in Pescara, Italy, finishing in an amazing 3:48:49. Having achieved top scores in the first four events of the Big Five, namely the 80km Mountain Bike race, the Dragons Lagoon mile Swim, the 14km Trail Run, and the Totalsports XTERRA, Marais is proving worthy of the winning the Big Five title.

 

“Coming off a win in Europe is very good for my race confidence,” says Marais, “I have been working hard on my bike and run and so the Big Five is a nice way to showcase the work I have been putting in. This is a good build week for me as I start my preparations for 70.3 World Champs, taking place in Canada in early September.”

 

You can stay in the loop of all Big Five results by visiting the Oyster Festival’s Big Five Challenge Results page, or by following Team RSAWEB on Facebook or Twitter.

10 July

Future Tech: The Oculus Rift & 3D Business Breakthroughs

It was by blog post on the 25th of March, 2014, that Facebook announced their agreement to purchase Oculus VR for over R21 Billion, compiled of approximately R4,2 billion in cash and R17 billion in Facebook stock.

 

“Facebook’s move – essentially signalling the arrival of virtual reality into mainstream digital life – will have far greater implications for business in general and sustainability in particular,” writes founder of Sustainly and the author of the Social Media Sustainability Index, Matthew Yeomans, “… already, brands and digital agencies are licking their lips at the various immersive marketing experiences they can serve up.”

 

What is the Oculus Rift?

 

The Oculus Rift (OR) is a virtual reality head-mounted display, invented by 21 year old Palmer Lucky and currently being developed by Oculus VR. Lucky is proof that youngsters are changing the world as we know it. Through his involvement as moderator in the Meant to be Seen (MTBS) 3D’s discussion forums, Palmer came up with the concept of creating a new, more effective and affordable head-mounted display than those currently on the market.

 

800px-Oculus_Rift_Dev_Kit Oculus_Rift_-_Developer_Version_-_Front Orlovsky_and_Oculus_Rift

 

Oculus VR managed to raise around R973 million for development during their time as an independent company, and we can expect to find consumer versions of the Rift later this year, or early in 2015.

 

Business Uses for the OR:

 

Entertainment:

The OR has already made a hit in the gaming industry, as have 5D Theatres. It’s only a matter of time before films can also be experienced from a 3D virtual perspective.

 

Tourism:

Planning the perfect holiday will be so much easier once travel agencies can give you virtual tours and teasers of your destinations.

 

Property Development:

Investors will no longer have to use their imaginations to get an idea of what a property will look like on completion, instead developers can give virtual tours of their projects.

 

Psychology:

In 2005, Researcher Albert Rizzo from the University of California’s Institute for Creative Technologies developed ‘Virtual Iraq’ in order to help soldiers recover from ordeals and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The OR will definitely find a few uses in the health sector.

 

Education:

It won’t be long until the OR will allow users from across the globe to attend the same virtual classroom. This could allow universities to take on more students per year, allowing for a substantial educational boost worldwide.

 

Demonstrations:

Imagine the ease of studying something as complex as surgery or mechanical engineering with the help of virtual demonstrations and simulations. Similar technology is already utilised to train pilots. Promotions and trade shows will also be an OR hotspot with exhibitors advertising their product via virtual experiences.

 

Art:

New virtual spaces and venues will form where you can view artworks and designs from the comfort of home, and perhaps even the birth of a new virtual art movement.

 

“But this is just the start,” Mark Zuckerberg explained in a post on Facebook, “Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home.”

 

Can you imagine the possibilities?

 

 

You can also look at 7 Tips for Using Oculus Rift at Your Next Trade Show, if you’re already planning to make use of your first Oculus Rift.

 

However, it’s not all good news. With new development comes change, and in the case of the Oculus Rift some jobs may become more redundant. For example, should the OR take over the education sector many teacher may lose their jobs. There’s also the potential side-effects, usually due to excessive use, that can leave a user nauseous and disorientated.

 

In the same breath, technology developments also create thousands of new careers on a daily basis; from website and program developers to graphic designers and social media managers, and soon, Virtual Reality Programmers…or is that Creators?

 

One thing is for certain; the world is changing and we will soon be experiencing the fastest technology revolution in history.

25 June

How to Survive a Zombie (Network) Attack

Zombie Networks (or ‘botnets’) have grown increasingly popular among computer hackers since 2005. A simple virus or piece of malware download can easily lead to slow and expensive internet issues, and you may remain oblivious while your ‘zombified’ PC spams the globe.

 

“Spammers, hackers and other internet criminals often use these zombie networks to get the computing power they need to commit their crimes, whether it’s the sending of spam or the sending of other malicious software, most infected users will never even know,” says RSAWEB Helpdesk Consultant, Bevan Stapelberg, “The implications of this vary from simple speed decreases when using your PC to being involved in a criminal investigation in extreme cases.”

 

2. Zombie Botnet

Have you been infected?

The initial step for a hacker is to ensure, somehow, that their victim installs the malware. This can be done through simple paths like e-mail, peer-to-peer networks or on specific web sites.

 

“There are lots of ways malware can infect a user’s pc or network,” says Stapelberg, “Most common are innocent looking files pretending to be something they are not and when run they install the malware. Also common are pop-ups that appear when browsing the internet. These pop-ups often install the malware regardless of whether you click the “OK”, “Accept”, “Close” or “Cancel” options. In this day and age verifying the source of applications is trusted and being on your toes when confronted by suspicious email or webpages is key.”

 

The symptoms to lookout for:

 

* Suddenly sluggish broadband connection,
* Anti-spam requests and warning emails from your ISP,
* An unresponsive mouse or keyboard,  
* Excessive hard drive activity,
* Bounce notifications in your inbox from people you never tried to contact.

 

Keep in mind that your PC can still show these symptoms without being infected, instead it may simply be hardware failure due to damage.

 

Is there a cure?

As security protocols and anti-malware software improve, hackers are finding alternative ways to hack your computer for their Zombie Network. However, experts still agree that having antivirus software and a personal firewall in place, while ensuring your system updates are up to speed, can greatly reduce the risk of being hacked.

 

“Having a well configured firewall is essential to protect your network against becoming part of a zombie network,” says Stapelberg, “This will allow you to monitor traffic coming in and out of your network. If your network is spamming people, you can check outbound traffic on port 25 or use an SMTP traffic analysis tool. In the case of large amounts of traffic on your internet connection you can check for odd behaviour like increased UDP traffic or traffic on random port numbers, keeping in mind that most legitimate traffic will be on port 80 or 443.”

 

Stapelberg advises that the best way to prevent an infection is to ensure that you have the right security measures in place. Alternatively, you can also talk to your Internet Service Provider, like RSAWEB, to remain updated with your network’s health status.

06 June

Renay Groustra takes Gold at Western Province Champs 2014

Mountain Biker, Renay Groustra, won first place in the elite men’s race at the Western Province Cross Country Championship on 31 May, 2014.

 

Renay wins at West Prov. Champs

The race took place at the Contermanskloof mountain bike trails on the H.L. Starke farm. There a challenging course was laid out for the riders, starting with a 150 meters ascent that led to the top of Cheeky Corners (a climb that reached a difficult 17% mark), and a descent that eventually divided the riders as they glided past the gum trees and raced towards the big jump of the day.

 

We had a short Q&A with Groustra, and this is what he had to say about the race:

 

How would you define the 2014 Western Province Cross Country Championship?

 

We had a relatively short course which meant we had more laps for the race to add up to the 90 minute time limit that elite cross country races are supposed to run for. There was a very small elite field, but the participants were quality such as Vet World Champ, Nico Pfitzenmaier.

 

The course had one long and really steep climb to the top followed with a really sweet fast and flowing single-track back down to the bottom. We were going really fast!

 

Which aspects of the ride did you find most challenging?

 

The climb was really steep and very rocky. Going up there 8 times really hurt! There were also sections of bumpy grass track which hurt on a hardtail bike.

 

Which aspects of the ride did you find most enjoyable?

 

Cross country races are never easy, but the fact that the track doubled back on itself multiple times made it great for spectators.

 

What went through your mind once you realised you achieved 1st place?

 

I was really stoked to take me first win for the season. It was a bit bitter-sweet though, as there was a World Cup in Germany on the same weekend that I would have loved to attend. Racing on the world scene is really special, especially in Europe.

 

What advice would you give future riders who are planning to participate in the Western Province Cross Country Championship?

 

Cross country racing is very intimidating for most riders because of the hype. Don’t let that scare you. Focus on having fun and ride a little within yourself and you’ll fall in love with this discipline of the sport!

 

Any last thoughts before you go?

 

A big thanks must go out to RSAWEB for their continued support! I also really couldn’t do this at the same level without my equipment sponsors, Rocky Mountain Bicycles, Cadence Nutrition, Adidas eyewear, Giro helmets, gloves and shoes, Look pedal, Skins compression, Mizuno running, Suunto sports watches, Evoc bags, Sram components, Fizik Saddles, Geax Tyres.

 Renay with his Bike

 

Groustra may have missed the epic UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Germany, but having won gold at the Western Province Champ is definitely a silver-lining worth celebrating. If you would like to stay informed about Groustra’s future races have a look at his website or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Good luck for the next one, Renay!

03 June

Stuart Marais Claims 1st Place at 2014 Italy IRONMAN 70.3

 

RSAWEB sponsored Stuart Marais did South Africa proud when he took the gold in his first Ironman 70.3 in Pescara, Italy. Marais finished the Ironman 70.3 in an amazing 3:48:49, with Victor del Corral Morales (Spain) finishing second in 3:49:53, and Albert Moreno Molins (Spain) coming in third in 3:51:26.

 

 

 Stuart Marais at IRONMAN 70.3

On 1st June, participating athletes had to face three challenges in the Ironman 70.3; a swim, cycle and run. This year the challenges consisted of a 1.9km swim close to the downtown beach area, near the Adriatic Sea, a 90km cycle through the foothills of the Abruzzo Mountains (with scenic views of the vineyards and olive trees), and a 21km run that took the athletes all along the beach promenade, through downtown Pescara to the finish-line in the heart of the city.

 

While local Italian pro, Jonathan Ciavattella was first out of the swim (15:11), it wasn’t long before Domenico Passeullo (Italy), Johannes Moldan (Germany) and Marais took the lead in the bike ride. Moldan took control in the second half of the ride, dismounting 5 second in front of Passuello, while Marais was 2:25 behind them.

 

Moldan dominated the first 9km of the run, but Marais pulled a decisive move while surging to the front. Marais finally managed to pass Passuello and Moldan at the 10km mark, going on to win the Ironman 70.3 Italy title.

 

“To win an Ironman 70.3 is one of my dreams coming true. Crossing that finish line with cheering crowds, in a country passionate about cycling and triathlon,” says Marais, “It is always important to select courses suited to your strengths, and this course played well in my favour. I will definitely stick it back onto my race calendar for next year.”

 

Have a look at the Team RSAWEB website or follow the Twitter account (@TeamRSAWEB) to stay posted on Marais’ progress as he shows the world what strength and endurance South Africans have to offer.