ICT industry finalises BEE charter

first_img13 May 2005The empowerment charter for the information and communications industries has been delivered to Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri for final approval. It is expected to be in operation later this year.ICT Empowerment Charter Working Group chair Dali Mpofu said that a final round of consultations with industry stakeholders would be held once the minster had presented the charter to Cabinet.The process of drawing up the charter has taken two years. One of the major issues has been that of “Double Jeopardy”, which refers to a situation in which many ICT companies find themselves, where they may be subject to the guidelines of two sectoral charters.The ICT sector is not homogeneous, like some other sectors that have released charters. Unlike the mining sector, for example, there is a wide range of business sizes, from the very small to very large multinationals.The process of drawing a the charter has been described as a uniquely consultatitive and inclusive process.The working group that wrote the charter was drawn from various industry associations, including the Black IT Forum, the SA Communications Forum, the Computer Society of SA, the Electronic Industries Federation, Information Industry SA, the Information Technology Association and the SA chamber of Business.SouthAfrica.info reporterlast_img read more

Rand leapfrogs Nigeria’s naira as Africa’s top currency

first_img12 August 2016The South African rand has regained its position as Africa’s top currency,leapfrogging the Nigerian naira this week.This comes after four major events in recent months: the Brexit vote, theSouth African municipal election results, the rand gaining more than 16% againstthe dollar since the start of 2016, and the naira losing more than a third of its valueafter Nigeria’s central bank removed a currency peg in June.South Africa’s economy was at $301-billion (R4-trillion), while Nigeria’s grossdomestic product (GDP) was $296-billion (R3.9-trillion), Bloomberg reported. Thesefigures are based on GDP at the end of 2015, published by the InternationalMonetary Fund.The momentum that took the naira above the rand two years ago was now longgone, according to the Bloomberg article.Business Day Live reported that at 9.05am on 12 August‚ the rand was at R13.4267 to the dollar from R13.4065 at the previous close. It was at R14.9591 against the euro from R14.9303 previously‚ and at R17.3839 against the pound from R17.3670 previously.Despite the positive news on the rand, Bloomberg said its reign as top currencymay not last long as the naira may bounce back.The rand got a major push following Britain’s vote on 23 June to exit theEuropean Union, which made investors turn to emerging markets. But the SouthAfrican local elections on 3 August, particularly its dramatic results, haveencouraged investors even further.Local electionsThe local government elections – whereby the African National Congress lost afew major metros to the opposition Democratic Alliance because of a substantial dipin support, and the Economic Freedom Fighters grew its support – benefitted therand, stated the Financial Times. Investors are encouraged by the notion that pressure will be put on the ruling party to introduce economic reforms that will boost growth and cut unemployment.The election results were seen as a positive by investors because it meantPresident Jacob Zuma’s power was dwindling, Luis Costa, CitiGroup’s strategist, told Financial Times. Events such as the axing of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nenewere less likely to be repeated. “The implications of this week’s election outcomeare market-friendly.”In another interview with Bloomberg, Costa said: “It will keep Zuma in a verysecondary stance when it comes to making economic policy decisions at least overthe next quarter.”Investors had been encouraged by significantly lower energy prices over thelast three months and steadiness in iron ore, platinum and gold, Costa added. “Thatin general produces a very nice dynamic in terms of trade for South African assets.”Investors treading cautiouslyDespite the good news, Reuters reported early on the morning of 11 Augustthat the rand’s rally against the dollar had paused, with investors treadingcautiously after Statistics South Africa released data on local mining andmanufacturing.According to Stats SA, mining production decreased by 2,5% in June 2016compared to the same period in the previous year, with the most negativeperformers being manganese ore, diamonds, nickel, copper and other non-metallicminerals. Coal, however, remained on a high.In May 2016, mineral sales rose 17,4% compared to the same period in 2015.In the meantime, use of production capacity by large manufacturers was 81,6%in May 2016 compared with 80,3% in May 2015, an increase of 1,3%.Sources: Bloomberg, Statistics South Africa, Reuters and SouthAfrica.info reporter.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website?See Using SouthAfrica.info materiallast_img read more

10 Real-World Things To Consider Before Scaling Your Startup

first_imgWhat could possibly be bad about scaling up your startup? If you’re thinking about growth because the demand is there, you’re clearly doing something right.But a rush to ramp up too soon can lead to serious growing pains, especially in the human resources and accounting departments. We asked 10 entrepreneurs in the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to share their own experiences with scale—and their best advice for founders about to embark on a big push in the new year. 1. Scale RemotelyThe biggest problem with scaling is you take on commitments. Commitments for offices, technology, employees and any number of assets that can slow you down and bleed your bank account. A great option is remote employment. At Staff.com, we run a team of more than 50 employees from 9 different countries; our employees are more efficient than local ones and we don’t have commitments like offices, payroll or the bureaucratic headaches that local employees produce. We still have some local employees, but each local worker is augmented by remote ones. This relationship produces incredibly efficient employees at a fraction of the cost. – Liam Martin, Staff.com 2. Spend Money On The Best PeopleWhether you’re selling a product or service, maintaining quality during periods of quick scaling is hard. At Pandemic Labs, we experienced this in both our agency business and our software platform. Our solution is in our people. When your business is moving along at a steady, manageable pace, you might not see the value of hiring someone for $90,000 when you can fill that position with someone for $40,000. But there’s a big reason, and you’ll see it when business ramps up. A-level people cost more, but they’ll be able to keep a steady hand on the wheel with you in situations where other companies would crumble under the speed of their own growth. The best people will feel expensive at first, but a team of great people can control a train that would otherwise fly off the tracks. – Matt Peters,Pandemic Labs 3. Understand What It Takes To Serve 10X The CustomersThe biggest mistake startups can make when trying to scale a business is to not understand what it takes to support 10 customers versus 100 customers. As an entrepreneur, project all the resources you will need as you grow. Forecast how each of your key resources (i.e. staff, strategic leadership, infrastructure) will need to be expanded. Yodle scaled successfully because we invested in careful planning in order to be properly prepared for each juncture of growth. In this way, we achieved controlled growth – and this was the best way to manage additional costs and resources. – John Berkowitz, Yodle 4. Set Up Systems FirstMy company, RewardMe, is a digital loyalty platform for restaurants. Our success therefore depends on our ability to capture as much of the market as possible. Our initial 100 clients were in Northern California and it seemed like we were ready to scale: hire sales people across the country and implement as fast as possible. But the smartest decision we made was to delay scaling until we had all our systems and training manuals in place. When you bring people on board to scale sales, everything must be a no-brainer: they must know exactly how to get clients, how long it takes to close deals, how much to sell the product for, and the intricacies of the implementation process. Don’t scale until every single aspect from customer acquisition to implementation is a process. – Jun Loayza, Passport Peru 5. Premature Scaling KillsThere is no doubt about it – startups offer some amazing opportunities to exercise Computer Science and Systems Engineering knowledge. Engineering friends of mine regularly marvel at the amount of data companies like Google, Amazon and Netflix have to process, analyze and serve. Here’s the problem: This opportunity doesn’t exist for early-stage startups, because, by definition, they have no users or customers. Worrying about “scale” in the early days of your startup is simply a bad investment. You may not have even discovered whether a product or market is worth pursuing, but you will have already invested in scaling that pursuit. Startup founders have to develop a craft in rapid application prototyping. Scaling comes later. – Andrew Montalenti, Parse.ly 6. Listen To Your CustomersOne of the best barometers for scaling should be customer satisfaction. If your customers are satisfied, you can scale as fast as you want. Typically, when something starts going wrong or you’re understaffed, your customers will tell you! When we started pushing hard toward the 7-figure mark in our first year, my brother/business partner was left managing customer support from his Gmail account. He was a senior in college, a starter on the baseball team, and working 50-60 hours each week. We knew something had to change, and that’s when we found a full-time customer support staff member. While Scott was doing all he could, I knew our customers were growing restless. Since then, I’ve been able to leverage Scott’s abilities, and our business has never been stronger. – Brian Moran, Get 10,000 Fans 7. Ride One Horse At A TimeWhen we started franchising our business, we expanded rather quickly, and it seemed logical to test out new service lines and launch new brands. However, we stretched ourselves thin and ended up over our heads in unfamiliar waters. Our core business suffered, and the new initiatives didn’t work. My advice: Focus on dominating the sandbox you’re already in before branching out. Make sure you have strong systems and resilient revenue streams. Run market tests and grow your business slowly so that every piece is sturdy, stable and cohesive. If you try to ride more than one horse at the same time, you’re going to fall off. – Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk 8. Be Selective, Open Up SlowlyWhen we launched SaberBlast.com a year ago, it grew so fast that we couldn’t keep up with demand. Our clients would try to send out newsletters with 30,000 or 100,000+ subscribers on it – and either the server would blow up or the resulting traffic would kill us. It was embarrassing. With the recent relaunch of the service, not only have we upgraded our technology, but we’ve upgraded how we onboard clients. We actually have an application process and a waiting period. Then, once a month we open up X number of new spots and email clients who are on the waiting list telling them they can sign-up. This way, by controlling demand and being selective about who we take on as clients, we’re controlling the risk of growing too fast without sacrificing the quality of how our service is delivered. – Matthew Ackerson, Saber Blast 9. Stay Focused On Cash FlowThe most dangerous problem with scaling too quickly is usually cash flow. I experienced that when building my second business when I was 19. We nearly hit our $1 million in revenue in the first few years, but as we got bigger clients, they required better payment terms. One missed payment from a big client could be disastrous, which is what happened. Cash flow is king in scaling up your business. Most entrepreneurs learn the hard way and this is definitely something that needs to be talked about more. – Peter Nguyen, Literati Institute 10. Estimate Growth, Then Divide By 2As much as we love to dream about explosive growth and unyielding demand for our product or service, our passion and excitement may skew the truth about future projections. If you can estimate revenue for the next 12 months, take that number then divide by 2 – and plan your resources and expenses around that number instead. Case in point, I ordered 2,000 jerseys for my new sports business (we ran rec leagues for adults) based on lofty expectations about how may players would sign up to play. We had 75 people show up on opening day and for an entire year I did not know if I was running a sports business or a t-shirt business. Be modest in your expectations and seek outside help for an unbiased estimate. It is never a bad thing to sell out beyond capacity, it creates demand. – Steven Staley, Playbook CommunityThe Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons. Tags:#startups How OKR’s Completely Transformed Our Culture Tips for Selling Smart Supply Chain Solutions End-of-Life Software: Keep it, Update it, or Fi…center_img Related Posts Will Development Eventually Make Itself Obsolete? scott gerberlast_img read more

Coremelt Releases Text Animation Plugin for AE, Premiere & FCP7

first_imgIf you utilize a lot of animation text in your video editing projects, check out the FREE ActiveText plugin from Coremelt.Text animation, although common in video editing projects, always seems to be a neglected feature set in most software video editing apps.  This lack of options has inspired a host of third party text animation tools for a more robust typography toolset.  Among these type plugins is the free ActiveText tool from Australian-based post production software company, Coremelt.ActiveText comes free as a part of the CoreMeltFREE plugin engine and includes ten free titling templates to use in your video editing app.  ActiveText currently supports Adobe Premiere Pro, FCP 7, Adobe After Effects and Motion.The main advantage of ActiveText is that it takes away the need to keyframe your text animations.  Rather, you can adjust the duration of your text clip and the clip will auto-adjust the motion to fit.  In addition, you can duplicate text quite simply by just copy and pasting ActiveText clips on the timeline – a much more expeditious approach compared to using Premiere’s built-in text editor.  The text templates range from editing stand-bys like ‘blur fade in’ to more outrageous (and a bit more cheesy) effects like ‘neon burn’.Previous CoreMeltFree users will need to download the latest update to take advantage of these new text templates.Anytime video editing tasks can be speed up is a welcome improvement.  When it comes to typography, ActiveText seems to do just that.Click here to check out a video of ActiveText in motion and download the recent update.last_img read more

a month agoAdvisers urge Foden to stick with Man City

first_imgAdvisers urge Foden to stick with Man Cityby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the lovePhil Foden is being urged to stick with Manchester City.Foden feels a loan move away from the reigning Premier League champions would hinder his progress, despite his limited playing time.The family and friends of the 19-year-old are reported to be keen for the England youngster to continue his role at the Etihad under Pep Guardiola, in which he receives game time primarily in cup competitions.The Times says there is a feeling within Foden’s close circle that leaving City on loan could actually prove damaging to the teenager’s progression.And City have no intention of sending Foden out to another Premier League club on loan. TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

DC Entertainment To Receive Visionary Award At 2017 GLSEN Respect Awards Los

first_imgGLSEN, the leading education organization creating safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ youth, will honor DC Entertainment with the Visionary Award at the 2017 GLSEN Respect Awards.Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment and President of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, will accept the award at the gala on Friday, October 20th at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.DC is a leader in supporting LGBTQ content and characters. With a commitment to showcasing diverse storylines, they broke barriers in mainstream comics with characters like Batwoman as the first lesbian Super Hero as a comic lead and Alysia Yeoh as the first trans character. The comics feature numerous groundbreaking characters like Midnighter, Catwoman, Renee Montoya, and many others. In June 2016, DC along with IDW Publishing, brought together writers and artists to support victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando with “Love is Love.” And DC TV shows feature LGBTQ characters on shows like Supergirl, Arrow, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Gotham.“GLSEN is excited to honor DC Entertainment with the Visionary Award for their impact and innovation,” said Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN. “Superheroes hold an incredibly powerful place in our popular culture. Equally powerful is for LGBTQ youth to see themselves in our world, and DC enables just that. DC’s commitment to representing LGBTQ characters in all forms of media is both incredibly important and empowering.”“We are honored to accept the Visionary Award at this year’s GLSEN Respect Awards,” said Diane Nelson, President, DC Entertainment and President, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “At DC, we are committed to telling stories that reflect and inspire our diverse audience and we look forward to celebrating with the LGBTQ students and activists from across the country.”DC Entertainment will join previously announced 2017 GLSEN Respect Awards Honorees Kerry Washington, Bruce Bozzi, and Zendaya.The GLSEN Respect Awards, introduced in 2004 and held annually in Los Angeles and New York, showcase the work of students, educators, community leaders, and corporations who serve as exemplary role models and have made a significant impact on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Past Los Angeles honorees include Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake; Julia Roberts and Danny Moder; Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg; Bob Greenblatt; Shonda Rhimes; Matt Bomer & Simon Halls; and Kate Hudson. The GLSEN Respect Awards – Los Angeles will welcome approximately 600 guests, including outstanding youth leaders and educators from around the country, raising more than $1 million in support of GLSEN’s work.GLSEN has led the way on LGBTQ issues in K-12 education since 1990. Through ground-breaking original research, innovative program development, student leadership and educator training, community organizing, and targeted state and federal advocacy, GLSEN has seen the impact of its work with the development of educational resources, direct engagement of youth and educators, and national programs like GLSEN’s Day of Silence, GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week, and GLSEN’s Ally Week.Tickets for the Respect Awards are available now. For additional information, please visit www.glsen.org/events.last_img read more

Canadas provinces promote free trade in Washington Some conditions apply

first_imgWASHINGTON – The premiers of Canada’s two largest provinces came to Washington on Friday to sing the praises of free trade: lower prices, more jobs, better selection at the grocery store and supply chains that create geo-political bonds.But that trade-liberalizing passion comes with some caveats.The premiers of Quebec and Ontario acknowledged that their own trade practices are not perfectly open in every sector and will not suddenly become that way in a newly renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement.In one exchange, the governor of Colorado voiced a desire for freer trade in dairy. He made the request on a panel while seated beside Kathleen Wynne and Philippe Couillard — premiers of the two main dairy-producing provinces in a country that limits dairy imports.“Colorado is a big cheese-manufacturing state. So I’d probably want to negotiate a little bit about the cheese,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper.“Because we all have our specific things that we think, maybe, aren’t quite as fair.”Dairy isn’t the only protected sector in Canada. So is poultry. In addition, sub-national jurisdictions protect certain types of government contracts. Also, Couillard said it’s important for Quebec to maintain protections on cultural products in order to preserve its francophone culture.Couillard said it’s normal to maintain some protections in a trade deal.“I would say, tongue in cheek, there’s no such thing as a free-trade agreement. There are trade agreements with exceptions and specificities — ones countries need to keep in order to keep their policies and priorities moving forward,” Couillard told a panel at the Washington International Trade Association.“So, (let’s proceed with) modernizing (NAFTA). Keeping each others’ interests in perspective. Being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes — to understand why (certain sectors are) so important… But overall let’s keep markets open.”On government procurement, Couillard told reporters he’s considering whether to speed up planned renovations of Montreal metro cars in order to provide work for Bombardier, as layoffs are threatened there.States and provinces have the right to exempt certain public agencies from competitive bidding under WTO rules, although Canada entered these NAFTA negotiations hoping to expand free trade for public contracts with the giant U.S. market.The U.S. has taken the opposite approach — it’s looking to limit trade in public works. That’s one of several controversial proposals from the Americans, who have also proposed creating a so-called sunset clause that could end NAFTA every five years.Wynne said this negotiation has been unusual.“Do I think there needs to be some systematic approach to reviewing (NAFTA)? I think we can all agree,” she said.“(But) what has triggered this review is not a systematic or rational process. That was not a political comment. But if there were a way to have a more rational (five-year) trigger, I think that would make sense.”Events a few kilometres away underscored her point.As Wynne was speaking at that panel, U.S. President Donald Trump was just outside the city at a conservative political conference where, in his speech to partisans, he trashed NAFTA.“NAFTA is no good. It never was any good. But, for some reason, nobody ever changed it,” Trump said.“They emptied our factories. You’ve got to see the car plants and the auto plants in Mexico. Like, you’ve never seen anything like it before. I want those companies — and they’re starting — I want them back here.”Ironically, he was saying this at a conference made famous by Ronald Reagan — the conservative favourite who spearheaded North American free-trade talks. Meanwhile, in downtown Washington, D.C., the premiers were promoting NAFTA inside the Ronald Reagan Building.The premiers are in Washington for the annual winter conference of state governors. State leaders have proven to be influential allies to people trying save NAFTA — writing letters, lobbying U.S. President Donald Trump and sharing their concerns with Vice-President Mike Pence.Couillard said he and his Ontario counterpart have met dozens of U.S. governors since last year — and every one supports NAFTA. He said they understand the benefits of free trade — cheaper fruits and vegetables available throughout the year, minerals from Canada that supply manufacturing in the southern U.S., an integrated defence-industrial base and nine million jobs linked to trade in the U.S. alone.“Open markets create jobs,” Couillard said. “Closed markets kill jobs. … Closed markets increase prices, for people who have economic difficulties.”He urged the countries to reach a quick agreement. He said businesses hate uncertainty, and said the uncertainty at some point needs to end.Projections from Scotiabank and the Bank of Canada estimate that if ambiguity lingers over NAFTA into next year, the ensuing investment concerns would reduce Canada’s GDP by about one-fifth of one per cent through 2019.last_img read more

Hunters asked to submit deer elk and moose heads to monitor for

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Hunters in the B.C. Peace Region are being encouraged to part with the heads of any deer, elk, or moose they manage to bag this hunting season to allow for a post-mortem examination for signs of a deadly – and incurable – disease.Biologist Brian Patterson has been subcontracted by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development to run its program that monitors for signs of chronic wasting disease in cervids in Northeast B.C.He said that chronic wasting disease is a form of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy that affects deer, elk and moose. Other TSE’s include mad cow disease, which affects bovines, and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease which affects humans. A biopsy of a tonsil showing prion protein immunostaining. Wikipedia photo.TSE’s are caused by misfolded proteins called prions, which cause cells in the brain and neural tissue to die, giving the brain a ‘spongy’ appearance.Prions diseases are always fatal, and no cure has yet been discovered. Chronic wasting disease has been reported in wild animals in 23 U.S. states, as well as in Alberta and Saskatchewan.A map showing locations where chronic wasting disease has been reported. Photo by U.S. Geological Survey.Between 2002 and 2016, biologists examined 805 heads of cervids that were hunted in the B.C. Peace Region, however, the number of submitted heads has decreased in the last few years from a high 221 in 2008 to less than 50 every year since.Patterson said that to help as an incentive, the provincial government has partnered with sporting good stores, including Backcountry in Fort St. John to launch a Chronic Wasting Disease Awareness Program. Hunters can bring in a freshly-killed deer, elk, or moose head and keep the antlers and skull plate intact at either specified depot in North Peace area: the North Peace Rod & Gun Club and the FrontCounterBC office inside the Beaton Building in Fort St. John.The depots will then give hunters a voucher to enter for a draw to win a Tikka Hunting package. There’s no limit to the number of entries, provided each animal was legally hunted and entries are submitted before December 10th.For more information, contact Backcountry in Fort St. John or the local FrontCounterBC office.last_img read more

Iran resolute to keep on with nuke talks

first_imgTEHRAN – In critic of new US sanctions, Iranian FM Zarif warns that Tehran will give a proper, calculated, purposeful and smart response to any improper, unconstructive actionIranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday voiced Tehran’s resolution to continue with the nuclear negotiations with six major world powers, namely the P5+1.Posting a statement on his official Facebook account, Iran’s foreign policy chief criticized the new sanctions announced on Thursday by the US Departments of Treasury and State blacklisting a number of companies and individuals for “providing support for” Iran’s nuclear energy program.“Over the past days, certain improper measures were taken by the Americans, to which we responded in the required manner and with the consideration of all aspects of the issue,” wrote Zarif.Iranian top diplomat also cautioned that Tehran would respond prudently to any unconstructive and inappropriate action on the part of the sextet, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Russia, China, France, Britain and the US – plus Germany.“We will seriously pursue the Geneva talks, and we will of course give a proper, calculated, purposeful and smart response to any improper and unconstructive action (even if it does not violate the Geneva deal),” he said.The fresh US sanctions came shortly after a historic initial nuclear deal signed between Iran and the sextet in the Swiss city of Geneva on November 24, which aimed to provide a full resolution for the decade-old dispute over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy and enrichment program.“Negotiations and achieving results are difficult and will certainly involve many ups and downs. We had foreseen this from the outset, too,” Zarif said regarding the roadmap to achieve a final nuclear agreement with P5+1.In line with the Geneva deal, Iran and the P5+1 agreed that no more nuclear-related sanctions would be imposed on Iran for a six-month period.last_img read more

Even Pretending To Be A Professional Tennis Player Is Terrifying

CARL BIALIK STATSMOJJOMOJJO NEWCARL CHARTING Based on my experience covering tennis, professional players usually remember to bring their tennis shoes to the court. On a June Thursday, as I walked into Courbevoie Sport Tennis outside of Paris, I realized I hadn’t. I was there to try out a new technology from Mojjo — a French company that makes what Emmanuel Witvoet, one of its founders, calls “Hawk-Eye for everyone.” Hawk-Eye is the advanced camera-based system that tennis tournaments use to adjudicate disputed line calls and to provide advanced stats for television. It’s sophisticated, impressive and expensive — out of reach for most amateurs, in part because it uses 10 cameras. Witvoet said he and his co-founders had figured out how to do much of what Hawk-Eye does with just one camera, making it affordable for the masses.Unlike the masses, pro players have ready access to the kind of data that Mojjo was about to provide me. They get all sorts of detailed stats after every match, and at tournaments like Wimbledon, they get more. After matches, they receive DVDs that allow them to toggle between points or watch only, say, their backhand errors. It’s not easy for amateurs like me to get that kind of information, but we are clamoring for it. Some 70 million fitness trackers like Fitbit were bought last year, and smart watches like Apple’s bundle fitness tracking with their smartphone features. In tennis, rackets from Babolat and racket attachments from Sony measure things like spin and speed of shot — but their accuracy is questionable.Now, for one surreal, amazing, frustrating and delusion-shattering morning, I would finally have the data. A camera would capture the flight of the ball, software would analyze what happened on each point, and detailed match stats — my detailed match stats — would be put online. I was treated like a pro, but the data showed me how far I had to go to play like one.My friend Alex Duff came along to help me test Mojjo out. Duff is a data geek and amateur tennis player who once recorded video of one of our matches so we could review our performance later. For this match, we were instead armed with two laptops — so that we could each predict the match stats beforehand.After telling the Mojjo courtside kiosk which of us was serving first, Duff and I took the court atop a light dusting of red clay, the same kind of stuff the pros would play on later that day at the French Open five miles away.I told Duff not to be too self-conscious even though a camera was running. I then proceeded to be incredibly self-conscious because a camera was running. I can’t remember starting another match as poorly as I did this one. My head was full of excuses, and I felt self-conscious every time a club employee walked on court, which was often: I felt his eyes staring at my shoes, as if he were the Mona Lisa.Mojjo was the main problem. I’d recently read the classic book “The Inner Game of Tennis” and knew I was supposed to think less and clear my mind. I didn’t — and instead was rushing during points. Silver lining: That meant we’d play more points in our allotted two hours, and more points meant more data.Despite my struggles, I won the first set 6-3. And after extending my winning streak to six straight games, I started to consider secondary goals, like looking good for the camera. I couldn’t do much about my sweat-stained shirt, but I could at least retuck my shorts pocket after pulling out a ball for a second serve. I promptly lost eight straight points.I started playing a little better and went up 5-3 in the second set. That’s when we played our best game of the match by far. We both hit winners and saved game points. After four deuces, I closed out the set. I asked for one more — and cruised to a 6-0 win.Then the email containing our stats arrived from Mojjo, and our amateur match suddenly felt like an official one. We had numbers that looked, if you squinted sideways, like numbers from the pros. We each had one ace. I hit four double-faults; he hit five. We each made a little over 50 percent of our first serves. These weren’t crazy numbers for a clay-court match by pros. Andy Murray and David Ferrer, two of the best players in the world, had just put up roughly similar numbers in their match at the French Open the day before.The video uploaded to Mojjo’s site later that day, and it was odd — not only because it depicted my awkward-looking one-handed backhand. At times, it showed scores that didn’t make much sense and seemed to include shots hit after rallies were over, like to get a ball back to the server, as part of the match.When I could get past the technical hiccups, I saw that unlike the emailed stats, which could have passed for professional-grade, the video looked nothing like match footage I was used to watching. Even with the unusual perspective of the single-camera wide shot, it was clear that my strokes weren’t Grand Slam-ready. And the tennis looked like it was being played at half-speed. Our bodies and the ball crept through the frame — even when the video wasn’t glitching. Second-serve returns in percentage81%81%81% Double-faults455 First-serve returns in percentage77%78%85% Second-serve in percentage89%87%86% Percentage of all points won61%61%61% Aces101 Special Podcast: Check out Baseline, a U.S. Open mini-podcast with Carl Bialik, Louisa Thomas of Grantland, and others from the National Tennis Center grounds. Listen here, and subscribe to the FiveThirtyEight sports podcast Hot Takedown on iTunes now so you don’t miss an episode! First-serve win percentage64%61%57% Break points of opponent’s serve202012 Win percentage for rallies of 10+ shots100%50%33% Win percentage for rallies of 1-3 shots60%61%64% Mojjo isn’t the only tennis tracker around. An Israeli company named PlaySight uses four cameras to Mojjo’s one, and its technology is more mature: Clubs have already installed it in about 130 courts. It provides a glimpse of what Mojjo could eventually do and of how a more advanced system could do things for amateurs that even some pros don’t get.Over Skype, PlaySight’s CEO and co-founder, Chen M. Shachar, said his system cost $10,000 per court — about three times what Mojjo will charge — plus a license fee for each facility. As is the case with Mojjo, the club, not the player, pays the PlaySight fee. But clubs most likely pass this cost on to players through higher per-match prices.Shachar said PlaySight has much bigger plans. For instance, he said the software eventually will be able to compare, say, me to its database of other players and tell me how my serve, backhand and other shots compare with the averages. And he envisions an improvement on current systems for remote coaching, which require coaching companies to download and tag video: I could instead share my PlaySight account — including video and data — with a top coach on the other side of the world. That’s better than pros can do when they’re playing on courts without Hawk-Eye.PlaySight already can do things Mojjo doesn’t immediately plan on. For instance, PlaySight live-streams matches. And its courtside kiosks provide in-match stats and video replay. It also offers a level of precision that makes it possible to review line calls, which Mojjo doesn’t.While Mojjo lacks the precision to make line calls with certainty, its camera nonetheless gave me a rare chance to review my own calls. Pros don’t call their own lines, but amateurs like Duff and I do. And I could tell while watching the raw video of my match that I’d made some questionable out calls.That’s not the only lesson I learned from my experience with Mojjo. My serve and volley stinks — I won 25 percent of those points, and that was lucky. My backhand is much weaker than my forehand (43 percent on backhands without slice vs. 63 percent on forehands without slice). I also landed fewer first serves than I predicted I would — and that I thought I had right after the match.I wasn’t nearly as good at intuiting stats while playing a match as I’d thought. Shachar said this isn’t unusual for people in high-stress activities — including sports and higher-stakes contests. PlaySight founders adapted their tennis platform from one they developed to allow fighter pilots to review their actions. “The gap between what really happened and what you think happened is huge,” Shachar said.2Pros, too, can have trouble tracking stats in their head. Gilles Simon, one of the most stat-conscious men on tour, said after defeating big-serving Milos Raonic at the Queen’s Club tournament in London last month that he’d thought Raonic had landed the vast majority of his first serves in the first set, only to learn when looking at the scoreboard between sets that Raonic had made just 52 percent.On the plus side, I learned that statistically, tennis looks pretty similar when played by two people of similar ability, no matter what that ability is. I even found a match that had roughly similar stats and scoreline to my match with Duff. It happened 15 years ago at Wimbledon. The winner was Fabrice Santoro, who like me had unconventional strokes.3He also had the very cool nickname “The Little Magician.” The loser was Andrea Gaudenzi, which sounds a little like Alex Duff in Italian.4To find a similar match, I examined stats from 12,379 best-of-five-set matches made available on GitHub by Sackmann. Then I zeroed in on the 855 straight-set wins with scores closest to ours of 6-3, 6-3, 6-0. Finally, I calculated z-scores for 15 stats in our match and for each of the 12,379 pro matches: seven for each player (ace percentage, double-fault percentage, percentage of first serves that went in, percentage of first-serve points won, percentage of second-serve points won, break points against, and break points converted against), plus the dominance ratio (the ratio of the percentage of return points won to the percentage of serve points lost by the winner of the match). I summed the absolute value of the difference of the z-score for each of the 15 categories for our match and for each of the 855 matches. Santoro d. Gaudenzi came out the closest. Pros: They’re just like us.I also came to a fairly obvious realization that nonetheless troubled me. Before my Mojjo match, I considered myself a smart player, adjusting my tactics to take advantage of each opponent’s weaknesses. But with Mojjo, whatever I learned, my opponent would too — we’d both get the same stat sheets. For instance, from my charting, Duff landed 22 serves directed at my forehand and lost 20 of those points. If he notices that stat, he probably won’t serve to my forehand nearly so often the next time we play. Maybe having post-match stats would help my opponents more than me, by removing what I think is my tactical advantage from having an approximate handle on what’s working and what’s not. There’s also the risk I’d overthink things; even pros like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic said in media conferences at Wimbledon this year that they don’t normally look at their own stats in too much detail.But even if data can’t improve my game, my curiosity is stronger than my competitiveness. Now that I’ve experienced what very few players have, it’s been hard to go back. Each match uncharted feels like a lost opportunity to learn more about my game — including just how ugly my backhand is. While I wait for Mojjo to fix its bugs and come to courts near me, I’m awfully tempted to start filming and charting my matches myself.Maybe I’ll use a GoPro. Win percentage for rallies of 4-6 shots60%61%61% First-serve in percentage53%51%58% Win percentage for rallies of 7-9 shots54%54%50% Second-serve win percentage50%51%54% Break points converted151510 The next day, Witvoet, Duff and I met at the picnic tables outside Court Suzanne-Lenglen. Witvoet acknowledged that there were plenty of bugs still to work out. He and his fellow 30-something co-founders — Charles Chevalier, the chief technology officer, and Julien Vernay, the chief operations officer — had just installed Mojjo permanently at the club the prior week. “You are one of the early birds,” Witvoet said. “As you’ve seen, it’s not all polished. We know definitely it’s not totally ready.”After matches, the founders compare the footage from the Mojjo camera to the stats and use any discrepancies to hone the system. On their to-do list: a voice-recognition system that detects when players call balls out; social sharing of points so you can, for example, brag about an ace on Facebook, with video; and a gamified system so coaches can set statistical targets — like hitting a higher percentage of service returns in the court — and players can collect badges for achieving them. They’re also considering a pure software version that will allow players to use Mojjo to analyze footage they’ve shot themselves. “Our idea is, in some future, you GoPro yourself, and it’s done,” Witvoet said.Because of the video problems, Witvoet agreed to share with me the raw video of the match. I decided to check the stats for myself. I used a system developed by Jeff Sackmann for his Match Charting Project, which has enlisted volunteers to chart nearly 1,000 pro matches. During my Eurostar trip from Paris back home to London, I alt-tabbed between the video and the spreadsheet to log every shot — its type, direction and outcome.1For example, for one long rally I lost, I entered 4f29b2f2f3b2b2f+1f1# into a cell in the spreadsheet. Then I compared the results with Mojjo’s. They were off, in some cases by a lot.Duff hit 13 double-faults by my count, not the five Mojjo counted. I was making more first serves, but losing those points more often than Mojjo said. Both Duff and I were making more first-serve returns than estimated. And the break-point stats were way off for Mojjo, off even from the realm of possibility: The system showed that I’d faced five break points but been broken six times. (I counted four breaks off nine break points.) When Mojjo rolled out the next version of its software, correcting for problems reading high balls, and applied it to our match video, some but not all of these stats were more accurate — you can see just how accurate for my stats in the table adjacent to this paragraph. Chevalier estimated that the error rate on who won each point was below 5 percent. Score one for humanity over machine, so far at least, when it comes to logging tennis stats. But also score one for the pros, that special subset of humans who have someone doing the statkeeping for them. read more