Mucus is our friend  

By Amahle Phendu

You hack it up, spit it out or blow it into tissues and throw it away. While mucus might seem gross, it plays a very important role inside us. It keeps you healthy and when that fails it helps you to overcome the sickness. 

It acts as a lubricant for the body, and protects your nasal passage, lungs, and throat from drying out. It also poses as a barrier that traps bacteria and allergens, like dust or pet dander to prevent you from getting sick. Vaginal mucus can help women get pregnant or avoid pregnancy if they wish, while mucus in the gut helps your digestive system function. 

 Although mucus production is natural and healthy, excess mucus production can be a sign of illness including the common cold. When you are sick or have fever your body responds by increasing the snot production since mucus can act as a defence against infection. Mucus also acts as a means of ridding the body of what is causing the inflammation in the first place, like bacteria and other unneeded materials.  

Remember that while your snot keeps you healthy it can make others sick. That’s why if you cough or sneeze up any mucus, make sure to wash your hands and disinfect anything that you have touched. In doing so you minimize the risk of spreading illness to the people around you. 

No matter how disgusting it may seem, mucus is always with us inside us every moment of our lives.  

Photo credit: www.pexels.com

From Omicron to Pokémon  

By Ashley Ndliwayo

On the 26th of November 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) found a new, more easily transmissible variant and dubbed it Omicron. This variant has terrorized the globe from November, to date. 

The Omicron variant has exposed people to less severe disease than previous variants, though it has still led to some hospitalizations. However, hospitalizations account for a small percentage of the cases, in a broader sense, as the majority of people suffer mild symptoms. The numbers continue to fluctuate daily with less critical conditions and a stable number of deaths.  

Furthermore, Health officials from the health department have predicted a fifth wave to approach South Africa in a few months. Health minister Joe Phahla did say the number of COVID-19 infections are expected to be at a peak as soon as winter nears. The fifth wave too is expected to rock its own new variant with its own Greek symbol. Although the fifth wave has only been promulgated as a predication, the severity of the wave is unknown. It could be lighter or even worse. Like with any other wave, the implications of this prediction should not be taken lightly. 

Precautions and further safety measures should be taken. Especially for students who are ready to actively begin with 2022 academic activities. This is to say, vaccination centers within all campuses should be set up and operate smoothly and effectively. This is to ensure the encouragement of vaccination of returning students as well as prospective ones. Vaccination is effective and convenient to the care and safety of self and also those around us. 

Photo credit: WHO

The Impact on Science and Technology

By Phuthego Precious Nthoke

With the introduction of COVID-19 and its variants, we did the only thing we could do, adapt. The concept of adapting is flawless on paper but very difficult to execute, we can manoeuvre through certain situations that occur in our personal lives, however we cannot seem to adapt in our academic lives. 

This observation solely pertains to challenges experienced by first year students in the science department. Many courses had been offered online and to no surprise it had its fair share of challenges for the students in the science and technology field, ranging from technological problems to being able to comprehend the workload issued. During the 2021 academic year, many courses required to be conducted online but some exams were to be written on campus and practicals had to be performed in the school laboratories.  

I had the opportunity to interview a student, enrolled for Medical Laboratory Science so most of her modules required a certain level of practicality, who started their first in 2021 amidst covid restriction. When asked about her expectations for the year given that all her modules are online, she pointed out that she expected some level of difficulty in the course, but she faced more than she had originally expected. She explains that she had mixed feelings about learning online and writing on campus.  “The whole online thing, it gave me challenges and being isolated from your colleagues is difficult” she went on venting, she experienced difficulties as she struggled with assignment and certain concepts. 

Online learning had many challenges and has had an impact on first year students, especially those in the science field, feelings of exclusion and not being able to discuss with your course mates. Hybrid classes will be seen as a norm, yet the struggle to cope will continue, but keep in mind that if you have a certain goal, you should be able to adapt despite the mode of learning to achieve it. 

Photo credit: skillsyouneed.com 

Blockchain: The Future of Data Transfer in the Education System? 

By Sonia Van der Linde 

Blockchain. A word that triggers many of our brains to space out and force a façade of interest on our faces. The truth is, however, that this technological breakthrough might be a tool that we will all make use of in our everyday lives in the not too far future.  

Blockchain is a highly cryptic information transferring and recording system. It functions as a decentralized, digital ledger that is constantly duplicated, coded and time-stamped as it travels through a network to reach the intended recipient. Essentially forming a “chain of data” impossible to hack as after each duplication, the contents are shuffled around and “re-encrypted” like a constantly evolving virus travelling through the body,” flying under the radar”, unable to be intercepted by white blood cells and medication. It was developed by the same mysterious figure behind Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. A name that no one knows much about, and many have theorized over. 

Although it is mostly used in the corporate world to transfer sensitive information, over the last few years, a handful of universities started using blockchain for various student services such as issuing of diplomas, payment handling, and record transfers. The use of blockchain will not happen overnight as there are always negatives that go with the positives, mainly the large amount of energy needed to maintain such a decentralized network. Global budget projections predict that by the end of 2022, 11.7 billion dollars will have been spent on blockchain by various corporations. 

But, if we have learned anything about technological advancement, Blockchain might one day be a tool that can be used by just about anyone. 

Photo credit: www.pexels.com [Pixabay]. 

 How Safe is Online Learning?  

 By Siphosethu Tshakatsha 

Ever since the inception of the pandemic in 2019, most students have been worried about how secure they are in their career paths as most academic work is done online, leaving them unsure of whether or not they are gaining enough knowledge to sustain them in the working industry. It’s good that institutions of higher education are catching up with the fourth industrial revolution but the question on the table is; how safe is it to study online? 

“Learning online has advantages and disadvantages because I am able to work at my own pace which is an advantage but I struggle to ask for help from my classmates as we have no relation” said Luther Mzwakali a second-year student in Bachelor of education. This means that students might lack team working skills in the future because of online learning as individuals are mostly working on their own. Attending physically could also improve the contribution of students in extra mural activities, especially first year students since they are new and would easily adapt in contact sessions than online.  

As much as online is a disadvantage to others, some prefer mask to mask sessions. “Online learning creates an atmosphere and environment that stimulates a different mentality, with this I mean that students are encouraged to think more about the content that is being offered” said Natalie Le Clue a Lecturer in Media Studies. This means that students have more time to understand work as lectures are recorded and saved on Moodle.  

Online learning also becomes beneficial in that most things are done digitally, for example job applications are submitted online so students will be more familiar with complicated procedures of finding a job. “Learning online from the comfort of your own home definitely disciplines you and it also improves time management” said Wensely Jackson a second-year student in psychology. 

As stated before, online learning can be an advantage or a disadvantage so it solely depends on an individual to gain or lose from it.  

Photo credit: Khanya Mtshulana

GetDigiReady – Become a Technology Expert!

Do you own a smartphone or a laptop? Can you spend a day without logging onto social media? Imagine always being online and updated on both social trends and all your academic stuff on one device. How convenient!  

GetDigiReady is helpful to any student who would like to discover, explore, and always be connected to the university network. Most email updates communicated via Memo are beneficial to students with scholarships, bursaries, events and lecturers’ communication. Why not GetDigiReady, so you can read them as they are sent out and not wait for them to flood your inbox and end up missing important information?  

With over 2628 laptops distributed to first-year NSFAS students and more than 90% owning smartphones and or a laptop, Nelson Mandela University digitalisation is keeping up with the rapid technological advancement of the world. Using GetDigiReady will help you stay updated on your emails, Moodle site and student portal. You do not have to go to the library, computer laboratories or wait to be in Wi-Fi zones as you can access everything from your phone or laptop with little data consumption.  

To sync your emails to your Android or IOS phone, follow all prompts for adding an exchange account, change the server to “outlook.office365.com” and activate. It’s important to note that the username has to be entered in this format, studentnumber@mandela.ac.za. Your email account will then be set up. Instructions on how to set up your mobile device WiFi or emails are available in both Xhosa and English for Android and IOS users. To connect to Wi-Fi, select Eduroam and enter your studentnumber@mandela.ac.za and your allocated password. For some cellphones, you need to change the option ‘Phase-2 Authentication’ to ‘MSCHAPV2’.  

For videos on how to GetDigiReady, click on the student portal link or here.  

Why not save time and always be updated with your social media, University emails or Moodle site updates from wherever you are? Explore and enjoy more benefits of technology today.

 

Imagery: Sandiso Ngwenya (MSc Chemistry student) in a Postgraduate library computer with her phone – ALWAYS ACADEMICALLY ONLINE 

Source: Bianke Fouche 

Why are people so sensitive to social cues?

People require validation from those around them, hence they are hyper-aware of social cues because they tend to live up to social expectations rather than being their true selves, which is why negative cues play to the need to rebel. 

A social cue can be either be a verbal or non-verbal hint that guides the social interaction, for example, gossiping, smirking, pointing or laughing. There are also social ways to manipulate the behaviour of susceptible people. According to Preston Ni in Psychology Today, there are many positive aspects to being a sensitive person, however, high sensitivity can adversely affect one’s health, happiness, success and can often complicate relationships. He defined high sensitivity as acute physical, mental, and emotional responses to social, environmental or intra-personal stimuli.  

People often worry about what other people are thinking of them and it can often feel like people are judgmental even when there is no strong evidence to that effect. People are also afraid of rejection even in relatively minor situations. A research study conducted by the Social Issues Research Centre shows that gossip accounts for 55% of men’s conversation time and 67% of women, clearly showing that most people are indeed gossiping. 

Sherwin George, a Psychology student said, “We are brought up with a socially constructed reality of authority. When we face criticism, it causes a conflict within ourselves, created by others in the form of cues. We see it as prodigious abjection towards our authority, activating our defensive instincts. Basically, we see it as a sort of psychological battle of intimidation. 

Psychologist, Dr Nicholas Emler said that language evolved to allow people to gossip and develop more complex societies. People are sensitive to negative social cues because they are relatively obedient to society in general 

Mfundo Hlatshwayo, also a psychology student, had the following to say, “Social cues are deeper than what we think they are. I think people fear being gossiped about and there’s obviously a developmental stage where people think everything is about them. Sometimes it’s about how you look at them. 

Generally, people get emotionally and mentally stronger as they grow older and experience more in life. This growth ideally works towards emotional stability and an ability to respond more maturely to feedback in our environments with the ultimate goal of self-confidence and healthy, trusting relationships.  

Image source: crosswalk.com 

The OG VR Pet

Physicists say we’ve hit a technological advancement rut. We’re no longer innovating, but rather just improving what already exists. This notion is greatly proven in the resurrection of the beloved 1997 digital pet, Tamagotchi. The product’s official website claims that it is back with the ‘original programming’ and for some of us, this could possibly be the most exciting piece of tech we could get our hands on.  

Tamagotchi (pronounced TAH-MAH-GOH-CHEE) are Japanese-designed, excitement-inducing virtual reality (digital) pets that appear in a palm-sized device that contains a liquid crystal display. You are required to feed, play with, turn the lights on and off for it to sleep, keep it healthy, give it medicine and discipline the creature when its behaviour gets out of hand. All by pressing buttons A, B or C. They start off at the egg stage of life, but don’t resemble animals. There are seven different adults you can choose from (if you keep them alive long enough to get there). These critters were originally priced at around R250.00 ($17.99) in 1997 and since their resurgence have dropped in price to R180.00 ($13.99). 

They were such a popular item in the 90’s that it’s expected many adults who were children back then may be tempted to own one again. If your Tamagotchi dies, you can happily reset the game and begin your journey again and again. Many apps over the years have tried to replicate the game and experience on mobile devices, but not many could engineer the enjoyment that the original Tamagotchi provides. The addition of advertisements and monetary systems only frustrates users and leaves them longing for the days of simpler technology. If you’re eager to get your hands on an old-school toy, this is definitely a rite of passage for every 80’s – 00’s baby.

Image Source: 

http://www.bandai.com/tamagotchi/ 

Gear Up for Con.ect 2018

madibaz news madibaznews

Calling all cosplayers and geeks, it’s that time of the year again! Con.ect, Port Elizabeth’s annual geek convention, will be taking place on the 4th and 5th of August 2018 at the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) Indoor Sport Centre.

Running from 10:00 until 18:00 on each day, attendees can expect to find numerous stalls selling movie memorabilia and fandom merchandise and can participate in LAN gaming and Dungeon and Dragons sessions. In addition this, local comedian, Roland Gaspar, will be this year’s host and there will be awesome raffle prizes up for grabs. The most exciting events at Con.ect are sure to be the Cosplay Masquerade and Cosplay Competition where cosplayers can show off their costumes and stand a chance to win incredible prizes.

“[This year’s] Con.ect is anticipated to be bigger and better than ever with over 50 stalls, eSports gaming and LANs, tabletop tournaments and sessions, and, of course, our local cosplayers unleashing their characters in the Cosplay Masquerade and Cosplay Competition,” says Alex Karantges, one of the organisers of Con.ect. “This is the place to be. Join us soon for #Conect2018,” he adds.

For more information, be sure to check out the Con.ect Facebook Page.

A FOR ANKI

Anki is gaining popularity as a powerful learning tool that is fun, easy to use and makes for efficient studying. It’s a free review app that I use on my android supporting smartphone and laptop – and as a nature conservation student, it has been great!

I came across it initially while searching for a way to retain as much of my study material as possible for an extended period. I used to spend a lot of time studying for a test during the semester then move on to other materials for other tests that were coming up. However, because I wasn’t reviewing my earlier work I’d lose more than half of the already covered material. The result would then be going back to re-study everything for exams causing a lot of lost time and frustration on my part.

The app works by allowing you to review already studied material in intervals of days, weeks and months based on your rated difficulty to recall it. It’s in flashcard format and uses spaced repetition by quizzing you. Once you answer the question you are requested to indicate whether recalling the information was easy, hard or extremely difficult.

For example:

  1. Easy – review after 4 days,
  2. Hard – review in 1 day,
  3. Very difficult – review again in ten minutes or same day.

The easy cards get pushed to the back for another time so that you can focus on the ones you find difficult. The easier you find recalling the information, the further in time the cards get pushed. By using spaced repetition, you get the most out of your learning and study efficiently because you spend more time on material that needs more reviewing and less on what doesn’t.

I use the Anki app for all my modules and it has helped me immensely in retaining information especially for plants and animal anatomy. What I add to flashcards depends only on creativity and ingenuity.

I found that the app doesn’t need an expensive phone or special equipment and it doesn’t drain battery. It’s also quite convenient. I find myself using it everywhere especially when having to wait in queues for long periods such as at the bus stop, bank, home affairs and so on.

While traditional handmade flash cards also work for reviewing and revising, they aren’t as durable as the Anki app and can get lost. They also don’t allow you to add pictures, voice notes or videos. All these features on the app aid recall and memory retention in less study time.

I highly recommend trying out Anki while preparing for tests or exams. But although it’s a great app on its own, one needs consistency when putting in the time and work to review school work and study materials.