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SA’s Home of Super-heroes back in town

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South Africa’s ultimate Geekfest convention, ICON, returns to Gallagher Estate on the Youth Day weekend.

The 25th edition of the ICON Comic and Games Convention (ICON CGC), dubbed “Home of the Super-Hero”, returns to Johannesburg’s Gallagher Convention Centre from 16 to 18 June 2017, over the Youth Day Long Weekend.

It is South Africa’s longest running and largest pop culture event – the prime destination for leading gaming and pop culture experts and anyone looking to celebrate their fantasy world while being immersed in a compelling and exciting storyline. This celebration of gaming, story-telling, role-playing and tech positions ICON CGC as the ideal introduction to gaming for people of all ages and interests.

SA’s most important gathering of geeks, it is seen by industry insiders as being on a par with the best hobby gaming conventions in the world.

There is a geek in all of us. Geeks set the stage for incredible story-telling, and thanks to this, we’re witness to it in mainstream life. Countless big budget sci-fi and fantasy television series and mass market blockbuster movies we see today are based on comics and games, previously seen as the purview of ‘geekdom’ alone. Conventions such as #ICON2017 facilitate a rapidly growing audience being able to join and learn from the geeks who created such entertainment masterpieces. Entertainment that is based on incredible story-telling.

This year ICON raises its ‘game’ substantially, showcasing international guests, local thought leaders, over 40 speaker panels, expert player showdowns, a comedy event and innovative activations including multinational tech giants such as Canon Gigabyte and MakerBot, amongst others. Media Partners, Student Brands and Nickelodeon will ensure that the best moments of this 25th Edition live on beyond the boundaries of the convention.

Whether you’re into card or table-top gaming, LARPing, tech-gaming or Cosplaying, an aspiring author or even a regular console fanatic, the highly acclaimed Convention will help define the how-to of the increasingly mainstream and sophisticated gaming industry. Fantasists, mythologists, tech heads, role-players and more come into an immersive world such as ICON to be inspired, learn, experiment, observe and compete in a celebration of fantasy worlds and story-telling.

“We’ve learnt from a quarter century convening ICON that geeks are no longer on the fringe,” says ICON director Les Allen. “Mainstream media exposure has made their expertise, enthusiasm and points of obsession with hobbies and intellectual pursuits accessible. Gaming and storytelling releases a part of everyone’s being, we just facilitate access to it in a myriad of ways.”

International Cosplay Guest of Honour for #ICON2017, Linda Le, aka “Vampy Bit Me”, is rated as one of the ten most popular cosplayers in the world. Gaming industry insider James Stutter, a published author and the co-creator of the fantasy Pathfinder’ Roleplaying Game and creative director of the new space version Starfinder, also joins the convention. Both will participate in the convention for all three days.

Those looking forward to the much anticipated movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets can win double passes to the film’s first screening in South Africa on 21 July by attending either of two Valerian panels at ICON2017. The panel titled “Create an Alien” will see James designing an alien species from the ground up, based on a world from the Valerian cosmos. Partnering James is Sean Izaakse, current artist on Marvel’s “Avengers” comic book – he’ll be drawing the monster as James designs it.

Local thought leaders in the line-up of panellists include tech analyst and commentator Arthur Goldstuck, and Nikki Bush, well know columnist and specialist in the field of “child play” and development matters.

Visitors to the convention have an opportunity to be real super heroes by visiting the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) drive and donate to help save lives. One lucky donor stands the chance of winning a 3D printed replica of themselves as a superhero – sponsored by MakerBot, the global leader in the 3D printing industry.

As with previous years, the Saturday (17 June) sees six of SA’s funniest comedians take to the stage at the ICON Comedy Evening to make light of geek culture.

EVENT DETAILS:

Venue:             Hall 2, Gallagher Convention Centre

Dates: Friday 16th June / Saturday 17th June / Sunday 18th June

Times:             Friday, Saturday: 9 am – 6 pm

Sunday, 9 am – 5 pm

TICKETING INFORMATION

Tickets are on sale now and start at R120 for a one day pass. Weekend passes and limited VIP tickets available.

Visit the ICON FB page http://www.facebook.com/ICONCGC or the www.iconcgc.co.za website to purchase tickets.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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