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A new dimension in computer golf

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By ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

Review: The Golf Pro, Featuring Gary Player

It’s not often that South Africa plays a significant role in an international computer game, but The Golf Pro even goes as far as including a local kid in the sub-title. Not that you’d call Gary Player a kid, but then what is he doing endorsing something called a Mouse Drive?

That is the supposedly revolutionary new trend in golfing games. Instead of basing your swings on a meter, which gives you an indication of when to begin a swing, you swing the mouse itself. Sound difficult? Well, let’s go to the Gadget Four-Question user Test:

  1. Is it ready to use? Yes, set-up is as quick as loading a CD and clicking a few buttons.
  2. Is it easy to use? No and Yes. No, not when you first move from traditional meter swinging to mouse swinging. As the makers acknowledge, it’s simple in principle: “The golf shot is controlled by the movement of the mouse. Move the mouse back, and the on-screen golfer takes a back swing. Move it forward and the golfer hits through the ball.” Nothing could be simpler? Once you get used to it – after a few hours play, perhaps – Yes. You probably couldn’t go back to the old way.
  3. Does it operate as advertised? Let’s start by saying this isn’t the first golf game to use a mouse. SimGolf called it the MouseSwing; Front Page Sports: Golf called it the TrueSwing. So much is made of this gimmick, that any assessment of the game must revolve around it. So here’s the first problem: when the sun pours in through the window onto my mouse mat, or when I leave a window open and dust gets into the mouse, the mouse becomes sluggish, and The Golf Pro becomes as usable as Windows Terminal. Of course, that’s non fault of the game, but a little more fault tolerance would help those of us who don’t use our PCs in a clinical environment. Secondly, and this is perhaps a plus rather than a minus, moving the mouse side to side also has a significant effect on a swing, and this takes far more getting used to than the backward and forward motion the makers suggest is all you need to make. The consequence, however, is greater complexity, and thus a more interesting game. You get to start at Beginner level and work your way up through Amateur to Pro. At the same time, you can choose between three types of major game play: stroke play, match play and Stableford, and you can play each in multiplayer modes. No game nowadays is complete without modem support, and even The Golf Pro is succumbing to it – but not yet. While it supports serial, modem and network links to allow matches between four players at a time, Internet support requires the Linked Play Upgrade, which is not yet available. Bearing in mind that this is a MouseDrive and not a golf club, gameplay is satisfyingly realistic. If you’re a beginner and want to get a handle on the basics before making a fool of yourself in front of your business contacts on a real golf course, Gary Player is on hand to teach you – in simulation and on video – how to go that extra yard. Finally, the game is a little disappointing in terms of graphical treatment. Computerised golf has long set a standard in graphic treatment – all those green expanses lend themselves to the screen – but this one doesn’t take the concept any further. View angles, depth of scenery, rendering of new scenes as you move about – all of these fall down behind the mephasis on the mouse. In this age of virtual reality games, the PC golfer will no doubt have seen other games on screen, and will wonder why this one pays so little attention to the visual needs of the modern computerised lifestyle. It must be said, at the same time, that the live commentary is fun, and the golf courses themselves look magnificent.
  4. Is it value for money? Yes, for the serious computer golfer, $44,95 (around R299 in South Africa, depending on outlet) is a bargain for a fresh experience. And no, action gamers should keep away.

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How social distance has transformed health services

The COVID-19 crisis has quickly transformed healthcare, ranging from hospital protocols to how doctors see patients, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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A doctor friend recently came into contact with a patient who had been exposed to a family member who had contracted coronavirus. In line with protocols his clinic had adopted in addressing the COVID-19 crisis, he had to be tested himself and then self-isolate for 14 days.

While he waited for the test results, he set up his practice at home, and moved all appointments from physical to telephonic and video-conferenced consultations. And a remarkable thing happened: he was able to see far more patients in far less time. No less than 50 consultations were completed in the first few days.

This is a scenario that is playing itself out across the world.

A week before the lockdown began in South Africa, Discovery Health announced that it was expanding access to its online doctor consultation platform, DrConnect. It invited members who thought they were ill or thought they may have symptoms to do virtual consultations with their doctors.

The benefit was obvious, said the medical insurance provider: “This will prevent medical facilities from becoming overcrowded with people, possibly spreading infection to others.”

To avoid members rushing to use the facility, it required them to visit a COVID-19 hub and answer a series of “risk assessment questions” to determine if they needed to have a virtual consultation. If your own doctor is not available, a dedicated COVID-19 Care Team of doctors is on standby, and the patients are guided through a few steps to book the virtual consultation.

Last week, the service went a step further: Vodacom partnered with Discovery to offer the benefit to all South Africans during the pandemic.

“Globally, telemedicine has proved invaluable in the management of this disease, with many governments and healthcare systems advocating for digital healthcare tools and virtual consults to be the first step and primary means of healthcare support during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Vodacom in a statement. “The COVID-19 risk assessment and virtual healthcare tools can help to identify people who need health professional engagement and a potential referral for testing or to a hospital.”

The service also helps to bridge the digital divide between the privileged who have the tools and data for videoconferencing and the less privileged who can barely afford data on their smartphones. The online healthcare platform is available on any web or mobile phone, and allows for a full consultation with a doctor through video or audio calls, or by text.

Vodacom and Discovery have also jointly created a fund to pay doctors for approximately 100 000 consultations, making them free to any South African.

“Our partnership with Discovery can go a long way in alleviating any increased pressure on healthcare practitioners while at the same time empowering citizens by connecting them to doctors,” says Vodacom group CEO Shameel Joosub. “As a leading technology company, we are optimistic about the capabilities of digital connectivity to transform the lives of our communities. Through the online doctor consultation platform, anyone looking for COVID-19 related information will be connected to a network of doctors who will be readily available to answer their questions.”

Adrian Gore, CEO of Discovery Group, says the initiative is in line with the company’s core purpose: making people healthier.

“In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that purpose is very simple – we need to keep South Africans out of harm’s way,” he says. “We are very hopeful that this initiative will make a huge impact on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa – for the good of all our citizens.”

It is no only ordinary individuals but doctors, too, who have to climb the steep learning curve towards the new world and ways of healthcare.

My own general practitioner has resisted new technology for years. Now, his smartphone has become a lifeline for his patients, and a tool to protect himself as far as it is practical.

Doctors have also been invited to download the Discovery HealthID and DrConnect apps to join the virtual healthcare platform. Those who are behind the technology curve receive guidance on how to consult, as well as how to receive payment from a dedicated fund that Discovery and Vodacom have set up for these specific consultations. A total of 10,000 free consultations are initially being provided as part of the service.

This service, and similar ones globally, will mark a watershed in the history of telemedicine, defined by the US Health Resources and Services Administration as “distribution of health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies”.

It is not a new concept in South Africa. As far back as 2008, Cape Town social entrepreneur Marlon Parker founded an organisation called RLabs – for Reconstructed Living Labs – in a marginalised community known as Bridgetown. The initial purpose was to counsel drug addicts, and its primary tool was the now-defunct instant messaging tool Mxit.

The service expanded into Mxit Reach, which create free mobile educational, health care, agricultural and community resources. While Mxit is gone, RLabs still focuses on skills training and economic empowerment opportunities.

It showed how even the most basis cellphone could be roped in to change people’s lives, at a distance. More than a decade later, the entire health industry is waking up to the need and the benefit of such approaches.

Visit the next page to read about how to get an online doctor’s appointment.

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Dell offers deferment of payment for financed IT

Dell Technologies South Africa announces payment deferment options for new and existing customers

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To help organisations limit the unprecedented pressure put on their cash flow and financing by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dell Technologies South Africa is announcing payment deferment options for current and new customers financed through Dell Financial Services (DFS).

DFS offers 3- and 6-month payment deferment on end-user devices and enterprise systems bought by South African companies, covering financing arrangements from R250,000 to R15 million. Once the deferment has been applied for and processed, subject to credit approval, buyers of end-user devices can enjoy a delay of up to 3 months, while enterprise systems buyers can do so for up to 6 months.

The deadline for deferment approvals closes on 31 July – it requires 10-14 days to process applications, so do not hesitate. By successfully applying for the deferment, a company can delay payments for its financing contract with DFS as well as gain protection against the volatile Rand/Dollar exchange rate.

DFS customers also have the benefit of locking in a rate today. Interest will be compounded at the lowest rate, decided on a case-by-case. In addition, Dell will support extended warranties to include the added deferment period.

New customers can take advantage of the offer to begin their technology modernisation and refreshment projects. This deferment is an opportunity to secure their organisations’ futures further, pending on credit approval. Talk to a Dell consultant today on the best technology options, and delay payments while enjoying the advantages from the start. The deferred payment offer is only applicable to financed transactions.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is creating unexpected and unusual financial pressures for South African companies,” said Monique Watson at Dell Financial Services. “We want to support local companies and the economy during this difficult period, enabling them to continue their growth and output without worrying that their modernisation investments will be undone. If we all stand together, we can overcome the damage of this pandemic.”

Organisations can start applying today and reap the benefits within 14 days. Don’t delay – the deadline for approvals is 31 July 2020. Deploy now, pay later, and enjoy some cash flow relief with Dell Financial Services’ payment deferment offer.

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