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Comic Con Africa goes big

With double the floor space of last year, Comic Con Africa organisers are ensuring more expo goers can experience the fun.

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Comic Con Africa is back for its second annual expo later this month. This year at a much larger venue. 

“Last year, we experienced an overwhelming turnout,” says Carol Weaving, MD of Reed Exhibitions Africa. “We were only expecting 30,000 to attend, but it ended up attracting 45,000. This year, we’ve made sure to accommodate for many more fans by hosting Comic Con Africa 2019 at the much larger Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.”

Last year, the enormous turn-out left many at the door of Kyalami Racing Circuit’s expo space. The long parking area had many walking for a while until they reached the expo space.

“For cosplayers, walking in the sun and sweating was not ideal,” says Weaving. “This year, we thought carefully about the experience of expo goers and we made sure to pick the venue based on larger expo space for fans to walk freely. We also considered the parking and chose Gallagher Convention Centre because of its large parking space that is closer to the building’s entrances.”

With almost 300 exhibitors offering event specials on gaming hardware and accessories, apparel, pop-culture merchandise, comics, figurines, among others, there are many reasons to visit and stock up on sought-after collectables and new releases.

The list of guests that fans can expect to see at Comic Con Africa is awe-inspiring as international stars like legendary actor, author, producer and director, William Shatner, who became a cultural icon for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek franchise. Anthony Mackie, who has achieved global recognition with his portrayal of the Falcon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will also be at Comic Con Africa 2019. 

Celebrating and promoting local talent is crucial for the development of the local industry. Comic Con Africa have invited local artists such as Clyde Beech, who has worked on and helped develop some of the top comic books in the country, such as superhero comic Kwezi and soccer comic series Supa Strikas, as well as Loyiso Mkize, who worked as head illustrator for the Supa Strikas and on projects such as the Archie comics. 

Visitors will also be able to meet and interact with local trailblazers like Jason Masters, who has worked on various Batman titles including Legends of the Dark Knight, Guardians of the Galaxy, Wolverine and X-Men as well as Sean Izaakse, a Marvel illustrator and comic artist who has worked on comics such as The Thunderbolts, Avengers, Deadpool, Captain America, and The Uncanny Avengers.

Over the four days, they will be joined by comic book artist Will Sliney, best known for working on Marvel’s Amazing-Spiderman, and Venom comic author Donny Cates. Nolan North, an actor and voice actor, known for characters such as Desmond Miles from the Assassin’s Creed series and Troy Baker, who voiced Joel in The Last of Us (a Game of the Year winner), have become two of the most prolific voice actors in gaming, and will be among the international guests present at Comic Con Africa this year.

Along with meet and greets, photo and autograph opportunities and panel discussions with international and local guests, visitors will be able to commission custom drawings, as well as get comic books signed and the signatures verified at the Artist Alley.

Cosplayers will be arriving in their numbers to sing at the Cosplay Karaoke Café, compete in the Championships of Cosplay competition and meet international guests like model, actress and producer LeeAnna Vamp, and Italian cosplayer Leon Chiro, who is currently working for Riot Games as the official cos-model for the champion Rakan from League of Legends.

Comic Con Africa is a multi-genre entertainment and comic convention that features comic books, games, arts, movies, pop culture elements and so much more. For more information about Comic Con Africa 2019, visit: https://www.comicconafrica.co.za/en.html

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The PC is back!

… and 2020 will be its big year, writes CHRIS BUCHANAN, client solutions director at Dell Technologies

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Concept Ori

It turns out the PC’s death has been exaggerated. PC sales grew between 1.1% and 1.5% in the last few quarters of the year, according to Gartner. While those don’t sound like massive leaps, they represent a large market that has been declining for several years. Windows 10 is credited for this surge, especially as Windows 7 is leading towards its end of life (EOL).

But I don’t think that is the entire picture. Windows 10 upgrades have been taking place for several years, and the market has also gotten savvier about managing EOL. Other factors are driving the adoption of PCs.

A specific one is how much closer the PC now sits to smartphones. I recently watched some youngsters work with laptops that had touchscreens. They hardly ever touched the keyboard, instead tapping and swiping on the screen. Yet they were still working on a laptop, not a smartphone. Certain things are much easier to do on a PC than a phone, and users are realising this. They aren’t relinquishing the convenience of their smartphones but applications are now available on PC’s and often easier to use.

Convertible or 2-in-1 machines have closed the gap between the two device types. This is in contrast to tablets. If you observe how people sit with tablets, it’s the opposite of smartphones or laptops. With the latter, we sit forward, attentive and focused. But tablets often prompt people to recline. It’s just a casual observation, yet I believe that PCs and smartphones have much more overlap with each other than pure tablet devices. Additionally, the convertible laptop has become the new tablet.

Chris Buchanan

Why does this bode well for PCs in 2020? 2-in-1 machines break down the barriers between the utility of a PC and collaborative culture of a smartphone. You can now flip a laptop into tent mode and use it as an interactive presentation screen on a boardroom table, or cradle it like a clipboard you jot on with a digital pen.

In the next year, we’ll see more of the market responding to this trend. Premium 2-in-1 devices have a stable and growing audience of users who are now going into their second, third and even fourth generations of devices. Mid-range and entry-level laptops are also starting to adopt touchscreens and flip displays.

2-in-1 devices are also pushing innovation, such as the emergence of dual-screen systems. Dell revealed two such concept devices at CES this year: Project Duet, a dual screen laptop, and Project Ori (for origami), a more compact approach to foldable devices. We also unveiled Project UFO, a prototype Alienware device that puts triple-A PC gaming into a handheld device. All of these reflect the desire for touch-enabled devices that are portable without sacrificing performance or excellence. They definitely point us to the future.

Convertible devices are not a new form factor. I can recall the first flip-over touchscreen designs appearing 15 years ago. Back then they were exotic and the standard laptop ruled the roost. But today, the habits and expectations of users are driving a change decisively towards convertible devices.

Desktop PCs are meanwhile becoming more specialised, yet also more widely appreciated for their versatility. Specialist non-Windows PCs, such as those used by designers, are being replaced by Windows PCs, often for lower costs. Integrated discrete graphics chips and other advancements add a lot of value to modern desktops. The smartphone overlap also appears here: many people use services such as Whatsapp Web on their PCs, and Dell customers use the Dell Mobile Connect app to show their smartphone screen on their PC display.

There is a new synergy between the PC and smartphone, created by users who find the two complement each other. Not everyone has realised this yet, but in 2020 that will be the resounding message. The PC is back and 2020 will be its year.

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Jaguar designs ‘seat of the future’

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Jaguar Land Rover is developing the seat of the future – a pioneering shape-shifting system designed to improve customer wellbeing by tackling the health risks of sitting down for too long.

The ‘morphable’ seat, being trialled by Jaguar Land Rover’s Body Interiors Research division, uses a series of actuators in the seat foam to create constant micro-adjustments that make your brain think you’re walking, and could be individually tailored to each driver and passenger.

More than a quarter of people worldwide – 1.4 billion – are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles, which can shorten muscles in the legs, hips and gluteals causing back pain. The weakened muscles also mean you are more likely to injure yourself from falls or strains. 

By simulating the rhythm of walking, a movement known as pelvic oscillation, the technology can help mitigate against the health risks of sitting down for too long on extended journeys with some drivers doing hundreds of kilometres per week. 

Dr Steve Iley, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Medical Officer, said: “The wellbeing of our customers and employees is at the heart of all our technological research projects. We are using our engineering expertise to develop the seat of the future using innovative technologies not seen before in the automotive industry to help tackle an issue that affects people across the globe.”

Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles already feature the latest in ergonomic seat design, with multi-directional adjustments, massage functions and climate control fitted across the range. Dr Iley has also issued advice on how to adjust your seat to ensure the perfect driving position, from removing bulky items in your pocket, to shoulder positioning and from ensuring your spine and pelvis are straight to supporting your thighs to reduce pressure points. View the video here.

The research is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s commitment to continually improving customer wellbeing through technological innovation. Previous projects have included research to reduce the effects of motion sickness and the implementation of ultraviolet light technology to stop the spread of colds and flu. 

Together, these efforts are driving towards Destination Zero; Jaguar Land Rover’s ambition to make societies safer and healthier, and the environment cleaner – a responsible future for our workers, customers and communities around us. Through relentless innovation, Jaguar Land Rover is adapting product and services to meet the rapidly-changing world.

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