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Educators race to the rescue

It’s a great learning experience, not to mention excellent gaming for racing obsessives. And Microsoft’s CART performs like a well-oiled machine on the Gadget Four Question User Test…

Review: CART Precision Racing (Microsoft)

By GLENYS WILLIAMS-HESSE

  1. Is it ready to use? It’s a Microsoft Game, and hence slides easily into place; as usual, with Microsoft products, the interface is well designed and intuitive to use.The minimum specs given are P60 WITH 16 Mb of RAM, 30 Mb of hard disk space, 4x CD ROM. Again, “as usual,” with Microsoft products, the minimum specs are massively inadequate. Microsoft gives recommended specs of P160, 32 Mb RAM, 100 Mb hard disk space, and 6x CD ROM. I reckon that to get the game played properly, you’ll need a P200+ and at least 220 MB free on your hard drive (so that you can run the game from there, not the CD ROM). A 3D graphics accelerator and MMX capability won’t hurt, either.You will also, really, really, need a game controller – this is not one that can be played with keyboard buttons.All of this is an indication of the multimedia intensity of the game; It’s great on that front.
  2. Is it easy to use? Yes. Whatever else one feels about the Empire, their use of “educators” to help design interfaces and interactive learning situations has resulted in their producing software that the user can operate easily, straight out of the box; and learn the details of as he or she uses it. They’ve done this particularly well in their games. The Learning Campaign in Age of Empires is one example; the Racing School, levels of expertise and driver’s aids here are another. I loved the peripherals in this game, and going through them, learnt more about car set up and racing driving than a month of listening to wannabe Schumachers in the pub could have given me. Although this is specifically a CART game, a lot of what the game teaches you about car set up and driving can be applied to any racing situation and any racing sim.The best way to play this game, if you are not an extremely experienced racing sim player, is to start at Rookie level, switch on all the drivers aids, switching them off one by one as you gain experience.For car setup, the game provides a “garage” where you can change the setup on your car in every aspect that would be changeable in a real race. The game supplies a short explanatory .wav file with each parameter of change; as well as a section where a “Racing Engineer” can adjust the car to fit your driving style after you’ve answered some questions.There’s an extremely informative driving school, where techniques of cornering, driving and car setup are explained further, with video clips and animated diagrams to illustrate the points.
  3. Does it operate as advertised?Gameplay: There were, reportedly, some control problems with the initial release of this game, and with the AI controlling the other cars on the track. Versions of the game released since February this year have incorporated improvements that address these problems (the improved versions also incorporate an extra oval track: Miami). Owners of older versions of the game can download a patch from the Microsoft web site that should make the same improvements.Although the cars are difficult to handle, as they would be in Real Life, I found steering no more difficult than in, for example, GP2, and so can only presume that the ‘fix’ has worked there. I’m not sure that the AI, even after correction, is all that great, but knowing Microsoft, if a further fix is needed, there’ll be another patch available on their website soon.You can play a quick race, one weekend or a full season, on all of the tracks available in the ’97 CART season.Graphics: These are very good – so good, in fact, that they’re slightly boring. There’s not a lot to go “ooh” and “aah” over of three to six miles of concrete-walled road with a city-scape (especially a New World one) in the background. Still, they’re realistic.Fandom: The game follows the ’97 CART season closely; and you can choose to be whatever driver you like, although once you pick a driver, you can’t change his team. The default choice of driver is Zanardi, of course, although having witnessed his first win, I tried to be Dario Franchetti for a bit.There is a track editor available for download from the Microsoft site; and, ambling around the www, I have run into unofficial sites supporting this game, where tracks and updated liveries and teams are available for download, lists of best lap times kept, and news of upcoming multi-player games are announced. For the obsessive CART fan, this game opens channels to other obsessives.
  4. Is it value for money? Well, at around R399 (about $65), it’s expensive. For a first time Racing Sim buyer, though, I think it definitely is worth it, especially given the support Microsoft gives through its web site, and the amount of unofficial resources that are out there to supplement what you get in the box.

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3D printed room-service? Visit the hotel of tomorrow

To mark its 100th birthday, Hilton predicts the trends that will change travel and hospitality in the next 100 years.

Intergalactic getaways, fast-food nutrient pills, 2-3 hour working days and adaptable, personalised rooms that can transport guests everywhere from jungles to mountain ranges. These are some of the predictions for the next 100 years that the Hilton hotel group has put together in celebration of its 100th anniversary.

In a report supported by expert insight from the fields of sustainability, innovation, design, human relations and nutrition, findings reveal the impact of the growing sophistication of technology and climate change on the hotel industry in the future.

Key predictions for the hotel of the future include:

Personalisation is King

  • Technology will allow every space, fitting and furnishing to continuously update to respond to an individual’s real-time needs – the Lobby will conjure up anything from a tranquil spa to a buzzy bar, giving every guest the perfect, personal welcome
  • From temperature and lighting, to entertainment and beyond, microchips under the skin will enable us to wirelessly control the setting around us based on what we need, whenever we need it

The Human Touch

  • In a world filled with Artificial Intelligence, human contact and the personal touch will be more critical and sought after than ever
  • Technology will free up time for hotel staff to focus on what matters most: helping guests to connect with one another and building memorable moments

‘Sustainable Everything’ – The Role of Responsibility

  • Only businesses that are inherently responsible will survive the next century
  • Sustainability will be baked into everything about a hotel’s design – from weather-proofed domes, to buildings made from ocean-dredged plastic
  • Hotels will act as the Town Hall of any community, managing local resources and contributing to the areas they serve with community-tended insect farms and vertical hydroponic crop gardens

Menu Surprises and Personalisation

  • Our diets will include more plant-based recipes and some surprising sources of protein – Beetle Bolognese, Plankton Pies and Seaweed Green Velvet Cake will be menu staples!
  • Decadent 3D-printed dinners and room service will provide unrivalled plate personalisation
  • Chefs will be provided with biometric data for each guest, automatically creating meals based on preferences and nutritional requirements

Futuristic Fitness and Digital Detoxes

  • Outswim a virtual sea turtle in the pool, or challenge yourself to climb the digital face of Mount Everest, your exercise routine will be as unique as you are. What’s more, exercise energy generated from workouts will be used to power the hotel, providing a zero-impact, circular system. Guests could even earn rewards based on reaching workout targets
  • Pick up where you left off with trackable workouts and holographic personal trainers
  • Offline will be the new luxury as we seek to find moments of tech-free time

“Since its inception in 1919, Hilton has pioneered the hospitality industry, introducing first-to-market concepts such as air-conditioning and in-room televisions. Last year, Hilton also became the first hospitality company to set science-based targets to reduce its environmental impact,” said Simon Vincent, EVP & President, EMEA, Hilton. “We enter our second century with the same commitment to innovation, harnessing the power of our people and technology to respond to guest demands. Our research paints an exciting future for the hospitality industry, highlighting the growing importance of human interaction in an increasingly tech-centric world.”

Futurologist Gerd Leonhard said: “In 2119 we will still be searching for unique experiences, but they will be more personalised than ever. As technology shapes our lives we will seek out moments of offline connection with others, including hotel team members who will help us truly get what we need from our stays. 100 years from now hotels will have to create opportunities to converse, collaborate and connect, delivering moments that matter, individually, to each and every guest.”

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Gadget ed to chair Digital Council

Specialist financial services provider Sasfin Bank has established a Digital Advisory Council to provide the market with industry-leading expertise and insights on trends shaping the use of technology in financial services.

Digitalisation is one of the most powerful forces for change shaping Finance today. This has turned Fintech into one of the most vibrant sectors in both information technology and among start-ups, generating billions of dollars in investment and development globally. The South African fintech space is dynamic, and Sasfin is playing a leading role in the transformation of local financial services and the resulting enhancement of customer experiences.

“We have been investing in fintech development in-house and acquiring or integrating fintech start-ups,” says Sasfin CEO Michael Sassoon. “Over the last year we have built further digital offerings, integrated via APIs into leading businesses and invested in fintechs. We built and launched B\\YOND, an innovative digital business banking platform and SWIP, a digital wealth and investing platform. We have invested in Payabill, an online SME lender and DMA, a digital trading platform. We recently announced our alliance banking relationship, leveraging open banking, with Hello Paisa to offer seamless banking to the unbanked. We feel that there is a huge opportunity to improve the experience of South African businesses and savers through using technology. We have therefore created an independent forum to assess how to even better improve financial services for South Africans by leveraging the digital economy.”

Arthur Goldstuck, founder of high-tech research consultancy World Wide Worx, editor-in-chief of Gadget, and a globally respected technology analyst has accepted Sasfin’s invitation to head up the Sasfin Digital Advisory Council, an independent think tank that will help Sasfin and its clients decipher the fintech present and future.

“The Sasfin Digital Advisory Council is broader than providing only the bank with a source of insight on how digital services are evolving and lessons from across the world,” said CEO Michael Sassoon. “Sasfin has been involved in fintech investing for many years and we are leveraging this experience as well as the experience of independent experts such as Arthur to provide insights and guidance to interested stakeholders in this space.”

The team appointed to the Digital Advisory Council is being selected for the breadth and range of knowledge they would bring to the table, with further appointments to the Council being announced soon.  There will also be room for the Council to co-opt specialist expertise as it is required.

Goldstuck, who has been covering the fintech sector as an analyst, commentator and columnist for many years, says he sees the role as a welcome challenge.

“There has been a long-standing need for a clear understanding of the impact being made by fintech today, and the exponential change it will cause tomorrow,” said Goldstuck. “My role will be, partly, to curate the wide spectrum of fintech and digitalisation knowledge and insights that the members will bring to the Digital Advisory Council, and help create scenarios that businesses and policymakers may use to navigate the future – both inside and outside Sasfin.”

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