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Gaming monsters coming for you

As eSports takes off professionally and gaming becomes more serious for young and old, new machines from Acer take performance to new levels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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Around May every year, Taipei-headquartered computer-maker Acer invades New York City with its latest machines. Every year, too, it raises the bar on its gaming machines, as it pursues market share in this high-margin sector.

At its next@acer global press conference in New York last week, it launched a series of specialist machines that can only be described as gaming monsters. Appropriately, they all came with branding of the Predator range, underlining their purpose as weapons of gaming war.

The new Predator Orion 5000 desktops offer both high performance and an adaptable chassis. The message? You can adapt and expand this machine as your need – and competitiveness – grows. The slogan Acer used for it at the launch left the audience in no doubt about the intention of the machine, both in the marketing war and in users’ own wars: “Win the battle”.

The Predator Orion range can be customised based on budget, which is just as well, since the 5000 starts at US$1500. That’s quite accessible for serious gamers in the USA, but in South Africa will translate into well over R20 000 when it arrives in the second half of the year. The top of the range version will cost around R30-40 000, and is expected to have niche appeal among serious gamers. 

It comes with an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8700K processor, along with the Intel Z370 chipset, and 2-way NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphic cards in SLI. This allows both exceptionally high-resolution graphics and a decent virtual reality experience. 

According to Steve Long, vice president of client computing group sales and marketing at Intel, “The 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8700K is the best desktop gaming Intel has ever built and, when combined with the acceleration and responsiveness offered by Intel Optane memory, the result is incredible performance needed for the most demanding gaming experiences.”

He said that Intel collaborated closely with Acer to bring this performance to life on the Predator Orion 5000 and 3000 gaming desktops.

The monsters are designed for showing off too, thanks to transparent side panels on the chassis. The panels also open easily to allow users to swop out components and cables for quick upgrades. 

One of the biggest challenges of high-end rigs, heat dissipation, is addressed with a technology called IceTunnel 2.0, an airflow management design that segments the system into separate thermal zones, each expelling heat through its own  airflow tunnel. Another challenge, of dust being sucked in as the machine pulls in air, is warded off with a front mesh panel containing dust filters. 

The hard-core gamer can also opt for Killer LAN high-speed Ethernet, cradles for audio headsets, and even a carry-handle for portability.

“Getting the specs right is just half the fight,” said Jeff Lee, general manager for stationary computing at Acer. “Predator Orion desktops provide a well-rounded choice for gamers with a striking chassis, built-in airflow management, expandability, and award-winning software that brings everything together.”

To this end, a slightly scaled-down series, the Predator Orion 3000, offers wider choice for the more budget conscious, starting at around US$1000. For the beginner, however, it will be hard to tell the difference in performance between the two. The 3000 also offers options that include 8th Gen Intel Core i7processors and  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPUs. However, it is described as VR- ready rather than supporting VR out of the box.

Next: The Predator laptops (click on 2 below to read on)

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Kenya tool to help companies prepare for emergencies

After its team members survived last week’s Nairobi terror attack, Ushahidi decided to release a new preparedness tool for free, writes its CEO, NAT MANNING

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On Tuesday I woke up a bit before 7am in Berkeley, California where I live. I made some coffee and went over to my computer to start my work day. I checked my Slack and the news and quickly found out that there was an ongoing terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The Ushahidi office is in Nairobi and about a third of our team is based there (the rest of us are spread across 10 other countries).

As I read the news, my heart plummeted, and I immediately asked the question, “is everyone on my team okay?”

Five years ago Al-Shabaab committed a similar attack at the Westgate Mall. We spent several tense hours figuring out if any of our team had been in the mall, and verifying that everyone was safe. We found out that one of our team member’s family was caught up in the attack. Luckily they made it out.

At Ushahidi we make software for crisis response, including tools to map disasters and election violence, and yet we felt helpless in the face of this attack. In the days following the Westgate attack, our team huddled and thought about what we could build that would help our team — and other teams — if we found ourselves in a similar situation to this attack again. We identified that when we first learned of the attack, nearly everyone at Ushahidi had spent that first precious few hours trying to answer the basic questions, “Is everyone okay?”, and if not, “Who needs help?” 

People had ad-hoc used multiple channels such as WhatsApp, called, emailed, or texted. We had done this for each person at Ushahidi (their job), in our families, and important people in our community. Our process was unorganised, inefficient, repetitive, and frustrating.

And from this problem we created TenFour, a check in tool that makes it easier for teams to reach one another during times of crisis. It is a simple application that lets people send a message to their team via SMS, Slack, Voice, email, and in-app, and get a response. It also works for educational institutions, companies with distributed staff, as well as part of neighbourhood networks like neighbourhood watches.

This week when I woke up to the news of the attack at Riverside, I immediately opened up the TenFour app.

Click here to read how Nat quickly confirmed the safety of his team.

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Kia multi-collision airbags

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The world’s first multi-collision airbag system has been unveiled by Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary KIA Motors, with the aim of improving airbag performance in multi-collision accidents.

Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as other vehicles, trees, or electrical posts, which occur in three out of every 10 accidents. Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy. 

However, the multi-collision airbag system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact, by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants.

The new technology detects occupants’ positions in the cabin following an initial collision. When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of the Hyundai Motor Group’s Chassis Technology Centre. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in USA, about 30% of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8%), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5%), highway median strip collisions (8.0%), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0%). 

These multi-collision scenarios were analysed in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions. Once commercialised, the system will be implemented in future new KIA vehicles. 

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