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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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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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