BigGeekLittleGeek

A geek parent in South Africa


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XBox One

The next generation Microsoft console, the ‘Xbox One” was revealed this week.

New XBOX ONE

Here are the some of the highlights:

  • The Xbox One is positioning itself as an all-in-one entertainment unit rather than just a console; the HDMI pass-through will allow South African users to plug their DSTV decoders into the xbox; the machine is powerful enough to allow users to instantly flip between games, tv, movies and browsing the internet
  • While single player games will be able to be played without internet connection, many games will be constantly improved by an always-on connection that will provide the in game content
  •  Voice and hand gestures will be improved dramatically with the addition of the Kinect 2.0 with every console; you can even switch on the xbox with a voice command
  • Xbox live will be run on 300 000 game servers, more computing power than existed on the planet in 1999; your current xbox live account will be transferred over to the new Xbox One, including all achievements and gamerscore
  • Xbox 360 will not be able to be played on the new console
  • Games will still be able to be resold on the 2nd hand market (http://majornelson.com/2013/05/21/xbox-one-and-used-games/)
  • Also, unrelated to the actual console, Steven Spielberg will be making a live action Halo TV series

While the console has been getting lots of flak from critics, I was very impressed with the overall direction of the technology. I will definitely purchase one when it releases at the end of the year.


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Mushroom Park

We’re always looking for places to take the little geek and a family member recently recommended Mushroom Farm Park in Sandton. Today we trekked over there and we weren’t disappointed.


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Activities:

For the little ones there is a sandpit, swings, jungle gym and slides and a few other things to climb. There is a huge amounts of space for kids to run and a path for them to ride their bikes and scooters.

For adults there are a number of tables to use or open spaces to lay a picnic blanket on, an extensive list of birds species that populate the park to look out for and some outdoor gym equipment.


MP 2

How to get there:

The park is at the heart of Sandton, in the same complex as the giant Hyundai balloon, so it’s hard to miss. It is situated just off Rivonia Road on Daisy Street, opposite the Radisson Blu Hotel. I’ve included a map below. Also, it’s worth mentioning that security patrol regularly and the toilets are well maintained.

MP 1

Overall:

Definitely a great way to get away from the hustle of Sandton. Take a picnic blanket and spend a lazy Sunday afternoon with your family.


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Board Gaming Review: Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan was developed in 1995 and has become one of the most popular board games in the world, with an estimated 15 million copies sold. While I realise it has been around for quite a while, I finally took the plunge and bought a copy at rAge last year.

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Gameplay

In Settlers of Catan, players take up the role of settlers on the island of Catan. Each player attempts to build settlements and cities, while earning and trading resources. The island board is made up of hexagon tiles of resource types – sheep, wheat, brick, stone and wood. Each tile is assigned a number between 2 and 12 according to a set pattern.

 

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On each turn, the dice is rolled and any player with a settlement or city adjacent to a tile with the rolled number, is given that resource. Players can buy roads, settlements or cities with earned resources; trading and bartering with other players for scarce resources becomes essential to winning.

You can also purchase development cards, which gives you Knights or additional resources. Building cities, settlements, owning the longest road or the largest army gives you Victory points. The first player to 10 points wins the game.

Overall, I enjoy this game because while it can easily picked up by first-time players, it requires significant time to master: it requires almost an equal focus on strategy and your ability to barter and negotiate with other players. It is a great way to spend a lazy Sunday evening.

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Gameplay: 3-4 players (up to 6 players if you buy the expansion)

Time: 2 to 3 hours

Cost: R495 (Exclusive books, http://www.boardgames.co.za)

Pros: Sociable, replay-ability, focus on strategy

Gameplay: 10/10;

Social: 7/10

Overall Score: 9/10


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Government vs Private Vaccines

Every parent faces many new expenses, the majority of which are medical. Vaccines are a big portion of this.

There are two types of vaccines: government and private. There are a number of smaller differences between the two – the number of injections you have to administer, how often you have take the baby and most importantly, the cost. A single set of private vaccines can cost up to R1800, while the same government vaccines cost around R30. And these are repeated around six times over the course of the first two years. The one caveat is that they cannot guarantee the government vaccines are always refrigerated and has more risk

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A fellow tweeter Nick Callegari, recommended Bedfordview Mother and Baby Center (BMBC). The nurses at BMBC typically do a full assessment of the baby and you can ask them anything that typically paranoid parents are too shy to ask. The consultation and government vaccines costs around R400-R500 per visit. This is still a massive saving.

So before you go off and get the private vaccines, think about the R10 000 you might be overspending. And all the geeky gadgets you could be buying instead.

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Bedfordview Mother and Baby Center can be found here:

Location: Germiston, Gauteng, South Africa
Street Address: 32 Lucas Lane, Bedfordview, 2007
Telephone: 011 450 0224

>>>>>>


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WWE ‘13 Review

(As first published on ITWeb)

WWE ’13 has been hyped as a new revolution in the wrestling gaming genre. While the core of the title is still a brilliant fighting game, THQ succeeds in significantly improving the story and creating a more fluid game.

The game plays like a typical WWE game: button mash until the opponent is weak and take him down through traditional signature moves. The controls are simple and intuitive, making it simple to pick-up. There are also a number of smaller changes to the controls like auto-finishers that make that it easier to play.

WWE 1

The typical shallow single player story is thrown out for a linear, six chapter story of the Attitude era:  a period of 90’s when the dominance of WWE is being challenged by the WCW, a rival wrestling company. The Attitude era story revolves around the WWE’s biggest stars (including the Rock, Triple H and others) and how they help to make the WWE the preeminent wrestling company. The story engaging, fun and replays some of the most memorable fights and plot points of the last 20 years.

Unfortunately, not everything works well in the game. The sound and commentary is cut from live matches and the camera is changes to match approach used on TV. Unfortunately neither of these works and takes away from the theatrics of the game. The commentary is very distracting, the sound doesn’t always match the feel of the match and the camera shifts are jarring and confusing.

WWE 2

Customisation is a huge part of the franchise and there is a massive amount that can be done – from customising your wrestlers looks and moves, all the way to the wrestling ring and arenas. These can also be uploaded to the online community with a relative amount of ease. The one negative is that the menu was very clunky and needs significant improvement.

WWE 3

This is probably the best wrestling game in the WWE series. The new story mode is fun, controls are intuitive and makes for a great party game. While the game is definitely unpolished and there is significant room for improvement, it will definitely satisfy fans of genre.

Pros:  Attitude era story is great, controls are intuitive, great party game

Cons: Sound, commentary and camera angles are poor, framerate issues

Score: 7/10