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SmallMafia Blog

Hacking the Piston

With the hardware world abuzz with news of Valve's new Steam-box, or PISTON as it may called; I got wondering.

If this smallform-factor PC does come into production, it will be owning a piece of history. Much like owning an Apple computer in some circles is a status symbol. But Apple products are extremely expensive. Large groups out on the interwebs have been building hackintosh's for the last couple of years with great success and great amounts of money being saved. This gave me the idea: Has anyone hackintoshedan oldish version of one of Xi3's small PC's, and if so - do you guys know of that persons project website?

Made in China is dead... Designed in China killed it

With China's economy slowing down and its entrepreneurs struggling alongside; the country looks like it needs an electric shock to get its heart beating at full throttle again. According to WIRED magazine; China's Venture Capital segment (financial capital provided to early high-potential, high-risk startup business') is set to bounce back.

While doing my morning web surf; one of my usual stops is a design / architectural website called Core77. Because I am not a designer; a lot of the articles posted I find irrelevant. This morning though had its grand exception. In the midst of Chinas economic turn, a project is being run that is hell bent on changing the worlds views of China within the industrial and commercial sector. Their moniker aptly goes: Made in China is dead Designed in China killed it.

Its no secret what the world thinks of Made in China, and with good reason. Many times China has pumped out products with a very low quality grade. Bundshop is the initiative of Diana Tsai (CEO), Lilly Bussman (Creative Director), Donnie Yu (Logistics and Operations Manager) and Ruzhie Jiang (Logistics Project Lead), and aims to bring awareness of Chinese designers to the Western World. At the same time; the Bundshop targets to change the preconceptions of Chinese products that the Western World currently has, and in turn, help transform the lives of these seemingly unknown designers. I have looked at some of the work of these designers and they are nothing short of gorgeous.

Its a sign of things to come from China. Not only are projects like Bundshop aiming to make a massive impact; but even the Chinese carmakers themselves have made good progress, in a relatively short amount of time, with their products. I for one am very impressed by this initiative and the hard work put in by the team. I believe, without a doubt, Bundshop will make a difference to the Western Worlds perceptions on Chinese products.

If you would like to take a look at the fuss I am making over this, head on down to www.bundshop.com or check out this video of the team which was posted up on Core77 http://www.core77.com/blog/exclusive/bundshop_to_source_showcase_and_sell_the_best_of_chinese_design_23704.asp

South Africa; the boiling pot getting hotter

Im not sure how many of you follow the news, but have any of you seen this?

http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/11/malema-and-the-miners-in-south-africa/

Before I start posting blogs about whats truly going on in this country, let me give you guys a brief background.

Julius Malema, former African National Congress Youth League leader, dropped out of school without completeing matric and failed horribly at Wood Work class. he has a gross salary of around R20,000 per month (About $2,352.94 currently at an exchange rate of R8.50 to $1), yet he has a R16,000,000 house currently under constrauction ($1,882,352.94), a rolex watch worth R100,00 ($11,764.71) and if Im not mistaken 2 cars worth R1,700,000 each ($200,000). he was tried for insighting violence, corruption and trying to overthrow the government - which he is still actively doing.

Take note that the unemployment rate in the country at the moment is so high that if you even get a job out of school/varsity regardless of what you studied - you are very lucky.

Let me know what you think. Oh and a boer (pronounced boor) is a farmer of Afrikaans origin, white families.

RAGE technical forum up!

Hey guys, sorry it took so long to get uploaded - I got sidetracked.....

Anyway if you were still wondering about the RAGE tech forum, or you've been itching to post slander and funny remarks; heres the link:

http://uk.gamespot.com/rage-2011/forum/rage-technical-problems-and-fixes-29276119/?msg_id=338054678#338054678

not sure why it got uploaded onto the UK server, but hey Im not going to complain.

I hope this forum helps and I will keep trying to post new findings along the way. Please feel free to comment and post your own fixes on there as well.

Rage about RAGE

I landed picking up RAGE for the PC last Thursday. Truth be told; I had no intention of picking the game up at all. What I saw at E3 2010/2011 didnt really blow my mind. Graphically the game didnt look too different from the style of Doom 3, nor did the latest IP by id Software look as if it was bringing anything new or innovative to the genre at all. What changed my mind in the end was I saw the title was on sale for an absolute pittance.

Before last Thursday; I had no idea of the number of bugs which plagued this title at launch, and still do. Off the bat - STEAM couldn't validate my CD Key. Now this is a bit of a shocking thing to happen to any gamer that has gone out of his or her own way to part with their hard earned cash, to have this message displayed to them. it took me a couple of hours playing around with my CD key changing a few character here and there. In the end, the original CD key validated, due to a cut out with STEAM's sexy server. Up until this point however, the problems only just started.

I am absolutely amazed at how, close to twenty years since id Software truly changed the video game and FPS genre completely, managed to churn out such a buggy game engine. While I am an id Software fanboy, theres a limit to how much a player should and can accept in terms of a games mishaps. Yes, no player can expect human-like AI, we also cant expect the most perfect blend of gameplay mechanics. But no gamer should have to settle for technology, especially in 2011, that just doesnt work.

I managed to get the game to work after a few days of tinkering and looking at Windows 7 in safe mode. RAGE now works perfectly stable and perfectly smooth, albeit not all the setting have been enabled while all the others are on the highest specs. RAGE is a solid shooter and pretty fun, once you pass all the hurdles to get it going first.

This whole tumult of getting a game to work, regardless of the price, begs the question whether or not id Software is truly as innovative as it used to be, and whether or not we really need games that introduce these madly powerful engines that boast amazing graphics, but nothing new in terms of stability or AI programming etc.
As a gamer; would you like to see games that dont push the boundaries in terms of graphical quality, but become more innovative and more story focused, more stable and more quality driven? Or do you feel that the way games are developed at the moment and what we are being offered by the industry is just as it should be?

PS: Due to the absolute frustration of trying to get RAGE to perfom with absolute perfection on the PC, I am going to start my own forum with problems that have cropped up for me personally and what I did to rectify them as best as possible. Ill post the link to the forum once started and I hope that for all of you awesome people reading my blog who have or are still struggling with RAGE - you will find good use out of it. Take care of yourselves!

iPad, Microsoft and Windows 8

So I've finally joined the Apple wagon and got myself an iPad 2. Truth be told; I was actually holding out for Microsoft's new Windows 8 tablets, but they're taking their time releasing the kit and due to Apple having released the New iPad just over a month ago, Apple was sporting some pretty prices on refurbished iPads.
I was actually quite skeptical purchasing a refurbished iPad, but considering it was 25% off the normal price in the USA and 60% off here in South Africa - I took the plunge. Its important to note that if you are purchasing a refurbished iPad from Apple USA; you will have to organise your own way of getting it shipped to you if you live outside of the USA.

I opted for the Refurbished iPad 2 in black, 16GB, Wifi-only flavor. Reason being; I'm using this primarily for work (Although cut-the-rope has somehow found its way into my apps collection) and signing up for a new data contract in such an economically difficult time just left the taste of sick ripe within my mouth. My refurbished tablet, as I was so surprised, actually looks brand new! Not a scratch.ipad2.jpg

There's something really beautiful with how iOS works; its smooth, good looking (not the best) and a very satisfying experience for the end user. Most of all however; the lack of fragmentation is a major plus for every user from hardcore to casual. I dont have to worry about files becoming lost or the need to defrag my SSD. I dont have to worry about updating my version of iOS like one would when upgrading the ROM of an android device, and best of all I dont have to worry about silly hidden system files bloating to the size of Hell's own spawn.

However the iPad is nothing new to the world of tech; round about 2000 Microsoft played with the idea of releasing a Windows Tablet which featured the full Windows OS with Microsoft Office. Nothing was to be stripped out - it was all there; the latest Intel P4 processor, 512Mb of RAM! Needless to say the whole project was a complete flop.

Trans_mstablet.jpg

In my opinion; it's not that the world wasn't ready for truly mobile computing - I think the world just wasn't ready to have to put their Microsoft tablets on defrag overnight once a week just to keep productive. I remember reading my (now truly old) PCFormat magazine at the time; the major gripe was one thing that still persists in Microsoft's ever flawed Windows architecture: bloat, fragmentation and generally rubbish file management systems. No-one was interested in a tablet device that at the time would have cost $581, just to see the blue screen of death. Microsoft even realised that their entire system was flawed; plugged the project and set about trying to make mobile versions of its popular Windows OS. It took apple nearly 10 years from that time to come out with iPad 1 - proof that the industry realised that much more work had to be done.

windows-8-tablet-angel.jpg

Now, 11 years later, Microsoft has been hard at work with Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows 8 for tablets; contracting big-name companies such as ARM and nVidia to jump on the band wagon. Hell they feel so confident that they're even releasing Windows 8 for the PC! Credit where it's due: the tablets look amazing (not so much the PC version of the OS), and their new mobile OS for phones look fantastic too; dare I say, better than iOS! However; there is still one gripe I have with it all; dig down deep enough into the kernel of Windows 8 and you will find essentially the same building blocks Microsoft has been using for years. What worries is that all the fears we had back in 2000, may not have necessarily been done away with completely. The file systems of Windows OS' are essentially all the same, the same blue-screen of death is still as prevalent in Windows 7 as much as it will be in Windows 8 and was in all previous versions. Times are tough, people require stable and dependable systems in order to stay connected and stay productive. As much as I want Windows 8 and its tablets to win - Im skeptical if perhaps behind all the glitz and glammer; there still lies that fat lady waiting to sing. And it'll be on our expense at that!

What do you think?

Marshall Minor - Review

"The heavy sound of Marshall has been carried over the world for nearly 50 years. Breathless roadies and roaring trucks have worked hard to make Marshall heard all across the globe. Now, time has come for you to carry this magnificent burden of rock 'n' roll all by yourself."

Pro's:
- Comforatable, even after long periods of listening.
- Fantastic sound re-production.
- Well built.
- Look exquisite.
- Earclick System works brilliantly.
- Cellphone controls on earphone.
- Anti-tangle cord.
- Price.

Con's:
- Price.
- Lack of volume controls on earphones is missed.
- Anti-tangle cord, not entirely anti-tangle.
- Love's your wax.

"The Minor is an advanced and hard working in-ear model. In addition to its good looks it incorporates quite a few exciting features. EarClick is a patent that ingeniously secures the earphone into position in your ear."

I love writing reviews, but I know a lot of you don't perticularly like my reviews because they tend to be too long! So I'll try keep this as short as possible. I purchased these two weeks ago. At the time I was looking for a really good set of earphones to go with my new-future-iPod. (I dont have one... yet), I wanted them to be well priced, have excellent sound re-production and look different from your usual Sennheiser's. I stumbled upon these quite by accident and I am really happy I got them. They're amazingly comfortable - which is a huge win by any margin. Their sound re-production is fantastic. And they look surprisingly cool. They're also compatible with most major makes of cellphones, so you can answer calls or pause music with the pres of a button, however, the lack of volume controls is sorely missed. They also incorporate this new "Earclick" system. Basically what this does, is with the help of a little cushion and the design of the phones themselves it locks the earphones into place in your ears which doesnt allow them to fall out. However the drawback of this is it does attract a lot of wax onto the phones. All in all, if you're looking for great phones, with a different look- Marshall's are what you're looking for! www.marshallheadphones.com

Progress

Hey Guys,

So, havent been here in a bit of time - whats news?

I passed my first exam last night, scored 93%. Messed up on a mathematical error which set me back 7%!!! Anyway, it happens.

Also got Kings of Leon's new album: Come Around Sundown. Its truly fantastic and Im loving every minute of it. I just dont fancy 2 of the songs, but considering the whole album is 13 tracks (unless you got the deluxe edition) it really doesnt make much of a difference.

Other than that, cant tell you guys much. working hard, studying.

Till next post, take care.

Changes

Wow I havent been here in some time!

So I just got back from holiday and man what a holiday it was. But all good things eventually come to an end and now its time to live in reality again. And changes also have to be made in my life. This holiday was a real eye opener for me and the things I have been doing in my life and that I have to change a lot of things.

So for the past two years I have been struggling with my studies. Barely scraping a pass on my exams and generally not enjoying it at all. Ive decided that because at this rate it will take me another 5 - 6 years till I finish, Im going to study something different all together. Its 3 different degrees which Im doing at one go. Whats nice is its stuff Ive always wanted to go into, and that its broken up into courses which on average are around 3 - 4 months.

Im carrying on with the place Im working at for now, I feel theres still good growth opportunities which I must tap into.

As a person though, I know I have a huge amount to do to fix myself up. The holiday was a real eye opener to clarify all the good and bad about myself and how the bad directly links to porblems Ive been trying avoid sorting out all my life and that I now need to grow up and fix it all. Im just scared I wont be strong enough to do so.

2011 is going to be a very challenging year for me, so I must tell you guys who I am in contact with here that I wont be on gamespot a lot, but please continue to PM me as the chats and support are probably the most important.

Hope you had a great holiday if you had one, and all the best for the year ahead.

WikiLeaks - Fifth Freedom, or Psychological Warefare?

Theres a popular sayng amongst my family: "Dont always believe what you read, and what you see; only beleive half." Harsh no? No, not really.

Considering that WikiLeaks is the big topic on the lips of just about everyone, including me old gran, theres no doubt that you've probably read a little of the cables... even for a few hours.
Some has no doubt either shocked you, surprised you or even humored you. I know for me it has.

I was sitting with a mate of mine the other day, and we were going through the notion that when (The leak hadn't happened yet) the leaks hit the public grid, how much of it can we actually trust. Obviously what they tell us is all this intel is raw and in its original form, but according to the statement Ive just made earlier - it probably isnt. Now Im not saying we should all just turn a blind eye to all the cables you read. Some of the cables Ive read, I know for a fact has actually happened.

What do you think though? Do feel WikiLeas is as true as it says it is? Do belive it is the, at present, the best form of freedom ofinformationwe have right now? Or do you feel its one of the biggest threats to International security and alliance, and whats secret, should stay that way?