Board games of the future?

As you may know, we’re fans of board games and we were recently introduced to the Settlers of Catan board game as well as playing Catan online and having written a review.

I’ve just come across this excellent piece on CNET’s Crave gadget and technology blog.

With OLED technology fast becoming the norm in new Television sets, board-game makers, like Settlers of Catan could very well be looking into using this technology to add “reality” to their game. Many people play games online (computer, console and hand-held) as opposed to normal “static” board-games because of the graphics and interactivity. But with OLED technology and projection the two could very well be merged.

Have a quick read of the CNET article as well as checking out the video demonstration below. I’m sure right now it could be quite expensive but it could very well be a viable option for many not too long from now.

At first glance, the cardboard tiles in the video look like typical white hexagons out of Settlers of Catan. But with the help of an overhead camera and projector, each piece becomes a mini-computer capable of displaying animated video images and even triggering events in adjacent tiles, such as queuing soldiers to attack.

In the video, you can also see what happens when players manipulate the tiles in various ways. When one part of the tile is lifted off the table’s flat surface, troops are offloaded onto shore by “pouring” them. Rotating the tiles can change the perspective on the animated building, tree, or person being displayed.

Isn’t that just awesome?

New Google Chrome v4 released

As you should know by now, I favour Google’s Chrome browser and today (finally), Google have released their latest stable build of the Chrome browser, And as you can see from the screen shot above (if you’ve not already used their beta releases of v4 already) extensions and bookmark syncing are now available.

After my previous problems with the latest beta builds and instability on my laptop I was hesitant to stick to the beta builds and opted to wait for the stable version to be released.

Now, finally, I too can enjoy the benefits of over 1500 extensions and bookmark syncing.

Below is a list of the extensions I’ve just installed and tried out (you can click on any of the images below to go to the relevant extension download page):

Since I use Google Reader to keep up with all my various news/RSS feeds the first extension I’ve installed is the Google Reader one. It downloads and installs in, literally, seconds. If you’re already logged into Google the icon will already show you how many unread items there are. Clicking on the icon shows you unread items at a glance which you can click on the title to read the article or open Google Reader in a new tab.

Next on my list of wanted extensions is the 1-click Weather extension provided by which gives you a toolbar icon showing the current temperature in your city and clicking on the icon will give you a detailed weather map as well as a mini forecast. If you’re using Windows Vista/7 you’ve probably already, like me, got the Windows Weather widget on your desktop but this is always using Chrome.

Like many other people, I too have and use my Gmail account, especially when sending emails when away from my own laptop and when sending interesting posts to friends. With this extension I can quickly keep a tab of any new emails arriving and the unread email count in my Gmail account right from my browser toolbar.

If you have a Google Wave, Google Voice account as well as Gmail and use Google Reader you can always opt to use the One Number extension which uses a single toolbar icon to monitor all your Google accounts together.

Even though I read most of what I’m interested in via Google Reader, I occasionally search for something through Google or click through to view the full post on the website, since it may be limited in the feed article. I’m so used to where ads appear and how they appear that they don’t really bother me, but others may enjoy the AdBlock extension (works similarly to Mozilla Firefox’s ad blocker – and it’s customizable too).

Update: for developers and designers out there – I’ve just seen the following post recommending 15 must have Google Chrome extensions.

These are just a few extensions that I’ve showcased here like I said there are over 1500 extensions to choose from. Go and have a browse, try them out, if you find an interesting one and it works well, let me know in the comments. Happy surfing!

PS: Remember you can manage your installed extensions (and their respective options) by selecting Extensions from the Tools menu or type in chrome://extensions/ in the address bar.

Do you know how to navigate a circle/roundabout?

If you’ve been driving for any amount of time (or at the very least obtained a legal driver’s license, not a lucky-packet one or one you paid the guy under the counter for) you should know this basic concept.

Yet, many, many people (shock, horror) actually don’t or as I tend to believe (and feel at the time) don’t care about.

Just this morning I was almost taken out by a traffic officer (no less) who was travelling into and around one of the roundabouts in town (in the same direction as myself, and to my left). He completely disregarded the use of his indicator lights to denote to the rest of us that he was changing lanes and just eased over into the middle lane (yes there are 3 around the roundabouts in the CBD) which I was actually travelling in alongside him.

This is the one thing that irks me about 90% of drivers that simply cannot comprehend how to drive around a roundabout nor know when they need to exit and how to exit.

More times than I can count, I’ve encountered drivers who are in the left-most lane, who wish to pass an exit to carry on to the next one (or worse, go right around and take the exit they actually entered the roundabout) and at the same time, some idiot in the right-most (inner) lane wishing to take the very exit that other said driver is not exiting on, while in the left lane.

Click image to read the mini-guide

Now, instead of me drilling down into the finer points of navigating a traffic circle/roundabout, I’ll rather lead you to Baldricman’s carefully crafted (and humourous) Traffic Circles for Dummies guide. And before anyone tries to criticise either one of us that these are merely our own perceptions of how one should drive and not the legal ways, think again as he has provided relevant links to these.

Now, where’s my high-blood pressure medication so that I can get my heart-rate down again?


Unboxing my surprise gift

Okay, so it’s not really a surprise, since I knew what was in the package – but it was still painful having to wait for so long.

So, on the 28th of December 2009, I got an email from Jim to let me know that he got confirmation that my gift had been shipped that very day. A week later I hurried off to the post-office (yeah, optimistically) but only found the usual mail. Okay, I said to myself, South African postal services aren’t always the snappiest when it comes to international deliveries.

A week later, still nothing – dejected, I tried to forget about it for another few days. Last Friday, I went back to check again, and still nothing! I couldn’t go through on Monday and got a chance to go this evening – and there it was – finally!

Okay, enough with the rambling, what was inside?

TADA! Finally I’m also the owner of our very own Settlers of Catan board-game! And below, are two pictures of the contents and a fully laid-out board-game. Dina and I had a quick game after supper, and I won (by a hair’s breadth mind you)!

So, a special thank you goes out to Jim Plane and Guido Teuber of Catan LLC and of course Klaus Teuber, without whom we would not have the game!

And remember if you want to know more about the game you can read my first experience or if you’d like to find out how to play online you can read my review.

VOTD: Zorba the Greek, Aborigine-style

Babis just posted this hilarious video on his blog featuring a group of young Aborigine men performing a self-choreographed dance routine to an up-tempo version of Zorba The Greek originally played by the legendary actor, Anthony Quinn.

I so thoroughly enjoyed the video that I wanted to know more and popped on the the YouTube page to learn the following:

The Chooky Dancers are a group of 10 energetic young men who had healthy living in mind when they choreographed the performance. Franks son Lionel is the lead dancer in the video footage at front and center. “They (the Chooky Dancers) begun working on this just after this years Garma Festival in Gukula and worked very hard on it, they also do a Bollywood style performance which is also fantastic” Frank said.

(update). Sadly Frank is no longer with us….

A documentary explaining the story behind the dance is available to purchase from TEABBA Media Services on (08)8939 0400. (Australia).
The song was chosen as a tribute to a Greek lady who cared for Frank’s disabled daughter. It was a way to say thankyou to her for all she had done. – source YouTube

And for those of you who have no idea who Anthony Quinn was, or what the original Zorba the Greek was all about, here’s a little snippet from the original movie:

Home-made Vegetable Garden

My parents have successfully been growing their own vegetables in garden pots at home, since they don’t have an actual garden. And since they managed to grow them so easily, my brother was keen on having their own garden too.

So last weekend, my dad went over to my brother’s place and helped them create a vegetable garden in a section of their garden. Dina, suggested we should have one too. Little did I know the amount of pain I’d be in afterwards.

We decided that an 8 sqm (24 sq ft) area would be big enough for a vegetable garden with a large enough variety of vegetables to be planted. It sound like such a small area, well it is a small area, except if you struggle for 3 hours to remove the grass. Who knew that grass roots were so resilient and tough!

So after pain-staking 3 hours of work, this was the result of phase 1:

Now that the grass and remaining roots have been removed began the easy job, for my dad, planting the various seedlings bought. We now have mielies (corn), green and purple lettuce, peppers, cherry tomatoes, rhubarb, aubergine (eggplant), spinach, watermelon, parsley, basil and peppermint.

So this is what phase 2 looked like – looks good, doesn’t it?

And then just one more final touch to keep Max from walking all over the plants and crushing them, a little protection was needed:

So, hopefully in a few months time we’ll be able to reap some fruits vegetables of our labour and I’ll post some more pictures and an updated post.

Big Picture: Harbin Ice and Snow Sculptures

The annual Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture festival started on the 5th of January and again‘s Big Picture have an amazing set of photographs taken at the event. You can feel the coolness of the ice and the warmth of the lights through these pictures.

In frigid northeastern China, in the city of Harbin is hosting its 26th annual International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Massive buildings built of ice from the frozen surface of the nearby Songhua River, large scale snow sculptures, ice slides, festival food and drinks can be found in several parks in the city. At night, visitors who endure the bitter cold will see the lights switched on, illuminating the sculptures from both inside and outside. This year’s festival opened yesterday, January 5th, and will remain open until some time in February. Collected here are several photos from just before the festival, and of the opening night. (31 photos total)

Ice structures large and small light up a park in Harbin, China during its 26th annual Ice Festival on January 5, 2010. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Blog Update

Just a quick post, at 2 in the morning – to let you know I’m still around. I really bit off more  than I could swallow when I decided to move my blog to my own hosting environment and then I decided I wanted to change the domain name again!

Now after sleepless nights, fighting with mySQL at command-line level, I’ve finally fixed all the broken posts, missing/broken images as well as making sure all the back-links in my previous posts now point to this domain ( and no longer to my old blog domain.

It’s amazing how reliant you become with GUI tools at your disposal and then things get messy, quickly when you need to delve into command-line world (yeah all the Linux folks are laughing at me right now, I know).

To cut a long story short, I’ve been making backups of my WordPress database daily only to find out I had problems importing it after I made changes to it (UTF-8, encoding, etc ,etc) but I managed to figure it out and I can safely say I can restore the WordPress backups now, even after hand-coding changes!

Now that I’m happy with my blog move the next task for me is a new design. A change is as good as a holiday they say. I’ll keep you posted but right now, I… need… sleep, stat!

New blogging environment

It took a few hours (late in the evening and early in the morning) to migrate my blog completely to a self-hosted environment, but I’ve done it. Now the hard work comes in marketing my new blog home and ensuring it gets indexed and visited 🙂

Thanks to the loyal regulars and welcome to the new people!

Back to work I go in the morning – it’s been a somewhat relaxing week so far between Christmas and New Year but someone has to go back to work to pay the bills.

Catch y’all on the flip-side.


VOTD: New Year's Celebrations – Fireworks Display

One of the photos in yesterday’s collection of photos from’s Big Picture publication was of a fireworks display near Big Ben and the London Eye. Below is a awesome 9+ minute video of the fireworks display in London. [via Babis’ Weblog]

For more fireworks displays from around the world, check here for more.