Game Review: No Man’s Sky

Post by Patrick

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No Man’s Sky is a exploration and survival game that takes place in a procedurally generated universe that features 18 quintillion planets. You have your own space ship that allows you to fly from planet to planet, galaxy to galaxy, discovering new planets, animals and plants, while trading with various different races.

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The game starts off by placing you on a random planet with a broken spaceship. Your first task is to look for resources to help you repair your ship and take off from the planet. This first area serves as a light tutorial that should help you get a grip on the games loop. After you successfully take off from the first planet, the universe opens up to you and you can either choose to follow on the games set path to the center of the universe or you can choose travel to any galaxy and any planet you like as long as you have the fuel.

The problem with having procedurally generated content though is that a players experience is based off luck and chance. I’ve seen people complain that planets look the same, feel the same and there is truth in that, but my personal experience has differed. I’ve been lucky enough to discover a wide variety of planets, ranging from planets that have nearly zero life on them with intense weather to planets teeming with life. So even though I’ve seen planets that look similar, I’ve also been lucky enough to see enough variety that I’m still interested in exploring and taking screenshots of planets I like.

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Wireless Charging at IKEA

Post by Mark

wirelesscharging

IKEA Kuwait now have their wireless charging range available including their wireless charging pads and furniture with built-in wireless charging spots. I read about these products last year but didn’t think they were launching them so soon. You can now for example buy a bedside lamp that includes a wireless charging spot so in the evening all you need to do is put your phone on the lamp base and it will start charging. It’s simpler than having to plug your phone into a charger and it also means less wire clutter.

Some phones already have wireless charging built in but if your phone doesn’t (like iPhones) then you’re going to have to purchase one of their covers to use with their furniture. If this interests you, here is a link to the IKEA Kuwait product page which has more information on it. [Link]


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Gaming Podcast: Double Jump Episode 1.5

Post by Patrick

The official second episode of Double Jump has been delayed indefinitely because one of my co-hosts just got married. So until things settle back down with him, here’s a solo episode I recorded a while back. In the podcast I discuss a few 3DS games I’ve been playing, the closure of Lionhead Studios and the Nintendo Direct. Recording solo was a challenge since I’m used to having discussions with co-hosts, but it was an interesting experience nevertheless. Talking to myself for half an hour felt like I was back in school presenting a project to a class.

We’ll be recording “.5” episodes whenever there’s a lull in recording either due to busy schedules or if we have a few ideas that don’t fit into the main show. Recording this episode made me realize that I’d have to use a different format than the one we use for our full episodes so instead of discussing what I’m playing and the news, solo episodes will focus on one specific topic. So until we get back on track with our main show, I’ll be recording more solo episodes and should have another one recorded this week.

Until then, enjoy!

iTunes | Android | RSS | Play in New Window | Download

Post by Patrick


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Introducing Double Jump!

Post by Patrick

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I’ve been interested in Podcasts for the longest time but I was always hesitant to get into it because I’m more of a writer than a speaker. But then I ended up meeting some of the guys from the LuckyGG Arabic gaming podcast who encouraged me to take a chance and start my own Podcast especially since there aren’t many English podcasts about video games in this region.

I co-created the podcast with Yaqoub Al- Hussaini who is one of the hosts of LuckyGG and we’re also joined by Abdullah Boushehri also from LuckyGG. The goal of Double Jump is to discuss games we’ve been playing, news that we find interesting and regional news that we feel like our listeners would be interested in. The goal is to record an episode a week and publish it every Wednesday. These episodes will be two hours long.

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I’m also planning on recording Double Jump episodes where I’m on my own and some episodes with a different co-host each week but this is still a work in progress, hopefully I’ll be able to start publishing those episodes sometimes mid-March.

We recorded and published our first episode last week and I’ve linked to it at the end of this post. We’re learning as we go and I think Yaqoub and Abdullah both did a great job especially since English isn’t their first language. I also appreciate the fact that they’re willing to go out of their comfort zone for me. I’m learning a lot after listening to just this one episode and feedback is always welcomed so feel free to leave a comment with suggestions or thoughts.

In this first episode we discuss a variety of games, mainly The Division Beta and Street Fighter V. We also discuss some major news that came out these past few weeks like the pricing of the HTC Vive. Our first episode is available everywhere!

iTunes | Android | RSS | Play in New Window | Download

Posted by Patrick


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My Favorites of CES 2016

Post by Mark

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Last week Huawei sent me to CES 2016 in Las Vegas to cover the experience for my blog. The Consumer Electronics Show is one of the largest electronics shows that takes place during the year and the largest event that takes place in Las Vegas period. If you checked any electronics or gadgets blog last week like Gizmodo or The Verge then you were probably overwhelmed by all the CES related posts that they published. Well I’m not going to do the same here, instead I’m going to highlight just some of my favorite things I saw at CES this year.

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The whole experience was insane since the Las Vegas Convention Center is HUMONGOUS. I thought the watch expo Basel World was huge when I visited it in 2013 but CES is so much larger. It’s hard to explain how big it is, I mean just the lobby of one of the halls was larger than any of the halls at the Kuwait International Fair Ground. CES was so huge that it took me more than 2 hours of fast walking to cover all the halls and then after I left I found out I had even missed one hall completely. There was so much stimulation everywhere I looked that I felt like I was having out of body experience at one point.

Anyway, below are some of the things that stuck out for me, if you follow me on twitter (@mark248am) then you’ve probably already seen most of the below but with less details.

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Review: Sphero BB-8

Post by Patrick

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With the release of Star Wars Force Awaken, a lot of new Star Wars merchandise has gone on sale like clothing, Lego’s (the Millennium Falcon is KD170!), new figurines and now a new addition, the Sphero BB-8. Being a big Star Wars I’m pretty much on cloud nine. Not only was The Force Awakens a great movie, the new toys look great and even the clothing isn’t bad at all. So I was excited to test out the BB-8 and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked.

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So what’s so cool about the Sphero BB-8? You can control it using your smartphone and it’s compatible with both iOS and Android devices so no one is left out. This little guy can move fast and can take a beating. When I first tested it out, the first thing that popped into my head was that BB-8 would make a great (albeit expensive) toy for my cat. It was impressive watching it speed across the floor especially that the BB-8’s head is attached to the body using a magnet and two little wheels so it stays in place while the rest of the body rolls. It has barely fallen off, even as I’ve hit the wall multiple times and the legs of chairs. The body itself has an “upright” position that corrects itself with the help of the stabilizers that are part of the internal mechanism. There’s also a gyroscope and accelerometer that will assist in controlling BB-8 by being aware of its movements and make subtle and slight adjustments to help you out.

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If you get tired of controlling it you can set it to patrol mode. Patrol mode works similar to the way a Roomba does. The BB-8 will roam around your room on its own and will move around objects, like chair legs or people. What’s cool is that there is an event log that that lets you know if BB-8 hit a wall or detected an object.

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The price tag for the BB-8 is steep, it costs KD69. Ultimately, this is a cool piece of tech, but it’s not something I would play with everyday. Right now I have it on my shelf next to my Samus figurine and my Super Mario Amiibo and sometimes I’ll tease my cat with it once in a while, but at the end of the day it’s a glorified figurine. House guests will find it impressive and it makes for an interesting topic of discussion. I love the BB-8 and it’s unique in a world of cheap toys. It’s a Star Wars toy that can be enjoyed by kids and adults.

If you’re interested in the Sphero BB-8, it’s available at the Avenue’s branch of Fantasy World which has a new section catered towards adults called THE EDGE. Fantasy World also has the largest collection of Star Wars toys that I’ve seen in Kuwait so far, including nice figurines of Kylo Ren, Finn and Rey.

Post by Patrick

Full Disclosure: The Sphero BB-8 was provided by Fantasy World to review on the blog.


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Ooredoo 4G+ vs WiMD – Part 1

Post by Mark

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A few weeks ago a reader emailed me a screenshot of a speedtest he ran on his Ooredoo 4G+ connection. His result? A download speed of 141Mbps and an upload speed of 40Mbps. I was pretty surprised at the result, I knew 4G+ was a lot faster than regular 4G but didn’t think it would be this dramatic. So I got in touch with my contact at Ooredoo and asked them for a test unit so I could try it out myself.

As I’ve mentioned before, I live in an old building in Salmiya where the max DSL speed I can get ranges from 1Mbps to 2Mbps. Luckily I have WiMD which works much better than DSL at my place, I’ve got a 10Mbps connection which I’ve been happily abusing for the past three years.

Since I had both connections at home I figured I’d run speedtests on both and compare the results.

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Kuwait Server – Ooredoo (Left) vs WiMD (Right)

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American Server – Ooredoo (Left) vs WiMD (Right)

Although I didn’t get anything close to 141Mbps I was still pretty impressed I got a speed faster than my WiMD connection since I didn’t think I had a faster option where I lived. Not only that but the ping speed was considerably lower with Ooredoo which means it would be better for when I’m playing games online. The difference in the upload speed was even more dramatic with the Ooredoo connection being 13 times faster when connected to the US server.

Cost wise, a 10Mbps WiMD connection with a 200GB monthly download cap would set you back KD310 a year. A one year 4G+ Ooredoo connection with a 300GB download cap would set you back just KD132 (even cheaper if you commit).

Since the connection speed of the Ooredoo varies depending on the area, signal strength and time of day, I’m going to continue to use it for the next couple of weeks in different locations around the house and also different places around Kuwait. I’ll then share the results here in a different post. I’m also curious to know how consistent the Ooredoo connection will be. Even though my WiMD connection is slower, it’s been fairly consistent for the past 3 years and I like that.

If you have a Ooredoo 4G+ device and are getting faster speeds, let me know below what speeds you’re getting and in what area you’re in.


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Test the Fastest Internet in Kuwait

Post by Mark

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The local coding school “Coded” is hosting an event tonight with Fasttelco to test an ultra fast internet connection that they claim to be the fastest in Kuwait. The connection will be a 500Mbps fiber connection and everyone is invited to come and try it out. To test that speed you can either bring your own laptop and connect it to one of the available ethernet cables or you could use one of their test laptops. If you’ve got a huge file you’ve been wanting to download or upload then this might be a good way to do it. For more information click [Here]


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Best Local Store 2015

Post by Mark

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Winner: Good Game
I’ve been seeing a lot of party games at gatherings in recent years. There was Monopoly Deal for a while and then the more entertaining Kuwaiti knockoff. I’m sure a lot of you have heard of Cards Against Humanity, the fart joke of the party game market. Garbage. I seriously can’t stand that game. It’s like watching a compilation of “thats what she said” jokes.

So what better opportunity to tell you about Good Game, a shop in Sanabil Tower specialising in all types of tabletop games. If it has dice, a board, cards, figures or any combination of them, chances are they sell it there. They have an absurd collection of games fillings their walls with varying degrees of difficulty and complexity, they have something for everyone, nerd or non-nerd alike.

The place is great. Everyone who works in the shop has played nearly if not every game and are able to answer questions or recommend a game based what you tell them you like. I love that it became the light to which all nerds in kuwait fluttered. The place is more than a shop, it’s become something more than that. It’s become a community.

Runner up: Orchidaceae
On Mr. Mark’s recommendation, I went to Orchidaceae a few months ago to get flowers for my wife (for my cat to nibble to pieces). It is hidden away in the reinhabited industrial MadMax wasteland that is Shuwaikh. Great design, the staff know their business and they aren’t quick to recommend things they know are impractical. Surprisingly affordable insta-class.

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Winner: Good Game
First full disclosure, the owner of Good Game is a really good friend of mine as well as Nima. Actually, the first time I met the owner is when Nima invited me over to play the Game of Thrones board game with him and a couple of other people around two years back (what a complicated board game that was, I still don’t understand it). The owner loves board games, like REALLY loves them which is why he opened up Good Game in the first place. What I love about the shop and the reason I chose it as a winner is the fact that it has become more than just a place where you go and buy stuff. Anyone with money can open a store but what Good Game has done is create a wonderful community. Pass by anytime during the evening and you’ll find a group of guys sitting in the store playing board games, if you pass by on weekends it’s even more packed. The shop has created a space where people into board games can go socialize and pass time. In a place like Kuwait where we’re always looking for something to do, Good Game is a treasure.

Runner up: Pet Zone
If it wasn’t for the community aspect of Good Game I personally would have chosen Pet Zone as the winner. We really are lucky to have a pet shop this huge here in Kuwait especially considering dogs aren’t really loved over here. If you have a pet and you’ve never been to Pet Zone in Shuwaikh then please make sure you do.

Location: Good Game is located in Al-Sanabil Tower in Sharq, on Mezzanine 2. Here is the location on [Google Maps]


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Catalyst Waterproof Case for iPhone 6

Post by Mark

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Whenever I get a new iPhone I also tend to get a new waterproof case for it. My go to brand for waterproof cases for the past two or three generations of iPhones has always been LifeProof. Their cases are compact, look good and are waterproof down to a depth of 3M. But, all my LifeProof cases ended up developing a leak sooner or later. I kept going back to LifeProof because there were no similar alternatives, the only other case I used was the Hitcase Pro but it’s a lot more bulkier and it doesn’t allow you to access the charging port which is important for me since I my phone is always connected to my BeoLit 12 speaker at the beach.

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Since beach season has already started it was time again to get a new waterproof case and this time for my iPhone 6. While doing my usual rounds of research I found out about a case called Catalyst which all the reviewers were raving about. The Catalyst is very similar to the LifeProof case in features except its waterproof down to a depth of 5M instead of 3M and more importantly the Catalyst comes with a wrist lanyard. The wrist lanyard is a feature I always wished the LifeProof case had because its makes a huge difference during activities. For example when I went paragliding, I had my phone with me to take pictures but I was worried the whole time I would accidentally drop my phone. Now even if the phone slips out of my hand it will still hang on to my wrist. In addition to these two features the Catalyst is a bit cheaper and I personally think it also looks better than the LifeProof case.

I still have to wait and see how the Catalyst performs over the summer, but right now based on my brief experience with the case I’m loving it. If you’re interested you can purchase the case from the Catalyst website, they’re selling it for $70 without shipping. Or, you can do what I did an buy it off a seller on eBay. I offered one seller $60 with shipping and he accepted which was a great deal. For some reason the case isn’t available on Amazon yet. [Link]


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