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.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Grilled Lobster at IKEA

Post by Mark

lobster

When I first heard that IKEA was serving grilled lobster alongside their usual meatballs and chicken nuggets, I thought it was funny, but then I became curious. Was it any good? So yesterday I decided to pass by and try it out.

It was a bit crowded when I dropped by for lunch since they had a buy one get one free offer on their meatballs dishes. When my turn finally came up I asked for the grilled lobster and noticed the woman next to me look at me and smile as if I had just told a lame joke. But, the look on her face when I got handed my lobster dish was priceless. IKEA is the last place you’d expect to find lobster on the menu which is why I was so curious to try it.

The grilled lobster costs KD4.750 and comes with a side of steamed vegetables or french fries. And unsurprisingly, you get what you pay for. The lobster was super dry, tough and bland, it didn’t even taste like lobster. Definitely not something I’d want to have again. My recommendation? Order the meatballs instead.

Thanks Grant


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Review: The Micro 3D Printer

Post by Mark

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3D printers are a lot more common and accessible nowadays and I’m fascinated with the technology. As a huge Star Trek (TNG) nerd, a 3D printer to me is the first step towards a Replicator, a device that prints out whatever you want from food to gadgets. 3D printers are still a long way off to becoming a fully functioning Replicator, but we’re on the right track and they’re becoming more mainstream and affordable which brings me to the Micro 3D (M3D) printer. The local M3D dealer sent me a Micro 3D printer to review and I’ve been playing around with it for a few weeks now and figured it was about time I write about it.

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The Micro 3D printer started off as a kickstarter project back in 2014, their goal was originally to get $50,000 worth of pledges but eventually ended up getting $3,401,361. It was a huge success and a year later they started shipping them out. So what is a 3D printer? It’s basically like your regular printer except instead of printing ink on paper, it uses plastic ink (filaments) to print out three dimensional objects. Over the course of the period I’ve had the printer I’ve printed random stuff like iPhone cable protectors (pictured below), a AA battery case, a Nintendo 3DS cartridge box, a small toy robot, a wrench for my Dremel (because I lost my original one) and a bunch of other random stuff. Even a new adapter for my Dyson vacuum cleaner.

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Now all the items I printed were already 3D modeled since I don’t know how to use 3D software myself. The website with the largest library of 3D models is probably thingiverse.com. You can find anything you want there from car parts to the latest optical illusion that went viral last week. You just download the 3D model, load it up in your printer software and click print. Need a new iPhone cover? Just print one yourself, need a privacy shield for your iMac camera? Print one. A Pokemon ball? Print one. And if you do know how to use 3D software, then you could basically create anything you want.

The Micro 3D printer is a very compact device that doesn’t look intimidating at all. It comes in various colors and will sit nicely on any desk. There are no buttons on it, everything is controlled using the software so it has a very clean simple look to it. There is even an internal filament holder so that the ink stays hidden in the device but you could also mount the ink externally. One of the first things I printed was an external ink holder from the M3D website and it made swapping inks more practical. When it comes to the inks there are tons of colors to choose from and there are even two types, regular PLA ink and what M3D calls, the Tough Ink. I tried both types and prefer the Tough Ink since unlike the regular PLA, the Tough Ink has a rubber like feel to it and is flexible. Here is a video comparing the two [Video]. The disadvantage of Tough Ink is that it’s more expensive and a roll doesn’t last as long.

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Over the few weeks I had the printer I did run into a bunch of issues, most of which aren’t printer specific. When your laser printer at home has a problem, it’s most likely a printer jam or you’ve run out of toner. With 3D printers there is so much more that can go wrong, for example here is a 3D printer troubleshooting page to give you an idea of all the various issues you might run into [Link]. Even something so minute as the room temperature can have an affect on the printing. It was frustrating at times but when you get everything working properly again you get a sense of reward, like you just cracked the Enigma code. Another issue is the amount of time it takes to print stuff out. The quickest thing I’ve printed took maybe 50 minutes while the longest took around 10 hours. I basically print stuff and go to sleep or leave the house. I’m not sure how much faster or slower other 3D printers are but it’s still something I wanted to point out in case you’re expecting to print stuff in a few minutes.

3D printers are still in their infancy but if you want to dabble in it then the M3D printer is a great way to start. The M3D printer costs KD155 while the regular PLA ink costs KD6 and the Tough Ink costs KD9. It’s one of the most affordable 3D printers on the market and I believe the most affordable one you can buy in Kuwait. It’s such a strange feeling to click print, go to sleep and then wake up to find a new object in your house that wasn’t there the night before. You’re essentially printing objects out of thin air and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this technology will evolve in the future.

If you’re interested in the M3D printer, the local dealer have a special deal right now for my readers, if you add the printer to your shopping cart and with it two regular PLA inks, use the promo code “248am” on check out and you’ll get the filaments for free. Here is the product page [Link]

Update: Here is a link to my collection of various 3D items that I’m interested in or already printed on [Thingiverse]


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The New Porsche 911 Carrera S II (991)

Post by Mark

911-front

The past few weekends have been pretty exciting for me, I had a Lotus for three of them and then this past weekend I had the new 2017 model year Porsche 911 Carrera S. It was actually perfect timing since I had recently taken out the Lotus Evora which I consider a direct competitor of the 911 so it was a good opportunity to compare the two. This wasn’t my first time in this current generation 911, I had previously raced one around the Dubai Autodrome during the Porsche World Roadshow a few years ago. But this model I drove this past weekend was the face-lifted version which they’re calling the 911 II.

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Visually the exterior of the 911 II doesn’t look that different from the previous years with most of it being just aerodynamical upgrades. But, there are some important changes that take place under the hood. The new Carreras are now turbo charged giving both the regular Carrera and the Carrera S an extra 20HP each. This upgrade has allowed the Carrera S to hit 0 to 100km/h in under 4 seconds making it the first Carrera to break the 4 second barrier. The previous model hit 0 to 100 in 4.1 seconds but this new model now does it in just 3.9.

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Another major upgrade is the infotainment system which now includes Apple’s CarPlay. I’ve been using CarPlay since 2014 and although it looks pretty, it’s fairly buggy and lacks some important features. Luckily you’ll still be able to use your phone via bluetooth in the Porsche, something I sadly can’t do in my car. An important thing to mention is you now no longer have multiple options of the infotainment system to choose from. I think thats great because end of the day this is a Porsche so you’d expect all the cars to be fitted with the best infotainment system available. But previously what came standard was an infotainment system that lacked features unless you were willing to plough down around 800KD for the proper one. Now all the 911’s come standard with this new system which is great. Finally one more new feature which I personally loved is the new steering wheel with a rotary switch that controls the driving mode similar to that of the Porsche 918. The steering wheel was oddly my favorite thing about this 911, it felt great in my hands and the design will surely look great years down the line, something I can’t say about the older Porsche 911 (996).

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The 911 is pretty much flawless, there really isn’t anything I can fault about the car, even the trunk was surprisingly big. The car was fast, lots of fun to drive and the model I drove had a flashy lava orange color with a beautiful black interior. Which reminds me…People of Kuwait I have a request, STOP ordering Porsches with Bordeaux Red or Beige interiors! Please stop it! Seriously there needs to be an intervention. I was so surprised when I realized I was about to get into a 911 with a black interior in Kuwait, I figured it must have been an international Porsche dealer guideline or something. The Porsches interior looks so much sportier and hotter in black, it’s really the only way to go. Anyway, back to what I was saying, the car was fantastic and I can understand why everyone in Kuwait has one, it’s probably the best daily driver sports car you can get.. which is why I don’t think I’d ever buy one myself.

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The cars local success is the cars biggest downfall for me. Every other person in Kuwait seems to have a 911. When I want to plucker down KD40,000 for a car I don’t want to blend in with half the population of Kuwait. I mean I get why everyone is buying the car, it makes perfect sense but Kuwait is such a weird place, you’d think these cars were so much more affordable based on the number of them out on the road.

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Still that doesn’t stop me from heading over to the local Porsche dealers website every few weeks and building my own car. If you’ve never checked out their website before you should, there is an option to build a Porsche but the best part about it is it will tell you how much it will cost (Jaguar you guys need to add the prices on your website). So I’m on their website every now and then building a Cayman GT4 or a 911 for fun trying to fill it up with options that make sense and offer the most value and I take it fairly seriously as if I’m buying the car even though it’s all just imaginary. After driving the 911 this weekend there is one option I’m taking off the list for sure and thats the KD900 Burmester sound system. It’s not worth it, the car I drove this weekend had it and I was disappointed with the sound. It was extremely boomy and I can’t imagine the stock sound system sounding any worse. Another option I won’t be adding? The Lane Change Assist (a KD210 option), there aren’t any blind spots on the car and anytime the lane change warning light came out, the other car would be in clear sight of me. There are tons of options you can add to the car and they quickly add up. For example the Carrera S starts at a very reasonable KD34,000 but the model I drove costs around KD43,000 because of all the options it had in it. You don’t need door sill guards in stainless steel and illuminated (KD220 option), or the air vent slats painted (KD360 option) or the Porsche crest embossed on the head restraints (KD60 option) or a bunch of other superficial options. So if you hold yourself back with the options you should still be able to get a 911 at a fairly affordable price (for what it is).

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I ended up dropping the car back to the dealer earlier then planned, that should basically summarize my feelings towards the car. I’ve driven a ton of cars over my lifetime, a lot of them were dull and a lot of them were exciting. When I took out the Camaro ZL1 or the Lotus Exige, I was a completely different asshole in them, when I took out the Mercedes S-Class I felt like a pimp. But with the 911, I just felt like a boring and responsible person, it didn’t excite me in anyway. On the plus side, they’ve introduced the Miami Blue color which reminds of the old 90s Riviera Blue 911 (993) which was and is my favorite Porsche of all time. FYI, thats the color to get with a full black interior.

Like I said, if you haven’t done so already, head over the Porsche Kuwait website and build your own car [Link]


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Game Review: Doom

Post by Patrick

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Doom was one of those games that I wasn’t allowed to play when I was a kid but I did anyways. It was dark, atmospheric and kind of scary. The games were unique at that time and basically laid the foundation for future first person shooters. Since then Id software tried to recapture that magic with various other games like Doom 3 and RAGE but were never really were able to reach the heights of Doom I and II…until now.

There was some hesitation from fans when the new Doom was announced since the market was oversaturated with first person shooters and it would take something special for the new Doom to make a dent. The development history of the game was troublesome, Id Software had completed a Doom game, didn’t like what they had created and then restarted the development process from the beginning. So there were a lot of questions that needed answering, would the new developers be able to design levels as good as John Romero and co.? Would the new developers be able to create the same fast-paced action that were present in those original games? Would they try to create a more immersive narrative even though those older games didn’t really rely on one? Even then, would a first person shooter with a reliance on gameplay over narrative even succeed nowadays when narrative seems important to the consumer and the players?

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I was able to get my hands on Doom a few days before its official release and even though the multiplayer beta was disappointing, I was really looking forward to the single player campaign. As the games release date got closer, it was revealed that no review copies were sent out to any of the major websites so many people were expecting the worst. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I put the game in, I hoped for the best though. Thankfully what I got was nothing short of incredible. The game has incredible visuals and art direction, the environments look great, the monsters look extremely detailed and the animation is top notch. The music and the sound design are also fantastic and suit the game perfectly. Another aspect of the game that adds to its value is it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The developers built a ridiculous and amusing lore surrounding Doom-guy. They took this generic guy and turned him into this legendary warrior that demons fear. He has a personality even though he doesn’t say a word, it’s all in his actions. The game plays fast, it’s brutal and the music accompanying the action is memorable. The way the game starts is brilliant and probably one of the most memorable introduction to any game I’ve played.

The developers were successful at modernizing Doom in a couple of ways. First off is you can now upgrade your weapons, thankfully it’s not convoluted. Each weapon has two upgrade paths and the manner in which they’re presented is simple and straight forward. Your armor can be upgraded as well and like your weapons, the process is simple. You can also upgrade the amount of health, armor and ammo you can carry. You’ll also come across demonic runes that present a challenge and if you complete the challenge you’ll unlock a rune that you can equip that will also help you out in some way.

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Other ways the developers were able to modernize Doom is the games level design. The original Doom games had complex level designs that were maze like and contained plenty of secrets to discover. The developers were able to take that feel and successfully modernize it. Levels have a lot of verticality to them and you’ll be jumping around quite a bit. It sort of feels like a Metroidvania kind of game in some ways. You’ll get lost in the levels the same way players did in the original game. The levels have secrets and even when you know where they’re located, some secrets are still tricky and challenging to get to.

The game also features two other modes besides the single player campaign mode which are multiplayer and Snapmap modes. Multiplayer is self-explanatory and I haven’t really touched it since release because I’ve been spending all my time playing through the campaign while the Snapmap mode is where all the user-created content will be. Snapmap lets you create and share your own levels and challenges. I’m actually impressed by how much content Doom has to offer.

Its been a while since I’ve enjoyed a first person shooter as much as I’ve enjoyed Doom. It might just be the best single player first person shooter I’ve played. It’s memorable, it’s fun and it’s very violent. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fast-paced action game that doesn’t take itself very seriously. I’m relieved it turned out this good since I chose to play Doom before Uncharted 4. I don’t like giving out perfect scores (I’ve only given 5 games perfect scores), but Doom deserves it.

Score:

Post by Patrick


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The Lotus Evora 400

Post by Mark

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Like the Lotus Exige S which I recently wrote about on the blog, theres a lot to love and hate in the Evora 400. I actually ended up having the car over two weekends so I got to spend a pretty good amount of time with the car. I’ll get all the good stuff out of the way first, then talk about a few negatives points before telling you what I think.

When I first got into the Evora 400 and drove off I was really surprised at how civil the car was. Unlike the Exige S, getting into the car didn’t require any acrobatics since it’s like a normal car, you just open the door and get in. The interior was also a lot more fancier looking with leather all around, beautiful center console with controls for the AC and gear box, and with seats there were super comfy. The Evora has a Supercharged 3.5L V6 producing 400hp but you wouldn’t be able to tell when the car is in regular touring mode. I thought the Evora was too quiet, like nearly electric car quiet since all you couldn’t hear the engine or exhaust, just the whine of the supercharger. The car felt too civil which was starting to feel disappointing since the reason I’m in a Lotus is because it’s a sports car and so I wanted it to sound like one. Luckily, the Evora has a cool trick up its sleeve. On regular touring mode, the car doesn’t sound any louder than a Toyota Camry, but as soon as you hit the exhaust button on the dashboard, everything changes. The Evora suddenly comes to life and the sound becomes brutal and so violent. If you’re in an indoor parking lot and roll down your windows, oh wow you won’t believe how beautiful the Evora can sound.

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I think that was my favorite aspect of the Evora, it can be super silent and an unassuming daily driver (just don’t go with bright orange), or it can be the loud in your face track car. Daily driver is how I kept describing the car to my friends whenever they asked me what I thought of it. Then you have the looks, god damn it’s a super hot looking car. Like the Exige S, everywhere I went people wouldn’t stop staring, it’s such an eye catcher.

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But, not all is great. As I mentioned earlier in the post, I had the Evora 400 over two weekends. The reason for that is the first weekend I ran into issues with the gearbox. Something was wrong with the programming and so when I would give the car a hard kick down, the car would sometimes shift from 1st gear to 2nd to 3rd and then just get stuck there instead of continuing to shift up. On one occasion it even got stuck on 2nd gear. Then one night on my way back home, the gearbox, engine and traction control lights all came on and the car wouldn’t shift anymore and just stayed stuck on 3rd gear. I dropped the car off back to Lotus the next morning and got it back again this past weekend. I guess they reset the software or something but all the issues I had with the gearbox the previous weekend disappeared. Putting that bit of bad luck aside though I did have more issues with the car, ones that a software update couldn’t fix. One of my issues with the Exige S was the lack of storage space, not sure how it’s possible but the Evora has even less space. There is a small pocket on the door that might or might not hold your wallet depending on how big it is, and there is also a small glove compartment that can hold your sunglasses, but other than that there is nothing. I had to keep my phone in between my legs or on the passenger seat because there was no room to put my phone. I should mention there is a back seat in this car that supposedly can hold two passengers, but unless those passengers don’t have any legs I’m not sure how they’ll fit there. The back of my seat literally touches the rear seat so there’s no way anyone can sit behind me thats for sure. Finally the last issue with the car is one that I find mind boggling. I took the car to get it washed and it leaked in water from both doors in the exact same location. If it was one side you could say it might have been a defect or whatever, but both sides? Thats just poor design which is why I don’t understand how Lotus didn’t catch this.

The Evora 400 starts at KD34,000 which puts it right in the Porsche 911 turf. But the question then becomes, do you want a car that everyone has? Or do you want a car that is less common and unique? If I’m paying that much money, I don’t want to blend in so then it becomes about how much issues can I put up with. Personally, with all the issues I had with the more affordable Exige S, I’m in love with that car. Maybe if I ask nicely they’ll let me take the Exige S back out for another weekend.

If you’re interested in test driving a Lotus then pass by them, they have both the Exige S and Evora 400 available. Here is a link to their instagram account @alghanimlotuskw


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A Weekend with the Lotus Exige S

Post by Mark

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I’ve been a Lotus fan for sometime now and a few years ago when a friend of mine sold his, I regretted not buying it off him myself. The fact that there’s a dealership now makes me even regret it more but I got over it, or at least I thought I had until this weekend. Thursday morning I picked up a brand new Lotus Exige S from the dealership to use over the weekend, and after giving it back yesterday my feelings on it haven’t changed, I still love and want the car.

Let me get this out of the way first, this isn’t the car for you. Well at least 99.9% of you and I’ll explain why.

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Notice I use the side pillars in the car like a bookshelf for my phone and wallet.

As a regular car the Exige is horrible and I don’t even know where to begin. The seats? The most uncomfortable seats I’ve ever sat in and you can’t adjust them. The car is super tiny on the inside, I mean my Datsun is tiny but it’s actually huge compared to the Exige. It’s so tiny that the passenger seat is stuck to your seat, I actually kept buckling my seatbelt into the passenger side seatbelt accidently because they’re so close. It can be pretty awkward on a first date but you know whats even more awkward? Getting in or out of the car. There is no way, and I really mean no way to get in and out of the car gracefully no matter how hard you try. This mostly has to do with the fact that there is a huge pillar you need to climb over to get into the seat and the fact the car is so low it makes the whole process very awkward. There are even videos online that show you how to get in and out of the car! Watch [This One] and then [This One]. The fact you need to watch a video to show you how to get in and out of the car should give you an idea that this isn’t a normal car. Also when I say this is a low car I mean this is a LOW car. I drove by a mini cooper on the Gulf Road and all I could see was the mini’s door handle. The Exige is so low it can drive under parking gates.

But wait I’m not done yet! There is so much more that doesn’t make sense in the car. To turn the lights on at night you press one button, to turn it off you need to press two different buttons. Why?? Before getting the car I thought the AC might not be good enough for Kuwait’s weather but my issue with the AC this weekend was that it was too much for the Exige. For a car thats slightly larger than an iPad I don’t understand why it has 8 AC vents, 4 in the front, and then 4 right behind you facing the front. At the lowest fan setting there was still too much AC for the size of the car. I spent most of the time closing vents and opening the window to balance the temperature inside the car. If there is a place I want to be in the summer its the ice skating rink and the inside of this Lotus. What else did I find terrible in the car? The stereo, easily the worst sound system in any car I’ve ever driven, it’s slightly better than my Datsun’s sound system from the 70s and that’s because I could plug my iPhone into it. I really need to go back and talk about the size of the interior again, the car is so small that without moving from my seat, I high-fived a friend who was standing outside the passenger side window. I’m not exaggerating, that incident actually happened. Interior glove compartment? Nope. Trunk space? It’s big enough to fit a backpack… maybe. The steering wheel also isn’t powered so I hope you’ve been working out since parking this car is a workout. Speaking of parking, the visibility out of the rear window is terrible and there are plenty of blindspots all around. Reversing from my parked position back onto a main road involved so much back and forth head movement, to a passerby I must have looked like I was having an epileptic seizure.

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Thats how close the seats are!

But, with all that being said, when you buy an Exige you know what you’re getting into. You wouldn’t get into a Formula 1 race car and then complain that it doesn’t have a cup holder. You’re not expected to be able to pick up your visiting relatives from the airport in an Exige or even doing something as simple as dropping your mum off at the hairdresser (she either won’t be able to get in or won’t be able to get out).

The Lotus Exige S weighs only 950KG 1175KG but has a 345HP supercharged engine. It does 0 to 100 in 3.9 seconds and a top speed that is electronically limited to 233km/h. It’s small, it’s very fast and most importantly, it’s a ton of fun. This weekend I had a blast with the car and I wish I could do it again the next weekend and the weekend after that. It’s all the negatives in the earlier paragraph that makes this car so great. Sure I would have loved a better sound system but that I’d rather have a shitty sound system and keep the car small and simple then an amazing sound system that would add weight, need a larger interior and add complications to the car. Every decision in this car was made not to sacrifice performance and performance is what you get here. Just ask Chris Harris. The car is really easy to drive fast which makes it very driver friendly.

The interior is very barebones, all you will get is 3 knobs for the AC, an Alpine stereo, 3 buttons for the lights and then buttons for changing gears. That’s the whole interior. Even the speedometer cluster doesn’t contain any information other than your speed, RPM, a digital read out of your speed and a few warning lights. It’s going back to basics which is something I’ve started appreciating because of my Datsun. You don’t need a large touch screen, you don’t need 12 cupholders, you don’t need automatic folding mirrors or interior mood lights, you don’t need majority of the stuff in your car. With the Exige, it’s just you, the car and the road. No distractions.

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Visually the car is a work of art. From all the cars I’ve ever driven, none got me as much attention as this one did. Everywhere I went people were checking the car out. Even hotel valets who’ve come across everything where checking the Exige out. Actually pulling up to valet in an Exige was fun, I was like I want to park here and they just moved a car for me and I parked in it’s place right at the front of the hotel entrance. Park an Exige next to a Ferrari and more people will likely check out the Exige just because it’s such a rare and over the top looking car.

With all the misgivings of this car I actually loved it and I now more than ever regret not getting if off my friend. The only thing I really would want them to improve on is the seat but other than that I didn’t mind all the weird issues the car had. The price? The Exige S starts at KD27,000 which I think is a fair price… if it was a car I could drive everyday. But it isn’t which makes this price difficult to swallow. This isn’t daily driver, it’s barely a car you want to drive even just on weekends. This is a track car first, road car second which is why it would be perfect in countries that have race tracks like Bahrain and UAE. It’s a car you can take to the track on the weekend, be competitive and then drive it to work if you want the day after. But sadly for us, we don’t have a race track here so it’s hard to justify the Exige. But, I’ll be test driving the Lotus Evora soon which is supposed to be everything the Exige is except with the extra amenities that make it a better everyday car. So I’m looking forward to that.

For more information on Lotus cars or if you’d like to test drive one, check out the local dealers instagram account @alghanimlotuskw


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Extreme Detailing My Datsun 240z

Post by Mark

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I first heard of ProTech Monte-Carlo just over a year ago when they left a comment under one of my photos on instagram inviting me to pass by them. I checked out their instagram account and did a bit of research on them and they turned out to be a pretty legit car detailing setup with different branches around the world. I didn’t really have a reason to pass by at that time but months later when I wanted to detail my FJ I called them up for a quote and quickly realized their services were out of my FJ’s league.

Then last month I purchased my 1973 Datsun 240z. The car was over 40 years old, still in pretty much stock condition but had been parked outdoors for the past 11 years in Kuwait and probably even longer in the States where it was originally imported from. The paint had clearly lost its shine, it has lots of scratches, the plastics and rubbers around the car looked dry and the interior was also faded and looked old. I had already given the car a pretty good wash but it clearly wasn’t enough. Thats when I considered passing by ProTech and getting a quote from them. I was already aware that they had worked on a number of vintage cars before including ones that were worth a whole lot more than mine so I knew I could trust them detailing my Datsun properly. They gave me a quote which I honestly thought was too much since the car really isn’t worth a lot. But, I was still curious to see what they would be able to do to a car like mine, it seemed like the perfect project for them. So I got in touch with the owner and offered him a barter deal where I’d give him a banner on the blog for a couple of months in return they’d detail my car. Two days later not he got back to me, not only did he accept my deal but he also went out and purchased a 240z himself (same color as mine even, it’s pictured in the back of the photo above). I’m telling you guys the Z is such a ridiculously fun car to get.

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I dropped off my car on a Monday, spent around two hours with the owner discussing and comparing our Z’s and then left and came back the following Sunday to pick up the car. Usually they take 3 to 4 days for their extreme detailing package but because of the age of my car and the work it needed they took a couple more days than usual. When I picked up the car again, fuck was I impressed. The pictures really don’t do the job any justice.

There are a number of stages to the whole detailing process. When you first drop the car they first give it a proper wash. Once they’re done washing the car they go over it inch by inch with a clay bar which would pick up any small speckle of dirt that was still left on the car Once they’re done with that they start the detailing process. Depending on which package you go for there are different things involved here but in my case we went all out. So first thing they do is polish the exterior of the car. Before they start they mark off 8 different spots on the car so they could test out how aggressive their polish will be. They want to be the least aggressive so they start off on the lowest setting and polish the first spot and see if they can still see scratches. If the scratches are still there they move over to the second spot they’ve marked off and increase the intensity. They keep doing this from spot to spot until they get to a level of intensity that clears out the scratches without damaging the paint.

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Once the external polishing of the car is complete they then apply a special treatment to the rubbers and plastics that will moisturize them and bring them back to life. The best example of how successful this treatment was is with the front spoiler of my car which you can see the before and after shots above. Before the detailing I was contemplating getting the spoiler painted black but now it looks brand new.

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After the exterior they move to the interior where they once again spend a lot of time cleaning and applying special treatment to the various materials inside the car. My dashboard had faded and dried because of it being parked outdoors but like with the external plastics, they managed to bring my dashboard back to life. Even all the interior black leather that covers my car now looks factory new. It’s just insane how new my really old car now looks. They didn’t only clean my carpets for example, but they removed my carpets, the insulation underneath it and then cleaned the whole tub of the car before putting everything back again.

Once they were done with the cleaning they moved to the final stage which is applying protection. It’s basically a protective clear coat that lasts anywhere between one to two years. This clear coat protects all the detailing work so that any minor scratches will be superficial and not affect the paint. After everything is done they give you a box (a KD45 value usually) containing a bunch of their cleaning products and various types of cloths and sponges so that you could take care of the car properly. If you have a driver that washes your car you could bring him in and they’ll teach him how to properly clean your car.

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The cost of this full detailing job? A whopping KD425. Obviously when a car costs as little as mine this really isn’t very feasible of course which is why I did the barter deal with them. You also don’t have to take the full extreme detailing package which I did. Their prices actually start under KD100 but if you’ve paid I don’t know, KD85,000 for a Mercedes 4X4 Squared for example then you clearly want the best fucking shit for your car and this is it. Personally I can’t believe what a huge difference it made to my car. It’s brought the paint job back to life, it’s shinny, it’s vibrant and because of the protective layer it feels so smooth (like super smooth). And the interior? She doesn’t look 43 at all, she looks like she’s in her 20s.

Now just to be clear this is not an ad and this post wasn’t part of the deal. I wanted to write this post because (a) I always need content but (b) because they really did bring my car back to life. I really need to install AC in the car since there is no way I’m going to leave her parked all summer long. Anyway, check them out, here is their instagram page [Link]


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Posta Plus vs Aramex’s Shop & Ship

Post by Mark

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I tend to be very loyal to the brands I use and like, and Aramex Shop & Ship is no exception. I’ve had a Shop & Ship account with them since 2001 (thats 15 years!) and although I use other similar US mailbox forwarding services (like MyUS.com) for some packages, Aramex has always been the service I use for the majority of my items.

But recently I’ve started disliking Aramex since they weren’t being honest and transparent with me. Packages from my Shop & Ship mailbox used to take around 7 days to get to me once they shipped but with my last three packages it took twice as long. In fact, they’ve been spending around 7 days just to get from Bahrain (their regional hub) to Kuwait! I kept pressing them for a reason, I just wanted to know why suddenly things were taking twice as long and nobody would give me an answer. I harassed them on twitter, I harassed them over the phone and using their live chat service yet nobody would tell me. They just acted like it was business as usual when it clearly wasn’t. So I posted about my frustration on the blog and thats when the guys at Posta Plus contacted me and asked me to try their service. At first I replied back thanking them for emailing me but that I was loyal to Aramex. But then I thought to myself, why the loyalty? I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dinars with Aramex, I’ve been a customer for over 15 years, I was one of their first Shop & Ship customers in Kuwait and yet I have the same benefits of a customer that would sign up today. So if I’m not important enough a client for Aramex, why should I be loyal to them? So I decided to sign up to the Posta Plus US mail forwarding service called MyBox and give them a shot.

Other than a few quibbles which I’ll discuss below, I’ve decided that I will be using Posta Plus from now on instead of Aramex for a number of reasons.

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The Good Stuff

– Posta Plus is considerably cheaper as you can see in the shipping cost comparison above.

– You can get a hold of their customer support instantly. Their hotline is very simple, you call, it asks you what language you prefer and then you’re connected to the support person who in my case picked up the phone instantly as soon as I pressed “2” for English. If you’ve ever tried calling Aramex for support you know how difficult and how long it takes to get a hold of someone.

– Like Aramex, Posta Plus also charge KD1 custom clearance fee. But, unlike Aramex, if you have a number of packages arriving at the same time, you have the option to consolidate them during the customs process and that way you’ll pay KD1 custom clearance fee for all the packages combined.

– In case you don’t want a package to be delivered, you have the option to “Hold” that package one package from within your Posta Plus dashboard so you could go pick it up yourself.

– Their delivery guys contact you before they head over to deliver the package to make sure you’re home.

– Their delivery speed is much faster than Aramex. So far the two packages that I shipped using Posta Plus, the first one was delivered 4 days after it left the States while the second one took 5 days. Thats 3x faster than my last few shipments with Aramex!

As I mentioned earlier, I did have a few issues with Posta Plus, none were deal breakers to me but I’ll mention them anyway.

The Not So Good Stuff

– I ran into an issue when signing up to their service. I went through the sign up process to setup an account but when it came time to pay my card got declined. I then couldn’t try again with another card since there was no try again option. So, I went through the processes of setting up the account again but it told me I couldn’t because the email was already in use. I tried logging into my account but their website told me the account didn’t exist. So I was stuck not being able to create and account because their system thought I had an account which in fact didn’t exist. I had to contact support to fix this.

– Right now you can’t pay for your packages online (it’s cash on delivery), but they’ll be offering this service soon. I really prefer paying for my stuff online with Knet.

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– You can only track your Posta Plus packages via their website. I usually track all my packages with the “Deliveries” app on my iPhone and Mac (pictured above) but the app doesn’t recognize Posta Plus tracking numbers. It recognizes Aramex on the other hand.

– This next one could be a plus for some people but was a negative for me. They notify you constantly by email and SMS on the status of your packages. You get an email and SMS when your package arrives to your mailbox, and then an email and SMS when it ships from your mailbox, when it goes to clearance you get an email and then when its out for delivery an email and SMS. The issue I had is there is no way to turn on or off the notifications and it was annoying to get an email and an SMS telling me the exact same thing. What made things worst in my case was I was getting two or three duplicate emails from their server by mistake. After complaining to them about it I think I don’t get any notification at all now which is also not something I want.

– Every time I log into their dashboard I get a pop up informing me they now have Canada as a mailbox location. I got it the first time, I don’t need to keep seeing the pop up every single time I want to log in to my account. Pop ups are really annoying.

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In Conclusion

Before Posta Plus I was using Shop & Ship for packages I wasn’t in a hurry to get and MyUS for packages I wanted ASAP. I was using Shop & Ship because they were cheaper than MyUS and since I didn’t need every item ASAP, the amount I was saving was worth it. But now I’m going to stop using both Shop & Ship and MyUS since Posta Plus is a much cheaper alternative to Aramex and nearly as fast as MyUS (+1/-1 day). Posta Plus is also a local brand and I like support local brands that are actually good. They kinda feel like Aramex in the early days which is a very good thing. They do have a bunch of issues they need to get sorted and so far they seem to be very accepting of my criticism and willing to improve things.

So if you’re frustrated with Aramex and are looking for an alternative thats cheaper and faster, Posta Plus is the way to go. The sign up fee is KD8 and here is a link to their [Website]

Note: The rate calculator on the Posta Plus website is completely in accurate.


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Game Review: The Division

Post by Patrick

thediv

The Division has been out for quite some time now and it’s taken me this long to write about it because I wanted to make sure my opinions didn’t change the longer I played the game. The game has generally been received well by critics, but as always that doesn’t reveal the extent of a games quality. If you don’t know what the Division is, it’s a cover based shooter with RPG mechanics, that’s a quasi MMO. Think of Destiny, yeah. It’s sort of like that.

The set up for the Division is simple. A lethal virus breaks out during Black Friday and spreads across New York City, ravaging the city and killing thousands. Manhattan is quarantined and the US Government activates sleeper agents known as the Division to assist emergency responders to bring stability and order to the city.

The game puts you in the shoes of an unnamed Division agent. You create your character and you’re forced into action. After a few missions you unlock your base which is split into 4 distinct sections. You have the general area where the stores and your stash are located. You have the medical, the security and a tech area. Whenever you upgrade each section you’ll see your base grow, with more personal and more people populating the base. It’s a great thing to see and very satisfying to observe. Each base upgrade also helps your character by adding perks or abilities. So you have more then one reason to upgrade your base. It also makes you think about what upgrade to choose first. Think of these three sections and the abilities they unlock as different play styles: If you focus on the medical section you should consider yourself a healer, if you focus on the tech, a rogue and if you focus on security a tank. Obviously you can mix and match, but generally this is how I thought of it.

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I enjoy enemy A.I. that is dynamic and that are smart. Bar some inconsistent moments the A.I. in this game is that. The enemies will try to outflank you so seeking cover in one place isn’t going to guarantee you safety. Your best bet is to shoot, cover and move. Staying out in the open will most likely lead to your death. The game features different groups of gangs that each offer different challenges. Within these gangs you’ll come to be familiar with the different types of enemies you’ll face. There are your melee enemies, who are probably the dumbest of all enemy types. They’ll just run up to you and try to hit you with a bat. They’re easy to kill, but if they do end up hitting you, they’ll deal a lot of damage. Then you have the other typical enemy types: a sniper, a shotgun, and regular grunt who uses automatic rifles. Depending on what gang you’re facing you’ll face more types of enemies. For example there is a gang called the Cleaners. They usually come equipped with flame-throwers and will burn anything that comes close to them. Then you have the boss-type characters who have a ton of armor and take some time to kill. Sometimes you’ll have to fight more than one and these fights can be pretty intense.

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