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Need For Speed: Heat – Hot Stuff Coming Through?

Need For Speed, a gaming staple for almost 25 years finally started feeling a little dead after the 2017 Payback edition. Gamers around my age will always hark back to the days of NFS Underground and Underground 2 as being the level that the series needs to be at. Gone are the days of NFS getting the big E3 treatment and coming into this review I wasn’t sure that Need For Speed: Heat would have was it takes to be the series salvation. What I can say is this… Heat feels like we are back on track it is fast, fun, and streets ahead of 2017’s properly disappointing Need for Speed Payback.

Need For Speed: Heat feels a lot more like a throwback to the days of Underground and Most Wanted with some modern tweaks. This results in a wide variety of car modifications available alongside mad cop car chase in an open-world arena. I found that Heat was built on a back to basics approach with new modifications and thankfully this stripped back and almost “old school” ethic works.

Palm City: A Day & Night Apart

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As with any Need For Speed, we need a playground. Enter Palm City, a map designed of the Miami skyline and drenched in neon. Perfect you might say for a classic NFS. It’s not about interactive detail, it’s about having something sexy to look at as you drive by at high speed and this delivers. Sure the map is small in comparison to the Crew but its a totally different experience.

NFS Heat is basically split into two different zones, day and night. By day this city is full of sanctioned street races that earn you cash monies while by night the world is all about that illegal, underground racing and taking sketch away from the guard’s life that builds up rep points. To progress in the game you will need a fair amount of both to get anywhere, which is grand because the story mode is very loose and it’s more of an occasional diversion from Heat’s regular racing events.

Put it like this, if you want to race for new cars and parts you need to get out during the day to make that money. But to get the reputation needed to unlock the better packages and missions its the nightlife for you. To be honest, the night mode is visually far superior, the races feel faster…probably due to the traffic and wild cop chases.

Get to the Chase

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Unlike games of yesteryear, the cop chases are more GTA with no set time limit and they are fair feisty until you get better vehicle upgrades. Your car is also equipped with a damage meter so going tit for tat with the police isn’t much of an option so when you can
get instant repairs from gas stations up to three times a night, too much damage and you’ll be arrested.
Remember the cops are king in this game, they can’t always outmanoeuvre you so sometimes the game will spawn the boys in blue nearby and their burst of speed is something else. If and when you do get caught you’ll lose a fair amount of bank and rep so it’s a tad bothersome when the busted meter starts once the guards are in striking distance if I can knock him aside and get ploughing on without writing of the car… just let me, please. Apart from that minor gripe, the cop races are challenging but very good.

Choice of Vehicles

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There are plenty of cars to choose from in Need For Speed: Heat. To be honest, if you were unlucky enough to have played payback you’ll notice is mainly the same roster. It’s good to see Ferrari back on board but we are yet to see the return of Toyota. The cars are worked in fine detail doing every model great credit and there is a great selection of modern supercars but sadly there are no modern classics or old school street racers, especially in a game that seems built for them.

Throughout the game, as you progress through the levels, more cars unlock, of course at premium prices. As ever your starter car will only get you so far and buying a new motor will be required. Remember with drift, drag and sprint races all part of the game you will want a selection of cars fine-tuned to the specifics of each race type. But that will take a bit of time. Other than that the cars really are brilliant to look at but funnily enough, despite the brilliant detail such as animated raindrops trickling down side panels, nobody animated the windscreen wipers.

Driving

The driving in Need For Speed: Heat does feel a little different than usual. Drifts seem to be more automatic when you lift off the accelerator and pump it again at the corner. It takes some getting used to and I found myself accidentally skidding into some bends. You can change it yourself to brake to drift so maybe try both and see what takes your fancy.

The cars feel like they are a bit slow to get going and if I’m honest the starter cars aren’t the best demonstration of the games true driving dynamics, things get better as the cars do…naturally you might say.

Upgrades

Image result for need for speed heatNFS Heat’s upgrade system is a major improvement over previous generations. Outside of a limited number of special rewards, there are no more stupid Poker Machine styled speed cards to randomly tune up your motor. Thank be to the lord himself because that was painful. I really like the fact they went back to basics with a want a part by a part dynamic.

Need For Speed: Heat also includes engine swaps, a nice new feature that increases overall vehicle horsepower. You can even fine-tune your exhaust sound which is fun, subtle but seriously cool for petrol heads. Other car goodness comes in the editor where you can modify car body, stance, lights and pretty much everything you can think off.

The Goosed Verdict

Need For Speed: Heat, as we mentioned, feels like a throwback to the golden ages of the series with a minimal storyline and maximum action. By scraping together the best ideas throughout the generations we get something that probably isn’t the best arcade racer ever but surely the best NFS in about a decade. That kind of says more about how poor some of the games have been. Put it like this, Forza Horizon is probably the title to beat but this is as close as Need For Speed has come in a long time. It’s a great racer, beautiful, simple and fast…sure it doesn’t reinvent the wheel but I dare anyone who enjoyed the golden generation to not play this with a smile.

Using Drones & AI For River Rescue

Two students Eoghan Mulcahy and Ciaran O’Meara from the University of Limerick started a final year engineering project that aimed to use drones and artificial intelligence to make river rescues a faster operation in the future. The company called, Deepseek was founded after Eoghan witnessed a 1st hand river rescue:

“I witnessed someone enter the water in Limerick city and I witnessed the aftermath of the rescue attempt. It was very much a kind of frenzied rescue attempt, because the response was very quick but it was a ground-based rescue team.”

On average there are over 130 known drownings in Ireland every year and already the idea of using drone and artificial intelligence to help the search-and-rescue teams to cover the initial window of the rescue has been awarded €7,000 investment from Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur programme.

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Right now there are already drone systems in use within the rescue services in Ireland, and Deepseek is focusing on cutting out the human operating the drone. The idea here us that the drone will work alongside the search and rescue team, more like a teammate rather than a piece of equipment.

“We are trying to automate the whole drone system so there is no human interaction – its completely autonomous – that’s where the AI comes in, it uses thermal and visual light and then it essentially automates the search component out of the search and rescue so when the rescue teams arrive in their boats they know exactly where to go and they can make the rescue a lot more efficiently.”

Deepseek now co-ordinates with Limerick Search & Rescue and the coast guard to figure out how to best integrate their software. While the company focus on the river rescues while they develop the AI, they are already being sought after by other areas. For example, right now a helicopter takes up to 20 mins to get off the ground after a call during the day while that number increases to 45 mins at night but an unmanned drone could potentially have a much faster response rate.

LEAF 2020 – Limerick Electronic Arts Festival March 2020

Limerick’s a mad old city at times, fresh off the back of the new University of Limerick Campus in the City Centre getting greenlit, the city loses RTE Lyric FM. Maybe not a big deal to most but in a time when the city is moving forward losing the station to Cork and Dublin, is a bit of a bother. But there is some good news today as a brand new electronic arts festival will launch in the city in March next year.

The Limerick Electronic Arts Festival (LEAF 2020) will run from 5-8th March and will attract over 20,000 participants across several venues. We were lucky enough to attend the launch last Friday in St. Mary’s Cathedral in the city which same the Glasshouse Ensemble present an orchestral interpretation of the music and visuals of Aphex Twin.

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LEAF 2020 will debut in March welcoming some international artists, social media innovators, E-Sports and tech innovators in a world-first event to showcase the intersection of technology and artistic expression. Laura Buckley of CWB explained:

 “electronic arts are everything from Ed Sheerin to Super Mario – music videos – virtual reality – gaming. We have 4,000 students studying electronic media in Limerick. We want LImerick to be able to ride the electronics entertainment wave which is the growth field of the future”.

 

From video games to projection mapping, performance art to content creators, LEAF will become the catalyst for the exploration of electronic arts to the world. The event will be curated by futurist Anne Lise Kjaer, a Ted speaker, entrepreneur and Copenhagen Goodwill ambassador.

The festival will also see Cleeve’s Factory on O’Callaghan Strand will transform into an urban festival setting with house installations, events, and workshops.  Across the four days, there will be music from electronic artists and digital artists.

The Business of Electronic Arts conference – a one-day event on Friday 6th March – will see leading content creators join discussions, keynote interviews and talks. LEAF 2020 aims to provide a platform for people to discuss how technology can and should be used for generations to come.

A Youth Conference and workshop will be held on the Saturday where Limerick College of Further Education will play host to talks, panels and demonstrations for our digital future. With every Irish teenager now a digital native, the day will comprise of talks and panels on E-sports, YouTube, music creation and the world of online collaboration and monetisation from Debop to Spotify.

Alongside these different events there will also be a series of workshops throughout the weekend with the idea of bringing participants on a journey of learning with pioneers in the field of music production, digital art, performance and monetising art. We will also see the multi-generational Chime Out choir will join Limerick people from all walks of life and unite them in song and the project will conclude with an outdoor event where the choir will perform classic dance anthems with visual projections and a light show.

LEAF 2020 will also deliver a free music trail showcasing some of the most cutting-edge artists in Ireland today. Curated by prominent music blogger Nialler 9, venues across the city will welcome the many performers taking part in this world-first festival.Tara Stewart of 2fm radio will also be involved.

With a host of fringe events, from a discussion on ATARI’s early days in the mid-west to the links between LK and LA, LEAF 2020 is a festival Limerick can call its own – positioning the city as a world leader in electronic arts.

Plants Vs Zombies Review

Ah Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, a good game ruined by EA’s greed, a perfectly good game until the shameless money-grabbing micro-transactions wrecked what could have been a potential game of the year contender. It was a fun, engaging and downright enjoyable game that was perfect to jump in and just have some fun. Thankfully we now have Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville a game that seems to be truer to the series and feels more like a live-service game done right, with Popcap and EA using early access as a proving ground to start rolling things out.

A new lease of life?

Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is relatively similar to the previous titles in that it builds on the popularity of the 3rd party shooter, Backyard battleground and has added a number of hubs to play through with a decent selection of missions, collectables, hidden features and some other bits.

As ever it’s insanely colourful and the characters are so well designed its not even funny. Every character is so detailed that you already know that when the microtransactions kick off this is where the money is going to be made. Every playable character has 5 components that are customisable with a range of cosmetics, plus Plants Vs Zombies includes emotes and icons that you can unlock or buy throughout the game.

While the game itself is really good, games that are based on the microtransaction model bother the bollox out of me. Pay €45 quid for the game to spend premium currency, purchasable by using real-money and obtainable in-game, no doubt in very limited quantities, that will then be used to purchase rarer cosmetics. Na not for me, just let me play the game. No doubt Deano as an avid Forniter will say different.

Alongside the brilliant graphics, the game is rather fun. Both the plants and the zombies have a wide selection of characters, based on a 5 tier system with each tier unlocking new abilities. This works through upgrade points. There are 7 upgrade points, some cost 1 other costing up to 3. How you set that up is totally up to you.

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With PvP mode the roster of 20 characters you are sure to find the ones you prefer and undoubtedly stick with them. It’s basically just a streamlined version of Garden Warfare. Personally I’ve enjoyed this even it wouldn’t be my personal favourite genre. Honestly, you’ll find nothing non-traditional. It’s simple, fast and fun, even on the losing side.

PvE is probably the game mode that is the main selling point of Plants vs Zombies. Plants and Zombies both have their own zones to explore where you can upgrade your characters, do little mini-games, find some other secrets and more. The zones are just enemy-infested areas with a core number of missions, a variety of side missions and more gnomes than you can decorate a lawn with. Simples.

Collectables

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As with most games, collectables are a big thing, gnomes, tapes, dogs and audio logs are the catch of the day with each map containing its own secondary currency you get from completing quests or downing enemies. These can then be used in the specific zones on cosmetics or maps that display the chests, gnomes or other collectables that you’ve both found and yet to find. There’s something enjoyable about finding a gnome relaxing in a kiddy pool, while you wrack your brains on how to actually get to it.

What I liked

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I may have said this already but aesthetically Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is very very pleasing. It has its own style and charm across every hub area. These are fun in their own right to explore and collect goodies until you’ve seen it all, and there isn’t much else to do.

I also like that every character is detailed and unique even though they fit across three classes, attack, defence, and support. Credit must go to PopCap for this as they ensure no 2 characters play the same way. Another bit of credit must go to them as they did something most developers don’t, a voice-over narration for the main menu. It’s a simple but essential accessibility feature that will be tremendously beneficial to some players.

Between the games modes Team Vanquish, Battle Arena and Garden & Graveyard Ops there is enough variety of games but it does feel a tad shallow. They all play in a similar way, either defending something or attacking something…also known as shoot on sight. If you’ve played Garden Warfare 2 already, I don’t see any meaningful reason to pick this one up.

While battle royale games are everywhere nowadays I feel Plants Vs Zombies would have been better suited to this genre, but it can’t be done due to and I quote “underlying restrictions with how the brand’s core gameplay works”. AKA They don’t want zombies vs zombies but that just seems like a stupid reason if you ask me.

Also, my main gripe and it’s something I’ll be sure to rattle on about going forward but microtransactions can go and do one. Seriously especially in games like this that are targeted at a younger audience, it’s a predatory practice and shouldn’t be allowed. EA are known fans of microtransactions and we know they are coming to Plants Vs Zombies. There’s not much more to say about it but if you buy a game like this just take your card details of the console and save yourself a potential accidental whopper of a charge.

The Goosed Verdict

Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is a grand game, nothing too special but a good laugh for a time. It offers enough content upfront to keep you busy for a bit, but the enjoyment is fleeting once you realize how shallow the game really is. Like a lot of these kinds of games, you’ll end up using the same character over and over again.

However, for fans of the genre it’s engaging and fun and thanks to the new content from the early access it seems that Plants vs. Zombies is getting the live service right. So would I recommend the game? Unlike Anthem another EA release this is already worth the entrance fee.

Football Manager 20 (FM 20) – It’s Back & Bigger Than Ever!

Oh yes it’s that time of year once more! The time to forget your family, your job and responsibilities because Football Manager 20 is here. As a huge fan of the cult classic, I’ve been lucky enough to have gotten a spin off the Football Manager 2020 (FM20) Beta. Not going to lie I’m already the one more game at 2 am kind of person but to be fair Sports Interactive’s football sim has long been considered the ultimate immersive experience for armchair pundits and managers alike. With that in mind we cover everything you need to know before you take your beloved club to the big-time.

FM 20 Release Date & Price

Being a proud advocate of the series for nearly 15 years now, you bet I was excited that my pre-order came with early access because the full game isn’t landing until November 19th. That includes the full PC Steam version as well as FM20 Touch & Mobile (both smaller mobile friendly variation). The only release dates we are waiting on are for the Google Stadia which we should get when the when the cloud-based gaming platform launches in November & the Nintendo Switch. This year the title will cost 54.99 on Steam but you get 10% off when you pre-order.

New Enviro-friendly Packaging

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There are two type of gamers, the downloader and the box collector. Personally I’m a big fan of collecting the hard copy versions of my favourite series. I know downloading is much easier but we all know there’s something about that disc in your hands. Anyway Sports Interactive have been on a mission to be better and those old school plastic boxes have been replaced.

FM 20 will be packaged in 100% recycled board and will come with a manual printed on 100% recycled paper, shrink-wrapped in fully recyclable low-density polyethylene (LDPE). They claim this move could save up to 20 tonnes of plastic and the aim to to kick start a movement in the gaming industry to become more environmentally responsible.

For those who are fans of previous games you will know Sports Interactive are active in the world of social responsibility. Using the in game hoarding advertising to promote Movember and War Child with options to donate. It may only be a small gesture but fair play Football Manager.

Graphics – Games Finally Worth Watching

FM 20 has made huge strides to improve the player and manager modeling this year. I mean if we are being realistic this is probably the least important part of the game as a whole but it’s nice being able to scan a picture of your head into the game to become the gaffer. Every year Football Manager makes some improvements and this year is no different.

FM 20 sports a brand new redesigned UI and it’s made some changes to various elements of the overall infrastructure, minimal but enough to make a nice change. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ability to get detailed match day selection advice, especially handy if your thinking of new formations and styles with your assistant suggesting players based on a variety of factors like moral, form, suitability to the task and fitness.

The in match graphics have got a real nice overall. For a starters when you load your first game you get asked about advertising, whether they can use your online data to advertise relevant or generic information on the surrounding match day hoardings. Then we get to the game where the pitches have gotten a field that will now react more obviously to weather.

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The match engine which is probably the best and worst feature of the games gone by, has come a long way from the circle spots of years gone by. The detail while nowhere near console titles is good enough that when you see your player swing a first time volley from 30 yards you’ll be hard pressed not to react. Genuinely I was showing the housemates and I highly regret not recording the scenes when my real life favourite player, Aleksandar Mitrović struck a thunderbolt to get us into the Carabao Cup Final. Now there are still some minor defensive AI bloopers which are a tad frustrating, but maybe that adds to the whole game?

Tactical advice

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Last year saw the introduction of a completely overhauled tactical set up which was both intuitive and exciting but also super easy to make a balls of if you didn’t understand what kind of details are needed to make each tactic work. With styles like Tiki-Taka, Vertical Tiki-Taka, Direct, Counterpress and the Gegenpress all coming to the fore in recent years it’s so easy to get lost in the this arena.

What do you want your team to do in transition, how do your full backs react and then what happens both in and out of possession in terms of positioning, pressing, passing, marking and whatever else, the possibilities are endless. Buuut this has to suit the players at your disposal, not unlike real football management, who would have guessed. Think about it if your team isn’t fit enough to last 90 mins at a high press that will come in to play, if your defenders can’t pass don’t play out from the back and if your forwards are big and lumpy then there’s no point trying to play off the shoulder.

Whether you take any of that into consideration or not is totally up to yourself, forge your own path or listen to your team of staff. They will now show you how are moving away from your typical tactical set up, things which are easily overlooked if you’re not the most detail oriented player. Anyway before you end up with a medley of styles hotchpotched together your assistant will pick out a few systems that will suit the players you actually have. Vital information before you waste months trying to play a style that hasn’t a hope of working.

Pre-Planned Punishments

Previous players of the genre will know that fining players for misconduct has always been a shit show. But no more. No longer will we be at the mercy of a players personality (every single player has their very own personality traits) when you want to put your foot down for bad behavior.

In FM 20 we are given the new Code Of Conduct, where your team captain will suggest the punishments based on the squads input for you to consider. You can tailor this yourself and this small little thing takes away so much pain. Your ideas and expectations are clearly laid out so the team will respect your authority, but if you fail to stick by it the backlash could be epic.

What Else Is New?

The best bit of Football Manager? Building a proper dynasty, planning for the long term rather and getting so deep that Kylian Mbappe retires. FM 20 is focused on the long term players and this brings about a whole new boardroom experience.

From the get-go, your club will give you a three – five year plan tailored to your club, broken down season by season. There is also expectations regarding club culture and this may even extend into deeper requirements when it comes to the transfer market and on-field style or even budget restrictions that you will face for years to come.

Again seasoned players know all about the wonderkids, these are the chaps who are touted to go on to great things in the future who need to be treated with time, care and patience. Not always something that was afforded in games gone by. All that panic dropping a chunk of your budget on a seventeen year old who you’ve promised the world and aren’t ready to play is made easier. In FM 20 you can do what you would actually do with a young player in reality, tell them where they’re at now and promise to give them more time and prominence in a year or two when they aren’t children, and when your veterans have left. Sounds logical doens’t it?

There are also extra contractual options in regards to playing time expectations that link up with player dressing room influence and squad harmony, for instance in contract negotiations make it easier to designate someone as a Cup Goalkeeper or Fringe Player, helping keep player expectations in check in FM20. Much better than when you’ve a fellow who’s your third choice keeper causing ructions in your squad for no reason.

It’s been mentioned earlier but your backroom stafff gets also gets a major upgrade in FM 20. You’ll get much more detailed pre-match analysis including heat and touch maps alongside ideal matchday squads. There’s also better match to match tactical analysis of your opponents including recommendations from your team to help you pick the best tactic to win the match at hand.

Oh and sure it wouldn’t be modern day football management without the backroom positions of Technical Director, Head of Player Development and Loan Manager that have been added to better replicate the behind-the-scenes aspects of managing a football club.

Goosed Verdict

As ever with Football Manager, I was only really able to scratch the surface over the last week or so…solely because the game is just that god dam big! You know these guys make a serious product when their database, scouting system and player analysis are used in both punditry and by real professional clubs scouting networks. I felt maybe last year the longevity factor somewhat dropped but FM 20 brings that back with a bang as longevity is key. The Club Vision in itself is a wonderful addition that affects the entire structure of the game, increasing both the challenge and realism of club management. For new players getting involved in the series for the first time, the layout is simple, everything works as it should and the tutorial is beautifully unobtrusive. Then if you’re like me and you’re already a a fan of the game with the biggest cult following in football (yes i’m looking at you FIFA), then FM 20 should prove to be the most immersive title of Football Manager for some time. Now I’m off to sort out my suit, blast some Champions League tunes and manage my beloved Fulham to the title.

Kodak Smile Printer: Print Your Photos With An AR Video Twist

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Tech tends to move in cycles. Cycles which I’m sure leave many companies furious. Kodak could well be one such company. After creating the digital camera, they kind of suppressed it for fear it would kill their film business. The company survived many mistakes over the past few decades while also missing many opportunities. Today, one of the biggest markets for Kodak is printers and they’ve sent me a Kodak Smile Instant Printer to test out. Read on to find out why I think this could be one of the biggest gift ideas to hit the market this year.

What is a Kodak Smile Instant Printer?

The Kodak Smile Instant Printer is a relatively small battery-powered printer. It lets you print off photos which are slightly smaller than a credit card. Kodak, obviously keen not to miss a few more tricks, has included some nice additional features which make this small printer go far beyond being a gimmick.

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Zink Paper

First up, you don’t need to worry about ink. While the paper your prints appear on is like traditional photo paper to feel, there’s a lot more to it. First of all, the Zink paper is the secret behind why you’ll never have to worry about ink cartridges. The Smile Instant Printer uses heat to activate different layers of colour within the Zink paper to prink fairly decent colour photos.

Pop In A Frame Or Stick It

The photos you print out with this Kodak printer are much smaller than your average photo. Picking up a frame stick isn’t a problem, but you do have another option. The Zink paper doubles as a sticker. Peel off the back and you can slap your photo up anywhere.

Augmented Reality

This is the bit I love the most. This is the feature that blows people’s minds.

Using the Kodak Smile app, you can edit your photos and make them fit nicely to the Zink paper you’re just about to print on. As part of the editing process, you can also link a 30-second video to your photo. Using the Kodak app, you’ll then be able to scan the photo you printed before some really cool Harry Potter style augmented reality technology kicks in. Hard to describe, but easy to show you.

Anyone I’ve shown this to has been left with their jaw on the floor. You can link and photo to any video of 30 seconds. The video gets uploaded to a Kodak cloud service which means others can view your video too. All they need is the photo you printed and the Kodak app.

Another important point is that this printer doesn’t need batteries. It’s rechargable via micro-USB and will print 40 photos on a single charge.

Why Are People Printing Photos Again?

Like I said, tech moves in cycles. There was a while where people were tired of printing their photos, taken on a camera with limited shots allowed per film. Digital cameras and, even more so, smartphones, have changed how we take photos. A friend of mine recently said a weekend to Donegal led to over five thousand photos being taken. But with this advancement in how we capture memories, also came memories which were harder to access. Our photos now live in the cloud, on hard drives or on USB sticks. We rarely look back at the shots we’ve taken and Kodak is out to change that.

There’s been a growing interest in printing out physical copies of our photos. Fujifilm has created a very popular Instax camera which you might see people without and about. This point-and-shoot camera will instantly print out a small photo for you after you take it.

The Kodak Smile Instant Printer is somewhat similar except you print the photos you’ve taken on your smartphone. For many, the Fujifilm camera brings a certain novelty to the table but for me, it’s the practicality of not having to lug around an actual camera which makes the Kodak Smile printer an attractive idea.

Kodak Smile Printer: The Verdict

The photos you get from this printer are a little on the small side and the quality isn’t as sharp as the traditional prints you might have been used to back in the day. However, the trade-off here is cute and quick prints from a printer which you’ll never need to buy ink for.

The pros way outweigh the cons for me in this scenario. On top of that you can also add in the fact your photos are also stickers with AR videos attached and this becomes one of the coolest gadgets for reliving your favourite memories on the market.

Where To Buy The Kodak Smile Printer

I’d imagine you’ll be able to pick this up on the high street this Christmas but right now I can only see this on Amazon.co.uk for about €120.

The Zink paper is where Kodak will make their long term money from you using this printer. A pack of 15 Zink sheets will set you back about €22. That means you’re paying in or around €1.50 per photo.

New Irish Wellness App Keep Appy

It’s no secret that there is a serious mental health problem in Ireland, particularly in Limerick where half of the Goosed Team hail from. In the past we spoke about Irish Tech for Good Company – Keep Appy and how they empower the user to take control of their mental well being. We recently caught up with Aimee Louise Carton one of the founders of the company about what they have been up to since we last spoke.

The platform enables consumers, who may or may not suffer from mental health issues to record their wellbeing through a mood tracker, journaling, goal setting and more. KeepAppy can be described as a gym for everyone’s wellbeing, where users have an array of ‘equipment’ or tools to help them take control of their mental health. Keep Appy has been designed to empower users to take control of their mental and physical wellbeing by enabling people to track the vitals that most impact an individual’s state of mind. KeepAppy is designed to increase self-awareness and encourage engagement with positive behaviour practices!

Vital Tracking

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Keep Appy as we mentioned contains 10 key features that focus on empowering, educating and cultivating a wellness-oriented lifestyle, through three main areas:

  • Prevention
    • Journaling
    • Goal Setting
    • Mindfulness
    • Medical Pill Reminder
    • Period Tracker
  • Growth
    • Mood Tracking
    • Individualising Content
    • Gratitude Diary
    • Community Challenges
  • Care
    • Geo-Specific Partnered Helplines

In the near future, they are bringing in a gamification element to the app. Remember Tamogatchi’s? Well, these guys are bringing out their Keepies and as you enter your vital daily and work on improving your mental wellbeing, these pets will grow with you to give you a virtual visualisation of your progress. Plus little dogs are cute as hell so maybe it will incentivise a few people to work harder so they can grow their Keepie. To hear more information about the Keepies, Aimee discusses’ it in our latest podcast.

More than just an app

Outside of the vital tracking, Keep Appy is on a mission to make a positive impact. Not only are they linked up with over 40 different organisations such as the Samaritans, but they have also implemented a one for one model. That means that for every user who decides to plump for the premium service, they will donate a lifetime subscription to Keep Appy to someone in need, chosen by the helplines they work with. Essentially you get the premium service and someone in need gets a service that could be a bit of help, that’s pretty cool if you ask me.

KeepAppy is unique in that it’s a strictly confidential app – its founders have committed to never abusing or selling users data, in contrast to many other wellness platforms.

Speaking about the launch of KeepAppy, Co-founder Aimee-Louise Carton said:

“We are delighted to be launching Ireland’s go to app for mental wellbeing. KeepAppy aims to become the leading wellness app for Irish people. It’s a strictly confidential platform where users can journal their moods and gain access to a host of other services that can improve their mental state of mind in a matter of minutes”

All in all, we think it’s a great app and in a time that as a nation we are losing far too many people to self-harm and suicide, if even one person gets the help they need through an app like this, then as far as I’m concerned it’s a job well done. The Beta is available now on both iOS and Android.

Huawei Watch GT 2: Could This Challenge Apple Watch?

huawei watch gt 2 review

I’ve actually had every Huawei watch to date. It started with the first Huawei Watch. That was love at first sight. One of the first smartwatches to hit the market that actually looked like a watch. The Huawei Watch 2, which I bought for Google Pay, disappointed as Google never launched Google Pay in Ireland for wearables. Then, Huawei sent me the Huawei Watch GT. Another gorgeous watch marking Huawei’s departure from Google’s Wear OS with the Chinese manufacturer opting instead for their own Lite OS. And now, I’m wearing the Huawei Watch GT 2. I’ve been wearing it since Huawei launched the Mate 30 series in Munich and here’s what I think of it so far.

Design

huawei watch gt 2 review

When it comes to wearables there’s plenty of items up for debate and I’m going to kick off with the design. I’m not going to lie, I’m starting with the Huawei Watch GT 2’s strongest feature here. This watch is gorgeous. Step away from this being a smartwatch and, in my opinion, you still have a lovely piece of kit.

This time around, I opted for the brown leather strap version of the watch which personally I believe to looks quite classy and professional. It looks equally good with a suit as it does with a t-shirt. The watches glass isn’t showing up any scratches even after two months worth of use. The screen isn’t sunk into the frame like the watches predecessor, leaving the glass flush with the frame. Once you get over the fear of not having that bezel to protect you, you’re left with a better-looking watch.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a silicon strap in the box too. Thanks to the quick-release system that Huawei Watches have used for the past few years, swapping back and forth between straps is simple. The benefit is that your business dress watch can quickly be turned into a sports watch. If the design is the Huawei Watch GT 2’s strongest feature, the sports tracking features is a close second.

Fitness Tracking

I’m far from being an athlete, but I like to stay active. The Huawei Watch GT had previously impressed me so I was unsure what else Huawei could bring to the table in the latest wearable to join the Huawei family.

huawei watch gt 2 fitness

The Watch GT 2 still has built-in GPS and is water-resistant to 5 meters. This is significant as the watch lets you track lots of sports. Leave your phone at home and the watch can still track your runs with realtime heart rate monitoring, even when you’re swimming. If you’re doing triathlons, the watch is clever enough to keep up and change between disciplines.

The big step up for me with the Huawei Watch GT 2 is the personal trainer. This bit of software brings you through various programmes and helps you keep your heart rate in the right zone. Add to all of this Bluetooth connectivity and onboard memory for music and the silicon strap and you’re suddenly left with the perfect smartwatch for training. Why? Well, you can leave your phone at home, connect your headphones to the watch and then listen to music without any need for additional hardware weighing you down.

One feature which really suited me is the watch’s built-in speaker. I’ve been running with my better half who was able to hear our programme changes from my wrist. This is a much more practical use of the on-board speaker as I can’t see many people taking calls like a super spy – though that does work fine.

Battery life

Actually, I probably need to go back on what I’ve said here. Maybe the battery is the real hero here. My pet hate with wearables over the years has almost certainly been battery lift. Charging tech every night just sucks. Phones, we can live with but that’s because they’re almost impossible to live without. Watches – well if that’s dead in the morning, it’ll just be left on the dresser.

Thankfully, there’s no such problem with the Huawei Watch GT 2. This thing has a whopper battery life, with Huawei promising up to two weeks of battery life on your wrist. I can confirm that you will get plenty of life from this wearable. In reality, given the level of tracking I’ve gone with, the watch usually gives me a week at the very least, usually with a handful of extra days on top. Plenty to leave you struggling to remember the last time you charged your watch when the low battery notification starts.

Lite OS and Watch Faces

Because you’re using Lite OS there are certain limitations for the Huawei Watch GT 2. There’s no payments or support for any other third-party apps. You’ll get limited notification information and the likes, but listening to and controlling Spotify on your wrist isn’t going to happen any time soon.

Similarly, there are no maps services or similar either. You do get a limited range of Huawei-build apps within the Lite OS system. Apple made quite the big deal about having a compass and Huawei follows suit. A feature I felt would be useless until a recent trip to Seoul left me realising how handy having a compass can be.

Again, because this is Lite OS there are no third-party watch faces either. Huawei offers a fair few faces on the watch by default and these do cover a wide range of styles. I couldn’t see many left wanting for additional details on the Watch GT 2’s faces.

Huawei Watch GT 2: The Verdict

The Huawei Watch GT 2 will be coming to the Irish market soon and, rather unusually, Huawei has been quite vocal about this. I guess this makes sense as the Chinese manufacturer seeks to make up for some of the losses they’ve experienced in European markets given the whole Trump/Android fiasco. Huawei is also launching the Freebuds 3 this side of Christmas showing their willingness to start trying new things.

This is, in a weird way, good news. It’s good news because Huawei is forever creating great tech that we don’t always get to see. Huawei’s phone troubles have left them in search of other ways to tap into Western markets. This watch could very well be the watch which challenges the Apple Watch. If I’m being totally honest with myself, I think it’s the next rendition that will nail Apple Watch as Huawei does seem to be continuing to find their feet in the wearable market at the moment.

Regardless, this watch is packed full of features and functionality making it worthy of some serious consideration if you’re an Android phone user.

The Huawei Watch GT 2 will be available before Christmas and should retail for about €249. Check back here for updates.

The DJI Mavic Mini: Buying The Best Value Drone in Ireland

buying the mavic mini in ireland

I think it’s time I finally take the plunge. I’ve been close to buying a drone a few times over the past year or so, but I always backed off. My reason? Simple. I would cry if I flew a €1500 piece of tech into the ocean. I just couldn’t trust myself. That’s why the DJI Mavic Mini is a real game-changer in the drone space. If this doesn’t make drones go mainstream, I’m not sure what will. So as I prepare to make my purchase, here’s everything I felt I needed to know.

dji mavic mini

Obviously, this can’t be a review. I’ve never flown a drone in my life let alone this specific drone. However, I can outline why this is the drone that’s tipping me over the edge towards making a purchase along with all the research that goes with it.

What am I buying the DJI Mavic Mini?

Like I mentioned there at the start, I love the idea of owning a drone. The problem is the hate the idea of spending a fortune only to no longer own a drone that I lost in the ocean or on top of a building. Sure, there are cheaper drones on the market, but DJI has such a bit name in this space, I’d feel short-changed if I bought anything else.

size of mavic mini

Until now, all DJI drones were just too expensive, but now with the launch of the DJI Mavic Mini, there’s finally an affordable DJI drone on the market. When I say affordable, I’m saying €399 for the base model and €499 for the Fly More combo – the latter appearing to be even more value for money.

The cheaper price doesn’t mean I’m cutting corners either. This drone still packs a 2k camera and some impressive stats on range and flight time along with a smartphone compatible controller.

What is the difference between the DJI Mavic Mini and Mavic Mini Fly More combo?

For an extra €100, you can get the Fly More combo kit. For me, that’s money well spent because straight off the bat you get more batteries which means more flight time. You get more screws and propellers too which, if I’m honest, is a worrying inclusion for a first-time drone owner. You also get propellor guards which, even with my limited knowledge, feel like something I won’t be using.

All in all it seems like money well spent to me.

DJI Mavic MiniDJI Mavic Mini Fly More Combo
Price€399€499
Aircraft11
Remote Controller11
Intelligent Flight Battery13
Pair of Spare Propellers13
Micro USB Cable12
Gimbal Protector11
RC Cable (Micro USB connector)11
RC Cable (USB-C connector)11
RC Cable (Lightning connector)11
Pair of Spare Control Sticks11
Spare Screw618
Screwdriver11
360° Propeller Guard01
Two-Way Charging Hub01
DJI 18W USB Charger01
Carrying Bag01

Where can I buy the DJI Mavic Mini?

You’ll be able to pick up this drone in a couple of places. From here on in, you can assume the prices I outlined above as being the price you pay unless I say otherwise and someone is overcharging.

The DJI website

The first place you can go looking for the DJI Mavic Mini is on the DJI website. Here, DJI offers both the base model Mavic Mini and the Fly More combo. The catch here is that DJI already looks like they will keep you waiting for the Mavic Mini if you want to seek out some extra value with the Fly More combo. The base model ships in five to nine working days but the Fly More combo will take 20 to 25 days.

Amazon.co.uk

Another favourite spot to shop for me! Amazon.co.uk will be stocking both the standard drone and Fly More combo version of the DJI Mavic Mini. In a rather unusual turn of events, Amazon will apparently ship these drones directly to Irish addresses without a requirement for you to direct them through Parcel Motel. However, this all comes with a catch.

The Sterling price for the DJI Mavic Mini Fly More combo is £470. Even if you’re clever and use Revolut to get the best exchange rate, you’re looking at about €540 for this through Amazon. That’s €40 that you could keep in your back pocket shopping with DJI or with an Irish retailer.

Harvey Norman

One of the biggest tech suppliers in the country looks like a good shout if you want to pick up the DJI Mavic Mini too. Harvey Norman will be selling the Mavic Mini from November 11th. Fingers crossed they’ll have the Fly More combo on this date too because they are the frontrunner for my money right now.

PhotoSpecialist.ie

I always try to verify the prices I recommend through PriceSpy.ie and this drone is no different. This is where I heard about PhotoSpecialist.ie. Being honest, I hadn’t heard about them before but they certainly look to have everything you’d need to shot some awesome shots, DJI Mavic Mini included.

I’ve never bought from them in the past, but it looks like they’ll have everything ready to go for November 11th. I’ve asked them what the craic is anyway and will update this post when I hear back.

The DJI Mavic Mini and Irish Drone Laws

In his first look video last week, drone enthusiast Casey Neistat made quite the big deal about the weight of the DJI Mavic Mini. The 249 grams weight is very significant in the US as it comes in below the criteria required for registering your drone.

This is not the case for Ireland. As part of my purchase planning, I naturally had to check out drone laws. Of course, I could be wrong so feel free to hit me up on Twitter to correct me.

The skies of Ireland are governed by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) and it’s their order, S.I. No. 563 of 2015 IRISH AVIATION AUTHORITY SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT (DRONES) AND ROCKETS ORDER, which dictates your legal requirements for owning a drone.

This order states it does not apply “to drones and small unmanned aircraft of less than 1-kilogram maximum mass less fuel and constructed of wood, paper or frangible plastic and containing no substantial parts”. This means that technically you are not required to register your Mavic Mini. However, there is an added stipulation which states you must also operate your drone below “15m above the ground or water and in a manner that does not create a hazard to persons, property or other aircraft”.

Considering the ability of this drone to reach a max ceiling of 3000m I would strongly recommend that you register your drone as there’s a very good chance you’ll be going over 15m once you get comfortable flying it. You can register over on the IAA website and from what I see, it’ll set you back €3.

Operating a drone in Ireland

What also strikes me as interesting is how restrained I will have to be in using my drone. The DJI Mavic Mini has specs far beyond what the IAA consider to be responsible drone usage.

With a range of 4 kilometres, the IAA insists you do not operate a drone beyond 300 meters away from you or above 120 meters. You should not use it in urban areas or within 30 meters of other people. I’m not sure how strict they are with all of these rules given the amount of footage I’ve seen which breaches these but do not screw around with this one. No flying of drones within 5 kilometres of an aerodrome or airport.

Generally speaking, a bit of cop on is important when flying a drone.

So that’s that. I’m buying a drone. The value is finally just right and I’d imagine there’s many other people thinking the same. At this price, the DJI Mavic Mini is a genuine Christmas gift idea for those who stretch the budget a little further than most. Starting at €399, DJI has just made drones go mainstream. The next time you hear me talking about drones, I’ll be an owner.

Watch this space.

 

 

 

iPhone 5 owners need to update their devices to avoid losing internet access.

Owners of the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPad 2, iPad with Retina Display and the fourth generation iPad need to update their device to the latest software. This comes off the back of an issue that only occurs every 19 yers with the GPS. If owners of these devices fail to update them, theirs losing access to internet, GPS, iCloud and basically anything that involves going online.

“Affected Apple devices are not impacted until just before 12:00 a.m. UTC on November 3, 2019.”

In a media release, Apple stated the following: “Starting just before 12:00 a.m. UTC on November 3, 2019, iPhone 5 will require an iOS update to maintain accurate GPS location and to continue to use functions that rely on correct date and time including App Store, iCloud, email, and web browsing.”

“This is due to the GPS time rollover issue that began affecting GPS-enabled products from other manufacturers on April 6, 2019.”

“Affected Apple devices are not impacted until just before 12:00 a.m. UTC on November 3, 2019.”

Owners of these devices may have already received pop up warnings. These software updates may have gone ignored, as a lot of them tend too. Apple already advised owners of older devices to update their setting back in July.

This is important as a lot of people aren’t as keen to update their phone every couple of years, especially the older generation.

This is caused by an issue with the GPS, resulting in devices losing track of time. Although it only occurs every 19 years, if you don’t update your device, it’ll essentially be a Nokia 3310. The date resets to zero every 1,024 weeks, or 19.7 years due to how weeks are recorded in GPS systems,

This is important as a lot of people aren’t as keen to update their phone every couple of years. They may still be using an iPhone 5 or older as it does all they need, so it’s important to check in with them and ensure they’re still contactable.

If you do miss the date, not all hope is lost. You can still connect your device to a computer and click Settings>General>Software Update.

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