In Need of Some Balance My Life 22 MAY 2015

The nice thing about living in Gordon’s Bay is that when you need to take a bit of a break and get some fresh air… well then this is pretty much on your doorstep:

a walk along gordon's bay main beach in May 1

I needed that little lunch time stroll along Gordon’s Bay’s main beach mind you – the last three weeks or so have been completely unbalanced in terms of work and life in general.

I’ve pretty much worked each and every evening for the past three weeks, the first week trying to wrap up everything required from my system for the then upcoming African Construction Week shows, followed by work from my hotel room in Sandton in support for the actual duration of the expos, and then this week working in the evenings to make up for time lost while babysitting a sick Emily at home.

And the days haven’t been much better.

That first week it was foot on the coding pedal (which as I just mentioned, continued well into the evenings), the second week was spent flying up to Johannesburg (on my birthday!) to work at the convention center as an IT support, badge printing, customer service guy behind the badge pickup counter (followed by evening coding work to tweak the system to better work the next day), and now this week much of the daylight has been spent helping look after a sick Emily (Rotavirus, no fun) who obviously couldn’t be sent to playschool.

The weekends in between have of course been a mixed bag, the first being a splendid birthday weekend away for Chantelle and myself in Franschhoek (with the kids staying over at Oupa and Ouma – where naturally, Emily decided to start officially walking whilst we weren’t looking!), while the next was spent looking after Jessica and shuttling to and from the hospital to visit Chantelle and Emily during Emily’s stay there.

a walk along gordon's bay main beach in May 3

So needless to say, my life is more than just a little out of balance at the moment. My eating is not great, my getting fresh air and doing some exercise non existent, and I’ve been working far too long hours and spending less time with my wife and kids than what I should be doing.

So yeah, you could say I’m kind of feeling the need for a little balance and sunlight right about now.

Luckily all the urgent work things appear to be handled for now, Emily and Jessica are both healthy (for now), and I have a private flight over Strand/Gordon’s Bay (weather permitting) to look forward (make that VERY forward) to tomorrow.

So maybe, just maybe, next week is going to be the start of life at a little slower pace…

Comic Book Art: Wolverines: Mystique by Juan Doe Comic Book Art 21 MAY 2015

“Wolverine may be dead… but what will happen to his mortal remains, encased in something as rare and powerful as Adamantium? The battle for control of this valuable artifact has begun! But why does it matter so much… and why is a war brewing in Logan’s name? Death is on the books for a dozen heroes and villains, and Mystique is playing chess with them all, including X-23, Sabretooth, Daken, Lady Deathstrike and more! Murder, mutilation, betrayal and trauma… none will be spared!

Mystique’s endgame is now in final swing – everything is exactly how she planned in this penultimate issue!”

2015’s Wolverines series reaches its issue 19 mark (released May 2015), and features the writing talents of Charles Soule. Interior artist for this issue is the talented Ariela Kristantina, and the particularly eye-catching cover art is courtesy of Juan Doe – which really does sound like a bit of a pseudonym, doesn’t it?

wolverine issue 19 (2015) cover art by Juan Doe feauring mystique

Related Link: http://marvel.com/comics/issue/52933/wolverines_2015_19

Figurine: Satsuki Kiryuin (Senketsu) from Kill la Kill by Good Smile Company Toys 20 MAY 2015

Hobby products manufacture Good Smile Company turned to the final scenes of hit anime Kill la Kill to come up with this particularly angry looking figurine – antagonist Satsuki Kiryuin, armed and ready for bloody action, wearing Senketsu – the Kamui (Godrobe) sentient sailor uniform made up of Life Fibers.

satsuki kiryuin figurine senketsu version by good smile company 1

The figure is based on the garage kit created and sold by Iwanaga Sakurako from Shokubutu Shojo-en, with this PVC figure version having been sculpted and painted to be as close to the original kit as possible.

satsuki kiryuin figurine senketsu version by good smile company 2

Kill la Kill is an anime television series produced by Trigger. It follows vagrant schoolgirl Ryuko Matoi on her search for her father’s killer, which brings her into violent conflict with Satsuki Kiryuin, the iron-fisted student council president of Honnouji Academy, and her mother’s fashion empire.

satsuki kiryuin figurine senketsu version by good smile company 3

Satsuki Kiryuin is the 18-year-old ruthless student council president of Honnouji Academy. She administers Goku Uniforms to students using various hierarchical schemes such as a no-late day and battle royale-esque tournaments such as the Naturals Election. She wields a katana named Bakuzan which can sever Life Fibers and dons the Kamui named Junketsu. She serves as a major antagonist to Ryuko for most of the series. After having learned the true nature of the Life Fibers at an early age, she uses the Honnouji Academy Cultural & Sports Grand Festival to begin her rebellion against her mother and the Life Fibers.

satsuki kiryuin figurine senketsu version by good smile company 4

satsuki kiryuin figurine senketsu version by good smile company 5

satsuki kiryuin figurine senketsu version by good smile company 6

Related Link: Kill la Kill | Characters | Good Smile Company

The Lotter Clan and Gran’s 80th Birthday My Life 19 MAY 2015

Back in April this year, much of the Lotter clan assembled at Mom and Dad’s house in Oakglen to celebrate Dad’s mom, Granny Lotter’s big 80th birthday. We were blessed that the weather was particularly great on the day, thus making for a perfect braai and relax outdoor afternoon (which everyone seemed to enjoy).

granny beatrice lotter at her 80th birthday celebration

Our immediate family clan is actually relatively small. Mom’s parents only had two kids, Mom and her brother Stephen, and Stephen, who has since passed on, never had any children so no cousins there. Dad’s parents had four boys, though one tragically passed away quite early on, leaving us with three Lotter men. From uncle Michael’s side we got Willie (and now his family) as a cousin, and from uncle Eric’s side, we got Andrew and David as cousins.

Sadly though, through some convoluted and ultimately bad decisions, no one sees Eric, Dawn, Andy and David any more (so scratch them from family get togethers), and funnily enough, we seldom see uncle Michael and pretty much never Willie either, meaning that for the most part, the immediate family pool remains pretty tiny!

Nevertheless, as I was saying earlier, Gran’s big 80th birthday (the celebration of which took a bit of convincing from Dad’s side to happen) saw quite a good chunk of this little family pitch up at Mom’s door – Claire, Riley and their two boys, Wille, his wife and two kids, Uncle Mike and his wife, Mom and Dad, Ryan, birthday girl Gran, and of course us four Gordon’s Bay Lotters.

A nice little tally indeed!

Needless to say, there was a lot of catching up to be done and conversation to be had, and with good food and dessert flowing freely, and kids all seemingly happily playing along, it turned out to be quite a good little family get together.

the lotter clan celebrating granny lotter's 80th birthday

Of course, we couldn’t keep all the little faces rounded up all day (or Claire and Riley’s dogs either for that matter), which inevitably meant a hop across the street at some point in the afternoon – over to the big municipal park that had entertained us for so, so many hours as kids growing up there.

Naturally, Emily was more than just a little thrilled to tackle climbing up this massive slide! (And as you can see, Grandpa seemed to quite enjoy the challenge as well…)

baby emily lotter tackling the big slide in oakglen's park

Next up in terms of big birthday milestones?

Well both mom and dad are inching pretty close to that big 6 and 0 number nowadays… :)

IMG_20150301_150756 cheryl and ronnie lotter in kirstenbosch

Oupa and Jessica planted Beans! Jessica 18 MAY 2015

I forgot to mention that a fair couple of weeks ago, Jessica was in for a right treat when Monty prepared a bed of soil for her and tasked her with planting her very own green bean garden patch.

Of course, the actual planting was quite stressful for oupa Monty as he continuously reminded Jessica not to push the seeds down too deep, not to cover them with so much soil, not to press on them so much, not to give them so much water, etc.

jessica lotter planting her bean seeds with oupa in the garden

Nevertheless, each and every little bean was planted, patted and watered, and two weeks later I brought the girls back so that Jessica could inspect her gardening project.

Thankfully, the beans had all sprouted and were standing quite proud and tall – exactly what a little blonde princess might have been expecting!

jessica lotter proudly standing next to her bean garden

grandpa monty montgomery standing with jessica lotter next to her bean garden

Emily on the other hand couldn’t be bothered with the whole bean planting exercise. She was more than happy to continue being swung in Monty’s fun makeshift milk crate swing!

emily lotter swinging in a makeshift crate swing

So with beans now mastered, I wonder what gardening project is up next from Oupa and Ouma Montgomery? ;)

granny cheryl mongomery and grandpa monty montgomery sitting next to jessica lotter at stodels in bellville

Figurine: Noire / Black Heart from Hyperdimension Neptunia by Alter Toys 17 MAY 2015

Japanese figurine maker Alter is releasing this particularly aggressive (but in a cute way), 1/7 scale, anime styled version of Hyperdimension Neptunia’s Noire, aka Black Heart, figure late October 2015.

japanese figurine by alter - Hyperdimension Neptunia Noire Black Heart Figure 1

With her look faithfully replicated from both the anime and game, Noire comes in her standard HDD bodysuit processor unit with her signature large sword plus accessories and wings.

japanese figurine by alter - Hyperdimension Neptunia Noire Black Heart Figure 2

Hyperdimension Neptunia is a video game series of role-playing games created and developed by Idea Factory. The series debuted in Japan on August 19, 2010 with the video game of the same name exclusively for the PlayStation 3, later re-released as an enhanced remake under the name Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 for the PlayStation Vita. Two sequels, Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 and Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, in addition to the remake titles for both of them and three spin-offs on the PlayStation Vita, have also been released. Another sequel on the PlayStation 4, titled Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory II, was released in 2015. It has also branched off into a manga, light novel and anime media franchise.

A television anime series adaptation, titled Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation, began airing in July 2013.

japanese figurine by alter - Hyperdimension Neptunia Noire Black Heart Figure 3

Games within the series takes place in the world of Gamindustri, which is divided into four regions: Planeptune, Lastation, Lowee, and Leanbox. Each region is completely different from the others in appearance and atmosphere, with each representing a specific video game console. In the beginning of the story, the four goddesses are fighting each another for “shares” in a war known as the Console War.

Noire, aka Black Heart, is the goddess of Lastation (representing the PlayStation 3), who has a very individual personality and likes to perform things by herself in her own time, yet is quite forgiving and fair. She initially has a strained relationship with Neptune, who acts as her rival.

japanese figurine by alter - Hyperdimension Neptunia Noire Black Heart Figure 4

Related Link: Wikipedia | Characters | Alter

Things to See in China: Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge World Wonders 16 MAY 2015

Completed in 1912, the Chengyang Bridge in Sanjiang County, Liuzhou (in the People’s Republic of China) near the village of Maan is perhaps the most impressive of the so-called “wind and rain” bridges created by a Chinese ethnic group known as the Dong. Constructed without the use of even a solitary nail, it is instead held together by dovetailed wood, or wood that is interlocked through V-shaped projections at the ends of the boards.

China Sanjiang Province Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge built by the Dong people 1

In a region with many rivers and swamps, this 64.4 metres (211 ft) protected bridge makes it possible for people to cross on a daily basis.

China Sanjiang Province Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge built by the Dong people 2

The bridge is a combination of bridge, corridor, veranda and Chinese pavilion. It has two platforms (one at each end of the bridge), 3 piers, 3 spans, 5 pavilions, 19 verandas, and three floors. The piers are made of stone, the upper structures are mainly wooden, and the roof is covered with tiles. The bridge has wooden handrails on both sides.

The bridge has a total length of 64.4 metres (211 ft), and its corridor has a width of 3.4 metres (11 ft). The net height above the river is about 10 metres (33 ft).

China Sanjiang Province Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge built by the Dong people 3

As mentioned, the bridge is located in Chengyang, and serves as the link between two populous villages. As a result, there is substantial daily traffic on the bridge.

Guo Moruo, a famous Chinese author, loved the bridge at first sight and wrote a poem for it.

China Sanjiang Province Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge built by the Dong people 5

China Sanjiang Province Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge built by the Dong people 4

China Sanjiang Province Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge built by the Dong people 6

China Sanjiang Province Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge built by the Dong people 7

China Sanjiang Province Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge built by the Dong people 8

Related Link: Wikipedia

Things to See in Netherlands: Rozenburg Wind Wall World Wonders 15 MAY 2015

Rozenburg is a town and former municipality in the western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland. The municipality had a population of 13,173 in 2004, and covers an area of 6.50 km² (of which 1.99 km² water). It was the second-smallest municipality in the Netherlands in area (behind Bennebroek), but in 2008 the local council decided to disband the municipality and to form a submunicipality of Rotterdam.

netherlands rozenburg wind wall protecting the canal from wind 4

The town is located on the former island by the same name: Rozenburg Island. Its current form was created out of three separate parts: Rozenburg proper (a former sand bar between Het Scheur and Brielse Maas – part of the Nieuwe Maas river – both branches of the Rhine-Meuse delta), the sand bar Welplaat, and the southernmost part of the Hook of Holland (which was cut off from mainland Holland by the construction of the Nieuwe Waterweg ship canal in 1870 and subsequently was connected to Rozenburg when the remainder of Het Scheur was dammed off). The island is now connected to Voorne-Putten by a sea barrier and a dam.

(In other words, as with much of the Netherlands, the Dutch pretty much shaped this part of the world into exactly what they needed.)

After the second World War, the port of Rozenburg grew almost explosively along the Nieuwe Maas river towards the sea. To handle the burgeoning sea traffic, a canal was built in the late 1960s running parallel to the already present Nieuwe Waterweg canal.

netherlands rozenburg wind wall protecting the canal from wind 6

The Caland canal – named after a Dutch civil engineer who was responsible for building of the Nieuwe Waterweg – served as an access for deep draft vessels, in particular bulk carriers and tankers of increasing dimensions that called at the Europoort docks. The narrow waterway, however, became increasingly difficult to navigate in strong winds, particularly around the Calandbrug bridge, as the ships became larger.

In the mid-1980s architect Martin Strujis and artist Frans de Wit were called upon for the task of creating an effective yet aesthetically pleasing wind barrier. The Rozenburg Windwall was the result of their effort.

netherlands rozenburg wind wall protecting the canal from wind 1

The 1,600 meter long “wind wall”, which could be mistaken for a modern art installation is made of 125 individual concrete slabs shaped and grounded in a particular pattern, along a length of 1.75 km that reduces the wind onslaught by 75%. In the southern part of the Canal, the slabs are shaped in the form of semi-circles – 18 meters wide and 25 meters tall.

netherlands rozenburg wind wall protecting the canal from wind 2

As one progresses towards the Bridge of Calandbrug however, the semi-circle circumference of the wind wall is substantially reduced and each wall is also spaced more closely to each other. Around the bridge, the walls are only 4 meters wide. At its Northern end, the semi-circular slabs are replaced with square slabs 10 meters wide, which placed on top of a 15 meter embankment, attain the same 25m height as the other sections.

The barrier continues in this form until it ends in a stand of trees near a gas storage facility.

netherlands rozenburg wind wall protecting the canal from wind 3

netherlands rozenburg wind wall protecting the canal from wind 5

Related Link: Wikipedia | Atlas Obscura | Amusing Planet

Music: Woodstock Mafia – Trigger and Gun (2013) Music 14 MAY 2015

Grunge rockers from Cape Town, Woodstock Mafia consists of Joe Theron on vocals, Nick van Rensburg on guitar, Ryan Matthews on bass, and Owen Ingarfield on drums. They formed as a band in 2011 and rocked out Cape Town for four solid years before deciding to call it a day and leave it all behind, playing their last live gig on the 2nd April 2015 at The Manila Bar in Long Street, Cape Town.

woodstock mafia trigger and gun music video

If you never encountered them before, then you most certainly missed out, because this was as polished a band as what you could find, the proper complete package in terms of sound and lyrics. Their live shows always got great reviews, noted in particular for their great energy on stage.

They also managed to release a fantastic album entitled Defiance in 2013, definitely worth a listen to on rdio.com if you get a chance.

Anyway, the second of their two full production music videos that they ever released is this one, Trigger and Gun, which sees the boys battle one another on a stage of black and white!

Oh, and as a parting gift, the guys released a special EP entitled 86, free for download and listening to, mixed particularly to try and capture the feel from their live show performances. Enjoy!

Related Link: Woodstock Mafia | Youtube | SoundCloud

Military Aircraft: South African Atlas Impala (Macchi MB-326) Military Aircraft 13 MAY 2015

My introduction to the Impala as a boy growing up in the 80’s was of course through promotional images of the Silver Falcons proudly flying these distinctive jet airplanes throughout the country. In other words, it is about time I featured the Impala on this site then!

south african airforce SAAF Atlas Impala Mk II

Introduced in 1962, the Aermacchi or Macchi MB-326 is a light military jet aircraft designed in Italy. Originally conceived as a two-seat trainer, there have also been single and two-seat light attack versions produced. It is one of the most commercially successful aircraft of its type, being bought by more than 10 countries and produced under licence in Australia, Brazil and South Africa. It set many category records, including an altitude record of 56,807 ft (17,315 m) on 18 March 1966. More than 600 were built.

Macchi MB-326 atlas impala jet fighter plane 2

South Africa obtained a license to produce the MB-326M (similar to the ‘G’ model), as the Impala Mk I in 1964 with production starting in 1966. It received 40 Italian-built aircraft followed by about 125 built locally by the Atlas Aircraft Corporation, using them both as trainers and in an armed configuration. Seven examples of the MB-326K were also bought as light attack aircraft, with a further 15 assembled from kits, while around 78 were license-produced and known as the Impala Mk II. Licence production of the single seat version began in 1974. The Impala Mk II, locally manufactured and equipped with French armament, was also advanced with a South African ECM suite.

Macchi MB-326 atlas impala jet fighter plane 3

The South African Defence Force employed Impalas during campaigns against the Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA) and Cuban expeditionary troops in Angola between 1975 and 1989. Impala pilots typically flew at 550–650 km/h at a height of 15 m to avoid Angolan air defences. Over the course of the South African Border War, one was downed by an SA-7; another returned with an unexploded missile in its exhaust.

Macchi MB-326 atlas impala jet fighter plane 4

The aircraft had many advantages over expensive supersonic jets. Although slower, it could operate take off from relatively primitive airfields and strike swiftly. The South African Air Force (SAAF) used up to 6 x 120 kg or 4 x 250 kg bombs. The main armament consisted of 68 mm SNEB rocket-launchers (four x 6 or two x 18), and two 30 mm autocannon (with 300 rounds). These cannons were the real bonus for the Impala Mk II, helping to give a superior performance compared to earlier two-seat versions. The latter could also carry a pair of 30 mm DEFA guns in under-wing pods. However, dual capability as trainer-attackers was better appreciated, as was the availability of six hard points and so dual-seat versions were far more common. Six squadrons were equipped with the Impala Mk II in the SAAF during the 1970s and 1980s. Prior to Operation Moduler, most Impalas were withdrawn from their operating bases in South-West Africa, leaving the work to Mirage IIIs and Blackburn Buccaneers.

Macchi MB-326 atlas impala jet fighter plane 5

Impala Mk IIs were also opportunistically used as interceptors. In several encounters in 1985 with Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters, they shot down a total of six. This happened during a crucial phase of the ground war, when Angolan and Cuban troops were checked in an offensive against UNITA bases. This ended in disaster for the Angolan/Cuban alliance when their supplies were cut off by UNITA and the SAAF and front line troops ran out of ammunition. Helicopters were being used to supply the besieged troops and the SAAF cut off this link. Two Mi-24s were shot down in the first encounter while escorting Mi-17s. The MiG-21s that escorted them flew too high to react in time. Two days later the Impala Mk IIs struck again, downing two Mi-24s and two Mi-17s. Attacks on unsuspecting helicopters were carried out with only two guns per aircraft. The single seat Impala Mk IIs were also sometimes armed with Matra R550 Magic air-to-air missiles for self-defense. The Impala Mk II operated at extreme ranges and had to fly very low, climbing only when helicopters were seen at medium altitude. After each attack they returned to low level to avoid interception by enemy MiGs.

And as I started this whole passage off, the Silver Falcons, the SAAF aerobatic team, were of course equipped with Impala Mk Is for a long period of time as well.

Macchi MB-326 atlas impala jet fighter plane 6 silver falcons aerobatic team impala

Related Link: Wikipedia | SAAF

Music: Springbok Nude Girls – Illuminate (2007) Music 12 MAY 2015

If you were a South African rock-leaning teenager growing up in the nineties, then undoubtedly you were madly enthralled with the Springbok Nude Girls – there was literally no way you didn’t lose your shit when the opening cords of Bubblegum On My Boots started playing!

springbok nude girls band

Everything about the band worked, and powered by Arno Carsten’s amazing voice and the clever trumpet from Adriaan Brand, the band was unstoppable, piling on alternative rock hit after hit.

Needless to say, I was a massive fan, and in a way, still am. Saddened by the rock kings from Stellenbosch’s breakup in 2001, their sudden 2006 reunion was a godsend – particularly because the more mature souding 2007 album Peace Breaker was such a refreshing hit!

Illuminate was without a doubt one of the power hits on this particular outing, and so if you haven’t heard it before then you are most certainly in for a treat!

Related Link: Wikipedia | Springbok Nude Girls | YouTube

How Fiber Optic Cables Work Science & Technology 11 MAY 2015

Have you ever wondered just how fiber optic cables actually work? Well sure it probably has something to do with light seeing as the word optic appears in the name, but exactly what role does it play?

Optic fiber cable

Well, if you are curious about this technology then you happen to be in luck – engineering professor Bill Hammack, a well known science and technology documentarian and face of his engineerguy.com project, has put together a very informative video that highlights the principles in play, and brings everything down to a level at which most of us can understand.

So let us allow Bill to get on with it then…

Undoubtedly a remarkable feat of engineering and definitely something that has made it possible to properly make the world an even smaller place!

Related Link: Wikipedia | Youtube

Things to See in South Africa: Stony Point Penguin Colony in Betty’s Bay (2015-05-03) Photo Gallery | World Wonders 10 MAY 2015

The African penguin is a species of penguin, confined to southern African waters. It is also widely known as the “jackass” penguin for its donkey-like bray, although several related species of South American penguins produce the same sound.

There are three known mainland breeding colonies in southern Africa, one in Namibia and two in South Africa – both of which are located in the Western Cape. The one is of course found at the famous Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town (or Simonstown as some like to call it), while the second is the lesser known Stony Point colony in Betty’s Bay.

IMG_20150503_124901 african penguin at the stony point penguin colony in betty's bay south africa

Betty’s Bay (named after Betty Youlden, daughter of the first developer of the area), if you aren’t familiar with it, is a small holiday town situated on the Overberg coast, located 96 km from Cape Town and nestled beneath the rugged Kogelberg Mountains. It can be reached via the scenic R44 (Clarence Drive) ocean drive between Pringle Bay and Kleinmond and is one of the longest villages in South Africa, measuring in at over 13 km. (Seriously, drive through it and see for yourself!)

Betty’s Bay played host to a large whaling operation during the early 1900s, with a whaling station being built in 1915 and which in its heyday was said to be slaughtering around 300 whales per year for their oil. The whaling station closed in 1930, and some years later a breeding pair of penguins (possibly from nearby Dyer Island) arrived and set up shop in the long since abandoned whaling station site.

And thus the Stony Point penguin colony was born!

IMG_20150503_123132 whaling station remains at stony point in betty's bay

The colony grew, and was initially unfenced and unmanaged, allowing visitors to view the penguins in close proximity. However, this changed in the late 1980s due to an incident where a leopard attacked the nests and killed over 60 of the penguins, and combined with other factors like dog attacks and frequent egg thefts, the area was declared a protected zone and moves were made to ensure its viability.

Today it is a particularly well managed site controlled by CapeNature and is without a doubt one of their cutest attractions!

(And at only R10 entrance fee to see threatened penguins, endangered Whitebreasted and Cape Cormorants and the vulnerable Bank Cormorant, probably their cheapest as well!)

IMG_20150503_123850 jessica, emily and chantelle lotter pose at stony point penguin colony in betty's bay

We probably make the trip through to the Stony Point penguin colony at least once a year, and in fact, this little expedition undertaken on the 3rd of May 2015 was Emily’s second time here – though this time she was actually old enough to take in and enjoy all the sights and sounds!

No wind, a perfect sunny Autumns day, we were in for a real treat in terms of watching penguins cuddle, swim, eat and frolic around. In fact, we were so lucky on the day that Chantelle and I even spotted two large (probably whales) racing away from the area just as we arrived!

Needless to say, cellphone camera in hand, lots of pictures were the order of the day!

Related Link: CapeNature | Wikipedia

African Blogger Awards 2015 Winner: Dad and the Code Blogging 09 MAY 2015

I’m not particularly active on Twitter to be quite honest – the appeal of the whole thing doesn’t quite make sense to me, but nevertheless, I have an account and as such I do receive e-mail notices whenever someone directs a tweet my way – which is exactly what happened on the 5th of May when I spotted this glorious tweet in my inbox:

african blogger awards 2015 winner announcement tweet

That’s right, my little corner on the web just got recognised as the winner of the Personal blog category of this year’s edition of the African Blogger Awards (2015. The second year that this competition has ran).

Yay me!

Of course, as always, this doesn’t really mean all that much when you consider that they had a fairly low number of entrants overall (just over a 1 000, about double last year’s total), but what is pretty cool is that I won the award in this particular category based entirely on measured metrics – in other words, this was no “popular kid” vote system here in play here, oh no, this was cold hard click counts.

(Which then automatically makes it a lot better and massively more fair than what has since gone on to become a bit of a blogger joke these days, i.e. the SA Blogger Awards.)

Webfluential is an advertising platform which allows marketing teams to place adverts across Blog, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram networks, and is quite obviously positioned hard the real benefactor to these awards, what with all the exposure that it is getting (it was the official analytics collector, with the added bonus of getting a whole slew of new content producers onboard seeing as they needed to sign up in order to take part).

Not that I actually mind, mind you – Webfluential is actually already a pretty slick platform (I was on it before I had even heard of these awards), and again, I kind of like this thing that runs on metrics and algorithms!

Anyway, taken from the Awards about page (if you’re still not following as to what exactly is going on):

“The African Blogger Awards aims to acknowledge the top African talent in the world of Bloggers, YouTubers, Facebookers, Tweeters, and Instagrammers. These awards provide an opportunity to the most successful online influencers in Africa to be recognised for their hard work in growing and keeping their communities active and engaged.

Our aim is to broaden the industry for bloggers in Africa and allow brands to see the value in blogging as a marketing platform.”

(For interest’s sake, the African Blogger Awards appear to have been the creation of the viral social media gurus behind both the Retroviral media agency and Webfluential, Murray Legg and Mike Sharman.)

…Okay, wait. This is all getting a bit convoluted and silly now.

All I initially wanted to achieve with this post was to recognise the fact that I DID in fact win a blogging award because my stats aren’t particularly half bad for a personal blog run by a singular person, with a post pushed out every now and then instead of in constant flood mode! (i.e. it isn’t a corporate construct or anything like that.)

That makes me smile a little.

african blogger awards 2015 personal category winner - dad and the code by craig lotter

(Now I wonder if I should be expecting a little something arriving for me through the post…)

Related Link: African Blogger Awards

Green Screens of Old and Green Screens on the Cheap Science & Technology 08 MAY 2015

If you aren’t aware as to what Green Screen or Chroma key compositing is (which is great if you don’t, because of course, this technique is meant to be seamless), our old friend Wikipedia gives quite a good rundown:

“Chroma key compositing, or chroma keying, is a special effects / post-production technique for compositing (layering) two images or video streams together based on color hues (chroma range). The technique has been used heavily in many fields to remove a background from the subject of a photo or video – particularly the newscasting, motion picture and videogame industries. A color range in the top layer is made transparent, revealing another image behind. The chroma keying technique is commonly used in video production and post-production. This technique is also referred to as color keying, colour-separation overlay, or by various terms for specific color-related variants such as green screen, and blue screen.

Chroma keying can be done with backgrounds of any color that are uniform and distinct, but green and blue backgrounds are more commonly used because they differ most distinctly in hue from most human skin colors. No part of the subject being filmed or photographed may duplicate a color used in the background.”

These days computers and algorithms are the kings of this trick, but of course, this is something that has been done in film long before computers ever became mainstream. British presenter and tech personality Tom Scott produced this well oiled little video explaining some of the technique that those video pioneers relied on in the past to get the Green Screen job done:

Given the advanced state of the technology and multitude of commercially available computer software such as Autodesk Smoke, Final Cut Pro, Pinnacle Studio, Adobe After Effects, these days it is quite possible and in fact relatively easy for the average home computer user to create green screen videos – simply by using the “chromakey” function in conjunction with affordable green screen or blue screen kits.

In fact, as Australian comedian Sam Tucker (of Samtime News) goes on to show, you can do your own green screen pretty easily on the cheap:

Cheap but effective! (In other words, if you are a Youtuber, what are you waiting for!)

woman in high heels and a bikini armed with machine guns in front of a green screen with a fan

Related Link: Tom Scott || Samtime News || Wikipedia