May/June 2021 Popular Mechanics (South Africa)

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Popular Mechanics (South Africa)

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MAY / JUNE 2021 RSA: R42.90 Other countries: R37.30 excl VAT

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CONTENTS

23 04 08

10 12 14

COVER: ILLUSTRATION BY PEDRO OYARBIDE; THIS PAGE: DISTRACTIONWARE, FANTASY FLIGHT GAMES, GAMEWRIGHT, LIBELLUD, MICROSOFT, SONY, STONEMAIER GAMES

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From the editor: Skills development. Readers’ letters: Take a moment to write to us, and include pics. (You’ll probably win a great prize.)

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Calendar: Historic events in May and June. Time machine: Quirky stories from the PM archives. HYWW: A confounding maths riddle; Why our body temps keep falling; Lockerdoor brain-teaser. Book review: Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman.

When you’re stuck at home (such as during a national lockdown because of a pandemic), what better way is there to pass the time than with a fun game? From board games and consoles to toys for adults or children, our feature on page 23 tells you all about our favourites from the past year, and why you should play them too.

popularmechanics.co.za

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PM game and toy awards: After days (and days) of testing during lockdown, we found the best tabletop and video games for everyone.

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Drinks: Can our taste buds tell if we’re drinking AI-generated whisky?

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Provisions: How to make tasty protein-bar snacks to see you through the day.

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Create a legacy: Make a self-sustaining garden for future generations.

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Cybercrime is on the rise: In a rapidly changing world, illegal internet activity is thriving.

Tools: Three types of lawnmower drivetrains, explained.

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Gear guide for budding podcasters: All the equipment you need to have your voice heard.

Woodworking: Use hand tools to make a marking gauge. (Project three of four.)

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DIY with Kreg: Easy steps to building a bathroom shelf.

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Be good at what you do: Molten sweet-moulding skills.

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PM Garage: Read the editor’s summary on Land Rover’s brand-new Defender.

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Riding: We hit the long road on BMW’s new S 1000 XR.

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Do it your way: Submit your tips and you could win.

The secrets of the world’s greatest magic tricks: He builds illusions that baffle and dazzle audiences. We went behind the curtain to learn how he does it.

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Gear and gadgets: Kit and devices that make us happy.

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This changed everything: The ingenious vision of the first handheld GPS device.

MAY / JUNE 2021

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FROM THE E DITOR

SKILLS DEVELOPMENT this past weekend I achieved a lot. I carried out a service on Bubba, my 17-year-old Nissan Hardbody. He’s no longer under a service plan, so I like to do this type of work myself. (Usually with my dad’s oversight – if you’ve been reading Pop Mech for a while, you’ll know he’s a retired engineer, and I lean on him a lot for his wealth of technical knowledge.) I did all the usual stuff – drained and replaced the oil, changed the filters, assessed all the fluid levels, and completed a range of other checks. I also scanned the bodywork for corrosion, which is when I discovered one of the roll bars required some urgent rust-removal work – just the scenario I needed… I’ll explain why. I recently decided to learn two new skills – how to weld, and how to sew with a sewing machine. While very different to each other, they’re both equally useful in life. (Especially if a digital apocalypse were to strike.) Finding rust on my bakkie’s roll bar presented the ideal situation for my first lesson in the basics of welding, in a one-on-one lesson with my dad. Let’s just say that I have a long way to go, but I’ve now gained a little experience in metal arc welding, while attaching a few curved pieces of steel to the base of Bubba’s roll bar. Welding’s challenging – kudos to the experts out there – gaining consistency, accuracy and flow in how the electrode melts is going to take hours of practise, but I’m determined to improve. Fortunately I’m not too precious about how

the roll bar looks; all I care about is that the rust’s been removed, and that it’s stronger than ever. Next it was my mom’s turn as my skills adviser. Several weeks ago, I attacked an old pair of jeans with scissors, to fashion tough work shorts for hot-weather DIY. The fraying hems were becoming a problem, so after the bakkie work was completed, I settled in at my mom’s sewing machine for an introductory lesson. With her at my shoulder sharing hints and tips, I added a simple zigzag thread pattern to the shorts’ hemline. My work certainly won’t win any awards, but I got a feel for the machine’s pedal and needle action (without puncturing myself), and the fraying is solved, for now. I’m motivated to dedicating the rest of 2021 to learning new and functional skills, and to broadening my knowledge about how to fix things that we usually pay others to repair. I’d love to hear some of your suggestions – drop me an email at [email protected] ramsaymedia.co.za.

MARK SAMUEL Editor

ILLUSTRATION: TAURIQ LOOFER



’M FEELING QUITE accomplished –

(Follow the editor on Instagram: @marksamuel.za)

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CONSERVING ENERGY DOESN’T TAKE MUCH ENERGY

TWST2

TMDT2

TWSTM2

TEMS100

TWSPM

Scan To Download The App

Email: [email protected] Website: www.HellermannTyton.co.za

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Editor Mark Samuel Chief Copy Editor Roshaan Bouwer Deputy Chief Copy Editor Nicole van der Scholtz Senior Copy Editor Shaneen Noble Creative: Art Director Tauriq Loofer Junior Designer Tyrone Michaels RSA Contributors Tiana Cline, Peter Frost, Tobias Lochner, Clare Matthes Digital: Digital Group Web Developer Cicero Joseph Webmaster Lizelle Leonard Ad Sales: Sales Director Ryan Nicolle ([email protected]) Advertising Sales Jean De Ridder, Callie Romburgh Buyers’ Guide Joanne Thompson Debtors Manager Gasant Brenner Production: Production Manager Rushaan Holiday Deputy Production Manager Maggie Wasserfall Ad Design Manager Brümilda Fredericks Published by Ramsay Media (PTY) Ltd Company registration number 1934/ 005460/07 ISSN 1682-5136. Ramsay Media is owned by Highbury Media and CTP Ltd. Highbury Media holds the controlling interest in Ramsay Media. Ramsay Media is managed by Highbury Media’s Board of Directors. Highbury Media Directors: Chief Executive Officer Kevin Ferguson Managing Director Tony Walker Financial Director Lindsey Makrygiannis Production Director Bilqees Allie HR Director Rizqah Jakoet Legal Director Tracey Stewart Operations Director Rashied Rahbeeni Chief Technology Officer Adrian Brown CTP Ltd Directors: PM Jenkins, TD Moolman, TJW Holden Cape Town Head Office: 36 Old Mill Road, Ndabeni, Western Cape, South Africa, 7405 • PO Box 180, Howard Place, Western Cape, 7450 • 021 530 3300 Gauteng Office: Caxton House, 368 Jan Smuts Avenue, Randburg, 2196 • PO Box 78132, Sandton, Gauteng, 2146 • 011 449 1100 • [email protected] ramsaymedia.co.za, ramsaymedia.co.za

ILLUSTRATION: TAURIQ LOOFER

Published and distributed by Ramsay Media by permission of Hearst Communications Inc. New York, United States of America. We cannot be held responsible for loss of unsolicited queries, manuscripts or photos. For return, they must be accompanied by adequate postage. As a service to readers, POPULAR MECHANICS publishes newsworthy products, techniques and scientific and technological developments. Due to possible variance in the quality and condition of workmanship and materials, POPULAR MECHANICS cannot assume responsibility for proper application of techniques or proper and safe functioning of manufactured products or reader-built projects resulting from information published in this magazine. Prices listed in features were accurate at the time of going to print – contact suppliers directly for up-to-date pricing.

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MAY / JUNE 2021

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HARNESS THE SUN. FEEL THE POWER.

QUATIX® 6 SOLAR

LETTERS

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? WRITE TO US

[email protected]

WINNING LETTER

The balance of power As a woman who enjoys spending time in nature while trying to be conscious of my impact on the environment, I was delighted to come across the recent Pop Mech piece focusing on off-road electric vehicles. I’ve always been struck by the paradox of outdoor enthusiasts burning holes in their pockets (and the Earth) accessing the ‘great outdoors’ in enormous fuel-burning vehicles. This article highlights a welcome change, showcasing spectacular electric off-road vehicles expected to be launching in the global market soon, but there are a few points that I think make it tricky for this to be viably considered in the South African setting. Most of our electricity is generated in coal-burning power stations. Electric cars operating here, then, aren’t

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MAY / JUNE 2021

entirely squeaky clean, are they? We could get around this problem, with the ‘something is better than nothing’ argument, but a few more hurdles remain. At this stage, much of Southern Africa doesn’t have the infrastructure to support long-distance journeys with an EV. It’s tricky to imagine overland travel in a fully electric 4×4, without the availability of recharging stations along the way to support it. As a last point, the EVs described in the article are not exactly affordable. Prices that high seem exclusionary for

the average South African who’s trying to get the most bang for their buck. Just thought I’d send this in to add to the debate of offroad EVs. Looking forward to a time, hopefully soon, when we’ll see an affordable off-road EV on the market, with the infrastructure available to support sustainable change. L GOVENDER

These are all certainly valid points, and they occurred to me too when I first read that piece. I’ve done many an overland trip through our neighbouring countries, and there’s just no

way – certainly as things stand – that those types of journeys would be possible in an electric off-road vehicle. And as a short article in our previous issue mentioned, photovoltaic panels on cars simply do not fulfil the charging needs of the powerful batteries. But, technology has to start somewhere. Once upon a time we didn’t have the broad network of fuel stations spread across our continent. I bet that, someday in the not-too-distant future, the same will be the case for electric charging stations. Thanks for writing in. Your interesting letter has won you this issue’s prize! - Mark, Editor

popularmechanics.co.za

ESCAPING THE GRIDLOCK I read an article recently online about the true cost of going off-grid. I know, this topic seems to get discussed a lot in the Pop Mech letters pages, but I guess that’s because people, especially South Africans, are deeply interested in it. Like you mentioned in one of your recent editor’s letters, we too recently invested in a small battery backup system to keep our fibre internet working during load-shedding, and the TV and Netflix running for entertainment’s sake. It’s nothing too fancy, but the large deep-cycle battery, along with the inverter, seem to be doing the job just fine. Well, for our current needs, of course. The article I read discussed the cost of going entirely offgrid, should we as a country reach a stage where grid

electricity becomes extremely unreliable. I guess that implies it’s only moderately unreliable right now. People’s opinions on this might differ, I’m sure, depending on the ways in which the rolling blackouts affect them. The article seemed to discount the cheaper ‘subR10 000’ home solution, saying that it’s not viable in the long term. It went on to say, quoting an expert in the industry, that if you’re going the off-grid route, you should install a scaleable battery backup system and inverter in your house, at an initial cost of about R70 000. ‘Scaleable’ in a sense that you can add photovoltaic panels at a later stage (at a cost of about R45 000), and other components, if and when your budget allows.

I haven’t looked more deeply into the figures, so I can’t really comment, except to say that it all sounds really expensive. It’s clear to me that going this route would never be about ‘saving on electricity costs’ – paying those sorts of amounts will take decades to recoup. Going entirely off-grid is a lifestyle and convenience decision, creating a home bubble for yourself that makes you immune to the whims and woes of Eskom. All I can say is, for the time being, our simple little battery backup system is getting us through reasonably unscathed. We can work from home, no matter if the power’s out or not, and we simply have to plan our lives a little more carefully, if load-shedding is going to fall over meal-prep time. If you’re

in the same boat as us, perhaps a ‘sub-R10 000’ solution will see you through just fine too, at least for now. DEON BESTER

I think I read that same article, Deon, and similar thoughts occurred to me. I would love to take our home entirely off the national grid. In fact I think I’ve had dreams about not being at the mercy of Eskom’s loadshedding schedule. But, for now, it’s not financially viable. I also have concerns about theft of PV panels… None of the articles I’ve read have ever really touched on this. Surely these panels, mounted on our roofs for all the world to see, are highly vulnerable to theft? I’d be interested to know if anyone else has insight into this concern. – Mark, Editor

al d by vermonts

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Vermont Sales is Southern Africa’s leading tool and accessory wholesaler, and has been providing top-rate services for more than 35 years. Over nearly four decades, the company has grown tenfold, and now stocks the best international brands, and markets well over 20 000 products. The secret to Vermont Sales’ continuing success lies in its diverse product ranges and effective solutions provided to trades and other customers. Connect with Vermont Sales by visiting vermontsales. d a cha stan nc o co.za, calling 011 314 t e 7711, on Instagram (@vermontsales), WORX 2 i n f l or on Facebook ator/fla 0 V shlight (toolsupplier).

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The writer of the winning letter to be published in the July/August 2021 issue will win a WORX 20 V cordless two-inone inflator/flashlight valued at R5 000. The inflator/flashlight (the WX092.9) can fill up to four and a half car tyres on one charge, going from 0–2.5 bar in about four minutes – faster and more efficient than many other inflator brands on the market. You also don’t need to plug it into your vehicle’s DC port to operate it. It’s conveniently portable, making it ideal for use around the pool, dock, or even on a long bike ride. The LED has a 100–200 lumen output, providing a well-lit area for working on your car, going for a walk, or keeping the effects of load-shedding at bay. It’s also excellent as a backup emergency roadside beacon. It boasts a flexible 0.9 m nozzle, and comes with three standard adaptors. The Power Share battery platform is interchangeable with other cordless WORX tools.

Prize

PHOTOGRAPHY: RADOVAN VARICAK (HUMMER), RIVIAN, TESLA, COURTESY IMAGES. LETTERS ARE EDITED FOR CLARITY, SPELLING AND GRAMMAR

WRITE TO US, ENGAGE IN DEBATE, and you could win an exciting prize. The writer of this issue’s winning letter has won a WORX 20 V SwitchDriver sponsored by Vermont Sales (vermontsales.co.za), valued at R4 369.

Email us at [email protected] Please include high-resolution photos, wherever possible and relevant. Prizes can only be awarded to South African residents.

popularmechanics.co.za

MAY / JUNE 2021

9

C A L E N DA R

UPDATE YOUR DIARY • THIS DAY IN HISTORY MONDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

SATURDAY

FRIDAY

Worker’s Day

1

3

1892: German fighter pilot Baron von Richthofen, famously named the Red Baron, is born. He dies in 1918, age 25.

2

9

1994: Nelson Mandela becomes the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

10

17

1953: Pierce Brosnan, who is probably best known for playing James Bond, is born in County Meath in Ireland.

16

1935: Outlaws Bonnie and Clyde are killed in a police shoot-out.

1883: The Brooklyn Bridge – spanning the East River to Manhattan – is opened.

23

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31

1911: The first Indianapolis 500 motor race is run in Indianapolis, in the state of Indiana, USA.

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JUNE 2021

TUESDAY

6

1938: The Douglas DC-4E takes its first test flight.

7

14

2000: A historical first meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea takes place.

13

20

1871: The yen is adopted as the official monetary unit of Japan.

27 10

1965: South African golfer Gary Player wins the US Open, making him the fourth person to win all four major titles.

21

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2000: The Nature Conservancy buys Palmyra, a 275 ha atoll in the Pacific.

4

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1974: India successfully detonates its first nuclear weapon, becoming the sixth nation to do so.

18

25

1980: The Cable News Network, more commonly known as CNN, begins broadcasting for the first time.

1

8

1752: The date commonly accepted as the day Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning is electricity.

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1961: Transit 4A, the first satellite to use a nuclear power source, is launched.

29

5

1926: Explorers make the first verified flight over the North Pole.

12

19

1971: Matt Stone, creator of the TV series South Park, is born.

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2

1959: The USS George Washington, the first nuclearpowered ballistic missile submarine, is launched.

9

Youth Day

1990: Former South African president PW Botha resigns from the National Party.

6

13

1873: Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis receive a US patent for blue jeans with copper rivets.

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1962: Having overrun the runway, Air France Flight 007 explodes, after the crew attempts to abort take-off.

3

10 1885: The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor.

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1992: John Gotti, boss of the Gambino crime family, is sentenced to life imprisonment.

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1878: The last witchcraft trial to be held in the US begins in Salem, Massachusetts.

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1937: German automobile maker Volkswagen is founded.

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1910: Famous French ocean explorer and engineer Jacques Cousteau is born. He dies in June 1997, age 87.

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1876: Lieutenant colonel George Custer is killed in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

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1984: The USSR declares that it will not participate in the Olympic Games, to be held in Los Angeles.

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2011: A deadly tornado strikes Joplin, Missouri, USA.

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1967: The Six-Day War between Israel, Jordan, Syria and Egypt begins.

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1862: The US Congress prohibits slavery in the United States territories.

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popularmechanics.co.za

TEXT: MARK SAMUEL; PHOTOGRAPHY: MOTORPRESS, NASA, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY, NATIONAL NUMISMATIC COLLECTION, PEXELS, PIXABAY, PUBLIC DOMAIN, YAACOV AGOR

MAY 2021

SUNDAY

T I M E M AC H I N E It made per fec t sense at the time

1 2

t a craft tha . d e w o h s ace sue on this is ove the ocean surf e n io t a r t s ad ab illu Wing ing cover ’ in full flight, just onok, a Russian-m0 mph’, h c t a c e y 5 rly hip The e ne, part s ry discussed the O r the wavetops at 2 out the la p t r a ‘p b s o e a t v s wa panying s few feet o e story wa The accom esigned to skim ‘a But the crux of th ort. d . wingship oops and supplies r passenger transp r carrying t f this technology fo o viability

1 MAYsh1ip9s92

3

5

2 JUNE 1921 Weatherproofing Huge Suspension Bridge Tests Skill of Engineers and Craftsmen

Black-and-white photos depicted the components of bridges that need to be protected from the elements, to ensure structural integrity and safety. Detailed captions explained the immense challenges the workers encountered while weatherproofing these giant structures. 12

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3 MAY 1926 Wiring Your Home

Electrical circuits in your home can be confusing at the best of times, and dealing with them is a task usually best left to the professionals. But this fivepage story went into intricate detail about how to wire your home yourself, and included comprehensive diagrams depicting the various circuits and tasks required to get the task done.

4 JUNE 1957

5 MAY 1974

Push-button Bakery Turns Out 10 000 Loaves Per Hour

10 Ways to go Without the Gas

Who doesn’t love a freshly baked loaf of bread? Well, this article in the late ’50s investigated the Langendorf bread plant in Los Angeles, a $2 500 000 facility capable of baking up to 10 000 loaves an hour. An illustration showed the process, including how a ‘120-foot oven bakes the loaves at 400°F for 22 minutes’.

A refreshing story, especially for the times, that highlighted a variety of different activities that require little or no ‘gas’ (petrol) or driving in cars. Hiking, bicycling, horse riding, sailing and rafting were among them, and the writer also advocated trains and buses, which ‘require no waiting in lines for gas’. popularmechanics.co.za

TEXT: MARK SAMUEL; PHOTOGRAPHY: POPULAR MECHANICS ARCHIVES

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H O W YO U R W O R L D W O R K S

DEEP MATHEMATICS / BY ANDREW DANIELS /

N  

OTHING HALTS PRODUCTIVITY AMONG

We spent all day arguing about this triangle brain teaser. Can you solve it? 14

MAY / JUNE 2021

co-workers quite like a maddening brain teaser. The latest to ensnare the Popular Mechanics editors and readers: How many triangles are in this drawing? When I posed the problem to our team, responses ranged from four triangles all the way to 22. Most people saw 18. One wise guy counted the triangles in the A-letters in the question itself, while another seemed to have an existential crisis: ‘None of these lines are truly straight, just curves – thus you cannot define any of them as a triangle,’ he said. ‘There are no triangles in this photo. Life has no meaning.’ I could’ve listened to my colleagues’ questionable processes all day, but instead, I reached out to geometry experts to see if we could arrive at a consensus. All of the mathematicians I contacted found the same solution – but not all of them figured it out in the same way. ‘I would approach this like one approaches any mathematical problem: reduce it and find structure,’ says Sylvester Eriksson-Bique, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow with the University of California Los Angeles’s mathematics department. The only way to form triangles in the drawing, Eriksson-Bisque says, is if the top vertex (corner) is part of the triangle. The base of the triangle will then have to be one of the three levels below. ‘There are three levels, and on each you can choose a base among six different ways. This gives 18, or 3 times 6 triangles.’ Look at the triangle again: ‘It’s convenient to generalise to the case where there are ‘n’ lines passing through the top vertex, and ‘p’ horizontal lines,’ says Francis Bonahon, PhD, a professor of mathematics at the University of Southern California. In our case, n = 4, and p = 3. Any triangle we find in the drawing should have one top vertex and two others on the same horizontal line, so for each horizontal line, the number of triangles is equal to the number of ways we can choose two distinct vertices on that line out of n total points, Bonahon says – or ‘n choose 2.’ That’s n(n – 1)/2. And since there are p horizontal lines, this gives p × n(n – 1)/2 possible triangles. In our case, that’s 3 × 4(4 – 1)/2 = 18. Here’s a handy breakdown of how to find each possible triangle: popularmechanics.co.za

A

THE MATHEMATICAL PROOF

A1

A2

A3

An

ILLUSTRATION: COURTESY IMAGES

Figure 1

When we published the problem on popularmechanics.com, readers started sending in their own solutions. Software engineer Slobodan Jaksic came up with a mathematical proof to demystify the triangle teaser. It goes like this: Two lines meet at the top vertex denoted by ‘A’, and the segment line connecting those two lines is the ‘base’. The new polygon is the fundamental triangle. We can place an arbitrary number of points on the base and connect them to the top vertex A. Assuming there are ‘n’ vertices on the base, where n is a natural number greater than or equal to 2, we will prove that the new shape – let’s call it ‘pyramid’ – contains a number of triangles equal to S(n) = n(n – 1) × ½. (See Figure 1.) For n = 2, S(2) = (2 × 1) × ½ = 1. It is correct. Assuming the formula S(n) holds for n = k, with k greater than or equal to 2, S(k) = k(k – 1) × ½. We will prove that S(n), where n = k + 1, holds as well. (See Figure 2.) In the modified pyramid (see Figure 3), there are ‘k’ additional new triangles. Therefore, S(k + 1) = S(k) + k = (k(k – 1) × ½) + k = (k + 1) × k × ½. Modify the pyramid by extending both edge lines, and all lines between them connect to the top vertex A, beyond the base, in the direction opposite of the top vertex. Create new bases by connecting one or more segments parallel to the starting base. Assuming there are a total of ‘m’ bases in the pyramid, we can prove the formula calculating the number of triangles in the structure is: S(n, m) = n(n – 1) × ½ × m. popularmechanics.co.za

When Slobodan Jaksic stumbled upon our brain teaser, the software engineer living in Serbia counted the triangles sideways along the x-axis and vertically along the y-axis before assembling his proof. As such, it breaks down into horizontal and vertical steps. ‘I sent my “conceptual solution” using Mathematical Induction to Francis Bonahon, Professor of Mathematics, University of Southern California,’ Jaksic says. ‘He provided … his solution to the problem, with a correct formula, using a different approach.’ Let that be a reminder that, even among the pros, there are always multiple ways to approach a problem.

A

A1

A2

A3

AK AK+1

Figure 2

A

A1 B1

A2 A3

b1

B3

b2

B2

Am Bm

b3 X1 Y1

X2 Y2

Y3

X3

bp bpm

Xm Ym

Figure 3

Let’s prove that the formula holds for m = p + 1. (See Figure 3.) The number of new triangles can be given as: (n – 1) + … + 2 + 1 = n(n – 1) × ½. Consequently, S (n, p + 1) = S(n, p) + (n(n – 1) × ½) = (n(n – 1) × ½) × p + (n(n – 1) × ½) = (n(n – 1) × ½) (p + 1). According to the Principles of Mathematical Induction, we just proved the total number of triangles in the pyramid is given through the formula S(n, m) = n (n – 1) × ½ × m, where n and m are natural numbers, n is greater than or equal to 2, n is an arbitrary number of vertices, and m is an arbitrary number of bases. Hat tip to Jaksic. Here I was just trying to annoy my co-workers. MAY / JUNE 2021

15

H O W YO U R W O R L D W O R K S

SCIENCE / BY CAROLINE DELBERT /

Body temperature fluctuates throughout the day and is often higher in the afternoon.

38°C

36.77°C

36.88°C

36.38°C

5°C

Why our bodies have gotten colder with each passing decade 16

MAY / JUNE 2021

S

INCE THE GERMAN PHYSICIAN CARL

Reinhold August Wunderlich published his research on human body temperature in 1868, 37°C (or 98.6°F) has been the gold standard. Now scientists say that number may be inaccurate. Thanks to improved health outcomes – meaning people are generally healthier and getting better overall medical treatment – the average human body temperature has fallen gradually over time. ‘Much as we have changed the Earth’s ecosystem, we are changing our own ecosystems,’ says Julie Parsonnet, MD, a professor of epidemiology at Stanford University. ‘We have changed who we are over the modern era.’ She and her team analysed more than 670 000 reported temperatures spanning popularmechanics.co.za

PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY IMAGES

157 years of measurement and 197 birth years, and found that our temperature has dropped by 0.028°C (0.05°F) per decade since the mid 1800s. The study was sparked by a review of modern temperature studies where patients uniformly fell below the 37°C mark – a signal that something was rotten in the state of human body-temperature research. Parsonnet and her team studied three large sets of data from between 1862 and 2017: temperatures taken during periodic check-ups with US Civil War veterans between 1862 and 1930; US National Health and Nutrition Examination results from the early 1970s; and data from the Stanford Translational Research Integrated Database Environment project taken from 2007 to 2017. Controlling for changes in how temperatures were taken and advances in thermometry across the large pool of data, they compared body temperature with birth years and found that the average body temperature in men and women has gone down by 0.028°C per birth decade. In their paper published in the journal eLife, Parsonnet and her colleagues suggest that a change in inflammation levels over time is the most likely explanation for the decrease in temperature. Inflammation can be caused by bacterial, fungal, or viral infections, surface injuries such as scrapes and punctures, or inflammatory conditions such as cystitis, bronchitis, and dermatitis. As part of the body’s immune response, inflammation produces cytokines and other proteins that increase metabolism and generate heat. The development of germ theory (that microorganisms can cause disease) and advances in hygiene have changed how often many of these conditions occur. Today, the length of bacterial infections is shortened by antibiotics. And the symptoms of viruses can often be alleviated with anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, which can bring down your body temperature. Civil War veterans plagued with ailments in the 1800s weren’t as lucky. Our environment has changed, too. We now have access to healthier foods and are more hygienic. We have learned to heat and cool indoor spaces more efficiently, which may also contribute to a lower metabolic rate. These environmental changes beget physiological changes. ‘We’re taller, fatter, and colder,’ Parsonnet says. We also live a lot longer than the average Civil War veteran. popularmechanics.co.za

"

MUCH AS WE HAVE CHANGED THE EARTH’S ECOSYSTEM,

WE ARE CHANGING OUR OWN ECOSYSTEMS,’ SAYS JULIE PARSONNET, MD, A PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY. ‘WE HAVE CHANGED WHO WE ARE OVER THE MODERN ERA.’

The world has certainly become a safer, healthier place for humans, but the researchers say it’s hard to single out any one environmental change that’s lowered our temperatures. Parsonnet says that changing the human body creates resulting mysteries: what are the outcomes, and how do they change as a consequence of our actions and environment? ‘They could be good – greater life expectancy, for example. They could be bad – causing obesity and perhaps limiting our ability to deal with new pathogens,’ Parsonnet says. ‘Changing fundamentally who we are may have surprising consequences.’ Parsonnet and her colleagues did not identify a new average body temperature guideline in their study. A recent large review, a 2017 study published in the British Medical Journal, for example, found the average body temperature of 35 488 British patients to be around 36.6°C. However, because each person’s own temperature constantly fluctuates and can be influenced by factors such as gender, age, and the time of day, many researchers have questioned whether an ideal temperature standard should even exist. MAY / JUNE 2021

17

H O W YO U R W O R L D W O R K S

RIDDLE / BY ALEX ANDER GEORGE /

The POP MECH riddle that defeated me

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The locker prank DIFFICULTY

Moderate

There are 100 lockers that line the main hallway of Chelm High School. Every night, the school principal makes sure that all the lockers are closed so that there will be an orderly start to the next day. One day, 100 mischievous students decide that they will play a prank. The students all meet before school starts, and line up. The first student then walks down the hallway and opens every locker. The next student follows

by Laura Feiveson by closing every other locker (starting at the second locker). Student three then goes to every third locker (starting with the third) and opens it if it’s closed, and closes it if it’s open. Student four follows by opening every fourth locker if it’s closed and closing it if it’s open. This continues until student 100 finally goes to the hundredth locker. When the principal arrives later in the morning, which lockers does she find open?

popularmechanics.co.za

PHOTOGRAPHY: LAKOTA GAMBILL

way through this riddle (right), the first instalment from contributor Laura Feiveson. There’s a reason hers are so challenging. She has a PhD in Economics from MIT. She worked at the IMF. And now, on days off from her job as an economist at the US Federal Reserve, she creates maths puzzles for Pop Mech. For the full explanation of the solution, go to popularmechanics.com/riddle. Trying to solve these kinds of puzzles brings back good memories of computer science and geometry classes. I liked using specific tools and principles to reason towards the answer, all while building a trail of evidence. Getting beaten by a ‘moderate’ riddle reminds me: Respect the heroes who use maths and logic to solve huge problems. That includes economists such as Feiveson, and the epidemiologists and doctors who have been asked to find new answers on very short notice. Me? I’ll try one more, then back to my Nintendo Switch.

ANSWER: 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81, 100 // Every locker will have its status changed by a student with a number that is a factor of that locker number. (Locker 24 will be opened/closed by students 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, and 24.) Lockers with an odd number of factors will ultimately remain open, and lockers with factors that are a pair (16, with 4 and 4, for example) are the only ones with an odd number of factors. Those lockers are also perfect squares. Only locker numbers that are perfect squares are left open.

I

ONLY MADE IT ABOUT HALF-

ENJOY THE GOOD KIND OF JAMMING, WE’LL WARN YOU ABOUT THE BAD. With Car Park Jamming Alert, you’ll be warned when a criminal is attempting to jam your car’s remote. Get this and many more features that connect you to your vehicle, only from Netstar. BUY ONLINE NOW: www.netstar.co.za

BOOK REVIEW / BY TIANA CLINE /

Mentally

speaking

T

HE HUMAN brain is

a truly interesting organ. It creates how we see the world as well as our response to it. If you’ve ever felt the need to better understand the grey blob inside your head, Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain is a great read. It’s a book that, in just seven or so lessons, will show you that mindfulness is not just hype. In fact, ‘… you don’t sense with your sensory organs. You sense with your brain.’

‘Most of the time when you look at cows, you see cows. But you’ve almost certainly had an experience where the information inside your head triumphs over the data from the outside world. Neuroscientists like to say that your day-to-day experience is a carefully controlled hallucination, constrained by the world and your body but ultimately constructed by your brain.’ – Lisa Feldman Barrett 20

MAY / JUNE 2021

The book is split into two parts – the lessons and then an appendix that backs everything you’ve read with science. The author also very clearly distinguishes between what is science and what is not. She talks about how humans are not necessarily ‘better’ than other species – our brain is just different – and goes into the idea of ‘carefully controlled hallucinations’. In other words, the brain actually operates by prediction based on past experiences. What makes Lisa Feldman Barrett the brain behind this book? She’s a world-renowned neuroscientist and among the top one per cent of most-cited scientists on the planet. Her pioneering research about how the human brain and body work together to create emotion has fundamentally changed neuroscience. According to Barrett, our emotions are not built into our brains from birth, nor are they triggered from outside forces. They are events that our brains construct shaped by experience, language and culture. ‘Your view of the world is no photograph. It’s a construction of your brain that is so fluid and so convincing that it appears to be accurate. But sometimes it’s not,’ writes Dr Barrett. If you’re new to neuroscience, this book is a great place to begin. It’s concise, easy to read, and opens up the world that’s sitting inside your head.

PHOTOGRAPHY: UNSPLASH, COURTESY IMAGES

A book that demystifies the most complex organ in the human body, in seven short lessons.

Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain (Pan Macmillan) by Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, is available in bookshops nationwide, and online.

popularmechanics.co.za

Video Games

PHOTOGRAPHY: GALLO/GETTYIMAGES XXX XXX XXX XXX XXX XX

p24

Playing games has never felt so important

Board & Tabletop Games p28

Consoles p30

Toys and games took on new significance in 2020 and into 2021. As many of us found ourselves housebound, we turned to our consoles, models, puzzles, and especially phones for respite, entertainment, and connection during social distancing. And for parents feeling the crush of holding down jobs while simultaneously making sure their kids were staying educated, constructive toys that develop their young ones’ skills and keep them stimulated became invaluable. That’s a lot to ask of something like a video game or set of plastic bricks, and some inevitably do it better than others. Through research and testing, we determined which ones. Presenting the 47 best ways to play this year.

popularmechanics.co.za

Toys for Kids p32

Toys for GrownUps p34

MAY / JUNE 2021

23

BY A L I YA B A R N W EL L , C A R O L I N E D EL B ER T & B R I T TA N Y V I N C EN T

The Last of Us Part II

R800–R1 100

Few games hit as hard as this tale of revenge, which combines a mature narrative with visceral gameplay that continually asks you to question the morality of your actions. The original The Last of Us was the pinnacle of PS3 game design at the time, with its painstaking attention to detail, realistic character models, and beautifully orchestrated story. The sequel improves on virtually everything, imbuing the title with a sense of humanity, raw violence, and heart-rending emotion previously unseen in any game. Ellie’s pain practically seeps through the controller.

R400–R620

DOOM Eternal

R300–R500

DOOM (2016) was a return to form for the series that helped establish the first-person shooter. Eternal takes everything about that game and ramps it up considerably. The combat is faster, the movement is more fluid, and the environments are more expansive. The Doom Slayer even has a compelling story and lore to go with the amazing, frenetic gameplay, which makes this demon-blasting good time even better.

We always appreciate cooperative shooting games with a sense of humour. Of course, humour is subjective – don’t look for elevated comedy here. It’s more like crass jokes and ’80s references, but as long as that amuses, players will be quite happy. Borderlands 3 is an improvement on instalment 2; it’s longer, more difficult, and has a better balance of co-op special attacks, frightening enemies, obnoxious robots, innuendo, and wild planets.

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics R800–R1 000

Okami HD

R250–R750

Beautiful, involved, challenging, and captivating, Okami offers eye-candy visuals that use cell-shading in a sumi-e art style, which looks downright stunning in 4K. The mechanics that require players to draw with a calligraphy brush for special moves make it more interesting than many button-mashers. It’s a visual treat that challenges players to think creatively with an engaging main story and fun mini games.

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Despite advances in graphics and platforms, we keep coming back to classics such as chess, checkers, and solitaire. Clubhouse Games gives you access to 51 activities that have entertained humans for hundreds of years, but what sets it apart is its intuitive, attractive user interface.

popularmechanics.co.za

PHOTOGRAPHY: 2K (BOARDERLANDS), BETHESDA (DOOM), CAPCOM (OKAMI), NINTENDO, SONY (LAST)

Borderlands 3

GAM E & T OY AWAR D S

Final Fantasy VII Remake R800–R1 200 Final Fantasy VII is one of the most influential titles of all time. Fans had high expectations for the remake, and it manages to meet them. Square Enix took a chance by expanding the story into multiple parts and including characters and elements not seen in the original game, and the gamble paid off with a title that celebrates the source material without being constrained by it.

Half-Life: Alyx

R800–R1 000

War of the Zombie

±R60

Fans of challenging civilisation strategy sim RPGs will take to War of the Zombie. They manoeuvre an expandable aircraft carrier-like ark around a world map to missions. Once on the ground, they control a four-person strike team to complete objectives that include wiping out zombies, rescuing hostages, and infiltrating underground bases, among others. The size of the world grants WoZ massive scope, with both turn-based and live-action elements.

PHOTOGRAPHY: FAILBETTER GAMES (SUNLESS), SONY (GHOST), SQUARE ENIX (FINAL), VALVE (ALYX), VAN DER VEER GAMES (ZOMBIE)

Even though VR is arguably the most exciting gaming development to emerge recently, there aren’t a ton of killer apps for the tech yet, leading many to believe it’s a novelty. But Half-Life: Alyx proves how AAA gaming in VR can be satisfying, providing an immersive experience that can’t be matched by playing with a standard gamepad. Fling a bloodthirsty headcrab from your face using your actual hands. Reach around cover to pop off a few shots to clear the room of enemies. You don’t so much play Alyx as you become her – an impressive feat with VR still in its relative infancy.

Sunless Sea

R290

Failbetter’s visually appealing (and pretty brutal) exploration game came to Nintendo Switch this year. In it, London has sunk into the Neath, a subterranean world filled with a mix of ancient civilisations, retired corpses, actual devils, mechanical dynamos, and horrifying realisations. You trade resources, carry passengers, fight ship-sized crabs and sea anemones, and find out one unsettling origin story after another. Combining the best parts of roguelikes, exploration, and narrative elements makes Sea one of the deepest and most replayable games.

popularmechanics.co.za

Ghost of Tsushima

R870

Ghost of Tsushima breathes new life into open-world games by dropping players into a gorgeous recreation of 13th-century Tsushima Island. Samurai warrior Jin Sakai, armed with his katana and an array of stealth weapons, works to restore order to the land by dispatching the invading Mongols. Like a Kurosawa film come to life, it’s simultaneously arresting and beautiful in its violence, and there are dozens of hours’ worth of content to wade through.

MAY / JUNE 2021

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GAM E & T OY AWAR D S

R600

How can we deny the majesty of one of the best-selling and most cinematic free-roaming games ever made? Although we wanted to reach through the screen to choke Dutch (and Arthur for listening to Dutch), we still got teary eyed at both endings. And when the story triggers an emotional response, it means the developers did something right. Challenging hunting side-missions, animal-skin outfits, poker and blackjack, horse-taming, quick-draw shoot-outs, running your own ranch, alienating entire towns – Red Dead Redemption 2 has everything we want in an action-adventure game.

Signs of the Sojourner ±R220 This stylish and deep deckbuilding game challenges you to play through conversations. Most similar games have combat, but in Signs, the sparring is verbal; we love the way even small mismatches and victories affect how the game ends. You’ll need to match card symbols with your acquaintances, all while you travel around a dusty, near-apocalyptic world as a merchandise buyer. Signs aims ‘to capture both the feeling of leaving home and returning changed by our experiences,’ says developer Dyala Kattan-Wright.

Hardspace: Shipbreaker

±R450

We rarely see what happens when massive sci-fi vessels are past their prime. In Hardspace: Shipbreaker, you’re a ‘breaker’ who recycles decommissioned starships. Each one you encounter has a different layout. To avoid decompressive explosions, detonating fuel, and volatile reactors, you must approach with care. As we were challenged with bigger, more massive ships with each job, we began to appreciate taking gargantuan tasks and breaking them down into bite-sized pieces. There’s a certain Zen that comes from tearing a multi-thousand-ton hulk down to nothing.

Dicey Dungeons

Merchant of the Skies

±R200

Merchant of the Skies offers a world that mixes roguelike elements, map exploration, and beautiful pixel art as you visit a place of lightning worship to recharge your ship and serenade a giant carrot in a top hat, among other things. What we love about Merchant is how it walks a fine line: It’s a crunchy resource game for spreadsheet lovers, but it’s also a lively, quick-travel and exploration game set in a fascinating environment.

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R200–R300

Yahtzee meets deck-building in this funny, grim, and fiendishly difficult game from Chipzel, Marlowe Dobbe, and Terry Cavanagh (the developer behind Super Hexagon and VVVVVV). They’ve created a rich, replayable game with six characters and dozens of challenge modes in total, all narrated by an evil game-show hostess. ‘[This] is the best game I’ve ever worked on,’ Cavanagh says. We agree.

popularmechanics.co.za

PHOTOGRAPHY: BLACKBIRD ENTERTAINMENT (HARDSPACE), COLDWILD GAMES (MERCHANT), DISTRACTIONWARE (DICEY), ECHO NIGHT GAMES (SIGNS), ROCKSTAR GAMES (RED)

Red Dead Redemption 2

BY W I L L EG EN S T EI N ER , W I L L H ER K E W I T Z & ER I C Y U R KO

R2 200

If you’re looking to sink your teeth into something long and complex, Tapestry is your game. Take a couple of hours, whether by yourself or with up to four friends, and build your own civilisation using ‘advancement tracks’ such as science, military, technology, and exploration. Designer Jamey Stegmaier built in some flexibility here: You can choose to focus on one of the four approaches (and reap improved benefits as you progress) or take a more ‘jack-of-all-trades, master of none’ track.

Obscurio

±R1 500

Gorgeously illustrated, Obscurio is part escape room with a twist thrown in: One player is the ‘traitor’ secretly working to prevent the team from making it out of the library. The game is easy to get the hang of, and emphasises effective communication among the party. To succeed, members must decipher the meaning of certain images on their way to the correct exit.

Abandon All Artichokes ±R450 Abandon All Artichokes requires players to become ‘heartless’ by ridding their starting deck of any artichokes, as the title suggests. To do so, they must take new vegetables from the ‘Garden Row’ – a series of five face-up vegetable cards from which players must draw – and use their effects. Players add these cards to their decks in the hopes of drawing a perfect five-card hand with no artichokes in sight. The concept of deck-building is often fairly challenging, but designer Emma Larkins has done an excellent job creating a simple game to teach a difficult concept, making this title a great way to introduce new players to the world of modern tabletop gaming.

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The Search for Planet X ±R700

Rosetta: The Lost Language

$20 (±R290) + shipping

Players work cooperatively to translate an inscription from a now-lost civilisation, with one person – the ‘author’ – creating the hidden message for the others to guess. The whole team wins if they can correctly decode the meaning. Because only the inscription must be hidden, Rosetta is conducive to remote play: With the right camera set-up, players can easily collaborate. Featuring great artwork and encouraging creativity, Rosetta: The Lost Language is an engaging title for two or more players to have some group fun, even in quarantine.

In The Search for Planet X, players scour the night sky to find a mysterious new planet, using logic to piece together information about asteroids, gas clouds, comets, and more. Be careful, though: Any theories you make may help your opponents come up with the right answer. It’s a fantastic tabletop experience with great art that should appeal to players who want to dive into a thoughtful game.

popularmechanics.co.za

PHOTOGRAPHY: GAMEWRIGHT (ARTICHOKES), LIBELLUD (OBSCURIO), RENEGADE GAME STUDIOS (PLANET X), STONEMAIER GAMES (TAPESTRY), STORY MACHINE GAMES (ROSETTA)

Tapestry

GAM E & T OY AWAR D S

PHOTOGRAPHY: CHIP THEORY GAMES (CLOUDSPIRE), FANTASY FLIGHT GAMES (STAR WARS), THAMES & KOSMOS (EXIT, CREW), THUNDERWORKS GAMES (CARTOGRAPHERS)

Star Wars: Outer Rim

R1 450

The lawless edge of the Star Wars galaxy lends itself to some interesting gaming. Play as a smuggler, have run-ins (and potentially work) with famous characters from the franchise, and tangle with different gangs. Here’s good news for people looking to play solo, or social distancing alone: In singleplayer mode, you can still compete against a character generated by the game itself, whose turns are dictated by a deck of cards with preset action options.

Cartographers

Exit: The Catacombs of Horror

R400–R600

This super-sized, two-part, escape-room game challenges players to find a missing friend under the streets of Paris. Featuring tough puzzles – such as one that can only be solved by candlelight – and inventive gameplay, this Exit title proves that you don’t have to leave your house for a compelling escape-room experience. Pleasantly, for a game titled The Catacombs of Horror, it wasn’t too scary, either.

The Crew

Cloudspire

$130 (±R1 900) + shipping

The options for playing Cloudspire can seem overwhelming at first; the game incorporates boards, chips, dice, and cards and it supports PvP, solo, and team modes. But for 130 bucks (that’s US dollars!), we would hope for some broad functionality that lends itself to multiple replays with a number of different participants. Cloudspire’s mix of world building and combat delivers.

popularmechanics.co.za

R450–R600

Cartographers tasks players with charting out a new fantasy realm for their kingdom, revealing cards that represent areas of land that appear on the map. Though there are symbols to represent those areas, we preferred picking up markers and pencils to draw our own vibrant landscapes. Whoever earns the most reputation stars by the end wins. Other players can throw monsters at you to thwart your plans, so be flexible.

±R350

The Crew is a cooperative trick-taking game, meaning players perform some action each round, and whoever does the best wins that hand – similar to Hearts, Spades, or Euchre. Groups of two to five players complete up to 50 missions together, targeting certain objectives (such as taking certain cards, or winning certain hands). Should they fail, the players immediately lose. Thankfully, they can keep playing the same mission until successful, and the short rounds are easy to restart, making it ideal for players who want to settle in for a long session.

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GAM E & T OY AWAR D S

BY A L E X G EO RG E

Nintendo Switch Lite R5 000

If you play – or plan to play – almost exclusively in handheld mode, alone, without much multiplayer, then get the Switch Lite, which is more portable and costs less than the standard Switch. This is a Game Boy for the 2020s, with its hard-button controls that phone games just can’t replicate.

Xbox Series X

R12 000

PlayStation 5

R10 000

No gaming system matches Sony’s library of exclusive games. The PlayStation’s hardware is as good as any, and we especially like that the PS5 has a trick proprietary system to efficiently pull data from its 825 GB drive. But PS5-only titles such as Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Gran Turismo 7, and franchises such as Uncharted and God of War alone can justify choosing Sony.

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PHOTOGRAPHY: TREVOR RAAB (SWITCH) MICROSOFT (XBOX), SONY (PLAYSTATION)

The Xbox Series X wins on certain specs: 12 teraflops of computational capacity and a 1TB SSD. But while non-exclusive essentials such as Call of Duty and NBA 2K look excellent on both this and PlayStation, the Series X’s value is versatility. The system can play titles going back to the early 2000s, upgrading the graphics when possible. We’d budget for Microsoft’s ‘Netflixfor-games’ programme called Game Pass Ultimate.

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BY PA I G E S Z M O D I S

Abacus Brands Professor Maxwell’s VR Science Lab $50 (±R730) + shipping This science-lab kit opens doors to fun, hands-on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) experiences. Kids can conduct 25 experiments (with step-by-step instructions and help from augmentedreality videos), then put on the included VR goggles to explore how each experiment relates to real-life examples, such as flying over an active volcano or going deep into a crystal cave.

Mattel Hot Wheels Track Builder Unlimited Ultra Boost Kit Motorized Set R1 300 Hot Wheels offers plenty of builds that can be mixed and matched, but this motorised set won over kid testers with its two boosters, which click together in a variety of configurations.

LEGO Creator Ford Mustang

R2 600

Pass on your mechanical knowledge by working with your child to build this LEGO Ford Mustang. Modelled after the GT 1967, the 1 471-piece replica includes a detailed interior, opening bonnet and boot, and add-ons such as a supercharger and spoiler.

Don’t constrain creativity to pre-made colour options. Crayola’s Maker Series allows kids to DIY their own hues. This Marker Maker has the tools they need to mix their own shades from three ink bottles and package them in up to 16 full-size markers.

How we tested toys Our associates at Good Housekeeping magazine have been testing products for more than a century, just like we have. And they take toy evaluations seriously, making sure that the top games and devices hold to ASTM (American Society for Testing) standards, and then sending the most promising ones out to the most relevant testers: children. We partnered with the Good Housekeeping Institute for this section, combining some of their test results with our own evaluations to bring you this authoritative list of STEM and builder toys and entertaining games for your little tinkerer or future programmer.

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popularmechanics.co.za

PHOTOGRAPHY: CRAYOLA (MARKER), LAKOTA GAMBILL (VR LAB), LEGO (MUSTANG), MATTEL (TRACK)

Crayola Marker Maker R225

GAM E & T OY AWAR D S

LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox R3 300

You can count on LEGO for engaging fun, but this robot kit adds some high-tech elements to the classic bricks. Made for kids ages seven through 12, the 847-piece set includes five programmable designs, such as a talking robot, guitar, cat, rover, and auto-builder. It’s also compatible with its own smartphone app, called LEGO Boost, which has challenges and activities to help kids build their coding skill set.

Osmo Genius Starter Kit $99 (±R1 450) + shipping

PHOTOGRAPHY: DISCOVERY #MINDBLOWN (CIRCUITRY), HASBRO (NERF), JAKKS (DOZER), LEGO (TOOLBOX), OSMO (GENIUS), THAMES & KOSMOS (SOLARBOTS)

If your child already uses a tablet for gaming, the Genius Starter Kit can help turn those digital amusements into tangible learning opportunities. It includes an iPad or Fire base, tangram pieces, and word and number tiles. The kit then captures what the user does live in front of the tablet, integrating those actions and pieces into five apps that help develop kids’ problem-solving skills through puzzles.

Thames & Kosmos SolarBots: 8-in-1 Solar Robot $25 (±R370) + shipping

Jakks Xtreme Power Dozer $60 (±R880) + shipping

We all need to vent, and it’s okay to occasionally indulge in a little destructive play time. The Xtreme Power Dozer is ideal for that, capable of pushing or pulling up to 90 kg – whether it be ploughing through other toys inside or piling up dirt and rocks outside. Maybe buy yourself noise-cancelling headphones before handing this over to your child, though; it’s equipped with LED lights and a piercing siren that alerts others to the nearby construction.

popularmechanics.co.za

Discovery #Mindblown Toy Circuitry Action Experiment Set

Powered by a compact solar panel, these little robots use mini electric motors and can march, crawl, and somersault. And the colourful, 48-page guide offers instruction on how to assemble up to eight of the robots, with interesting facts about real-life solar power as a renewable energy source.

$50 (±R750) + shipping

Hasbro Nerf Halo MA40 Blaster $50 (±R750) + shipping

Expose kids to circuitry and electrical engineering early with this set for kids ages eight and up. With six total experiments, it enables them to levitate balls, spin a robot, and launch a rocket. Plus, the modules are flexible, allowing for some free-form experimenting so children can build their own design.

Modelled after a blaster in the upcoming Halo Infinite video game, Nerf’s MA40 can unleash 10 darts in quick succession, thanks to its motorised, clipfed design. It even includes a tactical rail for attaching a number of accessories. But be sure to emphasise one rule: No aiming at the eyes.

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BY W I L L EG EN S T EI N ER , D O N M EL A N S O N & DA R R EN O R F

Mattel Hot Wheels Cybertruck $400 (±R5 900) + shipping One-tenth the size of Tesla’s real Cybertruck, this version from Hot Wheels features functioning head- and tail lights, a telescoping tailgate, and ‘Chill’ and ‘Sport’ modes. Tesla and Mattel are even leaning into the now-infamous incident from the actual Cybertruck’s unveiling – a cracked window sticker comes included. It’s a fun distraction for those of us who may never own a Cybertruck to pretend like we do.

Spin Master Kinetic Sand Kalm $30 (±R450) + shipping

How we game now

This tiny sandbox is like a Zen garden for adults, but more fun. The squishy, granular kinetic material feels like something between sand and Play-Doh, clumping together so you can mould it with the included scoop, rake, and knife. Our testers loved its therapeutic effects.

Stay-at-home orders don’t have to cramp your style on game night – stay safe by hosting the fun online. P OGO

Spikeball continues to be one of our favourite games to whittle away time in the backyard. The premise is simple: Think volleyball where you team up with a friend to face off against another pair, attempting to bounce the ball off the net so the other duo can’t return it. There’s not much strategy to it, but it’s a great blood-pumping diversion after a week of gazing into devices. (There are generic alternatives available at South African sporting-goods stores.)

The joy and nostalgia of playing a classic board game is unmatched. Luckily, all you have to forfeit is the tactile component. With Pogo, choose from free games such as Monopoly and Scrabble to play with friends. Simply create a private room and invite others to join. S T E A M REMO T E P L AY

Apple iPhone 11 Pro

±R20 000

It’s an expensive ‘toy’, and not the most recent iteration, but the iPhone 11 Pro has plenty of high-res screen real estate (at 458 pixels per inch) for playing mobile games. And it was the best iOS camera phone in our testing. It’ll show you what’s outside the frame of the photo you’ll take so you can adjust and not miss something (or someone) important. Also, the Zero Shutter Lag function saves the sharpest frame closest to when you clicked the button, preserving crisp shots.

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With Steam Remote Play, one player buys and runs a game, streaming it to everyone else in the group. The platform is free, but you must purchase a title to get started – something like Overcooked! (R200) is great for two to four players. Z OOM

Who said video conferencing was only for work? Invite your friends to a video call, fire up a game, and share your screen. We recommend The Jackbox Party Pack 3 ($25, or ±R370), which includes five quirky multiplayer games. – Courtney Linder

popularmechanics.co.za

PHOTOGRAPHY: TREVOR RAAB (IPHONE), MATTEL (CYBERTRUCK), SPIKEBALL, SPIN MASTER (SAND)

Spikeball

$60 (±R900) + shipping

GAM E & T OY AWAR D S

LEGO Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer Set R14 000 This isn’t just any Star Destroyer. LEGO modelled this after the very first ship, named the Devastator, that graced screens back in 1977 during the opening minutes of A New Hope. Complete with an included Rebel Tantiv IV ship, this Star Destroyer has a staggering 4 784 pieces, eclipsed only by LEGO’s 2007 and 2017 Millennium Falcons (which are about 5 000 and 7 500 pieces, respectively).

DJI Mavic Air 2 Drone

R18 000

PHOTOGRAPHY: DJI (MAVIC), LEGO (DESTROYER)

The Air 2 offers clear improvements over its predecessor in the two areas that matter most: its camera and flying capabilities. You can now shoot 4K video at 60 fps, along with still photos up to 48 megapixels, while the drone’s flight time has been increased to a lengthy 34 minutes (up from 21). Those upgrades do make this version heavier and larger than the last one, but it still folds small enough to tuck in a bag or backpack.

popularmechanics.co.za

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HE BUILDS THE WORLD’S GREATEST MAGIC TRICKS. BUT WILL HE ACTUALLY TELL US HIS SECRETS? B Y D AV I D H O WA R D · P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y J O S É M A N D O J A N A 36

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THERE IS A CENTURY-OLD MAGIC TRICK THAT JIM STEINMEYER FINDS PARTICULARLY FASCINATING. A group of random audience members file on stage and each places a personal possession inside a sturdy, commercial-model safe, out of view of the magician, Charles Morritt. The safe is locked before anyone looks inside, and after a beat, a burglar appears. The lock-picking bandit looks at the closed safe with a pair of field glasses and disappears. Moments later, a telegram arrives for Morritt. It’s from the master thief. It says, in essence, ‘I’ve decided not to crack that safe and steal the contents – it’s not worth my time. But here’s a list of everything inside.’ When the safe is opened, the list matches up, item for item. By almost any estimation, Steinmeyer is the greatest creator of illusions in the history of magic and theatre, but describing Morritt’s stagecraft still animates and energises him. He’s not even sure what to call the act. It’s a mind-reading trick, but instead of the magician playing the part of the clairvoyant, it’s the third-party burglar. ‘Something bigger is happening,’ Steinmeyer says. Morritt had come up with a new twist on a familiar routine: A magician presses his fingers to his temples, closes his eyes, and sees the unseeable. 38

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Steinmeyer uses the mindreading trick as a launch pad into a fascinating disquisition on how magic tricks evolve, but it walls me off from a question I’m eager to ask: How does it work? That’s the point of my visit – I’m here to understand what Steinmeyer does and how he does it. I’d approached him with this intent a few weeks earlier. He’d been polite, but wary. Given the nature of his business, he said, he had to be proprietary about his insights. ‘In terms of explaining how things work,’ he told me, ‘I can’t get into too much of that.’ But he had agreed to let me inside his world under an illdefined agreement to stick to the basic principles of building magic tricks. Of course, I’m still hoping he’ll lift the lid on his more guarded secrets, and I’m alive to the fact that I’m in the room containing much of his classified material. My eyes flick across Steinmeyer’s studio, a shrine to the history and craft of stage magic. Here is a miniature version of the cabinet used in the Disappearing Donkey illusion, a once-lost trick that Steinmeyer reconstructed via dusty tomes and informed intuition. There are two walls of reference materials: books about magic, of course, but also books about furniture, graphic design, screenplays, and antique apparatus. Resting along one wall is a pair of tables used in the iconic sawing-the-assistant-in-half illusion, as well as a locked chest for mind-reading tricks, a cylindrical ‘phantom tube’ used for optical illusions, and a foam-core model of the magic table he created for Disney’s latest stage rendition of popularmechanics.co.za

Steinmeyer has 24 notebooks, 100 pages each. Counting both sides of a page, that’s 4 800 pages dating back to 1980 or ’81. He says he shows them Steinmeyer’s Disappearing Donkey trick (featuring Midget, to no one. pictured) is based on a technique by English magician Charles Morritt.

Mary Poppins. This prop allows the British nanny to pull gigantic items from her carpet bag, including a hat rack and fulllength mirror. But what Steinmeyer intends to unpack for me is uncertain. He’s not going to let me flip over his mirrors or rifle through his drawers, and when I ask him a straight-line question, he responds with misdirection – labyrinthine tangents and looping alternate pathways. His story about the burglar and the safe is as much about what he doesn’t say as what he does. My brain fizzes with unsated curiosity. Secrecy is the coin of the realm here, and Steinmeyer is an open secret himself: Most people who see magic shows assume the performers invent their own tricks, but it’s illusion designers such as Steinmeyer who conjure most of the magic offstage. The New York Times, in fact, labelled Steinmeyer theatre’s ‘celebrated invisible man’. But even given Steinmeyer’s relative anonymity compared with the Copperfields and Blaines of the world, magic has to reckon with YouTube now. Type any trick into a search bar and you can view explainers of its mysteries in seconds – endless spoilers about invisible wires, trap doors, and rigged boxes. You can find books that detail the mechanics of most illusions, down to diagrams with measurements. Some of these tell-alls have existed for generations. Some of the more recent ones, Steinmeyer wrote himself. So as one of history’s greatest conjurers of magic continues to explain and not explain the safe trick, I find myself wondering: If anyone can dig up the secrets behind many of Steinmeyer’s tricks, why is he so intent on hiding them?

Broadway. He transformed the Beast into a prince at the end of the stage version of Beauty and the Beast. He vanished the titular character of The Invisible Man. He erased an elephant from the centre ring for Ringling Bros. In the more traditional world of magic, he brought a painted portrait to life and back again (‘The Artist’s Dream’, performed by husband-and-wife team the Pendragons, among others) and designed a whole series of illusions in which the performer walks through a mirror, a wall, and a number of other impenetrable objects. Steinmeyer has invented card tricks and box tricks and levitation tricks and ESP tricks and every other imaginable kind of theatrical deception, then some you couldn’t imagine, for the biggest names in entertainment, including Orson Welles, Siegfried & Roy, Doug Henning and Ricky Jay. Aside from its ambition and quality, what stands out is the breadth of Steinmeyer’s work. Most illusion creators stay in a lane: big-stage illusions, escapes, mind reading, theatre productions, or ‘close-up’ magic. Steinmeyer does it all. ‘Jim is an expert in virtually every area of magic – in fact, he’s singular in that,’ says Richard Kaufman, publisher of the industry magazine Genii and the author of scores of books about magic. ‘Nobody else is working at this level. People like Jim come along once every two or three generations.’



te i n me yer kee ps h i s sec ret s out of reac h a s hours of conversation unfold. He is engaged and animated, and he shares his biography with depth, but he def lects other questions in a way that reminds me of the conversational rope-a-dope magicians



t 61, Steinmeyer retains a striking youthfulness that manifests in an easy grin, a cheerful chattiness, and eyes that seem lit from behind. He wears a khaki vest over a tie and pinstriped Oxford, a look that recalls him as a boy in the 1950s, haunting Chicagoarea magic shops, hobnobbing with performers, probing for tips. As we walk through his home, posters of great magicians past stand guard along the walls. One shows an illustrated Harry Kellar, a sensation in the early 20th century. Kellar’s arms are elevated skyward, a woman floating above his hands. The legend reads: ‘Levitation – The Greatest Illusion in the World’. Once settled in the studio with Albert, Steinmeyer’s doddering but ebullient 13-year-old dachshund, I make an opening gambit: I ask Steinmeyer about the state of magic today. He launches into a commentary about how people don’t just receive entertainment anymore – they see it as a challenge. ‘That’s what this has become,’ he says, ‘“Let’s talk about magic as a puzzle. Let’s deconstruct it.”’ Steinmeyer has given the world more to tease apart than almost anyone else on the planet. The god-tier highlight of his career is arguably designing David Copperfield’s televised vanishing of the Statue of Liberty, but over more than three decades, Steinmeyer has engineered an entire pantheon of physics-defying, brain-exploding, how-is-that-even-possible feats. He made a flying carpet for the latest turn of Aladdin on

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use, suggesting one thing – See these rings? Solid metal, right? – before doing another. I ask where his ideas come from. His answer, at first, is that he doesn’t really like the question. ‘For years and years, I thought it was presumptuous to say, “Here’s how you create things,”’ he says. ‘I always hate reading that stuff.’ Only when I press does he relent. ‘My secret,’ he says, ‘is that I keep a messy notebook. It has to be all three things: That you keep it, that it’s messy, and that it’s a notebook.’ A spiral-bound Strathmore Sketch pad sits on the table between us, and he flips through it, pausing just long enough for me to glimpse the pages. There are careful sketches of rotating, hinging mechanisms, drawings of altered cabinets and wardrobes enveloping phantom figures and annotated with measurements and enigmatic notations. Two pages depict a giant industrial fan – clearly an illusion in which the performer passes unharmed through the spinning blades – but many of the others are impenetrable. Steinmeyer’s job is to ‘think of something completely impossible, then figure out a way to apparently accomplish it’ – and that process involves intense revision, sometimes over several years. ‘An idea branches,’ he says. ‘You start working on something and you go, “Oh, it would really be good if it was like this.” And you pursue that for a little while and you go, “Yeah, that’s not right.” Well, those – he points to a stack of notebooks – are so when I abandon something, I can go back and find it. There are no dead ends.’ For example, the Mary Poppins illusion originated as an unrelated jolt of inspiration: a table that employs angled mirrors to conceal items within its folds. ‘I remember thinking that was a really good idea, but I had no use for it at the time,’ Steinmeyer says. Into a notebook it went, and years later he excavated it for the play. A trick has to tell a story, and each story includes layers of deception. ‘There are three scripts in a magic show,’ he explains. ‘There’s the script where you ostensibly say what’s happening, which is often a lie. Then there’s the script of what you’re actually doing, so you’re saying one thing and doing something else. And then there’s the script of how you’re manoeuvring the audience through the act.’ The story should be both familiar and impossible. Audiences should recognise the trick. ‘You want that thing where people go, “Ohhh, they’re about to divide a person into three pieces,”’ Steinmeyer says. Once magicians manipulate audience members towards certain expectations, those expectations can be subverted, and the audience can be fooled.



hi le attend ing pr imar y sc hool in suburban Chicago, Steinmeyer went home every day for lunch, f lipped on the TV, and watched ‘Bozo’s Circus’, a variety show sometimes featuring touring magicians. Steinmeyer’s older brother, Harry, had a drawerful of abandoned magic props, and when Jim was about six, he says, ‘I found that drawer.’ Jim’s bounty: a P&L Change Bag (turn one item into another, or pull something from an empty bag), an Ireland set of cup and balls, and a collection of mystifying instruction books. Harry taught Jim that magic was about more than props – you had to engage the audience with a story – and between this tutelage and the television and Chicago’s booming local magic scene, a fascination took hold.

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Steinmeyer with the box used for one of his versions of the sawing-in-half illusion. His tricks regularly befuddle others in the magic industry. ‘Magicians are actually pretty easy to fool,’ he says.

Steinmeyer immersed himself in Chicago’s magic-shop subculture, popping in on Saturdays, hanging around, and talking to other magicians. Before long, he developed what was known as a ‘medicine pitch’ act, in which he played an old-timey snake-oil salesman and incorporated tricks into demonstrating his various cures. The act won a few local awards. When Steinmeyer was 13, his father died, leading to what he describes as ‘a hell of a year’. As the family wrestled with grief, his mother encouraged him to attend a magic convention in Michigan with his friends, to plug into something that might distract or excite him. Steinmeyer saw a performance by George Goebel, a veteran magician with a grand-scale stage act. Rather than perform for a small circle of spectators, the tuxedoed Goebel stretched his act across the entire stage, employing costumed assistants in larger illusions such as levitation and sawing someone in half. ‘That’s when I became interested in stage magic,’ Steinmeyer says. ‘It was that performance with that guy. I was a 13-year-old kid who just lost a father… And it was like another door opening on an interest I already had, and opening in some bigger, grander way.’ In the following years, Steinmeyer dropped his own act; what he really loved, he realised, was conceiving ambitious illusions – the flashbulb of an idea popping inside his head, the mental calisthenics of how it might work, the sketching and spitballing. In college, he started pitching tricks to Doug Henning, arguably the world’s most famous illusionist during the 1970s. Henning eventually bought a piece from Steinmeyer called ‘Modern Art’, an illusion in which the performing magician stands inside a picture frame but is split in half when the frame is moved – their legs stuck in place while their head and torso slide with the frame. Henning liked the way ‘Modern Art’ spun off a trick called ‘The Zig Zag Girl’, in which the performer divides an assistant into thirds. ‘It was very much of its time,’ Steinmeyer says. ‘Because Zig Zag was so fresh in the ’70s, things that felt like that were attractive.’ Two other Steinmeyer illusions soon made a Henning TV special, and Henning eventually offered him a job helping launch Merlin on Broadway. The job was supposed to last six months; Steinmeyer kept it for seven years before moving on to Disney Imagineering. These positions had their rewards, he says, but he struggled with the compromises that came with corporate productions. He knew that if he wanted to design illusions from a molecule of an idea in his notebook to something that grew and emerged naturally, he needed to be on his own. Today, running his own business requires an astonishingly disparate set of skills. Some days Steinmeyer is a mechanical engineer, building scale models with foam core, mirrors, and toothpicks. Other days, he’s a historian and detective, reconstructing old tricks; still others, he’s a graphic designer drawing up informal blueprints, or a playwright developing scripts to go with his illusions. Each illusion involves close collaboration with the builders and the performers – Steinmeyer’s clients. ‘Every trick has a flaw,’ he says. ‘If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be a trick, it would be reality.’ popularmechanics.co.za

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For magic to accomplish the impossible – making something disappear – a ‘flaw’ in the magic has to be hidden, like a trick mirror or special compartment. If a magician can’t conceal this secret, the trick is worthless. Steinmeyer relies on both meticulous design and well-suited performers to construct tricks. When he offered to help launch the solo career of Alex Ramon – a former magician for the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus – he asked Ramon to write down his favourite tricks, architectural styles, pieces of art, colour schemes, and so on to garner a sense of his aesthetic and his way of thinking. Ramon had never performed original tricks before, but in Steinmeyer’s studio he understood for the first time how they were birthed. ‘It made me think about magic in a different way,’ Ramon says. ‘I was just a performer. I didn’t have that engineering mind.’ Today, he has a trick in which his ‘blonde assistant’ materialises in an empty chair covered by a cloth.

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First-time guests at the Magic Castle must speak the correct password to open a hidden door behind reception and gain entry into the club.

Though the assistant’s silhouette appears at first to be human, it turns out to be Ramon’s dog. Steinmeyer helped Ramon create this signature part of his act. ‘I definitely owe a big chunk of my career to Jim,’ he says.



uring the evening on my second day in Hollywood, Steinmeyer drives me to the Magic Castle. The members-only club for magicians and enthusiasts is both a laboratory for the craft and, by night, a place for guests to take in large-scale and intimate performances. Built in 1909, the building is a shambling maze, a classic chateau-

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PHOTOGRAPHY: JIM STEINMEYER (DONKEY, BACKGROUND DRAWINGS)

‘EVERY TRICK HAS A FLAW. IF IT DIDN’T, IT WOULDN’T BE A TRICK. IT WOULD BE REALITY.’ themed manor with narrow passages, branching wings, antique banisters and Tiffany stained-glass windows. At the time of my visit, Steinmeyer served as president of the club (though his tenure has since ended), and we arrive about an hour before opening so he can attend a board meeting. I have to borrow a tie at reception to meet the dress code, though I’m already wearing a sport coat. Steinmeyer heads to his meeting, leaving me to roam the castle. In a room tucked behind the main entrance, I test ‘Irma’, the ghost operating the grand piano, and she nails my softball request (‘Hotel California’). The energy ramps up once the doors open, the crowd rolls in, and the performances start. In the Close-Up Gallery, Tom Craven peppers his card, rope, and metal-ring tricks with a stream of old-world patter. Over in the larger Parlor of Prestidigitation, Bill Abbott presents a mash-up of puppetry and magic featuring a lustful monkey. In the Magic Castle’s showcase room, the Palace of Mystery, Greg Otto performs a comedy-laden routine (when a heckler pipes up, Otto replies, ‘I thought I told you to stay in the truck’) before Kyle and Mistie Knight deliver a classic big-stage performance heavy on audience participation. To take the stage, Kyle passes through a giant fan with spinning blades – the very trick I’d spotted in one of Steinmeyer’s notebooks. What’s striking, besides the polished performances, is the feeling in the building. The Magic Castle rules call for people to stow their phones, and there are no TVs. It’s a time capsule, everything analogue, and the audience arrives with a roiling, tipsy energy. People call out to performers, laugh, slap shoulders, and scream with surprise and wonder. No one is sneaking a look at their phone, and no one resists the timeless astonishment that has been conjured in magic audiences for decades, from Charles Morritt to today. I mention this to Steinmeyer on the drive back – he’d been in his meeting for the duration – and he nods. ‘I know it’s weird to say, but somehow magic is immune from technology,’ he says. When he watches performances, he tunes in to not just the magic but the way people respond to it. ‘The thing about the Magic Castle and places like it, when you’re there in the right size theatre, the intimacy is just completely amazing. People always say afterwards, “I had no idea the performances were going to be so strong.”’



n my last day, I ask Steinmeyer straight up: How does the sawing-in-half trick work? Two trick tables are in the studio with us. The illusion has been around for more than a century, and Steinmeyer has mentioned its timelessness and layers of innovation. So what’s the secret? True to form, Steinmeyer gives a non-answer. He begins a popularmechanics.co.za

mesmerising filibuster about the illusion’s evolution, citing his friend and mentor Alan Wakeling, who in the 1970s came up with an ‘incredibly elegant’ design for the trick in which two audience members shackle the hands and feet of the woman, and instead of sawing the box in two, the magician stabs four blades through the sides. Steinmeyer allows that historically, the trick is that the woman pulls her knees up to her chest when the sawing happens. But with Wakeling’s box, you can still see her feet sticking out the bottom, and beyond that, the box looks too narrow for a knee lift. So I press: ‘But there’s no room for her to…’ ‘Right. I mean it’s all – as soon as people believe you’re doing one thing, you can subvert it by doing something else,’ Steinmeyer says. He smiles and shrugs as if to say, what more do you expect? Here, I realise where Steinmeyer has been trying to lead me all along. In Hiding the Elephant, his narrative history of magic, Steinmeyer points out what most of us already suspect or know: The secrets of magic are often right in front of us. He says a magician friend often tells him, ‘If you want to keep something a secret, publish it.’ Magic is not about knowing how we’ve been deceived. ‘Magic,’ Steinmeyer says, ‘is an opportunity to experience a deception without actually being threatened.’ In a world of deepfakes and identity theft and warfare by invisible computer viruses, real-life deception has consequences. You need to know the mechanisms of these ‘tricks’ to avoid being taken in. That’s why we press for answers. Steinmeyer sees I’m pressing about the sawing-in-half trick, so maybe against his better judgment, he relents. The feet are fake, he explains. The box incorporates design elements that make it appear narrower to the audience than it actually is. In fact, there’s just enough room for the woman to drop her knees to one side and avoid the blades. I nod. Huh. It’s a cool explanation, but somehow learning the answer isn’t as exciting as I’d expected. I remember something I’d read in one of Steinmeyer’s books: Magicians don’t protect their secrets from the audience, they protect the audience from their secrets. The truth of how magic works is that most of us don’t know because we don’t want to know. What we want, instead, is to sign what Steinmeyer calls ‘a mysterious pact between a performer and the audience’. We want to be in the midst of that credulous, shrieking crowd at the Magic Castle. ‘There’s no substitute for that,’ Steinmeyer says. ‘When you gasp or scream in response to a card trick, it’s a hot-wire to that sense of being incredibly pleased, a sense not only of surprise, but of wonder.’ The secret of magic is not knowledge, it’s feeling. Steinmeyer and I eventually while away almost an hour analysing the early-1900s illusion with the thief and the safe. He revels in the intricacies of it – the different historical accounts, Charles Morritt’s possible motives, all the potential explanations. Steinmeyer holds that feeling himself. He admires a trick well done. He treasures the wonder that comes with being fooled in an artful way. Steinmeyer doesn’t know how the safe illusion works. He never has, it’s possible he never will, and this doesn’t bother him in the least. MAY / JUNE 2021

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< TEC HNOLOGY

CYBERCRIME

/ BY TIANA CLINE /

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< 1 ( )

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{ THE

) CHANGING FACE OF

Ransomware, malicious domains, data-harvesting malware, the Dark Web, botnets, cryptojacking… It might sound like a sci-fi movie but these crimes are real, know no borders, are virtual, and they cause

CRIME popularmechanics.co.za

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{

significant damage. This is the world of cybercrime.

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CYBERCRIME

{

Online gamers can be vulnerable to cyber bullying or crime. To help combat this, always download games from official sources.

CYBERCRIME IN THE TIME OF CORONA ‘Cybercriminals don’t operate in the physical world and they certainly did not stop their activities during the pandemic,’ says Amy Hogan-Burney, the general manager of the digital crimes unit at Microsoft. ‘The security barrier changed. Having a dispersed workforce and a large number of people no longer in a central location meant a lot more things to secure.’ Cybercriminals are skilled, relentless and constantly looking for ways to adapt their techniques and increase their success rate. While the coronavirus pandemic didn’t necessarily change how cybercriminals operate, it did cause them to use different lures to execute their attacks. ‘At the very beginning of the pandemic, what we really saw is criminals taking and leveraging fear associated with COVID-19 for great success,’ says Hogan-Burney. ‘We would see phishing domains and other things used by cybercriminals to say things such as, “Please look at this schedule that we have for working from home.” Things that people believe they might see in their inbox to socially engineer them to get into that secure barrier.’ Like any business, cybercriminals look for gaps that they can turn into opportunities. They also don’t operate in the physical world so just like anyone else, they’re sitting at home, behind a computer and trying to make money. So if there is a geopolitical issue, such as the pandemic, then cybercriminals will use that to target individuals and specifically people working from home. ‘Anything that you received in your email inbox that had to do with [the pandemic] is something you should not be clicking on, for any reason, at any time,’ adds Hogan-Burney. ‘Anything that capitalises on the fear of individuals’ freedoms.’ popularmechanics.co.za

AERIAL THREAT

Drones are remarkable devices. They’ve changed healthcare by delivering muchneeded medication to remote areas. In agriculture, they’re equipped with sensors to monitor crops to ultimately help farmers better understand their fields. But drones are also potentially dangerous, especially when it comes to privacy. The reality is that as with any electronic device, drones can be hacked. Once a drone has been located, a hacker can potentially take control of it, or downlink video or other images that are being broadcast. ‘Though a drone flying over your house and taking photos might be annoying, the privacy of your back garden is not always the biggest concern – drone security issues go much further than that,’ says Lehan van den Heever from Kaspersky in Africa, a global cybersecurity and antivirus provider with offices worldwide. ‘Drones can be hacked or used to hack other electronic devices. A hacker does not even need their own drone – they could hack yours in several ways to make it serve their own purposes. The sound of an out-of-control drone with a chainsaw attached to it is something nobody wants to hear…’ Kaspersky’s supercool Antidrone solution uses a neural network to detect and classify drones in automatic mode. Sensors selected specifically for each site in combination with artificial intelligence-based technology signal that a drone is approaching the controlled zone.

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CYBERCRIME

THE DARK WEB MARKETPLACE ‘Going back five years, cybercrime was fairly high-end work. They had to create tool sets and infrastructure – it was like a new startup business,’ says Craig Jones, the cybercrime director at Interpol. Interpol is a neutral organisation that works across 194 countries. It has its own constitution to which ever member country must agree, similar to the United Nations. ‘What we’ve seen now and what we’re continuing to see is a sort of “cybercrime as a service” model evolving on the Dark Web marketplaces.’ Think of it like an online shop or marketplace. You pop online and pick out what you want and pay a service fee. On the Dark Web, you can buy personal data as well as items such as guns and drugs. The services offered by these hackers for hire include everything from social media to email hacking, destroying a company’s reputation, step-by-step training videos and even Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which prevent anyone from accessing a website, overloading the system so it crashes. Jones is now leading something called the Interpol Global Financial Crimes Task Force, which focuses on coronavirus-related scams, vaccine misinformation and government relief funds. ‘The government is setting the funds but they have had to be set up really, really quickly. Sometimes security is not carefully considered,’ says Jones. ‘At the beginning, when people were trying to buy masks and gloves and other personal protective equipment, merchant scams mushroomed overnight as there was an urgent need for that sort of equipment.’ Microsoft has been working collaboratively with the World Economic Forum, as well as other partners such as Interpol, to fight cybercrime on a global level. ‘These criminals are very fast and very technologically savvy. They don’t care where we’re located, and they don’t care about geographic borders. They don’t care about where their victims are or where their infrastructure sits,’ says Hogan-Burney. ‘To a certain extent, we have to do the same thing as them – it mustn’t matter that I’m sitting in the United States and the actor is in Nigeria and the victims are around the world… We have to work together.’

SO YOU THINK YOU’RE SAFE?

>

Every country has to deal with cyberthreats and attacks. Kaspersky’s research has shown that malware across Africa topped 28 million in August 2020, and this was driven mostly by lockdown conditions and the pandemic. We chatted to Lehan van den Heever, enterprise cybersecurity advisor for Kaspersky in Africa, to find out what’s happening.

Popular Mechanics: Should we be afraid of hackers? Lehan van den Heever: The short answer is yes. Regardless of your company size, geographic location, or industry sector, you will be targeted. But this also extends beyond the corporate world. Even individual users are susceptible to hackers and having their personal information, systems, and banking compromised.

PM: What are cybercriminals after? LVDH: Cybercriminals hunt for data of all kinds – personal details, photos, videos, and even ways that users interact with others. This data is often stolen from social networks. In turn, stolen data is then posted elsewhere online to be sold to other criminals looking to make a profit.

PM: Has technology made this better or worse? LVDH: Hackers use more innovative technology to try and compromise business and personal accounts. For example, it’s already possible to put on the face of another person during a video call. With the correct approach, it can look so realistic that you would hardly be able to distinguish between the forgery and a real person. As far back as 2011, there was an app that could overlay a face from a photo on to a moving face in a video, dynamically, in real time. Have you ever dreamt of Angelina Jolie’s lips or Brad Pitt’s face? No need for Photoshop here, just a creepy app. Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), this has become better by magnitudes. Videos, photos, and other pieces of content can be created by piecing together widely available data on social networks.

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PM: How safe is online gaming? LVDH: According to research, 179 million gamers globally have had their IDs stolen. And in South Africa, Kaspersky has found that almost 10 per cent of gamers have experienced this. Gamers, just like corporate employees, can be targets for threat actors that can bully them online, compromise their machines, steal their information, and even hack other accounts.

PM: What’s the best way to game safely? LVDH: Players should only buy titles from official sources to avoid installing malware. Even using a dedicated card for your gaming purchases that can be topped up as required means that if you do get compromised, the amount of money that can be potentially stolen would be kept to a minimum. Of course, setting up two-factor authentication for the account is essential to mitigate the risk of password compromises.

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PHOTOGRAPHY: PIXABAY, COURTESY IMAGES

Cybercriminals prey on weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Be sure to keep all anti-virus and -malware software up to date.

TEC HNOLOGY

PODCASTING

Ever considered hosting a podcast? Perhaps you’ve got an X-factor voice, a great idea, and a lot to say. So your brand and concept are sorted – now all you need is the right gear…

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/ BY CLARE MATTHES /

THE TECH You’ve heard it said that content is key, and it is. But we all know that if the quality of the audio is not good enough, the show might not get the chance it deserves. Your audio needs to be non-distracting, and good-quality sound is part and parcel of podcasting. However, you don’t have to spend heaps of money on equipment.

THE NO-BUDGET NEWBIE The most basic approach is a cheap USB microphone (mic) for around R500 that simply plugs into your computer. ‘You just record,’ says Heinrich Schulz from Toms in Rivonia, Johannesburg. ‘The problem with cheap stuff, though, is that the quality can be horrible, and it could sound as if you work out of a bathroom.’ Still, in an environment with good acoustics and low noise, this might be all you need to practise the craft and build confidence before you take the plunge and part with more of your hard-earned cash.

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TEC HNOLOGY

PODCASTING

Above: Getting into podcasting can swallow up a lot of money if you opt for a tech-heavy set-up, or you can take the inexpensive route with a computer and USB mic.

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THE INBETWEENER

THE ‘BIT OF BUDGET’ NOVICE

‘The better option is a condenser lavalier mic – also known as a lapel mic or lav mic – that you plug directly into your phone to record,’ explains Schulz. A condenser mic uses the power from the phone to work; batteries are not included and don’t need to be. ‘Priced at around R2 000 for a Rode or a Shure mic, it’s a great place to start, if you’re still only dabbling with the idea of podcasting and just want to try your hand at it first,’ says Schulz. ‘But a lav mic can make your podcast sound very professional.’ On top of that, Schulz recommends getting a good set of headphones. ‘I think it’s very important to hear yourself speak because it gives you the chance to hone that entertaining “radio voice” you really need for podcasting.’

If you have some money to play with, consider a USB mic from a reputable manufacturer such as Shure or Rode. The condenser USB mics require power to work, which is generally drawn from the device to which it’s connected. ‘The power activates a capsule inside the microphone that gives you better, clearer quality of sound.’ Be aware though that the condenser USB mic picks up any ambient noise, and if you don’t have an acoustically treated area, this can be very distracting for the listeners. All USB mics have a headphone output, so as soon as you’re plugged into your computer, you can hear yourself on your headphones. ‘Prices for decent USB mics range from R2 000 to R3 000, and there are many different brands available.’

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TOP TIP

DO YOU NEED A MIXER?

Before hosting your finished podcast, it’s a good idea to run it through something such as The Levelator 2 to level out the audio. This is great for preventing the audio from being loud one minute, and quiet the next, and will improve the listener experience.

There are a few reasons why you want to use a multi-track recorder-mixer combo. If you’re doing a basic single-channel podcast, such as a narration, then you may get away without one. Mixers are handy though when bringing in multiple audio sources, or when adding sound effects. A mixer gives you much more control at the time of recording and greatly reduces the amount of editing or postproduction work on your final podcast. For example, prior to recording, you can set the levels of the mic to suit each individual voice or add in pre-recorded sound effects on the fly – things such as laughter, applause and even pre-recorded interviews.

POSTPRODUCTION Podcast post-production is a personal thing. You may choose to listen back to your recording and cut out every little stutter, stumble or extended pause there is. Others might prefer to leave it exactly as it was recorded – the choice is yours. However, there are a number of ways to edit your podcast with free software options such as Audacity or Reaper.

THE DREAM SET-UP At this stage, you’re probably looking at incorporating some high-tech podcasting equipment. Broadcast radio stations often make use of dynamic microphones. ‘You can get up-close and personal to the microphone, without distorting any sound. The voice is warm, crisp and clear,’ says Schulz. To handle these microphones, you need to bring in that multi-track recorder-mixer unit, but the first thing to look at when it comes to a mixer is how many audio inputs (microphone, phone, audio sources) you need. Will you have a co-host? Will you have guests? Will you be taking calls? Once you’ve decided on the number of inputs, then you can consider which mixer suits your cause. There are numerous options on the market, the most prominent of which being the Rodecaster Pro and the newly launched Podtrak P4 by Zoom.

Right: For that extra level of attention, add in some postproduction work, to refine the audio content, as well as the quality of the sound.

HOSTING

PHOTOGRAPHY: UNSPLASH

Left: High-quality sound is what you should be striving for. Nothing yells ‘amateur’ more than a podcast with a lot of distracting ambient noise.

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Podcast hosting is a story in its own right. There are many different options to choose from, and a lot will depend on your needs and expectations. The best platforms such as Buzzsprout or Captivate charge from around $12 per month (±R180), depending on upload and storage limitations, although many have free options too. Be wary of entirely free hosting platforms, though – they are not necessarily a terrible idea, but it’s important to remember that if you’re not paying for a service, then you are in fact the product.

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PRODUCTS

GEAR &

Must-have hardware for humans on the go

SLOOM WITH A SLOOM mattress, or bed for that matter, gone are the days of struggling to get a heavy, awkward, full-size bed into your bedroom when it comes time to upgrade. And to ensure comfortable sleep, upgrading your sleeping hardware is crucial. Whether you like it or not, we humans spend a large chunk of our lives sleeping, and good-quality sleep makes for better and more productive awake time. Globally, the bed-in-a-box industry is thriving, and locally Sloom is leading the charge. The concept is simple: First, create a high-quality, customisable foam mattress made from four different comfort layers. (You can choose how firm you like it by rearranging the order of the layers. There’s even a split-comfort set-up in the larger mattress sizes, allowing partners to have different firmness ‘settings’.) Step two is to bag the mattress – an essential part of the vacuumsealing process. Then, compress the whole thing to a sliver of its normal thickness using a powerful four-piston hydraulic press that exerts 100 tons of uniform pressure over the entire surface. The bag is then sealed so the mattress stays compressed, then it’s rolled into its box for easy transporting. And

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don’t worry – these high-quality foam mattresses are extremely resilient, and not damaged by the process. Once the compact package has been carried up your three flights of stairs to your upstairs bedroom, the mattress is released from its plastic covering, then simply laid flat on your bed frame and allowed to expand to its original form. While no compaction and air extraction is used in the making of the Sloom bed bases, they too arrive with their individual components neatly assembled in a box. Carry it to where it needs to be, follow the simple assembly instructions, and within about 15 minutes you’ll have the perfect slatted base for your Sloom mattress, allowing for just the right amount of air flow underneath. Mattress: RRP from R6 000 (single) to R11 000 (king extra-length) Base: RRP from R2 000 to R4 400 sloom.co.za

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SAMSUNG THE SERIF 55” QLED 4K HDR SMART TV Serif fonts are classic and beautiful. And so is the aptly named I-shaped smart TV from Samsung, The Serif. It’s a conversation starter that comes with a detachable stand and tiny white remote to match. The thick, white border, the bottom of which you could use as a shelf, is striking, but that’s not the only thing you’ll notice… Turn it on and the HDR 10+ playback and 4K upscaling make whatever you’re watching, or playing, look quite incredible, and that’s just in standard mode. Being smart, The Serif connects to all your favourite streaming channels as well as YouTube using Samsung’s TIZEN operating system. It works seamlessly with voice assistants such as Bixby (‘Turn on Netflix!’), and it supports AirPlay 2, so if you’re an Apple fanatic, you’ll be just fine. Done bingeing your favourite show? You could simply turn off The Serif, or why not flip to something Samsung calls Ambient mode, which is essentially wallpaper for your TV – a beautiful, sometimes dynamic, dreamy wallpaper. A nice touch is that The Serif works with NFC. When the TV is off, place your smartphone on top to stream music or a podcast directly from your device. For those wanting a change from the conventional black box that typically sits in your living room, The Serif is an interesting QLED smart TV that looks beautiful without feeling intrusive. RRP R20 999 shop.samsung.com/za

SENNHEISER HD 350BT WIRELESS OVER-EAR HEADPHONES Earbuds are having a moment (name a brand that isn’t bringing out a pair), but sometimes only over-ear headphones will do, especially for audiophiles. Available in black and white, Sennheiser’s HD 350BT over-ear headphones are one of the most affordable options from the German audio brand. But better-priced doesn’t necessarily mean the best – we found these to be a bit of a mixed bag. While the ear cups are comfortable, their narrow shape and smaller size won’t work for everyone. The 350BT is, however, lightweight and foldable, making it easy to transport. There’s Bluetooth 5.0, allowing for connection to more than one device at the same time. As expected, the sound quality is good (especially voice reproduction), and the free Sennheiser Smart Control app lets you customise your listening experience to a degree as well as update firmware. While you can expect a 30-hour battery life, there’s no way to see how much power is left unless you use the app. We found the headphones would sometimes disconnect from a device or turn off for no reason. There’s no audio jack or fast-charge option, and they don’t come with a carrying case. The 350BT powers up with a USB-C cable; the port sits at the bottom of the right ear cup, along with all the other control buttons, which are small, close together and quite finicky to use. If you’re after decent sound that comes at a good price point, these headphones are a decent option, but for better touch controls (and the option of noise-cancellation), it might be worthwhile investing in a pair of earbuds instead. RRP R2 499 sennheiser.co.za/dealers.php

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PRODUCTS

MEDIABOX MAVERICK MBX4K ANDROID TV BOX

NOT ALL TVs are smart TVs. So what do you do if you want to watch Netflix or YouTube on something other than your phone or laptop? Or, if you’re tired of using your Xbox as a media hub? The solution is an Android TV Box. Gone are the days of flicking between channels when you can watch what you want on-demand – an Android TV box is a plug-and-play solution that can turn any TV into a stream-demon. The Mediabox Maverick MBX4K is a sleek device – compact, square and goodlooking – that sits beneath your TV. Inside the packaging is a little black box to plug into your TV, and a Bluetooth remote. Using it is as simple as plugging it in, turning it on, connecting it to your WiFi and logging into whichever streaming service you prefer. The remote has dedicated buttons for Netflix, YouTube, Google Play and Amazon’s Prime Video, but works well with DStv Now, Red Bull TV, Spotify and Showmax too. (It only supports legal streaming services.) There’s a dedicated button for Google Assistant as well, so instead of tediously typing your search you can simply speak the words: ‘Funny cat videos, please.’ The Mediabox Maverick has Chromecast built-in, so you won’t need a separate device inhand to cast content from your phone to your TV. Some Android TV boxes can be a little complicated and not fast enough for true HD streaming, but the Mediabox Maverick makes it all seamlessly easy. It uses the standard Android TV user interface, so if you’re familiar with Android, you won’t have any issues. One huge advantage is that it’s supported locally, so if you have a question there’s going to be someone who can help. RRP R1 599 mediabox.co.za/product/maverick

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ERGOTHERAPY NETONE MIDBACK CHAIR Working from home is great, right? PJs all day and you get to sit at the dining-room table or even work from your bed. Perhaps you’ve set up a remote office and brought home that pot plant from your desk. As long as you have a fast internet connection, you’re sorted … or maybe not. If you have a desk job, there’s a good chance you spend a chunk of time sitting and staring at a screen. And your back is getting sore because you’re missing your office chair (not your co-workers). Studies show that good posture increases productivity, and reduces pain and pressure on the hips. A good chair is everything and Ergotherapy’s range of physiotherapistdesigned chairs is a dream come true. Endorsed by the Chiropractic Association of South Africa, the NetOne Midback is a fully adjustable ergonomic chair that will transform your workspace and keep your spine, neck and hips happy. It has 3D height-adjustable armrests and five recline positions, as well as extended recline. In short, a lot of sleek levers that enable you to get the fit just right. How high do you want to sit? Are the armrests in the right place? How about the seat – can it slide back and forth to help you find the right depth? There’s even pivot lumbar support – using a turn wheel, adjust the amount of tension of the backrest. The NetOne Midback is an amazingly comfortable chair that looks good and is built to last. Sure, it’s pricey (so is physiotherapy), but after sitting on it for just a few days, we felt a noticeable difference. If you sit all day, there’s no question you need a good chair, and this one isn’t just good – it’s better. RRP R6 200 ergotherapy.co.za

DEFY SOLAR HYBRID RANGE In South Africa, we get a lot of sun, so why not put all those powerful rays to good use? Well, that’s the question that’s guided Defy in the development of the brand’s new range of solar-hybrid appliances. Not only will this innovation serve to reduce our reliance on the country’s electricity grid (which at the best of times isn’t very reliable), but it also brings the wonders of refrigeration to areas and communities that perhaps don’t even have access to Eskom electricity. And effective refrigeration means access to safely preserved food, for longer periods of time, which in turn has positive knock-on effects for people’s nutritional intake. First to be released in the solar hybrid range are two products, a 157 litre fridge-freezer, and a 254 litre chest freezer. With these products installed, users can expect a reduction in power costs over conventional appliances of up to 44 per cent, while the integrated Endura-Chill technology can keep food frozen for up to 49 hours when there’s no power supply at all. Incredibly, when the sun is shining, the devices can operate entirely off solar energy, without the need for grid electricity. There is no need to purchase a separate battery or inverter with these appliances – all the smart electronics are built in. They also come supplied with the required solar panels, and the entire set-up is installed at your home (included in the price) once you’ve made your purchase. RRP R5 999 each (includes appliance, solar panel and installation) defy.co.za/solar-hybrid

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SAMSUNG GALAXY BUDS PRO JUST WHEN YOU thought the Samsung range of Galaxy Buds couldn’t get any better, the Galaxy Buds Pro model is released. If you’re looking for comfortable, top of the range, in-ear headphones with Active Noise Cancelling (ANC), you’ve come to the right place – the Buds Pro are, without a doubt, the best Samsung earbuds yet. Available in three striking colours with a compact charging case to match, they pair easily and come with intuitive touch controls. The case itself is compatible with Qi wireless charging, giving you a total of 28 hours playtime, presuming ANC is off. Three included silicone ear tips ensure a secure fit, and they are IPX7-rated, so they’re resistant to sweat. Most importantly, the audio is exceptional. Inside are custom-built two-way speakers and Dolby Head Tracking technology, which uses a sensor to pinpoint the direction of the audio when you move your head. It sounds a little crazy but the result is so immersive, and so clear. It really adds to the overall listener experience, so much so that using the Buds Pro to make calls is crystal clear. Another big positive is Offline finding – download the SmartThings app to easily track down the Buds Pro. Even if they’re not currently paired with your smartphone, the app will show you the last location they were used. If you’re searching for portable earbuds that offer a true wireless listening experience, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro are a premium pick. RRP R3 999 shop.samsung.com/za

ACER SPIN 5 LAPTOP IS IT A LAPTOP? Is it a tablet? This two-in-one hybrid multitasker from Acer is the perfect portable everyday device. At only 1.2 kg, it’s lightweight, comes with a built-in Wacom stylus, and has all the connectivity options you’ll ever need. While it might seem as though other devices are slimming down as technology improves – losing ports, jacks and other kinds of connections (sometimes even power bricks) along the way – one of the best things about the Spin 5 is that there are still ports aplenty. It has two USB-A ports, two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, a barrelconnector charger as well as a full-size HDMI out, HDCP support and microSD card slot. In addition to all of this, there’s a backlit keyboard, a fingerprint reader embedded into the touchpad, and decent, full-day battery life. The 13.5-inch touchscreen has a taller-than-most 3:2 screen ratio, so if you’re using it to take notes or sketch, the extra screen real estate is a treat. It can be hard to find the ideal laptop for drawing and design, especially if colour accuracy is key, but the Spin 5 and its fast-charging Acer Active Stylus are a brilliant combination. The stylus uses Wacom active electrostatic technology that replicates ink and paper – think 4096 pressure levels to make writing and drawing oh-so realistic. If you’re a student taking notes, a creative needing a machine that doubles as a drawing device or just looking for a flexible, long-lasting and light work laptop, the Acer Spin 5 is one of the best two-in-one devices available right now. RRP R19 999 shopacer.co.za/laptops/convertible

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MASTER LOCK CENTENARY EDITION PADLOCK Master Lock, a global leader in security solutions and products, is turning 100 this year, and to commemorate this milestone, a special limited-edition 100th anniversary padlock is available for purchase. It features a 54 mm-wide covered laminated steel body that offers a very high degree of security, a 29 mm-long and 8 mm-diameter hardened boron-alloy shackle that’s resistant to cutting, and a dual ball-bearing locking mechanism, that resists pulling and prying. The four-pin cylinder with spool pins serves as an effective anti-picking measure. The cover of the padlock is emblazoned with Master Lock’s famous lion emblem, honouring the brand’s proud legacy that dates back to 1921. An engraved keychain is included free with the lock. RRP R1 150 shop4deals.co.za

UNDER ARMOUR FLOW VELOCITI WIND

TEXT: TIANA CLINE, MARK SAMUEL; PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY IMAGES. PRICES CORRECT AT TIME OF PRINT AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE

Under Armour (UA) is always innovating with the design and engineering of their apparel and gear in a variety of sporting disciplines. For instance, 2016 saw them introduce connectivity tech to their running shoes, which has gone on to revolutionise the monitoring of training for novice and elite athletes alike. Brand new from the UA lab is the Flow Velociti Wind running shoes, which boast the lightest midsole technology in the brand’s entire running line-up. Cushioning too has been engineered to be extremely lightweight, yet highly durable at the same time. The Warp upper, featuring supporting tapes, moulds to the foot. These act almost like seat belts, keeping the foot just where it’s supposed to be. But what really caught our attention was the omission of a rubber outer sole. That’s right, a running shoe with no rubber sole! This evolution has cut down on the overall weight, but, conversely to what you might imagine, has improved the shoe’s traction. To enhance performance, the end goal with running shoes is to always reduce, reduce, reduce weight, without compromising strength, and UA has definitely achieved that here. At only 241 g (for a men’s size 9), this shoe is the solution athletes have been seeking for their tempo workouts, fast-paced long runs, and distance road races. RRP R3 499 underarmour.co.za

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T H I S C H A N G E D E V E RY T H I N G / BY JOHN BR ANDON /

The original handheld GPS brought us everything from safer flights to faster door dash deliveries

T

HANKS TO GPS-ENABLED PHONES

and watches, we take for granted that we can easily navigate into (and out of) any place or situation. But it wasn’t until a foggy day in 1985 when an investor and electrical engineer named Ed Tuck piloted a twin-engine Beechcraft Baron across Northern California that

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the widespread potential of an emerging tech began to become clear: What if someone could harness the power of military global positioning satellites (GPS) to enable everyone to navigate the skies, waterways, and roads without aerial maps or radar signals, Tuck wondered. Same now as when they were first launched in 1978, the GPS satellites flying 40 000 km above the Earth send a signal at light speed, and a receiver on the ground reports your relative position. In 1985, the US had launched six satellites, which it used primarily to guide missiles. At that time, a few commercial navigation systems used them, but the receivers were the size of pizza ovens and cost at least $10 000. Tuck wanted something more portable – lighter, that ran off batteries, and crucially, affordable. His dream product cost only $300 (around R600 at the time). To fulfil that vision, Tuck and the engineers he recruited to form Magellan GPS would have to create, invent, or reimagine nearly every component to develop what would become the world’s first handheld GPS device. At the time, popularmechanics.co.za

PHOTOGRAPHY: BIVYSTICK, GARMIN, HUMMINBIRD, MAGELLAN, NORBERT LAU, WAHOO

5 HANDHELD GPS DEVICES THAT DO WHAT YOUR PHONE CAN’T there weren’t even any long-lasting lithium batteries to power these devices. Even the large commercial GPS units had to be wired to an AC power source. And there were no efficient LCD screens, either. So the device Tuck envisioned would need powerful processing chips that were also power efficient. The vital parts were too expensive to make the final product affordable, so Magellan developed their own, starting with the antenna. They found a company that could build one for $75, hundreds less than what was available at the time. Next, they began working with a high-performance chip maker using a new technology called monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC). The chips could run for hours without overheating and in a wide-enough radio spectrum to capture satellite signals. With those parts, Tuck and his team now had their blueprint for a handheld receiver. By 1989, three years after the company’s founding, Magellan launched its first device: the NAV 1000. By the standards of today, it was giant – about the size of a large walkie-talkie. But back then, it was magical. The 700 g device was accurate to within 100 m – enough to be useful. The first units were marketed to boaters, who usually worked from simple maps. Incredibly, Tuck and the engineers had been so successful at reducing power draw that the whole thing ran off six AA batteries, which kept it going up to ‘a few hours’. At $3 000, the device cost 10 times as much as Tuck had hoped. Still, Magellan managed to sell about 500 units the first year. That relative success led to a boom in handheld GPS, creating an entire industry around the technology. Garmin launched shortly after. And by 1995, the United States had a fleet of 24 satellites sending signals down to countless handheld devices. With each new satellite, GPS devices became more reliable and accurate. When Garmin released its eTrex receiver in 2000, it was accurate to 15 to 20 m. Now, just over 30 years since the NAV 1000 went on sale, devices can pinpoint your position to within centimetres. You might call it wish fulfilment for Tuck, who died in 2017. His vision was for a device that allowed anyone to find their location on the planet quickly and easily. The tech his company pioneered accomplished that, and so much more. popularmechanics.co.za

HIKING AND HUNTING GARMIN ETREX TOUCH 35 ± R6 0 0 0 Good for geocaching, trekking, or hunting, the Bluetooth-capable Touch 35 features a 2.6-inch colour touchscreen, compass, altimeter, and 32 GB memory card for storing maps offline. BOATING AND FISHING HUMMINBIRD HELIX 7 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G3 ± R1 5 0 0 0 Land your catch and return to shore with this device, which has a 7-inch screen, more than 10 000 lake and coastal maps, and lets you see 40 m below or to the sides of your boat. OFF-ROADING MAGELLAN TRX7 ± R12 0 0 0 The TRX7 is shock-resistant and comes loaded with more than 160 000 high-resolution off-roading topo and base maps. Audible directions, real-time tracking, and off-course notifications help you find your way back to tarred roads at the end of the day. EMERGENCY COMMS BIVYSTICK ± R11 0 0 0 In serious situations, grab the Bivystick. It pairs with your phone to send emergency texts and to track your location for hours – relying on satellites instead of cell towers, so you can use it anywhere. You buy credits and pay for only what you need. CYCLING WAHOO ELEMNT ROAM ± R9 0 0 0 A full-colour screen lets you easily find and view routes. And high contrast between roads makes it easy to follow directions. Plus, you can navigate to a point on the map, which not all cycling GPS devices allow.

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DRINKS / BY SARAH KLOEPPLE /

The world’s best new brewers just happen to be robots

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W

E’VE SEEN

artificial intelligence take over many tasks in the everyday world – from parking cars to stocking grocery-store aisles. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that AI has found its way into the creation of alcoholic beverages, which often involves a host of different ingredients, flavour notes, and precise recipes. A Swedish distillery and a Philadelphia brewery are among the increasing number of manufacturers

that have incorporated AI and other out-of-the-ordinary technology in their production. Why involve machines in these venerated crafts? Both companies saw it as an exciting learning experiment, but more importantly, they recognised technology’s ability to develop flavour profiles at lightning speed and standardise production. Just outside Gävle, Sweden, Mackmyra Whisky partnered with Microsoft and Finnish tech company Fourkind to create the world’s first AI-generated whisky. The distillery used popularmechanics.co.za

PHOTOGRAPHY: ELENI DIMOU USING GETTY IMAGES (HAND) AND LAKOTA GAMBILL (BEER)

A closer look at robotgenerated beverages machine-learning models on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and AI cognitive services and fed them Mackmyra’s existing recipes, cask types, sales data, customer reviews, and tasting notes. The models could generate more than 70 million high-quality recipes. Master blender Angela D’Orazio reviewed hundreds of them until she landed on five to test in her laboratory. She then chose the best of the batch, a blend now known as Intelligens, which was released in September 2019. ‘What a programme like this can do is process a lot more [recipe] possibilities per second than a human brain can ever do,’ D’Orazio says. But human senses, especially taste and smell, remain irreplaceable. ‘Human context is needed,’ she says. ‘I was involved in every step – I decided on the recipe, I chose the casks.’ Although Mackmyra is the first to use a human-machine collaboration in the distilling process, D’Orazio expects this partnership to proliferate in the future. In fact, several breweries have already done so. Dock Street Brewing Co in Philadelphia has used robots not to develop flavours but instead to help in the brewing process. The brewery partnered with its neighbour Exyn

Technologies – which specialises in drones for GPS-denied industrial environments, such as mines – to create Swarm Intelligence, a pale ale that was released in late January. Dock Street says the new brew is the world’s first drone-assisted beer. ‘Since [the drones] are autonomous, they can take on a variety of tasks, unlike a piece of brewing equipment that was designed to do one thing, one way, and if it breaks, it breaks,’ says Renata Certo-Ware, head of events and marketing for Dock Street. ‘Drones are more intuitive and able to be programmed and reprogrammed in a way that is much more amenable to trouble-shooting and being used for multiple tasks.’ Dock Street head brewer Mark Russell says the brewery and Exyn initially discussed using drones to deliver beer, but the autonomous aerial robots can only hold so much weight. They chose instead to use a drone to add hops into the brewing kettles. ‘On our scale, we’re very much still hands-on,’ Russell says. ‘This isn’t going to revolutionise our brewing. It was more just a fun thing for us to do. But creating a consistent product is always the goal for brewers, and anytime you can remove human error, that’s great.’

TH E D I STI LLE RY U S E D M AC H I N E LEA R N I NG M O D E LS A N D FE D TH E M EX I STI NG R E C I PE S , CAS K

1

DOCK STREET BREWING CO SWARM INTELLIGENCE At 4.9 per cent ABV, this drone-assisted pale ale was brewed with local orange blossom that’s been fermented out, leaving behind floral, fruity notes and a taste of honey. Ekuanot is the dominant hop, but you can also taste Mosaic and Chinook.

2

MACKMYRA WHISKY INTELLIGENS This Swedish single-malt whisky, master blended by AI with supervision from D’Orazio, is described as fruity, oaky, and slightly salty with a dryish end. Mackmyra used smaller casks to produce a concentrated flavour.

3

BULLEIT BETA TEST COCKTAIL With the help of Austrian tech company Print A Drink, Bulleit Distilling Co developed the Beta Test, a light and fruity 3D-printed cocktail. A robotic arm injects suspended beads of coloured lemon oil into a mix of Bulleit bourbon, peach and grape juices, and green tea.

4

CHAMPION BREWING ML AI A Charlottesville, Virginia, brewery partnered with a machine learning company to create ML AI, an IPA with 6 per cent ABV. The AI model used parameters that included IPAs judged at the Great American Beer Festival, the 10 best-selling IPAs in the country, and the 10 worstselling IPAs at a local retailer.

TY PE S , SA LE S DATA , C U STO M E R R EV I EW S , A N D TASTI NG N OTE S . popularmechanics.co.za

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P R OV I S I O N S

PROTEIN BARS / BY P M F OO D TE A M /

Making it through the day without a snack is near impossible. So why not create a healthier option, and make your own protein bars?

WE’VE ALL EXPERIENCED

the 10 am slump. You’ve burnt through breakfast, but lunch is still several hours away. It’s easy to grab an unhealthy snack, but it’ll likely spike your sugar levels, and leave you feeling flatter than ever. To solve this, the PM food team got together to create some home-made protein bars that are not only delicious, but will also provide you with a bit of mid-morning nutrition to help power you through the day.

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What you’ll need: 2 cups muesli ½ cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, mangoes) ½ cup mixed seeds ½ cup peanut butter ½ cup honey 4 tsp coconut oil

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Freezing time: 1–2 hours

Makes: 6–8 bars

1 2 3

TIP Chop any large pieces of dried fruit into smaller bits so the bars stick together properly and don’t break apart or crumble.

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4 5 6

STEPS TO SUCCESS Grease a 20 × 30 cm baking tray with non-stick cooking spray. Mix the muesli, dried fruit and seeds together in a large bowl. Place the peanut butter, honey and coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat and stir until it’s all combined. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Press the mixture firmly into the prepared tray and freeze for 1–2 hours, until set. Cut into slices. Enjoy as is, or cover with chocolate coating.

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P R OV I S I O N S

PROTEIN BARS

What you’ll need: 1 cup protein powder 1 cup oat flour 2 tbsp cocoa powder ½ cup pitted dates, finely chopped ½ cup nut butter of choice ¼ cup honey or agave syrup ½ cup coconut oil, melted

Prep time: 15–20 minutes

Freezing time: 1–2 hours

Makes: 6–8 bars

WHY PROTEIN? Eating higher-protein foods makes you feel fuller, faster. A diet that’s higher in protein helps you to build and maintain muscle mass and strength. Consuming sufficient protein helps you to keep your bones healthy. Increasing protein intake helps to reduce food cravings and unhealthy snacking. If you’ve been injured, a higher-protein diet helps aid recovery.

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1 2 3 4 5 6

STEPS TO SUCCESS Line a 15 × 20 cm baking tray with cling film, covering the bottom and sides. Mix the protein powder, oat flour and cocoa together in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. Press the mixture into the tray, smoothing the surface with the back of a spoon. Freeze for 1–2 hours, then cut into bars, about 10 × 4 cm wide. Cover with chocolate coating and store in the fridge.

TIP Make your own oat flour by blitzing raw oats in a blender or food processor until a fine powder forms. 1 cup raw oats = approximately 1 cup oat flour.

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What you’ll need: 250 g pumpkin, peeled and chopped 50 g dates, pitted 1 tsp vanilla essence ½ cup coconut flour ½ cup vanilla protein powder ½ tsp cinnamon ½ tsp mixed spice

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

STEPS TO SUCCESS Line a 15 × 20 cm baking tray with baking paper, covering the bottom and sides. Cook the pumpkin in some salted boiling water until soft. Add the dates and cover with a lid for 10 minutes to allow the dates to steam. Drain, then mash or blend the pumpkin and dates until smooth. Mix the pumpkin mixture with the remaining ingredients until well combined. If the dough is too wet, add more coconut flour to form a cookie-dough consistency. Press into the prepared tray and freeze for 2 hours. Cut into bars and cover with chocolate coating.

RECIPES AND STYLING: AMERAE VERCUEIL PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDREAS EISELEN/HMIMAGES.CO.ZA

TIP If you don’t have any mixed spice, simply substitute it with more cinnamon.

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P R AC T I C A L K N OW L E D G E

SELF-SUSTAINING GARDEN

HOW TO CREATE A SELFSUSTAINING GARDEN

Shorter trees

/ BY JESSIE KISSINGER /

S

O MANY PLANTS THAT WE ENJOY –

especially trees – are the gift of someone else’s foresight. A sapling in one generation becomes a landmark in the next. My parent’s forest garden, an 8 × 8 m space behind the driveway, layered with trees, shrubs, and ground cover, technically started with the Holtzes. As the prior owners of the home, they planted cedars along the back fence. When my parents moved in 30 years ago, their neighbours had an enormous hackberry tree that dropped seeds into our garden. A few of those seeds grew into trees that ultimately stretched into a canopy above the cedars. Then 10 years ago, my mom dug up two redbud trees, the size of twigs, from her father’s garden when he died and replanted them in her yard. Now, at five metres tall, they form the understory. And last year, we added witch hazel and a buttonbush, carved out short pathways, and laid a ground cover of shade-loving perennials – columbine, oak and palm sedge grasses, and ferns that will someday creep along the ground and cover the soil entirely. We can’t predict who will inherit the garden next, but in a way, the work we’re doing now is for them. Just as the cedars and the redbuds were for us. The key to a long-lived forest garden is biodiversity – and that goes beyond flora. You need to attract and feed beneficial creatures of all kinds, including insects and birds to pollinate plants, spread seeds, and regulate pest populations, as well as microbes and fungi to enrich the soil. Here, Jessi Bloom, owner of NW Bloom Ecological Services and author of Creating Sanctuary, shares some guidelines for designing your own forest garden.

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Herbaceous plants

Ground cover

Bloom designed this garden to grow food in Mill Creek, WA, USA.

Choose plants that like the current – and future – temperature and rainfall of your region as well as the light conditions and soil of your garden. Generally, this leads to indigenous plant choices. Check with local indigenous nurseries to see if plants you like grow in areas with similar conditions to your area. Take into account the climate change projected for your region within your lifetime – be that higher temperatures, increased storm activity and rainfall, or drought. This will improve the garden’s adaptability in the future.

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Mimic forest ecology by selecting plants that occupy different layers of the forest.

Tall trees

Shrubs

Space plants so that they capture as much sunlight as possible. Note the angle of the sun, especially at the summer solstice – the time when many plants are most active – to see how it could impact hours of light and shade. Then block out the plants according to their mature sizes (width and height). Place smaller, sun-loving plants north of taller ones so they’ll get more sun access. Fill shadowy areas with shade-loving plants to take advantage of the leftover sun dapple. Catching as much sunlight as possible maximises photosynthesis, which stimulates the soil biology, which in turn gives nutrients to the plants and improves their immunity. Work with the landscape as it changes over time. When you plant a sapling, it could take five to 10 years to cast significant shade. In the meantime, seed the area around the tree with a sunny pollinator mix of annuals and herbaceous perennials from a local native plant nursery. These plants can cover the ground, activate the soil biology to keep plants extra healthy, build biomass, and attract beneficial insects into the system. Once the shade arrives, layer in herbaceous woodland perennials as the sun lovers recede.

PHOTOGRAPHY: JESSI BLOOM

Provide a constant source of food for pollinators. Make sure that at least three to four varieties of flowers are in bloom throughout the growing season. Add an insect hotel – a human-made shelter for bugs – to house beneficial insects, and a fountain or shallow birdbath for a reliable water source. Avoid plants that are susceptible to diseases or pests in your area. High-yield fruit trees such as apples tend to require fertilisers and often have pest issues and shorter lives. Best case scenario, they’ll produce for about 40 years. If you want fruit, try lowermaintenance varieties such as jujube, which likes a warm, dry climate with sandy soil, or species native to your area. Nut trees can live and produce for hundreds of years. When harvesting, take only what you need. Leave the rest for the critters.

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Be prepared to nurture your garden for three to five years. ‘It’s like having a baby,’ says Bloom. ‘The more work you put in up front, the more resilient it will be down the road.’ Most important: Know how many millimetres of water your plants need per week, track rainfall, and water supplementally when the rain isn’t enough. You’ll probably need to do some weeding. It can also be helpful early on to add mulches, compost, and compost tea to boost the soil’s microbe population. After the establishment period – if you designed it well – the garden should sustain itself, like a wild forest.

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P R AC T I C A L K N OW L E D G E Belt from engine output shaft

MOWER DRIVETRAINS

Transmission pulley

BACK

FRONT

THE 3 TYPES OF

DRIVETRAINS There are two ways to propel a mower: You push, or the mower itself does. And if you opt for one that moves forward under its own power via a drivetrain, you have to choose between rear-wheel, front-wheel, and all-wheel drive. Here’s how each works. 1

Pull the mower’s handle to apply tension to the drive cable and a spring attached to the transmission. The transmission pivots; the pulley at its top moves away from the engine.

2

transmission, pulleys, and drive belts, the gears at the front axle turn the wheels. This leads to better manoeuvrability but less traction going uphill.

3. ALL-WHEEL

This tenses the drive belt coming from the engine output shaft, spinning the transmission pulley.

Once again, pull the mower’s drive handle to tense the drive cable and the spring.

That rotates gears at the rear axle, turning the wheels.

The transmission pivots; the two pulleys move away from the engine.

2. FRONT-WHEEL

That tenses two drive belts, spinning the transmission pulleys.

The process here is much the same as with rear-wheel drive, except the configuration is flipped. As you pull back on the drive handle and tension moves through the cable, spring,

Gears at both the front and rear axles turn all four wheels for better traction, but at greater cost and maintenance as there are more parts to wear out.

3

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PHOTOGRAPHY: TREVOR RAAB

1. REAR-WHEEL

P R AC T I C A L K N OW L E D G E

WOODWORKING

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HOW TO MAKE A MARKING GAUGE DIY PROJECT

3 of 4

A marking gauge is a crucial tool for any workshop. This is how to make one that uses a rotary wedge to lock it firmly into position. / BY TOBIAS LOCH NE R A ND M AT T H E US OD E NDA A L ( T E CH NICA L) /

C

ONTINUING OUR theme

of building hand tools that use wedges to lock various settings into position, in this issue you’ll learn the process of building your own marking gauge. This tool uses the principle of rotary wedging to lock the beam tightly into the headstock. This particular marking gauge is fun and easy to build, and uses very little wood. Search through your box of offcuts for some really nice wood that you’ve perhaps been saving for a special project, or pop on over to rarewoods.co.za and order several spectacular pieces of snakewood, zebrano, Macassar ebony or Masur birch.

Left: A rotary-wedge marking gauge made from Macassar ebony and zebrano (on the left), with a marked-out tenon. popularmechanics.co.za

WOOD FOR THE BUILD

For the making of this tool, we chose to showcase Macassar ebony and zebrano. Thanks to Brendan and Seamus HarcourtWood of Rare Woods South Africa (rarewoods.co.za), who sponsored these beautiful wood species for our project. You can use almost any wood for your gauge’s beams and stocks, but we recommend hardwoods for both, as the action of the locking cam is powerful and softwoods will wear out quickly under repeated use. Macassar ebony and zebrano are really hard, and will stand up to many years of use.

MACASSAR EBONY (DIOSPYROS CELEBICA)

An exquisite timber from Southeast Asia, it’s heavy and hard and historically used for woodworking tools, billiard cues, musical instruments, inlays, veneers and high-end cabinetry. It’s named after the Indonesian port of Makassar, which was a primary export location for this timber. Slow growing, Macassar ebony has dark and dramatic striping ranging from black to dark purple and brown in the heartwood. The sapwood is clearly demarcated and is pale gold in colour.

ZEBRANO (MICROBERLINIA BRAZZAVILLENSIS)

Also called zebrawood, this species is indigenous to West Africa. The zebrano tree can grow to around 40 metres with a trunk diameter of up to 1.5 metres. The heartwood is a light brown or cream colour and has dark blackish-brown streaks, which is where its name comes from. MAY / JUNE 2021

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WOODWORKING

MARKING GAUGE

PROJECT 3 OF 4

All woodworkers use marking gauges. We use them for scribing out lines for chiselling joints or sawing, and for scribing lines to plane boards down to specific thicknesses. All you require for a gauge is two pieces of really nice wood – one for the headstock and one for the beam – and a small, sharpened steel pin or screw for scribing. Because this is such an easy-to-achieve project, why not build two marking gauges and give one to a woodworking friend?

LOCKING MECHANISM Generally, marking gauges made today make use of a thumb screw to lock the beam into a specific position in the headstock of the tool. These modern locking mechanisms are made either from plastic or metal. Our marking gauge is based on examples from a few centuries ago. It employs the geometry of a rotary wedge, more commonly known today as a cam. The simple action of rotating the eccentric beam slightly within the headstock will result in a firmly locked position for use, and rotating slightly in the opposite direction will unlock the beam.

Above: Laying out the octagonal headstock with a compass.

TOOL LIST Build this project using hand tools. Yes, this is usually the advice we have, but there’s a good reason behind it. Not only will you achieve a high level of satisfaction from making them entirely by hand, but you’ll also progressively improve your hand-eye coordination and muscle-memory training. » Marking/cutting gauge » Marking knife » Steel ruler, 300 mm » Mechanical pencil, 0.5 mm » Japanese dozuki or Western tenon saw » Mallet » Jack plane

» Low-angle block plane » Shoulder plane » Bevel-edge bench chisel » Small try square » Cabinetmaker’s rasps and files » Cabinet scrapers » Compass and dividers

MATERIALS FINAL STOCK DIMENSIONS » Headstock: 70 mm long × 70 mm wide × 34 mm thick » Beam: 270 mm long × 20 mm diameter round

SCRIBING PIN » Small steel nail or a short drywall screw, sharpened to a fine point Above: Scribed layout lines on the headstock, ready for sawing. 74

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1.50 mm

STEP 1: Headstock preparation – Cut the wood for the headstock slightly oversized. Clearly mark the centre point on both faces and plane both faces and all eight edges true and square to final dimensions. If you aren’t sure how to lay out an equal-sided octagon with your compass, search for one of the excellent tutorials on YouTube. Lay out the shape of the cam on both faces of the headstock, accurately following the CAD drawings. Scribe all cam headstock lines crisply and clearly. If you’re using a dark-wood species for the headstock, make use of 3M blue painter’s tape and lay it carefully and firmly on to the two faces of the workpiece. Once you’ve scribed the cut lines, you simply remove the tape that’s on the waste areas, leaving well-defined layout lines on both sides of the headstock.

Above: Sawing the Macassar ebony headstock. Below: Drilling out the Macassar ebony headstock on the drill press for accuracy.

1.00 mm

PROCESS

R 10.00 mm

STEP 2: Headstock drilling – Using a 19 mm Forstner bit, drill your beam hole. We recommend doing this on a drill press to ensure the hole is exactly 90° to the faces of the headstock. (Tip: Drill slowly and cut to just over half the thickness of the workpiece. Turn it over and complete the process by drilling from the other side, thus eliminating any tear-out on the faces of the headstock.)

R9 .50  m m

CROSS SECTION OF THE MARKING GAUGE BEAM

STEP 3: Making the beam – Setting your headstock aside, it’s now time to create the beam. If you have a lathe, the beam is quick and easy to produce. The final length of the beam is entirely up to you; we chose a length of 270 mm. If you don’t have access to a lathe, making the beam is a little more difficult, but a lot more fun. Lathe: Turn and sand your beam to an exact diameter of 20 mm. This measurement is critical for the beam to work correctly within the headstock aperture. By hand: Plane the beam exactly square to 21 mm (oversize) and longer than your required length. Mark the centre of the beam on either end and draw clear circles with a compass at a radius of 10 mm. Then plane the beam with a jack plane to form an octagon, by reducing it at the four facemating edges. Now you’ll have a stick that’s beginning to resemble a large dowel. Next, plane the beam with a small hand plane, using shallow passes until you have removed all of the high points, taking care to work to the circles that you drew on the ends. Follow this up with sandpaper using the 20 mm hole template as a guide. (Tip: A simple method to ensure accuracy of the beam’s diameter throughout its length, whether making it by hand or on a lathe, is to drill an accurate 20 mm hole in a scrap piece of wood that is at least 12 mm thick. Use this as a template to guide your reduction of the beam, until it just slides neatly and comfortably through the template throughout its length without being too loose and without binding at all.)

m 27 m

ø 20 mm ø 19 mm 70 mm

HEAD STOCK PLAN AND SIDE VIEW 70 mm 34 mm

STEP 4: Cutting and faring the eccentric cam in the beam – Clamp the beam between two pieces of foursquared stock, a bit longer than your beam. Using a sharp marking gauge and one of the clamped pieces as your reference surface, scribe a line down the centre of your beam according to your scribed layout marks on both ends. This will form the leading edge of the cam. Using a sharp chisel, reduce the beam throughout its length by 0.5 mm ahead of the cam’s leading edge, creating a shoulder. With a shoulder plane, further reduce the surface in front of the cam’s leading edge to a depth of 1 mm. Now, ‘fare’ this area of the beam according to your scribed layout lines with a shoulder plane, card scraper and a little sandpaper as required, gradually faring it in to the 19 mm diameter scribed circle. When viewed from an end, the beam should roughly resemble a large ‘comma’. (Note: When creating the final cam shapes, you’re partially reducing the diameter of part of the beam, and partially enlarging the diameter of part of the hole in the headstock.) MAY / JUNE 2021

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P R AC T I C A L K N OW L E D G E

WOODWORKING

STEP 5: Cutting and faring the eccentric cam aperture in the headstock – Using a small square file, carefully file away the area behind the shoulder line of the cam to a depth of 1 mm. Using a small half-round file, enlarge the hole according to your layout scribe lines, faring the hole perfectly smoothly.

Finishing the marking gauge parts with Osmo Polyx hard wax oil.

STEP 6: Test, fit, test, fit… – Keep

PROJECT 3 OF 4

faring the headstock aperture until it fits the beam. Note, you should testfit only in the position when the cam shoulders of the two parts are mating. When the beam slides comfortably in the headstock in this position throughout its length, you are done. Now, with a very slight twist of the beam in the headstock, you’ll be able to lock the gauge in any desired position. Unlocking, on the other hand, is simply the reverse action. It only takes a little force to lock the gauge.

STEP 7: Making and fitting the scribing pin – This component of your gauge should ideally be a hard piece of metal that is sharpened to a fine point. We used a standard drywall screw and hand filed it to suit. We then drilled a hole and countersunk the screw into the beam 12 mm from the end.

Above left: The MDF template used for exact hole sizes. Left: Crisp layout of the eccentric beam profile. Right: Scribing the cam edge using two boards as the parallel reference.

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BUY YOUR WOOD HERE: RARE WOODS SOUTH AFRICA STARTED BY Seamus and Brendan’s dad Rory Harcourt-Wood back

in 1982, and based in Epping Industria in Cape Town, with a branch in Knysna, Rare Woods has the largest and most diverse selection of timber available on the African continent. There is more than 8 000 m³ of timber available, made up of more than 130 domestic and exotic species. Whether you need large slabs, turning blanks, lutherie parts or anything in-between, you can order your timber online and it’ll be delivered by courier to your workshop door – it couldn’t be simpler. If you’re looking for some really special woods for your latest project, log on to rarewoods.co.za or ring the Cape Town office on 021 535 2004, or the Knysna team on 044 382 6575. Sign up to the Rare Woods newsletter and receive a R100 discount off your first order of R1 000 or more. All online purchases to the value of R1 000 or more qualify for free delivery throughout South Africa.

Using a shoulder plane to create the cam profile throughout the length of the beam.

Our finished rotarywedge marking gauge.

STEP 8: Finishing – Once you’re entirely happy with the action and finish of your new tool, apply your favourite finish to the project. We used Osmo Polyx-Oil 3011 Clear Gloss Hard Wax Oil. We applied three extremely thin (almost non-existent) applications with a non-abrasive pad, and after ten minutes we burnished each application hard by hand with dry, lint-free paper pads. Each application of the Osmo Polyx-Oil was left to cure for a full eight hours, before applying the following coat.

PHOTOGRAPHY: HENK VENTER

TRY THIS: Once you’ve

built this tool, why not build a few more for different applications, such as one with a fitted pencil, and one with a cutting blade instead of a scribing pin?

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IN THE NEXT ISSUE: Continuing to explore the world of wooden wedge tools, we make a variety of practical clamps.

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P R AC T I C A L K N OW L E D G E

DIY WITH KREG

MAKE A BATH

E

VER HEARD anyone

say they’ve got too much storage space in their bathroom? No, thought not. To solve this problem, here’s a simple woodworking shelf project from Kreg, that includes a towel rail.

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ROOM SHELF WHAT YOU’LL NEED TOOLS REQUIRED: » Drill/driver » Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig » Mitre saw » Sander » Tape measure

HARDWARE: 60 16

Kreg 32 mm fine-thread pocket-hole screws Kreg wood pocket-hole plugs (we used cherry wood for our project) #12 × 65 mm panhead stainless-steel screws Auger-style wall anchors 13 mm × 900 mm aluminium rod or wood dowel #0000 steel wool Epoxy adhesive

4 4 1 1 1

WOOD: 4

19 × 38 × 2 400 mm board (we used cherry wood)

PARTS LIST: Quantity

Name

2

Wall brace

19 × 38 × 420 mm cherry

2

Front leg

19 × 38 × 355 mm cherry

4

Side rail

19 × 38 × 290 mm cherry

Slat

19 × 38 × 470 mm cherry

2

Back slat

19 × 38 × 470 mm cherry

1

Towel bar

13 × 510 mm aluminium rod

10

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Material

MAY / JUNE 2021

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P R AC T I C A L K N OW L E D G E

DIY WITH KREG

19 × 38 × 2 400 mm Side rail 290 mm

Side rail

Side rail

290 mm

19 × 38 × 2 400 mm Back slat

Side rail

290 mm

Back slat

470 mm

Wall Brace

290 mm

Front leg

470 mm

Wall brace

420 mm

420 mm

Front leg

355 mm

355 mm

Two 19 × 38 × 2 400 mm Slat

Slat

470 mm

Slat

470 mm

Slat

470 mm

Slat

470 mm

470 mm

13 mm × 900 mm aluminium rod or wood dowel

PROCESS

510 mm

STEP 1: CUT THE WALL BRACE AND FRONT LEGS

25 mm 19 mm

13 mm-diameter hole

Cut two wall braces and two front legs to size from a 19 × 38 mm board, as shown in the cutting diagram above. In the wall braces, drill two holes where shown for screws that will be used to mount the finished shelf on the wall. In the front legs, drill a hole for the aluminium rod that will serve as a towel bar.

38 mm

Front leg 356 mm 5.5 mm-diameter hole (same location both ends)

38 mm

32 mm 19 mm

Wall brace 420 mm

STEP 2: MAKE THE SIDE RAILS

STEP 3: CREATE SIDE ASSEMBLIES

Cut four side rails to size from a 19 × 38 mm board, as shown in the cutting diagram. Then, with your Kreg PocketHole Jig set for 19 mm material, drill pocket holes in these pieces where shown.

Begin assembling the sides by assembling the side rails, front legs and wall braces, as shown, using 32 mm fine-thread Kreg Pocket-Hole Screws. Make sure the pocket holes on the side rails face to the inside. Plug the holes with glue and Kreg Pocket-Hole Plugs that match the type of wood you use for your project. Let the glue dry, and then sand the plugs flush.

38 mm

Side rail

Side rail Plug pocket holes 290 mm 10 mm

LET THE GLUE DRY, AND THEN SAND THE PLUGS FLUSH. STEP 4: MAKE THE SLATS Cut ten slats and two back slats to length from 19 × 38 mm boards, as shown in the cutting diagram. With your jig set for 19 mm material, drill pocket holes where shown. Note that the 10 slats get two pocket holes on each end. The back slats only have one hole at each end. 80

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38 mm

Wall brace Front leg

Side rail

Plug pocket holes 65 mm

Slat 470 mm

38 mm

Back slat 470 mm

popularmechanics.co.za

STEP 5: ADD THE TOP SHELF Add the top shelf assembly by attaching five slats and one back slat, as shown, using 32 mm fine-thread Kreg Pocket-Hole Screws. It’s easiest if you attach the frontmost slat and the back slat, and then space the remaining slats evenly in between them.

STEP 6: ADD THE BOTTOM SHELF

Slat

Now you can attach the other slats to create the lower shelf in the same way.

Position slats with equal spacing inbetween

Back slat

Back slat Wall brace

Slat Front leg Side rail

Wall brace Slats flush to top of side rail and front of leg Flush at the top and front

Side rail

TEXT, PHOTOGRAPHY AND ILLUSTRATIONS: KREG TOOL COMPANY (PROJECT COPYRIGHTED; USED WITH PERMISSION; ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

Front leg

STEP 7: ADD THE SECOND SIDE Add the second side to the shelf assembly using 32 mm fine-thread Kreg Pocket-Hole Screws.

STEP 8: CREATE THE TOWEL BAR To create the towel bar, cut an aluminium rod to length using a hacksaw, as shown in the cutting diagram. Use #0000 (super fine) steel wool to polish the rod to a finished look. Mask the holes for the towel bar in the front legs with painter’s tape, and then cut the tape from the hole with a utility knife. Slide the rod through one hole but leave it shy of the second hole. Add a dab of epoxy to the open hole and a little to the other end of the rod. Gently slide the rod into position. Remove the painter’s tape before the epoxy sets up. If you need to clean up any excess epoxy, you can use denatured alcohol or lacquer thinner.

STEP 9: FINISH AND INSTALL THE SHELF With everything assembled, you can apply a finish of your choice. To bring out the colour of the cherry wood we used, we finished it with a natural oil. Now it’s time to install the shelf. First, locate where you want it on the wall. While holding it in position, poke a sharp object through the mounting holes to indent the wall. Then, drill holes according to the instructions with your wall anchors. Install the wall anchors, and then mount the shelf using four #12 × 65 mm stainless-steel screws.

BUY KREG: Kreg is one of the major international brands stocked at Vermont Sales. View the range at vermontsales.co.za. popularmechanics.co.za

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O C C U PAT I O N

HOW TO BE GOOD AT WHAT YOU DO Kammy Stucker, 4 9, Direc tor of Plant Operations at Hammond’s Candies, Denver, USA

I

Watch the complete MADE HERE video series on YouTube: youtube.com/popmechshow

MADE HERE

LEFT MY JOB IN THE

HOW IT’S DONE

82

Want to do this at home? You don’t need to make the hundreds of sweets per batch that we do. What you’ll need is sugar, water, corn syrup, and colouring. That’s it. Using these ingredients plus a sweet thermometer, heavy saucepan, and possibly sweet moulds, home-made hard candy is only 30 minutes away.’

MAY / JUNE 2021

popularmechanics.co.za

PHOTOGRAPHY: POP MECH EDITORS

insurance industry in 2003. My degree was in fine art; I wanted to make something. While taking a pastry course, I paid the bills working part-time at a candy shop. It was there I discovered a passion for making confections. All of the drawing, painting, sculpture, and ceramics I learned in school collided with my childhood passion for baking. The best part was I could do all of this with three simple ingredients. Then all it really took was one smell during an interview at Hammond’s Candies in 2004 to know this was where I belonged. It took about a year, learning how to pull, assemble, and form hot candy from an open flame and lift 20 to 35 kg of ingredients, to master it. When I made it to fulltime in the kitchen in 2005, I became the first woman in Hammond’s history to do so. Women usually worked packaging because it was ‘too hard’ physically in the kitchen. On my first day, unwelcome looks greeted me. More than a decade later, you bet I’m in the kitchen sweating it out, coming up with new ideas for our candy to put smiles on customers’ faces.

ƵƌďǁŚŝƩůŝŶŐŵĂƌŐŝŶƐ ǁŝƚŚ'W^ďĂƐĞĚ ŵŝůĞĂŐĞĐůĂŝŵƐ

ƐĂůĞƐΛůŝƩůĞůŽŐŬ͘ĐŽ͘njĂ;ϬϭϭͿϬϱϬϬϵϵϵ

DRIVING

PM GARAGE / BY MARK SAMUEL /

LEGEND REBORN The most recognisable off-road vehicle of the past 70 years has undergone a total redesign. We climbed inside and out, under and over, and covered miles of challenging terrain, to get a clearer understanding of the new Land Rover Defender.



CON: A THING (or person) regarded as

worthy of veneration, or great respect. That’s according to my dictionary. ‘Land Rover Defender’ could be added to the list of definitions – surely few would disagree? The brand dates back to the 1940s, when there were no civilian vehicles with four-wheel-drive capabilities. The emergence of Land Rover, an off-roadcapable vehicle from Rover Company Limited, changed all that. Design work on the concept commenced in 1947, and later that year a prototype dubbed ‘Centre Steer’ was produced. The very first Land Rover, original ancestor of today’s Defender, was officially launched in April 1948 at the Amsterdam Motor Show. An excerpt from Epic: New Land Rover Defender, a limited-edition book about the latest vehicle’s genesis, explains that this first model had a permanent four-wheel-drive system ‘that could not be misused by drivers unfamiliar with its operational routine’. A ‘freewheel drive’ was fitted to the front wheels to prevent wind-up in the drivetrain that could cause transmission damage or excessive tyre wear. This was groundbreaking technology at the time, but in the past seven decades Land Rover has come a long, long way. That journey has culminated in the most current iteration of the Defender, recently unveiled in South Africa. While from the 84

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Customers can personalise their Defender with one of four Accessory Packs. The one pictured features the Adventure Pack, with an integrated air compressor, and side-mounted gear carrier, among other things.

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“ popularmechanics.co.za

D E S I G N E L E M E N TS CA R RY C U E S F R O M I TS P R E D E C E S S O R S , R E S P E CT I N G T H E L E GAC Y W I T H O U T B E I N G C O N ST R A I N E D BY I T.

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DRIVING

PM GARAGE

ground up it’s entirely different to any Defender we’ve ever seen, design elements carry cues from its predecessors, respecting the legacy without being constrained by it. The curve of the bodywork, running the length of the vehicle just above the tail lights and below the windows, is an obvious carry-over, as are the alpine-light roof windows and side-hinged rear door with externally mounted spare wheel. The boxy roof silhouette too, albeit more rounded than previous editions, still echoes Defenders of old. And then there’s the unmistakable road presence – sturdy, proud, and perhaps more exaggerated than ever. This vehicle oozes ‘sophisticated’ and ‘capable’ – it’ll take you places, stylishly and comfortably. At launch, three engine options and six specification packs were introduced, and that number’s already swelled. Our test unit for the week was a 110 S 2.0D SD4, delivering 177 kW of power and 430 Nm of torque. New ‘from the ground up’ means design engineers tackled every component afresh; the underlying structure was developed specially for the new Defender, so while some may think it’s more Discovery than Defender, don’t be misled – this vehicle has earned its individuality. The new monocoque body – a first for Defender – is said to be three times as stiff as the previous body-on-frame design, and stiffness is a sought-after trait when navigating the most arduous terrain. Standard features on all models include permanent all-wheel-drive with a highand low-range transfer box, air suspension, Landy’s cunning Terrain Response system, 3D surround cameras to help with parking and overcoming difficult obstacles, LED headlights, Driver Condition Monitor so you don’t nod off and crash, as well as connected navigation, a 10-inch touchscreen Pivi Pro infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That’s right – it’s packed to the hilt with all the features you could want. I can confirm that tackling off-road obstructions is almost worryingly easy – select the correct mode and the vehicle pretty much does all the work – you simply have to steer along the right line. I say ‘worryingly’ because some drivers may end up in situations for which they’re ill-prepared – it certainly won’t be the Defender that’s lacking if you get stuck. 86

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TOWING

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Defender owners like to haul heavy loads. Tow up to 3 500 kg with a maximum 150 kg on the coupling point. Choosing the optional Advanced Tow Assist package allows you to reverse a trailer or caravan while your Defender handles the counter-steering.

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1. Some may argue it’s more ‘Discovery’ than ‘Defender’. Spend some time with it and you too will disagree. 2. The sidemounted gear carrier (with the Adventure Pack) is a great spot to store muddy shoes. 3. The cabin is well appointed, with a rugged feel. Certain elements echo the vehicle’s rich past. 4. With power sockets galore, ergonomic seats and ample legroom, passengers get to travel in style. 5. The looks garner attention, no matter the angle from which it’s viewed.

Step inside the cabin and the accolades continue. I’ve been passenger and driver in many generations of Defender, and pitting this against previous versions is like comparing a private jet to a crop duster. The analogy isn’t fair. The front seats have 12-way semi-powered controls, and the 12.3-inch HD driver display conveys all the info you might need, and more. Auto headlight levelling and high-beam assist come standard, and then, as the spec level rises – through S, SE and HSE – so do the number of premium features. popularmechanics.co.za

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SUSPENSION The Electronic Air Suspension enables you to select from a variety of ride heights, including an ‘access height’ of 40 mm below the normal ride height, to an extended height of 75 mm. An additional 70 mm (making it 145 mm in total) is available, for the most extreme off-road terrain.

FIGURES Vehicle tested: Land Rover Defender 110 S D240 AWD Auto Price: From R1 143 900 Engine: 1 999 cc turbo diesel, 4 cylinders, in-line Max power: 1 177 kW @ 4 000 rpm Max torque: 430 Nm @ 1 400 rpm Top speed: 188 km/h 0–100 km/h: 9.1 seconds Tank size: 20 litres Claimed fuel economy: 7.6 L/ 100 km (combined) Emissions: 202 g/km (combined) 5

PHOTOGRAPHY: PEET MOCKE/MOTORPRESS

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Like a Tardis from Doctor Who, the Defender is much bigger inside than you might expect. This voluminous SUV will happily swallow up a five-member family plus their baggage without any qualms. Buyers can opt for one of four accessory packs – Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban – each boasting distinct features and accessory enhancements. What’s more, using Software-Over-The-Air (SOTA) technology, 14 modules in the new Defender can be updated, without a visit to the dealer, ensuring your vehicle, like a fine wine, popularmechanics.co.za

improves with age. Blending interior comforts with exemplary off-road credentials, such as a maximum wading depth of 900 mm, 500 mm suspension articulation, approach, break-over and departure angles of 38°, 28° and 40° respectively, and ClearSight Ground View technology to help you see obstacles that would otherwise be obstructed, mean few other luxury SUVs can measure up. On-road and off, the Defender excels – the only questions that remain will be subjective, such as disputes about its

looks, and whether it’s ‘Defender’ enough. Its price is also rather intimidating. And if you still have lingering doubts about Land Rover keeping up with innovation, by the time you read this, a plug-in petrolelectric hybrid power train for the Defender, the P400e, will be available for order. In fact, the brand anticipates that by 2030, some 60 per cent of Land Rovers sold will be equipped with zero tailpipe power trains. Defender, it seems, in one guise or another, will be with us for at least another 70 years. We can certainly hope. MAY / JUNE 2021

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RIDING

BMW S 1000 XR / BY PETER FROST /

WILL THE REAL

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S 100 popularmechanics.co.za

0 XR

PLEASE STAND UP?

Tourer, all-roader or crazy superbike? Yes, says BMW. Really? POP MECH investigates.

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MW’S BREAD and

butter is touring, mostly dirt-road adventuring – witness the success of the GS brand. It also has its lauded K and RT ranges, pure road tourers, though their heyday is over; as the world seeks out ever more inventive ways of getting away from it all, road-bike sales have dropped substantially. The rest of BMW’s line-up is a mix of retro bikes, commuters and out-and-out superbikes, unimportant in the larger (sales) scheme of things. All of which serves to ask the question: What the hell is this thing, sitting in my driveway, idling none too quietly in front of me? The answer, suggest the Bavarians, is all of the above. BMW’s updated S 1000 XR is an adventure bike they say, the apparent love child of a R 1250 GS and the mad S 1000 RR superbike – use it to tour, drag race, commute, explore the platteland. This is not entirely true, I discovered. The XR has no off-road ability at all, so let’s get that straight right out the blocks. Bank that realisation and

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all will be well. Ignore it and … well, let me tell you a tale. Cederberg Ridge is a rather sophisticated lodge just outside Clanwilliam, in the Western Cape. It has much to recommend it: astonishing views across a mountain fynbos biome, cuttingedge contemporary design, expansive suites and superb cuisine, taken outside under a blanket of West Coast stars (cederbergridge.co.za). It also has a steep S-bend dirt road winding its way up from the old Klawer road entrance to the top of the ridge. In a car, on a dirt-road bike, it’s no problem. But on the S 1000 XR – especially coming down: a problem. A real ‘wake-up-in-themiddle-of-the-night-what-am-Igoing-to-do’ problem. I managed it, but not without a certain amount of brown-pant terror as the inevitable traction control warnings lit up the dash. Sideways and downwards at the same time, on dirt, on a road bike is no fun at all. The palm-sweater experience was part of a larger tour up the delicious N7 to test the mettle of BMW’s updated blaster. The N7 is every biker’s dream – joining Cape Town to Vioolsdrif on the MAY / JUNE 2021

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BMW S 1000 XR

Namibian border, it’s part autobahn, part mountain pass, well cambered, recently upgraded and, at least through Clanwilliam and around Kamieskroon, spectacularly beautiful. Within 50 km, the penny dropped. The XR is a superbike in dirt-roader drag, wearing the clothes of a GS but wholly a road bike with enormous reserves of crazy to enjoy. Hit the cruise control, check your surroundings, sit back and enjoy, smug in the knowledge that given half a chance, volcanic excesses are possible at the twist of a wrist. Look to the engine to understand why. The four-cylinder 1 000 cc makes 121 kW and manages 114 Nm of twist, impressive figures indeed. But consider where it does that – the torque peak is at 9 250 rpm (the redline is 11 000 rpm). Pootling along on the cruise control at 120 km/h, you’re tracking 4 900 rpm, which means a stonking 6 000 rpm left to play with, should the whim take you. Open the throttle and the response is immediate; the This page, clockwise from bottom left: » Most of the bike’s tech is manageable from the left-hand grip, including cruise control and the variable suspension settings. » The hidden cubby on the tank is ideal for petrol cards and earphones. » The fairing is manually adjustable; it works in two stages. » BMW’s all-new M Endurance chain is selflubricating and requires no pretensioning. Opposite: The riding position will have its critics – part way between cruiser and sportsbike. Better for shorter riders.

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wasps sing, the bike hunkers down and the countryside blurs in double-quick time. It’s then that you understand what BMW means by adventure. It’s not about chasing giraffes on dirt B-roads, it’s about emptying adrenal glands through the Garies switchbacks. Things get even better in the twisties. They’ve lightened the bike and lowered the centre of gravity which, along with some fine Bridgestone rubber and those close ratio cogs, means the bike is chuckable, predictable, friendly and ready for almost anything you throw at it, including overcooked entries and over-excited exits. There’s a balletic element to the whole process, a choreographed dance of dip, drop, surge and sprint that puts a huge smile on your face, time and time again. Moving through space has rarely been this fun. There are issues, however. Most are simply nuisances, but some will irk into the future. The riding position is a sport/tourer compromise, mostly upright but with a degree of forward posture. On long stretches it becomes uncomfortable; backache will be an issue after 250 km. Adding to the discomfort is the saddle, a thin, slippery effort that doesn’t belong on a tourer and ends up numbing everything south of the belt. Good thing then that the bike’s relatively small tank (20 litres) needs filling every couple of hours if you’ve popularmechanics.co.za

The XR is a superbike in dirt-roader drag, wearing the clothes of a GS but wholly a road bike with enormous reserves of crazy to enjoy. popularmechanics.co.za

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RIDING

BMW S 1000 XR

SPECS ENGINE Engine: 999 cc water/ oil-cooled, 4-cylinders, in-line Bore and stroke: 80 mm × 49.7 mm Compression ratio: 12.5: 1 Max power: 121 kW @ 11 000 rpm Max torque: 114 Nm @ 9 250 rpm

PERFORMANCE Top speed: 210 km/h 0–100 km/h: 3.3 seconds Tank size: 20 litres Economy: (actual) 6.3 L/100 km Range: 300–400 km, depending on riding style

TECHNICAL Transmission: 6-speed synchromesh gearbox with spur gears Drive: Chain, 17/45 Front suspension: Upside-down telescopic fork, diameter 45 mm, electronic self-adjusting rebound/compression damping (Dynamic ESA) Rear suspension: Aluminium double-sided swing-arm, central spring strut, electronic preload adjuster, electronic self-adjusting rebound/ compression damping (Dynamic ESA) Front tyre: 120/70 ZR 17 Rear tyre: 190/55 ZR 17 Wheelbase: 1 522 mm Length: 2 333 mm Seat height: 840 mm Measured kerb weight: 226 kg

Above: BMW’s newly developed Flex Frame suspension gives the engine a more pronounced load-bearing function. It’s comfortable over most surfaces. » The all-new 6.5-inch TFT display features three rolling screens; the Core screen shares dynamic information on banking angle, braking and traction control, among others. Below: Included in the Dynamic Pro riding mode is a new Power Wheelie setting; it’s now simple to get the front wheel off the ground safely and easily.

ridden it as it begs to be ridden; regular rest ’n’ walkabouts are simply essential parts of an XR touring experience. Heat circulation from the waterand oil-cooled engine is another bugbear. The effective two-stage, manually adjustable fairing does a good job of deflecting air away from the rider triangle at speed, but at low speeds in warm climes (Springbok in February is a very warm clime), things get decidedly uncomfortable, especially around the feet. However, none of that matters when the XR hits its sweet spot out on an empty, fast intercity road. Sweeping through the granite bubbles outside Kamieskroon, the magic of biking was never so apparent. There’s a connection to the landscape – sounds, smells, temperature variations – that engage you like no car can, and the immediacy and sophistication of the big Beemer’s power delivery means that every mood can be indulged at the twist of a wrist, excited, laid-back, crazy, cool – it’s all possible. It’s not the ideal commuter, can’t do dirt for … well, you know, but as a distance superbike, it eats pretty much everything for breakfast. Kerouac indeed – ‘nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars’. Amen to that, brother.

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PHOTOGRAPHY: BMW

RRP: R274 900 bmw-motorrad.co.za

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D O I T YO U R WAY

Clever tips and lifehacks

WIN WITH MASTER LOCK Write to us with your tip and you could win a prize from Master Lock. This issue’s top contribution has won:

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ALL ON THE LINE When we moved into our house, the only place to hang up our laundry was on some rusty wires, strung between even rustier poles, mounted to brackets bolted to a wall. To top it off, the contraption was in a very shady part of the garden. I priced new washing lines and decided I’d rather try and make a framework myself, inspired by the original wall-mounted system. Using treated construction timber and a few offcuts, I made up two sturdy wooden arms with triangulated support brackets, by sawing the timbers at 45° angles and screwing them together with some decking screws that I had in my workshop. Into the arms, I drilled 10 mmdiameter holes at regular intervals

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for my lines to loop through. Next, I selected a prime, northfacing sunny spot in the garden, which was fortunately right next to our timber boundary fence, so I didn’t have to drill into any brickwork. I attached my roughand-ready brackets to the fence using a motley selection of screws and planks, and strung some rope between the arms to make up the new lines. I’m very pleased with the outcome – essentially free, because it was made with bits and pieces that I had lying around. It does the job beautifully, and supports a full load of towels and bedding in gusty wind. And the best part is that unlike the original version, this one won’t rust! Daniel Rosen

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