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Left: Mike Beachy Head, CEO of Caudwell Marine (left), and Western Cape Minister for Economic Affairs Alan Winde at the launch of a unique, locally developed marine drive, against the backdrop of a turbodiesel outboard motor in SA colours. Below: The Airbus A350-1000 takes off on its maiden flight – with local technology on board.


outh Africa can’t necessarily claim to have more certified geniuses per head of population than anyone else. But at times this country seems to have an impact on the way the world works that’s out of proportion to our size – or at least the size of our economy. It’s a point that two readers make quite forcefully on our letters pages. The first proudly lists the achievements of our armaments and defence industry. Now, love it or hate it (an acquaintance of mine recently blamed an attack of conscience for turning down a position with a serious industry player), there’s no denying the impact of the arms business. Another of our correspondents lustily adds his voice to the chorus, though largely as the build-up to a complaint. We’re smart enough to be able to come up with tech that can blow things to bits and track objects at a distance, he grumbles, but we can’t seem to come up with something as seemingly simple as a homegrown car. We’ve tried, of course, but somehow things stalled. Perhaps it’s because right now we’re saving our best efforts for aerospace. Just a few weeks ago, South Africa had plenty of reason to be interested in the first flight of the world’s newest jetliner, the Airbus A350-1000. The Airbus I’m talking about is the one with wings by Aerosud of Centurion, and satellite communications equipment by Cobham of Westlake in Cape Town. There’s that defence-industry connection again. And that’s just the stuff we can talk about. Another acquaintance of mine who can’t be named shuttles in and out of the country keeping airborne clients (who also can’t be named) happy by designing bespoke in-flight entertainment systems. If you want to know how bespoke, you can’t afford them. The thing is, South Africans continue to contribute in many meaningful ways to the global technology co-operative. In the recent past,

Popular Mechanics has covered homegrown technological leaps as diverse as radical new antennas and the world-first in marine propulsion system that you can read about in this issue. Whether it’s at the extreme high end or spread across the mass market, smart South Africans are turning their ideas into reality. From apps to armoured cars, we’re making a plan. That’s why next month, when we turn our attention to smart homes, one of our focus areas will be innovative ways that people have found of keeping the lights on – these days, the water running, too. We talk to people so far off the grid, they’re practically invisible. Because whether preparing for the zombie apocalypse or finding an easier way to pull out a plug (see this month’s Do It Your Way), we make a plan. It’s what South Africans do.

COMPETITION WINNERS Details online at www.

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VOL 15, NO 6




80 12 On the cover: We take a look back at the all of the best gadgets and gizmos of the year that was and give you a preview of the must-have tech of 2017. This page: A Dutch company has taken electric transportation to the next level with an all-electric open-top submarine that can travel both under and above water.

2 _ JANUARY 2017



12 issues for only R332 (See page 90)





Best of Tech The year’s finest and a look ahead at all of the gadgets you will need for 2017 The CNC movie camera How the film version of Assassin’s Creed is being brought to life George Washington’s eggnog Christmas cheer, presidential style Where entertainment lives Inside the world of ShowMax Digitising Africa’s healthcare Big data + tech = healthcare on steroids Grey is the new fresh All your questions about grey water systems, answered

Does the future of transport not include cars?

42 CRISPR gene editing

From designer babies to curing disease and solving food security, it’s a breakthrough

52 The encyclopedia of cleaning

The A-Z of keeping your world (well, your car and home) clean

60 The truth is in the muck

A blind writer and a sushi chef make gourmet food from bait

66 The great truck

Take a trip to Antarctica with the Polar Nova

68 Making waves

The world’s first 300-horsepower V6 diesel outboard motor

72 Urban mobility: We use solar power to get electric cars going Drives: Pajero/Civic/Mahindra SUV Can you fix your car with apps? Launches: Renault Kwid/Suzuki Baleno/Hyundai Tucson diesel

Asus ZenBook 3 Lenovo X1 Carbon LG V20



48 Open-top electric submarine

32 Urban mobility




A multi-purpose bag that is helping refugees The smartest remote... in the world

80 So you crashed your drone?

Getting started in… canning and pickling Ask Roy Kid’s project: Candy dispenser Shop notes Tools they use



1 From the editor 6 Letters 8 Time machine 10 Calender 26 Great new stuff 100 Do it your way

TESTED page 24


52 32

JANUARY 2017 _ 3



EDITOR: Anthony Doman


EDITORIAL Senior associate editor Lindsey Schutters Journalist Lumka Nofemele Digital content manager Nikky Oosthuizen Proofreader Margy Beves-Gibson


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WE ARE A HIGHLY industrialised and well-resourced, well-equipped state with enough resources, investors and wealth; so, saying that we are a third-world country in this day and age is incorrect. Secondly, we are home to one of the world’s and Africa’s biggest research institutions (CSIR). Finally, we had (and still do possess) some of the brightest, yet most underrated, minds in the world of engineering and innovation. With only those few points mentioned: why is it that we, as a country (or continent for that matter) do not have a car brand we can be proud of? If a somewhat poor country like India can manufacture homemade automobiles in the name of Tata, what then has been stopping

Shine on car’s in your rest to keep ideas with the Bright or stash glovebox ping gear cam of the


or most of us, summer is the only real time we can get out there and commune with the great outdoors in our magnificent wilderness areas. Which means that those of us unused to the ways of the wild need reminding about certain truths. Like, it can get awfully dark out there when the Sun goes down. But why is this a problem in the average campsite, where bloodthirsty maneating beasts are unlikely to lurk? Try tripping over a tent peg or snagging a guy rope in the dark and you’ll understand. Better still, pack some decent substitute sunshine in the form of the torches on these pages. We’ve assembled a group of some mid-range units that (mostly) fit in a cubbyhole, plus a couple of headlamps that in addition to being able to light up your braai effectively are capable of helping you spot distant objects. Thanks to the rise of LED technology, they’re all compact, efficient and damn bright, too.

COLEMAN CXS+ 250 HEADLAMP R699 This is one smart headlamp. There’s light-sensing tech with swipe control, five modes and seriously good 250 lumen output to match the 160-metre range on High. Like its stablemates it features BatteryLock. The CXS+ runs on two AA cells.


Three LEDs make all the difference with Coleman’s CXS+ 250 headlamp.


LED LENSER P14.2 R899 If you’re looking for something that approaches the abilities of tactical lighting devices, then the hefty 365-gram P14.2 (denoting LED Lenser’s professional series) is a good option. Its adjustable 270-degree beam ranges from spot to flood and puts out 350 lumens.




Set on high, the bigger Coleman puts out 330 lumens.


On low setting, the bigger Coleman still throws a pretty decent light and runs for a long, long time.

What a surprise package. The 65-gram LED Lenser M1 can fit into a shirt pocket, yet thanks to its hefty CR123A lithium cell and microcontroller operation, it outshines many bigger rivals. Naturally, you’ll pay for this (in price) and battery life is around 7 hours.


Hard to believe that this kind of output comes from something as tiny as the LED Lenser M1.



With 700 lumens at its disposal (70 on Low) this unit throws a startlingly effective beam up to 300 metres. Average battery time is 7 hours on the High setting and the only real drawback is the lack of an adjustable beam for when you need to light up a wider area.



We took our torches out into the dark to record their real-world performance, with the aid of Edward, aka The Winged White Teddy Bear. All pictures were taken on a Nikon D3200 in manual mode at 1/60th of a second at f5.6, with our furry friend set on a black wrought iron chair against a wall 15 metres distant.



The LED Lenser headlamp on its spot setting was puzzlingly dull – a problem, maybe?

The two-LED Coleman CXO+’s decent area lighting, which extends a fair distance.

Power comes to the fore in the LED Lenser P14.2.


* Items all available at Cape Union Mart. Visit

Performance-oriented outdoor enthusiasts will find the SE05’s feature set useful for everything from hiking to road biking. Its 180-lumen output covers about 120 metres and in addition to its smart dimming, it allows you to focus the light to a spot. Burn time is about 25 hours on its low setting.

COLEMAN CXO+ 250 HEADLAMP R399 A good all-rounder, this one features 250-lumen output with a range of 50 metres on high. Run time is up to 40 hours (on low) from the three AAA cells. Like others in the range, it has BatteryLock.

BatteryLock allows you to disconnect your torch from the battery compartment when it’s not in use by simply swivelling the head. The obvious benefits: you won’t switch it on accidentally and you’ll minimise leaking. However, you do lose the ability to zoom from spot to wide. Range is an impressive 160 metres and battery life is up to 35 hours on the Low setting.

* On high setting, Coleman’s 250 puts in an impressive showing. _ DECEMBER 2016

LED LENSER T7.2 R750 This compact torch weighs only 198 grams. It uses what LED Lenser calls Power Transformation Tech to produce 200 lumens output and is said to be favoured by military and police forces around the world for its solid, practical design and rugged aluminium case. That means it should do a pretty good job at lighting your way to the ablution block. It uses 4 AAA batteries, and has an effective range of 210m. Depending on use, the batteries can last up to 60 hours



The middle-ranger of our LED Lenser trio on its spot setting.


BRIGHT IDEAS DEPT Your article in the December issue about the importance of owning a torch refers. No arguments about it: I, too, have a torch in the side pocket of my car in case of emergency. But when I see the array of torches 6

us all these years? Our controversial past cannot be a justifiable excuse, for almost every nation has had a taste of political oppression and tumult, which has not prevented technological advancements. Also, to think that SA has catered for assembly plants belonging to outside auto manufacturers, excluding our own, is just preposterous. We love travelling the beautiful roads of this country and so, we would also love to travel them in a vehicle that is Proudly South African, too. Or is there perhaps, some greedfuelled, corporate or industrial conspiracy we do not know of, that is preventing this? TSHEOLA ASAVELA BENONI

Write to us, engage us in debate and you could win a cool prize. In fact, this month we take that literally: our winning letter earns a Little Luxury Vitality water cooler + 3 stage tap water filter valued at R1 550. Water is on, well, everyone’s lips, with drought and water quality among the biggest threats facing our society. For many, filtering their water has become second nature and with Little Luxury Vitality that process is easy and affordable. It’s silly to have bottled water delivered to your house, at huge cost financially and environmentally, with diesel truck emissions adding to the pollution. The Little Luxury Vitality water cooler is the most affordable true mini cooler. It provides 7 litres of ice-cold filtered water at your fingertips. Little Luxury Vitality cooler filters exceed both the USA and the European standards; they use NSFcertified filters, are tested by SGS France and approved by the FDA. The 3 Stage tap filter is easy to use, providing healthy great tasting water on tap via to the 3 Stage Silvertech Filtration active carbon cartridge. The guaranteed quality filter has a built in selector switch for filtered or unfiltered. The multi-adaptor fits most mixer taps and is easy to install (no plumber needed). It comes with a 1 year guarantee It’s the perfect gift for your bar, desk, kids’ rooms, next to granny’s bed and on your kitchen counter. Available at Dischem and Makro. To find out more and buy online, visit Send your letter to: Popular Mechanics, PO Box 180, Howard Place 7450, or e-mail popular Please keep it short and to the point. Regrettably, prizes can be awarded only to South African residents.

displayed in your article, I find a major flaw in that they all need batteries. The thing is, batteries are not always reliable and tend to lose their power when left unused in the torch and may fail in an emergency. Or, when needed continuously over a long period, they will fade and die. In my case, a torch left in my car for a long period was useless when I needed it. Since then, I found and bought two battery-free torches. One just needed to be shaken for about a minute to give a good light that would remain unchanged indefinitely without having to be recharged if left unused. The other needs to be squeezed

for a minute to provide an everlasting light. The latter has been in my car for about a year and has not lost or dimmed its light. Each cost about R35 and they are the ideal torches for campers or householders, as they can be manually recharged if the light dims after prolonged use. No batteries required.


TUBES RULE With reference to guitarist “Rocking Robin” Gallagher (How Your World Works, December) I have been playing in rock bands since 1963, including playing guitar for McCully Workshop, a very successful local band from the 1970s. We had two number ones and two hit albums. Interestingly enough, we won the SAMRO music award last year (2015) for a new album, Work in Progress… so we’re still rocking. After officially breaking up in 1979, I started a new band called Late Final, which I left many years ago. They are still going and this is the band Robin now plays for. Small world! On to the tech: Robin was mentioning classic gear; well, here is a pic of my 1967 Vox AC30 guitar amplifier and, next to it, one of today’s equivalents, a Vox VT 40. The new amp is much lighter (better for my back) and packs quite a punch, but the old girl is still unbeatable and is probably worth quite a bit now… what do you say, Robin?


CONTRASTING VIEW I have been reading Popular Mechanics for many years in all its formats since I was a young boy. Unfortunately, I now have reached 75 years of age and, like everything and everyone, my input and output devices are failing me, even with artificial devices attached (i.e. glasses). Normal black on white with a good-size font is good and black on pale contrasting colours works fine. But dark backgrounds are awful. They are impossible to read in my favourite place, my bed. Would you mind researching this matter and, if possible assist me – and I imagine many others – by looking at the contrasts to allow more comfortable reading? While you’re at it, perhaps you could also do an article on converting CO2 to fuel and why nothing is being done to make this available and help to clean up the world.

everyday products? I’m sure both sides would appreciate this forum. Here’s one suggestion: in the
platteland, we still use the old black refuse bags. How about making a white
mark where the perforated line is, to make it quicker to locate? It won’t
cost much but it will make a big difference, especially to the aged and
 partially sighted.


TOWERING ACHIEVEMENT I recently travelled through Upington, where I was amazed at the strange light formation above a tower just outside of the town. It almost looked like a halo around the tower, with what appeared to be solar panels surrounding it. When I reached my destination, many people were talking about the installation.

They all had different stories as to what it was and how it worked. Needless to say, I could not contain myself from asking Google… when there are too many stories, just ask Google. I then found out that this was the Khi Solar Power Tower. I was amazed at the scale: 4 120 mirrors over 576 800 m², focused on receivers in the Power Tower, which reach 500°C, generating 50 kWh of energy and producing a total of 180 000 MWh annually. It is able to store two hours of the produced energy at any given time. I have spoken to many people since and no one is aware of this installation, which I believe is one of three, the other two being in Pofadder. I am sure that information on these installations will make for an interesting article for your readers.


SA PUNCHES ABOVE ITS WEIGHT “Rolling Thunder” (How Your World Works, November), warrants a response. South Africa has always been innovative and a world leader in military technology. Our cutting-edge technology was envied by all the world’s major powers. It is a documented fact that their military attachés and intelligence agencies were on the prowl to acquire our state-of-the art weaponry. Beginning in 1980, the armaments industry reached a point where its technical capability and design, and production abilities were among the most sophisticated in the world. We excelled in light armoured vehicles and anti-tank missiles. Our mineprotected vehicles were used in combat in over 10 war zones. The deployment of these vehicles was a battlefield gamechanger. It was the globally enforced arms embargo that served a catalyst, enabling us to become a world leader in electronic warfare, air-to-air missiles, anti-submarine warfare and hardware such as the G6 155 mm self-propelled howitzer. Our technology was envied by the entire world. Truly, a stupendous achievement for a small country.



IMPROVEMENTS UNLIMITED Thanks for a very stimulating mag. Would you consider a half-page feature in which the readers could submit ideas to
the big manufacturers on how to improve some JANUARY 2017 _




ATMs are so entrenched in our everyday lives, it seems like they have always been around. Actually, “money machines” started to gain popularity in 1973 and the ATM was just one of the machines people used at the time. The TV teller was a device created to foil bank robberies. Clients would not interact with tellers face to face, but instead through a TV interface.


Remember DVDs? Remember portable players? Entertainment on the go now means a laptop or a cellphone, but before streaming services (and illegal downloads) the coolest gadget to have was a sleek portable DVD, so a scant dozen years ago, we rounded up the best portable DVD players for you. Big screen size, long battery life and a light weight were the requirements for a good player – which is actually not so different for what we look for in a laptop, tablet or phone today.


A decade ago, we warned of an Earth-shattering event; no, not the latest US elections, but an uncomfortably large asteroid heading our way, ETA April 2029. We offered suggestions as to how the asteroid could be avoided or destroyed, including nuking it. Currently the Apophis asteroid is scheduled to arrive in either 2029 or 2036. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be ready by then.


This month we spent some time with the e-powered BMW i3, but in 1967 we were asking if electric cars were even a practical possibility. Back then, electric cars were literally stuffed with wires and batteries – in the boot, under the seats and anywhere else the wiring could fit. Another problem was that the cars could travel only short distances and they were not easy to drive, either: regulating speed was the biggest challenge. PM

8 _ JANUARY 2017

Calendar January SUNDAY 1


Popular Mechanics wishes you a Happy New Year

Fans of American football need no reminding that today is the biggest university game of the year, the Rose Bowl.



8 Happy birthday, Stephen Hawking. The world-renowned physicist, cosmologist and author turns 75 today.



Get the most out of your month





The first science fiction film in history, Metropolis, directed by Fritz Lang, premiered on this day in 1927.

Popular Mechanics was published for the first time today in 1902. After the festive season excesses, some sobering discussion in Durban at the 19th International Conference on Food Security and Nutrition.



IN NEXT MONTH’S ISSUE, we look at ways to make your home “smarter”.








In 1878, the first demonstration of Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone was made to the UK’s Queen Victoria at her Osborne House estate on the Isle of Wight.

21 Night Nation Run is a mobile music festival in which participants run, walk, skip or dance their way along the 5 km Cape Town route;

27 28 The Cape Town Motor Show will run from 27 to 29 January at the Grand West Casino.

The Volvo S90 launches in Cape Town today.


In 1961, a 4-year-old male chimpanzee named Ham became the first hominid to be launched into space as part of the US space programme.

Popular Mechanics launched in the US in 1902 with five paying subscribers and was purchased by a few hundred newsstand customers at a nickel (5c) a copy. However, by September the next year, the magazine had become popular enough to begin publishing monthly issues.


27/01 10

20 Inauguration Day for the 45th president of what some would call the world’s most powerful nation.

The Umhlanga Antiques & Collectables Fair takes place on the third Sunday of each month at 185 Ridge Road.


In The Space Between Us, the first Mars-born human has to adjust to life – and love – back on Earth.

10 11 12 13 14




For the first time ever, Time magazine’s Man Of The Year was a machine. In 1982, it was the personal computer that received the accolade.


The Cape Town Motor Show will be held over three days and should be a delight for all motor enthusiasts. The event is an extravaganza of cars, bikes, trucks, drifting, food, music and family entertainment held in two arenas and two exhibition halls. PM _ JANUARY 2017

31 March - 2 April 2017 FRIDAY 10AM- 6PM • SATURDAY 9AM- 6PM • SUNDAY 9AM-5PM LOURENSFORD WINE ESTATE, SOMERSET WEST • Friday Adults R50, after 3pm R40 • Saturday/Sunday Adults R80, after 3pm R40 • Friday, Saturday and Sunday Pensioners/Students R40 • Family Pass (family of four) R150 • Kids 12 and under free

Visit or contact Kathryn Frew on 021 530 3308









2017’S MUST-HAVE TECHNOLOGY For your consideration: a look ahead at technology South African consumers can expect more of in 2017, based on the most exciting things we played with this year. BY A L E X A N D E R G E O R G E

CONSIDER 2016 THE YEAR THAT brilliant innovations attacked all our technological annoyances. It was the year of home Wi-Fi that just works. Phones designed to survive a night out. The year we said “To hell with tangled earbuds!” and found a video headset we’d actually wear. But that’s just the everyday stuff. It was also the year drones got small and smart. The year the fastest zero-to-100 time belonged to an electric vehicle. Seriously. Behold the hardware and software that exemplified the notion that, in ways subtle and grand, technology makes our lives better.

12 _ JANUARY 2017

NOT-STUPID DRONES We’ll look back at the DJI Phantom 4 (above) and the Yuneec Typhoon H (below) as the models that despecialised the drone. Both can follow subjects without your help, steadily tracking a human, car or animal to Michael Bay-like cinematic effect. Both also have object-avoidance sensors. Add that up and you get automated flight without fear of crashing. It’s uncanny when it works: tracking a toddler full-steam-ahead towards a tree trunk, the Phantom 4 halts, hovering until steered to safety. No, unless you’ve got 100 000-plus YouTube subscribers, you don’t need to spend half your salary on a drone. But if you do it anyway, you can finally be confident it’ll be worth it.

HEADPHONES PERFECTED Wireless earbuds were inevitable, but for years all we got were flawed prototypes and dicey crowdfunding campaigns. Now they’re finally available in versions we can embrace: the battery lasts for a typical commute. Fit them with the correct foam tips and they stay put even while running. Most importantly, with Bluetooth’s quiet improvements, the transmitters and software in our favourite pairs, the Earins and Erato Apollo 7s, get more data from phone to earbud, meaning low latency, quick pairing, and sound quality indistin-

guishable from wired earbuds. We like that the Earins automatically pair when you take them out of the case, but we’ll give the Apollo 7s the overall edge for being waterproof and having a transmitter in each ear, which makes it wonderfully difficult to drop the signal. But either option will make the days of untangling cords every time you want music seem downright archaic. We can’t go back.

SIX INDUSTRIAL DESIGN STUDENTS – kids studying how to meld usefulness, inventiveness, and beauty – vetted our picks. Many of which, they noticed, look like stuff Apple might already make. Pretty as that may be, they said we should quit designing things to look like the past. Also, they love drones. We can’t wait to see the future they make.

BOSE GOES WIRELESS Noise-cancelling is when headphones use one sound frequency to cancel out another that would otherwise interrupt the listening experience. In the years since Bose invented the technology, its patents and constant research have meant that no other brand can match it for tuning out combustion engines and HVAC systems. But until recently, Bose has never gone wireless. So at less than 280g and wire-free, its QC35 over-ears are revelatory.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE EARNS ITS KEEP In 2015, venture capitalists were all talking about financial-technology apps, which distill investment decisions to a few taps, then remove the decision part. In 2016, those apps matured and proliferated, making investors out of people who couldn’t define “mutual funds” or “stocks”. Acorns is the best example. It links to your bank account and debit or credit cards, and whenever you spend money, rounds up and stashes the difference in an investment. Once it’s collected at least $5 (about R75), it invests the money based on the level of risk you choose. If you’d prefer no risk at all, Digit is a great alternative. It collects small amounts of money based on your spending habits and puts them in a savings account you can access whenever you like. The drawback: the money earns negligible interest.

JANUARY 2017 _ 13


RESILIENT SMARTPHONES All the major smartphones can now survive a spilled drink. On its own, that’s not a crazy feat of engineering – fine mesh over the speakers, gaskets around the SIM card, extra adhesive. Fitting it into a device that’s sleek and responsive? That’s another story.


1. iPhone 7/7 Plus Yes, losing the headphone jack was a bit of a provocation, and sure, Apple was late to waterresistance. If you’re an iPhone loyalist, just be grateful that your phone can now survive 30 minutes in a metre of water. It’s a relief to anyone who’s ever brought theirs near a toilet.

2. CAT S60 Android smartphone. FLIR Thermal Camera. Waterproof, drop-resistant Caterpillar-hardened tool. The CAT S60 captures thermal images in stills, videos or panoramas, and you can dropkick it into the pool and it will emerge just fine. It’s as tough and functional as it looks. – Dan Dubno

DISQUALIFIED: Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Samsung outfitted its flagship smartphone with an explosive battery, forcing a recall, then a halt of production. Bummer. The Note 7 was an otherwise fast, vivid, brilliant phone – unfortunately, all things that do not matter when you are engulfed in flames. WARNING! Don’t plug in a water-resistant smartphone if it’s wet. If it’s been in salt water, give it a rinse before drying. Wait at least five hours before resuming use.

The Glyph might be the best portable screen around for movies or gaming – except it’s not a screen. Inside the band of the headset – worn parallel to the ground, in front of your eyes – low-powered LEDs shine into an array of millions of mirrors that project images straight on your retinas. The result is a huge, sharp picture; a personal, portable cinema for one that shows just about anything you can plug into with an HDMI cable. Because the Glyph’s visual system mimics the way light reflects off objects in the screenless vision of everyday life, your eyes don’t fatigue. And you can use it anywhere: on a plane, catch a movie on the big screen. At the park, watch your drone’s footage in glorious detail, in real time. If there’s a downside, it’s that if you’re using it in public you may notice people gawking at the odd device on your face. Just remember: sometimes technology’s largest barrier is its own novelty.

WALABOT A stud finder with superpowers: hold it against drywall and the Walabot’s radiowave-sensing system detects the shape and depth of materials in its path with enough accuracy to actually know what they are. Then the visuals – every stud, pipe, and rodent within 10 centimetres of the surface – feed straight to your smartphone. It can’t see through metal, but the technology is good enough that Walabot’s parent company, Vayyar, is further developing it to detect cancerous growths beneath human skin.

TESLA MODEL 3 Much of the discussion around Tesla has to do with its self-driving feature, Auto­pilot, and the company’s promise to evolve transportation. The Model 3 will be our first taste of South Africa’s favourite prodigal son’s vision for a driverless future. Autonomous controversy and the beleaguered Model X aside, Tesla has built a great reputation for refinement, safety and overall build quality in a very short timeframe. If the Model 3 comes to our shores with a R1-million sticker price, an operating range of over 250 km and practical accomodation for


four adult-sized humans will already put it ahead of its main rivals (BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf). The company should also score massive points with consumers if it brings the Powerwall wall-mounted batteries along with it. Expect it to break cover

locally towards the end of the year and early in 2018. All rumours currently point to a Johannesburg brand store and smaller agents servicing the rest of the country. Electric cars aren't for everyone, but it is the best future on offer at the moment. _ JANUARY 2017



RESILIENT WI-FI In big houses filled with iPhones and Rokus, standard wireless routers are woefully inadequate, unable to distribute a strong signal between devices or into faroff rooms. Mesh Wi-Fi is the fix: multiple small routers around the house function as repeaters, sending data upstairs and around corners, blanketing the living space with Internet. Since it only works if each unit is in a conspicuous place, companies like eero (below right), Plume (below left), and AmpliFi (above) sheath their hardware in beautiful, futuristic shells. It’s an investment compared with your current router – a couple of thousand to get started – but think of it as a way to get your money’s worth from your Internet bill.

Our demand for high resolution entertainment is quite taxing on the creative industry and these creators need high-powered tools to cater to us. Meet the Microsoft Surface Studio, a designerfriendly all-in-one desktop that can recline to a drafting table. The trick here is that the 28-inch panel (the thinnest LCD in the world, according to the company), is of the touch variety and supports the Surface Pen stylus as well as Microsoft's new-fangled multifunctional Surface Dial input. This is just the type of machine the company needs to win over the designers ditching their MacBooks. The catch: price and availability may not favour South Africa because, to date, we still haven't been officially blessed with even the Surface Pro product line. And $3 000 is a steep start point before conversion.

Apple can be slow in providing truly smart features, but the list of changes in Apple’s updated mobile operating system, iOS 10, reads like the contents of a giant suggestion box we’ve all been filling for years. While we await similar smart moves from competitors, here are the six Apple party tricks we love the most: When you lift your phone, it automatically illuminates the lock screen and its notifications. 1

The revamped Messages app will bring out the emoji-savvy millennial in you: you can draw stick figures, find pertinent GIFs, even make the whole screen shoot lasers or rain confetti. 2

The Maps app detects when you stop driving and drops a marker, so you can always find where you parked your car. 3

The Mail app can find the fine-print unsubscribe link in an email and make it into a big button at the top of the message, so you can quickly leave the Bed Bath & Beyond mailing list. 4

If some sadist leaves you a voicemail, you’ll see a transcription. Not always completely accurate, but enough to know who called and how urgently. 5


You can delete Apple default apps. Au revoir, Stocks.

SEGWAY NINEBOT I get it. I too mocked hoverboards. Then I used the Ninebot. Segway took the balancing technology from its original person-mover, shrunk it down, and eliminated the risk of spontaneous combustion (so far). You steer by angling your knees, making it easy to ride. If you missed the first hoverboard wave, this is the way to catch up.

JANUARY 2017 _ 15





THE CNC MOVIE CAMERA A secret society of assassins comes to life thanks to a camera that’s as nimble and acrobatic as the characters. BY K AT I E M AC D O N A L D DIRECTORS KNOW WE REMEMBER the auda-

cious shots: swinging between rooftops with Spider-Man. Following a speeding car off a cliff. In the case of Assassin’s Creed, starring Michael Fassbender as the modern scion of a long line of warriors fighting the Knights Templar, director Justin Kurzel wanted to tour a medieval battle scene through the eyes of a hawk. But directors with such ambitions often find themselves ticking down a list of limited options for getting the shot they want. Crane-mounted cameras can capture extreme detail, but are generally stuck in a 15-metre radius and are slow. Helicopters can’t fly within 150 metres of buildings, let alone people, and work only for long shots with little action. Drones lack finesse. So directors end up calling Todd “Hammer” Semmes. Semmes’s company, Spydercam, won a Sci-Tech Award in 2011 for its innovative camera system, which utilises synthetic line, winches and propietary software to

ware. Directors put the camera anywhere they want and, more importantly, can shoot multiple takes with total confidence that the camera will move the exact same way every time. That also makes it safe to use in close quarters with real humans, which came in handy on Assassin’s Creed, since Kurzel wanted to avoid computergenerated effects as much as possible.

Controlled by a director of photography, the Spydercam deftly mimicked the movements of a hawk on the wing.

In this scene, a hawk soars over a heated battle. After overlooking thousands of soldiers, it plummets, darting between them at waist height before flying through archers’ fire and over an ancient wall. Here’s how the Spydercam was rigged to capture the scene without damaging Malta’s 500-year-old buildings.

The rigging was mounted on a crane at one end and aluminium trusses – like those used for rock concerts – at the other. The team put up carpeting and plywood to protect building walls and used water barrels to stabilise lines for the big aerial shot.

Wheeled skates move the camera forward and backward on the high lines that run the length of the scene. Elevator lines below the skates move the camera up and down, and a cross line moves it left and right. Spydercam uses sailing rope, which is lighter but also stronger than steel, to handle camera systems that may weigh more than 250 kilograms. The camera rides a gyrostabilised head mount so it can pan, tilt and roll independent of its flight path.

60 metres

During a 30-second long shot, the Spydercam had to move up and down 60 metres over a path 400 metres long.

16 _ JANUARY 2017



move cameras up to one and a half kilometres in any direction at up to 140 kilometres an hour. It works kind of like a CNC machine: the Spydercam team builds rigging that allows the camera to move freely on the X, Y and Z axes. Then, based on the director’s vision for the scene, they can drive it manually or plug co-ordinates for the camera’s path into their proprietary MOTO soft-

RECIPE • • • • • •

7 eggs, separated 7 jiggers (1 1/3 cups) bourbon 2 cups milk 7 tbsp (heaping) sugar 450 ml heavy cream nutmeg, grated, to float on top of each cup

STEP 1 Using a standing or handheld mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks until they are a lemon colour. “I grew up in an agricultural family in western Kentucky, so there was always integrity to our ingredients – a rural wholesomeness found in real eggs and nice fresh dairy from the farm, not the factory,” Reitz says. STEP 2 Gradually add bourbon to egg yolks, beating vigorously until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. At a lower speed, whisk milk into the mixture until it resembles loose custard. “Although I don’t know the science, my family says the alcohol cooks the eggs. The finesse is how we add the bourbon. We pour it into a Pyrex measuring cup, then drizzle it into the yolks tablespoon by tablespoon, incorporating it very well with each addition.”


GEORGE WASHINGTON’S EGGNOG Don’t buy ready-mixed stuff. Make what they served at Mount Vernon. BY F R A N C I N E M A R O U K I A N



acceptable to drink creamy, booze-laced punch from a dainty cup. Especially if it’s a version of the creamy, booze-laced punch George Washington used to serve over the holidays at Mount Vernon, his plantation house in Virginia. If you think you don’t like eggnog, that’s probably because you’ve had only the overly sweetened commercial variety. “The true version takes time and patience,” says Brooks Reitz (pictured), founder of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co, which makes iconic cocktail ingredients with a Southern point of view. “But it will blow you away.” Eggnog was a British custom transported to the colonies and favoured by settlers who


remained devout Anglophiles. Reitz uses a recipe from those times, passed down (through his “Nonnie”) from George Washington, who also had a large distillery at Mount Vernon and whom Reitz’s family proudly recognises as an ancestor. “We are members of the National Society of Washington Family Descendants, and my great-grandmother was very keen on lineage and traditions,” he says. “Every Christmas, my family unearths our silver punch bowl and prepares eggnog to serve at our house, same as the year before. Everyone is invited. Making it correctly is a rite of passage.” We asked him to walk us through how to do just that.

STEP 3 In a separate bowl, beat egg whites till stiff. Add sugar. Continue beating. Add to yolk mixture. In another bowl, beat cream till stiff. Add to mixture, folding in gradually. Store in refrigerator until serving time. “When the eggnog is done, we transfer it to a Tupperware pitcher and store it in the refrigerator until the next day. You can drink it the same day you make it, but the next day the eggnog will have a luscious density with a foamy, meringue-like top, easily reincorporated by stirring with a wooden spoon. Never add ice. Always nutmeg.”

About 8 servings To serve more friends – you need two batches. Don’t just double the recipe. Make one batch, clean the utensils, then make a second.

High-proof alcohol can cook an egg by causing a chemical reaction with the protein, although the process takes hours. (Bacteria hide in the fat of the yolk for protection, says food scientist Harold McGee.) But the egg doesn’t need to be cooked to keep you from getting salmonella. For one thing, the chances of a washed egg you got at the supermarket carrying salmonella are very slim. If you’re still worried, McGee recommends placing the eggs in a 60˚C pot of water for two hours. It won’t cook the egg, but will kill any festivity-crashing bacteria.

JANUARY 2017 _ 17




Teraco’s Isando data centre, next to O R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg receives 16 MVA of power to run the data centre and cooling operations and is allowed storage of 210 kL of diesel to power the site for 40 hours in a blackout.

It’s easy to get lost in the largest internet exchange point on the continent, but the home-grown video on demand service is managing to stand out. BY L I N D S E Y S C H U T T E R S


the first item on the agenda was to build a customer base. The iOS app went live in that September which then gave the fledgling service access to the high end of the market and a potential foothold among Apple device-toting influencers. A year later the streaming video on demand service reached the 20 million views milestone on the back of the voucher roll out and deals with Samsung, Standard Bank, Absa, MultiChoice, Vodacom and Telkom. The focus now turns to further expansion and improving the quality of service to its existing customers in 65 countries, and that means data. “Streaming video over the internet isn’t difficult, but maintaining a consistently high quality service can be,” explains Mike Raath, head of distribution for Showmax.


“Joining NAPAfrica gives us direct access to the largest peering network on the continent and this will reduce latency and result in faster response times and better customer experience. The ISPs also benefit through reduced transit costs and hopefully pass those savings on to the consumer.” Showmax CEO John Kotsaftis cut his teeth in pay TV, heading up MultiChoice’s Explora project before leaving to get Showmax going, and identifies the high cost of data in Africa as Showmax’s biggest obstacle. “We can streamline the user experience as much as we want, but if data is expensive, people can’t use it. I fought hard to keep the subscription price at R99 to remove friction, that’s also why we have all these package deals with the service providers; to push data costs out of

the user’s mind,” says Kotsaftis. From a user interface perspective the service has taken a leap into the future with a dramatically improved app experience across all platforms. “Our approach is mobile first, which reflects the consumer habits on the continent,” explains Kotsaftis. “We would like to get to a point where you see what you want and simply press play. For that to happen we’re improving our content discovery and personalised service.” This personalised service is dependent on the profile system. Because each Showmax premium subscription allows for two simultaneous streams and has a five-device limit, the team is conscious of family sharing. You can designate up to four different profiles on one billing account and each profile will have different content tailored _ JANUARY 2017

Showmax is a mobile first, but you can access it online through a browser or on the DStv Explora. The DStv app (bottom left) is subject to the design and functionality of the DStv service. (Bottom right) Teraco’s Africa footprint is quite large and important for Showmax expansion plans.

to it – this will bring Showmax in line with Netflix. On the content side, there’s a big push towards original shows. Showmax have already commissioned a couple of projects which should be ready for viewing from quarter three of 2017. While all this development has been quite rapid, the service still lacks a few basic functions. Chief among those omissions is data service detection. At the moment your device requests the content from the service and the service can differentiate between a fixed-line and mobile connection. Content is delivered in the way that would best suit your connection. Users can manually select the quality of the stream. In a perfect world the service would automatically detect which device you’re streaming to and optimise for it. That said, the video resolution tops out at only 720p and is better suited to mobile consumption. Importantly the service allows for downloads and offline viewing,

a feature lacking on other competing platforms. “Our marketing message when we launched was about our content library. We then turned our focus to the download functionality,” explains Kotsaftis. “Every day you have people commuting by train or taxi watching movies and series on their smartphone. They can now have legal access to those same shows and download it when they’re in a Wi-Fi zone. Our advertising for the holiday period was centered on downloading your content at work before heading off on your Christmas break.” With its exclusive content deals (the only video-on-demand service in Africa to carry HBO shows) and constant infrastructure investment (like buying space at Teraco) dovetailing neatly with a seismic consumer shift to on-demand services, Showmax is primed to grow its footprint. Maybe it’ll even topple DStv as the pay TV brand of choice in the Naspers stable.

EXPLORE THE EXPLORA 2 DStv’s latest smart decoder brings all of the same features as the original Explora, but differs in two key ways: > SMALLER HARD DRIVE. Catch Up content is actually stored locally, with a more extensive catalogue available online through Catch Up Plus. With the Showmax shortcut button on the new remote, DStv can reasonably assume that the user will already have the decoder connected to the internet and is also making use of Catch Up Plus. > NEW REMOTE. That Showmax shortcut key eliminates the three menu process to access the service on the Explora.

JANUARY 2017 _ 19



CONNECT THE DOTS, SAVE THE WORLD The Quantified Self and Connected Health: harnessing Big Data and technology in the quest for cost-effective, decent – and smart – healthcare. HEALTHCARE ISN’T JUST ABOUT ensuring you take your meds on time or managing your self payment gap. On a big scale, it involves keeping communities – even nations – healthy in practical ways. For Africa, that’s a particularly thorny task, given a population projected to double to 2,5 billion by 2050, with all the signs indicating that, by the end of this century, 45 per cent of humanity will be African. Worldwide, rapid urbanisation has resulted in a highly developed private healthcare environment while governments struggle to deliver healthcare to the broader populace. How we’ll house and feed everyone will force a radical rethink of healthcare; and, by the way, we’ll be living longer, exposing ourselves to more risk of chronic diseases. “The thing that should be worrying all of us is, healthy people are the basis of a sound economy,” says Simon Carpenter, chief technology adviser at computer giants SAP. The organisation sees its technology as being the potential key to unlocking a solution to the healthcare conundrum. It’s a solution that revolves around the notion of the connected patient, starting with the goal of having a completely personalised, digitised patient record that consolidates clinical and administrative data in a single integrated place, providing unprecedented insights and the promise of proactive patient care and precision medication. SAP’s involvement in healthcare has up to now been largely in managing clinics and hospitals and the patient experience. Its systems are used substantially in organisations such as Netcare,


AFRICA’S DISEASE BURDEN 66% of global disease total in sub-Saharan Africa alone

90% of malaria deaths 70% of people living with Aids 28% of TB cases

Mediclinic and Life Hospitals. But there’s an opportunity to develop this into something more meaningful across the broader community. “Every doctor you have ever visited has a paper-based file on you and me,” says Carpenter. “In South Africa today, that’s probably four or five doctors, that have a file on Simon Carpenter, all of them with details of how I’ve been, what medication I have been on, how I have responded to treat-

ment. And none of it joined up. “At the end of the day, when I next I go to a doctor or if I go to a different doctor, that whole process starts again. We leak insights left, right and centre because our information is not linked. One of the things we are very keen on is using the platforms we have available today to marry this information up so that firstly we can start to understand the patient much better as an individual. “If we can match up all this data and within the boundaries of privacy and ethics, you can understand how a whole cohort of people is behaving. What the health trends are. Where the epidemics are breaking out. What kind of patterns seem to lead to communicable diseases and the like. The data can be inordinately powerful. But only if we can marry it up. That’s really the crucial essence of what we are trying to get done.” South Africa lags a little compared with what we are seeing in the rest of the world. In collaboration with the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, for instance, SAP built a platform called Cancer Links, which allows doctors to collate information from all sorts of cancer patients, not just the few who participate in clinical trials. The idea is to identify links between genes, genetic profiles and the phenotypes of an individual person and how they respond to an individual treatment regime. Of course, less-developed countries face the twin challenges of lack of technology and lack of skills. The good news: technology can help amplify skills. A project in Kenya, aimed at improving prognosis regarding cervical cancer, has field workers equipped with easy-touse mobile devices gathering information and feeding it to a university hospital in Heidelberg, Germany for diagnosis and treatment advice. The idea of using data to improve individual health and, as a result, community health, _ JANUARY 2017


“The data can be inordinately powerful. But only if we can marry it up.”

Provider/ Accountable Care Organisation

is tied up with the idea of The Quantified Self. “People are starting to monitor their lifestyles (using wearable devices and the like) and starting to get much more closely involved,” says Carpenter. “That is a trend that will continue and if we get that right, we can have people take greater responsibility for their own health care. Making them more aware of what’s happening within their body and aware of the consequences of their behaviour, we can make them much less of a burden on the healthcare system right at the front end.” As populations age, we can expect to start to see an increase in chronic disease in older patients. “And one of the challenges worldwide is that people are very poor at taking medication as prescribed,” Carpenter says. “When we speak of the connected patient, think of it as something like a social network for medicine. It’s building a set of capabilities that allow doctors and caregivers to be always connected to their patients, monitoring them and if necessary cajoling them to take their drugs at the appropriate time.” An early product based on the SAP Connected Health platform, seen as an enabler for precision medicine health engagement, is Health Link. Patients can connect via mobile device with their doctors. They can share their daily health data like blood pressure or blood glucose with their doctors. The doctor on the other hand can monitor the status of a patient remotely and can intervene if there is any risk detected. The rich dataset that emerges from a mobile or a wearable device or a combination of these things helps build understanding of what treatment regimes work and which ones don’t. Future developments could include our medical data being taken up in the equivalent of the block chain, in which we will be able to decide whom we want to share elements of that data with. “You can bring that all together and understand how a whole

As chief technology adviser at SAP, Simon Carpenter has the job of helping organisations, particularly the non-IT folk in them, realise the value that technology can bring.

cohort behaves. And you can then start to do some interesting stuff like anonymising that data and feeding it back into the pharmaceutical industry, where it supports research into new drug molecules. Get this right and everybody wins.” The ability to process massive amounts of data, swiftly, is already providing medical professionals with more effective and deeper insights. “One of

the projects we are looking at is personalised medicine for cancer. This can reduce the time taking for gene analysis from two days to 20 minutes. “We are starting to find patterns that people didn’t know existed before. You no longer have lung cancer, but one of 11 different types of lung cancer. That in its own right can take huge costs and waste out of the system. Instead of carpet bombing, you can now use a precision munition.” SAP offers its own employees an industry-first demonstration of the possibilities: COPE, the Corporate Oncology Programme for Employees. A strategic health partner, Molecular Health, provides employees diagnosed with a solid cancer tumour with free access to a molecular genetic tumour analysis and interpretation. This translates DNA sequences into actionable treatment options. Improved healthcare could feed into agriculture and the whole system that sustains us on this planet, Carpenter says. “If we can figure out better nutrition, which may mean figuring out how to farm better, a lot of the diseases could be curtailed because we are eating better and not getting chronic afflications like diabetes and hypertension.” There’s evidence of start-ups realising that there is a lot of data out there that has a bearing on people’s health and fitness and there’s a likelihood that we will see the continued growth of telemedicine. Maybe, in the future, primary healthcare will move from rural clinics to mobile devices and a couple of wearables…

JANUARY 2017 _ 21


GREY IS THE NEW FRESH With the country gripped by drought, residents are urged to save water and many have turned to grey water as a way to reduce their consumption. Lumke Nofemele spoke to Garden ResQ’s Mark Joubert to find out how to recycle. GREY WATER IS USED WATER from the bath,

shower, bathroom sinks and laundry. This fairly clean water is ideal for irrigating the garden, but does have its dos and don’ts. “Installing a grey water system is the best way to save water,” says Joubert. “A grey water system should be connected only to pipes that run from the bath, shower and laundry,” Joubert warns potential clients. “Water from the kitchen sink and toilets is referred to as black water or sullage and must never be used in a grey water system.” Kitchen water often contains animal and vegetable matter, which could affect your garden soil negatively, forming a fat layer in your soil that prevents your water penetration. Chemicals used in your dishwasher are also very alkaline and, this too, could have negative effects on the garden. If you are going to use a grey water system you have to be careful about the chemicals you use every day. “Bath oils, bubble bath and bath salts should be used sparingly,” says Joubert. “There are ranges of chemical-free cleaners on the market – these come highly recommended as they do not harm flora or fauna, even in large doses. General household cleaners are safe in the quantities recommended on their labels. If you are to use your washing machine grey water, please ensure that you use a biodegradable washing powder.” Grey water is best put to use immediately. “Grey water stored for any period of time will be devoid of oxygen, which is a requirement of the plants and lawn you wish to water. Stagnant grey water not only gives off a terrible odour, but is also a breeding ground for bacteria.”


WATER RECYCLING: THE BASICS You will need: A surge tank An irrigation system

66 cm

44 cm

49 cm

Grey water systems can range from R6 000 to R20 000, excluding installation. Luckily the system is relatively easy to install. “A DIY handyman should be able to install a grey water system in the average home,” says Joubert. “However, there is minor plumbing work involved to connect the unit to the existing downpipes.” According to Joubert, maintenance takes no more than five minutes. “Should you notice a slight odour when you irrigate, flush the surge tank with a jet of water from your garden hose once the unit has been disconnected from the main power supply. This direct jet of water will loosen any grime that has built up over the months. A litre of white vinegar may be added to the unit for 30 minutes before activating the pump again. It is good practice to flush the system with fresh water in this way every few weeks.” PM _ JANUARY 2017

● LG V20




LG V20 King of all media THIS PHONE is from the future. The first with Android 7.0 Nougat installed. A second screen/strip that can show notifications or house your quick toggle settings or frequently used app shortcuts. A user-replaceable battery. Micro SD card expansion. 4K video. Manual video and camera controls; and some questionable military certification. Slightly taller, wider and thicker than an iPhone 7 Plus, this might be the most unnecessary footprint on a flagship phone. The top and bottom are actually a special plastic resin that is useful when the phone is dropped and it is precisely engineered to ensure that your screen doesn’t come in contact with the ground when dropped on the corners. But this isn’t a device that’s meant to be used with one hand. This is a 5,7-inch phablet that adds extra functionality as well as size, unlike the iPhone Plus. The V20, for instance, has directional mic controls. I can’t imagine dialling in precise settings for microphone balance and setting the gain on a smaller screen or with one hand. The screen size makes perfect sense for such a powerful media creation device and palming off notifications to the secondary display means those things don’t interfere. On image capture duty is the same 16 MP optically stabilised standard and 8 MP wide-angle cameras from the G5. The selfie camera is down to 5 MP, but adds in a wide-angle view option. Images are crisp, focus is reliable (but not the fastest) and the video stabilisation is good. In terms of media consumption, the V20 streaks ahead with a pin-sharp QHD (1440p) display and a Bang and Olufsen-tuned quad Hi-Fi DAC. The signal converter amp also auto recognises the quality of the audio output plugged in and will adjust for it. Your music has never sounded this good. CONCLUSION: The V20 thoroughly addressed all of the build quality issues I had with

the G5. Abandoning the modular concept was also a great idea, since the only LG G5 “Friend” module I was ever interested in was the B&O DAC; now it’s built inside the V20. I dropped the device a few times – because I have small hands or the phone doesn’t fit all the way in my pants pocket – and the drop protection did its job well. It’s a fantastic device with a few extremely useful features. - LS


5,7 inch IPS LCD QHD capacative touchscreen + 2,1 inch 160 x 1040 pixel secondary IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen Corning Gorilla Glass 4, MIL-STD-810G certified for transit Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core (2x 2,15 GHz Kryo + 2x 1,6 GHz Kryo), Adreno 530 GPU 4 GB RAM, 32 GB storage (test model), micro SD expansion up to 256 GB 16 MP (29 mm, f/1,8) + 8 MP (12 mm, f/2,4) wide angle rear, 5 MP (f/1,9) front 3 200 mAh Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4,2, GPS, Glonass, fingerprint, gyro, colour spectrum, compass R12 000,

TEST NOTES Do not remove the protective film on the rear camera glass because the glass is prone to cracking. The camera protrudes from the back of the device and will get scratched. _ JANUARY 2017



Solid contender

Back in business

What is it? It’s a ThinkPad and draws on a proud tradition of raw power, over-engineering and phenomenal typing experience (thanks to the award-winning scissors lift key switch). Lenovo bought the brand from IBM in 2005 and only improved on the idea of a portable solution that didn’t compromise too much on desktop power and ergonomics. I was sent the 3rd generation 14-inch X1 Carbon for review, which lacks the 180° screen articulation and touch fingerprint sensor of the latest X1 Yoga, but retains the carbon fibre construction and extreme temperature tolerances. ThinkPads were the first laptops certified for use on the ISS, so it’s kind of a big deal.

What is it? The Windows equivalent of Apples MacBook, with all the same drawbacks but a few key advantages. The 12,5-inch device isn’t touch-enabled, but there isn’t much you can squeeze inside an 11,9 mm (when closed) body. It’s light, too, weighing in at only 900 grams. This test unit is the flagship Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM model with the 1 TB solid-state drive, fingerprint sensor and solitary Thunderbolt 3/USB type-C port.

What’s bad about it? For something this expensive and supposedly class-leading, integrated Intel graphics are a let-down. I know the ultimate ultrabook is targeted at business executives, but it would be nice to be able to seamlessly edit 4K video. A lack of SD card reader is also almost criminal, but remedied with two USB 3.0 ports. Battery life should really be better than the average 6 hours I was getting.

What’s bad about it? I’m not yet convinced that dongle life is the kind I want to live. With the current absence of USB type-C or Thunderbolt 3 external drives and peripherals, I’m not comfortable with the idea of using an accessory for an accessory. All blame should be laid squarely at the feet of the Apple overlords and their user-hostile nature: Asus has long proved to be the master of Macbook mimicry. The fingerprint sensor registered false touches when closed.

What’s good about it? It’s a ThinkPad. The screen isn’t the AMOLED touch panel of the latest X1 Yoga, but it’s plenty sharp and detailed and, importantly, touch enabled. Windows device trackpads don’t get much better than this, even though it won’t win any beauty contests.

What’s good about it? This is the fastest laptop I have ever tested. Boot speeds, data transfer and data capture were all far beyond my expectation. It’s also a stunning design. Not as outlandish as HP’s Spectre, but just enough sheen to stand out.

Bottom line: All Lenovo needed to do was run the Dell XPS 13 close and it achieved that with the X1 Carbon. Windows 10 works great with a touchscreen and fingerprint scanner, which this device has, so you’re future-proof for at least two years. Marking down this device for not having the latest iterations of the Intel Core i7 and 16 GB RAM is unfair because there’s a new flagship on the market. As a rugged workhorse, you can’t do better. - LS

Bottom line: I’m very happy that Asus abandoned the Core M approach it took with the ZenBook 2 and decided rather to give its flagship device all the power. I’m still puzzled about how the company manages to keep the i7 from going supernova in such confined spaces. I’m less happy that a Windows laptop manufacturer decided to go single port. I really don’t understand how companies gain by offering a new connector without an accompanying suite of compatible accessories. This laptop brings a lot to the table and is expensive. Only early adopters need apply. - LS

PRICE: R40 000,

PRICE: R30 000, PM

JANUARY 2017 _ 25


E D I T E D B Y L I N D S E Y S C H U T T E R S ( l i n d s e y. s c h u t t e r s @ r a m s a y m e d i a . c o . z a )



DJI Inspire 2 If you’re in the market for a cinematic selfie stick, or you’re an actual filmmaker, the DJI Inspire is the best you can do outside of building your own drone. Camera and signal processing have been dramatically improved with the new Zenmuse X5 camera and new processing engine capable of 5,2K CinemaDNG, Apple ProRes H.265 and H.264 format recording. In addition to cinematic improvements, the flight system gains all the autonomous tricks of the Phantom 4 and adds in Spotlight Pro for intelligent object tracking that dynamically adjusts to free up gimbal movement at the rotation limits. You can also set it to fly a pre-planned path using Point of Interest or Waypoint mode. When the Inspire 2 loses signal, the smart return-to-home


feature will send it back along its original flight path to resume making a beeline when it finds signal again. By far the biggest improvement is the dual cameras, which allow for the pilot and a camera operator to each have their own video feed and camera to control. The master and slave controllers can also be up to 100 m apart without any loss in signal, or broadcasters can plug a controller directly into their transmission equipment to livestream in 1080i or 720p. The craft can accelerate to 80 km/h in four seconds and maintain a maximum speed of 108 km/h. Descent velocity is also a blistering 9 m/s and the dual battery system offers around 27 minutes of flight time. Clearly the Inspire 2 is more of a professional tool than a toy. R45 000, _ JANUARY 2017

Balmuda Steam Oven Toaster Still into bread and love the finer things in life? This is for you. Never suffer the indignation of stale toast again and breathe fresh life into your crusts. This toaster will replicate that fresh-outthe-oven texture without burning the bread or dehydrating it. R5 000,

Beats by Dre Powerbeats 3 Improved fit, up to 12 hours of use from a full charge, “fast fuel” function that gets you one hour of use from a 5-minute charge, sweat resistance and seamless pairing with iOS devices through the power of Apple’s W1 chip and iCloud integration makes these the most desirable Bluetooth earphones on the market right now. From R3 500,

Polar M600 For those on the Android side of the mobile platform divide, the Polar offers very much the same proposition. This is an Android Wear watch with all the water resistance, GPS and heart rate monitoring functions of a proper running and fitness watch. From R5 500,

Apple Watch Series 2 Nike+ It’s an Apple Watch Series 2 with an exclusive band, a few bespoke watch faces and quick access to the Nike+ Run Club app alongside the Watch Series 2 water resistance, GPS and speaker enhancements. From R6 900,

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Google Pixel This is not a drill: Cellucity has pledged to bring the best Android smartphone on the market to South Africa. Now the dark continent can also experience the awesomeness of the voice-controlled Google Assistant and the market-leading electronic image stabilisation that uses accelerometer and gyroscope data to smooth out video. Both models (Pixel and Pixel XL) will be made available so phablet and phone fans can enjoy using the class-leading 12,3 MP camera and unlimited, full-resolution, free Google Photos storage. Details on product support are thin on the ground, but Vodacom will be offering warranty and repairs for extra piece of mind. Stock is expected to arrive in early January because of excessive international demand. From R11 000,

Nebo Tools Z-Bug Bulb Summer nights are best spent outside, to the sound of mosquitoes being zapped by 1 200 V of bug-killing power. This 600-lumen LED bulb fits most light fittings and has 4 UV LEDs to lure the critters away from you and into eternal slumber. From R250,

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II You’re on hallowed micro fourthirds mirrorless camera ground when it’s marked with the letters OM-D. Olympus calls this the most advanced camera it’s ever built and specs include 5-axis in-body images stabilisation, 4K video recording at 30 frames per second, 121-point phase detection auto focus, a 1/8 000s mechanical shutter and 60 fps sequential shooting. It’s a crazy good 20 MP camera. From R30 000,

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Exclusive to Incredible Connection

Baby Monitoring Kit


• 1 Year Warranty (10065962) SS

Catit Flower Fountain You might think the habit of drinking from a tap is something unique to your own particular cat. Guess again. The fact is, cats quite like the taste of fresh, flowing water. With this in mind, cat toy manufacturer Catit has designed a compact drinking fountain for felines. The fountain emits a steady flow of water from its 3-litre reservoir to give cats a seemingly never-ending flow of fresh water. There are three settings to vary the flow. Leaving the flower out of the fountain activates a gentle flow; adding the flower petals causes bubbling water; or, for a gentle stream, add the yellow stamen. The Flower Fountain in available at selected online retailers for about R800.

Home Security Kit


• 1 Year Warranty (10065964) SS

All standard terms and conditions of Incredible Connection & suppliers herein apply. We reserve the right to limit quantities on all promotional items per customer. While stocks last For more information please contact our call centre: 0860 011 700 or visit Inc DTP 6491.

JANUARY 2017 _


iFetch and iFetch Too Has playing fetch ever tired you out more than your four-legged friend? Or does your large-breed dog get a little too enthusiastic for young children to play with? Then iFetch might just be the answer. The device fires a ball to a predetermined distance. The dog then retrieves the ball and drops it into the top funnel to repeat the process. After the success of the initial model, iFetch Too was created for larger dog breeds. The Too version launches standard-sized tennis balls, as opposed to the 38-millimetre balls used in the original. Range can be adjusted to 10 feet (3 metres), 20 feet (6 metres) and 30 feet (9 metres) on the iFetch. The iFetch Too can reach up to 12 metres and has a random setting. At about R2 500 for the original and R3 500 for the Too model (which has a rechargeable battery), this is a fairly pricey toy. Replacement balls can be bought at about R250 for a pack of five.

Nite Ize GlowStreak LED Ball and Spotlit LED Collar The Nite Ize Glowstreak LED ball makes it easy to keep playing with your canine companion even after sundown. The ball’s inner glow is powered by long-lasting replaceable batteries. It’s motion-activated: simply bouncing it about a metre high turns on the light. Made of durable rubber, the ball floats, too. And there are other reasons to invest in a pet accessory that glows: the Spotlit LED Collar is designed to make it easier to find your pet in the dark. The tough plastic collar activates with a simple twist. You’ll find the Nite Ize Glowstreaks (about R300) and Spotlit collar (R100) at selected online retailers.

Ten online shops for pet purrfect shopping:


A Pet’s Life: Epetstore: Furball Pet Products:

Pet Habitat: Pet Hyper: Pet Plus: Reptile City:

Shinga Pet: Takealot: The Gadget Shop: PM _ JANUARY 2017

As seen on DStv


JHB 58152/OJ


With the DStv Now app you can download all your favourite content before you go away, and enjoy it wherever the holiday might take you. Kung Fu Panda S2, Nicktoons 308, Daily at 17:15 DStv Now is available on selected packages and devices. DStv packages differ per country. Monthly Access Fee and PVR required. Terms and Conditions apply.



URBAN MOBILITY You’ll carpool a lot more in the coming decades, or ride a bike to work. Either way, you probably won’t consider a car as your first option for the daily commute. BY L U M K A N O F E M E L E

“I need a car,” I grumble as I reluctantly rise to start the daily ritual of preparing to catch my morning train or bus to get to work. Sometimes, when the public transport system fails me, I take a cab. And then I find myself stuck in endless traffic, watching bikes, taxis and even what I’m pretty sure was a modern day horse and cart pass me by. After paying for my ride, I am left reconsidering whether I want or need a car at all. I am not the only person with these ambivalent feelings towards motor vehicles. I discovered at the Mobility Indaba in Cape Town towards the end of 2016 that, to move forward, we might need to move back – to a society with fewer cars on our roads. Popular Mechanics investigates the alternatives.

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money was invested in making it easier for people who use private cars, public transport investment, management and operations were extensively overlooked.” We’re all the losers, but the carless poor bear the brunt, he says. And squeezing more vehicles on to the road is more a problem than a solution. “The solutions do not lie in creating more space for more cars, but rather in reducing the demand for private travel by increasing vehicle occupancy and shifting travel to other modes and reducing the need to travel for some trips altogether,” he continues. We need to shift behaviour. And that’s exactly what Accelerate Cape Town, a business leadership organisation, aims to do: shift us away from cars. Accelerate’s CEO, Ryan Ravens, doesn’t mince words: “The biggest challenge to our transportation system are single occupancy vehicles – namely, cars.”


ising petrol prices, insurance and maintenance costs, hours spent in traffic and environmental issues have all turned the car into an enemy of efficiency and led big business and government to start thinking of other options for commuters. “Investment in transport infrastructure over the past 40 years has focused on the development and expansion of the road network for general traffic and policies have encouraged the widespread and unconstrained use of private cars,” says Richard Gordge, CEO of Transport Futures. Transport Futures is an independent consulting company specialising in providing planning, management and strategy support to the public transport sector. Gordge identifies twin threats that represent a very inefficient and hugely costly status quo for mobility: increasing levels of car ownership along with very low vehicle occupancies. Car ownership has been boosted, he says, at the expense of public transport. “While

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Why should we even care about alternatives, beyond perhaps avoiding pent-up frustration erupting into road rage? Because too many vehicles equals traffic congestion equals a direct negative impact on production, says Ravens. Inevitably, economic development suffers. “The purpose of the car is defeated if people are stuck in traffic between six and 10 am every day.” The answer: the bicycle. For short distances, at least, two wheels are better, Ravens and his colleagues firmly believe. They see bikes as the future of transportation. A boost for the cycling industry, they say, would do wonders for employment, not to mention the environment. How seriously should we be taking this? For normal everyday South Africans, cycling to get to work and back would probably be a struggle. I for one have never learnt how to ride a bike. That’s not to say becoming a cycling nation is impossible. The Netherlands, for example, prides itself on being exactly that: one out of every four working people in the Netherlands travels by bike. Sjors van Duren, policy advisor on traffic and transport in Gelderland, on the country’s eastern border, is a fierce motivator for cycling. Nobody is better equipped to relate how the Netherlands became the cycling-friendly nation it is.

“The Netherlands used to be a bigger cycling country in the 1940s and ‘50s. When cars became more affordable, governments started planning car cities. This was met with public protests for more cycling-inclusive cities, with mothers leading the way asking for safer paths for their children to travel on their bikes without getting hit by cars,” he explains. The protests led to a change. The Dutch Government invested in and promoted safe cycling and now almost everybody in the country owns a bike. “Kids go to school by bike and, from the age of 16, many travel on mopeds. The bike is also the preferred mode of transport for people over 40 and for the very educated,” says Van Duren. It is widely known that in South Africa a car is more than just a way to get from point A to point B. It is a status symbol as well. In the Netherlands, this is not the case. “Over time, the car changed from being a symbol of wealth to simply being a mode of transport.” The real symbol of success in the Netherlands is not a flashy car. Instead, that symbol of success is freedom, the freedom to choose between using a bike or a car. “A bike is the easiest way to get around cities; it just makes sense to own and use one,” says Van Duren. Of course, there has been opposition to the provisions made for cyclists in the Netherlands. It’s hard to counter the argument by Dutch liberals, for instance, that cars

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The brushless electric motor (top left) is essentially an AC synchronous motor and is the bedrock of the EV industry. Popular Mechanics visited Ewizz Scooters where owner, Andy La May gave us a tour and explained how eBikes work. We also got to give the company’s flagship Volt 6 model a test drive.

reduction in physical effort and a promise of greater range. Andy le May of Ewizz Scooters says that, because electric scooters take up only a tiny fraction of the space on the road and in parking, they could solve congestion problems. “A scooter can zip through slow-moving traffic, making journey times much shorter and much more predictable. The cost of one month’s fuel for a car would run an electric scooter on the same journey for nearly three years, says Le May. And that’s fuel: e-scooters also need little servicing. bring about economic progress. There are undoubted techIn addition to which, e-scooters are for all practical purposes nological gains. Van Duren has had an uphill battle convincing zero-emissions vehicles. “Yes, there are emissions if the electric people of the cost and health benefits of bikes, but he feels scooter is charged using Eskom-generated electricity,” he concedes. that South Africans can be convinced of the same. “But it is still around three times less than the emissions of an “South Africa faces security challenges, but safety comes equivalent petrol scooter and seven times less than a car. If the in numbers. The more people cycle, the more people will feel bike is charged using solar power, emissions are zero.” safe doing it,” he argues. “Cycling The dangers of travelling by bike are could solve the congestion proboverstated, Le May believes. “Bikes and lem, but infrastructure needs to scooters are a very common form of be built to accommodate this. South transport all over the world, so I think from transport in the EU, 2014 Africa actually has a better climate the perception that they are not safe is than the Netherlands, so there are not correct. We need to look at all aspects great possibilities for cycling.” of safety. How about the damage to our Others It helps that the Netherlands has environment caused by cars? This is clear Domestic aviation Railways a highly efficient public transport danger to all our lives. Driving an electric Domestic navigation system to supplement cycling. bike is doing something about securInternational Commuters primarily use trains for ing our future.” aviation long distances; bikes are available It’s a point of view endorsed by for rent at stations. Services such Hiten Parmar, deputy director of as Uber and taxis are mainly used uYilo, an e-mobility technology Interby tourists or people visiting the innovation programme. The biggest national country for business. challenge globally, and SA is no navigation exception, is shifting societies Pedalling a bike can be hard towards sustainable modes of work. Not everyone is up to maktransportation, he says. ing the effort. Let’s not even talk And Parmar sees e-bikes as a about the questions of time, danger practical option for South Africa, and the inevitable sweaty body and even if that would involve a paradigm creased clothing. shift in commuter thinking. Parmar E-power could be the answer. would start by targeting the youth to Whether fully powered by electricity, adopt this mode of commuting, with the idea or by a hybrid set-up that combines pedal of creating a lifelong desire for sustainable transSOURCE: EEA, GHG DATA VIEWER. power with e-assistance, there’s both a port. Feeding into that on a practical level, local


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e-bike manufacture would mean cheaper, more accessible bikes that could be lifechanging for the many who might otherwise be resigned to walking long distances.

Top: La May explains how Ewizz plans to expand into using mobile technology to better monitor the performance of bikes. Above: The Volt 6 electric bike can go for an average of 110 km before needing a charge.

For those who can afford it, there’s Uber. Because, as much as e-bikes might present a solution to one of my many personal transport problems, they might prove to be less useful to parents travelling to and from work or running errands on the weekends. This is where ride-sharing has found its place. Services like Uber and the lift-club app uGoMyWay have made travelling more convenient. Clint Sheraton, marketing manager for the ride-sharing app Taxify, says that it has been well received. Plans are being made to extend the app (currently active in Johannesburg and Cape Town) to Durban and Port Elizabeth. “There is a growing need for apps like Taxify because we offer more convenience. You can request a taxi within minutes, receive instant feedback and charge a competitive price,” says Sheraton. Even so, ride-sharing pricing can still be hefty and the environment still suffers. Enter the Green Cab. The Green Cab is a transport service largely used for guided tours, conferences and transfers. It’s notable for being owned entirely by women. And its fleet, like its name, is green; in other words, environmentally friendly. The fleet comprises cars powered by electricity, low-emission liquefied petroleum gas and biodiesel. “We started the company in the middle of an ecological recession, when there was mounting scientific evidence and increased international consensus that we are living beyond the Earth’s means,” says Green Cab managing director, Amiene van der Merwe. “We believe that the climate change buck stops with us and so we went the extra mile to reduce and compensate for the residual emissions generated by our transport services.” Van der Merwe’s company is busy building a fully fledged cab division that, ironically, aims to empowers taxi drivers sidelined by the e-hailing phenomenon typified by Uber. Social franchise opportunities will be awarded to existing individual




Climate action and the modernisation of the economy are two sides of the same coin, says the EU’s Transport Commission. Reaping the economic and social gains of the low-carbon transition hinges on modernising our notion of “mobility”. In the digital age, underpinned by data and new technologies, mobility means more than getting from point A to point B: it is about a more global, open and competitive space that comprises not just transport, but also connectivity. _ JANUARY 2017

taxi operators who, besides being uncompetitive against e-hailing technology, often drive an ageing internal combustion engine vehicle. “By joining our Green Drive, they will be able to leapfrog into the future by being as aggressively green as possible and operating on a world-class e-hailing platform,” she says. It’s a development that’s inevitable as sustainable transport is becoming more important to key players in the economy, she adds. “And the country will see a shift towards green transport alternatives in the very near future. Given that transport, as a key driver of our economy, is responsible for almost a quarter of all carbon dioxide emissions in SA, this is where the rubber hits the road and where we can make the best inroads in terms of emission reduction. We believe that corporate South Africa is waking up to this fact and is looking for ways to reduce their emissions in an effort to reduce their future carbon tax obligations.” In political and societal terms, too, sustainable transport is assuming ever greater importance and features increasingly on the agendas of cities as they grapple with ways to achieve a low-carbon future. The Paris Declaration on Electro-mobility, for example, states that 20 per cent of all new vehicle sales worldwide by 2030 would need to be electric if we are to meet global emission reduction targets. For Van der Merwe, this is proof that there is the necessary political will to change. “As charging infrastructure improves and electric vehicles become more affordable with improved range and reduced charging times, there is bound to be greater up-take by the public,” she believes. Experiencing what electro-mobility can mean through experience in her company’s initiatives, she adds, will help build the necessary momentum. But it’s not just a mind-shift towards warm and fuzzy feelings: there are very practical dimensions to all of this. “As we drive demand for Green Cab, operators will be convinced that the radically reduced maintenance cost of operating an electric vehicle makes it an ideal vehicle to operate as a cab.” Ride-sharing services are feasible transport alternatives, but not for all. That’s true whether they are eco-friendly or not. I certainly could not afford to take a cab everyday, so what are the options for the average cash-strapped commuter right now? The bad news is that public transport, nationally, doesn’t hack it. It’s in dire need of an overhaul: capacity needs expanding and safety and ageing rolling stock are huge concerns, as is reliability. But there is good news, too. Integration, identified as the cornerstone of future successful public transport systems, is gaining traction. “Cape Town’s MyCiti is currently busy with the roll-out phases and will continue to do so until most congested areas are reached and serviced,” says Gordge. “Integrating public transport is key for commuters. For example, being able to purchase

one ticket that covers your entire trip, even if it means switching modes of transport. You could use a minibustaxi as a feeder service to reach a rapid transit bus station, but only pay one integrated fare.” The Department of Transport is on the same page, though in terms of integrating different modes of transport it’s looking at things more broadly. Although we need to integrate motorised and non-motorised transport, the non-motorised kind should be first option, says Moshe Ramotshwane, the DOT’s deputy director of non-motorised transport policy, strategies and programmes. “The transport system and access to quality are unequal and government needs to work to reform that,” Ramotshwane told the mobility indaba. “The National Land Transport Act needs to integrate all forms of transport and government communication channels need to stay open so that those who do not have cars, those who do and those who don’t want to use their cars any longer all have equal opportunities to travel as they please as efficiently as possible.” Here’s how it could work. “For example”, says Gordge, “there’s the ability to be able to take your bicycle on the train during peak hours without paying an exorbitant fee. The government and businesses need to promote ride-sharing and need to encourage commuters to carpool to work and back as well as supporting cycling as a mode of transport for a full or integrated trip.” And these can’t just be solutions for our current situation. “An ever-increasing majority of the world’s population today lives in major urban centres,” he says. “South Africa is no exception, with estimates indicating that continuing rapid migration to, and organic growth of, primary urban centres will result in four out of every five South Africans living in cities by 2050. “To function effectively, cities depend on efficient, climate resilient transport systems. Without such systems, they fail as economic engines to attract and sustain investment. They become uncompetitive. That results in steady economic, social and environmental deterioration and eventual collapse. Major policy shifts are occurring (that will) constrain private vehicle use and create livable cities through transport and land use planning responses that are becoming truly sustainable.”

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A WEEK WITHOUT PETROL Is tackling the commute without burning petrol – or diesel, for that matter – really just as easy as plugging in your electric car or climbing aboard your bicycle? Yes and no, we conclude after a week-long experiment. (No fossil fuels were harmed in the making of this story.)



Range anxiety is one of the biggest psychological hurdles of electric car ownership, Lindsey Schutters spends a week with the BMW i3 to exorcise his distrustful demons. IT’S EASY TO FORGET about the world’s problems when you’re in the quiet cocoon of an electric vehicle. BMW has polished the i3 to such a sheen that you barely notice the planet’s ills. I’m not an electric car guy. I live more than 30 kilometres from the office, I like taking long and winding drives with my family and I have feverishly argued for the diesel engine on many occasions. But here I am considering the possibility of an i3. Not to own, of course, because that would make things difficult for a second car. And it’s that scenario that is most off-putting. At close to R700k for this model, with the range extender 650 cm3 engine, it’s just too expensive. The car itself is refined and clever enough to justify the asking price, but the paltry 120 km from a full charge (on average) is too limiting. Even if I stayed exactly 30 kays from work it wouldn’t translate to a charge every other day. That would require identical driving conditions on each journey and zero unscheduled excursions. Think of it as a cellphone: the more you use it, the more it will need to be charged and you need to plan accordingly. My last day with the car was a test of forward planning. When I arrived home from work there was about 20 per cent charge left. I knew that I needed to plug it in overnight, but could sneak in a trip to the nearby Pick n Pay if needed. My son wanted to go for a ride, 38 _ JANUARY 2017

so I decided to visit my dad, who lives about seven kilometres away. I say the i3 is the most refined electric car I’ve driven because it is. The batteries, for instance, are in the floor of the car, with the electric motor on the rear axle. The car is very stable and well balanced, but tends to understeer slightly because the battery pack is wide and flat, which spreads the weight to the outer edges of the vehicle. Acceleration is as immediate as can be expected from an electric car – BMW claims 0-100 km/h figures of 7,2 seconds – and always managed to elicit a hearty giggle from my daughter. I even managed to show up a Polo driver who was trying to figure out why the car wasn’t making any engine noises. But the most sophisticated i3 feature by far is the range estimation. BMW has one of the most accurate battery monitoring systems I have ever experienced. If it says 50 km on the range clock, you can expect 50. Because I knew the limitations of my charging options, I was almost entirely reliant on the information the car was giving me. I also travel along the more notorious sections of the N2 highway in Cape Town and can’t risk getting stuck. I set off at dusk with my family loaded in the car and around 25 km left on the range. My dad is a former automotive industry veteran and I value his opinions on cars I test out. I’ve established three test routes near his house of about five kilometres, each with a good mix of fast stretches, tight turns, speed bumps and lesser maintained roads. Another noteworthy feature of the i3 is its strong regenerative braking system. There’s no off-throttle coasting, because the car will bring itself to a halt trying to harvest all the deceleration energy. So gauging an opinion on the drive characteristics means being constantly on the power pedal.

Doing it by bike 5 USEFUL THINGS Preparation. If you can, avoid creased, sweaty clothing by riding in moisture-wicking cycling gear and keeping a set of work clothes at work. Alternatively, wear wool gear such as Core Merino’s products, which naturally suppress smell and control body temperature and moisture while looking classy enough to be workwear. Protection. Fenders, highviz gear, tough tyres and (sadly) personal protection such as pepper spray are all part of a bike commuter’s armoury. Loadability. I prefer to carry stuff on the bike, rather than on my body. Besides making me hot, a backpack raises my centre of gravity and its weight adds to the pressure on my, um, nether regions when in the saddle. Self-sufficiency. At least learn some basic repair skills from your local bike shop and carry a pump and spare tube and essential tools. Comfort. Go as big as possible on the tyre size and, unless your commute is a handful of kilometres, wear bike-specific clothing. Wool is a good compromise, see above. – AD

We left my dad’s place well after bedtime with 15 km left on the range, got home with 10 km left and I put it on charge after getting the children in bed. Much like my iPhone, it got me to around 9 pm before seeking an outlet and I left it plugged in overnight. The range estimation and the distances covered on the last day of my experiment don’t add up because of the electric car’s unique characteristics. I could easily get away with charging once or twice a week if I used it within a 10-kilometre operating radius. Electric motors love stop-start driving. Travelling at the national speed limit is more taxing on the batteries because it’s kind of like running your smartphone screen on full brightness all the time. Could I own an i3? No, because I don’t earn enough to afford one as a second car. I would be very interested in renting one, though. If it could either arrive at my house on a Monday morning (maybe via autonomous drive, when that eventually happens) or I could collect it at a nearby location and then drop it off on a Friday afternoon. That would make sense. That way, I only use the internal combustion engine on weekends, for trips that cater more to its strengths. Like a family road trip. I’d also need a charge point on both ends of my trip. I had a lovely conversation about the future of motoring with my daughter on the way to her school on the last day of my experiment. She’s five and really enjoys big, Americanstyle V8s – her list of favourite cars so far includes the Mustang GT and Infiniti QX80 – but she loves the i3 now. I tell her that she’ll probably own an electric car one day, but one that will never need charging. She’s confused by that last bit, because the technology doesn’t exist yet. She also tells me that she’d rather travel by taxi because she doesn’t know how to drive.

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9 biking favourites



Build up a sweat, save the planet (and time), grow eyes in the back of your head: just another bike commute “IS IT NECESSARY to look like… that when you ride a bike?” It wasn’t so much a question as a put-down by a non-biking colleague on Day 2 of my week without petrol, as I wheeled Steady Eddy towards my desk. By the way, the answer is No. No, I don’t need to wear the Lycra. I don’t need to wear the cleated shoes, the helmet and the high-viz vest or even (and this is a tough one) the padded pants. But I do anyway. I’ve got this thing about feeling comfortable and staying safe. Plus, MAMIL. My commute of a little over 11 kilometres is entirely on tarred suburban roads, door to desk. In the morning peak, using a car could occupy between half and three-quarters of an hour plus fuel, depending on when I leave. It’s light traffic for much of the way, taken at a typical suburban pace interrupted by a crawl when I hit heavy traffic mid-commute. Evenings are usually worse. On the bike, it doesn’t matter when I leave: the ride takes me 25 minutes one way and 35 minutes the other. That’s because I ride northwards to work and southwards home, which happens to be roughly in line with the prevailing winds in Cape Town. (I did it in 18 minutes once when the southeaster was really pumping.) Traffic density is a non-issue, though traffic jamming on two wheels involves visibility, awareness, anticipation and, when necessary, assertiveness, aka Taking The Lane. Convenience and expense vs risk and savings. Riding to work was something I used to do a lot. Because I’ve been focusing on running lately and perhaps because I’ve gotten lazy, I’ve been neglecting my bike. So the petrol-free challenge was a blessing in disguise: I needed to get back in the saddle and I knew that from Day 1 I’d relish the experience. I also knew that on the morning of Day 2 I’d be dreading the thought of lowering a particularly tender, aching part of my anatomy back on to a saddle hewn, apparently, from granite. I’m told you get used to it. 40

You also begin noticing things you don’t see from the driver’s seat. Transverse ripples telling you first-hand about road maintenance backlogs. How an apparently flat road actually isn’t. Deceptively dozy dogs, possibly dozy pedestrians, clearly dozy drivers. How much shattered glass there is in the world. Is bike commuting a serious option? Up to half a dozen kilometres, for sure, and you can do it in regular clothes on any kind of bike. Longer than that and you probably need to think of a bike with gears and loadcarrying ability, of pre-planning and showers. Mountain bikes are great for shortcuts or kerb-hopping, but may fall short on load-carrying. Current reality doesn’t quite support my home city’s grand ambitions for the bicycle as the future of urban transport, although in fairness the planners are trying hard. Cycle lanes, like other kinds of priority lanes, are not necessarily in the optimal place and are routinely occupied by motorised vehicles, often parked. There’s little attempt to integrate bikes with public transport and amenities, from shops to parks. Generally I prefer, anyway, to be integrated in the flow because as a commuter I am traffic.

High-viz vest. Jackets worn by traffic officers, road workers and car guards aren’t at their visible best on a rider hunched over handlebars or wearing a backpack. Plus, they flap and generally cause body heat build-up. A bike-specific design is what you need; my excellent vest is visible, low-cut, stretchy (therefore snug-fitting), and ventilated. Eyewear. Oakley Jawbreaker (about R2 600). Hardly a commuting option, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to have something in common with Mark Cavendish. Besides, airflow management means they don’t fog up on those wintry mornings. Tyres. Continental Gatorskins in 700 x 25 (R600), a fair compromise between toughness and comfort. Lighting. My B&M set-up front and rear, powered by a SON hub dynamo, though outdone by more modern, compact, blowtorch-style battery-powered LED lighting, will stay lit as long as you pedal (and a little longer, thanks to the built-in capacitor energy storage). Pump. Topeak Road Morph (about R600). A folding mini marvel that’s as close as you’ll get to a full-sized floor pump. Saddlebag. Old-school style in a cotton duck and leather Carradice Barley (about R1 300) on a Bagman Sport support; not their biggest bag at 9 litres capacity, but their best seller and the only one that fits my 54 cm frame. Bad-weather gear. For extended rides I prefer a proper waterproof with ventilation, like the Indola fm shell (R900). On bikes like mine, without the necessary fender eyelets, my SKS Raceblade XL (now Pro XL, about R600 plus import cost) uses universal clamps and can accommodate tyres up to 700 x 26. Showers at work. If not, Wet Wipes are your friend. Or a cheap spray mister from a garden store, plus a face cloth. The buff. As bandanna, beanie, balaclava. _ JANUARY 2017





The use of a bicycle as transport – rather than as sport – is gaining increasing traction worldwide, for many reasons, from planet-friendliness to safety, convenience, even style. During the EU’s Mobility Week in September, lots of emphasis was placed on the bicycle’s role in the push towards what’s been called a low-carbon economy. SPECIFIC CAMPAIGNS HIGHLIGHTED INCLUDED: l Work by the University of Aveiro, in Portugal in recording data on transport habits l An initiative by a Spanish company, Urbanciclo, to transport goods by cargo bike in the city of Albacete l A two-kilometre children’s ring road along the bank of the River Po in the Italian town of Casalmaggiore l Campaigners riding 2 000 kilometres from Stockholm in Sweden to the European Union capital, Brussels in Belgium, to advocate for safer cycling l An award to encourage car-sharing in the Netherlands l Casalmaggiore’s Tangenziale dei bambini (children’s ring road) is closed to vehicular traffic and therefore suitable as a road to school. According to the organisers, an NGO called Slow Town, it is an actual ring road with traffic signs, in every way suitable for children. It will be used by children to get to and from school, the gym, the library, and the most attractive places in the downtown area, surrounded by beautiful scenery and sheltered from traffic risk and smog. But there’s plenty of activity on the local scene. By the end of the first quarter

of 2017, the first section of a cycling route stretching from Cape Town to the Southern Cape is expected to be in place. Known as Cross Cape, the route is designed to cater for all levels of riders and covers a variety of terrain from singletrack to gravel roads, district lines and more. Come March, the 160-kilometre stretch between George and Plettenberg Bay should be complete. The development of the new route is being driven by the Western Cape Government, Wesgro, local municipalities and private sector stakeholders in the region. Provincial Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, expects thousands of jobs to flow from the initiative, which he says stands to deliver a major economic boost for the Western Cape, especially for the small towns along the route. Closer to urban life, Bicycle Cape Town is a leading voice in the resurgence of urban cycling and the emergence of the city’s bike culture. “Today, the campaign is supported by a growing network of organisations, businesses and activists, who are passionate about transforming Cape Town into a truly bicycle-friendly city and inspiring more people to ride bicycles,” the advocacy organisation’s website says. A longtime cycling advocate and associate of BCT, Andrew Wheeldon (he founded the Bicycle Empowerment Network), is currently working on establishing Bicycle Cities, whose mission includes helping to realise “normality” of everyday cycling in cities as a functional and safe mode of mobility. PM

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CUT & PASTE THE STORY OF CRISPR-CAS9 AND WHY GENE EDITING WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING The discovery of an extremely precise, cheap and easy-to-use genome editing tool is causing a revolution in the field of genetic modification. It has the potential to cure thousands of diseases, to massively boost food security and will almost certainly herald the dawn of the era of genetically enhanced humans, changing the human genome forever. It’s a very big deal that has scientists equally excited and concerned. BY FA N I E VA N R O OY E N


n the 1997 science fiction film Gattaca, normal human beings are deemed as inferior to an upper class of genetically engineered “valid” humans, all with 20/20 vision, perfect skin and teeth, superior athleticism and intelligence and no genetic predisposition to genetic disease. Fast-forward about 20 years: Chinese scientists have just announced (in November) that they were the first to use a revolutionary gene-editing technique called CRISPR-Cas9 to inject gene-altered cells into a living person, a patient with aggressive lung cancer. This, according to Nature, is part of a groundbreaking clinical trial at the West China Hospital in Chengdu that will likely kick off “Sputnik 2.0”, a biomedical space race between China and the US to see who can get gene-edited cells into the clinic first. Gene editing, and soon genetic enhancement in humans, has suddenly become a reality. Genetic modification has been with us for a while, but the CRISPR-Cas9 technique has made gene editing vastly cheaper, quicker,

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extremely precise and – crucially – quite easy. As the narrator of an eyeopening video on the subject by the Kurzgesagt YouTube channel said: “Anyone with a lab can do it.” The implications are staggering. With CRISPR-Cas9, scientists will be able to prevent a myriad genetic diseases, quite possibly cure HIV and several types of cancer within a couple of decades, create drought-resistant crops and animals and, yes, eventually also create designer babies. This raises important moral and ethical questions that scientists have only just begun to address. Is it ethical to change the genetics of a human embryo before birth? If such gene editing can prevent suffering later in life, is it ethical not to do it? These are questions that humans will, thanks to CRISPR-Cas9, have to face sooner than most people expected.

CRISPR/CAS9 TECHNOLOGY: genetically edited crops


 Targeted gene editing/replacement  Multiplex gene editing  CRISPRi  Virus interference


 Gene transfer  Biotic/abiotic stress tolerance  Transcriptional modulation  Inducible Cas9 system

Future possibilities

 Enhanced photosysnthesis  Receptor engineering  Root architecture  Haploid plants  Designer crops

The types, applications and future possibilities of CRISPR/Cas9 system for development of GE crops for crop improvement. (Source: The CRISPR/Cas Genome-Editing Tool: Application in Improvement of Crops, Frontiers In Plant Science Journal,

CRISPR-Cas9: What is it? Developed in 2012 by University of California (Berkeley) Professor Jennifer Doudna and her colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier, a French researcher in genetics, the CRISPR technology came about through a basic research project that was aimed at discovering how bacteria fight viral infections. Many bacteria have in their cells an adaptive immune system called CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), that allows them to detect viral DNA and destroy it. Think of it as the bacterium’s reference library for what different viral DNA looks like. Part of the CRISPR system is a protein, called Cas9, that is able to seek out, cut and eventually degrade viral DNA. Doudna and Charpentier realised they could harness this function as a genetic engineering technology – a way for scientists to delete or insert specific bits of DNA into cells with incredible precision. CRISPR is basically a mechanism that allows cells to record, over time, the viruses they have been exposed to. Importantly, those bits of DNA are passed onwards to the cells’ progeny. This means that cells are protected from viruses not only in one generation, but over many generations of cells. In effect, cells keep a record of infection. Once those bits of DNA have been inserted into the bacterial chromosome for reference, the cell then makes a little copy of a

molecule called RNA, an exact replica of the viral DNA sequence. RNA is a chemical cousin of DNA, and it allows interaction with DNA molecules that have a matching sequence. So those little bits of RNA bind to the Cas9 protein to form a complex that functions like a sentinel in the cell. It searches through all the DNA in the cell, to find sites that match the exact target sequence in the bound RNA. When those sites are found, confirming the presence of a virus, CRISPR lets loose the Cas9 protein, which is equipped with little cleaver-like arms, to cut up the viral DNA to make a very precise double-stranded break in the DNA helix to effectively deal with the virus. This complex is programmable, so it can be preconfigured to recognise particular DNA sequences, thanks to the so-called “guide RNA” (the copy of the target DNA sequence), and make a break in the DNA at the appropriate site. Doudna and Charpentier recognised that this activity could be harnessed for genome engineering, to allow cells to make very precise changes to DNA at the site where these breaks are introduced. “The reason we envisaged using the CRISPR system for genome engineering is because cells have the ability to detect broken DNA and repair it,” said Doudna in a 2015 TED talk. “So, if we were able to program the CRISPR technology to make a break in DNA at the position at or near a mutation causing cystic fibrosis, for example, we could trigger cells to repair that mutation. “We can think of older genome engineering technologies as similar to having to rewire your computer each time you want to run a new piece of software, whereas the CRISPR technology is like software for the genome – we can program it easily, using these little bits of RNA. So once a double-stranded break is made in DNA, we can induce repair, and thereby potentially achieve astounding things, like being able to correct mutations that cause sickle cell anaemia or Huntington’s Disease.”

>IN SHORT: The CRISPR-Cas9 complex can be programmed to seek out specific sequences of DNA in a living cell, cut out those sequences, and either repair the DNA without those sequences, or replace them with a preselected DNA sequence with some new function. It can delete and insert sections of a genome in much the same way we use software to fix typos in a text file. 44 _ JANUARY 2017


According to, in the past few years we have seen a flurry of CRISPR “firsts”, from creating monkeys, mice and fish with targeted mutations to preventing HIV infection in human cells in the laboratory. Earlier, Chinese scientists had applied the technique to non-viable human embryos, hinting at CRISPR’s potential to cure any genetic disease. But, says, focusing on medicine alone is narrow-minded. Precise genome engineering has the potential to alter not just us, but the entire world and all its ecosystems. A whole new An edited new world The implications of CRISPR-Cas9 fall into three categories, says Dr Samantha Nicholson, a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine (ICMM) of the University of Pretoria who is working on gene therapy technologies using CRISPR to produce an HIV-resistant immune system. Those three categories involve using CRISPRCas9:  As a laboratory tool  As a therapeutic tool  In synthetic biology. As a laboratory tool, CRISPR-Cas9 can be multiplexed: in other words, it can tackle multiple targets at once. “In the short term, CRISPR’s most significant contribution will be in allowing us a greater ability to recreate complex disease states, and will allow us to answer increasingly complex mechanistic studies to understand cell biology better and the pathology of many diseases in greater detail,” said Nicholson. “The more exciting implication is gene therapy – the ability to directly change the genetic code thereby eradicating disease or even allowing us to enhance the human race. This also has the greatest technical and ethical challenges. We don’t yet understand all of the potential unwanted effects of changing the genetic code. However, gene therapy using CRISPR is incredibly promising because of the reduced cost. Once we establish the safety of this type of application, it has the potential to eradicate a huge number of genetic diseases and improve the lives of millions of people. This, combined with the relatively short time needed to design new applications means that CRISPR has the potential to revolutionise personalised medicine and the treatment of hereditary disorders.” CRISPR-Cas9 is also an ideal switch for








sgRNA Matching genetic sequence

PAM sequence


7 7a



Random DNA

Programmed DNA

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The CRISPR enzyme (green and red) have a significant impact on human health. For synthetic biologists because it is specific and binds to a stretch of double-strandinstance, using CRISPR-Cas9 and another powmodular, easily manipulated and changed and, ed DNA (purple and red), preparing erful genome editing technology called TALEN with small additions or deletions, it can be used to snip out the faulty part. (Transcription Activator-Like Effector for much more than cutting DNA. “It is an ideal Nucleases), it’s possible to genetically engineer regulatory and reporter vehicle and is already artificial anti-tumour receptors into patient being broadly applied in this field, which in immune cells to create “soldier cells” able to itself is still very young. This is an interesting recognise and eliminate cancer cells displaying space and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the appropriate tumour antigens. “Although where CRISPR technologies really shine.” scientists are still cautious that this therapy may cause uninFor Nicholson the most exciting, and also most worrying tended side effects, clinical trials in adults and children with implication is that we will eventually be able to edit out undesirable leukemia or lymphoma have yielded optimistic results.” human traits. “For most people this means fixing or eradicating Mhlanga believes the first effects of CRISPR-Cas9 in our daily disease-causing genes. But it has a strong potential for abuse lives will most likely be seen in genetically engineered plants and and we don’t really understand the full impact gene editing will animals. “CRISPR has already been widely applied in plants in have on the evolution of the human species. We may unknowattempts to generate disease- and drought-resistant crops and ingly direct our evolution in a way that may be harmful to the improve plant traits. Gene editing in animals has also produced human race as a whole. So, while the possibility that we may hornless dairy cattle, which has led to easier and higher numbers totally eradicate disease on a level with vaccinations is amazing, of successful cow births. By improving and securing food supplies, we also have to consider where the line in the metaphorical sand the effects of gene editing will have a huge impact, especially with might be. As we learnt from Spiderman: with great power comes the ever-increasing threats to food security,” said Mhlanga. great responsibility.” Respected synthetic biologist, Dr Musa Mhlanga; post-doctoral, fellow Dr Stephanie Fanucchi; and Ezio Fok, a PhD student, all Just because you can... from the Gene Expression and Biophysics Group, aka the Mhlanga One of the big concerns of using CRISPR is the potential for perLab at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), manent, heritable, off-target changes in a patient’s DNA. With have also conducted studies that employ CRISPR-Cas9. Says the current rapid development of the technology these challenges Fok: “The CRISPR-Cas9 technology is so powerful because it will however, according to Fok, surely be resolved in the future. allows for a simple and cost-effective way to precisely edit the “Of greater concern is the unregulated, gross re-engineering human genome. Researchers have successfully applied this techof life. Richard Feynman’s saying, ‘What I cannot create, I do nology to modify the genomes of plants, bacteria and whole not understand’ is popular among synthetic biologists. It is treorganisms (that is, zebrafish and mice). These studies have mendously exciting to live in a time when we can recreate and revealed previously unknown aspects of cell biology and yielded manipulate life to better our understanding and to better important insights into disease progression.” human health. However, it is not inconceivable that we overAccording to Fannuchi, gene editing has already started to engineer life and erode its natural state,” said Fok.


Crystal structure of the Cas9 gene-editing enzyme (light blue) in complex with an RNA guide (red) and its target DNA (yellow).

The problem, says Mhlanga, is that although our interventions may seem beneficial at present they are untested by the long arc of evolution for their positive or maybe negative effects. “Essentially this type of ‘biohacking’ or genetic enhancement is perhaps the most ethically and morally difficult terrain on which gene editing takes us.” As the technology grows and its full potential becomes more tangible, it is paramount, says Fok, that scientists come together and clearly define rules and regulations that will guide researchers to use CRISPR safely and responsibly. “Although gene-edited humans are still more than a decade away, we need to define the boundaries now, so that we know what to do when we get there.” Nicholson says scientists have luckily already started to address these ethical questions. “As it stands, there is an annual meeting where the ethical issues around CRISPR are discussed by the field leaders. By continuing to engage in public debate and to refer to our own morals, we should be able to proceed in an ethical and acceptable way. Having a well-informed and engaged public will be increasingly valuable to help scientists to litmus test their thinking.” Engaging with these ethical concerns is important because it’s only going to get wilder from here. The Kurzgesagt video mentioned earlier, titled “Genetic engineering will change everything forever – CRISPR”, warns that, as gene editing is refined, more people will argue that not using it will be unethical because it would condemn children to unnecessary, preventable suffering from hereditary diseases or mutations that might be easily cancelled out with CRISPR-Cas9. The temptation for genetic enhancement will also grow. If you can make a child immune to Alzheimer’s, why not give him or her perfect vision. Or better muscle structure? Or a higher IQ? It’s easy to see how genetically enhanced humans could become the new standard. Not to mention the fact that some scientists believe CRISPR-Cas9 could potentially pave the way for humans to stop – or even reverse – ageing. Great responsibility, indeed. PM JANUARY 2017 _ 47 CARTrumpCardAd_Dec.indd 2

2016/10/28 10:48 AM




This all-electric open-top submarine can really take you places all our sci-fi dreams come true. The latest in the recent slew of incredible electric vehicles is a submarine from Dutch company Ortega Submersibles. Aimed at underwater explorers and biologists, these compact multi-person submarines are fitted with enough tech to make even an early-adopter envious. The tech includes magnetometers, sonar for navigation and FLIR thermal imaging cameras. The company’s submarines are also fitted with two high-power electric motors capable of accelerating to up to 10 knots. To power these motors, the company has developed its own battery solution, called the Hancell 378i Battery Pack. The submarines are available in two models. The Mk. 1B seats two divers and the Mk. 1C seats three. They are capable of travelling above or underwater, with a maximum equipment-supported depth of 95 metres. Both models feature a cargo hold of 250 litres, which can be used to store extra oxygen supplies.

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Let’s face it. The electric transportation revolution is making


2 divers above and underwater 9,5 kn 7,5 kn 250 l closed loop, no bubbles 2 silent 4 x 4,6 kWh for 60 NM range 500 kg

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3 divers above and underwater 10 kn 8 kn 250 l closed loop, no bubbles 2 silent 4 x 4,6 kWh for 80 NM range 590 kg




Giving refugees something to take with them as they embark on their journeys “Since then, we found out that there is a legal way to give refugees in Holland a paid job. And we met Makers Unite, which is setting up a production facility for refugees in Amsterdam. So we stopped wandering and started wondering... what if we crowdfunded the production of 500 bags from discarded boats, made by refugees who get paid for their work?” they posted on their Kickstarter page. “It could give the refugees some autonomy back. It would give the discarded boats and life vests from Greek beaches a worthy second life. And it would give you the opportunity to carry a positive story about the refugee crisis with you, wherever you go.”

ed VTEC BAG MATERIALS: 1 square metre of boat rubber 4 lifejacket straps, including buckles 35 rivets and rings BAG SPECIFICATIONS: VOLUME: 21 litres DIMENSIONS: 35 cm x 45 cm x 32 cm WEIGHT: about 1 kg

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The flood of refugees arriving on Europe’s Southern coast has left thousands of items of equipment – from lifeboats to lifejackets – discarded on beaches. Now dozens of designers are teaching refugees how to repurpose the material from these items. BAG2WORK is the brainchild of two designers, Floor Nagler and Didi Aaslund, who took a break from their studies to aid the refugees. The pair decided to repurpose the discarded materials as bags for refugees as they embark on their journeys into Europe. Now that the bulk of the refugees have gone on their way, the designers are still working to employ refugees who have settled in Holland and have launched a Kickstarter campaign.



One remote so smart it will rule them all What if you had one remote that was so smart it could communicate with more than 25 000 Bluetooth, infrared and wireless devices? This might sound like a low-budget buytwo-get-one-free television promo from the ’90s, but in this case it’s really not. The aptly named Smart Remote from Sevenhugs takes smart devices to an entirely new level by instantly interacting with a device as the user points the remote in the direction of the device. Sevenhugs co-founder and CEO, Simon Tchedikian, has said he completely understands the frustration of a consumer confronted with modern devices, each of which has its own app or controller, making for clutter and confusion. “We’ve pushed the boundaries of today’s technologies to build a better solution,” he says. “For the first time in history, we’ve integrated a precise indoor positioning system in a consumer electronic device, allowing users to control tens of thousands of connected devices in a simple and intuitive way. All you have to do is point at what you want to control.”

The remote comes with three sensors that need to be placed in the room where it will be used. Once the sensors are installed, the remote can be pointed at any device and it will instantly interact with it. It can even tell you the weather if you point to a window. PM


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Cleaning, at its best, is restoring a thing to its virgin state. The white shirt, the wood floor, the sparkling car. It’s reversing entropy, turning back time. One of the reasons a clean home feels so good is that it’s a stronghold of human effort against the disorder of the universe. Here’s everything you need to know to create yours.

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Don’t bother. Just replace it. And if you have a K&N cone filter, don’t even do that. Being dirty doesn’t necessarily hurt it.


Paper filters can be blown out with compressed air. For a primary foam filter, blow it out, then wash it with degreaser and water. Moisten with clean engine oil before reinstalling.


See “Dishwasher.”


Go over it with the tube of a vacuum or run it under the sink. Let dry before replacing.


BARBECUE SAUCE Not your fault. (See also: marinara, chicken wings, and the meatball sandwich.)

BARNACLES Put on your scuba gear, swim under the boat, and attach yourself to the hull with a suction cup. That’s what Alex Daniello at Barnacle Busters, a yacht maintenance company in Florida, does. He uses a 15-centimetre putty knife, a 5-in-1, and a brush. Buy the cheap stuff. It’s gonna rust.

BRILLO PADS When I was nine, my parents bought a restaurant. It had been closed for some time, so the kitchen grease that had built up had settled and hardened on all the pots, pans and racks left behind. My brother and I had to get rid of the grease – all of it – or we JANUARY 2017 _




wouldn’t pass health inspection. The only cleaning supplies we had were boxes of Brillo steel-wool soap pads and hot water. For three horrible August afternoons we scrubbed shelving racks behind the restaurant, littering the ground with the usedup nubs of Brillo pads and the soaked cardboard boxes they came in. It took two hours to clean each shelving unit rod by rod, knuckles busting when the pads would slip loose. Old chowder pots ground down two or three pads each. Our fingers stung from the steelwool splinters. The sour smell of old chowder and hot soapy water made my nose run and my skin crawl. It was terrible work, but to this day when I need something really clean, I reach for only one thing. – Michael Wilson

BUILDER A chemical added to a cleaner that helps it make more suds, which help it grab soil, which can then be washed away. C

CARPET For food stains, spray with a mix of one part vinegar to two parts water. Cover with a damp rag, then hold an iron over the rag (on the steam setting) for 30 seconds. And next time eat in the kitchen.


The removal of dirt or debris.


The reduction of bacteria on a surface to 99,9 percent within 30 seconds.


The destruction or complete removal of microbes (bacteria, viruses and fungi). Typically relies on increased time or concentration.

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CHELATING AGENT A chemical added to cleaners, such as laundry detergents, that grabs onto metal ions in water, keeping them from interfering with the part that actually removes stains. D

DECK Pressure-wash with a deckwash concentrate, followed by a high-pressure rinse with a 25-degree (green) or 40-degree (white) nozzle.

battery leads and cover the battery, alternator, fuse boxes and all sensitive electronics with plastic bags. Spray on an engine cleaner-degreaser and let soak for 15 to 30 minutes. Scrub heavy deposits with a long-handled plastic kitchen brush. Rinse gently. Air dry. Show at least one person. F

DISHWASHER An underutilised cleaning tool. Also works on vacuum filters, the cooking grates from your stove, and contact-lens cases. (Seriously. Wash those things before you get an infection.)

FINGERNAILS Use your other fingernails.

FOUNDATION, CONCRETE Apply Mould Buster with a pump sprayer to kill mildew. Pressure-wash with a 40-degree (white) nozzle. Don’t dawdle in one spot or you’ll cave into the plaster or pop chunks of mortar from the joints. G

DROP CLOTH So much easier than cleaning up.

DUB AND SCRUB, THE The proper method of cleaning exceptionally dirty patches of flooring with a string mop. Double the strings back over on themselves and apply pressure until the stain is removed. E

ENGINE Not sure why you would, unless you’re exhibiting in a car show or have some form of automotive OCD, but if you must: park the car on a large tarpaulin to protect the driveway. Use an old paintbrush and workshop vacuum cleaner to brush off and suck up any dirt and debris. Disconnect

GLASS, SCIENTIFIC Ed Bufil, the optics technician at Hawaii’s Keck Observatory, uses high-pressure CO2 canisters to clean the telescope’s mirrors. Some of the CO2 comes out as snow, which collides with particles on the mirror and breaks them free. The rest comes out as gas, and blows the particles away.

GOOD ENOUGH A level of clean defined by the cleaner himself. Lower thresholds are perfectly appropriate for things like the garage floor or the couch in the basement. Not so much for a toothbrush that fell in the toilet.

GRILL Always heat up the grill first, which will liquefy fats and loosen debris. Then, scrub the


PLAYLIST Music that, through lyrics, tempo, or just the joy it makes you feel, will make cleaning a little easier. “JEREMY” Pearl Jam HERE COME THE WARM JETS Brian Eno For the patio. Or the pool if you wanna be literal. THE EARTH IS NOT A COLD DEAD PLACE Explosions in the Sky There is no better music to vacuum to. “CAR WASH” Rose Royce “S.O.B.” Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats BLACK SABBATH VOL. 4 Black Sabbath For anything involving steel wool or the garage. “BEAST OF BURDEN” Rolling Stones “YOUR SMILING FACE” James Taylor Don’t try to scrub a toilet without that playing. RUST NEVER SLEEPS Neil Young Side 2, the electric side, is nice for washing the car in your driveway on a hot summer day. “TRIBULATIONS” LCD Soundsystem

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“Cleans anything”, it says on the bottle. In my home, this stuff has done duty mostly as a degreaser when servicing the bikes, and very effective it is, too (avoid hubs and frame transfers). I also used it on brick paving to get rid of some oil spotting when the family wagon needed a gasket replacement. Well diluted with distilled water, it’s even been pressed into service for cleaning really grubby vinyl LPs bought secondhand. For economy, buy the 2 L concentrate. – Anthony Doman

grates with a wire brush or an onion cut in half and dipped in canola oil. Or both, but only in that order.

GROUT Use a pH-neutral tile-andgrout cleaner, such as Rejuvenate Bio-friendly Grout Deep Cleaner, working along the grout lines with a scrub brush. Wash from the bottom to the top, but rinse from the top down. If that fails to brighten the grout lines, you need an acid-based cleaner. Apply sparingly, though, because this stuff will actually dissolve the top layer of grout. And probably your skin. Wear gloves. H



NATURAL STONE Don’t. Lichen and other imperfections just make it prettier. But if you got something terrible on there, like blood – or barbecue sauce that your neighbours might mistake for blood – clean gently with a mild pH-neutral detergent, cold water, and as little scrubbing as possible.

Suspend the brush in a bucket of water (for latex paint) or mineral spirits (oil paint), so that the bristles are not touching the bottom. Soak for at least an hour, then massage the brush between your hands to work out excess paint and solvent. Use a brush comb to remove hardened paint, then wash the brush in warm water and detergent. Rinse, press out excess water, and replace in its cover.


JEANS Clothing that covers the lower half of your body. Also useful as a napkin, rag or tissue. M

MAGIC ERASER Some form of black magic that removes soap scum, mildew and even paint. Best not to wonder how it works.


Smear toothpaste – something gritty and not a gel – all over a clouded headlight lens. Rub it in with a toothbrush (not yours). Add a little water to a cloth and rub the toothpaste in a second time, then rinse.


There are dozens of home remedies touted for grease removal. We tried ten of them by first saturating a T-shirt with 3-in-One oil, a lubricant and rust protector, letting the stain dry, treating it, and then running it through a wash cycle. Our results: DISH DETERGENT: Surfactants in detergent weaken oil bonds so water can carry away the stain.

COCA-COLA: The cleaning power of Coca-Cola has proven time and time again no human should consume it. Useless on shirts, though.

SPRAY CHEESE: Some people think this works. We don’t know why.

CORNSTARCH: Cornstarch has been used to soak up food spills, but it didn’t soak up our grease.

ALOE VERA: Many turn to aloe vera to remove oils from skin. Doesn’t work on chain lubricant.

SHAMPOO: Surprise: the three products most similar to clothes detergent are the only ones that did the job.

SHAVING CREAM: Lathers like soap. Especially useful for cleaning stains in carpet.

HAIR SPRAY: Rubbing alcohol, the active ingredient in hair spray, was supposed to do the work. No dice.


INCOMPLETE CLEAN, THE When, after moderate scrubbing, you don’t bother to remove the last little flecks of paint or stain on your hands and arms, possibly with the hope that someone will ask you what you were working on. Not that we would encourage that, but it happens.

MOWER DECK Remove the spark-plug wire to avoid losing a hand. With as little fuel in the tank as possible, tip the mower on its side and scrape dried grass from below the mower deck with a putty knife or wire brush with a scraper blade.

RUBBING ALCOHOL AND SALT: A go-to for college kids looking to clean, ahem, bongs. Perhaps too specialised for this purpose.

BABY POWDER: Said to absorb stains on cloth, but better used on babies.


After sweeping the floor, mix an alkaline cleaner/degreaser with hot water in a bucket, then apply using a deck brush. Use a floor squeegee or workshop vacuum cleaner to remove the water.

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PAINTBRUSH, LIGHTLY SOILED Soak in a little water or mineral spirits. Flick that out in the sink, then wash with soap and water. Rinse, press and replace in its cover.

PETROL Effective at removing tough grease and oil from your hands. Use sparingly. Afterward, wash hands thoroughly.

PAVERS Use a pressure washer and a 15-degree (yellow) or 25-degree (green) nozzle, held at 15 to 30 centimetres from the surface to avoid surface etching and stripes. Unless that’s something you’re going for.

PH Power of hydrogen, or potential hydrogen. pH is measured on a scale of zero to 14. Seven is neutral, zero is extremely acid, and 14 is extremely base. Fat, grease, and oil are cleaned with cleaners that are more basic, while minerals are cleaned with acids.

PVC TRIM Wash small areas by hand using a softish brush, but be gentle to avoid scratching. For larger areas, use a housewashing concentrate in a pressure washer and rinse with a 40-degree (white) nozzle. Q

QUATS Quaternary ammonium cations, compounds added to cleaners such as liquid hand soap to help them get a surface wetter, making them more effective at lifting dirt. R

RIMS Use a natural sponge and a carwash soap. Or follow the advice of Dave Nichols, tyre specialist for Nascar’s Team Penske: after pressure-cleaning the wheel, he uses Wurth brake cleaner and a scrubbing brush. 58 _ JANUARY 2017



get it off his (prodigiously soot-covered) hands.

STEAM Cleans and disinfects carpets and floors, usually without a lot of work from you, which is nice.

SUBWAY TRACKS RING AROUND THE COLLAR Shampoo. Rub it in, throw it in the wash. If it doesn’t work, it’s time to get a new shirt.


Use an acidic cleaner, diluted with water. Apply, scrub and rinse immediately with cold water.


Just like concrete. But be a little more gentle with the scrubbing.

Not relevant to South Africa, but worth knowing nevertheless: more than 2 000 tons of trash is removed from subway tracks every six months in New York City, much of it by vacuum trains. The electrified third rail is cleaned by hand, using a special glass fibre bow rake.

Mix a little sugar soap in warm water. Put on rubber gloves and eye protection, then apply with a sponge.



Take it from Ed Flewelen, who’s spent the last 15 years cleaning the LA Lakers’ court: do a first pass with a wet towel. If you run into any gum or nacho cheese, remove it with a spatula. Then mop with a wood soap such as Woca.

Scrub with household cleaner. And don’t forget to clean under the actual seat. Ew.

SOILING AGENT, ORGANIC A stain that does contain carbon, such as a fat or grease. Best cleaned by solutions with a high pH, such as baking soda.

SOLVENT Something that dissolves something else. Water is one. So are alcohol, ammonia and petroleum distillates.

SOOT Blacksmith Nick Wicks Moreau uses Dr Bronner’s eco-friendly soap and a potato scrubber to

WORK SHIRT TV REMOTE Two options, both equally effective: Awesome Wipes or try not to think about it. V

VINEGAR Classic cleaning agent and salad dressing. Use alone or combine with baking soda to make a paste (cleaner only).


The secret is a sponge and a squeegee. Mix a few drops of dish detergent into a bucket of warm water. Use the sponge to mop the glass. Make one horizontal pass with a high-quality squeegee across the top of the glass and then make vertical passes down the glass.




A stain that contains no carbon. Rust, for example. Best cleaned by solutions with a low pH, such as vinegar.





Work in the morning or in the shade, so the cleaner won’t evaporate as quickly. Spray a cotton rag or microfibre cloth with glass cleaner, then put some elbow grease into it.


They make water more viscous and increase its ability to penetrate a surface and wash out dirt. Found in laundry detergents. Also laxatives.

Use a mixture of cold water and oxalic acid (wood bleach). Scrub gently and rinse immediately.


VINYL SIDING Fill the injector tank of a pressure washer with a sidingcleaner concentrate. Apply the soap with the black nozzle, then rinse with a 25-degree (green) nozzle if the siding is severely dirty or a 40-degree (white) if it’s not that bad.

Any shirt that, through facial expression or direct decree, your family has deemed inappropriate attire for social interaction.

WORK SHIRT, NEW What the shirt you weren’t wearing as a work shirt becomes the moment you think you can handle a quick project without making a mess.

CLEANERS WORK By Evan Boyst, Avomeen Analytical Services and product testing laboratory MECHANICAL Example: Sponge Relies on a physical source to remove the material. Using a scrubbing brush or even a paper towel, you are a mechanical source. You’re scraping away deposits. CHEMICAL Example: Shampoo Relies on a chemical interaction between the material and a solvent of some kind to remove dirt. Most household products are chemical cleaners that need mechanical help (you). THERMAL Example: Steam Heats debris to a more fluid state so that it can be more easily mechanically or chemically cleaned. PM

JANUARY 2017 _ 59

Writer Ryan Knighton and sushi chef Bun Lai drag for tiny baitfish. Lai prefers to serve them rather than use them as bait.

60 _ JANUARY 2017


An environmentally conscious chef eschews conventional sushi in favour of the undiscovered pleasures of strange, invasive species. A man who lost his eyesight refuses to pity himself and instead becomes, of all things, a travel writer. Together, they dig their hands into the dark ocean mud in search of enlightenment. 61

Blindness can make people sensitive to motion. Knighton takes Dramamine to combat this problem on boats. He also hates flying.

kilometres from the mouth of the Branford River, just beyond the Thimble Islands off the coast of Connecticut, rocks jut from the ocean like broken teeth. Some are the size of a kitchen table, others the size of a kitchen, small streams and straits of dark water cutting between them. Perched on one with my friend Bun Lai, a sushi chef, I considered that we could be the only people to have ever surveyed the empty horizon from this spot. My feet were bleeding. I could feel a chunk missing from my right toe and cuts pinstriping my soles. Beside me dripped a bag of rockweed – a dark, tough seaweed we’d harvested by hand as we snorkelled the nooks and shallows. The plan was to add our findings to a foraged feast that Bun would cook for us. That is, if we could get home. We were stranded – our boat high on the rocks after the tide had washed out. There’s something else you should know: I’ve been blind for more than 20 years. I can’t see a thing. 62

Bun’s restaurant, Miya’s Sushi, first opened its doors in New Haven in 1982, when his mother, Yoshi, freshly separated from her husband, needed to support herself and her children. At the time, Yoshi saw only two possibilities: she could earn money as a clothing designer or she could open a restaurant serving the cuisine she knew best. Sushi wasn’t as popular then as it is now. She feared the business might struggle. If it did? At least she could be certain her children would eat. A little more than a decade later, Bun would nearly sink his mother’s restaurant. It wasn’t that he didn’t know how to cook – he spent his childhood in the kitchen. The problem was his conscience. As a young man, Bun spent most of his spare time reading adventure novels and romping around in the forest and nearby ocean. His father, a Yale ophthalmologist, pushed him to finish his homework and to learn about science. So Bun compromised, reading science magazines about the outdoors. It wasn’t long before he read about ocean contaminants and invasive species, and about how the very fish his mom served were disappearing from the oceans. He knew that there would come a day when he could no longer, in good conscience, turn out another tuna roll. _ JANUARY 2017

This story is more about comfort than you might imagine. It’s also about restlessness, and safety and complacency. Tuna rolls are familiar, but they don’t do a lot for the environment. And like Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin, Bun does not get off on familiarity. He could have just made the damn sushi and brought home a paycheque and gone to bed after House Hunters like anyone else. But Bun was restless. He saw himself not as a chef, but as some kind of environmental steward. He could, he figured, use his little restaurant in a forgotten city to try to rehabilitate, in some small way, not just the nearby Atlantic, but also all the oceans in the world. Imagine what life would be like without people like that? Without people who weren’t satisfied with the easy way. No one would ever have found Australia, for one thing. Bun began to consider how we could turn our destructive power as super predators toward invasive species. Instead of tuna and salmon we’d eat weeds, jellyfish, crisped wax worms – the plants and animals currently demolishing our local ecosystems. After a trip to Louisiana, he even incorporated nutria, a large swamp rodent, into his sashimi repertoire. Early on, customers simply walked out, unable to recognise his inventions as sushi, or even as food. Tables remained empty. Bills mounted. By the time I met Bun in 2013 at Chicago’s Ideas Week, a TED-like festival of provocative talks given by authors and entrepreneurs – and, in Bun’s case, an ecowarrior sushi-maker – he was winning culinary awards. He took the stage in an old hoodie and jeans and spoke about foraging for sushi ingredients in the waters and forests near his New Haven restaurant, about his sushi and about the future of fish. At the closing party, Bun slid into a booth next to me and tapped my shoulder. He’d heard I was a travel writer. A blind travel writer. Was it true? It was. “You remind me of a guy from this novel I read when I was a kid,” he said. The book was Theodore Taylor’s The Cay, published in 1969, about a boy and his family fleeing Curaçao during World War II. The protagonist, Phillip, survives the sinking of a torpedoed ship only to be blinded and stranded on an island. But Phillip’s new perspective eliminates his inhibitions. He’s able to forage by touch and eat things he would have formerly avoided. The story, Bun said, formed his interest in the possibilities of sushi. Imagine what we’d be willing to eat if only we couldn’t see it.

I’d also given a talk that week, in which I spoke about being diagnosed with a hereditary retinal disease at the age of 18 and slowly going blind over the next five years, and about the time I went to Cairo right after the Arab Spring to write a travel story. I had been restless too. It was as if Bun had recognised a kindred soul when he saw me. Like, “Oh, you’d rather ride around in taxis in war zones than sit in a room lamenting your blindness? I almost ran the family business into the ground serving swamp rat to Yale students. Wanna hang out?” “That’s it,” Bun said as he pulled on his beer, not his first of the night. “We’re going diving.”

To be stranded on a rock in the ocean a few years later with Bun is, in hindsight, ironic when you consider the plot of the book that led him to invite me. I wasn’t immediately sold on Bun’s offer to dive with him, either. Imagine the sensation of swimming down, down, enveloped in darkness, to jam your hands into the mud and grab whatever lurks there, unseen.

The thought made me shiver. But blindness, I’ve learned, is a constant battle against comfort. To be safe is to be bored and that is, in many ways, more crippling than blindness itself. Milford is a short drive from New Haven, its shoreline park locked tight at 4:30 in the morning. Of course, Bun knew a way around the gates. Abandoned houses dotted the beach, their blown-out windows staring out to sea like the eyes of Easter Island heads. Hurricane Sandy, Bun explained. He eased me into the trip. With our buckets and a dragnet, we scuttled to the water’s edge to begin our first day of foraging along the rocky shore and tidal pools. In the afternoon we would pick invasive greens such as amaranth, garlic mustard, and butterbur from the local woods. Tomorrow we would motor Bun’s Boston Whaler to sea to skin-dive for clams and seaweed, the final ingredients Bun needed to cook us a meal. Knee-deep in low tide, we dragged the net stretched between us like a spoon until we’d gathered enough weight to lift our find to the sand. Dozens of smelt flipped and slapped their bodies, the sound like rain on a sidewalk. One by one I grabbed and pinched them, filling our buckets. The yield could have been purchased from a store for less than 25 cents, but Bun has dragged for smelt since he was a child and still loves to do it. A few bluefish, the preferred sport catch of this area, leaped among our smelt. We let them loose. Most people, he said, catch bait to catch

Because of his disability, Knighton is willing to try things most people would avoid, like handling Asian shore crabs.

JANUARY 2017 _ 63

another fish. But why not appreciate the bait, which is far more abundant? A few hours later we spidered our way under the park’s wooden boardwalk. My job was to overturn stones so Bun could scoop up the tiny Asian shore crabs that would bolt for cover. Our buckets filled fast with the tiny brown creatures. Bun can still remember a time when the crabs didn’t exist. Today they’ve colonised beaches all the way to Maine. At some point in the late 1980s the crabs were probably

pluck it from the ocean floor like a radish. I had it. I’d found one. Blind people never find anything. How strange to feel the rush of a hunter. The thrill of a predator. Back on the boat, Bun shucked my first clam. Drink it all down, he insisted. I took the meat into my mouth and slurped. Sand, salt, water, flesh. In a way, it tasted like a glimpse of the world around me. Food can be a way of seeing. Just beyond us floated a commercial clam dredge. The ship’s nose shovels the

I managed to pluck a clam the size of a tennis ball from the ocean floor like a radish. How strange to feel the rush of a hunter. The thrill of a predator. I had it. I’d found one. Blind people never find anything.

accidentally pumped from an international ship’s ballast. Not only do they lay hundreds of thousands of eggs each year, Asian shore crabs also eat the larvae of other species to eliminate their competitors. After much trial and error, Bun discovered that the crabs could be panfried in olive oil and seasoned, creating a taste that is an uncanny imitation of a Dorito. The next morning, the Boston Whaler bobbed in the swells, anchored just inside an inlet. Worried about seasickness, I’d loaded myself with Dramamine before we left the dock. Blindness makes a person sensitive to motion. Once we were over the dive spot, I jumped into the murky water wearing flippers and gloves, only to spin in place like a top as I paddled to keep my head above the waves. An aggressive disorientation bloomed behind my eyes. The ache. The nausea. If I was going to dive for clams like the hero of Bun’s boyhood novel, I had to do it quick. On Bun’s count, I took a last breath and shot straight down into the dark, my legs kicking hard and my hands in front feeling for the bottom. Even if I could see, I couldn’t have seen through the water. Clamming here is hunting by touch, an equivalent experience for the sighted and the blind alike. Down I continued, my lungs burning, my nerves singing with the primal horror of reaching through the black to touch something unknown. Mud. Broken shells. I jammed my hands into the silt and clawed, struggling to stay down in place long enough to find, yes, a weight. A shape. A rock. No, a clam the size of a tennis ball. I was almost out of air, already floating up and away when I managed enough of a pinch on its shell to 64

ocean floor, and its vacuum inhales everything it touches to capture the clams. It spits back the rest. Bun could buy from them. It would be cheaper and easier than coming here with his staff three times a week to raise one clam at a time from the depths. But Bun’s right about the way things taste when they have a philosophy and a human touch behind them. They taste better. The last ingredient for our meal was rockweed, so we motored farther out to sea and anchored the boat beside a patch of jagged rocks. There I snorkelled through seaweed, a sensation like swimming through an endless plume of flowing hair. Within half an hour I had pulled enough tufts to fill my bag, and within that same amount of time the tide had gone out and left our boat, which weighed hundreds of kilograms, stranded on a rock. To free ourselves we would have to somehow move the whaler across three metres of jagged stone, the distance growing by the minute as the tide slid farther and farther from our lonely precipice.

Across the street from the Yale School of Architecture, squeezed between tower-

ing apartments, Miya’s Sushi is a low-slung node of resistance to the scale and money surrounding it. Profits are not poured into decor. Waiting patrons can peruse some of the restaurant’s media coverage on the wall outside the restrooms, or read Bun’s own writing for Scientific American. One of many awards hangs over the men’s urinal. Egos are kept in their place. Seated outside on my first night, my fingers traced several crispy knobs served in a basket. “Japanese knotweed,” Bun said, handing me one. “It’s one of the ten most destructive invasive plants on the planet.” American travellers returning from Japan first brought knotweed to America. Left alone, it will crowd away other plants and even grow through concrete. Worse, if you dig the roots out from their soil, any crumbled bits will regenerate into a new plant, like a virus. Pickled in soy sauce and chili flakes and tempura fried, however, knotweed is tastier than a kale chip. Every dish at Miya’s includes something that’s been growing where it shouldn’t, it seems. There are sea robins and mugwort. Venomous lionfish. Even the miso soup is cooked with pumpkin, squash, and “dead man’s fingers”, a pernicious seaweed Bun tucks as a toasted seasoning into many of his constructions. The edible species come from far beyond New Haven, as well. Hearing about Miya’s, a few struggling Kentucky fisherman contacted Bun for help with the Asian carp that were transported to the US in the 1970s to consume algae in fish-farm ponds, but had since escaped into the Mississippi Basin and denuded it of sport and market fish. Today, the carp have proliferated to a degree that they threaten to invade the Great Lakes. The carp are a perfect example of Bun’s philosophy: though it’s a popular meat in Asia and Europe, hardly anyone cooks it in the USA. Who walks into a restaurant and asks for a carp steak? But Bun now receives shipments from the Kentucky fishermen and features variations of carp, raw and grilled, on the menu. A trend, he hopes, will follow. It has in the past. If you’ve ever eaten a sweet potato roll, you’ve eaten one of Bun’s most successful inventions. Very few of Bun’s dishes challenged me in the ways I’d expected. My blindness didn’t seem to be an advantage to enjoying a roll that combines cashew butter, banana, and shrimp, or another of salmon bones and broccoli stems, common kitchen scraps that Bun pressure-cooks into a tender delicacy. They were all tasty enough that my fellow diners and even my wife ate them happily – no blindness needed. _ JANUARY 2017

Fried Asian shore crabs on sweet desalinised, gelatinised ocean water, with wild seaweed.

Sun-dried smelt as “medusa-style” nigiri sushi.

Smoked hard-shell clam nigiri topped with chum salmon eggs.

Then came the insects. One roll came topped with a desiccated cricket. One was peppered with dehydrated black soldier flies. I’m told they looked like little raisins. They tasted faintly of peanuts. In other dishes, smoked soldier fly larvae provided a crunchy imitation of bacon bits. Half a kilo of beef protein, Bun explained, can require up to 8 000 litres of water. The same amount of cricket protein typically uses about a six litres. In a world of diminishing freshwater sources, the maths is hard to dismiss. Bun raises his own black soldier flies and crickets and worms in small aquarium tanks and feeds them restaurant spoils. The insects are protein- and vitamin-rich, organic as can be, contaminant-free and dense in healthy fatty acids. Compare that with an industrial supermarket beef steak: bite for bite, his crickets provide as much nutrition, but lack all the health risks of red meat, not to mention the environmental pollution of raising cattle. A person just has to get past, you know, the bug thing. Even I struggled. Immediately I recognised the cricket’s shape with my tongue and reflexively shut my eyes, as if I could help avoid the knowledge of what my mouth was forcing me to see. Did the cricket have an amazing flavour? Not really. Texture? I’d probably have to eat the entire aquarium before I’d get used to it. But the insects were good, in a sense. A very broad, philosophical sort of sense. So is Bun’s strategy working? Perhaps. Other chefs have turned to featuring invasives on their menus. In Washington, Wolfgang Puck’s The Source sells invasive snakehead, a carnivorous Asian fresh-water fish that has no known predators in the United States other than adventurous chefs. New York City restaurateur Ryan Chadwick serves invasive lionfish at his restaurant Norman’s Cay and has even begun a wholesale lionfish sales business to further target the species. Bun himself has been invited across the country to help others hunt and cook the unwelcome abundance outside their restaurant doors. For some ecosystems, perhaps it is too late to eat our way out of the problem. But Bun is determined. I’ve seen his relentless grit firsthand. Marooned on that rock, we put our hands to the boat’s hull, dug in our feet, and shoved. The boat gave a little. Sometimes not as much. Bun hung on the prow while I shouldered the tail sideways in an attempt to walk the boat back to sea. The rocks gashed deeper into our feet with every push. I slipped on blood and seaweed. Inch by inch, though, the boat closed in on the water. If at any point during our marooning Bun had any regrets about having invited a blind man on a dive trip, he didn’t say them aloud. Honestly, I believe he considers occasional crises a natural, even desirable consequence of pursuing rewarding activities. I believe this too: that the best experiences are the ones that try to push you out of them. The ones that, at first look, you might not see. PM

JANUARY 2017 _ 65

66 _ JANUARY 2017



is called Polar Nova, and it’s set for the end of this year. The thread connecting these seemingly disparate elements is ZaiLab, a company bent on using technology to bring warmth and humanity back to the contact centre industry. (Yes, really.) Joining forces with celebrity chef Jenny Morris, ZaiLab will fly the NASA-like vehicle it designed and built to the southernmost continent on Earth. In hand with 21 fellow adventurers, the team will spend five days there, culminating in a lavish New Year’s Eve dinner orchestrated by Morris herself. Designing and building a truck more fit for orbit than Earth might seem an odd choice for such an organisation. Taking a truck like this to Antarctica for New Year’s might seem odder still. But ZaiLab, determined to snap the status quo, regards traditional marketing with a significant amount of distrust. So, both to showcase the skill of its designers and to start a few conversations, the company bought a truck from the military and set about transmuting it into a vehicle any starfleet captain would be proud of. The plan is to tour the world with it, and in so doing highlight places that deserve the world’s attention.

The truck started out life as a MAN KAT, a practically indestructible 6×6 developed for those times when you need to deliver a 10-ton payload to, say, the Base Camp of Everest (or a science base in Antarctica). The Magirus Deutz V10 diesel under the horse produces 1 020 N.m of torque and a power ceiling of 235 kW. It’s on this respectable base that ZaiLab’s industrial design team is having its field day. The rock-solid framework will hold up a facade with the sort of modular aerodynamics and segmented aesthetic that you’d expect to find on a battle mech. A hexagonal aperture at the rear, glowing red, carries the promise of an afterburner. The ZaiTruck’s interior is just as forward-thinking as its exterior. Its central driver’s seat commands a touchscreen dashboard fed by a range of sensors and video cameras. Two passenger seats are positioned to either side, and three are to be found immediately behind; one of these seats, higher than the others, gives its passenger a panoramic view courtesy of a turret that pivots out from the roof. Augmenting the deal is an arsenal of tech upgrades: solar panels, software-controlled driver features, a laser set-up and a sound system with a punch like Mike Tyson’s. To find out more about Polar Nova, including how you can get in on the trip, visit Source: Zailab

JANUARY 2017 _ 67

Making waves A Cape Town-based design team has unveiled the world’s first 300-horsepower V6 diesel outboard alongside its unique Axis Drive marine propulsion system. MIKE BEACHY HEAD IS NO STRANGER TO POWER. He’s a man probably better known for his involvement with Thunder City, a privately owned fleet of fighter jets based at Cape Town airport. But even as the Thunder City era now seems to have passed, a new chapter is starting on the water. In late October, as CEO of Caudwell Marine, Beachy Head unveiled the world’s first 300-horsepower V6 outboard diesel alongside the company’s unique Axis Drive marine propulsion system. Described as the first fundamental change in marine drives in two decades, the Caudwell Marine development is seen as heralding a progression towards full global penetration of the commercial, recreational and military marine markets. The Axis Drive designs, conceived and developed in Cape Town, with international supply and technology input, have been seven years in the making. In that time, Caudwell Marine has attracted more than R800 million in foreign investment and created more than 100 new jobs, which they expect to treble as production ramps up in anticipation of going to market in the third quarter of 2017. That’s all with an eye to taking a slice of the booming global marine market segment for diesel propulsion, worth at least R15 billion. The patented Axis Drive propulsion system, described as a fusion of the best attributes of outboards, stern-drives, pod drives and inboards, will revolutionise the way that marine propulsion systems are designed, Beachy Head says. Claimed advantages include improved handling and safety, corrosion protection, low power loss and lack of vibration. “It is unique in that it has a fully integrated drive [and] uses the principle of having gear cases rotating around gear shafts, thus removing the need for engine articulation or universal joints. Axis Drive eliminates the requirement for engine articulation as found on outboards, eliminates U-joints as found on stern drives, yet can fully articulate around the trim axis and yaw axis. It achieves this through a remarkably simple and patented gear case arrangement, which allows gear casings to articulate around the same axis as the shafts and gears, delivering seamless smooth power between engine and propeller with minimal power loss. Water pickups, exhaust, trim and steering are all integrated and installed in the boat as a single factory unit, with the engine being installed later.”

Maximum outputs of 600 horsepower and 1 200 N.m of input torque are specified for the series of Axis drives presented at launch. “Currently we are working through our evaluation programme on the 300 diesel and are already commenced with our 500-horsepower versions,” Beachy Head says. The 300-hp high-performance Axis Drive diesel is a heavy-duty unit intended for commercial, military and recreational markets in heavy-duty salt-water environments. “It’s a very compact drive and actually uses the legendary Ford-made Jaguar Land Rover V6 diesel block, marinised by our own engine development team in-house,” Beach Head says. The lightweight high-performance engine is equipped with a single variable-vane turbocharger. As well as meeting stringent global emissions regulations, it provides remarkable 68

holeshot (Beachy Head: “That means it gets out of bed very quickly.”) and top-end performance. Cooling is done by an in-house-developed closed cooling heat exchanger system that’s designed to run in a highhumidity, high-corrosion and very high-temperature environments. The integral closed on-demand cooling systems are standard: no salt water goes inside the engines, improving corrosion resistance and minimising engine flushing after use. The outboard motor is based on the same state-of-theart four-stroke V6 300 VGT engine with Turbo Emission Intelligence, Axis Drive and the latest-generation

Axis Drive eliminates the need for engine articulation as found on outboards and eliminates U-joints as found on stern drives. _ JANUARY 2017

JANUARY 2017 _ 69

customised drive-by-wire control system. Set at 45 degrees and utilising a dry sump, it provides extremely low power loss while enabling easy access to primary servicing points. On the outboard, mated to an adapted Axis Drive gear case, the steering function is actuated only at the lower unit, banking the vessel into turns and thus providing “phenomenal” high-speed manoeuvrability. The engine pods themselves do not move around on the back of the vessel for steering. It all adds up, the company says, to improved user safety, neater and more refined control wiring and piping configurations and greater flexibility in terms of deck design and utilisation. Besides the mechanical sophistication on the outboard, a lot of effort was put into aesthetics to create a product that stands apart form the herd, and it’s available in customised iterations, too. (Unveiled at the launch was a model in South African colours, a 460-horsepower supercharged and intercooled outboard, with 600-horsepower unit under wraps.)

The outboard and stern drive variants both use the lightweight four-stroke turbocharged JLR diesel. Engines are matched to Caudwell Marine’s control systems (right), developed in-house and including the company’s own version of joystick control, bottom.

Quoted performance of the 300-hp diesel is eye-opening, both regarding dynamics and efficiency. “At wide open throttle, this boat does 55 miles per hour and uses 44 litres of fuel,” said Beachy Head of the stern-drive model. “The equivalent petrol engine on the same boat produces 51 miles per hour but uses 125 litres per hour.” In addition to providing a new level of drivetrain sophistication, Axis Drive is also designed to be tough. “The combination of Nibral castings, claddings, high-tolerance stainless steel castings and unique alloys gives the drives their sheer strength and unbeatable corrosion resistance,” he says. “In fact, we will be the first people out there offering a 10-year corrosion warranty.” Systems, wiring looms and hoses are military-grade components. Matched with Axis Drive is Caudwell Marine’s bespoke digital throttle and shift controls and specially developed engine and drive management that synchronises both engine and drive activity for maximum efficiency. A fully customised NMEA 2000 instrument cluster able to interface with compatible multifunction display screens is standard and diagnostics are accessed through a simple laptop connection. Another part of the concept is Trim Down Geometry, a patented lowdrag arrangement that allows the drive to trim down during turns automatically, eliminating cavitation and improving handling and safety. The company also developed its own version of joystick docking. “We call it DVC (dynamic vessel control). This system allows operators on twin installations remarkably easy docking, position hold and features a string of independent other benefits.” In response to Beachy Head’s comments, Western Cape Provincial Minister for Economic Opportunities Alan Winde told guests at the launch that the province would be keen to act as a partner to seed skills development. “One of our big problems is skills and skill levels. I think we made a big mistake as a country 22 years ago when we did away with the apprenticeship system,” he said. “We have just gone through a process 70


now as a provincial government where we have put aside R1 billion rand ands we are going to look for partners out there in the business space so that we can start seeding their entrepreneurship systems again. “We would like to partner with you in that space, if we can come along with some seed funding that can help, especially with employing some new artisanal skills in that space.” Winde also promised to try to help unblock red tape where it occurred, whether locally, in other spheres of government or even in other countries. We’ll allow Beachy Head the last word: “I have to give huge credit to the brilliant engineers and technicians who have brought us so far,” he says. “I think we have proved that as a South African team of engineers and technicians, we have the brainpower and the guts to rise to the challenge to put a world-class product on to the PM global stage.” _ JANUARY 2017



23 JAN



ky One luc a trip w will in the to for two rix P d n ra F1 G ! ia s y in Mala

From 1 to 28 February, readers will have an opportunity to WIN awesome daily prizes, including car hampers, books, security cameras, roof racks, accessories and so much more. Simply visit and start opening the CAR Birthday Calendar. Terms and conditions apply











$10 495



383 km


$22 995


269 km



$81 200




Towards the end of last year, I bought a solar array: 24 LG panels up on my roof paired with Enphase microinverters, transforming sunlight into 7,4 kilowatts of electricity. The company that installed them produced a fancy chart that showed my projected break-even point, the moment when I’ll have saved as much on my electric bill as I spent on the system. Saving Electric metrics explained 72

on utilities is fine, but I had a more radical purpose in mind. Modern electric cars are so good that they transformed the way I thought about solar. Those panels could be more than just a straightforward supplement to grid power. They could be a private filling station, a bottomless well of electrons to fuel my trips to the grocery store, to the kids’ ball-

games, to distant cities. Nobody gets ecstatic about saving ten cents per kilowatt-hour on the electric bill. But paying R0,00 per litre, permanently, to drive anywhere you want? That would be supremely awesome. You’d want to sign up for that deal – if it exists. The question, then, is simple: can my modest solar array generate enough juice to cover all of my driving? To find out, I procured three electric cars of widely disparate prices and capabilities and spent a month logging mileage and kilowatt-hours. Your results would vary, of course, but the basic conclusions would hold wherever you live, whether you drive a Model X or commute on a dangerously shoddy hoverboard. Let’s take a look.


182 km

Kilowatt-hours (kWh): Amount of electric energy expended over time, a metric for battery capacity. A 60-kWh Chevrolet _ JANUARY 2017





My 310-watt LG panels (24 total) generate about ten megawatt-hours per year of power. Here’s how far you could drive each of these electric vehicles on that much energy.


SUBJECTS To properly assess whether this gambit is both possible and practical, I need to sample a broad swathe of the current EV spectrum, which is how my driveway has come to host a vehicular trio never before seen in a single cul de sac: (1) a GEM e4, (2) a Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and (3) a Tesla Model X P90D. The only trait they share is four wheels and a thirst for electrons. The GEM is limited to 40 km/h and allowed to drive only on roads with a posted speed limit of 55 km/h or less. But in my dense suburban area, I can navigate to downtown via 40 km/h sidestreets, a method that gets me almost anywhere I need to go. Driving the GEM is an elemental experience, with a fun factor all out of proportion to its 5 kilowatts. People think it’s cool. I know this because it has no doors and you’re never going very fast. You can hear people say, “That thing is cool!” Further up the food chain is the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (eye-meev), the diminutive and affordable four-door electric car. It’s a funky little bargain, the i-MiEV. The rear-mounted 50-kW motor and rear-wheel drive make it something like a latter-day Baja Bug. I tear up my gravel driveway

40 000 kms 42 342 kms 56 362 kms 59 592 kms


making power-slide exits out to the street. With a mere 100 km of range, however, the i-MiEV probably wouldn’t work as your only car. But the Model X would. Tesla’s ovoid people-mover has 400 km of range. In the USA, it also has Supercharger stations around the country for fast highway fillups. It seats seven and can tow more than 2 000 kg. Oh, and this one does zero to 100 in 3,8 seconds. The Model X is the closest thing yet to an electric car that’s all things to all (well-heeled) people. But it’s heavy, and sucks down a lot of juice when you’re indulging in its 830 N.m of torque. My array will have to work hard to keep the Model X running.

ELECTRIC DRIVING HABITS On my busiest GEM day, I’m running into town and back home, coming up with excuses to run errands. Total mileage: 18 km. As a low-speed vehicle, the GEM doesn’t have EPA-rated specs, but based

88 500 kms 206 614 km

on its range and battery capacity, I can predict that it uses about 18 kWh of energy per 160 km. Doing the maths, a day’s worth of solar power from my house could send the GEM on a 383-km trip – which would take nine and a half hours, if the e4 could actually hold that much charge. But most of the time, you’re not driving flat out like that. Most of the time, you’re probably not even driving at all. I realise this once I start tracking mileage in the Mitsubishi. On one representative day, I drive the i-MiEV to the gym and back. Then I hit the grocery store, the liquor store, and, because I have time, the home store. After all that, I retrieve my kids from day care and summer camp and circle back home. Total distance: 17 km. In my section of North Carolina suburbia, the things I need are nearby, my daily orbit small. It always seems like I spend quite a bit of time driving, but it turns out I’m never really going that far. (Our primary family car averages just 10 000 km a year.)

Bolt gets about 5 kilometres per kWh. Watt (w): Unit of power given off from an electric current. Volts (v): Rate at which electrons transfer. A 240-volt JANUARY 2017 _ 73


The i-MiEV and the e4 have enough range for daily travels. Even if I added a daily 50-km round-trip commute, the Mitsubishi would suffice. Coincidentally, my busiest day in the i-MiEV (50 km) coincides with the month’s worst day for solar production. The sky is a cloudy muddle that pours forth a mere 24,2 kWh. But even that pittance is more than enough for the i-MiEV, which uses only about 7 kWh of energy. All my driving is covered, with enough solar energy left over to dent my home electric bill. So far, the rooftop perpetual fuel pump is working out better than I’d imagined. But will a Tesla outrun the power of the Sun?

THE TESLA TEST Over nine days with the Model X, I cover 1 134 km, using 281,4 kWh. That’s a whole lot of driving in a big, luxurious, all-wheeldrive SUV doing 120 km/h with the air conditioning on blast – a worst-case scenario for EV energy use. When I take the Model X on an interstate road trip and log 398 km, I burn through 95 kWh of energy. I’d need twice as many solar panels to even get close to producing that much energy from a day of sunlight. Out of necessity, and to simulate the dim winter months when the Model X would outrun my panels’ trickle, I supplement solar power with public infrastructure. In town, I use a 240volt public charger, which gives the Tesla 26 kilometres of range per hour spent plugged in and charging. On Interstate 95, I stopped at a 400-volt Tesla Supercharger station for a fill-up that, at one point, was recharging the battery at a rate of 475 km of range per hour. But when I drove the Tesla within my normal routine, the Model X coexisted just fine with my home-brewed power. The solar array plays a long game, punching in for its job day after day, whether you drive or not. On an average month, the panels

generate enough energy to power the Tesla for more than 3 500 km – far more than I ever drive, even allowing for the occasional road trip. The Sun eventually comes out ahead.

H OW TO Power your house with scrap batteries

FREE FUEL Having spent months paying close attention to my home solar production, and to the size of my grid electricity bill, I’m a little bit amazed that public chargers in the USA are still predominantly free. It’s strange, when you think about it. Because electricity isn’t free. Sure, the power from your outlet is a lot less expensive than regular unleaded, but can you imagine a Shell station with a public tap dispensing fuel? The average US household spends about R25 000 a year on fuel, and that’s when prices are low. Even a modest increase in prices would cause lines around the block the day before it was implemented. There’s just a different culture around electricity. We don’t prize it. We’re not trained to quantify it and obsess over it the way we do petrol. But once you start thinking about electricity the way you think about a finite, labourintensive resource like fuel, pairing solar panels with vehicles like these seems even more brilliant. When my solar installer produced that financial chart, they pegged the payback day at 7,8 years out. But if I traded my petrol-burning car for an electric one, and crude prices return to $100 per barrel, instead of saving cents per kWh of electricity, I could be avoiding a R14-per-litre hit at the pump. In those terms, the payback horizon could go from eight years to three. Would you prepay for three years of fuel if it meant that you would never pay for it again? That’s not magic, not a wild hypothetical. As it turns out, that’s reality. There may be days when you outdrive your solar array. But it’s like a casino. The house always wins.

When you think about electricity like petrol, free public chargers seem strange.

IF you want to stash your solar energy, you can mount a 6,4 kWh R40 000 Tesla Powerwall in your garage. Or you can make like Jason Hughes and build one yourself with batteries from scrapped electric vehicles. Stable, large-capacity lithium-ion batteries have been available in the USA since the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf arrived in 2010, and the longer electric vehicles proliferate, the more cars will be scrapped because of collisions or owners looking to upgrade. Right now, Americans can get a Volt’s 16 kWh pack for less than R14 000. Hughes got his from Teslas. “The Model S battery pack sits pretty far in from the front and rear, so only very low, high-velocity side collisions will damage them,” he says. “Even then, most of the modules are probably fine.” He stacked two and a quarter 85 kWh packs together to build a power bank for his 44 kW solar array. “The whole rack takes up maybe a square metre,” he says. “If I tried to do that five years ago with lead-acid, it would’ve filled my basement.” If 44 kilowatts and 191 kWh sounds huge for a house (it is), that’s because Hughes sized it to power both his house and two Teslas, which he takes on regular 150 kW-plus trips. “I look at it like, I’ve prepaid for power for a long time,” he says. “Electricity is not going to get any cheaper, and fuel is not going to stay cheap.”

Level 2 charger will give a Tesla Model X 25 km of range per hour of charging. 74 _ JANUARY 2017



It’s been 50 years since the first 124 convertible made its

debut – and with perfect timing, the 2016 version is now available to order locally. The gulf between the Swinging Sixties original and the current version is more than just decades, though: the new car is based on Mazda’s hugely popular MX-5 roadster. Which is, we’d say, a good thing…

THE OLD Launched at the Turin Motor Show, the 124 Sport Spider capped a long line of post-war convertibles from Fiat: the 1100 Spider of 1954, the 1200 and the twin-shaft 1500 Bialbero of 1958, the 1500 S and the 1600 S in 1961. Based on the mechanicals of the 124 saloon, the convertible was designed by Pininfarina. Its 1 438 cm3 inline Four, with dual overhead camshafts and double-barrel carburettor, developed 90 horse-power (67 kW) at 6 500 r/min and reached a top speed of 170 km/h. Drive to the rear wheels was via an unusual-forits time five-speed gearbox; other sporty standard equipment included vacuum-boosted disc brakes all round, radial tyres and two-spoke steering wheel. The second version introduced in October 1969 could be had with a new engine option, an 82 kW 1,6-litre with two double-barrel vertical carbs. But, by the 1970s, a new generation of cars focused on efficiency as the Fuel Crisis bit

hard. The new-generation Spider inherited 108 hp 1,6 and 118 hp 1,8 engines from the Fiat 132. Top speed of the 1,8 was 185 km/h. By now the Fiat 124 Abarth Rally for racing in Group 4 was available, with a more powerful engine and weight-saving measures that included a glass fibre roof and bonnet, and aluminium doors. Production of the 124 Sport Spider continued from June 1974 until 1982 for exports to the United States, which accounted for three-quarters of total sales. It eventually acquired a 2-litre engine, followed by turbocharging to produce peak output of 101 kW.

How things have changed… top, 50 years separate the original (left) and new model. Wood-rimmed steering wheel, sadly (above) not retained for the 2016 version. Centre: Abarth version gets 125 kW.

THE NEW Inspired by the 1966 original, the new 124 Spider reinterprets the classic styling cues in the modern idiom. It’s powered by the Fiat group’s 103 kW four-cylinder 1,4-litre MultiAir turbo engine. Top speed is 215 km/h and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes 7,5 seconds. Transmission is either sixspeed manual or automatic. Latest news is that the highperformance lightweight Abarth 124 Spider (price: R649 900) will be in local showrooms by the time you read this. Its 1,4 litre four-cylinder turbo-

charged engine, mated with a six-speed manual transmission, delivers 125 kW and propels the car to a top speed of 232 km/h. The 0 to 100 km/h sprint takes 6,8 seconds. Suspension is double wishbone in front and five-arm multilink on the rear; a self-locking differential is standard. There’s a competition version, too: the Abarth 124 Rally, developed to compete in the Italian and International Rally Championship in the R-GT class, features a 225-kW 1,8litre engine.

JANUARY 2017 _ 75



I’ve been recommending Hondas to people since the

first-generation Jazz, but I’ve never entertained the idea of actually owning one until now. The new Civic sedan is brilliant. It’s big, too: about the size of an Accord. But that’s not what makes it brilliant. Not even the cavernous boot space is enough to push it into memorable territory. No, the true genius of the new Civic is the wide array of safety features that includes a blindspot camera feed that takes over the 7-inch infotainment system display when you hit the left indicator (or when you press the button to engage it). You can turn this function off, but I can’t imagine why. Truly brilliant innovations change the way you interact with the world. Since driving the Honda Civic, I’ve almost caused at least one collision because I didn’t have that blindspot view. I’ve also really missed the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-equipped infotainment system and become confused about why manufac-


turers still invest millions in developing custom user interfaces; the two major mobile platforms offer far superior mapping, information and media playing, plus you’re connected by cable and your phone charges all the time. But you probably want to know how it drives? Fine. The 1,5-litre turbocharged V-TEC is punchy and responsive, despite the droning laziness of the CVT gearbox. The chassis and body control are particular hallmarks of the Civic’s lively feel, but I think that’s mainly down to the more rigid steel structure of the fastback design. On the downside there’s the strange keyless entry sytem that I’m yet to fully master. I couldn’t unlock all the doors from grabbing on the driver’s side handle and sometimes even failed to unlock the car at all. Automatic locking works a treat when you walk away after closing the door, though. This is easily the best sedan for most people. Refined, fun,

spacious, safe and just cool enough to ward off the need for a mid-life crisis car. Honda even throws in a full-sized alloy spare wheel and doesn’t cover the engine in plastic.

NEED TO KNOW ENGINE: 1,5-litre inline four-cylinder turbocharged VTEC POWER: 127 kW @ 5 500 r/min TORQUE: 220 N.m @ 1 700 r/min ECONOMY (COMBINED): 5,9 L/100 km SERVICE PLAN: 5-year/90 000 km WARRANTY: 5-year/200 000 km PRICE: R460 000 _ JANUARY 2017


You don’t need much more car than this. Maybe a little bit more boot space and bigger wheels, but not too much more car. Mahindra have a knack of delivering comparable features at a far lower price. They’re kind of like the Hisense of the car world. Measured against the well-considered Ford Ecosport (which is quite clearly the model the KUV’s designers penned it to compete against), the vehicle holds up quite well. I didn't take it on a recent family trip to Robertson because it was quite windy that day and the high centre of gravity and tiny wheels would’ve been a chore in a stiff crosswind. Even in top spec, the KUV100 doesn’t break R200 000 and still manages to bundle in corner braking control as well as speed-sensing automatic door locks as a standard safety feature across the range. Not many manufacturers can claim that. On the flip side it’s almost impossible to dial in a perfect seating position and the lorry-like low floor and high-mounted gear lever are quite comical for a car this small. The wheels make even less sense when you consider the state of Indian and South African roads where potholes swallow 14-inch tyres whole. The KUV100 had just enough charm to make me a fan and offered more than enough value for me to recommend it as a solid alternative to Renault’s all-conquering Sandero Stepway. That said, the price is on the steep side in such a comparison.

NEED TO KNOW ENGINE: 1,2-litre three-cylinder mFalcon D75 intercooled common rail direct injection turbodiesel POWER: 57 kW @ 3 750 r/min TORQUE: 190 N.m @1 750 r/min ECONOMY (COMBINED): 4,6 L/100 km PRICE: R198 000

JANUARY 2017 _ 77






HYUNDAI TUCSON DIESEL Local fans of Hyundai’s massively popular SUV have been eagerly awaiting a diesel option; and now they’ve been given two: a new, efficient low-emission 85 kW 1,7-litre and a powerful 131 kW 2,0-litre Euro 2. Interestingly, in addition to being efficient, the 1,7, which conforms to Euro 6 emissions requirements, has 30 000-km service intervals. Both diesels are front-wheel drive only; the 1,7 delivers its 280 N.m of torque (between 1 250 and 2 750 r/min) via a six-speed manual gearbox whereas the 2,0 has a six-speed automatic and develops 400 N.m. Our launch drive route wasn’t particularly demanding – a mix of urban, country roads and freeways with a brief foray on gravel – but it illustrated well the typical use scenario for vehicles like the Tucson. The Tucson is one of the most comprehensively equipped vehicles in its segment when it comes to safety features and this has shown in its top five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating. Its safety features include Blind Spot Detector (BSD), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Rear-Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Hill-start Assist Control and six airbags. Standard infotainment includes a 10-cm display, steering wheel satellite controls and Blueooth; a navigation and entertainment system incorporating a 20-cm touch screen, is available as a R15 000 option. Price (diesel) from R439 900 including new 7-year/200 000 km drivetrain warranty, and 5-year/90 000 km service plan. 78





The good news: Renault’s compact crossover is one of the cheapest new cars you can buy. The bad news: that price comes at, well, a cost. Although the specification list includes some nice-to-have technology, the Kwid falls short in important areas. Dynamics, for one thing: performance is pedestrian, to say the least. Although the Kwid is able to maintain its speed on moderate inclines, the new 50 kW/91 N.m 1.0-litre Smart Control efficiency (SCe) engine just doesn’t provide any real get up and go. When a headwind or tailwind enters the equation, straightline speed is noticeably affected. The Kwid’s upright, high-riding stance (ground clearance is 180 mm) makes it particularly susceptible to crosswinds and the woolly steering adds to a feeling of a lack of stability. Then there’s safety. At launch the Renault brass were somewhat apologetic about the Kwid’s unusually poor (for a Renault) crash test rating. Being an entry level car, it’s light on what more sophisticated vehicles would include as standard items: ABS brakes for one thing, and a more comprehensive airbag complement. Standard equipment includes 18-cm Touchscreen MediaNav with Bluetooth, driver’s airbag and front electric windows, air-con and remote central locking. Boot space doesn’t look at all impressive, but is quoted at 300 litres, which is comparable with some bigger vehicles. Price: from R119 900, including 5-year/150 000km mechanical warranty and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty.

Small cars have long been a Suzuki strong point and the Baleno grows that reputation. Not only is the Baleno a comfortable and refined drive, it also feels well screwed together. The interior and finishes have a quality feel, too. That must have played a role in this vehicle being the first to builtin-India Suzuki to be exported to the company’s home country, Japan; in fact, to altogether 30 countries. Though bigger than Suzuki’s popular Swift compact, the Baleno uses the same proven 68 kW 1,4-litre engine, with either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Designed for efficiency, it boasts lightweight construction and a wind-cheating body that, with a drag coefficient of just 0,299, is said to be the company’s most aerodynamic production model yet. Quoted average fuel consumption is 5,1 litres/100 km (manual) and 5,4 litres/100 km (automatic). But it’s no slouch: quoted performance figures were borne out by the Baleno’s peppy performance on our Eastern Cape launch drive. Standard safety items include ABS brakes with EBD and EBA, dual front airbags (add side and curtain bags on the GLX version) and pre-tensioners and load limiters on the front seatbelts. Convenience features include electric windows front and rear, airconditioning, audio system with integrated Bluetooth (plus auxiliary controls on the multifunction steering wheel) and, on the GLX version, a 6,2-inch TFT colour screen. Price: R199 900, including a four-year/ 60 000 km service plan. _ JANUARY 2017



WARNING: Clearing OBD codes can lead to a failed inspection. The car records the wipe, which might make inspectors wonder what you’re hiding.


That outlet below and to the

right of your steering column is called an OBD-II (onboard diagnostic) port, standard on any car made after 1996. Plug in one of these and you can mine your car’s brain for useful information. OBD dongles are a recent invention made possible by smartphone proliferation, but I’ve always doubted their usefulness. They can tell you tons of specifics, not all of it helpful. I’ve never been broken down by the side of the road with an out-of-spec oxygen sensor. But new models have more abilities, such as coaching you to use less fuel, displaying performance stats on your phone, and, of course, giving you a prognosis when that Check Engine light besmirches your instrument cluster. I tried three OBD dongles on a 2017 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid to find out whether the car – or my driving – warranted intervention.




Automatic’s most potentially useful application: crash alert. If the device’s accelerometers detect a collision, you’ll get a call. If you don’t answer, Automatic dispatches emergency services and calls your family. A more quotidian function (let’s hope) computes a driving score based primarily on fuel consumption. Accelerate too hard and it’ll chirp out a peevish alarm. The scold threshold is comically low, docking me for six “hard accels” in 48 kilometres of driving. It’s like having your nervous Nana riding shotgun, screaming every time you exceed 50. Even the Energi’s feeble electric-only acceleration can incur a tsk-tsk. Although 47 of my 48 kilometres were in electric mode, the app somehow concluded that the Fusion got 5,6 litres/100 km and used about R60 in fuel. Clearly bogus, Automatic. Try again. $100, no subscription

The attraction here is the gadget factor. You use the GoTech to turn your phone into a bank of digital gauges, some of which are more useful than others. Coolant temperature? Sure, particularly if your car doesn’t have that on the dash. But in my hundreds of thousands of kilometres behind the wheel, I’ve never had occasion to say, “Gee, I wonder what my mass airflow rate is right now?” On late ’90s and early 2000’s vehicles that frequently request engine-checking, diagnosing warning lights would be helpful. But you might not even get that far. I tried the GoTech on a big SUV with an electronic transfer case stuck in four-wheel drive. The GoTech reported that the vehicle was A-okay. Its gremlins must’ve been frolicking on a deeper circuit. $85, no subscription

The Zubie’s primary function is to monitor teen drivers. It uses fuel level, speed and location to identify miscreant behaviour, then tells your parents. To test its narcing abilities, I drove like my 16-year-old self, flooring it and staying wide-open-throttle up a hill before slamming on the brakes. Minutes later, I get an email: “Hard brake on Fusion.” Yet the final trip summary reports zero “rapid accels”. Zubie defines rapid acceleration as a 12 km/h increase within one second. Apparently, the Fusion, heading uphill, didn’t meet that criterion. When it works, I can see the appeal for parents like me. But every story has a context. Hard braking can mean you avoided hitting a deer. So work on your stories, kids. And don’t unplug the device. That definitely gets reported. $100 per year


This affordable piece of plastic (R500, might be the simplest safety device you can buy. Unlike visibility-obscuring windshield mounts, the Kenu Airframe+ clips to your car’s HVAC vents, gripping your phone with its spring-loaded arm. The next time you’re using Waze or glancing at an incoming call, your phone is up near your line of sight, not sliding around on the passenger seat or riding on the centre console. The reality is, you’re going to look at your phone while you’re driving. You may as well put it where you can see it. PM

JANUARY 2017 _ 79



In a new home with little room and my kids too big for cribs, I built their first bed with rough plans, reclaimed timber, and a little help from my dad. BY CHAD STOKES

A comprehensive guide to getting back in the air. BY ALEX ANDER GEORGE 80

You watched your fragile, complicated, expensive flying camera bounce between tree branches like a pachinko machine, then thud against the ground. Or maybe you hit the throttle, then let off on the throttle, only to have the drone refuse to listen and shoot out of sight into the sky. It happens to everyone. Everyone we know, at least. But what no one seemed to know was what do you do about it? We kamikazeed a drone and found out. _ JANUARY 2017




Even if the damage looks minor, pay for an authorised shop. The crash may have knocked circuit boards loose, affecting much more than you see. Call the manufacturer or check its website to see if there’s an authorised repair centre anywhere near you. WeFix stores are sanctioned to do DJI drone repairs. The rest work with other brands. The biggest benefit here will be turnaround time, which, compared to the huge queue you’ll face when sending a drone back to the manufacturer (see Option 2), will take around two weeks instead of six or more. You’re also more likely to deal with an invested human being. OPTION 2 SEND IT TO THE MANUFACTURER

Returning drones to the manufacturer can be a horrible experience – multimonth waits, indifferent customer service, At the EHang facilities in Redwood City, warranty disputes – but if you don’t have California, six full-time technicians repair an authorised repair shop nearby, there’s about a dozen drones per week. no better option. The huge facilities have factory parts and calibration software that ensure a proper repair. If you are among the five per cent of pilots who crash due to build defects, not pilot error, and you’re within the warranty, repairs are free. Just don’t expect to convince anyone that the crash wasn’t your fault if it really was. Drones have internal black boxes that record exactly what happened before a collision. Some manufacturers have made the return process easier, providing an alternative to DJI’s notoriously difficult customer service. EHang will repair a new about a two-week wait. The global Ghostdrone 2.0 VR up to three times within a year recall was handle quite swiftly this of purchase, and they claim that they’ll do it with only way. Even DJI came out with DJI a 10- to 14-day turn-around. Autel Robotics has live Care for the Phantom 4, which customer service on call seven days a week and twowill pay for repairs up to the value week returns. Another option is to buy something like of the drone. Whatever drone you GoPro’s two-year Care coverage, which allows you to get, if the company offers insurance get your Karma not just repaired, but replaced with coverage, buy it.


01/Never take your eye off the drone, or at least its live video feed. But really, never take your eye off the drone.

02/When using the “home” function to bring your drone back to you, remember that it will fly a straight line back to its takeoff spot, regardless of the number of trees in its way.

03/Avoid aftermarket accessories. A better gimbal mount or bigger battery may be tempting, but even an extra gram can beset your drone with the maneouverability of an airborne rubbish truck.


If you clipped a propeller on a branch, or if you cracked the camera component on a simple model, like the Parrot Bebop 2, which has manufacturer instructional videos online, go ahead and replace it. Beyond that, don’t try it. “You can replace a motor if you’re good at soldering,” says Werner von Stein, an engineer and head of the SF Drone School in San Francisco. “But if you had a pretty hard landing, it could be something else. When parts cost R7 000 or R12 000, it’s better to replace the whole aircraft.” If you want to try to repair it anyway, companies like Yuneec and Parrot sell parts directly. DJI doesn’t sell as many parts, but you can buy scrap drones online and use those components. And if you mess things up, well, you can get a little money selling your drone for scrap on eBay.

04/Don’t land. Most stuff-ups occur near the ground. Fly it in just above head height and grab it, like a falcon landing on your arm. Then kill the props while they’re still safely above the terrible, unforgiving earth.

05/Paint the bottom of your drone bright orange. And put your phone number on it. And don’t grow too attached.

JANUARY 2017 _ 81


CANNING AND PICKLING It’s delicious. And healthy. What are you waiting for? BY KATIE MACDONALD

Why preserve your own food? For most of human history, preservation was a survival mechanism. Fermenting and pickling, among the oldest forms of cooking we know, kept us from getting sick. Over millennia, we developed simple, almost instinctual techniques as varied as the cultures that span the globe. But, in only a couple of hundred years, technology has reduced the repertoire of most people to two: refrigeration and buying commercially processed foods. And in forgoing the time-consuming tasks we once used to maximise our harvest, we’ve abandoned two fundamentals of eating: nutrition and flavour. Medical studies are now proving what our instincts said all along: good bacteria and microbes are essential to our health. Preserving food by fermenting is the easiest way to get them into our bodies, since it allows bacteria to multiply and grow before entering our gut. And if you’ve ever tasted a perfect kimchi, you know it’s got a funky, sour flavour unlike anything else. So, after generations of consuming industrialised food, let’s reintroduce a practice as old as agriculture itself. No culinary training is necessary, and the results taste better than anything you can buy in a store. Sure, it takes some new equipment, patience and discipline. Don’t sweat the learning curve. Unlike our ancestors, we aren’t preserving because we have to, but simply because we want to. EDWARD LEE grew up on traditional Korean cuisine prepared by his grandmother, who emigrated from South Korea to the US.

At his restaurants, he finds the affinity between the food of the American Deep South – the only place, he says, that loves pickling as much as Korea – and the stuff he grew up on. He is the author of Smoke & Pickles.

82 _ JANUARY 2017





No one wants to eat green beans for three weeks straight. Use boiling water to kill bacteria and vacuum-seal your excess harvest in a mason jar, and you won’t have to – it’ll stay good for up to a year.

FOODS The extra fruits and vegetables from your garden are a great place to start. Avoid anything with bruises or mould and try to preserve fruits and vegetables as soon as possible after they’ve been harvested. Depending on the produce, you’ll usually get a litre canned for every one and a half kilograms of fresh produce.

Why canning works (And how to make sure it did)

➡ Glass mason jars (The easiest to find are Consol)

Jar lids (sealing metal discs) and bands (the threaded metal rings that hold down the lids)

Oven mitt

Canning rack

Jar lifter with rubber grips


Large pot


Jar lids have a ring of a compound called Plastisol around the edge, in a trough that fits over the top of the jar. Plastisol is soft at high temperatures, but hardens at room temperature. As the heat of the canning process causes gases and the food to expand, creating higher pressure inside the jar than outside, air is able to vent out through the Plastisol.

WHAT TO EXPECT ➼ Time: The actual canning sterilising airtight containers in hot water – usually takes only about half an hour. But you’ll want to set aside a whole afternoon to make time for food prep, and the fact that you have to process in batches, since most pots won’t hold very many jars at once. ➼ Recipes: There is a canning bible, and its called Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It’s been around in one form or another since 1909, so its recipes are time-tested. Most importantly, each recipe explains how to prepare a food before canning it, which might be as simple as heating whole fruit, but often requires a bit of cooking. ➼ Process: First, yes, canning actually means sealing food in jars. Go figure. Once you’ve got the food packed in, you can can it in two ways: either with a big pot

of boiling water, or a pressure canner, which gets even hotter. High-acid foods, like fruits and salsa, are safe to process in a pot because the acidity does some of the work of killing bacteria. That makes jellies and jams the easiest place to start. The two processes follow the same steps, though: mason jars are warmed in the hot water and then packed, leaving a little bit of space to create a strong vacuum seal. The filled jar goes back into the hot water for as long as the recipe says. Then you sit and wait for the characteristic popping sound made as the jar cools and the vacuum secures the lid. Be careful with foods that contain dairy

products, as fats can insulate bacteria T I P!

from heat – that risks botulism. Check the National Centre for Home Food Preservation’s (NCHFP) guidelines for dairy and other foods at

Then, when the jar cools, the Plastisol hardens into a tight seal. By the time the jar has cooled to room temperature, so much air has vented that pressure inside the jar is lower than outside. This makes the properly sealed lid concave; if it’s flat or bulging, it’s not sealed. Test it by tapping the lid; a pinging sound means a proper seal.

JANUARY 2017 _ 83

If you want to improve upon Nature even more, submerging foods in an acidic environment not only preserves them up to three or four months, but also gives them a distinctive tangy flavour.



You can pickle just about anything, but if you’re fermenting – a type of pickling – use produce with high water content, such as root vegetables, cabbage, kale or cucumbers. Fruits will ferment, but because yeast feast on their sugars, you may need a starter like kombucha or extra salt to prevent them from spoiling or becoming too alcoholic. EQUIPMENT

Pickling salt

Stone or other weight

Mixing bowl


Wooden spoon



THE CLASSIC DILL PICKLE INGREDIENTS (For a one-gallon container)

2 kg 2 Tbsp or 4-5 heads 1/2 cup 1/4 cup 8 cups

➼ Recipes: The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving also offers expert guidance on




10-cm pickling cucumbers dill seed fresh or dry dill non-iodised salt distilled white vinegar water

WHAT TO EXPECT ➼ Time: Patience is key. You wont spend hours in the kitchen, but, depending on the method of pickling you choose, it can take anywhere from a day to weeks to achieve the perfect flavour. Feel free to eat your pickles as quickly as you want, though.



Wash cucumbers and remove blossom ends, leaving half a centimetre of stem attached. Place half the dill on the bottom of your container, then the cucumbers, then the remaining dill. In a separate bowl, mix salt, vinegar, and water until salt dissolves. Pour mixture over cucumbers, put a weight on top to keep them submerged, then tightly cover the container with cheesecloth.



Check the container several times a week and promptly remove surface scum or mold. Pickles that are soft, slimy, or excessively smelly should be discarded. At room temperature, expect to allow three to four weeks of fermentation (choosing when to stop is a matter of taste). Lower temperatures slow the process; temperatures above 25 will make the pickles too soft.

With thanks to Benjamin Chapman and the NCHFP.

pickles. So do we: try the classic dill pickle recipe, above.

➼ Process: Pickles are just produce on acid: either vinegar or fermentation’s lactic acid. Adding vinegar, salt, sugar and spices in a jar creates a quick pickle in as little as 24 hours. Fermentation takes longer because it has two stages. The salt in the vinegar mix draws water out of the cucumbers,

forming a brine that makes it harder for harmful bacteria to grow. Then good lactobacilli bacteria already living on the cucumbers convert sugars into lactic acid, which preserves the produce and adds tanginess. A clean cloth or cheesecloth secured with a rubber band vents gases from fermentation and forms a barrier to mould and harmful bacteria. After a couple of weeks in the jar, fermented pickles are ready.

Pickling simply refers to the practice of preserving food in an acidic medium. Fermenting is a type of pickling, because the salty brine and lactobacilli create their own acidic environment. So, whereas this recipe uses fermentation, you can pickle things (including cucumbers) simply by submerging them in vinegar and refrigerating them. They will still taste great, but won’t include the cohort of healthy bacteria. _ JANUARY 2017


Glass, porcelain, or ceramic container

ASK ROY Popular Mechanics’ senior home editor solves your most pressing problems. BY R OY B ER EN D S O H N

For those who don’t know, bobs are used to find the true vertical when building a structure. Generally, steel plumb bobs are less expensive than brass. Brass bobs, however, are better made – nicely machined in a full-body taper. Most even have a replaceable hardened-steel tip. With steel plumb bobs, you usually get a hexagon bar with a cone-shaped tip machined on the end. Except for the expensive and impeccable steel plumb bobs from storied toolmaker LS Starrett. Those tend to be lighter, smaller and narrower than brass, making them easier to carry in a toolbox. And their narrow profile makes them better suited for dropping close to a vertical surface. Since the average steel plumb bob is lighter than brass, steel is less suited for outdoor use because a slight breeze can cause it to sway. And that brings us to our final issue: which plumb bob settles faster? It’s not a matter of material, actually. A masterful study by The Plumb Line Continuum (a newsletter for plumb-bob collectors, who actually exist) found that a heavier plumb bob on a longer line takes longer to settle than a lighter one on a shorter line, due to the bob’s tendency to act like a pendulum. But here it gets complicated. The brass bob’s classic taper moves its centre of gravity higher above the floor, effectively reducing line length and offsetting the pendulum action created by its higher weight. So which should you use? If I have a choice, I go with brass for outdoors and steel when I’m inside. JANUARY 2017 _

A few months after I painted the walls in our living room, faint shadowy lines showed up. What did I do wrong? You probably painted on a cold surface. Moisture in the air condenses on the colder part of the surface, dust clings to it, and mildew forms, causing the lines that you see. I’m guessing that your lines are along drywall studs or ceiling joists. This is because of a phenomenon known as thermal bridging, in which the framing lumber conducts cold from the outside wall to the interior drywall. Two things cause this: you have inadequate or poorly installed insulation, or you have an air leak on the outside wall surface that’s letting cold air into the wall cavity. Most likely those shadow lines were there before you painted, and they became more apparent with the new paint. If you added brighter paint, the shadow lines will provide even more contrast to it. Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy solution. First, you need to hire a specialist to inspect the house with an infrared camera, revealing exactly where the house is leaking energy. Based on that information, you know where to seal air leaks and install insulation. After that work is complete, apply a primer sealer to the wall to permanently hide the discolouration. Follow that with the same topcoat paint that you used in the rest of the room. Painting the wall from corner to corner will most likely make it indistinguishable from the rest of the room.

Brushless cordless tools are lighter, smaller, stronger and more . . .



Is there any benefit to steel plumb bobs over brass, or vice versa?




Time: 1 hour 


Ages: 10+


OUR BUILDER: 11-year-old Devan Garman.




Dispenser box top (A)

25 x 25 x 150


Back panel (B)

6 x 200 x 250


Dispenser box side (C

25 x 25 x 25


Distribution rod (D)

20 x 350


Obstacle dowel (E)

10 x 50


Obstacle block (F)

25 x 25 x 25


Catch-box side (G)

25 x 25 x 200


Catch-box side (H)

25 x 25 x 100


Catch-box bottom (I)

6 x 150 x 200


Catch-box divider (J)

scrap, 100 long


Clear plastic panel (K)

5 x 200 x 250


Pan-head screw (L)

No 85/200-mm


Wood screw (M)

50 mm


Cork (N)


Box brad nails

25 mm

Wood glue








S ★



★ H G




CANDY DISPENSER! Much more fun than a bowl on the counter. DESIGNED BY JAMES SCHADEWALD



TO SAND the inside of the dowel holes, wrap sandpaper around the drill bit and run it briefly in each hole. Also, when you go to predrill the screw holes in the plastic sheet, make sure the bit is slightly larger than the screw shank. We cracked two sheets using too-small holes. And finally, don’t store the dispenser in the window. At least not when it’s full. Jellybeans melt together, and M&Ms softened so much they got crushed when we turned the dowel. _ JANUARY 2017










INSTRUCTIONS kid only parent only parent and kid

1. Mark the panel dimensions for the back of the dispenser box and the catcher on the sheet of plywood. Cut to size with a jigsaw and an 8-tpi wood-cutting blade. 2. Cut remaining wood parts to size using a backsaw and a plastic mitre box. 3. Use a 20-mm spade bit to make the two holes for the distribution rod in the sides and one for the cork in the top block of the dispenser box. Align the three pieces to form the box and apply a bead of wood glue to the surface.









4. Press the back panel into position on the glued frame. Holding brad nails with needle-nose pliers to prevent pinched fingers, drive the brads through the plywood into the box sides and top. Repeat this process to form the catch box. 5. Use a 10-mm twist drill bit to drill five to ten holes in the back panel of the distribution box. Glue the obstacle blocks to the panel. Anywhere is fine. 6. Position the precut plastic panel over the box frame, bore pilot holes for its mounting screws, and screw down the plastic cover. Insert dowels randomly in the holes in the back panel. 7. Hold the distribution box flat on the workbench, up against the edge. Butt the catch box up to it and drill a pilot hole through the bottom of the catch box and into the sides of the distribution box. Fasten with 50-mm wood screws. 8. Cut a notch for the sugary goodies to fall through into the pivoting dowel using the half-round surface of a wood rasp. Fit the dowel in the box and turn it to check for free movement. Add candy.


Start a child you know on a lifetime of projects with a gift subscription to Popular Mechanics. Go to

JANUARY 2017 _ 87


A KNOT TO KNOW THE BARREL HITCH On occasions when you’re lifting a cylindrical object a serious distance – say, hoisting roofing tools in a paint bucket that’s lost its handle – a barrel hitch secures the cylinder upright while adding a handle of rope.

Can opener defeats infuriating plastic packaging STEP 1 In the middle of the rope, make a loop and pass one end of the rope through it. This is called an overhand knot. Do not tighten it.

Senior editor Roy Berendsohn recently designed this simple courier for project hardware. Start with scrap plywood – say 250 by 450 mm – then cut a second piece 50 mm shorter on all sides. Stack them, centring the smaller piece below the larger one. Now gather disposable but sturdy open-topped containers, like takeaway dishes or tin cans. Fix them to the base with screws long enough to penetrate both layers. Tall containers (soup cans) are great for things like drill bits, wrenches and drivers; short containers (cat-food tins) for nuts, bolts and washers. The heft of the plywood keeps the courier sturdy, and the smaller bottom piece creates a lip so it is easy to grip, even one-handed.

M FROE— ES —TH HIV ARC 9!) 6 (19


If you need to cut a pipe or piece of wood above chest height, remove a hacksaw’s blade, invert the hacksaw, and place it around the item to be cut. Then reattach the blade, teeth pointing to the ground. Now you can more effectively use leverage (and gravity) while cutting.


Pool noodle protects car door If you, your spouse, or your teenager (but always blame the teenager) tend to open the car door into the garage wall, protect the door with a pool noodle by cutting one in half longitudinally, then gluing it to the wall at the height where the door hits.

STEP 3 Grab the top right loop of the pretzel and fold it over downward, creating a Figure-of-eight shape.

STEP 4 Put your bucket on top of the middle part of the figure eight. Pull the ends of the rope to cinch the top and bottom parts tightly around the bucket. Ensure they are above its centre of gravity, but not so high they could slip off.

STEP 5 Add a handle by using a bowline knot to join the ends of the rope.

Spectacle case stores drill bits The cases that many drill bits come in are subpar – made of flimsy plastic, they break or don’t hold bits firmly in place. So it’s inevitable that you’ll end up with free-floating bits in your toolbox. Try storing them in a spare glasses case, which is just the right size and usually has padding inside to protect their finely machined edges.


Portable parts caddy from scrap

STEP 2 Lay the overhand knot on the ground and arrange the rope into a pretzel shape. Loosen it enough that your bucket could fit inside its loop.

Heat-sealed heavy-duty plastics, like those used for packaging hand tools, can be a nightmare to open; it’s easy to damage the product inside (or yourself) in the process. Luckily, the sealed edge is about the width of the sealed top of a tin can, so a standard manual rotary can opener can easily remove it. _ JANUARY 2017



There is no time I don’t use this. Beyond the basic packaging function, it increases efficiency and product integrity, from resting and accelerating the hydration of fresh pasta to compressing fruit to change its texture.

I STARTED COOKING with handheld tools and

transitioned to machines only after mastering the classical, tactile ways to prepare food. In the mid-1990s, when modern innovative cooking came to the world stage, I learnt that when machines save time and cost or improve flavour or texture, then tradition could discreetly benefit from technology. That’s why I describe my work as “handmade food with the help of machines”. – As told to Francine Maroukian


Manual is better than electrical because then the meat is not exposed to friction and heat, which changes the taste.


The industry standard. I have two. One with a plastic body, but also one with a metal body, which will process cold things and keep them cold despite the heat created by the motor.



Instead of the typical custard base spun into ice cream via a freezing machine, a completely frozen base is shaved with a titanium blade at high speed, resulting in super-smooth texture.



5 6

4 3

I am passionate about making hot sauce, and like to control every aspect from seed to bottle. I can’t blend the fermented liquid in a plastic canister because it retains aroma. So this metal version is a necessity. Also, not only is it efficient, but it’s big enough to make large batches of sauce.



THE SUBJECT: Shola Olunloyo THE JOB: Chef and founder of Studio Kitchen food lab LOCATION: Philadelphia

I give everything a second look and explore variations in my approach. That’s how I came to freeze-drying, a method of dehydration requiring a vacuum pump that works on the theory of sublimation. Freezing the water content and then gradually moving from a solid state to gas while avoiding the liquid phase allows for a high degree of aroma, colour and nutrient retention.

JANUARY 2017 _ 89





PLUS receive this Zoom headlamp FREE! This handy headlamp is compact enough to fit in your car or toolbox. The LED, which is contained in a hardy plastic shell, offers three levels of operation: high light, low light and a flashing mode. The three AAA batteries (included) power the beam to a 170-metre range. An adjustable elastic band accommodates heads of all sizes.

+ FREE delivery of your magazine + FREE Digital subscription Already a subscriber? Save 35%. Extend your annual subscription for only R288 and receive all the benefits of the offer above.

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This offer is valid until 31 January 2017 and applies to print subscribers with a South African address only. Stock of gift is subject to availability and while stocks last. Subscriptions with free gifts cannot be cancelled until the annual contract has expired. By providing your personal details, you are giving Popular Mechanics permission to communicate with you via email or SMS. Print subscribers can claim a FREE digital version – just contact us to confirm the email address for the link. For foreign rates and other great offers, visit


To advertise in Buyer’s Guide contact Joanne, Lindi or Patrick on 011 449 1100 or email:

JANUARY 2017 _ 91



To advertise in Buyer’s Guide contact Joanne, Lindi or Patrick on 011 449 1100 or email: _ JANUARY 2017


To advertise in Buyer’s Guide contact Joanne, Lindi or Patrick on 011 449 1100 or email:

CFP TECHNOLOGIES Electric motors & Drives

Speed Control for your Machinery, Pumps, Conveyors, Fans, Mixers, etc Variable Speed Drives for Electric Motors (VFD’s or VSD’s) Single phase input, three phase output models. 0.18 Kw - 4 Kw Three phase input, three phase output models. 0.18 Kw - 1000 Kw

Electric Motors Single Phase: 0.12 Kw - 7.5 Kw Three Phase: 0.18 Kw - 330 Kw

Please visit website for more information and prices.

Website: Email: Tel: 012 5673618 / 012 5430683 Cell: 0828570324 JANUARY 2017 _ 93



To advertise in Buyer’s Guide contact Joanne, Lindi or Patrick on 011 449 1100 or email: _ JANUARY 2017


To advertise in Buyer’s Guide contact Joanne, Lindi or Patrick on 011 449 1100 or email:

CFP TECHNOLOGIES Digital readouts (DRO) for Milling Machines & Lathes Linear Glass scales. 130 mm - 1 200 mm Magnetic scales up to 32 m

Please visit website for more information and prices.

Website: Email: Tel: 012 5673618 / 012 5430683 Cell: 0828570324

JANUARY 2017 _ 95



To advertise in Buyer’s Guide contact Joanne, Lindi or Patrick on 011 449 1100 or email: _ JANUARY 2017


To advertise in Buyer’s Guide contact Joanne, Lindi or Patrick on 011 449 1100 or email: 011 021 3869

KHS H3 Tritium Military Watches

SN1014-12M Sniper Game/Security Camera R5499 Stealth Security Monitoring. Invisible Infra Red LED Flash. 15M Night Time Distance. Triggers on motion and sends photo to your phone or email (3G). Takes HD Video. Weather proof. 0.4 seconds Trigger time. Runs on Batteries so can be placed anywhere. Excellent for security or game spotting

SN8053 Sniper “Predator” R2299 Reaper R3999

It is robust, lightweight and equipped with the very popular H3 colour scheme “Red Halo”

Shooter R4999

This KHS special operations watch is characterized by its tactical features such as the H3 color scheme “HiCon” with 16 Trigalights

2500 Lumen Dual Power. 25 Watt LED Spotlight. This light is rechargeable but can also run directly from the vehicle

JANUARY 2017 _ 97



To advertise in Buyer’s Guide contact Joanne, Lindi or Patrick on 011 449 1100 or email: _ JANUARY 2017


To advertise in Buyer’s Guide contact Joanne, Lindi or Patrick on 011 449 1100 or email:

JANUARY 2017 _ 99






PULLING THE PLUG Ever had a hard time trying to unplug one of our oversized SA electric
plugs? Here’s a simple but effective solution. Simply cut out any piece of
offcut leather, synthetic leather, or similar fabric into the shape shown in photos. I used an old placemat. Spent cartridges or any short piece
of pipe that has been sharpened make nice hole punches; alternatively, fold the material double and cut
out a diamond shape using scissors. It helps if you first make a paper
This little gadget really works and any funky colour is possible.

The serious water shortages and local regulations in our country demand that no-one fill pools with municipal water. We resorted to harvesting as much rainwater as possible, but did not want a trip hazard with fixed pipes connected from gutter downpipes to the pool. I sourced a flexible, layflat hose (from Hose Centre in Edenvale, Gauteng) that fits snugly over a standard downpipe and can be quickly deployed to funnel water into the pool. When not in use it can be rolled or folded up out of the way. The downpipe spout on the end helps keep the hose in place during strong winds.



Send us your tip and you could win a Master Lock hamper worth R1 500 – which includes the following: Master Lock Mini Twin Wire Bungee No. 3018EURDAT. Features four 25-cm bungee cords with wire hooks for additional strength. The reverse hook design provides extra room for fastening and the hooks are rounded to avoid scratching. Master Lock Excell No. M15EURDLF Laminated Padlock. Features a 64-mm wide laminated steel body for maximum strength and reliability, surrounded by stainless steel and zinc outer components for weather resistance. High-security features include dual locking ball bearings and boron carbide octagonal shackle; packaged with 4 keys. Master Lock No. 604EURD. Set-YourOwn Combination Padlock. Housed in a 40-mm wide solid aluminium body with brass finish. Its 6-mm shackle is 26 mm long and made of chrome-plated steel that resists cutting and sawing. Master Lock No. 8016EURD Chain. 1m long, with 8-mm hardened steel links that offer extra resistance to cutting and sawing. The welded steel link design provides superior pry resistance and a vinyl sleeve protects against scratches.

COVER IT I’m always uncomfortable about leaving the socket part of an extension cord lying around on the ground when not in use. Even wrapping it in a plastic bag doesn’t always stop sand, rainwater or dew from getting in. My solution is to mount the socket part in a re-sealable plastic lunchbox. The new clip lid lunch boxes are quite robust and have a very good rubber seal. Drill a hole through the plastic side of the lunchbox and thread the cable through, using a cheap electrical grommet so that it fits snugly. Allow for a bit of play in the cable so that both sides of the socket can be used. Attach the lid to the cable with a cable tie so that it doesn’t get lost. You can also thread the cable through a hole in the wall and leave the socket

end outside permanently, plugging it in when you need it. Not only does this stop rainwater from getting in but it also protects the socket from dust, sand and mechanical damage. A word of warning: don’t just take a lunchbox from the cupboard. Some wives become attached to their plastic containers.


COOL POOL COVER Closed cell cross-linked expanded polyethylene manufacturers sell the top part of the cast (called SPX skins and normally 1 m x 2 m) at approximately R15 per sheet. The sheets are roughly 5 mm thick. This material is UV stable, floats on water and can be glued with contact glue. Glue the sheets together, cut to the pool shape (slightly bigger, so the edges curl up) and float on the pool. If the pool is too big, cut in slightly overlapping sections.


Send your tips to: PM Do It Your Way, Box 180, Howard Place 7450, or e-mail popularmechanics Please include your name, address and contact number. Regrettably, only South African residents are eligible for the prize. Prizes not claimed within 60 days will be forfeited.

STOP THE SLIP Trays come with pretty designs these days, but often are so slippery. Solution: the self-adhesive plastic film used to cover children’s textbooks. Invisible, effective and lasts forever.


RESERVATION OF COPYRIGHT The publishers of Popular Mechanics reserve all rights of reproduction or broadcasting of feature articles and factual data appearing in this journal under Section 12 (7) of the Copyright Act, 1978. Such reproduction or broadcasting may be authorised only by the publishers of Popular Mechanics. Published by RamsayMedia for the Proprietors, Popular Mechanics, 36 Old Mill Rd, Ndabeni, Western Cape. Distributed by RNA, 12 Nobel St, Industria West, Johannesburg, and printed by CTP Web, 12-14 Boompies Street, Parow, Cape Town. Apple Mac support: Digicape tel 021 674-5000.

100 _ JANUARY 2017

JHB 57886/OJ/E As seen on DStv


Stefan Garlicki – SA National Downhill Mountain Bike Champion 2015

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