AFRIKABURN 2014 DIARY: First Impressions and Lessons Learned from a Burner Virgin

It's strange to be back in rainy and wintery Cape Town after a week in the Karroo desert - where it is so hot during the day that the moisture literally gets sucked out of your body through your bare feet. Of course it's the opposite extreme at night when your balls disappear to who-knows-where and you get permanent nipple-rise through seven layers of clothing. Ahhh, such is life in the desert...

Afrikaburn 2014 Diary

Afrikaburn 2014 has been one of the absolute highlights of my year. Although I have already readjusted back into 'normal' society, I am still digesting the whole experience. It can be quite overwhelming for first-timers.

Afrikaburn 2014 Diary 2Afrikaburn is certainly no place for the prudish or for those can't handle getting a little dirty and shitting off. If the thought of having an open-air pooh in the Karroo (in a compost toilet) while others saunter past or perhaps bathe in the nude nearby scares you, then Afrikaburn is not for you. If, on the other hand, you welcome the sweaty embrace of those on ecstasy, listening to shroomy interpretations of beauty or witnessing ideas of alternative living come to life, then put Afrikaburn on the calendar right now!

Afrikaburn is not for the ill-prepared, but at the same time it was not nearly as tough-going as I expected it to be (which probably has a lot to do with my semi-rustic upbringing). The Afrikaburn Survival Guide (which one is encouraged to read beforehand) warns about puff adders and scorpions – flash floods and heat-stroke – and the highly likely event that you might die. The organisation of the event is top-notch though, with medical staff and “rangers” doing regular patrols. There is also a camp called Sanctuary where one can go if it all feels a bit much.

Afrikaburn 2014 Diary 3

Afrikaburn may sound like one massive drug festival but it really attracts people from all walks of life. Feral children run amok and you're bound to come across at least one nudist per day, but I would say that the majority of Burners are friendly, open, creative and generous sorts. You could quite honestly go there with nothing and survive on the kindness of others (if you had to).

Participation and volunteering at Afrikaburn is encouraged. It is a place to express yourself however you talents or imagination see fit. Some throw bones and read your future while others offer home-brewed beer. If you feel you have nothing to offer, you can always volunteer to clean up MOOP (Material Out Of Place). Or you can simply get naked, meditate and be one with nature.

Afrikaburn 2014 Diary 8

Money is worthless at Afrikaburn. Nothing is for sale apart from R20 bags of ice. Coffee, alcohol, food, water, showers, performances and various activities are all on offer, for free, every day. New artworks appear all the time – from the colossal to the miniature. You can paint your friends from head to toe if you like, or adorn yourself with hand-crafted jewelery. The only thing I still don't quite understand is the burning of it all. I know that the whole idea is to leave without a trace but how fantastic would it be to pass by gigantic artworks placed around the Karroo desert as one drives along the 113 km stretch of dusty road? Maybe I just don't get it yet.

Afrikaburn 2014 Diary 4

During the day it is fiercely hot, dusty and dry but with plenty to see. There are daily schedules but I honestly found it best to casually walk around and take it all in. There are various theme camps set up (some with their own head chefs) and you can catch a ride on one of the many mutant vehicles that roam around – from a giant rhinoceros to a flaming teacup. At night, the place looks like Las Vegas. Glow-sticks, LEDs, strobes and luminous outfits dominate and trance-type music pounds through the chilled air right up until sunrise. I would love to see an aerial shot of Afrikaburn at night...

Afrikaburn 2014 Diary 5

There were approximately 8500 people that attended Afrikaburn 2014 – up from about 4000 last year. It seems to be growing exponentially and has clearly caught international attention. I met people from France, Germany, Holland and the Americas – the latter who mentioned that the original Burning Man festival boasts around 65 000 people. I can't imagine what that must be like.

Afrikaburn 2014 Diary 6

So what did I learn from my whole Afrikaburn experience? One: there are some extremely talented and creative people in this country. Two: when people are encouraged to be lekker* (which is enforced by a majority ethos), the best in them can really shine. Three: embrace your inner-hippy! Four: wet-wipes and earplugs are highly underrated inventions. Five: access to fresh water is a hugely under-appreciated privilege. Finally, Afrikaburn can help you rediscover a part of yourself that you may have forgotten or lost. It certainly inspires you to live more sustainably – ideally off the grid entirely. Perhaps the organisers put it best with every new arrival when they say:

“ WELCOME HOME ”

Afrikaburn 2014 Diary 7

* All Afrikaburn 2014 Photos credited to my friend Evan Hughes
* Lekker: South African slang meaning good / worthy in a generic sense

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COOL WEBSITES: SA Tech Review looks to be a new trend-setter!

I’ve just started following @SATechReview on Twitter and have been thoroughly impressed with their technology news coverage. Did you know that Vodacom is likely to buy out Neotel? And that Canonical is bringing Ubuntu to smartphones and tablets? There are certainly a multitude of technology news websites to follow on the World Wide Web, but SA Tech Review really seems to be on the ball.

The SA Tech Review website offers some great content and resources for bloggers, tech-savvy IT professionals and online entrepreneurs. If you own a website, SA Tech Review offers to teach you how to promote it for free. If you’re an avid and popular twitterer, learn how to make some good money from your tweeting.

For business people and trend-spotters, SA Tech Review offers some great coverage of both local and global IT business analysis. There is a steady stream of news coverage and analysis on trends, as well as opportunities for IT professionals in various roles to get involved. SA Tech Review seems like a great destination for professionals seeking to research technology-related issues and solve business technology problems.

The SA Tech Review Website (image: www.satechreview.com)

The SA Tech Review Website (image: www.satechreview.com)

There is a great selection of mobile coverage on offer too. Blackberry, Samsung, Sony, Windows and Apple devices are all catered for, and there are some great resources available for smartphone users, such as a selection of the best SA apps for android. For those who like to engage in some serious debate, there are some more controversial articles too, such as “The Eminent End of Apple”...

South Africa is quickly catching up with the top players in the technology realm, and it’s great to see websites such as this moving forward with such gusto! I’m going to be keeping a watchful eye on SA Tech Review and I’m eagerly waiting to see what they cover next with keen interest. They seem to be steadily growing in popularity too – with close to 3 500 likes on Facebook and over 10 000 followers on Twitter.

With the fast-pace that technology is moving forward, it can become really difficult to keep up. I had honestly felt quite out of the loop over the past few months, but after spending just an hour with SA Tech Review, I’m starting to feel back on track! Bigs-ups to the peeps who run SA Tech Review; you are doing a sterling job. Keep it up and I thoroughly look forward to seeing what you put out next!

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VENTRIBE: A new simple-to-use group gifting platform!

VenTribe is a group gifting platform that allows friends to come together online and give a gift to a chosen recipient as a group. Traditionally, this process has always taken place offline. Now, there is a simple, secure, all-in-one place that this can happen. It’s the ideal platform for all sorts of occasions such as birthdays, weddings, Christmas, Graduation, Thank-you’s, community gifts, and even book-clubs. If you want to give with a group, VenTribe helps make that happen.

On the Site, members are able to highlight their close friends and build their own “Gift Tribe”. The site automatically reminds the user via email of upcoming birthdays (10 days in advance). Users are able to then head to VenTribe and can organize a “Group Gift”.

Ventrive Group Gifting

The VenTribe group gifting process is simple:

  • Choose a recipient for the gift
  • Enter what the occasion is
  • Choose a gift!

The gift categories range from fresh cut flowers, organic cosmetics and lifestyle products, to experiences, such as skydiving, jet-pack flying or photography classes. The organizer then chooses the privacy options for the Group Gift. Once they launch the Group Gift, a personalized page is created.

On the VenTribe Group Gift page members can:

  • Chip in and buy the gift together
  • Invite more friends to chip in via a private Facebook message or other social channels (Twitter, Pinterest, link share)
  • Track progress (how much has been contributed, who has been invited, send reminders)
  • Socialize around the recipient and the gift

Contributors to the Group Gift can write on the e-card, which is sent to the organizer to pass on to the lucky recipient once the Group Gift is completed.

No one is charged unless the Group Gift is fully funded, at which stage VenTribe transmits the order to their affiliated suppliers on the users' behalf. With no cash to collect, and a secure payment gateway, VenTribe makes organizing Group Gifts fun, simple, and social.

Ventribe Social Gifting

Where does VenTribe come from?

The VenTribe team hails from seven countries: Israel, South Africa, Kenya, Greece, Rwanda, Scotland and The United States, with four of its members attending school together in South Africa. The company was founded in 2011 by four of the abovementioned team members in Edinburgh, Scotland. After doing the groundwork and developing the site to an acceptable stage, the team moved across to Boulder, Colorado, where they have been based for the past 7 months and have launched out of their Beta stage.

VenTribe have also Collaborated with notable YouTube stars Devin Supertramp and Lindsey Stomp in the past. Collaborative videos have achieved over 8 million views.

It’s current affiliated suppliers are Zappos, BestBuy, Illy Cafe, Xperience Days, Lush Cosmetics, Organic Boquet, Dean and Deluca, just to name a few. In the near future, VenTribe will be opening the platform for users to create Group Gifts with products, services, and gift cards from anywhere on the web using a social bookmarking feature.

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* This review is spoiler free! *

Dear Esther,

I happened upon fragments of washed up letters found amongst the rubbish that the sea brings. Soggy parchments bring word that those on the mainland speak of my lonely plight as some sort of game.

I find it hard to believe that a world exists beyond this island. I am sometimes haunted by human-like figures in the distance, but I know that this is merely my own disillusion taunting me.

I sometimes don't recognise my own words on occasion where I find myself communing with the nature of this place. The car wreckage too seems unfamiliar at times, but again I wonder if it is this island that has dulled my sense.

The mystery surrounding the wrecked boats and ships on the island continue to taunt me. Their once sturdy frames rendered as fragile as paper to the rough seas. Only hollowed skeletons devoid of life remain.

I find myself drawn toward a flashing light like a moth to the flame. I hopelessly hold on to the belief that there lies my salvation. I painfully trek through the bowels of the island in search of answers … or to find a new kind of solace ...

Dear Esther Game Review

A red light beckons; broken boats and shipwrecks mystify.

Dear Esther Game Review - Caves

The atmosphere Dear Esther creates is incredible - it feels cold, damp and lonely.

* * * Dear Esther Game Review * * *

For me, playing a good game is like watching a well written movie but being involved in how that movie pans out. This is immersion at its best. If suspense-injected story-driven gameplay and immersion are what excite you as a gamer, then Dear Esther awaits you.

A mystical mix of good graphics, emotive music and thought-provoking narration is what Dear Esther offers. Although brief (1-2 hours), Dear Esther is a memorable experience from start to finish. The script does vary slightly each time you play, but it is the mature nature of the writing which leaves something new to be discovered each time.

“The script also deserves praise. It charts a course through vastly different topics you never realised you cared about before – folklore, the Bible, shepherding, travel writing, guilt and medicine – and turns them into something meaningful without speaking down to its audience.”
- Dear Esther Game Review by PC Gamer

There isn't much more that needs to be said about Dear Esther. I purchased the game off Steam for $10 and it has been worth every cent. So stay up late, dim the lights, expect no interruptions and enjoy the Dear Esther experience!

*** More Game Reviews ***

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V4L REVIEW: The most stylish electronic cigarette on the market

Vapor4Life is an electronic cigarette company which began business in 2009. It was founded by an ex-smoker, Steve Milin, who now uses e-cigarettes as a smoking alternative. When it comes to electronic cigarettes, Steve has tried them all. Like Steve, I have also tried a variety of e-cigs and can honestly say that none match up to the Vapor4Life electronic cigarette.

V4L e-cigarettes are not only long lasting but super stylish. Vapor4Life offers seven levels of nicotine and an impressive 150+ flavours to choose from. It currently offers the widest selection of flavours - from the sweet to the savory - than any other e-cigarette brand. I have been thoroughly enjoying some of their fruity flavours for the past few months.

Vapor4Life Electronic Cigarette Ultimate Starter Kit with Diamond Batteries

Vapor4Life Ultimate Starter Kit with Diamond Batteries

The Vapor4Life starter kits come with everything you need to enjoy the pleasures of flavoured vapours. This includes cartomizers (the filter part), which contain the nicotine and flavouring. Each cartomizer is equivalent to to approximately 15-20 regular cigarettes. The cartomizers can be reused and refilled several times using Vapor4Life e-Liquids.

The battery forms the shaft of the e-cigarette. Vapor4Life batteries are lithium ion and can be recharged between 200 and 400 times each. There are also a variety of accessories for your Vapor4Life electronic cigarette, including lanyards, wall and USB chargers, car adapters and portable charging cases.

What is an e-cigarette and how is it used?

An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that vaporises a liquid solution to create an alternative to smoking. The V4L e-cig is a two piece system consisting of a rechargeable battery and cartomizer. The cartomizer is a cartridge with a coil built in that heats up a solution, which contains nicotine and flavouring.

Particularly useful and stylish are Vapor4Life's carrying cases. These velvet lined cases can be used to house your electronic cigarette, a spare battery and four cartomizers, and are small enough to carry in your pocket.

To browse the wide selection of starter kits and Vapor4Life flavours and accessories, visit www.V4L.com. If you are already a fan of the Vapor4Life electronic cigarette, follow them on Twitter or join the Vapor4Life Facebook page.

Disclaimer
While smoking vapours is far less harmful to one's health than smoking cigarettes, it must be noted that electronic cigarettes do contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. This product is intended for adult smokers only and should be used at your own risk.

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