Explore: The Great Ocean Road

Ask any Melbournian and they will recommend a visit to the Great Ocean Road, it’s a simple masterpiece. With a length of 243 km, the Great Ocean Road contains something new and exciting every turn of the corner, whether it be a different landscape, another vibrant coastal town or a forest. Starting in Torquay and ending in Allansford, the Great Ocean road covers hundreds and thousands of landmarks, towns and events. I will cover the major attractions that are along the Great Ocean Road and some advice for those who want to have a fun driving experience.

The most famous attractions lay beyond the Otways national park, but we will start our coverage of the top ten places to visit along the Great Ocean Road from the start (east end).

12 apostles

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Probably one of the most well known attractions along the great ocean road and would definitely need a visit. The 12 apostles, well actually only 8 now are giant limestone stacks that are just off the shore. They are an incredible site to see with their giant tall structures being crushed by the white waves, making it a fantastic piece to photograph and view. There is a dedicated discovery centre with lookouts and I would definitely recommend walking all the way down to the beach to view the 12 apostles. The stacks currently erode at 2cm per year due to the harsh nature of the southern ocean, hence I believe you must visit these mammoths before they all collapse and erode away.

Otways national park

The Otways national park is a fantastic national park along the Great Ocean Road and has some of the best roads to drive along. The national park itself contains 3 waterfalls which are a must visit and contain a huge range of different plant life, animal life and fungi. It is a perfect place for a picnic, mountain bike ride and camping. The Otways have a lot to offer which treetop adventures, hundreds of walking tracks and a seaside view at the edge of the national park. There are an abundance of lakes and rivers, making the Otways a photographers dream. Close to the Otways, there is a fantastic windy road which I would highly recommend any driver to visit, Turtons track. Make sure to have tyres with plenty of grip and are comfortable to drive on these windy roads. It is a fantastic drive with wonderful scenery and greenery that surrounds you, it truly is a magical experience.

London bridge

Remember the childhood nursery rhyme of London bridge is falling down? Well the London Bridge along the Great Ocean Road has in fact fallen down and has now taken on the name of London Arch. It is a natural arch caused by erosion and used to be connected to the mainland, however in 1990 the arch connecting the bridge to the mainland collapsed and thus now is called London Arch. It is still a fantastic natural arch to look at with and provides fantastic photography opportunities.

Loch Ard Gorge

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Just situated 3 minutes away from the 12 apostles, the Loch Ard Gorge is gorgeous. Visitors are allowed to walk down the beach and see in beautiful beach in all its glory. It is fantastic on a warm day and also provides moody photos on a cloudy day. It was named after a ship with ran around on a nearby island, leaving on 2 survivors out of the 54 on board. The Loch Ard Gorge has served many purposes in film and media and will continue to be one of the most beautiful attractions along the Great Ocean Road. Make sure to bring your towel and bathers if you would want a dip! The water is crystal clear and I couldn’t resist dipping my toes in the water.

Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay is a coastal town situated before the Otways national park and definitely deserves a visit for a lunch stop. There is a lot on offer in this town with fantastic eateries, sea-side views and even the chance to catch a few whales. Southern right whales are known to breed in the area and there have been many sightings of humpback whales in the vicinity. Other towns to visit include, Lorne and Torquay. In fact, I would recommend stopping at as many coastal towns as possible as each has a different vibe, atmosphere and culture.

The Razorback

The razorback is another rock formation that is situated very closely to the Loch Ard Gorge. The name is given to this rock formation with the way it looks due to the wind and water erosion the rock has experienced over the many years. The walking path is a loop and you have a fantastic view of the other rock formations surrounding the Great Ocean Road.

The Blowhole

No surprises here, the blowhole spurts out water on the viewing flatforms and surrounding rocks. It is a fantastic way to cool down on a hot summer’s day and also creates some very interesting long exposure photography. The blowhole is located near the Loch Ard Gorge, but mind you the sea-spray on a calm day can be little to none. The area is also heavily vegetated, so please be careful when making your way to view the blowhole.

The Arch

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The arch, different to London Arch, is a natural formation of an arch located not too far away from the 12 apostles. There is now parking and access to the arch and is a fantastic thing to view no matter what time of the day. It is a quieter attraction which is good to take a breather here and there. There are stairs and walkways to get close to the arch, however getting very close to the arch does require going off roading (with your legs).

Bay of Martyrs

Situated closer to the west end of the Great Ocean Road, the bay of martyrs is one of the most beautiful sites along the great ocean road with plentiful bird wildlife. There are guided walks here and is a prominent sunset destination with its large open views with the limestone cliff edges, reefs and the sparkling water. Some have said the bay has better views than the 12 apostles and are less crowded. I would place this as un underrated spot to visit along the great ocean road.

Bay of Islands

The bay of islands, close to Warrnambool, has spectacular sights and is definitely worth the trip . Many tourists often miss the parts beyond London Arch, however I strongly recommend to travel further to these locations due to their fantastic views and low crowds, making it feel like a private beach. It is quiet and relaxing, a great escape from everyday life. Yet again, the locals have rated this higher than the 12 Apostles and I don’t blame them.

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When travelling along the Great Ocean Road, ensure to travel early in the morning to avoid large tour groups and parking can be limited so be prepared to park far away and walk for the most part. Ensure to pack plenty of water and snacks and definitely bring a DSLR if you have one. If you are unsure as to which DSLR to buy, refer to this guide. Make sure to put the Great Ocean road on your bucket list, you will not regret it. Summer, Winter, rain or shine, there is never a bad day to visit the Great Ocean Road as each climate has a different mood and different perspective.

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Solution to Stolen Game Codes

Have you ever bought a hard copy of a game at your local electronics retailer, gotten home and tried to use the authentication code in the casing and have been greeted to an error saying “this game code has already been redeemed”? Well, you’re not the only one, it happens far too often.

Over the weekend, I bought my mate a brand new copy of Overwatch from ebgames after the new character, Doomfist was released. Upon activation of the code, we were greeted with an error that the code has already been used. We literally were like WTF, a brand new game and the code doesn’t work. The packaging wasn’t opened and everything looked new. Having faith in ebgames, we have ruled out that a customer has returned their disc after activating it and resold the game as brand new. We quickly jumped onto Blizzards live chat, which runs fairly often and we had a response time of 1 minute, which is pretty decent compared to other companies these days. After talking with the representative, we learned that our code had been redeemed back in 2016! I repeat, 2016! The game was bought on the 29th of July and someone had a lucky day inputting random codes back in 2016. We were shell shocked and was linked to the account of Melanie. So if there is a Melanie out there who used our code in 2016, you have stolen from us. (well now ebgames after we return the game).

This has been the case for many different people with their overwatch codes and also other games who sell hard copies of games. I personally have experience this on the PS4 with a few Helldiver expansion packs, which makes me wonder, why aren’t companies using different methods to resolve these issue. This clearly is a major issue online with many different key-gens available to download and the large amounts of forum posts of people complaining ( and literally crying!!) over their games. It is pretty devastating for the end consumer and especially the business as they essentially have their stock stolen from them. This renders an 80 AUD game useless, meaning that is essentially isn’t worth anything.

I propose a solution to end this madness, but a stop to online keygens and people bootlegging game codes, it’s time introduce two factor authentication. This refers to using two methods or two different codes to activate the game, meaning that there is a decreased chance in people stealing game codes.

Here’s how it could theoretically work:

The user purchases the game from in store, the store owners do not leave the keys inside empty cases and mustn’t allow employees to use the keys, and the buyer receives the game unopened and untouched. After installing the game, instead of redeeming through one code, use two codes that need to be entered. These two codes would have the same complexity as the original, but must be redeemed in a certain order. So we would have code 1 and code 2, this is like paypal authenticating your bank account. Once these two codes are successfully activated, the user can start playing their game, easy fix! This method would make it so much harder for hackers to find correct keygens, making sure that electronic retailers do not loose stock and the user is happy rather than complaining on different forums about a certain game. It is a terrible situation and it shouldn’t happen to anyone who has actively gone out and paid for the game. There are many other ways to do the second code verification, such as sending text to a mobile device with a code to type in, or answering a phone call with a code or typing in a smaller strong of code instead of using the same. These are all different ways game companies should be looking at to avoid having codes being used. Perhaps even creating a system that once the game has been scanned, the code instead the box goes live, which means there is less of a chance the key gens will re-create that code as it cycles through its loops. This could be a possible solution and it would also help catch out companies who are reselling used games to the consumer. 

Something needs to be implemented to stop this from happening to more and more customers, it’s purely up to the game companies in how they want to approach this, but this isn’t fair on the businesses that sell these games and the consumer. Perhaps you have not experience this before, but trust me, it’s a terrible feeling that sparks rage within you, knowing that someone out there, by chance, has taken your code.

Beginner Digital Photography: Mirrorless 2017

Last week I covered the traditional DSLR cameras, today I will cover the mirrorless camera options that are available to you as a beginner entering the scene of photography. The biggest difference between a DSLR and a mirrorless camera is the size. They are a breeze to carry around and are very compact even with the lens on. Many entry-level mirrorless cameras will easily fit into your coat pockets, handbags and small bags. With the smaller size also comes the reduced weight, making it easy to lug around your neck or bag. Furthermore, since mirrorless cameras are an improving technology, many older but still good models are becoming cheaper and the capabilities are forever increasing.

To quickly understand how mirrorless cameras work, instead of having a mirror that reflects the light coming into the lens into the viewfinder, the light goes straight onto the image sensor which the user previews through the electronic viewfinder or screen. Therefore, there are fewer moving parts in the camera, meaning a greater shooting speed. There are many advantages of mirrorless cameras, such as a lot more autofocus points, better image stabilization (for price point) and a much better video quality. Referring to ISO levels in last weeks post, mirrorless cameras have a much higher ISO point, making them ideal for low light photography. Keep an eye out for a head to head comparison between mirrorless cameras and DSLRs.

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Today we will be looking at some of the mirrorless cameras that are on the current market which I consider to be the best for beginner photographers.

1. Sony A6000

The sony A6000 is a fantastic mirrorless camera that is pure bang for the buck. You can find these cameras constantly on sale and are fantastic little units. Inside they have an APS-C sensor, 11 frames per second shooting and some of the best low-light photography at the price point with its max ISO being 25600. The A6000 is essentially a striped back version of its older brother the A6300. The electronic eyepiece is definitely usable where a DSLR shooter would be able to use. The earlier you start with using the eyepiece, the more comfortable you will be with it.

It has a 24MP sensor, 3 inch tilting screen, 11FPS shooting, 1080p video and uses Sony’s E-mounts. I would highly recommend this camera for anyone entering the mirrorless scene.

2. Panasonic Lumix GX85/GX80

The panasonic Lumix GX80, GX85 for the USA, is another bang for the buck mirrorless camera, however with more options over the A6000. This time the sensor is a micro four thirds sensor, which is similar to the APS-C sensor where it crops the image compared to full frame, however the cropper is more significant. This generation of camera incorporates 4K video, which is a huge positivity for crisp videos and can capture 8MP stills from recorded video. The Autofocus is very fast and has a 5 axis image stabilization, which is incredibly helpful to obtain sharp shots. The shutter shock is also reduced, which was a problem in the previous generations. Panasonic has stepped up its game with this camera, If you want the next step up, look into the Panasonic GX8, however it is pricier.

It has a 16MP sensor, 3.0 inch tilting touch screen display, 8FPS shooting and 4K video. I would highly recommend this camera if you also want 4K video.

3. Sony A6300

The Sony A6300 is a beast of a camera, though it is a lot pricier than its competition. It has a much improved sensor over previous generations and also offers 4K video. With a microphone jack, this camera becomes a viable option for those who also want to get into cinematography. The build quality of this camera is better than the A6000 and also contains weather sealing and a higher ISO range. Sony opted for a sharper OLED viewfinder, however the LCD panel is not touchscreen. The camera is dropping in price which makes it perfect for a beginner who wants to start off with an more advanced mirrorless camera.

It has a 24MP sensor, 3.0 inch tilting display, 11FPS shooting and 4K video. I would highly recommend this camera if you are interested in having some of the most advanced features.

4. Olympus OM-D E-M10 II

This camera is sort of an underdog, it is fantastic value for money, looks great and has loads of features. This new generation includes a 5 axis image stabilization like the panasonic and the shooting speed has increased to 8.5FPS. The only major let back of this camera would have to be the micro four thirds sensor, which by the way is half a typical APS-C sensor. It has a max 1080P and has a really high shutter speed of 1/16000s. This camera excels in street photography as well as portraits. With the retro looks, the camera sure looks fantastic around your neck.

It has a 16MP sensor, 3.0 inch tilting display, 8.5FPS and 1080p video. Being one of the cheapest and powerful contenders on this list, I would definitely recommend this camera.

5. Fujifilm X-T20

The X-T20 takes the good bits from its older brother and places it in a smaller and much more affordable body. The design is superb and has the similar retro theme like the E-M10 II. The Fuji makes use of an APS-C sensor, being 24MP. It produces extremely rich and detailed images thanks to its sensor. Once again, this mirrorless camera is capable of shooting at 4K with an external microphone port and has a max ISO of 12800. Unfortunately there is no image stabilization which means the user needs to be extra stable when taking photos. This camera excels at landscape photography.

It has a 24MP sensor, 3.0 inch tilting display, 14FPS and 4K video recording. I would definitely recommend to try out this camera as the buttons have a really nice feel to them.

Overall thoughts?

I would recommend all of them, however my top recommendation would be the Olympus OM-D E-M10 II, it is a fantastic camera with excellent image quality, class leading features and is relatively cheap which is fantastic. Not only this, in my opinion the olympus looks the best with its retro theme and the lens selection is relatively large. However, if you were wanting to shoot 4K, I would recommend the Panasonic Lumix GX80/GX85 as the pricing for the camera is incredible, being slightly more expensive than the sony A6000. The kit lens that comes with the camera is more than capable and make sure to invest in spare batteries, mirrorless cameras chew through batteries twice as fast as DSLRs, however most can be powered and charged by external power banks (the ones use to charge phones). This feature makes mirrorless cameras seem like a better investment compared to DSLR cameras.

Still Alive? Google Chromecast

The Google Chromecast was a revolutionary device that turned any TV or monitor into a smart device. However, with TVs now including better and smarter software, is there still a market for the Chromecast?

 

The first thing to consider is, what exactly is a Chromecast. Well, the Chromecast was designed to revolutionise in home streaming by allowing the ability to wirelessly stream from your phone, desktop or laptop. The $35 dongle turned your TV into a media center with direct streaming from Youtube, Hulu, Netflix and many more region specific services. Four years since the initial release, 3 iterations have emerged, being the Chromecast 2, Chromecast Ultra and Chromecast Audio. Essentially, you would plug your Chromecast into your TV and connect it to power through the micro USB port. Many TVs have extra USB ports for external hard drives and they all provide enough power for this device. Once it’s turned on, it is very straightforward to connect to your phone and your home wifi.

 

The original Chromecast supported up to 1080p streaming and handled it reasonably well, however, streaming from a tab often ended up in audio lag with video sync issues. The newer versions have better wifi connectivity meaning lower lag spikes and a better all round experience of the device. However, many new smart TVs have greater software which has surpassed the capabilities of the Chromecast. Samsung TVs allow casting from Samsung devices and can even stream what’s on TV to the device, which you may find really handy when moving around the house. LG and other brands have incorporated similar technologies to allow users to have a better overall experience. Not only this, devices such as your PS4, XBOX ONE, Roku (Telstra TV) and now DVD players have included streaming capabilities to access Spotify, YouTube, Netflix and other video streaming services.

 

If all these devices can do what the Chromecast can, and do it BETTER, then why are they still around? Well, these devices were initially intended to bridge the gap between ordinary TVs and smart TVs, but now that most TVs have received upgrades in software in internal hardware, the Chromecast has branched off, expanding its capabilities to make it one of the most useful devices for its price.

 

With the Chromecast, you are able to stream from a VR headset to the TV, allowing other users to see what the VR user is viewing and doing. This can be problematic for those who enjoy a different kind of VR experience. The Chromecast can also support presentations, eliminating the need for any cables between the laptop or phone to the presentation device. Just plug in the Chromecast and start presenting! Not only this, the newer Chromecasts allow users to play certain games on the big screen, which is good for the family. Just don’t expect to play high graphic games on the device. Furthermore, though not available for every TV, the Chromecast allows your phone to function as a TV remote.

 

The Chromecast is a very capable device, but the rest of the competition are catching up. Google has been fighting hard to keep up the sales and usage of Chromecast with huge incentives and offers. These offers have been free subscriptions to their services, free movie streaming and Google credit to use on the Play Store. Thus, the Chromecast is very much alive despite being out of sight. For only around 30-40 bucks for the newer versions, it’s a good investment for its functionality. Though I must say, it may only be a matter of time before there is even better competition in the wireless casting market.

Explain it: IP addresses

IP addresses are how all our internet connected devices communicate with each other with great synergy, without these addresses your devices cannot communicate. IP addresses are important for both inside and beyond the firewall.

Each Internet connected device has an unique address on the Internet, which can be used to send things to it. This is what we refer to as the IP address. There are actually two IP versions in use on the Internet today, which coexist but vary in the form of the addresses:

  • Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is the most common protocol used by Internet connected devices. IPv4 addresses consist of 4 bytes worth of information, i.e., four dot-separated numbers each in the range of 0–255. This makes a total of 232 = 4,294,967,296 unique addresses on the Internet. For example, Yahoo’s server IPv4 address is 206.190.36.45.

 

When IPv4 was created, it was not known how many interconnected devices there would be. Despite the relatively large number of address, we have already exhausted our pool of IPv4 address, click here to learn about one solution.

 

  • Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the successor to IPv4. IPv6 uses longer addresses that support 7.9×1028 times as many addresses as IPv4! IPv6 addresses are made up of eight colon-separated groups of four hexadecimal digits per group, where leading zeroes in each group may be omitted for brevity. Yahoo’s server IPv6 address is 2001:4998:c:a06::2:4008