Technological World for February 17: Samsung's Galaxy Buds Pro, Fortnite's Short Nite film festival, Amazon's Future Engineer program, Nintendo's Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, Fortnite’s film festival, Amazon’s Future Engineer program comes to Canada, and fun with Mario and Bowser on the Nintendo Switch. But first, ears-on with Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro earbuds.

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro are among the best wireless earbuds you can get

The latest wireless earbuds from Samsung are the best that company has ever developed.

Available now, Galaxy Buds Pro ($265) are small and light, and they are the first true wireless earbuds I’ve worn that fit flush, which makes them perfect for wearing under a toque in the winter.

They’ve got a better water resistance rating, too, in case the winter weather is more rain than snow.

In my use of them over the past week and a bit, I’ve been impressed with their sound and their ability to transmit my voice during calls. Call quality is improved, in part, because sound from one of the microphones is used to help get rid of background noise.

The best new feature of these earbuds, though, is the intelligent active noise cancellation, which you have control over using the Android Galaxy Wearable app. This allows you to amplify external sounds so you can better balance the world with what you’re hearing from your mobile.

The Galaxy Buds Pro can also detect when you’ve started speaking to someone and automatically adjust, so my music fades into the background so I can hear the restaurant staff confirm my order when I pick up take out. After the conversation is over, the music level comes back up again. It’s a slick and very useful feature.

There are only two things that could improve the Galaxy Buds Pro. First, there’s not yet an iOS app that unlocks all the functionality, so if you’re using them with an iPhone you can’t configure all the automatic noise cancelling features. Second, they can only connect to a single device at a time.

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro are available in black, purple, or silver (Phantom Black, Phantom Violet, and Phantom Silver, if you prefer Samsung’s brand names).

Short film festival dropping into Fortnite this weekend

On Friday at 11 a.m. Pacific (noon Mountain, 1 p.m. Central, 2 p.m. Eastern), the Short Nite film festival debuts in Fortnite. The 12 short films will be screened around the clock for 48 hours, ending on Sunday.

It’s not the first time that big fan experiences were staged in Fortnite. The online multiplayer video game developed and published by Epic Games has hosted massive music performances in the past.

The films that make up the Short Nite program combine for a run time of about 30 minutes, and viewers can either come together with others online for a virtual big screen experience or run the films picture-in-picture while playing one of Fortnite’s game modes.

Among the films that are part of Short Nite is the Academy Award winning Creature Comforts, the hilarious stop-motion animation from British filmmaker Nick Park. The full list includes:

  • Bench
  • Car Park
  • Catastrophe
  • Commuter Glitch
  • Creature Comforts
  • Lynx & Birds
  • Maestro
  • Makin’ Moves
  • Oktapodi
  • Rollin’ Wild
  • A Single Life

Amazon investing in primary school computer science programs to benefit underrepresented communities

The Amazon Future Engineer initiative is coming to Canada.

Designed to bring computer science education and opportunities to “underrepresented and underserved communities”, the company says it is investing a $3 million over three years in various programs across Canada.

These include student education in primary schools as well as supporting professional development for teachers. Female students and Indigenous communities are being prioritized.

Canada Learning Code, Kids Code Jeunesse, and TakingITGlobal are among the providers that will be supported, and depending on where students are in their education, they’ll have chances to learn basic coding, debugging, and even artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Super Mario 3D World and Bowser’s Fury provide fine family fun on Nintendo’s Switch

Nintendo’s a smart company, and over the past year has been making bank out of re-releasing games that were created for the not-very-popular Wii U for the extremely successful Switch.

The latest port is Super Mario 3D World, which is even more appealing because it has been released along with a new three-dimensional platformer, Bowser’s Fury, that puts Mario in a land of cats.

The pair of games have been on regular rotation in my household and my kids and I have been taking advantage of the multiplayer possibilities to have lots of fun.

Super Mario 3D World may be a few years old – it was released in 2013 – but like so many of Nintendo’s other Mario games, it holds up nicely, thank you very much.

It’s a free roaming world in which up to four people play together at the same time as Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad. Each of the characters has a special talent. Mario is well rounded, Luigi can jump higher, Peach can float, and Toad has a speed dash manouevre,

The Switch edition allows for online multiplayer, and roaming around the world with friends to enter the various levels is the best way to play. It’s riotous when everyone puts on their cat suit and starts climbing the walls.

Bowser’s Fury takes the cat theme to a new level, as the game is set in a world of cat-like creatures. They can’t actually be cats, we’ve decided, because this world is also a bunch of islands in Lake Lapcat, and we all know cats hate water.

But the water theme means that we get to ride Plessie, the friendly plesiosaur, which was much enjoyed by my son.

Mario is accompanied by Bowser Jr in this, and a second player can take control of him, using his paintbrush to smack enemies. It’s really a sidekick role, though, as opposed to a true multiplayer experience.

The Lake Lapcat area is an open world, and your job is to explore themed islands to collect cat symbols: cat shines. If you take too long wandering around, Bowser has a tantrum which causes a storm with falling rocks and spouts of lava.

After you’ve collected a requisite number of cat shines, you can ring a particular bell to transfomr into a gargantuan Cat Mario so you can battle the equally big Bowser. The game is short, but entertaining, and plays like one long boss battle with some breaks for exploration in between bouts.

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