Best Game Hacks IOS

My trip to Vietnam Cont….

I finished the organization capacity assessment of the 5 local civil society organizations (NGOs) in Vietnam. They are all working or trying to work in a “rights” based approach. The main services of these local NGOs are focused towards marginalized groups, ethnic groups etc. However this is not what the Government wants; they prefer them to work on a needs based approach.

They have therefore come up with a way to allow such organizations to work on a slightly different rights based approach. However this is a structured method which can be monitored by the Government. This is how it is set up:

All international non governmental organizations (INGOs) have to be registered with the ministry of foreign affairs under “VUFO” – Vietnam Union of Friendship Organization. VUFO is the organization which deals with the administration of INGO policy and compliance as it were. Under VUFO they have what is known as the NGO Resource Center which deals with some operational issues as well as help set up working groups under thematic areas. (E.G: HIV AIDS, Gender, LGBT etc.)

All/most (there can be exceptions) rights based local non governmental organizations are registered under “VUSTA” – Vietnam Union of Science & Technology. VUSTA is the organization which deals with the administration of local NGO policy, compliance and deals with the operational issues as well as help set up working groups for thematic areas.

Both types of working groups in theory are independent; however they can have representatives from ministries, other government agencies, communist party advocacy committee etc. in addition to like minded NGOs and INGOs.

Through these working groups research based policy alternatives (advocacy and lobby for rights based services & opportunities) are submitted to each relevant ministries. This is then passed on to the cabinet of ministers. Based on the agenda of the National Assembly cabinet may submit these policy alternatives to the assembly who may or may not approve, amend or adopt these policies. It sound quite easy but in practice this is a long process.

Many organizations do not have long term resources to sustain this type of process. However based on authority levels at different levels/branches of the government some organizations are able to get the corporation of the government to deliver right based services themselves or through quasi government agencies.

The “local NGO” in general is a relatively new phenomenon in Vietnam. They tend to be small and with low capacity. They have the potential to play a key role in delivering services to special interest groups and ethnic minorities in Vietnam. There are some clear examples where the government has allowed the use of this method effectively in isolated cases.

There is a significant difference to how international & local NGOs operate in Vietnam, Lao, Cambodia, China, Mongolia & Myanmar. They have learned to operate within the service gaps of these socialistic countries and they are beginning to get noticed for the excellent work done, by their governments and civil society in general. However, they too face some of the most common issues such as resource mobilization, retention of staff, planning, budgeting, monitoring etc. faced by NGOs the world over.

Now about Hanoi; it is indeed a busy city and one that is growing rapidly I really like visiting Hanoi and the friendliness of the people of Vietnam. I visited most of my favorite cafes and bars which I patronized on my previous travels to Hanoi. Everywhere you look you see construction sites (Except central Hanoi) these buildings are mixed developments like what you saw in Dubai several years ago. They are still to go in for developments such as Dubai Marina, Dubai International Financial District; I counted over 40 cranes on the drive from the airport to my hotel. They do not seem to be affected as much as the others in terms of the global financial crisis.

Walking through the streets of Hanoi I noticed something unique to Vietnam (I think). Most of the Hanoi streets are dotted with Café’s and restaurants. With the vast majority of the Vietnamese using motorbikes for travel, each one of the establishments have something resembling a valet parking for those patrons arriving at the establishment in their motorbikes. The parking attendants use a white chalk to mark on the seat of the motorbike the number of bikes parked in the day / rider / owner / and parking sequence. When patrons leave the parking attendants starts moving the motorbikes closer to the entrance (perhaps for tips) and it is done on a continues basis. I was fascinated by this as my experience in other parts of the world is that they put up a huge sign saying that parking is at your own risk; and they are only interested in what you spend at the establishment and keen to get you out as soon as they can so that another patron can be served. Hope this continues in the future as well.

I will be flying home tomorrow and will prepare for 3 more assignments which have simultaneous time lines. Organization Capacity Assessment of research & policy advice organization in South Asia, Organization Capacity Assessment of 5 local NGOs in Indonesia. Organization Capacity Assessment of 4 branch offices in the east of Sri Lanka.

Number Talks Book Study – Chapter 2

The farther I get into the book Number Talks, the more excited I am about implementing them next year. This is such a great resource, and I’m only on Chapter 2!

I’m linking up with Misty at Think, Wonder, & Teach for her fabulous book study. If you haven’t checked it out yet, be sure to visit her because she’s already offering some great resources to support the book (whereas mine are still works in progress!).

This chapter walks through some of the nuts and bolts of setting up number talks, and it describes how to manage some of the procedures and expectations. One of the sections that really resonated with me in this chapter was about building accountability with the students. So often, there are a few students who are eager to share their mathematical thinking, and there are many others who are willing to sit back and let those students shine. I don’t like pulling sticks with students’ names for something like this, but I also don’t want students to feel like they don’t need to participate. This book offered some great strategies for dealing with that:

1. Once all of the strategies have been shared, number them and have students show with fingers which one they found to be the most efficient strategy. This will get them thinking about the math involved.

2. Keep records of the problems posed and strategies used, and label them with the students’ names. I plan to use my iPad to track this. I’ve talked before about setting up student data notebooks on Evernote, and I think that would be the perfect platform to track student participation. I can photograph students’ work and add anecdotal records about what I observe. It would also be easy to share with parents at parent-teacher conferences.

3. Hold small group number talks throughout the week. As I prepare to transition into more of a math workshop/guided math approach, this seems like a very viable option.

4. Create and post anchor charts of the different strategies that students are using. The book names a variety of strategies, or you could develop names with your students. Having the charts available to reference could scaffold the less confident students.

5. Use exit cards. The authors recommend giving each student a notecard. On one side, students should record their solution, and on the other side, they should record a strategy that another student shared that they liked.

6. Give a weekly computation assessment of 5-10 problems. The selected problems should reinforce the concepts and strategies introduced throughout the week. I can also imagine using an app like Show Me or Explain Everything to assess. These are whiteboard apps that allow students to record audio on top of their drawing. Students could record their solutions and narrate them as if they’re presenting them to the class. This would be another important artifact that could be saved in the student’s Evernote portfolio to share with parents or an RTI committee. If it’s only one problem, most students would be able to complete the task on the app in 5-10 minutes as the video they’d be creating should be less than a minute long.

I think these accountability measures could be effective in getting students to participate more. Of course, the classroom environment will matter, too, and I look forward to setting those factors in place for my Number Talks this fall.

In other news, I’m excited to share that I’ll be participating in Sabra’s book study of Word Nerds at Teaching with a Touch of Twang. Word Nerds explores strategies for teaching vocabulary to students, and it’s another fantastic resource. It’s published by Stenhouse, and you can preview the entire book online or you can purchase the book in Paperbook or Kindle edition.

The book study starts on Thursday and runs throughout the summer. You can see the full schedule by clicking on the image above. I’ll be hosting Chapter 7, and I can’t wait!

Also, have you joined in the Teacher Toolbox Trio Linky Celebration yet?

You still have time to link up and be eligible to win a $25 Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificate! The linky celebration will close on Friday night, so be sure to join the fun. My wish list has definitely grown as I’ve seen all of the fabulous resources other teachers are sharing and recommending.

Workout Anytime in North Fulton Newspapers

Workout Anytime in North Fulton Newspapers in an article titled, “New Workout Anytime coming to Milton.” The article begins with information about the new Workout Anytime opening in Milton and the owners. The article then goes into details about what you can expect at aWorkout Anytime, with a quote from Randy Trotter. General Manager Chris Maier is quoted about why he believes in the Workout Anytime model and Lynn Jackson is quoted about why they’re happy to open in the area. The article closes out with info on how to join and about the expansion plans for Workout Anytime.  Click here for the entire article or begin below.

New Workout Anytime coming to Milton
By: Caitlin Wagenseil
MILTON, Ga. — When two members of a gym found out their beloved workout place was going to close down, they decided to take action. 

Paul and Lynn Jackson, previous members, bought the Workout Anytime in Cumming. Now, they are gearing up to open their second location in Milton with Randy and Heather Clevenger.


(Read More)

The Risk Factors That Cause Food Reactions (6-10)

Risk Factor 6. We eat too much at once.

Overeating causes food reactions by overwhelming the digestive system. Unfortunately, reactions also cause overeating by creating food cravings, and this destructive cycle ruins many lives. The problem gets even worse when people eat the exact foods that cause them to experience reactions. This often happens, however, because of the cravings caused by allergic addiction.

Overeating also disrupts the immune response, which further heightens food reactions.

Risk Factor 7. We’re under too much stress.

Stress hurts digestion. When you’re under stress, your stresshormones — such as adrenaline and cortisol — take blood away from your organs of digestion and shift it to the fight-or-flight organs and systems, such as the muscles, eyes, and heart. Sometimes, when you’re nervous, you feel this loss of circulation in your digestive system as butterflies in the stomach.

Diet Start

Proper digestion is most likely to occur when we take timeto eat our meals in a relaxed atmosphere. However, the average worker sits down for lunch for only eleven minutes, and many for only five minutes, or eats a sandwich unconsciously while working.

Risk Factor 8. We don’t chew our foods completely.

This interferes significantly with digestion. Foods that remain in excessively large pieces can’t be broken down properly, even when enough digestive juices are available.

Risk Factor 9. We drink too many liquids with our meals.

This dilutes digestive juices and stomach acid, keeping them from fully digesting our foods.

Risk Factor 10. We combine too many of these risk factors.

If we regularly made just one of these mistakes, we might not have a problem. Most people, though, combine several of these risk factors, and soon they experience the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Doctors call this reaching the allergic threshold.

All of these risk factors can cause your digestive system to dump large, unwieldy macromolecules of food into your bloodstream. When this happens, it generally triggers your immune response.

If your immune system is already impaired, your immune reaction to these macromolecules of food will be even worse. You’ll get reactions to a wider variety of foods, and your symptoms will be more severe and more frequent. Many forces can impair immunity: poor nutrition, exposure to toxins, stress, and lack of sleep.

Therefore, to avoid food reactions, you should not only minimize your risk factors, but should also try to optimize your immune strength, with a healthy lifestyle, ingestion of specific nutrients, and avoidance of toxins. I’ll soon tell you how to do this.

In addition, a number of non-food factors can make food reactions worse by contributing to the allergic threshold. The body doesn’t care if an allergen is a food-borne allergen or an airborne allergen, such as pollen. To the body, an allergen is an allergen. Food reactions are worse in people who inhale airborne allergens, are exposed to toxic chemicals, or are under stress.

Therefore, you are not just what you eat.

Food reactions — and therefore fat — can be caused by many factors, and food is just the most obvious one.

I know that this is a new, strange concept for many people. But I have tested this concept clinically and have seen it work wonders.

Here’s an example: a patient of mine worked in a paint shop and regularly inhaled airborne toxins. This man was bloated, puffy, and red-eyed most of the time, and reacted strongly to a number of foods. He also got sick a lot because the toxins he breathed were stressing his immune system. When he switched jobs and escaped the constant assault of airborne pollutants, his sensitivity to foods decreased dramatically. His progress on the False Fat Diet accelerated tremendously when he quit his job, and he soon lost almost all of his false fat and most of his true fat. Simultaneously, he stopped having frequent minor illnesses.

If any of these risk factors apply to you, you are vulnerable to food reactions.

You are not just what you eat.
Fat can be caused by many factors.
Food is just the most obvious one.

Now I’ll tell you how food reactions develop within your body, after you engage in these risk factors. Once you understand how food reactions work, you’ll be better able to stop them — forever.

The Vital Acid—Alkaline Balance continue…

Excess salt intake can also severely upset the body’s water balance. Along with potassium, which also occurs naturally in fresh foods, the sodium in foods and in salt itself (which is sodium chloride) plays an important part in the movement of electrons through the body’s water- based protoplasm. This is why sodium and potassium are known as electrolytes. Potassium tends to concentrate in the cells, sodium in the fluids outside the cells. The balance between sodium and potassium, when it is right, sets up a dynamic tension that makes it possible for the living cells to react quickly and efficiently to nerve stimuli, to exchange nutrients and wastes easily through the cell wall, and to maintain the proper interior and extracellular water balance. Too much sodium, which most of us get from eating salt, upsets this balance altogether and can cause troubles. It forces the body to hold on to extra amounts of water to make up for the extra salt one has eaten. Tissues become bloated, and this salt-caused edema can interfere with the blood’s oxygen transfer to cells as well as creating extra pressure against the blood vessel walls themselves. These are some of the reasons the Lifestyle Diet eliminates salt both in cooking and at the table. It relies instead on fresh and dried herbs, garlic, and spices for seasoning.

Diet Start

Throw out the Coffee

Caffeine, a trimethylated xanthine, is found in coffee beans, tea leaves, cola nuts, and cacao, from which chocolate is made. Together with nicotine and alcohol, it makes up a trio of the most widely used psychoactive drugs in the world. The xanthines are stimulants to the central nervous system. They increase heartbeat rate, increase the volume and concentration of acid in the stomach, relax the smooth muscles in the body, raise blood lipids, stimulate the cerebral cortex (which means they heighten the intensity of mental processes), banishing drowsiness and feelings of fatigue. Caffeine and alcohol also have a diuretic effect on the system, causing frequent urination.

The average cup of coffee contains between 100 and 150 milligrams of caffeine per cup, instant coffee somewhat less, tea between 60 and 75 milligrams, cola drinks between 50 and 60 milligrams. This means that if you are drinking four or five cups of coffee each day you are getting a dose of 700 to 750 milligrams of caffeine. To any pharmacologist a dose over 250 milligrams is considered large, although about a third of people in the West get twice as much each day and one person in ten actually imbibes more than 1,000 milligrams of the drug caffeine every twenty- four hours. The full long-term implications of drinking coffee (and, to a lesser degree, tea and cola drinks) are still not clear. However, enough is known already to inspire any woman concerned about the preservation of her health and beauty to give them up completely. For caffeine is a stimulus you do not need on a healthful low protein, low-fat diet high in unrefined carbohydrates.

The link between caffeine intake and anxiety symptoms has been well established. Dr. John Greded, associate professor of psychiatry at theUniversity of Michigan, and his colleagues and others have reported that high caffeine consumers have statistically significant elevations in anxiety scores. The risk of developing peptic ulcers is also 1.4 times greater among coffee drinkers than among non-coffee drinkers. There is now evidence that coffee consumption by pregnant women can be dangerous to the unborn child Caffeine has been shown to cross the placental barrier where its mutagenic and perhaps even teratogenic potential may cause genetic changes and, therefore, birth defects.

Finally, a daily intake of caffeine from coffee drinking is the same as continuing to supply your system with any other drug to which it has to adjust and which ultimately it has to detoxify and eliminate. One of the main principles of any long-term diet for health and beauty is, never add to the body anything which is not necessary and with which it has to deal. The fewer toxic substances there are, the less contribution they will make to tissue sludge, premature aging of skin, and the subclinical vitamin and mineral deficiencies which result in falling hair, breaking fingernails, chronic fatigue, and mental disorders. In the Lifestyle Diet, coffee, tea, cola drinks (even those without sugar), and cocoa are out. Instead, you can drink mineral waters, herb teas (but always in moderation since some of them in excess may not be good for you either), fresh fruit and vegetable juices, and coffee substitutes made from roots and grains.

Trip to Hyderabad cont…….

Wow what an assignment! I must say that I have experienced similar assignments in the past in other sectors. However for this sector (development sector) it was a first. As a consultant you have to be on guard all the time when doing an Organization Capacity Assessment (Very similar to a “Due Diligence” in the private sector); if the client wants to mislead you, it can be done quite easily. In my case I was confronted with just that.

Things that should look out for are:

  1. Uniformity in questioners
  2. Having sets of files pre prepared for you (always ask for random files)
  3. When interviewing staff they have uniform answers or say very similar things (always ask to speak to random sample of staff and triangulate your findings; include speaking to other stakeholders as they will be a be useful source of information)
  4. Taking a long time to locate files and other documents when you request for them
  5. Key staff suddenly taking ill and not being available for interviews
  6. Acting “stupid” or not seem to understand what you are requesting for or saying

These things must be handled very diplomatically otherwise you will not be able to complete the assignment. Do not have a “knee jerk” reaction, observe very well and collect enough specific examples so that you have a basis for doubting what is presented to you. At the same time you must see if this deception is systematic or simply put up for this occasion.

If it is systemic you now have a real problem; you will not be able to decipher what is “genuine” and what is “false.” My recommendation is at this point you should seek clarifications from the person who hired you as well as speaking to the decision makers of your client. A temporary halt to the assessment will be in order to do this discretely. Suggest you take prudent steps based on your clients feedback.

However if you feel it is a put up for this particular assessment then your task is easier and it should be handled with the management of the organization that you are assessing. (Don’t forget you still need to advice your client regarding this unexpected turn of events) As this would be difficult situation for some consultants to handle; I suggest a cautious but a very direct approach. This will reduce the space for excuses by the staff. Since it will come as a surprise to them the staff of the organization you are assessing will also not be able to gang up on you to defend themselves. Make sure that you do not engage in a long dragged out discussion, be short and to the point. If handled properly it should bring about normalcy to the process.

If however you do not feel comfortable to take a direct approach you must then document both versions of the process i.e.

  1. The results that are shown by the staff of the organization
  2. Your observations and reservation of those results

This however will not be very useful in the end; as it will not provide the right results to take decisions the assessment was supposed to deliver in the first place. In some rare cases you may need to repeat the assessment to get the right results.

In my case it was the latter and I did confront the staff and the management regarding it. There was an attempt to defend the position but it was not successful; things returned to an acceptable level of normalcy and I was able to complete the assignment.

Franchisee Profile: Bill and Bob Aicklen

Franchisee Profile: Bill and Bob Aicklen

Bill Aicklen and his brother Bob, who is currently based in Texas, will be opening their fifth Workout Anytime gym in May. The brothers opened their first gym in Decatur in November 2009; bought the company’s flagship store in Dunwoody in 2012; purchased the brand’s first franchise location in Douglasville in 2013, and built their fourth store in Rome in June 2013. 

Bill, 63, received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Old Dominion University in Virginia, and landed his first job in the banking industry working in the operations and financial systems department. From there, Bill moved on to spend the next 30 years of his career in the computer software business, performing various roles including post-sales, training and support. 

In 2006, Bill decided that he wanted to get out of corporate America and Bob, who was interested in investing in businesses, invited Bill to manage the operations. 

The first business that the brothers partnered in was an express oil change franchise. They built and operated two stores in Woodstock before selling in 2012 to focus their time and effort on Workout Anytime. 
How did you learn about Workout Anytime? 
We were looking for other business opportunities, and Bob came across Workout Anytime on the Internet. A business broker also presented the concept to us. 
Why did you choose an opportunity with Workout Anytime? 
From a franchise standpoint, it’s an easy business to get into; it’s simple. There’s not a lot of moving parts and you can staff the gym with just one or two people. Also, we both have strong customer service backgrounds and understand the importance of hiring the right people and providing excellent service. 
How has business been since joining the brand? 
We have between 1000-1700 active members at each location. Since we took over the Douglasville store and invested money into upgrading the equipment, we have turned it around. Our club in Rome is based in a small city with very little competition in terms of big name brands, and we have been very successful there. I expect Suwannee to also do well because it’s in a highly concentrated residential area. 
Are you involved in any charities or community outreach?
We localize our charity work depending on the club, and we usually donate free memberships for silent 
auctions. We also partner with Red Cross by allowing them to park their blood drive buses in our parking lots every quarter – the next drive will be in Douglasville at 3pm on May 12. We have also previously put buckets in our gyms for people to donate pet supplies for the Humane Society.

Quick Tip: Medieval II Total War – ‘Fatal Graphics Error’ [Possible Fix]

I first bought this great game as a DVD Retail Box and then later on purchased it through Direct2Drive [when Direct2Drive was around, then that service became GameFly (2015 Edit: and now it’s D2D again)]. I also have it on Steam as a backup digital download source – it’s too hard to resist those really cheap Steam Sales! Recently, I was Re-Installing M2TW, to begin conquering the world once again… However, I was surprised to see nothing but an error message (on Windows7):

The “Fatal Graphics Error” message, when starting MTW2

I personally found this error humorous, as it complained about Graphic Settings – and I couldn’t even start/get into the game to change or even set them in the first place! So, I started Troubleshooting….

Apparently, a lot of people, on many forums, have been getting and asking about this error – and still are – so here is a great chance to share this Quick Tip on a simple ‘fix’ for it I eventually found, simply by playing with the Shortcut Properties:

Right-Clicking on the Shortcut for the game and editing the Compatibility Tab to match these settings,
is how I fixed the Fatal Graphics Error problem when I played M2TW recently. Try it out!
Click image to see Full Size

After making these changes to the Shortcut that runs the game (adding two quick checkmarks in the checkboxes shown above), after launching it should show a black screen [detecting settings?] momentarily and then load up the game properly (you may have to click on the icon in the Taskbar [Windows] to bring it up a second time) but that’s it!
Hopefully that works for you all, as it did for me.

See You In The Games!

Nutritional Strategies for Allergy and Asthma

SeasSeason allergies to pollen and mold seem to getting more and more prevalent each year with progressively more severe symptoms in sufferers.    Treating allergies with nutrition and nutrition supplements can have big advantages over using medications.   
Allergy medication most commonly comes in the form of Antihistamines, and there are some big problems with long-term use of these medications.     It is now known that prolonged use of antihistamines decreases levels of acetylcholine which is a key neurotransmitter involved in memory and other important functions.   In fact, antihistamine use increases the risk of senility, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
What are Allergies Anyway?
Allergies are abnormal immune reactions to specific agents (proteins) known as antigens/allergens, which include many substances such as foods, drugs, pollens, dust mites, animal danders, feathers, along with many others. 
Allergies may also develop when an otherwise innocent substance has significant contact with an already inflamed surface (known as sensitization).  For example, when sick with a respiratory illness, respiratory surfaces are already inflamed and substances present at this time may be “remembered” as being foreign.  This can also occur with chemical substances known as “haptons” which are combinations of self and non-self which can lead the immune system to attack the self. 
Since there are multiple pro-inflammatory substances involved with allergies it is rare to obtain adequate control with single products/medications.  The most potent chemical mediators in allergies and asthma are leukotrienes.  Some leukotrines are one thousand times more potent than histamine as stimulators of bronchial constriction and allergy. 
Interestingly, many medications that reduce one inflammatory pathway actually boost leukotrienes.    For example, Aspirin and other NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs like Ibuprofen) result in the production of excessive levels of leukotrines in sensitive individuals although they decrease prostaglandins associated with inflammation and thereby relive pain.  So long term they can create a much more severe problem.
Asthma is linked to allergies and can be a severe and life threatening condition.   Do NOT try to self-treat Asthma – see a physician!
Strategies for Allergies
Try to avoid allergens by using air filters, regularly cleaning all surfaces and vacuuming and keeping your air-conditioning system on while regularly changing filters to filter out as many allergens as possible.   Remember your car cabin filter as well, and take showers and wash clothes after being outside for long periods of time.
Change your diet to reduce inflammation.    Dramatically reduce your intake of refined carbohydrate – sugar and starch which drive insulin which drives inflammation.  At the same time increase your intake of low glycemic, organic fruits and vegetables such as berries, broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, etc.   These plant foods contain polyphenols which are potent anti-oxidants and help to reduce inflammation and allergies without side effects.
Boos
Increase your intake of Omega 3 Fatty Acidsfrom cold water fish such as Alaskan Wild Salmon and/or take an Omega 3 Supplement such as Krill Oil.    Omega 3 fatty acids will always reduce inflammation if taken in sufficient dosages so this should be a primary strategy for allergy sufferers because they produce many side benefits.   The only exception is people taking any type of medication to thin blood and reduce clotting like Coumadin.   In this case the combination can be dangerous!
Nutritional Supplements for Allergies
There are several highly effective nutrition supplements for allergies including some key herbs.
Local Raw Honey – it MUST be local and must be raw because it will contain small amounts of local pollen and works by getting the body used to pollen much like an allergy shot.     A Tablespoon a day is as much as you need.   Many people swear by this simple and safe remedy!
Stinging Nettle Extract – this herb has a long history of effective use for allergies and freeze dried preparations seem to work the best and are best taken BEFORE allergy season even begins to put a damper on symptoms before they start – this is true of all nutritional approaches to allergy by the way!
Euphrasia Officianalis – aka “Eyebright” is an herb which name says it all – it is highly effective for eye allergy symptoms.
Quercetin – is a flavonoid contained in high amounts in apples, peppers, red wine, dark cherries and berries, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and sprouts, and raw red onions.   To treat allergies taking supplemental quercetin is the way to go, and the best form of quercetin is contained in a product called “AllQlear” by Integrative Therapeutics and can be purchased on Amazon.     It also contains “ovomucoids” from quail eggs that act as tryptase inhibitor and prevent release of histamine.
Boswellia Extract – Boswellia aka Frankincense (yes the herb mentioned in the bible!) can be highly effective for allergies and other forms of inflammation including arthritis because it blocks the formation of leukotrienes!    To get the benefits you must take 5-loxin which is a specific extract.   Note that in some individuals 5-loxin can cause or excacerbate heart burn so it is not for everyone, but when it works it can be highly effective!
Butterbur Extract – this plant extract can be highly effective for inhibiting leukotrienes and allergy symptoms or side effects.   You need to take a standardized extract with standardized levels of Petasin and Isopetasin) and free of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids aka PA.  High quality brands include Life Extension, Swanson, and Enzymatic Therapy to name a few.   This product can also help many migraine sufferers and is a well-researched, proven treatment.
NAC – N-Acetyl Cysteine – helps thin mucus naturally and boost levels of the body’s most important antioxidant Glutathione – every allergy sufferer should be taking 600 – 1,200mg per day!
You will also find combination of these ingredients in particular products, and it is worth experimenting a bit because if you find the right product or combination of natural products you can find relief without sedation and without the side effects associated with antihistamines and more potent drugs like steroid nasal sprays or oral steroids.

The 1 Minute Workout

The number one challenge people to give to not working out is time.   So the question fitness professionals should be focused on is what is the LEAST amount of time for working out and still producing the benefits and results that people want and need.
The great news is that there is a lot of well done research on this subject, and there is a proven workout protocol that produces results with as little as one minute of total work time in a workout and a total workout duration of under 10 minutes including warm-up and cool-down.
The definitive work on this subject was written by Martin Gibala and is appropriately called “The One Minute Workout”.     In this excellent book he reviews all the related research and results on High Intensity Interval Training including an excellent review on the psychology of exercise as it relates to how people feel before, during and after different types of exercise protocols.     Long story short people really like certain HIIT protocols – even high deconditioned people and high-risk heart disease patients.
He and his team of researchers proved the effectiveness of the 1-minute workout to produce results and also found the specific physiological mechanisms responsible for the benefits of this protocol.
1 Minute Workout Protocol

Warm-up for 3 minutes at an easy pace on any piece of cardiovascular exercise equipment, walking, 
running, jogging or cycling depending on your preference and fitness level.
Do a 20 second sprint at your best possible pace (this is all relative to your fitness level)
Do active recovery at a light pace for 2 minutes
Perform another 20 second sprint at your best possible pace.
Do active recovery at a light pace for 2 minutes
Perform a third and final 20 second sprint at your best possible pace.
Cool-down for 2 minutes.
Total workout time – 10 minutes!
Frequency

Best results are obtained by repeating this workout 3 times per week BUT even once a week will provide benefits and help maintain a decent level of physical conditioning – the key is intensity NOT duration or frequency.

Recommended Reading:    The One Minute Workout by Martin Gibala:  https://www.amazon.com/One-Minute-Workout-Science-Smarter-Shorter-ebook/dp/B01IOHQ7RA/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517152066&sr=1-1&keywords=the+one+minute+workout+by+gibalaAvailable in hardcover, paperback or kindle.

My Trip to Bangladesh June 2011

The assignment in Bangladesh is to evaluate the performance of a department within an organization. The interesting aspect is that the objective / mission of the department is, Organization Development of its other departments as well as partners of the organization. It’s going to be an interesting assignment. This will be a long assignment where I will be staying for 4 weeks in Bangladesh and travel to the north of the country.
The journey here was uneventful and arrived at my hotel tired but happy to be here. I am staying at the Asia Pacific Blossom Hotel; http://www.blossomhotel.net/ this will be my second stay at this hotel. I stayed at this hotel in 2006 during my first assignment in Bangladesh.
The assignment itself got off to a tuff start as the day of the launch of the assignment was a “Strike Day” in Bangladesh and apparently there are more strike days planned in the coming weeks. I am no stranger to Strikes / Harthal in Bangladesh and was in the thick of them when I was here on assignments in 2006 and 2008. At least this time it’s in support of oil and gas committee on the ConocoPhillips deal. The once planed during the week is for political issues; these tend to get violent and can be dangerous.

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

Matryoshka House was designed by architect David Jameson, is located in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Obeyng unwritten rules concept Matryoshka, the house consists of a series of volumes is one inside the other. According to ‘description’, architects, in essence, a meditation room with suspended center acts as the physical and spiritual for the project. The internal energy market of the meditation room locked in an open, bright. Alternating tread stairs rise participant commits deliberatley eve of the meditation room. The meditation room is surrounded by a wooden container that surrounds the living area of ​​the house. Traditional decorations in turn should have soothed by stucco walls act as a protective layer and ground floor of the house. In-between space of nested volumes strategic cup sun to protect lines of light inside.

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY DINING ROOM

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL MEDITATION ROOM

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL MEDITATION ROOM

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY BATHROOM

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY BATHROOM

Tips For Rustic Dining Room Setting

The Rustic look is a perfect balance of masculinity and femininity. You take the simple and unsophisticated woodsy elements of country living and add a feminine touch by complimenting and giving each piece a voice.

Rustic Dining Room
Rustic Dining Room
Rustic Dining Room
Rustic Dining Room
Rustic Dining Room

Keep your walls and furniture light in weight and color, unfinished and whimsical in nature. Think bare essentials, and the more imperfections the better!

With dark wood or contemporary dining furniture you can transform the style with a nice weathered look by sanding it lightly or painting it a creamy pastel color first and then sanding it.

Add textural interest with a soft faux finished wall, an antique area rug, or by stenciling a simple pattern on the doors of your hutch and/or buffet.

If your resources are limited you can use whatever furniture you do have and accessorize with rustic objects. Throw a handmade crocheted or lace tablecloth over a buffet for an authentic touch or hang dried flowers in artistic way on the wall.

It’s OK to mix old with new objects like taking a colored glass bowl and filling it with acorns or pine cones. You can also fill a ceramic vase with wildflowers and set it on the dining table for a rustic tone. Just remember, thoughtful simplicity is key…

Beautiful Bed Room Design Sample

Beautiful Bed Room DesignBeautiful Bed Room Design

Beautiful Bed Room Design MinimalistBeautiful Bed Room Design Minimalist


Beautiful Bed Room Design ElegantBeautiful Bed Room Design Elegant


The hottest color of 2010 is Beautiful Bed Room Design which is a strong color that must be used as a complement with lighter tones so as to not overwhelm the space and to make it look classy and fun.In the pictures above you can see a beautiful turquoise interior starting with the chandelier and ending with pillows.It’s a good combination between turquoise and floral tapet from walls.

Workout Anytime in Louisville Business First Inbox

Workout Anytime in Louisville Business First

Workout Anytime of Louisville, KY was recently in Louisville Business First. The article features Louisville resident, Bobby Paisley. Paisley brought Workout Anytime to the Louisville market, and has been with the brand for four years now. Bobby has been able to successful build the brand and will be opening his third Louisville location this March. Along with fellow fraternity brother from WKU and Regional Developer Greg Parker, they have built the brand in Louisville and surrounding areas in Kentucky.
You can read the full article here. 

WORKOUT ANYTIME on Entrepreneur

WORKOUT ANYTIME on Entrepreneur

WORKOUT ANYTIME Franchisee Chris Gately was recently featured in an article on Entrepreneur. The article titled, “Franchise Players: This Man Signed His Franchise Agreement While Serving in Baghdad” was in celebration of Memorial Day, Entrepreneur was profiling Veterans in Franchising. In this Q&A, Chris gives his insight to running a WORKOUT ANYTIME franchise.

You can view the full article here. 

CONCEPT INTERIOR DECORATORS NYC

Interior Decorators NYC

Interior Decorators NYC, there are many different benefits to live. Here, culture, food corners, training, and last but not least, the lounge and bar. If you want to spend a night in the city that never sleeps, then to New York City is a great bar, club and lounge, in particular to go. There are several rooms, and also spread throughout the city. live musicians are the best features of these lounges and bars. You can find indie rock band a lot of volume, and other local bands. Part of the show in New York City, a tremendously well. They are tastefully decorated, and the crowd, which is very appealing. These amazing living space in this late night to win the House, hip hop and youre likely to find one that will fit your musical taste.

They offer large crowds and expensive liquor and very elegant. The interior decoration of these rooms are for lights, big boost mood of the series, in fact, people also benefit from seeing the crowd warm with loud music and too much light. Interior Decorators NYC always find some very funny and what’s better than a bar, club lounges and especially where you can make your night of fun. Once your stomach is full with the best drinks in the theaters of New York, then is time to rock and roll music and if so, what better than a living room and also in New York, where fun begins.

In addition, these shows are also very useful during the time of the wedding reception. People are now tired of planning parties in hotels and other places. now part of wedding reception is poured into large halls, where people enjoy the maximum level. New York reception halls are simply incomplete without drinks. Here you can plan a cocktail, and also a bachelor party incurred prior to marriage. You can enjoy unlimited drinks which is great taste and you can also enjoy the loud music here. This part of reception or a cocktail can be fun with friends and other relatives. You know some reception includes dancing and fun, and this is the basic ingredient and that is what makes a great party for everyone. It is therefore the reception of the show is so famous in Interior Decorators NYC.

Interior Decorators NYC
Interior Decorators NYC

WORKOUT ANYTIME in Buffalo Grove Patch

WORKOUT ANYTIME in Buffalo Grove Patch in an article titled, “24/7 Gym Opens in Buffalo Grove.”  The article opens with some details about the opening of the Buffalo Grove WORKOUT ANYTIME, and the plans to open up to 25 clubs in the Chicago suburbs. Jeff and co-owner Eric Nagel are quoted about why Buffalo Grove is a great place for the first WORKOUT ANYTIME in Illinois. Cristel gives details about what WORKOUT ANYTIME offers and about the upcoming grand opening, and then provides info and quotes from Steve and John.  Click here for the entire article or begin below.

24/7 Gym Opens in Buffalo Grove
By: Cristel Mohrman

Workout Anytime might be a new name in town, but it’s one that company officials expect will soon be widely recognized.

The fitness center officially opened Saturday at 700 S. Buffalo Grove Grove Road. It’s the company’s first location in Illinois, but it certainly won’t be the last, said Workout Anytime officials, who are planning to expand to 25 clubs in the Chicago suburbs.

Buffalo Grove was selected as its first Illinois site for its demographics and because officials found little competition for the concept, which offers members all-hours access to no-frills workouts.

“We really like this location a lot,” co-owner Eric Nagel said.

(Read More)

Astaxanthin – Anti-Oxidant Superstar

While many antioxidants can be obtained by eating organic fruits and vegetables, astaxanthin is derived only from a specific microalgae called Haematococcus pluvialis.  The algae uses astaxanthin to protect itself from intense sunlight, ultraviolet radiation and low nutrition.

There are two natural astaxanthin sources: the microalgae that produce it and the salmon and krill which consume the algae directly. The best resources for these foods are wild-caught Alaskan Salmon and Krill Oil Supplement, which offer many other nutritional benefits.

Research indicates astaxanthin may benefit those suffering from inflammatory conditions including arthritis, rheumatoid disorders, metabolic disease, as well as cardiovascular, neurological and liver diseases.

Astaxanthin can also help to increase your muscle capacity and stamina, decrease workout recovery time, and decrease muscle pain.  Other proven benefits include:

Reduction of Inflammation
Protects Vision
Enhances Heart Health
Decreases Oxidative Stress
Protects Against Sunburn
Boost Your Immune System
Helps Prevent and Fight Cancer

Astaxanthin and Eye Health

Astaxanthin is an extremely powerful anti-oxidant:  65 times more powerful than vitamin C, 54 times more powerful than Beta-Carotene and 14 times more powerful than Vitamin E.
Astaxanthin crosses the blood-brain barrier AND the blood-retinal barrier which is a huge deal for your brain AND your eyes!

Astaxanthin is a member of the carotenoid family of anti-oxidants that include beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.   Of all the carotenoids, only zeaxanthin and lutein are found in the retinas of your eyes.  This is because your eye is a highly light and oxygen rich environment, and it needs a large amount of free radical scavengers to prevent damage. 
Scientists have specifically studied astaxanthin for its effects on the eyes and discovered that it is completely safe, and much more potent than all the other carotenoids.   Specifically it has been shown that astaxanthin supplementation can be effective in preventing a whole list of eye diseases including:

Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Diabetic Neuropathy
Cystoid Macular Edema
Central Retinal Arterial and Venous Occlusion
Glaucoma
Inflammatory Eye Diseases including retinitis, iritis, keratitis, and scleritis

Astaxanthin is one of the few anti-oxidants that you should consider supplementing because you cannot obtain the recommended dosage from your diet alone.      The good news is that there are excellent Astaxanthin Supplements available from companies like Jarrow, Doctors Best, and Swanson to name a few.   It should be taken with a meal with fat because it is fat soluble with dosage from 4mg – 12mg per day although there are no harmful effects from higher dosages.

Taking pills and supplements

Pills and supplements both have their uses, but only in moderation and only as long as strict guidelines are followed.

Over-the-counter (OTC) diet pills

The 1991/2 Weight Loss Practices Survey, sponsored by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, found that 5 per cent of women and 2 per cent of men trying to loseweight use diet pills. Products considered by the FDA to be OTC weight- control drugs are primarily those containing the active ingredient phenylpropanolamine (PPA), such as Dexatrim and Acutrim. PPA is available over the counter for weight control in a 75mg controlled-release-dosage form. The medicine should be used in combination with a restricted diet and exercise.

Diet Start

Using diet pills containing PPA will not make a big difference in the rate of weight loss, says Robert Sherman of the FDA’s Office of OTC Drug Evaluation. ‘Even the best studies show only about a half pound (250g) greater weight loss per week using PPA combined with diet and exercise,’ he adds. Sherman cautions that the recommended dosage of these pills should not be exceeded because of the risk of possible adverse effects, such as raised blood pressure and heart palpitations.

Supplements

To rely on taking pills as a way of supplying nutrients is not ideal, for in a perfect world such nutrients should come from our food. But when you consider the quality of some of our food — fruit and vegetables grown in mineral-depleted soil, picked before they have ripened and shipped over vast distances in refrigeration, then put into long-term storage; meat full of hormones; grains stripped of most of their nutritional content — then taking a good multivitamin supplement and possibly extra vitamin C can benefit most people. And while you are trying to balance your blood-sugar levels, reduce body fat and rebuild lean muscle tissue, there are a few supplements that may help.

Key supplements

Magnesium

A fundamentally important mineral that counters insulin resistance.

It is hugely deficient in the Western diet. Consider taking 230-600mg per day, unless you have suffered kidney failure or have a high degree of AV heart block.

Quercetin

A flavonoid with powerful anti-inflammatory properties that helpsto control high insulin levels and inhibit fat production. Take 200-400mg three times a day before meals.

Omega-3 fats

If you don’t eat fish, take 1,000-3,000mg of fish oil daily in capsule form. Vegetarians can use flaxseed oil or crushed flaxseeds instead of fish oil capsules. Try flaxseed oil in salad dressings (or even in smoothies) to ensure you get enough of this health-enhancing fat.

Chromium

A trace element that plays an important role in carbohydratemetabolism and regulating blood-sugar levels. It has proved useful in treating diabetes and shown to be effective in encouraging the body to lose fat, not muscle, when dieting. Take 400-600mcg of chromium picolinate or chromiumpolynicotinate a day.

Lcarnitine

Used extensively by athletes to ensure maximum performance inendurance or aerobic sports. It is also useful for weight loss because it is involved in burning fat in muscle cells. Take 1,000-3,000mg per day.

DIETARY MYTH

Myth: I will get quicker results if I use diet pills.

Fact: there are no shortcuts — no magic pills. Losing weight sensibly and safely requires a multifaceted approach that includes setting reasonable weight-loss goals, changing eating habits and getting adequate exercise. Appetite suppressants (diet pills) may help some people in the short term, but they are not a substitute for adopting healthy eating habits in the long term.

WORKOUT ANYTIME on CNN Money

WORKOUT ANYTIME on CNN Money in an article titled, “What’s next for Blockbuster’s empty stores.”  The article gives information about the recent announcement that Blockbuster will be closing their remaining locations, and how this benefits franchises looking for real estate in growth markets. WORKOUT ANYTIME is featured at the beginning of the article with info about WORKOUT ANYTIMEopening 20 locations in former Blockbusters and looking to open more. Randy is quoted about why the locations are ideal and how easy it is for them to convert the real estate. Jeff is quoted about the great location and how easy it is to tell members of the community where to find the gym. The article also states that WORKOUT ANYTIME is looking for more Blockbuster stores to convert to WORKOUTANYTIME locations.  Click here for the entire article or begin below.

What’s next for Blockbuster’s empty stores
By: Patrick deHahn

Blockbuster’s closing signals the end of an era, but it also means there’s a lot of retail space to fill.

Last week, Blockbuster announced plans to shutter its remaining 300 U.S. locations. It was the final nail in the coffin of a steadily declining brand, which was bought by Dish Network (DISH, Fortune 500) in 2010 after the retailer went bankrupt.

(Read More)

Solving the Weight Loss Puzzle Part 1

Have you tried to lose weight and failed? If so, you are not alone. 95% of the people who try to lose weight fail to reach their goal, and even less are actually able to maintain their weight loss once they achieve their goal. Obesity and the associated disease diabetes are increasing exponentially in the America despite the many published health warnings about the health risks associated with being overweight.
Why are people unable to lose weight? People are hopelessly confused about the factors controlling bodyweight regulation. This is not surprising when you understand that every single program, book, and guideline developed by various diet “experts”, including our own government, lacks crucial information, contains misinformation, or contains myths. The list of experts and programs seems endless: Dr. Atkins, Dr. Andrew Weil, The Pritikin Diet, Sugar Busters, Protein Power, Dr. Dean Ornish, the Paleo Diet, the Ketogenic Diet, and all the rest. To make matters worse much of the “information” from different experts seems to be completely contradictory.
Take this short True/False quiz to see how much you really understand about controlling your weight and bodyfat levels.
Eating a low fat diet is the key to losing weight
Eating a low carbohydrate diet is the key to losing weight
Most obese people have a slow metabolism
Obesity is a genetic disorder
Some people have a slow metabolism and some people have a fast metabolism
Exercise is not really effective for weight loss
You can eat all you want and lose weight if you do not eat carbohydrates
Low carbohydrate diets are unhealthy
If you eat foods in the right combinations you will lose weight
The key to weight loss is eating healthy not counting calories
Americans are eating more fat than ever before
Americans are eating less fat than ever before

Sound familiar? It should. All these statements have been made by various “experts”. Unfortunately, all but the last one is FALSE. If you want to control bodyweight you have to understand ALL the factors that govern bodyweight regulation and how they apply specifically to you. Stay tuned for part 2 of this article to learn more!

Tune Into Technology Linky: Integrating Technology into Reading

I’m excited to be linking up with iTeach 1:1 and Learning to the Core for their new series Tune into Technology. This week’s topic is Integrating Technology into Reading, so I wanted to share 5 strategies I use to do this.

1. Let kids annotate their reading with GoodReader.



I’ve talked about this app before, but it’s one of my favorites. GoodReader allows you to annotate pdf documents. I use it for almost all of my professional reading, and I’ve converted several documents into pdfs for my students as well. It’s a fantastic tool because my students are able to leave “think marks” all over their reading, and I don’t have to worry about them writing in a book or leaving sticky notes everywhere. We’ve even developed our own codes for how to use the annotation tools.

2. Share favorite books on KidBlog.

My students LOVE sharing the books they’re reading on KidBlog, and they especially love reading and commenting on each other’s blogs. I’ve talked more about how we do this in a previous post.

3. Create Book Trailers in iMovie.

Some of my students began doing this for fun at the end of the school year when we became a 1:1 iPad classroom, and I will definitely be doing this more next year. iMovie has some great templates built-in for this, and my students loved being able to share their favorite books through this medium.

4. Create book clubs and discussion groups on Edmodo.

We started using Edmodo at the end of the school year, and it was a great way to get conversations started or keep them going about the books we were reading in class. You can read more about getting started with Edmodo in my paperless series here.

5. Use Evernote and GoodReader to assess reading.



I use the running record templates from the Reading & Writing Project at Teacher’s College. Because they’re pdf files, I can annotate them in GoodReader, and I can record students while they’re reading in Evernote. I’ve written a complete tutorial on how to do this here.

How do you integrate technology into reading instruction in your classroom? I’d love to hear your ideas. And be sure to link up with the Tune into Technology linky!

And don’t forget to join us for the Southeastern Blogger Meet Up. Click the button below to get the details and RSVP!

Teacher Toolbox Trio Linky Celebration!

Since the advent of Teachers Pay Teachers, my teaching toolbox has changed quite a bit. There are so many things that I’ve made or bought for my classroom, and there are many others that are on my wishlist. To recognize that, I’m hosting a Teacher Toolbox Trio linky party.

Here are the rules of the trio:
1. Share a product that you’ve made that you couldn’t live without.
2. Share a product that you’ve purchased that you love.
3. Share something from your wish list that you’re hoping to get for next year.

If you’re not a seller on TpT, no worries — just share two products you’ve purchased that you love!

1. Something I’ve Made

The Classroom Economy Megapack was my first major project for TpT, and without question, it was the one that I used all the time last year. It has everything I needed for setting up my classroom jobs, monitoring daily behaviors on a clip chart, running my classroom economy, and giving students free/very low-cost rewards. Unlike my units that were used here and there, this was on display in my classroom all 180 days, and my kids loved it. This is the one thing that I could not live without.

2. Something I Purchased

Erin’s “A Roller Coaster Day” sub plans were amazing! I had to go to an all day district committee meeting on a Friday in May when the kids were already getting a little crazy, but they LOVED this. The sub said it kept them engaged all day, and given that I was already at the stage of the year when all of our required curriculum had been taught, it was perfect. It will be a permanent addition to my sub folder, and she’s also made one for grades 5-6. You can follow Erin’s blog: I’m Lovin Lit. 

3. Something on My Wish List

I’m really planning to focus on math facts and mental math skills early in the school year, and Laura Candler’s Mastering Math Facts has been on my radar screen for a while. I’m hoping to snag a copy before I go back in July. (Yes, July!)  Laura’s blog is Corkboard Connections.

The Linky Celebration

This is more than just a party — it’s a celebration! I’ve been meaning to do something to celebrate hitting 100 followers for a while now, and as I near the 150 mark, it’s definitely time! If you link up through the tool below, you’ll be eligible to win a $25 gift certificate from Teachers Pay Teachers — enough to possibly clear off some items from your own wish list!

clip art from KPM Doodles
I’ll be using a random number generator to select the winner from those who link up. The linky celebration will end next Friday, June 14 at 11:59pm EDT and the winner will be announced on my blog on Saturday.
Can’t wait to discover some new products and see some of your favorites! Be sure to link up below, and please include the Teacher Toolbox Trio icon and/or another link to Eberopolis in your post.

Happy linking!
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How to Overcome a Negative Habit



Habits are powerful.  Unfortunately, they often are created outside our consciousness and without our permission. However, we can consciously change habits. Habits shape our lives far more than we realize— they are so strong, in fact, that they can cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.
At the same time, positive habits can change our lives for the better. So how are habits created and what can we do to influence them in ourselves and our clients?
Three Parts of a Habit
The Cue: a situational trigger that is based on a reward you are seeking.
The Routine:  a physical or emotional action you take to obtain the reward.
The Reward:  the satisfaction you get by following the habit.

The Steps to Changing a Habit
Identify the Routine:  You must identify how you go from a particular cue to the routine of the habit and the reward it gives you.
Understand Cravings and Rewards

The first part of a habit is the cue, but before the cue there is some type of craving.  Cravings drive habits.   Understanding cravings is key to figuring out habits.  In a habit, there is a specific reward that satisfies a particular craving.    In other words, figure out what you are getting from the habit because you ARE getting something from it!
Rewards are powerful because they satisfy cravings. But we’re often not conscious of the cravings that drive our behaviors. For example, when developing the air freshening product Febreze marketers discovered that people craved a fresh scent at the end of a cleaning ritual.  They found a craving that people were not aware of.     This craving is so strong that without added scent most people do not get satisfaction from an air freshener that just removes odors from the air – they have to smell the scent!   It is exactly the same phenomenon with breath freshners which can be made to eliminate odor WITHOUT any taste/scent, but no one buys them!
Most cravings are like this: obvious in hindsight, but difficult to discern when they are in control of your behavior. It is critical to discover the cravings that drive habits to be able to change or create habits!   To figure out which cravings are driving particular habits, it’s useful to experiment with different rewards. For example, say your reward is having a cookie after studying every night.  The next time you study deliberately substitute something else for the cookie such as going for a short walk or having a cup of tea instead. 
The next time eat an apple and another time change call a friend for call, etc. What you choose to do instead of eating a cookie is not important.  The key is to test different hypotheses to determine the exact craving that is driving your routine.   Are you craving the cookie itself, or a break from work? If it’s the cookie, is it because you’re hungry? (In which case the apple should work just as well.) Or is it because you want the burst of energy the cookie provides? (And so coffee may work just as well.) Or is it where you eat the cookie and who you are with?  Do you go to a specific place to get and eat your cookie?  If so maybe the real craving may have to do with a desire to socialize.  
As you test four or five different rewards, use this technique to identify patterns.  After each activity, note the first three things that come to mind after your reward behavior. This can be emotions, random thoughts, reflections on how you’re feeling, or just the first three words that pop into your head. Then, set an alarm on your watch or computer for fifteen minutes. When it goes off, ask yourself: Do you still feel the urge for that cookie? The reason why it’s important to write down three things— even if they are meaningless words— is twofold. First, it forces a momentary awareness of what you are thinking or feeling.
By experimenting with different rewards, you can isolate what you are actually craving, which is essential in changing a habit.
Determine the Specific Cue for the Habit

This is the trigger that initiates the craving for the reward.   So it is very important to learn the cues for habits.   Common cues including being in a particular place, being with a particular person, a particular time of time of day, a specific emotional state, etc.    Asking yourself these five questions can be very helpful for identifying cues:
Where are you when the urge for a reward hits you?
What time is it?
What is your emotional state?
Who else is present?
What did you do right before you had the urge?
Have a Plan!
Once you understand the habit you want to change you need to create a plan to change the habit!   The easiest way to do that is have a specific plan of action whenever you experience the cue or cues.    For example, if you smoke when you have coffee know this and plan to do something else deliberately whenever you have a cup of coffee.   The plan is key or you will slip right back into the old routine.
Another example is having a few beers every night when you get home.  Through the first three steps you discover that having the beer helps you relax after a stressful day.    You also learned that going for a 20-minute walk or doing Tai Chi gives you that same reward of feeling relaxed.   So now you plan to either go for a walk or do Tai Chi ever day as soon as you get home (or even better before you get home!).

It’s Not Just You™ – The Elder Scrolls: Legends A.I. Seems Pretty Hard To Beat Now [Noticed]

Just a little notification that, if you are playing TES:Legends recently and find it’s quite a bit harder to beat the computer opponent (AI/NPC)… It’s Not Just You™

I was in the Beta for The Elder Scrolls: Legends; but never got around to finishing my “First Impressions” article on it [as is how it usually goes for me and posting, heh]. Legends has been out of Beta for a few months now, and if I could summarize the game in one paragraph, I would say that Legends is a Virtual Collectible Card style game, that is ‘both Single-Player and Multiplayer’ (you can play against other human opponents, in matches and “Arena” rounds – but you don’t have to, you can entirely play against the computer AI both in single matches and in ‘Arena playoffs’, if you desire). It is actually more of a “Card Collecting” game than a “Trading Card” game – as I have not seen a way to trade with human players yet – but that is similar to other ‘virtual card games’ of this genre, like Hearthstone and Gwent (“World Of Warcraft” Lore and “Witcher” Lore -based virtual card games, respectively). The game cannot be played Offline and you don’t actually get any ‘Real Life’ Cards of any form; but that again, is the same for the other virtual card games mentioned.

After playing a little bit when it was first Released, I didn’t play Legends for a few months, only recently picking it up again to play a bit – and boy was I in for a surprise!

The computer AI as it is now, offensive and ticked off
(Cropped Screenshot of art by Bethesda Game Studios)

Perusing the Updates for the game (which there seems to be one of every few weeks, a nice thing to see for a game!) – there was an Expansion for the game released at the end of June 2017 (Heroes of Skyrim) – but nothing that says, “We felt the AI was a little too easy to beat, so we beefed it up a bunch and it also will pull cards out of it’s butt hat, getting exactly what it needs at times, to win!” – so I’m not sure when this AI change occurred… [I didn’t play for a good few months or more, so sometime around mid-2017, I reckon].

Judging by the recent changes to the Computer Opponent A.I., get used to seeing this screen more often…

Legends is a fun game still, with it’s flashy effects and nice sounds, not to mention the wonderful Elder Scrolls-style ‘realistic’ art on everything; I personally don’t mind if I am going to be losing to the Computer a lot more; but it would have been nice to see a more obvious notification of it somewhere – or a way to perhaps adjust it (via a Slider or Dial or anything..).

I do think the AI was ‘just a little too easy’ at first, making simple moves and not many combos, losing a lot more than it won against me – but now it seems pretty darn hard – almost too hard, pulling multi-combos everywhere and buffing cards a lot more and getting ‘the perfect card’ or ‘just what it needs’ at times, to pull off a win (as though, instead of the AI having a prepared set of cards, cards seem now ‘generated as the game goes’, to “keep it competitive”). I can still win once in a while against the AI in Solo Play and Solo Arenas – and I understand that Bethesda might want to make things ‘a bit difficult’ to encourage selling Card Packs; but… Dearest Beth: It’s “Just A Little Too Much” Now… [in my opinion]

The ‘new’ Computer Opponent A.I. at work, busy buffing its’ cards to no end

I won’t stop playing, of course – and I won’t stop getting Card Packs once in a while (for all three of the Collectible Card Games mentioned above, when I can) – but I just wanted to mention this, for others too; that if you noticed the Computer seemed ‘tweaked’ lately and is now pretty darn hard to beat as an Opponent in Legends – It’s Not Just You™…

If I play some Versus matches, which I do from time to time – See You In The Game!

Addendum
Changes Seen:
– Increased Combination plays (Buffs, Debuffs, then Attacking)
– Increased Healing cards (Health added to Opponent)
– Highly Increased ‘instant-kill’ or ‘unsummon’ type “Destroy A Creature” cards (Piercing Javelin, Lighting Strike, Execute, Cast Out, etc)
etc.

Are You Ready for NaNoWriMo?

I plan to encourage my students to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year. For those of you who aren’t familiar, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. It’s the month where tell your inner-editor to hush so you can just let the ideas flow on to the page. It’s about getting something done without worrying how perfect it is, because you can always go back and revise in December.

Last year, as October drew to a close, I introduced NaNoWriMo to my class. I explained the premise, and gave them the option of taking on the challenge. We talked about word count goals and commitment to writing outside of the classroom. Then the fun started. Student after student signed up, each cheering each other on as they dedicated themselves to writing a book. In the end, I think all but two students decided to participate. We had weekly lunch meetings where students could eat and share their writing with friends, and although not all students met their goals, they definitely started to find their voices as authors.

The Young Writers Program for NaNoWriMo has some great teaching materials to get your students psyched for NaNoWriMo and to teach them about narrative writing in general. You can check out their website at http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/. In addition, there’s still time to order a NaNoWriMo classroom kit which comes with a student goal setting poster, NaNoWriMo stickers to track progress toward a goal, and buttons for those students who participate or finish. The classroom kit is free (and awesome), but they request a $10 donation for the materials — a small price to pay to get your students excited about writing.

In honor of NaNoWriMo, I’ll be hosting a month-long link-up that will start on November 1 and run the duration of NaNoWriMo. Whether your class officially participates in NaNoWriMo or not, I hope you’ll join me in sharing the great writing work that’s happening in your class. Grab the button, spread the word, and meet me back here on November 1st for a writing extravaganza!

In the meantime, check out the Educators’ section of the Young Writers Project. I’m sure you’ll find plenty to get you (and your students) excited for a month full of creative writing!

Who’s in?

INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

This small apartment is an example of how to make the most of a limited space.This live well in apartments provided with large windows giving good natural light, open spaces and good storage options, including a large sub basement. The lounge is spacious and decorated in bright materials.

INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

Upstairs is a beautiful model Dutch prosecutors. Create the mural are welcomed into a room like this.The the kitchen is located between the lobby and hall, and it offers plenty of cooking space. It is an ingenious closet in the hallway. As you can see, the secret of this event to find creative storage.

INTERIOR DESIGN FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

INTERIOR DESIGN FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

INTERIOR ROOM DESIGN FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

INTERIOR ROOM DESIGN FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

INTERIOR DESIGN BATHROOM FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

INTERIOR DESIGN BATHROOM FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

INTERIOR DESIGN SKETCH FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

INTERIOR DESIGN SKETCH FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

Battlefield 1 – DirectX Error “GetDeviceRemovedReason” [Workaround]

At first, because of the phrasing of the error, I thought it might be Hardware, namely my GPU (Graphics Processing Unit, the Videocard); but since that was working fine with literally, all other games – playing in longer gaming sessions even [and I know for sure that I wasn’t actually physically pulling out my videocard while playing …I think] – I omitted that possibility (for now) and focused on a potential Software approach, which meant checking configuration…

Looking at the Settings for the game then, I tried reducing everything down to the Lowest Possible Settings; to reduce the load on the GPU and the load in the processing of the game itself. (With lowered settings, there would be less data being streamed from the game, less being extracted from the compressed/encrypted files of the game, less being calculated and drawn, less everything). If there was a problem with how game data was being handled, this might being it to light [note: an issue with integrity of the files would not be detected this way, this is more of a data handling troubleshooting step; integrity of the game files can usually be checked/verified with a Repair/Verify through the game client or if that doesn’t help, a Reinstall of the game usually assures accurate game files (barring Drive/RAM file handling (Hardware) issues – which is another tangent/issue altogether, heh) – screenshot of where to run a Repair/Verify of the game files for BF1, below].

Example of the Location of where to Repair the game files in the Origin Game Client, showing Battlefield 1 in 2017
(Click to see Full Size)

Nope. Crash. Error [which I lost the clean Screenshot of, of course – but a version of it is in the Header for this posting – I will add a clear Screenshot of the error window to this post when I can capture it again, if it occurs]. Hmmm…. Since it was a DirectX error (and I am 93.33-repeating-percent-sure that I did not “remove the video card” while playing..), I tried one last thing. Instead of swapping out the GPU to try with something else (a GPU from a friend’s PC, for example), which is approaching a Hardware type issue; I tried something else: I changed the DirectX level in the game from DirectX 12 to DirectX11 [this may not have been solely ‘my idea’ – although I am sure I would have eventually arrived at it as a troubleshooting step, I looked up this error and found many, many locations and sources of others stating they have this issue and encountered this error and I may have read it somewhere, for it to have come up – merely mentioning because I just don’t want to take sole credit for something I may not have come up with entirely by myself…].

Example of where to ‘Disable DirectX 12’ and ‘Enable DirectX 11’ in the Video Settings, in Battlefield 1
[Hmm, this is more of a Workaround than a ‘Fix’ for this issue…]
(Click to see Full Size)

Success! I played a good couple of hours this way, with no crashing, closing, freezing, or errors at all – great! After trying it after re-opening the game, rebooting and playing some more, testing it the next day or two after as well, it seemed ‘solidified’; changing the DirectX level/version from 12 to 11 seemed to ‘solve’ the issue [for me, for now].

I think this is more of a ‘Workaround’ than a ‘Fix’, since it doesn’t solve the issue permanently… there is still something in the game engine or how it communicates with DirectX/Windows/theGPU, which is causing something that is not ‘fixed’ by this step; but, since it does work to get past the issue, I thought I would share, to help others that may be running into this seemingly-popular problem (‘popular’ judging from the queries I found about this issue on both the Battlelog forum and EA Support Forums, spanning a few years now..). I hope this works for you, dear reader, as it seems to have done, for me.

[Since this is not a true ‘fix’ (I do not know if this is permanent nor do I know the actual source/nature of the issue, therefore I cannot say this is a ‘fix’, imo); I will post this with the title “workaround”…]

Addendum:

Other helpful tips/steps that can possibly help, if the above step does not work (and some additional information), can be found in multiple places on the Battlefield and EA forums, such as this list by a helpful poster named STEEiL:
https://forums.battlefield.com/en-us/discussion/54605/directx-function-error-amd-getdeviceremovedreason-error-in-battlefield-1

Good Luck – I hope it gets working for you soon – and See You In The Game!

My trip to Hanoi, Vietnam

I returned to Vietnam to facilitate a 2 day planning workshop for the 6 organizations that I did the capacity assessments in January. It felt good to meet everyone and catch up. The workshop went smoothly and I had very positive feedback from the participants.

I was happy to see people genuinely interested and participating / contributing towards the workshop. This ensured a high quality of the results and the buy in by the participating organizations. I put the success of the workshop down to the following:

  1. The CEO / Executive director (ultimate boss) of the organization participated
  2. They had read the organization capacity assessment report and were familiar with the contents.
  3. They were guaranteed of a tangible workable plan at the end of 2 days.
  4. Being open and willing to learn

There is a chance that I may be requested to do some more work for them in the near future; however it seems that this is the end of this phase and the client is happy with the results.


The view from the roof top restaurant near Hoan Kiem Lake.

I stayed at the Trang An hotel; It’s in the center of Hanoi, near Hoan Kiem Lake, so quite convinient for walking around, shopping, finding nice restaurant, etc… Had a good time too.

Quality Test – MSI Afterburner’s MJPEG Implementation (Part I) with Hitman: Absolution (Ultra Settings, 1080p)

Update: Added screenshot example of the RTV1 codec ‘color banding’ issue, with circled areas¹**
Update: Added Quality Test Comparison (Four 1080p samples of Hitman:Absolution) at different Quality Settings²**

Recording with the MJPEG (Motion JPEG) codec, every frame is an independent ‘Keyframe ‘or ‘I-Frame’ (short for “Information Frame”), which means it is a type of frame that can be ‘cut’ or started from in video editing programs (technically, every frame is a JPG picture!). This also allows for faster seeking and rendering in editing applications. MJPEG also requires less overhead (better performance/less ‘lag’ while recording) than many codecs. As well, the audio captured is PCM (“Uncompressed”) with MSI’s Afterburner, which means that any video editor should be able to recognize the sound data. Errors in programs like Virtualdub saying “Error initializing audio stream decompression” or Sony’s Vegas showing “Stream attributes could not be determined” will not occur and these will open the audio without associated problems.

Testing out MSI’s Afterburner as a game recorder and using the built-in MJPEG codec that comes with the program, I fired up some Hitman: Absolution, turned up everything to Ultra, captured some clips and put them together, uploaded it to YouTube, and collected some results with everyone:

This video compilation is a test of a few things:
1) Hitman: Absolution’s performance while maxed out (Ultra Settings in game Options)
2) Capture quality of MSI Afterburner and performance/lag of using it
3) H.264/AVC compression quality maintainability
4) Youtube’s quality maintainability

Recorded with:
MSI Afterburner
– v.2.3.0
– MJPEG codec, “Full Frame”, 80% quality, 30fps
– Audio automatically records into PCM (“Uncompressed”) format

Recorded Game: 
Hitman: Absolution @ 1920×1080 (1080p)
– “Ultra” settings (Preset)
– Anisotropic Filtering set to 4xAA
– “Texture Filtering Quality” set to High Quality (i.e.Off/NoFiltering) in Control Center

– “Morphological” Anti-Aliasing (MLAA) setting (AMD/ATi) set to ON
– “Surface Format Optimization” set to OFF in Control Center (AMD/ATi)

Framerate while not recording: ~31-79fps
Framerate while recording: ~28-64fps

I chose some Hitman: Absolution clips for a Quality Test because it was a good example of a recent game (at the time of this writing) that includes both fast movement/action areas on the screen, as well as slow/non-moving parts, including text. It has lots of dark and light areas, high contrast edges, particles (rain/filmgrain/sparks,etc) and tests area panning as well.
I was impressed with MSI Afterburner and it’s utilization of the MJPEG codec overall. It seems to be slightly optimized or tweaked somewhat. At 80% Quality (to be in the realm of comparison with Bandicam’s MJPEG Preset Default of ‘Quality80’), flatter/darker parts were not overly compressed – which would create excessive macroblocking and/or be too smoothed out, normally. This could be partially due to the ‘Film Grain’ effect within the game, however (seen mainly when the sky or a flat-coloured background is in view).
In other words, there was very little Gibbs Effects aka ‘Ringing’ (“mosquito noise”) around elements such as text when onscreen, and what effects were there, were ‘hidden’ somewhat by the grain effect. You had to look closely to see it, which is still pretty good for not recording in a 100% Quality setting – but again, the ‘Film Grain’ effect in this game is contributing to this ‘negative effect of the MJPEG codec’ not being as visible.

A small amount of Gibbs Effects/Mosquito Noise/Ringing can be seen around and within the UPC symbol  from this frame taken out of the original MJPEG recording. It is about as visible and even seems to be less so in the video itself, due to the “Film Grain” effect present in the game helping to hide it. Click to see Full Size

The very small amount of color banding present in the original recording was somewhat generated by the Game Engine and there is very little of it (what does occur is hidden somewhat with the film grain effect the game has).
In the recorded output, thankfully there is very little, partially because of a higher-quality setting when used and how MJPEG codec handles color dithering; color banding usually won’t be seen very much at higher bitrate/quality settings (which means low compression), but will be easily seen at lower bitrate/quality settings (which uses higher compression).
Keeping above 80% quality when recording with the MJPEG codec [I recommend recording at 90% if your system can handle it, as most games do not have the Film Grain effect present in Absolution to help hide compression artifacts, such as color banding, flat color/area macroblocks and Gibbs Effects] if you have the space, it should leave you satisfied with easily-editable captures.

²**Quality Test Comparison – Four examples of various Quality Settings (90%, 70%, 50% and 30%) when using MSI Afterburner’s MJPEG Codec in Hitman: Absolution. The differences are most apparent in the middle section, the bricks that the police officer is standing on, and the people milling around to the left of the gazebo, both areas showing colour loss (Posterization) and detail loss (Quantization), more obvious in the 30% sample (bottom). All sources were original output frame extractions from 1080p recordings.
Click to see Full size

[A quick note here that MSI Afterburner’s output/recording seems to be somewhat darker than other game recording programs. It even states this in it’s own Options, “captured video may appear darker than you see it while gaming” and offers a checkbox that will apply Gamma Correction. Since this article is more about MSI’s MJPEG optimization and utilization (performance and ability to maintain visible quality), this ‘darker recording’ will be explored further in a future Game Recorder Comparison article]

For people trying out any game recording software and finding your recordings are choppy/laggy on playback (that is, when you are looking at the generated/recorded file), you should find that if you use a player/viewer that has Acceleration (GPU, videocard, DirectX processing), it should play back much more smoothly. If your system does not have this option, you can also try converting what is captured to another file temporarily, one with a smaller bitrate/size, and you should then find it will play back that converted file just fine (especially when recording with lossless/high-bitrate codecs).



It was interesting to do some side recording with Afterburner’s included RTV1 codec as well*
The Riva Tuner Video codec is an iteration related to older codecs such as Indeo Video and S3TC compression techniques. It is similar to MJPEG and it seems to have very little effect on performance while recording – even performing slightly better than MJPEG at times, which was a nice surprise. Unfortunately, it suffers from ‘color banding’ (Color Quantization/Posterization) and the result is apparent lower quality, even at high bitrate/quality settings. Although it may not be as obvious in the below comparisons (depending on the settings of your monitor/colors/brightness), and while it certainly does not ‘destroy the quality overall’ in the game recording, in the captured video the color banding can be very distracting, especially when it includes motion through the color and light changes in an area as you move through it [it may not be to everyone, of course]. The size of the file produced is quite a bit larger than when recording with the MJPEG codec as well, but more on that in a future article..

*As this article is mainly a Test of Afterburner’s usage of the MJPEG codec, a future Game Recorder Comparison article will include the RTV1 codec found in MSI’s Afterburner and cover it in more detail than here

¹**An example of the RTV1 codec’s problem with Color Quantization (‘color banding’). This frame is extracted directly from a 100% Quality RTV1 codec recording (Batman: Arkham City Benchmark @ 1080p). The areas that contain the most obvious color banding problem have been highlighted with green circles.

If you are having problems with Color Banding that is not in the game itself, try to use a higher-bitrate setting (higher quality) for the codec you are recording with, resulting in lower compression and lowered loss of details, if you can do so.
[With the RTV1 codec, it appears that it will still remain a little, no matter what…]


Getting back to MJPEG testing with Afterburner, framerate was maintained close to non-recording performance (at ~30-60+fps for this game) when recording. I usually used MSI’s Afterburner only as a monitor/controller for the videocards installed and captured with another program such as FRAPS or Bandicam. Using MSI Afterburner alone and having to run one less application in the background to capture no doubt had at least some sort of streamlining affect on performance. It felt that way, slightly.

Clear, crisp textures can be seen in this frame taken from the original MJPEG capture.
MSI’s Afterburner and it’s utilization of the MJPEG codec seems to be even slightly superior to Bandicam’s implementation of it. [Hmm..something that must soon be tested!]
Click to see Full Size

The Average bitrate of the original MJPEG captures was about 30Mbps up to 70Mbps, which meant a writing stream to the disk of up to 8MB/s, which almost any hard drive can handle (recorded onto a drive capable of 150MB/s at the time).
The original generated recording files were about twice the bitrate and size of the final MPEG-4 compressed file uploaded to YouTube, the final file weighing in at about 600MB with a bitstream of 25Mbps on average (it is assumed that almost everyone will compress recorded material into a final output video compilation file of 8-20Mbps or so, for uploading to YouTube/Vimeo/etc (Blu-Ray’s standard bitrate is 36Mbps and most video editing application presets go up to 20Mbps by default).
This final utilized bitrate, with the efficiency of H.264/AVC, manages to keep most of the detail that was in the original MJPEG recordings, although sadly, most of the finer detail is lost after uploading, as can be seen in the screenshot comparison below:

Originally used in an earlier article testing out MJPEG on Diablo3 with Bandicam, this screenshot shows examples of the detail loss after uploading to YouTube, when the video is played back at 1080p and 720p. Click to see Full Size 

What was more disappointing was that YouTube feels the need to overly re-compress uploads. Much of the quality is lost, especially things like the film grain, one of the ‘first things to go’ in temporal video recompression. For instance, at 1:03-1:08 there is visible grain effect maintained in the settings I chose for the final compressed output file, keeping most of the grain from the original MJPEG recording from Afterburner. In the YouTube Video Player after uploading, it can be seen that much of that grain is lost. Another example of this is the dense cornfield against the much flatter sky textures at 1:30-1:36. I kept the complexity of the cornstalks and hard contrasts of the plant details versus the sky on purpose, yet after YouTube’s recompressing of the video, the result is blurred and smoothed details that were not like that in the recorded MJPEG video or the final H.264/AVC high-quality video output/final compress. I will attempt other uploads of the data at various settings for experimentation and put it just below this paragraph when an upload does not lose much of the finer details I wish to share**. I understand they must do it to save space (no doubt people upload huge, ‘FRAPS-original’ size files and recordings sometimes), it is merely unfortunate. At least it then becomes an example of what happens to some of the quality and detail once uploaded to YouTube (the extracted frame above, for example, is from the original MJPEG recording produced by Afterburner). There seems to be no use, at this time, to attempt to upload extremely high quality/fine detail. 

 The file originally uploaded to YouTube, the results of the MSI/MJPEG Quality Test, was previously compressed with a bitrate of 25Mbps. While this bitrate, using high-quality H.264/AVC codec settings, was enough to maintain details such as Film Grain and high contrast edges, much of this detail was lost after YouTube recompressed the uploaded file. 

**Another, higher-bitrate excerpt [in an attempt to compensate for YouTube’s recompression] of the original MSI/MJPEG video capture:

This video then, is an attempt to compensate for YouTube’s recompression and data loss, by uploading a video stream with a very high bitrate (an average of 60Mbps, up to 80Mbps, higher even than the original recorded data). As such, the duration is much smaller, a mere excerpt of the original intended upload.

Result: Even when a video stream is uploaded with the much higher bitrate, even when the original captured file is uploaded, even when I rendered the capture to a 2160p (4K UltraHD) file and uploaded that to YouTube, YouTube’s recompression of the uploaded material (while still watchable) loses far too much detail from the actual upload – at least for high-detail evaluation of a game recorder’s produced video streams. This is unfortunate. For now then, I will try to always show frames (screenshots) extracted from the original captured files created by game recording applications in Quality Tests…

Turning up the Recording Quality setting to 100%, the bitrate for MJPEG jumps up to over 275Mbps (over 30MB a second of file size being written to the drive). Quite a jump – and at that bitrate, the size becomes comparable to a YUV codec (or a FRAPS 1080p half-size recording) easily – but the quality ramps up as well. Color dithering and loss of detail is surprisingly near-negligible at 100% Quality with this game, yet the resource demand for using the MJPEG codec [especially MSI’s optimization of it] seems to remain small, as MJPEG was already a lightweight codec with somewhat smaller processing being done, to begin with. Today’s powerful videocards and CPU’s should be capable of pumping out a sequence of lightly compressed JPEG’s in a single file [no pun intended] without breaking a sweat. As long as your system isn’t chugging along already, adding some MJPEG capturing shouldn’t affect it very much. For those of you with slightly older systems with trouble recording in other codecs, give MJPEG a try, it should record smoother for you.

Overall, well done MSI.  /clap

If anyone is looking for a completely free Game Recording program (it might have even come on a disc with your videocard, as mine did) look no further than MSI’s Afterburner. Keeping the settings relatively high [especially with the MJPEG codec, to keep compression artifacts low] and/or doing your own tests to see what looks ‘good enough’ for you, I suspect many people will be happy (if you aren’t already) with using Afterburner and the low-resource-demanding and editing-friendly MJPEG codec to record your gaming adventures.

Please note dear reader, that I am not saying “This codec is the best one to record with” or “use this one only”. I am merely showing that it is possible, or how to tweak it for quality or file size, as to your own personal tastes. There are many codecs out there to choose from when game recording and although some are more apt for certain types of games than others, overall it is your own choice to do with as you wish – do a few short tests and use what you prefer.

Have fun recording with MSI Afterburner and the MJPEG codec – and See you in the games!




[Note: As noted throughout this article, this testing of MJPEG with Hitman:Absolution alone is not a full test of MJPEG quality maintenance potential, as this game utilizes a “Film Grain” effect, which hides some of MJPEG’s weaknesses in maintaining Quality. In a future post (Part II), a more in-depth examination of MJPEG as a video game recording codec, using other games and utilities, will be actualized. See you then!]

Workout Anytime in Global Atlanta

Workout Anytime in Global Atlanta

WORKOUT ANYTIME was recently featured in Global Atlanta. The article highlights Atlanta based fitness center chain, Workout Anytime adding its first location in Canada this fall. It mentions the new location in Calgary, Alberta scheduled for an October opening. Randy Trotter was quoted about the success Workout Anytime is planning to bring Canada. It also mentions Dustin Taylor and Jeff Gellatelly are the mast franchisees for the new location and grants them rights to open Workout Anyime centers in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

You can view the full article here. 

My trip to Delhi and Hyderabad cont…………….

Today I finished the 3rd Organizational Capacity Assessment (OCA). The first organization was The National Council of Applied Economic Research of India (www.ncaer.org). The second organization was the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (www.dalitstudies.org.in). The third organization is the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (www.nipfp.org.in).

I must say that I have never met a group of such eminent people working passionately as I witnessed in the past 6 days. Most of the people I met for the OCA’s are individually academics of international standing. What struck me most was the passion and the objectivity of their work as well as the humility they show when compared to the major results they have achieved. I wish all not for profit organizations had such an ethos when it comes to measuring there results.

I have to record the results of the interviews conducted over the last few days as soon as I can as I will be traveling to Hyderabad on the 1st. for the 4th OCA. Tomorrow is the only non working day in this assignment but I guess I will be doing the documentation. Hope I get a chance to finish early so that I can go out for the evening.

The 1st of March is a holiday in India (festival of colours) and hope I don’t get splashed with coloured powder on the way to the airport.

Raw Gameplay (Unedited) – Battlefield Play4Free (32 Players, Saiga-12 Won from The Daily Draw)

Battlefield Play4Free is a Free-To-Play title, where it doesn’t cost anything to join in, but you can purchase weapons, armor, clothing and other items for Real Money by purchasing Tokens that you can then use in the in-game Store. There is also a nice feature where you can win prizes (weapons, armor, clothing, etc) from a game called The Daily Draw, where you choose a card from a draw of eight and it will generate an item for you.

The items range from temporary one-day use weapons and clothing, to seven day usage, to permanent items your character (Soldier) can use in the game forever (for example, a scope that can be attached to a gun for that soldier for all time). This is great for those who can’t afford to purchase many in-game items, as it not only offers the possibility of getting some great gear ‘forever’, it also gives a nice preview of a weapon, mod or clothing, so that you can see what it will look like/feel like, if you decide to splurge and purchase it for yourself (supporting the game and developers as well) sometime in the future.

In this video, I present ‘Raw Gameplay’ (unedited gameplay) of BFP4F after winning a Saiga-12 Shotgun for one day’s usage on my Medic via The Daily Draw. I had joined a 32-player server (running a Rush map) that was nice and full (16 soldiers per side). After getting the kinks out and getting used to the controls again after not playing for a while, I think things picked up as the game went on.. I was soon having fun arming MCOMs and healing and reviving. Near the end, I realized that my Aircraft controls weren’t set/got reset, as my mouse wasn’t ‘inverted’ and I couldn’t fly the helicopter at all, haha.

Recorded game: Battlefield Play4Free, Online FPS
Recorded with: Bandicam (Registered Version) @ 864p
Recording codec: MPEG-1, 70% Quality, 30fps

This video was also a test of a few things (though not an ‘Official Testing Video’): I was messing around with different settings (resolutions, quality settings) to see how low I could set things before the quality suffered too much. This is of course, something VERY relative and what looks ‘good enough’ to one person, looks ‘like crap on a cracker’ to another person. What I was testing here was, what seemed good enough to upload to YouTube (since it recompresses anyway) and still be enjoyable, while making the recorded file as small as I could via Quality settings (which limits the bitrate somewhat) and resolution size (the larger the resolution, the more bitrate/filesize that would be required).

As I have stated in earlier articles talking about Quality, Bitrate and Filesize, I still find that going below 60% produces too many compression artifacts (macroblocks and ‘trails’, Gibbs effects and more) for many games, especially if there are large dark areas (which would get compressed more highly and have these compression effects occur in them). This doesn’t happen with all games however; some games are fast-moving and/or do not have many darker/flatter areas and using 50% quality doesn’t look too bad, even with the MJPEG codec. It’s a balancing and testing game, as some games (especially with text) look fine and others look very bad (the compressor will try to allocate more bits around edges like text and compress even more highly then, the flatter/darker areas in a scene). I have done recordings of news streams and other things however, that allow for a very low quality recording setting (down to 20%), but that is mainly because the source itself is of a low quality (many streams are highly compressed and there is not much ‘extra’ compression artifacts produced by recording it in a lower quality/bitrate, especially if you are going to downsize for the final output video).

For most games, I found I could go down to 70% Quality comfortably – as long as the resolution stayed ‘higher’ [720p or higher]. With lower resolutions, the bitrate/quality reduction means too many ‘casualties’, as 30% of a 1080p recording isn’t that many pixels when you consider the screen size; but one-third of a 480p recording is a huge amount of the already small screen being ‘lost’ to compression. Thus, with some testing (again to what looks “ok to me“) I arrived at a middle ground of 864p, which maintains decent clarity of text and is large enough to discourage overcompression of darker/flatter areas. For keeping recorded files small and downsizing to 720p HD, it looked fine to me in tests – and on some games, doesn’t look that bad even if you wanted to upsize to 1080p HD (clear text was maintained, etc).

So, enjoy this first installment in an ‘unofficial’ Video Series here at The Game Tips And More Blog: “Raw Gameplay” of Battlefield Play4Free. If you like the game, play it, tell others about it and buy some stuff from the Online Store and support it!

See You In The Game!

Any gameplay videos or animations uploaded are only one example of one possible path of game play and is not representative of the gameplay experience of the entirety of the game material as it is non-repeatable in exactness (movements, actions, viewpoints, etc) to a high degree of accuracy (especially in regards to online multiplayer play and interactions) and therefore is not a representation of a large portion of the game content (this includes complete Walkthroughs/Playthroughs, Raw Gameplay Footage and Tutorials). All material and content uploaded attempts to respect copyright and is presented for Educational and Entertainment purposes only, utilized under Fair Use and can be construed as Free Advertising. No copyright infringement is intended and cannot be inferred. Any possible representation approaching any infringement, to those seeking infringement action, requires double notification and will be honoured by permanent removal of the infringing material.

HOW TO DECORATE WITH NO MONEY

In the present times, the expenses are rising for everyone and this is the reason why budgets have become tighter. Having less or insufficient money, does not stop people from wanting things or wishing for them. The house is the place, where one spends the maximum amount of time and everyone wants that they house looks nice and attractive. There is a myth that if one wants to decorate or improve the house; they will need to spend a large amount of money.

HOW TO DECORATE WITH NO MONEYThis is not true as it is possible to decorate the house or a room without any money also. One needs to be attentive and use their creativity and in this way they can make the house look nicer.

One of the easiest ways to decorate a room or the house is to use everything that is already available in the house. One can use things which are packed off as of being of no use or one can use the things that are there in the room. Many times, just re arranging the furniture and the things in the house can create a new look altogether. Changing the color scheme of the room is also a good idea. One can use combinations of colors to create a new look. Throwing in new and vibrant colors in a room is also a good idea. New colors break the monotonous look of a room and help one change the way the room looks.

Another way to change the way a room looks is to add a painting or a wall hanging to the walls. This is a great way as it gives a new dimension to the room. A plain wall does not look nice and adding something to it can give a great look as well. One should always work on the larger area of the house and then move to the small ones. The house can be decorated with existing things in the house, and one can easily use these and decorate.For example you can use some oriental rugs from bedroom to put under the coffee table from living room. It is not always necessary to buy new things and decorate. Using the creativity one can create focal points in the house, and use this to create a new look in the house. When the focus of a room changes, it itself gives a new life and a new look to the room and this is one of the best and the most affordable ways to decorate the house without money.

Paperless Mission #12: Collecting Student Work

This is the twelfth installment in my Go Paperless! Challenge Series. You can check out the other entries in the series here. Also be sure to link up with my Paperless Challenge Linky!

Mission #12: Collecting Student Work

Recently, I shared how I distribute student assignments through Dropbox. Today I’m going to share how students turn in those assignments. To do that, I primarily use Edmodo.

Once you’ve created an assignment in Edmodo, students will be able to see it as they log-in.

If it’s just a text-based assignment, they can type the text in the comment section and submit it.

Often, however, my assignments tend to require them to include an attachment of some sort. These can fall into a couple different categories.

Photos & Movies

The Edmodo app allows you to load photos directly from your camera roll as an attachment. Just select “Attach: File.”

Documents produced in other apps (e.g., Pages, Keynote, etc.)

This process has a couple extra steps, but it’s still easy to accomplish. First, students will need to load the item into their backpack. This is normally accomplished through the “Share and Print” option in the original app. For example, in Pages, you have the option to “Open in Another App.”

This will result in the file being added to the student’s Edmodo “backpack.” Once it’s there, students can attach it to an assignment by choosing “Attach: Backpack.”

Once the items are selected, students get to rate the assignment using the emoticons and click “Turn In Assignment.”

From my perspective, it’s a dream. I don’t have to worry about receiving “No Name” papers, and I can quickly grade and comment on student work that’s turned in.

Apprentice Guides

One of my back to school projects is to make step-by-step tutorials to help students (and teachers) with some of these iPad tasks. The first one is on Turning In Assignments from Pages to Edmodo and you can download a copy of it here.

I apologize that the image quality isn’t perfect — it lost something when I uploaded it to Google Drive for sharing, but it’s still very functional. (I’ll share higher-quality imaged versions later when I get more completed.)

What programs do you use to collect student work electronically in your classroom? I’d love to hear in the comments section.

My Trip to Batticaloa cont….

My trip to Batticaloa was one year in the making. In March and April of 2010 I was requested to do an Organization Capacity Assessment of a project which ran across 4 districts and to come up with scenarios for independent / sustainable operation. The Scenario that was selected was to restructure the project in to a single operating office in Batticaloa and to have a satellite operation in Trincomalee. It took nearly one year for the project to be restructured and to get a not for profit limited company registered. This is a rare occasion when the funders of the project seeing that the need is still there and that the services delivered through the project are still relevant wanting to develop a sustainable organization to continue to serve the public / target group. My experience in the past has been that most funders / donors say that they want sustainability but don’t put enough money and effort. “Hats off” to the funders of this project; they seem to have got it right.

This trip was to develop a 3 year Strategic Plan for the newly formed not for profit limited company. On my way to Batticaloa I took the routr through Habarana as the A 5 and the A 26 was under repair. On the way I encountered a wild elephant on the main road at around 2 PM. (See my earlier post for a photo of the Elephant) It is rare to see the elephants on the road during the day. However during the night I have come across them more frequently.

The assignment went as planned and now I have to develop the documentation (Strategic Plan and the Process Document). On my way back I took the A 5 and the A26. The authorities are developing these roads really well. These roads will be fantastic to drive on once completed. It is a scenic route.

The view from the A 26 Road

Raptr – Closing Down This September 30th, The Blog Here Says ‘Goodbye Old Friend’ To The Once-Useful Program


Just a notification that the ‘Graphic-Configurator, Game-Installer, Gameplay-Recorder and
Social Media client that tried to tie it all together’ – Raptr – will be no more, as of September 30th, 2017

A few days ago, I received an email stating that Raptr was ending the program/client which at one time was tied-in with AMD’s Graphic Drivers as “AMD Gaming Evolved”. Now that both NVIDIA and AMD have their own ‘game configuration utilities’ and ‘game recording capabilities’ (via Crimson for AMD and GeForce Experience for NVIDIA), “there is no need for such a separate utility”, as Raptr’s ‘Farewell Letter’ basically states:

“We are sad to announce that we will be closing Raptr on September 30th, 2017. We want to start by thanking you for your support over the past 10 years.

The world is different today than when we first launched Raptr. Many companies offer game optimization tools. Having an independent platform to do this is no longer necessary.

On September 30, we will start the process of shutting off access to your Raptr account and disabling features. If you’d like to export your tracked game play history, you can do so immediately using the instructions below:

  • Go to Raptr.com
  • Sign in to your Raptr account
  • Click to get your gameplay data

If you have any other questions, please send us feedback.

We are proud of the service we built and the community who helped grow Raptr.  Thank you, once again, for your support.

Dennis “Thresh” Fong
Co-founder and CEO”


Mr. Fong Qin, known worldwide as “‘Thresh’ Fong” for his 1990’s Quake and Doom tournament career, was also the co-founder of Xfire (which itself was acquired by Viacom in 2006). While the Raptr/Gaming Evolved client was useful, it seemed to have challenges from close to the start [or at least, noticeable in hindsight, from when I first started using it].

The Press Release – the notification that Raptr was closing down – as it looked on the Raptr website, September 2017
(Click to see Full Size)

At one time, Raptr offered Rewards for playing (and letting it track your Hours or Record your Gameplay); ‘Reward Points’ that you could collect, every time you Optimized a Game (let the utility auto-configure your in-game options/settings for you), or viewed/contributed to a game Forum (similar to Steam’s Game Forums [forii?]). You could also earn Raptr Reward Points just by playing a game and having it running (it gave a running total of your Hours Played).

The Raptr/Gaming Evolved Client, as it looked in 2014, showing the Reward Points collected at one time
(from the Gaming Evolved/Raptr Press Kit, Click to see Full Size)

Prizes to spend your Points on were Draws for, or outright purchases of, Full Games and game tie-in material, such as Character Costumes or Vehicles (Mounts). Just before it was taken away, I even saw some Computer Hardware in there (some dated GPUs mind you, but still, it was neat to see some computer parts you could earn ‘with time played’ only). I never did win a Draw for a Retail Game, but I heard from a couple of people who did. There were many, many upset users, who had been saving for years (literally), at the loss of the points system. Some noted at the time that perhaps it was an early bell, tolling for the end of Raptr, even then…

The Raptr/Gaming Evolved Client, as it looked in 2015, showing Plays.Tv in its ‘built-in’ Beta phase and Graphic Drivers being kept up-to-date [I owned an AMD/ATi GPU at the time], the client still showing Reward Points being tabulated, and the Twitch Broadcast implementation
(Click to see Full Size)

There was a Forum interface built-in to the Raptr client (directly-accessible within it) that was similar to Steam’s Game Forums [too similar?], where people could discuss games, talk about upcoming releases, and share Screenshots; but there wasn’t too much going on in them [that I could see, personally]. There were some helpful and contributive posts, but they were always few in number:

Example of Raptr/Gaming Evolved Game Forums, showing Guild Wars 2, circa 2016
(Click to see Full Size)

As ‘the end’ neared, the Forums became overrun slowly by Spammers and non-English posts talking about other websites (not that there’s anything wrong with speaking other languages, I know a bit of a handful of languages myself, but it was an English forum and much of these posts were clearly Spam of one sort or another). People started asking why things weren’t getting ‘cleaned up’, near the end.

The Raptr/Gaming Evolved Official Raptr Forum, shown in the client, displaying the number of users of the forum
(Click to see Full Size)

While many felt it was ‘just like Steam’ or ‘not needed’ even back then, it still boasted over 100 Million registered users at one point (as evidenced by the number of users within the main Raptr discussion group, above) – and it was even ‘targeted by hackers’ in 2015 – infiltrated in an attempt to gain access to the many users’ data and potentially personal information. A notice went out in January of that year, notifying users to change their password, as a result of the recent security breach:

Raptr Forum Notification, urging users to change their Passwords, after a recent security breach, circa January 2015
(Click to see Full Size)

Personally, I feel sorry that I couldn’t spend more time with Raptr/GamingEvolved, as I only discovered it a couple of years ago.. Over the entire time, my own illness prevented me from posting more, sharing Screenshots more, and talking more about Releases and Reviews [as it does here in this blog!]. I feel like it could have been ‘the next Steam with bonus game configuration’ perhaps – but alas, it simply had too many challenges going against it… People started asking for Chat interface (a la Skype) and Voice Chat, but the Voice part never came. People wanted a GVR (Game Video Recorder) and while that arrived, in the form of Plays.tv – first in the app itself and as a stand-alone utility – perhaps it was too late to save Raptr, as both NVIDIA then AMD, came out with their own ‘built-in’ gameplay recording capabilities about the same time. For example, in 2013, NVIDIA’s Shadowplay became part of their Settings Optimization client, GeForce Experience, which allowed high-performance gameplay recording. Eventually, AMD’s ReLive, part of their Crimson GPU Driver update, also allowed high-quality gameplay recording as well. Both of these essentially negated the game recording aspect of Raptr (Plays.tv, which continues onward today as its’ own stand-alone recorder):

Information Panel about Plays.TV, the gameplay recording utility that was once included with Raptr/Gaming Evolved
(Click to see Full Size)

Although many didn’t use Raptr, or even like it, there were those that used the client to at least keep track of their Hours Played, used it a light social-media app, or just enjoyed the semi-automated Graphic Configuration within. As a former user – that wished he used it more – I myself say a sad ‘Goodbye’ to Raptr. So long, old friend, I wish I got to know you better…

In Defense of Classroom Technology

Usually when I talk to people about the fact that I teach in a 1:1 iPad classroom, they think that’s awesome. But now and again, I’ll run into someone who thinks handing a kid an iPad in school is an atrocity, and I feel like I have to defend the work that I’m passionate about. This happened to me recently at a social event when my attempts at small talk quickly turned into a debate about what we’re “doing to kids today.” The naysayers certainly exist, and this particular encounter made me pause to think about why I feel so strongly about this topic.

Here are some of the reasons I feel it’s in the best interests of both students and teachers to maximize the use of classroom technology.

My students explore constellations on their iPads.

1. It teaches real-world problem solving skills.
Being good at technology is largely a result of being willing to experiment and fail. I wasn’t born knowing everything there is to know about iPads or Evernote or Edmodo — I’ve learned by trying different things and seeing what worked and what didn’t. When I can’t figure it out on my own, I talk to others or look for the information I need online. Now I get to see these skills in my students. Whenever they need to troubleshoot something, they work together to find a solution. They don’t give up or think it’s impossible. In this high-tech world, these skills are going to be incredibly valuable.

2. It facilitates better communication between home and school.
If parents want to know what we’re doing in class each day, they can find all of our homework and activities on our class website. If they want to monitor grades or see what assignments are missing, they can look on Edmodo. If they want to know what their child’s behavior was like at school today, they can look on ClassDojo and get a report. If they want to know what their child sounded like reading a 4th grade leveled text at the beginning of the year compared to now at the end of the year, I can pull up the child’s audio recordings on Evernote. Technology makes it easier for parents to know what’s happening in school, and I’m happy about that.

3. It makes students better writers.
Without question, writing skills are incredibly important. When I think back on all of the essays I had to write in high school and college or the cover letters I wrote to get opportunities I have today, I know that my ability to write mattered. Technology makes students better writers for a variety of reasons:

  • It makes them more open to revising and publishing their work when they don’t have to handwrite the whole paper over again.
  • It teaches them typing skills that will make them more efficient at writing and therefore able to write more. 
  • It gives me more opportunities to give them feedback about their writing because I can easily collect samples at various points. I can have them turn in a copy of a draft wherever they’re at without interrupting their work because I don’t have to collect a notebook. 
4. It keeps kids engaged.
I used to have students write book reports. Now I have them write book blogs on KidBlog and make book trailers using iMovie. It’s basically the same assignment, but now students are motivated and engaged to complete it. They have an audience of their peers that makes their work more authentic, and it’s something that can’t be easily replicated without technology. The effort and outcomes my students experience because of technology is something that should be encouraged.

5. It benefits all types of learners.
I think a lot of the criticisms of technology assume that students are being passive consumers of it — watching videos or playing video games all of the time. Without question, technology could be used as a high-tech babysitter, but that’s not how it’s being used in my classroom at all. When my students use their iPads, they are active and interactive, and they’re expressing their creativity in so many ways now. They’re making movies, writing stories and articles, becoming budding photographers, and interacting with the world and each other in new and exciting ways.  They’re still collaborating and developing the interactive social skills necessary to be productive citizens of society.

6. It keeps everyone more organized.
I can’t begin to describe how many minutes I’ve lost over the last 6 years because students couldn’t find a paper or a notebook. Then once it was turned in, I’d have to shuffle through piles of nearly 30 to find what I was looking for. Add to that the fact that students work at different rates and finish tasks at different times, and you have the potential for an organizational nightmare.

I’m a pretty organized person, but without any hesitation I can say that technology has made my students and me substantially more organized. Everything we need can be found on an iPad or a computer. There isn’t instructional time lost finding materials or planning time lost figuring out where I filed that lesson idea or who is missing work. It’s all in one spot.

7. It allows me to give better feedback.
My students recently took a multiple choice test on Edmodo. I’d entered the correct answers before giving the test, so when I went to look at the results, it was already graded for me. Rather than spending time rifling through a pile of papers to mark answers right or wrong, I was able to type specific feedback to the students. For example, when several students missed question #6, I typed 2 sentences explaining the problem with the answer choice they selected and why the other choice was better. With the help of copy and paste, I was able to give that feedback to all applicable students in less than 5 minutes. How often do you think I could accomplish that in a world where I had to handwrite the comment 15+ times? It wouldn’t happen. I wish it could, but it’s not feasible.

8. It gives me more information so I can help students.
I routinely ask my students to solve math problems and explain their thinking. Sometimes they have to explain it in words and sentences, but other times I let them use their iPads to make short (30-60 second) videos narrating their solutions and the steps they took. Similarly, when I do reading assessments with students, I can use my iPad to record the student’s voice as the student reads. This creates an artifact that I can listen to, share with parents or RTI committees, and analyze in a way that wouldn’t be possible absent technology. It’s some of the best evidence of a student’s ability, and it helps me identify strengths and weaknesses so I can give students the support they need.

9. It makes me more efficient.
Anyone who’s a teacher can attest that this job sometimes borders on impossible. Teachers take on so many roles and have so many responsibilities that the stress can be overwhelming. I think that’s a major factor in why so many great teachers leave this profession within the first few years and why many capable individuals are deterred from entering the field. In my experience, technology has made this all more bearable. I don’t have to waste time shuffling through paper or hunting for files anymore. I don’t have to haul carts — literally carts — of student work and planning materials home anymore. I can find exactly what I need wherever I’m at because everything is electronic. It’s made me much more productive and efficient, and everyone benefits as a result.

10. It’s appropriate for the world we live in.
I know a lot of people lament the fact that we’ve moved into an age of technology. I’m not one of them, but even if I were, I recognize that there’s no going back now. I’d rather introduce students to technology in safe, structured ways where I can guide them through the perils and pitfalls than leave them to struggle on their own. I also like that I can show them how to make technology work effectively for them. I’m facilitating students to be productive, creative, and responsible users of technology, and I’m not confident they’d all get there on their own.

It’s not technology that’s an issue — it’s how the technology is being used. I’m certain that the ways my fourth graders use their iPads will make them better informed, more capable citizens down the road. Is it the only way to teach them? Absolutely not, but the advantages of using technology in the classroom far outweigh any disadvantages the devices bring.

What are the arguments for or against using technology in the classroom that you’ve heard? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Speedrun – Hitman: Blood Money – A Vintage Year (Silent Assassin, Pro Difficulty, Suit Only, Targets Only, “No Coins”)

Messing around trying another Speedrun, this time booting up some good’ol Hitman: Blood Money, “A Vintage Year” level.

Hitman is a wonderfully crafted, enjoyable game. In my opinion, every single installment in this series has been. People have enjoyed the ‘puzzle-play’ aspects of it, people have enjoyed the gunplay, the stealth. Players have also enjoyed trying to run as-fast-as-they-can through levels that were probably not designed with this intention. Now, Hitman: Blood Money may not win any awards for “realism” in some areas of gameplay, but I personally have something against the concept that an Assassin, wearing a nice suit, most likely a millionaire, is carrying around twenty dollars in pocket change. Heck, I am sometimes annoyed at the jingle in my own pocket of a couple of quarters when I come across them. Thus, my personal aim with this level: to do a Suit-Only, Targets-Only, Silent Assassin, ‘No Coins’ Speedrun (on Professional Difficulty). I am probably not the fastest at this sort of thing, I have only done a couple of intentional Speedruns in the past; but it was still fun to make and I figured it was ‘decently fast’, so I wanted to share. Enjoy!

Recorded game:  Hitman-Blood Money, First/Third Person Shooter/Stealth/Action
Recorded with:  Bandicam (Registered Version) @ 1080p
Recording codec:  MPEG-1 @ 80% Quality (Default Setting), 30fps

This was actually not as hard as I thought it would be – after finding out that Delgado.Sr is snipe-able up out on his balcony. It was his Son that gave me trouble (as it seems to do with everyone, after a few forum finds on the subject). I started just pushing him down the stairs and also setting up the Barrels to fall on him; but eventually I settled on just a good-old-fashioned-assassin-stand-by: the single bullet to the head. This felt ‘right’, after sniping dear-ol’Dad, anyway. Instead of pushing the Guards at the bottom into the water, I just walked non-chalantly by them, as they didn’t seem to care anyway.
[On the actual Playthrough, I seem to get some guards’ attention, but I assumed this was for going into the areas I wasn’t supposed to, not for being witnessed killing anyone]

I also wanted to do things like ‘leave nothing behind’, such as ‘just dropping weapons’ (like the Sniper Rifle) to save time. This sort of stems from the multitude-of-coins thing… Don’t get me wrong by the way, I appreciate the time so many have taken to figure out their own ways to complete Hitman levels by using distractions. I just for some reason [OCD?lol] find it hard to extend my fantasy thinking within the game ‘that far’ – to where a so-called Silent-Assassin-slash-Hitman is always carrying around and actually utilizes enough laundry money to make the homeless cry on every mission. [I didn’t actually mean to rant here, hah] I just think if an assassin wanted to throw anything around to distract guards, it could more realistically at least be a found weapon of some sort, as opposed to a ton of coinage everywhere (pebbles could even make more sense).

At any rate, whether you use coins (a mechanic that is indeed offered directly within the game) or you don’t, there you have it; not the fastest run [or the most ‘Silent’ lol], but hopefully an enjoyable little watch, nonetheless.

See you in the games!

The weight question

‘Those desiring to lose weight should perform hard work before food. They should take their meals after exertion and while still panting from fatigue … They should, moreover, eat only once a day and take no baths and sleep on a hard bed and walk naked as long as possible.’

Theories on the weight-loss benefits of walking around naked and not bathing have not been proven, but Hippocrates’ other dietary advice isn’t completely off the wall and shows that even 2,400 years ago, the relationship between food intake and energy expenditure was recognized.

Diet Start

Today ‘obesity’ is becoming universally recognized as a disease in its own right. Obese and overweight are terms that are often used interchangeably, but let’s clarify the difference between them:

¨ Overweight refers to an excess of body weight and includes all tissues, such as fat, bone and muscle, but not just excess body fat.

¨ Obese means that someone is carrying an excessively high proportion of body fat that could compromise their health.

If you are an athlete or body-builder, you may weigh more than the desirable weight range for your height, but this is normal because muscle weighs more than fat. Equally, you may be a relatively sedentary person who weighs in at the correct weight for your height, but who still carries too high a proportion of body fat. In this case, a good exercise programme is vital.

For those of you who feel that you are more ‘lard’ than ‘hard’, and don’t like what you are seeing on the scales, a better way of calculating just how overweight you are is by working out your Body Mass Index (BMI).

You can tell if you have surplus body fat simply by seeing if you can pinch more than 2.5cm (1 in) on your hips, tummy, underarms and back.

Alternatively, get your doctor or gym instructor to check out your BMI using callipers, or buy a set yourself from your local pharmacy. If you have more than 25 per cent body fat, then the chances are that you are carrying too much weight, or at the very least need to change your diet and participate in exercise that will burn fat and build muscle.

Successful weight loss and healthy weight management depend on sensible goals and expectations – losing just 5-10 per cent of your weight is the kind of goal that can help improve your health.

You may be wondering how you have got this far without hearing about calories. But you don’t need to become obsessed with the calorific value of everything you put in your mouth. Instead, it is much better to check food labels to see if the food contains unnecessary additives, sugar, hydrogenated fats and salt – and, of course, how high the carbohydrate content is.

Cellulite Breakdown and Essential Detoxification part 1

Waist Disposal

`Excess fat is nothing less than a poison depot in an over-acid organism.’ These words were uttered half a century ago by Danish physician Kristine Nolfi — an expert in healing the body through diet. They lie at the core of the cellulite phenomenon. One of your body’s most effective ecological mechanisms for protecting itself from excessive poisons taken in through food, air and water or produced from within as a by-product of metabolism is to lock these toxic materials into fat cells. In the case of cellulite this natural protective mechanism goes one stage further — encasing these wastes in the interstitial fluids and ground substance by binding them within hardened connective tissue. There they sit year after year producing jodhpur thighs.

Diet Start

Personal Energy Crisis

This whole self-protective process is perfectly normal and, all in all, functions rather well, except for two things. First, in the presence of a high level of female hormones it tends to turn intocellulite. Second, it tends to deplete your energy — not only on a cellular level so metabolic processes don’t function in an optimal way but overall so you are prone to fatigue and need stimulants such as coffee to get you going and to keep you going. For in any body which has a high level of waste stored in its cells, much of the available energy is channelled into trying to cope with these wastes instead of being used to keep metabolic processes functioning at a high level of efficiency. In broad terms you sense a lack of overall vitality and over the years develop a tendency to become chronically tired — sometimes so much so that it can even become very difficult to make the effort to help yourself. To shed cellulite you need first to help your body detoxify itself and eliminate the pockets of static tissues where, like stagnant ponds in a meadow, toxicity has been allowed to accumulate.

A lot has been written in recent years about detoxification. Some of it can sound quite mystifying. But the whole process is really quite simple. The reason you have built up these pockets of wastes is simply that your body is continually having to cope with more poisons than it can eliminate in the normal day- to-day course of events. Remove some of the burden of what is creating this excess toxicity in your system by laying aside coffee, alcohol and over-processed foods complete with chemical additives for a time, and you are halfway there. Add to that a very simple and temporary regime designed to trigger rapid detoxification, some movement and some external help, and quite naturally you trigger your body’s own mechanisms for clearing out the junk. This is the first step in the Cellulite Revolution. There are lots of ways you can do it but the simplest of all to begin with is to go on a two-or-three-day applefast.

Applemagic

The apple has long been valued as health tonic, medicine, cosmetic and bowel-regulator all in one. Apples are low in acidity to help balance stored bodily wastes which tend to be acidic. They stimulate the flow of saliva in the mouth and clear away debris from the teeth. Eating raw fresh apples stimulates circulation in the gums too. In folk medicine the apple was traditionally used for eliminating obesity (in part no doubt because of its detoxifying ability) as well as for the treatment of skin problems, bladder inflammation, anaemia, insomnia, intestinal parasites and even bad breath. In recent years we have come to appreciate the kind of fibre apples contain. In addition to cellulose (the most common variety of fibre such as that in bran which binds water and increases faecal bulk), apples are also rich in pectin — a special form of fibre with exceptional detoxification properties. Unlike cellulose, pectin does not bind water. It is water-soluble. Pectin has no influence on faecal bulking, but it can be an excellent substance to help lower cholesterol and for eliminating bile acids from the intestines. Also, and in many ways most important of all for keeping cellulite away, pectin is a natural chelating agent for binding dangerous heavy metals in the body such as aluminium, cadmium, mercury and lead, and eliminating them.

Hitman: Absolution – First Impressions and Screenshots

I finally picked up the latest iteration of the Hitman Series, Hitman: Absolution, starring Agent 47 as the main anti-hero, id est killing the bad guys but never quite [arguably] becoming one of them. Differing from the last couple of Hitman publications, Absolution has an overarching story, connections being made in a chronological manner throughout the various stages and settings. Characters are introduced and developed via cutscenes, as the plot is pushed further by your completing the next mission for a feeling of engagement in the storyline.

I personally liked this approach, as opposed to the last couple of Hitman games, which seemed like mostly ‘replays’ of old missions from previous games (which in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing). While there were similar settings, such as a Chinese Market Square, they were sufficiently changed enough – especially with the graphical improvements and new gameplay interface – to seem varied enough to be enjoyable. There were even updated versions of [personal] ‘old favorites’ that I waited excitedly for (such as a ‘Hotel’ stage). Slightly more varied than the old versions, if you include the new “Instinct” game mechanic, these levels felt ‘fresh’, even if they weren’t new.

The “Instinct” game mechanic seems like an effort to simplify the game, making it easier for newcomers and those who had trouble with the complexity and scope of the previous Hitman games. Indeed, I remember reading a lot over the years of people saying the Hitman games were “too big” or “too complex” and that it didn’t help the player much at all, as far as where to go and what to do. It “plopped you down in a large area with just a map”, they felt. Of course, that was the draw for all of the other people, the complexity and seeming openness of the game was enjoyed, where you had to figure out everything yourself. You could decide what to skip and what to do and could decide for yourself how to do it. The new “Instinct” mechanic of Absolution doesn’t take too much away from this (you can turn it ‘off’ if desired) and it actually adds to the cinematic feel of the game by taking the ‘player out of playing’, so to speak, which results in more of a feeling that you are ‘playing Agent 47’, guiding him (and using his innate abilities) through the game, as opposed to ‘actually being Agent 47’ and figuring everything out yourself heavy-handedly. I suspect this more objective approach has already been a point of contention since the game was released.

An example of Hitman: Absolution’s new ‘Hitman Instinct’ game mechanic, showing how Agent47 can ‘sense’ enemies in and around the nearby area and estimates where they may be heading.

When utilizing Agent 47’s ‘Instinct’, the game shows where 47 ‘senses’ there are enemies and where they are and shows you on the screen with outlined shapes. It even shows where 47 ‘calculates’ enemies will be moving to, showing you their intended path with a line of flame and where they will stand still with a larger lick of fire. This is where the adrenalin-dipped decision making and primal ‘danger’ awareness kicks in during the game, as a player can choose to set up an engagement with an enemy, or stealthily avoid these paths and points.

For those who do not like or want the new game mechanic at all, it can be turned off, mainly by choosing a higher difficulty level. There are five to choose from and higher difficulties result in more ‘sensitive’ or ‘aware’ enemies, tougher enemies (wearing more body armor one assumes) and more of them. For those who are new to the game or having trouble with it, the difficulty can be lowered as well, with less enemies, enemies with less skill (not as good at aiming) and less awareness (having a bit more ‘tunnel-vision’) allowing you to sneak around them easier. The option to have this game mechanic off or on, at the players choice, is nice and was no doubt included to appease those who would not like it’s hints and guidance. New players (those talking about the games’ difficulty in the past) can have it on and still enjoy the action and storyline as well. It feels like an ‘attempt to please everybody’ – and I assume it will work well in that regard. (I haven’t read any Reviews of the game (to avoid exposure to the material within) before I purchased it, but I assume that once I indulge in others’ opinions, I will see much disagreement on that last sentence).

View of a hotel cleaning supply room from an air ventilation shaft. Click to see Full Size

The game itself felt atmospheric and cinematic. The music changed as action waxed and waned. Enemies ignored or chased you around winding levels that you had to discover and remember. The graphics were spectacular, with detailed textures, dark and gritty lighting and shading. The core Hitman gameplay was there – even if it wasn’t there for very long. This game felt very short to me. Perhaps it was the somewhat simple Television Movie Special plot, perhaps it was the number of missions (although they were split up into sections). Perhaps it was merely enjoying it so much that I wanted more, but just during the course of writing this article off and on, I have completed the game in it’s storyline entirety (not counting Challenges and Item Collection) in just over 20 hours. That doesn’t seem very long, but I suppose it is to be expected in a game that is more like “Max Payne” and less like “Skyrim” (more Action and less RPG). You could keep playing after finishing the main story, select past levels and retry them, doing them ‘cleaner’ for a better score or achievement, or look around and discover new weapons and pathways, or just redo any level you wanted to for fun.

An example of how the levels are split up into sections and how you can select past levels to replay them.
An example of the updated game engine, with higher-detailed character models, textures and environments.
Click to see Full Size

Other than the copy-pasted ‘general population’ mannequin-people utilized in larger crowds (used understandably to keep memory/resource usage of the game down of course – all of the ‘main’ NPCs have good detail to them), I personally liked the attention  paid to smaller details, such as the amount of debris scattered around the levels – things like cups, papers and garbage, all part of the gritty ‘lived-in-ness’ of the environment, adding to the realism. It’s nice to see games that pay more attention to the surroundings/settings these days, as opposed to the stark, clean-floor environments in games of yesteryear.

Overall, Hitman: Absolution was very enjoyable. It was great fun to figure out steps and schemes for the various areas and carry them out with cold calculation. I laughed out loud a few times and grit my teeth in anger at the more difficult parts, playing them over and over again, trying to figure out new ways to accomplish the objectives and complete the contracts. Despite feeling shorter (perhaps just because it was so enjoyable) and despite some changes that others might not entirely like, I still suggest trying it (especially if you are a fan of the previous games in the Hitman series). I personally had a lot of fun with the game – and isn’t that the most important thing?

Have fun with Absolution and See You In The Games!

The Sims 2 “Ultimate Collection” (Absolutely Everything) – Completely Free from EA

When I first read about this from EA, that is, the possibility of getting absolutely every single expansion and “Stuff” add-ons completely free, I thought there must be some mistake… A little bit of reading at the EA website and I inferred from the phrasing that it was initially going to be offered as a free upgrade to current owners of The Sims 2 (Digital/Download or Disc-based versions); but I did a little more reading about it today and it seems that EA may be ‘planning on putting it “in everyone’s game list” eventually’… [in my opinion] most likely to arouse just-a-little-more interest in The Sims franchise for the upcoming “The Sims 4” release (now available for pre-order, slated to be released in September 2014).

Therefore, now feeling fully-okay-mostly safe from the dark shadows of ‘releasing something that wasn’t meant to be distributed’, I share with you the Product Code that will allow you to be the proud owner of “The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection”, which includes all of the below:

  • The Sims 2
  • The Sims 2: University Expansion
  • The Sims 2: Nightlife Expansion
  • The Sims 2: Open for Business Expansion
  • The Sims 2: Pets Expansion
  • The Sims 2: Seasons Expansion
  • The Sims 2: Bon Voyage Expansion
  • The Sims 2: FreeTime Expansion
  • The Sims 2: Apartment Life Expansion
  • The Sims 2: Family Fun Stuff
  • The Sims 2: Glamour Life Stuff
  • The Sims 2: Happy Holiday Stuff
  • The Sims 2: Celebration! Stuff
  • The Sims 2: H&M Fashion Stuff
  • The Sims 2: Teen Style Stuff
  • The Sims 2: Kitchen & Bath Interior Design Stuff
  • The Sims 2: IKEA Home Stuff
  • The Sims 2: Mansion & Garden Stuff

Wow, thanks EA!

Note: this package release may be time-limited and EA has stated that they will no longer be updating The Sims 2 or it’s expansions, although they can still be contacted if you are having technical problems running the game

Here are the steps to redeem the free Activation/Product Code:

  1. If you don’t already have it installed on your system, download and install the Origin game client from EA [it is similar to Steam and other game management interfaces] from http://origin.com/download
  2. Create an Origin account if you don’t already have one at https://connect.origin.com/create and log into the Origin client
  3. In the pull-down menus at the top of the Origin interface, click on “Origin” and then “Redeem Product Code…”
  4. In the white box [field] under Product Code, enter this:
    I-LOVE-THE-SIMS
    [hyphens may not be needed]
  5. You should then see a message that the activation was successful and you are the newest owner of  [oops, I forgot what year I’m in, I mean a temporally licensed user of]  The Sims 2, along with all possible Expansion Packs and Add-Ons
  6. Select the game in your My Games list in the Origin Client and install it by clicking the Download button that pops up [and if you’re like me, click OK to the Insufficient Disk Space message]
  7. That’s it! 

Enjoy playing The Sims 2 once again, experiencing all that this version could possibly offer.

Have fun with it and See You In The Games!

Hello, 2015!

Another year is in the books, and as always, I’m excited to be seeing the start of a new year. Last year will be remembered for its big highs and deep lows, but I know that everything happens for a reason, and I feel like I’m in a good place to start 2015.

And one place I plan to start is being a better blogger! So here’s my Currently post for January 2015.

Listening – It’s my daughter’s bedtime here, and my husband has bedtime duty tonight. It’s a rare moment when the TV is off, the dogs are asleep, and all is quiet in the house. I’m savoring it.

Loving – I think that New Year’s Day may be my favorite day of the year because it is a fresh start where it feels like anything is possible. I often feel this way at the beginning of the school year, too, but I think I prefer this time of year because there’s more predictability with everything. I already know my students very well; we’ve built our routines and expectations, and the only things that need to be changed are the things I *want* to change. It’s an empowering holiday.

Thinking – A major reason why I haven’t been blogging much lately is because of my Ph.D. program. It feels weird to be writing something that doesn’t have a lengthy bibliography attached to it! I continue to be excited about my dissertation topic, though, and I’ve been thinking about it more and more. I plan to write about the role of social media in teacher professional learning. The short version is that I’m going to study how reading and writing about classroom practices through blogging affects teachers’ feelings of effectiveness in the classroom (self-efficacy beliefs). I think connecting with other teachers through blogging and other social media has been one of the best moves I’ve ever made as a teacher, and I’m curious to find out if others feel the same way and what consequences it might have. One of my classes this semester is actually requiring me to blog about my research, so I’ll be setting that up in the next week. It will be a separate blog as I doubt my classmates in other programs will really want to read about Eberopolis, but I’ll share a link here if you’re interested in following or learning more.

Wanting – I had 18 blog posts in 2014. Pathetic. I have a notebook full of ideas, so now I need to get them out here. My goal is to blog at least once a week, and as I’ve been getting other things in my life better organized, I think that’s realistic.

Needing – I set some big goals for this vacation as far as getting myself organized for the new year, and so far, I’ve done a great job. For example, I already have 2 months of healthy meals planned for my family (written on sticky notes so I can shuffle them around when stuff inevitably comes up).

And I’ve been cleaning closets and creating a new workspace to boost my productivity in the new year. I even made my annual pilgrimage to The Container Store today! I just need to wrap up my remaining projects tomorrow so I can enjoy my weekend before returning to school on Monday. (I’m @eberopolis on Instagram if you want to see more about those projects…). 
Finally, my three areas:
YES to my health. I lost nearly 20 pounds between Labor Day and Christmas, and while my trip to see my family for the holidays reversed that trend a little, I’d like to continue to focus on my health in 2015. I’ve been doing Weight Watchers, and losing weight has been easy when I’ve taken the time to plan what I’m going to eat and track what I eat throughout the day. I’m ready to get back on track.
Maybe to becoming a morning person. I already get to work by 7:15 each morning, but I would hardly call myself a morning person. I read The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod over break, and it has me thinking about whether I should try to get up earlier to add things like meditation and exercise to my morning routines. I’m thinking I’ll try it for a month and see how it goes. (The book was good, btw. An easy read to be sure). 
I wish…I love my job–I really do–but I’m starting to feel like it’s time for me to tackle a new challenge. I want to be able to work with other teachers to help them troubleshoot issues in their classrooms, improve their teaching, and use technology more effectively. I purposefully chose to go into an Educational Leadership PhD program for that reason; ultimately I want to teach in higher ed and/or become an administrator. I’m not ready to do all of that yet, but I wish that I could find an instructional coaching position or something similar that would let me work more directly with teachers while I keep working on my program. It might be time to start that hunt this year. 
Okay, I promise I will be back soon…I have a couple of other posts in draft mode almost ready to share about some of the new things I’ve been doing in my classroom this year. Hopefully you’ll FLIP when you read them! 😉
Happy new year!

WORKOUT ANYTIME on WYFF Greenville

WORKOUT ANYTIME on WYFF Greenville

Jennifer Young and Laura Stokes of WORKOUT ANYTIME Easley were recently featured on two segments on WYFF Greenville. The segments focus on easy holiday workout tips, and Jennifer and Laura do a fantastic job talking about the different services and facilities offered at WORKOUT ANYTIME
View the segments here and here. 

Chronic Illnesses and Diet part 3

Visualization and Chronic Disease

To the ten steps of the Body Clock Prescription, I’d suggest adding visualization, another powerful tool for controlling chronic disease. Life consists of moving forward into images. You get to the dry cleaners to pick up your laundry by making a mental picture of the journey and moving forward into that picture. No picture, no laundry. With visualization, you are going to create an inner picture in order to realize your intention, not just in the outside world of the dry cleaner but in the inside world of your immune system.

The first step is to get the knack of meditation so that your mind and body are in a receptive posture for visualization. Let’s assume that you’ve learned to enter a meditative state; riding on the letter M, your mind can enter a new space within your consciousness. From here, you can take one step forward into your imagination and make a picture of what you want to accomplish in your body.

The effectiveness of this approach was initially proven in an experiment conducted with doctors suffering from terminal or advanced cancer. They were shown accurate images of their own cancer cells and of their immune system cells and were asked to create a realistic visualization of the immune system cells attacking the cancer cells. Most of the doctors successfully curbed their cancer — not to the extent of actually curing it, but in most cases there was measurable improvement. Since then, numerous experiments have shown that a less accurate image of the enemy is just as effective.2

Diet Start

About twenty years ago I used to meet one evening every month with a group of other doctors, including Dr. Bernie Siegel, one of the pioneers of visualization. Bernie shared fascinating examples of the kinds of imagery cancer patients chose to promote healing of their illnesses. It seemed important that the image be accurate in its intent; it was disconcerting when patients chose wimpy defensive images that were the imaginary equivalent of trying to beat their cancer with a wet noodle. People who chose aggressive images did better; lions, tigers, sharks, polar bears and knights in shining armor do better work than a little girl gathering up cancer cells into snowballs and throwing them over the fence.

But what’s a good image if you have chronic inflammatory disease? In this case, redness, heat, swelling and pain afflict some part of your body as it reacts to an enemy that the doctor hasn’t been able to discover or that has disappeared from the scene of the crime, leaving your immune system in a perpetual dither. You need a picture that is soothing but not self-defeating by way of quieting your immune reactions to the point of defenselessness. This is where a chemical or an abstract image may be more appropriate. By chemical image, I mean something along the lines of `Let’s put out the fire’. Remember that inflammation is an expression of your body’s fire burning out of control. Whether it is in the skin, the digestive tract, the lungs, the heart, the nose or the eyes or, for that matter, whether or not it is producing palpable heat, some kind of uncontrolled fire is at the bottom of a lot of chronic illness. Parkinson’s disease, for example, has been characterized as a fire in the brain. And the oxidative damage in the chemistry of autistic children constitutes a kind of fiery injury to their RNA and DNA.

If you are going to employ visual imagery to quench the fire, then why not use pictures that are more effective than merely aiming a fire hose or throwing ice water at it? Instead, try mobilizing your body’s powerful natural resources for quenching the inflammation, calling on your body’s clouds to release rainwater on the brush fires of the prairie where the inflammation resides. This could be your intestine if you have colitis, your joints if you have arthritis, your skin if you have dermatitis, your lungs if you have bronchitis and so on. You can even get technical and make your raindrops into vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and other potent antioxidants. Communication between your meditating-visualizing brain and the resources of your body is more dynamic and more specific then you know.

When Bernie Siegel began talking about people’s responsibility for their own health and healing in the face of serious illnesses such as cancer, people accused him of ‘blaming the victim’ by placing an unreasonable burden of guilt on the sick person. But you can’t really take control of your health without believing that your health is to some extent under your control. Even a person who has been a victim of some catastrophic accident must believe that he or she can exercise control over healing, to at least a small but critical degree, through the expression of intention in prayer or visualization or by the exercise of sheer willpower.

For people with chronic illness, the lines of causation are more ambiguous than they are in an accident. However irrational it may be, all of us feel guilt for things that happen, like the ill-timed flareup of cold sores just before an important public appearance. Feeling guilty won’t get you anywhere, but feeling responsible is the key to taking charge. If you feel like you’re the passive victim of the event, you may miss a chance to engage your body’s resources for healing. Only by feeling that you can take responsibility for your own health will you be able to make the changes that are necessary for regaining that health in the face of chronic illness.

Workout Anytime on WBIR-Knoxville Afternoon Show

WORKOUT ANYTIME on WBIR-Knoxville Afternoon Show. Every Thursday WBIR has a healthy living segment that is sponsored by the Governor and April Nitzsche was the guest for this week on their show. April spoke about how viewers can be healthy throughout the day when they have a few minutes to spare to stay in shape in 2014. April talked about how to live healthy, and offer tips to viewers.  You also can view the video here.

‘Setting Of The Month’: Bandicam’s Xvid Implementation (with Screenshots and Quality Analysis)

As the First Post of a new type of article here at The Game Tips And More Blog
[started due to popular demand!], I would like to explain a bit about my ‘Setting Of The Month’:
What is meant by “Of The Month” (at least at this blog), is less ‘lunar syzygy’ and more ‘what is currently being served’, in concept. Every once in a while I will post what Recording Settings or Rendering Settings I am currently using. I want to begin doing these posts in response to two things:

  • It was requested by you readers! Over the first half of the year, I run a Poll here at the Blog (it is located on the top right panel area) and currently, the single most popular Requested Topic For Future Posts is “Tips and Tricks of Video Capturing and Editing”. Therefore, as part of answering that call ‘by popular demand’, by my respected readers, I want to share as a ‘Tip’ what settings I have been using of late to capture – not to tell you ‘what to use’, but to simply give everyone a suggestion – perhaps even a place to start from, when recording or editing their gameplay adventures.
  • I see ‘settings’ asked about a lot, everywhere. Whether it is in game forums, technical forums, video editing and recording application forums, or even in my Inbox once in a while, people are constantly asking what settings to use, or “what settings do you use” – and that’s great! I’m glad to see helpful replies of others (and sometimes short explanations on how someone is using a specific setting and why). As anyone who has asked me directly knows, I enjoy helping others with suggestions on settings and usually try to explain why I am using one setting over another.
And so, here is the first edition of a new addition to this blog, without further adieu:

 

This Month’s Featured Setting

Bandicam’s Xvid Codec

For the past little while, I have been messing with the Xvid codec – not the ‘official’ one from XviD.org that you have to download – the one that is built-in to Bandicam, easily available via pull-down menu in the Format area, where you choose which codec you want to record with. As of the most recent version of Bandicam [at the time of this post], Xvid is now the Default Codec that is pre-selected, when you install/startup Bandicam. Where in previous versions, a ‘Bandisoft-optimized’ MPEG-1 codec was the Default, now a ‘Bandisoft-optimized’ version of Xvid is thrust into the limelight – and I wanted to test this puppy out and see what tricks it can do!

If you’ve were computing through the 1990’s, you may have heard about the Xvid codec. A competitor to the DivX codec around the turn of the millennium, I am actually going to skip over the history of the Xvid codec [other than this one paragraph]. Parts of such history may actually be a ‘dark affair’ (depending on who you talk to), worthy of it’s own short documentary, as the DivX vs XviD history has some aspects in common to the history of other products and companies that were popular over time [with Saturday Night Television Specials such as “Apple vs Microsoft”, “Xerox vs Apple” and more..]. As with many companies and products in popular use today, they all have “Origin Stories” that you won’t find on The Internet and never will… And Now, Back To Your Regularly Scheduled Program

The Xvid codec is a version of MPEG-4 (it is MPEG-4 Part 2 or “H.263/ASP”), so it is directly related to it’s younger-but-bigger brother, AVC (which is MPEG-4 Part 10 or “H.264/AVC”). As such, Xvid [ASP] does not have many of the functions that are found in H.264 [AVC], such as Deblocking, where the codec will try to ‘hide’ some compression artifacts that occur due to over-compression; but Xvid is still a great codec to record with, it’s main strength being speed. Because it doesn’t have many of the processing functions of it’s more recent and bulkier MPEG-4 versions, it can ‘figure out a frame and save it to a file’ very quickly – which is essentially what is happening, technically, when game recording.

Recording with Bandicam’s Default settings for their implementation of Xvid [designated herein as “Xvid(b)”**, to show that it is the “Bandicam-Optimized Version of Xvid”] will give you a Quality Setting of 80%. The capturing framerate, by Default, is set at 30 fps (Frames-Per-Second). The audio format, in this Default setting, is compressed “MPEG-1 Layer 2” format (MP2) for the Audio. Here is a screenshot showing what all of Bandicam’s Default settings, for their implementation of Xvid, looks like in one image:

The ‘Setting Of The Month’: Bandicam’s Version of Xvid, included with Bandicam (Default Settings)
Click to see Full Size

Below, are a sampling of a handful of games and the framerate performance hits that were seen while recording with these Default Xvid(b) settings (i.e. the differences between ‘playing the game and not recording’ versus ‘playing the game and recording at the same time’):
table.tableizer-table { border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif font-size: 12px; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }

Recorded Game Title                     Resolution      Performance Hit (Δ)
Hitman: Absolution Benchmark 1366×768 ~ 2 fps
Hitman: Absolution Benchmark 2560×1440 ~ 4 fps
FurMark (Full Run) 1366×768 ~ 2 fps
FurMark (Full Run) 2560×1440 ~ 0 fps
Unigine Valley Benchmark 1366×768 ~ 6 fps
Unigine Valley Benchmark 2560×1440
Batman: Arkham City Benchmark 1366×768 ~ 4 fps
Batman: Arkham City Benchmark 2560×1440 ~ 9 fps
Skyrim (Introduction) 1366×768 ~ 0-8 fps
Skyrim (Introduction) 2560×1440
Minecraft 1366×768 ~ 0 fps
Minecraft 2560×1440 ~ 0 fps

table code created by Danny Sanchez (journalistopia.com)

As you can see in the table above, the difference in framerate between ‘Playing’ and ‘Playing While Recording’ is very minimal [the performance ‘drain’ being accentuated in higher resolutions for most games]. Although only a handful of games were tested, I did try testing both spectra of resolutions possibly in use by the average gamer today, by recording with an ‘enthusiast’ resolution (2K/1440p) as well as a commonly-run laptop/notebook resolution (1366×768) which could also be run by older or less-capable systems. Bandicam’s optimized Xvid performs very well in the tests, with almost as low of a performance change as the ‘super-light-performance-hitting’ MJPEG codec.

Like MJPEG however, Xvid’s weakness is the lack of tools to compensate for compression. Again, I mention here the MPEG-4/AVC ability to somewhat ‘hide’ compression artifacts, with code for utilities such as “Deblocking” built into the codec, where the edges of areas that the codec is making its calculations in are ‘softened’, so that the ‘blocky’ effect of high compression (called Macroblocking) is less visible. In Xvid, there is no such utility, so if too high a compression level is attempted [too low a bitrate is stipulated], then these ‘block’ artifacts can easily be seen, especially in ‘flatter’ areas of a frame (portions of the screen with less color and/or changes happening), as seen in the below frames, extractions from the actual recorded video frames themselves:

[In the examples below, when the compression artifacts aren’t as obvious, I will show the entire screenshot in compressed JPG format, then underneath I ‘zoom in’ to show the compression artifacts from the codec as magnified extractions from the original video frames, in BMP (BitMaP) format. I use sampled areas for that, as full 1440p Screenshots in an uncompressed format would be over 10MB each]

Xvid(b)** at 90% Quality [altered from Default 80% Quality Setting], Battlefield 3.
Click to see Full Size
The result when recording at 90% Quality (up from the Default of 80%) was very satisfactory, with only ‘nit-pickable’ parts to show the codec’s weaknesses, like the Upper Left area of this scene above (with the dark interior areas). Some artifacting can also be seen in the Middle Top area (slightly obvious even in this compressed JPG), where the plain sky areas take the brunt of the compression of this frame taken from the original game recording video produced by Bandicam.

Xvid(b)** at Bandicam’s Default of 80% Quality, Battlefield 3.
Click to see Full Size
The above image is taken from a game recording of Battlefield 3 that had some pistol action going on, with an explosion caught in the background. The quality of Bandicam’s Default setting isn’t too bad and high action scenes can actually look quite acceptable. For example, in this frame above, with the explosion occurring on an upper walkway, only the Right Edge of the explosion (with the debris) has obvious Macroblocking – and the sidewalk [and foliage] macroblocks had to be ‘looked for’ here – and are less noticeable in the moving video. The ‘flatter area’ (with less colour variations) in this scene, is the poster advertisement, which the codec punishes with compression, leaving colour banding and macroblocks evident. The rest of scene is more complicated material and demands the codec to utilize more bitrate, ending up looking not too bad at all, when VBR is used (Variable BitRate, “changing data rate”) mode).

[I personally found that in dark (as in nighttime) scenes, at 80% Quality there was distracting colour quantization (colour quality loss) and macroblocks (little square compression artifacts); but for most material, the 80% Quality setting seems ok to use for Xvid(b)**, most of the time]

Xvid(b)** at Bandicam’s Default setting for Xvid of 80% Quality, the Batman: Arkham City Benchmark.
Click to see Full Size
The above image is an extracted frame from a recording of the Batman: Arkham City Benchmark. A very difficult scene for any codec (unless you tell it to ‘keep all quality, use 100%’ and then don’t mind the larger file size that will be created) it is hard for a codec to decide what to compress and what not to, as particles fly all over the place and light and dark areas shift around as the Benchmark runs through this area with changing levels/regions of Luma [lightness, brightness]. Bandicam’s Xvid did a good job trying to keep the text sharp at 1440p – but at 80% Quality, macroblocks are everywhere (those present in the screenshot above are not from the JPG compression, they were present in the game recording itself). At 80% Quality, anything with subtle gradient colour changes are absolutely tortured by the codec, seen especially in the change from light to dark in the Center Top light fixture area and the Left Lower curtain region. Bright areas however, such as the light fixtures themselves and almost all of the particles flying around, are judged by the codec to be ‘important to human eyes’ and detail is kept high for those objects.

Xvid(b)** at Bandicam’s Default setting of 80% Quality, Minecraft.
Click to see Full Size
The above frame is taken from a recording of the Minecraft Demo starting shoreline, originally captured at 1440p (the image is resized down to 1280×720). I was interested in how Xvid would handle Minecraft, a difficult game to capture and compress, as hard edges and lines are everywhere. Bandicam’s version of Xvid did surprisingly well, as the video recording itself is a joy to watch, with compression artifacts barely noticeable (recording at higher resolutions helps with that, but uses more disk space for the game recordings). Magnification of the original video frame is just below (next image):

These two sampled regions are magnified to 200% (doubled in size). They were extracted from the game recording frame above, which itself came from the original game recording produced by Bandicam and the built-in Xvid codec.
Click to see Full Size
While not as obvious in the moving video, the above frame extractions (both Left and Right sides) show Gibbs Effects [‘ringing’ or ‘mosquito noise’] around the hard edges of Minecraft’s graphics. The colour gradient changes, blending slowly into the background/sky colour in the Right Half of the above image also cause Ringing and Macroblocks to occur. Distant water gets treated with extreme prejudice by the codec, as the jumble of lines and animation from the textures are ‘sluffed together’ [my technical term] and Macroblocks are obvious. Again, these artifacts are more obvious in the stills from the game recording – the video itself, when watched, was more appealing to the eye and these compression artifacts aren’t as noticed as the frames fly by and the cow looks at you in a wondering manner.

Regardless of some of Xvid’s compression shortcomings illustrated above, with the speed that it performs at, along with the ability to turn up the Quality setting in Bandicam, these artifacts shown will not occur as often in higher quality settings – and then Xvid can be a nice codec to run with, especially if a system cannot handle a codec that does higher processing on the frames [taking more time to do calculations on them and saving them to a file, creating ‘lag’]. Older systems or laptops that do not have the hardware to utilize GPU-accelerated game recording (with codecs such as NVIDIA’s CUDA and NVENC, AMD’s App Acceleration and Intel’s Quick Sync) can utilize Xvid as a less-taxing codec to record with [as another option on the Utility Belt of Game Recording Codecs to choose from]. Indeed, it is almost as speed efficient as the ever-compatible MJPEG codec, for capturing, editing and compression.

The default setting, when installing Bandicam, creates a GOP of 150 [GOP stands for Group Of Pictures or the number of frames between Information/Key Frames in a video]. This is fine for normal viewing (and it leaves a lot of headroom for compressing ‘only the differences’ between the frames, resulting in smaller filesizes), but a large GOP can create problems with editing, as many NLE’s (Non-Linear Editors, such as Sony’s Vegas/MovieStudio line, Adobe’s Premiere products, Lightworks and more) do not work well with so many frames in-between the Keyframes – however, editors such as Corel’s VideoStudio, CyberLink’s PowerDirector and Microsoft’s own Movie Maker do not exhibit this issue [I tested these three applications by hand, myself, just to make sure and they imported fine and were handled without the “glitchy-ness” or “trails” that were exhibited in (for example) Vegas].

Although originally captured for an article on the Xvid codec here (which can potentially also experience the issue mentioned in the above paragraph) this image shows an example of what the “trails” or “glitchy-ness” will look like, as it was captured from a video with a Large GOP (large keyframe interval) output produced by Vegas. (Click to see Full Size)

When editing a video with a large GOP, the video editing application must ‘seek’ to the next Keyframe whenever it has to process a request and calculate/build all of the frames from there (which slows things down and delays processing and editing). Also, depending on the application, with some programs video can only be ‘cut’ on keyframes (unless an application is coded to create keyframes where needed). All of these steps and problems created by ‘Long-GOP’ video can be avoided [when using the above-mentioned video editing programs] by simply adjusting the Keyframe Interval in the Xvid settings to “1”.

One caveat to keep in mind, with setting a Keyframe Interval of “1”: although it will now make for speedy/easier/morecompatible editing with many video editing applications, the codec will not have as much ‘headroom’ to work with, when compressing your game recording material. 
What this means is, that instead of only keeping track of the changes between frames (say, a person running by down the side of the screen), where the codec will literally only save those ‘differences’ in the file; it now has to save every single portion of the viewable screen in every single frame, complete and independent in ‘stand-alone’ frames (the KeyFrames), and while the video will be much faster in seeking and have increased editing compatibility, the codec requires much more bitrate now, to save ‘everything’ in every single frame.
The result: your video file size will end up larger than before. However, you can now edit the video in Vegas, Premiere, Lightworks and more… the choice of how to go about this aspect then, is up to you [whether to use a GOP of 1 for easier editing, or not]. If you do not use these specific video editing programs (perhaps instead, you are using PowerDirector or VideoStudio Pro or Movie Maker, which to not have as much trouble with ‘Long-GOP’ material, not needing the GOP to be one frame) or you are not having problems with whatever editor you are currently using, there is no need to make this change to the Xvid recording settings in Bandicam [this is why there is no green indicator arrow in my ‘Suggested Settings’ illustration coming up in a little while, for this option]
Staying on the topic of Bitrate [from the above paragraph] for a moment, “..what kind of file sizes are we looking at..?”, you might ask. Well, here is a sampling of some of the Bitrates that were seen when recording with Xvid(b)** at Bandicam’s Default Settings for the codec:
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Recorded Game Title                    Resolution     BitRate (Mbps, GBph) 
Hitman: Absolution Benchmark 1366×768 ~ 34 Mbps, 0.97GB/hour
Hitman: Absolution Benchmark 2560×1440 ~ 83 Mbps, 2.4GB/hour
FurMark (Full Run) 1366×768 ~ 44 Mbps, 1.2GB/hour
FurMark (Full Run) 2560×1440 ~ 45 Mbps, 1.2GB/hour
Unigine Valley Benchmark 1366×768 ~ 37 Mbps, 1.06GB/hour
Unigine Valley Benchmark 2560×1440
Batman: Arkham City Benchmark 1366×768 ~ 20 Mbps, 0.57GB/hour
Batman: Arkham City Benchmark 2560×1440 ~ 54 Mbps, 1.5GB/hour
table code created by Danny Sanchez (journalistopia.com)
Just to compare some file sizes of other codecs: the Low Quality setting for the Dxtory codec (with Compression) recorded a run of the Unigine Valley Benchmark (at 1080p) at about 326Mbps (9.3GB/hour), while FRAPS produced a recording of about 291Mbps (8.3GB/hour), with Lagarith (in Default/RGB Mode) creating a recording of the same material that ran at about 235Mbps (6.7GB/hour). Of course, bitrates fluctuate, depending on the complexity of the material (more movement/action/etc, which requires more bitrate to properly represent the material.. but a longer explanation of that is outside the scope of this post [believe it or not…I’m trying to keep them ‘short’! hah]).
The other setting that can be changed in the Bandicam interface for their version of the Xvid codec, is the Quality. Here is an example of the differences in quality output at the various Quality settings for Bandicam’s Xvid:
Comparison between varying Quality settings, for Bandicam’s version of Xvid (from Left to Right; Quality at 40%, 60%, 80% and 100% Quality). The JPG compression used for this composite [the four videos side-by-side] did not overly affect the Macroblocking occurring – the ‘blockyness’ seen in these frames is almost untouched, even though the videos from the original Unigine Valley Benchmark recordings were converted into this JPEG image – this is very close to how it looked in the video (although slightly more noticeable as still images). Click to see Full Size
As you can see, the perceived quality for Xvid goes down quickly, with Macroblocks becoming more obvious as the quality setting goes down. However, acceptable Quality can be maintained if the quality setting is kept high [in my opinion, stay at 90% or higher if you can]. Remember though, that with the higher quality settings, more space will be required by the codec, to save all of that data. Also, if using a Keyframe Interval of “1” (creating a GOP size of one frame, each frame in the video then being a Keyframe), the codec will also not have as much room to compress the images/video and your output size will increase. As stated above though, the benefit of using a Keyframe Interval of “1” is, then your game recordings will be easily importable/editable in NLEs like Premiere, Vegas, Lightworks, etc – if you are are having troubles with those specific applications [if you are not, there is no need to limit the GOP to one frame, which is why there is no green arrow indicator in the below illustration]. Below, are my Suggested Settings then, for this codec in Bandicam, in one image:
The ‘Setting Of The Month’: Bandicam’s Version of Xvid, included with Bandicam (Suggested Settings):
Quality is at 90%, PCM (“Uncompressed”) Audio is selected [mainly for editing compatibility], a higher compression (“Smaller file Size” option) is chosen (and a Keyframe interval of “1” is suggested for compatibility with editing applications such as Vegas, Premiere, Lightworks, etc. if required [only change if needed as it increases file size, no green arrow indicator is shown on the Keyframe Interval])
Click to see Full Size

Overall, I think ‘Bandisoft’s version of Xvid’ in Bandicam does a decent job with Quality – and is downright excellent where Performance is concerned. On my system (and hopefully yours), Bandicam’s Xvid had very little drain on the performance of the game while recording with it, creating very little ‘lag’ while recording (it had a low ‘performance hit’). As long as the quality setting is kept high (90-100%), the recorded output Quality can be quite acceptable, with only a little Macroblocking (block shapes being visible) and Posterization [colour quantization, which is a reduction in the amount of colours, resulting in ‘colour banding’ or ‘bands’ seen] in the darker and ‘flatter’ areas of a frame in a game recording (Macroblocking may occur in areas such as skies, less-colourful regions, etc). Try out some recordings with Bandicam’s version of Xvid for yourself and see if you prefer using it for recording your gaming adventures.
Please note dear reader, that I am not saying “this codec is the best one to record with” or “use this one only”. I am merely showing that it is possible, or how to tweak it for quality or file size, as to your own personal tastes. There are many codecs out there to choose from when game recording and although some are more apt for certain types of games than others, overall it is your own choice to do with as you wish – use what you prefer. 



See you in the games!


Personal Short Version/Opinion:


While the Bandisoft-optimized version of Xvid included in Bandicam works pretty well and is fast, I find myself not using it very often, other than this past month or so, for testing. After recording for a while with Xvid’s ‘successor’, h.264/AVC, the extra features of Deblocking and other tools in AVC have ‘spoiled’ me. Going back to the slightly more ‘blocky’ output of Xvid – even though it creates very little lag when recording – is slightly distracting to my eyes. When I see an Xvid game capture of mine now, my eyes are instantly drawn to the darker/flatter areas of the scene and those little tiny block shapes…and I sigh at the slowly-aging Xvid codec, remembering its’ heyday’ of compressing my TV shows recorded on my ATi TV Wonder PCI card. The late 1990’s and the 2000’s were ‘Xvid’s Time’ to me, when I used it for almost everything – and while it performs well in game recording today (even Xvid.org’s ‘Official’ version, with the right settings), I am now just too used to the benefits of more modern codecs, like h.264/AVC, which can even use the videocard/hardware, for GPU-accelerated recording.

I realize there are a lot of people gaming on laptops out there, and not everyone has a dedicated/separate videocard inside their system to record with, but the more I use my GPU to record with, the more I am impressed with the performance when recording most games [note that some games ‘don’t like’ GPU-accelerated recording (are not fully coded for compatibility with it) and these games have large hits to performance with it]. At the moment of this writing, I have two NVIDIA videocards running in my system (performing together in SLI mode) and I am enjoying using the GPU-accelerated CUDA offering in Bandicam to record with. Like AMD’s AppAcceleration and INTEL’s QuickSync, CUDA utilizes H.264/AVC through the hardware to record, having high performance [for most games] and producing nice output, utilizing some of the newer aspects of MPEG-4 (such as Deblocking) when recording, to hide compression artifacts [the little ‘glitches’ from compressing the video]. The speed, and presence of light ‘compression correction’ from this hardware implementation of MPEG4 has spoiled me now, and I am finding it hard to go back to the slightly more obvious artifacting in ‘older’ codecs, such as MPEG-1 or Xvid (which is ‘older’ MPEG-4), especially when those codecs are used at lower quality settings, to try and save hard drive space. (Turning up the Quality settings for these codecs helps a lot, if your system can handle it)

As CPU architecture evolves and modern CPUs have ‘mini-GPUs’ built into them, the differentiation of capability between ‘gaming rigs’ and ‘gaming laptops’ blurs [as far as game recording goes], as GPU-accelerated game recording is possible now by less and less expensive hardware (AMD APUs) and processors (INTEL’s QuickSync), even within laptops [as opposed to full desktop systems]. This means that “gaming laptops” now have much more capability when it comes to game recording, today. If your laptop is capable of using GPU-accelerated recording, give it a try. If it is not, systems that do not use the GPU to compress their video can still perform well recording games, as is shown with the above article, by using Xvid. “If you can’t choose the H.264 encoder in Bandicam, choose ‘Xvid'” ~ Quote from the Bandicam.com website.

Do some testing of your own dear reader – and have fun experimenting, finding a codec that you will eventually prefer to record with – and See You In The Games…
Last Remarks (in addition/continuation to the Prologue of this article): 
Another thing to keep in mind is, that my settings (both for Recording and Editing/Rendering) change slightly over time… I may have been able to purchase a new disk drive recently for instance, so then I will allow my recordings to take up more space [for a while anyway]. I may be trying out a Demo/Trial of a new version of a Video Editing Application, so I have been experimenting with some different Rendering settings. Perhaps a videocard driver or codec was updated, so now I will experiment a bit with the recording application settings, seeing if I can squeeze a little more Quality out of my recordings, while keeping the Performance high. All of these reasons and a few more, are why my settings constantly change over time. Don’t worry, I’ll try to remember to come here and share them with you, anytime I find a “Good Combination” that works well for either High Quality or Fast Performance, the ‘Holy Grail’ of course being a Perfect balance of both. 
As I have begun more dedicated testing over the past few years, I have found that specific games themselves ‘prefer’ certain recording and rendering settings over others. What I mean by “prefer” is: as new game rendering engines are written, hardware architectures change, and programmers utilize ‘something over another’ in general during a game’s development, this affects what settings a game ‘works better with’, whether it is a specific game recording program, hardware/GPU, or specific recording and rendering settings; hence my usage of the word “prefer”. 
This is why, for example, some games will perform better on an AMD/ATi-based videocard in Benchmarks and Reviews than an NVIDIA-based GPU – and then other games will have better results on an NVIDIA-based videocard over an AMD/ATi-based GPU – those games were simply being developed [the programmers wrote the code] on a system with that certain GPU installed in it at the time. This also means there is a chance of specific optimizations in programming that slightly favour one brand of GPU over another [and they may even have been ‘compensated for their efforts’ by that respective company, but *shhh* these things aren’t spoken of outside Mordor]. 
In regards to the above and game recording, I have found that some games will have better performance with different game recording applications as well. For example, one game may have less of a performance hit while recording with Dxtory and then another game will have better performance recording with Bandicam [as an example] – it all depends on the code and how it is written and being rendered. That’s why I ‘change it up’ so often, altering my recording settings (and rendering settings) as each game I play exposes its nuances. That’s what I mean if I ever say a game ‘seems to prefer’ recording with one game recording program over another. 
Keep this all of the above in mind then and also remember dear reader, that I am never telling you “you should use this”, I am always suggesting only a possibility in my posts, and it is always up to you to try it out and decide if you want to use a recommendation of mine or not.
 [I encourage everyone to always take the good ideas from others and leave the bad, making up a composite of their own liking and preferences and what they want to utilize – whether it is with game recording and editing, or Life In General – but, that last part is for another blog…] 

 **[designated as “Xvid(b)”, to show that it is the “Bandicam-Optimized Version of Xvid”]

Does Weighing Yourself Help You to Lose Weight?

Do weight changes translate into fat loss?
On a day to day basis a scale is an extremely poor tool for giving you information on changes in bodyfat levels which are very small.  Daily weight changes are mostly accounted for by four factors:  bowel movements, urination, starch and sugar intake, and blood volume.    Since your blood volume typically does NOT vary that much the other factors are more relevant.
Bowel Movements and Urination vary a lot between different people anywhere from 1.3lbs to 5.7lbs in a single day.    This is one of the reasons to consistently weight yourself after you wake up and go to the bathroom and before you eat or drink much.
However, the biggee when it comes to daily weight fluctuation, is usually glycogen storage levels.    Glycogen is just the storage form of glucose aka blood sugar.    All starch and sugar ultimately end up as glucose, glycogen or fat.     
For example, on the front end of a low carb diet you will show big weight loss which is almost all water because you store glucose/glycogen with water – hence the term carbo “Hydrate”.  Muscle and organs contain the highest levels of water, and this is significant because most of your bodyweight comes from muscles and organs. 
  
So daily changes in weight are NOT a good reflection in changes in bodyfat levels!
Can daily weighing help with long-term weight loss and fat loss?

In order to answer this question let’s review the scientific studies that have looked at this issue.     The recent advent of WIFI scales is allowing much more accurate weight records because prior to that people had to take the time to write down their weight each day.
In a recent WIFI scale study called the Weight Trial here were the results:
Over a six-month period, those who weighed daily lost about 13 lbs more than the control group.
Even those who weighed themselves up to five times each week lost less weight than the daily weighers.
Daily Weighers were more likely to do things like eating less food and watching less television so clearly the weighing helped by changing behaviors!
Although this study did not measure body fat, it is quite likely that the body weight loss did translate into significant fat loss.
For certain groups, daily weighing is a bad idea such as people with eating disorders and other psychological disorders including extremely low self-esteem.     In addition, daily weighing does not work for everyone.   For some people the inevitable plateaus or variations in weight loss can very frustrated and quit the whole process!

So daily weighing may be helpful for you, but it is not perfect and it does not accurately measure changes in bodyfat levels so it is important to do use some method of body composition testing to measure these changes which should be your ultimate goal!

Fallout 4: High Resolution Texture Pack (Free DLC) Is Now Available [Notification]

For those that haven’t heard yet, as mentioned last week at their site here, Bethesda has released a High Resolution Texture Pack, that is now available for free, downloadable via Steam.

The graphic ‘upgrade’ includes ‘native 1440p’ textures [which means the textures themselves are 2560×1440 pixels in size – but remember, textures usually aren’t displayed at Full Size, they are squished into say, the sides of a gun, or a sign or other things in the world – even if they cover a large wall in the game, they will usually not display ‘at full native size’ – and even if they do, they can be repeated (“tiled”) to fill in the space of objects needed, in the game world – basically, 1440p textures should make the game look great]. It also includes Enhanced Draw Distancing and God-Ray tweaks [those glow-y, streaks of light, showing up especially when a source of light is behind something, such as the sun behind trees or buildings].

Now, up until this release, I personally was playing with SweetFX a lot in FO4, having fun increasing Sharpness and Shading, dealing with the Aliasing, taking Screenshots and ‘Realistic Photos’ and ‘Close-Ups’ (with Depth-Of-Field, etc) of some of the Characters in the game. These can be found here, at a slowly-growing Flickr page I started for The Blog. A couple examples of these, taken with ‘SweetFX in ReShade’ are just below – I look forward to what the entire game could possibly look like with the new High Resolution textures!

Fallout 4 – Mrs. Nordhagen, Settler I – SweetFX in ReShade
(GTAMblog7Photo SweetFX Preset, made available Soon™)
Click to see Full Size
Fallout 4 – Mrs. Nordhagen, Settler I – SweetFX in ReShade
(GTAMblog7Photo SweetFX Preset, made available Soon™)
Click to see Full Size

ReShade by Crosire (reshade.me)
SweetFX by CeeJay.dk (ceejay.dk)
Game Material by Bethesda Game Studios (bgs.bethsoft.com)
Captured by Troy from The Game Tips And More Blog

Since I don’t actually have room for it on any of the drives I have Games on at the moment [which seems to always happen when something cool comes out, of course], I will be moving some things around and uninstalling other games I am not playing at the moment, to make room for this big fella…

It is an optional/separate “DLC” download, weighing in at a hefty 58GB installation through Steam. Once I get it going, I will be working on a QualityTest for it, comparing the graphic look between the two versions and what they really look like in-game – as well as the Performance Hit the Texture Pack creates – look for that coming post Soon™ if you are waiting to see what they look like or if it is ‘worth the download’; but if you can’t wait and want to get started seeing it yourself, go get it via Steam for free now, here.

This free download, by the way, is – in Bethesda’s own words, “…a love letter to our amazing PC fans that have supported us – not just with Fallout 4, but across multiple decades and games…”. 
Right back at ya’, Beth! 
“Thank You” ~ Sincerely, The Game Tips And More Blog

Header and Footer Images captured by Bethesda, from their example screenshots of the High Resolution Texture Pack

It’s Not Just You ™ – Heroes Of The Storm ‘Screen Shake’ = ‘Motion Sickness’ (Dizzy, Nausea, Headache) [Notification]

Just a quick post to let others know that – if you are experiencing this phenomenon – getting dizzy or even nauseous while playing Heroes Of The Storm lately: It’s Not Just You™… I even whipped up an Example of the effect, for those that aren’t quite noticing it:

Example of ‘the screen shake effect’ I made, in GIF format
(Click to see slightly larger Full Size)

I first came across this in the Official Heroes Of The Storm Forums at Battle.Net. It was originally posted by “Phoenix” a couple of weeks ago, here. Although I have seen it personally in-game (noticed it), I have not suffered the nauseating effects that many may/do suffer with this Special Effect the game offers – even though I have experienced ‘game motion sickness’ from other games. [I did notice when testing and creating the above Example, that it made me slightly queasy however..]. Mainly, I have ‘been lucky’ with not experiencing it because I do not normally play the Heroes that have/produce this effect (the ‘screen shake’ effect). Here is a list of all the Heroes and Spells that can produce this effect, thanks to a helpful post by “Hatsoz” on the Official Forums:


Spells with Screen Shake
Zagara – Nydus Network (R)
Genji – Swift Strike (E)
Sgt. Hammer – Concussive Blast (W), Blunt Force Gun (R), Napalm Strike (R)
Gazlowe – Deth Lazor (W)
Lucio – Soundwave (Q), Sound Barrier (R)
Valeera – Blade Flurry (W)
Zul’jin – Twin Cleave (W), Guillotine (R)
Ragnaros – Sulfuras Smash (R)
Alarak – Lightning Surge (E)
Cho – Upheaval (R)
Karazhim – Radiant Dash (Q) (Only with Volley of Blows Talent Lv. 16), Seven-Sided Strike (R)
Anub’arak – Burrow Charge (E) (Upon resurface)
Li Li – Water Dragon (R)
Diablo – Shadow Charge (Q), Fire Stomp (W), Overpower (E)
E.T.C. – Face Melt (W), Stage Dive (R) (Landing only)
Falstad – Hinterland Blast (R)
Kerrigan – Impaling Blades (W)
Muradin – Thunder Clap (W), Dwarf Toss (E), Haymaker (R)
Sonya – Ancient Spear (Q) (On Hit), Leap (R)
Stitches – Slam (W)
Tyrael – El’druin’s Might (Q) (On sword landing), Angelic Flash (Q) (Teleport to sword), Judgment (R)
Uther – Hammer of Justic (E), Divine Storm (R)





Heroes with No Screen Shake
Valla
Tyrande
Lunara
Kael’thas
Zeratul
Cassia
Probius
Varian
Samuro
Zarya
Auriel
Gul’dan
Medivh
Chromie
Tracer
Dehaka
Xul
Li-Ming
Greymane
Gall
Artanis
Lt. Morales
Rexxar
Leoric
The Butcher
Johanna
Sylvanas
The Lost Vikings
Thrall
Jaina
Azmodan
Chen
Rehgar
Murky
Brightwing
Tychus
Abathur
Arthas
Illidan
Malfurion
Nazeebo
Nova
Raynor
Tassadar

I experimented with every single Graphic Setting available in the game (eventually running it on the Lowest Possible Settings) and could not find a Setting that disabled this effect…. I first tried Physics, then other effects-affecting settings, such as Shader level, and more, until everything was at the lowest possible Settings and still the effect appears in-game.

I even looked through the game directories (folders) for some sort of editable configuration file, but the only ones present were ‘protected’ by Blizzard, by being compressed or encrypted in their own proprietary encapsulation of some sort (which renders the files not easily readable or editable by normal means – this is understandable, as they do not want their game easily ‘hacked’ or negatively affected by end users).

So, for now – unfortunately – there is no solution for this, for sufferers of this effect. The only recourse, until Blizzard puts in an option to Disable Screen Shake, is to avoid the Heroes that produce this visual effect.



Just letting Sufferers know: It’s Not Just You™!
[I will try to remember to return to this Post and Update it once Blizzard adds this option – or a workaround is found]

LUXURY GIRLS BEDROOM DESIGN DECOR STYLE GOOD

The design of a room can be a major problem in the redesign of your home. The problem could grow if you have to do for a child – a girl in particular. But do not worry, because we had some bedroom design ideas for the creative minds of the people working with the Italian girls.

LUXURY GIRLS BEDROOM DESIGN DECOR

LUXURY GIRLS BEDROOM DESIGN DECOR

They work in an atmosphere of classic charm in a contemporary way through a range of unique colors. Most models adopt a classic style, with good curves and cushions, and a pile of wood painted to create the perfect atmosphere for your little princess.

LUXURY GIRLS BEDROOM METAL DESIGN DECOR

LUXURY GIRLS BEDROOM METAL DESIGN DECOR

LUXURY GIRLS BEDROOM DESIGN IDEAS

LUXURY GIRLS BEDROOM DESIGN IDEAS

LUXURY GIRLS BEDROOM DESIGN CONCEPT

LUXURY GIRLS BEDROOM DESIGN CONCEPT

Food Repair Guide: Baking Part 1

Bread

Bread, being about the first thing that man made, is also about the easiest. Ordinary bread is only flour, salt, liquid and yeast, well kneaded to mix, and baked. The modern cook with a food processor need not even bother about the kneading (which is only done to spread the yeast really thoroughly through the bread) as the food processor does it all for her. Unless, of course, she enjoys doing battle with balls of dough!

Ingredients/yeast

Flours differ but, as long as the flour is of good quality and dry, the differences are a matter of personal taste. Water is the normal mixing liquid and sea salt has a better flavour than table salt.

If the yeast is fresh and alive, when put in a damp, warm atmosphere, it will rise and grow whether it is incorporated in a dough or alone. Old age kills both compressed and dried yeast, as do extremes of temperature: anything over 110°F/50°C or below standard refrigerator temperature.

Once the yeast has been creamed by mixing it with sugar and a little warm liquid, it needs only to be thoroughly amalgamated into the dough, by hand or machine.

Diet Start

Rising, etc.

After the yeast has been mixed in, the dough must be left to rise, and in some cases prove. This will happen more or less quickly depending on the ambient temperature, but the longer it takes, the better the bread will be. Elizabeth David, among others, maintains that bread that has been left for 24 hours in a moderately warm kitchen will taste far better than bread that has been ‘hurried’ in a warming oven. However, an hour should be the minimum time — unless you are using a food processor and extra vitamin C to assist the raising.

If the dough does not rise, it means that the yeast is dead — whether through old age or overheating — and there is nothing you can do about it. Dead yeast has a smell and flavour not unlike dead cats and is totally unrevivable. Throw it out and start again.

Once you have mastered the basic techniques of bread making, all fancy breads are merely an elaboration on them. Most bakery books are extremely explicit in their instructions.

Cakes

Raising agents

Most cakes use eggs or chemical raising agents rather than yeast. The lighter sponges use whisked egg white; heavier sponges or fruit cakes use whole eggs or a combination of whole eggs and baking powder or bicarbonate of soda. These work by giving off gases when heated, thereby raising the mixture. The more chemical raising agent one uses, the lighter, dryer and less keeping the cake will be. Thus, fresh light sponges or angel cakes should be eaten within 24 hours to be at their best; a rich Madeira cake will keep several weeks; a fruit cake several months.

Mixing

The early mixing processes in all cake making are important, be it beating eggs and sugar to a ribbon or creaming butter and sugar for Victoria sponges. In both cases, early and thorough beating ensures that the cake will remain moist. Beating later in the process when the flour has been added will make the cake tough, heavy and elastic. Obviously, beating a light sponge after the egg white has been folded in would defeat the purpose of the operation.

For cakes that need to hold a filling in place — such as a cherry Madeira where you are attempting to keep the cherries in suspension — do not add all the liquid until you are sure that the full amount will not make the mixture too liquid to support the fruit.

Packet mixtures

If you feel that you cannot face the traumas of total cake making, there are a great number of excellent packet cake mixes on the market and you might be well advised to give up the whole business of being a home baker and use one of them.

Cooking

Follow the instructions in the recipe (or on the packet) for baking times and temperatures but do check yourself, as your oven may not behave exactly as the instructions say it should. Do not, however, continually open and shut the oven, as you will kill whatever chance the poor thing had of rising evenly in a constant heat. Similarly, when you test it, do not be too vigorous. If a light sponge gets a fat skewer stuck in it, it will break the crust and release half the air being carefully husbanded inside. Press the sponge very gently with your finger and, if it resists, it will be done. A more robust cake will stand the skewer treatment but, even then, do not do it more than you must.

Turning out

Whether the mixture is from a packet or home-made, it is most important that you are able to get it out of the tin when it is cooked. Greasing and flouring tins should work but has been known, only too often, not to — especially if the butter was salty! Invest in one, or several, loose-bottomed cake tins, which guarantee complete success — not only for cakes but for pâtés, mousses, jellies or anything else that you fear may lurk shyly in its container and refuse to emerge in public. If the mixture is very liquid, as in a very light sponge, line the tin with greaseproof paper to prevent it leaking out the bottom.

My Next Assignments…………

Never have I experienced a hectic period leading up to an assignment like the past few days. I returned from my assignment in Vietnam on the 3rd of February. I was supposed to leave for Indonesia on the 8th for another assignment. However the client was not able to process my visa on time and the assignment was cancelled / postponed. During this period I had to finish 6 Organizational Capacity Assessment Reports. So I was running around trying to process my visa as well as trying to complete the reports before I left for Indonesia.

Once it was clear that I was unable to go to Indonesia I was requested by 3 more clients to submit proposals. One assignment was in Bangladesh and it went very fast; I have already set the travel dates, booked the tickets, got my visa and everything is a go. The other in India went very quick even though I had to finish contracting, setting the travel dates, booking the ticket, and getting my visa to be able to start the assignment in India on the 21st.

The other is indeed a nightmare! I have been discussing with this client since October of 2009. Well believe it; some times a contract can take even longer. I have already done 5 versions of the proposal; and the last. This kind of procrastination by a client signifies all or some of the following:

  • The client is not clear about what they want
  • They are haggling about rates and costs
  • The client is unsure about you and the organization you represent
  • Does not know / have the resources / decision making power to use the results of the assignment

I must say that this client does not know me and the organization. That is why I went through the process of doing 5 versions of the proposal. However now I know it is to do with the rates and costs. This has a critical issue that most consultants do not see; which is the client is likely to not be satisfied with your work no matter how well you do your assignment. This also has the possibility to creating a problem when collecting final payment for the assignment.

My advice (which is what I am doing right now) is to stop doing anymore changes to the proposal and wait for the client to come back to you with a contract with any changes that they feel are important. This way you push the client towards closing (sales cycle) and stop you from spending time (which is money) on an order which may not be profitable.

Guided Math Resources

I recently went to a workshop about guided math groups, and I have tons of new ideas that I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks. I couldn’t wait, however, to share a couple of the resources that I’m really excited about.

First, is this book:

Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction, Second Edition  is a resource that I was able to start using with my students as soon as I got it. It is full of open-ended questions and parallel tasks that students at any level could access. It’s organized both by grade levels (K-2, 3-5, 6-8) and domain strands (Number and Operations, Geometry, Measurement, Algebra, and Data Analysis and Probability). It also lists which Common Core State Standards each question aligns to.

We were working on line plots (4.MD.4) when the book first arrived. Consider these problems:

You create a line plot that is based on measuring items to the nearest quarter of an inch. You notice that your plot looks a lot like a steep mountain. What might the measurements be and what might you be measuring? Why does it make sense that your plot would look like a steep mountain? (p. 174)

We had a great class discussion about inferences we can make about data based on the shape of a line plot, and students were really creative about what the line plot could be measuring.

There was also a parallel task where students could choose how to represent the data.

The set of data below describes the ages of a group of people at a family party.

32, 30, 5, 2, 1, 62, 58, 28, 26, 25, 24, 2, 4, 39, 16. 

Choice 1: Create a line plot to display the data. 

Choice 2: Create a bar graph to display the data. (p. 186)

Some students felt more comfortable with bar graphs, but they realized that it was harder to figure out intervals and scales for the bar graph vs. a line plot. That yielded a great discussion about how to choose which type of graph to use.

This is a great resource to use for student math journals, and it’s one that I will be going to daily. I can’t recommend this resource enough.

Another math resource that I’m falling in love with for my math workshop and guided math groups comes from the Bridges in Mathematics program. Until attending the workshop, I’d never even heard of this program, but it seems like it’s well-suited for developing math centers and guided math groups. There are some sample tasks available as a free supplement to the the program (to align it with Common Core) at http://catalog.mathlearningcenter.org/free. I’m also planning to purchase their Building Computational Fluency program for $45. I need something more structured and organized for checking students’ multiplication and division fluency in the fall.

Do any of you use the Bridges in Mathematics program in your school? If so, I’d love to hear more about it — I’m really intrigued!

Have a great weekend!

ROOM SEVEN LEVITATION HOTEL PARIS DESIGN

SEVEN LEVITATION HOTEL PARIS

The Last weekend we were invited to spend a night in the bedroom of SEVEN LEVITATION Hotel Paris … A change of scenery, enchanting, and very pleasant … We’ve tested since the beginning of dozens of hotels – from very luxurious to the simple – but SEVEN Hotel remains one of our fondest memories in terms of wellbeing! We literally left “floating”in this room LEVITATION, amid clouds … Here, the amenities of modern life are available starting with a Nespresso coffee machine with tea and coffee and an iPod docking station to listen to your favorite music in this extraordinary place. You will also find a flat screen TV with 4 channels olfactory delight your senses!

The room of the hotel LEVITATION SEVEN is also a premium bedding, large shower – where you can shower couple – air conditioning, a desk … So comfortable!

Above a photo of the room SUSPENDED BATH offering a superb tub suspended, and below a small photo of the ABSOLUTE LEVITATION!

SEVEN LEVITATION HOTEL PARIS

SEVEN LEVITATION HOTEL PARIS

SEVEN LEVITATION HOTEL PARIS

No Backtracking

No Backtracking principles

This is a plan for life. You will carefully reintroduce certain carbohydrates into your diet — and find the balance that maintains your weight and keeps you feeling trim. This crucial phase will allow you to:

  • Establish the carbohydrate levels that you can eat in order to remain slim and supply your energy requirements
  • Break totally with bad habits made in the past
  • Never return to yo-yo dieting
  • Find a healthy attitude to food and a viable eating plan for the rest of your life.

No Backtracking rules

During this phase you need to:

  • Increase your daily carb intake by no more than 10g (1/3oz) each week
  • Add new foods one at a time
  • Eliminate a new food if it provokes weight gain; a return of physical symptoms lost during the Fast-Track Plan; increased appetite, cravings or water retention

Diet Start

  • Drop back to the next-lowest level of carbohydrate intake if you gain weight
  • Carry on eating adequate amounts of healthy fats and lean protein at every meal to ensure a balanced diet
  • Continue to take vitamin and mineral supplements regularly, drink masses of water and, of course, exercise regularly.

Make this diet the one that works

Once you have reached your target weight, you can start on the No Backtracking plan. Increase your intake of carbohydrates by 5-10 grams per day until you reach your optimum level for weight management This will probably be around 40 per cent of your total daily calorific intake, but remember that everybody differs, especially when you consider activity levels.

If you have high insulin resistance, then you may have to Keep on Tracking and be careful about how many carbohydrates you consume on a daily basis. But if you’re one of the lucky ones with low insulin resistance, you may be able to eat most vegetables (including starchy vegetables), fruit, pulses andwholegrains such as oats, barley, millet, wild rice, couscous and buckwheat. You can also begin to use recipes containing carbohydrate ingredients such as breadcrumbs; you may even be able to handle an occasional potato. But don’t eat all these things in one day. You still have to monitor your carbohydrate intake to stay where you are – healthy and energized. Remember the eating habits that got you here in the first place. You should have successfully gauged your ideal carbohydrate level, and be maintaining a stable weight and energy levels, within 4-12 weeks of following the No Backtracking plan.

Stick to the basic weight management tips and try to be good 80 per cent of the time. We are all allowed the odd slip up – if you want a slab of chocolate cake from time to time, make sure it is the best you find and enjoy it. If you ever see the scales creeping up, cut back, even go back to the Fast Track plan for a few days until your weight is back to normal, and then gradually raise your carbohydrate levels once again.

A template for life

Two portions of higher GI carbohydrates are included per day on the suggested eating plan. Treat this as the template you ought to follow from now on. And try some of these tricks to keep your carbohydrates at a moderate, healthy level:

  • Opt for rye bread, oatcakes and rye crackers instead of wheat-based bread. Even if you are not wheat-intolerant, it is worth considering this.
  • Eat fruit 20 minutes before eating anything else, not afterwards. Fruit takes less time to digest, but if eaten on top of a heavy meal, can cause bloating.
  • If you are going to drink alcohol, choose dry white wine or, even better, red, which contains flavonoids with antioxidant and anti-platelet properties thought to reduce deaths from coronary artery disease. If you have managed to kick the alcohol habit, opt for grape juice, which contains flavonoids similar to those in red wine.
  • Mix sweet potato with cauliflower as a mash or purée to go with roast chicken. The aim is to mix a high GI vegetable with a low one, to reduce the total carbohydrate level.
  • When making a rice dish such as risotto, reverse your ratio of vegetables to rice: add a little rice to a heap of vegetables. And try grating raw vegetables such as carrots and courgettes into the dish at the last moment – it adds texture and you get the benefit of all those raw phytonutrients.
  • Don’t give up on those whey-protein smoothies – they are still the most effective way of getting high-value biological protein.

the 2018 La Jolla Concours Best of Show award was presented to the Mullin Automotive Museum for their 1939 Bugatti Type 57SC Aravis Cabriolet.

The Mullin Museum is a must see, they have an incredible collection of Bugatti. Probably the 2nd best collection you will ever be able to see, and probably the only Bugatti collection in the USA available to the public.

http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2012/01/mullin-museum-what-it-looked-like-from.html  for a quick look

http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/search/label/Mullin%20Museum  for all the galleries from when I was there in 2012

and for a more thorough gallery of this car http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2011/12/beautiful-bugattis-from-mullin-museum.html  and that’s why I didn’t take another set of photos… there isn’t much reason to look at two sets of the same car.

My trip to Wadduwa

I just returned home after a 3 day South Asian Regional Workshop on Resource Mobilization. It was a good workshop as it took RM strategies to the next level and looked at operationalizing them. As Strategic Planning / Organization Development consultants we often highlight the strategy for resource mobilization; be it venture capital, angel fund or gearing in the private sector to institutional fund raising and linking with CSR in the development sector.

What was most interesting was the cases we went through, and going through a logical process which led to ones resource mobilization strategy. The workshop was facilitated by a retired general from the Indian army and he was a good facilitator who kept the attention of a group of 50 people for 3 days. It is important that we as consultants keep up with new trends as well as take time out to reflect on our ability to continually add value to our clients by increasing our body of knowledge.

We also learned of new ideas and trends in the field of resource mobilization and were very useful given the current global economic situation. Looking forward to taking the learning’s to my clients in the near future.

I also got a very small project in the financial services industry while I was at the workshop. It is from an old client who has the habit of not giving me too much lead time for projects: there goes my week end. So I am going straight to facilitating a strategy workshop in the financial industry over the weekend.

reACT Trainer Total Body Circuit Workout

One of the best tools we have at our disposal at Workout Anytime is the reACT Trainer.  Staff who know how to use the product properly and teach others to use it can make a great impression on any member or guest and help to differentiate their club from competitors.

Although the reACT Trainer is a lower body and core trainer it is easy to create full body circuits using the reACT Trainer along with the key upper body movements including:

Horizontal Press (chest press of some type)

Horizontal Pull (Row of some type)

Overhead Press

Vertical Pull – (some type of vertical pulling movement)

Here is a sample reACT Trainer Total Body Circuit:

Interested in opening your own WORKOUT ANYTIME?

Think big. Keep it simple. Do it with integrity.”

Those are the guiding words of John Quattrocchi, co-founder of WORKOUT ANYTIME. Together with Steve Strickland, John and Steve have drawn from their 40 years of industry knowledge to create a proven, ready-to-run business opportunity for your success.

Proven Formula – The WORKOUT ANYTIME system operates with low-overhead and delivers high customer satisfaction. Our clubs fit into a range of retail spaces, can be run by a tiny staff, and offer the best workout per square foot in the industry. Unprofitable amenities like the pool, spa, courts, aerobics classes, and childcare have been eliminated in favor of a $15 no-commitment price that keeps members onboard month after month after month.

“People join a club to lose weight, build strength and feel better,” explains CEO Steve Strickland. “But eventually, they fall off because of two things: high price and inconvenience. We built a system that offers an unbeatable workout, an inexpensive recurring payment, and 24-7 neighborhood convenience.”

Matrix Equipment – Top equipment is a crucial component of the WORKOUT ANYTIME formula. Steve Strickland’s career experience in both the equipment and club sides of the industry has guided the equipment selection and floor plan. The WORKOUT ANYTIME fitness layout ensures that members never have to wait for the much-desired Matrix treadmills (10+) and cardio gear.

Easy to Get Started – Franchisees usually join WORKOUT ANYTIME with little or no experience in the fitness industry. Some even keep their existing jobs. Yet, our turnkey systems, vendor agreements, equipment sourcing and leasing support make it easy to get started and easy to succeed. Here’s how our ready-to-run approach guides you every step of the way:

Site Selection and Lease Negotiation

– We maintain a network of experienced real estate brokers nationwide who specialize in tenant representation
– Site selection/lease negotiation service offered at no-cost to franchise owner
– In most cases WORKOUT ANYTIME Franchisees receive a generous tenant improve allowance (cash), and up to 6-months free rent per deal
– WORKOUT ANYTIME’s site criteria includes demographics, access, parking, visibility, tenant mix, competition, and the economics of your club

Find out more here. 

Berberine – for Cancer Prevention, Anxiety, Depression, Increased Fat Burning, and More!

Berberine – for Cancer Prevention, Anxiety, Depression, Increased fat burning, and more!

Berberine is a yellow alkaloid found in several plants/herbs such as goldenseal and phellodendron.   It is a powerful plant chemical with proven antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, and immune enhancing properties.    Herbs containing berberine have a long history of effective use and there is considerable science backing these uses.
It is also extremely helpful for treatment of seasonal allergies traveler’s diarrhea, food poisoning, and as an oral hypoglycemic for Type 2 diabetes.

As per Dr. Michael Murray Berberine has been shown to: 
  • Produce results in clinical trials in improving Type 2 diabetes on par or better than conventional drugs including metformin.
  • Improve blood lipid levels better than statins.
  • Lower blood pressure in many subjects as well as any class of antihypertensive medication.
  • Improve liver function and promote anti-obesity effects.
  • Exert significant beneficial effects on digestive health and the microbiome.
  • Produce very encouraging experimental data in a wide range of modern health issues including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and others.
How does Berberine work?

Berberine activates adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK).  AMPK is sometimes referred to as a “metabolic master switch” because it plays an important role in regulating metabolism.

AMPK causes a cascade of effects within cells involved with maintaining energy homeostasis.  AMPK helps shift energy towards cellular repair and maintenance.   It has many of the same effects as increasing exercise while at the same time restricting caloric intake.

Other benefits of Berberine include:
  • Slowing the release of free fatty acids to help prevent harmful fat deposits
  • Promoting insulin, leptin, and adiponectin function for a healthy metabolism
  • Supporting healthy blood sugar levels already in the normal range
  • Promoting healthy insulin sensitivity
  • Promoting healthy gut microflora
  • Supporting healthy lipid metabolism
  • Stimulating the release of nitric oxide for healthy blood flow
Berberine Helps Ease Anxiety and Depression

Another benefit of AMPK is that it protects neurons and increases key neurotransmitters which improves brain function and psychological well-being.  So, it should not be surprising that several studies have shown that Berberine is very useful for anxiety and depression.

Berberine and Cancer Prevention

Berberine slows cancer growth and causes cancer cell death through a variety of mechanisms: tumor cell apoptosis and cell cycle arrest, inhibits blood vessel growth to tumors, inhibition of tumor cellular invasion and metastases (spread), etc.
One of the main anti-cancer targets that is inhibited by berberine is NF-kappa B. NF-kappa B is one of the most important proteins in our cells, acting as a key switch in the development and progression of inflammation and cancer.
·       Cancer (and precancerous cells) often have a permanently activated NF-kappa B, which keeps the cells proliferating and prevents them from dying (apoptosis.)
·       Chronic inflammation can also be a result of activated NF-kappa B, and we know that chronic inflammation can lead to cancer growth
·       Additionally, Berberine sensitizes cancer cells to the effects of radiation but NOT of normal cells. So Berberine may make radiation therapy more effective. 

Berberine also inhibits the tendency of cancer cells to become drug resistant over time by inhibiting the cellular membrane proteins that pump drugs out of the cell. When Berberine is taken with numerous chemotherapy drugs, studies have shown that they work synergistically to fight cancer.
Contraindications for Berberine

·       Displaces bilirubin and should not be administered to jaundiced neonates (may increase bilirubin levels due to displacement of bilirubin from albumin)
·       May cause a prolonged QT (a variable in cardiac electrical conduction) in patients with underlying heart disease
Drug Interactions

While Berberine is quite safe and well-tolerated, it may be contraindicated if you’re taking medications.  For example, Berberine may hinder absorption of tetracycline and other similar antibiotics, rendering them ineffective. Also, because Berberine significantly inhibits CYP3A enzymes — enzymes needed to metabolize most drugs — it can lower the clearance of medications, which in turn can augment their effect. This can lead to overdose, the risks of which will vary depending on the drug in question.

Berberine increases the effects of drugs that lower blood sugar so it is critical that you not mix Berberine with these drugs unless under the supervision of a physician.  IT is important to note that Berberine produces all the benefits of Metformin with much lower risks!

Sources of Berberine

Berberine is available as an isolated supplement OR through certain herbs such as goldenseal or Phellodendron.    Nexrutine is a patented Phellodendron Extract with high levels of Berberine that is particularly effective at reducing joint pain, improving mood, and reducing prostate inflammation and likely prostate cancer risk.   Phellodendron also has has a long history of being used to treat prostate inflammation and prostatitis.

Georgia Bloggers Meet-up

I was thrilled to get the opportunity to meet up with some other Georgia bloggers yesterday thanks to the organizational efforts of Jayne at Smart Kids. You see, even though I’ve been MIA from the blogging world a lot this year, blogging is always on my mind. Really.

This year has been a whirlwind as I’ve juggled teaching full-time, parenting, and starting my PhD program. Virtually everything I’ve written this year has included a bibliography, and that hasn’t left a lot of energy for my blog. But when I’ve been researching and writing for my academic pursuits, I’ve been learning all about theories of professional learning and how our online encounters fit into that. I must say, there hasn’t been a lot written about teacher professional learning through blogging, and that’s a gap I intend to fill. More people need to know about the amazing teachers supporting each other through social media. They need to know how that process is 10 times better than any other form of professional development and how it empowers teachers to become better at their craft by pursuing their passions and interests.

So when I say that blogging is always on my mind, I really mean it. It’s been at the heart of every paper I’ve written as I work on my PhD. When I got the chance to go meet some fellow bloggers, I couldn’t say no.

The meet up was at Georgia School Supply in Macon, GA–about an hour and a half away from where I live. I was excited to go and meet some fellow bloggy friends because it’s always so good to be able to match names and faces and to remember that there are some real live people with amazing ideas that are working in classrooms, too. I’d never met any of the people there, so it was a real treat.

We talked about our secret lives as bloggers and TpT’ers, shared tips and strategies, made business plans, swapped products, and had an all around great time. I love meeting other bloggers and learning how much we have in common. Everyone I met yesterday was wonderful, and I look forward to keeping in touch with these new friends!

I hope to be blogging more this week as my student teacher takes over EVERYTHING from now through spring break (woot! woot!). In the meantime, be sure to check out the blogs from the amazing people I met yesterday!

Jayne, Kelly, Angie, Stacy, Tara, Valerie

PhotobucketThe Teacher Wife

Funky Fresh Firsties

...And They All Fall Down...

Georgia Grown Kiddo's

Jennifer, Carol, Kathy, Meghan, Kim, Irma, Megan


 
 

Michelin, Jessica, Greg, Erin, Alison

 

WORKOUT ANYTIME in Albuquerque Business First

WORKOUT ANYTIME in Albuquerque Business First

WORKOUT ANYTIME VP of Development Randy Trotter was recently featured in the Albuquerque Business First. The article begins with information about WORKOUT ANYTIME and why Albuquerque is ripe for the concept to enter the market and grow. Randy is quoted about the franchise opportunity and they provide information about financing needed to open a location. The article goes on to touch on the real estate footprint. The article is ended by providing Randy’s cell phone number for anyone interested in a franchise.
You can view the full article here.
 

The trip to Hyderabad India

I am starting my next assignment on the 3rd of October 2009 in Hyderabad India. This will be my 4th trip to India in the last 2 years. Going to india is a funny thing for me as I cant wait to get there. Once I am there I get the feeling that I need to get back home (Sri Lanka) soon.

I have applied for my visa nd waiting to collect it. will do it tomorrow.

Food Repair Guide: Baking Part 2

Swiss roll

If you are making a Swiss roll, then line the tin with greaseproof paper, but do ensure that you grease the paper well before pouring in the mixture. Try also to ensure that the oven shelf is level or all the mixture will run to one side. If it does, all is not lost, although it will be rather difficult to roll. When you turn the Swiss roll out, do so onto a tea cloth or piece of greaseproof paper that has been coated well with icing sugar. If not well sugared, the Swiss roll will stick to the cloth or paper and you will have a terrible time rolling it. If you have not greased the paper properly, you will also have a terrible time peeling it off, but patience will usually win the day. Do not worry if the roll is not entirely perfect. As long as you can keep about one third of it intact, that will do for theoutside and no one will see the inside. Dredge it thoroughly with sugar or icing sugar. Or, if it has really fallen apart, pre-slice it before serving so that no one can see.

Failed sponge cake

If, despite your best endeavours, your sponge cake, be it light or rich, is dry, crumbly, flat, lumpy or generally unappealing, do not throw it out. If you are desperate for a complete cake or dessert, cut the sponge into very thin layers, sprinkle each with a little liqueur if for a dessert, and layer very generously with filling so that the cake gets smothered. Then top or ice equally generously and no one will ever know. If you do not need the cake too urgently, keep it to make trifles, tipsy cakes or anything that needs a sponge base. Buried deep enough and soaked comprehensively enough, even the most revolting cake will become quite palatable. Alternatively, crumble it and use it as a topping. When toasted, the crumbs can be used as decoration for almost anything in need of disguise.

Diet Start

This does not apply only to plain sponges. Orange or lemon sponges would be a delicious base for any cream dessert, chocolate, coffee or even gingerbread can be used as a base for ‘a trifle with a difference’. Indeed, coffee and chocolate cake could be sliced into fingers, thoroughly dried out in the oven and sandwiched together with some butter icing as biscuits. Any of the above could be used as the base for a baked pudding, but remember that the cake will be sweeter than bread or rice so reduce the amount of sugar.

Failed fruit cakes

Failed fruit cakes are just as adaptable.

Rich fruit cakes often get old and dry out. Do not abandon them to the birds. Cut deep slits in the top of the cake and feed with a mixture of brandy and sherry, or, if you do not want to be too alcoholic, a fruit wine or good fruit cordial. The amount you give the cake will depend on how dry it is, but you can always cut it in half and test the middle.

The same principle can be applied to lighter fruit cakes although one needs to be more temperate. A large quantity of fruit will soak up the liquid and make the whole mixture moist but sponge will merely become soggy, so the greater the proportion of sponge to fruit the less liquid it should be given. It is usually better to ice the cake after it has been — to conceal the tell tale signs.

If a rich fruit cake really is dry beyond redemption, break it up in a bowl, add some suet and a goodly measure of liquor, leave it to soak for 24 hours, then squash it well into a bowl and steam it as a Christmas pudding. It will be a little crumbly and somewhat lighter than the standard, but many people prefer it that way!

Icings

The disaster-prone cook should steer clear of all but glace, butter and royalicing — fondants and their kind are for those with time and expertise to spare.

Glace icing

Glace icing is quick and simple but messy. It is not easy to get the proportion of icing sugar to liquid right to achieve `spreadability’ without `runability’.

Always put whatever you are going to ice on a rack so that the extra can run off without getting stuck in a thick frill round the bottom of the cake. Arm yourself with a pot of boiling water and several metal spatulas or flat knives to smooth out the lumps. Inevitably, the wretched stuff will never quite cover the top of the cake in the first run, and when you add the next bit, the first will have dried and the whole thing will go lumpy. Only practice is going to perfect your technique, but smoothing with a spatula dipped in boiling water does help.

Always be ready to decorate or disguise the top with something other than icing — even if only gold and silver balls. Grated chocolate is a good alternative.

Marbling

Marbling the top, if it is reasonable, will distract the eye from any minor blemishes and is easy and impressive in itself. Run a little melted chocolate, or different coloured icing, in parallel lines across the top of the cake. Then, before it is dried, take a knife point and pull it across the cake top in straight lines at right angles to the first lines, thus pulling the lines into a feathered shape. Try it a couple of times on greaseproof paper before you launch into the cake.

If all fails and you make a complete mess of the icing, wait till it is dry, then scrape the whole lot off and start again.

Butter icing

Butter icing is the world’s easiest, but it is very rich. Many people prefer to use shortening as the fat base, which keeps it much lighter. The only hazard with butter icing is to get enough flavour into it. Like brandy butter (which is, of course, only a butter icing) nothing is nastier than a butter icing that tastes like sweetened butter. Therefore, taste after you have followed the recipe. If you have used a particularly strongly flavoured butter, you will need more chocolate, lemon or whatever you are using. Never try to spread it straight out of the fridge.

Royal icing

Royal icing is also simple, using egg white rather than water or syrup to moisten the icing sugar. Add a little lemon juice to counteract the sweetness and do not forget a drop or two of glycerine to prevent it hardening totally. If you do have a cake with unglycerined icing, you would be better advised to saw your way through it with a bread knife rather than to try and cut it, when it will shatter and ricochet all over the drawing room and Great Aunt Ethel. Royal icing can always be broken off and replaced with a new batch. Use a small amount of icing to experiment with the colour.

And More: In One Sentence™ – “The RX 470 or The RX 480”? [A Very Short Comparison with Sources, Currently Text-Only]

As done a previous “In One Sentence™” article here at The Blog, I’ve been wanting to make posts once in a while that catered to those without much time, or without much patience, or who [like me] suffer from conditions like ADD/ADHD, or perhaps those who ‘just want a quick answer’… Thus, my beginning to write posts that literally ‘sum up’ concepts, comparisons or reviews “in one sentence”, made especially for those ‘in a hurry’…
For this post, I answer the quite-specific Hardware Upgrading question [mainly as it was one that I was asking myself, so I thought I would share my recent findings with others], ‘should you get the AMD Radeon RX 470 GPU or the RX 480’..?

The Short Version

“Should I buy the 470 or the 480?”

The answer, in-one-sentence, is:

“Overall, there is anywhere from a 0-20 frame difference in performance at 1080p between the RX 470 and the RX 480, but with the average difference between the two being about 10 fps at that resolution; so, if that difference is worth the price differential to you (which is anywhere from zero dollars to fifty dollars, depending on where you purchase it from and what model, etc) – then get the 480 – but if that difference is not worth the price to you, stick with the slightly-less-powerful-but-extremely-high-value-for-the-money-right-now RX 470.”

~ The Game Tips And More Blog’s Answer, In One Sentence™

The Long Version

Again, as done a previous “In One Sentence™” article here at The Blog, I’ve been wanting to make posts once in a while that catered to those without much time, or without much patience, or who [like me] suffer from conditions like ADD/ADHD, or perhaps those who ‘just want a quick answer’… Thus, my beginning to write posts that literally ‘sum up’ concepts, comparisons or reviews “in one sentence”, made especially for those ‘in a hurry'[just like how I spent tons of time on the very creative and original titling of these types of posts..].

Where was I? Oh yes, here then is my summation for a Hardware Purchase Suggestion, a very specific answer for a very specific question in Hardware Upgrading [arrived at after many hours of reading, researching, watching benchmarking videos, all while getting distracted by games, health issues and non-computery-or-techie events in life… but you can skip all of that Life Drama of your own and skip all of the time Researching on your own and just ‘get to the jist’ right here], in one sentence – the answer to the question:

“Should I buy the 470 or the 480?”

The answer, in-one-sentence, is:

“Overall, there is anywhere from a 0-20 frame difference in performance at 1080p between the RX 470 and the RX 480, but with the average difference between the two being about 10 fps at that resolution; so, if that difference is worth the price differential to you (which is anywhere from zero dollars to fifty dollars, depending on where you purchase it from and what model, etc) – then get the 480 – but if that difference is not worth the price to you, stick with the slightly-less-powerful-but-extremely-high-value-for-the-money-right-now RX 470.”

~ The Game Tips And More Blog’s Answer, In One Sentence™

The answer above is based on an average viewpoint of all reviews read and videos watched. Of course, there is always fluctuation in the average amount (sometimes the fps was exactly the same, sometimes it was a quick change in difference [eg. in a video benchmark] by 20fps or slightly more for a short period of time). Also, for some people, money isn’t the issue and they want the higher-shelf RX 480 for the capability it offers. No problem, I’m just presenting what I have seen so far, between the 470 and the 480. If you can “easily” afford the faster product, go for that – but for those who are in the situation where $20 or $40 is a “big step” in price at the moment for them, but they really want to upgrade their aging hardware “now” at the same time – then this summation is for them.

As I always say, if you are looking to upgrade any hardware in your system – and if you have the time to do it:

Do your own research, read lots of reviews, check out prices in multiple places/sites/stores and find out which is the best path for you, at that point in time. No matter what the part is, spend as much as you “comfortably” can (to make it more ‘future proof’). What is the most important/best advice I can give, from 20+ years of technical expertise and real-world experience in the field presented without making a new paragraph so it would be easier to read..? It is this: No matter what computer part you are purchasing, if you are not in a place where “money isn’t an issue”, then watch for “The Jump” in price – that leap or huge gap in prices – and purchase a part that is just in front of that gap (before the large price increase); that is the “Price Sweet Spot”, where you are getting ‘the most bang for your buck’ and other cliche phrases. Most of all though – have fun learning and doing it all!

This Message Brought To You By Troy from The Game Tips And More Blog And Free Websites And Other Things That Made It All Happen

List of Some Sources Researched (not including video benchmark sources):

http://www.techspot.com/review/1220-amd-radeon-rx-470/page2.html
http://www.gamersnexus.net/hwreviews/2544-sapphire-rx-470-platinum-review-benchmark-vs-480-gtx-1060/page-4
http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-reviews/73155-amd-radeon-rx-470-4gb-review-4.html
http://www.pcworld.com/article/3104044/components-graphics/amd-radeon-rx-470-review-a-great-graphics-card-with-a-terrible-price.html?page=3
http://wccftech.com/amd-radeon-rx-480-rx-470-3dmark-performance/
https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/ASUS/RX_470_STRIX_OC/10.html
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-radeon-rx-470,4703-4.html

Battlefield Play4Free – PlayTesting The AEK-971 Assault Rifle (One Full Round – Myanmar – Raw Gameplay [Unedited] Video)

Battlefield Play4Free and The Daily Draw

Just a quick primer for those that don’t know; Battlefield Play4Free is a Free-To-Play title, which means it doesn’t cost anything to join in, but you can purchase weapons, armor, clothing and other items for Real Money. In this game, you do so by purchasing “Play4Free Funds” that you can then use in the in-game Store. There is also a nice feature offered where you can win ‘prizes’ (weapons, armor, clothing, etc) from a game called The Daily Draw at the main Battlefield Play4Free website. You can play once every day, choosing a card from a random draw of eight and the card you choose will be an item ‘underneath’.

The items possible to win range from temporary one-day-use-only weapons and clothing, to seven-day-use ones, to permanent items your character (Soldier) can use in the game forever (for example, a scope that can be attached to a gun for that soldier for all time). This is great for those who can’t afford to purchase many in-game items, as it not only offers the possibility of getting some great gear ‘forever’, it also gives a nice preview of a weapon, mod or clothing, so that you can see what it will look like/feel like, if you decide to splurge and purchase it for yourself (supporting the game and developers as well) sometime in the future. The Daily Draw also gives a chance to win ‘Boosts’, where you can earn extra Credits [for instance], as seen in the screenshot below:

The AEK-971 Assault Rifle

I recently won the AEK-971 in The Daily Draw on my Assault class soldier and thought I’d try it out and see how it felt and quickly write a post about it [I call these ‘PlayTests’]. Now, I am not a gun expert or know a lot about the statistics of the guns, so I will mainly be discussing briefly here how the gun ‘feels’ and ‘plays’, especially compared to the default G3A4 Assault Rifle.

The AEK-971 unlocks nice and early at Soldier Level 3, but the main reason for this seems to be that it isn’t supposed to be very different from the Default Assault Class Rifle. As you can see from the comparison above, which is the main Store/Inventory screen information for the weapons, the only real difference is the amount of damage it can do. It has the same accuracy rating as the G3A4, the same range, and the same amount of ammo in the mags. After winning it in The Daily Draw, I played a few rounds with AEK-971 and originally recorded a couple of full matches. Here is one full match, shared unedited for you [a ‘Raw Gameplay’ video], testing out the AEK-971:

I was also testing out the Trial of CyberLink’s PowerDirector 12 for editing.
A Review article about that application – with Tips – Coming Soon™!

Despite not being listed as any more accurate than the G3, I felt more ‘capable’ with the AEK (as though I could ‘put up a fight’ a lot better), probably due to the increased damage. It feels a little more accurate too, even though it isn’t really supposed to be, according to the Store/Inventory info for the gun. So, I figured this is a great time to do some testing! [Yay, tests! lol]

AEK-971 Accuracy Analysis

I did some basic analysis on the recoil pattern of this rifle and it is indeed similar to the default assault rifle, but the AEK is ever-so-slightly more accurate, in my opinion. Here is an example of a test I did, a screenshot of the spread patterns, collecting the bullet markings, below:

Coloured spray paint marking the AEK-971’s Bullet Spread, on average
(Click to see Full Size)
  • The left side is the spread while ‘shooting from the hip’, not using the sights, just standing there holding down the trigger  [the spray painted arrow is red-coloured as in, ‘try not to do this at all if you can, unless in very close quarters combat’]
  • The right side is the spread while ‘zoomed in’, that is, using the sights on the gun (it would use a scope if there was one), still just standing there holding down the trigger  [the spray painted arrow is yellow-coloured as in, ‘try to avoid this’]
  • In the middle is the spread while zoomed in/using the sights, crouching down, still holding down the trigger though – but also now compensating for the recoil of the gun (attempting to contain the spread into a small area) – in this case, slowly pulling DOWN the mouse while firing since the recoil of this gun pulls the barrel UP  [the spray painted box is green-coloured as in, it is recommended to do this (even better if you can tap the trigger instead of holding it down)]

As you can see, even though the rated accuracy for this gun is “Low”, you can get a pretty decent containment of the spread, by kneeling down, using the sights, and compensating for the recoil by moving the mouse accordingly [this little tip helps with all guns].

In most games, you can try to compensate for the recoil of a gun by slowly moving the mouse in the opposing direction to where the barrel travels. For instance, if the recoil pulls the barrel of the gun left, when shooting, moving the mouse to the right then, will cancel out some of the recoil and make for a smaller spread of bullets and easier/faster repositioning for the next shot. Try to remember that each gun will be  different in it’s recoil and which direction you should compensate, when using each weapon though. 
[Note that due to game programmers making bullets ‘miss’ (no matter what), in an attempt to imitate reality (which has imperfections in the gun and bullets, air changes, etc), it will never be possible to fully compensate/correct for the ‘spread’ of bullets in a gun (this goes for most games)]. 



In my tests, the Assault Default G3A4 seemed to pull up and away to the left slightly, when shooting it. Holding down the trigger longer, the gun climbs way up into the sky easily (hence the “Low” Accuracy rating, I assume). For the AEK-971, it does still pull up, but it does not pull to the left in the same way as the G3A4, especially when using the sights. It sort of does a light ‘stepping’ to the left and then to the right, somewhat randomly [whatever the algorithm is in the programming]. This, to me, makes it ever-so-slightly more accurate in the ‘feel’ of the gun, because while it still ‘goes all over the place’ when shooting, it sort of compensates for itself just a bit, and the end result is more of a direct climb up in the recoil, something that felt, to me, easier to compensate for than with the Assault default G3. (I assume this very slight change in the spread/recoil is not enough to win this gun a “Medium” rating in Accuracy, but it is enough to make you have to Level to 3 in order to be able to purchase it..).

Close-To-Medium Range Kill with the AEK-971 in Myanmar. Even with the ‘side-stepping’ that the gun does (and the enemy strafed around as he ran out towards me from behind the rock in the center of the screen) I still got the kill, mostly due to the Very High Damage Rating of the weapon
(Click to see Full Size)

In Conclusion

Overall, the AEK-971 was similar to the default Assault class rifle, the G3A4, when playing. To me, it did feel slightly more accurate, but not by much. If you are having a really hard time hitting people with the G3A4, your accuracy won’t increase very much at all if you purchased this rifle. However, if you are getting used to the default Assault gun, this one packs a lot more punch, and you’ll be getting more kills overall if you upgrade to it. Because I recently won this gun Permanently [during the course of compiling this article, yes it does happen in The Daily Draw! woot] I can’t see the current price for this rifle anymore, to purchase it from the in-game Store; but last time checking, it was only 300 Credits to try it out for one full day. It was also listed as [what I call] ‘Earnable’ because, if you can rack up 45,000 Credits, you won’t have to pay for upgrading to this rifle with any Real Money at all (you can just use the Credits). If you did buy some Play4Free Funds and have 1,250 to spare, you can purchase it at anytime (not having to wait until Soldier Level 3), permanently. So in closing, PlayTesting the AEK-971, I found it slightly better than the Default Assault Class Rifle, even if it only ‘felt’ that way due to the higher damage it does.

Long Range Kill with the AEK-971 in Myanmar. The thin iron sights of the gun (default sights) help a lot with targeting farther away. With the Very High Damage Rating – even though the gun has a Low Accuracy Rating – single-shot/tap shooting can still make it lethal at range, when needed
(Click to see Full Size)

Have fun trying it out for yourself sometime and See You In The Games!

Gameplay Disclaimer: Any gameplay videos or animations uploaded are only one example of one possible path of game play and is not representative of the gameplay experience of the entirety of the game material as it is non-repeatable in exactness (movements, actions, viewpoints, etc) to a high degree of accuracy (especially in regards to online multiplayer play and interactions) and therefore is not a representation of a large portion of the game content (this includes complete Walkthroughs/Playthroughs, Raw Gameplay Footage and Tutorials). All material and content uploaded attempts to respect copyright and is presented for Educational and Entertainment purposes only, utilized under Fair Use and can be construed as Free Advertising. No copyright infringement is intended and cannot be inferred. Any possible representation approaching any infringement, to those seeking infringement action, requires double notification and will be honoured by permanent removal of the infringing material. This information exists for entertainment and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical attention.

How to Get Rid of Cellulite

Although the vast majority of woman have some cellulite somewhere on their body – nobody likes it!   So what the heck is cellulite anyway?  Cellulite is pockets of fat that have squeezed between bands of tissue, called septae, that are located below your skin.

Women of all races get it, while virtually no men do. That’s because the septae of men are different from women. Men have stronger bands that are cross-hatched allowing them to keep fat in place more effectively. Women have weaker, vertically oriented septae that allows fat to squeeze through easier.

Both thin and heavy women have cellulite. However the higher your level of body fat the more noticeable the dimpling will tend to be.  Unfortunately dieting does necessarily help eliminate cellulite. Losing weight helps sometime, but in some cases weight loss makes cellulite worse.   This occurs when skin becomes saggy after significant weight loss.

There is a definite genetic component to cellulite which does run in families.
Hormones also are part of the equation with cellulite, but science has not figured out exactly how hormones contribute to cellulite.  What is known is that cellulite starts at puberty which is a time that many hormone levels change significantly in females.

Getting Rid of Cellulite

Getting rid of cellulite is easier said than done.  Even treatments like Liposuction are not necessarily effective.    In fact Liposuction often makes cellulite worse by leaving your skin even more puckered looking than it was before.

Dermatologists are quick to point out that there is no magic cure for cellulite, but there are ways to make it look better!   Two of the keys are working out and dropping excess weight sensibly (1lbs per week! – faster weight loss can exacerbate the problem!)

Resistance training is key.   As you increase your muscle size and decrease body fat your skin looks smoother.     If you lose fat while you simultaneously build muscle your cellulite will improve.
It is also important to work on the health of your skin as you age to make it more elastic so that as you lose fat the skin pulls tight rather than sagging.    

Certain topical treatments that increase collagen in the skin, like Retin-A or creams with retinol or vitamin C, cannot hurt and may help.   

Maintaining adequate water intake is also key for skin health and elasticity – 6 – 8 glasses of water per day is key.

If you have faithfully tried everything and your cellulite is driving you crazy and you are prepared to spend some serious dollars – Cellulaze – is an FDA approved therapy.  Cellulaze involves inserting a lazer under the skin and projects heats in three directions and literally liquefies fat as it cuts the septae around fat cells which can reduce the puckering while also encouraging collagen regrowth.

Cellulaze claims a 70 – 80% improvement in cellulite that lasts a full year.  It is most effective for active women with mild to moderate cellulite who are not significantly overweight and who also have good muscle tone.

Unfortunately, Cellulaze is not cheap – costing $5,000 – $7,000 depending on the size of the area being treated.

Quick Tip: Can’t Record Your Game At All? (64-bit/32-bit Fix)

Just a quick tip for when it seems like you cannot record your game ‘at all’:
64-bit computing is still relatively new for home users, which means that not all 64-bit hardware and applications communicate without problems. Many game recording apps simply can’t record games that operate in 64-bit modes. Just look for a 32-bit version of your game/gameclient and then your game recording program (no matter which one you use, be it Dxtory, Bandicam, MSI Afterburner..) should be able to record the screen. [For games that use Java (eg. Minecraft), download the 32-bit Java at their website]

See you in the games!

Becoming a GI Joe

All carbohydrates have a value on what is known as the `glycaemic index’ (GI), which indicates how quickly that carbohydrate is metabolized by the body and converted into glucose. The lower a food’s GI, the longer it takes to be converted. Foods with the highest GIs are the ones that will have the most profound and immediate effect on your blood-sugar levels. All the carbohydrates on a weight- loss and insulin-balancing regime should come from the lower ranges.

There are two indexes: the glucose standard, which rates glucose as having a GI of 100 and the white bread standard, which is based on white bread being equal to 100. Other carbohydrates are assigned comparative ratios based on these figures. It doesn’t really matter which index you adhere to, for they both give a pretty good – and sometimes surprising – insight into the speed with which certain carbohydrates are assimilated into the bloodstream.

Diet Start

Below are a few GI values of common foods, based on the glucose standard. Of course you are not expected to remember each specific food’s value, so to make things easier, opposite are two simple tables showing you how to classify fruit and vegetables into those with a low GI value (under 20), those with a medium value (20-60) and those with a high value (over 60).

Density values

Each carbohydrate can also be evaluated by its density value. This is the amount of usable carbohydrate in relation to fibre and water content – the more fibre and water a vegetable or fruit contains, the less usable carbohydrates it will have. The most dense carbohydrate foods are pulses, wholegrains and starchy vegetables, particularly when they are cooked and their fibre is broken down, these will raise your insulin levels, so always be aware of this. The table opposite contains a list of low-density carbohydrates that should form the basis of your carb intake on a low-carb diet.

Not only do many fruits feature highly on the GI scale, but a few should also carry a carbohydrate density warning sign. Bananas, dried fruit and concentrated fruit juices are all a bad idea if you are trying to balance your blood sugar levels. It is best to avoid these totally until your blood sugar and weight have normalized, and then carefully re-introduce them into your diet.

Focus on fibrous vegetables that can be eaten raw or steamed – the type that lose a lot of water whilst cooking. This will mean increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables, such as Swiss chard, green cabbage, kale, bok choy, rocket, spinach and endive.

It’s Not Just You™: AMD’s Crimson Drivers, Radeon ReLive Not Working At First [Possible Fix]

Just a quick post before I go to bed here, that I wanted to share about the AMD Crimson Drivers that I got notified about just a bit ago, which included AMD’s “ReLive”, their new Game [and Desktop] Recording utility – ‘built-in’ to their 16.12 Drivers… For those who couldn’t get it working right away (I see posts about it already in the Official AMD Forums), I couldn’t either… And although I eventually did, I wanted to let others know, if you are having issues with it: It’s Not Just You™

I was already starting to get tired when I saw a notification of the Driver Update – and I had no idea there was a nifty Game Recording ‘app’ incoming with it [I haven’t been reading much lately, I have another Cold for pete’s sake!]. For AMD GPU owners, waiting patiently to see if AMD was going to come out with their own Game Recording utility – it’s here! The future is now!

Check out AMD’s Video on their ReLive edition of Radeon here: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRSm12lwRe4

[I really wanted to start Testing it all out tonight, running Benchmarks and collecting Data for a TestRun or a Quality Test with it; but my sleepyness is actually building and getting the better of me, so I better go soon – I wanted to share what I did this evening though, to get it working (for me), before I go…]


Without going over the few things I tried first that didn’t work (setting configuration, testing with different games, etc), here’s the steps to take that finally got it running, for me:

  • Download the Latest AMD Drivers via their main Website (http://support.amd.com/)
  • Uninstall the main AMD Drivers via the Control Panel > Programs > Uninstall/Change Program
  • Reboot
  • Install AMD Drivers via the Download from their Website
  • Reboot

That’s it!

After that, even though I have a 200 Series* AMD GPU at the time of this writing**, I was able to get ReLive up and running, even playing a little bit with the configuration and making a couple of short test recordings, before I came here to write this quick ‘tip’ of what might help get it going for others… It’s a larger ‘step’ (messing with Drivers, as opposed to just messing with Configuration/Settings); but I always like to Troubleshoot from the smallest steps first (eg. changing some settings) to larger steps (eg. re-installing software) to huge steps (eg. OS reinstallation, hardware changes). Thankfully, it started working just fine after only a bit of a ‘larger step’ taken.


Although with the most recent versions of Windows you don’t always have to Reboot it when making changes, it helps to get everything ‘in order’ in the background, re-initializing all hardware and Drivers fully – which is why many installers/software still get you to do it through their installation programs.

I plan on putting the Game Recorder through it’s paces, working on a TestRun and a QualityTest, to come in the future here at The Blog – for now though, hopefully ReLive can get up and working for you, too – good luck, and if you are having troubles with it, remember – It’s Not Just You™!

* The AMD page on ReLive at their main website (http://www.amd.com/en-us/innovations/software-technologies/radeon-software/gaming/radeon-relive) shows only 400 Series GPUs as ‘Officially Compatible’. Although it does not state ‘it will not work with earlier Series’, it is unknown 100% at this time if it is possible, hence my mentioning it above

** Disclaimer and Personal Veracity Statement: Although I currently own an AMD GPU, I have owned NVIDIA GPUs in the past and will do so in the future. I have no personal preference between the two, purchasing one or the other as Upgrades depending on my needs at the time and my financial limitations at the time I choose to Upgrade. I have not and will not receive any compensation for mentioning or talking about either companies’ products. I am merely an enthusiastic user (of both).

My Trip to Thailand

When traveling east from Sri Lanka I generally travel through Thailand and transit in Bangkok. However I rarely get an opportunity to meet the people on the road as I am in a rush of checking in and out of hotels and flights. In April I was in Bangkok for a training assignment and had the opportunity to interact with people in Bangkok. I enjoyed the interaction with shop keepers and street vendors. However, I saw a significant difference in the pulse of the ordinary people. There was a more tense feeling with quite a high degree of uncertainty given the political situation in Thailand. Even though the current Prime Minister has promised to hold elections the majority of the Thais feel that the Army has started a war along the Cambodian boarder to postpone or effectively suspend the constitution again.

The fight between the “old traditional Thai power base” and the “modern Thai power base” led by Thaksim. Some of the expatriates I met seem to think that Thailand is getting into a situation or a case of “Thailand having an Army that owns the country”; something similar to Pakistan. The Army seems to have a great say in the lives of the Thai people and the politicians.

Thailand still remains a polite and friendly place to visit, however it seems to have shot itself in the foot regarding the tremendous progress it had made in the economic and democratic frontiers. As I come from a country that has seen decades of civil war I hope that sanity will prevail and the Thai people can sort out their differences and get ahead.

Fast-Track principles

This is a diet, or a way of eating, that will:

  • Lower insulin levels and stabilize blood-sugar levels
  • Banish food cravings
  • Eliminate energy peaks and troughs, and mood swings

Enhance concentration

  • Re-educate you into a way of eating that will increase your vitality and improve your overall health
  • Help your body to burn fat and normalize your weight.

It is vital that you understand the principles of this diet and follow it responsibly. If you are fundamentally healthy, but insulin-resistant and experiencing any ofthe accompanying symptoms, this plan will help you redress the balance and find a level of carbohydrate intake with which your system can cope. The Fast-Track Plan offers you a kick-start and is aimed at women with a BMI of over 35 and men with a BMI of over 25.

Diet Start

For the period of this plan you base your diet on an approximate ratio of 50 per cent high-quality protein/20 per cent low GI carbohydrates/30 per cent healthy fats. You begin the first two weeks of the diet by restricting your carbohydrate intake to 20g (3/4oz), your protein to 150g (5oz) Biological Value and healthy fats to a minimum of 40g (1 1/2oz). On a very simplistic level this means:

  • 3 cups low GI vegetables per day.
  • 1 portions of protein three times per day and portion twice per day as a
    snack. (A portion of protein is the equivalent to the size of your palm.)
  • Around a half to a whole teaspoon of allowable fats at every meal.

Within 48 hours your body will start to burn its own fat as fuel, as your body switches into benign dietary ketosis.

Ketosis

Being in ketosis means that your body burns fat because it isn’t taking in sufficient glucose to meet your energy needs. Under everyday conditions the carbohydrates that you eat are converted to glucose, which is the body’s primary source of energy. Whenever your carbohydrate intake is limited to a certain range, for a long enough period of time, your body will draw on its fat stores — turning this into a source of fuel called ketones. When you burn a larger amount of fat than is immediately needed for energy, the excess ketones are discarded in the urine.

Dietary ketosis has received a bad press because it is often confused with ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition most often associated with insulin- deficient, type 1 diabetes.

Benign dietary ketosis, however, is a natural adjustment to the body’s reduced intake of carbohydrates, as the body shifts its primary source of energy from carbohydrates to stored fat. The presence of insulin keeps ketone production in check so that a mild beneficial ketosis is achieved. Blood-sugar levels are stabilized within a normal range and there is no breakdown of healthy muscle tissue, as long as sufficient protein is included in the diet.

Measuring ketosis

On a rapid weight-loss diet you will usually start to burn fat instead of sugar within the first 48 hours. To measure the ketone levels in your urine, buy urinary test strips, called lypolisis strips, from any pharmacy, which will show you if your carbohydrate/insulin balance is at optimum levels for fat burning. You should do this twice a day: before breakfast and before your evening meal. Your levels need to be between trace and small (0.5-1.5 mmol-l).

Caution: if your levels rise to above moderate (4 mmol-l), you are not eating enough and should increase your low GI carbohydrates until the ketones are reduced to between trace and small (0.5-1.5 mmol-l). Always drink plenty of water: at least eight large glasses per day.

It’s Not Just You™ – Battle.Net Issues with Logging In Today [Notification]

Just a quick post to let others know that if you are having logging in to Battle.Net today (August 1st) that lots of people have been having problems as of this morning. Blizzard has addressed this with a quick note via their twitter, seen at:

https://twitter.com/BlizzardCS/status/760100687111938048

Retry or Go Back To Bed? Hmmm….

For those playing Blizzard/Battle.Net games this weekend, hopefully it will be up soon – just letting you know, It’s Not Just You™ !

Modern Side Table Lamps Design

If you are an artistic creation lover then you must observation for modern side table lamps. It has a funky look which might make you feel as if you are in around future time or in space. Its abstract and artistic design complements the other paintings and art fashionable your home along with elegance and beauty.

If you’ve a woody environment at your home base decorated in Indian style, then western table lamp design is the best choice for you. The western table lamp comes in a cowboy sort of look. Either there is a cowboy along with a horse of just a horse attached on it. This gives a very classy look to the woodsy type of a house.
Country style reminds you of Country music only but you can also find a country style table lamp also. It’s farm animals alike cows, cocks and others designed on it. It is considered to be the most colorful sort of lamp with natural color and scene.

Oriental lamp shows much about Asian culture in its design. The unique Asian roots can be seen in this type of lamp and would best fit if you have a room filled with Asian souvenirs.
Choosing the perfect table lamp for every room should be your concern as their being complementing the living furniture makes out the atmosphere. There are various styled table lamps for your side tables like western table lamp, modern, urban, Asian and nation but to pick the better for every room needs examination and time. Here is a little guideline for you:
Now you have a selection of lamps from which you can choose the best for your place. Take care of the existing decoration of your home when you choose the side table lamps.

Getting Started with a Flipped Classroom

Last week, I shared a bit about why I flipped my classroom, and I got some great questions! Today I want to share a bit more about my process and the logistics for flipping. There are lots of ways to do it, and I’m sure there are many other great ideas out there, but this is what has worked for me so far.

1. Plan your lessons 

a) Does it make sense to flip?
You don’t want to flip for the sake of flipping. I always ask myself, “Would this lesson make sense as a flipped lesson?” There are times when some introductory lessons require lots of hands-on scaffolding, and my answer might be “no.” But other times, when the lesson is mostly information and practice, the flipped model absolutely makes sense.

b) What content must be covered?
I go through my math lesson plan, and determine the content that has to be covered in the video. I’m really selective about this because I want my video to be less than 10 minutes long. It’s still a mini-lesson, after all, and if I go any longer than that, my students will tune out. Plus, even though the video may be 10 minutes, the viewing time could be much longer than that if students are pausing the video to write things down or take notes. I try to keep in mind the idea that less is more.

c) Am I the best person to deliver the content?
Usually my answer is “yes,” but not always. I’ve tried to share videos from Khan Academy or LearnZillion in the flipped model, and the kids just didn’t respond as well to those. They’re more likely to tune in when the video is made by their teacher because they have a personal connection. There were a few times when I’ve used someone else’s videos because the production was significantly better in some regard (e.g., it included songs or humor that I couldn’t pull off). But usually, I make the videos myself.

2. Choose your tools

Once I know the content of my lesson, I decide what method I’ll use to produce the video. I choose from a few different options.

a) Screencasts
Sometimes I have a presentation already created in a flipchart for my ActivBoard, and I can just film my voice interacting with my computer screen on that. My favorite tool for screencasting is Screencast-o-matic. It’s very user-friendly and it uses a yellow circle to highlight your mouse so students know where to focus their attention. The free version works well, but for $15/year, you can get lots more editing and uploading options. If you’re interested in screencasting, I would recommend trying out the free version for a while to see if it’s something you’d like.

b) Whiteboard apps
Usually I use whiteboard apps such as Explain Everything or Educreations to make my flipped lessons. I always create the slides in advance so that I don’t waste precious recording time writing out problems or building models that could simply be explained. Then once all of the slides are in place, I’ll record the audio over them. This approach also allows me to work in pieces, too, because I never know when I’m going to get interrupted.

c) Paper slide shows
I’ve blogged about paper slide shows before here. Sometimes the lessons are a bit more hands-on (e.g., using a protractor), and I want to show students some examples. In those instances, I use my DEWEY Document Camera Stand ($120, www.copernicused.com) that turns my iPad into a document camera, and I work and film underneath it. I mostly use this approach with Geometry and Measurement standards, but when I need to do a lot of physical manipulations, the paper slide show works well.

3. Choose your platform

Once I’ve made the video, I need to upload it to a platform for students to view. YouTube is blocked for students at my school, so I use Vimeo instead. I ended up buying a Vimeo Plus subscription last year ($59.95/year or $9.95/month). That gave me much more space for uploads each week (5 GB vs. 500 MB with the free version), and it sped up my upload times, so it was worth it to me when I was crunched to get the videos uploaded after school. I created a channel for some of my videos, and now I’m going back to re-make some or better tag/organize the videos for each unit.

4. Share your content

Once the videos are uploaded on Vimeo, I needed a way to share the links to the videos. When I started, I was posting the links after school each day, but I eventually cut out that step. Now I make one Google Document each term with all of the dates and lesson topics, and then I just copy and paste the links into that document as they’re done. That helps my students because they find the video links in one spot, and I can post the links as they’re available. Here’s an example of what that document looked like one term.

Bonus Tips

1. Make your videos in batches. 
I found it much easier to make all of my videos for the week at once. I could usually tackle this in a couple of hours each week, and it was much less stressful than trying to film every day. I was able to find my rhythm with the process when I batch-produced videos, so that’s how I try to work now. 
2. Start small.
Even if you only make one video each week, you’re still starting to build a library of flipped lessons for future use. I didn’t make as many videos as I’d wanted to last year, but I’m grateful for the ones I already have done because that’s less work I’ll have to do this year.
3. Divide and conquer.
See if someone else on your grade level team would be interested in flipping with you, and then divide up the lessons. Even if you’re not the one teaching the lesson in every video, the students will appreciate it being someone they know. 
4. Get some cheap .mp3 players for student check-out.
Most of my students had Internet access at home to watch the videos, but a couple didn’t. I wrote a grant to buy 10 inexpensive .mp3 players that students could check out to watch the videos. They didn’t require an Internet connection because I saved the videos straight to the hard drives, and since they were cheap .mp3 players (<$20 each), they didn’t have any bells and whistles to make them targets for theft. It was a workable solution for those students who lacked technology access at home. 
Next week, I’ll share more about what my math block looks like under the flipped model. Until then, I’d love to hear from you. What are some tools you use for video production in your class? What challenges do you foresee with a flipped model? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

WORKOUT ANYTIME Featured in Black Enterprise

WORKOUT ANYTIME Featured in Black Enterprise

Zelly Wesson of WORKOUT ANYTIME was recently featured in Black Enterprise. The article discusses Zelly’s opening of his second WORKOUT ANYTIME location. Wesson has been playing professional basketball overseas for the past 15 years, and during his off seasons Wesson has been back managing his WORKOUT ANYTIME locations. Wesson discusses his role in his locations and how he has been successful. 
You can view the full article here. 

WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Idaho Business Review

WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Idaho Business Review

WORKOUT ANYTIME was recently featured in an article in the Idaho Business Review titled, “New 24-hour Gym Chain to Expand into Idaho”. The article begins with details about the brand’s plans for expansion into the northwest, including Idaho. The article then provides background on how Rick Hascall (WORKOUT ANYTIME Pacific Northwest Area Developer) and Chris Gately (WORKOUT ANYTIME North Florida Area Developer) met while overseas. Rick and Chris talk about the plan to open a club by the end of the year and then use that as a showcase for other franchise prospects. The article closes with more details about the brand, information on the investment, and how WORKOUT ANYTIME is able to grow in large cities.
You can also view the full article here.

Do you have Food Cravings? Food Cravings Test

  • Do you frequently eat until your stomach is uncomfortably full?
  • When you get hungry, does it make you feel tense, weak, or irritable?
  • When you get hungry, do you sometimes focus on one or two specific foods?
  • Do you snack often, usually eating the same snacks?
  • Have you ever had other addictive habits, such as smoking or drinking too much alcohol or overconsuming caffeine?
  • Diet Start
  • Are you often hungry after a meal and stay that way until you’ve eaten one of your favourite foods?
  • Do you usually need dessert after dinner to feel satisfied?
  • Do you tend to eat a relatively narrow range of foods?
  • When you eat your favourite foods, do you often intend to eat only a moderate amount, but end up eating a larger amount?
  • Do you sometimes feel as if you lack control over what you eat?
  • If you snack on foods other than your favourite foods, do you tend to feel unsatisfied?
  • Do you binge on food more than once per week?
  • Even if you know a food doesn’t agree with you, do you eat it anyway?
  • When you eat your favourite foods, do you frequently drift into an almost trancelike state of relaxation?
  • When you eat one of your favourite foods, does it generally improve your mood?

If you answered yes to six or more questions, you are probably overweight. If you’re not, you must have a tremendous degree of willpower or an exceptional metabolism.

When this happens, you will stop eating as much as you now eat, and your metabolism will heal. You will then begin to lose adipose tissue gradually, painlessly — and permanently.

Trip to Hyderabad cont…..

The assignments are over and I am on my way home. The drive from Chilakaluripet to Vijayawada was uneventful; so was the flight back to Hyderabad. I had arranged to be picked up and was met at the airport; the drive back from the Hyderabad airport to my guest house was not usual as the vehicle I traveled did not have air conditioning. So my senses were overloaded by the melting pot that is India; the sights, the sounds and the smells greeted me along the way to my guest house. The only disconcerting factor was the pollution levels. The smoke from the vehicles combined with the dust that they kicked up hung as an orangish grey cloud over the city. There were times that I found it difficult to breathe so had to cover my mouth and nose.

On reaching my guest house I packed all my bags and turned in for the night as I had to get up at 3.30 AM to start my last leg of the journey. Before turning in I had spoken to the driver who was supposed to drive me to the air port in the morning. As a matter of caution I obtained his mobile number for contingencies. He faithfully promised to be there at 4.20 AM to drive me to the airport. The plan was that I had to be at the airport one hour before (Domestic flight from Hyderabad to Chennai) and it took one hour to drive to the airport.)the scheduled time of 6.20 AM

The next morning I was ready by 4.20 and SMSed the driver; then came 4.30 still no driver. I got a bit concerned since we had not planned for any delays. So I went to the security post of the compound and hailed the security. As usual the security guard was huddled up in a corner of the security hut fast asleep. I woke him up and found that he did not speak a word of English. So using sign language and my broken Hindi/Urdu managed to convey the situation to him; finally he got on his bike (Literally) and went and woke the driver who slept in the other corner of this large compound.

I left for the airport around 4.50 AM and made it on time for the flight. The rest of the journey went as scheduled and without incident. I am back at home; and finishing all my reporting before the next assignment.

Workout Anytime Daily 10 Prehab Routine

Everyone knows that prevention is better than dealing with an injury, and part of injury prevention is spending time working on what are commonly referred to as “corrective exercises” or “Prehab”.   10 minutes a day spent doing 10 basic exercises can prevent many injuries, improve results from exercise, and dramatically improve movement.
Ideally do these exercises barefoot or in socks – your feet will be working very hard during these exercises and shoes reduce ground feel.  If possible do them in front of a mirror to see your form!
Hip Hinge – Hip Hinging is one of basic primal movement patterns, and it is also the movement pattern most frequently done incorrectly.   The best way to groove this movement pattern is practice it using a wooden handle or PVC Pipe held vertically against your back touching the back of your head, the top of your shoulders, and your tail bone.  By keeping contact with all three points as you hinge it teaches you to maintain a flat back which is essential for preventing low back injuries and developing proper movement mechanics that allow you to effectively load and unload the glutes and hamstrings.
It is also a phenomenal dynamic warm-up for the hamstrings!   Here is a video showing how to do it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PG67O49Hsso    Do 50 reps per day and you will see and feel positive changes in your posture, movement, strength and mobility!
Downhill Skier Exercise– This exercise contains elements of the squat and hip hinge.  Start by placing the hands palm down on the top of the thighs.  Keep the back straight slide the hands down until the palms are resting on the knees with the hips back like you are a second basemen.   You should begin to feel a stretch in the hamstrings.     Continue to hinge from the hip forward and slide down until your elbow are resting on the inside of the knees with back straight and hips back like you are a downhill skier.  This will require your knees to track forward over and maybe even slightly beyond your toes (this will generate a stretch in the calf muscles and specifically the single joint soleus muscle).    Keep your heels down the whole time – do not let them lift up off the floor!
Keeping the back totally straight extend the knees as far as possible – you should feel a strong stretch in the hamstrings.  Your hips will rise but keep your elbows on the knees and do not move the upper body!  Then drop the hips, flex the knees and let them move forward over toes as you drop back down to the downhill skier posture.
Start slow but as you get the hang of it you can move faster – as long as you maintain proper form.     Do 30 – 50 reps every day.   You will start to notice that your squat and your hip hinge movements all get easier along with improved mobility in the ankle knee and hip!   Click here for a great video of how to do this exercise properly:  https://youtu.be/nXKWtlr3rBQ
Goblet Squat – Squats are another primal movement pattern and goblet squats help emphasize the best form.   They should be done daily with a relatively light weight for a good 20 – 50 repetitions.    Keep the dumbbell, kettlebell or Sandbag held against the chest the entire time. If you have difficulty getting thighs parallel to the floor spread your feet farther apart, and also rotate out at the hips so that your feet are pointing outwards.   This can make a huge difference.   By doing this and holding a light weight against your chest you may find you can squat to a decent depth while maintaining an upright torso.  It should look like this:  http://cfitness.me.formecdn.com/2016/12/goblet-squat.jpg  
Alternatively you can hold a kettlebell/Dumbbell with both hands letting it go straight down between the legs as you squat down like this:  http://workoutlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/watermarked/Pile_Sumo_Dumbbell_Squat1.png
Single Leg RDL – Romanian Deadlift – is one of the most important corrective exercises you can do to help self-identify and correct muscle imbalances that are the most common cause of movement dysfunction and injury.
The best way to do this exercise is barefoot in front of a mirror where you can see your whole body throughout the entire sequence of the exercise.  Ideally you should be on a firm and level surface as well.
Start by facing the mirror standing on one foot with the other leg flexed so your thigh is parallel with the floor and knee flexed to 90 degrees with hands on your hips.  Look in the mirror and make sure your hips are perfectly level and if not fix that!   
Next, without moving the upper body extend the flexed leg down and hinge forward at the hip of the standing leg.   As your swing leg passes the other leg you should try to straighten it, and ideally you hinge forward at the upper body while keeping your swing leg and upper body in a straight line the whole time.
As you hinge try NOT to let your swing leg hip drop and keep your stance foot pointing directly forward with no angle.  The stance leg should flex slightly but the knee should NOT move forward – rather you should “sit” back into the hinge at the hip. Pause when you reach at or near parallel with the floor with your upper body and swing leg then smoothly return to standing and flex the swing leg.    Slower is harder AND better and do NOT use any load/weight.
10 repetitions on each side each day!   Do all 10 on each side one time per day and you will see some amazing changes in your strength, balance and athleticism! 
Here is a great single leg RDL tutorial:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc21IwnIcwk
Hip Thrusts – The hip thrust simultaneously develops the glutes while enhancing mobility in the hip flexors (both key because this counteracts the negative effects of sitting all the time!).  These can be done on the floor or with shoulders on a bench, bed or sofa to make it a bit harder.   You can do hip thrusts with two legs or one leg at a time to create additional load.   Here is a good shot of the exercise:  http://cdn-www.womenshealthsa.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/hip-thrust-hold.jpg
Important NOT to arch lower back at all and concentrate on squeezing glutes at top and NOT using low back.    Even without any load this exercise can produce great benefits – 20 – 50 reps each day!
Plank – The plank is a simple functional core exercise that produces great benefits.  It can be done on toes and hands (upper push-up position), Toes and Elbows, Hands and Knees, etc to adjust the difficulty.    Do a version of the plank that challenges for one minute per day while maintaining good form.   Here is a great article on some of the many variations:  http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20813896,00.html/view-all
Side Plank – The Side Plank is also key to building core strength, but in the front plane (side to side stability and strength).   30 seconds to a minute on each side each day.   Like the plank there are many variations and one of the best when you are ready is a side plank with leg lift: https://rutheburke.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/side_bridge_abd.jpg
Static Lunge – Lunges are another primal movement pattern, and there are many different variety of lunges.  A static lunge is done with feet in a split stance like this:    https://www.google.com/imgres?imgrefurl=http://thefitnesslink.uk/exercises/static-lunge/&tbnid=J1sOV9EYH0PmVM:&docid=lgeVWz3ThLe7OM&h=1417&w=1890   
The exercise is fantastic for simultaneously developing strength and mobility in the foot, ankle, knee and hip.  Best done barefoot on a firm surface.  Keep your front heel down the entire time and rear foot is up on ball of the foot with rear knee, hip, back and head kept in alignment the entire time.    Do 10 reps at a time on each side per day – no weight is necessary. 
 
Side to Side Skater– This exercise develops hip mobility including providing an excellent dynamic stretch/warm-up for the adductor (inner thigh muscles).  Feet should be wide apart with feet facing forward – not angled out. Keep feet flat on the floor and flex forward at the hip keeping back straight (only flex forward as far as you can while maintaining a flat back and keeping both feet on the floor with entire foot kept down in contact with the ground).   Push the hips directly to the side and pause as you feel a stretch in the trailing leg’s adductors.  
Ideally your head and torso stay perpendicular to lower body and centered during the entire exercise just like a speed skater.  Then push your hips back in the other direction to the other to the other side.    NOTE:   Do NOT go up and down – your hips should go back and forth in a straight-line parallel with the floor.   Do 20 – 30 reps each day.
Ankle Circles – This exercise improves ankle mobility and is great before just about any activity.    Stand on one foot.    These can be done seated, standing or lying down – best done standing to simultaneously work on balance and stability.  The action is simple:  holding foot and leg in the air draw a circle with your toes for 10 circles in one direction and 10 circles in the other direction like this:  http://web.eccrsd.us/christy/public/athletic_training/ankle_sprain_rehab_beginner_files/Picture%201.jpg   
You will notice that one direction is much harder than the other and you will feel much less coordinated and same thing with one leg vs the other leg.  Do more repetitions in the direction that is challenging and more on the leg that is more challenging.  Ideally do the exercise while you stand on one foot while you pull your other leg up with knee bent so that your thigh is parallel with the floor.    This is more challenging than it looks but will provide big benefits in terms of balance and stability.

Done daily and before workouts these 10 exercises will provide big benefits including improved posture, stability, strength and mobility.   You will also notice that you improve at many other exercises and movements.

INCREDIBLE HOME DESIGN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

This 94 square meter apartment has a privileged location on the corner of the building. Looking for an apartment in well appointed with three bedrooms, one next to the park, with open views to the outside and green space overlooking the street, while the kitchen opens onto the courtyard and peaceful atmosphere. In the middle is a spacious hall and in relation to this, a new bathroom. The general plan with large windows on three sides and bright colors fill the room with light. It is difficult to decide which of these rooms, we love the most.

INCREDIBLE LIVING ROOM DESIGN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE LIVING ROOM DESIGN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN DINING ROOM WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN DINING ROOM WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN KITCHEN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN KITCHEN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN BEDROOM WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN BEDROOM WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN SKETCH WITH NATURAL LIGHT

INCREDIBLE DESIGN SKETCH WITH NATURAL LIGHT

1960 Lincoln Continental mk 5 Formal Limousine

in the above photo, lower left side, you can see the air conditioning vent under the grab bar

and this cool control panel / radio for the passengers in the back seat to control the partition, radio, and air conditioning level

and the AC takes up about a 1/3rd of the trunk space

My recommendation: The 3-step dietary programme Do what I did, look the results

The dietary plans that follow offer simple, nutritious and delicious recipes on a staged regime that should take you from overweight to optimum weight and enhanced well-being.

The reason many people depend on junk and convenience foods is because they lead such busy lives. Most of the recipes in these plans are quick to prepare, and should be within the capabilities of even the most reluctant cook. There are exceptions: preparing the Chicken Soup will take a couple of hours, but it makes a lot and you can freeze separate portions, ensuring that you can have a nutritious low-carb meal even when the clock is ticking away.

So blitz your cupboards and discard any foodstuffs that don’t fit the bill. The journey to a healthy, lean body begins here.

The Plans

The 3-step programme includes 3 eating plans. The Fast-Track Plan will help you lose weight quickly and give you that all-important boost on a 50 per cent protein/20 per cent carbohydrate/30 per cent fat regime that will initiate benign dietary ketosis. It should last for 7-21 days, after which you are ready to move on to the next stage. Your weight loss should be around 2-5.5kg (4-121b) if you are a woman and 4-7.25kg (8-161b) if you are a man, depending on how long you remain on this plan.

Diet Start

During the Keep on Tracking Plan you increase your levels of low-tomedium GI carbohydrates and move into a 35 per cent protein/35 per cent carbohydrate/30 per cent fat regime. You still monitor ketosis and watch how introducing higher levels of carbohydrates affects your weight loss, which should now even out to 0.25-1 kg (1/2-21b) per week.

The No Backtracking Plan is your eating regime for life. You can gradually introduce fruit and vegetables, grains and pulses from the higher GI ranges, in moderation. It is important to keep an eye on how your body reacts to these and to establish your perfect weight-management level.

If you are a vegetarian, there is plenty of advice on how to adapt the plans and recipes to suit your dietary requirements. Granted, your choice isn’t as varied as that of a non-vegetarian, but don’t use this as an excuse not to give it a go. If you follow the basic guidelines and make simple changes to the recipes where necessary, you should lose weight and eradicate insulin resistance successfully.

FOOD TO THROW OUT

  • White flour and sugar
  • Honey
  • Biscuits
  • Crisps
  • Sweets
  • Sugary drinks
  • White rice, bread, pasta
  • Processed foods high in carbohydrates
  • Ready-made sauces
  • Gravy mixes

Customize the plans to suit your lifestyle and dietary preferences

The suggested menu plans are not set in stone – they are templates to encourage you to eat the right sort and amount of food.

If you wish to change a recipe – because you don’t like lamb and would rather have chicken, say – it really doesn’t matter. Just try to use foods of a similar dietary value. When swapping vegetables and fruit, go for ones in the same GI category; try to exchange meat for meat, or fish for fish, in the same amounts. If you change a recipe from meat to fish, you may need to use slightly more fish to give you the same level of protein. For example, 125g (4oz) of poultry or lean meat should be replaced with 175g (6oz) of fish.

Simplify the recipes

If you are short of time, or like your food a bit plainer, simplify the recipe. If you don’t fancy Baked Tuna with Tomato and Herbs, adapt the ingredients, ensuring that you still have sufficient protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats – have a tuna salad with tomatoes and dark green leaves.

On a budget

If money is short and you find some of the suggested ingredients a little expensive, use some budgetary ingenuity to bring down the cost. Fresh salmon can be replaced with coley or whiting, or even tinned salmon.

Use the suggested meals as inspiration. In order to manage your weight in the future, you will have to experiment and be prepared to adapt.

WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Jacksonville Daily Record

WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Jacksonville Daily Record

WORKOUT ANYTIME was recently featured in the Jacksonville Daily Record. The article talks about the new WORKOUT ANYTIME that opened up Monday, October 6. The article talks about how the Levitt family looks to open 15 WORKOUT ANYTIME locations in the next 5 years in the Jacksonville area. 
View the full article here. 

a friendly stopped by to say hello, at 5000 feet

The video shows a man flying calmly, when suddenly a military fighter appears out of nowhere. After quickly moving the wings up and down in greeting, the plane disappears from the sky at a speed worthy of a video game or a movie

The Question of Alcohol in you Diet

Alcohol, like caffeine and nicotine, is a drug. As such, it is capable of bringing about serious damage to mind and body when taken over a long period of time. Made from the fermentation of carbohydrates with yeast enzymes, alcohol is rapidly absorbed through the digestive system, affecting coordination of the muscles, nerves, and vision. It also stimulates stomach secretions, inhibits mobilization of lymphocytes so that the body’s ability to fight infection is reduced, and causes sludging in the red blood cells, thereby reducing oxygen to the heart and lungs. And it affects the brain, adversely affecting the specific centers that govern self- control, judgment, and personal inhibitions.

Alcohol is a depressant. The transient feeling of well-being that goes with a couple of glasses of whisky or a dry martini—the “lift”—is followed by a series of miseries to which your body is subjected, not the least of which, for a woman, is the effect drinking alcohol has on the liver. And the insidious thing about the detrimental effects which alcohol has on health and beauty is that they occur even to the average social drinker, not just to the serious drinker and the alcoholic.

A joint study by Dr. Charles S. Leiber of the Section of Liver Disease and Nutrition at Bronx Veterans Administration and Dr. Emanuel Rubin of the Department of Pathology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine showed that too much social drinking can cause serious damage to the liver, even though the drinker may feel fine, act normally under the influence of alcohol, and not be an alcoholic. Leiber and Rubim took a group of healthy nonalcoholic volunteers and put them on a carefully controlled eight-day drinking regimen. Then they tested the subjects’ livers to see what changes, if any, the alcohol had caused. The amount given to a particular group was considered equivalent to the average intake of a business executive-7 ounces of 86-proof whisky per day for the first four days, 11 ounces for the new two, and then 14 ounces for the last two. The results were surprising: there was an increase in the fat levels in the subjects’ liver of from five to thirteen times, all in only eight days, and in spite of the fact that the diet of the subjects had been supplemented with vitamins.

Diet Start

Similar studies have turned up similar results. Researchers have also found that liver-cell damage and the increase in fat in the liver can be reversible if the drinker abstains from alcohol for long enough. But longterm damage to the liver resulting from daily consumption of alcohol over the years can be irreversible. Persistent drinking can also be a precursor not only to specific diseases of the liver such as cirrhosis, but also to other toxic conditions in the body.

Next to the skin, your liver is your body’s largest organ. In many ways it is also the most important. One could, for instance, live without a stomach if necessary but never without a liver. It is the body’s chemical purifier, performing more than five hundred different functions, many concerned with detoxifying the system from all the drugs, pollutants, and poisons you take in every day, including alcohol. If the liver is overworked or worn out by excess alcohol consumption, eventually and unavoidably your whole body suffers. Biochemists used to believe that excess alcohol was no more damaging to the liver than too much sugar or too much fat in the diet; that the real damage to the liver came only from malnutrition. But these theories have been disproved. Both the quantity of alcohol you drink and the duration of time over which you drink it are important factors in determining liver damage.

Because the liver is responsible either directly or indirectly for controlling levels of many hormones in a woman’s body (particularly estrogen), when liver damage occurs as the result of a diet too high in fats or of drug taking or long-term alcoholic consumption, the endocrine balance can be severely upset, leading not only to disruption of the menstrual cycle but also indirectly to feelings of depression, anxiety, and chronic fatigue.

These troubles may have another cause, also related to alcohol. In order to metabolize alcohol, your body calls on its reserve of many B- complex vitamins which act as coenzymes in the process. When one eats foods containing natural concentrations of carbohydrates or sugar, such as grains and fruits, the B-complex vitamins necessary for their proper digestion and assimilation are provided by nature in the foods themselves. But the B-complex vitamins have been discarded in the processing of highly refined sugars and alcohol. So the body’s own reserves can easily get depleted when you drink alcohol and eat refined sugars. Results of this depletion are many, the most common of which can be fatigue, a craving for more alcohol or sweets, or diverse emotional complaints from severe premenstrual tension to simple feelings of chronic misery.

These are just some of the reasons why the Lifestyle Diet excludes alcohol in quantities of more than a glass of wine a day. This may seem like a tremendous sacrifice to you if you are used to taking a great deal more, but once you eliminate stimulants such as coffee, tea, and alcohol from your life and begin to experience the enormous sense of well-being that comes with the low fat, low protein, complex carbohydrate diet (and all the other important things that also go with discovering and expressing your potentials mentally and physically, such as deep relaxation and exercise), you will never miss it.

MODERN RESIDENCE LAKE HOUSE DESIGN BY DAVID GUERRA

EFFICIENT RESIDENCE LAKE HOUSE BY DAVID GUERRA LAKE VIEW

EFFICIENT RESIDENCE LAKE HOUSE BY DAVID GUERRA LAKE VIEW

See all of its 340 square meters, the lake house designed by David Guerra Architecture located in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The very steep terrain, as the permit was built by architect has the opportunity to build a box-shaped structure with overhanging balconies. Residents are a mother and her adult son, so the house must meet their need for privacy and comfort, and entertainment. The landscape box provided by an excellent situation increases the value, while the collection is very personal spaces. Benefits son of a bedroom with a separate entrance, located on the ground floor, next to the playroom. Gourmet kitchen is also located on the lower floor where there are also two additional bedrooms and a service area. Balcony and terrace make the connection to fresh air and beautiful scenery. The first floor features a garage, laundry room, living room and dining room, balcony, a guest room and master bedroom.

This is a nice place to live, providing a platform for entertainment and relaxation for its residents and their guests, do not you think?

EFFICIENT RESIDENCE LAKE HOUSE BY DAVID GUERRA CENTER ROOM

EFFICIENT RESIDENCE LAKE HOUSE BY DAVID GUERRA CENTER ROOM

EFFICIENT RESIDENCE LAKE HOUSE BY DAVID GUERRA SROP

EFFICIENT RESIDENCE LAKE HOUSE BY DAVID GUERRA SROP

EFFICIENT RESIDENCE LAKE HOUSE BY DAVID GUERRA

EFFICIENT RESIDENCE LAKE HOUSE BY DAVID GUERRA

EFFICIENT RESIDENCE LAKE HOUSE BY DAVID GUERRA BEDROOM

EFFICIENT RESIDENCE LAKE HOUSE BY DAVID GUERRA BEDROOM

Paperless Mission #8: Conduct and Archive Running Records (iPad)

This is the eighth installment in my Go Paperless! Challenge series. You can see the other entries in the series here. Also be sure to link up with my Paperless Challenge Linky!

Mission #8: Conduct and Archive Running Records 

At least once each six-week term, teachers at my school are supposed to conduct a running record as a guided reading level assessment. We use the Fiction Level Reading Assessments provided by the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project, and before my move to paperless, this system was a mess for me. I’d have one binder that was all the student copies of texts, and then I’d have a huge paper pile of blank assessments that I could fill in as I worked with students. Invariably, I’d have a ton of kids reading on level S, for example, and I’d run out of my copies of that assessment, so it was back to the copier to make more. Then I’d have to deal with recording the data and filing them all, and it was a bit of a nightmare.

Paperless rocks. The nightmare is over.

In this tutorial, I’ll share how I’m using Dropbox, GoodReader, and Evernote to conduct running records anytime and anywhere on my iPad. You might want to get a good iPad stylus, too, if you like that “pen in hand” feel.

Step 1. Download all of the running records to a folder on Dropbox.

You will also want to print one student copy of each assessment. I still keep all of those in page protectors in a binder so I can hand one over for the student to read off of, but I never make copies of these. It’s a one-time paper expense that I’m happy to live with.

Step 2. Import the guided reading assessments into your GoodReader app.

Once you’re done saving them to Dropbox, open up GoodReader and connect to DropBox. There’s more information about this in the previous GoodReader tutorial, Mission #6.

Step 3. Choose the appropriate level, and open up the teacher copy in GoodReader.

The first time that you want to annotate the document, you’ll be prompted to “Create an Annotated Copy” or “Save to This File.” You will want to choose “Create an Annotated Copy” so you don’t lose your blank copy. Otherwise, you’ll have to download these files every time you want to use them, and that’s only marginally better than running to the copy room — trust me.

Step 4. Use the annotation tools to mark up student reading as you normally would. 

I won’t lie — the first couple times I did this, it felt a little awkward. You have to remember to save the document if you’re switching between tools or trying to scroll/resize. But it does get better quickly, I promise! The more you use the tools, the more fluid your movements will be. It didn’t take me long to get back to the level of proficiency I had with paper copies, and while my writing is a little messier on the iPad, it definitely gets the job done.

Step 5. Rename the file using the manage files option on the home screen of GoodReader. 

To get back to the home screen, tap the center of your screen — away from any annotations — and it should show you the main menu or “My Documents” up at the top left.

Step 6. Move the renamed running record over to the student’s notebook in Evernote.

To get there, go into Manage Files again, and then select Open in. . . 

You’ll be prompted to flatten annotations. Make sure you choose this or your annotations may be lost. 

Select Evernote, and it will launch your Evernote app. From there, you can move it into the appropriate notebook and type in any notes that you want to remember about the student’s reading.

Extra Credit: Create a simultaneous audio file in Evernote.

This is something that I’ve been playing around with lately, and I think the possibilities for this are amazing. Once I have everything set up so that my student has the student copy of the text and I have the right running record file open in GoodReader, I go into Evernote, open a new note, and start an audio recording using the microphone icon. I tell the student to start, and then I use 4 fingers to swipe quickly from right to left across my iPad. This takes me back to GoodReader (or whatever my last open app was) without having to go through my home screen. When the student finishes, I use the 4-finger swipe in the opposite direction to pause the recording.

In the end, I have an .mp4 audio file of the student reading in addition to my annotations on the running record. This is great because it’s evidence I can use in RTI and parent-teacher conferences, and it also enables me to play back the audio so the student can hear him or herself read — something that rarely happens. We can then talk about patterns I’m noticing and ways to improve reading fluency. It’s a great teaching tool.

Your assignment: Try doing a few running records on your iPad and leave me a comment about how it’s going. I’d love to hear other ideas or suggestions to fine-tune this process, too. I’ve only been doing it for about 6 weeks, so I know there are things that could be improved. Hopefully this is enough information to get you started, though!

Thanks for reading!

Paperless Mission #9: Setting Up Your Class with Evernote

This is the ninth installment in my Go Paperless! Challenge Series. You can check out the other entries in the series here. Also be sure to link up with my Paperless Challenge Linky!

Mission #9: Set Up Your Class with Evernote

Today’s mission assumes that your class has easy access to technology. I teach in a 1:1 iPad setting, but I realize how blessed I am to have this and how few people — especially at the elementary level — get to do this. For those of you who have less access to classroom technology, I’m including modifications that you’ll be able to use at the end of the article.

It’s been a couple months since I started drinking the Evernote Kool-Aid, and I’m still loving it. I don’t have to worry about losing papers or information, and it has become my repository for just about everything. For the first time in my professional live, I feel like I’m getting a handle on organization. But then I see this:

And I’m reminded that just because I’m organized, doesn’t mean that my students are. In fact, all year long my fourth graders have been struggling with keeping track of class notes, transporting work between home and school, and remembering what materials to use to study for tests and quizzes. Part of that unquestionably comes with the age and maturity levels of 10-year-olds, but given how awesome technology has become, I knew there had to be a better way.

Enter student Evernote accounts. My students used Evernote on their iPads for the last 6 weeks of school, and I’ve been very pleased with the results. Here’s how we set it up.

Step #1: Register for new Evernote accounts.

This step can be done on either a computer or an iPad. (My pics will show the iPad view.) Students will need to have an email address in order to complete registration, but this can be tricky with students who are under the age of 13 since many of the students don’t have email yet. One work around that we found was to set up a class email address on Gmail (ex: [email protected]). Then, you can add the “+”symbol to the end of the username along with a string of letters and/or numbers before the “@gmail.com” ending. Evernote thinks all of these are different addresses, but Gmail doesn’t pay attention to anything after the “+” symbol, so everything will go back to the “fakeeberopolis” account. This lets students register without ever giving them an email address.

I had students put their lunch account numbers after the plus symbol, but names or other number combinations would work too. You just have to have the info after the “+” symbol be unique to each student so Evernote doesn’t think they’ve already registered. 

I let the students choose their own usernames and passwords, and I had them record those in a safe place so they could share them with parents. Next year, I’m likely to collect the information as well so I can easily help the students recover it. They don’t sign in and out of Evernote usually — they just stay logged in, so many of them forget.

Step #2: Build Notebooks for the Subject Areas

My students created notebooks for Reading, Writing, Word Study, Math, Science, and Social Studies. They later added notebooks for their Spanish and Music classes. During the set-up phase, we talked about the differences between notebooks and notes and how to move notes from one notebook to another. Next year, when I start this from the beginning of the year, we’ll also talk a lot about tagging notes to make them easier to find.
 

Why Student Evernote Notebooks Rock

1. More instructional time because transitions are so easy. Transitions between subjects used to take us forever because students would forget to grab a notebook or not have all the materials ready on time. Now transitions are just a quick stretch or brain break. They have all of their notes right in front of them already. We’re abandoning the cluttered bins and drawers.

2. Students are more accountable and prepared. We don’t have to worry about forgetting work at home or getting lost between home and school. It’s all in one place. In addition, students are able to create more comprehensive class notes. If we read an article using GoodReader, students can save it to their Evernote notebook. If we develop an anchor chart as a class, students can take a picture of it and add it to their notes to refer back to long after it’s gone from the classroom display. If they make a model of different types of triangles using toothpicks, they can photograph their work and add in captions later. More learning gets archived than we’d ever accomplish with a paper model.

3. Everything is portable between home and school. Students don’t get to take their iPads home, but as long as they save their work in Evernote, they can access it from any computer or mobile device. It also means that students aren’t leaving important readings or materials at school when they need to study for a test. I’ve had many frustrated parents complain that their child wasn’t bringing home the right materials to review for tests this year — especially because we don’t use traditional textbooks at my school — and this remedies all of that.

Another portability example is that I’ve also had students use Evernote as a word processor when they’re working on longer writing assignments because they can pick up their work between home and school. (In the future, I’d like to use Google Drive as their word processor, but until we get there as a school, this is an acceptable alternative.) Once students are ready to turn in a finished piece of writing, they copy and paste it into Pages, clean up the formatting, and turn it in through Edmodo. It has worked brilliantly this term, and I’m seeing much longer, more developed pieces of writing at all stages of the writing process now. I really think the ease of this process has played a role.

Now that we’re using Evernote regularly in the classroom, I can’t imagine ever going back. While I will miss the massive influx of office supplies (composition books, notebooks, etc) at the start of the next school year, I’m falling in love with the fact that the only things I take home with me each night are my laptop and iPad. Going paperless has been a glorious thing.

What are some ways you could use Evernote with your students? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section!

Health Concern: FAT?

The term “fat” includes fats from meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products as well as vegetable oils and the nuts, seeds, and grains from which they have been extracted. There are two basic kinds of fats—saturated, occurring mostly in animal foods (although some vegetable fats such as the kind that coconut contains fall into this category too), and unsaturated, in the form of vegetable oils such as safflower, corn, and sunflower, and in seeds and nuts. Fish tends to contain more unsaturated than saturated fats, meat more saturated than unsaturated.

Whether saturated or unsaturated, all the fats you eat rapidly form a film around blood cells and platelets, creating a kind of sludge which causes them to stick together. This clumping significantly interferes with circulation by clogging blood vessels and even temporarily closing down small capillaries. As a result, your cells do not receive all the oxygen and nutrients they need to function efficiently. They only run at about 80 percent capacity. This interferes with cell metabolism as well as with the efficient elimination of cellular and tissue wastes.

Diet Start

The chemical structure of an unsaturated fatty acid differs from its saturated brother in that at least two of the carbon atoms in its formula are free. This means that they have no hydrogen atoms attached to them, as the molecule of a saturated fatty acid does. It was long thought that while saturated fats were bad for you, unsaturated fats were good. For unsaturated fats have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, and therefore were believed to be helpful in preventing arteriosclerosis and coronary heart disease. That is the reason we have been encouraged in the last thirty years or so to include plenty of polyunsaturates in our diet by switching from butter to margarine and vegetable oils. The catch is that although unsaturates do this, like all fats they still raise triglyceride levels (another factor linked with coronary heart disease) and they also create the same clumping as the saturated fats do, which leads to tissue anoxia.

Women have also lately been encouraged by poorly informed writers to include lots of polyunsaturates in their diet for their beauty’s sake. Unsaturated fatty acids are an important constituent of skin and muscle tissue and so it was thought, quite wrongly, that we need more of them. For what we have not been told is that the chemical structure of unsaturated fats with their free carbon atoms makes them extremely unstable compounds, and that when an unsaturated fat is exposed even to the smallest trace of a catalytic agent it begins a process of autooxidation which results in the fat molecule’s breaking down to produce what are known as free radicals.

Free radicals are highly reactive particles which, if left unchecked in the presence of oxygen molecules, will form toxic peroxides. These peroxides can damage and destroy cells. They have also been implicated as a primary cause of the aging process itself. When a cell, or the genetic material of a cell, is destroyed by free radicals, the result is something known as a lipofuscin pigment granule—often referred to by biochemists as a “clinker.” With age, ever more cells are damaged or destroyed as tissue degenerates, leading to increase in the number of these pigment granules. This is something you want to avoid in every way you can if you don’t want to look and be old before your time.

To some extent, the presence of sufficient amounts of an antioxidant such as vitamin E in the system may prevent this from happening, because it minimizes the damage done by free radical chain reactions by breaking the chain. Vitamin E, like other antioxidants, helps block the oxidation that turns fatty acids into harmful peroxides. The more unsaturated fatty acids in your diet, the greater will be your need for the vitamin.

An interesting dietary survey that was done at the University of California at Irvine looked at over 1,000 patients and examined the degree of wrinkling and crow’s-feet, frown lines, and other indications of skin degeneration such as damage to the collagen and elastin fibers and the irregular pigmentation characteristic of old skin. The subjects ranged in age from seventeen to eighty-one and 76 percent of them were women. Cadvan Griffiths, M.D., the professor of surgery who carried out the study, discovered that there is an undeniable link between marked clinical signs of aging and the intake of unsaturated fats in one’s diet. Those who regularly and frequently included polyunsaturated fats and oils in their diet had marked signs of premature aging. Some looked as much as twenty years older than they were. Very few of those who had made no special effort to eat more polyunsaturates showed any clinical signs of premature aging. Evidence is also accumulating that links free radical reactions to the etiology of cancer, senility, atherosclerosis and hypertension—all of them disorders generally associated with aging. This is all the more reason to limit the amount of every kind of fat you eat to no more than you actually need.

The “Basic Seven” Foods

1. Green and yellow leafy vegetables. These may be used either cooked or raw, fresh or frozen. They include cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, sprouts, asparagus, spinach, celery, and similar greens. These provide vitamin A to protect eyes and skin and to guard against infection. They also provide iron for the blood and roughage for elimination.

2. Fruits—at least two each day. One may be an orange or some other citrus fruit. Another may be a banana, tomato, apple, pear, peach, a bunch of grapes, or some tropical fruit. For variety use strawberries, canteloupe, or some type of melon. These fruits provide vitamin C, which is essential for strong blood vessels and healthy gums and teeth. They also provide roughage for better elimination. Fresh fruits are best for these purposes. Heat destroys vitamin C.

3. Potatoes and other vegetables. Two or more servings should be eaten each day. These include Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, beets, carrots, parsnips, lentils, onions, peas, beans, soybeans, and many more. Vitamins and minerals are present in all vegetables. Potatoes are a good source, especially when cooked in their skins. Vegetables may be used in various ways. Raw carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A. Vegetables provide bulk, which aids digestion.

Diet Start

4. Milk and dairy products. The very minimum for an adult should be a pint a day, or more, and a quart a day for each growing child or pregnant mother. Nursing mothers need even more. The milk may be in fluid form, as whole milk, buttermilk, skim milk, canned or evaporated milk, condensed milk, dried milk, or some form of cheese. One ounce of cheddar cheese is equal to a cup of milk. The milk can be used as a beverage or in cooking, such as soups, puddings, and desserts. Milk is a fine source of protein. It also provides minerals, vitamins, and especially calcium, which is needed for bones, teeth, nerves, and muscles.

5. Protein foods. Foods that are rich in proteins include beans, peas, soybeans, nuts, peanuts, eggs, meat, or fish. Soybeans are the richest source of proteins known. They are far richer than eggs, liver, kidney, or any other meat products and far less expensive. They have been used in the Orient for many generations. Dried peas, beans, lentils, and peanuts are all similar to meat in food value.

6. Whole-grain breads and cereals, at least two or three slices of bread and one dish of cooked cereal each day. These are particularly valuable for growing children and adults who work hard. Whole grains include wheat, rice, barley, corn, and other grains. “Enriched white flour” is better than ordinary white flour, but it is still lacking in certain essential elements. Grains and cereals provide calories for energy, as well as vitamins, minerals, and roughage. Whole grains, freshly ground, are best.

7. Butter, cream, fortified margarine, or other vegetable fats. A certain amount of fat is essential in every diet. Salad oils, olive oil, corn oil, and similar products may be substituted to meet the daily requirements for fat in the diet. Fats provide calories for heat and energy. They yield more than twice as much energy as carbohydrates.

Other foods rich in fats are egg yolk, vegetable oils, olives, nuts, and soybeans.

These are the “basic seven” food groups. One or two from each group should be included in the diet of the whole family every day. The quantities need not be large. The wider the variety, the better. Serve each food attractively. Eye appeal is always important.

In considering the “basic seven,” you will notice that there is no mention of white sugar, spices, or condiments. None of these is essential in the diet. Ordinary white sugar does provide energy, but that is all. There are no vitamins or minerals in refined sugar.

In addition to these “basic seven” food groups one should include at least six to eight glasses of water each day. Water is necessary for removing wastes from the body. It aids in maintaining a normal temperature and in moistening the air we breathe. We do get some water from our foods, but not nearly enough to supply all our needs. Many who complain of sluggishness, fatigue, and nervous headaches would feel better if they were taking more water. It is best to drink between meals. Drinking water should be pure and free from harmful germs. If in doubt, boil the water before using it.

Over two thirds of the human body is composed of water in some form or other. This means that a person weighing 150 pounds has more than one hundred pounds of water in his physical make-up. Even the bones are one-third water. Without sufficient water, the blood cannot circulate properly. Nor can the digestive organs work as they should. All the cells need water. This is the remarkable fluid in which myriads of chemical and electrical reactions are taking place all the time.

A reliable supply of pure water is essential to the life and health of every family. One may live quite a while without food, but not more than a few days without water. There is no substitute for water. It is indeed the liquid of life. Those who follow the “basic seven” in their choice of foods and include a generous supply of pure water need never fear. They will be taking a balanced diet, and they will feel the benefits of good health all their lives.

Health Concern: FAT? continue…

How much Fat do you Need?

Very little. Just about any food you can think of contains some fat, and when your diet is made up of at least 75 percent vegetables, fruits, and grains with a few nuts and seeds but without added oils, fats, cheese, or butter, as in the Lifestyle Diet, about 15 percent of your calories will be in the form of fat anyway. This is all you need. The body is capable of making its own fatty acids from the foods you eat with the exception of linoleic acid, and the mere three grams you need per day is more than supplied by eating a couple of tablespoons of sunflower seeds or one small dish of oatmeal. Even leafy green vegetables such as kale or spinach contain about 10 percent of their calories in fat. It is hard to be fat-deficient. Studies of people put on very low-fat diets, even when as little as .7 percent of their calories are taken in the form of fat as linoleic acid, have shown no adverse physical or psychological effects.

Diet Start

Even official bodies have recently begun to recognize the need to reduce dietary fats for the sake of preserving health. The U.S. Senate’s Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs recommended in its report “Dietary Goals for the United States” a reduction of fat intake from the present 45 to 30 percent as well as a decrease in sugar consumption to 15 percent of total calories and a corresponding increase in the consumption of complex carbohydrates—the fruits, vegetables, and grains that are the foundation of the Lifestyle Diet. For long-term health and beauty, you should make an even greater reduction so that only about 15 percent of your daily calories are taken in fat.

This is in line with the Pritikin and other low-fat, low-protein diets which have recently caused great interest in both the medical profession and the general public. Pritikin recommends a diet of 80 percent complex carbohydrates, 10 percent protein and 10 percent fat. Although a radical departure from the traditional British, European, and American dietary habits, regimens like the Pritikin diet can not only substantially reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar, but can also lead to an automatic weight loss and leave people feeling and looking years younger. Such a low protein, low fat diet can also literally beautify a woman both physically and psychically.

At first such a change takes a bit of getting used to, but soon it becomes second nature and the increased vitality, slimness, and good looks it brings you in a few weeks help make it an easy way to eat permanently.

When these are broken down slowly throughout the day, they provide the pancreas with a steady flow of glucose at a rate of about two calories a minute. When you eat something sweetened with refined sugar, the glucose poured into the system (say 100 calories or more all at once) suddenly soars. So does the production of pancreatic insulin in reaction to the insult. When this insult occurs repeatedly, as it does in the usual Western diet, with its average of two pounds of sugar per person per week, the blood sugar levels become depressed, then soar, then become depressed over and over again by a pancreas made trigger happy. In many people this leads to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, with its corresponding fatigue and mental and emotional symptoms. It can also result in diabetes and in the development of allergic reactions to foods and to petrochemicals, which have recently been linked with diverse mental disorders as well as many acute and chronic forms of illness.

Repeated eating of sugar and products containing it can also result in deficiencies in the B-complex vitamins and an imbalance in certain important minerals. And just in case you are reassuring yourself that you, after all, only eat raw sugar, you should know that one sugar is just about as bad as another. Raw sugar does contain some of the natural vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are found in the sugar beets or sugarcane from which the sugar has been taken but raw, brown, and turbinado sugars are all still highly concentrated simple sugars which create the same metabolic problems as white sugar. As such, they are potential disease-makers. The Lifestyle Diet excludes every form of refined sugar—from chocolate to jams to packaged breakfast cereals with their hidden sweetness. It does allow a little honey for sweetening muesli (two tablespoonfuls a day) plus one tablespoonful of blackstrap molasses if you want it for its nutritional value.

LIVING ROOM DESIGN IDEAS GET COMFORT

LIVING ROOM DESIGN IDEAS

Living room is the most popular rentals for guests and where families come together to end their days of rest after a long week at work or enjoying a TV program together. In most cases, this room is on the floor of a house and is very active. It is therefore essential that this area is decorated in a pleasant environment to ensure the comfort of visitors. When planning a room design, the main and most important factor to decide is the purpose of the room. One thing to remember when designing your living space is that you should feel comfortable in the room and the style, since they will likely spend most of their time in the room. Finally, here are some design ideas that show really got in touch with the style you want.

LIVING ROOM DESIGN IDEAS

LIVING ROOM DESIGN IDEAS

LIVING ROOM DESIGN IDEAS

LIVING ROOM DESIGN IDEAS

BLACK WALL INTERIORS DESIGN IDEAS FOR A MODERN HOME

Are you brave enough to try a deep impression on the black walls at home? A dramatic effect can be created on the walls of blacks is unique, and it takes courage and commitment to create an interior decorated with beautiful black walls. A black-painted walls, chalkboard walls, elegant black background, or even some black accents can change the look of the interior.

High ceilings and lots of natural light conditions seem to enjoy blacks the walls in my room, but even the smallest spaces can look modern and stylish, if all other elements are chosen to enhance the contrast and the dark walls. Some of you are going to see the inside is a piece of furniture in bright colors and decorations that mitigate the effects of black walls, others will benefit from natural light, some are painted on wood or walls, wallpaper, and applications – but all ideas have two things in common: the courage and well-designed structures.

BLACK WALL INTERIORS DESIGN OFFFICE FOR A MODERN HOME

BLACK WALL INTERIORS DESIGN OFFFICE FOR A MODERN HOME

BLACK WALL INTERIORS DESIGN FOR A MODERN HOME

BLACK WALL INTERIORS DESIGN FOR A MODERN HOME

BLACK WALL INTERIORS DESIGN DINNING ROOM FOR A MODERN HOME

BLACK WALL INTERIORS DESIGN DINNING ROOM FOR A MODERN HOME

BLACK WALL INTERIORS DESIGN BEDROOM FOR A MODERN HOME

BLACK WALL INTERIORS DESIGN BEDROOM FOR A MODERN HOME

BLACK WALL INTERIORS DESIGN KITCHEN FOR A MODERN HOME

BLACK WALL INTERIORS DESIGN KITCHEN FOR A MODERN HOME

Reverse Lunge with Diagonal Lift

Lunges are a fantastic functional lower body exercise, and the benefits can be enhanced by adding an upper body component to the basic lunge movement pattern. One of the most productive total body lunge variations is the reverse lunge with a diagonal lift.
The exercise improves hip mobility in the front of the rear leg, while also increasing strength and stability in the front leg and increasing core strength and mobility. Specifically, it improves hip flexor mobility while training the body to move smoothly in the spiral line. It also encourages proper tri-planar movement.
Start standing with feet shoulder width apart in upright posture. Hold a medicine ball, dumbbell, or kettlebell (or even a body bar) positioned at the right hip pocket region. Step back with the right leg to perform a reverse lunge. At the same time move both arms diagonally up and back over the left shoulder until a comfortable stretch is felt in the anterior (front) of the right hip. Do NOT allow the back to arch. Pause in this position for one or two seconds.
Do 10 – 15 repetitions on one side then repeat on the other side. It is important that you keep both feet facing forward and keep your trunk upright throughout the movement.
Regressions:
Perform the movement without a medicine ball, dumbbell, or bar
Start in the split stance lunge position instead of having to step back
Progressions:
Increase weight you are holding.
Perform the movement in an alternating side manner vs one side at a time.
Video Links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDyGhcm-aVs

Trip to Hyderabad Cont……

Today I am leaving to Hyderabad for the assignment. Funny, there seems to be a lot of things that we do when doing an overseas consulting assignment but don’t really talk about it. The stuff we do for preparation has two parts

Things considered as part of consulting process
Marketing, prospecting and selling
Proposal, budget & contract
Invoicing and receiving advance payment
Preparation / Intake

Things that are part of the consulting process but gets taken for granted
Requesting Invitation Letter to process visa
Applying for visa
Travel & Medical Insurance
Foreign Exchange
Transport to and from Airport – in your country and the country you are visiting
Travel advice regarding security, weather etc

I addition it is up to the consultant to find out about interesting things in the city s/he visits. In my experience some assignments will give you a bit of time in the evenings and it can be boring to be stuck in a hotel all the time. Suggest the web or lonely planet for this.

Also rule of thumb is exchange a bit of money at the airport itself. Trust me you will spend more time and money in trying to look for better exchange rates.

Quick Tip: The Sims 3 – Game Recording Is Slightly Darker Than The ‘Normal’ Colours Of Regular Gameplay [FIX]

Just a Quick Tip for those of you recording The Sims 3 and finding that your videos are looking ‘darker’ than the original gameplay itself – a problem that has been around for some people for over a year now… It’s not that the game isn’t recordable (although for some people they got nothing but ‘blank/black screens’ a few years ago) it’s that the recordings are coming out, what looks like, a few shades darker than what the game really is.
I was recently seeing a spike in the number of people talking about this problem again and decided to see if I could find a fix, or at least a workaround, for it; and what I found was something that everyone can do for now (at least until AMD/NVIDIA or Maxis/EA makes an update that fully fixes the issue) and that is simply: to run The Sims 3 in Windowed Mode.

Whether you are using Dxtory, Bandicam, Afterburner or most other game recording programs (even NVIDIA’s Shadowplay has the same issue for some people), the fix [more of a workaround] that I found for now at least allows you to record your Sims 3 gameplay with proper colours, as you can see in these frames extracted from a couple of game recordings, below:

Comparison between the display modes and the colours when recording (Darker vs. ‘Normal’) for the recording issue with The Sims 3, showing that the workaround works [at least for now] in two extracted frames from two game recordings (one in Windowed Mode and one in Fullscreen Mode). [In the right half, the camera has been ‘zoomed in’]

Have fun recording your Sims 3 gameplay once again, if this problem has made you stop – and
See You In The Games!

Paperless Mission #11: Getting Started with Edmodo

This is the eleventh installment in my Go Paperless! Challenge Series. You can check out the other entries in the series here. Also be sure to link up with my Paperless Challenge Linky!

Mission #11: Get Started with Edmodo

One of the tools that I started using in the classroom this year is Edmodo. If you’re not familiar with it, Edmodo is a learning management system that allows students and teachers to interact online in safe environment. It looks and feels a lot like Facebook but without all of the potential problems Facebook could create — especially for very young users.

1. Create a teacher account and create your group for your class.
Teacher accounts are free, and they’re the first step toward using this in your classroom. Parents and students aren’t able to access Edmodo unless they know the access code that a teacher has given them.

2. Add some content for your students to engage with the first time they use Edmodo. You can ask a question for discussion or take a poll as a good first activity. You’ll want to have something queued to go so that students don’t just start posting randomness. (They may do that anyway at first, but you can at least buy yourself some time to talk about guidelines and procedures for that before they get too carried away.)

3. Invite students by giving them the Group Code. This is unique to your group, and students will need an access code for each group they join with their student account. Joining your group doesn’t give them the power to search for other groups. Similarly, if another teacher at your school is using Edmodo, he or she will also have a Group Code that students can enter and just add the group to their account. It’s pretty easy.

4. Once all of your students have joined the group, lock your group. This will prevent other students from other classes inadvertently joining, and it’s generally a good security measure. You can always unlock the group temporarily later on if you end up getting a new student.

5. Create an assignment. This essentially creates a place for students to turn in their work. Everything that they complete on their iPads gets turned in through the assignments I create on Edmodo. Then I can see which students have turned it in, assign grades, and give feedback. The beauty of this system is that I can grade work as it comes in without worrying about losing something. This is especially helpful on larger assignments where students tend to stagger their completion.

6. Give quizzes. I won’t lie — this is probably one of the most tedious parts about Edmodo from a teaching perspective. You have to manually input all of the questions, and there’s currently not a way for teachers to share their quizzes with one another. But the time you put in on the front end of creating the test is more than made up for on the back end by the immediate grading of the multiple choice, true false, and matching questions. I’ll talk more about Edmodo quizzes in a future post.

7. Set up small groups. You can create multiple small groups within your group, and students can belong to more than one small group. That means that you can have small groups for reading as well as different small groups for research projects in Social Studies, etc.

Preparing Students

My students really did see this as Facebook-lite, so it was important that we created some guidelines as a group. Here are some of the rules we discussed and implemented as a class:
  • Use posts to discuss school-related content only — not to share personal information or “status updates.”
  • Use appropriate school language and grammar, not texting language.
  • Be positive and kind and show good “Netiquette.”
My fabulous media specialist, Sandi at Teacher Technotopia, did a series of lessons with students about “Netiquette” prior to this, which helped a lot. I also moderated the conversations a lot at the beginning. As the teacher, you can delete things that other students post and you can send that student a direct message to let them know that you deleted their post and why you did so. That helped with my class tremendously.  
As a side-note, one of the things I like about Edmodo is that you can send your students direct messages, and they can send you messages, too, but they can’t send direct messages to each other. Anything they post is either public within the group or for the teacher-only. This eliminated some of my concerns about possible cyber-bullying.

How I Used This in My Classroom

Once we got going with Edmodo, I used it constantly. Virtually every test (except math) was done through Edmodo. It was also great for collecting student work, taking polls, and facilitating class discussions. For example, when we were deciding what our class team name would be for field day, I was able to relegate that entire conversation to Edmodo rather than take up valuable class time on it. I also love that students can access Edmodo from any computer or mobile device, so they could keep going on assignments even if they couldn’t take their iPads home. It’s not a perfect platform, but it was really helpful in my move toward a paperless classroom.

Do you use Edmodo in your classroom? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments section!

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN STYLE ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN STYLE

After a look at the pictures in this charming crib Scandinavia, we can only guess at the last, this apartment has no space. You’ll probably be surprised to know that in reality, the total area of ​​the house has a room of 44 square meters. Located Vasastan, Stockholm, this bright and comfortable studio seems to have everything: a beautiful modern design, function and a general atmosphere of welcome.

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN STYLE

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN STYLE

According Alvhem Makleri & Interior, it is an opportunity that exudes peace and tranquility. The living room is a bright and social, with the opening of both kitchen and bedroom. Windows dissolves the border between the inside and provides natural light to govern. We are sure that you have already noticed alcove large enough for a king-size bed. This can be a bit flat, but the design approach used to improve inspires only the “oversized” ideas.

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN CONCEPT

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT DESIGN CONCEPT

ALL-IN-ONE-BATHROOM APARTMENT DESIGN

ALL-IN-ONE-BATHROOM APARTMENT DESIGN

ALL-IN-ONE-ROOM APARTMENT SCHEME

Rörstrandsgatan Popular Extraordinary Penthouse

Extraordinary penthouse in the popular Rörstrandsgatan.

Extraordinary penthouse
Extraordinary Penthouse
This confidential loft with windows on all sides there is an optimal location in the circumcircle Birkastan. A rarity in the design and location where the architect has planned floor in every detail to create an open atmosphere where the different rooms in a natural way integrated with each other. This floor will host a social get-together in a bright environment with plenty of space by nearly 5-foot ceilings in the ridge and a large sunny terrace right next to the kitchen. Beams are tastefully built and floor is one of few lofts that are not constrained by snetak. 
Well-chosen and thoughtful details include floor heating under beautiful oiled oak parquet flooring and dimmable spotlights throughout the whole apartment. In the living room we find a plastered fireplace with adjustable chimney sat on the black painted fire brick. Modern sound systems are drawn into the walls. Windows are fitted with double glazing which means, in principle, completely eliminated the sound inlet and heat protection glass to keep the floor cool in the summer time. The kitchen is very lavish and signed exclusive German manufacturer Bulthaup. The kitchen is consistently white countertops in the unique composite material is white Corian. The machinery in Alufinish come from reputable Gaggenau. The two bedrooms are furnished with site-built wardrobes and the slightly larger bedroom has both big walk-in closet and bathroom adjacent. Both bathrooms enjoy exclusive furnishings and are equipped with underfloor heating. One of the bathrooms have both shower and bath and the other only shower. Modern washing machines and tumble dryers from Miele. 
Rörstrandsgatan is one of Stockholm’s main restaurant streets with wide range of pubs, cafes and bars. Nearby is also an opportunity to cozy walking and jogging along the Karlberg Canal. Or how about a picnic or playing tennis in Karlberg Palace Park, only a few hundred meters away. Good communications in the form of Karlberg station with both commuter rail and bus service as well as St. Eriksplan underground station.
LivingsRoom
LivingsRoom

BeDroom Design
BeDroom Design

Bathroom Desing
Bathroom Desing

Design Schema
Design Schema

And More: Deals and Sales – Free from EA, Battlefield Hardline’s Betrayal Expansion/DLC, Until July 12th [Notification]

Just a quick Notification, for those interested in Battlefield Hardline, that an Expansion for it is currently being offered Totally Free from EA via their “On The House” promotion:

Screenshot of the Information Panel in the Origin Client for the Battlefield DLC/Expansion, Betrayal
(Click to see Full Size)

Free right now, EA is offering the Expansion for Battlefield: Hardline called Betrayal, which features 4 new maps (Thin Ice, Chinatown, Cemetery and Alcatraz), 2 New Vehicles, New Weapons (Personalize up to 5 Weapons with the Gun Bench and Test Weapons in the Gun Range!), New Assignments, New Camos, New Paints, and more [Inquisition Swooooord!lol]. While it does require the Base Game Battlefield: Hardline, even if you don’t own Hardline itself, you can Add it to your Origin Games Library and then Download it when you get Hardline in the future. If you are a Subscriber to Origin Access, you already have this available, for ‘free’ (it is part of the Vault Games available to you).

The Expansion/DLC itself was originally released in March of 2016 and although it may not help with there only being a handful of servers in North America on PC with a high number of players on them (there are a lot more if you are part of the EU), it is still worth going and grabbing [in my opinion, especially if people end up coming back or playing more in the future. I have already seen an influx of new players, thanks in part to EA’s recent Up-to-75% Off Sale and DLC Giveaways].

I have also been working on a “One Sentence Review” of all the Weapons in Battlefield: Hardline that I want to post here at The Blog in the future; but for now, if you are interested at all in Hardline, grab this while you can – and See You In the Game!

[Personal Note: I am not affiliated with, nor receive any benefits of any kind from EA/Origin (check the Links, there are no ‘Affiliate Tags’ or anything on them); I am merely an enthusiastic gamer who tries to pass on information to other gamers, when I can. Enjoy, dear reader.]

In One Sentence™ – A Battlefield Hardline Main Weapons Overview [Very Short Reviews Of Each, Currently Text-Only]

[In light of the DOUBLE XP EVENT going on right now for Hardline, I wanted to get this hopefully-helpful information up right away for everyone – so here it is without any Screenshots yet – I am collecting some together and plan to place them in-line within, Soon™]

In One Sentence™


A Battlefield Hardline

Main Weapons Overview


By: The Game Tips And More Blog


Presented in a Document-sorta-but-not-really format

I was in the Battlefield Hardline Beta, but didn’t write about it at the time [and have only played off and on since then ‘for fun’ – that is, not really getting into collecting information for others, that they could use – well, other than one Introduction To The Sabotage Gadget tutorial I did quickly a while back… I wish I did more, but I wasn’t feeling up to it, sorry all..].


Recently, I was testing out Origin Access (signing up for one Month, to see if you ‘lose’ things you have Unlocked/Earned after Cancelling the Subscription – which I will write about once it expires) and I have been playing a bit more as well [as I can], wanting to go through each Weapon in Hardline and give a really short ‘Review’ of each, to give everyone a Basic Overview of them – I dubbed these ‘mini-reviews’ the highly-creative-and-original “In One Sentence”™!

Here then, is a listing of all of the ‘main’ weapons in the game, that is, the Primary (eg. Rifles) and Secondary (eg. Pistols), the Thrown (eg. Grenades) and Melee (eg. Knives) categories, with a one-sentence ‘review’ of every single one of them – at least for all of the ones I have Unlocked and have available since starting Origin Access [which opened up all of the Expansion Weapons – there are only about 3-4 types missing out of all of them now… I may ‘tweak’ the descriptions over the next little while but other than small phrasing changes and adding Images later, this is the list, ready to go.]

The list itself is divided into the Classes available in the game, listing all Primary and Secondary weapons available to that class to Purchase and Use, roughly as they appear on the in-game Menu Lists, with the Thrown and Melee weapon categories at the end. As such, there are some overlap/duplicated entries when written in Text form (eg. a pistol found in the Professional list will also be listed in the Operator list, if they both can use them, with the same or nearly the same Review/Overview for each listing). This way though, you can just skip to the Class section you are interested in playing and see the Weapons as they appear in the game, not having to worry about searching for the Weapon name itself.

I would like to do the Gadgets (Class Special Tools) as well, sometime in the future – but for now, enjoy these little summaries of the Main Weapons available, to give you an idea of them if you are a newer player, or to help you in finding something that fits your playstyle (eg. perhaps you want a ‘slow and hard-hitting’ weapon or perhaps you prefer a ‘fast-shooting with lighter damage’ one, and so on) – hopefully this information will help you out in some way, especially if you are new to Hardline (I have already seen an influx of new players since recent EA/Origin Sales, which is great to see). Enjoy, dear reader, and get in there for the Double XP Event on now – and See You In The Game!

Rating Key (if applicable to weapon, when used):

? = Not sure [yet] if they are Criminals-only or Cops-only usage

* = Weapons I ‘Liked’ (fit my playstyle(s), is unique in some way)

** = Weapons that are A Personal Favourite (I use a lot or ‘mainly’ would use)

Scout Elite = A fairly fast-shooting and silence-able sniper rifle with medium-high damage, this Default Professional weapon only improves with Unlocks. **

R700LTR (Cops) = A slow-firing but powerful killer that is silence-able, Magnum Rounds can be Purchased after 50 Kills to make Vehicles cry. *

AWM (Criminals) = Feeling much slower than the Scout – but also seeming more powerful – the first thing I would want to unlock is the silencer for this big boy.

388-Recon = Feeling like it has decent ‘punch’ and good range – if the Scout is “fast” and the AWM is “slow” then the 388-Recon is “middle-of-the-road”, in terms of rate of fire, it seems. *

.300 Knockout = What was once a fast and sleek one-hit-kill-machine, worthy of its’ lengthy and difficult Unlock, this rifle has since been Nerfed™ with a slower firing rate and its’ one-hit-kill ability taken away – and while still powerful and silent, to those who used it in it’s former glory, it is now a slow and decrepid version of it’s former self.

AWS = A pre-silenced but slower-shooting, medium-to-long range rifle, with what feels like medium-ish damage, even though the in-game listing has it as “high damage” –  perhaps this one gets better after a few Unlocks, it felt pretty under-powered and a little inaccurate to me (but this could be the slower bullet speed due to the built-in silencing barrel).

M98b = This bolt-action sniper rifle packs a mean punch – it has so much power it can shoot pilots inside helicopters [I’ve done it! Once! lol] and has very little bullet drop-off – it can even be silenced, but it can it ever be equipped with a Straight-Pull Bolt (to allow you to shoot again without going out of scope) and its firing rate is pretty slow.

M1903 = This World-War-II-era rifle, reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan, comes ‘pre-loaded’ with a Straight-Pull Bolt (allowing you to shoot again without going out of a scope, which Unlocks in 20 kills) and can eventually Unlock a Silencer after 50 kills – but even though I read it is supposed to be powerful against vehicles, it shoots a little too slow and does too little damage to infantry, for my personal liking – maybe you’ll have better luck with it.

SOCOM16 (Cops) = A medium-damage semi-automatic rifle that can be silenced, it feels somewhat inaccurate – but it does have the ability to fire quickly.

SR-25 ECC (Cops) = A semi-automatic rifle that can be silenced, its decent damage along with its fast firing rate will make this a formidable weapon to use, if the medium-low recoil (which feels less than the SOCOM16) can be accounted for. *

M82.416 = Even though the firing rate of this un-silenceable rifle has been severely reduced since I last played with it in Hardline (with the ability to fire a number of times a second back then), it remains quite the hand cannon (firing about once every second now) – with so much power there is very little bullet drop (and it can still take out pilots inside helicopters) – I think it did more damage back then too, but it is still nice to use for the sense of power it brings. *

RO933 M1 = A silence-able rifle that seems to be able to fire as fast as you can click, I like to run this one with an Infra-vision scope, hide in the bushes – and let the bullets fall like hail upon the enemy from the shadows. **

SAIGA .308 = A fast-firing rifle, this one ‘feels fun’ to run with even though it is a little inaccurate, because it has decent damage output. *

PTR-91 = A rifle with mediocre damage, its’ fast fire rate can make up for it, if the medium-ish recoil can be compensated for.

SP-AR = Although fast-firing, this rifle isn’t very accurate while doing so, with its’ high recoil – at least it as a neat, unique ‘report’ [sound].

M1A1 = Although it can never be silenced and therefore will always give your position away when you fire, you probably wouldn’t want to silence this variation on the “Tommy Gun” as it is a pleasure to listen to the unique, heavy-hitting sound this World War 2 staple makes – it is slow to reload but has a decent firing rate and decent punch. *

Mp7 = Although this silence-able PDW shoots very fast, you have to be in Close-ish Range or else you’ll just be burning through your ammo.

MP5SD = This pre-silenced SMG is fun as hell to use, with its’ fast firing rate, good accuracy and decent damage; I like to run this with an IRNV scope and Extended Magazines, staying on the edges of the area, never letting the enemy know what is raining bullets down upon them until it shows up on the Kill Log. **

M1 = The World-War-2-era M1 is a unique rifle that is fun to play and easy to use, with its’ high accuracy and unique report [sound] – if only it could be scoped (and silenced).


RO933 BLK = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked Yet, sorry]

M110K5 = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked yet sorry]

1887 = Although powerful, this old-west-style shotgun feels slightly slow when compared to its’ modern-day counterparts – but it is fun to spin it end-over-end a’la Terminator 2 style to reload, once you unlock the ability to Saw Off the Stock. *

MAMMOTH GUN = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked yet sorry]


SYNDICATE GUN = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked yet sorry]

A-8s = With only one arrow to fire and a looong reload time, the “Harpoon Gun” can still be a blast to play with, as it is fun as hell to kill someone with this unique weapon that won’t make you show up on the mini-map at all – it is just that you will probably die too (while reloading). **

G18C = Although fast-shooting, this pistol feels a little inaccurate.

93R = With good accuracy and higher damage, this little bad boy can even be silenced, eventually. **

MAC-10 = While the recoil will have you shooting at the sky for the most part, this little guy will spit out bullets and damage faster than a shaken baby spits out broken teeth to make up for it – it’s just that you may be out of ammo before the enemy dies.

MP9 (Cops) = Surprisingly accurate if you can compensate for the recoil, this little fella doesn’t have much in the way of scopes, but it can be silenced after 90 kills. **

TEC-9 (Criminals) = Although fast-shooting, this little guy isn’t the most accurate puppy in the litter (but if you use the sights it does help) – it also doesn’t do the greatest damage, it seems.

IMPROVISED GUN = With decent damage output, decent accuracy and a nice ‘feel’ to it, this little fella is fast becoming a Personal Favourite. **


DUAL VZ.61 = Holding two of these “Czech Uzis” akimbo, you will feel like you are in a John Woo movie – only the inaccuracy will force you to run up close to everyone – but it will be fun doing it. *

T62 CEW = Only one word for this one-hit-disable, “non-lethal” (it counts as a ‘kill’ for Patches and Assignments) weapon that makes all others respect your authority: Fun. **

TRACKING DART = The Tracking Dart is mainly for ‘tagging’ opponent vehicles so that they can be seen by literally everyone – and RPGs will ‘lock on’ to them too – it even works on people! *

FN57 = While this little guy shoots fast, it doesn’t seem to do a heckuva lot of damage – getting fast headshots makes up for it though. *

G17 Race Pistol = A great little dealer of damage, it can shoot as fast as you can click – too bad there are no options for scopes or silencers whatsoever. **

870P MAGNUM = Although this is a slower-firing pump-action style shotgun, it has very high damage output and a little bit of range, too. *

SPAS-12 = While still a pump-action shotgun, the SPAS-12 fires faster than the 870P MAGNUM and it feels like it has a bit more accuracy, too – it just doesn’t do quite the damage of the 870P.

SAIGA-12 (Criminals) = With a nice rate of fire, it feels like it does damage somewhere between the SPAS-12 and the 870P MAGNUM. **

STAKEOUT (Cops) = With damage a bit lower than the 870P or the SPAS-12, shotgun ‘feels’ quite a bit more accurate – and with its’ nice rate of fire (for a pump-action), this beauty quickly became a Personal Favourite to run with. **

M4 (Criminals) = With a nice rate of fire and decent damage, this cannon is quickly becoming a Personal Favourite. **

KSG12 (Cops) = Although a pump-action shotgun, this thing hits like a horse’s hoof to the head – I dubbed this cannon the “Kiss The Ground” shotgun right away. **

1887 = Although powerful, this old-west-style shotgun shoots slow – when compared to its’ modern-day counterparts – but it is fun to spin it end-over-end a’la Terminator 2 style to reload, once you unlock the ability to Saw Off the Stock. *

DOUBLE-BARREL SHOTGUN = A true source of unearthly power once unlocked, the DOUBLE-BARRELLED SHOTGUN will make you feel like a living angel of death, as even one barrel’s worth will end an enemy close by; just point this finger of god at an enemy and say “die” – and as long as they aren’t too far away – they will do it for you. Worth the effort to Unlock and a Personal Favourite. **

SA-58 OSW = I call this “The Recoil Machine”, as unless you fire one bullet at a time, you will be covered in rifle Recoil.

SCAR-H (Cops) = This silence-able machine gun has some recoil, but it “levels out” and can be compensated for, allowing you to enjoy the high damage output and decent accuracy (especially if ‘tap-shooting’ for short bursts). *

FAL (Criminals) = Although this rifle has a fair amount of recoil, it seems to have high damage output – if it can be compensated for, this could be a nice heavy-hitting weapon to run with. **

HCAR (Cops) = With a medium amount of recoil, it “levels out” and can be compensated for, allowing you to enjoy the high damage output and decent accuracy (even during continuous fire, if you can control the muzzle). **

HK51 (Criminals) = Although it has a bit of recoil, this silence-able rifle has a nice ‘smooth’ feel to it. **

SG510 (Cops) = With a nice feeling of accuracy (aimed fire, with recoil compensated for) it also feels like a decently-hard-hitting weapon – this could be a new Personal Favourite for me. *

M39 EMR = With a little less accuracy than the other Battle Rifles, the M39 EMR ‘feels’ a bit smoother though, with a nice rate of fire and the ability to be silenced – it’s just too bad it doesn’t have Extended Magazines available, as it always feels like it’s running out of ammo just a tad too soon. *

M1 = The World-War-2-era M1 is a unique rifle that is fun to play and easy to use, with its’ high accuracy and unique report [sound] – if only it could be scoped (and silenced).

Mp7 = Although this silence-able PDW shoots very fast, you have to be in Close-ish Range or else you’ll just be burning through your ammo.

MP5SD = This pre-silenced SMG is fun as hell to use, with its’ fast firing rate, good accuracy and decent damage; I like to run this with an IRNV scope and Extended Magazines, never letting the enemy know what is raining bullets down upon them until it shows up on the Kill Log. **

RO933 BLK = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked Yet, sorry]

AWS = A pre-silenced but slower-shooting, medium-to-long range rifle, with what feels like medium-ish damage, even though the in-game listing has it as “high damage” –  perhaps this one gets better after a few Unlocks, it felt pretty under-powered and a little inaccurate to me (but this could be the slower bullet speed due to the built-in silencing barrel).

M1903 = This World-War-II-era rifle, reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan, comes ‘pre-loaded’ with a Straight-Pull Bolt (allowing you to shoot again without going out of a scope, which Unlocks in 20 kills) and can eventually Unlock a Silencer after 50 kills – but even though I read it is supposed to be powerful against vehicles, it shoots a little too slow and does too little damage to infantry, for my personal liking – maybe you’ll have better luck with it.

MAMMOTH GUN = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked Yet, sorry]



SYNDICATE GUN = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked Yet, sorry]

A-8s = With only one arrow to fire and a looong reload time, the “Harpoon Gun” can still be a blast to play with, as it is fun as hell to kill someone with this unique weapon that won’t make you show up on the mini-map at all – it is just that you will probably die too (while reloading). **

45T = This pistol doesn’t seem to do much damage, nor does it shoot very fast – but that slow rate of fire gives it decent accuracy.

.40 PRO (Criminals) = While this pistol is decently accurate, it only does mediocre damage and it doesn’t fire very fast – another enemy will probably kill you before the one you are shooting at dies, unless you ‘get the drop on them’.

M1911A1 (Cops) = While it doesn’t shoot very fast or do above medium-ish damage, this WWII-era pistol seems to be decently accurate – but it will win no awards.

BALD EAGLE = With huge damage output, this ‘Hand Cannon’ will feel like you are wielding a hand-size shotgun – too bad it can’t be silenced or have longer scopes put on it. *

T62 CEW = Only one word for this one-hit-disable, “non-lethal” (it counts as a ‘kill’ for Patches and Assignments) weapon that makes all others respect your authority: Fun. **

TRACKING DART = The Tracking Dart is mainly for ‘tagging’ opponent vehicles so that they can be seen by literally everyone – and RPGs will ‘lock on’ to them too – it even works on people! *

FN57 = While this little guy shoots fast, it doesn’t seem to do a heckuva lot of damage – getting fast headshots makes up for it though. *

G17 Race Pistol = A great little dealer of damage, it can shoot as fast as you can click – too bad there are no options for scopes or silencers whatsoever. **

DUAL VZ.61 = Holding two of these “Czech Uzis” akimbo, you will feel like you are in a John Woo movie – only the inaccuracy will force you to run up close to everyone – but it will be fun doing it. *

MP5K = Fast-shooting and if you can compensate for the recoil, pretty accurate – it even works great silenced. *

M/45 (Cops) = Not as ‘smooth’ handling as the MP5K, this SMG feels ever-so-slightly more accurate and has decent damage, to boot. *

MPX (Cops) = A fast-shooting and fun smg to run with, it seems to have a little less recoil than the other SMGs but doesn’t ‘feel’ as accurate, if that makes any sense – it is still pretty good and if you are able to compensate for recoil, a nice gun to use. *

K10 (Cops) = Insanely insane with an insane firing rate, it has been literally only for the insane since the Beta – and maybe those who don’t like keeping bullets in their gun – heaven help anyone if you point this at their head. **

FMG9 = Suppress-able at 90 kills, this fast-shooting SMG ‘feels’ more accurate than its’ kindred, especially after unlocking the Laser Sight and some Scopes – and with a unique stock animation, it is a ‘fun’ weapon to run with. *

M1A1 = Although it can never be silenced and therefore will always give your position away when you fire, you probably wouldn’t want to silence this variation on the “Tommy Gun” as it is a pleasure to listen to the unique, heavy-hitting sound this World War 2 staple makes – it is slow to reload but has a decent firing rate and decent punch. *

SCORPION = A fast-shooting gun (almost as fast as the K10 it seems), this silence-able fella ‘feels’ ever-so-slightly less maneuverable than its’ brethren – and it does a bit less damage, too – otherwise, it would have been a Personal Favourite (I have almost unlocked the Suppressor already on it). *

Mp7 = Although this silence-able PDW shoots very fast, you have to be in Close-ish Range or else you’ll just be burning through your ammo.

UMP45 (Criminals) = Although slightly more accurate feeling, it also feels like it shoots slower and hurts a little less than similar weapons.

UMP9 = Silence-able after 70 kills, this SMG ‘feels’ a little bulky to wield, but seems like it does a notch more damage than its’ counterparts. *

UZI (Criminals) = Silence-able but unfortunately “The Uzi” in-game seems different than it does in the movies – it shoots far slower than on the big screen, but it is also more accurate here. *

M5 NAVY (Cops) = Making you feel like you’re in your own 80’s movie, the M5 NAVY packs a punch and seems to keep accuracy even out to mid-ranges (aimed or not) – quickly making this a Personal Favourite. **

M12S (Cops) = “The Spaghetti Uzi” ‘feels’ ‘clunky’ and a ‘bit’ ‘inaccurate’ to me, ‘but’ it seems to have a ‘few more’ bullets than ‘similar weapons’, which ‘mostly’ ‘makes up for it’, quote marks. *

AUG PARA (Criminals) = While this Criminal-only SMG ‘feels’ like it does decent damage and is fairly accurate, it ends up being only ‘mediocre’ in… well.. Everything.

MP5SD = This pre-silenced SMG is fun as hell to use, with its’ fast firing rate, good accuracy and decent damage; I like to run this with an IRNV scope and Extended Magazines, never letting the enemy know what is raining bullets down upon them, until it shows up on the Kill Log… **

MX4 = Although very ‘average’ in all stats in-game, the stylish MX4 ‘feels’ like it is an efficient damage-wielding gun that is fun to use for some reason – I just kept on using it, eventually unlocking almost everything I wanted in each Attachment category, despite losing many shootouts with it.

M1 = The World-War-2-era M1 is a unique rifle that is fun to play and easy to use, with its’ high accuracy and unique report [sound] – if only it could be scoped (and silenced).

RO933 .300 BLK = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked yet sorry]

M110K5 = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked yet sorry]

1887 = Although powerful, this old-west-style shotgun feels slightly slow when compared to its’ modern-day counterparts – but it is fun to spin it end-over-end a’la Terminator 2 style to reload, once you unlock the ability to Saw Off the Stock. *

AWS = A pre-silenced but slower-shooting, medium-to-long range rifle, with what feels like medium-ish damage, even though the in-game listing has it as “high damage” –  perhaps this one gets better after a few Unlocks, it felt pretty under-powered and a little inaccurate to me (but this could be the slower bullet speed due to the built-in silencing barrel).

M1903 = This World-War-II-era rifle, reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan, comes ‘pre-loaded’ with a Straight-Pull Bolt (allowing you to shoot again without going out of a scope, which Unlocks in 20 kills) and can eventually Unlock a Silencer after 50 kills – but even though I read it is supposed to be powerful against vehicles, it shoots a little too slow and does too little damage to infantry, for my personal liking – maybe you’ll have better luck with it.


MAMMOTH GUN = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked yet sorry]


SYNDICATE GUN = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked yet sorry]

A-8s = With only one arrow to fire and a looong reload time, the “Harpoon Gun” can still be a blast to play with, as it is fun as hell to kill someone with this unique weapon that won’t make you show up on the mini-map at all – it is just that you will probably die too (while reloading). **

.38 SNUB = Seen in almost any cop movie between 1970 and 1990, this little guy fires fast, ‘moves’ smoothly and is nice and accurate – but it better be because you only get five shots to work with – and there are hardly any add-ons for it at all. *

.44 MAGNUM (Criminals) = The Classic is here, from Movies to Real Life mayhem, the “fourty-four” is a hand cannon of damage to all it gets pointed at, nuff’ said. *

.410 JURY = While not the fastest firing, this little bad boy is literally a hand-size-shotgun (it fires small shotgun-style shells) and since it is smaller than the Fourty-Four and The Eagle – but seems to blast out the damage even out to close-to-medium ranges – this weapon is fun-as-hell to run with. A Personal Favourite. **

.357 RS (Cops) = While still a “magnum” like The Fourty-Four, it doesn’t seem to do quite as much damage – or have the range the .44 MAGNUM has – but it has a bit more ammo at 8 rounds.

T62 CEW = Only one word for this one-hit-disable, “non-lethal” (it counts as a ‘kill’ for Patches and Assignments) weapon that makes all others respect your authority: Fun. **

TRACKING DART = The Tracking Dart is mainly for ‘tagging’ opponent vehicles so that they can be seen by literally everyone – and RPGs will ‘lock on’ to them too – it even works on people! *

FN57 = While this little guy shoots fast, it doesn’t seem to do a heckuva lot of damage – getting fast headshots makes up for it though. *

G17 Race Pistol = A great little dealer of damage, it can shoot as fast as you can click – too bad there are no options for scopes or silencers whatsoever. **

DUAL VZ.61 = Holding two of these “Czech Uzis” akimbo, you will feel like you are in a John Woo movie – only the inaccuracy will force you to run up close to everyone – but it will be fun doing it. *

R0933 = With a high rate-of-fire and equipped with a few little add-ons ‘out of the box’, the RO933 ‘feels’ smooth and easy-to-use, even if it isn’t the fastest killer. *

AKS74U (Criminals) = With a notch up in damage and a couple notches up in accuracy from the RO933, the AKS74U ‘just feels right’. **

G36C (Cops) = Having not seen a “G36C” myself since BF3, this felt like it’s ‘little brother’ – a ‘smooth’ to maneuver with, compact, pretty accurate gun. *

SG553 (Cops) = With the highest average in-game stats than the other Carbines, this weapon should “kick criminal butt” – and that, it does (especially with some Add-ons). A Personal Favourite.**

CAR-556 = Packing a wallop of hit damage and feeling pretty accurate, even at range in short bursts, I have no idea why I can’t ‘get into’ using this gun more – perhaps it is the ‘harsh’ sound it makes? LOL *

ACWR = While the in-game stats show it as fairly inaccurate, I found the ACWR to do decent damage, ‘feel’ smooth to use – and do a nice bit of hurt to the enemy (even at range if you can compensate for the bit of recoil). *

AKM (Criminals) = If you can deal with the huge amount of recoil this gun has, it does seem to have a pretty accurate, crazy-damage, first shot and high-damage short bursts – other than that, it is actually ‘average’ in all stats, in-game.

M16A3 (Cops) = Accurate and with a fast firing rate, silence-able and reminiscent of “movie M16s”, there isn’t much to not like about this weapon. A Personal Favourite. **

M416 (Criminals) = This carbine ‘feels’ like it handles a lot smoother than the AKM, feeling more accurate as well, even though the in-game stats are comparable.

ARM = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked Yet, sorry]

L85A2 = With a bit of recoil already, it is accentuated by the pre-loaded 4X scope it comes with – but if you are just ‘runnin-and-gunnin’ with it, it feels like a formidable weapon up close – it just seems to have accuracy problems (bullet spread) at anything other than point blank range.

MDC (Cops) = With what seems like a high amount of recoil and inaccuracy, the MDC doesn’t seem to live up to its’ stylish look – it ‘feels’ a bit worse than the L85A2, in regards to ‘handling’.

FAMAS = While quite inaccurate if you just ‘spray-n-pray’, aiming seems to help a lot with this rifle – it ‘felt’ a lot better too, after Unlocking the Extended Magazine – and it seems like it could only improve from there.

F2000 (Criminals) = This huge wall of metal feels like you are carrying a rocket launcher, but with its’ fast firing rate and decent accuracy, there’s not much to dislike about it – other than it doesn’t seem to ‘hit’ as hard as I would have expected . *

SAR-21 = In-game, the stats on this weapon are very ‘average’ – and it ‘felt’ that way, except for the accuracy which, especially if you can compensate for it, seems ‘high’, actually – and it only seemed to get better as I Unlocked more Attachments. *

RPK (Criminals) = With a large magazine size (50) and how this gun ‘feels’ heavy-hitting, while a bit inaccurate at first, I think it can be a formidable weapon after some Unlocks.

RPK-74 = While comparable to the RPK (of course), the ‘74 ‘felt’ a little more accurate, actually. *

AUG A3 = The AUG A3 already ‘felt’ pretty accurate, but with ‘included’ 4X scope and if you can compensate for the recoil, it is a pleasure to shoot – too bad it doesn’t seem to do high damage (but about a ‘medium’ amount). *

M1A1 = Although it can never be silenced and therefore will always give your position away when you fire, you probably wouldn’t want to silence this variation on the “Tommy Gun” as it is a pleasure to listen to the unique, heavy-hitting sound this World War 2 staple makes – it is slow to reload but has a decent firing rate and decent punch. *

Mp7 = Although this silence-able PDW shoots very fast, you have to be in Close-ish Range or else you’ll just be burning through your ammo.

MP5SD = This pre-silenced SMG is fun as hell to use, with its’ fast firing rate, good accuracy and decent damage; I like to run this with an IRNV scope and Extended Magazines, never letting the enemy know what is raining bullets down upon them until it shows up on the Kill Log. **


M110K5 = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked Yet, sorry]



1887 = Although powerful, this old-west-style shotgun feels slightly slow when compared to its’ modern-day counterparts – but it is fun to spin it end-over-end a’la Terminator 2 style to reload, once you unlock the ability to Saw Off the Stock. *

AWS = A pre-silenced but slower-shooting, medium-to-long range rifle, with what feels like medium-ish damage, even though the in-game listing has it as “high damage” –  perhaps this one gets better after a few Unlocks, it felt pretty under-powered and a little inaccurate to me (but this could be the slower bullet speed due to the built-in silencing barrel).

M1903 = This World-War-II-era rifle, reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan, comes ‘pre-loaded’ with a Straight-Pull Bolt (allowing you to shoot again without going out of a scope, which Unlocks in 20 kills) and can eventually Unlock a Silencer after 50 kills – but even though I read it is supposed to be powerful against vehicles, it shoots a little too slow and does too little damage to infantry, for my personal liking – maybe you’ll have better luck with it.

MAMMOTH GUN = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked Yet, sorry]



SYNDICATE GUN = [N/A, Haven’t Unlocked Yet, sorry]

A-8s = With only one arrow to fire and a looong reload time, the “Harpoon Gun” can still be a blast to play with, as it is fun as hell to kill someone with this unique weapon that won’t make you show up on the mini-map at all – it is just that you will probably die too (while reloading). **

92FS = Silence-able but not the fastest-shooting pistol, nor the most damaging – it does seem accurate though, if you can compensate for the recoil – maybe it would become something worthwhile after some Unlocks.

P226 (Cops) = Although fairly fast-firing, it is somewhat inaccurate – I would say it is the ‘slightly faster but less accurate version of the Criminals-only CZ-75’ if I had to compare it.

CZ-75 (Criminals) = Although fairly accurate, it is somewhat slow-firing – I would say it is the ‘slightly slower but more accurate version of the Cops-only P226’ if I had to compare it.

G17 = Nicely accurate and firing as fast as you can click, it seems, the G17 became an instant Personal Favourite. **

FN57 = While this little guy shoots fast, it doesn’t seem to do a heckuva lot of damage – getting fast headshots makes up for it though. *

G17 Race Pistol = A great little dealer of damage, it can shoot as fast as you can click – too bad there are no options for scopes or silencers whatsoever (other than the red dot sight it comes with). **

T62 CEW = Only one word for this one-hit-disabling “non-lethal” (it counts as a ‘kill’ for Patches and Assignments) weapon that makes all others respect your authority: Fun. **

TRACKING DART = The Tracking Dart is mainly for ‘tagging’ opponent vehicles so that they can be seen by literally everyone – and RPGs will ‘lock on’ to them too – it even works on people! *

DUAL VZ.61 = Holding two of these “Czech Uzis” akimbo, you will feel like you are in a John Woo movie – only the inaccuracy will force you to run up close to everyone – but it will be fun doing it. *

M67 FRAG = With decent range, ‘The Poison Apple’ does huge damage – I think it’s killzone has been increased since Beta – a room-clearer (as long as they are in line-of-sight), but you only get one. *

M18 SMOKE = While it doesn’t damage anyone, it does provide some good ‘cover’, as it blocks not only seeing people but also spotting.

M84 FLASHBANG = While sounding very useful at first, with the faster pace and highly mobile opponents in the convoluted spaces of Hardline, having an effect with this is rare – although I have had it used on me and have seen people not able to see well for the short time it is in effect (looking around or shooting aimlessly) – it is very rare to be helpful it seems, but it happens.

GAS GRENADE = Quite useful, as it blurs the view of the enemy (affecting their aim as well) and sometimes a killer (albeit slowly) – unless you want to be affected yourself, put on a Gas Mask Gadget. **

INCENDIARY GRENADE (Cops) = Create your own “Napalm Pond” with this grenade-of-fire, which has a good range and good ‘spread’ (the area of effect is fairly big) – the only drawback is that people have to stay in it for a bit to die and some could have Fire Resistance Masks to nullify it (but that is only the Operator Class and only if they have the Robbery Expansion/DLC). *

MOLOTOV (Criminals) = The ‘homemade’ version of the Incendiary Grenade, it has the same area of effect and does the same damage, it seems – and could be nullified by the FR Mask (but as above, that is only the Operators and only if they have the right Expansion/DLC). *

THROWING KNIFE = Slightly slower to deploy and slower to travel than expected, these types of knives are fairly heavy [in real life, I used to own one when I was younger] so they have some drop to account for; but your opponent will die when one knocks them over, making these little guys fun as heck to use. **

BASEBALL BAT (Criminals?) = No matter where you grew up in the world, you will know how to wield a wooden stick – which means this guy can come out fast and keep on swingin’ – do it from behind for a Takedown. *

POLICE BATON (Cops) = A staple of Authority worldwide and resembling the Japanese ‘Tonfa’, this bad boy will knock out a perp in two hits if you don’t take him down from behind. **

NIGHTSTICK (Cops) = Like a Police Baton without the little handle, the Nightstick feels fast to use, if a bit mundane to look at.

BLACKJACK (Cops) = Although still small and slim, this little guy feels ever-so-slightly slower than the other ‘sticks’, for some reason.

COLLAPSIBLE BATON (Cops) = I had no idea there would be such a long delay to deploy this little fella, since he’s so short…but don’t worry he becomes longer.

SHOVEL = As a farming tool, I feel that it has a sufficiently-long delay time to whip-it-out… and that’s enough double entendre for now.

GOLD CLUB (Criminals?) = Feeling like it wields ever-so-slightly slower than say, a baton or bat, it is still wicked fast – and you can do a non-lethal takedown (from behind), to Interrogate the enemy (finding out their positions on the map). *

LEAD PIPE (Criminals?) = Quick to draw and with a somewhat-satisfying ‘clunk’ when you hit an opponent, this guy is fast becoming a Personal Favourite. *

SLEDGE HAMMER (Criminals) = Slow and heavy to draw, this baby packs a mean punch once it does show its’ presence on the battlefield – a one-hit kill, it also takes down doors and crumbles thin walls with ease. *

BREACHING HAMMER (Cops) = The lawful version of a Sledgehammer, this big boy is also slow and heavy – but it forces others to ‘respect your authoritah’ once drawn as it one-hit-kills and takes down doors and thin walls with ease. *

CROWBAR (Criminals?) = If you’ve lived in any industrialized country for a time, you know what a crowbar is and what it can do – and while not seeming quite as quick-to-deploy as say, a bat or a baton, the muffled ‘donk’ sound it emits when hitting someone makes this weapon a pleasure to work with. **

KNIFE = Fast and deadly, nuff’ said.

SHANK = A weapon born out of necessity, the Shank is fast and deadly and other speedy and dangerous words… you get the point – or rather, they will. *

BOWIE KNIFE = This classic weapon, interestingly named after an owner (not its designer) feels ever-so-slightly slower than its’ other bladed brethren.

CARBON FIBER = Although sleek and stylish looking, there is an ever-so-slight delay to deploy this bad boy – but it does seem to have a unique takedown animation that can happen.

SCOUT = A fast knife that will cover your hands in blood if repeatedly wielded in a cluster of enemies.

SEAL = It feels ever-so-slightly slower than say, the Scout Knife, but it is still ‘wicked bad’, as it should be.

SURVIVAL = With an animation similar to the Bowie from the back and a seemingly-unique kill animation from above [that I have seen so far], this knife works well, even if it does seem ever-so-slightly slower than the other knives, for some reason.

TRENCH = With a ‘side animation’ similar to the Shank and a ‘front animation’ similar to the Bowie [that I have seen so far], the look of this fella makes it a touch more satisfying to kill with. *

ACB-90 (Criminals?) = With side-killing animations similar to the Shank and rear-killing animations similar to the Bowie [that I have seen so far], it does seem to deploy pretty quickly. *

DEVIL’S TOOTHPICK = The motions for using this ‘asylum invention’ on people are more ‘hectic’ and seem to shout “mayhem” (you stab less and hack more, it appears).

FIRE AXE (Cops?) = Live out your Team Fortress 2 “killing people who make W+M1 jokes” Pyro urges, or perhaps your childhood dream of being a “Firemans” (or a “Firelady”) with this slow-to-wield but ‘kick-axe’, axe. *

MACHETE = This traditional and practical knife seems to deploy quite slowly – although it does great damage and appears to kill in one hit [so far].

CLEAVER = While not as slow to use as say, the Machete or Axe, it is still “medium-slow”, a lethal takedown (even from behind) – but it doesn’t seem to have any ‘unique’ animations [that I have seen so far].

KARAMBIT = Fast and Deadly, there really is nothing else to say about this ‘little devil’ other than those two words – really, I’m not just being lazy here. *

INQUISITION SWORD = Slow and Heavy to wield – but a one hit kill as you overpower your foe – be sure to shout “There Can Be Only One” in real life when you use it for maximum fun-ness. **

When the Betrayal Expansion was released in March of 2016, a Battlelog Post stated: “Now that various weapons have been released to all classes with the base game update, you can pair a Mechanic with a sniper rifle, or an Enforcer with an SMG. You might not be as effective as you would with your class weapon, but the option is there.” Meaning, if you are utilizing a Weapon that is normally ‘outside’ of your Class, you will be using it with reduced effects!

Again, as stated above, I would like to do the Gadgets (Class Special Tools) as well, sometime in the future – but for now, enjoy these little summaries of the Main Weapons available, to give you an idea of them if you are a newer player, or to help you in finding something that fits your playstyle (eg. ‘slow and hard-hitting’ or perhaps ‘fast-shooting with lighter damage’, and so on) – hopefully this information will help you out in some way. Enjoy – get in there for the Double XP Event on now – and See You In The Game!

Proven Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

As we head into the holidays most Americans will gain between 8 and 12lbs between Halloween and New Year’s Day.  However, there are ways to avoid this weight gain!
Here are some key tips:
Eat before you drink and celebrate and before holiday parties.     Going into a holiday party on empty and hungry is a sure-fire way to overeat.    Alcohol intake boosts appetite to begin with and if you start out without anything in the tank it just gets worse!    This does not mean overeating – eat a sensible meal about 2 hours before you go to the party.
Try to choose higher protein foods first because protein helps with satiety (feeling satisfied and not hungry).
Fill up on Fiber Rich Foods – which also help with satiety and help create a feeling of fullness when consumed with water.  Focus on the raw veggies and yes you can dip them in some dip that has some fat because together fiber and fat can really assist in managing hunger along with protein.
Eat some fat – that’s right eat some fat!   Fats also are key for satiety.   That being said a little goes a long way!
Bring your own food to a party.   Rather than having only high calorie, high sugar and high fat foods bring something you enjoy that is also healthy along with you!
Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly – seems simple and it is.    It is also VERY effective for limiting food intake!
Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses – all of which help to slow down food and beverage intake and make you more conscious of how much you are consuming!
Try to Minimize Sugar and Starch Intake – both sugar and starch wind up as glucose (blood sugar) and high intake drives insulin which results in rebound hunger.      High sugar and starch intake increases hunger – particularly when drinking alcohol because alcohol acts like a super sugar and also drives insulin response.
Pause before getting seconds – as with slower eating and deliberately chewing food this can give your body time to realize it is no longer really hungry.
If you are doing the entertaining have extra containers you are ready to give away so guests can leave with some of the extra food!

Try not to eat in front of the T.V. which distracts you from how you feel and results in mindless eating!
Consider planning a cheat meal but have a plan for how much you are going to eat!   One meal can knock you off course but most of the holiday weight gain comes from completely giving up on healthy eating for many meals.   Planning one cheat meal every week and planning on eating a set amount of the foods you may be craving can work for many people rather than mindlessly eating.      If you plan your meal including your portions of alcohol, sweets, fat and sugar you can limit the damage and still have a great time!
Drink Water.   Often quoted and still true – water is the best beverage and avoiding sugar laden drinks in favor of still or sparkling water can make a big difference in minimizing holiday weight gain.
Workout!   Working out improves mental outlook and burns some calories while reducing stress levels!    When we are stressed we overeat!   Just 10 minutes a day can make a big difference!

Get Your Sleep.   Lack of sleep is terrible for your health and particularly bad for driving appetite and overeating.   Lack of sleep causes hunger and excessive eating because the normal feedback mechanisms that tell you that you are full do not work properly when you are tired.   Basically, a tired brain tells you to eat to feel better and it is VERY hard to resist these urges when tired!

Quick Tip: Heroes Of The Storm 2.0 – Where To Choose Skins, Mounts, Announcers And More [Interface Change]

Yesterday, Heroes Of The Storm “Version 2.0” came out – and along with it a bunch of changes and additions, breathing some new air into Blizzard’s MOBA entry. I have been having fun playing it off and on, discovering the changes and new progression system. I am working on a First Impressions/Overview of ‘2.0’ – but before that, I wanted to quickly make a Tip about something I am seeing a lot in the General Chat in HOTS: people asking how to change the Announcers, Mounts, Skins and other new additions, as the new UI has changed things a bit…

In 2.0, right away you will see that things have changed, as the Main Menus themselves have moved around and information is in different places. For example, the Shop link/text at the top of the screen is gone:

Here is where the Skins, Mounts, Announcers, etc can be located now:

The Loadout button (first one on the bottom, far left) has combined the “Heroes” and “Mounts” buttons and now holds all of the settings for the currently selected Hero. Here, you can choose the Skin, Mount, Announcer used and other new additions via the sections within the Loadout (you can even save Presets of combinations you like). 

Here is a 60-second tutorial showing where it all is, in Heroes Of The Storm 2.0:




That’s it for this Quick Tip – it was just something fast because I have seen it asked a lot in the General Chat lobby lately – have fun in Heroes 2.0!


Quick Tip: Fallout 4 – “Get Rid Of Someone You Don’t Like” in Your Settlement (Without Killing Them or Using Cheats) [Suggestion, Text-Only Mode]

Just wanted to share something that came up, in answering a Question someone asked in the Official Steam Forum for Fallout 4 – in case anyone has a Settler in one of their bases that they really, really don’t like…

A person asked in the Forum, how to ‘get rid of’ Jezebel‘, whom for those who do not know, is a Robo-Brain type automatron, from the Automatron Official DLC. Without getting into any Spoilers, I’ll just say “she has an attitude”…

However, because she is a Resident of your Settlement, you cannot easily get rid of her, as attempting to just kill her will set all of the other Settlers gunning for your head in retaliation/defense.

Also, although she can be Assigned to the Task of, say running a Shop at the far end of Town and ‘stay there’, she is not of much use in that respect – because Robots cannot run Shops/Stores [sadly].

I thought of using her to start a Supply Line (so her Task/Job will take her out of town almost all of the time and you’ll rarely ever have to see her) – and saw that another helpful Fallout 4 player thought of the same thing – and already posted it as a Reply in the Discussion…

Still, I could add (as a Tip perhaps); that you can ‘send her away’ even more so by first Moving her to a Settlement that you rarely go to (using the MOVE menu bar command, at the bottom of the Workshop Mode interface).

You could Move her to Oberon Station perhaps, or The Slog [those are where I normally send ‘people I don’t like’ lol] – anywhere that you normally don’t ‘check up on’ as much as you do your other Settlements…

Then, after that, Assign her to become a Provisioner and start up a Supply Line (using the SUPPLY LINE menu bar command, in Workshop Mode) between the starting place of where you sent her (“far away”) and another place you rarely go to – that way, you will REALLY never have to see her again!

[Actually, you may still run into her, as you run into your Provisioners if you journey into the paths between the Settlements you have Supply Lines set up for – but still, if you pick two remote places that you don’t really visit often as her Supply Line nodes (start and end points), then you’ll really rarely ever bump into her]

Either way, I hope these ideas help any of you ‘get rid of someone’ you don’t like, from a Settlement (and you don’t want to kill them or use cheats/commands to do it). Have fun in Fallout 4!

Globesity

THE RISKS FROM OBESITY

Being overweight can induce:

¨ Diabetes (type 2: non-insulin‑dependent)

¨ Coronary heart disease and strokes.

It increases the risks of:

¨ Cancer of the colon, prostate, uterus, cervix, breasts and ovaries

¨ Gall-bladder disease

¨ Musculoskeletal disorders and respiratory problems.

We live in a world where half the population seems to be obsessed by dieting, while the other half is suffering from starvation and malnutrition. We have no control over the natural disasters that leave millions fighting to find enough food to survive, but why is it that so many people — not just in the Western world, but also in developing countries — are becoming overweight, leading to soaring levels of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers?

We may have made huge advances in technology, but we seem to have lost our connection to nature, and nowhere is this better illustrated than in the food we eat. Our meat is sold in sterile packaging, and contains antibiotics, growth hormones and pesticide residue. We eat (well, some of us eat) fruit and vegetables that are sprayed, waxed, dyed and sometimes irradiated to make them look attractive. The grains that form the bulk of many people’s diets are stripped of their fibre and nutrient content. And the milk we drink is pasteurized.

Diet Start

Because there is so much choice, so little time and sometimes so little money, many people choose the convenient pre-packaged or fast-food option, rather than insisting on good-quality, naturally produced, locally available produce. They would rather sit and watch a cookery programme on television while eating a TV dinner or a take-out than get into the kitchen and cook a healthy meal for themselves.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 1995 there were an estimated 200 million obese adults worldwide, and by 2000 that figure had increased to 300 million. But obesity is not just a problem restricted to adults -25 per cent of children and adolescents in the US are overweight. The problem is beginning to replace malnutrition and infectious diseases as the most significant contributor to ill health worldwide. Obesity is now recognized as a disease in its own right, but one that is largely preventable through changes in lifestyle – especially diet.

A lesson from dietary history

For years we have been fed the information that a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet is the healthiest one for us. The ideal ratio, based on our calorie intake, is 55 per cent carbs, 15 per cent protein and 30 per cent fats. This ratio may work for some individuals, but it certainly isn’t right for everyone, particularly those whose carbohydrate intake is based on the wrong sort of carbs.

One of the most thought-provoking arguments for reducing the amount and type of carbohydrates that we eat is the story of Palaeolithic people. Genetically, there is very little difference between ourselves and our hunter- gatherer ancestors, although our diet has certainly changed.

Palaeolithic people were treading the Earth thousands of years before we started to cultivate crops and rear animals for food, and according to scientists they existed on a diet that was primarily protein. Between 60 and 90 per cent of their diet consisted of game animals, eggs, birds, reptiles and insects. The rest comprised green leafy vegetables and berries. Obviously they were leading a far more active life than the average 21st-century human being, but their diet must have been in part responsible for their healthy bones, flawless teeth and good musculature.

It was only at around the time of the agricultural revolution, about 10,000 years ago, that we started to rely on starchy vegetables such as potatoes and cereal crops for the bulk of our diet, and lifestyles became more sedentary. By 4,000 years ago the effects of the change in diet were beginning to be seen in the human body:

¨ There was a reduction in people’s stature

¨ Dental decay and malformation of the jaw had become widespread

¨ Disease and epidemics were starting to shorten the human lifespan.

TestRun, Video Edition: Recording Gameplay – Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 (Video Samples with Brief Tutorial Video)

This is a more informal TestRun, where I was merely testing out the perceived quality of some recording codecs while attempting to get gameplay recording of Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 going. As most of you know, recording this game is not just a point-and-shoot affair. Heck, most game recording applications won’t even detect the way it is buffering and utilizing video memory, resulting in a black screen, flashing or very laggy output. After trying years ago and abandoning it temporarily, I was recently searching websites with information on trying it again. With no luck finding a starting point of information, I decided to figure it out on my own – and of course share my findings should anything turn out fruitful…

First, simply trying to record RCT2 with FRAPS and then Bandicam, turned up nothing as a result. Either it would not detect the screen (it is not using 2D/3D rendering/buffering on the videocard in a standard manner) or it would capture blackness (when trying Bandicam’s ‘Record The Screen’, for instance). Since these are two well-made recording products, I assumed other products would result in the same …result. I also seem to remember trying applications like Camtasia, back in the day..

So next, I tried good’ol ‘Virtualbox’. A staple Virtual Machine emulator (think of a little computer-running-inside-a-computer), I installed an old version of WindowsXP that I had into the GuestVM. Installing my DRM-free purchase of RCT2 from Good Old Games, I tried recording the screen. No luck, since it wasn’t using Direct3D in a way that I could record (after I finally got Direct3D working in it). I tried playing it in a Windowed VM and recording that. It wouldn’t even run for some reason. It kept trying to ‘take over’ the VM and resizing it. I tried setting my Host Computer desktop resolution to 1280×720 and getting the game to detect that and run it at that resolution, ‘Full Screen’ and ‘Seamless’. Nope. For one thing, the game kept detecting and making available only the most basic of 4:3 aspect resolutions (CRT monitor type sizes), no matter what driver/settings I used for the virtual machine (I of course wanted the more modern widescreen 16:9 ratio, as YouTube uses).

Third, I tried VMware’s ‘VMware Player’. A free virtual machine app, where the business version (VMware Workstation) is the go-to prog for business virtualization. Installing my XP and then RCT2 into the VM, I got it going in 720p rez and prepared Bandicam to record a “Rectangle On A Screen”. It worked wonderfully. So, with the odd stutter (very few and far between), I can now record RCT2 gameplay and wanted to share my findings of the ability with everyone.

I was also messing around with different recording codecs, to see what they looked like at different settings with this game at 720p. I quickly threw together this little video showing some settings and results (Sample Video). A summary of what I have set up to record Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 gameplay is just below a short analysis of the video/recordings. Again. this isn’t a ‘full/technical’ TestRun, it is just me sharing some tests I did and showing that one can indeed record RCT2. Further down, there is a video that goes over the steps in summary, then in slightly more detail, showing the steps taken on the screen, a short ‘tutorial’ I suppose. For those who haven’t figured it out or got it working yet, perhaps this information will help you out, too. Enjoy!

RCT2 testing (codecs/settings) with Bandicam (Samples)

Recorded with: Bandicam, various quality settings, various codecs @ 1280×720 (720p HD)

Recorded game: Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 (RCT2)

Some recording data (per codec) for this test:

MJPEG @ q80 = 45,000kbps data rate (~330MB per minute of gameplay recording)

MPEG-1 @ q80 = 11,000kbps data rate (~80MB per minute of gameplay recording)

MJPEG @ q60 = 34,000kbps data rate (~250MB per minute of gameplay recording)

MPEG-1 @ q60 = 3,000kbps data rate (~22MB per minute of gameplay recording)

*XviD and x264 are omitted as results for this test as editing/recompression resulted in corrupted video output (they will be included in a future TestRun with many codecs)

Brief analysis of sample video:

  • All of the MPEG-1 settings are quite watchable, unless of course the temporal gibbs effects bothers you (the little ‘ghosty/glimmer’ effects that follow around the peeps). Perhaps if I didn’t mention it, you might not have noticed? As with all recording/editing, if it ‘looks fine to you’, then you can run with it if you want. Some people “need” the best quality possible, some can watch any quality and enjoy it. If the MPEG-1 setting at 80% Quality seemed fine to you, go ahead and use that (it is about 1/4 the size of the MJPEG recordings and I have found that editing MPEG-1 is bit slower but quite possible to do in editing applications such as Sony’s Vegas line of products).
  • The MJPEG at a Quality of 50 percent is watchable but messy looking, as expected since a JPG (MJPEG is a series of JPG frames) at only 50% quality would have tons of compression artifacts. 60% is just as bad, with ‘rough blocks’ everywhere (macroblock artifacting). MJPEG at Quality80 isn’t bad and very watchable, but it is much larger in bitrate usage/file size than say, MPEG-1 at the same quality setting (it is about four times larger in file size). It is the easiest codec to edit, however.
  • XviD, an MPEG-4 codec, can potientially looks a lot ‘cleaner’ as it can handle smaller macroblocks/divisions of the screen (inherent in the improvements in MPEG-4 over MPEG-1) – but the output seems to have strong corruption (it leaves ‘trails’ on the screen) when attempting to edit/recompress it into a final product (as seen in the video).
  • x264, a more recent ‘Advanced Video Codec’ version of MPEG-4, it records in wonderful quality and low file sizes – but all of that is hidden behind, again, corruption (‘trails’ left behind on the screen*) and slow editing.
    (The editing can be helped somewhat by specifying a smaller GroupOfPictures (frames inbetween keyframes/information frames, to help seeking through the video.)
    Keep in mind that for the MPEG-4 codecs, the corruption surfaces only when editing/recompressing the source video. The ‘original’ gameplay recording in MPEG-4 is quite clean and watchable, completely fine if you are just going to ‘record-and-upload’ to a video sharing site or personal website.
    *More on this issue and x264 recording in a future article
  • A full Codec Comparison TestRun is coming, where I test out a bunch of different codecs and see how they fare for general game recording, MPEG-1, MPEG-4, AVC/h264 (MPEG-4 Part-10), MJPEG, XviD, RGB24 and more…

    Some related articles:
    Game recording comparison with various codecs and settings (Minecraft)
    http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2012/10/testrun-video-edition-fraps-vs-dxtory.html
    The ghosting/blurring effect when rendering in Sony Vegas products
    http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2012/10/and-more-how-to-stop-ghosting-or.html

There are a couple other ways to do it I think, but here is how I recorded Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 gameplay with Bandicam:

  • Install Windows into a VM Guest (for example, a VMware virtual machine within the VMware Player application)
  • Install RCT2 into that Virtual Machine, running the VM in a window (for example, 1280×720)
  • Set up Bandicam to record a ‘Rectangle On A Screen’ and set the Rectangle to be the same size as the Virtual Machine running in a window (in this case, 1280×720) and line them up. 

That’s it!

Tutorial Video on how to record Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 with Bandicam

I had seen many people on many forums asking for years how to record RCT2 gamplay. I have seen a few videos online now and so some have it working, but if you haven’t been able to get it going or would like to try to make your own Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 videos, here’s how. Good luck with it and have fun!
See you in the games!

Back to School – Math Edition

It might be time to think about renaming my blog, because I’m really excited about teaching math this year! It all started when I read the book Number Talks over the summer.

I’ve always understood the importance of mental math and computation strategies, but I’d never really understood how to teach it. It felt like something kids either had or they didn’t. This year, however, I decided that we’d start doing number talks from day #1, and I’m already blown away by how my students are developing as mathematical thinkers. They’re able to solve complicated addition problems in their heads — no paper allowed — and they’re articulating their strategies well. I’ve been introducing a new strategy every 2-3 days, and it’s been awesome. We’ll be moving on to subtraction strategies in a few days, and I have high expectations for that to.

To help students with the mental math strategies, I made a set of posters that describe each strategy with an example of how it works. There are 20 posters in all — one for each strategy described in the book.

The complete set is available in my TpT store, and they’ll be on sale for 28% off this weekend as part of the Teachers Pay Teachers back to school sale if you use the code BTS13.

As I’ve been working on order of operations and number sense with my fourth graders, I also introduced the four fours problem. The premise of the problem is this:
Using some arithmetic combination of four 4’s, can you write an equation for each of the numbers from 1-100? Here are the rules:
  • You may use any combination of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and/or division
  • You may combine numbers, e.g., use 2 of the fours to make the number 44
  • You may insert decimal points
  • You may use a four as an exponent
  • You may use square roots
  • You may use factorials, e.g., 4! is equivalent to 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 24
  • You may use overbars to make a decimal repeat
  • You may NOT use any digit other than a four
  • You MUST use all four 4’s in each solution

Before I go on, let me give two caveats. 1) I didn’t expect all of my students to be able to handle all of these rules. Square roots, exponents, and factorials are WAY above my fourth graders heads generally, but I did have a handful that could handle it. And there are plenty of solutions to be found that don’t require those operations. 2) This problem freaked out the parents more than it scared the kids, I think. I had a few panicked parents that I had to talk down while we were working on this, but in the end, it was well worth it. My students were so excited about math and problem solving as we worked through this problem. It was homework each night to try to find a few more solutions, and then we’d add to a chart during math class. Look at all that my students accomplished after just two days!

We’ve filled in a bunch more solutions since then, but of course I left my camera at school this weekend…
Finally, in honor of the big back to school sale on TpT, I’ve bundled four of my favorite math resources into a back to school math pack for this weekend only. 
Sold separately, this is $17 worth of products that I’m selling this weekend for $10, but after Monday, the bundle will no longer be available in my store. So if you’ve had any of these on your wish list…

Hope everyone had a great week! I’m still learning how to juggle grad school with teaching, but I’m hopeful that I’ll still be posting at least once a week.

Off to start catching up on blog reading and filling my cart for the TpT sale! Have a great weekend!

Free Weekend – Overwatch and Fallout 4 [Notification]

Just a quick notification for those that didn’t know, that this weekend is a Free Weekend for two great games: Overwatch by Blizzard Entertainment and Fallout 4 by Bethesda Softworks.
To commemorate this amazing alignment of the planets that these two behemoths occupy, I created this ‘Mash-Up’ Image Header as a Reminder, which I will release as a Full-Sized Wallpaper, for fans of these two franchises, once it is complete… Soon™

A big fan of both companies’ products, I was so excited about it – but I haven’t had a chance to play yet! So, I’m trying to help out all of you fellow gamers and notify you that these games are Free and Playable all weekend – including being sold at lowered prices – but it’s almost over! Get out there and jump in – and have fun! GOGOGO

See You In The Game!

My Free Font, Just For You™: LED SCREEN GTAMBLOG CAPS+ 2.0 (with Download Links)

An awkward name perhaps, for an odd little, simple version of an “LED Screen / Scoreboard Style Capitals Only” font (including Punctuation and Accents!) – but years ago, I contacted the author of a similar-styled font, to ask specifically for Commercial Use of his font, that looked somewhat like this one [I have been using it “Officially” here at The Blog since then – you can see Examples of it all over this site, on the images].

Today, I found Fontstruct, an easy-to-use, free, online Font creation utility – and thought “why don’t I make my own version this font, not only for ‘The Blog’ to use, but for others to possibly use as well?”.
And so, here is an ‘LED Screen’ or ‘Dot Matrix’ style font (also usable as a ‘Pixel font’) – with punctuation and a couple of ‘accents’ – but capitals only, as traditional LED Screens or Scoreboards (“Score Screens”) would have used; made by my hand, Just For You™…

I am distributing it as “LED SCREEN GTAMBLOG CAPS+ 2.0” by ‘Troy from The Game Tips And More Blog’, at various Font sites, such as those below (for Downloading, Updates as I add more and/or am approved by them). [If you prefer, contact me via email and I can also send you the TTF or Zip of the Font, from me, directly]:

  • Fontstruct (where I created the font by hand): 
  • https://fontstruct.com/fontstructions/show/1459839/led-screen-gtamblog-caps-2-0

  • Fontspace: 
  • http://www.fontspace.com/thegametipsandmoreblog/led-screen-gtamblog-caps-20

Feel free to Comment on those sites, or here (Suggestions, Questions, And More) or contact me via e-mail if you have any questions about the font, at:
[email protected]

Usage License: (Creative Commons, Attribution License, 4.0)
You are free to utilize this font for ANY purpose whatsoever, including Commercial Use and Monetization of any kind, Royalty-Free; the only condition being that you mention my name somewhere, anywhere, during use of this font.
If you would like to make a Donation, on behalf of using this font, you may do so via PayPal, using my email ([email protected]), but this is not required at all, to use this font for any purpose you desire.

As some of you may know, I have been playing around with Fonts off and on, creating them for various images/headers/etc here at The Blog over the years, compiling at least 4-5 fonts or so from scratch, with varying levels of completion… I ‘m not sure when I’ll get around to finishing all of them – but for now, I hope this font can perhaps be useful for some quick images, videos, or whatever you may want it for – Enjoy!

Edit:
 I may return and add some images and examples of the font… Soon™
Also, although I have made this font by hand at the Fontstruct website, I always suggest that you Scan any files you download (just in case), with an Anti-Virus utility of some sort – whether it is Windows Defender (built-in to Windows 10, after downloading) or via an online scanner/website, such as VirusTotal.com or similar.

Workout Fuel Conclusion

Workout Fuel Conclusion

WORKOUT ANYTIME has been holding a month-long competition on our Facebook titled “Workout Fuel” where fans were asked to submit their favorite pre-workout and post-workout snacks. Each comment acted as a submission and each like on a fans comment acted as a “vote.” In our final week of “Workout Fuel” each weekly winner is going into a head-to-head competition. You the fans may vote on your favorite workout snack! You can vote here: http://bit.ly/WorkoutFuelFinal
Workout Fuel | WORKOUT ANYTIME

How to Deal with Yourr Seasonal Allergies

S
Seasonal allergies to pollen and mold seem to getting more and more prevalent each year with progressively more severe symptoms in sufferers.    Treating allergies with nutrition and nutrition supplements can have big advantages over using medications.   
Allergy medication most commonly comes in the form of Antihistamines, and there are some big problems with long-term use of these medications.     It is now known that prolonged use of antihistamines decreases levels of acetylcholine which is a key neurotransmitter involved in memory and other important functions.   In fact, antihistamine use increases the risk of senility, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
What are Allergies Anyway?
Allergies are abnormal immune reactions to specific agents (proteins) known as antigens/allergens, which include many substances such as foods, drugs, pollens, dust mites, animal danders, feathers, along with many others. 
Allergies may also develop when an otherwise innocent substance has significant contact with an already inflamed surface (known as sensitization).  For example, when sick with a respiratory illness, respiratory surfaces are already inflamed and substances present at this time may be “remembered” as being foreign.  This can also occur with chemical substances known as “haptons” which are combinations of self and non-self which can lead the immune system to attack the self. 
Since there are multiple pro-inflammatory substances involved with allergies it is rare to obtain adequate control with single products/medications.  The most potent chemical mediators in allergies and asthma are leukotrienes.  Some leukotrines are one thousand times more potent than histamine as stimulators of bronchial constriction and allergy. 
Interestingly, many medications that reduce one inflammatory pathway actually boost leukotrienes.    For example, Aspirin and other NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs like Ibuprofen) result in the production of excessive levels of leukotrines in sensitive individuals although they decrease prostaglandins associated with inflammation and thereby relive pain.  So long term they can create a much more severe problem.
Asthma is linked to allergies and can be a severe and life threatening condition.   Do NOT try to self-treat Asthma – see a physician!
Strategies for Allergies
Try to avoid allergens by using air filters, regularly cleaning all surfaces and vacuuming and keeping your air-conditioning system on while regularly changing filters to filter out as many allergens as possible.   Remember your car cabin filter as well, and take showers and wash clothes after being outside for long periods of time.
Change your diet to reduce inflammation.    Dramatically reduce your intake of refined carbohydrate – sugar and starch which drive insulin which drives inflammation.  At the same time increase your intake of low glycemic, organic fruits and vegetables such as berries, broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, etc.   These plant foods contain polyphenols which are potent anti-oxidants and help to reduce inflammation and allergies without side effects.
Increase your intake of Omega 3 Fatty Acids from cold water fish such as Alaskan Wild Salmon and/or take an Omega 3 Supplement such as Krill Oil.    Omega 3 fatty acids will always reduce inflammation if taken in sufficient dosages so this should be a primary strategy for allergy sufferers because they produce many side benefits.   The only exception is people taking any type of medication to thin blood and reduce clotting like Coumadin.   In this case the combination can be dangerous!
Nutritional Supplements for Allergies
There are several highly effective nutrition supplements for allergies including some key herbs.
Local Raw Honey – it MUST be local and must be raw because it will contain small amounts of local pollen and works by getting the body used to pollen much like an allergy shot.     A Tablespoon a day is as much as you need.   Many people swear by this simple and safe remedy!
Stinging Nettle Extract – this herb has a long history of effective use for allergies and freeze dried preparations seem to work the best and are best taken BEFORE allergy season even begins to put a damper on symptoms before they start – this is true of all nutritional approaches to allergy by the way!
Euphrasia Officianalis – aka “Eyebright” is an herb which name says it all – it is highly effective for eye allergy symptoms.
Quercetin – is a flavonoid contained in high amounts in apples, peppers, red wine, dark cherries and berries, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and sprouts, and raw red onions.   To treat allergies taking supplemental quercetin is the way to go, and a good quercetin supplement is a product called “AllQlear” by Integrative Therapeutics and can be purchased on Amazon.     It also contains “ovomucoids” from quail eggs that act as tryptase inhibitor and prevent release of histamine.    Another excellent Quercetin Supplement is “Qforce” – http://www.qforce.com/ Quercetin is proven to decrease yur chance of contracting a viral illness like the cold or flu by 9 times!
Boswellia Extract – Boswellia aka Frankincense (yes the herb mentioned in the bible!) can be highly effective for allergies and other forms of inflammation including arthritis because it blocks the formation of leukotrienes!    To get the benefits you must take 5-loxin which is a specific extract.   Note that in some individuals 5-loxin can cause or excacerbate heart burn so it is not for everyone, but when it works it can be highly effective!
Butterbur Extract – this plant extract can be highly effective for inhibiting leukotrienes and allergy symptoms or side effects.   You need to take a standardized extract with standardized levels of Petasin and Isopetasin) and free of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids aka PA.  High quality brands include Life Extension, Swanson, and Enzymatic Therapy to name a few.   This product can also help many migraine sufferers and is a well-researched, proven treatment.
NAC – N-Acetyl Cysteine – helps thin mucus naturally and boost levels of the body’s most important antioxidant Glutathione – every allergy sufferer should be taking 600 – 1,200mg per day!
You will also find combination of these ingredients in particular products, and it is worth experimenting a bit because if you find the right product or combination of natural products you can find relief without sedation and without the side effects associated with antihistamines and more potent drugs like steroid nasal sprays or oral steroids.

ROUTINE FOR PUTTING ON WEIGHT

Plenty of rest and exercise, a good diet of fattening foods and no worries—those are the essentials

PUTTING on weight is very much more difficult than taking it off. Even thosefew extra pounds which can make all the difference to the appearance, comfort and, no doubt, general health, can be quite a problem.

Before embarking on a diet, it is always advisable to seek the advice of your own doctor. This is particularly important if there has been a sudden or prolonged loss of weight for no good reason and without affecting normal appetite. Where loss of weight is the result of an illness or operation, it is usually quite quickly and easily regained after recovery. The routine to be described will help in such cases, subject to the approval of your own doctor.

We are concerned here chiefly with that large army of men and women who are anxious to put on weight but who are the thin type by nature. Such people are born worriers, with excitable and energetic natures and over-active bowels, whose food does not remain in the intestines long enough to be properly absorbed.

Diet Start

Essential in the fattening process are:

  • Keep calm and stop worrying. That is obviously a counsel of perfection to those who easily get worked up, but it can be achieved by cultivating outside interests that take your mind away from the source of anxiety (it may be professional, domestic, financial, or all three).
  • Take plenty of rest. A minimum of between 8 and 9 hours in bed at night, plus between 10 and 30 minutes after every meal.
  • Avoid rushing about, but take regular exercise. On no account jump up immediately after a meal; take life at a leisurely pace. Strenuous games are good if you really enjoy them, because they create appetite; so does any form of outdoor exercise, however mild.
  • Eat well and regularly, and concentrate on the fattening foods (list follows). But be careful not to stuff between meals or you will defeat the whole object and be unable to eat your main meals, which are far more important. You must also avoid over-eating, with the inevitable danger of indigestion and biliousness. Aim at three good meals a day, plus any extras (such as sweets, etc.) which you really fancy and a hot, preferably milk, drink last thing at night. The housewife should take as many meals out as she conveniently can because she will not have the worry of preparing them.
  • Cut down your smoking. It diminishes the appetitite, so, if you must smoke at all, only after meals, please.

Sugar, sweets, jam, marmalade, fruits in syrup, treacle, honey, Golden Syrup.

Cakes, scones, pastry, cereals, bread, biscuits, puddings.

Thickened soups and gravies, sauces made from flour, butter and/or milk.

Fried foods, cream, salad dressings, butter, dripping.

Pork, duck, goose. All fat meat and bacon. Tinned fish in oil.

Sweet wines, beer, stout, spirits, sweet aerated waters.

Dried fruits. Bananas, grapes, plums. Potatoes, peas, dried beans, parsnips, beetroot.

Cod-liver oil, Virol, olive oil.

Salt with food.

Foods with very little fattening value

Meat extracts. Marmite. Clear soups. Gelatine. Egg-white.

Green vegetables and salads. Vinegar. Tea. Coffee.

SPECIMEN DIET FOR PUTTING ON WEIGHT

Minimum: 1 pint of milk per day

On waking: Cup of tea, preferably with milk and sugar.

Breakfast: Cereal or porridge with milk and sugar or honey or syrup.

Bacon, egg, fish, etc.

Toast, butter and marmalade.

Coffee or tea.

11 a.m.: Coffee, cocoa or milk and a biscuit, or try this cocktail: One teaspoonful Spanish olive oil sandwiched between layers of orange juice in a wineglass. You can increase the quantity of olive oil gradually.

Lunch: Thick soup, if liked (if this makes it impossible to eat main course, substitute tomato or orange juice as an appetiser instead).

Meat, fish, game, poultry, etc.—both fat and lean. Serve with gravy, roast or fried potatoes and a green vegetable or salad with plenty of oily or cream dressing.

Pudding and / or cheese, butter and biscuits.. Coffee.

Tea: Tea with cake or bread and butter or banana sandwich.

Dinner: Thick soup (see Lunch).

Fish, meat or poultry, with gravy, at least one vegetable from list of Fattening Foods; one green vegetable or salad with cream or oil dressing.

Steamed or boiled pudding or milk pudding or ice cream.

Cheese with bread or biscuits and butter.

Coffee.

NOTE: Cocktails, wines. etc., may be taken as desired and obtainable. Stout or beer is good.

Bedtime: A hot drink, preferably containing milk.

It’s Not Just You™ – Fallout 4 Crashing with NVIDIA’s SHARE Game Recorder (Possibly Relating To The High Resolution Texture Pack) [Notification, Text-Only]

Updated 2017-06-19: I found one cause of the crashes with SHARE and Fallout 4 (for me) – The HRTP

Just a quick post to say that, if you are experiencing Fallout 4 CTDs (Crashes To Desktop, where FO4 closes without any messages or anything and you are left staring at your Desktop in Windows), I want to let you know It’s Not Just You™ – as I am finding I am experiencing this as well, lately…

I haven’t looked into Forums specifically for this, but perusing Forii off and on over the past year or so, where many are talking about Fallout 4 and Crashing, it seems to happen a lot to people anyway, for just about any reason, unfortunately. I myself wasn’t experiencing this very much though (gladly), until just recently when playing FO4 again [and spending way too much time building up Settlements instead of getting Quests done], I was testing out different Game Recording Programs and started seeing this happen.

I’m happily playing Fallout 4, getting frustrated at the Building mechanics or shooting some Raiders attacking my Settlement, when all of a sudden, BOOM – desktop image and icons. No message, nothing. Fallout 4 has closed itself instantly. I of course start it up again and begin to see where I last hit QuickSave or the game automatically Saved for me – but this has happened a few times in a row now where BOOM – the desktop greets me and icons appear. No message, nothing.

So, I tried to pay attention to what I was doing or what was running as Background Tasks – and the one thing I found, that when I changed it, the crashes stopped happening?.. I was recording with SHARE, NVIDIA’s new version of ShadowPlay, their game recorder that is included with their Graphics Driver. Interesting. I have up ’till now had no issues with SHARE, enjoyed testing it out, taking Screenshots with it and testing out the various Quality settings and forgetting about all of those tests and never writing about it. It seems to have great performance (very small performance ‘hit’/effect) and has a decent amount of options/features.

I then tried some other game recording programs I have purchased over the years, Playclaw, Bandicam, Mirillis’ ACTION, and none of them had any Crashing occur while I was using them (although Fallout 4 didn’t seem to like to start up with Bandicam running sometimes [but when I started the game first then Bandicam, it recorded fine]). Hmph. That’s too bad, I was liking SHARE. There could of course be a myriad of things that could be causing this (I have sometimes run into the game not starting up, with a black screen then shutting itself down again/closing, no matter what game recorder I am using – and again, there are people with high-end Intel CPUs and NVIDIA 1080’s with CTDs…); but for me, it seems to be SHARE, at this time. I might go and mention this in the Official NVIDIA Forum, if noone else has recently. Perhaps this is just a temporary issue in this game and their Drivers, in this version.

I am running NVIDIA GPU Driver Version 382.53 in Windows 10 64-bit, on a GTX 1060 3GB GPU, as of the date of this post.

I know this was a Text-Only post, but I took this screenie of the Driver
Version (so I would remember it) and didn’t want to waste it

I mention all of this because, I was not really experiencing any Crashes-To-Desktop with Fallout 4 prior to thinking of testing out SHARE for a while, just a bit ago. I am Level 42 in the game, after ‘starting out a second time’ and enjoying playing again, taking notes and screenshots for some future posts on it, while I slowly build and shoot my way through The Commonwealth… Where was I? Oh yeah, the crashes. It’s sad, but I want others to not feel alone (you’re not, really, go look up “Fallout 4 crash desktop”..). If you are experiencing Fallout 4 closing without any error messages recently, just letting you know – It’s Not Just You™…


Update 2017-06-19:
For my personal battle with this, I did some more testing and found that I was able to use NVIDIA’s SHARE to record with, for quite a long time (hours), when I disabled/uninstalled the High Resolution Texture Pack DLC…
I am not sure if this is the only related aspect to it (as CTDs happen for even GTX 1080 users and higher capability systems than mine and it happens to those not using the HRTP or SHARE at all), but for now, it seems that this issue may be directly related to that [for me] as it crashes far more often than without running the HRTP – and I have no crashes when recording with other Game Recorders and The High Resolution Texture Pack…

Is it that the HRTP is ‘too much’ for my little 1060 with only 3GB of VRAM and SHARE together? 
Is it related to how the game then uses more RAM (I have 16GB of RAM installed) with the HRTP and possibly a symptom of some RAM issues, perhaps?
I’m not sure of a solution yet, so I cannot say – but if you are experiencing this problem of ‘Crashing while recording Fallout 4 with SHARE’, try disabling the High Resolution Texture Pack for FO4 – it worked for me, just now. (Alternatively, use a different Game Recorder for the time being..). HTH

Chronic Illnesses and Diet part 2

Chronic Inflammatory Illness and Insulin Resistance

Allowing for the fact that genetics affects an individual’s susceptibility to disease, the roots of chronic illness often lie in deficiencies of various nutrients, other dietary issues and hypersensitivity to foods and environmental factors, such as toxins. Whichever of these factors apply to you or your family, insulin resistance may be the easiest to recognize and correct. When you have this condition high levels of insulin, created by frequent intake of carbohydrates, spill over into biochemical injury that makes whatever you have worse. This can include asthma, eczema, colitis, depression, headaches, psoriasis and much more.

What is common to all of these problems is inflammation. Whether you’re looking under the microscope or studying its basic chemical reactions, inflammation is the same, wherever it’s found. Chronic cough and mucus; sore, swollen, stiff joints; cramps and diarrhea; a chronically red, itchy rash; or periodontal disease — all are inflammation. Even cardiovascular disease, which used to be called hardening of the arteries and is now called atherosclerosis, is recognized as a fundamentally inflammatory process.

Diet Start

The first step in the biochemistry of inflammation is the release of informational substances from injured cells that attract the attention of healing mechanisms, the way a phone call to the automobile club brings you roadside assistance. The aid mobilized by these cellular calls for repair work is usually limited to the immediate task at hand; it’s designed for mending a cut or recovering from a burn or fighting infection. But if the agent causing the inflammation persists or if something goes wrong with the signaling mechanisms involved in the call for help, the repair work and its accompanying signals (pain, swelling, redness and heat) may become stuck, leaving you with a chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammatory diseases are often described by medical terms that end in Itis’ and ‘,psis’.

Because the signaling mechanisms involved in chronic inflammation may be distorted by inappropriately high insulin levels in your body, this is something over which you have control. Controlling insulin levels through appropriate dietary changes, including reducing carbohydrate consumption or shifting most consumption of carbohydrates to the later part of the day, will result in a positive effect on the biochemistry of inflammation. Although this dietary change is not directed at a specific disease, it should be part of any comprehensive treatment since it is aimed at easing the predictably disordered chemistry of anyone with a chronic inflammatory illness.

Medications that simply squelch the inflammation may not always be the best course of treatment. Granted, there are instances in which the cause is long gone but the body has gotten stuck in some kind of inappropriate reaction. In these cases, subduing the symptoms temporarily may work. But it’s different when it comes to the daily, long-term application of steroid creams or the consumption of systemic steroids or anti-inflammatory drugs. These treatments have some fairly dreadful gastrointestinal side effects, including the tendency to create leaks in the intestinal walls that allow the entry of unwanted toxins, chemicals and allergens into the bloodstream.

The Body Clock Prescription for Treating Chronic Illness

Chronic illness makes you listen to your body. The message is not so precise that you know exactly what to change, unless of course it’s something like chronic cough in a smoker. Most of the time, chronic pain or other signs of inflammation don’t announce their cause. They demand that you do some detective work, presumably with the help of a professional who has good instincts and expertise at reading your body’s communications by carefully listening to your story, interpreting laboratory tests and then making educated efforts at trial and error.

Anyone with a chronic illness has to be especially aware of the second Tacks Law: if you are sitting on two tacks, removing only one does not necessarily make you feel 50 per cent better. This means that insulin resistance is just one of many manageable factors that may also include improving other aspects of nutritional status and looking for the trigger, irritant, allergen, toxin or germ to which your body may be responding.

Doing the detective work required to find underlying triggers of a chronic illness may take a long time; nor is it always successful. As a more generalized strategy, the ten steps of the Body Clock Prescription will not only prevent or tame insulin resistance, a major contributor to chronic illness, but will reinforce healthy body rhythms and foster rhythmic integration. Remember that flexibility is your body’s treasure; it enables you to be more like an orchestra, with its constant active effort to stay in tune and on beat, than a mechanical system. The same flexibility that allows you to fall victim to the negative effects of poorly timed eating, breathing, exercise or exposure to light also permits you to use such influences for your benefit.

Kneeling High to Low Chop – The Best Core Exercise You are Not Doing!

Core stability is a big buzzword in fitness, and for very good reason.     The ability to keep the core stable is essential for proper movement and prevention of injury.      Stability has three aspects related to the planes of movement:
Sagittal Plane Stability– is the ability to prevent flexion and extension of the core from the low back to the top of the head.
Front Plane Stability– is the ability to prevent lateral flexion of the core from the top of the head to the low back.
Transverse Plan Stability – is the ability to prevent rotation of the core from the top of the head to the low back
Stability is about preventing movement – not creating movement!   All muscles can act as stabilizers, movers, or absorbers, but the muscles of the core spend a lot of time preventing movement in many activities from running to walking to jumping.    This is why exercises like the plank are considered functional because the plank is about using core muscles to prevent movement of the core as opposed to exercises like a crunch which is about creating movement.
To have a strong and stable core it is important to perform stability exercises in all three planes of movement.     The plank and side plank do a great job of challenging muscles to prevent movement in the sagittal and front planes, but that leaves the Transverse Plane.    This is significant because the vast majority of injuries occur in the Transverse Plane with Frontal Plane injuries close behind.
It is also important to note that rotational movement (movement in the transverse plane) is fundamental to human movement in general and the generation of explosive force in many activities from Golf to Tennis to Boxing.
One of the best ways to develop rotational stability in the Transverse Plane is doing high to low anti-rotation chops in a half kneeling position using either resistance bands or cable resistance with a rope handle or pole attached.
Execution

The anchor point of the resistance band/location of the cable handle should be position up high.     Your body should be facing perpendicular to a line from the handle/anchor point straight down and across your body.     You should be in a half kneeling posture down on one knee (the leg closest to the cable/band should flexed with foot flat on the floor and hip and knee bent at 90 degrees.   
The other knee should be down on the floor (use a cushion or mat!) with shin and top of foot along the ground directly behind the knee.   It is important that the knee is directly under the hip.  It is also important that the spine be held straight with a straight line from top of head through the spine and hip to the knee on the ground.    Extend the spine fully and keep your spine fully elongated throughout the exercise.
Reach across the body and place both hands on the resistance band/rope spread apart with hands shoulder width apart.gripping the band/rope.
Keeping the shoulders and hips facing forward the entire time pull the rope/band directly down and across the body and pause in the bottom position making sure there is no movement to in the shoulders or hips while maintaining a fully lengthened spine.   Then slowly return to the starting position.    Form is VERY important in this exercise.
Here are two great instructional videos:
http://www.stack.com/video/3730538400001/elite-performance-with-mike-boyle-increase-core-strength-with-anti-rotation-exercises

http://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/abs-and-core-exercises/videos/half-kneeling-stability-chop

Overweight and Food Sensitivity Rule No 1: Delayed Reactions

These are the single most common cause of false fat.

Arguably, delayed food reactions cause as many health problems as some of the most horrific of life’s various risk factors, such as smoking or stress. The effects are often subtle and accumulate slowly, but the harm is undeniable. Without a doubt, delayed food reactions cause weight gain. Because 300,000 people die each year from obesity-related problems, anything that exacerbates weight gain is a serious issue.

Therefore, the average person’s ignorance about delayed food reactions is a serious public health problem. Don’t let yourself be a victim of this lack of knowledge!

Delayed food reactions are very similar to classic allergies. The biggest difference is that when you have sensitivities, you often don’t notice symptoms right after you eat. Sometimes it can take as long as three days for symptoms to appear. The reason for the delay is that this type of food reaction is caused by a different antibody than the one that causes classic food allergies, and it takes longer for allergens to come in contact with this antibody. This antibody, IgG (or immunoglobulin G), is found only in the bloodstream, so food molecules need to reach the-bloodstream for problems to occur. As long as food macromolecules stay in the digestive tract, no symptoms may appear. Sometimes food molecules move out of the digestive tract almost immediately, but sometimes they don’t.

Diet Start

When reactive food macromolecules do eventually meet up with IgG antibodies, the antibodies wage the same basic type of battle fought by IgE antibodies, which cause classic allergies. The IgG antibodies call the immune system into the fight, and histamines and other chemicals are released, causing swelling and other symptoms.

The IgG antibodies are by far the most common antibodies in the body. They’re three times more common than the IgE antibodies that cause classic allergies; that’s one reason delayed food reactions are more common than classic allergies.

Because IgG reactions are delayed, people are often unaware of their real cause. If you feel a symptom on Monday morning, it may be hard to link it to something you ate Friday night.

Another reason people are often unaware of their IgG reactions is that these reactions often don’t occur in obvious places, such as the skin, as do classic IgE allergies.

Even though an IgG reaction may not be obvious, it can still be very harmful. For example, if you’re allergic to bee stings and get an IgE reaction on your skin from a sting, you’ll be sure to notice and treat it. However, an internal IgG reaction to a food may ultimately cause you much more generalized, systemic swelling than a bee sting; it’s like getting a bee sting to the whole body. But because your reaction is spread over your whole body, you may not be very aware of it. All you’ll notice is that you don’t feel good and have more bloating and swelling. After you’ve read this book, though, and learned what to look for, I guarantee that you will notice how drastically food reactions affect your body.

Another antibody that can cause delayed reactions is IgA. IgA fights at the front lines — at the mucous membrane sites and in the digestive tract itself — trying to stop allergens from being absorbed by the body in the first place. To do this, it stimulates secretion of mucus, which blocks absorption.

Studies show, though, that almost half of all Americans don’t secrete enough IgA. Non-reactive people secrete 3,000 to 5,000 mg of IgA every day, but some reactive people don’t secrete much at all. If you’re low on IgA, sooner or later a reactive food molecule will work its way through your intestinal wall and cause a reaction. The more reactive foods you eat, the more likely you’ll be to use up your supply of IgA and lose your front-line force against food reactions.

Therefore, if you do ‘cheat’ and eat an allergenic food, it’s smart not to eat too much of the food. One jam doughnut might get blocked by IgA, but three doughnuts may overwhelm your forces and push you past your allergic threshold.

Another factor that depletes IgA is use of certain medications, including antibiotics, antacids, ulcer drugs, cortisone and aspirin. Again, as you can see, it’s not just what you eat that can hurt your metabolism and make you fat.

Quick Tip: Guild Wars 2 – How To Split Stacks Of Items

Just a quick tip for GW2 and those of us who were tying to split stacks of things, only to link them into Chat and ‘shout’ the item’s link to people around us, the entire Map, etc. The way to actually sort things in a more private manner, is to hold down the ALT key and then drag the stack of items to an open slot. A dialog box should come up asking you how you want to split the stack of items (as seen in the example below):

Pressing the Shift key, as most know, will link the item in the chat box, and pressing Control, will link it and shout it out in Chat automagically – which is nice and embarrassing. I’ve seen some random linkages in the Chat Box [of things that aren’t of any interest] so I know it isn’t just me! I hope that this helps someone out and saves them from this atrocious “Faux Pas”…

See You In The Games!

Blog Hunting

Today I was hoping to link up with Laura Candler’s Corkboard Connections Blog Hunt, but it seems that linky closed already [sadface].  Still, I want to share a little about what I’m using as my Google Reader alternative and why.


In my mind, this is a battle between BlogLovin’ and Feedly.

BlogLovin’

I’ll confess that I didn’t move over to this platform initially. As soon as I caught wind a few months ago that Google Reader was dying, I quickly packed up and moved over to Feedly. With all of the recent push in the teacher-blogger community toward BlogLovin’, however, I decided to give it another try.
What I like
As a blogger, there are a few features that I really like about BlogLovin’. 
1. Notifications and Blog Finding
I like that I can get notifications when new people start following me. I also like that when I click on those notifications, I can see what other blogs people are reading. I’ve stumbled upon some great new-to-me blogs that way over the past few days. 
2. Viewing actual blogs
Rather than seeing a stripped down version of someone’s blog, I can see the actual website in a BlogLovin frame. This allows for easy commenting when I want to leave comments. It also lets me see how cute everyone’s blog is these days.
What I dislike
1. Too many clicks
It seems like it takes forever to navigate sometimes, and I’m constantly clicking to mark things read, jump between blogs, and if I actually leave a comment on a blog, I lose my place in BlogLovin and have to start over with the remaining unread blogs. I subscribe to hundreds of blogs, so I have to be efficient when I’m looking at content. 
2. It’s still buggy
I tried to go back and organize the blogs that I read into categories the other night, and I found that BlogLovin wasn’t saving my organizational changes for blogs unless I categorized them as soon as I started following them. That was annoying. I also noticed that some blogs that I’m certain I was already following were showing up as unfollowed. Others were showing up multiple times in my reading list. I suspect that a lot of these bugs will improve — I saw iPad updates for the app yesterday, so I know they’re working on it, but I wish a lot of these features were already working better.

Feedly

Since I’ve been using this for a few months already, I’ll openly confess that I’m a bit biased. It may also be the case that I’ve got this platform more figured out than BlogLovin, and some of the “advantages” of Feedly may exist in BlogLovin, too. But here’s what I’ve found…
What I like
1. Better app integration
There are several different apps that I like to use when I’m reading blogs (and in this case, I’m talking about web-based apps, not iPad apps).
Pinterest – Feedly has Pinterest integration built in, so I can hover over an image and pin it straight from Feedly. The pin will link back to the original blog.
Buffer – Buffer is an app that I use to schedule Tweets so that they’re spaced out throughout the day rather than sent all at once as I read blogs. If I read a blog post that I really like, I’ll send it to Buffer to share with others.
IFTTT – If This Then That is an app that sets up certain actions based on commands that I give. For example, if I star an article that I like in Feedly, it will automatically send it to my Evernote notebook with tags that I set. There’s a whole list of IFTTT recipes for Feedly here. 
Evernote – I can send items straight to my Evernote notebook from Feedly as one of the sharing options.

2. Easy navigation
There are lots of easy keyboard shortcuts to use to go through articles when I’m reading on my computer, and it’s very easy to organize articles in categories. Even when I’m behind in my blog reading, I can get through it pretty quickly without feeling like I’m missing important content.

3. Marking articles
I know I can “heart” articles on BlogLovin, but I can mark articles on Feedly for later with specific tags that make them easier for me to find. For me, that’s a better equivalent to starring articles on Google Reader, and I did that a lot.

What I dislike
1. Somethings get lost in translation
Sometimes the pictures don’t get pulled into Feedly correctly (which might not be Feedly’s fault), and I probably miss out on some cool content because of it.

2. Commenting is more complicated
I still have to click to go to the external link of the original blog post to comment or read comments. This is especially complicated when I’m using the iPhone or iPad apps. When I’m on a mobile device, I usually mark the article I want to comment on for later and check it out when I’m back to my computer.

And the winner is…Feedly, mostly

At least for now, I’m sticking with Feedly. I still like visiting BlogLovin’ to find new blogs to follow, but my new strategy is to follow on BlogLovin’, and then I add it to a list called “On My Feedly.” Then I add the blog to one of my reading lists on Feedly. Then when I go into BlogLovin’, I can immediately mark the “On My Feedly” list as read because I’ll know I’ve seen it all on Feedly. There are a bunch of new blogs that I started following as I was trying out BlogLovin’ that aren’t on my Feedly list yet, so that will be a process to move those over. It’s not a perfect system, but I expected some growing pains in the transition. 
I’m going to continue to use BlogLovin to discover new blogs because that’s a huge benefit in my mind.
Where did you land in the Google Reader alternative battle? I’d love to hear what you chose and why in the comments section! 

EUROPEAN STYLED DESIGN IDEAS BATHROOM

EUROPEAN STYLED DESIGN IDEAS BATHROOM

If you are looking for the best images of the sample of European-style bathroom designs, and applications of a modern sauna and gym. Here are sample images of European inspired bathroom design ideas for the home. European influence in a bathroom attached to the right furniture, cabinets bath faucets, vanities, and tile e. As well as their luxurious and spacious sauna Finish Head (European company based in Germany) in a corner, the rest of the spacious bathroom, as the essay should be dedicated to wellness and keep beautiful. Room with a bright red Finnish sauna focuses on physical fitness, also welcomed the formation of large area white cushions and fitness equipment attached to the wall. It makes sense that this is quite large, walk-in glass shower. If you have more time, is set beside a white bath has a sauna, in front of two large floor to ceiling windows.

The second room is here in a Finnish sauna takes gentler approach – offering a job to escape from their mental well-being of the outside world. solarium luxury, you can pull out in front of a soothing fire. Wide bubble bath, shower and steam bath in a wooden soaking dip to give you a variety of bathing options. You can easily live in the house of a modern European hits with a private bathroom attached.

EUROPEAN STYLED DESIGN IDEAS BATHROOM
EUROPEAN STYLED DESIGN IDEAS BATHROOM
EUROPEAN STYLED DESIGN IDEAS BATHROOM
EUROPEAN STYLED DESIGN IDEAS BATHROOM

INSPIRING DESIGN DETAILS LOOKOUT HOUSE

Inspiring Design Details

Inspiring Design Details

The project is located atop a hill in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and has stunning views of distant Long Island. Depending on the shape of the original designers of the pyramid house, centered on the height of an open plan double lounge around an indoor pool, has been simplified and facilitated through a range of modern materials (including bamboo, stone blue tiles and glass) and a new lighting program. A glass bridge “architecture synapse“, which clearly distinguishes old from new connects the main house for the master suite.

As the original structure, the new suite contains a large volume a little, in this case, a cube on foot, finished Claro walnut that divides the rest areas and bathrooms. billiard room “in the first photo is the most spectacular part of the house, offering an ideal place for socializing and relaxation. And as you can below, a resident has another pot, this time integrated nature

Inspiring Design Details Rest Room

Inspiring Design Details Rest Room

Inspiring Design Details Dining Room

Inspiring Design Details Dining Room

Inspiring Design Details Kitchen

Inspiring Design Details Kitchen

Inspiring Design Details Bedroom

Inspiring Design Details Bedroom

Tempura Mazel

Tempura is a Japanese dish. Tidbits are dipped in a batter of flour, water, and egg yolk, sizzled to golden in hot fat (by all means, use your wok for this if you have one), drained, and artistically arranged and served, usually on a doily-lined flat basket. The consistency of the batter (which must be neither too thick nor too thin) and the temperature of the oil (350° is just right) are of the utmost importance. Tempura cannot wait; it must go directly from wok to table.

Diet Start

  • 5 asparagus, cut into 2 or 3
    long diagonal pieces
  • 1-2 large carrots, sliced 1/4″ thick on diagonal
  • 10 green beans, ends trimmed
  • 2 small zucchini, cut into thick sticks
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into strips, pith and seeds removed
  • 6 shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water
  • 6 large parsley sprigs, stems removed, dried
  • 4 Nori seaweed, cut into quarters (available in Japanese markets)

Clean and cut vegetables; make certain they are dry.

Batter:

  • Ice water
  • 21/4 cups flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 11/2 quarts safflower oil (more if using sauté pan)

Gradually add ice water to flour with a whisk till mixture is the consistency of heavy cream. Beat yolks and whisk into mixture.

Heat oil to 350° in wok or large sauté pan. Dip vegetables into batter and fry till golden (1-2 minutes). Do not crowd pan. Drain.

Chilis Mazel

  • 6 fresh green chilis
  • 1 recipe Mazel Cheese Mexican, warmed
  • Ice water
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Safflower oil to deep fry (about 11/2 qts.)
  • 1 recipe of cooked Salsa Mazel

Slit chilis lengthwise, just long enough to stuff with Mazel Cheese Mexican. Clean out seeds, etc. Stuff with Mazel Cheese mixture and set aside.

Gently whisk enough ice water into flour to make it about the consistency of heavy cream. Beat yolk with a fork, then whisk into batter.

Heat oil to 350°. Dip each chili into batter. Cook in oil till golden (1-2 minutes)

Drain on paper towels.

Served cooked salsa over chilis.

YIELD: 2 servings.

The timing on deep frying is difficult to pinpoint. Variables include size of pan, the amount of oil used, temperature of oil, desired color of finished product, etc. Do not crowd pan.

The Ten Steps of Body Clock Diet

The ten steps of the Body Clock Prescription that follow don’t take much time or many resources but they go a long way toward helping you stay healthy if you are well or feel better if you are ill.

  1. Follow the Body Clock Diet. Put protein in your morning meal, snacks and lunch, either by drinking the Rhythmic Shake or by emphasizing high protein foods. Move most of your carbohydrates from breakfast, lunch and morning snacks to the evening.
  2. If you scored high on the insulin resistance test, adhere as rigorously as you can to the Body Clock Diet. Because insulin resistance is at the root of so many conditions, you want to capitalize on your ability to bring down your serum insulin level. Eat the maximum tolerable amount of your protein during the day and save as many of your carbohydrates as possible for one meal in the evening. Craving carbohydrates is your enemy in this regard; you will probably need to make a gradual transition to the level of strictness that I’m recommending. That way, your insulin levels will come down step by step; they will not be screaming for carbohydrates while I’m screaming at you not to eat them.
  3. Excess alcohol and caffeine interfere with circadian rhythm. The definition of excess depends on the person and on the time of day. In the early evening, the effects of alcohol are minimized by most people’s capacity to easily metabolize two to four ounces of liquor over a two- to four-hour period. But efficient alcohol metabolism declines dramatically after 10:00 p.m., making late night drinking particularly disruptive. Avoid caffeine except at around 4:00 p.m., the one time of day when its circadian effects are neutral.
  4. Stay away from diet drinks because they send a false signal to your body. They promise the potential arrival of sugar and then, after engaging your body’s mechanism for raising insulin, let you down when the sugar doesn’t arrive.
  5. Get plenty of full spectrum sunlight in your eyes and on some part of your skin every day. When you expose your eyes to sunlight — and I hope it’s obvious that I don’t mean staring at the sun — do it without wearing spectacles. These days spectacles of all kinds block both the healthy and the injurious types of ultraviolet rays. So get out in the sun, take off your glasses and soak up a moderate amount of sunlight — at least one-half hour near dawn or dusk — every day. This does not require sunbathing, simply being out in the sun. If you live in a northern latitude where the winter days are short and there are lots of rainy, snowy or cloudy days, then consider getting a light box like those prescribed for people with seasonal affective disorder. Expose yourself to the light box for at least a couple of hours every day.
  6. Establish a regular time for going to bed at night and getting up in the morning and get sufficient sleep every night, preferably during the natural period of darkness between sundown and sunrise. While you’re asleep, expose yourself to light as little as possible. If you wake up in the middle of the night to pee, don’t turn on the light. Instead, use a dim flashlight or nightlight to light your way to the bathroom. Even a tiny amount of light at night will squash your melatonin peak. Remember that melatonin is an antioxidant and informational substance whose narrowly timed peak in the middle of the night, following a healthy exposure to light during the day, may be suppressed by ill-timed light. Failure to have a peak release of melatonin at night is like missing a bus that comes only once a day.
  7. Encourage rhythmic harmony by learning to breathe with your diaphragm. When you relinquish control to your diaphragm, your breathing will take on the normal rhythm directed by the unconscious part of your brain rather than the potentially asynchronous rhythm generated by your chest muscles. This works especially well when you engage in stressful activities that make you unconsciously hold your breath. For example, when I am on top of a ladder trying to hammer in a nail that is slightly out of reach and I dislodge the nail, bang my thumb or bend the nail, I stop and say to myself, ‘Baker, stop holding your breath and take a deep one with your diaphragm.’ Then the nail goes right in. The same is true for threading a needle, looking for lost keys, worrying about finding a restroom when you’re downtown with a filling bladder, waiting in line at the bank or driving on the freeway.
  8. Engage in some form of rhythmic exercise at the same time every day, preferably in the afternoon when muscle strength is at its peak and most people perform best. If you can walk, walk. If you can swim, do that, especially if you can find nonchlorinated water to swim in and are strong enough to swim with a good steady rhythm. If you prefer, ride a bike. But whatever you do, remember to breathe in a relaxed way, using your diaphragm, so that the effort of your exercise reinforces rhythmic harmony in your body instead of allowing unnatural chest breathing to interfere with it.
  9. Working out to music takes exercise one step farther by permitting you to synchronize your activity with the beat of the music. Of course, the ultimate refinement of exercising to music is dance. If you are ill and unable to move about, then simply listen to music, but really listen so that the music penetrates your being rather than simply acting as a background to whatever you are doing. Some types of music are more healing than others. I asked Millie Grenough, a music therapist and author of Sing It! Learn English Through Song, what would be the best choice of music for a person with inflammatory illness.3 She said, ‘It can be anything from Mozart and Vivaldi to favorite Broadway tunes, from long-remembered lullabies or Tibetan chants to your favorite song when you were sixteen. The main thing is that it be music the person loves.’
  10. Meditate daily to reinforce and integrate your body’s rhythms. And if you’re ill, use meditation as the platform from which you launch the powerful tool of visualization. When you dance, you put your whole body’s movement into the embrace of something bigger than yourself — the music. When you are fully the captive of the music, you are free to receive its blessing. And every step of the dance is a choice you make to stay with the music.

WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Cincinnati Enquirer Community Press

WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Cincinnati Enquirer Community Press in an article titled, “Mercy Health’s new hospital could be economic boon to township.” The article focuses on the opening of the Mercy Health – West Hospital in Green Township and how that is creating an opportunity for businesses in the community including the new Cincinnati WORKOUT ANYTIME. The article begins with details about the new hospital, then goes into the economic development going on in the area. The article then details some of the businesses opening in the area, including Tony Petrocelli’s Cincinnati WORKOUT ANYTIME. The article includes this information provided by No Limit Agency: “Cincinnati resident Tony Petrocelli is opening the first Workout Anytime in Ohio near the hospital, in a space that was previously a WesBanco and had been vacant for six years.” The article ends with info on other businesses and plans for development in the area.  Click here for the entire article or begin below.

Mercy Health’s new hospital could be economic boon to township
By: Kurt Backschneider

GREEN TWP. — While township leaders are excited about the state-of-the-art medical services Mercy Health is bringing to the West Side, they’re also looking forward to economic development opportunities the new hospital will help attract.

Mercy Health – West Hospital, a 250-bed, full-service hospital off of North Bend Road near Interstate 74, will open for business Sunday, Nov. 10. 

Roughly five years in the making, the $240 million hospital will feature the latest advancements in patient care and comfort, new technologies, private patient rooms and expanded medical services for West Siders.

(Read More)

My Trip to Pakistan – Islamabad December 2011

This is my first trip to Pakistan after 9/11. The last time I was in Pakistan was in 2008, most of the contacts I had made during my last visits have not resulted in any business. However I was able to secure a training assignment which; believe it or not took 2 years to secure. It just goes to show how some clients work. The need for this training was identified over 2 years ago but due to financial and other ground realities they were not able to run the training course in Pakistan.



The travel plans were made and I set off to Pakistan on the 9th of December. The journey started well as I got upgraded to business class and had a pleasant journey to Karachi. I was scheduled to take a domestic flight from Karachi to Islamabad. Things started to go bad when I landed. I made my way to the check in counter to learn that the PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) flight to Islamabad was cancelled. They just did not bother to contact the agents or the passengers to inform them of the cancellation. The PIA ground staff were however polite and quickly arranged me to stay at the Airport Hotel and take the first flight out to Islamabad on the 10th morning. I had to call my client and the hotel in Islamabad to inform them of the changes to my itinerary. Hurrah to mobile roaming!


My perceptions of an Airport Hotel were based on the other airport hotels which I had stayed in (Dubai, Bangkok, Amsterdam); however the Airport Hotel in Karachi is another matter altogether. It is a real dump. I am not running down Pakistan or its people as I have stayed in very good hotels in Karachi and Lahore on my previous visits to Pakistan. This was a real house of horror. The rooms were dirty and smelly, the bathrooms were dirty and the dining hall was something else altogether. The table cloths were full of food stains and looked like they have never been bleached since the day they were made.


The management of this hotel needs major overhauling if it is to be an airport hotel. The staff of the hotel belongs in a farm looking after animals and not in a hotel serving weary travelers. They have no idea of how to handle guest in the hospitality industry.


I left the hotel early morning (on the 10th) and made my way to the airport to catch the flight to Islamabad. Things ran smoothly from then on and reached Islamabad on time. I was met by the Islamabad Hotel (http://www.islamabadhotel.com.pk/ ) representative at the airport and was taken to the car park to embark on the short drive to the Hotel. In the car park I saw this amazing site of a fork lift being used to move cars that had parked violating the parking rules.

I settled in at the hotel and met the client in the evening to prepare for the start of the training. The training on Institutional & Organizational Development will run for 5 days with 25 participants.


The first day of the training went well and the atmosphere in the training room was good and positive the client was very happy at the end of the day and was keen to keep the same momentum during then next 4 days.


The second day of the training also went along as planned and was well received by the participants. After the training I went to the shops (Jinnah Super Market) with one of the participants as my guide. Islamabad boasts of quite a few good shopping areas with some well stocked shops in clothing. The main thing that struck me is that you do not see poverty on every corner. Islamabad seems to have a majority of middleclass to upper class people living in the city. Quite a contrast to Karachi and Lahore where you do see poverty as it is common in other cities of South Asia.


The third day of training went smoothly without incident. After the training I met the managing director of a company which I met last when I was in Lahore in 2008. We were unable to build a working business relationship since we last met (9/11, war in Sri Lanka and the deterioration of the security in Pakistan which led to the Sri Lankan cricket team being attacked). We discussed the opportunities for joint collaboration and agreed to take the business relationship to the next level. Only time will tell is we are able to do this.


The fourth day of the training too went well and we will be going out for dinner with all the participants. We all made our way to Monal Restaurant located about 4000 feet above sea level (http://themonal.com/monal.htm ) at the top of the hill at Margalla Hills National Park for a night time view of the city of Islamabad.

I recommend to all who visit Islamabad to go for dinner at this restaurant, the view and the food was exceptional and so was the service. After dinner we went to Gelato Affair (www.gelatoaffair.com ) at the Gole Market to have dessert. The ice cream selection available was enormous and great tasting.


The last day of training went according to plan and was able to conclude the training program on time as planned. The participants were appreciative of the efforts of the trainer and received excellent feedback through the training evaluation. After the customary goodbyes and promises to keep in touch we concluded assignment.


The trip back to Colombo was on schedule; unlike while arriving at Islamabad the flight back to Karachi was on time and managed to arrive at Karachi without any hassle.

And More: Deals and Sales – 2014 Summer Super Sales

Just to let more people know, in case some didn’t already, there are a lot of great Summer Sales going on right now at various game distribution/retailer websites [think of them as ‘Winter Wonder Sales’ if you are in the Southern Hemisphere]. Here are a couple samples:

Good Old Games, now called GOG.com, have both ongoing sales and Time Limited Deals, with games such as The Hitman Series, Simcity2000, the Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale series, the Might & Magic series, the Wing Commander series, Quest For Glory and King’s Quest series, the Rollercoaster Tycoon series, and much more
(Click to see Full Size)

Steam is having it’s Summer Sale, that also has some ongoing deals with some Time Limited Sales, with games such as The Witcher series, Euro Truck Simulator series, the Left 4 Dead series, the Total War series of games, Red Alert 3, Civilization 5, and much more
(Click to see Full Size)
Some of these are Time Limited Deals, meaning that they are only ‘on’ for a few hours, or change after a few hours – so check back there once in a while and see if any games you have been waiting for are on sale – most of these are 80% or 90% off!
[For the most part, they seem to ‘stay’ on sale/remain on sale, but at a slightly higher sale price than within the ‘time limit’ (but are still available at less than regular price)]
I hope you find something you like and See You In The Games!

Essential fats

If you have been doggedly avoiding fat in an attempt to lose weight — this approach is WRONG. You need fats in your diet. Your brain consists mostly of fat, and your intelligence, heartbeat and muscular movements all depend on it. The only way in which your body can send electrical messages through living tissue is via your nerve cells and their connectors, which again are made of fat.

The fact is that some fats (known as lipids) are essential. They act as the second energy reserve behind glycogen, providing most of their energy at around 70 per cent of maximum heart rate. Endurance athletes utilize fat as an energy source more than other sports people and this is why they tend to be lean.

Fats are not just for energy, though. Their many other functions include insulating important organs, carrying fat-soluble vitamins and regulating hormone levels. If you’re a female athlete and you experience a loss of your periods, this may be due to extremely low body fat, for this plays a vital role in the activation of the female hormone oestrogen.

Fats also contribute to health in many other ways — provided they are of the right kind. In an attempt to warn people about the risk of consuming toomuch fat, certain groups have created the impression that all fats are bad, but this simply is not true.

Diet Start

Are you eating the wrong fats?

Many people in the Western world are getting 45 per cent of their calorific intake from fats, but these are junk fats that the body cannot use, so these people are just as fat-deficient as those on extremely low-fat regimes.

THERE ARE TWO MAIN TYPES OF NATURAL FATS:

1. Saturated fats come primarily from animal sources such as meat and dairy products, and from coconut and palm-kernel oil; they are solid at room temperature. They provide the body with a stored form of energy in fat cells.

2. Unsaturated fats are found in vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds, and in fish and game; they are liquid at room temperature. They contain two fatty acids that are essential to life and, more importantly, that the body cannot produce itself. These are linoleic acid (omega-6) and linolenic acid (omega-3) From these two ‘essential fatty acids‘ your body can make all the other fatty acids it needs.

Is it just a case of cutting out saturated fat?

Saturated fat gets a bad press, and a diet too heavy in it has been closely linked to cardiovascular disease. However, there is another fat with an equal capacity to harm: hydrogenated fat.

Hydrogenated fat is solid or semi-solid at room temperature (the best example being margarine). It is created when a liquid oil (such as corn oil) has hydrogen added to it, changing its chemical structure. This in turn can interfere with the metabolism of some essential fatty acids. Research has shown that the trans fats in hydrogenated fats can increase LDL (poor) cholesterol,decrease HDL (good) cholesterol and thus raise the risk of coronary heart disease. Hydrogenated fat is found in almost all processed foods, plus frozen convenience foods and deep-fried fast food. This is another good reason to say goodbye to junk food and hello to fresh produce.

If you usually ingest high amounts of processed fats and use commercially altered oils for cooking, then you are certainly not getting the balance of fats that your body needs.

Why don’t food manufacturers use healthier oils?

Even though the food industry uses vegetable oils that contain a reasonable amount of omega-6 fatty acids, they avoid omega-3s because these are more susceptible to oxidization — in other words, they go rancid quickly and don’t have a long shelf life.

Ironic, isn’t it? Food manufacturers quite happily promote food under the guise of lowering cholesterol and reducing heart disease, but they are ignoring one of the fats essential to health. So unless you are eating high amounts of fish, fish oils, leafy vegetables, nuts, unrefined olive oil, tofu or flaxseed oil, your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is probably screwed up, and this in turn will be screwing up your health.

The current Western diet is much higher in omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3’s. Remember those healthy Palaeolithic people we were discussing earlier? They were eating equal amounts of both.

How is this relevant to body weight?

If you are eating a diet with a good balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, this will affect your body in beneficial fat-burning ways:

  • Your metabolic rate will be increased, as will the metabolism of fats, so more stored fat will be burned for energy
  • Your cells’ sensitivity to insulin will be increased, so that it regulates blood- sugar levels more effectively
  • The ratio of insulin to glucagons will improve, which will unlock the fat- storage banks and again allow fat to be burned as energy
  • Natural appetite suppressants will kick in.

So if you want to improve your chances of losing weight, you need to up your intake of omega-3 and other healthy fats.

Essential fats Q&A

Q. How often should I eat oily fish per week if I want to consume enough omega-3 fatty acids?

A. You should aim to eat oily fish a minimum of 2-3 times per week, or ensure you use flaxseed oil regularly on salads to raise your levels. Try to eat fish from as safe a source as possible as many coldwater fish are contaminated with heavy metals and pesticides.

Q. How can I avoid hydrogenated fat?

A. Cut out processed food and only use cold-pressed un-refined oils such as olive oil, or coconut oil for cooking. Don’t eat fast food that has been deep-fried and avoid butter type spreads. If you did this, then you should be able to avoid consuming dangerous trans fatty acids.

Workout Anytime on FOX 19

Workout Anytime on FOX 19

Tony Petrocelli from Workout Anytime was recently featured on a segment on FOX 19 in Cincinnati. The segment is about what women do wrong while working out. Tony then talks about the locations and mentions that there are franchise opportunities.

Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

You can view the full segment here.

Knoxville News Sentinel featuring Kurt and April Nitzsche

Knoxville News Sentinel featured WORKOUT ANYTIME owners Kurt and April Nitzsche.
The online article includes a great picture of April showing one of her clients, how to use one of many exercise machines at the Maryville location. The story also ran in the print edition on the front page of the business section with a large two picture spread of Kurt and April.
April Nitzsche explains to Robert Ridenour how to use one of many exercise machines at the Workout Anytime in Maryville on Thursday, January 16, 2014. April and her husband Kurt Nitzsche are the franchise owners of the Workout Anytime in Bearden and are now expanding into Maryville with their second location.         (SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)
You can view the online article here. 

Eat more and more, do you know chemicals in foods blow you appetite?

In a very real sense, everybody has direct reactions to foods. Direct reactions are reactions caused directly to cells by chemicals in foods. Among the most obvious direct reactions are those caused by alcohol. If you drink alcohol, you are almost certain to experience sedative effects, due to the direct effect of alcohol on your brain cells.

Often, people with Asian heritage react quite negatively to alcohol, and the common belief is that they’re allergic to it. Technically, though, they don’t have an allergy; they have a sensitivity — because this is a direct reaction, which doesn’t involve the immune system. I believe that it’s clearer and more sensible to say simply that Asians often have a food reaction to alcohol, since food reactions include both allergies and sensitivities.

Diet Start

Direct reactions, however, can eventually involve the immune system, because sooner or later the immune system is called in to repair the mess that direct food reactions cause. Therefore, the symptoms of direct reactions can feel much like allergies. Because of this, direct food reactions are sometimes called false food allergies.

Alcohol has obvious direct actions, but most direct food reactions are more subtle. Often, direct reactions occur when chemicals in foods bind with the cells that produce histamine; these cells are called mast cells. When this happens, it can cause the release of histamine. The food chemicals that are most likely to do this are lectins, which are most often found in wheat, peanuts, and beans. Another cause can be certain partial proteins, or peptides, that are found in tomatoes, strawberries, shellfish, pork, chocolate, and eggs.

Other foods that often seem to cause direct food reactions are mustard, pineapple, papaya, buckwheat, and sunflower seeds. Ironically, one patient of mine had terrible digestive symptoms, including severe heartburn, and took large amounts of digestive enzymes to help the problem. However, his enzymes were full of papaya, which he later found he was reactive to. When he stopped taking the digestive aids, his digestion improved immeasurably. Moral of the story: don’t trust common knowledge about what’s healthy — trust your own experiences. Everyone is different.

Other foods that sometimes cause direct reactions are those that contain high levels of natural histamines. Histamines are formed in foods that are allowed to age and ferment. Therefore, histamines are often found in aged cheese, sausage, and salami.

Other foods that can cause direct reactions are those that contain the partial proteins tyramine, phenylethylamine, and octopamine. These chemicals, like histamines, can cause blood vessels to expand and contract, which causes tissue swelling. In the head, blood vessel constriction and expansion can cause migraine headaches. That’s why people who get migraines often shun the foods that are high in these partial proteins, such as wine, aged cheese, citrus fruit and yeast.

Another common foodstuff that often causes direct reactions is the artificial sweetener aspartame. Aspartame is mostly composed of the partial protein, or amino acid, called phenylalanine. In some people, it acts directly on brain cells, causing symptoms such as agitation and depression. In other people, it causes blood vessels to contract and expand, triggering migraines. In most people, though, it causes no reaction at all.

Many people also react to MSG, or monosodium glutamate, with headaches, nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations, and confusion. Others react to various additives, including nitrates, sulphites, and artificial food colours.

Another name for direct food reactions is pharmacologic reactions. That’s a good description, because it implies an important point: foods, like drugs, are chemicals. Not all drugs are good for you — and not all foods are, either.

Now let’s look at the last type of food reaction: immune complex reactions. This type of reaction is not well known. But it should be. It can be a killer.

Foods, like drugs, are chemicals. Not all drugs are good for you, and not all foods are, either.

WORKOUT ANYTIME in Journal & Topics Newspapers

WORKOUT ANYTIME in Journal & Topics Newspapers in an article titled, “New 24-Hour Fitness Facility Opens In Buffalo Grove.” The article begins with information about the new club and then gives some details about the grand opening. The article ends with information on WORKOUTANYTIME’s plans for expansion in Illinois and some background on Jeff.  Click here to read more or begin below.

New 24-Hour Fitness Facility Opens In Buffalo Grove

A new 24-hour fitness facility recently opened in Buffalo Grove.

Workout Anytime opened at 700 Buffalo Grove Rd. The facility is open 24 hours a day to members with staff on site from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. Members receive a special key card to unlock doors when staff is not present.

(Read More)

good representation of the concepts

Authors Are People, Too!

Oh, bloggy friends, I have missed you! This year is kicking my behind! I had high hopes that I’d still be blogging with great regularity this year, but alas…between my 28 awesome fourth graders, the start of my PhD, and my incredible two-year-old daughter, time is an oh-so-precious commodity. By the time my little one makes it to bed at night, I. am. wiped. out. And then I usually have textbooks to read and papers to write. But not today.

Today, I wanted to share with you the very awesome author visit we had at my school.

Granted, it’s old news by now. It happened during the Decatur Book Festival on Labor Day weekend, which, by the way, is one of the coolest things you can do in the Atlanta area if you’re ever here for Labor Day. But my experience was cool enough that I still wanted to share…four weeks later…

Every year as part of the book festival, 1 or 2 children’s authors come and talk at our school. This year, the fourth graders got to listen to Chris Grabenstein. If you’re not familiar with him, you should seriously run, not walk, but run to get his new book, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.

This book is the story of Kyle Keeley, an avid game-player who wins a contest to spend the night in the new library built by master game-maker Luigi Lemoncello. As Kyle explores the library, however, he realizes that winning the contest was just the beginning, and a whole new game with high stakes, twists, and turns is starting. It reminds me a little of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Roald Dahl is just one of many authors referenced in the book. It’s very clever, fast-paced, and entertaining. I started it as a read-aloud when we found out that Mr. Grabenstein was coming, and we seriously couldn’t put it down. It was one of those books where I’ve had multiple students go out and buy it on their own because they couldn’t handle waiting for us to read it in class. It’s way up there on my recommendation list.

Mr. Grabenstein definitely inspired the students as writers. He shared a lot about his writing process, but his overall message was to just let it flow without editing yourself. To illustrate that, he modeled writing a story for the students. Prior to starting, he gathered 5-6 random words that students had written on sticky notes. He stuck those in his back pocket. Then, he projected a crazy picture.

He explained the difference between a protagonist and an antagonist, and he encouraged students to “Ask yourself, ‘what if…?'” He said that there are always a few questions you need to think about when planning a story.
  • Who is this guy?
  • What does he want?
  • Where is he?
  • Who wants to stop him?
  • Why?
He then took student suggestions to answer those questions and plan his story.
Next, he had students come up with a starting sentence: “My face hurts,” and an ending sentence: “He ate radioactive iridium isotopes” so we would know when his story was starting and ending. And then he just started telling the story. It was hilarious! At various points throughout the story, he would pretend to be stuck and pull a word out of his back pocket, and no matter what it was, he just rolled with it. He has a background in improv comedy, so I suspect that helps. Still, it really hit home the message that you shouldn’t censor yourself while you’re drafting — you can always go back and change things later if you need to. When you’re drafting, you should just let it flow to wherever creative place you’re led. 
 We were pretty inspired by his presentation, and we went back to the classroom to a) write, and b) read more of his book. The kids were so excited! We were totally unprepared, however, when he came into our classroom about an hour later. (So unprepared, in fact, that some of my students were still working on their vocabulary tests on Spelling City!) 

Usually when authors have come to our school, they’ve given their presentations, signed a few books, and then split. Mr. Grabenstein went above and beyond, happy to spend his day engaging with the kids and taking an interest in what they were doing. They barraged him with questions, and he answered openly and honestly, encouraging the kids the whole time. Needless to say, Mr. Grabenstein has secured quite a fan base in Eberopolis.

In the weeks since his visit, we’ve had countless conversations in writing about some of the little tidbits Mr. Grabenstein shared with us, but more than anything, I loved that my students got a chance to see that authors are real people, too. They have good ideas and bad, writer’s block and inner editors just like the rest of us. But they power through those hurdles, and we get some fantastic books as a result.

Thank you for visiting us, Mr. Grabenstein. It was definitely a highlight in our year.

Mt Trip to Manila, Philippines cont……..

I returned to Colombo on the 19th morning without any delays. On the way I met one of my colleagues at Bangkok airport and that helped pass the time as well as chat on the plane.

I found an interesting article on the web regarding “don’t know that you don’t know” I found the article to be spot on and very helpful in understanding this phenomenon. http://www.doceo.co.uk/tools/knowing.htm Now I can start to develop some strategy to work around this problem so that I am better prepared to face such an issue the next time around.

I finished documenting the results of the workshop in Manila and sent the results for comments from the client. I am still waiting for the results. Hope I am able to finish this assignment this week as it has the potential to get delayed and get ugly.

In terms of my future travel plans there are no assignments where I need to travel overseas at present. The assignments I have lined up are in Colombo. However things can change very quickly.

Number Talks Chapter 1 – Thumbs Up for the Silent Thumb

I’m linking up with my friend Misty over at Think, Wonder, & Teach for her summer book study of Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies, Grades K-5

Given that I’m wrapping up a K-5 Math Endorsement this month, this is a timely book for me. I love to teach math far more than I ever anticipated that I would when I entered this profession, and I really enjoy getting students to share and discuss their mathematical thinking. I’ve noticed, however, that many students lack strong mental math and computation strategies, relying instead on memorization to get them by. By the time they get to 4th grade, that’s not really a viable strategy anymore. They’re starting to work with much larger numbers, and they subsequently have more parts and steps to keep straight in their heads. If they don’t have great mental math strategies going, then it’s likely to become a mess pretty quickly. They can always solve problems on paper, but unless they have the good number sense that goes with doing mental math, they’ll never be able to gauge the reasonableness of their answers. In those regards, this book seems like a great idea.

Chapter 1 really just introduces the concept of a number talk, and Misty does a great job summarizing it, so I won’t go into that here. One of my favorite teaching ideas from the book so far, however, was the idea of the “Silent Thumb.” When students are given a mental math problem, they need some “think time.” But every class has 2-3 students who are super math-letes who have the answer before the rest of the class has even processed what problem they’re being asked to solve, and those kids with their proud “I know! I’ve got it!” hand-waving typically end up dominating the conversation. The “silent thumb” solves that problem. All students hold their hand in a fist over their chest as they solve the problem. When they’ve got an answer, they move their hand from a fist to a “thumbs up.” They then think of another strategy to solve it while the other students are thinking, and for each additional strategy they come up with, they extend a finger. Awesome, right? I love how this gives all students some think time without creating pressure for some kids to hurry up because the fist is held close to the body — not waved in the air for everyone else to see. It also validates those super math-letes for their mathematical thinking by allowing them to communicate to the teacher that they have multiple strategies for solving the problem. And if they don’t have multiple strategies, then they have something to think about while the others are working.

I’m definitely interested in learning more about Number Talks, and I’m excited to delve into this book a bit more. I’ll be posting more about this book in the weeks to come as I link up with Misty’s book study.

If you don’t currently have a copy of Number Talks, you can still read the first chapter online. The book is a little bit pricier than most professional development books, but it comes with a DVD full of examples and it has a lot of resources packed in the text. If you’re looking to increase students’ mental math abilities, then this could be a great resource to use.

Be sure to check out Misty’s Number Talks chapter 1 linky party where you can add some ideas of your own or read what other teacher bloggers are saying about the book. I promise you’ll find some great ideas there!

And click here to see my review of Chapter 2!

Have you ever done Number Talks in your classroom? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section!

Thanks for reading,

Peanut Benefits for Health

PEANUT BENEFITS FOR HEALTH

Peanut Benefits for Health – Peanuts are legumes that take the benefits to the area of the roots are forming pods, do you know if the bean plants it has the advantage of a very remarkable in the area of agricultural land, the reason is because the beans are plants that collaborate with types of mycorrhizal fungi to synthesize N in the air become available to the plant, N that includes nutrients that are needed by plants in large enough quantities, land former planted beans have levels of N were pretty much up intake N for the next crop is still there. Not only useful for agriculture, but peanuts also have benefits for our health.
Peanut Benefits For Health - 1
Now let us try to discuss specifically about the benefits of the bean plants to our body and how much is the benefit that we can take from this pod peanut plants. Consider the benefits of peanuts below:
Peanut Benefits for Health
1. Helps To Increase Fertility
For you are the woman I’m sure you’ve got the point. Peanuts contain folic acid, according to research women who ate peanuts 400 micrograms of folic acid have a lower risk of having a baby born with a serious neural tube defects up to 70% at the time before pregnancy and early pregnancy
2. It Can Prevent Painful Gallstones
During 20 years of research have shown if by consuming 1 ounce of peanut butter a week can reduce the risk of developing gallstones by 25%.
Peanut Benefits For Health
3. Can Help Reduce Depression And Stress
Peanuts are a good source of tryptophan, the role of these substances can increase serotonin antidepressant effects (which can affect the atmosphere in the heart) if there is an increase in the amount of serotonin in the blood.
4. Can Improve Memory
The beans have a content of vitamin B3 or also often called by naisin content is also beneficial to maintain the health of the brain and improve memory.
5. Lowers Bad Cholesterol
Peanuts contain cholesterol substances that are good for our bodies, as well as the good cholesterol can reduce cholesterol levels and can control the evil by means of dominating it.

Hopefully article Peanut Benefits for Health can we share today can be beneficial for you. Do not forget to always visit the website abouthealthbenefits.xyz to seek other health articles. Thank You.

Chronic Illnesses and Diet part 1

Chronic illnesses are frequently the result of a web of interrelated factors. Your body may be reacting to a germ, an allergen or a toxin or you may be deficient in a vital nutrient. And the whole situation may be complicated by insulin resistance. It’s unrealistic to think that finding and treating just one piece of the puzzle will be sufficient to remedy the problem. Restoring balance is a more realistic approach.

Balance and Health

Balance is a key concept in most alternative medical approaches to health, such as traditional Chinese medicine, naturopathy, homeopathy and Ayurveda. One of the problems that mainstream medicine has with these alternative medical systems is that the practitioners appear to offer the same remedy for all sorts of illnesses. This doesn’t seem right to doctors trained to think that there are a certain number of discrete diseases that exist in nature. Physicians have also been taught that for each disease there is a distinct treatment. We know, for example, that if you have a strep throat or pneumonia a particular antibiotic is the right treatment, while another antibiotic is appropriate for your urinary tract infection because a different germ is involved. If you burn your finger or you break your arm, the treatment is again going to be designed for the specific problem that you have.

Diet Start

There is certainly some truth to the idea that specific illnesses or conditions need precise, individualized treatments. But there is another valid argument to be made as we move away from acute ailments to focus on the increasing prevalence of chronic illnesses. Sometimes the symptoms of a chronic illness can be suppressed with drugs, but since the cause of the disease is unknown, an individualized remedy to cure the person is out of the question. When an alternative medical practitioner recommends a generalized strategy that is not necessarily aimed at the distinct disease but is more directed at correcting imbalance, these approaches are designed to get to the underlying causes rather than the individual symptoms.

If you are in pain, it’s hard to believe in a treatment unless it works right away. Dietary changes and other generalized strategies, like the Body Clock Prescription, usually do not produce instant relief. These measures do sometimes take effect quickly, but it’s frequently a slower process. I think you will be more motivated if you understand what lies behind much chronic illness.

Rhythmic Disturbances May Underlie Many Chronic Illness

As researchers continue to elucidate the mysteries of the scientific basis of disease, we realize more and more that similar fundamental mechanisms underlie much chronic illness. These include abnormalities of cell membranes and their capacity to send and receive messages, the backfiring of chemistry designed for cellular defense (autoimmunity and inflammation) and ‘sparks’ from your own metabolic fire, environmental radiation and chemical pollutants (oxidative damage). This is why a generalized strategy to treat chronic illness is beneficial.

To this list I would add dyschronism or the failure to keep the various cadences of the body’s biochemical activities in harmony. Disharmony is the direct cause of jet lag, symptoms related to shift work and some sleep disturbances. But having your body in disharmony is also likely to bring out the worst in you more readily than if your body is well tuned. Poor tuning contributes indirectly to the expression of other illnesses, as indicated by the tendency for many ailments to have their own characteristic time peak of maximum intensity. There is evidence to support the idea that there is a rhythmic component in a number of diseases; among the most significant findings related to dyschronism are the following:

Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression directly linked to the shorter daylight hours of winter.

Sudden cardiac death and nonfatal heart attacks occur most frequently between 7:00 and 11:00 a.m.

Strokes occur more frequently between 6:00 a.m. and noon.

Asthma sufferers experience their worst symptoms in the early morning hours.

The growth of breast cancer cells may be inhibited by melatonin. (When a 1995 study showed that Finnish flight attendants had an increased risk of breast cancer, the principal investigator hypothesized that frequently crossing time zones was part of the problem, since jet lag interferes with the normal production of melatonin. Although his theory has not yet been proven, other studies have shown that melatonin inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells.)

Circadian rhythms have been substantiated in the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (least pain and stiffness around 5 p.m.) and allergic rhinitis (peak of worst symptoms between 5:00 and 7:00 a.m.).

WORKOUT ANYTIME on Cincinnati.com

WORKOUT ANYTIME on Cincinnati.com

The article was written by Cincinnati Enquirer Business Reporter Bowdeya Tweh and was based on interviews coordinated with Tony Petrocelli and WORKOUT ANYTIME Vice President of Development Randy Trotter. The article begins with details about the opening of the WORKOUT ANYTIME in Montford Heights. The article gives information about the gym and about the company, as well as information on development plans in Ohio.        
Workout Anytime

You can view the full article here, and view contact information about WORKOUT ANYTIME’S new gym in Montford Heights here.

Choosing a Sensible Diet, Healthy Appetite

So you like to eat! That’s normal. A healthy appetite is one of the greatest assets in life. The whole body seems to respond to the sight, smell, and taste of a well-prepared meal. Every organ responds to the occasion. The glands work more vigorously, the digestive organs operate more efficiently, and the nervous tensions relax. That is why eating is such a pleasure, especially when you are healthy.

Many people, however, are neither sick nor well. They are somewhere in between. They drag themselves around, feeling half dead much of the time. Yet, they are not sick enough to go to bed. What is the cause of their trouble? Many times it is due to a faulty diet. Some victims of nervous conditions could be completely cured if they would only learn to eat properly. The same is true of many others who suffer from digestive complaints. They could all find relief from their miseries by choosing better meals.

So much depends on the right choice of food. This human body in which we live is a superb machine. It is capable of operating smoothly for seventy or eighty years, provided that we treat it well. But if we fail to supply it with the materials it needs, the results may be well-nigh disastrous.

Every time we open our mouths to eat we make an important decision concerning our future.

Good health always begins in the garden. A well-balanced diet naturally includes plenty of wholesome fruits and vegetables.

Diet Start

What we choose to eat will either help to keep us strong and healthy or it will leave us weakened and less prepared to meet the stress and strain of living. The kind of health and the length of life we enjoy probably depend more on the type and quality of foods we choose than on any other factor. The choice is up to us.

It was the Creator’s plan that the foods we eat should keep us young and healthy. Many bring on premature old age by wrong eating habits.

Unfortunately, a great many people never give much thought to their diet. They will eat anything they can get their hands on or that may appeal to their perverted appetites. In their minds one thing is as good as another—or as bad. They will eat at any odd time whether they are hungry or not. No wonder they are sick! The human digestive system was never intended to sustain this kind of abuse.

Don’t Be a Faddist

On the other hand, there are some who react quite differently. They take great pains regarding what they eat. They are so careful to avoid anything that they suspect might cause them trouble. They are so particular in everything they do. Every now and then they go on some newfangled diet in the hope of winning back their lost energies. This means that they often deprive themselves of the very things they so much need. Such people are slowly starving themselves in the midst of plenty.

In most cases there was nothing radically wrong with such people. They simply didn’t know how to feed themselves in a proper manner. They were not intelligent on some of these most vital issues of life.

It should seem perfectly obvious to everyone that our bodies are built up entirely from the things we eat. We have no other way of getting these important substances into the system. Yet how few of us really think very much about this. To keep well we must develop different tastes. Our appetites need to be educated. For instance, we must realize that we cannot continue to eat devitalized foods without paying for our folly.

Foods that are highly flavored with sugar and condiments are usually devoid of some of the most important elements needed by the body. The seasonings often cover up the natural flavor to satisfy an abnormal appetite. But such foods may be completely lacking in the vital elements necessary to maintain a person in good health.

Rules for Choosing a Sensible Diet

Choosing a sensible diet is not so difficult. There are a few simple rules that anyone can follow. First of all, it is important to have plenty of variety in your diet. Don’t be satisfied with the same old humdrum meals. Look around for something new and different—avoid monotony. Find new ways of preparing food. It is a fact that the more variety you have, the less you are likely to suffer from some dietary deficiency.

The second rule is to learn something about the different materials your body needs. For instance, if you are going to build a house, you will have to buy certain supplies, such as timber, glass, bricks, plaster, nails, paint, and many more. In the same way the human body needs different building materials for the important job it has to do. These things are essential at every age of life, but more particularly during those rapidly growing years of childhood and youth. They are also necessary when one is recovering from some serious illness or injury, or during pregnancy and lactation.

What are these different materials? Doctors refer to them as proteins, fats, carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and water. These are the materials of which the body is composed. They are present in our foods. When these various substances are absorbed into the blood stream, they are usually stored in the liver and other organs until they are needed. With the exception of water, each must undergo certain changes before being used in the human system. Myriads of chemical reactions are taking place within your own body at this very minute. This is what keeps you healthy and strong, so that all your organs will be working at full capacity.

From our foods we get the materials out of which the bones, muscles, nerves, skin, and all the internal organs are formed. From our food we also derive the energy we need in carrying on all the activities of life. In addition, we must have other important chemicals that are needed to regulate the activities of every organ in the body. Unless these materials are present in our daily diet, we are likely to suffer from some deficiency. Sooner or later we will find ourselves in real trouble.

The average diet of many families today is lacking in certain of these nutrients. Sometimes the trouble is due to insufficient protein. At other times it may be a loss of vitamins or minerals, which may have occurred during the preparation of the food. Some people try to make up for a deficient diet by taking extra vitamins in the form of pills. These may help, but they will never take the place of good food in supplying the needs of the body. There is always danger in trying to follow some haphazard, unbalanced diet. Only a sensible way of living will enable us to enjoy a full and satisfying life, free from diseases that could have been avoided.

High-quality protein continue…

Soya’s starring role

Soya is another star player on the protein front, and although it doesn’t have as high a BV as whey protein, meat, fish or eggs, it has a multitude of health benefits which more than justify its inclusion in a low-carb diet; and it is a great vegetarian option.

Soya contains all-important isoflavones, which can reduce insulin levels, decrease arteriosclerosis (thickening of the arterial walls) and lower levels of LDL (Low-Density Lipoproteins, or poor cholesterol). It has also been shown to reduce the risk of osteoporosis (softening of the bones), increase bone mass and enhance the body’s ability to retain calcium.

Diet Start

Soya is also of particular benefit to women, as the isoflavones it contains mimic the action of the female sex hormone oestrogen. It is believed that a diet high in soya can reduce the density of breast tissue, therefore lowering the risk of developing breast cancer.

Make it organic

The quality of the meat and fish we consume has dropped dramatically during the last century. Gone are the days when we were eating meat that came from animals allowed to graze freely on nutritious grass, and fish caught inunpolluted rivers and seas. Today, most farm animals are fed on grains that are high in carbohydrates and omega-6 fatty acids, then pumped full of antibiotics and hormones. And fish are being farmed in restrictive conditions, rendering them more fatty than their wild counterparts.

The only real answer is to buy the best that you can afford – the organic option being the healthiest and most nutritious. Organic is better because the quality of the food is better. It isn’t loaded with drugs and hormones, isallowed to graze naturally, and quite often comes from wild sources, so that the level of omega-3’s is higher, levels of saturated fats lower.

Protein Q&A

Q. Where does whey come from?

A, Whey comes from milk. During the process of turning milk into cheese, the whey protein is separated from the curds.

Q. Why use whey?

A. It contains the perfect combination of amino acids, in just the right concentrations for optimal performance in the body. Both hormonal and cellular responses seem to be greatly enhanced by whey supplementation. If you are trying to increase muscle mass, whey protein is invaluable in building and retaining muscle tissue.

Q. How do I know how much protein I need?

A. Easy-just follow these simple calculations. If you are sedentary you need 0.8g protein per kilogram of bodyweight (0.36g per pound of bodyweight). If you are active, you need 1.4g protein per kilogram of bodyweight (0.64g per pound of bodyweight). So a woman weighing 63kg (1401b) who exercises needs 88.2g of protein per day. A woman weighing 63kg (140Ib) who isn’t active would be fine on 50.4g of protein per day.

Q. Can I have all my protein in one meal?

A. No, it is best to spread it out over the day, so divide it between your three meals and two snacks. You can do this by having eggs at breakfast, a portion of nuts for your morning snack, some fish at lunchtime, a whey protein shake as an afternoon snack, and finally by including a piece of lean meat in your evening meal.

My Trip to Manila, Philippines

The assignment in the Philippines is to review a Strategic Plan which has been developed with the assistance of another consultant. On first glance of the plan it was not constructed in a logical way. The SWOT analysis was not used to look at strategic options. The whole plan is just a list of SWOT elements and clubbing of current activities in to 12 areas of work and finally selecting 6 areas which they call strategies and allocating opportunities and threats that are relevant to these selected 6 areas. They have not used the strengths and weaknesses.

The previous consultant does not seem to have a grasp of the logic in strategic planning; the need to start with the external factors that influence the organization and then move inside the organization.

The staff of the organization also seems to be very new to planning let alone strategic planning and have an aversion towards prioritizing and selection. As usual they seem to want to do everything. So all in all the previous plan does not have a logical flow as well as the choices the organization has made in order to mobilize resources and achieve the mission.

My task of reviewing the strategic plan was made a lot more difficult as there were representatives from a funding organization who along with the staff thought they knew everything and in reality they “did not know what they did not know”. I some times wonder why they hired an expert if they think they know everything.

They are more interested in retrofitting “logic” in to the current plan! Go figure! In effect they want to create a strategic plan breaking all the rules. I had a tough time to pull them into the right path. It seems that the organization/staff are not willing to change their current operating mode of adhocracy to a more strategic, structured logical way. So I explained that until the willingness to change is there the strategic plan will continue to be just a piece of paper.

Now I have to do the documentation. Hope to finish it as soon as possible. Looking forward to returning to Colombo; Manila is too noisy for me and for some strange reason I do not seem to like Manila. Well I have finally found a city that I do not like.

My Trip to New Delhi & Hyderabad Cont…….

Today I finished the 2nd organizational capacity assessment of research organizations. I must say that I was impressed with this organization in terms of its outputs. I was equally impressed as to how they have been able to manage the organization with limited resources.

On the way to the organization today I was able to take a photograph of the 3 wheeler which was kitted out as a tipper and used for garbage collection. Here it is.

How to Optimize the Benefits of Vitamin D Supplementation

Vitamin D is constantly in the news lately and for good reason.    Optimal levels of Vitamin D have been linked to a host of benefits including prevention and treatment of many key diseases ranging from Osteoporosis to improved heart health with reduction in heart attack risk to prevention of many different types of cancer.
The ideal way to get optimal levels of Vitamin D is to let your body create it through Safe Sun Exposure (see previous blog on this subject here:  http://workoutanytime.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-facts-on-safe-sun-exposure-and.html  However this is easier said then done, and too much sun is clearly a strong risk factor for skin cancer!      Enter Vitamin D supplementation.
The amount and form of Vitamin D supplementation has changed substantially based on lots of emerging research.    The form that should be taken is Vitamin D-3 NOT D-2 form and all experts agree on this!     However when it comes to dosage things get much trickier.      The confusion comes because Vitamin D is really a powerful compound and functions as a hormone in the body.    As such it has profound impact on virtually every system in the body.    In addition you can overdose on Vitamin D supplements so more is NOT always better!
Ideally you should order a blood test and test your levels.    The test you want is called a 25(OH)D blood test and is offered by all major labs.   You can either ask your doctor to order this test for you OR you can order an in-home test.   You just prick your finger and put a drop of bloo on the enclosed paper and send back in to the labs.    You can also your own blood test online and go to a lab to have blood drawn in the same way your doctor orders the test.   For more information on testing go here:  https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/testkit/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwh_bLBRDeARIsAH4ZYEPhv0MVkO5_S7USZZ8bwVlt5A3vPWGbBFFIbJiB8Wtva0x-IDH7UmQaAlGkEALw_wcB#
Ideal versus Acceptable Blood Levels of Vitamin D

There is a big difference between what is considered “acceptable” or okay and ideal blood levels.   Here are the classifications of different blood levels of Vitamin D. according to the Vitamin D Council:
0 – 30 ng/ML is very low and considered a deficiency
30 – 39 ng/ML is better but still insufficient for optimal health and disease prevention.
40 – 100 ng/ML is optimal
Above 150 ng/ML is toxic!
The key is to test and if low take a supplement then retest 2 – 3 months after regular vitamin d use because each person is different in how much supplementation they need based on many factors including sun exposure and skin type.     The RDA for Vitamin D for infants is 400iu.    For Children 1 – 13 and adults through age 70 the RDA is 600iu and for those over 70 the RDA is 800iu.
Unfortunately, this is way too low to get many people into the sufficient much less optimal range so testing is really worthwhile.   In many cases people need 4,000 – 10,000 or more iu’s per day for at least a month to get where they need to be for optimal health!
Preventing Vitamin D Toxicity through the Co-Administration of Vitamin K-2

Like many vitamins Vitamin D has a co-factor or other vitamin that helps it perform its function better and in a more balanced fashion, and that other vitamin is Vitamin K-2 (not to be confused with K-1 found in many plants).    In an ideal world, you can get all the Vitamin K-1 you need from eating plenty of green, leafy vegetables, and your body can turn it into K-2.   Unfortunately, this conversion is lacking in many people.
More importantly K-2 is not easily toxic and can be taken with Vitamin D.    K-2 is best taken as a supplement as MK-7 version which has been heavily researched and shown to improve bone health and prevent arterial calcification which can potentially occur with too much Vitamin D.     For a more complete understanding behind how K-2 works with Vitamin D and why it is a great idea to take the MK-7 form of K-2 with Vitamin D check out this article from Dr. Mercola:   http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/03/26/the-delicate-dance-between-vitamins-d-and-k.aspx

Taking 100 – 200 mcg per day of Vitamin K-2 will help optimize the effects of Vitamin D and minimize risks associated with Vitamin D Supplementation.

Battlefield Hardline: Beginning July 15th, A Double XP Boost is Active ! [Notification]

Just a quick notification to notify those interested in Hardline to note that a Double XP Boost is Currently On! Note that the notification was noted on Battlelog, as of July 15th – unfortunately, I cannot tell at this time if it is a Premium-Only Boost or a Double XP Boost for ‘Everyone’, as I recently subscribed to Origin Access (to test it for one month, to see whether you ‘lose’ patches/etc that you have earned while it is ‘on’, which I will share as soon as I find out). Still, check out Battlelog and see if it is ‘on’ for you! http://battlelog.battlefield.com/bfh/ GOGOGO

See You In The Game!


[Update: As of July 20th, the Double XP Boost is now over… See you next time!]

And More: “An Internal Error Occurred When Overlapped Buffer Is Full” in VideoStudio X10 [Error Workaround]

[This post is currently Text-Only for speed of Posting. I may return and add example Screenshots and more, Soon™]


Update 2017-05-02: While not a ‘Fix’ for this issue, I have done more testing and found what is essentially the issue

Go to “Update 2017-05-02


Just a quick bit of information, for those using Corel’s VideoStudio X10 to edit and render their video projects and running into this error…

I was working on trying to finish some of the many, many, many projects I have in various stages of completion, and ran into an odd error when trying to render a Project in VideoStudio X10. The error said only:


“An Internal Error Occurred When Overlapped Buffer Is Full”


This is somewhat odd, as this is more of a generic Windows Application error than it is a VS (VideoStudio) error. So, I went to the Official Corel Support Forums and did other online searching…






I found a lot of people who have experienced this error, but none that had any solutions, sadly.
So, it was Time To Go Troubleshooting! /maskandcape

Now initially, I was trying to render in 1080p using the more common MPEG-4 Part 10 (h.264/AVC) format. VSx10 offers GPU-acceleration (where it utilizes the power of the videocard), like many video editing programs do these days, to help render and compress the output – and the quality of MPEG-4 can be quite good for the size, when it comes to compression.

BOOM, the error pops up, interrupting the rendering process.
Okay, time to see what could be causing it.

First, I tried to render in the other Formats that VSx10 offered (MPEG2, WMV, etc) and nothing would finish rendering without this error – except for Windows Media Video format (WMV).

Since WMV does not require GPU-acceleration to render, I disabled all GPU-powered optimization in the Preferences of the application (disabling ‘hardware acceleration’ where I could). I was hoping this would render with other formats without acceleration (MPEG-4 does not ‘require’ hardware acceleration, for example, but it renders much faster with it). Still, the error came up in any other format than WMV…

So, to dig in a bit of a different hole than the WMV format to find answers, I took out all elements of the Project except for the first video files (taking out the audio files, the Text added, images, etc) and tried to render again. It worked!

I then added in the Text elements (made with Corel’s built-in Title tools). It worked!

Since it worked with Text and all video files now, I added in the Audio Files.

BOOM, the error popped up again.
That’s okay, it’s progress – now we know that something related to the Audio is having troubles.

I was looking at the Audio Files and noticed that I had some ‘Audio Filters’ and ‘Speed/Time-Lapse’ adjustments on them (to help them synchronize somewhat in the Project), so I took those effects out and tried to render again. It worked!

Okay, so since it works with the Audio Files present – without ‘FX’ on them – then it might have something to do with the Filtering/effects…
I enabled only the Speed/Time-Lapse adjustments and left out the Audio Filters for the Audio Files that utilized them. It worked!
I then enabled the Audio Filters again and BOOM, the error reared up and roared in my face.

So, it appears that there may be something with the Audio Filters in VideoStudio that does not play nicely when you go to render the Project (for those experiencing this problem..). Nothing but WMV would produce output for me, at the time of this posting (this is with VideoStudio X10 Service Pack 1).


My advice then, is to try to utilize audio files that do not require Audio Filters in VSx10, for now (until the source of this problem is fixed in full).


If you must apply some sort of affects or filtering, there are many audio editing tools out there that can be used, at least until this gets looked at/fixed someday. Some suggestions off the top of my head are:

  • Sony’s Sound Forge (recently acquired by MAGIX, I think).
    This is a pretty capable application, with lots of effects, pitch shifting, fading and filtering available – I have used it a lot in the past when it was run by Sony. It costs some money, however.
  • Audacity.
    This is a free (Open Source) audio editing application that is popular and has many of the features and filters that Sound Forge has – I have used this too, before I could afford to buy any editors at all.
  • Adobe Audition.
    Adobe acquired the older-but-popular Cool Edit Pro audio editing program, which I personally used to use and like. I have not used it since Adobe took over, so I cannot vouch for how this one is – I assume that it is similar to how CEP was – which was quite capable. It is not free, however.


For now then, I will bring this up with Corel Support and see what they have to say about it – until this gets ‘fixed’, avoid utilizing Audio Filters in VideoStudio, if you can – for now…


Hopefully this information will be of use to those who, like me, were running into this annoying error in an otherwise decent video editing application – and hopefully it gets fixed soon!


If I remember, I will come back and Update this Post when a ‘Fix’ has been released!



Update 2017-05-02: While not a ‘Fix’ for this issue, I have done more testing and found what is essentially the issue with Corel’s VideoStudio x10 and how it handles some Audio formats (sample rate / bit depth). I am in contact with Corel Support at this time via e-mail, discussing this issue.




Here is what I have found after further testing:


I did some further testing on the audio files, looking at their specific properties. 
I found that the files giving this error were in 24bit depth, 96000Hz format. 

Just to experiment/investigate, I converted the audio file to 16bit depth, 44000Hz format (Standard Compact Disc Audio WAVeform format) and it worked! 

Here is what I found then, during more testing on the bit depth:

– 16bit audio file = Audio Filters and Speed Adjustment can both be used at the same time
– 24bit audio file = Only one or the other can be used at a time

Both Audio Filter and Speed Adjustment added = Error with 24bit audio file at 96000Hz sample rate
(I found that the 24bit depth audio files were also 96000Hz..)

Testing 24bit audio files at 44000Hz resulted in NO ERROR = it worked
(when using both an Audio Filter and a Speed Adjustment at the same time)

The error was repeatable however, with a 96kHz 24bit audio source file (having both a ‘trouble’ Audio Filter (one of those three listed above) and a Speed Adjustment on it).

Although this is not a ‘game breaking’ issue (I personally don’t mind converting any of my 24bit audio source files that are at 96kHz into 16bit depth versions but it is more work), this may be an issue for more novice users, who may not know how to do so. 
[Hmm, maybe I will make a Quick Tip on this, to help those people out…]

Related to this, many commercially available Samples (sound source files) are distributed to the customer as 24bit audio files, for higher fidelity. 
(Example: I purchased Sample Packs from Sony Creative Software and they came in a bundle as 24bit audio files. Another purchased Pack from BigFishAudio also had the source files being delivered as 24bit sources)
If any of those are at 96kHz (I see that most are at 44kHz anyway…), then it may bring up this issue. 

I realize too that it may be my machine, or my specific combination of hardware, interacting (CPU/Sound/etc) and also there does not seem to be many 96kHz 24bit audio files floating around in general usage (from what little I have seen, perhaps there are, but as I stated above, commercially-purchased packs seem to come in 44kHz 24bit format, at most).

Although this is not a ‘Fix’ directly dear readers, hopefully this information can help you VideoStudio users to avoid it, ‘stepping around it’ at least, for now – and perhaps this testing and information can even be utilized improve VideoStudio for the future… (I am in contact with their Support now, discussing these occurrences).






[Note: I am not affiliated with Corel or any of the other companies mentioned herein. I have not and I will not receive any compensation of any kind, for mentioning VideoStudio here. I am merely a user of the product and have used many of the other products mentioned above, including other video editing programs, not omitting Open Source / Free applications. I simply share information I have discovered, in hopes that it will help others.]

RELAXING BATHROOM MODERN DECORATION

Relaxation can be achieved in a variety of ways. If the shape of the tub that makes the difference, decorative items or inspire the idea that you can see, these bathrooms all have something in common with relaxation. Some interiors are rich in green arrangements, which add freshness and energy of the place. He also tried to find some bathroom designs that have a special color.

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM DESIGN

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM DESIGN

We realized that the wood has a great influence on modern decoration, the first picture, for example, because it adds authenticity and personality. The windows are also of great importance because they have a great influence on the aesthetics and atmosphere of a room. Diagonal windows give a dramatic touch and are welcome if there is a nearby slope. Most of the bathrooms in the following images are modern, but also you will find some classic elements that blend well with contemporary arrangements.

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM LUXURY DESIGN

RELAXING BATHROOM LUXURY DESIGN

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM DESIGN

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM DESIGN

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM GREEN DESIGN

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM GREEN DESIGN

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM STYLE

LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM STYLE

5 Reasons to Flip Your Math Class

Of all the subjects, math is probably my favorite to teach. But it is definitely not easy. By the time students are in fourth grade, there’s often a wide range of abilities. Last year, I had students who could barely add and subtract and others who were working well beyond grade level. Trying to design lessons that worked for them was a real challenge. If I moved too quickly through the lesson, several students would get lost. If I moved too slowly, others would get bored and start causing different problems.

Then I attended the Georgia Educational Technology Conference and heard some sessions about flipped teaching, and a lightbulb went off.

If you’re not already familiar with flipped teaching, the idea is that we need to “flip” the traditional way we teach — lesson at school, practice problems at home as homework. Instead, students should watch a short video lesson as homework to prepare for class, and then the majority of class time is spent working on practice and application while I’m there to guide them.

I did this pretty consistently for the second half of the year, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. There were so many advantages.

1. Students became more confident.

For some kids, math can be intimidating. Everyone works at different speeds. What may be an obvious concept for one kid may take multiple explanations for another. There’s lots of vocabulary and room for mistakes, and when you feel like other kids are getting it faster than you, your confidence suffers.

All of this went away when I flipped.

Students were watching the videos at home on their own. No one knew whether they needed to replay something a couple of times until they got it. No one knew that they had to pause the video for 5 minutes to try a problem that others would have solved in 30 seconds. They could all work at their own pace, and they came to class more confident and prepared for practice the following day. The attitude shift in my students this year was reason enough for me to continue flipping.

2. Parents were less stressed.

There have been so many times when I’ve heard parents complain about math or express their discomfort in helping their child because they weren’t taught math the way we teach it now. And I get that. I remember thinking in my math methods courses that I could have been great at math if someone had explained it to me better as a child rather than having me memorize algorithms.

Having the flipped model created allies from a lot of math-hating parents. Some would watch the videos along with their children and have those lightbulb moments where concepts and strategies would suddenly make sense. Others expressed a sense of relief that they didn’t have to worry about “undoing” the things we were doing in the classroom by just jumping to the standard algorithms. We were all more comfortable with the math.

3. I had more time to see what students could actually do.

While I always tried to keep my in-class mini-lessons short, there were days when they would drag on because some kids just weren’t getting it. By the time I felt confident they could try some problems on their own, we hardly had any time left. And by the time they got home to do it as homework, they’d forgotten what we’d spent the morning talking about, so they were back to square one.

Now that I’ve flipped, I only need 5-10 minutes maximum at the beginning of my math block to do anything whole group. I spend that time answering questions, clarifying any misconceptions, and checking the 1-2 practice problems that I typically include at the end of the video. The rest of my math block was then spent working with small groups, conferring with kids, and getting into richer practice and problem solving than I could ever fit in before.

I also didn’t have to worry about students getting the right answers only when their parents “helped” them. When it came time for assessments, I had a much better sense of where my students were at and what to expect from them because I was more deeply involved in their learning.

4. I didn’t have to worry when we had a sub. 

In the past, I would write off sub days as lost instructional time when it came to math. Now that I’ve flipped, that is no longer the case. I include a link to the video I’ve created in my sub plans, and I have the sub watch the video with the class again to start the lesson. Usually that gives the sub enough background knowledge to help with the learning task, and my students have enough scaffolding from my instruction that they can work through the practice. It made those lost days so much more productive.

This year, I will be on maternity leave for 12 weeks, so I’m nervous about what will happen with my kids while I’m gone. But I’m less nervous about the math because I already have videos made for most of those lessons from last year. My students will have continuity in math instruction because of it.

5. Students were more successful and could tackle bigger challenges.

Last year was my best year ever as far as student performance on end-of-year assessments and benchmarks. I think a big part of that can be attributed to the move toward a flipped model for math. My students had more time and confidence to master the fourth grade standards, and as a result, I was easily able to push them into bigger challenges. When I surveyed the students mid-year about the flipped model, their responses were overwhelmingly positive in support of it, and I knew it was something I need to continue in the years ahead.

Next Steps

This will be the first year that I use the flipped model for the whole year, so I will need to prepare more video lessons and give some thought to how I’ll transition my students (and their parents) toward this model. In the weeks ahead, I plan to share more about the tools I use to create flipped lessons and some troubleshooting tips for problems that might come up.

Now that I have some experience flipping, I’m going to go back and reread Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. Jon was one of the speakers I saw at GaETC, and he’s one of the founders of the flipped classroom movement. I read the book quickly as I started to flip, but I think there are more ideas to be pulled from it.

I’m also starting to think about other areas where I could flip instruction. One possibility might be some of the grammar, vocabulary, and word study components of my ELA block. I consistently struggle to fit everything in to that time, and flipping might be the answer. I’ve downloaded the book Flipping Your English Class to Reach All Learners: Strategies and Lesson Plans by Troy Cockrum, and I’m hoping that will give me some more inspiration.

Have you tried flipping any parts of your instruction? I’d love to hear more about your ideas and experiences in the comments!

The 2017 Extra Life 24-Hour Gaming Marathon, In Support of The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals [Post Updated All Weekend]

Wow, it’s that time again – time to try to play some games for a cause – in my case, I play as much as I can through the weekend for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation (as I was born and raised in the province of Alberta, Canada).

This year actually ‘sprung up’ on me, as I haven’t been feeling well these past few weeks… I have had a bit of a fever [38C/100F+]  the entire time and have been extra sore and slow (I say ‘extra’ as I myself have a condition, called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – which is basically an infection of the brain and spine that causes Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue symptoms (pain and tiredness, respectively) – a condition I have had for 12 years now [wow it’s been that long]). So, playing for this charity every year is special to me and something I have tried to do every since I heard of Extra Life back in 2015.

Image Link to The Extra Life main website, where you can see all of the other wonderful people participating in this event, many of them streaming their marathon Live on Twitch and other streaming sites! (Link opens in a new window)

Due to my own illness then, I cannot play 24 hours straight through, but I count my gaming hours Playing For The Kids™ over the entire weekend of the event (in this years’ case, Saturday November 4th and Sunday November 5th), hopefully tallying 24 hours in total.. (in the case that I am not ‘up to it’ for that long, I allow myself to count my wife’s gaming time, as she generously tries to play beside me and add hours, for a “Total Household Hours” amount). [I always hope that in the spirit of the event and the intention, that my dear readers and those at Extra Life find this acceptable]

As has occurred in past years, I do not have the ability/energy to set up and maintain a constant Stream of some sort yet (through Twitch, YouTube and other streaming services); but what I do is I share some details and Screenshots (and Videos if I can) of what I am able to play, here at The Blog, in an ongoing and updated post – one that I will be adding to as the weekend progresses (including Sunday Night), right here!

So, follow along with me as I Play For The Kids™ all weekend, updating this very post as I go – and if you wish to take part, you can Pledge/Donate directly to the Extra Life charity via the Logo/Image just below or through this link for 2017: https://www.extra-life.org/participant/247989 – and whether you pledge anything or not, feel free to just return to this posting for gameplay time Updates, Screenshots, some Video Clips from the weekend – and more!

See You In The Game!

Update, Saturday 12:30PM MST: Beginning The Marathon, with the initial post above and gathering snacks and drinks to start Playing For The Kids™!

Update, Saturday 7:30 PM MST: As usual with this event, I always try to play some good’ol Minecraft Hardcore Mode (you only get one life!), to see how far I can get during the marathon.

Usually, I don’t get too far and starting out this year was no exception. I spawned in a new Hardcore world – in a wintery biome which I found out later was “Cold Taiga” – which meant, although there were plenty of Trees for Wood to use, there were no seeds to find and plant right away for food, there were no large hills in sight (for easy access to Stone and Coal to cook any foods I might come across) except in the far distance – and as night fell, I died right away to a band of two skeletons and a zombie that came out from behind one of the many, many trees…. Wow what a harsh start!

I began another Hardcore world, hoping to spawn in a relatively easier biome – and I did… I quickly collected Seeds from the Grass around me and began a Garden to grow Wheat RIGHT AWAY, heh. I had to cull some of the many Pigs I found around me in order to eat, planning on replenishing their numbers later on. I then carved out a little Mud Hut in the hillside nearby and settled in for the night…

Updates on that World as I play more – but for now I have to stop and take another break. More to come!

Total Gameplay Time: ~2.0 hrs

Update, Sunday 10:30 AM MST: I played last night right up until I fell asleep, starting a “Just One Life™” character in Fallout 4 (where I stop playing and delete that character upon dying just once), and was popping into various games for short periods of time, like Marvel Heroes (which has Daily Login Rewards, with small ‘gifts’ every few days you enter the game – and a Free Hero available at the no doubt-difficult-to-get-to, Day 300) [Even if I do not have the energy to play for a while, I try to pop in to register a login, heh – to see how far I can go].

I also popped into The Elder Scrolls: Legends, a Virtual Collectible Card Game based on The Elder Scrolls series [a good game for slow-paced-yet-still-kinda-flashy-and-enjoyable gameplay that you can play against the CPU/AI only, if you desire to]. I also ran a few Benchmarks and did a few quick driving tests in Grand Theft Auto V, trying out some settings I saw in YouTube videos online (to see if I get the same framerate with the same hardware) – but I felt a bit weird at the concept of playing GTA games for this Event [shouldn’t I be playing games kids would play, or at least Family-Friendly games? lol], so I didn’t stay in Los Santos very long.
Today, I plan on playing as much as I can, continuing my Minecraft: Hardcore Mode world, and my Fallout 4 “Just One Life™” character, along with some Elder Scrolls Online gameplay, hoping to get up to 24 hours in Total. I’ll also post more Screenshots next Update. Here I go!
Total Gameplay Time: ~ 5.0 hrs


Update, Monday 9:30 AM MST: Well I played as much as I could… 
In Minecraft, I continued my Hardcore Mode world (actually Marathon 2017 World 2.0, as I died without even leaving the first Biome in the first one (above)), making a nice Garden along the shore of a River nearby…
When night fell upon the world, since I was out on a ‘walkabout’, looking around the Biome, I quickly dug into the nearest hill, making myself a small mudhut house to Craft and Cook in… I should have maybe stayed in it all night, but I thought I would get started on collecting more Food, by killing a few Spiders and using their silk to make String, crafting a Fishing Pole.. And what happened? Two Skeletons came out from behind a tree and as I ran back toward my little ‘second mud hut’, they cornered me and filled me full of arrows, as I weakly flailed my Rock Sword back and forth… I hope my ‘Deeds Will Be Remembered’ [hehe Diablo2]
To make myself feel better, I popped in an out of a few games for the next few hours… I tried out Need for Speed: Most Wanted, which seemed like an open-world racing game, with good graphics.
Playing that game reminded me of a ‘test’ I wanted to do (I love running Benchmarks and Tests, heh) with Grand Theft Auto Five (GTAV), where I saw a video of someone running it on High Settings, to test out the differences between how it performed on two different CPUs (Processors, referring to the ‘main engines’ of a computer). So I started up GTAV and ran the Benchmark (to see if I got similar results) and drove around the city a bit.
While the game looked good, I felt a little weird playing such a ‘mature’ game during a Marathon for children’s charities [lol shouldn’t I be playing ‘family friendly games’? or does it matter?], so I just took a few Screenshots (of course), and then left it for now, for something else.

The Beta for Paladins, a MOBA-slash-FPS game by the makers of Tribes:Ascend and Smite, was going on, so I popped into that game, going through the Training and playing for a while afterward.


Total Gameplay Time: ~ 10.0 hrs

Alas, just like before, I couldn’t quite make the 24 Hours on my own… My own illness [where I am sore a lot and get tired easily] keeps me from playing for very long at one time. However, as I stated earlier, what I like to do, is include the game playing time that My Better Half does alongside me, as part of a “Household Total”… If I include her generous contribution, the new total becomes:

Total Household Time: ~23.0 hrs


Haha – even with her inclusion, I did not ‘quite’ make the 24 Hours in total… But, as stated above, I hope that in the spirit of the Marathon and its’ intention – and mine – I hope that what did accrue would be acceptable… In fact; I do not think that ‘total game time’ is the main goal of this Marathon… This time is perhaps to literally ‘take time’, to think about those that are much more unfortunate than us, and in the case of this Charity, much younger than most of us… During this Day or Weekend, whichever it is, I think, we remember those out there, those that are in need. In this spirit/state-of-mind; I thank you Dear Reader, for following along in this small adventure. Whether you donated at all or not, I hope that you played a little bit of some game, took a little bit of time, to think about those that are in much more pain and need than most of us are. And I thank you for following me on this small journey. Take care, my unmet friend – and perhaps See You In The Game.

Deals And Sales – ‘Things Goin’ On This Weekend’ (Weekend of August 11th, 2017) [Notification]

Just a quick Notification of some things going on… Once in a while, I try to post about Sales going on somewhere – especially the ‘big’ ones, like Summer’s End or Christmas Sales. This weekend, there are a few ‘Free Weekends’ and Sales going on (that I saw so far) and thought I wanted to share them, just in case there were others interested in these games, heh. Here’s what I saw is Goin’ On This Weekend:


Guild Wars 2 Expansion (Path Of Fire) is Free To Try all weekend:

https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/get-ready-for-the-guild-wars-2-path-of-fire-preview-weekend/

GOG.com (formerly Good Old Games) is having a couple of Sales on games which include series like Master Of Orion, Warhammer 40K, Painkiller, Delta Force, Red Faction and at the same time having a sale on Strategy Games like Codename Panzers, Men of War, Hybrid Wars, Total Annihilation, Empire Earth, and more:

https://www.gog.com/promo/20170807_weekly_sale
and
https://www.gog.com/promo/20170811_special_promo_strategy_sale

Some other games, which are Free To Try all weekend via Steam, are:

For Honor, the medieval swordplay/battle game is Free To Try all weekend and selling for half-price
(for those that remember Die By The Sword, it looks like it may be similar to that, but in an ‘arena’ setting [sorry, but I haven’t been able to try it yet]):

http://store.steampowered.com/app/304390/FOR_HONOR/

Saints Row IV, from the crazy “each game is increasingly like GTA-on-drugs” open-world/action
series, is Free To Try all weekend and selling at a reduced price
[I haven’t tried it yet, but I am still playing the wacky Saints Row III once in a while and still getting a kick out of it]:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/206420/Saints_Row_IV/

Sorry I didn’t get to finishing this sooner, but the weekend isn’t over yet! Get out there and try these games out or grab something you want on sale – and maybe See You In The Game!

Edit:

I completely forgot one more I was going to post in here! 

GamersGate also has some games on Sale right now, including Borderlands (for five bucks!), the Mafia series, Bioshock series, Xcom series, and more:

https://www.gamersgate.com/offers

[Note: I am not affiliated with these game sites, nor do I receive any compensation for mentioning them here (the Links do not have any ‘affiliate tags’ or similar additions to them) – I am merely an enthusiastic gamer and like to share deals and other goings-on with other gamers like me. Enjoy!]

Game Recording with MPEG-4: using H.264/AVC in Programs such as Dxtory, Bandicam and MSI’s Afterburner (Text-Only, Long Version)


This article is a Text-Only version, showing how to use a few programs (one of them completely free) to utilize this efficient codec in game recording, using steps and settings that I personally found optimized performance and showing which ones slowed things down when recording. 
For a video example of how to set the x264/AVC codec recordings to be editable in
Sony’s Vegas or Adobe’s Premiere video editing applications, see my post about it here:
http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2013/06/and-more-how-to-record-with.html

The MPEG-4 video codec has been around for over a decade now. I remember recording TV shows to watch later on, on a system with an ATI All-In-Wonder videocard (back when videocards had only 8MB of VRAM!) and the joy of the changes I was seeing, going from compressing the shows in MPEG-2 format to MPEG-4 using either Quicktime or DivX (or it’s open-source competitor, XviD). Smaller file sizes and still decent quality? Awesome. Those were MPEG-4 Part 2 or ASP (Advanced Simple Profile) iterations of MPEG-4. Today, we are up to MPEG-4 Part 10 or AVC (Advanced Video Coding) and great times are to be had by all who record their video game adventures, as modern hardware and capturing apps allow not only for h.264/AVC to be used for video compression and archiving – it can also be used for small filesize ‘live’ game recordings and great retainment of detail, if desired.

Dxtory, Bandicam and MSI Afterburner all provide the ability to utilize the various codecs installed on your system to record with (others do as well, I am merely choosing these more popular game recording apps as examples). To record with MPEG-4/h.264/AVC, it is simply a matter of installing that codec on your computer [if it isn’t already], then choosing it inside of whichever game recording app you prefer. The codec’s interface (GUI, Graphical User Interface) will allow you to change whatever settings you wish – but these settings will be quite different from what you may be used to, if you have done any h.264/AVC video compression in the past. Why?

Because we are going to be balancing the settings – not just for retaining quality at a small file size (as you would like to when archiving a movie to keep on your computer) – but now also for recording speed. For instance, if we try to set things for high compression and attempt to keep detail at the same time (as we would for archiving a movie), it simply takes too long to process and compress the changes between frames ‘on-the-fly’ and save them into a file, when attempting to record game output. This would result in the game ‘lagging’ and dropping frames to try and keep up, as it falls behind dealing with analyzing and compressing and then writing the data, resulting in a video with ‘choppy’ playback as well. So, when recording our gameplay ‘live’, we must now consider the various settings and their affect on how fast we can put through the processing of frames and writing it to a file at the same time.

I will be addressing most of the settings in the h.264/AVC codec, but not all of them. I will be concerned mainly with the ones that will slow down processing, so that things do not take too long and fall behind and cause ‘lag’, both in the game and the resulting video file itself. This differs from compressing for archiving our own movies, because instead of being only concerned with Quality (setting everything on ‘high’ and letting it take as long as it needs), we must now balance Speed of the compression as well, being now more concerned with each of these settings and how they can possibly slow things down when recording the ‘live’ game rendering. As is the nature of live recording, we want it to easily and quickly process the frames and save them to a file. I will explain how to do all of this.

Recording with H.264/AVC

“x.264” is a free/open-source utilization of the h.264/AVC codec (the XiWave GNU GPL MPEG-4 Codec). It is normally a command-line driven executable [when you run it, you type things in, to get it to do things], so what we want for game recording with these programs, is a version with an ‘interface’ so that we can just tell our apps what to do with the mouse and buttons/sliders and it translates it into commands for the codec. All we would have to do is choose a few settings and checkboxes (what most people are used to – a nice, easy, graphical user interface).


Doing a search for ‘x264+windows’, there are a few places you can get the installer/setup program for x264 and Windows, here are the main ones:

This is the “Official” Open-Source Video For Windows version of the x264 codec (Red Logo) at the time of this writing:
http://sourceforge.net/projects/x264vfw/

This official codec is what is covered in the “Easymode” sections of this article


This is an “Unofficial” x264 Video For Windows Codec (Black Logo), at the time of this post, that allows for far more settings to be edited via checkboxes and pulldown menubars, but is more difficult to use (these two links are both the same thing):
http://www.digital-digest.com/software/x264_VFW_Codec.html
http://komisar.gin.by/index.html

This unofficial codec is what is covered in the “Hardmode” sections of this article


Basically, you can see that what we want is a “Video For Windows” version, which (thanks to all those great people that have worked on it over time!) has a nice, easy-to-use interface for picking the settings you want to use, without typing in a long line of commands every time. After installing the codec/interface into Windows, it’s just a matter of opening whatever game recording program you prefer and selecting it to use it.

Here’s how to select it for usage in these three game recording programs:

Recording with x264 and Bandicam

  • Once the codec is installed, run Bandicam and go to the Video tab and click on the Settings button
  • In here, under the Video category, next to Codec, click on the pull-down menu bar (with a little triangle at the end) and choose External Codec, which allows you to use other codecs installed in your system
  • Then, click on the three ellipsis (““) button and it will let you “Select external video codec”
  • Select the “x264vfw” H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec from the list and click on the Configure button
  • This is the x264vfw configuration interface and in here are all the settings we will talk about next…

Recording with x264 and Dxtory

  • Once everything is installed (Dxtory requires dotNET 4.0, a download link is on their main Download page), run Dxtory and click on the Movie settings button (which shows a little handy-cam with it’s lcd screen hanging out the side)
  • Under the Video Codec category, next to the word Codec, click the pull-down menu bar (with a little triangle at the end) and choose “x264vfw” H.264/MPEG-4 AVC Codec from the list and click on the little pen icon/button to the right, which opens the Configuration dialog box of the codec
  • This is the x264vfw configuration interface and in here are all the settings we will talk about next…

Recording with x264 and MSI Afterburner

  • Once the codec is installed, run MSI Afterburner and click on the Settings button at the bottom 
  • In here, go to the Video Capture tab and under the Video Capture Properties category, click on the pull-down menu bar (with a little triangle at the end) and choose “VFW compression”, which allows you to use the other codecs installed in your system
  • Then, click on the three ellipsis (““) button and under Compressor, click on the pull-down menu bar (with the little black triangle at the end) and choose “x264vfw” H.264/AVC codec from the list and then click on the Configure button to the right
  • This is the x264vfw configuration interface and in here are all the settings we will talk about next…
» Note:  To record with x264/h264/AVC and have it easily-importable and recognized properly in NLE’s (Non-Linear video Editing applications, such as Sony’s Vegas and Adobe’s Premiere lines of products [for example]) without having glitches or corruption or other problems, one setting for MPEG-4 codecs must be changed from the Default Setting right from the start. I created a video example of how to change this setting in Bandicam, Dxtory and MSI’s Afterburner and the post with that video can be found here at this blog:
http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2013/06/and-more-how-to-record-with.html
To understand some of the concepts and settings utilized by this codec (and helpful information to know for game recording and video compression in general), a quick word on Bitrate:

[This section is highlighted in green headings for navigation, to assist you whether you are re-reading this article or you feel you know a lot about bitrate in video editing and wish to skip it]

Bitrate (in Layman’s Terms)  /start

When talking about game recording, bitrate is an expression of the amount of data we are using to create the recorded file [literally, how many bits of information we are using]. It is usually expressed as how much information per second we are telling the codec to use, to represent the frames that are getting pushed through, and save them to our output video file.
The main thing to remember is that More Bitrate = Bigger Filesize

For example, if we record using a 1MB per second (1MB/s) setting, then after 2 minutes of recording (120s), our recorded file size will be 120MB. At that bitrate, if we recorded for one hour straight (3600 seconds), our recorded file size will be 3600MB (3.6GB).
If we record using a larger amount, let’s say 2MB per second (2MB/s), then after 2 minutes of recording (120s), our recorded file size will be 240MB. At that bitrate, if we recorded for one hour straight (3600 seconds), our recorded file size will be 7200MB (7.2GB).
It’s that simple. The more bitrate we use, the bigger the recorded file will be. 

For those used to video compression and editing, or even general users of multimedia, you may be more familiar with data rates in the realm of:

MP3 (MPEG-3 audio) song bitrates such as: 128kbps, 192kbps, 320kbps
PSP (PlayStation Portable) video bitrates such as: 768kbps, 1500kbps
DVD (MPEG-2) bitrates such as: 8000kbps, 9800kbps
Blu-Ray/HD bitrates such as: 16000kbps, 25000kbps, 50000kbps

All of these are usually expressed as Megabits/Kilobits/bits over time (in seconds), hence the “ps” at the end.
eg. 16 Mbps = 16,000 kbps = 16,000,000 bps (bits per second)

~bits (lower-case ‘b’) and Bytes (upper-case ‘B’) are different~

There are 8 bits (lower-case ‘b’) in 1 Byte (upper-case ‘B’)
8 bits in 1 Byte
8000 bits = 8 kilobits (‘kilo’, which is 1000 Bytes) = 1 KiloByte
8000 kilobits = 8 megabits (‘mega’, which is 1000 KiloBytes) = 1 MegaByte 

For example, if you were rendering out a movie to upload to YouTube and you chose an output bitrate of “8000 kbps” in your editing/compression application, that is 8 Mbps (bits, lower-case ‘b’), which means 8 Megabits per second. Converting that into Bytes (upper-case ‘B’), means that video will be running at 1 MBps, which is 1 MegaByte per second (upper-case ‘b’). 

At that bitrate (1MB/s), it is the same bitrate as our example above [just under where it says “More Bitrate = Bigger Filesize”] and it will take up roughly 60MB of space on your hard drive every minute of recording. Thus is the interaction between Bitrate and File Size and how to convert between the two. The higher the bitrate setting used, the bigger the output file size will be (the recording). 

There is one other formula to remember: More Bitrate = Better Quality. This formula applies to almost everything digital: video (DVD/BluRay), audio (MP3/MP4), pictures (PNG/JPG), any multimedia that is digital. If you allow/use more bitrate, the picture/music/video is represented better [or to be more precise, closer to the original input] because there are literally more bits used to create the picture/sound/etc.

Quick example – think of a square that is divided up into 9 sections. Now pretend it is trying to ‘represent’ a painting, any painting you can think of. With only 9 blocks of data available (each one can only be a certain color), then it would look like nothing but some colored blocks and barely look like the painting at all. Now, imagine a square divided up into 80 sections. Pretend it is trying to represent the same painting. Even though it will be ‘blocky’ still, if each section can be only one color, it will still look ‘more like the original’ than the 9-sectioned block, right? 

That’s the interaction of bitrate and quality.

Which means, for digital compression, it is essentially a ‘balancing act’ between Quality and File Size, with Bitrate being the tool to measure with. Do you want a high-quality output? Then turn up the bitrate and you’ll end up with a large file size. Do you want a small file size? Then lower the bitrate and you’ll get lower quality as well. That’s the essence of bitrate, in a nutshell.

Bitrate (in Layman’s Terms)  /end



The x264 Interface and Configuration in “Easymode”
(The Official interface with red x264 logo)

With the official version of the interface for using the x264 codec (“x264vfw”), there is only one screen, with pulldown bars to adjust most settings.
The Basic Section

To start with, under the Basic category, there is a Preset setting. This is a very handy setting, which makes many of the more obscure/hidden choices within this codec (there are dozens, behind the scenes) easy to configure. By clicking on the question mark near the bottom right corner (“?”), you can see the intimate details of the different Profiles and Presets that can be selected in these pull-down menu bars within this first “Basic” section of the interface.

For game recording, we are more concerned with speed. We don’t want the codec to break out it’s magnifying glass and scrutinize each frame coming through in strict detail, because that would cause it to slow down, which will cause it to ‘lag’ behind, not only in the game, but in the recorded file itself as well (“choppy-ness”). 
So, the first thing to do, when using this codec for ‘live’ game recording, is to change the Preset setting from it’s original default of Medium to “Ultrafast“. This is the fastest option for this setting.
The other options, such as Superfast, can also be used, but be aware that the more you go down the selections available, the more options are being ‘turned on’ behind-the-scenes with this codec, and while some of them do help apparent quality of the video, they are geared more towards a slow, steady, long-term compression session (like when you might archive a video/movie) with high-quality settings and slow, scrutinizing analysis of the frames. While not a bad thing, for game recording, we don’t want that. We want it to save what we are seeing on the screen fast, to a file. We want speed. Feel free to take a look and learn about the various options the other Presets turn on [many of them are covered in this article further down], but for optimal speed, Ultrafast is the setting to use.
The next pull-down set of options to choose from is Tuning. These are also a set of pre-selected options that, depending on which one you choose here, will enable or disable certain functions in the codec. These choices are helpful is easily fine-tuning the codec to compress a movie/video/clip of each certain type, as it enables options in the background that will help with efficient, detail-oriented compression of that certain type of material. 
For game recording, again we are more concerned with speed. These options, while helpful in a slow, ‘leave-it-overnight’ compression session of clips or movies of ours we want to save; for live game recording we want to leave it at it’s default setting of “None“, so that the codec keeps it’s magnifying glass put away and doesn’t spend any extra time analyzing the frames coming through.
There are two checkboxes below these first two pull-down menus and they are titled “Fast Decode” and “Zero Latency“:
Fast Decode turns off a few options [behind the scenes] that help by reducing the processing ‘load’ of the video stream, such as CABAC and Deblocking [these are explained in more detail further within this article]. These are options that help keep some quality (especially at lower bitrates), but as the name proclaims [“Fast”], for optimal speed of recording we want this option “Checked“, to enable it (which will turn off these extra options for now).
Zero Latency also turns off a few options behind the scenes, ones that increase compression time, such as B-frames [explained later in this post] and how far to ‘look ahead’ at frames coming in, for analysis. Since we want speed for recording our game footage and less analysis [remember, more analysis slows things down], we want this option “Checked” to turn off the extra options that are ‘behind-the-scenes’ with this setting.

The rest of the settings in this Basic section of the interface need not be adjusted for game recording, but a good Wikipedia page, talking about the various Profiles and Levels and their capabilities can be found here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.264/MPEG-4_AVC

The Rate Control Section

All of the below paragraphs between these red lines of text is the same for both the Official and the Unofficial versions of the x264vfw interface and is only duplicated for ease of reading their respective sections

The main thing in here (and really the only thing to adjust for game recording in this tab) is the longest bar right in the middle, the main datarate control and compression decision to make, is all in that one bar. I cannot even make a suggestion on what to use [ok, I can actually], since it will partially depend on what type of game you are recording, your hardware, what kind of compression you are looking for and many other factors. I will attempt to simplify it however and give a suggestion at the end. (More importantly for game recording, there is one choice that is slightly faster than all the others).

To begin, since we are going to be using x264 for game recording, we cannot use the Leeloo Dallas Multipass Options. Multiple passes (usually 2 or 3) when compressing/archiving video can greatly increase quality, but that means 2-3 times the analysis, double-checking and then further compression by the codec. Literally processing every frame twice (for 2-passes for example). That’s great when we want to keep a movie in a small, ‘as-good/high-as-we-can-get’ quality, forever. When recording games however, we want [one guess] speed. We can only accept “Single pass” as our option, because we just want the codec to see what frames are coming in, take a quick glance, and compress them into our output video file. One pass.
Starting with ABR (Average BitRate), the “bitrate-based” setting, this setting allows you to punch in the average bitrate you want to record at and it attempts to stick with it (it will go lower, but try to never go higher than what you set here). This setting basically tells the codec, “Keep within this bitrate, I don’t care if the quality goes down”, because as the bitrate ceiling is reached, it will quickly degrade in quality, as more/high movement occurs on the screen/frame. It is good for keeping within a certain file size, if that is your desire, but it also causes a bit of ‘lag’ and is not seemingly optimized for ‘live’ capturing.
CQP (Constant Quantizer Parameter) is a setting where you are basically telling the codec, “Keep this level of Quality”, and it will do it’s best to keep that level of quality for all frames/scenes. However, it will spend more time (and bitrate) on fast-motion/high-action scenes. This is good if you want to keep a movie visible clearly when a lot of things are going on, but it will also result in the higher usage of bitrate, which means larger file sizes. This may sound like a good thing for game recording (and for quality, it is), but the time spent analyzing the faster-motion scenes means that it is actually slowing down (in terms of the codec breaking out it’s magnifying glass and scrutinizing the frames that are passing by), which results in ‘lag’, both in the game and in the recorded video file itself (“choppiness” on playback).
Lossless should attempt to lose no quality, processing only very little and passing all of that nice detail directly to the recorded video output. While sounding good in theory, in practice the utilization of ‘lossless’ in x264 must be geared towards slow, analyzed video compression and not ‘as fast as we can get to avoid lag’ “live” game recording, because the result of this setting [at this time] is actually a lossy, compressed (it does not seem to go far beyond 100,000kbps), low bitrate (compared to ‘true loss-less compression’ which is much higher) capture. It does look decent, but it is also very demanding on the system and causes a large framerate drop for the level of detail that should be coming out of it [and doesn’t]. This codec does not seem to be optimized for lossless recording at this time and I do not suggest using the Lossless setting here.
CRF (Constant Rate Factor) is sort of a combination of ABR and CQP. At any given rate factor, a certain bitrate is maintained, and when the motion on the screen goes very high and the bitrate gets too high to represent what is occurring in the frame (or hits the ‘ceiling’ bitrate that it is restricted to, which can be set), then the quality begins to suffer, as the codec ramps quality down and compresses the fast-moving (“not as easy for the human eye to see”) material, until things settle down on the screen and there is slower motion (such as a person walking). Then the quality ramps back up (the bitrate staying with the specified parameters) to keep the apparent quality high to the human eye. This is how CRF is supposed to work, and it seems to do a good job of that. 
Game recording with CRF isn’t as cut-and-dry as slow, long-term video compression/archiving with CRF, where it has time to figure out how to compress the fast/blurry scenes and make the slower/clearer scenes look better and change the bitrate/quantization respectively. Quantization can be thought of as ‘apparent spoilage’ of the material, where a certain amount isn’t even noticeable to most humans, and in some fast-moving-high-action scenes, it is even preferable to some eyes. Low bitrate and/or high quantization would both result in loss of detail and ‘blurring’ or ‘smoothing’ of video most of the time and can result in compression artifacts such as Macroblocks and Gibbs Effects (“mosquito noise”), as the codec tries to decide ‘what to keep’ and ‘what to lose’ (lossy compression). With CRF, it usually will try to keep a slow-moving scene (someone walking, people talking) detailed, without much quantizing (‘spoilage’), so that it looks good. It will take high-motion (fast action, fast changing) scenes and quantize them more (smoothing, blurring, ‘spoiling’) since the human eye won’t notice it as much on fast-motion, already-slightly-blurred changes on the screen.
To summarize the differences between the types of data rate controls (the choices in this pulldown bar):
CQP is like stating, “Keep this quality, I don’t care how big the bitrate/file gets” and ABR is like stating, “Keep this bitrate/filesize, I don’t care how crappy you have to make the video look to stay within that”, CRF is more like stating, “Try to keep this bitrate, but change it a little as you need (within a certain amount) and make the video look slightly crappy if you need to as well, but don’t let either one get too out of wack”. As CRF seemed to also be the one with the least amount of effect of the system in the form of ‘lag’ [only slightly less than the other ones in testing], being so highly configurable (compared to the other choices, where you can state a bitrate to stay within and it adjusts itself), I suggest using CRF for your x264/AVC game capturing.

Some Data / Bitrates seen with CRF

Since it looks like we are going to be sticking with CRF as our main datarate control factor [it performs slightly better than the other choices in tests], here’s an example of some bitrates that can result from using it (in kilobits per second):

Recorded game: Hitman: Absolution Benchmark [grainy, panning, high and low motion areas]
Recorded codec: H.264/AVC (MPEG-4 Part 10) using the x264vfw interface
Recorded settings [some]: No Deblocking, No Max Bitrate, No CABAC, adjusting only CRF

CRF 51  ~1200 kbps (lowest possible quality setting for CRF)
CRF 42  ~1600 kbps
CRF 32  ~6000 kbps
CRF 29  ~8500 kbps
CRF 26  ~14000 kbps
CRF 23  ~22000 kbps (codec default setting for CRF)
CRF 22  ~23000 kbps
CRF 21  ~32000 kbps
CRF 18  ~45000 kbps
CRF 15  ~64000 kbps
CRF 13  ~79000 kbps
CRF 10  ~101,000 kbps
CRF 5    ~119,000 kbps
CRF 1    ~119,000 kbps (highest possible quality setting for CRF)

As you can see, the higher the CRF, the lower the bitrate, so the lower the recorded file size will be (but also the lower the apparent quality). If you desire a higher-quality recording, then a lower CRF is what you want (even with a very low CRF, the bitrate is nowhere near as high as say, a FRAPS or YV12 recording (which can both easily be over 500,000 kbps), but that is the nature of the codec as it tries to slightly compress everything that passes through it.

It can also be seen, that is it is not a strict/hard-and-fast rule of evenly-spaced steps, when it comes to the CRF setting and Bitrate. It cannot be easily calculated that “two steps up in CRF equals this much more bitrate”. That is partially the nature of the compression and partially what occurs using CRF as a datarate control. When there is more motion on the screen and as it changes, the datarate will change as well, to try to keep within certain bitrate/quality boundaries and still accurately represent what is occurring on the screen/in the frames. With almost any form of compression/codec, only if the recording was using a completely fixed bitrate, or recording a static picture/view, would it be easy to calculate the adjustments required for a certain bitrate change. It is built into the codecs to adjust themselves as needed.

What CRF setting to use

So, what CRF setting to use? The general rule is: the lower the CRF number, the more bitrate/quality you are allowing it to use, but the bigger the recorded file size will be.

The choice is somewhat objective, as CRF18 may look good to me to record a first-person-shooter game with (the default is CRF23), but you may not like how it looks and want to use CRF10 to keep more details that you want to see.
Someone may not like the compression artifacts they can see when recording Minecraft using CRF18 and want to turn it up to CRF15 so that it is crisper, with less ‘mosquito noise’ around the edges or corruption that they can see; but you may think it looks good enough at the default of CRF23 and leave it there like someone else may do. You see?
Those are two very different types of video/games mind you, one is dark and grainy and the other is smooth, with hard edges, like animation; but you get the point. It can vary, not only person to person, but also game to game. A few short tests is all it will take however, and you quickly will find a CRF setting that you are happy to record with. You’ll find your own balance between, what will essentially be, these considerations:

The higher the bitrate (lower CRF number) the higher the quality and file size will be
The lower the bitrate (higher CRF number) the lower the quality and file size will be

You will eventually decide, with just a couple tests, what is ‘good enough’ quality for your eyes/uploading, and what CRF to use on that game (remember the ‘balancing act’ of bitrate vs quality mentioned at the beginning?). You will also find that the quality recorded isn’t even kept, after compressing the final/edited video to upload at a video sharing site somewhere.

All of the above paragraphs between these red lines of text is the same for both the Official and the Unofficial versions of the x264vfw interface and is only duplicated for ease of reading their respective sections

That’s about it for the nice-and-easy one-panel official graphical interface for the x264vfw H.264/AVC codec. Just a few small changes and a decision of what quality/bitrate you would like to use and it is all ready  for you to record with whatever game recording program you prefer. Have fun with it!

What follows below, is the unofficial, more detailed, three-tabbed version of the x264vfw H.264/AVC codec interface. If this version is not installed on your system, or you do not care to use the more complicated version (you definitely don’t have to), then please skip down to the section called 
“Slash-whew-sweating-emoticon”. No version is better than the other, by the way, they both utilize the same codec, one just gives you more options to set [and I happened to install it by accident when learning about recording with the x264 codec in the beginning], that’s all.

The x264 Interface and Configuration in “Hardmode”
(The Unofficial interface with black x264 logo)

There are three main tabs in this version of the x264 Video For Windows interface: 
Main
Analysis and Encoding
Rate Control and Other
Each Tab has many different settings. We will talk about most of them – but not all of them – we are mainly concerned with the ones that will affect game capturing. I am going to be going through the Tabs in reverse order. This will help to explain the concepts in a more logical order [believe it or not].

Rate Control & Other Tab

In the ‘Rate Control and Other’ Tab, our main attention need only be on the VBV bitrate/buffer settings in the first Rate Control area. The other settings can be tweaked, but this need be the only one to change – when concerned only with game capturing – as it can dictate the final output filesize of our recording. 
Why all that math and talk about bitrate above? Because of the very first setting we are going to cover, part of the Rate Control section:

The very first setting in this third tab of the x264vfw interface is something called “VBV max bitrate” and it is expressed in “kbit/s”. Yay, we just learned about that! It means that the value typed in here will be accepted as “kilobits per second”.

What does the “VBV” mean? It stands for “Video Buffering Verifier” and this setting will let us state the overall maximum bitrate we want to restrict the video recording to be, so that it does not go over it. 
Why would we want to do that? Remember that the amount of bitrate (per second) that we are using to record with affects the output video file size. If it is a large amount, the file size will be bigger. If we wanted to restrict the recorded output file size and keep it smaller, we could put an amount in here and it will do it’s best to keep within that amount, allowing us to control how much bitrate it uses to record with (and thus control how big the game recording output will be).
So, to use our example just above, if we wanted to restrict the bitrate of the game recording output to be only 1MB/s (1 MegaBytes per second), what do we do? 
That’s right, we convert it to lower-case (small-‘b’) bits, first:
We want 1 MegaByte per second of a bitrate
1 MegaByte is 1000 KiloBytes
since 1 Byte = 8 bits
then 1000 KiloBytes = 8000 kilobits
so to restrict the maximum bitrate allowed for our capture to 1MB/s (taking up 60MB of drive space per minute of recording) we would put “8000” in the ‘VBV max bitrate’ box.
This box then, gives some control over how much diskspace you want to devote to the game recording file output. If you do not want to restrict the bitrate, do not put anything in these first two boxes on this third tab. 
If you do want to set a restriction here on the bitrate, set a “buffer size” as well (the box just below the first one). This ‘buffer size’ gives a sliding-window-view of how much the codec will keep track of what is going through and ‘watch’ to make sure that it stays below the amount in the box above (the ‘max bitrate’ box). It is used more for compressing for portable devices (which have less RAM and are not able to buffer/keep track of a large amount at a time and therefore must have a restricted amount set here).  
For our purposes – game recording – remember that we must be more concerned with speed (to reduce lag), so in this box, we cannot put a very large amount. Why? Because the larger the buffer, the more that the codec will try to ‘store up’ in RAM, in order to ‘watch it’ (process it) and keep track of how big the bitrate gets, in order to keep our restriction of the ‘max bitrate’ box on it. So, a smaller amount such as “2000” up to maybe “4000” in this ‘buffer size’ box is a good amount. The overall buffer size also allows room for the video to ‘go over slightly and come back down to within’ the amount we set, but the larger the amount is, the more data will be held behind for processing that will be done on the game recording and the slower everything will get – and we don’t want that – we want as close to ‘Lag Free’ recording as we can get. A “0” then, would be the optimal amount to put in here, when speed is a concern; but then we would not be able to set a maximum bitrate… more on this later in the article…
That’s all we will adjust on the Rate Control & Other tab.
Analysis & Encoding Tab
Here’s where we will do the most adjusting, as these settings in here are the ones with the most impact on speed and game recording.
In the Analysis section, the first few adjustments are checkboxes concerning Partitions. Partitions are exactly what they sound like: it is how much the codec will divide up the screen, into sections, so that it can analyze each section and look at what is changing, decide how to compress it, how much to compress it, and so on. For game recording, remember we are more concerned with speed, than messing with how the codec is going to scrutinize the screen, so we are going to uncheck everything in the Partitions sections. Really. We are also going to uncheck the Adaptive DCT setting (which will deselect/lock out/grey out some of the checkboxes for us).
For game recording, we are going to leave a checkmark in the “Fast P-skip” setting.

Frame Types (in Layman’s Terms)  /start

There are three main types of frames in video encoding:
I-type frames
P-type frames
B-type frames

I-frames are ‘Intra-coded Frames’, sometimes called Information Frames, because they hold the most information in a ‘group of frames’ (which is what makes up a video) and therefore I-frames take up the most space (as far as the amount of space it will take up on your hard drive). They also look the best as well, as they usually use a higher bitrate (which is why they take up the more space). They are utilized by the codec to indicate a large change in what is going on in the video/on the screen, like a sort of ‘reset’. They can usually be identified by the screen being ‘cleared up’ of blocks/glitches from video compression, as the compressed video is played back. 

For instance, if you are running down a dark hallway and turn a corner and there is an explosion, in order to more accurately represent that large change in color and motion in the game recording, the codec will most likely decide to insert at least one I-frame and use a larger amount of data to keep more detail as it tries to represent all of the huge changes going on, on the screen and in the frames.

I-frames also serve some other purposes: the ‘intra-coded’ means that they are not dependent on other frames around it in the video  [which is a collection of frames], as they hold all the information needed to represent the frame all within itself [remember ‘inter-murals’ in school involved other schools and ‘intra-murals’ was contained all within your own school, this is the same thing]. 

They also are usually used as Keyframes. Since I-frames contain all the data need to represent the entire frame, on it’s own, video applications can use it as a ‘starting point’ or ‘reference point’ (“keying off of it”) and allow for more compatible cutting/editing on them and use them to start ‘seeking’ from, when editing a video. The two main things to remember about I-frames/Keyframes [the same thing] is that (1) I-frames can stand alone all by themselves, as they have all the information needed to display an image/frame, and (2) I-frames allow video editing programs [like Sony’s VegasVideo/MovieStudio/Pro and Adobe’s Premiere/Pro] to ‘reset’ and show you where you are starting to edit from – if there are a large number of frames between these I-frames (“keyframes”), it will take longer for the program to read between all of them and then show/allow you to start editing from where you have selected in the video editing program (it will take longer overall to edit by hand as the program starts and stops and you have to wait while editing).  

MJPEG game recordings are made up entirely of I-frames, as every frame in the captured video is it’s own JPEG compressed picture and it is the most editing-friendly and compatible codec to capture with, no matter what game capturing program you use. In fact, most video editors can read MJPEG without installing any other codecs on your system 

P-frames are called ‘Predicted Frames’. They hold far less information in a group of frames (video) and take up far less space. They actually only hold the differences from the Previous I-frame, that is, they only keep track of the changes on the screen/what has changed on the screen since the last I-frame, which is why they are far smaller than I-frames. 

For instance, if you are playing a character in a game and you are just standing at the mailbox reading an in-game message, there isn’t much changing on the screen at all. Perhaps on the side of the mail window, there is only someone running by and that is all that is happening on the screen, nothing else is moving at all. P-frames will only keep track of the movement that person running by and not keep track of the mail message or anything else going on in the frame (things that aren’t moving) and it will save only those changes to the game recorded file as P-frames. Hence, they can indeed take up a much smaller amount of space in a game recording, since they are only recording the things that are changing on the screen.

B-frames are ‘Bi-directional Frames’ (called ‘Bi-Predictive Frames’). They hold even less information than P-frames, as they are only keeping track of the differences between any frame before or after itself (even using P-frames that are around it and not needing an entire I-frame to start from). This means they are only only keeping track of very small changes (only one frame ahead or behind) and can therefore be extremely small and take up very little space in a video file. B-frames are one of the reasons why we can archive/compress movies in such small file sizes – only the differences of what is going on, on the screen/in the frames, is being kept track of. Both P and B frames help to save a ton of space when it comes to video compression.

Frame Types (in Layman’s Terms)  /end

Why all that talk about the different types of frames in a group of frames (video)? Because now we can easily understand the next few settings in the configuration window. 
Fast P-skip is a setting that allows the codec to look at P-frames and decide if there are enough changes to analyze it further, or ‘skip’ over them and just process them as they are. This is decided on by the codec when it looks at some other settings on this tab (such as the “ME” settings) but for the most part, it helps speed – our main concern with game recording – more than it helps things to ‘look good’, so we will leave a checkmark in it, as we briefly stated above.
Max frame refs and Mixed refs are talking about Reference Frames and how many to use in a group of pictures/frames. When encoding, a codec can use frames in front (P-frames) or in front and behind (B-frames) of the current frame it is working with, to keep tracks of what has changed between frames. When encoding for movies, we want as many as possible (or as many as the codec decides to put in) in order have things keep a lot of detail wherever it is needed, especially for scene changes; but for game recording, we want things to run faster (so that the game capture does not lag the game or cause lag within the recorded file (“choppy-ness” in playback), so we actually want the codec to use as little number of Reference Frames as possible.
Remember, every time the codec has to ‘think’ or analyze the frames more, it will slow down to break out it’s magnifying glass and scrutinize, so what we want for this setting is the lowest (one) Reference Frame (put a “1” in the Max frame refs box) so it doesn’t have to do much more work than just looking quickly one frame ahead or behind, when when figuring out what has changed. 
Mixed reference frames allow the codec to compress frames based on changes in frames that are also being referenced by other frames [if you can follow that]. Again, the codec is going to have to slow down and take a look, and for game recording, we want things to stay lean and mean (fast), so uncheck this bad boy (if you make the Max frame refs a “1”, it will be disabled anyway, since it does not have enough frames to deal with to look around at them anyway).
The next few settings down that all say “ME” refer to Motion Estimation. This is the process of keeping track of where things are moving on the screen and how to deal with compressing the changes it is keeping track of. For game recording, we want the codec to analyze as little as possible (so it doesn’t lag behind what is going on, on the screen) so we must choose the lowest settings for all of the “ME” options. 
That means “Diamond” analysis as the ME algorithm (pulldown menu choice), an ME range of the smallest we can choose from (“4”) and the lowest amount of Subpixel ME refinement we can have (“0” or no subpixel refinement). Remember, we want the codec to just save what is happening on the screen and analyze as little as possible, so it doesn’t fall behind.
With the choices above, Chroma ME and the Psycho-visual Rate Distortion Optimization strength will be locked out/not applicable, which is good for game capturing, as it scrutinizes the frames that are coming from the game even less.
The next couple settings, in the middle column of the tab, that say GOP in them, are talking about the size of the Group Of Pictures we want in our capture. If you can recall the things we have already said about how a codec decides to compress frames, it looks to frames ahead and behind at times, looking at the differences between them, and then decides how to compress the frames based on what it finds (and the settings we set). For movie compression, we want a large number, so that the codec mainly keeps track of the differences only between frames, as much as it can, and a large GOP size allows it a lot of ‘room to move’ and look around. For game capturing, we don’t want it to be quite as big, as the more frames on it’s plate it has to deal with, the more it will slow down and take time to decide what to do with them. 

There is also a chance that some video editing applications will not like the large (or any) Groups Of Pictures and may see the video stream as corrupted or give wierd artifacts/effects when it plays it back. This is one reason why using MJPEG as a game recording codec is suggested often, as it’s built-in GOP is “1”, as evey frame is it’s own self-contained ‘group’ and no editing app has to mess with it or over-analyze it. It is the most compatible, but you can use any codec you wish, but you may have to change the codec’s Keyframes or GOP to “1” for compatibility [more on this in future articles!]


Hence, we will set a nice low number [I personally used “50” around the time of this post]. Be aware that if the number is a multiple of the framerate you are recording in, Videophiles may notice the screen ‘shifting’ or having other odd effects ‘in time with’ the framerate (eg. if recording at 60fps and the GOP size is 60, some people notice the screen ‘correcting’ or ‘shifting’ or ‘flickering’ every second, as it ends the group or frames and starts a new one every second).
You can use “1”, which will make the codec act like MJPEG in a way, but then the codec will not have any room to analyze/compare/compress anything, and the resulting file will require much more bitrate to keep detail (to accurately represent what is going on in each frame)… more on that later in this article…
Weighted P-frames and Max consecutive B-frames is yet more analysis for the codec to do (especially B-frames, which remember, is a frame that ‘looks both ways’ for changes to frames in front and behind it, therefore can slow down recording a lot). For game capturing, we gots’ta keep setting things for speed and not letting the codec analyze too much. Change the Weighted P-frames to “None” (via a pull down bar) and the B-frames to “0” if they aren’t already. This is effectively telling the codec “you ain’t got time fo’ B-framez” so the rest of the settings that say “B-frames” should be locked/greyed out after that.
[In tests, enabling B-frames would actually crash the x264vfw app]
Under the Encoding section, the last column of this tab, the first section has to do with Deblocking
Deblocking is a way to try and ‘hide’ areas where the codec has cut out detail or ‘let go of data’ (lossy) in attempts to conform to the other settings in the codec and/or compress the frames highly. I’m sure almost everyone has seen Compression Artifacts like macroblocks or Gibbs Effects (mosquito noise) in high/over-compressed video and video streams. It’s not very pretty and turning on the Deblocking filter is one way of masking these artifacts, so that the video overall looks nicer to the human eye. 
The problem with Deblocking is that the codec will smooth things out, when trying to hide artifacts (especially ones that occur with lower bitrates/quality). It can be forced to keep detail with negative values (useful for movies/games with film grain), but overall it still takes more compression time to use, as the codec stops and analyzes the frames, looking for what to Deblock. So, for game recording for the most part, for optimum speed, Deblocking should be disabled, that is, “No Checkmark” in the box for In-loop deblocking filter (which will disable the two Deblocking settings below it).

[In my own trials/experiments, I found that a low amount of deblocking (as in “1”) for these two recording settings is acceptable and helps to hide some otherwise icky-looking compression effects that occur at lower bitrates (bitrate control is covered more in the next section), but for optimum speed (it is not needed at higher bitrates anyway) and especially for older/less powerful systems, turning deblocking off will always speed things up.]
CABAC is extra analysis that can really make a difference in compressing video. Some mobile players cannot even use it though, as it requires more processing power. The optimal setting for this, as it is extra analysis/processing being done – for game recording – would be “Off” (unchecked).

 [I have successfully done many recordings with CABAC on, as it seems to have only a slight effect on recording ‘lag’ on my system; but for optimum speed/less lag when recording (and at a slight loss for keeping some quality), it should be disabled.. for speed. ]

The only other thing to adjust in this tab, when game recording, is the Trellis setting. Trellis is a way of analyzing and attempting to keep certain detail when compressing, especially at lower bitrates, but as many times already mentioned, we want speed for game recording, so set the Trellis analysis to “Off” (via a pulldown bar). 

Main Tab

All of the below paragraphs between these red lines of text is the same for both the Official and the Unofficial versions of the x264vfw interface and is only duplicated for ease of reading their respective sections

The main thing in here (and really the only thing to adjust for game recording in this tab) is the longest bar right in the middle, the main datarate control and compression decision make, is all in that one bar. I cannot even make a suggestion on what to use [ok, I can actually], since it will partially depend on what type of game you are recording, your hardware, what kind of compression you are looking for and many other factors. I will attempt to simplify it however and give a suggestion at the end. (More importantly for game recording, there is one choice that is slightly faster than all the others).

To begin, since we are going to be using x264 for game recording, we cannot use the Leeloo Dallas Multipass Options. Multiple passes (usually 2 or 3) when compressing/archiving video can greatly increase quality, but that means twice the analysis, double-checking and then further compression by the codec. Literally processing every frame twice (for 2-passes). That’s great when we want to keep a movie in a small, ‘as-good/high-as-we-can-get’ quality, forever. When recording games however, we want [one guess] speed [I just realized this whole article can be it’s own drinking game]. We can only accept “Single pass” as our option, because we just want the codec to see what frames are coming in, take a quick glance, and compress them into our output video file. One pass.
Starting with ABR (Average BitRate), the “bitrate-based” setting, this setting allows you to punch in the average bitrate you want to record at and it attempts to stick with it (it will go lower, but try to never go higher than what you set here). This setting basically tells the codec, “Keep within this bitrate, I don’t care if the quality goes down”, because as the bitrate ceiling is reached, it will quickly degrade in quality, as more/high movement occurs on the screen/frame. It is good for keeping within a certain file size, if that is your desire, but it also causes a bit of ‘lag’ and is not seemingly optimized for ‘live’ capturing.
CQP (Constant Quantizer Parameter) is a setting where you are basically telling the codec, “Keep this level of Quality”, and it will do it’s best to keep that level of quality for all frames/scenes. However, it will spend more time (and bitrate) on fast-motion/high-action scenes. This is good if you want to keep a movie visible clearly when a lot of things are going on [I hate watching a low-quality video stream online and it goes absolutely-stupid blurry at high-motion scenes just because there are many things happening on the screen], but it will also result in the higher usage of bitrate, which means larger file sizes. This may sound like a good thing for game recording (and for quality, it is), but the time spend analyzing the faster-motion scenes means that it is actually slowing down (in terms of the codec breaking out it’s magnifying glass and scrutinizing the frames that are passing by), which results in ‘lag’, both in the game and in the recorded video file itself (“choppiness” on playback).
Lossless should attempt to lose no quality, processing only very little and passing all of that nice detail directly to the recorded video output. While sounding good in theory, in practice the utilization of ‘lossless’ in x264 must be geared towards slow, analyzed video compression and not ‘as fast as we can get to avoid lag’ “live” game recording. The result is actually a lossy, compressed (it does not seem to go far beyond 100,000kbps), low bitrate (compared to ‘true loss-less compression’) capture. It does look decent, but it is also very demanding on the system and causes a large framerate drop for the level of detail that should be coming out of it (and doesn’t). This codec does not seem to be optimized for lossless recording at this time and I do not suggest using the Lossless setting here.
CRF (Constant Rate Factor) is sort of a combination of ABR and CQP. At any given rate factor, a certain bitrate is maintained, and when the motion on the screen goes very high and the bitrate gets too high to represent what is occurring in the frame (or hits the ‘ceiling’ bitrate that it is restricted to, which can be set), then the quality begins to suffer, as the codec ramps it down and compresses the fast-moving (“not as easy for the human eye to see”) material, until things settle down on the screen and there is slower motion (such as a person walking). Then the quality ramps back up (the bitrate staying with the specified parameters) to keep the apparent quality high to the human eye. This is how CRF is supposed to work, and it seems to do a good job of that. 
Game recording with CRF isn’t as cut-and-dry as slow, long-term video compression with CRF, where it has time to figure out how to compress the fast/blurry scenes and make the slower/clearer scenes look better and change the bitrate/quantization respectively. Quantization can be thought of as ‘apparent spoilage’ of the material, where a certain amount isn’t even noticeable to most humans, and in some fast-moving-high-action scenes, it is even preferable to some eyes. Low bitrate and/or high quantization would both result in loss of detail and ‘blurring’ or ‘smoothing’ of video most of the time and can result in compression artifacts such as Macroblocks and Gibbs Effects (“mosquito noise”), as the codec tries to decide ‘what to keep’ and ‘what to lose’ (lossy compression). With CRF, it usually will try to keep a slow-moving scene (someone walking, people talking) detailed, without much quantizing (‘spoilage’), so that it looks good. It will take high-motion (fast action, fast changing) scenes and quantize them more (smoothing, blurring, ‘spoiling’) since the human eye won’t notice it as much on fast-motion, already-slightly-blurred changes on the screen.
To summarize the differences between the types of data rate controls (the choices in this pulldown bar):
CQP is like stating, “Keep this quality, I don’t care how big the bitrate/file gets” and ABR is like stating, “Keep this bitrate/filesize, I don’t care how crappy you have to make the video look to stay within that”, CRF is more like stating, “Try to keep this bitrate, but change it a little as you need (within a certain amount) and make the video look slightly crappy if you need to as well, but don’t let either one get too out of wack”. As CRF seemed to also be the one with the least amount of effect of the system in the form of ‘lag’ [only slightly less than the other ones in testing], being so highly configurable (compared to the other choices, where you can state a bitrate to stay within and it adjusts itself), I suggest using CRF for your x264/AVC game capturing.

Some Data / Bitrates seen with CRF

Since it looks like we are going to be sticking with CRF as our main datarate control factor [it performs slightly better than the other choices in tests], here’s an example of some bitrates that can result from using it (in kilobits per second):

Recorded game: Hitman: Absolution Benchmark [grainy, panning, high and low motion areas]
Recorded codec: H.264/AVC (MPEG-4 Part 10) using the x264vfw interface
Recorded settings [some]: No Deblocking, No Max Bitrate, No CABAC, adjusting only CRF

CRF 51  ~1200 kbps (lowest possible quality setting for CRF)
CRF 42  ~1600 kbps
CRF 32  ~6000 kbps
CRF 29  ~8500 kbps
CRF 26  ~14000 kbps
CRF 23  ~22000 kbps (codec default setting for CRF)
CRF 22  ~23000 kbps
CRF 21  ~32000 kbps
CRF 18  ~45000 kbps
CRF 15  ~64000 kbps
CRF 13  ~79000 kbps
CRF 10  ~101,000 kbps
CRF 5    ~119,000 kbps
CRF 1    ~119,000 kbps (highest possible quality setting for CRF)

As you can see, the higher the CRF, the lower the bitrate, so the lower the recorded file size will be (but also the lower the apparent quality). If you desire a higher-quality recording, then a lower CRF is what you want (even with a very low CRF, the bitrate is nowhere near as high as say, a FRAPS or YV12 recording (which can both easily be over 500,000 kbps), but that is the nature of the codec as it tries to slightly compress everything that passes through it.

It can also be seen, that is it is not a strict/hard-and-fast rule of evenly-spaced steps, when it comes to the CRF setting and Bitrate. It cannot be easily calculated that “two steps up in CRF equals this much more bitrate”. That is partially the nature of the compression and partially what occurs using CRF as a datarate control. When there is more motion on the screen and as it changes, the datarate will change as well, to try to keep within certain bitrate/quality boundaries and still accurately represent what is occurring on the screen/in the frames. With almost any form of compression/codec, only if the recording was using a completely fixed bitrate, or recording a static picture/view, would it be easy to calculate the adjustments required for a certain bitrate change. It is built into the codecs to adjust themselves as needed.

What CRF setting to use

So, what CRF setting to use? The general rule is: the lower the CRF number, the more bitrate/quality you are allowing it to use, but the bigger the recorded file size will be.

The choice is somewhat objective, as CRF18 may look good to me to record a first-person-shooter game with (the default is CRF23), but you may not like how it looks and want to use CRF10 to keep more details that you want to see.
Someone may not like the compression artifacts they can see when recording Minecraft using CRF18 and want to turn it up to CRF15 so that it is crisper, with less ‘mosquito noise’ around the edges or corruption that they can see; but you may think it looks good enough at the default of CRF23 and leave it there like someone else may do. You see?
Those are two very different types of video/games mind you, one is dark and grainy and the other is smooth, with hard edges, like animation; but you get the point. It can vary, not only person to person, but also game to game. A few short tests is all it will take however, and you quickly will find a CRF setting that you are happy to record with. You’ll find your own balance between, what will essentially be, these considerations:

The higher the bitrate (lower CRF number) the higher the quality and file size will be
The lower the bitrate (higher CRF number) the lower the quality and file size will be

You will eventually decide, with just a couple tests, what is ‘good enough’ quality for your eyes/uploading, and what CRF to use on that game (remember the ‘balancing act’ of bitrate vs quality mentioned at the beginning?). You will also find that the quality recorded isn’t even kept, after compressing the final/edited video to upload at a video sharing site somewhere.

All of the above paragraphs between these red lines of text is the same for both the Official and the Unofficial versions of the x264vfw interface and is only duplicated for ease of reading their respective sections

Slash-whew-sweating-emoticon

That was a lot to take in at once – but you made it through – and now you are set to record using H.264/AVC, whether you prefer Dxtory, Bandicam or use the completely free-to-use Afterburner from MSI. You are also now knowledgeable in both the Official and an Unofficial version of the x264 Video For Windows graphical way of setting up the codec, to change the settings.

Other than the Rate Control setting above (CRF) which you can adjust and set how you want it, the rest of the settings I have personally tested and found which ones allow for the faster recording performance and which ones negatively affect the speed of recording, utilizing the x264vfw interface (which these programs use to record in H.264/AVC). Turning off/down the ones I have stated throughout the article should give you the fastest/closest to ‘lag-free’ recording you can get with this codec, while still taking advantage of it’s compression capability. [My own Personal Notes/Opinions/Settings are below]

Please note that if your system is older or not as capable (perhaps you have a notebook/laptop which has less capability than a full desktop system with it’s own dedicated videocard and soundcard), you may have to do things like lower the recording resolution (or the resolution you are playing at in the game), increase the CRF number (so that it uses slightly less system resources to process the recording and will then use less bitrate and less disk space).

There are many things that can be done to help with speed, make for smoother recording, less lag, etc.
Here is a link to an article I wrote earlier on this blog, with general Tips to help with game recording:
http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2012/05/tips-for-game-recording-currently-text.html
No matter what game you play or what program you are using to record, these Tips will help you overall, with trying to record your games.

Lastly, please note dear reader, that I am not saying “This codec is the best one to record with” or “use this one only”. I am merely showing that it is possible or how to tweak it for quality or file size, as to your own personal tastes. There are many codecs out there to choose from when game recording and although some are more apt for certain types of games than others, overall it is your own choice to do with as you will. 

As always, do some of your own testing, see what works the best for you on your system and get things looking exactly how you want them to look – and have fun with it!


Personal Short Version/Opinion
and 
Settings I use:

H.264/AVC (MPEG-4 Part 10), is not normally a recommended codec to record with, for most people. It does not have the capability of super-high-almost-what-you-see-is-what-you-get quality that other codecs like FRAPS1, YV12, Lagarith or RGB Raw would give you. 
Heck, the highest bitrate possible (using the CRF setting, the fastest of the Rate Control settings in my tests) is only about 100,000kbps. That’s still about 2-4x the bitrate of the average BluRay movie mind you, and it seems fine to me, to look at the recorded videos of it.

Even if I had Terabytes of hard drive space to record to, I would still like to record in as small a filesize as I can, attempting at the same time to keep ‘good enough’ quality. Gone for me, are the days of filling my drives with FRAPS recordings (which have very high quality though) when today, with the more powerful CPUs and GPUs, I can record in a high MJPEG setting (for compatibility with editing apps) or a high MPEG-1 setting (which saves a lot on diskspace as well and has decent compatibility with video editors) – and now I can save even more space and record with MPEG-4 AVC, if desired. 
For instance, on my older system, a dual-core cpu with an NVIDIA GTS250, recording with x264/AVC brings my framerate down by about ten frames per second and sometimes more. On my newer system, a six-core cpu with an AMD HD 6870, recording with x264/AVC, with the same settings, brings my framerate down by only a couple of frames per second with my settings. Wonderful stuff.

I did many, many tests to find out what specific settings made differences (especially with the Unofficial version of the interface) and for the most part, it turned out as intuitive as it seemed at the outset: any setting that increased analysis and processing of the frames slowed things down. 
I had to test it all of course, and I found many settings that didn’t make a ‘huge’ impact on performance, and with more powerful hardware these are able to be used and enjoyed, helping to compress the frames even further, keeping decent detail and resulting in a very small recorded file size. As you can adjust/optimize settings far more in the Unofficial interface (at least a bit easier/graphically), I tend to use that one more than the Official version; but in essence, both are the same thing. Here’s some of my findings [my settings are in these square brackets]:

For the Official (“Simple”, red x264 logo) interface:

I found that, on a more modern desktop system, the Preset can be turned ‘down’ a bit (the amount of analysis going up a bit), to Superfast or even sometimes Veryfast, since many of the hard-cpu-hitting options like Trellis and larger Motion Estimations don’t kick in at these settings. Anything lower/slower than that makes it lag behind too much as it processes frames.
[I usually use Superfast]

While Zero Latency is pretty much required for live game recording, Fast Decode is not entirely needed, especially if you have a faster rig to power the game and record at the same time on. My computer isn’t even top of the line but it can handle NOT using Fast Decode (which disables CABAC, and a couple other things). CABAC can have quite a bit of an effect on quality, and since it doesn’t seem to have a huge performance hit, I use it. Fast Decode also disables Deblocking and that leads into my next setting…
[I always use Zero Latency]
[Even though it helps with speed, most of the time I don’t use Fast Decode]

The only other thing I change in the interface is deciding on the main Rate Control type and Rate Factor. In my own tests, CRF seemed to have the least amount of effect on framerate out of them all, and I fluctuate on what CRF I use, depending on the game I’m recording and what the recording is for. If I’m recording a high-quality test, of course it will be a low CRF, but it need not be a 1 to look good. I am quite satisfied with a CRF of 15-18 for decent-quality captures. The bitrate of a 1080p capture at that CRF ran about 45,000kbps, which is a high-quality BluRay movie’s bitrate. For just average gameplay for fun, I usually run a CRF of 21 up to 23. The quality is ‘good enough’ then, especially with a low Deblocking setting helping out (the Preset of Superfast leaves Deblocking “On” at the default 0:0 setting). I don’t recommend going below CRF23, with deblocking or not, as it just becomes too ‘garble-y’, to use a more technical term… Web broswer/low-motion games or hard-edged/animated games that look like Minecraft also need a higher bitrate (lower CRF), so that the hard edges aren’t messed up and the smooth/flat areas aren’t too compressed and get ‘blocky’.
[I use a CRF in the range of 18 for higher-quality capturing, going up to 23 if disk space is low, and don’t suggest higher than 23, so that quality doesn’t suffer too much] 

Nothing else need be adjusted in the Official x264/red logo interface, but I sometimes add “–keyint 50” or “–keyint 20” into the area (no quotation marks) ‘for advanced users’ at the bottom. This is a command that will force a keyframe/I-frame after that many frames have gone by. This helps to keep the seeking time low when editing and allows for closer cuts when not recompressing the clip when editing. If you having a problem with editing MPEG-4/AVC files, try using a –keyint setting of “1”, so that every frame is an editable/seekable keyframe. A higher GOP is better for file size but can take longer to seek when editing and Vegas or Premiere might have ‘trails’ or ‘corruption’ so might need a GOP setting of 1, see here for more info). You may want to increase the bitrate to keep quality then though, as the codec can’t really compress/do much of it’s ‘magic’ then, without room to work between frames. As stated above, the optimal codec for editing is MJPEG, but many do not like the quality (try turning it up to 100%).
Leaving it blank and not using any “–keyint” command will allow the codec to use many more frames (250 is the default I believe) for compression and the resulting recorded file size will be very small.

For the Unofficial (“Complicated”, black x264 logo) interface:

The first tab is just the Rate Control setting. CRF seemed to have the least effect on framerate.
I also sometimes add the –keyint setting to the command box at the bottom, just like I talked about a couple paragraphs up.
[I use a CRF in the range of 18 or less for higher-quality capturing, going up to 21 or if disk space is low, up to 23 at the most and don’t suggest higher than 23, so that quality doesn’t suffer too much]

For the second tab, there is a lot to change, but I mainly talked about why up in the article, so I’ll just state what I like to use here, after this paragraph on Deblocking:

Deblocking can be forced to ‘leave things in’/keep details, by using a negative value, especially when dealing with effects such as film grain and minute details and noise; but for the most part deblocking will ‘smooth things out’, especially trying to hide where a lot of detail has been lost, where compression artifacts like Macroblocks and Gibbs Effects (mosquito noise) around edges would show up. I don’t recommend putting deblocking up too high though, as it can really make things downright blurry. With deblocking completely off, all of the detail is kept, but many things can look like they have a ‘wood grain’ pattern on them. With a high bitrate/low CRF, there is no need for deblocking at all anyway, as there would be a lot less compression/artifacting. When recording a high-quality test or something like that, I leave it off. When just recording random gameplay or myself doing something, I turn it on at a low setting, to help with keeping things looking slightly more ‘clean’.
[I use Deblocking at 1:0 (CUDA default) up to 3:0, when I use it, but any more and things start to look ‘too smoothed out’ to me]

For this second tab then:
[No Partitions (all unchecked, Fast P-skip checked, 1 Max reference frame, ME algorithm on Diamond, ME range of 4, Subpixel ME refinement of 0 or 1 (any higher causes more lag), GOP size of 20 or 50 (this is the –keyint setting from above, higher is better for file size but can take longer to seek when editing and Vegas or Premiere might have ‘trails’ or ‘corruption’ so might need a GOP setting of 1, see here for more info), No Weighted P-frames, Max consecutive B-frames to 0 (none), In-loop deblocking filter unchecked (off) or checked (on) with a 1:1 deblock, CABAC on (it’s slower for less-capable systems), DCT decimation checked (on), Trellis set to Off]

In the third and last tab of the Unofficial (black x264 logo) interface, I sometimes set a VBV max bitrate of about 40000 (kbps) just to keep the filesize down, especially when I’m going to edit and recompress for uploading somewhere (which usually gets rendered out for upload at that bitrate or lower anyway), it looks ‘good enough’ for me (this also requires a buffer of some sort, to allow it to check the bitrate as it goes up and down, so I put in 4000 or 10000 if I set a VBV max bitrate)
[No maxbitrate usually, unless you want to save some harddrive space (eg. 50000k)]

That’s all I change for both of those interfaces, from their defaults, as of the time of this post. 
Keep in mind that as games are updated and Re-Optimized, drivers are Updated, and new hardware is released/purchased, I may change these settings (and I advise you to try some tests too, if you wish, when things change). Also, I am not a stickler for the utmost quality and don’t mind things getting compressed a bit, so you might want tighter/higher settings. 
Mainly, I hope that this info helps some of you to either record with less lag (many people report that with more optimized MPEG-4/AVC settings they have less apparent lag) or just learned some terms and concepts that may help when editing and compressing your own videos/shows/etc and overall just help you record better/smoother. I actually enjoyed testing all of these things out and learning about it and I hope it helps anyone that is recording their gameplay adventures.


See you in the games!

Why Teachers Love Technology

An infographic about “Why Teachers Love Technology” was recently shared with me, and on the heels of yesterday’s post, I felt like now is a good time to share the infographic with you.

What do we Know Infographic
Graphic from OnlineUniversities.com

Do you love technology? I’d love to hear why in the comments section!

Cellulite Breakdown and Essential Detoxification part 2

Beware the Heavy Metals

Whether or not you go for music of the same name, heavy metals in your body are something you want to get rid of. These elements, the concentration of which has increased dramatically in our air, foods and water since the Industrial Revolution, can seriously interfere with your body’s metabolic functioning and thus challenge its wellbeing. Mercury tends to suppress the levels of white blood cells involved in the immune response. Cadmium displaces the essential element zinc needed for a great many of your body’s enzyme systems and renders them inefficient and even inactive (including those that build new collagen and elastin for skin and connective tissues). In the West we now have a concentration of lead in our bodies some 500 to 1,000 times that of our pre-technological ancestors. High levels of this heavy metal age us prematurely, interfere with our mental processes, suppress immunity and contribute to depression. Aluminium, another heavy metal, detrimentally affects the central nervous system. It has recently been associated with the development of pre-senile dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Diet Start

The presence of all of these elements in excessive quantities (and their concentrations in the human body appear to be increasing with each passing decade) generally interferes with the metabolic processes on which good body ecology and therefore the absence of cellulite depends. It is important to do everything you can to eliminate them from your body. (The alginates, forms of fibre found in seaweeds, also chelate heavy metals and adding sea plants to your diet on an ongoing basis is a good idea, after your applefast is finished.) You also need to be aware of ways you can protect yourself from allowing heavy metals to build up in the first place. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Steer clear of tobacco smoke and exhaust fumes
  • Don’t buy fruit or vegetables from shops in the street where they have been exposed to leaded exhaust fumes
  • Don’t cook in aluminium pans
  • Eat plenty of fibre and nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits.

More Than An Apple A Day

Now let’s get down to the programme. An applefast can be done by any healthy person provided of course your doctor agrees. It was taught to me twenty years ago by Dr Gordon Latto, a British medical doctor who uses nothing but food and breathing and a few herbs to heal even the most complex and chronic conditions. He is almost 80 and one of the most remarkably healthy and vital men I have ever met. The applefast lasts for two or three days (never more, except under doctor’s supervision). You eat only raw apples — as many varieties as you want — for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as in between. Eat all you want, but chew well and always crunch up the seeds too. They contain valuable nutrients that help the process.

During the applefast you need to give up all tea and coffee although you may have as much mineral water or herb tea made with mineral water as you please, sweetened with a little honey if you prefer. The best herb tea of all for The Breakdown is solidago or golden rod which you can get from a good herbalist. Like nettle, it has natural diuretic properties to help shift some of the stored water in your tissues but, unlike nettle, it actually tastes pleasant.

Don’t be surprised if you suffer the odd headache during this dynamic two or three days clear out. (Especially if you have been a dyed-in-the-wool coffee or tea drinker.) This is a sign that the whole process is happening rapidly. If you do, then take a 20-minute epsom salts bath and lie down in a darkened room to rest for 15 minutes afterwards. (More about this in a moment.)

External work on your body is important too to trigger the detoxification process. Start now to incorporate skin brushing into your daily routine. After the applefast is over continue doing it but begin to use other techniques as well to enhance lymphatic drainage, to help break up hardened connective tissue, and to keep the detoxification process going while you are rebuilding new, strong connective tissue and ground substance.

What is the Best Way to Warm-Up?

There is a lot of controversy and conflicting opinions on what you should do for a warm-up for exercise.   One of the reasons is that warm-ups should vary based on the activity you are preparing for and your level of fitness.
As the name implies one of the key goals in warm-up is to literally raise the body temperature and gradually ramp up the cardiovascular system to be prepared for harder efforts.     The length of warm-up should be based on the intensity of the activity.     Low intensity activities like moderate pace walking really require no specific warm-up as you can simply ease into the activity itself as a warm-up.     For activities like competitive athletic events that involve high intensity effort the warm-up should be longer.
In the same way, you have to consider your fitness level because a warm-up for a highly fit individual may be relatively high intensity exercise for a deconditioned person.
For all warm-ups, a 1 – 5-minute period of escalating cardiovascular exercise that raises heart rate and body temperature is advisable.    For high intensity athletic events this should be extended until the athlete breaks a sweat without being fatigued.   
This literal warm-up can be done on a cardiovascular exercise machine or via dynamic bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, planks, push-ups, etc.    
Once you raise body temperature you can include some dynamic stretching with an emphasis on movements that address key joints and muscles involved in the actual activity you are warming up for.   For example, for tennis warming up the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles is important while for cycling this is less relevant.
 A Proven Warm-up Protocol
Warm-ups for sports participation have been researched and there is one in particular protocol that is proven to reduce injuries by improving muscle strength, balance, and coordination.    This protocol is called the FIFA 11+ Program and involves doing 15 exercises.    For a complete how to guide click here:  https://www.slideshare.net/PedMenCoach/fifa-11-warmup-to-prevent-injuries 

Although this protocol was developed for soccer it can easily be modified to fit just about any competitive sport!

ever worry about what happens to your car when you drop it off at the dealership? Worry no more. Leave your cell phone in the car, with the camera on, or put in a Go Pro, or dash cam

Seriously, last week some customer did this at the dealership I work at, he wanted to bust the guys who detail the inside of the cars

http://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com/

My trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh, November & December 2010 & January 2011

January 2011

Back again at the Hotel De castle; it looks like I have spent more time here in the past 3 months than at home.

The original brief was to develop a Sustainability Plan for the organization. However, most managers confuse it with Resource Mobilization / Fund Raising Plans. Typically a Sustainability Plan involves a risk analysis of the organization comprising of Board, Executive Leadership, Resource Audits (Man, Money, Material & Technology / knowledge), HR, ICT, Finance and other support services systems audits plus a host of other environmental issues.

I cleared up this confusion and came to develop a Resource Mobilization Plan (Only Money); however, the team has not completed the budgets. So have to delay the process by a few days. Meanwhile I witnessed riots in Dhaka due to stock market crash yesterday. Stock price manipulation rings were very active in DSE over the past year and sent the stock prices way up beyond the wildest PE ratios possible for some companies. Just like what’s happening at the CSE in Sri Lanka. Most stocks trade much higher than PE ratio. Is this a prelude to what we can expect in the streets of Colombo I wonder?

Finally managed to develop the RM Plan for the organization; this is the end of the assignment for me and look forward to going back to Colombo.

December 2010

It’s good to be back in Dhaka and at the Hotel De Castle. Guess what its Harthal season again! I was in Bangladesh in 2006 and in 2008 for the then famous Harthal “Save Democracy” which was a success in overthrowing the elected government and appointing a caretaker government. However, during Harthal the general public and the visitors to Bangladesh suffers by having severe restrictions in free movement. I will spend 2 weeks in Dhaka for this assignment with the intention of developing the Vision, Mission, Values and Strategies of the organization.

It was hard work but managed to develop the Vision, Mission, Values and Strategies for the organization. During this process there was a one day Harthal, but it seems to have been a flop! What’s going on here, have the people finally realized not to go on Hartal for silly things? Well, we will just have to wait and see.

As part of the assignment I had to help the management team present the Vision, Mission, Values and Strategies to the board and get their comments and final approval. However there is an issue. The issue is that; the roles and responsibilities of governance and the executive branches of the organization are not clearly delineated to ensure efficient operations. In short there is a power struggle between the two. I have to manage this delicate process; otherwise all hell may break loose during the meeting and true to form, the consultant will be the fall guy.

You can read my article titled “Governance – Do we need to build capacity?” published in http://capacitydevelopment.ning.com/

The meeting with the board went off without any major hiccups and got the necessary approvals and consent for the next stage of the assignment.

November 2010

The assignment I undertook was to develop a new Vision, Mission, Values, Strategies and a corresponding Resource Mobilization plan and support services (Finance HR & IT) plans for Acid Survivors Foundation ASF http://www.acidsurvivors.org/ of Bangladesh. I will be staying at the Hotel De castle in Banani, Dhaka.

I must say that I was quite shocked at the number of people being attacked in Bangladesh and the physical and psychological damage it does to people. The major cause of attacks was economic (Dowry & Land). Given the poverty levels in Bangladesh I must say that I am not surprised. Having enough resources to go around for 160 + Million people is not a joke.

The irony is that at the United Nations (Put UN Web Site) review of the Millennium Development Goals (Put MDG review results Web Site) it was concluded that mot poor countries (including Bangladesh) were failing miserably in trying to reach the MGD’s. In my Humble opinion this is because most poor countries are not dealing with the white elephant in the room i.e. population growth. This is obviously considered a sensitive subject given the reluctance of politicians to take on the religious establishments head on be it Islam or the many denominations of Christianity. On the contrary this should be the main subject of discussion by far thinking politicians the world over.

For instance if Bangladesh were to implement strict policies to have ZERO growth in population for the next 10 years it would develop at a faster rate As even the slightest growth in the nations wealth will be held by a content population. This is common sense.

Most people misunderstand when we talk about zero population growth. They think that you are suggesting that people stop having children. In fact it does not mean that at all. It just means that your birth rate has to be equated to your death rate.

In the case of developing countries; the way that externally funded development sector project are implemented creates further frustrations within a given population and at times directly create political and social unrest. Most development sector professional (from the north countries as well as the south countries) don’t even understand this themselves. Consider the following. Most western donors advocate rights based projects. This means that all citizens will demand equal levels of services from the state irrespective of economic, social, political, ethnic or religious status. This in a developing country means that “now” 10,000 people line up for services as opposed to 1,000 people. The issue is that the rights based development project itself does not have any or enough funding to cater for the newly generated demand. The funds are only available to create and sustain the demand by the citizenry. So now the poor government has to serve a larger number of people with the same or slightly increased budget. This only means that in order to cater for the quantity the quality of services will be compromised. This is OK with the rich citizens as they can afford to pay for services by the private sector or bribe the state employees or use influence to get a better service from the state service provider.

One can argue and say that this is a deliberate attempt by some of the donors to create instability within developing countries. I am not a conspiracy theorist but I wouldn’t put it past some of them. The point is that we who hail from the developing countries must act a lot smarter than we currently do if we want to develop.

As for me the assignment will run in to the New Year and I will have to go to Bangladesh a few more times to finish the assignment.

Health Benefits of Guava for Health and Beauty

Health Benefits of Guava for Health and Beauty

Health Benefits of Guava for Health and BeautyGuava has a Latin name Psidium guajava is also often described as guava and guava. The origin of the fruit is reportedly from a country where the sport of football was born, namely Brazil, and managed to get in Indonesia through trade channels in Thailand.
Guava and Guava has a sweet taste, and not infrequently there is still sour. Round shape leaves with green skin and flesh have two color variants of white and red are where there is little seed seeds can also be consumed.
Health Benefits of Guava for Health and Beauty - 1
The Nutritional Content of Guava
There are dozens of nutrients stored in guavas and in each of these nutrients plays an important role in terms of health shore up the human body and diligent person to consume.
Here are some nutrients that are embedded in Guava :
• The Water Content Is Not Small
• Contains Fiber
• Calories
• Containing Protein
• Fats
• Contain Carbohydrates
• Contain Iron
• Abu
• Containing Calcium
• Containing Phosphorus
• Contains Vitamin A (Carotene)
• Contains Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acis)
• Contains Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
• Contains Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
• Contains Niacin (Vitamin B3)
With the presence of a number of nutrients above the guava fruit can be said as the fruit is also rich in nutrients. Because of them that many people who want to cultivate the fruit is sweet, while it was for her own use is not only edible but also processed into drugs.
Benefits of Guava
Many diseases are able to be deflected slowly by this fruit, some of which are as follows.
1. Can Fight Cancer
Get used to a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis in order to avoid serious diseases such as cancer that have reported more patients to death. You can prevent cancer in a way that is diligent guava consumption. There is an antioxidant that is able to do this. Lycopene in guava is known it is easier to be absorbed in the body than the tomatoes because the difference in cell structure.
2. as Diarrhea Drug
Diarrhea should be quick to take medication. The medicine is not to be made in the factory, you can use a method that is more secure and healthy as a drink with guava juice three times a day. Guava plant also has antibacterial properties, these properties that you can use to stop diarrhea and dysentery. The antibacterial properties either be created because of the content of karetinoid, vitamin C and potassium in it.
3. Can Lower Blood Pressure
For People with hypertension are often recommended by doctors to familiarize the consumption of foods and beverages derived from guava and mangosteen peel. Why? because the fruit contains potassium, which is said by the results of the study were able to treat hypertension and lowers LDL cholesterol excess.
4. Cough and Flu
Highly vulnerable to extreme weather conditions to make your baby have a cold with a cough. The mother must take action, by giving red guava juice that also contained vitamin C and iron which can inhibit the influenza virus infection.
Health Benefits of Guava for Health and Beauty - 2
5. Can Overcome Constipation
Constipation or constipation is the most frequently encountered problems. If you suffer from the same thing you do not immediately take medicine, try to eat a medium-sized guava fruit which also included a 36 percent fiber needs that doctors recommend.
6. Make More Stomach Satiety
Guava is the food you choose as a booster stomach, because the content of fiber, protein and some vitamins in it is suitable to withstand hunger. If you are running the program for the diet, the fruit seems appropriate to provide chances of success of your endeavors.
7. as Drug Thrush
Thrush occurs because a deficiency of vitamin C as well as drinking water. You can meet the daily requirement of vitamin C by eating guava, besides that because the vitamin content can be overcome thrush was moved at this fruit.
8. Diabetes Mellitus
Drink a concoction of guava which has been boiled and filtered water is believed to be able to treat the disease diabetes mellitus.
9. Younger
Antioxidants are cooperating also with vitamin A, C and potassium in guava able to treat your skin to keep it tight so avoid premature aging.

It is remarkable not properties of guava fruit that previously may not know fully. From now make guava as a table fruit that is ready to wash the mouth after every meal. Hopefully article Health Benefits of Guava for Health and Beauty we share today can be beneficial for you. Thank You.

Fallout 4 – V.A.N.S… What Does It Do? Why Would Anyone Want To Take/Use It? [Explanation with Example]

I saw someone ask this in the Official Steam Forum, wondering why someone would even pick the VANS Perk (the Skill to use it) while levelling. I wanted to come back here and post, as a Quick Tip perhaps, a short explanation on what V.A.N.S. actually does (and how it can be helpful to players).

Briefly summarized, V.A.N.S. is a Perk of Intelligence (requiring only 1 INT to Unlock) that lets the V.A.T.S. interface ‘show you the way’ to your marked objective/quest/mission location. An example I recorded of how it looks, is below:

Recorded aboard The Prydwen, this is a short example of how VANS looks in Fallout 4.
(Reduced size, framerate and quality, to fit Upload requirements at Steam)
Click to see slightly larger Full Size
On Steam, at http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=966498722

To use V.A.N.S., simply hold the Hotkey for opening VATS for a short time (eg. on PC, instead of hitting ‘Q’ quickly once, to enter V.A.T.S., hold it down) – let go of the ‘Q’ key, after about two full seconds or so – even if the Pip-Boy has not fully opened yet. Then hit ‘TAB’ to close the Pip-Boy right away, once the ‘green trail’ is seen.
You do not need to move or turn at all, until after closing the Pip-Boy fully (for example, I do not use the mouse at all to use V.A.N.S., on PC, I just open the Pip-Boy with ‘Q’ and close the Pip-Boy with ‘TAB’).
[Perhaps this will help those having issues with opening/closing/viewing the ‘trail’…]

If you’ve played Skyrim, it is similar to the Clairvoyance Spell in that game, as it will then illuminate a ‘trail’ that looks like a tube of smoke along the ground, that you can follow (but in Fallout 4 it is ‘Pip-Boy Green’, as opposed to ‘SKYrim Blue’).

While this doesn’t seem needed as Fallout 4 has both Map Marks (on the Map in the Pip-Boy and at the bottom of the Screen in a Compass) and Floating Markers (that can be seen on Doors, above NPCs, etc). V.A.N.S. is helpful in a slightly different way. It shows you the ‘Main Path to take’ to get to your Marked Objective/Quest/Mission (as in, “go to this Street and use this Road”).

For example, if you are jumping around in the back hills or lost in the skyscrapers of Downtown, it will guide you out of where you are with the ‘green steam trail’ and show you how to get back to the main roads, then it will illuminate which way to go from there, too.

The Map Markers that are normally available only show the ‘overall’ or ‘general’ Heading, like a Compass (N, E, W, S) and not ‘how to go around this thing in front of you’ or ‘how to get back to the main road first’. Those last concepts are where the usefulness in V.A.N.S. shines; in how it can guide you from exactly where you are, first around whatever is in front of you (to the nearest main path), then how to go on from there to your next objective.

Try it out on your next Character perhaps – and have fun in Fallout 4!

July Currently & Goals & a Meet Up!

Oh, July! You seemed so far away a month ago. How could you possibly be almost here already?! Can’t we add another month in between June and July? I really, REALLY want to hold on to June as long as possible. I’m really not ready to return to work in a few weeks…

Currently July

I’m linking up with Farley at Oh Boy! 4th Grade for the July Currently.

Listening: My little girl is almost 2, and she LOVES books. She also loves Pete the Cat. I took her to my favorite children’s book store, Little Shop of Stories, to get the new Pete the Cat book the day it came out. Given that she knows and loves the song “Wheels on the Bus,” it’s a great book for her to “read” on her own.

Loving: Planbook.com. I signed up for the one-month trial to tinker around with it, and it’s fantastic. I’ll definitely be using it next year.

Thinking: that I’m much more prepared to teach the Common Core this year — especially with math. I’m excited about implementing all of the things that I worked on this summer to get ready for math, and I’m optimistic about my year ahead.

Wanting: a longer summer break. There are so many things that I still want to do before going back to school, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to get them all done.

Needing: a maid. I can’t keep up with my husband, toddler, and two dogs. Once I go back to work, it may be time to hire someone to come in each week.

Tips, Tricks & Hints: One thing that helps me with time management is to try to group all of my like-projects together and work on them at once. For example, I have one day a week at school that I do all of my copying (or at least I did before going paperless!). I also spend one day working on plans for each subject (e.g., a day for math planning, a day for science, etc.) and a day for working on blog posts, etc for the week. This helps me use my time more efficiently and stay relatively organized.

July Goals

I’m also linking up with Jess at I {Heart} Recess for the first time for the monthly goals post.

Personal: I want to start exercising at least 3 times a week (baby steps). I return to work in a couple weeks (!), and I know with all that I’ll be juggling this year between work and my doctorate that I will need to do better with exercise for balance and stress management.

Family: I want to squeeze in a couple more “date days” before going back to school. My daughter is in school year round, so on “date days,” my husband leaves his office before lunch, and then we go out to lunch and catch a movie before picking her up. It saves us babysitting costs, and it’s a fun way to spend our afternoon.

Health: A few years ago when I lost a lot of weight, the biggest change I made was that I consistently drank 64 oz of water every day. Now that I’ve gained back the weight (and then some), I need to start drinking at least that much water every day.

School: I report to our staff retreat on July 17th, and then pre-planning officially starts on July 25th. I need to figure out how I’m going to decorate my room before then and map out some plans for the first few weeks before then.

Blog/TpT: I’m hoping to wrap up my Paperless Challenge series in the next few weeks, and I have several new TpT products in the works. This summer has just gone by too quickly for me to finish it all!

Outside the Box: I want to find some easy and tasty breakfast and lunch recipes that I can use throughout the year. I do a fairly good job cooking healthy dinners, but I am not consistent the rest of the day. I often forget to eat breakfast, and then I don’t make the best choices for lunch either. The more I plan ahead, the better prepared I’ll be. And this justifies spending more time on Pinterest. Win-win!

Southeastern Bloggers Meet Up!

Have you heard about the Southeastern-area blogger meet up? It’s about time that those of us in Georgia and the surrounding areas get together, and I’m super thankful that Stacia, Amanda, and Jivey from Collaboration Cuties and Ideas by Jivey have  organized something for us. If you are close to Atlanta, I hope you’ll join us for the meet up on July 20th. It promises to be lots of fun.

Click on any of the images below to connect with Jivey’s blog where you can RSVP.

I hope to meet lots of other fabulous teacher bloggers there! Click the button below to RSVP.

Men’s Body Click Diet part 3

What happened with my patient Brooks shows how this scenario plays out. It also reveals why I think that such mysterious and sometimes chronic inflammations of the prostate are usually not infections but instead have a lot to do with factors that are also related to abnormal growth or cancers of the prostate.

Brooks is a 50-year-old businessman whose previously dependable penis had become much less reliable with regard to its sexual responsibilities. At the same time he suffered from discomfort with urination, some hesitancy in starting his urinary stream and the need to get up at night to urinate more than once, which had been his previous custom. He was alarmed that whatever was going on represented some sort of permanent equipment failure. Told at first by both a general practitioner and a urologist that his prostate was ‘pretty normal’ and later that it was a ‘little enlarged’, he had undergone two courses of antibiotic treatment for nonspecific prostatitis. His symptoms improved while he was on the antibiotics but returned when he finished the medication.

I had a telephone consultation with him and after hearing him out and considering various possibilities, I suggested to him that he had ‘some kind of mischief’ with his prostate. This was a much softer diagnosis than that of nonspecific prostatitis. But it suggested a treatment that was aimed more at making his prostate happy than at trying to kill some unseen, unidentified and perhaps nonexistent germs.

Diet Start

The concept of trying to make some organ in your body happy seem, alien to a regular guy like Brooks. He shares with most people the medical notion that there is a specific treatment for every condition and that this treatment is not a strategy to make some part of your body happy. It did, however, make Brooks happy when I suggested that part of his therapy was at least daily efforts to encourage the emptying of his prostate and its tubing by provoking an ejaculation. This was contrary to the no-sex advice he had been given earlier, which seemed to me like the equivalent of telling someone with a bad cold not to blow his nose.

I offered Brooks a package of additional measures to make his prostate happy. These included daily doses of soy protein, flaxseed powder, flaxseed oil, zinc and an antifungal medicine. If you understand why I loaded my shotgun with such a diversity of remedies and how they all fit together, you will also see how I perceive that the whole range of prostate mischief from inflammation to cancer fits together.

I’ve already explained the soy protein and flaxseed powder. I also recommended an additional supplement of flaxseed oil. The prostate gland is one of the richest sources of the hormonelike substances that are made from omega-3 fatty acids, with which flaxseed oil is loaded. They are called prostaglandins, named for the very organ under discussion, because they were first isolated from fluids found in the prostate. (Soon after their discovery in prostatic fluids, they were found to be present in a wide variety of animal tissues of all kinds and not at all exclusive to the prostate, but the name stuck.) The use of fatty acids in flaxseed oil helps the prostate make prostaglandins. But the more important motive for a prescription of flaxseed oil was the strong likelihood that Brooks, like most people, was deficient in omega-3 oils. The flaxseed oil, then, was generally beneficial rather than a treatment aimed specifically at the prostate.

I recommended that Brooks take zinc because it helps the immune system fight off infections and control the body’s inflammatory response to infection. Finally, I prescribed the antifungal medicine because of my consistent experience with other patients where I’d seen that an overgrowth of fungus germs, particularly yeasts, has a proclivity to bother people’s reproductive systems. I have often found stubborn cases of prostate problems in men to be responsive to antifungal drugs.

But there’s another, more important angle to the antifungal treatment Igave Brooks and the many other men I’ve treated in a similar way. In order for the isoflavones and lignans in soy protein and flaxseed powder to be transformed into the substances that beneficially modulate hormone chemistry, they must pass through the digestive tract, where they are changed by certain germs that live there. If the normal distribution of healthy flora has been disturbed so that there are too many bad germs and not enough good germs, the capacity of the intestinal flora to help hormone chemistry will be seriously impaired. Antibiotics are by far the most significant disrupter of intestinal germ populations. A single course of an antibiotic prescription can affect this balance for months or longer. My prescription of an antifungal medicine for Brooks was aimed at two overlapping targets. One was the possibility that a fungal infection was directly related to the prostate inflammation; the other was that his two courses of antibiotics had made him worse by causing a disturbance in his bowel germ population that would correct itself once the number of yeast germs living there was reduced.

Within ten days Brooks and his prostate were both happy. His equipment returned to reliable functioning and he has remained well since. He is as pleased as he is surprised. This is true for many men whose similar responses to simple changes in diet don’t jibe with their expectation that I would have to treat them by calling out the big guns rather than coaxing their bodies back into balance. I’m confident that the remedies I suggested for Brooks worked because they were specifically connected to achieving a hormonal balance governed by a combination of factors related to his digestive flora and an intake of substances that made his prostate happy.

It’s not a big step from consideration of acute problems, such as what Brooks had, to the more chronic problems of prostate enlargement andprostate cancer.

Fads Pose Dangers, Don’t Listen to Dietary Fads

However, we need to be careful on this question of diet. Many different ideas are prevalent today. Don’t believe all you hear. There may be some elements of truth in a few of these dietary fads, but usually there is some foolish notion hidden underneath that is neither in harmony with science nor with common sense. Don’t be misled.

Regardless of the many fantastic claims that you may hear, there is no one perfect food. There is none that will meet all the needs of the body any more than there is one perfect material that will serve every purpose in building a house. The best diets are those in which there is plenty of variety. Then if any particular element is lacking in one food, it may be amply provided in another. This is one excellent way of avoiding deficiencies in your diet.

Variety is most important. But it is not the complete answer. We must also use discretion in the choice of foods. Some things that may look tasty are not always healthful and nutritious. Foods that are highly refined are less likely to contain the vital elements to meet the needs of the body. Modern food processing may have its good points. But sometimes the vitamins and minerals are lost in the refining process. It is better to use fresh foods whenever they are available. But be sure that they are really fresh.

Diet Start

Some people tend to think that malnutrition is a problem among the less-favored classes of the world. While this is true, it is surprising how often those with higher incomes also suffer from a different type of malnutrition. They eat plenty of food, but mostly of the wrong type. This so-called “hidden hunger” is very common in large cities, where more artificial living conditions prevail. Modern methods of marketing are providing a wider range of foods. But far too many people still prefer to live on devitalized foods that are woefully inadequate. It is these devitalized foods that lead to hidden hunger.

Such diets fail to provide the body with the right building materials that will keep it functioning properly. Foods that contain a high concentration of sugar and other carbohydrates may provide energy, but other important elements are usually lacking. Soon the organs begin to lose their normal powers of operation. The vital processes of the body are slowed down, and a toxic condition develops. The delicate balance of nature is upset, and the whole body suffers.

It is amazing the amount of food that one person may consume in his lifetime. Someone has estimated that we eat up to 1,400 times our own weight in a lifetime of seventy years! Think of how much money we spend in buying all this food! Surely such an expenditure as this is worthy of our closest study. Are we buying health, or weakness and disease? A balanced diet is the very best type of insurance against those degenerative diseases so common today.

It is true that diet alone is not the answer to all of our health problems. Other things must also be considered. But a well-balanced diet will always help to restore those body tissues that have been laid waste by serious disease. And what fun we can have while we are getting well again! So much depends on the attitude of the mind.

Mental Attitudes Important

Centuries ago the wise man gave us a great scientific truth when he said, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” This is absolutely true. It is the optimistic person who usually makes a good recovery. Because he is happy in himself and confident in the future, his health naturally begins to improve. His whole body responds to the sheer joy of living.

But the wise man did not stop there. He also added these significant words: “A broken spirit drieth the bones.” This observation is just as true as the other. A pessimistic attitude soon affects the whole body. It slows down the circulation of the blood. It interferes with good digestion. It takes all the joy out of living. In the end, it may so completely change the individual that he becomes old and worn out long before his time.

Our mental attitudes are very important, particularly as they affect this question of diet. Many of us are shortening our lives without fully realizing what we are doing. Some of us eat too much, often for no other reason than to soothe our injured feelings. Or perhaps we do not take time to eat sensible meals. We grab something and run. We are in too much of a hurry. Then we wonder why we are weak and sick. We do not seem to realize that our diet has much to do with our endurance and also with our ability to resist disease. All the vitamin pills in the world will not make up for the lack of a sensible way of living.

Millions of people are spending fortunes trying to win back their lost figures and restore their flagging energies. All they needed was to apply a little common sense in the first place. No one can hope to have an attractive appearance, a healthy skin, and a clear mind unless he is willing to use discretion in choosing his meals. Even good foods, if taken to excess, may destroy the vitality of the body. Anything that is overdone may cause trouble, even too many vitamins.

A balanced diet is the very foundation of good living. To keep the body functioning smoothly and efficiently, it must be supplied with a constant stream of essential nutrients. This must be clear to all. Yet, it is a shocking fact that many farmers and dairymen are more interested in how they feed their cattle than in how they feed their children! Of course, it pays to see that cattle are well fed. But isn’t it time we begin to think about ourselves and our children as well?

Today, thanks to modern medical discoveries, we have less to fear from serious infections. But degenerative diseases are becoming more frequent on every hand. How can these be avoided in your own particular case? This is something you should feel free to discuss with your own family doctor. He is the best one to advise you on such matters. But there is no question that a good, sensible diet will always help. And when we follow such a program, we will feel stronger and more energetic, our mealtimes will be happier, and we can look forward to enjoying better health for years.

Men’s Body Click Diet part 1

In the summer the men had to cope with constant daylight, so they were missing the normal cues to go to bed. ‘When it’s daylight, even though it’s midnight or one o’clock in the morning, you don’t think of it as being the time to go to sleep,’ says Dave. ‘Your mind just says, hey, there’s work to be done. I may be tired but I’m not recognizing the need for sleep because it’s daylight.’

Already lacking the strong time-giving effects of light, the men could not set their body clocks by what they were eating, either. ‘We had four meals a day. Two of them occurred at noon and midnight, the other two at six in the morning and six in the evening,’ continues Dave. ‘One of the difficulties in telling what time it was, was that the 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. meals were powdered scrambled eggs and the other two meals were stew. So if you woke up at six o’clock and went into the galley for a meal and you had powdered scrambled eggs, you didn’t know whether you were having breakfast or dinner.’

Despite losing the signals that are normally provided by the cycle of light and dark, the timing of activity, intake of food, reasonable work shifts or even simple obedience to the clock, most of the men managed toget through without becoming acutely sick or injured. But some of them developed a condition they called Big Eye, in which they became stuck in a sleepless state. Almost everyone had duties that required exhausting physical labor, but even so, the men with Big Eye failed to sleep for days.

Diet Start

The men with Big Eye demonstrated that the body’s flexibility is a double-edged sword. The loss of essential time givers easily disrupted their circadian rhythms, probably setting them up for health problems if they continued down that path. On the other hand, proper application of some fairly simple rules for circadian health could have rescued them. And the same rules can rescue you from a potentially perilous state of disorganization.

The Body Clock Prescription reinforces strong circadian rhythms; produces better sleep, enhanced moods, alertness and energy; and reduces the risk for reproductive cancers for everyone. In addition to these overall improvements in health and well-being, there are specific aspects of the diet that have a favorable impact on prostate health, a subject that provokes anxiety for many men.

Prostate Ailments: The ‘Male Problem

There is certainly cause for concern. Prostate ailments are an almost universal threat to men in Europe and North America. Among men in the United States, prostate cancer is the most common cancer; it is also the second leading cause of cancer death.’ In addition, countless men suffer from other prostate problems. This phenomenon represents a kind of `male problem‘ corresponding roughly to what used to be called ‘female problems’, a much less specific collection of gynecological woes that were lumped under this heading in the mid-1900s. The notion of female problems embraced excessive menstruation, infertility, irregular periods,cramps, vaginal discharge and other kinds of medical mischief that women endure.

The male problem is more localized in the prostate gland, the part of the male reproductive system that secretes fluids that help transport sperm. Nevertheless, it is a fairly complicated picture, which includes inflammations of the prostate, a common condition known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and prostate cancer.

What’s more, prostate problems may lead you to needing a cystoscopy, where a narrow flashlight is inserted into the hole from which you pee until it arrives in your bladder. On the way, it passes through your prostate gland. Cystoscopy is a procedure that causes ‘big eyes’ in the bravest of men.

Besides cystoscopy, the other method often used to examine men with prostate complaints is digital rectal examination, in which the examiner can feel the profile of your prostate gland. (Digital refers to the doctor’s finger, not his computer.) Both give much less information than you would expect to get from such relatively invasive procedures. Opening your mouth and saying Ah’ discloses much more about your teeth, gums, tongue and throat than any rectal exam reveals about your prostate, unless you have a huge lump. Ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans are necessary to get a good picture of what’s happening to this gland, whose actual location on the floor of your pelvis seems mysterious to anyone who has not studied anatomy.

Diet and Prostate Health

If you look around you, especially as you get older and start hearing stories from men who have prostate trouble, you may wonder if there’s something simple you can do to avoid it. I’m not talking about early detection, which is mentioned frequently these days. (Of course, most men’s idea of early detection is that early next year or the year after would be just fine.) Nor am I saying that a good history, physical exam, measurements of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a common blood test used to screen for prostate cancer and other indicators of your underlying health, prostate or otherwise, are not a good idea.

But you’re misplacing your priorities if you go through those procedures without making some modest changes in your diet now to prevent troubles in the future. Most men who have a reasonably healthy personal and family medical history and who don’t abuse themselves with excesses of drugs, tobacco and alcohol, other risky activities or excessive inactivity can probably remain free of obvious symptoms even if they don’t implement all the points of the Body Clock Prescription. Some of these pointsare aimed at people who are trying to get out of serious medical trouble or who have risk factors that call on them to follow the diet very strictly.

Naturally, the more closely you follow the Body Clock Prescriptionthe better, but if you do nothing else, I urge you to consume soy protein and flaxseed powder daily to prevent prostate problems. By making these simple dietary changes and keeping your mind open to the possibility that fungal infection, intestinal overgrowth or allergy might have a hand in any prostate inflammation that is not otherwise easily diagnosed by a physician, you can go a long way toward avoiding the possibility of getting prostate cancer, as well as the other problems that frequently lead men to undergo cystoscopy.

“Can You Guess Where The Screenshot Below Is From?”, The Game Tips And More Blog’s Game Screenshot Identification Contest, Re-Happens Again Today! [Updated 2018-03-02 with Answer Image]

It’s the 15th of the month – and it is time for something that I re-re-started up, just last Month – The Next Installment of The Game Tips And More Blog’s ‘New-ish-sorta-but-not-really’ Contest:

“Can You Guess Where The Screenshot Below Is From?”

(A Game Screenshot Identification Contest)

Having its’ Fifth Edition now, today – February 15th, 2018!

All you have to do to win this contest, is contact me in any way you can (eg. Comment on this article
below, Twitter profile tweet, email me or Comment/PrivateMessage TheBlog’s Steam Account by the end of the month, with these two items within your message:

1. Your guess for the game the image is from.
2. Information on how to contact you back (to receive Steam game gifts, etc) if you win.
That’s it!
**[Just a quick note to be careful not to include any information you do not wish to share ‘publicly’ when posting in the Comments area below or at Steam or sending a Twitter profile Tweet, as these messages are seen by ‘everyone’]


The first correct answer submitted by a Skillful Identifier/Gamer will receive this month’s contest prize – which is: a gifted game from the Steam online store!

[Note: Although I have been collecting Games on Steam over the past few Years, during Steam Sales,
due to how Steam has changed Gifting games through Steam recently, you will have to temporarily become a Friend
of TheBlog’s Steam Account (to receive the game – after receiving your Gifted Game, you may Unfriend of course)]
Winners will also be announced in bold, large lettered-text, here on this posting and will thereby be immortalized on The Intertubes in perpetuity, proving to all other comers that you were “The Ultimate Game Screenshot Guesser Thingy Person” [aka. Gamer]!

Previous Editions of this Contest [to ‘see how it works’] can be found at TheBlog, here:

Can You Guess Where The Screenshot Below Is From – Contest #1
Can You Guess Where The Screenshot Below Is From – Contest #2
Can You Guess Where The Screenshot Below Is From – Contest #3
Can You Guess Where The Screenshot Below Is From – Contest #4

Are you ready? Here then, is the Screenshot image for this month, below:

[As you can see, the image is a portion of a full screen capture; but don’t worry – the image used for the contest will never be ‘too’ obscure or small (for example, it will never be ‘just the end of a wooden log’ or anything like that)]

After a week has gone by, if there is no correct guess as to what game the Screenshot is from, I will return here and put up a ‘Hint’ image – a larger portion of the Screenshot – to assist in Game Recognition-ing-ism…

Update!

A week has gone by and there have been no correct guesses received yet… So, here is a HINT image; (an enlarged area portion of the already-slightly-larger-than-normal CONTEST Screenshot for this month’s Contest)! Ready?

Here is the HINT image (with enlarged portion revealed), below:

[Click the Image to see it at a slightly-larger Full Size – and as you can see, the image is still a portion of the full screen capture; but don’t worry – the image used for the contest will never be ‘too’ obscure or small (for example, it will never be ‘just the end of a wooden log’ or anything like that)]

At the end of the Month, if noone has guessed correctly by then, I will return here and reveal the full Mystery Screenshot and the Game it was from – Good Luck, Gamers!

Update!
It has been two weeks since the Contest began and there have been no correct submissions! Aww….

To end The Mystery, here is the answer for February’s edition of
‘Can You Guess Where The Screenshot Below Is From’ (2018-02):


The Answer for this month’s Contest was: Just Cause 2!
[Captured in 2014, this Screenshot I took was back when I was playing games at 1600×900 – which is a ‘sweet spot’ I personally recommend [by my own testing] for Mid-Range GPUs (VideoCards). This was JC2 being played with a GTS 250, the ‘Black Knight Edition’ from ASUS which I paired at the time with an AMD X2 245, iirc**. Wow, I have been planning this identification game a long time – never getting around to it for a while of course – haha]
Click to see Full Size
Come back next 15th-of-the-month friends, when you can have another chance to be a Digital Screenshot Sleuth in the Sixth Edition of ‘Can You Guess Where The Screenshot Below Is From’ – and a chance to win the Prize that will be carried over to next time: a gifted game from the Steam online store!

See You In The Games!

[**Note: I am not affiliated in any way or degree with NVIDIA or AMD, and I have not and will not receive any compensation of any kind, for mentioning them here. I am merely an enthusiastic user of both companies’ products. I have utilized both and will continue to use both in the future ((on a personal note, I find I usually am ‘stairstepping’ with their GPUs, purchasing from one manufacturer, then the next ‘upgrade’ purchasing from the other, heh. I always Suggest to people who ask; to get whichever has Features you like – and only what you can afford at the time – it will be outdated in 3 years or so anyway; Enjoy what you have and be thankful because there are always people who have less!))]

(The Game Tips And More Blog Contest Game #2018-02)

And More: Deals and Sales – End Of The Month Specials (February)

The transition from February to March this year isn’t seeing a ‘ton’ of games on special sales, but there are a few deals on almost every gaming/dealer website (some are only on for the weekend and some last until the middle of March, see each sale you are interested in for details):

Steam, Valve’s storefront has a Spotlight Sale of Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army (1 & 2), which can be purchased together in bundles or 4-Packs to play with your friends and is their Weekend Deal:

Sniper Elite Nazi Zombie Army Sale Page
Sniper Elite Nazi Zombie Army 2 Sale Page

also on sale
Trine is on sale for only One Dollar (90% off), or get Trine 1&2 for $3.74
Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II: Retribution is on sale for $7.59 (75% off)
Alternativa is on sale for only $1.29 (90% off)
The Sims 3 is on sale for $7.99 for those who haven’t played it yet (60% off)
Kung-Fu Strike: The Warriors Rise is on sale for only $1.99 (80% off)
Moto GP 13 is $12.00 (70% off)

Gamefly, the storefront that you can also subscribe to (that took over Direct2Drive in 2011) has a few sales going on, one featuring all 2K Games titles at 75% off:

(click image to see Full Size)

also on sale
Bioshock is $4.99 (75% off)
Bioshock 2 is $4.99 (75% off)
Bioshock Infinite is $9.99 (67% off)
Borderlands, Game Of The Year Edition is $7.49 (75% off)
Borderlands 2, Game Of The Year Edition is $19.99 (50% off)
Duke Nukem Forever is $4.99 (75% off)
Civilization V is $7.49 (75% off)

GamersGate, the storefront formerly part of Sweden’s Paradox Interactive has a bunch of sales going on as well:

(click image to see Full Size)

also on sale
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is $9.72 (46% off)
with Battlefield 4 is out, Battlefield 3 is on sale for $4.99
Sniper Elite V2 is on sale for $7.50 (75% off) or get the
Sniper Elite V2 Collection (which includes: Sniper Elite V2, the Sniper Elite V2 Kill Hitler Pack, the Sniper Elite V2 The Neudorf Outpost Pack, the Sniper Elite V2 Original Game Soundtrack, and the Sniper Elite V2 The Landwehr Canal Pack DLC) all for $13.75 (75% off)
The Tropico Trilogy Bundle (which includes: Tropico, Tropico Paradise Island, Tropico 2 Pirate Cove, Tropico 3, Tropico 3 Absolute Power) all for just $4.99 (75% off)
and last but certainly not least
The Total War Master Collection bundle (which includes: Empire: Total War, The Medieval 2 Total War Collection (M2TW and the M2TW Kingdoms Expansion Pack), Napoleon: Total War™ Imperial Edition
Rome: Total War Gold Edition, Total War Battles: Shogun, Total War SHOGUN 2, the Total War Shogun 2 E-Guide, Total War Shogun 2 Fall of the Samurai, and Viking: Battle for Asgard) all for $25.00 (80% off, regular price $124.99!)

Once again, some of these are only on for the Weekend and some last until the middle of March, so check out the sale you are interested in for details. I hope you catch something you want – and See You In The Games!

Long Bean Benefits For Health

LONG BEANS BENEFITS FOR HEALTH

Long Beans Benefits For Health Long Beans are vegetables that very often we encounter in everyday dishes. Whether it’s for home cooking and restaurant cooking. There are also cook it in a way sauteed, but some are making to raw vegetables.
But despite the long beans so popular for the food, I’m sure not everyone knows about the nutritional value as well as the nutrients found in these vegetables. In fact, long beans have vitamins and minerals also are quite high which is also beneficial to health.
Long Bean Benefits For Health
So, to increase your knowledge about health, here we present an overview of the nutritional content of beans as well as health benefits.
Nutrient Long Bean
Long beans contain a variety of essential nutrients for your body, including:
As a Source of Protein
With a protein content that is at least 8.3 grams per 100 grams chickpea stew, the bean vegetable vegetables long become a source of vegetable protein in our body needs protein for every day.
Vitamin B Complex
In every 100 grams of beans boiled which contains 146 mcg of folate (37% requirement), 0.2 mg of thiamin (14% requirement); 0.1 mg vitamin B6 (5% requirement); and 0.1 mg of riboflavin (4% needs); 0.4 mg of pantothenic acid (4% requirement); serta0,6 mg niacin (3% requirement). Various vitamin B complex contained in the long bean is an essential nutrient for our bodies.
In general, vitamin B complex plays an important role in energy production and nerve function in our body, so vitamin B deficiency is usually characterized by fatigue and lack of energy.
Contain High Fiber
Long beans are vegetables that are rich in fiber. In every 100 grams of beans boiled, no fiber content up to 4 grams and meet 15% of our daily fiber needs. Fibers on long beans are available in the form of pectin, which is a soluble fiber, to very good in helping keep blood sugar at normal levels, as well as for normal fat metabolism.
Mineral content of Long Bean
Long Beans are also rich in various minerals, among others :
Containing Calcium
In Every 100 grams of beans boiled which contains 42 mg of calcium (4% requirement). Calcium is an essential mineral for the formation of bones and teeth healthy and strong as well, also for nerve and muscle function optimally.
Containing Iron
In Every 100 grams of beans boiled which contains 2.6 mg of iron (15% requirement). Iron is an essential component for the formation of enzymes for a variety of chemical reactions in the body, and forming the main component of red blood cells and cells
muscle.
Contains Magnesium
In Every 100 grams of beans boiled which contains 98 mg of magnesium (25% requirement), where the mineral content is very important for healthy bones and teeth, muscle and nerve function, as well as the activity of enzymes in the body.
Long Bean Benefits For Health
Containing Manganese
In Every 100 grams of boiled string beans also contain 0.5 mg of manganese (24% requirement). Manganese is essential for enzyme activity, and also for the metabolism of carbohydrates and joint health.
Containing Phosphorus
In Every 100 grams of beans boiled which contains 181 mg of phosphorus (18% requirement), which is also important in energy production and the formation of bones and teeth.
Containing Copper
In Every 100 grams of beans boiled which contains 0.2 mg of copper (11%). Copper is important for skin health, it also increases the body’s resistance to stress and disease.
Containing Potassium
In Every 100 grams of beans boiled which contains 315 mg of potassium (9% requirement), which is important for nerve function and also our muscles.
Containing Zinc
In Every 100 grams of boiled string beans also contain 1.1 mg of zinc and zinc (7% requirement). Zinc is a component of enzymes involved in the formation of red blood cells and bone.
Containing Selenium
In Every 100 grams of boiled string beans also contain 2.8 mcg selenium (4% requirement), where selenium is an essential mineral in the synthesis of the enzyme, which also acts as an antioxidant against free radicals in our bodies.

Well, that’s what some of the vitamins and minerals contained in the beans. For you who like to consume either in the form of beans and vegetables stir fry, continue the positive trend.

Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS)

Today the division between routers and switches is a fine line. Whereas switches were initially designed to help segment a LAN into multiple collision domains, and thereby allow you to extend the reach of a particular LAN topology, switches have moved higher up the networking ladder. When switching is used in a LAN to connect individual client and server computers, the process is known as microsegmentation, because the collision domain has been reduced to just the switch and the computer attached to a port. Switches at this level generally work using the hardware (MAC) addresses of the attached computers.

Layer 3 switching moves switching up the ladder by one rung by switching network frames based on the OSI Network layer address—an IP address, for example. But wait, that’s what a router does, isn’t it? Of course. A layer 3 switch is basically a router, but it implements most of its functions in application-specific integrated chips (ASICS) and performs its packet processing much faster than does a traditional router, which uses a microprocessor (much like a computer CPU) for this function.

Internet 2010

When you get to the top of the ladder, where large volumes of data need to be routed through a large corporate network—or the Internet, for that matter—even the fastest traditional routers or layer 3 switches easily can become bogged down by the volume of traffic. Because of this, the core of a large network traditionally has been built using ATM or Frame Relay switches, and IP traffic is sent over these switched networks.

To speed up the processing of routing packets at high-volume rates, a newer technology has been developing over the past few years and goes by the name of Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS). MPLS is covered in the next section.

Combining Routing and Switching

Traditional routers have a large amount of overhead processing they must perform to get a packet to its destination. Each router along the packet’s path must open up and examine the layer 3 header information before it can decide on which port to output the packet to send it to its next hop on its journey. If a packet passes through more than just a few routers, that’s a lot of processing time. Remember that IP is a connectionless protocol. Decisions must be made about a packet’s travel plans at each stage of its journey through the network. The solution to this problem lies in newer technology—high-speed switching. Specifically, Multi-Protocol Label Switching, which is discussed in the next section, combines the best of routing techniques with switching techniques.

When you look at concepts such as ATM or Frame Relay, which are connection-oriented protocols, this isn’t the case. Instead, virtual circuits (either permanent or switched) are set up to connect to endpoints of a communication path so that all cells (as in the case of ATM) or frames (as in the case of Frame Relay) usually take the same path through the switched network.

HOW TO DECORATE A KITCHEN MINIMALIST

A café is a place where people meet, talk and relax. The ambience of a café is loved by many people and that is why many of them visit one daily after work so that they can talk and share things with their friends and relax after the long day. One can decorate their kitchen with a café theme so that they have a coffee shop at home, or they feel the same. Creating the same theme as that of a coffee shop is a brilliant idea to add a different touch to the kitchen and make it nice and cozy also.

Minimalist Decorate a KitchenMinimalist Decorate a Kitchen

Decorating the kitchen with a café theme is not at all difficult or expensive as many would think it to be. People have two options when they want to incorporate a café theme; they can either completely change everything in the kitchen or they can use what is there, and use it and still create the theme. The things that one can use along with the colors and the final touches, is what matters the most.

A basic thing that one can add to the kitchen which will be useful also and will also help to create the café theme is to use a table with four chairs in the space. The chairs should be comfortable and for this one can add cushions to it. The table should not be crowded with too many things and under table you can opt for a modern carpet or rug.There are several types of these rugs you can get including wool area rugs, contemporary rugs and even discount area rugs that you can find online.The other thing that one can do easily is to paint the walls of a different color. The color should be bright and be chosen keeping in mind the natural light that comes in the kitchen.

Near the table that one keeps in the kitchen, one can place a book shelf and place some nice coffee table books or books of art and poetry. Another thing that can be done to create the café theme is that one should only be able to see things related to a coffee shop in the kitchen. The table should only have sugar and coffee beans etc, the counters should only have the appliances that are used in a coffee shop like the blender or the coffee maker. It is not that the kitchen cannot have other useful appliances; all that one needs to take care of is that these should be kept in the cupboards and should not be seen as this can ruin the café theme that one wants to create.

Happy New Year from The Game Tips And More Blog! [NewYears’ Greetings 2017]

“Happy New Year 2017 Greetings”
by The Game Tips And More Blog
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