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‘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’):
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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”]

July Currently

How did it get to be July already?!?!

I’m still recovering from 3 days of EdTech awesomeness at the ISTE conference and linking up with Farley at Oh’ Boy 4th Grade for this month’s currently.

Listening – My two-year-old has recently become obsessed with Sofia the First on Disney Jr. It’s a cute show, but not my favorite of the toddler choices…not that I’ve become a connoisseur of toddler TV or anything…

Loving – I started a garden last summer, but it became somewhat overgrown when Georgia had its monsoon season last summer, and it didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. This year, we’re in a new house, and while I don’t have the yard space (or HOA permission) for a full garden, I have space on my deck for a container garden. I’m growing bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, herbs, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and carrots, and they’re really coming along! My daughter and I check on them every afternoon, so it has become a fun summer project.

Thinking – This was my first year to attend ISTE, and I learned SO much. It was overwhelming, exhausting, and inspiring, and I just need a little time to process it all. I’ll start blogging tomorrow about some of the coolest stuff I learned.

Wanting – I’m moving into a new classroom this year, so I had to box up all of my stuff at the end of the school year. I’m hoping (*fingers crossed*) that it all got moved to the new room (in a different building on our campus) so I can begin unpacking soon.

Needing – I’m a little panicked that it’s July already. I have a lot of projects that are in various stages of completion, and while I know better than to think I’ll get them all done, I’d like to check a few more items off my list before I go back to school in a few weeks.

4th Plans – I’m looking forward to a three day weekend with my husband and daughter. We don’t have any big plans, but we may take Sydney to see her first fireworks extravaganza.

On a final note, as I prepare to move into my new classroom, I’m starting to think about decorating. The wall colors are very different in my new room, so my old stuff might not work. Here’s a quick pic of the new room from my Instagram account:

I’d love to hear your color schemes/decorating ideas if you have any! The move-in and shopping spree will start next week!

Have a great weekend!

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. 

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.

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)

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!

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!

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

Raise your hand if you’re a fan of traditional interior design schemes. Because today we are proud to present a wonderful house of fascinating details are located in Gothenburg, Sweden. Seen on Skeppsholmen, the project has a nice open living room, which covers the dining room, as well as the terrace and garden. On the second floor above the living room is furnished with a bedroom in the attic, and storage facilities well. Basement can accommodate storage / boiler room and laundry area with washing machine. The entire house is a charming and traditional, because of the presence of many moving parts in wood and other interesting colored decorations. We invite you to explore all and be inspired!

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS BEDROOM CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS BEDROOM CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS KITCHEN CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS KITCHEN CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS BATHROOM CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

TRADITIONAL DECORATIONS BATHROOM CHARMING HOME IN GOTHENBURG

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.

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™ !

MINIMALIST RA HOUSE DESIGN BY BAQUERATTA

The Minimalist RA House was designed a Tokyo company called Baqueratta.They have a good past in minimalist small residences.The entire house was furnished with modern and minimalist furniture.I love this house and I hope to have someone in future, but I especially like the bathroom.

Minimalist RA House Design by BaquerattaMinimalist RA House Design by Baqueratta

Minimalist RA House Design by BaquerattaMinimalist RA House Design by Baqueratta

Minimalist RA House Design by BaquerattaMinimalist RA House Design by Baqueratta

Minimalist RA House Design by BaquerattaMinimalist RA House Design by Baqueratta

Minimalist RA House Design by BaquerattaMinimalist RA House Design by Baqueratta

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.

CONCEPT KIDS ROOM PAINT COLORS DESIGN

KIDS BATHROOM PAINT COLORS

Looking for ideas for decorating Kids Room Paint Colors? Enter a space about the longevity of choosing background elements that are long lasting. Then use the equipment, bedding, area rugs and cheap to create themes easily hangeable. Unlike other rooms of the house, which mainly reflects your personality, decor rooms children requires slightly different approach. If you are a first time parent or a veteran, decorating baby rooms are not childs play.

This is a very complex process in which an adult is to incorporate all the safety features and mix with a childhood fantasy. The room is a device identification of the child, not yours. But the change of the children, then you need to think ahead: the design is easy to change a child of five years or two? There is room for storage, research, animal or doll collections, or a wrestling match?

First, consult with the child. Be sure to consider the child likes or dislikes when decorating their space. Decorating the kids room paint colors is a work in progress – planning begins before birth and continues throughout childhood. You can be as creative and on top of your child you are dynamic and playful colors work well in a child’s room. Always paint childrens rooms with a semi-gloss, if the walls are easy to dry without being too bright.

Regarding storage, check your local do-it-your-own for a wide range of affordable solutions. As children grow, learn, play and explore their environment should respond. Children will love the exciting makeover, because they focus on their preferred interests in all age groups. As your child grows, ask for their input for kids room paint colors.

KIDS ROOM PAINT COLORS
KIDS BEDROOM PAINT COLORS

cool little trailer with a hinged top

https://www.instagram.com/bikergeardotstore/

My trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Singapore, July 2010

This was my first trip on a budget airline (Air Asia); it definitely changed my opinion of budget airlines. This trip is more a business development and prospecting trip rather than an assignment. On the surface KL does look developed. However I have my doubts regarding the psyche of the Malaysians. I took in the usual site such as the Petronas Tower etc. The weather, the fauna and flora resembles Colombo; I did not enjoy the high humidity and the afternoon thundershowers.

Singapore was as usual (I have stopped counting the number of times I have been there) very orderly and hit the usual shopping and fun places. In my opinion the Singaporeans have not only developed in terms of the look and feel of the place but also in terms of the psyche of the people. I truly believe that they do think like westerners and the Japanese.

Let me give a classic example. As mentioned earlier I went to Malaysia and Singapore during the monsoon season and I made an observation. In KL when it rains; like in Sri Lanka the people stopped what ever they were doing and took shelter from the rain. Those who even had umbrellas took shelter as it appear they did not want to get there footwear wet.

However, in Singapore it was very different. I happened to be out one day early morning (going for a walk) when it started to rain. I was walking pasta a primary school and this is what I saw. A teacher was leading a group of very small children (6-7 years) who were clad in rain gear and they walked in a line and came out of the premises and they walked to the MTR station and got in to the train. Undoubtedly they were going on some sort of educational trip. What does this mean: In my opinion the Singaporeans are teaching their children to face obstacles and overcome / work around / find solutions to them. This is the essence of the psyche of an industrialized nation as opposed to an agrarian nation which generally accepts the affects of the elements as “gods will” or “karma”.

So even the very small children are trained to deal with a simple thing as the rain and have an attitude of using the right equipment to allow them to go about their daily business. So in adult life they do go and conquer the world economically.

I can certainly say that in Sri Lanka the vast majority of people have this agrarian psyche. Based on my observations it seems that quite a number of people in Malaysia still do too. So the challenge for those of us who have the privilege of influencing people is to; in some way contribute towards instilling the right attitude rather than anything else. I can say from my experience as a consultant and a trainer I derive more satisfaction in seeing this than my clients make huge profits. I say this because these individuals with the right attitude have the potential to influence / be a role model for the masses in these underdeveloped countries.

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.

Choose Your Poisons

Food additives vary tremendously in character, from diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic female hormone used to stimulate cattle growth by 15 percent and boost efficiency of feed by 12 percent, to butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), an antioxidant used to retard or prevent rancidity and flavor deterioration. Then there is glycerol monostearate, an emulsifying agent derived from partial decomposition of fats, which is used in making ice cream, and a wide variety of artificial coloring compounds (there are now thirty-three permitted in Britain, only nineteen in the EEC, ten in the U.S., and four in the U.S.S.R.). Much of our animal food is laced with antibiotics, which are given to retard meat spoilage. They are also used to suppress evidence of disease in animals that are raised in adverse circumstances and are, therefore, prone to illness. They offer no nutritional benefits.

There are three main ways that food additives can be threats to health: they can be carcinogenic (tending to produce cancer), teratogenic (tending to harm the unborn child in the womb), and mutagenic (tending to produce changes in the gene pattern which can be passed on to future generations). One can add the danger of producing genetic changes in the cell material which promote early aging in the body—of particular concern to a woman intent on preserving her youthfulness and good looks.

Diet Start

Government agencies try to regulate the safety of additives in fabricated foods, but judging from the Canadian and American records of failure and the number of permitted additives that have in recent years been suddenly whisked off the market, this is an impossible task. Only 60 percent of the additives used in Britain have been tested at all and even then only for acute toxicity—that is, to determine whether or not they bring immediate adverse reactions to an organism ingesting them—not for teratogenicity nor for possible genetic effects. In fact, there is simply no way for them to be tested. The tests that are done are carried out on animals, not humans, and as the thalidomide tragedy showed, a substance can appear quite safe from teratogenic effects in laboratory animals, yet result in tragic consequences for a human fetus.

But even our methods of testing are outdated. According to Ross Flume Hall, this is because we have all our assumptions wrong. “Both the standards of nutrition by which these foods are judged and the methods of toxicology used to determine their safety are outmoded nineteenth- century models,” he says. Nineteenth-century nutritional theory is based on the notion that all we need from food is protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals regardless of their source. It is unaware of the interrelationships in natural foods, and of the implications of possible nutrients as yet undiscovered (as with fiber until fifteen years ago) which may be vital for good health. “This limited concept of what constitutes nourishment persists,” says Hall, “even though it has been completely outmoded by the enormous advances in understanding of cell and molecular biology.”

The nineteenth-century toxicology still practiced today assumes that each chemical tested has its own level of toxicity. As long as one’s consumption of that chemical remains below that level, it says, one is safe. It gives no consideration to how different chemicals, tested separately, affect an organism when they are consumed together; nor is any thought given to the cumulative effects of taking a substance regularly over the years.

“What we are beginning to realize,” says Hall, “is that not only can chemicals poison in the short term, they can also cause long-term subtle and undetected changes in personal biology. These changes can show themselves in devastating ways such as cancer and other degenerative diseases and birth defects.”

Food additives are not the only problems with convenience foods either. Their simple nutritional worth is highly questionable. For in addition to their lack of fiber (natural fiber is largely removed in the manufacture of convenience foods), government surveys in Canada and the United States—where 80 percent of food eaten is now factory-produced —show that in spite of the great wealth of these countries and the availability to the public of a vast variety of foods, in general people are not getting enough vitamins and minerals in their diet. This is in large part because so many of the nutrients are lost in processing.

Researchers at Rutgers University experimented with frozen chicken pies to see what vitamin loss, if any, had taken place in the processing. They chose vitamin C levels. To their amazement, researchers found no vitamin C whatever in commercially prepared frozen pies. Then they added vitamin C to the pies and refroze them. When they were reheated two days later, three quarters of the vitamin had disappeared.

A random sampling of 6.5 million elderly people in Britain, in an investigation sponsored by the Ministry of Health, revealed that four out of five were suffering from vitamin deficiencies—a factor that is probably responsible for a large number of illnesses, including many mental disorders suffered by the elderly. According to Dr. Geoffrey Taylor, who has made a long study of the problem in Britain, “There is every reason to believe these deficiencies are present in other age groups of the population as well.”

These are a few of the reasons why the Lifestyle Diet does not include convenience foods. For lasting health and beauty you need the very best complement of nutrients you can get. The McCarrison Society, an organization of doctors and dentists in Britain dedicated to the study of the relationship between nutrition and health, issued a directive that expresses it very well: “Food should be left as close as possible to its natural state. It should be grown on healthy soil. Stored, canned, packaged or precooked food should, whenever possible, be replaced by fresh food. The protective value of a wide range of fresh vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy produce is particularly important. Cereal carbohydrates should not be refined and sugar consumption should be at an absolute minimum.” These are the basic principles of the Lifestyle Diet. Now let’s see how to put it all into practice.

The Nordic Hamstring Curl: Best Hamstring Exercise You are Not Doing!

There are many different hamstring exercises including variations of leg curls (seated, prone, and standing) along with several different hip hinge exercises that target the hamstrings (RDL, Single Leg RDL, etc).     These are all great exercises, but none of them can touch the Nordic Hamstring Curl for building eccentric strength and preventing hamstring injury in sprints and sport!
This is a tough exercise so warming up the hamstrings is essential.  Using other hamstring exercises first such as bodyweight hip hinges and light leg curls on a machine prior to this exercise do the trick nicely.   It is also a good idea to do some static stretches for anterior hips and hip flexors to shut them off which helps to allow for maximum hamstring activation.
To perform the Nordic Hamstring Curl you need to find a place to hook your heels under when you are in a double leg tall kneeling position so you will also need padding under your knees.     If you have a workout partner you can have them kneel behind you and hold onto both your legs right above the ankles keeping their arm straight so they can use their bodyweight to apply load as you let your body fall forward like this:   http://willlevy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Nordic-Curl.jpg.     You can also find something to hook your ankles under like the horizontal bar from a weight machine or barbell like this:   https://i.ytimg.com/vi/f_GdZKdwovA/maxresdefault.jpg or  this:   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/29/04/34/290434956cdd220cc8d6e0b18948cf3c.jpgor this:  https://www.t-nation.com/img/photos/2013/13-775-04/Nordic-Start.jpg
Keeping your hips flat (straight line from knees through hips and shoulders) – you lower your body down slowly until you can no longer hold your weight then catch yourself in push-up position and push back up:  https://simplifaster.com/articles/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/03/GHR.jpg.       You can also use a band during the exercise which provides progressively more assistance as you go lower towards floor to allow you to potentially perform the full range of the motion and come back up with the assistance of the band.    Then over time you gradually decrease the assistance of the band by user smaller and lighter bands.      This provides a good video of how you can do this by attaching a band overhead and behind you:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQm9rdzZlRk
There are also numerous machines designed for this exercise including:
http://www.roguefitness.com/floor-glute?prod_id=15905&gclid=Cj0KEQjwnazLBRDxrdGMx-Km4oQBEiQAQJ1q68P3rah0ZwofpsxOA-xSYl5_v9mtTSxSmuG5zIW1KUYaAvPW8P8HAQ
http://www.speedbottraining.com/glute-ham-machine/
http://www.gluteforce.com/
Here is a 6 week progression:
Week                   Sessions/Week                  Sets                       Reps                     Rest
1                                           1                            2                            5                            2 min.
2                                           2                            3                            5                            2 min.
3                                           2                            3                            6                            2 min.
4                                           2                            3                            7                            2 min.
5                                           3                            3                            8                            2 min.
6                                           2                            3                            9                            2 min.

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.

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).

And More: Deals and Sales – Guild Wars 2 is $24.99 Right Now

Woohoo! I have no idea when it started and no idea when it will end, but I just saw this with my own two eyes… if you are looking for one last reason to get GW2, it is now on sale for just under $25 American Dollars. That’s about £15 British Pounds if you are from the UK, руб890 Rubles if you are from Russia, 1500 Rupees if you are from India and what works out to be about $10,000,000 Canadian Dollars:

I just might get my own copy finally and be able to stop begging others to play theirs (you know who you are)… Go to http://buy.guildwars2.com/ to get it while it’s On Sale and See You In the Game!

My Travel Tips

I started traveling as a consultant form April of 2002. I have now completed ten years of travel. For my assignments I travel both economy and business class and use a variety of airlines. To commemorate my ten years of traveling I have compiled some travel tips. They are aimed at reducing the stress of modern travel to enable you to have a pleasant journey with the minimal amount of discomfort and hassle.



These are my top travel tips based on my travel experience since 2002 and the post 9/11 world. (E6K9HKXKPPNE)


Clothes and shoes


1. Do not wear a belt – this will help you to pass through security without having to go through the hassle of taking it off and putting it on. It also helps in blood circulation.


2. Do not wear any items of clothing which contain metal buttons, clips, labels etc.


3. Do not wear clothing with a lot of pockets – you can forget a coin or a key and will set off the metal detectors


4. Do not wear tight clothes this will cut your blood circulation and make the journey uncomfortable.


5. Don’t wear baggy clothes; wear comfortable cloths that are close to your body – lets face it you will be profiled no matter what they say; so wearing baggy clothes sets off alarm bells with the security personnel. They are more likely to pad down a person wearing baggy clothes as opposed to someone wearing well fitting clothes.


6. Try to wear slippers or sandals, if you feel clod wear a pair of socks with the slippers or sandals. If you need to wear shoes wear thin sole shoes (without any metal fittings) with no shoelaces. This will either negate the need to take off your shoes or make it easy to take off and put on shoes


7. Try to dress in the thinnest possible layers of clothes instead of wearing / carrying bulky heave jackets / coats so that you can remove or add depending on your level of comfort. Thin clothes weigh less take less space in your hand luggage / carry on luggage.


Money and Travel Documents


1. Do not carry any coins. If you must carry coins in a small transparent plastic bag and put the coins in a pocket of your carry on luggage.


2. Always carry more than one currency: example if you travel via to London to USA carry British Sterling Pounds as well as Dollars.


3. Try to pre pay for as many expenses as possible before departure. This helps to minimize the amount of money you need to carry, as well as be able to bargain to the maximum and not be made to decide on the spot about your travel options. Use the internet and always cross check and read reviews of restaurants, taxi service and other services you are likely to pay for in cash so that you don’t get taken for a ride.


4. Carry globally accepted credit cards as a payment option and for emergencies.


5. Always take travel insurance; you never know when you might fall sick or get injured.


6. Always carry your passport, visa, travel insurance, hotel reservations, travel vouchers, invitation letters, letters of sponsorship etc in one safety pouch / folder. This way you don’t have to look for them in multiple places. Keep them safe and close to you.


7. Never ever give the bag containing these documents to anyone (except your family or personal assistant / colleague).


8. If you are using a VIP service to breeze through emigration and customs make sure that you have line of sight of the person at all times. Confidence tricksters pretending to be service providers will walk off with your belongings.


Baggage


1. First check the weather of your destination (12 hours before departure – weather forecasting gets better when nearer to the dates concerned.)


2. Finalize your clothes 12 hours before you travel, based on above.


3. Choose clothes that can be mixed and worn: Take white shirts / blouses which can be worn with any pants / skirts and jackets. Take a few different ties / scarf and accessories so that you look different but use the least number of clothes. I am a firm believer in the use of hotel laundry services. I prefer to get the items laundered at the hotel and avoid carrying your entire wardrobe with you when you travel. Make sure that you as well as the hotel has a clear understanding of the difference between dry cleaning and washing of clothing items.


4. Try to use the minimum number of bags as possible.


5. Golden rule is that: if you do not need an item during the journey / flight, then it goes in with the check in luggage. One of the benefits of the post 9/11 world is that the airline industries ability to track and link you baggage to you has improved tremendously. So you do not have to carry any back up clothes in your hand luggage just in case your luggage gets lost.


6. If you do not have any check in luggage then you need to ask the question do I really need to carry the item or can I buy it at my destination and use it. Remember most consumables (Soap, Shampoo, Mouth wash etc) are similarly priced everywhere and most hotel now provide them in the room). It’s worth trying a new brand of an item to reduce the weight and hassle of taking them in 50 ML clear bottles etc.


7. Have a good idea of your baggage allowance. Especially if you fly economy class; it may change from airline to airline. The rule of thumb is that if it is difficult for you to carry your check in baggage (Standard international size) it is probably over weight. An average person can easily handle 20Kg. Use this principle when standing in check in queues. Avoid standing in queues with people who have difficulty in handling their luggage. They will take longer to check in as they will have to pay for excess luggage or repack them.


Loyalty Cards


1. Try to get as many loyalty cards as you can. Before you embark on your journey have the relevant loyalty cards sorted out and keep them with your travel documents and put the rest in you carry on luggage. You never know when they may become handy.


2. In my opinion the top benefits of loyalty cards are:


a. Priority check in – the shorter the queue you need to stand in the less stressful it is to you.


b. Excess baggage allowance – you never know when you might need it, especially if you travel with your wife / partner who will shop while you are attending to business.


c. VIP services for priority emigration and customs clearance.


d. Access to a lounge with free broadband internet connection


I recommend you go for loyalty cards that provide at least one of these benefits and not bother with ones that just offer air miles for ticket discounts and free food.


Hotels


1. Where ever possible I recommend you insist on staying in an establishment with at least a 3 star classification. This should provide good enough comfort & facilities for a business traveler. However I have come across many hotels which are classified as 3 stars but are more like cattle sheds. If clients and budgets permit always stay at the highest class hotel in your destination.


2. The main facilities you should be looking for when selecting a hotel are:


a. Airport pick up and drop


b. Free broadband internet access


c. Complementary pressing of one set of clothes per day (shirt / blouse, trouser / skirt & Jacket) + shoe shine.


d. Free copy of the local English newspaper – This is a helpful tool to get a feel of the local environment, best places to dine and entertainment information and of course to get an insight in to what’s happening around you.


3. Always stay as close as possible to your customers / clients. This will reduce local travel time and getting stuck in local traffic, which you may not know about or will not be able to find out before arriving at your destination. Best is to stay within walking distance. By this you can avoid the need to haggle with taxi drivers every morning and evening if meter taxis are not available.


4. I recommend you stay on B & B basis; this gives you a lot of flexibility to move around the city and meet the locals during meal times. This will also help you get a feel of the general business environment, mood of the people as well as get exposed to the local culture.


Flights


1. Always use major airlines where possible. The trend now is to go for budget airlines. I too subscribe to this philosophy but with a few considerations. They are:


a. Safety – As with all one needs to be comfortable with the safety systems of the airline. Some budget airlines operate state of the art new aircraft, while others operate others which do not have a good safety record. So each of us need to make this choice for ourselves.


b. Reliability – Other than Europe and North America budget airlines are not regulated in a way they are liable for delays and cancellations. Unless you have a very good insurance policy you may run the risk of having to incur the cost of delayed and cancelled flights, additional hotel and transfer costs. Budget airlines will cancel / delay / amalgamate passenger manifests for flights if they do not have the desired number of passengers for a flight to minimize losses.


Major airlines will operate scheduled flights, and if for any reason they do cancel a flight they will look after the passengers better and try to route you to your destination with the minimum hassle.


2. Try not to use domestic airlines. As much as possible try to get to and from your destination via an international flight. Changing to domestic airlines may be cheaper but you need to consider the following:


a. How much time do you loose and is it worth. Most domestic flights operate at much lower altitudes and will fly at a lower speed. International flights will fly higher and faster and can provide you with considerable time savings.


b. You may have to go through immigration in one airport and through customs in another airport. This may actually take a longer time.


c. You will increase you total transit time (Time spent not flying) and for a business person time is money.


d. You may need to move your luggage over long distances between domestic and international terminals.


e. You may need to pay again for excess baggage


f. Domestic airlines too will cancel / delay / amalgamate passenger manifests for flights if they do not have the desired number of passengers for a flight to minimize losses.


g. Most domestic airlines operate very old aircraft which may have a bad safety record.


Jet Lag


1. Living in the destination time zone – From the time you start your journey try to do things such as taking meals and sleeping according to the destination time zone. This will give your body extra time to adjust to life in the new time zone. Most airlines try to do this using the cabin lights to mimic the time of day. Unfortunately only the modern aircraft have this feature.


2. Drinking fluids. – You must be well hydrated 24 hour before the flight, So refrain from:


a. Heavy exercises that make you loose water through excessive sweating


b. Drinking too much alcohol the day before you travel.


3. Reduce the build up of static electricity on your body and clothes. Once at your choice of accommodation at your destination find a wooden or cement / tile floor. Take off your shoes and socks and walk on the surface for a few minutes. The best solution is walking on grass however this may not be possible at your destination. However this may be an option for you on your return to your home.

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.

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!

The Easiest Way to Implement a Classroom Economy

As my life continues to get crazier, I am constantly looking for ways to simplify and improve the things that I do. This year, for example, I decided to merge Class Dojo with my classroom economy, and so far, it’s going very well! Here are some of the tweaks I made to make this merger work.

My Classroom Economy

I’ve been using a classroom economy since I started teaching, and every year, I make a few tweaks. The basic idea is that every student applies for a class job at the beginning of each term (our terms are 6 weeks long). I’ve previously posted about my classroom jobs here. I display the jobs in my classroom so that we’re constantly reminded who is responsible for what. This year, I’ve used a pocket chart for my classroom jobs (sorry for the blurry photo).

I used to give students $100/week as their salary, or about $20 per day. They’d have weekly and monthly expenses, and then they could use any remaining money to purchase items in our class store. The complete program is detailed in my Classroom Economy Megapack on TpT.

I love the system, but I felt like I wasn’t as consistent as I wanted to be in tracking student behaviors to give fines or bonuses, and there were many Friday afternoons when I was so involved in whatever we were working on that day, that I just didn’t leave enough time for them to shop. 
Meanwhile, I was dabbling with Class Dojo, and I wanted to figure out a way to tie that in as well. If you’re not already familiar, Class Dojo is an online behavior management system that allows you to give and take away points from students. You can create your own categories for points, and you can access the class info from any device — laptop, computer, iPad, iPhone, etc. I liked that portability because I always have one of those devices in my hands, and I could give or take away points without really interrupting what I was doing. 
The solution came for me this year when Class Dojo allowed for the creation of weighted point values! Before, you could only give or take away a single point at a time. Now you can create points on a scale of 1-5 and weight particular behaviors accordingly. This is done in the set-up for behaviors. 
1. Go to Edit Class on your class screen and select “Edit students and behaviors.”


2. Select “Behaviors” and either click on one of the exiting behaviors, or the plus symbol to customize the behaviors.


3. Change the icon (optional), name or rename the behavior, and then click the box to access a pull down menu of point values to weight that item.

And that’s it! You can weight both the positive and negative behaviors according to your needs. Here are the settings I have now for my classroom economy.

I basically divided the $100 weekly salary by 10, and scaled everything else back the same way. Students now get 2 points daily for their salary (10 points per week) and bonuses for different behaviors. The only other positive behavior that I’ve weighted more currently is helping others because I’m really trying to encourage that in my classroom. I’m also going to add a +4 for a class compliment because I like when they do a good job with other adults in the building.

For negative behaviors, I deduct more points for breaking rules outside of my classroom and for disrespecting people or materials. I also now deduct their taxes and rent through Class Dojo, and when they shop, I deduct their points in here. I price everything in multiples of 2, but then I found that I wanted a -5 shopping once they had enough points for some of the larger ticket items in our class store. I dislike that it shows up in the “Needs Work” tab, but I don’t think it’s a problem overall. The parents know what is happening from the descriptors, and we just talk about it in class from the stance of making or spending money. It’s the easiest way to deduct some points without resetting the points entirely.

Since transitioning to this modified system 7 weeks ago, my classroom economy has become more accurate and effective in a fraction of the instructional time. Class Dojo has replaced the clip chart that I used to use, and it helps with some of the accounting. I’m still using the bulk of the resources from my Classroom Economy Megapack, however.

If you’re interested in trying out Class Dojo with the rest of my Classroom Economy Megapack, I’ll be offering the product on sale at half price through Tuesday. It is one of my best sellers, and if you’re looking to change up your classroom management routines or enhance your existing classroom economy, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I’ve also discounted the rest of my TpT store 20% to celebrate my return to blogging after a busy start to the school year. Those sale prices will go now through Tuesday, so check them out!

Join the Mailing List! 

Did you know that I have a mailing list so that you’ll never have to miss a post? Use the link at the top right of this page (under Never Miss a Post) to subscribe to my mailing list. You’ll get my posts delivered to your inbox, and you’ll also get access to some extra resources that I’ll be offering to my mailing list only. Given that my PhD work has really cut in to my blogging time this past year, the mailing list is the best way to make sure you see my new content. I promise not to spam you or share your contact information ever. 
Have a great week!

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:

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!

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.

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.

Spotted in a hoarders driverway

the front yard was covered in a variety of junk.

Just run across this while out walking about. I think behind it’s a Corvette, and in front of it was a 1990 is Firebird GTA 

My Trip to Bangladesh Cont…..

The assignment is proceeding well, the evaluation questions have been designed and the questionnaire and show cards are prepared and translated in to Bangla. I will be using an “In Depth” interviewing technique. The evaluation itself has 2 aspects to it. Firstly; to looking at the internal mechanisms which either makes them effective or not as the case may be (As an internal service provider) and; secondly, getting conformation from outside the Unit (As an external service provider) to establish if they were effective. The main internal interviews have been conducted and now I have to conduct the external interviews. The external interviews are going to be held in the districts of Dinajpur, Nilphamari and Lalmonirhat. I will have to undertake an 8 hour journey over road to get to Sayedpur where I will be based. Hope to get back to Dhaka on the 15th.

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.

Trip to Hyderabad Cont

The day of leisurely travel to Hyderabad turned in to an interesting experience for me. Here’s how it went.

There were of course no issues in getting to the Airport or getting checked in. At the checking counter I asked the Jet Airways staff if there were any restrictions of taking a bottle of liquor to India. At which point I was told “NO SIR”. When I checked in however they were unable to check my baggage through to Hyderabad since I was changing from International to Domestic (Still Jet Airways) I was told that I need to put my bag through customs at Chennai.

Things went smoothly from there; got through Immigration, went and bought 500ML bottle of Black Label, went through security, boarded and arrived in Chennai on time. Jet airways must be congratulated for on time flights between Colombo and Chennai. Their service too was quite good.

Things turned in to a big process when I got to Chennai. First I had to go through Immigration, it was smooth, then through Customs, also no issue, then physically had to come out of the International Terminal and go in to the Domestic Terminal. I was told that Jet Airways staff would be there to guide the transfer passengers, however there were no staff and there were no sings to direct. I asked for instructions and got to the Jet Airways counter without any trouble. Yes I did change some money as well. At which point I was told that I need to put my luggage through the security scanner again so had to Drag my bag to the end of the terminal and re-put the bag through the security scanner (X-Ray) then had to come back and join the line to check the bag in for a second time. Luckily there weren’t many passengers in line. While I was doing this I was also carrying the Duty Free Bag with the bottle of liquor inside it and in plain sight of the Jet Airways staff.

So I checked in the bag and went to the Taj Restaurant to quench my thirst; well things really went wrong there, apparently for some Gandhi commemoration the bar was closed. I thought I was back in Sri Lanka where for any frivolous thing they close all the bars. Never mind survived on a cool fresh lime soda.

When it was time for me to go through the security to board the domestic flight I had to put all my hand luggage again through the security… nothing new I guess. Then came the surprise they said “Sir you cant take wine in the plane, you have to put it into the main luggage” I promptly pointed out to the security guy that I am connecting from a International flight and that I did bring the bottle on board as hand luggage and I was told that it was allowed by the airline staff the time of boarding. “No sir it is not allowed in domestic flights” came the answer right back at me. Knowing not to argue with them went back to the counter. Then the fun started….. apparently the process was that they had to get my checked in luggage out of the cargo container put the bottle back in to the check in luggage then re scan the luggage through the X-Ray machine and so on. No drink can be worth all that trouble. They also agreed with me that the bottle might break in the luggage and I will have to wear a whiskey perfume during my stay in India.

So I was on the verge of throwing the bottle down the drain when one of the assistants who help with the luggage suggested to the girl at the counter to check the bottle in as a separate piece of luggage. That was funny; I had a grin in my face because it sounded ridiculous. But guess what, he got a small box put the bottle in, taped it up, put fragile stickers on it, and got the girl to weigh it. Guess what, the scale returned a value of zero kilograms. I thought now they are going to make a fuss again, but to my surprise no they checked in a weight of 2 KG the minimum weight of a check in luggage (Good to know I thought) and gave me a baggage tag. So I thought this is all going to be a waste as the bottle is surly going to break. So deciding to ignore a package with a streak of whiskey behind it at the Hyderabad Airport baggage belt went through the security and got in to the boarding area.

Then came the next surprise, the flight was delayed for two and a half hours. Man now I know why they don’t allow liquor in the domestic flights as they are apparently always delayed and they don’t want disgruntled customers having a few to get over their frustrations of having to wait for an eternity. Well that is the consensus of the few guys I got chatting to.

Finally the plan did arrive and I made it to Hyderabad. Went to collect the luggage and to my surprise the small box did make it intact. When I saw that it brought a grin to my face so get to the hotel and yes had a drink and went to sleep. So now from tomorrow morning I will be busy with the assignment. Looking forward to it.

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.

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.

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…

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.

WORKOUT ANYTIME on Entrepreneur.com

Bill Aicklen, owner of four WORKOUT ANYTIME locations in Georgia, was recently featured in Franchise Players, Entrepreneur.com’s Q&A interview column! Bill discusses his background as a franchisee, challenges he’s faced and why he chose WORKOUT ANYTIME as the business model to get behind. Read the full interview here!

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.]

My Trip to Bangladesh June 2011. Cont…..

The assignment is now over; managed to progress the milestones without much trouble given that I lost a total of 4 days to strikes. The draft evaluation report was well accepted by the client; now comes the tricky part getting comments on the report. There are basically 2 types of comments that a consultant is likely to get on a report. The first being, comments regarding the structure / formatting and style of the report and some times regarding the language. We have all had different educations and are used to a particular vocabulary; further at some point in our lives we have written a report and we generally stick to that structure while accommodating subject related topics. My rule of thumb is that I give in to these requests as it is just not worth the discussion regarding it. I prefer to use that time for some thing else. The second being, comments regarding the contents such as findings, recommendations etc. Here I generally play hard ball, unless I am presented with an argument backed by facts / proof. This goes to the hart of your position as an independent, unbiased professional consultant. I look forward to these comments as they challenge your thinking and help you to be a better consultant as well. I am supposed to get all the comments by next Friday as the end of the assignment / submission of the final report scheduled after 2 days of receiving all the comments.
During my last week in Dhaka my health deteriorated (food poisoning). My fault for eating some pastries (short eats) offered to me during a meeting. Momentary laps of concentration. . I have been coming to Bangladesh since 2006 and this is the first time this happened to me. My dread was the journey back to Colombo which I made with the aid of Imodium. I know this drug is banned in some countries but it is a life saver when traveling.
I do not have any other assignments lined up at this moment. Now that I am back in Colombo I need to tie up some outstanding issues. These are in fact 3 reports, 1) finalizing the report for the current Bangladesh Assignment, 2) finalize the Strategic Plan for my client in Batticaloa and 3) Submit a reflection I did for myself for the institute of consulting.

Ten Risk Factors That Cause Food Reactions (1-5)

The primary cause of most food reactions is incomplete digestion. At almost every meal, we eat foods that we don’t completely digest. The results are disastrous. When we eat foods we can’t digest, we almost always have some type of reaction.

Food that isn’t completely digested can enter our systems in large food macromolecules that cause a great deal of trouble. The body perceives these macromolecules of partly digested food as foreign invaders, similar to bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Then the body attacks them with the full force of the immune system.

This immune inflammatory attack creates the symptoms that you hate: fatigue, weakness, heartburn, aching joints and muscles, nasal stuffiness — and false fat.

There are several factors that most often cause incomplete digestion. To get started on the False Fat Diet, you’ve got to understand these factors and avoid them. In order of importance, here they are.

Risk Factor 1. We eat too narrow a range of foods.

It’s estimated that the average person gets about 75 per cent of his or her calories from just ten different foods. Most of us have our favourite foods, such as wheat and dairy products, and we rely on them far too much. When we overeat any one food, we exhaust our body’s ability to fully digest it.

Diet Start

Risk Factor 2. We eat too many fake foods.

We eat synthetic foods, such as fake fat and artificial sugar, that are manufactured in factories. No wonder we can’t digest this stuff! Furthermore, most of our packaged foods have been crammed with chemicals that human bodies cannot adequately metabolize. Often, a synthetic food has a long shelf life precisely because it can’t be broken down by nature.

Risk Factor 3. We have digestive enzyme deficiencies.

Many people are dangerously low in the enzymes that digest food. Even when these people eat healthy foods, they don’t have enough pancreatic enzymes to break the foods down properly.

Millions of people haven’t been genetically endowed with the right digestive enzymes to thrive on a modern, industrialized diet. For example, African Americans are ten times more likely than Caucasians to lack the enzyme that breaks down milk. Because a lack of enzymes is a common problem, the False Fat Diet generally includes supplementation with specific enzymes.

Another cause of enzyme insufficiency is our failure to ingest the natural enzymes that exist in foods. Many whole, unprocessed foods automatically come with the enzymes that are needed to help digest them, but before we eat these foods, we often kill the enzymes by cooking, processing, irradiation, and storage.

Because it’s important to eat foods with live enzymes still in them, patients on the False Fat Diet tend to eat a lot of fresh, whole, raw foods.

Another critically important digestive substance that millions of people lack is stomach acid, or hydrochloric acid. Unfortunately, production of this acid decreases as we age, which is why indigestion is more common among older people. Many people mistakenly think they have too much stomach acid, because they often get heartburn — but the opposite can be true. Heartburn can also be a sign of low acid. When you don’t have enough existing stomach acid from day to day, your stomach secretes too much when you eat to make up for the deficiency. Later on, I’ll tell you how to fix this deficiency.

Risk Factor 4. We eat food that is too refined.

Too much of our food is stripped of fibre and then shredded, pulverized, powdered — and finally stuck back together again with gluey fillers. By the time we eat it, it’s not much more than a predigested mush of starch and sugar. Unfortunately, this excessive processing often allows the food to rush into the bloodstream before it undergoes the complete digestive process. If this ‘predigested’ food still had its fibre, it would stay in the gut long enough to be fully digested, or it would be carried all the way through the system by the fibre and eliminated. Because of this factor, I urge people to avoid overly refined foods.

Risk Factor 5. We create our own intestinal problems.

One of the most common and harmful of these problems is a condition that allows undigested food macromolecules to slip through the intestinal wall. This condition is called ‘leaky gut syndrome,’ and doctors have only recently realized how hazardous it is. A leaky gut‘s wall is more permeable than it should be.

This permeability can be caused by eating chemical additives and also by drinking coffee or alcohol with meals. If you’ve noticed that you most frequently have food reactions when you have a cocktail with dinner or coffee with breakfast, you may have leaky gut syndrome.

Another primary cause of leaky gut syndrome is overgrowth of the natural yeast Candida albicans. Candida is usually present in the body and is mostly found in the mucous membranes — especially those in the intestines. It normally stays in balance with other healthy bacteria, but it can get out of control and increase gut wall permeability. It proliferates if you:

  • Take antibiotics, which kill all bacteria.
  • Take birth control pills.
  • Take steroid drugs.
  • Eat foods, such as sugar, that cause yeast to multiply.
  • Eat things that contain lots of yeast, such as bread and beer.
  • Have impaired immunity.

Candida is a major cause of bloating and often causes a ‘beer belly’ look. In fact, I think that many heavy beer drinkers with beer bellies aren’t nearly as far as they look, but are just swollen with candida, reactive gas, and fluids. I had one patient who lost his beer belly in a matter of days on the False Fat Diet. He was thrilled with his quick response, and it motivated him to stay with the diet.

Reminder: Diablo II – 2014 Ladder Reset is May 27th

That’s right, this is just a quick reminder that tomorrow is the Diablo 2 Ladder Reset for 2014!
So get ready – stock up on energy drink and tell your friends you won’t see them much for the next while – and get on that Ladder! Have fun playing, my wonderful readers – and enjoy being on the Top Of The Heap
(at least until the botters get going)
See You In The Games!

Math Resources for Teachers

It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks! I went on a mini-vacation to a wedding in Nashville, and then I attended a 3-day workshop on The Role of Mathematics in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. I think this is the summer of math learning for me! I love attending workshops because I almost always leave with new ideas and new resources to explore. Even if you don’t work at an IB school, there were lots of useful resources worth exploring.

(Apologies in advance — this will be a long post!)

Book Resources

A Mathematical Passage: Strategies for Promoting Inquiry in Grades 4-6

This book was featured because of it’s Mathematician’s Bill of Rights on p. 139. The Bill of Rights lists the “rights” that all mathematicians have — things like “solve problems in ways that make sense to me” and “capitalize on mistakes as sites of learning.” I’m definitely interested in reading more from this book. I’ve read other things by David J. Whitin before, and they’ve been great.

Math Matters: Understanding the Math You Teach Grades K-8

I had a chance to browse this book during the workshop, and it looks like a good one for understanding how to approach math conceptually. May not be the most exciting read in the world (would you look at that front cover?!), but it looks like a very useful book if you’re going for an inquiry oriented math classroom.

Good Questions for Math Teaching



This book is great for creating open-ended questions that will really get students thinking about the math involved in problem solving rather than just looking for a specific answer. It uses questioning techniques to develop more sophisticated mathematical thinking, and it has a wealth of information.

Number Talks

I was a little surprised how many teachers at the workshop were already familiar with this book and using it given that I’m usually up on all the latest and greatest math books, but nevertheless, this book had rave reviews. Of all the books that I’m reading this summer, this is the one that I suspect will have the biggest impact on my teaching this August. I’ve really enjoyed reading it, and I have so many ideas about how I will put it into practice this year. If you haven’t gotten it already, I couldn’t recommend it more!

Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction



I know I’ve talked about this book before, but we spent a lot of time talking about open questions and parallel tasks at the workshop, so I had to share this book again. I used this book non-stop at the end of the school year, and I loved how it was so perfectly aligned to Common Core in math. It couldn’t be more teacher-friendly.

Online Resources

Visible Thinking Routines

I’ve been introduced to the Visible Thinking Routines from Harvard’s Project Zero before, but it was good to be reminded about them. These are some great activities to prompt student discussions and thinking. One example of this is “OTQ – Observe, Think, Question.” For this activity, students see a picture and spend a few minutes describing what they see/observe. Anything they observe has to be rooted in the picture and not based on inferences. Step 2 is “Think” – what does this make you think about? This is where students can share their inferences and cite evidence in the picture to support why they think that. Finally, students “question” and share what they wonder about based on the picture. I like that these routines slow down student thinking.
Math Class Needs a Makeover

We watched this video in the workshop, and if you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend that you take the 10 minutes to watch Dan Meyer’s TED Talk. In it, he talks about the problems with current approaches to math instruction — largely fueled by larger textbooks and math programs — and how to turn those materials into the types of problems that will challenge your students to become patient problem solvers. I was really inspired by this video, and I hope that you will be, too.

Have a great weekend! I’ll be back to blogging more regularly next week!



Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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.

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!).

9 Benefits of Orange Jasmine for Health and Beauty

9 BENEFITS OF ORANGE JASMINE FOR HEALTH AND BEAUTY

9 Benefitsof Orange Jasminefor Health and BeautyOrange jasmine (Murraya paniculata L.) usually grows wild on the edge of the forest, in the undergrowth, and guardrail garden and planted as an ornamental plant in the yard. Such as ylang and jasmine flowers, yellow flowers are also often used for traditional medicine. Parts of plants that can be used is the leaves, twigs and roots. Skins and stems are also useful for medicine.
Leaves and twigs are useful in overcoming inflammation of the testicles (orchitis), could also overcome inflammation of the airways (bronchitis), urinary tract infections, gonorrhea, vaginal discharge, and come irregular menstruation, body fat overload, and slimming the body, pain ulcer (ulcer), dental pain and soften the skin.
9 Benefits of Orange Jasmine for Health and Beauty - 1
Its roots are also useful for treating bruises caused by collision or hit, rheumatic pain, sprains and insect bites and poisonous snakes, boils, eczema and scabies. While the bark is also useful to overcome tooth pain, pain due to open sores in the skin or mucous membranes (ulcers).
1. Can Smooth Skin
Yellow leaves are still fresh as much as 30 g washed and then pounded until creamed. Add 1 cup of water was while in the mix with the average. The material is then scrub the skin before bedtime.
2. Can Smooth Menstruation
Yellow leaves and leaves of henna (Lawsonia inermis) each fresh ingredients as many handheld ½, 1 finger rhizome of ginger leaves, washed and cut into pieces as needed. Add 3 cups water was then boiled until the remaining 1 cup water. After the cold filtered water, then drink 2 times a day, each ½ cup.
3. Treating Urinary Tract Infections
Yellow leaves are still fresh as much as 35 g washed and then add 3 cups water. Boil until the water remaining half. After all cold filtered and taken 3 times a day, each is ½ cup.
4. Inflammation of the Testicles
Provide 9 sheets of yellow leaves are still fresh as much as 60 g and bitter herbs as much as 35 g washed and then boiled in 3 cups water until the remaining 1 cup water. Once everything is cold filtered, then taken 2 times a day, each ½ cup. Do it every day until cured.
9 Benefits of Orange Jasmine for Health and Beauty - 2
5. Can Slimming Body
Yellow leaves are still fresh and the leaves of noni (Morinda citrifolia) each and a total of a handful of Intersection dribbles too much as half a little finger until finely ground. Add 1 cup cooking water, stirring until evenly distributed. Wring with a piece of cloth. Water that is collected while drunk in the morning before eating.
6. Can Treat Toothache
Oil that comes out of the bark of yellow flowers are already burned dripped on the hollow.
7. Can Treat Arthritic Joints
Orange Jasmine root and root (Lantana camara) washed, then add 3 pairs of chicken legs. And all the ingredients are cut into pieces as needed and then add enough water to be submerged. All the ingredients are then cooked. Once cooked and the water is drunk warm.
8. Can Heal Bruises
Orange Jasmine and glass plate, respectively, and the fresh leaves, the same lots, washed and then finely ground. Add some wine while stirring on a fire. Then Warm taped at the bruised body.
9. Can Treat Boils
Dried yellow root that is as much as 30 g washed and cut into pieces as needed. Boil 3 cups of water until the water boiled only the remaining l glasses. Once cool then filtered then drink. In day 2 times, each ½ cup.

Okay, that was it some yellow flowers benefits as a traditional medicine to cure various diseases. Hopefully article 9 Benefits of Orange Jasminefor Health and Beautycan 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.

The Best Text for Teaching How to Write and Revise Leads

My fourth graders hate revision. They’re often offended by the mere suggestion that they hadn’t nailed the perfect lead to their stories in their first draft.

I’m used to this. I see it every year in writer’s workshop, especially at the beginning of the year when we’re writing in a genre for the first time.

And every time I see this, I become more determined to break them of this thinking.

Today, we were working on the Common Core State Standard W.4.3a – Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.

My favorite story to use for this is standard — especially with fourth graders — is The Teacher’s Funeral by Richard Peck.

This book, set in a small Indiana town with a one-room schoolhouse, has the best opening line of a children’s book ever.

If your teacher has to die, August isn’t a bad time of year for it. 

Richard Peck keeps it going from there, building an incredible introduction. You can read the entire first chapter here.

Today, I started our writing lesson by reading this chapter to them. I have the Kindle edition of the book, so when I read it, I can project it on our ActivBoard so the students can follow along as I read. They laughed throughout the intro and were immediately hooked, begging me to choose this as our next chapter book read-aloud. Score one for the objective of “hooking your readers!”

I then asked them how many of them thought that introduction was the one that was in the first draft of his book.

One or two hands went up.

Richard Peck shared in an article called “In the Beginning” (Horn Book Magazine, September 2006, pp. 505-508) that it normally takes him 24 drafts of his lead before he’s happy with it. TWENTY-FOUR!

And here I’m asking my students to take a second pass at their writing.

I shared that little nugget with my students before we reread the first chapter. As we read if for a second time, we focused on the characteristics of his writing that made it such a great lead.

Here’s what my students noticed, compiled into an anchor chart:

Once we finished the chart, I had them go back to a piece of writing they’ve been working on and try to write a different introduction. Some students tried changing the point of view, others jumped into the action or started with dialogue. Whatever the strategy, all of them managed to produce a new version of their introduction, and all were at least a little better than what they’d started with.

We’ll get this revising thing down eventually…

What are some of your favorite books to use to teach students how to hook their readers? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Who needs to curb the carbs?

It goes without saying that everyone should consider cutting out refined sugar and flour products, plus high levels of processed foods that are full of junk fats, as they are nutritionally redundant in the human body. You should also consider giving up caffeine and moderating your alcohol intake, particularly if you suffer from any of the symptoms of unstable blood sugar and insulin resistance.

Many people are not even aware of the symptoms of eating too many refined and dense carbohydrates. They have become used to living in what I call ‘the discomfort zone’. They have forgotten what it is like to wake up full of energy, think it’s normal to feel bloated after meals and rely too heavily on stimulants such as coffee to get themselves through the day.

Diet Start

This sorry state of affairs becomes their normal state of being — it is no wonder that the symptoms of degenerative disease creep up on many people un-noticed. They are so used to living below their physical potential that they don’t recognise the signs until it is sometimes too late.

If you are more genetically disposed to gain weight readily when exposed to an unhealthy diet and lifestyle then restricting the amount and type of carbohydrate foods that you eat may be the right choice for you. Such a diet regime may also suit you if you have developed insulin resistance as the result of a diet based on high levels of refined and complex carbohydrates that outweigh your energy requirements, plus too much saturated fat, with little fibre and water. Unless, that is, you are one of those people who leads an active lifestyle or has a high metabolic rate, and already eats a diet with relatively high levels of healthy complex carbohydrates (brown rice, potatoes, wholegrains and certain vegetables, fruit and pulses) without accompanying weight and health problems. If so, why are you reading this? Sounds like you are already doing what is right for your body.

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

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

Limitations of Organization Capacity Assessment (OCA) tools

Since April of 2002 I have been involved with Strategic Planning, Restructuring, Re-engineering, Organization Revival, Organization Analysis, Organization Capacity Assessment and Organization Development projects across sectors and boarders. Most of the tools that ate used for this purpose can be traced back to a few general tools which were made famous in the latter part of the twentieth century. Increasingly I have felt the need to further customize these tools in a way that they become more relevant to the current context. This customization has been happening in the past and continues at a faster rate at present.

The single biggest reason that I attribute for this need is that; today we live in a technological age which has some peculiar characteristics. The characteristics are that we need to innovate and improve not only our products but also how we do things inside the organization at a faster rate. This is nothing new; most of the thought leaders of our time have made big bucks selling this message repackaged with additional jargon. These characteristics currently affect most of the knowledge based industries. However as time goes by their affect on every organization be it government, private or development sector will grow exponentially.

As mentioned above since we have to improve the way we do things inside an organization we run into the human dimension of things. We are also aware of the “change management” that needs to happen inside the organization to facilitate the “keeping up” with the changes that drive our organizations toward bigger and better things. However we don not consider that some of the changes required may be limited by the knowledge / intellectual capacity of the staff (here staff include owner directors, CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, and CKOs). In some organizations we may have staff that has reached the limit of their intellectual prowess. When an organization reaches this level it is said to have arrived at the door step of “mediocracy”

The current tools that most of our contemporary consultants use for organizational diagnosis will not help identify this issue of “mediocracy”. However there are some characteristics that are peculiar to these organizations where they have reached the glass ceiling of intellectual limitation / mediocracy. Let me take a few cases from assignment that I have done in the past and elaborate this.

The 1st example that I would like to take is an ICT company that started over 25 years ago. The organization has been fairly successful in keeping up with the changes in the ICT technology; and has been making above industry average, earnings per share. However in the early 21st century there was a need to re-strategize to keep up with the faster pace of change in the ICT technological environment. I was invited to develop a new strategic plan for this organization. By this time I had already identified some of the key markers of an organization that has reached its pinnacle based on the intellectual capacity of its staff; and I was able to identify them in this organization during my first meeting with the senior management of the organization. I suggested to the Managing Director who invited me that the organization not only needed a new strategic plan but it also needed a corporate renewal plan and a VRS. This suggestion was not looked at favorably and I was asked only to develop a strategic plan.

The markers that I identified were:

1. The organization starts adding parallel value chains to the existing organization structure.

2. Organization does not move forward or backwards in the value chain

3. The organization does not spawn new businesses that are “stars” / neither are they known for any innovation (other than the innovation of some of the principles / 3rd party brands that they may represent)

4. History of young star performers leaving the organization on a continuing basis

5. Boasting of people (the young starts) who have left the organization and gone to achieve great things as been trained at this organization.

6. Long serving staff in a particular discipline / technology / expertise

7. Some staff that leave the organization after a few year (not the stars) join the organization again as a manager or a senior in the same field of expertise

8. Staff talk of the same obstacles that they face every year (one years experience repeated over many years) as opposed to innovating / re-engineering / work-a-rounds to overcome obstacles

9. Large number of managers based on technical areas as opposed to value addition

10. Staff do not take up higher education or professional development

11. Average age of staff moves parallel to the age of the organization

The above 11 markers as identified by me is a clear indication that the organization has run out of ideas and the incumbent staff are not able to get the organization out of the hole that it has dug for itself. They need fresh blood and a new playing field to continue being profitable. In its current state it will just survive but never reach its former glory / heyday it enjoyed in the beginning of its existence.

The 2nd example that I would like to take is a research organization set up to do applied economic research. This organization too has been in existence for over 30 years and had enjoyed considerable success in the early part of its existence. This organization too displayed the following common markers as identified by me earlier.

They were:

  1. Long serving staff in a particular discipline / technology / expertise
  2. History of young star performers leave the organization on a continuing basis
  3. Boasting of people (the young starts) who have left the organization and gone to achieve great things as been trained at this organization.
  4. Some staff that leave the organization after a few year (not the stars) join the organization again as a manager or a senior in the same field of expertise
  5. Staff talk of the same obstacles that they face every year (one years experience repeated over many years) as opposed to innovating / re-engineering / work-a-rounds to overcome obstacles
  6. Large number of managers based on technical areas as opposed to value addition
  7. Average age of staff moves parallel to the age of the organization

In addition they displayed the following:

  1. Doing (research) work in traditional / theoretical / safe areas as opposed to doing applied / non traditional / contentious issues based research (Not competing in your space as mentioned in the mission but trying to compete in the space that you perceive to be good at / running back to mama so to speak; relying on your academic training as apposed to innovation)
  2. Contempt / arrogance towards younger organizations (doing applied research) and relying on the age of the organization and past performance as a mark of value (of research) as apposed to quality, (rigor), and relevance to current context.

The above may be considered anecdotal by some; but over the past 8 years across 19 countries I have come across these markers with increasing frequency across private, government and not for profit / development sector organizations which are not considered to be in the knowledge driven sectors.

The question is; are we at the stage that this initial varying degree of prevalence of the markers in other sector may become the norm across organizations and sectors? Only time will tell. However, I am convinced that we are seeing the beginning of another divide that will start another wave of brain drain as organizations start to realize this phenomenon and start to poach intellectual staff from all over the world.

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.

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)

Training Biceps and Triceps with Fat Circular Bands

If you want to take your guns to the next level consider adding in band training.    Those flat circular bands you see in the MX4 Area of the club are serious training tools!    These bands provide the advantage of increasing resistance throughout the range of motion to challenge your muscles in a different, yet complimentary way to free weights or machines.

There are a number of ways to trains biceps with bands from the most simple which is just standing on the band with feet spread and holding the upper loop of the band on both or one and handing and curling up and down.      You can also stand  with one or two feet in the center of a band and grap the two looped ends and curl the end/ends up to pump up those biceps.       Another option is to attach band handles to the band to allow you to use even more resistance.     Standing on one foot in the enter of the band will give less resistance than standing with two feet spread apart.

You can also attach a band to an immovable object like a post or even a door using a door holder (see www.resistancebandtraining.com to purchase one of these.  Another option to create more length is to attach a band low and behind you and then loop another band through this band and attach handles to the band on both ends.      With your back to the anchor grasp the handles and step forward to create some level of tension in the band keep your fee in a split stance and head-up.   Do a bicep curl  with the handles and as you fatigue take small steps back to do drop sets.   This exercise emphasizes the stretched position of the bicep comapred with the single band bicep curl described above.

You can also get an incredible tricep workout using bands using the set-up described above with handles attached to the bands.    In this case turn your back to the anchor grasping the handles with elbows held high by the sides of your heads.   Brace the core while in a split stance and keep the elbows high and motionless then extend your elbows – wow does that create a pump and burn!

To see exactly how to set-up and perform these incredible bicep and tricep exercises using flat circular bands and handles check out this video from resistancebandtraining.com:  https://youtu.be/mF-FbNSPF2Q

10 Must-Have Tools for the Busy Teacher

This year was uniquely challenging for me. I had my biggest class ever (28 students) , and I was co-teaching all day with teachers and paras from the special ed department–also a first. Meanwhile, I started working on my PhD, and my toddler constantly kept me busy. My plate has never been so full!

If you’re a teacher who often feels pulled in every direction, then this list is for you. These are my top 10 tools for juggling it all. Hopefully you’ll find some to use as well!

1. Nozbe

Nozbe is the ultimate task list manager. You can organize by projects — school, work, home, etc., create recurring tasks, and so much more. I can access it from any device, add attachments, and email stuff to my to-do list. I started out with the free version, and I quickly upgraded to the paid version. At $96/year, the paid version has a hefty price tag, but this app was SO much better than any other task manager I’d tried, and it’s been worth every penny. If you’re someone who has lots of projects going at once, this app is worth exploring.

2. Evernote

This is my brain online. All of my coursework and notes are in Evernote, and all of my anecdotal records and student work samples are in here as well. I was able to use the free version for many years, and then once my husband and I decided to go digital with all of our financial documents, etc., I upgraded to the premium version. At $35/year, it’s pretty affordable.

3. Dropbox

 I don’t think I could function without Dropbox. I switch between so many devices between work, home, and school each day, but Dropbox allows me to keep track of everything. All of my lesson plans, TpT purchases, readings for class, and more are in my Dropbox account. I’m still living off of the free space, but I’m getting the daily reminders that my Dropbox is nearly full. Might need to upgrade that soon, too. Premium accounts offer 100 GB of storage for $99/year.

4. GoodReader


 I’ve used this app a lot with my students, but I’m finding it to be totally clutch for my grad school stuff, too. I’m doing tons of research for my courses and scoping out dissertation ideas, and GoodReader allows me to annotate all of the PDF’s I’m amassing. I’ve created a folder on Dropbox for all of the articles I’ve gathered, and I can sync that folder to GoodReader so I can read it all on my iPad. I can also send it back to Evernote when I finish. One of my dear friends told me that I’d have laundry baskets full of research cluttering my house while I worked on my PhD, but not so…It’s all electronic!

5. GoogleCalendar

I have a variety of calendars on Google — class schedules, deadlines, school events, etc. Some of these I share with my husband so we can both be aware of each other’s events. Other calendars I share with my students and their parents so they can be aware of upcoming events and tests. I like that all of my calendars are color-coded so I know which calendar I’m looking at, and I can select/de-select different calendars to narrow my focus if I’m looking for something in particular.

6. YouCanBook.Me

This free site allows me to share portions of my calendar with parents so they can schedule parent-teacher conferences. I choose the days they can see, set the times they can schedule, and manage the maximum time blocks they can reserve. They don’t get to see any of the events on my calendar, just whether I’m available or not. If they reserve a time slot, it will automatically add it to my calendar and send me an email. It’s eliminated the back-and-forth process of conference scheduling and allowed me to manage my time better.

7. Planbook.com

Since I was co-teaching this year, I needed to find a way to share my plans easily from week to week. I tested out Planbook in August, and I loved it. I like that you can extend or bump lessons, attach files, and customize the fields that appear. It’s a great resource that’s keeping me much more organized. You can get a free trial of it before paying the $12 for an annual subscription.

8. Typinator

This is a tool that’s new to me, but Typinator is a text expander tool. There are several pieces of text that I find myself typing or copying/pasting over and over. Typinator allows me to create typing shortcuts for all of those. For example, if I want to type my blog address as a hyperlink when I comment on someone’s blog, I can simply type “~bl” and it will place the text there for me. I also use it for standard replies to emails such as when parents email me to say their child will be absent. I can type “~abs” and it will write: “Thanks for letting me know about the absence. I hope your child is feeling better soon! Today’s assignments will be posted on our class website, and let me know if there’s anything else you need.” Four key strokes = all of that. I find typing way faster than using the mouse, so this is a time saver that quickly adds up. It’s only available for Macs, and it’s priced in Euros (converts to around $36 US), but I use it all the time.

9. GoodReads


Distinct from GoodReader, GoodReads is an online community surrounding books. It allows me to keep track of the books I’m reading and which books I want to read next. As I’m starting my dissertation research, I’m constantly finding book titles that I want to check out. Similarly, there are lots of teaching books and children’s books that I want to investigate someday, and GoodReads helps me organize all of that. Best of all, I can use its scanning feature to scan barcodes when I’m browsing in the bookstore.

10. Edmodo

I used Edmodo a lot for collecting student work and grading tests/quizzes this year. It managed all of the submissions and kept the work organized for me so I could be more efficient with tracking these things. It also allowed me to create assignments, give and grade quizzes, communicate with students and parents, and so much more. This is a great free learning management system that was a centerpiece of my classroom this year.

With the exception of Typinator, which is only on my computers, all of these apps are cloud-based or mobile-friendly so I can get to them from any device. When I’m shifting between my iPhone, iPad, laptop, and desktop, that’s critical. I may be busy, but I can get to my projects anytime, anywhere, and I’m not hauling around tons of materials everywhere I go. These tools boost efficiency and minimize life clutter.

What are some tools you’re using this year to help with productivity? I’d love to hear more recommendations in the comments.

This post contained some affiliate links meaning that if you click on the link and purchase the app, a small part of your subscription cost will go to me instead of entirely to the company. I’m only recommending products that I highly use and pay for myself, however, and I hope you’ll find value in these resources as well. 

It’s Not Just You™ – HumbleBundle ‘Vegas Pro, Discover Creative Freedom’ Installer/Registration Not Working [Notification]

For the next two weeks (13 Days, according to the Countdown at the HumbleBundle Website, starting today) there is a fantastic offer for Video Editors, Music Composers, Web Developers and more – over $900 worth of Software, including Sony’s Vegas Pro [the Vegas Editing Product Line was bought out by MAGIX, a German software company that has produced it’s own editing software for years, popular for their “Music Maker” and “Movie Edit Pro” lines]. So what’s the issue? Well, this Bundle is so darn popular, many parts of it aren’t working/responding, at this time. For example, if you run into the Installer ‘starting but just closing/crashing’ or the store or program ‘not registering’ or the ‘website is down’… just letting you know… It’s Not Just You™

Part of the reason why this Bundle is so popular (although many HumbleBundles are quite popular at different times), is because one of the main pieces of Software offered is Vegas Pro Edit, originally by Sony. This video editing software is a Premium Version (“high end”) of this program, normally being sold at around $400. Along with other great products, such as Magix Music Maker, Xara’s Photo and Graphic Designer, Xara’s Web Designer, Photo Story Deluxe and more – it’s easy to see why this Bundle is so popular, for all kinds of content creators and producers. Indeed, if you are into (or trying to get into) making music, editing video, or web design, at all; I highly recommend picking up this fantastic bundle of software, if you can. The link/URL to the HumbleBundle directly, is here:

https://www.humblebundle.com/software/vegas-pro-creative-freedom




For those unfamiliar with HumbleBundle, it is a retail site that offers a mix of software, books and games, connected to and donating a portion to, a customer’s chosen Charity. For example, my account is connected to Extra Life, the ‘Gaming Marathon’ Fund Raising charity that I try to play for every November, on behalf of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Because I attached this Charity to my Account, any purchases I make will contribute a portion to my charity. One of the greatest things about HumbleBundle however, is that the products – although one is not able to choose which products to buy specifically – are usually offered in ‘portions’ or ‘packs’ for any amount that you can afford to pay (as low as $1 up to whatever you can pay for the software company/charity/etc); and the more you can pay/donate, the more software/books/games/etc you will get. Since 2010, these ‘Pay What You Want’ Bundles (for Windows, Mac and Linux) have become quite popular over time.

The issue that has arisen this time then, is that the Bundle is so popular, that the server for the Installer has become Unresponsive (“not working”). Even the Website for the Retail/Vendor/Developer itself has become Unresponsive, giving this Error Message [to me] seen below (from Chrome):

As also sometimes happens with the most popular HumbleBundles, some people are experiencing very slow Downloading of their purchased products (as in 256kBps or less). Others are experiencing the Installer for the products stops functioning. This is what I personally am experiencing too (the Installer seems to startup, but then ‘crashes’ (or at least disappears) and is unable to continue. After one random attempt, I got a message stating that the Installer actually tried to Download the Installation Files but could not properly communicate with their servers. The message that came up [for me] can be seen below:

Trying another time later on, I did see the Installer for the ‘MAGIX Music Maker 80’s Version’ pop up and start Downloading, which was nice to see; however the overall download speed was pretty slow [understandably] at about 300kBps.

If I may make a Suggestion then – if you are running into any of the issues above, at this time: my suggestion would be, to definitely pick up the Bundle if you can [Note: You have to purchase the Bundle for at least $20 to get Vegas Pro] – then wait a while before you attempt to install anything. According to the MAGIX website, you can access your purchase (to install it) anytime after buying it, from now until September 2018 [Note: A free Magix account must be created if you do not already have one]. So, there is no rush, once you purchase it, to get the Installation Files from MAGIX. I also recommend backing up your Installation Files, once Downloaded, onto a USB drive, External Drive or even Optical Disc – anything that can back up your purchase for future re-installation, if needed (at least, until you buy a newer version of any applications you like..).

By the way, a quick note about Vegas Pro ‘Edit Version’ (about a 450MB download) – for those wondering about the difference between the Vegas Movie Studio versions and the Vegas Pro versions (and what the ‘Edit’ identifier means), here is a short summary of the differences:

  • the Movie Studio versions of the editor are an easier-to-use, scaled-down version of the Vegas editor, with still many features, allowing up to 200 Tracks of Events (clips/media) – increased from 20 Tracks recently! It just lacks many of the advanced features of the Pro versions (such as the  ‘NewBlueFX Titler’ [professional version], Bézier Tool Masking (“any shape”), et.al). The Movie Studio version comparisons can be found here:

    http://www.vegascreativesoftware.com/us/vegas-movie-studio/product-comparison/#productMenu

  • the Vegas Pro ‘Edit version’ of the editor costs less than the other Pro(fessional) versions, as it is missing the DVD/Blu-Ray authoring package, as well as some advanced filters and creation utilities (such as the Boris FX media generators, et.al) – it is still a ‘full featured’ Professional-level Video Editing program however, allowing Unlimited Tracks, full 4K Support, Bézier Tool Masking (“any shape”), includes the ‘NewBlueFX Titler’ [professional version] and much, much more. The Pro version comparisons can be found here:

    http://www.vegascreativesoftware.com/us/vegas-pro/product-comparison/#productMenu


[Note that the links above will show the most recent versions of the programs, but the comparisons themselves (the effects and capabilities of each) will remain similar, despite the edition versions changing over time]

Here is a capture of the Vegas Pro ‘Edit version’ comparison, for the 14th edition [CAD prices, sorry]:

Although the Vegas line of editing products have always had a bit of a learning curve due to their more advanced capabilities (Sony used to give out a DVD with some introductory courses for it; I am privileged to say I have one of these), MAGIX has created a few tutorials of their own, which can be found at the MAGIX Vegas Pro Tutorials website, here:

http://www.vegascreativesoftware.com/us/vegas-pro/online-tutorials/

So, try not to let it bother you ‘too much’, if you have run into any of these issues (downloading, installing, registering, etc). Just wait a little while longer and try doing it again, in the near future. For now, don’t worry – It’s Not Just You™…

Good Luck with it – and Have Fun!
[Note: I am not affiliated with Sony, MAGIX or HumbleBundle in any way, and I will not receive any compensation for mentioning them here – I am merely an enthusiastic user of their products and wanted to share what I felt was helpful information/notification. I have used other video editing programs in the past (such as PowerDirector, Nero Vision and Windows Movie Maker and some free video editors, such as Avidemux, DVD Soft’s FreeVideoEditor and VirtualDub) and will still use them when desired in the future]

Addendum:

During the time it took for me to compile this posting, I was able to try again and began Downloading then eventually Installing Vegas Pro [Edit version] – and it is going smoothly still – however, Downloading of the various applications in the Bundle are still quite slow. 
If you do not mind that, dear reader, go ahead and try again now; otherwise, as in my Suggestion, perhaps wait a while (as in days) before attempting to have a fast/smooth installation of these popular applications. 

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!

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.
 

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

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.

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.

HOME DESIGN WITH STRONG VISUAL EFFECTS

Architects honey study apartment has a makeover that is quite original. The project is called “Santpere47” and has many interesting features. gold lines and circles to create a wall decoration that invites a lot of fun to watch.

HOME DESIGN STYLE WITH STRONG VISUAL EFFECTS

HOME DESIGN STYLE WITH STRONG VISUAL EFFECTS

The ceiling is particularly exciting that the pattern is unusual and reminds one of the chambers of the royalties. Storage space is provided unconventional: not a library under the stairs and walls in some places where objects can be placed. The lighting in this apartment is also interesting to compare a second: the hanging lamps are subtle and elegant, and were impressed by the fire escape. The decorative elements are in perfect harmony with the general atmosphere of the house.

HOME DESIGN WITH STRONG VISUAL EFFECTS

HOME DESIGN WITH STRONG VISUAL EFFECTS

HOME LIVING ROOM DESIGN WITH STRONG VISUAL EFFECTS

HOME LIVING ROOM DESIGN WITH STRONG VISUAL EFFECTS

HOME KITCHEN DESIGN WITH STRONG VISUAL EFFECTS

HOME KITCHEN DESIGN WITH STRONG VISUAL EFFECTS

HOME BEDROOM DESIGN WITH STRONG VISUAL EFFECTS

HOME BEDROOM DESIGN WITH STRONG VISUAL EFFECTS

Quick Tip: Planetside 2 – Medic Revive Not Working [Note]

Just a quick tip for those who have recently jumped back into playing some frantic Planetside 2 and thought there was something wrong with the medic tool, being unable to revive, thinking they can’t revive, etc – there was a patch a bit back that changed the Medic Tool so that Left-Click will Heal and Right-Click will Revive. Although changing such a long running/’staple’ operation is a little lip-pursing, it should have the overall positive effect of assisting with attempting to revive within a tight group of teammates (instead of your tool randomly healing someone close, it should more effectively target the face down teammate on the ground). Just a note.

See You In The Games!

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

It’s Not Just You™ – Paladins (Beta), Having Issues Not Starting or Not Running In 64-bit Mode, Battlegrounds [Notification, Updated As Encountered]

[Currently, this post is mostly in Text-Only Mode, to speed up the ability to publish it… 
I may return to add some Images and/or Screenshots in the future.
This post will be Updated for the next few days, as I encounter new related information.]

If you are trying to play the newest addition to Paladins, Battlegrounds, which is being released in Alpha Testing Stage in their Latest Update – and you are having issues with either (1) the game not launching/starting or (2) the game running in 32-bit mode [which stops you from being able to enter the Battlegrounds, which requires 64-bit mode] – just letting you know, It’s Not Just You™…

For the past little while, I have been trying to get into Paladins and try out this new Game Mode, and take a look at any new changes; but I have been running into multiple issues with the game itself. If related Paladins Forums ‘everywhere’ (Steam, Reddit, Official Forums, etc) are any indication, many, many others are having issues as well.

I wanted to take a moment to make this posting because, even though it seems there are a few people that have ‘gotten it running’, there are many others, like me, that have not. I wanted to share this experience and related information, so that others may know that, well… It’s Not Just Them.

Since I have run into multiple issues and have tries multiple steps so far, I will share them here in Point Form as a list:

Issues Seen/Encountered:

  • Game not starting [Launcher will start, but game itself will not show up]
  • Game not stopping [Game will not Terminate, Steam says it is Running still, but it is not, or has not started]
  • Game not running in 64-bit mode [Game starts in 32-bit Mode and therefore The Battlegrounds can not be tested/run, as it states in-game “64-bit Mode Required”]
  • Cannot Verify Integrity Of Game Files, via Steam [Steam states to ‘exit any game files or tools’ related to the game, but none are running]

Steps Taken/Tried:

  • Put “-Use64 [without quotes] into Optional Game Command Line Parameters (Options/Commands) in Launcher
  • Put “-dx11” [without quotes] into Optional Game Command Line Parameters (Options/Commands) in Launcher
  • Checked “Use 64 bit Client” in Launcher Options [this has never been ‘unchecked’ by me]
  • Verified Cache [‘double-checked’ the game files through Steam, to see if they are what they are supposed to be]
Unfortunately, since I cannot make the game ‘run in 64-bit Mode and enter The Battlegrounds’ in a repeated a reliable manner – I cannot make a section containing a ‘Fix’ at this time… I will continue to observe various Forums and Support Responses, try various Suggested Steps (from the Developers and other helpful Paladin Players (there are a lot of them out there!)), and see if I can make any progress that results in stable and repeatable game launching and gameplay. If I do, I will return here and add it as a ‘Fix’ section. 
For now, despite them not working for me/on my system, there are a few isolated people that have had success with some of the Steps listed. If you are experiencing any of these issues with Paladins at this time, try some or all of them above. Perhaps one of them will work for you, too. 
Good Luck with it – and try to stay positive, remembering – It’s Not Just You™!

And More: The EULA Keeps Popping Up When Starting Sony’s Vegas Video Editing Applications (FIX)

Since the most popular answer on the ongoing poll I have running here at the blog (“what type of posts would you like to see more of in 2014” [top right, it will run until the middle of the year]) is “Tips And Tricks Of Video Capturing And Editing”, I thought I would start more of these types of requested posts by sharing this fix for a problem that seems to pop up intermittently with Sony’s Vegas line of products.

Whether you have just re-installed it or whether it has been on your system for a while, ‘something’ is causing the EULA (End User License Agreement) to pop up and require you to agree to it, even if you have already done so and/or Registered the program. This question comes up once in a while on the Sony Creative Software Official Forums and I have seen it elsewhere. I was recently reminded of it again because it is also something that just happened to me on my system! I didn’t re-install Vegas or make any large changes related to Vegas, yet this little guy started popping-up every time I started up Vegas Movie Studio HD**:

The popup that comes up for some people, every time they start Vegas

The fix is a simple one, originally suggested by a Sony Forum Moderator and quoted/forwarded frequently on the official forums, to those who come and ask the question there. Although it seems more like a ‘workaround’ than a ‘fix [in my opinion], it works just fine and since it is officially supported by Sony and I just tested it for verification myself [that it does indeed solve the problem], so now I share it here with you:

  • To stop the EULA popping up every time you start Sony Vegas, simply open Windows Explorer and navigate to the folder where you installed it on your system. 
  • Then, find the file that is titled, simply, “eula”. There will be no Extension showing, even if you have the Windows option to ‘Hide Extensions For Known File Types’ turned off. 
  • Rename (or delete) the file. That’s it! 

Now the EULA cannot pop up anymore and won’t, every time you start up Vegas to edit your game captures.

**Although this example shows steps for the Movie Studio version of Sony’s Vegas Video editing line, the EULA ‘fix’ is the same steps for Vegas Pro, Vegas Edit or other versions of Vegas

Enjoy popup-free video editing once again – and See You In The Games!

“Can You Guess Where The Screenshot Below Is From?”, The Game Tips And More Blog’s Game Screenshot Identification Contest, Re-Starts Again Today! [Updated 2018-02-01 – Answer Image]

It’s the 15th of the month – and it is time for something that I want to start up again (and not only because I have over 50,000 Screenshots burning a hole in my pocket, but mostly that) – something that I had going for a short time, three long years ago…

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 a ‘grand re-opening’ once again today – January 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’]


Correct answers submitted by the end of the month (beginning at the time of this posting) will be chosen from randomly, where one Skillful Identifier 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

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)]

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 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 a larger 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 this month’s edition of
‘Can You Guess Where The Screenshot Below Is From’ (2018-01):


The Answer for this month’s Contest could have been: “Marvel Heroes” or “Marvel Heroes Omega” or “Marvel Heros” or “I can’t believe they cancelled this great game that I only just recently discovered existed especially with all the future Marvel movies coming out what happened this timeline sucks”. 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 Fifth 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!


(The Game Tips And More Blog Contest Game #2018-01)

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.

Atlanta Blogger Meet Up

Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting some fantastic teacher-bloggers as part of the Atlanta Blogger Meet-Up.

If you ever get a chance to meet up with other teacher-bloggers, I’d highly recommend doing it! It was wonderful to meet so many sweet and enthusiastic teachers who share similar interests, and now I can finally match names and faces with the blogs that I read all the time.

We met at the Swan Coach House in Atlanta for brunch, and it was wonderful. Amanda from Collaboration Cuties made us each a placemat with everyone’s name on it.

And Stacia (the other half of Collaboration Cuties) made us name tags.

Jivey from Ideas by Jivey made us a little goodie jar filled with treats of both the sugary and teachery kinds.
And Elizabeth (Fun in Room 4B) and Brandee (Creating Lifelong Learners) made us this adorable to do list that is dry erase. 
There were 9 of us in all, and I’m so glad that I went. I’m typically a really shy person, but it felt like I was getting together with old friends! I’m so grateful to be a part of the teacher blogger community, and I love learning from other teachers. This group in particular has so much to offer, and if you don’t already follow each of these bloggers, you’re definitely missing out.
From left to right:
Amanda – Teacher at the Wheel
Jivey – Ideas by Jivey
Brandee – Creating Lifelong Learners
Denay – The Gemini Teacher
Liz – Polka Dot Firsties
Stacia & Amanda – Collaboration Cuties
Me!
Elizabeth – Fun in Room 4B
If you missed out on the meet up, no worries — I have confidence that this will become an annual tradition. And for those of you who are interested in classroom technology, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is holding its annual conference in Atlanta next summer on June 28 – July 1. Wouldn’t it be great to have a teacher blogger meet up around that? 
After lunch, most of us ventured to Ikea where I once again spent too much money on my classroom despite not needing anything in particular. I’d show you all of my finds, but I’m going to wait until my complete classroom reveal. Given that I start preplanning THIS THURSDAY and have students on August 1, that really won’t be too long to wait!

Have a great week!

Paperless Mission #7: Annotating Rubrics with GoodReader (iPad)

This is the seventh post in my Go Paperless! Challenge Series. If you haven’t completed the previous missions, be sure to complete those first.

  • Mission #1: Gather Your Tools
  • Mission #2: Build Evernote Notebooks
  • Mission #3: Email Notes to Evernote
  • Mission #4: Create Checklists in Evernote
  • Mission #5: Organize Your Files in Dropbox
  • Mission #6: Setting Up GoodReader (iPad)
Also be sure to link up at the Go Paperless! Linky.

Mission #7: Annotating Rubrics with GoodReader (iPad)

I try to give my students high-quality feedback whenever possible, especially on their writing assignments. In the past, it would take me days to grade all of their papers and write hand-write comments on their rubrics. So when I passed those papers and rubrics back to students, it would kill me to see students stuff them into the abyss of their backpacks, or worse — toss them into the recycling bin. I wanted them to take it home and share it with their parents, and I wanted them to be able to refer back to that feedback. Eventually I learned to photocopy the rubrics before I passed them back, but that still wasn’t ideal. It created more paper clutter and one more thing for me to work on organizing.
When I say that GoodReader has become one of my all-time favorite apps, I mean it. I now use GoodReader to fill out rubrics and other student feedback. To start, make sure that you have the rubric saved as .pdf in Dropbox. While GoodReader can read any type of document, it will only annotate a .pdf. Then open up the .pdf of the rubric in GoodReader (see previous tutorial).

Choose the highlighter tool to highlight the appropriate categories on the rubric. The first time that you go to annotate a document, it will ask you if you want to save to this file or create an annotated copy. If it’s a document that I’m only planning to use once or student work, I typically select “Save to this file.” When I’m planning to use the document over and over again, though, I’ll create an annotated copy. That’s what I’d choose when using a rubric to grade student work.

Once I’ve made my selection, I’ll be able to annotate all over the document. Once you’re in the highlighter tool, you can drag your finger over the text that you want to highlight. You can change the color of your highlighter, and you can also delete highlights by tapping on the highlighted area.

At the end of the rubric, I like to type specific comments for my students. To do that, choose the typewriter tool. A little window will pop up for you to type your comments, and then it will save them to the document. If it saves it in the wrong spot, simply tap on the text and a new menu of options will appear.

You can drag and drop the text into the correct space and re-size the text area to get it formatted the way you’d like.

 When you’re done annotating the rubric, tap the center of your screen to see the “My Documents” option.

From there, you’ll want to rename your file. To do this, select “Manage Files,” then tap on the annotated copy of your rubric and select “rename.”

Once you’ve renamed your document, you’ll have some options for moving it. First, I send a copy to the student’s notebook in Evernote. To do this, tap “Manage Files” again, select your newly renamed document, and select “Open In.” A new window will pop up asking how you’ll want to save the file. Select “Flatten annotations” because that will preserve your edits and merge it into the document so that you don’t lose your work.

Once you’ve chosen that, another window will open showing which of your installed programs you can open it in. As you can see, I’ve get several options available. You could also upload it directly to Dropbox if you would like to back up your work there rather than in your student notebook. This might be a good option if you have a folder shared with the student for passing back work.

When I’m ready to hand back the rubric to students, I open it in Edmodo and attach it as a direct message to the individual student. This allows the student and his or her parents to see it. They could also download a copy if they’re using a computer. (I’ve had mixed results with document downloads through Edmodo on the iPad.)

This system has been incredibly helpful for me. It’s easy to manage because I don’t have to keep track of paper or make sure that I’ve made enough copies of the grading rubric before I start grading. Just one more step in the quest to curb paper clutter.

What are some other ways you can imagine using GoodReader in the classroom? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section!

Currently June (?!)

Oh, how I love to start the month with Farley’s Currently over at Oh’ Boy Fourth Gradeespecially when I actually remember that it’s the start of the month and don’t have that revelation about a week in. 🙂

Here we go…

Listening:  I got to see Sara Bareilles perform at a small Atlanta venue on my birthday a couple of weeks ago, and wow – can she ever sing! She’s been in heavy rotation on my playlist ever since.

Loving: The first couple of weeks of summer vacation are always the best because it feels like there’s so much free time ahead. A quick glance at my calendar would remind me that this summer is going to fly by very quickly, but for now, I’m thrilled to have a little breathing room before the hustle and bustle of another school year kicks in.

Thinking: Math is on my mind a lot right now. I’m finishing up my final project for my math endorsement (an algebra unit), and I’m joining multiple book studies about math-related books this summer. My students did very well overall on the year-end standardized tests, but I feel like I’m still scrambling to make sense of the best way to teach the Common Core. I need to figure out something that will allow me to differentiate more without creating oodles of additional work on my end. If anyone has the magic solution, please let me know.

Wanting: We bought a new desktop computer last year, and it was intended to be mostly for my school/blogging/TpT use. That worked for a little while, but my husband has slowly taken it over and claimed it as his. He’s been working crazy hours (he’s an attorney), and his work is often more deadline-oriented than mine, so I’ve given in. But now that I’m getting ready to start my doctorate, it might be time for us to give up on the idea of sharing a computer. I have a work laptop that I use sometimes, but it’s got some crazy restrictions/configurations that limit the programs I can install, etc. For most people, it’s not a big deal, but when you’re a tech-geek like me, it’s frustrating. So last week, I made a big pitch for me to get a new iMac desktop, and he agreed! There were some intense negotiations that went into the process, but in the end, we made a deal that we can both live with. I’m going to be responsible for generating the extra income to make the payments on it (we got it financed over 18 months), but between some tutoring jobs I’m taking and TeachersPayTeachers, I think I’ll be able to swing it.

Now I just need to hold on for Monday when my precious new toy will arrive!

Needing: I need to get organized and prioritize what I need to accomplish this summer because there’s no world in which I’ll have time to tackle my ever-growing to-do list. I need to create some realistic goals with deadlines to keep myself reasonably on-task. I also need to cut out distractions like randomly checking Facebook or email or Twitter every 10 minutes.

3 Vacay Essentials – 1) Shade – I have the misfortune of being allergic to almost every type of sunscreen that exists — including the ones that say they’re hypoallergenic and made for sensitive skin. Put some of that sauce on me and stick me in the sun, and my body breaks out in a terrible, lobster-like swollen rash that is WAY worse than any sunburn I’ve ever had. So I stick to the shade as much as I can, and I visit my dermatologist every year to make sure that I’m not getting skin cancer. Not fun, I tell you.

2) Books – This used to be a huge ordeal before the advent of the Kindle. I like having lots of summer reading options, ya know?

3) Beverages – Hydration is important! And there’s a whole slew of summer drinks that I could put on the list… But seriously, I’ve been drinking at least 64 oz of water each day of this vacation before I even touch anything else, so I think I’m doing well.

Big thanks to Farley for continuing to host this linky. Every month I find so many amazing blogs and learn lots about my fellow bloggers. If you aren’t participating already, you should definitely link up!

,
Have a great June, everyone!

Deals and Sales: Saints Row 2 and Syberia II, TotallyFree™ [Notification]

Update: As of Sunday, April 23rd, Saints Row 2 is no longer available for Free, but Syberia II still is

I haven’t been feeling too great lately (hence my not posting for a while) – but I wanted to make sure and come and get a quick notification out, for those that don’t know and are interested – that I saw two games being given away TotallyFree™ right now:

Saints Row 2, the open-world, GTA-style Action game is at GoodOldGames (now just GOG, they also offer newer titles these days), found at GOG.com

and

Syberia II, the third-person, mouse-driven Adventure game is being given away at Origin’s “On the House”, found at Origin.com

Both are completely free, so go get them now! GOGOGO

[Note: I do not get any compensation in any form for mentioning these games or companies here (there are no ‘referrals’ or ‘trackbacks’ in the links above); I am just a gamer who likes to share things I figure out and find on my own here, with you, other gamers… Have fun!]

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.

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.

1923 Buick Roadster with a cool spare tire lock and tool kit

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

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.

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.

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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10 Reasons to Write with Technology

I’m super excited about the two books that I’m studying this summer as part of my summer series.

Today, I’m diving into the first one entitled When Writing with Technology Matters by Carol Bedard and Charles Fuhrken. 
Rather than giving you a laundry list of all of the ways that you could integrate technology into writing, this book goes in-depth into two specific projects. The first project uses reading and writing to launch moviemaking, and the second project is authoring a visual nonfiction essay. As someone who routinely integrates technology in the classroom, I like this book because it examines lots of angles of these types of projects in great detail. But this book is also good for beginners for that same reason. Rather than offering an overwhelming number of ideas, it breaks down projects into manageable and authentic steps. 
I’ll be examining each of those projects in future posts, but today I want to talk about the first chapter – 10 Reasons Why Writing with Technology Matters.

The opening chapter is filled with research about how technology integration contributes to student learning. They break it down into a list of the following 10 items:

Something that I would add to this list that captures many of the items is the notion of “authenticity.” When you engage students in project-based learning such as making a movie or designing a visual essay, students feel like they have a real purpose. Their work will be viewed by others, and this really motivates students to push a little bit harder. Giving students the freedom, space, and resources to work on something meaningful is a powerful recipe for empowering learners.

I also want to comment on teacher-disposition. A lot of people who visit my classroom think that I have all the answers for technology integration, but let me tell you a secret — I don’t. Almost every day, a student or teacher will ask me a question about how to do something, and I won’t immediately know the answer.

And that’s okay.

Because one of the most important things I can model for my students is the act of troubleshooting and problem solving. If I can’t figure out how to do something, I’ll hop on the internet and poke around until I can find the answer. I think a lot of teachers avoid technology because they’re not confident in their ability to work with it, but you can find a whole lot of information just-in-time as you need it online. Don’t let a lack of confidence divert you from trying some of these projects.

Next week, we’ll dive into Part 1: Reading and Writing to Launch Moviemaking. If you haven’t already picked up a copy of this book, I’d highly recommend it. And it’s not too late to join in the book study! In fact, you’re only 14 pages behind! 🙂

If you are reading this book, I’d love to know what you think. Leave me a note in the comment section!

Happy reading (and writing)!

This post contains affiliate links, but I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CRF, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The link between carbohydrates and insulin resistance

The hormone insulin plays a major role in the metabolism of carbohydratesand their conversion to energy in the body. When you eat carbohydrates, they are converted into glucose in the bloodstream, which triggers the release of insulin. This virtually escorts the glucose to the body’s cells, where it can be used as energy. If there is too much glucose, the insulin turns it into glycogen, which is stored in your muscles and liver ready to be converted back toglucose when it is needed.

However, in the high-refined ‘carob’ world in which we live, we often have too much glucose floating around in the bloodstream, and then insulin converts it to fat. And our body cells may become so flooded with insulin that they cease to be responsive to it, so the pancreas keeps producing more and more insulin in an attempt to get energy to your cells. This is known as ‘insulin resistance‘.

Diet Start

Over a period of time, less and less glucose gets used as energy, and more and more gets laid down as fat. Since insulin also sends messages to the brain to tell you that you are hungry, more and more insulin means increasing cravings for carb-laden food.

The only people who are benefiting from refined foods are:

  • The dentists who have to patch up your decaying teeth
  • The pharmaceutical companies who have to sell you drugs to sort out the symptoms of your ailing immune system and your susceptibility to chronic and degenerative disease
  • The food manufacturers, who are only really interested in profit. If you add to this a high intake of caffeine, alcohol, smoking and a lack of exercise, then you will almost certainly be taking a wobbly walk down the road to ill health.

Is it enough just to cut out refined carbohydrates?

Totally banishing all things processed and adopting a healthier diet based on fresh produce is a definite start, but if you have a weight problem linked to insulin resistance, it may not be enough, because if you are still eating a diet that is too high in the wrong sort of carbohydrates — coupled with not eating enough protein or fat to slow down the rate at which these excessive carbs are hitting your blood-sugar levels — you will still have problems. A low-fat/high-carb diet can give you a nasty shock every time you jump on the scales.

The thing to remember is that all carbohydrates have an effect on your blood sugar, and every gram of carbohydrate consumed is equal to one gram of glucose in your bloodstream. So if you are eating more than your body can burn for energy, or can safely store as glycogen in the liver, the rest will be turned to fat.

The key factor in balancing blood-sugar levels and banishing thesymptoms of insulin resistance is controlling your intake of carbohydrates. In order to do this effectively you need to know which ones have the greatest impact on your blood sugar and which do not.

Initially, this will need a little time and effort on your part as you learn about the different sorts of carbohydrates. You may find that the changes you have to make to your diet are quite drastic, but before long — as you start to feel and look better — you will be amazed at how little you miss the wrong kinds of carbohydrates such as processed and sugary foods. Youwon’t feel the need to pile your plate high with potatoes and pasta, because your newly balanced blood sugar levels won’t be crying out for acarbohydrate fix.

Integrating Peer Feedback

Sometimes my students surprise me.

We’re studying the Measurement and Data standards right now in math, and we were struggling a bit with 4.MD.2 – the measurement word problems standard. We’ve been using some of the free math units from Engage NY (a resource I highly recommend), and we were on day 3 of working through word problems, and I knew I had to mix it up a bit. Here’s what we did.

First, students worked through 6 word problems from module 2. The word problems were multi-step and used many different types of metric measurement. They completed these problems independently, but they could consult other students if they got stuck. Once everyone at the table finished, they checked their work with each other to make sure they agreed on the same answer.

Next, I assigned each table a different focus problem from the 6 that they solved. They had about 10-15 minutes to work together to design a poster that explained the problem and solution. They could represent their work any way they wanted, but the work had to speak for itself — they wouldn’t be there to explain the poster to anyone else.

Once the posters were completed, I gathered the students together on the carpet, and we reviewed the Standards for Mathematical Practice using these posters I’ve made:

We talked about using these standards as opportunities to give feedback. We also discussed how effective feedback needs to be specific and constructive. If you like something, say what, specifically, you liked and how it helped communicate an idea. If something needed to be improved, explain what and how that could be done.

Once I felt like the students had some ideas for ways to give good feedback, I had the students do a gallery walk around the classroom to look at the other posters. In a gallery walk, students use sticky notes to comment on other people’s work. They can leave positive and/or constructive feedback. I let the students comment anonymously if they wanted, and they were able to reference the SMP posters if they needed ideas (I gave them access to a digital copy on their iPads). I used a timer, and they spent 5 minutes studying and commenting on each poster before rotating.

Once they’d rotated through all of the posters, the returned to the poster their group had made, and they took a few minutes to read the feedback. I had them work together to sort the feedback into the categories “helpful” and “not helpful.”

We shared a few examples of helpful comments with the whole class:

  • “I like how the team drew pictures to represent the problem, but I think the team could have explained what each picture represented from the problem.”
  • “The pictures aren’t in proportion to one another. The drawing of 1,500 mL is much larger than 3 L, but really the 3 L should be larger.”
  • “Something I really like about your poster is that it has pictures to represent the problems. One thing that you could have done differently is represent the subtraction and addition with a tape diagram.”
  • “You could have represented the answer in mixed units to make your answer clearer.”

We then talked about unhelpful comments — one word comments or feedback that focused more on style than substance.

Overall, this lesson was very helpful in getting the students to think about the Standards for Mathematical Practice and how to give effective feedback. Each group had ideas for things they wanted to change on their posters based on peer comments, and some groups even asked to work on it more during recess! It was also a good reminder for me that students can give each other powerful feedback, and I need to provide them with more opportunities to do this across the subject areas.

If you’d like to get a copy of my student-friendly Standards for Mathematical Practice posters, they’re available in my TpT store by clicking the image below.

What are some ways you incorporate peer feedback in your classroom? I’d love to hear more ideas in the comments section!

good representation of the concepts

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

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

fantastic paintjob on this speedboat

http://darkdraggon.tumblr.com/page/3

How To Use The Mouse To The Best Of Your Ability (a.k.a. How To Be A Better ‘First Person Shooter’) [Text-Only]


[Text-Only – This Post is Text-Only Mode, for now. I may return to this posting and add Screenshots or Images at a later time.]

I was browsing around in the Steam Forums [forii?], where I like to try and answer Technical Questions and give Suggestions about Gameplay and Tips – and I recently answered a query someone had about using the Mouse in Fallout 4 (arguably a ‘Shooter’ game for the most part) and how it seemed difficult for them to aim in the game (it is possible to utilize an Automated Aiming capability called V.A.T.S., in Fallout 4 – but the game can also be played ‘in real time’ without it, playing as a First Person Shooter would be played, similar to games like Overwatch, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Battlefield, and more).

So, I answered with a somewhat-lengthy reply, trying to be helpful and informative, letting them know where to do things like change the Settings of the Mouse and the Sensitivity; really trying to show them that there needs to be a ‘personalization’ of the Mouse Settings, if they wanted to utilize the Mouse, as a gaming tool, to the best of their ability (to “let your ability shine through the Mouse” as it were).

I thought it might be nice to share my answer here too, then – to share with others that may be wondering things like:

“Why am I having so much trouble aiming/killing in <game name>?”

“Why does it seem so hard to kill people <in a Multiplayer game>?”

“How can I improve my gameplay in Multiplayer/Player-Versus-Player?”

…and similar questions.

Thus, here was my reply in the Forum… Perhaps it can be of some use to you:

—–

If I may pop in, as a ‘First Person Shooter’ since Wolfenstein 3D (1992), and having won some Local Tournaments in the past (UT99 and Quake III Arena); you really need to find your own personal ‘mouse sensitivity’…

(I used to do 180’s while running to ‘check my six’ or headshot the player behind me – which they didn’t like of course, heh)

Note that this must be adjusted for every new mouse and potentially every new game. This is the only way to truly have a movement and reaction time/rate in the game that you personally feel comfortable with.


There are a few places you must adjust it:

– in Windows (Settings>Devices>Mouse [for Windows 10])
– in Mouse Software (that disc that comes with the Mouse that everyone ignores, or the manufacturer’s Drivers and associated ‘Software Configurator’ of some type for the mouse from their website), where you can also Keybind different keys or combinations to your Mouse, if it can do so, and set DPI gradations/steps.
– in the Game (Options or Settings)


Again, I cannot helpfully stress this enough; try to do this for each and every game you play – it is amazing in how it can personalize your comfortable movement/scan/hit rate.
It is really possible to ‘hit anything’ in a game, if you make your own personalized changes to all of the above.


Some people like to move their mouse a lot, slowing down the movement into smaller gradations for sniping and tight movements.
Some people like to move their mouse very little, using mostly their fingers and hardly turning their wrist (these types usually switch DPI settings as-they-move, for sniping and tighter movements).

Both are arguable for usage and both can utilize the DPI settings/changes possible on modern mice.
You must find your own movement type and movement rate, set by those three locations previously stated.

Once you set the mouse how you like it – whether you switch DPI settings on-the-fly (to make your character scan slower or faster, switching between scoped and non-scoped, for example) or whether you keep one DPI setting and alter how fast you move the mouse – you will find that you can aim/scan/hit a lot better (and also not get tired as fast).

Tip: Don’t forget to turn off any Mouse Acceleration (The kind that moves your mouse pointer farther on the screen if you move the same amount of space on your desk, only faster)… This only adds to the difficulty in scanning/aiming and makes it harder to build up muscle memory for your mouse (such as, “I move my mouse this far, and my view onscreen moves this far”).

The only recourse, other than doing the above and taking all of the above steps, is V.A.T.S….(at least, to be totally comfortable and ‘reach your full potential’ with the Mouse (wow this is starting to sound like an Infomercial, sorry about that haha))

But, try to have fun exploring it – find “You” in your mouse movements – and have fun learning how “You” play!

—–
Note, Dear Reader, that I am not trying to ‘be pompous’ or ‘brag’ here, with this posting… I merely stated my ‘qualifications’ at the beginning, to show that I learned a lot over time and that I had personally found some effective ways to improve playing, with the Mouse (especially in the past). 
I do not wish to sound like to ‘know everything’ as well – and indeed can learn more – I just wanted to share what I did learn over time and hope that this might help others out, too. If you are an experienced FPS player (‘First Person Shooter gamer’), then you no doubt already know most of these concepts (or have figured them out on your own). 
I should state that I am also nowhere near as good as I once was [being 40 now, alas, age occurs to all..]. Where I once could out-shoot almost anyone, regularly doing 180s-to-instant-headshots (as stated previously), I now regularly get my butt handed to me in games like Overwatch, CS:GO and the Battlefield series of games [although I can still get Top Spot on The Board at times! heh]. 
Still, I wanted to try to help others… and I hope that this posting helps anyone improve their mousing (and killing/winning), if that is what they desire to do. 
I always like helping others and teaching others what I can… “The wiser mind mourns less for what age takes away than what it leaves behind.” ~ William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

SYITG

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!

Low-carb lifestyle guidelines

By now you should have a pretty clear idea of what you have to do to improve your diet and, with it, your entire lifestyle.

The general principles

Cut out all unhealthy refined carbohydrates.

  • Curb your intake of high GI carbohydrates and focus on those from the low—medium GI range.
  • Eat most of your fruit and vegetables raw to ensure a good level of phytonutrients and fibre.
  • Eat more high-quality protein — organic if at all possible.
  • Increase your intake of healthy omega-3 fatty acids by eating more oily fish, and use only natural unrefined oils in your cooking.
  • Cut out tea, coffee, concentrated fruit juices and alcohol, and banish soft drinks of any kind, but drink at least eight glasses of water per day.
  • Incorporate 30-45 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three times in to your weekly routine, and carry out resistance training at least three times per week.

Diet Start

DIETARY MYTHS

Myth: skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.

Fact: your body needs a regular supply of nutrients each day in order to work properly. If you skip meals, you will be more likely to make up for it by snacking or eating more at the next meal. Studies show that people who skip breakfast tend to be heavier than those who eat a nutritious breakfast. A healthier way to lose weight is to eat many small meals throughout the day.

Myth: eating after 8 pm causes weight gain

Fact: it doesn’t matter at what time of day you eat; if you are eating too much of the wrong type of food and not getting any exercise, that will make you fat.

Are you all fired up?

You should be, because you are going to get back in control. You now know what you are doing, understand your body and should look on this as an important project that will bring untold benefits. Now that you understand how your body metabolizes the food that you eat, you can start to view food as a vital fuel that helps your body function at optimum levels. This should be a turning point. It should change your attitude from one of ‘Oh no, I’m on a diet’ to a more positive ‘I’m doing this for me, to make myself healthier, fitter, stronger, leaner’.

Pretty soon you are going to be feeling and looking better. Think of that boost of self-confidence that you are going to experience. So get ready to roll and flex that determination. Whether you have 3kg (71b) to lose or 30kg (701b), this regime is only going to work if you are committed to changing your eating and exercise habits for life.

The rest of this section offers advice on weight, and on setting goals for (and managing) weight loss; suggests how to cope with the cravings and snack attacks that may arise when you are on a diet; and gives tips on taking supplements and sticking to a healthy diet, even when you lead a busy lifestyle. It is followed by the three-step programme and nutritious recipes that form theMainstay. Plus, there is also a section on adapting the plans to suit a vegetarian diet, which includes some delicious low-carb vegetarian recipes.

DIETARY MYTH

Myth: low-fat or non-fat means no calories. Fact: many low-fat and non-fat foods still contain a lot of calories. Often these foods also contain extra sugar, flour or starch thickeners to make them taste better. These ingredients all represent extra carbohydrates. As we have seen, you need to eat healthy fats to lose extra fat.

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!

Fabulous Fiber!

Everyone has heard that they need to eat fiber, but few people really know what it is and why it is so important.     Fiber is a form of carbohydrate along with sugars and starches.      Unlike sugars and starch fiber cannot be used for energy because it cannot be broken down into sugar.     Starch and sugars both end us as blood sugar aka glucose.
Starches are simply multiple units of sugar hooked together, and we have enzymes that break them apart so we can use the sugar for fuel.   Fiber is also multiple units of sugar hooked together, but humans lack the enzymes necessary to break it down into sugars so it is not absorbed.    This is very important when thinking about carbohydrate containing foods because they are NOT all the same.
For example, a glass of fruit juice is essentially a glass of sugar water with some beneficial plant chemicals and in many cases a nice dose of vitamin C.    It can dramatically boost blood sugar, and if you consume too much it can definitely drive weight gain.     While a large serving of brocolli is mostly fiber with little sugar and starch and is also chock full of beneficial plant chemicals, but with almost no effect on blood sugar!
There are two main types of fiber – soluble and insoluble.    Ideally you want to eat both.   There is also a third type of fiber called “Digestive Resistant Starch” (see https://workoutanytime.blogspot.com/2017/10/digestion-resistant-starch-all-starch.html)
Soluble fiber, found in foods such as cucumbers, blueberries, and beans, has a gel-like consistency and slows down your digestion.     This helps with satiety (feeling satisfied).    It also slows the break down and absorption of cholesterol and other nutrients like starches and sugar which can help lower cholesterol and control blood sugar.    Some foods with soluble fiber also help feed the good bacteria in your digestive tract.
Insoluble fiberis found in foods like green, leafy veggies, green beans, and celery.    It does not dissolve to a gel and stays intact as it moves through your colon.   By adding bulk, it helps food move more quickly through your digestive tract reducing transit time.  Insoluble Fiber is sometimes referred to as “roughage”, and it along with soluble fiber can help with constipation.
Benefits of High Fiber Intake
Fiber intake is very important for keeping blood sugar levels under control, and studies have shown that people who take in at least 26 grams of fiber per day had a much lower risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
There is also an inverse relationship between fiber intake and heart attack, with research showing that people eating a high fiber diet have a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease.    High fiber diets may also help lower blood pressure.
Another interesting research finding about fiber is that for every 7 grams of fiber you consume each day your stroke risk is decreased 7 percent.      To put this into perspective this equates to about 2 servings of fruits and vegetables.
Fiber, and psyllium in particular, can help move yeasts and fungus out of your digestive system which may help prevent them from triggering acne and rashes.
Fiber can also provide relief from irritable bowel syndrome in many people.
Fiber intake may also help reduce the risk of gallstones and kidney stones probably through its action in controlling blood sugar.
Sources of Fiber
Contrary to popular opinion grains are probably not your best source of fiber.    Unfortunately, non-organic grains are chock full of glyphosate which is pesticide banned in most other countries outside the US because they have no allegiance to Monsanto who produces it.    
A high grain diet promotes insulin and leptin resistance thereby increasing your risk for Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease and Cancer. 
Better choices of fiber includes Organic Whole Husk Psyllium.     If you use this supplement it is critical to get organic psyllium as non-organic psyllium is heavily sprayed with chemicals.     Other great sources include chia seeds, berries, root vegetables such as sweet potato, peas and beans, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and celery.
How much fiber?
Experts recommend that woman eat a minimum of 25 grams of fiber per day and men consume 38 grams per day.     However higher intakes may be more beneficial.     
It is important to SLOWLY increase your fiber intake and keep your water intake high to prevent potential issues caused by eating fiber without sufficient fluid.
Low-Fiber Diet
There are circumstances where high fiber intake is contraindicated and timing for fiber intake relative to drugs and supplements is important.   People with chronic digestive issues may need to remove fiber for some period of time because fiber feeds the bacteria in your gut.    Although as a general rule this is highly beneficial there are circumstances where high fiber intake can feed the wrong microorganisms such as pathogenic bacteria.

Fiber can also bind certain medications and minerals dramatically reducing their absorption so many drugs and mineral supplements should not be taken at the same time as fiber.

How to Organize your Summer Reading

Summer is the perfect time for me to make some progress on the massive stack of books that I accumulate throughout the year. You know that stack — and if you’re like me, that stack may have spawned offspring and multiplied into several stacks around the house. And given the number of summer book studies I keep reading about, I know the stack will continue to grow. Like last week, when I saw that Misty was going to read Number Talks, and I had to get the book.

Or this morning, when I read that Beth at Thinking of Teaching and Brenda at Primary Inspired are hosting a summer book study of Building Mathematical Comprehension: Using Literacy Strategies to Make Meaning by Laney Simmons. I want to read that, too!

With all that I’m currently reading, want to read, and have finished reading, I needed a way to keep track of all these awesome books. Then I remembered GoodReads (this is very distinct from the GoodReader app that I’ve blogged about before).

GoodReads is a social media site focused on reading. I first started using it in 2010 after I finished reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller (if you haven’t read this book, it is a must-read).

She referenced the site in the book, and I used it through my computer for quite a while. Eventually, as I got busier, I started using it less. I recently got an email update about a friend who was using it, however, and it reminded me that I should revisit the site. My how GoodReads has improved since I used it last! First, GoodReads has mobile apps now to help you keep your reading interests up-to-date.

Now, I’m not such a bibliophile that I need to give status updates of what I’m reading non-stop. But these mobile apps have a fabulous feature that I love: a scanner. (Here’s the view of the app from my iPad. The iPhone version is very similar.)

The scanner allows you to scan the barcode on books and then add it to a virtual shelf. Your GoodReads account has 3 default shelves: read, currently reading, and to-read. Shelves are like tags, and you can create your own shelves based on topics or any other organization you’d like. Books can also be housed on multiple shelves at once.

I love using the scan feature to quickly organize the books that I’m reading or plan to read. Given the iPhone app, it’s also a dangerous helpful feature when I go to bookstores and see books that I’d like to read someday. I just scan them in, and it pulls all sorts of data for me about reviews of the book, average rating of the book, page count, etc. For eBooks I’ve purchased that don’t have a scannable barcode, I can also search by title or author.

In addition to using this to manage my summer reading, I expect to use this app more in my classroom library to inventory my collection, identify books that I’ve read or want to read, write recommendations for my students, and so on.

If you decide to give GoodReads a try, feel free to connect with me there. I’d love to connect with other teachers to see what others are reading.

What are some books that you’re planning to read this summer? Any other ideas for ways to use this app? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section, and I hope to connect with you on GoodReads!

Happy summer reading!

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS STYLE FROM SHH

SHH is a London-based company, founded in 1992. Interior design is not their only strong point that the company also makes architectural projects. But now we want to show you how a room can be transformed into an elegant and modern in their vision.

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS FROM SHH

We collected up to 15 different interiors that stand out and can become a real source of inspiration. We deal in the living room, bedroom or the hallway of boredom and failed surprising elements are added to create comfortable spaces. White is airy and gives a sense of calm, while the funky food the best and rebels. Color and light is present in some unusual arrangements with excellent results.

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS STYLE FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS STYLE FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS DESIGN FROM SHH

BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS DESIGN FROM SHH

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.

And More: Share and Tell – Imitating The GTAV Title Logo Style [Commentary]

I recently created a logo for The Blog, done in the style of the GTAV game logo (Grand Theft Auto Five Title Logo, seen Left). I had a lot of fun figuring out how to imitate the look of it and wanted to share a bit of how I did it, in case others want to give it a try too, or just to enjoy the ‘Behind The Scenes’ story of things… Originally I was creating this to be used on Headers for posts here at The Blog (since I was playing GTAV lately), but I also put it on a Wallpaper posted at The Blog’s Flickr page – but then decided that from now on, I will not put ‘my logo’ on Wallpapers that I want to share with everyone, I will just use whatever game logo the game is at the time, reserving ‘my logos’ mainly for use here [I was feeling bad for ‘forcing them onto others’ if I were to put them on Wallpaper for sharing with everyone…]

Just below this paragraph then, is The Blog logo, re-done in the style of the game logo from the game GTAV (Grand Theft Auto Five)… Created entirely in Corel’s Paint Shop Pro, I first had to find a font for the lettering. I found a few of them (Pricedown is one, GTArussian is another, the name of the last one escapes me at the moment). I typed out each word separately, so that I could place them really close together (like the GTAV logo has for its’ words), overlapping some of the ‘tails’ of the text (which was fine, for me). The “B” behind the ribbon was something else… Baskerville, that’s it.

My version of The Blog logo, done in the style of the GTAV game title logo
(Click to see Full Size)

The ribbon was its’ own element, blanked out (white with no text), placed on top of the “B”, which itself was made in layers of outlines and a Gradient, using the original game title logo (“GTAV”) as the source for the green shades (clicking with ‘the dropper’ on the far sides of the green area in the “V” in the GTAV logo). The spiral design was found online by an anonymous maker [let me know if it is you, I’ll give you Credit!], which I had to colourize and then placed in a way that was similar to the GTAV logo, on a layer below the text “B” vectors, so that it ‘shows through’ within the “B” area.

The text on the ribbon was made with a font that escapes me at the moment, but the colouring for it was hard to figure out, as it looks like it is directional (as though a light were casting highlights from one direction). I figured out to use the Bevel effect in the Layer Styles of Paint Shop Pro, to emulate a light source coming from the bottom-left, for the text ‘The Blog’. It turned out great for imitating the lighting on the text ‘Five’ in the GTAV game title logo ribbon! The hardest part was getting it to ‘curve’. I don’t know how to create a line and make the Text follow the line yet, so I simply used the Mesh Warp function, to ‘move it around’ manually and get it to seem at least a bit like it is curved.

A few layers of black and grey for ‘outlining’ the text and entire composition (made by ‘expanding’ the selected text and then Filling with Black or Grey, moving the white text in front of it each time) and it was complete…

I’ll mainly be using it in Headers and Screenshots in posts almost exclusively here, at The Blog. I just thought that some might like to hear a bit of ‘Behind The Scenes’ or ‘Commentary’ about it – hey, there are a lot of people that (like me) watch Commentaries! Haha

I hope you enjoyed my little Share and Tell – and if you play GTA Online – See You In The Game!

Original GTAV game logo design by Rockstar, Take-Two Interactive

[Personal Note/Declaration: I am not associated with, nor do I receive anything in any manner or form, for mentioning Corel or Paint Shop Pro. I am merely an enthusiastic user of the program (I have played with it off and on since it was owned by JASC). For fairness and completivity, I shall mention another great graphic editing program, The Gimp (now just called GIMP?) – which is Open Source and entirely Free – all of the steps above can also be performed with this free program]

The Secret Knowledge of Fourth Graders

As I was reminded in reading all of the June Currently’s, not everyone is on summer vacation yet. So for those of you who are not yet enjoying time off, I wanted to share a fun creative writing activity that works well for the end of the year.

One of my favorite books to share with students is The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups by David Wisniewski.

In this highly-entertaining book, Wisniewski takes several “rules” that children often hear — like “eat your vegetables” — and explains the real reason that rule exists. For example, we don’t eat our vegetables because they make us healthy. The real reason we eat them is to stop them from rising up and taking over the world! Or, we don’t brush our hair to help us look neat, we do it to stop the hair from growing back into our heads and crowding out our brains. The book is filled with hilarious examples and colorful illustrations that my students loved.

I read excerpts from this book over the course of a couple days, and several of my students looked at it in their free-time. We then set out to write our own examples for a class book entitled “The Secret Knowledge of Fourth Graders.”

Here are some of the “rules” students wrote about:

  • Why you need to read “Just Right Books”
  • Why we use number 2 pencils on tests
  • Why you can only check out 2 books from the library at a time
  • Why we take AR tests
  • Why it’s important not to be tardy
  • Why we return library books on time
  • Why we have homework
  • Why we use pencils instead of pens
  • Why we don’t bend the pages of a book
  • Why we stack chairs at the end of the day
  • Why we take standardized tests

The creativity in the “real” reasons why we do these things was fantastic. Here’s an example from one of my students:

We wrote our final drafts on our iPads in Pages using the Visual Report template. That helped tremendously with the formatting.

I’m planning to share several of these examples with my students next year, and I will definitely do this activity again. My students enjoyed it so much that several of them were talking about making other “spin-off” books such as The Secret Knowledge of Minecraft Players or The Secret Knowledge of Readers. I’m sorry that I didn’t get to see how those turned out as well.

If you’ve never read The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups, I highly recommend it. It’s great for sparking creative writing ideas, and it can provide a fun writing activity in the late stages of the year.

What are some other school rules you can envision your students writing about? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

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.

1948 Packard woody station wagon and matching teardrop trailer

https://silodrome.com/packard-eight-station-sedan-teardrop-camper/

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.

Managing the Work/Rest Ratio in HIIT Training

High Intensity Interval Training aka HIIT training is all the rage and there are many different HIIT training protocols available, but to produce the best results it is important to understand how to manipulate the Work/Rest Ratio.    The Work/Rest Ratio is the ratio of time spent working in the high intensity interval to the time spent in the recovery interval and there is no one ideal Work/Rest Ratio. In fact there are three distinct methods you can use to design interval training programs based on how you manipulate the Work/Rest Ratio.
Fixed Work, Fixed Recovery
This is the most common method and often used for group training because it keeps everyone working together.   In this method the amount of time spent in the work phase is fixed as is the amount of time in the recovery phase.   For example the ever popular “Tabata” Protocol is a fixed work, fixed recovery protocol using 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of recovery done 8 times.    Another example is the Sprint 8 protocol which uses 30 seconds of work and 90 seconds of recovery.  In addition, all MX4 programming uses this method either for a 60/30 work/rest ratio or a 4 to 1 Minute Work to Rest Ratio during Density Workouts.
Needless to say there are endless variations of fixed work, fixed recovery interval protocols and each one feels different and allows for a different level of relative intensity.    The advantage of these type of protocols is that they are very simple to design and very easy to track using a simple timer, and if using heart rate monitoring you can adjust the actual work intensity and recovery intensity based on individual heart rate response.   Also this is a very easy way for a trainer to manage a group as mentioned previously.
Fixed Work, Variable Recovery
In this method the amount of time spent working is fixed, but recovery time varies based on heart rate response.  This method is a more individualized way to do HIIT training where each work interval begins after the heart rate slows to a predetermined point correlated with a specific level of individual recovery.  The advantage of this method is it can be customized to each person based on their goal, age and current fitness level.   An example would be doing a 1 minute work interval with a fit 20 year old and setting the recovery threshold at say 120 beats per minute (a relatively low exercise heart rate for a fit 20 year old).  So he would work as hard as he can for 1 minute then go into recovery and stay in recovery until his heart rate slows to 120 beats per minute.
Variable Work, Variable Recovery
This method varies work time AND recovery time based on preset work heart rates and recovery heart rates.   For example using the same example of a fit 20 year old you might set a goal work heart rate threshold at 180 beats per minute – meaning that you keep him working hard until his heart rate hits this work threshold and then immediately begin recovery.    Then you would keep him at a reduced work rate until he hit a predetermined recovery heart rate threshold such as 120 beats per minute.    This is a highly sophisticated and highly individualized way of exercising with precise management of work and rest customized to the individual.
Have some fun and experiment with each of these to prevent plateaus in your workout progress!

Cut your Protein why no Sugar?

The case against sugar is a complex one. Besides the fact that refined sugar is a totally unnatural substance that has been stripped of its nutritional value—fiber, vitamins, and minerals—apart from the calories it provides, sugar in concentrated form is very hard on the pancreas. The pancreas, which is responsible for the production of insulin and therefore the regulation of blood sugar and energy levels in the body, has adapted through evolution to deal with a steady flow of glucose in small quantities such as those that result from the intake of complex carbohydrates.

One of the biggest beauty cons of all is the idea that if you eat lots of protein your muscles, skin, hair, and nails will grow strong and you will stay young. Like the old-fashioned high protein diet for building up athletic strength, it doesn’t work. The human need for protein has been grossly exaggerated. At the turn of the century, respected opinion held that we need between 120 and 169 grams of protein per day. Then Chittenden showed in human experiments that far better performance and health were possible on fifty grams, a much lower amount. Another scientist named Hindhede set the figure at thirty grams. Then Oomen in Amsterdam and Hipsley in Canberra discovered a population in Australia which develop not only full health, but exceptional muscular structure and performance on a diet of merely 15 to 20 grams of protein per day.

Diet Start

Later in the United States, the American Research Council’s Food and Nutrition Board agreed on a daily requirement of 70 grams for adults. One member of the board, named Sherman, described how this figure was arrived at. The evidence the committee examined indicated that a much lower amount was needed, somewhere around 35 grams, but there was agreement that if so low a figure had been set there would have been a public outcry, so a corresponding “margin of safety” was decided on and the 70-gram figure was published. But because the scientific basis for the figure was nonexistent, the word “recommendation” was chosen instead of “requirement.” Current recommendations for protein intake hover about the 50-gram mark, although there is strong evidence now that we probably need even less.

Your body needs amino acids, the constituents of protein, for its metabolic processes, for growth and the repair and maintenance of body tissue. Proteins are made up of twenty-two different amino acids; all but eight of them your body can manufacture itself. These eight, which have to be taken in through your foods, are referred to as “essential” amino acids.

A large portion of a protein molecule is made up of nitrogen, and one of the important things about taking protein is that it helps keep a good nitrogen balance in the body, so there is as much nitrogen coming into the body as there is leaving it. This balance helps maintain body health and muscle strength, so that you don’t go into what is known as a negative nitrogen balance, when you lose muscle tissue from your body. To keep your nitrogen right, 10 to 15 percent of your total calorie intake should be from protein.

But when a greater percentage than this of your calorie intake comes from protein foods, then your body goes into a negative mineral balance and you start gradually losing precious minerals and trace elements such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and chromium from your system. These nutrients, so easily lost from the body, are vital not only to physical health but also to emotional stability and well-being (more about minerals later). Wachmann and Bernstein of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University investigated the high protein diet and came to the conclusion that the protein-rich (especially the meat-heavy) diet plays a strong role in the genesis of osteoporosis, a softening of the bones, particularly in women after menopause, caused by the loss of minerals. This is probably because of the high protein diet’s tendency to leach valuable minerals (in this case calcium) from the system. And purely from the point of view of physical beauty, many of these lost minerals, such as sulfur, selenium, zinc. magnesium, and calcium, can make the difference between prematurely aging skin caused by a rapid collagen and elastin breakdown, nails that split, or hair in poor condition, and radiant looks glowing with strength and health.

Finally, the breakdown and metabolism of proteins in the body lead to the formation of a number of complex by-products such as urea, nitrogen, and ammonia, which can be toxic. These wastes need to be eliminated. This isn’t always easy, and it puts great strain on the liver and kidneys. This is why, on the well-known high protein reducing diets, you are advised to drink large amounts of water in order to water down these poisons and help excrete them.

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.

Kaatsu aka Blood Flow Restriction Training

Kaatsu training was developed in Japan five decades ago.  Ka means “additional” and atsu means “pressure.” An English layman’s term for the practice is “blood flow restriction training,” and involves performing strength training exercises while restricting blood flow to the extremity being worked.

A significant benefit of the method is that you can use just 30 to 50 percent of the weight you’d normally use while still reaping maximum benefits of resistance training. You use less weight but do more — up to 20 or 30 repetitions versus 8 or 12 in most traditional strength training programs.
Cuffs or bands are used that are just tight enough to allow arterial blood flow but not venous flow. This causes lactic acid and other waste products to build up, giving you the same benefit as heavy lifting without the dangers associated with heavy weights. For this reason, it’s a great strategy for the elderly and those who are recuperating from an injury.

Scientists believe that restricting venous blood return can dramatically boost growth hormone secretion, reducing myostatin and inducing cell swelling.    Even better there is less overall tissue damage compared to traditional high intensity resistance training.

History of Blood Flow Restriction Training

The history of this type of training was detailed in an Outdoors Online Article (https://www.outsideonline.com/2023016/you-should-probably-try-japanese-blood-flow-routine):

“Kaatsu came about in 1966 when 18-year-old [Dr.] Yoshiaki Sato, now a doctor, noticed the intense ache in his calves after having assumed the traditional Japanese sitting position during a typically long Buddhist ceremony. It was an ache much like the one he experienced after lifting weights — an ache he realized had to do [with] the occultation of blood circulation.
Eureka! Using himself as a test subject, Sato spent the next several years perfecting a system of blood-flow moderation using bicycle tubes, ropes and straps. He later replaced the tubes with thin computer-controlled pneumatic bands. The idea was to apply pressure around the arms and legs while lifting a light load, safely impeding the flow of blood to exercising muscles.
Slowing this flow engorges the limbs with blood, expanding capillaries, engaging muscle fibers and raising lactic acid concentration. But — and here’s part of what makes Kaatsu unique — it fools the brain into thinking it’s being put through a vigorous workout.”

Kaatsu training can stimulate muscle growth and strength in about half the time, using about one-third of the weight, compared to regular resistance training.

How does Kaatsu Work?

The concept idea behind blood flow restriction training is to restrict blood flow in an exercising muscle/s using a band around the upper portion of the arm or leg being worked. This creates a metabolic disturbance that has local and systemic effects:

1. A reduction in the partial pressure of oxygen and increase in the acidity of the muscle tissue stimulates protein synthesis through an adaptive response to the stressor.

2. The central nervous system also senses the challenge and compensates by increasing sympathetic tone, heart rate, ventilation and sweating.   There is also an accentuated hormonal response as mentioned previously.

Kaatsu also stimulates mTOR signaling and lowers myostatin (myostation stops muscle growth!)
Unexpectedly muscle growth occurs both sides of the cuff even though blood flow is only restricted on the side farthest away from the heart.    The systemic increase in Growth Hormone also drives overall muscle growth.

How much Pressure?

It is important not to restrict blood flow too much, as this could lead to injury and fainting.
The good news is that research shows that if you use common sense the risk of using too much pressure is easy to minimize.  Your limb should not be tingling, turning red, blue or purple, and you should not lose feeling and should be able to feel your pulse in the limb.
For a great quick start guide to Kaatsu click here:  https://www.kaatsu-global.com/quick-start-guide-001/
Kaatsu Training Protocol

A typical training session uses three sets 0f 20 – 30 repetitions per set. use half or less of the weight you’d normally use. Rest between sets is short with typical rest time being 30 seconds.

Could Kaatsu Cause Injury such as Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Kaatsu is NOT the same as putting a tourniquet on and if you follow proper precautions is quite safe.    The key is that Kaatsu does NOT alter arterial blood flow as described previously.    It is important to use cuff’s designed specifically for this process.
Contraindications for Kaatsu

  • Women who have had a mastectomy with or without radiation and/or an axillary node dissection should not use blood flow restriction training.
  • People in hemodialysis who have arterial venous fistulas. Avoid doing blood flow restriction on the affected limb
  • Pregnant women should not use Kaatsu training.

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

Speedrun – Hitman: Absolution – Contracts (The First Hit)

After playing through the first Contract (“The First Hit”) properly, I noticed that the only requirements were to kill the target. It didn’t seem to matter if you got spotted or anything else, so I thought – that would be perfect for a Speedrun!

Level: Hitman (Absolution) – Contracts (The First Hit)
Time: 21 seconds
Score: 95,186
Runs: About 4-5

After a couple runs of seeing what the fastest path might be (leaping over the log takes more time than running around imo), I changed to a smaller resolution and turned the graphics down to low settings to help with speed. I don’t know if this is the fastest possible route, I just found it worked well instinctively after a few runs.

Bandicam seems to have some trouble with H:A, the fps keeps popping through, and seems to lag it out a bit. I even tried disabling SLI. I thought it might be my NVIDIA cards, and in the end, I ended up running it on an AMD/ATi HD 6870 even smoother than dual GTX 560Ti’s (this game prefers AMD videocards).

Good luck with it and See You In The Games!

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.

Personal Log: Might not be able to post for a bit longer still… [Editorial/Personal]


Personal Log, Stardate 20160901 [I have no idea how that works heh]

Just a quick Personal Note to say that I apologize to my dear readers for not posting anything for a while, and that I may not be able to post for a while longer yet… I have been experiencing a worsening of my ongoing symptoms… I may be okay in about week or so and finish up some Project irons I have in the fire; but I don’t know, it may take longer than that to get back up to the point where I can play and finish testing some recording programs I was working on, and post about it all…

< Potentially Sad Talking About Sicknesses Follows, In Case Of Feels, Stop Reading, Play Game >
I’ve never really mentioned what I have or what I go through before, since starting this Blog five years ago.. I didn’t really want to trouble people or put those thoughts/feelings on them, but I have had a few people ask me personally what it was – and I was looking something up recently about my condition (it’s a condition I (and Doctors as well) are constantly having to learn about) and I read quite a bit about other similar stories, where other suffers were in much worse condition than me… They were literally bed-ridden… And while I was also like that for the first couple of years, I have improved slowly over time to the point where I can sit up, and sometimes even play games, and on good days work on an article and do things around the house… 
My condition is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, which is an infection of the brain and spinal column, which gives components of Chronic Fatigue (getting tired easily with a slow recovery rate (as in days) if I go to the store, etc) and Fibromyalgia (inflammation and pain in all areas of the body, like when you get a ‘flu’ and are sore all over? it’s that, all the time…heck, many of your Aunts or Mothers may have Fibromyalgia, so you may have heard about it..). It is not a well-known disorder, despite millions of Americans having it.

Every year I learn something new about it or studies that found out something new about it; but nothing is ever concrete on ‘how to get rid of it’, unfortunately. The only good part about that is, is that all Doctors have concluded that it is “something that goes away on it’s own, but noone knows when”… Some people have it for a year or so and some have it the remainder of their lives. I am in my 10th year now, but as I have said in the past, I try to always see the positive in things and I have been slowly improving overall, slowly over the years…

I don’t want to make anyone feel sad, I am sorry if this information does… I merely wanted to inform my readers that I may not be able to post things I have been working on for a while longer… Some of the things I was working on are: GPU-Accelerated Game Recorder Comparisons (Playclaw, Bandicam, Mirillis Action, D3Dgear, and more), First Impressions of some games that I started work on already (The Elder Scrolls Legends Closed Beta, Dropzone Closed Beta, A Return To The Elder Scrolls Online (I was in the Beta for it) and others), bringing back the “Can You Guess Where The Screenshot Below Is From” (there have been no winners so far and I have some Giftable Games a-waiting on Steam and GamersGate) and even more projects that I don’t want to mention yet – to keep them a ‘surprise’, heh).

I enjoy writing my articles and posts here, helping others with the information I have figured out, found or collected, doing testing, giving tips of games and even Video Editing and showing effects of settings in both, including also creating the Headers and graphics utilized here (they are all done by me)…
I plan to continue doing this for a long time to come… I just realized there has not been much the past little while and wanted to let you all know there may not be some yet for just a little bit longer (‘recovering’ from a Cold or “doing too much” takes about a week or more each time I do something or get a cold, to get back to where I was, with this illness, everything takes far longer..).
Thank you for your patience, my wonderful readers, and I hope that I can contribute helpful information again for you, in the near future.

Sincerely,

~Troy from The Game Tips And More Blog

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. 

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.

And More: Deals and Sales – Black Friday Weekend 2013 Deals Are On Now


I don’t usually talk about current sales/promotions on this site [or haven’t so far], but after seeing all of the sales on out there, I had to make a quick post just to say that there are some great deals on now! 

Even if you don’t live in the United States (for instance, I’m in Canada [eh]) you can still take advantage of them, as most electronics and entertainment companies are on the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend bandwagon, with tons of purchases available online – and it’s all “nuthin’ but good” for gamers… Steam, Origin, Gamefly and other digital gaming distribution platforms are all chock full of great sales, as is Amazon, TigerDirect, MemoryExpress and other local and online hardware stores, allowing you to finally get that Upgrade you’ve been wanting, should you decide to jump on a deal out there.

Some examples of games on sale are below; but whether you buy a few games this weekend or save your money and just play with the new influx of players in your own favourite online game – I hope you enjoy your weekend and have some fun:

An example of the Black Friday Weekend Sales for 2013 on Steam

A small example of the Black Friday Weekend Sales for 2013 on Origin

An example of the Black Friday Weekend Sales for 2013 on Gamefly

See You In The Games!

Guild Wars 2: How To Ride “The Train” of Queensdale (Champion ‘Farming’ Runs As A Group) Tutorial with Map

[NOTE*** As of April 15th, 2014 the changes to the game with the April 2014 Feature Pack update have altered The Train route somewhat – these changes will be updated in this map and article as they solidify into a commonly-agreed Route…
FURTHER UPDATES AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS ARICLE]

Ah, Guild Wars 2… I’m having so much fun with you, I can barely stop to start typing helpful Tips for others to read! Why are you so awesome? Oh, that’s right, your creators and other ArenaNet buddies heard the nighttime wails of MMORPG players from other games around the globe and listened intently to our cries, wanting to soothe us softly by satisfying requests we players have made of all of those other games, didn’t you? Oh, yes you did.  The result: a game I wish I had gotten into a lot sooner… Thank you, ArenaNet.


For those new to the game (or those who haven’t done this before), in the beginning area of the Human lands of Kryta, there is a phenomenon called “The Train”. After asking a few questions in-game and watching it a while, and then joining in on it off and on, on my own, I feel I can now safely share a simplified Tutorial on ‘The Train’ and explain to others (mainly newcomers to Guild Wars 2) what it is and how to be a part of it, if you wish to be.

Loading Screen for the Queensdale region, where ‘runs’ of The Train take place
(Click to see Full Size)

What is The Train?

‘The Train’ in Queensdale is, essentially, a cooperation of players moving and killing together as a group [in an MMO game?Whoknew?lol]. The Train targets a small number of Champion-type mobs [MOBile monsters], killing these same ones in a repeating cycle, again and again. The pattern [the “Route that The Train takes”] has evolved over time and differs little, no matter what server/shard you are on. Traveling and moving in collaboration with each other gives the result of faster kills, experience and loot for all those taking part (and sometimes the groups can get quite large). In Guild Wars 2, one does not need to ‘Party’ or form an ‘official’ group of any kind, in order to benefit from conquering enemies together [even when not following The Train]. Merely join alongside and help out a bit, and you too are now part of the Clique of Killing and can reap the rewards.

Even though The Train runs in the first leveling/adventuring area of the Humans (called Kryta), you can play any Race you wish, and then run/travel to the Human lands and be a part of The Train. There are no restrictions on Race interaction (no ‘sides’; no factions, no clans, no tribes [to restrict players]) in Guild Wars 2. Any race can be created and interact with any of the other Races in Guild Wars 2. So, be whatever race you want to be, you can still head to Queensdale and get on The Train!

When ‘on The Train’ (following the group around and helping to kill the Champion monsters), you do have to be a high enough level to ‘hit’ the enemies in order to register as a ‘contributor of the group’ and benefit from the encounter (get experience, be able to loot, etc). With the Champion mobs being ‘farmed’ [by The Train] averaging Level 10 in this region (these are the only mobs that The Train goes after, remember), you may not be able to actually hit them until your character is about Level 7 or 8; so if you are playing a brand new character, do some starting Quests, World Events or your character’s Storyline for a bit first.

Killing the Boar champion while on the Train in Queensdale
(Click to see Full Size)

If you are a ‘Brand New’ Player to Guild Wars 2, I strongly suggest doing that for the most part anyway (Quests and Storylines), as doing so, you will more easily learn how to control your character, fight battles, use your skills as you learn them, and learn to navigate the territories and develop your character as a whole.
The Train is, for the most part, a repeated cycle of killing [almost absolutely nothing but] a small number of Champion ‘boss’ style monsters (as in 5-6 of them, depending on the route The Train takes on your Server/Shard, remember it differs little) – and there have already been arguments all over forums and other websites as to whether relatively New Players should take part in it at all (and if it harms the gameplay/environment of newer players). I believe that this decision is up to each individual, as some people might eschew the practice completely until Level 80 (the current maximum level as of the time of this post), while other people will love the camaraderie and easy access to loot (you always get items comparative to your current level, whatever that may be, when the Champions die).
As with any game, there will always be people that will say a certain activity is too repetitive and boring, and there will always be people that will say it is a good source of ‘loot’, and there will always be people that will advise doing something else (like playing PvP or more PvE). I like to suggest, if people ask, that each person try Taking A Ride On The Train for themselves at least a few times, then judge whether they wish to continue doing it or move on to other things, leaving the choice up to each player.

[On a personal note for a moment, merely to address this matter that many people seem to argue about and state my own personal opinion, I myself enjoy roaming the lands of GW2 randomly, helping out NPCs and doing the little events found around the world. I play usually always play solo and that affords me the ability to change it up and do whatever activity I want, stop whenever I want (or if I get too tired physically and have to stop, due to my illness) and roam around taking [way too many] screenshots of the environs, gathering resources as I leisurely explore and discover the countryside. I often forget about the Storyline for my character – there is so much to do in the world; but I try to get in on it as I remember to and develop my character along with the story that is tailored for each Race. I do take a ride on The Train, but only as a ‘something else to do for a change’, not as my ‘main leveling mechanic’ or my ‘main source for items’. I like to think this off-and-on approach allows me to enjoy The Train while not getting too bored of it too quickly, all the while being able to enjoy the game at the same time, and it is just ‘another thing that I can do’ in the huge game world of Guild Wars 2.]

Killing the Troll champion while on the Train in Queensdale
(Click to see Full Size)

How does one ‘get on’ The Train? 

First, I always suggest to others, to get the Waypoints that The Train uses first. This will allow you to quickly relocate and follow The Train, travelling to the next Champion that is to be killed. If you did not create a Human, travel to The Human Lands and simply run to the Waypoints to open them up on your map and register them so that they can then allow you to return to them/use them in the future and for Riding The Train.

Don’t worry, there are only three main waypoints used in The Train’s generally-used rotation (and it differs only slightly on some servers/shards [for instance, on Eredon Terrace, “The Bandit” is very rarely killed by The Train – which seems to be the main difference for The Route from other shards – however, since I have created my character on ET, this is the example I will use]). The waypoints used and the route generally taken are all shown in this graphic I have created of the map of Queensdale below.

The Game Tips And More Blog’s Map of Queensdale and The Train Route as of April 2014 [Old Version]
(Click to see Full Size)

The Route that The Train takes usually runs like this (repeatedly):

  • Begin the Route from the upper right [the Double Orange Arrows on the map I created, above]
  • Kill the Boar champion in the hills there, NW of the Hunting Lodge
  • Fast Travel to the Vale Waypont and head into the caves just to the west
  • Kill the Troll champion inside the caves of Altar’s Windings
  • Fast Travel to the Phinney Waypoint and head NW to a glade at the edge of the trees
  • Kill the Rotting Ancient Oakheart champion at the forest’s edge
  • Fast Travel to the Krytan Waypoint and head NE, towards two large hills
  • Kill the Forest Spider champion on the larger hill, SE of the Hunting Lodge in a grove of trees
  • Run NW past the Hunting Lodge and up into the hills and wait for the Boar event again
A couple notes about the map: I made ‘tick marks’ (they look like little orange hyphens/dashes) that remind you of the order the champions are killed in and which Waypoint to take [-, –, —, etc]. I managed to capture and keep the ‘white dotted-line of travel’, running around following The Train, so if you are a bit lost, try to re-create the white dotted path that you see on my map. To help with finding the Forest Spider champion on a hill SE of the Hunting Lodge (and NE from the Krytan Waypoint), I put a small orange “S” where it is normally encountered. Lastly, my server/shard does not kill The Bandit Lieutenant champion [and we may be the only shard that doesn’t apparently], but if you wish to find him, he is in the Bandithaunt Caverns, N of the Vale Waypont.

The champion Boar shows up only after someone talks to Lodgemaster Carthage at the Hunting Lodge. There is a short event waiting period, then two hunters come out and slowly stalk their prey. Everyone usually waits in the hills to the NW of the Lodge and this can be a good time to go through your inventory, unpacking any goodies, salvaging, organizing, etc. There may even be some Banners nearby that can give beneficial Boons [“Buffs”], usually placed by some friendly Guild Member. Take a short break, get a drink – and get ready to jump back on The Train!

When you sit down and start to play a new gaming session, or if you have lost track of where to go next, you can always ask in Chat (/map) where The Train is at that moment, to know where to ‘get on’ (to join in). Most people simply type, “Train?” or ask “Where is the train now?”, and usually some kind soul will answer and state what stop The Train is at (what champion they are killing), or where they are heading to, at that moment. Common answers are, “Boar” or “Spider is up” or “waiting on Troll” or “at Oak”, for the various champions (it may differ slightly on your server, but not by much). Sometimes, a helpful person will suggest, “Head to __some champion__”, which means that the one they are currently fighting is almost dead, so you ‘might as well head to the next one’.

Killing the Oak champion while on the Train in Queensdale
(Click to see Full Size)

A few things to keep in mind as you ride The Train are: you have to be able to hit the mob in order to be able to loot it at all, therefore you may have trouble if you are much lower than level 7 or so (the mobs are Level 10). Loot will drop that is around your character’s level, no matter what it is, so you can usually use it right away or soon. The Boar portion of the Route takes a little bit to get started and sometimes people will say phrases like, “Boar is Walking” or “Hunters are Walking” or “Boar Starting” and so on, to let everyone know, who were most likely just standing around waiting or AFK, that the event is beginning. You can gather Resources that are around (mine veins, gather plants/food, cut down trees) or that you pass by, on your way to the champions, just don’t fall too far behind if the group is large – they can start to kill these Champions pretty darn fast – and you might miss out on the Loot Drop entirely!

Killing the Spider champion while on the Train in Queensdale
(Click to see Full Size)
That’s it! Try not to bore yourself with repeating this excessively, by the way. Have fun, enjoy the loot and camaraderie of fellow GW2 players; but if it starts to become boring, go back to your character’s story, pop in for some PvP or even do some Gathering, enjoying the landscape and beauty that is Guild Wars 2.

[UPDATE 1*** As of April 23rd, 2014 there seems to still be a lot of confusion as to the accepted/overall Route that The Train should take. There have been many arguments over what order the train will travel in and opposing groups will perform the run in awkward manner to each other. As a result, ‘finalized’ changes to this map and article will be delayed, until the community can solidify a pattern/route for The Train.
For now, “the basics” of what the Train is and does are secure and remain the same as this article. The Train may still run on your server/shard in the same manner, in general. Enjoy these aspects of this post, for now]
[UPDATE 2*** As of May 3rd, 2014 although there is still a bit of debating as to what should be a ‘standard route’ for The Train to take, a general consensus seems to be forming and this map and article will be redone and/or updated Soon™]
[UPDATE 3*** As of June 2014, although there is still some debate that occurs (mainly because someone gets to Oak ‘early’ and kills it on the group), most of the consensus appears to be this route: 
Boar-Troll-Bandit-Oak
I am working on a new, updated version of the map and will insert it here when finished.
For now, the rest of the information of this post (how to follow the train, etc.) is still valid and hopefully found helpful, for those who are interested in knowing what The Train Of Queensdale is and how to do it]

See You In The Game!

My Trip to Dhaka Bangladesh

I arrived in Dhaka, Bangladesh on the 24th of March for my next assignment on Financial Management Systems. The organization contracting me has some issues with its financial management system and has received recommendation from the auditors to fix these issues. Further they want to conform to the South Asian Federation of Accountants Standards. So my task is simple. Document the existing practices at the organization and get agreement on the current practices and then recommend changes and improvements to the system.

Well even though it is simple there can be quite a few things that can pose a challenge to this type of assignment. I already encountered one on the first day of my assignment (25th); which is, in a group of around 20 finance staff it was quite difficult to plot the current financial practices using flow chart symbols as non of them knew the current system in its entirety. It is still work in progress and I hope to have it pinned down during the next working day which is Saturday (Bangladesh uses the Islamic calendar); where the staff have agreed to come to work.

The last time I was in Bangladesh was way back in January of 2008; so it was good to come back to Bangladesh and to see how things are. I must say that the only thing that looked to have changed is in fact the increase in motor traffic. It takes for ever to commute on Dhaka roads. I am staying at the Ambrosia guest house in Dhanmondi where I stayed during my earlier visits to Dhaka. It felt good to be here where the staff recognize and remember you after a long absence; it really does feel like home when you are greeted by familiar faces.

Looking forward to the next few days of the assignment; it is scheduled to end in early April and then I have another assignment lined up in the Philippines.

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.

And More: A Simple Explanation Why ‘Loot Boxes’ May Be Considered “Gambling”, In Games Like Star Wars Battlefront II, Et Al… [Editorial]

((Portions of this article
may or may not have
information obtained
from this unidentified
Imperial Officer))

Recently, in the game Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (EA, Dice), there was the introduction of “Loot Boxes”. These are purchasable ‘crates’ that can contain multiple items. These items are generated randomly (RNG, Random Number Generation) and are obtainable by using “RealLife™” Money [my superscript as pun] – and therein lies the problem being discussed.

In an attempt to explain it simply on a Steam Forum Thread a few days ago, I posted the comment below. I replicate it here, to share with others, so that this whole ‘issue’ may be understood more fully:

“If I may pop in, to explain the reason why “loot boxes could be considered gambling”; it is due to a few factors:

– There is an RNG factor in the potential items from the Loot Boxes (the items are random, and some items are worth more than others)

– The inclusion of the possibility of utilizing RealLife™ Currency to obtain them.
[Because of this element, more than anything, it could possibly be construed as “gambling”…]

– Because the items (1) can be exchanged in the game for other items that ‘cost RealLife™ Money (2), they are ‘gambling on the possibility’ that they will ‘save money’ if there are better/higher items in the Box purchased (i.e. they will ‘save money’ if the RNG produces higher/better items in the Box; they will not have to buy much more)

Together, all three points mean the game essentially has “gambling” within it…
I assume the reason why some parents are getting upset about it, is that there is a possibility of a Minor using their RealLife™ Money to obtain the Loot Boxes (in any game).

The solution is simple however; remove the possibility of utilizing RealLife™ money to obtain the Chests/Boxes/etc OR the possibility of getting ‘better items’ that will ‘deconstruct into elements that can accrue to get better items’ (“saving money” if the better items appear via RNG) and there is no longer the possibility of it being “gambling”, as it were.”


The above points, along with the fact that the ‘items’ can actually affect a players’ performance (i.e. a person with more items or better items can actually live longer or do more damage than someone without the items), is the sum of the whole problem that is upsetting many gamers, the entire issue becoming aflame in the recent release (Nov.17th) of “Star Wars: Battlefront II”.

Other games (eg. “Team Fortress 2”), handle this concern for the most part by making sure that the items contained in their ‘loot crates’ are only ‘cosmetic items’ (hats, skins, costumes, etc) that do not affect player performance against other human players. It remains to be seen whether the “RNG Factor” involved in such ‘Crates of Loot’ in these other games, like TF2, are going to still become a ‘gambling’ issue, or not.

Hopefully this helps you dear reader, in understanding the issue at hand and why some people are getting ‘up in arms’ about it at this time. 

~Troy from The Game Tips And More Blog

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.

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/

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.

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

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.

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. 

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

Battlefield Play4Free – PlayTesting The XM8AR LMG (3 Full Rounds – Myanmar, Dalian) Raw Gameplay [Unedited] Gameplay Video

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 (now called Play4Free Funds) 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 random 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.

I recently won the XM8AR in The Daily Draw (for one day of use) on my Medic and thought I’d try it out and see how it felt and quickly write a post about it [I’ll call these PlayTests]. I am not a gun expert or know a lot about the statistics of the guns, but I will discuss briefly here how the gun actually feels and plays, especially compared to the Medic default, the MG3 Light Machine Gun. I played a few rounds with XM8AR LMG and recorded the first three full rounds. Here they are, shared unedited for you [a ‘Raw Gameplay’ video]:

Recorded with: Bandicam @1080p (HD) using the x264/H264/AVC Codec
Recorded game: Battlefield Play4Free (MMOFPS, a F2P game/Microtransactions)
Recorded levels/maps: Myanmar (Jungle, Assault), Dalian Plant (Rural Industrial Port, Defense then Attack)

[YouTube did something with the Aspect Ratio of this video and I had to use a command in the Tags section to fix it. Let me know if anyone has problems viewing this video properly]

Normally locked until Level 15, the XM8 felt great to use on my Level 10 Medic. It’s ammo box is a little smaller at 60 rounds (vs. the default Medic’s MG3 having 80 rounds), but it never felt ‘cramped for shots’ and didn’t feel like it took too long to reload.

The XM8AR Light Machine Gun is normally locked and cannot be used until your Soldier is Level 15, unless it is bought outright or won in The Daily Draw. Click to see Full Size

The nicest thing about the XM8 was the accuracy. You could really tell you were going from the “Low” rating of the Medic Default MG3 to the “High” rating of the XM8AR.

Comparison of basic stats between the default Medic gun, the MG3, and the XM8AR

Looking down the sights, the three-prong irons of the front sight are quite thin and easy to line up in the view of the rear sight, which is in the form of a circle. There is only a little bit of a pull up and slightly to the right, but the recoil is very small and easy to compensate for once you get used to it. I even felt comfortable shooting from the hip and at a distance because this gun felt so darn accurate compared to the starting weapon for a Medic.

The thin front prongs of the iron sight feel easy to line up for targets farther away and the XM8AR feels like it is very accurate, as can be seen by this Headshot from across a courtyard in Myanmar. Click to see Full Size

An all around great gun, it was fun as hell to use for a day. For only 300 Credits you can try out for a day of play, too. If you have 1250 spare Play4Free Funds you can purchase it permanently. It is a nice accurate gun to run with and may be worth it. Try it out for yourself sometime.

Have fun and See You In The Game!

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.

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,

Men’s Body Click Diet part 4

Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy and Prostate Cancer

Benign prostatic hypertrophy is an enlargement of the prostate that’s called benign because it is not due to cancer cells. Still, the enlargement can be far from benign if it results in a lack of control over functions that we all take for granted, including urinating when you want to urinate and only then. A single urinary accident in front of your classmates in the first grade can constitute a major, unforgettable scar in one’s childhood; a repeat performance, like that of my sixty-year-old patient while standing in line at the check-in counter at O’Hare Airport, is no joke either. Nor is `benign’ the right word to describe the condition that underlies such loss of control. BPH may also involve getting up frequently at night to urinate, with the intense urgency to do so unfortunately combined with a disconcerting hesitancy of performance and a lack of reward in the volume of urine produced.

Although the symptoms of BPH can be severe, it is ironic that men with prostate cancer often have no symptoms. As they age, most men, on biopsy, show signs of prostate cancer. In fact, by the time they are in their eighties, nearly all men have prostate cancer, as defined by the typical cancerous appearance of cells under the microscope. Yet, because this particular cancer grows slowly and spreads infrequently, only a small percentage of men actually become sick or die from the disease. (A man’s lifetime risk of dying from prostate cancer is a little less than three per cent.)`’

Diet Start

Given the low odds of illness or death from prostate cancer, it’s confusing from a medical standpoint when a 60-, 70- or 80-year-old man has a prostate biopsy and is found to have cancer cells. Because the question of the actual malignancy of the condition — how likely it is that the cancer will grow quickly enough to cause problems — is difficult to resolve, it encourages a more aggressive approach to therapy than might otherwise be warranted. Since aggressive therapy frequently involves either removing testicles or taking female hormones, which can produce dramatic changes in a man’s body, this is not a trivial question.

Natural therapies for treating or, more important, preventing illness are not usually studied in the same way as pharmaceuticals, because no one can patent a naturally occurring substance like flaxseed powder and make enough money to justify the enormous expense of carefully conducted, controlled and double-blinded studies. Still, the studies show that consuming soy protein and other isoflavone and lignan-containing foods reduces the risk of prostate cancer. And the cancer data suggest strongly — and there is abundant anecdotal evidence to support it — that the same hormonal environment that leads to the high incidence of cancer in older men inour culture, but not in Chinese and Finnish men, is also associated with the risk for prostatic enlargement.5

The simple strategy for preventing the range and frequency of prostate problems is to consume more soy protein, flaxseed powder and rye fiber. If you happen to be a regular bacon, ham or sausage and eggs kind of guy, I urge you to substitute the shake, with its soy protein and flaxseed powder, at least four days a week. It’s good that you’re eating protein at your morning meal and getting the lift you need at the beginning of the day, but what you’re eating will not protect your health like soy protein and flaxseed. (If you don’t have time for breakfast, see the section for travelers in the appendix, where you’ll find a quick shortcut that will help you get your soy protein and flaxseed every day.

The Body Clock Diet and Heart Disease: It’s not Just the Cholesterol

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. Each year, more than five hundred thousand Americans die of heart attacks caused by CHD. Soy intake has been shown to lower cholesterol and decrease cardiovascular disease associated with high cholesterol. There is growing scientific evidence to support this; for example, one recent study showed that a diet high in soy protein reduced cholesterol by as much as 20 per cent. 6 Other research has demonstrated that soy protein lowers triglycerides and reduces the oxidation of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, which contributes to blood vessel problems linked to cardiovascular disease? And flaxseed has also been shown to lower both total and LDL cholestero1. The Body Clock Diet, which includes daily intake of soy protein and flaxseed powder, ensures that you get this important protection.

But cholesterol is not the exclusive evil agent in heart disease. Some people, especially those with complicating conditions of diabetes, tobacco smoking and a strong family history of heart disease and obesity, carry cholesterol-related risks. But most people who have heart attacks and other complications of ‘hardening of the arteries’ have fairly normal cholesterol levels.

The tide of medical thinking is changing when it comes to heart disease. It looks as if issues related to carbohydrate excess, insulin resistance and homocysteine and its control by folic acid will take center stage away from cholesterol. 9 The benefits of substances like flaxseed and soy are not due solely to lowering cholesterol. Soy and flaxseed do indeed lower serum cholesterol, but they also modify carbohydrate and fat metabolism, further decreasing your cardiovascular risk. You don’t have to be takingaim at your cholesterol to get benefits from soy, flaxseed and the Body Clock Diet.

Like many men, you may have a tendency not to think about your health, shrugging off warnings from your mother, spouse, doctor and children as well as newspapers and television programs that try to scare or educate you about activities that are dangerous to your well-being. Nor do you want to listen to me when I say that failure to adhere to basic circadian principles may eventually show up as something noticeably wrong with your health. But my advice is simple: there are some painless things you can do to reap what are potentially major rewards for your long-term health.

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.

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.

Quick Tip: Fallout 4 – TAB Key Stopped Working And Not Bringing Up The Pip-Boy? Here’s A Possible Fix [Text-Only]

I have been having a ton of fun playing Fallout 4 lately [again, building up my Settlements too much and ignoring the Main Storyline!] and ran into a ‘small-but-game-stopping‘ issue where the TAB key appeared to stop working. “Hitting TAB wasn’t bringing up the Pip-Boy anymore..??”

After doing some Troubleshooting and paying attention to what I was doing and pressing… it turned out to be a very simple issue – the TAB key was ‘locked’ out because of how I had used it in the Console.. Let me explain briefly:

I was playing around with SweetFX in ReShade off and on again, mainly to take Screenshots as I had lost a ton during a recent Hard Drive failure [as in thousands.. I know… but I don’t usually back up screenshots or recordings].
To open the Settings/Configuration for ReShade, the hotkey combination is SHIFT+F2.

Unfortunately, something in this combination of Fallout/ReShade/Windows ‘locks out’ the Shift Key after doing this with the Console open in FO4, and when hitting Tilde again to close the Console, this leaves TAB ‘disabled’ and it no longer brings up the Pip-Boy.

[This can also happen with the ENB series of utilities, which use SHIFT+ENTER to open and close the interface]

The Fix for this was simple, once I figured it out: hit Tilde again to open up the Command Console, then hit SHIFT once, then hit Tilde again to close the Command Console. That’s all there is to it!

Now the TAB key worked and I could bring up the all-important-and-totally-cool Pip-Boy once again! This is just a Quick Tip in Text-Mode only then; but I wanted to get it typed up and posted so that it could start to help out others that have run into this little problem [that seems to occur especially if running ReShade or ENB, in Fallout 4]. HTH

Popcorn Cart, Warren, Ohio, circa early 1910s

https://www.facebook.com/neatoldphotos.m.lucas2/photos/a.400823796751664.1073741829.400758923424818/908779272622778/?type=3

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

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.

High-quality protein

Our bodies are composed mainly of protein, which (after water) is the most abundant substance in the body. It is the major constituent of our muscles, tissues, skin, hormones, enzymes, antibodies and blood. Even after childhood protein plays a vital role in maintaining and rebuilding our bodies as they cope with the wear and tear of daily life.

Proteins are broken down by the process of digestion into units called amino acids, and the body requires 22 amino acids to form human protein. All but nine can be produced in the body. These nine are known as ‘essential amino acids‘ and have to be provided in the diet. Foods that contain all nine are termed ‘complete proteins’, and they include meat, fish, dairy and soya protein. Fruit, vegetables, grains and pulses are ‘incomplete proteins’ and have to be carefully combined to provide sufficient amino acids in the diet.

Diet Start

Protein is fundamental to rebalancing blood-sugar levels, because it encourages production of the hormone glucagon, which helps the body to release stored glycogen for energy and encourages the burning of fat. Glucagon also helps to balance excess insulin production.

What is Biological Value?

In order to be efficient, protein foods have to be of a high quality and have what is termed a high Biological Value (BV) — this indicates how much of theprotein is retained by the body. Eggs used to be classed as having the highest BY, but micro-filtered whey, whey-peptide blends and lactalbumin (whey- protein concentrate) are even higher. Micro-filtered whey protein used to be a useless by-product of cheese manufacturing. Now it is processed at very lowtemperatures and turned into a protein source with a very high BV that contains all essential and non-essential amino acids.

The only whey to go

To maintain a healthy immune system, blood, skin and muscles, you need to consume protein with a high By. Whey protein (which is derived from milk, see Q&A opposite) is an excellent supplement that has long been used by bodybuilders and athletes alike. It has many uses in a dietary regime:

¨ It encourages the formation of lean muscle mass

¨ It increases glutathione levels, which has great antioxidant and immune- boosting properties

¨ It helps to build healthy new collagen

¨ It provides an invaluable source of protein for vegetarians who are attempting to balance their diets

¨ It is a quick and easy way of having a high-protein meal or snack

¨ It can be incorporated into recipes as a replacement for carbohydrate ingredients.

There are a multitude of whey products on the market — some better than others. Many come in sweet flavours, which are great when making shakes and smoothies, but you need to source natural, unflavoured products if you want to incorporate whey-protein powder into savoury dishes such as soups. These are widely available through health-food stores and on the Web. Just make sure you don’t confuse them with slimmer’s meal-replacement powders, which are usually laden with carbohydrates.

The average serving of whey protein is a 25g (1 oz) scoop, but check on the label to see how much of that scoop comprises protein: the lower the protein content, the higher the carbohydrate content. And beware of `blends’: these are likely to be bulked up with milk and soya derivatives. To get the best out of your whey products, go for the highest protein concentration possible.

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!

TestRun, Quick ‘End Of The World’ Edition Answers: Does SLI Really Make A Difference? and Where Should I Put PhysX for NVIDIA Videocards? (Text-Only Version)


Update: Added more Tests and Results – Hitman: Absolution Benchmark, Unigine: Valley Benchmark, Left 4 Dead 2 Unscripted Gameplay Test, Tribes: Ascend Gameplay Test and Rollercoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum Gameplay Test


Recently becoming the proud owner of another NVIDIA card, I swapped out my trusty AMD/ATi Radeon HD 6870 from ASUS that has served me so well and lovingly joined together two GTX 560 Ti videocards in electric matrimony to try out some SLI. I share now my experiences, the results of many tests and answers to questions I have seen in many places online, including one I had myself.

This is also a ‘Quick’ Edition, a version of the testing and results that are text-only for now, where I may do a full version as time permits in the future, with screen recordings, graphs and other materials that I would like to share and would help people out.

The Experiment

For this TestRun, with two NVIDIA videocards, I try answer the question: “Does SLI really make a difference?” and also “Where to put PhysX?”. Sure, the answer of ‘if it makes a difference’ is answered other places online, with pretty graphs and numbers; but I am one of those people that, although accepting, don’t ‘truly believe’ things unless I can test it out myself. This is a human stubbornness I know, but it also helps me explore many things I would not have otherwise experienced and allows me to share those results and experiences with others. “Does it really double performance?” is probably a more specific question of what I’m feeling, as of course it should make a difference, after all I am putting another 384 processing cores towards throwing around colorful shapes on my screen. I want to know if it even ‘doubles’ the awesomeness of games that I play. There are two cards in there now, so what’s the difference in performance?

Another aspect I plan to explore is regarding PhysX, NVIDIA’s lovechild of bouncing balls and splattering sparks. Does it affect game performance? Which card should run it if I have it on? Is it better to run it on a dedicated card [that only uses it for that] or off of the CPU? These are my own questions as well since finding a second NVIDIA gpu on sale… PhysX is only in a hamfisted-handful of games – and is only going to be found on NVIDIA GPUs, but it is supposed to improve visual/perceived quality in the games that do use it, due to the fancy waving flags, shattering glass and splattering blood [and the like]. I am going to test the options of having it on the first or second SLI card and how PHysX runs off of the CPU, too.

The Test

For this TestRun, I used utilities such as FurMark and FluidMark, Unigine’s Heaven Benchmark and a handful of games to benchmark and test with, such as Just Cause 2, Alien Vs. Predator, Lost Planet 2, Battlefield 3, Unreal Tournament 3 and Batman: Arkham City (all but the first two utilize PhysX). I am currently running an AMD 6-Core CPU and two GTX560Ti’s in SLI mode on a GIGABYTE 990FXA chipset mainboard.
I assume this is still an average-to-above-average system at the time of this writing (perhaps upper midrange but definitely not top-of-the-line) and it would help out anyone with a similar rig in the future as well with examples of some of the performance difference they will see [if they add a second videocard].

The Data

Here are my benchmarking test results and average framerates, comparing SLI mode with a single GPU:

FurMark: Score (2127), Average Framerate (40fps)
FurMark: Score (3959), Average Framerate (65fps) SLI
Lost Planet 2 – Benchmark B: Average Framerate (44fps)
Lost Planet 2 – Benchmark B: Average Framerate (103fps) SLI
Just Cause 2: Concrete Jungle Benchmark, High Settings, Average Framerate (28fps)
Just Cause 2: Concrete Jungle Benchmark, High Settings, Average Framerate (51fps) SLI
Alien Vs. Predator: Benchmark Run, 1920×1200, x16 Filtering, Average Framerate (44fps)
Alien Vs. Predator: Benchmark Run, 1920×1200, x16 Filtering, Average Framerate (90fps) SLI
Unigine Heaven Benchmark: 1080p, x4x4 Filtering, Score (960), Average Framerate (38fps)
Unigine Heaven Benchmark: 1080p, x4x4 Filtering, Score (1717), Average Framerate (68fps) SLI

Unigine Valley Benchmark: 1080p, Ultra Settings, 8xMSAA – Score (1077), Average Framerate (26fps)
Unigine Valley Benchmark: 1080p, Ultra Settings, 8xMSAA – Score (1741), Average Framerate (42fps) SLI
Hitman: Absolution Benchmark: 1080p, Ultra Settings, Average Framerate (32fps)
Hitman: Absolution Benchmark: 1080p, Ultra Settings, Average Framerate (33fps) SLI
(Hitman: Absolution does not appear to take advantage of SLI and/or is not Optimized for it, despite double-checking that SLI mode is enabled and trying to utilize NVIDIA’s ‘Custom Game Profile’ for it, as well – the following two games also do not appear to take advantage of SLI mode)

Tribes: Ascend – 1920×1080, Very High Settings, Average Framerate (51fps)
Tribes: Ascend – 1920×1080, Very High Settings, Average Framerate (53fps) SLI
Rollercoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum – 1600×900, 8xAA, Reflections and other (17fps)
Rollercoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum – 1600×900, 8xAA, Reflections and other (19fps) SLI




Here are some unscripted, raw gameplay framerates, averaged:
(multiple samples taken of each with FRAPS’ built-in benchmarking utility)

Alien Vs. Predator: Marine Storyline, Average Framerate (47fps)
Alien Vs. Predator: Marine Storyline, Average Framerate (89fps) SLI
Battlefield 3 : Multiplayer with 64 Players, Average Framerate (33fps)
Battlefield 3 : Multiplayer with 64 Players, Average Framerate (61fps) SLI

Left 4 Dead 2 – 1920×1080, Very High Settings, 4xMSAA, 4xAF, Extra Film Grain (128fps)
Left 4 Dead 2 – 1920×1080, Very High Settings, 4xMSAA, 4xAF, Extra Film Grain (185fps) SLI

*Planetside 2 : Multiplayer with many players, BioLab, Average Framerate (36fps)
*Planetside 2 : Multiplayer with many players, BioLab, Average Framerate (37fps) SLI
[*Game does not appear to be fully optimized currently, article with more detail here:
http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2012/11/planetside-2-and-ultra-settings-quality.html)


Here are the PhysX tests, done with FluidMark:

FluidMark: Score (5338) single-card mode, PhysX on the card, Average Framerate (87fps)
FluidMark: Score (5449) SLI, PhysX set to (GPU1), Average Framerate (89fps)
FluidMark: Score (7512) SLI, PhysX auto-selected (GPU2), Average Framerate (123fps)
FluidMark: Score (7379) SLI, PhysX set on (GPU2) Dedicated, Average Framerate (121fps)
FluidMark: Score (1291) SLI, PhysX set on (CPU), Average Framerate (21fps)

The Conclusion

So, does putting in a second videocard practically ‘double’ your gaming performance? Dang right it does. Now, I have read that it ‘should’ in many other articles online, but again, I had to test it out for myself. Almost across the board, in every game I threw at it, the performance was almost doubled. Wonderful stuff.

For those about to spend money on a second GPU for SLI because now they know it ‘will definitely make a difference’, I should mention as a Tip here that the more cards you add in (for 3-way or 4x SLI or Crossfire, for instance) the lower the rate-of-return you actually get on the investment.
In other words, adding a third card won’t ‘double the performance again‘ and adding a fourth card won’t ‘double that performance yet again’ –  it won’t even give you 300% and 400% performance [for the third and fourth videocards added]. You will actually see diminishing returns as you add more cards.
Still, if you have enough money for only a second GPU that matches your ‘old’ one, but not enough money to splurge on a new, faster one, clearly SLI/Crossfire is the way to go, it really does make a huge difference.

The PhysX tests are interesting, as they answer a question that I myself was wondering: does it matter whether you set PhysX on GPU1, GPU2 or the CPU, and should a GPU be dedicated to it?

It seems to make sense, that although a powerful, complex 6-core processor, my CPU is nowhere near the raw number-crunching [if ‘simpler’] streamlined data-geyser that the 384-core video card is. The difference can be clearly seen in the results. On the CPU, PhysX calculations [alone/isolated] gave a 23fps output of gushing blood on the screen, while even just one videocard running PhysX by itself put out 87fps of crimson data. Adding another card and telling that GPU instead [of utilizing the first card] to ‘calculate the physics if you please’ took the framerate up to over 120fps. Clearly, NVIDIA is showing that the videocards were made to handle the floating leaves, sparks and bouncing balls of PhysX …and ball handle they did.

What is interesting is the difference that was made, depending on which card you chose to handle PhysX. When the PhysX was set to GPU2 (the card not plugged directly into the monitor in my case), the highest score was achieved. When the PhysX was set to GPU1 (the card plugged directly into the monitor), it scored almost exactly the same as if there was no second card in the system at all. Now, the utility (FluidMark) does test ‘only‘ PhysX and there isn’t much to see on the screen other than some bouncing baubles, but it seems to show that if you put PhysX on the same card that you are using as your display card (that your monitor plugs into), then it might in fact affect performance of that card to display the pretty images on your screen slightly – or at least, to ‘deal with PhysX and show pretty colors on your screen’ at the same time.

Either way, they are both better than utilizing the CPU, as the pitiful performance when on the CPU (at least for ‘mainly PhysX only’ calculations) is over 500% slower than the performance seen when PhysX calculations are put on the second video card, and still calculated at over 400% slower compared to when PhysX is put on the first video card in an SLI setup. Clearly it is better to have PhysX calculations done on a GPU – and perhaps not put it on the main display card if you can.

Testing the ramification of this in actual gameplay, I played some Unreal Tournament 3 and Batman: Arkham City, while juggling the PhysX of both games to be calculated on the CPU, GPU2 and GPU1 (the main display card where the monitor is plugged in). Using FRAPS for collecting benchmark data in Average Frames Per Second, I saw no more than a few frames difference between all modes.
That is, playing with PhysX set to GPU2, PhysX set on GPU1 or putting the PhysX onto the CPU, I saw only a few frames of difference in actual gameplay performance. Mind you, it can be argued that I didn’t see as many sparks, blood, snow or leaves float across my screen at times; but overall, if you are concerned with only “the game performance ramifications” of where to put PhysX, The Answer Is: playing a game, it doesn’t really matter (but the CPU calculates PhysX slower than putting it on any card, as seen in the data).

Overall, if you can’t afford that fast, newly-released videocard you want, but you can afford to get another GPU of the same type as the one you have now – and your motherboard and powersupply can support it – it’s totally worth it to get a second videocard for SLI/Crossfire performance (and if you’re going the NVIDIA route, it doesn’t really matter where you put PhysX).

Have fun upgrading and See You In The Games If The World Doesn’t End Soon!

a passenger train in India had a most unusual issue, 22 carriages carrying 1000 people, got disconnected from the engine, and the emergency brakes didn’t work to stop it, it rolled backward 7 miles

http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-india-43697965/engineless-runaway-train-in-india-gives-passengers-a-scare

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

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.

How to Cope with Too Many Snow Days

Ice and Snow, Go Away!

This has been the worst winter since I moved to Atlanta eight years ago. We have six-week terms, and during these last six weeks, we lost two days to extremely cold temperatures (by Southern standards), three additional days because of the “snowpocalypse” that buried Atlanta, and now I’m home again due to Winter Storm “Pax” that will likely shut us down the rest of the week. That’s nearly one-third of our term lost!

Adding to my dilemma, our calendar builds in week-long breaks at the end of each six week term. So we won’t be back in school next week either. It’s a serious wrinkle in my plans.

I talked to my fourth graders about this yesterday, and we worked out a plan so they could continue to work from home during these inclement weather days. It’s a really rainy, dreary day anyway (we’re at the “wintry mix” stage of the storm), so it’s not like they’d be outside sledding today. I also suspect that many parents are welcoming the activities at this stage of the winter!

Here are my suggestions for telecommuting with your class during winter weather.

Building a Virtual Classroom

1. Choose a mix of activities that can be shared with parents. I knew early last night that we’d be off today, so I found some activities that aligned with what we’re studying right now. While many of the activities require computer access, I purposefully included some that do not. For example, we’re building weather instruments out of household items, writing stories, continuing our reading, etc. But we’re also using some online resources.

2. Take advantage of online instructional videos. Two of my favorite free resources are LearnZillion and Khan Academy. I selected videos that align with the math and ELA content we’re working on now.

3. Stay accessible through your Learning Management System. We use Edmodo in our class, and it’s a great tool for turning in assignments and having class discussions. I’m checking in throughout the day to answer students’ questions and participate in the discussion questions I set up there earlier.

4. Take advantage of the resources students have at home. I teach in a 1:1 iPad classroom, so we’re constantly on iPads. There are lots of flash-based games that we can’t run on our iPads, however. I’m fortunate that all of my students have computers at home, so I’m incorporating more of those activities for students to complete. I’m also choosing some really fun and engaging simulation games that we just don’t ever get to in class. Two examples:

Law Craft – For the record, all of the games at iCivics.org are worth checking out. In this particular one, students work to craft a law and take it through the legislative process. They have to build support by making concessions, work out the details through committees, and ultimately get the president to sign it. It teaches a lot about how a bill becomes a law.

Edheads Weather – This aligns with the weather forecasting aspect of our weather unit. Students will work through different weather maps to report the weather and predict future weather events. It’s another great interactive game. I highly recommend the activities at the Edheads website. The only downside is that there are lots of ads, and sometimes pop-ups.

5. Be flexible – I can’t really help students troubleshoot tech issues on their home computers, and I can’t make them do the activities at home. I’m not making any of the activities mandatory, but they’re still available. I’m hoping that with the good mix of opportunities, parents and students will take advantage of the resources I’m offering. But I won’t punish a student who doesn’t. If even a few kids do the activities, it’s better than writing off the weather days as a complete loss.

Preparation is Key
It would be impossible to implement this plan with fourth graders if a lot of our technology norms and routines hadn’t already been established. My students are familiar with my class website, Edmodo, and my expectations. Integrating technology in the classroom makes the transition to our virtual classroom seamless.

How do you handle inclement weather days with your class? Do you have any plans resources to keep students engaged while they’re away from the classroom? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

On an unrelated note, I have been MIA from the blogging world since October. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve started working on a PhD in addition to teaching full-time and managing my toddler, so I’ve been insanely busy! I have an amazing student teacher this semester, however, so I’m starting to delegate more. I’m hopeful that will free up a little more time and energy so I can get back to blogging and reading all the stuff I’ve missed. Perhaps these weather days will also assist with that!

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.

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.

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

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!]

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!

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.

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!

Exercise and Fall Prevention

As people get older one of the biggest threats to their health and independence are falls.  A brief review of the statistics on falls provides a sobering view of the threat.

 Falls are the #1 cause of death as a result of unintentional injury among people 75 and older and the #2 cause of death as a result of unintentional injury among people age 65 – 74.
Falls are the #1 cause of non-fatal unintentional injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms in every age group except ages 15 – 24.
Fall result in the second most expensive worker’s compensation claims with an average cost of $23,929.
One out of every three people older than 65 will fall this year.
50% of the people older than 65 who have fallen will fall again in the next 12 months.
Most falls are unreported (even serious falls) because senior fear losing their independence, and many seniors would rather die than lose their independence.
The treatment of osteoporosis with drugs is very ineffective at preventing fractures because it does nothing to prevent the primary cause of fractures which is falls.
Modifiable Risk Factors for Falls

Strength (in particular lower body and core strength)
Mobility (of ankle, knee and hip in particular)
Fear of falling from previous fall/s resulting in altered gate and restricted activity levels which further increases fall risk
Poor Balance which has three systems (visual, inner ear, proprioception)
Impaired Vision
Cognitive Status/Mood
Environmental Factors (slippery floors, rugs, poor lighting, etc.
Medication Side Effects
Exercise for Fall Prevention
Exercise can help address several fall risk factors including strength, mobility, balance along with improved cognitive status.
The most effective exercise boosts lower body and core strength while including a balance component that can be adjusted to each individual’s current capabilities.   This exercise should be weight bearing whenever possible and functional in nature.
reACT – Rapid Eccentric Anaerobic Core Trainer

One of the finest ways to address the exercise component of a fall prevention program is the use of the reACT Trainer.    The reACT Trainer provides a no impact training stimulus with a self-selected range of motion and allows for progressive balance challenge to fit just about any ability level.  
The reACT Trainer is a functional eccentric trainer meaning it provides eccentric dominant exercise that is highly functional in nature with strong emphasis on integrated functional movements in multiple planes of motion with the ability to adjust movement speed to increase or decrease the challenge level.   It is also a very safe training modality.
For more information on how the reACT Trainer can help prevent falls check out the following videos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBjKkvuXrYE&t=213s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXljK8BbhLg&t=309s– instructional video

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!

12 Days of Fitness with WORKOUT ANYTIME

12 Days of Fitness with WORKOUT ANYTIME

Are you in need of a little inspiration to hit the gym this holiday season? Here’s a great workout routine to give a try this holiday season provided by the experts at WORKOUT ANYTIME. Enjoy! 

Week 1

4 days of exercise

2 days of INTERVAL Walking/Jogging – 20 min of cardio exercise at moderate pace, first 10 min walk or do cardio at a moderate pace. The second 10 min will have five 30 second bursts of high intensity mixed with moderate intensity (on min 10,12,14,16, and 18). This boosts metabolic rate. 
2 days of body weight or weight training for 12 min per day
Complete two rounds of the following each consisting of 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest:

Squats
Push-ups 
Walking Lunges
Jumping Jacks
Burpees
Ab half roll backs (seated position, roll half way back, come up and exhale)

Week 2 

4 days of exercise

2 days of INTERVAL Walking/Jogging – 20 min of cardio exercise at moderate pace, first 10 min walk or do cardio at a moderate pace. The second 10 min will have five 30 second bursts of high intensity mixed with their moderate intensity (on min 10,12,14,16, and 18). This boosts metabolic rate. 

2 days of body weight or weight training for 12 min per day
Complete two rounds of the following each consisting of 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest:

Pop Squats
Push-ups w/alt knee
Forward Lunges with bicep curl
Plank Jacks
Mountain Climbers
Ab full roll up (lying position, roll all the way up, and exhale)

Week 3

4 days of exercise

2 days of INTERVAL Walking/Jogging – 20 min of cardio exercise at moderate pace, first 10 min walk or do cardio at a moderate pace. The second 10 min will have five 30 second bursts of high intensity mixed with moderate intensity (on min 10,12,14,16, and 18). This boosts metabolic rate. 

2 days of body weight or weight training for 12 min per day
Complete two rounds of the following each consisting of 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest:

Squat swing with overhead tricep press
Spider-Man Push-ups 
Reverse Lunge with bicep curl
High Knees
Shoulder push-ups
Navy Seals (Ab exercise)

speed camera major malfunction? Or lazy police not reviewing photos? New Orleans police failed to review tickets generated by the automated cameras, and one guy has 10 tickets over 7 years for his parked truck

Actually, make that 11. After the first story ran last week, Schultz received another ticket on Saturday night. A security camera shows this one was actually triggered by a New Orleans Police Department vehicle speeding down the road, but as usual, Schultz was the unlucky recipient of the fine.

http://www.thedrive.com/news/20011/new-orleans-speed-camera-keeps-issuing-speeding-tickets-to-parked-cars

End result? More proof cops don’t give a shit about their jobs, and neither does the mayor or city of New Orleans. 2 cops certified that the two tickets initiated by speeding police vehicles (as seen in the video) went to Shultz. That’s just bull shit. Cops are speeding in a residential neighborhood, and other cops that are supposed to look at the damn photos, are not, they are rubber stamping them all. 

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!

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!

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.

My Trip to Vietnam

I am on my way to Vietnam for an organization capacity assessment of a multilateral organizations’ branch office as well as their partners. I had few tense moments in getting my visa on time but everything worked out. This will be my third trip to Vietnam; my first trip was back in 2005, my second trip was in 2007.

The first trip was to train the senior management of the largest ministry in Vietnam on Sector Wide Strategic Planning. I recall that my liaison officer was very hospitable and took me around Hanoi every night. I had to sample the snails, frog, cat and dog in a variety of restaurants, washed down with copious amounts of snake wine. It was one of the most memorable assignments for me and I made a lot of friends there.

My second assignment in Vietnam was to train and conduct an organization capacity assessment along with the senior management of a ministry in PDR Lao. As a perk to the staff the training was moved from Vientiane, Lao to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Doing a Strategic Plan / Organization Assessment in a communist country is quite different. There is no Institutional landscape for you to influence or lobby. There is the communist party line and laws and statues based on them; everyone has to live within these boundaries. Influencing and lobbying can be considered political subversion and it is not practiced by organizations. Even when dealing with the private sector you and your competitors have to live and operate within these bounds. It can be argued that this is indeed a very controlled level playing field.

I am looking forward to doing this assignment.

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.

My trip to Yapahuwa

I just completed an assignment for an international networked organization. They are in the process of establishing and sustaining a national level sister organization with district level branches which will belong to the same network.

The assignment was to critically look at the activities undertaken to sustain the district level branches. Well basically looking at the resource mobilization of each branch.

When considering resource mobilization for the development sector one automatically recalls the telethons and other fundraising activities done by charities to raise millions of dollars; quite similar to the ones that are going on for the Haiti earthquake relief operations.

However resource mobilization in the 3rd world is quite a different matter. It is fundamentally handicapped due to the following reasons.

  1. Most INGOs and Local NGOs operate in the 3rd world as project implementers. Therefore their articles of association / constitutions do not provide for resource mobilization (self generated / self raised funds).
  2. Due to above most states (in Asia) do not recognize them as registered charities that qualify for fund raising which is tax exempt.
  3. They are only allowed to receive funds from donors who already have funds or who have access to funds. Generally these funds when received in the implementing country are exempted from income tax.
  4. In fact, the local legislations which facilitate the registration of these entities for legal purposes themselves disallow any kind of activity which earns an income for the organization.

So, in order for an organization (NGO) to be legally able to engage in resource mobilization they have to:

1. Ensure that the articles of association / constitutions that they operate under provides for such activities.

2. Get the governments to recognize them as charities (this is generally done by conforming to already existing legislation or you would need an act of parliament or for parliament to pass new legislation to facilitate this).

3. Once you are registered as a charity that qualify for fund raising which is tax free you can look at the spectrum of resource mobilization activities which are at your disposal.

Fund raising activities in general falls in to the following broad categories.

  1. Cause / Issue based (HIV/AIDS, TB, Child Labour, etc.).
  2. Event based (Tsunami, War, Earthquake, etc.).
  3. Faith based donations to religiously affiliated organizations
  4. Bi-lateral funds.
  5. Multi-lateral funds

There is however another resource mobilization strategy which is “Income Generation Projects” which is: an organization (NGO) can engage in commercial activities such as training, providing a chargeable service, renting of assets, producing some products etc. to generate a profit. This profit is then used for development activities.

If an organization (NGO) wants to use this strategy they need to ensure that the articles of association / constitutions as well as the legislation / act of parliament clearly addresses’ this activity. Otherwise an organization may become liable for income tax. This risk may jeopardize the sustainability of the organization; therefore careful consideration must be given to the legal landscape before engaging in such activities.

However my client has started several “Income Generation Projects” without considering the above. There is a huge risk associated with this and no remedial action is being taken.

As for the income generation projects, they seem to have been started based on good ideas and not based on the profit they can earn to sustain a development project or a part of a project. Further they are being executed by the same staff taken to deliver development services (who by the way have no business skills) to the target groups; needless to say that the “Income Generation Projects” are doing poorly. They are hardly making profits some are making huge losses. In some cases, not only are they making losses, but they have very high turnovers which go beyond the value added tax threshold (VAT). This is a huge risk for the organization.

The assignment was well received by the client and they have already engaged me for a follow up assignment to develop realistic business plans for the “Income Generation Projects”.

Yapahuwa is a historic / archaeological town which boasts the second rock fortress of Sri Lankan kings. It is close to many not so famous archaeological sites and now boasts a new hotel – Yapahuwa Paradise. I recommend a visit to Yapahuwa if ever you are in the north west of Sri Lanka.

The Amazing Power of Focus

I frequently like to put on music while I work, and I sometimes do that in my classroom, too. I’ve rotated through many Pandora playlists, and I use Spotify a fair amount. I like the music on those sites, but they’re more for entertainment than work.

I’ve finally found a resource that really seems to help me and my students get into the zone and focus.

Let me introduce you to my favorite new website, [email protected]

This website allows you to listen to instrumental music from a variety of genres that has been specially selected to get you into a state of “flow.” The music is sequenced in an order that draws on neuroscience and research about the impacts of music on productivity. They have a huge section documenting the science behind the playlists. 
I tried this site while reading some really dense texts for a PhD class, and I really felt like it helped me stay focused and productive. I cruised through the articles in record time! I also had it playing while I worked on writing this morning, and I do feel like it’s impacting my personal productivity. It seems to be helping my students as well. 
They have two membership levels — a free version and a paid version. The free version gives you 60 minutes of each playlist before stopping. You can listen to the playlists multiple times, but it will always be the same playlists. The paid version allows you to set a timer, customize playlists, listen to unlimited music, and track productivity for $4.99 billed monthly or $45 billed annually. I’m currently using the free version, but I suspect it won’t be long before I upgrade. It’s having a big impact on my productivity. 
If you like to have music on in the background while you or your students work, I’d definitely recommend giving [email protected] a try. I’d love to hear about your experiences with it in the comments!

I like www.focusatwill.com so much that I’ve become an affiliate with the site. This means that if you click the links above and subscribe, I’ll receive a very small commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CRF, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

BEAUTIFUL HOME FAMILY DESIGN “VILLA DE CHARME”

Katrine Martensen-Larsen comes this stunning house designed for a family of seven children. We hope that this message will come in handy for those of you looking for new ideas for the nursery too. “Villa de Charme” is located in, Frederiksber Denmark and has been specially designed for a family of seven children. The designer said that this house is “evidence that many children and a hectic lifestyle does not mean you have to compromise on style.” The interior features original decorating ideas and news. The wallpapers are particularly interesting. White is used mainly to define the house and gives it an intimate feeling clean and fresh. bits of color are added here and there, crying the whole design. We really appreciate how serious, sober rooms alternate with play.

BEAUTIFUL HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL LIVING ROOM HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL LIVING ROOM HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL KITCHEN HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL KITCHEN HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL BATHROOM HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL BATHROOM HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL BEDROOM HOME FAMILY DESIGN

BEAUTIFUL BEDROOM HOME FAMILY DESIGN

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.

April Nitzsche on WBIR Knoxville

April Nitzsche was recently on WBIR as part of their Workout Wednesday. In the segment April demonstrated some exercises you can do at home and in the gym with kettle bells for a good workout. She also mentioned the new Maryville opening location as well as the Bearden location.

You can also view the video here.

5 Tips to Make Your Paperless Classroom Work

I’m now more than 3/4 of the way through my year of 1:1 iPad work with fourth graders, and while I hoped to have a paperless classroom, the reality has been a bit different. We’re definitely using less paper than we would without iPads, but I can’t pretend that we’re paper-free. As I reflect on this school year, here are five things I would do differently next year to make the paperless transition go even better.

1. Begin the year with a typing boot camp.
The biggest obstacle to the paperless classroom at the beginning of fourth grade is simply that the kids (for the most part) don’t know how to type. Tasks that should have been quick ended up taking 3-4 times the length that I’d anticipated just because the kids were hunting for keys on the keyboard. I think if I’d spent the first term of the year working on typing skills, it would have made a big difference. And on a related note, I’d encourage students to get bluetooth keyboards to use with their iPads (assuming the school won’t invest in those, too).

2. Transition gradually.
When my students start fourth grade, they come from a school that does not have 1:1 iPads. As a result, the technology integration is a big adjustment–for both students and parents. Going fully paperless can be a huge culture shock for the students, and the transition can produce some anxiety. Even with tech-savvy students, there can be a huge learning curve with different apps, and it can quickly get frustrating for some kids–especially the ones who were very comfortable with school as they previously knew it. Start small with a few key apps (e.g., Edmodo, Evernote) and build from there.

3. Try to give options.
Some students are far more comfortable with the iPads than others, and sometimes their lack of comfort can impact their work. With writing, for example, I’ve learned to give students the option of drafting on paper, even though there are lots of mind-mapping and word processing apps they could use for drafting. Usually once they have that first draft on paper, they’re more comfortable typing it in to make revisions and edits. For some of my students, that flexibility makes a huge difference in the amount of writing they can endure. For other students, the iPads boost productivity. Either way, we know that choice is important to students, and this is another important way to differentiate in a 1:1 classroom.

4. Don’t force it.
There are still some contexts where it makes more sense to use paper. Math tests are one example for me. I don’t tend to give students multiple choice tests in math, and I want them to have plenty of space to show their work. Yes, they could do the work on GoodReader with a stylus and turn it in on Edmodo, but that’s not necessarily more efficient for me to grade–especially on a multipage test. Similarly, we’re still using paper and a notebook for our word study work. We use differentiated spelling lists with Words Their Way, and I want students to go through the practice of sorting and recording their words each week. Paper makes sense for that.

5. Stay flexible, and have a backup plan.
At the beginning of the year, we were using our iPads for almost everything (we still are). But then I got sick, and I had to write sub plans. I never know who I’m going to have as a sub, but there are two things that are certain: 1) the sub will never be as comfortable managing a class full of iPads as I am, and 2) students will be more apt to misbehave when they have a sub. As a result, I don’t usually include the iPads in my sub plans unless I know that there will be someone there to enforce my expectations (e.g., someone I co-teach with or my student teacher). If students expect to use the iPads for everything, it can really throw a wrench into the system to take those away, even for a day. Therefore, it’s important to be flexible with using them throughout the year so that students aren’t dependent on them. Sure, they might have a preference, but they need to be able to function without them. That’s also true for times when the power goes out, the internet goes down, or a software glitch makes the iPad temporarily unavailable.

Any tips to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

This post contains affiliate links, but I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CRF, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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

My trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh

It was quite an intense process to pin down the existing system. It existed in bits and pieces in various places of the organization managed by different people in the structure. It was quite unique to find an organization with a finance management system spanning from resource mobilization (Income generation, contracting and applying for donor funding) to implementing through 3rd parties (implementation through contractors as well as other civil society organizations) but not to have it documented any ware. It was a tough job to get agreement on the current practices as well, as each individual seems to have tweaked it to suite his/her requirement. Finally we documented the entire system as the minimum agreed common current practices.

This is typical of an organization which has grown organically and reached a point that does not allow it to grow any further without structure and form in its organization structure and systems. As a result of this the assignment has ballooned into a much bigger assignment as the organization needs basic guidance regarding system development and management. I was also able to analyze the system and suggest some key improvements (fundamental stuff really) to instill the use and management of the system. The client has now requested that I support them in the preparation for implementation which needs a lot of pre planning and documentation in the form of developing policies, manuals, forms, job descriptions, task calculation etc. It also means that we have to design the administrative and functional structure so that the organization can manage a decentralized finance function spanning the entire spectrum of financial management.

I left Dhaka on Friday and headed back to Colombo. The flight from Dhaka to Bangkok on TG was fine and operated on time. I had a 5 hour stay in Bangkok before I took the flight to Colombo. I must say that I don’t find the new airport at Bangkok as passenger friendly as the earlier one. The new one however is big and posh but it has lost some of its coziness in my opinion. As usual the Colombo flight was delayed for over a half an hour and once in Colombo had to endure the long queues at the emigration counter.

I am back in Colombo and back at work to finish another assignment (OCA) I took concurrently and had a junior consultant do some parts of it. I have to send its draft report by the end of business 6th April. My next assignment is going to be in the Philippines and looking forward to it as it will be my first assignment in the Philippines.

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

“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)

Monitoring weight loss

There are two schools of thought on how to monitor weight loss:

  • Daily weighing
  • The once-weekly weigh-in.

This is an individual issue. If you are the sort of person who needs a daily date with your weighing scales, then by all means do so. Keep a record of your progress using a chart like the one opposite. You may see weight-shifting patterns emerging and be able to isolate foods that have a negative effect on your weight. If you prefer the surprise-at-the-end-of-the-week, that is fine too. You should still keep a record and watch out for any plateaux where weight loss dries up, which may mean that you need to lower your carbohydrate levels or increase your physical activity.

Whichever your preferred monitoring method, keep a tight-fitting pair of trousers or other item of clothing and try them on regularly to establish how your shape is changing. Your weight may stabilize for a while, and if you are exercising regularly and increasing your muscle-to-fat ratio you may even may weigh slightly more for a bit, but you will be fitter and – in the end – leaner.

Diet Start

TOP ANTI-SNACKING TIPS

  • Try not to snack while watching television, playing video games or using the computer. Eat meals and snacks in the kitchen or dining room, so that you are more aware of what- and how much — you are eating.
  • When you feel a snack attack coming on, run a bath, go for a walk, ring a friend… Do anything that will keep you away from the refrigerator.
  • Don’t go shopping when you are hungry — it is then that you may reach out for that chocolate bar.
  • If you are going to snack, make sure it is a protein snack.

Dietary demons – and how to beat them

  1. Not so well-meaning friends and family members: one of the mostdifficult things to deal with is the friend or relative who tries to sway you off-course. Don’t be bullied into breaking your resolve. Decline politely andexplain that you are relying on them for support. If you are visiting them,take a whey-protein smoothie with you.
  2. Boredom: you shouldn’t get bored following the plans,because there are so many different things to eat and ways to prepare your food. Even if you aren’t a natural cook, experimenting in the kitchen willkeep you motivated.
  3. Alcohol: you are allowed a couple of glasses of wine when you start the
  4. Keep on Tracking Plan, but don’t be tempted to have more. There is nothing like a little extra alcohol to persuade you that you’ll start againtomorrow. Avoid the ‘drunken munchies’.
  5. Snack attacks: the three dietary plans allow for a couple of high-proteinsnacks each day between meals, but you could easily undermine all your efforts by hitting the biscuit jar in a moment of weakness. Clear out anything vaguely tempting from your refrigerator and cupboards, and be very carefulat times when you normally seek comfort food.

Curb your cravings by curbing your carbs

When you start eating more healthily and reducing the amount of potentially addictive carbohydrate-laden foods, you should find that your cravings begin to diminish as your blood-sugar and insulin levels even out. This will usually take about 48 hours when you start the Fast-Track Plan. If you do get a ‘snack attack’, try making yourself a whey- protein smoothie; or keep a plate of cold chicken in the refrigerator for weak moments. You can’t necessarily kill a craving, but you can wrestle it into submission.

My Trip to New Delhi & Hyderabad Cont………

My 4th OCA was done for an organization in Hyderabad and I experienced something I came across the last time I did an OCA in Hyderabad. Readers of my Blog may recall my last visit to Hyderabad and the post of 10/12/09. Talk about déjà vu it was very similar on this occasion as well, but the difference was that it was led by the senior members of the board, who were eminent individuals in their own right. (I am talking about an attempt by the organization to cover up facts that directly deals with their capacity during the OCA). What made it very unpalatable was that they gave a presentation on the history and activities of the organization and conveniently omitted these facts from the presentation. This to me is a bad sign and a major put off. The irony is that even with these capacity issues the organization is a relatively capable organization and can be developed to do better; and the purpose for the assessment is exactly to identify these gaps so that they may be able to qualify for a grant to develop their organizational capacity.

Other than this the rest of the assignment went as usual and finished the OCA by 4 PM on the 3rd of March. I went directly to the airport to take a flight to New Delhi for the 5th and last OCA. While waiting to board my flight I noticed a very weird thing. The displays at the Hyderabad airport that give flight departure details were giving a lot more information than it is logically required for passengers waiting to board flights. Let me explain; it starts with the information tag against the flights numbers as “Gate Open” and then as time goes by it proceeds to change the tags to “Final Call”, “Gate Closed”, “Boarding” and finally to “Departed”. In my experience this is the extent of the information which can be relevant to any passenger in the terminal and it stays for at least 10 to 15 minutes on the information board and then it is deleted from the board. However in Hyderabad Airport this is followed by another information tag saying “Airborne”; now who needs to know this? Does it mean that if you are late for the flight and that if the flight is not airborne they will put you on it? Don’t think so; as they say “gate closes 15 minutes before departure time”. Further given today’s security climate well-wishers are not allowed in the terminal. So go figure this one out.

Trip to Hyderabad Cont….

Well there are scheduling issues so will go to get my ticket & visa on thursday. Everything else is back on schedule. Trying to contact some of my friends who are in India so that we may be able to meet over there.

I have been doing this job since 2002 and travelling overseas since then; however this trip will be my first time on a budget airline. Dont know what to expect? When I got my online booking it said Meal – To be purchased. some how flying and buying your food did not sound OK to me. I am sure that what ever my first choice is it will be over by the time the airline staff get to me.

Anyway need to finish up all the stuff for today to be able to watch the opening match between Sri Lanka & South frica (ICC Trophy)

Workout Anytime in Citizen Tribune

Workout Anytime in Citizen Tribune

WORKOUT ANYTIME was recently featured in the Citizen Tribune. The article explains the newest WORKOUT ANYTIME location coming to Morristown, Tennessee this October. It gives background on Steve James and Scott Elliot and how they came about the WORKOUT ANYTIME brand. The article also goes into further detail on the services at the gym and the owners planned community outreach.
You can 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

How to Create a Lower Body Band Training System

Resistance training bands provide a great strength curve that matches the lower body strength curves nicely.   Specifically, the more you stretch a band the higher the level of resistance you have to overcome.   In the case of the key lower body movements such as squats, deadlifts and lunges this matches the strength curve of these key movements meaning that the muscles are capable of producing the highest levels of force at the top of the movement when joints are extended and muscles in their shortest position.
The trick is how to apply band resistance to these movements and other functional movements such as jumps.  While there are many different techniques for accomplishing it – one of the best is to create your own lower body band loading system using a large band as a belt and smaller band/s looped through it and onto your feet to create load from the hips down.

This system puts no load on the spine,  and it is easy to increase or decrease load based on band sizes used and number of times you wrap the band around your feet.
It travels with you as you move for extra load for all lower body movements including squats, lunges, and deadlifts.    It is also a portable jump training system that is easy to create, and for facilities with the reACT Trainer it is a fantastic way to create additional overload on the reACT Trainer while keep the hands free!

Click here to see step by step instructions for how to use bands for this set-up:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkAMGtjkVm4

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!

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.

SMALL ROOM DESIGN IDEAS FOR TEENS

SMALL ROOM DESIGN FOR TEENS

SMALL ROOM DESIGN FOR TEENS

There were many children inside, but somehow neglected to share ideas on the bed and adolescents. We will try to catch it from that position, where we’ll show you 10 ways to decorate the room of a teenager. Of course, these designs are aimed at age group 9-14 years and do not include all decorations eccentric but warm and relaxing colors. There are plenty of shelves for CDs, books and magazines, then we are also dealing with students of consciousness. I especially like the pictures on the wall of cartoons in black and white as they seem to bring personality into the room.

SMALL ROOM DESIGN IDEAS FOR TEENS

SMALL ROOM DESIGN IDEAS FOR TEENS

SMALL ROOM DESIGN FOR KIDS

SMALL ROOM DESIGN FOR KIDS

SMALL ROOM DESIGN INSPIRATION FOR TEENS

SMALL ROOM DESIGN INSPIRATION FOR TEENS

SMALL ROOM INSPIRATION DESIGN FOR TEENS

SMALL ROOM INSPIRATION DESIGN FOR TEENS

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.

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.

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!


SWIMMING POOL DESIGN IDEAS GERRR……

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

Here are some tips on how to keep your energy bill is lower and save valuable resources of the Earth at the same time.

* Heating your swimming pool: Depending on where you live and heat that is during the spring months and summer, you may not need to heat your pool as often as you think. The houses are in hot desert climates and do not need to heat the pool at night or when he decided to entertain. By heating the water, taking into account alternative methods of heating used to heat water. Energy from solar panels on your home is an excellent way to harness the sun’s energy to heat your pool.

* Cleaning the Pool: Many use automated equipment, which operate in the pool when the pool is empty. While helping to keep the pool clean when you’re in, but also the use of electricity 24 hours a day. Try to reduce the frequency to an automatic cleaning to be used. Also choose to use less chlorine, and to consider alternatives such as cleaners, detergents, ozone. Keep the cover over the pool when not in use also helps keep the debris in the air cleaner, leaves and twigs.

* Keep all plastic and vinyl toys away from the game: Even if I do not believe that the maintenance of the environment around the pool with pool toys the child is also important. Many pool toys are made of vinyl or PVC, also known as polyvinyl chloride. These types of toys, release toxins and chemicals hazardous off-gas. Try to select the pool toys that are made from natural organic materials and the safety of your children, and help keep the pool a greener place to play in.

* Use other sources of water in your pool: In your geographic area, using other methods to collect water in your home into account. Options could include rainwater that can be used to fill your pool, and the plumbing in your home for showers, baths, basin and toilet. This measure can help you reduce your water bill and conserve water on Earth. For many municipalities, geographic, you can earn additional benefits by LEED, or the benefits of saving tax on income tax time. Greywater reuse for your home is a viable option for many homeowners.

Owning a pool should be an enjoyable experience, after all, you deserve to relax and entertain in the warmer months of the year. Despite owning a pool should not be at the expense of its portfolio, the precious resources of the Earth or the health of your family. Follow these tips to green the pool and enjoy all the benefits of reading and resting in the sun.

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

SWIMMING POOL DESIGN

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…

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!

Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) continue…

Adding a Label

MPLS is a method that takes the best of both worlds and creates a concept that allows IP packets to travel through the network as if IP were a connection-oriented protocol (which it isn’t). Using special routers called Label Switching Routers (LSRs) does this. These routers connect a traditional IP network to an MPLS network. A packet enters the MPLS network through an ingress LSR, which attaches a label to the packet, and exits the MPLS switched network through an egress LSR. The ingress LSR is the router that performs the necessary processing to determine the path a packet will need to take through the switched network. This can be done using traditional routing protocols such as OSPF. The path is identified by the label that the ingress router attaches to the packet. As you can see, the ingress router must perform the traditional role that a router fills. It must perform a lookup in the routing table and decide to which network the packet needs to be sent for eventual delivery to the host computer.

Internet 2010

However, as the packet passes through the switched network, it is only necessary for the switch to take a quick look at the label to make a decision on which port to output the packet. A table called the Label Information Base (LIB) is used in a manner similar to a routing table to determine the correct port based on the packet’s label information. The switch doesn’t perform IP header processing, looking at the IP address, the TTL value, and so on. It just spends a small amount of time doing a lookup of the label in the table and outputting the packet on the correct port.

When the packet reaches the egress LSR, the label is removed by the router, and then the IP packet is processed in the normal manner by traditional routers on the destination network.

If this sounds like a simple concept, that’s because it is. MPLS still is in the development stages, so you’ll find that different vendors implement it in different ways. Several Internet draft documents attempt to create a standard for MPLS. Other features, such as Quality of Service (QoS) and traffic management techniques, are being developed to make MPLS a long-term solution.

Using Frame Relay and ATM with MPLS

One of the best features about the current design of MPLS is that it separates the label-switching concept from the underlying technology. That is, you don’t have to build special switches that are meant for just MPLS networks. MPLS doesn’t care what the underlying transport is. It is concerned only with setting up a path and reducing the amount of processing a packet takes as it travels through the circuit.

Because of this, it’s a simple matter for an ATM or Frame Relay switch vendor to reprogram or upgrade its product line to use MPLS. For ATM switches, the VPI (virtual path identifier) and VCI (virtual channel identifier) fields in the ATM cell are used for the Label field. In Frame Relay switches, an extra field is added to the IP header to store the label. However, don’t get confused and think that an MPLS network is an ATM network or a Frame Relay network. These switches must be reprogrammed to understand the label concept. It’s even possible, for example, for an ATM switch to switch both ATM and MPLS traffic at the same time. By allowing for the continued use of existing equipment (and

these switches are not inexpensive items), large ISPs or network providers can leverage their current investment, while preparing to install newer MPLS equipment when the standards evolve to a stage that makes it a good investment.

For the long term it’s most likely that MPLS will be implemented using technology similar to Frame Relay instead of ATM. This is because of the small cell size of the ATM cell (53 bytes) combined with a high overhead (the 5-byte cell header). In a small network with little traffic, this 5-byte cell header seems insignificant. However, when you scale this to large bandwidth network pipes, this amount of overhead consumes a large amount of bandwidth given the small amount of data carried in the 53- byte cell. Thus, variable-length frames are most likely to become the basis for MPLS networks in the next few years.

Planetside 2 – Video Tutorial: How To Attack and Defend a Facility – Bio Lab (Subtitled) [Short Version]

In this brief Tutorial focused on New Players to Planetside 2, I present concepts to attacking and defending a large facility with multiple objectives, such as:

  • capture points
  • shields
  • generators
  • spawn rooms
  • terminals
and more…
In the video below, I am playing on the New Conglomerate FACTION. I CAPITALIZE full words that are either important structures and names to remember, or are important concepts to learn for battle.
During this battle at a large base, I show briefly how to use your HUD (Head Up Display) to locate OBJECTIVES, what some icons on the screen represent, where major structures are and important areas and aspects of the base.

Although my FACTION successfully takes over a Bio Lab, many of the concepts presented in the tutorial will carry over to battles at other large facilities, such as Amplifier Stations and Technological Plants.
[A separate tutorial for an Amp Station can be seen here:
http://gametipsandmore.blogspot.ca/2012/12/planetside-2-video-tutorial-how-to.html]

With subtitles over sections of a Bio Lab battle, playing as the NC (New Conglomerate), I go over some concepts a few times to make sure they set in for New Recruits, but for the most part, I stick to the main objectives of the base and how to quickly locate them, as well as the various ways to get inside..
Enjoy and See You In the Game!

The carb connection

Carbohydrates are a vital part of the human diet – they are our primary source of energy, and in their natural state they are turned into glucose to provide fuel for all the organs of the body.

THERE ARE THREE MAIN TYPES OF CARBOHYDRATES:

1. Simple sugars, or monosaccharides: glucose (blood sugar), and fructose (fruit sugar)

2. Double sugars, or disaccharides: lactose (milk sugar)

Diet Start

3. Complex carbohydrates, or polysaccharides: starches and cellulose (potatoes, rice, grains and dietary fibre).

The simplest carbohydrate of them all is glucose, which is assimilated immediately by the body. The more complex the carbohydrate’s structure, the longer it takes the body to convert it into energy – so ‘complex’ carbohydrates are the slow burners, because they are higher in more complicated sugars and fibre and thus take longer to break down into energy-giving glucose.

So why are carbs the bad guys?

Even though carbohydrates are a vital component of our overall health, there are certain carbs that serve no nutritional purpose whatsoever, and can even cause us harm if consumed too regularly and in large proportions. They are also the main contributors to the escalating obesity problem. So who are these enemies of our health and weight? They are known as refined carbohydrates.

The problems started the minute we began to process our food and strip out the fibre and nutrients from flour and sugar, to make them look appealingly white. In so doing, we made them nutritionally redundant. Food processing removes magnesium, zinc and chromium from flour and sugar – the three minerals that the body needs to metabolize carbohydrates properly. It also drastically reduces vitamins B1, B2, B3, calcium and iron.

Junk foods made up of refined flour and sugar, plus nutritionally empty processed fats, colourings, flavourings and preservatives, make up 75 per cent of many people’s diets. These so-called ‘convenience foods’ are ’empty’ calories, which hurtle into the bloodstream, play havoc with insulin and blood- sugar levels and actually deplete the body of essential vitamins and minerals that are needed to perform other important bodily functions. Processed foods have also been stripped of their fibre content, which is essential for controlling insulin production and protecting the body against diseases such as diverticulitis and colon cancer.

Immune Complex Food Sensitivity

These occur when antibodies attack allergens but don’t manage to kill them. The result is an allergen (called an antigen) with an antibody stuck to it. This creates a whole new animal (an antigen-antibody complex) that the body doesn’t recognize. When this happens, the ‘new animal’ starts circulating around the body, and this circulatory immune complex, or CIC, can eventually lodge in tissue.

CICs create many of the same reactions as classic allergies. When they circulate through or lodge in tissues, such as those of the kidneys, lungs, liver, or joints, they can cause terrible problems by starting immune and inflammatory responses. They can cause joint problems similar to arthritis, and they can cause organs to malfunction. They often interfere with the body’s filtering mechanisms, such as the lymphatic system and kidneys. Some researchers believe they contribute to many types of kidney disease, some of which are eventually fatal.

Diet Start

Sometimes, people with serious CIC problems experience widespread conditions — such as migraines, kidney problems, and joint pain — and never realize that all of these problems have a single cause.

Frequently, patients come to me hoping only to lose weight, but when they resolve problems such as excessive CIC production, they also overcome other serious health conditions. One recent patient, for example, not only lost 22 pounds but also recovered from chronic joint pain, migraines, and gallbladder inflammation. This patient was happy to lose her weight, but was overjoyed to solve the other problems. Of course she had to make a serious commitment to her health and change her lifestyle. But she enjoyed the whole process, because she felt so much better every step of the way.

This reinforced my belief in the adage, ‘If you just strive for thin, you’ll never win. Strive for health, and thin will follow.’

Now you know about the risk factors that make you vulnerable to food reactions, and you know how food reactions work. Good for you! You now have more knowledge about this subject than many doctors do.

Now that you have a good foundation of knowledge, you’ll be able to understand why food reactions cause bloating and swelling. Once you understand this, you need never again be a victim of false fat.

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. 

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!

HOUSE OF INCLUSION Koichi Kimura Architects

House of Inclusion” as-is called the firm FORM / Koichi Kimura Architects, is a home to extraordinary volumes built a new residence in Shiga, Japan …
“Every piece of this house has been designed so as to bathe in natural light to enhance the simple beauty from within” confides the Japanese architecture firm.We observe different windows and niches of light placed at strategic locations and atypical of this house of 151.71 m2.
A small patio is flirting with the wall on the outside and the living / dining room of the house.

HOUSE OF INCLUSION Koichi Kimura Architects
MODEL HOUSE OF INCLUSION Koichi Kimura Architects
EXTERIOR HOUSE OF INCLUSION Koichi Kimura Architects
DESIGN HOUSE OF INCLUSION Koichi Kimura Architects