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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.

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. 

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

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

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY DINING ROOM

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL MEDITATION ROOM

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL MEDITATION ROOM

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY BATHROOM

MATRYOSHKA HOUSE MODERN DESIGN & SPIRITUAL SIMPLICITY BATHROOM

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

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

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

Battlefield Play4Free and The Daily Draw

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

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

The AEK-971 Assault Rifle

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

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

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

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

AEK-971 Accuracy Analysis

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

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

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

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



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

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

In Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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.

The Question of Alcohol in you Diet

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

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

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

Diet Start

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

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

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

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

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

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 Optimize the Benefits of Vitamin D Supplementation

Vitamin D is constantly in the news lately and for good reason.    Optimal levels of Vitamin D have been linked to a host of benefits including prevention and treatment of many key diseases ranging from Osteoporosis to improved heart health with reduction in heart attack risk to prevention of many different types of cancer.
The ideal way to get optimal levels of Vitamin D is to let your body create it through Safe Sun Exposure (see previous blog on this subject here:  http://workoutanytime.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-facts-on-safe-sun-exposure-and.html  However this is easier said then done, and too much sun is clearly a strong risk factor for skin cancer!      Enter Vitamin D supplementation.
The amount and form of Vitamin D supplementation has changed substantially based on lots of emerging research.    The form that should be taken is Vitamin D-3 NOT D-2 form and all experts agree on this!     However when it comes to dosage things get much trickier.      The confusion comes because Vitamin D is really a powerful compound and functions as a hormone in the body.    As such it has profound impact on virtually every system in the body.    In addition you can overdose on Vitamin D supplements so more is NOT always better!
Ideally you should order a blood test and test your levels.    The test you want is called a 25(OH)D blood test and is offered by all major labs.   You can either ask your doctor to order this test for you OR you can order an in-home test.   You just prick your finger and put a drop of bloo on the enclosed paper and send back in to the labs.    You can also your own blood test online and go to a lab to have blood drawn in the same way your doctor orders the test.   For more information on testing go here:  https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/testkit/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwh_bLBRDeARIsAH4ZYEPhv0MVkO5_S7USZZ8bwVlt5A3vPWGbBFFIbJiB8Wtva0x-IDH7UmQaAlGkEALw_wcB#
Ideal versus Acceptable Blood Levels of Vitamin D

There is a big difference between what is considered “acceptable” or okay and ideal blood levels.   Here are the classifications of different blood levels of Vitamin D. according to the Vitamin D Council:
0 – 30 ng/ML is very low and considered a deficiency
30 – 39 ng/ML is better but still insufficient for optimal health and disease prevention.
40 – 100 ng/ML is optimal
Above 150 ng/ML is toxic!
The key is to test and if low take a supplement then retest 2 – 3 months after regular vitamin d use because each person is different in how much supplementation they need based on many factors including sun exposure and skin type.     The RDA for Vitamin D for infants is 400iu.    For Children 1 – 13 and adults through age 70 the RDA is 600iu and for those over 70 the RDA is 800iu.
Unfortunately, this is way too low to get many people into the sufficient much less optimal range so testing is really worthwhile.   In many cases people need 4,000 – 10,000 or more iu’s per day for at least a month to get where they need to be for optimal health!
Preventing Vitamin D Toxicity through the Co-Administration of Vitamin K-2

Like many vitamins Vitamin D has a co-factor or other vitamin that helps it perform its function better and in a more balanced fashion, and that other vitamin is Vitamin K-2 (not to be confused with K-1 found in many plants).    In an ideal world, you can get all the Vitamin K-1 you need from eating plenty of green, leafy vegetables, and your body can turn it into K-2.   Unfortunately, this conversion is lacking in many people.
More importantly K-2 is not easily toxic and can be taken with Vitamin D.    K-2 is best taken as a supplement as MK-7 version which has been heavily researched and shown to improve bone health and prevent arterial calcification which can potentially occur with too much Vitamin D.     For a more complete understanding behind how K-2 works with Vitamin D and why it is a great idea to take the MK-7 form of K-2 with Vitamin D check out this article from Dr. Mercola:   http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/03/26/the-delicate-dance-between-vitamins-d-and-k.aspx

Taking 100 – 200 mcg per day of Vitamin K-2 will help optimize the effects of Vitamin D and minimize risks associated with Vitamin D Supplementation.

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

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

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

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

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

Fallout 4 – Things The Game Doesn’t Tell You Or Explain To New Players Very Well (in Point Form) [UNDER CONSTRUCTION]

[Note.: This post is ‘LIVE’ and ‘UNDER CONSTRUCTION’, as I continue to add more data and Tips and Example Screenshots to it eventually… I decided to make it available now however, to assist those playing Fallout 4; especially those just starting out – seeing as there was a Steam Sale on (Welcome New Players, heh). I will be adding more Text and Tips and Screenshots and More and this post cannot be considered ‘finalized’ until after I add a ‘Final Footer Image’ to the posting (see some of my other posts for examples of this type of ‘end image’ I put in my posts). Please excuse changes as they occur and temporary mistakes and spelling errors, which may show up should you return to this article while it is under development. Enjoy, however – I hope you find something helpful to you – and have fun in Fallout 4!]

I’m having a ton of fun playing Fallout 4 (as I always say, ‘spending too much time Working On Settlements and ignoring the Main Storyline’) – but I wanted to share a bunch of things that I had to ‘figure out on my own’ in the game, or that I saw others had to (in forums, etc)… There is a kind of Tutorial in the first town in the game, and when you first start out some things are explained, but not much after that (there are some Instruction Screens the first time you Lockpick or Hack A Terminal). Below then, are a handful of concepts, in point form, that I wanted to share; especially for New Players, that the game doesn’t quite cover (or ‘cover enough’):

  • If it says “You lack the requirements to create this item” … and you have the requirements and Perks listed… there can actually be more Component requirements (build materials needed), you have to SCROLL DOWN on the Requirements List (labelled “Requires”) to see them
  • How to Holster your Weapon: Hold R for a moment (on PC, by Default); the same key as you have set for Reload (The game walks you through Aiming and Reloading, but does not seem to cover Holstering)

  • Weapons do not need to be Repaired in Fallout 4, but Power Armor can be damaged and need Repairing at a Power Armor Station, which can be found in Towns and Settlements, and can be Crafted in Workshop Mode as well (they require two Perks/Skills; Armorer (Rank 1) and Local Leader (Rank 2))

  • How to use the VANS Perk so that it shows the ‘Trail to Follow’: (See my article on V.A.N.S. … hold Q for a bit, then put away Pip-Boy right away with TAB and the ‘smoke trail to follow’ should be left behind)
  • You can adjust the Difficulty at any time in the game, even if it is just temporarily (such as if you are ill and can’t fight as well for a while). To change your Difficulty, bring up the Menu while playing (Escape on the PC), then go into the Settings, then into the Gameplay category, changing the Difficulty in there, from Very Easy all the way to Survival Mode (where you have to Sleep, Eat and Drink to stay alive and everything is ultra-hard to kill!). The chance for Legendary Items (and the Legendary Enemies that carry them) increases with the Difficulty – but you can also increase the chance of Legendaries by simply going further South and East, increasing the Difficulty of the Area/Mobs/etc
  • If you TRADE with Dogmeat he can carry Items like all other Companions can (he can also wear Dog Apparel, such as Dog Armor or Dog Collars, if they are found in The Wasteland)
  • You can increase how much Robot Companions can Carry, depending on what parts you build them with (need Automatron DLC to build a Robot that can be your Companion [to ‘accompany you on your Travels’]), watch the “Carry Weight” Amount as you choose parts
  • It is “ok” to Drink ‘the regular Water that is everywhere’, it will still heal you a little; it is just Irradiated and causes some Radiation Exposure. If you have a container such as an Empty Bottle or Milk Bottle, you can also fill these containers at Streams or other bodies of water, to Cook with

Don’t totally ignore Cooking (although you totally can, if you want to). Cooking various icky parts and gooey bits that you find in The Commonwealth not only heals you, most of the Recipes also give you ‘Buffs’ – temporary increases in various Stats – and things like Breathing Underwater or the ability to Carry More… Cook All The Things!

  • The RED Bar in your Health Bar (that is normally GREEN) is the level of Radiation you have acquired. It ‘takes up space’ in your Health Bar, because you cannot be “100% healthy” with Radiation Exposure (it must be removed with RadAway or by a Doctor at a Clinic (for a small fee))
  • The Water Pumps that are built at Settlements give ‘Pure Water’ from underground (it counts as “Purified Water” as it comes from underground where it has been protected/filtered from radiation by the land/ground, similar to how it would be IRL). The Water Pumps can be drunk from directly (like a Water Fountain) or the water can be bottled to drink later (if carrying empty bottles/etc); you don’t have to go all the way back to The Vault to get “Pure Water” [something I was doing in Survival Mode all the time]
  • To Build in a Settlement, go up to the Workshop Bench (always ‘mostly red’ colour, with ‘tools’ on it and usually located Centrally in the Settlement) and Activate it. If you are “Allied with the Settlement” (helping them out or have already helped them out by Completing a Mission for them) it will open Workshop Mode
  • To Scrap in Workshop Mode (to ‘break down an item/weapons/armor into Components you can use for Building Materials), look at it (drop it on the ground if you are carrying it) and hit SCRAP. Walk around a Settlement as soon as you can utilize Workshop Mode, looking for anything that you can Scrap in the area, for use as building materials. The items you Scrap all get ‘broken down’ into Components, which are the building materials themselves, the ‘things you construct other things with’ – everything being stored in the Workshop Bench itself as Inventory

You do not have to Scrap everything ‘manually’/’one at a time’. Just STORE or put Junk Items in the Workshop Inventory (‘trading with the Workshop Bench’, called “Transfer”) and when you want to Build something, the Workbench calculates if you have enough Junk Items to break down into enough Components to build with. It will show what you want to build as GREEN if you have enough estimated building materials to construct the thing you are trying to build. (You may also need certain Perks to build some things, watch the Requirements list)

  • People can ‘steal’ your Power Armor… Raiders can Steal your Power Armor if they come across it in The Wasteland, for example. Settlers can even take Weapons out of nearby Crates/Containers to use, when attacked. To avoid losing your Power Armor, take out the Fusion Core from the Power Armor (“Transfer”) when leaving it, so that it cannot be used by anyone else (it is like ‘taking the keys out of your vehicle’) [NPCs don’t seem to carry/use Fusion Cores on the Armor]. However there have been stories of cases where Settlers will take a Fusion Core out of a container in a Settlement and throw it in a nearby Power Armor Suit and run off with it to Defend the Settlement! Crazy. Although most of the time, the Settler will simply ‘get out’ of your Power Armor after the Settlement is Defended – still, take out Fusion Cores from your Power Armor when you leave it, so that noone (for the most part) can take your Power Armor and you can always find it where you left it.
  • If Items and Containers around you are ‘glowing green’ or looking like they have ‘pip-boy radar on them’, this is a result of the Highlighting from the Scrapper Perk. Any items that you ‘Tag for Searching’ for (eg. when trying to Build something and you didn’t have enough materials, you can “Tag the Components for Search”) will have this GREEN highlighting when the Pip-Boy detects you are close to an Item in the world that is made up of that type of Component (eg. Steel or Plastic).
    To turn this OFF, open the Pip-Boy and go to the Junk page in the Inventory tab, and change to component view by clicking on the Component View button at the bottom (‘C’ on PC).
    Then in this view, go through the Component types and clear the Tag For Search by doing it again on the Component type.
    Then, your ‘Highlighted view’ from the Scrapper Perk is turned off and Items and Containers will not ‘glow green’ around you anymore

  • Speaking of glowing green, unless you want your vision to be green-ish and REALLY BRIGHT every time you crouch (Sneak), don’t get Night Person Rank 2 (Perk). Although the Perk does state that you’ll get “Night Vision when you Sneak”, unless you really want to be able to see really well (and slightly green-ish) in the dark or when you Sneak, hold off on Rank 2, or watch some videos on it first, to see what it looks like. [To some, the Bonuses are worth it – and they don’t mind the way it looks – but personally, I did not like how the Night Vision worked/looked; and since Rank 2 of the Perk and the Vision are tied together (you cannot have one without the other), I personally avoid Rank 2 of the Perk, for now]
  • If you Exit the game (in any way except using ALT+F4), the game will Save your progress as an “Exit Save”. Then, when you start up the game again and Load the Exit Save, it will [should] Delete that Savegame. Note that if you try to Exit the game with the Pip-Boy up, the game cannot Save your progress when you Exit to the Main Menu or the Desktop (be careful in Survival Mode!)

  • Don’t forget to periodically see what Upgrades you can perform on your Weapons (to do more Damage) and Armor (to withstand/absorb more Damage) at Weapons Workbenches and Armor Workbenches. Some Modifications require Perks to ‘know how to do them’; check the Requirements as you go through your Weapons and Armor, to see what you need to make them better
Tip: If you are having trouble killing things, look for ways to improve your Weapons to do more Damage and your Armor to protect you from it – with Modifications at Armor and Weapon Workbenches! Also, the further South/East you go, the harder (higher level) enemies you will face. Tread slowly, go back over areas you have been, to see if anyone has ‘moved in’ and left items/money around. Stick to the ‘NW’ as long as you need to (especially in Survival Mode)…

Speaking of Killing Things, here is how to utilize the Suppressor (the Weapon Modification attachment that actually works really well in the game; but it is more ‘realistic’ than ‘silent’…).

Note: Knowing how to attach a Suppressor to your Gun requires the skill/knowledge, represented by needed the “Gun Nut” Perk of different Ranks (needing Rank 2 for attaching a Suppressor to Pistols and needing Rank 4 for attaching a Suppressor to Rifles)


Here are some Tips for shooting enemies (even groups) with a Suppressor on your gun:

– Shoot from a distance
(the Suppressor reduces sound, but is not “Silent”, just like IRL)

– Headshot for instant kills
(most of the time, aim manually to help this, as the chance to miss is always present in V.A.T.S. With good aiming, that single shot can always be spot-on)

– Stop attacking your enemies for a moment
(they will look around at first of course, but if you don’t move and don’t shoot, they will not know what the hell is going on and if you wait longer, they will eventually even stop looking “thinking it was the wind/rats/etc”)

– Repeat, killing the second enemy, and so on…

Try to remember that if you shoot too frequently, they can hear the direction (suppressors aren’t silent, just like IRL) or can see the puff of smoke or something, because they eventually figure out where you are BUT ONLY if you keep shooting when they are Cautious and looking for you. If you stop shooting when they are looking for the source of the sound/attack, you will be ok. Remember, “low and slow…”.

  • Weapon And Armor Attachments (Modifications made to Weapons and Armor at Workstations for each) can be taken off of Weapons and Armor you find and put on your own favourite pieces/items… As an example, take a ‘Weapon you found on a Raider’ to a Weapons Workbench and choose a lesser attachment/modification than what is present on the item. In this example, if you want a “Hardened Receiver” that is on a Weapon you found, choose one further ‘up’ the List of Modifications, such as a “Standard Receiver” and ‘build’ it on the Weapon you found; then you will be changing the Attachment and receive the “Hardened Receiver” Modification in the form of a small box ‘kit’ in your Inventory that you can then use on your own Weapon! Simply go back to your favourite gun at the same Weapons Workbench and see if you can put the new Weapon Mod (“the Hardened Receiver” with higher damage output) on your favourite gun
  • If people around you are glowing (looking, for example, red or green) and look like they have ‘lines through them’ as well, you may have a helmet of Power Armor that has the “Targeting HUD (Heads-Up Display)” on it as an Attachment/Modification. This effect is visible even if it is only active on a Companion’s Power Armor Helmet. Simply remove or change the Targeting HUD Modification of the Helmet at any Power Armor Station, to disable the effect.

[……I am going to add to this post, as I remember things that I already have forgotten and can’t seem to bring back up at the moment to throw in here; but I still hope someone finds these concepts and Tips helpful – especially new players to the game….. Have fun with Fallout 4!]

Trip to Hyderabad cont…..

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

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

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

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

DESIGN ROOM FOR SCIENTIST/GENIUS TEENAGER’S

For today, we have compiled a series of five images that represent the Teenager’s Room Scientist/Genius. We try to choose different: we went with serious internal and sober, but also gave him a shot at the famous and very popular brown, and white. All rooms are practical, with work spaces, small libraries and shelving systems for books and CDs and fine cabinets specially designed for Scientist/Genius teenagers.

Teenager’s Room Scientist/Genius Themed

Teenager’s Room Scientist/Genius Themed

Last but not least, we believe that the Albert Einstein Pictures is a required element in the bedroom of a Scientist/Genius teenager’s, although some of the pictures below, you will realize that they have a special status. Even if all design ideas have a particular theme rooms, the furniture is very close to each other to create interiors that are functional and aesthetic. Take a look!

Teenager’s Room Scientist/Genius Themed

Teenager’s Room Scientist/Genius Themed

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!

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!

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Have a great June, everyone!

Blog Hunting

Today I was hoping to link up with Laura Candler’s Corkboard Connections Blog Hunt, but it seems that linky closed already [sadface].  Still, I want to share a little about what I’m using as my Google Reader alternative and why.


In my mind, this is a battle between BlogLovin’ and Feedly.

BlogLovin’

I’ll confess that I didn’t move over to this platform initially. As soon as I caught wind a few months ago that Google Reader was dying, I quickly packed up and moved over to Feedly. With all of the recent push in the teacher-blogger community toward BlogLovin’, however, I decided to give it another try.
What I like
As a blogger, there are a few features that I really like about BlogLovin’. 
1. Notifications and Blog Finding
I like that I can get notifications when new people start following me. I also like that when I click on those notifications, I can see what other blogs people are reading. I’ve stumbled upon some great new-to-me blogs that way over the past few days. 
2. Viewing actual blogs
Rather than seeing a stripped down version of someone’s blog, I can see the actual website in a BlogLovin frame. This allows for easy commenting when I want to leave comments. It also lets me see how cute everyone’s blog is these days.
What I dislike
1. Too many clicks
It seems like it takes forever to navigate sometimes, and I’m constantly clicking to mark things read, jump between blogs, and if I actually leave a comment on a blog, I lose my place in BlogLovin and have to start over with the remaining unread blogs. I subscribe to hundreds of blogs, so I have to be efficient when I’m looking at content. 
2. It’s still buggy
I tried to go back and organize the blogs that I read into categories the other night, and I found that BlogLovin wasn’t saving my organizational changes for blogs unless I categorized them as soon as I started following them. That was annoying. I also noticed that some blogs that I’m certain I was already following were showing up as unfollowed. Others were showing up multiple times in my reading list. I suspect that a lot of these bugs will improve — I saw iPad updates for the app yesterday, so I know they’re working on it, but I wish a lot of these features were already working better.

Feedly

Since I’ve been using this for a few months already, I’ll openly confess that I’m a bit biased. It may also be the case that I’ve got this platform more figured out than BlogLovin, and some of the “advantages” of Feedly may exist in BlogLovin, too. But here’s what I’ve found…
What I like
1. Better app integration
There are several different apps that I like to use when I’m reading blogs (and in this case, I’m talking about web-based apps, not iPad apps).
Pinterest – Feedly has Pinterest integration built in, so I can hover over an image and pin it straight from Feedly. The pin will link back to the original blog.
Buffer – Buffer is an app that I use to schedule Tweets so that they’re spaced out throughout the day rather than sent all at once as I read blogs. If I read a blog post that I really like, I’ll send it to Buffer to share with others.
IFTTT – If This Then That is an app that sets up certain actions based on commands that I give. For example, if I star an article that I like in Feedly, it will automatically send it to my Evernote notebook with tags that I set. There’s a whole list of IFTTT recipes for Feedly here. 
Evernote – I can send items straight to my Evernote notebook from Feedly as one of the sharing options.

2. Easy navigation
There are lots of easy keyboard shortcuts to use to go through articles when I’m reading on my computer, and it’s very easy to organize articles in categories. Even when I’m behind in my blog reading, I can get through it pretty quickly without feeling like I’m missing important content.

3. Marking articles
I know I can “heart” articles on BlogLovin, but I can mark articles on Feedly for later with specific tags that make them easier for me to find. For me, that’s a better equivalent to starring articles on Google Reader, and I did that a lot.

What I dislike
1. Somethings get lost in translation
Sometimes the pictures don’t get pulled into Feedly correctly (which might not be Feedly’s fault), and I probably miss out on some cool content because of it.

2. Commenting is more complicated
I still have to click to go to the external link of the original blog post to comment or read comments. This is especially complicated when I’m using the iPhone or iPad apps. When I’m on a mobile device, I usually mark the article I want to comment on for later and check it out when I’m back to my computer.

And the winner is…Feedly, mostly

At least for now, I’m sticking with Feedly. I still like visiting BlogLovin’ to find new blogs to follow, but my new strategy is to follow on BlogLovin’, and then I add it to a list called “On My Feedly.” Then I add the blog to one of my reading lists on Feedly. Then when I go into BlogLovin’, I can immediately mark the “On My Feedly” list as read because I’ll know I’ve seen it all on Feedly. There are a bunch of new blogs that I started following as I was trying out BlogLovin’ that aren’t on my Feedly list yet, so that will be a process to move those over. It’s not a perfect system, but I expected some growing pains in the transition. 
I’m going to continue to use BlogLovin to discover new blogs because that’s a huge benefit in my mind.
Where did you land in the Google Reader alternative battle? I’d love to hear what you chose and why in the comments section! 

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.

Hello, 2015!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See You In The Game!

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

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.

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.

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!

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!

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.

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.

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!

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.

The Elder Scrolls Online – “PatchManifestError” In TESO Launcher [Workaround]


[Text-Only – This post is initially Text-Only, to allow posting this as fast as possible, to help others.
I may return and add additional graphics/screenshots pertaining to the article… Soon™]


Just now, I ran into an issue starting up TESO, where the Launcher gave an error message – oddly, it was slightly different than the message my Gamer Wife beside me got – one of us got “Error 210” while the other got “Error 206”. Here is an example of what the Error Message within the TESO Client Launcher looks like:



Popping into the Steam forum and the Official Bethesda/Zenimax Forum for the game, I saw a number of people mentioning they are getting this too, just today, like me. So, I wanted to come here and post a ‘quick fix’ that can get past the error message and allow fellow gamers, like me, to be able to play the game as quickly as right now, tonight [actually it’s more of a ‘workaround’ than a true ‘fix’, as it doesn’t solve whatever issue is happening with the Launcher/Client/Servers… I will post this as a “Workaround”].

Similar to an earlier issue with the TESO Launcher I talked about here at The Blog, the ‘workaround’ involves bypassing the Launcher itself and starting up the game manually via the Executable files… The instructions to do this are below.

For the Steam Version of TESO:

  • Open Steam
  • Right-Click on TESO in the Library and choose Properties
  • Click on the “Local Files” tab
  • Click on the “Browse Local Files” button to show the directory/folder of the game
  • Navigate into THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE > GAME > CLIENT folder
  • Double-Click on “eso64.exe” to launch the game (or “eso.exe” if running 32-bit Windows/Game

    For the Standalone Version of TESO:

    • Right-Click on the Shortcut (the icon that runs the game) on the Desktop (or in the Start Menu) for TESO and choose Properties
    • Click on the “Open File Location” button in the Properties of the game shortcut
    • You should find yourself in a Windows Explorer windows, looking at the “Launcher” folder of Zenimax Online
    • Go up one folder level to “Zenimax Online” (click on the Zenimax Online folder in Explorer)
    • Navigate into THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE > GAME > CLIENT folder
    • Double-Click on “eso64.exe” to launch the game (or “eso.exe” if running 32-bit Windows/Game)
      That’s it! Now the game should start up and you will just have to Login within the game itself.

      Unfortunately, I do not know what has caused this error, and I have not seen any Official Postings by Bethesda/Zenimax to explain it, as of the time of this writing. Although it appears to be some sort of Server/Launcher error, I cannot say specifically at this time. However, having testing this Workaround on different machines and with both the Steam Version of TESO and the Standalone/Web version of TESO, I can safely say that this should work for you, fellow gamer.

      Hopefully that helps – and See You In The Game!

      How to Get Rid of Cellulite

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

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

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

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

      Getting Rid of Cellulite

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      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)

      HOME DECORATING WITH ASIAN STYLE

      Asian themes uses bright and vibrant colors, and thus, it might not always be a good idea to do up the whole house using this theme. It is always better to concentrate on some part of the house and use it as the focal point by decorating it using the Asian theme. There is heavy dependence on texture and color in this theme, and this needs to be kept in mind.

      Home Decorating With An Asian ThemeHome Decorating With An Asian Theme


      Home Decorating Room With An Asian ThemeHome Decorating Room With An Asian Theme


      Home Decorating With An Asian Theme Bed RoomHome Decorating With An Asian Theme Bed Room

      One of the best places to decorate using the Asian theme is the dining room of the house. When the dining room is decorated, one obviously can use the vibrant colors but besides one can also add decorative pieces on the table. One can use things made of bamboo or Chinese utensils which are very famous in the Asian area.

      Sample Dining Room Minimalist Design Idea

      Sample Dining Room Minimalist DesignSample Dining Room Minimalist Design

      Sample Dining Room Elegant DesignSample Dining Room Elegant Design

      Sample Dining Room Classic DesignSample Dining Room Classic Design

      Sample Dining Room DesignSample Dining Room Design
      Sample Dining Room Elegant DesignSample Dining Room Elegant Design

      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.

      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.

      5 Reasons to Flip Your Math Class

      Of all the subjects, math is probably my favorite to teach. But it is definitely not easy. By the time students are in fourth grade, there’s often a wide range of abilities. Last year, I had students who could barely add and subtract and others who were working well beyond grade level. Trying to design lessons that worked for them was a real challenge. If I moved too quickly through the lesson, several students would get lost. If I moved too slowly, others would get bored and start causing different problems.

      Then I attended the Georgia Educational Technology Conference and heard some sessions about flipped teaching, and a lightbulb went off.

      If you’re not already familiar with flipped teaching, the idea is that we need to “flip” the traditional way we teach — lesson at school, practice problems at home as homework. Instead, students should watch a short video lesson as homework to prepare for class, and then the majority of class time is spent working on practice and application while I’m there to guide them.

      I did this pretty consistently for the second half of the year, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. There were so many advantages.

      1. Students became more confident.

      For some kids, math can be intimidating. Everyone works at different speeds. What may be an obvious concept for one kid may take multiple explanations for another. There’s lots of vocabulary and room for mistakes, and when you feel like other kids are getting it faster than you, your confidence suffers.

      All of this went away when I flipped.

      Students were watching the videos at home on their own. No one knew whether they needed to replay something a couple of times until they got it. No one knew that they had to pause the video for 5 minutes to try a problem that others would have solved in 30 seconds. They could all work at their own pace, and they came to class more confident and prepared for practice the following day. The attitude shift in my students this year was reason enough for me to continue flipping.

      2. Parents were less stressed.

      There have been so many times when I’ve heard parents complain about math or express their discomfort in helping their child because they weren’t taught math the way we teach it now. And I get that. I remember thinking in my math methods courses that I could have been great at math if someone had explained it to me better as a child rather than having me memorize algorithms.

      Having the flipped model created allies from a lot of math-hating parents. Some would watch the videos along with their children and have those lightbulb moments where concepts and strategies would suddenly make sense. Others expressed a sense of relief that they didn’t have to worry about “undoing” the things we were doing in the classroom by just jumping to the standard algorithms. We were all more comfortable with the math.

      3. I had more time to see what students could actually do.

      While I always tried to keep my in-class mini-lessons short, there were days when they would drag on because some kids just weren’t getting it. By the time I felt confident they could try some problems on their own, we hardly had any time left. And by the time they got home to do it as homework, they’d forgotten what we’d spent the morning talking about, so they were back to square one.

      Now that I’ve flipped, I only need 5-10 minutes maximum at the beginning of my math block to do anything whole group. I spend that time answering questions, clarifying any misconceptions, and checking the 1-2 practice problems that I typically include at the end of the video. The rest of my math block was then spent working with small groups, conferring with kids, and getting into richer practice and problem solving than I could ever fit in before.

      I also didn’t have to worry about students getting the right answers only when their parents “helped” them. When it came time for assessments, I had a much better sense of where my students were at and what to expect from them because I was more deeply involved in their learning.

      4. I didn’t have to worry when we had a sub. 

      In the past, I would write off sub days as lost instructional time when it came to math. Now that I’ve flipped, that is no longer the case. I include a link to the video I’ve created in my sub plans, and I have the sub watch the video with the class again to start the lesson. Usually that gives the sub enough background knowledge to help with the learning task, and my students have enough scaffolding from my instruction that they can work through the practice. It made those lost days so much more productive.

      This year, I will be on maternity leave for 12 weeks, so I’m nervous about what will happen with my kids while I’m gone. But I’m less nervous about the math because I already have videos made for most of those lessons from last year. My students will have continuity in math instruction because of it.

      5. Students were more successful and could tackle bigger challenges.

      Last year was my best year ever as far as student performance on end-of-year assessments and benchmarks. I think a big part of that can be attributed to the move toward a flipped model for math. My students had more time and confidence to master the fourth grade standards, and as a result, I was easily able to push them into bigger challenges. When I surveyed the students mid-year about the flipped model, their responses were overwhelmingly positive in support of it, and I knew it was something I need to continue in the years ahead.

      Next Steps

      This will be the first year that I use the flipped model for the whole year, so I will need to prepare more video lessons and give some thought to how I’ll transition my students (and their parents) toward this model. In the weeks ahead, I plan to share more about the tools I use to create flipped lessons and some troubleshooting tips for problems that might come up.

      Now that I have some experience flipping, I’m going to go back and reread Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. Jon was one of the speakers I saw at GaETC, and he’s one of the founders of the flipped classroom movement. I read the book quickly as I started to flip, but I think there are more ideas to be pulled from it.

      I’m also starting to think about other areas where I could flip instruction. One possibility might be some of the grammar, vocabulary, and word study components of my ELA block. I consistently struggle to fit everything in to that time, and flipping might be the answer. I’ve downloaded the book Flipping Your English Class to Reach All Learners: Strategies and Lesson Plans by Troy Cockrum, and I’m hoping that will give me some more inspiration.

      Have you tried flipping any parts of your instruction? I’d love to hear more about your ideas and experiences in the comments!

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

      NYC INTERIOR DESIGN FIRMS STYLE

      NYC INTERIOR DESIGN FIRMS

      NYC Interior Design Firms Thomas Britt knows how to create a glamorous interior better than anyone, so when he promised to give “a sort of sense Adrian” an austere industrial building, he knew exactly what to do. Like Adrian, the legendary costume designer, knew glamorous is a quality difficult to achieve. To achieve this, Britt sought inspiration from its customers: a couple, both in the international financial world, and their adorable son.

      “My goal was to create a smart home NYC Interior Design Firms of the 21st century of a young international couple,” says Britt transform their building generic six-story ceiling in Tribeca in a family home. His plan, executed with Valentino associated Samsonadze was to create the illusion of architecture, where there was none, and stresses the unconventional combinations of colors, luxurious fabrics, mother of pearl and lacquered antiques and modern art (paired collect works of Indian and Pakistani artists, but also pieces of Americans, including Louise Nevelson and Sol LeWitt).

      Britt set a young voice in the lobby, the space on two floors, with steel stairs steep. “We needed to warm up to Hall and to make it more attractive,” says Britt, who has cleverly divided into individual zones (soft, floor to ceiling curtains dramatically tied back) in order to reduce its appearance. It has saturated the wall in red paint, then hang it on three “triumphantly scaled” diamond-glass mirrors your own design.

      You can also add a touch of light to the room. That no one can find a Louis XVI console painted lobby of a fossil old, put a couple of lamps ‘iceberg’ 1940 FRENCH plaster on it.

      A small back room in the rear portion of the first floor is equally joyous. Cozy the pupal stage, the room is dominated by a Diva like gold bed in an alcove and partially hidden by thick curtains turquoise. red pillows on the bed making it pop blue and gold. Small tables inlaid with mother of pearl to add an exotic touch. An Indian dhurries with blue, gold and red pulls together.

      As in many houses in the city, the main parts of the population are on the second floor. Britt treatment living room double height, is a huge expense. The palette is crisp set by the booty white curtains, 22 feet high huge red border. A high-level white towers of Murano glass chandelier in a white sofa, chairs and red carpet red and white barrel. “When you’re in this room, do not know what country you are,” said Britt NYC Interior Design Firms. “You can be anywhere. The decor is influenced by all the places I’ve been”.

      NYC INTERIOR DESIGN FIRMS
      NYC INTERIOR DESIGN FIRMS
      NYC INTERIOR DESIGN FIRMS

      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!

      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.

      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!

      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.”

      Georgia Bloggers Meet-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Jayne, Kelly, Angie, Stacy, Tara, Valerie

      PhotobucketThe Teacher Wife

      Funky Fresh Firsties

      ...And They All Fall Down...

      Georgia Grown Kiddo's

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


       
       

      Michelin, Jessica, Greg, Erin, Alison

       

      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.

      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!

      WORKOUT ANYTIME on CNN Money

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

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

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

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

      (Read More)

      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.

      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!

      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

      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.

      WORKOUT ANYTIME in Journal & Topics Newspapers

      WORKOUT ANYTIME in Journal & Topics Newspapers in an article titled, “New 24-Hour Fitness Facility Opens In Buffalo Grove.” The article begins with information about the new club and then gives some details about the grand opening. The article ends with information on WORKOUTANYTIME’s plans for expansion in Illinois and some background on Jeff.  Click here to read more or begin below.

      New 24-Hour Fitness Facility Opens In Buffalo Grove

      A new 24-hour fitness facility recently opened in Buffalo Grove.

      Workout Anytime opened at 700 Buffalo Grove Rd. The facility is open 24 hours a day to members with staff on site from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. Members receive a special key card to unlock doors when staff is not present.

      (Read More)

      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

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

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

      The “Fatal Graphics Error” message, when starting MTW2

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

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

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

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

      See You In The Games!

      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.

      Tempura Mazel

      Tempura is a Japanese dish. Tidbits are dipped in a batter of flour, water, and egg yolk, sizzled to golden in hot fat (by all means, use your wok for this if you have one), drained, and artistically arranged and served, usually on a doily-lined flat basket. The consistency of the batter (which must be neither too thick nor too thin) and the temperature of the oil (350° is just right) are of the utmost importance. Tempura cannot wait; it must go directly from wok to table.

      Diet Start

      • 5 asparagus, cut into 2 or 3
        long diagonal pieces
      • 1-2 large carrots, sliced 1/4″ thick on diagonal
      • 10 green beans, ends trimmed
      • 2 small zucchini, cut into thick sticks
      • 1 bell pepper, cut into strips, pith and seeds removed
      • 6 shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water
      • 6 large parsley sprigs, stems removed, dried
      • 4 Nori seaweed, cut into quarters (available in Japanese markets)

      Clean and cut vegetables; make certain they are dry.

      Batter:

      • Ice water
      • 21/4 cups flour
      • 3 egg yolks
      • 11/2 quarts safflower oil (more if using sauté pan)

      Gradually add ice water to flour with a whisk till mixture is the consistency of heavy cream. Beat yolks and whisk into mixture.

      Heat oil to 350° in wok or large sauté pan. Dip vegetables into batter and fry till golden (1-2 minutes). Do not crowd pan. Drain.

      Chilis Mazel

      • 6 fresh green chilis
      • 1 recipe Mazel Cheese Mexican, warmed
      • Ice water
      • 3/4 cup flour
      • 1 egg yolk
      • Safflower oil to deep fry (about 11/2 qts.)
      • 1 recipe of cooked Salsa Mazel

      Slit chilis lengthwise, just long enough to stuff with Mazel Cheese Mexican. Clean out seeds, etc. Stuff with Mazel Cheese mixture and set aside.

      Gently whisk enough ice water into flour to make it about the consistency of heavy cream. Beat yolk with a fork, then whisk into batter.

      Heat oil to 350°. Dip each chili into batter. Cook in oil till golden (1-2 minutes)

      Drain on paper towels.

      Served cooked salsa over chilis.

      YIELD: 2 servings.

      The timing on deep frying is difficult to pinpoint. Variables include size of pan, the amount of oil used, temperature of oil, desired color of finished product, etc. Do not crowd pan.

      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

      Fallout 4 – V.A.N.S… What Does It Do? Why Would Anyone Want To Take/Use It? [Explanation with Example]

      I saw someone ask this in the Official Steam Forum, wondering why someone would even pick the VANS Perk (the Skill to use it) while levelling. I wanted to come back here and post, as a Quick Tip perhaps, a short explanation on what V.A.N.S. actually does (and how it can be helpful to players).

      Briefly summarized, V.A.N.S. is a Perk of Intelligence (requiring only 1 INT to Unlock) that lets the V.A.T.S. interface ‘show you the way’ to your marked objective/quest/mission location. An example I recorded of how it looks, is below:

      Recorded aboard The Prydwen, this is a short example of how VANS looks in Fallout 4.
      (Reduced size, framerate and quality, to fit Upload requirements at Steam)
      Click to see slightly larger Full Size
      On Steam, at http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=966498722

      To use V.A.N.S., simply hold the Hotkey for opening VATS for a short time (eg. on PC, instead of hitting ‘Q’ quickly once, to enter V.A.T.S., hold it down) – let go of the ‘Q’ key, after about two full seconds or so – even if the Pip-Boy has not fully opened yet. Then hit ‘TAB’ to close the Pip-Boy right away, once the ‘green trail’ is seen.
      You do not need to move or turn at all, until after closing the Pip-Boy fully (for example, I do not use the mouse at all to use V.A.N.S., on PC, I just open the Pip-Boy with ‘Q’ and close the Pip-Boy with ‘TAB’).
      [Perhaps this will help those having issues with opening/closing/viewing the ‘trail’…]

      If you’ve played Skyrim, it is similar to the Clairvoyance Spell in that game, as it will then illuminate a ‘trail’ that looks like a tube of smoke along the ground, that you can follow (but in Fallout 4 it is ‘Pip-Boy Green’, as opposed to ‘SKYrim Blue’).

      While this doesn’t seem needed as Fallout 4 has both Map Marks (on the Map in the Pip-Boy and at the bottom of the Screen in a Compass) and Floating Markers (that can be seen on Doors, above NPCs, etc). V.A.N.S. is helpful in a slightly different way. It shows you the ‘Main Path to take’ to get to your Marked Objective/Quest/Mission (as in, “go to this Street and use this Road”).

      For example, if you are jumping around in the back hills or lost in the skyscrapers of Downtown, it will guide you out of where you are with the ‘green steam trail’ and show you how to get back to the main roads, then it will illuminate which way to go from there, too.

      The Map Markers that are normally available only show the ‘overall’ or ‘general’ Heading, like a Compass (N, E, W, S) and not ‘how to go around this thing in front of you’ or ‘how to get back to the main road first’. Those last concepts are where the usefulness in V.A.N.S. shines; in how it can guide you from exactly where you are, first around whatever is in front of you (to the nearest main path), then how to go on from there to your next objective.

      Try it out on your next Character perhaps – and have fun in Fallout 4!

      10 TIPS TO DECORATE KIDS BATHROOMS

      Teach young children the fundamentals of responsibility bathroom can be a challenge. From potty training to control the way you brush your teeth, bathroom children should be a place of inspiration and pleasure for them to learn and grow. Child bathroom decoration can borrow design elements of your room. With color, the creative organization, and areas designed exclusively for little hands and creative minds, here are 10 tips to decorate their bathrooms. Depending on the age of your children, follow these tips to design your age in mind. For young children, bright primary colors are inspiring, and for older children feel more mature palette of neutrals and pastels.

      KID’S BATHROOM DESIGN

      KID’S BATHROOM DESIGN

      1) Create a colorful background: Although most of the plumbing fixtures remain in neutral shades of white, bone or brown, it is essential to their subject is colorful and fun. Consider painting the vanity, wall, wallpaper, stenciling and playful lyrics on the walls. Be careful when you use the stickers that moisture in the bathroom can lead them to ignore good.

      2) Keep the walls with clean surfaces sustainable: When decorating a child’s bathroom, especially around wet areas such as toilets, sink and bathtub, make sure the surfaces are easy to clean and durable. ceramic wall tile, wall painting wainscoting panels are washable and ideal.

      3) Provide adequate lighting. This advice applies to any bathroom! You do not have dark areas in the bathroom. In terms of cleaning and a bit to see what they do. Bathrooms for children are a priority area of ​​injury, as wall lighting, overhead ambient lighting, ceiling lights and even in the vanity are clear and are not shadows.

      4) the organization is the key to learning, children’s room when decorating a child to remember to put the bathroom easy to find areas of the organization, and easy to reach new heights. Vanity sank in open shelves under the bath toy suction cup holders and bins hygiene products to help children to keep the bathroom clean and tidy.

      5) Small furniture a little ‘small: Believe it or not is a fitting suitable for babies and small children. There are different estimates for lower mobile is a good lesson for children how to use the toilet. Regardless of the customer, when planning your baby’s bath, to know the options are there for the growing child.

      6) to accessorize on a budget: You can spend a fortune to decorate the bathroom of your children also understand that a simple color palette of coordinated accessories that are affordable, can give an overly great! From color-coordinated towels, rugs, shower curtains and hygiene products, operators can combine colors and patterns and decorations.

      DECORATING KID’S BATHROOM

      DECORATING KID’S BATHROOM

      7) The theme of the election: if you are at a loss how to decorate your bathroom kids, consider to choose a theme they have. Derived from animals, sports and entertainment activities to spend time with their favorite cartoon characters and favorite color, the options are endless. If a child is old enough to ask them their opinion on how they would like to decorate your bathroom.

      8) Bathroom safety: Make sure the bathrooms have the proper procedures instilled in interior design. Even though a beautiful crystal vanity knobs cabinetry might be nice to see, if not secured properly can be dangerous for children. Make sure all the furniture, harmful chemicals, and decorative elements are not easy for children.

      9) Update bathrooms of a teenager: For older children and adolescents want to want to accessorize and color coordinated decor may not be as strong. Instead, opt for temporary accessory that can change depending on your mood teenager! colored towels, rugs can coordinate a work of art hanging on the wall all have their own bathroom needs to make your teen feel comfortable in their space.

      10) Keep it simple: It ‘s easy to wrap decorate any room in your home. Remember to have fun when decorating your bathroom children, and to seek inspiration from blogs, interior design magazines and shops to visit in local dishes. Many stores offer “instant bathroom furniture for you. combinations of color coordinated accessories, you can mix and match. No thought required!

      Bring together elements to your bathroom decor kids can be fun and easy to use these 10 tips. Consider your child’s age when decorating, as well as a way of life. If you are a busy parent who does not have time to clean the bathroom with lots of toys to keep open the basket and quick cleaning areas. Remember that you are teaching and inspiring children to enjoy swimming and creative learning.

      LUXURY DECORATING KID’S BATHROOM

      LUXURY DECORATING KID’S BATHROOM

      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 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.

      INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

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

      INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

      INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

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

      INTERIOR DESIGN FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

      INTERIOR DESIGN FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

      INTERIOR ROOM DESIGN FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

      INTERIOR ROOM DESIGN FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

      INTERIOR DESIGN BATHROOM FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

      INTERIOR DESIGN BATHROOM FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

      INTERIOR DESIGN SKETCH FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

      INTERIOR DESIGN SKETCH FOR A SMALL APARTMENT

      Getting Started with a Flipped Classroom

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

      1. Plan your lessons 

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

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

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

      2. Choose your tools

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

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

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

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

      3. Choose your platform

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

      4. Share your content

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

      Bonus Tips

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

      WORKOUT ANYTIME on WFMY News 2

      WORKOUT ANYTIME on WFMY News 2

      The WFMY News team had WORKOUT ANYTIME Franchisee Jeff Cook on the show to talk about how to do explosive exercises in just a few minutes each day. Mary Anne Mills from WORKOUT ANYTIME was also on the show from WORKOUT ANYTIME and they went through 4 different exercises that can be done at home to burn calories fast. In the next segment Mary Anne and Jeff went through exercises that show moms how they can work out while being pregnant. Mary Anne goes through exercises that build up endurance for labor and how to keep off weight while some moms “eat for two”. They went through the different cardio machines that keep the baby safe and go through a donkey kick exercise. Lastly, the station mentions where the WORKOUT ANYTIME is located in Greensboro and how to get more information on personal training sessions.


      You can view the full segment here. 

      Fallout 4 – “Starting Out: On Settlements, Building, Crafting, Materials And More” – A Beginner’s Guide of Tips and Concepts to Settlement Building and Development [UNDER CONSTRUCTION]

      Update: Added images for Main Concepts sections (Food, Defense, etc)
      Update: Added steps for How To Assign a Settler to a Work Station/Shop/etc
      Update: Added how to Give Yourself Any Building Components, or Food, with Commands (Cheats Section)
      Update: Added how to Build past the Size Limit in Settlements (Not a Cheat, Doable on Console as well as PC)

      [Note.: This post is ‘LIVE’ and ‘UNDER CONSTRUCTION’, as I continue to add more data and Tips and Example Screenshots to it… I decided to make it available now however, to assist those playing Fallout 4; especially those just starting out – seeing as there is a Steam Sale on now (go get it! heh). I will be adding more Text and Tips and Screenshots and More and this post cannot be considered ‘finalized’ until after I add a ‘Final Footer Image’ to the posting (see some of my other posts for examples of this type of ‘end image’ I put in my posts). Please excuse changes as they occur and temporary mistakes and spelling errors, which may show up should you return to this article while it is under development. Enjoy, however – I hope you find something helpful to you – and have fun in Fallout 4!]




      I have been having a ton of fun playing Fallout 4 lately… and while I am taking forever to finish up a ‘First Impressions’ of the game [I keep playing and building up my Settlements instead of writing!], I wanted to share some Tips on handling Settlements; some concepts and ideas that might help new users to the game, players that may not have developed their Settlements very much yet, or players that are looking for ways to possibly improve or increase their Settlements and their Production and associated benefits (Bottlecaps income from Stores, Settlers roaming around and finding/providing you with Supplies, Clinics for healing and removing Radiation, and more).

      Screenshot showing the Workshop Area of The Sunshine Tidings Cooperative, Decorated (Work In Progress).
      (High Resolution Texture Pack enabled [not 100% sure, sorry, but I think it was at this time]
      The Automatron DLC Robot Workbench can be seen, center background. Minuteman Flag seen, left wall, foreground)
      Click to see Full Size

      [Settlements and their development and growth is one of my favourite aspects of the game, not only because it supplies you with Junk/Scrap/Materials to build with and Money as well, but also because of the ‘life it breathes into the game’… every Settlement becomes ‘alive’ with people coming and going, working and resting, asking for help or talking amongst themselves around you. After getting a few Settlements set up and running smoothly, they become a place to restock, sell and collect, modify and improve gear, rest and maybe enjoy some scenery, taking a break from the action by building and re-working, improving and creating a place of solitude and pride, in each little ‘town’ in The Commonwealth…]

      Example of the Workshop Mode interface bar, normally seen at the top of the screen in Workshop Mode (Building mode)
      Click to see Full Size 

      Here then, are some main ideas to start off with or to keep in mind  – hopefully helpful to fellow gamers who are either starting out in Fallout 4 [from the latest Steam Sale], or are looking for ways to improve their currently-undeveloped Settlements (colour-coded somewhat-by-importance to help separate them for easier reference):

      1.  In the very beginning, build Food and Water and Beds, as much as you can.  

      These three things (Beds, Water, Food) are the main limiting factors to how many people will come to live in a Settlement. 

       [The maximum amount of people that can ‘live in your town’ is supposed to be your Charisma+10 (so if you have 5 Charisma, that would be 15 people); Provisioners who run Supply Lines (more on them later on down further) don’t seem to count towards this calcuated total (by my experience so far). Also, this limitation is stated in many places online – however, I have Settlements that are much higher than this number (over 30!) so I have not finalized the concept of Settlement Limitation Amount, at this time] 

      Don’t worry about Guard Posts and Turrets, at least, as much as you might think at the start – because although they do help with the overall safety of your Settlement; reducing the amount of Raids that occur, reducing the amount of Damage that will be sustained in the Raids, and setting a higher Security rating (which seems to affect Happiness, but not Immigration rate – more on Happiness later on…) – you can actually put the responsibility on yourself to take care of Raids at first [and get the bonus experience and loot that comes with it!] by Fast Travelling to the Settlements as soon as you see the ‘Help Defend’ tasks come up – or making ’rounds’ between your Settlements as they are starting up, as Raiders sometimes attack while you are there and you can then help clear them out – and get all the Loot they drop, too! 

      [The game leads you towards building Turrets at your Settlements near the beginning, too – in the form of a ‘tutorial’ of sorts, somewhat-early on]


      2.  Plant any Food (Corn, Tatos, Mutfruit, Gourds, Watermelon and Razorgrain) you find, at first.

      Starting out, you want to maximize your growth, so re-planting food you pick up not only increases how much food a Settlement can produce/feed for the Settlers, it also multiplies how much you can harvest!

      You can harvest any plants by ‘picking them’ (hitting the Action key while close to them). You can then immediately re-plant the food you just picked, by entering Workshop Mode and going to the Resources>Food section.

      A while later, you can start to Cook with your Food – not only do the meals you prepare have special bonuses (they are all different!) but boiling up some VEGETABLE STARCH, made from all materials that you can gather at any Settlement, is a great way to create your own Adhesive building material. Used for almost everything, Adhesive is a very important material to have!



      Vegetable Starch, a source of Adhesive, you can create yourself by cooking together Corn (3), Mutfruit (3), Tatos (3) and using Purified Water (1). Purified Water, you can either find as you travel, cook yourself [3 Dirty Water can be boiled up to make 1 Purified Water], or use Water leftover from your Water Sources in your Settlement – as any extra Water that is not used by your Settlers will be ‘kept by the Settlers in the Workshop inventory’ [in the Workshop Bench]. You need Adhesive for Modifications to Weapons and Armor and even for Building – it is used for almost everything and is therefore very important to keep stocked!




      3. Tied for the third most important thing/things to start thinking about, are these two concepts:

        • As you can, increase your Turrets and Guard Posts, to increase the Security of the Settlements, and as stated above, reducing the amount of Raids that occur, reducing the amount of Damage that will be sustained in Raids, and keeping your Settlers ‘feeling secure and more relaxed’ (Happier), too. 

        Although the Security Rating of a Settlement (“Defense”) does not effect the speed at which Settlers will immigrate to your little town, the Defense Rating of a Settlement affects the Happiness Rating – which affects how ‘Productive’ the Settlers are in that Settlement (speed of gathering resources, amount of Caps earned, etc) – more on Happiness later on…

        If you have more Guard Posts than you have assigned Guards, they will ‘patrol’ around the Settlement, going between them, back and forth. If you have the same amount of Guard Posts to Guards, they will each stay at one, standing ‘on guard’, most of the time.

        [I personally like to have a couple extra Guard Posts created in my Settlements just to have the Guards move around more… It creates more movement in the Settlements overall and makes them ‘feel more alive’ – something I really like in my Settlements!]

        • Build extra Scavenging Stations as your Settlement grows, as your Junk/Materials allow you to, so as the Settlers keep flowing in, you can assign them to the empty Stations – concentrating more on Scavenging over time will get your Settlers working and searching around, bringing you any Junk Items they find, “automatically” for you to then use!

        Scavenging Stations are assigned to Settlers, who then start wandering the Settlement randomly, picking up Scrap and Junk items they find and placing them in the Workshop over time – they will even ‘break down’ the items at the Scavenging Station – and you can watch them do it! 

        [If you have the Automatron DLC/Expansion, you will find that robots Assigned to Scavenging Stations will simply stand next to the Station with no animations occurring (sadly)]

        ‘How do you Assign Settlers to Scavenging Stations?’
        Further down, there are Steps with Screenshots for each,
        in the Section “How To Assign Settlers To Work Stations”


        After a while, with more Settlers coming in (sometimes they will migrate to your Settlements quite fast, seeing a solid place to find food, water, beds and have some security/safety), you’ll start to see Junk/Scrap/Materials pile up slowly, even Bottlecaps flowing in, sitting there waiting for you in the Workshops of your Settlements. 

         [If you have extra Food/Plants/farming and Guarding that needs to be done, Settlers seem to assign themselves to those first, if you haven’t been by to visit in a while to ‘tell people what to do’ – I have returned to Settlements to find New Immigrants that have started Farming or standing at Guard Posts on their own – but I have yet to see Settlers that Assign themselves to Scavenging Stations]

        Don’t forget to ‘make your rounds’ and periodically travel around to check all of the Workshops, grabbing these extra ‘Caps and ‘Mats, snatching-up the extra Purified Water you’ll see in them, to sell for even more Bottlecaps (especially if you are more desperate for money sometime). Purified Water is created by extra Water production of the Settlement; water that the Settlers aren’t using from the Sources you have set up. This extra Water gets placed in the Workshop for general use and Supply Line provisioning to other Settlements – but since it sells for a decent price and ‘piles up for free’, grab it and Sell it, if you really need ‘Caps!



        4.  As you find more Settlements, start up Supply Lines between them all…

        Supply Lines are ways to ‘share’ the resources of the Workshops between Settlements. You assign a Settler to create a Supply Line between two Settlements, and they then become a “Provisioner”, leading a Caravan between the two Settlements, taking supplies between them so that you can effectively ‘use the Junk/Scrap/Materials/Components of both of them’, no matter which one you are in!

        Supply Lines are started by entering Workshop Mode, then going up to a Settler (one that is Unassigned with no ‘job to do’, or one that you want to make run a Supply Line instead of the job they are currently assigned to) and choosing Supply Line from the bottom menu bar.

        That townsperson will then become a Provisioner, leading a caravan and a wacky Brahmin through the wilds of The Commonwealth… between the Settlement that they originated in and the one that you assigned them to make a Supply Line to.
        Between these two Settlements then, you can utilize any* Junk/Scrap/Components between them, in their Workshops.

        *Note that it appears you cannot share any Weapons or Apparel that you put in [I have not tested Miscellaneous items yet]; you can only share Junk [as of the time of this posting, this may change in a future Update/Patch in the game, of course].

        Requirement: Supply Lines require the Local Leader Perk to be able to ‘organize the people’, which requires a Charisma of 6 – but it has no Level requirement, so you can get it at the start of the game if your Character has a Charisma of 6. If your Character does not have a Charisma of 6, you can also put Perk Points into Charisma as you Level – you get one Perk Point every time you gain a Level – thereby slowly increasing your Charisma to 6, eventually. You can also put on Gear and Clothes that ‘accentuate your Charisma rating’ [eg. Apparel that says “CHR 1”], to get your Charisma up to 6 ‘instantly’!

        [With places like Tenpines Bluff, a Settlement you find somewhat-early on, that has barely any resources at all and barely anything to Scrap for Building Materials – the game seems to even be encouraging you to think about Supply Lines… at least, this is my interpretation..]

        Pick Up Everything! Loot Every Body And Clear Out Every Location You Find!


        Workshops will create Scrap building materials (Components) for you ‘automatically’ from any Junk Items you store in them – just ‘keep building’ and if you have the Junk that can be broken down into the Components you need, it will do it for you!



        What I mean by the above Tip is, if you put in a bunch of Forks and Knives you have found (for example), and you want to build something in your Settlement that requires Steel to build with, just go ahead and start Building – your Workshop will ‘smelt/breakdown the Junk items (in this example, the Forks and Knives) into Steel’ automatically, so you can essentially ‘use the Fork and Knife to build with’ – you do not need to “drop the items on the ground and then go into Workshop Mode and Scrap the items one by one” to get the Materials from your Junk items to Build; just select your part to Build and it will let you build it – if there is enough “components from junk parts” to do so!

        [I’m not sure if this changed from an early Patch or something, but I see a bunch of people asking in forums, even recently, if there is an easier way to get Scrap (building materials) from Junk items besides manually ‘Scrapping them one-by-one on the ground in Workshop Mode’ – there should have been a better Tutorial for this, in a way, in the game itself; but I hope this information above clears it up and helps people out]

        Remember: 
        Junk Items = Scrap Components = 
        Building Materials!


        Pick Up Everything! Loot Every Body And Clear Out Every Location You Find!
        • Repeated, Scavenging Station concept from above, as a Reminder:

          Build extra Scavenging Stations as your Settlement grows, as your Junk/Materials allow you to, so as the Settlers keep flowing in, you can assign them to the empty Stations – concentrating more on Scavenging over time will get your Settlers working and searching around, bringing you any Junk Items they find, ‘automatically’ for you!

        Scavenging Stations are assigned to Settlers, who then start wandering the Settlement randomly, picking up Scrap and Junk items they find and placing them in the Workshop over time.

         [If you have extra Food/Plants/farming and Guarding that needs to be done, Settlers seem to assign themselves to those first, if you haven’t been by to visit in a while to ‘tell people what to do’ – I have returned to Settlements to find New Immigrants that have started Farming or standing at Guard Posts on their own – but I have yet to see Settlers that Assign themselves to Scavenging Stations]

        [If you have the Automatron DLC/Expansion, you will find that robots assigned to Scavenging Stations will simply stand next to the Station with no animations occurring (sadly)]

        How To Assign Settlers To Work Stations (To Get Them To Perform Jobs In Your Settlement, Such As Running Shops/Stores Or Gathering Items For You To Use)

        Below, are the five simple steps to Assigning a Settler to any Work Station, getting them to utilize it and start contributing to the income of Supplies/Income of the Settlement. In this example, we are going to Assign a Settler to a Scavenging Station:

        1. When you first build/place a Station or Store/Shop or other useable buildings in your Settlement, it will show up as “Unassigned”, in the Workshop Mode interface. All buildings that are Assignable in a Settlement will show a ‘person icon’, in Red, to show that the building has a Requirement that needs to be fulfilled, for it to begin functioning.

        2. Find a Settler that you want to Assign to the Station. This can be a Settler that is already “Assigned” to something (so you can change their Job they are Performing in your Settlement), or a Settler who is “Unassigned” (doing nothing specific). Highlight the Settler by looking directly at them, then press the ACTION button to begin to ‘COMMAND them to do something’…

        Settlers who are Unassigned still gather Junk Items they find while walking around and put them in the Workshop Inventory for use by everyone. However, this happens slower than if they were Assigned to a Scavenging Station (which gives them ‘access to tools’). “Unassigned Settlers” contribute to ‘making people feel uneasy’ in the Settlement – which negatively affects the overall Happiness of that Settlement (resulting in lowered Production for that Settlement). Assign all Settlers to Tasks, or Relocate them to another Settlement (“Move” them), if there are no Jobs/Tasks for them to do.

        3. Go back to the Station/Shop/Building that you want to Assign the Settler to, and highlight it by looking directly at it. Then click the ACTION button to ASSIGN the Settler you just started COMMANDing, to ‘utilize this Station’ (in this example, the Scavenging Station, shown below).

        4. After clicking ASSIGN on a Station/Shop/Building, the ‘person icon’ should change from Red to Green, to show that a person is now assigned to the Station/Shop/Building (for example, the ‘Requirement for the Station to function’ is fulfilled). You should also see a message in the upper-left saying, “This resource is now assigned.” – that’s it! In this example, you have now Assigned a Settler to the Scavenging Station.

        5. If you go back to the Settler, you can check to make sure they are properly Assigned, by looking at them directly in Workshop Mode. They should now show the Task they are Assigned to (in this example, the Settler now shows a “Scavenging Station Icon” (a Buzzard, ‘the scavenger bird’)).

        Perform the above steps whenever you want to Assign a Settler to any Work Station, Guard Post, Shop or Store – the steps are the same, no matter what you need to have Assigned.

        Pick Up Everything! Loot Every Body And Clear Out Every Location You Find!

        Example of a Crafting Station, which allows you to create or modify items in the game. This is a Weapons Workbench (from Sanctuary), used to Modify found Weapons, adding higher capacity, faster firing rates, more powerful scopes, and more.
        (Click to see Full Size)


        Starting out with Weapons (Similar Concept to Armor, Below)

        In the beginning, other than the best Weapons you can save for yourself to use (or share with your Companion), SCRAP the rest for Materials…

        Don’t worry about building up a ‘Collection to Sell’ [at the start], you will run into so many enemies that you will have lots of spare Weapons to Sell for Caps later on. Scrapping for Materials not only lets you have Mats to Modify other Weapons you find and improve them as you Unlock Perks with your Points (using the Blacksmith skill) – it will also let you find other parts/materials as you ‘break down’ the Weapons you find into typical weapon-type-materials like Steel, Wood, Plastic and Screws – sadly, you cannot break down Weapons to gain the ever-important Adhesive, it seems [it is ‘already used’, I guess!].

        Example of a Crafting Station, that allows you to create or modify items in the game. This is an Armor Workbench (from Sanctuary, seen in the rain), used to Modify found Armor, adding bonuses like more defense (adding more material to armor), or putting pockets in it (to allow you carry more weight), and more.
        (Click to see Full Size)




        Starting out with Armor (Similar Concept to Weapons, Above)

        In the beginning, other than the best Armor you can save for yourself to use, (or share with your Companion), SCRAP the rest for Materials…

        Don’t worry about building up a ‘Collection to Sell’ [at the start], you will run into so many enemies that you will have lots of spare Armor to Sell for Caps later on. Scrapping for Materials not only lets you have Mats to Modify other Armor you find and improve them as you Unlock Perks with your Points (using the Armorer skill) – it will also let you find other parts/materials, as you ‘break down’ the Armor you find into typical armor-type-materials like Rubber, Cloth, Leather and Steel – sadly, you cannot break down Weapons to gain the ever-important Adhesive, it seems [it is ‘already used’, I guess!].

        Short Story/Example About Armor: Because I could Modify and Customize Raider Arm armor near the beginning, I gave up the higher-protection “DC Guard Left/Right Arm” armor pieces that I picked off of a poor dead DC Guard, [because it does not seem to Modify-able in the game and] because I ‘knew how to Modify’ the Raider Armor to be POCKETED for higher Inventory/Carry space [you need to ‘learn how’, by putting Perk Points (‘skill points earned every Level’) into Armorer, a Strength 3 skill]. I put the DC Guard Armor in a Dresser at the beginning for the time being, using the ‘Pocketed Raider Arms’ I could Modify, then – a higher Carry Weight Limit is a valuable commodity – especially at the beginning!


        Pick Up Everything! Loot Every Body And Clear Out Every Location You Find!

        Did someone say CHEATS?

        Sick of trudging around The Commonwealth like a Brahmin with two heads cut off, looking for junk to break down into materials to ‘just build’ with? Tired of picking up every piece of Junk you find, trekking in and out of town constantly and thinking “I just want to build up my base…” or “can’t there be an easy way of getting junk” or “there’s gotta be a faster way to get junk”..?


        Then wonder/wander no more – there is a way to instantly get all the materials you want!

        In Fallout 4 [and most Bethesda games], you can type the item you want and how many you want, of any item in the game, into the Command Console. However, you need to know the item’s Unique Identification Number, first (known as the “Base ID” of the item, in Bethesda games). 

        One way to find the Base ID of any item or object in Fallout 4, is to open the Console (by hitting the Tilde key, “~”, usually found next to the Number 1, in the line of numbers across the top of QWERTY keyboards), and clicking on the item or object in the game. It will then show the BaseID of the object at the top/center of the Command Console area.
        For an example; if you wanted to find out the Base ID of that Deathclaw running at you (and since we are in the ‘Cheat Section’ of this article, say… you want to kill it instantly), then you would find out the ID for it by opening the Console (“~”) and clicking once on the Deathclaw (it should be ‘frozen’ by opening the Console), which would show the BaseID of it just below, at the top of the Console area. Now, for this example of ‘killing it instantly’; you just have to type in “kill”, then a space, then type in the BaseID you see on the screen, and hit Enter. BOOM. That Deathclaw that was running at you (and you were unprepared for, full of inventory and unable to run, no doubt)? It’s dead. “First Crack At The Gear!” 

        [Note1: If you try ‘clicking on the enemy, then typing KILL, then just hitting ENTER’ right away; it may not work as desired. You may end up killing yourself… Although those steps do work, they do not seem to work 100% of the time [in my testing], therefore, the Suggestion of doing the steps from just a bit above (“clicking to get the ID, but typing in KILL and the ID number”), is recommended – to save from accidentally killing yourself and having to LOAD…]

        [Note2: The BaseID seems to change [in my testing], as in, when a Deathclaw (from our example above) ‘spawns’ (comes out of the ground), it will have one ID (and it seems to be ‘unkillable’ for a short time), and then when it starts to come at you and attack, it will change to another ID – which can then be used in the Command Console to ‘kill’ it. Also, Base Identifiers may be ‘Procedurally Generated’, which is, automatically and repeatedly created and changed, as a game goes on. Although this does not seem to happen for items like Food and Materials, it does seem to happen with Enemies and Gear (Weapons/Armor) – so be sure to take the steps above when trying to manipulate objects around you (eg. ‘kill’-ing an enemy), finding the BaseID each time, to be sure that there will not be a mistake or missed opportunity, to utilize the BaseID in the Console.]

        Want nearly-infinite food?
        Want nearly-infinite materials to build with?
        Want to ‘just build and not worry about going around collecting Junk (to build with)’? 

        Then wonder/wander no more – here is a way to instantly get all the building materials you want!


        [WARNING/Suggestion: Although getting all of the items you could ever want, whenever you want, to ‘Just Build’ – effectively turning the game into “Fallout 4: The Sims Apocalypse” where you just Build and Decorate and work on keeping your Settlers at bases Happy (not that that’s a bad thing) – it can potentially contribute to making the game ‘less exciting’, as it takes away much of the need to go anywhere or do anything (other than keep your Settlers’ Happiness maintained). This isn’t a bad thing necessarily (I have one Character I created just to play around and learn the Build Mechanics with and have fun just building and decorating..). I only mention this because I would like to Suggest to create a separate Character to do this with, or remember that when the game ‘gets kind of boring’, to create a Character where you ‘don’t cheat at all’, to create suspense/tension within the game. No matter how you prefer to play though, I hope you enjoy Fallout 4 as much as I have – and still do… Have fun!]

        I have some Batch Files for Fallout 4 below, which will allow you to ‘type in to the Console what you want’ [Materials to build with, or Food (so you won’t have to worry about Farming or feeding your Settlers)] and you will instantly have a ton of those items on your character.
        With the Items in them listed in Alphabetical Order, I have one file that is for getting Materials (Scrap/Junk to Build with), one file that is for getting Food (to Eat/Cook with) and one that is for getting huge amounts of both in one shot…

        To use these Batch Files in Fallout 4, simply download the Text file(s) and place them into the Fallout 4 game directory/folder, where the game data/files are.
        [Don’t worry, they are just Text Files, but I give directions on how to make your own further down, if you ‘don’t like to download things unknown very much’.]


        To quickly find the Fallout 4 game files location [in Steam, on PC]:

        Go to the Library section in Steam and Right-Click on the “Fallout 4” listing, choosing ‘Properties’.

        In the Properties window that comes up, click on the ‘Local Files’ tab.

        It shows you what Drive the game is on; but to quickly get to the game files themselves, click on the ‘Browse Local Files’ button, which will open a new File Explorer window (Windows).

        This location is where you want to Save the Text Files to (the ‘Batch Files for Fallout 4’), usually it will have a Path like “SteamLibrarysteamappscommonFallout 4” on whatever Drive/Partition you installed the game to.

        In that folder, Download/Save (or ‘Paste’, if you ‘Copied’ the files from another location) the .TXT files, to be able to call them up from the Command Console in-game. 

        Example of how the ‘Batch Files’ (Text Files) look, after being placed in the Fallout 4 Game Folder
        (Click to see Full Size)
        Here are the steps to use the .TXT-format ‘Batch Files’ once they are in the game directory (shown for the file for getting Food, the file for getting Building Materials, and then the file for getting Huge Amounts Of Everything To ‘Just Build’ if you want...):

        1A. To use the file that gives you 1000 of all types of Food (so you don’t have to worry about Farming or Feeding your Settlers for a long time); type in

         bat allbasefood

         in the Command Console and hit Enter. That’s it!  

        1B. You can now close the Console and you’ll find you have 1000 of every type of Food in the game, on your person.

        1C. Go to a Workshop to Store the Food there (otherwise you will be ‘overburdened’ with all of that Food in your pockets) – you will find the Food items under the AID section in your Pip-Boy, as shown below:

        2A. To use the file that gives you 1000 of all types of Materials to build with (all of the Crafting Components, so you don’t have to worry about going out and looking for and collecting Junk items to Scrap for a long time and can ‘Just Build’, if you want to play that way for a while); type in

        bat allbasematerials

         in the Command Console and hit Enter. That’s it! 

        2B. You can now close the Console and you’ll find you have 1000 of every type of Building and Crafting Material in the game, on your person.

        2C. Go to a Workshop to Store the Materials in the Workshop Inventory (otherwise you will be ‘overburdened’ with all of those Crafting Components in your pockets) – you can just hit the STORE ALL JUNK button, to do it in one step.

        For the last one, which gives 9001 of every single type of Food AND Crafting Component in the game [maybe I should have named it “IJUSTWANTTOBUILD.txt”], use the steps below:

        3A. To use the file that gives you 9001 Of All Types Of Everything To ‘Just Build’ With (all of the Crafting Components in the game, so you don’t have to worry about going out and looking for and collecting Food OR Junk items to Scrap, for a long time and can ‘Just Build’); type in

         bat allyourbase9k

        in the Command Console and hit Enter. That’s it! 

        3B. You can now close the Console and you’ll find you have 9001 of every type of Building and Crafting Material in the game, on your person.

        3C. Go to a Workshop to Store the Junk Items (Materials) and the Food (from the AID section in the Pip-Boy), in the Workshop Inventory (otherwise you will be ‘overburdened’ with all of those Every Frelling Thing In The Game For Settlement Building in your pockets).  

        Here is where to Download the Text Files to place into the Fallout 4 directory/folder (the ‘Batch Files’ to use), from the GoogleDrive for The Blog:

        allbasefood.txt file
        allbasematerials.txt file
        allyourbase9k.txt file

        If you don’t like to normally Download things ‘from unknown places/people’ [aren’t we just ‘Friends That Haven’t Met Yet, though, my dear reader?], here is what the Google Drive link looks like when you click on it:

        Still, feel free to Scan the files with your installed Anti-Virus Program(s), or online through something like Virustotal.com (this is actually a good idea to do with anything Downloaded..).

        If you you rather create your own Text Files, to place into your Fallout 4 directory/folder, to run as ‘Batch Files’, to give yourself an amount of these items, instead of fully Downloading the Text Files offered above – then here are the steps to create your own files:

        Is There A Way To Build More, Past The Limit?

        Sadly, there is a limit to how much you can Build in a Settlement – indicated by the SIZE bar in the Upper-Right corner of the screen in Workshop Mode. While this limitation is there to stop us from building so much that it makes the game go down to 1fps in that area, the SIZE limit is pretty conservative [in my opinion] and I found out that there is an easy way to ‘Build More’ – getting past that Build Size Limitation….

        When you see the message, “Nothing More Can Be Built.”, you can just press your lips together and blow, making that weird trumpet sound, after reading the steps below. No Limitations for you! Just follow these steps and you can continue to Build in that Settlement:

        (Note that this is not a Cheat, it does not affect Achievements and it is doable on Console as well as PC)

        • Get some Weapons together on your Character (specifically Guns, as this specific technique does not appear to work with Melee or Thrown in my testing). Apparel and Junk does not work for this either.
        • Bring up the Pip-Boy and Drop the Guns on the ground
        • Close the Pip-Boy and enter Workshop Mode (by Activating the Workshop Bench or holding ‘V’ (on PC) to open Workshop Mode)
        • Look down at the Guns on the ground and STORE them in the Workshop Inventory (careful not to SCRAP them, that is not what we are doing here at the moment!)
        • You should now see your SIZE bar going in reverse and it will even change from Red to Yellow to Green. BOOM. More Room To Bloom. 

        That’s it! You can now build more in that Settlement. Enjoy! If you want to retrieve your Weapons, you can just go into the Workshop Inventory (“Transfer”) and get them back – which means you can repeat these steps over and over, as needed! (Don’t forget to Share your Screenshots on Steam or elsewhere – other people want to see what you can do – and it gives them new ideas, too)

        Although it is possible to get past the Build Limit by simply dropping ‘any item’ and Scrapping it [I recently learned this on the Steam Forum for Fallout 4], this is still not what I was trying to do, with the Steps above. My intention was to STORE the Guns, so that they can still be utilized later – selling them for Bottlecaps, or ‘Breaking Them Down’ and taking their Modifications off to use on other Weapons, or just using them as Weapons in the game on the Character (or given to Settlers to help them fight off Raids/Attackers) –  that is why the Steps above utilize my method. Storing the Guns allows you to continue to use them (as opposed to Scrapping them into Components to Build/Craft with).



        [……I am going to add to this post, as I remember things that I already have forgotten and can’t seem to bring back up at the moment to throw in here; but I still hope someone finds these concepts and Tips helpful, for either starting out in the game or improving your Settlements (there are more advanced concepts to come….. Have fun with Fallout 4!]

        MODERN LIVING ROOM LAYOUTZ FROM HÜLSTA

        Hülsta German Furniture Maker showed some really incredible ideas of life that may be adopted by the style-conscious people who want to give their house a futuristic look and ergonomic. The perfect blend of stylish design with bright pink and black give the whole to create a very refreshing, but a look of the space age. The leather was added to an authentic touch and royal with a minimalist effect adding to the “cool factor”. You can either go all black look metallic or deliberately throwing red and white, while maintaining the class and elegance.

        LIVING ROOM LAYOUTZ FROM HÜLSTA

        LIVING ROOM LAYOUTZ FROM HÜLSTA

        MODERN LIVING ROOM LAYOUTZ FROM HÜLSTA

        MODERN LIVING ROOM LAYOUTZ FROM HÜLSTA

        LIVING ROOM STYLE LAYOUTZ FROM HÜLSTA

        LIVING ROOM STYLE LAYOUTZ FROM HÜLSTA

        LIVING ROOM LAYOUTs DESIGN FROM HÜLSTA

        LIVING ROOM LAYOUTs DESIGN FROM HÜLSTA

        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.

        Workout Anytime Featured in Franchise Times

        Workout Anytime was recently featured in the Franchise Timesin an article titled, “Nest Eggs: Done right, a rollover of retirement funds can be smart option”.

        The article is a trend piece on franchisees using their 401(k) to purchase their business. John Heifner, Workout Anytime franchisee, gives great insight into how he went about purchasing his Workout Anytime with the use of his 401(k). He went on to say “Starting our third year, I can start thinking about funding a retirement again instead of keeping my money more fluid for cash flow.”

        Click HERE for the full article or begin reading below:

        Nest Eggs

        Done right, a rollover of retirement funds can be smart option

        By: Jeffrey McKinney
        More franchisees are using their 401(k) retirement funds to finance the purchase of a franchise. Who should consider the move? Experts explain the do’s and don’ts, including warnings about strict IRS rules.

        Jeremy Turner’s decision to pretty much tap out his retirement funds to buy a Lawn Doctor franchise was very clear: He calls it the best option he had after banks would not lend him the money.
        Turner withdrew $70,000 from his 401(k) plan and another $30,000 he and his wife had in savings to start the lawn care business in St. Louis in 2010. Turner says he discovered companies charge around $5,000 to help complete the financing process. “I would not suggest that someone try to do this on their own because of tax and other risks involved,” he says.

        Do you have Food Cravings? Food Cravings Test

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

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

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

        Deals And Sales – ‘Things Goin’ On This Weekend’ (Weekend of August 11th, 2017) [Notification]

        Just a quick Notification of some things going on… Once in a while, I try to post about Sales going on somewhere – especially the ‘big’ ones, like Summer’s End or Christmas Sales. This weekend, there are a few ‘Free Weekends’ and Sales going on (that I saw so far) and thought I wanted to share them, just in case there were others interested in these games, heh. Here’s what I saw is Goin’ On This Weekend:


        Guild Wars 2 Expansion (Path Of Fire) is Free To Try all weekend:

        https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/get-ready-for-the-guild-wars-2-path-of-fire-preview-weekend/

        GOG.com (formerly Good Old Games) is having a couple of Sales on games which include series like Master Of Orion, Warhammer 40K, Painkiller, Delta Force, Red Faction and at the same time having a sale on Strategy Games like Codename Panzers, Men of War, Hybrid Wars, Total Annihilation, Empire Earth, and more:

        https://www.gog.com/promo/20170807_weekly_sale
        and
        https://www.gog.com/promo/20170811_special_promo_strategy_sale

        Some other games, which are Free To Try all weekend via Steam, are:

        For Honor, the medieval swordplay/battle game is Free To Try all weekend and selling for half-price
        (for those that remember Die By The Sword, it looks like it may be similar to that, but in an ‘arena’ setting [sorry, but I haven’t been able to try it yet]):

        http://store.steampowered.com/app/304390/FOR_HONOR/

        Saints Row IV, from the crazy “each game is increasingly like GTA-on-drugs” open-world/action
        series, is Free To Try all weekend and selling at a reduced price
        [I haven’t tried it yet, but I am still playing the wacky Saints Row III once in a while and still getting a kick out of it]:

        http://store.steampowered.com/app/206420/Saints_Row_IV/

        Sorry I didn’t get to finishing this sooner, but the weekend isn’t over yet! Get out there and try these games out or grab something you want on sale – and maybe See You In The Game!

        Edit:

        I completely forgot one more I was going to post in here! 

        GamersGate also has some games on Sale right now, including Borderlands (for five bucks!), the Mafia series, Bioshock series, Xcom series, and more:

        https://www.gamersgate.com/offers

        [Note: I am not affiliated with these game sites, nor do I receive any compensation for mentioning them here (the Links do not have any ‘affiliate tags’ or similar additions to them) – I am merely an enthusiastic gamer and like to share deals and other goings-on with other gamers like me. Enjoy!]

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

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

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

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


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





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

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

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

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



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

        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.

        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.

        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.

        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

        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.”

        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

        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 

        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.

        Paperless Mission #10: Distributing Student Assignments

        This is the tenth 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 #10: Distribute Student Assignments through Shared Folders

        Once my students had their iPads, I needed to figure out a way to get their work out to them. At first I tried using Edmodo, but that proved to be a bit glitchy for assignments where I wanted students to work with the materials in a different app like GoodReader. I needed to figure out an easy to manage workaround. Welcome back, Dropbox!
        To do this, I created a new folder on Dropbox called “Student Assignments.” I then right-clicked on the folder to pull up the option to “share link.”
        This pulls up a new window that shows the internal content of the folder in the background. Here, you could enter in a bunch of email addresses, but I prefer to click on “Get link.” This copies a link to your clipboard for you to paste somewhere else.
        Once I had the link to the folder, I put it in a highly visible spot on my class website. My students use my class website constantly, so getting to the link was easy for them once they knew where to find it. 
        Once the folder was shared, I started to create the internal contents of the folder. I created 6 folders inside — one for each day of the week and an archive folder. 
        I numbered the days of the week to control the order of the files. Dropbox will alphabetize the folders otherwise.
        As I gather resources or assignments that I want students to access, I save them as pdf files and I just put them in the folder to match the day that I expect them to do the assignment. At the end of the week, I move everything into the Archive folder, and I start over creating the assignments for next week. 
        This system has worked incredibly well for me! Here’s why:
        • Items in Dropbox sync immediately, so if we’re in the middle of working on something and I realize that I’ve forgotten to give students something that would be helpful, I can just drag it into the folder. I don’t have to sprint down to the copier. 
        • It’s the ultimate organizer for absent students. If a kid misses class on Tuesday, they (and their parents) know to go to the Tuesday folder to see what assignments are there. There’s no more worrying about lost papers or assignments.
        • The archive folder provides a great back-up for lost work. If a parent can’t find a reading or a study guide to help before a test, there’s an easy place to go to see all of the work.
        • It only requires a one-time set-up. Since I’m sharing the external folder and not the individual folders or assignments, I can change out what’s inside the folder without having to get a new link to share. 
        • It doesn’t require any log-ins or sign-ups from my students. They don’t have email yet, and they don’t have Dropbox accounts of their own, but that doesn’t matter. Accessing shared files on Dropbox doesn’t require a log-in of any sort. 

        I’ve been incredibly happy with this system. Everything that I would have copied in the past has been easily distributed through my shared folder in Dropbox. 

        What are some other ways you could use shared folders in Dropbox? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

        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!

        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

        WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Cincinnati Enquirer Community Press

        WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Cincinnati Enquirer Community Press in an article titled, “Mercy Health’s new hospital could be economic boon to township.” The article focuses on the opening of the Mercy Health – West Hospital in Green Township and how that is creating an opportunity for businesses in the community including the new Cincinnati WORKOUT ANYTIME. The article begins with details about the new hospital, then goes into the economic development going on in the area. The article then details some of the businesses opening in the area, including Tony Petrocelli’s Cincinnati WORKOUT ANYTIME. The article includes this information provided by No Limit Agency: “Cincinnati resident Tony Petrocelli is opening the first Workout Anytime in Ohio near the hospital, in a space that was previously a WesBanco and had been vacant for six years.” The article ends with info on other businesses and plans for development in the area.  Click here for the entire article or begin below.

        Mercy Health’s new hospital could be economic boon to township
        By: Kurt Backschneider

        GREEN TWP. — While township leaders are excited about the state-of-the-art medical services Mercy Health is bringing to the West Side, they’re also looking forward to economic development opportunities the new hospital will help attract.

        Mercy Health – West Hospital, a 250-bed, full-service hospital off of North Bend Road near Interstate 74, will open for business Sunday, Nov. 10. 

        Roughly five years in the making, the $240 million hospital will feature the latest advancements in patient care and comfort, new technologies, private patient rooms and expanded medical services for West Siders.

        (Read More)

        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!


        1948 Packard woody station wagon and matching teardrop trailer

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

        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!

        Astaxanthin – Anti-Oxidant Superstar

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

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

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

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

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

        Astaxanthin and Eye Health

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

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

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

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

        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.

        Carbohydrates, good or bad for dieting

        Another distinction that some nutritional counselors make is between refined and unrefined carbohydrates. In dieting index weight loss, we prefer to classify carbohydrates as low-, medium-, or high-dieting. However, because you’re bound to hear carbohydrates defined as refined and unrefined, this section discusses how the terminology relates to the dieting index.

        Refined carbohydrates are more highly processed than unrefined carbohydrates. Processing includes such activities as cooking, milling, and separating the whole food into parts. Examples of refined carbohydrates are white bread, white rice, most packaged breakfast cereals, donuts, cakes, cookies, bagels, fruit and vegetable juices, fruit drinks, soda, and candy. The list goes on. Refined carbs are usually high-dieting, but some can be low, as in vegetable juice and some fruit juices.

        Diet Start

        Unrefined carbohydrates are those kept in their natural state. In general, the unrefined carbohydrates tend to contain more fiber. Examples of unrefined carbohydrates are whole vegetables and fruit, whole grains, dried peas and beans, and nuts and seeds. Some foods are processed more than others. For example, fruit juice is not processed as much as fruit drinks. Usually unrefined carbs are low-dieting, but not always, so be sure to check the dieting index listings before you eat them.

        Pastas

        Even though regular pasta is a highly refined, processed carbohydrate, its dieting value can be low, medium, or high, depending on how you cook it. If you cook spaghetti for only 5 to 6 minutes, its low-dieting. Other types of pasta may need slightly more or less cooking time. If you open a can of prepared spaghetti in sauce, those noodles will have a higher dieting index because they’re mushy.

        Cook pasta just until it softens and you’ll be eating a healthier meal. The longer pasta is cooked the more available the starch in the pasta is for quick digestion—exactly what you don’t want.

        The Good and the Bad

        Carbohydrates aren’t good or bad; the difference is in how you eat them and how much of them you eat. This is one of the reasons why dieting index weight loss works so well. You don’t need to give up your favorite treat food, whether it’s white bread, bagels, or candy bars. But you do need to eat them in such a way that you don’t cause a quick rise in your blood sugar levels, and you do need to watch portion sizes.

        The dieting index gives you a way of managing your blood sugar and insulin levels, thus assuring that you aren’t storing fat and also that you continue to lose weight.

        One way to do this is to manage your dieting load by meal and by day. You’ll be balancing the low-dieting foods with some high and some medium, and overall, you can keep your insulin levels low.

        Now’s the time to give up the notion of bad and good carbs and of fattening and nonfattening carbs. Instead, accept all carbs as okay, based on how you eat them.

        The Role of B-Vitamins in Preventing Brain Loss

        One in five people older than 70 suffers from cognitive impairment which will progress to dementia and death in half of these people within five years.  So it is very important to address all the modifiable risk factors for cognitive impairment.   One of these risk factors is elevated homocysteine which is a strong, independent risk factor for Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Heart Disease.  
        One of the longest and most comprehensive studies ever done showed that one in six cases of Alzheimer’s Disease can be caused by increased homocysteine levels.
        In order to process homocysteine properly the body needs adequate levels of Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), vitamin B12, and Vitamin B6.   A double-blind randomized controlled trial showed that the reduction of homocysteine by B Vitamins can slow the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in people with mild cognitive impairment which is often the first step towards Alzheimer’s Disease.
        Another study showed that B-Vitamins can reduce brain loss in areas prone to the Alzheimer’s Disease process. 
        Other Benefits of B-Vitamins
        B-Vitamins as a group are incredible important to a wide range of cellular and metabolic functions from energy production to production of hormones. Benefits of optimal levels include increased energy, improved mood, reduction of allergy symptoms, help preserve vision, help to maintain bone strength, and help prevent heart disease and stroke.
        How do I get B-Vitamins?
        Although it is possible to get the RDA of B-Vitamins through diet alone it requires a carefully planned diet and for vegetarians it is very challenging because there is no vitamin B-12 in vegetables. Milk, yogurt and cheese, along with eggs, are the only vegetarian food items that naturally contain significant levels of vitamin B12.
        In addition many people have conditions which prevent optimal absorption and cellular uptake of certain B-Vitamins such as Folic Acid.   Each of the key B-Vitamins come in several forms with some being much more active and effective than others.   When everything works right the body can convert other forms to the active forms, but there are many things that interfere with this process.
        For example Intrinsic factor produced in the stomach is what allows the intestines to absorb this vitamin.  Not everyone produces intrinsic factor so common sources of B-12 are not effective.
        Also since B-Vitamins are water-soluble excess amounts are easily and safely excreted so taking a high quality B-Vitamin Supplement or Multiple Vitamin with activated forms of B-Vitamins in adequate amounts is the safest way to cover yourself.    In addition, although each B-Vitamin performs critical functions in isolation they also work together to optimize many functions so taking a complete B-Vitamin Supplement is highly recommended.
        What are all the B-Vitamins?

        B- Vitamin          Active Form                                                    Inactive Form
        B-1                        Benfotiamine                                                Thiamine
        B-2                        Riboflavin-5-phophate                                 Flavin Monocleotide
        B-3                        Niacinamide                                                 NAD                                        
        B-5                        Panthothenic Acid                                         None                   
        B-6                        Pyridoxal-5-phospate                                    Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
        B-7                        Biotin                                                             None
        B-9                        Methyltetrahydrofolate  aka Metafolin         Folic Acid                                         
        B-12                      MethylCobalamin                                         Cobalamin
        Can you take too much of the B-Vitamins?
        For certain ones the answer is yes!  You should not take in more than 800mcg of folic acid supplement.  Too much can mask a condition called pernicious anemia.  Multiple Vitamins and B-Complex Supplements will contain 400 – 800mcg and more from diet is not a problem.
        For vitamin B-6 intake above 200mg per day is not recommended.  Again multiple vitamins and B-Complex will generally contain less than this amount and more from food is not an issue.
        Regular “Niacin” can cause significant skin flushing and itching, but this is harmless although it can be very uncomfortable.    Extremely high dose niacin can be used to treat high cholesterol levels but the regular form that causes flushing can also cause liver issues at high levels.   This is also true of “time-released” forms.     The best form for use for cholesterol is “Flush Free Niacin” aka Inositol Hexiniacinate as it will not cause these issues.   NAD (Nicotinomide Adenine Nucleotide) is very safe but there is no reason to take more than 10mg per day.
        As always do not take any supplement when pregnant without consulting your registered health care professional.

        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/

        WORKOUT ANYTIME on FOX 56 Lexington

        WORKOUT ANYTIME on FOX 56 Lexington

        Head Trainer Carl Flotka of WORKOUT ANYTIME Lexington was recently featured on FOX 56 Lexington. In the segment Carl talks about how to portion control during the holiday season and highlights a few exercises that viewers can do to stay active.
        View the full segment here.

        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.

        5 Ways to Use iPads in Math

        Today I’m linking up with the Tune into Technology Linky to share some ways to integrate technology in Math. Since I teach in a 1:1 iPad fourth grade classroom, I’ll focus on how we use iPads in Math.

        1. Build a Math Notebook in Evernote



        Evernote is my all-time favorite note-taking app, and that extends to math as well. In addition to typing text notes, students can attach documents (handouts, activities, etc) that they’ve viewed on their iPads and they can also take pictures through the app or attach pictures from the camera roll. That’s helpful when they build models with manipulatives and want to archive their work.

        2. Reinforce concepts or conduct inquiry research with math movies.

        BrainPop
        Khan Academy



        Two of my favorite apps to use in math are BrainPop and Khan Academy. I often use these to introduce a lesson or to differentiate instruction. I often feel like I get stretched pretty thin during math instruction because I have such a range of skills in my classroom, but these apps help. If I’m working with a student and a second student needs help, I can direct that student to a video on Khan Academy and encourage the student to see if that will help him or her figure out the problem until I can get there. Often the additional examples help the student understand the problem better.

        3. Make math movies to assess understanding

        Show Me

        Explain Everything

        I often ask students to show their solution to a problem on an app like Show Me or Explain Everything. There they can model their thinking using pictures or drawings, and they can record their voice as they explain their work. I learn so much about their understandings through their explanations, and it helps to assess the Standards for Mathematical Practice included in the Common Core.

        4. Make a Vocabulary Notebook in Keynote

        Keynote


        I like to use Keynote for their math vocabulary because we can create slides that use the Frayer Model for vocabulary instruction. In addition to typing definitions, examples, and non-examples, they can draw their own pictures on a whiteboard app, take a screenshot, and add them to the slide. They can also search for real-world examples to photograph and add. Once they’re finished, they can easily alphabetize their entries by rearranging the slides.

        5. Use QR codes
        Our math word wall has QR codes linking to the definitions of each term so students can quiz themselves about the meaning of a term or review terms they’ve forgotten. If you click on the image below, you can get a freebie example of this for the properties of multiplication.

        My complete sets for grade 4, grade 5, and 4/5 combo are available at my TpT store.

        We’ve also written riddles in Geometry where students could scan a QR code to find the answer. You can read my post about that here.

        And we’ve used QR codes to help check homework assignments. I’ve written about that here.

        I’m really just scratching the surface here — there are so many other possibilities and several math specific apps to use, but I’ll save those for future posts. I’m excited to read other examples of integrating technology into math, though, and if you haven’t visited the linky yet, you definitely should. I got so many great ideas for reading and writing from it last week!

        How do you use technology in Math?

        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 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.

        cool little trailer with a hinged top

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

        Guided Math Resources

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

        First, is this book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Have a great weekend!

        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.

        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.

        WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Jacksonville Daily Record

        WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Jacksonville Daily Record

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

        The Incredible Benefits of Grounding – Walking Barefoot on the Ground!

        Anyone with small children knows they want to try to ditch their shoes every chance they get – but if you think about how you feel when you are barefoot you will probably realize that you  also feel better when you can walk around barefoot.  Researchers have begun to unravel why being barefoot directly on the ground can in fact be very good for your health!
        Your immune system functions well when your body has an adequate supply of electrons, which are easily and naturally obtained by barefoot contact with the Earth.
        Research has shown that electrons from the ground have measurable antioxidant effects that can protect your body from inflammation. For hundreds of thousands of years on the planet humans have been in direct contact with the ground without anything that would block the flow of electrons into our bodies.
        However in modern time’s pavement, wood, rubber, plastics and many other forms of non-conductive material are between our feet and ground blocking the natural flow of electrons.
        The surface of our planet has a negative electrical potential. So when we are in direct contact with it electrons flow to your bod through a process called “grounding”.   Grounding causes positive physiological effects that promote optimum health.
        Specific researched benefits include improvements in blood viscosity, heart rate variability, inflammation, cortisol dynamics, sleep, autonomic nervous system (ANS) balance, and reduced effects of stress.
        When you connect directly to the ground without any non-conducting material between you and the electron field of the planet there is an improvement in the balance of two sides of your autonomic nervous system:  the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
        How Shoes May be Impacting Your Health
        Materials like metals are excellent conductors of electricity (aka electrons!). The human body is also conductive because it contains a large number of charged ions (called electrolytes) dissolved in water.
        Other non-conductive materials, such as plastic and rubber, have very few free or mobile electrons. Traditionally shoes were made of leather, which is a good electrical conductor. However almost all modern shoes contain rubber and plastic which block the flow of electrons from the earth to your body.
        The Health Benefits of Grounding
        Your immune system body has evolved a method of destroying bacteria and viruses by generating reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are delivered by immune cells. However, these ROS can also cause extensive damage to healthy tissues. ROS are usually positively charged molecules that need to be neutralized immediately to prevent damage to the body after destroying bacteria or viruses.   This is one of the key functions of anti-oxidants which are most important in immune cells to protect them from the ROS they generate!
        Anti-oxidants essentially provide a supply of negative charges. Food based antioxidants (such as Vitamins C and E) and anti-oxidants your body produces are critical but a regular supply of electrons grounding can supply them as well.
        Evolution facilitated the process of grounding by providing conductive systems within your body that deliver electrons from your feet to all parts of your body. This system has been integral to human physiology for thousands of years. Negative electrons are always available, thanks to the Earth, to prevent the inflammatory process from damaging healthy tissues.
        All of this was interrupted when we started to wear shoes with rubber and plastic soles, and no longer slept in direct contact with the ground. Several experiments have proven that a person who is grounded is less stressed and more relaxed.
        So have some fun, kick your shoes off and get back to nature!
        How to get the benefits of Grounding
        Grounding is simple in warmer climates – simply spend time barefoot in direct contact with the earth.   Even better do this on a beach walking along the edge of the water because the flow of negatively charged electrons will be highest here because sea water is an ideal conductor of electrons!    Any amount of time will help but the more you can do it the better!  Even better spend some time laying on the beach or ground with your body in direct contact with the ground without any artificial fabrics, rubber or plastic between your skin and the ground.
        For those of us who do not live in warm climates staying grounded during colder months is a bit more challenging but doable! There are actually grounding mats available that plug in to the grounding wire port of a normal 3-prong outlet or a grounding rod (US and Canada only). The earth’s natural electrons flow right up through the ground wire and onto the mat, even if you’re in a high rise. Most mats come with an outlet tester you plug in to the outlet so if your outlet is configured properly.

        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.

        Becoming a GI Joe

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

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

        Diet Start

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

        Density values

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

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

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

        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.

        Innovative Office Furniture Sets Were Designed by Vitra

        These new and innovative office furniture sets were designed by Vitra and are basically practical approaches to the concept of “Citizen Office”.

        Innovative Office Furniture SetsInnovative Office Furniture Sets

        Innovative Office Furniture SetsInnovative Office Furniture Sets

        Innovative Office Furniture SetsInnovative Office Furniture Sets

        Innovative Office Furniture SetsInnovative Office Furniture Sets

        This term was invented by the company in 1991 and taken to another level with the furniture collections below. Jo Kaiser (manager for the North American branch) gave a statement which summarizes the idea of the project: “we believe you should use an office like you would a city”. In other terms- more comfort while making the most of the available space. Here is further information from the company: “A Citizen Office encourages the occupants to work using a range of postures and to move within the office as much as possible. Working while standing or assuming various casual postures provides variety and relaxation while maintaining employee health. The Citizen’s Office takes us a step further than traditional ergonomics – physical activity is integrated with office etiquette in a natural manner. “

        Peanut Benefits for Health

        PEANUT BENEFITS FOR HEALTH

        Peanut Benefits for Health – Peanuts are legumes that take the benefits to the area of the roots are forming pods, do you know if the bean plants it has the advantage of a very remarkable in the area of agricultural land, the reason is because the beans are plants that collaborate with types of mycorrhizal fungi to synthesize N in the air become available to the plant, N that includes nutrients that are needed by plants in large enough quantities, land former planted beans have levels of N were pretty much up intake N for the next crop is still there. Not only useful for agriculture, but peanuts also have benefits for our health.
        Peanut Benefits For Health - 1
        Now let us try to discuss specifically about the benefits of the bean plants to our body and how much is the benefit that we can take from this pod peanut plants. Consider the benefits of peanuts below:
        Peanut Benefits for Health
        1. Helps To Increase Fertility
        For you are the woman I’m sure you’ve got the point. Peanuts contain folic acid, according to research women who ate peanuts 400 micrograms of folic acid have a lower risk of having a baby born with a serious neural tube defects up to 70% at the time before pregnancy and early pregnancy
        2. It Can Prevent Painful Gallstones
        During 20 years of research have shown if by consuming 1 ounce of peanut butter a week can reduce the risk of developing gallstones by 25%.
        Peanut Benefits For Health
        3. Can Help Reduce Depression And Stress
        Peanuts are a good source of tryptophan, the role of these substances can increase serotonin antidepressant effects (which can affect the atmosphere in the heart) if there is an increase in the amount of serotonin in the blood.
        4. Can Improve Memory
        The beans have a content of vitamin B3 or also often called by naisin content is also beneficial to maintain the health of the brain and improve memory.
        5. Lowers Bad Cholesterol
        Peanuts contain cholesterol substances that are good for our bodies, as well as the good cholesterol can reduce cholesterol levels and can control the evil by means of dominating it.

        Hopefully article Peanut Benefits for Health can we share today can be beneficial for you. Do not forget to always visit the website abouthealthbenefits.xyz to seek other health articles. Thank You.

        WORKOUT ANYTIME on WYFF Greenville

        WORKOUT ANYTIME on WYFF Greenville

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

        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

        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

        Proven Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

        As we head into the holidays most Americans will gain between 8 and 12lbs between Halloween and New Year’s Day.  However, there are ways to avoid this weight gain!
        Here are some key tips:
        Eat before you drink and celebrate and before holiday parties.     Going into a holiday party on empty and hungry is a sure-fire way to overeat.    Alcohol intake boosts appetite to begin with and if you start out without anything in the tank it just gets worse!    This does not mean overeating – eat a sensible meal about 2 hours before you go to the party.
        Try to choose higher protein foods first because protein helps with satiety (feeling satisfied and not hungry).
        Fill up on Fiber Rich Foods – which also help with satiety and help create a feeling of fullness when consumed with water.  Focus on the raw veggies and yes you can dip them in some dip that has some fat because together fiber and fat can really assist in managing hunger along with protein.
        Eat some fat – that’s right eat some fat!   Fats also are key for satiety.   That being said a little goes a long way!
        Bring your own food to a party.   Rather than having only high calorie, high sugar and high fat foods bring something you enjoy that is also healthy along with you!
        Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly – seems simple and it is.    It is also VERY effective for limiting food intake!
        Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses – all of which help to slow down food and beverage intake and make you more conscious of how much you are consuming!
        Try to Minimize Sugar and Starch Intake – both sugar and starch wind up as glucose (blood sugar) and high intake drives insulin which results in rebound hunger.      High sugar and starch intake increases hunger – particularly when drinking alcohol because alcohol acts like a super sugar and also drives insulin response.
        Pause before getting seconds – as with slower eating and deliberately chewing food this can give your body time to realize it is no longer really hungry.
        If you are doing the entertaining have extra containers you are ready to give away so guests can leave with some of the extra food!

        Try not to eat in front of the T.V. which distracts you from how you feel and results in mindless eating!
        Consider planning a cheat meal but have a plan for how much you are going to eat!   One meal can knock you off course but most of the holiday weight gain comes from completely giving up on healthy eating for many meals.   Planning one cheat meal every week and planning on eating a set amount of the foods you may be craving can work for many people rather than mindlessly eating.      If you plan your meal including your portions of alcohol, sweets, fat and sugar you can limit the damage and still have a great time!
        Drink Water.   Often quoted and still true – water is the best beverage and avoiding sugar laden drinks in favor of still or sparkling water can make a big difference in minimizing holiday weight gain.
        Workout!   Working out improves mental outlook and burns some calories while reducing stress levels!    When we are stressed we overeat!   Just 10 minutes a day can make a big difference!

        Get Your Sleep.   Lack of sleep is terrible for your health and particularly bad for driving appetite and overeating.   Lack of sleep causes hunger and excessive eating because the normal feedback mechanisms that tell you that you are full do not work properly when you are tired.   Basically, a tired brain tells you to eat to feel better and it is VERY hard to resist these urges when tired!

        Battlefield Hardline: A Double XP Boost is Currently Active! [Notification]

        Just a quick post to notify those interested in Hardline that a Double XP Boost is Currently On! GOGOGO http://battlelog.battlefield.com/bfh/

        See You In The Game!

        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

        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.

        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!

        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!]

        The Benefits of Jump Training

        Watch a group of kids and you will likely see bobbing heads – kids love to jump and there are good reasons for them to jump.   A key aspect of human movement is learning to store energy and then reclaim it as part of a movement cycle. For example up to 40% of the energy required for movement during walking and running is created by storing energy in the leg muscles as the foot lands and then using it during the push-off phase.  The technical name for this cycle is the “Stretch-Shortening Cycle” or SSC.  The SSC takes advantage of the fact that muscles can act as springs:  they store energy as they are lengthened then rebounding in the opposite direction as they get shorter.

        Efficient movement takes advantage of the stretch-shortening cycle and muscles are designed to store and release energy in a rhythmic pattern of loading and unloading just like loading and unloading a spring.  In addition, power for all athletic movements is generated by taking advantage of the SSC.     A key aspect of getting the most from this cycle is rhythm and timing which are learned through repetition.
          
        There are three distinct phases to jump training:

        The Loading Phase – such as landing phase of walking and running where the muscles lengthen under tension to absorb the landing.
        The Amortization Phase – where the muscle transitions between loading phase and the Unloading phase.
        The Unloading Phase – where the muscles shortens and transfers the stored energy externally like a spring recoiling such as the push-off phase of walking and running.

        Jumps can be little – like jumping rope or big – like box jumps.  Start with little jumps.  A great place to start is jumping rhythmically in place with both feet with short fast jumps.   You want to land on the ball of the foot and flex your knees when you land and let your heels just kiss the floor then jump up again and repeat.  Start with really tiny jumps and try to let the elasticity of your calf and quad muscles do the work – done properly it should feel relatively easy.   It will take several weeks to condition the muscles of the foot and calf to be able to do longer sets so take your time.  In addition there are many benefits to performing this training without shoes so the muscles of your foot get conditioned and you have a better feel of the ground.

        It is also important to insure your knees track over your toes and do not collapse inward so do short sets (30 seconds or less) of low, fast jumps on both feet and learn to feel the rhythm of the cycle of landing and push off.

        Once you master this you can add more height to your jumps after you are warmed up.   Stop each set if you start feeling tired or feel unstable, and recover completely between sets.  Do NOT do jump sets to failure. Eventually you can progress into full squat jumps.   However remember the key to capturing the benefit of the stretch-shortening cycle is a quick rebound after landing.  So if you go too low in the loading phase the pause between landing and rebounding will be too long and you lose the benefit of the stretch-shortening cycle.

        Over time you can even progress to single leg jumps or box jumps where you jump down off a height to the ground/floor then land and rebound up.  Take these progressions SLOWLY – it is important to build the elastic strength of the muscles in your foot, lower leg, and thighs over time and stopping BEFORE you are exhausted will prevent injury.  This is why kids naturally like to do short sets of jumps repeatedly – it feels good when done properly!

        There are many benefits to jump training including:

        Toning the lower body – jumping recruits all of the major muscles of the lower body while at the same time being the ideal stimulus to build bone strength.

        Jumping burns lots of calories – once you can build up to being able to do 1 – 4 minutes of continuous jumping like jumping rope you can really rack up the calories!

        Jumping pumps up the cardiovascular system – as above once you can jump safely and in good form for 1 – 3 minute sets you will not believe how high your heart rate gets!

        Jumping also demands great balance and stimulates fast-twitch muscle fibers.   Fast-twitch muscle is the type of muscle we lose quickest as we get older.   Fast-twitch fibers are not just important for athletes – they are important for preventing falls because the ability to produce force quickly is important to be able to react quickly when your balance is unexpectedly challenged like stepping off a curb you do not see!

        Jumping is the best way to build the strength of bones – bones need impact and force to stay strong. The key is starting with small jumps and gradually building the height of jumps and time spent jumping.

        There are many ways to build jumping into a workout such as doing some skipping drills which can even be done on a treadmill safely once you get the hang of it.


        It is also worth working with a trainer to help you develop proper jumping mechanics and the stability you need to land properly which are pre-requisites for safe and effective jump training.

        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.

        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!

        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.

        RELAXING BATHROOM MODERN DECORATION

        Relaxation can be achieved in a variety of ways. If the shape of the tub that makes the difference, decorative items or inspire the idea that you can see, these bathrooms all have something in common with relaxation. Some interiors are rich in green arrangements, which add freshness and energy of the place. He also tried to find some bathroom designs that have a special color.

        LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM DESIGN

        LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM DESIGN

        We realized that the wood has a great influence on modern decoration, the first picture, for example, because it adds authenticity and personality. The windows are also of great importance because they have a great influence on the aesthetics and atmosphere of a room. Diagonal windows give a dramatic touch and are welcome if there is a nearby slope. Most of the bathrooms in the following images are modern, but also you will find some classic elements that blend well with contemporary arrangements.

        LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM LUXURY DESIGN

        RELAXING BATHROOM LUXURY DESIGN

        LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM DESIGN

        LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM DESIGN

        LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM GREEN DESIGN

        LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM GREEN DESIGN

        LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM STYLE

        LUXURY RELAXING BATHROOM STYLE

        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
        INTERIOR HOUSE OF INCLUSION Koichi Kimura Architects

        Superb materials were used for interior decoration, we welcome in particular the sublime and the bedroom floors polished concrete … WE LOVE IT!
        The architects of the firm FORM / Koichi Kimura tell us more about this house. This house, Located in a new residential area, is for a 30-something couple. Surrounded By Other House, The Design Goal Was Set Up to block out the Outside world while Avoiding too much closure, as well as “to Provide Rich and sensuous spaces.
        First, a small patio and a path connected to it Were Laid Out Between The living / dining room and exterior. They Are Surrounded by a wall That blocks off the line of sight from outside. Planting and lays out are ugly At The patio, so thats the picturesque images of green and water are Viewed From The rooms.
        Enclosed by walls create indirect light That softly filling The Entire room, tea house presents scenes sentimental Here and There. The Living Space And The Life Lived There are enveloped by green and light, Creating an affectionate environment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        First Impressions – Google Play App: “Screen Recorder” by Kimcy929 [App Mini-Review]

        This article has been initially posted as Text-Only at this time, to speed up publishing, focusing on a certain issue. I will return to this posting and add more data on Quality and Performance, Screenshots and then eventually Share it on Twitter/Google+/etc… Soon™

        [This past Christmas, my father gave me a neat little tablet to play on – Thanks, Dad! I have been enjoying the heck out of it, learning what it does (cough how to use a tablet cough), what applications it can run (I can write a Blog Post laying down!) and of course, what games I can play on it, heh. I hope to give some Tutorials/Walkthroughs and Reviews on Games and Apps from it sometime… Oh wait, here’s one now! haha]

        The Google Store page for the app, with the ‘Play’ button removed [I felt it was a bit distracting, making people think there might be a ‘video to play’ here at The Blog], replaced with The Blog’s ‘G’ brevity logo version.
        The Google Play logo in the upper-left will be used to denote images that come ‘directly’ from the Google Play website/page for the app for these types of App Reviews/Posts (Unedited other than logos or helpful arrows/etc added).

        Google Play App – Screen Recorder by Kimcy929

        Straight to it: while this app did in fact ‘record the screen’, it could not record the game sounds themselves (‘internal’ gameplay audio), it only recorded microphone sounds (‘external’ audio outside the device). While this is useful for some, especially Vloggers, I was personally looking for a screen recorder for my tablet that recorded gameplay and the audio from the game, for Tutorials, Walkthroughs, etc.**

        Also, an issue arose where ANY video I viewed after installing this app (even videos I had on my device BEFORE installing it) only came up as a black screen, with the message:

        “…Video Is Playing On External Display…”





        Now, I had not enabled any such option, nor did I connect any External Displays…

        I did some research online and found many people running into this issue with various apps and devices (tablets, phones, etc). Looking at the App configuration in the Settings of my tablet for Screen Recorder, I found this app giving itself the ability to ‘draw over other apps’ (which it can do to create on-screen writing, or arrows, which it advertises that it can do on the Google Play Store page for the app).

        This is fine and these features are no doubt useful; however, I could no longer view any videos with the built-in Video Player (“complete action using > Video”) – I literally could no longer view any videos I had on my device, at all. [Even with third-party Media Players, such as VLC Media Player, simply viewing any videos was now ‘broken’…]

        Video playing of the Video portion of Videos on the Video Player that
        plays Videos was like, really broken now

        Even after disabling this option that it gave itself without prior warning (found in Settings > Apps > ScreenRecorder > DrawOverOtherApps), all videos still came up with just a black screen and that message – that is, just Disabling the Setting did not ‘undo’ the inability to no longer watch videos in the Video Player. Disabling this setting, then Uninstalling this app, then Restarting the Tablet, fixed the issue [in my case, the only way it was fixed].

        While this app does record the screen, allows for microphone use, doesn’t seem to affect gameplay performance very much, and seems to have a decent selection of Resolutions and Bitrates (eg. 1280×720, 8000kbps), also having some additional helpful things like drawing arrows on the screen, etc; it does not record ‘built-in’ gameplay audio – which I personally was looking for** – and it gave itself a power which interfered with normal tablet video viewing afterward… Not only that, but it only recorded a few videos before no longer working, with a message just repeatedly showing up stating, “Unfortunately, Screen Recorder has stopped”.

        No changing of Settings (of my tablet or the app itself) was able to remedy this or get past it [the message coming up and no video being recorded]. Reinstalling the app made it work again, but after a few recordings, only that message repeating on the screen was the result, once again. Therefore, considering all of the above [but including the fact that the app must have worked for other people, that is, those not running into this ‘Screen Recorder has stopped’ message problem], this app earned Three Stars at Google Play from me, as of the time of this writing.

        Being ‘completely free’ (No Fee and No Ads), and having a nice selection of ‘standards’ like Resolution and Bitrate choices, and having ‘extras’ like being able to draw on the screen; perhaps with some improvements to bugfixing, enhancements to how it handles itself (asking/warning what would happen before utilizing the “Draw Over Other Apps” ability would be helpful to users that might run into a problem with it) and adding the ability to record internal gameplay audio**, Screen Recorder could potentially be a very capable and ‘feature-rich’ screen recording application.

        3/5 Stars
        ★★★☆☆


        This app (and a shortened version of the above Review by The Blog (to fit on Google Play’s Review area)) can be found on Google Play, at:

        Screen Recorder by Kimcy929
        https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kimcy929.screenrecorder

        [Note: I am not affiliated with Screen Recorder or Kimcy929 in any way, and I have not and will not be compensated by them for writing about them here. I am merely a user of their application and like to help others with helpful information, when I can. The information in this post was obtained on an LG G Pad IV, and therefore might vary slightly from your own experience (Settings, Menus, Performance, Problems, etc) – but I hope that it was still found useful in some way.]

        ** More on this later… I have recently found out that Google has taken away the ability [temporarily?] to record game output AND game audio at the same time (“internal audio”) in the latest Android versions – save for a small number of possibilities on LG and Samsung devices. But, I’ll cover this at a later time, when I find out more solid details…

        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.

        Quick Tip: Team Fortress 2 – What To Do With Those Naughty and Nice Winter Crates (Winter 2013)

        By now, most of you have seen these Random Drops, Crates that are either “Nice” or “Naughty” – but, “How do you open them..”, you may have asked? Well, this post is just a quick note to answer this question I have already started seeing on game forums and Question/Answer websites. Answer: You Can’t Open Them (Yet)…

        Soon hopefully, keys should be available for purchase at the Mann Company Store (Steam/Valve/TF2), most likely for $2.49 USD, if keys and dropped crates combinations of the past are anything to go by [I assume they are dropping them now, to allow people to collect some before the keys go on sale – to sell more keys]. So, if you get these [I have already started getting them when playing, hence the screencaps], just wait a little bit longer, until the keys themselves go on sale. Then, if you want to open them, just purchase keys and unlock them! Soon™… (Remember, you will need one key for each crate)

        See You In The Games!

        My trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh, November & December 2010 & January 2011

        January 2011

        Back again at the Hotel De castle; it looks like I have spent more time here in the past 3 months than at home.

        The original brief was to develop a Sustainability Plan for the organization. However, most managers confuse it with Resource Mobilization / Fund Raising Plans. Typically a Sustainability Plan involves a risk analysis of the organization comprising of Board, Executive Leadership, Resource Audits (Man, Money, Material & Technology / knowledge), HR, ICT, Finance and other support services systems audits plus a host of other environmental issues.

        I cleared up this confusion and came to develop a Resource Mobilization Plan (Only Money); however, the team has not completed the budgets. So have to delay the process by a few days. Meanwhile I witnessed riots in Dhaka due to stock market crash yesterday. Stock price manipulation rings were very active in DSE over the past year and sent the stock prices way up beyond the wildest PE ratios possible for some companies. Just like what’s happening at the CSE in Sri Lanka. Most stocks trade much higher than PE ratio. Is this a prelude to what we can expect in the streets of Colombo I wonder?

        Finally managed to develop the RM Plan for the organization; this is the end of the assignment for me and look forward to going back to Colombo.

        December 2010

        It’s good to be back in Dhaka and at the Hotel De Castle. Guess what its Harthal season again! I was in Bangladesh in 2006 and in 2008 for the then famous Harthal “Save Democracy” which was a success in overthrowing the elected government and appointing a caretaker government. However, during Harthal the general public and the visitors to Bangladesh suffers by having severe restrictions in free movement. I will spend 2 weeks in Dhaka for this assignment with the intention of developing the Vision, Mission, Values and Strategies of the organization.

        It was hard work but managed to develop the Vision, Mission, Values and Strategies for the organization. During this process there was a one day Harthal, but it seems to have been a flop! What’s going on here, have the people finally realized not to go on Hartal for silly things? Well, we will just have to wait and see.

        As part of the assignment I had to help the management team present the Vision, Mission, Values and Strategies to the board and get their comments and final approval. However there is an issue. The issue is that; the roles and responsibilities of governance and the executive branches of the organization are not clearly delineated to ensure efficient operations. In short there is a power struggle between the two. I have to manage this delicate process; otherwise all hell may break loose during the meeting and true to form, the consultant will be the fall guy.

        You can read my article titled “Governance – Do we need to build capacity?” published in http://capacitydevelopment.ning.com/

        The meeting with the board went off without any major hiccups and got the necessary approvals and consent for the next stage of the assignment.

        November 2010

        The assignment I undertook was to develop a new Vision, Mission, Values, Strategies and a corresponding Resource Mobilization plan and support services (Finance HR & IT) plans for Acid Survivors Foundation ASF http://www.acidsurvivors.org/ of Bangladesh. I will be staying at the Hotel De castle in Banani, Dhaka.

        I must say that I was quite shocked at the number of people being attacked in Bangladesh and the physical and psychological damage it does to people. The major cause of attacks was economic (Dowry & Land). Given the poverty levels in Bangladesh I must say that I am not surprised. Having enough resources to go around for 160 + Million people is not a joke.

        The irony is that at the United Nations (Put UN Web Site) review of the Millennium Development Goals (Put MDG review results Web Site) it was concluded that mot poor countries (including Bangladesh) were failing miserably in trying to reach the MGD’s. In my Humble opinion this is because most poor countries are not dealing with the white elephant in the room i.e. population growth. This is obviously considered a sensitive subject given the reluctance of politicians to take on the religious establishments head on be it Islam or the many denominations of Christianity. On the contrary this should be the main subject of discussion by far thinking politicians the world over.

        For instance if Bangladesh were to implement strict policies to have ZERO growth in population for the next 10 years it would develop at a faster rate As even the slightest growth in the nations wealth will be held by a content population. This is common sense.

        Most people misunderstand when we talk about zero population growth. They think that you are suggesting that people stop having children. In fact it does not mean that at all. It just means that your birth rate has to be equated to your death rate.

        In the case of developing countries; the way that externally funded development sector project are implemented creates further frustrations within a given population and at times directly create political and social unrest. Most development sector professional (from the north countries as well as the south countries) don’t even understand this themselves. Consider the following. Most western donors advocate rights based projects. This means that all citizens will demand equal levels of services from the state irrespective of economic, social, political, ethnic or religious status. This in a developing country means that “now” 10,000 people line up for services as opposed to 1,000 people. The issue is that the rights based development project itself does not have any or enough funding to cater for the newly generated demand. The funds are only available to create and sustain the demand by the citizenry. So now the poor government has to serve a larger number of people with the same or slightly increased budget. This only means that in order to cater for the quantity the quality of services will be compromised. This is OK with the rich citizens as they can afford to pay for services by the private sector or bribe the state employees or use influence to get a better service from the state service provider.

        One can argue and say that this is a deliberate attempt by some of the donors to create instability within developing countries. I am not a conspiracy theorist but I wouldn’t put it past some of them. The point is that we who hail from the developing countries must act a lot smarter than we currently do if we want to develop.

        As for me the assignment will run in to the New Year and I will have to go to Bangladesh a few more times to finish the assignment.

        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™ – 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™ !

        Giveaway Winner!

        I had so much fun seeing what everyone posted in the Teacher Toolbox Trio linky. Thanks to everyone who linked up.

        I went to the Random Number Generator this morning, and drumroll…

        I’m excited to announce that Stephanie Ann from Sparkling in Kindergarten was the winner of the $25 Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificate. Congratulations, Stephanie Ann!

        And welcome to all of my new followers! I have lots that I look forward to sharing this summer.

        Have a great weekend!

        And More: Corel’s VideoStudio – Crashing When Using ‘Open With’ To Import Clips Into VideoStudio [Fix/Workaround]

        Just last Month, I picked up version 20 of Corel’s recently-updated video editing suite “VideoStudio” (nomenclature “X10”) and am having a lot of fun learning what it can do and how to do it all (coming from mainly editing videos with Sony’s Vegas ‘Movie Studio’ line of products [now taken over by MAGIX]). However, I quickly ran into a little issue with importing clips using the “Open With” option in Windows and wanted to share what I found…

        Normally, in Windows you can ‘right-click’ a video file and mouse-over the menu option “Open With..”, which brings up a sub-menu of known applications, to ‘send’ the file to (‘opening the file with the chosen application’). Doing this, whichever application you select will startup and the file will be sent to it to work with.

        However, doing this with a video clip and VideoStudio x10 I found, every time the program would open up, it would immediately ‘crash’ (close/stop/etc). Hmm… time for some Troubleshooting! I double-checked that the file in question was not corrupted excessively by playing it, testing it in a couple of video/media players, and even tried a few other clips that were ‘known good’ (that VS worked with before). Each time, using “Open With…”, the Splash Screen for VSx10 would show up and then just as the program itself looked like it was opening, the entire thing would crash and show this message:

        Example of the “Corel VideoStudio has stopped working” Error Window Pop-Up
        when trying to import a clip into VideoStudio X10 utilizing the “Open With” shortcut in Windows

        I then went to the Corel ‘Official’ Fora [Forii?] and did some searching to see if anyone ran into this same issue. Unfortunately, all I could find were people experiencing ‘general crashes’, that is, crashing and non-starts without it being specifically associated with utilizing “Open With..”.

        I then decided to try these same ‘testing files’ on some other video editing programs I have installed, such as Sony’s Vegas Movie Studio (now owned by MAGIX, the same company that makes the Movie Edit Pro product line, which I have no experience with yet, at this time). Using the “Open With..” command, Movie Studio was able to open and import all of the video clips without issue – so then, what’s up Corel? /tilthead

        I thought of trying VideoStudio ‘on it’s own’, not importing or ‘sending’ anything to it – just opening the program and seeing if it works… Everything opened fine! I was just playing with the program the other day in fact, learning some of the features it offers [I’ll have to write a short ‘Review’ or at least a ‘First Impressions’ sometime of it]. So why was it being ‘fussy’ (to use the highly technical term)? I tried opening and closing the program a few times thinking about it, when I noticed that when I opened VideoStudio X10, I was being greeted by a nice-and-helpful “Welcome” StartUp Page…

        The “Welcome” Section of VideoStudio
        (Click to see Full Size)

        Indeed, ‘The “Welcome” Startup Page’ offers a lot of helpful information on opening VideoStudio. There are Tutorial videos on some of the New Features for that version and even Basic Tutorials and Help File links. But wait – no editing interface! No Timeline, no Media Library to add clips – that’s it! That’s the problem! I went into the Settings to see if there was a Preferences option where I could set the Section to open VideoStudio to be – not the “Welcome” section, but the “Edit” section – the tab/area where all of the editing/mixing and importing takes place. There it was: Default Startup Page – and it was set to “Welcome Book”…

        The Corel VideoStudio X10 Preferences Window
        showing the Default Startup Area/Section which is shown when the program starts
        (Click to see Full Size)

        A simple pull-down menu change to “Edit” and that was it! Now, VideoStudio is opening to the “Edit” section/area every time. So, I tested it out: right-clicking on my video clip and mousing-over “Open With..” and then clicking on “Corel VideoStudio” – it worked! VS opened up and in a few seconds more, my little video clip was right there on the Timeline, waiting patiently to be edited. Woohoo!

        Example of Corel VideoStudio x10 Starting Up In The EDIT Section
        (Click to see Full Size)

        Here is a video version of the steps above, made showing the error when trying to use “Open With..”, what happens and how to change it, as well as the final ‘working’ result of changing the option (after I finally figured out what it was):


        [VIDEO NOT YET COMPLETE, IT WILL APPEAR HERE ONCE FINALIZED AND UPLOADED TO YOUTUBE]

        Hopefully this will help any of you dear readers, who use VideoStudio and were running into this error/crash/issue when opening clips with VS (trying to use “Open With..”).. Enjoy and Have Fun editing your gameplay clips once again!

        ~Troy from The Game Tips And More Blog


        [I’m calling this a Workaround, since this is more of that than a true ‘Fix’… It does not solve the base issue of VS not being able to import a clip using “Open With” without taking taking these steps (whether this is more Microsoft’s fault or Corel’s fault is beyond the scope of this post …and being more experienced in computer hardware than computer software (programming, etc), I would not have completely isolated the very base cause of the issue anyway – or at least, could not offer a 100% explanation of what is occurring)]


        Note: I am not affiliated in any way with Corel and I have not, and I will not, be compensated for mentioning VideoStudio or any other of the products herein, in any way.  I have used other video editing products than these in the past, and will do so in the future, including free editing applications, such as VirtualDub, AviDemux, DVDVideoSoft products and more… I am merely an enthusiastic gamer-and-sometime-editor and wanted to share information that I discover about these products to help other gamers record-and-edit and have fun doing it, if I can do so.

        NETHERLANDS CALM OUTDOOR DINING ROOM IDEAS

        NETHERLANDS CALM OUTDOOR DINING ROOM IDEAS

        Good ideas that we can see these concrete houses the Netherlands have been totally inspired and inspiring call to us to try. Most of the ideas that we can see the space was not available outside of this house. concrete material, which come from the use of brick and stone was looking for a huge ornate and extraordinary. We can try to come to our ideas to make this house looking for a pleasant as well as ourselves and our families.

        The concept of an interior provides ample room to combine the ideas. Integration space that stands between the living room, dining room and kitchen area is desirable for those who like social live and love to watch their children. These applications are rustic room in search of other great ideas that make us who see this house completely. The decorations of great gold bathroom also feel comfortable. Honestly, the more attractive space in this house was the place of these decorations ideas outdoor dining. Designed by Arjen Reas

        NETHERLANDS CALM OUTDOOR DINING ROOM IDEAS
        NETHERLANDS CALM OUTDOOR DINING ROOM IDEAS
        NETHERLANDS CALM OUTDOOR DINING ROOM IDEAS
        NETHERLANDS CALM OUTDOOR DINING ROOM IDEAS

        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.

        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

        Taking pills and supplements

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

        Over-the-counter (OTC) diet pills

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

        Diet Start

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

        Supplements

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

        Key supplements

        Magnesium

        A fundamentally important mineral that counters insulin resistance.

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

        Quercetin

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

        Omega-3 fats

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

        Chromium

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

        Lcarnitine

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

        DIETARY MYTH

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

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

        WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Daily News

        WORKOUT ANYTIME in the Daily News

        Dale Chaffin of WORKOUT ANYTIME Bowling Green was recently featured in the Daily News. Dale was interviewed for the story and a photographer was assigned to take his photo for a story about the WORKOUT ANYTIME location in Bowling Green where he is the GM and how he has lost 80 pounds since 2012 with help of personal trainer Chris Talley. The story focused on how working at a gym has helped Dale with his fitness goals. 
        View the full article here. 

        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. 

        PIONEER STUDIOS OFFICE MICROSOFT BY SKB ARCHITECTS

        The New Pioneer Studios Office which was designed by SkB Architects starting from the idea that need a space to socialize at night as well as it functioned during the day.

        Pioneer Studios Office - MicrosoftPioneer Studios Office – Microsoft

        Pioneer Studios Office - MicrosoftPioneer Studios Office – Microsoft

        Pioneer Studios Office - MicrosoftPioneer Studios Office – Microsoft

        Pioneer Studios Office - MicrosoftPioneer Studios Office – Microsoft

        Pioneer Studios Office - MicrosoftPioneer Studios Office – Microsoft

        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

        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

        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.

        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…

        INSPIRING DESIGN DETAILS LOOKOUT HOUSE

        Inspiring Design Details

        Inspiring Design Details

        The project is located atop a hill in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and has stunning views of distant Long Island. Depending on the shape of the original designers of the pyramid house, centered on the height of an open plan double lounge around an indoor pool, has been simplified and facilitated through a range of modern materials (including bamboo, stone blue tiles and glass) and a new lighting program. A glass bridge “architecture synapse“, which clearly distinguishes old from new connects the main house for the master suite.

        As the original structure, the new suite contains a large volume a little, in this case, a cube on foot, finished Claro walnut that divides the rest areas and bathrooms. billiard room “in the first photo is the most spectacular part of the house, offering an ideal place for socializing and relaxation. And as you can below, a resident has another pot, this time integrated nature

        Inspiring Design Details Rest Room

        Inspiring Design Details Rest Room

        Inspiring Design Details Dining Room

        Inspiring Design Details Dining Room

        Inspiring Design Details Kitchen

        Inspiring Design Details Kitchen

        Inspiring Design Details Bedroom

        Inspiring Design Details Bedroom

        Original Mexican Mazel Mex

        • 2.5 cups cold water
        • 1.25 cups cornmeal
        • Generous dash cayenne pepper and/or cinnamon
        • 2-3 Tbs. corn oil
        • 3 onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
        • 8 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
        • 1-2 fresh green or jalepeno chilis, peeled and coarsely chopped
        • 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
        • Diet Start
        • 1 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped and torn into leaves
        • 1 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped

        Combine water, cornmeal, and cayenne. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat for 5-8 minutes. Pat evenly onto bottom of 8″ x 12″ casserole.

        Sauté onions in corn oil until translucent and fairly soft (10‑15 minutes). Add tomatoes, chilis, and garlic, and cook 2-3 minutes. Pour mixture over cornmeal base and bake in 350° oven for 20-25 minutes. To serve, sprinkle with cilantro and parsley.

        YIELD: 2 servings.

        Although taste is bitter if tomatoes are unpeeled, the peels are an important aid to digestion.

        Hazel Enchiladas

        • 6-8 corn tortillas
        • 0.25 cup corn oil
        • 2 recipes Mazel Cheese Mexican
        • 1 recipe cooked Salsa Mazel
        • 1 recipe fresh Salsa Mazel

        Dip corn tortillas in hot corn oil, then into cooked salsa. Fill with Mazel Cheese Mexican, and roll into enchiladas. Cover with cooked salsa. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Serve with fresh salsa.

        VARIATION 1 Add I bunch fresh spinach, cooked and chopped, to Mazel Cheese Mexican.

        VARIATION 2 Add 1 tablespoon fresh mixed chives and parsley to Mazel Cheese Mexican.

        VARIATION 3 Use 1 recipe Mazel Cheese and 11/2-2 cups sour cream rather than 2 recipes Mazel Cheese.

        YIELD: 2 servings.

        Depending on size of tortillas and how you fill them, you may wind up with a bit of extra filling. If so, add it to the casserole or reserve it for another use. But better too much than too little.

        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!

        Paperless Mission #12: Collecting Student Work

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

        Mission #12: Collecting Student Work

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

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

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

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

        Photos & Movies

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Apprentice Guides

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

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

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

        DYNAMIC DESIGN HOME CINEMA

        DYNAMIC DESIGN HOME CINEMA

        For furniture, I love the few pieces I have and does not change, but as a blogger we discover daily news, it’s hard not to crack …

        Above the living-dining room where Jo Yana chose to paint the main wall in pink – small nod to her favorite designer Karim Rashid … You’ll also notice the suspension ATOMIUM in Kundalini the most beautiful effect!

        This room also houses the home theater installation conducted by Dynamic Home Cinema. In front of these gorgeous wooden drops are pregnant Y21.2 Audio Linear …

        At the entrance, a picture of Miles Aldridge sets the tone of the apartment, and FIDELIO Philips broadcasts Playlist place … On the side of the dining room, chairs LOUIS GHOST EROS and greet guests.

        The main hall lit by the luminaire BLOB M Karim Rashid …

        The cuisine is inspired by Parisian apartment signed Périchon we mention above, because the walls and ceiling were painted in gray have to emphasize the white lacquered furniture. Yellow light under the bar and a nice bin Brabantia bring the strand of color …

        We love the headboard PARROT signed by photographer Solve Sundsbo …

        The workspace of blogger … A reading area with ottoman LEBLON DELIENNE-QUAD and library. An office signed K-DESIGN, and the now famous chair VERTEX signed Karim Rashid.

        DYNAMIC DESIGN HOME CINEMA

        DYNAMIC DESIGN HOME CINEMA

        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.
         

        HOW TO DECORATE A KITCHEN MINIMALIST

        A café is a place where people meet, talk and relax. The ambience of a café is loved by many people and that is why many of them visit one daily after work so that they can talk and share things with their friends and relax after the long day. One can decorate their kitchen with a café theme so that they have a coffee shop at home, or they feel the same. Creating the same theme as that of a coffee shop is a brilliant idea to add a different touch to the kitchen and make it nice and cozy also.

        Minimalist Decorate a KitchenMinimalist Decorate a Kitchen

        Decorating the kitchen with a café theme is not at all difficult or expensive as many would think it to be. People have two options when they want to incorporate a café theme; they can either completely change everything in the kitchen or they can use what is there, and use it and still create the theme. The things that one can use along with the colors and the final touches, is what matters the most.

        A basic thing that one can add to the kitchen which will be useful also and will also help to create the café theme is to use a table with four chairs in the space. The chairs should be comfortable and for this one can add cushions to it. The table should not be crowded with too many things and under table you can opt for a modern carpet or rug.There are several types of these rugs you can get including wool area rugs, contemporary rugs and even discount area rugs that you can find online.The other thing that one can do easily is to paint the walls of a different color. The color should be bright and be chosen keeping in mind the natural light that comes in the kitchen.

        Near the table that one keeps in the kitchen, one can place a book shelf and place some nice coffee table books or books of art and poetry. Another thing that can be done to create the café theme is that one should only be able to see things related to a coffee shop in the kitchen. The table should only have sugar and coffee beans etc, the counters should only have the appliances that are used in a coffee shop like the blender or the coffee maker. It is not that the kitchen cannot have other useful appliances; all that one needs to take care of is that these should be kept in the cupboards and should not be seen as this can ruin the café theme that one wants to create.

        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 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!

        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. 

        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. 

        Now on Instagram!

        I’ve joined in the Instagram love! You can now find me at Eberopolis on Instagram.


        I started using it on Wednesday, so I’m still new, but I’m making it a goal to post something (usually) classroom-related every day. Be sure to follow me so I can find all of my teacher-friends who are already there!

        Have a great weekend!

        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!

        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!

        MODERN SWEDISH BEDROOM DESIGNS GO SROP

        Although they are all unique, and I noticed that some of the same elements that deserve to be underlined. First of all, all the bedrooms the images below, with large windows, which are usually thin stylish blinds or curtains. On both sides of a king-size bed is a traditional bedside tables, shelves or chairs for the original. The walls are painted mostly white, but here and there, you will find an interesting color interference: some of the rooms are nice backgrounds to illuminate the room. Details of lighting are particularly interesting to observe. Please take a look at this beautiful gallery bedroom and tell us what information you will find interesting.

        modern swedish bedroom designs

        MODERN SWEDISH BEDROOM DESIGNS

        modern swedish bedroom designs

        MODERN SWEDISH BEDROOM DESIGNS

        modern swedish bedroom designs

        MODERN SWEDISH BEDROOM DESIGNS

        modern swedish bedroom designs

        MODERN SWEDISH BEDROOM DESIGNS

        modern swedish bedroom designs

        MODERN SWEDISH BEDROOM DESIGNS

        Solving the Weight Loss Puzzle Part 1

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

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

        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)

        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.]

        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.

        Wauconda WORKOUT ANYTIME Opening Doors Soon

        Wauconda WORKOUT ANYTIME Opening Doors Soon

        The new Wauconda WORKOUT ANYTIME, owned by Jeff Cercy will be opening their doors by the end of the week. The club, located on Liberty Street in the Jewell Osco shopping center, will be celebrating their grand opening on March 22nd. The equipment is all in place and the final touches on flooring and painting has all been completed.

        The public is welcome to come out and see the new club. Those interested in joining can call 847-526-4088 or register on the club’s website: http://workoutanytime.com/locations/wauconda.

        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!

        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.

        INCREDIBLE HOME DESIGN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

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

        INCREDIBLE LIVING ROOM DESIGN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

        INCREDIBLE LIVING ROOM DESIGN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

        INCREDIBLE DESIGN DINING ROOM WITH NATURAL LIGHT

        INCREDIBLE DESIGN DINING ROOM WITH NATURAL LIGHT

        INCREDIBLE DESIGN KITCHEN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

        INCREDIBLE DESIGN KITCHEN WITH NATURAL LIGHT

        INCREDIBLE DESIGN BEDROOM WITH NATURAL LIGHT

        INCREDIBLE DESIGN BEDROOM WITH NATURAL LIGHT

        INCREDIBLE DESIGN SKETCH WITH NATURAL LIGHT

        INCREDIBLE DESIGN SKETCH WITH NATURAL LIGHT

        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!

        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.

        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!

        Franchisee Profile: Marc Flame

        Franchisee Profile: Marc Flame

        Marc Flame is originally from the Bronx in New York, specifically Riverdale. Growing up, Marc spent every summer on Long Island at his grandmother’s beach house and loves the outdoors. After graduating from JFK Highschool, Marc’s parents moved to South America where Marc learned to speak basic Portuguese. After living in Brazil for a while, Marc moved back to New York where he attended New York University. He graduated in 1981 with a degree in Economics and International Business. Upon graduation, Marc spent much of his time on Wall Street starting his career Bankers Trust Company. Marc eventually became Chief Financial Officer at the banks Technology subsidiary. During Marcs’ tenure he established a successful record of improving operational efficiency and profitability. After fourteen years at BTCo, Marc left and joined Citigroup. Marc spent ten years within the Finance Organization of Citigroup. He then joined the CBS Corporation where he served as CFO of the CBS Technology organization.

        After doing some traveling, Marc decided to relocate from Chicago to Atlanta where he began researching franchises to invest in. After much research Marc decided that Workout Anytime was where he wanted to be. Not even three weeks after watching the Workout Anytime franchise video, Marc signed for his first franchise. He now owns the first Workout Anytime located on the South side of Atlanta.
        How did you learn about the brand? 
        I was researching different franchises and was heavily focused on the fast-food industry when I came across Workout Anytime. I watched the franchise video and was immediately hooked. I knew right then that was what I wanted to invest in. Not even three weeks after seeing the video I met with Randy the entire senior WOAT team. It felt like a family and I signed with Workout Anytime after that meeting.
        Why did you choose an opportunity with Workout Anytime? 
        I’ve always wanted to own my own business. I worked at a Baskin Robbins in high school and it was some of the best times I’ve ever had. I have always enjoyed doing my own thing which is why I started looking into franchises. I chose Workout Anytime because I am very interested in the Workout Anytime model and I really wanted to do a franchise in a market that really needed it. 
        Do you have any development/extension plans? Add units? Timeframe? 
        I would like to eventually expand. I do not have a multi-unit sign at the moment, but the goal is to have 3-4 locations within 4-5 years. I am trying to open one every year and a half. Currently, I am working to be the most successful location rather than building out more units. When you talk about franchises people have glass ceiling expectations with what you can achieve with any one location. The Workout Anytime model allows me to push the boundaries, and ensure the opportunity for many members to enjoy all the advantages provided to Workout Anytime members.
        Are you involved in any charities or involved in the community in any way? 
        I am learning more about the Riverdale area each day and would love to work with charities and get involved with the community once I get to know it better.
        Do you have any other interesting hobbies or passions?
        I love spending time outdoors. Anything outdoors such as going to the horse stables with my daughter, 
        watch my son dirt bike on the trails, and go to the beach as often as possible.

        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!

        HOW TO DECORATE WITH NO MONEY

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

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

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

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

        Paperless Mission #9: Setting Up Your Class with Evernote

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

        Mission #9: Set Up Your Class with Evernote

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

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

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

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

        Step #1: Register for new Evernote accounts.

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

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

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

        Step #2: Build Notebooks for the Subject Areas

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

        Why Student Evernote Notebooks Rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

        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!

        Spending Your Money Wisely with Quality Food

        Wherever possible, it is best to grow your own food. This is a help with the family budget. But many excellent articles of food may not grow well in your particular locality. They must be brought from a distance and exchanged for cash. If you are on a limited budget, how can you spend your money for the greatest value in food? This is a very practical question.

        Foods which are manufactured and refined usually cost much more than those in the natural state. At the same time there is danger that some of the minerals and vitamins have been lost in the manufacturing process. In such a case you lose out in two ways, first, by paying much more for the product, and second, by the loss of essential elements from the food. This is not a wise way to spend a large portion of your money. Do not be carried away by all the glowing advertising material on the package or container.

        Take the question of breakfast cereals so widely advertised today, particularly those flakes that have been coated with sugar. Such breakfast food is scarcely worthy of a place on your table and in your family budget. Dry cereals in any form offer less nourishment than do the raw materials from which they are made. Much of real value is lost in the manufacturing process. And when a sugar frosting is added, the effect on young children is far from good. That sugar coating is the worst feature of all. This excess sugar increases the possibility of dental decay and often results in chronic indigestion as well.

        Diet Start

        Cereals and similar products that are cooked at home are much less expensive than those that are already prepared. The same is true of breads baked at home. They, too, are more nutritious. It does take time to prepare such food. But in the end this saves money, and the whole family will be healthier and more satisfied.

        People in well-to-do households may not have much trouble in selecting an adequate diet, provided they take the time to do so. Unfortunately, most of them do not bother. They just eat what comes their way or what is advertised over radio or television. This haphazard way of living is likely to result in serious deficiencies.

        The family with limited means must be even more alert to the problem of selecting a diet that is suitable, but not too expensive. They must not allow themselves to be swept away by the flood of advertising so prevalent today. They must buy wisely and well.

        Those who live in the country may find the situation a little easier. A small garden, with a few hens and a cow, may enable such a family to live far better than one whose means are not limited. Everything depends on the choice that is made.

        Actually you can feed your family better than you think you can. But it does take a little planning. However, people who live on a well-balanced diet are naturally happier and healthier. Such a diet need not be an expensive one. In fact, there are many experiments in rats and other animals showing that a less liberal diet tends to promote a longer life. Many modern nutritionists believe that we live on only about half of what we eat. The rest only compels our hearts and other organs to work that much harder to get rid of the extra food.

        Experiments at Cornell University seem to bear this out. A certain number of white rats were used. Some were allowed to eat all they wanted whenever they felt like it. Others were placed on special diets when they were in a rat’s “middle age.” Those rats which ate as they pleased lived 600 days or less. Those on the diet in middle age lived over 1,000 days. The oldest rat lived 1,400 days, and he never had a square meal in his life! It is not the quantity of the food, but the quality, that counts.

        Planning Better Meals

        Some people become confused over such scientific terms as calories, vitamins, minerals, and so forth. This is quite understandable. But don’t let this scare you too much. Today you can balance your diet fairly well without knowing very much about these various terms. Without going into too much detail, you can reach a good middle-of-the-road plan that is almost foolproof.

        During recent years nutritionists have worked out what is known as the “basic seven” food groups. If these foods are included in the diet each day, they will meet the needs of the whole family very well. One does not have to bother with all the endless details of a complicated diet. Just follow this basic plan.

        These seven food groups are easily recognized. They should become the foundation of each day’s meals. Some foods from each should be in one meal, others in another. But these essential things should always find a place at some time in the day. Other things may be added as desired. But it is best not to get too far away from this simple daily program. If any of these basic groups are missing in your daily planning, your diet is likely to be deficient in some things that are vitally important to good health.

        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)

        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

        My Trip to Manila, Philippines

        The assignment in the Philippines is to review a Strategic Plan which has been developed with the assistance of another consultant. On first glance of the plan it was not constructed in a logical way. The SWOT analysis was not used to look at strategic options. The whole plan is just a list of SWOT elements and clubbing of current activities in to 12 areas of work and finally selecting 6 areas which they call strategies and allocating opportunities and threats that are relevant to these selected 6 areas. They have not used the strengths and weaknesses.

        The previous consultant does not seem to have a grasp of the logic in strategic planning; the need to start with the external factors that influence the organization and then move inside the organization.

        The staff of the organization also seems to be very new to planning let alone strategic planning and have an aversion towards prioritizing and selection. As usual they seem to want to do everything. So all in all the previous plan does not have a logical flow as well as the choices the organization has made in order to mobilize resources and achieve the mission.

        My task of reviewing the strategic plan was made a lot more difficult as there were representatives from a funding organization who along with the staff thought they knew everything and in reality they “did not know what they did not know”. I some times wonder why they hired an expert if they think they know everything.

        They are more interested in retrofitting “logic” in to the current plan! Go figure! In effect they want to create a strategic plan breaking all the rules. I had a tough time to pull them into the right path. It seems that the organization/staff are not willing to change their current operating mode of adhocracy to a more strategic, structured logical way. So I explained that until the willingness to change is there the strategic plan will continue to be just a piece of paper.

        Now I have to do the documentation. Hope to finish it as soon as possible. Looking forward to returning to Colombo; Manila is too noisy for me and for some strange reason I do not seem to like Manila. Well I have finally found a city that I do not like.

        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.

        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 “Basic Seven” Foods

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

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

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

        Diet Start

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        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. 

        My trip to Vietnam Cont….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        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.”

        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!

        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!

        HOME DESIGN FULL OF COLOR AND INSPIRING

        It was probably what the designers had in mind when you fill this place with colorful decoration items such as floor cushions, rugs and rustic small packages. Because the white background, these elements stand out and create a pleasant visual contrast. The living room, dining room and kitchen are connected not only physically, but also intelligent design. We love the way the house seems to be decorated according to a fun pattern, which consists of color and youth.

        Home Design Full of Color and Inspiring

        Home Design Full of Color and Inspiring

        Home Living Room Design Full of Color and Inspiring

        Home Living Room Design Full of Color and Inspiring

        Home Kitchen Design Full of Color and Inspiring

        Home Kitchen Design Full of Color and Inspiring

        Home Bedroom Design Full of Color and Inspiring

        Home Bedroom Design Full of Color and Inspiring

        Home Bathroom Design Full of Color and Inspiring

        Home Bathroom Design Full of Color and Inspiring

        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…

        ‘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 a