I Ain’t Scared of Nukes

I remember playing this one campaign level in Empire Earth where I was given the control of four nuclear missile bases. Oh man, I was hyped. Any enemy unit or building that wasn’t covered up by the fog of war was vulnerable to my nuclear attacks. My attack gunships soon spotted an enemy tank factory. I clicked on one of my nuke missle bases, went over to the tank factory and right-clicked. Pshoo, the nuke went up in the air. Just to see what it would do, I left my screen on the tank factory. A minute later, the missile came crashing down. Boom! A mushroom cloud enveloped the area. I was so excited. And then the dust cleared. The tank factory was still there, just 15,000 hit points weaker.

I know it’s a video game and so it really wouldn’t be fun if nukes were overly powerful but I do get a bit upset when I see that no game ever explains the actual consequences of a nuclear blast. I will forgive rts games but this recent trend of showing nuclear blasts in fps games really has me a bit perturbed. So many games treat nuclear weapons just as a powerful weapon that can kill a lot of people. That’s the shallow portrayal of nukes in modern games and there’s only one franchise I’ve played where nukes are treated seriously and gravely (metal gear series).

The other games, nukes happen and that’s it. There’s a nuclear explosion in Crysis, as well as in Call of Duty 4, World in Conflict, Splinter Cell Double Agent (the second ending)… None of these games actually treat these explosions more than just a typical explosion. They show these scenes that are semi-dramatic and try to show a bit of the impact (e.g. the scene in COD4 where the guy tries to crawl out of the damaged helicopter) but when’s all said and done, it’s time for the next mission and we can’t ever be sure if there really was a nuclear explosion. It’s dismissed and forgotten.

What upsets me is the fact that a nuke in real life is not something to be taken so lightly. The atomic bomb, which is 1/100 of what a nuke would do now, still affects the lives of the people in Hiroshima and Negasaki. People are still being born with multiple arms and mutations resulting from radiation due to the nuclear blast. There are people who’ve gone blind and developed cancer in the U.S. from having watched the nuclear explosion tests miles and miles away even though these tests were made 50,000 feet above ground. Here’s a simple fact: a normal nuclear bomb today can level 50 square miles and radiate 300 square miles. This means that the largest city in the U.S. (Los Angeles) could be decimated by one single nuclear bomb. United States currently has about 27,000 of these horrible bombs.

Of course, most of these games feature thermo-nuclear bombs, which do about 25 square miles radius of blast damage with low to no radiation but they have never actually been tested so we have no idea if they cause no radiation or not. Even these “conventional” nuclear missiles aren’t something to overlook. Trust me, should one of these be used, it’s not something that’ll be overlooked like it happens in these video games. Nukes should scare the crap out of every one of us.

The thing that makes me upset is the fact that the younger generation of gamers are affected by how nukes are portrayed in video games, in movies, and in novels. I remember one of my friends saying, “Just nuke the Middle East, that’ll solve the problem.” I was shocked. And I heard these kinds of statements from some of the kids I have tutored in the past as well. I don’t know what the general perception of a nuclear missile is, but I sure as well hope that the perception is not based off of the portrayals seen in the likes of video games. Nukes are horrible, terrifying, world-destroying weapons. We’re only lucky that the global policy of detente worked so well during the Cold War. Otherwise, there are enough nukes existing today to destroy the world several times over.

Diner Dash: Hometown Hero: Tips and Tricks

Diner Dash Tips & Tricks

Diner Dash is an addictive time-management game. There are several versions of it, the fourth of which is Diner Dash Hometown Hero.
The Hometown Hero provides 50 levels of fun, challenging game play.

In Diner Dash, you must seat customers take their orders, and serve them as quickly as possible. To download a free trial of the game, check out the safe download at Big Fish Games.

Tips and Tricks for Hometown Hero: Chaining for Extra Points

There are several ways to win each level. There are several different ways to gain extra points, so you must decide between them.

You get extra points in Diner Dash by seating people in chairs that match the color of their outfit. You also gain extra points by “chaining,” which is performing the same action several times in a row.

To take advantage of chaining, try to wait until several customers are in line and then seat them all at once. Try to take their orders all in a row, as this will win you lots of extra points.

You should serve their food all in a row too. Try to take their checks in a long chain, and then clean up the tables in a chain. Usually it is okay to leave some people waiting in line while you let the first round of diners finish up.

Tips and Tricks for Hometown Hero: Using the Podium

Since you are making people wait in line while you finish up with each round of diners, before you seat the people waiting in line, use the podium to increase their happiness.

Using the podium in Diner Dash will also win you some extra points, so take advantage of it.

Sometimes you can use the podium before cleaning up from the last diners. Then, clean up and place flowers on the table if they are available, and use the podium again before seating the new customers.

Tips and Tricks for Hometown Hero: Characters

In Diner Dash Hometown Hero there are several different types of characters. Some of them make noise, such as families with babies and teenagers.

Others are especially intolerant of noise, such as celebrities, bookworms, and critics.

Try to keep the noisy groups away from those who are especially bothered by noise. If they get too irritated, they will leave the restaurant without paying, and you will lose points.

Celebrities tip well, but are very impatient. They will increase the patience of everyone else in the restaurant, but you will lose a lot of points if the celebrities leave. Give them priority service, make sure they are happy.

Good luck, and have fun playing Diner Dash!

Top Kids Nintendo Wii Games of This Holiday Season

Top Nintendo Wii Games for Kids

If you’re looking to buy a Nintendo Wii video game this holiday season that his kid friendly then you’ve come to the right place. It seems more and more that the videogame industry has moved towards violent games full of profanity and provocative behavior. This holiday season however Nintendo Wii is offering a slew of high quality, and hugely fun, and completely kids safe video games. If you have a young child, or are shopping for one, be sure to check out one of the titles listed below.
NintendoMario Kart for Wii

This is been a favorite kids game since the Nintendo 64 was popular. This version does not disappoint, with the inclusion of a Wii Wheel it allows you to turn your controller into a steering wheel to take this classic to a whole new level. If you have to buy just one kids Nintendo Wii game this holiday season, this is the one for you. What more can really be said about this title, it is Mario Kart!

Super Mario Galaxy on Wii

This is a new spin on the classic super Mario world. It takes place in space shooting around from planet to planet on Mario’s epic, and now extremely long, to save his Princess Peach from the evil Bowser. If the kid you are shopping for likes any of the older Super Mario games, for any platform, then this is sure to go over as a great holiday gift. No more and really needs to be said about this one, great fun, classic super Mario Brothers game play and great for all ages.

Lego Star Wars for Wii

If the kid you’d shopping for is a little bit older than this may be the game for him or her. Rated “E-10” for kids 10 and older due to some very mild violence. This is, however, one of the cleanest violent games I’ve ever seen. If the child you are shopping for is over 10 then this may be just the perfect choice as the mild violence is truly mild and it provides a slightly more advanced game play aspect that some of the others do not offer.

These are the top three kid friendly Nintendo Wii games of this holiday season. If you are shopping for a Nintendo Wii game for a kid this holiday season then be sure to check into the above titles. Not only are they sure to be appropriate for all ages but they are actually quite fun for even the older kids in the bunch.

PC Game Review – Borderlands

Borderlands review

Heralded as the next step in the evolution of the Role Playing Shooter, Borderlands was one of the most hotly anticipated games of 2009. Developers 2K Games (creators of such golden gaming nuggets as the Civilization series, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Bioshock) have struck gold once more! But what is it that makes Borderlands so great? Well it’s all, as they say, in the details.
The plot is a simple classic; a group of young treasure-hunters come to a desert planet named Pandora in search of something called ‘The Vault’, an ancient stockpile of alien technology. Unfortunately, the planet turns out not to be so deserted as you’d have thought with all manner of nasty beasties crawling around just waiting to snack upon any hapless adventurers that come their way. And if a violent wildlife wasn’t enough, raiders and bandits are never far away and more than happy to blow your measly brains out for a quick buck. There are 4 classes to choose from at the start of the game, with different specializations. Mordecai, the Hunter, is basically a Sniper and provides his Bloodwing bird pet, who can take out enemies for you. Lilith, the Siren, is a variation of a Scout who specializes in elemental damage and can Phasewalk, moving at high speed and doing AoE damage. Roland, the Soldier, provides a deployable turret for fire support and healing, and Brick, the Heavy, who specializes in heavy weapons and provides his fists.

By now most of you will have seen the trailers on TV or Youtube. They make some bold claims, not least of which that the game contains ’87 Bazillion guns’. And while that was obviously a massive overstatement, their sentiment wasn’t at all wrong. There’s several different types of gun; repeating pistols, revolvers, smgs, assault rifles, heavy machine guns, sniper rifles, shotguns, rocket launchers and ‘alien’ guns. Depending on which of the classes you picked at the start you’ll likely specialize in one or two of these types, but it is possible to become adept in all of them with time. What guns you use will also be highly dependent on your talent specialization, a system very similar to that deployed in World of Warcraft in which every time you level up you gain a skill point you can put into a talent tree and gain certain bonuses. For example, Mordecai’s talents allow him to specialize in either sniping, gunslinging with a revolver or repeating pistol, or going ‘rogue’ and focusing on the training of his Bloodwing.

The game is designed with multiplayer in mind, but I’ve played both 1 player and 4 player and the game scales the difficulty quite nicely such that it works well in both. The funky cell-shaded graphics work surprisingly well, and the MMORPG-style quest system somehow manages to keep all the originality while cutting out a significant portion of the annoying grind that accompanies most MMORPGS. All in all, the game does exactly what it says on the tin. The Rpg aspects are sufficiently subtle as not to get in the way of the Fps aspects but at the same time there in enough force to make a significant difference if you aren’t paying attention to it. I’d call it the smart person’s shooter. If all you want to do is shoot people, go pick up Modern Warfare 2. But if you want an entertaining experience that will almost undoubtedly be very different each time you play it, Borderlands is exactly the game for you. You can pick up borderlands on Steam for a very cheap price.

Wizard 101: A Fun, MMORPG for Children and Adults

My grandson sat on my lap years ago when we played Star Wars Galaxies, Dark age of Camelot and Horizons. Of course, he wasn’t very old before he thought he could play massively-multi player role playing games (MMORPG) online. He has played Disney’s Toontown, an MMORPG specifically designed for children. Now he’s really reading and has learned to use Google to find free MMORPGs he can play. Most of them are exactly what you expect for free online games although he has found a few gems. Most of those are single player flash games. The best of his finds is another MMORPG, Wizard 101.
Released in September 2008, Wizard 101 is surprisingly advanced for a child-friendly game. My partner, my grandson and I play together almost daily and have a good time doing so. There are safety checks in the interface to protect children from negative influence. Children under 13 are not allowed to participate in or read open chat. They can use drop down chat menus that cover almost all needs. Even those who are old enough to chat are restricted to words the chat interface recognizes. I didn’t need any unuseable words but found some that don’t go through like misspellings, email addresses, phone numbers, even age cannot be communicated.

Merle Ambrose, headmaster of the wizard university, has pulled your character through to his world. You have the potential to be a great wizard and combat the evil wizard, Malistaire. As you play, you help many residents of the various “worlds” you’ll visit in your pursuit of Malistaire and other evil characters. You will visit Wolfminster Abbey or Sherlock Bones might send you to Scotland Yard.

The quests are, much like all MMOs, variations on “go fetch something” or “go defeat something.” The Wizard 101 quest writers made them interesting enough that Kiddo is reading whole quest texts, no small feat for a 6 year old child. Those same quests often cause the adults to laugh, sometimes puzzling Kiddo. What’s so funny about ‘Saving Private O’Ryan,'” he asks. Or “Fairies Wear Boots?” Most quests are soloable although there are a few raid instances.

There are lots of items from slippers to hats, rings to athames (daggers) for every wizard to obtain as quest rewards or drops from enemies. The wizards train spells as they grow up and can buy one-shot spell cards for tougher combats. Some “bosses” drop very special items including rare pets. Of course, you can buy your own pet, too. From tiny dragons to ice snakes to ghosts and ninja pigs, pets are everywhere in Wizard 101.

The graphics are nice and bright, and cartoony. Animations and spell effects are remarkably well done. The game runs nicely on low end PCs. There is enough free content to achieve level 10 or so of the 50 available. After that the game costs, although relatively cheap for an MMORPG. Access passes to advanced zones cost $1-3 which is fine for a very casual player. Subscriptions are relatively cheap for those who play often; $9.95/month for one person or the family plan at $6.95 per family member.

Overall, my family has found Wizard 101 to be the most fun of the family or child oriented MMORPGs. It’s very intuitive but more sophisticated than I thought it would be when Kiddo first showed it to me. I give it a 4 ½ stars out of 5 possible for family fun playing a computer game together.

Wizard 101 Web site: http://www.wizard101.com

Game Review: Fizzball

The Game

Everyone on the island has left. Nothing is around except animals and buildings. Your job as Professor Fizzlewizzle is to save all the animals in your Fizzle machine and figure out why everyone left.
Computer Requirements
Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
400MHz or faster Processor

Thoughts On The Game

If you love block out, then your going to love this game. I love block out but this is not as easy.
Every time your bubble picks something up it gets bigger and bigger until all the animals are rescued. You start out with small stuff like chicken eggs and work on picking up things like sea lions, horses and bears. You also have to make sure that you don’t hit canisters of biotoxins. They’re nasty.

There are elemental controls on this game. Lightening surges can really mess your game up if your not expecting it. When thunder and lighening strikes your machine leaves the tack and you have no control for a few seconds.

If you can looks past the graphics, you’ll have an interesting game to pass the time.

This is not a graphic intense game. As you can tell by the picture that the game is a little cartoonish. Something you would see on Saturday Morning television.

Is Snapchat hacking actually possible?

Snapchat Hack

Recently one of my friends told me about a so called “Snapchat Hack” he found on the internet. He asked me whether such a thing would actually be possible. He didn’t want to try it himself because he did not want to risk losing his Snapchat account. When I first saw the site, my first thought that it was obviously not real. After all, it can’t be that easy to hack into a Snapchat account, can it? However, because my friend asked, and I didn’t want to dismiss his question that easily I decided to do some research on the topic and actually testing out the website to see if their claims held up.

Snapchat has been hacked in the past… several times

You might already know this, but I for sure did not. Snapchat was already hacked several times in the past. The most notable was in late 2013 when millions of leaked Snapchat Photos surfaced on the internet. This Snapchat hack was quickly dubbed “The Snappening” by the media and spread around the internet like wildfire. Now that I had proof that Snapchat had been hacked several times in the past, I was a little less skeptical about the site my friend showed me. After all, if millions of Snapchat accounts had already been hacked in the past, and it happened quite recently, then the site might actually be real. If you’re curious about the “Snappening” that happened in 2013 you can watch this video, it offers excellent insight on what happened.

Testing the hack

However, just because Snapchat had been hacked in the past does not mean that the site my friend showed me was legit. Therefore, I decided to test the hack out on my own account. I don’t use Snapchat that often anymore, but I did use it a lot a few years ago. If the hack works, it should show me the password to the account and the Snaps I had sent on it.

I was still a little skeptical because the nature of this Snapchat hack was very different than what happened in 2013. In 2013 during the infamous Snappening it was a third party application was hacked, not Snapchat itself. The app called Snapsave was hacked instead. Snapsave is a third party application that was used by many Snapchat users to save the Snaps they received, a feature not offered in the official Snapchat app.

I went ahead and tested the website anyway, since it was free, I did not have anything to lose. I was relieved to see that when I entered my Snapchat username the hack didn’t work. I wasn’t shown any Snaps and my password was not revealed either. I informed my friend about my findings and I can’t say he seemed very happy. Maybe he was hoping the hack would actually work…?

How to Write a User Guide/Manual

Writing a User Guide

A user guide is an end user document which provides instructions for a certain system/software. In the IT field, it is usually written by technical writers. When writing a user manual you should consider the following:
1. Keep in mind that it is intended to give the user a proper understanding about the application (do not try to show how intelligent you are by using technical jargon or advanced English words). Therefore, it should be written in a very simple yet professional and organized manner.

2. When you are writing a user manual for a certain software/system you need to get hands on experience using the application. This is highly recommended, but when it comes to general concepts, you can just use your common sense.
I.e. When saving a document in an application, we usually know that the path is File- gt; Save or File- gt; Save As

I will divide the whole process into several steps so that you can better understand it.

Step 1 – Play around with the application and try to learn as much as you can about it.

Step 2 – Collect all the documentation related to the application such as Detailed Software Requirement Specification (DSRS), Detailed Software Technical Design (DSTD), previous Read Me, What’s New and Release Notes documents (if available).

Step 3 – Build the structure of the User Guide. Consider the following structure as an example:

• Welcome to application X help
Application X User Interface
Using Help
• Best Practices (If necessary)
• Application X Procedure 1 – You can detail some basic and common functionality under this topic.
• Application X Procedure 2 – Here you can detail slightly advanced functionalities.
• Application X Procedure 3 – You can detail some advanced functionalities here.
• Technical Support
• Glossary
• Index

Step 4 – Now you have to put all what you gathered into the structure. Consider the following example:

I will take Welcome to Application X Help- gt; Application X User Interface as the example:
Write down whatever you know to start with.

Application X User Interface

Have a look at the window. Then start describing what you can see.

Say something like: This window shows the standard interface of the application X.

(Then place the image here)

To perform an x process, carry out the following:
Click the button X.
Insert necessary details.
Click OK to accept or Cancel to close the window.

This is how to build it from the scratch. You can continue to write it using the same logical sequence.

A Keypad on Your Fingers

Every once in a while, some new electronic device comes around that you aren’t certain is real or not. This one, which sports the Samsung label, is one of those. I couldn’t find this device on Samsung’s website, and a search for it revealed only techno-blogs. Apparently the device is rumored to be called the Galaxy Glass.
But if it is real, I can’t decide if this finger touching mobile interface device is really cool or really weird. As you can see from the picture, this device loops around your hand, and then projects via laser emitter a bright keyboard on your hand. I am not quite sure what the circular LCD is for, but it looks too small do be anything too useful.

I’m not certain how this device works, but I don’t think the laser-emitting keypad is anything new. I remember a few years ago when someone invented a laser projector that shot a full-size keyboard on a clear desktop. I’m not certain how the laser technology is able to recognize where your fingers are falling, but there is a lot about technology that I simply don’t understand.

The important thing is that these devices work, and I honestly would find that the desk-projection keyboard would come in handy. However, I always seem to cringe when I see any technology that projects something onto your flesh. I suppose it comes from the fear that we all have that technology will cause us to put bar codes on our hands and foreheads, which many Christian groups equate to the number of the Beast.

Something like this feels like it should be in a science-fiction film, and I’m not talking about one of those utopian ones like Star Wars or Star Trek. I’m talking about the dystopian trend in science fiction with flicks like Blade Runner, The Matrix, or Minority Report. Usually films like that show that humans are totally interfaced with machines, and cut off from morality and reality.

Yet I feel a device like this, although slightly creepy, might be the best thing for a generation that is addicted to cell phones and text messaging. I am going under the assumption that the device cannot project a QWERTY keyboard, like the type seen on the Blackberry. I’m assuming that is more of a size issue, unless you have hands like Michael Jordan.

And hey, just because it’s got lasers projecting onto your skin, doesn’t mean the next step is removing the wristband altogether and putting chips in your knuckles. Hopefully, we are a long way from technology like that.

Evolution of Apple and the Industry

The evolution of Apple

The computing industry has evolved tremendously over the past 30 years. The PC revolution started back in the 1970’s when Apple Computer launched their first PC. It was their goal to bring an easy to use computer to the consumer market. The Apple II, sparked a revolution of the personal computer. The tremendous volume of sales of the Apple II led Apple Computer to become the industry leader by 1980. However, Apple’s reign over the PC industry was short lived when only a few years later IBM joined into the market. IBM launched a product similar to Apple, and with the brand recognition and quality behind their product, it dominated the market share of the PC industry for the next ten years.
As the PC industry began to grow in the 80’s, the primary users were business managers with little technology experience. However, as PC’s started to slowly become more available and affordable, it slowly began to transition into a more consumer market. In the early 1990’s, numerous other companies started joining the PC revolution, piggybacking on the Windows OS combined with Intel processor. These manufactures included Compaq, Dell and Hewlett Packard. Within just 30 years PCs had grown to reach a total of 1 billion computers worldwide, an annual growth of approximately 15% every year. Although the quantity increased, revenue growth did not grow in a similar fashion. While the volume growth reached approximately 15% per year, the average sale price of a PC declined about 8% per year. These sales were driven down primary by the competitive nature of new entrants and the transition from business users as primary customers to home buyers. By the end of 2007, PC’s primary users were home buyers (42%) opposed to small business customers (32%).

There have been numerous entrants into the PC market since the 1970’s but as of the late 2010 we have seen a dwindling amount of new competitors. The PC market has reached a mature stage in its growth cycle and most of the large companies in the market have declared their market shares. Others such as Compaq and IBM have even been acquired by other companies. In the past ten years there have been between 6-8 main PC manufactures worldwide. As a result, the industry has been attractive in the sense that there were no real big threats emerging. However, as prices continued to be driven down by price-sensitive consumers and the competition, gross margins have also begun to decline. What was once an extremely lucrative business in terms of profit per sale has now transitioned to a lucrative business in terms of quantity.