Thursday, September 25, 2014

5 Things I Learned Watching Big Brother 16



Whelp, this year's relatively boring edition of Big Brother is over, and I've got a whole bunch of things I want to talk about. When I say boring, I'm speaking more in terms of the gameplay that went on. Derrick pretty much ruled the roost from day one, and nobody had the intelligence or foresight to stop him. That being said, it was still entertaining to watch everything go down. Ok, I'll stop my blathering, here's the stereotypical list!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Here's A Useful Website You Haven't Heard About...

Rob (creator of celebheights.com) with David Tennant.

Have you ever found yourself in that situation where you're watching a movie or TV show, and think to yourself, "hmm I wonder how tall that actor/actress is?" No? Well good, because that means you aren't an OCD freak like me. If, by chance, you said yes, then I have the perfect website for you!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

5 Reasons Why Frankie Grande Is Unbearable To Watch



If you've watched Big Brother at all this summer, then you're probably familiar with Frankie Grande. As he would assuredly want you to know, he's related to Ariana Grande (they're siblings). After watching this jerk run around as if he were high on thirty shots of espresso these past few months, I thought I'd try and knock him down a peg or two. So, why exactly is this guy unbearable to watch? Read on...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

iPhone 6 Barely Faster Than iPhone 5S



According to BGR.com, at least. Of course, BGR dresses it up nicely by saying that the iPhone 6 is "significantly" faster, but the numbers say otherwise. The benchmark program Geekbench 3 rated the iPhone 6's multi-core performance at 2920, while the 5S scored 2540. To put that in layman's terms, you'll notice practically zero difference when switching from one to the other in terms of performance.

Gaming is another matter. 3D intensive applications will run probably run better on the 6, though still, I wouldn't expect anything mind blowing. As I've been saying for years now, it just seems like smartphones have hit a wall in terms of technological development. They're getting more feature-filled, to be sure, but companies seem to be struggling to find ways to draw more power out of the silicon microchips they're equipping them with.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

8 Ways To Read Faster Than You Do Now


Hey all, I really enjoyed writing the following article for Lifehack and figured I'd share it here since my audiences are a bit split:

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/the-secrets-reading-faster-and-absorbing-information-better.html

Contained in that little (huge) article are eight things I learned in college about how to both read faster and remember what you read.

The basic point to take away, I think, is that you don't have to read books in their entirety to understand what they're about and their overall significance.

Hopefully after reading that you'll be blazing through books much more rapidly than you did before!




Thursday, August 28, 2014

Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia Review



Sorry I've been gone so long; I've been focusing most of my efforts recently on writing articles for Lifehack.org (which is going pretty well I'd say).

Right now I thought I'd post a quick little blurb about a little (read: big) encyclopedia about Star War: The Old Republic.

I received it in the mail yesterday, and I've gotta say, it's one of the best things ever if you're a fan of Star War's old republic era, which, as you know, I am!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Optimizing iOS7 On Your iPhone 4S

 

When I bought my iPhone 4S, I was astounded by its speed. Coming from the absolutely horrendous Samsung Galaxy S Continuum, though, I suppose anything would have felt zippy in comparison. That being said, even compared to my Nexus 7 (2012), my iPhone felt more polished, snappier, and above all else, easier to use (as much as I love my tablet, there's no question Apple has a talent for making intuitive mobile operating systems).

As time wore on, the phone began slowing down. It wasn't noticeable at first, but became progressively worse over time. The first culprit was iOS7. Despite adding some much needed functionality to the operating system, it made my 4S perform a bit below my standards (though it still felt faster than nearly every budget Android handset on the market), with lag popping up in the text interface, safari, and even while doing simple things like opening up new apps. It was still a decent phone, though it was nowhere near how fluid it used to be under iOS6, and I started wishing I'd splurged on the iPhone 5 when I had my upgrade a year and a half ago (for more on the 4S versus it's two younger brothers, click here).

Friday, August 8, 2014

Loreal Txt It 02 Hyper Fix Putty Review




What? A guy reviewing haircare products? Well, while I hate to admit it, us men need a bit of work after exiting the shower everyday too.

For me in particular, the main thing I have to wrestle with is my hair. I have cowlicks in the front, back, sides, pretty much everywhere on my scalp. In fact, my hairstyle often is a cowlick. Without some kind of product in my hair, I usually look ridiculous, with strands flopping around every which way in a supremely nonsensical manner.

So I've turned to numerous hair gels, putties, creams, and the like over the years. Recently I've been using Loreal's Txt It 02 Hyper Fix Putty, which from here on out I'll refer to as HFP because BOY is that a mouthful!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hotel Charges Extra for Bad Service

"Oh you didn't like your stay here? That'll be another five hundred dollars please."

Yep, you read that title right.

According to BGR.com, one hotel recently decided to charge guests who post negative reviews online (to sites like Yelp).

Can you imagine the decision making process that went into that? The enraged, middle-aged, pot-bellied owner of that hotel staying up all night, thinking of ways to get back at the people criticizing their business. Burning the midnight oil, they developed a devious plan to charge guests who were displeased with their hotel experience. The magic number they came up with? Five. Hundred. Dollars. In their maniacal stupor, they forgot two important things: one is that all of that rage-fueled effort could have probably been better spent fixing their hotel's terrible service. Two, that their passive aggressive laziness is only going lead to more flack from the internet. Much, much more.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Wine Tasting at Ledge Rock Hill



Let me begin by saying that I have yet to give a real endorsement on this site, at least one that was paid for or anything like that. I start this article with that disclaimer because I don't want anyone to think that this winery paid me off. Trust me, it'd take at least twenty dollars to convince me to write something blatantly untrue, and these guys didn't pay me a dime!

I'm not an alcoholic by any means. I don't really like beer. Whiskey is alright but I'm not necessarily a fan of it, and wine never tasted too swell to me. My opinion on wine, at least, may have changed with my visit to the Ledge Rock Hill Winery and Vineyard, nestled in the Adirondacks near the Sacandaga.

To get there is a journey in itself. From what I could tell, you take a bunch of backwoods roads, and eventually, if you're lucky, you see a small sign sticking up out of the ground saying "winery next right" or something like that. Then you take a right (or left depending on your direction) onto 41 Stewart Dam Road, follow it past the neat little antique shop (which you should also visit, by the way), and drive up to the left into the quaint little winery parking lot.

Dachshunds are Cool!

My Dachshunds, Sally and Chester, doing their best impersonation of CatDog.

Every Dachshund owner probably knows these few things about their feisty little pet: they're stubborn (and stubby), sweet (and vicious), clever, lazy, and capable of making facial expressions that range from "aww" to "uh oh." Indeed, for that last one, I've seen the transition happen within a matter of seconds!

Let's start with their stubbornness. If you have a Dachshund, and take him/her on walks, you've probably experienced what I like to call the miraculous transformation of your pet from animal to living boulder. You know what I mean! It's when your Dachshund has had enough of that whole "exercising" thing and plants their fat butt on the ground, focusing all of their canine energy into becoming, quite literally, the mythical immovable object. You tug on their leash, you throw treats in front of their face (which they promptly eat before once more becoming stationary), and when all else fails you wave your hands around like a mad man, pleading with your dog (while scaring onlookers), saying stuff like "come on, just a little farther and we'll be home!"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Predictions for the Millennial Generation

Space...the final frontier.

I haven't written an article in list form in a while, so here it goes. Forgive me if it's boring or hard to read; I tried!. Each bullet point represents an individual prediction:

  • Cable Television will die out. My generation is already transitioning to Netflix and other online media sources. There's no way standard cable TV as we know it survives the cut. It costs too damn much and you don't watch ninety percent of the channels.

  • Unless the Republicans remake themselves, we'll be voting in a long line of Democratic Presidents based solely on social issues.

  • Years of being told that every other country under the sun outpaces us in terms of education/economic output will make us hyper-competitive, ushering in a new Golden Age for the United States (I'm hopeful). 

  • Our generation will give up our privacy for the sake of perceived boosts to security, as well as easier integration into whatever replaces the internet. 

  • Airplanes will be replaced by more cost efficient methods of travel, like automated cars and hyper-fast trains.

  • Contrary to popular belief, paper books will survive. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Surviving The Feast

Everyone in this picture is related to me. Probably.

It's a little known fact to some, but I happen to be half Italian. My whole life I've had to reiterate that point to thousands of people, mainly due to my darker complexion and last name. More on that in a second, or not, sometimes I start my articles with random diatribes.

Every year, a small town known as Shenandoah Pennsylvania hosts an Italian-tastic event known as The Feast, which brings in Sylvester Stallone and James Gandolfini look-alikes from across the region for the sole purpose of celebrating their shared boot shaped origins. It's here that I get to celebrate my Italian-ness amongst my brethren; where everyone accepts my racial origins with glee (well, almost everybody, apparently during The Feast's parade/procession people on the sidelines were calling me Bruno Mars...then again based on that whole Shenandoah documentary this isn't too surprising...though at least this bit of micro-racism is mildly flattering).

Let me summarize what The Feast is for anybody who doesn't already know: a bunch of Italians show up to Shenandoah, PA, go to mass, parade around town with religious symbols/statues, then go home and eat tons of good food with their families. This started exactly a century ago as a result of all the Catholic Italian immigrants that settled in that town. Hopefully that's enough exposition...on with the main event.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Cleaning my Grandparent's Attic

Imagine this, but with boxes, mouse crap, and dust stacked high to the ceiling.

This summer I received a job, if it could be called that, to clean my Grandparent's attic. Full disclosure, I'm not even completely finished with it yet. That being said, I figure I've hauled down enough boxes and potentially cursed 1960s baby doll figurines to write about my experience!

So it all started on a humid, oppressive Monday during the month of July. The middle of summer. My Grandpa had been kind enough to provide me with gloves, a mask, and a little bit of an incentive to work hard (read: I got partly paid in advance, also I didn't really get gloves I had to steal my Uncle's). I trekked up the steep, creaky steps of his house, into the black and white picture laden bedroom of my grandmother, through the attic door, and up the crumbling steps into the land of dust and hornet's nests.

Immediately I thought to myself, "what have I gotten myself into..."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rocky (The Play) Review


Sylvester Stallone on stage with the actors portraying Adrian and Rocky in the Broadway play.

Rocky. The movie that perfectly encapsulated the quintessential underdog story nearly forty years ago. The movie that launched Sly's career, and influenced the lives of countless baby boomers.

How do you recapture that magic? At least, in a minor sense? You release a version of the story on Broadway, of course. Now, I know what you're thinking..."how in the hell do you take a movie like Rocky and transplant it onto the stage?"

It's a good question, and one I am prepared to answer seeing as I saw the play yesterday. Basically, they stayed true to the movie script, using a brilliant assortment of shifting dynamic sets and clever illusions to keep nearly the same atmosphere and pace as the film. Mixed into dialogue pulled directly from the 1976 blockbuster was a bundle of musical-esque songs that fleshed out some of the plot points previously left to the viewers imagination, such as Adrian's secret adoration of Rocky.

How I Ruined my Championship Team in NBA 2K14

Goran Dragic, a name that will live on in infamy...at least in my NBA 2K14 association.

I was at the top of my game. I had led my ragtag team composed of Goran Dragic, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Blake Griffin to the NBA Finals. It was a tough road, with three seven game series, including the Finals. All this despite the face that, at the beginning of the year, we were pegged as a borderline playoff team at best, and a lottery squad at worst.

What allowed us to make it so far? My "big three," so to speak, composed of Dragic, Thompson, and Griffin, played out of their goddamn minds. All three were in the top ten in terms of playoff statistics for PER and Efficiency ratings, and the trio combined for over seventy points a game. They were nowhere near that amazing during the season. While Blake beasted down low, Dragic and Thompson rained down threes from outside, shooting at such a high percentage that I'm sure my competition thought I was playing with cheats.

With these three firing on all cylinders, I won the 2015 NBA Championship. It was touch and go for a while, but it was almost an inevitability that I would win due to both my mad 2K skills and the ridiculous performances of the D/T/G trifecta.

The offseason went spectacularly, to say the least. I retained my coach, all my key players, and had enough cap room to sign an impact player: none other than Kobe freaking Bryant. Now 37 years old, the Black Mamba could still average a cool 20/5/5 without breaking a sweat, and I'd inked him to a multi-year deal at a very reasonable rate.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Shenandoah (Documentary) Review

Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

When you think of "Shenandoah," you probably think of that valley in Virginia. Or anything really, besides the sleepy, deteriorating town nestled in the forested, formerly coal-rich hills of Pennsylvania.

What happened that made this town worthy of being documented in a, uh, documentary? A hate crime occurred there, and as you know, those attract filmmakers much like the IRS and late tax payments. Members of the town's lauded football team, the Shenandoah Blue Devils, killed a man of Latino descent late one summer night in a drunken fit of gory blood-lust that ended with their target convulsing on the pavement, choking on his own fluids.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Air Travel Sucks

Don't be fooled by the fancy new paint job. It's pretty much the same plane your grandfather used decades ago.

We've all been there. Checking your bags with the psychotic caffeine deficient clerk. Going through the TSA security checkpoint, groped and scanned like you're the antichrist. Then you sit and wait at a musty old terminal, possibly sipping an overpriced cup of burnt coffee from the nearby Starbucks, trying to avoid eye contact with the serial killer sitting across from you.

But I don't want to talk about any of that. I'm talking about the actual air travel itself. Just think about it for a second. You start off taxiing on the runway for thirty minutes, the infected "air-conditioned" air contaminating your lungs. Then, you take off. The hunk of junk Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 you're riding roars to life, lifting off the tarmac in such a reluctant fashion that you're usually surprised the metal deathtrap actually managed to fly.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Tale of Jack Martin - Part 5

Part 4: http://www.gainsense.com/2014/07/the-tale-of-jack-martin-part-4.html


The wave of energy threw all four of them back several feet. The demon stood there, his bulging arms at his hips, cackling maniacally.

"There is no hope...submit to my power and I shall make your deaths as painless as possible."

Jack felt nothing besides his heart beating in his chest.

Ugh...I think I broke a rib...

He glanced up, squinting his eyes as he did so. He saw the leader, standing above him, facing the demon. Locke and Dean lay in crumpled heaps besides Jack, blood dripping from their mouths. The leader himself was breathing heavily, barely able to stand. He looked hunched over, the confidence etched upon his face earlier gone. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Capsizing in a Canoe

This is what I looked like today, except less grizzled and far more bruised and wet.

Today I find myself thousands of miles from my typical habitat, otherwise known as the parched, dry, hellish inferno known as Southern California. I'm in upstate New York (or at least I am for the sake of this story, I could be elsewhere, one can never be sure), and with all the water around these parts my family decided to go out boating on the Hudson river.

I decided to take a canoe, with one other person. Let me set the scene up for you.

It was hot and slightly humid. On top of all that there were suspicious looking backwoods people driving by in their strange vehicles, speaking in accents that I didn't even know were possible in the English language. Bugs of indescribable composition and size buzzed around my face, vigorously attempting to suck out my life essence every few seconds. For a moment, I yearned for my nice Southern California oven. Then again, everyone likes to pretend that their home is better than it actually is when they're away from it, so whatever.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Tale of Jack Martin - Part 4

Part 3: http://www.gainsense.com/2014/07/the-tale-of-jack-martin-part-3.html

Jack awoke in a daze upon what appeared to be a flimsy looking cot; simple canvas stretched between two aluminum tubes.

The room he was in was large, to say the least. His cot, along with several others, lined its edges, while the majority of the space was devoted to a large concrete floor, bare of anything besides certain markers denoting some arcane instructions that Jack could not decipher.

He noticed on the far end of the room that there was a woman staring at him. Before he could get out of bed and investigate, a voice reverberated throughout his skull.

There is no need for such effort, child. Allow me.

Jack watched as the women raised her right palm, closing her eyes, seeming to focus in on him. With a start, he noticed that he was rising from his cot, floating in mid-air.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Tale of Jack Martin - Part 3

Part 2: http://www.gainsense.com/2012/07/the-tale-of-jack-martin-part-2.html


What the...where am I?

Jack awoke, groggy and disorientated, still in the van with Dean. His captor's head, topped with an acorn colored crew cut, bobbed to the rhythm of an AC/DC song playing loudly over the speakers.

"So the kid finally woke up? Guess I don't know my own strength!"

Dean grinned, flashing nearly-perfect teeth at Jack, then focused once more on the road.

"We'll be at the compound any minute. Don't worry, our leader has great things in store for you. I know that sounds contrived but in this case, it's just a tiny bit true so bear with me."

Do I really have a choice? Asshole. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Edge of the Galaxy

Commander Ridge peered over his rectangular screen, out into the black abyss of space. His face furrowed.

"Captain, sensors indicate we have breached the plane of the Milky Way. We are now in intergalactic space."

The Captain, usually quite stoic, let a slight grin briefly color his worn visage of a face.

"Very good Commander. Computer, this is the Captain, enter log, year 2614: we've done it. Man has left the Milky Way. A momentous occasion indeed."

With little fanfare, the Captain returned to his seat, positioned centrally on the bridge.

The alarms began to blare.

"Commander, what is that?"

Ridge punched a few commands into his computer, analyzing the data flashing on the screen. His mechanically enhanced eyes took in the data far faster than any normal human. The nano-modifications to his brain allowed him to process the information he received in seconds.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Julius Randle: Buff Bringer-of-Death



Ah, Julius Randle. Just picked two days ago with the 7th pick of the NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. What makes Mr. Randle an intriguing prospect? His ability to dominate the post? The barrel-like muscles that encase his herculean chest and arms? The slightly bulging eyes and intense attitude that would scare most children (and adults)? All of the above?

If you watched his post-selection interview, you would see why a guy like Kobe, and your average Lakers fan, likes him. He's angry. Angry that he was skipped over by so many teams, and chomping at the bit to show everyone what he's made of.

Don't be surprised if he wins rookie of the year. He's buff, he's tough, he'll blow your house in. He's the relentless wrecker of all that is holy on God's green Earth. He'll take the NBA by the horns, rip them off, crack them in two, dip them in some boiling water, and gulp down the resulting steaming bone marrow stew faster than you can say "Mitch Kupchak wants his cups back."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Haircuts are Awkward and Annoying


"I said only cut the sides....THE SIDES...NO...STOP....NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Besides going to the Dentist's for a nauseating cleaning where I have to listen to the smarmy hygienist rave about her son's accomplishments, or the Doctor's where I have to go through the overly embarrassing experience that is a "physical," getting my haircut it probably the most traumatic thing I do on a regular basis.

You know what it's like. You walk in, immediately noticing all of the bright and beautiful faces plastering the walls, all affixed with perfect hairstyles. You think to yourself, "that's going to be me!" Of course, it never is.

Then, the sullen and usually unkempt barber slithers up to you, a deep sense of disdain hidden behind the glassy orbs they have for eyes. If they're young, they're probably wishing they were out bar hopping with friends, and generally treat you like dirt, or worse (seriously, cheer up, at least you're making money, moron). If they're old, they look at you like you're intruding on their territory, waiting for you to slip up in your speech so they can make some jackass-y comment that only somebody with years of wisdom and life experience can make.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Waging War on Net Neutrality


All hail your new internet overlords! If you hated Crapcast before, you'll hate them even more if the FCC pushes through net neutrality.

You've probably heard of the phrase "net neutrality" before, but it's likely that you, like me, didn't really know what it exactly entails.

Basically speaking, it's something that the FCC is trying to push through that would, in essence, allow evil internet service providers like Comcast and Time Warner Cable pick and choose who gets access to the best data speeds.

Why is this an issue? Well, it would rip the internet from the hands of us average folks and place it in the gold plated, Benjamin lined, velvet covered, well-moisturized arms of rich corporations. The Apples and Microsofts of the world would get to pay ISPs for the so-called "fast lanes" of the internet, while less fortunate companies like, say Netflix, would be left out in the cold.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Gordon Ramsay and the Food Network


Ah, Gordon Ramsay. Why do we love him? Is it the way he styles his platinum blonde hair? The Grand Canyon-esque creases in his forehead? The way he says "bollocks"? I could go on, probably for a couple paragraphs. In the end, the fact of the matter is that Mr. Ramsay is one of the coolest food-related dudes on TV; so awesome, in fact, that he makes watching the Food Network a dull and practically painful affair.

I mean, I do give the Food Network points for hiring their own Ramsay-lite in the form of Robert Irvine. Still, you can't just throw another hot-tempered British dude in my face and think he'll have the same wondrous affect as the steely blonde maven pictured above.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Think *You're* Insane? Well, Meet Doubleagent...


World of Warcraft. Some people play it as a game, others use it to demonstrate their inherent soullessness.

What do insane people do? Lots of things. They talk to their dogs, fumble their words in a hopeless attempt to appear socially normal, and run websites that are viewed by so few people that they might as well not bother. Wait...that describes me. Yes I am insane. However, there are a few who go beyond me, and reach a level so ridiculous that I question if they are actually homo-sapiens, or some ghoulish demon spawn from Mars, sent to deliver us all to our doom!

One person I came across definitely deserves the "ghoulish demon spawn from Mars" title. I do not know their real name, but, I do know the name of their World of Warcraft character: Doubleagent. Whoever this guy is, he is veritably, absolutely, existentially, and unbelievably downright kooky and off-kilter.

Improving Your iPhone's Battery Life


Every year, iPhone owners viciously throw their devices at walls, shattering souls and killing dreams, all thanks to poor battery life. Let's fix that!

As great of an update as iOS7 was, there's no question that it uses more battery than previous versions of Apple's mobile operating system.

So instead of banging your head against your ketchup encrusted, crumb-composed desk, wishing that you made better life choices, read this article instead!

The key to better battery life is simple: tell your stupid iPhone to quit worrying so much about things it shouldn't have to worry about! Or, in geeky tech lingo, turn off the background processes that are consuming your phone's precious computing power.

iPhone 4S vs. iPhone 5C vs. iPhone 5S


I'm writing this mainly because comparisons I've read on other websites are boring, tech-based, and filled with meaningless charts more than actual paragraphs. Though as I've found earlier, people writing for tech websites aren't necessarily all that great in terms of their command of the English language, so it's probably for the best that they steer clear of stringing together multiple sentences.

My comparison is based not on benchmarks and numbers but on real-world observations, since those mean way more when dealing with technology. (I mean really, you'd be hard pressed to find a normal human who can tell the difference in performance between the A6 processor in the 5C and the A7 in the 5S).

Friday, June 20, 2014

NBA 2K: Crushing the 7'6" Monster


I'm a huge fan of 2K sports' NBA series. It's probably the game I play the most. Despite my better judgement, I've owned every version since 2K7 (except 2K14).

What's so fun about it? Well, for me it's the association mode. If you have an imagination it can be quite the enjoyable experience.

You think that the Heat are a super team? Their big three is nothing compared to some of the trios assembled in 2K's association mode. It's fun seeing squads composed of the likes of Chris Paul, John Wall, and Serge Ibaka, and trying to go against them with your crippled ragtag group of terrible players...led by a 77 overall rated shooting guard no less!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Are Millennials the Next "Great" Generation?

This is in part a response to Rob Flaherty's piece on Millennials, written earlier today.

When you think of the greatest generation in recent memory, your mind probably conjures up images of those who served in World War II, and built America into the superpower that it is today. You'd be correct of course. Generations after them have had a lot to live up to, and by and large they've failed to meet the same high standards as their forebears.

WoW Addictions and Your Stupid Brain

Let's face it everyone, life can be a drag sometimes. Traffic, the sun, smog, other humans, and cat dander are all things that can lead to a miserable existence. So, why go through all of that when you can escape to a game like World of Warcraft?

In that magical land of procrastination and false glory, you commandeer an avatar far cooler than yourself, a hero who fights for the freedom of all the denizens of Azeroth. You can run epic dungeons, explore a vast world, mine computerized ore, chat to other deprived individuals, and even just run around, jumping on random objects (the last one was a favorite of mine)!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Clear Channel and the Decline of Radio

Clear Channel. A name you are probably familiar with, at least in passing. What if I told you, however, that this corporation was responsible for shaping radio into what it is today? When you tune into AM or FM, chances are you will hear either the voice of some crotchety conservative talking head or one of those migraine inducing songs played over mall speakers ad infinitum. While it can be easy to assume that it has always been like this, the truth of the matter is that radio as we know it today was molded by corporations, like the aforementioned Clear Channel, who dominated the industry for decades. In this essay, I will lay out why I believe Clear Channel had a deleterious effect on the radio industry as a whole, not only because it contributed to the rise of conservative talk radio, but because its management techniques and vertically integrated nature led to corrupt business practices like payola and poor treatment of workers, which lowered the overall standard and quality of radio across the United States.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Horror in the Woods of Santa Cruz

 In 1909, a man disappeared on a mission within the forests of Santa Cruz. Years later, his journal was found. No government records exist of this expedition, so the following entries are unverifiable. Here are its contents:

Entry 1, December 9th, 1909

My name is James Booth. My partner and I, Roland, were sent by President Roosevelt to explore the woods surrounding a sleepy little town called "Santa Cruz," right on the coast of central California. As is expected of those who work in our department, I am keeping this journal in the case that we fail our mission. If you find these, my partner and I are likely dead. I hope I kept sufficient notes.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

How is iOS7 on the iPhone 4S?



The simple answer is this: it's very good.

Therefore, as a 4S owner, I am appalled by articles like this one, which makes the following claim:

"At this point, I still think the iPhone 4S is a perfect device for anyone looking to get into the Apple ecosystem for minimal cost as, they do indeed make a great 'iOS starter device' and many folks in the iMore Forums tend to agree with that as well. That being said, it is getting to be a little dated and if you're comparing devices, the age will show."

Maybe it's the fact that I don't like their choice of words. "Starter device" implies that the 4S can't do everything that the 5, 5C, and 5S can do. In other words, that it's limited to the extent that you won't get the full "Apple experience."

Well, that's a load of baloney. I personally chose to buy the 4S over the 5 for the simple reason that when I compared both in an Apple Store, they performed equally well. The 5S, from what I have seen, is a great phone. It does indeed provide a smoother experience than the 4S. However, we're talking seconds, maybe even milliseconds of difference here. So sure, your 5 and 5S are faster than my 4S, but is it really to the extent that the 4S should get downgraded to "starter device" status?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

My Halo god complex

The game that honed my Halo skills.
I noticed something strange as I was playing Halo 4 online today. I am really good at Halo! Like, too good. Like, killing guys with a sniper rifle without zooming in from across the map good.  Before I start to sound too conceited, let me take a step back and provide you with some context. 

Back in ye olden days, I used to play Halo 2, the first game in the series to provide an online multiplayer experience, religiously. I'm taking all day every day. I was never one of the best players in the world, but I was respectable. This pattern repeated itself, to a lesser degree, with Halo 3. Though I didn't play that game as much as 2, I was still pretty damn good.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Does the Xbox One Suck?



According to pcmag.com writer Sascha Segan, it does. In a brief and relatively whiny article, Segan argued that the Xbox One is terrible because it lacks plug-and-play capability, which, according to him, is what defines the console experience. 

That may be true, but his evidence was shoddy at best. Instead of doing some actual research (something like testing out how much time it took from start-up to actual gameplay for multiple Xbox titles), he provided readers with an anecdote about a game he wanted to play with his child. In his story, his kid was forced to play a game on a cell phone because the Xbox One title took too long to update itself. For this singular reason, Segan blasted Microsoft's console.

True Love?

(Restart Story)


You sit next to Natalie. She greets you with an exuberance that makes your heart skip a beat. It seems she's excited for your date later that day!

You think to yourself, Aw yeah! I'm such a badass!

You and Natalie have a decent conversation. Laughs abound. Even the reticent Jaime gets a few words in. By the end, you are feeling like you really made a connection. A few minutes before the lunch bell rings, Natalie gets up.

"I'm going get a head start...my class is way on the other side of campus! I'll see you later!"

She flashes you a smile, and gives you a brief hug. Butterflies begin fluttering throughout your stomach. For a moment you drift away from reality, dreaming of a future with your crush.

Then, all of the sudden, Jaime appears before you.

"You know...I probably shouldn't say this," she mutters, "but Nat, she has lots of guy friends. If you know what I mean."

A puzzled look appears on your face.

"What I'm trying to say is...don't get your hopes us. You seem like a good guy and I don't want your dreams to be shattered or anything. She probably doesn't see that 'date' she planned with you as anything more than a friendly get-together. Well...I'll see you." Jaime walks away towards her next class.

She's terrible at goodbyes...

You stand there stunned for a bit, but quickly snap out of it.

She's right...I never really had a chance. A girl like her probably has fifty guys contacting her at any given time. I'll never break through that. All that time I just spent with her was probably meaningless...

Looks like you're in a bit of a malaise! What to do...what to do...


(A) Run after Jaime and knock her out. Violence solves everything!

(B) Accept what Jaime said and move on with your life.

(C) Confront Natalie with this information when you see here again.

The Player

(Restart Story)

Girls bore you. Case in point, after only a few hours of pursuing Natalie, you're already onto the next one: Jaime.

You sit next to to Jaime, to her left. Natalie is on her right. With a fluid motion, you place your arm around Jaime, and stare longingly into her iridescent green eyes.

"You know, Jaime," you begin, "I never noticed it before...but...you are quite beautiful."

Jaime silently glances at Natale for support. The whites of her eyes are showing. She's quite uncomfortable, unsurprisingly.

Natalie, who, might I remind you was just asked out by you, is furious. Her face is reddening. Fists balling up.

As Jaime attempts to worm her way away from you, she notices Natalie's changing expression.

"Uh...Nat? You ok?!"

For the moment, Jaime has forgotten about your creepiness and has turned her attention to her friend. Your next choice could have a considerable impact...


(A) [Persuade] "Cheer up Nat! I got ya good didn't I? Haha."

(B) [Flirt] "You know...monogamous relationships are boring...how bout you two and I head back to my place? Right now."

(C) Tell Natalie to lighten up and accept your love for Jaime

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trauma

(Restart Story)

Anderson charges at you, looking more like an enraged bull than a man. As per your planned ruse, you let down your guard at the last second.

Your defenses down, Anderson makes short work of you. You only feel the first blow to your face before you are knocked out.

Several moments later, you awake. Your jaw aches. You see a few of what you assume to be your teeth lying on the floor before you. Blood is everywhere, most of all on Mr. Anderson and his fists, who is standing a few feet in front of you, staring at you and the class with wide eyes.

"What...what have I done?!" He staggers backwards, nearly tripping on a stack of books. He catches himself, and leans against the whiteboard.

With all your might, you get on your legs. Though your mouth is on fire, you manage to say two words, words that will reverberate in the minds of your fellow classmates for years to come.

"You're done."

You smile, limp over to the class phone, and call the office. Within minutes, campus security has arrived. You tell them your manufactured story, about Anderson going off on you for no reason at all. The class sides with you, as Anderson was known to be a horrific teacher, regardless of his now well-documented violent tendencies.

Your victory, however, is short lived. Allowing Anderson to get such a clean shot at your skull caused a fracture, which led to internal bleeding in your brain. As a medical team called to the school examines you, the pressure in your head causes you to pass into a coma. You never wake up from your slumber.

On the bright side, your death got a terrible, abusive teacher sentenced to life in prison! For all intents and purposes, you become a martyr. Everyone in your graduating class remembers your name until the day they die.

The End (Restart Story)



Snap

(Restart Story)

Mr. Anderson's fists lunge towards your face. In what appears to be the blink of an eye, you grab his right wrist, then his left. Squeezing with all your might, you twist each as hard as you can.

There is an audible *SNAP* as you break his bones.

"AHHH!"

Anderson falls to the floor in a crumpled heap, whimpering like a newborn. Tears stream down his face. His now useless hands flap around aimlessly at his sides.


(A) Finish him off

(B) Address the class with a victory speech




Sunday, April 20, 2014

Top Seven Songs in Doctor Who

Murray Gold has released a number of wonderful tracks for Doctor Who. Some are sad, some are inspirational, and others are everything in between. Here's a list of my top seven!

If seven seems arbitrary, deal with it ;)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Don't expect faster computers any time soon

Intel's Core i7 processor. 99% of you reading this article won't need the kind of power provided by this baby.

I've written here previously about the diminishing returns of smartphones. To summarize what I said there briefly, the processors within smartphones are so good at what they do that each subsequent upgrade feels like less of an improvement over the previous model. Or, in other words, the iPhone 4S felt much faster than the 4, but the iPhone 5S felt minutely faster than the 5.

A similar trend is occurring in the world of personal computers. If you bought a PC or laptop during or after 2007, you probably still own it to this day. Or, if you don't, it wasn't because it became too slow to perform the tasks you needed it to, but because it broke down.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mark Levin botches introduction to book



Let me be clear: I have not finished reading Mark Levin's book, The Liberty Amendments. However, something caught my eye in the introduction that was so perplexing to me that I had to write about it.

As you may or may not know, Levin is an influential conservative pundit, talking head, and radio host. I bought his book mainly because, at the time, it was highly rated and I was sick of what was going on in DC, and thus wanted to see some of the solutions he proposed.

Unfortunately, however, after reading his thesis, I do not know if I will be able to make it through the entire book. Why? Essentially, his entire argument is based on one giant hypocrisy!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Doctor Who: Vale Decem vs. Infinite Potential

If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I absolutely love the show Doctor Who. One of my favorite aspects of it, besides all of the zany storylines and fantastic characters, is its music.

The composer for the modern series, Murray Gold, really knows how to ramp up the adrenaline and emotion of what is occurring on screen with his music. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the scores he created for the 10th and 11th Doctor's regenerations, dubbed "Value Decem" and "Infinite Potential," respectively.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

True Detective: starring Bryan Cranston and Jensen Ackles?



The first season of True Detective ended a few weeks ago. Because the series is an anthology, actors Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, pictured above, will not be reprising the roles of Marty and Rust. The show will instead be introducing two new detectives. That leaves us with the question: who should play them?

Not even taking into account what the showrunner is planning as far as the storyline and theme of season two, I think two great options would be Bryan Cranston (of Breaking Bad fame), and Jensen Ackles (one of the leads of the hit show Supernatural).

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fox News and NASA



Everybody knows that Fox News is incredibly biased towards anything a touch left of center. While they claim to be fair and balanced, even their news programs are structured in a way that consistently bashes Obama and the left.

But whatever, that is old news. Today I heard something new that made my blood boil. Apparently, Fox is going to run a segment over the weekend that criticizes Obama for cutting the space program and allowing Russia to get a stranglehold on the stars. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Trident Vitality Awaken review



I recently picked up a three-pack of this for 99 cents (at the 99 cent store no less). Suffice it to say, I was blown away by how good it is. It easily matches up to more expensive mint gums of similar flavor, like Stride Peppermint, or 5 Cobalt.

Inequality for All Review




Unsurprisingly, income inequality was at its highest in 1928 and 2007, or in other words right before the Great Depression and Great Recession.

If you look at some of the first articles I wrote on this website, you will notice that I used to be a bit (read: a lot) more conservative than I am currently. Back then, I watched a bit too much Glenn Beck, drank above the doctor's recommended amount of O'Reilly cool-aid, and generally saw no issue with many of the things that I do today.

My volte-face in regard to ideology is probably best revealed by my absolute adoration of Robert Reich's documentary, "Inequality for All," a film that tackles one of the most pressing issues in America today -- income inequality.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Why Cracked.com isn't funny anymore redux




It has been a little under two years since I wrote a relatively negative article about Cracked.com, aptly named Why Cracked.com isn't funny anymore. It gets a huge amount of traffic to this day, for reasons unbeknownst to me, so I thought it would be worthwhile to take another peek at this infamous humor website and see how they are doing.

I decided to read an article titled "5 Dick Moves Your Bank Pulls (You Won't Believe Are Legal)," written by Spencer Lowe. Lowe is a good writer, probably better than me at least. I understood everything fairly well, and unlike the article I reviewed in my lambasting of Cracked.com, he never got overly political in his analysis.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Leave the Galaxy S5 alone


Now that the post-release cacophony of tech articles relating to the S5 is dying down, I'd like to put my two cents in. I'll preface this by saying that I wrote an article a year ago referencing what I saw as severe diminishing returns in the smartphone industry. The Galaxy S5 did nothing to disprove the trend I noted in that article, and yet, I am writing today to defend it. Why? Read on.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Dramatic poses

(Restart Story)

In a move that probably played out in a more badass fashion in your mind, you turn around dramatically and face the cacophony of approaching sirens. The police cars turn a corner, and are now within fifty feet of your position. They've all been given your description so there's no way you can use any sort of stealthy tactics, indeed, from the way the cars speed up it looks like you've already been spotted. How do you want this to go down?



Take aim and fire

Hesitate and run

The liquor store

(Restart Story)


Your stolen gun in hand, you burst through the liquor store doors. The man at the register looks as you with a start, panic in his eyes. He glances at what is probably a weapon of some sort he has stashed behind the counter he is standing. You have seconds to make a decision.



Open fire

Try and calm him down

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kendall Marshall will be a star



Kendall Marshall was a lottery pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He was described as a great, albeit non-athletic, playmaker, though never saw much time on the court while on the Phoenix Suns. They got rid of him, and after a brief stint on the Wizards and in the D-League, Marshall was called up to play for the injury-depleted Los Angeles Lakers.

His first few games were nothing special. However, after the Lakers' other guards were assassinated by the Dark Brotherhood (it felt that way at least), he was given a chance to start. And boy has he delivered. During his past few weeks at the helm, Marshall has averaged more assists than anybody else in the NBA. On top of that, he's also shooting the lights out from three point range.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Elder Scrolls Online will be terrible


The Elder Scrolls Online. It is being developed by Zenimax Online Studios, a development team separate from the one that crafts the single player Elder Scrolls series.

This past decade there has really only been one MMO that experienced overwhelming success both critically and monetarily, and that is World of Warcraft. Many have tried to usurp its throne, but all have failed to match its popularity. This year, another contender has risen in an attempt to woo gamers away from Blizzard's panda shaped ATM. I am speaking of course, about The Elder Scrolls Online.