I Learned From a Sucky Garage Band

What I have to say about love and hope and desire begins — and ends — with the Bloody Snowmen, the rock band I was in when I was 16. Saying the Snowmen was a rock band stretches the truth a bit, sort of like calling a piece of dog poop on your shoe a fashion statement, but if a person can’t lie to himself, he has no business lying to anyone else.

So. We were five stupid kids with less than a shred of musical talent among us. Combined, our ability would have fit into a shot glass — with room left over for a shot. Buck shot. The Snowmen was a perversion, a sideshow act, an aberration, a blight. For an uninterrupted two weeks, The Snowmen, surely the worst band to never make it out of the garage, offended our parents, the community at large, domesticated animals of varying shapes and sizes, and, one supposes, the recently cremated with our high-decibel assault. Although we had a passion for music, there were no delusions of greatness among us; black holes suck less than the Bloody Snowmen did.

Our music consisted of notes, some of which were in relation to the notes played by our fellow band members. And we had a singer, although for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what he was saying at any given moment. When we were not spitting on each other, we wrote classic hits such as, “I’m Dead, You’re Stupid, So Buy Me a Beer (a Love Song), Uncle Elvis Married My Sister, and Ottoman, The Turk. These little wonders could be compared to say, The Beer Barrel Polka, Smells Like Teen Spirit, and La Marseillaise in that they were all, upon closer inspection, songs.

Every day we rode in to the appointed garage to practice. We arrived tired and strung out, looking like gunshot victims often do, our eyes bleary from unceasing bouts of geometry and American politics. As is the fashion with 16-year-olds, we were stupider than the chairs we sat on. None of us could stand each other; there was nothing to hold us together but our love and some hope and a desire that burned like a syphilitic’s urine stream. We played not because we had to, but because to do otherwise would have compromised our souls.

Sometimes, though, the grand triumvirate of love and hope and desire just don’t cut it. After two weeks, the Snowmen fell apart. We scattered to the winds, joined new bands, began dating women. Some of us went to college, got jobs writing for comic book magazines, tested video games for pay. There was talk of a Snowmen reunion some years back, but it turned out it was just an ex-member making a prank call.

One of us (me) made it to Imagine Media’s new Web site Daily Radar. My name is Gregory Orlando, and I can still play the harmonica as poorly as I did when I was 16. My quest for the greatest burrito in the universe has taken me from the bucolic splendor of New York to the vaguely unsettling fault lines of San Francisco. I gave up the country’s best pizza, a happy home, and the thrill of watching the New York Mets stomp the royal bug juice out of the hated Chicago Cubs on a regular basis to come to California.

Daily Radar needed a Dreamcast editor. After an exhaustive search of the United States job pool, as well as a severe combing of the talent market from Trinidad and Tobago, Mars, Peru, Iceland, Upper (and Lower) Volta, and finally, a quick perusal of all the job qualifications of the surviving cast members of TV’s Diff’rent Strokes, I was hired for the job. This means, God help us, that I’ll have a hand in most, if not all, of the Dreamcast-related text on this site.

Today, we give birth to Daily Radar, a cranky baby which will hopefully prosper and outlive us all. We’re determined to make this Web site something wonderful, a place for our readers to go for some excellent videogame and entertainment news, features, previews, and reviews. As we struggle to put this puppy into place, the words of ex-Beatle Ringo Starr resonate in our collective brains: “You know it don’t come easy,” he said, possibly before falling into an alcoholic haze.

For my part, I will endeavor to make the Dreamcast portion of Daily Radar the best it possibly can be. This means digging for hard news, having smart, well-written videogame previews and reviews, and not being afraid to challenge the status quo. It also means that when you write in with your comments and criticisms, they will be read by me, and taken to heart. As sycophantic as it sounds, you readers are the most important part of Daily Radar. Without you, I’ll have to go back to scraping dead animals off the highway.

Right now, the Daily Radar office reeks of desperation and sour body odors. Most of us work 20-plus hours a day and some have taken to sleeping on a beanbag in an unused corner of Imagine Media’s headquarters. Laundry, significant others, and life in general have fallen to the wayside. The sun is like some distant notion that I can’t quite fathom. We are doing it because to do otherwise would be to compromise our souls.

All of us are here, pushing ourselves, running on the same ideals that moved me when I was 16. And we all are prepared to make two promises to you right now. The second thing we can promise you is that we will stink. Sometimes, we will get our facts mixed up. Typos will make us seem even more stupid than we really are. At times, Daily Radar will be the Bloody Snowmen of videogame reporting.

But we will also be magnificent. Because sometimes, love and hope and desire are more than enough.

We promise.

Why Do Buildings Collapse During Strong Earthquake?

Earthquakes have always been a terrifying phenomenon, and they’ve become more deadly as our cities have grown, with collapsing buildings posing one of the largest risks. Why do buildings collapse in an earthquake, and how can it be prevented? If you’ve watched a lot of disaster films, you might have the idea that building collapse is caused directly by the ground beneath them shaking violently, or even splitting apart.

But that’s not really how it works. For one thing, most buildings are not located right on a fault line, and the shifting tectonic plates go much deeper than building foundations. So what’s actually going on? In fact, the reality of earthquakes and their effect on buildings is a bit more complicated.

To make sense of it, architects and engineers use models, like a two-dimensional array of lines representing columns and beams, or a single line lollipop with circles representing the building’s mass. Even when simplified to this degree, these models can be quite useful, as predicting a building’s response to an earthquake is primarily a matter of physics.

Most collapses that occur during earthquakes aren’t actually caused by the earthquake itself. Instead, when the ground moves beneath a building, it displaces the foundation and lower levels, sending shock waves through the rest of the structure and causing it to vibrate back and forth. The strength of this oscillation depends on two main factors: the building’s mass, which is concentrated at the bottom, and its stiffness, which is the force required to cause a certain amount of displacement.

Along with the building’s material type and the shape of its columns, stiffness is largely a matter of height. Shorter buildings tend to be stiffer and shift less, while taller buildings are more flexible. You might think that the solution is to build shorter buildlings so that they shift as little as possible.

But the 1985 Mexico City earthquake is a good example of why that’s not the case. Durng the quake, many buildings between six and fifteen stories tall collapsed. What’s strange is that while shorter buildings nearby did keep standing, buildings taller than fifteen stories were also less damaged, and the midsized buildings that collapsed were observed shaking far more violently than the earthquake itself.

How is that possible? The answer has to do with something known as natural frequency. In an oscillating system, the frequency is how many back and forth movement cycles occur within a second. This is the inverse of the period, which is how many seconds it takes to complete one cycle. And a building’s natural frequency, determined by its mass and stiffness, is the frequency that its vibrations will tend to cluster around.

Increasing a building’s mass slows down the rate at which it naturally vibrates, while increasing stiffness makes it vibrate faster. So in the equation representing their relationship, stiffness and natural frequency are proportional to one another, while mass and natural frequency are inversely proportional. What happened in Mexico City was an effect called resonance, where the frequency of the earthquake’s seismic waves happen to match the natural frequency of the midsized buildings.

Like a well-timed push on a swingset, each additional seismic wave amplified the building’s vibration in its current direction, causing it to swing even further back, and so on, eventually reaching a far greater extent than the initial displacement. Today, engineers work with geologists and seismologists to predict the frequency of earthquake motions at building sites in order to prevent resonance-induced collapses, taking into account factors such as soil type and fault type, as well as data from previous quakes.

Low frequencies of motion will cause more damage to taller and more flexible buildings, while high frequencies of motion pose more threat to structures that are shorter and stiffer. Engineers have also devised ways to abosrb shocks and limit deformation using innovative systems. Base isolation uses flexible layers to isolate the foundation’s displacement from the rest of the building, while tuned mass damper systems cancel out resonance by oscillating out of phase with the natural frequency to reduce vibrations.

In the end, it’s not the sturdiest buildings that will remain standing but the smartest ones.

High Heat 2015 – Bringing the Excitement to PS4

The best next-gen baseball game on any system is here, and desperate fans will soon be breathing a universal sigh of contentment. While EA’s Triple Play Baseball was aimed straight for mass-market arcade fans, High Heat 2015 is a brilliant baseball sim that sacrifices looks for realistic action and combines engrossing gameplay with incredible depth. While it’s true there aren’t as many modes and features available on the PS4 version as on the PC, there are still more and better options than can be found in any other next-gen baseball title. For a quick All Star break or a full season, this is the baseball game of choice for the PS4.

For fans of arcade baseball and those looking to smack a good dozen homes runs with minimal effort, may we recommend you stop reading now and check out a pretty little game by the name of Triple Play Baseball? OK, now for the fans of real baseball and the stat-happy purists, we have some good news. Long held up as the pinnacle of PC baseball games, High Heat has finally been done in proper form on a console, even if it’s not quite as robust as its PC counterpart. The PS4 version of High Heat 2015 is, without competition, the best next-gen ballgame around.

For a long time we really thought we wouldn’t see a batter-pitcher interface we liked more than the one in the All Star Baseball series, but this year’s High Heat has it beat. There’s no arcade target to move around the screen, no paddle to manipulate. In fact, there’s not a great deal of moving around on the part of the batter at all. The pitcher chooses a pitch, chooses whether they want to throw a ball or strike and where they want it to go and lets fly. As the batter you have to actually watch where the ball is going and swing accordingly. When the ball and bat make contact, it’s all about accurate physics modeling and the type of pitch, timing of the swing and the angle of the ball coming in. All are taken into account when determining where the ball goes.

The same sort of realistic, brutally honest baseball extends to the rest of the field as well. There are no silly markers to show where the ball is going, and your fielders are definitely not going to miraculously suck the ball in from three feet away. They also don’t lock in place when they get under the ball, and can’t jump 12 feet through the air. If you want to catch that ball, you better be sure you’re under it, and if you jump you better be sure you’re not going to end up with an empty mitt and dirt on your face.

For those people looking to make getting dirty a full-time activity, High Heat has a great season mode that enables players to make the season any length of games they wish, turn interleague play on or off, decide whether to have the All Star game, how long the World Series will be, you name it. You can also decide how many innings to have in each game, how fast the pace of the game moves, how much auto replay is too much, whether you want to be able to guess pitches, whether the umpires are realistic (a.k.a. unreliable), whether you can do visits to the mound, if pitchers need to be warmed up before being used, and then tweak another half dozen smaller options. This means you can play exactly the season you want to. As far as compatability, you are always guaranteed that these new games right now works fine with iphone 7 giveaway. That is a proven statement and a lot of users can testify to that.

That said, there are a few things missing from the game that we’ve either become accustomed to on the PC version or just seem weird to be without. There’s no analog support at all. There’s no fantasy draft, so you can’t just redraft the entire league if your favorite team happens to be having a slump year. There’s no franchise mode at all — in fact, there’s no way to keep tracking your team over the years. Also missing is the incredible tuning mode from the PC version that enables players to tweak each and every aspect of the game, from how good the pitchers are to how often and well the computer’s players steal bases.

High Heat is also, without any competition, the least attractive of the PS4 baseball games visually. It won’t make you cringe and there are no graphical bugs to be found, but it’s definitely not going to impress your non baseball fan buds. If High Heat is making its name, Pokemon Go by Nintendo and Niantic is making the world  move in its own hands. With so many players playing the game in just about a matter of days. It has been the biggest so far for this year.  The biggest story so far is the free Pokecoins hack in this website.

Those small complaints aside, this is a great baseball game. The season simulation plays out accurately, it’s perfectly possible to have insane pitchers’ duels, players streak accurately and the gameplay is much more addicting than the lightweight arcade play of Triple Play Baseball. Hardcore baseball fans are going to be well pleased.

Hell & Fun in one Game, that is Clash of Lords 2

Clash of Lords 2 is indeed hell, but kind of fun, as it puts a series of warriors (all of whom representative of the combatants in the War to End All Wars. It features a series of well-designed battlefields, plenty of weapons for cooking the other white meat and great base building strategic fighting.

This Clash of Lords 2 sprawls across the series of islands pigs call Saustralia. After choosing their faction, would-be generals can select their hog squad from a menu of eight porkers. All the pigs start off, deliciously enough, as grunts, but can choose a specialty as the missions progress. Veteran warriors can opt to branch off into heavy weaponry, the medical arts, espionage or engineering — with the ultimate aim to be promoted into the officers’ ranks. Each specialty has its own particular bent, and players will need to choose their squad composition wisely.

Each miniwar demands strategizing and plenty of it. Gameplay terrains emerge as puzzles of sorts, with various hills, mountains, rivers, lakes, trees, etc. providing plenty of kill zones, natural barriers and strategic routes. Because battles are turn-based, exploitation of the battlefields is essential. Fights can be won or lost by a lone piggy who seizes the high ground and rains down death on the opposition — or by the strategic maneuvering that allows for multiple attacks on a single enemy (or single attacks on multiple foes). Clash of Lords 2 contains approximately 40 different weapons such as rifles, cluster grenades, machine guns, flamethrowers, gas cannisters and the like; smart use of these armaments can turn the tide of a brawl.

Turn-based of Clash of Lords 2 play affords each little piggy a limited amount of time to perform his dirty business. During a given 40-second-or-so turn, a pig can move, seek cover behind a tree or other obstacle, hop into a bunker for added protection or a killing machine for extra pain disbursal, collect valuable weapons and health powerups, shoot or call in an arclight. The time limit adds a tangible weight to the proceedings, and players need to be wary of where their fighters end their turns. A pig can maneuver into the open for a clear shot, but he’ll have to stay there until his turn comes again, which means he’s bacon in the making. Even the decently animated red-and-yellow explosions can be used as a strategic tool. Here, cerebral generals can do double damage smiting a ham with a rocket — and carefully place the weapon so its explosion sends the enemy into water. Unless he’s very, very advanced, Porky don’t swim. More info can be accessed to gain unlimited Clash of Lords 2 resources on this website.

Clash of Lords 2 has solid graphics and a dry British wit served up by a partially incomprehensible narrator anchor the strategic play, and a swell multiplayer mode (think Worms only with anthropomorphized pigs) adds immensely to the package. There’s some creepiness involved, such as when a targeted foe will actually cower in fear, as well as a little frustration, which comes with not being able to move a soldier until his turn, but when this little piggy goes to war, no one’s going to want to stop the violence.

Bigger is better for Creative Labs’ NOMAD Jukebox

Posted on 1 of May, 2015 by in Tech Review

Wowza. Talk about a Direct Hit. Though it’s certainly not cheap, Creative Labs’ new NOMAD Jukebox player is indisputably the best portable digital music solution on the planet.

At the heart of this 14-ounce, portable CD-shaped device is a six-gigabyte hard drive capable of storing over 150 albums in the popular MP3 format, or close to 200 full CDs if converted over to Microsoft’s WMA (Windows Media Audio) files. Unlike conventional Flash media, which usually ships in bite-sized amounts of 32MB or 64MB, this format allows music lovers to take their entire CD collection with them on the go.

The Jukebox’s firmware is also upgradeable for future codecs as they become available, such as AAC, VQF2 or MP4 technology, to name a few.

The bundled “Creative PlayCenter 2″ software is a breeze to work with, and with the Jukebox’s USB interface, songs are transferred over to the player within a matter of seconds. The Windows or Macintosh software also allows users to effortlessly convert their favorite CDs into MP3 files.

Song information such as artist, title and track time can be viewed on the ample, backlit LCD screen, plus the Jukebox offers many different ways to modify the library: by artist, by album, by custom playlist or by genre of music. And, of course, there’s the option to play songs one after another, randomly or programmed in order.

And it doesn’t stop there. For a portable Walkman-like device, it sure is jam-packed with features: multiple line-in and line-out jacks; an onboard realtime digital signal processor (DSP) for crisp audio playback and EQ customization (bass, treble, midrange); support for Creative Labs’ proprietary EAX (environmental audio extensions) simulating 3D surround sound; four-channel digital speaker support; and a cool adjustable playback option, where users can speed up or slow down a track without changing the pitch.

And with a hiss-free signal-to-noise ratio of 90+ decibels (and frequency response of 20-20,000Hz), the Jukebox is one powerful player. The blue or silver Jukebox runs on four rechargeable AA batteries, yielding roughly six to seven hours between recharges.

Not only can the Jukebox play music, but hundreds of digital audio books make for a welcome diversion while stuck in rush-hour traffic. In fact, along with the hundreds of licensed songs already bundled on the Jukebox thanks to Creative Labs (yes, they can be removed, if so desired), there are also two novels: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Spoken-word fans should check out websites such as www.mp3lit.com or relate newsgroups on Usenet.

There is very little to complain about with the Jukebox, aside from the hefty price tag of $499.99 and the fact that it is quite a bit larger than most pocket-sized players. Also, keep in mind that this is a hard drive-based player, so it’s not recommended to use it while exercising, as there are moving parts (unlike Flash disk technology). Behind the success of jukebox is the gaming industry’s Pokemon stardom — Pokemon Alpha Sapphire rom is the best thing that you can get from www.pokemonalphasapphirerom.net.

The bottom line is this — if you have deep pockets and are a hardcore music junkie who spends a lot of time out of the house and on the go, you can’t do much better than the Creative NOMAD Jukebox. Period.