The ultra popular Arena of Valor finally launches in North and South America

  • Arena of Valor, a game with over 80 million players in China, launches in North and South America today.
  • The game is a MOBA and pits teams of five against each other.
  • There will be eSports leagues and competitions for the game.

One of the most popular games in the world is finally launching in the Americas. Arena of Valor is a MOBA from Tencent Gaming that has been all the rage in China. It has 200 million registered players with over 80 million daily active users— all using their mobile devices to play the game.

Arena of Valor, or Honor of Kings as its known in native China, pits teams of five heroes against each other in a bid to take over each others’ bases. If the game reminds you of League of Legends, you’re onto something. Arena of Valor is developed by Tencent Games, who owns Riot Gaming— the makers of League of Legends.

See also

The game is making some changes as it crosses the pond. It’s dropping the Chinese-specific parts of the game for more Western aspects. The in-game heroes are now more appealing to Western audiences instead of the original Chinese versions. Additionally, Facebook is used to log in, rather than WeChat. These changes are in an effort to appeal to a wider audience— something that other Chinese games in the past have failed to do. 

To hype the title, Tencent is creating an eSports league for competitive play. It is also partnering with streamers on Twitch to promote it. eSports has exploded around the world where Twitch streams can top a million viewers for popular competitions. Tencent hopes to tap into that trend and show audiences that eSports can be mobile games too.

See also: PC smash hit PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds coming to mobile 

This isn’t the first launch outside of China for Valor. The game is available in Europe and has accumulated about 2 million downloads since August. If you’re in North or South America and interested in trying the game out for yourself, you can hit the button below to download it. 

get it from google play

How to get into great shape with a fitness tracker in just 7 minutes… a day

For many, the reality of owning a fitness tracker doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Maybe it just quietly counts your steps without actually having impact on your fitness. Maybe you stopped wearing it after the first couple of weeks. They say “that which is measured, improves,” but in my experience you also have to actually do something in order to see results.

The problem is not lack of will or a poor metabolism. It comes down to time. You’re busy. We all are!

Fortunately, I’m the Android guy who believes he can get anything done in just 7 minutes. And I can. Just ask my wife.

Here’s how to get in shape by using your fitness tracker for just 7 minutes (per day).

The theory

Fitness trackers are much more than just step counters. They can carefully monitor athletic performance, health and fitness, and feed you the raw data you need to transform your physique. This kind of technology was once the reserved for professional athletes, so it’s almost criminal not to use it to its fullest.

This kind of technology was once the reserve of professional athletes

First, it’s important to define our goals. My promise here was that you would be able to “get into great shape.” By that, I mean fitter and healthier, leaner, and more athletic. Lofty aims for 7 minutes, but I’m sure we can achieve it.

Next we need to create an athletic profile based on your current stats, so we know what to aim for. This is where the use of technology will first come in very handy.

Editor’s Pick

We are going to work on your ‘lactate inflection point’ or ‘lactate threshold’ (essentially, your anaerobic threshold). This is the point at which your body switches to an anaerobic state, where you tax your body so much that your aerobic system can’t deliver energy fast enough. In other words, burning fat and bringing it to the muscle is taking too long and so your body has no option other than to burn sugar from elsewhere. During anaerobic exercise we switch to the lactic acid system, which uses blood sugar and glycolysis to provide us with usable energy (ATP).

This is the central concept behind High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT uses short bursts of intense activity, followed by short periods of relative recovery. That could mean sprinting for a minute, then jogging slowly for a minute, then sprinting for a minute again. This forces the body to switch between its aerobic and its anaerobic systems, so that one moment you are burning fat and the next moment you are burning glucose from your blood.

Fitbit Ionic review

Switching to an anaerobic state is highly beneficial for weight loss and performance because it removes the stored glucose in your muscles and blood, forcing your body to subsequently burn more fat. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘afterburn effect’ and studies show it results in greater fat loss over time.

The lactate inflection point is also the point at which your body starts to increase in acidity (due to an increase in hydrogen ions), resulting in the ‘burn’. This is what keeps you from remaining in an anaerobic state and forces you back to the ‘cleaner’ aerobic state.

“Anaerobic threshold training” will help you to increase your threshold and your body’s ability to use lactate as a fuel source, so you can run faster and longer. It can even improve your tolerance in this state, allowing you to go all out for longer. A highly trained athlete may be able to sustain activity at 90 percent of their maximum heart rate.

See also: Best GPS running watches | Garmin vívosport review

HIIT also has a host of other benefits. It increases your VO2 Max, the volume of oxygen you can use during a workout, which in turn can be used to predict athletic performance; mitochondrial density, the number of energy producing units in your cells; and brain power. Some recent studies even suggest it can help to turn back the clock and rejuvenate damaged cells.

Some recent studies even suggest that HIIT workouts can help to turn back the clock and rejuvenate damaged cells.

A lot of people use HIIT but don’t actually enter an anaerobic state, so they aren’t getting the most out of it. It’s kind of the whole point of HIIT. By using your fitness tracker to calculate and then monitor your state this way though, it’s possible to maximize the results from a much shorter workout.

A 7 minute workout, in fact.

You’ll get all those benefits, including increased weight loss, better athletic performance, and anti-aging, in just that short amount of time.

The 30 minute test

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Grab your Fitbit, Garmin, or whatever else, and get ready for the 30 minute test. Ideally, you want the most accurate heart rate tracking possible, so I recommend using an external heart rate monitor from a brand like Polar. If you haven’t got one, a wrist worn tracker will do for now.

The 30 minute test involves running, cycling or anything else aerobic as fast as possible for a full, uninterrupted 30 minutes. Yes, it’s pretty brutal. Make sure to set the lap button on your tracking device to 10 minutes and then stop after 30 minutes.

The average heart rate for the last 20 minutes is going to be your LTHR, or your Lactate Threshold Heart Rate. This is your heart rate at the lactate inflection point. It’s the most you can sustain for a prolonged period. Therefore, this is the heart rate you are aiming for during your training.

It’s not a perfect test, but many trainers use it to decent effect. You’ll need to make sure that you re-measure about once every 6 weeks as your threshold improves.

Keep in mind this is a tough workout and it’s only advisable for those that already have a base level of fitness. If you have any concerns about your health, consult a doctor first. If you just don’t want to go through the test, you can roughly estimate your lactate threshold at around 70 or 80 percent of your MHR, depending on your fitness level.

The 7 minute workout

With this in mind, we can now begin our 7 minute workout. The aim is to spend as much time as possible above our lactate threshold.

I recommend choosing a form of ‘resistance cardio’ to use for your exercise. Running can be counterproductive for this, as it takes 7 minutes just to put on your shoes and leave the house. What’s more, choosing resistance cardio (a form of cardio where you’re pushing or pulling against resistance) will tone and firm up muscle while burning fat. This will lead to greater fat burning in the long term, seeing as muscle is more metabolically active than fat. Toning is as important as fat burning – if not more – when it comes to body recomposition.

Not only that, but using resistance allows you to reach your anaerobic threshold quicker, because it takes more energy to complete the movements. Finally, it will protect your muscles against being cannibalized for fuel (BCAAs can help with that too).

More: How to use your fitness tracker to get fit – a comprehensive guide

A great option is to use battle ropes. These are heavy ropes which you can beat against the ground in order to tone muscle in the shoulders and arms while burning fat. Kettlebell swings are also fantastic and will help to build your posterior chain for explosive power. Switching between the two could give more of a full-body workout, and make the heart work harder too.

This is the routine you will follow to begin with:

  • 30 second warm up
  • 1 minute fast
  • 30 seconds recovery
  • 30 seconds fast
  • 1 minute recovery
  • 30 seconds fast
  • 1 minute recovery
  • 30 seconds fast
  • 1 minute recovery
  • 30 second cool down

Constantly check your fitness tracker to make sure you’re really hitting that zone and going above it (most people can sustain effort above their LTHR for about 20-40 seconds). You can watch your wrist to ensure you’re actually reaching that point and set heart rate zones on many devices in order to be alerted when entering and exiting that state.

This workout will change over time, and you’ll spend more and more time in your LTHR. As you get more confident, you can also reduce your recovery periods. It’s worth retesting your LTHR about once every 6 weeks.

Don’t worry if you don’t like my workout, there are plenty of HIIT workouts out there – in fact there are plenty of 7 minute HIIT workouts right on the Play Store.

For those with more than 7 minutes to train, this form of exercise works excellently at the end of your regular routine. You can use it at the end of a workout in order to add cardio benefit and lean up without damaging muscle gains.

If you don’t like my workout, there are plenty of other HIIT workouts out there – in fact there are plenty of 7 minute HIIT workouts right on the Play Store. It’s down to you to ensure you’re working hard enough.

Losing weight

This routine is all well and good, but doesn’t guarantee weight loss. Calories in and out are a huge factor in this. If you consume more calories than you burn (called a calorie ‘surplus’), you gain weight. If you burn more than you consume (called a ‘deficit’), you lose weight.

If you use this 7 minute HIIT workout daily but you also increase the amount you eat threefold, then it’s not going to help you lose weight. If you make sure that you are eating less than you burn during the day—taking the HIIT into account—you’ll lose weight.

There are other strategies to this, like fasting to ramp up your metabolism, but the easiest and most practical strategy is just to lower your food intake.

Fortunately, the device on your wrist can keep track of precisely how many calories you are burning and the one in your pocket for can keep track of how many you are taking in. That way you can ensure all the hard work pays off in the abs department.

You have a device on your wrist that you can use in order to know precisely how many calories you are burning and one in your pocket for how many you are taking in

My Fitness Pal will allow you to log all the calories you consume simply by scanning bar codes or entering the values manually (found on the back of the packaging). Regular items will be available from a handy list so you don’t need to keep scanning them. Once you’ve used it for a few days, it gets much quicker. Quick tip: dieting is a lot easier when you maintain somewhat consistent eating habits. This way, there are fewer confounding variables.

Syncing My Fitness Pal with Garmin Connect, S Health, or other apps will help you see a log of all the calories going in and coming out. If your 7 minute workout was intense enough, you might find that you manage to maintain that deficit without making any drastic lifestyle changes. Otherwise, walk a little extra, eat a little less, and use your devices to keep tabs on it all.

Wrapping up

A fitness tracker can be much more than just a fancy pedometer. Let me know in the comments down below how you’ve been using yours to stay in shape.

Huawei confirms its phones will be sold by US carriers in 2018, starting with Mate 10

  • Huawei exec Richard Yu stated its phones will be “competitively priced” in the US market.
  • He added that Huawei does not expect to deal with security concerns in the US.
  • More information on the Huawei US carrier launch will be revealed at CES 2018.

After months of rumors and unconfirmed reports, the massive China-based phone company Huawei has finally and officially revealed that some of its handsets will be sold by US wireless carriers, starting sometime in 2018. The first such phone will be in its Mate 10 family of devices.

Editor’s Pick

The report comes from ABC News, quoting Richard Yu, the president of Huawei Technologies’ consumer business. He stated, “We will sell our flagship phone, our product, in the U.S. market through carriers next year.” The Mate 10, and its higher-end brother, the Mate 10 Pro, went on sale in China and other markets earlier this fall. Previous rumors claimed that the Mate 10 Pro would be sold by AT&T and Verizon in 2018. Yu did not state specifics on which carriers would sell its phones, but he did reveal that more information on those sales plans will be announced in early January during CES 2018.

While Huawei has sold phones under its own name and with its Honor brand in the US as unlocked devices online, breaking into the US carrier market could be huge for the company. Huawei is currently the number three seller of smartphones worldwide, trailing behind only Apple and Samsung. Yu stated today that the company’s phones, as sold by carriers, would be “competitively priced” in the US market.

He also added that Huawei does not expect its plans to be hit by security concerns by the US government. Some lawmakers and agencies have expressed concerns in the past that Chinese-based smartphone companies like Huawei could use those devices to spy on consumers. Today, Yu denied that would be the case, and suggested that those kinds of complaints were either politically motivated, or perhaps generated by its competitors.

Netgear Orbi RBK50

Fiddling around with technology that doesn’t work makes me very nervous. On the plus side I am then mighty pleased when I finally get everything working. And so I am happy to report that after fiddling I managed to dramatically improve the WiFi reception in my home by installing a Netgear Orbi RBK50.

For the last few years I have been using a Linksys EA7500 WiFi router. That worked, but in spite of the promises on the box about covering a “medium household”, WiFi reception in my den was always feeble. The den is only two rooms away from the office with the router, but the room between is the bathroom, and so there is one tiled wall without an opening in the way. That appears to block the signal quite drastically, so it takes the long way around. It was okay for web surfing, but not ideal for things like Netflix streaming. And then I bought the Switch. The Switch has one major drawback regarding Wifi, in that it has the world worst WiFi antenna. When your tablet shows 2 bars instead of 3, the Switch already can’t find any signal at all any more. So I had to move the Switch next to the base station every time I wanted to download something. Time for an upgrade.

I surfed the internet for recommendations (which also told me that Linksys routers aren’t considered to be very good) and found that a lot of people liked the Netgear Orbi. Just to make sure I took the RBK50 system, which has both a base station and one satellite for range extension. I had tried a Linksys extender, which had worked to some degree, but failed to use the same SSID as the base station as promised on the box. With Netgear Orbi there was no problem. I could put the satellite in the den, and it would still get a good signal from the base station and then enhance it. So now I have 75 Mbit/s WiFi connection everywhere in my home! Even the Switch shows three bars of WiFi connection.

The fiddling was necessary to get my printers working, which didn’t like the Orbi switching to a completely new IP gateway address. So I had to change the Orbi to access point mode, which then mysteriously messed up everything and I had to factory reset my main router as well as the Orbi system to get everything working again. It is still a mystery to me why everything goes fast on a computer, except for network connections: Every time you reset a router or network card, it takes several minutes to establish a network.

Anyway, everything is working now, and at 15 times the speed necessary for Netflix HD streaming (or 3 times the speed for Netflix Ultra HD streaming, which I don’t have the Netflix streaming plan for). Which means that both me and my wife can stream video without a download on the computer slowing down by much. Nice!

Core-PHP vs FrameWorks-in-PHP

PHP can be considered more as a revolution in the web development arena. Beginning with scripting of simple web pages, PHP today has evolved into a language that powers almost 60% of the web. Well, it has been extensively modified to develop frameworks and content management systems to ease the tasks of developers. Essentially, frameworks have some pre-coded functionalities that developers require on a regular basis and content management systems are built with the end user in mind.
We assume that Core PHP means solving a Mathematical problem by using paper and pen. Frame work means solving Mathematical problem by using a calculator.

Core PHP-Solving Mathematical Problem

Only some students can achieve results by using paper and pen as same as in PHP. Only a few of the developers can write the code in an easy way and reliable format.
Core PHP uses the PHP script in its purest form. A developer needs to know the language thoroughly in order to write a clear and concise code using core PHP. Only the experts can write flawless and reliable code using its core form.

Framework – Solving Mathematical problem

Everyone can achieve the result by using the calculator as same as in PHP. Even beginners can write the code in easy way and reliable format.
Frameworks are basically time savers. They have a rich set of functionalities available so that the developer does not have to embed the same code again and again. These frameworks generally have a fixed set of rules and hence the code can be passed on from one developer to another without any hassles. 
In core PHP one developer may not be able to read another developer’s code that easily. Frameworks on the other hand provide consistency in the code and are big time savers when the project needs to be handled by several developers at the same time. Frameworks rarely allow you to write bad code. This ensures less time in debugging and helps you deliver your project faster.
Frameworks Advantages:
  • Framework introduces an extra layer to wrap your business code which in turn provides better manageability and easily workability in teams. If you take an example of any MVC( Model-View-Controller)framework; you can understand that the teams can separately work on Model, Views and controller part. ORM (Object-relational mapping) provides easy scalability.
  • A framework gives you some tools and function to make it easier for yourself. For example the database seeds, the form request classes, the migrations, and so on.
  • In framework everything come as set of predefined codes, helpers, libraries. So, you don’t have to write your own pagination, security code or integrate someone else’s pagination, security scripts. Framework follow specific standard which makes the codes more organized. Besides, frameworks have organized MVC pattern that separate your code into 3 categories, excluding the probability of code.
  • Framework is better because almost everything is provided, you need to write less code and there is less to worry about.
  • Frameworks usually have security classes in the core. Some methods of Input class have flags to clean XSS from _POST or other global array.

Disadvantages:
  • You need to learn more as there is a specific learning curve for specific frameworks.
  • Frameworks are slower than core PHP code.

Core PHP code Advantages:
  • Core PHP offers you a lot of freedom a lot of space for imagination and invention.
  • If code is small; going with procedural PHP/Core PHP is good idea.

Disadvantages:
  • You need to write lots of code that may already be written.
  • There is more to consider about, like security (SQL Injection, XSS), organization of code, separation of business logic, view etc., (that frameworks already do it for you).
Enhance Projects
Everyone wants to move into sophisticated technologies. If any website or web applications have developed in Core PHP, it is difficult to enhance the website components, but if website or web applications has developed in Frame Work PHP, it is very easy to enhance the features.
Lets see some of the widely used PHP Frameworks:

1.Laravel

According to Sitepoint’s recent online survey it is the most popular framework among developers. Laravel has a huge ecosystem with an instant hosting and deployment platform, and its official website offers many screencast tutorials called Laracasts.
Laravel has many features that make rapid application development possible. Laravel has its own light-weight templating engine called “Blade”, elegant syntax that facilitates tasks you frequently need to do, such as authentication, sessions, queueing, caching and RESTful routing. Laravel also includes a local development environment called Homestead that is a packaged Vagrant box.

2.Symfony 

Symfony is a flexible, scalable yet powerful PHP frameworks for MVC application. There are plenty of reusable PHP components that can can be used like Security, Templating, Translation, Validator, Form Config and more. Like Laravel, it’s alss modularize with Composer. Its goal is to make your web application creation and maintenance faster with less repetitive coding.

3.CodeIgniter 

CodeIgniter is a lightweight PHP framework that is initially released in 2006. CodeIgniter has a very straightforward installation process that requires only a minimal configuration, so it can save you a lot of hassle. It’s also an ideal choice if you want to avoid PHP version conflict, as it works nicely on almost all shared and dedicated hosting platforms.
CodeIgniter is not strictly based on the MVC development pattern. Using Controller classes is a must, but Models and Views are optional, and you can use your own coding and naming conventions, evidence that CodeIgniter gives great freedom to developers. If you download it, you’ll see it’s only about 2MB, so it’s a lean framework, but it allows you to add third-party plugins if you need more complicated functionalities.

4.CakePHP 

CakePHP is a PHP framework that support version 4 and above. It is easy to learn with fast and flexible templating. The integrated CRUD (create, read, update and delete) is a handy feature in CakePHP for your database interaction. It also has various built-in feature for security, email, session, cookie and request handling.

5.Yii 2

Yii is a generic Web programming framework, meaning that it can be used for developing all kinds of Web applications using PHP. Because of its component-based architecture and sophisticated caching support, it is especially suitable for developing large-scale applications such as portals, forums, content management systems (CMS), e-commerce projects, RESTful Web services, and so on.
Yii is a full-stack framework providing many proven and ready-to-use features: query builders and ActiveRecord for both relational and NoSQL databases; RESTful API development support; multi-tier caching support; and more.

5. Phalcon

The Phalcon framework was released in 2012, and it quickly gained popularity among PHP developers. Phalcon is said to be fast as a falcon, because it was written in C and C++ to reach the highest level of performance optimization possible. Good news is that you don’t have to learn the C language, as the functionality is exposed as PHP classes that are ready to use for any application.
As Phalcon is delivered as a C-extension, its architecture is optimized at low levels which significantly reduces the overhead typical of MVC-based apps. Phalcon not only boosts execution speeds, but also decreases resource usage. Phalcon is also packed with many cool features such as a universal auto-loader, asset management, security, translation, caching, and many others. As it’s a well-documented and easy-to-use framework.

6.Slim

Slim is a lightweight micro-framework for PHP inspired by Sinatra, a Ruby framework. It has a tiny size without overkill learning curve. It’s built with incredible routing system and focuses on RESTful API with all HTTP methods (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE) supports. To use it, you need at least has a PHP version of 5.2+.

7.Zend

Zend Framework is a scalable and full featured object-oriented PHP framework.It has an online training and certification which make it popular and used by plenty of enterprise organizations. With its OOP (object-oriented programming) and design patterns consistency, you can easily extend custom classes and use only what you need.

8.Nette

The Nette Framework is another player in the world of php web application frameworks – but like most others, it has its right to be here. It comes with great and powerful features, and makes life easier for web developers. Nette uses revolutionary technology that eliminates security holes and their misuse, such as XSS, CSRF, session hijacking, session fixation, etc.
Nette is modern php framework which supports  AJAX / AJAJ, Dependency Injection, SEO, DRY, KISS , MVC, Web 2.0, cool URL

Want to learn Web Technologies?

Samsung Galaxy A8 and A8 Plus announced: Sleek, selfie-focused mid-rangers

Samsung just announced its new mid-range phones, the Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018).

Replacing the 2017 Galaxy A lineup, the Galaxy A8 and Galaxy A8 Plus feature attractive specs and a design that is inspired by the Galaxy S series. The coolest feature is the dual front cameras, which feature f 1.9 lenses and portrait mode.

A simpler naming scheme

In recent years, Samsung has released several popular phones in the mid range as part of the A series. The naming convention for these devices – Galaxy A3, Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 – conflicted with the way Samsung names its most important devices, the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series.

With the 2018 generation, Samsung has renamed the Galaxy A5 to Galaxy A8 (2018) and the Galaxy A7 to Galaxy A8 Plus (2018).

We don’t know for now what happened to the Galaxy A3. Did Samsung kill it? Will it be folded in the Galaxy J series?

Front-facing dual cameras

The Galaxy A8 and A8 Plus are the first Samsung phones with dual front cameras. These mid-rangers beat out the flagships to the punch, though dual front cameras have been a fixture on mid-range phones from other manufacturers.

The cameras feature f 1.9 lenses – basically, the lower the number the better – so they should give your selfie nice background blurs.

One of the cameras is 16MP, and the other one 8MP. Samsung says you can switch between them to get the type of shot you like, which makes it sound like they have different widths of angle.

Portrait modes are all the rage, and the Galaxy A8 and Galaxy A8 Plus are jumping on the bandwagon. You can take selfies and adjust the amount of blur in the background, before and after taking the image – this feature is called Live Focus and we’ve seen it before on the rear dual camera of the Galaxy Note 8.

You also get stickers and a beauty mode to spice up your self-portraits.

Familiar design, competent specs

The new Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) look a lot like Samsung’s 2017 devices, mixing a smooth glass back with a metallic chassis and the 18.5:9 display form factor.

They are available in black, orchid grey, gold and blue.

The Galaxy A8 features a 5.6-inch Full HD+ (“+” denoting it’s an 18.5:9 panel), while the A8 Plus goes up to 6 inches, but keeps the same resolution.

The two phones share most of the key specs, including the cameras (16 MP PDAF f 1.7 on the back), an octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32/64GB of storage.

The smaller A8 features a 3,000 mAh battery. The A8 Plus gets an excellent 3,500 mAh – that’s the same as the much pricier Galaxy S8 Plus.

Both phones feature fingerprint sensors (placed below the rear camera), USB Type-C, Samsung Pay (with MST, so you can use them on older points of sale), and IP68 water and dust resistance.

Comparing the Galaxy A8 to the current generation

Compared to the 2017 Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7, the Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) offer updated designs that follow the Galaxy S series (much smaller bezels, fingerprint sensor is now on the back), as well as improvements to the processor, RAM and memory.

The biggest new feature is the dual front camera. The screens are also larger, though the actual size of the phone is almost unchanged. That’s probably why the battery capacity remained roughly the same.

Samsung Galaxy A8 and A8 Plus price and availability

You will be able to buy the Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) starting from January. That’s the only detail that Samsung has revealed so far, but we expect to learn more at CES Las Vegas, when we’ll also go our hands on these two phones.

If the price of previous phones in the A series is any indication, the new A8 and A8 Plus will cost in the $350-$450 range, depending on the market.

Thoughts on the new Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018)?

5 Holiday Tips on How Not to Get Arrested in New York City

This is just common sense stuff, but let’s review it anyway, shall we?

 

 

5 Holiday Tips On How Not To Get Arrested In NYC

Many people come to New York City for the holidays. … it, smoking marijuana in public is not legal. Personal possession has been decriminalized, but that doesn’t mean you can smoke it in public. Never smoke a joint on the streets of NYC. You risk being arrested …

 

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Trump’s Bizarre Love Affair With Putin Deepens: What Is He Hiding?

A Washington Post feature on Trump’s Russia fixation is oddly credulous: Is wounded pride really the issue here?

On Thursday, The Washington Post published a long article about how Donald Trump is dealing with Russia as president. It wasn’t exactly reassuring. The reason is not that he’s poised to start a war, as he seems to be with North Korea, but that he’s giving away the store to the other side. It’s disturbing because Trump doesn’t seem to be capable of even thinking about America’s relationship with Russia like a president at all. He gets so upset by the investigation into election interference and his subsequent actions that intelligence briefers reportedly don’t mention it as a priority, slipping it into the written material — which he’s said in the past he doesn’t need to read — or sliding it far down the list of items of concern to avoid provoking his ire.

The upshot is that the president isn’t able to focus on relations with Russia at a time when it couldn’t be more important to do so. Trump’s insistence that there was no election interference has taken on the character of a bizarre fixation that is inhibiting the rest of the government from doing its job. And it seems nobody has a clue what to do about it.

The article is full of interesting details about the inner workings of Trump’s national security team and how they deal with this mercurial boss.  For instance, he once assumed his highly qualified Russia expert Fiona Hill (the co-author of a major biography of Vladimir Putin) was a clerical worker. Trump asked her to retype a memo, became angry when she seemed confused by the order and demanded that national security adviser H.R. McMaster reprimand her — which, astonishingly, he did.

But then, none of that should be too surprising. Trump is no more respectful of world leaders with whom he doesn’t feel that personal kinship. He reportedly got bored in the middle of a briefing about Angela Merkel and went into the bathroom, leaving the door open and telling his aides to speak up while he primped in front of the mirror. We all saw his refusal to shake Merkel’s hand in front of the press and this derisive tweet from a couple of years ago:

He apparently doesn’t consider her an equal on par with strongmen like Putin or China’s Xi Jinping, both of whom he shows a deference that verges on obsequiousness.

The article is a portrait of a man-child, so deeply over his head that you wonder if he isn’t literally going to hold his breath until he turns blue before it’s all over. In that sense, it tracks with the recent New York Times article that depicted Trump tweeting from his pillow in the morning, wandering around in his bathrobe, drinking two six packs of Diet Coke and watching up to eight hours of cable news a day.

After reading both of these articles, you get the sense that somebody in the White House has decided that the best defense against charges that Trump colluded with Russia is for people to believe that he behaves as he does because he’s a narcissistic simpleton who can’t deal with the fact that he didn’t win the popular vote. While that description may be accurate, it doesn’t let him off the hook.

The Post’s reporters vaguely examine the possibility that there could be some blackmail material or kompromat hanging out there, or that Trump has some serious financial exposure somewhere in his past. But the article primarily relies on his aides’ portrayal of him as someone who believes in the power of his personality to bond with Vladimir Putin, and believes that together they will solve the world’s problems.

Furthermore, the authors seem to take at face value the assertion that Trump’s insistence that the Russians played no part in the election is because “the idea that he’s been put into office by Vladi­mir Putin is pretty insulting.” Trump is essentially depicted as a juvenile egomaniac who lacks the capacity or imagination to have done anything as sophisticated as collude with a foreign country.

This is spin that I often see reporters and pundits regurgitate on TV, as if this can all be explained away by the proposition that Trump is a buffoon who is constantly frustrated by people saying he didn’t really win. But this fails to account for all the sucking up he did toward Putin during in the campaign and his continued inability to say a bad word about him ever since. It’s not as if Trump is usually at a loss for a well-timed insult.

It also fails to account for the fact that Trump has shown not even minimal interest in doing a “deal” with Russia that would benefit the United States. While he repeatedly insults our allies and crudely demands that they pay protection in return for the U.S. living up to its treaties and commitments, he asked for nothing from Putin in return for lifting sanctions and putting up barriers to NATO expansion, other than a vague promise that everyone “gets along.”

The idea that Putin is the only man on earth Trump sees as a partner in bringing peace on earth just doesn’t pass the smell test. That the self-anointed master negotiator has not seized the opportunity to use the knowledge we have about election interference as a bargaining chip, and instead seems inclined to grant Putin his wish list for nothing in return, does not give one much confidence.

Trump lies about everything, so there is no reason to take him at his word on any of this. Of course he is upset about the Russia investigation, and of course it bothers him that people might think he didn’t legitimately win the election. But it’s hardly likely that he behaves this way because he’s an innocent man. In fact, it’s ludicrous. Everything we know about him suggests the opposite.

Whether it’s about Trump’s past financial exposure or the rumored salacious kompromat or some agreement over dirt on Hillary Clinton or a big hotel deal, there is definitely more to this. He doesn’t act like a man who has been unjustly accused. He acts like a man who’s hiding something and thinks if he blusters and blames he can hide his guilt from his staff and even from himself. He can’t.

 

 

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Do You Do These 5 Things With Your Cellphone That Health Officials Say You Shouldn’t?

You don’t sleep with your phone—do you?

Radiation from your cellphone could be bad for more than just your mental health, California state health officials warn.

The California Department of Public Health has just released the first-ever guidelines on avoiding too much exposure to the radiation cellphones emit. State officials said one of the reasons for releasing the guidelines is that statistics show cellphone use is at an all-time high, with 95 percent of Americans using cellphones each day, Pew Research Center notes.

Perhaps another reason the guidelines are coming out now is due to pressure from researchers and others. Karen Smith, of the state health department, said there is widespread public concern over cellphone safety, according to a San Francisco CBS station.

Psychologist and UC Berkeley professor Joel Moskowitz sued the health department in 2009 for its refusal to release information on the risks of cellphone use to the public. He won the lawsuit this spring. “People are being injured and harmed by the delay in having this information accessible to them,” Moskowitz told San Francisco’s CBS News affiliate.

Potential Risks

Cellphone use may increase the risk of cancer, but the scientific evidence so far is inconclusive, mainly due to the relatively short period of time cellphones have been around.

Cellphone radiation could be harmful due to the type of radio waves the devices emit: non-ionizing radiation. Tissues close to phone antennas—which exist inside of every smartphone—can be heated by the radiation, as the FDA, American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute all recognize. When you hold your phone up to your head, those nearby tissues include your ears and brain.

Some studies have linked cellphone radiation exposure with brain tumors and other brain cancers, as the American Cancer Society acknowledges, but most studies have not shown conclusive evidence one way or another. Because cellphone use has only been widespread for a few years, as ACA notes, it is impossible for any study to conclude what the long-term health effects of exposure could be.

Higher levels of exposure to non-ionizing radiation are known to impact the health of human cells and DNA, but whether cellphones can expose us to those higher levels is a question researchers are still working to answer.

AlterNet ran an article by Christopher Ketcham in 2011 exploring the widespread reports of cellphones and WiFi making people and animals sick. For the first time in human history, Ketcham noted, people are being exposed to electromagnetic frequencies from cellphones, WiFi and digital meters 24 hours a day. He quotes David O. Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the State University of New York, who said, “Radiofrequency radiation has a number of biological effects which can be reproducibly found in animals and cellular systems. We really cannot say for certain what the adverse effects are in humans. But the indications are that there may be—and I use the words ‘may be’—very serious effects in humans.”

While the National Cancer Institute’s official stance is that cellphones likely do not emit high enough levels of radiation to affect human health, at least in the short term, its fact sheet on cellphone safety states: “Radiofrequency exposure from cellphone use does cause heating to the area of the body where a cellphone or other device is held (ear, head, etc.). However, it is not sufficient to measurably increase body temperature, and there are no other clearly established effects on the body from radiofrequency energy.”

Other research shows that cellular phones could potentially lower sperm count, cause headaches, and intefere with sleep, hearing and memory retention.

CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta warned in 2012 that the risks of cellphone radiation are largely unknown. See the video, below:

An Atlantic article from earlier this year notes that a study published in PLUS ONE concluded there is a “‘significant’ association between long-term mobile phone use and the risk of glioma,” a type of brain tumor.
“But the actual significance of the link is questionable,” the Atlantic piece states. “The data they used spanned 11 studies between 1980 and 2016, but the researchers themselves acknowledged the evidence is limited and much of the data is ‘poor quality.’ The biggest takeaway, then, may be their conclusion that more study is needed.”
 
As in the U.S., European health experts continue to argue over the potential risks of cellphone radiation amid lack of long-term studies. A large-scale cellphone health study, the COSMOS project, is currently working to track the phone usage and health of more than half a million people across Europe. The study began in 2007 and will continue for the next two to three decades.

The New Guidelines

Since the long-term risk of cellphone use is unknown, why not take some simple, commonsense steps to reduce radiation exposure just in case? This was the apparent thought process behind California’s new guidelines.

The risk of cellphone radiation exposure can increase or decrease exponentially based on some simple do’s and don’ts. It’s a matter of tweaking a few basic habits.

Here are five things not to do, according to the California guidelines for cellphone health, “How to Reduce Exposure to Radiofrequency Energy from Cellphones.”

1. Don’t hold your phone up to your ear.“Use the speakerphone or a headset instead,” because “wireless (Bluetooth) and wired headsets emit much less RF energy than cellphones.” The guidelines also suggest sending text messages rather than talking on the phone whenever possible.

2. Try not to use your phone if you’re in a fast-moving vehicle.“Your phone puts out more RF energy to maintain connections to avoid dropping calls as it switches connections from one cell tower to the next unless it is in airplane mode,” the guidelines state.

3. Avoid using your phone when you have one or two service bars showing.“Cellphones put out more RF energy to connect with cell towers when the signal is weak,” the guide notes.

4. Don’t carry your phone in your pocket, bra or holster close to your body.The guidelines suggest you carry it in a backpack, briefcase, purse or elsewhere, so that the device is kept several inches away from your body. A few inches can make a difference, it notes. Also, put phones on airplane mode when carrying them close as the devices don’t emit RF energy when in airplane mode.

5. Never sleep with your phone under your pillow or near your head. Karen Smith from the state health department suggests keeping your phone at least an arm’s length away from your body when sleeping. You should also turn your phone off or on airplane mode while you sleep, the guidelines note.

 

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The best Total War?

I have played a few of the games in the Total War series, but I am not a big fan. Now I’m playing Total War: Arena, which isn’t a real Total War game at all, and like it much better. I’ve already played over 300 battles in the closed beta, in spite of knowing that my progress will be reset. So, why would I prefer this one?

I tend to think of games as having a core game, which in the case of Total War would be a battle, and a shell game, which is the rest of the game outside of battle. Now in the classic Total War games I feel that the core and the shell are at counter-purpose to each other. For maximum success in the shell game, the strategic map, you will always want to have battles in which your troops outnumber the enemy. You don’t want pitched battles, because even if you win, the losses will set you back in the strategic game. But if you consider the core game, the battles in which you are clearly superior in numbers and quality just aren’t any fun. The pitched battles are more fun, because they are more balanced and have a less certain outcome.

Total War: Arena gets rid of the strategic map, and thus resolves that conflict. And the matchmaking makes every battle balanced. I don’t really need to care about losses, because they are automatically bought back with silver, and playing aggressively earns you more silver than your losses cost you. The shell game around the battles is a game of simple progression of units and commanders. And as I said, I don’t even care much about that, as it will be reset at the end of the closed beta anyway.

Of course I can see how the battles in Total War: Arena might not be for everyone. You only control 3 units, and the action is mostly tactical. Due to the usual lack of coordination when playing with random strangers, the strategic positioning on the battle map is mostly non-existing. In fact the game appears to be designed to aggravate the kind of player that doesn’t suffer fools lightly, because there is friendly fire: Ranged units are not very accurate, and artillery is very slow and might fire on a spot where the enemy has moved away from and an ally moved into, so even with the best of intentions it is nearly impossible to completely avoid causing friendly fire when playing ranged. You can even suffer friendly fire from spearmen or pikemen in phalanx formation. Some players are extremely sensitive to losing units to friendly fire, or losing a battle due to allies playing badly or without coordination. I wouldn’t recommend Total War: Arena to them. Me, I’m having a lot of fun and even bought a founder pack.