Game of Thrones pre-Season 5 Guide [Many Spoilers]

Ed. Note: Emma Watson is not actually on the show, but still, Emma Watson. 

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been waiting for the new Game of Thrones season since roughly the moment the last one ended. But that was like a year ago, and now, thankfully, mercifully, it seems that HBO has blessed mankind once more with a bounty of GoT episodes slated to begin April 12th. In anticipation of the new season, here is a laymen’s run-through of the major houses.

House Lannisterhouse_lannister_by_azraeuz-d61dbr7

So when we last left the Lannisters, Tyrion (the imp) was shooting and killing Tywin (his father, the white haired bad guy) whilst the latter was on the loo. Tyrion then was packaged in crate, cartoon style, and shipped off east to Braavos, where surely exciting times are in store.

The nominal king is still King Tommen (Baratheon, technically), the younger (and equally incestually conceived) and less rotten brother of Joffrey, who, if you’ll recall, was poisoned on his wedding day.

Jamie (one hand) and Cersei (evil blonde), twin siblings, and dysfunctional parents, are both still in King’s Landing, chilling out we presume.

 

House Baratheon

King Stannis and his right hand man Davos Seaworth, along with the fiery haired (and fiery in general) Melisandre all were last seen in the North, at and around the Wall. Stannis’ army basically saved Jon Snow and the remaining Nights Watchmen, and season 5 we should see how Stannis and the Wildlings’ leader Mance Rayder get along.

Gendry Baratheon (King Robert’s bastard) is still rowing his boat somewhere, as he has for many moons.

 

House Targaryenhouse_targaryen_by_azraeuz-d62ummg

So this house is basically just Daenerys, who has spent what seems like the better part of her young life freeing slaves and dealing with the inevitable rioting afterwards. When we last saw Dany, she was exiling her friendzoned manfriend Jorah for learning his mission initially was to spy on her for the late (very late at this point) King Robert Baratheon. Dany also had to lock up two of her dragons because they were causing a ruckus, as dragons often do.

House Stark

The Starks are all split up, at least the ones who remain undecapitated.

Bran, the eldest surviving Stark boy barely made it to the 3-Eyed Raven’s lair of sorts far north of the Wall, accompanied by his driver and bodyguard Hodor, and Meera Reed, the sister half of the brother/sister guide duo that led Bran to this end. Jojen, if you’ll recall, was like 30 feet short of safety, and died.

Arya, the youngest girl, fiery little whippersnapper one, was last seen amazing a Braavosi man with a coin, and subsequently getting a free trip to Braavos. She’s all by herself at this point, as shes ditched all the grown-ups that were at some point looking after her.

Sansa, the red haired summerchild, is currently touring the Vale with her friend? mentor? caretaker?…lover? Peter “Littlefinger” Baelish and presumably learning some Frank Underwood style political strategy in the meantime. Sansa has always been one of the most naive characters, but with the scheming Littlefinger as her mentor–that’s bound to change.

Jon Snow, the bastard son of Ned Stark is now the defactor leader of the Night’s Watch, and seemingly on a no-layover flight straight to becoming a hero.

And the youngest, and most forgettable Stark, young Rickon, is currently hiding at Last Hearth with Osha the wilding servant. Publically presumed dead, but he ain’t, yo.

And the Rest

A-Web-of-Thrones-game-of-thrones-30670278-1280-1055

First of all, we did not make this excellent image (click it to enlarge), was found on Fanpop.com uncredited, so if you made this, thanks its great!

The major other characters; Vaerys the Eunuch is on a boat with Tyrion, The Tyrells are still surely plotting to sexily wriggle their way to the Iron Throne, Shae  and Ygritte (Tyrion and Jon’s love interests,  respectively) are both dead, Ramsay Bolton and his slave Reek (nee Theon Greyjoy) are still doing their Boltony sadistic things, and Winter, as always, is freaking coming.

 

Only a couple more weeks! Credit to http://azraeuz.deviantart.com/ for the awesome House sigils.

Think tank study gets to bottom of Math & Science Majors dropout rates

The-College-Dropout-Album-CoverAs the Wall Street Journal reports*, The National Bureau of Economic Research has put its top men on the case to discover why Math and Science departments at universities around the country are suffering from higher dropout rates than their liberal art counter parts.

Doctors Ralph and Todd R. Stinebrickner have read the tea leaves and the results may shock you: Students don’t like failing classes. Todd R. explains the phenomena, “Students knew science was hard to begin with, but for a lot of them it turned out to be much worse than what they expected…What they didn’t expect is that even if they work hard, they still won’t do well.”

We can’t all be genius janitors, hell I am writing an blog article at this very moment, so I probably definitely have little room for criticism, but the experiment synapsis reads like an article on The Onion. Over the course of two Falls in 2000 and 2001 these two doctors surveyed 655 students 12 times a year about their academic majors. Fifteen years** (time presumably used poring over the data, and analyzing complex metrics) later, the Stinebrickners conclude that math is hard.

*In 2013

**Probably more like Thirteen Years, as the paper was published in 2014, its just barely 2015. Hyperbole though.

 

Smartwatch pioneers Pebble surpass the 2000% funding mark

Pebble Time Watch

Pebble Time, a new smartwatch from the makers of the original Pebble, has been launched again on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform.  Given the success of the original product on Kickstarter, CEO Eric Migicovsky decided to go back to the company’s roots.

So far, Pebble has raised over $10.3 million from more than 47,000 backers and has funded its goal in excess of 2,000%.  More astounding than those numbers however, is the short amount of time it has taken the company to achieve these results.  The campaign was launched Tuesday, February 24, a mere two days prior to writing this article.

The new Pebble Time comes with a color e-paper display, a thinner case and an ergonomic design that fits the curve of your wrist.  It is water resistant, has a week-long battery life, and is compatible with your iPhone, Samsung phone or Android phone.  Another new feature to this model is the inclusion of a microphone so you can respond to messages, take notes, or set reminders.

The Pebble Time’s launch is aimed to directly compete with the upcoming Apple Watch, set to be released in September, 2015.  

Bionics To The Rescue

The world of bionics has been making great leaps forward in the past few years to the delight of many. One of the biggest and most impactful advancements has directly benefitted those who have suffered through many years of life without the use of one or more of their limbs. Over the past few years, we leshave seen biotechnology advance to the point of testing inventions that would allow for paraplegic people to finally walk again which is an amazing feat for the human race.

Recently however, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have made huge advancements to a bionic prosthetics project that could be the jumping off point for all bionic prosthetics in the future.  The project that the researchers are working on is a “suit” with robotic arms connected to it that are then connected to the nerves of the wearers body allowing for arm movement through thought only. In the video, we see Les Baugh who has been a double arm amputee for over 40 years.

Through the use of the robotic arms, Les has been given back the ability to do every day things that we take for granted such as simply drinking water out of a cup on his own. The advancements in bionic prosthetics to this degree will give hope back to so many people who have been disabled for far too long and the implications of this technology are endless. Within a few years people who have suffered a freak accident or soldiers wounded in war will be able to finally go back to living their lives with as much ease as everyone else thanks to the brilliant minds working on projects such as this. Who knows, a real life Darth Vader may not be too far off in the future!

 

The Future Is Here

strati2

Technology is an ever evolving industry in our world today and the possibilities seem to be endless. One of the biggest advances in technology recently has been the advent and implementation of 3D printing. 3D printing has an endless number of uses ranging from making basic toys, all the way to now building cars. Yes, you heard it here first, Local Motors unveiled their new 3D printed “Strati” electric car back in September at the International Manufacturing Technology Show.

The new two-seater was created in just 44 hours using 3D printing technologies which also reduced the number of parts needed for a car from around 25,000 to a ludicrous 49 parts. There are obviously a few parts such as the engine, suspension and tires that are not printable but for the most part the car is created using just a 3D printer.

The company is using a “carbon-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic” which strength wise can be compared to midgrade aluminum already being used in cars today. As the process is refined, the company believes they will be able to implement different types of materials into the process to create a more comfortable driving experience and added safety measures. They also believe they will be able to start sellinstrati3g the car for
around $20,000 but state that the price will drop as manufacturing increases.

The Strati is set to be released and on the roads of America in the next 12 months, bringing on the new age of auto manufacturing. The goal of Local Motors is be able to have a localized manufacturing plant for many large cities so that different regions can create cars that have their environment in mind, whether it be a very hot city in the desert or one that gets below freezing temperatures regularly throughout the winter.

Based on the advancement of 3D printing in the auto manufacturing world, it will be very interesting to see what other technologies people are able to create or improve upon in the coming years. Welcome to the future!

The Force Awakens

Star-Wars-force-awakensWhere were you on November 28th, 2014? I for one was sitting in front of my computer perusing facebook when all of the sudden, there it was… the moment I had been waiting for since the announcement of JJ Abrams as the director. The new Star Wars trailer had been released on the internet. For many people, that moment was one of pure giddiness an
d excitement as we began the deep regression to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..

As the trailer begins, you are brought back to the world of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo with a cameo of the millennium falcon fighting TIE Fighters, new R2 type droids alight-sabernd the re-emergence of the X-Wing fighter. We see the re-imagination of the light saber and the resurrection of the original storm trooper armor we came to love in the first 3 movies.  The trailer contains everything you would want to see in the first real trailer for the new Stars Wars. JJ Abrams seems to have done a masterful job at awakening the force in his new rendition of George Lucas’ iconic Star Wars Saga.

If the movie is anything like the trailer, Abrams will have done an astounding job at making his movie look and feel like the originals only with updated graphics and effects, oh and of course the original actors Harrison Ford, Carrie Fischer and Mark Hamill will be reprising their roles as Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker for Episode 7! The movie is set to be released Decemeber 18th, 2015 so until then, we will have to continue imagining the unfolding of the epic saga from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Enjoy!

Before Baby: How to Prepare for a Major Life Change Pt. I

We’re pregnant! Whether this comes as a complete shock, or it’s going to happen soon, babies can bring a whole barrage of emotions.

Work on the RelationshipYoung pregnant couple

Are you happy with your partner and vice versa? If you’re planning on staying together with him or her, make sure you’re ready to go in for the long haul with them.

Perhaps now might be the best time to start couples counseling, especially if there is any doubt, resentment, past actions or issues to work on. Do you or your partner have a history of infidelity? It’s best to make sure that the baby has been given a DNA paternity test upon birth to ensure that the baby IS yours.

Throughout the nine or so months that your partner is pregnant, make an extra effort to show how much you care. If it means going out to buy pickles and ice cream at 10pm, just do it. Even just helping them through morning sickness is going to bring you two closer together. Be the couple you’ve always wanted to be, starting now.

Soak in the quiet time

Get it while it’s still here. For a while, moments of peace and restfulness may be hard to come by with baby in the picture. Getting some productivity in the mix wouldn’t hurt either: set up the baby’s room, read some books for dads, baby-proof the home, and work on wrapping up any of your passion projects. Once the baby comes he or she will require constant attention which means sleepless nights, less freedom, less peace and definitely less quiet time.

If you have friends that are still childless, make sure to explain that you’ll be slightly off the radar for a while. Anyone who has a kid knows the story, so they won’t be offended if you suddenly are too tired to hang out or skip a concert.

 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Vinyl: Buying a Turntable, Used Records, and More

While vinyl records might have been before your time, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a needle hitting the groove, even in an age where the iPod is already old hat. Newcomers to the scene have a lot to get familiar with when buying a record player, learning about its parts, and knowing how to hunt for used record. Let’s start off with the basics of records 101:

1. What is the best kind of record player?

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon USB

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Belt-Drive Table

Depending on how you’re going to be using your turntable, you basically have one of two options, depending on how you will use your record player:

Belt Drive

This turntable’s platter sits atop a bearing that rotates by an elastic belt connected to a motor on the side. The belt helps to minimize any vibrations or noise from the motor by absorbing the waves.

Ideal for: home listening, people on a budget

The bad: can be slow, rubber belts need replacing after a while, inconsistent pitch and speed (wow and flutter)

Recommended Models:

  • Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB ($250-300)
  • Pro-ject Debut Carbon Turntable ($350-400)
  • Audio Technica AT-LP60 ($100)

Brands to look out for used: Audio Technica, Music Hall, Rega

Direct Drive

The platter of a direct drive turntable is placed directly over the motor instead of off to the side, this allocates more power for a cleaner and consistent sound. This is the preferred table for DJs and musicians, as you can play the record backwards, scratch, and generally

Ideal for: DJs, audiophiles

The bad: can be rumbly, expensive, often come in pairs

Recommended Models:

  • Technics SL-1200 ($400-3,000)
  • Pioneer PLX-1000 ($700)
  • Stanton T62 ($200)

Brands to look out for used: Technics, Numark, Vestax, Stanton, Pioneer

Manual or Automatic: A manual turntable requires you to place the needle on and off the record, an automatic will play and stop automatically.

USB: If you’re looking to move vinyl record onto your computer, some newer tables have this functionality, although they usually have poorer performance than a standard record player.

 

2a. Record Player Parts and Equipment

the various parts of a vinyl record player

Stylus (the needle), this needs to be upgraded the most, as it can wear out the fastest (every 1,000-2,000 hours)

Cartridge (the piece that holds the needle), a good cartridge is key to great performance. A new cartridge is needed if yours is damaged or you are looking to upgrade.

Pre-amp, unlike the plug and play world we live in now, a record player may need to convert the PHONO (output signal) to LINE (AUX signal) by hooking it up with RCA cables. Basically, it won’t work unless you have a middle man, especially with older tables, as new ones sometimes have a preamp built-in. A DJ mixer can suffice as a preamp as well.

Speakers or Headphones, If you want to start slow, you can go to your local thrift store and pick up some speakers, otherwise, you can pick some good ones up for relatively cheap nowdays. Headphones can be a bit expensive, but if you’ve grown up in the early aughts already, you probably know how good headphones are worth it.

2b.The Record Player Setup

There’s actually a fine science to setting up your record player, receiver, setup and speakers.

1. Keep speakers apart and away from turntable. They should be as far away from one another as they are to you and unable to shake the turntable from bassy vibrations.

2. Keep the speakers away from the wall

3. Raise your speakers (if possible)

4. Make sure your turntable is balanced and not hanging off a ledge

5. Keep vinyl records in plastic sleeves for protection, and upright like books–not in a stack. Make sure it’s not by a heater, window, or any other source where it could warp from temperature.

 

3. Buying Records: How to Buy a Used Record

  1. Move towards a bright light at the store you’re in
  2. Check out the record’s jacket to see if it’s heavily worn, this could indicate heavy use or damage
  3. Inspect the color and sheen of the record, is it shimmering with the tiny etchings of the grooves or is it grey, flat or dirty? The better it looks, the better it will sound. Sidenote: some records might just be a bit dusty but be near VG+, but some of the dirt can also hide scratches–try spitting on the record and wiping it down with your sleeve in the light to see if there are any marks. Or use some water from a waterbottle if you’re more civilized than that.
  4. Look at the edges of the record for wear, since the needle will hit this point first.
  5. Inspect the scratches–are they deep, cutting into the wax? If you can feel it you can hear it, so make sure to pay attention. Tiny scuffs aren’t too worrysome, you can still get some great playtime out of it even if the former owner decided it was no good. Look for parallel scratches towards the grooves, those are the worst.
  6. The balance test. To make sure the record isn’t warped, bring the record to eye-level make sure everything looks pretty flush. If the far edges are above or below the surface then you may have a warped record.
  7. Heat test. To check the record for heat damage, look for tiny crater-like patterns, that may even look foamy.

Buying a Used Record Online

guide to buying used records online

1. This is mostly on a trust basis since you can’t physically inspect the item. Check the seller’s ratings, past items, and other indicators that you’re not dealing with a cheat.

2.  You can also try firing up Photoshop to make sure it’s the real deal. Drag the seller’s image into your photo editor and adjust the levels to look for defects that the camera’s exposure may be covering. Image > Adjustments > Levels (Command+L is the shortcut). Drag the sliders around underneath the mountain-like picture and get a detailed look at the album. See example on the right:

 

 4. Terminology

 LP – long play

EP – extended play

Original Pressing/Issue - Vintage Record (not a reissue)

First Pressing/issue – First version of record, the rarest and highest desired

RPM – revolutions (of the record) per minute. Most 12″ albums will be at 33 1/3 speed, while EPs and other smaller records will be at 45 RPM/

180 gram vinyl – a heavier vinyl record that will not wear out as easily as other records, these can sound great on a subpar stereo system as well.

Warping – when a record bends its shape from heat, or another cause and distorts the shape.

Crate Digging – Scouring through record stores to find new or rare music (especially dollar bins)

Jacket – The insert which the record is packaged in, what protects the vinyl

scale of record quality

 

 

2014: Daniel Radcliffe’s Billion Movies

It seems that Daniel Radcliffe is NOT one of the child actors who will be delegated to type casting. After finishing up the massively successful Harry Potter series in 2011, the British actor has been busy shooting a plethora of different movies in a wide range of genres. Radcliffe will definitely not be stuck to the fantasy genre after fans see what he has brewed up for a big year in 2014.

Here are the films Daniel Radcliffe will be sharing with the world.

What If

It’s no surprise that with tons of Potter fangirls that Radcliffe has fallen into the role of male interest in a romantic comedy. This film follows the basic tenants of the rom-com which costars Adam Driver from Girls and the new Star Wars movies.

Frankenstein

This retelling of the Frankenstein story stars James McAvoy as the titular doctor and Radcliffe as his assistant Igor. There is no trailer for the film yet but there is a lot of hype with such a titillating cast.

Trainwreck

There aren’t too many details about this project but it looks to be a winner. Fresh off the success of her sketch comedy show, Amy Schumer has penned a script with Judd Apatow slated to direct some sort of comedy? The film stars Radcliffe, Marisa Tomei, Tilda Swinton, and Brie Larson. Some on set photos were just released today!

So there you have it! Daniel Radcliffe is quite busy breaking away from “The Boy Who Lived”

New SpongeBob SquarePants Trailer Released

spounge bob

It’s hard to believe that SpongeBob has been on the air for 15 years now. The beloved Nickelodeon show has has had 10 seasons, over 200 episodes and one feature film. To commemorate the burger flipping  porifera Nickelodeon is set to release the second film of the Spongebob franchise in 2015.

Here is the trailer, for SpongeBob SquarePants: Sponge Out of Water featuring 3D renderings of our favorite characters including Spongebob, Squidward, Patrick and Sandy.

Spongebob has always been loved by children and adults alike. With  a mixture of absurd comedy and fun animation Spongebob is definitely an inspiration for shows like Adventure Time and  Regular Show.

To celebrate the release of this trailer we will go through

Best SpongeBob Moments