December, 2016 Archive

First Person Shoot Out: Comparing the Three Blockbusters Spawning This Season

first-person shooter

A buyer’s guide to the three big-budget first-person shooter games available now. Which one’s right for you? Each holiday season, a myriad of big-budget video games vie for the attention of gift shoppers and gamers looking for an experience to get lost in. The first-person shooter genre is a mainstay at the top of wish lists and sales charts. This season, instead of the usual one or two blockbuster FPS titles, there are three: Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. How do you decide among three games which are set to appeal to similar audiences? Even if you can afford to purchase all three, precious gaming hours are limited, so which virtual world should you spend your free time inside this holiday? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. Let’s break down what’s inside the package of each of these first-person shooter games — all        …read more

Behind the Scenes: The Road to Grammy Nominations

Grammy nominations

Grammy nominations were announced December 6. How does an artist make it to that point? Two artists and a voter discuss the process. The process for an artist submitting their music for the first time is exciting to be sure, but it’s also stressful and a bit complicated. If you’ve been nominated, entering your follow-up album and hoping it will again find its mark is another journey entirely. Or, if you’re someone like me, new to Grammy nominations voting, this is a trip unlike any other. The Grammy nominations are announced each December, but the submission frenzy is a nonstop entity unto itself. Once an artist decides to submit, a plan is devised to keep their name and their music in front of the Recording Academy members. Social media is one way to do it. Besides the GRAMMYPro site, there are private groups on Facebook where voters can connect, consider each other’s music        …read more

8 Easy Data Security Tips for the Insecure Mobile Device

data security

Keep your gadgets secure with these quick data security tips. The world we live in has dramatically changed even over the last five to 10 years. Everything is seemingly connected to every other thing, and convenience now rules the day. Unfortunately, when you make things convenient for the end user, that usually means they’re easily compromised by the bad guys. So how can we keep our gadgets safe and ensure data security? Password Protect Your Device with Strong Passwords Add a PIN (use the maximum allowed numbers for your device) or a unique password. It’s the easiest and likely the most important thing you can do to protect your device and data. Keep Your Device Up to Date All the modern mobile operating systems release frequent updates, which should be applied as soon as they’re pushed to your device. These updates usually address security holes found, in addition to improving        …read more

Failed Predictions, Psychics and Prophets throughout History

failed predictions

How did the concept of the psychic evolve throughout our cultural history, and how do psychics and prophets continue to draw people in? Reality is defined by the mind observing it, and the mind instinctively rejects ideas that don’t fit within that reality. It’s a survival mechanism — keeping our deep emotional ties to certain belief systems intact, whether those beliefs are supported by facts or not. Undoubtedly this is why, in a 2005 Gallup Survey, three out of four Americans indicated they believed in the paranormal. To be more specific, 41% believed in extrasensory perception (ESP), 26% believed in clairvoyance, and 31% believed in telepathy and psychic communication. This is after a 1987 study by the United States National Academy of Sciences declared there is “no scientific justification from research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena.” I won’t attempt to prove whether paranormal activities        …read more

Overpowering Daylight: How Does This Professional Photographer Do It?

professional photographer

As a professional photographer and cinematographer in Hollywood, Eric Curtis captures stunning portraits of celebrities, such as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. But his passion for photography goes beyond the limelight. When professional photographer and cinematographer Eric Curtis is getting ready for a shoot, it usually involves a truck with 700 pounds of lighting and equipment. His signature technique, called overpowering daylight, means setting up for the shoot will take him and his crew at least half the day. But the shots will be unlike any you’ve seen. That’s where he takes great pride because they’re 100% authentic (no digital manipulation here). In your still photography, you bring studio lighting outdoors. Does that have a name? The technique that I like to do is called overpowering daylight. Strobe photography for 1/1000 of a second is way more powerful than the sun, or at least it can be. Just that flash of light        …read more

The Female Buzz Cut: A Lazy but Effective Storytelling Device

buzz cut

A comprehensive look at the female buzz cut in pop culture. There is arguably no hairstyle in pop culture that has quite as much meaning as the female buzz cut. A buzz cut on a female character always broadcasts subtext about the heroine and her story, and furthermore it’s almost always the same subtext. That’s not something you can say about any other style or beauty choice in pop culture, whether it’s bangs or a tattoo. Although the female buzz cut is slowly gaining popularity in real life (particularly on the runway and on Instagram) it’s still rarely seen in movies and TV shows. Most people can probably count on one hand the number of movies they’ve seen with a woman sporting a buzz cut. That said, they’re still much more prevalent in recent years than they used to be. Going back several decades, it’s difficult to find a movie featuring        …read more

It’s All Fun and Games: Unboxing the 7 Best YouTubers for Kids

YouTube videos for kids

YouTube videos for kids are reality TV for your little ones and a dream come true for children’s products. No, the revolution isn’t being televised, but it is gaining ground on YouTube. A new brand of camaraderie is on the rise. While some kids might still build communities the old-fashioned way, many have chosen YouTube channels to share the best, worst and most intriguing items to look out for. More engaging than the traditional infomercial, these YouTube product videos feature blind bags, egg openings, shopping trips and more. Popular brands such as My Little Pony, Minecraft, Angry Birds, Puppy Surprise and others help to engage, inspire and tease. Facilitated by the connectivity of the 21st century, these channels are made by kids for kids (and sometimes by families for families). Here’s a look at some YouTube channels for kids that your family might really enjoy. Fun Toys Collector Disney Toys Review        …read more

6 Best Movie Podcasts

From the silver screen to your headphones: 6 movie podcasts you need to try. Kermode & Mayo’s Film Review Brilliant and highly respected film critic Mark Kermode and radio presenter Simon Mayo tell it like it is on their show on BBC Radio 5 Live. They might be considered harsh, but when the theaters are awash in remakes, reboots, rehashes and redos, if something shines, Kermode and Mayo give the project its due credit. Their interviews with actors and directors are fantastic, and I recommend their podcasts featuring insightful talks with Zachary Quinto and Sir Ben Kingsley. If you’re just getting into film and want to have someone cut a trail for you straight to the things worth watching, you can’t go wrong listening to Kermode & Mayo’s Film Review. Direct Each week hosts Eric and Levi go through one film in a chosen auteur’s filmography. They track the director’s growth        …read more

Why ‘Black Mirror’ Should Be the Next Thing You Watch on Netflix

Black Mirror

Want to render a group of twentysomethings speechless? Look no further than the opening act of ‘Black Mirror.’ The first time I watched Black Mirror (season one, episode one, “The National Anthem”), I was sitting in a science fiction class. As the plot unfolded and the situation on-screen grew increasingly dire, I found myself wondering how far my professor had chosen to push the limits of a state-school curriculum. The answer: pretty damn far. “The National Anthem,” season 1, episode 1. Via Channel 4 Anyone looking to render a group of twentysomethings entirely speechless need look no further than the opening act of what would prove to be a riveting television series. There was nothing borderline about Black Mirror, which originally aired in Britain. The writers left all rules in the dust. Everything was fair game. Critics likened the show to The Twilight Zone, revamped with the endless possibilities of modern        …read more

Turning Superhero Weapons into Reality: The Hacksmith’s Latest Inventions

latest inventions

An exclusive peek inside the lab of Canadian engineer James Hobson, whose latest inventions include working Captain America shields, Wolverine claws and Iron Man thrusters. Every Little Boy is a Superhero. The sign hangs in engineer and YouTube star James Hobson’s tricked-out garage. As he presents his latest inventions to the public, the words appear to sum up his mission statement. Hobson, a 26-year-old living in the sleepy town of Kitchener, Ontario, about an hour and a half west of Toronto, is known as the Hacksmith. What he and his team do is nothing short of remarkable: They create weapons and devices from superhero films, TV shows, comics and video games. Their goals? To see if they can create these one-off prototypes, and to demonstrate that building cool gadgets from scratch isn’t impossible. “If I don’t know how to do something, I’ll learn how to do it,” Hobson tells me from        …read more