I have played 120 hours of Zelda – Breath of the Wild now, and my main game character is advancing very nicely; I’m now able to kill boss mobs and tough mini bosses with relative ease or even farm them when required. More because I was interested in the technology than because I needed the boost I bought a couple of amiibo, which are Nintendo’s “toys-to-life” figurines: You can scan them with your controller and have the amiibo appear in your game, or trigger some sort of bonus effect. But because I was relatively advanced in the game already when I got them, they didn’t really change much.
So I was wondering how much of an impact it would make if one had those amiibo right from the start of a game. Now normally you can have only one save game in normal mode and one save game in master mode for Zelda. But that is per “profile”, so you can easily just create another profile and start a new game from scratch without affecting your main game. I did that, and it turned out you can’t use amiibo at the very start. You need to play until finishing the first shrine, and then you can turn the amiibos on in the options. And at that time the treasure chests you get from amiibo contain stuff like rusty or travelers weapons; which are still useful that early in the game compared to tree branches and bokoblin weapons, but certainly not game breaking. You need to finish the whole “tutorial”, that is all four shrines and get the paraglider, before the amiibo result in the “normal” treasures, e.g. the guardian amiibo drops guardian weapons and shields.
So while I was testing that, I had another idea: You can finish the tutorial in well under 1 hour, so how does a new character in an 1-hour old game compare to a character that has been played for 120 hours? If your first character was lost and weak, was that because you were still learning the game, or was that simply that he didn’t have the stats and gear you get from playing a long time?
So I took my new character without even exchanging the first 4 spirit orbs to the toughest place in the game, Hyrule castle; dressed in the starting shirt and trousers, and equipped with nothing more than can be found in the tutorial. And I am happy to report that I was doing quite well there: I basically cleaned out the place, except for the game end boss of course. I got the complete royal guard armor, which involves getting three pieces from the bottom, middle, and top of Hyrule castle. And I didn’t just sneak through the castle, but actually killed even tough mobs like moblins and guardians. Of course then I found lots of awesome weapons, so my new character now has a very impressive armory, much better than anything you can get from the amiibo.
In short, knowing the game helps a lot, and the best way to get great gear early is using that knowledge to loot the toughest places in the game. I probably won’t play that second character much, because doing the same 120 shrines again isn’t going to be all that fun, but it is interesting to know that in Zelda – Breath of the Wild skill beats gear.
In the previous session the group entered the Temple of Howling Hatred, trying to stop the prophets of elemental evil from summoning their princes. This session started with a long discussion on the merits of retreating to safety, which I tried to hurry along to stop wasting time. After resting the group returned to the Temple, where I had put 8 fresh Kenku at the gate. On the first run, played as written, the Kenku were just making noises to scare the adventurers; this time they use the defense mechanism of the gate house, firing at the group through arrow slits. Although the Kenku were rather low level, that occupied the group for quite a while.
Finally they made it back to the step pyramid where they were before. Inside they found a bunch of cultists and stairs up. After killing the cultists they went up the stairs and met the prophetess of elemental evil air, Aerisi Kalinoth. Despite being a level 12 spellcaster, the prophetess was a pushover. She relied on concentration spells like Fly or Cloudkill, and that just doesn’t work. The group just ignored her henchmen and broke her concentration immediately after she cast anything, making her not very effective. I find the 5th edition D&D spell system rather boring, as it really encourages you to use only instant damage spells, because anything a bit more interesting is based on concentration and has little effect. For example Cloudkill used to be a very powerful spell in previous editions, but now it affected only the first character starting his turn in the cloud, who then broke the concentration of Aerisi and dispelled the cloud before it damaged anybody else.
The bard who was with Aerisi was even weaker, also due to concentration spells, and so the only serious monster in the encounter was an invisible stalker, who had more health than the other two together, was much harder to damage, and didn’t use concentration spells. Having finally killed that one as well, the group found a lot of monetary treasure and Windvane, the magical spear of Aerisi. However I had had to nerf that one on the request of the future DM of our group, in whose campaign the original wouldn’t have fit. So now it was just a +2 lance that opened the magical portals to the temples of elemental evil. At that point we stopped the session.
Google Analytics sent me an automated mail telling me that this blog had 1.7k visitors last month. That is less than I used to get in a single day a decade ago. The good news for Google / Blogger is that I don’t blame them for the decline, and won’t be showing up at their HQ with a gun. I am pretty certain that the loss of readers can be explained by the following factors:
I am writing much less now, 1-2 posts per week instead of per day.
I am not writing about a single topic, MMORPGs, any more, but about a variety of different things, which interest different people.
The original MMORPG topic of my blog isn’t of great interest any more.
Blogging, and hanging out on blogs, isn’t the medium of choice any more.
So basically I had my 15 minutes of fame, with highlights like being invited to a Blizzcon with a press pass around my neck and allowed to interview a Blizzard developer. Or getting free “review copies” of games (all of them disclosed on the blog) and stuff. I even got a few hundred dollars as donations over the years.
Blogging never was more than a hobby to me, it was obvious that quitting my day job for internet fame would have been an extremely bad idea. And then I am part of a generation that still believes that they are responsible for their own success or failure. My impression of younger generations is that they more often believe that success is owed to them, and that any of their failures must be due to evil acts from others. Now combine that with the fact that a YouTuber today can be a *lot* more famous than a blogger from a decade ago, and make a lot more money; and then you get closer to understanding why somebody might take a decline of internet fame so serious that she starts shooting people.
The internet has dramatically lowered the barrier of entry to self-publication and possibly fame. But that isn’t just true for you, it is true for everybody else as well. Thus fame is getting more and more fickle and short-lived. Being “internet famous” can be fun, but it appears that it can also be dangerous.
The only sexual-harassment problem they’ve had at Fox News was Roger Ailes, he said.
In light of the news that the Walt Disney Company had reached a deal to acquire most of 21st Century Fox, executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch spoke to Sky News TV about the move and other business matters at the empire.
But when the topic of sexual harassment allegations came up and whether they affected the network, Murdoch called the accusations “nonsense.”
“It’s all nonsense,” he said. “There was a problem with our chief executive, over the year, isolated incidents.” Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes stepped down in 2016 after over 20 women accused him of sexual harassment, and News Corp paid $45 million in settlements related to those allegations. Upon his departure, Ailes was awarded a $40 million exit package.
Murdoch told Sky News TV, “As soon as we investigated he was out of the place in hours — well three or four days. And there has been nothing else since then.”
Since then, since Ailes left News Corp, there has actually been quite a bit else.
The network’s biggest star, Bill O’Reilly was fired in April following numerous sexual harassment allegations and after the New York Times discovered that Fox had paid at least $13 million in settlements over complaints made against him. The network also terminated host Eric Bolling in September, after Huff Post reported that Bolling had sent unsolicited pictures of his genitalia to at least three female colleagues. Host Chris Payne was also suspended this summer after allegations of sexual harassment. He was later reinstated.
Murdoch claims the accusations were “largely political because we are conservative. The liberals are going down the drain. NBC is in deep trouble.”
The media industry, like Hollywood, the food industry and politics, has come under scrutiny for a culture of predation by men in power and systematic sexual misconduct. From NBC’s Matt Lauer, to CBS’s Charlie Rose, to PBS’s Tavis Smily, allegations of sexual harassment or assault have not been confined to conservatives. But to ignore how pervasive allegations specifically at Fox News have been is a very selective understanding of this current moment.
“There are really bad cases and people should be moved aside,” Murdoch said. “There are other things — which probably amount to a bit of flirting.” According to Sky News, the 86-year-old said that he did not believe sexual misconduct allegations had “affected investor sentiment towards his businesses.”
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When viewed from over here in Europe, American politics sometimes appear a bit weird. Last week it was weirder than usual. President Trump flip-flopped on his condemnation of white supremacists and racists, and there was a huge outcry about how he finally failed to take a strong verbal stand against racism. That left me very much confused! I had been under the impression that as a candidate Trump had run on a platform of pretty open racism and hate of foreigners, especially Mexicans and Muslims. I had been under the impression that a large part of the American electorate, somewhere between 30% and 50%, believed that foreigners were to be blamed for many American problems, and that an anti-foreigner “America first” policy would improve things. In short, I thought that once you stripped off the veneer of political correctness, the policies of xenophobia and racism were pretty much American mainstream. So how come everybody is so outraged if a president says what we all know that he is thinking?
What is so weird about political correctness is that people are okay with *actions* that directly target a specific race or religion, like building a wall towards Mexico, or a Muslim travel ban. But *speech* which contains racial or religious or gender discrimination is unacceptable? I can’t help but wonder whether it wouldn’t be a lot saner to do it the other way around: Have an open discussion about the fears and prejudices people have towards other races, religions, genders, or sexual orientations, but refrain from actually persecuting people for having a different race, religion, or sexual orientation. There is strong scientific evidence that a certain degree of xenophobia is something hard-wired into the parts of our brains from an earlier evolutionary period, and overcoming xenophobia means teaching the newer parts of the brain to override those outdated instincts. Prohibiting people from talking about those instinctive feelings isn’t really helpful in that respect, because it doesn’t make those feelings go away.
World of Warcraft announced a 7th expansion called Battle for Azeroth. At this point in time I don’t feel any interest in that expansion. If it came out today, I wouldn’t buy it. As it is coming out in a year, there is still time for me to change my mind. But there is a greater than zero probability that this will be the first World of Warcraft expansion I’m opting out of.
I love a good pair of Bluetooth earbuds. Since they’re wireless, they’re extremely convenient to wear while working out or laying in bed, and I don’t miss the drop in sound quality compared to wired earbuds. Sure, I have to remember to recharge them from time to time, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay for convenience.
One of the best pairs of Bluetooth earbuds I’ve ever owned is the Jaybird X3. I was lucky enough to pick them up earlier this year on sale and I have enjoyed them ever since. I routinely cycle back and forth between them and the V-MODA Forza Metallo Wireless depending on what mood I’m in or what activity I’m doing.
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The X3’s are great for working out. They’re sweatproof (not waterproof), and provide a good fit. I’ve never had an issue with them falling out of my ears when I’m active. They also sound pretty decent and get loud enough to block out most everything else around me.
I recommend them to my friends who are looking for a decent pair of earbuds without breaking the bank. Now, they’re back on sale and you can pick up a pair for just $80, a $50 savings. These are great as a last minute shopping gift. Or, you could just grab a pair for yourself guilt free since they’re almost half off.
If you want to pick up a pair, you can hit the buttons below for the listings from Amazon and Best Buy. Amazon has them in four colors and Best Buy offers them in six, including exclusive Camo and Platinum paint jobs.
You may be asking yourself, “What is Ethereum?” Well, Vitalik Buterin, a Canadian programmer born in Russia, invented Ethereum in 2015 by. It’s a cryptocurrency much like Bitcoin that allows you to make payments online. It’s decentralized, offers low transaction fees, and runs on a publicly disclosed blockchain that records each transaction.
Read: What is a blockchain? – Gary Explains
Ethereum’s currency is called Ether and is currently the second largest in the world in market cap, behind Bitcoin. There are reportedly around two million wallets that hold it, up from 1.6 million in May — showing the growing popularity of Ether.
How is it different from Bitcoin? Bitcoin aims to become a globally adopted currency that could improve or even replace conventional money. Ethereum, on the other hand, is more than a cryptocurrency. It’s also a ledger technology used to build decentralized applications (dapps) with smart contracts.
What are smart contracts?
Smart contracts are programs that automatically execute exactly as they are set up by their creators. Their purpose is to offer more security by removing the middlemen that we would otherwise have to use. Confused? Let’s take a look at a simple example.
Let’s say you want to ship a large gift to your friend and hire a trucker to do the job. For the trucker to know you’ll pay him, and for you to be sure the delivery will be made, you both sign an agreement for shared peace of mind. This takes time and can be expensive, as you need someone who will draw up the paperwork for you, and so forth.
This process can be simplified with a smart contract. You make the payment the day the package is picked up, and the smart contract will automatically transfer the money to the trucker as soon as your friend confirms the delivery has been made.
How is Ether created and where can I get it?
Like Bitcoins, Ethers are created through a process called mining. This requires expensive and specialized computers that have to perform complicated calculations. Mining is mainly done by large companies that are compensated for their work with newly minted Ethers.
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Unfortunately, you won’t make any money by mining with your personal PC, even if it’s a high-end model. So how can you get your hands on Ethers? You can earn them by providing goods and services to people who can pay you with the digital currency. The second option is to buy them from a marketplace like Coinbase with your credit card.
The Ethers you own are stored in a wallet secured with a private key. You can keep it in the cloud or offline, with the latter being a much safer option. The important thing is that you don’t lose the private key. If that happens, you won’t be able to access your money.
How much does it cost and what determines the price?
Now that we have figured out the answer to the “What is Ethereum?” question, how much do Ethers really cost? Ethers were cheap when introduced back in 2015 — you could get one for less than a dollar. Their price has risen over the years and currently stands at around $430 each (exact value can be found in widget below). The sharp increase means Ethers can be a great investment, same as Bitcoins and many other cryptocurrencies. For example, if you bought $1,000 worth of Ethers in 2015 when they were worth $0.50 a piece, you would have $860,000 today.
Before you get too excited, keep in mind that investing in cryptocurrencies can be risky.
Before you get too excited, sell your house, and buy as many Ethers as you can get, let me remind you that investing in cryptocurrencies can be risky. Sure, a lot of them have increased in value in recent years, but that doesn’t mean this trend will continue. Cryptocurrencies are volatile, meaning their price can go up and down significantly in a single day. This makes them less stable than standard currencies like the dollar and euro.
How exactly do we determine their value? Like Bitcoins, gold, oranges, and every other item available on the market, supply and demand determine the price of Ethers.
Ethereum can be hard to understand at times. The same goes for Bitcoins and the rest of the cryptocurrencies available. But the fact is that they’re here to stay and might become a more important part of our daily lives in the future.
Many experts believe Ethereum has a lot of potential and could overtake Bitcoin as the largest cryptocurrency somewhere down the line. This is all speculation, though well within the realm of possibility. But like with stocks, gold, and other investments, no one can be 100 percent sure in which direction the price will move.
Hopefully we have given you an answer to the “What is Ethereum?” question. What are your thoughts on Ethereum and cryptocurrencies in general? Let us know in the comments.