Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Star Wars and Bowling. A teaching tool?

Do the plots of the Star Wars movies belong in the classroom? An award-winning teacher in Washington State thinks so, and philanthropist Bill Gates (an admitted Star Wars fan) agrees.

Gates met Nate Bowling, a high school teacher in Tacoma, Wash. who is the Washington State Teacher of The Year for 2016. Bowling explained to Gates how he uses the original trilogy of Star Wars movies to teach three key moments in the U.S. civil rights movement.

Gates wrote about Bowling and his use of Star Wars on his Gates Notes blog in a new post published today, and included a video in which Bowling explains the ties between the movie plots and civil rights.

The philanthropist’s larger point, which he wrote about in a separate post, is the crucial role that great teachers play in the development of our society. There is a “New Majority” in schools today, and it needs reversing.  This majority, explained Gates, is that more than half the students in American public schools today live in poverty.

“Most of the New Majority do not graduate from high school ready for college or a high-paying job,” Gates wrote. “So what happens at diverse, high-poverty schools like Lincoln [where Bowling teaches in Tacoma] matters a lot for the future of the country.”

What Bowling and his colleagues are doing at Tacoma’s Lincoln High School is impressive. The graduation rate is 80% (which Gates pointed out is above the average for Washington schools like Lincoln, where 70% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch), and 40% of students take Advanced Placement courses.

Bowling attracted attention for a post he wrote in January called “The Conversation I’m Tired of Not Having,” which Gates describes as “a blunt look at the racial divide in America’s public schools.” It’s well worth reading.  The post got more than a million views and was reprinted in major newspapers. Gates said that he agrees with a lot of it.

Gates also perked up when he learned that Bowling jokingly calls himself a “nerd farmer.”  “I’m trying to cultivate a kind of scholarship in students, and a passion for learning. So I bring passion to the classroom, and they see that and rise to the occasion,” Bowling told Gates.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded education in the U.S. at least since 2001, focusing on different targets over the years. At one point the Foundation backed smaller schools, believing that size was related to a better education. It’s no longer pursuing that strategy. More recently, the Foundation has focused on how to train teachers to be the most effective.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kerryadolan/2016/08/22/new-from-bill-gates-how-star-wars-can-get-kids-excited-to-learn/#15261cea4524

Monday, August 22, 2016

Updated PS4 model coming soon.

Sony Corp. plans to introduce a new PlayStation 4 standard model alongside a high-end version next month, people familiar with the matter said, in an effort to maintain demand for the best-selling videogame console.

With the release of the two models, Sony hopes to attract hard-core fans and more casual users to its videogame platform, analysts said. The company has been trying to build a community of users so that it can earn consistent revenue from subscriptions and software downloads.

Sony has said that it would hold a news conference at the PlayStation Theater in New York on Sept. 7. A Sony spokesman said the company would talk about the PlayStation 4 business at the news conference.

A man plays on the new Sony VR headset at the company’s PlayStation 4 E3 event in Los Angeles earlier this year. The new PlayStation 4 consoles are part of a larger push to accelerate the business that includes the introduction of virtual-reality headset, said one analyst. ENLARGE
A man plays on the new Sony VR headset at the company’s PlayStation 4 E3 event in Los Angeles earlier this year. The new PlayStation 4 consoles are part of a larger push to accelerate the business that includes the introduction of virtual-reality headset, said one analyst. PHOTO: REUTERS
Sony said in June that it planned to introduce a high-end version of PlayStation 4 with enhanced graphics capabilities, but it hasn’t publicly discussed plans to refresh its standard model.

Macquarie Securities analyst Damian Thong said that he believed the new standard model would be slimmer and less expensive than the current $350 device. He said it would mark a shift in strategy for Sony because the company previously stuck to releasing one console at a time and tried to sustain demand with regular price cuts.

In June, Microsoft Corp. announced a smaller version of its flagship Xbox One console, called the Xbox One S.

The PlayStation 4 console made its debut in 2013 and more than 40 million units have sold so far world-wide, according to Sony. That outpaces the Xbox One, which has sold an estimated 20 million units since its debut in 2013, according to analysts. Nintendo Co. says its Wii U has sold 13 million units since 2012.

Sony Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai has described the PlayStation business and related services as the leading engine of the company’s growth.

Ahead of the September news conference, Sony has cut production of PlayStation 4 to adjust inventory, people familiar with the matter said. Several major e-commerce websites in Japan, including Sony’s own e-commerce site, said the PlayStation 4 was out of stock.

PlayStation 4 sales have been weaker in Japan than in the U.S. Data from videogame magazine publisher Famitsu showed sales of the console in Japan have been declining slightly in recent weeks. Nevertheless, stocks of the device are likely to run out as the company limits production.

Visitors play on Sony PlayStation 4 games consoles at the IFA Consumer Electronics Show in Berlin. Sony said in June that it planned to introduce a high-end version of PlayStation 4 with enhanced graphics capabilities. ENLARGE
Visitors play on Sony PlayStation 4 games consoles at the IFA Consumer Electronics Show in Berlin. Sony said in June that it planned to introduce a high-end version of PlayStation 4 with enhanced graphics capabilities. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS
“The white model was gone two weeks ago and we just sold our last black model in stock,” said the chief of the videogame floor at a major electronics store in Tokyo. “Our central purchasing department warned us we wouldn’t get any for now because the item is simply not in distribution channels.”

Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute, said the soon-to-be unveiled PlayStation 4 consoles are part of a larger push to accelerate the business that includes the October introduction of virtual-reality headset PlayStation VR. Sony has been trying to lure a wider audience to its PlayStation network by adding nongame content, such as the PlayStation Vue cloud-based TV streaming service.

Sony has said it plans to ship more than 20 million PlayStation 4 units in the year ending March 2017, up from 17.7 million in the previous year.

Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/sony-to-sell-updated-model-of-standard-playstation-4-1471833069

Monday, August 8, 2016

200 Million and still can't fix tracking

"Pokemon Go" has raked in $200 million in net revenue globally on the App Store and Google Play in its first month, beating other top-earning games such as "Candy Crush" and "Clash Royale", according to the latest research.

App intelligence firm Sensor Tower crunched the numbers on the first 30 days of the viral game where players have to hit the streeets and catch Pokemon.

Sensor Tower found that at the point when the game was launched in Japan on July 22, revenue growth accelerated significantly.

As a comparison, "Clash Royale", which was released in early March, earned just under $125 million in its first 30 days. "Clash Royale" was made by Supercell, the company behind "Clash of Clans" which was recently bought by Chinese internet giant Tencent for $8.6 billion.

"Pokemon Go" also earned more than seven times as much net revenue in its first month as "Candy Crush Soda Saga", the viral hit which was released in 2014.

Sensor Tower also notes that "Pokemon Go" was the fastest mobile game to reach 10 million downloads worldwide and users are spending around 26 minutes a day on average playing.

The game is free to download but offers in-app purchases where users can buy additional items. Niantic, the game's creator, also struck a deal withMcDonald's in Japan which has turned 3,000 of the fast food chain's restaurants into "gyms" where players can battle each other. This sponsored location model is expected to be something Niantic continues with and could help it drive further revenues.

It's unclear how much of this money Nintendo will see. Last month, the Japanese gaming giant said that "Pokemon Go" will have a "limited" impact on income and that it won't modify its financial forecasts. It clarified that it in fact does not make the game. It owns 32 percent of the "voting power of The Pokemon Company ", which holds the ownership rights to the fictional monsters. And the game is distributed and made by Niantic, which is a separate company. Nintendo does however have a small stake in Niantic.

"Pokemon Go" is still being rolled out into new territories while Niantic is still trying to iron out problems that have angered fans. However, the game has been banned in Iran where authorities cited "security concerns" over the game as players are encouraged to visit real life spaces.

Source: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/08/08/pokemon-go-earns-200-million-in-first-month-beating-candy-crush.html

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Why I write.

I have never been asked why I write. People just say nice things but never ask why I do it. It is actually a question I have never asked myself until I saw an article about the subject. So I thought I would write a post about it.

While thinking about the subject I searched the web for reasons other people may write. The answers ranged from calming emotions to just needing something to do. The number of reasons were spread across the spectrum. Then It came back to me. Why do I write?

I have been a stay at home day for a number of years. There were things going on that needed my attention and after losing a job we decided that it would be ok for me to not look for a job right away and to deal with the issue that needed my attention. Well that lasted longer than we thought. Over a decade later and I have still not worked a regular job. The thing is I have always had an imagination that I had a hard time controlling. By that I mean when I lay down at night or I’m driving in the car, my mind day dreams to the next level. Never simple things. Always things that are a fantasy in our world. So one day I sat down and began to write. I felt better about myself. I felt like I had a purpose in the world once again. I am not a great writer by any means. I know that and I do not try to fool myself into thinking anything else. I do believe I am getting better and that maybe with the project I am currently writing on that I can find an agent that believes in the work once I am done and sell it to a traditional publisher.

I could go the self-publish route. I have done that with my first few books. All of which I would consider are me learning to write. I just suck at promotion. I would like to have help in that department from a traditional publisher. So my fingers will be crossed. I hope to be ready to submit to agents by Christmas of this year.

So that is why I write.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Kevin Feige comments on Captain Marvel

Marvel has provided updates on the progress of the third Avengers movie and confirmed the release of the movie "Captain Marvel" in the recent Comic-Con in San Diego to the delight of fans. 

However, there are reports and rumors that Captain Marvel may not be a part of "Avengers: Infinity War Part 1."

According to Ecumenical News, Marvel has confirmed at the recent Comic-Con that the release date of the movie is set on March 8, 2019. It was also revealed alongside the release date that Brie Larson will take on the role of the female superhero.

The release date of "Captain Marvel" is set a year after the release of the third "Avengers" movie, which led to speculation that Captain Marvel will not be a part of the movie. Also according to Chatt Sports Net (CSN), Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige announced in May that Captain Marvel will not be part of any MCU film until her standalone movie has been released.  Feige, however, also hinted later that she may still be a part of "Avengers: Infinity War Part 1" which is sure to excite fans of Carole Danvers A.K.A. Captain Marvel.

Feige also provided an update regarding "Avengers: Infinity War Part 1" in Comic-Con, stating that the movie is the culmination of all material they have been working on since 2006. Feige also stated that the team is hard at work and will start shooting the movie at the end of the year. The movie is set to release on May 4, 2018.

Read more: http://www.asiastarz.com/articles/5722/20160731/avengers-infinity-war-captain-marvel-marvel-brie-larson-kevin-feige.htm#ixzz4G5EZ2IXT