Blast https://blastmagazine.com A magazine for the discerning broke American Mon, 12 Feb 2018 21:37:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 The Best VPNs for Macs https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/12/best-vpns-macs/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/12/best-vpns-macs/#respond Mon, 12 Feb 2018 21:37:05 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=100082 Whether online privacy is your main concern- or you just want to access sites that keep being blocked by your native ISP- a VPN (virtual private network) is a vital edition to any Mac. A VPN is essentially a service that enables you to access the web via a server operated by a VPN supplier. […]

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Whether online privacy is your main concern- or you just want to access sites that keep being blocked by your native ISP- a VPN (virtual private network) is a vital edition to any Mac.

A VPN is essentially a service that enables you to access the web via a server operated by a VPN supplier. All the information travels between your desktop, phone or tablet to this server and the data is encrypted.

The VPN hides your location so you’ll be able to remain anonymous and access blocked content but which VPNs work best and do they offer any additional benefits aside from the obvious?

A quick web search reveals a plethora of VPN services that make claims that they can’t live up to so it’s wise to conduct some research and separate the fact from the fiction.

Please also be aware that some free VPNs do try and install toolbars or third-party applications so it’s best to avoid them because they don’t generally offer much in terms of performance regardless.

Here is our guide for the best VPNs so far in 2018:

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPNs for Mac according to Best Online Reviews because it utilizes OpenVPN, the protocol that delivers the highest security and the best performance by default.

Although other providers may claim to beat that, the ExpressVPN is packed full of features and is certainly worth the outlay. In terms of numbers, it’s estimated the team utilize more than 1,000 servers across 145 locations in 94 countries, P2P support, and easy setup with custom clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, even Linux is also included.

As an added bonus, there are also a number of informative online tutorials to help get you started- as well as troubleshooting guides and around-the- clock support if you encounter any problems.

Pure VPN

Our second entry on the list -and an old favourite: PureVPN has been supplying reliable VPN services for close to a decade so it’s no surprise the team have developed an exclusive list of  new features recently.

Pure VPN boasts servers in 150+ countries, built-in ad and malware blocking, protocol support and protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks. Five devices are allowed and there are a number of payment options that can be accepted, unlike other providers.

Interestingly, if you want more from your VPN, you can make the most of the split tunneling feature that lets you decide which traffic goes through the VPN, and which travels via your ISP; this creates the ability to conjure an instant Wi-Fi VPN hotspot.

Nord VPN

Panama-registered Nord VPN is a leading supplier and it now boasts a growing user base of more than a million customers attracted to its security features in particular.

The company has grown off the back of a number of distinct features it offers and it’s easy to see why it ranks as one of the favourites in the VPN community. This VPN operates 1,300 servers in 60 locations across the globe. It also offers support for six simultaneous connections, plus it’s P2P-friendly which is a big bonus. In terms of cross-device availability, you can get apps for Windows as well as Mac, iOS and Android app. There’s also a kill switch, DNS leak blocking and onion support for extra security. 24/7 assistance is also available should only problems occur.

 

 

 

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The 15:17 to Paris – Movie Review https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/09/1517-paris-movie-review/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/09/1517-paris-movie-review/#respond Fri, 09 Feb 2018 12:00:32 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=100049 Clint Eastwood's take on the thwarted 2015 terrorist train attack in France.

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Some years ago, after watching Oprah Winfrey’s adaptation of the Toni Morrison master piece Beloved, it occurred to me that some books should be not be adapted for the screen. Ought not be adapted. I never doubted Winfrey’s passion for the material, but it just didn’t work in a cinematic context, and I’m not sure it could ever succeed the way it did in a literary setting. 

Such was the same feeling I had after seeing Clint Eastwood’s latest project, The 15:17 to Paris. The 15:17 to Paris is a story about determination, grit, and heroism in the face of evil—all Eastwood staples over the years. And on the surface, I can understand Eastwood’s passion for telling the story of how three friends thwarted an almost certain terrorism-style massacre on a European train in August of 2015.

The difficulty with this movie was evident from the release of the trailer. Any knowledge of the event or even a quick internet search of it reveals the incident was over and done with quickly. I’d say, liberally, ten to twenty minutes. A man emerged from a train bathroom with a pistol and AK-47. He was immediately confronted and fortunately the rifle jammed. A fight broke out, and the attacker was subdued. One passenger was shot and he survived.

In other recent movies about terrorist attacks, United 93 for example, or even with classic hostage movies such as The Taking of Pelham 123, the events unfold over hours, so there is enough to work with to produce a feature film. With The 15:17 to Paris, Eastwood has no such chronological crutch, so he must necessarily, obviously, go into the young men’s backgrounds to show us how they arrived at the point of becoming heroes.

And here is where the film runs into trouble. The beginning is very clunky, and if you see the movie you will know why immediately. The film –based on a book written by the three friends, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone— then shows how the trio met in middle school where they were all good-natured troublemakers. I read this as a nod to Stranger Things or IT, except, in this story, there would be no supernatural foes to fight eventually but real, human evil to confront.

We then jump ahead a few years where the friends have split up and are pursuing different lives. The narrative here is choppy, but it manages to settle into something interesting as we focus mainly on the struggles of Spencer Stone. Always a little hefty, he loses weight to be able to qualify for the Air Force. There is an effort to portray Stone as ever trying and failing at different endeavors. His constant disappointment is tempered by Christian faith and the notion that he is meant to do something greater. It’s endearing, but I’m not sure it is effective because this dramatic thread is erratic.

Stone encounters failure after failure and appears on the verge of a life of anger and frustration, but that never happens. Instead, he’s always jocular and lovable in the face of his setbacks, and it’s unclear how realistic these portrayals are or whether Eastwood hesitated to make a full-throated statement about faith and piety besting hollowness.

Throw in the fact that the other two friends, Skarlatos and Salder, nearly disappear from the film for 30 minutes and have no dramatic arcs to speak of, and one is left confused about the film being a tale of three musketeers or more one man’s efforts to overcome personal hurdles.

The other strange choice Eastwood makes is to have the adult versions of Sadler, Stone, and Skarlatos, play themselves. Their acting is what you would think: impassioned but not professional. This was tried also in the 2012 film Act of Valor, in which real Navy Seals played war fighters taking on an array of deadly foes. The film was criticized in some quarters for being too jingoistic, but whether one agrees with that or not, the clumsiness of the thespians could be overlooked because there was always action, as the Seals moved from one battle to the next.

In The 15:17 to Paris, Eastwood wants to lead us to that fateful day on the train, but, as I said, since the actual incident was very short, he has us follow the three friends across Europe as they enjoy time off, see sites, and party. It makes the amateur acting stand out in a negative way, and a good chunk of the film feels like filler –and very empty filler at that—until we can get to the seat-gripping conclusion. These decisions give the film an unfocused and, literally, a peripatetic feel.

One issue the movie does raise, a debate that occurs every time a mass shooting or attack occurs, is: what should you do? Ben Carson sparked some controversy a few years back when he said, and I paraphrase, you should not be passive and do what you have to do to take out the shooter or attackers. Throw a chair. Use what you have at hand to fight back. Don’t just hide under a desk.

Eastwood seems to be applauding the friends for not being passive, but easier said than done. Every attack is different, oftentimes with multiple assailants and means, and it cannot always be counted on that men and women with military experience will be on hand to intervene. But in these times, it can’t be denied that whether you are on a train, at a sporting event, or attending school, we must be more cognizant about the likelihood of an attack occurring.

Again, I’m not sure Eastwood meant to comment on this unfortunate reality, but since the film is in many ways haphazard I’m unclear what he wanted to communicate at all. Perhaps it was a mere documenting of the event, but then, as I pointed out at the beginning of the review, a fictional narrative might not have been the best choice.

In our zeal to tell stories, sometimes we have to take a step back and examine whether we ought to. Clint, as great a contributor as he’s been to the cinema and film history, should have proceeded with more circumspection in this case.

2 of 4 stars

Director:         Clint Eastwood

Cast:                Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone,    Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer

Running Time:        94 min.

Rating:                     PG-13

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Best iOS Games 2/8/18 https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/08/best-ios-games-2-8-18/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/08/best-ios-games-2-8-18/#respond Fri, 09 Feb 2018 04:59:06 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=100065 Blobs, cats, and Chocobos await you in this week’s batch of mobile games. Here’s our pick for the best of this week! Dandara ($14.99) Dandara pays homage to Metroidvania games of the past but it delivers plenty of new surprises along the way that makes it worth the investment. Its gorgeous environments are just waiting […]

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Blobs, cats, and Chocobos await you in this week’s batch of mobile games. Here’s our pick for the best of this week!


Dandara ($14.99)

Dandara pays homage to Metroidvania games of the past but it delivers plenty of new surprises along the way that makes it worth the investment. Its gorgeous environments are just waiting to be saved and explored by the game’s brave heroine, but you’ll need to remember them as you’ll be returning to certain areas once you increase your arsenal of abilities. It’s a game with classic roots, but its stylish and impressive offerings make it a game to own.

Simon’s Cat Dash (Free)

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Simon’s Cat Dash follows the chubby white cat on a quest to gather butterflies to impress his beloved Chloe. Sure it’s another side-scrolling endless runner, but its beautifully drawn worlds and extra challenges during your runs make this a casual game you should get. Plenty of unlockables, costumes, and cameos are in store for everyone, fans of the show or not.

Just Slide (Free)

Sliding a blob around a screen sounds simple, but throw in some traps, homing blasts, and other dangers and it gets a lot more challenging—and fun! Just Slide requires you to move your fingers and change the angle of the platform your hero is on to have him avoid traps and collect fragments in each level. You can also see how long you last in Endless mode or fight bosses in some imaginative ways.

Dig Dog – Treasure Hunter ($2.99)

Dig Dog is brutal roguelike that you just want to keep playing over and over again. Levels require you to hunt down a bone while avoiding traps and baddies all coming at you. There’s depth in each level as you need to plan ahead to avoid dying, but you will die a lot which is totally fine considering how quickly a new level pops up right after. A catchy bit tunes soundtrack also makes digging quite the smooth experience.

Torto Turtle (Free)

Torto Turtle challenges your vocabulary skills in each level it throws your way. Use up enough letters to meet each level’s requirement or race against the clock and see how many new words you can spell with the letters you are given. Similar to Candy Crush, things get more difficult and you’ll soon discover coming up with words also requires some planning to maximize your score each turn.

The X-Files: Deep State (Free)

The truth is out there so as a rookie detective, you’ll need to investigate the scenes you encounter for clues and discover what strange supernatural forces are behind each one. More than a hidden object game, you’ll also need to interrogate witnesses and make tough final decisions in each case. Fans of the series will appreciate the subtle references here and there, and everyone else will enjoy the game’s impressive story and gameplay.

Ink or Swim (Free)

Simple and yet quite addictive, Ink or Swim wants you to swim as far as you can as a squid. Tap left or right to propel him upwards, but avoid any dangerous sea creatures and traps or your swim is over. You can also pick up golden clams to unlock even more underwater worlds, each with its own unique flair. A catchy soundtrack will also make you want to come back for more!

Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition (Free)

Ditch the console version of Final Fantasy XV and play this compact and quite adorable-looking Pocket Edition instead. Follow Noctis and his pals through 10 chapters each giving you enough action and dialogue to rival the original. It may be a tad more linear and give you fewer areas to explore, but this is one RPG you want to take with you.

StrikeMaster Bowling (Free)

Take to the lanes in Strike Master Bowling, a colorful and engaging arcade title that features plenty to do. Play through tournaments against AI or other players around the world and see who has the better wrist. Or, you can take on challenges and test your skills under certain restrictions. What’s more, its one-swipe controls make the game easy to pick up but a blast to master.

Caravan Wars (Free)

Caravan Wars combines both city-building with tower-defense gameplay to provide an easy to pick up experience that grows at your own pace. Take on battles and position your troops wisely to defeat incoming enemies. At the same time, you’ll also be growing your city and forging your heroes to make them even stronger when you take enemies and players around the world. After all, it’s war.

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Venom teaser trailer hints at a thrilling origin story https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/08/venom-teaser-trailer-hints-thrilling-origin-story/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/08/venom-teaser-trailer-hints-thrilling-origin-story/#respond Thu, 08 Feb 2018 20:17:03 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=100060 “Venom” stars Academy Award® nominated actor Tom Hardy and Ryz Ahmed in an action-packed retcon of the much beloved anti-hero. According to Sony Pictures, the movie takes place in the same universe as Spiderman: Homecoming but it is technically not a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since Spidey will be officially joining the Avengers […]

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“Venom” stars Academy Award® nominated actor Tom Hardy and Ryz Ahmed in an action-packed retcon of the much beloved anti-hero. According to Sony Pictures, the movie takes place in the same universe as Spiderman: Homecoming but it is technically not a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since Spidey will be officially joining the Avengers this summer, it is likely Tom Holland won’t make much of an appearance in “Venom,” which can help the franchise distinguish itself as the darker cousin of the more cheery Marvel fare.

Most notably, the trailer does not show the titular character in infected form, which is a smart move since visual effects are probably not finished and it allows some mystery to grow around the character.

“Venom” is set to hit theaters on Oct. 5, 2018

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Scam Alert: That Facebook Quiz Might Be a Scam https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/06/scam-alert-facebook-quiz-might-scam/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/06/scam-alert-facebook-quiz-might-scam/#respond Tue, 06 Feb 2018 17:35:20 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=100044 From the Better Business Bureau: We’ve all been bored one time or another and turned to social media for something entertaining to do. In doing so we’ve all most likely come across an online quiz and thought, “why not?” These online quizzes seem innocent enough. However, in taking the quiz you might be giving more […]

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From the Better Business Bureau:

We’ve all been bored one time or another and turned to social media for something entertaining to do. In doing so we’ve all most likely come across an online quiz and thought, “why not?” These online quizzes seem innocent enough. However, in taking the quiz you might be giving more away about yourself than you originally thought.

These quizzes ask seemingly silly or useless questions, but hackers can use that information to penetrate your social accounts and gain access to your personal information or the information of your friends and family.

According to Khristian Ibarrola, of Inquirer.net “Once answered, hackers can easily hijack personal accounts and use them to lure in more victims.” The hackers will include links embedded in the quiz that can cause a security breach of your personal accounts.

Another red flag you should be aware of is if the quiz asks you to sign into a social site, give your email address, or send to several friends to gain you quiz results. “The danger in each of these scenarios is that you’re giving away even more access to a hacker,” says Olivia Smith, Communications Manager of BBBCV. “By connecting these malware links to your social accounts, the hacker is one step closer to all of the accounts of your friends too.” “They can also pose as you and send their quiz or corrupted links to your friends, who will be more likely to take a quiz or click a link coming from a friend than if it was coming from an unknown user,” added Smith.

The next time you come across a quiz think about where it’s coming from, if the website is unfamiliar to you move on.

Tips to avoid an online quiz scam:

  • Be skeptical: Before you take a quiz, figure out who created it. Is it a brand you trust?
  • Adjust privacy settings: Review your social media account’s privacy settings and be strict about what information you share.
  • Remove personal details from your profile: Don’t share information like your phone number or home address on Facebook or other accounts.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.

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AccuWeather Responds to Miscoded NWS Tsunami Warning https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/06/accuweather-responds-miscoded-nws-tsunami-warning/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/06/accuweather-responds-miscoded-nws-tsunami-warning/#respond Tue, 06 Feb 2018 17:29:34 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=100040 Miscoded NWS Test Leads to False Tsunami Warning By Multiple Weather Media Outlets AccuWeather Global Headquarters – February 6, 2017 – This morning AccuWeather passed on a National Weather Service Tsunami Warning that was intended by the NWS to be a test but was miscoded by the NWS as a real warning.  AccuWeather has the most […]

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Miscoded NWS Test Leads to False Tsunami Warning By Multiple Weather Media Outlets

AccuWeather Global Headquarters – February 6, 2017 – This morning AccuWeather passed on a National Weather Service Tsunami Warning that was intended by the NWS to be a test but was miscoded by the NWS as a real warning.  AccuWeather has the most sophisticated system for passing on NWS tsunami warnings based on a complete computer scan of the codes used by the NWS. While the words “TEST” were in the header, the actual codes read by computers used coding for real warning, indicating it was a real warning.  

The NWS warning also later appeared on other sources such as The Weather Channel and it even appears on some pages of the NWS own website as a real warning.  The NWS is the original source of the information and displayed it as a real warning.

Tsunami warnings are handled with the utmost concern by AccuWeather and it has sophisticated algorithms to scan the entire message, not just header words, as from the time of a warning to the actual event can be mere minutes.  AccuWeather was correct in reading the mistaken NWS codes embedded in the warning.  The responsibility is on the NWS to properly and consistently code the messages, for only they know if the message is correct or not.

As reported by AccuWeather, once discovered that the NWS had incorrectly coded the warning, we sent messages  via social channels that no tsunami warning is in effect for the East Coast of the U.S.

This is not the first time legitimate warning coding was embedded erroneously by the NWS and consequently triggered alerts.   In October 2014, AccuWeather advised NWS in writing about the potential for this problem to be repeated if not fixed.

AccuWeather’s CEO Barry Myers wrote to the NWS over three years ago: “We understand the reason for test messages, but we feel that NWS consider fail safe measures for the future to prevent such an occurrence.  The issuance did say it was a “TSUNAMI WARNING,” but it was not a tsunami warning, rather simply a test of the system.  We note that the method currently used of relying on the “TEST” in the header of the product and a test in the VTEC status, as the identifying device for software coding in numerous programs and systems used by a plethora of companies to identify such messages, has proven to be a less than perfect system.”

This is all a matter of public record.

AccuWeather is continuing to work with NWS to determine why this coding was improperly embedded in its test alert system.

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Security Matters: Investing in a VPN https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/06/security-matters-investing-vpn/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/06/security-matters-investing-vpn/#respond Tue, 06 Feb 2018 16:22:05 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=100031 How do you approach public WiFi networks? Are you sure that nobody is spying your Internet activity while you’re browsing your favorite website in the airport or your favorite coffee shop? The problem with Internet traffic privacy is huge in the 21st century. Thousands of smartphones, laptops, and tablets are hacked every day in the […]

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How do you approach public WiFi networks? Are you sure that nobody is spying your Internet activity while you’re browsing your favorite website in the airport or your favorite coffee shop?

The problem with Internet traffic privacy is huge in the 21st century. Thousands of smartphones, laptops, and tablets are hacked every day in the places we all go to. Whenever you connect to a public network you face the risk of getting your personal and business data stolen. How long does it take to reach your Internet traffic while using a free hotspot? Just a minute. But don’t panic! Now there are the ways to improve the security in such situations. The primary way to do it is, of course, to install a VPN. A VPN service is a multipurpose tool to secure your Internet connection, protect your private data, and forget about the limits the Internet has. There is even a Netflix VPN, which allows you to connect to any version of a Netflix system no matter which country you are in.

So, let’s talk about a VPN a little bit more.

Internet Security Measures Through a VPN

When you’re transferring data in the public network, any information is going to be secure and your passwords and logins will be hidden. Of course, if you have a VPN installed.

A VPN creates a tunnel, which encrypts your information turning it from something easily reachable to something that is no longer readable by other people. This concerns all information, which is going from your location to the websites you’re visiting.

A VPN is:

  • Privacy;
  • Protection;
  • And free access to every blocked website you weren’t able to visit before.

How Does It Work?

When you start using a VPN, the program tells you about your real location. What you should do is to go to the list of the simulated countries, provided by a service and connect to a server (country), which you would like to browse from. You can also simulate your IP address if you want or you can leave it for the program to choose by itself. Depending on the service you have and the number of countries it includes, you can choose the one you want or the one which is the closest one to your location. Now, your information can’t be stolen and your traffic can’t be monitored.

Conclusion

Browsing the Internet in public places is like throwing out your name and address out there so everyone else can easily see it whenever they want to. Do you like that? Be smart, protect your information, use a VPN. It is only up to you. Try different VPN services, see how you like them, choose one, and be sure that your personal and business data is safe and private. Don’t put a VPN on one device if you have several of them. Always search for service with a sufficient number of devices.

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The Most Popular Forms of Online Entertainment https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/06/popular-forms-online-entertainment/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/06/popular-forms-online-entertainment/#respond Tue, 06 Feb 2018 14:30:38 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=100027 Every day billions and billions of users go online for all sorts of reasons. Whether it’s to purchase items or services online, find answers to a specific question, look for directions, do research for schoolwork, listen to music or play online games it has never been easier to find what we are looking for. In […]

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Every day billions and billions of users go online for all sorts of reasons. Whether it’s to purchase items or services online, find answers to a specific question, look for directions, do research for schoolwork, listen to music or play online games it has never been easier to find what we are looking for. In 2016 it was reported that most Internet users are searching for information about goods and services, but there is still a huge percentage of the population who use the Internet to find different forms of pastime activities on a daily basis. After the introduction of smartphones our access to online entertainment has become even more accessible and we have every reason to believe that the need for entertainment will keep increasing in the future.

Social Media

Social media is one of the most popular forms of online entertainment and one of the top reasons for billions of users to go online every day. In 2017 global social media usage reached an average of 135 minutes per person each day. Together with blogging online social networks made its way into our lives in the beginning of the 2000s and since then it has only increased in popularity. Today nearly 2.50 billion users are active on one or more social media platforms and by 2021 it is estimated that these numbers will reach 3.02 billions. The most popular social media platform worldwide is Facebook with over 2000 million users. Facebook was launched as early has 2004 and was made available worldwide in 2006. By late 2007 and early 2008 “everyone” was getting a Facebook account.  YouTube is the second most popular social network site with around 1500 million users. YouTube was launched in 2005 and introduced a whole new way of sharing personal videos and interacting with other users. Instagram has reported 800 million users and Twitter has around 330 million users. Facebook messenger and WhatsApp are the two most popular messaging apps worldwide. There are countless of other social media platforms around the world used for both entertainment and professional purposes.

Online Video Games

Ever since video games gained mainstream popularity in the 1970s and 1980s it has been an enjoyable pastime activity for children and adults around the world. As the Internet evolved the way people enjoy video games has reached new levels and standards. Today one can play multiplayer games online and interact with other users. One of the most played online video games is League of Legends. In 2013 they reported having about 12 million daily players and a monthly average of 32 million unique players. Hearthstone (originally known as Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft) is an online collectible card game that users all over the world can enjoy for free. In 2017 this game had 50 million players in one month.

World of Warcraft is another popular online video game. It was released in 2005 and in 2015 the game had 5.5 million subscriptions.

Online Casinos

Online gambling is more popular than ever and the online casino industry has had a massive growth since it started in the mid nineties. In the beginning the industry mostly consisted of a few online poker rooms and video poker slot machines. Since then online gambling has exploded in popularity and there are now countless of online casinos available for players from all corners of the world. Today you can play online versions of anything from classic table games, poker and slot machines and you can place bets on numerous of sports with just a few clicks. Especially in the Nordic countries online casino has increased in popularity over the last ten years. In Finland JohnSlots.com is a popular site for free play and in Norway NorskNettcasino is the go-to-site to find the latest information about online casinos.

Music Streaming

The way we experience music has completely changed with the developments in technology and the Internet. Some of us can vaguely still remember the feeling of having to wait for your favorite song to come on the radio to be able to enjoy it. Or the frustration when you tried to tape music and the radio hosts ruined your recording by talking over the song. Today the memory of downloading music and burning CDs even seems deprecated, but there was a time where most people couldn’t picture it ever being any easier to get hold of your favorite music and listen to it anytime you wanted. Not to mention when the first MP3 players became affordable and available to the public and you all of a sudden had the freedom of carrying your favorite music around in your pocket at all times. Today there is an even easier way to bring your music with you as you have anything and everything you need on your smartphone. Numerous of different streaming sites and apps gives you immediate access to your favorite music at all times. The most popular site for on demand music streaming is YouTube. Although it wasn’t originally created for music YouTube is today responsible for 46% of the music streaming time worldwide. Spotify and Apple Music are other popular streaming sites and are both increasing in popularity. Most music streaming apps will also let you download and save your playlists, meaning that you can enjoy your music even when you are not online.

Video Streaming

The same way music streaming has become more and more popular Video streaming has had a similar type of development. There is a huge variety of different video streaming apps available these days, which allows you to watch your favorite TV shows and movies whenever you want. Netflix, started as a service allowing users to buy and rent DVDs. In 2007 they included streaming services to their product catalog and in late 2015/early 2016 they operated in almost 200 different countries around the world. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video are among the most popular paid streaming services for watching TV shows and movies and YouTube is one of the most popular services for other types of videos.

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Best iOS Games 2/1/18 https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/01/best-ios-games-2-1-18/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/02/01/best-ios-games-2-1-18/#respond Fri, 02 Feb 2018 02:54:15 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=100010 Getaway cars, adorable alien puzzles, and Final Fantasy foes all make an appearance in this week’s batch of mobile games. Here are our picks for this week’s best. Ayo: A Rain Tale ($2.99) Follow a brave young woman in search of water for her village in this charming platformer. Guide Ayo through dark tunnels and […]

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Getaway cars, adorable alien puzzles, and Final Fantasy foes all make an appearance in this week’s batch of mobile games. Here are our picks for this week’s best.


Ayo: A Rain Tale ($2.99)

Follow a brave young woman in search of water for her village in this charming platformer. Guide Ayo through dark tunnels and master ledge hopping as you collect raindrops symbolizing a resource so many of us take for granted. Friendly spirits will give her skills to progress through her journey and some simple puzzles and not-so friendly foes add a nice change of pace to the exploration.

Magic Golf (Free)

Magic Golf lets you play some wacky courses that put a new spin on classic mini golf. Courses will challenge you to clear them within a number of shots, race the clock in timed challenges, or have you pick up collectibles along the way. This addictive game even lets you make your own courses, share them with friends, and play against others across the world.

HeadShot ZD (Free)

Surviving the zombie apocalypse is tough and so is surviving HeadShot ZD. Your resources will start dwindling down by the day so your team of survivors must go on missions shooting down zombies to collect food and water. Rescue other survivors with added skills and upgrade your camp to bring in more people, resources, and added firepower.

Hero Hunters (Free)

Take cover and shoot down enemies from a distance or use special skills and blow them up in this action-packed shooter that features over 40 unique characters to unlock and upgrade. Hero Hunters features an engaging campaign as well as PvP battles and co-op missions. Mix up your team and switch to different heroes during battle to get the upper hand.

Pako 2 ($2.99)

Pako 2 brings even more getaway missions right to your fingertips. Drive your car through deserts, cities, and other locations you’ll unlock and shoot down the pesky authorities trying to spoil your fun. The trick is to make it to checkpoints as safely as possible to rack up your score without crashing and blowing up. Upgrade your vehicles and take on the leaderboards in this stylish arcade title.

Onmyoji (Free)

Japanese folktales are the backdrop of Onmyoji, a game that features turn-based battles and hundreds of demons and creatures to control. The game’s campaign has you traveling the world in an effort to restore the balance of good and evil by battling monsters and recruiting new ones on your side. Unlock stronger allies and power up your teams to take on the world in PvP battles.

Bring You Home ($2.99)

Bring You Home is a gorgeous puzzler that has you controlling the levels, and not the game’s adorable hero, on his journey to find his stolen cat. Travel through different worlds and make it to the next one by swiping parts of each level to clear a path for Polo. Its charming characters and imaginative gameplay are sure to put a smile on your face as you explore all possible level combinations until you get the right one.

Dice Soccer City (Free)

True to its name, Dice Soccer City mixes soccer with dice rolls to give you a city-building game unlike any other you’ve played. In order to grow your city, you’ll need to play soccer matches against those you want to recruit, and you’ll need to roll the dice to perform tricks on the field and score a goal each time. Build your team of soccer stars and take on other city builders in live matches too.

Mad Skills BMX 2 (Free)

Channel your inner BMX rider and take on other players to see who has what it takes to finish first. You’ll need to master your bike controls as you encounter bumpy hills, sandy dunes, and steep hills that’ll send your rider flying high. Unlock new bikes or upgrade your current wheels for tighter controls and even faster times when you go ahead the clock in time trial modes.

Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia (Free)

Build a team of your favorite Final Fantasy heroes as you take on a world of evil in this action-packed RPG. A new combat system will challenge you to balance your attack strategies to get the most out of your turn. Unlock new familiar faces along your journey and upgrade their skills to take on iconic bosses worth fighting again.

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Women Crave A New Kind of Hero https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/31/women-crave-new-kind-hero/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/31/women-crave-new-kind-hero/#respond Wed, 31 Jan 2018 18:39:10 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=100005 by Shaz Kahng Today more than ever women are not only ready for but are starving for a new kind of hero. In real life many women have been victimized, harassed, and discriminated against. Despite how hard so many women work and the great results they deliver, many of these women are getting trampled, marginalized, […]

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by Shaz Kahng

Today more than ever women are not only ready for but are starving for a new kind of hero. In real life many women have been victimized, harassed, and discriminated against. Despite how hard so many women work and the great results they deliver, many of these women are getting trampled, marginalized, or forgotten in the workplace. But this isn’t only happening to women in the real world…it’s also happening to women in the world of fiction, which is even more surprising.

For example, have you ever wondered why smart female business leaders in novels are always portrayed as evil or intent on crushing the careers of other women? Or why in some stories the female executive is allowed to be successful at work, but in her personal life she’s a basket case where she’s desperate for a man, or obsessed with shoes, or has way too many skittish cats crammed into her apartment.

Yet, a double standard exists in fiction. Male lead characters are expected to have it all. If a man is a business leader in a novel or the big screen he is portrayed as unapologetically successful: talented and respected as a business leader, revered by the community, and adored by his many friends. And in his personal life this male chief executive is either surrounded by the perfect loving wife, two obedient kids, and an adorable dog or he’s single and happily dating a supermodel neurosurgeon who’s also a former gymnast.

The notion that male characters can be universally successful while a female character can only achieve success in one part of her life is simply not fair. And more than unfair, it is completely inaccurate. The reality is there are many talented female business leaders out there who are doing amazing things and are acting as positive role models for others- women and men. Why is it that no one has been offering up stories that reflect this reality? Why isn’t anyone interested in letting these strong women’s voices be heard? Why isn’t anyone publishing novels or making movies about these women and for these women?

The answer is that most of the power to green light creative projects rests with men. For some reason many of these men mistakenly believe that women (and men) aren’t interested in stories about smart, strong, positive female leaders. They believe that a story about a woman overcoming challenges to succeed with smarts, scruples, and style is of no interest to people. I’m here to tell you that they’re wrong.

The new hero that women are starving to see is long overdue…and it’s a strong woman. What’s different about this type of hero? First of all she uses her brain to solve problems creatively. She has integrity and strength of character. She is determined and doesn’t give up regardless of the obstacles put in front of her. She knows when to be tough and when to show emotion. And she’s not made in the typical mold. She might even be ethnically diverse. Imagine that!

The great news is that now this hero does exist in the world of fiction. In my new novel, The Closer, the protagonist is an Asian American woman named Vivien Lee who becomes the first female CEO of a sports company. The icing on the cake is that the other key women in the story are part of the Ceiling Smashers society, a secret society of professional women who help each other succeed. These women are accomplished, diverse, and achieve their goals with honor. I’ve had numerous female and male readers say they’ve never read anything like The Closer before and their main question is, “Where has this book been?”

So I have a few requests: For the people making the green light decisions, please try to offer a fresher, truer take on strong, smart women. For actors like Reese Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, and Elizabeth Banks who are utilizing their talent and brains to bring new material to audiences- why not push for projects with more positive, aspirational female characters? And for you, the readers and filmgoers, the next time you see the same old characters and same old plots being offered up, vote with your pocketbook and pass up these stories until you see something worth reading or worth watching. And please check out my book The Closer as it was written to fill a need- to offer up the heroes that women are craving.

 

 

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Award-winning Composer Jeff Russo: The Blast Interview https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/30/award-winning-composer-jeff-russo-blast-interview/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/30/award-winning-composer-jeff-russo-blast-interview/#respond Tue, 30 Jan 2018 15:36:40 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=100001 Although you may not be familiar with Jeff Russo’s name, you have definitely heard his music. The two-time Grammy nominee and Emmy winning composer has scored a diverse range of projects for film, television, and video games. His work on the FX series Fargo earned him a coveted Emmy award, while his performances with rock […]

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Although you may not be familiar with Jeff Russo’s name, you have definitely heard his music. The two-time Grammy nominee and Emmy winning composer has scored a diverse range of projects for film, television, and video games. His work on the FX series Fargo earned him a coveted Emmy award, while his performances with rock band “Tonic” led the band to two Grammy nominations. Russo has also scored a multitude of other exciting projects, including Star Trek: Discovery, Legion, and Altered Carbon. Recently, his work was heard by countless attendees at the Sundance Film Festival, where his latest project, Lizzie, premiered last week.

Blast’s Madeline Knutson spoke with Russo about his greatest challenges, musical experiences, and outside influences.

Blast Magazine: You’ve had the opportunity to score the first two seasons of Legion. Was it challenging to write music for the main character, David, since he is unsure of his own reality?

Jeff Russo: Every project has its own challenges. In this particular case, we wanted to invite the audience to experience things in the same way as the character. We didn’t want the music to tip one way or the other and give away whether David’s experiences were real or not. We carried that same ethic into season 2. We play music when it has an emotional reason to be there. We’re not trying to play trippy music in a psychotropic scene and hit the nail on the head. The music shouldn’t give anything away but it also needs to support the narrative, which makes it more complicated but also more fun.

Blast Magazine: When you scored Star Trek: Discovery, were you influenced by the music from past Star Trek iterations?

Russo: I really do my own thing. I write the way that I write. With Star Trek: Discovery, it already had a sound that I wanted to apply my music to. It had a big orchestra sound with lots of brass and big fanatic melodies and I wanted to put my stamp on that sound. I was influenced by the Star Trek franchise, but I didn’t go back and listen to scores or take inspiration from them. Those scores of past Star Trek iterations were a part of my DNA growing up and are always a part of my subconscious. The only time I went back was for the original series’ main theme. I nodded to Alexander Courage’s main fanfare in the new main title and throughout the new series. I wanted to connect to something and show where we were going, as this show takes place 10 years prior. There is nothing like evoking that feeling.

Blast Magazine: When working on projects like Fargo and Legion, which have so many strong characters, do you first focus on creating music for the overall story or do you decide on the character themes first?

Russo: Each project is different, so I treat each story differently. When I need to break it down for characters, I do. When it needs to be broad, I try to tell the story from 30,000 feet. I’ve done both for Fargo and Legion. For season 1 of Fargo, it was more of a 30,000 foot look down on the entire story. There were character cues and themes, but it was all tied together. For season 2, there is more of a focus on the individual story and that continues into season 3. For Legion, I try to do a little of both. I try to tell the story of David and Syd, which is a love story for the ages, and how that love overcomes everything. It’s important to stay in touch with that aspect of the story while also telling this much grander good vs. evil story.

Blast Magazine: You began your professional music career as a founding member of the rock band “Tonic”. How do you think that your experiences with the group helped you in your journey to become a composer?

Russo: Writing songs had an effect on the way I approach writing a score. I was used to writing pieces of music based on what a lyric might be. I told a story in that way and I’ve always been a storyteller. In the band, we would just write songs and the lyric and melody were king. I applied that knowledge to composing and it worked itself out. The transition was just about me being in the right place at the right time. It was a happy semi-orchestrated accident. I went to a good friend’s studio and I checked out what she was doing. I took a liking to the idea of writing music for someone else’s story and underscoring the emotional core of a story. I then tried to get my own gigs and met some people who had the same music ideas as I did in terms of what could be used to help tell a story.

Blast Magazine: With all of the projects that you’ve worked on, have you ever been faced with one that you just couldn’t find the right sound for? What did you do when that happened?

Russo: 25 years ago, a really good friend of mine said to “write, write, write, keep writing, write more, and then ruthlessly edit what you have done.” I just continue to work forward and then go backwards to try to edit away the things I don’t like. Most of the time, the sound is already found, but it’s a question of me mining through the story and pictures. I don’t have to find anything but I must figure out how to dig it out from what’s inside this story. I haven’t yet been in a place where I’ve tried to think of a melodic motif and thought it was garbage. In terms of finding something, it usually finds me.

Blast Magazine: Your most recent project, Lizzie, premiered last week at Sundance Film Festival. It was such an intense and emotional film to watch. What was your experience like scoring such a dramatic piece?

Russo: I talked a lot with Craig Macneill [the director] about wanting to use a bit of silence to underscore the tension. I used a lot of silence in the middle of musical pieces. I wrote cord string swells with five or ten seconds of silence, which underscored the emotional connection between the two characters and the tension bearing down on both of them. It was lots of fun for me. Weaving melodies and themes out of that framework was interesting. The film performances were so great and didn’t need any help, which made my job a lot easier

Blast Magazine: Although you must feel relieved and overjoyed to finish each of your projects, which one has brought you the most happiness upon completion?

Russo: I’ve taken joy in every project that I’ve done. Every time I do something, I really do feel so great and fulfilled. Lizzie was particularly fulfilling since I hadn’t written a score that sounded like that before. I was also particularly fond of Star Trek: Discovery since I had never written a big sci-fi action score for television. I loved working on Legion because it was filled with music that I love to play and write.  

Blast Magazine: What would be your dream television or film project to score?

Russo: I try to never look backwards or sideways. There are so many great pieces of film and television music. My dream was to work on Star Trek and I’ve now been able to score the return of the first season to television. When I found out, I literally lost my mind and freaked out. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I love making music for emotionally driven and interesting storytelling. I’ve had the opportunity to write music for really well told stories and that’s the dream.

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Best iOS Games 1/25/18 https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/25/best-ios-games-1-25-18/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/25/best-ios-games-1-25-18/#respond Fri, 26 Jan 2018 00:20:22 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=99983 Impressive puzzle boxes, a turn-based strategy game feature werewolves and goblins, and a comedic journey through renaissance Europe await you in this week’s batch of mobile games. Take a look at our picks for the best this week has to offer. Thumper: Pocket Edition ($4.99) Keep your eyes sharp and your ears ready as you […]

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Impressive puzzle boxes, a turn-based strategy game feature werewolves and goblins, and a comedic journey through renaissance Europe await you in this week’s batch of mobile games. Take a look at our picks for the best this week has to offer.


Thumper: Pocket Edition ($4.99)

Keep your eyes sharp and your ears ready as you speed through a psychedelic speedway and tap your screen in tune with what you see and hear. As you progress through each level, your movements evolve and you will be you dashing, jumping, and turning your way to the final boss at the end of each level. This stylish rhythm game can get quite unforgiving at times, but that just makes clearing each trial so much sweeter.

Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle (Free)

Everyone’s favorite serial killer Jason Voorhees stars in this colorfully violent puzzler that features over 100 levels with plenty of campers to kill. Each puzzle requires you to slide Jason across the screen to murder every hapless victim. As you progress, puzzles get more complex and you’ll need to plan your moves accordingly or else you’ll get stuck, get caught by troublesome foes, or fall into icy waters.

My Little Chaser (Free)

After being a victim of a hit and run, a lone cactus takes on the road to chase down the assailant in this colorful title. Levels task you with picking up a set number of bits and bolts all while avoiding other cars on the road. As you get farther along on your journey, you’ll need to worry about picking up oil refills and dealing with violent road blocks. Take on others around the world in versus mode or play endless mode and see how long you last.

The Room: Old Sins ($4.99)

The Room: Old Sins features even more beautifully crafted puzzle boxes and a whole new mystery to unravel. Inspect each puzzle you are tasked with unlocking and you’ll discover even more intricacies to solve. Its ever-evolving puzzles will keep you glued to your screen as you return to areas you thought were cleared only to realize there’s even more to explore. Impressively addictive, you won’t want to put it down until you’re done.

Tactical Monsters (Free)

Assemble a team of monsters and magical warriors in this simple yet engaging turn-based strategy game. Tactical Monsters lets you control ghosts, werewolves, and many more creatures each with their own set of skills and ultimate attacks. Play through Adventure Mode and recruit new ones to your side and then take your team against the world in intense PVP battles.

Four Last Things ($3.99)

Four Last Things is a hilarious point-and-click adventure that has you journeying through renaissance Europe to commit the seven deadly sins in an effort to be forgiving for your sins in the first place. Its comical premise is just the beginning of your goofy quest for repentance as you travel to different towns and completing tasks for the folks you encounter. Did we mention they’re all pulled from classical paintings?

Infinite West (Free)

Infinite West is a charming turn-based strategy game that takes place in the Wild West and tells the story of a former gunslinger seeking justice for the death of his family. Take turns moving closer to each level’s exit, but be sure to take down enemy cowboys and hoodlums before they shoot you down. Levels get more intricate and introduce smart additions that will put your logic skills to the test.

Slime Pizza (Free)

After your spaceship crashes, it’s the job of a pizza delivery slime to find and get it all back. You’ll need to use his slimy body to stick onto surfaces and fling him to new heights avoiding foes that can end his run. Find keys to explore secret rooms, avoid traps, and unlock the checkpoints you want or see how far you go before dying.

Super Fancy Pants Adventure ($4.99)

Fluid controls and plenty of colorful pants and hats to collect await you in this charming platformer. Despite its stick-figure protagonist and minimalistic designs, Super Fancy Pants Adventure features an engaging world where levels flow into the next as you run, jump, and slide your way with style. Fight enemies that stand in your way and don’t forget to find all the secret doors to unlock extra goodies too.

WayOut ($0.99)

This simple yet addictive puzzler has you tapping tiles to change them to one color just like a game of Lights Out. This means that neighboring tiles are also affected by your taps so you’ll need to be smart in which ones you select first. What’s more, levels challenge you further by limiting you to a certain number of turns and introduce even more tricky tiles to deal with.

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The History of Skins in CS:GO https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/25/history-skins-csgo/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/25/history-skins-csgo/#comments Thu, 25 Jan 2018 14:23:32 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=99975 From the moment the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive beta test has been launched, it became clear that there will be a new feature in the game: skins that are available for weapon and clothes. These skins change character’s appearance, although his characteristics remain the same. So the cosmetic changes do not affect the gameplay balance. In […]

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From the moment the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive beta test has been launched, it became clear that there will be a new feature in the game: skins that are available for weapon and clothes. These skins change character’s appearance, although his characteristics remain the same. So the cosmetic changes do not affect the gameplay balance. In 2012, with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive release the the first cases with skins of weapon and keys to them have appeared. Key cost, at that time, was about $2.50. The skin, as well as now, dropped out randomly from the list of skins which have been assigned to a certain case. Since then, the era of exchange of game items has begun.

Now you can easily sell the skins you have acquired during the game in https://skinsmarket.com/ for a fair price. And the more you sell in the market the higher price you can get for each item sold, which can be a good source of extra cash.

The Development of Skins-Related Services

As trading services have not been developed and there is no ability to sell skins via the Steam, skins had no estimated cost in a money equivalent. They were estimated by keys to cases. For example, the skin of AK-47 could be changed for 4 keys, and it is $10. There were skins that costed one key only. Everything depended on popularity and a rarity of a skin among CS:GO community.

With the development of Steam Community Market in 2013 the situation has totally changed and the era of trade in CS:GO skin market has began. The cost of items was already determined by players. There was a live competition and the active market of skins of CS:GO.

Fan Community Art Engaged

In 2013 Steam starts a unique project “CS:GO Workshop: Create the skin”. The application developed by Steam allows players and everyone to independently create weapon skins for the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In those days, there was not enough competition. In a month, two-three models of a skin from the same user could have been passed for a fair pay. The creator received from 1% to 1.5% of reward for each sold copy of a skin via the Steam trading tool, or from each bought case on Steam where this skin was traded.

The competition on creation of skins continued to grow. At the moment, daily hundreds of thousands of skins are created in CS:GO Workshop. Certainly, all the units undergo strict selection and get to Steam Community Market and to CS:GO cases. Now, it is possible to instantly sell skins for real money on private trading services and the websites. At the moment, there are hundreds of similar services available around the Internet.

However, there are also swindlers that earn on naive players; such kind of things always happens in any kind of industry. So if you do not want to lose your money or skins for nothing, it is better to use reputable services.

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Reader Giveaway — Comet TV Swag https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/19/reader-giveaway-comet-tv-swag/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/19/reader-giveaway-comet-tv-swag/#comments Fri, 19 Jan 2018 20:26:07 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=99967 Halloween may be long over, but you can still indulge in all the witchy wonderfulness of “The Craft” on Comet TV this month.  The network welcomes all who want to cast a spell on the dreariness of the new year and embark on an adventure, with showings of films such as “Labyrinth” and “Bubba Ho-Tep”. […]

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Halloween may be long over, but you can still indulge in all the witchy wonderfulness of “The Craft” on Comet TV this month.  The network welcomes all who want to cast a spell on the dreariness of the new year and embark on an adventure, with showings of films such as “Labyrinth” and “Bubba Ho-Tep”. Additionally, fans of Edgar Allan Poe will be satisfied with double features all month.

To celebrate this new spooky year, Comet TV is giving away an amazing prize pack to a lucky reader of Blast Magazine. The winner will receive:

  1. Limited Edition “The Craft” Comet TV T-shirt to wear while watching the four witchy guardians of the watchtower this month
  2. “The Craft” Exclusive Comet TV Clamshell Box which includes exclusive throwback artwork and will take you back to the days of video stores
  3. “The Craft” Witching Hour Cleansing Kit to bring some peace and calmness to your life
  4. Exclusive “The Craft” Comet TV Tarot Cards to tell your future, which will definitely include some time watching Comet TV

In order to be eligible to win, please write your name and email in a comment below this article. Good luck and may your new year be full of spooky fun!

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Anne Nikitin: The Blast Interview https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/19/anne-nikitin-blast-interview/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/19/anne-nikitin-blast-interview/#respond Fri, 19 Jan 2018 20:24:19 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=99963 Since winning the BBC New Talent, New TV Composers scheme in 2006, Anne Nikitin has worked tirelessly to become the award-winning composer she is today. Nikitin’s work can be heard in various high-profile television series and films, including “Locked up Abroad,” “Captive,” and “The Imposter”. Her most recent project, “American Animals,” premieres at this year’s […]

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Since winning the BBC New Talent, New TV Composers scheme in 2006, Anne Nikitin has worked tirelessly to become the award-winning composer she is today. Nikitin’s work can be heard in various high-profile television series and films, including “Locked up Abroad,” “Captive,” and “The Imposter”. Her most recent project, “American Animals,” premieres at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it is highly anticipated by festival attendees. Earlier this week, Blast’s Madeline Knutson spoke with Nikitin about her musical growth, composing strategies, and dream projects.

Blast Magazine: Growing up, you had the opportunity to live in various countries around the world. Do you believe that your travels and immersion into so many unique cultures helped you in finding your own personal music style?

Anne Nikitin: Yes, I do. My mom is Romanian and my dad is Polish, so I absorbed a lot of Eastern European music at home, especially Romanian folk music, which is very powerful. I also lived in New Zealand, South Africa, and the Far East, and my parents would often play records from those places. We would go to live concerts to watch traditional music and dance and I learned indigenous songs at school. Memories of learning Maori songs and dance are still signed in my brain, which I love. From a young age, I started collecting instruments from my travels, which is something I still love to do. I do feel those childhood experiences informed my style. Whenever I hear music from those countries, I get a pang of nostalgia.

Blast Magazine: You play many of your own instruments, including guitar and keyboard. Do you think this is an important skill in order to be a successful composer?

Nikitin: I do play some of my own instruments, but I’m certainly not a virtuoso. I have a fear of public performance, especially piano, so I’m much more comfortable playing and experimenting in the privacy of my own studio. With the advancements made in music technology, you don’t necessarily have to play an instrument well, but it does help and I would always encourage it. Decent keyboard skills are useful for recording your compositions into your DAW.

Blast Magazine: During your career, you have been the composer for short films, feature films, and television programs. Is your process different for each of these ventures or do you approach each project with the same strategy?

Nikitin: I don’t differentiate in the way I approach a specific genre. The directors tend to determine the way I approach each project. Some directors want the composer to start very early on, while others will wait to give you a locked version of the firm. Each approach is valid and has its positives and negatives.

Blast Magazine: You seem to spend most of your time working on projects that have more intense and exciting storylines. How do you decide which projects you are interested in scoring and how much does the theme of the project play a part in that decision?

Nikitin: I was lucky that in the early days, my first commissions were on cinematic drama documentaries that told the stories of ordinary people being thrown into extraordinary, oppressive situations. I guess I gained a bit of a reputation for scoring dark, intense documentaries and dramas and now these commissions seem to find me. I’m naturally drawn to these genres. I love psychological thrillers, sci-fi, and compelling dramas with rich human stories. I love films that you can just dive into and come out of the other side feeling like you’ve been on an intense journey and completely submerged in the narrative, characters, mood, colors, and music.

Blast Magazine: How long have you known that music and composing was the career path you wanted to follow in life? Did you consider other pursuits at one time?

Nikitin: I definitely did not grow up thinking that music would be something that I could make a living doing. Although my parents always encouraged my creative side, I grew up believing that music should be a side hobby and I should aim for a “real” job. For many years, I wanted to be an engineer like my dad, until I reached a certain age where I was no longer good at physics and music seemed to be my natural calling. At university, I studied English Literature, but would spend my spare time attending music theory lectures. It was very nerdy and boggled the minds of my peers, but I really missed music. I slowly came to realize that I had to pursue it. I tried to stop the urge and be sensible, but I couldn’t. Luckily, it’s worked out so far.

Blast Magazine: For the film “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” you teamed up with the London Contemporary Orchestra. Is that something you would be interested in doing again?

Nikitin: After the film, I worked with them again on a film called “Calibre,” which is due for release this year. Most recently, we worked together at Abbey Road Studios to record “American Animals,” which will premiere at Sundance. They are an exciting and dynamic orchestra, who work with an eclectic range of composers and musicians. I love their versatility and their energy. Hugh Brunt and Robert Ames, who formed the orchestra, are incredible musicians and great fun to work with.

Blast Magazine: As you mentioned previously, your film “American Animals” will premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. What was your experience like scoring that film?

Nikitin: The score for “American Animals” was definitely challenging and, at first, a tough nut to crack. The film has many complex layers to consider. First, there’s a wide range of moods to score from humor to sadness to stifling tension and action. There are also four strong characters who each needed an introductory theme. Second, “American Animals” references other films from a variety of periods and genres – it’s a “movie within a movie”, so music has to play with this idea. Lastly, director Bart Layton has once again pushed the boundaries in terms of genre, so music was needed to help create a smooth transition between the movie world and the real (“doc”) world.

Blast Magazine: You’ve had the chance to work on some amazing projects in the past, but what would be your dream project to score if you had the opportunity?

Nikitin: “Blade Runner,” “Drive,” and “Lost in Translation.” When I think of those three films, I think of a “feeling” above all else. These are moody, evocative, atmospheric films, with beautiful cinematography and a striking color palette, each following a central character with a very human story.

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Best iOS Games 1/18/18 https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/18/best-ios-games-1-18-18/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/18/best-ios-games-1-18-18/#respond Fri, 19 Jan 2018 02:20:34 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=99946 From shoot-em-ups to classic cart racers, this week’s batch of mobile games has something for everyone. Take a look at our top picks of games released this week. Jydge ($4.99) Jydge is a stylish top-down shooter that offers plenty of levels of crime-fighting action in the futuristic city of Edenbyrg. Build your own hero and […]

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From shoot-em-ups to classic cart racers, this week’s batch of mobile games has something for everyone. Take a look at our top picks of games released this week.


Jydge ($4.99)

Jydge is a stylish top-down shooter that offers plenty of levels of crime-fighting action in the futuristic city of Edenbyrg. Build your own hero and customize him with cybernetic enhancements as you progress through levels that offer you different challenges and objectives to complete. Rescue hostages, survive unscathed, and bust through hideouts all while enjoying a smart soundtrack in this simple, yet impressive game.

Hero Academy 2 (Free)

A blend of real time strategy and card mechanics, Hero Academy 2 brings even more decks to unlock and plenty of new battles to win. Build your team by unlocking powerful cards and playing your hand wisely against both computer and human-players in PVP matches. You’ll need to master your decks and hone your skills if you want to outsmart the competition in this tactical gem.

Full of Sparks (Free)

When fireworks don’t want to burn out, what do they do? They throw themselves in water, that’s what! Each level has you guiding a brave firecracker through dangerous levels to reach water at the end. You’ll need to have fast reflexes as you trigger color-coded traps with a tap of your finger. One wrong move will make you go boom.

Catsby (Free)

Catsby is an adventure platformer that pays homage to Game Boy games of the past and tells the story of a cat trying to find its owner. Levels have you picking up weapons and power-ups , jumping over pitfalls, and fighting tough bosses at the end. It’s a classic formula, but its nostalgic touches and wonderfully created levels make this a fun journey to take.

Space Cycler ($1.99)

Control a spaceship circling its way through tunnel-like levels in this colorful shoot-em-up. What sets this one apart is that your ship is moving in a circular pattern around the screen. Pick up power-ups and blast your way through hundreds of enemies and bosses and even play with a friend in co-op mode. Just don’t bump into each other too much!

Fling Fighters (Free)

Simple in design but fun to pick up and play, Fling Fighters is a combat game where your only means of attack is to fling stuff at your opponent. Your characters will fling bananas, rocks, and even gingerbread men to knock out the enemy on the other side of the screen. Unlock different fighters or make them even stronger with all the money you get from your wins.

Quote Codes (Free)

A casual brain teaser, Quote Codes has you deciphering common phrases, famous quotes , and sayings one letter at a time. Each symbol stands for a letter in each puzzle you are faced with, so trial and error go a long way as you try to solve each one. Use up coins if you need hints, or simply relax and use your logic skills figuring out common words right away.

Finger Driver (Free)

True to its name, Finger driver has you using your finger to steer a car through an endless road of curves and turns. Don’t turn the wheel too much in one direction or your vehicle will crash off the road, but don’t forget to pick up gems to unlock even more trucks, cars, and crazy wheels as you test your reflexes on each road you drive on.

Blocky Racing (Free)

Simple yet addictive, Blocky Racing brings classic cart racing to your fingertips as you play through 55 unique tracks that get harder and a lot zanier as you go. Pick up power-ups like bombs and speed boosts to defeat your competition and come out on top to unlock even better racers and upgrade your current carts. Your blocky cart will start to crumble the more walls you hit so drive safe and always aim for first place.

Cytus II ($1.99)

Get your fingers ready to tap your way through electronic and techno beats in this stylish rhythm game. You will need to have quick reflexes to tap and slide your fingers across the screen to play notes in time with the music. Songs will get tricky to play as their tempo will pick up and create more colorful spots to tap. Memorization is key to play the most difficult songs and make your way up the leaderboards.

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What Can We Learn About Cybersecurity from the Equifax Breach? https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/16/can-learn-cybersecurity-equifax-breach/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/16/can-learn-cybersecurity-equifax-breach/#comments Tue, 16 Jan 2018 16:06:25 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=99941 Those credit card users who have a credit card report most likely had their personal data exposed because of the Equifax data breach. Affecting over 143 millions of consumers in the US, UK and Canada, the attack was one of the biggest global cybersecurity crimes of 2017. The hackers were able to access Equifax clients’ […]

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Those credit card users who have a credit card report most likely had their personal data exposed because of the Equifax data breach. Affecting over 143 millions of consumers in the US, UK and Canada, the attack was one of the biggest global cybersecurity crimes of 2017.

The hackers were able to access Equifax clients’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and even driver’s license numbers. Around 209,000 people got their credit card numbers stolen as well.

It turned out that the attackers were using a well-known Equifax vulnerability to go through with the breach and data theft.

As a result, Democrats in Congress are now calling for increased governmental oversight and penalties to those organizations that fail to protect consumers’ personal information. Tech companies that aim to protect users’ online data agree that more government regulation is needed.

“We believe that big organizations – banks, credit card agencies, healthcare institutions and others – often fail to address known vulnerabilities that could be easily fixed in order to avoid similar breaches,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN and cybersecurity expert. “The most dangerous moment comes when a vulnerability is disclosed but not yet patched – this is when hackers rush in to exploit it. Many organizations are not as fast to fix their bugs as cybercriminals are to launch a breach. On the other hand, companies are also vulnerable as their own employees may be unknowingly downloading infected files. Therefore, businesses, – both big and small – need to make cybersecurity their priority.”

Here’s NordVPN’s advice to businesses on how to secure their data from cyberattacks:

  1. Fix all your vulnerabilities as soon as they are spotted.When system vulnerabilities are discovered, there should be a procedure in place to fix them immediately.
  2. Avoid opening emails from unknown senders. The rule is simple: if an employee is not familiar with the sender, it’s better they do not open any emails and never click to download any attachments or links.
  3. Use only https URL. Make sure all websites that your employees give data to have the secure ‘https’ URL. The ‘s’ in the URL means that it is a secure protocol and your data is encrypted properly.
  4. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network).VPNs connect you to the Internet through an encrypted tunnel. A VPN server acts as a relay between the Internet and a company’s device, so nobody can see what data is traveling over the Internet. All that canbe seen is that you are connected to a VPN server. A VPN service provider, such as NordVPN, can offer multiple benefits to small businesses, including secure data connections for remote workers and increased safety for business owners to share sensitive company data via an encrypted connection, so it’s not seen by any third parties.
  5. Update your firewall.Most systems have an automatically installed firewall – make sure to properly configure and maintain your company’s firewall in order to keep the network secured.
  6. Use anti-virus.Use up-to-date virus protection to make sure your company’s system is protected from malware such as malvertising (advertisement online with malicious codes).
  7. Strong passwords and two-factor authentication.Perhaps the most basic requirement for any online account setup is usingstrong passwords. Weak passwords make it simple for hackers to break into your system and cause severe damage. Two Factor Authentication, also known as 2FA, is a two-step verification system that adds an extra layer of security to any organization. Besides password and username, it involves something that only the user can potentially know.
  8. Update your operating system.It sounds simple and easy to do, but it happens that companies ignore the pop-up reminders for software updates. However, it’s one of the most important things to do with a computer, as such updates often fix security vulnerabilities and system bugs.
  9. Be reasonable with rules.It’s not reasonable to ban the use of company’s computers or Wi-Fi outside of the company’s network. People need to connect when it’s most convenient for them. A more productive and efficient approach is to improve the expertise in cybersecurity for staff members.
  10. Don’t single out one responsible person.Cultivating a secure mindset should be the responsibility of the whole team. And if an attack does happen, the real culprit is the hacker, not your staff member. Blaming employees for cyberattacks will only lead to them hiding potential threats.

For more information about staying safe online, visit NordVPN.com.

ABOUT NORDVPN

NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider that is more security oriented than most VPN services. It offers double VPN encryption, anti DDoS & Onion Over VPN services. It offers easy to use Mac, iOS and Android apps that provide a unique algorithm, allowing to automatically connect to the fastest server. The product is very user friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, has over 2,500 servers worldwide and is P2P friendly. One of the key features of NordVPN is zero logs policy.

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Phantom Thread – Movie Review https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/12/phantom-thread-movie-review/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/12/phantom-thread-movie-review/#respond Fri, 12 Jan 2018 12:00:19 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=99925 The portrait of an artist as a dysfunctional man

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There is an old saying about movies (any work of art, really): if the film stays with you and you are thinking about it days later, it has succeeded. But I always thought this aphorism too pat. There is something that makes a lasting impact on you and then something that confuses you, so much so you are still trying to understand it long after you have left the theater. 

The newest collaboration between actor Daniel Day-Lewis and director Paul Thomas Anderson, titled Phantom Thread, is a film which I am not sure is masterful or simply too hard to penetrate. The rubric promises a mysterious journey, but the story and most everything about the movie is elusive, and it’s unclear to me whether this is intentional or not—thus my conundrum.

Anderson’s film depicts Day-Lewis playing fictional dress maker Reynolds Woodcock, a virtuoso in the London and international fashion scene of the 1950s. He is also a loon, and in some of the opening scenes, I thought he might be more Buffalo Bill –about to make a dress of human skin— than simply an inspired genius with an untreated pathology.

I am not sure there was any particular real person upon which Woodcock was based, but the character certainly fits the mold of the brilliant narcissist who is tolerated only because he can give important people something they want. Mozart’s depiction in Amadeus springs to mind by way of comparison, and playing Woodcock’s Salieri, so to speak, is a young ingénue named Alma, on whom Woodcock has his eye to be his next model, muse, and lover.

Unlike Amadeus, the world of Reynolds Woodcock is controlled, cloistered, and cold, and Alma, played by Vicky Krieps, at first struggles to fit in. She has Woodcock himself to deal with on top of his overbearing and managerial sister Cyrill, who acts as evil stepmother and pimp rolled into one.

Woodcock’s need to shuffle paramours in and out of his life also reminded me of Martin Scorsese’s brilliant short film Life Lessons, in which Nick Nolte plays a similar disturbed and muse-starved artist. When in need of inspiration, Nolte’s character would court and bed an up and comer who wanted to be proximate to his genius. Soon enough, however, the character’s obsessiveness and peculiarity would drive the young woman away, and he would then seek out his next muse (er, victim).

Anderson is clearly a Scorsese fan so this parallel cannot be ignored, but what happens differently in Phantom Thread is that Alma, the hunted, turns the tables on Woodcock and, Salieri-like, is able to cajole herself closer to the master by way of manipulating him through physical and psychic pain. Unlike Salieri, however, Alma is not jealous of Woodcock’s talent but only wants to be closer to him and to avoid the eventual exile he imposes on every woman who comes into his orbit in such a fashion. She wants to be more than a woman who wears his dresses but inside his skin, his mind, and his heart.

Thus, the film has as a strange structure. Its first half concentrates on introducing us to this odd personality, while the second half becomes a battle of wills, not unlike Burton and Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf?

And this is where my confusion arose, for I could not pinpoint the dramatic purpose of the film. Since Woodcock is a fictional character, the film doesn’t quite fit the mold of Amadeus, which delved into the tragi-comic side of one of the world’s great composers. Yet Phantom Thread clearly uses a patina of reality to present a figure who most surely could have existed.

So is the film a comment on the fashion industry? The decadence of the royal class? This period in English and European life? Is it meant to highlight the heights and depths to which an artistic genius can drive himself and those around him? And the domestic side of the film; what is that meant to tease out? Though the film is set in London and the English countryside, the two main characters both have vague and undesignated European accents. As they snipe at one another and perform a dance macabre, are we meant to think they are both fish out of water destined to be drawn to one another yet also repelled by subcutaneous impulses they can only actualize at the film’s conclusion?

If one examines Phantom Thread through the lens of Anderson’s oeuvre we might find some insight. He rocketed to fame with Boogie Nights in 1997, which was a look inside the burgeoning 1970s and 1980s porn industry. Though he had done other work prior to that, if one bookends his career with the kinetic raunch of Boogie Nights juxtaposed against Phantom Thread, which is staid and prudish in its approach to pacing and sex, there could be an answer to what makes Anderson and his most current film tick.

This is of course speculation, but is Paul Thomas Anderson attempting to move as far away as he can from the porn business? So far, in fact, that he has landed in 1950s England, where an arched eyebrow and the occasionally uttered “fuck” in conversation is the most lubricious thing to be seen or heard? Boogie Nights was filthy and There Will Be Blood (his other collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis) was dirty in its own way, as it dealt with the ethics and the grit of the nascent oil industry in America, but in Phantom Thread the vulgarity is entirely interior.

Anderson made many other films between Boogie Nights and Phantom Thread (The Master most notably), but perhaps there is something personal at work with him and Phantom Thread; perhaps it is an expression of his own maturation. That is, I mean to ask, what can get more distant from the immaturity of Boogie Nights than a film about proper English people who make dresses for debutante balls and royal weddings (even if their personal lives are dysfunctional)?

But if I am to offer a close, textual reading of Phantom Thread and set aside guessed-at motivations for making this film, I struggle to find a compelling interpretation. Stylistically, Anderson seems to be channeling Godard at times with halting car rides through the English countryside. At others, he is fixated on close ups and painting cinematic tableaus. In this sense, Phantom Thread conveys the feeling it may be a mood piece and a character study only, and any actual story is unimportant. So while there are many great moments in the film its overall narrative is abstruse, and perhaps that is just as well.

Daniel Day-Lewis is at his best (has he ever been anything but at his best?) as Woodcock, and he will certainly receive an Oscar nomination for the role. His opposite, Vicky Krieps, is also deserving of Oscar consideration, and Phantom Thread is certainly a fine film. But, like Day-Lewis’s buttoned-up character, I cannot give voice to my true feelings on the matter. Woodcock can sew like a master and produce the most outwardly gorgeous clothes on Earth, but inside the thread of his life is unspooling. These are the emotions I felt personally at the conclusion of the film, but I am not sure if I was meant to be lead in that direction or that is just where I landed after the exhaustion of watching these characters try to achieve professional and emotional beauty.

If the intent of the film was to leave me frustrated and still attempting to unwind it days later then it has achieved its purpose, but I am not ready to anoint it a masterpiece because of that.

[rating:3.5/4]

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville
Rated: R
Running Time: 130 minutes

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Mabinogi: To Play or Not to Play in 2018 https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/06/mabinogi-play-not-play-2018/ https://blastmagazine.com/2018/01/06/mabinogi-play-not-play-2018/#respond Sat, 06 Jan 2018 16:22:58 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=100035 Mabinogi is not a newcomer to the market of MMORPG games. It has already been around for quite a time now. Initially, the game was released in the early 2000-s without any expectation to continue developing it more. But this marvellous game conquered the hearts of many beginner and advanced gamers throughout the world. It […]

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Mabinogi is not a newcomer to the market of MMORPG games. It has already been around for quite a time now. Initially, the game was released in the early 2000-s without any expectation to continue developing it more. But this marvellous game conquered the hearts of many beginner and advanced gamers throughout the world. It remains pretty strong even today.

For now, the most frequently played version is windows 10 mabinogi game obviously. As the graphics, the storyline, and the main features of the game are still at the highest level possible. But is it actually worth getting Mabinogi latest download files in 2018 when the market of MMORPG is already quite overwhelmed with newer games? Let’s find out.

Mabinogi MMORPG Review

If you want to get the fullest and the most objective opinion of the game, we recommend uploading Mabinogi download files right now. Thus, you can follow the article while discovering the game at the same time. You’ll become familiar with the main options and features to go ahead and play it further. Don’t worry, it is not a problem to find Mabinogi free download files on the Internet, especially for Windows 10.

The structure of the game is quite simple. There are three classes in Mabinogi:

  • Human;
  • Giant;
  • And Elf.

The character you choose is going to learn and collect different kinds of skills throughout the whole game. For example, life, magic, combat, ninja, alchemy, puppetry, etc. The number of skills is really impressive, which makes Mabinogi not boring to play for a long time. As the main character always has some other skills to collect. which he or she doesn’t have yet. Some skills can even be transformed into the stronger beings. At the same time, humans, giants, and elves have absolutely different abilities. Like any other MMORPG game, Mabinogi has a ranking system of skills from F to 1. The higher the rank is, the more powerful a skill becomes.

When it comes to customization, you can change your character in several aspects like age, gender, and of course race. You can also customize hair, eyes, facial expression, etc.

Through the game, you have to complete different quests, fight the enemies, and move to the next level. You can also rebirth to the level 1. Of course, like any other game, the first step in Mabinogi is about teaching you how to play correctly. If you’re new to Mabinogi, don’t skip them to learn how to quest, to use your inventory, and to get the skills.

The graphic in the game is not similar to other MMORPG games. It really stands out. As some outfits look very simplistic while others are very detailed and interesting. The environments are also very different – from simple grass to rocks and shockingly detailed backgrounds in some areas. Mabinogi has a lot of interesting content inside, which you discover while moving through the game. It includes new concepts and ideas which are not available in many other MMORPGs. For example, at the level 1, you combat by choosing whether you want to defend or counter-attack. And that makes simple combats quite diverse.

Generally speaking, Mabinogi is a fun game. It is not too fast or too slow. At the same time, it is a little bit weird, but simple enough even for the beginner players.

So, if you enjoy playing MMORPGs, definitely try Mabinogi too. Give it a shot and you won’t regret it. Go for it, as it is a worthy competitor even for the newest games on the market.

 

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2017 Holiday Gifts for your Handy Person or New Homeowner https://blastmagazine.com/2017/12/19/2017-holiday-gifts-handy-person-new-homeowner/ https://blastmagazine.com/2017/12/19/2017-holiday-gifts-handy-person-new-homeowner/#respond Tue, 19 Dec 2017 14:43:06 +0000 https://blastmagazine.com/?p=99910 This year we’ve had a chance to play with some of the items that may be on your “I’m Gen-Y and I can finally afford a house, woo-hoo! more debt!” scenarios. As you will find out, owning a home means that you can have more stuff and that you HAVE TO BUY more stuff to […]

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This year we’ve had a chance to play with some of the items that may be on your “I’m Gen-Y and I can finally afford a house, woo-hoo! more debt!” scenarios.

As you will find out, owning a home means that you can have more stuff and that you HAVE TO BUY more stuff to take care of the homestead.

Here are a few helpful items that may save you money, time, and aggravation.

1. MYCHANIC Sidekick Stool ($99)

The MYCHANIC brand is a hip, functional alternative to your dad’s tool brand.

It’s a combination seat, toolbox, shelf on wheels that is absolutely terrific if you work on a bicycle, motorcycle, car, or truck. It’s equally handy if you’d rather not spend $700 on a tool chest to hold your set of screwdrivers and one wrench. Either way, for $99 you really can’t go wrong.

I was honestly impressed with the Sidekick Stool. The wheels were difficult to install, and the instructions could be better, but otherwise I couldn’t believe there aren’t more of these types of products on the market. It’s quite literally the perfect garage gadget. It holds tools, gives you a place to sit, and moves around. Very cool, very well made, and very much recommended.

2. Milwaukee M18 Jobsite Radio (~$200)

As millennials start to take on home improvement projects, one thing becomes understood quickly: It’s not a jobsite without either country music or sports talk radio set to “dull roar” in the background.

If you guy power tools, Milwaukee is the brand I chose. The M18 series is powerful, affordable, and reliable. And the M18 Jobsite radio is the radio you want, because it also charges your 18 volt batteries.

Don’t make the mistake I made. Don’t buy the smaller radio for $99. It is great, don’t get me wrong, but while it runs on M18 batteries, it does not charge them.

I’ve long been a fan of Milwaukee tools. Bring this radio with you–maybe drop it a few times or spill some paint on it–and you’ll fit right in with the guys who wear tool belts as casually as jeans and t-shirts.

3. Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum ($55)

Congrats, you’re a homeowner. You need a wet dry vacuum — AKA a Shop-Vac. Amazon’s choice is sensible. For $55, the Shop-Vac 5986000 gives you everything that I would recommend in a garage vacuum — low price, good power, and medium capacity.

The biggest mistake people make with these vacuums is that they guy a huge one, thinking they need all that capacity. They don’t. The Shop-Vac 5 gallon is more than enough for your spills.

You can buy a similar vacuum at most home improvement stores. Just keep it under $100 please.

4. Weber 61010001 Genesis II E-310 Grill ($699)

Spend money on a grill. Don’t go cheap. Buy a Weber. Get one with rolled steel cooking surfaces (not the “V-shaped” metal ones). You won’t regret it.

At $700, this is an investment. It’s also tempting to spend $200 on a big box special by a lower brand. The money catches up with you. Lower priced brands make up for their shoddy construction and rickety metal by adding 4-5-6 burners. Useless. Unless you’re cooking for an army regiment you need THREE BURNERS. Otherwise you’re either wasting propane, burning your food, or both.

I’ve tested grills for years. I recommended a Weber in my old Boston Globe column in 2008, and almost 10 years later, nothing has changed. Buy a Weber.

 

 

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