Blast http://blastmagazine.com A magazine for the discerning broke American Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:04:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Top 6 Exercises for keeping in shape during New England winter http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/28/top-6-exercises-keeping-shape-new-england-winter/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/28/top-6-exercises-keeping-shape-new-england-winter/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:48:06 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95792 This year, instead of going into hibernation mode, try these top six activities to keep active and warm! 1. Snowshoeing Snowshoeing burns 400-1000 calorie per hour, depending on if you are on packed snow or powder.  A new way to check out the local scenery, snowshoeing is fun and great for groups!  Check out local snowshoeing […]

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This year, instead of going into hibernation mode, try these top six activities to keep active and warm!

1. Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing burns 400-1000 calorie per hour, depending on if you are on packed snow or powder.  A new way to check out the local scenery, snowshoeing is fun and great for groups!  Check out local snowshoeing in Weston, MA.  If you are looking for a weekend getaway, try Hill Top Orchards in Lenox.  There is a winery there, which will be perfect for warming your insides after a day of snowhoeing!

2. Hiking

Before the frost settles in, bundle up and head to the mountains for a day hike.  The foliage and winterscapes make for a beautiful and fun hike. Hike New England has trails for any level hiker!

3. Snow Tubing

Remember how fun sledding was as a kid?  Bring back those childhood memories with snow tubing!  Amesbury Sports Park and Nashoba Valley provide tubes and chair lifts to get you safely up and down the mountain.  Don’t want to spend the money on a lift ticket?  Buy your own tube and head to a nearby hill with a group of friends.  Trekking up the hill is sure to torch calories!

4. Ice Skating

With all of the muscles one’s body recruits to stay balanced and glide on ice skates, a person can burn between 325-825 calories per hour, depending on speed.  One of the most common places to skate is on Boston Common’s Frog Pond.  Another outdoor skating rink is located in Kendall Square.  Not brave enough to skate outdoors during the low temperature?  No problem, Steriti Memorial Rink in the North End, and Emmons Horrigan ONeill Memorial Rink in Charlestown are indoor rinks.

5. Boxing

Although boxing is not strictly a winter sport, it is indoors where you are guaranteed to be warm.  Not only is boxing a challenging workout (have you ever seen a boxer without abs?), it is fun and empowering.  Whenever I have clients who have had an exceptionally miserable day, I bring them to the punching bag to get out their aggression and burn energy.  Boxing burns anywhere from 350-840 calories per hour, and even more in the ring!  Boston Boxing has classes as well as private lessons.

6. Skiing/Snowboarding

Of course, living in New England, you can always stick with the tried and true winter sports: skiing and snowboarding.  With the numerous mountains and pass deals in New England, it is simple to get out for a day or weekend trip.  Hitting means the mountains several choices of activities: downhill skiing, cross country skiing, and snowboarding.  Downhill skiing burns 295-745 calories depending on ski speed.  Beginners can head to Wachusett to dip their toes in skiing or snowboarding.  For more of a challenge check out Gunstock in Gilford, NH – two hours from Boston.  Both Wachuesett and Gunstock offer night skiing.  Otherwise, there are many mountains to try in New England!

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Valentine’s Day: Why do we girls want diamonds? http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/28/valentines-day-girls-want-diamonds/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/28/valentines-day-girls-want-diamonds/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:28:37 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95777 “I don’t understand about diamonds and why men buy them. What’s so impressive about a diamond, except the mining?” This is one of my favorite strings of lyrics ever, from the talented Fiona Apple, and her song ‘Red Red Red’. I’ve never been one who was wowed by diamonds. I don’t understand the obsession a […]

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“I don’t understand about diamonds and why men buy them. What’s so impressive about a diamond, except the mining?”

This is one of my favorite strings of lyrics ever, from the talented Fiona Apple, and her song ‘Red Red Red’.

I’ve never been one who was wowed by diamonds. I don’t understand the obsession a lot of girls my age have with engagement rings.

I’m at the age where lots of people are getting engaged or married, and I am happy and excited for my friends who are going through this process, or have committed lovingly to another person in this way.

I have to be honest that the entire wedding industrial complex irritates me, but I understand it is an industry, and it’s going to do what it has to do.

“Nobody will know you’re engaged if you don’t have a diamond ring”, someone once told me when I expressed that I actually don’t care for the way diamond rings look, and wouldn’t mind if I didn’t have one with diamonds, if I were to ever be engaged.

Well…ok. Would the fact that I am engaged or married need to be branded on me? That makes me feel a little like Bessie down at the farm getting tagged before she becomes a hamburger. Ok, ok, a little harsh, but you get what I mean. Wearing an engagement ring isn’t like having a giant label slapped on you, and on you go to the marriage mill. Right?

Enter stage right: Admiral Ackbar. It’s a trap!

Though some scholars debate this, the engagement ring has been thought of as wedding insurance to some. Divorced your lady? Well, she can keep the ring as consolation for the fact that she is now a damaged woman (these are not my words, but a summary of some of the texts I read). Back in the day when women didn’t work or support themselves, a diamond engagement ring was a sort of financial security.

Enter Breach of Promise to Marry. This obsolete ruling let a woman sue her husband-to-be if he broke off the marriage. When that law went the way of the dinosaur, diamond rings saw a spike, and legal and economic scholars see a major link there.

Lady, would you agree to be a wife? Hooray, your diamond is your price! You are insured. Now, if anything happens, you keep your diamond. Sold!

That train of thought is supposed to be old fashioned these days, with women being financially independent. And yet our society still has a fixation on diamonds and, specifically, diamond engagement rings.

Sure, old (expensive and shiny) habits die hard, just like the idea of a white wedding dress, which we can point to Queen Victoria for.

De Beers chronicles the history of the engagement ring in a way I find slightly amusing, if only because De Beers was the company that basically told us, “hey, ladies, marry for diamonds!”

Love isn’t forever, diamonds are! This article chronicles their ride to and from engagement land.

Here are a few of my beefs with this, aside from, you know, the whole somekidmayhavelostlimbsoroverworkedforyourjewelry issue.

For one, the obsession with weddings mystifies me, so please enlighten me. I like weddings. I enjoy going to other people’s weddings. I wouldn’t object to having one myself. I love picking out wedding cards for people. I am fascinated by what song people pick to play as their ‘wedding dance’. I like that people come together to celebrate love. But I like that people come together to celebrate love.

No, I didn’t just forget and type that sentence twice, I wanted to reiterate. With it being so easy for us to post on Facebook or Instagram, and with Pinterest wedding wishes up in everyone’s face, our lives are a little saturated with wedding-ness (I am making that a word). Being a woman in her twenties, weddings are constantly marketed toward me. That’s right, I’m looking at you Facebook’s Star Wars engagement ring advertisement! So, you realized that I’m in a relationship, and that I am a nerd? Thanks.

Having the constant You want this! You want this! You want this! thrown in our faces is a little daunting. And I know that a lot of people do want it–the wedding, the ring, the nice dress. What I disagree with is when it becomes so much about having a wedding, or a diamond, and less about having a marriage.

Case in point, from one of my generation’s TV staples. Someone once told me that he and his wife decided to have an over the top expensive wedding because they wanted people to take it seriously. So, when is spending lots of money on a wedding more meaningful than the relationship? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it shouldn’t be.

Yet I still hear girls complain and gossip about engagement rings. The other day, I was put on hold, and could hear the girl on the phone talking to her co-worker about her friend’s diamond ring. Well, I guess she thought she’d put me on hold. In a nutshell, her poor friend was being dissected because her fiance’s ring didn’t make a great impression on her friends.

I’ve heard girls criticize one another about this plenty. Her wedding band was too big, and looked funny. She didn’t wear the wedding band with the engagement ring in the correct order. Her diamond was too small. She didn’t get a diamond. Yada yada yada.

Shouldn’t it only matter to the couple getting married? If we are living in a day and age when women can support themselves, and she agrees to get married (and can, but marriage inequality a whole other hurdle for our society)…

I’m so happy to see my recently engaged or married friends making these decisions based on their own individuality and incorporating their unique ideas and personality into their rings and wedding ceremonies, diamonds or not.

And for that matter, I don’t support putting someone down for choosing a diamond ring, just like I don’t expect someone to call out anyone at the grocery store who is buying a product with palm oil in it. Let’s play nice.

I just cringe at the idea that an engagement has to involve diamonds, or that a woman or couple can be looked down upon for not eating up the diamond or wedding industry’s ideals.

Don’t wear something just because some jewelry store tells you that diamonds equate to love, or because you want your friends and family to believe in your marriage. And don’t get caught up in the fantasy of a wedding or engagement festivities over the act of getting married.

In case we forgot: it’s marriage, not a show.

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10 watches the Gen-Y man can afford and should buy http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/28/10-watches-gen-y-man-can-afford-buy/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/28/10-watches-gen-y-man-can-afford-buy/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:58:58 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95748 I don’t have to take any time to explain the value of wearing a watch. It is a statement piece. It says a lot about you. It says you give a shit. It says you’re not glued to your smartphone. But most Gen-Y men simply can’t afford a Rolex or an Omega or any watch […]

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I don’t have to take any time to explain the value of wearing a watch. It is a statement piece. It says a lot about you. It says you give a shit. It says you’re not glued to your smartphone. But most Gen-Y men simply can’t afford a Rolex or an Omega or any watch that costs many thousands of dollars. But that doesn’t mean you can only wear a Fossil or a Casio (not taking anything away from those brands, and they many some great watches.)

There are also a ton of insanely-affordable antique watches out there that you can buy and have cleaned up for the price of a few video games.

A reputable jeweler can give even a rusty and non-working watch a good cleaning and repair for about $125. This does does not and should not apply to crazy expensive and rare watches. I’m talking about the ones we’re going to find at estate sales and online.

Here a few watches I’m currently looking at — and please add your own below in the comments section!

1. A vintage 1960s Bulova Date King

1964 Bulova

1964 Bulova

Bulova has made a ton of watches over the years. If you want an old watch that’s not too flashy, but is accurate, reliable, and looks good with jeans or a suit, you can’t beat a 1960s Date King for the money. I got this 1964 Bulova Date KIng on eBay for $26.50. After a good cleaning, it will be a great accessory.

One note about these watches (and most inexpensive vintage watches) is that they are manual. On the plus side, there are no batteries. On the negative side, you have to wind the watch pretty much every day.

2. United States Military A-11

Elgin A-11 watch

Elgin A-11 watch

The watch that won the war. If you want to wear the watch your grandfather wore throughout World War II (and if he still has the original, treasure it…) buy an A-11.

These are military spec watches — not to say they’re unbreakable, they were just all made to be uniform, like everything else in the military. They were produced starting in 1941 by Elgin, Bulova, and Waltham. The Elgin is considered the “official” watch, but they are all legitimate military pieces. There are dustproof, waterproof, black, white, and coin bezel variations. The Hamilton company also made a watch like this for the military in WWII. It’s not called the A-11, but it’s basically the same thing.

Now, a mint condition A-11 from the era is a $1,000 watch. However, you can find decent ones online for under $100, and broken ones are all over the place. Remember, they made literally MILLIONS of these.

For the Gen-Y man, the watch screams hip-traditional. You like things simple — the watch tells time and that’s IT.

3. 1980s Movado

1980s Movado

1980s Movado

The signature Movado black-and-diamond look hasn’t really changed. A nice, new, automatic (meaning no batteries or winding) Movado will run you $800 to $1,000.

Here’s a Movado that’s got a few years on it. It needs a new band, but so what? $249.99.

You can walk into any small jewelry store and find an old Movado at a bargain. In downtown Boston last week, a jeweler showed me two 1980s Movados with the black-and-diamond style. One could be had for under $200. A larger one was under $300. And something tells me if I put $150 cash on the table, I’d have a Movado right now.

4. A 1970s or Cold War Era Poljot Okeah

Shturmanskie Soviet pilot's watch

Shturmanskie Soviet pilot’s watch

A lot of serious watch collectors include Soviet watches in their showcases. The Poljot 3133 is a popular movement born out of a Soviet Air Force watch worn by pilots. Yuri Gagarin wore a Poljot (Pilot in Russian) Shturmanskie watch, which helped inspire the 3133, when he became the first name to launch into space.

You can get a Poljot 3133 for under $200 in good condition. You can get a good Shturmanskie for under $500. Be wary of reproductions.

5. Seiko SKX007K

Seiko SKX007K

Seiko SKX007K

The Seiko SKX007K is not just an entry-level diver’s watch, it’s a damn decent diver’s watch.

It’s good to 200 meters, is automatic/non-winding, and has a rugged, sportsman look to it that tells people you mean business.

If you want to build a nice watch collection, you might even want to start here. Why? Because you can get one for $150, and any watch guy will respect it. Get it with the rubber band instead of the metal bracelet to stay authentic.

6. Mondaine Stop2go

Mondaine stop2go

Mondaine stop2go

At $600, this one is actually pretty much at the top of my Gen-Y list, but I wanted to include something Swiss that someone our age could actually afford. Mondaine is not a fancy Swiss watch brand, but it is a real Swiss, made in Switzerland, watch brand. You can get a brand new Mondaine for about $250.

Mondaine watches have a nice movement and a design inspired by the Swiss Railways Clock. What makes the Stop2go watch unique is that the second hand travels normally for 58 seconds, then it stops for two seconds and hops to the next minute. That oddly interesting feature, combined with an electronic switch for setting the watch make this one a keeper.

7. British WW2 Omega

Omega British WW2 watch

Omega British WW2 watch

Omega is one of the biggest names in antique and modern watches. It’s on pretty much every collector’s wishlist. You are not going to find a new Omega on this list, but how cool would it be to own a British WW2 military issue watch that, oh, just happens to be made by Omega?

Everyone contributed to the war effort. You can find brilliant examples of WW2 German watches also, and we’ve already discussed the American A-11.

You can get a decent British WW2 Omega for about $300. I saw the variant to the right on eBay for $235.

There are a ton of fakes. This website gives good guidance for determining if you are buying an authentic WW2 Omega.

It’s just a beautifully simplistic watch. Not for everyday wear, but it’s elegant and casual at the same time.

8. Orient M-Force CEX04001Y0

Orient M-Force

Orient M-Force

If you find it, buy it. For under $200, you can have a watch that has all of the bells and whistles you are used to seeing in a watch 10-20 times the cost. You will also find an awesome variant with a yellow dial for around $400. The Orient M-Force is an automatic watch, good to 100 200 meters underwater depending on the variant, with a power reserve indicator so you know when to change the battery, and a very comfortable, if not slightly heavy, feel on the wrist.

9. Hamilton Khaki Field

Hamilton Men's H64611535

Hamilton Men’s H64611535

I don my cap to Askmen.com for recommending the Hamilton Khaki Field as one of their best “Watches Under $1,000,” and at $300-$500, you can buy two for that price.

Hamilton is an old name in quality watchmaking. It has Swiss ETA 2824 movement that is seen in some of the best watches in the world. It is a great work watch, but it’s not too delicate and fancy that you can’t wear it to the bar afterward.

I like the watch, and I’d be happy to own one, but this is the only watch on the list that gave me some pause. I only included it because of Hamilton’s history in the business. And I think I’d rather own a vintage Hamilton than a modern one. Today, Hamilton is owned by Swatch Group, which is the largest watch company in the world. It owns Bregeut, Winston, Jaquet Droz, Omega, Tissot, and makes all the watches for Tiffany & Co., and if you Wikipedia the Swatch Group, you see that Hamilton’s rich history has earned it a place in…the bottle half of Swatch Group’s brand portfolio.

This is good and bad. Good: You get standardized quality and the same ETA movement seen in more expensive watches. Bad: It’s Swatch’s bargain basement brand, only rated slightly above, well Swatch itself.

What do you think? Am I over-thinking it? Let me know below.

10. An Overstock.com watch

Citizen Eco-Drive watch on Overstock.com -- $112

Citizen Eco-Drive watch on Overstock.com — $112

Your mom loves Overstock. Your girlfriend does too. It’s catnip for female online shoppers, so hear me out for a second. Oh, and Overstock.com carries Rolexes.

If you’re looking for a new watch, you can get a Tag Heuer for around $1,300. For something a little more realistic, you can get a Hamilton for under $400; a simple or complicated Citizen Eco-Drive for under $200; or a very adult-like Seiko for under $100.

There’s plenty of shit on there too, so be careful what you buy. One word of caution: I have a few Emporio Armani watches. They look nice, and the name is very telling. But that’s all you get is the name. The watches are made by Fossil, so you’re just getting a regular old watch. Armani watches are luxury in name only.

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Daedalic Releases Video Guides for Blackguards 2 http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/28/daedalic-releases-video-guides-blackguards-2/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/28/daedalic-releases-video-guides-blackguards-2/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:41:07 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95557 Daedalic Entertainment releases first of their four video guides for their newest release Blackguards 2, the sequel to the hex-based strategy RPG Blackguards. Blackguards 2 has been met with mixed user criticism on Steam and currently holds a 78 on Metacritic. The game itself has been seen as an overall improvement on the mechanics and […]

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Daedalic Entertainment releases first of their four video guides for their newest release Blackguards 2, the sequel to the hex-based strategy RPG Blackguards.

Blackguards 2 has been met with mixed user criticism on Steam and currently holds a 78 on Metacritic. The game itself has been seen as an overall improvement on the mechanics and gameplay of the the first game. “Blackguards 2” adds a strategy map where players can choose their own war path to conquering the world where you follow along roads liberating villages with your heroes and your hired mercenaries. The villain will also be utilizing the map to contest captured territory which you will have to defend. The camp has also given players the ability to gather information from a hired spy and captured prisoners, talk with companions, and buy new equipment from merchants.

The combat has been refreshed as well, now more dynamic and sensible. A major complaint from the original “Blackguards” was the large chance for characters to miss a point blank attack which should now almost never occur. Endurance has also been added as a stat which characters use for special attacks and magic. The environment now plays a role in battles as well, offering players cover and also occasionally being interactable. Consensus among reviewers seems to be that the new combat is refreshing, though it can drag out or be tedious at times.

“Blackguards 2” is available for $29.99 on Steam, GOG, and other major online stores now.

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10 Legitimate Free and Paid Antivirus Products that Work http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/27/10-legitimate-free-paid-antivirus-products-work/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/27/10-legitimate-free-paid-antivirus-products-work/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 20:51:32 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95547 One of the biggest concerns I hear from family, friends, and clients is "Legitimacy." How do I know this is real antivirus software and not a virus, itself?

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Let’s establish a rule right now: You’re not allowed to go without antivirus software.

But we must couch that with an admission: Some anti-virus software titles are poorly made, bloated, and will needlessly slow your computer, sometimes to a snail’s pace. We can’t have that.

One of the biggest concerns I hear from family, friends, and clients is “Legitimacy.” How do I know this is real antivirus software and not a virus, itself?

With that said, you can pay for quality or get quality for free. You can also pay for crap and freely download some downright dangerous software. Let’s look at 10 antivirus titles — five free and five paid — that will get the job done right and that are 100 percent ACTUAL antivirus titles:

Free

Malwarebytes Antimalware 2.0

Malwarebytes Antimalware 2.0

 

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 2.0

Malwarebytes was formed about 10 years ago by a programmer named Marcin Kleczynski, when he was just 14 years old. Today, Anti-Malware 2.0 is one of the best anti-malware and malware cleanup tools you cannot buy. PCMag just loves it.

The only con, however, is that it does not offer real-time antivirus protection. It’s more of a cleanup tool, but it makes the list because it is one of the most effective cleanup tools you can download OR buy.

https://www.malwarebytes.org/

Panda Free Antivirus

Panda Free Antivirus


 

Panda Free Antivirus

When it comes to free, full-service, real-time antivirus software, Panda is about as good as it gets. It is easy enough for parents to install. It blocks malicious websites, viruses, and malware as good as most paid services. Panda offers a ton of paid and commercial/enterprise products. If you are at home or on campus, the free version will get you there. It’s so good that I uninstall the paid trial software on new family computers and install this so that they don’t have to deal with the “Free Trial Ended, Register Now” popups. It’s one less tech support phone call.

http://www.pandasecurity.com

AVG Free

AVG Free


 

AVG AntiVirus Free

If speed and system performance are major concerns, give AVG AntiVirus Free a look. It takes a bit of time to install, but it will not slow down your computer much once it’s running, and AVG performs a full system scan faster than many of its commercial competitors.

On the flip side, AVG does not outperform any of the top five paid, commercial apps. It still gives good virus protection and above-average malicious URL blocking, meaning it will try to stop you from accessing websites that are known to carry virus and malware.

http://free.avg.com/us-en/homepage

Avast Free Antivirus

Avast Free Antivirus


 

Avast Free Antivirus

PCMag.com points out that Avast has a new feature this year that detects security problems on your home network router. This adds a ton of value to the already strong Avast Free Antivirus 2015. While it won’t outperform the top commercial products in detection and removal, it offers speedy real-time protection, network security, and blocking of malicious websites.

https://www.avast.com/

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

 

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

We save the best for last.

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition offers professional-level real-time protection against viruses and malware, while keeping you from visiting malicious websites and clicking links in infected emails.

Installation is a breeze, and the software runs entirely in the background. It’s great for gamers who don’t want to be slowed down by their antivirus software, and it’s equally qualified to handle a business computer or student ultrabook. It’s that good.

http://www.bitdefender.com/solutions/free.html

Paid

McAfee and Norton right? Not entirely. In order:

1. Bitdefender offers a pro version of its software for $39.99. It offers some valuable features like a specially secured browser that automatically deploys for banking and credit card websites, giving you added security when you conduct financial business. It also has a Rescue Mode that can give you back your computer if you get stuck in a particularly bad infection. If you run a small office, you can get a license for three computers for $59.99 per year. It’s worth it.

2. Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus is a paid app that costs about $40. It offers blazing fast scans and protection that you won’t notice. The only drawback is that it requires a working Internet connection to be fully effective. That shouldn’t be a problem for most, but it was enough to drop Webroot down one spot.

3. Kaspersky Anti-Virus costs $39.95 and offers some of the best virus and malware protection you can get on a PC. PCMag says it earned the highest marks in all of the independent lab tests thrown at it. Kaspersky also offers a protected browser mode, as well as a virtual keyboard to keep your passwords safe and a roll-back mode to reverse the effects of malware.

4. McAfee AntiVirus Plus is a $50 product, and it is one of the most popular titles on the market. This can be a drawback, however, as many viruses/malware are specifically designed to turn McAfee’s features off, stripping your protection right from under you. Still, McAfee might well be the best at preventing you from clicking those malicious links in the first place.

5. F-Secure Anti-Virus 2015 is a strong choice at $39.99, however it is more of a straight antivirus title than a full computer security suite. If you are not concerned about clicking malicious links and email phishing, and just want virus protection, F-Secure is fast, stable, and secure.

Names to avoid

  • IObit Malware Fighter 2 ($29.95) simply does not work.
  • K7 AntiVirus Plus 14 ($40) is a waste of money and does not perform as well as most free apps
  • SuperAntiSpyware Professional 6.0 ($29.95) also fails to protect or remove viruses and malware
  • Ashampoo Anti-Virus 2014 ($39.99) is legit, but it just licenses scanning technology from Bitdefender. Just buy Bitdefender..it’s cheaper!

Credit to Neil J. Rubenking, the PCMag antivirus and computer security journalist and guru.

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Texas Instruments Debuts Lighter, Colorful TI-84 Plus CE http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/27/texas-instruments-debuts-lighter-colorful-ti-84-plus-ce/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/27/texas-instruments-debuts-lighter-colorful-ti-84-plus-ce/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 20:24:24 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95543 We’ve come a long, long way since high school in the early 00s. You remember the TI-83, right? Remember Tetris? Drugwars? Remember the monochrone and only knowing one or two classmates who actually owned a sync cable, allowing them to download games onto their calculators, making them the most popular student in Algebra II? Oh […]

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We’ve come a long, long way since high school in the early 00s.

You remember the TI-83, right? Remember Tetris? Drugwars? Remember the monochrone and only knowing one or two classmates who actually owned a sync cable, allowing them to download games onto their calculators, making them the most popular student in Algebra II?

Oh yeah, and drawing graphs. And cosines. Math.

The graphing calculator has gone the way of the cellphone. It is thinner, lighter, faster, colorful, and it actually has a USB port now.

Texas Instruments TI-84

Texas Instruments today announced the TI-84 Plus CE, a 30 percent thinner, 30 percent lighter version of the formerly boring graphing calculator, which also comes in a variety of fun colors.

TI created the TI-84 Plus CE after listening to student feedback about the calculator. We don’t think gaming came into the equation.

“Students asked us to make their go-to graphing calculator slimmer, sleeker, more colorful, and lightweight, and we answered with the modern, streamlined design of the TI-84 Plus CE,” said Peter Balyta, Ph.D., president of TI Education Technology. “Once you hold the new TI-84 Plus CE in your hand, you will immediately see and feel the improvements.”

The new calculator has built-in storage, so that students can save graphs, images, and data.

Oh, and the battery lasts a month on a single charge.

The Dallas Morning News had an exclusive on the Plus CE’s announcement, but even they couldn’t squeeze a price out of TI. The older TI-84 Plus C costs up to $150 in stores, so we imagine that the CE will be in that range, but it could be as high as $200.

The company also promises that parents can buy a single TI-83 Plus CE for their child in middle school, and it will serve them in every math course they need to take in high school, college and beyond- including algebra, geometry, calculus and statistics.

It is also permitted on the PSAR, SAT, and ACT, as well as AP tests.

TI-84 Plus CE Specifications and Features:

  • Screen size: 320 x 240 pixels (2.8″ diagonal)
  • Screen resolution: 140 DPI, 16-bit color
  • Available in multiple colors including silver, red, blue, hot pink, plum and black
  • 3 MB FLASH ROM memory for data archive and apps storage
  • 154 KB of available RAM memory
  • USB unit-to-unit cable included for communication with TI-84 Plus and TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition

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Saints Row: Gat out of Hell – The Blast Review http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/26/saints-row-gat-hell-blast-review/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/26/saints-row-gat-hell-blast-review/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 01:36:05 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95538 Saints Row: Gat out of Hell builds to an impressive peak nearly halfway through it’s five hour campaign. It’s a remarkably fun and admittedly cheesy musical number inspired by the likes of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Unfortunately though, no other part of the game even comes close to recreating the creativity in this […]

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Saints Row: Gat out of Hell builds to an impressive peak nearly halfway through it’s five hour campaign. It’s a remarkably fun and admittedly cheesy musical number inspired by the likes of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Unfortunately though, no other part of the game even comes close to recreating the creativity in this five minute scene. That’s not to say that Gat out of Hell isn’t worth your money — at $20, it’s a fun and carefree violent waste of time, but unfortunately it never really reaches for anything more than that. It recycles a lot of content from Saints Row IV, which was starting to feel old on it’s own right. Fans of the Saints Row series will love Gat out of Hell, it does most of what the series has done well for years and rewards those who understand the series’ mythos with constant in jokes and references but most will be quoting the game’s protagonist and wondering “is that all hells got?”

Gat out of Hell’s premise is simple if not overly silly. The main character from Saints Row IV, your created President of the Universe has been sucked down to hell as Satan finds him as the only one rotten enough to marry his daughter Jezebel. In true Saints Row style, gangster extraordinaire Johnny Gat and master hacker Kinzie resolve to follow their boss into hell, shoot Satan in the face and bring him back home. Yes, it’s incredibly silly — even by Saints Row standards, but it’s full of great lowbrow humor and inside jokes that the franchise has made it’s name on. The majority of the game is played in New Hades, the capital of hell, which looks awfully familiar to Saints Row IV’s Steel Port, except you know — covered with hellfire and brimstone. The NPCs that populated the living world are replaced by wandering corpses and demons intent on hurting you in any way possible.

If you’ve played Saints Row IV, you’ll feel instantly at home with Gat out of Hell, for better or worse. While the game starts with a interesting premise, it soon throws it all away for some reason in favor of what can only be viewed as busy work. At the beginning of the game you’ll be tracking down old friends and enemies (Saints Row 2’s big bad Dane Vogel, voiced by Jay Mohr makes a triumphant return) as well as make allies with some of Hell’s most famous residents like Shakespeare, Vlad the Impaler and Blackbeard but their roles are reduced to little more than cameos and rarely heard from again. The plan to get the President back is simple, make enough chaos and noise in hell to draw Satan out and into a confrontation and you’ll apparently do that by doing everything that was a side mission in the actual Saints Row games. Rampage missions, racing missions, fraud missions, yep they’re all here but unfortunately they don’t carry as much weight when they’re supposed to be the game’s main content.

Like in Saints Row IV, you’ll have an impressive amount of super abilities to conquer hell with. Like the majority of the game, a good amount of these are recycled. Telekinesis is gone in favor of the ability to summon demons and other creatures to take out your enemies. New Hades is played out well enough that these powers are fun to experiment with, especially the super jump ability. By far though the best addition is the ability fly throughout the city. It’s thrilling and even a bit challenging to soar through Hades thanks to an intuitive control scheme that actually requires practice to master. All flying takes stamina and you’ve got a limited amount of time and flaps (which gain speed) before you’ve got to touch down. The world map is definitely built with flying in mind as there are great perches to land on and challenges that take you through long tunnels and some interesting terrain.

I played through Gat out of Hell very quickly, but not because I tried to. I spent a good portion of my time with Gat out of Hell wondering if I was missing something. I would scour the quest log thinking I was missing something that would propel the game forward but I never found it. Gat out of Hell’s mayhem is fun on it’s own, but it always felt like it was missing something, something big. There are plenty of great, creative weapons to try out against your foes in hell, and you can level them all up, but the game is so easy to begin with that it almost feels unfair to level up all of your powers and weapons to almost god like levels. Gat out of Hell feels like it has all of the pieces in hand for a great and fun expansion pack, but it has no clue how to put them together.

With Gat out of Hell, you’re getting what you expect from the Saints Row series. It does nearly everything the franchise is known for but it does so in such an uninspired manner that you’re going to think you’re missing something. There are moments of greatness to be found in New Hades but they’re so few and far between that they feel like exceptions to the rules that the game creates for itself. Fans of the Saints Row series will have fun with this expansion, but everyone else may be looking for a quick trip to the land of the living.

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell - The Blast Review
Gat out of Hell retains the humor and charm of the Saints Row series but it also recycles a lot of content from previous games. It's fun, but repetitive; interesting but shallow. Gat out of Hell feels like the result of a studio that has all of the pieces to make a great expansion, but no idea how to put them together.
Sound
Graphics
Gameplay
Story
Lasting Appeal
What worked
  • Retains Saints Rows trademark humor and action
  • That musical number
  • Flying is fun and rewarding
What didn't work
  • Lack of story
  • Repetitive action
  • Recycled content
3.1Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

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Dragon Age: Inquisition tavern songs now available for free http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/26/dragon-age-inquisition-tavern-songs-now-available-free/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/26/dragon-age-inquisition-tavern-songs-now-available-free/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 21:47:12 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95534 After 80+ hours in the world of Dragon Age: Inquisition, certain songs are just bound to get stuck in your head. All those tunes you hear the bards singing in your tavern in Skyhold, for example–we can’t stop humming them. BioWare received so many requests for these songs to be made available, in fact, that they’ve released […]

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After 80+ hours in the world of Dragon Age: Inquisition, certain songs are just bound to get stuck in your head. All those tunes you hear the bards singing in your tavern in Skyhold, for example–we can’t stop humming them. BioWare received so many requests for these songs to be made available, in fact, that they’ve released 10 popular ones to download at no charge.

Simply head to their website to download these songs for free before February 9. They’ll go on sale on various digital platforms after that. In addition, BioWare is also providing the sheet music for each track to encourage fans to submit their own renditions as part of their Fan Celebration Contest.

So go ahead. Draw, write, sing, and get creative. Thedas–err BioWare will thank you with praise and prizes.

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Guild Wars 2 “Heart of Thorns” Expansion Announced http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/26/guild-wars-2-heart-thorns-first-expansion-announced/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/26/guild-wars-2-heart-thorns-first-expansion-announced/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 20:09:08 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95529 Developer ArenaNet announces first “Guild Wars 2” expansion, “Heart of Thorns,” two and a half years after original release. The trailer above was unveiled by head game director Colin Johanson. The trailer started with the highlight of the new beautiful zone Maguuma jungle, outlined to be separated into three distinct sections determined by the player’s […]

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Developer ArenaNet announces first “Guild Wars 2” expansion, “Heart of Thorns,” two and a half years after original release.

The trailer above was unveiled by head game director Colin Johanson. The trailer started with the highlight of the new beautiful zone Maguuma jungle, outlined to be separated into three distinct sections determined by the player’s elevation in the zone. A new method of traversing these varied elevations ArenaNet is providing a new PvE progression method called the Mastery system, which one example demonstrated will be unlocking hang gliders and everything unlocked throught his system will be shared account-wide. With no increase in level cap due to the nature of “Guild Wars 2,” progression in the Mastery system will not be limited to content immediately released in the expansion’s launch but will be continued throughout its continued Living Story releases, of which there have been over 40 of.

The next big feature announced is the ability for existing professions to embrace new specializations, unlocking a new weapon set, utility skills, and changing some of the core class game play. The example given was Rangers will be able to become Druids where they will gain staff abilities. Colin teased that Necromancers will be capable of using Greatswords but said nothing else regarding the matter.

Currently there are three light, three medium, and two heavy armor professions. This expansion is bringing a third heavy armor profession into play: The Revenant. Revenants call upon the power of legendary figures of the past to gain their strength. One of the current heroes of the game, Rytlock Brimstone, will be the first Revenant of the game.

Concept art of the new Revenant profession

Concept art of the new Revenant profession

Until now, the only PvP game-mode available was a standard fight for control of three points called Conquest. Each map provided something new to the formula but it was all at its core the same. Now they are releasing an entirely new game-mode called stronghold, where teams will hire soldiers, battle for control of heroes, and storm enemy bases to assault their guild lord. This mode is made with guilds in mind but currently has no confirmed team size. To continue the trend of keeping guilds in mind they are adding Guild Halls, giving guilds a home for their fellow guildmates. For those who like to slay players in World vs. World (hundreds from three servers fighting for control of an entire zone), there will be a new Borderland with a larger focus on providing a more noticeable bonus to controlling certain locations in addition to rewarding those who defend.

“Heart of Thorns” provides exactly what “Guild Wars 2” needed to prosper. Instead of doing what every other MMO does and add a new level cap, “Guild Wars 2” sticks to being “Guild Wars 2” and keeps the level cap the same, allowing all the hard work players have put into their characters to remain relevant, keeping current content relevant in the future, and adds an entirely new PvE progression system with the Mastery system. Furthermore, they are putting a new system in place for professions to further diversify themselves through specializations, which will certainly expand over time in addition to a new profession entirely. The player slaying community should be more than happy with the new gameplay variety provided but to make them ecstatic ArenaNet has given them an entirely new PvP mode and a new WvW Borderland. “Heart of Thorns” does everything right and instead of merely keeping “Guild Wars 2” relevant, it is allowing it to thrive and soar to even greater heights.

There is currently no release date for “Heart of Thorns,” but the first playable demo will be available at PAX East in Boston.

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Car-sharing for Gen-Y http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/26/car-sharing/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/26/car-sharing/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 19:25:34 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95522 It has been 2 cars and a suv since I last owned anything with a manual transmission. Call it the 7 year itch or the early signs of a midlife crisis but it has been on my mind daily. Who knew a manual transmission (and the sound of a v8) would get to me like this? […]

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It has been 2 cars and a suv since I last owned anything with a manual transmission. Call it the 7 year itch or the early signs of a midlife crisis but it has been on my mind daily. Who knew a manual transmission (and the sound of a v8) would get to me like this? I just want a few hours in a car that I could care less about the fact it has 3 rows, or that I can cram an entire Saturdays worth of errands in the back in one swoop or that it gets good gas mileage as a suv. BORING. I want the oohh with the ahhh! I crave the speed that goes along with each gear. I need to remind myself that I know I can still do it then happily return to Bob (my basic suv) knowing my itch had been scratched until the next time.

The problem is it’s not exactly an easy task to just get your hands on such car so what is a girl to do? Our local dealerships are not really too keen on being used for a test drives. Car rental companies tend to play it safe and stick to the vanilla models of what is on the “coupe” side if they even carry such but it will be paired with an automatic. Which leads me back to square one because the oohh and the ahhh with an automatic is not what I am seeking.

In my quest to find the ability to satisfy my need for speed (lets be real folks), I stumbled across car-sharing. Relay Rides is available in most cities and offers just about anything. Well, anything but a v8 with a manual transmission in Orlando it seems. I did however come across a 2002 Dodge Viper GTS.  Though it may more than scratch the itch, the $449 per day price tag isn’t exactly what I was looking to spend so it didn’t make the cut. It’s not to say in other cities one may not have better luck at finding their ideal match.

Relay Rides did peak my interest as not only the idea of driving a different car every day with no obligation, an alternate method of car usage while traveling but also one could also go undercover just for fun because sometimes you just need to do that, right? Not that I am promoting the usage of any of these car-sharing companies for surveillance but simply just stating the obvious. There is also the fact with car-sharing, whether with Zipcar, Relay Rides, or GetAround, one may not even need to ever own a car if they remain flexible with the idea of any car can be available if they need it. It’s an interesting thought and apparently popular, who knew?

GfK conducted online interviews with 6,000 consumers aged 16 and over, who hold a driving license, and covering six markets (Brazil, Russia, China, Germany, UK, USA) showing that Generation Y drivers are particularly open to these. Across Germany, UK and USA, over a third (34 percent) of drivers up to 34 years old say they are likely to, or definitely would, consider using a pay-as-you-go service instead of owning a car. And the appetite is even higher in the developing markets of Brazil, Russia and China. In Brazil, 40 percent of these younger drivers make this statement, while Russia stands at 44 percent and China at 64 percent.

I personally could not relay solely on this method for transportation, however, I can see those who reside in areas where mass transit is efficient and the need to drive themselves anywhere not often do benefit.

Have you shared your car with either of these sites or rented from them? If so, we would like to hear about your experience.

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Giant Pac-Man maze featured in Bud Light Super Bowl ad http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/25/giant-pac-man-maze-featured-bud-lights-super-bowl-ad/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/25/giant-pac-man-maze-featured-bud-lights-super-bowl-ad/#comments Sun, 25 Jan 2015 22:51:40 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95515 Ever wondered what Bud Light and Pac-Man have in common? Well, watching this latest Super Bowl XLIX commercial may not directly show any similarities, but it does show a guy being part of a giant, life-sized game of Pac-Man all thanks to a Bud Light. The ad is part of Bud Light’s latest #UpForWhatever marketing campaign letting drinkers […]

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Ever wondered what Bud Light and Pac-Man have in common? Well, watching this latest Super Bowl XLIX commercial may not directly show any similarities, but it does show a guy being part of a giant, life-sized game of Pac-Man all thanks to a Bud Light.

The ad is part of Bud Light’s latest #UpForWhatever marketing campaign letting drinkers know the beer is perfect for “whatever happens”–including running around a maze and collecting power pellets before giant ghosts track you down. It’s a good thing that guy managed to eat all the ghosts before they ate him, though. We just wonder what would have happened if he didn’t.

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iPhone remained dominant in Q4 http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/25/iphone-remained-dominant-q4/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/25/iphone-remained-dominant-q4/#comments Sun, 25 Jan 2015 13:21:17 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95512 Apple remains the top dog in the mobile phone universe, with Samsung falling behind. However, the two bitter rivals accounted for an astonishing three-quarters of all new cell phone activations in the fourth quarter of 2014. The iPhone, pushed by hew iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, bolstered Apple’s stranglehold. Samsung was led by the Galaxy […]

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Apple remains the top dog in the mobile phone universe, with Samsung falling behind. However, the two bitter rivals accounted for an astonishing three-quarters of all new cell phone activations in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The iPhone, pushed by hew iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, bolstered Apple’s stranglehold. Samsung was led by the Galaxy S5. Only LG could account for more than 5 percent of the remainder, with 11 percent of sales. No other manufacturer — Nokia, Blackberry, Sony — could account for more than 5 percent. This also includes the Amazon Fire Phone.

CNET reports that these figures come from a survey conducted by CIRP of 500 Americans who activated a phone during October, November, or December 2014.

The numbers are relatively flat for Apple, which had a 48 percent share of new sales in Q4 2013. Apple’s struggle is in gaining new ground, but it is excellent at keeping its customers locked up. A whopping 86 percent of those surveyed were upgrading an older iPhone to a new model.

Samsung actually lost ground, dropping from 31 percent last year.

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Nixeus In-Ear Earphones review http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/24/nixeus-ear-earphones-review/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/24/nixeus-ear-earphones-review/#comments Sat, 24 Jan 2015 14:00:06 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95486 In-ear earphones are great when hitting the gym or when you’re going to be moving around a lot, but some of us like a good pair that can go beyond the workout. The problem is that many of the better-sounding products cost a little more than we’re willing to spend, and the less expensive ones […]

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In-ear earphones are great when hitting the gym or when you’re going to be moving around a lot, but some of us like a good pair that can go beyond the workout. The problem is that many of the better-sounding products cost a little more than we’re willing to spend, and the less expensive ones don’t last very long. The key here is balance, so if you’re looking for a great pair that sound great but won’t break the bank, the Nixeus In-Ear Earphones are just what you’ve been looking for.

Right out of the box, the Nixeus Earphones come with a few extra goodies that make it one sweet package at just $19.95. Two additional pairs of rubber inserts are included, which come in different sizes perfect for almost every ear shape. You also get a leather carrying case and a convenient microphone/earphone splitter to connect to your PC, Mac, or gaming console. Even if you don’t use these accessories, the overall sleek packaging and goodies are a nice touch.

Nixeus boasts an ergonomic design, and once you get those earphones into your ears, you’ll feel it for yourself. The earphones themselves are somewhat curved, resembling current iPhone headphones. They hook into your ears and fit snugly inside. Their flat, tangle-free cord also makes them perfect for storing in your bag or purse as you’ll never need to spend time fiddling with cumbersome knots. You also won’t have to worry about them slipping out of your ears even if you accidentally pull on them. During more sweaty activities like exercise or cardio, these little buds never bothered us and still managed to isolate outside noise without any issues.

nixeus3

Of course, none of this matters if they don’t sound good. Rest assured–these small earphones deliver. The 13mm neodymium drivers produce crisp sounds at all levels and we didn’t hear much of a distortion when we cranked them up. And that’s the thing too. In addition to your own volume controls via your phone or music device, you can increase the volume separately through your earphones to amplify your music even more. A push-to-talk button also makes it possible to take incoming calls without grabbing your phone. Think iPhone earphones but better.

When it comes to listening to music, we found the sound quality to be clear and without any distortions. The earphones do a great job delivering accurate sounds from low to mid ranges, but you may not hear bass tones all that well–at least, we had a hard time doing so with some songs. Bass-heavy music or genres with low ranges might not sound as good as on a pricier product, but the overall sound quality is quite impressive for its price range. Additionally, you can also use these earphones as a headset when gaming on your computer, PS4, or Xbox One (or just for making calls), and you’ll have no trouble having clear and smooth conversations every time.

If you were looking for a good in-ear earphone to replace–say, your iPhone ones–Nixeus In-Ear Earphones may be the ones you were looking for. We enjoyed the rich sounds that came from these little earphones and we also liked that they doubled as an inexpensive headset when we wanted to game online. Whether you use them to game, listen to music, or simply make phone calls, the Nixeus In-Ear Earphones offer a great fit for just about anyone looking for an inexpensive way to enhance their listening experience. And for $20, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. We highly recommend you give them a try.

We received a product sample from the manufacturer for the purposes of this review.

Nixeus In-Ear Earphones review
You are sure to get your money's worth on a pair of earphones that sound great and feel good.
Audio
Comfort
Design
Value
Things that worked
  • Crisp sound and performance
  • Tangle-free cords
  • Doubles as a good gaming headset
Things that didn't work
  • Low bass production
4.3Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

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AccuWeather: Cold weather could be responsible for “Deflategate” http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/23/accuweather-cold-weather-responsible-deflategate/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/23/accuweather-cold-weather-responsible-deflategate/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 12:46:51 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95482 By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer ACCUWEATHER GLOBAL WEATHER CENTER — The New England Patriots are the target of an NFL investigation involving allegedly under-inflated footballs used during Sunday’s rainy AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. While the NFL has yet to determine the exact cause, cold and drenching conditions can play a factor […]

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By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer

ACCUWEATHER GLOBAL WEATHER CENTER — The New England Patriots are the target of an NFL investigation involving allegedly under-inflated footballs used during Sunday’s rainy AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

While the NFL has yet to determine the exact cause, cold and drenching conditions can play a factor into game equipment.

Just like vehicle tires, air pressure within a ball can drop when temperatures drop. Pressure in a football drops on a smaller scale, but it is similarly impacted by cold conditions.

Temperatures at the start of the 6:40 p.m. game were in the low 50s in Foxborough, Massachusetts. As the evening developed, temperatures settled into the upper 40s by the end of the game.

While temperatures for an outdoor venue in mid-January were not severe, a drop in indoor to outdoor temperatures can alter the pressure. When inflated inside warm, climate-controlled conditions, the ball pressure can be impacted by the transition to lower outdoor temperatures and brisk, rainy conditions.

Additionally, showers hit Gillette Stadium and eventually a steadier rain drenched players and fans into the second half of the game.

While weather brings adverse conditions to game situations, referees are required to inspect up to 36 balls provided by the home team for an outdoor venue. An additional dozen new, unopened footballs must be inspected for kicking plays, according to the NFL Rulebook.

It is not yet clear which balls were found to be under-inflated. In an ESPN report, the NFL discovered 11 home team balls to be under-inflated by 2 pounds each.

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Bundle Stars Releases Saints Row Bundle at Huge Discount http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/23/bundle-stars-releases-saints-row-bundle-huge-discount/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/23/bundle-stars-releases-saints-row-bundle-huge-discount/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 12:15:36 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95477 Bundle Stars, as a part of a five-day “Bundle Fest,” has released day four’s Saints Row Bundle. Now available, the bundle includes Saints Row 2, Saints Row: The Third and 17 pieces of DLC for Saints Row: The Third for $4.99 at 83 percent off the current price on Steam and will be available for two […]

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Bundle Stars, as a part of a five-day “Bundle Fest,” has released day four’s Saints Row Bundle. Now available, the bundle includes Saints Row 2, Saints Row: The Third and 17 pieces of DLC for Saints Row: The Third for $4.99 at 83 percent off the current price on Steam and will be available for two weeks.

Other bundles released during Bundle Fest include the indie game fueled Fully Loaded Bundle, the strategy game Besieged Bundle, a sports themed 8 Ball Bundle, the Raising Hell Bundle featuring games published by Codemaster, the Voyager Bundle which showcases games with fantastical environments, and the eclectic Resurrection Bundle with games from the war, horror, puzzle, and tea-making genres. If any of these bundles strike your interest be sure to act quickly because they’re only going to be around for a limited time.

The final bundle will be releasing tomorrow, Jan. 23. Another bundle not part of the Bundle Fest to look into is the F.E.A.R. Bundle which has entirety of the highly regarded horror series F.E.A.R. for over 80 percent off.

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Theatrhythm Curtain Call adds new DLC tracks http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/23/theatrhythm-curtain-call-adds-new-dlc-tracks/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/23/theatrhythm-curtain-call-adds-new-dlc-tracks/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 08:32:00 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95473 If you thought Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call had more music than you could count, Square Enix recently released a whole new batch of classic tunes to keep you humming. The tracks below are now available for $0.99 each, and for the first time, songs from Chrono Trigger and The World Ends With You are now […]

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If you thought Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call had more music than you could count, Square Enix recently released a whole new batch of classic tunes to keep you humming. The tracks below are now available for $0.99 each, and for the first time, songs from Chrono Trigger and The World Ends With You are now featured in the game:

Battle Music Sequence (BMS)

  • “Liberi Fatali” (Final Fantasy VIII)
  • “Final Confrontation” (Romancing SaGa 3)
  • “World Revolution” (Chrono Trigger)
  •  “Twister” (The World Ends With You)

Field Music Sequence (FMS)

  • “Wind Scene” (Chrono Trigger)
  • Calling” (The World Ends With You)

Square Enix also announced that more songs are on the way on February 19. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call is now available for Nintendo 3DS.

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BRAVEN audio company teams with Burton Snowboards for new line of outdoor speakers http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/22/braven-audio-company-teams-burton-snowboards-new-line-outdoor-speakers/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/22/braven-audio-company-teams-burton-snowboards-new-line-outdoor-speakers/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:12:10 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95469 BRAVEN, known for its lines of rugged outdoor speakers and audio devices has teamed up with Burton, known for its lines of rugged outdoor snowboards, to create a…line of rugged outdoor products. The co-branded line of portable, Bluetooth enabled speakers promise a mix of indestructibility and resistance to water and snow to deliver something qualified […]

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BRAVEN, known for its lines of rugged outdoor speakers and audio devices has teamed up with Burton, known for its lines of rugged outdoor snowboards, to create a…line of rugged outdoor products.

The co-branded line of portable, Bluetooth enabled speakers promise a mix of indestructibility and resistance to water and snow to deliver something qualified to produce audio at your next “Do you want to build a snowman?” binge.

Two models, the lightweight $80 BRV-1 with a microphone for speakerphone functions; and the $250 BRV-X, with TrueWireless technology to pair it with a second unit, will be on sale shortly.

The speakers actually look awesome. They can stream audio from your phone, have an IPX7 certified waterproof rating (which means you can splash them or submerge them in 3 feet of water for up to 30 seconds) and they double as a phone charger with a built-in battery pack.

“Burton is the absolute authority in winter sport culture and this collaboration is a unique opportunity to take our signature sound to new heights … literally,” said BRAVEN CEO Andy Fathollahi.

While we would have preferred a stronger IPX6 or 5 ATM water rating, we still suggest you check these speakers out.

unnamed (6)

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Facebook Announces Method for Reporting Fake News Stories and Hoaxes http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/21/facebook-hoaxes/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/21/facebook-hoaxes/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 14:37:00 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95462 Hoaxes are nothing new on the Internet. Nigerian Princes have been doing it for two decades. But whether it’s dead celebrities, bikini bridge, or the girl who did NOT get kicked out of KFC, 2014 was apparently such a bad year for viral Internet hoaxes that Facebook is stepping up to do something about it. […]

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Facebook will work to reduce the pervasiveness of fake news stories, but it will not take down content.

Facebook will work to reduce the pervasiveness of fake news stories, but it will not take down content.

Hoaxes are nothing new on the Internet. Nigerian Princes have been doing it for two decades.

But whether it’s dead celebrities, bikini bridge, or the girl who did NOT get kicked out of KFC, 2014 was apparently such a bad year for viral Internet hoaxes that Facebook is stepping up to do something about it.

That’s right…we’re so gullible to fake mermaid bodies washing up on shore that Facebook announced yesterday that it is added a feature for the lucid-minded of us to report and reduce the pervasiveness of fake news stories.

“The goal of News Feed is to catch up with your friends and find the things that matter to you,” wrote Erich Owens, Facebook Software Engineer, and Udi Weinsberg, Facebook Research Scientist on the Official Facebook News Site. “We’ve heard from people that they want to see fewer stories that are hoaxes, or misleading news. Today’s update to News Feed reduces the distribution of posts that people have reported as hoaxes and adds an annotation to posts that have received many of these types of reports to warn others on Facebook.”

Facebook is not, however, removing the content.

“We are not removing stories people report as false and we are not reviewing content and making a determination on its accuracy,” the pair wrote in their blog post.

In fact, the move may be a bit too subtle. Facebook released this example of a post that was marked “false” —

news-feed-fewer-hoaxes-example

What do you think? What’s your favorite Internet hoax of all time? Share your fake news thoughts below!

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An ode to the mom-and-pop auto shop http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/20/ode-mom-pop-auto-shop/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/20/ode-mom-pop-auto-shop/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 02:20:28 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95454 Decades ago, when I was just starting out in the newspaper industry, one of my first editorial jobs was to write obits. It’s a job usually saved for newbies, the cub reporters…you know, new kid on the block. Basically, it was the newsroom’s way of “welcoming” you into the family. Just like the Reader’s Digest […]

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Decades ago, when I was just starting out in the newspaper industry, one of my first editorial jobs was to write obits. It’s a job usually saved for newbies, the cub reporters…you know, new kid on the block. Basically, it was the newsroom’s way of “welcoming” you into the family. Just like the Reader’s Digest condensed books, the obit was someone’s history in a couple of pica-inches of copy.

History can be personal, history can be a world-changing event. Like the automotive industry. And, let me tell you, growing up on the east side of Detroit I was immersed in everything auto. My history switched gears when I morphed from reporter/editor to my first love: cars. As an ASE certified technician and shop owner for 20 years, I saw a lot.

There were a handful of outstanding techs that I had the pleasure to work side-by-side. Of course, there were dozens of individuals who had the desire to turn wrenches, but not the aptitude. Then there were customers who wouldn’t tell the “whole story” about a vehicle’s issue – even after playing 20 questions. I guess they thought less symptoms discussed equaled money saved. (Wrong.) Most of all, there were the customers-turned-friends that just made your day by saying thanks after a repair.

That piece of Americana-automotive history is fading fast. The numbers of local repair facilities are dwindling. Hence, this pending obit: The death of the family-owned and operated auto center.

Over several years, the independent mom-and-pop shop has been watching their loyal clientele commit to dealership maintenance programs. Most of these repair packages are “built-in” to the sticker price of a new, or a newer used vehicle. There is big money for dealerships to service what they sell.

Manufacturers have seen a +/- 15 percent jump (from +/- 60 to 75 percent) when it comes to consumers purchasing another vehicle from said servicing dealership.

IMG_4920Who’s withering in this manufacturers’ loyalty-brand game? The independent auto shop. Even with the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (a national, consumer law since 1975), the dealerships have been avoiding to inform their customer base about section 102c of the law – that they have repair choices. The text basically tells consumers that they can have their vehicle properly repaired at a family-owned auto center without fear of voiding the manufacturer warranty. The Federal Trade Commission* (FTC) backs up this warranty law.

According to the FTC’s publication on auto warranties education: “An independent mechanic, a retail chain shop, or even you yourself can do routine maintenance and repairs on your vehicle. In fact, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which is enforced by the FTC, makes it illegal for manufacturers or dealers to claim that your warranty is void or to deny coverage under your warranty simply because someone other than the dealer did the work.”

And, I’m not even going to discuss the “Right to Repair Act.” That piece of legislation never got off the alignment rack, in Washington. This article had been sitting around Congress for 10-plus years — road blocked by auto manufacturers.

So, what is an automotive family to do? The fate of the remaining independent repair centers rests upon how well they teach the automotive consumer.

Having mom-and-pop shops educate their customer base, local community about the auto repair choice law is a must! The consumer has options before signing on that dealership dotted line to who’s going to maintain their car or truck. Remember: there’s no such thing as a “free lunch.” Everything has a price tag, including the “free” oil, lube and filter. Those parts – and labor – costs the dealership monies. They may make up the difference by raising the price of body shop work or tires. Then, again, they may include the cost of the freebie in the dealership shop or disposal fee. But, let me tell you, they are not giving anything away. They are there for profit, not charity. Independent shops need to emphasize this fact to the consumer. Mom-and-pop shops don’t have to do it on their own.

There are several sources – including FTC – to help support their stance in the community. The local auto repair center needs to continuously educated their technicians and make sure that they are ASE certified, showing proficiency in all automotive elements. These two factors combined are key to saving the family-owned repair shop. It can be done. But, the passion needs to be there. The comradery between shops is a must. A united front must be established to help the everyday driver make the proper repair choices. Parts houses need to participate and support these automotive entrepreneurs, as well. Give the mom-and-pop shop fair pricing and part sourcing support. It’s got to be an aftermarket, automotive group effort. If the industry chooses the other route, then all is lost. And, there’s no road map back to the independent repair highway.

*The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)

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Borderlands bundle hitting PS4, Xbox One http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/20/borderlands-bundle-hitting-ps4-xbox-one/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/01/20/borderlands-bundle-hitting-ps4-xbox-one/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 01:10:44 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=95449 Gearbox and 2K are releasing a robust Borderlands bundle this spring that will let fans continue their adventure on next gen consoles. Available March 24, the Handsome Collection will include remastered versions of Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, as well as all of their DLC content for $59.99. In addition to just looking better, the Handsome Collection will also an introduce […]

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Gearbox and 2K are releasing a robust Borderlands bundle this spring that will let fans continue their adventure on next gen consoles. Available March 24, the Handsome Collection will include remastered versions of Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, as well as all of their DLC content for $59.99.

In addition to just looking better, the Handsome Collection will also an introduce enhanced multiplayer split-screen option, allowing four players to play the game together.

If that’s not enough for you and you don’t mind spending $399, you can also pick up a Claptrap-in-a-Box Edition, which comes with–you guessed it–a remote-controlled Claptrap that you can guide via your iOS or Android device. Only 5,000 robots will be available, so be sure to get yours before you miss out on owning a piece of Borderlands history. 12 Vault Hunter lithographs and a collectible steel case are also included in this fan-friendly bundle.

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