What is a Black Hole?

Brock Mon, 02/02/2015 - 03:25

After viewing the Stephen Hawkins movie "The Theory of Everything," I realized it was primarily about his hardships and romantic life. I was hoping to see more about his Black Hole research like Hawking Radiation, oh well.

A Black hole is a strange, invisible object in the depths of space, and from its gravitational influence nothing, not even light, can escape. Astronomers think that black holes are formed when certain stars come to the end of their lives. Stars radiate heat and light by converting hydrogen to helium. Both energy and mass are given out in this reaction and eventually the hydrogen is used up. The remaining matter in the star collapses in on itself under the influence of gravity. A star as heavy as our sun will usually form a white dwarf or a neutron star, but stars having more than three times the mass of the sun are thought to form black holes.

When a large star collapses, all the particles in it are attracted to each other and pulled toward a central point called a singularity. At this point, the star’s volume becomes zero and its mass becomes infinite. This singularity is the center of a black hole. It is encircled by what astronomers call an “event horizon”. An object attracted by gravity into a black hole would cross the “event horizon” and be lost forever, because in order to escape from a black hole, objects would have to be able to travel faster than light.

Astronomers have worked out the existence of black holes mathematically. Many believe that an X-ray source, Cygnus X-1, discovered in 1975, is a black hole. Cygnus X-1 is the invisible companion of a bright, hot star. Astronomers think that matter from this star is being pulled into the black hole and is giving off X-rays as it passes the “event horizon.”

Who is Uncle Sam?

Brock Fri, 01/09/2015 - 23:12

I think we are familiar with the slogan "Uncle Sam wants you!". Yeah, he wants your money alright. Uncle Sam is an imaginary person who represents the United States. The name was first used about 200 years ago as a joke. According to one story, a man named Samuel Wilson, who was usually called "Uncle Sam," was a government inspector of meat at Troy, New York, in 1812. A man named Elbert Anderson bought a large number of barrels of meat, which were marked with his initials, E.A., and also with the initials, U.S. (United States) to show that the meat had been inspected. One day one of the workmen asked what the initials stood for, and someone answered jokingly, "I don't know, unless they mean 'Uncle Sam'." This story may be true, but most stories of this kind tend to not be true.

The custom of picturing Uncle Sam as a tall, thin, gray bearded man with a tall hat and suit striped in red, white, and blue, grew out of a cartoon that showed a "Yankee peddler" in this costume. The cartoon appeared in 1829 in a newspaper, the Courier, in Portland, Maine, and that may have been the first time. Later a famous minstrel named Dan Rice wore this costume on the stage and it became very well known.

What is Hardcore Mode in Diablo III?

diablo 3 hardcore mode solo
Brock Fri, 08/22/2014 - 02:46

One of the modes in Diablo III that leaves players puzzled is the Hardcore mode. For a game that is reliant on being able to build up a character through regeneration it doesn’t make much sense to play in a mode where the character only gets to die once. But there is more to this level than just extreme gaming experience. There is a method to the madness of using Hardcore mode.

Just like in any other mode, you can select the character and role you want to play. You can also play Hardcore as a solo mode, or as a multi-player mode, but all players have to be in Hardcore more. Once you are in it, the character you have only has one life. It also doesn’t not have access to real money auctions. So you enter with your wits and play until you are killed once you are killed that is it.

Hardcore mode is considered to be one of the most challenging modes to play Diablo III in. While you can’t be resurrected, your character’s ghost remains in the game until you log off so you can still chat and interact with other players. Hardcore characters are generally designed by players for this mode only. The game supports a completely separate ranking system for Hardcore gamers as well. In many ways, it is the Thunderdome of the Diablo III world.

What Are the other Modes?

With the new expansion Reaper of Souls, Adventure mode is the common play standard. During this mode your player character can access auctions and regenerate through their complete life cycles. It is considered to be a more standard way of playing this RPG game and maintains the common ranking system. Rifts are open in both modes. However, the chances of solving a Rift in the Hardcore mode are even smaller than solving it in the Adventure mode. Rifts are designed to open up torrents in the game that allow for additional quests and items to be found. They are purposefully designed to be very difficult to complete and to open randomly. One of the things that makes a Rift so hard to complete is that while they randomly generate quests and rewards, they also randomly generate monsters. Rifts add an element of unpredictability to the gaming world. You do not have to follow a Rift if it opens.

Combat is the same in both modes, player to player and between players and NPC characters. In Hardcore mode you may want to be a great deal cautious about who you engage, and pick your teammates well as the outcome of the battle could take your character out permanently. This applies to randomly generated monsters in the Rifts as well. In all instances, the Hardcore character will not regenerate and there are no challenges to the death.

Remember the Diablo III Auction Houses

reaper of souls crusader
Brock Tue, 08/12/2014 - 17:09

One of the ways that you used to be able to acquire items and resources was through the game auction house in Diablo III. You could also trade certain items with another player or NPC directly by dropping the item in the trade screen and then clicking the okay button on it to claim the item. Gold could also be exchanged instead of items, or along with them. Some items like account bound items, were prohibited from trading in that way. Auction houses were started to make it easier for players to acquire items, and to monetize the game.

Real Money Versus Game Gold

There were two different auction houses that functioned in the Diablo III universe. The first allowed players to shop using gold pieces acquired in playing the game. You could find gold as a result of an adventure, or you could earn gold by completing certain quests. The gold based auction house charged a flat tariff fee of 15% of the price attached to the item. This encouraged you to adventure even more. The real money auction houses functioned in much the same way, only the tariff was set at about one unit of the currency you were purchasing in. Game play didn’t affect your resources, your wallet did. Players were fairly evenly split on whether or not they like being able to use real time money in the game for items and to get ahead.

The Problem in Korea

Who didn’t have a problem making up their mind about the use of real money auction houses was the Korean government. In order to release the game in Korea, the real money auction houses had to be shut down in the Korean versions or the game would be in violation of their on-line gambling prohibition. This started the company looking at other potential findings against them for using a real money auction house. They also polled the community to see what the general perception of the auction houses were. Surprisingly, by then most of the community was not in favor of any kind of auction house. Items, it was felt, should be the result of game play only – not purchased in any manner.

Deciding They Had to Go

While the company announced it was going to shut down the auction houses in March of 2013, it also admitted that it would be a very complicated process. Entire swaths of the game code would have to be adapted so that players who owned auction house items wouldn’t suddenly wake to find them missing from their inventory. Finally, in March of 2014, all auction houses were shut down with the release of the expansion, Reaper of Souls.

Shutting down the auction houses has had the surprising effect of improving the overall gameplay and community. Without a backup option, more players began to seek out quests to get items. There was also an uptick in team play. It seems like being able to buy things that made it look like you were skilled and experience also discouraged you from daring to play the game.

PlayStation Now Sucks as Is

playstation now beta
Brock Sat, 08/02/2014 - 15:18

Just like Microsoft's EA Access on the Xbox One, Sony's PlayStation Now is an online rental system for PlayStation 3 games. Players can play any of the games without having to download for a few bucks. The beta test rolled out this week and there are a few issues worthy of noting.

First, it is a little laggy, but that's fine. The bigger issue is that there is a wide spectrum of price ranges and some of them are insane. For example, it costs more to rent some of the games for a week than instead of just buying it! Sony gladly accepts constructive criticism as this is the beta, and they are listening to the customers apparently.

One suggestion by a user is allowing a discounted purchase of the game after renting it. This solves the problem of not having to pay more than the game costs if you decide to rent it more than a week. Also a cheaper rental price is in desperate need as well. Something like bringing $7 for four hours to $1. Another good way is to make this service subscription based like NetFlix. Why not charge a flat monthly fee for unlimited usage? Something like $30 would be good.

Also, why not add PS1, PS2, and PS4 titles to the service too? That would be amazing if I had access to the classic games as well as the latest ones. I don't think I'd get PlayStation Now because I already have PlayStation Plus, which already gives me free games and I don't have the time and money to rent out games too. It's simply not worth it to have both subsriptions simultaneously. You should choose one or the other if you're seriously considering investing a lot of time in playing.