Monday, September 16, 2019

Vaping

John B. Marine | 9/16/2019 06:35:00 PM | | Be the first to comment!
Drinking and smoking have never appealed to me. Despite this, some of the hottest issues of late have been vaping and e-cigarettes. There have been multiple deaths reported from vaping have been reported in August 2019. Government is even stepping in to regulate vaping. Some states, even have completely banned vaping. This blog post offers my own thoughts in regards to vaping.






Vaping


I tried to find a decent picture to set the mood for this blog post, but I thought otherwise since I couldn't find one. So you'll have to go on your imagination to know what I am discussing here.

What is vaping? As I understand it, vaping is a form of smoking that doesn't involve traditional smoking. Here is the definition Wikipedia provides:

"An electronic cigarette or e-cigarette is a handheld battery-powered vaporizer that simulates smoking and provides some of the behavioral aspects of smoking, including the hand-to-mouth action of smoking, but without burning tobacco. Using an e-cigarette is known as 'vaping' and the user is referred to as a 'vaper.'"

-Wikipedia (links to entry on site)

So according to Wikipedia, vaping is simulated smoking. Smoking in itself is dangerous as it is. Vaping has been seen as being even more dangerous than regular smoking. There is even a report that suggests vaping can also harm healthy teeth and gums also. Why vape, though? Well, people want to smoke whether usual smoking or this electronic smoking. Despite this willingness to smoke or vape, government is even stepping in to regulate or completely ban electronic cigarettes. This means brands like Juul are being fiercely regulated in trying to curb vaping. When researching vaping on Twitter, I even heard that some people smoked a regular cigarette after vaping. Regardless, vaping has its appeal to most people.


My Own Vaping Thoughts.

I do not use "John's Blog Space" or any other blog of mine to tell people how they should live. I am not any kind of hypocrite. There will likely be a strong contingent of people who will act against me or oppose any of my own ideas. I don't drink or smoke. Having said all of that, it may be best to say that the best way to prevent vaping is to simply not get involved in smoking- let alone vaping. I'm sorry... I just never found smoking or vaping to be "cool" or "sexy" or anything. It won't make you any less of a person just because you don't do any smoking or any variation of smoking (including vaping). If you still prefer to do any kind of smoking, that's up to you. I am not here to get in your way. However, if you are on the fence regarding smoking or vaping, I say the best thing you can do for yourself is to simply not get involved with smoking. And if you're trying to recover from smoking, get involved in one of those Stop Smoking programs or use things like nicotine gum.

These are my own thoughts, anyways. Feel free to agree or disagree to your heart's content.


Other Reading/Cross-Promotion.

My previous thoughts about drinking and smoking in general can be seen in my "John's Life Space" blog here:

Drinking and Smoking (John's Life Space)


I am glad you could be here to get my thoughts.





This blog post is over. Here is my discussion question to you if you care to discuss this topic:

If you want to smoke, would you prefer smoking or vaping? What do you think can be done to better curb or regulate vaping?

Please be sure to Subscribe/Follow my work in any capacity if you find my blogging interesting and if you enjoy my work. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Trophies/Accomplishments in Gaming

John B. Marine | 9/11/2019 06:59:00 PM | | Be the first to comment!
A way to challenge yourself is to try to complete tasks set by the game developer(s) outside of the main game. A lot of games have unique challenges for you to complete. Depending on whatever console you are playing on, you are either playing for Trophies (like with the PlayStation games) or Achievements (like with the Microsoft games). Some PC games on Steam even have some Accomplishments for you to try to complete. Even games on mobile platforms like Android and iOS may have certain goals for you to accomplish. No matter what, playing for Trophies/Accomplishments is a good method to try to engage gamers more into the games they play by having them complete various tasks.

This blog post is a look at Trophies/Accomplishments in today's modern gaming realm. It is kind of a topic I wanted to post about for a long time but never completed until now.






Trophies and Accomplishments in Gaming


I will use a picture to help set the mood. If I can't use it, then I will find something different to replace it.

trophies accomplishments gaming
^ from: mygaming.co.za - Do you play games to play through them, or do you try to focus on gaming and certain in-game challenges?

In modern gaming culture, it is not enough to just play through a game completing any and all different challenges. You sometimes want to find a new way to play the same old game. Enter the realm of Trophies/Accomplishments. These are in-game challenges made by either the game developer or by certain others designed to test your ability to complete such challenges. Despite the intrigue offered by these Trophy/Accomplishment challenges, there are a number of positives and negatives involved in the gaming experience with such goals to accomplish.

I will talk through a number of aspects regarding these gaming goals. So let's talk Trophies/Accomplishments in general!


Positives and Negatives to Trophies/Accomplishments in Gaming.

Playing to accomplish certain tasks can help make playing a certain game more fun and offer a more interesting sense of gratification to complete. On the other hand, these tasks could ruin the experience of playing a game because it makes you want to play a game outside of how you actually want to play it. For example, when I played "Need for Speed SHIFT," I want to try to be as clean of a driver as I could; but there were some goals in-game and as extra challenges to drive dirty. I had to basically play outside of how I want to play just to clear these extra tasks. That kind of drew me off.

Also, some of the Trophy/Accomplishment tasks can make you want to play a game in a way with things to may not enjoy. For example, a Trophy/Accomplishment may ask you to complete a game within a certain amount of time. You might hate speedruns and have to eventually try to complete a game in the quickest amount of time if you're trying to complete all of the tasks. So you may end up having to do things you may not normally enjoy but have to do anyways to accomplish something- just like in life sometimes.

One other problem with Trophies/Accomplishments is that some tasks require certain things that may not be accessible to you. And if those things are not accessible, you may also never will accomplish that feat to clear the set of challenges. I am especially talking about certain challenges that can only be completed through online or multiplayer objectives. If your goal is 100% completion of Trophy/Accomplishment tasks, not having online access can ruin your chances of clearing all Trophy/Accomplishment objectives.

One of the reasons why any Trophy/Accomplishment goals aren't revealed is because they may sometimes spoil the game. For example, certain goals for you to accomplish can offer some spoilers that you have to keep mind of that may ruin the game for you. One Trophy/Accomplishment may require you to keep a certain character alive or you may have to participate in a certain task that can ruin your experience of a certain game. Most people would want to experience certain moments for themselves rather than try to follow certain in-game goals or challenges to help dictate one's playing experience. That is why most game developers and gaming media companies often do not disclose Trophy/Accomplishment goals for their games if available. Disclosing such items can mostly give people a false idea of what a game has to entail than almost any really useful element(s) of a game.


Do Trophies/Accomplishments Help or Hurt Gaming?

I think Trophies/Accomplishments mostly add some extra value and incentive to playing certain games. However, one has to be careful that such goals to complete can spoil certain games based on how much you want to avoid certain spoilers. Definitely look into taking on certain challenges if you are curious or if you want to try to play the same game but in a different way.


Even still, it is still plenty intriguing to want to follow games primarily for the various elements that make them shine.




Trophies and Accomplishments in Gaming: Final Thoughts


If you need reasons to play a game for longer and find new enjoyment, it is best to follow any Trophies/Accomplishments offered for a game. Such elements help add challenge to a game as well as add a good amount of replay value. Conversely, these elements can spoil games or even severely alter the real experience to be offered through playing such games. Enjoy playing certain games basically for the gaming experience. Worry about things like Trophies/Accomplishments later. Most of these extra challenges should be secondary to playing certain games. If you could, perhaps try to complete a game first before trying to take on certain goals of Trophies/Accomplishments. It is paramount to try to enjoy what a game has to offer before trying to hunt down any number of Trophy/Accomplishment goals.

I do not condemn Trophies/Accomplishments; I just think you should not put as much interest towards playing a game to 100% its Trophy/Accomplishment goals.





I hope you enjoyed this blog and this blog post. The majority of what I want to cover is over. If you want to discuss this topic, then let me ask you...

Are you for or against Trophies/Accomplishments in gaming? What do you love or loathe most about these gaming goals?

Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Speedruns in Gaming

John B. Marine | 9/09/2019 06:27:00 PM | | Be the first to comment!
#Speedruns in games have been popular for quite some time. In speedruns, completing the game is not enough- it is about doing it in the quickest time possible. Some of the appeal lies in exposing a game and its engine to make the process of completing a game faster and more efficient than any normal play-through. As part of a blog post that encapsulated many random gaming thoughts, I felt I contributed too much to this topic than any other that it warrants its own full blog post. So this blog post is about speedruns in games.


Before I Begin...

Even though I stated this post is about speedruns in games, I will NOT offer advice or post about any speedruns I have attempted. This is all more opinion-based material than any proper resource. Any links or other media are all provided for educational purposes.






Speedruns in Gaming


It is time to offer some thoughts of mine regarding speedruns in gaming. These are unfiltered thoughts of mine, whether popular or unpopular opinions of mine. Okay... let's do this...

The appeal of speedruns are nothing new. In a lot of today's gaming culture, people challenge themeslves to clear a game as quickly as possible. The most common games in speedruns are usually classic titles. Some people even play specific versions of games because they are easier to quickly play through. The goal of a speedrun is to try to breeze through a game as quickly as possible. Usually, a game has so many different technical bits and other nuances that make a game longer than it really is. A game that seems to last for hours could possibly be beaten in maybe half an hour to an hour. Players often times will try to exploit the technical and graphical elements of a game to try to find the best way to complete it. Even as far back as the late 2000s, I remembered seeing some TAS (Tool-Assisted Speedruns) speedruns of certain games. This is to try to complete games in quicker amounts of time than the actual time. Usually, this was to avoid surpassing the time limit of making certain videos back then. There are even websites such as speedrun.com where people share their Personal Best times.

Personally, I dislike speedruns, especially of games I have never seen or played before. One of the biggest reasons why I dislike speedruns is because I feel like I am disrespecting a game trying to complete it as quickly as possible. I do not want to complete a game as quickly as possible unless I am encouraged to do so to achieve the best ending. The only way I can see speedruns being effective is if you are trying to gauge trying to complete a game efficiently. If I dislike speedruns, then why am I watching speedrun streams on Twitch? I watch because I want to see games being played. However, in the back of my mind, I tend to cringe a lot especially when someone fails to complete a game quickly or efficiently.

I mentioned before that I feel like a game is disrespected in trying to complete it as quickly as possible. I am someone who wants to savor every moment rather than try to complete something quickly. Again- don't ask me or make me want to complete a game quickly unless I am encouraged to do so. I seen games where a Trophy/Accomplishment goal is to complete a game in a certain amount of time. From what I can remember on the PlayStation 3... one goal for "The Simpsons Arcade" that had a goal for you to beat the game in 30 minutes, one goal was to beat "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" in about 50 minutes (or within an hour?), and one goal was to beat "Grand Theft Auto 4" in 48 hours. To me, doing a speedrun is a way of saying you want to get to the interesting parts quicker rather than enjoy each individual experience. That would be like trying to skip through parts of a book or a movie just to see the best parts. Unless a game is best when you try to complete everything as quickly as possible, I don't want to disrespect a game by taking part in any speedrun.

Another example of disrespecting a game with speedruns suggests that people have much better ways to waste time than immerse themselves in a game. Like, is completing a game as quickly as possible more important than enjoying every moment? Think about your favorite books, TV shows, movies, songs, or whatever. You love such media because there are many moments that draw you in and that you enjoy. Now imagine you just trying to breeze through something just to get to the good parts. In my mind, that's disrespecting something to only want to go through some media quickly. If a game is so bad or lengthy that you feel it is important to complete it quickly when you really don't have to, you probably shouldn't play it. Even if a game is horrible in every possible way, at least there is something to it that warrants some kind of respect. You can ask, "who cares?" about the elements of some game that isn't all that good. Only issue is, at least respect what a game has to offer and how it plays even while you are trying to breeze through it. I would gladly play a crappy game in its entirety and experience every horrible moment than try to find the quickest way to get through it. I'll even play the most broken games out there with the same sort of respect even if I don't like a game one iota. I just won't play a game with the intent of quickly trying to clear it.

So my takeaway here is... well, I have two. (1) Are some games so bad that trying to complete it quickly is a priority? (2) Is it of great importance that breezing through a game is more important than enjoying every individual moment and of what a game has to offer? Even with the worst games I've played or seen, I at least respect the game being played. Having said all of this, I am very amused at the tips and tactics gamers employ to try to clear a game as quickly as possible. I see even graphical and technical glitches exposed to try to clear games quickly. It almost makes me feel silly how I am not beating enemies and levels quicker than I actually can. I don't care about efficiency unless I really think I can clear a level or game with efficiency. I am more someone who cares about execution rather than style points. If you are watching online videos or live streams, you probably have more important or more interesting things to do than have time wasted seeing a play-through of a game, so some people would rather see a game being played through quickly rather than see a concise playing of a game- which is understandable.


Final Thoughts on Speedruns.

I particularly dislike trying to complete a game in the quickest time possible, unless I am encouraged to do so to experience the game's best ending. I do think about efficiency when trying to clear games, but I do not feel it is REQUIRED to be completely efficient. You sometimes have to play ugly and sloppy to eventually clear a game. Otherwise, trying to breeze through games is a really unnecessary challenge. I often get disappointed seeing that some games are only being played just to see how quickly you can go through them. Whether a game takes five minutes to beat or five hours to beat, I don't care about trying to beat it in the quickest amount of time. In addition to trying to complete games, I'd rather try to experience and remember every moment of even the worst games rather than try to go through everything like it doesn't matter. I feel like games are being disrespected when people are trying to go through games as quickly as possible. Though many of my thoughts regarding speedruns may not be popular, I just feel all games need respect and shouldn't have to try to clear certain games as quickly as possible. If you had more important things to do with your life than play through certain games as quickly as possible, wouldn't you be trying things OTHER than gaming as opposed to trying to speedrun games? Games, like any intriguing piece of media (books, TV shows, music, etc.) are meant to be enjoyed from start to finish with every moment being thrown at you. There is (at least to me) no enjoyment in trying to complete a game as quickly as possible unless encouraged to do so for the best result or some sort of surprise. While I don't entirely condemn speedruns or speedrun gamers, I don't find anything appealing or intriguing about speedruns. Maybe I am too much old-fashioned and a classical thinker regarding games to be out of touch with today's gaming realm.


People have their reasons for supporting or hating speedruns. I do not entirely condemn speedruns. I do not condemn gamers who consistently perform speedruns. I just don't enjoy them as much as a lot of gaming fans may. Everyone thinks and reacts to things differently.





Well, it is time for me to conclude another blog post. It's your turn if you want to discuss:

How do you feel about speedruns in gaming? Do you mind them?

It is time for you to comment and even interact with my content more if you enjoy my work. I am always looking to gain more support and respect each day and from more individuals. You can help! I hope you found my content great. Be sure to follow my work in any capacity so you keep up with my latest material. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Linux Thoughts

John B. Marine | 8/28/2019 09:14:00 AM | | | Be the first to comment!
Most of us either use Windows or Mac. Most mobile users use either Android or iOS. Some desktop users use Linux. After losing interest in developing for and using Android TV, my attention shifted to Linux. More importantly, trying to get the same kind of Android TV set top box experience but for another alternative PC experience. So I began looking at Linux and researching what all is possible with Linux. This blog post primarily looks at some of my earliest thoughts concerning possibly giving Linux a try.


Before I Begin...

I had no idea that Linux celebrated its birthday on August 26 or so. Linux's roots dates as far back as August 25, 1991. Through further research for this topic, I learned its roots go back even further- as in various AT&T employees back in 1969 coming up with the concept of Linux well before Linus Torvalds unveiled Linux to the world. Linux is NOT UNIX. So anyways... happy belated birthday, Linux! :D






Looking Into Linux


My latest story in my blog concerns getting into Linux. So let's set the mood here.

Linux Tux
^ from: (Wikipedia) - You know you are dealing with Linux when you see Tux, the penguin mascot of Linux.

Since about 1996, I have had more Microsoft Windows experience than using Apple or some other interface. I have used Windows a lot since using Windows 95 on my old Hewlett-Packard computer with 8 MB of RAM, a 75 MHz processor, and a 14.4 kbps dialup modem. I then started using Windows 98 on an eMachines computer that had about 32 MB of RAM, a 300-something MHz processor, and a 56K modem. Then came an HP computer with roughly 390 MB of RAM (before I upgraded it) using Windows XP. And today, I am on an Acer PC that had Windows 8 until I upgraded to Windows 10. Never have I consistently used any other operating system from any company other than Microsoft. I think I even used Windows Millennium Edition at my community college back in 2001 also, when I was taking some classes to help out my chances of graduating from High School. I have not had any kind of non-Microsoft interface that I regularly use besides Android on the mobile side.

Because of this, one would wonder why now would I look at something other than Microsoft Windows? Well, you know that some people have no problem going against the grain or being some kind of rebel. You are not monopolized into using Windows (or even Mac). So think of all the people who want to take an experience outside of the mainstream. Enter Linux. Installing and using Linux is a way to enjoy basic computing without having to worry about some of the different areas of concern when using something like Windows or Mac. The way people have made Linux work and the community supporting it is incredible to say the least. While Windows and Mac are better supported and vastly used, some prefer Linux for its capabilities and what it has to offer outside of its more popular counterparts. Some people even are compelled at what Linux has to offer that some people even put both Windows/Mac and Linux on the same PC and want to dual-boot between the two operating systems if they so choose. There are also those who will use Linux for things like KODI/XBMC.

Let me explain based on recent thoughts of mine...


The Fascination of Linux.

Allow me to set up why I am looking into Linux. This all ties into what I hope to do in the future, so read on...

I was fairly pleased when I bought a Google Nexus Player a few years ago. I was intrigued mostly about having an Android experience outside of my Android devices then. It was the kind of experience outside of using my portable media players as well as my OUYA Android gaming console. As much as I enjoyed the experience with the Nexus Player, I had a number of issues. For one, I thought it was disappointing not many mobile applications for Android could also be used on Android TV. Keep in mind- Android and Android TV are two different interfaces. You probably wouldn't be able to play most games or applications on Android TV as you could on an Android-powered smartphone or tablet PC. Also, the Nexus Player wasn't too keen on things like external memory or piling on different devices. Unless you had an OTG cable, you were out of luck adding more accessories or even memory to the Nexus Player. So this prompted me to look into other Android TV set top boxes.

After a while, I began to look into the Xiaomi Mi Box. Early on, I was disappointed completely when I ordered a Mi Box from Wal-Mart online with the box not having anything from the Mi Box and with crumpled up documentation. I took it back and then later ordered a Mi Box S that was recently unveiled at the time. This time, everything- including the hardware- was included. The Mi Box S was great for me because I could actually plug in some USB devices without needing an OTG cable. Months later, I noticed my Mi Box S having some display trouble. It would produce a blank screen, and I would have no choice but to unplug the Mi Box S and plug back in to see everything again. This began a point where I started thinking less and less of trying to enjoy a rarely-supported Android TV experience. I now started to think about some other options as having a media experience outside of Android TV set top boxes.

And therefore... enter Linux.


Fueling Fascination for Linux.

I do not have Linux experience prior to this blog post, but I have played some Linux-based games that was made available for Windows. Two such games are SuperTux and SuperTuxKart. SuperTux is like the premier Linux platform game similar to the Super Mario Bros. series. SuperTuxKart is a cartoon kart racing game more along the lines of modern Mario Kart games. Both games were Linux originals before they found their way outside of Linux. While I downloaded another Linux game called Trigger Rally, I have not installed it or used it on my W10 PC. I would be completely remiss if I failed to mention my music-making with Linus MultiMedia Studio (LMMS). The fact LMMS is free makes it great for producing music outside of a more popular program like FL Studio. Then too, you can use your material from FL Studio in LMMS for more music producing power. I was going to publish my blog post on Linux without mentioning LMMS, but I remembered it at almost the last moment.

Linux is free and open source (or FOSS in Internet lingo). It is an operating system that could be customized to any extent if you have the proper knowledge to do so. I have read builds of Linux could be installed even on older computers because Linux is so lightweight on resources. So if I could, I could take my previous HP computer and install a build of Linux on it. Funny enough, I even saw one website with an article on certain Linux distribution programs and some of the PC requirements to run certain versions of Linux. One of these distribution models (commonly called "distros") was so light that it required only 48 MB of RAM to run! It is then possible Linux can give new life to old PCs and laptops. Through my research, Linux along with certain Distros is like having Android with a certain system attached to it (kind of like Touchwiz on Android-powered Samsung devices, for example).

As an Android user, I learned Android is loosely based on Linux. So if you like to think of Android as putting Linux into every mobile device, then you could say Linux is everywhere! Android is still very much a proper mobile platform even from its Linux roots.


Next section features more information about my looking into Linux and what I hope I can accomplish in trying out something new.




My Linux Intentions


Let me go into detail in what I want to accomplish in possibly going into Linux.


Linux: Hardware Intentions.

I don't want an entirely new PC equipped with Linux. Instead, I am more about having a quality alternative PC experience much like when I've used Android TV set top boxes for a few years. I began looking up mini PCs already equipped with Linux. Most of these were kind of foreign PCs that you would likely find on sites like Alibaba or DHGate. A few of these mini PCs were even spotted by me on the likes of Amazon and eBay. I have my qualms to an extent regarding hardware I am not familiar with from companies I am familiar with.

Some set top boxes come with no RAM or no OS. These would be perfect to try to install Linux onto a Mini PC style system. However, it would mean spending a little extra money to basically complete an incomplete PC. More proper mini PCs usually start at a range of about $150 USD to almost $200 USD. For reference, my Acer desktop PC cost about $330 USD from a Wal-Mart. So would I want to have an experience that would overwhelm my main PC?

Some of those mini PCs can be attached to your modern HDTV with mounts on the back. I wonder how that is all going to work if I did go for one of those Mini PC units.


Linux: Software Intentions.

I mostly plan to look at Linux as an alternate PC experience as well as possible game development. I probably would want to look at this for watching videos and streams as well as chatting. I almost basically want to enjoy what I did with Android TV but in Linux. In addition to what I enjoyed about using an Android TV set top box, I think I could enjoy a few more freedoms about not having everything so Android or mobile exclusive on this other device.

The only thing I am a bit uncertain of is what Linux distribution I would want to use. I am looking at Ubuntu, but Mint also looks rather handsome.


Linux: "What If?" Situations?

What if my main PC stops working or if I want to get a new PC? What if my primary computing duties have to be fulfilled through Linux? Can I really live using a mini PC equipped with Linux? I am looking at Linux as a secondary computing platform; NOT a replacement. Then too, could it be possible I could have a better experience with a more capable mini PC that could have some better specifications than my main PC? I am looking at this in the sense of if I could run some programs better on a smaller PC. For example, what if I could run a game like Assetto Corsa on a mini PC better than I could with my main PC?

I am not willing to completely give up on Windows, so I am not going to that sort of extreme of being full Linux and never touch Windows again. I am mostly just looking at Linux as an OS to handle a mostly media-focused mini PC. I gave up on Android TV and want to go with something else. As for which Linux Distro, I may be looking at Ubuntu. Maybe Mint.


Final Thoughts to come...



Final Thoughts on Linux


It is amazing how an operating system like Linux can be so successful outside of the usual Windows or Mac crowd. While my plans are not to abandon (in my case) Windows forever, I do find intrigue and interest in Linux. I am still going to to need to familiarize myself with Linux for if and when I do decide to join the Linux ecosystem. I am fairly certain I can get a lot of Linux help and assistance if I look in all the right places and talk to the right people.


For More Information...

Do you want to install Linux on your PC or laptop? You may visitwww.linux.org for more information, or you may look for various Linux distributions by going to Download Linux | Linux.org. You may also help support open-source ecosystems through Linux's initiative at www.linuxfoundation.org.


I guess I've said enough regarding Linux for someone possibly looking into using a Linux system in the future. I mentioned mini PCs a lot here also, which I may blog about in the future on "John's Blog Space" as well. Stay tuned for that if I do post something about any related topic here.





Thank you for taking time out of your day/night to visit my blog(s). Hopefully you've enjoyed my content or want to respond in kind to my material. Either way, you are surely welcome to respond if you like. Subscrbe/Follow if you love my work and haven't done so already. Meanwhile, please have yourself a great day/night. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Casio CTK-671

John B. Marine | 8/21/2019 06:25:00 PM | | | | Be the first to comment!
The Casio CTK-671 is a fine portable keyboard. Since I have blogged about Casio music keyboards, I figured I'd mention one more. The CTK-671 is my current music keyboard that delivers fine sound in a stylish package. This blog post is an opportunity to make mention of this keyboard and what it has to offer. So if you're ready for another post of mine, welcome again to "John's Blog Space!"






Casio CTK-671


This blog post is about the Casio CTK-671. So if you're interested, let me talk about this music keyboard for you.

The Casio CTK-671 is a beautiful and capable keyboard. The keyboard features 61 keys along with a number of different instruments and rhythms to choose from. It allows for you to make music either on its own or use its MIDI input and output to make quality music. That's right- unlike the Rapman and CTK-500 I reviewed previously, this Casio keyboard allows for MIDI input and output. You can even jack in some Line-In for more music making power. Perhaps the CTK-671's most intriguing feature is that you can add extra instruments and rhythms from your computer. Back then, you had to download extra instruments and rhythms from Casio's website or from some other resources. You can only add so much to this keyboard with the onboard memory it has. The keyboard has a light-up orange display showing the keys being pressed as well as other information. The experience for making music is both exceptional and modern for any musician of any level.


My Thoughts About the CTK-671.

This Casio CTK-671 is handsome and with some great musical ability. I bought a MIDI cable to hook it into my former PC. The keyboard was used a lot by me to create music from my keyboard. Its sound quality is excellent from its speakers. I used to use a program called NoteWorthy Composer (NWC) back then for which to make my MIDI music even before I got this keyboard. Now in trying to bring in instruments to the Casio CTK-671, it was kind of a weird process. I had some trouble with the program for which to import instruments and rhythms onto the Casio CTK-671. The fact the program had some wonky Japanese-to-English translations only made things a bit more weird to try to get to work. All in all, the Casio CTK-671 works very well for making marvelous music. If you don't mind an older keyboard that can still provide as great of keyboard music now as it was in its time, then I would surely consider you get the Casio CTK-671.


Video Insight.

If you like my look at the Casio CTK-671, then allow me to provide some video insight on this keyboard. Take a look (and listen) to this:


^ CASIO CTK 671


Maybe this spurs your interest in older keyboards.





This one's done. Glad you could be here to get my thoughts on another such topic in my "anything and everything" approach to blogging and blog topics. Subscribe/Follow my blog(s) if you enjoy my work. Don't forget also to follow me on social media to keep up with other things in my life and in other stuff. I appreciate all the support I can get. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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Casio CTK-500

John B. Marine | 8/21/2019 11:26:00 AM | | | | Be the first to comment!
The Casio CTK-500 was my next keyboard after the Casio Rapman. A few years after I felt I could do no more with the Rapman, it was the CTK-500 the further fueled my piano and keyboard playing interests. Since I spent time talking about the Casio Rapman keyboard, I figured it is time I mention my second-ever keyboard that I used to play music on. So I'd like to welcome you to another blog post of mine here on "John's Blog Space!" I hope you enjoy this one as much as I hope you enjoy my many posts in all of my blogs.






Casio CTK-500


Let's talk about the Casio CTK-500 keyboard now.

The Casio CTK-500 offered a bigger and better music experience than most other offerings from Casio at its time. Unlike the Casio Rapman's 32 keys that I blogged about previously, the CTK-500 is a 61-key keyboard offering many different instruments and 45 sample songs. There were buttons for which to control tempo and even to insert ad-libs. It had 40 rhythms and 120 tones. Despite the fine musical enjoyment you can get out of it, you are out of luck if you are planning on making MIDI music with it, because this keyboard does not have any MIDI input or output.

It was the Casio CTK-500 that was my next keyboard for making quality music. I saw it at stores long ago to where I was impressed playing around with it that I wanted to get this keyboard. It was the keyboard my mother got me back in the mid 1990s. Actually, when I was researching this blog post, I did not remember the name of this keyboard until I started doing some random searching. I do know this keyboard had some renditions of certain songs that I could remember. So on Google, I looked up Casio keyboards while remembering one of the songs- "Blue Suede Shoes" being one of those songs. Afterwards, I found out the name of this keyboard and decided to finally put my blog post together! I enjoyed the quality of the beats and the instruments this keyboard had. That is why I enjoyed playing music on it for as long as I did back then.


My Thoughts on the Casio CTK-500.

It is perhaps best to say that I grew up as a musician by going from the Casio Rapman to the Casio CTK-500. It was a wonderful keyboard for me to play music and hone my own musical talent with. I enjoyed mostly using the built-in rhythms and songs to listen to and perhaps even use to enjoy music apart from trying to create my own material. As I felt I was at the end of my rope trying to develop music with this keyboard, I felt it was time to move on. I totally enjoyed playing music on this keyboard for the time that this was my keyboard. Maybe if it had MIDI input/output and if I had a PC that could take advantage of this, I would love the CTK-500 even more. Other than that, I was really glad to get this keyboard and play it proudly. I had some great times with this keyboard for as long as it lasted for me.


Video Preview.

This video showcases all of what the Casio CTK-500 had to offer. MANY fond memories in this one! It is almost as much as I remember playing this keyboard back in the day. Check it:


^ CASIO CTK-500

Though the video shows some damage to the keyboard, it still is a great indication of what the Casio CTK-500 had to offer.





This is another completed blog post on "John's Blog Space," my main blog about anything and everything. Great for you to spend your time here and take time out of your day to see some of my own interesting content. I'm pleased you have dropped by! Make sure to Subscribe/Follow if you enjoyed your time here. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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Casio Rapman

John B. Marine | 8/21/2019 10:30:00 AM | | | | Be the first to comment!
In the 1990s, hip-hop was huge. Almost anyone wanted to be a hip-hop star. Some, however, didn't know how to start. Casio could help! The Casio Rapman was a music keyboard that made being a hip-hop star fun. I decided to take a trip back in time by coming up with this blog post regarding this old keyboard. I also will explain my own experiences with this keyboard, because this played a role in my eventual love and continued love of piano and keyboard music. I'm glad you could be here on "John's Blog Space" to check out my latest musings. So welcome to JBS!






Casio Rapman


Get to know the Casio Rapman with this post. I couldn't find a decent picture to set up this post, so I will avoid trying to use a certain picture to set things up here.

The Casio Rapman is a music keyboard allowing people to pretend being the next best hip-hop star. It was released back in 1991. It has 32 keys, some drum pads, a scratch wheel for making record scratch effects, and even a microphone which your voice can be adjusted. It even came equipped with a number of instruments and sample beats to get started being that hip-hop star you wanted to be back in the early 1990s. Since this was more of a novelty type keyboard, this keyboard didn't have any facility or ability to produce MIDI music. So you could only do so much with an affordable kind of keyboard like this.

My own personal experience with the Casio Rapman helped fuel my own fascination with keyboard music. My brother and I played with the Rapman. When my brother moved on to college, I basically was using the Rapman to make music and practice my own music making skill. I had quite some fun times trying to make my own music. While the 32 keys were more than adequate to try to play music on, I actually was eyeing something bigger and better as far as keyboards were concerned. The Rapman was great for me because this simply gave me the opportunity to play and compose music on a proper keyboard.

While I grew up with hip-hop music, I wasn't really looking to be exclusively with this kind of keyboard if I wanted to make all kinds of music. This keyboard did serve me well, though. My piano and keyboard music love only grew as I got older and as I eventually got two other keyboards after the Rapman. Both of which, also from Casio.


My Thoughts on the Casio Rapman.

Sure, I came out better music-wise with later keyboards I own, but as we say, we all have to start somewhere. The Casio Rapman was that bigger-and-better thing for me to evolve as a piano and keyboard person. Today, anyone who plays music on a Rapman certified themselves as a true '90s person. The Rapman is a music keyboard that is more like a toy to a lot of people. However, anyone wanting to enhance their craft with keyboards would probably be better served with a bigger keyboard or even a proper piano. The Rapman, though, was a great novelty. Though I moved on to bigger and better later in my life with keyboards, it was the Casio Rapman and my interest in making music that helped start all of this for me and my life.


Video Insight.

Here is a video for you to take a look at that gives you an idea of what the Casio Rapman had to offer. I chose this video because it is the best at simply showing what you could come up with playing it. So enjoy this video:


^ SOUND BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE CASIO RAPMAN


I hope you found this blog post entertaining.





I am glad you could drop by "John's Blog Space" to see my fine post! I probably brought back memories for some of you early 90s folks, and for that, you're welcome! :) I'll blog about anything and everything in this blog and in my others. So make sure you're Subscribed or Followed in some capacity to keep up with my latest posts. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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Monday, August 12, 2019

Cryptocurrency

John B. Marine | 8/12/2019 08:58:00 PM | | Be the first to comment!
Cryptocurrency is interesting. You may remember in my post about the Brave Browser of its BAT cryptocurrency. I also mentioned I may devote an entire blog post to cryptocurrency. Well, here is that post! What is cryptocurrency? Should you invest in it or care about it? What could be long-term effects of cryptocurrency? I will attempt to answer a lot of these questions and offer my own thoughts.

NOTE: I am NO expert on cryptocurrency. Do not take any of what I am about to mention as any professional commentary or thoughts. The material here is only posted mostly as a digest.






Cryptocurrency


Let's talk cryptocurrency, shall we?

Here is cryptocurrency the way I understand it. When the economic downturn of 2008 affected global markets, there was a lot of uncertainty in having a stable currency the world can use. One such monetary option is that of cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is a form of electronic currency that can be used to purchase a number of things electronically. The most famous cryptocurrency today is BitCoin, which has been around since 2008. However, there are other cryptocurrencies such as DogeCoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Enjin Coin, BAT (Basic Attention Token), Facebook Libra, and various other cryptocurrencies. Rather than spend your basic currencies, cryptocurrency has its own value when shopping around. Some even try to make cryptocurrency mainstream. Can you imagine trying to buy a gift card at a brick-and-mortar store to your favorite service or restaurant by buying in cryptocurrency?

Just like regular currency, there is an actual sort of stock market in wondering the prices of such cryptocurrencies. Some websites even track the changing values of cryptocurrencies. One website I saw even had its own little game for scavenger hunting to make cryptocurrency. There are so many different methods for which to keep up with and use cryptocurrency.

You do need to have some sort of regular funds available in addition to having cryptocurrency. You still need to pay taxes with cryptocurrency. Some even believe cryptocurrency, when done a certain way, can be a means of farming money to potentially get rich quick. I don't believe that cryptocurrency is like trying to make counterfeit money. There is a lot of gray areas regarding cryptocurrency; but for the most part, there is SOME legality and SOME interest in really trying to invest in and use any cryptocurrency.

How do you store cryptocurrency? Well, prior to researching this topic, one such method involved having some kind of device or item that stores and protects your cryptocurrency in this metallic card. It can also be as simple as having something like a USB flash drive to store your cryptocurrency on and then use it at your discretion online or offline.


Should You Care About Cryptocurrency?

Many people believe that cryptocurrency is an investment nightmare, and you will not be able to get any solid returns in it. Absolutely do your research before considering taking part investing in cryptocurrency.


Will Cryptocurrency be Fully Accepted?

I think cryptocurrency is going to be accepted, but a WHOLE lot of regulation is going to have to be implemented before cryptocurrency becomes universally accepted. I doubt I will be paying for a McDonald's meal using BitCoin or some other cryptocurrency any time soon. I'm more likely using my PayPal money than using any cryptocurrency.


One Final Note...

I want to remind you that I am no expert in cryptocurrency or anything involving economics. You are free to think any way you please regarding cryptocurrency.




Cryptocurrency Examples


Would you like to learn more about cryptocurrency? Here are a few resources for you:

BitCoin
Dogecoin
Litecoin
Enjin Coin
Ethereum (which has Ethereum Coin)
Basic Attention Token (BAT)

And more resources:
Coinbase
Blockchain


I may include more resources; but for now, this is to help you get started.





That concludes another blog post of mine. I hope you were able to find this post interesting. I surely want your ideas to help educate myself regarding cryptocurrency. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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Brave Browser

John B. Marine | 8/12/2019 10:15:00 AM | | | Be the first to comment!
"You are not a product," so says Brave. Brave is not just another browser. This is a browser looking to protect you from targeted ads and allow for fast browsing. It also has its own cryptocurrency system. For some time, I have used the Brave browser to do my usual consumption of media on the Internet. I have done about as much as I could to be able to consider making a blog post reviewing it. How brave is Brave? Will I rave Brave or rant on it? I'll offer my views in this blog post.






Brave Browser


Time to be brave! Here is my post on the Brave browser...

Brave Browser
^ from: (Computerworld) - The Brave browser is indicated by this lion logo. Besides, how many non-brave lions do you know of?

Brave sets out to provide fast browsing as well as limit target-based advertising. It is a browser designed for you to freely browse the Internet without having to worry about having a lot of your personal information being distributed. Today's Brave should be familiar to you if you are used to Chrome-based browsers. A lot of the Chrome infrastructure is prevalent in the design of Brave. In my reviewing of Brave, however, I have not gone crazy with adding Extensions to Brave, and I am not sure if many of them work with Brave as they would with Chrome.

Most of my testing of Brave is with Windows 10 and Android.


Browsing.

When you browse with Brave, it does a unique job of limiting the amount of ads you see. The system in play involves the use of the Brave Shields. It is unique in that you don't get as many notices from some websites that request you whitelist them (those who get sites blocked by ad blockers).

In addition to browsing, the Brave browser offers up private ads you can view independently. These ads are served based on your browsing history and your interests. This is different from (for example) when Google tracks most of your Internet activity and serves you ads based on sites you have visited before. While it seems good to get ads served to you based on your interests on Google, you may find yourself getting ads based on some sites and some topics you are not as interested in. The advertising method is blockchain-based.

What happens is that from time to time, you will get a notification pointing you towards a certain advertisement. This way, you can view the suggested ad privately by simply clicking on it on your time. The ad being pointed to will open a new tab in Brave for you to view.


Paying it Forward.

Not only is Brave about fast and unobtrusive browsing, it also is about helping support users and the content they view. The browser has a facility which allows users to independently support the content viewed by using a cryptocurrency called BAT. BAT can be earned and exchanged simply by following and supporting your favorite websites through Brave. So this is a browser meant to not only browse properly, but also be able to support the content you enjoy.

Speaking of that BAT...


Cryptocurrency.

The Brave browser uses a form of cryptocurrency called BAT, or the Basic Attention Token. The BAT currency is based on Ethereum cryptocurrency. BAT can be earned by viewing private ads or by converting your funds over to BAT from actual money or other cryptocurrencies (such as BitCoin). Brave allows you to offer tips to your favorite sites so they can get supported for their work. This can all be accessed if you have Brave Rewards enabled. If you are a content creator, you can earn BAT funds by signing up to Brave Rewards as a Publisher. The way BAT works is that it does away with the middlemen to provide some sort of method in which the user's viewing data ends up helping compensate for publishers and advertisers.

At present, the BAT cryptocurrency is not seen as a very viable one compared to the likes of BitCoin. The cryptocurrency is still in its infant stages mostly.

NOTE: I may make a separate blog post regarding cryptocurrency in the future. So if you enjoy my blog, please Follow so you can see more of my posts.


I have provided an overview of Brave, but how does it compare to the aforementioned Chrome? Take a look at the next section.




Brave vs. Chrome


Actually, I found myself using Brave more than Google Chrome in the few weeks to a month I have tried out Brave. Chrome has had a reputation of being a resources hog. Brave mostly seems faster and more efficient than the Chrome interface it is based on. Brave itself claims to be eight times faster than Chrome and Safari (for you Apple users). I think Brave runs faster more for its efficiency and rather than its ad blocking ability, though the ad blocking through Brave Shields is a nice touch.

Final thoughts on Brave are coming up.




Brave Browser: Final Thoughts


Brave Browser offers up an unobtrusive and guilt-free browsing experience that is tough to rival against. It is not so much the browser itself being anything special, it is more of what this browser has to offer in addition to trying to "give back" to publishers and advertisers. Brave rather lives up to its name in being brave enough to allow for both users and content providers to benefit rather than bombard you with loads of content that only slows down simple browsing. You can even earn some currency through the BAT cryptocurrency, not to mention make and give it! If you happen to be a regular Chrome browser user, then you will mostly feel at home with Brave but not have to worry so much about certain ad choices as well as invasion of privacy. So definitely try out Brave for yourself. I approve of the Brave browser.

And one last rather unimportant piece of commentary... I posted this on Blogger/Blogspot through Brave. ;)


For More Information...

If my look at Brave interested you and if you want to try it for yourself, please visit brave.com. If Brave's BAT cryptocurrency interests you and the Brave Rewards system, learn more about Brave Rewards and BAT at About Brave Rewards.





This post is over, and so thank you for visiting! I hope you decide to drop by this blog (and my others) for your reading pleasure regularly. Do not just read and leave; get involved! Make my material as useful as possible to as many people as possible. That's what I hope to do every post! Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Remembering the OUYA

John B. Marine | 6/25/2019 09:11:00 PM | | | Be the first to comment!
On June 25, 2019; the #OUYA shut down its servers, signaling the end of the OUYA experience. OUYA and Razer Forge TV stores would be shut down, and OUYA profiles would be no more. The OUYA was the crowd-funding Android gaming darling of old. It was an Android gaming console to challenge the proper consoles. Did it succeed? Many people will tell you the OUYA was a colossal failure and never became any serious challenger. Some even looked at the OUYA as a means of providing lackluster games or turning mobile and web games into worthy titles. Over 1,250 games were made for the OUYA through its lifespan. Some OUYA games worked for me- the likes of Fist Puncher, Fist of Awesome, and Elliot Quest. Some others, unimpressed- especially that Amazing Frog game.

So what is the OUYA? That's this thing:


^ from: (Amazon) - The OUYA- an Android gaming console you either loved or loathed.


What I take away most from the OUYA was how anyone could build games. I even became fond of the OUYA in that I have gotten better respect for independent (or "indie") gaming culture. That was my main takeaway from the OUYA experience. Most people weren't loaded with cash and talent to make AAA-quality games. I think the OUYA was only a disappointment if people thought a bunch of Android games were going to overtake AAA titles on the major consoles. For the most part, I am a gamer that does not discriminate too much on what a great game is or should be. Maybe the OUYA didn't have enough going for it to become a tremendous success. Perhaps it didn't have lots of 3rd Party support from major developers. No matter what, I liked the idea of an Android gaming console because I wouldn't like the idea of playing games on my smartphone when I can have a more concentrated gaming experience on a console. If you are disagreeing with my views so far, just know that I am an old-fashioned person with old-fashioned thoughts.

I am most thankful for the OUYA in becoming a gaming outlet for Android. Granted the OUYA ran on "Jellybean," it still was just enough to have some fine Android gaming. Great news of all is that at least these games could be compatible on an outdated version of Android compared to today's Android build. For most people, people have used the OUYA mostly for playing emulated games and even watching some movies and such. Not as many used the OUYA for playing gaming titles designed for the OUYA. In fact, I think even the OUYA was meant to be rooted and even provided some resources on how to root the OUYA. For those of you familiar with iOS, "rooting" to Android users is the Android version of "jailbreaking."


Future Plans With my OUYA?

I am an unapologetic OUYA owner. I went to many lengths to eventually get an HDTV and get all kinds of other stuff to properly enjoy the OUYA experience. I even once wanted to go from the OUYA to the Mad Catz M.O.J.O. because I wanted a home Android gaming experience as well as a fairly decent Android device to handle various other tasks. I am going to keep my OUYA and play a lot of my old games. My dream would be to use my OUYA as a means of Android game development. That means I'll have to learn to sideload apps and make such apps able to have sideload going. The only real problem I've had was in making something that is compatible with the OUYA. When I made something in Godot Game Engine to test using on the OUYA, I got some message saying the game was incompatible with the OUYA. I will try to work on designing games to be run on the OUYA and maybe even hopefully make them available to more modern builds of Android. It also means I will need to make them compatible with the likes of smartphones, tablets, and even Android TV.


What I Would Tell OUYA and Razer?

I bought an OUYA as a Christmas gift for myself long ago. I didn't fall in love with the OUYA, but I was very satisfied with what the OUYA had to provide. Thank you for providing a mostly mainstream Android gaming experience. I was impressed even as my own gaming interests waned a bit.


Final Thoughts.

Well, you either love or loathe the OUYA. Regardless, it was a fine experience for what it offered. You didn't have to like the OUYA in any capacity. Despite this, the OUYA provided as great an experience as it could. Full credit to the OUYA team along with the likes of Julie Uhrman.

Thank you for the memories, OUYA.





Glad you could visit "John's Blog Space!" Thanks for coming! I hope you enjoyed this post. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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