Absolver

I recently ran into the Absolver game trailer and I was immediately attracted to it.  Being a martial arts and PC gaming enthusiast, it was simply natural to like the game.

I’ve never played it, but have seen videos of it.  It is due to be released at the end of August 2017.  You can pre-order it on STEAM at a 10% discount.  I’ve never pre-ordered any PC game before.  This was the first for me.  In two weeks, I shall have access to it.

Here’s the funny thing.  Just a few days ago, I binged watch on Netflix the series “The Legend of Bruce Lee.”  After watching that I thought, why not try to apply Bruce Lee’s fighting mindset called Jeet Kun Do to this game.  Then I can start a clan of Absolver Jeet Kun Do practitioners in that virtual world.

I’ll soon see.  By the way, check out the Absolver official web site.

 

For decades, I’ve been tackling this question.  Note that I’m not a professional programmer, but have done some level of coding as a professional for testing purposes, and various programs just for fun as a hobby.  My programming experience goes back to when I was in high school where I was introduced to BASIC and Z80 machine programming.  Then in college, I learned FORTRAN.  When I worked on my masters, I learned ADA and C.If you’ve seen the evolution of computers, you can probably guess my rough age. Along the way, I also learned PASCAL and JAVA on my own.  A couple of years ago I started playing around with web technology which introduced me to HTML, CSS, PHP, and JAVASCRIPT.  I also messed around with PYTHON.

As you can see, I’ve dabbled with several languages, but never really became very proficient in any of them.  Today, I started to look back into this and have decided that I wanted to go back to learning JAVA.

Without realizing it, JAVA turned out to be the most popular programming language out there (see TIOBE Index for May 2017).  As of May 2017, JAVA sits at #1 getting a popularity rating of 14.639%.  Second is C at 7.002%, and thirs is C++ at 4.751.  As you can see, JAVA is way out in front in terms of language popularity.  See table below which I extracted from the reference link.

JAVA is most popular

JAVA is most popular (reference:  TIOBE Index for May 2017)

 

I believe the reasons are as follows:

  1. Apps in Android are developed using JAVA.
  2. JAVA is platform independent, meaning if you write code on one platform, say Windows, you can run it on another, like Mac OS, or Linux.
  3. JAVA is also the language used to develop apps embedded in various network devices (like Amazon’s Fire stick).
  4. Lastly, it is a general purpose language that is used in various industries, and if you are looking to get employed as a software developer/engineer, you’ll have a higher chance at landing one if you are good in JAVA.

If you are trying to figure out which language to learn, check into JAVA.

I’ve recently found many books out there, but they are so old.  I did find one the is a suitable one for beginners or someone trying to get a refresher on it.  It is Java Programming 24-Hour Trainer by Yakov Fain.  It is set up like a workbook with exercises at the end, and its contents cover all aspect of JAVA from being a desktop application to being a server solution.  I was published in 2015 which is pretty recent considering a lot of books out there on JAVA are over a decade old.

If you have any opinions about this, please comment below.

Today, Wednesday, 10 May 2017, I happen to see Amazon’s ad for the new Echo Show.  It really looks like something from a science fiction movie…except it isn’t.  If you watch the video, you’ll see what I mean.

Note that this will actually become available on 28 Jun 2017 for $229.  It’s actually not bad considering the original echo was introduced at a price of $199–no video, just audio.

I was really tempted to buy one, but I thought…”Do I really need one?”  I suppose right now I don’t, but maybe this will go on sale come black Friday in November.

If you buy one, please share with a comment below.  Let us know what you think.


May 2, 2017, Microsoft introduced their Google App for Education (GAFE) ecosystem killer–Windows 10S, Minecraft Edu, Insight, and Office 365 Teams.

Having seen how Microsoft missed the boat back in 2012 when GAFE in combination with inexpensive Chromebooks were on the verge of taking over the education market, I can honestly say that today’s announcement has put Microsoft ahead of Google in terms of their offerings–starting with Windows 10 S, on platforms with a base price of $189.

Nevertheless, Microsoft has a big challenge ahead of itself.  For the past 5 years, Google has grown its roots deep into the education market with the abundance of inexpensive Chromebook device alternatives.  That’s because many school districts in the US have adopted the Chromebook as their standard platform for assessment testing and web-based curricular programs.  At the district where I work, the number of Chromebook devices has skyrocketed to around 26,000 units with another 9,000 on order soon.  The teachers like them because they boot up in a matter of around 6 to 10 seconds compared to the older Windows-based laptops that would take around 30 seconds to 2 minutes to completely boot up.  Technicians like them because they are easy to re-image, and there isn’t much to fix.  Through Google’s management console, all these Chromebooks are easy to manage.

The solutions announced by Microsoft today has met and exceeded the capabilities of Google.  From what I see, the fact that Windows 10 S can boot up in 5 seconds is a major plus.  The base price of $189 is also a major plus.  Where they will beat google are in these areas:

  1. Availability of Minecraft.edu.
  2. Applications that are mostly non-internet dependent
  3. Ease of image deployment in small scale environment–through the use of a flash drive.
  4. Ease of device management in large scale through Insight
  5. Free Windows 10 S on genuine Windows Pro PCs
  6. Integration with next generation technology like 3D and augmented reality applications
Windows 10 S

Windows 10 S

All these are supposed to be available to schools this summer.  Unfortunately and realistically, it may be two to three years before they make deep inroads into schools that are already using Chromebooks.  This is assuming that they are able to maintain their technological edge.

What say you Google?

I was just watching some information about some advanced topics on Minecraft command blocks.  I saw a Youtube video where the item IDs where showing up as additional information in inventory tooltip.

I did some searching and all you have to do is press F3 and H at the same time.

In the senior white belt attendance card, there is a question the students need to learn–why do we take promotion tests?

The answer to this is pretty simple and is applicable to almost anything in life that involves tests.  Here’s the answer…

There are three (3) things to keep in mind regarding why we take promotion tests:

  1. To get better.  We get better because in preparing for a test, we practice–a lot.  This practice gives us more experience and lets us become better through repetition.
  2. To gain confidence.  When we test, we have to stand in front of our peers and an audience.  The fear of that and messing up is enough to really make you nervous; but with practice and focus, you will gain more confidence in front of others.
  3. Let a qualified judge determine if we get promoted.  Promotions in martial arts require that judges determine if you are proficient enough to take on the next rank.  If you pass, you will move on to the next belt and new challenges.

If you are up for the next promotion test, keep these three things in mind.

Background

I recently purchased a Seagate 1TB Gaming SSHD SATA 8GB NAND SATA 6Gb/s 2.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive (ST1000LM014) (FYI:  this is an Amazon affiliate link) in hopes to provide my wife’s old Gateway NV79 laptop a new lease on life.

Here’s some background:

  1. The existing drive was still functional and served as the root drive (drive C).
  2. It had a capacity of 500GB but was short on space due to the massive amount of photos my wife was saving on her existing desktop.
  3. These photos are priceless.  I can’t imagine losing these pictures as they are irreplaceable.

Here’s what I planned in order to get the new drive to take over without having to redo everything (from re-installing the operating system and re-installing all her existing applications):

  1. Do a backup of her profile, along with all her files, create a recovery image of the system, and create a system repair disk
  2. Remove the old disk drive, then install the new larger disk drive
  3. Boot of the recovery/repair disk and restore the system image
  4. Done

Backing Up User Profile/Create System Image/Create System Repair disk

Using Windows 7’s built-in backup and restore utility, I proceeded to do three things:

  1. Backup my wife’s user files
  2. Create a System Image
  3. Create a System Repair Disk

Backup My Wife’s User Files

Of utmost importance is to first ensure my wife’s priceless photographs are safe.  To do this, I purchased a Seagate Expansion 5TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STEB5000100) (FYI:  This is an Amazon.com affiliate link).  This should serve me well for storing file backups as well as the system image I will be creating in the next section.

To launch Windows 7 Backup and Restore utility, click START, then in the search field enter “backup and restore” and this will show the Backup and Restore utility.  Select it to open.  You should see this simple utility interface pop up:

Backup and Restore Utility

Backup and Restore Utility

Now click Set up backup and follow the prompts.  You should see a screen just like below.  In the image, you see arrows pointing to potential backup destinations.  In this particular example, my 5TB USB drive isn’t connected, but if it was, it would show up as another disk drive with over 4.5 TB of free space.  That was the drive I actually selected for my backup destination.

Target Backup Destination Drive

Target Backup Destination Drive

In general, you will want to select the target drive with sufficient space to take on large backups.  After you select the destination drive, click Next and follow the prompts.  At a certain point, you will have the opportunity to change any default settings, but in general, unless you really know what you are doing, you can leave default settings as they are.  Then invoke the backup now.  Depending how much data you have, it could take anywhere from several minutes to a few hours.  Mine took a few hours (around 3 hours I think).

Create a System Image

During the backup process, you will have the option to select to have a system image made.  Make sure to set that.  I did this to save myself a lot of time doing software and driver re-installs.  Believe me, it is worth it.

Note that I had problems creating a system image.  I figured that this was due to not having enough disk space left on the root drive (drive C) as my wife’s photos used up most of the disk drive space.  Having backed up the photos, I proceeded to delete all her photo folders.  This was a scary thing because at this point, I am putting my trust in Microsoft’s backup utility to save me should something go south with this process.  After doing this, I was able to build a system image.

Create a System Repair Disk

When the system finishes creating both the user file backups and the system image, it will prompt you about creating a system repair disk.  I opted to do this.  I readied my DVD-R disc; it takes one.

Remove Old Disk Drive and Install New One

At this point in time, I turned off the computer and removed the old disk drive and placed the new one.

Use System Repair Disk to Restore the Saved System Image

This is where the actual recovery process begins.  Before I using the system repair disk, I configured the system BIOS to seek the DVD drive first as the boot device, then pressed F10 to save and exit the BIOS setup. I placed my system repair disk in the DVD drive my Gateway NV79, then restarted the computer by simply turning it OFF then turning it ON.

The laptop began to boot from the DVD and determined that I will be doing an image restore.  At this point, I still had my 5TB external USB drive connected to the laptop.  After the utility gets started, you will opt to restore from an image.

It was at this point that I encountered the error that the system could not restore the image because the system repair disk says “No disk that can be used for recovering the system disk can be found.”  After seeing this, I thought perhaps I needed to match the partition configuration of the original drive, so I ran diskpart.exe and tried this.  It didn’t work.  After trying a few things that didn’t work, I finally gave in by doing a search on google.  I found the answer at answers.microsoft.com.  It turns out, all I needed to do on the disk drive was to run diskpart.exe, select the drive, and invoke CLEAR on it.

After I did this, the image restore process worked as it should have in the first place.

Everything that was on the original disk drive was restored, less the photos.

To fix this, I simply invoked the file/folder restore within the backup and restore utility and selected the photo folders to be restored.

Conclusion

What I thought was going to be a routine process turned out to be one heck of an effort.  What really screwed me up was Windows 7 image restore now working the way it should in the first place without having to execute the DISKPART utility’s CLEAR command on the new drive.

 

There have been many first person shooters that try to simulate the military experience like these console and PC gems:

  1. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
  2. Battlefied
  3. Counter-strike
  4. Call of Duty: Black Ops
  5. Call of Duty:  Modern Warfare

In these games, teams have no pre-designated functions or hierarchy .  The playing field is very small, and there really is no combined arms that is integrated well in the game.  The closest thing these games have to simulating the military experience is the chaotic way things happen in the game. These games are also characterized by very fast paced action where the person with the most hand and finger dexterity, as well as game experience, generally dominantes the game.  The best one I’ve seen that come close to a good military simulation is the free FPS created for the US Army called America’s Army.

None of these come close to ARMA 3.  What makes ARMA 3 especially unique and realistic in terms of the player’s experience are these two main things:

  • Modding community support (e.g. through Steam and Armaholics)
  • More mature military simulation gamers (in public games and in clans)

This trailer from Bohemia Interactive (maker and producer of the game) gives you a good taste for the game’s military immersion:

Below is a short gaming session so you can get a feel for the military immersion.  Warning:  the audio below has some 4 letter words sprinkled in there.  Just be aware.

It is very easy to put in several hours in one session.  The players in the game can talk to each other via the built in voice over IP communication or via chat.

I just joined a clan recently and I’m seeing more and more of this game’s potential–more than what the videos above show.  I may write more about this at a later time.

If you have any opinion about this game, please feel free to share.

Boy in sparing gear ready to spar

Sparring in Taekwondo

Some students love sparring and some don’t.  Regardless of which side of the aisle you’re on, sparring in martial arts serves an important purpose.

Before we get to what that is, it is important to know what we practice in the classroom so that you can have a better perspective into this subject matter.  In class, we learn many things.  Here are the core of what we learn:

  • Tenets of Tae Kwon Do:  courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit, and victory
  • Martial arts knowledge as it pertains to our style of the art
  • Breaking techniques:  a board breaking part of the curriculum to practice accuracy, balance, power, and speed using specified techniques
  • Step sparring:  a prearranged set of attack and defensive techniques which allows the student to discover and learn timing, distance, and technique execution in a safe way
  • Forms or Poomsae:  a set of combinations placed in a sequence creating a routine pattern; it promotes balance, power, combination technique execution accuracy, as well as a means to perpetuate technique knowledge commensurate with the students’ skill level
  • Self-Defense (for teens and adults):  students learn how to defend against certain types of common attacks
  • Free Sparring:  following a set of rules, students are allowed to free spar; students wear protective gear and are generally allowed to only hit a certain part of their protective torso, and occasionally for mature black belts, contact to certain parts of the head; in most cases, the former is where contact is allowed for safety reason.

Free sparring is the most unique in all of the physical activities above.  What makes it unique is unpredictability.  Compare that to breaking techniques, step sparring, forms, and self-defense.  In all of these activities, except free sparring, the situation is predetermined–no surprise.

Free sparring provides an ever changing situation, that is, your opponent is moving constantly whereas in other activities, the situation is pretty much static.  This isn’t to say that the other things don’t serve a purpose–the all do.  All aspects of our training provide a purpose.  However, this article is here to identify to the reader why sparring is important.

It is in free sparring that the student is able to put into practice everything they have learned in a more chaotic situation.  This is where the repetitive nature of practice comes into play.  The repetitive practice is what is infused into the students’ instincts.  In free sparring, things happen fast.  There is no time to think.  It is the students’ instincts that take over.  You see, when a student starts to think about what they are going to do in sparring, their reaction time slows down.  It is the instinctive student who has properly learned techniques who will triumph in a free sparring match.  It is the instinct that will help the student defend themselves should the need arise.

So you see, free sparring helps the students hone their defensive instincts.

If you have any thoughts about sparring and the ideas presented above, please feel free to share by commenting below.

 

XCOM 2 Custom Character

XCOM 2 Custom Character

XCOM 2 was recently released and is generating a lot of interest on the web.  The interest comes not from the mods produced for it, but from the ability of players to create their own custom pool of soldier recruits.  This seemingly small feature adds an interesting twist to the game.  Already various content providers have created their custom pool of recruits.  One such example is PC Gamer magazine with their best custom set of XCOM 2 characters.  Check out some celebrity names you should easily recognize.

To install the binary files, simply copy the downloaded binary and move them to C:\Users\yourLoginNameGoesHere\Documents\My Games\XCOM2\XComGame\CharacterPool\Importable.  From there, the custom recruits will become visible from XCOM 2’s Character Pool’s Import Character tab.  There you can open the pool, select the characters you want, then click the import button.

By the way, I created 4 characters of my own and was able to export them to a .bin file.  This file ends up in the same location as the binary files you can import.  Here’s a mission I played that included one the custom characters.

If you enjoy playing games of thinking strategy, you will like XCOM 2.  It is definitely challenging.  You can buy it on Amazon for just about $60.