Should One Start A Business Blog?

January 20th, 2014 by admin

abbAmong various marketing tools, blogging is the most powerful one, but only for those who know how to create the best content. Those who are wondering how to start a blog should answer many questions before making any further decisions.

The first thing one should think about is if he needs a blog. This requires some sort of commitment, and it is not enough to create a blog and leave it that way. Those who do not enjoy writing will never succeed, but there is also an alternative; creating an audio or video blog.

The next thing to consider is the audience one wants to attract. The target audience should use the Internet, read blogs, use search engines and social media, and if they do not belong in those groups, the blog will be a waste of time. Not every blog has the same purpose, so one needs to figure out if he wants to increase the search engine ratings or reach new customers, for instance. Even when the blog is finished, it should be promoted and one should know how to determine the blog success. Everyone can find out how to start a blog, but still, this is not for everyone, and only the passionate ones can expect some results.

How To Earn Money With Right Blog Posts?

Generally, blogs can be divided into two major groups – those that make money and those that do not. Some people are just passionate about particular topics, and they want to tell everyone about that. On the other hand, some use blogs as marketing strategies, and they want to learn how to start a blog in order to promote the product or service. In addition, there are different types of money-making posts, and here are the most profitable ones.

Product reviews may be the best idea, because if the person reads it, that means he already wants to buy a product, and he just needs to be convinced. People usually say that these reviews are the most secure way find out if a product is worth the money or not, so they trust them. How-to articles are another good idea because beginners in different areas usually need step-by-step instructions towards making or fixing something, just like someone needs to know how to start a blog. Even by following trending topics, one can find a perfect way to hit something that many people are interested for, and many social networks can help one find out what is actually “in” lately. The sales pages can work if one figures out the right word that can make a customer buy a products. Check out more tips on blog writing here.

IRS Tax Help For Resolving Tax Disputes

January 8th, 2014 by admin

ithrtdIRS tax help exists in order to assist the public in their tax returns or penalty issues. Filing a tax return is very essential to every individual who is earning from their employment or business. Though some people voluntarily file their taxes, it is no excuse for every citizen not to contribute or pay their taxes rightly. That is why the Internal Revenue System is giving penalties to those people with tax issues. If you are among those citizens who want to resolve their tax penalties, you may want to get IRS tax help from trusted professionals.

Tax help from the IRS is easy to obtain but you have to be careful on scams. If you cannot find all the answers to your questions on the IRS website, you can call their telephone hotline or visit for a personal assistance. Just make sure to take note on the important details so that you will be able to avoid tax disputes. The more you prolong the tax issues, the greater the consequences for it. Hence, always consider in finding solutions to your tax issues as soon as possible, in order to avoid potential problems. IRS tax help can be beneficial so take advantage on it.

What Employee Expenses Can Be Deductible?

Employees today may be in the best situation for the past couple of decades and mostly because their expenses may be deductible. However, many of them do not know how this all works, and that they can file for IRS tax reliefs with special benefits. The deduction of costs may be the best one of them, and here are some facts that can help in the entire process.

Those who use their own car for business purposes should pay attention to miles they cross, because this can end up in tax saving that are welcome anytime. Even expenses for business travels are deductible, so everyone should keep the receipt. Parking may be am everyday thing, but one can earn thanks to it, and for employees these expenses are deductible, as long as it is not about daily tools. Uniforms are something that every job requires, and if they are used for that purpose only and not as everyday wear, they can be deductible. Many employees do not pay attention to association tools, meals or entertainment, but they all can be a part of a deduction. Even though employees have to take care of some expenses from their own pocket, they may get that back. Even when filing for IRS tax relief they are most likely to be saved in the future.

Modify The Loan And Save On Taxes

Although paying taxes is a must, many people struggle with it, and they end up in enormous debts they cannot get rid of. That is why many try to find the most convenient way to lower taxes, and may them payable. It is still a better idea then immediately looking for an IRS tax relief, so here is how one can modify loans and get benefits from it.

In the past, the homeowners were in bad situation because they needed to pay high loans and taxes, so that was very hard to achieve. Nonetheless, times have changed and tax burden is not as serious as before, but only for those who understand how system works. Although those changes usually affect federal taxes, one thing to pay attention to is the timing of the mortgage changes, especially because they usually need months to be approved. There are some things people usually want to know, and that refers to cancellation of the debt. There are even some non-taxable cancellations, and that is a case with bankruptcy, insolvency and non-recourse loans. Although the IRS tax relief may offer some simpler solutions, many tend to agree to loan modification, and in this case, it is important to understand the terms before signing any documents.

Vitalsleep – The Mouthpiece Designed To Help You Stop Snoring

December 26th, 2013 by admin

mddssSnoring is more than just an uncomfortable sound, and many people take it for granted. This condition can be caused by various health changes, but it can also lead to many problems in the future. One of the best solutions for this problem may be Vitalsleep, the mouthpiece designed to stop snoring by managing the air passages. In order to understand the seriousness of this problem, it is vital to know how it can affect everyday activities.

Just one look into a snoring problem can show how snoring and stress are related and how they can lead to one other. Snoring is a condition that does not let the person have a normal sleep, and the lack of sleep usually leads to nervousness, anxiety and inability to function normally. On the other hand, different people have different ways of handling the stressful situations. In many cases, people tend to eat too much, which leads to weight gain, or they drink and smoke too much, which results in snoring. Therefore, it is important to clear the mind before going to bed, and to realize how important the healthy sleep is. In addition, it is always recommended to use the vitalsleep, and the good night sleep will be inevitable. If you want to know more about Vitalsleep device, you should visit this informative review website.

How Dangerous Is Lack Of Sleep To Your Health?

In today’s fast world, many people do not have time for quality sleep but it can leave serious consequences on them. On the other hand, some have snoring problems that cannot be solved with simple stop snoring mouthpiece, so they just keep living unhealthy life for years.

Many studies have shown that if the body does not get enough rest, there is a higher risk for a person to end up dead, since they can develop the cardiovascular diseases. In addition, the lack of sleep can lead to depression; it can disturb the learning process, and prevent the person to react normally in some situations. Many people are not aware that if they do not sleep enough, their skin can lose elasticity, they can get puffy eyes, and dark circles under the eyes. Regular and schedules lifestyle can be more than important, because people who suffer from insomnia or do not have time to sleep also do not have a schedule when it comes to eating, so they tend to gain weight easily. Moreover, this problem leads to lower libido, and people are losing the interest in sex. Those who suffer from any kind of sleeping disorder should consult the doctor and see if the special pillow, stop snoring mouthpiece or medication can help.

Video Game History: Lookin’ Good, Despite The Graphics

August 5th, 2013 by admin

vghOnce upon a time, disco ruled the airwaves, Rocky packed unmatched movie theater punch, and the Atari Corporation dominated the family room. The year was 1976 and Atari had just released the Atari 2600 home video game console, a four-bit system that promised to bring the arcade experience to the home. Riding the strength of hit titles such as Asteroids and Space Invaders, Atari dominated the video game market, moving millions of 2600 units in its heady heyday.

In 1996, one finds a vastly different video game console landscape. Atari is gone, having merged with disk drive manufacturer JTS Corporation in July 1996, and today’s video game console manufacturers enjoy technological advances that far surpass the Atari machines of the 1970s and including, with some exceptions, the use of CD-ROM as a game publishing medium. Moreover, many of todays companies are beginning to move beyond the standalone console to surf the wave of the World Wide Web.

Today, video game consoles manufactured by Nintendo Company Ltd., Sega Enterprises Ltd., and Sony Corporation dominate an interactive entertainment market that is valued at more than $12 billion worldwide. According to the Interactive Digital Software Association, the interactive entertainment/edutainment software industry alone will generate approximately $7.7 billion in sales in 1996, including an estimated $4.4 billion in retail sales and $3.3 billion in indirect sales. Moreover, this interactive entertainment industry of today employs more than 90,000 people, with a growth rate of 26 percent annually.

THE BIG THREE:

CONSOLE GAMING AND BEYOND

There’s never a shortage of hype about the “next generation” in video game systems. Every manufacturer who enters the video game marketplace promises game systems that are faster, better, and cheaper than today’s consoles — offering dramatic special effects and greater realism and interactivity. It’s a constant, cut-throat format war. But where does the hype leave off and reality begin? The reality is that the video game console market has matured to the point where three companies — Nintendo, Sega, and Sony — vie for market share in the under-$200 console business and all with their sights set on cyberspace.

Nintendo CA, the Non-CD

On September 29, 1996, Nintendo Corporation of America Inc. made its leap from 16-bit technology to 64-bit technology, with the U.S. launch of the Nintendo 64 home video game system. Within three days after the U.S. launch, Nintendo reported its entire 350,000-unit shipment of players sold out at retail stores. Nintendo A represents a dramatic improvement over the 16-bit Super NES both in graphic resolution and processing power: the Nintendo 64 system features a 64-bit reduced instruction set computer (RISCI) CPU with a clock speed of 93.75MHz; 32-bit RGBA pixel color frame buffer support; 21-bit color video output; and a co-processor that includes a sound and graphics processor and a pixel drawing processor.

In terms of broadening its efforts beyond the console, Nintendo is rarely the first to do anything. The company’s philosophy is to let others blaze the trail. “We’ll come down and pave it later,” says Nintendo software engineering manager Jim Merrick. However, while Nintendo has done some development work in the area of online applications, its core business is gaming. We don’t want to do a Web browser unless it improves the gaming experience. We want to stick to what we know,” Merrick says.

Sega, First to CD, Links to Saturn

Of the three dominant console manufacturers, Sega has expanded the furthest beyond its core video game market. In addition to releasing its next-generation, CD-ROM-based Saturn console, the company also has released a Saturn-based Internet browser package called NetLink. Further, the company continues to support the Sega Channel and is making plans to develop interactive entertainment theme parks.

On the console side, the 32-bit Saturn features two SH2 32-bit RISC processors which provide the main processing engine for the Saturn; two graphics processors derived from Sega’s advanced arcade systems – VDP1 and VDP2 (Video Digital Processor); and the Sega Custom Sound Processor (SCSP) from Yamaha, which includes a 128-step digital signal processor (DSP) and provides up to 32 voices and CD-quality audio.

While Sega has thrown most of its support behind its Sega Saturn console, the company still remains committed to the more than 18 million owners of the Genesis cartridge-based system in the United States, having released more than 12 new titles for the system in 1996. However, the majority of games being developed by Sega and its third-party developers will also be published for the Sega Saturn. Sega reports that as of September 1996, the installed base of Saturn units is around 900,000. The company projects this figure to rise to around 1.5 million by the end of 1996.

As for moving beyond the console, for Sega, it all begins with the arcade experience. The company’s base business is to create compelling content for the arcade, then move this content onto the console and subsequently into other entertainment channels. For example, the company recently entered into a strategic partnership with Dreamworks SKG to form a location-based entertainment company called Gameworks. In December 1994, Sega, in a joint venture with Time Warner and TCI, launched the Sega Channel, a nationwide subscription-based cable network which offers Sega Genesis owners access to video games for play and preview. Sega Channel subscribers use a special cartridge adapter that fits into the Genesis machine to download video games directly onto CD-ROM. The game remains active on the machine until it is shut off.

Introduced on October 31, 1996 with a $199 list price, the NetLink is a 28.8 modem that fits into the cartridge slot of the Saturn. Included with the modem is CD-based HTML 2.0-compatible Web browser software developed specifically for the NTSC TV display standard. With the Saturn game controller and an on-screen keyboard, the user can browse the Web, receive email, and, eventually, participate in multiplayer, online gaming. The onscreen keyboard also incorporates predetermined grouped letters, such as “http://” and “.com, that can be accessed and activated using the Sega Saturn control pad a mouse, or a keyboard. Concentric Network Corporation will serve as Internet access provider for NetLink, offering one month of free service for new users; subsequent standard monthly charges will start at $19.95 for basic service. Sega plans to implement online gaming during the first quarter of 1997.

Sony PlayStation is CD

Sony Interactive Entertainment entered the video game console market in 1995 as a low-cost hardware manufacturer. In September 1995, the company launched its PlayStation video game console, the first 32-bit CD-ROM-based system to hit the streets. As of October 1996, the company reports that, in just one year in the video game hardware business, worldwide shipments of the PlayStation game console have topped 7.2 million units (3.5 million, Japan; 2.1 million, North America; and 1.6 million, Europe). Sony also reports that more than 15 of its first- and third-party titles have sold in excess of a quarter of a million units in North America.

As the installed base of PlayStation consoles continues to grow, Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), which handles software publishing and marketing of PlayStation products in the United States, is exploring ways to broaden its audience reach. For example, in a venture with The Lightspan Partnership, SCEA plans to develop educational PlayStation software that it will sell to school systems — eventually allowing students to borrow a game console and software library for home study/play.

On the Internet front, while Sony acknowledges that online gaming is an important area that the company eventuauy plans to explore, sources within SCEA say that the company is happy with the way the PlayStation console is positioned and has no immediate plans to release any type of modem add-on device to the public. The same sources at Sony add that while the company may develop “some sort of online device” for the PlayStation down the road, these plans remain in research and development.

THE CARTRIDGE/CD DEBATE: SPEED

VS. STORAGE AND BEYOND

The decision for a video game console manufacturer to commit to a CD-based game console instead of staying with a cartridge-based system goes beyond the economics of the media. While cartridges traditionally are more expensive to manufacture than CDs, market strategy and style of game play also factor into the cartridge/CD decision.

While its competitors Sega and Sony have introduced CD-ROM-based game consoles, according to Nintendo’s Merrick, Nintendo has remained cartridge-based for two main reasons: economics and performance. Merrick says, “We’re very sensitive to the cost of the console. We could get an eight-speed CD-ROM mechanism in the unit, but in the under-$200 console market, it would be hard to pull that off.”

Merrick also maintains that because the Nintendo 64 system handles so much graphical data at a high data transfer rate (such as 3D geometry and texture information), the company wanted to have the faster access afforded by the cartridge. “That’s not to say we don’t want more storage at a lower cost,” he adds, while quickly pointing out that many of the CD-based console games don’t really use all 650MB of the CD-ROM. The bottom line for Nintendo, according to Merrick, is to appeal to its hard-core game playing market. “Full-motion video demos really well on a CD-ROM, but once you get into the software, as a gamer, you’re thinking `let’s get on with the game,’” says Merrick. He stresses that one of the upsides of the cartridge is the absence of any load time. “Once you pop the cartridge into the machine, you’re into the game.”

hdfdPresently, Nintendo is developing a new disk drive system that was first previewed in November 1996 in Japan. According to Merrick, “We are looking for a drive that features a much higher data transfer rate than CD mechanisms can offer at their current pricing.” As a result, Nintendo is exploring a disk drive mechanism similar to the high-density floppy drive found in a Syquest or Iomega zip drive. This type of drive would give the company a high transfer rate of about 980KB and a sub-150ms access time. If and when released, the new drive will fit into an expansion slot located underneath the Nintendo 64 player.

Sega’s heritage as an arcade business that ports its top arcade titles to the home console is the main reason that the company upgraded its cartridge-based Genesis machine to the CD-ROM-based Saturn. In order to transfer faithfully the size and scope of arcade games such as Virtua Fighter and Daytona, we really needed the storage capacity of the CD-ROM,” says Ted Hoff, vice president of sales and marketing at Sega. The company also wanted to provide Red Book audio and cinematic film-quality graphics.

Hoff believes that the only thing sacrificed with a CD-ROM is the “minimal” load factor, which, the company argues, is something that can be overcome through effective design. “We are finding more and more ways to mask the load factor,” Hoff says. Sega currently is exploring such techniques as running an animated “featurette” or playing an audio track during the loading process. As Hoff points out, “We are working out ways to overlay or leapfrog the loading time.”

Unlike Sega, Sony has no heritage in the video game console or arcade business. For Sony, the choice between introducing a cartridge or CD-based machine came down to graphics quality and cost. Spokespeople at Sony maintain that in order to arrive at a more “true” 3D environment, the enhanced memory storage afforded by a CD-based system is critical. Further, by going the CD route, Sony, like Sega, believes it has a video game console on the market that is more attractive to publishers. “They can manufacture the appropriate amount of software without taking a tremendous inventory risk associated with the cartridge business,” says Andrew House, vice president of marketing at SCEA.

How Exactly Do Graphics Cards Really Work?

July 28th, 2013 by admin

hegrwIn the setup phase, the triangle vertex data streams (x, y, z, color, etc.) are organized for presentation to the rendering engine. Triangles are sorted, culled, and clipped, and edge slopes are calculated for input into the raster engine. Subpixel corrections are needed to avoid anomalies such as poke-throughs and frayed edges. Converting from the floating-point “software” domain to the fixed-point “hardware” domain also is necessary. Doing all this in the host processor burns a lot of CPU cycles.

Finally, in the rasterisation phase, triangles are shaded, sorted, texture mapped, blended, and mapped to the display. Antialiasing and dithering functions are applied to help correct for a number of different artifacts, such as those seen on near-horizontal edges. Quality is not necessarily guaranteed here – some VGCs use simpler scanning techniques which can, for example, result in bleed-through along triangle boundaries.

System Performance

Let’s take a look at how three contemporary systems perform full 3D-geometry lighting-model simulations using fixed 10-pixel triangles. They run 3D software on a 100-MHz Pentium processor with a 2D Windows accelerator, a 3D VGC with 30-Mpixel/s performance, and a hardware-assisted 3D VGC [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED].

For small numbers of triangles, the performance is dominated by system copy calls. They occur most often in the case of the software 3D system (which composes the picture in system memory). The 3D VGC with setup shows lower frame rates due to a double-buffer approach synchronized to the monitor frequency. Above a rate of 500 triangles/s, the rapid falloff in performance of the 3D VGC demonstrates the need for hardware assist. At 10,000 triangles/frame, the 3D hardware is almost irrelevant, and the system is limited by the CPU’s geometry and lighting performance.

What does this all mean in practice? Most 3D games available today use about 1000 to 2000 rendered triangles/frame, from a total of about 5000, corresponding in a depth complexity of about three. Both software 3D and 3D-VGC systems struggle to reach 20 frames/s in this scenario, though having hardware setup helps a lot ([ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED], again). Even with rich texturing, 1000 to 2000 triangles for the scene or subject doesn’t allow for a very realistic game. The next generation of 1-million-triangles/s games will require scene complexities of 10,000 triangles and beyond. In a typical scene breakdown, the larger triangles represent the greatest area. With rich texture mapping, the larger triangles are essential to the gaming experience. However, the small triangles are essential for realistic details.

Current software and 3D-VGC systems will be completely CPU bound at a few frames per second for this scene complexity, well below the level of 30 frames/s required for interactivity. Using a faster CPU, such as a 200 MHz Pentium II, will raise the performance level by a factor of about three, but the 8 frame/s performance is still too low.

Handling Textures

Sooner or later, all textures have to travel from system memory to the VGC. Today, those bandwidths are typically in the tens of megabytes, and are predicted to double each year. The Advanced Graphics Port (AGP) increases available bandwidths from 266 Mbyte/s for 1X mode (twice the rate of the PCI bus), to 1 Gbyte/s for 4X mode. But increased bus bandwidth is not enough. As required screen resolutions increase above 800 by 600 pixels and realism demands more sophisticated techniques such as trilinear texture filtering and antialiasing, it will be easy to exceed even the 4X AGP bus bandwidth if full texture mip-maps are stored in system memory.

Fortunately, it’s not necessary to store and transmit full-texture mip-maps. Compression factors of 10:1 or better are achievable with minimal texture degradation [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 2 OMITTED]. Compressed textures are stored in system memory transparent to the application, and are transmitted compressed to the VGC which decompresses them on the fly as needed.

agpScatter-gather PCI/AGP bus mastering is the next essential feature. It has the potential to double system performance. The VGC’s own Memory Management Unit (MMU) can autonomously fetch texture maps from the system memory without interrupting the CPU to provide scattered addresses of data blocks.

Advanced systems achieve a further reduction in band width by building a texture cache into the VGC, and by deferring texturing until clipping and visability are performed. Other key features to look for are perspective-correct texture mapping and the ability to handle generated and video textures.

Although texture compression allows next-generation games to run without saturating PCI-bus bandwidths, there’s still a need for enhancements suchy as geometry- and lighting-acceleration hardware. Microprocessor performance is not increasing fast enough and, until 1999, the best we can expect is a 2X improvement in the CPU’s floating-point performance. It’s reasonable to assume that this improvement will be absorbed by the requirements of 3D applications. Hardware geometry and lighting also helps minimize the bus-bandwidth requirement.

In the meantime, overall system performance can be improved by implementing some hardware-based software techniques.

2D Can’t Cut It

In a sense, the fastest way to render an object is not to have to render it. To squeeze the maximum performance from a limited 2D system, independent software vendors (ISVs) have long exploited techniques like sprites, level-of-detail (LOD), 3D layering, and affine transforms. Sprites allow relatively complex, active objects to be stored as bitmaps and superimposed on a scene. However, as we become accustomed to more sophisticated games, conventional 2D sprites often look disconnected and unrealistic.

With LOD filtering, ISVs don’t bother to render more distant objects. It’s a sensible compromise because the number of objects within the field of view increases rapidly with distance. However, it often leads to the disturbing effect of trees, buildings, and other objects suddenly popping up out of nowhere.

Use of 3D layering allows for a more efficient exploitation of system resources. Objects are grouped according to their distance from the viewer. Background objects like mountains and clouds change very slowly and require infrequent updating. Alternatively, foreground objects need frequent rendering. Combined with an affine warping capability (which can be described as transformations like stretching and skewing), 3D scene updates can be even less frequent. For example, an approaching midground group of buildings, can be slowly zoomed without rendering, and only needs rerendering when the perspective changes by more than a certain amount and/or new surfaces become visible.

Because sprites, 3D layering, and affine warping are all well suited to being handled in hardware, these features will soon appear in the next generation of advanced 3D VGCs. The Talisman initiative from Microsoft represents a multimedia reference platform that incorporates other advanced architectural concepts. These include chunking to avoid frame-buffer memory and minimize bus bandwidth, as well as a range of other multimedia functions such as DVD and video-conferencing.

The other main function of the 3D VGC is the bus-mastered handling of video I/O. During the last few years, video has become an increasingly important feature in the mainstream PC market. Desktop video-editing has been a niche application for years. On business platforms, the long-predicted “killer-application” is video-conferencing. In an intriguing example where games and video merge, a captured video of the game player is inserted into the game in which he or she becomes, quite literally, a leading character in the game.

The underlying problem behind most PC-based video capabilities relates to the differing environments of the PC and the television. For historic reasons, PAL/NTSC TVs use an interlaced scanning system at 50 or 60 half-fields/s with 480 or 512 lines/field. PC monitors typically operate in excess of 75 noninterlaced fields/s with 600 or more lines/field. When analog video is imported into the PC, a number of artifacts must be corrected. Similarly, a PC monitor outputting a PAL/NTSC signal runs into the same problem but in reverse.

Video Deinterlacing

When importing DVD or video data, the simplest method to produce a full picture is to merge or weave two successive odd and even half fields. This technique maintains the picture’s maximum detail provided there’s no motion. But even the slightest object movement causes a disturbing feathering artifact [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 3 OMITTED].

The conventional line-doubling solution discards the even fields and repeats each line in the odd field. This way solves the feathering effect, but at the cost of lower vertical resolution. Interpolation helps, but the missing clarity is especially noticeable with (near) static pictures. The best approach, found on some VGCs, is to combine both solutions so that resolution is only lost when needed to correct for motion artifacts.

TV Output

Many users will use a large-screen TV as a PC display for cost reasons, more exciting gaming experiences, or for presentation purposes. Making video information that was specifically generated for the PC look good on a TV presents new challenges to both PC and application designers.

A three-line flicker filter is the VGC’s most essential TV-out feature. To maintain the proper standards, we must correct for the 25 or 30 Hz flickering of (near) horizontal edges. Good horizontal and vertical upscaling (with interpolative filtering) of video data is mandatory. It’s also important to correct for the TV’s over-scanning, which may be suitable for a movie, but disastrous when the lost information is a menu item or scroll bar.

The ability to compose the TV picture independent of the PC monitor can be equally important in making sure the right information is sent to the TV. For example, in a home-movie editing application, the TV output might only be a window on the PC monitor, while on a VCR it will appear as a full-screen image.

Critical performance Issues

The consumer PC must be equipped for the next generation of 3D games, which will soon be rendering scenes at rates of 1 million triangles/s. The CPU and VGC need to offer a much better balanced system for handling the critical performance demands of the 3D pipeline. In the near term, VGCs offering features like scatter-gather bus mastering, texture compression and caching, 3D layering, and off-line warping off-load the CPU and dramatically enhance system performance.

Most designers agree that full-triangle setup belongs in the VGC, although there’s some division of opinion on whether geometry and lighting processing belongs in the CPU or the VGC. Hardware accelerations for geometry and lighting aim to enhance the performance of today’s CPU-bound systems. Designers need to trade off the silicon investment in the CPU against that in the multimedia/VGC subsystem on the basis of the relative importance of the various applications.

Get The Gizmo, Man, Before Things Get Crazy

July 20th, 2013 by admin

Gizmo Gypsies is offering an interactive-adventure-story-filled CDROM and DVD called “The Little Wizard.” It’s ideal for anyone looking for an educational, yet entertaining option to reading a book. And, it’s a fun way to introduce your child to the computer.

3dmDeveloped by an expert team of conceptual artists, musicians, animators, 3D modeling and interactive game developers, and programmers, “The Little Wizard,” is targeted at children ages three to eight. Upon entering into the world of the Little Wizard, you and your child are greeted with richly detailed illustrations and brightly colored graphics. You join along as he and his forest friends journey to strange and mystical lands such as wild-and-crazy Bugville, Slo-Mo Junction, and nutty Normal Town in search of someone who may have special powers like his own.

A number of games interspersed throughout the series of adventure stories allow your child to build skills such as pattern recognition, basic math, construction, and color mixing. In the Cave Game, for example, the child is asked to match colors and solve basic math problems. The Eartail Forest game calls on your child to use the mouse and keyboard to help the Little Wizard create music or add sounds. In Slo-Mo Junction, the child follows a blueprint to build different things with blocks. Other games found in the Little Wizard adventure stories include The Snoring Game and The Snoozing Juice Bar.

“The Little Wizard” uses advanced technologies like random embedded animation, and lip-synched character voices to totally immerse the child in the adventure stories. Interactive music and 3D characters add to this experience. And, with the ability to depict simultaneous multiple events, “The Little Wizard’s” cast of characters are able to react not only to the child, but to the surroundings as well.

“The Little Wizard” CD-ROM/DVD can be utilized in an assortment of different ways. Children can, for example, either have the story read to them, read it on their own, or have it read to them scene by scene. In these ways, they can interact with each scene. They also have the ability to review any one of 22 scenes, or fast-forward to any one of the scenes by using a special Pick-A-Scene option.

A special start/stop narration feature allows the child to interrupt the story or click on text so that sequences of words can be read back. In addition, children have access to special tools to create and listen to music as they interact with the CD-ROM.

While this is certainly not the first interactive animated story on the market for children, it is unique in that it offers a true hands-on multidimensional learning capability that evolves with the child. This is possible thanks to a built-in update feature that uses the World Wide Web to access and load the latest story updates.

Such updated information might include the introduction of new characters, more music, and the addition of greater complexities to the games. As a result, once the child masters certain skills, he or she can be immediately introduced to new situation and more difficult game levels that will again challenge them to learn something new. And, for the parents reading along with their children this means no more getting bored seeing the same thing repeated over and over again.

“The Little Wizard” CD-ROM is priced at $29.95, and is now available at a variety of retail stores. It also can be purchased via the company’s web site listed below.

How Cereal And Video Games Got Together To Make Sales

July 10th, 2013 by admin

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The “Breakfast and Blue Jeans–better together” promo shows the wide accessibility of Old Navy’s offbeat lifestyle position. The retailer’s name will be on the front of 3 million cereal boxes, and the entire back panel will advertise the promo, which offers consumers $5 off Old Navy purchases of $25 or more. In true Old Navy ad style, the panel contains the coupon and a shot of its jeans, with campy graphic bursts highlighting product features through nutritional-type boasts, such as “fortified with six sturdy rivets” and “good for you.” The Old Navy logo and slogan, “Shopping is fun again,” runs below.

A side panel announces a sweepstakes. For the grand prize, an Old Navy truck will bring jeans, sweatshirts, caps and cereal to up to 2,000 students at the winner’s school. TV spots by General Mills agency Campbell Mithun Esty, Minneapolis, will carry “Breakfast and Blue Jeans” tags. Cinnamon Grahams, an extension of Golden Grahams, is budgeted for a $16-20 million launch.

In turn, Cinnamon Grahams gets a presence in Old Navy stores. All locations–237 in total–will feature posters, samples and cereal boxes. Key stores, like the New York flagship, could get rotating oversized cereal boxes and window displays. One showing a mannequin family at the breakfast table is being considered.

Richard Crisman, Old Navy’s vp-marketing, said General Mills liked Old Navy’s broad target; the store’s hyper-friendly environment and low prices attract a wide range of shoppers. “They wanted to launch it in a place other than traditional supermarkets,” Crisman said, “and Old Navy keeps coming up as one of the most popular brands with kids.”

As for Old Navy, “[The alliance] is very appropriate because we have a lot of flexibility,” Crisman said. “Whether that be a cereal box or an Indy race car,” which the brand sponsors.

“Getting on supermarket shelves is an apparel marketer’s dream,” said Alan Millstein, editor of the Fashion Network Report. “It’s even better than Calvin Klein putting ads on popcorn bags at movie theaters. Somebody had their thinking cap on. They’ll get great exposure.”

HOLD THAT TIGER

Also, starting this month, Mills links with Tiger to help whip up consumer interest in its new handheld game and continue the toy store run of phenomenal Giga Pets product.

Tiger is offering $10 back on its new Game.com, a competitor to Nintendo’s Gameboy, on 12 million packages of Frosted Cheerios, HoneyNut Cheerios and Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs starting later this month and running through November. The on-pack offer will be supported by $2 million-plus in TV media and a 48 million-circulation FSI. Also on-pack are instant-win games.

Game.com, Tiger’s first entry into the cartridge-based game business, also gets a boost through a sponsorship of MTV’s Rock and Jock Basketball tourney airing later this fail, with special graphics inserting Game.com into the show. The $69.95 Game.com, which has a calculator, organizer, calendar and other features built in, is targeted at demos beyond the hard-core gamer. One option sets up Internet and email access.

Tiger also plans upwards of $3 million in its own media for Game.com on the way to outpacing its $43.8 million ad spending in ’96 by at least $6 million. Agency is Posnick & Kolker, New York.

A separate Mills promo, starting this week and running through December, puts a self-liquidating offer for Giga Pets on 15 million boxes of Frosted Cheerios, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Chex, Golden Grahams and Reese’s Puff Clusters. More than $2 million in TV media will support. It comes on the heels of KFC and Nabisco links with the pocket virtual pets.

Fitness Tips To Keep You From Blobbing Out

July 1st, 2013 by admin

ftsWho were the first Frisbee throwers? The ninja, of course. (Though if you tried to catch one of their “Frisbees” you might end up, Road Warrior–style, picking your fingertips off the ground.) Students at Ron Blackwood’s dojo in Orange, California, still train with shuriken, or throwing stars, even though, as Blackwood says, “they’re illegal as all get-out here in California.” The point is, once you’ve mastered the art of throwing the bladed shuriken, almost anything can become a weapon. “I’m sitting here looking at a coaster,” Blackwood says “That could he a shuriken A tin-can lid, a saucer, a CD–those could be shurikerz.”

A Frisbee-that could be a shuriker.

To strengthen and enhance the flexibility of their wrists–the better to throw at you with, my dear–Blackwood’s students do sets of pushups on their fists or their fingertips.

The throw itself marshals the principles of taijuisu, which literally means “body art” and practically means that every ounce of your weight and strength will be put into every punch, every throw. If throwing with your right hand, stand with your rightfoot pointed directly at your target, your knees bent, and your leftfoot behind you, pointed backward at a 45-degree angle. Start with your weight on you rear foot, your hand holding the Frisbee up near your left armpit. Then shift your weight to your right foot, moving your entire body forward and swiftly uncoiling your arm. “Imagine snapping a towel,” Blackwood says. “Imagine you’re taking your towel and throwing it out, but instead of pulling back at the end to the snap, just stop and release. Your index finger should be pointing at the precise point you want the shurike, to stick.”

Blackwood’s students practice throwing at a 24-inch-diameter slab of tree trunk nailed to the wall. Typically, half of them miss until Blackwood puts a small sticker in the center of the target. Then almost all of them sink their shuriken into the wood somewhere. “You need a focus,” he says. “Look at the bottom of the guy’s shirt and throw at that. So what if you’re 2 inches off!”

Clean Your Gutters

A good friend of ours suffered a fractured ankle when he fell off a ladder while cleaning his gutters. If only he,d known about the one-leg stance. It’s a tee kwon do technique designed to help black-belt students learn balance. Here’s how it works:

Stand on one leg, with your foot pointed straight ahead. Lift the other leg and bend it so the bottom of the foot is positioned directly in front of one other kneecap, without touching it. Black belts can hold this position indefinitely, while executing complex forms and elbow strikes. All you’ve got to do is hold the one-leg stance in front of the mirror while you brush your teeth. “It doesn’t have any extra time OUt of your day,” Moody says. “But doing it just that much will improve your balance tremendously”

Melt Your Love Handles

The classic recipe for trimming your abdominal beanbag is simple: Eat better, lose weight and strengthen your stomach muscles. If that fails, there’s liposuction or, if you’re too poor, loose-fitting sweatpants. But this tee kwon do exercise will help you by training the obliques, the muscles that run along the sides of your abdomen. Translation: No more love handles!

* Adopt a wide stance, feet double shoulder-width apart, with your knees bent. Envision an opponent lying on the ground under you and, using arch arm in succession, punch down and across your body toward your opposite foot. Your hips should rotate as you punch.

* When you punch, your first two knuckles should be leading the punch, so your arm twists inward as it descends. As you extend the punching arm forward, pull the opposite arm back for maximum hip rotation. Do three sets of 25 repetitions.

End-Back Pain

Lower-back pain is often caused by being weak in the midsection, not just in the back but in the front as well. Crunches work both sides of the midsection, strengthening the abdominals and safely stretching the lower-back muscles. At Moody’s gym, students do crunches with a tee kwon do twist: They punch the air at the top of each repetition.

“It’s a simple exercise,” Moody says. “Execute a textbook crunch: With your knees bent and feet on the floor, lift your shoulders and lower back off the mat, so your body is at no more than a 45-degree angle to the ground. At the top, either visualize a target over your knees or have a partner hold up a pillow, and punch three times, alternating arms. Don’t just flail, though. Take a full second for each punch, so that you’ve got to hold yourself up for three seconds on each crunch.”

Start with three sets of 10 crunches, and when you can handle that easily, add a few more punches at the top of each crunch. Ultimately, you should work toward completing l0 punches on each crunch, and 25 to 30 crunches per set. To work the obliques more, punch across your body.

Sneak Up on a Trout Stream

Five hundred dollars in fly-fishing gear and you still haven’t landed your first brookie? Maybe it’s not your presentation but your approach that needs work. Those native trout are easily spooked, especially by a clumsy galoot crashing through the brush. To sneak up on that running rivulet of mountain water, a man needs stealth.

Moody has a drill he puts his students through that might, admittedly, make you look a bit silly. What you do is balance a shoe on your head, and then you simply walk around the house. “This exercise forces you to be very careful about how you make each movement,” says Moody, a third-degree black belt. “It teaches you complete control over your body” Just the kind of stealth training that will allow even the clumsiest of fishermen to get an extra step on his prey.

If it seems too easy to you lengthen your stride. “The deeper your stance, the harder it is to keep your balance with a shoe on your head,” Moody says. And once that’s a breeze, start turning corners.

A few more pointers: Keep your body relaxed, particularly your upper body, and concentrate on using only the exact muscles needed to complete each step. “Once you can turn corners and he smooth about it, you should be able to precisely control how you move from step to step,” Moody says.

Oh, and before you start, we recommend checking the bottom of the shoe. It’s embarrassing enough walking around with a shoe on your head. It’s worse getting dog-do out of your hair.

Heighten Sexual Arousal

tsmWe’re not going to tell you that breaking cinder blocks with your head is going to turn your mate into a trembling sexual machine (although we’re sure there are some women out there who might like that). Instead, consider mastering the art of shiatsu massage, which has the magical quality of heightening arousal while nullifying anxiety

Shiatsu, like acupuncture and acupressure, focuses attention on “meridians,” the vectors that carry chi, or life energy, through the body. While acupressure stimulates specific points on those meridians, shiatsu works by massaging along the length of a meridian, heightening the energy coursing through your body. Although Holder teaches shiatsu for nonsexual situations to make people comfortable with their bodies, it can be a terrific slow Launch in sexual situations as well, the ultimate foreplay. “It creates a longer arousal period,” Holder says. “The idea is to really stimulate the body and prolong the event.”

You can pick up an acupressure chart–basically a map of the body’s meridians–in a bookstore to familiarize yourself wit best areas for massage. But a basic shiatsu massage would focus on the chest and the lower abdomen, the upper thigh and the area at the base of the buttocks, the soles of the feet and the spaces between the toes, and the five meridians that run down the back on each side of the spine. “Take your hands and place an index finger on each side of the spine,” says Holder. “Relax your hands and place your fingers down naturally–probably about an inch apart–and massage up and down from there. You’ll pick up the meridians.” The main thing is not to think. “We’re just trying to create stimulation in the body. If you’re thinking about it too much, your focus isn’t going to be on the other person’s body. Don’t make sex a job, make it fun.”

Psych Out the IRS Man

You’ve heard of hand-to-hand combat? In Karl Scott’s beginning karate classes at the Asian Martial Arts Shreio in Ann Arbor, Michigan, students learn eye-to-eye combat. “It’s called Tiger Eyes,” Scott says. “The whole idea is to unbalance your opponent psychologically.”

The goal is to overcome the social stigma against sustained, intense, unblinking eye contact, and thus disturb the person you’re staring at. Let’s say, for example, that the tax auditor is questioning whether the 17 cases of K-Y Jelly you boughs last year we really for business purposes. “What you do is Focus your eye contact like the eyes of a tiger into your opponent’s eyes,” says Scott. “If you’ve ever looked at a tiger–the way it focuses its eyes, especially when it’s about to go after prey–it’s pretty self-explanatory.” But since few of us have ever looked into the eyes of a coiled tiger, we’ll have to settle for what we’ve got. Your girlfriend’s cat, for example.

Next time the mangy thing comes around whining for you to fill the food bowl, engage it in a duel-to-the-death stare-down. “It takes incredible concentration to be able to hold that focused intensity for any length of time,” Scott says, “particularly once you graduate to the human level.”

Once you’ve mastered the Tiger Eye, it’s not something to use casually “It’s not really a socially acceptable way of interacting with people, because the whole idea is to destabilize and scare your opponent,” Scott says. “In a social situation or a business situation, where you’re negotiating things, you don’t necessarily want to do that, because people will say you’re weird.”

But if you’re dealing with the IRS, let’s Face it: Better weird than wiped out.