synthroid journal articles

Blizzard enters the MOBA arena with Heroes of the Storm

MOBA’s have been around for some time and considering that one of the original MOBA’s was a mod off a Blizzard’s Warcraft 3 game it only makes sense that they eventually get More »

Mechwarrior Online Clan invasion finally arrives

Since December of 2013 MechWarrior online has been trying to entice players back into the game by offering packages for the Clan mechs. This June those that purchased those packs finally can More »

Hearthstone – the free card game from Blizzard

First off I’m not into those card games.  I never got into Magic the Gathering or anything similar so when my friends asked me to try out Hearthstone I was reluctant.  Turns More »

Is a Dual Band router worth it?

After increasing my Internet bandwidth I figured it was time to upgrade the router.  I did a little research on what was the best router out there and what were the best More »

Vapor store owner responds to controversy

It seems that the there are stories  in the news lately about towns wanted to ban e-cigarettes with the same level that traditional cigarettes are banned.  Others are worried that the new More »

Netflix increases rates by $1 for new customers

Netflix had warned last month that they were planning on raising their rates. Some current subscribers were worried that this would affect them as well but recently Netflix sent out emails explain More »

Wing Commander fans rejoice

It was the early 90’s that I first got a chance to see Wing Commander which came out on various platforms such as the PC, SNES, Amiga and others. I tried them More »

Call of Duty Player calls SWAT on opponent

  The Long Beach Police Department was involved in a two hour standoff.  Photo credit: Victor Alcorn, AP   A Call of Duty player got so upset that  Rafael Castillo was able to beat More »

 

MechWarrior Online debuts community warfare beta

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It’s the moment that many of the original founders of game MechWarrior Online has been waiting for.  PGI finally released what they are calling a beta of community warfare.  This community warfare allows planetary capture, adds the new dropship mode to the game and adds 2 new maps. The first thing you have to do is align yourself with a faction.  This can be as a temp contract such as a mercenary or become a loyalist and pledge pure loyalty to the faction you wish to join.  While you are doing small contracts you earn less loyalty points than if you commit to bigger contracts.  So far though loyalty points have no true meaning in the game but something we will see in phase 2 or 3 of community warfare.

 

I pulled up my Techgeekdad account to see if I could in fact join community warfare with an account that has pledged no money to the game.  Some folks say that community warfare is only mwo faction mapfor those dedicated players and not for the casuals.  So I’m expecting to have a bit of a challenge considering the game requires 4 mechs to drop with and this account only has a few heavies on it that I earned with Cbills.  Again I don’t play this account and spend most of my time on my main account so we should see if a new player could in fact play community warfare.  First thing I noticed is that I wasn’t pledged to a faction.   When going to the faction tab of the game it will prompt you for a faction.  I went ahead and signed a 7 day contract with house Steiner just to see what would happen.  After joining the faction I took a look at the star map to see what was there for me to join.  You don’t have to fight on a planet specifically for the faction that you pledged for.  You can earn other faction points by fighting on other planets.  For instance in my drop I went to a FRR planet that the clans had been taking over and participated in a counter attack match where our group was going to try to fight back for the planet.

mwopowergridEven though I didn’t have the 4 necessary mechs to participate in the fight I was able to use trial mechs.  There were about 8 trial mechs that I was able to choose from and the game initially choose two lights and two mediums for me.  I ended up switching them out to one light which was a Jenner, a medium Centurion and I picked two heavies a Cataphract and a Dragon.  I knew that dragon trial mech had some long range weapons on it such as 2 larger lasers and a gauss rifle.  From playing on my other account I knew that in order to attack the gates it was easier to pop the power grid with the large lasers than the medium that came on most mechs such as the Jenner.  I still came out first though with the Jenner to do a little scouting and taunting of the opponent.  The other interesting thing is the planet I decided to counterattack on was occupied by Clan Wolf which in battletech lore have better mechs, weapons and pilots.  In MechWarrior Online of course the clanners can equip more weaponry than their Inner Sphere counterparts but balanced in other methods such as extra heat and longer burns on lasers.

If you are the attacking force you must break through the gates by destroying the power grids that control the gates.  You then must push to an orbital cannon and destroy it.  Recently a mwo gate openchange was made were there are shield generators for the cannon.  You must destroy all three generators before attacking the cannon.  This change was made to prevent a group of lights racing in and speed capping everything.  The enemy will normally be on the other side of the gate taking shots at you to prevent you from opening the gate.  Once the gate is open you could rush in force and stomp the enemy.  Once you destroy an enemy mech he must respawn if he still has available mechs.  Just be sure to not be waiting on the drop off point as the drop ships do attack back and have been known to kill mechs attempting to get in quick hits on the enemy.  The defender has an easier job as they can either win by lasting 30 minutes without the cannon being destroyed or they can destroy all enemy mechs to end the match quicker. If your mech becomes disabled or weaponless you now have the option to eject from your mech so that you can grab your next available mech. If you run out of mechs then you get to go back into spectator mode to watch the match.

So now with this new mode it appears that MechWarrior Online has breathed some new life back into the game.  Some of the inactive players have been showing up to play with their teams and help capture a planet or two.  The forums have been fairly active too now that the faction warfare has excited some of the players.  The only downside I have seen in Community warfare is that I cannot join with a  group of friends to drop unless we are all in the same unit.  The best we can do is agree with which planet we will be on and queue up for the planet and hope for the best.  I’m hoping that in the future PGI will add an option to allow you to join with folks that are in the same faction to help organize the battles faster since some of the queues for planets can still last 10 or so minutes causing many to stay out of community warfare until a better matchmaking system is in place.  PGI has made some changes to let you know how many attackers and defenders on the planet but there’s not a way to tell how quickly you will be in a match if you join that planet.  Then again as PGI said this is beta and they did rush to get it out for the holidays.  I suspect in the next few weeks we will see some new fine tuning of the system.  Until then see you on the battlefield.

 

 

Blizzard enters the MOBA arena with Heroes of the Storm

MOBA’s have been around for some time and considering that one of the original MOBA’s was a mod off a Blizzard’s Warcraft 3 game it only makes sense that they eventually get into it.  I have played other MOBA games such as Heroes of Newerth, League of Legends and even DOTA 2.  Most are very similar with each other but Heroes of the Storm brings something unique to it and I find myself really enjoying it.

First off for those that aren’t aware of what MOBA is it’s a game normally played with 2 teams of 5 players each.  Some games have other modes with fewer players but all have the 5 man team mode.  Each team has a base and the eventual objective is to destroy that base.  In order to get to the base you must work your way past the defenses which are normally towers of some sort.  You will have little minions that follow a path and met up with the enemy minions.  You grind up those minions by killing them for XP.  As your character levels during the match you can upgrade your hero with new abilities or increase the power of their current abilities.  Some games you earn gold and purchase items to help boost your character even more.

Screenshot2015-01-03 15_06_40There are multiple different hero types that have different attributes.  In Heroes of the Storm you have Warriors, Assassins, Specialist and Support.  Within those types of characters you then have a break down of melee or ranged heroes.  So there can be a ranged assassin or a melee Assassin and same with supports and Specialist.  Your Warriors are normally your tanks that take the damage, stun the enemy and allow the other heroes to kill off the enemy heroes while your support buff and heal the team.  From my World of Warcraft days I lean more towards the healing roles or the specialist roles.  I normally avoid the Assassin roles and leave those to the more pro players as they are high DPS characters but also normally harder than most.

 

What makes Heroes of the Storm different than most of the other MOBA’s are several things.  For one there is no items to buy in game to buff up your hero.  Instead the game uses talents to modify your characters abilities.  In other MOBA’s the items can modify how your play your character such as making them more tank like with more health or some magic protection if there is a nasty magic damage dealer you want protection from or you can focus on more damage.  In Heroes of the Storm the talents fill this role.  Since there is no items there is no gold forScreenshot2015-01-03 22_38_01 killing the creeps.  I have to say I don’t miss that part since in other MOBA’s I would accidently kill a creep that a teammate felt they needed and I would get harassed since they felt they needed the gold for items more than my character since normally I play a support role and really don’t need gold other than to purchase wards.  In fact in other MOBA’s supports are pretty much stuck to lighting up the map for everyone to see.  Fortunately Heroes of the Storms does not have wards either but instead have Watch towers in which you can capture to see what’s going on in certain parts of the map and some heroes have talents and abilities that can show parts of the map as well.  The other thing that would create issues in other MOBA’s is that different characters would level up at different from their teammates.  In those MOBA’s you hope your strong carry’s level up fast and become very powerful and your supports normally suffer with low levels and get picked off easily by the enemy team.  You had to let your teammates farm the XP so they could level up quickly.  In Heroes of the Storm you level up as a team.  Since their is no kill steals the team can work together and level up together.  The downside some will see if that they can’t carry their team since they can’t level up or jungle as other MOBA’s allow them to do.

The other part that makes Heroes of the Storm different and probably the most important is that the maps have objectives.  Playing the objectives of the maps is what gives you the most chance of winning against the enemy team.  One map has you collecting coins to turn into a boss and when you hit the max he wants he’ll attack your enemy’s base with cannons doing the dirty work for you while you are safe.  Another map has something similar where you enter the mines and destroy undead and collect skulls.  There are 100 skulls and after they are all gone golems spawn and attack the enemy base and their power is based upon how many skulls were collected.  Your objective there is to obviously collect more skulls than the enemy so that your golem is more powerful.  There are two maps that also allow you to take control of a creature and control it and destroy the structures.  One has two shrines that you must control in order to seize control of a dragon knight while the other one you collect seeds by killing special creatures and once you collect 100 seeds your garden terror rises.

Heroes of the storm also introduced daily quests which is similar to their Hearthstone game.  Those daily quests help you earn in game gold which allows you to later purchase heroes.  You can also gain experience with a hero and open up more abilities for them.  By the time you hit level 4 on those heroes you have unlocked all of their talents and at level 5 you unlock more gold.  I’ve been making it a mission to hit level 5 on each character when they are free to play and have amassed enough to purchase a few heroes.  You can also buy the heroes for real money as well or by bundles that will include heroes and skins.  If your looking to start the MOBA style games then I think Heroes of the Storm will be a good starting game so you understand the mechanics of MOBA.  The game is still currently in Alpha and by invite only by Blizzard so good luck.

Screenshot2015-01-03 23_01_11

Parents turn in teen daughter to authorities after finding nude photos on phone

 

Parents from Dinwiddie County,  Virginia got a shock when they found nude photos on their 13 year old daughter’s phone and tablet.  They became suspicious of their daughter when a sibling had her voices in the bedroom around 4 am.
According to WTVR the parents became so worried about what they saw that the contacted the sheriff’s office to investigate.
The mother said she found sexual pictures, and conversations that was inappropriate for her age while looking through her phone and the tablet.
None of the pictures showed their daughter with someone but they became concerned that some of these pictures were being sent to older boys including one thought to be a high school senior whom was thought to be around 17 or 18.  The parents also state that there was a request of sex as well.
The parents claim that they turned in their daughter in order to protect her.  They felt that someone could possible try to find her after seeing the pictures.  She added that parents should have parental controls in place to prevent certain apps from being used.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Lisa Caruso said there are other options for the teen, not necessarily going through the court system. However, the older teens could face felony charges depending on their ages.

San Francisco airport uses technology to help the blind get around

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The San Francisco Airport made an announcement that they will implement a blue tooth beacon system that will help the blind and visually impaired navigate through the terminal using their phone.  The system will include 500 transmitters that will relay information back to the user such as gate information, ATM, information desks and even power outlets.  The system will also provide directory information through a different version of the app for those without visual impairment.

At first this system will work with iOS devices but others speculate that the system would soon move to android as well. While the beacon system was designed to provide point of interest information  primarily for people without visual disabilities it’s good to see the technology adapted for those with the disabilities.  Perhaps soon we can see this type of technology more wide-spread to improve the quality of life for others.

FTC: Tmobile made millions in crammed charges

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WASHINGTON (AP) – T-Mobile USA knowingly made hundreds of millions of dollars off its customers in potentially bogus charges, a federal regulator alleged Tuesday in a complaint likely to mar the reputation of a household name in wireless communications.

In its complaint filed in a federal court in Seattle, the Federal Trade Commission claimed that T-Mobile billed consumers for subscriptions to premium text services such as $10-per-month horoscopes that were never authorized by the account holder. The FTC alleges that T-Mobile collected as much as 40 percent of the charges, even after being alerted by other customers that the subscriptions were scams.

“It’s wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent,” said FTC Chair Edith Ramirez in a statement. “The FTC’s goal is to ensure that T-Mobile repays all its customers for these crammed charges.”

The Federal Communications Commission has launched a separate inquiry into T-Mobile’s billing practices, which could result in fines if it finds any wrongdoing.

The practice is often referred to as “cramming”: businesses stuff a customer’s bill with bogus charges associated with a third party. In this case, the FTC says T-Mobile should have realized that many of these premium text services were scams because of the high rate of customer complaints. In some cases, the FTC says, as many as 40 percent of customers demanded refunds in a single month on certain services.

The FTC said one way for consumers to try to prevent fraudulent charges is to ask their providers to block all third-party businesses from providing services on their phones.

T-Mobile did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, T-Mobile US, Inc., is a publicly traded company. According to its website, Deutsche Telekom AG maintains a 67 percent ownership in the company’s common stock.

Sprint Corp., the third-largest cellphone carrier, is in talks to buy T-Mobile US Inc., according to published reports. Analysts believe such a link-up would face stiff opposition from the same regulators who blocked AT&T from buying T-Mobile in 2011.

T-Mobile’s stock fell 10 cents to $33.52 in afternoon trading.

 

Mechwarrior Online Clan invasion finally arrives

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Since December of 2013 MechWarrior online has been trying to entice players back into the game by offering packages for the Clan mechs. This June those that purchased those packs finally can finally play those mechs. At first I wasn’t sure how well this sell would go since the packages started at $30 dollars and to get all 8 mechs you had to spend $240. They even had a golden mech that you could buy for $500 and claimed that the most loyal players would purchase those. It upset the player base pretty much which told the developer PGI that this was a blatant cash grab.

I waited to do this article for a few weeks after the clan mechs had come out for a few reasons.  First reason was since they were just released there would obviously be a few slip ups or issues which MechWarrior Online had when their servers could not handle the injection of the mechs into the players accounts when they first logged in.  In order to remedy this they turned on the public test servers to offload some of the players and later added a free mechbay and a day of premium time for those that played during a certain time period.  I think they handled that slip up rather well and think perhaps in the future they should load the mechs into the players accounts ahead of time during maintenance for the big push and then allow injections for microtrans afterwards.  It’s what they did for us in the beginning but they wanted to try out their new tool and it got them.

I also didn’t expect to see that many clan mechs at first and figured after many of the inner sphere pilots would face enough clan mechs then they would cry foul, claim the clan mechs were over powered and claim that PGI turned the game into pay to win. Which of course many did and I’ve noticed over the weeks that the amount of clan mechs on the field have increased.  This is good for a few reasons.  First it’s good for the game that means there is a cash injection the game probably really needs as some of the original backers were upset due to the lack of community warfare that we have been waiting on and claimed they would not spend any money until we get it.  Two I doubt we will see community warfare until there is a healthy balance of clan and inner sphere mechs so the more folks that are fielding clan mechs the sooner I believe the developers will start perhaps faction drops.  Players can do their own faction drops though now by utilizing the private match maker.

The real question though is the clan mechs that much better than the Inner Sphere mechs?  Well according to battletech lore they should be and in fact clans would bid against each other for the glory of combat and which ever group bid the least amount of forces to take the objective had the chance to prove it in combat.  Often times the Inner Sphere mechs outnumbered the clan mechs in combat yet would still loose the battle due to superior pilots, better mechs and weapons.  The clanners had an honor code though that they had to follow in combat and the Inner Sphere pilots eventually learned how to use that against them.

The developers of MechWarrior said it would be too difficult to enforce the honor code which is probably true but they also refused to balance clan verses inner sphere by numbers.  Instead to balance the clan mechs they actually nerfed many of their weapons and limited some of the mech customizations.   The clan ER PPC is supposed to do 15 points of damage vs the Inner Sphere version at 10 points.  To balance this the weapon will do 10 to the initial spot and 2 more to the sides and if there is no location to side the damage is a miss.  The clan ER Lasers have a really long range but have a longer burn time in order to do the full damage.  This means the clan mechs must be facing their target longer to do the full damage which exposes them to damage.

I mentioned they limited the customization of the mechs which were known in lore to be more customizable than the Inner Sphere mechs.  Currently the clans can not switch out the engines, change the armor type or internal structure type while an Inner Sphere mech can.  Clan mechs can however swap out which hard points are in the arms and torsos,  by swapping them with other variants of the same chassis. This gives them more flexibility in their firepower which is really what the clan mechs superiority is really about.  Most of the small clan mechs deal out as much damage as mechs much larger than them allowing them to take down heavier mechs than themselves.  As the developers have said in videos the clan mechs take more skill to pilot but in the hands of a good pilot they will be deadly.

When the clan mechs first launched I had no problems bringing down the superior mechs however each time I targeted one and saw the weapons loadout some of them were carrying my jaw would just drop.  I sure didn’t want to brawl one and many of them had ranged weapons that equaled or were better than mine.  I learned that clan mechs required hit and run tatics against them or hope that they didn’t return fire against you.  Some of their mechs were limited in turns such as their 100 ton Diashi/Dire Wolf and if you circled him and stayed to his side you could keep his deadly firepower off of you while you chipped away the weapons in his arms.  I piloted a 65 ton Jaggermech with 3 Autocannon 5’s which of course do 5 points of damage each pop plus 2 medium lasers which also do 5 points of damage and managed to take out the Dire wolfs and the timber wolfs which are many clan favorite mechs.  These timberwolf is a fast heavy mech with a lot of firepower and I was chased by a few but if you can get them distracted and catch them off guard you can take them out.

I’ve noticed this week though the clan pilots are getting better and there is many more clan mechs.  I’m actually starting to die earlier in the match so I can watch some of my team mates play in a clan mech and their cockpits have been done very nice, their weapons sound intimidating and do some serious damage.  I won’t buy a clan mech package myself since I prefer to play as an Inner Sphere pilot and like the challenge of facing a superior opponent.  I’m just hoping that soon the developers put in faction drops so we can do some Inner Sphere versus Clan matches.  Until then I’ll have to avoid the urge of firing upon my teammate with his Timberwolf.

Hearthstone – the free card game from Blizzard

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First off I’m not into those card games.  I never got into Magic the Gathering or anything similar so when my friends asked me to try out Hearthstone I was reluctant.  Turns out the game had a tutor system that teaches you how to play and I was already familiar with the characters from my days of playing World of Warcraft so I figured I would try it.

The tutor system tells a short story as you play as your first character.  They show you how you later earn more cards as your character levels up.  You start off with only one character but after the story line is done you can challenge a computer controlled character or a random player.  Each time you beat a new character you unlock it as a playable character for yourself.

There are also quests in the game that varies each day.  If you complete the quests you earn 40 coins.  Each win you earn another 10 coins.  If you earn 100 coins you can buy a new deck of cards and win random cards.  If you want a good deck fast you can spend real money in the game to purchase cards or pick up a prepaid card at your local store and convert it.  In game you can buy 2 packs for $2.99, 7 packs for $9.99 or 15 for $19.99.

You can even craft cards in the game.  You do this by disenchanting special cards and using the dust you earn from disenchanting cards you don’t want to make new cards.  It obviously takes several cards to make one and some cards cost more to make.  There are many minion cards that work across multiple characters but all characters have cards specifically for their deck including some of the rare and legendary cards.

Each deck you play with has 30 cards and cards are randomly drawn.  If you play a minion card you can normally attack with it the next round unless it’s a special card with charge then it can attack the round it’s placed.  Each hero (character) has special abilities as well and there are some secret cards as well that are triggered into effect when certain events happen.  Each hero has 30 health points and the object of the game is to destroy your opponent hero.  There are many direct attacks that heroes can do against other heroes or some area affect spells that destroy many of the minions.

The game can be played currently on PC, Mac or the Ipad.  Like I said the game is free to play and parents can lock out purchases using parental controls.  I learned that after my son wanted me to unlock his account so he could buy some cards.  For the Ipad you need to lock purchases on the device itself.  To sign up you just need a battlenet account.

I’ve got a sample video down below showing some game time between a friend and myself.  She pulls out a legendary card on the second game and it’s a deadly little card.

 

Apple Settles E-Book Antitrust Case with States

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June 17 (Reuters) – Apple Inc reached an out-of-court settlement with U.S. states and other complainants in an e-book price-fixing class action lawsuit on Monday, effectively avoiding a trial in which the iPad maker faced more than $800 million in claims.

U.S. District Judge in Manhattan Denise Cote ordered the parties to submit a filing to seek approval of their settlement within 30 days.

The terms of the settlement, which still needs court approval, have not been revealed.

The U.S. Department of Justice sued Apple and five publishers in April 2012, accusing them of working together illegally to increase e-book prices.

Since then, 33 states and U.S. territories have separately sued Apple on behalf of their consumers, while individual consumers in other states and territories filed a class action lawsuit.

The complainants are seeking up to $840 million in damages for e-book customers. The exact amount of damages was to be litigated at a trial scheduled for July 14.

The publishers – Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster Inc, previously agreed to pay more than $166 million to settle related antitrust charges.

Last July, a federal court found Apple liable for colluding with the publishers after a separate non-jury trial in a case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Judge Cote found that Apple took part in a price-fixing conspiracy to fight online retailer Amazon.com Inc’s dominance in the e-book market.

Apple is appealing that decision and Monday’s settlement is contingent on the outcome of that appeal.

“As set forth in the memorandum of understanding, any payment to be made by Apple under the settlement agreement will be contingent on the outcome of that appeal,” Steve Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer, wrote in a letter to the judge.

Berman declined to comment on the settlement until the final papers are filed. Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, also declined to comment on the settlement.

The cases are in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, case no: 11-md-2293 and 12-cv-03394. (Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

Is a Dual Band router worth it?

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After increasing my Internet bandwidth I figured it was time to upgrade the router.  I did a little research on what was the best router out there and what were the best routers for the price.   After all there are many dual band routers out there they proclaim that you get extra bandwidth since you are running on two separate channels.

I ended up purchasing the  NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band WiFi Gigabit Router (R7000).
It boasts a 1 ghz dual core processor and Wifi speeds up to 600 + 1300 Mbps.  It says it could support 12 devices and some make think that is a little much but when you now consider how many devices in your house hold use Wi-fi it adds up fast. My thought was also that I was purchasing a bit for the future.  I had purchased an older Linksys WRT54GL Wireless-G Broadband Router many years ago and was very happy with it and in fact later upgraded to a new one but burned it out within a few months.  That kept me away from new routers until just recently.

As I mentioned in an earlier post the cable company said that for Netflix you needed 5-6 megs down stream and I have a son who also likes to watch a lot of videos via YouTube and watch streams on Twitch which also take up bandwidth.   So I figured I should get a router that could work well today and several years into the future.

I got the new router hooked up and it was actually fairly easy with their installation wizard which also updated the firmware for me.  It prompted me through some of the configuration and had me set up two different SSID’s for the 2.4ghs and the 5 ghz connections. It’s beautiful router and a little bigger than some I’m used too but the Amazon review already explained that so I was ready.  I also liked that it had 3 different antennas which uses their Beamforming+ which is supposed to help amplify connections and find out which channel works best with your device according to their documentation.

After everything was setup I started connecting devices to the new wireless connections.  My printer ended up using the 2.4 connection as well as my PS3.  I expected my wife’s new laptop to connect at the higher frequency only to find out it connected at the 2.4.  In fact most of my devices ended up using the 2.4 range.  So why did I buy a dual band router?  Well turns out the phones connected to the 5 ghz connection as well as the tablet.   So even though the company is bragging how fast the new connection is if 80% of your devices are sharing the same frequency then you won’t really see a big speed boost improvement.  The router is still a solid little router and the signal is boosting through out the house where we had issues previously with the last router.  I could purchase a 5 ghz wireless card for the laptops but 5 ghz has a shorter range than 2.4 anyway.

Overall I’m happy with the router as my wife’s laptop can pick up signal anywhere in the house and it’s a strong fast signal compared to the router the cable company had provided.  I’m also saving money by not renting a sub-par router for $9 a month.  The features the router has for parental controls appears to be quite extensive and plan on doing another write-up later on how to set those up.   The setup was quite simple and I now know that the different devices in the house are now running on different frequencies.  Perhaps the devices I was hoping would connect at the higher frequency didn’t but then again for streaming I should be using tablets or other devices designed for streaming instead of equipment that adapted to it.  In fact the router has a built-in Quality of Service (QoS) to give priority to gaming and video streaming so overall I should see an improvement.

 

Vapor store owner responds to controversy

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It seems that the there are stories  in the news lately about towns wanted to ban e-cigarettes with the same level that traditional cigarettes are banned.  Others are worried that the new flavored vapor flavors are meant to entice teens into smoking.  I figured I should just go the source and talk to a store owner of one of these local vapor shops who is also a mother and find out what she thinks.

I told May Leach, owner of Crush Vapor Electronic Cigarettes that when I first had heard about Electronic Cigarettes I thought the point of them was to help people quit smoking and thought originally that was good and inquired if they still help do that.   She responded that when she first heard of them she thought they were weird and stated the first one she tried looked just like a cigarette but was a bit heavier and the flavor was gross. She admitted she tried it to help her quit smoking but the first one she tried didn’t appear to help.

I inquired about the different types of electronic cigarettes out there.  Leach responded “Yes there are many different kinds. After trying the one from the gas station with no luck I tried a friend’s e-cig. It was a long battery with a tank on top that you could fill up with your own e-juice. Then there are really big e-cigs that require you to use a larger battery that you can actually remove, recharge and rebuild. There are still the ones out there that look like a cigarette and they come with flavored cartridges that already have the e-juice in them.

I inquired about the flavors and when they started coming out.  Leach answered “The flavors started coming out when vapors wanted something other than tobacco flavored e- juice. Just like cigarettes only come in really two flavors tobacco and menthol. That is because years ago the FDA regulated cigarettes and flavored cigarettes were no longer able to be sold in the US. I just wonder why alcohol is sold on shelves like Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and many other retail shops where children’s eyes are in plain view of the alcohol they come in many flavors, colors, bottle designs all of which are attractive. They are to me when I see the pretty bottles and I do not drink.  

Since we are talking about flavors I decided to ask the question regarding flavors and how many people are saying they are marketed to children.  She rebutted with “It is a lack of education. It is an excuse that BIG tobacco and BIG PHARM used as leverage to force the FDA and others to take action and caused untrue and outrageous non-scientific evidence to be released to the public to scare them. I just wonder why alcohol is sold on shelves like Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and many other retail shops where children’s eyes are in plain view of the alcohol and alcohol comes in many flavors, colors, bottle designs all of which are attractive. They are to me when I see the pretty bottles and I do not drink. As a shop owner I do not sell to people under 18. Children didn’t learn about smoking from gas stations and stores that sold cigarettes. They learn it from family, friends and the media about smoking. Most children that have tried a cigarette got their first one from mom, dad, uncle aunt, and friends. Not from a store.

I asked May if a teenager walked into her store would she sell to them.  She told me that if a teenager was under 18 she would ask that they return with their parents.  She also added that she would rather see a teen vape than smoke.

When I posed the question regarding the regulation of selling cigarettes online she was not against it.  Leach felt it’s our right to purchase things online.

While doing some research I found out that some electronic Cigarettes juices don’t even have nicotine in them and wondered the purpose behind them.  Leach responded with “The flavors taste good. It helps some people with appetite and cravings. Vape a flavor like chocolate cake and chances are you wont go eat that piece of cake for real. Some people also want to lower their nicotine levels for their own personal reasons.

Nicotine appears to enhance concentration[15] and memory due to the increase of acetylcholine. It also appears to enhance alertness due to the increases of acetylcholine and norepinephrine. Arousal is increased by the increase of norepinephrine. Pain is reduced by the increases of acetylcholine and beta-endorphin. Anxiety is reduced by the increase of beta-endorphin. Nicotine also extends the duration of positive effects of dopamine[16] and increases sensitivity in brain reward systems.”

Okay so what about all of these harmful chemicals I keep hearing about such as formaldehyde, Nitrosamines or even lead? “I have heard of this before however, there has been no evidence proven so far that these things are true. I only use a few ingredients to make my e-juice.

Propylene Glycol (food grade)  

  • Vegetable Glycerin (food grade)
  • Candy flavoring
  • And or Nicotine

All of these are approved by the FDA and all are GRAS (generally regarded as safe) there are over 4000 know chemicals and carcinogen’s in tobacco cigarettes Leach answered.

Wait.  What?  You make your own juice? Yes I make my own e-juice. I have a room in my store in the back that is kept supper clean and I have all the proper equipment that I use in order to have great accuracy. So I know what is in the products I make and I know it will not hurt you. I order all of the ingredients like PG VG flavors and nicotine. I come up with flavors that people will love and will help them quit tobacco. Most of my customers do not even want tobacco flavors they want fruit flavors and sweet flavors. “, she replied.

Okay I have to admit that’s cool but seriously should I worry about where I get my juice from?  I’m hearing that some stuff comes from China and is bad.  Remember when kids toys came back with lead paint?

Leach answered “Yes I have heard of things coming out of China that may or may not contain ingredients that may be extremely harmful if inhaled. I do not buy any liquid products from China. I know their track record is not that great when it comes to products they make or foods they produce. Look at it this way how often has Chinas products showed harmful or deadly additives as compared to the US having addicted millions if not billions of people to DRUGS regulated by the FDA? Not only that our food is GMO our health care is funded by BIG PHARM and BIG TOBACCO. As to the lead paint well the chemicals US water bottle companies use and soda and any type of plastic products that if given the right amount of time and heat will leech chemicals into your product your about to drink or eat will do to you. The bottom line is that the people who want to regulate e-cigs are the same people who made cigarettes and the same people who have kept them on the market for so long. They knew cigarettes killed people but did nothing. Now they want to take the only safer alternative away from us?? They had their chance! Mostly horror stories.”

Okay so back to regulations that folks are proposing.  There are already smoking bans in some cities and some want to ban the electronic cigarettes as well stating that there is harmful second hand smoke.  According to Leach this is just a bunch of bull.  She states that there is no second hand vapor, and that it will not affect anyone else.  According to her there is no foul odor, no second hand smoke and best of all no more bad smell.  It is after all just vapor.

I asked her to describe what she sells in her store. To which she replied, “I sell all sorts of products. Like batteries, e-juice, tanks, accessories and pretty much anything you need to stop smoking and start vaping. This is a healthier alternative to smoking. There are no carcinogens in e-juice. Smoking kills millions of people. Vaping will not cause COPD, emphysema, stroke, heart attack, or any other smoking related problems. It’s water vapor!”

May Leach is the owner of Crush Vapor Electronic Cigarettes.  The website to her store is  www.crushyourbutt.com.