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The world of Azeroth has changed – The shattering has occured

Blizzard announced that many of their changes for Cataclysm would go live this week as a prelude to the coming Cataclysm expansion.  If you log in today you should get a small patch which will show the new cinematic trailer and you should have the new login screen.

This current event is known as the shattering and the world of Azeroth should be changed.  Many of the old zones will be dramatically changed with signs of destruction while others that were desolate will see new life.

The Shattering will also bring the new starting zones for both the Trolls and the Gnomes.  This week you can also create the new class combinations.  You cannot start a Goblin or Worgen until the official launch of Cataclysm which is December 7th.

One change that may inconvenience players is the portals in Dalaran have been removed which means Dalaran will no longer be the transport hub of Azeroth.  Players stuck in Dalaran will have to be summoned, find a mage to teleport them or will have to fly to the nearest ship to leave Northrend.

I’ll be looking forward to starting my new Dwarf Shaman this week as something to do until Cataclysm is officially here since I still cannot level up my current characters until then.

Closed Captioning can be transmitted over HDMI

In a previous post I mentioned the issues with using Blu-ray and DVD players not sending closed captioning over the HDMI signal to the television.  I had resigned myself to thinking the only way I was going to get this to work correctly was to use the older Audio-Video cables to my television which defeats the purpose of getting a HD TV.

This weekend I had rented a couple of movies using my Netflix subscription.  I have already upgraded my subscription from DVD’s to Blu-ray so that I have a better chance of getting subtitles on whatever I rent but this weekend I rented an old classic which only came on DVD.  My wife was actually excited to watch the movie as she had seen it before but wanted to watch with with closed captioning so she could catch more than she did the first time she watched it.

Needless to say the movie did not have English subtitles and only Spanish and French instead.  Frustrated I went and ran the movie on one of our laptops just to see if the closed captioning would show up on the laptop.  As I had suspected it did show up if I enabled it in the media player that was playing the DVD.  I then realized my new Dell Laptop had an HDMI port in it and I could play the DVD on the laptop and have it send the video and sound signal to the television.

I put the movie in the laptop and see it start up the Windows Media Player I go ahead and tell the movie to play and go to “Special Options” on the DVD menu and enabled the closed captions under the subtitles section.  The closed captions started showing up on the laptop screen so I connected the HDMI cable directly into my laptop and my television.  The video from the laptop started streaming into the television with the Closed Captions showing.  That’s right! I actually have closed captions running through the HDMI cable which then proves the previous post that it’s not really the HDMI cables fault but how it’s used on the television.  If your player will decode the Closed Captioning then it can feed it to the television.  So it appears using your laptop is one way to get around this.  Note that I’m using a Windows 7 Laptop and Windows Media Player.

I guess the next thing to do is find a way to get our DVD and Blu-ray players to decode the closed captions on the old DVD’s.  I can understand an older DVD player not having the built in decoder since it relied on the television to decode the signal but Blu-ray players have the ability to be updated.  Especially if your Blu-ray player happens to be your PS3.  If my laptop can decode the signal I would suspect that the PS3 could if someone wrote the media player built into the PS3 to properly handle it.  Maybe the next thing to do is push Sony to update the PS3 to handle this.

Are kids texting too much?

You’ve seen commercials that talk about how much teens are texting and how they are driving up the cell phone bills but the commercials of course never address the other consequences of excessive texting.  The have been multiple articles regarding teens texting too much and some of the side effects of it.

One of the major issues is that children are staying up late and texting instead of getting much needed sleep.  Your child could be in bed and passing themselves off as asleep but secretly texting the night away.  Children that are sleep deprived end up having multiple effects as school.  Some of those would include falling asleep in class, having a tough time concentrating which of course affects their grades.

These bad habits also affect them mentally as well as the lack of sleep will make them more aggressive and increased anxiety.   There have been studies that also show that lack of sleep will increase the chance of diseases such as obesity, diabetes and even cancer.

You should be watching out for signs of this if you notice your teen is needing naps in the middle of the day or perhaps comes home from school irritable.

Too much texting also have social affects on children as well as it is known to affect their communication skills.  Some children will have difficulty holding actually conversations with people and will avoid personal social interaction.

Since the kids have their own language when texting which includes a lot of abbreviations and purposely misspelled words it tends to affect their writing skills as well.  I known of young adults that couldn’t even fill out a resume correctly because their writing skills were so bad they couldn’t write a complete sentence.  A lot of their writing would include misspellings and improper grammar as well.  Additional reinforcement of bad writing skills can also come from other forms of texting such as Instant Messaging, social network sites and online gaming as well as their accepted form of communication in those cases are often similar to cell text chat.

So how do you help prevent the excessive texting?  Some of the experts having the following advice:

1.  First be the example by avoiding using your cell phone, black berry or other electronic devices during dinner.  You should be instead engaging your child on verbal communication at this time.

2.  Make dinner time an electronic free time.  The experts suggest turning off the Television, ipods, radios and other electronic devices.  This will allow for more communication between you and your child.

3. Setup a proper time for your child to stop texting or chatting on their cell phone with your friends.  Some experts say to take the phone away from the child at night while others say empower your child and let them know the rules.  You can use the cell phone bill to let your know if your child is breaking the rules or not.

4. If your child continully breaks the rules you can have your cell phone company disconnect the texting service on your childs phone.  You may want to let your child know that you do have that ability before you actually have to use this and it may help enforce your rule.

5. The final step is to of course communicate with your child and let them know why you feel the need to enforce these rules.  Let your child know that you are a team and get some of their feedback when trying to establish the rule.  Keep them off the defensive by keep the conversation in a tone where you are acussing them but instead let them know you are concerned for them.