Guides Health and Fitness Lifestyle

Super hero latest hearing aid : Affordable and Quality

As we grow older, there is a high tendency that we lose our sense of hearing. It is considered as one of the most common conditions that affect older people and even elderly adults. Based on studies, about 1 in 3 people in the US aged from 65 and 75 have hearing loss or having […]

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Finding Good Customer Service when Furniture Shopping

You’ve heard the expression a thousand times: “The customer is always right.” This, in a nutshell, expresses what good customer service looks like. Spelled out in more explicit terms, a business should: 1) listen to what a customer likes and does not like about your business, 2) keep all promises that they make, 3) when they fail to live up to a promise, make it up to the customer in some way, and 4) be helpful, even when there’s no apparent financial benefit to do so.

But what about furniture retailers? While good customer service seems to have made its way into business websites such as those operated by hotel chains and high-end clothiers, with furniture dealers, it’s a mixed bag. There are a few that do rather poorly, a few that seem to excel at customer service–with the rest somewhere in between. To evaluate the state of customer service among online furniture dealers, we examined six that give a good cross section. Hopefully after you see what each of these does right and wrong, you’ll be better equipped to know what you should look for before you shop for furniture online. Our six sample dealers are: Ashley Furniture (, Simplicity Sofas (, J.C. Penney (, Furnitureland South (, Overstock (, and Ikea (


While we tend to think of customer service as dealing with refunds and warranties, it actually starts before the purchase itself. That is, an exceptional store will help a person figure out what will work best for their home. Unfortunately, the big department store chains tend to be more reactive in customer service. For instance, in our sample group, J.C. Penney offers little assistance in planning your room, spending most of their customer-service efforts on explaining returns and warranties. At the other end of the spectrum is Simplicity Sofas, which uses a lot of its website, not just to sell, but to inform. They do so on their educational blog, newsletter, and by their offer to send free fabric samples–as far as we can tell, something that only they do..

Furniture Land South also makes a valiant effort at being helpful through their Design Folder. This allows you to select your favorite furniture from the site and send these to a consultant, who will contact you with further assistance. Ashley Furniture tries to add some education in the mix by offering cleaning and assembly instructions–though no real assistance to help you decide what to purchase. Overstock is mostly reactive like J.C. Penney. But by far, the least informative is Ikea, which offers only a “virtual agent” named Anna who answer all your questions. In actual practice, “Anna” is not much help at all. We’ll talk about her more later.


After you’ve bought your furniture, the most important aspect of customer service is the warranty. That is, if the purchase doesn’t work out, you want to know what the company will do to correct the situation. Each of our sample group either offers their own warranty, or works with furniture manufacturers that do. However, some are much better than the others. For instance, J.C. Penney promises only that some furniture “may be subject to a manufacturer or store warranty,” and notes that if so, it’s “only valid for a limited time” and that “misuse by the customer voids all warranties.” They never explain what constitutes “misuse,” however. Contrast this with Simplicity Sofas, which has the most extensive furniture warranty that we’ve found on the Internet. They promise that if the customer is dissatisfied for any reason, they will refund the entire price, including shipping costs.. Granted, it’s easier for them to do this than the others, since they both manufacture and sell their product line, but still, it’s a significant difference from the others.

Ashley Furniture notes several times on their website that each store is independently owned. So what kind of warranty will you get? They can’t tell–because it depends on what your local store chooses to offer. Furniture Land South is happy to give you a refund or repair any item, provided you can prove that any defect happened because of them and that it was delivered in that condition. This means, they’ll do little for you if you not properly inspect the furniture as soon as it arrives and before the delivery man leaves.

If nothing else, Ikea is very blunt about their warranty responsibilities: “Ikea will examine the product and decide, at its sole discretion, if it’s covered under the limited warranty.”


Five of our six furniture dealers allow customers to contact them via email. Unbelievably, Ikea does not, preferring you to use “Anna” their virtual customer-service agent. We tried asking “Anna” how to get a refund, and no answer came back. Therein lies the problem with this approach. You usually have to phrase your question just right for virtual agents to even understand the question.

Each of our group has a toll-free number, and all of them offer Facebook accounts for their customers to use. However, Ashley Furniture appears to use theirs only to promote their products, and do not accept “wall” posts by customers.

It is not just with Ashley but many other furniture brands that care only about promotions so that their product will be in the spotlight as a result of which it will be more visible to public eye and once the sales start picking up, the furniture will be no less than a chairthrone.

As for the old-fashioned telephone call to the companies, both J.C. Penney and Overstock appear to have mere sales agents answering your calls. For that reason, they don’t seem to know that much about the furniture itself. Contrast this with the furniture-specific companies, Simplicity Sofas, Ashley Furniture and Furniture Land South. These seem more likely to have someone who knows the product answering their phones. What’s more, we found it especially easy to speak directly with the higher-ups at Simplicity Furniture, and frankly, those we spoke with seemed passionate about their product. At the bottom of the totem pole again was Ikea–offering only “Anna” the virtual agent to assist you.

Our conclusion is that slowly, furniture dealers are joining the rest of the online world in offering better customer service. However, many of them–if not most–have a ways to go before they are truly treating their customers as though they are “always right.” If you’ll be shopping for chairs, small sofas or other furniture soon, and if customer service is your concern, we recommend that you select a company that manufactures the product they sell. These are the ones who seem to have a passion for treating their customers right.

A Divorce That Left Me Bankrupt

We lived in Palm Springs, had 3 cars, a beautiful home, and I never worked unless I wanted to. I had everything I wanted. When I decided to leave my husband, I left with nothing. This may sound strange but I had my reasons. I didn’t want anything from him; I just wanted to find some sort of happiness again. That was a prideful thing to do and I paid for it in every way possible.

I hadn’t finished my degree when I was married. I stayed at home with our children, worked part time, and then we opened a business of our own. We ended up losing our business and our marriage. We were still in good financial shape after all was said and done, but our marriage was in shambles.

After leaving, I soon discovered that I had no way to make the kind of money I was accustomed to. I worked as a server and a bartender for a short time. Credit card debt was out of control and my ex-husband wouldn’t help with any of the debt we had accumulated together. It was his way of “punishing” me for leaving; of making me suffer. I soon found myself awake every night worrying about paying for basic needs like food and shelter. Bankruptcy was my only reasonable option at the time and I filed.

Being married for so many years and having every luxury was something that I came to rely on. Having no real job experience, no degree, and no means to support myself and my children was a real eye opener. After getting the immediate debt taken care of with bankruptcy, I immediately returned to school and finished my Associates degree in business management. I began looking for a high paying job that I could excel in and stumbled into sales. I’ve now been doing this for three years and managed to buy two homes. I now have a great credit score and am doing very well financially. However, the road to this success was long and difficult. Good thing I sought help from bankruptcy lawyer san diego. They help me through the bankruptcy process. I did not have the knowledge about the legal process so I needed someone to help me. Good thing I found reliable lawyer. Through his help, I was able to get past the circumstance.

The financial side of divorce can be very ugly. I’ve learned to protect myself from this sort of thing happening again. I will never tie my finances to another persons, married or not. The fact is simple; someone can be angry with you and ruin you financially. It isn’t mature of them to do so but it happens. I will always be in control of my financial future and make my own decisions concerning money. I will not spend more than I make. I have become extremely thrifty and constantly save as much money as possible. I never want to find myself in that situation again but rather in a position of strength.

I have no problem trusting other people in relationships because of the actions of my ex-husband. I simply believe that there is no reason to put your entire financial future in another persons hands. You may think you know someone extremely well but the fact is that people change. Even someone you trust can surprise you. It just makes sense to protect yourself in this manner.

Learning Photoshop will give you these 5 business benefits

If you are a business owner, it is important that you find ways on how to make your business or brand stand out. One of the best ways to do this is through Photoshop. This software has been helpful to several businesses not just in attracting customers but also in generating sales. 

Product Photography

Certainly, if you own a business and selling products, it is important that you highlight all the great things about your craft. Product photography is one of the best ways to do it. Product photography shots have the ability to increase your sales. It can be posted in your stores as a banner, flyers or even in the packaging of your product itself. As such, learning Photoshop to creatively layout pictures of your product will certainly help you gain more customers, which will result to more income or profit.  In addition, through pictures, there is a high possibility that your product will leave an impact to your target market.


Leaning photography is definitely helpful in the marketing activities of your business. Obviously, most of the marketing platforms, whether it is traditional or modern, use pictures as a center or focus. From flyers to banners, to stickers to billboards, pictures or images are always part of every marketing instrument. As such, it is very crucial that you know how to use Photoshop so you can manifest your marketing ideas and strategies effectively. Again, as a result, you will gain more profit.

Social Media

Nowadays, most businesses use social media as a channel for their marketing and promotional activities. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Youtube are just some of the most common social media platforms that businesses use in order to market their products or services. And just like any marketing platform, images play a vital role in social media. Thus, if you want to attract more customers, you must be able to know how to use Photoshop so you can create quality and attractive images about your business or product. This will help you gain more followers so you can expand your network and market reach.

Web Design

For a business to be competitive, having a website is necessary. Having a website also shows that your business is legit and reliable. But for your customers to buy your products through your website, it is important that your site contains great content and that includes amazing pictures. Learning Photoshop will help you to create amazing pictures for your web design. Studies suggest that having a website with great design such as images and content will help your business to attract your customers to buy your products. It will also help you to increase the traffic in your site. As a result, more visitors will see your site.

Business Cards

You can make your own business stand out by creating and designing your won business card through Photoshop mac download. With this software, you have the ability to tailor your business cards to match your business exactly. Having professional business cards will certainly make you ahead of your competitors. Remember that your business card is not just for your customers but it is also given to all your stakeholders such as suppliers, business partners, and among others. Your business card is the reflection of your business so make sure you create an outstanding one.

Generally, Photoshop is a helpful tool for businesses. It can be used in an array of business activities and platforms that help promote the products and brands of the business. Hence, it is advisable to learn Photoshop through several trainings available online.

Copenhagen International Airport (CPH) – Great Shopping, Food, Staff, and Smoking

If you plan to visit the splendor of Scandinavia, you have three real choices of entry: Oslo, Stockholm, or the beautiful Copenhagen International Airport. Guess which one I recommend?

I have been to numerous airports in my almost 49 years, and I have to say that CPH is my favorite thus far. Just to give you an idea of what I am comparing this to, Charles De Gaul is crap. Frankfurt, Germany is rising rapidly in my estimation. Miami sucks big time. DFW is a pain in the butt. Tampa, Florida is a gorgeous airport, but CPH outshines even that.

First off, I have to rave about how utterly spotless CPH is. This is one of the few airports in the world that has not banished smokers, and yet it is the cleanest place I’ve ever seen. Kinda shoots down the smoking-is-dirty argument, eh? I mean to tell you that they keep CPH spit-polished and absolutely gleaming. I could spend all day here just wandering about and ogling the architecture.

Speaking of things to look at, do stop and take the time to admire the Mermaid statue and read the story behind it. This is a replica of the famous Mermaid at Langelinie in Copenhagen, which has been one of Denmark’s biggest tourist attractions since being sculpted by Edvard Eriksen and put up on August 23, 1913. The replica is the same size as the real thing at about 4ft tall, but it brings out a feeling of wistfulness in me when I see it. I won’t ruin it by relating the tale, so do go have a look for yourself and discover the story behind it.

Another major point in CPH’s favor is the shopping. Yes, I said that. Look, if I’m going to have a layover of several hours somewhere, then I like to have something to do besides sit and twiddle my thumbs at the terminal. Browsing a myriad of wonderful stores is a wonderful pastime. This is also a great place to pick up those souvenirs you may have forgotten for Aunt Bessie while you await your flight out of the region. After all, they do suggest checking in 3 hours prior to your flight if you are going International, but it never takes that long so you have to do something, right? Well, there ya go.

Now, a lot of airports know they have captive shoppers and rake you over the coals on prices because of it. CPH shops do not do that. Not just the Duty Free places either; they all keep the prices within reason when compared to shopping outside the airport. Major points for that. They accept Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Euros, or credit cards for payment.

Food is all over the place here also. If you go hungry, it’s your own fault. Eateries are all around you and priced within reason. Go ahead and have one last mouth-watering Danish pastry before you leave… or heck, as soon as you land even!

As far as checking in here goes, well that is pretty dependant upon which airline you chose to fly with, isn’t it? I can say that the staff at British Airways, Lufthansa and Air France are always very congenial and efficient. Even when the lines appear long, the staff seem to have the magic touch of being able to move them along at a nice clip… and smile while they do it.

Now what about security, eh? Well, it is a much more pleasant experience at CPH than departing from ANY airport in the US, I can tell you that. They do not look at you like you are a criminal, nor do they treat you suspiciously just because they can. No. They are all very nice here and almost seem apologetic about the whole thing. You do not have to remove your shoes either.

As far as landing here goes, no need to fret about finding everything. Most Scandinavians learn English as a second language from grade school on so don’t be afraid to ask an airport employee anything. They are happy to answer. Also, the signs are mostly in Dansk, but usually have an English counterpart. They all have pictures that are easy to decipher.

Baggage claim is pretty much similar to any other airport. Which is to say easy to find, but a cat fight to elbow in to grab your bag. Heh. They have carts all over for your use so you don’t have to lug everything out yourself. Those carts are free of charge, too. I’ll give ya a tip here: Push down on the handle to get them to move. They have the break set by default; so pushing down on the handle releases that.

Parking has never been a problem here either for us. There is always a space readily available. You take a card from the machine, and then when you wish to leave, you find a different parking machine and stick your card in that and pay. You then get a receipt which will get you past the exit and out to that huge gorgeous bridge connecting Denmark to Sweden… or into Copenhagen proper should you decide to explore that a bit, and well you should. I mean, I just know you will be anxious to come see me in Sverige and all, but do take the time to hang out in Denmark a bit first. You will be glad you did.

If you need a Taxi or rental car, those can be found right off the luggage claim area, and the train to all points Scandinavian has a nice stop at this airport as well. You don’t have to worry about the quality of the service they provide because they are one of the best. They are like aspen to vail shuttle service so you can ensure that they are reliable and effective.

So, as you have figured out by now, when you are coming into or are leaving Scandinavia, do use CPH rather than the other two. Not that those other choices are bad, mind you, but just that CPH is so great that it should be part of your to do list anyway.

Learning How to Write HTML

To those of us who are not technologically gifted, the acronym “HTML” tends to intimidate us a little. Well no more. In this short article I am going to help you understand what HTML is, how it works, and how you can begin writing code in HTML.

First, definitions: HTML stands for hypertext markup language. “Tags” are the pieces of HTML code that help define how something will look or act. For example: a “less-than angle bracket” followed by an “a” with a bunch of stuff in the middle and closed with a “less-than”, “backslash”, “a”, and “greater-than bracket” is used to describe a section of hyperlinked text or image. Nearly all HTML tags have a start tag and an end tag which are used to open and close a section of code. Any tags that do not require a closing tag are known as “empty tags”. Later in this article I will show links to a few different tags and how they can be used.

HTML is basically a language that is used to describe how things will appear on a web page. Without HTML text can be typed and saved to a web page. While the text will appear, it will appear in plain text. This means that the letters and spaces will appear but there will be no formatting what so ever. No paragraphs, no line breaks, no special font, no change in font size, no color, etc…(you get the point). With HTML, a plain web page can be converted into a true piece of art. HTML is what communicates to web browsers. Web browsers read HTML and then display the page based on the instructions provided through the HTML code.

If you are actually planning on doing something big with HTML, I strongly recommend that you an HTML editor. I will explain more about this in a minute. For now, an editor allows you to format text and images as you normally would on a word processor and then get the HTML code that corresponds with what you developed. This way you do not have to write the entire page using code. However, so that you understand how HTML works and in case you just need to make minor changes in code, here are a few examples of some different HTML tags. Just click on the link to see what the tags look like.

  • HTML tag for hyperlinked text
  • HTML tag for paragraph
  • HTML tag for an image
  • HTML tag for a line break

HTML can allow you to create anything you want. You can even create tables using HTML to format where you want certain images or text to appear. As I mentioned earlier, the best way to do this is to use an HTML editor. I personally recommend using Mozilla’s SeaMonkey editor which is available through the SeaMonkey browser and application suite. It does not cost anything and it is very easy to use. Click here to go to the download page for SeaMonkey. Downloading and installing SeaMoney is simple and usually only takes a few minutes.

It is a foolproof way of editing software in an easy format and if it comes for free, who wouldn’t want to have it and on top of it all, SeaMonkey is one of the best browsers of modern times that any reputed web design Sydney would want to have.

Once you have installed and opened the SeaMonkey browser, look for the drop-down tab titled “Window” near the top of the page. Click on the “Composer” tab to open the composer. In the composer you can begin to create a file much like you would if you were using a word processor. You can do a lot of things using the composer such as add images, enhance text, insert links, and build tables.

You will notice a set of tabs located near the bottom of the page which read “Normal”, “HTML Tags”, “Source” and “Preview”. Once you have completed your work (or if you would like to preview your work in HTML), click the “Source” tab. All your work will be immediately converted into HTML code. To revert back to your previous view, just click the “Normal” tab and you will be back in “word processor” mode. Using the source view you can use the new HTML code you have created by copying and pasting the code where ever you need it. The SeaMonkey composer also has some options for publishing which can be accessed by clicking the “Publish” tab located near the top-center of the page. You can design a lot using this technique and you don’t have to have a bunch of HTML memorized or study HTML guidebooks till your blue in the face. Using an HTML editor/composer can make a daunting HTML project seem a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.

Proofreading Tips For Beginners

As a proofreader and professional bookworm, you will face the toughest challenge a book can offer. Try not to listen to it, not to go beyond the surface, try to ignore its meaning. Let alone enjoying the story for yourself. Throughout my work, I have learned to be detached in a rather critical way from the piece of writing that I have to work on. No Barthes with his Le Plaisir du texte can come into the picture. The piece will not become mine. I am the mere cleaner, the maid who makes the princess shine at her full bright.

One advice you might like to follow is to read backwards. Read every paragraph from its last sentence proceeding to the first one. This way you force yourself not to get involved in the story which may prove to be too risky in trying to maintain an objective attitude.

When we read, we do not read character by character, or even word by word. Reading is like playing music. You concentrate on the whole and it is enough to see the first and last letters of a word to figure out what it can be. Our brain builds up the “real” meaning of a word by the context and image of it, which consequently may not be the real thing knowing how fallible human mind is.

As a musician, I do not concentrate on the note I am playing at the moment, rather I am reading ahead in the notes. My brain is able to transfer the information from my brain cells to my fingers with a slight time of retardation. The risk stands for reading as well. You get carried away with the story and you no longer care if it was an “advice” or “advise” you read about.

Keep your desk tidy and spacious. You will need a lot of room on your desk. Often people tend to disregard this tip and pile up books, coffee mugs, and pencil sharpener on their desk. Yeah, it looks cool to be busy but I am the living proof, Einstein risked a lot with spilling coffee over his studies. Similarly, you can also not afford yourself to be asking for a second copy since all your material got soaked in some sticky fluid, or worse, a proof to trace your dinner menu back on. Before starting the education, he students should know that is proofread anywhere legit. The offering of the education should be under the guidelines of the government. The annual fees for the study should be reasonable for the children to get them pass and promote to the next class, The selection of always legal class should be done after checking. 

Help your eyes with a ruler or an envelope to lead you line by line. This way the speed of your reading will slow down not allowing you to “believe” having read something that is not there at all.

Talking about tools, you will use different colours in proofreading.

You will need a red pen to mark typesetter errors.

Non-typesetter errors are marked in blue. Marks in blue might be correcting errors by the editor or alterations made by the author. The reason for differentiating between the types of change is that typesetters do not charge for correcting their own mistakes.

There may be occasions when you are unsure whether to make a change. In such cases, use a pencil to mark the change and carry on proofreading.

Green is used by the typesetter’s reader (proofreader) to raise their own queries to point out matters marked in the edited typescript to be dealt with in proof.

Some publishers differentiate between changes that are made by the author and those correcting an error by the editor. Red and green are assigned to the typesetter, black and blue are used for the editor and author changes.

However, unless otherwise instructed, always use blue ink to mark your changes in a standard way.

Other tools you need to have at hand are a good dictionary, a thesaurus, and maybe a grammar reference book.

We are not infallible, therefore it is worth to keep record of your mistakes from your previous works, and refer to these before you start proofing. For example, one typical mistake of mine is when the publishing house uses -ize form, I tend to keep -ise as I learnt at school.

It might be useful (however, may be somewhat time consuming) to proofread for one type of error at a time. If punctuation marks prove your major problem, it is worth going over the copy just looking at commas, colons, etc. After you have done this, you can escalate to the next error type.

Proofreading, like all other mental exercise, is best done in the morning, or when you are most alert (some of us are night owls and prefer to work when all is quiet).

Similarly, if you are the author and editor of your work in one person, you need to give yourself some time to “forget” what you have written. Knowledge of the text makes proofreading all the more difficult. You might need one night before you start editing the finished work.

If time allows you, and you have some help, ask someone else to read the text to find odd or unclear sentences. A clear eye will always find something extra that your eye might have skipped anyway.

As a first filter, you can use a grammar and spell checker, but do not depend on them. Read the body first, then go back to the headings. Proofreaders sometimes forget to proof the headings.

Look at all the unusual fonts, like italics or bold, make sure they are really needed and correctly applied. Here I would like to mention the boilerplate text, for example the company letterhead, which also needs to be checked as it is still part of the document.

Once you have spotted the typos, you can go back to read again for sense and meaning. Even though, you are not an editor, you can also spot mistakes and unclear meaning.

Review page numbers, headers and footers that they are accurate and in order.

How I Quit Smoking

My New Year’s resolution when I was 18 was to start smoking. I was up to a pack a day by the time I was 19. I smoked a pack of Camels a day until I was 32. I got married at 31, and I quit for my husband.

The miracle was that a non-smoker married me in the first place. It must have been because I was skinny. All those years, I smoked instead of eating in the evening. I stank of cigarette smoke all the time, though. Cigarette stink was in my hair, clothes, and car. It even oosed out of the pores of my skin. I also knew it was killing me.

I quit cold turkey.

I did not use nicotine gum, pills or patches. Truth to tell, it was not really the nicotine that had me hooked on smoking. I actually liked the feeling of having the smoke in my lungs. I liked the process of smoking: taking out the cigarette and tapping it on its filter to tamp down the tobacco, lighting the end, drawing in the smoke and letting it out.

Deciding to quit was the hard part.

The whole 13 years I smoked, I knew it was hurting my chances of ever getting married. I knew the smoke was damaging my lungs and might give me lung cancer. For all those years, the “pleasure” of smoking outweighed the damage I knew it was doing.

Thank God, my husband loved me anyway and married me, smoke stink and all. His gift of loving me made me want to give him the gift of a wife whose kisses didn’t taste like an ash tray. It took a year, but finally my desire to please my husband won out over the “pleasure” of smoking.

I changed into a non-smoker overnight.

I had to identify myself as a non-smoker. The day I decided to quit smoking, I bagged up all my cigarettes, lighters and ash trays and threw them in a dumpster five miles away from my house. I washed all my clothes and bedding. I sprayed my curtains and upolstery. I left all my doors and windows open all day. I had my car professionally detailed.

What I did instead of smoking:

Unfortunately, I ate instead of smoking. I gained about 8 pounds a year for the next 15 years. By last year I weighed 240 pounds. Deciding to lose the weight was the hard part, but today I only weigh 161.

If I had it to do over:

I wish I had brushed, flossed and gargled whenever I got the urge to smoke at home. I could have stayed skinny and healthy by chugging bottled water whenever I got the urge to smoke in the car or at work. At parties I wish I had brought soap bubbles to blow instead of munching on the appetizers.

Or… I could have also used vape instead of cigarettes. Some experts recommend vaping over the traditional way of smoking (cigarette). I should have visited This website offers e-cigarette kits and other accessories needed for vaping.

The urges gradually went away.

I’d say it took about a year before the urges to smoke no longer came on their own. Five years later, I could see or smell other people smoking and not want to join them. Even today I avoid hanging out in places where people are smoking, but the smell of cigarette smoke doesn’t tempt me near as much as it did that first year after I quit.

How Video Games Stole My Life: A Story of Addiction

Addiction is often associated with things like illegal drug use or alcohol, but you don’t often hear the term paired with simple hobbies like video games. Thirty years ago the game industry was still waiting to break into households and nobody had any idea who the happy, mushroom-hungry Mario and Luigi were. Today three major companies battle each other every holiday season to see who can earn the most millions and appeal to the people eager to mash the buttons on the plastic devices and stare through the kaleidoscopic orb of wonder. When described like that, the idea of addiction seems almost as expected as a user of heroin. It may not be nearly as physically dangerous, but the reality is video game addiction can and does occur, and I have my own personal account to attest to it.

I was born in 1988, and my dad already had a ColecoVison and an Atari in the basement, as well as a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the living room. When I was old enough to speak and understand the concept of video games I used to watch him play them, and he even showed me how they worked. I loved playing Super Mario Bros. 3 with him, and if he was busy with adult responsibility, I enjoyed Kirby’s Adventure and Super Mario Bros. 2. Eventually we got a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and played Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, among others, and I spent a lot of time with other games I received as gifts or rented from local stores. It was the same concept as all of the kids today toting Nintendo 3DSs; they’re just kids being amused by interactive cartoons who will grow into other interests with age.

The Christmas I got a Nintendo 64 solidified my hobby as a gamer. The console was released in 1996 and saw many huge titles up through 2000, so as an eight year old I was excited every step of the way. Every kid knew about and was equally amazed by Super Mario 64 and Goldeneye 007. My dad and I still occasionally played games together, too, so there was that added father-son enjoyment. Still, most people between 8 and 12 start having to manage their time more, and if there’s going to be father-son bonding, it’s usually more like through playing baseball in the yard or helping him with projects. High school was looming around the corner, so even if none of that growing up was reasonable yet for my age, it was about to be.

Even in class, my mind would hover around pokemon series where I would need to have a Pokemon go accounts for sale and collect all the characters and homework was nothing more than a worthless task that I had been thrust upon that I tried best to get out of.

My class hit puberty around the same time the Nintendo Gamecube came out, next to the Sony Playstation 2 and Microsoft Xbox who officially started the console war and dubbed video games as a worldwide phenomenon to follow like movies. Back in my tiny town, we were graduating and shipping out to high school, but I was a late-bloomer, short and scrawny in those big halls. My parents got divorced at that same time, making it a triple transition: puberty, high school, and no more family. Needless to say, I escaped where I felt outcast through the only thing I was sure would bring some kind of comfort – my Nintendo. This should’ve been a red flag, but my household became a ghost town with a dog, each of us hiding in our own rooms pinched for conversation, and video games were now acceptable especially as a boy’s hobby, and even more so a nerd’s hobby, like comic books.

The result by the end of my high school career through a combination of personal issues and escapism through video games was a short, angry dork walking in the back of the graduation line still scrawny from never lifting weights, who never had been involved in sports past sixth grade, never had a girlfriend or attended prom, and was out of touch with old friends who went out to football games and parties while he sat and played Nintendo. Moreover, under pressure to pick a college major and remain on par with my classmates all happily set for a typical 4-year university, I blindly searched for a school with “video game design” in the major name, figuring that was all I was good for. I wound up moving to DeVry University for game programming nine-hundred miles south of my hometown.

DeVry was a nerd’s sanctuary with no campus housing and no more than twenty students in the only building, which was smaller than my high school. I lived in an apartment with fellow game nerds who had no money or car, and in a few months I was stripped of all my money, had my car broken into, and had seen enough pictures of real college parties from my old friends on the growing Facebook to drop out and debate suicide. Half of the time my mind was fixed on ending my life, and the other half it was rationally trying to tackle each problem one at a time. First, I needed a girlfriend. So, like a desperate fool I spilled my troubles to the last crush I had in high school, thinking that would somehow work. It didn’t, but I learned about her college from conversation and wound up transferring there, not for her but for maybe some kind of second chance. I majored in psychology, too, for no other reason than to figure myself out and forget any of the past ever happened.

I had two roommates at the new school. One was a total computer geek majoring in computer science, and the other was a regular guy with interests similar to mine outside of games. I hung around the second guy and focused more on my average-guy side that I always had and looked at the computer roommate as a benchmark of my past, like who I used to be but would no longer be associated with. No offense to him and his lifestyle, but I now had a personal disgust for sitting in front of the TV all day, the same as the personal disgust for myself that drove me back and forth on suicidal thoughts. Soon after from quitting games cold turkey out of a burning self-hate and hanging around people in normal society, I was attending parties all the time and even got a girlfriend.

Ultimately I was living my college years like I should’ve lived my high school years, always fighting the clock to make up for all of my lost time – lost time due to years poorly invested in video games. Despite having finally broken away from my gaming habit and becoming more social on campus, my personal issues and regrets always lingered, and at home on school breaks I was always alone, causing me to invest time in Facebook for social relief instead of Nintendo, and also driving me to more suicidal thoughts and attempts.

I have been playing catch-up ever since, never really feeling at ease with my place in the world and amongst my peers or sure of where I’m going, and I am always wishing I could go back and change how I lived my childhood and teen years. Though it was an assortment of things, a lot of the blame I place on video games, which is really just my irresponsible abuse of them, which always leads back to disgust for both things; and that disgust is what keeps me from delving back beyond the casual gamer and instead pursuing other physically beneficial things, like weight lifting.

The Emergence of Korean Cinema as the Most Exciting National Cinema in the World Today

Cloverfield is attempting to do for monster movies what the bloated and predictable, though unfairly maligned as a piece of utter dreck (it was better than Titanic), big-budget American remake of Godzilla in the late 90s tried to do. As of this writing, whether Cloverfield will fulfill its mandate remains to be seen. What cannot be denied is that a Korean movie already beat the makers of Cloverfield to the punch. The English language title of this film is The Host and it managed to redefine the expectations of the Godzilla genre in a way that Cloverfield cannot if only by virtue of its unfortunate gimmick of using jittery-cam cinematography. The Host is a perfect example of the new wave in Korean film and is also a perfect example of why most viewers either seem to love the contemporary Korean movies or hate them. American audiences have become conditioned to accept the really quite ridiculous idea of genre. We don’t want a lot of laughs in a drama, and too much seriousness in a comedy is the kiss of commercial death. In contrast, The Host is indicative of the Korean cinema’s reliance upon disturbing turns of mood and direction: one minute your heart is beating at the sight of the greatest CGI creatures so far created and then-like that-you are laughing from the pit of your belly.

The past thirty years have been lean times for foreign films in America, though in the past decade Japanese horror films and Hong Kong gangster films have become popular, mostly as a result of fans wanting to see what inspired the Hollywood versions of The Ring and Infernal Affairs. (For the record, The Ring is better than the original Japanese version, and The Departed is an embarrassment compared to Infernal Affairs.) Those who enjoy the John Woo-style exercises in empty style should set their sights on the Korean film with the English title Volcano High. At first it will remind you of The Matrix or even Bored of the Rings, but it is important to remember that those films derived (plagiarized) much of their style from Asian filmmakers from Kurosawa to Woo. Volcano High is another great example of the move that Korean filmmaking has made in the past decade; you can’t go in expecting the same mundane and boring emotional register throughout. It combines the astonishing action of a Hong Kong movie with a comedic sense that owes much to early silent film comedy. The visual imagery is just as strikingly diverse: students dressed in traditional school uniforms while sporting Day-Glo hair. Even more striking is the contrasts in which a monochromatic background is punctuated with bright reds and yellows. The byword of contemporary Korean cinema is contrast. The disconcerting juxtaposition of the visual elements is entirely coherent with the equally jarring emotional rollercoaster that take viewers from intensely dramatic scenes to over-the-top comedy within a space of minutes. No wonder so many American audiences used to being spoonfed their emotional manipulation by screenwriters who learned about life from college professors and studio executives who routinely think all American moviegoers are stuck in their teenage years react violently upon the challenges placed in their path when watching a Korean movie like The Host. After all, comedic relief is fine for a monster movie, but only to relieve tension, right? Not according to Korean moviemakers. (If you really want to have some fun, read the IMDB reviews and messages left by viewers who just don’t get The Host.)

Even the American sub-genre of serial killer movies has been approached by Korean filmmakers. What many people don’t know is that the serial killer is unknown in many other countries, and even those countries that have produced don’t even come close to producing the sheer quantity that America has produced. Memories of Murder is a serial killer movie made in Korea and you should be prepared before deciding to view it that the emotional rollercoaster is present here as well. American serial killer movies are typically devoid of any comedy; Silence of the Lambs may contain the fewest laughs of any Best Picture Oscar winner. Memories of Murder is based on a real even which is, not coincidentally, the story of the first case of a serial killer in Korean history. (Not including the genocidal policies of its past leaders, of course.) Where this particular Korean film diverges from the standard approach taken by American serial killer movies is in dislocating the central focus away from the killer himself and to the police procedures involved in the search. Equally important is that Memories of Murder also chooses not to lovingly focus on grisly constructions of the scenes of murder. Instead, and this may well say much about Korean culture, the real violence in the movie arrives courtesy of the violent beatings of suspects by the police. What this serial killer movie ultimately is about is the violence of the searchers rather than the violence of the killer. Making this film even more of an object of outrage is that, well, I’ll use this comment left on the IMDB message board by way of

“I watched this movie in all earnest for 2 hours and they don’t have any ending? what kind of an idiot makes such movies? i wait for the whole movie to find out who the killer was, and they never ever show it? Nonsense, I will never watch such huge let down stupid korean mystery movies again. I just cannot comprehend the fact that people can feel satisfied after seeing a movie that does not offer a concrete ending, especially when it is a mystery movie.”

Can you imagine Hollywood producing a serial killer movie in which the killer’s identity is never revealed? That’s the thing about the movie. It’s not a mystery; this person has merely been conditioned to believe that if a movie is about a serial killer then it must by definition be a mystery. Well, obviously not. Far from being the idiot here, the Korean filmmakers are simply working at a level that is simply not allowed in the Hollywood of today. The movie isn’t about a serial killer any more than The Host is about the monster. It helps, of course, to be somewhat familiar Korean politics and culture before watching the current cinema arriving from this fascinating country because, like all truly astonishing national film, it is being informed by its culture rather than attempting to inform the culture itself.

It remains to be seen on whether Korean Cinema will achieve the status in the near future to be compared on par with the biggest film industry in the world called Hollywood but has indicated many positive points that do point that way.

Linksys WRT160N Router Review, and Why It’s Terrible!

Linksys has been the number one brand for home routers and wireless networking for quite a few years now. The WRT54G router was probably the best Wireless-G router on the market when it came out, and it stayed on top. Today, I’ll be reviewing the WRT160N, as it is a product I’ve had some time to play around with. Does this product hold up to the trustworthy quality of Linksys?

Unboxing: Upon opening the box, the contents include standard documentation for Netgear c6300 login, setup CD,  power supply, and a very slick looking router. This router is apart of a new generation of wireless routers, and with a new and sleek look comes the removal of external antennas. For those of you who remember wireless routers a few years ago, it had the obnoxious antennas on top, that sometimes needed adjustment to get reception. With the growth of technology, we kiss those clunkers goodbye.

Setup, is it easy? Your first guess might be that it MUST be easy, it comes with a CD, after all! The setup CD is clearly labeled “Run CD First”. So, let’s pop in the CD! Although, the requirement of running a setup CD means that you must have an operating system that the software will run on. In this case, you must have a PC running Windows. If you are a PC user running Linux, the chances are you are a user advanced enough to set up the router without the CD. The software on the CD brings you through a straightforward series of screens to help you name your wireless network and configure encryption. Once completed, you should have access to the internet and be able to connect a wireless client to the router.

Problems? The first thing I had trouble with, during these steps, was that the router was not connecting to the internet. It was doing its job inside my house, internal networking was working great. However, it would not connect to the internet via my cable modem. My first thought was to simply power off the router and power it back on. It tried that, with no luck. I did the same for the cable modem, again with no luck. This type of problem gets more into technical areas, in order to resolve it. I even tried manually trying to renew the WAN IP address via the router’s web-based firmware, and nothing! I ended up having to fully reset the router to factory settings, and try again. This time, I set it up without the CD. Eventually, I got connected to the internet, which would only work with the “Filter Multicast” option enabled on the firewall. However, the internet stopped working just shortly after my success.

I had determined that Linksys firmware, for their product line of Wireless-N routers, is terribly low quality and does not function anywhere near acceptably. In which case, I flashed the router with a free firmware called DD-WRT. It can be used on many different brands and models. Once I did this, the router worked beautifully. The internet ran fast, internal network operations worked nicely as well. The reason I determined that firmware is a problem for all Linksys Wireless-N routers is that I previously owned the WRT150N, and had the same troubles. Once I flashed it with DD-WRT, the troubles disappeared instantly.

The bottom line for this router: If you’re a novice user, looking for something that is easy to set up and use, this is not the router for you. While it’s MEANT to be easy, the router doesn’t function properly out of the box, and requires technical ability to bring it to a functional state. However, if you are an advanced user and know how to flash a new firmware to the router (after checking the supported devices for whichever firmware you use), then this router functions quite good with DD-WRT.


If you decide to use DD-WRT, it most likely voids the warranty. Also, my WRT160N was version 3. If you happen to receive a version 2, you will not be able to use DD-WRT.

As for the fact that it’s refurbished…It appears to be functioning exactly as a brand new one out of the box would function. The problems described above are highly likely to be an issue on brand new models too. The refurbished warranty is 90 days. If you decide to get it, and it does give you trouble, you’re covered for 3 months!

I hope this was helpful!

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