Mobile games growing up

The #1 on the iOS app charts this week is Fortnite, despite the fact that the game only runs if you got an invite from Epic. The pull is that except for the control scheme the game is equivalent to the PC / console version. Likewise Civilization VI exists in a mobile version equivalent to the PC game, and Final Fantasy XV on mobile is also rather close to the console version. Meanwhile PC and console games are getting closer to mobile standards regarding their business models, if you consider lootboxes.

There appears to be a huge demand to play AAA games on the go. It is one of the explanations frequently cited to explain the huge success of the Nintendo Switch console, in spite of obvious battery life problems of the concept. But the Nintendo Switch as a mobile device at least still has the same JoyCon controllers, which works a lot better than just a touch screen for some games. I wouldn’t be surprised if we would see alternative controllers that can be connected to Android and iOS mobile gaming platforms in the future.

There are still some issues to resolve on the way. Civilization VI is $60 on Steam, but there are various deals to get it much cheaper; I personally paid $12 as part of a Humble Bundle Monthly. On iOS Civilization VI costs $65, and the best deal ever was the introductory half price. With the PC version having more options in the form of DLC, as well as user-made mods from the Steam Workshop, paying more for the somewhat less mobile version doesn’t look attractive. Final Fantasy XV is better, the Steam version costs $50, while the “pocket” mobile version is $20, and you can try for free or just buy some of the chapters if you want. As much as people might like the idea of mobile AAA games, the full price of a console game is very high compared to the usual price level of mobile games.

However the main attraction of high-priced AAA games is that they tend to be “pay once, play forever”. Some companies believe that when porting games to a mobile platform, they should rather use the business models of mobile games, sometimes to a rather exploitative extent. The Sims Mobile is only playable in short bursts, until you run out of energy; then you either need to wait for hours for the energy to restore itself, or spend real money to advance with prices that make the highly expensive The Sims DLC look cheap (The Sims 4 isn’t on Steam. The Sims 3 from 2009 is, and still has $550 worth of DLCs listed.)

Part of the reason that mobile platforms are catching up to the PC is that the period of fast development of PC graphics appears to be over. My 3-year old graphics card (Geforce GTX 970) in my 4-year old computer is still playing every game at good frame rates. I used to have to change PCs every 2 years to keep up. And as Final Fantasy XV pocket edition shows, you can downgrade graphics for mobile platforms and customers won’t care all that much, as long as the gameplay is good.

In summary, I do believe that there is a trend towards more AAA games on mobile platforms. And as long as that happens at reasonable prices, I’m all for it.

It’s Ayn Rand’s America Now, Thanks to the GOP

Conservatism has turned itself into a civic religion and columnist Neal Gabler fears the damages wrought in the Trump era will be permanent and lasting.

Sad to say, this will be my last column for billmoyers.com, where I have written for the past two years. In recent months, in the process of trying to understand for myself the cataclysm of Nov. 8, 2016, I have tried to examine a number of forces — demographic, economic, cultural, media — that may help explain it. I am certain that the question of  “what happened” will plague us for decades and that Nov. 8, 2016, will join April 12, 1861; Oct. 28, 1929; Dec. 7, 1941; Nov. 22, 1963 and Sept. 11, 2001 as one of the most calamitous and tragic dates in our history.

Historians may determine that it was the date America’s second civil war began. By that perspective, just as the first Civil War was the last gasp of slavery, this second is very likely the last gasp of aging white Americans — their full-throated death rattle against an America that they detest for having changed so dramatically the traditions and power structures by which those whites had lived. Regressions are often like that. They are an angry attempt to prevent a threatening future from arriving. Republicans had long preyed upon these discontents, but did so tepidly — a wink-and-nod approach. Trump voiced them and validated them, making racism, nativism and sexism acceptable. It will be his primary legacy.

But I think the real lesson of 2016 lies not in politics, but in religion. We hear a great deal about tribalism as an explanation for the Trump phenomenon. We hear about how Americans have divided themselves into parochial groups that reinforce shared values and interests as well as grievances and hatreds. But if tribalism answers one question — why people seem to hold so firmly to their beliefs in the face of contradictory evidence and even moral opprobrium — it doesn’t answer another, more important question: Why did they join these tribes in the first place?

I believe religion rather than politics may provide that answer. One of the most important shifts in our culture has been the transformation of politics into a kind of civic religion. Religion has always provided a sense of identity — hence the tribalism — but it provided something else, too; something even more fundamental. In what historian Karen Armstrong describes as the Axial Age, from which modern religions grew, it pointed the way to a meaningful life with spiritual values. That was for nurturing the soul. And it provided a cosmology, a systematic way of thinking about and explaining the world and our place in it. That was for the mind.

I have written previously about how conservatism turned itself into a civic religion, which I think is one of the affinities between evangelicalism and conservatism — not just that they share some values, but that they share the very idea of orthodoxy. Armstrong describes in a religious context how the Axial Age lost its spiritualism to dogma. This is especially relevant in a complex, ever-churning world that seems to outrun our capacity to understand it. True religion, I believe, begins in doubt and continues in spiritual exploration. Debased religion begins in fear and terminates in certainty.

Modern conservatism, like debased religion, has an explanation for everything, and there is nothing mysterious or spiritual about it. Trump understood the desire for some all-encompassing answer, as demagogues always do. Demagogues assume the proportions of religious leaders, but without the moral instruction. Through a process of simplification, they purport to tell their followers what happened and who is responsible. In short, they provide cosmology, not for the purpose of enlightenment, but for the opposite — benightedness.

As religious observance has declined in America, as faith has declined and the religious cosmologies have weakened, political passions and political cosmologies have risen, and those old religious/conservative affinities have strengthened as religion tries to save itself by piggybacking on politics, rather than as some believe, the other way around. Roy Moore, the Republican senatorial candidate in Alabama, is the perfect example of religion’s surrender to politics. Many evangelicals embrace him despite credible allegations of child molestation, showing how morality has become so politicized that it no longer even makes sense. That is because politics is the new religion of America.

Other observers, many of them brilliant, have been less alarmist than I about the permanent effects of Trumpism. New York Times columnist David Leonhardt wrote this past week that the Republican tax bill, which is like a nuclear bomb to the economy and to economic equality, will likely not have as severe consequences as many critics, myself included, fear. He says that politics change, Democrats sooner or later will take power, and they will revise the law just as Obama revised Bush’s tax cuts. Nothing is irrevocable.

But this assumes that politics is still politics, not religion. Religions are not easily reformed, doctrines are not easily changed, disciples are not easily converted. History is punctuated with religious warfare. This new civic religion has already put Republicans in the position of turning every election, every legislative squabble, into Armageddon. Ten years from now they may still be trying to repeal Obamacare. In the long run, perhaps, Leonhardt is right. Things change. They always change. But then again, according to the old saying, in the long run, we are all dead.

And that is why I don’t think the Trump moment will pass without serious and permanent damage to America. Trump isn’t just a politician with whom one may disagree. Indeed, Trump really has very little interest in politics, none in policy, and no respect whatsoever for the political process, which he ridicules at every turn as “rigged.” Instead, Trump, like other creators of a cult of personality, is a self-proclaimed savior, who promises his supporters redemption. In a certain sense, he is right. Trump’s is a cosmology of an America — a world, gone wrong — an America decayed by changing values purveyed by nonwhites, non-Christians and nonmales. He tells his supporters he will make it right. They believe him. And they will not be dissuaded. In Trump they trust.

So what to do? When liberal commentators discuss how Obama voters drifted to Trump and must be courted if Democrats are to win, I am deeply skeptical. I am skeptical of the data, which draws questionable conclusions about voting behavior, and I am even more skeptical of the effort to attract them. Thomas Edsall is as wise a columnist as we have, and he has been indispensable in trying to decipher this crisis in national sanity. But I think he too underestimates the forces that feed Trump and that Trump feeds. Last week’s column enjoined liberals to take their fingers out of their ears so they could hear the complaints of those Trump voters and win them back, even as he admits to the near impossibility of a liberal democracy, committed to freedom of expression, containing its more extreme elements.

I am not at all opposed to listening to Trump supporters. Quite the opposite. It is an imperative that they be heard and understood. I just don’t think there is much common cause between progressives and them. They are not all racists, nativists, sexists, homophobes and Islamophobes, but a healthy percentage are, and I think it’s probably a fool’s mission to attempt to change their minds. Just watch the people at Trump’s rallies. That is what makes the future so perilous. They are not going to convert.

Moreover, I am convinced that the worst is yet to come. Heading into the special election in Alabama, Moore seemed likely to win, confirming the utter depravity of the Republican Party. Thankfully — mercifully — that was not the case. Trump will issue blanket pardons in the Russia investigation and eventually fire Robert Mueller. The attacks on environmental protection, conservation, economic equality, the social safety net, a free press, voting rights, higher education and reason, diplomacy, women and morality itself will continue unabated with the full support of the Republicans. We shouldn’t fool ourselves. America is under siege, and this civil war has already taken a grave toll.

So I am not hopeful, but I don’t want to leave this space with a sense of hopelessness or futility. The resistance movement has already borne fruit, and there is a chance, albeit small, that Democrats will retake Congress next year and the counterattack will begin. I always remind myself, as you should remind yourself, that while the forces of hate are powerful, unshakable and mobilized, there are more of us than of them — Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote, after all.

But just as I don’t think politics is the real engine for the Trump movement, I don’t think that politics is entirely the solution. Religion, which in its corrupted form is an engine, may be — by which I mean the moral and spiritual underpinnings of life. Rather than abandon our values or downplay them, as some suggest, I think we should double down on them. The religious historian Karen Armstrong, in describing those early religious principles of the Axial Age, wrote, “First, you must commit yourself to the ethical life,” and concluded that “religion was compassion.”

These are important things to remember. Let the conservatives continue to eschew ethics and compassion. Let them sow hatred. Let progressives hold firmly to ethics and compassion and to love. Morality, not moralism, is an almost ineluctable force. We talk a lot about grass-roots politics. We need to talk as well about grass-roots morality. Put simply: If you want to defeat Trump where it really counts, live ethically. The rest will follow. As Martin Luther King memorably said, paraphrasing Theodore Parker, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Moreover, when it comes to cosmology, progressives need to provide an alternative narrative to Trump’s and the conservatives’ that will explain the world without distorting it. It should tell the story of economic inequality, and of plutocracy, and of the role of conservatives in enabling these things. It should also provide a positive vision of community and mutual assistance and global interdependence. It should promote compassion and empathy. It should be simple, powerful and affirmative, and it should be repeated endlessly the way Trump repeats his racist/nativist/sexist/phobic narrative. I am convinced that you don’t fight fire with fire, which is why I am dubious of Democratic efforts to out tough Trump. You fight fire with water.

Here is hope. Even if 40 percent of Americans have gone to the dark side, there are still so many people who are good and decent and self-sacrificing and who will continue to fight for a just society. It has been my privilege to share my ideas with them (and you among them) these past two years. I hope I will be able to engage them (and you) again. Yes, it is a sad, indescribably tragic time in America, and now that we know what we know about so many of our fellow citizens, about the Republican Party, and about the incapacity of our political system to deal with extremism, there is no going back. But in spite of all that, I think we must keep the faith, and we must take comfort that we have one another, not as fellow tribalists, but as fellow human beings searching for our best selves.

 

 

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Ordered a new 3D printer

I’ve been using my XYZ da Vinci Junior 1.0w 3D printer for a year now. It is still working. However I have learned a lot during that year, I’m printing more complicated models now, and I’m reaching the limits of what the machine can do. I still think it is a great printer for a beginner, but now I want something much better. So I ordered a Zortrax M200 Plus. The “Plus” is important, as this is the brand-new and improved model of the M200, which is highly regarded but now 5 years old.

The first difference between the two printers is the price. The da Vinci Junior was 471€, the Zortrax M200 Plus is 2,369€. Obviously not the same league. The da Vinci Junior uses PLA, the Zortrax can use PLA, ABS, and some other materials. The old M200 was really best used with ABS, but the new Plus version has better cooling fans, so PLA should come out fine now as well. The main difference is that the XYZ printer was only able to use proprietary XYZ filaments, while the new Zortrax also works with filaments from other suppliers. That was a major point of annoyance for the old printer for me; the spools came with an RFID chip, and if the chip said your spool was empty, the printer refused to use the spool. As the chip counted loading, unloading, and failed prints as lost material even if there was no actual material lost, I always ended up having to throw away the last meters of the spool. And the material was far more expensive than it should have been. However at the start I’ll use Zortrax ABS, just because the software knows the best settings for that material.

Where the difference between the two printers is likely to be biggest is in the quality of the prints. At the shop where I ordered the printer they had sample prints of little miniatures similar to those I often make, and the quality was *much* better. On the best setting you don’t even see the layers any more with the Zortrax M200 Plus. Of course it remains to be seen how good it will work with my prints. But the experimenting and fiddling around is all part of the hobby, the resulting miniatures are more of a secondary benefit. 🙂

From what I see in reviews the main issue with the Zortrax is that the software is very slow. I saw a YouTube video of a guy using the old Zortrax M200 to print a Harry Potter wand, and the software took 25 minutes to slice that model. That has probably to do with the print being with rafts (mandatory with the Zortrax) and supports. I suspect the supports use a lot of slicing time, I’ll have to try with and without it. But from the video it appears that the supports are easy to remove, which could be a plus. Now I finally understand the models of Miguel Zavala: Many of them can’t be printed without those automatically generated supports, and the supports generated by the XYZ software are very bad. So up to now I had to fiddle around with the models a lot, disassemble them digitally, reassemble them digitally, and generate functional supports with Meshmixer. I might be able to just hit a print button in the future, which will be faster even if the slicing is slow.

I’ll let you know how the new printer works out once it is delivered and installed.

Unbelievable Censorship: Trump Bans CDC from Using These 7 Words

The forbidden words include “vulnerable,” “diversity,” and “science-based.”

Donald Trump’s administration has reportedly banned the Center for Disease Control from using seven words and phrases, including “science-based” and “transgender,” in documents it is working on for next year’s budget.

 

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Invisible Flying Wizards

In one of my campaigns in one future session the group will come upon a castle. The gates are locked, there are guards on the battlements. Thus there is a challenge to the group to overcome: How do they get into the castle? Now this sounds like classic situation for Dungeons & Dragons. However through most of the history of D&D this was more of a headache for DMs if their group was at least level 5: Wizards had spells like Fly and Invisibility, and that made “sneaking into the castle to open the back door” boring instead of a challenge. So why would I put it in one of my adventures? Because 5th edition cleverly solved the invisible flying wizard problem!

Many of the spells in 5th edition are now using concentration, a new concept. If you want to fly, you can cast the Fly spell, but you will need to concentrate on it. Not only does that mean that if you are hit by an arrow, you have to do a concentration check or fall to the ground; it also means that you can only concentrate on one spell at once. Flying, yes, invisibility, yes, but not both at the same time. Thus the Rogue, who *can* be simultaneously stealthy and climbing walls, isn’t put out of a job by the invisible flying Wizard any more.

Having said that, for some classes the concentration concept is overused and ends up making their spellcasting overly weak. A prime example is the paladin, who has very few non-concentration spells, at least at lower to mid-level. Spells like the level 1 smites really shouldn’t be concentration, as they are already not very powerful and concentration means they don’t work with more important spells like Bless or Compelled Duel. For the Warlock the fact that Hex is a concentration spell and the very staple of his existence, makes any other concentration spell nearly useless.

So, yes, concentration is a useful new concept. But I think it is currently applied to too many spells and could be better balanced.

Update: Android 8.0 Oreo beta rolling out to Nokia 6

  • HMD Global has extended its Android Oreo beta program to the Nokia 5 and Nokia 6
  • Juho Sarvikas announced the news on Twitter
  • The rollout comes a month after the Nokia 8 enjoyed a public Android 8.0 Oreo release

Update, December 19: As promised, HMD kicked off the beta Oreo rollout for the Nokia 6. “Just one week after the Nokia 5 Android Oreo beta labs programme, we are delighted to offer the same opportunity to Nokia 6 owners. With the Android Oreo beta on the Nokia 6, you can take a first look at amazing new features that improve usability and multi-tasking, while boosting battery life,” HMD Global said in a statement picked up by Gadgets 360.

To test Oreo on your Nokia 6, head to the official beta sign up page.

Original post, December 12: HMD Global kicked off its revitalization of the Nokia brand with some hefty guarantees, including a commitment to bringing major OS upgrades to its phones as quickly as possible. Now, after the official release of Android 8.0 Oreo for its flagship, the Nokia 8, the Finnish company is making good on that promise with the expansion of its Oreo beta program.

Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer at HMD Global, announced today (via Twitter) that the firm is bringing an Oreo beta build to the mid-range Nokia 5 with immediate effect. Sarvikas also noted that the Nokia 6 beta will follow “very soon”.

To get started with the beta labs, you’ll need to sign up here and validate your device by typing in your phone’s IMEI number. After submitting the request, you should then receive the OTA update within 12 hours. HMD Global is also looking for feedback via the aptly-named Feedback app so it can fine-tune the final release.

Even if you’re not looking to take part, the beta is good news for all Nokia 5 owners as it indicates a final Oreo release should be just around the corner. The Nokia 8 beta lasted just under a month before the official rollout so it’s likely the same timeframe will apply to its smaller, less powerful sibling.

Outside of Google’s Pixel or Nexus phones, HMD Global’s crop of Nokia-branded devices are the closest consumers can get to a pure Android Oreo experience thanks to the lack of a bespoke skin or pre-installed apps. You can read our thoughts on the good and bad of Nokia’s first year back in the limelight here.

Magic the Gathering Arena

I’ve been in the Magic the Gathering Arena beta for quite a while, but only this week the NDA dropped. So now I can finally express how incredibly disappointed I am with this game. In Magic Duels they had a great game which was mobile and playable for all different sorts of players, including casual and new players. And they stopped supporting that to make Magic Arena, which is solely tailored for the needs of a very small hardcore crowd.

Magic the Gathering is 25 years old this year. So over the years there have been quite a lot of digital editions of the game. And every time, after a few years Wizards of the Coast stopped support of the current platform and launched a new platform. Which means that every time any cards you had bought became useless, and you needed to start your collection all over again. One needs to be very hardcore under those conditions to invest heavily into Magic Arena. But with Magic being the original pay to win game, the people who do invest heavily have a huge advantage over those who don’t.

Because Magic Arena only features a single player vs. player mode, constructed, this mode is dominated by those hardcore players. You simply can’t start up Magic Arena and play a fun, casual game. There are neither casual PvP modes like two-headed giant, nor are there any modes to play against an AI of various difficulty levels for practice or just plain fun. There aren’t even less cutthroat competitive events, like limited mode leagues. There is only hardcore constructed, where anybody who isn’t hardcore and who hasn’t spent much on cards is just simply crushed. There doesn’t even appear to be some sort of matchmaking algorithm to even try to get people a more equal opponent.

That means that the flow of play of Magic Arena for a new player looks like this: He starts his first game, gets crushed, then gets crushed again and again, until he either uninstalls the game, or pulls out his wallet to be able to play with the big boys. My guess is that very few people will opt for the latter. It is as if the developers had carefully studied exactly what made Hearthstone such a big success and then decided to do exactly the opposite. Magic the Gathering simply isn’t such a mass market game any more that you can run a digital platform only for the hardcore.

I really don’t understand why Wizards of the Coast had to stop supporting Magic Duels, they could have kept that one going for the casual and mobile players. There is no overlap in the target audience of Magic Duels and Magic Arena. And now I am really sad that there isn’t any digital Magic game for me any more.

‘All Eyes on U.S.’ as Honduran Election Panel Declares Incumbent President Hernández Election Winner

The commission made the announcement while opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla was traveling to the United States to present evidence of election fraud.

In Honduras, the government-controlled electoral commission on Sunday declared U.S.-backed incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández as the official winner of the contested November 26 presidential election. The commission made the announcement while opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla was on a plane traveling to the United States to present evidence of election fraud. The opposition party has called for nationwide protests on Monday, while the Organization of American States has called for a new election. We speak with award-winning independent journalist Allan Nairn, and Rodolfo Pastor, the spokesperson for the Alliance Against the Dictatorship. We also speak with Dana Frank, professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with the escalating political crisis in Honduras. On Sunday night, the government-controlled electoral commission declared the U.S.-backed incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández as the official winner of the contested November 26 presidential election. The commission made the announcement while opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla was on a plane traveling to the United States to present evidence of election fraud to the OASand State Department. The opposition party is now calling for nationwide protests, and the Organization of American States has called for a new election. This is Jorge “Tuto” Quiroga, head of the electoral observer mission of the OAS.

JORGE ”TUTO” QUIROGA: [translated] The electoral observer mission considered that it has observed a process of low electoral quality, and therefore cannot settle the doubts over what has been announced today. The mission regrets, once again, the incidents of violence that have occurred in the elections, in different phases of the electoral process, and calls once again for all actors to stay calm and act responsibly.

AMY GOODMAN: Protests erupted after the November 26 election, when the government-controlled electoral commission stopped tallying votes once the count showed opposition candidate Nasralla ahead. After a few days, the electoral commission then claimed Hernández was ahead. Human rights groups say as many as 22 people have been killed and more than 1,200 detained in the nationwide protests since.

Well, for more, we’re joined in Tegucigalpa by award-winning independent journalist Allan Nairn, as well as by Rodolfo Pastor, the spokesperson for the Alliance Against the Dictatorship, the opposition party represented by Salvador Nasralla. And in Washington, D.C., Dana Frank is with us, professor of history at University of California, Santa Cruz.

Let’s begin with Rodolfo Pastor in Tegucigalpa. Rodolfo Pastor, you’re spokesperson for the opposition party that is led by Salvador Nasralla, who was in a plane, headed to Washington, when the government-controlled electoral commission announced that the incumbent President Hernández has won. What is your response? And what’s happening in the streets right now?

RODOLFO PASTOR: Well, what’s happened since last night—it’s early morning here in Honduras—is, obviously, the announcement by the tribunal, a very unilateral announcement. Only the president of the tribunal was on camera, which is very, very atypical, since it’s a collegiate body and there is three magistrates for the tribunal, and yet it was the president of the tribunal, who is more directly linked to Juan Orlando Hernández, who was to make an announcement, which was also atypical since it was not an official announcement. It was basically him communicating the final results of the count, and yet it was not the tribunal coming out and saying Juan Orlando Hernández had been elected president of Honduras.

What happened since then is, of course, the alliance has rejected this declaration. We do not consider the tribunal, by now, to be a legitimate institution here in Honduras. It has been that way for a while. We have questioned the credibility of the tribunal, the capacity of the tribunal to provide credible results, since before the elections. And, of course, by now, more than three weeks since the elections, we are very concerned that the tribunal has played a very, very important role in manipulating the results. And this is something that the OAS has also come out and spoken about in its report. The alliance has rejected the results and has called for the population to stay on the streets, to keep mobilizing, since this is our way of putting pressure on the regime so that they can actually rectify.

Since the announcement by the tribunal and then the statements made by the OAScalling for a new election, what we’ve heard here in Honduras is, basically, Juan Orlando Hernández moving forward, saying, “Well, I am now the winner.” All the front pages this morning on all the major newspapers call him the new president of Honduras for the next four years. They barely mention the fact that the OAS came out with a very, very strong statement questioning the tribunal, questioning the process and calling for new elections.

AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn, you’ve been covering the events in Tegucigalpa through this election. Can you talk about Nasralla , where he was when this announcement was made? You saw him getting on the plane in Tegucigalpa?

ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, I spoke to him as he was boarding. And he didn’t—he clearly didn’t expect this. He was on the way to Washington to plead his case. One thing that shocked many people here was that President Hernández made this announcement not only while Nasralla was on the plane, but one day after Hernández’s own sister was killed in a helicopter crash. But he seized the moment to spring his proclamation of victory.

The declaration by the secretary-general of the OAS, Luis Almagro, was remarkable, because the OAS is historically a policy tool of the United States, and he is clearly bucking the will of the United States, which has been backing Hernández throughout this process. Hernández is close to General Kelly in the White House. I think this took some courage on the secretary-general’s part, because during the recent weeks I’ve been talking to some former Latin American heads of state who have been—who have made it clear that the OAS has been hesitant about going against the U.S. on this.

But now the secretary-general has issued a very strong statement, making it clear that the computers—the computer system of the electoral commission was penetrated. It was an invitation to fraud. And the OAS report didn’t even address what seems to be the dominant emerging evidence, which is that much of the fraud was done by simple ballot box stuffing on the local level by the ruling party. And as I previously mentioned on an earlier show, on the 30th of November one of the technicians inside the electoral system sent out a private message, in which he stated, ”El fraude ya se hizo,” “The fraud has now been done.”

This OAS stance by the secretary-general put some pressure on the Honduran government, which has bitterly attacked him now, saying he’s inciting violence. But, more importantly, it may make it difficult for the White House, which will have a hard time explaining, in any rational way, why it would now back Hernández as the OAS is calling for new elections.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about the role of Heidi Fulton, the chargé d’affaires, who, as in many countries around the world, President Trump has not appointed ambassadors, and so she plays that role? The significance of Nasralla being on a plane to the U.S., what he was planning to do at the State Department and the OAS? And her role in Honduras right now, as she is deeply involved with speaking with both sides?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, just a few days earlier, she had appeared alongside the head of the electoral tribunal, a de facto endorsement to the partial, not clean recount they were doing. And she was widely denounced for that. It’s clear that behind the scenes she’s been working on behalf of Hernández.

And the U.S. has not denounced the killings by the security forces. Last night, I went out on the streets as people were taking to the streets, burning tires. And the dominant force I ran into were the military police, which is the most repressive and notorious element of the armed forces. They’re the ones most closely and personally linked to President Hernández. They were carrying live ammunition. They told me they had orders to open fire on demonstrators if they gave them any trouble. And although the Pentagon has been claiming in recent years that the U.S. has not been training the military police, a number of those I ran into said they had gotten their training from Fort Benning.

It’s partially necessary for them to use this extremely repressive force now, because two weeks ago the police rebelled and said they would no longer carry out repression. And other elements of the army I’ve been talking to have been saying—you know, rank-and-file troops have been saying that they are reluctant also. I’ve never actually seen, in any other country, a security force that was less ideologically strong and less committed to their own leadership. When you ask them who their families voted for back in the countryside where they come from, very few of them say Hernández. Most of them say their families voted for Nasralla, at least among those I’ve talked to. And they seem—many of them seem to identify more as poor working people, where they come from, as opposed to being members of the institution. And I think the Hernández government and also [inaudible] have to see this. And if the popular resistance is large and persistent enough, this government may have some difficulty holding on, even with U.S. backing.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Dana Frank, a professor at University California, Santa Cruz, you’ve been closely following everything here. You say this election is being stolen.

DANA FRANK: Oh, well, I think we have to say there’s certainly evidence of fraud and a great concern about who controlled those tally sheets, who controlled the computers. I certainly would support what the OAS is saying, which is, we don’t have evidence of a clear election here that could be certified. And there’s a long history of electoral fraud in Honduras going into this. Let’s remember that. And Juan Orlando himself has a long history of subverting the rule of law, overthrowing the Supreme Court. Let’s remember, his election itself is illegal. It’s a criminal act in violation of the constitution, which says you should be—it’s an immediate criminal act to even advocate re-election. So, going into that, let’s remember that.

So, I think that we have to listen to what the opposition is saying, listen to what the OAS is saying, and say we need—they need a new election. There’s way too much water under the bridge in terms of that electoral commission. And it’s the foxes are guarding the chicken coop here and the chicken—the votes from the chickens. And so, I think we really have to listen to what the opposition was saying. And remember that the Honduran people have very few ways of expressing themselves at this point. People say, “Well, why are they going into the streets?” It’s not like they can petition Congress. Juan Orlando Hernández controls all the reins of power—the Supreme Court, the attorney general, the military, most of the police. We don’t really know, as Mr. Nairn was saying, what the position of the military and the police are going to be. This one unit, 400 of the COBRAS, did rebel.

So, you know, I think, just supporting what he was saying, we have to pay attention to what the United States is going to do here. They have such a long history of giving a green light to Juan Orlando’s criminal re-election, of being silent about the repression since the elections, and, outrageously, certifying, two days after the election, as it was already clear that there were major problems with the election—certifying the human rights conditions on aid to Honduras had been met. I mean, that was astonishing. And also on December 10th, which is International Human Rights Day, Heidi Fulton, the acting ambassador, chose to use that to praise the Juan Orlando Hernández’s government for its advances on human rights. So, they’re sending clear signals about who they care about and support, and who they don’t care about and support, and this lack of respect for basic human rights in Honduras. So, all eyes are on the United States right now. Will it respect the OAS? And, you know, there were some suggestions that it was—that the OAS was going to certify this election. And when it hasn’t, I think, what is the United States going to do? The EU has actually come out, last night, supporting the electoral commission, very embarrassingly, and pretty much repeating exactly what the Honduran government said. And the EU has a long history, like the United States, of supporting Juan Orlando’s government.

You know, the other place to look here is the U.S. Congress, which there have been very, very strong voices about the appearance of major fraud. There have been very strong voices condemning the repression, and especially Congresswoman Schakowsky, Congressmember Keith Ellison. There are already 68 members of Congress that have said cut police and military aid. Going into the elections, you know, Senator Leahy, Senator Reed, Senator Merkley and many others in the Senate have expressed concern about potential fraud. They’ve expressed concern about the state security forces. So, we also really want to pay attention to this congressional voice pushing back against the State Department. Remember that Congress controls the purse strings, and U.S. money is funding these state security forces. U.S. money is, you know, of the State Department—it’s the U.S. State Department that has been continuingly celebrating Juan Orlando’s dictatorship as if he was, as John Kelly put it, a great guy and a good friend. I mean, Kelly said that as recently as May, and that’s Trump’s chief of staff.

AMY GOODMAN: Rodolfo Pastor, in Tegucigalpa, you are the opposition spokesperson, the Alliance Against the Dictatorship. Can you explain what Nasralla is doing in Washington and what you’re calling for to happen now in the streets? And explain how broad your coalition is.

RODOLFO PASTOR: Well, the coalition is very broad. What evidently happened here is we realized—different political parties and social movements, we realized that we were dealing with a dictatorship, that this was no longer a normal political process where we were just competing for political power through elections. This man who has come to power during the last eight years, as a result of the 2009 coup, when he became president of Congress first and started packing the courts and different state institutions, has garnered, has concentrated so much power under his executive office that we are no longer dealing with a normal president here in Honduras. And so, we started coming together, throughout the last four years, when he, as president, has been increasingly abusive, authoritarian and repressive.

And we realized that the only way to confront this guy on an election, that he pretty much controls, was by coming together and building this broad coalition, which brings very odd partners to the party. It’s—well, of course, I am a member of LIBRE, and this is a party that was born from the resistance to the coup back in 2009, and it’s a left-of-center party, basically. And the coalition also brings together PINU, which is a small social democrat party, that has been in Congress for a long time but has not played a major role in Honduran politics, and, of course, PAC, led by Mr. Nasralla, which was also a party that is born from the coup, but as a right-of-center party based on an anti-corruption narrative. It’s a party that, by the way, months before the coalition officially came together as the alliance, was dismantled by the tribunal, led by Mr. Matamoros and under Juan Orlando’s direct instruction.

So, we come together, and we start getting social movements from around Honduras coming to us and also saying, “Hey, listen, we want to be part of this, and we need to organize against this, because we know. We know we are going into an electoral process that we have stated, both nationally and internationally, did not meet any basic conditions for it to be free or fair.” And we went into this game knowing that they control the field, that we were clearly against—going against the odds here. But we also knew that the rejection of the Honduran population, as a whole, against—of Juan Orlando, against Juan Orlando, is huge, is huge. And there was absolutely no way that if these elections were in any way clean or transparent, that Juan Orlando was going to be the winner. And that’s currently the position.

And it’s also—it might seem contradictory, but we are not exactly celebrating the fact that the OAS has come out and asked for a new process to be organized, because we won these past elections. We clearly did so, even against a massive fraud and the control that Juan Orlando has of the institutions that organize the elections. The Honduran people came out massively and voted against Juan Orlando and for the alliance. And this is something that we want to make very clear. We need to respect this. We need to respect the fact that the popular will was very clearly expressed, and that since the elections, and since it became so evident that there had been fraud going on before, during and after the elections, there has been significant repression by state police and army forces. And as a result, we have victims of this repression. We have 22 people who have been killed, many others who have been injured.

And as both Dana and the journalist pointed out, you know, this is a critical moment for us, and we are not willing to just accept that Juan Orlando should, by some miracle, agree that we are to hold new elections—in which, of course, he would lose, if they were organized by an objective, impartial tribunal. So, we are very concerned with, number one, the reaction that Juan Orlando might have against what happened last night—of course, he seems to be plowing forward and, you know, basically ignoring what the OAS has said—and, number two, yes, what will the U.S. say about this. Now, Mr. Nasralla is visiting Washington in order to meet with Secretary-General Almagro. He is also to meet with officials at the State Department and—

AMY GOODMAN: Secretary-general of the OAS.

RODOLFO PASTOR: That’s right. That’s right. And what we are—this happened before the announcement was made. We did expect the announcement to be made. We expected it to be made today, Monday, and not Sunday night. And yet it did not come as a surprise to us. And we have been getting ready for this announcement to be made by the tribunal. And we do consider that the OAS report does give—it gives us a certain boost. And I speak on behalf of the Honduran population that has been out in the streets for three weeks now, because we understand that there is a voice of hope out there and that the international community is still paying attention to us.

We were obviously very upset with the position that the European Union representative here came out and stated last night, like Professor Frank stated. And yet, this is not—we must make it clear, this is not the official position of the electoral observation mission that they have here. And I understand that, right now, as we speak, we have Marisa Matias, the president of the commission, speaking from Brussels about this. And I think that they will come out strongly stating that the electoral process was plagued by fraud.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to continue to cover this again tomorrow on Democracy Now! as events unfold, with the opposition leader, who many believe won the election, the Electoral College—the electoral commission shutting down the vote for a period, when it was announced Salvador Nasralla was 5 percentage points ahead. He is in Washington now. Rodolfo Pastor, spokesperson for the opposition party, Alliance Against the Dictatorship; Allan Nairn, in the streets of Tegucigalpa, independent journalist; and Dana Frank, professor at University of California, Santa Cruz, thanks so much for being with us.

When we come back, did Republican lawmakers include a last-minute provision in the tax plan to personally enrich Tennessee Senator Corker in order to secure his support for the tax bill? Stay with us.

 

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The NBA 2K franchise back with NBA 2K18 now in the Play Store

2K, Inc

  • NBA 2K18, the newest entry in the iconic franchise, is now on the Play Store
  • The game includes updated mechanics, an expanded script in career mode, and a new game mode
  • The soundtrack features artists like Kendrick Lamar, Naughty by Nature, and Nas

It’s never been a better time to be a sports fan with a smartphone. Not only are there an endless amount of apps like theScore and 365 Sports that keep you up to date on your teams, but sports games are getting better and better. Most of the important sports franchises are available as mobile versions now. The list includes ultra-popular titles like Madden, Fifa, NBA 2K18 and more.

The latest version of NBA 2K just hit the Play Store with a ton of improvements over last year’s version. New features like an improved MyCAREER mode and “The Association” mode join an improved soundtrack. In the updated career mode, the script has been expanded and more interactions are available for your player. Association Mode is a new multi-season mode that reminds us a lot of Dynasty Mode from other games. 

See also

Music has always been a staple of sports games and it’s no different for NBA 2K18. 2K promises an “eclectic mix” of music with artists like Future, Kendrick Lamar, Shakira, Nas and more. Gameplay controls are now improved and new gameplay mechanics like sprinting on defense are now included in the game. 

2K came under fire earlier this year for the console version of NBA 2K. The game is packed with microtransactions for everything from improving your career mode player to giving your player a new haircut. Sadly, it looks like the mobile version is no different. On top of the $7.99 price tag, NBA 2K18 features in-app purchases that range all the way up to $49.99. Ouch.

People don’t seem to mind, though, because the game currently sits at a 4.0 rating on the Play Store. There are only about 250 reviews so that may change, but we’ll have to wait to find out. If you want to check out NBA 2K18, hit the button below.

get it at google play

Core-PHP vs FrameWorks-in-PHP

PHP can be considered more as a revolution in the web development arena. Beginning with scripting of simple web pages, PHP today has evolved into a language that powers almost 60% of the web. Well, it has been extensively modified to develop frameworks and content management systems to ease the tasks of developers. Essentially, frameworks have some pre-coded functionalities that developers require on a regular basis and content management systems are built with the end user in mind.
We assume that Core PHP means solving a Mathematical problem by using paper and pen. Frame work means solving Mathematical problem by using a calculator.

Core PHP-Solving Mathematical Problem

Only some students can achieve results by using paper and pen as same as in PHP. Only a few of the developers can write the code in an easy way and reliable format.
Core PHP uses the PHP script in its purest form. A developer needs to know the language thoroughly in order to write a clear and concise code using core PHP. Only the experts can write flawless and reliable code using its core form.

Framework – Solving Mathematical problem

Everyone can achieve the result by using the calculator as same as in PHP. Even beginners can write the code in easy way and reliable format.
Frameworks are basically time savers. They have a rich set of functionalities available so that the developer does not have to embed the same code again and again. These frameworks generally have a fixed set of rules and hence the code can be passed on from one developer to another without any hassles. 
In core PHP one developer may not be able to read another developer’s code that easily. Frameworks on the other hand provide consistency in the code and are big time savers when the project needs to be handled by several developers at the same time. Frameworks rarely allow you to write bad code. This ensures less time in debugging and helps you deliver your project faster.
Frameworks Advantages:
  • Framework introduces an extra layer to wrap your business code which in turn provides better manageability and easily workability in teams. If you take an example of any MVC( Model-View-Controller)framework; you can understand that the teams can separately work on Model, Views and controller part. ORM (Object-relational mapping) provides easy scalability.
  • A framework gives you some tools and function to make it easier for yourself. For example the database seeds, the form request classes, the migrations, and so on.
  • In framework everything come as set of predefined codes, helpers, libraries. So, you don’t have to write your own pagination, security code or integrate someone else’s pagination, security scripts. Framework follow specific standard which makes the codes more organized. Besides, frameworks have organized MVC pattern that separate your code into 3 categories, excluding the probability of code.
  • Framework is better because almost everything is provided, you need to write less code and there is less to worry about.
  • Frameworks usually have security classes in the core. Some methods of Input class have flags to clean XSS from _POST or other global array.

Disadvantages:
  • You need to learn more as there is a specific learning curve for specific frameworks.
  • Frameworks are slower than core PHP code.

Core PHP code Advantages:
  • Core PHP offers you a lot of freedom a lot of space for imagination and invention.
  • If code is small; going with procedural PHP/Core PHP is good idea.

Disadvantages:
  • You need to write lots of code that may already be written.
  • There is more to consider about, like security (SQL Injection, XSS), organization of code, separation of business logic, view etc., (that frameworks already do it for you).
Enhance Projects
Everyone wants to move into sophisticated technologies. If any website or web applications have developed in Core PHP, it is difficult to enhance the website components, but if website or web applications has developed in Frame Work PHP, it is very easy to enhance the features.
Lets see some of the widely used PHP Frameworks:

1.Laravel

According to Sitepoint’s recent online survey it is the most popular framework among developers. Laravel has a huge ecosystem with an instant hosting and deployment platform, and its official website offers many screencast tutorials called Laracasts.
Laravel has many features that make rapid application development possible. Laravel has its own light-weight templating engine called “Blade”, elegant syntax that facilitates tasks you frequently need to do, such as authentication, sessions, queueing, caching and RESTful routing. Laravel also includes a local development environment called Homestead that is a packaged Vagrant box.

2.Symfony 

Symfony is a flexible, scalable yet powerful PHP frameworks for MVC application. There are plenty of reusable PHP components that can can be used like Security, Templating, Translation, Validator, Form Config and more. Like Laravel, it’s alss modularize with Composer. Its goal is to make your web application creation and maintenance faster with less repetitive coding.

3.CodeIgniter 

CodeIgniter is a lightweight PHP framework that is initially released in 2006. CodeIgniter has a very straightforward installation process that requires only a minimal configuration, so it can save you a lot of hassle. It’s also an ideal choice if you want to avoid PHP version conflict, as it works nicely on almost all shared and dedicated hosting platforms.
CodeIgniter is not strictly based on the MVC development pattern. Using Controller classes is a must, but Models and Views are optional, and you can use your own coding and naming conventions, evidence that CodeIgniter gives great freedom to developers. If you download it, you’ll see it’s only about 2MB, so it’s a lean framework, but it allows you to add third-party plugins if you need more complicated functionalities.

4.CakePHP 

CakePHP is a PHP framework that support version 4 and above. It is easy to learn with fast and flexible templating. The integrated CRUD (create, read, update and delete) is a handy feature in CakePHP for your database interaction. It also has various built-in feature for security, email, session, cookie and request handling.

5.Yii 2

Yii is a generic Web programming framework, meaning that it can be used for developing all kinds of Web applications using PHP. Because of its component-based architecture and sophisticated caching support, it is especially suitable for developing large-scale applications such as portals, forums, content management systems (CMS), e-commerce projects, RESTful Web services, and so on.
Yii is a full-stack framework providing many proven and ready-to-use features: query builders and ActiveRecord for both relational and NoSQL databases; RESTful API development support; multi-tier caching support; and more.

5. Phalcon

The Phalcon framework was released in 2012, and it quickly gained popularity among PHP developers. Phalcon is said to be fast as a falcon, because it was written in C and C++ to reach the highest level of performance optimization possible. Good news is that you don’t have to learn the C language, as the functionality is exposed as PHP classes that are ready to use for any application.
As Phalcon is delivered as a C-extension, its architecture is optimized at low levels which significantly reduces the overhead typical of MVC-based apps. Phalcon not only boosts execution speeds, but also decreases resource usage. Phalcon is also packed with many cool features such as a universal auto-loader, asset management, security, translation, caching, and many others. As it’s a well-documented and easy-to-use framework.

6.Slim

Slim is a lightweight micro-framework for PHP inspired by Sinatra, a Ruby framework. It has a tiny size without overkill learning curve. It’s built with incredible routing system and focuses on RESTful API with all HTTP methods (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE) supports. To use it, you need at least has a PHP version of 5.2+.

7.Zend

Zend Framework is a scalable and full featured object-oriented PHP framework.It has an online training and certification which make it popular and used by plenty of enterprise organizations. With its OOP (object-oriented programming) and design patterns consistency, you can easily extend custom classes and use only what you need.

8.Nette

The Nette Framework is another player in the world of php web application frameworks – but like most others, it has its right to be here. It comes with great and powerful features, and makes life easier for web developers. Nette uses revolutionary technology that eliminates security holes and their misuse, such as XSS, CSRF, session hijacking, session fixation, etc.
Nette is modern php framework which supports  AJAX / AJAJ, Dependency Injection, SEO, DRY, KISS , MVC, Web 2.0, cool URL

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