Snow days and student teachers

Remember when you were in grade school and a snow day was the best thing ever? Well, for student-teachers here at Radford University, a snow day isn’t on their list of best things ever. Many student-teachers had to say goodbye to their Spring Break beach trips because of local schools being canceled up to two weeks straight, according to WSLS News.

Student teachers are required to have 150 hours of in classroom, hands-on experience with students. If your concentration is Special Education, or a number of different concentrations, you may require to have even more time in the classroom in order to receive your teaching license. RU’s student calendar never matches up with local schools, so that brings challenges alone, then add snow and you have quite a mess.

“Students complete a number of assignments inside and outside of the classroom to show that they are knowledgeable of the skills and the responsibility of teaching,” said Dana Rose, a student-teaching instructor . Earning a teaching degree at RU will grant graduates the ability to teach in 48 of the 50 states. Rose requires each of her students to have two concentrations and monitors them closely to make sure they earned their credibility.

As of right now, with the amount of snow the New River Valley received if student teachers work through RU’s Spring Break, everyone will be able to go home in May when the semester ends instead of staying to finish up teaching. Since grades are due as well by the end of the semester, it would make it really difficult to continue the semester for those student teaching. RU builds in snow days into their student-teaching calendar for this very reason.

So, if you are a student-teacher, don’t give up on those summer plans, because you can still have a vacation this summer!

Cover and story photo from Creative Commons

Free private servers mark the end

For massively multiplayer online games, popularity is both a curse and a gift. These games live off the donations made by their following in the way of subscription fees. These fees allow for the company not only to provide a good lag-free environment, but also goes towards developing new games for the future, or in World of Warcraft’s case, new expansion packs. These things are vital to keeping the genre alive. As much as we all would love to play these games for free, there is a reason they cost money.

That being said, there is a way people can play Massive Multiplayer Online games, or, MMO’s, for free. Not only is this method of playing considered a form of pirating, it also has no benefits whatsoever to the game developer. That being said, there are some distinct advantages of private gaming servers. That is, if one ignores the moral aspect of stealing from the companies who developed the game. Private servers on average, tend to have higher leveling rates than the legitimate game servers. They also provide services that the real game may not, such as custom items, all in one non-player characters, or, NPC’s, thus, making them smaller and easier to deal with communities, the list of advantages can go on forever. There are even some servers that have modified the game entirely creating their own classes and adding different systems to the game play.

With all the advantages provided by the free servers, there are some distinct downsides to them, one being there is no guarantee what you are getting from the free server site. If you do donate to a private server, there is no telling how much of that money is being contributed to keeping the server up and running. Also, most private servers only exist for a short period of time, or, however long it takes for them to get big enough to draw the attention of whatever game company they are stealing from. LAG, or low bandwidth, is a fairly common problem on free servers, many go deserted due to it. Those that are lag-free tend to have a fair number of donor items, which can change game dynamics entirely, ruining whatever experience you are used to.

All this being said, free private servers are a form of piracy that has been around just as long, if not longer, than music piracy. It does have a detrimental effect on the industry, even with all of the advantages to playing a private server. Some companies do much better about stomping out this piracy, while others don’t really seem to care either way. That being said, the choice is yours, choose wisely.

Cover graphic by Kasey Sutphin

Story photo from Creative Commons

Top 5 useless USB devices

Here are my top five useless USB devices. They range in size, function and pointlessness. Hopefully they will have everyone wondering who thought these were a good idea.

5. USB Coffee Warmer

This one made it to number five, depending on what type it can serve as a hub for your USB ports. Still, anyone can see the problem with having a hot plate sitting next to a computer. This seems like a fire waiting to happen. It would take a couple of seconds at most to go refresh a cup of coffee. There really is no point to this device at all.

4. Flower Pot Speakers

Apparently, speakers were such an unsightly thing that a company somewhere had to figure out a way to hide them: flower pot speakers brought to you by Thanko, a Japanese company. It would seem simpler just to find some place to hide the computer speakers when you weren’t using them. After all, when has a fake flower really added anything to a room?

3. USB Greenhouse

Since the last one was about fake plants, it is only fitting that this gets the number three spot (At least the flower pot speakers served some sort of purpose). This, on the other hand, serves next to none. It would seem that growing an actual full-size plant that didn’t drain power from your computer would be much more reasonable, but apparently not. Though this does have one advantage for the forgetful, the device will remind you to water the plant on a set schedule.

2. USB Missile Launcher

While not useful in the least bit, this is one of the more amusing items to make it on the list. The USB Missile Launcher allows one to shoot plastic missiles at those annoying people who just tend to hang around with nothing better to do. It does this through the USB port and control software that comes with the toy. Once the software is loaded, it brings up a fake tracking screen which allows you to direct the missiles toward your intended target.

1. USB Chameleon

Now this little device is utterly useless beyond belief. The entire purpose of this device is to add to needless clutter around a computer. I guess the flicking tail and moving eyes could be somewhat amusing, but the company ShinyShack does not even allow you to pick your own color. The chameleon would be so much more awesome if it could change colors, but it doesn’t.

These are just some of the examples of the useless devices you can use to plug up one of the pesky USB ports that you could be using for something useful. There are a ton more of these devices floating out there, each more useless and pointless than the last.

Cover and story photo from Creative Commons

Mill closes but jam relocates

Laughter and conversation mixed with bluegrass music flowing from fiddles, banjos, mandolins, guitars, and an upright bass filled the air last Monday, Feb. 22 at a packed Coffee Mill. Every seat was filled as a range from toddlers to seniors clapped their hands and stomped their feet to the music. The energy inside the Coffee Mill made it easy to see it was a special night on Main Street, and it may be the last special night on Main Street for a long time to come. After eight years of serving the City of Radford, the Coffee Mill is closing its doors for good.

“I, personally, am very sorry to see the Coffee Mill close,” fiddle player and a founder of the jam Ralph Berrier said. “Not because of the jam, but because the Mill has been such a wonderful gathering spot for downtown Radford.”

The Coffee Mill has been a popular hangout for both natives of Radford and Radford University students.

“I like the community,” junior Mark Samudre said. “I like getting away from campus and doing my work and stuff.”

Graduate student, Jon Murrill, likes the atmosphere of not just the Coffee Mill, but of the jam sessions as well.

“I try to come as often as I can for [a] couple of months now,” Murrill said. “I saw it from the road and it felt like a fun atmosphere.”

Radford University students don’t just come out to watch the jam; some participate. Banjo player Jason Wheeler comes out to the jams every Monday night and participates with the rest of the group.

“When I first started playing the banjo I was in tenth grade in high school,” Wheeler said. “I started going to the Coffee Mill jam shortly after I started playing. I did not know many songs, and was a newbie when it came to playing, especially in public. The group of musicians welcomed me and allowed me to sit down and learn from them. I learned a great deal from that jam, and I credit it with the quickness of my development on the banjo.”

With the closing of the Coffee Mill, the Radford Fiddle and Banjo Jam loses the place it called home for the past seven years.

“It seems ironic that two weeks ago we were celebrating our 10 year anniversary, and now, two weeks later, we’re having our last jam,” Berrier said to an attentive audience.

It may be the last jam at the Coffee Mill, but that doesn’t mean it’s the last jam.

“The jam will survive,” Berrier said. “It’s lasted 10 years and has been held at other venues.”

The jam will move to the cafe area in Wades Supermarket every Monday from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. until it finds a permanent location. This isn’t the first time the jam was forced to change locations. When the jam first formed in 2000, the group wandered between several locations such as Mocha Joe’s and BT’s, until they settled down at Joe’s Diner for three years. The Coffee Mill has hosted the jam since they opened their doors eight years ago. The move is necessary, but the group made sure to pay homage to their home of over half a decade.

“We’ve been guests in their house for seven years, so we thank them,” Berrier said.

Cover and story photo by Thomas Bowman

Vancouver 2010

This year’s Olympic games have gotten off to a bit of a rough start with technical difficulties on the Luge course, however five countries are still going strong. In the Olympic medal standings, the Russian Federation is in fifth place. So far, they have 13 medals, three gold, four silver, and six bronze. Next up with a total of 15 medals, is Canada with seven gold, six silver, and two bronze. Hanging in there for third is Norway, with 19 medals. They have seven gold, six silver, and six bronze. The runner-up for most medals is Germany, with 26 medals, eight gold, eleven silver, and seven bronze. Exciting news is that the USA is in the lead for most medals. We have 30 medals total consisting of eight gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze!

Historically these countries have all performed well throughout Olympic history. The USA has earned a total of over 2,500 medals throughout modern Olympic history. This is by far more than any other country in the World. The USA’s weather patterns are ideal for Olympic training. The southern states are ideal for year round training for the summer Olympics, and the northern states are great most of the year for winter Olympic training. Most USA citizens will tell you that we are the “U-S-of A’s” the best there is, well, looking at the medal count that holds true.

Next week, we will have an update on the current medal count. Check in to see who’s rocking the gold and who’s not.

Cover and story photo from Creative Commons

Meet the staff

Arielle Retting
Sophomore majoring in Journalism
I like editing because I’m extremely lame, as well as watching movies and hanging out with my friends.

Katherine Wilk
Managing Editor
Junior majoring in Journalism
I write, report, photograph, drink way too much coffee and spend my remaining time in Calhoun Hall with my girl Arielle Retting.

Megan Nash
Head Copy Editor
Senior majoring in English
Women’s Lacrosse Club, English Club, Exit 109, PRSSA, Global Highlanders, being a swim instructor, fishing, traveling, singing in the shower, watching sunsets and making people laugh.

Kasey Sutphin
Visual Director
Freshman majoring in Graphic Design
Taking pictures, CRU and designing for The Tartan.

Sharron Logan
Marketing Manager
Senior majoring in Web Design
Reading, writing, dancing and acting silly with my friends.

Heidi Chantry
Arts Manager
Senior majoring in Fashion Merchandising

Elizabeth Heinz
Life Manager
Sophomore majoring in Journalism and Political Science
Cooking, Zeta Tau Alpha, running, sleeping, writing and watching TV.

Jennifer Leffler
Ritz Co-Manager
Senior majoring in Journalism
Shopping, watching TV, hanging out with my roomies/boyfriend and photography.

Annie Tull
Ritz Co-Manager
Junior majoring in Dance and Journalism
I dance a ton and am currently choreographing the spring musical with the theater department. I’m involved with CRU and love hanging out with people and having random dance parties!

Matt Reed
Tech Manager
Sophomore majoring in Sociology

Jessica Huennekens
Vent Co-Manager
Sophomore majoring in Physical Education
Soccer for 16 years, cello for 9 years, Alpha Sigma Tau sorority and ESHE club.

Deanna Perry
Vent Co-Manager
Sophomore majoring in Journalism
I’m part of Hillel on campus. Other than that my hobbies are reading, writing, music, gaming and just observing things.

Golden Eye: A look at the past

Golden Eye is one of, if not the most, well known first-person shooters out there. In its day it was a masterpiece of design, both artistically and game-play wise. Today though, it is just a horribly pixilated game with stiff controls. This is the second installment in the retro gaming corner.

Game Info/Play:

You play as James Bond as you make your way through the Golden Eye movie storyline. You wander through 12 different environments as the story unfolds, each one pushing you ever closer to the climax of the game where you face off against Alec Trevelyan. The game also brags three different difficulty settings, each one an attempt to keep the game fresh for times to come. The game features plenty of explosions as Bond uses them to blow up enemies, narrowly avoiding the explosions himself. Pressing down on the “R” button allows you to aim your gun anywhere on screen; this is an enhancement from previous first-person shooters, where all you did was run around pulling the trigger, hoping you hit someone.

The Good:

It’s hard to find anything good about Golden Eye when compared to current games. The one thing that does stick with the game, no matter how old it becomes, is the multi-player mode. This mode of game-play is arguably among the most fun someone could have on a Nintendo 64 game system. Intense screaming matches have been held over character selection as people inevitably fight over getting/using Oddjob. For a game and character to illicit such a response it must be good. Another one of the few things that remains unaffected by time, is the storyline which is extremely well-developed; it includes unseen twists and moments of panic.

The Bad:

The games graphics are absolutely horrible compared to today’s standards, each of the characters looking like a series of boxes put together rather than an actual person. Levels are confusingly made one section looks just like the next, making it hard to figure out just where you are in the game. While being one of the first games to allow you to aim so fully, the aim controls were clunky and hard to handle. Sound… what sound? The game had very little in the way of a soundtrack at all. The only really notable sound was that of the James Bond theme when someone dies in multi-player.

Final Thoughts:

Even with all of the negative aspects of the game, it is extremely hard for me to give it a negative rating. The nostalgia I felt replaying this game once more is hard to describe, and playing it became more about reliving that experience of my youth than an actual play-through for a game review. All the same, when I started out the game, I started out with the intention of giving it another once-over on today’s standards.

Whim Rating: 3.5/5.0

Cover and story photo courtesy of Creative Commons

“The Big Bang Theory” is a big hit

The nerds of the world are making a comeback everywhere. Computer geeks are becoming more needed, video games are becoming the cool thing to play, and comic books are more popular thanks to movies based on them. Following this trend is the CBS show, “The Big Bang Theory.”

This show follows four nerds who work at CalTech University. Sheldon Cooper is a genius theoretical physicist who thinks he is superior to all other human minds. Leonard Hofstadter is an experimental physicist who wants more out of life than video games and “Star Trek” re-runs. The two are roommates who live across the hall from blonde, aspiring actress/Cheesecake Factory waitress, Penny. Their other two friends, Rajesh and Howard, are also scientists. Rajesh Koothrappali is a particle astrophysicist who is originally from New Delhi, India. Due to his extreme shyness, he can only talk to women when he is drunk. This causes problems when Penny joins them all for dinner at Leonard and Sheldon

A week in the life

Monday, 10:00 a.m.: Most days, I’d be happy to be sitting in Political Science, because most of the time I can just listen and take notes. However, today is discussion day for The Grand Inquisitor. This wouldn’t be so bad if I could breathe, or at least stop coughing every two minutes. Not that it matters, if I don’t come today, then I won’t understand the essay question on Wednesday. It doesn’t help that I don’t think anyone in my group understands this book any more than I do. Crap.

Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.: I have an exam on Thursday?! Since when? I read all of the chapters for Media Performance weeks ago! I’ll fail if there’s any spoken parts to the test. I can barely talk! That’s typical, of course I would get a cold on the first week of tests. We also had to practice crew positions and performance today. I managed to walk into the studio at the wrong time, and my teacher made me perform as an anchor, even though I sound like I’m dying. I might have been more comforted by getting out of that class if I didn’t have to go straight to ITEC, and then a pile of fresh homework. I hate the beginning of the week.

Wednesday, 10:30 a.m.: I finished my in-class essay, and I think I actually knew what I was writing about! Huzzah! I think I’m beginning to be able to breathe through my nose too. Maybe the rest of this week won’t be so bad after all. No, of course it will be bad, but it could be less terrible if my cold goes away. I should probably study for my Media Performance exam at some point. Watch me get so much more homework that I can’t. That always happens. Thank goodness it’s Wednesday.

Thursday, 12:30 p.m.: It’s over! Except, not really. I’d do more homework, but I have Whim production later and I just don’t feel like it after having three classes in a row. I think I’d rather catch up on this week’s episode of “Ugly Betty” instead. I can never keep up with any shows when I’m in school. Not that it matters, I don’t usually have the willpower to sit down in front of a T.V. at the same time every week. Whatever, I’m watching “Ugly Betty.” I need a break from homework right now. Maybe I’ll lug my work to Whim production later. Probably not. At least Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. It’s not usually my favorite time of the year, but I’m excited this time.

Friday, 1:00 p.m.: I was late to breakfast, ran to Political Science before the door closed and I got weekend homework. I got weekend homework due at midnight after Valentine’s Day. Great. I guess I’ll start that before my boyfriend comes to pick me up for the weekend. Maybe I’ll finish it today and not have to think about it for the rest of the weekend. Of course, I won’t turn it in right away, because that would make me look thoughtless. I hate how that works out. Oh well, it’s time to have a relaxing weekend!

Cove photo by Jordan Oakley

Story photo by Kasey Sutphin

Life of a gamer

Gamers are an economically powerful force within our society. While some people see them as a singular uniform group, there are a number of divisions within games as a whole. They vary as much as there are types of games out there for them to play. In fact, you can break games down on what they tend to play, though there is much cross over.

Role Playing Games

Gamers who tend to play RPG’s have this image of the “cave nerd” ingrained into society. You know the image, the guy or girl who sits in front of their computer day in and day out clicking away. This is a relatively accurate description of a fair number of people who play RPG’s, though this is not an entirely true stereotype. There is a reason behind this. Unlike other games, RPG’s require massive amount of time for not only the story to develop to its full potential, but for the character to level as well, and often have a greater amount of re-playablity. This being said, here is a breakdown of people who tend to play RPG’s. They are looking for a story-driven, immerse game to draw them in like any good book or movie should. The game to them is not so much about the end, but the journey to get to the end. After all, once the game is over there is nothing else to do but move on to the next game.

Massively Multiplayer RPG’s

Games in this genre, while some can fall into that “cave nerd” stereotype, often differ greatly from it. People who play MMO’s tend to be of a much more social breed. “Guilds” and “clans” are often an extension of this desire to socialize. In many ways, one could view MMO gamers as creating social networking, before it was cool, though not in nearly as practical an application as say Facebook or MySpace. As far as people who play MMO’s go, there really isn’t that much of a “type” they tend to come from. Since a fair number of MMO’s lack any real-story players, their there to have fun in a fake world doing what they can’t in the real, this mainly involves slicing or blowing up enemies, but it appears society frowns on that.

Fist Person Shooters

FPS gamers are an entirely different breed from people who play RPG’s. RPG’s tend to be slow paced and story-driven, FPS games are high-speed, high-intensity games. The main focus on FPS games is to kill everyone that isn’t you or your allies. The games are pretty straight forward and rarely will you have any huge surprises. Somewhere in the game there is about a 50 percent chance of some sort of betrayal, if there is any storyline at all. Gamers who play FPS tend to be a bit more high-strung and outgoing, rather than their RPG counterparts.

Final Word

This has just been a rough approximation on gamers based on my observations. There are way too many game types to try and break down what their gamers are like. For instance, adventure games, real-time strategy games, action games, the list goes on. Each have their own quirks and as such for each game, there is a different type of gamer.

Cover and story photo by Kasey Sutphin

Help for the hungry in Haiti

Last month, as we all know from news broadcasts, a horrendous earthquake struck the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, causing devestation to their entire country. Here at Radford University, we are trying to do something to help the citizens of Haiti, who are most desperately in need right now. On February 24, 2010, RU will be hosting a meeting to package food for citizens of Haiti. You can raise money on your own, or just come to the Muse Banquet Hall to help package food at 8 p.m. One dollar will feed 24 people for an entire day. Can you imagine? For less than four cents you can feed a person for an entire day! So, instead of spending $10 on weekend fun, try spending nine and donating one dollar to feed 24 people who are starving and wishing that they had even one piece of bread to keep their stomachs from rumbling. Just one dollar makes a difference. If you were in their shoes, wouldn’t you be grateful if someone could spare one dollar that would help keep you nourished?

Cover and story photo courtesy of Creative Commons