Liberation from wires

There are times when charger cords can be frustrating and somewhat confusing when trying to figure out what cable goes to what device. ‘No more,’ says Powermat, a company which recently released a device called the Powermat. This platform charges multitude of devices through magnetic induction.

Powermat is not a single piece device. It comes in two parts, the mat itself, and a receiver part that connects to the device that is being charged. This second part can be a number of things, depending on what device is being charged. For instance, they offer a harness-like cover to charge the Nintendo DS, while for some phones it is as simple as replacing the slide that covers the battery. The iPod touch and iPhone both have a protective case with a receiver built into the back.

The Powermat’s receivers have chips built into them, allowing the mat to charge as fast as the charger that comes with the device. It also prevents devices from being over-charged. This helps to maintain ideal battery life for the device that is being charged. It does this by letting the mat know how much it needs to charge and how quickly it needs to charge for each device.

The mat has built-in features to let you know when you have connected the device to the mat properly. The first of such features is a magnetic pull that should guide the device to its proper spot on the mat. It also has a light on the front that turns on to let you know the device is charging and goes out once the device has finished and received a full charge. When the device begins charging, the mat also emits a sound letting you know it is working properly.

Powermat provides two different versions of this charging station. One can be folded easily, making it ideal for trips, as it comes with its own portable carrying case that has a magnetic latch. There is a sleeker, more elegant design that is used for the home and office version of the mat.

There is a downside to the charger mat, and that is the price. Both the portable and home/office version of the mat cost around $100. Though each mat comes with a power cube that has various tips that allow it to charge any device, it only comes with one such cube. The dedicated chargers cost another $30 a piece for their various devices. Assuming one would want to use all the spots and doesn’t want to have to mess with switching out charger tips every time they wanted to charge another device, at minimum, this would bring the total price up to $190.

Powermat is not the only company producing wireless platform chargers. Wildcharge is unlike Powermat; their charger works based on conduction. This mean the components for Wildcharge make use of metal, which is used to complete a circuit which allows their charger platform to work with a greater efficiency than Powermat’s. However, Powermat brags that their charger is compatible with a greater number of devices thanks to their wider range of cases.

Either device is a great gift for someone who has a bunch of gadgets and a bunch of charging cords that go with them. The main issue with both devices is their price tag. Each costs a fair amount for what they do. When every device comes with a free charger, are people going to be willing to pay for something they already have in favor of making things simpler?

Cover and story from Creative Commons

DAALII

Elephant Sculpture by Salvador Dali

The title of this photograph is “DAALII.” I took this during my study abroad semester to London in May of 2009. Positioned in the shadow of the London Eye, this sculpture is of an elephant with spindly, giraffe-like legs carrying an obelisk on its back.

I took this picture because Dali is one of my favorite artists. The elephant is at least 15 feet tall, and I’m marveled by Dali’s ability to create such beautiful and psychotic works of art.

Letter from your Whim editor

Whim readers,

Welcome back to another new semester! Our staff is so excited to kick off the spring semester with new staffers, new editors, new content and a new outlook.

Over the past couple of months Whim has gone through a few changes (and we don’t just mean our newly-cleaned office). We’re ready to re-vamp this publication and turn it into YOUR magazine.

So, what’s new with Whim? For starters, we have a new section: Arts. As described by our first ever Arts editor, Heidi Chantry, this section is dedicated to exploring your creative side. We will publish student and graduate art. The Arts section of Whim is interested in artwork of all mediums, including but not limited to photography, artwork, poetry and short stories. Since this is a new section, we are open to any feedback from our readers. We are looking forward to using this new creative outlet and are anxious to see what this first semester will bring!

I guess I should also introduce myself. My name is Arielle Retting, and I am the new Editor-in-Chief (or Executive Director, whatever floats your boat) for Whim this semester. I will get you better acquainted with the rest of our lovely staff in an upcoming issue.

If you have any questions, comments, concerns or ideas of what you’d like to see, you can e-mail us at whim@radford.edu, call at (540) 831-6448 or e-mail me personally at aretting@radford.edu. We want your input, so please give it to us!

Keep on reading,

Arielle Retting
Editor-in-Chief

Local bands rock out in the Centennial Battle of the Bands

In wake of Radford University’s Centennial Celebration, Radio Free Radford, along with SGA and R-SPaCE, held the Centennial Battle of the Bands last Thursday in the Bondurant Auditorium in Preston Hall. It featured local bands from all over Virginia. The event consisted of five bands and DJ Mike Andrews, the general manager of Radio Free Radford. Oakroot, Cicatrix, Flight of the Lemming, Vegas on Fire and The Okay Feeling all took the stage last Thursday, Feb. 4 in hopes of placing in the top three.

Oakroot, from Roanoke, Va., was the first on stage at the battle, but did not receive a top spot. Originally known as Commonplace, Oakroot formed in June of 2008 and with their unique alternative sound the band was voted the second best local act in the Roanoke Times Music Poll in 2009.

Next to jam out was Cicatrix of Virginia Beach, Va. Their “reggae/rock” sound turned out to be a great show for the crowd, but still wasn’t enough to place. Either way, Cicatrix rocked the house and brought their beach style along with them.

Flight of the Lemming, a hometown band from Radford, are just starting to put their sound together, and placed second in the battle. Influenced by greats like Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd, Flight of the Lemming put together a great show right as the battle began to heat up.

Straight out of the New River Valley, Vegas on Fire rocked out on stage for a third place finish in the battle. Displaying their power, Vegas on Fire is on the rise and throws a great live show. This four man band can be found performing all over the Valley with their electric rock tunes.

Last but not least, The Okay Feeling stole the show last Thursday and came away champions of the Centennial Battle of the Bands. Out of Pulaski County, The Okay Feeling brought their roots and rock to the stage better than any other band at the show and it paid off as they left with the crown. Together since 2006, The Okay Feeling is influenced by artists of many different genres. Their music is meant for nothing more than “pure enjoyment.” If you take the crowd, you take the show, and that’s just what The Okay Feeling did.

As the night came to an end, you couldn’t have asked for a better performance out of anyone, and the Centennial Battle of the Bands was a success. For more information on the bands, check out their Web sites on MySpace and listen in to Radio Free Radford for more great local music.

Cover and story photo by Heidi Chantry

Giving back is the new black

Giving back is one of the most rewarding experiences I think anyone can ever hope to gain. I am not sure one can fully grasp the concept of this until they do something for someone that has altered their life in some way. In fact, I am also certain that not everyone is aware of the effect that giving back can have on others. It can make their day a bit brighter, help them know they are not alone and can even save them.

It doesn’t matter if the gift is big or small. It can be just as simple as helping an elderly woman carry groceries from the store to her car or as complex as organizing a fundraiser in the fight against child cancer. I feel as if it is one of the most important things in life to give back. It is the first giant step into helping make a positive impact on the world.

For one second, think about how many commercials we see on television about adopting a child to send money to, an End Hunger Now fund, the man on the corner of the street who has been sleeping outside for days, or the people of Haiti and the crisis they are now going through. The question we should be asking ourselves is: “What can we do?” It is our job to do everything we can for whoever we can.

If we all just stopped for a second and did something to help, we would be that much closer to leading this world into a happier, more positive and beneficial place. We only have one lifetime to make a difference; I

Bamboo voodoo

Bamboo Craft is one model in the line of magic-like tablet devices. To make, it clear these tablet devices are not tablet computers, though they do work on a similar concept. These tablets are pressure sensitive. They allow for more natural drawing styles for those who spend their time working on graphics programs such as Adobe Illustrator. The tablet can plug into any computer using an USB port.

This doesn’t mean they don’t have a place in the general marketable public, but at prices starting around $150, they aren’t exactly the cheapest toy on the block, though with the hefty price tag comes some pretty cool features. Wacom, maker of Bamboo Craft, recently come out with a version of their original Bamboo Craft. This latest edition boasts a newer, more sensitive pen stylus that allows for more natural hand writing, along with some impressive multi-touch features. These features work much like those on the iTouch, using gestures to indicate what you want it to do. Some of these features are basic track-pad functions, similar to a laptop mouse.

Another cheaper tablet option is the Genius G pen. You can pick it up for about $40. Because it is cheaper, it is not in the same range as the Bamboo Craft. It has the most basic features. Those features including simple Web browsing, replacing your mouse with the pen that comes with the tablet and hand-writing in documents.

While not the cheapest product, it is definitely a cheap alternative to the other non-tablet options. Such options are tablet PCs and laptops. Both are relatively new to the market in comparison to tablets, which have been around for a while. That being said, the G Pen may pack a better bang for your buck, as the other two options still have bugs and sensitivity issues to work out.

Wacom claims that their product allows you to get hands-on with your projects. From all appearances, that seems to be the case. While the Bamboo Craft may not be a cheap toy, it appears to be a fun one. It allows for a higher degree of precision on image-editing software.

This is probably not the device for your occasional image editor, though it is the perfect device for your image editing tinkerer who gets frustrated when using a clunky, inaccurate mouse, or someone who just wants to feel more in touch with their project. For these people the price is well worth all the voodoo it provides.

Cover and story photo by Kasey Sutphin

How to be a wise guy

What does it mean to be wise? Does it mean that you’re smarter and more clever than everyone around you? Does it mean that you can beat your friends in any game you play? Does it mean you make better grades than everyone else in your class? There are plenty of really smart and/or talented people out there who are so consumed by their own arrogance and can’t see anything but themselves. Basically, being wise doesn’t mean you’re the best at whatever you do, it’s knowing the proper way to respond to certain situations. You always need to be aware of the world around you and the people in it. If you understand the world we live in today, how things work in it and you know how to use that knowledge, that’s when you can call yourself a wise guy.

First of all, let’s say you get an “F” on your first test of the semester. How are you going to respond to that situation?

A. Complain that your teacher sucks and skip class for the rest of the semester.

B. Study a lot harder for your next test and try to get better grades on classroom assignments so the “F” won’t hurt your grade too badly.

Choice “B” would definitely be the better way to respond to that situation.

Now let’s try another one. Let’s say your friend beats you at a video game and is bragging about it. How do you respond to that situation?

A. Throw your controller at him and tell him he was cheating and you’ll never play that game with him again.

B. Ignore him and let him enjoy winning because he beat you at a game that in no way counts for anything in real life. Then don’t brag when you beat him at something so he’ll feel bad about it.

Choice “B” again is the best way to respond, and you won’t lose your friend in the process.

Now let’s try one more. Say you’re at a party and you meet this really hot girl. The two of you talk and hang out, and then she starts pulling you into an empty bedroom hinting that she wants to give you a good time. How do you respond to this situation?

A. Go into the bedroom with her and have a good time.

B. Make sure you have a condom first, then do what it says in Option “A.”

Okay, I threw that one in there just to mess with you, but you get the idea. A wise person really knows and understands what’s going on around them. You should make sure that you have good friends and that you understand different kinds of people when they talk to you. You need to understand that everyone sees things differently than you, and everyone probably has different interests in things like music, sports, TV shows and movies. If you can learn to respect others, no matter how their interests may differ from yours, and you know how to respond to the good and bad situations that you’ll be faced with throughout your life, that’s what will make you a wise guy.

Cover and story photo from Creative Commons

Snow, snow, snow!

The popular song that includes the lyrics, “Snow, snow, snow” is becoming an appropriate phrase for weather on the east coast lately. Staring in December 2009, Virginia in particular has seen unusual amounts of snowfall. With up to 32 inches of snow in parts of Virginia, winter weather has significantly affected daily life for everyone. Schools and highways have been closed, and ceremonies have been canceled.

Directly effecting RU students, the graduates of fall 2009 only recently received their diplomas due to the postponement of commencement ceremonies. While snow days bring fun, they also cause problems. With businesses and stores closed, finding groceries and supplies became a challenge.

Traveling is also very risky. Many people do not have 4-wheel-drive vehicles, therefore traveling in poor weather becomes a problem. Car accidents are of increased risk due to slick roads and poor traction.

The federal government recommends that all citizens have a snow emergency kit containing three gallons of water per member of a family, canned food items, can openers, batteries, a battery-powered radio, blankets and flashlights. Due to the heavy snowfall, there is a high risk of power outages and roof collapse. The National Weather Service also advises that you beware of falling trees and rocks.

This winter is still young and forecasters are predicting more heavy snowfall, so stay warm RU!

Cover photo by Jordan Oakley

Story photo by Kasey Sutphin

Administration postpones graduation due to weather

Over the past two months, Radford University and the surrounding area has been pounded with a number of different winter weather storms. These storms were responsible for many different school closings and much more. One thing that many probably don’t think about is the stress placed upon those students who were scheduled to graduate this past December.

Commencement ceremonies were originally scheduled for Dec. 19, 2009, but due to the heavy snowfall following finals week, the administration was forced to postpone the ceremonies. Many graduates remain unhappy with the RU administration for postponing the ceremonies. The administration sent out countless emails to the student body about commencement ceremonies and encouraged recent graduates who had a hard time arriving to RU for the ceremonies not to even make an attempt traveling to the university.

Putting myself in their shoes, I would be highly upset with the administration to receive a degree when they suggest I not travel to my own commencement ceremonies. Instead, they want those who cannot make it to wait until spring commencement to participate in the ceremony. No way would I personally want to wait another three months in order to walk across the stage for graduation.

One thing that is upsetting many graduates is why the administration would decide that the roads are any safer for those graduates and their families to travel following this snow storm. The storm that RU was hit by the first time was just as bad as this second, more recent storm that pounded the Radford area. Many don

Life Cycle

This stop motion video shows the cycle of nature from life to death. I made a wreath out of live plants I picked from nature. I then created an inner circle of charcoal to signify summer. The I added dead leaves, which represent autumn. The last cycle involved adding sticks and burning the wreath to symbolize the death of winter. The song is “Cherry” by Ratatat.

Link to Life Cycle

Illustration by Heidi Chantry

Retro gaming corner: Partying with Mario Party

Photo from Creative Commons

Mario Party is a game that managed to survive the decades fighting on through the changes in the market. It’s about time the original 1998 game was looked over and was held to today’s standards.

Game Play:

Game play is fairly straightforward. It is more or less like a board game. You pick your character and map, and then you move to the beginning square. Each player rolls to see who gets to go first. From there, players roll to see how many spaces they can move. Some spaces are traps that take away coins, while others trigger events or mini games. At the end of each round, a four person mini game is triggered. In this mini game, players compete to win coins. In some cases, the mini game takes coins from the players who lose and gives them to their opponent. As you move around the map, coins become important. They allow you to buy stars, a key for winning. The person with the most stars wins.

The four-player mini games can get rather intense as people battle to gain and/or keep their coins, desperate to save enough to buy a star. A lot more strategy is used in these mini game battles than one would think. You are sometimes better off not running head-first into whatever mini game, but taking your time and waiting for the other players to mess up.

Bonus stars add a complex element to the game. The game records how many coins you earn throughout the match and tallies them up. The person with the most total coins wins the coin star. There is also a mini game star for the person who gets the most coins from mini games, and a happening star for the person who triggered the most events. This bonus star component makes it harder to predict who will win.

The Good:

It is perhaps one of the funnest and most intense four-person games out there. You become so immersed within your character that it becomes hard not to scream at the top of your lungs when something bad happens to them. The mini games are fun and quick, leaving no doubt as to who the winner is in the end.

The Bad:

Since this review is based on current-day standards, the graphics are horrible and come out stretched and pixelated on most TVs. You can adjust it on most TVs, but not enough to make that much of a difference. Every time you fail to have enough money to buy a star, Toad makes the single most annoying sound in the world. By the end of the game, Toad and his family are in risk of being destroyed just because he can’t stop making that whining noise. The game’s music is horrible and cheesy, hardly comparing to today’s games. Controls with the Nintendo 64 are clunky and painful for the games that use the joystick portion.

Final Thoughts:

Even with all of its flaws, compared to current games, it is still among the most amusing and challenging games to play, though all of that depends on who you play with. It might not have the flair or the style of modern games, but there is just something about that nostalgic feel of watching 64-bit characters beating the crap out of each. Other than that it is just, well, amazing.

Whim Rating: 4.5/5

Peace is not for sale

Selling the idea of peace is like selling boxes of air. It will not get us anywhere closer to the idea than we already are, but it will get money out of our pockets.

I recently noticed that retailers are targeting teens and young adults with peace signs on their clothing and jewelry. I am as into the whole world peace thing as much as the next person, but I don’t see a point in using the peace sign as an adornment. At the very least, the peace sign should not be sold in the volume in which it is being advertised.

By seeing the peace sign on things as ordinary as a pair of underwear, shirts or earrings, our generation is stripping the sign of any real meaning. Sure, it might still mean the same thing, but we will begin to see it as more of a decoration than an important symbol.

As for why it is being sold in bulk, in the same way that sex sold items in the past, retailers are very much aware that peace sells. By making the peace sign a fad, it guarantees that more people will want to buy apparel that is covered in it. In this day and age, just like any other, it is difficult to avoid getting sucked into dressing just like everyone else. When you see a symbol on a large number of outfits, it soon becomes the norm, just like our generation’s dress code of denim jeans and a hoodie.

We are definitely weak to the power of suggestion when it comes to fashion.

Here is what I would like to know: when you put on your peace sign earrings, slip into your denim bell bottoms and accent your outfit with a scarf covered in peace signs, are you dressing that way because you believe people should live and let live, or are you allowing the big clothing and accessory brands to pick your pocket so you can look exactly like everyone else?

If you do not have a peaceful attitude or value the idea of peace then why are you walking around with the symbol plastered all over your clothing?

The same thing can be said for love. You can walk into just about any junior section and see things covered in hearts. I don’t suppose people wear things like that because they particularly love others; more than likely they just think it’s cute.

What I’m really trying to say is that we have beaten things like peace and love to death with our pointless ideas of what is fashionable. No one is capable of looking genuine by wearing a peace sign if they are not a peaceful person. I would really like to see our generation either adopt the ways of our fashion or start dressing more originally. If neither one of these things happen then what is the point of it all? Do not kill a perfectly good idea by forgetting what it means.