Category Archives: Featured

Five things to do at Radford

Every year Radford University welcomes a new class of students who seek a higher education. However, students also expect college to be entertaining. While Radford’s campus is conducive to studying, there are things to do for fun on and around campus that don’t include party hopping.

Curie Hall, attached to the back of Reed Hall, contains a planetarium in its bottom floor. The planetarium operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. Shows are free to students and visitors, but donations are accepted through the planetarium’s information page.

Instead of the planetarium, Selu Observatory boasts a view of the real night sky through a 14.5″ RCOS telescope, as well as other powerful instruments. Selu is also free to anyone who wants to attend a two hour session occurring every clear Friday, about half an hour after sundown. The observatory is located not far from exit 109 of I-81. Although it is not walking distance from campus, it is a relatively close attraction for those who have transportation, and is often used as a location for department-related celebrations.

Every day students go to Dalton Hall to eat with friends for three meals of the day. However, one day out of the year students and teachers flock by the dozens to attend “Taste for Diversity,” a culture-filled night of exotic foods and performances. This usually includes live music and belly dancing. The Center for Diversity and Inclusion, among other organizations, puts this event together every year in hopes that it will help educate the student population about other cultures. For that day, Dalton Hall serves food that they generally wouldn’t serve, allowing customers to break out of their usual eating habits. Senior King Amponsem, one of the key players in last year’s Diversity Week was thrilled with the outcome.

“I feel blessed and humbled seeing all those students come out there and seeing it put a smile on student’s faces. I was really excited about that,” Amponsem said.

Another yearly event for students is the Annual Highlanders Festival. This is open to everyone in the area, including parents, which conveniently falls on family weekend. During this festival there is a parade consisting of many bagpipe groups, the Radford University cheerleaders, RU Rockers (Radford’s dance team), fire department and many more. There are also several food and craft vendors selling a wide variety of Scottish and Irish memorabilia such as baked goods and jewelry.

The main attraction during the Highlanders Festival is the Scottish Games. A large rectangle of area is sectioned off in Moffett Quad, which is packed with vendors. In this rectangle athletes compete in what is known as the Scottish Games. These games consist of the weight for distance, the stone, the hammer, the sheaf and the caber. All of these games test the athlete’s strength and power, which always draws a large crowd from the visitors.

Most of these activities so far have been on or around campus. For students looking to get away for an afternoon, the Cascades can be a relaxing getaway. Located in nearby Giles County, The Cascades National Scenic Trail has an upper and a lower path that are both about a four mile round trip.

Junior Jennifer Adsit, a frequent visitor of the Cascades, has fond memories of the trail.

“It’s beautiful. That’s where my husband proposed to me,” Adsit said. “I also like it because it’s a medium difficulty for a hike. It’s just fun.”

These are only a handful of things to do around RU. As the year wears on more events will happen, and Radford will be alive with entertainment.

A sneak peak of FFXIV

Final Fantasy XIV is the latest addition to the long line of final fantasy games. Like its predecessor, Final Fantasy XI, it too is an online RPG. Its release date isn’t until the Sept. 22, or Sept. 30 for people who don’t buy the collectors edition of the game to get early access. While a fully functioning version of the game is not currently up and running, people have gotten a chance to get a glance of the new game thanks to the open beta that allows players to experience a sliver of what they can expect.

Game Play

The game play for Final Fantasy XIV is pretty bare bones, as is expected with anything that is a beta. It’s missing all the bells and whistles as far as story is concerned, but it still has plenty to give for the game mechanics, such as combat and the class system. The combat system is a hybrid of Final Fantasy XI and an entirely new setup. It still has things like a tactical point gauge, also known as TP. Unlike Final Fantasy XI, TP is not required for all special moves. Instead, there is an action gauge. The action gauge builds constantly and at a certain point it allows players to initiate certain moves and actions. Along with those two gauges are the standard health and magic, or mana, bar.

The armory system is a very innovative and new class system, allowing players to switch between classes more or less on a whim, allowing for more dynamic party play. The armory system is exciting because it allows for players to fill in roles that the party needs when they need it. Certain parts of a dungeon may be more geared to a magic user heavy party, and the next section might require melee type classes. The armory system also includes skill type classes such as blacksmith, miner, botanist, fisher and much more. These classes can be vital to party play, as well as a backup healer, creating potions and various other things from dropped loot.

Final Fantasy XIV sports seamless transitions from one region to another with no load screen and no, waiting. This is pretty standard for most sandbox console games and a few PC ones, but it is impressive for an online rpg with a massive and extremely detailed world.

The Good

The new class system works wonderfully well, allowing not only for better party play, but also for soloing, which, in Final Fantasy XI, was nearly impossible once characters leveled enough. Even on the lowest settings the graphics are still impressive, easily comparable to any of the other large, massively multiplayer games out there. On a high note, the graphics are far superior to just about anything on the market currently. Music is what one has come to expect out of a Final Fantasy game with a number of very good songs setting the feeling for the environment.

The Bad

The updates for the beta literally took days to download. Square Enix went with torrenting as a means to download and apply updates, which for them might be less resource demanding, but provides for very unstable and sluggish download rates for everyone else.

Final Thoughts

This is certainly a game which people are looking forward to, and it is easy to see why. Though final opinions will be held until the full release, the beta shows what should be, at the very least, some very solid game mechanics with very few technical hiccups.

Whim Rating: N/A

Photo from Creative Commons

Where are my sunny days?

Sesame Street was a huge part of my life as a toddler. It has been with children since 1969 and continues to educate toddlers today. During this time, many changes have occurred. Some changes have been great, but others are just a little annoying.

When the first two volumes of “Sesame Street” were released on DVD, many were surprised to see that there was a warning label saying the content might not be suitable for children. One might be a little confused as to why a popular children

“The Last Summer of You and Me”

Before returning to school, many people try to squeeze in that last “good beach read” before filling their time with monotonous textbook reading. I found my last good beach read in The Last Summer of You and Me by Ann Brashares, and I thought I knew exactly what it was about. I expected a summer romance that continued for several summers suddenly cut short, perhaps by death like so many are in Nicholas Sparks’ romance novels. What I got was a shocking story about friends.

It’s the story of two sisters who vacation every summer at the same beach in the same beach house for the whole summer with their parents. They rapidly learn every nook and cranny of the little island they call home every year. As they grow up, their parents give them more and more freedom to roam the island. Living in the beach house next to theirs is a boy with his parents. The boy is the same age as the older sister, and they become fast friends.

As they grow up, they each begin to go their separate ways. Riley, the older sister, attends an outdoor leadership school in Colorado. Riley, now 24, has been a lifeguard since she was 15 at the beach. She’s the outdoorsy type and chooses not to think too hard or take life too seriously. Alice is the intellectual type. She reads constantly, and at age 21 is trying to decide if she wants to go to NYU for law school. Paul, also 24, has been away for three summers in California, studying and volunteering. He has finally returned for a summer at the beach where he spent his childhood with Riley and Alice. Upon returning, he finds Riley is still the same old Riley, but Alice grew up into a strong, beautiful woman.

They each have their own problems to deal with, but Alice and Paul are both trying to deal with their feelings of more than friendship for each other. They don’t know how to be in love without hurting or leaving Riley out. As the book progresses, Paul and Alice become closer and Riley is still the same old Riley. They will all three have to decide how to deal with growing up, but one will also have to deal with how to end life completely. It proves to be a trying summer for them all.

I enjoyed this book because I wanted a quick, easy read that wouldn’t mean much to me, but what I got was completely different. This made me evaluate how I would deal with growing up. At our age, we have to choose to grow up or go away, and this book is an excellent example of the hardships that we all will have to face. I typically don’t like romance novels, but this book wasn’t overtly romantic. Paul and Alice’s romance was more of an undertone of a much deeper story.

Ann Brashares became popular through her Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. This was her first adult novel, and I personally enjoyed it. It’s rare that you find a book that doesn’t give you what you want, but instead forces you to face up to what you need. This book did that for me. I would recommend it for anyone who is facing a change in their life or for anyone who just wants a good read.

Rating: 5/5

Photo from Creative Commons

AR parrot drone: Toy of the future

The AR Parrot Drone is part Apple app and part real life video game. Parrot may very well be the future of remote control (RC) toys. The Parrot is a quadricopter, meaning it has four blades instead of one, allowing for an increased amount of stability, an ease of flight that normal RC helicopters don’t have. Instead of coming with a controller, the Parrot allows for your iPod Touch to become the controller. It offers a free downloadable app that synchronizes with your Parrot, allowing you to fly it through WiFi as opposed to radio signals that most other toys work on.

As long as users have WiFi they are capable of flying the Parrot well out of sight range thanks to the on-board cameras which allow users to see what their Parrot is doing as it travels. These cameras also allow for a feature referred to as augmented reality. Augmented reality enables users to play a multitude of games with their Parrot as it flies about. These games range from an obstacle course to a number of dogfight options where you can face either a computer player, which is seen through iPod touch or iPhone, or another person with a Parrot. In the augment reality portion, players are treated to some decent graphics as the parrot flies through a number of obstacles or fires off a barrage of attacks.

The Parrot has a number of features that lend to the stability and fun of the drone. During the dogfights is really when the Parrot shows off its stuff. When taking a hit, the parrot will shake and tilt, taking advantage of the on board gyroscopes that lend to its balance, which enable it to respond somewhat lifelike upon taking a hit. Those same gyroscopes also allow the parrot to maintain its balance in light winds, thus preventing it from flipping over and damaging itself by crashing. The parrot sports not just one, but two cameras.

A control feature built into the iPod app allows for the tilt of the iPod Touch or iPhone to control the direction and movement of the Parrot. There are also simple touch screen controls as well. This is all tied into the smart technology built into the Parrot. If you fly outside the range of your WiFi, the parrot will not only shut itself off, but it will also take the time to make a controlled landing, limiting the likelihood of any serious damage to the Parrot.

The AR Parrot Drone, while being a fun little gadget, is hardly cheap. All those innovations and features cost money, and what it will cost you is the nice little sum of $299.99, assuming you have an iPod Touch or iPhone. If you don’t have either of those that adds another couple hundred dollars to the already rather pricey figure. Some reports state that a 30 minute charge is only good for about five minutes worth of play time, which would definitely put a damper on any fun. But no matter how you look at the Parrot, it is clear that it is a definite innovation in RC technology.

Photo from Creative Commons

Summer 2010 “Rap-Up”

If you were out of the country or out of the loop on music this summer, have no fear. Here are some of the best releases that made up the soundtrack to the summer of 2010.

Nas & Damien Marley- Distant Relatives

Critically acclaimed, long-awaited, classic. These are three phrases that others have used to describe this album. Socially conscious and filled with a tribal sound, the duo comes as the exception to the rule in a world where violence and sex rock the airwaves. This works negatively in the same aspect as those looking for the stoner anthems of both solo artists, which aren’t found on the album. Great listen, but little replay value.

My Picks:

Is the Tea Party really something America needs?

Recently the popular Tea Party has grown larger and larger. With more members hating the current administration, a question of its necessity for America is in order. I guess to answer such a question, one must first look at the reasoning for having such protests. So far the only thing I have gotten out of the entire Tea Party movement is the fact that Americans are at a state of severe desperation. With a devastating high unemployment rate and the economy in a near purgatory-like situation, it is obvious why so many of us are gathering together to collectively shout out our pure rage.

Desperate and fearful people make excellent sheep; that is something all of us should keep in mind. What that means is that today, people are in fear of a failing America so they are looking for anyone who might have the answers to their troubles. So along come individuals such as Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and many other conservatives who give us a name we should be mad at, aka the government. They say that it

VMAs= lackluster night sprinkled with a few stars

This year’s MTV Video Music Awards were much anticipated after the craziness of last year. Last year’s VMAs had so many good performances (Jay-Z and Alicia Keys singing “Empire State of Mind”) and memorable moments (Kanye West taking the microphone from Taylor Swift). This year had the makings of another show worthy of talk for weeks to come, but sadly it fell short.

The best part of the 2010 VMAs was by far the host. Chelsea Handler has such comedic chops that I considered rolling on the floor laughing. I chose to stay in my seat for fear of missing something she might do or say. She kept the night rolling along by doing or saying the exact opposite of what you would expect from a well-behaved host, but I guess that’s why she was so entertaining. She wasn’t the same old host cracking the usual jokes, but even her jokes got old after a while.

The joke of the night was taken from last year’s VMAs. Instead of focusing on this year and what exciting things could happen, MTV chose to focus on last year’s awkward incident between Taylor Swift and Kanye West. Yes, it was an inappropriate moment thanks to Kanye West, but let’s move on. It wasn’t the end all that we should be focusing on an entire year later. The night got even weirder when Taylor Swift sang a song that she wrote about the incident. No one had heard it yet, and those of us that now have probably wish we hadn’t. Her dress looked great, but she was trying to be antiquated while it just looked sloppy. The song brought out the idea that even though the character in the song was 32, they were still an innocent person trying to grow up. Taylor Swift basically was telling Kanye West that it was ok he took the microphone from her and wanted her award to go to Beyonc