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Category Archives: Mind Uploading

Rapper Chika is here to take over hip-hop. Her strength? Vulnerability – Fast Company

Posted: March 24, 2020 at 5:12 am

If you wanted to know how the past year has been for breakout rapper Chika, just listen to the track Songs About You from her debut EP, Industry Games.

I wanted that song to be a genuine journey into my mind and where I thought I was and who Ive been, she says. Every month [from February to December] I came back to it to add something else. So you really got like a full process of my year.

What a year its been.

The 23-year-old Alabama native, ne Jane Chika Oranika, had been uploading covers and freestyling over familiar beats since 2016. But it wasnt until she stormed Twitter in 2018 with a poetic admonishment of Kanye West supporting Donald Trump that people truly sat up and listened. Praise poured in from celebrities and fellow rappers, including Ice T, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sean Diddy Combs, Leslie Jones, and more.

That wave took Chika into 2019, when she released her first official single, No Squares, in April. She made headlines a month later performing her politically charged track Richey v. Alabama on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, flaming her home state for leading the charge with the influx of anti-abortion heartbeat bills. That same month, she also appeared in Calvin Kleins #MyCalvins campaign. In June, she signed with Warner Records and announced later that year that shed soon release her first full body of work, which is now her seven-track EP Industry Games.

On Songs About You, Chika opens with being invited to Jay Zs Roc Nation pre-Grammys brunch in February 2019 and proceeds to chart her ascension in the game, tackling body image and the pressure to live up to the hype along the way.

Its a real ass song, and its the embodiment of what I wanted the EP to be, which was a snapshot of me and my life and where Ive been, Chika says. Its a coming-of-age project basically.

And Chika is coming of age during a particular time for hip-hop, especially for women.

Not since the 90s have there been so many women with diverse styles and looks being recognized across the board, which, in essence, can be traced back to Cardi Bs come-up during Nicki Minajs singular reign. The fact that two women rappers could coexist and chart equally seemed to shake the long-held mentality for some that there could be only one at a time.

Since then, rappers such as Young MA, Doja Cat, Lizzo, Tierra Whack, Rico Nasty, Dreezy, and more have migrated their talents from the corners of SoundCloud to the mainstream. Its a diverse playing field that, hopefully, is erasing the line between male and female rappers. It also presents a more promising landscape for an artist such as Chika to establish her lane.

In an ever-crowded playing field, what she feels shes bringing to hip-hop is vulnerability.

Not to shit on the past and be like, No ones ever done this, but the vulnerability, thats whats missing, she says. We parade and masquerade and talk about all the shit we have. I pride more than my flex. I would much rather talk about my feelings and get them out and help people process theirs.

Even her track Balencies, which at the start seems like shes bragging about being able to afford a luxury brand such as Balenciaga, seamlessly transitions to her grappling with the pressures and expectations of fame.

At the end of the day, the whole song is me talking about my mental health, Chika says. We kind of lost that sense of self in hip-hop, and weve created characters that people subscribe to. And I dont want to be that person.

Its without a trace of hype to say that Chika is poised to become one of the greatest rappers of her generation. Theres a heartfelt truth to her lyrical content and a timelessness to her flow that has made her a standout in the hip-hop scene. Her skills were evident back in her Twitter and Instagram freestyling days. However, Industry Games proves shes more than her viral clips. Shes in it for the long haul, and she isnt holding back.

Theres stories and lessons on this project, like I talked about losing a friend because of greed and not being appreciated and things like that, Chika says. Me as a person, Im too nice sometimes. Im like, I shouldnt put that in a song. But with this project I was like, fuck it. I deserve to tell my story and talk about what I go through.

Nothing was held back, she goes on to say. Nothing was sugar-coated. I made sure that if I was going to say once and I was going to put out this project, I was going to make sure everyone felt exactly where I was coming from.

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Coronavirus: The best and worst celebrity isolation videos – BBC News

Posted: at 5:12 am

Image caption Stars have been filming and streaming videos from self-isolation

Just like the rest of us, the world's top celebrities have all been told to stay at home during these strangest of times.

Being natural-born entertainers and creatives, though, many musicians, actors and artists have been keen to share their experiences of self-isolation.

Some of their videos have captured the collective mood of the online community, while others have landed a little wide of the mark.

We'll let you decide which is which...

To fight the spread of Covid-19, we are all being advised to wash our hands thoroughly, and leading the way in this regard is rock 'n' roll star Liam Gallagher.

The former Oasis frontman treated his followers to a series of kitchen sink re-workings of his old band's songs, such as Soap-ersonic and Champagne Soap-ernova.

He really ought to wash his mouth out too, as most of them come with a language warning. That said, Wonderwash (above) is good clean fun.

Everywhere is pretty much closed now, right? So if you can, there's never been a better time to enjoy a long soak in the bath.

The Queen of Pop, Madonna, was quick to realise this and she had another revelation in the tub too, about just how democratising a worldwide pandemic is.

"That's the thing about Covid-19. It doesn't care about how rich you are, how famous you are, how funny you are, how smart you are, where you live, how old you are, what amazing stories you can tell," the star pontificated, while filming herself naked in a milky bath full of rose petals, as you do.

"It's the great equaliser and what's terrible about it is what's great about it."

Looking after our mental health will be a key component to getting through this crisis and with that in mind another US singer, Lizzo, invited fans to indulge in a spot of musical meditation.

The session began with the signature sound of the Grammy-winner's flute before she delivered her soothing mantra.

"I think that fear can spread so much hatred and fear can spread so much negative energy and fear can spread the disease even quicker than the disease can," she said.

"When I got back to LA I noticed that the fear was heightened here. So I wanted to empower everybody and I wanted to let you guys know that we have power, you have power. You have power to eliminate fear."

Amen to that.

OK, so bedtime might be an especially tricky time for parents over the coming weeks and months, what with all the pent-up energy.

If you've already used up all of your best sleep-inducing material in week one of isolation then do not fear, as some movie stars have got your back.

US actress and activist Jennifer Garner teamed up with fellow actor Amy Adams, to tell some tales to get kids off to sleep and raise some money for charity in the process. The above edition of Save With Stories sees their Oscar-winning friend Reese Witherspoon bring Uni the Unicorn to life (no spoilers).

Aside from providing bedtime stories, domestic goddess Garner has also been dishing out some cooking classes too. So assuming you can find the right ingredients at the supermarket, why not have a go at bettering the American's English muffins.

The hip-hop sensation was raging to her 60 million plus followers, about what she felt was a lack of information and action from the US government, when compared with China - where the virus originated and now appears to be under better control.

President Donald Trump has said governors, mayors and citizens were working with "urgency and speed" in what he described as a "war against the virus".

During an explosive Instagram Live session at the weekend (so explosive we can't show it here I'm afraid) Cardi went looking for answers and, as usual, was taking no prisoners.

"When they put Wuhan, China, in quarantine they were spraying [stuff] in the streets. They were knocking on each door taking people's temperature," she noted.

"Let's say that I have the coronavirus right now, OK? How am I supposed to know I got it?"

The best advice the BBC can offer at the moment can be found here.

While we are all self-isolating - and, in many cases, working from home - we are still encouraged to take a responsible stroll outside each day, to blow away the cobwebs.

Comic actor and musician Steve Martin did precisely that and took his banjo with him.

Look how he manages to keep a safe distance of at least two metres from all the other potentially banjo-wielding walkers lurking in the shrubbery.

Inspired by scenes of quarantined Italians singing to each other on balconies, Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot shared a star-studded sing-along to John Lennon's Imagine.

Will Ferrell, Amy Adams, Kristen Wiig, Sia and Cara Delevingne all took part and clearly they all meant well. But the rich and famous collaborators were soon mocked mercilessly online by people questioning their choice of song, which imagines a utopia with "no possessions"... the type of which might be coming in handy for them round about now.

Elton John once levelled similar accusations of hypocrisy at Lennon, sending him a cover of the song with new lyrics: "Imagine six apartments, it isn't hard to do, one is full of fur coats, another's full of shoes," he paraphrased.

Thankfully, Matthew Fearon's humorous alternative version of the track, Imagine (There's No Bog Roll) - relating to the unexplained and widespread panic-buying of toilet paper - soon began doing the rounds on platforms like WhatsApp.

In the parlour game Six Degrees of Separation contestants are challenged to find the shortest path between an arbitary actor and Kevin Bacon.

The US actor was once described as being at "the centre of the Hollywood universe", as he's apparently in contact with anyone who is anyone.

Obviously we are now trying to avoid contact with people, so as a result Bacon challenged us all to name who we were staying home for and then challenge six others.

He kicked things off by choosing his wife Kyra Sedgwick.

"It's now so important to stay home and keep our distance from others if you are able," said Bacon.

"It's one way we can help prevent the spread of Coronavirus and save lives. The more of us who can, make it safer for those who can't."

In lieu of any actual concerts, singers like Coldplay's Chris Martin, Christine and the Queens, Yungblud and L Devine have been uploading interactive live performances. None of them, however, quite drummed home the health and safety message in song form as well as Neil Diamond.

The US crooner kindly offered up his karaoke classic, Sweet Caroline, as a memorable and potentially life-saving guide.

"Hands / Washing hands / Reaching out / Don't touch me / I won't touch you" sang Diamond, curled up next to an electric fire with his furry friend.

"I know we're going through a rough time right now, but I love ya," he said beforehand. "I think maybe if we sing together, we'll feel just a little bit better."

Sing along at home if you know the new words - which, of course, you now do.

Last but by no means least, singer-turned-actor Kate Nash took the time out to show that, when all of this is hopefully over, she could at the very least earn some decent dosh as a busker.

We're not saying this is the best Metallica cover you've ever heard played on a penny whistle, but we reckon it must at least be in the top one.

Follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

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NikkieTutorials Says Doctors Are "Positive" Her Mother Has Coronavirus, But They Won’t Test Her – Seventeen.com

Posted: at 5:12 am

OG beauty YouTuber Nikkie de Jager, AKA NikkieTutorials, has just shared with her followers that doctors now believe her mother has coronavirus.

Yesterday, the vlogger posted an update on Instagram Stories, sharing that her mom, known to fans as MommaTutorials, had been sick for several days and was waiting to speak with her doctor.

"This virus is not a joke. Were not 100% sure that it is corona that she has, but she has all the symptoms and shes getting a she has an appointment later today in like an hour in a half with the doctors to see if its really the virus. Im f*cking scared," Nikkie said, with tears in her eyes.

Following the appointment, Nikkie confirmed that doctors do believe her mother has coronavirus and have sent her home to rest.

"Her lungs sounded clean, they are pretty convinced that she has the virus, but they dont test any longer," she told viewers. "So now she has to go back home and sleep, rest, and get well on her own, unless she gets a higher fever or if she gets shorter of breath, thats all she can do."

Later, Nikkie took to Twitter to explain the situation further. Apparently, testing is being saved for those with severe cases due to a shortage of tests.

"Scary morning... MamaTutorials had been sick for quite some days and it got worse," Nikkie wrote. "This morning she finally met with her doctor and they confirmed she has a virus. her lungs are still clean and she needs to rest and heal at home."

"In The Netherlands they dont test on Corona anymore so theyre positive its that... but they wont test cause we dont have enough. they save them for the elderly and people in critical conditions," she continued.

Though Nikkie is obviously worried for her mother, the influencer is trying her best to occupy her mind and get back to her normal routine.

She'll be uploading a new video today, which sounds like the perfect excuse for you to stay home and watch it. Thanks!

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Altered Carbon: 5 Things From This Future We Hope Become A Reality (& 5 We Hope Stay Fictional Forever) – Screen Rant

Posted: at 5:12 am

The journey of Takeshi Kovacs through the futuristic science fiction world of Altered Carbon is a winding one, to say the least. Over the course of two seasons, his mind has inhabited three different bodies. At one point, he was in two at the same time, something incredibly illegal in his world. The ability to avoid death by transferring your mind into a new body is an incredible advancement in technology. But it is by no means the only one.

RELATED:10 Shows To Watch If You Like Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon is filled with amazing technology that seems like it could make life much better or much, much worse.

At the core of Altered Carbon is the cortical stack. This technology was left behind by an alien species and is made from non-terrestrial metal. It allows humans to upload their consciousness into another body. Originally, people used this technology to travel long distances through space by transferring their minds from one body to another on a faraway planet, a process called Needlecasting. It was adapted to allow people who could afford the process and a body to transfer into to essentially become immortal. Cortical stacks and the necessary tech to support their use could change the game for humanity.

The use of cortical stacks and the ubiquitous transferring of human consciousness changed how people viewed their own bodies. They became the equivalent of clothes that you shed at the end of the day before you put on something new. For people who could afford the process, changing bodies became almost as frequent and as easy as changing clothes.

RELATED:Altered Carbon: 5 Fan Theories About Season 2 That Make Too Much Sense (& 5 That Are Just Bad)

While the term sleeve can mean many things in Altered Carbon, it speaks to the disposability of the fragile human form. For some people, this could be a good thing, but for others, it represents a loss of connection to a large part of what makes people human.

For those who could not afford to Needlecast into a human sleeve, there was always the option of using a synth. Thesebiorobotic androids could change their appearance depending on the consciousness that inhabited them. The downside to a synth was their muted senses and the side effect of re-sleeving into one too many times, also known as insanity. This is due to the jarring nature of the transfer process. While the synths in Altered Carbon aren't exactly foolproof, the technology has huge potential if refined. Upgrading the sensory inputs would be a good start. But once that is done, synths could give new life to the entire process.

Regardless of the body his consciousness currently inhabits, Takeshi Kovacs is a dangerous man. His training, experience and skills make him one of the most feared fighters on any world. Add into that all of the weapons he carries, sometimes in a small child's backpack, and you have the recipe for chaos.

RELATED:Altered Carbon: 10 Things The Second Season Does Better Than The First

One of the most dangerous weapons in his arsenal is the Ingram-40 Flechette Pistol. The experimental gun magnetically fires armor-piercing homing rounds from a ten round clip and can recall them to the gun. This effectively gives it infinite rounds, something Takeshi uses to his advantage frequently. This is a weapon that definitely needs to not exist.

Trying to produce effective and realistic virtual reality has been a goal for many companies in real life. While they are getting closer and closer, virtual reality in Altered Carbon is even bigger and more beautiful than many could imagine. It is so thorough and so realistic that almost anything is possible inside of it. Virtual reality can be as a means of storing a consciousness. It can be used as a means of communication. There's even a specific type of psychological therapy that can only be conducted through virtual reality. Unfortunately, a variety of nefarious groups also use VR to torture people, killing them over and over until they get what they want. But you can't let a few bad apples spoil the bunch.

With any advance in technology comes questionable usage of it. As an example, people using virtual reality to torture victims for information. But it's not just criminals using advanced technology for questionable reasons. The police are doing it, too. In Altered Carbon, the Bay City Police Department have access to a piece of technology called a Hawkeye. It's a tracking device that they use to follow suspects, which seems okay on the surface of the situation.

RELATED:Altered Carbon: 10 Times The Show Strayed From The Original Story

But Kristin Ortega of the BCPD also used it to track Takeshi Kovacs when he re-sleeved into Elias Ryker. Keeping an eye on your boyfriend's body while someone else walks around in it was most likely not the intended use for the Hawkeye, and there are a lot of other ways to abuse this tech.

The Online Network Interface is almost as integral to the world of Altered Carbon as the cortical stack, and possibly cooler. An ONI is a device that's inserted into all sleeves, regardless of their origin. It can be controlled from almost any piece of technology, including something as small as a special wristband. ONIs are the pinnacle of easy access to information. They can download and upload data, take pictures, record videos, and a lot more. But it does have its weaknesses. A sleeve can be coded to be invisible to an ONI and its recording features. Still, the ONI, or something like it, is a future evolution of current smartphone technology.

The problem with technology in the future is that someone always seems to be watching you with it, especially when you're someone like Takeshi Kovacs. Everyone wants to keep an eye on what you're doing at all times, even at extremely inappropriate times.

RELATED:Altered Carbon: 5 Times Fans Hated The Show (5 They Loved)

Several of the groups following him around use a bug. That's not a bug like a small, hidden microphone. It is a small remote-controlled device resembling a fly that records and transmits everything it sees. Again, at some really inappropriate timesin the case of Kovacs.

Artificial intelligence is perpetually on the verge of becoming a reality. In the world of Altered Carbon, AI is a reality and has been put to incredible use. Specifically, to run hotels. AI hotels were once all the rage but have fallen on hard times. After being resleeved, Takeshi finds his way to The Raven Hotel, a Edgar Allen Poe inspired place operated by an AI called Poe. He has become one of Takeshi's closest allies since being revived. The idea of a thematically specific hotel run by artificial intelligence has the potential to be extremely interesting. Well, as long as things don't take a HAL 9000 turn.

Something nicknamed meth rarely turns out to be a good thing. While the concept of cortical stacks and uploading your consciousness into new bodies to survive seems appealing, Altered Carbon certainly shows what happens once that system is corrupted by money. Named after the long living biblical character, Methuselah, meths are extremely wealthy people who re-sleeve constantly, often into clones of their original bodies. They even maintain satellites to automatically upload their consciousness to and download them to a new body. It essentially makes them immortal, assuming nothing goes wrong with the process.

NEXT:Altered Carbon Season 2: 10 Things That Didn't Make Sense

NextBrooklyn Nine-Nine: 10 Reasons Jake and Charles Aren't Real Friends

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ROBERT PRICE: Kern County schools chief: Well be better when this is over – Tehachapi News

Posted: at 5:12 am

Until a month or so ago, Mary Barlow couldve said shed seen all this before the poverty, the uncertainty, the disconnectedness. Shed lived it as a child and shed witnessed it as a grade-school teacher trying to understand how in America a boy can walk to school every day in footwear with as much duct tape as actual shoe.

Then this happened. This science fiction movie. This health crisis of a type we once thoughtlessly, routinely, dismissed as Third World.

A great equalizer has descended upon us, and now we struggle with the most basic of hierarchical needs: not just our health, not just our food, but our sense of physical and psychological belonging.

Coincidentally, those are some of the same concerns of a 21st-century school superintendent serving a poverty-challenged population. A superintendent like Barlow, for example.

Those priorities have taken on a new urgency now that the COVID-19 pandemic has driven students back into their homes some of them with the resources and family support structures to continue learning effectively and eating healthily, and some without.

Kern County is one of the nations poorest places; a third of its 190,000 K-12 students live below the poverty line. The directive that they transition to online learning, en masse and overnight, carries the kind of daunting urgency that hearkens back to the first moonshot.

Tens of thousands of local students lack devices, such as laptops, to access the coursework teachers in Kern Countys 47 school districts will be uploading for them from now until this crisis abates, whenever that may be. Tens of thousands have no internet connectivity. And a substantially overlapping group have neither the devices nor the connectivity. But how many, and where are they? Barlow's team has been working furiously to find out.

Which is something Barlow wanted to know anyway. In a very real sense, this health, economic and logistical emergency is furthering that goal.

Fortunately, Barlow has benefited from what she calls unprecedented collaboration and resource sharing among the county's nearly four dozen districts. They all worked well together before, but now this.

This is just accelerating something that would happen naturally, in my mind, Barlow said last week from the fifth floor of her eerily empty 17th Street building in downtown Bakersfield. There is an opportunity here for us to look at what distance learning looks like. ... And so we are just accelerating that (challenge), pushing the envelope at warp speed, because we absolutely need to keep educating our children.

Theres no way to accurately extrapolate from the number of Kern County children in poverty perhaps 60,000 precisely how many lack the tools, broadly defined, to bridge this health crisis from a safe distance, but Barlows team, led by technology task force captain Anthony Davis, has spent the past few weeks, and the past seven days in particular, looking for those children and equipment to serve them.

Weve had folks on different floors (of KCSOS headquarters), over the weekend, coming together from across (school) districts and across our own County Office of Education, working 12 and 14 hours a day to figure this out, Barlow said. Then taking their laptops home with them and doing additional research. Reaching across the country to connect with vendors ... to deliver this (package of resources) to the kids of Kern County.

That has meant, among many other needs, ordering 5,000 Chromebook laptops through Costco and 2,000 AT&T mi-fi internet hotspot connections, at a cost of many hundreds of thousands of dollars. Another great cost: Sleep, as in not enough.

We are working on now finding philanthropists who will help us pay for these, but in the meantime we're paying for it just to expedite this thing and get it going, Barlow said.

Theyre getting there. Thirty-six of the countys 47 school districts have reported their equipment needs to the KCSOS.

Davis, the tech task force leader, reports that, as of now, the KCSOS believes it needs 11,000 additional Chromebooks. Some 5,000, at between $150 and $450 apiece, depending on model and vendor, have been ordered, at a total cost of $700,000. The KCSOS also has ordered 2,000 mobile hotspots at a total cost of $300,000 plus between $25,000 and $80,000 per month for service. Davis says he has located about 20,000 additional Chromebooks and is negotiating the price of 3,000 more hotspots.

This, in an environment where virtually every school district in America in the world, most likely is hot in the pursuit of some of the same resources.

In addition to the mobile hotspot distribution, the KCSOS will make use of wired buses, which would park in different neighborhoods long enough for students to download and upload homework assignments each week. The Kern High School District has 15 such buses, and the KCSOS six and it is looking to outfit seven more.

In addition, the county of Kern has several hotspot devices mounted in mobile carts that can be deployed in various locations around the county, perhaps in parks or other drive-through areas.

A face-to-face experience for teachers and students is one of the objectives, and Barlow thinks the KCSOS can pull it off by creating virtual classrooms each using an on-screen matrix that shows the face of every student.

You know how important it is for those kiddos to see their teacher or their colleagues their peers, their other friends, in their classroom? she said. Can you imagine seeing everybody's face up on the screen after you've been away from your class for a long time?

Barlow is as concerned for the high achievers, who as a group will almost surely find their way out of this, no matter how desperate things get, as she is for the most destitute. But it is the latter group with whom she most closely identifies.

Barlow, the eldest daughter of a paranoid schizophrenic but loving father and a mother who was at times hard-pressed to keep it all together, grew up in poverty herself. The family of four moved often, all across the country, and made do with what they had.

Some attach descriptors to themselves that reflect ethnicity or race. Barlow, Italian-Irish with traces of assorted other, prefers this: Resourceful.

We had times where we had a roof over our head and food on the table and, for me and my three sisters, it was great, said Barlow, 57. And there were times when it was whatever we had on our backs. Wed jump into the vehicle ... and wed move.

That sort of raising was an education unto itself.

I would be the one who answered the phone when the bill collectors would call. I know what repossession means. I definitely know how to pawn things. I'm very familiar with how to stand in the commodity foods line and get those big ol blocks of cheese I still love them today. I was the oldest I could make dinner with masa harina, make my own tortillas, use that free commodities cheese and peanut butter, and get you through a week without any problem.

She saw much of the same sort of poverty in the Kern River Valley, where she taught grade school for five years.

I was an account executive with Pacific Bell down in Southern California and then we moved to Kernville. ... When we arrived, I looked around and said, Well, I don't think I'm going to be working in the telecommunications field any longer. So I went back to school (at Cal State Bakersfield) and became a teacher.

I noticed that children were coming to school wearing just T-shirts during the winter, coming to school with their shoes duct-taped together so the soles would stay attached. They hadnt eaten their last meal had been the day before, at school. I was observing great need in my ... third-grade classroom.

Seeing that need prompted her to write a successful Healthy Start grant proposal, and a third career was born education administrator. She earned her master's and Ph.D. at the University of La Verne, and off she went.

In 2017 she succeeded Christine Lizardi Frazier as county schools superintendent and set herself to the task of continuing Fraziers work bringing Kern Countys poverty-compromised population into the mainstream. She oversees, in some fashion, 278 schools and 80 sites throughout Kern County that provide support for specific at-risk and special-circumstance student populations, as well as preschools and Valley Oaks charter school.

She thought she had seen every possible challenge not just outrageous poverty but also bullying, in-home abuse, sex, drugs, violence and general dysfunction.

We have this immediate crisis, which will hopefully be shorter rather than longer in terms of when we emerge from it, Barlow said. Ultimately, we will be better than we were when we started absolutely we will.

We will be better at knowing how to use technology for instruction, even if we're uncomfortable with it (now). How we work, how we interact with one another, how we provide social supports and how we provide consult for all the support services that normally would be delivered at the school site. We will be better when this is over.

Two weeks into the crisis, the county schools office has made great strides. But theres more work to be done. Much, much more.

Barlow, thanks to a willing and able team, intends to get there. She can sleep later.

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Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 review: It’s everything I wish Wear OS would be – Neowin

Posted: at 5:12 am

I've reviewed my fair share of Wear OS smartwatches, and while the designs and hardware is often fantastic, they always leave something to be desired. It's not the OEMs' faults either; that's all on Google and Qualcomm. One thing that I haven't dove into is Samsung's lineup of smartwatches, mainly because I don't often use Samsung smartphones.

But for my Galaxy S20+ 5G review, I really wanted to try out the Galaxy Watch Active2 to see what Samsung has to offer. Samsung uses Tizen, so this is a completely different experience from Wear OS, although it does work with any Android phone.

As it turns out, it's everything that I wish Wear OS was. Samsung's Exynos chip is fast, and the software has pleasant and consistent animations. The hardware is solid, with a beautiful curved glass round body and a Super AMOLED display. It also adds Samsung's Touch Bezel, and if you go for the stainless steel model, 4G LTE.

44x44x10.9mm, 30g (44g for LTE model)

The chassis comes in aluminum or stainless steel. The aluminum variant is Wi-Fi only, while the stainless steel model is cellular.

There's also a smaller model with a 1.2-inch display. The screen resolution is the same, so it has a higher pixel density, although it does have a smaller battery at 247mAh.

Samsung's Galaxy Watch Active2 is probably the sexiest smartwatch on the market. The company really did a great job with it. The chassis comes in either aluminum or stainless steel, and you can get it in Aqua Black/Black, Cloud Silver/Silver, or Pink Gold/Gold. As noted above, the aluminum ones are Wi-Fi only, while stainless steel comes with cellular.

I went with Cloud Silver aluminum, sacrificing a fair bit of style while opting not to spend the extra $150 for cellular connectivity that I won't use. Note that compared to an Apple Watch, this is an incredibly inexpensive device.

The aluminum models have a matte finish on the body, and it's also lighter than the 44g stainless steel model, coming in at 30g. There are just two buttons on the side, with the top one serving as a home button and the bottom one acting as a back button.

It uses standard 20mm bands that are easy to replace with the pin mechanism that's common in smartwatches. It's a silicone band, as you'd expect from a sporty device like the lighter aluminum model, although the stainless steel one does come with a leather band. Naturally, you can swap them out, get third-party bands, and play around with it.

The bottom of the device includes your standard heart rate sensor, but one thing that you'll notice is that there are no charging pins. Yes, this smartwatch actually supports wireless charging, something that's something of a rarity these days. The only other current smartwatch I've used with the feature is the Apple Watch.

I really want to praise Samsung for this though, because charging pins suck. Yes, I said it. They get dirty after you wear the watch on your sweaty wrist for a time, and they require cleaning to properly charge your device. That's just not a problem with wireless charging.

With a minimal design and a round chassis on the Galaxy Watch Active2, even the display is beautiful. It's a 360x360 Super AMOLED display, and if you've ever used a modern Samsung flagship smartphone, then you know how pretty its Super AMOLED screens are. The colors are vibrant, and the pixel density doesn't show any pixelation.

This is the 44mm version too. It's worth noting that the 40mm model is also 360x360, so it does have a higher pixel density.

Tizen picks up the slack left by Wear OS. I was always skeptical about Google's non-Android smartwatch efforts, because of a lack of Google services. It's actually pretty great though, and it's the first round smartwatch I've used that doesn't feel like a square peg in a round hole.

The app selection screen displays icons in a circle, and you can scroll through them using the Touch Bezel. Samsung extended the touch area beyond the screen, letting you use the bezel for just that. You'll find multiple pages of app icons, as you can see from the three dots in the image above.

It's all pretty straightforward, although I found that it can get confusing to remember where an app is located. It's really not something that I access very much, so it's not a muscle memory thing like it would be on a smartphone.

Samsung does have its own app store, something that's important in making this work with all Android devices, rather than just Samsung phones. Keep in mind that you will have to install some Samsung software on a non-Samsung device. It has a pretty wide range of apps too, which kind of surprised me. If you want GPS, there's no Google Maps, but you can use HERE Maps.

I'll also note that the app selection isn't quite as wide as Wear OS. I'm OK with that though. It has the apps that I need on a smartwatch.

And of course, you get Samsung Pay. Here's the bad news though. It's lacking the best feature of Samsung Pay, which is the ability for it to work with magnetic strip terminals. Unfortunately, this only works with NFC.

One thing that I found strange about Samsung's smartwatch implementation is that it doesn't automatically turn on notifications for new apps. I grew to appreciate this though, not getting slammed with notifications whenever Best Buy is having a sale or when OneDrive wants to tell me that it's uploading a file. Notifications should be opt in, rather than opt out.

What really impressed me about Samsung's OS though is just how fluid everything feels. The animations are smooth, things feel snappy, and there's even a little "Good morning" animation when you first take it off the charger when you wake up.

This isn't the feeling that I get with Wear OS, which is often inconsistent and wonky. I'm always impressed with Wear OS hardware from companies like Fossil, but on the software side, it always feels like it's lacking.

Both performance and battery life are another reason why I love the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2. It uses a 1.15GHz dual-core Samsung Exynos 9110, so it's not using an off-the-shelf Qualcomm part. And let's not forget that Wear OS smartwatches have been using what's essentially the same chip since the platform was introduced in 2014.

No, really. The first Android Wear smartwatches shipped with a Snapdragon 400, a chipset made for lower mid-tier smartphones. It was a quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 chip, as was Qualcomm's first wearable chipset, the Snapdragon Wear 2100. The current generation, the Snapdragon Wear 3100, is also Cortex-A7. There have been some minor improvements over that time, but the architecture remains the same.

The Exynos 9110 is Cortex-A53, a massive performance improvement over Cortex-A7. This is the chip that Qualcomm should have made, frankly, a while ago. It's also 64-bit, while the Snapdragon Wear 3100 is still 32-bit.

As I mentioned above, everything on the Galaxy Watch Active2 just feels smooth, and I kind of love it.

Battery life didn't disappoint either. I found it to be on par with an Apple Watch, which is really saying something. You can easily stretch it to two days if you want, although I just charge it overnight.

As I said right in the title, this is what Wear OS should be. If only Google and Qualcomm put as much into Wear OS and Snapdragon Wear as Samsung did into Tizen and Exynos, the Android smartwatch ecosystem would be a better place. But luckily, we do have Samsung for that.

Not only do I enjoy the software, but I love the hardware. This is a sexy smartwatch, with a minimal aluminum chassis and a stunning curved glass Super AMOLED display. And if you want to go for something that's even sexier, go for the shiny stainless steel model and make use of cellular connectivity and double the RAM.

My two main issues are that the app selection isn't quite as wide as that of Wear OS, and that Samsung Pay doesn't support Magnetic Stripe Terminal. Seriously, that's the best part of Samsung Pay in general, and with Samsung phones, it's enough to make me comfortable with leaving my wallet at home. If it was on the watch, I'd be able to do the same with another Android phone.

I think that the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 is a solid buy. If you're looking for a smartwatch to use with an Android phone, this is the one to get.

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Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 review: It's everything I wish Wear OS would be - Neowin

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Exams postponed, schools and colleges shut, here are 5 things students can do at home – Hindustan Times

Posted: at 5:12 am

Universities and colleges around the world have been shut temporarily, and most of the students have been requested to vacate the premises due to the coronavirus outbreak. A number of exams and recruitment tests have also been postponed or cancelled.

The first and foremost thing to keep in mind at such times is to avoid panic. All the exams will be rescheduled for a later date when the situation becomes better. The universities and schools will be reopened, and necessary steps will be taken to cover the syllabus.

If you want to utilise your time while being in self-isolation here are a few tips that can be helpful for students:

1.Prepare well for exams: If you werent well-prepared for the upcoming exam, the pandemic has given you a chance to sit back at home and do some revision.

2. Learn through e-learning apps: Unable to go out to buy books or attend classes? Well, there are a number of e-learning apps that can help you study at the comfort of your home. These online e-learning apps have qualified teachers to make your experience fruitful.

3. E-libraries: Online libraries such as JStor have given free access of their articles and researches to students during the coronavirus outbreak.

4. Develop a new hobby: Have you ever felt that the pressure of study doesnt give you enough time to develop a new hobby? Unleash the creative being in you now. You can learn to play an instrument, make sketches or take some time out to clean your house.

5. Watch documentaries: There are a quite many noteworthy documentaries available online which can help you understand complex matters. Many websites are uploading the streaming content for free, take some time out to widen your horizon of knowledge.

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Exams postponed, schools and colleges shut, here are 5 things students can do at home - Hindustan Times

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Women filmmakers with big dreams shine through The A.V. Clubs coverage of the SXSW that wasn’t – The A.V. Club

Posted: at 5:12 am

From left: Freeland, She Dies Tomorrow, I Used To Go Here

Normally, there are two ways to cover a film festival. One is to treat it like any other work week, responsibly blocking out time to get all your writing done and going to bed at a reasonable hour. The other is to push your body to its limit, getting up for early-morning press screenings and then staying out partying or, as one might put it to oneself, networkinguntil last call. The approach you choose is between you, your deadlines, and your editor, should you start missing those deadlines. But this years SXSW left attendees little choice in the matter, by becoming the first in a series of film-industry dominoes to fall after a forceful push from COVID-19.

And sure, you could stay up all night drinking alone in your apartment and then drag yourself out of bed and run to the living room at 8 a.m. to watch another film. But thats a punishing routine under normal circumstances. And in an environment where waking up with a slight tickle in your throat is enough to send many into a panic spiral, being exhausted with a hangover is less than appealing. And so, after a whirlwind series of events that started with the SXSW cancellation and ended with The A.V. Clubs parent company sending us home to work remotely for the foreseeable future, we found ourselves self-quarantining with a pile of online screeners. And so, the lonely, cozy, unventful remote watch party hereby dubbed Couch x Couchwest was born.

Not every film from SXSW is being made available for online review: Some are holding out for festivals scheduled for the summer and fall, and others are still figuring out what they want to do. And it is a risk to move forward with remote coverageif a film is reviewed that very few people are able to see, how does that affect its reception when it does finally become available to the public? Honestly, nobody is sure right now. This is an unprecedented situation for festival programmers and publicists and critics, as it is for everyone else.

From where The A.V. Club sits, the films that would have been our marquee reviews coming out of SXSWthe world premiere of David Lowerys The Green Knight, for example, or the Kumail Nanjiani-Issa Rae vehicle The Lovebirdsdo not need our remote coverage. But then there are the small indie films that had pinned their creative dreams on a SXSW premiere, films that normally depend on sites like ours to amplify them in festival coverage. Those are the films that are jumping into the unknown and uploading screeners to the online library SXSW created last week, and we hope that we can help their creators out by shining a little light on these otherwise rudderless films.

We watched 11 feature films in total for Couch x Couchwest, both through the SXSW portal and via email submissions. In the end, a handful stood out, all of which happened to be directed or co-directed by women. And so we decided to run with it, becausealthough the worlds mind is on other things right nowit is still Womens History Month. Add these films to your watch list, for warmer and freer days ahead.

Had SXSW gone forward, Kris Reys (formerlyKrisSwanberg) fourth feature I Used To Go Here (Grade: B) would have been hailed as a breakout comedy akin to last years buzziest SXSW title, Olivia Wildes Booksmart. This film is less self-consciously progressive than Wildes, though, and although it does feature a clique of effortlessly cool college kids including the dorky, aptly named Tall Brandon (Brandon Daley)this time theyre not at the center of the story. That distinction belongs to Kate (Gillian Jacobs), a 35-year-old writer whose life seems enviable on the outside: She just published her first novel, complete with a smug nod to her domestic bliss on the dust jacket. The thing is, in the time between Kate penning that bio and now, her fiancee dumped her. Adding insult to injury, the book is selling so poorly that her publisher cancels her book tourand thats before a negative New York Times review sinks any possibility of a rebound. Oh, and she hates the cover art.

In short, Kate is vulnerable, leading her to accept an invitation from her undergraduate writing teacher David (Jemaine Clement) to come give a talk at her old college in downstate Illinois. Adulation from a handful of starry-eyed undergrads isnt enough to satiate Kates neediness, however, and so she entangles herself in a very messy love triangle with Hugo (Josh Wiggins), the teenager who now lives in her old house. The setup is vaguely reminiscent of Old School, but the execution is more in line with Young Adult, full of sharp dialogue lampooning male sexual entitlement and subtle visual gags that underline Kates immaturity as well as the existential absurdity of her dilemma. (A scene where she holds up her book next to a lineup of friends posing with their pregnant bellies is equally cringeworthy and hilarious.)

But while Reys screenplay sets her up for success, its Jacobs who makes it sparkle, playing Kate with enough confidence that she comes across as a real, flawed human being and not an aw-shucks caricature of a mess. Like many comedies, visually I Used To Go Here isnt especially memorable. But Rey and Jacobs more than make up for it with charm and painfully relatable wit, and backed by a producing team of indie all-stars that includes Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Tacconea.k.a. The Lonely Islandtheres still hope of this film hitting theaters when they reopen.

In a funhouse reversal of this dynamic, She Dies Tomorrow (B+)another auteur effort pairing two indie-film darlings, Upstream Color and Pet Sematarys Amy Seimetz and frequent Alex Ross Perry collaborator Kate Lyn Sheilhas inventive, invigorating visual panache to spare, even when its screenplay is enigmatic to the point of obfuscation. The film opens with a quarantine-worthy scenario, as Amy (Shiel) putters around her house, picking out and putting on a sequin gown as bombastic classical music blares in the background before shopping for leather jackets (and, more curiously, cremation urns) online. When her concerned friend Jane (Jane Adams) comes by and finds Amy blankly standing in her backyard holding a leaf blower, we learn two key details: Amy is an alcoholic whos fallen off the wagon, and shes gripped by the unshakeable, eerily calm belief that she will die the next day.

The origins and function of this belief riff on a cosmic version of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers by way of It Follows, as everyone who Amy encounters catches this belief likewell, like a virus. The pandemic here is existential and emotional, as first Jane, then everyone she meets, is visited by a psychedelic onslaught of color, sound, and pummeling strobe light. Its sort of like being abducted by aliens while high on LSD, and it turns all who see and hear it into hollow shells of doom. And thats totally terrifying and disorienting, an effect that builds until Michelle Rodriguez intoning about death next to a swimming pool slowly filling up with blood seems about right for the situation. The film does lose its way a bit as it wanders through vast expanses of dread in search of an ending. But in terms of originality, Seimetzs second feature-length outing as a writer-director (her first, Sun Dont Shine, debuted at SXSW in 2012) is unmatched in the films we watched for this years virtual fest.

Meanwhile, with the gorgeous, misty hills of Northern California adding priceless production value, writer-directors Mario Furloni and Kate McLeans Freeland (B) was without a doubt the most visually accomplished of the bunch. Krisha Fairchildthe same Krisha who lent her name to Trey Edward Shults debut, Krisha (2015)stars as Devi, a Humboldt County pot farmer struggling to keep up with the complicated bureaucratic tangle of legalization. Riding the line between drama and thriller as Devis predicament becomes more dire, Freeland depends even more heavily on its lead performance than I Used To Go Here. Mainly, thats because its screenplay falters in its attempts to expand Devis world beyond the films core conflict. But Fairchild is magnificent in the role, giving a layered performance that evokes deep pathos for this woman left behind now that the communal values once associated with her crop of choice have been replaced by the capitalist power structures she retreated to the hills to escape in the first place.

Growing pot in the mountains far away from the prying eyes of the law is one version of the American dream. Another is changing the face of a quintessentially American junk food, like the subject of Alice Gus documentary The Donut King (B-). As an energetic montage at the beginning of the film states, Los Angeles has a much higher percentage of donut shops than any other city in the U.S.one for every 7,000 residents, as opposed to the national average of one per 30,000. And almost all of those donut shops are owned by Cambodian people, whose market dominance is so complete that even East Coast staple Dunkin Donuts struggled to break into Southern California in the 90s.

Remarkablyalmost miraculouslythis is all the work of one man: Ted Ngoy, who sponsored hundreds of refugees to come to the U.S. and gave them turnkey loans to run their own donut shops in the 70s and 80s. The first part of Gus documentary celebrates Ngoy, as well as the ingenuity and tireless work ethic of immigrants in general, with a vivid hybrid of biographical documentary and food porn set to colorful animation and a hip-hop beat. In fact, The Donut King plays much like an extended episode of Ugly Delicious, before diving into darker territory in its second half that actively dismantles the myths it spent the first hour building. And although this abrupt turn destabilizes the films structure in a way it never quite recovers from, it also makes The Donut King much more than simple food pornnot that theres anything wrong with that, particularly when creative, mouthwatering treats like cronuts and emoji donuts are so lovingly showcased.

The Donut King is just one of several women-helmed documentaries about dreamers struggling against impossible odds screening virtually through SXSW: Film fans will find Cathryne Czubek and Hugo Perezs Wakaliwood documentary Once Upon A Time In Uganda of special interest. And for music fans theres Dark City Beneath The Beat, a stylish exploration of Baltimores club underground from director TT The Artist, as well as Tomboy, a documentary following four female drummers from different generations by Lindsay Lindenbaum.

Its surreal to think about how quickly such simple pleasures as going out for a donut or sitting down in a crowded movie theater have disappeared from the daily lives of so many people around the world. And as the industry adapts to the new normal of social distancing and shelter in place orders, its the scrappy ground-up filmmakers who are most at risk of having their already unstable livelihoods decimated. The future of SXSW itself is uncertain at this point, as the festival lays off employees amid a reported $355 million loss for the city of Austin following the cancellation of this years festival. But the dream of standing in the front of that crowded theater, taking in the applause that marks the culmination of years of hard work? SXSW or no SXSW, pre-or post-COVID-19, thats going to be difficult to destroy.

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Women filmmakers with big dreams shine through The A.V. Clubs coverage of the SXSW that wasn't - The A.V. Club

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There’s Something Hiding in Petscop – EGMNOW

Posted: at 5:12 am

Do you remember being born? Is there such a thing as a curse that can change your past? Can a closed door become an open door without actually opening?

Well, no. Obviously not. Those questions are absurd. Unless youre watching Petscop.

When youre watching Petscop, the very fact that these questions have been asked hints at a whole world of mysteryone that has kept a dedicated community of viewers hanging on every word, studying every frame, and piecing together whats been treated as a giant, mystifying puzzle.

Something like Petscop couldnt really have existed at any previous point in time. Its a series of videos that, at first, appear to be just amateurish uploads of footage from an unreleased video game, complete with halting, unpracticed voiceovers by the player. Its the kind of thing you might stumble across during a deep dive into YouTube, among the thousands of Lets Plays and game analyses that get uploaded on a daily basis.

However, it doesnt take long to realize that theres something different about Petscop, and over the course of its 24 videos, it slowly turns into a surreal, haunting, and often unnerving journey, filled with themes of abuse, trauma, and obsession.

To say that Petscop isnt a real game is mostly accurate. Nobody ever tried to develop a PS1 game by that name, and all the creators, players and testers hinted at in the videos are entirely fictional.

But on Tony Domenicos computer, theres a file called Petscop.exe. Everything seen in the Petscop videos comes from that file.

Every aspect of Petscopits programming, graphics, music, voiceovers, and recordingswas created by Domenico. He says it all started after he watched a talk called Stop Drawing Dead Fish, which discussed how computer-based art can be alive in ways that drawings and animations cant.

Afterwards, he had a dream about a livestreamed puppet show that used a game engine. Dreams being what they are, Domenico has since forgotten the details, but the concept came up again during a conversation with a friend about possible creepy projects that they could work on.

First he was talking about the idea of animating a Lets Play by hand, Domenico said. Then, as we talked about it more, it became, What if you actually made the game?

The more Domenico thought about it, the more he realized that he had ideas for what a game of that sort would be like.

His dream wasnt the only influence. Domenico says that Petscop drew a lot of inspiration from creepypastas such as Ben Drowned, a story regularly shared around the internet about a bootleg copy of The Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask. While playing, the narrator experiences a series of strange events that at first seem to be minor bugs, but as they increase in scope and bleed into real life, he gradually realizes that the game may be haunted by its previous owner. Petscop also drew inspiration from Marble Hornets, a YouTube series that follows the aftermath of a low-budget movie shoot during which the filmmakers ran afoul of the supernatural creature Slender Man.

Domenico also noted that movies by surrealist filmmaker David Lynch had a huge impact on his work. Inland Empire is probably the largest single influence, he said. You know, this whole thing of being trapped in a cursed film, you can make certain connections.

He also drew on some psychological experiments and therapeutic practices. For example, a clear reference is made to the Strange Situation procedure, which is used to observe the attachment between children and their caregivers. Theres also a scene that involves playing a board game with what appears to be a school counselora strategy that therapists sometimes use to analyze a young patients behavior.

It was all stuff I read about years prior, said Domenico. I may have read about them further as I was starting, though I dont remember now.

On top of all that, he started working on the project because, well, it sounded kind of easy.

I hadnt finished anything substantial in a while and wanted something undaunting to get back into it, Domenico said. I guess it started as kind of a shallow thing.

Of course, the last word any Petscop fan would use to describe the series is shallow. Thats something thats made clear in in the very first video, where you hear the nervous-sounding voice of the character Paul, who explains to an unnamed person why hes uploading the videos.

This is just to, uh, prove to you that Im not lying about this game that I found, he says. Im just gonna walk you through everything that Ive seen so far, and uh obviously it will be exactly as I described it, because this is it.

In a normal Lets Play, the style of dialogue would be a turn-offan indication that Paul is nothing but a rote amateur who has no idea how to make a video interesting for his audience. But in the context of Petscop, it adds a thick layer of realism that sucks the viewer in. Most of us, if we tried to upload something to YouTube, would sound like Paul: stumbling over sentences, struggling to put into words exactly whats on our minds.

Its never outright explained who Paul is talking to, but theres clearly a backstory between the two characters, with hints scattered throughout the series that are left for the viewer to piece together on their own. Thats how it goes with a lot of things in Petscop: Nothing is said explicitly, but there are plenty of breadcrumbs that imply something larger, and darker, at play.

I like stuff that leaves a lot of room for the imagination, Domenico said. The way I thought about it was, Im only showing a slice of things. I hoped to get across a feeling like theres a lot more here, something strange and complex happening in the background, and you just arent getting a full view of it.

What is shownin the first video, at leastis footage of a strange, brightly-colored PlayStation 1 game about catching unusual pets inside an abandoned facility. Catching these pets requires the player to solve a number of puzzles, such as sliding a bucket under a living rain cloud or slipping into a cage after flipping a switch that slowly closes the gate.

The puzzles themselves are a little unusual, but they follow a sort of logic that a player could reasonably figure out given enough time to experiment.

If you pay enough attention, however, youll notice that somethings off about a number of little details. A sign laments that we have failed to remove all of the Pets from their homes. Another sign tells the player not to be discouraged if they run from you. A trophy calls one Pet a real champ for its refusal to leave its cage.

To make sense of this, Domenico said, you need to try to get into the mind of the fictional games developer.

That beginning part of Petscop was still created by someone, Domenico said. Thats a really important thing. Everything is there because somebody decided to put it there. And so you can wonder, who was it, and what was their state of mind?

Any unease caused by these strange elements are soon found to be justified by the end of the first video, where its revealed that the game contains an entire hidden world that dwarfs whats on the surface.

Its a massive, dark plane, holding mysteries and impossible puzzles that reveal a story about kidnappings, deaths, and an unknown group of conspirators that seems to be forcing Paul to keep publishing videos.

Petscop wasnt shared to the public until after the first four videos were uploaded, and there was already a lot to digest in that first wave. Its creepy, though not in the way that threatens anyone directly. Its kind of a slow burn that strongly implies that theres something horribly wrong. Its a kind of horror that Domenico wishes there were more of.

Every October Im like, heres that mood again, and I get kind of excited about it, he said. Then I remember that the majority is cheese, or pure misery, or torture, or all of the above. That is not my thing. The whole vibe repels me and makes me feel kind of sick.

So its like, anything can happen. People could jump out of your TV, that kind of thing. I love trying to bring myself back to that.

Theres a door that appears after a long period of searching a seemingly endless open field, which only opens after Paul lets the game run idle for a few minutes. A strange tune plays as the path forward is revealed. Theres a mirrored bedroom in which Paul acts as someone elses reflection, which goes out of sync while the same music plays. Quitters room is written on the floor, and theres a note on the wall that asks Do you remember being born?

Theres a strange tool that looks like an awl, or a gourd, or a womb, which lets Paul ask it questions, but usually answers with I dont know. This tool is seen drawn in crayon, over and over again, and hung on the walls of the passageway leading up to it. It tells Paul to keep watching the windmill thats seen on a screen behind itPaul later finds where the windmill should be, but sees nothing but its foundation, bare on the ground.

Its a one of the series regular motifs: puzzles, challenges, and obscure hints that stretch the limits of what a player could be expected to solve or piece together. Each unusual moment adds a strange sense of apprehension that could really only work in the medium of fake Lets Play videos.

Each example has its own purpose, but in general, it felt important to me that I take advantage of the fake game format, Domenico said. That meant doing things that I couldnt reasonably do in a real game.

It all creates a feeling of dread thats hard to put a finger on. Domenico doesnt think hes the only person who wants that kind of experience in a horror work.

I dont even necessarily know what I want, Domenico said. But I always want something really strongly, and cant find it. A lot of stuff on the internet these days is getting so, so close. People are actively looking for it now, whatever it is.

A day after the fourth video was published, it was shared to the public on a small subreddit called /r/creepygaming, by a user named palescowitz. (Domenico confirmed he was indeed the one behind the account.) The title of the post was fairly straightforward: Videos of a mysterious unfinished PSX game from 1997, called Petscop. Theres something hiding in it.

I was expecting mixed reactions, Domenico said. I thought people might think it was stupid, and was bracing myself for that.

That wasnt quite what happened.

The replies were universally positive, and that initial Reddit post ended up being the only time Domenico ever needed to directly promote one of his videos. Viewers started latching on to all the connections and implications of everything and getting drawn into the uncanny atmosphere that left them ill at ease.

They noticed the hidden images in the loading screens and the things in the background that Paul didnt seem to notice. It drew people into the narrativeand that was by design.

Theres this thing, which Marble Hornets may have made popular, of involving people in your videos by hiding things in them. Giving off a feeling that theres maybe more here that you arent seeing, Domenico said. Thats great, especially for the people who never find those hidden things. Just knowing theres something that you arent seeing creates a great atmosphere for horror.

It soon became clear to viewers that there were shapes, ideas, characters, and themes that were all repeated and tied together in ways that hinted at something going on thats much larger than an unfinished game.

And so Petscops popularity began to grow. A community gathered around the videos: a subreddit, a wiki, a Discord server. Thousands, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands of people subscribed to the Petscop YouTube channel.

After it started blowing up, I felt sick for a while, because I didnt know what was going to happen. But after that wore off, it was just fun, Domenico said. It was such pure luck. It feels absurd sometimes.

Part of the community became dedicated to finding connections and meanings. YouTube channels like Game Theory, Nightmare Masterclass, and Pyrocynical made their own analysis videos. In addition to the wiki, fans wrote a 129-page shared Google Doc documenting what they knew, all in the hopes of getting to the bottom of just what was happening.

Domenico tended not to look at those discussions. He found that reading the theories and discoveries was unsettling. In general, its uncomfortable when people look at your work through a magnifying glass, he said. But also, people approach things in very, very different ways. I think thats great, but I dont need to see it all.

He would, however, pop into the Discord and subreddit after he released a video. Viewers initial responses were something he found far more interesting than the in-depth speculation that followed.

I liked reading immediate reactions, because those were more based on the feeling of the video, Domenico said. But those reactions were filtered through words, of course. It might have been nice to actually see more people watch the videos for the first time, as they were being released.

Domenico had been making games, music, and art for over a decade by the time he created Petscop. Hed never received anything close to this type of response to anything hed made before.

Before Petscop, his game 8:Capsule, created for a 2010 contest in the TIGSource forums, was the project that had garnered the most attention. The rather abstract puzzle game requires players to figure out which objects to throw at which targets in order to progress to the next level.

It placed third in the contest and eventually faded into obscurity.

After Petscop ended, though, people started looking at Domenicos old work again. The game that received the most attention, called Nifty, shares certain elements with his more-famous work. The two games are purportedly made by the same fictional company, and some of the same cryptic symbols are shared between them. Both have darker stories lurking beneath what, at first glance, appears to be an innocent, if quirky, game.

I enjoyed that continuity. It felt like Id been slowly developing this thing over time, Domenico said. There were a few people who played Nifty back in the day, and I wanted to communicate that feeling to them as well.

When Domenico started Nifty, he intended to create exactly the sort of simple, abstract puzzle game that it first appears to be on the surface. That didnt turn out to be very interesting, he admitted.

To spice things up, he started making levels that caused things to go completely off-the-rails. The result was a game with outside-the-box puzzles that forced players to read the games config files, delete saves, and edit file contents.

I was learning Game Maker, and I wanted to use all the features of Game Maker that I could for the puzzles, Domenico explained.

Theres also a very creepypasta-esque backstory hidden behind Nifty, involving hints at previous releases of the game that caused emotional attachment to its main character that eventually led to several cases of suicide.

Its the kind of creepy story that appeals to Domenicothe kind where you feel a sense of dread not just for the characters on screen, but for yourself as well.

Its not that youre scared of anything in particular. Its like when youre a kid, and you havent been in this universe long enough to have this really solidified feeling of what can and cant happen in it, Domenico said. So its like, anything can happen. People could jump out of your TV, that kind of thing. I love trying to bring myself back to that. I think you can do it by messing with basic expectations, operating on a foreign set of rules, making it difficult to predict whats going to happen.

Domenico announced on Twitter that the game only has superficial similarities to Petscop, but now he admits that theres more to it than that.

I cant deny that theres a certain thematic continuity stretching across all that stuff. Its more accurate to say that they arent canonically related.

Despite being such an enigmatic piece of work with ties to his more popular creations, Domenico would rather people didnt dig up his old stuff. Im not proud of that stuff, as it exists. I mean, thats part of why I recycle ideas, he said. For the people who didnt already know about my work, Id rather Petscop bury those old things than draw attention to them. But of course, thats not how it works.

And yet, Domenico admits that when he finished Nifty, he couldnt keep his mind off of what he had created. Petscop evolved partly from Nifty, he said. I kept thinking about that game after I finished it. I developed a whole story around it, which I combined with other ideas I had, and it eventually became its own thing.

For anyone paying attention, the rough outline of Petscops narrative isnt too difficult to hash out. It revolves around a man named Marvin, a tragedy that killed his childhood friend Lina, and an incident in which Marvin kidnaps his own daughter, whom he believes to be Lina reborn. Theres also a failed attempt to change a girl named Belle into someone named Tiara, a traffic accident, and a connection between Paul, the game, and his family.

But if thats all there was to it, it wouldnt have garnered such a dedicated fanbase that still wants to figure out its mysteries, and what different parts of the video imply about the story, the nature of the game, and what exactly it is that theyre watching.

What, for instance, does playing Stravinskys Septet have to do with rebirthing? Whats the purpose behind the two calendars from different years in the ghost room? What are we meant to learn from the video of dozens of pyramid-headed characters?

There is a story that ties it all together, Domenico said. He set forward with an idea of who the characters were, what their motivations were, and what the meaning behind the events was. Having that in place, he believes, means that viewers can intuitively sense that everything ties together.

Hes not going to tell us what he had in mind, though, and he allowed his gut feelings to influence what showed up in the videos.

I chose what details I wanted to include, based on what felt good, Domenico said. Now that its over, thats it. Saying more would be like extending the series.

In fact, he intentionally left gaps in the story because he felt like adding too much detail would ruin the sense of ambiguity that he was aiming for. This led to him scrapping some work when he realized it set too many things in stone.

Early on, I wrote a lot of stuff for a Petscop Discovery Pages website that I was going to release with the first video, along with a developer journal. That material could have destroyed the series immediately, Domenico said. I used that website in a later video, too small to be readable, and that was the perfect amount of detail. You can just make out the pictures, and see how much text there is, and youre informed of a page called Your Child, and thats all the information needed. I was so happy with that.

He says his viewers seem to have understood most of the themes he was trying to get across. But if it was his goal to outright explain his intentions, he wouldnt have made such a hard-to-penetrate series to begin with.

Theres room for interpreting it in different ways, based on your own experiences and what you care about, said Domenico. I prefer not to explain it in words myself, because that would take away from personal interpretations, and because I think too much is lost in that translation into words.

Domenico has remained insistent that his viewers personal interpretations are more important than anything he had in his head when he made the videos. Hes too close to the work to accurately analyze itanything he gets out of Petscop would be based on his thoughts while creating it, rather than the seeing whats actually in the videos.

After working on something for a long time, your perspective on it is really messed up, Domenico said. I say other people have a more valid perspective because, for better or worse, its more based on the work as it actually exists.

Some of his fans have shown frustration at these statements, many of them having approached the series mysteries as something that they were meant to get to the bottom of through carefully inspecting all the details. That wasnt Domenicos intention.

Its not a puzzle to be solved, and there is nothing that I would call a solution, he said. I like ambiguity, not as a tease or a challenge, but as something that stands on its own.

Its not even that Domenico wants his fans to come up with their own stories about what happenedhe just thinks that the sense of uncertainty and fear that comes with the series to be the main focus. Its not that Im asking people to literally fill in all the blanks with their own answers, either. Thats fine, but if you do that, youve removed the ambiguity, and changed the atmosphere of the entire thing, he said.

Even so, the hand of authorial intent is still visible in some elements of the series.Themes of childhood trauma and rebirth, for example, are impossible to miss.

Theres this sort of abstract idea of being lost and corrupted in an irreparable way that just feels so deeply sad and scary. Lots of different ideas and images feed into this. Rebirth feeds into it easily, Domenico said. It doesnt come from experience. I had a good childhood.

One thing that Petscop is not meant to be about, Domenico insists, is the death of Candace Newmaker. However, the series did make direct references to that tragedy.

Newmaker, originally born Candace Tiara Elmore, was a 10-year-old girl who died in April 2000 after her adoptive parents took her to an unlicensed therapist. The therapist wrapped her in a flannel sheet and covered her in pillows as part of a rebirthing ceremony. She suffocated inside.

In Petscops first 10 episodes, there are plenty of references to the tragedy. For instance, Pauls player is referred to as Newmaker, the endless dark field is called the Newmaker Plane, and the label of quitters room appears to be a reference to how the therapist called Candace a quitter when she was unable to free herself from the wrappings.

These references took on a life of their own once they were discovered. Many people following the series fixated on them, with the belief spreading that Petscop was about Candace Newmaker.

This was not Domenicos intent. After revealing himself as the creator of Petscop, Domenico tweeted out an admission that the references were intentionaland said that including them was extremely stupid of me. The tweet is still pinned to the top of his Twitter page.

The references, Domenico said, were only meant to tie into the themes of rebirth that are seen throughout the series. Looking back, he says he believes it wasnt appropriate to reference a real-life tragedy in a work like Petscop.

A decision like that, to reference a tragedy involving real people, should have a lot of weight to it. It should have been something I treated very carefully, Domenico said. I did not treat it carefully enough. But also, I feel that this series was just not the place for that kind of thing.

When he came to this realization, he made a few changes to how the series would play out.

The changes were subtle, because I was never gonna go much deeper with the references, Domenico said. Mainly, I avoided using the name Newmaker again. I didnt want to emphasize it any more than I already had.

With Petscop now behind him, Domenicos set his sights on another projectone that he says hell complete in its entirety before he starts revealing it to the public. One thing he will share is that it will apparently have some connection to the 1997 PC game Lego Island.

I loved that game. Its the silly and relaxed atmosphere, plus the mystery of itI mean, at the time, I thought there were secrets, but actually Id already seen everything, Domenico said. Theres not much to it. These days I also like it because its so rough and broken.

Domenico said that therell still be an element of horror to the project, but that he plans to tell the story in a much more straightforward manner than Petscop. Other than that, he doesnt have much that he wants to reveal yet.

Its still pretty early on, Domenico said. Though I have a lot planned, those plans usually change dramatically as a project goes on.

He also sees this new endeavor as a welcome change of pace following a project thats taken up the last few years of his life.

I loved making Petscop, and Im proud of it, and Im happy that I get to move on to something else, Domenico said.

Continued here:

There's Something Hiding in Petscop - EGMNOW

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‘InfoWars’ Host Alex Jones Arrested for DWI in Texas – The Union Journal

Posted: March 12, 2020 at 2:45 pm

1: 33 PM PT According to cops docs police officers were contacted us to Jones house for a family members disruption. When they showed up, his partner declared they had a spoken run-in that was physical earlier in the day. She purportedly informed the police officer Jones removed in his automobile and also was perhaps alcohol consumption.

Cops overtook him soon later at some point after 10 PM Monday evening and also drew him over. The apprehension record claims the police officer spotted a solid smell of alcohol originating from Jones.

Jones purportedly confessed he consumed alcohol a container of benefit while he and also his partner went to a sushi dining establishment a pair hrs previously, and also they entered a debate. Jones informed the police officer he strolled house, yet the disagreement proceeded there so he entrusted to most likely to one more house to escape her.

According to the record Jones showed some disability throughout area soberness examinations, such as persuading and also shedding his equilibrium, yet he did impact a little listed below a.08 on the Intoxilyzer two times.

It must be kept in mind its uncertain that the wife is in the record. Jones separated his previous partner in 2015, and also regarding we understand he has actually not remarried.

Alex Jones has a fresh DWI situation deep in the heart of Texas the previous InfoWars host was broken early Tuesday early morning in the Austin- location.

Jones was scheduled around 12: 30 AM according to the Travis County SheriffsDepartment He was back on the roads by 4 AM, after uploading a $3,00 0 bond and also as you may anticipate, Jones is informing his very own variation of occasions.

He took place his Alex Jones Show podcast and also claimed he blew under the lawful restriction of.08 so he believes the entire cost will certainly disappear. InfoWars is currently drifting a conspiracy concept, claiming Jones was captured in a DWI sting targeted at enhancing the Sheriffs Departments variety of apprehensions.

So much, the Sheriffs Department isnt claiming what Jones BAC was when he was arrested. Worth keeping in mind that in Texas you can be arrested for DWI also if youre under the restriction IF the police officer believes your driving capacity suffers.

Jones has actually been billed with offense DWI.

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'InfoWars' Host Alex Jones Arrested for DWI in Texas - The Union Journal

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