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About Godless Cranium

Gamer who can't get enough of reading, science and learning. Father of two (not including my adorable dog, Dexter) and lover of the opinionated. A few other things I enjoy are role playing games, Game of Thrones, Cosmos, rollerblading, hiking, golf (even if I suck), reading religious, 'spiritual', secular material, playing with my dog, hanging with my wife, Clash of freaking Clans...and so much more. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about me and my thoughts, you'll have to read my blogs. You can also check out my YouTube channel by following the link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCewUkuIHNuwuMNWMa96q9ZQ Thanks for checking out my profile!

How to Create a Podcast

It’s been a few days since I wrote my last blog post. You might be thinking that I got lazy or because I lost interest. Fear not! The real reason is I’ve been working on creating my own podcast so that I could share it with you.

Just to be clear – I’ve never done a podcast before and to be truthful, I never thought I would. But reading Tris Hussey’s book about blogging brought my inner geek out and I just had to try it.

So try it I did.

You will need three things to create your own podcast

  1. A decent microphone. I used a cheap one and the result sounded awful. I went out and bought the Vengeance 1500 microphone instead. It cost me roughly $100.
  2. A computer.
  3. Internet.

That’s all you’ll need.

Well…technically you’ll need to download some software but we’ll get to that in a second.

The first thing you want to do is download Audacity. It’s completely free. Along with Audacity, you need to download Lame so that you can convert the file later.

Below you can see a screenshot of what Audacity looks like once its been fired up. If you ever want to convert the podcast into a video like I did below, you’ll also need to download Windows Movie Maker.

What Audacity looks like

Make sure your microphone is plugged in; fire up Audacity and check to make sure that the program recognizes your microphone. You can see my microphone in the upper section of the screenshot, just above the numbers.

In the upper left hand portion of the screenshot, you can see the familiar play, stop, pause and record buttons. You can record your voice by simply hitting the record button and away you go.

Stupid tip commercial break

After I’d finished creating my podcast, I wanted to listen to it. I put on my trusty headphones but no matter how many times I hit play, no sound came through. I took the headphones off and followed the cord to the computer. The cord ended on my desk. I’d put on the old headphones like a knob.

Note to reader: If you replace your old, crappy headphones with better ones, don’t try to listen to your newly made podcast through the unplugged piece of crap headphones. Try the newer, plugged in ones. It will work wonders for you.

Back to creating your own podcast

Once you’ve successfully recorded your voice, you can edit it using the myriad of features Audacity offers. For the podcast I made, I snipped a few dead spaces and added the music in the background. To add the music, you go to ‘file’ then ‘import’ and it will ask you to import a file from your computer. If you want to make the music in the background lower in volume than your voice, then you can click ‘view’ and then ‘mixer board’.

If you want to clip dead air, then you highlight the part of the track (with the wavy lines) that you want to edit out and then hit the ‘cut’ button up top.

The ‘effect’ command at the top will allow you to fade the music (or whatever else) in or out. I used it to fade the music in the background out in my simple podcast.

Once you’ve created your masterpiece, you’ll want to save it and then change it into an MP3 file. If you simply save it, Audacity will save it as an Audacity file, which is useless for anything except editing your existing podcast using Audacity. If you want to save it as an MP3 file (or other form of file) you have to click ‘file’ and then ‘export’. You should get a dropdown menu that allows you to choose the file type you’d like to save it in.

YouTube podcast

YouTube won’t allow you to simply upload a music file and that’s where the Windows Movie Maker comes into play. It’s pretty easy to use (and free) and you can upload your MP3 file into WMM and add a picture of some sort like I did. Then you save it as either an MP4 or a WMV file, which will allow you to upload your work to YouTube. You also want to make sure that the picture(s) you use stay up for as long as your podcast is running. You can sync your images with your audio using WMV.

I went this route because I could easily share it with you via my blog and because I wanted to geek out some more. I’m not sure where you can host a podcast for free either. YouTube is free and probably reaches a wider audience anyways.

That’s how I created the podcast (video podcast) you see below. It was a lot of fun to try and figure out and I’ll probably be playing around with it some more in the future. You can see that Audacity gives you a ton of options and I’ve only scratched the surface.

However, if you’re looking to create your own podcast in the future – simple is good. You can always play with it on your own and unlock the secrets of podcasting for yourself.

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Posted by on September 29, 2012 in Technology

 

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Atlantica Review: Pretty Cool MMORPG

I’m a big MMORPG fan, although there are very few that I enjoy as much as Atlantica Online. That doesn’t mean I think Atlantica is perfect (far from it) but it’s pretty darn good.

Best of all, it’s free to play.

For your reading enjoyment, I’ve compiled some neat links you can browse, took some screen shots of my character in action and I’ll give you my personal take on the game itself.

Starting Out

It’s decision time – what sort of character do you want to be? You can choose from nine different characters.

Here are the starter classes:

  • Archer
  • Cannon
  • Gunner
  • Sword
  • Staff
  • Saw (after you have one character that is at least level 100)
  • Spear
  • Axe
  • Instrument

My character is a gunner. I’ve also played using a saw and sword character. I’m told that the cannon is very useful later on in the game. But the choice is yours. You need to figure out what character class fits your gaming style.

You can also recruit mercenaries to help compliment your main characters strengths and weaknesses.

Confused yet?

Don’t be. Atlantica is fairly simple to play and I’ll be hitting you with some useful links very soon. I’ll also show you what I mean by ‘mercenaries’ with a screen shot. Hell, why don’t we get that out of the way right now?

Me whooping ass

There’s me whooping some ass. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll be able to see my party. I have the party limit of eight mercenaries. If you factor in my main character, that makes a total of nine killing machines. The party at the top of the screen didn’t know their time was up. By the end of this battle, they were in need of a soother.

Anyhow, there’s the beginning.

How It’s Played

Atlantica is a turn based game. In other words, when you fight a group of baddies, your group gets a turn, then their group gets a turn and so on. If you’ve ever played the old school Final Fantasy games, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. I grew up playing FF so that might be part of the reason I’m so fond of this game.

Basically, you’ll get quests and you fulfill them, earn experience points and level up your main character as well as your mercenaries.

Pretty simple and a lot like every other MMORPG out there.

You can equip your characters with different armors and weapons, and your main character can equip things like wings or costumes. You can also buy yourself a nifty mount to carry your carcass around. All of these things add to the statistics of your main character, which is important. You can either buy them from the Item Mall or use in-game gold to buy them from other players.

Here’s a picture of my rockin’ rhinoceros mount.

Don’t mess and I won’t have to use those horns on you

Market System

Probably my favorite part of this game is the market system. The market is pretty much entirely player driven. At the beginning, you can buy basic supplies at fixed prices but as you move up, almost everything is sold by the players in the market. The prices fall and rise based on player demand, pretty much just like real life.

Very cool in my opinion.

Of course, there are towns all over the world and top-tier guilds ‘own’ them, which means they can set the tax rate in that town etc.

The world is huge. Here’s a screen shot of the world map.

The world is at your fingertips!

If you look at the upper right corner, you’ll see this is only one portion of the world map. There are other maps and tons of places to explore and pick up quests.

As for the towns…here’s another screen shot to give you an idea about what they look like.

All clumped together

Bad Stuff

I promised to be honest about the game and I’ll deliver right here. There are a number of things I think could be improved on. Here’s a short list.

  • Like most MMORPG’s, the quests can become tedious, especially at higher levels.
  • I hate starting over if I want to make a saw character.
  • When you get a new mercenary they start at level one, even if the rest of your group is level 100+.
  • I hate the Item Mall system. In most online games, you can simply buy what you want. In Atlantica, you buy boxes that randomly give you an item. Big time sucks!
  • There are quite a few areas where you have to team up. Usually this is easily accomplished if you belong to a guild. However, I like solo play.
  • I like the market system but because a lot of the item mall stuff comes in those annoying random boxes, things like mounts are very, very expensive to buy with in-game gold. It can be done but it’s frustrating.
  • There are some bugs that need to be worked out.
  • Sometimes the server boots me out and I have to load the game again. This sometimes happens on weekends. It doesn’t happen all that often though.
  • I wish they had some sort of in-game voice chat system. Most guilds use vent or programs like Raid Call. Hey! My fingertips are delicate.

So there you have some of the bad stuff about the game. Overall, it’s a very good game but if you decide to give it a try, you’ll invariably find your own ‘bad stuff’.

Link Me Up, Baby!

I promised to share a few links to help you do more research. Here they are.

  1. The Atlantica Online Wiki page is full of articles, art and tips. You’ll want to check it out.
  2. If you want to know about the games history, check out the other wiki page on it.
  3. If you want to download the game or visit the forums, click this link and be magically transported to the official Atlantica site.
  4. Here’s a nifty blog that holds many Atlantica secrets. Maybe that’s why they called it ‘Secrets of Atlantica‘.

Check This Out

Last but certainly not least, if you decide to play, feel free to seek me out. I’d love the opportunity to hang out with you.

I’m on Sikyon server and my character name is Reebeki.

I hope you found this review interesting and helpful. I also hope you decide to give Atlantica a try. You might enjoy it as much as I have so far. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section below and I’ll do my best to answer them for you. Actually, if you’re reading this, go ahead and leave a comment anyways. I don’t bite. Promise.

This is a close-up of my character. Who says that death can’t lurk in a bunny outfit, right?

 
 

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Generation Apple: The Human Toll

We all know someone who is addicted to their iPhone. Apple just recently released their iPhone 5 and sold five million units over the weekend. Wall Street was a bit disappointed with the numbers because they had anticipated selling ten million, but in reality, ten million units is a fairly unrealistic number. As time goes by, the iPhone will do very well.

One thing that isn’t talked about much is how Apple mass produces their products. Despite being one of the richest companies on Earth, they don’t seem to be opposed to treating their workers like human garbage.

Take this news story as an example:

A day before the iPhone 5’s release last week, SACOM published a report, called “New iPhones, old abuses,” that found that “the old problems of labour rights abuses remain norms at Foxconn” after interviewing 60 workers at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou, China, plant. At some personal risk, Chan has traveled frequently from the relative safety of Hong Kong to mainland China to interview workers.

Those discussions have led Chan to report on excessive overtime for workers, required hours that violate Chinese labor laws. She’s documented unpaid overtime work, as well as compulsory meetings where managers berate employees about about low productivity, the high rates of product defects, and disciplinary problems. And she’s written about unsafe conditions in Foxconn metal-working and parts-processing workshops, where workers handled chemicals unknown to them with little in the way of protection.

“Most of the workers feel hopeless when you ask them about work pressures,” Chan told me. “They’ll say, ‘Everywhere, it’s the same.'”

For Chan, that’s not good enough.

“The profit margins of Apple keep rising,” she said. “Apple has the capacity to increase” the amount they pay Foxconn to produce iPhones.

I understand that Apple is a business and the primarily goal of any business is to make money. However, we as consumers need to keep an eye on things like this and hopefully punish them in the marketplace when they violate human rights.

Are cell phones really worth more than human decency? Shouldn’t we be demanding that Apple provide their workers with at least basic labor rights? They’re clearly taking advantage of the poor living conditions and labor laws in China.

I’m all for cell phones. They’ve revolutionized the way we communicate both personally and in the business world.

I’d just rather they were produced honestly and not by a mega-company that seems happy to rake in the profits while treating their workers like human trash.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Technology

 

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Are Chiropractors Necessary?


Photo credit: calgrin from morguefile.com

My girlfriend suffered with severe back pain for a long time. In fact, she said it persisted for over fifteen years until she went to a chiropractor and within weeks, she was feeling better.

To be honest, I’ve always been skeptical of chiropractors. After my car accident, I was experiencing severe migraines due to whiplash and my insurance company told me I should see a chiropractor, which I did. I went for about six weeks and nothing changed. There were days where my head felt like it was going to explode and and I spent a lot of time curled up in a dark room.

Needless to say, I stopped going to Mr. Crack-it man.

Right after that, I started going to the gym 3-4 times per week and guess what?

My headaches subsided.

Imagine how much chiropractors must make. When I went in for a visit, the chiropractor laid me down on a couch, cracked my back a few times and away I went. He then charged me thirty five bucks. The entire experience probably lasted ten minutes.

However, for arguments sakes, let’s say it took fifteen minutes. Simple math tells us that the guy was raking in a hundred and forty bucks an hour with very little overhead. The magic cracking man is making a killing, which would be cool if it actually worked. Anyone who has suffered from back pain knows it hurts immensely and can take its toll on almost every aspect of your life.

While the chiropractic experience didn’t work for me, I started to change my mind about how effective they were after hearing my girlfriend’s story. She swears by him and still attends twice a week or so.

But then I read this in Daily Science:

Manipulating or “adjusting” the spine is a popular way to treat occasional or acute lower back pain and is covered by many health insurance plans, but a recent review by The Cochrane Library finds no evidence to suggest it is more effective than other therapy options.

And further down in the article:

The reviewers studied the results from 20 randomized controlled trials representing 2,674 participants with lower back pain of less than six weeks duration. Reviewers concluded that SMT neither reduced pain nor sped recovery faster than treatment options such as exercise, the use of NSAID pain medications or physiotherapy. Surprisingly, the review also found no evidence to suggest that SMT was more effective than therapies known to be ineffective. “This last finding would suggest more research is needed,” said Dr. Rubinstein. If SMT is just as effective as accepted interventions, it should be better than ineffective therapies, such as using ultrasound or heat therapy.

Huh…

Maybe it doesn’t work after all. Maybe the whole industry is just another scam created to milk the money from people who are so desperate to escape their back pain, that they’re willing to try almost anything.

What do you think? Do you believe that chiropractors are needed or do you think the chiropractic industry is overpriced and overrated?

More importantly, what do you think about this study? Feel free to leave your chiropractic stories in the comment section.

Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Science news

 

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What is the Internet, really?

I love this video!

It explains the physical aspects of the Internet. Sometimes we forget that the Internet even has physical traits. To most of us, the Internet is almost like magic. We take it for granted but it still takes regular, everyday people to make sure the Internet functions. The Internet isn’t magic – it’s science.

The other part of the video I found interesting was how he described the people of today. He said that we’re always distracted. We spend a good chunk of the day staring at a large glowing screen, physically interact with the outside world for another part of the day and then check our small glowing screens before going to bed. Even while we’re physically interacting with people, part of us is always thinking about what’s going on online.

Don’t get me wrong…I love the Internet. If it wasn’t for the Internet, I wouldn’t have the job I do. However, there is something sad about losing pieces of the real world to cables that crisscross the ocean.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in Science news

 

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Create Your Own Blog: 6 Easy Projects to Start Blogging Like a Pro Review

Just before starting the blog you’re reading now, I decided to do some serious research into blogging. It’s a bit ironic because I’ve written hundreds of blog posts for other people as a ghostwriter, but I’ve never really considered starting my own before.

Anyhow, I picked up the book Create Your Own Blog: 6 Easy Projects to Start Blogging Like a Pro by Tris Hussey at my local Chapters. I dug right in and found the book strangely fascinating. I fully expected to be bored to tears while reading the book, but that wasn’t the case at all because the author does a remarkable job of explaining how to put a blog together in layman terms.

It’s full of useful advice, such as:

  • How to plan your first blog
  • How to set up your first blog
  • Personal blogs vs. business blogs
  • Widgets
  • Video blogs
  • Podcasting
  • How to create a community
  • How to write for a blog
  • How to track your blogs stats
  • Creating a portfolio blog

The book contains a wealth of information. The book is 247 pages long, not including the index pages and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It opened my eyes to the world of blogging in a whole new way.

It also doesn’t hurt that the author is Canadian. Go Canada!

Even if you don’t fully understand what the author is saying (in other words, if you don’t speak blogger-ese) the book includes screen shots for those of us who are jargon-challenged.

If you’re thinking of starting up a blog for the first time, I recommend this book big time. It’s an enjoyable, informative romp through the world of blogging.

 
 

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Can We Resurrect the Dinosaurs? Neanderthal Man?

Jurassic Park anyone?

I love Big Think. Science is such a wondrous thing and our knowledge base continues to expand at a staggering rate. I love the part where he talks about latent genes that can be turned on or off, such as the gene that governs how much hair we have.

Check the video out. It’s just a few minutes long but well worth watching.

 

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Science news

 

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