Try looking in the monthly archives. September 2019
PEOPLE TEND TO classify themselves into two groups: those who are mathematical and those who are not. We think of mathematical ability as a character trait like eye colour, you are born with or without it.From an early age, people label themselves (or are labelled by others) as being good or bad at maths, more so than any other subject. By the time students reach the Leaving Cert, that mindset appears deeply embedded. In 2012, only 22 per cent of students took Higher Level Maths, compared to 37 per cent in Irish and 65 per cent in English.The decision to award extra CAO points to students taking Higher Level Maths in the Leaving Certificate has helped to increase the number of students taking the Higher Level paper (from 16 per cent in 2011 to 22 per cent in 2012). But for many, this intervention is too little too late. The decision to take the Higher Level Paper is made between 16 and 18 years of age, but many have implicitly made this decision much earlier, when they fall behind in class.Furthermore, the bonus points intervention has had no impact on reducing the number of people taking Foundation Level Maths – on average 11 per cent of students in the last three years. Do we believe that after 14 years of compulsory maths education, only 22 per cent of students can master differential equations and advanced calculus in the Higher Level Paper, while 11 per cent of students can only deal with the basic maths in the Foundation Level paper? Do we believe that 11 per cent of students are fundamentally not mathematical?LadderJohn Mighton, a Canadian mathematician, disagrees and passionately believes that any child can be taught to excel at maths. Although differences of ability will always exist between people, there is no need for the wide variation in performance that we see today. He believes that to effectively teach maths, it must be broken into a series of very small steps, which in combination leads to the full mastery of the topic.“No step is too small to ignore,” Mighton says. “Math is like a ladder. If you miss a step, sometimes you can’t go on. And then you start losing your confidence and then the hierarchies develop”. All too often, children miss a step in this ladder and soon, the class has moved on and the gap in performance between children grows.Mighton started JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Mathematical Prodigies) in Canada in 2002 to address this issue. The programme is based on a methodology that breaks questions and challenges down into very small steps – manageable, systematic strides towards success. Mighton terms this “guided discovery”. It has been running in Canada for nearly 10 years and is now being taught to roughly 86,000 students annually. Research supports the methodology, with randomised controlled studies concluding that JUMP is more successful than the incumbent Canadian programme at improving the mathematical abilities of students.Most significantly, JUMP helps to raise outcomes for all students while simultaneously narrowing the achievement gap – the process is designed to ensure that all students advance together. In one school in Toronto, in her first year of using JUMP, a teacher lifted her class’s average ranking from the 66th to 92nd percentile, based on standardised testing. In her second year using JUMP, she moved her next class from the 55th to 98th percentiles. As Mighton says: “They start developing a love of the subject and the interesting thing is they don’t compete so much anymore against each other. They start competing against the problem collectively.”TransformativeTeachers also praise the JUMP programme, as many feel the sequential approach allows them to build up their own confidence and knowledge of the subject. As one teacher in Vancouver noted: “My experiences with JUMP has been transformative, for my students and for myself. I struggled greatly as a student from a very early age and since I began supplementing with JUMP it has given me the motivation, skills, knowledge and confidence to pursue math.”In Ireland, much of the focus around maths has been our poor international performance. Between 2000 and 2009, Ireland dropped from 16th to 32nd in international rankings. Although our outcomes stayed relatively constant during this time period, other countries are racing ahead. While it must be a national priority to improve our maths outcomes, we must focus on addressing the roots of the problem, as well as using stopgap measures such as bonus points.Mighton came to Ireland in March 2012 as part of Change Nation and performed a demonstration of the JUMP method to a class of students, keeping both adults and students enthralled. A shy, soft-spoken man, he relied neither on trickery nor sleight of hand in his demonstration; he relied on the JUMP methodology he has created over a decade, which is based on evidence and research, a methodology that he knows is effective.As a result of his visit in March, a consortium of organisations came together to explore the possibility of launching a pilot programme in Ireland, which is now planned for roll-out in 2013. At a time when negativity abounds in our newspapers and airwaves, it is uplifting to see a group of private, public and social sector stakeholders voluntarily coming together to work on innovative solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems.If you would like to find out more about the JUMP maths programme, please see details at Change Nation or contact: email@example.com.Change Nation is an initiative of Ashoka.
CONNACHT ARE IN Edinburgh this morning before their Pro12 clash with the Scottish side in Murrayfield (19.45).If the 80 minutes this evening can match the dramatic scene created at sunset last night (and captured masterfully by Martin Joyce) then we’re in for a treat.Image credit: @MartinJoyceyNow, let’s have all your shepherd’s delight-Pat Lam puns. Go on, get them out of your system.Premiership Rugby now willing to consider future in Heineken CupRobbie Henshaw’s return a boost for Connacht
Updated 11.25pmFORMER SOLICITOR THOMAS Byrne has been handed a sentence of 16 years at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court this afternoon, with the final four years suspended.It comes after the 47-year-old was found guilty of 50 charges, including theft, fraud, deception and forgery, last month.He was sentenced to nine years for theft from banks and seven years for forgery in relation to the fraudulent transfer of property. The terms will run consecutively with the last four years suspended.Byrne was also handed a number of five year sentences for forgery offences which will run concurrently with the other sentences.The jail term officially started on the date of his conviction on 18 November.In sentencing him this afternoon, Judge Patrick McCartan said that the scale of Byrne’s offences as “colossal”.“The thefts required careful planning and execution. They weren’t just dipping into the till. It was all very cunning”, he said.McCartan added that he had caused “considerable” damage to the reputation of his profession and that his crimes must be regarded towards the upper end of the ten year guideline for fraud offences.The judge said that “without solicitors, commerce and civil society wouldn’t function” and that as a result they are as a result given a significant degree of trust. “Byrne abused every aspect of that status and trust,” he said.Byrne denied all charges but was found guilty by a jury after a drawn-out, 27-day trial and more than 17 hours of deliberations.Judge McCartan said he had to consider consecutive sentences given the extent of criminality, monies unaccounted for and breach of trust.The charges detailed how he transferred the homes of his clients into his name and used them to obtain property loans.His actions came to light when one of his employees reported him to the Law Society for forging her name to borrow money.Earlier today, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard a summation of the evidence from Detective Sgt. Paschal Walsh on the litany of offences committed by Byrne.The evidence showed how Byrne fraudulently obtained properties from clients and associates and used them to secure loans totaling in excess of €50 million.The 18 separate loan applications from various financial institutions ranged in value from €1 million to €9 million.Vera McGrane, one of the victims of Byrne’s offences, leaving court after the sentence. Pic: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland.In falsely claiming ownership of the properties, Byrne falsified signatures in a number of cases, at least two of the cases involved elderly women known to him.The judge was asked to consider the ease with which Byrne committed his offences. Judge McCartan did make reference to the fact that at the time Dublin’s property market was “at boiling point”. Adding that Byrne was indeed headhunted by a number of institutions for his businesses. This, however, could not be given undue credence the judge said.“It ignores the fact that thousands of others abided by the law and didn’t committhe scale of fraud that you did.”The offences occurred between dates in September 2004 and 2007 when Byrne was solicitor based in Walkinstown.Following the earlier summation of the evidence, Judge McCartan praised investigating gardaí for the way they presented the evidence in the six-week long trial.“In particular the way you marshalled the evidence to be understood for everyone, including myself but especially the jury,” he told the court.Reporting by Rónán DuffyRead: Thomas Byrne found guilty of 50 charges in fraud trial
WHEN FIONN MULHOLLAND prepared to surprise his family by coming home from Perth, he probably didn’t bank on being called every name under the sun.As Fionn surprises the individual members of his family, he is called various names, including a “little shit”.It all makes for a very sweet video that is thoroughly, unmistakably Irish.The video contains some bad language.(Daxen Sweed/YouTube)Read: Extremely festive Christmas greeting from CrumlinRead: These are the photos that made us smile in 2013
No one is above the rule of law no matter what their age. To those who call for the individual’s immediate release I ask should this individual by future action on her own or accompanied by others again be permitted to again encroach on a runway?“Are you prepared to give a free pass to those who so behave and, by so doing, place lives at risk and the law in disrepute?”Read: Gilmore: No problem with Sabina Higgins prison visit to Margaretta D’ArcyRead: Margaretta D’Arcy “in good spirits” in Limerick Prison THE JUSTICE MINISTER tonight said that it would “not be appropriate” to comment on the rights and wrongs of jailed 79-year-old anti-war activist Margaretta D’Arcy.Responding in the Dáil to a Topical Issues motion about D’Arcy, Shatter said that the only way D’Arcy could be released was if she signed a pledge to not enter restricted areas of Shannon Airport, something she has thus far declined to do.Deputies Eamon O’Cuiv, Mick Wallace, Clare Daly and Richard Boyd-Barrett all spoke on the motion, each calling on Shatter to intervene in the matter, particularly stressing D’Arcy’s battles with cancer and Parkinson’s.O’Cuiv said that D’Arcy’s detention in Limerick Prison “sends out the wrong signals”, while Daly, who appeared as a witness in D’Arcy’s trial, called it a “national scandal”.Boyd-Barrett and Wallace both urged Shatter to examine the use of Shannon Airport by the US military.Shatter said that the issue was not about an individual’s right to protest, rather about upholding the law.“I have to say that encroaching on an airport runway is a very serious and very dangerous act. It potentially places the lives of those who encroach at risk. It also puts the lives of the gardaí, airport workers and airplane passengers in danger. It is a highly irresponsible act and cannot be justified by adherence to any cause.”Shatter then took aim at his counterparts.
Updated 4.33pmAN EXPLOSION CAUSED by a gas leak killed two people and injured at least 18 others in East Harlem, New York City today.The blast destroyed two five-story buildings before the New York City Fire Department sent 44 units and 198 members to the site in Upper Manhattan.Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed the explosion was caused by a gas leak.Sidewalks for blocks around were littered with broken glass from shattered store front and apartment windows. Witnesses say the blast near Park Avenue and 116th Street was so powerful it knocked groceries off the shelves of nearby stores.Police, some wearing gas masks and medical masks, handed out medical masks to residents and onlookers because of the thick white smoke that shrouded the area.Eoin Hayes, 26, said the explosion shook his entire apartment building in Harlem at about 9.30am. He ran to the window and saw flames consuming one building and smoke rising into the air.“I was in my bedroom and the explosion went off, it kind of shook the whole building,” Hayes said. “You could feel the vibrations going through the building.”Hayes lives less than ten blocks from where the explosion happened. He said the fire consumed one building and then moved on to another building adjacent to it, though about 40 minutes later the flames had subsided and there was mostly just smoke. Both buildings appeared to be residential.“I ran to the window and saw the fire and the smoke going up and the sirens start,” Hayes said.The explosion occurred very close to elevated Metro-North commuter railroad tracks. Metro-North service was suspended to and from Grand Central on all three train lines while employees remove debris from the tracks.
Amanda Berry (right) hugs her sister Beth Serrano after being reunited in a Cleveland Hospital. (AP Photo)QUESTIONS ARE BEING raised in the US about how three women who had been missing for around a decade were found in a house close to where they had been living when they disappeared.Police found the three women in an unremarkable home in a working-class neighborhood of Cleveland.Three brothers have been arrested in the midwestern US city after one of the women managed to alert a neighbor, who broke down the door to free her and the six-year-old daughter she apparently bore as a prisoner.Police responding to a desperate 911 emergency call found two more women in the ordinary two-story home with an American flag on the porch. All had been reported missing in separate incidents around 10 years ago.A sheriff stands outside the whole where the three women had been held (AP photo/Tony Dejak)Journalists and local residents descended on Seymour Avenue, where officers had sealed off the property with barriers and crime scene tape, astonished that anyone could have kept such a crime quiet for so long.The women — Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight — were examined at a local hospital before being released to their families on Tuesday afternoon. The FBI was due to interview them.“She’s like my best friend. I’m glad she’s home,” Ricardo DeJesus, brother of Gina DeJesus, told CNN, adding that before her disappearance, his sister “liked to dance a lot, crack jokes, be around with her family.”Police confirmed that Berry, now 27, has a six-year-old daughter, apparently born while she was in captivity.The three Ohio women were abducted separately in 2002, 2003 and 2004 but were found together in the home of 52-year-old Ariel Castro.Onil Castro, Ariel Castro and Pedro Castro. (AP Photo/Cleveland Police Department)Castro and his brothers — Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50 — have been detained. Police mugshots revealed them to be thick-set men with gray beards.“For Amanda’s family, for Gina’s family, for Michele’s family, prayers have finally been answered,” FBI special agent Steve Anthony told reporters.The nightmare is over. These three young ladies have provided us with the ultimate definition of survival and perseverance. The healing can now begin.Cleveland Director of Public Safety Martin Flask said police had not been alerted to anything untoward happening at the house on Seymour Avenue.Deputy police chief Ed Tomba said it would not be clear exactly what had happened in the house over the past decade until officers had completed the delicate task of interviewing the women.“Obviously, there was a long period of time where nobody saw them. So we have to wait until we interview them and hopefully they are going to tell us exactly what went on in there,” he said.A sign saying ‘Welcome home Gina’ outside the home of Gina DeJesus today (AP photo/Tony Dejak)“They were the only ones there along with the suspects,” he added.Tomba said the women seemed to be in fairly good health, although he said “they needed a good meal.”The escapeThe nightmare ended when Berry — kidnapped just before her 17th birthday — reached through a crack in the front door and called for help.“I heard screaming … and I see this girl going nuts trying to get outside of the house,” neighbor Charles Ramsey told a local ABC news affiliate. “I go on the porch, and she said, ‘Help me get out. I’ve been here a long time’.”(Video: WEWSTV/YouTube)Ramsey said he could not pull the door open, so he kicked out a lower section and she crawled through carrying a little girl.Berry went to a neighboring home and called police, begging them to come as soon as they could — “before he gets back” — according to a recording of her 911 call to emergency services.When police arrived, she said two other women were being held captive.Berry was last seen on April 21, 2003, when she left work at a fast food restaurant just a few blocks from her home.Undated photos show Amanda Berry (left) and Gina DeJesus (AP Photo/FBI)DeJesus was 14 when she vanished while walking home from school on April 2, 2004. Knight, who was 20 at the time of her disappearance, was last seen at a cousin’s house on August 23, 2002, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.At least one window at the house on Seymour Avenue was boarded up, AFP saw at the scene.“It’s sad to know they were in there all the time”Residents at the scene told AFP that they were shocked, and had no idea that the neighbor who would sometimes share food grilled in his yard, could have had such a grim secret locked away.Joe Torres, a stocky and heavily-tattooed 32-year-old cook, stood by his parents’ home, the front lawn strewn with children’s toys.“It’s like having a snake in the street,” he told AFP. “It’s just like a regular house. No one heard anything, anything. I don’t know where he had those girls. Maybe he kept them quiet?”He expressed concern for his nieces and nephews. “If something had happened to them, it’s the last place we would have looked,” he said.Sandra Ruiz, aunt of Gina DeJesus, talks about her visit with Gina in front of reporters today (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)And 30-year-old mother-of-three Rachel Williamson expressed horror and a measure of relief.“It’s great that they’re home with their families,” she told AFP. “I’ve passed by a lot of times. It’s sad to know they were in there all the time.”Kidnap ordeal survivor Jaycee Dugard — the subject of a media frenzy in 2009 when she was found alive 18 years after she had been abducted at age 11 — called for the women to be given time to heal.“The human spirit is incredibly resilient. More than ever this reaffirms we should never give up hope,” said Dugard, who bore two daughters fathered by her captor.- © AFP, 2013Read: This is the 911 call made by Amanda Berry after 10 years missing > Read: Three women missing for years found just miles from home >
Source: Met Éireann/Twitter Sunburn Index today:High in all areas— Met Éireann (@MetEireann) June 21, 2014 So, at the risk of sounding like your mammy: wear sun-cream.Read: Summer in Ireland, summed up in one single comic THE WARM WEATHER will abate somewhat today, but Met Eireann says that doesn’t mean you should forego the sun-cream.Met Eireann says that today will be “another mainly dry day”.The north and northwest coastal areas may stay cloudy and dull with that worst of phrases “occasional drizzle”.However, some sunny spells will develop elsewhere.Top temperatures will reach 16 to 21 degrees.Winds continue light to moderate mostly northerly with onshore sea breezes developing locally in the afternoon or evening.However, even though it may feel cooler than earlier this week, Met Eireann says the Sunburn Index is high everywhere.
FIFA HAS OPENED disciplinary proceedings against Luis Suarez after an alleged biting incident in Uruguay’s final group game at World Cup 2014.The world football body said there was “an apparent breach” of its disciplinary code during the game against Italy on 24 June.Suarez and the Uruguayan FA have until 5pm today (Brazil time; 9pm Irish time) to provide their side of the story. They are also allowed to submit any documentary evidence they deem relevant.The FIFA rulebook says that its Disciplinary Committee is responsible for “sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention”.Last night, Suarez moved to downplay the incident, saying “these things happen” on a football field.However, the storm continues this morning with many of Ireland’s newspapers splashing to Premier League star on their front pages, gripping his teeth in apparent pain while Italian Giorgio Chiellini shows off his dented skin.He could face a lengthy ban if found guilty of biting. FIFA’s disciplinary code has the power to suspend a player for up to 24 matches – including club and international games – or 24 months.The longest ban handed down at the World Cup was in 1994 when Mauro Tassotti broke Luis Enrique’s nose with an elbow. He received an eight-match ban.Suarez has missed 17 career games as a result of two previous biting incidents. In April 2013, he received a 10 game ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and, while playing at Ajax in 2010, he was handed down a seven-game ban.‘Nothing happened’, snaps Uruguay’s Lugano as FIFA promise investigation into Suarez ‘bite’‘Chiellini bumped into me with his shoulder’, says Suarez as he complains of eye injury
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Rickshaws are a pretty green form of urban transportation, relying on nothing more than good old human energy. But, of course, pulling them is a lot of work. So a Japanese company has created what it’s describing as the world’s first electric rickshaw — and it’s completely human power free.It’s called the Meguru, and has a design that makes it look like a motorcycle with a small cabin placed on top. The engine is completely electric, allowing for a range of 40 kilometers and a top speed of 40 kilometers per hour. It’s also available to purchase right now for ¥100,000, or, around $1,200 USD.Via Engadget
The iPad offers a lot in a relatively compact package. The device can be used to watch movies, read books and magazines, listen to music and play games. That’s probably why those who travel often might carry their beloved iPad with them on the plane. That’s also why it makes perfect sense that one airline sees the iPad as an opportunity to make some additional revenue.Jetstar, a low-cost Australian airline, and also a subsidiary of Qantas, performed a trial back June in which 30 iPads were tested over a two week period on domestic flights over an hour in length. Based on the success of that trial, the airline is ready to move forward with a full deployment of the program which will allow passengers to rent an iPad for AUD$10 a flight beginning in April. The program’s scheduled launch will be dependant upon the airline finalizing license agreements with Apple. The airline hopes to use the iPads on its A320s in Australia and Asia Pacific in addition to is entire domestic and international network.AdChoices广告Airlines have already shown signs they are willing to embrace the iPad. Back in June of last year Malaysia Airlines began offering self-checkout kiosks powered by iPads and the airline’s own MHmobile app. Other airlines have also started offering iPad apps including Oneworld which is an alliance of airlines including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Mexicana and a number of other carriers.Read more at the Australian Business Traveller.
Earlier we noted that Microsoft’s Kinect gaming peripheral had topped 10 million units sold, but one bit of news that came shortly afterward is that Guinness World Records has certified the Kinect as the Fastest-Selling Consumer Electronics Device, topping gadgets like the iPhone, the iPad, the Nintendo Wii, and every other device you’ve seen people line up for outside of stores in the pouring rain to get their hands on. Guinness says Kinect sold an average of 133,333 units per day, and hit 8 million units sold in the first 60 days it was on sale, beating out all rivals not just in the gaming category but all consumer electronics in general. The award was confirmed yesterday, and the new record will be included in the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition book. [via CrunchGear]
You’ll pay $12 to see a movie in theaters and $5 to rent a new movie at your local Blockbuster (well, fewer and fewer on the latter front, I suppose). How much would you pay to rent a movie fresh out of theaters, not quite ready for the DVD release? A number of major Hollywood studios are betting that the number is pretty high. Time Warner, Sony, Comcast and News Corp-owned studios are experimenting with new rental pricing–$30 a pop.The studios have christened the new pricing plan “premium VOD.” The main justification for the pricey entrance fee is the absurd amount of money is costs to actually watch a film in theaters. Now, granted, the aforementioned $12 is New York prices–the national average is apparently closer to $8. But let’s say you invite some friends over and make popcorn in your microwave. You may actually be getting off cheap at $30.At the very least, this is a sign that Hollywood is open and reasonably flexible when it comes to monetizing films in the future–and heck, it sure beats the MPAA’s standard policy of suing Internet users.The films will be available 60 days after their theatrical run ends. The studios don’t expect premium VOD to eat into box office, as the lion’s share of money comes from the first few weeks of a film’s release.
Ubisoft took the wraps off the newest iteration in the Far Cry series of games at E3 last night. Far Cry 3 will land for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 in 2012, and will shed a little of the character selection elements from Far Cry 2 but retail the open-world and player-dictated storyline that fans of Far Cry 2 will remember.The game puts you in the shoes of Jason Brody, a man stranded on a distant tropical island armed with his wits and whatever he can find to try and make sense of what’s going on around him. As you play the game, the reasons why you land on this island and what secrets it holds become clear, along with why the island is empty aside from groups of bloodthirsty pirates and mercenaries who are all armed to the teeth. If this sounds like a return to the original Far Cry, it should: the story is a bit reminiscent of the original Far Cry title, complete with beautiful tropical vistas, just perhaps missing the genetic experiments and mutants.AdChoices广告Ubisoft wants to retain some of the best features from Far Cry 2 as well though – players will still get to decide who they’re friends with and which enemies they make along the way. They want the game to be accessible to players who have never played a Far Cry game before as well, so expect a clean break between storylines.The official Far Cry 3 page doesn’t have much on it at the moment aside from some promo art for the game and links to follow the game’s progress on Facebook and Twitter. You can also hop in the forums to chat with other users, or download the gorgeous tropical environments the game will take place in as wallpapers. If the art is any indication, Far Cry 3 will look just as stunning as the previous two games when it’s released later next year.Read more at Far Cry
The Vioguard anti-bacterial keyboard has received US FDA approval for use in healthcare, the start-up has announced. This means that hospitals and other such sterile environments can use the keyboards.The keyboard works by extending for use and retracting when it’s out of use. When it retracts into its housing, two germicidal 25-watt ultraviolet lights bake bacteria, viruses, and mold in seconds. The technology kills at least 99.99% of bugs like flu, MRSA, and other contagions. The fact that the Vioguard does it automatically makes it convenient for hospitals that would normally have to resort to manual cleaning. What’s more, the keyboard is brought out and put back using a hands-free mechanism triggered by sensors. Vioguard was founded by Microsoft alums in the Seattle suburbs and was previously trying to sell the device to individual customers for $900 a pop. FDA clearance, however, may help the company tap the massive demand in an enterprise environment that requires sterility. The start-up is currently looking for partners to help it bring the keyboard to market.via GeekWireBlake’s OpinionComputers are being used more and more in health care, but the growth is happening in the actual place of care. Much noise has been made about electronic health records and other data-based innovations for administrators and insurers, but computers have finally made the jump into the room where the actual work is being done. Cutting-edge doctors of all kinds, and even dentists, are using computers for digital imaging, diagnostics, and handling their own scheduling. Since the guys who get messy are finally getting their hands on computers in their places of work, sterilizing computers will become an increasingly important problem to solve. Whoever sterilizes the iPad is sure to make a fortune.
If you are starting to make plans for this year’s summer vacation, you may want to add Dusseldorf, Germany to your list of possible destinations. Where else in the world can you take your family to a theme park built into the remains of a nuclear reactor?Before you start shopping for a personal geiger counter, the theme park named Wunderland Kalkar was built inside a facility that has never been put into operation. Originally called SNR-300, construction delays and resident protests forced a cessation of efforts to bring the plant online. The site sat dormant until Hennie van der Most, a Dutch entrepreneur, purchased it with the idea of making it into an amusement park for families. Right now Wunderland Kalkar has 40 outdoor attractions including a swing ride that puts thrill seekers over the top of the facilities cooling tower. Guests can also enjoy eating at one of the park’s four restaurants or getting some liquid courage from the seven different themed pubs available. There is even a hotel for people wanting to stay overnight to make sure they hit all the rides. Included with the price of admission are all you-can-eat french fries, soft drinks and ice cream. Sounds like a pretty good deal!Currently van der Most is again showing his ingenuity by constructing an indoor theme park designed for use during the cold winter months. This indoor amusement area is being built right into the unused reactor building, which can be seen as either creepy or smart depending on the way you look at it. Looking at Wunderland’s website, the video shown makes it look like any other amusement park we have seen, and a good one at that. It must have something going for it as the park boasts an attendance of over 600,000 guests a year. Read more at Wired
There was a time when Tucows was the place to go to find software for your Windows computer. You can still find software there, but the company is throwing its weight behind a new venture: a discount cellular carrier called Ting.Ting is utilizing Sprint‘s wireless backbone to provide service, and they’re not doing contracts. Instead, they offer six usage tiers for minutes, text, and data, and they’ve sized them like clothing (XS through XXL). For $50 per month, you can build a plan that offers 500 minutes of airtime, 4,000 text messages, and one gig of data. A similar plan from Sprint runs $49.99 without data — which adds another $15 to the price tag.If you use more minutes than you’ve planned for or send a few too many texts, Ting turns a blind eye and bumps you up to the appropriate level for the next billing cycle. They’ll also automatically bump you down if you’re way under your pre-selected limits. There’s also a handy dashboard that’s constantly updated so that you can keep watch over your usage — even though they’re not going to ding you if you get a little carried away. Need multiple devices on your account? They’re $6 a piece (even if you have just one) and there’s no limit to how many you can add. All your devices draw on the same pool of minutes, text, and data.As for hardware, since Ting is running on Sprint’s airwaves it’s also running their phones. They’ve got a small line-up at the moment with notable models including the Motorola Photon at $545 ($4.99 less than the off-contract price from Sprint) and the HTC Detail (better known as the Evo Shift 4G) for $395. The rest of Ting’s smartphone range is populated with low-end options like the Sanyo Zio, LG Optimus S, and Samsung Transform. Data-only devices are available as well, with USB sticks from Novatel and Sierra on offer — as well as the MiFi 2200 for those who want to share their data plans among a number of devices.Ting certainly seems to have clear, uncomplicated billing policies, and good rates. But with only a couple of good handsets on offer and off-contract pricing required to take one home, how good do you think their chances are in an era when the sudbsidized superphone is king?More at TechCrunch and Ting
The bane of mobile gaming isn’t its casual approach or the lack of blockbuster graphics, but rather the constraints that touchscreen controls put on the actual gameplay. When games work well on a touchscreen, it’s generally because the design was done with those controls in mind. With the Play controller PhoneJoy Solutions intends to help the mobile gaming arena break from the usual slew of touch games and open it up to more complex titles.The Play extends from the middle and is adjustable to smartphones of all shapes and sizes, as well as both iOS and Android operating systems. It also works as a standalone controller — compatible with Windows, OS X, and Linux — if you are interested in non-mobile gaming. The Play even works when a smartphone is connected to a larger display or projector.The Play can house smartphones up to 153mm wide and 14mm thick, and has a wireless range of up to 30 feet. It comes with 14 programmable buttons, two pressure-sensitive analog sticks, and a battery that lasts more than 20 hours. It also sports BlueTooth 3.0, and is currently supported by more than 300 games on iOS and Android.Setup is fairly simple for both iOS and Android. For Android, players will require at least Android 2.1, and will connect the controller, load the PlayJoy app, follow the app’s simple pairing instructions. For iOS, players simply need to turn on the controller, activate iCade mode — one of four specific compatibility modes for the controller — and then pair and connect the controller in the iOS settings. For Windows, OS X, and Linux, pairing just requires one of those four specific modes. PhoneJoy also provides similar pairing methods to get the controller working with jailbroken devices.A pledge of $50 is the minimum that’ll net you a controller, whereas a $499 pledge will get you a controller that is fully customized to your specifications (within reason). The project was put up today, so go check it out if you want to help the rise of hardcore games on mobile devices, or if you just really need a PC gaming controller that has the benefit of working with your phone.The Play most likely won’t be responsible for more complicated games suddenly appearing on mobile devices, but the only way to get them to appear is to provide a way they could work — and touchscreen controls just aren’t enough.
The Dragon Quest name may be recognized around the world, but it’s Japan where the series both originates from and counts most of its fans. So it wasn’t that surprising to discover the first eight Dragon Quest games are being ported to mobile platforms. Specifically, Android and iOS devices will be able to play them all, at least in Japan.What is surprising, and confirms just how popular Dragon Quest is in Japan, is the fact the series is set to get its very own branded smartphone.The SH-01F smartphone is being manufactured by Sharp and is a variant of the Aquos Phone Zeta. It will include a 5-inch 1080 x 1920 resolution touchscreen display, a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processors, 3,000mAh battery, and a 15.9 megapixel camera on the back (2.1 megapixel camera on the front). It will run Android 4.2 and is apparently waterproof, meeting the IPX5 standard.The Dragon Quest branding can be seen on the back of the device, with the silver color called Metal Slime and several characters being printed across it alongside the Square Enix logo. A free copy of Dragon Quest VIII will come preinstalled on the device, and I’m sure there’s going to be some graphical modifications on the phone to enhance the branding further.There’s no details on price or availability beyond a December launch, but this is definitely going to be an expensive phone to get your hands on. NTT DoCoMo is only going to offer 30,000 of them, so you can imagine a few auctions occurring soon after launch.As for Dragon Quest VIII, you may be surprised to find Square Enix has decided the mobile version will be played in portrait mode on devices. You can see it in action in the video below:This actually makes sense on a phone because a lot of time is spent in combat in the game, which therefore requires regular screen tapping. By making it a portrait game, it’s going to be much easier to do that holding the phone in one hand, say, when you’re commuting to work.