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Katy Hollingsworth

Katy is a 23 year old graduate of Texas State University, with a bachelor’s in Mass Communications. She specializes in writing and editing in video games journalism and is an avid PC gamer. Currently located in Seattle, WA, Katy lives with her boyfriend and cat and enjoys everything in the horror genre.

Check Out Your Local Comic Book Shops, Libraries, and Bookstores for Batman Day

The 75th anniversary of Batman is today, and hundreds of book and comic book stores are celebrating the occasion.

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Dark Knight, and hundreds of stores across the country are joining in on the celebration.

Today (July 23) only, participating book and comic book stores will be giving away free copies of Detective Comics #27 Special Edition, an updated look at how Bruce Wayne was introduced to the world that includes stories by Brad Meltzer, Scott Snyder, Bryan Hitch and Sean Murphy. It also includes Batman’s very first adventure, “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate”, reprinted in full.

Saturday (July 26), libraries will be joining in on the fun with Batman-themed activities and giveaways, including the free edition.

Check in with your local stores to see if they’re celebrating. All Hastings, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million stores are participating nationwide! 

Celebration will continue as long as supplies last so get there early. Not all items available at participating locations.

Comcast Says Its Policies Are Responsible for Customer Harassment

Remember that Comcast customer service call we posted last week? Comcast admits its policies are to blame.

Comcast isn’t known for being the best in customer service. In fact, after last week’s customer service call with Ryan Block and his wife went viral, I’m pretty sure most people will be steering far and wide of Comcast’s services in the future.

It may be too little too late, but Comcast has recently announced that it will be reexamining its customer service policies, which are currently focused on keeping subscribers from leaving–even if that means harrassing them. Those who work in customer service probably understand the agent’s determination in keeping the subscriber. Most agents’ paychecks come from the number of customers they lose and how many are kept from leaving.

Comcast’s COO Dave Watson said in a leaked letter that “…the agent on this call did a lot of what we trained him and paid him … to do… That said, it was painful to listen to this call, and I am not surprised that we have been criticized for it.”

Watson continued in his letter,

“When the company has moments like these, we use them as an opportunity to get better, and that’s what we’re going to do. We will review our training programs, we will refresh our manager on coaching for quality, and we will take a look at our incentives to ensure we are rewarding employees for the right behaviors. We can, and will, do better.”

What do you think? Is Comcast doing too little, too late?

Do You Think Dark Souls Is Hard? Try The Dumbshits Guide to Dark Souls

Did you pick up Dark Souls on the Steam Summer Sale, or just never got around to playing it on your console? Start now with The Dumbshits Guide to Dark Souls!

If you ever picked up Dark Souls and actually played it, then you know that the game is boasted as being incredibly difficult. I’ve played over 75 hours and have multiple characters, all of which have taken a massive beating throughout the course of the game.

If you haven’t played it, but are afraid of how hard people make the game sound, fear not; The Dumbshits Guide to Dark Souls playlist is for you.

The problem with typical Dark Souls guides is that they’re long, boring, and can be difficult to follow. You won’t run in to those issues with the Dumbshits guide. In fact, you may have to watch one a couple of times before fully grasping the area.

Veterans of the title can appreciate the humor of these situations while newbies can learn exactly what they’re supposed to do when they happen upon the Asylum Demon for the first time.

You can check out the entire playlist here, which goes all the way up to Sen’s Funhouse Fortress.

Google Offers Free Training Courses in Android Development

Want to get into Android development but have no idea where to start? Google can help with that.

Want to get into mobile development, but have no idea where to look for resources? “Developing Android Apps: Android Fundamentals” was launched by the head of the scalable developer advocacy, Reto Meier, on the Android Developers blog. The course consists of videos from Google developer advocates, quizzes, and forums that take students through the process of developing an app.

The course also looks at good practices for developing on Android and for mobile in general. An enrolled version of the course with Udacity offers one-on-one coaching and personalized feedback. The enrolled version of the course is $150 per month, while the self-guided courses are free.

“Mobile devices are the platform that will bring the next five billion people online. With Android expanding rapidly into emerging markets, and growing beyond phones and tablets into wearables, auto, and TV, learning the fundamentals behind Android development represents an opportunity to affect and improve the lives of billions of people,” Meier said.

Smoking Hookah Can Still Kill You

Studies are starting to show that even casually smoking hookah can be far worse than smoking cigarettes.

Students who casually smoke hookah may be smoking as many as one hundred cigarettes over the course of an hour, according to the American Lung Organization.

A recent study done by the National Institute of Health shows that not only is smoking hookah worse than smoking cigarettes because you tend to smoke hookah for a much longer period, but the levels of nicotine, carbon, and tar are far higher in hookah smoke than in cigarette smoke. That soothing, bubbling water does nearly nothing in the way of filtration.

Waterpipes not only produce more cardon dioxide, but also three to five times the amount of volatile aldehydes like formaldehyde. They also contain three times the amount of phenols, which are compounds believed to promote DNA mutations and cardiovascular disease.

Your herbal waterpipes aren’t safe, either–they deliver all the same toxicants found in tobacco except for nicotine.

So if you’re thinking about hitting the hookah bars this weekend, you may want to reconsider.

Amazon is Testing an Audio and eBook Subscription Service Called Kindle Unlimited

Love Netflix and Hulu? Want to expand your brain by reading, or listening to someone else read?

Audible.com is an Amazon service that allows you to pay a monthly subscription fee that provides one free audio book per month–meaning that anything else you want to listen to must be bought via their platform and downloaded. Sounds a little expensive, right? A monthly fee plus the cost of your favorite titles? It adds up.

And if you want to read on your Kindle or the Kindle app, you’re still buying titles. If you have a Kindle and a Prime membership, you can rent one free eBook per month. It’s not as bad given that there’s no monthly subscription fee (unless you have Prime), but if you can get more for less, why wouldn’t you?

Amazon is reportedly testing out a subscription model called Kindle Unlimited that will let you pay $9.99 a month and have access to unlimited titles and audiobooks (of which there are thousands) from the Amazon library.

Amazon hasn’t announced anything about this new service, but rumors have been flying for months. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Must Haves for Back to School

Rydis U60, Livescribe Sky SmartPen, Samsung Chromebook 2 and more

Samsung Gear

Whether you’ve got an older model of the Galaxy or the newest, the Gear is great for students. Available in several models that can do just about everything, the Gear allows you to keep up with calls, texts, and emails without ever pulling out your phone in front of your professor. The Gear comes with a silent and vibrate mode so you never have a watch beeping in class, and with the built-in camera you can take pictures of presentations, notes, lectures, and other students browsing Reddit.

Available in a variety of colors, the Gear comes in the original model, the Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo, the Gear Fit, and the Gear Live. Visit Samsung.com for information.

Kindle or Kindle App

Not many students currently own a Kindle, and those that do don’t often know that you can rent etextbooks online from Amazon and download them to your Kindle. Why carry around a huge backpack full of books when you can simply download them to your Kindle or Kindle Fire?

Keep notes and annotations through Notebook for Kindle, which displays colored highlights, saved images, and bookmarks. You can even access the notes after the rental expires.

Pricing is far more reasonable than buying or renting hard copies, and you only have to pay for the rental length (30 to 360 days). It’s easy to convert your rental to a purchase if you actually like the textbook.

You can also rent etextbooks on the free Kindle app for tablets. You can visit Amazon.com/Kindle for more information.

iPad Mini

Retailing at only $299 for a 16GB with Wi-Fi, the iPad Mini is a perfect solution for students who need a smaller tablet for on the go. Take notes and record video and audio through the countless App Store choices, and keep up to date on appointments and email without having to tote around a chunky laptop. Record in 1080p and use FaceTime in 720p with the A5 dual-core chip.

Use this in conjunction with the Kindle App to save yourself hundreds of dollars on textbooks and notebooks. Upgrade to the Retina display for only $100 more.

With up to ten hours of battery life, you can record lectures and never miss a thing. An iPad mini with a cellular connection will cost you $130 more and reduces your battery life to nine hours. Though it stocks a little less power than the full-size iPad, for the price you get a lot of bang for your buck.  For more information, visit Apple.com/iPad-Mini.

 

Samsung Chromebook 2

If you’re more of a laptop person than a tablet person, the Chromebook is a perfect light-weight option for the classroom. The premium leather-like cover adds a unique design to this thin laptop. Powered by the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa processor, this chromebook has a 10-second cold boot-up time and faster WiFi connection.

Combine all that with an 8-hour battery life and Chrome OS, and you’ve got the perfect laptop for any class. Back up important lecture notes and presentations with 100GB free cloud storage for two years.

The Samsung Chromebook 2 retails for $299.99 for an 11.6” display, or $399.99 for a 13.3” inch display. For more information, visit Samsung.com/Chromebook2.

Livescribe Sky Smartpen

Not one to carry a laptop or tablet, but still want the incredibly time-efficient note-saving tech? The Livescribe is the perfect option for students who still prefer to keep their pen to the paper. The Livescribe Sky smartpen allows you to jot down everything you need, then upload the saved data to an Evernote account via Wi-Fi, so you’ll never lose important information. The Sky also records up to 400 hours of audio, which can be replayed on any device.

The Livescribe smartpen comes in several models, including the Livescribe 3, which works exclusively with iPads, iPhones, iPods, and iOS 7 or later. The 4GB Sky retails for $199.95, and the Livescribe 3 retails for 149.95. Visit Livescribe.com to find your perfect fit.

HP Photosmart 6520 All-In-One Printer

Got a class with a professor who seems to hate modern technology, or won’t let you turn in work online? Need to print posters to promote your latest attempt at a band or your new club? The HP Photosmart 6520 makes it incredibly easy to print from almost anywhere. This wireless printer, which retails for only $119.99, allows you to send notes from your classroom or the café straight to your printer through an exclusive email address specifically assigned to your printer.

You can also connect your smartphone directly to the printer without a network thanks to its peer-to-peer wireless connection. You can also scan, copy, and send faxes without a phone line. Visit Shopping.HP.com for more information.

Moneual UV-C Vacuum Cleaner Rydis U60

No one wants to walk into a dusty dorm room full of allergens. If you live on your own and have pets, their dander can cause some of the worst allergies that you will ever experience. So how can you clean up and reduce allergens at the same time? That is where the Rydis U60 from Monueal comes in. This amazing handheld vacuum uses a UV light on the bottom of the vacuum to kill dust mites and sanitize your bedding, carpet, drapes and even clothes! Complete with a vibration pad and a 600W motor power, this vacuum is little but can do better than vacuums three times its size.

The filter might be the easiest filter of all time to clean, which is perfect for those college students who don’t have time to figure out a Rubik’s Cube of a filter in order to clean it out.

New Blink 182 Album Confirmed via Instagram

Even though most of us are in our 20s-30s now, we can all still hate our parents.

Tom DeLonge confirmed on Instagram yesterday that Blink 182 is working on a new album.

Though no other details are known besides the description, we can expect to hear more once the band is done with their August shows and their headline performance for the Reading and Leeds festival.

Travis Barker also took to Instagram to start the hype.

We haven’t seen a full-length Blink ablum since 2011’s “Neighborhoods,” and fans are beginning to get excited for the band’s seventh full-length album. DeLonge has been busy with his Angels and Airwaves band, Hoppus has started a “Nothing and Nobody” project, and Barker has kept active in other various projects as well.

This Comcast Customer Service Call Will Make You Rage

When Ryan Block attempts to cancel his Comcast service over the phone, he’s met with some serious aggression from the Comcast service rep.

 

When Ryan Block and his wife call into Comcast to try and cancel their service, the rep is more than resistant–he downright refuses. Multiple times. He repeats his questions over and over in an aggressive tone without ever actually agreeing to disconnect the service.

When the conversation began, the rep was actually speaking with Block’s wife, who became so upset that she simply handed Block the phone.

The ten-minute conversation is enough for anyone to get their morning dose of WTF. What customer service horror stories do you have?

 

 

 

Want to Boost Your Resume? Try Learning to Code with Code Academy

Knowing how to code can really boost your resume, especially for non-computer science majors.

This past weekend I took to learning PHP on Code Academy. I run my own blog through WordPress with GoDaddy hosting, and find that most of the themes I work in run on PHP. I began coding back in the early 2000s through a summer camp for kids (I was around 12), and I taught myself a great deal about HTML and CSS. However, given that my knowledge on coding is so dated, I figured it was well past time to update my current knowledge and learn some new languages.

I won’t lie, I didn’t major in computer science in college. I’m incredibly savvy when it comes to technology, but don’t ask me how the whole thing works. My Mass Communications degree only tuned me in to the history of the Internet–not the guts and gears that make it run. 

Code Academy is a wonderful solution to that.

Firstly, it’s completely interactive. You’ll see the code and edit it through their interface, earning badges as you complete lessons. Thus far I’ve learned basic PHP strings and commands, and I’m currently learning control and flow. You’ll get a handle on if/else statements and commands like echo (probably the most basic, but hey, it’s something).

Code Academy is completely free and teaches languages like HTML, PHP, JavaScript and Ruby. You can also create a myriad of APIs, which are crucial in developing.

Each lesson varies in time, though the PHP course is estimated to take around 4 hours depending on how quickly you move.

Coding is a great skill to have on a resume, especially for writers.

If your resume is looking a little… well, bare, then coding may be just the ticket to boosting your chances at an interview. Given that most businesses operate in both a physical and online space, companies want to pick out candidates with a bit of knowledge that can benefit them in more than one area. Knowing popular languages can only help you.

If you’re looking for a career in copywriting, content creation, or even managing social media for a company, knowing code will make you stand out among other candidates. Technical knowledge in a more creative/editorial role is an ideal mixture for any content-focused company.