Dance Dance Resolution: The Story of a Young Man’s Unusual Weight Loss Method

“It’s so funny to say that a video game saved my life,” exclaims Mike Jameson, an athletic 21-year-old psychology major wearing a t-shirt with ARMY in bold letters across the front.
Jameson is referring to his dramatic weight loss, a feat to be envied by the 66% of adult Americans who are obese or overweight, according to The National Center For Health Statistics.

“Experts” are constantly promoting the latest weight loss methods from dieting to surgery. Jameson no longer had need for any of these solutions when he discovered a much more “fun” way to lose weight: playing a video game.

In one year he lost eighty pounds, a feat which he attributes to Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), a video game played by dancing in time on pads connected to the machine. Neighborhood friends introduced Jameson, a junior in high school at the time, to the game and soon he was playing an hour a day, five days a week and spending 50 dollars a week.

Jameson says that he found DDR to be “better than a run, so much more fun,” and he soon beat every song at every level. He eventually bought the game and the dance pads off of E-bay for $200.

Initially his determination in this situation might appear unusual, but a conversation with Jameson quickly revealed that he displays the same passion in all areas of his life.

He laughs as he tells me about joining a swim team for the first time in his life because of a cute swim team girl he met during student orientation. While that relationship didn’t work out, Jameson’s relationship with swimming did, and he ended up going to nationals. And at nationals he discovered a room that had a DDR player.

“I remember sneaking up to the DDR area,” he tells me-he was trying to avoid his coach who was regulating their exercise; he was caught and sent back to the rest of the team.

DDR isn’t the only video game that Jameson has tangled with-he also is an expert at World of Warcraft, a game with 7 million subscribers according to Sunday Times (London).

“It’s like virtual crack,” he says and warns me to never start playing.

Along with DDR and World of Warcraft is Jameson’s addiction to Guitar Hero 3, a popular video game that can be played against opponents on the Internet. At one point he was in ninth place on the Internet out of tens of thousands of players.

“I’m a competitive guy. If I like it, I wanna be the best at it.”

His guitar hero expertise is well known-as he sat down to interview, a friend of his came up and said that she hoped to challenge him sometime because of his reputation.

The guitar hero challenger was not the only student to come up and chat with him during our interview; Mike is not a reclusive video game obsessor. He is very personable, friendly, and surprisingly well adjusted considering his less than ‘perfect’ background.

In 1998, when he was in 7th grade, Mike’s parents divorced, and he and his sister weekly alternated living with each parent. Though he didn’t carry the emotional baggage that often characterizes the children of divorcees-“I have a lot of resilience”-it was at this point that he stopped playing sports and ignored the onset of his weight gain.

Life is tough for most adolescents in high school, and being overweight brought Mike more than his fair share of ridicule.

“When’s your baby due?” was a comment thrown at him-one he said he’ll probably remember for the rest of his life.

“You’d look less gay if you played tuba instead of clarinet,” another student told him, causing him to take up tuba.

Even while he was teased at school, he was supported at home.

In an e-mail interview, Mike’s mother said that she was never too worried about Mike’s weight, but was confidant that once Mike reached puberty, he would react positively to the changes in his body.

His mother’s optimism about Mike’s weight was eventually validated, though not through any ordinary method. During his 11th grade year, as his DDR addiction grew-staying up to four hours on some days-he went from 250 to 170 pounds.

His weight loss was gradual and it didn’t initially register until one day he looked at an old picture and was shocked at the difference.

“Once Mike began to lose weight, he was still our same Mike…because it came off gradually and slowly. However, he was most definitely more confident,” his mother says of the transformation.

And the ladies noticed.

“Girls that I liked before (losing weight) started to like me. I dated a lot-just to date almost.” In his senior year he had twelve girlfriends and, in his words, became “a little cocky,” when people started to notice his new physique.

This is not hard to believe; Jameson is tall, dark, and handsome with a perpetual smile, and an engaging manner.

He soon settled down and was the same friendly and determined boy that he had always been-a boy who loves to entertain.

“I’m a performer,” he explains one reason for his enjoyment of DDR. “I do like being in front.” He describes dancing at Disneyland while people walked by. “At the end of the song I’d hear ‘wow’ and I’d look around.”

Mike’s desire to perform has served him well. Aside from enabling his swimming talents it has allowed him to pursue his current dream-the army.

Mike has recently been contracted into the army through the ROTC program at Biola and is training to become an Army Ranger; he’s not in it for the scholarship money.

“I’m doing something that millions will never do or…try.” His rigorous training-up to ten and a half hours a week-is simply another challenge that he is conquering. This desire to succeed is appreciated by his girlfriend, Karen:

“He’s very ambitious…if he sets his mind to anything, he’ll do it,” she said, in a phone interview, explaining one of the qualities that she admires about him.

Karen also appreciates the effect Mike’s “fat years” has had on his personality. His ugly duckling story has allowed him to avoid the arrogance that taints many “good-looking” guys.

“He’s very different because he grew up with that fat mentality-he’s very genuine.”

Besides being genuine, she also found him easy to talk to; their early phone conversations lasted three hours.

But then, Mike has many traits that set him apart from others.

“Mike is one of the few people I know who easily lets things go…I have never known him to hold a grudge, he has always been loving and forgiving,” his mother said.

When asked about his positive attitude towards life, he says that he has been lucky and blessed.

“I’ve got a good balance…I’m happy with who I am,” are his thoughts on his natural contentedness and perseverance.

This perseverance has guided Mike through video games and “real life” alike; after he beat every song on the video game guitar hero, he developed a desire to play the real guitar. He taught himself and has become a proficient guitarist.

“He’s amazing,” Karen says of his guitar skills. And her appreciation is fully merited; they actually met at a wedding that he was playing guitar at.

And ROTC? It was really just the next step from virtual reality.

“It’s a video game in life.”

*names changed for privacy

Forge of Empires Cheats

Cheats for Forge of Empires

Recently I’ve been playing a lot of Forge of Empires, it’s without a doubt my new favorite mobile game. There’s a lot of strategy involved in the game, which makes it very fun to play. It’s also quite balanced. There’s one thing that throws off the balance though and that’s that you can pay real money to get ahead through micro-transactions. Luckily one of my friends who also plays the game know of a site that offers Forge of Empires Cheats which allows me to generate resources, coins and diamonds for free. It has helped me a lot in staying competitive in the game, without having to spend thousands of dollars. You might think that I’m exaggerating when I say thousands of dollars, but the people in the top Forge of Empires clans actually spend way more than that. I simply could not afford to keep spending $100+ a month on a mobile game so I’m glad that there’s a website out there that offers cheats for Forge of Empires.

To be fair, I’m not sure exactly how these Forge of Empires cheats work, but they do the job and I’ve been using them for months without having my account getting in any trouble. If you’re a fan of strategy games like me you can download Forge of Empires here for Android or here for iOS. I highly recommend the game if you’re looking for a new game to play, and if you do decide to start playing then you should definitely use the cheats I mentioned. They will make Forge of Empires so much more enjoyable. I would not know what to do without them, I might have quit the game already if it wasn’t for those cheats. Although I do have to admit that the game is quite time consuming and pretty addicting. I used to not be a very big fan of mobile games, but Forge of Empires has converted me and convinced me that mobile games can be just as fun and challenging as games on PC!


Nanotechnology Fabrication Takes Massive Leap

Nanotech Fabrication

Nanotube fabrication took another leap forward with the announcement in the journal Advanced Materials of a method for creating the ultra-small structures in virtually any length desired. A research team in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois have created a system akin to a fountain pen for the process.
The project, led by Professor Min-Feng Yu, fabricated a micropipette with an aperture just 100 nanometers wide, and connected it to a reservoir filled with the special ink to create freestanding nanoblocks, wires, and tubes as long as 16 millimeters.

“The process is like drawing with a fountain pen – the ink comes out and quickly dries or ‘solidifies,’ ” said Yu in a press release from the University of Illinois. “But, unlike drawing with a fountain pen, we can draw objects in three dimensions.”

The technique is similar to one developed by a colleague at Illinois revealed earlier this year, but her process used a pipette roughly ten times larger than that used in this process, and also required the creation of a new type of ink.

The breakthrough process shows promise in a variety of fields, ranging from electronics to power transmission, and could revolutionize microchip technology. And perhaps, beyond. As a proof the versatility of the technology, the team created a variety of nanostructures from materials as diverse as sugar, potassium hydroxide (a commonly used chemical in manufacturing), and densely packed quantum dots.

Current manufacture of electronic circuits requires careful etching and deposition of ceramo-metallic substances within the etches to build microcircuits, and that technology is rapidly approaching its limits in scaling. The possibility with the sol-gel process is to directly write the circuits onto the substrate, eliminating the painstaking etching and templating process. The etching and templating process creates impurities that can cause up to one in ten of the manufactured microcircuits to be unusable and end up as trash.

“Our procedure offers an economically viable alternative for the direct-write manufacture of nanofibers made from many materials,” Yu said. “In addition, the process can be used to integrate nanoscale and microscale components.”

Principal authors of the paper were graduate students Abhijit Suryavanshi and Jie Hu, working under Yu’s supervision. Work was funded in part by the Grainger Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Advanced Materials published the article January 31 on its website in advance of it going to print.

How the Internet Has Improved My Quality of Life as a Blind Man

The internet improved my life

There are many technological innovations which have improved quality of life for blind people such as myself. There’s the screenreader, speech synthesizer, refreshable Braille display, notetakers, and even a couple talking GPS systems. It is my opinion, however, that no innovation has had as big an impact as the internet. The internet has opened many doors to us which either weren’t open, or were cluttered with obstacles in the past.
First, the internet, and email in particular, allows for easier communication with friends and family, both blind and sighted. In the past, if you wanted to send a sighted person a letter, you could record it on tape, type it up on a typewriter, or have someone write it in print for you. Now, you can send off an email in a matter of seconds. It’s even made communicating with other blind people easier. For one thing, not all blind people, even those of us who are totally blind, read braille. For another, braille paper isn’t cheap. In short, the internet has made written communication for the blind much more simple.

The internet has made it easier than ever for myself and other blind people to pay our own bills. In the past, you’d either have to use telephone banking, have a friend or family member help you write your checks, or use some sort of cumbersome check guide. Now, I log on to the site of whoever I need to pay, or onto my bank’s website, and set up the payment in a few minutes. No more hoping my friend wrote the right amount on the check, no more mailing the payment.

The internet has also opened up a world of material which used to only be available in printed form. Now, I can read the newspaper, look up phone numbers and addresses, search for information, and research products with just a few keyboard commands. No more having to ask someone to transcribe printed materials for me, or to read them out loud. Now, almost any magazine or newspaper I want to read, or any subject I want more information on, is available online.

Probably the biggest thing the internet has done for me as a blind person is given me more personal freedom in shopping. In the past, I’d either have to go to the store with someone, or go alone and hope the store would provide an employee to assist me without complaining too much. Grocery stores are usually willing to do this, but in my experience, most department stores and non-grocery stores, if they do provide assistance, do it grudgingly. Now, when it’s time to buy Christmas presents for my wife, I can simply go to whatever online store I want, find the products I want, add them to my cart, and order them. Then, I can choose to have the items shipped to me, or in many cases, choose in-store pick-up and pick them up when we’re out and about. I can also take my time picking things out, and not have to worry that the sighted worker assisting me is going to be in a hurry, or not have to take up a family member or friend’s time.

I realize the above items have also made life easier for most sighted people. The difference is, it’s given me more independence; it’s simply given you another choice. The internet is a wonderful thing; let’s never forget it.

Top Car Tech Review: Mecedes, BMW, and Acura Don’t Even Make the Cut

The field of consumer electronics is the most apt to experiment with new technology. The devices they create are relatively inexpensive and the risk is relatively small to both the consumer as well as the manufacturer. If new products, coupled with new technology fail, it is quickly forgotten and seldom held against them. However, the most unlikely candidate for experimental technology is the automotive industry. Yet this is where we find the next level of serious innovation.

General Motors EN-V

Imagine you could slap an exo-skeleton onto a Segway scooter and drive it around town in the throngs of regular road traffic. If your imagination served you well then you would find yourself cruising through the city streets in the General Motors EN-V. The name stands for “Electric Network Vehicle” and even though it may lack the panache of a Tesla Roadster this little pod makes up for its lack of sexy lines with new gadgets for the techies. The vehicle can rotate 360 degrees, can park itself, and you can summon it via your phone…you are almost irrelevant. We may be seeing the driving experience transforming into a friendly and autonomous user interface versus the hands-on offensive attitude utilized since the invention of the automobile. “Driving” as we know may be rapidly being redefined.

Audi’s new Heads Up Display

Not every manufacturer has taken the giant leap into redesigning its vehicles. Audi has implemented new technologies under the the skin of more traditional looking vehicles. Audi has introduced a new Heads Up Display (HUD) that appears to be nearly a 3-D hologram. Most of the HUD’s to date were not friendly to the eyes and depending on the driver’s height the read-outs could either be useful or completely illegible. Audi has corrected this problem by making the display adjustable to the driver’s height and field of vision. TFT projection in standard RGB (Red, Green, Blue) becomes the difference between a home run and a grand slam.

Tesla Roadster 2012

The 2012 Tesla Roadster looks more aggressive than ever. Instead of the standard single color scheme the two-tone orange and white layout takes every line and curve of the body and slapped the viewer square across the cheek. The king of electric cars created earlier models that had looked like a 15 year-old’s rendition of a custom Lotus Elise drawn with Crayola crayons. But not this year. With over 100 miles per charge and neck-breaking acceleration Tesla’s job here is complete.

The Ford “MyTouch”

Its not often that Ford cars ever fall into direct competition with, well, any new car technology. But that is changing so fast that I feel out of sorts; almost as if I had entered the Twilight Zone. Ford has taken the liberty of incorporating the “MyFord Touch” display that not only handles music settings and GPS navigation with ease but is just waiting for any one of your 10,000 voice commands. Add to that the customizable screen and they may have bridged the gap with a complete user interface with minimal distraction in driving. I spent a few minutes wondering how they did it. How did they beat Mercedes and BMW to the punch? Then I snapped out of it. Who cares? It’s here and I want it now! I wonder if the ambient light setting has a selection for “Blast me out of my boots with a lightning bolt blue”.