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The Re-Release of Grand Theft Auto Five is Well Worth the Money

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto 5 saw a re-release recently, if only to prove that the game is just as much fun as it was three years ago. Having recently played the new version, I can say with certainty that a new coat of paint was all that was needed to make GTA5 feel like a brand new AAA game

Usually re-releases are meant to capitalize on nostalgia, often exposing flaws not apparent upon the original release, but GTA5 has aged incredibly well. Following the adventures of career criminals Michael, Franklin and Trevor, the game takes them all across the fictional Los Angeles analogue of Los Santos as they deal with the fallout of a bank heist gone wrong.

I have played both the original release and the new re-release of GTA5 and the small additions are very helpful to the game, overall. The major new addition is the first-person view. In past GTA games, the only time first-person was available was while driving. The addition of this perspective to combat has fixed a lot problems the series has had in past with laggy guns and generally unexciting combat.

While the open world gameplay has long been the draw of the grand theft auto franchise, GTA5 biggest achievement is its writing. The game is completely sick and over the top but deftly manages to ground itself in the emotional core of its characters relationships. While Michael’s cheating wife and wannabe gangster son are a major source of humor in the game, they are also Michael’s major motivation for most of his actions and provide the usual chaos of GTA with a heartfelt edge. Even a character like twisted hillbilly Trevor, who spends a particularly disturbing mission torturing a terrorist suspect, has emotional depth. His brotherly relationship with Michael is a major source of conflict for the game, but also one of its most relatable story moments.

Where the previous game in the franchise was overly concerned with realism, often to its detriment, this game is all about over the top fun. You will rappel down skyscrapers, shoot rocket launchers out of helicopters and much more. The best gameplay addition to this iteration is heist mode. At various point in the game, the three protagonists will be tasked with pulling off various criminal heists, from robbing banks to steal government property. These are some of the most exciting missions. One in which you rappel down the side of a government building is my personal favorite. These heists add significant replay value and leads to some of the games more high-octane moments.

If the game falters anywhere, it is in length. Like GTA4, this game is just too long. There is an incredibly amount of depth within the game, but after 30 or more hours, it can become tiresome. The dialogue keeps the characters fresh, but the overarching plot becomes lost in the shuffle. When you finally reach the ending, which is also the weakest moment of the story, a lot of the emotional punch has been lost as one can hardly remember how you managed to get there.

I would definitely recommend the re-release of GTA5. While it is still too long, a problem that can not really be fixed, any issues with boring combat have been taken care of. The zanier action means the game is a lot more fun as a pure sandbox than GTA. If you like the open world style, than GTA5 is still the best example you are going to find. It is bound to keep you invested long after the story is over.


Top 5 social networks for 2016

Social networks have become so prevalent that you would have to be comatose to miss out on the benefits of it. Outside of knowing what they are, most people in the world are also active users of one or more of the most popular social networks.

People use social networking for a wide variety of reasons. Originally the trend was definitely restricted to socializing. From there, it moved into sharing. The power to have an image or message or idea instantly in front of so many people, lead to the surge in businesses jumping onto the social network bandwagon.

With so many to choose from, things can become confusing. However, there are a few that standout from the crowd.

First

Facebook is the reigning king of the proverbial social networking castle. Facebook was created by Mark Zuckerberg and friends in 2004. Today, anyone over the age of 13 can open a Facebook account.

Facebook STats

Facebook has mass appeal, with users from teens posting selfies, to grandmothers who post pictures of their new grandchildren. Currently, 1.5 billion registered users are active on Facebook. The ease of use makes Facebook the perfect place to keep in touch with friends and family. Meeting new people who share interests is also an enormous benefit of Facebook.

Second

YouTube is next in line. Coming onto the scene in 2005, it changed the way information was shared. YouTube made its mark by creating a platform that allows users to create, upload and share videos. This made every day users producers, in their own way. It was a unique spin that worked.

YouTube stats

Today, YouTube boasts over 1 billion registered users. It has become the first stop for people looking for information, instructions or entertainment. Users with questions search YouTube in the same manner as they do Google. It has become the modern day encyclopedia.

Third

Tumblr is a photo sharing social networking application. It played on the same type of self-produced creative outlet as YouTube. Tumblr was started in 2007 by David Karp and Marco Arment. Launched as a microblogging platform, it gained a huge following and currently hosts over 200 million microblogs and over 500 million users.

Its customization and SEO properties make it a standout for users.

Fourth

Instagram is fourth in line, but not because of lack of popularity. Instagram is a fan favorite with over 400 million registered users. Users share pictures and recently, they can also add 15 second video clips with other users.

Users have control over the imagery they post, which allows them to project any type of appearance or ‘brand’ they desire. Any fellow user who likes what they see, can follow the account.
Because of the convenience of sharing a photo straight from a smartphone, Instagram has carved out a significant piece of the social networking market for itself.

Fifth

Last, but certainly not least, Twitter lands on the list with 330 million registered users. On the scene since its inception in 2006, Twitter users post short, 140 character messages that are shared with other users. Hundreds of millions of tweets are posted a day. By 2012 the network’s popularity had soared and over 100 million users had jumped on board and registered as users.

Twitter Stats

Tweets are now one of the most powerful tools on the internet. They carry great influential power and can be extremely beneficial if used wisely.
Social networking has made quite a name for itself, and these five giants show us the power of the platform and that it is likely, here to stay.


Experience Ireland at its best‎

ireland-mapWhen traveling the world, it is clear that Ireland is home to some of the greatest hot spots for people of all ages. From the adventurous type to those who love to party the night away, there is plenty to do in this country. Check out some of the exciting must-see areas below:

Slea Head Drive

If you are looking for a breathtaking view, you have to visit Slea Head Drive. At this spot, you can see the Atlantic Ocean sweep in off the coast, while the sun’s rays shine off both the water and the mountains. This is a certain kind of scenery tourists can’t get enough of. There, visitors can also watch small fishing boats travel around the sea, while also taking a peek at the Blasket Islands off into the distance. This is the perfect spot to lay back and take in all that nature is offering.

Grafton Street

For those that are visiting Ireland around Christmastime, Grafton Street is a spot you have to check out. Located in Dublin, tourists are treated to school kids singing Christmas hymns. This area really is rather festive between the crowds, street artists and buskers. Come out and enjoy the Christmas cheer.

Kilmainham Jail

Anyone that wants to learn more about the history of Ireland should visit Kilmainham Jail. There, you will get to hear incredible stories about the lives of the men who led the infamous Easter Rising 1916 and exactly how they reacted to the idea of death. Tourists who choose to stop at Kilmainham Jail throughout their time at Ireland will be granted the chance to stand in the actual cells where these inmates stood while waiting for their execution to take place.

Guinness Storehouse

Obviously no trip to Ireland is complete without a stop at the Guinness Storehouse. There, visitors will get to sit down and relax while having a pint of beer. After all, Guinness Storehouse is known for their tasty carbonated alcoholic beverages. There is even a fun tour offered here where guests will learn more about how this beer that is served all over the globe is made.

It is clear that when tourists visit Ireland, there is plenty to do and see. With stops at the location


A Beginner’s Guide to Bitcoins

bitcoinCreated in 208 by Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin is an open-source virtual payment system that is recorded on a public ledger under its own unit of account (Bitcoin). Payments do not require a central repository and payments are as easy to transferring from peer-to-peer. As a result, the United States Treasury has identified the Bitcoin as being a decentralized virtual currency. Since the Bitcoin concept is just gaining popularity, many are unaware of its history, need, economics, regulation or security

History

After its discovery in a 2008 research paper created by Satoshi Nakamoto, the first Bitcoin client was developed in 2009 that created a number of Bitcoins. The idea sat dormant for several years until March 2013 when a technical glitch disrupted its production. The result was two Bitcoin networks operating simultaneously for six hours. As soon as the issue was uncovered, the developers halted transaction. Standard operation soon restored with the network being downgraded.

That same year and in 2014, several mainstream websites began accepting the virtual currency as a form of payment or donation. In October 2013, Baidu, a Chinese Internet social media site, allowed customers of website security services to pay in Bitcoins. A month later, BTC China, a China-based Bitcoin exchange acquired Mt. Gox (Japan) and Bitstamp (Europe) to become the largest Bitcoin trader in the world.

Shortly after, the United States Senate deemed that virtual currencies were considered to be a legitimate financial service. This caused the price of Bitcoins to skyrocket. However, in China, the People’s Bank of China prohibited the use of Bitcoins amongst Chinese financial institutions resulting in the elimination of the currency in China. Also in 2013, the first Bitcoin ATM was installed in Vancouver, Canada.

Need

Bitcoins were created to reward payment processing work for utilizing a user’s computing power in order to confirm and record payments into the public ledger. Companies engage in “mining” to exchange transaction fees for Bitcoins. This virtual currency has since transitioned into a means for purchasing goods and services as well as receiving Bitcoins electronically through transaction fees with wallet software. The number of merchants using Bitcoin is growing because the fees tend to be 2-3% less than credit card processors.

Economics

Economists agree that the formal definition of money is a store of value, medium of exchange and unit of account; Bitcoins meet these three requirements. Unfortunately, at this time, the Bitcoin marketplace is extremely volatile with high risk and little reward. For those few locations where Bitcoins are accepted as a form of payment, prices are denominated in the local currency. When compared to gold and the S&P 500, Bitcoins are considered to be seven and eight times more volatile. This can be attributed to insufficient liquidity and uncertain long-term value.

bitcoin-spread

Regulation

At the moment, there are few governments that are regulating the digital currency. Some countries are extending rules to include Bitcoin and their companies but no official laws and regulations have been implemented. In 2013, the United States Treasury released a statement that identified virtual currencies as money transmitters that must comply with the same rules as traditional currency.

In 2014, the United States Treasury extended its definition to confirm that Bitcoin cloud mining and escrow services are not considered money transmitters. Most recently, on July 17th, 2014, the New York State Department of Financial Services published draft regulations for those companies that exchange, receive, store or transfer virtual money.

Security

One of the most important aspects of the virtual currency is preventing unauthorized transactions from a user’s wallet. All Bitcoin transactions transfer ownership to a new address consisting of strings of random letters in numbers generated by public keys which safeguard the owner. Therefore, for a payment to process, a valid message from a specific address must contain that public key and digital signature. The loss of this key can result in theft, which has occurred many times. Therefore, the practicality of the Bitcoin security is a regular concern.


Israel-Gaza Conflict Felt Around the World

The worst violence seen between Israel and Palestine in years began in Jerusalem in June, with the seizure and murder of three Israeli teenagers who were doing nothing more than heading from school to home in the West Bank. Tensions reached the boiling point when these killings were followed by the revenge slaying of a Palestinian teen. Since then the conflict of Israeli–Palestinian, always simmering beneath the surface, has increased in intensity with massive Israeli airstrikes that have killed hundreds and left many more homeless, and punctuated by Palestinian rocket attacks. Israel followed its airstrikes with a martial ground operation known as Operation Protective Edge into Gaza.

Israel-Palestine-Conflict

For people alive in the area, the situation has become desperate, with truce after truce falling through and no end to the conflict in sight. Now these individuals must accept the reality of mass death, air raid sirens and fleeing their homes for shelters as part of their every day life. But they are not alone in their suffering. Protests have sprung up in countries like the United States, Europe and even Africa.

While the majority of these protests have been peaceful, some of these demonstrations have also ended in violence, with protests in the United States and France turning hostile. In Paris a mob carrying baseball bats, broken bottles and even knives stormed a synagogue. A pro-Israel rally in Los Angeles deteriorated into violence after one of the demonstrators reportedly stomped on a Palestinian flag.

Elsewhere around the world including Germany there have been hostile confrontations between demonstrators from both sides of the conflict. These tensions have now subsided, however, the fact that they exist in the first place is disturbing.

gaza

If the latest Gaza truce continues to last and Israel ends its Operation Protective Edge, what has really been accomplished? Both Israel and Hamas will insist that military victory is theirs, with Israel boasting of the destruction of Hamas militant tunnels and the huge dent made in their rocket supply; Hamas will brag about the dozens of Israeli troops that were killed and the fact that despite Israel’s best efforts, Hamas leadership in Gaza is still alive and well. Now it’s left for the Palestinian people to hold their breath and wait for the next conflict to arise. And they know that it will, sooner or later, as it always does.

The only real difference is that relations between the United States and Israel are now more strained than ever. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama have had tensions between them for years, and their already frayed relationship doesn’t appear to be heading towards reconciliation any time soon.