Screenshots of the Unboxing of the New “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” X-Wing Fighter

The pieces are said to me much sturdier and less likely to break. The X-Wing has a pop-up droid that, when pushed, releases the wings from the locked position to form the X-position. Attachments are set up differently than previous toys, in that they only fit the slot for which they are designed, meaning that each wing’s attachment will only fit the correct wing.

 

X-Wing4

X-WingX-Wing2X-Wing3

Travel Options Offer Affordable Alternative in Some States

Recently, my wife and I were in San Diego, California. The public transportation there is among the best in the country, so our plans for downtown included taking a trolley or a bus, rather than driving and trying to find parking. We had heard of Uber, but really had very little idea as to what it was, other than some sort of taxi service.

We stopped by an information station, which was set up just outside of Petco Park, to ask which trolley or bus would be the best to get us back to the house we were renting. The lady at the counter asked, “Have you tried Uber?”

We had previously used taxi services around our home region, but were dissatisfied with the outdated, overpriced and slow service. We weren’t too enthused to even hear about an alternative, but we were immediately interested when she told us our first ride would be free, thanks to a referral system that the company has.

We signed up for the app and hailed our first Uber ride. The car was not only clean, the driver was extremely friendly, offering us bottled water and arriving to pick us up within 2 minutes. Uber drivers usually don’t even accept tips, as everything is done via credit card on your mobile app. We were hooked!

We decided to forgo public transportation for the remainder of our trip, using Uber and the alternative company, Lyft (which works the exact same way) for every trip we needed during vacation. The average cost of a 20 minute trip was $11, but since we both had the app, we had 2 free trips with Uber and 2 free trips with Lyft, saving us nearly $50.

I thought, “Surely there are some drivers who are not as professional, or have dirty cars, or not as courteous.” After ten trips via the services of Uber and Lyft, we didn’t encounter a single issue. The longest we had to wait for a driver was seven minutes and that was because they encountered traffic on their way.

When we arrived back at the airport, we called a cab to take us to our car, which we parked in a garage about five minutes away. The cab took more than 15 minutes to arrive at the airport, the door didn’t work, the trunk was not clean when we put our baggage in, the car had an odd smell and there was no bottled water waiting for us. The worst part of it was, the cost for this quick trip – including tip – was $18.

Charleston and Huntington are two of the most populated cities in the state of West Virginia. Having an Uber or Lyft service could possibly offer a viable alternative for consumers who want a fast, affordable option for transportation, particularly with some KRT routes being removed and gas prices higher than surrounding states.

Paper-Thin Is Only An Improvement On Paper

I’ve been an Apple-holic for quite some time. Not just an Apple owner, but an addict. My 15 inch Macbook lasted me the lifetime of 3 Dells and I couldn’t have asked for a better friend in times of work and leisurely scrolls. My iPhone 4S was with as faithful as a family pet. Then, Steve Jobs passed away and Apple decided that improvements to their products were no longer necessary.
As a matter of fact, they decided to wreck their products. My Macbook passed away after more than five years of service. I ordered a 13” with retina display and a higher memory. When it arrived, I noticed it was extremely thin, which caused me to notice it no longer had a disc drive. Had they sent me an Air by mistake? No.
Not only was it thinner, the 13” screen was smaller than my wife’s 13” screen! I believe they rounded up. And the retina display? A completely worthless feature that I see no positive reason for. The Apple customer service was not only no help, they were less than stellar in answering questions, considering that we had just given them more than $1500 for a product that did not fail to disappoint.
Now, there’s a 12” that is being released with no fan (due to a low power core) and a single plug. The design comes in multiple color shades, which has lead me to believe that Apple is not only out of ideas, they just do not care anymore. Their goal is no longer to provide excellence or improvement for those of us who have relied on Mac for work, but to provide a throw-away model that offers no reason to remain loyal.
My fear, when I “upgraded” from the iPhone 4S to our current iPhone, was that the rumors of popping screens, power failures, app issues, notification problems that caused users to restart their phones constantly and other issues would cause the phone to be a worthless item by the end of its second year. Now, midway through the second year, I am ready to toss it and look at LG and Samsung.
I swore by Apple for the duration of my tech life. The simplicity and charm of the products they offered was a staple of why I loved them. I didn’t have to “learn” how to use anything because everything was natural and easy. If I pay enough for a product, I thought it would fit my needs naturally. For years, I was right.
My hope for the next upgrade period is that someone, anyone, will come out with a product that takes up where Apple left off in the last generation of products. Here’s what I want:
1. I don’t want to have to worry about malware, spyware, trojans, or other nonsense. Apple had this part right!

Quality isn't defined by how thin your product can be.

Quality isn’t defined by how thin your product can be.

2. I want speed and ease. I want to be able to watch a movie while doing my budget while running Facebook without worrying about my computer restarting.
3. I want to be able to purchase software discs, insert them into my laptop, burn music or movies, do my taxes, or add Photoshop without having to buy an external disc drive.
4. I want a full size laptop screen without paying $2000 for it. I’m not concerned about going to a coffeeshop and having a little laptop that fits snuggly on the table, or having something paper thin. I want a laptop that is sturdy, big enough to see, capable of me using for 18 hours a day while 5. I work, without hurting my eyes. The retina display does nothing. NOTHING!
6. Finally, I want something that will last. I want a product that is made like a ’57 Chevy Bel Air. Cubans still drive them today! If I replace it, I want it to be because I wanted to.
Apple has thousands of my dollars. Probably close to ten of those thousands. They exceeded my expectations for many years. A year of disbelief has made me realize that addiction is dangerous and I’m looking for help

Do you have a favorite ornament?

Nutcracker_christmas_ornament

Every Christmas tree has a story to tell, and the Daily Mail wants to hear your tree’s story.

From now until Dec. 17, we are collecting stories and pictures of your favorite ornaments.

It might be an antique glass orb handed down from your grandparents, or a tree topper your parents purchased when they were still newlyweds.

Maybe it’s a candy-cane reindeer or a clothespin Christ child one of your children made in Sunday school.

Snap a close-up photo of the ornament — preferably while it’s hanging on your tree — and write a few sentences about how it came into your family.

There are a few ways to get your submissions to us. You can email your photos and stories to life@dailymailwv.com, or shoot us a message on Facebook or Twitter.

If you prefer ink and paper, you can mail your submission to Memorable Ornaments, Charleston Daily Mail, 1001 Virginia St. E., Charleston, WV 25301.

We will review every entry and pick the best ones for publication in our Christmas Eve newspaper on Wednesday, Dec. 24.

The submissions also will be published on memorableornaments.tumblr.com.

Cutting through the #WV2014 noise: hashtags help track election night chatter

Twitter is my favorite social media platform because of its instantaneous nature and its potential to quickly send your thoughts, ideas and photos around the world. Ask #AlexFromTwitter.

So it makes sense that Twitter and election night go hand-in-hand. Journalists have results streaming in and need a quick way to get them out to our audiences. You, the follower and opinionator of politics, have thoughts to get out of your head. And hashtags have the ability to bring that all together into a “super-stream” of Twitterers on the same subject.

I used a service called Keyhole to track the #WV2014 hashtag on Election Day, and it shows the ebbs and flows of  political Twitter activity throughout the day.

#WV2014 Analytics

#WV2014 analytics from Election Day 2014 (Click for a bigger view)

Political Twitter hit its fever pitch at around 8 p.m., as Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, claimed her victory over Democratic opponent and current Secretary of State Natalie Tennant in a speech at the Embassy Suites in Charleston. 552 tweets went out with the #WV2014 hashtag within the 8 p.m. hour alone.

From 8 a.m. on Nov. 4 until 11 a.m. on Nov. 5, a total of 2,031 #WV2014 tweets reached 3,418,247 different Twitter users and garnered 6,655,143 impressions (a count which accounts for Twitter users who see multiple #WV2014 tweets).

The #WV2014 hashtag was tweeted from users in 25 different states and eight countries.

The Daily Mail reached out to other West Virginia media outlets to encourage the use of the #WV2014 hashtag on all election-related Tweets.

Although state news organizations are typically competitive, we all share the same goal of sharing a variety of different viewpoints with our readers.

The #WVchemleak hashtag (a Daily Mail creation) was widely adopted as the “official” hashtag of the Freedom Industries chemical leak in January that tainted the water supply of about 15 percent of the state’s population, and as PBS reported in March, social media played a big role in the way media outlets and even state agencies disseminated information to the public.

The #WVchemleak hashtag pulled together information on water distribution locations and the progressive lifting of the “Do Not Use” order throughout West Virginia American Water’s Kanawha Valley water system, which spans nine counties.

The #WV2014 hashtag was adopted by at least nine different West Virginia media outlets, including print, radio and broadcast media. Altogether, 535 different Twitter users joined in on the hashtag.

Some media outlets opted to forgo #WV2014 and use their own hashtags instead, which were commonly branded with the outlets’ name.

This makes it easy to find tweets from members of those media outlets but, unfortunately, it excludes those tweets from the wider political conversation.

Analytics for another Election Day hashtag that was specific to one West Virginia media outlet.

Analytics for another Election Day hashtag that was specific to one West Virginia media outlet.

Tweets with this other Election Day hashtag reached significantly fewer users, but more importantly, there’s a huge discrepancy between reach and impressions.

What does that mean?  Users following this hashtag are seeing a lot of information from one source.

Meanwhile, this outlet’s information isn’t shared with those following the #WV2014 hashtag, so this outlet’s information and commentary is left out of the mix. That’s not very social social media.

As journalists, we seek and verify information through multiple sources, and news consumers who want a more complete perspective of current events should do the same thing.

Social media gives consumers easier access than ever to information from all kinds of sources. And I think all media outlets should share the common goal of promoting the discussion of issues and ideas that transcend ownerships, network affiliations and competitive journalism.

After all, you can’t have “social media” without “media.”

‘Car Talk’ host dies at 77

"Car Talk" hosts Tom and Ray Magliozzi, better known as "Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers"

“Car Talk” hosts Tom and Ray Magliozzi, better known as “Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers”

Tom Magliozzi, who co-hosted the popular NPR radio show “Car Talk” with his brother Ray, died on Monday from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 77.

Known to audiences as “Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers,” Ray and Tom spent decades helping listeners diagnose their car troubles…often insisting callers mimic the strange noises coming from their car.

Although a casual listener might mistake the brothers for affable small-town mechanics, both were actually MIT graduates.

They became national radio celebrities after National Public Radio syndicated “Car Talk” in 1987.

The show remains on the air, despite Ray and Tom’s retirement in 2012.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner participate in the “Ice Bucket Challenge”

JGarnWest Virginia’s favorite movie star Jennifer Garner and husband Ben Affleck are the latest celebrities to participate in the ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge.”

All kinds of celebrities are taking the challenge, from Bill Gates and Martha Stewart to Conan O’Brien and Eddie Vedder.

It works like this: to raise awareness for ALS (better known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”), people get a bucket of ice or ice water dumped on their head (on video) and challenge others to do the same.

The rules say those who refuse to participate are supposed to make a donation to an ALS charity, but it’s become common practice for everyone to make a donation whether they participate or not.

Affleck was challenged by filmmaker Tyler Perry.

As you can see in the video below, Affleck in turn challenges Jimmy Kimmel, Neil Patrick Harris, Matt Damon and his wife, Jennifer Garner…who surprises Affleck by unceremoniously dumping a bucket of ice on his head. He retaliates by dragging her into the pool with him…which drives some nearby children (presumably their kids) into fits of laughter.

Click below to watch.

According to the ALS Association, the challenge has raised $22.9 million in the last 30 days. Compare that to $1.9 million donated during the same period (July 29-Aug. 19) last year.

Space!

Moon Landing FrontThis Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing, and the Daily Mail decided to celebrate.

Our front page today includes remembrances of that historic occasion from West Virginia natives (and NASA retirees) Homer Hickam and Jon McBride.

Hickam, who would later become a NASA engineer, was in Washington State at the time having just returned from Vietnam. McBride, who would later become the first West Virginian in space, was in Virginia training to become a fighter pilot. You can click here to read the whole story.

This morning I received an email from a reader, Lew McDaniel of Independence, W.Va., offering his memories of July 20, 1969. He has a pretty neat story, too:

I was a linguist in the Army and stationed at Field Station Berlin in Germany when the moon landing occurred.  We had no TV, but we did have a plethora of electronic equipment around and some talented technicians.  Those guys rigged up some of that equipment so we could watch the landing on an oscilloscope.  We also managed to get direct audio between the moon and Earth.

Small screen for sure, but we all crowded into a small room to get whatever view we could and all cheered when the first step was made.  Then it was back to work.

Mark Wolfe poses with Brandon Stacy, how plays Spock on the fan produced Internet series “Star Trek: Phase II.”

Mark Wolfe poses with Brandon Stacy, how plays Spock on the fan produced Internet series “Star Trek: Phase II.”

Also in today’s paper, we have the story of four old friends brought back together through their mutual love of the original “Star Trek” series.

But Mark Wolfe, Dale Morton, Robert Withrow and Clayton Sayre aren’t your normal Trekkies.

They are part of a major fan-produced web series called “Star Trek: Phase II,” which creates new episodes of the original series using dead-accurate sets, costumes and props.

Click here to read more about their intergalactic adventure.

Valentina Lisitsa’s POV piano

I love to watch classical pianists play. Not just listen, watch.

The way their bodies interact with their instrument, their arms and hands flowing over the keyboard, their bodies shifting from side to side. It’s like watching someone dance with a piece of furniture…except beautiful.

Well, Valentina Lisitsa (classical music’s biggest YouTube star) is giving her fans a whole new way to watch her perform. Back in May she posted a video of her performance of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 17…shot using a GoPro helmet cam.

Give it a peek. It’s a unique opportunity to see a performance the way the musician does.