Category Index

Donkey Levels is now available and on the Google Play Store

Donkey Levels - Click the image to download the app from the Android Play Store

Donkey Levels – Click the image to download the app from the Android Play Store

Donkey Levels is an app made by Stimtrano Productions. My name is Tyler Jaggers and I’m part of Stimtrano Productions.

As the Lead Programmer and Developer of Donkey Levels I can easily say it has been a complete pleasure working with Jeffrey Chao our Executive Producer.

Jeffrey has manifested his vision of creating an app where YOU are the main character in leveling up Physical and Mental stats.

One day at a Pho’ restaurant a few months ago, Jeffrey came to me with the idea of Donkey Levels. We had some basic concepts of a progress bar for hiking and swimming, but there was more to the picture.

Donkey Levels was going to be an app that motivated people to do what they have always have ever wanted to do.

In games, the main character is often given the opportunity to track his or her progress or “level” with strength or dexterity. Also, the character can become stronger by working on basic skills. Leveling Up is a common theme in most modern Role Playing Games and it makes great fun.

In Donkey Levels, we have progress bars for:

Physical Stats

swimming
running
free weights
cycling
walking
cardio
yoga
exercise machines
sports
active work

Brain Power Stats

meditation
memorization
puzzles
stimulating games
mental math
reading
critical thinking
organized planning
design
relaxation

 

The user can track his or her development in any of these areas by simply pressing a button. Each button press correlates to Experience Points (xp) that helps the Donkey Leveler to have a visual representation of his or her real-world goals.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about releasing this app. Not only is it currently a Free App, but the developmental process itself has made me personally grow as a programmer and human being.

Download Donkey Levels today for Free from the Android Play Store by searching, “Donkey Levels” or use this url:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.stimtrano.donkeylevels

 

-Tyler

James Loewen brings more researched Footnotes than a Dance Instructor

Lies my Teacher Told Me

Lies my Teacher Told Me

Lies My Teacher Told Me is a Touchstone Book published by Simon and Schuster. It has an ISBN of: 0-684-81886-8 and if you enjoy reading the back stories that aren’t exactly popular or perhaps are a bit disturbing…then read on. This book goes way beyond normal American History. It talks about the inaccuracies, exaggerations and sometimes complete falsehoods that are taught in High-School History Courses. Do not read this book if you don’t want your mental concepts challenged. Because Lies My Teacher Told Me does not pull any punches regarding all the Historical Taboos that you can imagine.

First of all, did you know that most of the history we learn from textbooks in High School…isn’t even prepared by Historians? This confused me. In the book, you find out that the people listed as the primary authors on the spine of a High School history book aren’t even remotely part of the authoring process. These names could be from several revisions ago.

Life is so complicated. We often tend to try and find external reasons for why things are the way they are. In this book, James W. Loewen discusses that history doesn’t show how individuals are able to influence tremendous change. Many times, we hear growing up certain names, but they almost seem anecdotal. Individuals aren’t the primary reason why we have certain freedoms…or so we think.

After reading this excellent book, I’ve come to realize that we’re right…actually. History isn’t forged by individuals. And it isn’t made better by groups either.

The things we cherish most about the world and how our civilization function, has been made possible by a string of individuals. It’s like thin strands or chains of people staying true to themselves over time. The length of the chain is the connection these individuals have throughout history. Sometimes several chains of individuals strand together to make intricate weaves and latticeworks of political and conceptual structure. But the root elements are people…people who want to make a difference.

With so many well-researched notes at the end of the book, I couldn’t have felt more satisfied. This is one of the many books I’ve read lately that had not only detailed notes with excellent bibliographic information, but the notes also often include excellent explanations of why the note exists. This was extremely satisfying, it was as pleasing as those extra scenes that happen at the end of modern big-budget action films. I want to know what happens next.

Loewen goes beyond simply talking about misinformation in American History. He discusses the entire process of education and how History for some reason doesn’t get the same type of attention as Math or Science. There rarely are special interest groups that protest or boycott a Math textbook. Yet after reading Lies My Teacher Told Me, I’ve learned about the many levels of decision-making that goes into the publishing of a History Textbook. Did you know that the profits made from History Textbooks is a trade secret? Education is a big business.

I don’t want to give spoilers on this book. Just read it for yourself. You’ll probably know a good chunk of the information in the book already. But I didn’t know more than 70% of the stuff in the book. So that’s pretty good.

-Tyler

Low Skill Level Basic Sven Build

Basic Sven Guide - Item and Skill Build

Basic Sven Guide – Item and Skill Build

This build is for Low Skill Level players. It is very easy because it gives you extra mana for your stuns. It also doesn’t put much emphasis on the Warcry speed buff early game. This will give new players less multi-tasking to worry about.

Here’s the link to the guide on Steam so you can see the icons and other details.

But this page will have a detailed more Big Picture discussion on the build.

When a Sven lanes with a partner…he often is wanted to stun. Well, his stun Storm Hammer is expensive. It’s 140 mana to cast the hammer. The problem is that Sven starts with 182 mana when he is level 1. But if you get a few iron branches, you’ll have enough mana for 2 casts off the bat.

I like getting the Power treads or the Phase Boots both are good for Sven. But if you get the power treads, you will have a lot of extra strength as well as attack speed.

If you get Power Treads, make sure to get The Blink Dagger. Because you won’t have enough speed to close most enemies. This is especially true if you wait to get WarCry as I suggest.

The reason why stats are important in early Sven games is because it will help you last hit. Hit area of effect (AOE) cleave damage is only good once you start doing a great deal of damage. So wait until level 6 to get cleave.

Vladmir’s Offering is a great item of Sven. It gives you leech, it increases your damage, it’s inexpensive, it gives mana regen…and armor! All for less than 2500 gold. This item is great even if there is a Wraith King on your team. The aura’s stack.

But I wouldn’t get 2 Vladmir’s Offerings if you team already has one. An example would be if you got an Abadon or a Juggernaut that may be getting Vlads. Just ask them if they’re getting it. A good indicator that someone is getting Vlads would be if you see a strength hero getting the Ring of Basilius. That’s one of the main components of Vlads and it is also part of the Ring of Aquila. The reason why its a good indicator for Vlads if it is on a Strength hero…is that the Ring of Aquila adds a considerable amount of Agility. So there’s really no reason to add heavy agility items like Aquila on a strength hero, so the Basilius must be aimed at Vlads.

Here’s the big question: Blink Dagger or Not to Blink Dagger…

This all depends on your level of comfort with blinking into combat. I’d definitely recommend getting a Black King Bar for the magic immunity if you are going to blink. Blinking into combat without magic immunity can be costly for Sven. The reason for this is that he is often first-targeted, even though he is usually somewhat tanky.

Check your team synergy with Sven before jumping into blink. If you already have an initiator like Tidehunter, then you can get Heart of Tarrasque early or perhaps Sange and Yasha in combination with Monkey King Bar or perhaps, the Skull Basher (Stun Hammer). This can help you be the mop up person to seal the deal with your initiator.

More often than not, your team will require you to be the initiator regardless of your comfort level with Blink Dagger. Therefore, it is good for you to learn how to blink as soon as possible. If you accidentally blink into a bunch of trees, your teammates will get frustrated with you quickly. If you’re bad at blinking, you might want to get a quelling blade. I’ve pooched so many blinks…

The two Stun Hammers are excellent on Sven. I’m talking about the Monkey King Bar that looks like a gold stick…and also the Skull Basher. Since Sven can dish out a lot of damage, being able to stun the enemy with your normal attacks is excellent. This turns Sven into a character that has one of the best ranged stuns in the game, “Storm Hammer” into a machine that has non-stop stuns. Since his Storm Hammer has a low cool-down, and the Monkey King Bar and/or Skull Bashers have low cool downs on attack, Sven can control a 1 on 1 or even a teamfight if he effectively pulls off his stuns and stays in the fray.

With the Vlads in conjunction with the Sven ultimate skill of “God’s Strength” he will be able to leech back much of his lost health.

You have probably heard about using blink dagger in conjunction with the mask that increases attack speed. This is a great build, and it is beyond excellent. I concede that. My only problem with this build for beginners, is that it increases the damage Sven takes when he is hit. So unless you’ve already farmed a BKB for magic immunity…there’s a good chance you’ll just get first-targeted and then end up in the resurrection queue.

Don’t forget Daedalus for a late game item…the item in conjunction with Sven’s ultimate makes the Sven character laugh and make a comment in the actual game. He says something like, “Ha! Daedalus! Too easy” I’m not sure.

But the critical strike in conjunction with God’s Strength is amazing. I’d just make sure to have some hit points also…because too many newbie Sven players go all damage and have no hit points. And then they wonder why they’re getting picked off.

In conclusion, for this Low Skill Level Build, remember to think about whether or not you are comfortable with Blink Dagger first…then build your character around that decision. And make sure to eventually get Black King Bar for magic immunity regardless of the Blink Choice.  Also, one or more of the Stun Maces will help you tremendously.

Thank you for reading this guide, and here’s a link to the guide on Steam:

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=307208825

-Tyler

Caramel Macchiato Mix from Supermarket

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if this mix “Discoveries” drink would be any good. It’s from Starbucks, and you already know I love Starbucks coffee. But the stuff at home…it just seemed a little, “boxed wine” for my taste.

But I wanted a change-up from the usual coffee with a hint of half-and-half or soy milk. So I purchased this Starbucks, “Discoveries” Caramel Macchiato for 5 bucks. It was usually $5.99 but it was on sale. And since I thought I might get more drinks out of it than going to Starbucks and talking to a barrista I decided to give it a shot.

Here’s what I ended up making:

1 part ice -

4 parts Starbucks Caramel Macchiato Mix

2 or 3 parts Half and Half

STIR and ENJOY!!

It is a fun drink and the half and half makes it easily silky!!! Yum!

-Tyler

PS: Here’s a video that I made showing how its done.

Do not seek Instant Zen

Instant Zen

Instant Zen

Thomas Cleary translated several teachings from the Zen master, Foyan. The book, Instant Zen – Waking Up in the Present has an ISBN of 1-55643-193-7 and it is a splendid read.

In the book, the reader not only gains insight directly from Foyan, but the teacher shares knowledge that he learned from many other Zen Masters.

Seeking.

That is a term that is brought up several times in the book. Why do people seek insight? Why seek at all? Isn’t Zen supposed to be some sort of instantaneous awakening and/or transmission of knowledge?

This is a tricky subject. Sometimes learning can be difficult because we are presented with mirrors. As one’s eye becomes more clear, the filth on the computer screen becomes easier to see. So we are compelled to clean that screen. Yet when the screen is finally turned off, even more grime remains.

Too many Zen Masters.

It is so funny how applicable the knowledge from this old compilation of teachings truly is in our current and modern day. It’s a testimony to identifying truth. The more one is exposed to truth and basic patterns, the easier it is to spot truth and basic patterns in one’s own speech, environment and culture.

In the case of Zen Masters, Foyan warns against labels and self-titling.

Paradoxes, hippocracy, oxymorons, non-sequiturs.

Zen is confusing. Get used to it. If anyone feels lost while learning, take refuge in the fact that people have felt lots for thousands of years while studying this material. Maybe studying Zen isn’t a good use of one’s time?

Can you learn.

Why?

yes.

 

Before I forget. Please read the notes by Thomas Cleary at the end of the book. It is interesting how many Zen gems are often left in glossaries, footnotes endnotes and appendixes. Instant Zen is no exception. Cleary’s notes add context for the Masters that are discussed in the book by Foyan. Also, some of the political landscape is discussed for Zen of that time. If you read more than one Zen book, these notes will add a sub-context which seems to make the information easier to absorb and digest.

-Tyler

The Sometime Boys wash upon the Riverbed

The Sometime Boys - Riverbed

The Sometime Boys and their new album: Riverbed

The Sometime Boys have released a new album called, Riverbed and it is excellent.

It is a mix of traditional folk honesty and ear-tingling innovation.

Without a doubt, Riverbed has traveled into new areas beyond previous albums such as Ice and Blood and Any Day Now. The band has a level of cohesion and fullness that sustains throughout the entire album. There aren’t any songs that split up the vibe. Riverbed takes the listener through a forty-eight minute joyride through elation and wonder with songs like “Modern Age”…and melancholy triumphantocity with “The Great Escape”.

In these busy days, it’s easy to get caught up in material desires and goals without limits. But music is the great equalizer of life. It takes us back to moments that connect us to our emotions. Tiny points in our lives create the latticework of who we really are…and Riverbed makes those connections peaceful, gutsy and joyous.

Pete O’Connell (bass) and Kurt Leege (guitar) transcended all limits of folk music with their work in, “A Life Worth Living”.  The song has guitar and bass movements that cleanly mesh the casual sound into a sine-wave/mind-opening conduit for interleaved melodies and counter-melodies. Sounds like these with live instruments are similar to the experimental mnemonic rock patterns of Ashra in their 1970′s album Blackouts.

To say there is a singer in Riverbed would be a falsehood. Sarah Mucho does not simply sing with or over a band in this album. She is the wind that breathes a coherent life-message which both ties the album together but also lifts it to great heights. In the song, “The Bird House” she sings, “Oh, my heart breaks with each passing spring…” and there is absolutely no way to not be pulled into the music. Her voice is beautiful. It’s as if it’s a reverse-anchor that makes the mind fly.

One would be surprised to find out that there is only one violinist for The Sometime Boys. Rebecca Weiner Tompkins (violin) meshes so well with Jay Cowit (percussion) that it feels like there is a larger yet subtle orchestral section. They create an audio fullness that is simply amazing on headphones and I can’t wait to hear the album in my car. Audio delight would be an understatement.

Riverbed is available now on iTunes and other major audio outlets. Click HERE to check out Riverbed by The Sometime Boys on iTunes, as usual iTunes lets users listen to parts of the songs and you can try before you buy.

Happy listening!

-Tyler

 

Principles of Microeconomics teaches important Rules and Guides

Economics is actually fun to learn - Check out Principles of Microeconomics

Economics is actually fun to learn – Check out Principles of Microeconomics

The Principles of Microeconomics (Third Edition) by N. Gregory Mankiw is a stupendous introduction to college-level economic theory. The softcover textbook has an ISBN of 0-324-17188-9 and it is from South-Western / Thomson publishing.

What’s the difference between Micro vs: Macro – Economics? In the book you find out that Microeconomics primarily focuses on households and businesses and how they interact in order to distribute, create and exchange wealth.

Unlike books on International Political Economy, this Microeconomics textbook gives real world examples and practical knowledge that anyone can use.

The basics of supply and demand are explored along with an introduction to Adam Smith’s invisible hand theories. The book goes way beyond standard economic winner-takes-all propaganda. It shows that there are consequences and grey-areas in any economy. And there is always room for optimization in any economic system.

Some of the awesome terms a reader of this book will become familiar with include but are by no means limited to are, “elasticity” and “equilibrium” these terms are used constantly on news television programs and radio shows but are rarely explained. After reading the book, you’ll find television quite simplistic even when discussing complex systems like the stock market on TV. By reading this book, you’ll have a firm grasp on everything from how taxes affect prices, to why some farmers choose not to produce any crops in order to acquire subsidies. And how that makes sense!

I can’t stress more strongly how important vocabulary is becoming in today’s marketplace. As citizens, a new bar is being set for “literacy.” In the past, the concept of, “A jack of all trades is a master of none” used to be the determining factor when adults engaged in common discourse. Now there is greater access to knowledge, and people have an expectation that average citizens are, “A Jack of a multitude of trades and a master of a handful of specialties.”

Don’t believe me? Have a conversation with someone that you don’t know, and see how they react when you are able to discuss things in a multifaceted and coherent way. It’s not about respect or pride anymore, it’s about communication. The average American is increasing his or her bandwidth for knowledge and demand stimulation through discussions. If you can’t satisfy that stimulation, you won’t be shunned or disrespected, but you may have a lower level of interaction and may not be able to efficiently realize when opportunities are coming your way.

We’re changing.

Books are becoming entertaining and educational. I can’t tell you how many times I laughed out loud when reading The Principles of Microeconomics (Third Edition), the author wants us to not just cram…but know the theories and comprehend the information.

As a man in his early thirties, I can tell you that reading is becoming more and more fun. It’s as if all the information out here is a gigantic gold mine. And instead of having a limit on the amount of gold one can extract from the mine…we are only told to take as much as we can carry.

Don’t settle for your hands or opening your pockets. Expand your mind by reading tons of books and build a wheel-barrel.

-Tyler