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A couple guys in my guild got into a Ventrillo debate this afternoon about where to find the best winter-themed areas in World of Warcraft. With it finally snowing here in Michigan and the occasional holiday song percolating in my iTunes playlist, I’m in the mood for scenery like frosted pines and ice-glazed castle parapets.

Instead, I’m stuck surfing mustard-haze jungles with chirruping bugs, flying snakes, and ruin-littered pools that put me in mind of books like Scott Smith’s The Ruins (think Little Shops of Horrors meets The Vampire Diaries) or films like Apocalypse Now.

Start Me Up

I’m a lowly level 55, which used to be a lordly level 55 back in 2004 before Blizzard went and knocked the ceiling off the game. That means I’m currently restricted to areas that either look like Mordor, the set of that silly 1982 Swamp Thing movie, or a gunk-covered map swarming with Zerg in StarCraft II.

Scanning an atlas, Icecrown Citadel in Northrend looks like the obvious contender, but then my Vent group begs to differ.

“Are you high?” says another. “It’s all over Northrend. Haven’t you been to Storm Peaks?”

“No way, it’s all mostly buildings and crap.”

“Man, check it out, there’s so much snow, it’s where they filmed The Empire Strikes Back.”

I let them bicker and do a search on ‘Storm Peaks’. It sounds promising. You’ve got Storm Giants and Wendigo on the mob list. And there’s that Wendigo character in the X-Men books. He’s from Northern Canada, which is really just a euphemism for “Arctic Circle.”

But I still have miles to go before I’m poking my nose around the Lich King’s haunts. Northrend’s for players in the high 70s according to the leveling guides. I’ll probably hit 70 sometime next week if I’m lucky, which is really just a euphemism for “if my wife lets me.”

Speed Me Up

In the meantime I’m paddling around Atal’Hakkar, a pyramidal temple with plumbing issues. It has one of those initial rite-of-passage moments where you swim under a wall and resurface in an interior pool. Very birth-metaphor. The torches never go out, of course, and the floors and ceilings glow aquamarine. Where do you quarry aquamarine stone? Who knows, but it looks appropriately cool–unlike an actual ancient temple, which of course wouldn’t have everlasting torches, and you’d probably describe as “pitch-black.”

The last few patches were supposed to streamline the questing process, which they have, speaking as a guy who’s leveled through a bunch of changes. You can solo pop much faster than before and sew up a zone in a couple hours. Quest-givers congregate at the start of instances instead of all over the map, making it easier to turn stuff in, and the zone maps have been completely redrawn to help you better gauge where things sit. You can even turn in some chain quests using telepathy. That’s not what Blizzard calls it, but when you finish part of a quest chain, the quest-giver pops in, says a few words, then ushers you on to part two or three or four.

So I’ll keep playing, if only to see what PvP’s like from level 80 on. The guys in my guild tell me that’s where the game really begins, which if true, would explain why Blizzard’s suddenly made it so much easier to get there.

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Introducing Gofungibles’ Community Governance In The World Of Crypto

OkDecentralization and Web 3.0 are hot topics in the world right now.

A byproduct of blockchain technology is the emerging world of Web 3.0. The idea behind Web 3.0 is that users on the internet will interact with each other and data will be stored in a decentralized way, giving users data privacy and sovereignty. This is different from Web 2.0, where most of the activity on the internet is composed of users interacting with each other and data stored in centralized storage locations that are controlled by large companies. These companies also profit off of the data. 

Most users would prefer to have their data private, or for that matter profit off of the sales of their own data. If that is the case, why have most of us opted into major Web 2.0 platforms that store our data?

One major reason is that data storage was not broadly considered during the rise of Web 2.0. This came to light recently. But even so, and even with distrust and issues with centralized platforms, most users opt-in to receive the best user experience. 

This could mean better ease of use, or better access to content. For creators, there is a connection to a potentially large community. These are the pain points that centralized platforms resolve. 

Decentralized services can solve these pain points with the blockchain instead of a potentially arbitrary central decision point. The problem is one of the errors in governance. 

When a decentralized system does not have a predetermined method of governance to deal with a situation, things can go haywire and need to be solved with a potentially arbitrary central decision point. 

In the history of cryptocurrency, this has happened. No resolution for two conflicting ideas has resulted in “hard forks” with two cryptocurrencies emerging. Ethereum and Ethereum Classic in 2024 and Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash in 2023 are some of the most famous examples. For Bitcoin Cash, this was followed by a fork that created Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV in 2023.

What is needed is a sensible decentralized governance mode to address any eventuality. 

GoFungibles Tackles Governance

GoFungibles is an upcoming NFT marketplace that features a play-to-earn mobile game and is built using the Polygon side-chain solution. This allows it to access the Ethereum network with lower gas fees when minting NFTs.

GoFungibles also bridges NFTs and decentralized finance together with staking and yield farming powered by its utility and governance token, $GFTS.

Here is how governance works in GoFungibles.

Once launched, the GoFungibles team roadmap includes creating a DAO, or Decentralized Autonomous Organization. A DAO exists to create or remodel services on the platform and is run by the community without a centralized authority. It is also fully transparent and every vote appears on the blockchain.

In addition to other benefits such as yield farming, and other financial value and/or utility on the GoFungibles platform, the token is also a governance token.

$GFTS token holders that stake their tokens are the eligible voters in this community. The number of votes is proportional to the amount of staked tokens. Those with the greatest interest in the benefit of the platform are also granted the greatest influence, creating a win-win for the community as a whole. 

For example, User A has X number of staked tokens. User B has a 2X number of staked tokens. User C has a 1.5X number of staked tokens. User A would get 1 vote, User B would get 2 votes, and User C would get 1.5 votes. 

As the tokens are staked, this prevents bad actors from being able to make detrimental decisions and then dump the tokens and then secretly exit or “rug pull” the other community members. 

Again, this is a DAO, so the GoFungibles team will not be able to override the decisions of the community and the community is protected against a rug pull from any team members. 

An additional layer of security is built-in with the Polygon framework built on top of Ethereum, the world’s leading application-layer blockchain. 

Bringing a DAO community governance framework to the GoFungibles platform makes it one of the most exciting new projects being built on Polygon and Ethereum. 

Contact

Contact the GoFungibles team across social media and the web here:

Tiktok Trends Right Now: Winter 2023

Did you know that there are 1 billion active users on TikTok?

In the U.S. alone, there are 136.5 million users you can engage as part of your social media marketing.

That being said, it’s hard to capture even six seconds of attention as trends rise and fall out of fashion.

Where can you start?

What you need to know about TikTok marketing: It’s simple to make a video but hard to stand out.

It’s easy (and free) to access TikTok’s creative center for businesses, but you’ll lose hours and hours searching for TikToks your brand could emulate.

But it’s also easy to get lost in the shuffle when you’re new to the app. Should you look at the top hashtags, songs, creators, or videos?

Additionally, TikTok periodically changes its platform features (like how it removed the Discover tab and is trying out the Friends tab), leaving social media marketers and ordinary users everywhere disgruntled.

So, if you’re feeling lost and frustrated, here are the top 5 TikTok trends this Winter to inspire your next viral video.

Trend #1: Microwave Popcorn

“It’s Corn” is so last season. This fresh trend involves pairing the “Microwave Popcorn” sound clip with a simple tutorial, usually something that should be obvious to the audience.

While a little sarcastic in tone, it’s definitely entertaining as an educational video.

You could use it to highlight how your company trains new hire, explain how a service works (which could be an opportunity for B2B), or show solo parenting gone wrong.

Alternatively, emphasize your professional skills as a teacher, influencer, gamer, or any job, really.

There are tons of ways to get creative here.

Check out this example of a “branded” use of this trend from a local ice cream and sandwich shop employee training a new staff member.

Audio Template: Microwave Popcorn – Bo Burnham

Trend #2: It’s Time

It’s that time of the year (again!).

This trend revolves around Mariah Carey’s signature whistle-like voice at the beginning of the popular hit: “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

The catchy sound is perfect for creators to hype up an upcoming event!

Let your audience know how excited you are, whether it be your online store’s seasonal sale, a gingerbread recipe, or a brand-new winter product.

Check out this punny use of the clip for a plantable pencil here.

Audio Template: original sound – Mariah Carey

Trend #3: #itsnotsobad

Here’s a creative way to say “sorry, not sorry.”

This hashtag trend features a sound clip from Yves V & Ilkay Sencan’s hit “Not So Bad” chorus (or Millennials will recognize the tune from Dido’s 1998 hit “Thank You.”)

Use it to gripe about something petty (using a sentence of plain text) and make a hand gesture like you’re playing the “world’s smallest violin,” ala SpongeBob’s Mr. Krabs, towards the end.

Poke fun at your industry’s “greatest problems” and roll your eyes.

Audio Template: оригинальный звук – zotov

Trend #4: #Wednesday

Netflix’s Wednesday Addams dance has become a thing (pun intended) on the platform.

Dress up in all black, and wave your hands like you don’t want to engage with your fans.

Makeup and fashion brands, take note.

It’s a good opportunity to demonstrate your DIY skills – viewers are impressed when you manage to copy her monochromatic look, adorably awkward moves, and non-blinking stare.

Audio Template: Goo Goo Muck – The Cramps

Trend #5: Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Pair this one with anything reindeer-themed as the Christmas countdown continues.

Reindeer-inspired makeup tutorial, reindeer latte art, reindeer pastries, antler nail art, and heck, even puppies wearing a reindeer costume – the list goes on!

Delight your audience with this nostalgic tune, and you’ll probably be rewarded with enthusiastic followers.

And that’s a wrap for winter trends that are at their peak.

While we tried to find a variety that can work with most brands, not everything will fit your brand.

In that case, we recommend learning how to use TikTok search to help you keep up with the evolving trends.

Additionally, it won’t hurt to use TikTok Insights to know your audience and plan your next live or non-live video with today’s trends.

Find inspiration from the others who’ve uploaded under these themes and develop a creative short video that captures your identity.

Stay consistent and watch your followers grow in time. Happy Holidays!

More Resources:

Featured Image: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

Chinese Laser Zaps Space, For World Peace

This might look like a laser firing back at Imperial Star Destroyers, but it’s actually for a peaceful purpose. This Chinese astronomical laser in Mianyang is firing into the nightsky to support calibrating the International Thirty Meter Telescope. This laser, using a sodium based gain medium, fired 90 kilometers into the atmosphere, within. an accuracy of two picometers.

Thirty Meter Telescope

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a $1 billion telescope with a 30 meter wide, 2000 ton lens, and is planned to start operations in 2023. It is located over 4,000 meter above sea level in Hawaii, and is supported by the U.S., Canada, China, India and Japan.

The International Thirty Meter Telescope, based in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, observes the ultraviolet to mid-infrared wavelengths. With adaptive optics and high altitude location, the 30 meter wide optical lens is more than 100 times as sensitive as other existing optical telescopes. The $1 billion telescope is a highlight of international cooperation, with American, Canadian, Chinese, Indian and Japanese scientists all involved in its construction and operation.

China Anti-satellite Laser

While China recently used a laser in the service of international astronomy, it has had a long history in building powerful and long ranged laser, one of which was suspected of disrupting a U.S. spy satellite several years ago.

The Mianyang laser’s critical support role is to provide an accurate reference point in the sky during the telescope’s construction. This laser is certainly an example of Chinese contributions to space science that include space x-ray telescopes and lunar rovers. However, its accuracy and power could theoretically be applied to military purposes, such as anti-satellite and missile defense purposes.

You may also be interested in:

China is Building One of the World’s Largest Space Launch Vehicles

Offset This! China’s Hypersonic Glider Flies for the Third Time this Year

New, Better Chinese Spy Satellite Hits Orbit

China’s New Laser Zaps Drones

Windows 8: Hate It Already? Why Waiting For Windows 9 Won’t Help

Conventional Windows wisdom seems to hold that every other version of Windows is terrible and needs to be fixed by whatever version comes after that. Does this mantra sound familiar?

That’s how it’s supposed to go, right?

Given the drastic changes in Windows 8, it’s no surprise that some users who hate it are already holding out hope for a better Windows 9.

“What Windows 8 is, is just a media O.S… that’s about it. On a tablet, that’s fine or a cell phone. Vista was bad, Windows 7 is good.. Microsoft will make Windows 9 better.” –Shinobi

“I’m another one who will NOT ‘upgrade’ to Windows 8 – maybe Windows 9 will be better, every alternate system seems to be a shambles, looks like 8 will continue the trend!” –jja7528

“I hope that all PC manufacturers will give buyers the option to customize their PC’s with the “OLD” Windows 7, at least until an improved Windows 9 comes out……” –SamDovels

I’m here to deliver the bad news: Windows 9 won’t provide salvation, at least not if you’re hoping for Microsoft to alter its current trajectory. Unless you’re willing to embrace the changes Microsoft is making in Windows 8, be prepared to stick with your current version of Windows for a long time.

Windows Needs Change

Although Windows 8 has a fair share of perks for the traditional desktop, the operating system’s featured attraction is its new touchscreen interface.

Yet, it has to be this way. PC sales are down, while iPad sales are surging. People are turning to the iPad when they just need to get online or play with some apps. Although PC purists insist that you can’t do real work on an iPad, the body of evidence to the contrary keeps increasing.

None of this means the PC is doomed, but, as a general-purpose, go-to computing solution, PCs face a serious threat from tablets, especially the iPad. Microsoft must respond with an OS that makes sense for tablets.

Understanding Microsoft’s Angle

You might argue that Microsoft should have left Windows alone while building a separate tablet OS on the side. But who would use the latter?

Windows PC users would have little incentive to switch, which leaves Microsoft to figure out how to lure prospective iPad buyers. That’s a tall order, and it certainly hasn’t worked out for Android tablets, which aren’t selling very well.

As Technologizer’s Harry McCracken pointed out a year ago, Microsoft’s transition to Windows 8 is as radical a change as the company’s move from DOS to Windows 3.0. Then, as now, Microsoft had to tread lightly, letting people fall back onto their old software and old ways of doing things.

But, over time, the old way got phased out. Today’s command prompt is but a distant relative of the DOS version, and most Windows users never go near it.

Microsoft is banking on the chance that, as it redefines Windows, it can guide users through their own transitions. If you’ve used a PC your entire computing life, changing OSes means throwing away all the keyboard shortcuts you’ve learned, as well as losing all your USB accessories, the file system, and the eponymous windows.

Looking Ahead

From here, the future of Windows could play out in a few ways:

One possibility would be for Microsoft to concede defeat. Instead of forcing users to adopt the new Windows interface, Microsoft could give users the option to boot directly into the desktop, launch programs through an old-school Start menu, and maybe even bring back the Start button.

This seems like the least likely option, given the steps Microsoft has taken to make its new interface unavoidable. I don’t think Microsoft will cave unless there’s a huge backlash.

This might be possible in the distant future, but right now Microsoft’s strategy hinges on exposing everyone to the new user interface, so I wouldn’t expect a split any time soon. Besides, businesses have taken a liking to the iPad, even as they continue to rely on desktop software.

The last possibility, and the one I think most likely, would be for Microsoft to continue to evolve Windows.

Even if Windows 8 bombs, Microsoft won’t give up. When Redmond wants in on an important market, it tends to keep throwing money and resources at it. We saw that with Bing, we saw it with Windows Phone, and we’re going to see it again with Windows 8.

Time will tell if Microsoft can be more successful with Windows 8 than those other efforts. Either way, it’s highly unlikely that Microsoft will abandon its current vision and let this new wave of computing pass the company by. Desktop purists may not like the new look of Windows, but it’s here to stay.

Using Music In World Language Classes

Incorporating music into your world language classroom is a simple and engaging way to expose students to the culture(s) associated with the target language. Not only does it pique student interest, but also it aids in creating an upbeat and positive classroom environment.

Songs are examples of authentic resources that can lead to a variety of different activities at all levels. From an instructional standpoint, homing in on specific songs and their lyrics builds students’ listening comprehension skills. When listening to a song, students are exposed to rich vocabulary and cultural content. Rather than a standard audio clip, students are following a story out loud. This is more likely to hook their interest and attention.

Choosing Appropriate Songs

Try picking a song that directly aligns with a theme or topic covered in your unit. For example, you can pick a song that relates to the content you’re covering, or you can choose a song that focuses on a grammatical point that you want your students to practice in context. You can also choose a song that does a little bit of both.

The song “Ella,” by Alvaro Soler, contains examples of the imperfect subjunctive, a grammatical structure that I focus on with my intermediate learners in Spanish IV. In addition to noting and practicing examples of this grammatical structure in context, I go beyond this. I have students identify the main idea of the song as well as share whether they like it or not and why.

It’s important to preview lyrics and music videos beforehand to screen them for inappropriate content; if the music video is school-appropriate, show it to the students as they listen to the song. Likewise, you can have students read through the singer’s biography to learn more about their background. The students can make comparisons between this artist and one that they listen to on a regular basis. At this level, the students can also identify the genre of the song and share their preferences and opinions about it.

With my beginners in Spanish I, I like to expose students to geography to better familiarize them with the countries that make up the Spanish-speaking world. The song “La Gozadera,” by Gente de Zona featuring Marc Anthony, zips through all of the Latin American countries. I give students a blank map and have them label the countries as they hear them in the song. I also expose students to each country’s flag as a means to practice colors and broaden their cultural knowledge.

A song that can provide rich vocabulary exposure and inspiration at any level is “Vivir Mi Vida,” by Marc Anthony. This song contains a multitude of verbs, specifically in the infinitive form. It’s a feel-good song that offers positivity and words of wisdom. Its catchy beat makes it easy to sing along to; having students sing karaoke is always an option, as there are tons of karaoke videos on YouTube.

Friendly Competitions and Sing-Alongs

Lyrics Training is a useful website when exposing students to songs in the target language. On this website, students fill in the lyrics as they listen to the song and watch the music video. They can compete against each other, and there are different levels of difficulty available. With the help of the site, students can learn every word to a song in a fairly short time. This can lead to a whole-class sing-along or to sing-along competitions between different class periods.

Creating a cloze activity in which students listen and fill in the blanks is another option for any song. It’s important to note that not every song needs to have an instructional purpose. Consider creating a class playlist via Spotify or YouTube, and play music throughout the day.

As students are walking in and completing a do-now activity, have music playing. If they’re working on a project or activity, play some music again! You will be impressed by how many of your students start following your playlist—the best part is, they might even start to listen to songs in the target language on their own time.

A common goal of world language teachers everywhere is to have our students use the language in their real lives and to appreciate and value cultures different from their own. Music can help to achieve these goals and can contribute to a positive language learning experience for all.

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