Monday, June 18, 2018

According to the Texas Lt. Governor: Video Games Make Children Killers

Cooper Hendricks
Staff Writers

After the shooting in the Santa Fe high school, in which 10 lives were lost, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the blame should not be put on guns themselves but on violent video games.
    Too many times has the blame for tragedies like Santa Fe been put onto video games and their developers. Outrageous claims have been thrown around saying that video games train children to kill, which are just wrong. If anything, video games make children or people more competitive and can at times promote better behavior.
    Although we often see people playing video games as obnoxious, annoying adults with massive egos, but a majority of these people are simply playing these games for fun. Video games like Fortnite can promote better communication skills between players. Sid Meier’s Civilization, a game in which the player controls a civilization from the dawn of time till the modern age, requires the player to make deals and pacts with other civilizations to avoid conflict. The Battlefield franchise, a well known First Person Shooter, or FPS, allows players to also play as combat medics, or take on the role of a general who assists troops by dropping vehicles to the ground. These games can promote good behaviors and even teach children to be team players or assist others. But those critical of these games mostly like to focus on the fact that these games have a player--a player who is often a child--run around and shoot at other people, but this ignores the deeper layers present in many of the games.
    Christopher Ferguson, associate professor and co-chairman of the Department of Psychology at Stetson University, has said that in his research on 6,000 eighth graders, video games made them less violent by keeping the children off the street. Katherine Newman, PhD, Dean of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, wrote: "Millions of young people play video games full of fistfights, blazing guns, and body slams... Yet only a minuscule fraction of the consumers become violent."
    That's not to say that some people don’t turn out to be violent when playing video games. However, tests that seek to find if video games make children violent are flawed in many ways. Some researchers forget to take into account the family life or  physiological trauma suffered by a child prior to their tests. Then there is the actual test to see if the child is violent or is acting differently than when they started gaming. These tests usually happen after the exposure to the games, and they will document reactions to various things that happen to the child none of which are preplanned. Sometimes this kind of observation doesn't work because the child will act differently in front of adults than they will by themselves.
    There have been cases of violence, but this same thing with games has happened in previous generations, and look how they turned out. Many people who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s stayed inside and read comics a lot. Parents of these children thought that the violence that was shown in a page of a Batman comic was going to turn their kid into a vigilante themselves, but as we have already seen that is not the case. I think that over the generations we have seen a consistent change in what is acceptable for children. I look at it like this: I play “violent” video games and run around as a soldier and shoot at people; yet, in a real life, I hate seeing blood. Maybe we won't know for sure what the impact of video games has on people, but from what we know, violent video games don't make all children killers.

A Never Ending School Year

Kayla Paul-Koch
Staff Writer
Students at New Hope are still treading along with this long and tiring school year. Due to the icy and blizzardy winter weather, the last day of school has been moved from the 15th of June to the 19th at no ones fault but mother natures. Since we missed so much school we still are trying to make up work, but many students have officially checked out.
     With the seniors gone, the beautiful (ish?) weather, and the month of June upon us, students find it incredibly difficult to find the motivation to still work and pay attention. Additionally, many students are preparing for vacations and missing the last few days of school which makes it even harder to still find the strength to do the work and stay organized.
     Junior Zach Meixler says that “at this point everyday feels like a Monday and goes by super slow, which is ironic because the middle of the school year seemed to go by so fast. And all the last minutes testing is super stressful.” On the other side though some students like Laszlo Madarasz say that they’re still “kind of in school mode. It doesn’t feel like the end of the year [to me].”
     Although school is almost out, students should remember to work hard and put in their best effort. Even though summer break is almost here, grades still matter and we should always try their best. Push through New Hope students! We’re almost done!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Why Parkland is different from other shootings

Caroline Donado
Staff Writer
Opinions
Why Parkland is Different

After the fatal shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead, many assumed at first that it would have similar aftermath to the other shootings of recent years and be forgotten by the next week. Nevertheless, this one is clearly unique from all others and is not going away.
 The Parkland shooting has led to a much needed discussion about gun control--one that is unparalleled in its magnitude. The survivors caused a nationwide discussion about gun control that has lasted. Remember how quickly the news about other school shootings came and went, yet this one has sparked a debate that has called upon people across the country to stand up and advocate for gun laws. It's easy to feel powerless after such a traumatic event, yet the youth of this country are using their voices to create changes that are long overdue.
 The more this issue is spoken about, the more likely change will come.
 Deseret News shares the comments of Columbine survivor, Matt Varney, concerning the Parkland students’ response, where he states, “We would never have thought then to mobilize and march. But these kids have grown up with this.” Deseret News adds that, “He noted that in 1999 when his school was attacked, mass shootings were not part of the public consciousness like they are now.”
 The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas seized the opportunity to put their call to action in the headlines again and again which has led to discussions about this issue in government offices, classrooms, and homes. The great number of people protesting and calling attention to this important issue can have an immense impact, pushing lawmakers to act and politicians to change their policies. Valuing guns over the lives of children is a mentality that needs to be eradicated in this country immediately. This is an issue that we cannot afford to have fade away with yesterday's news; our lives depend on it.
  As we went to press, marchers were organizing for March 24.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

New Dell Computers are a Big Hit

Adam Somers and Logan Waterman
Staff Writers

The new Dell computers are a huge step up from the HP computers we were given the past few years. Last year’s computers were known for having a very poor build quality. Keys would begin to wear and fall off, and damage was frequent. However, the new computers seem to be built better, and damage seems to be far less frequent.
  The new computers are also very well off in the realm of software and interface. These computers are much faster than last year’s, with freezes and failures few and far between. Many of the computers last year had touchscreen issues, but the new Dells don’t seem to have these issues. For the most part, the touchscreen works well and doesn’t cause any problems. The keys and trackpad also work well, creating few problems for the user. The computers are also very fast and complete tasks in a timely manner. Last year’s computers left something to be desired, as they were often very slow, leaving the user frustrated.
  New Hope student Nick Fest is a big fan of the new computers: “I love the new computers compared to last years. I feel that it really adds positively to our learning environment and I feel I’ve gotten better grades because of it.”
  Overall, the new computers are a major step up from last year’s devices, because they  have strong processing power, an easy to use interface, and high build quality. Only time will tell if these computers can continue to be viable options for students, maintaining their initial quality.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

OnePlus 5T is a flagship killer and the best bang for your buck

Jeremy Pether
Staff Writer

OnePlus have always marketed their devices as “flagship killers”—phones coming in at a low price point while still retaining the features seen on high-end devices. Indeed, the OnePlus 5T lives up to its reputation. Starting at $499 for the 64 GB model, with a $559 128 GB model, it’s about half the price of the current flagships, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 costing $950 and the iPhone X at $1000. Despite the much lower price point, the OnePlus 5T easily keeps up with both phones.
 The OnePlus 5T is incredibly fast. It’s running a much lighter Android setup than competing phones with OxygenOS. While Samsung’s TouchWiz has a bad tendency to bog down phones, OxygenOS feels fast and fluid. The phone’s hardware also packs a punch, with a Snapdragon 835 and an Adreno 540, both of which are top of the line components. Despite throwing everything at it during testing, it refused to slow down or freeze up.
 For anyone who loves long battery life, good news: this phone doesn’t compromise on battery. On average, after a full day of heavy use it had about 70% charge left. The battery life is ridiculously long, to the point where it’s possible to stop carrying around annoying battery banks. The only charging accessory you’ll really need is the included Dash Charger. The OnePlus Dash Charger is absolutely incredible, taking the phone to full charge in under an hour. The ability to get a decent amount of charge in a short time is great, especially when on the go and stumbling across an open outlet.
 A lot of features seen on 2017 flagships are here as well. The 5T 18:9 AMOLED display with thin bezels makes the phone feel almost like one giant screen. The physical home button is gone, but it feels like a worthy tradeoff. The phone also has a fingerprint reader, located on the back panel about two-thirds of the way up the phone. Even though it’s on the back of the phone, it feels natural and easy to consistently activate. Face unlock has been added as well, and it works very well (although it’s not the most secure option.) Both the fingerprint and face unlocks are incredibly fast as well, making the phone feel light and responsive.
 The camera is the only feature that isn’t on par with the latest flagships, but it’s very close. It’s a pretty great camera with a full-featured camera app, including a pro mode that allows you to adjust everything about the camera, and even save the photos as raw files. The camera is more than enough to take stunning pictures, and the video it takes is incredibly good, especially if you want to edit or color correct the footage in post. While it makes for a great camera, it’s still beat out by flagships like the iPhone X and the Galaxy Note 5, particularly with the portrait mode. The portrait mode has some issues defining the outlines of people or objects, making the effect not look as sharp as it does on other phones.
 OnePlus has a solid phone on its hands. Despite being almost half the price, it keeps up with the latest flagships, even beating them in certain areas. It’s a fast, lightweight phone that’s sure to please. With a price tag starting $499, it’s probably the best value you can get on a smartphone right now. The OnePlus 5T is available from the OnePlus website unlocked, and works on all American carriers except Verizon and Sprint.

High school struggles in competition to raise funds FTK

Bernadette del Prado
Staff Writer

Every year, the student government tries to find different ways to fundraise for the annual Four Diamonds Mini-THON and to get students enthusiastic about the philanthropic event.
  For the second year in a row, students have come together to raise money for Mini-THON through Stall Day. Students compromise with teachers that if they donate $2, then one minute of class is “stalled.”
  Stall Day has been a successful fundraiser since its start, raising over $2,200 last year and going over $2,600 this year.   
  Although the school does an outstanding job in fundraising during Stall Day, since it benefits students in the long run by allowing them to “miss” or buy their way out of class time, students have struggled to fundraise to their maximum potential.
  Other schools in the Bucks County area, such as Villa Joseph Marie, if not smaller, have raised over $100k, while New Hope only achieved $16k.
  Every year, the school has fortunately reached its goal for fundraising. Unfortunately, it has never gone significantly over that goal.
  Students in other schools organize multiple events, such as food fundraisers, dances, competitions, and parades to fundraise for Mini-THON. They have impeccable participation. New Hope does struggle due to its small size, but attempted fundraisers haven’t been as victorious comparing them to other schools. As much as students enjoyed the Jules Thin Crust fundraiser last year, it didn’t even reach $100. However, the main event has always ended up being a great success.
   “It’s really important that we all do our best to raise as much as we can for Mini-THON this year! That means sharing your donor drive page on Facebook, Twitter, text, anything to get the word out! Remember, this is for childhood cancer, and the things Four Diamonds has accomplished are outstanding,” said Student Government President Chloe Miller.
  This year, the school is striving to raise more money than the stated goal and trying to advertise as much as possible to inspire students to attend every event. Currently, more events are being organized to fundraise for Mini-THON, so please stay updated with the upcoming events. The school hopes to exceed its  goal and positively impact more lives this year. Do it FTK.

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Eulogy for What.cd, and the Ethics of Piracy for Preservation

Jeremy Pether
Staff Writer

“So long and thanks for all the fish.” This was the final message OiNK users would receive from the site’s staff before its doors were closed forever. The well-known “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” quote was the sign that Oink’s Pink Palace, or OiNK for short, had met its end. OiNK was a private tracker where users could illegally download music, ebooks, and software through the BitTorrent protocol. On Oct. 23, 2007, a raid by Interpol brought the site down and seized the domain. Servers were confiscated and admins were arrested, but there wasn’t enough data on the actual users to make any arrests.
 Despite the shutdown, the users were not deterred. Internet piracy is like a hydra; cut off one head and more will pop up. On Oct. 27, just four days after OiNK's doors were forcibly closed, former OiNK user WhatMan launched What.cd. Shortly after came other contenders, like newcomer Waffles, and the Pirate Bay’s quickly abandoned BOiNK. What.cd struggled for dominance against Waffles, but in the end, it solidified its place as the new major music tracker.
 The main thing that separated What.cd from OiNK was its userbase. While OiNK invites were easily available, and people joined just to get free albums, the users of What.cd were of a completely different nature. Invites couldn’t be given out publicly, and users were responsible for the people they invited as well. Without an invite, the only other way to get in was an IRC (internet relay chat) interview about ripping, encoding and categorizing music. Prospective users were asked questions about themselves, other sites they were a member of, and about audio formats and transcoding. Audio related questions covered everything from what files could be transcoded without losing quality, to ripping different quality MP3s, CBR vs VBR, to analyzing spectrals of audio files to see if it was transcoded incorrectly. It took about 30 minutes to an hour to complete, and depending on the size of the queue, it could take days to even get into an interview. At that point, anyone who got in had motivation to contribute to the site and follow the rules. People who just wanted the latest Taylor Swift or Kanye album had left long ago. All that was left was enthusiasts willing to build one of the most complete and well organized collections of music in the world.
 The site had a ratio system, based on upload divided by download. Users had to maintain a certain ratio based on how well they seeded the content they downloaded, but for the majority of users, the required ratio was .60. One of the best ways to gain upload and gain ratio was to rip albums that were not already on the site. This led to people uploading incredibly rare releases that couldn’t be found anywhere else. From obscure electronic records that only got one run of pressings, to rare versions of popular albums, What.cd’s catalogue was astounding. There was a rip of the mono pressing of the original “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” an accidental pressing with different tracks, in FLAC and three different versions of MP3. It’s a $15,000 record with less than 20 known copies in existence, and it could be downloaded and listened to for free. Popular albums with multiple releases were common too. There were 49 different rips of official releases of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” to choose from, ranging from the first release to the rarest limited editions.
 The most incredible thing about What.cd was the sheer scope of it. Practically anything imaginable had been ripped and uploaded. What.cd was great for getting music that was normally inaccessible. Plenty of records uploaded to What.cd were releases that hadn’t seen the light of day for years, and were given a new lease on life on the site. Not only were these available, but they had plenty of added info, meticulously tagged, and ripped perfectly. Along with the detailed info attached to records themselves, there were also collages. Collages were collections of albums under a certain theme that were put together by members of the site. These themes could be anything, from a collection of a review site’s perfect scoring albums, to collages of albums for people looking to get started with new genres. There were even collages with strange or inane themes, like “Tip Your Driver: The Comprehensive Pizzacore collage,” a collage of releases about pizza.
 What.cd was compared by some to the Library of Alexandria at its peak, due to the staggering size of the torrenting giant’s archive. On Nov. 17, 2016, it was destroyed, much like the aforementioned library. French police raided the servers of webhost OVH, where What.cd had setup reverse proxies to protect itself. In response, the admins of What.cd pulled the plug and destroyed the data to protect the users of the site. Collages, related artist webs, release info, ripping guides, and more were gone. While the music was not technically lost, as it was all stored on users’ hard drives, it was as if the map to access the music had been lost.
 The story of What.cd raises a question: Is piracy okay for the sake of preservation and availability? Plenty of albums on What.cd were impossible to buy, let alone in lossless quality. There’s always the possibility of buying used, but tracking down a used copy could be next to impossible, and the artist gets nothing from it. Most of the torrents on What.cd were for albums that can’t be streamed online or bought from stores, meaning most people weren’t going to be able to pick up legitimate copies.
 What.cd had recordings that would slip through the cracks of time otherwise. One of the more notable examples of this was the Phish community on What.cd. Phish is a jam band that does a lot of improvisation on stage, so each concert was a unique experience. The What.cd Phish community was one of the most active groups on the site, collecting and archiving bootlegs of the latest shows. There was always a Phish release or bootleg on the day’s list of top torrents. Access was now available for hundreds of different shows they’d played, that many people had never been able to experience before. This wasn’t exclusive to Phish, either. Plenty of bands had similar concert bootlegs uploaded, or demo tapes that might never be heard again without the site.
 The request system also drove the ripping and archiving of releases that had yet to be uploaded. Users could put some of their upload up as a bounty, and other users could claim the upload by finding the requested record and uploading it. Plenty of requests were filled every day, expanding the already massive collection What.cd had to offer. Some of the biggest bounties had driven incredible uploads, for example scans of a collection of three stories by J.D. Salinger that had never been released before made their way to the site’s ebook section. The stories had a bounty of over six terabytes, due to the fact one of them is under lock and key at Princeton, and the other two are similarly secured at the University of Texas. While the J.D. Salinger stories were removed to protect the site from the massive media attention, plenty of rare and long sought after releases were finally unearthed by people looking to claim these bounties.
 Another important reason is format availability. Even with all the secondhand vinyls in the world, there’s still no way to take them on the go. Vinyl rips make that possible. On What.cd, vinyl rips were heavily scrutinized, and 90 percent of them were done by approved submitters with almost professional quality ripping setups. For the average person to buy their own good quality vinyl ripping setup, it could easily cost upwards of $500. They can either drop a lot of money on a vinyl ripping setup, or download from someone with a top of the line system already experienced in doing so.
 Along with the vinyl problem, even albums bought legitimately on many digital marketplaces may not be in the desired format. A lot of albums on the Google Play Store or iTunes aren’t sold in lossless formats. For those interested in transcoding between different file formats for different devices, it’s important to start with a lossless format or else the file will lose quality on each transcode. What.cd offered FLAC for almost everything on the site, as its main focus was getting a lossless format first, then MP3 320 and MP3 V0. Anyone interested in transcoding for other devices or archiving the media for preservational purposes would want lossless files, which most services will not provide.
 Finally, What.cd opens up access to the music Spotify and iTunes do not think are worth putting on their services. Spotify and iTunes hold their ground by providing the popular tracks that most people want to hear, like a new Kanye or Taylor Swift album. It’s not worth their time to bother getting the rights to less popular or more obtuse music. Spotify isn’t going to gain many new subscribers by adding Judy Dunaway’s “Balloon Music” or Whitehouse’s “Bird Seed.” In a world that’s quickly turning to streaming and digital download, we’re relying more and more on the libraries that these services provide us with. Plenty of albums will be lost to time due to not being carried on digital distribution sites, which could be prevented with an archival site like What.cd.
 The loss of What.cd is a devastating blow to music lovers and archivists alike. Terabytes of great musical data were now gone. From incredible edition information, to sprawling collages to aid in discovering new music, the demise of What.cd felt like the end of an era. But What.cd’s ending was the beginning for other trackers. The torrent hydra lives on, with three new sites popping up shortly after What.cd’s demise. Pass The Headphones, Xanax, and Nostream had all opened their doors to the public. Within a month, Nostream was hacked and taken down, with attempts to relaunch failing due to users not joining due to security concerns. Pass the Headphones and Xanax both went through some growing pains, renaming to Redacted and Apollo respectively, and NotWhat popped up as another tracker with much stricter rules. Waffles, which had been down for a small while, raised funds to renew the hosting and come back.
 On Oct. 23, 2017, the day that would have been What.cd’s tenth birthday, What.cd, the tracker presumed to be dead, released one final breath. The site’s Twitter account updated, posting the “What.cd 10-year Anniversary Mixtape.” A backup of the non-user data was made before the site was originally shut down. The collages, release info and related artist web were able to be saved and released to the public again. A lot of data was still lost, but the 10-year mixtape has helped other trackers progress in their goal to rebuild the incredible archive on What.cd.

 What.cd was officially closed down on Nov. 17 when a reverse proxy was seized by French police. Because What.cd had protected itself better than OiNK, federal agents never got access to user data, and the domain was not seized. The What.cd staff closed the site with one final message: “Due to some recent events, What.CD is shutting down. We are not likely to return any time soon in our current form. All site and user data has been destroyed. So long, and thanks for all the fish.”