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Is Nintendo Switch The Console For You?

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Last year, rumors swirled around Nintendo’s new console, codenamed NX, to replace the ailing Wii U. On October 2016, Nintendo officially unveiled the NX to the world, now named the Switch. The company showed off a slick video that showed how the Switch could transform from a home console connected to a TV, to a handheld console to be played on the go. It’s a logical evolution from the Wii U’s tablet controller that could stream games from the Wii U console to the controller. Earlier this month, Nintendo held a presentation that detailed more features that the Switch would have as well as a definitive launch date and price. The Nintendo Switch will be launching on March 3rd for $299. Nintendo looks to revolutionize how and where we play our games. With that said, here are three things you need to know about the Nintendo Switch

JoyCon Controllers

 

switch controllers

The JoyCon controllers are the key to the Switch’s versatility. The two small controllers slide onto either side of the Switch console, turning it into a mobile gaming console. The JoyCon can also slide out and be used independently as separate controllers, useful for split screen multiplayer games like Mario Kart. While playing single player games, the JoyCon can either be used in each hand similar to the original Wiimote and Nunchuk or they can slide into a separate JoyCon Grip for a more traditional gaming experience. If that wasn’t enough, Nintendo revealed during their January 12th press conference that the controllers are also motion controllers with gyroscopes and accelerometers. Nintendo showed off different games such as ARMS and 1-2 Switch, which make use of the motion controls for gameplay. The left JoyCon has a share button that allows you to share screenshots and videos. The right JoyCon has an NFC sensor for Amiibo figurines. Finally, both JoyCon have what Nintendo calls “HD Rumble” which just a marketing term to describe enhanced rumble features to detect more subtle and realistic vibrations. For those hardcore gamers out there who prefer the feel of a regular controller, Nintendo will also be selling a Pro controller for the Switch.

Switch Console

nintendo switch

The main console itself is a tablet with a 6.2-inch capacitive touchscreen with a 720p resolution. It can connect to the Dock which enables gameplay on an TV and keeps the Switch charged. Speaking of charging, one welcome feature is the inclusion of a USB Type C connector. This allows other devices such as a battery pack to be connected…which is good because the battery life varies wildly depending on the game. Nintendo says battery life is anywhere from 2 ½ hours to 6 hours. Graphic intensive games like Splatoon or Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are likely to tax the battery heavily while lighter titles like NES/SNES games will last a bit longer. Spec-wise, little is still known about the Switch as Nintendo has been reticent to release any detailed information. The only confirmed hardware spec is the custom NVIDIA graphics processor. Most analysts believe it is the NVIDIA X1 Tegra chip using the Maxwell architecture instead of the latest Pascal architecture. This would mean that the Switch is more powerful than the Wii U but not nearly as powerful as the PS4 and Xbox One. On the positive side, the Switch can connect to other Switch consoles to engage in local multiplayer sessions (now you can trash talk in person instead of online!).

What About The Games?

nintendo switch

Back in October, Nintendo announced a bevy of third party developers that would be creating games for the Switch. Unfortunately, the day one launch games doesn’t contain as many system selling games as one might expect. The games releasing on March 3rd are:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • 1-2 Switch
  • Just Dance 2017
  • Skylanders Imaginators
  • Super Bomberman R

As you can see, the major first party game on launch day is The Legend of Zelda. Fortunately, more hard hitting games will come out this year such as:

  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • ARMS
  • Splatoon 2
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • Minecraft
  • Sonic Mania
  • Steep
  • Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • I Am Setsuna
  • LEGO City Undercover
  • NBA 2K18
  • Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth

Nintendo also plans to release their online service to enable multiplayer online play. It will be a system like Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus where players can subscribe to the online service for a monthly or yearly price. Like Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus, Nintendo will allow subscribers to download a free NES or SNES game per month…with a HUGE caveat. While Xbox and PlayStation allow subscribers to keep their downloaded games, Nintendo will only allow subscribers to keep the downloaded game for the month it is available. Afterwards, the subscriber loses access to the game unless it is bought. The Switch is likely Nintendo’s last ditch effort to win back gamers after the failed Wii U. Business moves such as not allowing players to keep their free NES/SNES games may come back to haunt Nintendo as a potentially anti-consumer policy. Regardless, the Switch is an innovative and exciting entry into the gaming market. Time will tell if Nintendo is able to woo gamers (and third party developers) back to its platform. It will also be interesting to see how Nintendo will juggle the Switch with its other handheld offering, the 3DS. Nintendo is betting on mobility and based on their massive sales of the 3DS, it looks like they might just be onto something.

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The 3 Best Chicago Hot Dogs You Can Eat In 3 Hours

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Anyone who tells you that you need to try Chicago deep-dish pizza is wrong and needs to be avoided at all costs. Chicago is a hot dog town. You don’t realize how much you’ve missed out on life until you’ve tasted the glory that is Chicago hot dogs. 

A Chicago hot dog is very particular. And for good reason. First, they use real casing, giving it a signature snap when you bite into it. Second, it’s loaded with onions, tomato slices, neon-green relish, a pickle slice, sport peppers, and mustard on a poppy seed bun. Third, NO KETCHUP.

Seriously, you won’t make any friends in Chicago if you ask for ketchup on your dog. 

There is no shortage of quality dogs in Chicago. Wherever you go, chances are you’ll be happy. I went to these three spots and rated them accordingly. Prior to Chicago hot dogs, my dog experience was pretty limited to whatever looked “freshest” at 7/11. 

Here are the three best Chicago hot dogs I ate in three hours. 

Dog Haus

Our first stop was at Dog Haus on Lincoln Ave. It wasn’t very busy but it was very clean and the staff was super nice. Excited for my very first Chicago hot dog, I wolfed it down in a matter of moments. 

The bun was fluffy and perfectly crispy on the edges with a generous helping of all the toppings that make up the iconic dog. The dog itself was the single most delicious hot dog I have ever tasted in my life. All in all, I was pretty satisfied. 10/10.

The Wiener’s Circle

I have dreamed of visiting The Wieners Circle ever since they were featured on Conan. For those who don’t know, The Wieners Circle is known not just for its dogs but for how the staff berates and insults their customers as aggressively and brutally as you can imagine.

Being a vulgar person with a deep affection for greasy food, I knew this was the spot for me. 

The staff is only vulgar and insulting after 9 pm (can’t be cussing at the kids, ya dig?). So, while we didn’t get the full experience that makes this spot famous, you could smell it in their air. All it would take was one snarky comment and you could imagine the wonderful abuse you’d endure. But this is a business trip, so best behave. 

I got the cheddar char dog – a classic Chicago-style with cheese charred on the grill. And good golly miss molly was it the single most delicious hot dog I have ever tasted in my entire life –  but better

The dog was not huge, but the poppy seed bun perfectly cradled it and the toppings beautifully and gently. The char – my goodness ya’ll – THE CHAR! You could taste all the grease of years past with that perfectly smoky, blackened taste that makes every hot dog the best hot dog. 

It was everything I dreamed it would be. 12 – no – 15!/10.

Flub A Dub Chub’s

Next was Flub A Dub Chub’s (LOVE the name). It feels like an event when you descend down the grimy stairs into what is, without question, the winner in terms of atmosphere. 

The fairly small space’s walls were covered with customer-made hot-dog-themed drawings that varied from a hot dog beating up a ketchup bottle (I wasn’t kidding about the ketchup thing – don’t do it) to a Thor holding Mjölnir in triumph while yelling something about hot dogs (missed opportunity to hold a dog-themed Mjölnir, imho). 

The staff was cool and non-judgmental (for those of you brave enough to add ketchup), and the dog was the single most delicious hot dog I have ever tasted in my entire life – only I’m full now.

Three Chicago hot dogs in three hours add up, alright? 

The Verdict

For me, it was The Wieners Circle. The others never stood a chance. Call it bias, call it favoritism, call it what you want. But you’re not the one writing right now, are you? 

The Wieners Circle is without question the most superior of all Chicago hot dogs. It doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not except for a great place to get a delicious dog and some humbling verbal abuse. 

Dog Haus was a great first Chicago hot dog experience, but ultimately chains are inherently a little lame. Flub A Dub Chub’s was super fun, but I was getting full by that time, so it’s not totally fair. 

If you’re going to have any hot dog in Chicago, make sure it’s The Wieners Circle – and make sure you leave a tip.

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My 7-Day, $7 GraphicsZoo Review

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The luxury of an on-demand graphic designer is a recent one. Gone are the Mad Men days of walking into a glamorous, sexy office building to hire a firm to do design work for you. Now, if you need a design completed, all you have to do is log on. GraphicsZoo is one such on-demand graphic designer. Here is a GraphicsZoo review you do not want to miss.

Side note – how fun is it to say “GraphicsZoo review” out loud? Say it with me “GraphicsZoo review.” Fun, no?

Anyway…

For a flat, monthly rate you can have all the designs your mind could dream of. So, I decided to see what was up with them. I signed up for their 7 Day $7 Trial. Not a bad deal, right? Here’s how my experience went. 

Logging On, Part One

When I first signed up for GraphicsZoo, I didn’t actually sign up. Not yet anyway. I had filled in and submitted the necessary log-in information. Next was the payment information. I paused on that for whatever reason, got distracted and closed the window. I would take care of it the next day when I had a moment. 

GraphicsZoo, however, took the initiative. I received this email the following day:

I hadn’t given them any money yet. Seems a little odd for a company to get the ball rolling when a customer has knowingly not handed over any kind of payment information. They sure seemed eager to get started, so, why not? Let’s get to work. 

Except, when I clicked on “Post a New Project,” I was sent to this page: 

You may be asking yourself, “what the hell is Laravel?” Because I sure did. Laravel is a free, open-source PHP web framework. It’s a website programming tool. That’s the best way I can explain something I don’t fully understand in layman’s terms. 

Why was I sent to this page by an official GraphicsZoo email? 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Logging On, Part Two – The Sandwich Shop of My Dreams

Now ready to hand over proper payment information, I signed up a second time. Again, GraphicsZoo sent me an email about starting a project before I had submitted the payment information. But this time, they didn’t even give me time to walk away. 

I get it, you’re Eager McBeavers. Let’s wait until I hand over payment information, yes? 

Once I got settled in, I submitted my design request. Since high school, I’ve had a very silly dream about opening up a sandwich shop. So, to make a younger me excited, I decided to create a logo for this dream sandwich shop. 

My nickname in high school was Blondie, so I decided to stick with the theme and name my dream shop “Blondie’s Sammiches.”

Now, I had plenty of ideas as to how I wanted a logo or a label to look for this dream shop. But I wanted to see what GraphicsZoo designers could do with minimal direction. I gave them the initial freedom to decide for me. Let’s see what kind of raw talent they got. 

I asked for a classic New York deli-style design, and the rest was up to them. At least to start. 

Once submitted, I happened to notice the expected delivery date. September 6. That date would seem arbitrary, but I signed up on September 1. Kinda funny that the first expected delivery date is just under the 7-day mark, no? 

I see what you’re doing, GraphicsZoo. 

Design First Draft

To GraphicsZoo’s credit, they delivered the first draft ahead of schedule. For minimal direction, they delivered a half-decent design. 

I asked for a classic New York deli-style design. I think, despite the super-dated early 90’s color scheme, they did pretty okay. 

Now, I wanted to see how they would take direction. I preferred the first design with the text wrapped around the sandwich logo. I only wanted to change the color. I asked for a variety of text options (black, white, and colored) and that the sandwich be filled with “sandwich colors,” for lack of a better description. 

We all know what “sandwich colors” are, right? 

Turns out, GraphicsZoo designers did. 

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

We were approaching the 7-day mark, so I was hoping to get a revision on the design before that mark. 

I would periodically check-in, but I would have a difficult time navigating the site. Upon checking in, I would see this page: 

If I were a less patient person, I would have been irritated. If I was paying regular, non-$7 prices, I would be furious. My inner Karen would be roaring. 

After some digging and clicking, I would eventually find my project. But, frankly, I shouldn’t have to do that no matter how little I’m paying. If I’m about to open my dream sandwich shop, I want to be able to find my potential logo with absolutely no issues. 

Seeing empty folders on an initial log-in is, well, not good. 

Design Second Draft

Thankfully, one day before the end of the 7-day trial, I received a second draft. To my delight, they had followed my directions well. 

Sure looks like “sandwich colors” to me. 

If I had more time to work on this, and if I were actually opening up my sandwich shop, I would have more revisions to make. But, considering the quality of design in the brief time allotted, I think this is a solid design. 

What is “solid” in terms of an academic grade? A “B?” A “B-?” Either way, my mother would tell me to do better. 

Cancelling The Trial Before The Real Charges

I was now in a time crunch. Considering I don’t want to pay over $300 for a service I won’t be returning to anytime soon, I wanted out and fast. I mean, look at these prices. 

Not exactly in my budget. So, it was time to cancel. I requested a cancellation and then… well, I waited. 

But, I don’t want to wait to see if my cancellation goes through or not. When you go to cancel your Netflix subscription, they cancel it. There’s no suspense. And when there’s that amount of money at stake, suspense is not the emotion I’d like to be feeling in the moment. 

I reached out to GraphicsZoo’s support team. I had asked for a confirmation of cancellation. But they had something else in mind, at first. 

And so, our dance began. 

There was a decent amount of back and forth. “How about this subscription plan?” No, just cancel, please. “Well, how about this one?” No. Just cancel, please. “Consider this plan!” I said NO. No means no! 

Eventually, my persistence and complete and total unwillingness to pay a single cent more won out. Grace, my support … person, finally conceded. 

She was doing her job. Can’t sneeze at that. I can sneeze at the practice of hounding someone not interested in paying a single cent more. If I were running a business, however, I’d insist on that policy. 

I may have been mildly annoyed about that process, but ultimately no harm was done. The cancellation went through. 

Conclusion

All in all, I would call my 7-day $7 trial experience with GraphicsZoo mediocre. I found the initial signing-up experience to be bizarre and unintentional. There’s no way GraphicsZoo meant to send me to a web programming tool when asking me to start a project. 

That’s the kind of whoopsie-daisy that really needs to be rectified, and immediately. 

I was slightly irritated by the persistence of a support coordinator to get me to keep paying them, but that’s the nature of business. There’s nothing wrong with that. 

I was mildly impressed with the designer’s ability to deliver a decent design in a short amount of time with minimal direction. What they delivered was fine, but given the circumstances, I think it was solid. 

Despite the decent work by the designers, I probably wouldn’t recommend GraphicsZoo. The experience with the initial signing up, the difficulty navigating their site, and the over persistence by the support department left me with a bad taste. There are plenty of other services out there better organized with the same quality of design. 

If I could put my experience with GraphicsZoo in a single word, it would be “Meh.”

Be sure to read our other GraphicsZoo review to help make up your mind!

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Bearaby Tree Napper Review: Is It Worth $299?

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Weighted blankets have gained popularity in recent years for their therapeutic benefits. What used to be therapy for those with anxiety and autism has now become widely available. Weighted blankets come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges. However, most are the same. They’re simply blankets – weighted with a heavy material, typically beads.

Bearaby introduces an entirely new concept, the Bearaby Tree Napper, a weighted knitted from eucalyptus trees. Like Bearaby’s other weighted blankets, the Tree Napper gets its weight completely from the construction materials instead of relying on beads. It’s a unique concept that’s both innovative and socially responsible. However, is it worth the asking price?

What’s a weighted blanket?

First, let’s start by explaining what exactly a weighted blanket is. It’s a blanket that uses either beads or dense materials to give it a weight between 15 – 30 lbs. The weight is often evenly distributed across the blanket, so the pressure is applied equally. Research has shown that deep pressure stimulation has shown to reduce anxiety and stress. Ever wonder why a massage feels so good afterward?

Weighted blankets offer similar therapeutic effects by wrapping you underneath a 15 – 30lbs blanket. Several studies have shown that frequent use of weighted blankets can also help with chronic pain, osteoarthritis, insomnia, and even ADHD.

What makes Bearaby unique?

Most weighted blankets get their weight from tiny beads evenly quilted into the lining. This method certainly does work to give the blanket its weight, but you’ll often feel like you’re under a sandbag. The Bearaby Nappa is unlike any other weighted blanket. It gets its weight naturally from the dense cotton strands knitted together. This design choice gives the blanket a cohesive structure that’s both flexible and durable. It can stretch and take a bit of abuse. However, it’ll never lose its shape.

One significant advantage of Bearaby’s unique design is that it doesn’t sacrifice comfort for weight. Traditional weighted blankets rely on noisy beaded pockets, and that can often be uncomfortable. The Bearaby’s soft tencel knits are comfortable, soft, and have a natural silk-like texture that makes them cool to the touch.

Are Bearaby Weighted Blankets Washable?

Yes, thanks to 100% of the weight coming from the fibers, all Bearaby blankets, including the Tree Napper, are machine washable. Traditional weighted blankets are much more complicated to wash due to the beads being interlocked in pockets. Machine washing and drying could cause damage to the covering or, worse, to the washing machine should the pockets rupture. 

What is Bearaby made of?

It never fails to draw attention. The Bearaby’s unique look is both captivating and functional. Tencel is claimed to be softer than silk and more relaxed than linen. I can confirm its effectiveness by sleeping with the Bearaby for the past month in 80-90 degree weather. The knits allow me to sleep much cooler than a regular comforter.

Because 100% of the weight comes from the cotton itself, the distribution is more even across my body, giving me the feeling of being hugged rather than held down.

The look & feel

It never fails to draw attention. The Bearaby’s unique look is both captivating and functional. Tencel is claimed to be softer than silk and cooler than linen. Sleeping with the Bearaby for the past month in 80-90 degree weather, I can confirm its effectiveness. The knits allow me to sleep much cooler than a regular comforter.

Because 100% of the weight comes from the cotton itself, the distribution is more even across my body, giving me the feeling of being hugged rather than being held down.

A socially responsible company

Bearaby promises all of its products are sourced responsibly in a closed-loop process that uses 90% less water than traditional fabrics. Their products, including the Tree Napper, are biodegradable and have received sustainability certifications to back up their claim.

It’s easy for brands to claim their sustainability badge by promising to donate money for every purchase. Bearaby does something that few are willing to do – changing their manufacturing practice. It’s not a flashy promise, but it’s an expensive choice with the most significant impact on our environment. This practice alone more than justifies Bearaby’s price tag.

Bearaby’s price

We recommend any Bearaby weighted blankets because it’s a fantastic health product that can add years to your life. Any benefits traditional weighted blankets offer, the Bearaby simply offers more.

The Bearaby Tree Napper starts at $269 for the 15lbs version and goes up to $299 for the 25lbs version. It’s easily one of the most expensive weighted blankets on the market. However, considering the materials, sustainable practice, and fair wages they offer their staff, it’s well worth the price. You’re buying more than just a blanket. You’re supporting a company that takes care of their people and environment.

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