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So You’ve Just Bought a PS3, What Can You Do with It?

From the beginning of this generation’s line of consoles, gamers far and wide have been flocking to the Xbox 360. Not only did it sport an excellent multiplayer network, great visual graphics, but a price tag that even a humble gamer could afford.

We all can recognize the “Five-hundred ninety-nine dollars” fad that has been circling internet groups regarding the price point of the Playstation 3 at launch and even worse, the “PS3 has no games” fad concerning the lack of appealing exclusive titles for the system. These two things alone have left the Playstation 3 lonely and depreciated for the last few years, with few straggling fans trying to give the console life.

With the coming of the new “slim” Playstation 3 CECH-2000 model announced by Sony during its Gamescom conference on August 18, 2009, the company hopes to change all of this. If you’ve seen the most recent commercials for the system, no doubt you’ve heard their phrase, “It only does everything.” And while this might seem like nothing more than a clever marketing ploy by Sony’s advertising team, there actually is a great deal of truth to this. Listed below are some of the PS3’s greatest assets, and a showcase of all of the things the PS3 can do natively, and do well.

  1. Every PS3 has the capability to play PSX games. They’re cheap, fun, and great for nostalgia moments. Go pick some up. Unfortunately, only certain older models of the PS3 can play PS2 games. Check here to see if yours is compatible.
  2. The PS3 Media Server is a free and excellent application that allows you to stream audio, video, and photo files from your computer to your PS3.
  3. The PS3 is compatible with a myriad of computer accessories, such as:
  • Bluetooth Universal Remotes
  • Bluetooth Cellphone Headsets/Mics
  • Bluetooth Keyboards/Mice
  • USB/Bluetooth Headsets
  • USB Keyboards/Mice
  • USB Webcams
  • USB Hard-drives
  • USB Memory Devices
  • USB Card Readers (Note: Older PS3 models already have these readers built-in to the system)
  • USB Wi-Fi Dongles (Great if you want 802.11n connections, so long as the dongle supports it)
  • USB Controllers (This includes PSX, PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube controllers, so long as you buy the appropriate USB adaptor for each)
  • USB Printers (In particular, Canon has special PS3 options)
  1. The latest PS3 firmware (Which is optional) supports PSP Emulation. However as of now it is limited to PSP Minis. It is also possible to play your PS3 over the internet with your PSP.
  2. If your PS3’s colors seem a bit off, you can go into the Video Settings and enable “Full Range RGB” and “Super White”.
  3. The PS3 supports the following disc formats:
  • CD
  • Super Audio CD (Older PS3s only)
  • PSX Discs
  • PS2 Discs (Older PS3s only)
  • DVD
  • DVD-Audio (Given there is a video file of some kind on the disc)
  • Blu-Ray
  • Blu-Ray Audio
  1. The PS3 supports the following Audio/Video filetypes natively:
  • AVI
  • AVCHD
  • DivX
  • Memory Stick Video
  • Motion JPEG
  • MPEG-1
  • MPEG-2 PS
  • MPEG-2 TS
  • MPEG-4 SP
  • MPEG-4/H.264 AVC High Profile
  • MP3
  • MP4
  • VC-1
  • WMV
  1. The PS3 has a slideshow feature in its Photo Section that is easy to use, can be supplemented with audio, and is well-presented.
  2. The PS3 hard-drives can be replaced with any standard laptop hard-drive (The Xbox 360 has a unique hard-drive specifically for its console), and Sony encourages you to buy your own and replace your own (Check your user manual).
  3. CD-Audio can be burnt directly to the PS3 hard-drive.

These are some of the most unique features the PS3 has to offer. I particularly am fond of the PS3 Media Server since I spend a great deal of time watching movies through my computer. It saves you the hassle of having an entanglement of wires to deal with when connecting your PC to your TV or PS3, and truly makes the PS3 into a multimedia console that can “do everything.” I’d certainly challenge the Xbox 360 to natively do this, and do so without having to undergo an ordeal and massive headache just to accomplish the same tasks.

Review of the Fight: Lights Out for the PlayStation 3

The Fight: Lights Out is PlayStation 3 exclusive game. It is a PlayStation Move enabled game. Its original release date was November 9, 2010. You can do single player, split screen multiplayer, or fight against someone online. The game does require two motion controllers per player.

The game starts out with a tutorial, done by Danny Trejo. Some of the tutorials seemed a little over the top. He is trying to be a “tough guy” though. A few of the moves were a little difficult to do correctly. I’m not sure if that is because of the move controllers or the camera not picking up what I was doing. Calibrating is pretty quick and easy, although you do have to do it before every fight or training session. I haven’t been able to get the camera to do head tracking correctly. So, I always just leave head tracking off. My lighting is always excellent.

You get to create your character. You set his height, weight, body type, etc. After you start getting into the actual fights, you are then able to unlock other things to further customize your character. You also unlock other moves that you can do in fights like a headbutt, elbow strikes, or grabbing your opponent and punching them in the face. These are considered “dirty” moves.

When you start fighting in single player mode, the tournaments are in a pyramid. You have to fight your way to the top in each venue. There are 12 venues to fight in and 10 fights per venue. By “nailing” each fight you unlock all of the items for that particular fight. You can do clean fights or fight dirty. You also earn cash in the fights so you can heal your character or train him some more. Training session include: sparring, heavy bag, speed bag, target practice, and endurance training. The training session is how you increase your characters overall stats.

The fitness report, tells you how many calories you burned in your session, what you average per session and your overall calories burned. The Fights does have fitness mini games that you can purchase from the PlayStation Store. I have not bought them and probably won’t.

Overall, The Fight: Lights Out is fun to play. The fights are a little repetitive but I still enjoy playing. However, it’s not a game that I play for hours on end. After the first few times I played it I was a little sore. I would definitely recommend not over doing it the first few times that you play. Having to calibrate after every fight, tutorial, or session gets a little old. There were some instances where the camera had my hands nowhere near where I was holding them, which made fighting awkward. Recalibrating fixed the issue though. At this point in the games life cycle there doesn’t seem to be much for opponents online, so if you purchase The Fight expect to be doing mostly single player or split screen fights.

I picked the game up for $19.96 from Walmart online. It’s a decent game for the price. If you are looking for a game to burn some calories or just want to fight some people, then this is a good game for you. If you’re looking for online fights or a game that will make you want to play for hours and hours, then I wouldn’t recommend this game. I’m rating this game a five out of 10.

Tuition-Free Colleges Really Do Exist

Too good to be true? Can you really earn your degree without searching for scholarships and grant? No more worries about paying back thousands of dollars in students loans? Yes, it can be done. There is a much easier way to get your degree – simply attend a college that doesn’t charge students tuition. According to an article by BusinessWeek , this is possible. Alison Damast states that there are “several thousand students in the U.S. taking advantage of colleges” that are tuition-free. The complete article can be found at http://images.businessweek.com/ss/07/11/1114_tuitionfree/index_01.htm.

There are several such colleges available to those who are willing to do a bit of research. Most of these colleges specialize in certain fields, so they may not be for everyone. However, there are a few that are liberal arts schools in the mix as well. The following is a list of tuition-free colleges:

Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, KY, one of the few liberal arts colleges that offers free tuition. It serves counties in Appalachia. Scoring at least 17 on the ACT is a must. SAT scores must be 430 on the verbal portion of the test as well as 400 on the math portion. A cumulative GPA of pre-college classes the applicant took in high school must be 2.25 or above is also required.

Berea College in Berea, KY, another liberal arts college. Students should have an ACT score between 20 and 30 or a between 1410 and 1980 on the SAT. The GPA should be above 3.0. Being from Appalachia is helpful, but not required.

City University of New York’s Teacher Academy in New York City, NY. It specializes in math and science education. Teaching in New York City’s public middle and high schools after graduating is a requirement. A strong GPA and above-average SAT or ACT scores are also needed. Students must complete a home test consisting of different projects and they must develop a portfolio. Acceptance is based on the home test, high school grades, and SAT or equivalent exams.

College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, MO. This university is also a liberal arts college. Their work-study program is mandatory. Students must show a financial need. They are required to have at least a 910 on the SAT or 19 on the ACT. Prospective students should be in the top half of their graduating class.

Cooper Union in New York specializes in engineering, architecture, and art. Prospective students must complete a home test consisting of different projects and they must develop a portfolio. Acceptance is based on the home test, high school grades, and SAT or equivalent exams. Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. PA specializes in music. Applicants must audition and have musical talent. Students must be pursuing a musical career.

Deep Springs College in Deep Springs, CA is a liberal arts, all-male college. The focus of this college is labor, self-government and academics. There is a two part application to be submitted. Either the SAT or ACT test must be taken.

Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, MA. Applicants must have a solid foundation in calculus and physics. Students must take the ACT or SAT test and there will additional testing in science and math.

U.S. Air Force, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and U.S. Naval Academy, specializing in military Air Force, Naval, and Coast Guard studies. A medical exam and fitness test are necessary to be accepted. Applicants must take either the ACT or SAT test. A congressperson must nominate the student before they are even considered for admission. Upon graduation, students are required to enlist for a minimum of five years in the military.

Webb Institute in Glen Cove, NY specializes in marine engineering and Naval architecture. Students are required to have a B average in physics, mathematics, and chemistry. High grades in other subjects are also required.

Top Places to Visit in Asheville, North Carolina for Seniors

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina is a top travel destination in the southern United States. It is a city with a myriad of activities and places to see for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. The magazine, “Modern Maturity” named it one of The 50 Most Alive Places To Be and “AARP Magazine” had it on the list for Best Places to Reinvent Your Life. “American Style” magazine listed it as the No. 2 small-city arts destination, for the numerous art events, festivals, and local galleries in the area. As you can see Asheville has a lot of appeal to seniors, and visitors who are wanting to live in, or visit a place that has a wealth of natural beauty, diversity, and culture. Asheville allows you to focus on healthy living, while enjoying life in a beautiful mountain setting. For those of us who are unable to move to Asheville, a weekend getaway is the perfect excursion, that allows you to visit a jewel in the North Carolina mountains.

The Biltmore Estate

The largest privately owned home in America is George W. Vanderbilt’s 8,000 acre estate with 250 rooms, 75 acres of landscaped gardens, and a winery. This excursion can take up an entire day, and it is advisable to purchase tickets well in advance of your visit. You can purchase tickets for a self-guided tour or you can purchase tickets for a guided tour. Tickets for the self guided tour of the Biltmore are around $55 if purchased online. Arrive early to avoid the crowds during busy seasons. The Estate has a variety of fabulous restaurants to choose from during your visit. Additional activities can be booked through the website for Biltmore including biking, hiking, horseback riding, float trips, fly fishing and carriage rides.

Mt. Pisgah or Crabtree Falls

The departure point for this particular hike is not a far drive from any point in the city of Asheville. The hike is relatively short at 1.5 miles one way, but it can be a bit strenuous to the 5720 ft summit. Once you arrive at the top you are grateful that you made it, because the view is incredible. If you are looking for something a bit easier, Crabtree Falls offers a 2.5 mile trail that is an easy loop, and you will see a gorgeous 70 ft. waterfall. Depending on the season you may want to do your hiking in the morning or early afternoon. Then you have the rest of the day to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway by car, go rafting, or to visit the shops and galleries of the downtown Asheville area.

Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa

This mountain resort had many famous guests in the past, from F. Scott Fitzgerald, to countless presidents and other American VIPs. If you do not stay at the Grove Park Inn the Spa here is definitely worth the drive from your hotel in the area. One package, the Couples Retreat is around $475 for two people. The amenities here are phenomenal and you will always remember your trip to this spa. Arriving 2-3 hours in advance is advisable, to fully enjoy the steam room, eucalyptus inhalation room, hot tubs, sauna, waterfall pools, or one of the mineral, lap or contrast plunge pools. If you want to sit in the lounge fireside and read book you can always do that as well. After your spa treatment have a drink in the relaxed atmosphere of the Magnolia Lounge, where you can take in the beautiful view of the mountains, and the city off in the distance.

Accommodations

The Inn on Biltmore Estate is the most convenient in terms of the proximity to the Estate. It allows you to have the full experience of Biltmore along with the tour without having to go far. In terms of the nightly rate alone it ranges in price from $149 to $599. If you upgrade and book a complete package through the Inn, you will have accommodations, valet parking, estate admission for the length of your stay, estate transportation, and an audio tour for the self-guided tour of the Estate. Depending on the package you choose you also receive breakfast daily and you are provided with the Biltmore guidebook.

Below you will find a few of the finest inns and hotels in the Asheville area, with a variety of price ranges, but all offering great service and value. The Residences at Biltmore offers luxury condo accommodations, with plenty of room and all of the conveniences of home, if you are staying in the area for an extended amount of time.

  • Biltmore Village Inn $220-355*
  • The Residences at Biltmore Hotel $139-670*
  • The Grand Bohemian Hotel $159-379*
  • The Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa $120-1350
  • Brookstone Lodge Hotel $89-199
  • Hotel Indigo $109-279
  • Hotels with * are a 1-3 mile drive to the Biltmore
  • Restaurants
  • For dinner advance reservation is recommended
  • Breakfast
  • Tupelo Honey Café
  • The Early Girl Eatery
  • Lunch
  • Wasabi Sushi
  • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria
  • Dinner
  • Sunset Terrace at the Grove Park Inn
  • Horizons at the Grove Park Inn
  • Table
  • The Market Place
  • Nightly Entertainment
  • Tressa’s Downtown
  • Elaine’s Dueling Piano Bar at the Grove Park Inn

Travel Tip

For any activities requiring the purchase of tickets, scheduling of appointments/reservations handle these well in advance of your trip to Asheville.