All posts by Louis Gabriel

Blizzard’s Jeremy Feasel on how ‘Battle for Azeroth’ puts war back in ‘Warcraft’

The next World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth, is all about the core conflict of the Warcraft universe. Senior game designer Jeremy Feasel tells us how the story, and new features like Warfronts, will make it more focused.

The post Blizzard’s Jeremy Feasel on how ‘Battle for Azeroth’ puts war back in ‘Warcraft’ appeared first on Digital Trends.

Stay fit without leaving the house, with this creative workout gear


Can’t get to the gym? Fitness pros have come up with effective and transportable at-home exercise equipment that will counter just about every excuse.

Although Erika Rayman was an avid runner, it wasn’t until she regularly performed a series of intense squats with a trainer that she noticed a difference in her body — specifically her posterior. So she set out to develop a device that would help people nail the perfect squat.

“I learned so much about form working out with a trainer, and wanted to make that available to anyone of any level,” she said. (The maximum user weight on the device is 215 pounds.)

Earlier this year, she launched the DB Method, which works out the lower body; sit on the tilted seat built onto a resistance system, grab the handrails and start squatting.

“It’s a high-intensity, low-impact workout,” Rayman said of the tool, which can be assembled in about 15 minutes. It collapses to fold under a bed or to stack against a wall.

The DB Method, $189;

Unable to work out after hip surgery, Gorgi Nikkaran developed Gravocore, a portable pulley-and-harness system designed for all ages and levels that can be slung over a door, onto a tree or attached to a bar or pole.

“I’d been fit all my life, but there were many exercises I couldn’t do after my surgery, and I needed to find another way to get back in shape,” Nikkaran said.

Gravocore works by exercising muscles without compromising the joints, helping to burn fat and build muscle. The regimens used in conjunction with the system work the core, abs, legs and — depending on a user’s fitness goals — may replace a gym full of equipment.

“It’s about what you want out of your workout,” Nikkaran said. “Some people want to be physically stronger. Others want a visual transformation.”

Gravocore, $349;

In designing the ActivMotion Bar, Derek Mikulski’s aim was to “put resistance that’s active or alive into someone’s hands.”

“It will make them use their brains more, as opposed to using static — or dead — weight,” he says of the pole, which enhances squats, lunges and crunches and takes the place of hand weights or a medicine ball.

The ball bearings inside the pole shift when it is held, forcing users to focus on keeping it stable. In addition to encouraging concentration during a workout, more muscles are activated, said Mikulski.

The poles are available in a variety of weights, starting at 3 pounds. Purchases include a digital workout regimen.

ActivMotion Bar, $99 and up,

The Pilates Wheel is specifically for those who want to obtain the long, lean look synonymous with the form of exercise but find the cost of classes prohibitive.

Pilates instructor Kristin Anderson and trainer Brian Abercrombie earlier this year launched the wheel, which takes the fundamentals of bulky and expensive Pilates equipment like the Reformer and distills them into a compact, at-home product.

“The machines provide resistance, moving from the core, stabilizing muscles,” Anderson said. “When you strip away the metal parts and pieces, those are the main Pilates principles.”

Abercrombie said the device — essentially, wheels attached to each end of a rod, with resistance bands, handles and foot loops — is for strength, stretching and cardio and can be used by those who have never taken a Pilates class. The duo runs classes on Facebook Live several times a week.

The Pilates Wheel, starting at $199, which includes instructional DVDs and an eating plan;


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Microsoft to end free Windows 10 upgrades – this time for good

Why it matters to you

The free upgrade to Windows 10 program is officially over on December 31, even for folks who have a need for assistive technologies.

As part of its goal to get Windows 10 onto people’s computers, Microsoft offered free upgrades to the new version of its operating system for years. To be specific, it was the company’s goal to hit the billion-device milestone in a few years after the launch of the new operating system. Giving free upgrades was Microsoft’s golden ticket to hit that number.

In other words, the free Windows 10 upgrades program always had an expiration date — and now Microsoft is ending the program without reservation. The program officially closed for most people in July but included an exception for those who have needs requiring “assistive technologies.” The exception was for those who used accessories such as Braille screens, screen readers, or magnifiers.

Microsoft’s messaging concerning the issue has been unclear, but it looks like it is finally been settled. As noticed by ZDnet, the assistive technologies loophole will be closed on December 31. The news was quietly tweeted by the Microsoft Accessibility Twitter account in October:

How well has Microsoft done at getting people to upgrade to Windows 10? The numbers change depending on who you ask, but StatCounter reports that Windows 10 still has not eclipsed Windows 7 in terms of percentages. Unlike other companies, Microsoft is known for having a massive base of legacy users who are perfectly happy using Windows 7 or Windows 8. As hard as it is to believe, StatCounter says that 3.89 percent of Windows users still have Windows XP installed on their machines.

Microsoft executives admitted last year that the ambitious Windows 10 goal wasn’t going to be met: “We’re pleased with our progress to date, but due to the focusing of our phone hardware business, it will take longer than FY18 for us to reach our goal of 1 billion monthly active devices.”

The program’s closure marks the end of Microsoft’s active campaign to get people upgraded from Windows 7 and Windows 8. From here on out, Microsoft will have to rely on new device purchases to increase that number.


Additional Body Benefits to Consider When Selecting the Best Meal Replacement Shakes 

If you haven’t yet started using meal replacement shakes, my assumption is that creating delicious, home-cooked meals is the reason why. If you are a faithful follower of this exciting diet plan, then congratulations are in order. You are one among many who have discovered the secret to a long, satisfying life. 

Just imagine what it is like to live a less stressful life that does not involve hurried bi-weekly visits to the grocery store, or, constant aches and pains that make the vigor of youth seem ancient. What would your legs say if they were not obligated to stand at the kitchen counter every few hours between sunrise and sunset? 

That kind of life is nothing but a distant memory for most women today. They spend less time standing in the kitchen, and more time improving themselves. If a day spent at home feels torturous, then you are a candidate for change. Read on and find out what you can do to share in their delight. 

The Secret Revealed

First things first, l know what you are thinking… you are not trying to lose excess weight, in fact, you are quite fit for the average mom. Congratulations to you as well, however, l would like to burst the bubble and let you in on a rarely spoken aspect of meal replacement options. 

The truth is, the best meal replacement shakes, for example, do more than just help people shed weight. They additionally support an existing diet plan for those who are fit. (Read you…) 

So if you have been giving them the cold shoulder, maybe it’s time you gave them an ear instead. This is what you might be missing out on: 

  • Normalized blood sugar levels
  • Fairer skin
  • Reduced meal preparation time
  • Retention of lean body mass(muscle)
  • An opportunity for weight maintenance

Benefits of Meal Replacement Shakes Explained

Not even this diet option works like a magic bullet, therefore, consistency and discipline are what determines the kind of results that each individual eventually experiences. 

  1.  Enhanced Beauty

When you start using shakes, you will notice a change in complexion or in fairness. This is happening because the skin is now receiving the much-needed vitamins and nutrients that it may have otherwise been lacking. The nutrients found in diet shakes are balanced in such a way that they provide just the right amounts to your body. 

Fruit extracts and organic ingredients found in most shakes additionally add strength and shine to your hair and skin. 

  1.  Muscle building

Whenever you undergo a vigorous work-out session, your body reacts by tearing down muscles. As a preventive measure, you can feed the body what it requires to repair those muscles within an hour after working out. 

What it needs is protein, and shakes provide a ready option that can be quickly absorbed by the body. Meal replacement shakes contain whey, milk and soy proteins which contain the necessary amounts of amino acids that are paramount for muscle repair and growth. 

  1.  Supporting blood sugar levels

When you take meal replacement shakes, you feel fuller because it replicates an actual meal. Even more important is that it should contain zero or natural sugar. As a result, glucose is released slowly into your system, and this stabilizes your blood sugar levels. 

This kind of process significantly reduces the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. 

  1.  Weight maintenance

When shakes are part of your normal diet plan, your body benefits from the extra nutrients that it provides by enhancing your body functions. In addition to that, meal replacements prevent the loss of muscle mass that could otherwise cause your weight to flop. 

  1.  Reduction in time used for meal preparation

The best meal replacement shakes require little to no effort preparing, as most are ready to drink, while others require a bit of mixing up with other liquids. Preparing shakes takes very little of your time as compared to traditional meals that require planning, buying, preparing, and eventually cooking. 

Considering all of the above, it is safe to say shakes require less time and money, unlike regular meals. 

What to watch out for

Despite their amazing benefits, the best meal replacement shakes can be the cause of your pain if you do not read labels properly. Seek out shakes that are allergen free if you are intolerant to gluten, soy or dairy. There are varieties that have been formulated with your needs in mind. 

Consider speaking to a dietitian or a doctor first before incorporating shakes as part of your daily routine. 

Apple’s WatchOS 4.1 update adds phone-less music streaming, GymKit

Why it matters to you

WatchOS 4.1 makes it even easier to leave your phone at home when going for a run or to the gym.

Got an Apple Watch? Apple just released WatchOS 4.1 for all users today, and the spotlight feature is support for GymKit. It enables the Apple Watch to pair with supported gym equipment, so you can track more accurate fitness data.

GymKit allows two-way data sharing between gym equipment and the Apple Watch, enabling Apple to better estimate distance and energy burn metrics. Currently, LifeFitness, Cybex, Star Tac, StairMaster, Matrix, and TechnoGym have partnered with Apple to support GymKit, but more gyms and hardware manufacturers are expected to be announced in the near future.

WatchOS 4.1 also brings access to the iCloud Music Library. The Apple Watch was previously limited to synced playlists from the iPhone over Wi-FI, but the latest update allows Apple Music subscribers access to their entire library. Watch Series 3 with LTE users have the added benefit of being able to stream music over cellular.  To make it even easier to find your favorite music on the Apple Watch, the WatchOS 4.1 update now allows you to use Siri to search for songs, playlists and albums.

There’s also a new app included with the update: Radio. The app lets you stream Apple’s own Beats 1 radio station, in addition to NPR, ESPN and a few other stations. While access to Beats 1 is free, other stations require an Apple Music subscription.  Streaming via Wi-Fi or LTE is also available for the Radio app.

One welcome update for many Apple Watch Series 3 LTE users is the addition of a Wi-Fi toggle button in the Control Panel.  The Wi-FI toggle allows users to default to LTE service when they’re in an area with patchy Wi-FI service.  While Apple already released a WatchOS update to address issues with the Apple Watch becoming stuck on public Wi-Fi networks, the Wi-Fi toggle button gives Watch Series 3 LTE users the option to rely solely on cellular service even when their phone is on a Wi-Fi network.


Kobe, Bezos, Gladwell to speak at next week’s Super Bowl of wellness in L.A.

Next weekend’s Summit LA 17 in downtown Los Angeles is aimed at inspiring people to live better and more creative lives, whether it’s by racing home to declutter after listening to the queen of organizing, Marie Kondo, learning about cleaner living from Jessica Alba, or sitting in on a panel about an urban design project in Utah where Richard Branson is an investor.

“We want people to choose their adventures every day,” said Ryan Begelman, co-founder of Summit, which runs from Nov. 3-6.

The 3,000-plus who have signed up to attend, and pay the $3,700 admission, will be able to access some 150 talks, 75 wellness classes, 40 music, comedy or dance performances.

Keynote events include “Netflix and Chill: a Fireside Chat with Reed Hastings,” as well as addresses by Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, television maven Shonda Rhimes and writers Lena Dunham and Malcolm Gladwell.

“We wanted to pull out all the stops and host this flagship event,” said Begelman. “Our goal is to create a surreal setting with all these leaders so that people can connect and be inspired and go out and do great things.”

Others on the agenda include Christiana Figueres, architect of the Paris Climate Agreement, and sports stars Kobe Bryant and Pele.

This is the first Summit in Los Angeles; previously, they have taken place on cruises, and in Mexico and Utah.

The sprawl of events will take place around downtown Los Angeles within several hotels, such as the Intercontinental and the Standard, with performances at historic theaters such as the Orpheum. Downtown parking lots are being taken over to create a 75,000-square-foot food, art and wellness pavilion.

“At any given time there will be 12 to 20 different experiences or talks that someone could engage with,” said Begelman, who added that the offerings will start early in the morning and go till late at night.

“We see it as 72 hours to get people out of their headspace, away from their home and work lives and immerse themselves in these different experiences.”

The $3,700 ticket covers the three days of activities plus hotel stay and all food at participating eateries.

Apply to attend online at The Summit is for those 21 and over.


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10 high-tech gadgets to help you get to sleep

How ‘Scandal’s’ Katie Lowes hid her psoriasis

7 steps to making your health your No. 1 priority

He lost 84 pounds in four months — and kept it off

California’s opioid death rate is among the nation’s lowest. Experts aren’t sure why

Declaring the opioid epidemic a public health emergency this week, President Trump said that no part of society, “young or old, rich or poor, urban or rural” had been untouched by drug addiction.

Ninety-one Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The drugs now kill more people each year than car crashes.

But in California, the opioid crisis, though still bleak, has been less severe.

In West Virginia, the state hardest hit by the epidemic, 41 of every 100,000 residents died from drug overdoses in 2015, according to the CDC. In California, that rate was 11 — the seventh-lowest in the nation.

California officials warned this year that although opioid deaths have leveled off here, the epidemic is still killing thousands. More people die each year from drug overdoses in California than in any other state, though that’s largely because of the state’s enormous population.

Public health experts can’t agree on why California’s opioid death rates are lower than the rest of the country’s, but some suggested it could be because of the state’s demographics as well as the type of heroin available.

Though there are occasional reports in California of overdoses from drugs such as fentanyl, a highly potent opioid, they aren’t as pervasive, experts say.

“We’re spared in California,” said Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a UC San Francisco professor who studies heroin usage. “We have the episodic things — the East Coast is the killing fields.”

Twenty years ago, California had one of the highest rates of drug-related deaths in the nation. Between 1999 and 2015, the rate continued to climb, increasing by 30%, according to data from the CDC.

The jump was bad, but elsewhere in the country, it was worse. West Virginia’s rate, for example, grew during that time by 975%. Rates skyrocketed so high in other states that California now has one of the lowest drug-death rates in the nation.

“In California, we are seeing increases in problems with opioid use disorder, just like the rest of the country, but the per capita problems are certainly higher in parts of Appalachia and elsewhere,” said Dr. Carla Marienfeld, an addiction psychiatrist at UC San Diego. “It’s not that we aren’t seeing increases.”

Opioid death rates in many parts of the state, including Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Bernardino counties, remain relatively low. But last year, 10 mostly rural counties in the state’s extreme north had more opioid prescriptions than residents, a red flag for public health researchers.

In some of those regions, death rates are just as high as in the most impacted states.

“If California were divided up into several states … then parts of our state, principally the north, would be a disaster area as bad as West Virginia,” said Dr. Kelly Pfeifer, an opioid expert at Oakland-based California Health Care Foundation.

How drug death rates have stayed comparatively low

Pfeifer experienced a wake-up call about opioids when she worked at a rural health center in the northern Bay Area about a decade ago. She said that doctors had been taught that opioids weren’t addictive.

“I got a call from a coroner,” she said. A woman had died gripping a pain pill bottle with Pfeifer’s name on it.

“I had to totally revamp. … All of us who practiced during that time were prescribing doses that were previously only being seen in hospice,” she said.

Since most Californians live in urban centers, they may have been sheltered from the higher prescribing habits of rural areas, she said. Studies also have found that doctors are less likely to address complaints of pain from nonwhite patients, which would mean fewer opioid prescriptions per capita in diverse places such as Los Angeles.

Oxycodone pain pills. John Moore / Getty Images

Family members of people killed by the epidemic often describe a loved one who started taking prescription opioids, such as Vicodin or OxyContin, after receiving them from a doctor or trying them at a party. Typically, an addiction to heroin followed, and then a fatal overdose.

Experts say that the drugs available in California may affect how people transition from pills to harder substances.

Heroin sold east of the Mississippi River is usually white powder, but the kind sold in the West tends to be black tar heroin, experts say. Black tar heroin is more difficult to use and is harder to spike with other substances, creating a sort of protective effect, experts say.

Many opioid overdoses are linked to fentanyl, an incredibly strong opioid that can kill even in small doses.

“Black tar heroin simply can’t be cut as easily with fentanyl,” Ciccarone said.

It’s also possible that dealers of methamphetamine, which has historically been more common in California than in other states, could have kept out heroin. And studies have suggested that easier access to marijuana makes people less likely to seek out opioids.

Ciccarone and other experts said cartels also might not be sending as much heroin and fentanyl to California.

“There’s no social demographic rhyme or reason as to why the zone that’s bad off with heroin and fentanyl is,” said Ciccarone, referring to the Midwest and New England. “It seems to me that it’s a supply issue that’s driving fentanyl and heroin overdoses.”

Future risk of fentanyl

In 2015, state and local health leaders created opioid safety coalitions in California, which have expanded access to naloxone and medication-assisted treatment. It’s an unusual state-backed program involving law enforcement, government and health officials in each community, Pfeifer said.

“You have to work locally, because L.A. and Modoc County couldn’t be more different,” she said.

Now, 95% of Californians live in a part of the state where leaders have joined a coalition. Between 2015 and 2016, there was a roughly 12% drop in the amount of opioids prescribed across the state as well as in the rate of people taking high-dose opioids.

Pfeifer said that the state’s Medi-Cal program also has invested heavily in expanding and improving addiction-recovery services for its members.

Still, Ciccarone said that if the heroin in California becomes more dangerous or cartels start sending more fentanyl to California, deaths could spike here, too.

“There’s no reason to think there’d be demand for fentanyl in Detroit, but not demand in San Francisco,” he said. “That still means the boogeyman is out there.”

Many people are concerned about fentanyl. In one week in Sacramento last spring, 36 people overdosed from street drugs, and fentanyl was the prime suspect.

Though several opioid-related problems are flatlining or dropping in California, fentanyl deaths increased 47% last year, according to state data.

“I think it’s too early to know if we’ll be able to stay ahead of it,” Pfeifer said.

Twitter: @skarlamangla


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