Sunday, January 26, 2014

Vito: Sixers will need discount to pay for Turner

<Deal Todayp>PHILADELPHIA — The other night, Oklahoma City's Royal Ivey and Hasheem Thabeet were featured on Kiss Cam. Ivey, the former 76ers guard, didn't seem to mind. Thabeet, on the other hand, didn't want anything to do with the gag. He stood up from the bench and walked out of the camera shot.

It's not uncommon for players, like Ivey and Thabeet, to crane their necks and glance at the big screen during games. Evan Turner swears he isn't one of them.

So Saturday, in first- and third-quarter timeouts, Turner promises that he did not see a message that flashed across the Wells Fargo Center's screen — advertising 25-percent discounts on Sixers apparel bearing his name and number.

"I couldn't care less," Turner said. "I don't pay attention to what goes on (off the court) during the game."

Maybe the Sixers are simply trying to move product at an affordable price. Or maybe they're attempting to sell off Turner's gear prior to the Feb. 20 trade deadline, when he may no longer be with the team.

That's conjecture, anyway.

Turner's future with the Sixers, meanwhile, isn't up for debate. The fourth-year swingman is in the final year of his rookie deal. The Sixers have until June 30 to extend to Turner an $8.71 million qualifying offer. That's unlikely to happen, though doing so would allow the Sixers to match any offers the 25-year-old gets this offseason.

Without that qualifying offer, Turner will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

It seems inevitable that Turner and the Sixers, the team that drafted him second overall in 2010, will sever ties at the conclusion of this season, if not sooner.

"Me, personally," Turner said, "I'm kind of anxious to see how it all works out. I don't really think much of it. I'm kind of curious. Other than that, I don't sit there going, 'It's this. It's that.' It's whatever."

Questions regarding Turner's future with the Sixers seem to surface whenever he experiences extreme highs or extreme lows, a symptom of his game that has dogged him since Day 1. He had stretches of single-digit scoring last season. He's had stretches this season of the opposite, during which he's recognized that he's the Sixers' top scoring option on a green team.

Just last week, Turner scored a career-high 34 points in a win at New York. Afterward, Sixers coach Brett Brown lauded him.

"He ends up making big shots at big stages of the game and shows an incredible array of skills," Brown said. "He showed a variety of ways he's able to impact a game, from rebounding to a 3-point shot to making shots with two or three hands in his face to guarding Carmelo (Anthony) well. That's what I saw in him."

Turner, in his second full season as a starter, is experiencing a career year. He's the league's 25th-highest scorer, leading the Sixers with an average of 18.5 points per game. Additionally, Turner is averaging at or near career-high totals with 6.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.

Brown's up-tempo system also has aided Turner's amped-up production. With more team possessions per game, and more minutes and more shot attempts nightly than Turner has ever averaged, it only makes sense that Turner is thriving.

At what price would the Sixers wish to continue their partnership with Turner? Probably not at Turner's terms. And it's likely Turner will seek a deal similar to those agreed to by players from his draft class prior to the expiration of their rookie deals. John Wall, the No. 1 pick that year, got a five-year, $80 million pact from Washington. Derrick Favors, the man selected right after Turner at No. 3, picked up a four-year, $49 million extension from Utah. And No. 5 pick DeMarcus Cousins earned a four-year, $60 million deal with Sacramento.

It was only three months ago that Turner told reporters he's "going to get money," whether it's with the Sixers or with someone else.

"That statement blew up, like the Philly media does," Turner said. "They put that nonsense out there and make it sound like I'm something I'm not. I've always been about playing hard, making my team better and leading the team. Up until I'm done here or whatever, I'm always going to prepare to win, be successful and keep getting better day in and day out.

"Obviously, for good or bad, I hold Philly near and dear to my heart, you know what I'm saying? I was drafted here, I grew here. I saw some great times here. It's always a good place in my heart. I can't say anything negative."

Turner is not worth that much of a financial commitment from a team in rebuilding mode, one that's built upon buying low, selling high and taking flyers on unclaimed prospects and unwanted projects. The Sixers are expected to have somewhere in the ballpark of $30 million in available salary cap space next summer, but unless Turner — like his merchandise — comes at a discounted rate, the Sixers aren't buying.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

How to get the best deals on holidays

When should you book a summer family holiday?

If you're organised you may well have booked your family summer holiday already. If you haven't it's Best Buy to book sooner rather than later to take advantage of tour operator offers, such as free child places or low deposit schemes. "Most hotels issue early-booking offers of up to 30% off, with expiry dates in December-January, or sometimes February," says Emma Barnett, co-founder of family specialist Totstoo. "In rare situations, when the hotel hasn't yet released their next year's rates, we can sometimes guarantee the same price as the current year's rates, avoiding (typically) a 10% increase."

When is the best time to book a camping holiday in Europe?

Predictions that the UK economy is set to outgrow the rest of Europe should lead to some competitive prices at European campsites, according to Dan Yates, founder of outdoor accommodation specialist, so those planning an overseas camping holiday should book now to take advantage of the keen pricing and early-bird specials.

That's not to say there won't be last-minute bargains too, particularly if the UK has a good summer. "If holidaymakers decide to stay in the UK, site owners and tour operators will be keen to offload inventory," says Yates.

The best time to book a Eurocamp holiday is between now and 5 March, when there are a number of special offers available, including a 20 per cent price reduction at selected sites during July and August. A selection of parks, including St Avit Loisirs in the Dordogne and Playa Joyel on the Costa Verde, are currently available at Easter for £35 per party for a family of two adults and up to four children.

Michelle Betley Jones, national sales manager at Eurocamp, advises, "Where possible, opt for ferry travel as a cost-effective way to reach your holiday destination. Midweek Dover-Calais ferry crossings can be included in a Eurocamp holiday package at a cost of just £55 per family (based on a mid-week Dover-to-Calais crossing with P&O Ferries for one car and up to nine passengers).

What sort of deals can you get last-minute?

"The days of hundreds and thousands of last-minute bargains are over as tour operators are now much better at assessing the number of holidays they are likely to sell and pre-book rooms and flights accordingly," says Sean Tipton of the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta).

But if you're flexible with your holiday plans and can travel when demand is low, then a last-minute deal can be a good option. For example, seven nights' all-inclusive at the Vergina Sharm, Sharm El Sheikh costs £193 per person, flying from Luton on 3 February through the Holiday Discount Centre.

Michael Edwards, regional director of Intrepid Travel, says small group tours are often discounted within eight weeks of departure. "The reason is that small group tours typically have just 10-12 passengers, so they need to fill as many places as possible to cover fixed costs, such as transport and the tour leader." Intrepid currently has a range of tours on sale with a 25% discount.

Should you book a Christmas/New Year's Eve/Valentines cottage a year in advance, or wait for a last-minute deal?

Again, book as early as possible, especially if you want a larger cottage in a particular location. Late-availabilty cottages tend to be for smaller groups. See the Guardian Travel's guide to cottage companies.

Is there a cheapest day of the week to fly?

The industry tends to say that Tuesday is the cheapest day to fly because it's not a big day for business travel, but Maire Bonheim, publisher of Travelzoo, says typically the cheapest flights are Tuesday through to Thursday. Andy Washington, managing director of, advises people to "fly early - early morning flights are often cheaper and there are fewer chances of delays."

When is the best time to book a ski holiday?

Every skier and snowboarder wants to be near the slopes and lifts, so your ideal hotel, chalet or apartment will be snapped up fast. Research by Crystal Ski shows that over 70% of families book at least six months before travel. If you've set your heart on a particular resort and accommodation or are locked into dates book as early as possible," says Crystal Ski's product director Ian Davis.

"For the low-season dates [ie outside of New Year, February half-term and Easter], the closer you book, the better the deal - but only if you don't mind which resort, accommodation or when you travel - and don't be surprised if there's nothing suitable available," adds Davis.

If it's a transatlantic trip, for example to Whistler or Banff in Canada, then the early bird always gets the worm, says Craig Burton, managing director of Ski Solutions. "Hotel, flights and lift passes will all be at their cheapest if you book before 31 August for the season ahead."

While February half-term 2014 is almost fully booked, there is still good availability for Easter 2014 because it falls at the end of April, according to Burton, although he advises booking a higher altitude resort, or north America so late in the season.

He adds, "The dates for 2014 New Year's Eve ski packages fall at a good time, with most departures this year on Saturday 27 or Sunday 28 December, perfect for those wanting to have Christmas at home before escaping after Boxing Day. New Year 2013 was almost fully booked by October, and we expect even more demand next year."

When is the cheapest time of the year to book and travel...

Winter sun: " January is a good time to pick up a bargain - there are currently some great winter-sun deals to the Canaries, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco," advises Steve Campion, managing director of the Holiday Discount Centre. "But the best time to get a cheap winter break is to travel at the end of November or early December, before the busy Christmas and new year rush."

Summer sun: The earlier the better is the mantra, especially if you want to guarantee a particular area or specific accommodation. Chris Wright, managing director of Sunvil, says: "For destinations that are popular - Greece, for example, is set to be very popular again in 2014 - then booking early is a must. Putting something together yourself at the last minute is tricky, as the low-cost carriers' flights will generally be expensive and rarely discounted. If you don't care where you go or where you want to stay, then for the cheapest holiday book the day before you travel."

Australia and New Zealand: The Antipodes are always popular over Christmas. It's cheaper to travel before 9 December or thereabouts, advises Maire Bonheim from Travelzoo. But the cheapest fares are often snapped up as soon as they are released (10 to 11 months in advance - click here for our guide to when seats are released for sale). The lowest fares to these destinations are in their winter (May/June).

The Caribbean: The best time to travel for the cheapest deals is between May and September. Edward Light of Caribtours says, "This is when the hotels have the best special offers, and airfares are at their cheapest. Generally speaking, the weather at this time is good - yes, the odd tropical shower but hot, sunny and certainly better than the UK."

Light reiterates the need to book as early as possible: "If you know your dates and can commit in advance, book as soon as the flights go on sale. There may be occasional sales, but usually this is as cheap as the flights are going to get."

US: January and February are considered the peak season for booking long-haul flights as most airlines launch special offers. The off-season months, normally September to March (avoiding festive period), are when prices to the USA are the most keen, according to Karen Niven of Bon Voyage. "It's best to book for this period as early on in the year as possible (January-February), as the major airlines release their special offer fares then. Unlike European holidays, American holidays are not normally reduced in price for last-minute bookings, as the lower airfares have already been gobbled up at the beginning of the year. The nearer the departure date, the higher the airfare," says Niven.

If it's a city break, you will nearly always be better off booking a package rather than going independently. For example, Trailfinders is currently offering Virgin Atlantic flight-only return to Boston for £441, but the same flights plus seven days' car hire costs costs £485.

Asia: "In most tropical areas, the months of May, June and October tend to be the best value as this is generally when the lowest air fares/hotel rates and promotional offers - such as free nights - all kick in together," says David Kevan of Chic Locations.

Once you move into July to mid-August, the air fares zoom up, as tourists and overseas students from Asia all want to travel then. "As a guide, the difference between travelling on 30 June and 1 July, for example, would be at least £250 per person," says Kevan.

"Most of the Far East resorts tend to have a flat rate from May to October, however there are some notable exceptions such as Bali, Koh Samui, east-coast Malaysia - all places where the weather is particularly good in mid-summer and their hotels tend to apply a supplement from July to mid-September."

Self-catering: "The majority of family bookings are made in January, according to, so it makes sense to book as early as possible. "We do get new properties on our books so a late deal can arise, but it's best to book early to avoid disappointment. It tends to be just small cottages left last minute," says Emma Seymour-Sloan, marketing manager of

City breaks: "For European city breaks, you'll probably get the best prices from now until the end of March," says Maire Bonheim of Travelzoo. From then onwards prices tend to go up because the weather starts to improve. August and the second half of December, when business travel drops off, are also good times for city break deals in the UK and continental Europe.

Can you ever haggle with a tour operator or travel agent?

You're unlikely to be able to haggle with a tour operator, but if you join a loyalty scheme, you'll be the first to hear about offers. "Sign up for e-newsletters with your preferred airlines, hotels or travel portal, as they'll often alert you to offers and sales before general release as well as flag their best offers, so cutting down on your browsing time," says Steve Campion, managing director of the Holiday Discount Centre.

Monday, January 20, 2014

V2 Cigs Offers 10% Discount on Disposables and Accessories

Miami, FL -- ( SBWIRE) -- 01/20/2014 -- V2 Cigs, the world's highest-volume online retailer of electronic cigarettes, offers a 10% Promo Code on all V2 Disposables and V2 Accessories. This sale lasts for two days only, Monday, January 20th and Tuesday, January 21st.

"Our accessories and disposables are popular with our loyal customers," says V2 Cigs Co-Founder and CEO J. Andries Verleur. "This sale is perfect for those who want to add to their collection of accessories or stock up on single-use e-cigs to share with family and friends."

This two-day sale offers shoppers a chance to save 10% on the V2 Portable Charging Case XL. This popular accessory can fully charge a V2 Standard Battery up to eight times while away from a power source. With featured indicator lights, the V2 Portable Charging Case XL accurately tells how much charge is available in both the case and the battery inside. Able to connect with any USB port and compatible with the V2 Car Adapter and the V2 Wall Adapter, this convenient charging case is a favorite of V2 fans on the go. With enough space to store any length of V2 Battery, plus an extra V2 Battery or three V2 Flavor Cartridges, the V2 Portable Charging Case XL offers style and function for any modern traveler.

Customers can choose from three state-of-the art colors: Graphite, Stainless Steel and Glossy White.

Customers who love the instant gratification of V2 Disposables find big savings through this offer. V2 Disposables are available in V2 Red (American Tobacco flavor) and V2 Menthol (Refreshing Mint) and come in 1.8% nicotine strength. The V2 Disposable is more lightweight and longer lasting than anything offered by the competition. Designed with a soft tip, these single-use e-cigs have an attractive look and feel.

Shoppers taking advantage of this promotion can receive a V2 Cigs Disposables 400P 10-pack for less than $50.

V2 Cigs offers free, flat-rate shipping. All discounts are applied at checkout.

About V2 Cigs
V2 Cigs is America's No. 1 online retailer of electronic cigarettes. The company's flagship website, is currently ranked in the top 1,500 websites in the nation, and receives more than six million monthly unique visitors, as tracked by online web-metrics provider V2 Cigs has distinguished itself as a leader in the industry for its ever-expanding product lines, powerful vapor production and great taste. V2 Cigs provides a smokeless alternative to conventional cigarettes at a fraction of the cost. For more information, please visit

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Medical marijuana in Oregon: Post-prohibition liquor store in Portland now will deal in a new product

Eighty years ago, a modest storefront on Northeast Sandy Boulevard opened to little fanfare. Given a bureaucratic name that offered no hint of what was sold inside, Store No. 2 was one of four places in Oregon where residents could legally buy a bottle of booze after more than a decade of Prohibition.

When Store No. 2's doors opened in the winter of 1934, it signaled the end of speakeasies and bootleg liquor.

Now, history is repeating itself at the vintage storefront. The space is set to open Tuesday as Pure Green, a medical marijuana facility.

Matthew and Meghan Walstatter, Pure Green's owners, are among the growing ranks of Oregon marijuana entrepreneurs moving the market for the drug into the mainstream. Longtime cannabis consumers and growers, the Walstatters saw last year's passage of House Bill 3460, the state's dispensary law, as a chance to enter the lucrative marijuana business.

"This is the time to be doing this," said Meghan Walstatter, sitting in the cornflower blue lobby of the former liquor store.

The Walstatters, who grew up in Connecticut and have a 4-year-old son, have grown their own marijuana since 2005. Matthew Walstatter, 39, said he's smoked cannabis since he was a teen and today relies on the drug to cope with chronic nausea and other symptoms from a gastrointestinal disorder. Meghan Walstatter, 37, described herself as an occasional marijuana consumer who uses the drug for a range of health concerns.

"We came out of this community as opposed to people who just see a chance to make a buck," Matthew Walstatter said.

The couple fits the profile of the typical marijuana business owner in Oregon, said Alex Rogers, who owns Ashland, Medford and Eugene clinics where patients can get doctor referrals for medical marijuana. Rogers said entrepreneurs in Oregon's nascent cannabis industry generally have ties to the state's robust medical marijuana community.

"We do not see the corporatization of cannabis in Oregon yet," said Rogers, who's organized an upcoming series of conferences for marijuana entrepreneurs in Oregon

The success of businesses like Pure Green, he said, depends on the owners' expertise in marijuana and their knowledge of the latest consumer and medical trends when it comes to the drug.

"You need to know what you're talking about and be up to date with cannabis medicine," he said.

The Walstatters plans to supply some of the marijuana sold at the shop. They'll rely on other Oregon medical marijuana growers to flesh out their offerings.

Matthew Walstatter said he hopes to offer about 20 strains at any time, as well as marijuana-infused candies, soda and ice cream, and marijuana concentrates, like hash oil, which is made by extracting tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, from the the cannabis plant.

"Basically," Walstatter said, "the idea is to create a clean, friendly professional environment where patients can come and get medicine, vaporizers and glass and get educated. We want to distinguish ourselves."

Though Oregon was among the first states to allow marijuana for medicinal use, the state hasn't permitted retail sales of the drug. An industry of medical marijuana retailers has cropped up in recent years, but those establishments have been unregulated and, in some places, shut down by local police. Beginning March 3, the Oregon Health Authority, which oversees the state's medical marijuana program, will open a registry of retailers who for the first time will be permitted to sell cannabis to medical marijuana cardholders.

The Walstatters' story highlights some of the challenges facing marijuana entrepreneurs. The federal prohibition on marijuana means banks are reluctant to do business with entrepreneurs like the Walstatters, who have to Promo Code mostly in cash. (The couple plans to install an ATM so customers can get easy access to cash.)

Finding a willing landlord also proved difficult. Matthew Walstatter figures he called hundreds of commercial property owners, real estate agents and property managers before settling on a space formerly occupied the one-time Store No. 2, which went on to become Hollywood Liquors.

And if prospective landlords worried about landing in the federal government's crosshairs - pot remains illegal under federal law, after all - Walstatter filled them in on the August 2013 memo from the U.S. Department of Justice, announcing the feds would take a largely hands-off approach to legal marijuana sales in Washington and Colorado.

A Lewis & Clark Law School grad, but not a practicing attorney, Walstatter said he and his wife, an urban planner by training, were determined to leave a good impression.

"We took great efforts to not come across as a head shop," said Walstatter, as a commercial refrigerator was rolled into the shop. "We wanted to come across as professional as possible."

The couple knows they're taking a risk by opening their doors before the state registry opens. But the shops' hazy legal status has done little to slow the proliferation of dispensaries - with their telltale green crosses -- especially in Portland, where law enforcement has generally greeted the establishments with a yawn.

Matthew Walstatter, who's got a marijuana business lawyer on retainer and has pored over 30 pages of rules for medical marijuana retailers, is certain the couple's business will meet all of the state's rules prior to opening. They figure they'll spend about $25,000 to meet the state's security requirements alone.

Those rules, for instance, call for cameras positioned at entry points to the building, in the room where marijuana is stored and in the area where transactions take place; the Walstatters said they plan to go even further.

"We're going to have the entire place on camera," he said.

Today, the storefront at 3738 N.E. Sandy Boulevard offers no trace of its role in Oregon's Prohibition history.

The shop's grand opening in February 1934 - along with that of three other state-licensed liquor stores - was reported on the front page of The Morning Oregonian. The headline: "Cash line forms in liquor stores." Receipts at Store No. 2 totaled $142.50.

Oregonians needed a permit to buy booze; they cost $1 for the year.

"The stores opened - inauspiciously at 11 a.m. with no hurrah and bottle purchasers did not open their purses with any measure of import until evening approached," the newspaper reported. "Permit sales marked the opening hours of the infant industry."

"This is a pretty amazing historical parallel," he said. "If you're the kind of person who believes in synchronicity rather than coincidence, it seems to tell us we were headed in the right direction."

Added Walstatter: "We thought it was a good sign."

Oregonian news researcher Lynne Palombo contributed to this report.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Broken Age Act One review: Kickstarter's darling is a charming, shallow half-game

<Promo Codesp>After all this time, it's finally here-the game that kickstarted Kickstarter, that brought crowdfunding to the mainstream. Once known only as Double Fine Adventure, then renamed Broken Age, it was a golden promise: point-and-click adventure legend Tim Schafer was going to take the gloves off the wall for one more fight, returning to the genre that made him famous with games like Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle.

Well, he did take the gloves off, and Double Fine did make a game, but whether or not you'll enjoy it I think largely depends on why you play(ed) old-school point-and-click adventures.

In other words, when you asked the Tim Schafer to make another adventure game, why? Was it because you love Schafer's worlds? Or was it because you loved 1990s LucasArts adventure games?

Classic charm

Broken Age tells two stories that you can theoretically swap between at will, though I never had reason to. Instead I played one story to completion, then played the other.

There's Vella, who lives in the bakery-themed town of Sugar Bunting-a town set on sacrificing her to the evil monster Mog Chothra. Vella's grandfather remembers a time when Sugar Bunting was called Steel Bunting, though-when they were the most feared town in the land. While everyone else prepares to send Vella to her death, he reminds her of a time when Steel Bunting fought the Mogs and implores her to do the same.

And then there's Shay, whose existence is as safe and quiet as Vella's is imperiled. Shay is trapped in a spaceship built for babies. He goes on missions with all the danger of a Legends of the Hidden Temple episode, yearning for a bit of adventure but "imprisoned" by Mom, a well-meaning artificial intelligence whose sole purpose is to keep him safe. After all, he's the last hope for his dying planet.

While I don't think Broken Age as memorable as Grim Fandango or Psychonauts, it's clearly a Tim Schafer/Double Fine production. World-building is what they do best. Every single frame is gorgeous, and the game resembles an interactive children's book more than anything else.

Vella's half of the story is particularly interesting from an art standpoint, since her quest against Mog Chothra leads her through multiple distinct (fascinating) regions. You typically spend about half an hour-at most, forty-five minutes-in each area, so there was plenty of room for Broken Age to stretch its legs and show off.

Shay's half is more restrained. You're on the ship. Then you're on the ship. Then you float through space a bit, but you're still basically on the ship. Then you're-surprise!-on the ship.

And you know what? Despite the limitations, it's a great ship to explore. There are a lot of clever sci-fi references sprinkled throughout (Soylent Dreams cereal, anyone?) and the core "child's plaything" conceit makes for clever design. Your ship travels through space courtesy of a grizzled old robot named Space Weaver, who literally knits patterns into the ship's navigation and quickly became my favorite character.

But it says something about Broken Age when the environments in Vella's story take at most thirty to forty-five minutes apiece, and when Space Weaver-a character with one purpose and few lines-is my favorite character in the game.

Broken Age is missing one key aspect: depth. And it's missing it in so many places.

There's a sparseness to Broken Age. The game is beautiful, but it's a passive beauty. Frames are crammed with visual detail, but 95% of it is static background. A frame with five objects to interact with-even if "interact" just means "Shay or Vella provides commentary"-is a crowded frame in Broken Age. Too many areas have a single object.

And it's not just environments. Broken Age has tons of potential which it rarely capitalizes on. Characters are disposable, given one purpose and then cast aside. I mean, Jack Black voices a soft-spoken cult leader who licks feathers and loves yogurt, and he does a fantastic job...for the maybe fifteen or twenty lines he's given. Then he's gone.

It's lucky the game looks so great on the surface, because so far "surface" ismost of the game.

Which brings me to the last point I'm going to make about narrative-splitting your narrative when it wasn't originally intended to be split is awful. I understand the reasons: Double Fine ran out of money, whether you like that reason or not, and needed to fund Act Two of the game off the first half's profits. But episodic stories only work when they're planned that way from the start. Just splitting a singular story in half? Not so much.

It's all about structure. Episodes work because they form a larger arc in the long run, but each singular episode contains a beginning, middle, and end.

Broken Age halfheartedly tries to fit a beginning, middle, and end into its story, but it doesn't quite make it. The beginning drags on, and the "end" (such as it is) feels rushed. Which is a shame, since the end is the most fascinating part of the story so far.

Shay's story is particularly egregious-his entire half feels like set-up to a larger tale that's then cut short right before it begins. Vella at least gets a halfway decent arc before it's over.


And then we come to the puzzles-the other half of the adventure genre, and the part that's harder to get right.

Broken Age is easy. I say this as someone who is typically terrible at adventure games. I got stuck daily during The Longest Journey, and Secret of Monkey Island? Forget it, I got stuck on the first real puzzle.

Now, the act of "getting stuck" is subjective. The places where I'm going to get stuck are different than the places you'll get stuck, because you're not going to make the same connections I do.

But wow. Let me say it again: Broken Age is so easy. I got stuck once, and it was nothing a night away from the computer couldn't solve. I've seen people posting consistent numbers for how long this first half took them to beat, so I know it's not just me-four hours is the norm, with three for those who ran through the game and never bothered to interact with the (sparse) scenery or skipped over the voice acting because they read subtitles faster.

On the one hand, simplicity is good. One of the reasons point-and-click adventure games "died" to begin with was the absurd, opaque logic behind most of the puzzles. "How would I ever figure that out?" was a common refrain with those 90s LucasArts games.

There's a balance, though, and Broken Age feels a bit too much like Shay's "Baby's First Spaceship!" setting. Broken Age wants you to solve puzzles, but the solutions are often so glaringly obvious that there's no satisfaction when you've moved on-no "a-ha!" moment.

Once you remove the difficulty, adventure games play like one long, interactive film with a few dialogue choices. This can also make for a good game (see TellTale's output recently) but Broken Age's dialogue isn't a game in and of itself-it's simple dialogue trees, straight out of those classic adventure games. You go through each option one at a time, people say things, you listen. You're not making moral choices here, nor would I expect Broken Age to be that kind of game.

The dialogue is smart and snappy, but more would be nice.

But what is offered...if you're coming to Broken Age because you want a challenging, wacky adventure game in the vein of Day of the Tentacle, you're going to be disappointed.

Personally, the story on offer was enough to keep me engaged even as I churned through the puzzles, but if you're coming to Tim Schafer's table hoping for a classic LucasArts adventure...well, just don't. Don't come to the game expecting that.

Bottom line

Broken Age gets a lot right-certainly enough that I'd call this Kickstarter story a success-but it's a shallow victory. "More" is the key word, here. I want more depth to the characters, more dialogue for incidental characters, more difficulty for puzzles, more objects to interact with.

Oh, and more story, obviously. After all, half a story is half a story, no matter how beautiful the art.

Broken Age is still full of potential. There's room for the second half (whenever it releases) to plumb the depths of both settings, giving us more characterization for both Shay and Vella and wrapping it all up in a shiny emotional bow. Perhaps that's not feasible on the project's shoestring budget, but I'll hope for the best.

Note: At PCWorld we don't score episodic releases on a per-episode basis. Broken Age will receive a rating after Act Two is released.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Slideshow: New Airbus price changes comparison with Boeing

Fresh off a record year, Airbus this week announced new prices on its line of passenger jets, raising them by an average of 2.6 percent based on its standard escalation formula.

Airbus' prices were already higher than rival Boeing's on most comparable aircraft, a gap that now widens from where it was when Boeing raised its prices in August 2013.

Airbus COO of Customers John Leahy said in a press release that the new pricing "reaffirms the unbeatable value of Airbus' modern, fuel-efficient aircraft family."

Fuel is an airline's biggest expenditure, so the operating cost over time has to be factored into what they are willing to pay for an aircraft.

We'll leave fuel-efficiency claims for another day and for now focus on just the listed Best Deals of comparable aircraft.

Boeing, it should be noted, also had a record year in 2013 in terms of both deliveries and total backlog.

It bested Airbus on deliveries - 648 to 626 - while Airbus held the edge in backlog with 5,559 unfilled orders to Boeing's 5,080.

Airbus also came out ahead in terms of net orders, 1,503 to 1,355.

Those numbers all show increasing demand for both company's passenger jets, many of which carry Wichita-built or designed components.

So, click through the adjoining slideshow to see how some of Boeing's average prices compare to the new prices from Airbus. Seating capacity can vary depending on the layout of the aircraft. Where available, this comparison lists capacity in a typical two-class layout.

Both companies list their average prices on their websites, though customers typically buy aircraft from both at discounted prices.

You can also take a look back here to see what those Airbus prices were before.

Daniel McCoy covers aviation, manufacturing and automotive.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Deal With Your Leadership Crisis Now, Bayelsa PDP Tells APC

<On Salesa href="">The leadership of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State has called on the National leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party to urgently wade in to calm frayed nerves before it degenerates further to disrupt the existing peace and progress in the State.

The PDP, whose call came through a statement signed by its Chairman, Col. Sam Inokoba (Rtd), noted with serious concern the rising tension among the three factions of the APC in the State led by former Action Congress of Nigeria leader, Ebikibina Miriki, Richard Kpodo and Tiwei Orunimighe, all claiming leadership of the party in Bayelsa State.

While commending the State Government's recent statement on its commitment to the protection of lives and property of all law abiding citizens and residents, including the APC and any other legitimately registered political party, the PDP said it was lending its voice to that of the State Government to urge the APC National leadership to, as a matter of urgency, resolve the brewing imbroglio and announce its authentic leader in the State, stressing that, "the State cannot afford to be thrown into undue chaos and crisis as a result of APC's failure to put its house in order".

Col. Inokoba also reminded the leadership of the APC at the National level that two of its factional leaders were on the Police wanted list for various offences and both men had since been on the run.

"We are therefore calling on the national leadership of the APC to be mindful of the type of characters they may be considering as party leaders in the State, since it has been duly established that they (Richard Kpodo and Tiwei Orunimighe) are on the wanted list of the police.

"Similarly, we call on the national leadership of the APC to hid the advice of the State Government on the use of Kpodo's personal house as the party's office in the State, knowing full well that the same building along with several others in the Etegwe/Edepie area of Yenagoa, have been earmarked for demolition over six months ago by the State Government in order to make way for the second flyover bridge," the statement read.

Col. Inokoba explained that the clarifications over the building had become necessary, to ensure that the PDP in the State or the PDP-led Government would not be accused of suppressing and intimidating the opposition.

"The house will sooner or later be demolished and the the wanted men are bound to be apprehended by the police the moment they show up in the State as they plan to do in their bid to formally launch the party in the State.

"You can be rest assured that once this happens, the PDP will be accused of being behind the demolition and also fingered as the mastermind of the plot for their arrest, forgetting that, they had long been declared wanted by security agencies in the State," he said.

The PDP Chairman further said that the government was demolishing a number of houses, not for any other reason, but to construct projects that would make life more meaningful for the people of Bayelsa and add beauty to the State capital, Yenagoa.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Coupon Corner: Some may have fallen on savvy-shopping wagon

There are a few steps you can take to get back to shopping smart:

* Go into your pantry and take stock. What's almost gone? These are the items you want to find a deal on now to avoid paying full price for them on your next trip to the store. You might not find a spectacular deal, but aim for saving at least 50 percent. Use an online-On Sales database to search for any coupons for them.

* Look at what caused you to fall off the wagon. Were you burnt out? Had you been spending two hours a day looking at coupons? Or were you just not seeing the savings you wanted? Find out what caused you to stop couponing. If you were spending too much time, set a time limit on your couponing. Set aside an hour a week to look at the sales and prepare your trips. If you were burnt out, it's often because you take on too many stores. Chose just one grocery store and one drug store and focus on finding their deals. Whatever the reason, pinpointing it can reduce the chances of going back to paying full price.

* Get motivated by finding an item that is free this week and get it. Walking out of the store with a new free item may give you the boost you need to remind you of how far you can reduce your spending - and get you in the savvy-shopping mood again.

Your stockpile didn't dwindle over night, and it won't be replenished overnight. But taking a few steps now can renew your desire to spend less on the items that you need and want.

Jessie Alonzo runs For information on saving money visit the site, or

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

5 Cheap Tech Stocks to Buy Now

Jeff Reeves, Editor of

Tech stocks are undoubtedly at risk of overheating after a great run in 2013. But finding cheap stocks to Amazon Deal in the technology sector isn't impossible ... if you know where to look.

Sure, social media is full of froth, with LinkedIn ( LNKD) sporting a forward P/E of almost 100 and recent IPO Twitter ( TWTR) racing up over the holidays. Finding cheap stocks to buy in this corner of the tech sector seems nigh impossible.

Elsewhere among tech stocks, you've got once-battered players like chipmaker Micron ( MU) that have soared by triple digits in short order on turnaround hopes. No luck there, either.

But there are thousands of tech stocks of numerous flavors, and not all picks have run up to extreme valuations just yet.

If you are looking for cheap tech stocks to buy, you have to look at unsung companies that have been overlooked by the rest of Wall Street. And it also helps if you have the patience for dividends and long-term growth instead of the desire to snag a short-term momentum trade in a fashionable name.

Consider these five cheap tech stocks as bargain buys for the New Year:

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media,

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