Scientists Have Just Beaten Down the Best Climate Denial Argument

Even the best contrarian arguments against climate change have not withstood scientific scrutiny.

Climate deniers have come up with a lot of arguments about why we shouldn’t worry about global warming—about 200 of them—but most are quite poor, contradictory and easily debunked by consulting the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The cleverest climate contrarians settle on the least implausible argument—that equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS, how much a doubling of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will increase Earth’s surface temperature) is low, meaning that the planet will warm relatively slowly in response to human carbon pollution.

But they have to explain how that can be the case, because there are a lot of factors that amplify global warming. For example, a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, which is itself a greenhouse gas, adding further warming. Warming also melts ice, leaving Earth’s surface less reflective, absorbing more sunlight. There are a number of these amplifying ‘feedbacks,’ but few that would act to significantly slow global warming.

Clouds are one possible exception because they both act to amplify global warming (being made of water vapor) and dampen it (being white and reflective). Which effect wins out depends on the type of cloud, and so whether clouds act to accelerate or slow global warming depends on exactly how the formation of different types of clouds changes in a hotter world. That’s hard to predict, so many contrarians have wishfully argued that clouds will essentially act as a thermostat to control global warming.

Research suggests if anything, clouds amplify global warming

A new study published in Nature by Stanford scientists Patrick Brown and Ken Caldeira found that so far, the global climate models that best simulate the Earth’s global energy imbalance tend to predict the most future global warming. These results suggest the ECS is around 3.7°C. This is higher than the previous best estimate of 3.1°C, and if correct, would shrink our carbon budget by about 15 percent.

The study found that the biggest contributor to the difference between the accurate and inaccurate models was in how well they simulated cloud changes. And while it’s just one study, several prior papers arrived at similar conclusions.

For example, a 2010 study published in the Journal of Climate found that climate models that most accurately simulate recent cloud cover changes in the east Pacific point to an amplifying effect on global warming and thus a more sensitive climate. Another 2010 study by Andrew Dessler using satellite observations showed that in the short-term, clouds likely amplify global warming, though the long-term effect may be different.

In 2012, a paper published in Science by John Fasullo and Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research found that similar to the new Nature study, climate models that most accurately simulated observed cloud changes are also the ones that are most sensitive to the increased greenhouse effect. 

Similarly, a 2014 paper published in Nature found that the least sensitive climate models incorrectly simulate water vapor being drawn up into the atmosphere to form clouds in a warmer world. In reality, as lead author Steve Sherwood explains in the video below, scientists observe water vapor being pulled away from those higher cloud-forming levels of the atmosphere.

Contrarian arguments have not withstood scientific scrutiny

Former MIT scientist Richard Lindzen (one of the most often cited, and most often wrong contrarian climate scientists) was among the first to argue that clouds act as a climate thermostat. He developed a hypothesis in 2001 that as the atmosphere warms, the area covered by cirrus clouds will contract like the iris of an eye to allow more heat to escape into space, thus slowing global warming. His ‘iris hypothesis’ was quickly disproved by subsequent research, but that hasn’t stopped climate contrarians from continuing to make the argument.

More recently, other contrarian scientists have used a combination of climate models and recent observational data to similarly argue that Earth’s climate is relatively insensitive to the increased greenhouse effect (they call these “observational estimates” of ECS). This group often likes to refer to themselves as ‘lukewarmers,’ but really they just cherry pick this one way to estimate ECS because it seemed to yield a relatively low result, while ignoring the other methods that point toward a significantly more sensitive climate.

Over the past two years, climate scientists have identified several flaws in the method that yielded lower estimates of ECS. At this year’s American Geophysical Union conference – the largest gathering of climate and Earth scientists every December – there was a session devoted to this very topic. As one of the presenting climate scientists Andrew Dessler put it:

There’s still significant uncertainty about how clouds will respond to global warming, but the evidence points to an amplifying effect, or at least not a significant dampening. The new Nature study adds to the mountain of evidence ruling out the contrarian argument for an insensitive climate. Clouds aren’t going to save us; only rapid cuts in carbon pollution can do that.

 

Related Stories

  • Wall of Shame: Top 10 Climate Deniers in the Trump Administration
  • How the Right-Wing Media Totally Distorted Positive News on Climate Change
  • How Pollution and Climate Change Hurt Children Most of All

PPC – SomeOne SpenDing – SomeOne EarNing

We have the Internet that provides a huge platform for advertising products and services online. Advertisers around the world have shown a keen interest in making good use of the Internet that is omnipresent these days.

Contrary to the traditional advertising model, the recent methods of internet marketing involve innovative techniques to catch more eyeballs and pull online traffic to visit, listen, view, or buy a product or a service that is on offer. It is done through a model that is now being widely regarded as Pay Per Click (PPC). It is a successful model for internet advertising that directs online traffic to particular websites, where the advertisers pay the publishers a certain amount when their ad is clicked.

Pay-per-click (PPC), also known as cost per click (CPC), is an internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites, in which an advertiser pays a publisher (typically a website owner or a network of websites) when the ad is clicked.

Entities Involved in PPC Advertising:

  • Product or Service Seller
  • PPC Advertiser
  • Landing Page Provider
  • Landing Page
  • Viewer or the Visitor

Take a close look at the illustrations below that depict the general roles of the entities involved in PPC advertising:

A product/service seller contacts advertisers for PPC based Ad programs.

PPC Advertiser creates Ads and provides landing pages for Ads.

Users click the Ads and visit the landing pages.

PPC – Bird’s eye view

Lets take a look at Terminology related to PPC:

Ad group
It is a collection of relevant keywords under one name. Maximum 20,000 keywords can be added into an Ad Group.

Ad Network
An Ad Network is an online business that specializes in matching up of advertisers to the websites looking to host the ad. Ad networks work as brokers for both suppliers (sites with content that can host ads, and buyers (the advertisers).

Ad Position
Ad position is the order in which an ad is displayed on a webpage. For example, ad position “1” means the ad is displayed first on the webpage.

Ad Rank
It is a value used to determine the Ad Proposition.

Call-To-Action (CTA)
This is a marketing term used for the action you want the website visitor to take.

Campaign
It is a series of relevant ad groups.

Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
It is a metric showing how often a visitor clicks your ad after seeing it. It can be defined as the number of clicks per thousand impressions. CTR contributes to Ad Rank.

Conversion
Conversion is the action the user wants when he clicks on an ad. It occurs when a visitor takes action. For example, the user makes purchases, signs ups, submits enquiry forms, views a page, or downloads, depending on the program’s goals.

Conversion Rate
It is the measurement of the success of a paid campaign. It is measured by the number of potential visitors performing any of the desired actions such as buying a product, filling a form, etc.

For example, if there are 100 visitors to a particular webpage via a PPC ad, and six of those 100 visitors buy the product the website sells, then the conversion rate for that particular ad is six percent. The larger the conversion rate, the more successful the website is.

Cost Per Action or Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
It is the amount you pay for every lead, sign-up, or purchases.

Cost Per Click (CPC)
It implies the amount you pay for every single click on your ads.

Cost Per Mille (CPM)
It is the amount paid for every thousand views of the PPC ad.

Destination URL
It is where you want the user to land when he clicks on the ad.

Display URL
It is the name of a page of the website.

Geo-targeting
Delivery of ads to a particular geographic location of the users. It allows the advertisers to choose specific locations where they wish to show their ads.

Keyword
It is a search query made by a user. A word or a phrase of words entered in the search box by the user. The search engine matches your keywords and gives you relevant results on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).

Landing Page
It is any standalone webpage distinct from the main website on which the visitor lands.

Negative Keywords
They are the ones for which you do not want your ad to appear.

PPC Bid
It is the maximum amount of fees an advertiser is ready to pay for a click.

Prospect
Prospect is a potential user who can buy a product/service being advertised.

Quality Score
It is a dynamic metrics assigned to each of your keywords and ads. It determines the quality of your keyword, ad, and the landing page. High quality score boosts the ad rank.

Creating a Keyword List

Keywords are the primitive entities of PPC ads. Choosing a correct and relevant set of keywords can help design a crisp and persuasive ad to fulfill the sole purpose of increasing the number of clicks on the ad.

You can use the given target model for keyword research and building a keyword list. The basic steps of building a keyword list are

  • Create a basic list (Seed List) of usual business terms
  • Expand the list using keyword research tools
  • Refine the list of keywords

Creating a Seed List

A seed list is nothing but the initial set of keywords of the seller’s business. Write down the six keyword categories in columns. Use a combination of brainstorming and investigation for categorizing the keywords into these six groups by keeping the brand and the product terms at the center of attention.

You need to build this list thoroughly, keeping in mind all the features of the product or service the seller is providing. You need to ponder and create a list of words about what all problems this particular product or service can solve.

Expanding the List

Initially, you need to think of only a few dozens of keywords, then expand, and finally refine. While expanding, you can add new potential keywords in the existing list so that the list is always up-to-date. For this, you need to:

  • Review the seller’s website for new or upcoming products or services.
  • Understand how people talk about the product and its features.
  • Identify unique and well-performing keywords that need to be added in the list.
  • Use keywords research tools for various suggestions.

Refining the List

While expanding, you may have added non-value adding or non-interesting keywords. Now it is time to refine the keywords list by eliminating the less interesting keywords and keeping only the best ones. There is no hard and fast rule to do this. Refining the keywords list is vital, as you need to take care not introduce any negative effect on the present list.

Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research tools help you to expand the list of keywords in most relevance of the seller’s product or service. These tools suggest numerous variations of the words from which we can select the appropriate one.

These tools include:

  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner
  • Word Tracker
  • SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tools
  • Keyword Discovery
  • SpyFu

Writing a Killer PPC Ad

Refer the diagram shown below. To create an effective and compelling ad, the following methodology is helpful:

Elements of a PPC Ad

Refer the following image to understand the elements of a PPC ad.

Headline – This is the main title of the ad. It must be magnetic, crisp, and compact.

Display URL – This is the link of the relevant web page where the prospects will be taken onto. It is not required to be the exact landing page but it should be relevant. You can, for example, include your website with the top keyword in your Ad Campaign.

Description Line 1 and 2 – This is the body of the ad. It describes the product or the service the seller is offering.

Landing Pages

If you create a beautiful and catchy PPC ad with an effective Call-To-Action and do not link an appropriate landing page to it, then all your efforts go in vain.
Use of landing pages in the PPC ads helps to:

  • Increase conversion
  • Reduce Cost-Per-Click (CPC)
  • Reduce bounce rate

Elements of an Effective Landing Page:

  • Engaging and beautiful appearance.
  • Well-organized contents.
  • Tight coupling between advertise and page contents.
  • Simple, yet descriptive and informative.
  • Clear and discrete Call-To-Action and offers.
  • Capability of building trust about authenticity of a product or service the seller offers.
  • Capability of pursuing the visitors to take action.

PPC Bidding

Bidding is offering a competitive price that a bidder is ready to pay for a service. The term ‘bidding’ is always used in the context of auction. Bidding is very useful to set the value of an object, an art piece, a property, a commodity, etc. The amount itself is called as a bid.

In the context of internet marketing, the amount an online business organization allocates for PPC advertising is known as PPC bid. The bids specify the maximum amount that an organization is ready to pay each time a user clicks your ad. This is called the maximum Cost-Per-Click (max CPC).

Factors That Affect Bidding:

  • Advertising budget of the organization
  • The time the organization plans to use paid advertising.
  • Keyword popularity
  • Competition from other advertisers

What to Bid For?

With the help of bid management tools, you can bid for:

  • Conversion events such as video views, contact forms, store directions, the time of ad display, etc.
  • Keywords such as brand phrases, user phrases, direct response phrases, lead generation phrases, engaging phrases, etc.

Want to learn Digital Marketing?

Gardmore Abbey 5E rerun – Session 1

I ran the 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey back in 2013/2014 and consider it to be the best official 4E adventure. So now I am running it again in a 5E version with different players. I’m not going to write a blow-by-blow journal on this one, but I do want to write down an outline of what happened and my thoughts on it.

In the first session the players started in Winterhaven, where they learned that the card of the Deck of Many Things they had found was one of a set. Lord Padraig of Winterhaven has at least one other card, and is interested in the full deck in order to defend his town. So he told the group about Gardmore Abbey, where most of the cards apparently are scattered, and asks them at the same time to scout the layout and number of orcs there. The players manage to get more information about the abbey from the library of the mage Arris, from Lord Padraig’s counselor Valthrun, and from a bard singing ballads about the place in the inn. Lord Padraig also provided the group with a squire and horses for faster travel between Winterhaven and the abbey.

At the abbey I gave the players a picture of a front view of Gardmore Abbey. And after the scouted the outside of the abbey a bit more, I gave them my player map of Gardmore Abbey. Now the principle of the adventure and the map is that the players can approach the abbey from any side they want: Frontal assault on the main gate, climbing the wall to the north of the gate, going through a hole in the wall to the south of the gate, or try to get up the hill from the un-walled back side. From all the groups I’ve read on the internet having played the adventure none ever choose the frontal assault on the main gate. In reality the main gate isn’t all that heavily guarded, but a frontal assault on a large army of orcs just doesn’t appear to be a good idea.

So this group went through the hole in the south wall. From there they could go to the watchtower, or straight up the hill through a fey forest, or north along the wall back towards the orc main keep. They first tried the watchtower as a probably vantage point, where they saw some weird scenes from back in time through the windows. They decided not to pursue that further, still didn’t want to move towards the orcs, and thus went up the hill through the fey forest, in order to get a view from the top.

So they came across a magical fountain where a group of high elves was camped. The elves were mistrustful, but not hostile. Their leader Berrian Velfarren told the adventurers that he was here in search of traces of his father, who disappeared centuries ago. He also believed that there were documents somewhere giving the elves some claim on the fey forest. And his sister Analastra had gone missing. After receiving some visions from the magical spring, the group followed the path further up the hill. They came across the groundskeeper’s cottage, where they fought the owlbears now inhabiting it and found the documents the elves were looking for. Then the came to the garden behind the main keep, where another group of rival adventurers were fighting spiders. Trying to help them resulted in the rival adventurers disengaging and leaving the heroes with the spiders. But they did found a sword they had heard about in a ballad about a lost paladin.

Further up the path the group came across some nymphs playing a game of telling each other secrets, and learned some of the secrets of the abbey, including the fact that the missing father had last been seen in the watchtower. Then they came to a bell tower, where Analastra was fighting two displacer beasts and a nest of stirges. The highlight of that fight was the druid keeping Analastra alive with healing words, while using a Call Lightning spell to damage the displacer beasts and eliminating the nest of stirges. Having rescued the sister, the group returned to the elves to rest there.

As they had already finished two of the three quests of the elves, and Berrian had promised them his card of the Deck of Many Things for finishing all three, the group headed to the watchtower next. The elves had said that they couldn’t find an entrance to it. But after some experimentation it turned out that the group’s card opened the door. But stepping inside the group was trapped in some extra-dimensional space connected to the Far Realm, a plane of chaos. In the first room they fought a black pudding (who destroyed the druid’s armor) and two mimics, who had been disguised as cards forming a bridge. After that fight we stopped because it was getting late. But having finished encounters 13, 12, 9, 10, 11, and 14 of the adventure was good progress, 6 encounters out of 33.

On the combat side the encounters were tough, which was mostly because of two players missing from the group of five. Next session we should be up to 4 players, which will be easier. But I didn’t have to cheat or remove monsters, the adventure was still doable with just 3 players of level 5. They earned about 40% of the xp needed towards level 6, so I think that by the end of the adventure they will be at least level 7, if not 8. However I don’t really have a good follow-up adventure for level 8 characters in store, as all of the official 5E adventures start at low level. Except for the Rise of Tiamat, but that one is the second part of a story that starts with Hoard of the Dragon Queen.

Masters and Servants

If you watch a film or TV series like Downton Abbey, you can learn about how the class structure of society worked a century ago. Many of those concepts of hereditary masters and servants are now completely outdated. But while class borders have become a lot more flexible today, classes still do exist. In today’s economy there are still masters, who are the customers paying for a service, and servants, who then get money for providing those services. Of course the guy who is a servant all day, for example an Uber driver, can come home and become the master by ordering a pizza delivered. But the rich are more likely to receive services, and the poor are more likely to provide those services; we aren’t really much more equal than back in the days of Downton Abbey.

This class divide has also reached games. If you can afford to buy $60 games or spend money in Free2Play games, you get services provided to you. If you play those Free2Play games for free, you end up being the content for other players. It is as if you were paid for providing a service as opponent for another player, only that you don’t get paid in cash but in access to the game.

I don’t like being a servant to a game company. Game companies, like most other companies, treat their customers like royalty, and their employees like garbage. So I don’t want to work for the game company, be the content, provide a service as a cheap replacement of an artificial intelligence. In particular I hate games where even if you pay money, you never can escape from that role as servant, because you always are content for other players.

I just can’t play the new Magic Arena, because it only has a PvP mode. Not only don’t I like serving as content for other players. I also don’t like the content that other players provide to me: Playing against random humans means total unpredictability, you can end up against a complete pushover or the guy who spent hundreds of dollars and hours on the game and is a complete pro. On the one side I feel bad if I play against a human and have to quit early because real life intervenes (which makes the game rather unsuitable for mobile platforms), but on the other side I hate it when my opponent quits early. I much prefer playing against an AI, where there is no social contract, and my opponent plays in a more predictable manner. Previous electronic versions of Magic the Gathering have proven that an AI can be created that plays the game reasonably well. So making a version of Magic without AI to me feels like simple exploitation of players as content, and I’m not willing to be exploited like that.

What is Ethereum? — a short guide

What is Ethereum EthereumPrice

You may be asking yourself, “What is Ethereum?” Well, Vitalik Buterin, a Canadian programmer born in Russia, invented Ethereum in 2015 by. It’s a cryptocurrency much like Bitcoin that allows you to make payments online. It’s decentralized, offers low transaction fees, and runs on a publicly disclosed blockchain that records each transaction.

Read: What is a blockchain? – Gary Explains

Ethereum’s currency is called Ether and is currently the second largest in the world in market cap, behind Bitcoin. There are reportedly around two million wallets that hold it, up from 1.6 million in May — showing the growing popularity of Ether.

How is it different from Bitcoin? Bitcoin aims to become a globally adopted currency that could improve or even replace conventional money. Ethereum, on the other hand, is more than a cryptocurrency. It’s also a ledger technology used to build decentralized applications (dapps) with smart contracts.

What are smart contracts?

Wikimedia

Smart contracts are programs that automatically execute exactly as they are set up by their creators. Their purpose is to offer more security by removing the middlemen that we would otherwise have to use. Confused? Let’s take a look at a simple example.

Let’s say you want to ship a large gift to your friend and hire a trucker to do the job. For the trucker to know you’ll pay him, and for you to be sure the delivery will be made, you both sign an agreement for shared peace of mind. This takes time and can be expensive, as you need someone who will draw up the paperwork for you, and so forth.

This process can be simplified with a smart contract. You make the payment the day the package is picked up, and the smart contract will automatically transfer the money to the trucker as soon as your friend confirms the delivery has been made.

How is Ether created and where can I get it?

CoinSpectator

Like Bitcoins, Ethers are created through a process called mining. This requires expensive and specialized computers that have to perform complicated calculations. Mining is mainly done by large companies that are compensated for their work with newly minted Ethers.

Editor’s Pick

Unfortunately, you won’t make any money by mining with your personal PC, even if it’s a high-end model. So how can you get your hands on Ethers? You can earn them by providing goods and services to people who can pay you with the digital currency. The second option is to buy them from a marketplace like Coinbase with your credit card.

The Ethers you own are stored in a wallet secured with a private key. You can keep it in the cloud or offline, with the latter being a much safer option. The important thing is that you don’t lose the private key. If that happens, you won’t be able to access your money.

How much does it cost and what determines the price?

Crypto-News

Now that we have figured out the answer to the “What is Ethereum?” question, how much do Ethers really cost? Ethers were cheap when introduced back in 2015 — you could get one for less than a dollar. Their price has risen over the years and currently stands at around $430 each (exact value can be found in widget below). The sharp increase means Ethers can be a great investment, same as Bitcoins and many other cryptocurrencies. For example, if you bought $1,000 worth of Ethers in 2015 when they were worth $0.50 a piece, you would have $860,000 today.

Before you get too excited, keep in mind that investing in cryptocurrencies can be risky.

Before you get too excited, sell your house, and buy as many Ethers as you can get, let me remind you that investing in cryptocurrencies can be risky. Sure, a lot of them have increased in value in recent years, but that doesn’t mean this trend will continue. Cryptocurrencies are volatile, meaning their price can go up and down significantly in a single day. This makes them less stable than standard currencies like the dollar and euro.

How exactly do we determine their value? Like Bitcoins, gold, oranges, and every other item available on the market, supply and demand determine the price of Ethers.

The Merkle


Ethereum can be hard to understand at times. The same goes for Bitcoins and the rest of the cryptocurrencies available. But the fact is that they’re here to stay and might become a more important part of our daily lives in the future.

Many experts believe Ethereum has a lot of potential and could overtake Bitcoin as the largest cryptocurrency somewhere down the line. This is all speculation, though well within the realm of possibility. But like with stocks, gold, and other investments, no one can be 100 percent sure in which direction the price will move.

Hopefully we have given you an answer to the “What is Ethereum?” question. What are your thoughts on Ethereum and cryptocurrencies in general? Let us know in the comments.

Latest Razer Phone update delivers camera and audio improvements

We noted in our Razer Phone review that the photography performance was garbage. The 12 MP dual camera itself was adequate, but it was let down by poor processing, slow shutter speeds, and weak colors. Thankfully, Razer vowed to address some of these camera problems via software updates last month, and today we’ve come across one such OTA.

As reported by GSMArena, Razer is now rolling out a ~97 MB update which brings fixes several welcome improvements to the camera and audio technologies — check out the patch notes below.

Camera improvements:

  • Improved shutter speed in low light and when using HDR
  • Reduced noise and clearer shadows
  • Improved picture quality and better color cast
  • Crushed bugs and performance improvements

Audio improvements:

  • “Tweaked the knobs” for greater clarity during playback
  • Improved call quality for HD Audio
  • Fixed some issues with Dolby Audio

Meanwhile, Razer also lists a “smoothed out” auto-brightness luminosity, updated “Arrival theme icons to a dark style,” and other bug fixes in its list of optimizations. The handset remains on Android 7.1.1 Nougat for the time being, however, with the October security level.

These are much-needed improvements for the Razer Phone, and though we can’t yet attest to the effectiveness of this latest patch (we haven’t seen the update ourselves and it’s not clear which regions it’s currently rolling out in), we’ll be sure to investigate the situation once we do.

What are your thoughts on the Razer Phone? Is it worth the money? Let us know in the comments.

YouTube TV app for Apple TV and Roku to launch Q1 2018

  • The YouTube TV app will be launching on Apple TV and Roku in Q1 2018.
  • The app was originally supposed to be out by the end of the year.
  • Older Samsung and Sony smart TVs will also see the app early next year.

One of the limiting factors when choosing an over-the-top streaming service is the ability to stream the content to your TV. Most services allow some sort of casting from your phone or tablet, but that’s not a perfect solution. To do this, you’re relying on multiple pieces of hardware that could fail at any time. Additionally, some programming like the NFL don’t currently allow mobile streams of their content.

That’s why, when YouTube TV started to roll out its standalone app, I started doing a happy dance. I can now use the app on my smart TV or Xbox, and the experience is great. It saves me on Sundays and allows me to watch my beloved (but terrible) Bengals.

Editor’s Pick

Unfortunately for some users, they’re still lacking the app. Users with Apple TV and Roku devices were slated to get the app before the end of the year. Now, with only 12 days left in 2017, we’re getting word the apps are being pushed back to Q1 2018. In addition to Apple TV and Roku, the YouTube TV app will also come to older smart TVs in the first quarter. These TVs include some Samsung sets from 2013 and 2014. Older Sony TV’s that use a Linux-based OS instead of Android TV will get the app too.

Most of YouTube TV’s competitors like Sling, Hulu, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue are all on numerous platforms. YouTube TV lags a bit behind the others as they’re all on Apple TV and Roku already. Where you won’t see YouTube TV is on Amazon’s Fire TV or the PlayStation 4. Google and Amazon have had very public battles (although things do appear to be getting better) and Sony refuses to let other streaming services on its gaming system while its pushing PlayStation Vue.

Despite all of that, YouTube TV is one of the popular options for cord-cutters right now. The lineup of channels is fantastic, and at just $35 a month, it’s very affordable. The service initially rolled out to only a few cities in the US when it first launched, but that number has recently pushed past 80.

Elemental Evil: Session 11

In the previous session the group entered Rivergard Keep, the second of the elemental evil surface keeps. More by chance than by design they had managed to enter directly into the main building where the boss resided. However the boss was described in the adventure as being a wereboar who was out hunting at night. So the group ended up looting his room without having killed the boss. But that only got them treasure, and not the elemental key they were after.

Searching the building further resulted in them finding a group of commoners sleeping in a dormitory next to the kitchen. They carefully abducted one without waking up the others and questioned him. That gave them a bit more information about the keep and the boss, including the fact that he was out hunting and would return later in the night. But first they searched the great hall and found a letter in which somebody from Red Larch warned about a group of troublemakers, giving the description of the group. They also found a secret door, leading to a staircase downwards.

They followed the staircase and ended up at a landing of an underground river, complete with two rowboats. So they boarded those and followed the river further. However the river was guarded by a group of aquatic ghouls, who managed to topple one of the boats, which made the combat somewhat more interesting. Poppée the wild magic sorceress tried to save herself with magic, which resulted in a wild magic surge that ended up randomly summoning a unicorn. The unicorn was understandably confused by being summoned into water, and decided to “save” Poppée by teleporting her and itself out. But of course the others didn’t know what happened, only that Poppée had disappeared. After killing the ghouls it turned out that the way was blocked anyway, by the same sort of portal they had already encountered near Feathergale Spire, requiring the 4 elemental keys to open. (An addition of mine to the adventure to prevent them from randomly wandering into a dungeon of 4 levels higher than the surface keep).

The group went back up into the keep and in the courtyard also found back Poppée. However in preparation of the adventure I had decided to randomize the time of return of the keep boss by letting the group roll for an encounter every time they crossed the way the boss would take home. And by chance this encounter now took place. As the boss had an entourage the fight was challenging, with a priest of the water cult casting sleet storm on the group. The group managed to kill the opponents without waking the rest of the keep up, but the paladin got bitten by the wereboar.

As the boss had the elemental key on him, the group decided to flee and leave the rest of the water keep be. On the one hand that was understandable and consistent with their actions in the air keep. But technically they are skipping a bunch of combat encounters and thus xp. I think I need to make sure that they don’t kill the boss of the next keeps too early and rush through the adventure, the adventure isn’t designed for that.

Working with Adobe After Effects


About :

Adobe After Effects is a software program that allows its users to create animation and other special effects for graphic-related projects. Graphic designers use it to provide their projects with layer-based animation. After Effects is part of the Adobe family of software and is compatible with other Adobe software.

Index

1. Creating a New Composition and Importing Files

2. Building a Composition with Layers

3. Adding Animations, Effects, and Preset

4. Previewing and Rendering Your Composition 



1. Creating a New Composition and Importing Files



I. Make and set up a new composition. 

Projects in Adobe After Effects are called compositions, or comps. At the Welcome screen, locate and click on the “New Composition” button in the right column. If you already have the program open, you may either click on the “Composition” tab and select “New Composition” or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+N. Every time you create a new composition, a “Composition Settings” window will appear on your screen.

  1. Locate “Preset” and click on the drop-down menu. The menu is divided up into four sections, respectively: web settings, standard definition broadcast settings (NTSC and PAL), HD settings (the most commonly used), and film settings. Select the top HD preset: “HDV/HDTV 720 29.97.” This selection with automatically set the width, height, and frame rate.
  2. In the second row, locate “Start Timecode” and “Duration.” Leave the “Start Timecode” at 0. “Duration” refers to the total length of the project, from start to end. Set the “Duration” to the required length for your composition.
II. Save your composition. 

Before you begin to work on the composition, you should always name and save the project. Click on the “File” tab at the top of the screen. When you select “Save,” a “Save As” window will appear. 
At the top of the window, type in the name of your composition. Select a location to save this file to and click the “Save” button at the bottom of the screen. The saved composition will appear in the “Project” tab to the left of the screen.
While you may save this file in any location, it is recommended that you save your composition near your “Footage” file. This file is located within the “Exercise Files” folder.

III. Import files into Adobe After Effects. 

In order to create a composition, you need material to manipulate and animate. 
Select File>Import>File or double click on the “Project” tab. Select all of the files you wish to import and hit “Open.” The imported files will appear in the “Project” tab.
 Alternative methods include:

  • Double click anywhere on the “Project” tab.
  • Strike “Command + I.”
  • Drag images directly into the “Project” tab.



2. Building a Composition with Layers


I. Add files to your composition. 

A composition is a composite graphic, or a composite of layers. Each individual layer of your composition is made up of a file. All of the layers combined form a composite graphic. There are several ways to add a file to your composition.

You may drag and drop files from the “Project” tab into the “Timeline” tab (located at the bottom right of the window), the “Composition” window (located to the right of the “Project” tab), or the “Layer” tab (located directly below the “Project” tab.)

II. Organize and edit the layers. 



Once the files appear in the “Layer” tab, you may begin to manipulate the files. From this tab, you may alter the order of the files and edit the appearance of a file.
To adjust the hierarchy of the layers, drag a file up or down the list. The order of the files will alter the appearance of the composition (see the “Composition” window.) Files at the top of the layer list will appear over files at the bottom of the layer list.

To alter the appearance of a file, click on the sideways triangle next to the layer’s number. This will open up a “Transform” menu. From this menu, you may alter the following properties: anchor point, position, scale, rotation, and/or opacity.

III. Generate a timeline for your composite graphic. 



The “Timeline” function allows you to animate the graphic—it controls when each layer is or is not visible. The “Timeline” is located to the right of the “Layer” list. Each layer has it own life bar within the timeline, which you can trim, extend, or group with other layers as desired.

IV. Trim your layers.



Select a layer from the list. Move your cursor over the line dividing the list and the timeline so that a double arrow appears. Click and drag the double arrow across the timeline to produce a translucent grey box (this indicates that a clip is trimmed.) Stop once you reach the moment you would like the layer to appear.


The red line with the Blue tab indicates your current time known as play head. You can use this line to help you automatically trim layers. Select the layer you wish to trim. Drag the red line to your desired starting or ending point for the layer. Strike  ”
Command + [ ” to automatically trim a layer to the right of the red line, strike ” Command ] “.


V.Transform your 2D layers. 



When you work within the “Composition” window, you may manually position, or transform, the layers. Select a layer from the list. Move your cursor over the “Composition” window and zoom, or scroll, out. A set of handles will appear around the composition. This indicates the the layer may be transformed, or positioned.
  1. To shrink or expand the layer, click on the handle, press ⇧ Shift, and drag your cursor towards the inside or outside of the window.
  2. To rotate an element, press Ctrl+W. This will activate the rotation tool.
  3. To move a layer on a 2-D plane, click on the element you want to move and drag it to its new position.

VI. Create 3D layers. 




To create a 3D layer, return to the “Layer” tab. The column directly under this icon controls the 3D settings for each layer. To activate this feature, check the layer’s blank space in this column. Return to the “Composition” window—if you activated the 3D property, a Y, X, and Z handle will appear on the layer’s anchor.

VII. Transform your 3D layers. 




To move a 3D layer, press CTRL+W to activate the rotation tool. Hover your cursor over the X or the Y axis. Click on the axis and drag your cursor to the left and right or up and down. The Z axis should always remain at “0.”

VIII. Apply the parent function to your layers. 



The parent function allows you to tie your layers together. One layer, the parent, will drive the actions of another layer, the child. The child layer, can still move independently of the parent.

  • Select the child layer (the layer that you want to apply the keyframes to)—this layer will become the child.
  • Locate the “Parent” category in the layer tab.
  • In the “Parent” column for this layer, locate the curly-q shaped icon in the child’s row. Click on the icon and draw a black line from the icon to the “Layer Name” section of parent. Through this process, the child will become tied to the parent.


3. Adding Animations, Effects, and Presets

I. Set up keyframes. 


Keyframes mark exact points in time when changes are to occur to a layer’s properties. This function, which is represented by a little stopwatch, allows you to animate your composite graphics.

  1. Move your red “Current Time Indicator” line to the moment at which you would like to activate a keyframe.
  2. Select a layer from the “List” tab.
  3. Expand the layer’s “Transform” or “Contents” tab.
  4. Click on the stopwatch icon next to the property you wish to alter. This will record a keyframe at the current time indicator. A yellow dot or a greater than/less than symbols will appear on the timeline to mark the keyframe.
  5. To see your keyframes on the timeline, lasso the layers you wish to view and press “U.”
  6. To move a keyframe, select a keyframe symbol on the timeline by lassoing it and then drag it to its new location. You may also copy and paste keyframes.

II. Animate keyframes. 



Keyframes allow you to animate your project. You may alter any of the properties listed under the “Transform” or “Contents” tab. There are two basic forms of animation: with ease or linear. If a layer in animated with ease, the layer will ease into and out of the motion. If a layer is linearly animated, the layer will start and stop moving abruptly and it will also move at the same rate the entire time. Altering a layer’s position is an example of linear animation.

  1. Click on the stopwatch next to “Position.”
  2. Move the red line to the point at which you would like the layer to be off the screen.
  3. Click on the layer’s anchor point.
  4. Hold down “Shift” as you drag the layer completely off of the screen. The motion path will appear as a purple dotted line and each related keyframe will appear as a purple square. To preview your animation, scrub the red line over the timeline.

III. Include effects and presets. 


Click on “Window” and “Effects and Presets.” You will see a list of various animations and effects that are available for application to your project. Simply drag and drop the effect or animation selection onto the layer to which you’d like to apply it. You should see the change immediately.

  • Effects include 3D, color correction, and various camera views.
  • Transition options include wipe, fade and checkerboard.
  • You may remove selections by dragging them off your projects.


4. Previewing and Rendering Your Composition


I. Preview your project. 

Select “Windows.” From here, click on “Time Controls.” A preview pane will pop up where you can select “Play” to see a rough draft of your project. If you wish to see a more finished version, click on “Ram Render Play.” If your project is especially long or requires a large amount of memory, adjust the resolution before you preview it. After clicking to play it, the video will run continually until you click on the screen to stop it.

II. Export your composition to Render Queue. 



If you need to produce and deliver a high-quality composition, export your project to the Render Queue. The Render Queue is built into Adobe After Effects.
Click on “File” at the top of the window. Select “Export” followed by “Add to Render Queue.” Instead of “File,” you may click on “Composition” and select “Add to Render Queue.”
In your Render Queue, locate “Output Module” and click on the linked text to the left of this section. A dialogue box will appear on your screen. From this screen, you can change the video and audio output settings. Click “Ok” when finished.

In your Render Queue, locate “Output To” and click on the linked text next to the left of this section. Another dialogue box will appear on your screen. The screen you prompt you to select a location to save your rendered composition. Click “Ok” when done.
Click on “Render” to export the composition.









III. Export your composition to Adobe Media Encoder. 


The Adobe Media Encoder will produce a compressed version of your composition. The Media Encoder will also export files that are compatible with specific web platforms. While your project is rendering in the Media Encoder, you may continue to work in Adobe After Effects.
Click on “File” at the top of the window. Select “Export” followed by “Add to Adobe Media Encoder Queue.” You may also select “Composition” followed by “Add to Adobe Media Encoder Queue” or drag the file directly into the “Adobe Media Encoder Queue” tab.
Locate the “Preset Browser.” Select the format for your composition. Drag this preset from the browser onto the file in the “Adobe Media Encoder Queue.”
In the queue, locate “Output To” and click on the linked text next to the left of this section. A dialogue box will appear on your screen and prompt you to select a location to save your rendered composition. Click “Ok” when done.
Click on the green play button to begin the export.

Want to learn Branding ? How to SEO, SEM ?

Gardmore Abbey 5E rerun – Session 4

This session started with an interesting fight in a wizard’s tower. It turned out the wizard was both undead and quite mad, wanting to preserve everything for eternity by freezing it. So the group was hit with a lot of ice magic which hindered their movement, while battling the wizard and his 4 icy mummies. But the group prevailed and scored another card from the deck of many things, which had been frozen in a block of ice together with a Barlgura demon. That caused quite some concern on how to get to the card without being attacked by the demon, however it turned out that the demon didn’t wake up at all and just got banished back to the abyss by defrosting him.

So the group moved on to the garrison, having found both possible ways to open the door there, a scroll from the wizard’s tower and the sword of the lost paladin. But there was another Barlgura demon in the garrison, together with some specters, and this time the demon was alive. I had the demon use his disguise spell to assume the same form as the specters, so the group didn’t immediately know where the main threat was. But otherwise the combat went without major events, and the group found the brazier, one of the three objects they were searching for Sir Oakley.

So they returned to Sir Oakley and rested in the temple. Then they decided to take the stairs in the temple leading down to a dungeon, where they encountered a band of gnolls. The group attacked immediately, while the gnolls tried to retreat. Most of the gnolls made it to the next room and barred the door, but the barbarian just crashed through that door with an exceptional strength check. So the group fought the gnolls from both rooms at once, which was a tough fight. After the fight we decided to stop for this session.