Bad handwriting, an aversion to math, or disinclination towards physical activity: for the most part, the presence of such traits in children is viewed simply as the innate differences in each child’s strengths, albeit with a corresponding effect on academic performance. There’s an entire industry built on nurturing a young learner’s interests and capabilities-math and reading clinics, art lessons, sports training, and the like.

While these extracurricular activities usually focus on a specific skill set, a new trend in enrichment emphasizes a brain-based learning model. It’s popularly known as brain fitness, and here in the Philippines, such programs are offered by BrainFit Studio, a singapore-based brain fitness training center with branches across Southeast Asia.

"Brain fitness is just like physical fitness," says pediatric physiotherapist and BrainFit founder Cheryl Chia, who was in town for the Manila launch of her book, "Fit Brains Learn Better". Chia explains that just as some discrepancies occur in each individual’s physical abilities-for instance, having good stamina but poor flexibility-cognitive abilities also differ from person to person.

"Underperformance in learning is not a result of laziness or a bad attitude, but is [likely] due to gaps in brain fitness."

And just like a personal trainer or a cross-training regimen can improve physical fitness, specialied exercises can train the human brain to improve its performance.

Giving the brain a workout

The science behind this is pretty solid; studies in neuroplasticity and neurogenesis-the brain’s lifelong capacity to reconnect and regenerate neurons, respectively-show that frequent targeted activities can improve cognitive abilities. Put simply, action begins with brain activity: neural connections are made in specific areas of the brain that send electric signals to the body parts or systems required to complete the action. The more frequently you do an action, the more neural pathways are made and maintained, thus making the action easier to do as time goes by.

Hence, the effectivity of a method like Kumon, which increases math preficiency through the rote solving of problem sets or worksheets. Which is all well and good, if one is only interested in improving a child’s performance in a specific subject; what BrainFit programs aim to do is address the underlying causes of the child’s learning difficulties by assessing and improving his brain fitness in five key systems: social-emotional, attention and memory, auditory and language processing, visual and spatial processing, and sensory-motor coordination.

Chia asserts that each of these five brain fitness systems contributes to learning. For instance, poor reading comprehension could possibly be due to lower fitness in the attention and visual systems, while mathematical comprehension, particularly in subjects like geometry, could be improved by working on spatial processing skills.

Assessing target areas

Like any physical fitness regimen, an assessment is made to determine which areas need more work. At the launch, BrainFit staff were on hand to demonstrate some of the activities used to determine brain fitness: a timed tangram test to measure visual and spatial acuity, and repetitive ball bouncing for sensory-motor coordination. Activities are designed like games, said Chia, to sustain the child’s interest.

Better brain fitness also leads to more efficient use of our brain matter. Like running multiple apps on a tablet can bog down the system’s speed, multi-tasking requires a lot of brain power and energy. But learning is, by nature, a multi-sensory experience, so expending too much time and energy on one thing-like legible handwriting, for those with slight motor difficulties-is detrimental to a child’s learning process, even if all other faculties in working order.

To illustrate, Chia asked attendees to balance on one leg-first with eyes open, then with eyes closed-to show how vision affects motor coordination. Since a good number of attendees were quite able to balance with eyes closed, she added another level of difficulty: reciting the multiplication table of the number three, in reverse; which promptly caused everyone to wobble. While there are very few instances that require one to balance, eyes closed, while reciting a reverse multiplication table, this was a pretty effective demonstration of how multi-tasking can strain a person’s brain fitness capacities.

Working with what you’ve got

In her book, Chia shares some of the success stories from BrainFit’s 12 years in practice: Singapore-based studies show as much as 41 percent improvement in subject perception for a control group of students who underwent BrainFit training, as opposed to the 26 percent improvement for the control group who did not.

Less data is available for the Philippines, since the Manila centers were only established in 2011. There are also caveats: brain fitness training won’t turn students into geniuses, or cure developmental disorders. What it does is ensure that one’s brain is primed for maximum performance.

This is why Chia recommends getting children assessed for brain fitness by age 6, when a complete developmental profile can be captured, and the time a child enters formal schooling. Parents who think their child may have a learning disorder are advised to consult with developmental pediatrician and appropriate therapists.

Be guided by pediatric milestones

Furthermore, as with physical fitness, proper nutrition is vital in achieving and maintaining brain fitness.

Launch partner Abbott’s presence at the book launch reminded parents in the audience of this fact, but its consultant developmental and behavioral pediatrician Dr. Rita Paz Rowena de Guzman assuaged their concerns about their children’s school-readiness with a checklist of ten milestones that determine a toddler’s capacity to attend pre-school.

Her advice: each child develops at their own pace, so comparisons with other children are not proper indicators of developmental lag; instead, stick to the pediatric development milestones and consult your pediatrician if you observe significant delays so that proper interventions can be explored. Also, make sure that a child is raised in a nurturing, learning environment because their home life will augment or be a detriment to whatever learning children experience in an educational setting.

Brain fitness training, or at least the regimens designed by BrainFit, come at a price. Pre-session cognitive profiling costs P7,500, and with personalized training sessions and its contingent proprietary software and learning materials, one can surmise that parents will shell out tens of thousands for each program. But for parents who can and want to give their children the best of everything, brain fitness can be considered a necessary expense. - BM, GMA News

BrainFit Studio has centers in Greenhills and Binondo. “Fit Brains Learn Better” by Cheryl Chia is available in Fully Booked branches.

Source: Gmanetwork
GTA V - it wants to have its cake and eat it

Does Grand Theft Auto V deserve a 10/10 and how does its writing compare to shows like The Wire and Breaking Bad? A reader gives his view.

I’ve always found GTA problematic on a number of levels, the awkwardness of vehicle handling and shooting, the linearity and repetitiveness of some of the missions, the sheer boredom of both. So I waited until GameCentral’s review before purchasing the latest version. While I’m writing this before playing GTA V, I can comment at least on the amorality of the characters and some of the acts the player is invited to commit in the series. Context is everything but consider what I think is a reasonable comparison, that between the GTA universe and the HBO series The Wire.

Both aim for social realism in violent, corrupt, and complex urban environments. Both depict graphic acts of ruthless and unjustified violence. Both centre on characters, of which there are many in The Wire, that are easy to dislike. But there is a crucial difference. In The Wire many of the characters are conflicted and the influence of their social environment, the disadvantages and discriminations they suffer and not least the effect their socialisation into the brutal and antagonistic world of laissez-faire late capitalism has had on them, are central to the text. The quality of the writing in The Wire is exemplified by the gang leader Russell ‘Stringer’ Bell played by Idris Elba who wouldn’t be out of place in a novel by Dostoyevsky.

Without giving too much away for those who haven’t seen the series, Stringer Bell commits despicable acts of treachery and violence yet by the end of season 3 it’s not difficult to sympathise with the position that circumstance had placed him in, not least his efforts to escape that position through self-education and by embracing the ‘entrepreneurialism’ of the corrupted political and business elites. While painting a similar world of violence and corruption, GTA - at least the ones I’ve played - by contrast, appears to revel in the ruthless enterprise and violence of the lead characters. Rather than invite the player to question the social environment in which the lead has to make a living as The Wire does, it invites us to embrace it and in this dog eat dog society profit from it as best we can.

There is a real missed opportunity, especially given the immigrant status and ‘minority’ ethnic backgrounds of the central characters, to add depth by showing them to be conflicted as they commit criminal acts in circumstances not of their choosing. The same game could essentially be played out by confronting the player at given moments with the kind of discrimination people from such backgrounds, particularly in the United States, face, and the difficulty of going against the grain of the criminal world they are embedded in.

As with some of the greatest films of French New Wave and Italian Neo-Realism or the contemporary films of Ken Loach, Michael Haneke, and Lars Von Trier, the player could be taken along an emotionally charged journey of moral ambiguity in which they are forced to negotiate situations that are largely determined by their socio-economic class, ethnic background and/or nationality from which, as with Stringer Bell, they cannot individually escape no matter how talented, hardworking or entrepreneurial they are.

This would be the real breakthrough for video games and it is such a shame that GTA, which does so much to create a realistic depiction of a divided, corrupted, and unjust society fails to make this giant leap (from the point of view of video games) in storytelling. Given how much the game cost to make, there is no excuse for crude storytelling and characterisation. The budget was available after all to employ the kind of talent behind the renaissance of American television. Judged accordingly, GTA is adolescent but more importantly complicit in embracing neoliberal ideology by both rewarding and celebrating ruthless self-interest and violent and thoroughly corrupt enterprise.

We need though to distinguish between the knee-jerk morality police writing for tabloids, their chief interest it seems in selling copy by manufacturing trivia, scandal, moral panics, fear and prejudice and critiques that centre on the discourse and ideology of video game texts and the values, or lack thereof, they either leave unquestioned or at worst promote. These issues are not specific to video games, nor do video games in isolation influence us to the degree that some appear to suggest.

They are a small part of a more general culture industry that is itself a product of the political economy that all of us are socialised into. This is where our concerns should be focused. Popular media can play a role in this regard by focusing on structural factors and drawing attention to the institutionalised violence, injustice, inequality, and oppression that so often goes unnoticed or is masked and distorted.

If video games such as GTA are silent in this regard they are, as suggested, complicit in this more generalised mystification. Only when video games such as GTA operate at the dialogic level of celebrated series such as The Wire, Sopranos, or Breaking Bad can we truly call them mature.

I want to conclude by emphasising the importance of gameplay as the principal criterion by which the quality of video games can be determined. Context and storytelling are crucial aspects of the GTA universe, though. As with Call Of Duty, these aspects cannot be ignored. And while my concerns will not stop me from playing GTA V, it is important that reviews factor these issues into their analysis and critique. Accordingly, until such issues are addressed, I really do not think a perfect 10 is justified.

By reader Luma

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk.

Source: Metro

Miles College, a Division II school in Fairfield, Ala., issued a release stating that Saturday’s game vs. Concordia-Selma was canceled.

The cancellation seems perplexing and abrupt considering the weather was just fine and there were no reported facility issues.

According to this Twitter photo, Concordia-Selma never made it for Saturday’s game because the team bus caught on fire and destroyed all of the team’s equipment. No serious injuries were reported as of late Saturday and the game won’t be rescheduled.

According to The Selma Times Journal, the charter bus carrying Concordia College football players caught fire after a tire blew out on Alabama Highway 219.

"The players are okay and everything is okay," Concordia assistant football coach Reginald Lumpkin told The Selma Times Journal. "We just made it back to the school."

***

"It was still flamed up when we got there, but they got the kids out and across the road," local firefighter Patrick Essex told The Times. "[The bus] is completely destroyed."

The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference provided the following statement on the league’s Facebook page:

"IAC and Miles College Fans. Please pay attention to this announcement sent via Miles Sports Information.
"FAIRFIELD, AL

Pure Storage, the enterprise solid state storage entrepreneur, has raised an impressive $150 million. The company claims it’s the largest single private round in the history of storage. It is also the third largest financing round in a North American business technology company this year, according to Bloomberg data. The investment values the company at $1 billion.

The round was led by T. Rowe Price, Tiger Global Management and other public market investors, with participation by its previous venture capital investors Greylock Partners, Index Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Samsung Ventures and Sutter Hill Ventures. The round brings the company’s total financing to $245 million, and follows its Series B of $40 million last year.

"In our view, Pure represents a rare combination of disruptive innovation, strong leadership, and strong growth. In particular, customer references were excellent," said Henry Ellenbogen of T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. "We look forward to working with Pure as they scale and strive toward becoming a public company."

Pure Storage produces Flash Array, a solid state storage solution that lowers the price of flash storage to about $5 per gigabyte. The company essentially makes solid state storage at a price comparable to traditional storage, but at 10x its speed, space and power efficiency.

The money will be used to bolster R&D efforts as well as expand internationally. It also helps prepare the company for an IPO, the company indicated in a press release. Over the last 10 months, the company has extended into 10 new countries, including the U.K., Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Denmark, Poland, Germany, Japan, Korea, Australia, and Singapore.

Along with the funding, the company also announced adding former Data Domain CEO Frank Slootman to its board.

"Pure Storage is experiencing much of what we did at Data Domain," said Slootman. "They’re replacing one storage media (disk) with another (flash). They pioneered the use of inline data reduction to remove the cost hurdle for the media upgrade, and, as a result of being the first to get this right they are growing about as fast as companies can grow organically. I am glad to be able to offer my own perspective in driving and managing growth to the top tier board of directors and leadership team at Pure."

Pure Storage competes against legacy storage solutions EMC Corp and NetApp, which offers flash storage solutions at a much higher rate of $20 to $50 per gigabyte. It also competes against startups such as Nimble Storage and Skyera. Earlier this month, Skyera released its latest generation (link to “Skyera’s Latest Gen Boosts Data Capacity by 10X for &; the Price” shared on Google Docs but not published) that offers flash for $1.99 per gigabyte, or 49 cents after data deduplication techniques are applied.


Source: Redherring

Milan Fashion Week is under way in Italy right now, and the stars are starting to filter into one of Europe’s most stylish destinations. Blake Lively popped up at the Gucci Spring ‘14 fashion show on Wednesday wearing a stunning mustard dress, while Kate Moss went for a black look at a Stuart Weitzman event on Thursday. Meanwhile, Selena Gomez rocked a very different look when she arrived at the Versace presentation on Friday. They aren’t the only stars that are flooding into Milan, Freida Pinto, Cate Blanchett, and Cara Delevingne have also made pit stops in Italy. Be sure to check back for more celebrities in Milan as they come in!


Source: Popsugar

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) - Lawyers for five Guantanamo Bay prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 attacks urged a military judge Friday to put proceedings on hold because of alleged security flaws in their computer network, an argument dismissed by the prosecution as merely an attempt to stall the case.

The lawyers said they had no confidence that their private emails and confidential files are safe as they wrapped up three days of jargon-filled testimony on network security at the U.S. base in Cuba. The defense teams asked the judge to suspend future proceedings until a secure network could be established for their exclusive use.

"To keep going at this point without a secure infrastructure is to penalize my client, who is looking at the possibility of death, and it undermines the integrity of the system," said Cheryl Bormann, a civilian attorney for defendant Walid bin Attash.

Ed Ryan, a civilian Department of Justice prosecutor, said the defense complaints about the computer network were exaggerated and that there was no evidence of significant data loss. The request for the suspension of proceedings was “the emergency motion to abate du jour,” he said, comparing it to an earlier defense request to halt the case because of allegations of government eavesdropping on their private meetings.

"We had to stop everything else and spend days proving no one was listening. This time we had to prove no one was reading," Ryan said. "But at least for these few days, they did in fact shut us down."

This was the sixth round of pretrial hearings since the five prisoners were arraigned in May 2012 on charges that include terrorism, hijacking and nearly 3,000 counts of murder for their alleged roles planning and aiding the Sept. 11 attacks. A trial date has not been set.

In recent months, the defense teams have said emails have disappeared, large amounts of data have been lost and they say some of their private work has been subjected to monitoring. The problems were severe enough that the chief defense counsel for the military prohibited the use of email and the Defense Department network for privileged legal communications.

As a result, lawyers said they have been unable to adequately work on a case often portrayed as the most complex terrorism prosecution in U.S. history. Setting up a new system would take at least three months, at an undisclosed cost. Attorney David Nevin, an attorney for lead defendant Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, said they cannot represent their clients and meet their ethical requirements without a secure network.

"My request is that we stop until we have a computer system that works and that functions and that you not force us to go forward with one hand tied behind our back," Nevin told the court.

Ronald Bechtold, the chief information officer for the office of the Secretary of Defense, testified that some of the security concerns can be resolved with “relatively, low cost, easy to implement solutions” such as encryption. He also expressed support for keeping defense documents on a segregated server network, though he did not endorse either of two specific proposals being considered by the chief defense counsel.

The judge, Army Col. James Pohl, did not issue an immediate ruling, but he appeared skeptical that he could order the government to set up computer servers that would be segregated from the rest of the Department of Defense. The court is scheduled to reconvene in October for another round of pretrial hearings.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Usatoday

New details from the NFL’s $765 million proposed concussion settlement reveal that the first players diagnosed with football-related brain damage would be shut out of the deal. And with the number of confirmed brain damage cases growing, some players and attorneys told “Outside the Lines” they fear there isn’t enough money to cover all eligible players diagnosed with such injuries.

Former players report widespread confusion over who will qualify for compensation and how the money will be distributed. Details described to “Outside the Lines” by sources familiar with the settlement

PETALING JAYA: A businessman’s persistence in betting the same set of numbers for the past 20 years paid off when he hit the RM31mil jackpot.

The man, in his 50s, said the winning set of numbers 4, 8, 9, 21, 29 and 35 have emotional attachments for him as they were thought up by him and his then girlfriend while they were dating.

He has been using the same set of numbers through Toto 6/42 and Toto 6/49 before moving on to Mega Toto 6/52, Power Toto 6/55 and Supreme Toto 6/58.

The man’s winning set of numbers has won him RM31,413,151.10 from the Power Toto 6/55 Jackpot.

The man said he was calm when he found out about his win through an SMS alert for draw results.

He said he would use the money to pay for the medical expenses of a family member who has been suffering from a chronic illness and his business operations. He also said a big part of the money would be saved for his children.

The man also won an extra RM19,800 from playing System 7, which gave him seven combinations of six numbers each.


Source: Thestar

This week’s list of significant games is shorter than Eddie Gaedel … shorter than Bo Pelini’s new best-seller: “The Complete Book of Victorian Etiquette” … shorter than Massachusetts’ drive chart.

Ah, but the issues … Let’s dig in:

Is winning enough for Bo Pelini?

Bo Pelini has a better career winning percentage than 103 FBS coaches. Amid this week’s Bo clutter, betcha didn’t know that one. The perception of Nebraska’s coach, though, took a dark turn this week going into Saturday’s game against South Dakota State.

Gregg Doyel Don’t expect boos Saturday when Pelini takes the field

It’s a weird dynamic. It now appears the Huskers could win at least nine games for the sixth consecutive year in the same season Pelini departs. Heck, there was speculation this week that Bo might not make it to Saturday. Given this week’s opponent, the biggest news coming out of Lincoln will be the reaction when Pelini comes out of the locker room.

Nebraska’s problem is not that it doesn’t win. It doesn’t win enough to suit the same fans Pelini cursed this week two years ago. The program continues to chase its first conference title in 14 years. The Huskers have lost their identity, at least on defense. They have some fine athletes and coaches, but there’s no vibe there, no clear direction.

This isn’t a Big Ten thing. The situation already existed when Nebraska changed leagues. There’s a short list of teams who continue to win but not at an accustomed level. Michigan? Washington? Texas hasn’t been to a BCS bowl since 2009. It’s been since 2010 for Oklahoma. The difference is that Pelini has inserted a potentially poisonous element into the mix with his conduct.

That clouds the fact he has a better career winning percentage (.708) than Mike Leach, Tommy Tuberville, Frank Beamer, Bill Snyder, Mike Gundy and