Lord of the Rings: The Battle For Middle Earth

In the history of video games, games and movie licenses don’t go well together, unless your name is LucasArt.

To prove the point, anyone played Gods and Generals?

Buying the Lord of the Rings movie license must have cost EA a fortune and EA isn’t going to let you forget about that.

Off the bat, one notices on the box a nice shiny silver Lord of the Rings “Official Product” sticker, just to remind you that you are, in fact, buying a game that stems from the great movie trilogy Lord of the Rings.

The game comes in a whopping 4 CDs and 4.5 gigs installation requirement.

One wonders why a real-time strategy game would take up 4 CDs, but for now, it does.

The game also includes the standard game manual with controls, unit descriptions, and so on and so forth.

When you first start up the game, you can’t help but notice the clean and crisp graphics and interface.

In this game, you have the option to play the Good (Gondor/Rohan/Fellowship) Campaign or the Bad (Mordor/Sauron) Campaign, you can also take your skills online and set up theoretical battles.

The first thing that one notices when playing the game is that the graphics are quite good.

From lush elven forests to desolate Mordor landscapes, everything is well rendered and well colored.

The units themselves are nicely detailed and the animation is great, from Nazgul’s swooping down on humans to ents playing soccer with an orc, everything is smooth, and can’t help but remind you of the movie.

The sound and music are quite commendable.

Featuring the LoTR soundtrack and most of the movie’s original cast as voice actors, EA does a good job of associating the cinematic characters to the pixels and in a way, adding more life and depth, which in turn adds more enjoyment to the overall experience.

The gameplay is quite good.

First of all, Battle for Middle-Earth definitely leans more towards the single-player experience.

The only resource in the game is just resource, which is generated at a steady rate by buildings, such as the Rohan farm.

But these farms can only be built in certain designated areas.

Scattered around the map are a number of sites where you can build all your buildings, from unit producers to resource producers to miscellaneous buildings.

Holding these points is crucial to your success.

But the sites are scattered around the map, especially farm sites, which don’t come with tower sites, so defending your vast empire of farms is quite challenging.

To make the matters worse, your population limit is controlled by something called command points.

Each unit takes a certain amount of command points (Since the resource is generated and not harvested, there are no resource units) and so your army is restricted by this command point cap.

This cap encourages strategy rather than simply overwhelming your opponent with units.

Battles in the game are quite short, preventing any fine micromanagement.

This case is especially true if you are on the evil side, your orcs are quite prone to get mauled by anything and everything.

A Rohan cavalry can kill orcs in one charge.

Since your orc company is already dead as soon as combat started, you can’t really move them to the back and heal.

But the lack of micromanagement also has its upside, you actually get to enjoy watching the battle.

As I mentioned before, the animation in Battle for Middle-Earth is quite good.

From the charge of Roharims flinging Uruks around to felbeasts grabbing Gondor soldiers and dropping them, the battles in Battle for Middle-Earth feel truly epic.

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Battle for Middle-Earth also features a great system of veterancy.

Some buildings become better as you train more troops from them and gain levels.

These levels increase the efficiency of the building and sometimes even unlock new upgrades and units.

Units, not just heroes can also gain experience.

As units level up, they gain hit points and damage, hero units also gain special abilities.

The units also keep any upgrades you bestow upon them so it is in your best interest to keep your veterans rather than just churn out a batch of new recruits.

The campaign is quite fun.

It is basically a narration of the events of the War of the Ring.

Interestingly, while you do have to go through the campaign in chronological order (Challenging Sauron at the beginning of the campaign and taking the ring for yourself will have to wait another day), the result of the campaign is flexible to some degree.

For example, I managed to save Boromir from the UrukHai, but the rest of the campaign was still the same.

The campaign is not so deep as to give you branches for each action you take, but it does confer to you bonuses for your actions, and it’s nice to imagine that you have changed the fate of Middle Earth.

Another interesting feature is the ability to take veteran troops to the next mission, in fact, you get to keep the army you used in the last scene.

On a side note, you can even rename those armies, which adds a bit of attachment to your army.

Most scenarios start you off with a whole veteran army and pit you against an equally veteran army.

So if you lost all your elite units at the end of the last scenario, you might want to start over again as your little orc whelpling’s might not fare very well against the cream of Gondor.

EA did a very good job to create a sense of immersion, involvement, and continuity.

While this is by far not the best RTS game, it is definitely one of the funniest.

Even though the AI is decent and nothing to brag about, I found myself thoroughly immersed in the world and enjoying every moment of the game, watching my horsemen ride down fleeing orcs and watching my balrog make mincemeat of enemy ranks.

It’s not a very deep game, but it is definitely a very enjoyable one.

Battle for Middle-Earth is just the right mix of serious strategy and enjoyable gameplay to whittle away that rainy day.

As the divorced single parent of a 15-year-old type 1 diabetic teenager, the article entitled “Some Diabetic Teens Prone to Risky Behaviour” written by Jeanie Lerche Davies on WebMD hit close to home.

My son has had type 1 diabetes since just after his second birthday. Throughout the toddler years and the pre-teen years, everything went along pretty well, at least according to his mother, who had custody. As I lived over 300 miles away, I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with my son as I’d like, but while he was with me on vacations and such we always seemed to be able to control his glucose levels pretty well.

Then the teenage years hit, and everything went absolutely nuts. Or at least, he did. My ex wife, unable to even control our son anymore and fearing for his life, willingly signed over custody of him to me just before his 15th birthday. Congratulations, I’m suddenly a full time father.

A1C Levels Can Tell You How Well You’re Managing Your Diabetes

Don’t misunderstand, I’ve always tried to be a good parent to my son, but his mother and I had gotten divorced when he was only a year old. Other than the occasional week here and there, and a month each Summer, I hadn’t really had to deal with being responsible for him. Now, suddenly I’m going to endocrinologist appointments with that “deer in the headlights” look on my face, doing my best to catch up on the 13 years of information and training that I’d missed.

When my son moved in, his A1C levels were practically off the chart at a whopping 13.6; his endocrinologist wanted it down to around 4.5 at least. A1C tests are used to measure the blood sugar levels and can tell how well they’ve been controlled for the past few weeks. Needless to say, my son’s was not being controlled well at all.

Why Teenage Diabetics Can Have Problems Controlling Their Glucose Levels

Several factors can contribute to a Diabetic teenager being unable to control their blood sugar levels. Things such as raging hormones throughout the puberty years can seriously affect how well the insulin being injected is absorbed into the body, and the endocrinologist has to constantly adjust the dosage to compensate.

Of course, most of the problems are simply behavioral. As any parent of a teenager can tell you, they’re always hungry. It seems no matter how much you feed them, they’re still constantly looking for something else to munch on.

For an insulin dependent diabetic, this can be especially challenging, especially for those who still take their insulin by syringe. For those who are on an insulin pump, such as my son, the problem isn’t so much how often they eat, it’s that they simply forget to check their blood glucose and bolus for the carbohydrates that they consume. “Bolus” is the term used to describe using the pump to inject insulin. Insulin pumps, such as my son’s Animus pump, are great when used properly. They provide a constant flow of insulin and allow the wearer to bolus just by pushing a few buttons. No needles required. But they don’t work any better than a syringe if they’re not used. Sneaking food can be fatal to an insulin dependent diabetic if he forgets to take insulin with it.

Teenagers today have so many distractions between video games and MP3 players and computers and television and on and on and on that they often are overwhelmed. For most parents, this is just annoying, but for the parents of an insulin dependent diabetic child, this can be terrifying. I have to remind my son at practically every meal to check his blood glucose levels and to bolus Insulin through his Animus pump or he’ll forget to do so. I’ve recently had to set it up with his school nurse to do the same thing before he takes lunch.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that often teenagers feel the need to rebel against, well, anything. Their parents, their school, their doctor, or any person they see as having authority over them. So far, unlike his mother, who’s only around five feet tall, I’ve managed to avoid that particular pitfall, probably because I’m quite a bit bigger than him. But I’m almost certain it’s coming sooner or later.

For Teenage Diabetics, Sometimes Drastic Measures are Needed

Even so, at my son’s latest endocrinologist appointment, the test results were still too high. His doctor is seriously considering taking him off the Animus pump and putting him back on syringe injections at every meal. The thought of having to go back to the days when I had to use syringes is daunting, but if that’s what it takes to save my son’s life, then so be it.

Teenagers Think They’re Immortal, but Diabetics Can Cause Permanent Damage Unknowingly

As I’m sure many of you can recall, when you were a teenager you were the next best thing to Superman. We were all going to live forever, and 30-year-old people seemed ancient. Unfortunately for a type 1 diabetic, the things you do wrong as a teenager can seriously impact your life all too soon, for instance, in those far off 20s and 30s. Complications from poor glucose control range from blindness to amputation to organ failure to death. And it seems the damage may be cumulative, in that every time their blood glucose levels go above normal, diabetics could possibly be damaging their bodies, and not even know it or feel it.

If you are the parent or parents of an insulin dependent diabetic child or teenager, I urge you to watch them closely and stay on top of their glucose control. It’s better to have them mad at you now, than for you to mourn them later. Type 1 diabetics can have long, healthy lives, but only if they take care of themselves now, before the damage is done.

Camping is a wonderful way to bring the family together. Driving for miles to a distant camping destination and packing everything from bedding to food can be stressful and expensive. Families can save money and eliminate packing troubles by creating an unforgettable camping experience in their backyard.

Before the backyard camping trip begins, lay the ground rules. Designate a time that the camping trip is to begin. When the time approaches this means all family members must shut off the computer, television, cell phones and other electronic devices and head outside.

During the backyard camping trip, keep the focus on spending time together and having fun. Only allow access to inside the home to use the rest room or to grab additional clothing, otherwise the house is off limits.

Camping Supplies for a Backyard Camping Vacation

To enjoy camping at its best, a tent, sleeping bags and pillows are essential gear to have on this frugal family vacation. To guide the way after dark, each camper should have a flashlight, glow stick or lantern available. Other supplies that may come in handy include a grill, fire pit, outdoor candles, bug spray, outdoor seating and table.

To make the camping vacation a success, plan the menu ahead of time. Be prepared to have plenty of snacks and drinks on hand. To discourage campers from going inside to grab items from the refrigerator, consider packing a cooler full of drinks and leaving outside near the camp site. All family members should be involved in putting together the snack and menu items for the camping trip. Be sure to remember the graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows for smores.

 

Camp Out for Inexpensive Family Fun

Before preparing dinner for the evening, select a suitable site for the tent. Work together as a family to put the tent up and get it ready for sleeping in later that evening. Young children can get involved by placing their favorite blanket or stuffed animal inside and selecting their special sleeping spot.

To create the right camping ambience, build a fire in a portable fire pit. If a fire pit is not available, use a group of candles or outdoor lanterns. Be sure to keep fire safety in mind. Other ways to light the night sky are to line the patio or deck with outdoor Christmas lights to create a fun and inviting atmosphere. Or create a glowing fake fire by using several glow sticks and placing on the ground together.

As the sun begins to set, be sure to have everything necessary to enjoy a comfortable night sleeping under the stars. Make smores around the fire or enjoy favorite family snacks together. Sit together and tell stories under the stars or sing camp fire songs. Talk about other family vacations and recall favorite moments.

Creating unforgettable family vacations doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With a little planning and creativity, a fun, family get-away can be as close as your backyard. The only cost of this frugal vacation idea is the groceries, if a tent is already available for use.

Computer aided translation, also known as computer assisted translation, or CAT, is a process by which a computer program compares a block of text to information in a database. We use this technology for a variety of purposes, including spell-checking and translating words from one language to another. For machine translation to work, the program has to use a process called natural language processing, which allows the computer to assign a meaning or value to the letters and sounds within the spoken or written word.

 

 

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

 

Computers use natural language processing, or NLP, to process human language. NLP algorithms compare sounds or symbols to a database to establish the meaning that should be associated with them. From search engines to chatbots, we use NLP for many applications in today’s technology. The following articles examine the various uses for natural language processing, and discuss how it works in further depth.

NLP for Smart Home Automation – Smart home automation using voice control remotes is a great solution for homeowners. Learn how home control systems use NLP, natural language processing.

Google Uses NLP & Text Analytics in Data Mining – Google’s data mining technology, using text analytics for natural language processing, provides benefits to consumers, advertisers, and society in general.

Speech Recognition Technology for the Disabled – Students with disabilities depend on assistive technology products, such as voice transcription software, to improve the educational experience.

Voice Recognition Software for Disabled Students – Disabled students are often at a disadvantage in the classroom. Voice recognition software improves communication, enables note-taking, and increases participation.

Chatbots for English Language Practice – Looking for English language practice? Learning a second language can be challenging, but students can use AI chatbots to improve conversational skills and grammar.

NLP & Artificial Intelligence – Internet Searches – Natural language processing is a form of AI that allows search engines to provide search results to Internet users based on the actual meaning of their questions.

 

Computer Assisted Translation (CAT)

Computer assisted translation works by comparing the words or blocks of text recognized by NLP algorithms to other words or blocks of text to discover anomalies or similarities. For example, a spell-checking algorithm might compare a word to the correct spelling of the word to discover that it is missing a letter, and trigger an error message. CAT is also useful in grammar checkers, in which it compares a string of text to a set of rules to flag common usage mistakes.

NLP and CAT are similar technologies that can provide valuable assistance to humans in the ongoing process of communicating human knowledge and experience to computer databases, and making sense of the information. By combining the two, we can not only recognize data, but categorize it and assign a value. When we assign value or meaning to data, it becomes information. Choosing the correct use for that information is still often thought to be a job for human interpretation, but with fuzzy logic and machine learning, in the future, anything’s possible.