Monday, March 31, 2014

Turn a Baseball Brawl into an Action Strategy Game with Upcoming 'Bench Clearing'

<Super Salep>America's Pastime, baseball, has a rich history of competition among some of the most gifted athletes of our time. Bu,t sometimes, it's not such a gentlemanly game. Sometimes, a pitcher beans a batter with a ball out of frustration, anger, or just by accident. Sometimes a bat flies out of a batter's hand and towards an opposing player. Hey, these things happen, but when they do, sometimes emotions boil over and confrontations on the field take place. As per the "unwritten rules" of baseball, if a teammate looks like he's about to get in a scuffle, both sides' benches clear and rush to their aid.

Developer HooAh is taking the concept of bench-clearing brawls and turning it into an action-strategy game, and if I gave out awards for "Awesome Things to Make a Video Game Out Of" this would win first prize. I'm not even sure if there's any actual baseball mechanics in the appropriately named Bench Clearing, but what I do know is that once a scuffle breaks out, you can choose an assortment of different units and weapons to trod out on the field and help put a healthy beatdown on your opponent's team. Check out the trailer.

The problem with cool game concepts is that they aren't worth a whole lot if they don't result in a well-executed game, and for that piece of the puzzle we'll just have to wait and see how Bench Clearing eventually turns out. But, I love the concept, and HooAh does have experience in making brawlers with their popular Gangsta's Paradise [$1.99 / Free] games. I'll be hoping for the best when Bench Clearing launches "soon" on the App Store.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Uber launches in Auckland: free promo code for $20 discount

Uber has launched in Auckland, although the 'chauffeur on demand' company says it's a limited 'soft launch' ahead of a full city-wide rollout.

Oscar Peppitt, who is heading Uber's first foray into New Zealand, says he unable to give " hard dates on when we expect an official launch".

"We will launch when we've got the product up to the high standard we see around the world" Peppitt tells Australian Business Traveller.

Uber lets you use a simple smartphone app to book and pay for a private hire car at what it spruiks as 'near-taxi' prices.

The company's launch fleet for Auckland falls into the low-cost UberX category "consisting of mostly Toyota Prius and Camry hybrids" Peppitt says, but cautions that "du ring the trial period, supply will be extremely limited."

While the Uber Auckland website lists a flat rate fare of NZ$70 between 'Auckland metro' and Auckland Airport, Peppitt admits that "our coverage is best in the city, at this stage we don't cover the airport."

Test-drive Uber: Best Buy gives $20 credit

New Uber customers in Auckland can get an NZ$20 discount on their first ride by signing up for Uber with the special Australian Business Traveller promotion code of uberAusBT.

(Disclaimer: we'll also pick up $20 of Uber credit when you take that ride, so it's a win-win.)

Read: $20 discount with our Uber promo code

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

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About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Film Review

<Deal Newsp>Captain America may not flex as much box-office muscle as his Marvel stablemates Iron Man and Thor, but there's a steadfast band of fans who pledge allegiance to Captain America: The First Avenger as possibly the best of all the Marvel superhero films - other than The Avengers. These true-blue enthusiasts will not be disappointed in this second entry in the series, which takes the bold (for Marvel) step of reducing CGI spectacle to a relative minimum in favor of reviving the pleasures of hard-driving old-school action, surprising character development and intriguing suspense.

If The First Avenger was a solid World War II action film with a Hydrated twist, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has one foot in superhero territory but the other in Washington, D.C., Cold War spyland. The first series entry grossed $371 million worldwide and this one could well do more.

PHOTOS: 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' World Premiere Invades Hollywood

Notable for having induced Robert Redford to take a (significant) role in the sort of blockbuster franchise that he has studiously avoided throughout his illustrious career, the film actually uses an important aspect of the veteran star's iconography as stylistic inspiration, that being the ethos surrounding Sydney Pollack's 1975 Redford-starring espionage thriller Three Days of the Condor. And like its hero, at least one of the story's villains also has his roots in a real historical conflict, one of the factors that provides the cartoon-based characters with a bit more resonance and real-world weight than is the norm.

When last seen in his own film, in 2011, Captain America, aka U.S. Army officer Steve Rogers, had just dispatched the malignant Nazi offshoot Hydra, only to then be frozen in ice. With his splendid physique looking none the worse some 70 years later, Rogers ( Chris Evans) has some amusing cultural adjustments to make, but his natural instinct to remain an analog rather than digital kind of guy corresponds nicely with the appealing throwback nature of this outing.

This is not to say that the film is devoid of major hardware. The big event on the boards for SHIELD is the imminent launch of three giant "helicarrier" gun ships that can stay aloft indefinitely and are so loaded with weapons that they promise to render all previous modes of warfare obsolete. Eying the progress from their new D.C. highrise offices are organization director Nick Fury ( Samuel L. Jackson) and Redford's Alexander Pierce, a SHIELD luminary who also heads the World Security Council.

From the start, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who wrote the first Captain America adventure as well as Pain & Gain and The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, resourcefully shuffle the dramatic deck, connecting important dots from before (the presumed demise of Hydra, Rogers visiting his 1940s flame played by Hayley Atwell, now a bedridden invalid), developing the enjoyable relationship between Rogers and Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, introducing doubts about the true allegiances of certain SHIELD officers and gradually building up to the full emergence of Captain America's new nemesis, the Winter Soldier ( Sebastian Stan), whom Marvel fans know is the reincarnation of Rogers' closest wartime buddy, Bucky Barnes.

VIDEO: 'Captain America' Trailer Remade with Children

Featuring these and other opponents of sometimes-obscure identity is more than enough to keep Captain America: The Winter Soldier brimming with vehicular chases, surprise attacks, shootouts, fist fights, Energy Baton takedowns, miraculous rescues and surprising demises. The action is voluminous, and when it involves machines, it's fine. However, when humans go at it one on one, directors Anthony and Joe Russo ( Welcome to Collinwood on the big screen, Arrested Development on TV) go nuts, forsaking credible and exciting action within the frame for overcutting of such intensity that you can't tell what's going on. It's as if the filmmakers were obsessed with making Paul Greengrass look slow-footed. The intent may have been to create an impressionistic account of action rather than a lucid one, but it winds up looking not only confusing but like a cheat, as you can't believe anything real is happening; all you see is cuts, not physical contact.

Fortunately, the story develops some genuine intrigue; as in the best such yarns, it's hard to know who's really pulling the strings and who, other than the characters who wear costumes, is sincere and who might be up to no good. For sheer plotting and audience involvement, this is a notch above any of the other Avengers-feeding Marvel entries, the one that feels most like a real movie rather than a production line of ooh-and-ahh moments for fanboys.

After looking rather like the odd man out in The Avengers with his campy old costume and less-than-super powers compared to his cohorts, Steve Rogers gets a new outfit and asserts himself as a likeable figure more than capable of carrying a huge enterprise like this on his muscular frame. A little self-deprecation can take you a long way with a character like this, and Evans delivers it, along with the wholesome and genuine sense of virtue that's at the core of this ever-youthful wartime hero.

STORY: 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Writers Talk 'Age of Ultron,' Superman-Batman Face-Off

Evans and Johansson exhibit very good onscreen chemistry, and their banter is charged with a fun flirtatiousness. Anthony Mackie flies aboard in the new, sometimes-goofy role of a former paratrooper who, upon donning a giant pair of wings, becomes The Falcon, able to swoop around dramatically when not struggling with the mechanics of his rig. Stan's Winter Soldier, outfitted with a devastating metal left arm, proves a well-matched, and equally good-looking, antagonist for his old friend.

But from a dramatic point of view, the greatest interest lies with Jackson and Redford, two great veterans whose presence lends weight to the fantastical proceedings and whose characters take some interesting twists and turns before it's all over. Their roles are hardly demanding or multidimensional, but both actors seems invested in what they're doing and are fun to watch in this context.

When it comes, the spectacle is, in a word, large. For fans who might forget to stay to the very end of a Marvel film, there are not one but two teasers embedded in the end credits, one at the beginning and another at the conclusion.

Production: Marvel Studios
Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Toby Jones, Georges St-Pierre
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Screenwriters: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Producer: Kevin Feige
Executive producers: Louis D'Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo, Stan Lee
Director of photography: Trent Opaloch
Production designer: Peter Wenham
Costume designer: Judianna Makovsky
Editors: Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt
Music: Henry Jackman
Special effects supervisor: Dan Sudick
Rated PG-13, 136 minutes

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Who Wants All Types of Jerky at a Discount?

<Buy Cheapp>NEWAYGO, Mich. (March 19, 2014) - When I heard of a shop claiming to have "hands down the best Jerky in West Michigan", I knew I had to get my hands on some. Better yet, I knew that a Smart Shopper deal would make it even more appealing for many people to get their hands on some.

Jerkies Jerky Factory, located in Downtown Newaygo at 48 State Rd., has been in business for more than 10 years. They stand behind their products 100 percent and all orders ship for free!

You can get jerky made from beef, venison, chicken and turkey. Click here to see all of their wonderful blends. Along with jerky, they offer a variety of beef sticks, too.

For two days only, from March 19-20, Jerkies Jerky Factory is offering Smart Shoppers $2 off one pound of jerky. So the original cost of $19.98/lb. will be $17.98., or if you stop into the store, you will have the option to get one-half pound of meat sticks free, rather than the $2 off.

This deal is good for those who want to order at When you check out online, just type in the code: fox17promo

For more information, you can call (231)652-8008

Saturday, March 15, 2014

WR Steve Smith signs 3-year deal with Ravens

AP Sports Writer

Steve Smith is eager to continue his NFL career in Baltimore, where he's just a short flight from his permanent home in Charlotte.

The longtime Panthers standout wide receiver didn't waste time finding a new home, signing a three-year contract with the Ravens about 24 hours after being released by Carolina.

The Ravens announced the signing of the 34-year-old Smith on Friday.

Smith was released by the Panthers after 13 seasons. He should provide a solid weapon for quarterback Joe Flacco.

"This has been an organization with a history of giving veteran players a chance and meshing them with younger players," Smith said on a conference call Friday.

Smith arrived in Baltimore late Thursday night and negotiations and meetings continued into the early morning hours on Friday.

Smith said he had a contract offer from the San Diego Chargers and cancelled a visit with the New England Patriots scheduled for Monday. Smith added the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks also expressed interest.

One of the reasons he chose Baltimore, he noted, is because it's about a one-hour flight to Charlotte, where his family will continue to live. Smith's wife, Angie, is expecting their fourth child later this year.

Smith ranks 19th in the NFL in career receptions. He caught 64 passes for 746 yards and four touchdowns in 2013. Smith is Carolina's all-time leader in receptions (836), yards receiving (12,197) and touchdowns (67).

Baltimore has had a void at wide receiver since trading Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers after winning the Super Bowl in February 2013. The Ravens went 8-8 last season and missed the playoffs for the first time in six years.

"We have added one of the top competitors in the NFL to the Ravens," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. "He's a proven player who has performed the best in big games and biggest situations. He adds toughness to our offense."

The Ravens will play the Panthers in 2014 in Baltimore, something Smith is clearly looking to forward to. He told Charlotte-based radio station WFNZ-AM on Wednesday that fans will need to wear goggles because there will "blood and guts everywhere" on the field when he plays the Panthers.

He backed off those comments Friday, saying it was a tongue-in-cheek statement.

"It wasn't that I don't like the organization," Smith said. "I have nothing but respect. My teammates have been telling how much they are going to miss me. I have no ill feelings and I'm not upset. I can't be upset at an organization that gave me everything and allowed me to display for other teams that I can still play."

Smith said he's excited about the Ravens' offense, calling it a good fit.

He also made it clear he no longer views himself as a No. 1 receiver, instead seeing himself as a player comparable to Kevin Walter, who played under new Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak with the Houston Texans. Smith has wanted to play in the slot for the last few years and could get that chance in Baltimore.

"I know this system and seen the very creative ways they have gotten guys the ball and I want to be a part of that," Smith said.

Smith has never won a Super Bowl.

"We're going to swing for the fence," Smith said. "But chasing a ring and making it about all those other things, you can't do that."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh called Smith a "Ravens-style player."

"He always has been in our eyes, it's just that he has been playing for another team," Harbaugh said. "We have always been challenged playing against him."

The Ravens also got a four-year Super Sale with linebacker Daryl Smith that solidifies the middle of Baltimore's defense. The sides reached agreement on Smith's 32nd birthday.

"I'm really just fired up. I knew I wanted to be back and I'm happy we could come to an agreement so I could get back in there for four years," Darryl Smith said.

He started all 16 games for the Ravens in 2013 and led the team with 123 tackles. He also had a career-high 19 passes defensed, setting a Ravens record by a linebacker.

In other moves Friday:

-Chicago agreed to a one-year contract with two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman. Tillman, 33, is coming off a season limited to eight games because of a torn right triceps.

-Eight-year veteran cornerback and rookie negotiator Cortland Finnegan found a new home in Miami after an injury-plagued 2013 with the Rams. Finnegan said he spoke with a lot of general managers and head coaches around the NFL, but his only free-agent visit was to Miami, and the 2008 All-Pro represented himself.

The Dolphins added former Rams guard Shelley Smith with a $5.5 million, two-year contract.

-Detroit re-signed tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who will get a $16 million, four-year contract with half the money guaranteed. He has 284 receptions for 2,828 yards and 16 touchdowns in five NFL seasons with the Lions.

-Green Bay re-signed defensive tackle B.J. Raji to anchor their defensive line. He started all 16 games last season for the Packers.

-Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick told The Associated Press on Friday, "You can say I've been released, yes" when asked if Tennessee had cut him. He started nine games for the Titans last season and went 217 of 350 for 2,454 yards with 14 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. The 31-year-old Fitzpatrick has thrown for 16,790 yards, 106 touchdowns and 93 interceptions in 85 career games.

The Titans also agreed to a multiyear deal with linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who spent the last six years with the Denver Broncos. During the 2012 season, Woodyard was the only player in the NFL with at least 100 tackles, five sacks and three interceptions.

-Minnesota re-signed receiver Jerome Simpson, who bounced back from an injury-plagued first season with the team in 2012 with a solid season. He caught 48 passes for a career-high 726 yards in 2013.

-Linebacker Jameel McClain joined the Giants. He started 55 games for Baltimore and won a Super Bowl ring.

-San Francisco signed cornerback Chris Cook to a one-year deal. Cook spent his four NFL seasons with Minnesota.

-New Orleans re-signed linebacker and special teams player Ramon Humber to a one-year contract.

-Carolina added a player when it signed tight end Mike McNeill from the St. Louis Rams to a two-year contract. McNeill mostly is a blocking tight end.

-Free agent linebacker Will Herring isn't joining the Cowboys after all. The team reported the signing on its website Thursday, but said Friday the deal was off in "a mutual parting of the ways that had to do with the language of the contract."


AP Sports Writer Steve Reed in Charlotte, N.C. contributed to this report.


AP NFL website: and

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Is Amazon Prime Still a Good Deal at $99? Let's Run Some Numbers

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Now that it costs $20 more, a look back through all of 2013's purchases to see if an Amazon Prime membership pays off

I've paid $79 per year for an Amazon Prime membership for the past five years or so, and I've always wondered how much (if any) it's saved me. Now that the price is going up to $99 a year, I thought I'd run through all my purchases from 2013 to see what the difference would have been if I hadn't shelled out for Prime last year.

Quick Prime primer: You pay Amazon (now) $99 a year, and in return, you get free two-day shipping on a vast selection of what Amazon sells, and you can step up to overnight shipping for $3.99 per item. Amazon also includes a Netflix-like streaming video service containing 40,000 movies and TV shows - some popular, most not. You also get the ability to digitally borrow half a million eligible Kindle books one at a time. More info here.

This is all very unscientific, back-of-the-napkin math, but here are some stats and assumptions about my 2013 orders.

Basic Stats:

  • Total number of orders placed in 2013: 76
  • Number of Subscribe-and-Save orders: 13
  • Total number of shipments (orders + Subscribe-and-Save): 62
  • Total number of orders totaling less than $35: 31

I placed 76 orders last year, but some of these orders were multiple different orders placed on the same day or Subscribe-and-Save orders, which are basically discounted subscriptions to items that get shipped out on a set schedule (paper towels, batteries, detergent and things like that).

So when the dust had cleared, I ended up getting 62 shipments last year. Of those shipments, exactly half were orders that totaled less than $35. Amazon offers free shipping if you spend $35 or more.

Extra Shipping Charges:

  • Number of items overnighted at $3.99 per item: 5
  • Number of non-Prime orders: 1
  • Total 2013 shipment costs (Prime + extras): $104.44

I had five items overnighted at $3.99 per item ($19.95 total), I paid $79 for the membership, and I bought one item that wasn't eligible for Prime shipping. It was a t-shirt that carried $5.49 in additional shipping costs. I have no regrets about buying this shirt. None whatsoever.

So: $19.95 plus $79 plus $5.49 comes out to $104.44 - the total amount I paid for shipping last year on all my Amazon purchases.

Cost of Overnighting the Same 5 Items Without Prime:

  • Pair of shoes: $18.98
  • Wireless weather station: $18.98
  • Wig I bought but never used: $18.98
  • Another wig I bought but never used: $18.98
  • Wireless keyboard: $20.97
  • Total overnight shipping costs if not for Prime: $96.89

I would have incurred $96.89 worth of shipping costs just for the five items I chose to overnight. That's before even getting into how much I would have paid in shipping charges for orders totaling less than $35.

However, I can look you straight in the eye and tell you that there's no way I would have overnighted a single one of these items if I hadn't been able to do so for $3.99 apiece. I probably wouldn't have purchased any of these items from Amazon in the first place. The two wigs (see above photo) are my biggest regrets for several reasons, but I know deep down in the cockles of my heart that having them on-hand will someday pay off in spades. I didn't need to overnight either of them, though.

Standard Shipping Costs Without Prime:

    Total standard shipping costs on orders under $35 if not for Prime: $112.15

I fudged the numbers a bit here: I had a few orders that were shy of $35 by less than a buck, and a smattering of orders staggered within a day of each other. In a non-Prime life, I would have found something dinky to make a $34 order clear $35 and I would have been more vigilant about placing larger orders that qualified for free shipping. So I didn't count those orders in my 2013 totals. But for the rest of the one-off, sub-$35 items I ordered, I would have paid around $112 in shipping costs.

Assumptions, Advice and Conclusion:

I'm surprised at how close these two realities are. In a Prime life, I paid $104.44 in shipping charges; in a non-Prime life, I would have paid $112.15 in shipping charges.

In my case, I actually have to think a bit about whether $99 is worth it. Prime was a no-brainer for me at $79, but if I buckled down and made sure to order things only in $35-and-up clumps, I could conceivably cut shipping costs out of the equation altogether. (I'd still pay $5.49 extra for that shirt - all day long. No regrets.)

What such a scenario doesn't take into account, of course, is that Prime offers two-day shipping, whereas standard shipping is listed at five to eight days. If you live in a populated area that's relatively close to an Amazon distribution center, however, I can tell you that a standard shipment generally shows up in three days. At least, that's been my case (I live in Boston).

It also doesn't take into account the free movies and TV shows, or the free Kindle books. You could make the argument that if Amazon has the same stuff you want to watch as Netflix does, you could save $8 a month on a Netflix membership and basically offset the yearly cost of Prime. I also happened to read more Kindle books this year thanks to my Prime membership, but I can't argue that I would have paid full price for any of them otherwise.

My colleague Brad Tuttle lays out 5 ways to skirt paying $99 for Prime, the least cumbersome being to sign up for an educational discount if you have a .edu email address, or being diligent about placing $35+ orders. I'll also add that you can share a full-price Prime membership with four other people (Prime members: see the "Invite a Household Member" section on this page), so round up four friends - sorry, "household members" - and everyone can chip in $20.

And now the big question: Will I be re-upping my membership at $99 this time around?

Yes. Yes, I will. Being able to pay $4 to overnight a wig I'll probably never use is worth it to me. So is not having to look around for stuff to pad a $34 order. The two-day shipping on everything else, coupled with the video and e-book extras is icing on the cake.

But finally running the numbers after all these years has left me feeling less like Prime is a must-buy, especially now that it costs $99. If the price goes up any higher, I think that'll be it for me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 founder Steven Boal says IPO timing was right

Teresa NovellinoUpstart Business Journal Entrepreneurs & Enterprises Editor Email |Twitter

The UpTake: Startups vying for supremacy in the discount space can certainly learn from founder and chief executive officer Steven Boal, who oversaw a successful IPO Friday. It was a long time coming, but he says the time was right. founder Steven Boal had an initial public offering for his company Friday that was successful by all going-public measures: with a pop in price of nearly 100 percent after its public debut under the ticker symbol NYSE: COUP, it is a contender as one of the top IPOs so far in 2014.

After raising $168 million in its road show, shares of the coupon site jumped from $16 at the start of trading and closed at about $30 per share Friday, leaving the company with a valuation of $2.2 billion. It was a long time coming for Boal, a former Wall Street technology executive, who started the Mountain View, California-based company in 1998 during the dot-com boom when he was inspired by his father-in-law's penchant for clipping newspaper coupons and betted (correctly) that readers' eyes were going to shift to online news. may seem like an old fogey in the Internet discount world, but Boal is saying the timing felt right.

"We've been growing for 16 years and now we're operating at scale and working with our large clients and retailers in a much more meaningful way," he told Re-code after the IPO. "Bigger companies like the confidence of working with bigger companies and public companies. Institutionally, I think bigger companies don't like working with smaller companies. ... This gives them confidence that we are a long-term, financially healthy company." survived the dot-com bust era, focusing on digital coupons for groceries and health and beauty products, making money each time the coupons are printed or downloaded, or when digital Discount are used online. Its current partners include big brands like Del Monte Foods, Campbell's Soup and Walgreen's, and it reports 1.3 billion coupon transactions last year, providing coupons through deals with 700 consumer packaged goods companies representing 2,000 brands.