Praying for a Breakthrough

Posted: May 3rd, 2013 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

I used to pray for “breakthroughs.” For God to do something big, something unmistakeable to change my circumstances. Do you pray that way?

My breakthrough prayers usually sounded something like this: “O Lord, You see my situation! I really need You to come through! I need a breakthrough today!”

If it’s not finances for you, maybe it’s in your marriage you’re praying for a breakthrough. Or with one or more of your kids. Or in your work. Maybe it’s in the area of your health. I’m not suggesting you stop praying for a breakthrough, but I think there’s a better way to pray that’s more in line with how God works.

I can’t speak for you, but I know that when I’m praying for a breakthrough what I’m really saying is this: “God, I’m uncomfortable and I don’t really like it, so I want You to change my hard circumstances to pleasant ones. And I want You to do it today.”

What my breakthrough prayer is revealing is my desire for personal ease and comfort more than my desire to know God better or be conformed to His image. And yet God’s way of dealing with us isn’t to make our lives easier, it’s to make us stronger and better equipped to handle whatever comes. God’s plan is for me to know Him and trust Him to take me through, not out of my difficulties.

Look at the pattern we see in His word. God didn’t stop all the wrongs done to Joseph and then immediately rescue him when he was thrown in prison. God accomplished His purposes as Joseph went through trials not out of them. The same is true for Moses and Abraham and David and Daniel. It’s true for Jesus’ disciples. And it’s true for me and you.

God’s pattern isn’t to take us out of trials, it’s to take us through them. Rather than praying for a “breakthrough” next time, try praying for a “go through.” Trust Him for the grace, power and wisdom to go through the trial. It’s in the trial that we often experience God.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

6 Comments on “Praying for a Breakthrough”

  1. 1 Matt said at 1:05 PM on May 11th, 2013:

    I normally tend to agree with what you’ve written here (and elsewhere on your blog), but after enduring the ‘going through’ of certain negative and seemingly interminable circumstances for what seems like long enough, I’ve started to think that wishing for a ‘breakthrough’ is less a search for the easy way out than is seeking a go through merely a rationalization for the fact that things never seem to go as desired or planned.

  2. 2 Celine sale新品 said at 1:22 PM on October 3rd, 2013:

    simply don’t get all the commands you’d want for, say, a TiVo.LogitechThe $350 Harmony Ultimate is pretty nice, but also costs a pretty penny.The high-end Harmony Ultimate package works differently: The setup routine is completely Web-based since you can connect the touchscreen remote to a computer with an included USB cable. Again, it’s the same setup routine used for other high-end Harmony remotes, and you can download previously created settings and activities.The rechargeable Ultimate remote also comes with its own charging cable (the Smart Control uses batteries). While $350 is admittedly ridiculously expensive for a remote, I did find the Ultimate a joy to use, combining the user-friendly interface of the mobile apps with the greater reliability of RF communication.Bottom lineWhether with or without your smartphone as the remote, the latest Harmony Hub line represents a great improvement over its predecessor, and a worthy alternative to traditional IR-based universal remotes—especially in locations where Wi-Fi network interference isn’t a big problem.Review: LyX is an advanced but easy-to-use document processor based on LaTeX typesetting When one thinks of document editors, it’s usually Microsoft Word and Google Docs that come to mind. But in the world of word processors there are marquee names, and then there are some worthies not yet in the limelight. Advanced cross-platform document processor LyX has its merits. LyX is free and Open Source. LyX’s workflow is something of an adjustment from Microsoft Word, but learning it can pay off. The results are similar to professional typesetting.Creating our first document on LyX is as simple as any other: Go to File – New. You can copy-paste or type your first text without bothering about any formatting. To start with formatting, we will say LyX uses Environments. Environments are lot like Microsoft Word and its use of Styles to format documents with consistency. But Environments give far greater control across a variety of document types.Document processors are usually WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). LyX is WYSIWYM (What You See Is What You Mean), though the frontend does not differ much from any other document editor. The way LyX controls the layout of the document lies in the background, where it uses powerful typesetting markup language LaTeX.The default Environment is Standard. LyX has different Environments for typesetting sections, lists, sub-lists, verses, quotations, bibliography etc. Expanding the dropdown, we can choose to apply the appropriate ones and within a few clicks, our basic document now starts looking more professional. Different Text Styles can be used on the text. It can be previewed with a PDF reader.The idea is to separate the content from its presentation. Precise control over layout is a must for academic and scientific authoring. This is where LyX comes into its own. LaTeX is complicated. LyX is the friendly GUI. The program handles the final presentation, leaving the writer with only the business of writing the content. The end result is a more attractive and consistent document.Different documents like a book, a thesis, a letter etc. need to be typeset differently. LyX uses Document classes which tell it how to typeset the document so that we don’t have to bother about the distinctions. Each choice of a Document class also changes the Environments which go with it. Some are built-in but many Document classes and layout options are available online which allow us to extend LyX for all types of document processing needs.LyX is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, with unofficial ports for OS/2 and Haiku. For a fresh installation on Windows, opt for the 200MB bundle, which is fully functional and includes the complete LaTeX distribution (MiKTeX) and a bibliography manager. A 35MB update installation is available for older versions of LyX with LaTeX already installed on the system.LyX shows why the program is geared for the scientific community with its versatile Math toolbar. The Math toolbar helps us to create complex mathematical formulas easily. LyX has a detailed Math manual that explains all the features.Lyx uses MiKTeX, an up-to-date implementation of TeX/LaTeX. It is composed of packages (programs, styles, fonts etc.) that help to format and render documents. Many of the packages are optional. During the course of your text processing, the program might prompt you to update the packages if it finds that you need a custom package not available with the default installation. LyX You can search for relevant packages using the Package Manager and install them.Remember, LyX is WYSIWYM. In its raw form, the document might look like a mish-mash of brackets and typesetting elements. When you have finished with your text, render it with the default PDF reader. You can save it and render it later, or export it in many different formats (HTML, Open Document, Plain Text). On first launch, the GUI does not seem any different from a standard document processor (though it doesn’t resemble Microsoft Word’s Ribbon interface). If getting on the learning curve feels slightly overwhelming, you can avail yourself of very detailed instructions in’s Introduction, Tutorial, User Guide, and additional manuals in the Help menu.If you have a long and cluttered document waiting to be prepared, try your hand on LyX. It costs no money, and for complex scientific documents, it could end up saving you time.Note: The Download button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor’s site, where you can download the latest version of the software.Review: MacBook Pro with Retina Display redefines the concept of a ‘pro’ laptop Apple isn’t afraid to stir things up, making people rethink how they use technology. In recent years, most of that kind of innovation has focused on the iPhone, iPad, and iOS. But the , released at , now directs attention back to the Mac.The Retina MacBook Pro is not only a groundbreaking release, combining stunning performance and portability in a 15-inch Mac laptop; this model will also force you to change the way you interact with a laptop. From overhauling how you view and work with content to how you deal with external devices and connections, Apple isn’t afraid to push its customers in new directions. The Retina MacBook Pro is certainly a more-than-gentle nudge.Looking good: The Retina displayThe marquee feature of this laptop is right in the name―the Retina display. The Retina display made its debut in the , followed by the . It’s finally made its way to a Mac. You can look at the Retina display as another step in the iOS-ification of the Mac, or you can see it as I do―another way to remind you that all of these products are part of one big happy Apple family.The Retina display’s numbers are mind-boggling: 2880 by 1800 pixels―that’s 220 pixels per inch―for a total of 5.18 million pixels on a 15.4-inch backlit screen. When the Retina MacBook Pro is set at its (Best) Retina setting, it’s spectacular―the detail in photos is great, and text is the crispest and cleanest it’s ever been. For the first few hours with the Retina MacBook Pro, I even found enjoyment in reading the text of system alerts. The Retina MacBook Pro helped rekindle my appreciation for the little details of Mac OS X that, over time, I’ve taken for granted. There were no dead pixels or light leakage on the two Retina MacBook Pros I looked at, and compared to my 17-inch MacBook Pro, colors were exceedingly vibrant.With so many pixels, it’s easy to notice the amount of detail you can see in high-resolution photos. But it emphasizes the low quality of many website images. Fire up Safari and you can read an article displayed in finely rendered text, with images that now look jaggy. For anyone tuned to such nuances, it can be annoying, but don’t blame the laptop. It’s up to Web designers to start to optimize graphics for Retina displays. With the popularity of the iPhone and iPad, the addition of a Retina laptop, and the eventual adoption of high-resolution displays in non-Apple devices, it’s only a matter of time before the Web catches up.Videos on the Retina MacBook Pro look excellent. To display a 1080p video on MacBook Pro, the video is enlarged to fill the screen, since these MacBook Pros already have more pixels on the screen than on a HDTV. I didn’t notice any ghosting, and the laptop’s video card seemed to have no problem handling the video.The Retina MacBook Pro actually has two video cards―one integrated, one discrete. The integrated video card (which shares memory with the main memory, and is actually part of the CPU), is Intel’s , which is used to help preserve battery life. The discrete video card (a separate component with its own memory) is Nvidia’s GeForce GT 650M, with 1GB of video memory. The system automatically switches processors based on the activity you’re performing, so you’re not sacrificing performance while, say, playing a game. You can turn off automatic graphics switching, which then sets the Retina MacBook Pro to always use the discrete video card.With 2880-by-1800 pixels on hand, you might assume that the list of available resolutions in the Displays system preference would be unbearably long―there are 19 resolution settings for my 17-inch MacBook Pro. But that is not the case. In its ongoing effort to ease choices, Apple revamped the Displays system preference for the Retina MacBook Pro. Displays offers only five choices on a scale, which makes it much easier to find a comfortable resolution setting.To the left of the scale are settings for Larger Text, to the right are settings for More Space, and in the middle is Best (Retina). If you really need to know the resolution numbers for each setting, they appear when you mouse over each setting. For example, the leftmost Larger Text setting “Looks like 1024 x 640” pixel resolution, while the rightmost More Space setting “Looks like 1920 x 1200.”When a second display is connected and set up to expand the desktop, the resolution listing appears, specifically for the external display. When I connected the Retina MacBook Pro to my 42-inch HDTV, it instantly recognized the display, and when I turned off mirroring, I was able to choose one of four resolutions for the HDTV, and set the Retina MacBook Pro to one of the five settings mentioned above.I didn’t have a chance to install Windows on a Boot Camp partition, but Macworld Lab installs Parallels as part of the benchmark suite, and I ran Windows 7 full screen through the virtual machine. I was able to set Windows to 2880-by-1800, and I was able to use applications without a hitch. Our sister publication, PCWorld, is planning a deep look at running Windows on a Retina MacBook Pro, so look for that upcoming report.The Retina display also supports (IPS), which helps with color reproduction and viewing angles. Apple states a 178-degree viewing angle, and I don’t dispute that.A longtime concern about Apple’s screens is the reflective glare. With the Retina MacBook Pro, Apple redesigned how the display is mounted. There’s no longer a glass cover, and that, thankfully, reduces the glare. Apple says glare has been reduced by 75 percent; While I can’t scientifically test that claim, I can say that the reduction is noticeable. I don’t have to work as hard to ignore the glare as I’ve had to on previous MacBook Pros.Soon after Apple announced the Retina MacBook Pro, the company . With its support for 1920 by 1200 resolution―the native resolution of the 17-inch MacBook Pro―the Retina MacBook Pro serves as the replacement for the 17-inch model. I’m a 17-inch MacBook Pro user, and I use it because I want as much screen space as possible. Can you get the same amount of space with the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro? Yes, though the trade-off is that everything on the 15-inch screen is smaller than on a 17-inch screen. It doesn’t bother me one bit―yet. As someone who’s reached his 40s, I’m experiencing the change in vision that you expect when you get older, so it’s possible that folks with aging eyes like mine will need to make adjustments.What’s inside stays insideApple offers two models of the Retina MacBook Pro. The $2199 model has a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 6MB shared L3 cache, 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 memory, and 256GB of flash storage. (Most people call it an SSD or solid state drive, but Apple calls it flash storage.) The $2799 model has a 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 6MB shared L3 cache, 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 memory, and 512GB of flash storage.The Retina MacBook Pro processors are part of Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor technology, which are smaller and more power efficient than the previous generation of Sandy Bridge processors. Ivy Bridge processors are created using Intel’s process, while Sandy Bridge processors are processors. Ivy Bridge also supports several features that promote power efficiency. Essentially, it promises improved performance from a chip that requires less power.The processors support Intel’s , which creates two virtual cores for each physical core present in the processor. With the quad-core Core i7 processor, Hyper-Threading creates eight virtual cores. Also, the processors have , where the processing cores automatically boost its speed past the specified rate if it senses that it is running under the power and heat limits. The 2.3GHz processor in the $2199 model can boost its speed to 3.3GHz, while the 2.6GHz processor in the $2799 model goes up to 3.7GHz.Before , rumors of a 15-inch MacBook Air ran through the mill. While the Retina MacBook Pro is part of Apple’s pro laptop line―and Apple representatives stressed during the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote that the Retina MacBook Pro is a pro machine―it has definitely taken some cues from its smaller, lighter sibling. One obvious cue is with the body design; it’s thinner and lighter than its 15-inch counterparts in the “regular” MacBook Pro line. (More on the design later.) But not so obvious are the RAM and flash storage implementations―which may turn some customers off.In the Retina MacBook Pro, the RAM is part of the motherboard; there are no slots and RAM sticks, and you have to decide at the time of purchase if you want to upgrade from the standard 8GB to 16GB. You can’t upgrade the RAM after purchase. The situation is similar for the flash storage; it’s not permanently attached, like the MacBook Air, but it’s not considered a user-upgradeable part. Companies such as offer flash storage upgrade kits for the MacBook Air, and chances are you’ll see similar kits for the Retina MacBook Pro, but you’ll possibly void your warranty if you use them, and Apple won’t support such aftermarket hardware.If your idea of a “pro” machine allows you to upgrade or customize some of its parts (like the Mac Pro, Apple’s most customizable computer), then the Retina MacBook Pro will be a disappointment. However, that message has been on the wall, starting with the , and reinforced with the 2010 ―you can even look to the iPhone and iPad. Apple did not change the design of the regular 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro, so you still have the ability to upgrade RAM and storage later on in the life of those machines.Upgrading to 16GB of memory adds $200 to the price of either Retina model. Unfortunately, the $2199 model does not have an option to upgrade the 256GB of flash storage. The $2799 model has a 768GB flash storage upgrade for an additional $500.Faster connections: USB 3.0, ThunderboltOn one side of the Retina MacBook Pro, you’ll find a MagSafe 2 connector for power, two Thunderbolt ports, a USB 3.0 port, and a headphone jack. On the other side, there’s another USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, and a SDXC card slot.USB 3.0 has long been on PCs, and it’s finally―finally!―made its way on to the Mac. With the widespread availability of USB 3.0 storage devices, Mac users will now be able to tap into the speed benefits of USB 3.0. The USB ports are compatible with USB 2.0, so you can still use USB 2.0 devices, though you won’t see an additional speed boost. is the high-speed connector here. Thunderbolt’s specification states data throughput of up to 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps) per channel, though the actual speed depends on the connected Thunderbolt device.Thunderbolt is also used to connect displays such as Apple’s (?) or a Mini DisplayPort display like Apple’s (?). The Retina MacBook Pro can drive two external displays; you can connect a pair of Thunderbolt Displays, or a Thunderbolt Display and a Cinema Display, or even a display connected through the Thunderbolt port and a display connected to HDMI. With two displays connected, the laptop’s display is still available to use.Missing featuresWhat’s missing? Ethernet―the Retina MacBook Pro comes with 802.11n, and Apple sells a for $29. (You could perhaps use a USB to ethernet adapter, though I haven’t tried one.) There’s no FireWire 800, which I think is a bigger issue than the lack of ethernet, since FireWire devices are still common with Mac users. Apple will probably sell a lot of its new Thunderbolt to FireWire 800 adapters ―it’s too bad it’s not an included accessory. There’s no Kensington lock slot either, so you’ll need to find another way to secure the Retina MacBook Pro to a desk.Also missing is a SuperDrive, to no surprise. In my own personal use, I use the SuperDrive only to make backup copies of the DVD movies my kids get as presents, maybe five or six discs per year. I can’t remember the last time I burned data to an optical disc; too many times I’ve had a backup DVD that went bad, and I have USB flash drives I can use for times I can’t transfer a file over the network or the Internet. If you need a SuperDrive, you’ll have to get an external drive, such as Apple’s $79 .A not-so-obvious missing feature is an ExpressCard/34 slot, which was only available on the 17-inch MacBook Pro. The Retina MacBook Pro has no ExpressCard slot, so you’ll have to find other ways to get the functionality you’re used to having with an ExpressCard. For example, 3G connectivity: You can use a USB 3G modem, or you can use tethering on your iPhone.The Retina MacBook Pro uses a MagSafe 2 connector, the same kind that is used on the MacBook Air. The regular MacBook Pros continue to use the older MagSafe connector, and MagSafe 2 and MagSafe are not the same size. You can’t plug in a MagSafe 2 adapter into a MagSafe plug, and vice versa. If you want to use a MagSafe adapter with the Retina MacBook Pro, you’ll need a $10 . There is no MagSafe 2 to MagSafe converter.Slimmer bodyAt first glance, the Retina MacBook Pro looks a lot like the regular 15-inch MacBook Pro and the aluminum body design is essentially the same. The major difference is the thickness. With the lid closed, the Retina MacBook Pro measures 0.71 inches, while the regular 15-inch MacBook Pro is nearly an inch tall. The thin profile of the Retina MacBook Pro aids portability, but it also helps alleviate the discomfort you might have (as I do) with the edge of the laptop cutting into your wrist as you type. The angle isn’t as steep as it is with the regular 15-inch MacBook Pro, but it’s not like the tapered edge on the MacBook Air. It seems that Apple decided not to create a tapered edge in order to maximize the amount of battery inside.The Retina MacBook Pro weighs 4.46 pounds, which is nearly a pound lighter than the regular 15-inch MacBook Pro, and more than 2 pounds lighter than the 17-inch MacBook Pro. Lighter is better―that’s a given―but what’s impressive about the Retina MacBook Pro’s weight is that its 4.46 pounds feels evenly distributed. Of course, it’s a bit heavier toward the screen, but it’s also not too light in the area around the trackpad, so if you carry the laptop while it’s open (admit it, you’ve done that more times that you’d like anyone to know), the laptop won’t suddenly tip over.A minor cosmetic note: One thing you’ll notice with the open Retina MacBook Pro is that the MacBook Pro logo is no longer at the bottom of the screen. It’s on the bottom of the laptop. Apple got rid of the cover glass for the display, and the logo was part of the cover glass. Apple decided to not put the logo on the bezel of the display.Two other changes: The power button replaces the optical drive eject button on the keyboard, and there’s no longer a battery life indicator on the hardware.Benchmarks: How does it compare?To gauge the performance of the two new Retina MacBook Pro models, Macworld Lab tested the $2199 and $2799 models using , our benchmark suite of real-world applications and tasks.Macworld Lab testing by James Galbraith, Mauricio Grijalva, William Wang, and Kean BartelmanImpressively, the 2.6GHz Core i7 Retina MacBook Pro isn’t just the fastest laptop we’ve tested, it’s the fastest Mac we’ve tested, posting a remarkable 330 Speedmark 7 score. The isn’t far behind, with a score of 319. The previous fastest laptop was a , and the fastest desktop Mac we’ve tested was a .Compared to the fastest new 15-inch regular MacBook Pro with a 2.6GHz Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 5400-rpm 750GB hard drive, the 2.6GHz Core i7 Retina MacBook Pro is 38 percent faster, and the 2.3GHz Core i7 Retina MacBook Pro is 33 percent faster.If you look at the scores for last year’s MacBook Pros, the new 2.6GHz Core i7 Retina MacBook Pro is a whopping 51 percent faster. The comparison with the new 2.3GHz Core i7 Retina MacBook Pro is just as impressive; it’s 46 percent faster.How We Tested: We duplicated a 2GB file, created a Zip archive in the Finder from the two 2GB files, and then unzipped it.How We Tested: In Pages ’09 we converted and opened a 500-page Microsoft Word document. In iMovie ’11, we imported a two-minute clip from a camera archive, and performed a Share Movie to iTunes for Mobile Devices function. How We Tested: In iTunes, we converted 135 minutes of AAC audio files to MP3 using the High Quality setting. In Handbrake 0.9.5, we encoded a single chapter (to H.264 using the application’s Normal settings) from a DVD that was previously ripped to the hard drive. In Cinebench, we recorded how long it took to render a scene with multiprocessors. How We Tested: We installed Parallels 6 and ran WorldBench 6’s Multitask test. In Photoshop CS5, we ran an action script on a 100MB image file. How We Tested: In Aperture 3 we performed an Import and Process on 207 photos. In iPhoto ’11, we imported 500 photos.How We Tested: We ran Mathematica 8’s Evaluate Notebook Test.It’s the flash storage that gives the Retina MacBook Pros a serious boost. Compared to the new regular MacBook Pros, the Retina laptops see serious gains in disk-based activities, such as in our Duplicate 2GB Folder test, Zip 4GB Folder test, and Unzip 4GB File test. In other tests where the storage device comes into play (Import iMovie Archive, Aperture Import, iPhoto Import), the Retina laptops held an advantage.In other tests that aren’t so disk dependent and more CPU focused, the Retina laptops and the new regular MacBook Pros were within range of each other, such as in our HandBrake Encode test, Pages Import test, MathematicaMark, and the Cinebench CPU test.The one test where the new regular MacBook Pros clearly pulled away from the Retina laptops is in our Portal 2 frame rate test. The regular 2.6GHz Core i7 MacBook Pro was 9 percent faster than its Retina counterpart with the same processor. The regular 2.3GHz Core i7 MacBook Pro was 4 percent faster than the 2.6GHz Core i7 Retina MacBook Pro, but it was 17 percent faster that 2.3GHz Core i7 Retina MacBook Pro. Even though the Retina laptops and the regular MacBook Pros have the same graphics hardware (the regular 2.3 GHz MacBook Pro’s GeForce GT 650M has 512MB of memory, versus 1GB in the other three laptops), the Retina displays have so many more pixels to push that it can affect the frame rate in games.How We Tested: In Cinebench, we ran that application’s OpenGL frames-per-second test. Using Steam and Steam for Mac, we created a self-running demo for Portal and recorded the frames-per-second rating.Macworld is in the process of testing the four standard configurations of the new regular MacBook Pros. We’ll have a detailed review coming soon.We have a list of Speedmark scores that compares the new Retina MacBook Pros to , which includes some Mac models from 2009 to late 2011.Heat and noiseI don’t have lab-produced test results, but I’ll give my subjective observations. The Retina MacBook Pro, while running the Diablo III installer, warmed up, but not enough to make me uncomfortable while it rested in my lap. The heat was from the center of the bottom of the laptop, and it didn’t seem to radiate beyond that. The fans did not kick in.After Diablo III finished its installation, I ran the game. I was able to select 2880-by-1800 in the game’s settings, and during gameplay, the fans are definitely running and noticeable. The laptop heated up immediately, in the forward part of the bottom, underneath the keyboard where the GPU and CPU are located, and it heated up enough for me to move the laptop to a desk.I watched several YouTube videos and iTunes movie trailers, all streaming 1080p or 720p over the Internet. The laptop got a bit warmer than when I installed Diablo III, but not hot enough for me to need to move the laptop off my lap. I wasn’t able to trigger the fans while doing this, and the videos ran smoothly.I also used Handbrake to convert a movie file for my iPhone―the Retina MacBook Pro doesn’t have an optical drive and I didn’t try ripping a DVD or CD using an external drive. The file conversion took less than 5 minutes, during which time the fans did not run, and the laptop did not noticeably heat up.Battery lifeThe Retina display is power-hungry; you need a lot of juice to move all those pixels. The Retina MacBook Pro’s built-in battery is rated at 95 watt-hours. By comparison, the regular 15-inch MacBook Pro is rated at 77.5 watt-hours. The Retina MacBook Pro has a much bigger battery.However, Apple rates the battery life of all its 15-inch MacBook Pros at 7 hours of what the company calls “wireless web” use. When Macworld Lab tests battery life, we use a more rigorous test. We loop a movie file in full screen mode in QuickTime Pro until the battery is drained. This drains the battery faster than general use that involves Web access.Both Retina laptops lasted about five hours in our test. Even with their larger batteries, they didn’t last as long as the regular 15-inch MacBook Pros, which lasted several minutes longer. The previous generation of 15-inch MacBook Pros actually outlasted the new models by a significant margin.The new definition of “pro”Apple’s idea of “pro”―at least for laptops―doesn’t involve customizable hardware, which means a few hardcore users are at a crossroads. You can still buy the regular MacBook Pro, open it up, and have your way with it, but I’m guessing it won’t be too long before that design too follows the 17-inch MacBook Pro into discontinued status.So, what is Apple’s idea of a “pro” laptop? For now, it’s the Retina MacBook Pro, which is philosophically very close to the MacBook Air. Obviously, it’s light, it’s smaller than before, but the missing features force you to adjust, as with the MacBook Air. The “pro” aspect, in this case, refers to the performance; the general CPU speed matches the regular MacBook Pro (when you factor in the flash storage, the Retina MacBook Pro blazes past the regular laptops), so no performance compromises are made, and the performance is several notches past the MacBook Air.Macworld’s buying adviceWith the Retina MacBook Pro, Apple once again proves it is a company that refuses to sit still and get comfortable. It redefined the ultraportable laptop with the MacBook Air, and has now altered the concept of the “pro” laptop. Going lighter and smaller was expected, given how Apple does things, but the change in feature set will have current MacBook Pro owners reexamining their needs.One thing to consider: Customers actually have more laptop choices now than than they’ve had since the demise of the MacBook. There are three different types to choose from: the MacBook Air, the regular MacBook Pro, and the Retina MacBook Pro. It’s a good variety that ranges in price from $999 to $2799, not including BTO options.The Retina MacBook Pro, however, is the future of Apple’s laptop line―and it’s a bright, shining symbol of excellence. The Retina display is something to be marveled at, and the lightweight, smaller design addresses the demand for our devices to be even more portable. You’ll have to make a few adjustments, but fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice performance. The Retina MacBook Pro is quite a remarkable laptop.Editor’s note: Updated at 6/15/12 at 8 a.m. PT to correct a price reference to the 2.6GHz Core i7 model. Updated on 6/18/12 at 7:30 p.m. PT to add a link to Speedmark 7 scores.Review: Magix Page & Layout Designer includes advanced tools for beginner users Printed media may seem to be heading the way of the dinosaur, but until the proverbial meteor hits a stack of business cards, box of letterhead, or freshly-printed brochures on their way to a conference, we’ll continue adding paper and ink (and the odd PDF) to our marketing cache.MAGIX Page & Layout Designer ($150)? anticipates the needs of a growing business by providing a single source for designing anything from a single logo to business cards to a multi-page brochure. However, if you are a ($89) fan, you will recognize the UI instantly, and may be left feeling ripped off. It’s so hard to find a difference between the two apps, it seems that MAGIX has repackaged Xara with added templates and an inflated pricetag (although Page & Layout Designer is currently on sale for $90).About a dozen template themes are included in the MAGIX Page & Layout Designer download (you can’t access or view them all in the trial). Choose a theme that suits your business, then open business card, brochure, and letterhead templates that all match the theme and are fully customizable with your own logo, text, images, etc. There are about 100 templates in total. All are royalty-free, and many verge on stylish, but organization isn’t great. It can be hard to find the matching brochure to your business card design.MAGIX Page & Layout Designer’s slide-out bitmap gallery could mean you never need to hunt and gather on the server for your company’s logo again.Customizing the templates is pretty easy with MAGIX Page & Layout Designer, even if you don’t have any design training or experience. For example, a snap function helps you align objects, text is set to automatically flow around your images, and you can chose to work without or without layers.If you do have prior experience, setting up a page from scratch also is simple and intuitive. Plus, you can easily use MAGIX Page & Layout Designer to create logos and other vector drawings without too much difficulty; and use the photo tools to adjust and manipulate your images. Refer to the Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 2013 review for more detail on how drawing and image editing tools work, since these are identical.Currently, ($59) is included in the Page & Layout Designer download for free, and also includes some additional basic photo manipulation tools as well as the ability to organize your images. On the surface, this looks like a great deal. However, you may not need Photo Manager at all, as MAGIX Page & Layout Designer includes a slide-out bitmap gallery. With it, you can save and access all of your logos, logotypes, images etc. for any of your projects. However, I wish it were easier to organize things, and would love to be able to add text boxes (so you never again have to cut and paste your mission statement and other often-used blocks of text).It seems like MAGIX is trying to reach a new audience with Page & Layout Designer, with no mention of its powerful vector drawing tools and super-easy photo editing in their marketing of the product. But the non-sale pricetag is steep unless you were actually considering also purchasing the bundled Photo Manager MX Deluxe. If you already own Xara Photo & Graphic Designer (or , the $299 heavy-lifter in the family) you are going to be an unhappy T-Rex who’ll want to eat MAGIX for lunch.Note: The Download button on the Product Information page will download the software to your system.Review: Mailstrom puts you in control of your email Many companies claim to have the solution for email overload, but few deliver. That’s why I was wary of Mailstrom, a (currently) free service that promises to deliver the elusive “inbox zero”—a state of being so far out of my reach, I’m not even sure what it means. But after testing Mailstrom, I was pleasantly surprised at just how close I came to achieving that sought-after state.Mailstrom works with any IMAP email account. All you have to do is you enter your email address and it goes to work, analyzing your account. I sat back and waited while it “loaded” my account—and it didn’t take too long, considering that the account holds more than 22,000 messages. Once the loading process is complete, you head over to your Web-based dashboard to see Mailstrom’s analysis of your account.Mailstrom lets you browse the contents of your inbox by sender, subject, and more.Mailstrom displays a very detailed analysis of your email, showing you messages by sender, subject, time, and size, as well as those from certain mailing lists and social networks. Under each category, you can browse the most common traits…and it can be eye-opening to see who sends you the most messages and what subject lines are commonly used. Mailstrom uses a three-column view that’s similar to Outlook: The first column shows the categories, while the second column shows more detail on the selected category, and the third column lets you see lists of messages or the content of a specific one.But that’s all it does, and at first, I wasn’t sure what to think. Many of the email clean-up services I’ve tried, such as and , do more work for you, sorting your bulk mail into folders that you can scan when you want to peruse their contents. But that approach didn’t work well for me, an admitted control freak. I found myself too concerned that I was missing out on important messages (which I sometimes was, as none of their sorting systems was perfect).Mailstrom makes it easy to delete hundreds of emails with the click of a mouse.That’s why I like Mailstrom so much: It leaves you in control. It shows you the problems with your inbox, and lets you solve them yourself. For example, when I realized that I was storing more than 1,000 messages from the very editor who assigned me this review, I realized I need to create a folder just for her—a task I was able to easily accomplish from within Mailstrom. When I saw that I had hundreds of messages from a bookstore that’s no longer in business, I was able to delete them all in one fell swoop.The one feature Mailstrom is lacking is an unsubscribe option. It would be nice to see the hundreds of marketing messages I get, and then be able to unsubscribe from them instantly. does include an unsubscribe feature, but its filtering approach makes the service more able to make sure you no longer receive the messages you don’t want. Mailstrom instead leaves you in control, and the benefits of that are worth the inconvenience of having to handle the unsubscribing yourself.Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor’s site, where you can use the latest version of this Web-based software.Review: Maingear’s Shift Super Stock Z87 is an exercise in PC gaming decadence Booting up Maingear’s Shift Super Stock Z87 was a bit of a letdown. Given its $8000 price tag, I expected this high-performance hot rod to greet me with the throaty rumble of a precision-tuned sports car. But it didn’t make a sound because each of its ultra-premium components is water-cooled and whisper quiet.At the top of the component list is Intel’s Core i7-4770K CPU―the pinnacle of the chip company’s ―and it’s overclocked to an insane 4.7GHz. You’ll also find three (yes, three) video cards based on Nvidia’s best GPU, the GeForce GTX Titan, each with 6GB of GDDR5 memory. There’s also?16GB of DDR3/2400 system memory, and not one, not two, but four of the best 256GB SSD we’ve tested―Samsung’s 840 Pro―configured as RAID 0 for blistering speed.ROBERT CARDINThe Maingear Shift Super Stock Z87 is a mean, green gaming machine. It’s a stupefying level of computing power, one that sets the bar for what an elite gaming PC should be. And this machine’s very existence demonstrates the enduring strength and appeal of the PC gaming market. Indeed, high-end gaming PCs like the Shift Z87 despite a in overall PC sales, and it’s not crazy to suggest that as more people abandon budget PCs and laptops in favor of tablets, premium hardware like the Shift will keep the PC gaming market afloat.The Maingear Shift Super Stock Z87 turned in an exceptional Desktop WorldBench 8.1 score. The Shift Z87’s Desktop WorldBench 8.1 score of 435 means it’s more than four times faster than our reference system, the modest . In fact, it’s the fastest desktop PC we’ve ever encountered. While that overall score is only modestly higher than the 421 that MicroFlex’s significantly cheaper earned, the Shift Z87 blew the competition out of the water when we benchmarked it playing the latest games at very high resolution.The MicroExpress 47B, for example, couldn’t deliver a playable frame rate with BioShock when we set the game’s resolution to 2560 by 1600 pixels and its visual quality to Ultra. That’s because the 47B is equipped with just one GeForce GTX 680 video card. The Shift Z87’s three Titan cards enabled it to play the game at that resolution at a mind-blowing 135 frames per second.ROBERT CARDINLiquid cooling and a unique vertically oriented case enabled Maingear to significantly overclock the system. As impressive as that is, the madness doesn’t stop there: The PCWorld lab team hooked the Shift Z87 up to three HD monitors and played Crysis 3 at a resolution of 5760 by 1440 pixels, all while achieving a consistent frame rate of 28 fps. That’s impressive performance, but more importantly it proves that all this power can afford you a real competitive advantage when playing games that challenge your situational awareness. Excelling during a Crysis 3 or Call of Duty deathmatch is easier when you can see everything in a 270-degree radius without moving your head.High-resolution gaming is certainly no obstacle, as the Maingear Shift’s BioShock performance indicates. But you don’t need to be a gamer to appreciate the Shift Z87’s exceptional performance. This machine also placed first in nearly every one of the productivity-oriented benchmarks that make up the WorldBench 8.1 suite, including PCMark 7 Productivity and each of the media editing and encoding tests we run.The Shift Z87’s signature chassis orients the motherboard 90 degrees to the right so that the ports and fans that are normally on the back of the PC are located on top. This leaves heat-generating components, such as the video cards, hanging from their brackets. This vertical orientation reduces the stress that the very heavy Titan cards place?on the PCIe slots, but Maingear also wisely mounted a bracket on each card for even more support. And because hot air rises, vertical channels between the cards keep the video cards cooler than they would be if they were mounted in a more conventional stacked configuration.ROBERT CARDINOn most computers, this shot would be of the rear panel. On the Maingear Shift, it’s a top-down view. This design is complemented by a proprietary, open-loop, liquid-cooling system that chills not just the CPU but also the motherboard’s voltage regulators to allow for higher overclocking. This also enables the system to run extremely quietly―I rarely heard the fans spin up to to full speed, even while gaming. You can gaze at all this hardware―helpfully illuminated by an internal white-LED light bar―through a clear side panel on the chassis. And that leads to one of my few complaints: The latch on that panel doesn’t easily disengage. I had to gently wrestle with it whenever I wanted to poke around inside.This machine can also deliver top-drawer performance with media editing and encoding chores. The Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 motherboard at the heart of this beast delivers pretty much every connection option your heart could desire: a PS/2 jack, two USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, and a pair of gigabit ethernet jacks. And each video card has HDMI, DisplayPort, and DVI outputs. And there’s a full complement of audio input and output connectors for microphones, headsets, and speakers. A slick recessed panel near the front of the Shift’s topside pops up to reveal a a memory card reader, another pair of audio in/out jacks, two more USB 3.0 ports, and a mini-DVI port.Most of us aren’t in a position to drop eight grand on a computer, no matter how powerful it might be. But the Maingear Shift Z87 sits at the apex of personal computing, and it’s always fun to lay hands on a super-powerful, lovingly crafted PC such as this―even if you’d have to be a high-rolling, Lamborghini-driving, trust-fund baby to afford one.Review: MapiCase’s Orion case for the iPhone 5 offers more style than protection The first thing I noticed about Mapi’s $90 is its stylish look, with a soft leather exterior and leathery smell. Upon closer inspection, however, I found that the case emphasizes style over protection, and the high-quality feel is limited to its looks. I reviewed a red Orion, but you have your choice between white, black, brown, or tan as well.Mapi’s Orion covers your iPhone enough to protect against scratches and nicks, but won’t stave off damage if your iPhone slips out of your hands and hits a hard surface. The case is too bulky to easily fit in a smaller pants pocket, so it’s best suited for people who keep their iPhone in a bag or purse.To install the case, you slide your iPhone in from the bottom and wrap a small flap around the bottom of the phone. At first, I seriously questioned that this small, wrap-around tab could stop my iPhone from falling out, but no matter how much I shook the case, my iPhone wouldn’t budge. There’s no way to use the iPhone with a dock-cradle accessory while in the case, but it’s easy to slide out the phone to dock.The Orion has a front flap that covers the bottom of the iPhone and its screen when not in use, and is held in place by two magnets at the top of the case. Unfortunately, the magnets feel weak and don’t do a great job of holding on to the flap when you slide your phone into a pocket. There is a small cutout to plug in headphones with the flap covering the phone, but the flap either gets in the way or just unplugs your headphones if you try to use your iPhone at the same time.Just like Apple’s Smart Cover for the iPad, the Mapi case’s front cover folds back to create a stand to hold up your iPhone in portrait orientation. There’s also a back panel that rotates to prop your iPhone up in landscape orientation. The stand is easy to set up and feels secure enough to hold up my iPhone to watch videos or conduct a FaceTime chat.This rotating back panel doubles as both a stand and a handle. When you rotate it 90 degrees, it juts out to create a nice place to grip your iPhone if you’re recording video or taking photos. However, the back panel makes the case bulky and is hard to rotate around, as it tends to stick.?The Orion has cutouts for the Sleep/Wake button, earpiece, front and back cameras, and ring/silent switch, and press through overlays for the volume buttons. A small leather flap protects the Lightning port, which can be easily moved for charging. I had no trouble using any of the buttons or switches, and the case didn’t obstruct the back camera or flash.Bottom lineThe Mapi Orion case is big on style, but low on protection. It’s bulky and doesn’t feel great to hold, but makes up for it with a nice leather exterior. The Orion might win you some style points, but it’s not the case for you if you’re rough with your iPhone.Review: MarkdownPad makes composing Markdown even easier than usual HTML is the lingua franca of the Web. If you publish anything online, that’s the format your text will end up in. But while easy for browsers to render, HTML isn’t always easy (or fun) to compose. Some content management systems, like , solve this problem by offering a WYSIWYG editor that lets you edit visually. For those who prefer the simplicity and ubiquity of plain text, Markdown is the way to go—and MarkdownPad Pro is a simple editor that lets you compose Markdown and view your results instantly. MarkdownPad’s instant preview mode makes it easy to see what your final HTML is going to look like.By default, MarkdownPad Pro shows a split interface, with your text taking up the left side of the window and an instantly-rendered output taking up the right—much like online Markdown editor If you find the live preview pane distracting (as I do), you can hit F5 to toggle it. If you do like it, but don’t like the vertical layout, a quick tap on F4 switches the editor to a horizontal layout with the preview pane under the editing pane.Markdown is the format of choice for many writers, and MarkdownPad 2 contains several writer-friendly features: A live word count on the status bar, squiggly lines denoting typos, and frequent automatic saving are just a few. One feature that’s notably missing is the ability to copy formatted text as rich text, for pasting into Microsoft Word or other rich-text aware editors–something free editor WriteMonkey offers. On the plus side, MarkdownPad 2 lets you directly export a PDF document from your Markdown source.If you find the instant preview distracting, you can easily toggle it off and enjoy just the Markdown syntax highlighting.Markdown is a lightweight format, so your text shouldn’t be drowning in tags and angle brackets. Still, it does have its own conventions for links, titles, and text emphasis–and MarkdownPad offers syntax highlighting that makes it easy to see if you got the syntax right. It also offers toolbar buttons and keyboard shortcuts for many of the syntax constructs, but unfortunately doesn’t let you customize the shortcut keys. Ctrl+K, which I would expect to insert a link, instead inserts the token for a code block (Ctrl+L inserts a link).If you find Markdown too restrictive for your needs and require more power, you may want to try . This is an enhanced version of the Markdown syntax, including refinements like Markdown inside HTML blocks, and definition lists. MarkdownPad 2 supports Markdown Extra, as well as GitHub-flavored Markdown, for composing text destined for the open-source powerhouse.MarkdownPad ships with several rendering presents, but you can edit them or add new ones if you know CSS.MarkdownPad 2 is solid, but not spectacular. I am not convinced the commercial version justifies the $15 price tag, given Markdown’s inherent simplicity and the availability of free, powerful alternatives such as and . That said, it does get the job done, and the instant preview goes a long way towards ensuring your document ends up the way you want it to, without having to make last-minute tweaks to get things to render correctly. If you’re disappointed with the free alternatives, MarkdownPad 2 might be worth a try.Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor’s site, where you can download the latest version of the software.Review: Mash your motor with Euro Truck Simulator 2 I never thought a truck-driving simulator could be fun, but Euro Truck Simulator 2 proved me wrong. There is something soothing in watching the world go by from the high and mighty cockpit of a Volvo FH16 Globetrotter XL. If you are used to more traditional racing games, getting used to the way trucks handle in the game may take some time. They really do feel like trucks: Slow to accelerate, jarringly fast to brake thanks to air brakes, ungainly to maneuver, and immensely powerful.Euro Truck Simulator 2 offers a vast network of roads to drive on, with many missions to pick from.In this decidedly niche title, you find yourself in the driver’s seat of a full-trailer truck, hauling freight across Europe. Vehicle interiors are painstakingly rendered, and countryside views are breathtaking. The climate and time of day change, so you could find yourself enjoying a balmy spring day in one ride, and trying to navigate under torrential rain in the middle of the night in the next.With its superb graphics and realistic truck cockpits, Euro Truck Simulator 2 makes long-haul trucking quite attractive.You start the game as a freelance driver for hire, taking on trucking jobs across the continent. From one job to the next, you gain experience, unlock abilities, and set aside a nice nest egg you can eventually use to buy a truck of your own and start a trucking company.Euro Truck Simulator 2 has you carry diverse types of cargo, including heavy industrial tanks.Euro truck simulator lets you customize the controls and decide just how much of the driving you want the game to do, and how much you want to handle on your own. Manually switching gears on a truck hauling 20 tons of ore while navigating through a massive open pit mine is no mean feat…which is why it’s nice to have the game take care of that detail for you, at least as you’re getting started.Just like in the real world, Euro Truck Simulator 2 uses a GPS to help you get where you’re trying to go.Euro Truck Simulator 2′s attention to detail, convincing physics, and striking visuals transcend its niche status. This is a game so well-made, it can make you a fan of the category just by virtue of its sheer quality alone. The demo’s enough fun that you’ll find yourself speeding to buy the full game for $40.Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor’s site, where you can download the latest version of the software.Review: Master Gmail’s Keyboard Shortcuts with KeyRocket Engineers love keyboard shortcuts. So, like most Google products, Gmail offers you the ability to do pretty much anything with a keypress, from composing a new message (c for compose) to going back to the main list of emails (u for up). These keyboard shortcuts are one of Gmail’s best features: they let you compose, archive, forward, and reply to messages, move between labels, search, and more, all without reaching for your mouse.Alas, they’re also hard to learn. After enabling keyboard shortcuts in the Settings screen, you can hit “?” to get a semi-transparent overlay listing all shortcuts. For some people, looking at a long list isn’t the best way to learn–and KeyRocket thinks it can do better. Every time you use the mouse to do something your keyboard can do, KeyRocket would let you know.Veodin’s KeyRocket for Gmail sits in the background as you use Gmail, and quietly watches your every move. As soon as you tick the checkbox next to a message (to select it), it pops up a discreet notification letting you know you could have just hit “x” on your keyboard to do the same thing. When you hit the Reply button, KeyRocket informs you that “r” would have worked just as well.Because the messages are contextual, they are much more useful than a help sheet: You learn in bite-sized chunks, and only about those functions you actually use.KeyRocket makes key combinations easy to understand.KeyRocket isn’t perfect: Ideally, it should be able to tell when you already know a shortcut, and just prefer using the mouse now and then for the same function. KeyRocket shouldn’t tell me about the “#” shortcut the one time I use the mouse click the button.Still, despite this minor flaw, KeyRocket is an excellent learning aid for Gmail.Note: The Download button takes you to the Chrome Web store, where you can install the latest version directly into your Chrome browser.Review: Metro: Last Light is the most fun you’ll have in post-apocalyptic Russia Following in the footsteps of 2010’s Metro 2033, Metro: Last Light improves upon the gameplay of its predecessor without destroying what made the series great in the first place: the setting. Last Light takes you back to the post-apocalyptic Russian wasteland, employing an excellent soundtrack and bleak, desolate imagery to deliver a first-person shooter with surprising pathos and one of the most genuine game narratives in recent memory.Boot up Last Light and you’ll be dropped into the boots of Artyom–a man haunted by memories of his mother, or lack thereof–as he attempts to leave the Russian Metro to capture “a dark one”, monstrous remnants of the world before it was devastated by all-out nuclear war. Of course, nothing goes smoothly for Artyom, and along the way you’ll be captured by other survivors and work together with another captive, Pavel, to orchestrate an escape. Artyom’s quest ranges across the Russian wasteland, ultimately leading you through areas devastated by nuclear destruction and nests of enemies mutated by the apocalypse before culminating in one of the coolest and most intense firefight finales I’ve ever experienced.In Last Light you’ll leave the underground Metro to explore the desolate surface, and you’ll need to carefully shield yourself from the fallout if you want to survive long up here.But frenetic, fast-paced combat is tiresome without a meaningful reason to fight, and Metro: Last Light tells a meaningful story through emotionally-charged flashbacks to the moment the nuclear missiles struck, and how that moment affected the Russian people. It’s a series of powerful scenes scattered throughout the 9-12 hour campaign that don’t force themselves on you, allowing different players to experience as much–or as little–of the narrative as they like. That’s one of Metro’s greatest strengths: it doesn’t force anything on the player. There’s plenty of optional areas to explore at your leisure, allowing you to intuitively control how long you spend in Metro: Last Light’s bleak alternate reality.Moment to moment, the actions you’re taking in Metro: Last Light are very similar to those you performed in Metro 2033: exploring, scrounging, and fighting for your life with a hodgepodge of unique and innovative post-apocalyptic weapons. Even your weapons tell a story, like the handmade submachine gun that has a magazine that slides left-to-right, through the weapon, as shots are fired. It’s a little thing, but idiosyncratic touches like this do an excellent job of showcasing the unique, alien nature of Metro’s alternate reality Russia.Of course, those crazy cobbled-together weapons can be customized to fit your tactical preferences using Military-Grade ammunition, high-quality bullets manufactured before the apocalypse and now used in Metro as a form of currency. Paying a gunsmith to modify your armament with a silencer, lasersight, stock or foregrip is a simple way to significantly change the characteristics of each weapon, allowing you to tailor the game to your liking.The soldiers of Metro rely on an assortment of pre-apocalyptic firearms and improvised weaponry to defend their territory.Your limited inventory also forces you to make some meaningful tactical decisions: mod a semi-automatic pistol to be fully automatic and pair it with extended clips, for example, and you can use your new pistol to replace the submachine gun in your inventory. That in turn allows you to drop (or sell) the SMG, using the newly-opened space in your three-slot inventory for a long-range tool like the rifle. It’s a seemingly small decision that could mean the difference between living and dying when you’re exploring the wasteland on your own.Metro’s score is one of the best in the business and continues to establish not only the singular tone for any particular moment within the game, but a consistent and omnipresent theme throughout the entire narrative experience. Pair this with the spot-on sound effects–terrifying gunfire, wet gurgling screams, the frantic cries of communication between both enemies and the occasional comrade–and you’ll a sense of aural immersion to rival that of any great blockbuster war flick. The sound design remains exceptional throughout the game, though there’s a bit of weirdness with characters occasionally acting out of sync with their audio.Play Metro: Last Light on a powerful gaming PC with a good set of speakers if you can–you’ll be amazed at how engrossing the bleak landscape and stirring soundtrack can be.Unfortunately, for as strong as Metro: Last Light is, it suffers from a myriad of bugs and issues that can often disrupt the atmosphere it works so hard to evoke. Crashes to the desktop and random minimization happen all too frequently, destroying any sense of pacing that you might have.Occasional hard locks and freezes join the list of serious technical problems, but by far the most frustrating bug I came across was the seemingly random times that the player would become immobile and unresponsive, regardless of whether I was using the keyboard or the gamepad. It usually happens when both the protagonist and an enemy–especially the mutated creatures–make a melee attack at the same time, causing Artyom to become unresponsive, almost as if stunned.Bugs aside, Metro: Last Light still isn’t for everyone. It suffers from a lack of direction that often left me backtracking and searching the same areas multiple times before figuring out what to do or where to go. Some may find this lack of guidance charming, but it feels like even the most simple of navigational suggestions are absent and the experience suffers for it.But the main challenge of Metro: Last Light isn’t just poor directions–the game is hard. The two difficulty settings, Normal and Ranger (a special, harder difficulty setting that was made available as DLC to players who preordered the game) are a perfect balance of what you want in a game like Metro. I can’t speak to Ranger mode, but Normal is just hard enough that it forces you to slow down and think tactically in situations where, in other first-person shooters, you’d normally just run through guns blazing. That kind of recklessness will get you killed immediately in Last Light.Despite its technical flaws and poor guidance, Metro: Last Light is a uniquely challenging and heartfelt experience, a bleak first-person shooter that does more with its narrative that some films. It works well as an isolated experience too, making it a great entry point into the Metro series.Review: Microsoft Flight looks beautiful, might as well stay grounded Microsoft Flight is the current incarnation of a long and illustrious franchise of games, dating back to 1977. Unlike SimCity, you can start playing Microsoft Flight for free: Simply download the game and embark on a series of missions planned to both teach you the basics of flight, and hook you into buying later missions and additional aircraft. Microsoft Flight is the last of its kind: Microsoft permanently stopped work on the game in July 2012, just a few short months after releasing it. The futuristic Icon A5 Deluxe is not yet in production, but you can fly it in Microsoft Flight.Microsoft Flight’s graphics are gorgeous, and the scenery feels realistic. Hawaii serves as the backdrop for the first introductory missions, in which you get to fly two aircraft bundled with the free download: A thoroughly modern Icon Deluxe light aircraft and a WWII-era Boeing PT-17 Stearman biplane. These missions run you through the rudiments of taking off, controlling the craft in the air, and landing.Microsoft Flight lets you play several missions in Hawaii for free.You can fly Microsoft Flight with nothing but a game controller. There are realistic touches like preflight checklists, but in the early stages, the game runs through them on its own, checking items off as you look on.The Icon A5 cockpit feels almost like a car’s??and the GPS works.While the introductory missions are interesting and fun to play (especially the landing tutorial) and the graphics were strikingly beautiful, gameplay is marred by having to navigate using landmarks, rather than traditional waypoints. In particular, one of the challenges starts out midflight, and you’re supposed to land the plane. The trouble is, it’s not clear where the airstrip is. No heading is provided, and there’s no clear way to figure out which way to go. The careful narration that leads you through many of the other missions is utterly lacking on this one. Manually switching on the aircraft’s GPS map does reveal an airstrip, but after navigating all the way to it and executing a landing, I discovered it wasn’t the right airfield and failed the challenge after all.Another point of frustration is the low number of available missions. Microsoft Flight starts you off with less than ten missions and once you want to make progress, you have to pay up for the DLC.Microsoft Flight lets you switch between several cameras to get a better look at the action.In other words, the game suffers from the same issues plaguing many other “pay to play” titles, and even its fancy graphics were not able to redeem it. It is easy to understand why Microsoft ceased developing the game.Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor’s site, where you can download the latest version of the software.Review: MightyText wields control over desktop texting Free texting service MightyText actually manages to live up to its name.The hardest part of using MightyText is the initial setup. Like many desktop texting services, it works with Android devices only, and requires that you install a mobile app on your phone. Once the mobile app is installed and you’re ready to use MightyText on your computer or tablet, you have to do a bit of tinkering with your browser’s settings if you’d like to receive notifications of new messages. But MightyText guides you through the process— which involves changing some security settings in Internet Explorer or installing a third-party add-on in Firefox—and it’s a one-time thing.Mighty Text’s Power view displays phone-sized fields on your PC, which display recent messages in conversation form.MightyText’s Web app is slick, and it lets you choose between a “classic view” and a “power view.” The classic view uses a layout similar to Microsoft Outlook, where you see information about the sender in the first column and then message details in the next column. The power view, meanwhile, displays phone-sized fields on your computer screen that display recent text messages in conversation form. The power view lets you see more messages at once (it fit eight on my screen), while the classic view gives you more space for viewing message details. Switching between them is easy.To send a message, you click the new message button, and a small window for composing it pops up in the lower right corner of the screen, reminiscent of how Google’s Gmail works. And, much like Gmail, MightyText also puts a message composition window at the bottom of the conversations you view, making it easy to send a reply message.MightyText lets you mark favorite messages, browse through contacts, and easily adjust the settings (which include whether pressing enter should or should not send your messages and whether you want to get pop ups to notify you of new messages and calls). It also displays your phone’s battery life and notifies you of incoming and missed calls via pop-ups.Mightytext’s classic view uses a column-style layout, similar to Microsoft Outlook.MightyText is slick, seamless, and—best of all—free. It’s my desktop app of choice for my Android phone.Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor’s site, where you can download the latest version of the software.Review: MindMup is a free, effortless way to create mind maps in moments Mind maps are fundamentally very simple. You can create one on the back of a napkin in mere seconds, so it follows that there should be an equally effortless way to do it online. And there is: MindMup, a free and lightweight service lets you throw together simple mindmaps without having to download anything, open an account, or do anything else. It’s Web-based, too, so it works across Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.MindMup makes good use of the mind map format to explain how the product works.When you go to, you first see a default map explaining how the service works. It goes over keyboard and mouse use, and includes notes on how open and frictionless the service is. And

  3. 3 Tommy said at 4:13 AM on July 22nd, 2014:

    but the way of life isnt supose to be about trails an hardship they are there but that isnt what life is all about. We do go through them but christ never died on the cross so we could live a life of hardship.

  4. 4 Gregg Stutts said at 11:44 AM on July 22nd, 2014:

    Tommy, I agree with you that life was not supposed to be about trials and hardships, but God’s original design was marred by sin. We now live in a broken world where nothing is as it should be. James 1 and Romans 5 talk about the inevitability of trials and how God uses them for our good. Hebrews 5:8 even says Jesus learned obedience through suffering. Regardless of our circumstances, God’s power and peace are available to us. And in the difficulties, God works to grow our faith and conform us to His image.

  5. 5 Melody said at 12:54 PM on April 12th, 2016:

    I see you don’t monetize your blog, i’v got idea how to earn some additional cash using one simple method, just
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  6. 6 Elwood said at 10:25 PM on September 12th, 2016:

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