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Easy and Affordable Things to Do Over the Holidays

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  • Timber-Truckers_Slider-1.jpg?fit=1000%2C1000
    The Timber Truckers parade is an annual Christmas tradition of lighted semi trucks.

Tis the season to be jolly with Christmas and New Year’s right around the corner. Here are some fun, easy and affordable things to do with the family around the area over the holiday season:

The Festival of Lights boasts the largest nutcracker and is held annually at River Forks park.

Festival of Lights at River Forks Park– The Festival of Lights has become an annual tradition around the Douglas County area. Drawing in nearly 25,000 visitors per year, the Festival of Lights has produced thousands of dollars annually for Rotary Club scholarships and service projects since 1993. The Festival of Lights has been open since Nov. 19, and will continue to be open until January 1, 2018. The Festival of Lights has several different attractions to enjoy including the drive through light show which is $10 per car, the Holiday Village in Helleck Hall open until Christmas Eve, which is free and includes a visit from Santa, goodies, arts and crafts, and more. Furthermore, the Festival of Lights will provide wagon rides to enjoy the 500,000 lights on display. Wagon rides are available through Dec. 31 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and are $5 per person. Bring your coat! There are other “special nights” in which proceeds will go to help other causes around the area such as Saving Grace Night on Dec. 2, where 50 percent of proceeds on that night will go to Saving Grace. Another “special night” is Veteran’s Night which is Dec. 17, and admission will be free to all veterans with proof of service. For more information, go to the Festival of Lights website.

It’s a Wonderful Life will play at Jacoby Auditorium.

It’s a Wonderful Life (Live Performance) at Umpqua Community College’s Jacoby Auditorium– A timeless classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” will be performed live at the Jacoby Auditorium at UCC. Performances will occur between 26 – Dec. 17 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday’s at 2 p.m. Individual adult tickets are $13 and children’s tickets are $6. With a group of 10 or more, tickets will be discounted to $11.

 

 

 

The Timberland Toy parade features local semi trucks decorated with lights.

Timber Town Toyland Parade in Sutherlin, Oregon– Every year, the people of Sutherlin put together a Christmas light parade of uniquely decorated vehicles for the holidays. The parade will take place on Dec. 16 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. For more information, call 541-459-3280.

 

 

 

 

Donations for the toy run are accepted at Cascade Credit Union locations.

12th Annual Rudolph Run – Cascade Community Credit Union, Bigfoot Beverages, The News-Review and Brooke Communications sponsor this drive for new, unwrapped toys for local families. Donations can be turned in at any Cascade Community Credit Union location locally or at other participating local businesses. The drive will be Saturday, Dec. 16 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

 

All of the $9.95 fee for photos with Santa goes to help local animals in need.

Photos with Santa – For $9.95 get a photo with Santa at PetCo, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to local organizations helping animals. Photos can be taken Dec 2, 9 and 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. at PetCo, 780 N.W. Garden Valley Blvd. in Roseburg.

 

 

 

 

 

UCC choir and orchestra will be directed by Jason Heald, PhD

Roseburg Concert Chorale and Umpqua Chamber Orchestra’s Messiah – For $10 per person (students and children FREE), you can listen to Handel’s Messiah at Jacoby Auditorium, Sunday, Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. Tickets sold at While Away Books and at the door.

 

 

 

BSCC Barrel Race Horse Event at the Fairgrounds – Sunday, Dec. 17 starting at 8 a.m. See the Douglas County Fairgrounds website for more information.

 

To see even more local and affordable things to do, go to the Visit Roseburg website or check out the Wikido site.

“Murder on the Orient Express” gets derailed

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  • ReviewFilm-Slider.jpg?fit=1000%2C1000
    Johny Depp portrays the dubious gangster Edward Ratchett.

Agatha Christie, the queen of suspense, is arguably one of the best female authors in the past century. Known for her slight-of-hand murder mysteries where the killer is often introduced within the first chapter, her books have sold millions of copies, inspired board games like Clue and have been the basis for television episodes including “Family Guy’s” “And Then There Were Fewer” and the BBC’s “Miss Marple” series.

“Murder on the Orient Express” is one of Christie’s best-known stories. The book is inspired by the real life murder case of the Lindbergh baby in 1932. When Bruno Hauptman was convicted of kidnapping and murder and executed. He maintained his innocence until the day of his death. Hauptman is characterized in the book and played by Johnny Depp in the movie.

The story had been adapted into several made for TV movies before this newest 20th Century Fox big screen film. In all actuality, the movie resembles a car adapted into a train. The presence of a plot is there, and many of the characters boast some of Hollywood’s big named actors, but somewhere the translation of a masterpiece book falls into the snowdrifts of the mountains.

The movie opens on the desert city of Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall with a young boy running through the city streets carrying a covered box. Already, our train is a bit de-railed. We are then introduced to the rather narcissistic and obsessive-compulsive “world renowned” detective; Hercule Poirot (played by director and star Kenneth Branagh).This peculiar man with his peculiar mustache is a peculiar perfectionist, demanding his eggs be recooked over and over until the eggs are the right height, only to proclaim he blames the chicken for laying uneven eggs.

This scene drags on with the purpose of establishing Poirot as an almost Sherlock-level detective. While his quirkiness is funny at times, the emphasis on his perfectionism is so out of character with his literary counterpart that Poirot gets a bit trite throughout the first act of the two hour movie, before his obsessiveness is completely abandoned during the second and third acts.

The movie chugs along for over 20 minutes before we are introduced to the entire main cast. Johnny Depp portrays the shady soon-to-be-murdered Edward Ratchet. Television star Leslie Odom Jr. and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Daisy Ridley are the star-crossed lovers Doctor and Miss Mary. Josh Gad, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe and Judi Dench are just a few of the Orient Express’ suspect passengers. The movie’s characters are vastly different from the book characters’ descriptions, personalities and even nationalities, which caused some confusion.

While Christie created a worthwhile backstory for each suspect told in over 100 pages in her book, the movie only really explores two backstories, the detective and the murdered Ratchet. This is unfortunate as there is plenty of time to cover the other backstories as well in order to understand their personal motivation and connection to the dead man. Instead, the movie’s interviews of the suspects feel rushed, sometimes combining several into one montage. It is hard to connect with the characters in the end because of this. Honestly, by the end of the movie, the only character I really cared about was the murdered child.

Perhaps this is the biggest folly with the movie adaptation: there is a lot of wasted time spent on the detective himself and not nearly a sufficient amount of time spent on the rest of the cast, their stories or even the conclusion of the mystery. The murder in the book happens within the first 45 pages, but in the movie it does not clock in until almost an hour in, after the train screeches to a standstill in a snowy avalanche half on the tracks. With the suspects stuck together and time ticking away, the motives unfold rather quickly without much detail. Poirot’s epiphanies come as a surprise with so little detail delivered to the audience.

Poirot himself is connected to the murdered in a roundabout way, but there isn’t any reason to suspect him, and his emotional connection suffers almost until the end of the movie. The show down between Poirot and Dr. Arbuthnot is thrown in in order to drum up drama that the movie doesn’t actually need, just like the multiple crass and unnecessary sexual innuendos and statements. I understand trying to appeal to a modern audience, but Christie left any good writer and director the perfect DNA for a good murder mystery. In fact, it is my humble opinion that the “Family Guy” episodes did a better job of sticking to Christie’s literary values than this latest offering.

I will grant that the trip by train through the snowy terrain is lovely, and the sweeping landscapes certainly give a wondrous background to the grisly murder. The train itself is the true star with beautiful designs, rich interiors and ice-covered windows. Anyone who is into traveling and historical vehicles would enjoy a trip on the Orient Express, although perhaps not as a passenger in this movie. If you enjoy Christie’s work, pick up the book, but I would advise waiting out the snow for the movie. •

Rating: Snowed In!

Retro-computing: resurrection and preservation with emulation

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  • emulators_Elite_2_CMYK.jpg?fit=1000%2C1000
    The FCEUX emulator runs an NES port of Elite.

DISCLAIMER: This article is no way constitutes neither legal advice, nor agreement or disagree with emulation, devices, and subjects therein.

Retro-computing is the hobby of using older hardware and software for productivity and entertainment. Retro-computing often overlaps with retro-gaming, which specifically is the hobby of playing older games on native hardware and software.

In some retro-computing circles, purists debate that physical media is king and that retro-computing should be done on its native hardware. On the other end of the spectrum, users show devotion to emulators.

For those who want to get into retro-computing cheaply emulation is the answer. Emulation uses modern software to mimic or imitate older hardware, computer operating systems and applications in order to play system specific vintage software.

A good example of emulation in action is the use of Windows’s “Backwards Compatibility” or Windows XP mode. While not emulation in the sense that vintage video gamers use, this emulation is likely what most people are familiar with when they install older applications such as Microsoft Office 2000, on Windows 10.

When the older Windows program fails, Windows 10 will make a recommendation for the application to be run in a compatibility mode. There are a few modes Windows 10 will suggest for the application. This is what is happening at the core of emulation.  An older program is given a layer of translation for the modern software to understand it and the newer computer to then use the older software.

Emulators, however, have come under a legal gray area because they are sometimes used to create access to non-purchased video games. Companies like Nintendo have stated plainly their opinion on emulators: “The introduction of emulators created to play illegally copied Nintendo software represents the greatest threat to date to the intellectual property rights of video game developers. . . . Such emulators have the potential to significantly damage a worldwide entertainment software industry which generates over $15 billion annually, and tens of thousands of jobs.”

Nintendo was referring to piracy, and as the author of the Higan multi-system emulator Byyu stated in a PCGamer article, “Emulation does enable piracy, unfortunately. There’s no denying that. But it also enables fair use. It’s essentially the same argument as you’d make for a gun, a knife, or a car.” (The publisher of Higan was referring to the argument of who is responsible for violence, the perpetrator or the weapon.)

So, while piracy is illegal, emulation is not.

So if emulation is legal, what is illegal? This is the gray area of emulation. Emulation requires copyrighted material, usually in the form of “ROMs” or read only memories. These ROMs contain programs and can be anything from Pong by Atari, or something like Super Mario Bros. from Nintendo.

How to actually get ROMs and other needed files within copyright will not be discussed. What is going to be discussed is how to set up an emulator and some personal recommendations for you to consider.

One thing to keep in mind is, what are you wanting to emulate?  Is it a computer like the Commodore 64, the Apple II, or something more recent like the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube? These questions will be needed in order to understand what you need to do to run emulation on your modern day computer. Keep in mind that sometimes a low end, older computer simply can’t emulate.

For the purposes of example, however, let’s start with the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES. This console is a favorite among many players, and people enjoy the games in pop-culture and the system’s historical impact.

Often times you can do a search online and find many emulators for this system; however, caution should be taken when looking for an emulator. Due to popularity, some emulators are viruses. Wikipedia offers a list of well-known emulators that are either still active or have since been left in an unfinished state.

The FCEUX emulator can be found at http://www.fceux.com/web/download.html. Installing this emulator is not against the law and is legal. It is up to the reader to follow discretion on whether or not they go looking for the ROMs.

Clicking the download link will take you to the emulator’s host server sourceforge.com, and an ad-blocker is recommended. From there the file will download automatically and be placed in the “downloads” folder with the name “fceux-2.2.3-win32.zip”. From there you can unload the zip file into a folder in your documents. Opening the program is as easy as going into the folder and double-clicking the application.

In some cases you might have the ROMs sitting on your shelf if the emulator supports reading from a disc drive, such as PlayStation One or PSX, which uses CD and DVD technology to store its games. However you may need copyrighted files to run the emulators. When you’ve installed the emulator it’s your job to find the software you wish to play.

Generally, look for emulator sites that are recommended by many users and while searching it’s recommended you scan each file downloaded for safety. I would not recommend piracy in any fashion, as it carries large penalties or could damage your computer at the least. So, if your computer thinks something is wrong, it might be right.

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