Creating our own factory method in Java

Creating our own factory method in Java

Any factory method is created as a method belonging to an interface or abstract class. Hence that method is implemented, in the implementation classes or sub classes as case may be.

What are factory methods ?

A factory method is a method that creates and returns an object to the class to which it belongs. A single factory  method replaces several constructors in the class by accepting different options from the user , while creating the object.

For example, to create a factory method getFees() that will give the fees details for a course in an engineering college, we need to perform the following steps :

1> create an interface or abstract class
interface Fees {
   double showFees();
}

2>  Implement the abstract , public methods of the above interface.
class CSE implements Fees {
public double showFees(){
return 120000; // assumed some constant figure
}
}
// their can be more implementation classes also.

3> Create a factory class that contains factory method by the name getFees(). Mostly factory methods are written as static methods.
class CourseFees{
public static Fees getFees(String course){
if(course.equalsIgnoreCase(“CSE”))
return new CSE();
else if(course.equalsIgnoreCase(“ECE”))
return new ECE();
else return null;
}
}

// getFees() method takes the coursename from the user and creates an object either to CSE class or ECE class depending on the user option.

4> Call the factory method like this :
Fees f = CourseFees.getFees(name);

// In the preceding code, an object of CSE class or ECE class is returned by getFees() method. Since CSE and ECE are the implementation classes of Fees interface, we can use Fees interface reference ‘f’  to refer to the objects of these classes. Hence, if we call f.showFees(), then the showFees() of that particular class either CSE or ECE will be executed and corresponding fees will be displayed.

// complete program : combining all 4 steps as above
import java.io.*;

interface Fees {
   double showFees();
}

class CSE implements Fees {
public double showFees(){
return 120000; // assumed some constant figure
}
}

class ECE implements Fees {
public double showFees(){
return 110000; // assumed some constant figure
}
}

class CourseFees{
public static Fees getFees(String course){
if(course.equalsIgnoreCase(“CSE”))
return new CSE();
else if(course.equalsIgnoreCase(“ECE”))
return new ECE();
else return null;
}
}

// using factory method
class Sctpl {
public static void main(String args[]) throws IOException {
BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(System.in));
System.out.println(“Enter course name”);
String name = br.readLine();
Fees f = CourseFees.getFees(name);
System.out.println(“The fees is Rs “+ f.showFees());
}
}

Reflection API : in Java

Reflection API : in Java


What is an API?

Application program interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. An API specifies how software components should interact. Additionally, APIs are used when programming graphical user interface (GUI) components. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. A programmer then puts the blocks together,and build his own application.

An example, You are buying an item in online through your credit card. You will provide credit card details and press continue button. It will tell you whether your information is correct or not. To provide these results, there are lot of things in the background.
The application will send your credit card details to a remote application which will validate your information and send the result back your application. API is used in this scenario.
Java application programming interface (API) is a list of all classes that are part of the Java development kit (JDK). It includes all Java packages, classes, and interfaces, along with their methods, fields, and constructors. These pre-written classes provide a tremendous amount of functionality to a programmer.

Reflection API:

As we now know what is API in java,So in simple terms we can say Reflection API is a collection of classes which are meant for Reflection operations in java.

What is Reflection?


In Java, the process of analyzing and modifying all the capabilities of a class at runtime is called Reflection.Reflection is a language’s ability to inspect and dynamically call classes, methods, attributes, etc. at runtime.

Reflection is important since it lets you write programs that do not have to know everything at compile time, making them more dynamic, since they can be tied together at runtime.

For example, using reflection at the runtime you can determine what method, field, constructor or modifiers a class supports.

Where it is used?

The Reflection API is mainly used in:
  • IDE (Integrated Development Environment) e.g. Eclipse, MyEclipse, NetBeans etc.
  • Debugger
  • Test Tools etc.
For example, say you have an object of an unknown type in Java, and you would like to call a ‘doSomething’ method on it if one exists. Java’s static typing system isn’t really designed to support this unless the object conforms to a known interface, but using reflection, your code can look at the object and find out if it has a method called ‘doSomething’ and then call it if you want to.
Using Java Reflection Classes you can obtain  information about:
  • Class Name
  • Class Modifies (public, private, synchronized etc.)
  • Package Info
  • Superclass
  • Implemented Interfaces
  • Constructors
  • Methods
  • Fields
  • Annotations
and much more information about java classes.

Java.lang.reflect:

java.lang.reflect package encapsulates several important interfaces and classes. These classes and interface define methods which are used for reflection.

java.lang.Class class:

The java.lang.Class class performs mainly two tasks:
  • provides methods to get the metadata of a class at run time.
  • provides methods to examine and change the run time behavior of a class.

Commonly used methods of Class class:

Method Description
1) public String getName() returns the class name
2)public static Class forName(String className)throws ClassNotFoundException  loads the class and returns the reference of Class class.
3)public Object newInstance()throws InstantiationException,IllegalAccessException creates new instance.
4) public boolean isInterface() checks if it is interface.
5) public boolean isArray() checks if it is array.
6) public boolean isPrimitive() checks if it is primitive.
7) public Class getSuperclass() returns the superclass class reference.
The following example shows the usage of java.lang.Class.getName() method.


import java.lang.*;

public class SCPTL {

public static void main(String[] args) {

// returns the Class object associated with this class
SCPTL cl = new SCPTL();
Class c1Class = cl.getClass();

// returns the name of the class
String name = c1Class.getName();
System.out.println("Class Name = " + name);
}
}
getClass() method returns the instance of Class class and  getName() method returns the name of the entity (class, interface, array class, primitive type, or void) represented by this Class object, as a String(in this case name of class).
Above code will produce following output:

Uses of Reflection

Reflection is commonly used by programs which require the ability to examine or modify the runtime behavior of applications running in the Java virtual machine. This is a relatively advanced feature and should be used only by developers who have a strong grasp of the fundamentals of the language. With that caveat in mind, reflection is a powerful technique and can enable applications to perform operations which would otherwise be impossible.
Extensibility Features
An application may make use of external, user-defined classes by creating instances of extensibility objects using their fully-qualified names.

Class Browsers and Visual Development Environments
A class browser needs to be able to enumerate the members of classes. Visual development environments can benefit from making use of type information available in reflection to aid the developer in writing correct code.

Debuggers and Test Tools
Debuggers need to be able to examine private members on classes. Test harnesses can make use of reflection to systematically call a discoverable set APIs defined on a class, to insure a high level of code coverage in a test suite.

Drawbacks of Reflection

Reflection is powerful, but should not be used indiscriminately. If it is possible to perform an operation without using reflection, then it is preferable to avoid using it. The following concerns should be kept in mind when accessing code via reflection.
Performance Overhead
Because reflection involves types that are dynamically resolved, certain Java virtual machine optimizations can not be performed. Consequently, reflective operations have slower performance than their non-reflective counterparts, and should be avoided in sections of code which are called frequently in performance-sensitive applications.
Security Restrictions
Reflection requires a runtime permission which may not be present when running under a security manager. This is in an important consideration for code which has to run in a restricted security context, such as in an Applet.

Want to learn more about java?

       

5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps Weekly

Android Apps Weekly featured image
Welcome to the 220th Android Apps Weekly. Here are the big headlines from the last week:

  • Disney purchased Fox this week. This is a big deal. That means all of Marvel’s property is under one roof again. Disney’s upcoming video streaming service is starting to get a lot more appealing to many people. Some claim that Netflix should be nervous. However, Hulu, Netflix, and others have co-existed for years. The addition of Disney’s streaming service probably won’t change that.
  • Google revealed the top search trends of 2017. Among them are the famous Mayweather vs McGregor fight, 13 Reasons Why, the various hurricanes that buffeted the American south, bitcoin, and many others. In consumer tech, the iPhone 8 and X dominated along with the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X, Galaxy S8, OnePlus 5, and the Razer Phone. Hit the link to see all the trends!
  • The latest Humble Bundle is live! This time it’s a bunch of Noodlecake Studios games. That’s good news because that studio is fantastic. Some of the games include Alto’s Adventure, Pug’s Quest, Invert, Framed 2, The Bug Butcher, and others. Four games are available for $1. Beating the average price nets you four additional games. Finally, you can get every game in the bundle for a flat $5. That’s a great deal for some great games.
  • Bridge Constructor Portal already has a decent buzz about it. We now have more to report. The game features Ellen McLain, the original voice actress for GLaDOS. That’s getting people excited. The eccentric robot AI was a fan favorite in the Portal games and remains an icon of the game. It’s really neat to see the actual GLaDOS returning for this mobile game.
  • Microsoft Edge on mobile is doing surprisingly well. It amassed over one million downloads in just a few short weeks. Microsoft Edge browser isn’t half bad. Most of its critiques compare its lack of features to that of Firefox and Google Chrome. However, a mobile app offering shored up a lot of those weaknesses, including cross-platform syncing. It’s good to see some quality competition in the browser space.

For even more Android apps and games news, updates, and releases, check out this week’s newsletter by clicking here. You can also subscribe with the form below if you want. Of course, the best way to stay up to date is with the Android Authority app!

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Storyboard

Price: Free
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Storyboard is one of two new apps from Google this week. This one is a bit unique. It turns videos into comic strip-style storyboards. The app uses experimental research technology for its layouts. You can refresh over and over again until you get one that you like. It’s not overly useful. However, it is a lot of fun to use. Plus, some of the layouts look pretty nifty. The app is also entirely free with no ads or in-app purchases.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Storyboard

Ticket to Earth

Price: $4.99 (on sale for $3.49)
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Ticket to Earth is a new puzzle RPG. You play to save a colony from destruction. The game includes various types of puzzles, tile matching, and a decent story line. Most of the game is on a board game style layout. The game first appeared on Steam. The mobile release is more recent. The game is a pay-once experience. That means no ads or in-app purchases. It goes for $4.99 usually. However, the developers are having a launch sale. The game is temporarily $3.49.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Ticket to Earth

Selfissimo

Price: Free
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Selfissimo is the second new Google app this week. This one is another experimental app. It tries to automatically snap pictures of you when it detects your pose. Thus, you just pose, it takes a picture, and you repeat until done. For now, it only takes black and white selfies. It may not be suited for much more than the occasional Instagram or Facebook post. Still, it’s kind of neat to watch an app take your picture automatically. The app is free with no in-app purchases or advertisements.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Selfissimo

Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty

Price: $7.99
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty is the latest adventure game in the popular franchise. This one follows Abe as he attempts to save his friends. The evil Molluck wants to turn everyone into food. Obviously, that’s a bad thing. The game comes with decent graphics, support for hardware controllers, cloud saving, leaderboards, and achievements. It’s a tad expensive at $7.99. However, it doesn’t have ads or in-app purchases. It’s a decent game for its price.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY


Grammarly Keyboard

Price: Free
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Grammarly Keyboard was released this week. It’s by the same devs who do the Grammarly extension on Google Chrome. The keyboard works okay. It has a fairly basic set of functions and the layout is a little boring. However, it does attempt to correct your grammar as you type. That makes it unique. Grammarly is having a rough start with this one, though. There are a few bugs and only a few customization options. This one may take a while to get going. It might end up being one of the better Android keyboards over time. At the very least, it’s free with no in-app purchases if you want to try it.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Grammarly Keyboard

10 best Android keyboards

For many people, the default keyboard that comes on their devices is passable. It is usually either the stock Android keyboard or the OEM keyboard from Samsung, LG, etc. However, those are not your only options. …

15 best RPGs for Android

RPGs have one of the most loyal followings of any gaming genre. Whether it’s Final Fantasy or World of Warcraft, people spend dozens of hours crafting characters, playing story lines, and enjoying themselves. RPGs were …

If we missed any big Android apps or games news or releases, tell us about it in the comments. Check back next week for more!

Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy is a series of games which in the past has made me buy a Playstation 2 and 3, after having played FF7 on the PC. But then I didn’t like FF13 all that much, nor the MMORPG version FF14 (which might have more to do with MMO burnout and the botched first version than the quality of the final second version game). So I didn’t buy a Playstation 4. Nor did I ever buy any version of XBox, which means that I never got to even try Final Fantasy XV. However that is going to change in 2018, because FF15 is coming both to PC and mobile platforms.

If I buy the PC version, I am pretty confident that I will get a pretty much identical game to the console version, with at least equal if not better graphics. The main issue with console ports of games like Final Fantasy is usually that they don’t always create a new control scheme for stuff like inventory management, so you need to push a lot of buttons to go through sub-menus of sub-menus instead of using easier mouse + keyboard controls. That can be somewhat annoying, but is not really a serious downside. So I’d consider the PC version a conservative bet.

The mobile version, called the “pocket edition” is going to be released next week, February 9, and is conceptually much more interesting. Because in this pocket version they tried to reproduce the game as faithfully as possible on a platform which is both much less graphically powerful, and has a much more different control scheme. But people who saw the beta version were astounded how faithful to the original at least the start of the game is. Basically you see the same scenes, but with new graphics which are far better suited to the lower resolution and capabilities of the platform.

There have been a number of games in the past that were re-released with improved graphics, due to the constant increase of computer graphics quality. The reverse process, down-grading graphics to lower resolution, hasn’t been used that much. But of course the concept is very interesting if you think of porting games from the PC and console to tablets and phones. So I am definitely going to check out the Final Fantasy XV pocket edition. Especially since I don’t need to buy the full game to do so: You get the first chapter for free, and can buy the rest of the game chapter by chapter. Now that is an innovation I wish would apply to console games.

Confessions of a Killer Cop

John Tennis breaks his silence after being fired for fatal encounter with Joseph Mann.

Dressed in a faded Superman t-shirt that flatters his muscular torso, John Tennis points out the spot where he and his partner shot and killed Joseph Mann on a steamy summer morning last year.

It’s a crisp day in December along a resilient commercial stretch of North Sacramento, where unassuming bars and barbershops reside under washed-out signs, but Tennis tugs at his collar like a man who’s feeling the heat.

For more than a quarter of a century, Tennis patrolled this neighborhood for the Sacramento Police Department. In October, his career ended ignominiously. The 56-year-old former patrolman revealed last month to SN&R that he was fired following an internal affairs investigation into the fatal shooting of Mann, who was armed with a knife, rumored to have a gun and reported to be acting strangely in front of a nearby apartment complex.

The July 11, 2016, shooting—and the ensuing release of police video—plunged Tennis and partner Randy Lozoya into the scalding national debate about deadly law enforcement encounters caught on tape.

For perhaps the first time since Ferguson exploded more than three years ago, one of those officers is crossing the thin blue line to tell his side of the story.

After their colleagues spent long minutes avoiding a confrontation with the agitated Mann, Tennis and Lozoya swooped in with lethal decisiveness. In a span of 44 seconds, they attempted to strike Mann with their patrol vehicle twice, hoofed across the boulevard and put 14 bullets into the mentally troubled 50-year-old.

Despite his taste in t-shirts, Tennis dismisses the notion that he has a hero complex. He says he and his partner did what needed to be done.

“We don’t get trained to just follow someone at a safe distance and not act,” he says. “That’s the problem that went on for five minutes. And I didn’t get there and go, ’Oh, I’m gonna end this.’ I got there in absolute fear that something tragic was going to happen.”

Something tragic did happen, say Mann’s siblings.

“You just jump out of your car and unload on him—that’s unacceptable,” says brother Robert Mann. “That’s not protecting and serving our community.”

The forces that put John Tennis and Joseph Mann in each other’s path began a long time ago. Close in age, both men grew up in Sacramento around the same time. They both spun contented childhoods into careers in criminal justice. Both led lives interrupted by substance abuse and personal bedevilments. Both sought help from the system.

One of them got it. The other was Joseph Mann.

Seated at a conference table inside SN&R, a couple blocks from where he and Mann met, Tennis rubs his dry palms together and takes a drag of recirculated air. He doesn’t know what he’s doing here, he says. A cop talking to the press about a fatal shooting, one that’s still being litigated, his lawyer will probably have his head. But he feels the need to unburden himself.

“I’m not this beast that I’m made out to be,” Tennis says.

Joseph Mann’s loved ones say the same thing about Joe.

‘In the midst of chaos’

Sliding on his belly in the wet grass, John Tennis lay head to head with the man he was trying to choke into submission. Tennis didn’t know the man was a suspected car thief, or why he had rabbited from East Del Paso Heights, leading officers on a reckless, high-speed pursuit to an apartment complex a few miles away. He wouldn’t learn the suspect’s name until after he was dead: Albert Thiel. Black male. Age 35.

It was September 1997.

For the 36-year-old officer, the fatal encounter with Thiel would become a signature event. Here was a suspect high on drugs. Here were Tennis’ fellow officers, in his mind, unable to contain a scary situation. And here was Tennis coming to the rescue.


John Tennis didn’t always want to be a cop. The second son of a postal carrier and a homemaker, Tennis came up middle-class in the suburbs of North Sacramento and then Carmichael. He remembers cowboy matinees in East Sacramento at the old Alhambra Theatre, a chalk-pink Spanish cathedral of a movie house with a scarlet marquee and matching red carpet; solo bike rides to Citrus Heights, before it was a city, to stare at the pit of dirt that became Sunrise Mall; and, when he had his own wheels, getting pulled over more times than he’d care to admit.

“I didn’t really like cops because I got stopped a lot when I was a kid,” Tennis shrugs. “I was one of them guys driving around too fast.”

Tennis ran track at Hiram Johnson High School, but was an unenthusiastic student, he says. So one day, at the age of 18, he strode into an Army recruiter’s office and enlisted. “I told the recruiter, ’Send me as far away from Sacramento as you can,’” Tennis remembers. “He said, ’How about Italy?’ I said, ’That works.’”

The only people Tennis told of his decision were his folks, he says.

Tennis says he deployed with a paratrooper unit in 1980 to Vincenzo, Italy, his home base for the next four years. (A Pentagon official referred a request for Tennis’ military records to the National Archives and Records Administration.) A peacetime soldier, Tennis says he spent his tour skipping around Europe and the USSR during the dreg days of the Cold War, as only an American could. When Army intelligence warned him the Russians would read his mail and have him tailed once he was in their territory, Tennis started slipping pictures of Mao Zedong into correspondences written to “comrade” this and “comrade” that, he says.

On the eastern side of the Berlin Wall, he recalls, he lost count of the bullet holes pockmarking the buildings. In Budapest, he says, he unsuccessfully tried to train with Soviet soldiers. He became enchanted with communist-controlled Hungary and Yugoslavia, where he remembers a woman on a train warning him of a coming war. Why, he asked. Everyone here hates everyone else, she told him.

When Tennis returned stateside, he confronted an old quandary—what now? He had an associate’s degree, but didn’t see the point in more studying. He considered becoming a firefighter, but someone told him he was good with people and pointed him toward law enforcement.

“I truly believe in making the world a better place, as corny as that sounds,” he says. “I didn’t think I’d get hired, to tell you the truth. But I just don’t like seeing people get victimized.”

Sandy-haired with a rigid jaw and a raspy voice that he says he got from entering a burning house years ago, Tennis is the Type A sort of person the Police Department used to court, says Officer James Walker.

Like Tennis, Walker has spent nearly three decades as a patrolman with Sac PD. He started shortly before Tennis and has known him his entire career. “Working with John off and on over the years, I always thought he was a great officer—fair and just and morally grounded,” Walker says. “From what I know of him, he’s not a bad guy.”

Average in height, Tennis is hewn like an ox thanks to an exacting workout regimen, with a widescreen chest and knotted biceps and calves. Walker says that physicality makes Tennis good in a scrap, but that he prefers to listen, like that time they responded to a family row and Tennis let everyone air their grievances. “John would let people talk,” Walker says.

Noting Tennis’ black ex-wife and his four biracial children, Walker adds: “He might look like a poster child for Germany in the 1940s, but he’s not.”

But Walker can’t deny his former colleague’s propensity for finding himself in the middle of violent confrontations. Walker is careful to note that he doesn’t think Tennis sought out trouble. If anything, Walker says, Tennis is a victim of his devotion to tough, disadvantaged neighborhoods.

“I’d describe it this way: There are those officers, they just have this crazy habit of being in the wrong place at the right time,” he says. “John chose to be in the midst of the chaos.”

‘He left the world’

Vernadine Murphy Mann already knew who was ringing her bell when she answered the door. No one else had a talent for materializing out of thin air like her baby brother.

“Hey sis. I’m here,” Joseph Mann said plainly.

Joe looked a little rough around the edges. He needed a shave. His rumpled clothes begged for a dance with the spin cycle.

Vern stifled her joy and let her brother inside. How long had he been gone this time? She would fix him up. A hot meal and a warm bath, just like when they were kids and their mom deputized Vern, the oldest, to co-parent Joe, the youngest.

“With my brother Joe, it was maternal,” Vern says of their relationship. “I felt like he was my baby.”

But she knew not to smother. Joe needed to get into the garage first, to visit his suitcase, the one that held his papers, some clothes, and the old photographs that reminded him who he was.

Around the same time that John Tennis was asking the Army to ship him out of Sacramento, the Mann family was on its way here.

Wanting a fresh start in a new town, William Mann accepted an offer to join his insurance firm’s expansion west. In 1979, the Mann family made the cross-country exodus from Newburg, New York—a broken-asphalt burg with a backroom-dealing reputation—to Sacramento—a sleepy government town ringed by sleepier suburbs and sweeping, undeveloped land.

It proved a rough transition.

Their second week in Sacramento, a neighbor in their apartment building fell asleep with a lit cigarette between his fingers. The entire complex—and everything the Manns owned—turned to a heap of ash and cinder on the corner of 13th and G streets.

“We started with nothing,” says Robert Mann, who, like Joe, was in his early teens at the time. “That was just something that was the first challenge.”

Separated by two years, Robert and Joe navigated the early challenges together. Their three older siblings were all grown and living adult lives. Because they were so close in age, Robert and Joe were given a nickname by the first wave of Mann children. “We called them ’stair steps,’” Vern says.

The brothers remained tight after their parents separated and Joe moved with his mother to Stockton to finish up high school. If the split phased him, Joe didn’t show it. He flourished as a popular upperclassman at the largely white and Latino Tokay High School in Lodi, a small agricultural town a half-hour drive north.

“Most of his girlfriends [were] white,” Robert chuckles. “He was a ladies’ man, that’s for sure.”

“Joe was a people person,” is how Vern puts it. “And he saw the good in everybody.”

He also cultivated eclectic tastes. After graduating Tokay in 1983, he attended the University of the Pacific, where he spun jazz, rock and classical records as a college deejay called “The Character,” Robert says. When Vern was preparing to start a home-based childcare business, Joe drew up the interior design plans. He loved classic cars, discussing politics and giving unsolicited stock tips, Robert says.

Joe was also ambitious, his siblings say.

While working as a checker at the Raley’s supermarket on Mack Road, Joe attended night school at local community colleges in Sacramento, eventually getting associates degrees in business and communications, Robert says. In 2001, Joe landed a position with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where he worked as an office technician for the next five-and-a-half years, a CDCR spokesman confirmed.

These were the salad days for Joe, and he enjoyed them a little too much, Robert says.

Thanks to a savvy home sale two years before the housing bubble popped, Joe was rolling in disposable income. He had a dashing Datsun 280ZX coupe and a new girlfriend who liked to travel—and to use narcotics.

“She pulled him in,” Robert claims. “When you have an addiction and all this money in the bank, it doesn’t end well.”

The family was slow to learn of Joe’s drug habit. A 2010 conviction for driving under the influence tipped them off. When Joe was forced to take a leave of absence from work, they knew something larger was at play.

In his time of need, Joe went to be with the one person he was closest to—his mom.

Robert says Joe moved to Georgia knowing their aging mother didn’t have much time. For her part, Lucille Mann knew her youngest was struggling. In their separate ways, Joe and Lucille tried to keep each other tethered to the world for a while longer.

“They were super close,” Robert says. “She was his whole world and he was her baby. And one thing I know is a mother’s love for her son is unconditional. No matter what he was experiencing or going through, she supported him. That’s just the way mothers are.”

When Lucille died in 2011 at the age of 72, Joe returned to Sacramento. But something in him had been set adrift, his family members say. He couldn’t see his way back to shore. Nor could he conjure a purpose for trying to find a way back.

“After my mom passed, he felt like he didn’t have that sense that everything was so important anymore,” Robert observes. “He left the world of the good community, so to speak, and got caught up in that other community.”

Joe’s drug use deepened. His absences from the family grew. Vern couldn’t abide them. She’d get in her car and drive around aimlessly, hoping to lay eyes on her brother. Nearly a decade apart in age, Vern hoped their special bond would act as a homing beacon. In a roundabout way, it did. She didn’t always know where to find Joe, but he’d eventually turn up on her doorstep.

“I feel he was coming just to let me know he was OK,” Vern says. “Sometimes I miss that.”

Two weeks before his death, Joe followed Vern into the garage and knelt down before his private time capsule. He popped the latches on his old suitcase and found the waxy celluloid reminders: Of him, primped for prom in a white tux, or standing shoulder to shoulder with Robert, or clasping his doting mother. In each photograph, that thousand-watt smile and the world on a string.

Joe felt his sister standing there. There was still time. He closed the suitcase and went inside.

‘Don’t go for my gun’

The county coroner determined that Albert Thiel asphyxiated as a result of blunt force trauma to his neck. Specifically, the thyroid cartilage on the left side of his throat had been fractured, causing hemorrhaging that partially blocked his airway.

“I said, ’That was probably me,’ because I was the one holding him down,” Tennis says now.

That admission never became part of the public record.

In absolving Tennis and other officers of criminal wrongdoing, the district attorney’s office said it wasn’t clear what caused the fatal injury, attributing it to a likely “misadventure.” The DA’s report also determined that Tennis may have rescued his fellow officers from an uncertain fate by grappling with Thiel­­, who was high on crack cocaine and listed as more than 200 pounds on a 5-foot-8 frame.

“Thiel was a big and powerful man and officers could be injured or worse if they were not successful in apprehending Thiel,” the report stated. “It was entirely reasonable for Tennis … to apprehend Thiel by trying to control the only part of Thiel’s body available to him, the head and neck.”

Thiel’s family filed a complaint that went to mediation, Tennis says. He says Thiel’s mother asked the officers to show her what happened to her son. Inside of a conference room, Tennis says he complied.

“We went down on the ground and showed her everything,” Tennis says. “My attorney decided to pay, whatever, $50,000 I think.”

A few years later, Tennis was involved in more critical incidents.

In 2000, he was sued for using excessive force during the arrest of a sex offender, court records show. The plaintiff’s attorney previously told SN&R he believed the case ended in a settlement, but didn’t recall the details.

That same year, Tennis says, he and another officer responded at night to a weapons call involving a man who had allegedly told a friend he wanted to kill a cop. At Branch Street and Harris Avenue, in a neighborhood of hunched roofs and chain-link fences, Tennis says, he spotted a male subject loading a gun near the side of a home.

“I think I said something like, ’Freeze motherfucker,’” Tennis recalls. “He saw me. He started running.”

Tennis says he gave chase across a couple of residential blocks. He lost sight as the suspect scampered down a dark driveway. As Tennis rounded a parked car, he says, he saw the suspect about to clear a low fence.

“He’s coming up and spinning around with a gun in his hand and I fire six rounds off-handed. I hit him a couple of times and he collapses,” Tennis says. “We roll him over and he had the gun right there. He lived. I think he walks funny, I don’t know.”

Tennis says he also fired his weapon at a suspected car thief who tried to run him down earlier in his career, in the mid-1990s. He says he struck the vehicle three times, but not the suspect.

He says he considers it a “miracle” that he hasn’t been involved in more shootings, given the sector he’s worked.

“Don’t get me wrong. I got in a lot of fights up there, but it was just real,” Tennis says. “The rule is, when you fight, don’t go for my gun.”

As for why—or even whether—Tennis got fired, police Chief Daniel Hahn says he’s prevented from discussing the personnel history of his officers, even former ones. Like Tennis, Hahn patrolled Del Paso Heights as a beat cop during the 1990s. Asked if he developed an impression of Tennis in those days, he says he did but demurs when asked to share it.

Unlike Tennis, Hahn says he’s never had cause to fire his weapon at a suspect. Neither has Walker. Both Hahn and Walker say it’s common for officers to draw their guns, but rare to pull the trigger.

“Guys like John, he’s just one of those guys that … I can’t explain it,” Walker says. “The fact that John’s been involved in that many things—I certainly haven’t. And most guys in the department haven’t.”

Like other police officials contacted by SN&R, Hahn expressed surprise that Tennis was speaking publicly.

“I’ve never seen such a thing before,” says Hahn, who took over the department months after the Mann shooting. “It’s really strange.”

‘Things to do’

With their matriarch gone and their dad getting older, the Mann children responded to Joe’s struggles the only way they knew how, with all hands on deck. The siblings and their adult children took Joe into their homes for long spells. Robert joined his brother at A.A. and N.A. meetings. Inside church basements where addicts talked about yielding to a higher power, the two discussed treatment options. Joe checked himself into the county’s Mental Health Treatment Center on Stockton Boulevard, and checked out a private psychiatric facility, Heritage Oaks Hospital, on Auburn Boulevard.

Joe was trying, Robert says. But the global economy had buckled. And the options were disappearing.

In 2009, Sacramento County cut 50 psychiatric beds and pulled the plug on its only crisis-stabilization unit, a 23-hour observation unit that fielded 6,800 adult visits a year, according to a 2015 report from the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society. Local emergency rooms were suddenly flooded with 1,600 new visits a month from people with nowhere else to go for mental health care. The medical society report called the ripple effects “staggering.”

The Manns weren’t spared.

“When all these programs started disappearing, there was more time spent away from the family, more time spent wandering,” Robert says.

Robert knew his brother was cloaking grief and shame. He saw the mask slip enough times to know Joe felt like a fraud in his own skin. His brother sought out people who didn’t know the old him. Joe found stranded addicts, shipwrecked in their own deteriorating vessels. With them, he had only the one thing in common: A grimy crystal over a hot torch. A sour wind that greases the lungs and hotwires the synapses. The hunger that left you emptier each time you fed it.

Joe’s contacts with law enforcement mounted. He accrued six convictions in Sacramento Superior Court after his mother’s passing. Most were for petty theft or shoplifting. In 2015, he was convicted in separate cases of making criminal threats, a misdemeanor, and felony burglary, online court records show.

Robert believes that last arrest occurred when Joe sneaked into an unlocked motel room on Richards Boulevard to steal a nap.

“The few incidences where he went to jail were for small things—vagrancy, shoplifting,” Robert insists. “He was still a good dude. Even though he was struggling.”

About a week before Joe was killed, Robert found his brother at their niece’s home in South Sac. Joe was doing chores outside in the airless heat. Robert’s face stretched into a grin. He missed his brother, but put it the way men do when they show their hearts to one another.

“Hey man, why don’t you come back and hang out with me for a while?” he nudged.

Joe swept a hand across his wet forehead and laughed his raspy laugh.

“Yeah, yeah, eventually,” Joe deflected, “but I got things to do right now.”

It was the last time Robert saw his brother alive.

‘This is going to go bad’

Officers Tennis and Lozoya were wrapping up a call near Rio Linda when they first learned police were dealing with an armed subject in North Sacramento.

The veteran patrolmen had worked together often, but didn’t normally ride together. Two days earlier, in Dallas, a harrowing sniper attack killed five police officers. The ambush was sprung near the end of a rally protesting the scrutinized police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille. The piercing cracks that echoed between the tall buildings of downtown Dallas threw the city into a panic. Police used a remote-controlled bomb to kill the suspect, a veteran of the Afghanistan conflict.

Even with the Sacramento Police Department short-staffed, Tennis says, officers were told to buddy up that week in an abundance of caution. There was no escaping the nation’s shifting mood toward law enforcement’s treatment of black men, in particular. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Walter Scott. Sterling and Castille. The names of the dead kept multiplying.

It was just after 9 a.m. Monday, July 11, 2016. Tennis picked up speed, heading southwest toward the call. Another name was about to join the list.

Back on Lochbrae Road, two callers had alerted dispatchers to a man acting bizarrely, doing karate moves in front of an apartment complex and flipping a knife. The man kicked the air. He shouted strange things. He urinated on himself. One caller said he had a black gun tucked in his waistband.

“He just pulled the gun out. He just pulled the gun out,” the caller repeated. “He said, ’I am the law.’”

No gun was ever found. As far as anyone could later prove, Joseph Mann was armed with a knife in one hand and a metallic coffee mug in the other.

Tennis and Lozoya didn’t hear the 911 calls directly. The information they received was broadcast over their police band radio signal and translated onto their computer screen in bursts of text. Rumors of a martial arts background. Might have military training. Seen with a gun.

“The first thing I start thinking was, this is one of those Iraqi vets with PTSD,” Tennis says. “He’s going off. This is going to go bad.”

Tennis wasn’t a stranger to things not going according to plan.


Somewhere along the way, the rules of the job changed. The cops Tennis came up with, the rookies he trained, they climbed the ranks while he remained on patrol. Twenty-six years on the street beat, chasing calls and fielding complaints. Never your own man, always someone’s grunt.

That wasn’t by design.

Tennis says he aced his department’s SWAT tryouts in ’99 but was passed over. He’d pissed off one too many lieutenants, he says, spoken his mind too often. Maybe he’d gotten into too many fights, drawn too many complaints. Tennis says he made his peace with it. He was Sisyphus, shouldering a boulder he knew he’d never summit. He could either curse his fate or embrace it. Tennis says he chose the latter.

Del Paso Heights became his house beat. A hard neighborhood, yeah, but filled with decent, hardworking people. Tennis was there to protect them.

But time is a persistent hammer. Fashions and philosophies change. Society evolves. Chiefs come and go. Every badge loses its luster. Every pawn meets its sacrifice.

“Most people realize, when you’re out on patrol, that’s when shit’s gonna happen. That’s when you’re gonna get in trouble,” Tennis says. “You’ve got to get out of that environment. It’s not survivable.”

Tennis couldn’t take his own advice.

He was drinking too much. Like many other cops, his marriage unraveled. In 2011, the same year that Mann’s mother died, Tennis was stripped of his gun when an El Dorado County judge hit him with a temporary restraining order. Tennis’ ex-wife had accused him of domestic violence and child abuse, charges Tennis denies. The judge later lifted the restraining order and Tennis got his gun back when the department went to bat for him.

In 2013, the department ordered Tennis into treatment after he admitted to abusing alcohol. But Tennis’ career was stalled. He got tired of humping out to calls, of getting yelled at, of the filth. “I’ve been thrown up on, shit on, comed on—I’m dead serious,” he says. “It can be very disgusting.”

I ask Tennis if he ever felt burned out.

“I got tired of it,” he admits. “Because my department is very, very big on putting you in a box.”

Tennis says he learned to do things differently. He stopped running plates or pulling over suspicious vehicles. He answered his calls and went home to his kids.

“You just give them a different product,” he says. “You’re not doing things that are gonna raise an eyebrow or get you into a fight, you know what I mean? So, ’Oh, gee, you got into another one.’ It’s not me.”

In Tennis’ mind, he had changed. Hadn’t taken a drink in years. Even his mouth had mellowed. He kept a well-worn photo of his kids on him at all times and thought about how smart they were, how eager to make the world a better place. He glimpsed retirement just over the horizon and focused on coasting toward it.

Then Joseph Mann entered his field of vision.

As their car shunted down Del Paso Boulevard, Tennis and Lozoya watched a figure juke past a sergeant’s patrol SUV with an arm cocked down by his side, according to dash cam videos released last year.

“Fuck this guy,” Lozoya said.

“I’m gonna hit him,” Tennis said.

“OK, go for it. Go for it,” Lozoya said.

Their squad car swerves into a stubby crosswalk, narrowly missing Mann. Tennis stomps the brakes and peels into reverse, finding Mann standing on the sidewalk past a white-plaster compound with a gated parking lot. Tennis says his partner noticed a lady standing on a median in the middle of the street.

“He started to head towards her,” Tennis says of Mann. “Randy and I are both convinced that, if we didn’t … take his mind off what he was doing, he would have stabbed and killed her. Absolutely convinced of that.”

From the videos that the Police Department released, it appears that Mann only briefly approached the woman to escape getting hit by Tennis’ car.

After another attempt to ram Mann off his feet, the car slams to a stop at the tree-and-bush-lined median. One of the officers says, “We’ll get him.” The doors open. Mann’s momentum has carried him up a shaded sidewalk. Tennis and Lozoya briefly jog up the street parallel to Mann before closing the distance.

Tennis is a few feet ahead of Lozoya, who levels his gun first. Tennis says he’s looking for an opening to talk, but didn’t find one. He acknowledges that he didn’t give Mann any verbal commands before he opened fire.

“I really didn’t think it would have mattered at that point,” he says. “He stood there screaming at me. And when that hand came up, that’s when I shot him.”

Mann points with the knife in his hand. He points again. The third time, he buckles forward.

The cracks come in rapid succession. By the time it was done, Tennis’ sidearm had bucked eight times. Lozoya fired 10 rounds. Fourteen struck Mann, snapping into his chest, abdomen, groin, both legs and one ankle as he stooped over and crumpled to his side. Tennis says he doesn’t know who shot first but believes Lozoya fired last—a bullet that skipped off the sidewalk.

Tennis says he went over to a groaning Mann and kicked the knife away and grabbed his arm. He says he was still looking for the gun. Even though no gun was ever found, Tennis says he is convinced that Mann had one.

“He probably tossed it,” Tennis says. “People do it all the time.”

After the other officers approached, Tennis released Mann’s arm and turned around to see Lozoya on the ground with an injured leg. Tennis says his partner already had bum wheels when he dangled one outside the car as Tennis banged to a stop. Lozoya went to the hospital and Tennis went to the headquarters to speak to the union lawyer before proffering his statement.

Sitting in the dim newspaper conference room with a neglected gas station soda at his elbow, Tennis tells me that it was at the stationhouse where he learned what he and Lozoya had done.

“I was sitting there in a room and nobody was telling me how he was doing,” Tennis says.

Who, I ask.

“Joseph Mann,” he says. Tennis looks to the side and shifts his jaw. “Just give me a minute please.”

He goes on.

“They told me he was dead.”

‘A category that nobody wants to be in’

Vern says she doesn’t remember the call where her dad told her what happened to Joe. She just knows that she can no longer go inside the restaurant where she answered her phone.

“I think it’s because I mentally shut down. I know it is, because you told me my baby brother is …” she says, not completing the thought. “This is a category that nobody wants to be in. And it’s thrust upon you.”

Robert got the next phone call. He left work and rushed to police headquarters, seeking answers to impossible questions. He says the homicide detectives unbuttoned their lips just enough to tell him what would appear in a department press release later that day: His brother came at officers with a knife. They had no choice, so they shot him multiple times.

Joseph Mann was responsible for his own demise.

The explanation infuriated Robert.

“I know that’s not my brother. My brother doesn’t carry guns. My brother doesn’t act erratic. My brother doesn’t harm anybody. Because I’ve been with my brother all 50 years of my life. I know who my brother is,” he says. “It was heartbreaking to me, because my first instinct was to act a fool.”

Instead, Robert promised the detectives he would get to the bottom of things and left the station. Inside his car, his body shook without his permission.

A few days later, a bystander’s cellphone recording surfaced. Then the Sacramento Bee got hold of the business surveillance video showing the actual shooting. Together, they contradicted aspects of the official account. Joseph Mann appeared to be the hunted instead of the hunter.

Under mounting community pressure, the Police Department made the unprecedented decision to release a trove of internal recordings documenting the incident. SN&R was the first to report that Tennis and Lozoya tried to run Mann over before shooting him. Mann’s story drew national attention. It joined a blossoming chronicle of questionable law enforcement killings. Tennis says he and Lozoya received “legitimate death threats” that caused their department to assign officers outside their homes.

The repercussions came in slow waves. The police chief announced his retirement at the end of 2016. This January, the City Council passed a slate of accountability measures for the Police Department, instituting a video-release policy and creating a community-staffed police commission. A month later, the city settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Joseph Mann’s father for a little over $700,000.

But the Mann family wasn’t satisfied.

“They kind of pressured my dad into taking the little money that they gave him to try to close out the case as quickly as possible,” Robert says. “I was still upset, because I felt like nothing really had been accomplished. So what, you gave my dad a few dollars. But what about the accountability?”

Behind the scenes, the Police Department was exploring a similar question.


In October 2016, Tennis says, Internal Affairs opened its investigation into the Mann shooting. Tennis claims the three-month gap between the shooting and the start of the I.A. inquiry is unprecedented and shows that the department was politically motivated to get rid of him and Lozoya.

Chief Hahn says there’s nothing unusual about the time frame, since I.A. only begins its work after the criminal investigation and an administrative use-of-force review are completed. “We want them to have all the evidence,” he says.

When the ax started to swing over the summer, Tennis says it became a race for him and Lozoya to medically retire from duty before the department fired them. Lozoya with his bad legs crossed the finish line; Tennis with his respiratory problems didn’t.

Tennis was already under the pall of a separate I.A. investigation, he says. Four months before the Mann shooting, Tennis says, he accidentally struck a 15-year-old assault suspect and a fellow officer with his patrol vehicle out by Grant High School.

“Never happened before,” Tennis says. “And then some other things happened. Obviously I can’t go into that.”

All Tennis will say is that those other things—and not the collision—are what prompted his sergeant to file an internal affairs complaint against him. When a commanding officer files a complaint against an officer, it has a better chance of being substantiated than one coming from a civilian. It’s what cops refer to as getting “blue-sheeted.”

“It was kind of an extreme call and there were some issues,” Tennis acknowledges. “I knew it was going to go somewhere. … When you’re blue-sheeted by a supervisor, you’re not gonna win.”

After Mann’s death, however, Tennis says I.A. revised the complaint to say he had a pattern of hitting suspects with his car. Tennis says he was suspended for a month without pay. When he returned to duty at the end of May, Tennis says, he was called into his supervisor’s office. “I said, ’Oh, you’re going to fire me today, aren’t you?’”

Two officers Tennis says he knew escorted him to the internal affairs office. He glanced down at their hips. Had they always worn their guns inside the station? Then he noticed how they were pacing slightly behind and flanking him, in what’s called a bladed stance, which officers employ when dealing with subjects of volatile intent. Tennis told his fellow cops they didn’t have to treat him this way.

“Do you honestly believe I’m gonna go postal?” he says he told them. “I got four kids.”

In I.A., he was stripped of his badge and placed on administrative leave, a precursor to his termination. Then the two officers walked Tennis out of the station and off the premises.

“And that was the end of that. It was pretty humiliating,” Tennis says. “It’s literally being treated like a criminal.”

This past October, the Police Department announced that Tennis and Lozoya were no longer employed by the agency. Citing a California law concerning peace officers’ personnel records, Hahn says he is prohibited from providing additional details.

That hasn’t stopped Tennis from making the unusual decision to share some of those details himself.

Tennis discloses that the official grounds for his termination were that he violated the Police Department’s general orders regarding use of force, discharging a firearm, professional conduct and the agency’s code of ethics—“whatever that means.”

“Basically the department said I had no reason to do anything I did,” he says. “I had no reason to get out of my car. I had no reason to approach him. No one was in danger. The public wasn’t in danger. Officers weren’t in danger.”

Looking down at his termination letter, Tennis reads the following: “’Use of force was not necessary for self defense, [to] affect an arrest, prevent his escape or overcome his resistance.’” He looks up. “So what they’re saying is that I was 100 percent wrong, according to the general orders,” he says.

If that’s the case, Tennis says he should be charged with a crime.

“Am I a murderer? Or am I not a murderer?”

In June, the surviving Mann siblings hired local civil rights attorney Mark Merin, who filed a new federal lawsuit seeking not money but answers. The city tried to argue that Joe’s two brothers and two sisters don’t have the same legal standing that their father did to sue. In September, the judge ruled that they do. The city is appealing that decision.

“That’s where we are,” Merin says.

Somewhere in there, Thanksgiving arrived. What was left of the Mann family gathered around an incomplete table, broke bread and muddled through.

“Him being gone right now, it’s like there’s a hole,” Vern says. “There’s a spot gone right now. That’s Joe. Joe’s missing.”

Seventeen months after his brother’s death, Robert says his family has no intention of stopping its crusade until Tennis and Lozoya face criminal charges.

“From the very beginning, it was never about money,” he says. “I want them to be held accountable. I want them to be prosecuted. I’m not going to stop until they’re prosecuted.”

Tennis makes a very different promise to his former employer.

“I told them I am not going out the backdoor with your boot in my ass. I’m leaving the front door like I’ve earned,” he says of his employment claim against the department. “Because I hate to say this, but this is going to cost a lot of money. I’m going to get my job back.”

Like it has done in every similar case for more than 30 years, the Sacramento County district attorney’s office ruled the officer-involved shooting a clean one. Tennis is free from criminal prosecution, but feels a prisoner of his tarnished reputation. His parents, who are in their 80s, canceled Christmas this year due to the enduring scrutiny over what their son did one summer morning a year ago.

“They kind of had a breakdown over this,” he says. “That’s the kind of stuff that really upsets me.”

The job and its bleak visions have always provided ample stress, but Tennis finds the dark moods gathering more frequently now. He gets mad at what he hears about himself on the television. He feels discarded by his department, and embittered that his name is now associated with all those reckless, rash and abusive cops who throw their cities into sorrow-stricken turmoil.

Tennis refuses to see himself as one of them. “I live for my children,” he says. “They’re trying to throw me in the same boat as those [shootings] you see that are bad, that anger me.”

All those shifts spent in emergency rooms waiting with the despondent and mentally ill. All those times he’s gotten suspects McDonald’s before taking them to jail. All those uneventful contacts where nobody went to jail.

And this is what he’ll be remembered for.

Every once in a while, out in the world, Tennis says, he gets “the look.”

He shrugs his long, slanted shoulders. He’s nursing a slight limp, the result, he says, of doing weighted sprints up the stairs of the Westfield Galleria at Roseville. He dismisses the injury and underlines it at the same time. It’s nothing, he says. He was pushing himself too hard, exhausting his body in the hopes of quieting his mind. Nightmares, he says. Gasping lungs, he says. Phantom thoughts haunt his sleep. A coffin darkens his heart. He flashes a thin smile. It’s nothing, he says again.

Temporarily unburdened of his grievances, Tennis walks a little stiffly to the door. I ask him one more question before he leaves. I ask him what he would say to Joseph Mann’s family.

Tennis says he actually offered to meet with them right after the shooting, to show them he was a regular guy, a dad. The lawyers scuttled that idea. He says he wishes them peace, and a passage through their grief and anger.

“I know when you lose a kid, you never get over that,” he says. “I know it’s a goddamned shame when you have a kid murdered—”

Tennis stops and resets himself: “… killed by the cops.”

It’s a momentary gaffe. An unfortunate mistake. The story of John Tennis is full of them.

 

 

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Magic the Gathering Arena

I’ve been in the Magic the Gathering Arena beta for quite a while, but only this week the NDA dropped. So now I can finally express how incredibly disappointed I am with this game. In Magic Duels they had a great game which was mobile and playable for all different sorts of players, including casual and new players. And they stopped supporting that to make Magic Arena, which is solely tailored for the needs of a very small hardcore crowd.

Magic the Gathering is 25 years old this year. So over the years there have been quite a lot of digital editions of the game. And every time, after a few years Wizards of the Coast stopped support of the current platform and launched a new platform. Which means that every time any cards you had bought became useless, and you needed to start your collection all over again. One needs to be very hardcore under those conditions to invest heavily into Magic Arena. But with Magic being the original pay to win game, the people who do invest heavily have a huge advantage over those who don’t.

Because Magic Arena only features a single player vs. player mode, constructed, this mode is dominated by those hardcore players. You simply can’t start up Magic Arena and play a fun, casual game. There are neither casual PvP modes like two-headed giant, nor are there any modes to play against an AI of various difficulty levels for practice or just plain fun. There aren’t even less cutthroat competitive events, like limited mode leagues. There is only hardcore constructed, where anybody who isn’t hardcore and who hasn’t spent much on cards is just simply crushed. There doesn’t even appear to be some sort of matchmaking algorithm to even try to get people a more equal opponent.

That means that the flow of play of Magic Arena for a new player looks like this: He starts his first game, gets crushed, then gets crushed again and again, until he either uninstalls the game, or pulls out his wallet to be able to play with the big boys. My guess is that very few people will opt for the latter. It is as if the developers had carefully studied exactly what made Hearthstone such a big success and then decided to do exactly the opposite. Magic the Gathering simply isn’t such a mass market game any more that you can run a digital platform only for the hardcore.

I really don’t understand why Wizards of the Coast had to stop supporting Magic Duels, they could have kept that one going for the casual and mobile players. There is no overlap in the target audience of Magic Duels and Magic Arena. And now I am really sad that there isn’t any digital Magic game for me any more.

Here is how tech companies are responding to the repeal of net neutrality

Save the Internet

Unless you’ve been in living under a rock the past several months, you knew that a vote on net neutrality was coming. It played out just as everyone suspected and the FCC voted to reclassify internet service providers like Comcast, Spectrum, and Verizon. The vote removed restrictions on the companies that many felt were vital to an open and fair internet.

Here are how some large tech companies are reacting the vote.

Google

Google is a proponent of net neutrality and has repeatedly voiced its support of it in the past. In a statement released to news organizations after the vote, Google pledges to continue to follow the policies of net neutrality. Here is its statement in full:

We remain committed to the net neutrality policies that enjoy overwhelming public support, have been approved by the courts, and are working well for every part of the internet economy. We will work with other net neutrality supporters large and small to promote strong, enforceable protections.

Facebook

Facebook is another company that voice support for strong net neutrality regulations. Many fear that with the repeal of net neutrality, world-changing companies like Facebook may never be able to sprout up. Facebook’s COO released the following statement after the vote:



Netflix

As the largest video streaming service on the internet, Netflix has a vested interest making sure people are able to stream their content. Even though the company has seemingly waffled on its net neutrality, it came out with a firm statement stating, “We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality.” Here is the company’s full statement:

Amazon

Amazon is another of the tech giants that stood behind net neutrality. With its repeal, Amazon’s Chief Technology Officer took to Twitter to share his statement:

Microsoft

Microsoft is a staunch supporter of net neutrality, saying earlier this year, “Without an open internet, broadband internet access service providers gain the power to outright prevent edge content and services from reaching their customers, levy tolls on edge providers and customers for access to edge content and services, and pick winners and losers in the internet economy, thus subjecting edge provider success to the control of broadband internet access services providers rather than the forces of customer demand.” After the vote, its Chief Legal Officer made the following statement:

Reddit

Reddit bills itself as the “Front Page of the Internet”. It’s another company like Facebook that was started by a couple of kids and turned into a phenomenon. If you’ve used the site any time in the last few weeks, you’ll know that the site and (most of) its users are strong supporters of net neutrality. In a statement today, Reddit CEO Steve Hufmann (Spez) said in part:

It is disappointing that the FCC Chairman plowed ahead with his planned repeal despite all of this public concern, not to mention the objections expressed by his fellow commissioners, the FCC’s own CTO, more than a hundred members of Congress, dozens of senators, and the very builders of the modern internet.

Nevertheless, today’s vote is the beginning, not the end. While the fight to preserve net neutrality is going to be longer than we had hoped, this is far from over.

You can read the statement in its entirety here.

Comcast

Comcast is one of the companies that could seemingly benefit from the net neutrality changes. Many fear that companies like Comcast could wield its power to prevent users from reaching sites or streaming video content to benefit its own platforms.

But, According to a blog post by Senior Vice President David L. Cohen, Comcast believes that Congress should move to enact net neutrality laws. Its stance is that the rules enacted by the FCC were just governmental overreach, but it really supports net neutrality. Whether you believe that or not is up to you, but you can read the full blog post here.

Charter/Spectrum

Charter is the second largest ISP in the country and obviously had its eye on the FCC’s meeting. After the vote, the company released a statement on its website that read in part, ” Charter has been consistent and clear: we support a vibrant and open internet that enables our customers to access the lawful content of their choice when and where they want it. We commend the FCC Chairman and Commissioners for their action today that re-establishes the light touch regulatory framework that had been in place for decades when the Internet took root and grew into an important tool for daily life and a major engine of economic growth.”

You can read the rest of its comment here.

AT&T

AT&T repeated many of the same sentiments as Comcast and Charter. AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs, Bob Quinn, took to the web to express that the repeal of net neutrality laws isn’t that big of a deal.

In the post, Quinn states, “AT&T intends to operate its network the same way AT&T operates its network today: in an open and transparent manner. We will not block websites, we will not throttle or degrade internet traffic based on content, and we will not unfairly discriminate in our treatment of internet traffic (all consistent with the rules that were adopted – and that we supported – in 2010, and the rules in place today).”

You can read the full post here.

Verizon

Verizon hosts a Broadband Commitment website that states, “Verizon supports the Open Internet, and is committed to offering services that allow our customers to take full advantage of all of the lawful content and services that the Internet has to offer.” Speaking to Inverse yesterday, Verizon spokesperson Rich Young backed up that sentiment with this statement, “Verizon fully supports the open Internet, and we will continue to do so. Our customers demand it and our business depends on it.”

T-Mobile

T-Mobile released a very short statement after the vote. It reads, “We always have and will support an open internet that enables us to provide new and innovative services to our customers and keep them first! We will continue to provide amazing service and support to our customers each day!”

Sprint

Sprint’s statement on the repeal of net neutrality is longer than T-Mobile’s, but says just as little. It reads, “Sprint applauds the FCC’s efforts to simplify a complex and challenging issue, while balancing multiple stakeholder interests in this important proceeding. Our position has been and continues to be that competition is the best way to promote an open internet. Complex and vague regulations previously created uncertainties around net neutrality compliance. The Commission’s decision today eliminates those uncertainties and appears to allow Sprint to manage our network and offer competitive products.”


Which company had the best response?

Netgear Orbi RBK50

Fiddling around with technology that doesn’t work makes me very nervous. On the plus side I am then mighty pleased when I finally get everything working. And so I am happy to report that after fiddling I managed to dramatically improve the WiFi reception in my home by installing a Netgear Orbi RBK50.

For the last few years I have been using a Linksys EA7500 WiFi router. That worked, but in spite of the promises on the box about covering a “medium household”, WiFi reception in my den was always feeble. The den is only two rooms away from the office with the router, but the room between is the bathroom, and so there is one tiled wall without an opening in the way. That appears to block the signal quite drastically, so it takes the long way around. It was okay for web surfing, but not ideal for things like Netflix streaming. And then I bought the Switch. The Switch has one major drawback regarding Wifi, in that it has the world worst WiFi antenna. When your tablet shows 2 bars instead of 3, the Switch already can’t find any signal at all any more. So I had to move the Switch next to the base station every time I wanted to download something. Time for an upgrade.

I surfed the internet for recommendations (which also told me that Linksys routers aren’t considered to be very good) and found that a lot of people liked the Netgear Orbi. Just to make sure I took the RBK50 system, which has both a base station and one satellite for range extension. I had tried a Linksys extender, which had worked to some degree, but failed to use the same SSID as the base station as promised on the box. With Netgear Orbi there was no problem. I could put the satellite in the den, and it would still get a good signal from the base station and then enhance it. So now I have 75 Mbit/s WiFi connection everywhere in my home! Even the Switch shows three bars of WiFi connection.

The fiddling was necessary to get my printers working, which didn’t like the Orbi switching to a completely new IP gateway address. So I had to change the Orbi to access point mode, which then mysteriously messed up everything and I had to factory reset my main router as well as the Orbi system to get everything working again. It is still a mystery to me why everything goes fast on a computer, except for network connections: Every time you reset a router or network card, it takes several minutes to establish a network.

Anyway, everything is working now, and at 15 times the speed necessary for Netflix HD streaming (or 3 times the speed for Netflix Ultra HD streaming, which I don’t have the Netflix streaming plan for). Which means that both me and my wife can stream video without a download on the computer slowing down by much. Nice!

FCC officially repeals net neutrality rules: what now?

Huffington Post

Net neutrality is officially dead, but what does that mean for Internet users in the US and beyond? Will it ever come back? Read on to find out.

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Brief background

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about net neutrality, an ongoing debate in the US. Net neutrality required service providers to treat every content equally: no throttling, blocking, or providing preferential treatment for additional fee. These rules were one of the Obama-era FCC’s signature achievements, but with Ajit Pai in charge, a former Verizon employee, and two other Republicans, the organization’s stance on net neutrality has changed drastically. The FCC wanted to get rid of net neutrality altogether and undo the classification of ISPs as Title II common carriers, and that’s precisely what they voted to do on December 14.

December 14 vote

As expected, the FCC voted 3-2 to repeal these landmark regulations just few days ago, the organization claiming that “the Internet wasn’t broken in 2015.” Pai commented, “We were not living in some digital dystopia. The main problem consumers have with the Internet is not and has never been that their Internet provider is blocking content. It’s been that they don’t have access at all.”

The two Democrat commissioners who dissented echoed the sentiments of net neutrality advocates: Jessica Rosenworcel says that the FCC’s “rash decision” gives Internet providers permission to “discriminate and manipulate your internet traffic.” Mignon Clyburn delivered a powerful and impassioned defense, claiming that the FCC’s vote was “particularly damning… for marginalized groups, like communities of color, that rely on platforms like the internet to communicate.”

Legal challenges?

Let’s first examine the legal implications, and the bottom line is that there will be lawsuits with a lot of interveners, challenging the FCC’s vote. Public interest groups like Free Press and Public Knowledge have already declared that they will challenge the repeal in court; the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he and other attorneys general from more than 15 states will file a legal challenge in the coming days.

These legal claims are likely to rely on the Administrative Procedures Act, which prohibits federal agencies from acting in a “capricious” manner, going back and forth on decisions with changes in political administration. However, as Wired points out, “As capricious as the current FCC’s about-face may seem, legal experts say the challenges won’t be a slam-dunk case. Federal agencies are allowed to change their minds about previous regulations, so long as they adequately explain their reasoning.” The onus is on the claimants to show that the FCC’s decision is a capricious one, which is going to be difficult to prove.

It’s going to be difficult to prove that the repeal was a capricious decision.

Net neutrality advocates may also point out that while the FCC claims that 7.5 million comments it received during the public review period were spam, created by bots, it is refusing to help investigations into what happened. It’s unlikely to have much weight, unfortunately.

Will average users feel the change?

Yes and no. It’s unlikely that Internet users in the US will be impacted – either positively or negatively ­– by the repeal overnight. As AT&T’s senior executive VP Bob Quinn points out, the Internet will “continue to work tomorrow just as it always has.” In fact, many service providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon have promised not to block or throttle content. For now. The catch here is that their stance may change in the future, and even if it doesn’t and they continue to stay away from blocking or throttling content, they may still create fast lanes for their own services or for those who pay a premium.

Indeed, what we are likely to see in the future is an expanded form of zero-rating where service providers exempt certain streaming services from data counts. Carriers have been doing this even under net neutrality rules were (though the legal validity of this practice was called into question multiple times); without net neutrality rules, there is nothing even remotely getting in the way of these carriers from providing preferential treatment to its own streaming services.

Further, contrary to Pai’s statement that the Internet wasn’t broken even before 2015, and contrary to his supporters who claim that carriers won’t dare throttle or block content in fear of public backlash, the long-term effects of the FCC’s vote could be devastating. Comcast throttling BitTorrent connections, AT&T blocking voice-call services like Skype and FaceTime, or Netflix paying additional fees to Verizon are the sorts of behavior that we saw prior to net neutrality rules and there’s no reason why they wouldn’t return now that net neutrality rules have been repealed.

Comcast throttling BitTorrent or AT&T blocking FaceTime are the sorts of behavior that we saw prior to net neutrality rules.

Ultimately, the FCC’s decision gives significant leeway to ISPs: they may one day decide to block certain apps and websites, slow down content provided by competitors, bury relevant but unpaid search results, etc. Consumers in the US may end up having to choose Internet packages like TV channels, similar to what we see in some European countries. The most popular websites like Google, Amazon, and Netflix may one day be dispersed and inconveniently grouped into separate, overpriced packages. Want Google as well as Netflix? Pay up!

What about those outside the US?

Of course, given that the FCC is a US organization, its decision to repeal net neutrality rules won’t have a direct impact on other countries and users in other countries. However, if your country does have legislation similar to net neutrality rules, you might want to keep an eye on the political side of things. Policy decisions made in the US usually have a far-reaching indirect effect on neighboring countries, Anglophone countries, and countries that have special ties with the US.

Even if your country has made it clear that it wants to uphold net neutrality rules or the equivalent legislation, there may be financial factors to consider. If companies like Netflix or Spotify are adversely affected by the FCC’s decision in the US and are forced to pay more by ISPs, they will most likely increase monthly subscription fees for users in the US as well as for users outside the US.

What can you do?

Unfortunately, for those of you who are in support of net neutrality rules, there isn’t much to be done right now. Over the next few months, we will see legal battles between public interest groups and attorneys general and the FCC; we will see heated political debates; we will see predictions from both sides – those who are in favor and those who are not. Only time will tell if net neutrality rules were indeed preventing the arrival of cyber-dystopia or if they were simply an obstacle to corporate profit and further investment.

The NBA 2K franchise back with NBA 2K18 now in the Play Store

2K, Inc

  • NBA 2K18, the newest entry in the iconic franchise, is now on the Play Store
  • The game includes updated mechanics, an expanded script in career mode, and a new game mode
  • The soundtrack features artists like Kendrick Lamar, Naughty by Nature, and Nas

It’s never been a better time to be a sports fan with a smartphone. Not only are there an endless amount of apps like theScore and 365 Sports that keep you up to date on your teams, but sports games are getting better and better. Most of the important sports franchises are available as mobile versions now. The list includes ultra-popular titles like Madden, Fifa, NBA 2K18 and more.

The latest version of NBA 2K just hit the Play Store with a ton of improvements over last year’s version. New features like an improved MyCAREER mode and “The Association” mode join an improved soundtrack. In the updated career mode, the script has been expanded and more interactions are available for your player. Association Mode is a new multi-season mode that reminds us a lot of Dynasty Mode from other games. 

See also

Music has always been a staple of sports games and it’s no different for NBA 2K18. 2K promises an “eclectic mix” of music with artists like Future, Kendrick Lamar, Shakira, Nas and more. Gameplay controls are now improved and new gameplay mechanics like sprinting on defense are now included in the game. 

2K came under fire earlier this year for the console version of NBA 2K. The game is packed with microtransactions for everything from improving your career mode player to giving your player a new haircut. Sadly, it looks like the mobile version is no different. On top of the $7.99 price tag, NBA 2K18 features in-app purchases that range all the way up to $49.99. Ouch.

People don’t seem to mind, though, because the game currently sits at a 4.0 rating on the Play Store. There are only about 250 reviews so that may change, but we’ll have to wait to find out. If you want to check out NBA 2K18, hit the button below.

get it at google play