The forest moon of Endor , is a moon in the Star Wars universe. It is a forested world covered by giant trees. It first appears in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, in which it is the body in whose orbit the second Death Star is constructed, and is the home of a race of furry aliens called Ewoks. The moon later appears in the Ewok TV movies Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, as well as the animated Marvel Comics series Star Wars: Ewoks. It also inspired the exterior queue for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Wikipedia.

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News Article | May 20, 2017

Editors' note: As the 40th anniversary of Star Wars approaches, we continue our look at the many ways the sci-fi mega-franchise has impacted our lives. I'm 35. So unlike some of my more, ahem, senior colleagues, I didn't have the pleasure of seeing the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time in the cinema. I saw the first three movies on the big screen when they were re-edited and rereleased though, because they had made a big impact on me at a young age. We got a VHS machine when I was about 7. It was one of the first front-loading models and weighed about as much as a small car. Suddenly a world of prerecorded entertainment was open to me at our grubby local video store. This was long before the internet, of course, a more innocent, less heavily marketed time. The media wasn't a viciously efficient machine for wringing cash out of parents. I didn't have many toys based on TV shows -- Tygra the Thundercat with realistic whip action, but that was it -- and my friends and I in small-town England hadn't really heard of Star Wars. As a kid you don't know what's "good" -- at least critically speaking. More importantly, my parents didn't know what was good either. They were too old to be into stuff like Star Trek and Star Wars and just wanted me to watch nice things that wouldn't make me violent. So among all the tapes of "Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers", I picked out a fantasy-looking thing. It was "Ewoks: The Battle for Endor". Oh, sweet summer child. I don't remember the cover, but a Google Image search turned up this (the "U" is the kid-friendly universal certificate in the UK) and it looks right. There's a monster with a sword and a guy with a gun and some funny-looking creatures. I reckon I was trying to pick something that looked grown-up and my parents let me have it because of that U. Now, if you haven't heard of this opus, I don't blame you. It's a 1985 made-for-TV sequel to the better known but widely derided "Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure". (I rented that too, I remember, and didn't like it as much.) Despite being poorly regarded in general, it has some serious talent -- Wilford Brimley from "The Thing", Sian Phillips from "Dune", Paul Gleason from "Die Hard". George Lucas is credited with the story and executive-produced it, though both "Ewoks" movies were stricken from the official Star Wars "canon" when he sold Lucasfilm to Disney. Co-writers and directors Ken and Jim Wheat went on to create "Pitch Black" and the Riddick universe. It must have made a big impression because I got my poor parents to rent the crap out of that thing. My most abiding memory is the battle around the family's ship at the beginning. The young heroine Cindel is hiding. She has a bracelet with coloured lights for each of her family members and looks in terror as the lights go out one by one. (What a horrific concept, by the way. Like Mrs. Weasley's clock but much more terrifyingly binary: your family is alive or dead.) Then there's the adorable Wicket, the plucky little fuzzball with a leather cap, a little spear and sass up to his elbows. (Having not seen "Return of the Jedi" I was unaware Ewoks are willing to eat humans.) He rescues Cindel and they find a grumpy old wizard guy and they help each other ... that's about as much as I remember. There's a witch, I think? Like "Anne of Green Gables" with blasters. And that's the key. The blasters. It was the production design, copied and pasted from Star Wars proper, that captured my imagination. The mix of sci-fi and fantasy, pew-pew lasers and wizards in the woods, was a heady combination for my little mind. Long before Star Wars became a cultural juggernaut, I bumbled across this odd little corner of it, a wild, wooly offshoot. And even though it was rubbish, it still had enough of that magic to ensnare and ensorcel me. Later, I saw the original trilogy on TV (I remember wearing out a recording of "Empire Strikes Back" with Christmas ads) and loved it, and eventually in the theatre. But only grudgingly would I admit these movies were superior to "Battle for Endor", my first taste of that galaxy far away. Batteries Not Included: The CNET team shares experiences that remind us why tech stuff is cool.

News Article | May 8, 2017

There's no one true type of Star Wars fan. Here at CNET, we range from people who saw the first film when it came out in 1977 to one patient reporter who was forced to see "A New Hope" a couple of years ago, for work! As part of our monthlong special series celebrating four decades of Star Wars, we share our most enduring memories of seeing the movie that kicked off the global phenomenon. Begin the opening crawl -- and be sure to share your own memories in the comments section. I watched the first three movies back home in Barcelona when I was a little girl. I actually watched them when they aired on TV, dubbed in Catalan. Whenever I think about Han Solo I still can hear his Catalan voice and not Harrison Ford's. I was already a big fan of the original trilogy when I moved to Los Angeles. In 2007, a friend of mine was visiting and we got tickets to see "Episode IV: A New Hope" at the ArcLight Cinemas. George Lucas was presenting it. I can't remember a single thing Lucas said, just the excitement we felt. We were kids from Barcelona, in Hollywood, at an event with one of our favorite filmmakers. And we were about to see -- on the big screen and not dubbed in Catalan -- one of our favorite childhood movies. -- Patricia Puentes, San Francisco I was in the first grade in 1977 when about 40 of us went to see "Star Wars" for my friend Jason Stern's birthday party. We'd heard about how great "Star Wars" was from the older kids and how there was this bad guy who wore shiny black (Vader) and a big life-sized muppet (Chewy). We were blown away by the music, the sabers and the Stormtroopers. I went from collecting DC and Marvel comics action figures to gathering those tiny Kenner figures that I could stuff in my coat pocket. I lost a lot of those little sabers. -- Terry Collins, San Francisco I don't remember a lot about the film itself (or, at least, details of that 1997 Special Edition screening that haven't blurred into every other viewing since then). But what made the experience so great was seeing it with my dad. I knew Star Wars was important to him, and being asked to go along was a Big Deal. Even as a young padawan, that opening fanfare felt momentous -- like I was being let in on a major cultural moment. When I got invited to the premiere of "The Force Awakens" 18 years later, Dad flew up to Sydney to see it with me. I was a professional nerd for CNET now, so the new film was a big deal for me. But when that overture blared out through the IMAX theater, I still grabbed his hand! -- Claire Reilly, Sydney I grew up watching action adventure films with my dad, who loved epics like "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (with Errol Flynn) and "The Thief of Bagdad" (the 1940 version). So when I watched "Star Wars" for the first time, it was just like my favorite movies, only set in space! Good guys, bad buys, an evil emperor, a scary henchman with a scary voice, a wise-cracking pilot, a Wookiee, robots, a fearless princess. What's not to love? The movie also inspired one of my first maker projects. I know I should say it was a homemade lightsaber, but I admit I spent a lot of time with earmuffs and pink foam rollers, trying to replicate Princess Leia's hair for Halloween. I ended up co-opting one of my mom's best white tablecloths so I could dress up and repeat Carrie Fisher's best lines, including my favorite: "Someone has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, fly boy." -- Connie Guglielmo, San Francisco In the summer of 1977, my mom asked me if I wanted to see a movie. "It's like 'Star Trek,'" she said. I told her I didn't want to. I was 7 years old and enjoyed "Star Trek" reruns. Maybe I was just being contrary. I went anyway with her, my grandma and a friend. I remember almost nothing else about that day except the movie itself. Was this like it was for a much earlier generation seeing a "talkie" for the first time? It was that earthshaking. It attached itself to me. Over the years, it became like a family member whose flaws are apparent, but you love them deeply anyway. That may sound completely silly to say about a movie. But you've seen it, right? I never said "no" to another Star Wars movie again. -- Anne Dujmovic, Portland, Oregon The origins of my deep love for Star Wars are a little hazy, and I can't even recall whether I watched it in a theater, a drive-in (yes, that was a thing back then) or on VHS. I do remember being freaked out by the trash compactor scene and the weird one-eyed monster (which I only later learned was called a dianoga) floating around our heroes. Was this a sci-fi adventure or horror film? I scared easily back then. I have stronger memories of reading Star Wars picture books at my local library (that too was a thing back then) and my older cousin's model X-Wing. The massive Star Wars marketing machine sunk its claws in me at an early age -- I didn't stand a chance. -- Roger Cheng, New York It was 1997 and my brother and I were given the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition VHS box set as a joint Christmas present. We'd never even heard of Star Wars before, but the shiny gold box intrigued us, and on Dec. 26 we begged and pleaded with our parents to crack it open. That evening we sat down as a family to watch "A New Hope" in our pajamas (and only "A New Hope" -- my mum was very firm on this -- after that it was bedtime). Over six hours later we finally trundled off to bed. For me it was the beginning of a lifelong passion for both Star Wars and binge-watching things late into the night even when I'm doolally and need to sleep. -- Katie Collins, London I was only 3 when "A New Hope" first premiered, so I didn't see it until the rerelease. The scenes on Tatooine were my favorite. I thought the Jawas were funny and the shots of the Sandcrawler and of C-3PO and R2-D2 fleeing in the escape pod fascinated me. That's why my first Star Wars toy was Kenner's "Land of the Jawas playset." It probably took me until "Return of the Jedi" to get hooked on the series (my family had just gone to the Redwoods on vacation so I loved the speeder bike chase on Endor), but my husband was captivated right away. He tells a great story about what it was like to see "A New Hope" in 1977 while growing up in a small town in northern Wisconsin where there wasn't much around. From the very first scene when the massive underside of the Imperial Star Destroyer passed overhead, he immediately got the chills -- this was like nothing he had ever seen before. He went back to see it 12 times. -- Kent German, London I started working at CNET in 2012 with a dirty secret -- even though I worked for a tech publication with plenty of "geeky" co-workers, I'd never seen a Star Wars film. In fact, one of my first assignments was writing about Star Wars and I had to tell my editors I couldn't include film references because I'd never seen it. Fast-forward to early 2014, when I was relocating to CNET's San Francisco bureau. My colleagues in New York surprised me with a screening of "Star Wars" on one of my last days in the office. We all crowded into CNET's TV review lab, with its comfy couches and optimal viewing environment, to watch the film displayed by a fancy 4K projector. All I could say at the end was, "Where was Yoda?" When I arrived at my new desk in San Francisco, I was greeted with a sign that said, "Welcome to the Dark Side." -- Shara Tibken, San Francisco I was still quite young in 1979, not yet 5 years old, but I remember going to a drive-in to see a rerelease while visiting family down in Southern California. I recall being excited as soon as it started. My memory is mostly seeing the title on the big screen and the opening crawl (before the Episode IV bit was added) and leaning in toward the speaker on the car window to hear the music. -- Jeff Sparkman, San Francisco I'm guessing it was about 1979, definitely before "Empire" arrived, when a babysitter's movie-nut brother busted out an actual projector and showed us "Star Wars." An actual projector, pointed at a wall in their house in suburban Sydney, showing me "Star Wars" for the first time. My mind was blown. My most vivid memory was the opening scene of Stormtroopers storming the Corvette before Vader marches in. I don't remember much after that. Maybe my babysitter's brother only had the first reel of film? It was enough. My 3-year-old brain had already melted with delight. -- Seamus Byrne, Sydney We saw it on its rerelease in 1979 when my brother and I were very small. I remember big crowds, my parents deciding whether to take us to this "Star Wars" instead of "The Muppet Movie." The trash compactor scene terrified me! Along with the more obvious stuff like the Jawas' sandcrawler, I vividly remember the medal ceremony at the end. I think I thought Leia, Han and Luke were getting married. -- Kelsey Adams, San Francisco When "Star Wars" came out in 1977, it garnered buzz very quickly, even though the internet wasn't around. My parents took me to see the movie in San Jose, California, and the theater was packed. People were sitting in the aisles. Despite the crowds, I was engrossed from the very beginning. "Star Wars" portrayed a kind of adventure I'd never seen on film before, although I was reading plenty of science fiction at the time. And it all rose to a perfect ending when Luke, with the assistance of Han and a ghostly Obi-Wan, dropped his torpedoes down the exhaust port in the Death Star. I, and the entire theater, gave a collective gasp of relief when he made it. -- Wayne Cunningham, San Francisco I don't remember seeing "Star Wars" for the first time. Isn't that weird? It's something that's pervaded my life as a child and as an adult, and I don't know how it started. I was too young to see the original movies at the cinema, and we weren't big on videos -- the television is free, as my dad pointed out -- so I guess the first time I saw it must have been on TV. I do remember the TV series "Droids." Thirteen animated episodes of R2-D2 and C-3PO getting into scrapes, broadcast in the UK in 1986. The main character had the brilliantly fun-to-say name "Mungo Baobab" -- when's he going to get a spinoff movie, that's what I want to know. Growing up a sci-fi geek in the '80s was a strange experience, when the subject of my obsessions -- the actual Star Wars movies, Star Trek episodes, Doctor Who -- were largely absent. I devoured novelizations, comics, episode guides, making-of books, but the actual films and TV episodes were out of reach. Today, I can watch any one of them inside 10 seconds, on a phone in my pocket. Honestly, geeks these days don't know they're born. -- Richard Trenholm, London I was 9 in 1996 when I first saw any "Star Wars" film, and it was actually "Return of the Jedi!" At summer camp, my counselor picked it for us to watch on a rainy day ... maybe because the cute appearance of Ewoks was a good way to break us in before showing us the slightly more murderous events in the earlier two films. We eventually watched all three films on VHS that summer, and a year later I was happy to get to experience the trilogy in theaters for its "Special Edition" release. While I always enjoy the films, it's the parodies I appreciate most of all ... I mean check out Animal Vader from the "Muppet Babies!" --Mike Sorrentino, New York I wasn't even born when "Star Wars" first came out, and honestly I don't remember when I first watched it, but I recall bits and pieces from television growing up. Over the years, I found myself watching "Star Wars" on the PC -- illegally, of course -- along with the rest of the trilogy. I've since read most of the now Legends novels, rewatched the movies countless times after, and shed a tear or two when Chewbacca died (in the novels). It's only when I watched the remastered Special Edition in the theaters that I fully appreciated the cinematic experience -- though I must point out that Han Solo still did shoot first and no amount of retconning is going to change that for me. -- Aloysius Low, Singapore Tech Culture: From film and television to social media and games, here's your place for the lighter side of tech.

Some of the planets discovered around stars in our own galaxy could be very similar to arid Tatooine, watery Scarif and even frozen Hoth, according to NASA scientists. Sifting through data on the more than 3,400 confirmed alien worlds, scientists apply sophisticated computer modeling techniques to tease out the colors, light, sunrise and sunsets we might encounter if we could pay them a visit. Some of these distant worlds are even stranger than those that populate the latest Star Wars film, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." And others are eerily like the fictional planets from a galaxy far, far away. A real planet in our galaxy reminded scientists so much of Luke Skywalker's home planet, they named it "Tatooine." Officially called Kepler-16b, the Saturn-sized planet is about 200 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. The reality of its two suns was so startling, George Lucas himself agreed to the astronomers' nickname for the planet. "This was the first honest-to-goodness real planetary system where you would see the double sunset as two suns," said Laurance Doyle, an astrophysicist with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute and Director of the Institute for the Metaphysics of Physics, who discovered the planet using NASA's Kepler space telescope. A person on Kepler-16b would have two shadows. In a storm, two rainbows would appear. Each sunset would be unique, because the stars are always changing their configuration. Building a sundial would require calculus. Astronomers have discovered that about half of the stars in our Milky Way galaxy are pairs, rather than single stars like our sun. So while Kepler-16b aka Tatooine is probably too cold and gaseous to be home to life, or a hopeful desert farm boy, it's a good bet that there might be a habitable Tatooine "twin" out there somewhere. George Lucas has a fondness for desert planets, and at least one NASA scientist thinks he's on the right track. "Desert planets are possible. We have one right here in our solar system in Mars. We think desert planets elsewhere could be even more habitable than Mars is," said Shawn Domagal-Goldman, an astrobiologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He likes Lucas' proliferation of arid worlds because he believes it might reflect the galaxy we live in. "The recurring theme of desert worlds in 'Star Wars' is really interesting, because there is some research that shows that these would be likely habitable worlds to find," said Domagal-Goldman, who is, among other things, a climate scientist. Desert worlds are not only a very real possibility, but they are probably very common, he said. They could be hot, like Tatooine and Jakku, or cold, like Mars and Jedha in "Rogue One." "The lack of water on a desert planet might be what makes it more habitable. Water amplifies changes to climates and can cause planets to end up being really hot like Venus, or really cold like Europa," said Domagal-Goldman. There is a world named Hoth in our galaxy—an icy super-Earth discovered in 2006. It reminded scientists so much of the frozen Rebel base they unofficially nicknamed it after the planet that appears in "The Empire Strikes Back." The planet's scientific designation is OGLE 2005-BLG-390L, after the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) that found it. Our galaxy's Hoth is too cold to support life as we know it. But life may evolve under the ice of a different world, or a moon in our solar system. On Earth, it's been found inside volcanoes, deep ocean trenches, even the frozen soil of Antarctica. NASA is currently designing a Europa mission to look for life under the crust of Jupiter's icy moon Europa. And Saturn's moon Enceladus also contains an underground ocean that could harbor alien life. For the scientists who characterize exoplanets, the most important planet to study is Earth-the only known planet with life. And life on Earth began in the ocean. "We need Earth climate science to help us understand planetary habitability and the potential diversity of life on exoplanets," said astrobiologist Nancy Kiang, a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. As an astrobiologist, her job is to model the kind of plant life that might exist on planets around other stars—also known as exoplanets. We haven't confirmed the existence of ocean worlds like the perpetually rainy Kamino in "Attack of the Clones," or worlds with oceans, like the beachy Scarif from "Rogue One." But we have found frozen ocean worlds in our solar system, in the moons Europa and Enceladus. We may even be able to glimpse an ocean on an exoplanet in the not-so-distant future. "Ocean glint can be detected over large distances," said Victoria Meadows, a professor at the University of Washington and director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute's Virtual Planetary Laboratory. Such a glint was first observed reflecting from the liquid methane seas on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. Both the forest moon of Endor, from "Return of the Jedi," and Takodana, the home of Han Solo's favorite cantina in "The Force Awakens," are green like our home planet. But astrobiologists think that plant life on other worlds could be red, black, or even rainbow-colored. A few months ago, astronomers from the European Southern Observatory announced the discovery of Proxima Centauri b, a planet only 4 light-years away from Earth, which orbits a tiny red star. "The star color would be peachy to the human eye," Meadows said. "And the planet would appear dark purple to light purple, looking at it from a spacecraft." From the surface of Proxima b, the sky would appear to be periwinkle. The light from a red star, also known as an M dwarf, is dim and mostly in the infrared spectrum, as opposed to the visible spectrum we see with our sun. The planet also doesn't have sunrises or sunsets like Earth: one side always faces its sun. "If you have photosynthetic organisms, they would always get fixed amounts of light all the time. It would be a permanent sunset around the planet. You would see a gradation of color," Kiang said. Just as seaweed changes color from green to dark brown as you dive deeper into the ocean, plants on a red dwarf planet may brilliantly change color from the day side to the night side. And that could mean rainbow plant life. Just about any 'Star Wars' planet In the "Star Wars" universe, Lucas and company envision scores of worlds bustling with intelligent beings. In our galaxy, we know of only one such world so far-Earth. But NASA exoplanet scientist think we have a fighting chance of finding life beyond our solar system. The next few years will see the launch of a new generation of spacecraft to search for planets around other stars. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will attempt to determine what's in the atmospheres of other planets. Then, in the next decade, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will bring us images of exoplanets around sun-like stars. That's one step closer to finding life. "The idea of life on other planets resonates with people on a very personal level," Doug Hudgins, NASA's program scientist for exoplanet exploration, said of the "Star Wars" films' enduring popularity. "They portray this image of a universe that is teeming with life." "We are at our heart explorers," he said. "We want to know what's out there. Through the imaginings of George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry, we get to feel for a bit of time like we really can go out and explore the stars." Explore further: Tatooine worlds orbiting two suns often survive violent escapades of aging stars

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: NMP.2011.1.4-1 | Award Amount: 9.56M | Year: 2012

It is vital that nanomanufacturing routes facilitate an increase in production whilst being green, sustainable, low cost and capable of producing high quality materials. Continuous hydrothermal synthesis is an enabling and underpinning technology that is ready to prove itself at industrial scale as a result of recent breakthroughs in reactor design which suggest that it could now be scaled over 100 tons per annum. Academic specialists with international reputations in reactor modelling and kinetics and metrology will develop the know how needed to scale up the current pilot scale system. Selected project partners with expertise in sustainability modelling and life cycle assessment will quantify the environmental impact and benefits of a process that uses water as a recyclable solvent, whilst producing the highest quality, dispersed and formulated products. In addition to scale up production, the process will be improved through case studies with industrial end users in four key areas printed electronics with SOVY; surface coatings with CRF, PPG and SOVY; healthcare and medical with ENDOR and CERA; hybrid polymers and materials with TopGaN and REPSOL. Further value will be added to the Project by working on new materials that have been identified as key future targets but cannot be currently made, or made in significant quantities. The consortium is founded on the principle that the whole value chain (from nanoparticle production to final product) must be involved in the development of the technology. This will not only inform the development stages of the production process but also maximise market pull, rather than simply relying on subsequent technology push.

This invention discloses a new conjugate compound that comprises at least one HA oligomer derivatised through one thiolated linker, whereby it binds to at least one metal nanoparticle, such as, for example, a gold nanoparticle. Moreover, it discloses methods of obtaining it, as well as the use thereof in a cosmetic treatment, and cosmetic compositions that contain them.

News Article | July 2, 2015

Any "Star Wars" fan will tell you that the Battle of Endor was a crucial moment for Rebel forces trying to overthrow Darth Vader and his attempt to build a second Death Star. If it wasn't for Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, C-3PO and R2-D2 helping to take down the Empire -- not to mention the countless Ewoks who ended up giving their lives that day -- where would we be today? As part of its new "Real Fake History" series that parodies History Channel shorts, YouTube channel Machinima takes a closer look at the Battle of Endor from "Star Wars Return of the Jedi." Ken Burns-like documentary-style interviews feature two co-pilots who were also in the Millennium Falcon cockpit with Lando Calrissian and Sullustan smuggler Nien Nunb that fateful day when they attacked the second Death Star and lead the Rebels to victory. The former Rebel pilots, Bill Bendix and Mark Stargazer, talk about the stressful mission that almost didn't succeed. "We don't know what to do," Bendix said in the video. "We didn't have any training. They just put us in uniforms and threw us in there and said, 'Help out Lando.' And to make matters worse, I don't speak Sullustan. So I had absolutely no idea what Nien Nunb was saying." "Who the hell brings in a co-pilot that doesn't speak the same language as everybody else?" Stargazer asked. "It's unprofessional! What are you saying?! We're under attack!" He's got a good point. Not everyone can speak alien languages, especially during a war. Han Solo understands the Wookiee language of Shyriiwook, and of course, Huttese. Luke Skywalker can decipher droid beeps and Jawaese. And C-3PO knows all the languages including Ewokese (though technically some of those phrases are Tibetan). Luckily, Lando perfectly understood Nunb's native tongue of Sullustese (which is derived in real life from a mix of Kenyan languages Haya and Kikuyu), even if the other pilots didn't, and they ultimately helped the Rebels win the war again Darth Vader and the Empire, once and for all. More historical events to be dissected in upcoming "Real Fake History" episodes include the Battle of Castle Black from "Game of Thrones," the Battle of New York City from "The Avengers" and the Battle of Hong Kong from "Pacific Rim," just to name a few. New episodes of "Real Fake History" air Tuesdays on Machinima.

News Article | September 11, 2015

I’d heard all the stories: it was a narrative mess; a mash-up of first-person shooters and role-playing games, armed with a fistful of bad sci-fi tropes and writing to match. There didn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground with the game; it was either slavish devotion or outright hatred. But I had a brand-new PlayStation 4 on the way, so when I got home that night I ordered the first physical copy I could find. I wasn’t worried about The Taken King or expansions. I figured I’d use the game as a periodic distraction, just like I’d played Bungie’s Marathon trilogy back in the day. It didn’t quite work out that way. I still remember when I made that fateful decision. It was a summer night, and I’d had a couple of drinks, prowling around Los Angeles with some coworkers after a week of E3 tomfoolery. As we chattered along in the back of an Uber, we decided it was time for one more drink. (It’s always “just one more,” though of course it never really is.) We walked down the hallway of the hotel toward the bar in the back, and that’s when my colleague Sam Byford said the magic words. “Plante’s going to start it, too. I’ll get up early to play with you; I don’t care.” When I first started, nothing really stood out as problematic. I whipped up my character (an Awoken Hunter with red hair, natch), and after getting through the set-up mission I proceeded to run around the Tower realizing I had no idea what the hell was going on. My savior was Peter Dinklage. How bad can things be when Tyrion Lannister has your back? If you’ve never played Destiny, Dinklage provided the voice for your Ghost, a sort of floating robot spirit guide / deus ex machina that guides your trip. If you have played Destiny, then you know that Dinklage’s performance has been despised since the game’s earliest days. But for me, he was a companion and a friend; I was running through this post-apocalyptic galaxy doing ridiculous things against ridiculously named villains (the Vex? Really?) but how bad can things be when Tyrion Lannister has your back? It was only well after my Destiny chipping had grown into a daily habit (and the ensuing internet research began) that I realized other people didn’t like Dinklage’s performance. But I didn’t care whether the wizard he was talking about came from the moon or from Endor; I was in with Tyrion. But as my skills improved I realized something very sinister was at play. Because Destiny is both a shooter and an RPG, you spend a lot of time gaining experience so you can level up. Levelling up to get stronger, levelling up to wear better armor, levelling up to take advantage of more powerful weapons. When you hit a certain point, it becomes a brutal, slogging grind — and that’s not even taking into account the bizarre experience-plus-equipment formula the game used when you hit level 20. (It involved magic armor and something called Light; that system has thankfully now been fixed.) A therapist would point to some sort of latent obsessive-compulsive disorder Destiny became a sort of virtual to-do list for me: proceed along the story levels, complete bounties to work up points and currency to buy other things, rinse and repeat. For somebody like me, who spends a lot of time arranging the apps on their smartphone screen just so, there was something strangely appealing to it. I’m sure a good therapist would point to some sort of latent obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a need to bring order to the universe, but either way Destiny soon became an obsession. I’d grab a quick hour of gameplay after work, only to realize I’d somehow warped to 1AM. At which point I needed to wrap things up, of course, with another quick 15 minutes (that inevitably turned to another hour). My girlfriend, who had kindly requested I not turn into a gaming junkie when the PS4 arrived, started to ask about the clicking in the background when we’d talk on the phone. Or why I couldn’t remember certain topics that we’d discussed. Or why I talked about Peter Dinklage a lot. Look, I’m not proud, but I’m not going to lie to you, either. Crisis struck: I had to go on vacation Over the weeks, my obsession increased as I zeroed in on a level 30 character. That was a signpost of particular importance, because as I fell deeper into the game I did become interested in those expansion packs and the upcoming The Taken King. Players that hit level 30 when The Taken King came out would get exclusive digital stuff, you see, labelling them as early adopters who had taken on the challenges of Destiny well before The Taken King brought it to the commoners. (I’m fully aware that none of this makes any sense, but such is the power of gaming addiction.) At level 27, crisis struck: I had to go on vacation. Vacation where I wouldn’t be able to play my precious Destiny, stranding my ginger-haired avatar without means of advancing. I checked in on him with the Destiny mobile app during brief down moments, just to see what he’d accomplished (and where I could improve; the kill-death ratio on my last few missions hadn’t been so hot). And I made the mistake of reading some of the "grimoire cards" that are part of the game; little snippets of backstory and context that would have been integrated into the story in any kind of cohesive experience, but here were relegated to the backwaters of the web and mobile apps. And that’s when the emptiness started to creep in. After I got back home, I threw myself back into the game, rapidly advancing until I completed the story and hit level 30. I urged other friends to buy the game and join me in co-op missions, desperate to recapture that initial feeling of magic. I preordered The Taken King and began exploring the missions that came in the game’s first two expansion packs. I maxed out at level 32, high-end armor and weaponry across the board. I even started up a new character, hoping that beginning again with a Titan would somehow fill the void. It all came crashing down on August 14th. I was getting ready to head to Anaheim to cover an event, and just before I jumped in the car I saw the news: Xûr (a magical salesman that shows up in the game every week) was selling Gjallarhorn (a super-fancy rocket launcher). It was a coveted weapon, and my endorphins kicked into high gear as a single thought surged forth in my consciousness: I must have this. I turned on the TV and powered up the PS4. One quick trip to the Tower, and Gjallarhorn would be mine. I got there. I found him. He had it. And I was two credits short. "I can just play a quick mission to make up the difference," I thought. I tried. I failed. I looked at the clock. I had a 90-minute drive and a hotel check-in ahead of me. I could still do this. I tried again. It was one of Destiny’s no-bullshit group missions, where you can only resurrect if a team member revives you. If you all go down, it’s game over. We fought against the villain — some crazy wizard skull-looking thing in a room full of metallic scaffolding — and it was like being in an Iron Maiden video with a sniper rifle and a robot costume. I went down. The other two teammates got me back up. They went down. I got them up. Like being in an Iron Maiden video with a sniper rifle and a robot costume Then one of the players quit. There were two of us left. We battled hard, fast, back and forth as legions of monsters and magical glowing orbfire shot out at us. (I’m sure there’s a grimoire card explaining what the orbfire is made of, but I never found it.) Then I went down one final time. I waited for my teammate to revive me… and then he succumbed. I left the house and drove to the conference. I posted one sorrow-filled missive online, and then went inside. I don't know what's worse — that I understand this headline, or that I'm away from home and can't take advantage. — Bryan Bishop (@bcbishop) August 14, 2015 When I emerged two days later, I came back to the game, but my heart wasn’t in it. Sure, I was finally improving in some of the competitive Crucible matches, but that wasn’t what intrigued me about the game in the first place. And then the final crushing blow, a piece of news I’d missed after I’d returned from vacation: Dinklage was out, and gaming voice-over artist Nolan North was in. With The Taken King days away now, I’ve thought about returning to my former home. Bungie has promised a bit more of a coherent narrative this time around, which could be the thing to lure me back in and make me care again. I leapt online yesterday, in fact, to give the new levelling-up system a whirl. I couldn’t even remember how to wield my arc blade. I think it’s better that way. Although I never did play with Sam. Read next: Why I'm still addicted to Destiny, one year later

News Article | December 2, 2016

If you grew up with Star Wars you probably had dreams of becoming a pilot and flying epic space battles. Well now Propel is bringing this dream from a long time ago and a galaxy far away to reality with Star Wars Battle Quad drones. After launching in the UK, Propel’s Star Wars Battle Quad are now officially available in the United States. Retailed for $239 Brookstone and other retailers, you’ll have your choice between a T-65 X-Wing, Tie Advanced X1 (Darth Vader’s personal whip) and 74-Z Speeder Bike picked from the forest moon of Endor. Propel tells us a Millennium Falcon model is in the pipeline but isn’t available yet as the company is still working out the kinks of making what is essentially a pointed frisbee fly right. Each drone isn’t a cheap knock off either. They’re all carefully sculpted with intricate panel lines and details like a high-end collector’s model. That said, Propel had to make some concessions to turn these classic Star Ships into air worthy quadcopters. The X-Wing has a pelican-like gullet to make room for a battery along with two offshoots protruding from the main fuselage to support the two front rotors. Meanwhile, the Speeder Bike is nowhere as sleek as its film adaptation. The Tie Advanced X1 makes the smoothest transition to drone form as the body of the model simply stand on its rotors like four peg legs. On top of taking the shapes of your favorite childhood spaceships, the Battle Quads are a ton of fun to fly around. Able to reach a max speed of 40mph and accelerate from 0 to 35mph in three seconds, these things really zip around quickly. What’s more, these drones firing freaking lasers. You’ll be able to play out dogfights thanks to each drone being equipped with infrared sensors and emitters. Of course, no one just automatically becomes an ace pilot overnight. And so Propel has created a training program within to help drone fliers both young and old slowly ramp up their flying skills. An upcoming smartphone app will include a virtual training simulation that teaches users how the controls work and how to fly the drone. From there, users can switch the drone into a mode that keep the drone level and limits the speed to 10mph until they feel safe to take the training wheels off. At a launch event in New York, we got to play around with the drone in safety mode that was fun, but we can’t wait to really take this thing outside and fly about. The only negative thing we can pick out from these drones so far is you only get 6 to 8 minutes of flight time out of the batteries and fully recharging takes about 30 minutes. The good news two extra batteries are included in the box. Speaking of which, even the collectors box each drone comes in is special. Upon opening the package you’ll be greeted with a light up panel reminiscent of the Death Star interior and a speaker sounding off with the classic Star Wars fanfare. Overall, we think this is the drone Star Wars fans have been waiting for. The Battle Quads are also one of the best drones to pick up for kids if the training modes can really prevent them from crashing the drone immediately.

News Article | December 22, 2015

By Sara Mortensen, Digital Content Marketing Specialist, The Nature Conservancy When I first began working at The Nature Conservancy, I never thought I would be writing about Star Wars. The original Star Wars trilogy made up the majority of only a handful of movies my family had when I was a child. My impressionable young mind instantly fell in love with all of the characters, but the humans took second place to the creatures that inhabited its fantastical world. When I got an email from my coworkers saying they wanted to collaborate on a story in anticipation of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I could tell the Force was strong with this one. Whether it was the awakening of my inner child or jitters from the entire pot of coffee I had just consumed I could not tell, but I discovered as we brainstormed ideas that we don’t have to travel to a galaxy far, far away to see the creatures of the Star Wars universe. Their inspiration is all around us! Take, for example, the American Bison — one of the most iconic North American mammals. I recall watching them from the window of my dad’s old Bronco when we would embark on road trips across the northwest and I could have sworn I was instead looking at a gathering of Wookies. I wouldn’t have known it then, but these magnificent beasts were once hunted to extinction in the 19th century. Only now are they making their return to the prairie. In fact, when the Conservancy assisted in the return of bison at the Nachusa Preserve in Illinois, it impelled the first appearance of bison east of the Mississippi River in nearly 200 years! Now bison live to capture the imagination of future generations, including children who have yet to see the resemblance of Chewbacca in their wooly manes. © A Kermode bear or "spirit bear" on Gribbell Island in the Great Bear Rainforest of Canada. The 21-million-acre Great Bear Rainforest is the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth. Credit: Jon McCormack And who else could be more beloved by a nerdy young girl than the Ewoks? Cute and fuzzy, charismatic and silly, it is no surprise that I took to them as quickly as I did. Their resemblance to bears I had seen in our national parks and preserves truly brought them to life, particularly the Kermode Spirit Bear that dwells in the Great Bear Rainforest, similar to what we may find on the planet of Endor. The Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia is a vital cultural and economic resource in which the Conservancy is working to successfully implement ecosystem-based management. Through this approach, we can meet the needs of the natural system as well as the people, plants and animals depend on it for survival. © A peninsular bighorn sheep grazing on sagebrush and other woody plants in the California desert. Credit: Robb Hannawacker Though I had never seen bighorn sheep up close, I often admired the beauty of their bold, curving horns and sandy coat from photos I had seen in nature magazines. When I first saw the banthas in Episode IV: A New Hope, it was obvious that these magnificent creatures were George Lucas’s inspiration. Although we won’t see any bighorn sheep traveling with any Tusken Raiders, they can be found across much of the western U.S. And while the unsavory characters in Tatooine and Mos Eisley are not threatening their existence, the Conservancy is working to protect the habitat of bighorn sheep by reducing the impact of climate change and site development. Luckily, we already have heroes protecting the people and creatures of Star Wars from destruction, and we don’t need to wield a light-saber or be trained in the ways of the Force to protect our own planet. Change starts with us and, together, we can save these creatures from falling to the Dark Side. Even small steps to help the planet, like biking instead of driving to work, unplugging your appliances when they aren’t in use, or composting your food scraps, make a big difference.

If you are a Star Wars fan, then getting one of Propel's battle drones is an absolute essential. Now, you can recreate the famous speeder bike chase scenes in Endor from Return of the Jedi and immerse yourself in the Star Wars universe by playing one of Propel's toy drones. The collection features three remote-controlled drones that can fly at blistering speeds of up to 30 miles per hour in just 3 seconds. Choose from the classic T-65 X-Wing Starfighter, Darth Vader's TIE Advanced X1, and the Empire's 74-Z Speeder Bike. But if you are a Han Solo fan, you'll have to wait for next year to get the Millennium Falcon drone. Aside from the three vehicles, Propel's Star Wars collection also includes an Imperial Scout trooper and comes in a special limited-edition packaging. The battle quads are packaged in a wax-sealed box that is shaped like the grid-like interiors of an Imperial ship from the movies. When the box is opened, it lights up and plays a soundtrack from the movie. The toys stand out because they are highly detailed. Every ship is handpainted, and even the screwdriver used to install the toys' batteries comes in the shape of a lightsaber. "We want to keep them as true to the ships in the Star Wars films as possible," says Jack Bishop, head of development at Propel. If you are a total amateur to drone flying, you can use the T-mode setting of the toy, which allows you to set a limit to how high it can fly so it does not go off too far, or fly over the fence. There is also a simulator app that you can choose to play first to familiarize yourself with the game's controller. How To Play With Star Wars Battle Drones Just like in the movies, the drones fire lasers at each other in an aerial combat. Each game can have up to twelve drones fighting each other simultaneously. The battle drones communicate with each other in real time. Once your toy gets hit in the battle, it will be broadcast and everyone will know how many lives you have left. You get to have 7 minutes of flying for every charge, but you can swap it out with the extra battery to make the flight (and fight) time longer. Now, you can have a Star Wars-themed holiday season by watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and buying this toy collector's item from Propel. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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