Five Things You Should Know About Playing Professional Dota


The original “Dota” was a mod created for Warcraft III, and after the games immense success other MOBA style games debuted and stuck to the addictive formula, including League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth. Valve, best known for their online distribution platform and the Half-Life series, acquired the rights to Dota in 2009 which they subsequently used to release Dota 2. In 2011 they hosted The International, a three day Dota 2 tournament held in Cologne Germany with a $1.6 Million Dollar Prize Pool and a grand prize of one million dollars. It was at this moment that eSports (electronic sports) had finally arrived in the eyes of players and fans.ftp_cover.jpg

To celebrate that original tournament, Valve recently debuted the Free to Play, a feature-length documentary that follows three players who competed on different teams in the 2011 tournament. The documentary is definitely worth checking out, as it give a great insights into the trials and tribulations such an event has on one’s like. That being said, here are five things you should know about being a professional Dota player.

Continue reading Five Things You Should Know About Playing Professional Dota

The Six Principles of Influence, and How to Use Them: Part 2

Two weeks ago we debuted part one of our Six Principles of Influence, and How to Use Them, and today’s post will focus on the remaining three principles: Reciprocity, Commitment/Consistency, and Liking/Rapport.

4. Reciprocity

Reciprocity, or the Law of Reciprocity as it is known, states that people want to give back to others who have given to them. Like consensus, this dates back to hunter-gatherer times, where the hunters would go out to get food while the other tribe members stayed and watched over the village and tended to other needs. Reciprocity developed here because the village knew that they would be getting meat and food when the hunters returned, which they needed to survive. On the flip side, the hunter who brought the food needed to know that if they returned frail or hurt there would someone in the village to take care of them and nurse them back to health.

Reciprocity started out mainly as a symbiotic relationship and has stayed ingrained in our consciousness and subconsciousness ever since. Reciprocity can be seen at play with holiday cards, a tradition that many people take part in each year. If the Smith family sends you a card, you will feel indebted to them and want to send them a card back, even if you don’t like the Smith Family! With the law of reciprocity in play, we often find ourselves in situations like this with gifts, favors, and help, because people want to give back to those who have given to them. They are compelled to give back in order to remove the feeling of indebtedness they have from the original action or deed. Continue reading The Six Principles of Influence, and How to Use Them: Part 2

The Six Principles of Influence, and How to Use Them: Part 1

Back in the end of June, I had the opportunity to attend a massive marketing event in Atlanta. Titled “Conversion and Compliance 3.0,” the event was held over two days, bringing in a range of speakers who covered a number of different marketing and communication topics.

One such speaker was Dr. Robert Cialdini, who is internationally known for his best-selling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. In it, Cialdini breaks down what he describes as the six core principles of influence. They include Scarcity, Authority, Consensus, Reciprocity, Commitment/Consistency and Liking/Social Proof.

All of these principles are incredibly powerful and can be utilized in many different daily environments. This post delves into the first three, giving an in-depth look at what each principle is and how they can be used.

1. Scarcity

Scarcity is based around the idea that we want more of something the less there is of it. Scarcity can apply to physical items, such as a popular menu item that is being discontinued, or an offer that is only available for a limited time. Think back to every infomercial you have ever seen on TV, “order in the next 20 minutes and receive double the offer for no extra cost!” This is scarcity in action: if you don’t act soon you’ll be stuck with only one of the thing that you don’t really need, and thus your life will be worse.

Applying Scarcity to your life can be done best in relation to time. Your time is finite, and thus incredibly valuable. However, if you are always giving it out to people, they will not respect it and you will be worse off for it. If your time is scarce, people will value the interactions they have with you even more because they will subconsciously know that those interactions are not something they have whenever they please. A few months back, Apple CEO Tim Cook took part in a charity auction for a coffee meeting with him. The initial offering valued his time at $50,000, but the auction ended up closing for $610,000. How could one person’s time ever be worth that much? Scarcity.

2. Authority

Authority is important for people because authority builds credibility and trust. If you’ve ever had someone break into your car or steal something from your home, you call the police because they are the “authorities,” someone who you can trust to help with your problem and help you obtain a desired solution, whether that is getting the stolen goods back or finding the perpetrators.

Authority extends far beyond law enforcement, and can be seen in many different business settings. Think of Best Buy, who has brilliantly branded their computer tech and service department as the “Geek Squad.” When everyday people don’t know what is wrong with their computers, they go to the Geek Squad because they have a link to geeks being an authority in fixing all things technical.

You may be an authority figure in a given field; however you must tread carefully when peddling your wares. Telling others you run the hottest new startup in Silicon Valley will not showcase you as an authority figure, but instead will make others look at you with disdain as someone who is pompous and egotistical. What is better is to have others validate your authority for you. If I tell someone that my friend John is an incredibly smart guy who runs Silicon Valley’s hottest startup, this will seem much for credible to the listener. Whether or not this is true doesn’t necessarily matter; subconsciously, my building up John’s company is perceived as true, because it is coming from a second party who the person knows and who seems to have no reason to lie.

With Authority comes great power, so it is important to not abuse the power given to you by authority.

3. Consensus

Consensus refers to the idea that people look to others around them, who are like them, to see what they should be doing in a given situation. This is ingrained biologically from our hunter-gatherer times, where if one member of a given community didn’t follow the pack and acted differently from others (whether in hunting, traveling, or mating) they were not as likely to survive. In a behavioral sense, consensus makes it easier to fit into an unfamiliar situation. If you’ve never been to an opera, you’re going to look at other members of the audience for cues when to clap, when to stand, and when to stay quiet, because it is easier for you to follow the crowd rather than test out new behaviors on your own.

A big part of consensus also revolves around relating to others: if we have like behavior or find something in common with another person we are more open and receptive to them and are more likely to find them friendly.

Where this applies in an influence sense is that consensus can be used to elicit specific behaviors from those you interact with. As a Doctor, you could use consensus to help guide people towards particular procedures that are beneficial but which the patients may be hesitant about: “Most patients who are like you with X ailment choose to go through with this procedure, and most of them have a quick and easy recovery.” In this case, the patient is more likely to be convinced to have the surgery because others like them have done it before. This is consensus in action.

Ready for more? Check out The Six Principle of Influence, and How to Use Them: Part 2.

5 Tips for Building your Gaming PC, Continued

Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post that outlined 3 things to consider when looking building your own gaming PC. Part 2 of this article covers the two remaining tips for constructing your PC and getting it up and running.

Part 4: Setup and construction of your PC. You’ve now picked out your parts; you have your core components unboxed and are ready to create the monster that will be your gaming PC. The most important first step that many people skip over is making sure all of their ordered parts work, specifically before you begin to put your parts into your case. It is extremely important to take this first step because it is much easier to test and swap out non-working parts before they are secured into your case.  Important side note: make sure to ground yourself to avoid harming your computer parts with electrostatic discharge. In addition to this, anytime you are connecting or disconnecting parts, unplug your power supply from its electrical source, and ensure that the switch on the back is in the “off” position.

The next step is to connect your core components to your motherboard. This includes your processor, heatsink, video card, RAM, primary hard drive, and power supply. For your processor, make sure you read the instructions and set up your processor in the correct pin slots. Similarly, there are specific slots to put your RAM sticks in. All motherboards are different, so consult your included motherboard booklet to find the correct ones. For your PSU, make sure you run power to the 24-pin connector, and the 8-pin power connector to your mobo, as well as the power connectors on your graphics card.

With everything set up outside of your case, it will look something like what is picture above. In order to make sure your parts work, you will need to close a power circuit on your mother board. You can use the end of a screwdriver to do this, closing the circuit and connecting the two points on your motherboard panel titled “power switch.” I have included a picture here to show you what the two power pins look like in the mobo booklet as well as on the mobo itself, which are highlighted in red.

Note that there are only two pins you should be connecting, and the panel is located on the lower right corner of your motherboard. After you touch the metal end of a screwdriver to these two points, your computer should start up. You’ll notice the heatsink fan, PSU fan, and GPU fan all begin to spin, as well as various lights on your motherboard coming alive. If any of the fans are not spinning, turn everything off by flipping the switch on the back of your PSU and recheck the connection of your cables and parts.

Once you ensure that all of your parts are working, you should disconnect your entire out-of-case setup, except for the processor/heatsink, and begin to put your parts into your case, starting with the motherboard. Once the motherboard is in and secure, you can connect your PSU, GPU, RAM, hard drives, DVD drive, case fans, and case buttons to your motherboard. All motherboards differ from one another, so if you are unsure of where or how to connect a certain part, consult your motherboard user manual. Additionally, you can leave a comment on this article and I will do my best to address your concerns myself.

You’ll want to take your time in hooking everything up to ensure proper cable management. This will help prevent your parts from heating up and improve your case airflow. As often as you can, run your cables through the back panel of your case to reduce clutter around your core components. Once you have all of your parts in, put those case panels back on and hook up your mouse, keyboard, and monitor(s). Before you’re ready to game, there is one last step you need to take.

Part 5: Get your machine running. Once your computer is up and running, you’ll need to get all of your vital programs installed and running. For newer machines, you’ll want to install a 64-bit version of Windows. If you opted to get an SSD, make sure that you select to install the Windows OS on your SSD and not your internal hard drive. Once Windows is installed, you will be to install important drivers and BIOS. Your motherboard should come with a CD that has all of the software you need. Be wary of installing all of the software that is included on your disc, as some of the programs aren’t needed. All motherboard drivers differ, so if you’re unsure of what a specific driver does, Google your motherboard manufacturer with the driver name to find out more information. On top of your motherboard drivers, make sure to install the latest graphics drivers for whatever GPU you use. While your GPU may come with an installation disc, the driver in there will likely already be outdated. It’s also important to mention that if you are installer a newer graphics driver, you should completely remove the previous driver before installing the new one.

Once you have your important drivers installed, you can begin to put on software that will enhance your machine. For Antivirus software, I like to use Microsoft Security Essentials, as it is a low memory anti-virus that is free for Windows users and performs phenomenally. Additionally, you’ll want to install Malwareytes and Spybot: Search and Destroy. Both are great programs that should be run every two to four weeks to ensure that your computer stays spybot and malware free.

The other software you should put on your computer depend on your personal computing habits. When you are looking to install all of your software, unfortunately, it can be difficult finding all of the correct installers from each respective website. A great tool to use in order to easily install numerous software programs is Ninite. In a nutshell, Ninite is an installer aggregator: you select which programs you would like to install and Ninite then makes one simple installer, which will include everything you’ve chosen. Note that in order for your Ninite installer to work, you will need an internet connection.

Once your software is set up, it’s time to game! If you have any experience with gaming at all, you’re likely familiar with Valve and their gaming portal, Steam. If you aren’t, Steam is a one-stop-shop where you can buy, download, and play almost any PC game available. What’s great about Steam is that you can take your account with you anywhere, enabling you to log-in to your Steam account on any computer and download/play your games.

You are now a PC gamer; congratulations! Take solace in the fact that you can play almost anything, and at any point can upgrade your system to enable a better gaming experience. If you have any questions about setting up your PC or would like recommendations on parts to get, let me know in the comments.

Happy Gaming!

5 Tips for Building your Gaming PC

What Not to Do...

Launched by Pong 40 years ago, home gaming has become a staple in millions of households worldwide. Whether you’re a mobile, console, or PC gamer, the evolution of technology will continue to make all forms of gaming available to the masses.  Newer, better technology will also become cheaper, which will enable a wider audience of gamers to really immerse themselves in their hobby of choice.

While the points can be argued until the end of time, I believe best way to really experience and immerse oneself into a game experience is through a PC. Contrary to popular belief, PC gaming is not dying, and PC gaming provides a more customizable experience in terms of settings, and ease of use. In addition to this, the graphical capabilities of PCs far outweigh those available on current (and most likely future) generation consoles.

Building a gaming PC is tough, with many different parts that are combined to breathe life into a gaming monster.  Along with providing a sense of do-it-yourself satisfaction, building your own gaming PC is one of the most rewarding experiences for any hardcore gamer or technology enthusiast. Since there are many intricacies involved in creating that perfect gaming PC, I’ve created a list of 5 tips to help everyone, from budget buyers to PC aficionados, in making their perfect PC.

Step 1: Know your budget. There are a million different parts you can buy for your PC gaming machine, which makes for millions of different combinations. The great thing here is that building a machine on a budget is totally possible. I recently helped a friend build a mid-tier gaming machine for around $700, while on the flip side I built a top-of-the-line machine with literally the best parts I could buy via just for fun. The cost? A cool $7,299.91. I did this just to prove how vast a difference there is with what you can build.

Another important thing to consider for your budget is whether or not you already have a mouse, keyboard, and monitor. A good gaming mouse and keyboard combo can cost around $120, and a single 23” LCD monitor will run you around $160, but these are one-time purchases that will last around 3-5 years or longer if cared for properly. When you are next upgrading your PC, you will likely continue to use the same mouse, keyboard, and display.

Step 2: Pick your pony (company). There are two companies that manufacture central processing units (CPUs): Intel (Integrated Electronics Corporation) and AMD (Advanced Micro Devices). Techradar has a great interview article that very thoroughly looks at the Intel vs. AMD debate.  Personally, I have always gone with Intel processors, which are more expensive but are better for overclocking. AMD CPUs are great processors at a cheaper price than most comparable Intel CPUs. In the end, it usually comes down to personal preference and who has come out with the latest CPU. No matter which one you pick, make sure you pick the corresponding motherboard (mobo).

Just like CPUs, there are also two companies to choose from when looking at graphics processing units (GPUs a.k.a. video cards): NVIDIA and AMD. NVIDIA cards focus on providing a 3D gaming experience to gamers via additional hardware. While 3D can seem like a gimmick to some, I was extremely impressed by Batman: Arkham Asylum at this year’s GDC using NVIDIA 3D. NVIDIA also just released their Kepler series video cards, which currently beat out AMD’s 7990 series as the fastest video cards in the world and for the first time allow 3 independent displays to be run from one NVIDIA card. AMD cards, on the other hand, offer something called Eyefinity through their software, which allows gamers to plug 3 monitors into one card and get a 180-degree view of whatever game they choose to play. While setting up Eyefinity can be difficult, it provides a one-of-a-kind gaming experience that really immerses you into whatever you are playing. Flying a jet in Battlefield 3 and seeing an enemy flank me through the periphery of a side monitor was a jaw-dropping experience.

In the end, it comes down to personal preference and budget. Certain NVIDIA cards are cheaper than their AMD counterparts, and vice-versa. Remember, too, that if you want to fully utilize your video card, you will need 3 displays for your AMD card to run Eyefinity, and a 3D compatible 120Hz monitor for your NVIDIA card to run 3D. 

Part 3: Pick your other parts. Since we have already covered CPUs and GPUs, we want to also look at other core components that make up computers. The most important part of a computer after the CPU and GPU is the Motherboard. As mentioned before, you’ll want to get a mobo that corresponds with your chosen CPU, be it Intel or AMD. Another thing to check is that your chosen mobo has the same socket number as your processor. For example, Intel has LGA 1155, 1156, and 1366 sockets, among others. If your CPU is an LGA 1155 socket, then you want to be sure your mobo supports an LGA 1155 socket. Other than that, ook at the SATA (Serial ATA) speed of your mobo. Most new boards will be SATA 3.0/SATA 6Gb/s. In very simple terms, the SATA number is the speed at which your hard drives will communicate with your motherboard and thus the rest of your computer. The higher the SATA Gb/s number, the faster things will run. Additionally, if you plan on using more than 1 GPU, make sure your mobo has enough PCI-e slots to run your GPUs. Asus and Gigabyte both make quality mother boards that are a great value.

Talking about SATA types brings us to the next vital part of your gaming PC: the hard drive. There are current two main types of hard drives, Internal Hard Drives and Solid State Drives (SSDs). Internal hard drives have moving parts, which can cause a lag when your computer performs certain operations. Internal drives are also relatively inexpensive, and are standard in most pre-built desktop computers and laptops. Solid State Drives have no moving parts, and thus much faster than internal hard drives. Most new ultrabooks (laptops that are extremely thin and fast, like the MacBook Air) come stock with SSD drives. Going from using an internal hard drive to an SSD is like night and day in terms of how much faster your computer speed and response rate will be.

My tip for building the best gaming PC is to buy a 60-120GB SSD to run your operating system (OS). This makes it so that all of the main tasks completed by your computer will be done much more quickly. Since you will be limited on space, you can then buy an internal hard drive to store your music, movies, and other large files. Make sure to get an SSD3 drive as they are the newest and fastest SSDs available.

When building your gaming PC, a big decision to make is what size case you want to have. The main difference between case sizes is not only size, but cable management and air flow. While significantly larger, full tower cases provide better airflow for your parts that are likely to become very hot, like your CPU and GPU. If you’ve got the space and extra funds, I always recommend getting a full tower case.

For power supplies (Power Supply Unit, PSU), there are a few things to consider. A regular PSU comes with all of the connection cables already attached, whereas a modular PSU comes with fewer cables attached, but enables the users to attach additional, included cables, should they need to. Newegg has a very handy Power Supply Calculator which you can use to figure out just how much power you need for your new system. There are a lot of cheaper PSUs that look nice but don’t perform well, so stick with brands like Cooler Master, NZXT , Thermaltake, and XFX to ensure you are getting a quality PSU.  If you’re going to be running more than one video card or any additional cooling, it’s better to have a higher wattage for your power supply.

The last parts you need to complete your gaming PC are Random Access Memory (RAM) and a CD/DVD Drive. RAM is additional memory your computer uses to perform intensive tasks. If you plan on doing any heavy photo or video editing with your machine, I would recommend grabbing 12GB or 16GB of RAM to ensure a smooth experience. For gaming, 8GB of Corsair Dominator or Corsair Vengeance will do the trick. Make sure your RAM frequency is compatible with your chosen mother board to avoid an unnecessary headache. Additionally, if you ever opt to upgrade from 8GB to 16GB, make sure the second 8GB you buy is the same make and type of the first 8GB you bought.

While they are becoming more obsolete, for desktop PCs I think it’s still important to grab a CD/DVD reader/burner for when you do get the occasional physical copy of a game to install. In addition, it’s important to get an aftermarket CPU Fan (heatsink) or liquid cooling for your CPU if you plan on overclocking your PC. A heatsink is like a radiator for your CPU, and while all CPUs come with a stock heatsink, these cannot handle the massive heat generated from an overlocked PC. If you try to overclock your CPU without a heatsink or liquid cooling, you could damage and possibly ruin your CPU.

That’s it for steps 1 to 3. Check out the follow-up article with steps 4 and 5: how to assemble your PC and how to get yourself up and gaming.