Windows Mixed Reality (VR) Demos in Shreveport!

Looking to try out some new technology this holiday season? Here’s a suggestion – come get a demo from me of the new Windows Mixed Reality headset in Shreveport!

What? The Windows Mixed Reality headset is Microsoft’s own entry into the field of Virtual Reality (VR) technology. It’s been out since mid October and I’ve had the pleasure of demoing it for customers since! To go into detail here would detract from the demo but allow me to leave you with a slightly better idea of the system – Windows Mixed Reality is a VR headset designed to interact with your Windows 10 PC for a more accessible, more valuable VR experience.

Where? At the Best Buy at 7080 Youree Dr, Shreveport, LA 71105. That is unfortunately a full hour and a half from the Texas A&M campus so I’d suggest planning a day out in Shreveport with visiting the store at some point in mind – the demo’s about 7-10 minutes of time with the headset.

When? Here’s my schedule in store:

  • Wednesday: 5PM – 9PM
  • Thursday: 5PM – 9PM
  • Friday: 12PM – 9PM (Out for lunch between 4PM and 5PM, roughly)
  • Saturday: 11AM – 8PM (Out for lunch between 3PM and 4PM, roughly)
  • Sunday: 11AM – 8PM (Out for lunch between 3PM and 4PM, roughly)

This schedule continues until 8PM December 31st, at which point my job (as it is contracted) ends. There’s no word on if I’ll continue afterward or if it would be at the same store so you’ve got the next three weeks to decide if you’d like to stop by!

How? Easy – just come to the store and find me in the Windows department on the right hand side. I will be hanging around that area and I’ll be the only one in a Microsoft uniform – so feel free to flag me down!

Demos are first come first served – especially considering the drive to Shreveport from Texarkana (and I should know – I make that drive twice a day, four days a week!), I’d recommend earlier in the day and not later.

Of note, however, is that you’ll need to sign a waiver before putting this headset on and the powers that be use this to create an age restriction – Anyone under 13 cannot be demoed and anyone under 18 needs a Parent or Guardian signature in addition to their own.

That’s all you really need to know – anything other than that, I’d rather tell you in person. If you do stop by, I’ll be happy to run you through the demo – although as a favor to me, let me know you’re from Texarkana and saw this story when you stop by! I don’t post this expecting a large showing but it’d be pretty neat to know you’re a reader of the newsletter.

Real Heroes Wear Dog Tags

“I fold it up and put it in my shirt, pick up my gun and get back to work. And it keeps me drivin’ on, waitin’ on, letters from home.” These song lyrics from John Michael Montogomery are the reality of those who dedicate their lives to serving our country. Including Texas A&M-Texarkana’s very own, Jon Robert Beck.

Jon Robert is a Junior Business Administration student at A&M-Texarkana. He is in the Honor’s Program, serves as a Student Ambassador for our campus, and wants to one day own his own business.

However, he is not just a regular student. He also serves as an infantryman in the Army National Guard Reserves. In February 2017, he was deployed to Africa for nine months and stationed in 5 countries; Djibouti (1 month 2 weeks), Kenya (2 months), Uganda (2 weeks), South Sudan (3 months), Somalia (2 months).

Throughout his deployment there were many different living situations. He said “Depending on what county I was in altered how good or bad the living conditions were. They ranged from Djibouti being the best, with a spacious two-man room, to Somalia with twelve guys crammed into a tent.” However, this wasn’t his primary concern. Location may have played a big part in how “comfortable” he was, but it also determined how often he was able to contact home. “In Djibouti, I had internet and could call at any time, whereas is South Sudan everyone there shared one phone, so calling home was very limited.” The limited contact was hard on both Jon Robert and his family, but they tried to stay in touch as much as possible. They sent him many care packages, but one of his favorites included some Girl Scout Samoa Cookies. He jokingly admitted that food was one of the things he missed most about America. When hard times struck, and he really missed home, he did his best to make the most of it. “There was group of me and five other guys that grew a brotherhood bond that could overcome any obstacle that was thrown at us, as long as we had each other.”

He may have been deployed to several different countries, but his job in base security remained consistent. “This job had many different tasks, but mainly consisted of searching and escorting locals on the base, as well as making sure nobody breached the outer perimeter fences. In order to do this, we had shifts operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week.” His job required long days and hard hours, but he also gained a positive experience. He was able to see and interact with different cultures all over Africa, and learn the ways of local life. He said, “I was with a great group of guys that always had a positive attitude. We would keep each other’s morals high no matter what circumstance or situation we encountered.”

What he learned from being overseas is something we should all gain from. It “taught me many valuable lessons, but the one that will stick with me forever is to never take anything for granted. Sometimes you don’t realize what all you have until you are separated from it for 11 months.” Jon Robert takes great pride and responsibility in serving our country, and it means more to him than he could ever explain.

He returned to the U.S. in November and the very first thing he did was visit with family and eat a big bacon cheeseburger. The first time his mom saw him face-to-face she was overjoyed. “I was so excited and I was told I said, “Oh my God there he is!” I couldn’t get to him quick enough for a hug and then couldn’t let go of him.” This is an important reminder that mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, and children also serve. They may not be fighting a battle overseas, but they are fighting the distance from home waiting on their loved ones return.

He said the first few days back were overwhelming with seeing friends and family, but after he put those days behind him he fell back into his normal routine and it was like he never left.

When asked if he was ready to start back to school he said he was looking forward to it, and that he is already signed up for classes in the upcoming Spring semester.

It is so important that we are aware of what the military is doing for us. We can become so accustomed to having a warm bed to sleep in at night, the convenience of contacting family and friends at the touch of a button, that we forget what our armed forces are missing out on. They are the reason we have these freedoms. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you Jon Robert, and thank you to all the brave men and women that protect and serve our country.

Here are a few more thank you’s from students around our campus:

“As I sit here studying for finals, surrounded by friends, eager to complete the fall 2017 semester, it occurred to me how fortunate I am. My blessings are innumerable. I have a place to live, a loving family, I get to play baseball in a collegiate atmosphere, but my greatest blessing is my freedom. It is because of the men and women of our armed forces that I am able to do all of these things. While they are out defending the front lines, we are able to be surrounded by our family and friends during the holidays. To our men and women in uniform, past, present, and future, God bless you, and thank you for your service!” ~Bryce Hudson

“Freedom definitely does not come without a price. We take for granted all of the opportunities we have, but these opportunities have been earned for us because of the sacrifice paid by the members of our armed forces. Thank you to all of our branches in the military!”~Brooke Rayburn

“Thank you is not enough for the sacrifices those men and women make at and away from home.”~Matty B

I really appreciate the men and women that serve our country. It is such a brave thing to do.”~Katie McCorkle

PlayStation Plus vs Xbox Live Gold December 2017

Xbox and PlayStation have been competitors since 2002. The evolution of the systems has come to modern-day online services so you can play against your friends. You not only pay a monthly fee to play online but you also receive a couple of monthly games for free. The question is:  which one is better?

This month on PlayStation:


  • Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition
  • Kung Fu Panda Showdown of Legendary Legends


  • Xblaze Lost: Memories
  • Syberia Collection

This month on Xbox:

Xbox One

  • Warhammer: End Times – Verminitide (December 1 – December 31)
  • Tales From the Borderlands (through December 15)
  • Back to the Future: The Game – 30th Anniversary Edition (December 16 – January 15)

Xbox 360 

  • Child of Eden (December 1 – December 15)
  • Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death (December 16 – December 31)

Both consoles offer great game but PlayStation only offers two. Another downfall is that once your PlayStation Plus subscription expires, you are no longer able to play the games you got free. Xbox allows you to keep and those games for as long as you want, even when your subscription expires. Xbox also has backward compatibility where you can play Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One.

When I first got my Xbox One, I was able to download Xbox 360 games I got for free with Gold years ago. As an owner of both consoles, Xbox Live Gold is overall the better buy.  If you buy a console this holiday season, you might want to keep these things in mind.


De-Stress Day 2017

As final exams approach, a college students anxiety level reaches its peak of the semester. It is important to take a step back, and give yourself a mental break. The Office of Student Life held its annual de-stress day on December 6th, where students had multiple options to relax and rejuvenate before exams hit.

Activities included a massage treatment line where students received machine heated back massages, a machine leg massage, and a full body water massage.

Senior Communications student Leira Moore said, “The massage stations worked wonders on getting my mind off of final exams!  With several stations set up to massage different parts of the body, it made for a very relaxing session. The water massage was my favorite part, as cool water jets gave a full body massage. I’m really thankful that the University offers this for their students.”

The puppy petting center and adult coloring books were also a big hit.

Sophomore Kinesiology student Brooke Rayburn said, “I absolutely love dogs! The puppies brought to campus were so happy, energetic, and sweet. It was nice to be able to take a break from my studies and play with the adorable pups.”

For tips about how to make it through finals week successfully, check out the article below written by Communications student Sharda James.

Best of Luck! Remember, keep calm and make it to Christmas break.


The Keys

If you’re looking for a good motivational read then this book is for you. The Keys by DJ Khaled is a self-help that offer five major keys to being successful. Khaled breaks down how he overcame hardships and turned his passion into a career. Most people spend most of their life searching for what it is they were meant to do in this lifetime. How is one supposed to know what their purpose is? When you find it how is one supposed to achieve it? One of the things I enjoyed about this book is that Khaled show us what to do when you run into certain road blocks.

“Patience really is a talent. Sometimes when you see your vision so clearly, it’s challenging not to just want to rush the next win. I always say timing is everything, meaning as in, there’s a right time for everything, so patience is important. My patience has been tested at every step of the way to see the level of success I’ve seen, and I know in my heart that really big wins take years.” –Dj Khaled

One of the five major keys that Khaled mentions is Stay Away from “they,” who is “they” you might ask, let me explain. “They” is just a simple word for negative people or the haters, if you want to accomplish anything in life getting away from negative Nancy is a start. Like Steve Harvey says, “Stop telling your dreams to small minded people.” Khaled says, “as long as you stay away from “they” you will prosper,” sounds simple enough, right? There will be people in life that will tell you that thing that set your soul on fire is impossible or you’re not capable or worthy of certain things…don’t listen to “they.”

“They want to put you in to a box or put limits on you, so make sure your vision is so huge that it destroys the box and those limits.” (page 71)

There’s a section in which Khaled mentions the importance of being yourself and that section my friend touched my soul. Sometimes it can be hard to be the “black sheep” especially when you are living in a world where people are hesitant about accepting anyone not following the social norm. However, the thing you have to remember is that you are unique and no one can do the things the way you do it.

“Being yourself is power. In some ways, of all the major keys, it’s the most important key. But it’s the hardest to master. It’s the one you have to keep working at as life goes on, and it’s the one that leads to the others. Ignoring who you are will eat at you. When you live life by what other people want from you, you aren’t really living.” (Page 21)

I highly recommend this book to anyone that feel stuck or need that little bit of a boost to keep you going. The four other major keys he talks about:

Secure the Bag
• Respect the Code
• Believe in the Hustle
• Win, Win, Win no Matter What

Within each of these major keys he offers other life lessons that are beneficial to a person’s life. There’s a possibility that you’re scratching your head trying to figure out what these major keys mean…well I guess you’re just going to have to read the book to find out

Fun Fact: DJ Khaled’s first and last name is Khaled…so yes, his name is Khaled Khaled.

My Source of Positivity

I used to be a pessimistic person. I only focused on the negative aspects of my life and what I didn’t have to the point that I did not think about how fortunate I was. I had poor self-image and would constantly compare myself to others. I thought I was not beautiful and assumed others thought the same. I thought I was not intelligent, and assumed others thought I was stupid. I projected my own negative opinions about myself onto other people and felt like everyone thought the worst of me.

I was afraid to be myself. I did not want my peers to think I was weird or make fun of me and kept some of my interests and opinions to myself. Instead of speaking up for myself when people teased me, I would laugh and pretend my feelings had not been hurt because I did not want them to think I couldn’t take a joke. I did not want to stick out and wanted to blend in with everyone else. I was hiding parts of myself to fit the mold others had set out for me. My desire to fulfill their exceptions was stronger than my desire to fulfill my own. However, my expectations for myself were inaccurate because I based them on comparisons to other people. I thought if one person in class could get a perfect score on an incredibly difficult test, that I could, too. I would push myself to be better until I was completely exhausted. These expectations were not realistic because I was not taking my own individual abilities into account. I had imagined an identity for myself and was struggling to fit.

Like a shoe that is too small, no amount of pushing or squeezing will make it fit. I had to wear the identity that was meant for me, but I had to find it first. My outlook on life was changed naturally with age. I’m no longer a 15-16 year-old girl, but a 21 year-old woman. After having to worry about more serious matters, I don’t have the time, energy, or patience to think about other’s opinions as much and try to make the best of each day. A change in surroundings also positively impacted my outlook. I moved to a warmer climate and met new people. I was able to have a fresh start.

When I first moved here, I did not know anyone other than my family and spent a lot of time alone. This didn’t bother me at first because I actually like to have time to myself. I had the chance to reflect and spend time exploring my own interests. While we were moving into our house, I unpacked a box of books and notebooks and found my old diaries. I sat down and read over the entries going as far back as the first grade when my mom gave me my first diary. I noticed the common entries where I expressed my difficulties repressing my desires and interests to fit in. After flipping through the pages, I realized that I had to make a conscious effort to step out of my shell and embrace myself.

People ask me how I can always look on the bright side in tough situations and I just shrug my shoulders. After spending years of my life trying to be perfect, I finally let go. I learned to laugh at my mistakes and speak up for myself when necessary. There is no doubt in my mind that my experiences up until this point have deeply impacted my outlook on life, but I have a difficulty finding the words to express this journey. With a smile, I say, “This is just who I am.”

A Bittersweet Holiday

During Thanksgiving break, I had to work. This is not new to me because I’ve been working in retail for 6 years and these jobs require you to be available during the holidays. However, this did not stop me from feeling a little sad at the thought of not being able to spend quality time with my family during this special time of year. For the first time in my life, we went to another family member’s house for Thanksgiving. I had always wanted to be around more family for Thanksgiving and usually did not get the chance to because they were too far away or because everyone was spending the holiday differently. It was nice to go to someone else’s house and enjoy being with my family. Unfortunately, I had to leave less than an hour later to go to work.

I am a sentimental person who loves to create memories and be around my loved ones. It is already difficult to spend quality time with family when everyone is on a different schedule and has different responsibilities or lives too far away for you to stop by for a quick visit. It was bitter-sweet to have to leave almost right after I arrived just to be at work until the early hours of the morning. I realized that I took this time of year for granted when I was younger. It was always a given that I would be able to stay at home and even when I did, I went to my room to take a nap after overeating. I would read a book by myself or watch TV.

As the guests poured into the store, holding their maps and picking out Christmas gifts, I watched them with envy. I thought of how nice it must be to not have to work on Thanksgiving and be able to spend time with friends and family on the holidays. It made me think of how I rushed to be an adult when I was a child and did not realize what came with adulthood. I did not fully enjoy those moments that I cherish now and assumed they would always be there. I did not really think about having to sacrifice time with my family to fulfill responsibilities like work and school. This was something I had thought about, but I didn’t really feel it. It is strange to think that I did not have this realization until that moment when the store doors opened and I watched people walk in with smiles on their faces and heard the laughter and cheers around me. It was not until that moment that I felt a pang of sadness.

Thanksgiving is not the only time when I’ve had to work and miss out on time with my family. I constantly miss events on weekends or in the summer when I find out at the last minute or need to work and save money. As much as it really irritated me then, I felt that there would always be other events. Thanksgiving really reminded me that I need to make the most of the moments I have with friends and family and continue working hard toward a future when I can take time off during the holidays.