Learning To Play Counter Strike: GO

Over the summer I have been playing a lot of video games, and one of the games I’ve played the most is CS: GO. Lately one of my friends wanted to get more into the game, and since I’m the only person that’s half-decent at the game that he knows, he asked me to help him get better.

I’ve had the CS:GO for a little over four years now and next year in April I will be rewarded with a 5-year Veteran Coin in-game. Even with over 1,400 hours on the game, I still wouldn’t consider myself a “good player”. The average matchmaking rank for most people is Gold Nova 3 which is the 9th rank out of the 18 ranks that exist in matchmaking. I currently sit one rank above that, at Gold Nova Master which is the 10th rank; just barely above average. For reference, my friend has gone all the way up and down the Silver ranks which are the bottom six ranks.

My friend isn’t a complete beginner to the game. He’s had the game for a little bit over two years and has around 600 hours in the game. I’m quite positive that he knows the basic understandings of the game and how it works. From what he’s told me, is that in the lower ranks (Silver) the teammates you get are almost always really bad or throwing (trying to lose on purpose). I can vouch for the fact that players in the lower ranks are typically not the best since I was there too, but I never remembered so many people throwing as my friend describes. However, if this really is the case, and you’re a low ranking player trying to climb the rank ladder, I’d suggest finding someone that is also of your skill level that also wants to improve. Playing with that one, or even more, people that you can get along with will make your matchmaking experience much better since it eliminates one random factor that could make your game less enjoyable. This is what I did ever since grade 5 when I started playing with a few of my brother’s friends that also played. We all started off in Silver a few years ago, and now we’re all around the Nova skill group now. Forming good teamwork, communication, and relationships in general with longlasting teammates isn’t something that can be done with random players you find in low ranks.

Besides teammates, I think game sense (your understanding of the game and the way it works) has a big impact on the way you play. While playing more games will improve your game sense in one way or another, I think that a good way to improve your game sense is to watch other people play (preferably professional/high ranking players). Don’t just watch them, but try to understand what they’re doing and why. After that, you can go back and watch replays of your own games and try to figure out what you did wrong in certain scenarios and what you did right. When you watch, don’t worry about your aim because that’s a completely different factor than your positioning and use of utility.

The last few things I told my friend to try and do are to practice his aim and memorize the maps. At the end of the day, CS: GO is still a shooting game, so if you don’t hit your shots, you’re chances of winning drop significantly. However, if you improve your knowledge of the maps you play on, and common spots people play from; you’ll also have another step up on other players.

Overall, if you want to improve, you should practice with teammates you know, as well as your aim, utility usage, and watch other people that are better than you play. Even if you lose games or get bad teammates, as long as you see yourself as an individual player improve at what you’re doing, you should keep playing and eventually rank up.

Logic Pro X

Last week, I installed the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) Logic Pro X onto my computer as an upgrade from GarageBand. My music theory teacher has always been telling me how much better Logic is compared to GarageBand and the many features that it has. On Monday, I had a chance to use it a little bit, so here’s what I’ve understood from it so far.

Logic Pro X is very similar to GarageBand, and since they’re both owned by Apple, they look and function similarly except Logic has a lot more things you can do with it. GarageBand is the free DAW from Apple, but you can purchase Logic as a better/improved version of GarageBand. Logic includes more sound samples, and I’ll explain more about the features I’ve learned about.

The first feature that my theory teacher showed me was the Command-Click Tool which is a secondary tool that you can switch between your cursor with by holding the command key. You can change the Command-Click Tool to 13 different tools, not including the pointer tool. The only one I’ve used so far is the scissors tool because it’s the most intuitive tool for me, and it’s really helpful for splitting tracks without using as much effort as you would in GarageBand.

Another thing that my teacher showed me was the difference between the way you EQ tracks in Logic and GarageBand. In GarageBand, you don’t get a lot of numbers to work with and you kind of have to move things around to get the sound you want. However, in Logic, you can see the frequencies and the volume of the different frequencies. You can even copy and paste EQ settings from track to track which is useful if you want to make sure all your tracks are EQ’d exactly the same.

The last thing I learned was using Buses for effects. My teacher showed me by only using reverb, but it should work with all kinds of effects. Buses are used to send audio to different places, so we used the bus to send our track to a reverb setting that we made. Doing this gives the reverb effect to our track without directly applying it. It also means that we can send a different track to the same bus and the exact same reverb will be applied to both the tracks. This saves you the time of giving each track its own effect settings.

Overall, Logic Pro X is pretty similar to GarageBand, but there are also a lot of new things to learn within the program. Even though I’ve only learned how to utilize a few tools it makes mixing and editing a lot easier than in GarageBand. However, I still haven’t learned everything yet, so maybe I’ll update again when I finally finish the song I’ve been working on.

CS:GO Danger Zone Update

A few days ago Valve introduced new ranks into the Danger Zone gamemode of CS:GO. Danger Zone is CS:GO’s version of a battle royale which was implemented in early 2019.

In the CS:GO community, it’s common knowledge that the Danger Zone player base is a lot smaller compared to the normal competitive matchmaking gamemode that has been around for way longer. I think there were a lot of people that played a few games of Danger Zone when it was first released, but after a few weeks, people just stopped playing it. My guess is that Valve added the new ranks in the hope that it would make more people play the gamemode and improve its player base.

Compared to the standard matchmaking ranks, the Danger Zone ranks are completely new, and instead of 18 ranks, there are only 15. In my opinion, I think that the Danger Zone ranks look a lot better than the original matchmaking ones, but maybe it’s because they’re something new that I haven’t seen before. However, the highest Danger Zone rank (The Howling Alpha) looks a lot cooler than The Global Elite which is the highest rank in matchmaking.

As of now, players of all ranks in Danger Zone play together in one system. This is way different from matchmaking where you typically play against players in a similar skill group to you. I’m pretty sure the reason why they’re doing this, for now, is because they still don’t have enough players playing the game for a matchmaking system to work. So as of now, the Danger Zone ranks are just a status symbol as to how good you are in the gamemode, but doesn’t actually affect the people you play against.

I never really did play Danger Zone, and even after the new ranks have been added I still don’t think that I’ll play it. However, I still think it’s a good idea to get more people to play the gamemode in order to keep it alive, and if it works, they’ll be able to create a ranked ladder for people to try and climb.

One Year of osu!

The last time I made an actual post about the osu! rhythm game was around seven to eight months ago when I was getting my tablet. I actually started playing the game on July 5th of last year, and now it has been just over a year since I’ve started. I think I’ve made a lot of improvements since then, and have definitely learned a lot more about the game.

As of now, I rank around 50,000 out of millions of active users and 2,204 in the country’s 269,000 active users. The numbers may seem good, but I think you’d have to be around the four-digit number in the overall database to actually be a good player. However, I’m pretty sure it’s a very big improvement from when I last wrote about osu!. Part of it is because the way pp (performance points) were awarded was changed a few months ago causing the pp value of certain maps (songs) to change. Luckily the most of the pp values of the maps I already had good scores on went up instead of down.

Recently, the last person out of our main friend group that plays osu! just purchased a drawing tablet to play the game with, and now every single one of us uses a tablet to play the game. Personally, I still don’t think you need a tablet to “get better”, but for some people, it might help. However, I definitely think that a mechanical keyboard with light switches will help you a lot in the game, especially later on. Because of the speed and amount of times you have to press your keys in order to hit the notes, it can become tiring over longer periods of time in rapid succession. I even have a friend who switches his keyboard whenever he plays osu!.

Most other people will say when you ask them, “How do I get better?” is to “play more”. I think that’s true to a certain extent though because once you get the basics down by playing more maps you can try and focus more on certain areas and slowly improve from there. There are even dedicated practice maps that help you practice certain techniques such as jumps and streams. In my opinion, I think the best skill to improve is your (hit) accuracy though because the amount of pp you are rewarded after completing a map will change vastly depending on your accuracy.

Overall, I still have lots of fun playing osu! and I think I can still improve just like everything else in life. It’s not only my friends and me that are improving though because even professional players are making new plays. After a year I can say that osu! is a really fun game with a nice community that I really enjoy.


Last week I finished most of my volunteer hours for high school by volunteering at a summer camp close by. I spent pretty much the entire week there, so I’ll be writing about my volunteer experience this week.

The camp I volunteered for was an outdoor challenge course that had obstacles like rock climbing and other interesting things. The obstacles they had didn’t seem too recognizable to me besides the rock climbing though. Some of the other obstacles that were there was a vertical climb with rope walls, tires, and wooden beams. Another obstacle was a bunch of wooden crosses suspended in the air that got smaller as you went up. Climbing the obstacles wasn’t the only thing they did there though because when we weren’t climbing they played outdoor games and sometimes did crafts inside.

I got to the camp around 15 minutes earlier than the campers do, but since setting up the obstacle equipment requires special training, I just helped set up a table and chairs for parents to sign their kids in. For the rest of the day, I just had to make sure the kids weren’t fighting, and if the counselours needed some help or needed to get something they asked me to do it. That was pretty much all I did for the five days that I was there.

The campers there were between 9-13 years old, so some of them weren’t even that much younger than me. When they did outdoor games sometimes I played with them, or when they were eating their lunch I would come off my break early and talk with some of them. Basically, I was just another camper, but I just didn’t participate in some of their activities and made sure they stayed safe.

Overall, I got over three-quarters of my volunteer hours finished by not doing much at all really. I think it was pretty easy volunteering there. The hardest part was dealing with the kids that thought they were superior to the other campers, but the rest of the time it was smooth sailing.

Summer Break

School ended around a week ago, and summer has already started. So far, I’ve gone up to the cottage with my brother, mom, and a friend of mine, but here are the other things I plan on doing over the summer break.

I mentioned before that I went up to the cottage; which was around a week ago. While we were there, my mom helped me record some video for the song, “O Canada” which I recorded the audio for when we got back. After I mixed the audio and posted it on Instagram for Canada Day I was done with the project, but it was pretty fun. If we ever go back to the cottage another time over the summer I might try to record something else.

I’m also going to try writing some more guitar arrangements for some other songs because the song I’m currently trying to write with my music teacher is coming close to completion. After that, I’ll have some more time to look at some other songs because I have a few arrangements that I’m not really happy with or haven’t finished. I also want to try out some new songs too.

Another thing I plan on doing is completing most of my volunteer hours. In our education system, every student needs a minimum of 40 hours of volunteering for a nonprofit and registered organization before you graduate from high school. You are able to spend time volunteering anytime throughout your four years in high school or even after, but I plan on getting most of my high school hours done this summer to get them over with. However, if something else interesting comes up later on I might volunteer for it anyways.

Additionally, I want to spend a lot of time playing games. Since school is out I can even play on weekdays now. I’ve still been playing osu! after a whole year as well as CS:GO, but recently my friends and I have started playing a lot more Minecraft again. We’re spending time checking out all the new features that were added since the last time we played. I think one of the most fun things we’ve done is spending time rebuilding and working on different types of in-game projects that we used to make. One more game I’ve been getting into is League of Legends which is a really popular game. I’d already played it a little bit before a long time ago, but now my friends are trying to get me into it. Even though I’m really bad, I’m still having fun playing with the rest of my friends.

Overall, that’s almost everything I’m doing this summer besides following the new 2019 Summer anime season. Maybe if I feel like it, I’ll write about all of the different shows near the end of the summer, but those are all my plans for this year’s summer.

Elementary School Graduation

Today was the last day of school for me in elementary school since I just graduated from grade 8, and next year I’ll be in high school. Last Tuesday we had our graduation ceremony, so I’ll mostly be writing about that this week.

For the past week, the whole graduating class has been preparing for graduation in various ways. We first started off by electing our valedictorian a while before. The people that wanted to be valedictorian for our class admitted themselves and prepared a short speech to persuade people to vote for them. Our valedictorian was elected by student votes, and after each candidate read their speech; everyone voted for who they want the valedictorian to be.

Then we made the graduation video that was shown at the actual graduation ceremony. We all split into groups of around ten or so, and together we made short 30 second videos that tried to reflect on some of the memories we had at the school. Then after that, one of our teachers took all of our videos and put them together with some other pictures from our Blue Mountain graduation trip. There actually wasn’t a lot of time for us to work on those videos because there were quite a few other school events going on at the time, so we only had a few days to work on them.

After the video, we rehearsed the actual ceremony in order to make sure that we knew where to stand, sit, and go during the whole thing. We practiced a few times before with everyone, and it was pretty simple.

On the day of the ceremony, there was a bunch of people’s parents and relatives. Everyone just followed what we did in rehearsal and did what we were told to do, and everything went pretty smoothly. The only thing that was kind of strange was that we didn’t know who won all the different types of rewards. If you won an award that required you to go up on the stage and you were sitting in the middle of a row of seats; you’d have to walk over some people to get to the stage. I guess they wanted to keep everything a surprise, but I think they could’ve organized it a bit better.

Once the ceremony was over we all got to take pictures until the graduating class got to go eat dinner in a separate room. The dinner wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t say it was anything really special. It was more like a buffet type meal with a smaller selection of food items.

When you finished dinner you were able to dance on this really tiny dance floor, but most of my friends and I didn’t really go over there too much. We mostly stayed around our table talking and playing games for the most part. By the end, some people were crying on the way out even though we still had school for the next two days which didn’t really make sense to me since you’d see everyone tomorrow.

Overall, I had fun at graduation, and I even won some awards. It was pretty cool to see who won different the different types of awards, and I think our valedictorian’s speech was quite good as well. I’m not particularly excited for high school, but I don’t really mind. I have heard from some people that it’s a lot harder though.

Graduation Trip Day 2

Last week, I wrote about the first day of my class’ graduation trip, so if you haven’t read it yet you should read it first since it tells you what the trip is about. On day 2 of the trip we didn’t do as many things as day one, but it was still an interesting day.

When we woke up, we headed down to eat breakfast with the rest of our classmates, and before we went back to our rooms the teachers told us where to meet up to start our activities. The breakfast was a pretty standard breakfast buffet, so it wasn’t too bad compared to last night’s dinner.

As group B, we were free to explore the rest of the Discovery Pass until lunch, so my friends and I ended up going over to the Apex Bag Jump. It was pretty much the last thing that we were interested in that we didn’t do yet. At the jumping platform there are four bags at different heights, starting from bag one, two, three, and then four which is the highest. The people there made you jump off of bag one first to see if you were able to land properly the way they show you. Then if you want, you can continue up to the rest of the bags. I thought it was pretty fun since you usually don’t get a chance to jump off of high places, but that’s all the bag jump was.

For group B, we had our lunch scheduled early so most of us decided to just play some more mini golf until lunch. Unlike the previous day, we were able to get a scorecard to play, and we actually found it quite difficult to play the course. However, we still had a lot of fun playing.

Lunch was inside a café near the rest of the activities, and everyone got a lunch ticket that let you choose a meal from seven different choices. All of them were kind of fast food type meals like chicken fingers, burgers, and poutine, but you got to choose a piece of fruit and a drink as well. I had a cheese burger with fries, and it was one of those frozen beef patties that you get in a box, but it was alright.

After lunch, everyone in group B gathered together to go for our bike ride on the mountain. We went over to the bike rental center, and everyone got a bike and helmet to use. The bikes there weren’t that different from the one that I have in the garage, but I think they had larger tires. Once we got our bikes, we took them up the gondola, and at the top, there was this gravel area that you could ride around in as you wait for the rest of the group to come up. If you didn’t know how to ride a bike or didn’t feel comfortable following the trail you could stay in the gravel area, and just ride around. If you weren’t doing that, you would follow the guide through the trail where we went through a trail in the trees. They do have different types of trails from beginner to expert, but the one we went on was quite flat, and only had a few puddles. I didn’t really find it very hard, but some people in the back were moving slowly, so we had to stop and wait sometimes.

When we finished biking, we went back down the gondola to return our bikes and helmets. Then, we got all of our stuff back from our rooms and went down to the parking lot to wait for our bus. I think our bus was delayed since we were waiting outside for a long time, and whenever a bus passed by people were wondering if that was finally our bus. At one point our bus finally arrived and we were on our way home. Most of us slept on the way back since a lot of people found sleeping in the rooms slightly uncomfortable. The bus took us back to the school and everyone had their own ways of getting home from there.

Overall, the trip was a fun experience for me, and I was able to do all sorts of different types of activities with my friends. I think a lot of people took pictures, so they’ll even be putting those into our graduation video too.

Graduation Trip Day 1

Every year, my school takes a trip to Blue Mountain in Collingwood for the grade 8 class that graduates. Since I’m now a grade 8 student at the school that will be graduating in a few weeks, I was able to go with the rest of my classmates on the trip.

Before the trip even began, there was lots of talk about whether or not we would be able to stay overnight at the Blue Mountain Inn. Our school has a history of occasional stays overnight at Blue Mountain, but usually, they only take a day trip there. A lot of students were trying to convince the teachers to let us stay overnight because we’d be able to stay there longer and do more things. This was many months before the trip, so there was plenty of time for the teachers to decide, but they ended up letting us have the overnight stay.

The day before our departure, we were reminded of the different things to bring and when to arrive at the school to leave on the bus. On the day of, we all got onto a Coach Canada bus which was a lot different from our normal school buses. It had air conditioning, more comfortable seats, and more space. Most of the students, including me, were happy to not have to sit in the usual school bus seats since they weren’t exactly the most enjoyable to sit in for long periods of time. To get from our school to Collingwood took around two hours, so people were kind of just on their phones, listening to music, talking, or sleeping on the way there.

Once we arrived, we had to walk a little bit to get to the building where we’d keep all our stuff before we checked into the hotel. We were introduced to the Discovery Pass that the Blue Mountain Resort had for schools which included various activities. Our schedules were set so that there were two groups that did the same activities at different times. Not only did we have the Discovery Pass activities to do, but we also got a chance to do their Timber Challenge High Ropes course on the first day and trail biking on the second.

After they separated us into groups A and B we each started with our activities. Since I was in group B, we started with the Discovery Pass activities which include the Cascade Putting Course, Open-Air Gondola, Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, Wind Rider Triple Zips, Apex Bag Jump, Village Scavenger Hunt, and Climbing Wall. Most of these activities are pretty self-explanatory, so what we were able to do was go around to any of these different activities and have fun as long as we arrived back at our group’s agreed meeting spot when it was our group’s turn to do the Timber Challenge. Most people started with the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster which is pretty much a roller coaster up in the mountains. I found it pretty fun, but it’s nothing crazy that you’d find at Canada’s Wonderland. The Open-Air Gondola is just a gondola that takes you up inside of a cylinder that you can see out of in 360 degrees. I went with a few of my friends, but some of them were scared of heights so it was pretty funny to watch them; especially when how the gondola occasionally stops. With my friends, we did those two activities before we had to go do our Timber Challenge. The Timber Challenge is a ropes course up in the trees where you go through different obstacles to reach the end. There are things like zip lines, tight ropes, and rope walls that you have to do. We first got our harnesses put on, and went through the safety test to make sure we knew the rules and what to do. After that, we were free to run the course. I had done a ropes course in Costa Rica before, so it wasn’t too bad for me, but I know some people were really scared of doing the course.

When our time was up on the course, I did the Wind Rider Triple Zips with my friends which is a longer zip line than the ones in the ropes course. I think it was pretty fun except the arrival point at the end of the line was kind of rough. A few of us gathered together later to play as many holes of mini golf as we could before time was up. Eventually, we met back up with group A to collect our luggage back and go to our rooms. I was in a room with my friends so we didn’t really have any issues except our air conditioning unit was really loud and our washroom door didn’t lock properly. After we settled in we had dinner in the hotel restaurant buffet. The food was okay, but most of the meats were really dry and there were almost no vegetables.

After we all ate dinner, we went back to our rooms, and we were free to do whatever until 10:00 when we had to go back to our rooms to sleep. My roommates and I stayed in our room for a little bit doing our own thing until people started saying that they were going to walk around in the village that was also in the resort. We joined them, but almost all the stores there were closed so there wasn’t much to do. Everyone ended up going back after taking a few pictures, and people just started room hopping until it was 10:00. At 10:00, the teachers would take everyone’s phones and you were supposed to go to sleep, but my roommates and I ended up playing cards until around 12:00 when we decided to sleep. We ended up having to turn off the air conditioning because it was too loud, and some of us kept on talking, so it took a while before we all slept.

Overall, that’s the rundown of what I did on the first day of my graduation trip with the rest of my classmates. I had a lot of fun, and I have more to write about for the second day.

Using Stock GarageBand Samples

For the past few months, I have been working on writing a song with the help of my music theory teacher. At the moment, we are trying to make the stock GarageBand string section sound more realistic and more expressive.

When you write out your notes in MIDI, GarageBand’s program may not play them exactly how you want them to. In our case, we first wanted to fix the timing of the notes because all of the notes were quite delayed and off beat. We ended up shifting all of the notes back a little bit to make sure that when you actually hear the notes they’re being played on time.

After that, we noticed how some of the notes were quieter or louder than others. This was because, in GarageBand, the default samples are played in a way where it takes a while before the note is played fully. This means that the beginning of a note is a lot quieter, making shorter notes quiet. To fix this, we changed the velocity of certain notes. Particularly the very legato and staccato notes, which are notes that are very smooth and notes that are very quick and sharp. For the legato, we lowered the velocity making them quieter than before, and for the staccato, we made them louder by increasing the velocity. We wanted to make sure that most of the notes are played at a consistent volume with no big leaps in dynamics.

Now that we had all of our notes being played correctly, we wanted to change the way they sounded in order to make them sound more realistic. Starting with the EQ, we looked for different types of frequencies that we didn’t like depending on the instrument we were using. For example, with the violins, we wanted to make sure that we didn’t have too many low frequencies since they weren’t apart of the instrument, but also getting rid of any sharp or buzzy high frequencies. Another small thing we added was some reverb, which is almost like the echo of a room that simulates the instruments actually being played.

Finally, we had all of our notes being played correctly and sounding good, but there was almost no expression, so they were all kind of flat notes. While they sounded like real instruments, they didn’t sound like real people were playing them. To fix this, we went back to the note velocities we used to change the volume of notes. We thought about which notes we wanted to put emphasis on especially in the staccato region. This helped a lot with the flow of the music, and it made the music sound more lively.

Overall, I was quite surprised with how well we were able to get the default GarageBand samples to sound. Before, they were pretty terrible and didn’t sound that good. However, we were able to create something that was usable that actually sounded pretty nice. Later on, we’ll be trying to record some guitar, and maybe even add some other instruments.