This black Friday show your family you care by purchasing one of these fine Weekly Geek t-shirts from SplitReason.com at the generous discount of 20% off! Just do your shopping and then enter the code blackfriday at checkout.
We're a geek culture podcast and blog covering video games, music, food and more. We are the kinds of people who evangelize whatever we are into - it could be anything - but it's usually pretty geeky. We're casual, conversational, NSFW and hopefully interesting. We hope you enjoy it.
Feed our mailbag and get your letter read on air!feed it!
November 2008 Archives
Well, ain't this just the crappiest week ever? Unfortunately one of the programs I use to make the comics has suddenly taken a liking to crashing my computer. And since today is a Federally-mandated day for spending quality time with family (goddamn you, Abe Lincoln), I don't have the time to reinstall Windows and all that hullabaloo to fix the problem.
So... that's it really. Have a happy Thanksgiving... or "Turkey Day" if you have the personality of a demented ferret.
Connectivity is paramount. The first thing I did after purchasing my new Xbox 360 was snake a cable from the nerve center of my network to jack in to LIVE. While a simple process the proximity of television to router is not one that resulted in a subtle cable connection no matter how creative I got with the staple gun. I knew both official and 3rd party wireless solutions existed but at $70-$100 there had to be another way given that 6 years in the IT business have left me with a treasure trove of miscellaneous electronica.
The initial exposure to DD-WRT, a surprisingly powerful open source router firmware, came from Lifehacker a while back and has appeared a few times over the years, most recently as a way to transform your compatible router in to (among other things) a functional WiFi adapter for one's gaming console.
Coming from a pretty substantial technical background I found the process an easy one but was a bit overwhelmed in the early research stages as to which version I should be dealing with. Given that I would be flashing the firmware and potentially bricking my device made me all the more wary as I went along. While linked in a few places the version specific details of the process could only be found in the wiki.
I took notes as I went along as my experience varied slightly from the installation tutorial but at project's end was left with a vastly improved piece of hardware that not only filled the gap of Xbox 360 WiFi adapter but left room for future expansion.
After I had the files I needed the whole process took about 10 minutes tops.
Hit the jump for a stripped down version of the process as well as a few notes regarding having to deal with my new ISP's device restrictions.
Before reading any further check out the video above. While the prospect of sacrificing eleven minutes is a daunting one, my initial reaction likely mirrored your own - eyes rolling and mind tearing at ephemeral overload, I urge you to leave your inhibitions behind and bask in the light of free entertainment.
By itself the clip is amusing, echoing the false reality often used in sketch comedy while paying tribute to the questionably informative nature of small town tourism videos from days not too long past. For some that is all it will ever be.
For others it is blindingly clear this video has an ulterior motive, quickly setting a tone of intentional camp in the guise of a promotion for what is, to most, not the most thrill-inducing of US cities. Add in the veritable deluge of proper nouns (GoDSEED, BlackStar) via a hesitantly pieced together history and you make the short step in to ARG territory.
We had to destroy Milwaukee to save it, and the survivors buried the remnants of GoDSEED in a sarcophagus deep beneath the canning district.
As is usually the case the video was picked up, shared, and dissected frame by frame immediately by the collective swarm of chaotic fiction devotees. Details regarding the web crawling, phone calls, and proposed theories are over at the Unfiction Forums.
It's nice to see a city other than NY, LA, or SF at the heart of one of these things. There has always been a geographical gap in potential meat space participation for dwellers outside these areas and for me having a sense of spatial relation is what makes these games all the more enjoyable.
Unless you include what always pops in my head at the mention of Milwaukee.
Unforums - This is my Milwaukee
Unforums - Thread What-We-Know List
Unforums - In-game Phone Numbers
Screen Captures of the Video
Martin Pedrick's Portfolio
Related Video Thanks nic0!
Hey dudes! Because it's turkey week here in the states and we're in the process of unpacking the new Weekly Geek headquarters, we're delaying the podcast until next week. Many apologies! Perhaps you would like to check out our full podcast RSS feed, where we have a ton (literally over a hundred) back podcasts to sift through. You could pretend you are traveling back in time! Woo!
We're giving away a pair of 4-day passes to Blip Festival, and all you had to do was comment on this post to win. Easy, right? It was! That is how INTERNET won a pair of tickets. Congratulations, we will be contacting you via email. Yes, that was the name they used. INTERNET.
So, yeah. I have a term paper due later today and I have to make it exist. The comic will be posted later on Friday but I always feel bad leaving my day unfulfilled as you walk the long desert that is the week to the next podcast. So today I'll share with you a stunning video of Guitar Hero... on a bicycle.
The amount of work that must've gone into this is incredible. I mean... just the LED synchronization alone...
The thought of a flying car no longer interests me. Once the archetypal litmus test for when one arrived at the FUTURE, it's now a subject that brings to mind retro-futuristic cinema as opposed to science lab. While potentially practical the vast canyon between concept and execution is gaping, the gritty particulars of implementation overwhelming, and link to reality a vague one. There are so many other areas showing tangible, realistic improvement that even the aesthetic of a flying DeLorean fails to pique what was once the be-all end-all of consumer focused lust.
Instead my interests have moved to innovations in interface. The last few years have given us the iPhone, Wii, and Myvue glasses. Equally impressive are the readily available applications utilizing voice and gesture recognition. Gone (well, mostly) are the clunky VR helmets and subsequent segregation between developers and consumers.
But there is one tiny detail that permeates some of the newer tech out there, scarring like a drop of India ink on thirsty canvas; the fact that so much of it makes the wearer look like a tool.
If you're a fan of 8-bit and chiptune music, have we got a giveaway for you. We've got a pair of 4-day festival passes for Blip Festival in New York from December 4-7th valued at $120. Who all is playing at the Blip Festival? Well I'm glad you asked.
Artists scheduled to appear:
* Animal Style
* Bit Shifter
* Graffiti Monsters
* Mesu Kasumai
* Mr. Spastic
* NO CARRIER
* Paris Treantafeles
* Role Model
* The C-Men
* Unicorn Dream Attack
Personally, I'd be excited just to see Unicorn Dream Attack based on their name alone. Since this is a giveaway for something location-specific, we're lowering the threshold of entry on this one. In fact, all you have to do to win these tickets is post a comment on this entry stating why you deserve them. Then, on Friday, November 21st we'll choose a winner at random. It's that easy.
I apologize in advance for any aneurysms you may have from the mispronunciation of words in this week's podcast, but hopefully Jinny, Qais, Ross and John Forster will be entertaining enough to outweigh any vocab vitriol. This week we discuss what games are more worth your money than others, and we dabble in the philosophy behind their very existence, and the greater good of gaming as a whole. Mirror's Edge is also discussed, and we try to pronounce big words. We make fun of a poor child who collapsed from exhaustion after playing World of Warcraft, and then we drool a bit over Left 4 Dead. The mailbag is also splayed open for your sick pleasure. Enjoy!
If you're reading this and you are an artist, please look away. Watching this video will only make you feel bad about your own ability and possibly cause you to cast your artistic implements aside in favor of more practical pursuits. Gabe of Penny Arcade fame has become a truly impressive artist in recent years, and this time elapsed video of the process of painting a page for their new Prince of Persia comic is a stunning testament to that ability.
If only there were a way to show a live feed of what is going on in his mind while we watch the outward effects of his expression. I'd love to know how exactly he plans these pictures in his head before it hits the (virtual) page. His various design decisions, how he comes up with the colors he feels he needs to use to achieve the effect he desires. He has managed to exert an unexplainable level of precision that all of us artists strive for. Mesmerizing.
[watch it in HD at GameTrailers]
Yep. An actual music video for the 15 minute long masterpiece that is The Decemberists' The Tain, via Pitchfork TV. I've seen The Decemberists in concert numerous times and they've never played this song live. Every time I sit in the theater, looking up at the stage while waiting for them to come on I hope for The Tain. Maybe one day.
As an amateur photographer there are a few hurdles I am consistently attempting to clear. These range from the easily definable, such as financial limitations, to the more objective complications of social photography. A careful budget and solid research solves the former, but enter a public area with even a modest dSLR with a zoom lens and the vibe is instantly changed. People prepare to pose, security guards crouch to pounce, and reality shifts to fill my viewfinder with subjects that have shed much of their realism.
I've found a radiant aura of confidence (and stealthy wrist strap) helps to smooth over the painfully public process of carting my camera through highly populated urban areas, home or abroad, but even in a bustling metropolis I'm extremely hesitant to turn my glass on what is arguably the most interesting subject; people. It's awkward, raises countless privacy issues, and face it - is a little on the creepy side.
Preferring to err on the side of caution I've passed dozens of scenarios that tugged at the photographer in me, each encounter positively begging to be shot with the promise of something impossible to replicate in any studio setting.
For a surprisingly reasonable price ($50!) one simply attaches the device to an existing zoom lens the same way you'd screw on a filter. Sure, I'll be sporting an extra 5 inches of lens (which would equal about 10 at its shortest with my 18-200mm zoom) but with the ability to frame up candid shots I'd never have the chutzpah to take of a complete stranger.
Yes, there are certainly some issues that can be raised well within the bounds of decency regarding the taking pictures of unwilling, or unknowing, subjects. Common sense applies here more than ever and while I'd like to think any respectable photographer knows where to draw the line the fact remains that this apparatus exists to deceive. A point I'm strangely comfortable with given its ability to circumnavigate the tricky social rules of, you know, photographing strangers.
I'll very likely be grabbing one of these and am curious as to how such a device will be received in the photography community.
As a kid I had a few career aspirations. I knew I wanted to work in an artistic field, and I wanted to work for a supremely creative company who inspired me. As a lover of all things Henson, my attention gravitated toward the Creature Shop. I dreamt of sculpting Froud-ian goblin puppets for pay and possibly getting to meet David Bowie. In my Labyrinth-addled child-mind this was a logical connection.
Muppets are easy to make. They consist of carved styrofoam covered in fabric with additional eyes, feathers, buttons and so forth. For the lazy, you could always go to FAO Schwartz's Muppet Whatnot Workshop, a sort of Build-a-Bear Workshop for your own Henson inspired creation. This seems rife with possibility - ideally a Mii or Avatar-style process where you could create whatever character you want in Muppet form. An ideal holiday gift, even! That is until you realize the wasted potential of this tool. Whatnots are the Henson company's building blocks for creating new Muppets. Their offices have drawers and drawers filled with Muppet bits like eyes, fur, noses and the like. Going through the abysmal customization options on the site, you'd think that they just ran out of supplies. You see three body types of set color. 12 sets of eyes, 12 sets of noses, 13 hair styles (with no bald option) and 14 outfits (with no nude option). Your resulting Muppet comes out looking like a clumsy Chinese knockoff brand and here's the kicker: they cost $90 and delivery time is 3-4 weeks.
My 10 year self would be incredibly disappointed to receive one of these soulless creations as a gift. The wasted potential here is staggering to me. Imagine a Muppet creation shop with a library of parts pulled from the entire Muppet line. You could mash up Bert's uni brow with Ernie's football-shaped head and Cookie Monster's fur. You could give Kermit the Frog Miss Piggy's nose and pretend it's a freak frog-pig baby.
Wait, I have a better idea! Go to a fabric store. Buy the materials you need and make a Muppet yourself. Not only will you save money, but you'll be able to achieve something way more creative than FAO Schwartz's sorry tool could ever dream of putting together.
[link via SplitReason]
Things get a wee bit political this week as Jinny, Ross, Ryan and I discuss last week's events through the geek lens. We discuss Obama's wired presidency and the brilliance of Change.gov, the release of Gears of War 2 and the games' resemblance to a The Legend of Zelda and the true meaning of game industry secrets. We then discuss Wii Music from an educator's perspective, Dance Dance Revolution The Musical, a Watchmen video game and we dip into the mailbag. Show notes after the jump!
On the subject of things that sound stupid but will probably end up awesome: Dance Dance Revolution The Musical was announced today. Put on by theater company Les Freres Corbusier, this is so bad the laws of space and time demand it to be inversely incredible. Plus it has a character named Moonbeam Funk. To directly quote the SLOG's direct quote:
Les Freres transforms the Ohio Theater into a fully immersive, bombed-out discothèque as it fuses unmerciful Japanese rave music with deeply regrettable sophomoric comedy in the futuristic dance spectacular, Dance Dance Revolution.
Riffing on fizzy dance musicals like Flashdance and death sport movies such as Rollerball, Dance Dance Revolution is set in an Orwellian society where dance is illegal. A group of local street toughs harbor no hope of overthrowing the fascistic no-fun government--until a mysterious dance prophet named Moonbeam Funk arrives.
I never thought I'd live to see the day. The day when that dude who is always dancing in place while waiting in line to play DDR at the mall finally gets his own musical. Yes we can, indeed.
Everybody's waiting for you! Dance Dance Revolution the Musical opens December 3rd at the Ohio Theater in New York.
[link via the SLOG]
As a devout in the church of digital recording I don't see many live commercials. It was only recently, by some odd twist of fate, that I had some of this calculated marketing thrown my way.
Words and images flashed as I imagined a face-splitting paternal grin focused on a buzzing child as he skipped over to his machine, assuming the obligatory position of undeniable euphoria at the chance to pedal his way to self-sustaining television. Gone was the pasty skin and doughy physique, this kid would be cycling his way to a greener lifestyle while being entertained. Mom would wipe her floured hands on a modest apron and smile as little Johnny powered their home towards a brighter future.
But I had it wrong; this was some sort of kinetically enhanced video game whose focus was, of all things, learning. Despite the jumpy tune, brightly lit environment, and questionably sane toddler I couldn't decide how to peg the device. Home arcade experience or mechanical babysitter churning out super intelligent, thickly calved Über Children?
It didn't take long prowling the Fisher-Price site to see that this was, in the minds of some spendy parents, a cheaper alternative to getting their 4-year olds a Wii. The presence of near-daily reviews also confirmed that, despite a release date nearly two years ago, the niche this toy fits in to remains a strange one. The thing I don't understand is why.
In the U.S. over 30% of children age 2-19 can be classified as overweight or obese. Blame who or what you want, but surely the presence of physically involved entertainment couldn't hurt those numbers for the ones young enough to be "tricked" in to exercising at play time. General consensus is these toys are in fact so stimulating the little tykes have to be pried off or their time limited.
I like that toys like this exist. They remain the antithesis to the infernal Power Wheels (from the same company) I never had (thankfully) in my youth offering stationary advancement in place of whining, electric acceleration. Sooner or later someone will come up with a better formula that combines the slick stimulus of video games with the clever physical ingenuity of say, a jump rope. Perhaps the need to trick tiny spawn in to exercising, like wrapping your dog's pill in bacon, will become less nefarious.
While I personally can't be bothered to waggle a controller to swing a virtual sword I can see a niche of youngsters that would benefit from kinetic video games. It's not like little league teams or school sports are on a decline, but socially this is a whole different environment due for some innovation.
On this week's podcast Jinny and Ross join me to discuss the Sci-Fi channel's new video game reality show, Square Enix's new Japanese iPhone game, The Beatles' music game announcement, a computer program that is pure evil, Mushroom Men's fantastic music, the open-ended glory of Fallout 3 and Little Big Planet's ups and downs. This is all washed down with a frothy mug of mailbag.
fresh podcastsmore podcasts
The Weekly Geek is done on a zero budget, with no funding other than ads and merch. Help support the site with a donation! Consider it like tipping your waiter. We also give gifts for larger donations.