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Monthly Archives: March 2008

Geek-Out Moment: Frodo Lives!

Lord of the Rings began as a moderate success, garnering mixed reviews but an avid following.  The book took on a unique persona as a catch phrase for the hippie movement of the 60s and 70s with "Frodo Lives" appearing on T-shirts, buttons, graffiti, and even an album.  The saying is linked to the theory that Frodo lives forever after the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, though Tolkien himself said Frodo will die (presumably of natural causes).  Another meaning could simply be that Tolkien’s books will be remembered forever.  The phrased gained in popularity as the books did, especially after the releases of paperback editions encouraging the cult following and embracing by the stick-it-to-the man counterculture, transcending geeks to becoming a true pop culture moment.

Geek-Out Moment: Family Guy Strikes Back

family_guy Family Guy provided an assortment of colorful characters with instantly quotable lines and raunchy humor that makes television worth watching.  The FOX Network didn’t like this kind of popularity and canceled the moderately popular show after three seasons.  Family Guy reruns became a major hit on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, viewed in constant repetition by high college students and people who couldn’t figure out when Robot Chicken was on.  The show’s DVDs sold more than two million copies, attracting the attention of FOX who decided to respond to fans demands and not only bring the show back for a fourth season, launched a second show by Family Guy’s creator Seth McFarlane called American Dad.  It was a great triumph for geeks and petitioners everywhere, a sign that our voices can be heard and can make a difference. Gigady gigady.

Geek-Out Moment: Bishop to Queen 3

Correspondence chess could be the first form of online multiplayer gaming, only instead of being online, use the postal service.  Serious chess players throughout the years have sought the best competition and often had to look outside their neighborhoods.  Using snail mail, people could play chess games with the best players around the world.  Major organizations like the International Correspondence Chess Federation and the United States Chess Federation helped bring chess mates together for true challenges.  The ICCF has held tournaments for correspondence chess play over the past 50 years, over both mail and email, showing that even the old game can learn some new tricks.

Video game console lifecycle: longer not always better

psp Video game fans know it sucks to invest hundreds of dollars in consoles, accessories, and games only to do the whole thing over again in five years. We do it, but we hate it. Sony’s PS2 is showing the console lifecycle might be lengthening, with awesome games still being releases for the seven year old system. The PS2 even outsells the state-of-the-art PS3 meaning people seem willing to invest a couple years in the aged platform.

But Sony’s PSP handheld is a different beast. John Koller, senior marketing manager for Sony’s PSP told IGN he believes the handheld has a 10-year lifecycle similar to the PS2 and PS3. Using firmware updated and some hardware revisions, they can milk the life out of the PSP. But this is a bad idea and an example when starting fresh is better in a few years.

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Geek-Out Moment: Gotta catch ’em all

pokemon I believe the global economy crashed around the late 1990s when everyone in the entire world realized they Gotta catch ’em all.  Nintendo released the first Pokemon game for the Game Boy in 1996 for Japan and 1998 for North America in an attempt to conquer the world.  And they have almost succeeded.  The Pokemon franchise is second only to Mario in sales of games and has expanded to almost every conceivable medium from anime to comics to card games to fanny packs and underwear.  The games themselves foster a completist’s frenzy as gamers are charged with finding all the Pokemon hidden in the world.  The original game had 151 Pokemon to collect, but you needed two versions of the game to find them all.  The recent Pokemon Pearl and Diamond have upped that number to 493 Pokemon with different genders and colors, allowing for hundreds more to collect resulting in mass absences from elementary schools.  Gotta catch ’em all.

Geek-Out Moment: Justice League joins forces

jla_first In 1960, DC Comics realized if you add popular characters together, they equal a more popular comic book. With all new versions of their staple characters like the Flash and Green Lantern, DC Comics decided to join them with Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman for the juggernaut of all super-teams. Gardner Fox wrote the Justice League of America and their adventures fending off foes that each hero couldn’t handle on their own. The result was a massive success leading DC’s publisher Jack Liebowitz to brag to the Martin Goodman, the publisher of Marvel Comics. Goodman then charged write and editor Stan Lee to create Marvel’s own super-team. And well, nothing much came of that.

Geek Chic: Fashion no geek should have

Following up my Fashion Every Geek Should Have post, I decided to take the opposite route and help rid geeks of some fashion faux pas you might realize you’re committing.  Here are the biggest violations of true Geek Chic.

geek_faux_pas Cell phone on the belt

Popular among BlackBerry enthusiasts and other techies who are trying too hard to pretend their phone is a tricorder.  Even the most fabulous phones, even your darling iPhone, should be heard but not seen.  And frankly, I don’t even want to hear it.  Keep your phone in your pocket or bag when it’s not in use.

Clothing that doesn’t fit

I worked for a week at Express (oh college) and had to convince many skinny guys under 6′ that they weren’t largest.  To get them to wear a medium was a challenge even though it looked much better.  Even if you don’t have a great body, clothing should fit you.  For skinny geeks, wear smalls or, occasionally mediums.  The slimmer fits make the clothing look more stylish even if you aren’t at the forefront of fashion.  And if you are large, find clothes that help your body image like vertical stripes and darker colors which have slimming effects.

Inappropriately worn geek fashion

I’m a big advocate for wearing comic book and video game shirts when appropriate.  Clothing professing your love for Spider-Man and Batman are fun and personable, but can also be off putting in the wrong setting.  Make sure you wear these shirts to fun, casual events paired with something more serious like a sport jacket or sweater to show you’re styling, not just slumming.  And make sure the shirt fits!

Avoid shorts

Unless you have calves to make David Beckham jealous, don’t wear shorts.  Your legs will look almost as stupid as mine.  If you can’t take the heat, try khakis shorts over jeans.  They legitimize the silliness a little.

This does not apply to girls, I will note.

Glasses too big for your face

Sleek and slender doesn’t just apply to polos and mini-skirts – it even applies to glasses. Check out Prodigeek’s look at Geek Chic Glasses and you get the idea that the glasses your grandparents and parent wore at out and cool, clean frames are in.  Even those like me with window pane sized lens can find smaller frames to compliment the shape of our faces.  And if you’re really struggling, spring for contact lens.

Geek-Out Moment: I’m under Buffy’s spell

buffy_once_more_feeling Geeks and TV critics alike knew Buffy was an innovative show willing to toy with expectations.  But nothing could prepare us for Once More, With Feeling, the Buffy Musical episode.  During Buffy’s sixth season, demon comes to Sunnydale causing its citizens to dance and sing like a old-fashion music, with harmonies and hidden orchestra.  Not only was the music explained in the story, but the episode dealt with major plot points, providing emotional moments enhanced by the enchanting music like "Under Your Spell" and "Life’s a Show".  Joss Whedon, in fact, wrote the episode’s music which, in this theater geek’s opinion, is some of the best music around.  Clubs around the country hold Buffy sing-along’s regularly in celebrating of the classic episode.  Watch for Whedon’s follow-up musical about super-heroes, Doctor Horrible.

Geek-Out Game: Shift

shift Is it too early to call something next Portal? Well Shift is as close as I’ve seen to that puzzle magic. This side scrolling puzzler requires your running and jumping silhouette reach a door, but to get there, you have to shift from one background into the other, turning the world upside down. This allows you to reach new platforms and down others. There’s no cake, but it’s still a great game for that Portal-esque craving.

Geek-Out Game: Shift

I’m coming out as Pro-Innovation

There are lots of sexy political issues, usually following whatever George Clooney is promoting that week, and sadly patent law is not one of them. Intellectual property issues and patent law is too complex to be highlighted on billboards, and from the public’s perspective, doesn’t affect our lives too much. But the more I learn about these issues, the more I realize how much America’s patent system is hurting us economically and intellectually.

But in my research and discussions with people, I found myself challenged as to describe my position. I am not specifically anti-copyright or anti-patents and wish there was a term to describe my political position so I knew what to call the Facebook group.

I would like to recommend Pro-Innovation as the term.

Pro-Innovation has that positive marketing spin, being for something rather than against something else. And innovation is good, and in truth, the intended purpose of a patent system. Unfortunately, for all the conventional wisdom, there is no evidence that more patents helps innovation, rather it hampers innovation more than helps.

The Pro-Innovation position looks to bring back American intellectual property laws to their minimalist state as dictated by the Constitution “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” Meaning any patent or copyright is granted only to promote the development or more and better stuff and only granted for a limited time (70 years after the creator dies seems a little long).

This is an extremely complex issue that I will be tackling more on Prodigeek, but I wanted to throw my suggestion in the ring. I have already trademarked Pro-Innovation and expect a quarter every time somebody says it.