Category - General

Stuff that has no place anywhere else.

Taming the Wire Box

Wire Box Organized

Wire Box Organized

I hate my wire box. I dread when I have to go into that thing and look for something I might actually need, be it a USB cable or some random AC adapter. It doesn’t matter how many times I sort through it and attempt to organize everything (which is rare actually) because the moment I have to look for something all of my work becomes undone. Before I know it I have a giant knot of spaghetti wires which enrages me to no end. In fact, I actually took a picture of it a few weeks ago (pictured below) because I was going to write a post bitching about it, but I never got around to it because it didn’t really have a good ending other than me just saying I hated my wire box.

In steps my pal Randy from Elder-Geek.com with a Facebook status update telling people a brilliant and simple solution to the wire box – put everything in sandwich bags (pictured above). Hooray! Through all of my frustration I don’t know how this never crossed my mind. I ended up spending about an hour tonight untangling all of the wires, weeding out wires I don’t need anymore and things that don’t really belong in there (like a Virtual Boy and PS1 controller), swiping clean all the dog hair from the basket and finally placing everything into its own individual sandwich bag. The best part is that it works because I needed to test my newly sorted wire box as soon as I finished with it. I realized one of the parts I threw back into the box was an anchor for my HDTV (which I need to install now with the girls learning how to climb up to the TV) and I was able to find it rather quickly. Thank the heavens.

So I figured I should pass this tip onto everyone else, because damn it, it deserves it’s own post and more than a mere tweet. Thanks again Randy.

Wire Knot

The Magazine Treasure Chest – Part 3 – Magazine Memories

Assorted Game Mags

While going through my “Magazine Treasure Chest” I started taking some pictures of pages that caught my attention. After sifting through my photos, it turns out most of them are from Electronic Gaming Monthly, but that’s probably because I already wrote about early Nintendo Power in a previous post. Then there is GamePro, but lets face it, GamePro has nothing memorable going on despite the fact that I own tons of them.

I’m going to handle this one as more of a slide show, just a bunch of photos with some captions under them. Enjoy.

Final Fantasy EGM covers

I loved these Final Fantasy covers that were supposedly drawn by Yoshitaka Amano just for EGM, though I’ve seen the art elsewhere since then. I still really like Amano’s art, but at the time I was rather infatuated with his work, so I snatched these issues up and put them away in a different and safer spot for years. I loved the one of Tidus and Yuna so much that I actually bit off of it big time in a school project I worked on. Mine of course was no where near as awesome.

EGM size differences

In the mid 90s EGM did a handful of huge issues of the magazine. The one I still have in great condition features Doom for the 32X on the front. It’s pretty amazing they were able to put something like that out at the time, that thing was just packed with games and info (and of course ads). I suppose I see how it was possible, we were at what was then a height for video games as a medium and the internet wasn’t quite what it is today. How else would companies be able to reach interested players? Compare that to the July 2007 issues of EGM at the bottom of the stack which is about a quarter of the size of that beast. In the middle is probably the last “huge” issues of EGM from November 2002, but even that is dwarfed compared to the 1994 issue. Also, please excuse my gross finger nail in that shot. I cut them the next day.

EGM Donkey Kong map

The beauty of that huge issue is that they were able to dedicate pages to large maps like this. I always loved when magazines, especially Nintendo Power, would have huge maps on the pages. I love looking at game maps laid out like that, they give you a sense of how the developers are thinking along with the scale and scope of stages in a game. Today you can find tons of maps like this on vgmaps.com, but in those days this was the only way to see stuff like this.

EGM Arcade Game Coverage

EGM used to have a two to four page spread on Arcade games, which I always enjoyed seeing. Usually with games I would never get to play, but that was always the fun of it.

They also used to do big import sections and previewed tons of games that would never see the light of day in the US. This was another section I used to love looking at, and I’d always hold out hope that some of these games would eventually make it stateside.

EGM Import Section

Magazines like EGM and GameFan would have crazy cool ads in the back for shops that carried import games, along with anime posters, toys, and videos. I never ordered anything from these because I never had the money, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t read their huge release lists and salivate over the prospects of owning a Dragon Ball Z or Sailor Moon game for the Super Famicom.

Mario EGM cover

I included this cover for the headline that reads “Is 1999 the year Nintendo gets it right?” See, people think that the media has only started to beat up Nintendo with the Wii, but the fact is that they always love beating up on Nintendo. I suspect that same headline will be on the cover of some game magazine after this years E3. Some things just never change.

Panzer Dragoon Saga Ad

I thought this Panzer Dragoon Saga (Sega Saturn) ad was kind of funny, even though it’s a terrible ad. That game got a limit run of copies when Sega had already pulled the plug on the Saturn. This ad makes light of the limited quantities of the game and tells the person to cut out the mask and just pretend to be the character from the game to get your fix because chances are you’re not going to get it or play it.

First two years of Nintendo Power

I’m totally keeping these issues of Nintendo Power. You’re looking at almost the first two full years of Nintendo Power magazine (minus the issue that Simon’s Quest graced the cover of), which at the time was a bimonthly publication. These were the real reason I even started digging through all this stuff. You’ll see them in some capacity in ROM Vol 2.

First shot of TMNT in NP

There was a contest in the back of an early issue of NP where you could win tickets to see the upcoming TMNT movie. I took a shot of this image because it was the first shot I ever saw of the TMNT movie. I had heard the movie was coming but I didn’t know anything about it. In fact, I think I assumed that it was just going to be the cartoon. This single image was somewhat mind blowing to my young mind at the time. I just remembered staring at it for a long time wondering how that Leonardo worked and moved around. I was beyond pumped.

Assorted Game Mags

While NP, EGM and GamePro were my mains, I grabbed other mags here and there over the years. That’s the second to the last issue of the short lived Dreamcast magazine, along with a handful of Japanese mags, two from the N64 era that I bought from a shop in north Jersey that had a huge bookstore with lots of publications from Japan. The Weekly Famitsu I snagged on my honeymoon in Japan, because how could I not buy that week’s issue? And then there is the only issue I owned of Next Generation, can you guess why I bought that one?

So that’s just a couple things I noted while sorting through my magazines. I could probably find way more other odds and ends, but I thought this was enough for now.

Read the rest of the Magazine Treasure Chest

Part 1 – First Drawings of Jacquo
Part 2 – My work sort of in print
Part 3 – Magazine Memories
Part 4 – Old Drawings

8 Sci-Fi Series on Netflix Streaming You Should Watch

netflix

Netflix Instant Streaming is awesome, you should be using it. Chances are you have some device in your house capable of playing back their content hooked up to a large screen. Ever since they unveiled their ‘Streaming Only’ plan I’ve ditched the discs altogether. My wife and I love getting hooked on a good sci-fi TV series, heres a list of some essentials that are available on Instant Streaming…

Lost (2004)

This is a no-brain-er around these parts. Lost was practically designed to be experienced commercial free in rapid-fire succession. I guess if you’ve never seen or heard of Lost then classifying it as ‘Sci-Fi’ might be a minor spoiler. Sorry about that!

Battlestar Galactica (2003)

When the end comes, there will only be Edward James Olmos and your screams. Up until a few weeks ago I wouldn’t have recommended this because Netflix didn’t have the first two episodes available to Watch Instantly. Well they have corrected this nonsense and you can now experience BSG in its glorious entirety. Stop being a dick and watch Battlestar, seriously. So say we all… dick.

Dr. Who (2005)

Dr. Who is one of those shows you either lover or hate, I don’t think there is much in the way of middle-ground. The first season is alright, but Season 2 is where things take off when David Tennant (Barty Crouch Jr.) takes over as the Doctor.

Firefly (2002)

One of the finest shows ever made that got cancelled before it could find an audience. Joss Whedon did an amazing job blending Space and Westerns, even better than another certain someone who is often credited with making a Space Western. It’s a bit of an acquired taste and like most of Whedon’s stuff it relies heavily on campy humor, but if you open your heart… you might just find the best group of friends in the galaxy.

The X-Files (1993)

One of my favorite shows of all time. I can’t really recommend watching this past Season 5 or 6… it’s one of those things where asking the questions is a lot more fun than finding out the answers. Still, there are some amazing stories told in those early years and Mulder and Scully’s chemistry is addictive.

Eureka (2006)

I’ve recently come to love this show, and Netflix is to thank for this. This is definitely light sci-fi comedy and you have to go into it with the right attitude. It’s small-town campiness wrapped around the standard ‘problem of the week’ formula. Still, it’s got some really well written characters that you’ll find yourself genuinely caring about. That’s usually the sign of a great show for me.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)

This show not only features a smoking hot SMG in her early 20’s, it also serves as a beautiful time capsule for the 1990’s. The music, the clothes… it’s a rare occasion where I feel nostalgic for that time, but Buffy takes me back. This was before Vampires looked like they listen to My Chemical Romance and Werewolves were fodder for Suburban Moms to rub one out over. “In Joss We Trust.”

Quantum Leap (1989)

It kind of blows my mind that this was a prime-time show in it’s day. It’s a pretty wild premise for a TV show, guy travels through time taking the place of people to make sure they fulfill their historical destinies. Actually if you go back to Lost… it sounds kind of similar [lol, spoiler?] This show also had some crazy cameos over the years too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_Leap_(TV_series)#Guest_stars

Honorable Mentions: Farscape, Angel, Sliders, Stargate (There are like 20 of them on there)

Multi-touch woes.

multi-touch-woes

Most of us have some sort of device, be it a phone or gaming system, in our pockets that relies on a touch based system of input instead of traditional, hard wired buttons. We are experiening a shift in how we interact with the technology around us. Now, clearly none of this is new. The Nintendo DS has had a touch screen since its release in 2004, and I remember seeing a demo for a product that looked very similar to Microsoft’s Surface several years ago where the concepts that we know today as “pinch to zoom” were first seen. A touch screen has opened up new user interface possibilities, however I have began to notice a slight draw back to them.

The thing is, most touch sensative devices today require some kind of “unlocking” gesture. Sliding your finger in a predetermined gesture will unlock the screen and allow you to actually use it. Sounds familiar? This keeps your phone from turning on and dialing people while you hold it against your cheek on a call. While this safeguard is essential to keeping your phone from doing its own thing by accident, it also adds a layer between you and your device. I’ll give you a real world example.

I’m one of the five people in the world who own a Zune. As I mentioned on the last podcast, my old one kicked the bucket and in a moment of weakness I broke down and bought a new 64GB Zune HD. This one sports a touch screen and a far more slick interface from the previous version. I am not a member of the Church of Apple, so let’s just get past this part of the conversation shall we? Thank you!

The old 80GB Zune had a touch sensetive surface that also served as a clickable directional button. It was built to work with the vertical nature of the Zune’s UI, and it did a pretty good job at it. To fast forward a song, even while the Zune was playing and the screen was sleeping, all I had to do was click the “squircle”. I could do this with my eyes closed. Considering the fact that I got the most use out of my Zune was while driving I did indeed do this alot without actually looking at the Zune. Again, as with most touchable devices, the Zune HD has an unlock screen that I have to drag my finger from top to bottom. Then, I have to touch the album cover displayed to pull up the volume and fast forward/rewind controls. In the past, all I had to do was reach down and click a physical button. With the new one, I have to go through two steps in order to do the same thing and I have to actually focus on the device itself. The tactile feedback from a physical button has been erased, and with it a certain degree of simplicity. The baby has been thrown out with the bath water.

Now as an important side note, the Zune HD does indeed have a physical button on the side one can press to pull up this same screen. However, it is recessed and it not easy to find without looking at it. Thus bringing us back to the problem at hand.

So that’s my current random thoughts on modern user interface design utilizing touch screens and the direction it is taking. Perhaps alot of my current problems with the Zune HD has to do with my unfamiliarity with it. Maybe over time, sheer use will teach my fingers where to touch the screen in order to pull the volume select or fast forward/rewind options.

DVD and Blu-Ray Releases for October 26th

BTTF

Back to the Future 25th Anniversary Trilogy – No description needed. Classic. Check Phil’s Nerdlog posts through his topic on the Smorg.

Sex and the City 2 – the old broads are getting sick and tired of what their lives have become. Its all routine being married, having children, and not living the fabulous lives they once had. So they decide to go on a spontaneous trip to Morocco where Samantha’s ex is filming a movie. Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon.

Also on DVD and Blu-Ray: Elf (Ultimate Collector’s Edition), The Girl Who Played With Fire, House (The Criterion Collection), Maniac: 30th Anniversary Edition, Paths of Glory (The Criterion Collection), Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Complete Season Two, Ultimate NFL and Winter’s Bone.

On DVD Only: A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism, Dark Star (Hyperdrive Edition), Lake Placid 3, Last Day of Summer, Nice Guy Johnny, Sex and the City: The Complete Collection, The Venture Brothers: Season Four, Vol. 1, Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?), Wild Grass and You Don’t Know Jack.

On Blu-Ray Only: Alien Anthology.

SRP LIVE (Wrapped up)

Thanks to everyone that was able to make it out last night during our live recording. We’ll have the MP3 ready sometime in the next week or two (Joe’s a busy bee these days, as we all are). So stayed tuned for that!

*BUMPED* Shamoozal Radio Returns this Saturday

Shamoozal Radio Returns

The Shamoozal Radio Podcast was on hold nearly all summer long, but this Fall marks the great return of SRP! Will we be doing SRP on a monthly basis like we used to? I can’t say for sure, but lets be glad that the gang is getting back together to record another show. As always, we’ll be doing it live this Saturday night and you’ll be able to catch the video and chat feed right here on the main page. We’re hopefully going to start around 9PM EST and we’d love to see some of you guys out there. Considering it’s been ages since we did one of these, I’m expecting the turnout to be like… uhh… five people. That’s okay though because the MP3 of the show will be available a few days later for download.

It’s been so long that we’re bound to have lots to talk about. Join us for Shamoozal updates, ridiculous news stories and most likely a new game. Hooray.