Here are a few of my favorite things: Nintendo, Penny Arcade, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Fallout, Dungeons and Dragons, books, dice, Professor Layton, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, and so much more. I'm going to talk a lot about video games, I sincerely hope you don't mind.

Newest paper sculpt project!

Sonic Screwdriver trio for my friend's birthday.

An interview with Adam Harum of Transolar Galactica.

They achieved their Kickstarter goal, and now the world gets more of their award winning sci-fi comedy!

Doctor Who themed lip balm!

Brought to you from Earthtastic! and A Bit of Geek.

Minecraft paper sculpt!

My submission to the Mojang community art contest. Watch the video!

A TARDIS desk lamp!

Instructions and babbling on how to make a TARDIS lamp from foam core!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Creeper out to Play

While in Ireland I went on a wee photo shoot with my little Creeper from Minecraft.


Fond Memories of DOS Games.

As we collectively say good-bye to the year 2012 I want to take this moment to look back, way back, to around 1992 or so.

It was a simpler time of DOS based machines, black screens, and mouseless navigation. The keyboards were chunkier and clunkier, and the floppy disks were actually floppy. I remember being in Kindergarten and having 'lab time', where all of us tiny children walked down the hallways and into the computer lab. The lights were dim, the room was warm, and the computers hummed lightly with anticipation of game time.

At school the game was always Word Muncher, a simple interactive title where a little green man with a giant mouth and legs walked around a grid and ate words or numbers that correlated to the key word or number. For example!
Aww yiss, Word Muncher. Source.

Those were good times, and I like to believe that is where I started my long and storied life as a computer lover.

When I was in second grade my mom bought our first family computer, and I was floored. I thought it was the best thing in the world, and I was so proud to have a computer at the house. MY house. After school I got to run home and play with it. And you know what I played?

Motha 'effin' Mario Teaches Typing. Source.

Mario Teaches Typing is the party responsible for the typist that I am today. In my prime I could do 77 wpm with virtually no errors. It's a fact that I am perhaps too proud of.

We didn't have internet until I was in fifth or sixth grade, and then it was AOL dial up and a nightmare. All years leading up to that were DOS based gaming bliss. Really just Mario Teaches Typing on Windows 95. My mom still has the box and all install items for it, too. The box is enormous and made of the heftiest cardboard that ever existed. It contains two options depending on your needs: five inch floppies, and three and a half inch floppies. Just hysterical.

What are your best DOS based memories?


Friday, December 28, 2012

Down the (apple) Rabbit Hole.

You'll recall that on Wednesday I announced the arrival of my new Macbook Pro and my subsequent desire to load it up with Fallout 3. I mused over the possibility of a dual boot setup, but then my friend suggested I install Wine. So I headed over and followed these instructions (which seemed simple enough, if not lengthy) and I felt positive that I was on my way to a legitimate path of playing a Steam purchased copy of Fallout 3.

Spoiler alert: this story doesn't have a happy ending.

Close to the end of the day on Christmas I set about to downloading my game. I hopped onto Steam and moved forward with the purchase, deciding I'd download it just to be "on the ball" and then I'd install Wine later. It turns out you can't do that! Steam for OSX doesn't like it when you try to download a PC title. With a shrug and a sigh it became apparent that I'd better start with Wine right away.
The first of many status updates announcing my gung-ho intentions.

Commence an hour or four of installing XCode, X11, a Java Development Package, MacPorts, a quick tutorial on using the Terminal, and then Wine, and I was starting to feel pretty optimistic. With the exception of a few minor user error issues everything was going quite smoothly. Wine functioned as it should have and I was able to nab the Windows version of Steam and get my copy of Fallout 3 into an "imaginary" Program Files folder. Well, not imaginary, but whatever on Earth it is that Wine does to interpolate Windows files as readable for a Mac.

I was feeling really good, you know? Savvy and smart. I was entering command lines into the Terminal and making windows open and what-not. On top of the computer world, I was! 

On top of the world, but still just a touch confused.

Things began to fall apart when I went to actually install the game. A lot of dialogue boxes popped up and everything went well at first. When it became time to install the .NET component, though, I thought my computer might blow up in angry protest. It threw multiple (and repeated) violent errors warning missing components and crashing files and error reports before finally exiting out in a huff of smoke and leaving me staring surprised at the innocuous open Steam window.

After a few looks around online for solutions I found the missing DLL components that it so desperately needed (according to the Terminal log, anyway), but I was met with disappointing results. At this point I had sort of coded myself into a corner and I really no longer knew what was installed and what I was missing. So...

First off, please forgive that typo. I was extremely tired and apparently sort of incoherent. I had stayed up until around 1:30 trying in vain to produce satisfactory results, but when it became apparent that I'd have to start over I decided to turn in for the night. I then proceeded to lay awake until around 3:00, just, thinking about the errors and of possible solutions. I woke up at 7:00 sharp and found that I was absolutely wired for some reason, and that reason was desperation to get back on my laptop and make the frigging game work.

So on hardly four hours of sleep I set back to work. I found a second tutorial with a different set of instructions, and I worked with a clean slate and crossed fingers that the planets would align and the computer gods would have mercy on my Fallout deprived soul. 

Sadly, today was not my day. After conceding defeat I fell back into bed and slept for three hours.  

Anyone have a copy of Windows 7 they're not going to use?


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Technological Disappointments.

Or, how my Christmas morning plans were foiled by PC only titles.

My mother listened to my constant woes and complaints over the past few months regarding my ancient macbook, and ended up getting me a new macbook pro (with retina display!) for Christmas. Sadly(?) I knew about this marvelous gift because my mother lacks sufficient knowledge on what makes a good computer, but also because she didn't know my specific needs. Somewhat indifferent to the lack of a surprise, I ordered it and then sat with my hands in my lap waiting patiently for Christmas morning.
Pictured above: one of the many things that eventually fell into my lap.

I had grand plans for holiday gaming, you see. Until last year I was never much for computer gaming, just Minecraft really, but then I started Fallout 3 and Skyrim files on a friend's computer and, well, I've decided that I like the keyboard and mouse setup quite a bit.

My sister and her family weren't set to arrive until around noon or one o'clock Christmas Day, which left my mother and me with plenty of time to drink mimosas while watching the Doctor Who Christmas special (me, not her), and setting up my new macbook. I decided that the first order of business would be grabbing Steam and installing Fallout 3. Because nothing screams 'Christmas' like a post apocalyptic United States of America.

Something unrelated that screams 'Christmas': a ten week old springer spaniel mutt 
who wants to get his sleep on in your lap. You just say yes.

For some reason I had it in my head that Fallout 3 was PC/Mac, but all signs online point to it being PC only. Color me devastated. I sat melancholy on the couch, sipping my mimosa and watching the snow fall (all the while quite paranoid of sentient snowmen).

I have come to really enjoy the functionality of the macbook, and I have zero desire to switch to a Windows based machine in the near future. Why must companies punish me so? I've considered a Windows desktop to accompany my macbook for the sake of increased ease of access in software scenarios such as this, but no. I don't imagine that will happen.

Perhaps a dual boot is in my future.

In the meantime, I'll cry quietly while clutching my new Dalek plushie to my chest. Isn't that what you'd do with yours?


Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas! Here's a Pokemon Paper Sculpt!

Things have been really hectic around my mom's house these past few days. With last minute gift making and getting even sicker (spoiler alert: I have bronchitis), time is flying and all of a sudden it is Christmas Eve!

I want to take a minute to with everyone a happy holiday. Whatever you celebrate, whatever brings you close to your family and friends, I wish you a happy one! This time of year is my favorite because I become overcome with love and appreciation for the things that I have and the people in my life. And cookies. I make a lot of cookies this time of year. Does anyone have any great nerd crafted recipes they're willing to share?

This year I decided to combine the gift giving season with an opportunity to get more paper sculpt practice in, and I want to share one of them now. I made this for my best friend Jacki and, since she and I did a gift exchange over the weekend, I can now safely share it here:

She favors Squirtle, and Oddish will forever be my favorite. So this is really a self portrait of us.

I am particularly proud of the open Pokeball detailing!

After the other gifts have been given I plan on sharing some of the other projects I worked on. I know you're all very excited about it!

Before signing off today I want to thank you, dear readers, for reading. I deeply appreciate every page view and comment! You're one of the many things I give thanks for this time of year.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Waiting for a Wii U.

Let's talk a little bit about why those of us who are Wii U-less should be OK with this situation. First, in light of news that over seven thousand units were stolen from a warehouse in Seattle, it will be difficult for a lot of people to even get their hands on one. Second, the game selection is very modest even though it does boast some games worth owning. Third, the wait time can allow people to get first-person information from friends/forums that won't contain paid enthusiasm. $300/$350 is a lot to drop down if the console in question doesn't have games we want to play, and even more money if we're not sure we even like the features.
Some Wii U features weren't available on day one. I need to know more.

My hands-on experience at PAX this summer told me that I absolutely want to own a Wii U. But the only game I'd even buy at the moment is New Super Mario Bros. U. My game collections are usually quite modest, but even I'd prefer a larger selection out of the gate. Even though Mario is an excellent title, it doesn't represent the range and capabilities of the system. Nintendo touts such innovation regarding the game pad, so I want a game that'll really show it off.

Since the Wii U boasts more online and multi-player features, I also want to wait until more people also own a system. I'm not a big online gamer, but that's generally because I don't care for playing with strangers. Waiting for my buddies to also be in a financial position to pick up a Wii U ensures more robust fun for all of us.
Wii U offers up 'multi-player gaming sessions', but are genres other than FPSes in the works?

Lastly, and I think a lot of people can probably relate to this, I have so many other games to be playing right now. Adding an entirely new system to the mix would just be detrimental to the piles of "money" I already have in my house. Maybe every time I finish a game that I've been putting off I can put five or ten dollars into a Wii U fund jar? That'd serve the multi-purpose of saving and finishing more games in my library! I like the sound of this.

Are you waiting for more titles before buying a Wii U?


Monday, December 17, 2012

On Land Lines and Mysteries.

Some odd circumstances lately led me to using a land line. And not like a business land line, but one that's at a house. I haven't had access to one in almost three years, and even when I was at my mom's I never answered the house phone because I knew no one would be attempting to reach me anywhere but my cell.

The house I live in now doesn't have a land line, and quite frankly they've become foreign in a shockingly short amount of time. Now I'm at my mom's for the holidays, and as a result I've had a chance to get back in touch with the ancient technology that is a house phone.

My cell was on the fritz, not charging and the like, so I had to call the Sprint store to inquire about my replacement. I wandered about the house to locate the elusive land line phone (since, again, my cell wasn't on since it wouldn't charge). There it stood, on its mighty charging station. Orange screen ablaze and defiant. A certain pride and anticipation about it, as though it sensed it was about to be used.
You can be sure this phone is playing the opening song from '2001: A Space Odyssey' to itself.

It felt odd in my hand. Too big, to be sure, and so simple. The 'on' button produced the long familiar dial tone, and I was flooded with childhood and teen memories. As I dialed the number, I mused over the fact that not very long ago phones didn't have screens on them. At all. So, you know, not only was Caller ID nonexistent, but one also couldn't verify the number that they had dialed.

As a child I dialed phone numbers with total confidence, thumb flying around the buttons (tactile, not screen buttons!) pressing with familiarity and accuracy. But now? Now I am gripped with complete paranoia if I have to dial a number without verification. I am severely reliant on the on-screen proof that I was sure-fingered.

Of course with the addition of Caller ID we lost these bad boys. Unless you had this.

I also got on a train of thought about Caller ID. I always know who is calling me, so when I answer the phone I say, "Hello." It is a statement and not a question. So often people will say, "Hi, it's (name)" and I never know how to respond, so I say, "I know." Does that read as creepy/threatening?

Whenever I receive a call from a number not in my phone I am driven to the frantic edge of curiosity. I practically froth at the mouth needing to know who it is. Many people that I know feel differently. The most common statement is, "If it's important they'll leave a message," but if no message is left I can't help but believe the receiver is left with a sense of unfinished business.

Who was the mysterious caller?


Friday, December 14, 2012

Those Precious Coins

With our Governor of Geekdom feeling a little under the weather I've whipped together this little ditty for ya.


It's kind of been done, sure, but this is a slightly different angle. I don't claim to be the first person who thought of this, but hell, I had fun making it and it's always nice to think back on the little guys you crushed on your way to the Big Bad. Back when I first saw Bowser that's what I thought he'd look like if ever we were to meet in a dark dank dungeon. At the end of the game I also kind of expected something to happen with the coins, I mean, extra lives are great but a plumber can only use so many extra lives.

Get well soon MJ, the Geeks are restless without you.

En Taro Adun,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Delirium off the Port Side.

I am going on day seven or eight of being wildly ill, and it's making writing a real challenge. I can't keep my attention focused long enough to do any research or to come up with real topics, and as I write I'm still at a total loss.

I thought that perhaps going through the old Google Reader would get my brain turning on a subject or two, but I'm really just staring blankly at my screen while feeling as though I'm in a badly pressurized air plane that has been attempting to land for three or four days.

Remember when you were little and you'd get sick and your parent or someone would take care of you and you'd get to watch all your favorite shows on TV? Why do I have to be a grown up who is forced to make her own tea and soup?!

I really should have been using this time to finally watch 'Firefly'.

(I know I know, it's a travesty that I haven't seen it yet)

It's becoming apparent that this is all going nowhere fast, so I'll leave you with an entertaining image and we'll all just hope that things go back to normal on Friday.


Good. I have my fingers and toes crossed that you fine readers aren't also currently sick to the bone and hacking up blobs in the sink that look suspiciously like tiny slugs.

Oh, right, here's the image I promised:
Pfft. Wifi signals, mirite? Source.



Monday, December 10, 2012

Decorating in Style. Geek Style!

While decking the halls with a fellow gamer friend, she showed me some super cute Super Mario Bros. ornaments that she owned. They added a lot of fun to the otherwise traditional decorations in her home and on her tree, and I started thinking about what other kinds of geeky ornaments exist in the world!

(This all dovetails nicely with the Ocarina of Time note ornaments that I included in my 'gift' post from last week.)

Without having specific products in mind to search for, I had to go with a generic 'geek Christmas', or 'geek decorations' search. I bet the internet holds more treasures still, but here are the fun things that I found!

-Custom TARDIS/Doctor Who holiday stocking from geekabyebaby on Etsy

-Hand painted Creeper festive platter from sweetpeapaint on Etsy

-Digital gaming wreath from ThinkGeek

-Super Mario Bros. puffy ornament set from bowlerhatbudgie on Etsy

-Pixel snowman mug from ThePeachPoppy on Etsy

-Invincible Star tree topper from jinglebells0424 on Etsy

-Star Wars Yoda lights from ThinkGeek

There are more options still for those who prefer a diy approach to their festivities. I found a few fun Mario Nutcrackers, for instance! Do you have any geek or gaming related holiday decorations in your house?


Friday, December 7, 2012

Review Time! Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion.

When this title was first announced I got pretty excited; I'm a fan of the original SEGA 'Illusion' games, and this 'Power of Illusion' looked to be an amazing and satisfying spiritual sequel. After playing it at PAX Prime this summer I was certain that it'd be a game worth owning.

Fast forward to November, and Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is available for in-store purchase as well as an eShop download for the Nintendo 3DS system. I happened to fall into possession of some eShop giftcards, so a digital download made the most sense!
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for 3DS is a great side scrolling platformer! Source

Right out of the gate, I love the graphics! Any fans of the 16-bit era of gaming will feel right at home in the pixelated beauty of Power of Illusion. The game feels smooth and colorful, with responsive controls and varied environments.

The player is given the role of Mickey Mouse, who is tasked with rescuing an impressive Disney character back catalogue from the Castle of Illusion. You see, Mizrabel is back and is jealous of the attention that other characters get. She hopes that by trapping enough of them in her castle, she'll gain the power to enter the real world.

Mickey explores new areas of the castle that appear and collects lost Disney characters along the way. Each character ends up with their own room to wait in, and between castle adventures Mickey can perform side quests. Rapunzel wants a frying pan, for instance, and Snow White wants some pickaxes for her dwarf friends. Some of the side quest items can be found from other characters, while other items are found in the actual level environments. This means that some levels must be played through multiple times if you hope to help all of the Disney folk!
All of your favorite old and new Disney characters are here. Source

Power of Illusion features large "worlds" based off of well known Disney films. The first area is London and Neverland from Peter Pan, and it spans about five sub levels. At the end of each world there's a boss battle featuring your favorite villains! The first world ends with Captain Hook, naturally!

Boss battles require quick thinking and some trial and error. Source

This 3DS offering brings back the paint/thinner methods of Epic Mickey for the Wii, and it melds beautifully with the touch controls of the handheld system. Players can activate the paint/thinner on the lower screen by either touching the lower screen or hitting the 'x' button. Sometimes Mickey will need to paint in a useful block while in midair, so prepare for some finger dexterity!

One of the first characters rescued is Scrooge McDuck, and he sets to work making a store where upgrades are purchasable! Mickey will have all the help he needs in the way of additional hearts, more powerful attacks, and less paint/thinner used when fighting enemies. Some enemies are defeated more effectively with melee bounce attacks, while others are spiky and therefore need the paint and thinner attacks.

Here the player uses the lower screen to paint in a shape. The shape will then have
a new block appear so that Mickey can continue his adventure. Source

Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is more challenging than I expected, and many levels and villain fights take multiple attempts. I appreciate the fact that this game won't be a quick and easy jaunt!

If you're looking for yet another fun game to squeeze into your busy gaming schedule, then Power of Illusion is worth your time and money! Fans of old school side-scrolling platformers will find a lot of fun, and Disney fans will enjoy seeing all of their favorite characters on-screen (not unlike in Kingdom Hearts).

Are there any other 'Illusion' franchise fans out there? Has anyone else picked up Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for their 3DS?


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Holiday Gift Giving Suggestions For Geeks

As the gift giving season is now officially upon us, it's time to put some serious consideration into what we will give to our special geek loved ones. It can be a daunting task considering the wide variety of options (and equal variety of geek hobbies), but fear not! I have gathered a few things together to help get you started.

First let us take a look at the most useful websites for your purchasing needs:

1. Much Needed Merch

2. Geek Alerts

3. FanGamer

4. (last but not least) Think Geek

I've been a frequenter of Think Geek for years, but the other three are new to me. Each website contains an abundance of things that I wish I owned! Geek Alerts is a collection website, so to purchase a featured item you must follow a link. Much Needed Merch and FanGamer sell their own products.

I highly recommend trawling through each website. I can almost guarantee you'll find something for your hobby crazed friend, and I bet you'll see something you like, too. And don't worry, because each of those links contains far more than amazing t-shirts. It's high time the geek of your life expanded into relevant kitchen gear and clever license plate holders.

Here are some products (found on the aforementioned websites) that I find to be particularly awesome:

1. The Hobbit moleskine notebooks.

2. Doctor Who pocket watch.

3. "Studies in Evolution" poster set.

4. Professional nerd polo shirts.

5. NES cartridge notepads.

6. Wind Waker spoils bag.

7. Ocarina of Time note ornaments.

This list could have been pages longer, but I try to keep things short and tidy around here. I would love to own every single item listed, so I guess in a way it's a very wishful wish list! 

What's on your list this year? Is there a special geek in your life who you'll be shopping for?


Monday, December 3, 2012

Zelda for Wii U Finally Announced!

Last week the video game world was given a gift. The gift of a reliable source sharing information about the Legend of Zelda game that will grace the Wii U sometime in 2014. Nintendo hasn't released any official information themselves, only teasing statements regarding in-development titles. We know that a Zelda game is in the works, so what fans want now is information on what will make it different and exciting from previous entries in the series.
Zelda HD for the Wii U. Screenshot circa E3 2012. Source.

According to this article from Wii U Daily, we can expect a visual styling much like Skyward Sword, a team/budget akin to the Grand Theft Auto series (Zelda Wii U being their most expensive project to date), and dungeons that will "literally take hours to complete."

The article is lengthy and detailed, and talks about how the ideas that are in place for Zelda Wii U rank high among the reasons for the existence of the Gamepad. With a statement as bold as this, I now expect some serious innovation from the Gamepad. More than I did before, anyway!

I'm hoping for some official words and maybe even a piece of art or two from Nintendo, but there's a good chance we won't see anything like that until we're closer to E3 in June. Stay tuned though, and keep your fingers crossed!


Thanks to my friend Zach for passing this article along to me!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Why Holiday Tech Support Isn't So Bad (To Me)

I keep reading these articles online that talk about preparing for holiday tech support. They caution tech savvy individuals to "brace" themselves for an onslaught of family members asking for help and advice. There are articles that advise bringing install discs and compressed air to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. I think of the ever popular "I will not fix your computer" shirt, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel. I think I need different sentiments on my shirts. I'll put them in this post.

My family asks me for computer help whenever I'm home, so I don't expect the holidays to be any different. The exception being that when new gadgets are received on Christmas day we generally sit down and learn the object together. It's not easy to "fix" something when it's brand new to me, so there's that as well.

And sure, I don't always feel like fixing a computer or looking into a printer or troubleshooting a fritzy mp3 player, but I do anyway. My family depends on me, and a lot of people do feel truly lost when something with their technology goes awry. All the same, I'm a believer of firm but nice answers. Perhaps a little, "Can we look at it later?" or, "Why don't we find a time when things aren't so hectic." It's important to set boundaries because we (myself and other tech-smart people out there) are home for the holidays and we all deserve to relax, too.
For the hungry nerds.

Perhaps more important than learning to say "no" is learning when to admit defeat. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the word, but in many cases I seem like it to my family. They expect me to have answers and solutions, and for my own sanity I need to be able to say that the problem is beyond me and they should seek other options. Of course I hate it when this happens! I want to be able to help, and I get a lot of satisfaction from fixing problems. However it doesn't help me to get stressed and end up ignoring family just to fix one wonky machine.
For the nerds who are honest with themselves.

I realize that my situation probably isn't like everyone else's: I don't have huge extended family holidays. If I'm fixing something then it's only one or two little things for my mom, and she's amazing so I don't mind helping her. Earlier this week I spent an entire day getting her desktop machine in shape and installing a fancy new printer. I know how much she appreciate it, and that makes me happy.

For the momma's nerds. (me)

Are you the tech support person in your family? Do you dread holiday gatherings because of it? I want to know!


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