Archive of ‘Geek Speak’ category

2011 Holiday Gamer Gift Guide

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Are you ready for another holiday spending spree? It seems like so many new games have hit the shelves this season. How do you know what to purchase for your kids? What would thrill your geeky spouse? Are your toddlers ready for some gaming too?

Geeky Moms sat down with Jonah Lantto, gaming expert and general manager at our local Gorilla Games, for some in-depth coverage of this year’s best gaming gifts.

Geeky Moms: We are thrilled to see such a selection of games this year. What do you think will be your biggest game seller for the Holidays 2011?

Jonah, Gorilla Games: A month ago I would’ve told you the year’s best seller would unquestionably be Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, but Elder Scrolls Skyrim released on November 11th and is crushing in sales. I think MW3 will edge it out because it has the Call of Duty name and its also available on a few platforms that Skyrim is not. The Wii, DS, and 3ds.

Geeky Moms: My teenage boy is so hard to buy for but he does have all the game systems. What game should I definitely buy for him this Christmas?

Jonah, Gorilla Games: If he’s a PC gamer/MMO player, you should let him take a shot at Star Wars the Old Republic which releases on December 20th. So far this year, every kid seems to be asking for one of two games; Skyrim or Modern Warfare 3. Both games are available on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. If swords, sorcery, and FPS are not his thing, the sports games of 2011 are the best class we’ve seen since 2005. Madden, NHL, and NBA 2k12 are at the top of their game.

Geeky Moms: Are there any new fantastic games for Mom this season?

Jonah, Gorilla Games: The most awesome geeky moms will be playing Skyrim A lot of moms I meet are still big fans of action platforming games similar to Mario and Crash Bandicoot. If you own a 3DS, you can’t go wrong with Super Mario 3D Land. Don’t expect anything new or groundbreaking, but it totally delivers the classic Mario experience. On the PS3, Ratchet and Clank is as good as it gets for platforming. The newest release, Ratchet and Clank All 4 One keeps the franchise tradition of utterly shaming every other platforming game of this era. For the fitness moms there is Zumba Fitness 2, Just Dance 3, and Dance Central 2.

Geeky Moms: What about for the little ones? My 4-7 year old kids love gaming on the Wii, but they need a game that is fun and keeps their attention.

Jonah, Gorilla Games: The most innovative children’s game release in years, hit shelves about a month ago, Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure. It’s available on all platforms and its completely awesome. The game includes a few Spyro action figures, a portal of power, and the game software. By placing your figure on the portal the character is uploaded into the game. Each character is unique with its own powers and skills. All the information is stored on the figure itself and the figures are compatible across all platforms, a sweet mixture toys and video games. This is the must have game for kids in that age group. Its not the only one though. Mario 3d Land and Mario Kart will both be available on 3DS. The other big kids release is Disney Universe a fun exploration of Disney worlds and adventures with characters that progress. What I love about these games is they’re all playable by 2-4 players. 2 player limit on Spyro, but up to 4 on the others.

Geeky Moms: The geeky men in my life are on top of any new game that comes out, so I have to be more creative in my gifts. Any ideas on awesome gaming hardware that they would love?

Jonah, Gorilla Games: If you really want to spoil the gamer in your life check out the G155 Mobile Gaming Environment. I want one and I don’t need it even a little bit. It’s a hard shell briefcase contained gaming unit with a built-in LED HD monitor. All you have to supply is the console, the game and electricity. Plug it in anywhere and you’re gaming in beautiful HD. If your husband is an Xbox 360 player I’d encourage any mom to check out the custom controllers available at Gorilla Games. You can design your own controller and we build it for you!

Geeky Moms: What do you think the the top game is for each console this season?

Jonah, Gorilla Games: Xbox 360 – Gears of War 3 is the best console exclusive title money can buy on the 360.

Playstation 3 – Uncharted 3 is the definitive PS3 experience. If you own a PS3 and don’t/haven’t played Uncharted 2/3 – shame on you!

Wii – Zelda Skyward sword is all you need!

Nintendo 3DS – Mario 3d land or Mario Kart 7

PC – The Witcher 2 or Star Wars the Old Republic

Geeky Moms: If you were to get only one present this year, what would it be?

Jonah, Gorilla Games – Oooh man, just one? I would want the Darth Vader bread imprinting toaster from http://www.thinkgeek.com.darthvadertoast

Spoken like a true geek! 

Thanks again Jonah for your time and expertise.   Check out Gorilla Games on Facebook for more gaming updates..

The New Age Soap Opera: Reality Web

Let’s see what’s going on in my world this morning. Lucy’s sick and was up all night over a toilet.  Bummer!  Violet is excited to do some shopping today.  You Go Girl!  One of my old friends is requesting to be friends.  (dramatic music.)  fight-club

I can see all of these events, masked in costumes and dramatics, as a reflection of a 20th century soap opera. Suddenly, it dawns on me.  The fall of the daytime tv soap operas is far more than just people’s choice for Reality TV.  Reality Web is your new form of entertainment.  Its your own social network or community giving you constant updates to their lives.  With the help of online media, journals, and time-based updates, Reality Web is your real life drama playing out right before your eyes.

My favorite part about daytime soap operas are the familiarity with the characters.  They grow old with you.  Sometimes super fast aging, but that’s besides the point.

The characters experienced their own ups and downs which sometimes reflected your own life. This interpersonal bond is what makes soap operas addicting.  The same holds true for social networks, with an added bonus:  you care about everyone on your list.  Even if you aren’t exactly fond of them, or they are just acquaintance, you at least have some interest in their life or else you would have de-friended them years ago.

With the advent of my driver’s license, I was able to go home for lunch during my senior year.  Coincidently, my soap opera started during my lunch.  This is pre-dvr age.  If you didn’t have a VHS available, you would just have to read about it in tomorrow’s newspaper.  Harsh reality of the 1990s.

The idea that your drama was available at the very same moment every day is comforting.  Its a routine you use to Zen through your day.  Reality Web thus holds the same power, yet it is instantaneous.  Hundreds of devices now give you the comforting knowledge that your world is only a click away.

You decide your own level of involvement. Tyler Durden, Fight Club  Tyler lived a life of drama and made and sold soap out of lipsuction left-overs.  Btw,  Brad Pitt got his start on Another World. 

I would take a long break from my soap and then come back.  The characters remained mostly the same, with some significant changes, but usually a friend could completely catch you up with back story.The idea that I could even take a break, just to live an actual life away from the tv, but still come back for entertainment kept me on this cycle. 

With advances in internet technology, I completed stopped the cycle and switched to Reality Web.  I still get a small soap update from a friend every now and then, but its always out of jest and humor.  They could never resolve any problems.  It took weeks to find some sort of resolution.  At least in Reality Web, everyone ends up with a happy ending.  Most of my facebook friends, including myself, have perfect abs, a yacht and an amazingly joyful life. (Dramatic Music.)

Raising Gamers

world-of-warcraft-logo My teenage son went through a short phase (although it seemed to last forever) of gaming for long hours, avoiding showers for days, taking his food back to his room, and avoiding contact with us at much as possible.  Yes, he was in the throws of World of Warcraft, and the sudden emersion into this multiplayer fun-fest took him off his feet.  I could hear him laughing at all hours of the night, even though he would insist the next day that he was in bed by 10 p.m. 

My nagging for him to stop playing felt quite similar to the nag I used to give my husband when he was in the throws of yet another MMORPG.  I stopped nagging my husband years ago, when I realized that all that energy could be put into my own quality time.  If he was so involved in this hobby of his, then I decided to focus on my own hobbies and build my own life.  This is probably the most healthy approach for any relationship, although your marriage tends to grow in different directions. 

Yet, the focus away from the nagging worked.  I made sure to appreciate the times they did spend with me, and realized that they will grow tired of the newness of their current game, and will come back to the ‘real’ world.  My husband realized one day that he was missing a lot of my life, and didn’t really like the fact that I didn’t nag at him anymore.  The nagging meant he had some control over my feelings.  With that power gone, he couldn’t wait to get it back!  The entire experience evolved into a great lesson for me.  My happiness was no longer bound to what the people in my life said or did.  My happiness was under my control.

 

With this lesson being learned, I decided not to nag at my teenager, but use a different approach.  As a growing boy, I didn’t want him to subject himself to living a life of reclusion at a computer.  The thought of him growing into one of those pale, smelly gamers who only comes up from the basement briefly, was not a nice picture.  Here are some methods I used to help him transition out of this period nicely:

1.  He has to feed himself. I would not serve him food while he was playing.  If he couldn’t eat dinner at the same time as us, he would have to come up and heat up his own food.

2.  Emailed or texted him notes of appreciation or love.

3.  Watched him play.  There were times that I would go into his room, sit back on his bed, and chill out.  I tried to maintain a good conversation, but there were times where he was so far gone into a raid, that he would barely say anything.  But, even so, I enjoyed bothering him.

4.  Encouraged him to attend family outings.  Sometimes, I MADE him to do this, which involved threatening WoW account closure.

5.  Chore completion for monthly subscription fees.  I will admit I balked on this sometimes, as I’m not very good at insisting on chores.  As time wore on, I did get better and more of a stickler on this.

6.  Family vacations to the outdoors.  There is no better way to get your kids attention, than by taking them away from technology.  Camping is especially a great way to get them involved with the family. 

7.  Make it clear they know where you stand.  I told my son specifically that playing games exclusively in life will not bring him fulfillment.  I also told him that he would grow out of it, and when he does I’ll still be there, but in the meantime he still needs to be responsible for taking care of himself.  Bathing, eating and sleeping are basic life necessities.  If his gaming interrupts those, then he should take a break.

Overall, he listened.  He has since passed the obsessive gaming, and is more active in our family life.  He still uses his computer and phone a lot, but it has been a more positive experience than negative.  He has grown to be an amazing teenager, and I even think WoW helped him grow out of his cocoon.  He met some great friends during that time period, friends that he’ll probably know at least ‘virtually’ his entire life.

The great news is that I didn’t freak out about the whole thing.  I was able to continue living and raising him as I wanted.  Nagging has lost its luster for good.

Why You Should Fandango

fandangoThe summer blockbuster season is in full force, and you happily gather up your family for a movie outing.  Captain America has just released, and everyone is dressed up and ready to go.  All smiles and laughs until you get to the theater and realize the entire city had the same idea as you! 

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I “Lost” My Phone!

lostphone5:00 pm on a Friday afternoon is a great feeling.  Especially when you have a weekend of fun activities planned!  Most of all, the feeling of sleeping in until at least 10 am is priceless. 

In the excitement of leaving my office and transporting a fixed computer, I lost my phone.  I realized about 30 minutes into my Friday night that my phone was either in my friend’s car, in my car, or lost on a sidewalk somewhere.  The feelings of abandonment overcame me, and suddenly I felt naked.  No phone!  What will I do without it?  I couldn’t call my friend to ask her to look in her car, and even worse I didn’t know her number by heart as its stored in my phone. 

Fortunately, my Android phone is set to sync my Gmail contacts.  I had stopped by another friends house to visit on the way home, so I hopped onto her computer and logged into my Gmail.  I quickly sent a Gmail text to my hubby so he would know that I am barren and contactless while I visited my friend.  Then, I wrote down my friend’s number, and (gasp) used a LAN line phone to call her!   After a few phone calls back and forth, she gave me the bad news that it wasn’t in her car. 

An hour or so passed, and the thought of my hubby not being able to get in touch with me kept creeping up on me.  I decided I better go home and check on everyone, before I went back to visit for my Friday festivities.  Of course, everyone was fine at the house, in fact, they hadn’t even tried to message me.  I was very tempted to take my hubby’s phone with me when I went out again, but I realized it would be pointless for him to not have any sort of phone at our house.  (We turned off our LAN line years ago.) 

So, I lived without it.  I realized the phone was probably still sitting at my desk in my office.  No biggie.  I thought about going to check on it, but the thought of going into the office on the weekend, wasn’t very tempting. 

As the weekend progressed, I felt ‘free.’  Free from worrying where I put it, checking to see if I got any messages, playing a random game here and there, maintaining its charge, etc.  I didn’t call anyone on my husband’s phone either.  I embraced the feeling of being without it.  I played with the kids outside.  I worked in the garden without music plugged into my ears via my Pandora app.  If someone wanted to talk to me, they would have to physically come to my house, or get in touch with my hubby.  (He is now my newly appointed secretary!)

The freedom from this experience taught me how dependent to our phones we have become.  Remember the days when…you left the house and didn’t worry about carrying so much technology?  When you could truly be unreachable for a period of time, and no one worried about you?  When you could drive across the country without a cell phone, only to stop at a payphone a couple times on the journey just to tell your Mom & Dad that you were ok?  When you didn’t text everyone that you knew, just random forwards or one word blurbs, but actually spoke with them days later?

We’ve become so over connected.  I urge everyone to take a ‘phone fast’ for a weekend.  Plan it in advance so your loved ones are aware that they need to come by your house if they want to talk to you.  The experience is eye-opening and will open up your life to a weekend of intense relaxation!

Oh, btw, the phone was happily sitting next to my office keyboard on Monday morning.  It looked relaxed and glad to have had a break too.

Battle of the Giants: Google versus Facebook

Facebook-Places-vs-Google-Places-300x225 On Thursday, Facebook admitted to hiring a PR firm to work on an anti-Google marketing campaign.  They admitted to influencing journalists and bloggers to write negative articles about Google’s privacy practices. Facebook insists they weren’t trying to implement a ‘smear’ campaign, but rather wanted to make the public aware of people’s dissatisfaction with Google’s collection of Facebook account information.

The entire situation shines light on their rivalry and shows how much the Internet world has changed in the past 5 years.  Microsoft has recently cultivated a firmer partnership with Facebook.  YouTube went to Google.  Yahoo and Geocities dominated the web hosting and search engine world by the end of the 90s.  Now, its running close to its end-of-life.  As we look into the future, the question remains:  will competition rule out or will one giant remain standing?

A Google World

When Google began to take over the search engine market, it was one static page with a simple search box.  Now, you can get lost for hours in their endless stream of ‘beta’ products.  Google voice, Google Talk, Google apps. . . the list of products Google supplies is limitless.  In 1999, all of your applications were Microsoft Office, with a pop3 account integrated into your email program, and a simple Internet Explorer browser.  Here in 2011, you can host all your documents online, with Google if you prefer, chat with your friends, email them, and use Google chrome for your browsing pleasure.  They have truly became the leader in the world for Internet technology. 

As much as they dominate through a multiple of technologies, they lack in their social networking and seamless integration between applications. 

And Then There Was Facebook

Facebook took everyone by surprise.  When the average baby bloomer started signing up by the droves, Facebook became an unstoppable force in the Internet world.  As they move forward with third-party gaming and applications, virtual currencies, and advertising, it is apparent that the world of social networking will never go away.  They’ve spotlighted what it means to be ‘private’ and even inspired us to stop being so afraid of showing the world who you really are. 

Their simple social networking browsing experience has outshined all the other social network platforms.  While they have elevated in this arena, they are lacking in other technologies.  Facebook is marketed for your personal life and entertainment.

Who Will Win?

People use both Google and Facebook services simultaneously.  As the competition heats up, the question remains:  If left with a choice, which would you choose; Google or Facebook?  Share your thoughts in our discussion group.

The Rebooting Myth

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When you have called into a Help Desk or into Computer Support and been told to reboot your computer, what is the first thing that comes to mind? “I just got blown off!” or, “What do they think I am, an idiot?” I know it seems that way. But be honest, how many times did the reboot work when trying to fix your issue? The answer is a good portion
of the time. The rebooting myth is that support just wants to get off the call.

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How to Add Email Accounts to Your Gmail Email

imageGoogle’s email service, Gmail, offers chat, calendar sharing, and a hefty inbox.  All of this is free!  Another great feature of Gmail is the ability to manage multiple email addresses under one account.  You can add all of your email addresses to your Gmail account and reduce the number of places you log into down to one.  It even gives you he ability to respond to an email from one designated account, or make it dependent upon which email address  the email was sent to. 

Here’s how:

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The Egyptian Solution

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Geeky Moms asked guest contributor Jeremiah Dyess to comment on the current situation in Egypt.  Egypt has been under intense revolting for over two weeks.  The Egyptian government shut down the Internet to help control the revolution.  It is remarkable that the Internet has become such a powerful force in how world governments are led.  The people get the government which they deserve or demand. 

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