What Is That?

Feast your eyes on this device, my friends.  What can it be?  Even I had trouble identifying it, until I was let in on the secret.  And of course then I ran down a hallway yelling “Whyyyy….?” 

WIT212

Drop in some comments, there might be a cookie in for the first correct guess 🙂

Expert Expectations – Colin McRae: DiRT 2

Racing games. You either love ’em or hate ’em. I’m one of those people who loves them. But only if they are done right. There is nothing more annoying than a racing game that portrays beautiful cars travelling at high speed without any illusion of speed! Or the beautifully rendered car handles more like a racing yacht than a vehicle!

DiRTy Details

Codemasters released the first version of DiRT over a year ago and manauged to surprise everyone. They actually made a few mistakes with the game, but over all they came up with a well rounded winner.

One of the down sides of DiRT was the fact that it had a pretty arcadish feel to it. That seriously impacted my experience negatively at first, but once I was able to take a breath and get over it I found a beautiful looking game with a lot of simple fun behind it.

Another thing that DiRT fell short on, as a lot of reviewers agreed, was the lack of a good multiplayer component. Quite frankly I’m not sure why you would even attempt to release a competitive racing game with out a solid multiplayer component! But Codemasters did exactly that and ended up getting a lot of negative attention as a result. Silly programmers…

So what about DiRT 2?

DiRT2 Muddiness
DiRT2 Muddiness

Codemasters is bragging that they have beefed up the graphical engine from DiRT, which incidentally wasn’t one of DiRT’s weak areas at all.
Secondly there is supposed to be a beefed up physics engine. Can’t complain about that! DiRT had a pretty good physics engine but at times it just didn’t feel right. Here’s hoping they can put more than a bandage on that bleeding wound.
They’ve also stated that they are looking at an improved online gaming component, so maybe they learned something from the scathing reviews on the last go-round.
Additionally there will be the normal round of new cars and tracks for everyone… As anyone would reasonably expect.

The official word from Codemasters is located here: Clickity-Click

Stay tuned for more information on DiRT2… It’s definitely something we’ll keep in our scope.

Santa Gets Intel on your Friends and Family

 iamstnick

Yeah you heard me, Santa is lending himself out as a force recon operative, so you can get some valuable intel on your friends and family.  Bounce on over to IamStNick.com, plug in your targets phone number and your e-mail.  Then an automated service will call the target number and play a premade message asking them for their wishlist.  After the recording is made, you receive an email from the website with your targets wishlist!

Sounds pretty nifty to me!  Go try it out…I know I will 🙂

Scientists Solve Evolutionary Puzzle on how the Turtle Got its Shell

Ancient turtle

Scientists believe they have cracked a long-standing mystery of evolution – how the turtle got its shell.

It follows the discovery in south west China last year of the oldest known turtle fossils, believed to date back 220 million years.

The three adult specimens were discovered remarkably intact and with characteristics never before seen in turtles – including teeth and an incomplete upper shell.

The Daily Mail has details.

Supercombo Hits One Out Of The Park!

supercomboZ 

Say hello to Supercombo, a UK startup that sells high quality shirts specifically designed for the nerd in you!  I contacted them a few weeks ago to see about reviewing some of their products, and was received very well.  Check out this quote from their website:

Supercombo is the brainchild of two like minded geeks (Pete and Olly) who both enjoy illustration. We sell unique, high quality clothing inspired by our love of videogames, anime and general nerdyness.

Sounds like guys after my own heart!  After a few e-mail exchanges, and a short wait, I was in possession of some shirts, flyers and stickers for review 🙂  Check out these images:

dattebayoteeTrip 010zz

  trifarce Trip 016

Now I’m a gamer, so I recognized the Zelda triforce design on the green shirt right away.  The other shirt I was actually clueless as to it’s Naruto origin until one of my models (who is a virtual font of anime information) posed for the pictures, and pointed out what the words meant.  Dattebayo!  Regardless, both are of fine, well crafted material with the designs perfectly proportioned to the shirt area.  I was impressed with the ingenuity of the designs, and received many direct remarks from people that happened to be walking by that they liked the shirts and how easy they were on the eyes.  Certainly a positive remark in Pete and Olly’s favor!

Here’s a couple of other things sent along in the package – a few flyers, no doubt used to promote Supercombo at various locations, and a handful of round stickers (pictured below).

sccombopack  scstickers

In all, a unique experience in reviewing this material, but a rewarding one as well.  These guys have a good product, and will no doubt gain momentum as they add to their repertoire.  Be sure to visit their website and check out their other unique designs!

At Long Last, It’s Finally Coming… Armed Assault II

ArmA2_RescueOp

Editor’s Comment: Dan Van Nattan is a new contributing writer for Geeknews, this is his first article for us and we’re looking forward to seeing this collaborative effort grow.

The name itself certainly does not ring out with any cleverness or ingenuity. But anyone familiar with the first Armed Assault game will know that there’s nothing lightweight or lackluster about the sequel. It might help the knowledgeable reader to know that Armed Assault (ArmA) was the sequel to Operation Flashpoint, one of the great military simulations of the last 10 years.

Now we’re staring straight down the barrel of ArmA2. Riding on the success of ArmA, this sequel needs to make sure that it doesn’t fall short in the same areas it’s predecessor did. To bring everyone up to speed on what those previous failings were, I’ve compiled a short list of things that most reviewers agreed on when writing their articles about ArmA.

  • BAD Squad control UI
  • Terrible vehicle control
  • Poorly varied missions
  • Very high difficulty and brutally hard missions
  • Poor AI
  • Game controls were complex and clumsy
  • Several annoying graphical bugs and glitches
  • Simulation paced gameplay not to everyone’s tastes

Now obviously some of these aren’t massive gameplay issues, but all the issues combined were definitely a drag on the experience!

There were some major things that ArmA did very right. One of those was incorporating MASSIVE maps and play area. Unlike Joint Operations the play area of the maps was an enormous, highly detailed, usable area!

Another excellent factor in ArmA’s success was the very detailed weapon physics. Bullet-drop over distance was rendered very well. Weapon firing kick was also a factor you had to consider when trying to spray lead at the enemy. Some players found these aspects quite frustrating, but those of us who had grown tired of being sniped with pistols from extreme range were delighted with the change!

Having improved hugely over Operation Flashpoint, I think that Bohemia Interactive will be quite capable of improving ArmA2 over and above ArmA. If they can just address the problems listed above, they’ll not only end up with a best seller again, but they could easily end up witha game that raises a very high, new standard for other developers. With all the “arcadism” that seems to get dumped into every combat game on the planet, I can say that realism would be a welcome change in this genre!

All these things being taken into consideration, I leave you with ArmA2. Make your own assumptions based on what you see.

Bohemia Interactive: Official Website

Watch this site for more information about ArmA2 in the future.

ArmA2_RazorTeam ArmA2_Ingame-35

After Suicide Streamed On ‘Net, Should ‘Duty to Rescue’ Law Be Enforced?

Internet

Several days ago Abraham Biggs, 19 years old, took a cocktail of medications after he had chatted online about killing himself for most of the day during a video conversation with strangers. He died. While some of the folks in the forum pleaded with him to get help, some of them urge him on, laughing at him, calling him “faggot” and “coward.”.

Now the police are looking at the role played by the site, Justin.tv that hosted the video and BodyBuilding.net that hosted the chat bulletin board and whether the moderators and discussion board members acted inappropriately. Apparently one of the moderators at BodyBuilding.net called him an attention whore which certainly could be interpreted as contributing to the delays in trying to get this kid help.

One of the threads Abraham started discussing his suicide was on BodyBuilding.net, on this thread (“I’m gonna have 40 2mg bars of Xanax Tonight!“) he uses the alias CandyJunkie, and starts soliciting people to watch him online.

In my opinion, the streaming provider may not be culpable, but I’d need to see more details on when they learned of the event and the actions taken or not taken. Bodybuilding.net on the other hand appears to be more at risk here to legal action from the family. Also, I suspect any individuals that may have spurred this event along can or should be held accountable under the “duty to rescue” laws (note: i’m no experts in Torts law, there appears to be wiggle room in the interpretation of this).

An Epic Story Told Through Verse

uniman

A while ago, Andy asked me to review a book, The Unicorn Man, a collection of stark poetry and short stories with a skewed view toward the (supposed) coming apocalyptic end in 2012.

To be honest, not my bag of tea.  But, in order to give it a fair shake, I read through the book with a feeling of trepidation, and a cocked eyebrow to the intense nature of the authors’ focus on the prevalent darkness forever omnipresent in man.  Unless your state of mind closely follows the author, don’t expect this to be an easy read.  I found it difficult to keep a constant train of thought throughout the read, and had to break it up into several pieces, allowing myself to absorb what I’d read before continuing on.  Despite the content, I actually did enjoy Vox Anon’s writing style; it will be a bumpy ride in the beginning, but after figuring out what’s going on, its easier to follow.

So, first you follow the protagonist through three short stories – first as he has to deal with the spontaneous growth of a unicorn-like horn from his forehead, and the trials he has to deal with in trying to have it removed, and then finally realizing what significance it may bring into his life and society around him.  The second reads like a mythical tale following the conventional idealisms of a fairy tale unicorn and his tenuous relationship with a beautiful princess.  And finally, the third tale is a journal of the unicorn man in the future that describes his actions and events leading up the final moments before the end.  In all, very well written, provided you can follow the rhythm and intent of the tales.  In my opinion, the author uses these as a springboard to launch the reader into the fantastic worlds of grotesque and suicidal situations of the poems that follow.

Definitely the poems are the product of a mind entirely sunk into a dark process that has been bent by an imagination that I had seen very seldom to date.  Get ready for a journey through the mind of a person that holds nothing back!  Also of note are the last few dozen pages full of mystical collages of images ranging from the simple, to ultra-confusion with the unicorn as the main theme.  Truly a glimpse into the mind of a person with a lot of time to contemplate the future as he sees it.

Grab your copy at Amazon.com!

News Links That Matter – 11/18/08

Pocket Protector

Just Geeky:

New Visa Card, Generates Random Security Codes [Switched] – In response to popular concerns with online credit card fraud, Visa Europe has announced a newly designed credit card, complete with a keypad and digital number display, according to the Daily Mail.

Ubuntu to run on ARM-based netbooks [ZDNet] – Canonical has announced it will be developing a version of its Ubuntu Linux desktop operating system specifically for ARM’s Cortex-A8 and Cortex-A9 processor architectures.

Science

Science:

Doctors hoping for new era of artificial ankles [Physorg] – What was left of Dan Sivia’s ankle simply didn’t work. He limped through his 30s by sheer force of will, one foot almost completely immobile from repeated broken bones and surgeries. Then a doctor offered his last hope: An ankle replacement. A what? Sivia knew about hip, knee, even shoulder replacements. But ankles?

‘Jelly balls’ may slow global warming [Sydney Morning Herald] – VAST numbers of marine “jelly balls” now appearing off the Australian east coast could be part of the planet’s mechanism for combating global warming.

Detecting Disease In Less Than 60 Seconds [Science Daily] – Chemists and immunologists devised a new rapid system for detecting and identifying viruses. It uses surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy to measure the frequency of near-infrared laser light as it scatters off viral DNA and RNA. After a swab of a person’s nasal passage, the technique can detect individual virus particles quickly and identify many types.

Games

Just For Fun:

Marvel is Developing Animated Thor Series [SuperHeroHype] – Marvel Animation is developing and self-producing a 26 half-hour episode series based on its long-running comic book “Thor,” with the series targeted to launch in fall 2010, following Marvel’s live-action feature Thor , which hits theaters on July 16, 2010.

Lego Batman Demo Impressions [The Download Munkey] – An enjoyable romp through a bright and shiny Lego (Legoized / Legofied ?) Gotham City with excellently animated Lego minifigs of familiar characters from DC Comics’s Batman universe.

Pocket PC

Gadgets:

Asus to Launch World’s ‘Fastest’ Smartphone [PCWorld] – Asus is calling its new P565 smartphone the “fastest business PDA phone in the world.”

Lunar Baby Thermometer [Forever Geek] –  A simple temperature checking device for the mother or father, aunt or uncle; whoever’s doing the placing of the hand on the head. Check the child’s temperature without uncomfortable placing of glass sticks in places of discontent.

Christmas Gifts For Geeks – 11/18/08

Wild Wild West DVDs

We have another gift idea, in fact if the wife is reading this maybe I’ll be lucky enough to receive it! 🙂

A few weeks ago on Nov 4 2008, The Wild Wild West TV Series on DVD was released as a complete series in a single package and Amazon has it on sale for $90. That’s all four seasons on 27 disks / 104 episodes, including the 2 television movies with original cast that aired in 1979 and 1980.

The Wild Wild West TV series aired on CBS from 1965-69. If you’re not familiar with it, it can be described as “James Bond on horseback”. The show incorporated classic Western elements with an espionage thriller, as well as science fiction/alternate history ideas and plenty of comedy.

James West and Artemus Gordon are two agents of President Grant who take their splendidly appointed private train through the west to fight evil. Half science fiction and half western, Artemus designs a series of interesting gadgets for James that would make Inspector Gadget proud. A light hearted adventure series that is still a fan favorite today.

New Nano Coating Boosts Solar Efficiency

Green Earth

Researches from the Future Chips Constellation have developed an anti-reflective film for solar panels to take efficiency from 67% today up to 96% within a few years. The film is made of seven layers of silicon dioxide and titanium dioxide nanorods positioned at an oblique angle. These nanorods effectively bend the light down towards the next layer, each one taking its part to reduce the solar loss of ultraviolet, infrared and visible light.

Highlights from the CNN article:

  • Scientists create a new coating that could make solar panels more efficient
  • The coating boost sunlight-absorption rates from 67.4 to 96.21 percent
  • The seven-layer, anti-reflective coating also captures sunlight from all angles
  • Researchers hope to have the product on the market within two to three years

The World Has Never Seen Such Freezing Heat

Global Warming

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) announced that last month was the hottest October on record. At the same time in October, countries from America to China to New Zealand and more have reported over a hundred record low temperatures and snow storms aplenty. Is it a cock-up at GISS? Yes, and it appears their data collection assumptions that were also used by the UN and Al Gore have been exposed with a significant flaw they failed to previously report.

From the Telegraph:

GISS’s computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all.

A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission

Stan Lee Producing Gay Superhero Project

Variety is reporting that Showtime is developing a project from comic god Stan Lee that tracks the life of a gay superhero. The story is based on Peter Moore’s book ‘Hero‘.

To get a sneak peek at the storyline, here’s a synopsis of the book:

The protagonist is Thom Creed, a teen coming to terms with his sexual orientation. In an attempt to break away from his seemingly non-understanding father (an ex-hero with something to hide) and homophobic community, Thom runs away from home, only to find himself in the middle of a multi-hero rescue operation.

Using his ability to heal, he keeps an injured woman alive until the League superheroes arrive and impresses them enough to get an invitation to try out for a hero apprentice position. Thom is teamed with an old woman who can see into the future, a spiteful girl who unleashes her power through fire, a sickly boy who is able to inflict disease on anyone, and a demoted hero with insane speed.

Batman Kissing Robin

This pic is a t-shirt of Batman Kissing Robin.

[Picture is courtesy of wili hybrid via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0]

More Geeky Christmas Gifts

Interactive EVE   Interactive Wall-E  Interaction Eve, talk to her, watch her light up with expressive features, and works best when communicating with Interaction Wall-E (sold separately). Eve is available on Amazon for US$30, and her interactive companion Wall-E is US$45. 

 

Wall climbing RC The first wall climbing car. This gravity defying Super Climber Remote Control Mini Car climbs wall, for real. It drives anywhere – Floors, Walls or Upside Down! This RC car comes with working headlights and tail lights, and an infrared remote controller which allows the car to move forward, reverse, left and right. It’s only US9 .

 

Book of games The Book of Games Volume 2: The Ultimate Reference on PC & Video Games (Book of Games series)6 this is a good value .

It’s 448 pages of game geek reference, at US$16 this is a good value if you’re tightening the belt this Christmas.

This second volume is a compendium of video game synopses as well as a feast for the eyes with literally thousands of vivid, high-resolution screen shots; it provides a comprehensive visual tour through the world of PC and video gaming. Sorted by genre, more than 100 of the latest, most exciting software titles are reviewed with information of interest to players, parents, and industry professionals.

Behind the Koi Pond Craze

Koi Pond

Koi Pond is the hottest app in the Apple App Store and has been leading in downloads for quite a while (download here). If you’re not familiar with this app by Blimp Pilots, it serves no function other than to turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a virtual fish pond. You can view it in action below.

It’s been an amazing and puzzling phenomenon and Macworld interviews the developer for Koi Pond to learn why this thing is doing so well.

Military Bans YouTube, Launches TroopTube

Military

Last year the military banned service personnel from posting videos to Youtube. Apparently some not so nice things or classified things were on full display for the public. And as we all know by now, the public is not to be trusted. Hey, I don’t trust you, why would the military?

In any case, today the troops have their own video hosting web service, TroopTube: http://www.trooptube.tv/.

Not too many videos are up yet, I’m looking forward to some Submarine vids, in the meantime here’s one from a pair of wives with a shoutout to their men in 3rd Brigade 133 Cavalry.

(MSNBC) The U.S. military, with help from Seattle startup Delve Networks, has launched a video-sharing Web site for troops, their families and supporters, a year and a half after restricting access to YouTube and other video sites.