Archive for the 'General Geek' Category

San Diego Comic-Con 2011

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Comic-Con is a silly place.

I’ve noticed a few reports saying how it’s “ruined” etc. I only attended one day this year but still had a lot of fun. Was it the same from when I first started attending? No, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it.

Also, as I was asking a guy if I could take his picture, he then recognized me… it was one of my fencing teammates from college! He was in a Battlestar Galactica outfit so I had been focused on his suit rather than his face, haha.

ComicCon to me is still about meeting other geeks, whether those geeks happen to be creators of geeky content, or just attendees. As the show has grown over the years it’s certainly experienced growing pains, but a geek can still find one’s own small community within the larger one.

Here are my photos from Sunday. They include a range from Cos-play participants to Felicia Day, to an independent artist who was making his first appearance at ComicCon, to Yo Gabba Gabba.

Wii Exercise Games – 3 Fitness Games Reviewed and Compared

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

I’m a video game fitness nut I guess. I own “Wii Fit”, “My Fitness Coach” and most recently got “EA Sports Active” (it was on sale) about two months ago.

I thought I’d do a comparison review of the games as I’ve experienced them so far. I’ve owned “Wii Fit” the longest and you can see my preliminary review of “Wii Fit” here.

First off the games are quite different from each other. “Wii Fit” is the game which comes with the Balance Board and started the whole “fitness game” craze. It separates exercises into a few categories, Yoga, Strength Training, Aerobics and Balance Games. The Balance Board is used for most of these but sometimes you just use the Wiimote and nunchuk.

“My Fitness Coach” on the other hand does not use the Balance Board at all, it is structured as an exercise program, no “sports game” element is included and it flows more like a regular workout with an instructor. It does however adjust exercises to what external equipment you might have (or want to do) on a given workout. For example, you can tell it you have one, all or none of the following: hand weights, an exercise ball and a step platform. Workouts are not separated except that you can choose a Yoga workout or a “regular workout” for a regular workout you can choose an emphasis such as aerobics, core strength, upper body strength, etc or you can let the game choose it for you based on your overall goals you set up in your profile which guides all of your workouts. The game also has you do a challenge test every so often in which you need to weigh yourself, take measurements and do exercises to failure. I found this game to be the closest to a workout DVD in the sense that everything just flows so I feel it was the best for aerobic workouts. It also seems to have the biggest variety of exercises. However, whenever a new exercise is introduced you have the option of hitting a button and the trainer will show you how to do the moves before continuing on with the program. Another big plus is that after certain sections your trainer will ask you how that section felt and adjust it accordingly for next time. For example if you answer that it was a piece of cake she’ll make it harder, or conversely if you could barely keep up she might step it down. I really like this aspect of the game.

“EA Sports Active” is the newest game I’ve tried but I’ve had it for over a month now. It is the most ambitious in terms of integrating your movements into the Wii. A balance board is an option and it will ask each workout if you have one (or verify that you still do) but inside the “EA Sports Active” box a resistance band and a strap to hold the nunchuk are included. “EA Sports Active” also incorporates different sports such as boxing and an inline skate simulation (which is not like real skating at all but makes for a fun game). I find the resistance band to add nicely to exercises though depending on your height and existing strength you may want to buy your own. The straps that are intended to be used with the resistance band will work with other bands. One thing I noticed about the game though is that you must hold the wiimote and nunchuk exactly as pictured. I had trouble getting the game to recognize that I had lowered my arms on the second half of a bicep curl/shoulder raise drill and then realized it was because I didn’t quite have my nunchuk held the way the digital trainer had hers. I’ve also found that the nunchuk cord occasionally gets in the way but I can just hold the extra length. Another option folks seem to use is to buy a wireless nunchuk.

My Opinion
I think each of these games has its place. I’d go with “Wii Fit” to get the Balance Board and as an introduction to video game fitness. I liked learning Yoga poses with the “Wii Fit” as one is able to choose a front or back view of the instructor so it makes it easier to compare your pose to his/hers, also I liked that you got additional feedback when you used the balance board, for example, in standing tree pose you stand on the balance board and it shows you a dot for your center of balance and a larger pale yellow target area. The downside of “Wii Fit” is that after each exercise or game you must hit the A button to continue, which really breaks up a workout. Also if you just want to play games, for example you and a friend want to do the ski slalom game and compare scores, there isn’t a fast way to switch Miis. You have to exit back to the start screen to load up your Mii then go back to the slalom game. Of course you could just use the same Mii, but then the top scores wouldn’t reflect who had won what and you won’t get a workout credit for the appropriate Mii.

After getting “Wii Fit” you’ll want more of a challenge if you really want to get in shape. Your next choice is either “My Fitness Coach” or maybe “EA Sports Active”. To me the basic difference between the workout portion of these two games is in the level of micromanaging it does. “My Fitness Coach” tells you to do things and it’s up to you to make sure you have proper form and that you actually do them, not unlike a DVD. “EA Sports Active” counts reps you do since it uses the Wii accessory sensors and to some extent can tell if you are not using proper form. But then that can get frustrating as evidenced in my example above. Also it seems to break the flow of a workout even on the “Hard” workout option.

One feature in “EA Sports Active” is that you can review what exercises will be coming up in a given workout and check or uncheck them accordingly (for example you see that squats will be included but your knee is bugging you so you uncheck them). That’s a nice option that “My Fitness Coach” doesn’t have (except generally, for example you can choose to do a mainly upper body workout vs a lower body one). However if you do uncheck squats in “EA Sports Active” I noticed it doesn’t replace it with something else and your overall workout results in fewer calories burned.

Both games, “My Fitness Coach” and “EA Sports Active” incorporate a workout journal of sorts, with “EA Sports Active” having the more detailed one as well as a “trophy” section for achieving certain goals.

Buddy or Family Workout
“Wii Fit” as I explained is not set up for simultaneous workouts of different people, though you can have a profile for each member of your family. This applies even if you were have two balance boards, the Wii itself just doesn’t handle two boards at once. “My Fitness Coach” is also set up for one person at a time, though since it is not measuring actual input from you, if you have enough room you and a friend or friends can all follow along with each workout. “EA Sports Active” allows you workout with another person though you will need to buy another set of equipment to do that. I’ve not tried this option so I’m not sure if all of the workouts will work for this or perhaps just some of the sports games.

Conclusion
My opinion of the games is shaped from a background of already being a reasonably active geek girl. I used to regularly go to a gym as well go rockclimbing at least once a week. I’ve since quit the regular gym and have replaced that with my workout games (I still climb and occasionally add more sports/exercise). Because of this I am looking at these games with an eye towards getting stronger and as a means to keep my weight down, but also doing so without potential overuse injury. I also like to fit in a workout when I want. Because this is my goal I find a use for all three of the games – though “Wii Fit” admittedly gets the least amount of use. I mainly use it to weigh myself, take its age test and, very rarely, play the balance games (been doing the ski and snowboard game because of the Winter Olympics lately). I like “My Fitness Coach” and “EA Sports Active” about equally for now, I think I get a better, more rounded workout, with “My Fitness Coach” but sometimes find that “EA Sports Active” has some individually harder exercises. Sometimes I worry that it’s too hard, for example, in some of the games you do a fair amount of high jumping. Also, I haven’t used “My Fitness Coach” with a step platform or balance ball so I’m sure its individual exercises can get harder. I also really enjoy that “My Fitness Coach” seems to pull exercises from a variety of disciplines, like pilates for example. The difficulty of the individual exercises aside, I’ve found that I feel more “worked out” after a “My Fitness Coach” workout of 20 minutes or more than an equivalent length one from “EA Sports Active”.

If you’re coming to these games from a background of not having done exercises since PE class I’d suggest getting “Wii Fit” and just doing that until you get bored. If you’d like to move on from that, or if you feel confident you can do exercises with good form I’d suggest “My Fitness Coach” next. The reason I’d choose that over “EA Sports Active”? I feel that the way that “EA Sports Active” forces you to use the Wiimote and nunchuk can lead to bad form, I think it’s better to do the exercises in good form first before trying to adapt to the game’s limitations.

Finally, if it’s only the games you’re after and not the exercise, I’d go with “Wii Fit” and “EA Sports Active” though for “EA Sports Active” keep in mind that you will need to get through the exercises to unlock more sports. In fact, maybe just skip “EA Sports Active” and go for “Wii Sports Resort” instead. I had a lot of fun with that over Christmas playing my brother’s game.

Whatever you choose, have fun and burn those calories!

Flip MinoHD Review… And Yes, We Haz Them

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Flip MinoHD - Designer print
So a few weeks ago I started offering the Flip Mino in a small, tucked away section of OffLine.

I wrote a review of my test model Flip Mino which I intended to post here as part of a big “reveal” that OffLineTshirts had something very un-t-shirt-like.

And then the Flip MinoHD came out and I ordered one. I then proceeded to play with it instead of writing a review. Perhaps I wanted to keep it all to myself, to be the ONLY one with a truly pocket sized HD camcorder, especially with my rocking Asian Print inspired design on it…

But then I remembered I’m supposed to be a shopkeeper and also sell these things to complete strangers :P

So here we go.

A Flip MinoHD, what is it? It’s a compact camcorder. Like the Flip Mino (non HD) it weighs a mere 3.3 ounces, is small and thin, is dead simple to use, takes great sound, and has a tripod mount. It can also take up to 60 minutes of video and has a rechargeable battery which you charge via the built in USB arm which “flips” out of the camcorder so you can plug it into a Mac or PC. So take all that and add HD to the package and you get a big “Wow!” from me and anyone else looking for an affordable and truly portable device. I’m telling you, when I did my original write up of the Flip Mino I thought to myself, “I’m writing too many good things!” And then I thought, “I know what’s lacking, I wish they had an HD version.”

And now they do. And I do. And so can you. Do.

And because I think I did a good job of writing my review for the Flip Mino, I’m going to paste it here now (and keep in mind that the HD version has even better video quality):

When my Flip arrived I was immediately impressed. First it was because of the nice packaging, then it was because of how nice the print of my design came out (this was my test Mino) then about how light and slim this camcorder is!

When I got around to turning the thing on (I did look at the Quick Start guide but stopped reading after seeing Step 1 was push the power button and step 2 was push the big red Record/Stop Recording button) I was impressed with the video and sound quality. I also liked the screen well enough even though when I first saw pictures of it I worried it would be too small. The fact that the touch sensitive button icons lit up was also a nice surprise.

This thing passes my Treo in video quality, the camera does a good job of adjusting for different light situations. The sound is also excellent, far better than on my phone or even on my point and shoot camera!

The ease of shooting (love that big red button) was a nice change even though I didn’t find it too hard to shoot video with my camera phone, it was one more added step to push to get to video shooting.

I’m going to be talking a lot more about comparing this to a camera phone because I see those as the main competitor for the Flip.

Flip Mino vs Camera Phones

Both are small and portable. The Flip differs though in that it is a mere 3.3 ounces in weight. Much lighter than my Treo 755p at 5.6 ounces and also still lighter than an iPhone at 4.7 ounces. You may not think the difference in the numbers is that great but while the other phones brag that you can put them in your shirt pocket, if you really did so it would drag your pocket down.

In contrast I put this in my knit shirt pocket and forgot it was there (which for a girl is not a good thing as it makes for an, ahem, unusual shape).

I already mentioned video quality, but I’ll say it again here, it wins over my Treo. I don’t own an iPhone but I’d say strictly regarding resolution it is even with that BUT it wins over both in terms of handling low light and changing light situations.

It also beats them in sound quality. I think a big reason for that is that it has a multidirectional microphone that does not have to serve double duty as a phone sound receiver and thus can be positioned more optimally which lets it pick up sound better. The inner workings (which I am not privy to) I’m guessing are also of high quality as audio did not sound tinny or scratchy at all, even when I recorded music played from a car stereo while the car was being driven (I was a passenger).

Another advantage the Flip has over cameraphones is that is has a standard tripod mount, it’s a sturdy metal one as well (though since the Flip is so lightweight, Pure Digital could have easily went the cheaper route and gone with a plastic mount). When I used my cameraphone for video I always had to hold it up, which made for shaky video (and I still suffer from that sometimes) HOWEVER I now have the option of using any number of small lightweight tripod options so I can set up the Flip and leave it to get in the video myself, or just set it up to give my arm (and viewers) a rest from shaky video.

I just gotta say that this little camcorder was a nice surprise.

Sample of HD Video:

Flip Mino HD from Jefferson Graham on Vimeo.

See my Flip MinoHDs here.

52 Lego Bricks Per Person

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Lego has lost its patent but let’s celebrate the Bricks anyway.

Picture set of Lego accomplishments.

Happy Pi Day!

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Buy this shirt (or the hat, etc)
Pi T-shirts

Enjoy this strangely catchy Pi tune (it’s an excerpt from a longer song).

3.1415…

My shirts in Antarctica! OffLine is on all 7 Continents

Friday, February 1st, 2008

I’ve been tracking my shirts over the past few years. I’ve shipped them off to other states, other countries and other continents. But one continent seemed to always elude me. Until now…


Antarctica Shirts

My shirts have successfully made it to Antarctica! OffLine may not be as well known as some of the bigger apparel shops out there (though I should be, get the word out please!) but at least I’m on all 7 continents now!

I’ll admit it though, I cheated, I made sure the shirts got to Antarctica by contacting two brothers who are there. On the other hand, I have sold my Antarctica designs so maybe one of those folks brought their things out to Antarctica without me knowing ;) so I’m still counting this… so there!

Thanks go to Eli and Nate! If you’d like to follow them they are on Twitter as “elisfanclub” and “n8duke”.

If you’d like to hear my audio about this listen to the Utterz:

PS if anyone knows an astronaut going into space soon, I’d like to send them a free shirt :)
Technorati Tags:
, ,

Captain Kidd’s Pirate Ship Found – But Where is the Treasure?

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Captain Kid Shipwreck found

The wreckage of a pirate ship abandoned by Captain Kidd in the 17th century has been found by divers in shallow waters off the Dominican Republic, a research team claims.

Article from LiveScience.

The article says the wreck hasn’t been looted. So, I don’t know about you Matey, but I want to know where the Treasure be! ;)

The First Dot Com the Angels Did Say…

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Hark ye Merry Makers, let us reflect on Dot Coms past…

What was the world’s first .com? … Now were sure many of you think you know and some really do know, but those that think it was think.com better think again, think.com was the third…we think.

The DNS was created in 1984 and in 1985 top level domains were defined. The first top level domains were COM, ORG, EDU, GOV, MIL and ccTLD.

In April 1985 cmu.edu, purdue.edu, rice.edu and ucla.edu were the first registered domain names.

Northrup.com is the first big name I spotted in the Top 100 list, it was registered November 7, 1985. See the full list here.

Book Review: Happiest Days of Our Lives

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

One of the first things to strike you about this book is its physical attributes. And yes, I do include the cover in this proclamation. The cover design shows a photograph with the strange and familiar tinting of photographs taken in the 70s bordered by the title of the book and author’s byline written as if on yellowed paper by a Bic ballpoint pen. When you hold the book itself you may notice its relative thinness and lightness.

What’s inside though is heavy. In a good way.

Wil shares a little over a dozen stories from his life with the reader. If you are a reader of his blog or his other online writing venues you may recognize the cores of one or two of them; however, they have been expanded upon. With Wil, we bounce from the past of the 1970′s to the present, sometimes in the same story. Each tale is artfully yet succinctly told in a style that is very personal. Of note to geek readers are the tales of his introduction to D&D, his fascination with Star Wars figures and stories of reflecting on his Star Trek experiences because of present events in his life such as a documentary and meeting with Ron Moore and Jonathan Frakes again. But all the tales are great reads, geek slant or not. They offer a look into Wil’s life but also make you reflect on your own.

And now we are back to the weight of the book again, in the sense that a light book is generally a short one. And indeed this book is 136 pages in length, compared to a Lord of the Rings tome, that is light. However, in an age of pixel reading, its length makes for a delightfully quick read in whatever spare moments you may spend away from the various monitors in your life and you’ll find yourself spending several minutes after each story dwelling on it. In that sense the book is heavier than it may seem.

Links:
Monolith Press publisher of “Happiest Days of Our Lives”
Full Disclosure, Blog Entry: Wil Wheaton Sent Me His Latest Book: “The Happiest Days of Our Lives”

Wil Wheaton Sent Me His Latest Book: “The Happiest Days of Our Lives”

Friday, November 16th, 2007


I’ve been out of town for a week but the day I left I discovered a nice surprise in my mailbox, a signed copy of “The Happiest Days of Our Lives”!

I’m including a picture of the book and my biz card which started the surprise gift giving. The short story behind this is that when we met on the plane to Vegas he saw my store business card and commented on one of the designs on it “You have increased your alcohol tolerance“. So sometime after the trip I sent him a shirt with the design and an accompanying letter with a reference to traveling back in time before we used email. He then surprised me with a signed copy of his book and a handwritten note (thus one upping me in the Wayback machine).

I said it when I first met him but I’ll say it again. Wil Wheaton is an awesome geek! Thanks Wil!

I’ve just started reading the book (I didn’t take it with me on my trip as I was out in the wilderness and didn’t want to destroy it) but I’m enjoying it immensely.

Link to the quick post I made when I met Wil.

Technorati Tags:
, , ,