Geek Month in Review: September 2010

By JB Sanders

Here it is, the September Geek-a-view:

All things geek-related in September 2010. Well, all the things I thought were cool enough to mention.

Self-replicating Solar Cells
The future of power generation or one of the signs of the Impending Robot Overthrow of Humanity? You decide.

How Good is Your Geek Movie-Fu?
No, not another mindless multiple choice quiz-of-the-week. Not a rabidly obnoxious FaceBook app. Not a quiz at all. Just a seriously great bunch of t-shirts with extraordinarily obscure references to some great movies. Man, wish I was getting a cut from these guys. Note: mouse-over the t-shirt to see where the reference comes from, then smack yourself in the head for not remembering it. Or go “Huh?” because the reference is just THAT obscure.

Duke Nukem’ Forever
The longest running joke in computer game history*, born from one of the best first-person shooters ever made. Ars Technica (a tech site largely without peer) has done a detailed story on the long, twisted tale of a computer game promised since 1997. Let that sink in a moment. 1997. Bill Clinton was just beginning his second term. Pathfinder landed on Mars. Steve Jobs returns to Apple (and Microsoft bought $150M share of Apple). Titanic was on the big screen. That 1997.

* Not as old, but more long-running than the “When is In Nomine coming?” in RPG circles. And In Nomine actually did come out. Eventually.

Hugo Awards
All the year’s best SciFi. Because this stuff is just that cool. Also, Dr Who nominated for an award.

Tractor Beams Coming Closer
To you! Really, scientists have cooked up the precursors in their lab.

A Game So Small….
This java-script game is so small, it fits in 1k. That’s SMALL. Like, play it on your watch small. Play it on the fancy controls for your refrigerator small.

Making Stop Motion Animation With Light
Take an iPad, add some custom software to generate animation frames for you, and then a custom app on the iPad to show the frames as you move around. Result? This.

Pokè-what?
For those of you who remember this particular card-game and cartoon-based craze, this video may amuse you. It may also cause you have seizures. It’s 50/50.

Monsters Close Up
A more detailed review of that giant monsters movie I mentioned last month, only this time with more technical production info. The movie was made for very little money (comparatively), and with mostly off-screen gore.

Las Vegas Death Ray
It’s even the title of the article! Apparently some badly-planned hotel in Vegas has mirror-style windows all curved and fancy. Which is great, only … certain times of the day (and during a specific seasons), the sun hits the building, focuses it and super-heats the pool area in a very Archimedean fashion. As in? “The surface of the building acts like a parabolic reflector, concentrating solar heat into a specific target area.” Yes, Archimedes would be proud.

Social engineering with fake mold
Quick blurb about a sandwich bag (ziploc-style) that makes your home-made sandwich look moldy. How cool is that?

WWI Ends October 3rd — 2010
No, really! Apparently Germany’s debt for starting the war, set by the Allied victors in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, gets it’s last payment October 3rd.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog: http://glenandtyler.blogspot.com