The Geek Month in Review: July 2010

by JB Sanders

So I’ve collected a bunch of stuff together in the form of my commentary on various geeky news stories, reviews, or whatnot. One paragraph of my thoughts, plus a link or two related to it.

This will not always be everything that happened in the month of Geek Relevance. I don’t have the staff for that. Heck, I barely have enough staff to get me coffee! But I promise at least one or two things you haven’t heard about before, because they’re so damned obscure.

Here’s July 2010 in Geekery:

RPG Geek Squee
Monte Cook did a full-on adventure module! If you aren’t familiar with who Monte Cook is, he was one of three people responsible for re-engineering D&D in 1998, D&D 3.0. I would say that D&D 3.0 was probably one of the most successful RPG systems ever created. It combined modern sensibilities with a lot of the flavor of Old School D&D. So he’s one of those folks in the Geek Hall of Fame.

But it doesn’t slice bread (app pending)
Look, everyone who knows me will tell you, I’m a huge Apple fanboy. I got that going on all over the place. But those of you old enough to remember the Jetsons will recall scifi’s promise of the video phone. It was going to be wall-sized or toaster-sized (like the “real” telephones of 1974). It was going to revolutionize everything and everyone was going to have one.

Well, Apple’s iPhone 4 does that in a device that fits in your HAND. Video calls. In your HAND.

So, I find it infinitely amusing that folks have made an application for the iPhone 4 that turns it into a flashlight. A real, serious flashlight that uses the iPhone 4’s LED flash (designed for flash photography).

It’s a Swiss-army phone!

Mark Twain, still kicking ass
The man’s been dead 100 years, but he’s still topical, relevant and acerbic as hell.

Now THAT’s Building a Castle
This team has been working on building a castle in France using only traditional methods (as they can figure them out via archaeology and reading historical texts). They’ve been going since 1998.

Plato’s Hidden Messages
There’s nothing cooler than discovering deeper meaning, and when that comes from one of the founders of “Western Civilization” (such as it is), you just have to step back and say “Whoa!”. A scholar in Britain has discovered hidden messages coded in Plato’s writings. Stuff he couldn’t say openly for fear of reprisal.

The SciFi Airshow
So, it’s like an air show, only all the “planes” are scifi space vehicles. (It’s not real, though.)

Word of the Month: phonagnosia
It’s when you can’t recognize who a person is just by their voice.

Gore Factor Five!
I know, Dragon Age: Origins has been out, like, forever. The review I’m linking to is even months old. But it’s so damn funny, who cares?!

Best. Map. Ever..
Or even, all maps ever made of the earth, the stars and the universe in general, smushed together. Found out about this amazing map by seeing it on TED, and if you don’t know about the TED talks, I’m sorry. You’re about to have a lot of your free time sucked away by amazing speakers and mind-blowing technology.

See the talk about it at TEDTalks.

And then see the software that makes up the map.

Sinbad, Totally Not a Remake
I don’t really know what to make of this preview. It’s got Patrick Stewart voice over, but it looks like someone said “hey, what if Bollywood made a Sindbad movie in the 70’s?”. Hell, Bollywood probably DID make some Sinbad movies in the 70’s. To Wikipedia! No! They did make a TV series about Sindbad though.

Anyway, it’s a teaser trailer.

It’ll Totally Be a Hit With the Geeks
And while I’m on the subject of wack-ass previews, here’s Sucker Punch. This movie will either be:
1. The greatest movie ever made.
2. The worst movie ever made.

I don’t really see any middle ground for it. On the surface, it’s got what every hetero male (or lesbian female) movie-going geek wants to see: chicks with swords, kicking robot samurai ass. It’s got burlesque, and dragons breathing fire. It’s got airplane dogfights, zepplins, machine guns, gangsters, and a 1950’s insane asylum. And since it’s from the director of 300 and Watchmen, it looks like rock-and-roll.

See the preview and you’ll know what I mean.

You saw the trailer, right? New movie, same universe. Not a remake, but a … sequel? Yeah, looks good.

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: