Archive for the ‘Gift ideas’ Category

Gift ideas for geeks 2017

November 24, 2017

Gift ideas for geeks 2017

It’s Black Friday…or, um, Cyber Monday Eve Eve Eve! 😉

While things have certainly changed in the past few decades with the mainstreaming of geek culture, it can still be be a bit of a mystery. Certainly, specialty sites are having sales today, like

and many more (feel free to suggest others by commenting on this post).

However, mainstreamers may never visit those sites…and may feels their heads spinning if they do. 😉

In this post, I thought I’d give you 42 items you can buy from Amazon…where just about every mainstreamer shops. 🙂 While explaining stuff is one of my favorite things (I used to do a comedy TV bit where they would pretty much just give me a topic and I’d explain it), I won’t try to explain specifically why each of these would appeal. In at least some cases, though, I’ll give you an idea of the type of geek to whom it will especially appeal. We aren’t all the same…arguably, none of us are the same, and while geeks are famously inclusive, there are some…rivalries (Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Marvel vs. D.C., The Addams Family vs. The Munsters…). It can help to have some context.

A few other notes:

I may add to this (I already wish I had more time to list more before heading out on a family tradition) but I wanted to get it out for today’s shopping…enjoy!

If you have other things you think should be added, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. If you directly benefit from it, such as being the author or working for the studio, please mention that and write it in your own words, rather than as an ad. 🙂


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

 

 

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Websites for Geeky Gifts

December 2, 2013

Websites for Geeky Gifts

Okay, sure…it’s getting easier to find geeky gifts in regular stores. After all, most of the most popular movies and most talked-about TV shows are geek friendly nowadays.

Still, a lot of geeks pride themselves on being out of the mainstream. You really want to find something for them that you didn’t just walk past on the 40% off table at JC Penney. 😉

This guide is to suggest some places you can look for those out of the ordinary gifts with geek cred.

Surprisingly, one of the first places you might want to try (for convenience’s sake, if nothing else), is

Books, videos, apps, music (nerdcore as a category!), shirts, watches, mugs, comics, giant wall stickers…all curated for geekiness! They even have signed collectibles and rarities. Sure, a

will set you back about $10,000 (not including $200 shipping), but would anybody ever top that gift? They have a lot less expensive things, too.

Amazon also has items from some of the other sites we are going to list: they know that it makes sense to sell them through Amazon.

One other big thing about shopping at Amazon: wish lists. As geeks, we know: our choices can often be inscrutable to non-geeks…sometimes, even to other geeks. 😉 To the average person, it might seem like the same person who likes Dracula should like Twilight: they both have vampires in them, right? 😉 Let’s just say that to some geeks, versions are important. They might love a TV show and hate the movie version…or vice versa.

Users maintain Amazon Wish Lists themselves. They put the right versions on there, the ones they really want. They can send you a link, or you can search for Wish Lists (if they are public) here:

Amazon Wish Lists
@AmazonSmile

Getting beyond Amazon, there are a lot of choices. While the ones we list should be safe to use, they certainly may not have the same shipping and return policies as Amazon or other big e-tailers. Do take a look at those: if the site is on another continent, you may not get it as quickly as you like. Also, there may be Cyber Monday sales (especially free shipping), but they might have limitations.

ThinkGeek

If there is one site to rule them all for geek gifts, it’s

http://www.thinkgeek.com/

Not only is their geek cred solidly in place, they have hundreds of exclusives…and a clearance section. The one negative here is that an informed geek is likely to be visiting the site, so it’s a bit tougher to really surprise them (but, you know, it’s always hard to surprise a geek…unless it has to do with human behavior). 😉

Many ThinkGeek items are available at Amazon.

Last Exit to Nowhere

http://www.lastexittonowhere.com/

We love a stealth geek t-shirt!

That’s a shirt with a geek tie-in which isn’t obvious to a mainstreamer. LEtN has some of the absolute best. They tend to take brands and organizations from geek movies and create realistic looking t-shirts from them. You can search by movie, so if you know somebody’s favorite movie is Big Trouble in Little China, but have no idea what its about, you can still get an insider joke t-shirt for them.

Sideshow Collectibles

http://www.sideshowtoy.com/

They may have “toy” in their domain name, but make no mistake: these are super high quality works of art. There are some things under $100, but you can pay a lot more than that. They have exclusives, and some sale items. They also have payment plans, and a points system. Unless the geek on your list is that Bill Gates/Tony Stark sort of billionaire geek, it won’t matter if they’ve heard of this place or not…they probably haven’t bought what they really wanted.

Wicked Cool Stuff

http://www.wickedcoolstuff.com/

From a Han Solo bobblehead to a Captain Jack Sparrow paperweight, Wicked Cool Stuff has lots of very affordable geek gifts.

Forbidden Planet

https://forbiddenplanet.com/

Not surprisingly, this British site has some of the best Doctor Who merchandise.

Super Hero Stuff

http://www.superherostuff.com/

An incredible collection of superhero themed clothing may be the main reason to come here (Captain America socks…with wings!), but there are a lot of other good choices, from a Green Lantern dog collar to a Big Bang Theory ice cube tray.

Entertainment Earth

http://www.entertainmentearth.com/

A really huge collection of items, often at affordable prices. This is the superstore. Check out their “Just 1 Left” section. They also do bestsellers in lots of categories, making it a bit easier for you. If you already understand your geek’s passions, this place will have what you want. You can also call them for help.

Dude!!! I Want That

http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/gift-guides/gifts-for-geeks.asp

How do I put this? Um…Skymall…if you were flying in Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. 😉 These are things where you are going to say, “They make that?” Let me just say these three words (okay, one of them is hyphenated): “Gas-powered LED Wings”! Wait, I can’t stop there…”Handmade Guinea Pig Armor”…for $24,300!

Snorg Tees

http://www.snorgtees.com/t-shirts/geek-nerd

These are clever and cartoony…people may have to look twice. I mean, if you chuckle at a t-shirt that says, “May the mass times acceleration be with you”, you can find great gifts here.

Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company

http://www.superherosupplies.com/

Shop like a superhero! Seriously, check this one out…where else can you buy omnipotence by the gallon?

Well, there are 10 (unless you are using binary…then there are 1010) sites for you (plus Amazon)! Go ahead…make a geek’s holiday!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :)  You can also tell your geek that part of the gift went to support a non-profit they’d appreciate…one of the ones listed here, perhaps: Weird & geeky groups you can support by shopping at AmazonSmile 

Getting the best out of Cyber Monday

November 27, 2010

 Getting the best out of Cyber Monday

In this earlier post, I gave you tips for getting the best out of Black Friday.

Shopping online, of course, is very different from shopping in brick and mortar stores.

Well, hold up there…I do think it is becoming more similar in recent years.  People do shop on Black Friday in the stores in their pyjamas.  🙂  Since people have SmartPhones with shopping apps, they can also comparison shop in the physical stores.  They can scan a UPC, and be told that the item is fifty dollars cheaper .4 miles away.

Still, it’s not the same.

Cyber Monday is the Monday following Thanksgiving (in the United States)…and following Black Friday.  Originally (I believe in 2005), what was happening was that people were shopping at work (where they had faster internet connections).  Now, many people have just as fast or faster connections at home…and companies have gotten smarter about detecting and how to prevent shopping in the office.  I don’t think that’s necessarily wise on the part of the employers, but that’s for another post.

You can get some great bargains online…and be totally ripped off as well.  If you buy something from a local store, you can probably return it there…they don’t just disappear before you can get back to them.  Websites (and individual sellers) might do just that…or might be in another country and outside of your law enforcement jurisdiction.

Here are some tips:

1. Know your sites. 

Don’t count on a smaller site having a better deal than a well-known one.  Most sites will have an “About us” link of some kind.  You can check that to see how long they’ve been in business (at least sometimes).  Check http://www.wikipedia.org …if there is a listing and the article has been there for a while, that can be a good sign

2. Check the shipping costs.

This is really key…I often see great deals…and then the shipping and handling are more than the item!  You can get used books for a penny on Amazon…but you’ll usually pay $3.49 for shipping from these third parties.

3. Check the processing and shipping time. 

Some sites are getting the things you are buying from someone else, or making them to order.  If you are calculating days, that’s usually business days.  In the US, business days do not count Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays.  Also, the shipping time starts from when they ship it…not when you order it.  Maybe they can ship it in two business days…but it takes them two weeks before they start the shipping

4. Don’t hesitate. 

Online deals may only last seconds.  Know what price you want to pay, know that the store is okay…and go for it.  If there is a way to set up a quick checkout, do it.  Log into the site before you start shopping

5. Use comparison shopping sites. 

These let you put an item into their site, and they’ll compare the prices at different websites.  Many of them include the shipping (but you may have to enter your zipcode for them to figure that out).  They won’t have all the sites, but you’ll get a good idea.

I’ve used

http://www.pricegrabber.com/ 

for years.

I also have used

http://shopping.yahoo.com

6. Use coupon sites

This also really useful.  Many online sites have coupon codes that will give you an additional discount…or free shipping.  They may only be good above certain amounts on a purchase and/or only at a specific time, as well as on specific items.  You may have to enter the code at checkout.  Be careful about that.  If the coupon code doesn’t work, you are going to have some trouble dealing with it later.  Call the store if you have trouble…most reputable stores have a phone number listed on the site, but not all.  That’s another thing you can check ahead of time.  If you used your credit card, you may be able to go to your credit card company for help if you were defrauded.  You can usually search by store and sometimes by item.  The listing at the coupon site may not be up to date.

http://www.couponmountain.com

http://www.fatwallet.com/

7. Check return policies

Does your return period start from when you buy it?  If you buy it a month ahead of time, will it have expired before you give it?  That should be listed at the site

8. Is it a pre-order?  Do they guarantee the price?

That’s an issue…it’s hard to tell on a website, sometimes, that the product isn’t actually available yet.  Read the description.  If it is a pre-order, do they guarantee the price, or will you pay more if it goes up in-between?

9. Don’t ignore the people who always discount

If a place is cheap all year round, it may still be cheaper on Cyber Monday than a place with a special sale.  For example,

http://www.woot.com

has a special deal every day…yes, one special deal.  They will sell out

10. Check at odd times of the day

A lot of sales are only for an hour, and they are selling around the world.  Check before you go to bed and when you get up

There are a few tips for you.  🙂  Here is a basic strategy:

  1. Identify online websites you trust and want to use
  2. Get sizes and compatibilities from your giftees…what videogame system they use, for example
  3. Check the coupon sites.  Copy the codes (write them down or paste them into a document
  4. Check comparison sites for specific items
  5. Sign up at the sites where you shop…you may be sent exclusive coupons.  Check their Twitter feeds and Facebook site
  6. Check your sites for information on upcoming specials…some of them hype them ahead of time
  7. Log into a site and set up any speed buying options they have
  8. If you see your items at a price you want, get them right away

Consider how you will give the gift if it isn’t something physical…a picture of it in a card can be cool.

Be careful also with digital gifts (downloads, which can be e-books, songs, movies, and so on) because they may deliver immediately.  If you get it a week early, so might your recipient.

By the way, you may hear about

http://www.ruelala.com/

this year.  Someone else has to invite you to join, but it reportedly has really good deals.

Oh, and I haven’t mentioned auction sites, like http://www.ebay.com .  Honestly, I’m a little leery of those, although they are now a significant part of our economy.  My concern is stolen items…it does happen…you usually have some recourse, but it’s complicated to try to resolve it at the holidays. 

This is the official Cyber Monday site:

http://www.cybermonday.com/

How can there be an official site?  Shop.org made up the name.  🙂

Do you have any special sites you like, or tips?  Feel free to comment on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. 

My friendly Black Friday (really)

November 27, 2010

My friendly Black Friday (really)

It’s a family tradition that we go shopping on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving).

In this earlier post, I gave you some tips for getting the best out of it.  I thought it was only fair that I check back with you on how it went with us today.

We set the alarms for 3:30, but both of us beat them by a few minutes.  The pets were quite confused to be fed that early…but willing to make the sacrifice.  😉

We got to our first store, JC Penney’s, at 4:00 (which was when it opened).  We picked up the annual snow globe/ornament.  That’s a family tradition, too..this is the only day of the year my offspring gets homesick.  😉

We shopped JCP and Macys.  Everything went fine at JCP…funny, good-natured, and efficient salesclerk.  Macys…well, I didn’t see it, but my offspring said one of the clerks was…um…not used to doing this.

Next was Target, and that’s where we had a lot of fun.  It happened to be that, just as we were going into the store, they were bringing in a couple of carts.  We got one…we are mainly in Target to buy toys for Toys for Tots.  We like to do that…on Black Friday, it gives you a chance to buy the mainstream toys that the kids who benefit from Toys for Tots might not get otherwise.

We checked out the line…it was very long.

So, we followed one of the pieces of advice I gave you: I got into line with the cart.  My Significant Other went off to the toy department.  Well, a young couple came up behind me…arms full of presents. 

I offered to let them use my cart.  We got to chatting…had a very nice time.  When my Significant Other (SO) came back, we just put our presents in the bottom of the cart.  My SO carried a package for another person, and we all had a lovely time.

We learned about the kids, and a trip to Disneyland, and the changing tastes of a ten-year old.

Target did a great job with the line, by the way.  We were really supported by a large staff…with ping pong paddles.  It was sort of like being waved around by the tarmac crew at the airport.  😉 

After that, we went home and unloaded.  I also had to inject the diabetic dog with insulin, and there’s a bit of time pressure with that.

We did try a new restaurant in town for breakfast…okay, that didn’t work out well.  🙂  The place was freezing, the food wasn’t good.  Our waiter was friendly and efficient.

Over to Kohl’s…which appeared to be handling the line poorly.  People were upset in it, and clearly waiting a long time.  The up escalator wasn’t working.  We decided it wasn’t worth getting anything there…the line looked like it would take an hour.

I did see a clerk do a very nice thing.  One shopper was clearly upset, speaking loudly to a relative on a cellphone.  The clerk came over, nothing accusatory, and just asked if there was anything that the clerk could do to help.  The clerk started helping the shopper rearrange purchases…that made everything better, even for the other shoppers.

We were back home easily by 9…in plenty of time for online bargains.  🙂

All in all, a pleasant day.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. 

Getting the best out of Black Friday

November 23, 2010

Getting the best out of Black Friday

“It’s the eye of the shopper
It’s the thrill of the deal
Rising up for the bargain-priced doorbusters
And the fast-moving shopper
Stalks her gift at a steal
And she’s down at the mall with the
Eeeeeyyyyyeeeee of the shopper

The Friday after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday in the retail world.  While you may think that’s because the salespeople dread the onslaught of slathering, inexperienced shoppers, it really has a different meaning.  It’s the day of the year when many stores go “into the black”.  That is, some stores operate at a loss except at the holidays.

I managed a bookstore, as readers of my  I Love My Kindle blog know.  But I also managed a game store.  The game store would do something like 80% of the sales for the entire year from Black Friday through about the end of the year.  The store literally could not have stayed in business without those sales.

For a lot of retail people, it’s actually a fun day and weekend.  It’s a challenge…like running a marathon.  You may not enjoy it while it’s happening, but you are happy afterwards that you succeeded.

For shoppers, though, it can definitely be a difficult experience.  One of the main complications for holiday shopping is people who don’t shop the rest of the year.  There are many learned behaviors in stores…and those folks just haven’t learned them.

A classic example is walking up to the front of the line when someone is having a transaction to ask the cashier a question.  Believe me, the rest of the line is going to really glare at you.  Ideally, ask a sales clerk “on the floor”, not behind the cash register (unless there is no one in line).  If you feel like you need to ask someone behind a counter a question, stand a few feet back from the register…the other shopper deserves privacy.  Think of it a bit like the bank.  Wait until the cashier engages you.  They have to put the money away (if any was used) before they can talk to you.  It’s not safe for them otherwise.  That’s just one example.

Undeniably, you can get a lot of good deals on Black Friday.  You may be able to match them online…but you may not.  You may hate the idea of going…that’s fine, you can skip it and still do okay.  But if you do decide to go, I’m going to give you some tips so you can tet the most out of it.  My family goes every year, and we have fun.  🙂  We do it primarily to buy toys for Toys for Tots.  It’s a great day to get bargains on those brand name toys (like Dora the Explorer) that underprivileged kids may not usually get.  It can really make them feel more mainstream.  Don’t forget the teenagers…they often get forgotten.  One year, we got MP3 players for five dollars…sweet!  Oh, be aware that things that need batteries or have small parts may be a challenge.  You want something kids can easily keep with them…they may be in situations with a lot of kids, or need to move frequently.

Here then, are some tips for a valuable Black Friday experience:

1. Plan your stores

This is the most important thing.  Figure out how early you want to start…we get to our first store at 4:00 AM.  Find out when your stores are going to open.  You don’t want to go to a store at 4, and find out it doesn’t open until 5:00 (slackers) 😉 .  On the other hand, many stores have “doorbusters”.  Those are special sales that typically are only available for a few hours.  They are designed to get people in and out of the store.  The sales are often really good…but with limited quantities.  You’ll see the ads saying, “While supplies last”.  Best Buy is apparently going to have the Barnes & Noble NOOK EBR (E-Book Reader) wifi-only model on sale for $99.  That’s a savings of fifty dollars!  I do prefer the Kindle for a lot of reasons, but for those who already have one NOOK in the family or want a second EBR, this is a great deal.  The ad, though, says a “minimum of 10 per store”.  If they do not limit purchases, one person could easily buy ten.  Those could be for family members…but they could also be planning to give them to employees, or even resell them.  My guess is that if you wait until the store has been open for an hour, they’ll be out of these.

This is the site I use for store hours:

http://bfads.net/Black-Friday-Store-Hours

Figure it is going to take at least half an hour a store.  It could easily take more than that, depending on the lines.  You can pick three stores for an hour…but you may only get to one of them.  Find out if there is a bargain you really think you want to have…like the first ride you want to get to at Disneyland.  Plan it out geographically…you don’t want to waste time driving back and forth.

For example, Sears, Macy’s, and Target all open at 4:00.  5:00 includes Sam’s Club, Best Buy, Kmart, Burlington Coat Factory, and Game Stop.

 So, you could figure you are going to Target…and if you still have time go to Macy’s and Sears in that order.  Regardless, you plan to get to Best Buy at 5:00.  If you have time after Best Buy, you are going to Game Stop, and so on.

2. Plan a time for breakfast

The last big wave of stores is 7:00 AM.  If you can wait until 7:30 or 7:45 to go to a restaurant (or go home and unload and eat), you’ll be better off.  Getting a snack first might make sense, of course.

3. Bring lists

This one is important.  My family has great fun doing “wish lists”.  It’s really the one time of year we here from pretty much everybody…nieces, nephews, cousins.  Ours tend to be narrative, including what’s going in your life.  Even if you don’t do that (and a lot of people like to be totally surprised), get sizes from everybody.  Not just sizes, but compatibilities.  What do I mean by that?  Find out what videogame system they use, what EBR (E-Book Reader),  Blu-Ray vs. DVD, and so on.  You don’t want to get something they can’t use, and it’s confusing to keep it all straight.  Print it out, put it on your portable data device (like an iPad or Kindle)…or if you are more techie, consider using Google Docs.  That can work really well if you have internet access in the store.  Those documents are easy to make and can be private just to you and the people you choose (and, you know, Google itself).  We have a Google spreadsheet with the people for whom we want to get gifts and whether or not we’ve gotten them, and a Google Document with the with lists,

4. Charge and bring your cellphones

You may split up…some way to reach the other people in your party is important.  It can be really hard to cut through the store to get to a particular place…you need that flexibility.  Have a meeting place outside of the store if you do get separated somehow…the car could work.

5. See if you can get shopping apps for your smartphone or other device

There are a lot of apps out there.  You can scan the UPC (Universal Product Code) on something you want to buy, and your phone can tell you where to get it cheaper close by.  Your phone knows where you are…

6. Turn around and look at your car after you park

That is the key to finding it when you go back (if you don’t have a GPS gadget that can find your way back to your car for you…those are getting relatively inexpensive).  Walk a few car lengths towards the store…and turn around and look back at the car.  Whenever you reach a fork, where you can go one of two directions, you may want to turn around.  You want the view to where you’ve been to be in your memory.  Of course, also note the floor on which you parked, a space number, all of that.  If worse comes to worse, you may have something on your keychain that can make your car honk for you.

7. If you can afford it, look for emergency gifts

We usually get a couple of gifts to have on hand in case somebody shows up we didn’t expect.  A gift card can be good, but there are a lot of possibilities.  I’d get something you might want if you don’t end up using it.  🙂

8. Be prepared to come back

It may be that you’ll get something on your receipt that gives you a discount if you come back later in the day or the next day.  You don’t need to get everything today.

9. Have one person get in line while the other person is shopping

This can be a huge timesaver.  It can take a half an hour just to get to the cashier.  One of you may want to get in line for the cashier as soon as you enter the store.  Bring a book or something else to do.  The other person shops (checking in with the cellphone, if necessary).  That’s so much more efficient than having you both walk around the store and then get in line.  The person in line, depending on the store, may want to get in line with a shopping cart.  That makes it easier for the other person to join you…especially if they don’t have to fight through the line with a cart themselves.  They can keep dropping things off in the cart, if necessary.

10. Get ready for Cyber Monday

Since 2005, the Monday following Black Friday (which is the Friday following Thanksgiving…at least in the US) has been called Cyber Monday.  It’s a very busy online shopping day.  Originally, that was partially because people waited until they got back to work, where they had faster internet connections.  🙂  That’s no longer true for many people, of course…my internet connection is faster at home, and there may be limitations on shopping at work (and more sophisticated ways to detect it).  Still, you can count on bargains online.  In another post, I’ll tell a little about how to get online coupons and do comparison shopping online.

So, there you go…ten tips to make Black Friday a day you look forward to every year…and how you can save time and money.

Oh, and I do recommend this site:

http://bfads.net/

You can see scans of ads, search for products, and so on.  It appears that what they do is legal (or I wouldn’t promote them), although some stores wish they wouldn’t.

My Significant Other also loves getting the newspapers on Thursday (Thanksgiving) when they have the Black Friday ads.  If you aren’t as much of an internet person, that’s a good option as well.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Flash! Fisher-Prices introduces remote-control Bigfoot

September 12, 2010

Flash! Fisher-Prices introduces remote-control Bigfoot

Do you remember the Great Garloo?  I do!  Oh, you might not remember the name.  It was this really cool giant green robot guy with a fin on his head and a leopard loincloth.  You had a remote control (with a cable), and you could make him roll forward, bend over…even pick up stuff!  Here, this commercial might help:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0p0WRhAp9o

What’s the modern day equivalent?

Well, the folks at Imaginext (part of Fisher-Price) have introduced

Bigfoot the Monster

Of course, things have changed since 1961.  The remote control is wireless, for one thing.  Bigfoot raps, exercises, even has emotions!  You can see all those demonstrated in the

Watch the Demo

button on that Amazon product page…it’s not a very obvious button.

Of course, Garloo only had one emotion…angry!

It’s interesting that they are gearing this (at least partially) to kids who are too young to read…they used pictograms for the buttons.  They say 36 months to 8 years old…I’m not sure I want a three-year old driving her or his own sasquatch.  😉

Bigfoot’s been kid friendly before…remember

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NNb1pgQlQo Bigfoot and Wildboy?

Nah, that’s okay if you don’t…I knew that would be a stretch.  😉

Oh, and there was Quatchi, one of the mascots for this year’s Winter Olympics.

 Gee, I wonder who would win in a fight between The Great Garloo and Bigfoot the Monster?  I don’t know, but I’m guessing Bigfoot would be a sore loser…or get fined for celebrating after the win.  😉

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

The Annoy-a-tron

July 18, 2010

The Ann0y-a-tron

Did you happen to see the Big Brother episode recently where the houseguests were kept up by these annoying sounds seemingly coming from nowhere?

That was The Annoy-a-tron, a gadget from one of my favorite sites, ThinkGeek.  There are three in the line, and the cheapest is $9.99 at time of writing.

What does it do?

It ANNOYS people.  🙂

It has a selection of irritating sounds, is tiny, and is hard to locate.  Even when found, people may not know what it is.

So, you can put it in somebody’s office, and just drive them crazy.

Not the kind of thing I’d do, but…  😉

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Losing all control-lers: Kinect

June 20, 2010

Losing all control-lers: Kinect

For quite a while, we wanted our computers to get smarter and faster.

They did.

Our computers are capable of incredible processing feats, compared to even ten years ago.

Now, what we want is for them to be easier.

That’s coming, in several big ways.  In a recent post, I wrote about IBM’s Watson, which has language processing capabilities that show a path to being able to have normal verbal conversations with our computers.

Ever since we got past keyboard only computer games, we’ve relied on various kinds of controllers. ..Atari joysticks to Wiimotes.

In November of this year, Microsoft is changing that. 

It’s called

Kinect

It’s a device (formerly known as Project Natal) that connects to your XBOX…and then reads you.

No wires, nothing to hold.

It looks at you, to see how you are moving.

It looks at your face…it will recognize individuals.

It listens to your voice…even detecting emotions.

If it works as advertised, and as the videos suggest, it will revolutionize the way we interact with computers (eventually).

Overstatement?  Perhaps.

Here’s a change for you: no passwords to remember.  Just as the Kinect can recognize individuals, facial recognition can be used at work.  The Kinect suggests it can be done inexpensively. 

Imagine this one: you walk in front of a wall-size screen.  What you see is like your reflection in a mirror…only it isn’t you.  You interact with other characters “through the mirror”.  Their images do exactly what they do: sit down, stand up, wave.  No controllers, no button-mashing combinations to learn. 

You may have friends, and have no idea what race or gender they are.

Yes, we have online avatars now, but this ratchets it up to a whole different level.

This positional analysis that the Kinect is able to do (for only $150)…I can see a lot of medical uses and sports uses that could be made out of that.  Your doctor needs to know the range of motion in your right knee?  You can do it at home and get an accurate number.  You want to improve your tennis forehand?  Complete analysis…and recommendations.

You might wonder what happens if you are playing a fighting game and you can’t physically get that nunchuk thing right.  It would be easy to have it amplify your moves.  It could recognize that when you move your hand a little, it’s the equivalent of an expert moving a hand a lot.

Imagine that one…a disabled person could make movements that the system could reinterpret.  Lift your left hand, and it could show you taking a step with your left leg.  A paralyzed person could appear to walk…which could eliminate another prejudice in virtual interactions.

There could also be real therapeutic uses, especially for those with phantom limbs.

In a sense, this could be like the holodeck on Star Trek: The Next Generation…and you wouldn’t need to put on a costume first.

It will require special games…and those are being produced.  One of them is a Star Wars game…put your hands in the right position and see a light sabre?  There is one with animals…you can call your pet, and it comes…and knows you are you. 

Is it possible it won’t work as advertised?  Sure.

But if it does, we may mark this as a turning point in our interactions with computers.

Why am I mentioning this if it isn’t coming out until November?

It certainly may sell out…and it’s one to a household.

I’d consider ordering one now.  Even if you don’t want it, it may make a great gift for someone who has an Xbox…although you could get one of those, too.  🙂

Official US Kinect Site 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Star Trek your wall

June 10, 2010

Star Trek your wall

This is one I ran across some time ago, but I think it could be a great Fathers’ Day gift…if Dad’s a geek.  🙂

It’s like wallpaper that makes any wall look like the bridge of the Enterprise from Star Trek (the original series).  It’s a picture of the bridge that covers the entire wall.  Yep, it’s like being in the show! 

It comes in two different sizes:

9 x 15 feet

6 x 10 feet

 There are a lot of options from RoomMates:

Batman 6 x 10

Spider-Man 6 x 10

Dad not a geek?  Check out these sports options:

RoomMates sports

College sports! MLB! NFL! NBA! NASCAR!

Nothing says you love Dad like letting him mark his territory…  😉

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Flash! Pictures of the Sideshow premium Jack Sparrow posted

March 18, 2010

Flash!  Pictures of the Sideshow premium Jack Sparrow posted

So, you know those action figures?  Little plastic representation of characters (don’t call them dolls)…and sometimes, it seems like they just swapped heads or hair on one character, stuck him in another costume, and called it something else?

Well, this post is not about them.  Sideshow Collectibles makes works of art…it’s just that their subjects are Venus and the Thinker, but Daredevil and Bobba Fett.

Sideshow Colllectibles at Amazon

The name “collectible” isn’t just their claim…you can spend $5,000 on a figure, and conceivably make a profit in a few years.

But that’s not why (I hope) most people buy them.  I hope they buy them because they think they are super-cool…or even better, want to give them to someone else who does.

Nothing says you love your geek like a life size C-3PO or a 12″ Lon Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera…complete with mask!

You don’t have to worry about whether your collectible has the details right enough to satisfy your obsessive fan…Sideshow knows its business.

It’s not a collectible if just anybody can have one…these are often limited editions.

That’s the case with the Captain Jack Sparrow figure being released on Friday.  There will be a “switch-out” hand version…you can change the famous pirate’s hand, so he is holding different things.  When that one is sold out, there will be another version without the switch-out hand.

Do you know the ultimate Pirates of the Caribbean fan, and can you afford an artwork for over $300?  Or, you know, do you just want to check out the great pictures?  If so, head on over to the website.  Don’t dawdle, though…if you are planning to buy one, you probably need to pre-qualify and get in line…

Otherwise, you might have to remember Friday as “…the day you almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow.”  🙂

Regardless, you may be counting your days until the 20th of May, 2011…when Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (again starring Johnny Depp) is released.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.


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