Tag Archives: geekweek

The Gamer

I’m going to end my geekweek by saying that I’ve had fun talking about the other side that isn’t a Mummy.

This other side wouldn’t be complete without chatting about my gaming addiction.  The ironic thing is that as this blog is being published I’m actually out at a party, having a life and being social, not glued to the computer, taking instructions from a raid leader and having possibly some of the best times of the last few years!

See, I used to play…

World of Warcraft.  If you don’t want to read a WoW related post, close the window now.  I’ve also dabbled in Rift, Warhammer and Eve.  I had a go at LOTRO but found it held no attraction for me.

Now, I know most of you have seen a picture of the actual real me and are probably wondering how someone so hot and sexy ended up being drawn into WoW.  It started with OH. He was in one of the top raiding guilds on his server and was raiding regularly with his mage.  I thought it was all pretty sad, until he rolled me a druid and I played…

Then I ended up with my own account on a PvE server playing with some people from work.  I moved from guild to guild as I leveled and finally reached 70 (This is in the days of the Burning Crusade) and then became one of the most respected resto druids in the guild.

After the massive nerf of the dungeons, I 5 manned Karazhan (I LOVE Karazhan.) and two manned a lot of the level 70 5 man content with a retri paladin. It took over my life and I didn’t care.  I had two healers and was regularly asked to bring them to raids.  I would spend hours staring at the computer.

Then we got made redundant and they bought out WOTLK and our hours played soared.  We both hit 80 within a couple of weeks which was no mean feat seeing as I was leveling with a full on restoration spec!

I became a specialist healer and raided new content almost every night.  Then I fell pregnant.

You know how people say that you get food aversions when you’re pregnant? Well, I had a gaming aversion. I just stopped playing.  Couldn’t even stand the thought of logging in.  There was some political crap going on in the guild anyway which didn’t help but I couldn’t even bring myself to grind.

So, finally, just after The Toddler was born, I cancelled my subscription.

I don’t think the addiction ever fades though.  I’ve played Cataclysm – I had ten days free and access to the Beta – and every time I see a beautiful piece of scenery I think about the different areas in WoW.  Life would be so much more simple of we could live in a video game fighting dragons and doing random quests for money.

 

Why I need an EEE Pad Transformer

Yesterdays post was a little bit of a cop out as far as geekery goes. However, tv is an important part of our lives and as you can see from the run down, something we do a lot. I spend most days saying “Don’t touch that, its got poo on it”, “Baby, please don’t poke your brother, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like it.” “No, O doesn’t need crayons in his bed.” And pointing to the tv in an attempt to distract her from a nefarious activity.

Well, today I’m going to compare the devices I have access to and tell you why they are not as suitable as an eee pad transformer would be for using while pinned to the sofa by a hungry child. This persuasive act will not change the fact that we cannot afford this piece of kit and I have already touched briefly on the subject here. However, here I go again.

I’ll begin with desktop, which is at present our only active desktop. It is the only device in the run down running Windows and as I can’t be bothered to get Wine running properly (I’m technically non technical now anyway) it is also our gaming box. As a desktop is not portable, it’s not massively practical for daytime use anyway. It would mean hours being sat on an uncomfortable chair, fending off instant messages directed at the OH. This machine is always on and gets used to aid OH in his shooting of other helpless players in the evenings. I do occasionally use this machine, but only when the children are sleeping and I’m not.

I have a laptop. A Dell XPS to be precise. It runs Ubuntu. The problem I have with this machine during the day is the serious overheating issue. The fans are not ideally placed and the bezel is metal so it makes for burnt hands if it’s left on for extended periods. I’m not sure if any of you have tried to use a laptop while small children are grabbing at the keyboard, but it’s not easy. If she doesn’t get to type/pull out keys, she goes into full tantrum mode. We have enough tantrums without inducing them.

The netbook I have is dying a death. It’s old, the solid state disk isn’t happy and it’s been battered. We reinstalled it with kubuntu to try to make it faster. What it actually did was put the nail in the SSDs coffin and make it run like a snail. Not practical for window switching.

Then, last but not least we have my phone. I draft most of the blogs on my phone and then finalise them on the computer. I love my smartphone and I love Android. The issues I have are the tiny onscreen keyboard and the battery life. Smartphones don’t have a massively long battery life if you’re constantly tweeting, making notes and answering calls from the childminder (more about this later)

The EEE pad transformer solves all these problems. It’s mobile, unlikely to overheat, doesn’t have a fixed keyboard, has a keyboard you can type on, has an impressive battery life and won’t be dying a death. I’ll also be able to use it in bed overnight to help get me through the difficult nightfeeds. It runs Android, which, as stated above, I do adore as an OS.

There you have it. Reasons why I need one of these machines.

Childrens tv

I am  a bad parent.

It’s true.  I’m a TV parent.  We have the TV on all the time when we’re here.  OK, yes it’s horrible, terrible and I’m rotting my daughters mind.  Never mind the fact that she’s advanced for her age, her vocabulary is that of a 3 year old and she is able to imaginatively play on her own.  TV is the devil.  She’s also desensitized to it so we go somewhere with a TV and she doesn’t take a blind bit of notice and would rather find the crayons and start drawing on things.

Anyway, all that aside, whatever your opinions on children watching inordinate amounts of TV, I’m here to discuss the programmes themselves.

Mostly, we have CBeebies on.  The channel aimed at preschoolers.  And I know that preschoolers have a strange way of thinking.

We like Mr Tumble.  We call for Mr Tumble every time we go outside.  If Justin Fletcher ever comes to our city, we are going to have to see him.  The man is a children’s entertainment legend!  Gigglebiz makes us all laugh.

We like 3rd and Bird.  The singing is cute.  The songs are catchy.  There is a moralistic message behind each episode (as there are with most children’s programmes now – I don’t remember Trap Door having a moralistic message!) but I can ignore this for the cute singing and Muffin.  We love Muffin.

We like Mr Blooms Nursery.  She likes it for entirely different reasons.  It seems Mr Bloom has been causing a fuss on Twitter with the Mummies.  Most of us think he’s something of a hotty. We’ll leave that there. (I do think I’ve seen every episode!)

She loves Show Me Show Me.  I’m annoyed by it.  As a programme though, it’s not bad.  It’s informative and they sing (which is always a winner in our house) and she does learn things from Chris and Pui.

We adore Yoko, Jakamoko, Toto.  Very funny.  Theme tune is very catchy and we often find ourselves doing a duet.

Chuggington is a firm favourite as is Timmy but these are not part of the regular scheduling now.

I didn’t understand Zingzillas to begin with, but now I get it, I think it’s brilliant.  The work of pure genius.  Particularly as music education in schools is being cut.  Music is an important part of personal development and self-expression and the Zingzillas encourage exploration of different sounds, moods identified by music and exposure to all sorts of instruments.  Love it love it love it!

Small potatoes and Baby Jake.  I’m not sure about these.  She seems to like them for the music factor and I believe that Small potatoes at least is made by the same people who make 3rd and Bird.  I was exposed to Baby Jake for the first time today and thought WTF?  It’s drivel.  I shall give it another go on Thursday, but I’m not convinced.  In the same way that, even after all these years, I still do not like the Teletubbies.  I don’t like the way that they don’t talk properly.  I don’t like the constant sunshine.  I don’t like the freaky sun baby.  The same with In The Night Garden.  It’s awful.  the more I watch the worse that series gets.  Makka Pakka uses the same sponge to wash faces as he does to wash stones!  And that is not the weirdest thing about it!

I don’t like the Green balloon club.  I hate it.  The guy in it is weird.   I understand that we all should be doing our bit to save water and fuel, and we do, but I don’t want that shoved down my children’s throat via the medium of songs sung by unconvincing stage school children.  Sorry.  I switch that crap off.

So, there you have it.  My run down of likes and dislikes from the current CBeebies schedule.  Told you we watch it a lot!

Scareware

I used to have an almost unhealthy obsession with computer viruses and hacking. The bookcase in our (currently) spare room is testament to this. I would have prefered to read one of these tomes to something fictitious.

OH  has recently written about being “the guy who’s good with computers” over on his blog. He mentions one of the recent fixing jobs he’s done and questions the users ability with a computer. You see, not so long ago it used to be the case that in order for a virus, rat (remote access tool) or home page hijacker to get on to your (mostly windows) machine you would have to click on agree on some dodgy webpage. Mostly anyway. There were exceptions. The only exception that I had any direct contact with was conficker. The point is that scareware is now coming to us via xss (cross site scripting) on websites and is landing on our machines via ads on a legitimate page. They don’t ask to be installed, they just do it.

Now, this is not a user blindly clicking on agree, so questioning their clicking fingers when it comes to this type of infection is pointless. Before I went on maternity leave, I saw a lot of examples of this new breed of virus creeping onto pcs. The idea is an oldy but a goody.

The scareware infiltrates your system then pops up advising that you have a virus. They also switch off any genuine anti-virus applications. If you attempt to run any diagnostic tools, you’ll be notified they are also infected. It then will prompt you to pay around £40-£50 to remove the multiple infections on your machine. As most end users are aware of the dangers of getting viruses on their machines, they panic thinking that they are.indeed infected by these 40 or so viruses that the scareware has picked up and will lose their data. It’s this that prompts a purchase and the scareware has won. These infections can be cleaned but they are not easy to get rid of and a complete reinstall is often quicker than trying to recover the system and remove all traces. The most recently infected machine I have seen required a return to factory settings.

Although (as far as I was aware and this may be incorrect as a further component may have been added) this breed of malware doesn’t intend to harm the machine (the basic premise is social engineering in order to extort) it normally does end up with a loss of data. Or at least internet favourites. So, it’s no longer the case that you have to click on something you shouldn’t to get infected but more a case of not being aware of a genuine virus warning.

Kinect and Kinectimals

 OH  loves his games. He loves his XBox 360. I purchased his XBox 360 for his birthday 3 ish years ago. It’s a black elite. I had just finished a night shift when I had to wrap it up and I decided that padding it out with balls of newspaper before putting the wrapping paper on it would disguise it. It was an epic wrapping fail. It’s been in for repair once due to the graphics card having a flid and making everything pink. But he still loves it.

And it is this love which makes it the perfect tool to connect with his kids via something he loves. I encourage her to ding, dance and do creative things. He brings out her inner geek. She’s still way too young for the controller. She just about manages to hit buttons and she can see that they are having an effect but she doesn’t really understand how to use the pad to move around. This is why the Kinect is so amazing.

It’s fun for all of us. Even I can manage to wave an arm to hit a ball. Again, The Toddler doesn’t quite understand that she doesn’t need to touch the TV in order for actions to happen, but she’s getting there.

We bought Kinectimals for her when we bought the Kinect. She LOVEs it . She calls it “Tiger” as there’s a tiger on the box. She actually has the pets picked by daddy (a serval and a black panther) and daddy spends a lot of time “helping” her but she does adore it. She says “Tiger – kick the ball” and she will play the football game. She also shouts “Xbox – play disc!” at random intervals. It’s all extremely cute. Once she gets the hang of it, I’m sure they’ll have hours of fun together fussing over the “Kitcats”.

The game is simple in its premise. You can’t die (as far as I can see) and it gets you jumping all around the room as you train your kitty to do different tricks and activities. The small amount of time I’ve spent playing I’ve enjoyed. It’s a fun, furry frolic through colourful fields and engaging short tasks.  I wouldn’t play it for an extensive amount of time, but it’s good to dip in and out of.  It’s also ideal for all ages and definitely pulls high scores on the cuteness metre!

On a side note, we also got Child of Eden, a short review of which can be found here.

Sci-fi convention

Soo yes. We are geeks in this house. We flit in and out of Dr who, OH watches Star Trek when he thinks no one can see him, we know all about Stargate SG1 and I can name most episodes of Red Dwarf in the first 5 minutes without watching the title screen.

We have introduced The Toddler to Dr who and she thinks the scary bits (and even I look away sometimes) are cool.  So when our friend John found a local collectors convention our inner geeks tingled and we said yes.

The main headliner if you will was Chris Barrie of Red Dwarf fame. Now, I had a HUGE crush on Rimmer when I was 17 (I know, I know eww right? Told you, I was quite messed up!) so this obviously added another dynamic to the proceedings.  I shall hopefully get a chance to blog about such a dynamic later one.  But for now, I will stick to geekery.

We thought event was the Sunday but J our Red Dwarf obsessed friend phoned at 9 to say no, it was indeed Saturday and he was not missing out on the chance to miss Chris.  He likes him for entirely different reasons.

Being caught at short notice was for once not a huge problem. We were mostly organised and easily ready to meet up at mid day and this was including the trip to the supermarket to get our picnic food as we has no idea what would be there and couldn’t risk not being able to feed the Toddler.

We were all convention virgins so we had no idea what to expect. We expected a lot of people to be dressed up. We also expected to see a lot of geeks.  Luckily, we are also geeks so this would not be too much of a shock to our systems.

We got there and ended up having our picnic in the car boot before J and his girlfriend L met up with us. I got super excited about daleks while J freaked over Chris Barrie.  (I was kind of dreading going to that bit of the hall.)

The first hall was dedicated to the dealers, traders and the actors signing pictures.  J joined the queue to get Chris Barries signature and we headed through the second hall…which turned out to be nerd HEAVEN.

ON entering we were greeted by the reptile display including HUGE lizards.  In the past I’ve been tempted to own one of these creatures, but they need a lot of looking after and I’m very inexperienced so it’s not really fair for me to take this on.  I like to look at them though.

Then we spotted the Tardis:

I was pretty much ready to wet myself with excitement at this alone.  But the room had plenty more goodies.  There were Storm Troopers and a very good David Tennant Dr Who and the DALEKS!  One of which was roaming round shouting exterminate with charity box. This set off something in me and I had a proper moment.  I had to run away from it as it totally freaked me out.  You know when you have a fear of spiders and you spot one on the wall and have to keep checking where it is until your Other Half comes in with the glass and paper to get rid of it?  Yeah, I was doing that with the dalek. The stationary ones didn’t quite have the same effect:

We met k9, which she didn’t like.

The Toddler also didn’t mind delorean and even let us take her picture with Daddy in front of it.

Js L was in love with that car and kept going back for more.  She couldn’t leave it alone. We never would have pictured her as the Back to the Future type, but she is totally obsessed with those films and although she was apprehensive to begin with, she probably enjoyed the day as much if not more than the rest of us.
The other side of the hall housed a mini playable robot wars ring and a full sized house robot – Major damage:

Of course, the boys couldn’t resist having a go at the mini game:

I kept spotting things. It was total geeky organised chaos and I loved it.

We HAD to have our picture taken with the 7ft Darth Vader. I asked him where he wanted me for our pic and he said “Anywhere you like, I’m easy!”  However, at that point he must have touched The Toddlers hand because she freaked out and sadly the picture didn’t come out too well:

They had free roaming R2D2s built and exhibited by the R2D2 builders club:

And Cybermen:

We then we watched someone climb into one of the dalek and saw how it all worked. This made me much less scared and more full of awe. I love daleks. I’ve always loved them.

We took a break and I got my “feeding a baby on a park bench outside a convention while being watched by some weird guy” badge.

Back inside the room, there was a dalek on door. I decided to test my newfound confidence with them and the bastard sprayed me full in the face with water.

Part of the reptile exhibition that was had been purposefully avoiding were the giant spiders.  These are much less scary in real life than in pictures.  How can you be scared of something that’s covered in fur?  Ok, I wouldn’t touch them, but I got a lot closer to them than I would the big wood spiders we get in our house.  They were as big as a mans hand!  She kept saying “INCEY SPIDER!”  She likes spiders though. She’s been caught eating them and has already handed me the corpse of a spindly one.  She likes to poke them.
Optimus prime put in an appearance:

I kept being drawn to the daleks.  After speaking to one of the operators, we found out they were all fan built and took about 18 months to complete.  Most of them were able to be operated by both remote control and by sitting in them.

I’m going to just indulge myself and post some more pictures of them here:

See, I do love them.  A lot.  But not as much as our friend:

(The guy who owns this dalek was perfectly aware and happy that it was being snogged.  J promised not to use tongues.)

Welcome to GeekWeek

Something has been lost in translation. I used to be incredibly geeky. I would even go so far as to say nerdy, but being made redundant from my career, having babies, taking a job I thought was something it isn’t and then having my confidence repeatedly battered by said job has somewhat killed my enthusiasm.

Anyway, in order to make up for it and because some relatively geeky things have been going on recently, I thought I would dedicate this coming week to posts with a geeky twist. I’ll be posting about tech and geek activities from the perspective of a mum who now only uses the basic functionality of the internet. I also plead ignorance when anyone mentions their computer isn’t doing what it should be. I don’t have my finger on the pulse any more sadly. What I do have are opinions, a Twitter addiction and a blog.

It may or may not be a coincidence that I have timed this around the same time as my partner started his blog gaming at http://latexpoultry.wordpress.com