U.S.A. Without A Spaceflight Program? Absolutely Not!

With the recent ending of the Space Shuttle program, many have jumped to the conclusion that the United States is without a spaceflight program.  Not true.  So when is the next American launch to the Space Station?  Well, it’s only 4 Months away on Nov 30th. SpaceX will be launching it’s Dragon capsule to the International Space Station.  Considering that the average time between Shuttle Launches was 2.6 months, the time after the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger was 8 months, and the time after the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia was 29 months this is just a brief hiccup in the long spaceflight history of the U.S.A.While the Nov 30th flight was only planned as a demonstration, SpaceX officials have said “"If we're up there, we might as well take some stuff up and bring some stuff back down."  Another Dragon is officially set to bring more cargo  up to the I.S.S. 8 Months from now.  Orbital Science’s Cygnus capsule is also to start docking with the I.S.S. in December.and begin operations in early 2012. 

But you say that we don’t have any more Shuttles flying?  Not true!  The U.S. Air Force has been flying the X-37B since April 2010.  The second X-37B was completed and launched in March 2011 and is currently in orbit right now.  It’s considered a second-generation shuttle with improved thermal protection systems, advanced avionics and airframe, internal payload bay with robotic arm, a 270 day operational period in orbit, and autonomous guidance system. (Shown here on left inside it's nosecone fairing pre-launch for an Atlas V rocket) 

While all these orbiters are fully automatic and do not yet support human spaceflight,  SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is set for testing carrying twice as many passengers at 1/3rd the cost per passenger (compared to the Russian Soyuz) and will be ready in 2014.  That’s approximately 29 months. Which is the same time frame to get humans into orbit as after the Columbia disaster.  There’s also Virgin Galactic and XCOR (Both shown above) planning on launching commercial passengers in 2013 or 2014.  Don’t forget about Sierra Nevada Corp., Blue Origin, Excalibur Almaz and Boeing which are all developing their own crew carrying spacecraft to be operational by 2015. 

Here’s one thing that you aren’t hearing other countries talking about:  Space Stations.  We all know about the I.S.S., but what about after that?  Well, American based Bigelow Aerospace is planning to start launching it’s Commercial Space Station Alpha in 2014 followed by Bravo in 2018.  Alpha will have a pressurized volume of 1500 meters cubed compared to the I.S.S. volume of 1000 meters cubed and utilizes inflatable habitats that have already been tested in orbit. This technology uses a fabric that is twice the strength of Kevlar and is based on the cancelled I.S.S. Transhab project.  

Are we seeing America falling behind in the space launch and development sector?  No, just a re-tooling for a far brighter future that affords better access to space for less cost and is available to everyone.

Video: The Takabisha: World’s Steepest Rollercoaster

In July of 2011, The Takabisha, the world’s steepest rollercoaster was completed at Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park. Riders are subjected to a 141 foot freefall at 121 degrees. Below is a time lapse of its construction as well as a video from the front row. Hang on to your lunch!

“The ride starts with a sudden drop into pitch black darkness. It then does a 360-degree roll and the car is launched down a long tunnel at over 60 miles per hour. After a few loops, the cars reach a chain lift hill that carries the cars up to 141 feet. After slowly creeping forward, the car gets ready for its 121-degree, beyond-vertical drop. There are a few more loops and inversions, and the ride ends in just two minutes.” – geek.com

Battlefield Heroes Gets… Minecraft Shirts? Free This Weekend!

BFH-MCtshirt2BFH-MCtshirt1In what I’m praying to be a bizarre cross-promotion and not a prelude to Notch working for EA, free online multiplayer shooter Battlefield Heroes is offering 2 free Minecraft t-shirts to everyone who logs on this weekend. Royals get the Diamond Harness t-shirt while Nationals score the Creeper Sssssssshirt. Both of these new shirts are tagged as lasting forever, but you have to get them first!

To get your free Minecraft shirts, log into Battlefield Heroes, select My Stuff, then Rewards. Pick a character to receive the snazzy new duds.

Get some!

Review: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Spin-Off Manga Mahou Shoujo Kazumi Magica

Just look at this cover. We're in for a rough ride!Madoka and co. have set to the world on fire! The Blu-ray's have dominated Amazon, terrifying plushies are packed for shipping, and a full roster of Madoka figures are racking up pre-orders. Since the completion of the first series of Puella Magi / Mahou Shoujo, a freshly created, rabidly devoted fan base has been turned loose on the retail market with one thought in their minds: Consume!

Of course with only a scant 12 episodes and a mere half-dozen characters, the milking of Madoka can only go so far. What’s a money grubbing franchise rights holder to do? If you’re Aniplex, blindly authorize the first manga company to come knocking in hopes they can create some new characters suitable for the creation of figures and pillows. Houbunsha, publisher of Mahou Shoujo Kazumi Magica: The Innocent Malice, to the rescue!

Cheerful Japan Hatsune Miku Figma Pre-Orders Now Thru Aug.8 for Charity

Good Smile has begun taking international preorders for the latest in its line of charity figures to benefit the disaster struck communities of northern Japan. This month’s release is the Support version of everyone’s favorite CG J-Pop star, Hatsune Miku. Exclusive features in this set include a cheerful “support” face, pom-poms, and a Cheerful Japan! flag. It also includes singing and smiling faces, leeks, and the microphone w/stand from the original Figma release.

Cost of the figma Miku Hatsune: Support ver. is ¥3,000 (about $38.20 USD) with ¥2,000 shipping ($25.47 USD). ¥1,000 ($12.74) of each sale will be donated to relief efforts. Figures are made to order and expected to be delivered late November.

Nintendo Kisses Up to 3DS Early Adopters: 20 Free, Exclusive Games Including Zelda, Mario, and Metroid

Following news of a $80 price cut on the 3DS coming a mere 6 months after the system’s release early tech adopters and Nintendo’s most loyal fans are bound to be feeling a little peeved. Worry not Nintendudes! The house that Mario build wants you to know that they appreciate your support and plans to make it all good with 20(!) free downloadable games for your little 3D buddy.

Anyone who uses their 3DS to log into Nintendo’s eShop at least once before 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Aug. 11 will be automatically be registered in the “Nintendo 3DS Ambassador program”.

Nintendo of America’s press release details the program as follows:

  1. Starting Sept. 1, Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors will be able to download 10 NES™ Virtual Console™ games at no charge and before they are available in the Nintendo eShop to the general public. These games, including Super Mario Bros.™, Donkey Kong Jr.™, Balloon Fight™, Ice Climber™ and The Legend of Zelda™, are slated to become paid downloadable games, but Ambassadors get them early for free. Once the paid versions of the games are posted to the Nintendo eShop later in the year, the updated versions will be available to Ambassadors for download at no cost.
  2. By the end of 2011, Nintendo will provide Ambassadors with 10 Game Boy Advance Virtual Console games. These include games like Yoshi's Island™: Super Mario™ Advance 3, Mario Kart™: Super Circuit, Metroid™ Fusion, WarioWare™, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ and Mario vs. Donkey Kong™. These games will be available exclusively to Ambassadors, and Nintendo currently has no plans to make these 10 games available to the general public on the Nintendo 3DS in the future.
  3. More details about this program will be announced in the future.

There you have it! With heavy hitters suck as Zelda, Super Mario, Mario Kart, and Metroid on the list Nintendo may have actually made the their system more attractive to their fan base BEFORE the price drop. 20 free games including early releases and ports of GBA titles that will be unavailable any other way. Now how much would you pay? $80?

Nintendo 3DS Price Cuts on the Horizon

3dsNintendo has just announced that a round of price cuts are incoming for its newly released 3D handheld console. Effective August 12, suggested retail price of the 3DS in North America will be lowered from its launch price of $249.99 to $169.99. The new price will bring the glasses-free handheld more in line with the rest of Nintendo's DS family of handheld systems.

Timing of this announcement couldn't be better. Sales and critical reception of the 3DS has been less than stellar. With the 3DS' first holiday shopping season approaching, as well as the launch of anticipated titles such as Super Mario 3D Land in November, Mario Kart 7 in December, Nintendo stands a very good chance of reinvigorating its flagging handheld.

Last Call for Princess Mononoke DVDs in North America

Fans of Studio Ghibli have waited with baited breath for an announcement of Princess Mononoke being remastered for a Blu-ray release. Sadly, it looks like they are in for some bad news.

Princess Mononoke“In separate emails to each respective company, both Disney (through their Buena Vista Home Video Entertainment division) and Echo Bridge distribution, the former distributor for the defunct Miramax label have confirmed that the US license for Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke is no longer held by either company and has not been renewed,  greatly reducing the chances of a domestic home video re-release.”-via animenews.biz

When ANN contacted Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, they were referred to Lionsgate Films. Lionsgate stated they had "no current information on the release of this title."

While it is not beyond reason to expect either studio to renew the expired license, it is also equally probable that the US distribution rights may simply be let go. It is no secret that the anime market in America has been, shall we say, a little soft for some time now. Regardless of the outcome, without an official blessing from Disney/Miramax/Buena Vista/WhoeverTheHeckOwnsItNow, the theatrical English dub track will not be included even if there is a re-release.

If you are looking to pick up a copy of the original DVD release, they are going for about $19-$26.

EA vs. Valve’s Steam : Round 2 : Dragon Age 2 Pulled from Store

ea-vs-steam-300x112In round 2, Dragon Age 2 has been removed from Valve’s digital distribution platform, Steam. While neither of the big boys have had a chance to comment yet, the removal coincides with the release of the Dragon Age 2: Legacy expansion pack.
Dragon Age 2 is still available via Direct2Drive, GamersGate (in the UK or US for Mac), and EA’s own digital shop, Origin.

Once again these two companies clash over control of your information. Gamers stomp, whine and “suffer” about not getting their way completely ignorant of the real stakes on the line as we steam headlong into the era of the “social” web.

For my full thoughts on this matter, as well as a crash course on the real economics of gathering and selling your personal information, check out EA vs. Steam : The Battle of Crysis 2 - The War to Sell You, The Latest Company to Sell Off Your Personal Information? Your Bank, as well as Zynga and Facebook. 

Dragon Age 2: Legacy: $10. Locking you in to a real time demographics engine? Priceless.

Free Online Game League of Legends Growing Into a League of Its Own. LoL!

League of Legends which was released in October of 2009 is quickly growing to be one of the most popular internet games.  They recently hit the 15 Million user mark with 4 Million logging in to play per month and half a Million simultaneously.  This shows tremendous growth for the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA)  for PC gamers developed by Riot Games

Deal: Pay What You Want for 6 Game ‘Humble Indie Bundle’ (Windows Mac Linux)

The Humble Indie Bundle is back! Since the launch of the program, Humble Bundle, inc. has gone on to raise over $1 million dollars for charity thanks to your help. This year’s line up includes Crayon Physics Deluxe, Cogs, VVVVVV, Hammerfight, and And Yet It Moves. As with the previous Humble Bundles, these games are available for Mac, Windows, and Linux systems, are DRM-free, and include Steam codes.

*edit* Starting now, if you purchase the bundle, you will get a pass to play Minecraft for free until August 14th. Pretty cool stuff.

*edit2* Now includes Steel Storm: Burning Retribution as well!

*edit3* Now also includes Atom Zombie Smasher. Pay over the average price ($5.70) and get the Humble Bundle 2 games as well (Braid, Cortex Command, Osmos, Revenge of the Titans, and Machinarium – All awesome!)

While I am not familiar with all of the titles in this year’s bundle (game time seems to get shorter as BG gets bigger), I can vouch for Crayon Physics. It is a wonderful, Rube Goldberg styled physics puzzler where you draw in parts to push a ball into a basket. Crayon Physics is worth an easy $20 on its own, especially considering the cause.

No Eulogy for Borders Books

Big box book business Borders been buried. I couldn’t care less.

In both my real life and virtual one I have recently heard remarks about what a shame it is that retail book giant Borders is no more. This mystifies me to no end. I’ll admit that I haven’t been a book consumer since I was a kid, but to lament the demise of a large, warehouse styled retailer in any specialty market practically draws a question mark over my head.

Nintendo 3DS Video Service Launches With 3D Movie Trailer, Original Content

Nintendo Video is now available via the 3DS’ eShop in The United States. This new video app follows hot on the heels of the 3DS version of Netflix and will allow streaming of 3D video content directly to the big N’s latest handheld. Now you can enjoy such 3D video fare as the Captain America movie trailer in 3D as well as… um, this:





Nintendo states that they have plans to offer more movie trailers, music videos, sports clips, and “exclusive Nintendo content.” Some of the content scheduled for the next few weeks involve videos from OK Go and The Blue Man Group as well as videos from viral video foundry College Humor.

Xbox.com Adds Flash Based Bejeweled, Plants vs. Zombies for… Who?

newspaper zombieGeek.com is reporting that Microsoft has added 4 titles from the Popcap library of digital crack. Bejeweled 3, Text Twist 2, Zuma, and Plants vs. Zombies are now available at Xbox.com for the low, low price of free.

Which is fitting as these are simply the demo versions. Demo versions wrapped in generous amounts of Adobe Flash featuring a streaming commercial you’re forced to watch before you play. And watch again after every few levels. At least you won’t see the ad too terribly many time as these are, after all, demos with limited levels and a single game mode available. It won’t take long before you are face-to-face with a ‘Buy the Full Version’ kill screen.

So… yeah. Next time you’re craving some jewel busting and have a device that runs Flash heavy games, doesn’t have access to Facebook, and never had a version of Bejeweled ported to it, like the… um… dot, dot, dot…whatever, think of… Xbox.com?

Seriously, can somebody just jump out and yell April Fools already and stop the pain in my membrane!

Xbox.com, your source for Flash demos of casual games.

Just back from a second round of pediatric visits. Pediatric's office is now using iPad 2s with capacitive pens. Cool stuff!

BG has bronchitis. Egad, I've written bronchitis so many times on this blog that I spell it right now!  You ever live with a toddler on steroids? Imagine if you had a Klingon with a tribble stuck up its ass as a roommate...

Fun Fact: Klingon is in Chrome's spell checker. LOL. Google nerds...

New Hubble Pictures Find Pluto Has Another Moon

Pluto, which has been demoted as the 9th planet to merely another minor planet in 2006 has been found to have another moon.  This brings the total amount of moons to 4.  Recently Pluto was found to have more moons than just Charon, now named Nix and Hydra.  This most recent moon will not be named until it’s orbit has been more closely observed but is now known only as S/2011(134340).

This will be a boon to the New Horizons project which has already launched a probe to Pluto which will be arriving in the year 2015. The New Horizons probe is currently half-way to Pluto at the moment.   Now that we know about the new moon, we should be able to get close up pictures when the New Horizons probe does a fly-by of the Minor Planet.  This new moon is only thought to be 8-21 miles in diameter in comparison to Hydra and Mix being 20-70 miles in diameter and Charon being about 750 miles in diameter. 

Free MMO Need for Speed World Races Through the 5 Million User Mark

Need for Speed World has recently surpassed the 5 Million user mark.  That’s great considering that the game only launched last summer.  NFS World was created from the streets of NFS: Most Wanted and NFS: Carbon seamlessly merged together and there is more road planned to be released in the next year.  That’s incredible considering that there is already over 150 miles of streets available now. 

Adult Ausie Gamers Rejoice! R18+ Game Rating Coming!

Australians have had it bad when it comes for “mature” content in video games. With a government mandated rating system and the lack of a “adult” rating, such as the ESRB’s M rating in the US or PEGI 18 in the UK, games with violent or sexual content that was excessive by Australia's 15+ rating were denied classification and could not be sold in the country. Over the years this has led to an extraordinary number of titles that ended up “banned” in the country due to the fact that there was no rating to give them.

Those days may finally be coming to an end as ABC News is reporting that state and federal governments have finally, after lengthy debate, agreed to institute a R18+ ratings category for video games. This will surely come as welcome news not just to gamers, but game makers as well. Previously publishers had to overhaul titles to vast degrees in order to pass as a 15+ rated game. One such recent notable situation occurred with Valve’s zombie shooter Left 4 Dead 2, which had not only its gore removed, but entire gameplay mechanics and enemy types.

Domestic Domesticism

The Mrs. brought BG home early today. It seems BG popped a 102 degree temp at pre-school today. She's been hacking some since she came home from visitation. Of course, with an asthmatic baby, she's always hacking some. Her temp was fine this morning (we check A LOT), but I should have known something was up. She was far too agreeable ;) We spent darn near 3 hours driving to and fro this evening getting the baby inspected and medicated.

Tomorrow's gonna be quite an adventure! Gonna have to get the Mrs. back and forth for her blood treatment with a sick two year old riding shotgun. Then there's the gal's busted immune system to worry about all weekend. Ah, the unsung trials of being a domestic hero. Well... not unsung here. My domestic chaos is the very foundation of Growing Up Otaku, LOL.

Speaking of growing up geeky, BG has taken a shine to a beach towel and has been toting it with her whenever we go out. I'm pretty sure she knows something I don't. Something involving Vogons bulldozing Earth ;)

Good Smile Unveils Puella Magi Madoka Magica Figma, Nendoroid, and Nendoroid Petites Figures

My money… All of it… Take now… Yes, I will sign that damn contract already! Gimme!

figma 鹿目まどかねんどろいど 巴マミ

The Video Game Console of Tomorrow is No Console at All

It has been a big day for game news here at GUO! If you look over our content today, you can’t help but come to one conclusion: The days of a dedicated video game system are numbered. When Call of Duty becomes the biggest entertainment launch in history and then breaks that record the following year, you know that gaming has arrived as the medium people want to spend their leisure time with. Zynga’s numbers don’t lie. Games are a multi-billion dollar, world wide industry and everyone is going after a piece of it. Content is King, and now content is everywhere.

Advances in in miniaturization and computer technology has given us the ability to put small, low power, blazing fast processors in everything from televisions to telephones. WiFi and cellular service allows cordless, hassle free connections to the Internet. When playing high end video games is as easy as changing a channel and your cell phone plays World of Warcraft styled MMOs, why even consider spending $300+ on yet another power guzzling box with more cables?

Sure, dedicated console systems will hang around for a while, fueled by hit franchises and fanboy fervor. Eventually they will be relegated to the ‘hardcore’ niche, much like what has happened with the ‘hardcore’ PC gaming crowd. Once that happens, Sony and Microsoft will likely notice that the billions of dollars it takes to design and produce these machines simply cannot be recouped by a niche audience. They’ll drop out of the hardware market and Xbox Live will become just another icon on your television between Gameloft and Netflix.

3DS Software Canceled and Delayed : Is the 3DS Nintendo’s Sinking Ship?
Onlive Online Gaming with a $150 Netbook using WiFi : Consoles? We Don’t Need No Stinking Consoles!
New Roku Media Streamer will Have Motion Controls and Angry Birds

New Roku 2 Media Streamer Has Motion Controls and Angry Birds

The Roku box has been a geek-tastic addition to home theater setups for a couple of years now. The improvement in their latest devices sport all the usual bullet points you’d expect from iterative design: higher resolutions, more services, and a smaller footprint. What no one could have predicted was the addition of a Bluetooth remote that pulls double duty as a Wii Remote styled motion controller.

Initially launching with mass-market favorite Angry Birds, Roku plans to continue to roll out more unannounced games for its device after launch. The Roku Game Remote will come with the Roku 2 XS ($100) and will be available separately soon after with a 2GB MicroSD card for $29.

Check out TechCrunch for all the details of the upcoming Roku 2 systems or buy one now directly from Roku (complete with a 30 day money back guarantee!)

Onlive Online Gaming with a $150 Netbook using WiFi : Consoles? We Don’t Need No Stinking Consoles!

GrowingUpOtaku.com is back with a second look at the Onlive cloud based video gaming service. In the last video we looked at how Onlive worked using the hardware designed by and for the Onlive service. Today we roll our own!

Gape in as we as we take a 4 year old Eee-PC 900 netbook and attempt to run the games Split/Second, Red Faction: Guerilla, and, current PC benchmarking darling, Metro 2033.

Is it possible to replace $300 video game consoles and $800+ ‘Gaming PCs’ with some old piece of junk lying around? Join us on our lulzy quest to find out!

An extended look at Metro 2033 on this same system can be found here:

Our unboxing and demo of the Onlive Micro Console is here:

3DS Software Canceled and Delayed : Is the 3DS Nintendo’s Sinking Ship?

mario sinking shipIt is obvious that the 3DS, Nintendo’s glasses-free 3D follow up to the wildly successful Nintendo DS line of handhelds,  has had a rocky start. Launching at $250 USD, more than double the price of current DS models, the 3DS has been a disappointment at retail since launch. Currently sales remain slow with older DS models outselling it 2 to 1.

Free MMO Sid Meier’s Civ World takes over Facebook

Sid Meier, developer of such games as the Civilization series, Alpha Centauri, and Colonization has done it again with Civ World.  This time he is branching his outstanding series of Civilization games into Facebook’s Social media network.  Unlike most Facebook games, this one can be won!  While most Facebook games simply have a ranking based upon the player’s experience, Civ World will grant the player Fame points which are earned by completing various objectives.  This will determine the ranking of the player against the 99 other players in each game. Like other Civ titles, you can expect Civ World to take many days to finish a single game.

I have to say that this is probably the most intricate Facebook game available.  It actually incorporates all of the elements of the Civilization series.  You can expect to grow food to increase population and to allocate that population to produce more farming, production, science, money and culture.  Each of these can also be earned through mini-games played against other players. Armies can be produced, or bought in the game’s variable trading economy.  Wars can be waged against other independent players, or against alliances of players playing together as one of the Civilization nations.

If this game didn’t suffer from the crippling slowness due to playing through Adobe Flash, I might think that this is Firaxis’ new full price MMO Civ game. However, it’s completely free unless you want to partake in the micro-transaction scheme so familiar to other Facebook games.  I’m sure that Sid Meier is greedily rubbing his hands together knowing that you can eventually spend thousands of dollars to get an advantage over your fellow players, not just a measly one time purchase of $60. Well done, Mr. Meier - finally a Facebook game that blows away the Farmville and Mafia Wars clones.

Madoka Magica Outro Song “Magia” Covered by Male Utauloid Duet

You are not gonna believe what I just stumbled upon! Well, you will if you read the title, but still! It’s like this crazy fusion of a half-dozen posts from this month with a fresh coat of originality and talent!

It’s like GUO’s own Double Rainbow!

LulzSec: Still Crazy After All These Weeks

It’s been less than a month since Lulz Security (lulzsec) called it quits. While their Twitter feed never entirely went quiet, it seemed as if the Dementoes of DDOS had tired of the spotlight and sailed off. Things certainly seemed a little strange on Sunday night when @lulzsec roared back to life. My brief conversation with The Mrs. went a little something like this:

“Huh. LulzSec is Tweeting again. A lot.”

“Really? What about?”

“They seem to be doing a running commentary about a car chase on TV.”

“Um… Okay. You saw that double rainbow, too.”

“Yeah. Twitter’s gonna Fail Whale for sure. Something big is up.”Murdochcropped

It was of little surprise to watchers today when the website for tabloid newspaper The Sun was redirected to a false story reporting the death of owner Rupert Murdoch. Later, The Sun was directed to LulzSec’s own Twitter feed. Obviously, this little prank is the tip of the iceberg. LAN admins at The Sun will probably not have a clue as to the true extent of the breach until their user data shows up on the Internet. LulzSec is claiming to have also “wrecked” News International’s DNS servers. If pattern follows, look for a torrent upload in the near future with x-thousand usernames and passwords from Murdoch’s media empire.

lulz-proxseasAs to the reason of Lulz Boat’s return? LulzSec tweets:

“Thank you for the love tonight. I know we quit, but we couldn’t sit by with our wine watching this walnut-faced Murdoch clowning around.”

Maybe those hundreds of thousands of “professional” reporters who unfollowed Lulz Security’s Twitter immediately after they announced an end to their campaign will get a wake up call. Egads… This Is Internet! Get it or get off!
Personally, I’d prefer the latter. The ‘Net makes us all reporters. All they do these days is dumb it down and tart it up to sell commercials. We don’t need you anymore. “Professionals” indeed!

Tangent? What tangent? Today we celebrate the return of chaos and spectacle. Low Orbit Ion Cannon fire!

Deep Breath In… and Say “Super Cute Ice Cream Cake Hello Kitty Hard Cover for iPhone 4”

SuperCuteIceCreamCakeHelloKittyHardCoverforiPhone4Yes, the “Super Cute Ice Cream Cake Hello Kitty Hard Cover for iPhone 4” is actually listed as the “Super Cute Ice Cream Cake Hello Kitty Hard Cover for iPhone 4”. Just kinda rolls off the tongue. Marketing is proud.

It’s easy to see how some folks would want to add a little razzle-dazzle to the monolithic black slab of an iPhone. Rather than forcing those people to sit, Clockwork Orange style, through Steve Jobs lecturing on the beautiful metal band around the edge (which you MUST NEVER TOUCH lest it drop your call), perhaps they might fancy the SCICCHKHC4I4 That wasn’t any easier to type Sad smile.

…And, really, what more is there to say? It’s super cute, made of hard plastic, has Hello Kitty, looks like an ice cream cake, and fits the iPhone 4. Maybe the fact that all of those super cute bumps an baubles are guaranteed to wreak havoc on your pockets, purses,  paws, and posteriors? What’s a little stigmata compared the joy of putting a super cute Hello Kitty faux ice cream cake hard cover on your iPhone 4?

Surprisingly lacking in the product name is the fact you can get this from SourceSquare for $20.

OMG! It’s So Beautiful!

Just had a big-ass thunderstorm (BATS) finish up here. Went outside for a smoke and-

Meme-tasticly good Internet omen.

Make Your Own Miku Vocaloid for Free With Utau

Wanna build your own Hatsune Miku without spending a dime? Boy, oh boy, do I have a deal for you!

There is an open source project that, just like Yamaha’s Vocaloid software, pieces together a sound bank based on the human voice and allows your PC to sing like the synthetic diva it always dreamed of becoming. You can get the shareware software direct from the author’s blog here (fully functional, no expiration, donations appreciated).

There is one tiny little catch: It’s all in Japanese. Don’t Panic!™ Internet’s got your back! Google can translate the site just fine and tireless fan Onkr over at Utau Wiki has translated the user guide into English.

Utau Wiki also contain repositories of voicebanks, character art, and tips for rolling your own virtual idol. Now if we could only get the word out to all those people signing over their dreams to Piapro and Crypton Future Media.


How To: Bulk Change Post Labels in Blogger

Setting up labels for your blog to classify content you have not even thought of creating yet takes more than a little foresight. I find that predicting the future is a task best left to the divine, the charlatans, or the Magic 8-Ball. Sadly, I find myself lacking the characteristics of any of these. Thus, when confronted with the task of re-labeling the postings of a four year long blogging journey I found myself doing the only thing a mortal, honest, non-round man could do: I made an excuse to put it off until later.

No more! Today we confront the beast! Why today? Because I’m about to share with you a technique for changing Blogger’s labels quickly and easily.

Anime: Deadman Wonderland–Season 1 Final Thoughts

Deadman Wonderland begins with our protagonist, Ganta Igarashi, settling down in class. He is your average Japanese student in an average Japanese anime setup. He likes the girl who sits in front of him, but is afraid to speak up. Ganta has a charming, loud mouthed buddy by his side to ride his case. While daydreaming out the window, he spies a floating figure in a red cloak. Zap! Ganta’s classroom is hit with a beam of mystic energy that knocks him unconscious and we know he will awaken with some kind of superpower. This marks the last occasion when our lazy anime assumptions will be correct for quite some time.
deadman Wonderland

Free MMO World of Tanks rolls over Russia

World of Tanks, described by it's creators as a "Huge mixture of genres including Global Scale MMO, FPS, RPG, RTS, and Simulator." has recently conquered Russia as the leading MMO game in that region. W.O.T. having a 3 Million user subscription base is in the top 10 largest global games, recently having 125,000 players all playing on the same server at one time.

Jello-RAM Paves the Way for T-1000

from the NCSU Newsroom:

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a memory device that is soft and functions well in wet environments – opening the door to a new generation of biocompatible electronic devices.

“We’ve created a memory device with the physical properties of Jell-O,” says Dr. Michael Dickey, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research.

Ya know, if there is one thing I've always hated about RAM, it was the fact that it never jiggled when I touched it. Thanks goodness that problem is a thing of the past!

Seriously though, this is the first prototype of a new memory module that can be completely immersed in water or even the human body. Or lime flavored liquid metal machines bent on our extermination.
Well, here I am again mooching off of hospital wifi. At least the iPad has a netbook sized keyboard on it! Don't worry, this is all according to plan. We are here for the first of The Mrs's blood treatments. We've been here an hour and they haven't even started yet. Fun times...

To add insult to injury (strike that, reverse it), I twisted/tore my back yesterday taking BG out of the car, was flu-ish sick by night, and couldn't sleep... Fun times.

iPad autocomplete/autocorrect sure is better than The Pod. They just started! Let the good drugs flow!

*edit 10:30am. Ugh, blogging on an iPad... In a smoke free hospital zone. Just...ugh.

*edit 12:00. Home again! 4+hrs. No Tea. No cigs. Numb butt. Done. At least until next Friday. Only 7 more weeks to go... The Mrs. is doing fine, but knocked out from the IV benadryl. Gettin' her fed and napped. No complications for a change!

Welcoming Our New Reporter!

We have multiple "U"s here at GUO, so I figured we should pick up an extra "G" and "O". Warmest welcome to The Great One, the first flesh and blood addition to the Growing Up Otaku family.

How's this gonna work? No differently. I made a J. Jonah Jameson jr. joke when I brought him on board and he delivered a first look at the new Spider Man movie. I think that says more than I ever could ;)

Early web details of "The Amazing Spider Man"

Well, it seems that 2012 isn't just the apocalypse - it's also the release of a new Spider Man movie. Forget about the last 3 movies this is a new Spider Man cast starring Andrew Garfield, who shared the 2007 London Theatre Critics Circle Most Promising Newcomer Award. He's also known for his performances in The Social Network, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus and Never Let Me Go. Apparently Toby Maguire, star of the last 3 movies, got out of the Marvel's web. Also on the cast roster is Dennis Leary and Irrfan Khan as the Proto-Goblin. Emma Stone is replacing Bryce Dallas Howard as the romantic interest of Spider Man for this movie. We'll have to wait and see if all these cast changes will doom the franchise, ala "Batman", or if the new cast can improve on the already proven cash earning series. Also added to the series is 3D! Hopefully there won't be actors flying out of the rafters as in the Broadway adaptation. Stan Lee, founder of the Spider Man series known for his onscreen cameos might just make it into this movie after not being in the latest X-Men First Class. He was quoted via Twitter "Warriors mine, grieve thee not that I have no cameo in X-Men 1st Class. ‘Tis just that the movie was filmed too far away for me to attend"

Nintendo 3DS Gets Netflix in North America

370004-3dnetflix_superJust like your consoles, TVs, DVD players, phones, and PCs, Netflix has arrived for your 3DS! Check out the eShop for your copy of the free app and remember to keep that AC adapter handy. Battery life on the 3DS really kinda sucks!

Personally, I’m holding out until Netflix starts streaming to my tea pot!

Internet: My Favorite Melting Pot

globalunityI adore having the world at my fingertips! My television comes from Japan; My music from France; 35% of my readers from the UK; My news from around the world; And, during tonight’s Onlive session, an eight year old and his brother shrieked and giggled in excitement from Brazil while I blasted my way through a Marauder base.

We call America the melting pot, but it is cyberspace that truly allows to know and understand each other.

They also wanted to know if I played Club Penguin Smile

Video: Star Wars Metal Mashup - A Jedi DOES crave these things

I’m also rather fond of ERock’s reimagined Pokemon theme!

The Latest Company to Sell Off Your Personal Information? Your Bank

Chicago Tribune and CNN Money are reporting:

“Many of the nation's leading banks and card issuers, including Wells Fargo, Citi, Sovereign Bank and Discover, are selling information about consumers' shopping habits -- how much they spend, where they shop and what they buy -- to retailers.”

Apparently disturbing my dinner once a week to peddle life insurance, upping ATM transaction fees, and eliminating checking account interest rates just didn’t make enough money. Now they’re going all Facebook on your data.
… and CITIBANK! SERIOUSLY?! The people who decided to wait a month after being hacked to tell everyone they had been violated to the tune of 200,000 credit card customer’s profiles? Now they want that information AND your shopping habits to be sold to the highest bidder who, I’m sure, has been verified to have the very highest degree of cyber security. You know, like Epsilon.

One Less Indie: EA Buys PopCap

Like Plants vs. Zombies? Well, there is probably a whole lot more coming your way. Most likely along with exclusive DLC, comic books, cheap Korean anime, and Sex.

Crunchgear is reporting that the plans for mega publisher and sequel factory EA has finalized the deal to purchase beloved independent Bejeweled publisher PopCap.

“The acquisition price is $650 million plus $100 million stock and a multi-year earn-out. The total acquisition price is as much as $1.3 billion.”

Video: Onlive Cloud Gaming Console-Unboxing, Setup, and Demo. Like a Review, but Not

Join Growing Up Otaku's Managing Editor Krutzler (For realz! Not a CG puppet!) for an "impromptu unboxing" of the Onlive MicroConsole.

This honest, uncensored, barely edited video takes a look at the Onlive cloud based video game console starting with opening the Fed-Ex box and climaxing with some Red Faction: Guerrilla gameplay.

I have attempted to provide every technical detail I could think of in this video. Subtitles are used liberally throughout to correct errors, misconceptions, fill in blanks, and provide the odd laugh or two. Behold as the snark of GUO is turned inward on itself. Meta!

Run time is just over 38minutes. I hope you enjoy watching!

If you have any other questions, check out Onlive.com, Onlivefans.com, or just ask away in the comments.

*In support of this video (and because I think Onlive is one of the coolest things to happen to gaming since SVGA graphics), I will try to be on Onlive every night from 9:30PM to 10:30PM EDT in July 2011. My ID is ryte2byte  You can watch and berate me using the free client for PC, Mac, or iPad.

Crowdsourcing Racism: Open Call to Redesign Hatsune Miku for America

AM MikuToyota has already taken a stab at whitewashing the synthetic Japanese pop star, now Miku’s managers and the San Francisco J-Pop Summit Festival 2011 wants the Internet to take a shot at it.

In an amazing twist of logic, San Francisco Japantown is running a contest for netizens to submit their own art for a redesigned version of Hatsune Miku for use on Japantown’s street-banner and merchandise using the theme… “Hope for Japan’s Recovery.”

The contest is sponsored by Piapro, a web site created by Crypton Future Media, developer of the Miku Vocaliod. Piapro was setup by Crypton in order to skirt Japanese copyright laws and automatically grants the use of all uploaded content to Crypton Future Media. Piapro’s site is entirely in Japanese and the official contest rules refer interested parties to a fan created YouTube video for completing registration. Classy…

The grand prize “winner” will get a round trip ticket to San Francisco, loss of all rights to their creation, and will probably end up on the short list of people to call for Photoshopping renaissance art books to boost sales in the South America.

Baby Update

I was just looking over the latest batch of paperwork for the court case. It looks like there is a “review” on the 14th. All Chloe’s parents have to do is provide some pay stubs and rental receipts and they are home free. It seems that Big Bend, the private company hired by Florida to take kids away, have juiced them for all the classes they could afford and are cutting ‘em loose. No point in protecting kids if there is no money to be made, right?

Maybe I could pick up a job as a ghost writer for their new book.
Egads. Choking on my own sarcasm here…

6th Planet–Hybrid Video Game / e-Comic for iPhone - Free on iTunes Today

Featuring gameplay reminincent of the arcade classic Lunar Lander and a comic book story line with a monkey exploring Saturn to save Earth, 6th Planet is available free of charge on iTunes today.

I have not invested enough time into 6th Planet to make an informed opinion, but I wanted to get the word out while this one was on the freebie list. What I can say is that it has gorgeous artwork, a nice trance soundtrack, good ol’ arcade gameplay, is free today, and stars A MONKEY! What more do you really need to know?

Here is the official trailer:

Hack Your Real Life

I absolutely ADORE Lifehacker.com! They’re always full of real world cheats, repurposing tips, and flat out common sense. You’ve probably read an article or 2 from there if you use GUO’s newsfeed (or whatever I changed the name to) in the sidebar.

Today they’ve posted a nice little recap of some of their best tips. If you’ve got some pare time, I’d recommend checking out their Top 10 Real World Easter Eggs and Cheat Codes article for hints on finding lost money, cutting out hold times, and ordering food not listed on the menu among other great tips.

They also have a weekly show on one of my favorite online video networks, Revision3.

State of the Blog Address 7/8/2011

computer-fireIt’s dark and rainy here. Again. The perfect day for a little fireside chat!

I'm late on getting the new GUO Digest up. I'm a little disappointed in the content from last month, so it's kinda depressing to sift through.

Virtual Idol week sure was fun though! I don't know what to make of this phenomenon. Is it art? Marketing? Are they not the same? Is it okay to change the art per region? What about the legion of artists and technicians that make every Idol function? Is this the next big thing or Funky Japanese Fad #63? I sure don't have the answers. Love it, hate it, or ignore it, I still think it is a fascinating phenomenon to watch! Sci-Fi (SyFy?) is Today!

Before Halo, There Was Marathon. Now Free for iPad.

Marathon1ipadThe original Macintosh FPS game Marathon started developer Bungie on the road to stardom that would culminate with the Halo trilogy for Xbox. Now, the superfan Daniel Blezek has ported the  original source code to Apple’s iPad… for FREE! There are a couple of in app purchases to enhance the experience, such as a $4 hi-res texture pack or a $1 “Master Chief” cheat mode, but the original Mac game, complete with all 27 levels and 7 weapons, is available via iTunes for the low, low price of gratis. Even better, Bungie has officially endorsed Daniel’s work. Retro gamers rejoice!