Merry Christmas from the Cast and Crew to You

As is tradition here at Growing Up Otaku, we turn to the Internet’s favorite troubadour, Jonathan Coulton, as he checks in with the residents of Chiron Beta Prime.

From all of us at GUO to you, Happy Holidays! We love you!

Remember, it could always be worse Winking smile

For more holiday hijinks, check out these features:

Santa Prepares for World Tour with CISR Haptically-Enabled Universal Motion Simulator
Christmas Light Display as Video Game
Fan Made Original Star Wars Trilogy Christmas Cards
Stop the Spread of Holiday Cheer with Garden Gnome Carnage
World’s Oldest Christmas Recording Now Available Thanks to Digital Transfer
The 12 Geeks of Christmas (Decorations)
Crafty Christmas
A Festival of Geeky Christmas Lights

And out newest feature: Santa Ready for Takeoff!

Get SimCity 2000 for Free from Origin

simCity2000Widely praised as the best (or at least fan-favorite) of the Sim City games, Sim City 200: Special Edition is being given away for free! Grab it directly from EA’s Origin service.

While you’re at Origin, you may want to check their New Year’s Doorbuster sale going on for the next couple of days. New games like Dragon Age and Sims4 are $20 off and there are a few other tempting deals like Titanfall for $10 (Scratch that. GameStop has Titanfall for $5!).

In the 21st Century, We’re Tracking EVERYONE : NORAD Santa Tracker is Live!

norad santa trackerIt’s Christmas Eve and  the North American Aerospace Defense Command  is on full alert! Today’s aerospace anomaly? An portly old man has been sighted circling the Earth in, of all anachronistic things, a flying sleigh. It get weirder! The sleigh appears to be powered by a squadron of nine flying reindeer. This target has thus far proven too fast to be intercepted by any known means. The unidentified flying object, now dubbed SANTA,  appears to be carpet bombing the planet with packages ranging from Hello Kitty dolls to socks stuffed with coal.

Is this the end of civilization as we know it? Almost assuredly! And thanks to the Internet, you can watch it live from the comfort of you own PC at NORADsanta.org.

Play Santa Ready for Takeoff! | My Christmas Game

Happy Holidays, Otakuteers! I baked you up something special this year. Don’t worry, you can unwrap it early. Enjoy my latest experiment in crafting digital toys, "Santa Ready for Takeoff!”

It's Christmas eve and Santa is ready for takeoff!  There's just one problem: The Elves forgot to clean up after their snowman building competition!

Help Santa steer the sleigh and knock down snowmen to give Rudolph enough time to reach 88 clippity-clops per second to get airborne.

Download for Windows: Installer or Zip

Play in your browser

Have a wonderful holiday season! We love you! Thanks for playing!

Top 5 Games to Make You Feel Thankful

It’s American Thanksgiving and we’re rounding up 5 gaming titles that will remind you just how good you’ve got it.

5) Cart Life : Dysfunctional Food Stand Sim

cartlife3You wasted all morning waiting in the wrong line to get your business permit. Now you’re number 12 in, hopefully, the correct line. The problem is that you need to pick up your daughter from school in a half-hour. Do you let your ex pick up the kid, knowing that he’s looking for anything to help his case in the upcoming custody trial, or write off this whole day wasted at the license office knowing that the rent is due at the end of the week. And we haven’t even started with the misery of running a hot dog stand!

Be thankful: You’ve got the time and money to sit on your butt reading dumb Tops lists on the Internet.

Get it for free from http://www.richardhofmeier.com/cartlife/

4) Papers, Please : Totalitarian Paperwork Simulator

gaming-papers-please-3The security guard assigned to your border crossing post following a terrorist attack told you about his fiancé coming through this morning. She just showed up. Naturally, her travel papers are not in order. Do you turn away the lover of the man who’s job it is to guard your life or let her through knowing that every illegal entry reduces your paycheck and your son is sick and needs medicine?

Be thankful: Your job’s paperwork won’t lead to someone being sent to a Russian prison. Or executed..

Get it for $10 from http://papersplea.se/

3) Telltale’s The Walking Dead : Zombie Apocalypse Adventure

The-Walking-Dead-Episode-1-A-New-Day-PC-Screenshot-1Food supplies have run out. You are down to four snack bars. Who do you give them to? The kids? The old folks? The people posted to watch over your motel turned makeshift fortress? And what about that new kid who came to camp? He says it’s just a cut, but could it be a zombie bite?

Be thankful: The dead don’t walk, you’ve never had to crush someone’s skull with a cinder block, or cut off your own arm.

Get it for $25 from http://www.telltalegames.com/walkingdead/season1/ or your favorite mobile app store.

2) This War of Mine : Modern War Survivor Manager

gaming-this-war-of-mine-03Your neighbor tipped you off to an unguarded supply drop last week. Sneaking across the blasted ruins of your once great city, you found the cache and returned home with a fresh supply much needed food and water. Today, the remnants of your nation’s authority are knocking on your door. They’re offering a generous cache of cigarettes and coffee to any information leading to the mole. Do you squeal on your neighbor for the goodies or keep your mouth shut in the hopes he sniffs out another cache to raid? If he doesn’t point the finger at you first, that is!

Be thankful: You haven’t been bombed for a year and forced to race your fellow survivors for the right pick through the wreckage in the hopes of food.

Get it for $20 from http://www.11bitstudios.com/games/16/this-war-of-mine

1) Oregon Trail

Oregon_Trail_DOS_04The weather is turning cold, you just used up your last spare wagon axle, and a thief stole your clothes in the middle of the night. It’s a bloody miracle that Americans settled the western United Sates!

Be thankful: You have indoor plumbing, access to automobiles, and no idea what dysentery is.

Get it… Well, on every system at every price point for the past 43(!) years.  Let me Google that for you.

GUO Halloween Roundup

HappyHalloween-300x300We’ve done a ton of Halloween features here at GUO. It’s the Mrs.’ favorite holiday, after all! If your looking for some last minute dinner ideas, paper crafting activities, gaming, or just like looking at pictures of carved gourds, check out these articles from our spooky days of yore!


Have a Papercrafty Halloween!
A Gaggle of Ghastly and Geeky Gourds for Halloween
5 Scary Good Games for Halloween You Never Heard of
Need Dinner for Halloween? Try Spaghetti and Oozing Eyeballs!
Hello Kitty All Dolled Up for Halloween
The Scariest Story Ever Told (in Psychonauts)
Lego Zombie Apocalypse — Bricks and Brains
Star Trek's Q Reads The Raven and Giant Pumpkin Smashes Car

and, of course,

Play My New Game: I Hate Halloween

Happy Halloween! We terrify you!

"I Hate Halloween” Now Available for Android & Kindle Fire Phones and Tablets | Dreams Come True

h8halloween eggzactly-mobileAlmost immediately after release, I was hit with the inevitable question game developers must face in this age of pocket computers: “Can I get it on my phone?” What was to be the start of a much craved respite morphed into yet another crazy code-a-thon as work began on the touchscreen version of “I Hate Halloween”.

I was worth it. Both myself and The Unpaid Intern immediately agreed that the touch version of “I Hate Halloween” was THE version to play. Holding the adorable, cartoon world in your hands on the frantic holiday battle to save your home’s new paint job was true treat!

Check it out now on Google Play for Android phones and tablets running version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later.

Here it is on Amazon's AppStore for all Kindle Fire Phones and Tablets except the original, 1st generation Fire.

Continue past the page jump for more on the formerly secret Project H8Hal saga!

Play My New Game: I Hate Halloween (v1.1 Update)

It’s Halloween and the Trick-or-Treaters are coming! They want candy and are prepared to egg your house if you cannot satisfy their demands. Defend your home on this endless night of arcade mischief!

Done! On time and under budget! Welcome to my second video game release, I Hate Halloween, an arcade adventure all about eggs and candy! No ‘alpha’; No ‘demo’. One and done. Have fun!

Looking for a stand-alone Windows version? Grab it here. I even wrapped it up in a shiny little installer this time as well.

Don’t feel like installing anything? I’ve created a web player version you can crank up right in your browser. This will require the installation of the Unity Web Player if you don’t already have it (the game page has a link to it). If you still see a grey box after the Web Player has been installed, check for an icon at the top of your browser to unblock the plug-in (Chrome is notorious about blocking plugins and only showing a little icon). If you get a black screen after after all that, just reload the page.

A few other caveats about the web version: The resolution options in the setup screen are only applicable once you switch to fullscreen. The quit button doesn’t do anything because you can’t force close a browser tab from Unity. I also had a few crashes when pushing the graphics quality up past “Good”. Might have been a fluke (I’m stupidly using a beta version of Unity right now), but heads up. Still, the web player version is the full game and runs pretty darn well.

Happy Halloween, everyone! It’s a treat!

I Hate Halloween

Download Installer for WindowsDownload for WIndows (ZIP)Run Web Edition

for mobile versions, please visit this post.

Feeling nostalgic enough to go play my first game again? You can grab Break Out Your Dead here.

Update: I Hate Halloween has been updated to version 1.1 on 10/13/2014. All of the above links are still correct and functional. Changes/fixes from the original version include:

  • First time startup black screen fixed
  • Rare chance of double knockdown fixed
  • Score now counts up by 10 rather than 1 due to late game high combos
  • New company name! Welcome GUO’s game publishing arm GrandPopGames!
  • Twitter integration! Tweet your latest scores!

5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Freely Downloadable from Wizards of the Coast

Man, can you believe I almost typed “from TSR". Gettin’ old does stuff like that.

The new 5th edition of the legendary role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (DnD) is here. Curious as to what’s in it without popping $50 on one of those beautiful, new rulebooks? Boy, are you in luck! Publisher Wizards of the Coast has made the basic rules for the new system available to anyone with an internet connection and a case of curiosity.

The free PDF version of DnD 5 weighs in at 115 pages and contains all the goodies you need to get going: 20 levels of advancement, four classes with subclasses, four races, and 120 spells. And that’s before you include the free, basic edition of the Dungeon Master’s guide!

So why has WotC decided to release a free e-book version of their rules for gratis? Julian Murdoch of Gamers With Jobs interviewed lead designer Mike Mearls and came back with the answer in GWJ Conference Call #409. Mearls citied both the video game free-to-play business model and the buying habits of decades-old DnD groups as primary reasons. New players expect to get the first taste on the house. As for existing players, we all know that there’s usually only one or two members of any given gaming group who buys the books for everyone to use anyway. Wizards could either go with the flow or fight the winds of change.

Will this new free-to-play model be as successful for a book publisher as it was for MMO and mobile game developers? I guess we’ll see when the 6th edition of DnD is ready for release. In the meantime, Wizards seems genuine about supporting ‘freepers’. Shortly after the release of the DnD 5’s first major adventure, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, an online supplement was made available to ensure compatible with the free editions of the rulebooks. Additionally, WotC is expecting the PDF basic editions to be continuously updated with more information and player suggested rule changes until December of 2014.

Check out all the latest happenings in the world of Dungeons and Dragons at dnd.wizards.com.

Behind the Blog: October 2, 2014–DNF DfD

Gah! Another B-the-B not posted on the first of the month! At least I got the picture back on it this time. Funny the little things that bother you…

I figured I’d drop another little correspondence here since I said I’d have my new game, Project DfD, done in a couple weeks. Well, that didn’t happen. And it probably won’t be done for a while. Don’t panic! It’s for the best of reasons. The game is coming along well. Here’s a screenshot to prove it:

October is a big month on the homestead. It’s the last gasp of peace before plunging into The Holidays where I am forced to engage in horrific activities such as Moving and Conversing *shudder* Almost as bad are all those blasted decorations that need to be setup, maintained (The Mrs. likes to go BIG on Halloween), packed up, and swapped out for next month’s décor. Adding anger to insanity, we took a nasty lightning strike here last week. Let’s just say I’ve been taking apart a lot more than the dryer (Sadly, our server is still out of commission as I write this).

…And none of this has to do with why DfD is gonna be late. You can have that last tangent, on the houseWinking smile

Besides marking the begining of a season of interruptions, October was also my original, self-imposed deadline for Brick Dead. Obviously, I ended up getting BD out, at least in some form, way ahead of that random due date. Still, I thought about sprucing up the ol’ gal for Halloween. I was kicking ideas about a Halloween themed edition around in my head when it dawned on me that I could just make a new game instead. The problem: Starting from scratch with six weeks to Halloween. I’ve got some chops for this kind of stuff now-a-days, but that’s a tight squeeze for a noob.

So how’s Project Halloween going? I dreamed up a concept and knocked out a prototype in two days. I’ve produced more art in a week than I’ve ever used in a project before. The result? Not done yet, but things look really good. I’m definitely in the home stretch. Of course, this is the point where one little thing can drop the whole Jenga tower of code down on your head, but… I’m optimistic.

And just what is Project Halloween? I’m gonna keep most of that under my hat for now. It’s an arcade style game and its actually about Halloween, as opposed to a scary game. I believe it fits the sarcastic-yet-loving, family-friendly attitude of GUO quite well. Just between you, me, and the NSA, it was nice to get away from the grim scheming of DfD and work on something with a happier theme for a bit.

As for plans past that… I dunno. Definitely need to get caught up with stuff around the homefront. Gonna dust of and update GUO’s annual pumpkin post. Probably take a couple weeks off from coding to let the carpal tunnel settle down (although I feel the overuse of the mousewheel button from Unity and Blender a whole lot more than typing these days). Oh, and Star Trek Online! I think they’ve got a new expansion coming out this month! It’ll be nice to chow down on that slice of comfort gaming for a while.

So that’s me and mine sending our love out to you and yours. Thanks for reading.

So I Took My Clothes Dryer Apart…

Ever wonder what it looks like on the inside of a clothes dryer? Probably not, otherwise you would have dug up some pictures on the ‘Net by now. Anyway, since you came all this way to my little corner of the web, why not sit a spell and check out what I found when I took my LG DLE2514w dryer apart?

photo 2

As you can see, there isn’t much to the average clothes dryer once you get the front panel off and remove the large drum that holds the laundry.

On the left you’ll see the motor that both turns the drum and rotates the exhaust fan. The metal box on the right contains the heater core. Bolted on to the side of the heater is a thermostat to shut off the heater if it gets too hot and an emergency fuse that blows at a designated temperature should the thermostat fail to do its job (Which just happened to be the problem that led me to take this thing apart in the first  place).

So, there ya go. This is one major appliance that is unworthy of its intimidating looks (Or outrageous repair costs!). The whole thing came apart with a philips-head screwdriver and can be tested with even the crappiest of multimeters.

Testing the thermostat was quite amusing. While it initially looked fine, it turned out that it wasn’t switching off at the right temp. This was tested by throwing it on the stove in a frying pan and monitoring it’s temperature with a meat thermometer to see how hot it would get before breaking the circuit. You can monitor the thermostat to see if the connection is open or closed using a multimeter on its terminals, but mine also switched off with a loud “CLACK!” that caused me to jump out of my skin the first time it happened. Under these conditions, my defective thermostat switched off at about 210 degrees, well above the thermal threshold of 125 degrees listed on the wiring diagram sticker posted inside the dryer.

How much did this repair cost? $15 for the thermostat and $10 for a new fuse (+$10 for the first fuse I bought because the thermostat seemed okay and another $8 for a new multimeter ‘cause I couldn’t find mine until the day after I ordered a new one). I used these guys and got the new parts in about three days. Sears Parts Direct is a great place to check for part numbers and diagrams, but once you have that info, there’s usually a better deal to be found elsewhere.

Benny Hill Banjo

GontiiWisdom of teh Internetz: If you find something awesome, it doesn’t matter how you got there. – The Book of WebSurfer, Chapter 1, verse 01.

With this in mind, GUO is proud to present Banjo Hangout’s own Gontii performing Yakety Sax (aka. The Benny Hill Theme).

Note: If the HTML5 embeded music player below doesn’t show for you, try this link. Also note that this track is a bit on the loud side..

Check out more from Gontii and many others, all for free, over at BanjoHangout.org. I mean, they’re having a drawing to win an electric banjo for cryin’ out loud! How could you not visit?

Also, there’s such a thing as an electric banjo!

drawing210prize

Amazon Instant Video Finally Comes to Android Devices

Kirk on another Amazon

For the past few years the charter members of Big Data have been in a war with each other as to which one will own your digital life. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon have been rolling out new hardware and online services with one goal in mind: Trap you in their little kingdom and sell every facet of your unique snowflake to the highest bidding advertiser. Schemes have ranged from globally tracking Like buttons, to iFruit-styled exclusivity, to a Googol of ‘free’ services designed to make you the product, not the consumer.

One sticky wicket in the GUO household has been Amazon Prime’s Instant Video service. While it has been available for some time on personal computers and iOS, Amazon has steadfastly refused to port the service to Android-based devices other than their own Fire series. Until now.

Amazon’s annual subscription service, Amazon Prime, offers members several perks such as two day shipping with no minimum, access to premium e-books, music, and movies. At $100 a year (or $8 a month, if you’re having trouble justifying it), it’s not a half-bad deal. And that deal just got a bit more appealing to those wielding Google’s little information syphoning cell phones.

There is, of course, a catch. the Amazon Instant Video app isn’t available through Android’s stock Google Play store. You will need to install Amazon’s App Store or the latest version of the Amazon app for Android. Upon locating a video inside the Amazon app that is available for Prime Instant Video (I believe most of the Star Trek library should get you there), you’ll be prompted to install the video playing application.

Homemade Rabbit Poop-Powered Flamethrower!

poopthrower

We’re all for reusing and repurposing over here at GUO, and if we can light up the sky doing so… Well, so much the better!

In the beginning, there was the Poop Tank. Today, there’s the flaming poopthrower. National Geographic went out to film Nick as he constructed his latest experiment in home defense. The video below covers everything from concept to explosive result.

*Warning: Video contains mild use of profanity. And crazy people.

The History of the X Button

Twitter’s @drakfyre, host of YouTube’s Cooking with Unity, posted a link to an article I know a few of my fellow geeks here would be just as intrigued with as I was. Columnist Lauren Archer at medium.com went in search of the origins of the now ubiquitous X button used to close windows in GUI (Graphical User Interface) centric operating systems all over the computing world.

While I won’t ruin the story here, I will say that things really get interesting when Daniel Oran, creator of the Start button and Taskbar for Windows 95, jumps into the investigation with some very interesting insights and very old screenshots.

More than a lesson in UI anthropology, this article features a treasure trove of screens from the OSs of yesteryear. Except one. Allow me to rectify this grievous oversight with a brief screenshot. Ladies and gentlemen, Geos: the GUI OS for one of the greatest computer platforms of all time, the Commodore 64.

Alright, now get on over to medium and check out X to Close: The origins of the use of [x] in UI design.

Behind the Blog: September 12, 2014–Still Alive

I__m_not_dead_yet_by_stinkywigfiddleMan, you know I’ve been away for a while when The Intern decides to kick in an article Winking smile

Things have been pretty dramatic of late here on the GUO homefront. The Mrs. has left the lucrative, yet shrinking (i.e. being outsourced), world of server administration for the much less lucrative, yet more rewarding, world of high school math teachers. Fun fact: She couldn’t be happier about the decision.

As for myself, I’ve been spending the time since we last talked engrossed in writing a new video game. I have been making little experiments off and on since putting The Brick Dead Project on hiatus, but this has been the first time that I’ve really run away with a new game idea. Unfortunately, this means that all my free time to create has gone into this little digital toy rather than posting on this here website. I’ve actually had several great ideas and stories for posts, but there just isn’t enough drive left in this ol’ body to pursue both creative outlets at the moment.

Also, the laundry dryer just broke, so I’ve been taking that apart this week. Couldn’t be going worse, thanks for asking Winking smile.

Anyway, GUO certainly isn’t going anywhere. In fact, I just cut our domain registrar yet another check to ensure that fact. Using our Amazon links when you go shopping helps. Thank you! It’s always over there in the sidebar if you need it again.

Speaking of sidebar, we have a variety of subscription options over there in case you don’t feel like checking the site directly just to find out I still haven’t posted anything. Still, I will make more of an effort to get something up here at least once a week.

Just to jump back a bit and make this post more disjointed than a zombie in a taffy factory, let me re-mention my current artistic obsession, Project DfD. It’s an indirect control RTS where you play the arms dealer supplying both sides in a war. I figure I’m still a couple weeks away (At least!) from a full alpha build (minus content and some art). Here’s a screenshot from the work-in-progress taken about a week and a half ago:

Unity 2014-09-02 13-38-14-86

Its definitely fun and playable. I hope. Economy and espionage still need a good bit of number tweaking, with it pretty much works as intended. Balancing strategy games is a b*tch!

If there is any interest in playing incremental builds while I work on it, please let me know in the comments or shoot an email over to anyone@GrowingUpOtaku.com. It wouldn’t take much to put a stand-alone build together and get it posted for download and, goodness knows, any kind of input would probably help.

Well, that pretty much gets us caught up. Always remember that love is cheap and easy to mass produce, so give away as much as possible. We love you!

Thanks for reading.

PS. Seriously, living on a public school teacher’s salary now. So…->Amazon links Winking smile

Attack of The Giant Toliets-The Sims 4

       The Sims 4, the newest game released by Electronic Arts to continue the Sims saga is something people having been looking forward to for awhile, but this glitch in the game is one of the greatest I have seen and it makes me want to buy this iconic game. Somehow, PC Gamer writer Tom Mark, found out how to take common items like bookcases and TV or toilets and make them into giant pieces of art! He shows what its like to have a town of mutant toilets and how it over runs the sims into the apocalypse or creating the lovable smurfs as tall as the Empire State Building so they can crush Gargamel once and for all! Now this is what people mean by letting your imagination go wild! See the wonderfulness!

You can get The Sims 4 today!

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Hits the World of Video Games

The strange viral phenomenon of posting videos of yourself dumping a bucket of ice water over your head to spread awareness of ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, formerly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) has stretched beyond the realms of reality and into the worlds of our favorite digital playthings.
GUO’s own Unpaid Intern spotted Warframe’s “greedy milk” Corpus baddies getting doused first.

Gearbox was quick to respond by offering up David Eddings, the IRL voice of the most annoying robot ever created, to the bucket.

Finally, Bungie took up the challenge, and cashed in on their own little viral in-joke, with That Bucket Came From the Moon.

I’m sure we can look forward to many more of our fantasy friends getting wet for this great cause in the weeks to come.

To date, the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised some $13 million in support of ALS. You can find out more or donate at ALSA.org.

2013 Gamer Demographics: Chicks Over Dudes and The Sims Over All

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) have just released their annual report detailing the trends of the trade for video gaming. You can grab the full PDF, complete with handsome charts, fluffy ‘expert’ quotes, and silly, useless stats direct from the ESA here.

Here are a few of the fun facts I found interesting in the data the ESA collected from retailers, game publishers, and advertising companies:

Old women now outnumber young guys

Thanks to mobile adoption (addiction?), females aged 18 or more now make up 36% of the game playing population. Males under the age of 18 account for a mere 17%. The average age of someone buying a game at retail is 35. You can look forward to many more Kim Kardashian games in the future. Lucky you!

PC gamers are smarter. Console gamers are faster.

The top selling genres for console games are, unsurprisingly, Action and Shooter (32% and 20% respectively). PC gamers fancy Strategy and Casual/Puzzle games (38.4%  and 28%). There are more RPG fans on PC than console (12.3% vs 7%) so maybe Bioware can stop coking up Dragon Age now.

Call of Duty: Ghosts was NOT a flop

Despite to click-bait editorials coming out of the gaming media, CoD is doing just fine. The 2013 release of Ghosts was the second best selling console game of 2013, eclipsed only by the record setting success of Grand Theft Auto V. Also flying in the face of popular belief, Disney Infinity actually outsold Skylanders Swap Force.

The Sims dominates PC retail

While Valve still keeps its sales numbers for Steam, suspected to be the biggest PC game store in the world, under wraps, The Sims 3 and its various expansions claimed 7 out of the top 20 best selling ranks. Only Sim City (#2) and the Starcraft II expansion Heart of the Swarm (#1) outsold The Sims 3: University Life. Curiously, Age of Empires II, the RTS from 1999, weighed in at #18.

Retail game sales peaked? You bet!

The Mrs. and I have been making the same joke about the video game industry for the past couple years: “NoMoarVideoGameMonies.com”. The number of games being sold at retail hit a record low in 2013. Interestingly enough, the amount of money spent on games was up slightly from 2012 indicating that those still purchasing titles are paying more for them. A lot more. Collector’s editions FTW!

Game sales have been on the decline since 2009. That said, consumers still spent $21.53 billion on video games.

Sharks vs Internet | Caught on Video

From Popular Science:

“Shark bites are a real threat to undersea fiber-optic cables. No, really. Google actually goes so far as to wrap its wires in a Kevlar-like material to prevent damage from sharks, a company spokesperson recently disclosed. As you can see in the video below, the animals have been known to bite cables. “

Some believe that these deep-sea eating machines are attracted to both the electric and magnetic fields emitted by underwater cables and mistakenly detect them as prey. Others simply shrug off this explanation as ‘sharks will be sharks’ and the ferocious fish would attack any ol’ chuck of plastic they find.

After previous bills from shark attack related repairs, modern cables are wrapped in a Kevlar-like material to protect them. Now if we can just get similar armoring to protect our household electronics cables from household pets.

Video Compilation showcases all 135 Space Shuttle Launches

Gone but not forgotten, NASA’s space shuttle program easily ranks as one of the crowning achievements of mankind.  Relieve all the majesty of this monumental program from STS-1 to STS-135 with YouTuber lunarmodule5’s fantastic video montage from 1981 to 2011.

2014 Anti-Virus Software Test Results

Being the family tech support guy, people often ask my option on which anti-virus software to use. I usually shrug, rattle off 3 or 4 options, and remind them that only suckers pay for anti-malware software. Its always a hard question to answer as your never really know if you’re A/V program of choice is working or not until the worst happens. Also, new malware is going to skip right through all A/V detection algorithms regardless of which program your using.

Fortunately, the fine folks over at AV-Test.org have been so kind as to compile their results from the past 10 months of torture testing.

AV-Test put 17 anti-malware packages, both free and paid, up against a variety of harmful computer creepy-crawlies and scored them based on detection and removal.

In the end, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free topped the list with 100% in system repair. The paid apps Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 came close in second with a score of 99.4%, and F-Secure Internet Security 2014 tied with Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 at 97.8%. The next best scores for free applications came from AVG AntiVirus Free 2014 and Avast! Free Antivirus 9.0.

Just to add my own anecdotal evidence to the results, we recently had a laptop here that came down with a case of digital cooties. Home page hijacks, pop-ups, the usual. In our little battle for computer health, Avast didn’t even detect the malware, AVG found but could not clean it, and Malwarebytes fixed everything.

In case you were wondering, here’s the link to Malwarebytes.

The only drawback to Malwarebytes’ free app is that it does not include real-time scanning. My personal recommendation would be to use another free virus scanner (such as AVG or Avast (I still like Avast due to how lightweight it is on system performance with very few false positives. Obnoxious, overzealous A/V software has caused me more problems than malware lately)), and do a manual scan with Malwarebytes once a month.

The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection and Peggle are Free via Origin.com

We’re all big fans of Maxis’ little computer people here at the GUO homestead. Despite this fact, most of us kinda bounced right off of the third iteration of The Sims. Good news then that EA is offering a digital version of our favorite version of this groundbreaking franchise, complete with eight giant expansion packs, for free until July 31st.

Interested in grabbing your own copy The Sims 2 Ultimate edition? Head on over to Origin.com, create or login with a free account, select My Account/Redeem Product Code. Enter the code “I-LOVE-THE-SIMS”.

Afterwards you’ll need to download and install the Origin app. Once Origin is installed you should be prompted to add a complementary copy of Peggle to your library.

Shinjuku Kabukicho Robot Restaurant | Weekend Watchlist

Have you ever wondered what a Medieval Times style dinner-n-show restaurant might look like in Japan? I bet you’re wondering about it now. Guess what? Your imagination sucks. It’s about to get seventeen different flavors of weird up in here!

Deep in the red-light district of Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward lies the not-so-humble dinner theater known simply as Robot Restaurant. And… Well, you just gotta see this.

Oh, and before we begin, I‘m not sure if ladies in bikinis driving power armor shaped like ladies in bikinis warrants a NSFW warning, but… Well, there you go.

Without further ado: Ladies! Tanks! Robots! Let’s go Robot Restaurant!

Now I don’t want to say that you haven’t seen anything yet because, well, you’ve probably already seen more crazy than one person should but… There’s more. A lot more. We haven’t even gotten to Cutie Honey Captain America and King Godzilla yet!  Oh yes, there will be Gangnam Style.

The GUO Homestead has Cut the Cord!

Two years ago I proposed a radical plan to the Mrs: Let’s cancel cable television.

Our contract was up and Version had just started offering new plans for faster Internet speeds that I just couldn’t wait to get my ethernet cable on. She hemmed and hawed and ultimately decided to sleep on it. The next morning she awoke and enthusiastically agreed that we should kick the converter boxes to the curb. With great reluctance (and fear for my own life) I sheepishly admitted that I had already renewed our contract with Version, including the television service. BUT, I had dropped the movie channels and used the savings to add a spiffy new 75mbps Internet pipe.

I mean, come on, you read this blog. Would you have actually expected me to wait 12 hours when I knew I could triple my daily dose of Internetty goodness to our wickedly wired world? Of course not!

Upon leaving my chiropractic appointment to unkink my back from sleeping on the couch, we reluctantly accepted our fate as a good thing. It would be a dry run at “cutting the cord”. We would have a real chance to see exactly how much cable television we were still consuming in this age of home theater PCs, podcasting, media servers, and online streaming sites while still having the same-old-same-old service at our fingertips to fall back on. The experiment was on (and, more importantly, I was off the hook)!

At first nothing changed. Our viewing habits had already been curbed by our unexpected stewardship of Baby Girl and there were only a handful of shows we still watched. Eventually even these favorites met their narrative conclusion or fell victim to a television exec’s axe. The last network not online we cared about, the BBC, finally began streaming to America. Video services like Amazon Instant and Google Play began offering UHF quality drek at cutthroat prices whenever one of us felt the need to indulge in a little boob-toobery. The Playstation 3 ended up pulling more viewing hours than the cable service. My PC connected to our living room television provided anything it couldn’t do for free. Increasingly our tablets took over the role of the blathering, idiot-box screen once central the the American household and our television, the largest screen in the house, fell silent, only awoken for special occasions and only ever displaying content we actually cared about.

It was a new age. A quieter age. A more thoughtful age. An age free of screaming car salesmen and nonsensical commercials for jeans .An age free of fads, reality television, celebrity gossip, and psychologically exploitative marketing schemes designed to make us feel guilty about not keeping up with the mythical Joneses.

There was no debate when our next contract renewal came around. We had turned on the television a grand total of one time in the past year. That occasion was to watch the parade and dog show on Thanksgiving, a tradition among the Mrs.’ family (also easily viewable via our local network affiliate station using an antenna). We had already cut the cord in our hearts. We were counting the days until we could make it official. The only question that remained was…

How much more bandwidth can I get with all the money I’m saving by canceling cable television? I can double our already ludicrous Internet speed to 150mbps?! Alert my chiropractor!

She’s Finally Back! The All New ‘Sailor Moon Crystal’ is Now on Hulu

sailor-moon-crystal-2

And, really, what more is there to say. After a ridiculously long absence, the legendary magical girls that inspired a generation of otaku and cosplayers is back in this new series based on the original manga! Yes folks, the heroic heroine that showed audiences around the world how even clumsy girls with bad test scores can become princesses (And not just ‘damsel in distress’ princesses, but magical, butt-kicking princesses!) from twenty years ago has returned.

Premiering July 5, 2014 and continuing to air the first and third Saturday of each month, you can catch Sailor Moon Crystal streaming on Hulu. I’ve embedded the first episode below for your convenience. Note that this initial premiere is in Japanese with English subtitles. A dubbed version is slated to be released in the future.

Know that I did have to disable my ad blocker to watch Hulu. Oh, and that high-pitched sound in the background? That’s just the Mrs. squealing with delight.

On the off chance you don’t know what all the hubbub is about, check out Wired’s surprisingly heartfelt Sailor Moon FAQ.

PSA: It’s Hot! Clean Your Computers and Household Electronics

dusty-computer-4It’s July 3rd and man, oh man, is it warm out there! So before you head out to blow stuff up tomorrow, it might be a good idea to make sure nothing is going to overheat and blow up on the ol’ home font.

That’s right folks, it’s time for the cast and crew of GUO to nag y’all about cleaning all those heat generating electronic doo-dads that power our digital lives. Get out the canned air, vacuum cleaner, tiny brushes, and, if you’re feeling adventurous, screwdrivers. Let’s evict those dust bunnies sheltering within your favorite computers, video game consoles, televisions, a/v receivers, and cable boxes. Don’t forget to wipe down that keyboard and mouse!

Afraid of working without directions? Let me Google that for you. Now you’re all out of excuses Winking smile

And while were sprucing up our stuff, don’t forget about that scrungy, smudgy smartphone and tablet! While I’m of the ‘Just whack it with a Lysol/Clorox wipe’ opinion (Been doing it for years. Works great unless you use a screen protector), here’s a more by-the-book guide.

Ah, feels good to clean up, eh? You know what feels better? Moar cleaning! Do a clean sweep on your digital life! Go ahead and unsubscribe from all that spam filling up your inbox every day! Defrag your hard drive (Unless it’s an SSD. *Never* defrag SSDs). Run a full virus scan.

Alight, things look great! Now, about that microwave of yours…

World of Tanks Blitz | I Played That

Game Profile: World of Tanks Blitz

  • Genre: Slow Motion Multiplayer Team Deathmatch Arena (Online 3rd person shooter)
  • Developer: Wargaming.net
  • Publisher: Wargaming.net
  • Service Requirements: Online connection, Game Center or Wargaming.net account
  • Available For: iOS
  • ESRB Rating: Not rated. No blood (or even people) are present. No swearing.
  • Price: Free
  • Amount Completed: 8 hours. Tier III for all nations.
  • Played On: iPad 2

 

Personal Bias:


Played a bit of World of Tanks on PC. Didn’t like it, but I could appreciate the game.

 

In a Nutshell:

World of Tanks (WoT), the slowest online deathmatch arena in the world, beloved by old men, Russians, and old Russian men, comes to mobile. The Blitz variant of WoT scales down the action to smaller (yet still large) maps, 7-man teams, and a single capture point in brisk, seven minute matches.

 

Defiance: Free-to-Play | I Played That

Game Profile: Defiance

  • Genre: Borderlands MMO. Or Firefall if it worked and had content (3rd-person shooter MMO)
  • Developer: Trion Worlds
  • Publisher: Trion Worlds
  • Service Requirements: Online connection, Trion Glyph account
  • Available For: PC, PS3 (goes free July15), Xb360 (free date TBA)
  • ESRB Rating: M for Blood, Drug Reference, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence
  • Amount Completed: About 30 hours. EGO level 500ish.
  • Played On: PC 

     

    Personal Bias:

    None. I don’t know the show this is based on. I’m not familiar with Trion Worlds.

    In a Nutshell:

    Online open world run-n-gun shooter full of random folks wielding randomly generated guns in a constant stream of spontaneous events.

    Released in 2013 as a retail MMO product with no subscription as a marketing tie-in to the SyFy television show of the same name, it debuted with the problems typical to online game launches such as an aimless design and a dearth of content. Fast forward two years and Defiance jam packed full of missions, public quests, co-op/competitive instances, and drops the price tag to boot.