Wednesday, May 30, 2012

This Week's Geek postponed

My apologies faithful readers, but I have been out of the loop since Sunday with a bout of food poisoning and have been absent from Flagrant Nerd. After a trip to the doctor yesterday and some decent sleep last night (finally), I seem to be on the mend, albeit still dealing with some rather painful and unpleasant symptoms.

As I'm sure you've noticed, there was no This Week's Geek on Sunday as usual due to my poor choice of entree. I will do my best to get that errant entry out in the next couple of days, and then get back on track this coming Sunday.

Until then, do your best to free your inner geek without me!

Oh, and be sure to wash your hands regularly...



Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Marvel Heroes MMO On the Way

Gazillion Entertainment has given us a teasing taste of their much-anticipated Marvel Heroes MMO...and I assume we'll all at least go through the buffet line at least once.

Everyone from the Marvel pages will be there...not just the Hulk, Spiderman and my main armored brother Iron Man, but more obscure ones as well, so we may see such costumed crusaders such as Lightspeed, Rain Boy, and Yukon Jack.

Looks like characters will be customizable, so you could pick up a particular character's costume (which of course some characters have a history of different duds) and swap superpowers in  and out.  Both action and exploration will be available, and social areas such as the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. 

Hmm...perhaps it's finally time to test the Edna's 'no capes' argument...



Friday, May 25, 2012

Star Wars Turns 35

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far way...

35 years ago to be exact.

On May 25, 1977 a rather unknown writer/director named George Lucas brought us Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope, and forever changed science fiction and movies.  What followed was more than can be discussed in this post, but five more movies, action figures, video games, trading cards, novels, lunchboxes, and LEGOs later, and we're still easily swept up into a universe that is more pervasive throughout our society than arguably any other movie franchise.  Ask the average joe on the street who was the 16th President of the United States (Abraham Lincoln) and you'll probably have a pretty good struggle on getting a correct answer.  Ask who Luke Skywalker's father was (Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker) and you'll get a correct answer 98% of the time.

While there is a much bigger post in the upcoming This Week's Geek on Star Wars, today could not be passed up without of mention of the SW's 35th birthday.

While it's easy to sit back as a veteran Star Wars fanatic who, at the age of 8, first saw Episode IV in a theater (leading to over 100 more theater viewings and uncountable more in other venues) and bemoan the last three entries we have in the prequels of the saga, we nevertheless cannot take one iota away from what became more than just another science fiction movie and instead created the foundation for all movies and entertainment (not just sci fi) to come after.

Hard to believe that this began over three decades ago (I'm now 43).  But what is even more hard to believe is that the Star Wars franchise still carries so much weight and the ability to motivate us to experience it again and again.  Star Wars: The Old Republic was a great example of this, and was so hyped before its release that there was really no way it could have lived up to the expectations.  (In all was pretty good.) And while I still have not broken down and bought a Blu Ray player (ok, now that I'm out of school and may be employed again in a month or two I will most likely go buy one), one of the main driving forces to me doing so is Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu Ray.

We can point at, roll our eyes, and make fun of Star Wars fanatics still dressing up like Storm Troopers and Boba Fett, and we can speak of disdain about Jar Jar Binks and Ewoks, but the simple fact is that none of us - even you faithful reader - can ever take away the simple and unshakable fact of the enormity of Star Wars.

Happy Anniversary, old friend...



SpaceX Dragon Ushers in a New Era in Space Travel

At 12:02 ET, SpaceX's Dragon capsule made history by becoming the first successful cargo haul to an orbiting platform by a private commercial company.  The Dragon capsule was captured by a robotic arm on the International Space Station just shy of 10:00 ET, and then maneuvered in for a successful docking on the Harmony module of the ISS by the first private spacecraft to do so.  The entire event went off flawlessly with just a slight delay of a a few hours.

"Looks like we caught a Dragon by the tail," astronaut Don Pettit said after capturing the capsule with the robotic arm, according to NASA.

Dragon's next milestone will be to detach from the ISS once the capsule's cargo has been offloaded and return to Earth in a couple of weeks and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast.

The implications of this event are enormous, as this spaceflight demonstrates the ability of private companies to be contracted to successfully bring equipment and supplies to the orbiting space station, and arguably open the doors to commercial spaceflight and exploration beyond Earth's orbit.

Photo and news credits to Mashable and NASA.



Watching the SpaceX Dragon Capsule Dock

So International Space Station captured SpaceX's Dragon Capsule with a robotic arm at about 10am EST this morning (beyond cool).  I'm currently watching a live CNN feed from a camera aboard the ISS as the capsule is maneuvered by the arm toward a docking berth. 

Once again, I'm getting that prickly feeling of witnessing a moment of history...the first successful commercial cargo haul to an orbiting space station.



Thursday, May 24, 2012

CSI'ing the Yeti

After last night, I need a little hair of the bigfoot...

Story credit:

Researchers in Europe are looking for the samples of bigfoot hair that your grandfather left in that shoebox in the basement.  A research project planned by scientists at Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology will use DNA and other genetic testing on Bigfoot and Yeti samples - hair, blood, and anything that Sasquatch may have been chewing on.  Results will be published in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal.  Experts seem to be on a consensus that the latest methods of DNA testing could solve the Bigfoot mystery.

Bryan Sykes of Oxford University said the group had already received many offers of samples to test, including blood, hair, and items supposedly chewed by Bigfoot. Sykes and colleagues plan to sift through the samples for the next few months before deciding which specimens to test.

I'm betting on at least one sample that genetically resembles my father's beard.

"If the Yeti is real and somebody has found bits of their hair, you should be able to tell from the DNA in the hair if this is actually a Yeti," said Mark Thomas, a professor of evolutionary genetics at University College London. He is not connected to the Bigfoot project.
But Thomas was unsure how likely it was anyone might have actual Yeti hairs. Some scientists theorize Yetis are either a distinct hominid species, or a mix between homo sapiens and Neanderthals or other species. There is already evidence of interbreeding between homo sapiens and Neanderthals.

I personally have seen evidence of interbreeding between humans and Neanderthals while I was still politically active...(probably not exactly what the researcher is talking about.)

Bigfoot is a legendary giant, hairy, ape-like beast that is variously known as Sasquatch, the Abominable Snowman, Yeti and other names. It supposedly lives in heavily forested or snowy mountains. Although most scientists don't believe in the beast's existence, decades of eyewitness reports, suggestive photos and stories have kept the legend alive.  David Frayer, a professor of biological anthropology at Kansas University, told The Associated Press in an email that "No serious scientist (would) treat Yeti as a worthy research project."
No serious scientist of that magnitude is much fun to party with either...



SpaceX's Dragon on an ISS Flyby

The last tests before attempting to berth with ISS on Friday morning!  History being made in 24 hours!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bring It On...Prometheus

Hoo hoo hoo...cinematic master Ridley Scott brings us back to the edge of our theater seats and gives us reason to flinch at the cold darkness of space once again with the upcoming release of Prometheus.

Check out the Full Length Trailer...

Many have termed this an 'Alien prequel,' though reports have been coming in that while Scott originally had planned a much larger Alien aspect, Prometheus has gone more in it's own direction since the original film's inception.  Nevertheless it will certainly lie within the Alien canon and genre.

Here's the latest plot statements from the movie's official website as of March 5th:

This is from the page Prometheus Plot...

Current Official Synopsis

Ridley Scott, director of 'Alien' and 'Blade Runner,' returns to the genre he helped define. With PROMETHEUS, he creates a groundbreaking mythology, in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

Original Official Synopsis

Visionary filmmaker Ridley Scott returns to the genre he helped define, creating an original science fiction epic set in the most dangerous corners of the universe. The film takes a team of scientists and explorers on a thrilling journey that will test their physical and mental limits and strand them on a distant world, where they will discover the answers to our most profound questions and to life's ultimate mystery.

What we know so far:

Little is known about Prometheus' plotline. But what we can share with you is that the film is set in space for the most part. Similar to that of "ALIEN"; the jumping off point to this project. The film's name "Prometheus" is that of the space vessel, used by a crew of select individuals who set off to explore and investigate fragments of "Alien DNA".

The film itself revolves around the Space Jockey creature; as seen in the original film ALIEN (1979). When the team of scientists embark on this journey, they get stranded on an Alien world which tests their limits; both mental and physical.

Prometheus is also largely based on the creation of mankind, life and the Earth. From the recent synopsis publicly released by 20th Century Fox, we can determine roughly that Prometheus involves a team of scientists, "The Company" representatives and robot / synthetics which investigate and search for keys to unlock man's ultimate mystery. But in the process, they threaten the future existence of mankind and are faced with unimaginable horrors.

The Aliens themselves are said to be much larger than the original "Xenomorphs" we are used to. However, their overall construction will be easily noticable to that of the original Alien canon.

Prometheus will be much more than just an Alien sci-fi horror. Ridley Scott is digging deeper for this project and Prometheus will unlock many questions and will touch on many aspects of life and existence. A true masterpiece.

Connction and Ties to Alien:

It became evident to to us the tie between Prometheus and Ridley Scott's original ALIEN. In a fictional TED conference created as a viral marketing scheme by FOX to further promote Prometheus, we were introduced to a very noticable character which would further prove and validate Prometheus as a definite prequel to ALIEN...

Peter Weyland - the head and owner of WEYLAND CORP, portrayed by actor Guy Pearce, gives a rather influential speech on the greek myth of Prometheus, technology and his intentions to "change the world". In celebration of the "cpmany's 50th anniversary", FOX launched a website under the address - which featured a link to thies TED video as well as promotional snippets of information for the eager fan bas.

The inclusion of WEYLAND is a major focal point as it ties Alien and Prometheus together. It is the same company responsible for both expeditions, Prometheus and Nostromo. In an interview Ridley Scott identifies that this is the only tie between Alien and Prometheus - but up until that point, Mr. Scott himself had battled with the press to assure us that Prometheus was in fact NOT a direct prequel to ALIEN, but instead a stand-alone film.

As it may still be considered a "Stand-Alone" film, the obvious connections can not be mistaken and the inclusion of WEYLAND further confirms Prometheus is more of a prequel than the studio, actors and director would like to have us believe.

Basically, I'm drooling over another opportunity for Ridley Scott to make me accidentally pee a little in a darkened movie theater once again... :)



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Confirmed: SpaceX Dragon Ferried 'Scotty's' Remains Into Space

Simply very cool news confirmed by this morning...

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket with the unmanned capsule Dragon, which got scrubbed from launch a few days ago, blasted off successfully early this morning from Cape Canaveral heading for the International Space Station with around 1200 pounds of supplies for the ISS. If it successfully docks with the space station, it will make history as the first private corporation to successfully launch a spaceship into orbit and dock with the ISS. A second private company, Orbital Sciences Corp., is set to test launch their rocket this summer. Today's launch marks a the beginning of a huge era, in which private companies are contracted to haul cargo into space for orbiting platforms like the ISS.

Perhaps even more historically significant for geekdom is that the remains of Star Trek actor James Doohan (Scotty) and Mercury and Gemini astronaut Gordon Cooper, along with the ashes of Brady Watson Kane, a teacher who died in a Colorado skydiving accident, Francis Edward McShane, who died of a heart attack in the parking lot of the hospital where he was employed, and Steve Julian, who died of cancer but always dreamed of being an astronaut since the Sputnik launch.

Both poignantly moving and rather fantastic at the same time! To go where no one has gone before indeed...



World Goth Day

Wanted to get this post in early so you have time to get your big black boots, dark trenchcoat, skull earrings, and fingerless gloves with the long sleeves on before you leave the house...

Today is World Goth Day. Celebrating the world of black and white in a whole new way!

Unfortunately it's going to be over 90 degrees today, and I'm playing golf this afternoon. I'll just try to look depressed instead...
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T



Monday, May 21, 2012

Flagrant Nerd Pages

Just in case you missed it on the header...I've started adding some pages to the blog that have running themes (quotes, etc.).

Just click the index bar at the top!



Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bob's Burgers

Love Bob's Burgers!



Star Wars in HD

Funny, but I was just surfing around on TV for something to put on, and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones was playing.

Now I should preface this with the fact that I just recently upgraded our Directv to HD this year, so I'm still enjoying the difference in quality compared to SD, particularly with sports and some shows.

I turned on SWAoC and wow! I was actually mesmerized with the video quality. Just specatular...

I may have to actually break down and get a Blu Ray and the various required DVD sets (Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, etc.) if it's really this good...

Nice when things like Star Wars can still jump out and surprise you with really cool stuff after all these years...



This Week's Geek - Fantasy Baseball

Surprised by this week's geek topic?  You shouldn't be.  What amuses me the most about fantasy sports is the fact that there are so many parallels and similarities to role-playing and tabletop games that every fantasy manager should be attending Star Trek conventions and wearing eyeglasses patched with electrical tape.  There's more Dungeons & Dragons here than meets the eye...

My amusement comes from ardent fantasy baseball nuts that will spend hour after hour preparing for their upcoming draft day and then analyze the crap out of each player's OBP and Slugging percentage until they're bleary-eyed and in dutch with their significant other for spending way too much time on the computer.  But point out that some tire salesman with a subscription to MLB.TV sitting at a sports bar with his buddies and discussing that Justin Verlander's WHIP has been outperforming Roy Halladay's is really no different than some pimply-faced high-school sophomore with a subscription to Dragon Magazine sitting in his parent's basement with a group of similarly black t-shirted nerds and discussing the THAC0 of the +4 Holy Avenger is arguably better than decent Two-Handed Vorpal Blade and the fantasy sports fanatic will scoff at the mere suggestion that they are in fact, geeks of the highest order.

Seriously, let's be objective about this.  Fantasy sports (need I point out the term Fantasy in the first place) is game about assembling a team of real life professional players in the given sport into a fake team that the manager (i.e. the person playing the fantasy sport) then 'manages' over a given period of time during the season of the actual sport.  Once assembled (for instance on draft day), the players on the team are then placed on a roster taken from the players on the managers fantasy team and 'played' in various ways against the other managers in the fantasy league.  The real life stats of the players are used to score fantasy points, all dependent on the scoring system utilized by the particular style of play the fantasy league is using.  In some play styles, the fantasy points may accumulate over the entire season, the winner of the league being that manager whose fantasy team ended up with the most points.  The league may also use a 'head-to-head' (H2H) style of play, where each week one team pits itself against another, and the points accumulated during that week determine the winner of the game week.  The season winner may then be the manager with the best weekly win-loss record.

Now, let's choose a typically accepted nerdy game to compare to fantasy sports...I'll use tabletop miniature wargaming.  Here, the player (often known as the general) assembles an army of either historical or fictional troops and equipment.  This can be anything depending on the system or game - infantry, armor, calvary, alien monsters, artillery, aircraft, etc.  Each unit has it's own stats for combat, movement, etc.  The general acquires the plastic, metal, and resin miniatures that represent the unit, assembles them, paints them, and then chooses from his collection of minis what to field in a given game against another general.  The generals place their collective armies on a large playing surface - often a 6' x 4' gaming table that is often decorated with terrain pieces to add flavor to the battle; hills, trees, bunker emplacements, burned out buildings, etc.  Each general takes turns maneuvering and committing their troops to combat against the other general.  The stats of each unit determine how combat and movement outcome is determined, and the element of chance is usually handled with dice.  Games are decided on victory conditions set at the beginning...capture and hold of a spot on the board, destruction of some element, or perhaps total annihilation of one side or the other.

So...see any difference between a fantasy baseball manager choosing the starting and relief pitchers that he'll put on his roster for the coming week and a Warhammer general choosing which units of High Elves he'll field in the coming battle?  Who is more a geek - the fantasy baseball fanatic that knows the current On Base Percentage of Matt Kemp is .04460 or that the Warhammer general knows that Teclis the Loremaster is a Level 4 Wizard?  Which is more nerdy - counting hits against, earned runs, and stolen bases of your fantasy players from today's real world games, or adding up hits, wound rolls, and their corresponding cover, armor, and magic saves from that shooting phase?  Frankly, not a helluva lot of difference here.

So don't even begin to tell me that fantasy sports is different than any other role-playing or war gaming system out there.  What could be more role-playing than assuming the role of a fake manager of a fake baseball team and playing other fake managers and their fake teams using statistics and random events to determine the outcome?  Pitchers and shortstops are no different than paladins and wizards, and outfielders and designated hitters are just like archers and spearmen.  Whether you talk about the fantasy game over beers and hot wings or over Cheetos and Mountain Dew doesn't make any difference...your still playing Cowboys and Indians and Cops and Robbers like you did when you were 3.

Now I gotta stop writing this post and go get my lineup set for Week 7.  Mat Latos has a two-start week coming up...