Thursday, October 30, 2008

Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse

With all this talk about global warming, terrorism, the Rapture (no, not the Blondie song), and T-Day when the Skynet's begins it's Terminator strike plan (which also just so happens to be on my birthday); being prepared for the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse is simply a matter of smart planning. Having a well thought out escape plan, knowing where the safe zones in your area are, and understanding how it will probably happen; could mean the difference between your life and your "undeath". So I've decided to compile this list of handy resources for all my friends and family. Just make sure you print everything out because the electricity is always the first to go...

I. Sure some of you may say, "How could a couple of slow, brain-chomping, zombies hurt the agile and quick-footed, little ol' me?" Or you might think, "Don't be silly Georgie, there's no such thing as the Zombie Apocalypse." Well I say, you may be sadly mistaken. Cracked has lovingly put together this wonderful list entitled 5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen. There you'll learn about real-world threats such as brain parasites, neurotoxins, the real "rage virus", neurogenesis, and nanobots. Read it and weep ~ I sure as heck did.

II. Now that you're a believer, I recommend setting up a constant reminder that inevitable doom is on it's merry way. And what better way to do that than installing the Zombie Screensaver! Sure these zombies are cute and cuddly, just be sure to remember that *all zombies* are bordering on comical until they're munching on your brains.

* 3D Desktop Zombies (Mac)
* 3D Desktop Zombies (PC)
* A cute & free zombie Screensaver (PC)

III. Next you'll want to familiarize yourself with how quickly zombiism can spread and of course how to navigate through hundreds of them at once. While I don't recommend jumping into a pit filled with undead just to see how well you'll fare, I do recommend investing some time in zombie simulations.
  1. First I recommend checking out this Infection Simulation. It will give you a great idea of how quickly "the infected" can spread. Press space to uninfect all but one zombie. Press 'z' to draw and populate a new city. Press 'p' to toggle complete panic. Press 's' to alter the simulation speed.
  2. Next, you should check for any zombie activity in your area. Just go to maps.google.com and type in the phrase "zombie:"and your zip code. It will give you an idea of suspected zombie activity in your area. For example, click here to see my area.
  3. Finally, you'll want to check your area for Zombie Mob simulations. Like a "zombie fire drill" of sorts, hundreds of people who show up to simulate a ghoulish attack on your city. Eatbrains.com hosts one of the more popular gatherings on the West Coast, but Zombiewalk.com lists gatherings in cities around the world. Here's a great video of a Z-Day in San Francisco.



IV. Of course, now that you know a little bit about zombie navigation, you should definitely prepare for the inevitable fights that will take place. This can be really tough, especially if you're out of shape, but with a little practice, you'll be severing limbs in no time! eHow has some great tips on How to Fight Zombies and the site, ZombiesAreComing.com has some absolutely amazing tips like the Top 5 Reasons You Should Not Use a Shotgun for Zombie Defense. But I think it's smart to start at the beginning. So reminiscent of the Math teacher you hated for forcing you to do long hand equations; I recommend you first learn how to fight the ghouls unarmed. Why? Because like the teacher who told you that there may not always be a calculator handy, when fighting zombies your machine gun is *guaranteed* to eventually run out of bullets. Therefore, you should start with this helpful guide to unarmed combat with the undead: Hand-to-Hand Combat with Zombies

V. Moving past the basics, you're gonna want some real-world experience. Unfortunately it's currently a crime in most countries to attack your neighbor with a machete. So I recommend doing what the military does to pre-train their soldiers for war. Pick up a joystick and get your virtual practice in. Fortunately there are hundreds of zombie games to choose from whether you're on a Mac, PC, XBox, Wii, or PS3 fanatic. But if luck's got you down and the Internet is your only friend, you might want to check out Zombiegames.net. There's a good number of choices to get excitement into your veins and your blood pumping. My personal favorite is a classic zombie Flash game called, The Last Stand where you fight hundreds of zombies as they try to reach you and any survivors you found behind a barricade. It's quite challenging and very unnerving so crank up the volume! But if you have a powerful system, I recommend keeping an eye out (no pun intended) for the highly anticipated zombie-shooter Left 4 Dead. It looks like it's going to be the most realistic training simulation available...



VI. Of course you'll want some excellent reference materials and Zombie movies can be very helpful in educating yourself for the "Zombie Apocalypse". A couple years ago, I got my hands on a cheap copy of the 80's remake of George Romero's, "Night of the Living Dead" and "Land of the Dead" thanks to Tower Records going out of business sale! For those of you who also want to be prepared; or if you simply can't get the taste of HuFu off your lips; here's a list of instructional zombie films to get you started. My personal favorite is the original which started it all, is the original Night of the Living Dead. But one of my all time favorite scenes is the opening to the remake of Dawn of the Dead because it plays on all my fears of the impending Zombie Apocalypse, and makes me want to invest in a Panic Room

VII. Although that should be enough to get you prepared for Z-Day, I do have a few other helpful "just in case" resources. First read, read, and then read some more. Picking up one of these zombie books probably won't hurt (unless you're prying it out of a hungry zombie's hands). Next, try to learn a little bit about zombie pop-culture so that you can anticipate their next evolution. If you find yourself caught in the middle of a zombie infested area, you'll be happy that you invested in one of these handy zombie T-shirts (or maybe they should be called Z-shirts). It just may be the thing that gets your from A to B with all your limbs still intact. And of course, you might consider learning how to juggle! I really think that combining this skill with flaming torches or chainsaws will be a great way to survive the zombie apocalypse in style. No, seriously it is.



VIII. Finally, and didn't want to have to go there, but I think it's important that we cover this. We all know that maintaining a relationship can be really hard work. And with the Zombie Apocalypse approaching, you may *suddenly* find yourself looking for a new loved one. Or maybe if you're the casual dating type and expect to be in the market for some "fresh meat". It may be difficult at first, but if you think you have what it takes, here are some helpful dating tips to get you through a night with the living dead.

Just remember that in the end, it's going to be you or them, so make sure you're fully prepared...

Monday, August 18, 2008

10 Tips for new Facebook users

Facebook is a groundbreaking, free online communication tool, that is considered by many to be MySpace for adults. It's fairly easy to get setup and dive into it head first, but once your in the amount of automated information can be a little overwhelming. Fortunately I've done my share of experimentation and decided to throw together my top 10 list of tips for new Facebook users.

  1. CREATION: Create a profile, upload a pic, and get used to the basics of the system. It's relatively friendly and easy to edit at any point. Begin by going to www.facebook.com and follow the directions. The top of the page has a handful of "primary" links you should familiarize yourself with. Facebook Home, Profile, Friends, and your Inbox.

      During the setup process I recommend modifying your "Notifications" so that you don't get an e-mail for every single little thing imaginable. At the very least, you might want to skim through the options just so you know what can be shut off at a later time if you get too many e-mail messages and it starts to becomes annoying.

  2. FACEBOOK HOME: Ever wonder what your buddies are up to? You can see everything they're doing within the News feeds section by clicking on the Facebook icon in the upper left corner of your screen. This takes you to your Facebook Home page which is filled with your friends' status updates, photo albums, posted links, and lets you know everything they're up to. The content that appears here is completely based on the Privacy settings of your friends and it's a fantastic way to learn about new films, music, video games, Youtube videos, Web sites, hot politics, discussion groups, charities, and fan clubs. Sort your news feeds by Top Stories, Status Updates, Photos, Posted Items, or All Stories. Be sure to also visit the often overlooked "News Feed Options" page where you can choose to "Show more" or "Show less" of different story types AND more or less stories about specific friends you choose. Be sure to also check the right side of the Facebook Home. There you'll find your Friend Requests, Pokes (a friendly what's up from friends), Application invites, and a few other things.

  3. PROFILE PAGE: This is your Facebook page where all the "action" happens. It functions similarly to your homepage on Myspace and other social networking sites, except on Facebook 90% of the information is automated and controlled by you (including what different groups of friends can and *can not* see). Most of the Profile page is put together in modules that are easily customizable by clicking the Edit icon to the upper right corner. But the primary tabs on this page showcase your Wall, Info, Photos, Boxes, etc. These tabs are categories of data that make it easier for friends to find information about you and what you've been up to.

  4. WALL: This is usually the default tab on your Profile page and also the most infamous because it contains our status updates, uploaded photos, favorite links, comments to friends, fan pages and groups that we join, etc. Almost everything here is automated via the Facebook feeds system and as a general rule of thumb, you can assume whatever appears on your Wall will also appear in the Newsfeed pages of your friends (i.e. their Facebook home). Fortunately, we have full control over what appears, how it looks, and who can see it. You can change what appears by playing around with your "News Feed and Wall Privacy" and also your Application settings page. While the "Newsfeed and Wall Privacy" section is pretty self-explainatory; the "Application settings" may appear to be a little more daunting at first. In reality, it's really not that bad at all and I recommend everyone becomes familiar with it by clicking Edit and reviewing your options for each and every application listed. You'll be glad you did!

  5. INFO: This tab is where your friends and family can see your description, favorite books, movies, TV shows, groups you're a part of, your fan pages, and more personal information such as where you live and what schools you went to. This too is easily customizable and can be restricted so that only your "Good buddies" have access to phone numbers, home address, e-mails, etc. I recommend that you modify these privacy settings here.

  6. PHOTOS: The main page automatically shows clusters of your photos. Clicking a number or "Next" will slide to the next cluster so you and your friends can do a quick scan. Below that, you'll see your albums listed, which you can also click a number or "Next" to slide to the next group of albums. A couple of other things you'll want to check out include the "View comments" links so you can see all photo comments made by your friends; the "Profile pictures" album to the lower right, which is a record of all the pictures you've previously used as your main profile image; and finally the "View photos of me" link found underneath your profile picture on the main page which is a list of all photos that have been "tagged" with your name.

    You can create an unlimited number of photo albums. Each album can contain up to 60 photos and it has awesome tools to "tag" photos with your Facebook friends. So for example, if you upload a picture of me, you can click my face on the photo and "tag" it by selecting my name from your friend list. Then anyone who looks at it will see my name if they mouse over the image. Also, I will be notified that you tagged the picture and on my own personal profile that image will show up automatically under the "Photos of George" section that we all get. Also don't forget about "Facebook Mobile" which lets you upload photos with your comments directly from your cell phone to your Wall.

  7. BOXES (GOOD APPLICATIONS): Facebook also comes with a gigantic "application" system which lets you add all kinds of games, web tools, feeds, and lots of junk. The new version of Facebook moved most of these onto your Boxes tab, making it a little less annoying when you visit a friend's page and separating the important stuff about you from the junk. In general, my motto is that if the application doesn't require other people to be involved or get invited, it's worth checking out. Keep only the ones that compliment your profile like these favorites of mine, "Cities I've Visited" world map, Last.fm's "What I'm Listening To", my "Yelper restaurant reviews", my "Blog RSS reader", and the "D&D Tiny Adventures" which I totally love playing around with. You can also bookmark and quick-jump to some of your favorite applications by clicking the "Applications" button in the lower left corner of your browser whenever visting Facebook.

    • CRAPPLICATIONS: Everyone on Facebook should be used to getting invites from a variety of applications, games, and such. But no matter who you are, it will eventually start to feel like "work" managing best friend lists, vampire bites, playing tic tac toe, deciding whose in your fake entourage, whose kissable, buying friends for fake money, and so forth. Worse yet, your friends will start to get really annoyed every time you invite them and you'll wind up becoming "That Guy" who just accepts any crapplication (crappy apps) sent to you. All that said, it's extremely easy to get rid of your old crapplications by clicking the X or Edit icon in the upper right corner of the app and completely deleting it.

    • BLOCKING APPS: You can choose to "Ignore" invites to "crapplications", but you will still get invites from other people unless you click the "Block this Application" option (which I do for 99% of the app invites I get). If someone continually annoys you by sending invites to every crapplication they stumble upon, you can choose the "Block all invites from this user" option. It's great because the person you blocked doesn't even get notified, so they can send away, and you never are bothered again.

  8. FRIENDS: Facebook is all about keeping up-to-date with your buddies, finding long lost friends, and making brand new ones. You can search for people you know by using the Find Friends page or by browsing through the buddies of your existing friends. In general, Facebook uses your real name and doesn't use nicknames or your "online handle". This obviously makes it easier for people to find you which can be a mixed blessing. The good news is that unlike other sites, people searching for you on Facebook cannot normally see any personal information or access anything on your page unless they are part of the Facebook system and you volunteer that information to them.

    • FRIEND LISTS: An often overlooked gem, this is one of the things that makes Facebook's system amazing. So amazing in fact, that other sites like MySpace are following their lead and attempting to create a similar system. Facebook let's you create lists of friends that have different permissions and privacy options allowing you to customize "who sees what". This has unlimited potential allowing you to create separate friend lists for your family, coworkers, ex-boyfriends, or anyone else you might want to give "restricted permissions" to. For example, you can restrict people on your "Family List" so that they cannot access a set of pictures from a wild party you might have had. Or maybe you don't want your "Coworker List" to have access to your home e-mail address or cell phone number. To play with Friend Lists, click the "Friends" link at the top of any Facebook page. Then find the "Make a New List" button and give it a name. Next, click the list name and follow the directions to add friends one at a time or batch select groups of people.

      If you're not sure where to begin, you may want to create the friend list groups below and then add everyone you know to one or more of these. Once created, you can add people immediately during friend requests or batch select people to add to a list via the Friends page. To ensure everyone is on a list, click "Everyone" on the main list, click the empty space of one of your friends, then click the arrow next to their "View friends", and add or remove them from your lists. If you add people to more than one list (such as coworkers that you also consider good friends), this will give them permissions to view anything on your profile that either list allows.

      • Good Buddies: people you love and trust.
      • Coworkers: friends from the work place.
      • Family: mother, father, brother, sister, etc.
      • Facebookies: new people you've met through Facebook, but don't really know that well.

      Next I recommend shutting off access to nearly everything on your profile page as the default setting. Then work backward by giving permission to only certain groups of friends such as your "Good buddies" list. This way anyone who is not on a list that you specifically added them to, will only see your profile basics. Start doing this by going to your "Privacy Settings", then going through each area one at a time. When given the chance, always choose "Customize", and use the "Some Friends" option (where available), and then add your "Good buddies" list here. Wherever you see "Networks", I usually choose "None" and then add any restricted friend lists to the "Except these people" sections.

  9. INBOX & CHAT: Facebook's system database of people is so massive, it comes with it's own Facebook Inbox and a chat systems. The main difference from other sites like Myspace is that here they are easy to use, easy to access, and not riddled with spam. They're excellent for keeping track of communications, making plans with multiple friends, and sending links. The system stores your old messages and the interface is so easy to use, you can pretty much figure it out on your own. As for live chat, you can see which of your friends is online and available to chat in the ower right hand corner of your Facebook browser window. There you will also see any notification you might have marked in red such as friend requests, invitations, pokes, etc. Also within the chat area, you can update your "What am I doing right now" which will give your friends an idea of how your day/week is going. All of these things communication tools are not required or necessary to use, but they're so user-friendly you will likely find yourself playing around with them more often than not.

  10. PRIVACY: In case you haven't taken the hint yet, do yourself a favor and set up your permissions by clicking the "Privacy" link in the upper right corner and shutting some things off or at least by modifying the "Auto-Notifications". Spend a little time to read the options and remove things that you find annoying or invasive. Otherwise all of your buddies will be notified whenever you modify your page, send a message to a friend, add new friends, upload pictures, remove a relationship status, and so forth.

    Start on your "News Feed and Wall" notifications and uncheck the following:

    • Uncheck the "Remove profile info" box or everyone will know when you make any little changes to your profile.
    • Unless you don't mind everyone getting notified whenever you "Comment on a photo" on your Wall and their News Feeds, uncheck this.
    • Uncheck the "Add a friend" or everyone will be told about your new friends added.
    • I actually found out about a couple friends breaking up because of the "Remove relationship status" checkbox, so remove that.
    • You probably don't want everyone to know when you "Leave a network" as they are usually related to work, school, and the location you live in.
    • Next remove yourself from "Social ads" section.
    • Then visit your "Applications page" and edit what appears on your Wall and how they appear.
Ta daaa! That should covers most of what you'll need to do and how to do it. You now should be on your way to become a Facebook power-user, so dive back into the site and have fun with it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wardens, Streetfighter, and Tekken, oh my!

I nearly wet myself when I stumbled upon the Gamespy Mines of Moria details and through that, that new classes. Most excited about the Warden being a medium-armored tank whose emphasis is on agility and anticipation. Which coincidentally, is one of my favorite ways to play my Burglar class thanks to the help of his debuffs, stuns, ability to blinding groups of enemies, crowd control, and then finishing them off quickly if they have the nerve to turn their back on me.

But what thrilled me the most is that the game play mechanics of the Warden were likened to Tekken; which I still play nearly every day on my PSP. That said, I was a manager of a video game arcade years ago (remember those?), and I got heavily involved in fighting game competitions -- most notably the Street Fighter and later Tekken series due to their extremely technical and logical combat systems. Sure you can get in there and press a bunch of buttons and possibly win; but when you know the mechanics of those games, they become completely different beasts.

Often we would hang out late after mall hours, lock the gate, and practice with some of our favorite arcade peeps. During the day, crowds would gather to watch the epic fights of the arcade staff vs the arcade patrons and most of them would inevitably come down to the last few seconds of a match. Winning often came down to whomever was brave enough to pull off a crazy last-second stunt and after a while, winning with style became much more important than winning at all.

Good times!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Are those cherries in my smoothie?

How freaking great is this cubby commercial? I nearly fell off my chair laughing.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fonziana Jones of the Third Kind

I saw the new Indiana Jones movie last night and I really enjoyed it. Of course it was another fast paced, Indiana Jones-themed, rollercoaster ride, that i wanted to last forever. However, the movie did feel a bit rushed and I think could have used an additional hour to flesh out a handful of problems such as the myriad of plot holes (like the jungle native cultures that didn’t fit into the areas they were protecting). There were also some odd dialog moments that seemed forced because they needed to be added for stupid people (the 10 second clip by the waterfalls when Indiana Jones sounded like he was reading from a teleprompter, “I’m going… into “that” cave… and no one… needs to come with me,” but of course they all do). But the one that pissed me off the most was the underdeveloped characters like Cate Blanchette’s semi- but not really, psychic powers. She was cool, but she could have been sooo much cooler.

There were also a few "gay-ish" things going on in the movie that a few of us noticed. For example, during the scene when Indiana and "the boy" go to the 50's diner to discuss a letter he received, take a close look at what's going on in the background. All the guys hanging out are wearing either a 50-60's styled "jock/preppy" outfit or dressed as "leather/greaser" dudes and they're all having conversations with each other with one girl (we call them fruit flies) per couple of guys. The scene looked like it was filmed in the modern SF Castro or NY Chelsea. And don't get me started on leather boy driving his daddy around on a motorcycle or the scene where they compare who has a bigger knife and then Harrison Ford winks at Shia Labeouf...

But by the end I was still cheering away with the rest of the fans and calling it “Indiana Graffiti of the Third Kind”. But after some time to reflect, I think “Fozianna Jones of the Third Kind” is much more appropriate. Needless to say, I'm praying for an extended edition that fixes everything. But in the mean time, I've created a little script of how I imagine Spielberg and Lucas came up with the plot:
  • Spielberg: "Hey what are you doing this weekend? Wanna plan a big blockbuster?"
  • Lucas: "Sure, I don't have anything major going on. What did you have in mind?
  • Spielberg: "I was thinking that I need to show the world how critical aliens are to civilization; but I don't want anyone to know I'm really a Scientologist."
  • Lucas: "Totally man! I know what you mean because I want to touch on a few political and environmental views that I wasn’t able to cover in the Star Wars series. You know, like how horrible nuclear weapons really are, protesting war, tearing down rain forests without a worry, and wipeout civilizations without a second guess. But I want to get those points across in a clever funny way.”
  • Spielberg: “Perfect! I think we can make that happen. So what other thoughts do you have?”
  • Lucas: “Well, I just need to put my signature on the movie, but I have to watch my back with the Star Wars geeks. So what can I do? Hmm… Oh I know!!! How bout we incorporate American Graffiti as the era for the movie?"
  • Spielberg: “Like Fonzie meets aliens? I’m liking this a lot. Plus it will help us reel in the baby boomer generation.”
  • Lucas: “Exactly!”
  • Spielberg: “Now let’s see. I covered “friendly aliens” in Close Encounters and I did “scary aliens” in War of the Worlds; so how about we make these sort of “neutral aliens”? Oh, and maybe we can have Fonzie try to help them in some way?”
  • Lucas: "Now that's a super cool idea! Total Area 51-ish theme before everyone got jaded by the X-Files. Give me a high-five!"
  • Spielberg: "Right on man! But how do we tie American Graffiti and Close Encounters together? Fonzie was cool, but it’s not like he could summon aliens with is magic thumbs.”
  • Lucas: "Oh I know! I know! With a new… Get this… Are you ready? A new Indiana Jones movie!!! Like Fonzie and Indiana Jones’ on an adventure together.”
  • Spielberg: “Holy crap! That’s genius. We’re totally onto something here. But we need the young kids to be interested too.”
  • Lucas: “How bout Tom Cruise? He likes aliens A LOT.”
  • Spielberg: “Are you nuts? That powder keg will kill the whole film before the script is finished. No, we need someone who is young and hot right now.”
  • Lucas: “What about that kid in the Transformers movie you helped out on? He’s young, hip, great with the ladies, and would make a fantastic Fonzie!”
  • Spielberg: “You know you’re right. What was his name, Shyla? Shiela? Oh, that’s right. It’s Shia Labeouf! Now how do we reel in the old school Indiana Jones fans, so we’ll need to find out what that Marianne chick is up to these days and get her on board.”
  • Lucas: “Perfect! Everyone loved her in the first movie so maybe we can reunite their flame? Plus Fonzie can be their son! Of course we’ll also need some kind of unexplored jungle location with some cool traps and a few restless natives. But what are we gonna do without Nazis?”
  • Spielberg: “Dude, that’s a total no-brainer. We use the Russians. KGB special agents and crap like that. After all, they were the “silent enemy” of the Cold War generations.”
  • Lucas: “Sweet! And do you think we can we also get that scary psychic chick from Lord of the Rings? The one who was reading everyone’s mind? I really wanted to see more of her.”
  • Spielberg: “Yeah, I think that’s “Elizabeth” Blanchett. Oh wait, no, I mean Cate Blanchette, who played Elizabeth. I think she’s one of my Facebook buddies. Let me text her agent right now and see if she’s available.”
  • Lucas: “Oh my god! This is sooo great.”
  • Spielberg: “Yeah, and think of the amusement park possibilities. We’ll make bazillions!!!”

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Got Virus Ninjas? Call Norton!!!

Norton launched an antivirus campaign in Japan through a fictional character named Norton Fighter. For the campaign they created a bunch of videos of Norton Fighter using "martial arts" (and I use that term lightly) to fight off “virus ninjas”. But the best part is that the whole thing is done in the style of an old school 70’s Japanese monster movie.

Part 1 is where the viruses sneak in and Part 2 is where all the action takes place.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Organization or organism?

At a recent company meeting we heard an excellent speaker who had some very radical ideas on industry evolution and respecting the Web as a growing organism. Sounds strange, but then again considering the number of intelligent people who are contributing to the WWW every second kind of makes you wonder if they individually are reacting to trends, initiating them, or if it's a collective?

Everybody knows that those who react to a situation tend to use more energy and resources than someone who plans ahead for it. Sure, the company may be on top of a changing trend, but at what cost? Every year companies around the world loose billions of dollars in resources reacting to trends that may or may not pan out in the end. These companies are always trying to catch up to the latest, hottest, thing and many times wind up with frustrated users, employees, and half baked projects/products.

Planning ahead and not trying to force a low season to yield high productivity will save millions of dollars as well as help ensure the work environment remains stable, healthy, and productive. At present, many companies view their product as a moldable piece of clay and try to force it into different shapes as the industry trends change rather than treating it with respect like a growing organism. Conversely, knowing when the high season is and having a solid plan to capitalize on it not only make up for slow season revenues but also be even more profitable than expected. Not to mention that you'll be working with a dramatically improved product from development during the slow season. We see examples of this every day in nature such as bears stocking up on food for hibernation; squirrels storing nuts in the tree; camels filling up on water; and even human beings hunting during the peek seasons and storing their catch in the freezer for later.

Sure, the concept does sound a little strange. But shouldn't realizing, accepting, and planning with the lows instead of wasting resources trying to overcome them create an opportunity for development where everyone can focus on doing the job correctly the first time around?