December 24, 2011
Best Geek Gifts
If you’re a fan of The Big Bang Theory, you know that techies love superheroes. UDReplicas sells full-blown costumes of most of the great characters (right). They’re gorgeous, but they aren’t cheap. Most cost more than $1,500 fully loaded. Still, for that special geek in your life, it’s an investment.
If you’re on a budget, consider satisfying the superhero within. Superherostuff.com sells wearable accessories for just about every superhero you can imagine. This includes pajamas and underwear for men and for women. Just please remember to do the laundry.
All Geek, All the Time
Save time hunting for geek gifts on Brookstone and Hammacher
Schlemmer by heading directly to ThinkGeek.com. The people who put together this bountiful store clearly know their audience, because it was the most-mentioned e-commerce destination by the Spiceheads. Highlights include the Blade Runner-Style LED Umbrella ($19.99), the LED Binary Watch (which requires you to translate 10 LED lights into the time, $69.99), and the awesome Star Wars Jedi & Sith Bath Robes (left, $89.99).
Geeks are fascinated with time, as evidenced by several recommendations of clocks and timepieces. The Time Machine Ball Bearing Clock ($49.95) lifts a ball bearing onto “a durable concentric track at regular intervals. Here it moves with others on a slow downward course, both halted and propelled by ‘see-saws’ that tip when correctly weighted. Correct time can be read by observing the numerals that the balls are aligned with.” It sounds like a lot of effort to find out what time it is, but maybe not as much as reading the binary watch.
Active bloggers are inundated with comment spam. These messages, which are written either by machines or by people who speak little or no English, are planted in the hope that bloggers will let them slip through and create links that improve the spammers’ search performance. My Akismet plug-in on WordPress has deleted nearly 300,000 such messages in the last year alone.
But maybe I’m being too hard on the spammers. Maybe they just want to be heard. I decided to pick a few comments at random and treat them as if the writers were sincere:
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Cool and Useful Sites for the Holidays – Or Anytime
The folks at the Webby Awards sent along a super-helpful list of Web resources to use over the holidays. They range from social shopping to gift recommendations to real-time TV and music sharing. While I was familiar with several of these sites, I hadn’t heard of gems like Yap.tv, Wantful and Trippy. Definitely bookmarkable. The descriptions below were provided by the Webby Awards.
Video chatting is now a standard activity for most Internet users – in fact, earlier this year, Skype reported that their users log 300 million minutes of video calls daily. Skype has recently added a new multi-party platform that allows up to 10 people to video chat with each other, which is a great way to get the family together, even if you’re all far away from each other.
Yet another way to connect groups of people over video chat – but Hangouts also enable the chat participants to share and enjoy digital content like YouTube videos in real time.
Sony has brought together two of its popular platforms by creating virtual movie theaters on Playstation 3 that stream content from Crackle – and it’s planning to add more digital hangouts later this year.
Turntable.fm brings together the social experience of the Web and music. Users can create or join listening rooms for friends – or strangers – and DJ their favorite songs for each other.
Just for Fun: The Year in Media Goofs
Craig Silverman is a man on a mission. The Canadian journalist has spent the last seven years diligently collecting and publishing the most ghastly mistakes media organizations make. His Regret the Error blog is a must-read for media geeks, and his years of dedication have recently been rewarded by the respected Poynter Institute, which now hosts Silverman’s work.
I interviewed Silverman three years ago and asked him about his favorite gaffes of all time. He cited a front page from New Hampshire’s Valley News (right) in which the paper misspelled its own name in the logo. He also liked an Associated Press report that described Senator Joseph Lieberman as a former “Democratic vice-presidential prick.”
Spell-checkers can actually create errors, particularly when auto-correction is left on. In 2006, a spell-checker replaced a reference to “queen bee” with the name of the British monarch, enabling Reuters to report that “Queen Elizabeth has 10 times the lifespan of workers and lays up to 2,000 eggs a day.”
Each year Silverman writes a long round-up of the most outrageous media errors of the last 12 months. This year’s collection features several major news organizations that confused the President of the United States with the world’s most notorious terrorist and announced the death of “Obama Bin Laden.” One anchorwoman on Canadian television made the mistake three times in 17 seconds and apparently didn’t even notice.
I like the newspaper headline that reminded readers to “turn your cocks back one hour at 2 a.m. Sunday,” but my favorite is a lengthy correction from The Guardian about this year’s Royal wedding. It includes the passage:
“The piece referred to “damaging stories of royal profligacy past: Charles with his staff of 150, and an aide to squeeze his toothpaste for him”. [The couple’s press secretary] writes, “The Prince of Wales does not employ and has never employed an aide to squeeze his toothpaste for him. This is a myth without any basis in factual accuracy.”