Archived entries for Shopping Adventures

CircBoard Makes Typing on Game Consoles Faster, Less Annoying

From the “Why Hasn’t Anybody Thought of this Before?” department…

Typing on video game consoles is usually a huge pain in the ass. Circboard is a new on-screen keyboard concept that wants to make your life easier. Typically, on-screen keyboards, like one 360 or PS3, try to emulate a QWERTY keyboard, and the process of “typing” involves a lot of visual hunt and peck. And it’s slooooooooow.

Watch the CircBoard Demo:

CircBoard’s concept is simple, yet brilliant. I like that its developers adapted typing to gaming, not the other way around. CircBoard’s method of typing is more native to how controllers function, and seems like it would be easy to learn. I could see typing with CircBoard easily becoming second nature—like which spell combinations I cast in Oblivion.

Why not just buy a USB keyboard, you say? Well, for one thing, I’d prefer not to have extra gaming peripherals cluttering up my living room. Two, I’m a fan of things that just work, and CircBoard seems like an elegant solution to a common annoyance. It would make YouTube surfing from my couch a helluva lot easier.

I hope one day soon to see a solution like CircBoard on my next-gen console!

How do you manage your ever-growing media wish list?

WANTED:  A better solution for discovering and consuming new media.  First things first:  It seems inappropriate to call what I’m talking about a “wish list” because…

A) I don’t necessarily intend to shop for and purchase said media, nor do I always want to receive it as a gift.  While there’s a bunch of great, free tools out there like Amazon’s Wish List and Wish Radar, these tools are geared more toward making a purchase and not mere consumption.

B) Most wish list tools are shopping-based and don’t cater well to old media like out-of-print books, hard-to-find movies, or retro/legacy games on dead platforms.  And what about obscure TV shows never released on DVD?  Try adding Out of this World to your Amazon wish list.

C) The media I’m interested in isn’t always released yet. I often put upcoming movies, books, albums, and games on my list that may be a year or more away from a release date.  How do you account for these types of things using a wish list system that is based on available/purchasable products?

In short, my media wish list is more like a “To Do” list. I have a “To Play” list for games; a “To Watch” list for movies and TV shows; a “To Read” list for books; and a “To Listen” list for new artists and album I want to check out.  I don’t necessarily call all these different lists “To _______ Lists,” but that’s essentially what they are.  Their sole purpose is to help me discover new media and keep it on my radar until I’ve had time to watch it, play it, read it, or listen to it.

So how do I keep up with it all? Here is my system…of sorts:

1.  Post-Its and Paper Scraps I am perpetually writing notes-to-self on Post-Its and paper scraps containing unorganized, off-the-cuff lists of things I’ve heard about or read about in my online and offline travels.  For example, if I’m browsing a gamer forum and some user recommends a game that sounds like I might enjoy, I’ll write its name down, perhaps alongside a short note that lends some helpful context like: “Shadow of the Comet (PC) – Lovecraftian AG.”  If I hear a song I like on the radio while I’m out somewhere, I’ll try to scribble down lyrics so I can look it up later.  By the end of any given week, my messenger bag’s outer pocket contains a stash of folded, wadded-up notes that I’ll later re-visit and add to my wish list(s), then toss the paper.

2.  Google Docs My actual media wish list is a series of Google Docs containing separate lists for Movies/TV Shows, Music, Games, and Books.  These are, of course, neater than my handwritten notes but still pretty raw and organized.  Also, there’s no real sense of priority.  Depending on the list, I might add some extra info, like release date/year for movies, platform and genre for games, etc.  I like storing this info in Google Docs because I can access and manage my lists as easily as I do email.  Perhaps one day I’ll graduate to a more sophisticated Google Spreadsheet, but the Docs get me by for now.

3.  Plan-Ahead Shopping & Streaming  When I’m in the mood and can make the time to actually watch/play/read/listen to something, I’ll browse through my wish list(s) ahead of time and pick whatever looks appetizing…followed by a trip to the store, library, Netflix, iTunes, XBMC, torrent site, or wherever it is that I might purchase or download it.

4. Reviews, Recommendations, & Taste Engines — Needless to say, my media wish list is never empty, but it also doesn’t just contain things I stumble upon.  I will often seek out and discover new media by consulting a personalized arsenal of review sites, recommendation sites, and taste engines that includes Netflix, Jinni, GoodReads, Amazon, GamerDNA, just to name a few.  Then there’s the countless review and preview blogs that entice me to pile it on even thicker.  I do get a lot of genuinely great recommendations this way, but as always, it seems more gets added to my lists vs. gets removed.

What this all this boils down to is that I’m approaching a state of media overload and I need a better way to cope with it. Short of quitting my job and devoting all day to playing video games and watching movies (a girl can dream, can’t she?), I need a better solution that will track, prioritize, remind me about, and remember all this media that I plan to consume, whether it’s old, new, or unreleased.  Is there a single system out there that can do all this?

The comments are wide open to your suggestions, app recommendations, and/or pithy remarks about my being a media junkie with no life who needs help!

Geeky Gamer Jewelry on Etsy

As the site says on its homepage, Etsy is the place to buy and sell all things handmade.  Here is a showcase of some of the coolest geeky gamer jewelry I’ve found there, and the awesome sellers who make it:

pixel-party-etsy-seller

Pixelated goodness from an aptly-named seller, Pixel Party offers charm bracelets, cufflinks, earrings, and more in the classic 8-bit style of your favorite video games.

hyrule-hero-cufflinks pac-man-love-bracelet tetris-cufflinks

gamer-gear-store-etsy-seller

The Gamer Gear Store sells unique-looking hand-sculpted pieces from “all school” video games, as well as other great geeky gear inspired by vintage comics and movies.

wario-necklace gears-of-war-skull-necklace xbox-360-pink-controller-necklace

the-clay-collection-etsy-seller

The Clay Collection sells super cute miniature polymer clay versions of your favorite video game accessories, hardware, and characters.

portal-companion-cube-cufflinks bob-omb-cufflinks nintendo-light-gun-earrings

candy-corn-studios-etsy-seller

For those who want to wear their D20s instead of just rolling ‘em, Candy Corn Studios sells beautiful, wearable art made with the real thing.

d20-jade-necklace d20-clear-earringsd10-green-earrings

omegazoid-etsy-seller

I really heart the jewelry that Omegazoid sells.  Simple plastic beads emulate that 8-bit pixel look perfectly.

zelda-heart-meter-pin 1up-mushroom-pin boo-ghost-pin

charlie-carter-creations-etsy-seller

The two ladies behind Charlie Carter Creations sell awesome clay jewelry based on video games, and other geeky stuff like Futurama, Muppets, and childhood toys.

mario-charm-bracelet bullet-bill-earrings pac-man-earrings

Know of any other great Etsy sellers, or do you make and sell geeky/gamer jewelery too?  Leave me a link to your store in the comments and I’ll add it to my list!

Who knew zombies could be so adorable?

Plants vs. Zombies is a new game by PopCap that will be released on May 5th.  You can sign up on the PopCap websiteto play the game before the public release, plus get a 10% discount for the Mac or PC version.  Will the game be as awesome as the music video?  Cute zombies and singing flowers—I don’t see how it could go wrong.

10 Gifts for Geeks for $10 or Less

With Christmas right around the corner, I thought it would be fun (and hopefully helpful) to put together a list of inexpensive gift ideas for geeks, all for under $10. (And I’m not going to cheat and mention $10 gift cards, either!)

Pocket LED Flashlight

Pocket LED Flashlight

“May it be a light to you in dark places…”

Every geek needs a good flashlight, and even better if it fits in our pocket!  Great for wrangling with hard-to-see computer connections or venturing behind our A/V systems to connect new gear, a bright LED flashlight is a must-have.  X-treme Geek sells a nice mini LED flashlight for just $9.99.

Batteries

Batteries

Geek Power-Ups

If there is one universal truth, it’s that geeks can ALWAYS use more batteries.  Between our wireless keyboards, wireless mouses, digital cameras, wireless game controllers, A/V remotes, Nintendo DSs, PSPs, laser pointers, gizmos, gadgets–wait, what was I saying?  Oh right: MOAR BATTERIES!  You can’t go wrong giving geeks a nice big pack of AA or AAA batteries.  A tad impersonal, but extremely practical and definitely appreciated–particularly during those moments we realize our battery supply is critically low and we dread thought of actually getting up to change the channel.

Sharpies

Sharpies

For Your Sharpie Fetish

We love our Sharpies.  They’re great for everything from labeling the latest disc of pirated legally downloadable software you burned to Sharpie-ing perverse things all over your friend’s face when he falls asleep drunk on your couch. (Don’t ask.)  From Ultra Fine Points to Sharpie Minis to good ‘ol Original, there’s a Sharpie product in a wide range of colors for every geek’s Sharpie fetish.

Blizzard Authenticator

Blizzard Authenticator

I CAN HAZ SECURITY?

Over 11 million people play World of Warcraft.  Odds are you know at least one of them, and have no idea what to get them for Christmas.  The Blizzard Authenticator is a must-have accessory for anyone that plays WoW.  It protects their account from keyloggers, trojans, and other malicious attacks.  It’s a great gift and for just $6.50, it’s also super inexpensive.

Moleskine Pocket Journals

Moleskine Journal

Low-tech productivity app!

The “legendary notebook used for the past two centuries” (if you believe their marketing bull), Moleskine brand notebooks are a favorite low-tech vice of writers, artists, and geeks to ceremoniously commit our thoughts and sketches to paper.  Though the full-size notebooks are a bit pricey, you can score a pack of 3 cashier pocket Moleskines for about $8, blank or lined.  These pocket-sized journals are perfect for keeping in your pocket (shocker) to make quick lists or register random ideas on the fly.

Dice Set

Dice Set

Roll to see if you have a life…

For the D&D nerds, Magic players, and board game geeks on your list, a set of shiny new dice makes for a very thoughtful and useful gift.  What’s your geek’s favorite color?  Odds are you can find a cool-looking set of dice to match.  Board Game Central has a great selection of 6-sided and d20 dice sets all for under $10.

Caffeine

Caffeine

Energy in a can!

Whether it’s in the form of coffee, chai tea, energy drinks, or soda, most of us geeks require an endless supply of caffeine to help us through our late night coding projects, marathon gaming sessions, and the abysmal work day that follows.  Though cases of the really good stuff like Bawls and Jolt are on the pricey side, for less than $10 you can still give your geek a smaller-serving caffeinated shot in the arm.  How about gifting a sampler of 20 oz. energy drinks, or a trio of coffees or teas?   Also try Pacific Chai, Monster Energy, and there’s always Red Bull.

Comic Books

Comic Books

Mmm…new comic smell!

Comic books have evolved so much over the years, it’s perhaps more appropriate to think of them as readable works of art than the humble colorful distractions they used to be.  As the quality has gone up, so has the price, but you can still walk into any comic shop and pick up some great new issues with that glorious new comic smell for less than $10.  And with so many different titles to choose from, you’re sure to find something for everyone.  Who knows, you might even get your geek hooked on an awesome new series.  There’s also manga for the Japanophile on your list.

Thinker Toys

Thinker Toys

FACT: Playing with toys helps you get work done.

Between writing, brainstorming, troubleshooting, or figuring out why our damn program isn’t working, geeks need some kind of immediate stress reliever/creativity spark by our side.  Give your geek some inexpensive “thinker toys” for his or her desk.  Try some Silly Putty, Play Doh, Koosh balls, or perhaps a “thinky Slinky”?  Or go for the classic Rubik’s Cube (though it may cause more stress than it alleviates).  Anything goes, as long as it’s small, mildly entertaining, and keeps our hands and minds momentarily busy.

Computer Cleaning Products

Computer Cleaning Products

Handy for removing yesterday’s lunch from your keyboard.

Geeks love their computers and gadgets but it can be a neverending battle to keep them clean.  Crumbs in the keyboard, fingerprints on the laptop screen; these are our perpetual annoyances.  Which is why any geek can appreciate a little help to keep our LCD monitors and iPhone touchscreens sparkly clean.  Staples sells a nice little keyboard brush for less than $5 and a mini screen cleaner for under $10.

Hope I’ve given you some good ideas for the geeks on your Christmas shopping list!