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Geek Rants

“Watch Later” – Where Good Intentions Go To Die

File “Watch Later” in the same place as all of the books you bought and intend to read, and all the unplayed games in your Steam library, all of those Magic decks you’ve been meaning to build, and all of your unpainted miniatures yes I’m calling you out. I’m calling you all out! And I don’t get off lightly in this lecture, I have more books than I have bookshelves, and a terrible habit of not reading anything that isn’t a role-play accessory of some kind, I’m a terrible person. (more…)

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Top 10 Worst of 2018

GeekOut Top 10s

2018 has been home to some of the best and worst things we’ve seen in a while, which isn’t surprising – That happens every year. So, last week during our usual Top 10 slot, you chose for us to write about the Top 10 Worst of 2018. So buckle up, we’re focusing on the best and worst of anything geeky, from films, video games and even the internet itself gets a stern looking at.

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The Pursuit of Perfection

Here’s a positive message on which to end a bad year*. Stop striving for perfection! (more…)


Gifting in a Digital Age

At this time of gifting for a substantial proportion of the planet, we find ourselves in an increasingly odd situation. Common retail is dying, shops are closing, and town centres are lined with shutters that are slowly rusting in place. We order online more and more, and that shift is changing the nature of media too. As DVD surplanted VHS, we thought Bluray would do the same to DVD in turn, but it appears ever more evident that digital distribution will prove the dominant format. One cannot cover Netflix in colourful paper… one could, but there may be conflicts with Netflix employees.

Is it at all possible that the days of presents gathered at the foot of a fir tree (or plastic facsimile thereof) are slowly dying? Can we no longer open a card in hope of a voucher or cash, but instead watch our inboxes with baited breath? Will Santa one day arrive in a red jacket bearing the names of every delivery company, and if so can we expect a note down the chimney telling us Christmas can be collected from the depot?

The times, they are a-changing, and Christmas too must change, as it changes its name, and once again grows to swallow all other cultures, the holiday undying, as old as the changing of seasons and the rebirth of the sun.

But if you still yearn for the look on someone’s face as they pull your meticulously crafted wrapping aside (or haphazardly taped up bundle) to reveal the thoughtful tokens within, all may not be lost. Long term readers may recall that we proffered a few suggestions last year for things to obtain for your geekier loved ones, but there are other things you can make, do, and buy.

It has been remarked that we crave experiences more than physical items, so taking someone – for example – to see a live stage show, or to theme parks or other pay-to-enter attractions is a fantastic gift that lacks a physical component, all being managed via online booking and emails. However, there is no reason why a ticket cannot be printed and folded into a card, perhaps something hand-made or thematic.

For digital media, there are a few ways you can make a gift out of something ephemeral. The obvious solution is to load – say – a new film onto a datastick that can be wrapped as an individual item, or placed in a comically oversized box. Or perhaps you want to load a family member’s phone with new music? Consider demanding it from them at Nerfpoint, loading it with an album or two, wrapping it up and putting it back in their hands. How often do people despair that we spend too much time on our devices and not with our families? Could be a great way to make phones a part of the family.

And until the days when 3D printing allows us to send Pop Vinyls straight into the homes of friends so they can watch their presents revealed piece by piece before their eyes – next logical step, just saying – there’s still an abundance of geeky objects in this world to give as gifts, but as times are changing it may be worth considering shopping earlier and earlier to account for delivery times. And you too could become a warehouse of Christmas presents, holding onto lots of objects for months on end that you intend to give to someone else! Just like me.


I Write Horoscopes

Not serious ones of course.

When I express a love of cosmic horror, the link between horror and comedy, dark and angry surrealism, nihilism, and all of the other things I over-analyse, it’s an expression of interest and fascination that is – at its core – what geekiness is all about: an open expression of passion for a particular subject or subjects. And as a creative person I like to let free my own reflection of those genres and subjects that fascinate me.

When I started putting my own particular brand of horoscope onto Facebook, I’d been listening to a lot of Welcome to Night Vale, and H.P. Lovecraft, watching Dylan Moran, and Rick and Morty. That, and I was in a mood to write and get weird with it, as I am wont to do, previous examples include corrupted christmas cracker jokes, a crowd sourced poem about being on the toilet, and some early evidence of my own mental health issues before I recognised what I was looking at.

Amrit Brar – Click for the website and a huge collection of other zodiac signs

All of this narcissistic rambling to say that for me… it’s a kind of fan art. I ingest the media that I love, and out comes some blended product born of my own creativity. Some examples:

Aries: Check your liver against the colour chart. Are you within the safe zone?
Taurus: You have no power here, only the howling of a chained beast
Gemini: They’re closing in
Cancer: No horoscope this week, seek answers from the Grand Tapestry of Bucharest
Leo: Square peg, round hole; angular logic, circular reasoning
Virgo: Citation needed
Libra: The association are concerned about your recent activity in the temple. Burn the robes and ditch the sceptre before they send in the auditors
Scorpio: Avoid log flumes, better to stay away from all carnival activities where possible
Sagittarius: Are you doing something different with your arms?
Capricorn: Death of a spider, birth of a fly
Aquarius: Hold onto the past, you never know when you might need it
Pisces: Everything will be fine. I am so sorry

I mean… a lot of Welcome to Night Vale.

It’s a thought that should horrify you, that either the stars are so utterly powerful that they can impact the finest details of our lives in a plan they concocted millions of years before our existence, or that we impart such incredible meaning to an elaborate and contrived dot-to-dot picture in the sky that a vast industry revolves around it, and some people think it has greater impact on their nature than – say – rudimentary psychology!

I endeavoured to bring together cosmic horror and cynicism, weave in some surrealist humour, and offset it with just a little profundity that you could believe, for just a moment, that there might be a purpose to it all. And yes, maybe there is – on some level – a little genuine philosophy leaking out, I’ve written dozens of these things, and anything to which you’re willing to commit that much time must be important to you. And if it entertains a few people then all the better.

What do you do to exorcise your creativity? What sources of inspiration do you draw from, and how do they reflect in what you create? Come chat to us in the comments, or over on our Facebook page.


Inventory Hoarding

My name is Joel Smith, I am a hoarder.

I suppose the worst of it has been my need to build new houses to store my stuff, and to have somewhere nearby where I can drop things off. In my line of work I find myself encountering a lot of valuables, and they’re just there for me to walk away with, it’s a kind of salvage operation in dangerous areas, so I’m ultimately restoring a lot of valuable items to the general public, and I will sell them on, but I guess there’s only so much people can buy from me at any given time, so I end up sitting on a small stockpile of… I dunno, ebony hammers? Spells scrolls? Piles of dragon bones? (more…)


Why Chris Hates Monopoly

I admit that the title is a bit like clickbait, but I think it’s about time that I spoke about just how I feel about Monopoly as a game. This post will, of course, include a very strong opinion as already stated in the title, so if you’re not a fan of opinionated posts then we have plenty more articles you can read. Also, unlike your average clickbait article, I’m not going to wait until the end of the article to explain why the game has achieved the status of hatred with me. Buckle up, this might get bumpy.

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Things Ruined By Films

Oooooh, I’m in a good mood for an angry rant! Haven’t had one in a while, and this one has been preying on my mind of late.

Films – especially the big cultural phenomena – have a way of entering and shifting the social consciousness wholesale. This can be for the better, allowing film makers to affect positive social change when such change is needed, or it can create a culture all of its very own, as fans turn into gatherings turn into societies. Sometimes that change can be negative, be it a kind of misinformation, unintentionally spread by a work of fiction; or an idea so potent that it spreads despite the negative impact it can have.

This might have actual, real world consequences, but most of these are ones that just get on my nerves(more…)


Apps: A Notification of Distraction?

Tech is amazing, no matter what a detractor might say to the contrary. Every day, I wake up and check my phone to see all of the updates that came overnight. 60 emails, 10 Twitter notifications, 2 text messages and 6 personal Facebook notifications, not including the GeekOut specific ones. But in a world that’s constantly connected, sometimes, it can feel like all of this tech has turned into one big distraction.

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On Practice

Recently I got into a brief conversation on the nature of practice. In fact it’s a topic that keeps popping up lately, someone else I know was crowd sourcing ideas on how to get in to writing when you lack confidence in your ability to do so, and I found myself considering some advice that works for me, but might not be all that great for anyone else. Here’s what I didn’t say:

“Write. Keep writing. Don’t stop until you hate yourself for doing it. Then stop, because tomorrow you’re going to do it again.”

I have forgotten the last day I spent without writing anything, I carry a notebook in my manbag, I have a notepad installed on every mobile device I own, at work I carry notepads that get consumed faster when writing notes than on actual work related purposes, and even when I’m ill, or depressed, I’ll excise my frustration through words, or simply force myself to put pen to paper, hand to keyboard, black to white in some form so that I can say “today I created something”.

It works for me, I’ve looked back over some of my old work and, while I appreciate a lot of the ideas behind some of my old pieces – even on GeekOut – I still mark several differences in my writing style since I began. Even now I’m writing this at… let’s see, 00:51, ten-to-one in the morning, having woken up at an obscene hour to start the day, desperately constructing a quiz for tomorrow’s (today’s) GeekOut Shrewsbury Meet, printing the bomb defusal manual for Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes, and getting the daily duties done like eating a real meal and not just coffee and another cookie.

I do it because it makes me productive. It forces me to strive, and to accomplish, to complete projects that I set out to achieve, like the books I’m working on, the company I’m trying to set up, something more than watching all of Deep Space 9 so that I can draw judgemental comparisons to Babylon 5. And dammit I have kept to my schedule of work, producing regular content for GeekOut, beavering away at side-projects, and getting things done.

I wrote the comment above, and deleted it, in that dramatic “hold down the backspace button even though you don’t have to” fashion. Why would I encourage someone wanting to enjoy an old hobby to dive so fanatically into it in the way I have? If they had the mad devotion to writing I have then surely they wouldn’t need the advice, and if they take that advice they’ll soon lose interest in writing.

I don’t draw for example. I can draw, and I’ve no doubt I could get good at it if I devoted myself to the task, but why would I do that when a quiet doodle every now and again helps me relax after a month of hard written work? I enjoy it enough, and tend to destroy my sketches once they’re done to my satisfaction, but I take no pride in the work or set much store by the end product. It is fun.

Ultimately, if you enjoy something enough that you are willing to exhaust yourself to do it, then you are going to get good. That goes for writing, drawing, programming, the physical activities, or even public speaking. Bur don’t motivate yourself out of a good thing. Keep your hobbies as just that, and only let your passions consume you.

… Yeah, that’s what I should have wrote at the time!