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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Geek Dad

Pinball Wizards Convention Scheduled for May 1-3, 2009

by Ken Newquist / March 31, 2009

The 16th annual Pinball Wizards convention is being held May 1-3, 2009 at Allentown Fairgrounds AgriPlex. How I managed to miss this for the first 15 years it was held, I have no idea, but I've got to figure out a way to go this year. They've got game tournaments for adults and kids, a pinball-related flea market, vendors, machines for sale and a whiole slew of pinball machines (about half of Ag Hall, from what I hear) that you can play as part of the admission price.

The Secret of Game Night for Kids

by Ken Newquist / March 19, 2009

My six-year-old daughter is a gamer. She's had a Nintendo DS in her hands since she was three, and she's been playing the Xbox 360 with me almost as long. She loves video games, and would play them every night (and every day) if she could, but we knew early on we'd need to set limits.

Since Stargirl was about four and a half, we've had Game Night twice a week. Game Night is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and lasts for one hour. She can play any game she wants -- on the Xbox 360, on the DS, on my Mac, or even a good ol'board game (which she has occasionally chosen) -- but she's only got an hour.

Over the summer, we added a new wrinkle to Game Night: we take away minutes for bad behavior. Whining? Refusing to clean up your room? Yelling at your brother? Not putting your dirty laundry in the hamper? All these will cost her minutes on Game Night. She can earn these minutes back through good behavior.

Game Night's worked out well. For one thing, it's established clear limits on her gaming. She gets to play for two hours a week. She might get bonus game time on a Saturday night if the family decides to play the Wii, but that's it. Game Night's also gotten rid of the "when can I play my game?" whining that we had when she was four, and Game Night hadn't been established yet. And it's also helped with discipline.

The Geek Tree: 2008 Edition

by Ken Newquist / December 18, 2008
[img_assist|nid=2776|title=Geek Tree 2008|desc=This year's iteration of the Geek Tree looks similar to previous years, save for the addition of a 3-nacelle version of the Enterprise-D.|link=none|align=right|width=375|height=500]

The Geek Tree is back. There are no major upgrades this year; same white lights, same Buck Rogers-style lights, same Santa Yoda tree topper, same blue rockets-and-planets tree skirt. There's a new ornament -- Hallmark's 2007 three-warp-nacelled, alternative-future Enterprise-D -- but that's about it.

Not that I didn't try.

Red Ring Redux

by Ken Newquist / October 31, 2008

For the second time in two years, I have a dead Xbox 360. The machine gave me the Red Ring of Death on Sunday after crashing while running DeadSpace. The machine simply froze, and when I powered it down and powered it back again, I was greated with the ominous glowing red rings.

Normally, this would be inconvenient by manageable: Microsoft extended the manufacturer's warranty on the 360 to three years, and my Xbox is still covered. Unfortunately, this month isn't anything resembling normal. I've got three game reviews looming between late October and late November, and don't have time to wait for Microsoft to fix my box.

The first thing I tried was stopping by Best Buy; I got the extended warranty for my first Xbox 360, and when it died I was able to walk into their store and get a replacement. Unfortunately, the warranty was from the original date of purchase and wasn't extended when I got the replacement.

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