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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

Four Essential Apps for Windows Netbooks

by Ken Newquist / August 6, 2009

My family recently got an Asus netbook, which has plunged me once again into the world of Windows XP. Fortunately I came prepared -- while I spend most of my day on a Mac, I occasionally dual boot into XP on my MacBook Pro, and I've accumulated a number of must-have utilities for thriving in Windows.

Launchy: A fast application launcher that allows you to quickly find and run applications on your computer. It's roughly equivelent of Quicksilver on the Mac, though Quicksilver offers more advanced capabilities.

Cute PDF: A free PDF creator for Windows; "print" your document to the Cute PDF printer and it spits out a finished PDF. It's something I do instinctively on the Mac; it's nice to have that functionality in Windows as well.

Bonjour for Windows: Apple's Bonjour software lets you quickly find shared printers on a network. I use this to print to my Airport Express-connected HP LaserJet printer. The alternative is trying to use the Windows network printing utility, and that way lies madness.

The Blue Dolphin Splashes Down at Nuketown

by Ken Newquist / July 31, 2009

This is my first-ever post written on my family's spiffy new Asus Eee PC netbook, aka "The Blue Dolphin", so named because it's small and blue, which led my wife to describe it as a baby blue dolphin on Twitter.

Anyway ... we decided to get a netbook as a direct result of our summer vacation; I could have used it at Origins, and it would have been handy to have for writing on Butler Island on Lake Champlain (where we spent a week hanging out with family friends).

It's a cute little machine -- it ships with a 160 GB hard drive, wireless N support, a 4 cell battery capable of up to eigth hours of use (assuming you use the Asus power management tools), three USB ports, an SD card reader, an ethernet port and Windows XP.

I'll forgive it for that last bit; I don't have the energy to hack this thing to run Mac OS X, and if I have to run Windows, XP isn't too bad (though I am curious about trying Windows 7 on it). The whole thing cost about $300 from Amazon. which made it a fairly inexpensive experiment.

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.