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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

Deciphering the Red Rings of Death

by Ken Newquist / January 28, 2007

Red Ring of Death If your Xbox 360 is red-ringing, and you're looking for half a clue as to why, check out the AV Science Forum's 3 Red Rings Xbox Diagnostic. It explains how to put your 360 in to diagnostic mode, and what the different patterns of flashing lights mean, such as "0001 power supply problem" or "0022 GPU Error / GPU Overheating".

It didn't work for me -- my 360 went into diagnostic mode, but didn't give me any codes (or at least, none that I immediately grasped). Still, it's worked for others, including a friend of mine, so it's worth checking out.

Geek Gazette's Feb./Mar. Issue Online

by Ken Newquist / January 27, 2007

The February/March 2007 issue of the Geek Gazette webzine is online and ready for download. This time around there are video game reviews of Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Justice League Heroes for PlayStation 2, thoughts on geek culture's invasion of the mainstream, a rundown of the D&D 4E rumor mill and speculations on when (and if) it will be released, an editorial on the merits of frequenting your friendly neighborhood gaming store vs. shopping online for games, and an increasingly robust convention calendar.

The issue clocks in at 12 pages, but as always it's a quick and enjoyable read. I'm torn regarding Michael Scott's local gaming store vs. online shopping editorial -- while I agree in principle, in truth it's damn hard to find a good gaming store nowadays, particularly a good RPG gaming store. At least in my area, stores have an anemic selection of titles that only covers the basics. It's sad (though understandable, given their margins and the risk of carrying "dead" RPG titles for years) but if I want to buy an RPG locally, I'm much better of heading to the local Borders than I am going to any of the local comic book stores.

Longing for Warcraft IV

by Ken Newquist / January 26, 2007

Cover: Warcraft III - The Frozen ThroneWith my Xbox 360 dead but blinking, I am forced to fall back on some of my older games to get my twitch fix, which (as is almost always the case) means I'm firing up Warcraft III.

Playing through the Night Elf campaign in Frozen Throne, I was once again impressed by how good this game is … and how well it holds up. It's just as much fun as it was three years ago when I'd playing at 3 a.m. with baby Jordan cradled in one arm. In large part this is because Warcraft III is a computerized version of the wargames I played as a kid. Even up until the dawning days of middle school I would fight huge, room-spawning battles between GI Joes, army men, Micronauts (yes, a few survived into the mid-80s), Lincoln Logs, LEGOS and, of course, dinosaurs.

Blogging with Monkey Feet

by Ken Newquist / January 25, 2007

My sister has a blog, Monkey Foot Designs, which also happens to be the name of her craft business. Lots of crafting goodness to be found, the occasional home improvement post (in this, my sister and I are alike) and periodic photos of my niece Sydney wearing one of Kris's latest designs. There's absolutely no geek content, but it does make me want to pick up an issue of Craft.

Role-Playing Possibilities with The Complete Two Towers, Disc 1

by Ken Newquist / January 24, 2007

Cover: The Complete Two TowersThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - The Complete Recordings by Howard Shore and released by Reprise Records is a huge collection containing 3+ hours of music from the movie spread over three CDs and augmented by a video DVD documenting the soundtrack's production. It's so huge that a single review won't do it justice, so instead, I'm blogging it. View the "Blogging the Complete Two Towers" category for the complete list of posts in this series.

P2P Cellular Networks for Citizen Disaster Response

by Ken Newquist / January 23, 2007

Over at Contrary Brin, science fiction author David Brin laments the collapse of our high tech cell phone network during the Katrina disaster and proposes a way to avoid subsequent cellular catastrophes: peer-to-peer networking.

His idea is so simple that you have to wonder why it isn't being done: when cell phones lose the ability to contact their local tower, switch to a back-up mode that allows them to find and talk with other phones. While voice would probably be too much for an ad hoc network, text messaging would work just fine.

Blogging the Complete Two Towers: Disc 1

by Ken Newquist / January 22, 2007

Cover: The Complete Two TowersThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - The Complete Recordings by Howard Shore and released by Reprise Records is a huge collection containing 3+ hours of music from the movie spread over three CDs and augmented by a video DVD documenting the soundtrack's production. It's so huge that a single review won't do it justice, so instead, I'm blogging it. View the "Blogging the Complete Two Towers" category for the complete list of posts in this series.

My first impression as the music starts playing -- and I'm immediately confronted with notes I haven't heard since watching The Two Towers-- is that the difference between this and the regular soundtrack is like the difference between reading the books and watching the movies.

The movies give you a beautiful experience … but the books give you depth. And that's what the complete series CDs give you as well -- every note played on screen, evoking every musical sense that you felt. No short cuts, no abridgments, just Howard Shore's beautiful music.

The Red Ring of Death

by Ken Newquist / January 21, 2007

Red Ring of Death You've got to give it to Microsoft -- no one creates iconic crash messages like they do. The Blue Screen of Death tormented and terrified millions of Windows users and while it's appearances have been greatly diminished since the release of XP, it's legend lives on.

Now with the 360, Microsoft has created a new error message that's quickly burning itself into the consciousness of gamers: the Red Ring of Death. In a functioning 360, the power button is surrounded by a green ring that says everything's "ok" and notes which controllers are connected. When things go wrong though, this self-same ring flashes red. This signal of doom indicates everything from an unplugged video cable to critical hardware failure.

CNN: Planes with freaking LASER beams...

by Ken Newquist / January 17, 2007

CNN reports that the first commercial jet with an onboard anti-missile laser system is now in operation. It's part of a pilot program to see how Northrop Grumman's Guardian anti-missile system behaves on a working commercial jetliner, and what impact it has on its maintenance and operational schedule.

The system works by firing an invisible laser beam at the guidance system of an on-rushing missile, disrupting it and causing the projectile to miss the plane. The goal is to prevent attacks by shoulder-launched missiles, but since officials say it could take 20 years to equip the commercial fleet with such system, you have to wonder if it's worth it. Won't some other, more modern threat to planes have emerged by then? Or will the missile technology be so cheap and widespread that we'll have terrorists regularly taking potshots at jetliners as they fly overhead?

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