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December 2011 Archives

Dec
29
2011

Ooh, Sparkly!

Silverbakc with a DS?

I bet he favors the blue shell. Sigh.

The holidays went by fast this year. So fast that we can practically see the crumpled wads of wrapping paper swirling the their wake. So fast that we can still taste the eggnog and are wondering where our sleep went. Does this mean we're getting old?

Anyway, if you missed any of the festive and amusing links that we posted around the interweb in all of that hubub, you're in luck! We wrote this post just for you.

Links from the Twitter, Google +, and Facebook 'verse:

We have a seven foot Lego Dalek. Your argument is invalid. (Daily Mail)

So where do you line your quarters up if you want a turn? (YouTube)

Battling ninja together is so romantic. (Flickr)

A Sith and a Jedi in love? How can this be! (Aww) (Michael James Photo Studio)

Can't tell if this is a good idea, or a very bad one. (Vancouver Sun)

Need inspiration for what to do with that white stuff falling from the sky? (Nerd Approved)

Technological fire dance, GO! (YouTube)

Kitty! (YouTube)

Are you cutely roaring Jingle bells now, too? Good. (Makerbot)

Was your holiday an 8-bit holiday? No? We can fix that. (YouTube)

We'd sign the waiver. (Discovery)

Happy birthday! Let's smash a Dalek's armor open and eat his tender insides! YUM! (Pea Pilly Bean)

Having a hard day? Here, have some pandas. (YouTube)

13 Words you should be working into...Hey! Who is that guarding Wil Wheaton's chips? He's familiar... (Mentalfloss)

Star Wars, as retold by someone who never finished watching the original trilogy. (YouTube)

Angry Birds, the Orchestral movement. (NPR)

There's not much more celebratory than exploding, glitter-filled ornaments. (The Inspiration Grid)

A chart of every significant Batman suit EVER. For your records. (Screen Rant)

The "Masterminds" behind the Jersey Shore want Geeks. I'm scared. (Fandom Casting)

Boy drops DS into a gorilla enclosure. Gorilla proceeds to obliterate his high scores. (GamesRadar)

Turn off annotations, turn up the volume, and get moving! (YouTube)

Eat it, before it eats you! (YouTube)

Riley lays down some serious marketing wisdom. (YouTube)

And now: Kevin tries to eat a tomato. (YouTube)

A Hard Drive circa 1956. Careful there. (Retronaut)

It seems that the vibrations in your pelvic region have reached tolerance level. Fascinating. (YouTube)

Paging Mr. Savage and Mr. Hyneman. Please come to the blue courtesy car. (YouTube)

He mentions weeping angels. FANTASTIC. (YouTube)

He's a pink nightmare! (Draw2D2)

We'd also sign this waiver. (YouTube)

Mochachu, I choose you! (Kotaku)

Brian Cox explains why atoms are empty. With hilarious help from Simon Pegg. (YouTube)

Lulz circa 1903 (New Scientist)

Siri, please. We're all calm here. There's no need to AARRGGGHHHHLLLGURGLE. (YouTube)

Is it bad that when we saw this TARDIS fabric, we wanted to paper the walls with it? (SpoonFlower)

Now. Onwards, into the new year! 2012, here we come!

Timmy rocking out, lilke a rockstar!

As the year draws to a close, we ThinkGeek Monkeys have but one thing on our minds. Top 5 lists.

What, you were expecting bacon?

Being the dorks that we are, ranking and organizing information is a minor obsession of ours. As we started ranking our top 5 musical artists of the year, we realized that not sharing this scintillating information would be quite selfish of us.

So without further ado, we present to you a sampling of the top 5 monkey approved albums of 2011!

Listed by Monkey, in no particular order:

Matt, web designerd who brought you our lovely mobile site this fall:
1. Glassjaw - Coloring Book EP
2. Glassjaw - Our Color Green (The Singles EP)
3. Middle Brother - Middle Brother
4. Thrice - Major/Minor
5. Gillian Welch - The Harrow & The Harvest

Kochis, product wrangler in charge of such items as the Sonic Screwdriver and Chestburster:
1. Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis (Paralyzing Edition)
2. Childish Gambino - Camp
3. Alkaline Trio - Damnesia
4. Polkadot Cadaver - Sex Offender
5. Del the Funky Homosapien - Golden Era

Zack, video monkey you often see being kicked in the groin or otherwise abused:
1. Mister Heavenly - Out of Love
2. The Drums - Portamento
3. The Antlers - Burst Apart
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr - It's A Corporate World
5. Say Hi - Uhm, Uh Oh

Ken, customer service techni-monkey who you may have spoken with on the phone:
1. Black Milk - Live at Third Man Studios
2. Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi - Rome
3. The Black Keys - El Camino
4. Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean
5. WyntonMarsalis & Eric Clapton - Play The Blues

Josh (aka Disco), customer service livechat operator extraordinaire:
1. Absu - Abzu
2. Cold Cave - Cherish the Light Years
3. Death Grips - Ex Military
4. 40 Watt Sun - The Inside Room
5. Burzum - Fallen

Shane, PR monkey and almighty giver of the review samples:
1. Light Bearer - Lapsus
2. Braveyoung - We Are Lonely Animals
3. The Atlas Moth - An Ache For The Distance
4. Anne - Dream Punx
5. Deafheaven - Roads to Judah

Christian, designerd responsible for all our packaging and many of our shirts:
1. Cults - Self-Titled
2. Phantogram - Nightlife
3. Chapel Club - Palace
4. I Break Horses - Hearts
5. Washed Out - Within and Without

David, customer service ninja/humorist:
1. The Streets - Cyberspace and Reds
2. Adele - 21
3. Absu - Abzu
4. Wavves - Life Sux
5. Tom Waits - Bad As Me

Carrie, social media and email monkey at your beck and call:
1. They Might Be Giants - Join Us
2. Marian Call - Something Fierce
3. Jonathan Coulton - Artificial Heart
4. MC Frontalot - Solved
5. Dutch Band Organ - This maybe doesn't count for 2011 but I don't care

There you have it! What albums would you list as your favorites from 2011?

Cast your memory back--way back before planking, Chuck Testa, horsemanning, and Nyan Cat. Yes, before even Rebecca Black rose to internet-crushing power in February 2011, or the world knew what a "fascinator" was.

If you can recall those gentler, more innocent days, you may remember that in January we pledged to give $1,000 to a worthy charity each month of 2011.

And now we've arrived at our final and twelfth donation. Before we reveal this month's recipient, let's review 2011:

Lane's Endor clubhouse

January: Child's Play to provide goodies for auction
February: DonorsChoose in support of needy classrooms
March: Red Cross after Japan's 8.9 magnitude earthquake
April: Autism Speaks (and we're working with ASAN this spring)
May: Kids Need to Read to provide literacy resources to disadvantaged children
June: Make a Wish Foundation (and a GP2X Wiz for Simon)
July: FIRST, to support childrens' access to science and technology
August: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for research on and cure for CF
September: DonorsChoose to provide prizes for teachers
October: Extra Life and Children's Miracle Network in support of their gaming donate-a-thon
November: Lane's wish to have an Endor clubhouse and a donation in support of MDA.org

Thanks for everyone's support in helping us find and choose our charities--your comments on Twitter, Facebook, and G+ have been instrumental! We plan to continue giving in 2012 so keep those suggestions coming. (The comment thread below would be a great place to start!)

Our donation for December: SOME

So Others Might Eat

For this month, we only had to look outside at the cold and the rain (and the eventual snow) to realize we should give close to home, and to those who need help keeping a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and food on their plates.

So we chose SOME--also known as So Others Might Eat--based out of Washington, DC., our neighboring fair city. SOME was founded in 1970 to help feed those in need, and today they serve the poor and homeless with food, clothing, and health care. They also work to break the cycle of homelessness with job training, affordable housing, and counseling for those with mental illness.

With charitable giving decreasing in a down economy, the first organizations to feel the pinch are those supporting the homeless, where the need rises most. So we hope our donation helps fill the void for SOME.

If you're thinking about donating this holiday season, we'd suggest finding a local shelter near you, and if you don't have much budget, you can always donate your time. Need help choosing? We've found Charity Navigator a good resource. (Here's how SOME ranks.)

Thanks again for supporting our $1,000-a-month project, and we'll see you back here with another donation in the new year!

RE-FRIG-ERATE!

RE-FRIG-ERATE! RE-FRIG-ERATE!

Ah, at last! It's that time of year when we're mostly glad we don't have snow yet, but we long for the chance to build a masterpiece like the Dalek above. Hopefully we'll see enough white stuff in Fairfax, Virginia to make a few Weeping Snow Angels of our own--but not enough to trap us in our cubes with dwindling food supplies.

In the meantime, here are our favorite links from the past week to distract you. Enjoy!

Newton's private diaries published online for first time. See you in a few days. (Cambridge Digital Library)

Chewbacca singing "Silent Night" is so much worse than you can imagine (YouTube)

Qwerty Sculptures (ScrapHacker)

How bees are like the internet: they headbutt dissenters into agreement (Ars Technica)

How to wrap a Dalek (Twitter via @KTK1990)

And we still don't really understand fractals in nature (io9)

Why you hear the same 9 holiday songs every year (xkcd)

MythBusters very sorry but cannonball refuses to apologize for dangerous joyride (ABC News)

Google's response to Siri is codenamed "Majel." Enough said. (Android and Me)

Did you miss Saturday's lunar eclipse? Us too. (Space.com)

Best white noise machine ever: Enterprise ambient engine noise (YouTube)

Dodd's Serta Trek defies all logic and good taste (YouTube)

... and Something Awful's Starship Baconprise is just as special. (A kind-of explanation from Something Awful)

Amazing photograph of lightning makes a great desktop (NatGeo)

Patrick's mother warned him about playing video games too much. Then one day he woke up like this. (YouTube)

Still Alive sung a capella by Video Game Music Choir (YouTube)

The most intense Taekwondo fight ever (YouTube)

Attack of the baby sloths!! Run away... slowly! (YouTube)

Daytime fireworks are truly a work of art (YouTube)

Should Jimmy Wales blackout Wikipedia? (UPDATE: SOPA goes up for vote today! Contact your representatives!) (Wikipedia and EFF)

Think outside the box with this clever stop motion animation (Vimeo)

Geeky gingerbread collection looks too awesome to eat (The Mary Sue)

Hey, somebody lose a trampoline? (YouTube)

Togepi sings Mario Bros theme (YouTube)

Owl pets dog (and can't help but look sinister) (YouTube)

Death Stars made of LEGO are cool, but working potato harvesters are trickier! (YouTube)

Demand to see life's manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons!

We recently got some troubling news from Matt in Sacramento, California: his Cave Johnson Talking Portrait blew a chip when the batteries were inserted backwards.

He was even kind enough to send us some pictures:

scorched circuit board

While that might be the response you'd expect from Mr. Johnson, it's not something we wanted to happen with our portrait. And unfortunately our customer service response was less than stellar, so it was later in the day before our GeekLabs techs scrambled to find a frame at ThinkGeek HQ. They sacrificed our marketing monkey's portrait--the one he'd bought for his kids--and found a build problem on the main circuit board.

It's pretty basic: if the batteries are installed backwards in the frame, a small microchip in the board will short, rendering the Cave Johnson portrait inoperable and unable to produce sound. In these cases, the chip may make a popping sound and generate a slight burning smell.

The bad news is that this defect will destroy the chip in question and subtract the "Talking" part from the item's description, but the good news is that the rest of the portrait is unaffected and there is no danger of fire. This is not the lemon that will burn your house down; that one's still in development.

how to insert batteries

We're working on getting this issue fixed with future Cave Johnson Talking Portraits and properly labeling the boxes with battery instructions (like above), but if you were one of the lucky test subjects to snag one early on and experience any trouble, please give us a call at 1-888-GEEKSTUFF. We will be happy to refund your purchase or supply one of the corrected Cave Johnson Talking Portraits as soon as they are available.

We apologize for the error in the circuit board; a mistake like this is no small thing, and we know it's bad timing what with the holidays looming ever nearer. Many thanks to Matt who carefully documented the issue, making it easy for us to get to the root of the problem.

Mr. Johnson would respect that kind of dedication, and unlike Aperture, we actually do prefer a little hand-holding when it comes to science. But don't eat the Conversion Gel--that's still a bad idea.

This was once a pentax!

This is not at all dramatic.

The internet has been a little quiet over the past week. We suspect that folks are too busy buying shiny baubles for their loved ones to find the strange and interesting to share with us all. However, we managed to find a few exceptional things for you during our travels through the wired. Enjoy!

Links from the Twitter, Google +, and Facebook 'verse:

If this really happens, we are going to be so stoked. (YouTube)

OmfNomfNomfNomfNothingoddhereNomf (YouTube)

Stephen Hawking on time travel. (Letters of Note)

How to lose $2,400 in 24 seconds. (Vimeo)

Googly Eyes, EVERYWHERE! (EyeBombing)

We're torn as to who to root for, here... (Youtube)

Give a bunch of geeks some equipment and time, and this is what happens. (YouTube)

The cast of Doctor Who reading bedtime stories. We will treasure this forever. (Set Phasers to lol)

There might be another "Class M" planet out there. Awesome. (ArsTechnica)

Want some serious privacy? Take a look at this home built over and out of a missile silo! (Ny Daily News)

Yep. We just made you watch that. You're welcome! (YouTube)

Batman needs to work on his boundaries. (YouTube)

Myth, Busted? (SF Gate)

WHEW. (Adam Savage, via Twitter)

And now for something completely different! (YouTube)

This looks funsafe! (YouTube)

11 functional TARDISES. TARDII? (MentalFloss)

Mysterious paper sculptures have been appearing in Edinburgh's libraries. They are AMAZING. (This Central Station)

Rumor has it that scientists at CERN have discovered the Higgs Boson. (Guardian)

In case you were wondering, we won't be carrying this Angry Birds gown. Sorry, ladies! (Kotaku)

Ooh, Pretty! (Flickr)

Have an old Samsung 13" CRT laying around? (Neatorama)

The T4RD15 Vworps into Virginia. (Jamie Rubin.net)

Archeologists traced the concept of homework back to 2300BC! (Boing Boing)

Poop-throwing in chimps is a sign of intelligence! Take that! (Physorg)

Those paper sculptures are making us eye our libraries in a speculative way. We must resist. The stories. They are too precious.

Meet Chris!

She looks so dubiously at the camera. That's good. That means she's learning.

Welcome all to the third installation of our Customer Service Monkey social experiment (aka interviews)! Last week we asked you if we should interview one of our newly-minted mini-monkeys and the answer was a resounding yes. We also asked you to help us come up with some clever questions to ask and boy did you ever deliver! You brilliant masses, you.

The victim we chose for this week is: Chris! She's a huge fan of Hellboy (can you tell?), Eddie Izzard, The Oblongs, and Star Wars. She's got a keen eye for fashion, quick wits, and is more than a little wacky. Basically, when you call and get her, it will be more than okay to make a "Cake or Death!" joke. She'll understand.

Our new and improved interview:

What makes you the most excited to come into work in the morning?
Seeing the little Hellboy on my desk every time and dodging galloping German Shepherds! I love the ability to talk to our international geeks too, and chatting about the latest episode of Dexter while we process things.

Who would win in a fight: Darth Vader or Morpheus? (Matrix version; Neil Gaiman's Morpheus would win too easily, and that's no fun.)
Aw, Gaiman's Shadow would have been a better option! But seriously, Vader. Is that really a question?

What are your feelings about the lives and families of the contractors on the Death Star?
Eddie Izzard's Death Star Canteen bit summed it up best. I think they were all plucky, confused folks with cockney accents, and it was an unfortunate loss. Never forget! But that's the danger of working on a moon-sized laser ship created by an evil empire.

Spock or Kirk. Who would be the best boss?
Kirk. He knows how to party. But you can't be a red shirt and enjoy working for Kirk--you'll die in a week.

ThinkGeek HQ has become isolated from the rest of humanity. It's about to go all Lord of the Flies in this joint. Where do you stake out your territory and what 7 ThinkGeek items do you requisition as supplies? Quick! Before your coworkers beat you to them!
In the lab! Power tools! Line the area with Portal Turrets for proximity sensors, the 19-in-1 Tool, Tauntaun Sleeping Bag, DIY Juice-to-Alcohol kit (make Molotov cocktails), a mace made from Titanium Sporks, the Dexter kill shirt (gotta look serious), and my TARDIS coffee mug to stay caffeinated.

If you could borrow the TARDIS to give a young Bill Gates one piece of advice before the birth of Microsoft, what would it be?
Wear a black turtleneck all the time.

What was your strangest and/or best experience at ThinkGeek HQ?
Turning around to do something and two huge dogs that came from nowhere were just staring at me, and the office breaking into "Take These Broken Wings." And Jimmy is always a strange experience.

What is the most interesting way you've had bacon?
In a strawberry-chocolate souffle. A friend once tried to make bacon beer, but that was organ-melting awful. I'm more of an Old Bay fan really.

Which would you rather get a chance to fly on and why: the Enterprise (choose one) or the Millennium Falcon?
Falcon! To play hide-and-seek in storage compartments, smuggle action figures and shoes, seeing how fast we could do the Kessel Run, and hang with Han!

Do you play your games with dice, cards, keyboards or controllers?
Controllers, unless it's Team Fortress 2. I am a wizard at Pokemon cards though!


Wait. She's a gamer, too!? Sorry folks, we need to cut this post short. We need to challenge her to a game. See you guys later, and stay tuned for more interviews!

This was once a pentax!

Alas, poor camera, I knew him well Hora...Oooh, Shiny!

As last week was EAT ALL THE THINGS week, we didn't post our usual link roundup. We were too busy nomming down cranberry sauce and turkey. So this means that you guys get a massive list of 41 links from the past TWO weeks! Enjoy!

Links from the Twitter, Google +, and Facebook 'verse:

Awesome LEGO art: LEGO Steampunk Typewriter. (Flickr)

Awesome LEGO art part two: Minecraft. It HAD to happen. (ArsTechnica)

Can a Sith love a Jedi? Apparently, yes! (Michael James Photo Studio)

This toad has a parasite in it's eye. Ugh. FASCINATING. (YouTube)

Cake that is too pretty to eat. Almost. (Fire and Icing cakes via Flickr)

Yodagami! (Twitter @Ice_Khu)

Goooooooaaaaa*SNORTBARK*aaaaaal! (Youtube)

The family the assimilates together, stays together! (Winnie Wow)

Video games as muse? Of course! (NPR)

Coolest. Bedroom. Ever. (YouTube)

We welcome our giant snake robot masters. (YouTube)

Cutest. Elder god. EVER. (YouTube)

Twitter? In my EYE? Yes please. (i09)

Best. Abstract. Ever. (BoingBoing)

Fashion predictions of the FUTURE! From the 1930s. (YouTube)

Mi bosco cupcake NomNomNom. (Tumblr)

The Super Mario Theme on accordian. From Bulgaria. (YouTube)

Your controller is: Your own urine! (YouTube)

A Doctor Who Christmas tree? We approve. (Tumblr)

Super Mario Bros.: The 8-Bit Opera. (YouTube)

We can't wait for snow, now. We MUST try this. (Obvious Winner)

We're just waiting for this gingerbread At-At to fall over so we can nom up the pieces. (Instagram)

This was a triumph. I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS. (YouTube)

Remember the ginger seal that was shunned by her colony? She's doing just fine! (Dailymail)

Our knitting geeks grinned so hugely when they saw this. (Waikato)

Aliens on ice. If only we could buy tickets. (YouTube)

A soft robot, crawling. Hrm. (YouTube)

A turkey and a deer fall in love... (Dailymail)

Mark Hamill thought his son could play a young Luke! (Vimeo)

This makes our brains go funny. In a good way. (BoingBoing)

Technology in pieces--lots of beautiful, shiny pieces. (But Does It Float)

The cake was a lie, but the gingerbread is a whole different story. (DeviantArt)

Hey, what are these funny looking paintings? *Walks left* WHOA! (Bored Panda)

A geeky dating show. This will either be awesome and heartwarming, or a tragedy. (YouTube)

WhiiiiirrrrWHEEEEEE! (YouTube)

Mall owners track their customers movements through the mall...via their cell phone signals. Hm. (Ars Technica)

Poop throwing by chimps is a sign of intelligence. In related news: STAND BACK. (PhysOrg)

Giant, fractal pecan pie. Mathematically delicious! (Neatorama)

The holidays are here! Time to distract and wow your family with SCIENCE! (YouTube)

Proof that we're still in the Matrix. (YouTube)

The top 25 worst passwords of 2011. If you're using any of these, it's password changing time! (CNet)

So how many calories do you think all of that clicking worked off? 200?