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BLURGH! The ThinkGeek Blog... Grok It!

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January 2012 Archives

Did you hear about our little extracurricular gift-giving project in December? The one that Consumerist blogged so nicely about? Let me explain.

No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

See, in mid-December we heard about a certain young Browncoat couple named Wash (oh yes, that kind of Wash) and Tashi. Just a few months after they were married, Wash was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme--terminal brain cancer--and he underwent two brain surgeries to remove an apple-sized tumor when he was only 25 years old. Most patients are given months to live, but that was two years ago.

From Tashi's blog posts, we learned that Wash was having a difficult winter, and we decided to send them some geeky holiday cheer. It's the least we could do for fellow Browncoats, and it's not that unusual for us to send goodies just 'cause. (We're soft-hearted like that.)

But it's really, really unusual for the recipients to alert the presses before we'd even received their thank you email! Just as their note hit our inboxes, we got appreciative tweets and kind words from those who had already read the story on Consumerist, and as we worked to keep up with the responses we thought we should keep the warm fuzzies going somehow.

So we asked Wash and Tashi if there was any particular charity near and dear to their hearts that would welcome a $1,000 donation from ThinkGeek. It didn't take long for them to reply with someone doing very special work.

Thus we'd like to announce our first $1,000 monthly donation in 2012, given in honor of Wash: GrayMatters Foundation, founded by Lanette Veres.

Lanette is a brain cancer survivor and her turtle logo says it all: Brain tumors stink! She works to bring brain cancer patients cheer and comfort with gifts, cards, and hospital visits because she's been there, too. In 1998, she was diagnosed with Anaplastic Oligodendroglioma, and by 2007 she'd had five surgeries, and she's been reaching out to patients ever since. That's how Wash and Tashi got to know Lanette.

Our donation is going towards goodies delivered to GrayMatters' Brain Buddies, and we hope it brings a smile! Brains are very important to us--and not just because we're zombies--and it's heartening to know that Lanette is out there doing good work.

Thanks, Lanette and the GrayMatters crew for your work, and thanks, Wash and Tashi, for bringing it to our attention!

As for our February donation, you can probably guess what it'll be if you've been following our donations for the last two years. If not, we'll just leave this link here.


Step right up!


The windswept dunes of Mars. Both gorgeous and a little desolate, don't you agree?

Welcome to this weeks installation of "Stuff we found that's awesome!" We've scoured the web so that you don't have to!

Click through and marvel at the wonders of the internet from this past week. Boggle at the weirdness of science! Squee at the cuteness of tiny animals!

Or, you know, just enjoy.

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

Let's help this guy make dialysis fun! (The Afternoon Tide)

It's 1:59 of awesome. (YouTube)

Doctor!? (Yahoo)

To discover new worlds and new civilizations... (YouTube)

Bonus: Ewok and Chewie dogs! (Laughing Squid)

We see what you did there. Clever! (Super Punch)

This is where you are, RIGHT NOW. (YouTube)

Uh, you, um, have something on your back... (YouTube)

This baby robot wants your love! Or perhaps your soul. (YouTube)

Who could say no? (imgur)

Issac has a posse. (Flickr)

Best error page, or bestest error page? (kvartirakrasivo)

Naked sea butterflies look like this. (Clione)

More crazy awesome sea creatures! (Clione)

You know what your afternoon needs? A tap dancing cat. (YouTube)

Problimatica. Now that we know about these creatures, we're going to lose SO much sleep reading everything about them. (i09)

Need a new wallpaper? Try the windswept sand dunes of Mars. (NASA)

The Walking Dead + Growing Pains = Amazingness. (Movieweb)

This little guy made it all the way to space and back! We're jealous. (YouTube)

Take note, giving out your new cell number when bored is not the best entertainment idea. Or IS it? (Reddit)

Well. It IS a spiral staircase. (YouTube)

How mathematicians say hi. (Walking Randomly)

Star Wars Uncut. This is the epitome of the internet, folks! (YouTube)

You know all of these, right? Carry on. (YouTube)

Whovians, sate thyselves on 9 minutes of every Doctor Who episode to date! (YouTube)

A brief and mostly wrong history of programming languages. (YouTube)

Wait...what? (amateurphotographer)

From the Sorry About Your Drought but This Is Really Interesting department (Tecca)

Official Minecraft LEGO sets!? Yes please! (Kotaku)

Gnomeo and Juliet: The Sequel? (imgur)

Ow! Neck crick! Must. Leave. Computer. And. Take. Walk.


Timmy is here to help!

Have you ever thought: "ThinkGeek, I have a simple question, but I don't want to bother your hardworking monkeys! Where can I easily find my answer?"

This post is for you.

While we do have several places on our site that go over our more common policies in detail, we understand that sometimes you need a translator to transform policy into geeky English. We bugged our intrepid Customer Service Monkeys about what you guys asked most often, and this is the distilled essence of their answers.


What's the total transit time of an order, especially for one sent expedited? Does my order ship right away?

  • Your order usually takes one to two business days to process in the warehouse before the shipper ever gets it. It's sometimes less, but one to two business days is the most common.
  • The 2-day, next-day, ground shipping clock doesn't start ticking until the shipper gets it. So a next-day order placed on a Wednesday should ship out no later than Monday, and will arrive on Tuesday. Basically, tack an extra day or two onto your expectation of the shipping time.
  • Shipping days are calculated in terms of business days. This means that weekends and holidays are excluded. So if you place a next-day order on a Friday, it will likely show up the following Wednesday.

I was charged duties and taxes on my order when it was dropped off. What gives?

Customs, duties and brokerage fees are some things that we really can't predict or calculate for you. (We've totally tried!) If you're an international-to-us Geek, there's a more than good chance that your shipper will have a little extra fee to assess when they drop your order off. Try to keep that in mind when you're placing your order, and account for it if you can. You might have luck seeking out your local customs officials and quizzing them on how much folks are generally charged for toys and textiles as well.

All of this shipping talk leads easily into the next most commonly asked about topic:


Wait a tick! How does one go about setting up a return? I'm lost!

Be not afraid! You can bug our Customer Service Monkeys by any of the avenues listed on this page, or you can set up your return yourself if you're feeling adventurous!

Here's how to do it:

  • First! You have to have a ThinkGeek account, and had to be logged in when you placed the order that you're returning stuff from.
  • Go to the very top right of your screen, there should be a handy "Account" link.
  • Click it!
  • You'll see a handy list of links, but the one that you want will be the third one, "Order Management".
  • Your recent orders are hanging out there. On the far right of each order listing you'll see two links "View Details" and "Return". Just click the "Return" link and follow its lead!

I wanna return a gifted thing! How do I do this?

Easy! Just bug our Customer Service Monkeys and they'll set that return up for you! They can even do it stealthily so that your gifter doesn't know that you'd rather have a Doctor Who thing than an Minecraft thing. (We're ninjas)

I received a broken thing! Do I need to send it back in its original packaging like the auto-reply email tells me to?

Nope! If the thing you received was actually broken or dead on arrival, you had to open it to find this out. We understand this! Just package it up in such a way that it will get to us in mostly one piece and put your RMA number on the box. You'll be good to go!

However, if you decided mid-transport that you really don't need three cans of unicorn meat and there is nothing actually wrong with the goodies you got, you will have to send it back with the original packaging. So we can share that unicorn meat with a geek who actually wants some. You know how it is.

How long does it take for my return to be processed and for my face to be happy again?

Well, that depends on a lot of things: how long it takes to get the return from you to our warehouse, if the warehouse monkeys are bogged down with lots and lots of returns (Sorry! It sucks when that happens), and if you're getting a replacement, how long it takes for it to get from our warehouse to you.

If you drop off your return at the post office it can take upwards of a week to ten days to get to the warehouse. So there's that to think about.

It takes the warehouse about four days to a week to process your return. After the holidays it's usually more like a week than four days.

Then if we're sending you replacement loot, it usually goes at the same speed that you set your original order to come to you. That means that if you chose economy originally your replacement will take seven to ten days to get to you, and ground is five to seven days, and so on.

So what does all this mean in average time? A replacement will take an average of three to four weeks to get back to you once you've shipped the broken loot back to us.

Refunds take about two and a half weeks to get back to your bank account. Less time there because of the lack of physically having to ship stuff.

"Gasp! That is awesome, ThinkGeek! But wait! I have more questions!"

Oh you do? Excellent! If you have something general and FAQ-like that you'd like us to tackle in a future post like this, let us know in the comments. Also, we are totally happy to clarify anything in the comments as well, so get to commenting if you're at all confused!

Until next time, Space Cowboys!


Unicorn poop cookies. Let that concept sink in for a moment.

We think that Unicorn Poop pretty much sums up the pleasantly confusing unrelated batch of links that we shared this week. Fascinating, sparkly, and utterly incongruous.

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

Best crocheted cyclops costume or BESTEST crocheted cyclops costume? (Craftzine)

Magnets + Gravity = A pretty awesome stool! (Vimeo)

Please say hi to the tiniest frog ever. (BBC News)

Mmm, delicious poop! (Instructables)

A Saturn V, in LEGO. (Flickr)

A teenage ZOMBIE romance? Please say it ain't so!. (Comingsoon)

Quick! Click away before it rolls ove...Oops. Now you're dead from cute. (Dailymail)

Hello, is this the mashup you're looking for? (Vimeo)

He's only the most delicious Storm Trooper ever. (Oakleaf Cakes)

Could the Death Star destroy a planet? Maybe! (Smithsonian)

A transparent, recursive google image search. Awesome, but beware the NSFW images scattered though! (Vimeo)

Prettiest LOTR cake EVER. (CakeCentral)

One ring to rule them all? (The Daily What)

SCIENCE! (YouTube)

Want more information on SOPA/PIPA? We've got you covered. (Various)

How NOT to handle liquid nitrogen (YouTube)

Come to the Bark Side, we have biscuits. (MentalFloss)

My little Pony: Skyrim is Magic (YouTube)

Super Awesome LEGO Hobbit set. (Nerd Approved)

Trafic jams move like shockwaves. Unsurprising! (YouTube)

Lord Voldemort has returned! (Nerd Approved)

Best or worst Batman programming pun? Either way, we're entertained. (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

Daleks or shuttle engines? It may already be too late. (NASA)

Every presentation, EVER. (YouTube)

This is so mind bogglingly cool, it's akin to magic. (YouTube)

Duck? (Space)

Noooo! Say it ain't so! (Guardian)

Is anyone else hungry right now? No?

Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

With Wikipedia, reddit, Internet Archive (not yet down as of 9:21am ET), the lolcats over at Cheezburger, and others blacking out today to protest PIPA*--the US Senate's anti-piracy bill threatening free speech and innovation online--you may find yourself with some extra free time.

You could use these precious quiet moments to shake the petrified food out of your keyboard or redesign your email signature with ASCII or do actual work, but here's what we plan to do:

* What about SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act, HR2361), you ask? It seems to have been staved off until late February, depending on what legislative body you ask. PIPA (Protect IP Act, S.968) is currently scheduled to come up for a Senate vote on January 24. Slashdot is posting updates throughout the day as things change. Viva la internet!

Looking for reasons to support PIPA and SOPA?

Fark presents a compelling argument for the anti-piracy bills thusly:

FlatStanley and Spock

Together, in flatness.

Mia's Letter! (Click to embiggen)

So one day last week a letter arrived at ThinkGeek HQ. It was a pretty big envelope, but no one thought anything was weird until we opened it and the image of a flat little boy fell onto the desk.

This little paper boy was Flat Stanley, who, as the stories explain, was accidentally flattened by a falling book. Due to this newly flattened state, he decided to become a world traveler. Mostly because he could mail himself anywhere.

(Who wouldn't?)

Stanley found his way to ThinkGeek HQ after a geekling by the name of Mia was given the task of sending him to the coolest person she could think of. Of course she thought of Timmy.

We immediately started taking pictures of Flat Stanley pretty much everywhere around the office (because that is what you do with Stanleys). These are the result of that whirlwind afternoon.

FlatStanley and Spock

Timmy and Stanley stand at the door of ThinkGeek HQ during one of the first real snowstorms of the year. Wave at the camera, guys!

FlatStanley and Spock

Stanley doesn't quite do well when it comes to playing games of Foosball. Due to the flatness, we suspect.

FlatStanley and Spock

Tron, however, is an entirely different story.

FlatStanley and Spock

Our codemonkey Guillaume attempts to teach Stanley a little bit about coding Perl.

FlatStanley and Spock

A trip to see the customer service monkeys work their wizardry. There is so much awesomification happening on that washed out screen. You have no idea.

FlatStanley and Spock

Flat Stanley visits the Wall of Awesome Happiness, and nearly gets lost amongst the hundreds of postcards there. Eep.

FlatStanley and Spock

It's a snack! I mean, a trap!

FlatStanley and Spock

Stanley isn't the only flat one in the office.

Exhibit A: Our favorite Mandalorian.

FlatStanley and Spock

Exhibit B: Flat TIMMY!

Now we will be sending Stanley back home to Mia in the far off land of Illinois along with all of these pictures and copies of your comments. Just so she knows how much fun we had, and how awesome it was having Stanley as a guest. So leave some comments for Mia!

Thanks for visiting, Stanley! We'll miss you, little guy.


The Great CES Reveal!

In case you missed it, SpikeTV interviewed our very own Ty Liotta at CES this past Tuesday!

All you have to do is click play and you can recreate crowding into a conference room with a bunch of Monkeys to watch new awesomeness be revealed to the world.

Here's what Ty demoed that's not technically new:

New, never-seen-before stuff:

And you might have seen it in the host's hand but not actually demoed:

Of course now that we can finally talk about everything, we have no idea what to say beyond trying to publicly call dibs on one of everything for ourselves.

Wait, how about this: Squee!

There we go.

This was once a pentax!

Fantasy author Jim C. Hines puts cover poses to the plausibility test. Verdict: WIN.

You may think that we were too busy playing Skyrim to have tweeted, Facebooked and Google+'d links last week, but you'd be wrong! Here they are in handy list form for for your clicking enjoyment.

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

Daft Punk's DeRezzed as played on five floppy drives. For real. (YouTube)

Robots need lizard tails, mostly because lizard mecha are totally hardcore. (i09)

Hey Girl. (Tumblr)

Yes indeed, we're in the weird part of YouTube again. (YouTube)

Well played, LG. Well played. (YouTube)

Huge(ly awesome) dorks circa 1980, Westercon. (LASFS)

And now? Otters chasing a butterfly! (YouTube)

Want some nostalgia? We can help with that. (The Restart Page)

Tired of using your HANDS to turn a page? Try this! (YouTube)

This snowflake wants to say hi. (YouTube)

Best Skyrim mod, or bestest Skyrim mod? Oh YEAH! (YouTube)

The feelings we have about this Sauron pinup tattoo are complex and confusing. (Tumblr)

Geeky ladies, represent! (Mashable)

Today, on Pwn Stars... (Kotaku)

Skyrim: 2012 (YouTube)

Fantasy cover sexiness isn't easy. (Jim Chines)

Geeky license plates. Let us show you them. (MentalFloss)

Maybe she's born with it? (Vimeo)

Star Trek: TNG getting an HD makeover? Yep. We'll have to buy the whole series. Again. (Inside TV)

Does this mean that pouring the drink into one glass fills the other? (Google+)

1. Click link. 2. Look up. 3. Slow clap for the Google Maps truck tech. (Google Street View)

Art nouveau Chell flanked by turrets, personality cores, and one very special little potato. (Deviant Art)

Sorry, Can't hear you. (Google+)

How to crochet your own Spock ears. Cozy and logical! (CroShame)

Sooooo... can we get a holodeck on the list for next time? Please? (qualcommtricorderxprize.org)

In which Stella gives us a valuable lesson in centrosaurines and the chasmosaurines. (YouTube)

Happy 70th, Mister Hawking! (Google)

Will the D&D players please stand up? (NY Times)

We're going to pretend that this actually happens once everyone leaves for the day. (YouTube)

If binary systems aren't rare, that means there are MILLIONS of Tatooines! Gasp! (NASA)

Now, back to taking care of that pesky dragon problem.

Just like the iCADE, but iPhonized

When we first launched our iCADE retro cabinet for iPads on April 1, 2010, we knew it would have a few fans, but we weren't expecting the level of demand... and the piles of hate email when people realized it was all an April Fool's Day joke. Whoops!

So we were very pleased--and relieved, because some of those hate emails included threats--when we were really, actually able to make it available in 2011. Developers showed support right off, updating and creating games that were compatible with the iCADE. (Our full list is below.)

But that wasn't enough for some of you Apple users. No, you wanted a smaller version that fits iPhones and would support handheld button-mashing and a wee little coin slot just for old time's sake.

Get your stack of itty-bitty quarters ready because the iCADE Jr. is (almost) here!

Standing about 6" high and featuring a joystick, 4 buttons on the front, and 4 trigger buttons on the back, the iCADE Jr. will bring your miniature iPhone or iPod arcade to life via Bluetooth--and it makes a great stand, too, because it includes a pass-through for your charging cable. We'll have it in the spring.

What can you play on your iPhone-sized iCADE? There's a list for that. In addition to Atari's package, here are links to games with either released or announced support for the iCADE:

If you're an iOS developer supporting the iCADE--or if you think we've missed a game above--let us know! Just email icadedev@thinkgeek.com or leave a note in the comments.

Developer Support

MAME Support

  • iOS: If you've taken the step of Jailbreaking your iPad, the iMAME4all app adds MAME awesomeness to your iCADE gaming stack. While we can't recommend jailbreaking or unlicensed ROMs, we can certainly confirm that it does indeed work and it works quite well. UPDATE 1/12/12: Developer Matthias Ringwald just released Blutrol, an application for jailbroken iOS devices that maps iCADE's physical buttons to on-screen presses.
  • Android: By popular demand, Seleuco added iCADE support to MAME4droid.

Where else would we be?

How many characters do you recognize?

Ty should bring red shirt Timmy with him on this away mission as a distraction.

It's around this time of the year that thousands of techie nerds trek from around the globe to converge upon Las Vegas for CES, the International Consumer Electronics Show.

Of course we want to be there. All of us. There are shiny toys, you see. Brand new things to make life more complete. Fascinating people holding talks on why we love things that go be-be-be-beep. It's just the place for monkeys like us.

We can't all go (drat) so we decided to pick a representative. Our very own Ty Liotta will be at CES scoping out the goods for us, and bringing a few things of ours along with him to show you--things that we can't completely reveal. Why?

On Tuesday January 10 around 3pm ET (12pm PT), Ty will be on a LIVE interview during Spike's All His segment.

During this interview, Ty will show off some of our new goodies, and a few are things that you likely know about. We've teased you with the IRIS 9000 Voice Control Module for iPhone & Siri already, which he'll be able to show in prototype form, as well as a few other familiar things that you gadgety types may want to see in action.

The secret goodies he'll be showing off? Well, they'll have to remain a mystery. We wouldn't want to violate our CES reveal prime directive, now would we? So just click-click the correct links and tune in to watch Ty's interview at 3pm ET on Tuesday, January 10.

It'll be packed with [REDACTED] awesomeness. Promise.

How many characters do you recognize?

It's like "Where's Waldo" for Nintendo characters!

We admit it. Sometimes we post things just to get a song out of our heads and into yours. It's a beneficent act, really!


Okay, maybe not, but we HAD TO. The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins is only awesome the first hundred times.

To make up for the ear worms, we sneaked in a cute video or two in this list as well. Have fun finding them!

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

Please prepare yourself to rock. (YouTube)

I just had the -strangest- dream, Number one... (YouTube)

Have a brand new Nintendoriffic desktop wallpaper! (Deviantart)

L is our favorite. Wait, no. G. K! ALL OF THEM! (Stephenwildish)

You can't not love this. (YouTube)

A moment of silence for this amazing swordsman. (BBC)

The fact that they had to stomp on JarJar is the best part. (YouTube)

Thousands of LEGO working in mechanical harmony? We might be a little inspired. (YouTube)

I'm an oil painting now. Oil paintings are cool. (Geekcetera)

We may have made a sound that closely resembles "SQUEE". (Deviantart)

This wasn't eerily cool at all. Nope. (Vimeo)

New crab discovered is named "The Hoff", because of it's manly, hairy chest. (BBC)

Achievement unlocked: Collective subconscious. (YouTube)

"Airline pilot startled by flying shark." (SMH.com)

There is a chance that deliciousness may occur here, but raised eyebrows are the most likely response. (Gizmodo)

Time for a cute break! (YouTube)

And there's a creepy doll... that always follows you... (Environmental Graffiti)

They got the wrong Pony!? (Observer)

Admit it, you're humming along. (YouTube)

The term "Bated breath" applies here. (The Verge)

Maybe one day we'll watch movies on screens made of fluorescing bacterial colonies! Or not, but it's a fun thought. (YouTube)

What it's like to have a deep understanding of advanced mathematics. (Quora)

This hat is pertinent to our interests. (Etsy)

WANT. (Fireflyfans.net/QMX)

Oh great, we're humming again. At least it's "All the Single Ladies" this time.