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BLURGH! The ThinkGeek Blog... Grok It!

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September 2012 Archives

Happy 15th anniversary, Slashdot!

This year's anniversary of Slashdot is bittersweet for us ThinkGeek monkeys. Just this week, our parent company announced that Slashdot (along with SourceForge and Freecode) would become part of the family of sites at Dice.

The thing is, we've been together with these guys for a long time. In fact, it was just a month after ThinkGeek opened its doors that we were Slashdotted for the very first time. Over the years we've had a lot of fun, and even though we're reporting to different overlords now, we know we'll always be friends--and that's why we're proud to offer Slashdot's 15th anniversary shirt.

News for nerds. Stuff that matters. Always and forever.

A Brief History of /.

Guestposted by Tim "timothy" Lord, Slashdot editor

Slashdot's been slinging news (for a longer time than seems possible!) from dorm rooms (when Rob Malda and company started it 15 years ago), condos (the next phase) and numerous basements, apartments, houses, offices, and yes, fairly often from my car. Now the site's old enough to get a provisional driver's license in some states, and it's worth mentioning a few aspects of the site I've had a fly-on-the-wall chance to see up close.

Slashdot's motto of "News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters" informs everything else: we've always subscribed to the belief that many thousands of readers have in sum more interesting things to say, and collectively a better nose for intriguing news, than the shifting handful of posting editors; our biggest job is really to provide a good listening post, conveyor belt, sorting table, seive, copying machine, and bulletin board to shake, sift, and paste on the wall all those readers' news and comments into a useful, scannable form. That The Truth Will Out (not to mention "Let a thousand flowers bloom") has been a controlling idea from the beginning. When I show my friends or family the site, the main lesson is that the action is in the crowd-sourced comments and topic suggestions.

It's been interesting to see just how much a similar attitude has taken off in many domains, mostly enabled by the flexibility of internet-based social interactions. People were certainly making things before they were Making things downloaded from Thingiverse, just like there was mail before email, open source and Free software before either of those terms had any currency (not to mention startups before Kickstarter), but the last decade and a half has brought a lot of real-world instances of the buzzwordy predicted upsides about life in the future that it's easy to cynically overlook. (And yes, there's a lot to be cynical about; see our YRO section for proof.) Whatever your every-day carry tools of choice, it's mind-bending to think that the iPad 2 has more power than the Cray-2 I used to (figuratively) drool over. No matter the power of the tech we can carry around (or at least put on our desks), there's another good reason to be optimistic about the future that Slashdot's been documenting in our roundabout way for the whole time it's been around: it keeps getting hacked, in the best sense of the word.

But high tech sometimes yields to low-tech: Besides a few screenshots, a small stream of videos of late, and a jillion little icons (actually, 1.2 jillion, but who's counting), the Slashdot world is mostly about text. Relatively speaking, it's a mild drizzle of the stories that end up emerging on the page, from the brisk stream of reader submissions, and a Niagra Falls of reader comments.

Of course, those comments have sometimes gotten heated, for one reason or another. The inevitable flame wars that errupt when Immovable Object and Unstoppable Force collide (think copyright vs. file sharing, surveillance vs. privacy, emacs vs. vi, censorware vs. users with access to search engines and coffee) end up shedding more light sometimes than seems clear at the time. Whenever we've gotten nastygrams or legal attention from the subjects of negative publicity (or simply stories that cost the subjects business)--like the Church of Scientology, iOpener, and Microsoft--it's the kind of thing that shows that the site's been doing something right.

The next phase seems to be beginning today; hopefully there are many more years of heat and light to go. We're going to miss having work-cousins at ThinkGeek.


This week in geek

Happy birthday, Mario!

Today in Geek History: Doot doot doot doo-doot de-doo, dootdootdootdoot doo-doot-doo-doo dedoot! Super Mario was released in Japan on September 13, 1985.

This week in geek... no, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Our favorite links from the Twitter, Google+, and Facebook 'verse:

Beaker, zombie hunter

Beaker, zombie hunter (Twitpic)

Anatomy of the Mogwai (Brad McGinty)

Beep bloop beer wooooooo (Twitpic)

Cat maze made out of boxes (Daily Picks and Flicks)

Curiosity's self portrait (The Verge)

Dalek Chef's secret recipe (Akasealion)

Dalek wedding cakes (Twitpic)

Dead Media (Skulladay)

Don't ask why were watching this "Gangnam Style" MVA interview on CNN. Just know that we peed our pants a little when we saw a Timmy sticker on the camera. (CNN)

Elvish break! Tolkien reads his poem "Namarie" in Elvish. (YouTube)

Dalek Chef

Hogwarts broom rack (Nerdapproved)

I don't often test my code, but when I do, I do it in production. (ThinkGeek)

I Loki NY (Olly Moss)

Inspector Spacetime... er, "Untitled Web Series" ep 1 is out! (YouTube)

Iron Throne cake (Dorkly)

Krang belly (Obvious Winner)

Let's play Hungry Hungry Koopas! (Twitpic)

Mech Power Loader Barbie (Instructables)

Meme pizza signs (That's Nerdalicious)

Nerdy corsets (The Mary Sue)

Oooooh, aaaahhh. Some nifty animated optical illusions (YouTube)

Pac-man table (Behance)

Hungry Hungry Koopas

Pizza of Catan (Crackajack)

Some brides portal down the aisle (Twitpic)

Study finds images of "girly" scientists wearing make-up and pastels don't actually make girls want to go into science. (Scientific American)

TARDIS Trash Can is bigger on the inside, of course (ThinkGeek)

Teachers! Tell @donorschoose your fav elementary school moment & enter to win $100 TG gift cert (ThinkGeek)

Terrified of the horse-dragon, or just terrified on behalf of the horse? Dragon horse mask (Twitpic)

The Zelda bedroom you wished you had as a kid (or adult, who are we kidding) (Twitpic)

Thinking about Halloween yet? How about cookies? Dracula Dentures by @GrlWho8Evrythng (Twitpic)

This is drawn with ball point pens (DeviantART)

This kid is about to blow your mind. What were you doing when you were 5 years old? (YouTube)

Thor, you're so handsome. "Thank you, Thor." (Twitpic)

Waaaait for it (Twitpic)

We don't have good gas prices here, but at least they're geeky!" says @GreatExcelcior in Moncton, NB, Canada (Yfrog)

We're all doomed! DARPA bot Cheetah's new top running speed is 28.3 mph, faster than Usain Bolt (YouTube)

School starts soon! Resistance is futile

Disclaimer: We don't actually think teachers are the Borg.

We love learning, and teachers love teaching, so it should come as no surprise that ThinkGeek would donate $1,000 towards a DonorsChoose Back to School challenge for teachers.

Starting today, DonorsChoose is asking their community to share their favorite elementary school memory by noon EST on Tuesday, September 18. Ten winners will each receive a $100 ThinkGeek gift certificate and will be emailed their prize at the conclusion of the contest.

Will the winners have to use the funds to purchase educational items for classroom use? Not necessarily. Could they pick up a Wampa Rug for comfy classroom reading breaks? Sure. How about a Star Trek Electronic Door Chime to put on their classroom entrance? Maybe. Will we encourage them to pick up a few Annoy-a-trons to keep their students on their toes? Absolutely.

If you're an educator--or know one who could use some ThinkGeek goodies--head on over to DonorsChoose's blog and enter!

And good luck out there this semester, teachers and students.

Doctor Who toile pattern

Doctor Who toile pattern at Spoonflower.

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. That's the sound of our linkdump truck backing up. Please stand back; this batch is a doozy and covers a couple of weeks! Enjoy responsibly.

Our favorite links from the Twitter, Google+, and Facebook 'verse:

Incredible steampunk Portal Gun by Duncan Shirah. (Technabob)

Lovely long exposure photographs of fireworks. (This is Colossal)

Steampunk Portal Gun

Rainbow Dash nails. Enough said. (Tumblr)

Adorable Dune Sandworm and Muad Dib amigurumi. (DeviantArt)

Doctor Who toile printed on demand would get some doubletakes. (Spoonflower)

Disgusting toe cookies look not at all delicious. (Evilcakes)

Super Mario proposal and engagement rings. (Tumblr)

Just a friendly reminder to wake up & get off the couch. (YouTube)

LOTR hobbit cake is just the thing for 1st or 2nd breakfast, or tea, or... (Twitpic)

Kirk is not expected to live long & prosper. (NOAA)

And now, Matt Smith & Karen Gillan sing the Doctor Who theme. (YouTube)

It's about time someone sent a TARDIS into space! & @WhatTravisSays might even let us send Timmy along, too. (Kickstarter)

Ceci n'est pas une junction box. (Twitpic)

Little known fact: Darth Vader is actually Kelly Clarkson! (YouTube)

If you see one video of baby twins dancing while dad plays guitar today, make it this one. (YouTube)

Hobbit Cake

NES Toaster, aka "Nintendo Edibility System. Add jam *after* toasting cartridge. (Twitpic)

This is hypnotic. Mike L.'s 5-year-long daily photo video includes costumes, tattoos, & dancing hair. (YouTube)

Hey, I'm Schrodinger and this is crazy... (Twitpic)

Never too early to start planning Halloween when it involves a paper mache Dementor. (Twitpic)

This Harry Potter quilt by @ofenjen will make you wish it was chilly out. (Twitpic)

Children's computer books: If You Give a Browser a Cookie, Everyone PHPs, Mr. Gmail & more. (Twitpic)

What a 500 lb, 6'7", 600-serving Vader cake looks like, before & after @501stLegion, by @oakleafcakes. (Twitpic)

A dog singing the Game of Thrones theme. Add a cat for extra drama. (YouTube)

When you sync your camera shutter to the speed of helicopter blades, your brain implodes. Eye-boggling! (YouTube)

Enjoy talking to strangers online AND working with monkeys? We're hiring! Email & Social Coordinator and Social Media Intern positions are open. (ThinkGeek)

So, this just happened at Star Wars Celebration. (Twitpic)

Einstein wearing slippers

Best garage door ever!? Book shelf for well-read automobiles. (Twitpic)

Gotta stitch 'em all! Incredible Pokemon 1st generation cross-stitch by @Eponases. (Twitpic)

Godzilla vs. Thomas Kinkade: WHO WILL WIN!? (Godzilla, of course.) (Twitpic)

Shiny steampunk copper bathroom! Note the toilet tank gauge. (Twitpic)

Hungry? We made you a Timmy pancake. (It's actually Curious George by @kitchenfun3sons.) (Twitpic)

This is slick. Ghostbusters theme played on 8 floppy drives & it sounds awesome. (YouTube)

"Lab Technician Found Drunk, Partially Nude in Locker Room While 2 Monkeys Loose in Lab." Sadly, no pics. (WJBF News)

Every Major's Terrible, a classic xkcd delivered in a catchy song. (YouTube)

It's dangerous to go alone. Eat this. (Spacekat267)

And now for something completely different. (Bag of Nothing)

A little perspective! The planets to scale. (Space Facts)

Ever wanted a bird's eye view of Sheldon, Leonard, & Penny's apartments--including that useless elevator? (DeviantART)

Doctor Who Quiet Book for kids by BantamBB is adorable, instructive, and a little dangerous--just like any good Doctor. (Bantam BB)

Just in case you weren't sure if you wanted to be J.K. Rowling's kid, she's building her children a Hogwarts-inspired treehouse complex. (Hypable)

Sir Ian McKellan sings "Baby Got Back." (Not really, but if you close your eyes it's pretty dang close.) (YouTube)

And for dessert, adorable Angry Birds piggies macarons. (The Cookie Fairy)

Albert Einstein wearing fuzzy slippers. Enough said. (Twitpic)