Last minute-y gifts under $50

For geeky girls with an edgy fashion sense:

Green Resistor Necklace and Earrings $39 are a subtle and sophisticated fashion accent that come packaged in an anti-static bag, and the Cat5 Choker and Bracelet set are an irreverent and bright accessory that elevates network cable as a beautiful statement. They also come in petri dishes–the choker in a large Kirby Bauer and the bracelet in a standard 90mm.

For music nerds and DJ types:

Electronic Music Emergency Adapters $30 gives every electronic musician and DJ a safety net for their performance by providing the common adapters needed for connecting computers and music gear into mixers and the house system.

Kids (and grown-up kids) who love science:

Yes, that’s a gigantic Cold Virus $8.50, a Brain Cell, $8.50 and a Robot $12.50 who looks surprised.

For gamers and retrologists (lovers of retro):

That’s a teeny Pac Man Arcade Game with candy inside $3.50, Mario Candy (well, just his grinning head) also $3.50, and one of our most popular guys, the Super Mario Bros. Mushrooms

Apollo Cockpit Tie

There is a learning curve to tie-tying, but here’s a case when putting on a tie really is rocket science: The Apollo Cockpit Tie featuring a stylized version of the Apollo controls in the cockpit.

The designer, Detroit-based outfit Cyberoptix, came across a whole bunch of de-classified NASA documents, and this design comes from, specifically “Command Module Main Control Panel” – from the Apollo Operations Handbook Block II Spacecraft, 1969. You won’t be able to really get acquainted with the actual interface, however, because the layout has been stylized to fit the shape of the tie.

Great for space-nerds, rocket-geeks, and sci-fi dorks.$30 – $40.

BBS: The Documentary

BBSs–“Bulletin Board Systems” were the precursors to today’s internet. Totally low-tech and restricted by hardware and bandwidth limitations, they were text based and you accessed them over a phone line, but by signing into one or hosting your own you became part of an elite nerdy culture of people communicating with each other and sharing software and information.

ASCII art was born to create graphical representations within hardware and display limitations, and considering how our graphics have improved and how easy it is to design things with our modern tools its impressive to see what has been created with such a limited palette.

I ran a one-node BBS, but more often I was logging into other systems within my area code that wouldn’t rack up long distance charges on my parent’s phone line. I had a little chart next to my computer to show when the off-peak times were so I could schedule my downloads of Wolfenstein, Doom and related maps, tracker software and .mods, and .tar’d text files of information that might be considered quasi-legal to be in possession of.

Director Jason Scott pent quite a few years on his own and created a 2-DVD 3-DVD talking-heads box set of a documentary on BBSs, including the history, culture, and available technology at the time. It also features music by 8-bit artist Paul Slocum aka Treewave who makes music with a Commodore 64 and a dot-matrix printer. MP3s are here.

If you’re like me and once ran a BBS, you need to show off your nerd cred by snagging an ExSysOpt-shirt. And yes, although I’m certain that the talking heads featured in BBS: The Documentary are likely 99.9% 90% male, the t-shirts are available in ladies’ sizes, too.

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A brief history of A & B buttons on game controllers

Matthew Gallant over at The Quixotic Engineer has posted an interesting look at the evolution of the A & B buttons on game controllers. Me, I’ve got a Dreamcast so my world is backwards whenever I play on someone’s Nintendo system–it takes a second to get up to speed. Sony abandoned the whole letter thing and went with a circle, cross, triangle, and square, which one of the commenters pointed out:

# Jonathan Says:
September 23rd, 2008 at 2:06 am

Regarding the PlayStation controller, I read the following today :

circle = one stroke
cross = two strokes
triangle = three strokes
square = four strokes

Which then seems to align it with Nintendo’s layout.


Make the Starship Enterprise out of a floppy disk

Floppy disks were officially made obsolete this year, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely useless. Grab one with a metal door and pull out some scissors or a wire cutter, a pair of pliers and a metal ruler and start converting that outdated media into a spaceship from the future!

How to Make a Starship Enterprise Out of a Floppy Disk

Make a Spaceship Out of An Old Floppy Disk (Video)

Game Boy Advance Emulation Fun

via liz revision by Liz on Feb 02, 2007


The scene above is a capture of my (messy) desktop with a Game Boy Advance emulator running to play Yuan Su Da Zhan. I’m using Visual Boy Advance–a great little program that lets you play Game Boy Roms on your PC (yeah, it’s Windows only, sorry).

Visual Boy Advance 1.8.0 [Download – Windows]

* Button A – Z
* Button B – X
* Button L – A
* Button R – S
* Movement – Cursor keys
* Start – Enter (Return)
* Select – Backspace
* Toggle menu – ESC

Recommended Gameboy Advance ROMs:
(With Visualboy Advance there’s no need to extract the zips–the program does it for you)

29 NES Games,
61 Great NES games
The first ROM is a collection of games like Ghost and Goblins, The Legend of Zelda and Kung Fu and the second has more, including Super Mario Brothers 1 – 3–although I had to choose “Speed up toggle” under Emulator to get it to run correctly. Also all the games are listed on the side of the screen and choosing one changes the background to the start screen for that game–it looks a bit confusing at first.

Air Hockey
I’m a huge nerd for the real version of this game, and although this one lacks most of the appealing factors a real air hockey game, it’s still mildly entertaining.

Yuan Su Da Zhan
This game, despite the dialogue being in Japanese, is totally engaging and has great graphics. Esentially you’re a middle-ages magical character who can turn into four separate versions of yourself (fire, water, ice, and “coconut”?) in order to most efficiently fight bad guys along the way. It’s quite fun, once you can navigate past all the intro screens filled with katakana.

Another IRL favorite of mine, this is 1-player only

Tetanus on Drugs
Curious what it would be like to play Tetris while on drugs? Here’s a safe way to have the experience.

Asteroids, plain and simple.

Adventure of the Cardboard Box by Arthur Conan Doyle
2001: A Space Odysseyby Arthur C. Clark
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Yep, there are free novels available, and I’m a fan of Sherlock Holmes (deductive logic rulez) and sci-fi, so here’s a few good ones to start with.

These are from this archive. Although almost all of them are demos and not playable, there are a few gems in there.

Leave some comments with your recommendations and I’ll update the post with a “best of” list!

The Diskette Handbag: A Seriously Geek-Chic Purse

For the girl who needs the right purse that says both “geeky” and “stylish,” the diskette-covered Diskette Handbag by Zelle is just the thing. The rest of the bag is made from black black PVC and there are enough interior pockets to carry the essentials (and some non-essentials). This bag will turn heads and let the world know that in your offline life (IRL) you’re just as geeky but your fashion sense is hardly that of a clueless nerd.

Inside of the purse, opened.

Inside of the purse, opened, with the magnetic latch removed.