NuVera Online - The Virtual Experience for Grown-Ups

On Mars, BRB


Murray Buttes, Mars, day before yesterday, stitched together in ~10 minutes from images on the Curiosity raw image server. The seams show in a couple of places, but if you can overlook those… look upon it in wonder. Click to see a (much, much) bigger version.

The Hunt for the Blue Yeti

As time goes by...Last month, following running conversations with several fellow podcasters (some in private, some out in the open) about sound quality, I spotted an “open box” Blue Yeti microphone on Amazon. It was classified as “used”, though the listing specified that all it was missing was the box and the manual, and it had not really been “used” used. It was marked down roughly 50% – a huge thing, since a brand new Yeti will typically relieve you of over $100. With shipping, this one was about $65. And…I spotted the listing at the worst possible time. I was dead broke.

Even though my next paycheck was more or less spoken for, I decided I’d pull the trigger and buy that Yeti if it was still there on my next payday. And it was. And now it’s mine. (more…)

On the passing of Joyce Worley-Katz

I was saddened this morning to hear that Joyce Worley-Katz, 1/3 of the editorial team of the pioneering ‘80s Electronic Games Magazine, has passed away. She was married to fellow EG editor Arnie Katz, and together with the late Bill Kunkel, they opened up a whole new area of entertainment journalism that many take for granted today.

I corresponded with Joyce early in the 2000s, at the urging of Bill K. (who was a mentor to many of us trying to follow in the gaming journalism field), about her experience in working with many of the behind-the-scenes personnel at Magnavox during the Odyssey2 years. I was working on a book to chronicle the system’s rise, shaky flight, and fall, and Joyce was happy to pass along any remaining contacts from those years, though some of them had already left us, leaving me without enough story for a whole book. (Which was a bummer – when two of your writing/editorial heroes who set you on the path you’re on today tell you that yes, you are the guy to tell this story…that’s a lot of validation right there.) What notes I was able to gather… form some of the backbone of the Select Game podcast covering the Odyssey2 and Videopac libraries.

Joyce will be missed. She plowed a new road alongside an emerging art form. And she is proof that, from the very beginning, women were a vital force in video games, and those trying to marginalize or silence their voices in that medium betray a complete lack of understanding of its history.

The one about the Pokemon

I know a lot of you are sick to death of hearing about Pokemon Go, but let me tell you, if you have a kid who’s accustomed to sitting on the sofa to catch his or her Pokemon, and now they’re all but begging you to get out and about so they can hunt for Pokemon instead of staying inside in air conditioning, you realize this is the greatest thing ever. The Wii was Nintendo getting us off our butts; this is Nintendo getting us out of the house.

All of the headlines that have made you question the sanity and/or value of humanity in the past week? Some of that stuff might not have happened if folks had something in common, something that brought people from disparate backgrounds together to actually get to know each other.

Even if that something is looking for imaginary critters with ridiculous names, that’s better than hunkering down in the bunker and being afraid of each other, right?

A brief note about the universe

Sagan doing what Sagan does bestA controlled explosion.

The same science that’s behind a gun is the same science that’s behind a rocket.

Set off an explosion in a chamber capable of withstanding the pressure. Channel the force of the explosion to create thrust at the open end of the chamber, or to discharge a projectile from the open end of the chamber.

Fire a bullet to satisfy some sense of tribal pride, some sense of fury that someone dares to believe or dares to have simply been born differently than you.

Or fire a rocket into space and learn more about how we were all actually born the same, and how the differences barely matter because when you look back, the borders don’t exist.

It’s all about controlled explosions. Chemical explosions, or bursts of passion.

We can choose to learn, or choose to burn. It’s. that. simple.

I know I’ve probably driven half of everyone reading my Facebook and Twitter feeds crazy in the past few days/weeks/more-than-weeks (remember how Pluto-happy I was about 350-odd days ago?) with all of the space stuff. But it matters. You may not see how it applies directly to you. But it does.

I try to share that awe and wonder with everyone who wants to know more. Articles…podcasts…websites. “But you run a sci-fi site, right?” Sorta. The focus has shifted in recent years. In a way, the sci-fi is there to lure you in so I can talk about that awe and wonder.

I figured out a long time ago that I wasn’t going to be an astronaut or a scientist. I’d read National Geographic and Astonomy Magazine articles about the people playing various roles on the Voyager and Viking missions, and I’d idolize them like rock stars.

Did/do I ever have the mental agility to join their ranks? No. Found that out pretty early too. Only later in life have I figured out why. Why some days I can hold this whole universe of knowledge in my head, and synthesize it successfully, while other days I have the mental acuity of a particularly gited sea cucumber.

But one gift I do have is to smoosh some words together and tell a story and draw you in to learning more than I know about this stuff. (Spoiler: that’s a skill you acquire as a parent.) So if it really drives you batty, I’m not insulted by anyone who wants to exercise the unfriend/unfollow option…

…because I’m not going to stop going on and on about it anytime soon. There’s a whole universe out there waiting to be explored. I’ve long since moved past the point where I care if one person attributes that universe to God, another attributes it to Allah, a third attributes it to the Big Bang, and yet a fourth attributes it to the Great Green Arkleseizure.

None of that changes the fact that the universe is out there.


We just have to judiciously harness the right kind of controlled explosions so we can stop harming one another and go see it.

Conversations with Little C, day 635

Hulk out!C: Daddy! [waves building block creation around] I got a block.

ME: That’s great, buddy! What else have you got?

[C disappears into his room, comes out carrying a squirmy Portia]

C: Daddy! I got a cat.

ME: Maybe she wants you to sit her down. What else have you got?

[C disappears into his room, comes back out waving a plastic chair over his head, narrowly missing computers and tables and cats with it]

C: Daddy! I got a chair!

ME: Woah there, Jerry Springer!

First book… second edition… now available!

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