This Week in Geekdom

Happy Sunday nerderinos! It's snowing right now and, while the precipitation itself looks very dramatic, there's been minimal accumulation. Despite this, the GIR and I have been treating the weekend as though we've been snowed in. The past two weeks have been chock full of changes (all of them good, some of them fuzzy) so it's been very nice to have the opportunity to sit back and enjoy a mellow, cozy few days. Being at home has also allowed for some progress to be made on my costume for PAX, which is especially excellent given that we're now less than three months out from the convention. There will be posts on that over the next few weeks but, for now, on to the Week in Geekdom!


If you've been reading the blog for a little while, you may recall that Klei Entertainment is one of our favorite indie developers. So it was a special treat to get not one, but two announcements from the studio this week. First on the docket is this brief regarding the first DLC for Don't Starve.  The expansion, titled Reign of Giants, does not yet have a definite release date, but Klei assures us that we'll get our clicky paws on the material later this year. Until then, we'll have to console ourselves with the base game and this preview video.

The second of the Klei announcements centered around its forthcoming turn-based tactical espionage game. The game, formerly known as Incognita, was officially renamed Invisible, Inc. after the latter tested better with focal groups. We also got a glimpse of the alpha for Invisible, Inc., which is also now available for pre-order at a 20% discount.

In a move that had gamers alternately shaking their heads and asking "Where was this last year?", Maxis finally admitted that they committed a number of hubristic mistakes with the launch of SimCity. And we all know just how well that turned out. In a belated corrective act, the studio will release Update 10 for the game in the next few weeks. The update will allegedly allow for a wholly offline single player experience, but the damage to Maxis and the Sim City brand is likely far from mended.

This fan-made brawler game based on the He-Man/She-Ra cartoon series is both beautiful and brilliant.


Asteroid mining is one of those sci-fi tropes that has always orbited the realm of the pseudo-plausible. Well, a new Harvard study tips that notion more towards the psuedo and away from the plausible.

In a delicious melding of archeology and biomolecular studies, researchers believe they have identified the ingredients that comprised the ancient Nordic libation known as grog

In another probable instance of climate change, scientists at the British Antarctic Survey believe that the Pine Island Glacier, one of Antarctica's largest, has now entered a self-sustaining retreat.

Oh Pluto, it's about time you got some attention. NASA's fast-moving spacecraft New Horizons is nearing the planet dwarf planet with just over a year to go before it reaches apsis. Armed with LORRI, one of the most powerful long-distance imagers ever made, New Horizons may show us an entirely new side of this snubbed member of our solar system.

Colony Collapse Disorder has been a problem of increasing severity for bee species around the globe. The CSIRO, when not occupied building dragons, has developed these tiny bee-mounted sensors in the hopes of shedding some light on this conundrum. 

Nuclear pasta: Homer Simpson's lunch or a wholly new state of matter found in neutron stars?

On Tuesday, the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) Collaboration announced that they had measured the universe to an accuracy of 1 percent.

Speaking of the vastness of the universe, it took the prime supercomputer at Germany's Max Planck Society's Supercomputing Centre a month to complete, but researchers at the Centre now believe they have the best possible data concerning the evolution of the 20 million galaxies that make up the known universe.

The past few weeks have been brutally cold for much of North America, but Earth is certainly not alone in its ability to produce polar vortices. Check out these images of polar vortices as they occur in our solar system compatriots.

Yesterday Paramount Studios uttered what will likely be the death knell for physical film with their proclamation that they will henceforth only produce movies digitally.


It's been more than a year since Peter Parker got himself body snatched by the mind of Otto Octavius, but that's a situation that's about to be corrected.


What if the Dr. Who 50th anniversary special was actually an episode of Friends?

Season Four of Game of Thrones is coming:

General Awesomeness/Feats of Nerdery

File this one under: astounding things made during downtime at work. A Japanese university janitor spent seven years drafting this, one of the most complex mazes ever seen. Love it? The janitor's daughter is selling prints of her father's work here.

Detroit hosted its annual auto show this week and, while many companies sought to garner attention with flashy, impractical concept cars, Volkswagen took a decidedly different tack. Frank Herbert fans rejoice, for the newest Volkswagen creation is this Dune-inspired Beetle.

These 360 degree storybooks are simply jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

 A pair of electrical engineer friends set out to build a model of one of the most successful supercomputers ever made. This is the story of their unique quest.

There are the paper planes you made as a kid and then there's Luca's version of a paper plane. The latter took five years and hundreds of manila folders to complete.

I leave you with this awesome video of a Chrono Trigger run by Awesome Games Done Quick that netted a million dollars for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!

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Cosplay: 2014 Cosplay Season is Go!

It has been far, far too long since the Care and Feeding of Nerds has featured a cosplay post. Just the notion of writing about costumes was enough to make me a giddy, grinning, hopeless case. Realistically it's been about seven months since I've done any work with costumes and just under a year since a convention-level piece swallowed up the majority of the floor space in our office. In the grand scheme of things that's not a terribly long time, particularly when I'm always going on about Lorenz transformations and wondering how the passage of time seems to hasten every year. Still, a year without cosplay left me with a considerable sartorial jones that will finally be addressed.

Last March, the runaway hit of PAX East was the playable demo for Transistor. In the 10 months since, Supergiant Games has been working tirelessly to perfect the alpha and have the title ready for release later this year. During that same period I have been completely unable to get the demo out of my head. Everything about the game: the mechanics, the premise, the color scheme, the sci-fi/noir setting and the soundtrack...good gravy...the soundtrack. Add to all that a capable heroine with oodles of narrative potential and a personal respect for Supergiant's attempt to self-publish and I was 110% sold. Given all that, the very first entry on the 2014 cosplay docket will be Red from Transistor.    
Construction on the actual costume began about three months ago, but it has been somewhat slow-going as the holidays and life in general sought to interpose. Such is the benefit of getting an early start that I'm now, less than three months out, not scrambling to complete pieces. Yay for the cosplay lineup!

As with every character I attempt to re-create, the next step after making the initial selection is to thoroughly catalogue all the components of the costume in the source material. With Red, I had two outfits to choose from: her floor-length evening gown from the earliest scenes of the game and the tattered remnants of that gown that she dons for the majority of actual play. I've chosen to make the latter, as this is what Red wears during all the action and it seemed like the more interesting of the two options.

Red's primary costume consists of the following: a short goldenrod-colored dress with a fairly ragged hemline and feathered collar, a black corset-bodice, thigh-high stockings and knee high boots, a black or dark brown coat with a elbow-length sleeves and, last but certainly not least, the eponymous Transistor sword. Upcoming posts on the costume will be divided into dress/bodice/coat, sword, and accessories. The dress and bodice are mostly complete, but this entry is going to focus on Red's physical features so I can post complete procedurals on the other pieces once they're entirely done.

From the demo and what artwork has been released to date, we see that Red is a young woman with short, deep red hair and bright blue eyes. She wears her hair in a sideswept, tustled way akin to the bobbed styles popular during the American Jazz Era. If you happen to have bright red hair (or can otherwise attain that color), you can achieve this look for yourself by setting your hair in pincurls, then deconstructing the curls and combing them around your head. If your hair is not that striking scarlet hue or you'd rather not spend a night with dozens of bobby pins stuck to your head then a wig is probably the best course of action. 

There haven't been too many mentions of wigs on the blog and that's largely because I tend to avoid wearing them. That's not to say that wigs aren't excellent additions to a costume, just that there are some considerations to take before incorporating them into your costume.

Wig Pros

- Wigs come in an unfathomably diverse array of colors, lengths, and styles. In the vast majority of cases it is exponentially easier to slip on a wig than to try and get the same look with your natural hair.

- Wigs generally hold a style and accessories better than your natural hair, as they are designed and textured for just this purpose. Also, since you'll likely be wearing a cap as well, they aren't impacted by your body's unique chemistry or things like sweat.

-  You can 'pre-style' a wig well in advance of a convention, which translates into more free time for you on the actual day of the event.

- The myriad of color options and feasible styles allow for a high degree of precision in your cosplay. A wig can allow you to very closely approximate certain characters or species.

- Thanks to the magic of the internet you can get good quality, highly versatile pieces for very reasonable prices.

Wig Cons

- Actually wearing a wig can get very uncomfortable, especially if it's been a few hours since you first put it on. Unless you have short, obedient hair, you'll need to wear a cap beneath the wig itself. This double layering can leave you very warm and/or irritate the skin nearest the cap. If at all possible, take the wig off every 3-4 hours and let your scalp breathe for 20-30 minutes.

- While many wigs can be purchased for decent prices, those so priced are typically made of synthetic hair. If, for whatever reason, you need or want a wig made of human hair be prepared to pay a few hundred dollars.

- Wigs do hold styles well, but, like your own hair, they can be easily crushed, matted or misshaped. If you have to transport your wig you may want to either wait until you've arrived at your destination to style the piece or invest in a hard carrying case (tupperware works well for this!).

A last note on wigs: though it's tempting to want to skip the wig cap, it ultimately makes wig wearing easier and gives you a cleaner, neater finished look. They're also fairly inexpensive and/or easy to make (just trim a length of cheap pantyhose or tights to pull over your scalp).

Aside from her hair, Red's other distinguishing physical feature are her piercing, almost electric blue eyes. If you happen to have blue eyes, there are certain makeup applications that could create a similar effect but we'll go into that in another post. If your eyes aren't blue colored contacts are likely going to be necessary.
Colored contacts have a bad reputation built on horror stories of cheap lenses scratching corneas and causing all sorts of ocular infections. Every so often one news outlet or another will cobble together an expose on such lenses and introduce fresh panic to the masses. So, do colored contacts deserve that public blight? Eh, yes and no. 

Are there plenty of sketchy contacts on the market? Yes. Are there also good quality contacts that will serve your cosplay needs? Yes. The key is to be able to discern between the two. The easiest, safest method for procuring colored contacts is to obtain them through a licensed manufacturer of standard prescriptive lenses. Acuvue, FreshLook, and Lenscrafters all have lines of cosmetic colored lenses. The catch: you need a prescription or at least the written approval of an eye care professional. If you already wear glasses/contacts you can use your existing prescription at any one of the above listed companies. Bonus: some of them will even give you a free set of 30-day trial lenses!

If you don't have an eyewear prescription or the major manufacturers don't make the color you need for your cosplay (since the latter tends to only be offered in a limited range of hues) then your best bet is to branch out to internet purveyors. This is where things could potentially get dicey, but there are reputable sites to be found. NEVER ever ever buy lenses from a Halloween or novelty store, a convenience store, or a street vendor.

I tend to favor Turtle Contacts and Brilliant Contacts on the occasions that I've needed an eye color beyond the standard human spectrum. Both sites use extremely high quality lenses, have a very wide variety of colors available, and have excellent customer service. Both vendors also have extensive usage FAQ sections that will walk you through how to wear and care for your lenses. It is extremely important that you take the time to read all of those sections. A significant number of the incidents of eye damage stemming from the use of colored lenses can be attributed to improper care and application. 

Make sure you have multipurpose contact solution and a sterile storage case on hand before your lenses arrive. Both of these are usually pretty inexpensive and are  available at most drug stores and  supermarkets. Follow all instructions for the disinfection, storage, application and removal of lenses, especially if you've never worn them before. Actually applying the lenses can be tricky and will involve some practice. Be patient with yourself while you're getting the hang of using the lenses and give yourself about a week to get comfortable applying and removing them.
So now that you've got some purchasing options there are a few things to consider before buying your lenses. 

- Do you naturally have light eyes or dark eyes?
- Do you have an astigmatism?
- How drastic a change do you want to make to your eye color?

If you have dark eyes or you're going for a very drastic change from your natural color, then you will want to limit your search to opaque lenses. As the name implies, opaques will layer a new color or pattern entirely over your iris, covering your natural hue completely. Aside from the density of the color, these are not materially different from other colored lenses. These are your only option if you have dark eyes and you'll want to look for the word 'opaque' or 'for dark eyes' in the product description.

If you have lighter eyes or want a less dramatic change from your natural color, then you have the option to select translucent lenses. With translucents, the lens layers semi-transparent color over your eyes, blending your natural hue with that of the lens. Like the opaques, 'translucent' will likely appear in the product description, though many sites will not explicitly list such lenses as being for light eyes.

If you have an astigmatism, then your options will be a bit more limited and you should stick to the prescription-required lenses mentioned earlier. Your eye care professional may be able to recommend vendors that will make custom lenses in non standard colors. You should NOT try to wear circle lenses unless you've been cleared by your eye care professional to do so.

More cosplay updates to follow! Here's to kicking off the 2014 cosplay season!

Important notes: None of the above post should be considered medical advice and is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical condition. Colored contacts are used at your own risk. The author and Care and Feeding of Nerds does not assume liability for any injury incurred while using colored contact lenses. If you have any questions or concerns regarding colored lenses, please consult a licensed eye care professional.
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This Week in Geekdom

A little bit of fun news before we kick off This Week in Geekdom: The Care and Feeding of Nerds family got a little bit bigger today with the addition of Serenity. The GIR and I have been considering pet ownership for the past few years and earlier today Serenity selected us as her new owners. We look forward to many cat-assisted rolls in future gaming sessions.

Our new Calico-class cat-ship

Interstellar space travel just got a little bit closer to reality thanks to a 19-year-old Egyptian physics student. The student, Aisha Mustafa, has patented this quantum propulsion system

Microsoft has confirmed that they will be publicly discussing the next generation operating system, currently known only by its codename 'Threshold', during its 2014 BUILD conference in April. 

 Ok, it's 2014 and we don't yet have a hoverboard. But, we're reasonably close with this

Mmmm...delicious batteries
Cheap renewable energy. At present, the best you can feasibly get is a combination of two of those three things. This team of Harvard researchers aims to change that with their quionone-powered organic battery.

A lot of interesting, eyebrow-raising things came out of this year's CES. We had Michael Bay having a full-on meltdown, we had insanely gorgeous gaming rigs, and we had renewed claims that the death of the PC is at hand. Do you agree?


Sometimes playing around with narratives to create alternate timelines is a fun, interesting way to expand a franchise. For Dark Horse, there are definite limits to this sort of recombination when you're working with something as weighty as Star Wars. Read here for a description of the graphic novels that almost were, featuring a Sith Leia and Luke ruling the galaxy together.


This past week was chock-full of news (or as close as we can get to news during this early developmental stage) concerning the upcoming Star Wars films. Leland Chee, the so-called Keeper of the Holocron for all things LucasFilm, confirmed that a 'story group' had been formed to determine once and for all what pieces of the Star Wars universe will be canon, and which will be shunted out the proverbial airlock.

Speaking of Star Wars movies, it is official: there will be an all Boba Fett spinoff movie

Is the upcoming Superman vs. Batman movie going to wreak even more havoc with comic canon? Actually, it seems like the response on that is probably not.

TV (Special all Dr. Who Edition)

As Whovians prepare to move on to the 12th incarnation of the Doctor, Den of Geek drew up this list of questions that have gone unanswered during the reign of Matt Smith.

A double-dose of fun for Whovians this week. Here are all 50 years of space-time travel in one handy, interactive infographic

And last, but not least, here are the first production stills and notes from the set of Dr. Who and our first glimpse of Peter Capaldi in the title role.


Were you one of those burned by the recent rash of technical bruhaha maligning the game CONSORTIUM? Well, Inspirational Games and Steam would like to apologize for that with this, one of the most sincere mea culpas to have graced the internet to date.

General Awesomeness

Earlier this month, seven-year-old Sophie wrote to the researchers at the CSIRO asking why they had not been able to produce any dragons with their efforts. Initially, the scientists sent their apologies at this grievous oversight. On Friday the CSIRO sent her this.

Oh infographics, how we love you. Click here to see such an illustration that captures all zombies across all canons. Want a copy of your own? Visit the artist's Kickstarter page.

Fans have waited over two decades to see this, but the first official Simpsons Lego playset will soon be available for sale.

As always, best wishes for an awesome week ahead!
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This Week in Geekdom

And 2014 is off and running! It's been a very snowy start to the year, but these Hoth-like conditions have provided ample opportunity to catch up on quite a bit (not least of which being a return to a regular posting schedule). It's not quite a resolution, but I'm determined to not let all the purchases of the recent Steam Winter Sale sit uninstalled and idle in my library and being snowed in is a perfect excuse to game with impunity. Next week will kick off the cosplay posts for 2014 but, for now, This Week in Geekdom!

Happy New Year from Mars! (courtesy of Curiosity)

To say Wolverine is well-known in the world of comics would be just a bit of an understatement. But, was the concept for this infamous member of the X-Men stolen and the creator left unaccredited for the past 4 decades? Bleeding Cool sought to find out.

2014 is shaping up to be a pretty big year for the Merc with a Mouth. On Thursday Marvel released these teaser images from what appears to be Deadpool's upcoming wedding. Whether this legitimately part of the overarching Deadpool story arc or an elaborate prank on readers (given the character and the non-specific April release date) remains to be seen, but we'll learn the truth soon enough.

It was only a matter of time. The proclamation came down on Friday afternoon from Disney/LucasFilm that the license for Star Wars comics was being withdrawn from long-time publisher Dark Horse and given to the 'in house' producer of graphic novels: Marvel. Marvel will start releasing Star Wars comics beginning in 2015 to coincide with the release of Episode VII.


Antarctica has gotten quite a bit of press recently, but the frozen continent has yielded up more than ship-entrapping ice in the past week. Technicians associated with the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust have processed and carefully restored an unearthed (or un-iced) set of 100-year-old negatives. Click here to glimpse some of the results.

Speaking of the frozen bookends of Earth, let's transition over to the opposing hemisphere for a moment. The newest edition of the journal Nature describes the work of researchers in Greenland who discovered a colossal aquifer 'lake' within the world's second largest ice sheet. 

The parliament of the United Kingdom is <this> close to enacting legislation that may change the makeup of human DNA forever. The bill in question would essentially allow for a new type of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) that utilizes genetic material from three parents. Read here to see how such a process is even possible.

As mentioned last week, 2013 was a pretty significant year for many scientific fields. Archeology was no exception to this trend and the BBC has compiled this synopsis of the year in excavations.

While it's widely known that, 14 billion years after the Big Bang, the universe is still expanding. However, the fact that this expansion is taking place at an increasing rate has long been a source of consternation to physicists. Researcher Craig Hogan may have solved at least part of this mystery. Read here for his conclusions, which may delineate where quantum physics ends and cosmic physics begins. 

It may not look like any gecko that traipses this planet, but the European Space Agency has adopted the nomenclature for Abigaille, their new horizontal-to-vertical 'gecko-bot'.

Ford made waves in the auto-making world this week with their announcement that they will be engineering and releasing a hybrid concept car that will be at least partially powered by photovoltaic cells. Additional details on this would-be solar car will be released in the next few days during the International CES.

Pancreatic cancer is incredibly challenging both to effectively detect and to treat. However, these difficulties may soon be a thing of the past. The latest edition of the journal PNAS details the potentially groundbreaking findings of scientists at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.  

General Awesomeness/Feats of Nerdery

It took DeviantArt user Unrellius 14 months to create this poster-style depiction of every character to ever appear on Futurama. Bonus: the image is 100% free to print!

When it comes time to tender your resignation you could compose  a letter or go outside standard protocol. Avid Trekkie David Waddell chose the latter, announcing his departure from the local legislature of a North Carolina town with an announcement in Klingon

Artist Luke Jerram's latest collection is a unique blend of stunning visuals and harrowing pathology. Jerram re-created some of the deadliest and most virulent microorganisms in delicately hand-blown glass. The results are more than a bit surreal.  

The snow on the ground right now is too light and fluffy to make snowmen, but nerds in other cold weather locales are not so afflicted. Check out these 30 snowmen based on characters and scenes from Calvin & Hobbes.

I leave you all with this smile-inducing image of Sirs Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart celebrating the new year together. As always, best wishes for an awesome week ahead!

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