Archive for August, 2010


If you didn’t already, earlier this year Bruce Wayne was killed by Darkseid during the epic Final Crisis storyline.  This left a tremendous gap in Gotham City as it’s criminals began to realize that Batman was gone.  Reluctantly Dick Grayson (aka Robin, aka Nightwing) assumed the mantle of the Dark Knight along with Bruce’s troubled son Damien as a new Robin The Boy Wonder.

But as many of you know, no one stays dead forever in comic books.  Bruce Wayne wasn’t killed, only displaced in time and is slowly making his way back.  With Bruce’s return, he gain dons the cape and cowl as Batman.  Much to my and everyone’s surprise, there will now be two Batmen protecting Gotham City.  Dick Grayson and Damien will continue as Batman & Robin, with Bruce Wayne taking on a more global role as Batman.

As a lifelong Batman fan, I am not at all comfortable with this.  In my mind there can only be one Batman and I sincerely hope that DC Comics has a little more in store than just a franchised Batman.  Yeah, the world needs a Batman, that is a truth that has been beaten into us fans over the years.  Without Batman, Gotham will tear itself apart and anarchy will reign.  But to have a Batman in every city in my mind is a little ridiculous.  As they say in Highlander; there can be only one.  Where DC is going with this I do not know and not sure if I like it.

To have more than one Green Lantern was acceptable, it was a given.  The Lantern Corps is a military organization so it makes perfect sense that there are more of them out roaming the universe.  Kryptonians, yeah there are a lot more of them now…but only one Superman.  There can’t be a whole gaggle of Supermen flying around because over time they begin to lose that special unique status that made them the icons they are.  One Superman, one Batman, that’s the way it has to be.

Batman has always been special to me because in spite of his lack of super powers, he was a genuine superhero.  He possessed the intelligence, the reasoning, the sheer will to drive him to become more than he was; the big fat bank account didn’t hurt either.  The idea that one man can make a difference has never been told so well as with Batman.  He and he alone drove fear into the hearts of Gotham’s underworld.  He always defied the odds by taking on crime alone.  He was always just a man and as such everyone could aspire to be him.  Without a power ring or being born on another planet, you couldn’t be Green Lantern or Superman.  Batman as always shown us that one man, with the drive and determination of Bruce Wayne could stand up and make a difference.

The idea that anyone could be taught or trained to be Batman takes the uniqueness away.  The mystery vanishes and it kills the idea behind Batman.  Even if Bruce Wayne himself takes them under his wing and personally trains them, they are no more Batman than Dick Grayson.  He can take his place, be he can never fill his shoes.  Just as The Joker knew right away that Dick wasn’t the real Batman, so will everyone else in time.  I urge Dan Didio and the writers over at DC to not destroy Batman like this. 

To read the original release from The Source and The New York Post, click here and here.

The Word – 8/26/10 – UPDATED

Going to start out this week’s Word with a little rant.  I found out yesterday that there is another blog called Word of the Nerd.  It’s a three man operation that hasn’t posted anything since the end of July.  I looked over their blog and even though it may look better than mine, it isn’t as good.  I have to admit that I was a little discouraged by finding this out, but with a new dawn I am once again determined and will continue.  So don’t be fooled by any impostors, get your Word from the only source worth mentioning.  Now on to the weekly links.

This first link is something everyone should click on and go read.  The Government can now track your movements with a GPS without a search warrant or violating your Fourth Amendment rights.  Let’s not let this happen; let’s not let the United States become the totalitarian regime that some would make it.  Click here to read the Time Magazine online article.

For all you comic book geeks, here are the 75 Most Memorable Moments in DC Comics History.  Courtesy of CBR you can view the list here.  Thank the gods that Kevin Smith’s Batman wetting his pants isn’t on the list.

From one of my favorite websites Lifehacker, for any of you who use Ubuntu, a theme that makes your GUI look like Windows 7.  Check it out and download it here.

This is one of the best Xbox 360 mods I have ever seen.  This guy should work for NASA or ILM.  Check out Zachariah Perry Cruse’s Iron Man 360 mod on his blog page here.

Once again from Lifehacker; Nine Great Uses for Private Browsing that Don’t Involve Porn.  Read about it here.

Ever wonder what it would be like to be standing on a planet while it’s being destroyed?  I know it’s something I think about all the time.  If you’re now curious about it, check it out here.

Hey, did you know that you can now make free phone calls through Gmail?  Check out these two great links from Maximum PC and Lifehacker with details.

If you’re a fan of the TNT show Leverage, like me; check out this clip of the cast panel at Comic Con from YouTube.  WTF is Wil Wheaton doing there?

All you Facebook users need to check this out.  Tips on how to make Facebook act like you want it to.  Check out the article here.

This will be filed under WTF.  It’s just a damn video game people.  See what I am talking about courtesy of Geeks Are Sexy by clicking here.

Got any old, dead hard drives laying around?  Don’t know what to do with them?  Over at Lifehacker they have some suggestions for you.  Check it out here.

This has got to be the cutest, most cleaver mash up I’ve seen.  Check out Wookie the Pooh here.

Imagine Wesley Snipes as Geordi LaForge in Star Trek: The Next Generation, or Yaphet Kotto as Captain Picard.  That’s what almost happened.  Read about it here.

Find out why the producers of Star Trek 2 are comparing it to The Dark Knight.  Damon Lindelof explains himself here, from Blastr.

I’ve got two great How To links for you this week.  The first deals with changing your default save folder in Windows 7, read about it here.  The second is more for the handy with a hammer and nails types.  Building a hidden home theater PC inside your entertainment center, check it out here.

The app of the week is a Firefox extension that lets you scan a file for malware before you even download it.  VTzilla can be added to Firefox to give you added security from viruses and malware.  It uses 42 of the best malware scanners to check the link to the file before you even download it.  I have used it a little and so far it’s working.  If you’d like to learn more, the fine folks at Lifehacker have more info, check it out here.

Milkaholic

The last link for the week can be filed under “Who gives a crap?”  I normally don’t comment on celebrity news unless it is nerd-worthy; but our favorite train wreck Lindsay Lohan is suing E*Trade.  Apparently she has taken offense that their Super Bowl ad which depicts a baby named Lindsay as a milkaholic.  She and her lawyer believe E*Trade is clearly talking about her in the ad.  Now I for one thought that the commercial was one of the funniest of last year’s Super Bowl and I really didn’t put two and two together at the time because I was watching the damn game.  Please Lindsay, go away!  You can read more of the CNET article and see a video of the ad here.  Milka-what?!?!

For those of you in the Charlotte, NC area, Spandex City Comic Lounge is having an Introduction to Magic: The Gathering and Intermediate Yu-Gi-Oh! on Friday Aug 27 and Saturday Aug 28 respectively.  If you’re into either of these games, I encourage you go come out and take part in some great family friendly fun.  Space is limited so if you want to take part please go to Spandex City to sign up.  There is also the Heroclix Final Four Youth Tournament on Saturday Aug. 28 from 4 to 6.  Don’t forget to mention to heard about on Word of the Nerd and you’ll receive a puzzled look from the owner Mike.

Don’t forget that this Saturday is the first ever International Read Comics in Public Day.  Brian Heater and Sarah Morean from The Daily Cross Hatch are the driving force behind this event in an effort to promote and encourage comic readership.  They also want people to recognize comics as legitimate literature.  Check out their Facebook page for more info.  Let’s all participate this Saturday.

Well folks, that’s The Word for this week.  If you find any of the links entertaining or useful, please comment and let people know about Word of the Nerd.  Be sure to check back for how-to blogs and other postings.  I will have a new post up soon about MP3 apps that I am sure you’ll find useful.



The Nerd
The Nerd says, “A good movie will inspire you to reach for the stars”.
I’ve decided that instead of filling up my personal Facebook page with links and other stuff that no one cares about; I will modify my occasional posting of The Word.  If you’ve been following my blog, and judging by the hit counter and followers section, you haven’t; I like to post cool and interesting stuff to help people get in touch with their inner nerd.  The Word will be a weekly posting every Thursday of all the neat things I’ve seen throughout the week and maybe even some of my own colorful commentary.  Now this is by no means my attempt to “steal” content from any other website, I am simply posting a link to the material; I do the work so you don’t have to.
This weeks first link is to the oatmeal.com.  This site has provided me and some of my co-workers with hours of entertainment and belly laughs.  The site’s creator Matthew Inman in my mind is a comic genius who deserves his own TV show, with his hilarious cartoons and polls.  Go see The Oatmeal here.
Next up is from lifehacker, one of my new favorite websites.  Facebook released yesterday a new app that lets you and your friends check in to locations, Foursquare-style.  A lot of people don’t like this and Facebook has been taking a lot of heat over privacy issues.  If you want to know how to disable this feature and maintain your privacy, check out this nifty how-to here.
The Word’s next link is also from lifehacker.  Ever wonder how or if you could set up SMS alerts on your Hotmail account?  Check out this how-to here.
Switching gears slightly for all of us gamers out there.  Razer has come up with another fine gaming keyboard.  This link is via Maximum PC.
Need help finding all those tweaks to make your Windows experience more enjoyable or to just put your own personal touch on your PC?  Tweak Me! is the a great portable app that puts the power in your hands without having to drill through endless screens.  You can even set up profiles for different configurations.  Download it here.
Restore some order to your jumbled or misplaced downloads with this list of 10 handy apps from Lifehacker.  Find the article on their website here.
Man Robs Taco Bell Dressed As Batman
Now this is just sad.  Some freak decides to rob a Taco Bell dressed as Batman.  Do people have no shame?  You can watch this pathetic loser via YouTube.

Lastly, this video has been around for a little while, but it’s still the coolest thing by far I’ve seen in a while.  Check out the trailer for the new DC Universe Online.

Okay kids, that’s The Word for this week.  Make sure you check back next week for another list of links and also keep an eye open for more posts.  As always, if you have a link you’d like to share, pass it along and I will post it in a future The Word.  If you like this or any other posts here on Word Of The Nerd, please leave me a comment or better yet, share the wealth with your friends.  I love spreading The Word.

I know we have all pondered this question every time we have to shell out $30, $40 or $50 bucks for replacement ink cartridges for our inkjet printers.  So why does it cost so much?  Some say that by weight, printer ink costs more than Russian caviar.  What’s so special about this “liquid gold” that makes it so damned expensive?  Put very simply…nothing.

Experts will tell you that ink is ink; although there are various types of inks used in printers, it is all basically the same with nothing to justify such high prices.  Why do you think there are SO many third party companies offering lower prices for refills and generic cartridges?  Because it is nothing special and if you can do it cheaper than the other guy, why not?  HP, Canon and Epson have gone so far to sue third party companies for trying to muscle in on their territory.

When I decided to sit down and do some research for this article, I was rather surprised to find the information to easy to find.  The truth is that it’s no big secret as to why printer companies charge so much for ink.  When you get right down to it the answer is simple, because they can.  It is almost as economical to purchase a new printer every time you run out of ink than it is to keep buying replacement cartridges.

Back in the day, when printers cost upward of $500, no one really cared that ink was only $30 or $40.  But now when you can buy a fairly decent printer for under $100, it doesn’t take long to figure out that you’re being screwed.  I had a neighbor who would replace his printer every time he ran out of ink.  Every few months, there would be a fairly new looking inkjet printer sitting next to his garbage can on Sunday evenings.  After a year I finally asked him what the reason for it was.  His answer shocked me at first, until I really thought about it.

The point is that ink is ink and the consumer is getting screwed by the big guys once again.  It’s almost like the oil companies charging so much for gas.  They do it because they can because they know no matter how high the price, we’ll still buy it; what little choice do we have?  The majority of HP’s profits come from the sale of replacement supplies for their printers such as ink.  So as I am fond of asking in nearly all of my blogs; what are the alternatives?  Well there aren’t many, but you do have some options.

You could go with the option of replacing your printer every time it runs out of ink.  This is what a lot of people do and if that works for you then more power to you brother.  But you’re only fueling the machine as surely as you would by continuing to buy the overpriced ink cartridges.  Why keep putting money in their pockets?  They are still taking it out of yours at a much faster pace.

Now what I like to do is find alternatives that not only cost less money in the long run, but also provide a much better product for your money.  I have never been a fan on inkjet printers, in fact I think they are crap.  I much prefer a laser printer any day over any ink based printer.  Now I know you’re going to say that printer toner cost even more than ink and you’d be absolutely right, it does.  But you have to keep in mind that toner lasts much, much longer than any ink cartridge.  You get more printed pages out of a standard toner cartridges than you would an ink cartridge.  Over time ink cartridges dry out if not used or stored properly and if you only printed a few pages with that cartridge, you just wasted even more money.  Toner will not dry out and will last much longer if not used.  So if you compare the cost between the two, toner is a much better value in the long run than ink.

Laser printers just like inkjet printers have come down in price considerably over the past few years.  You can now get a pretty decent laser printer for around $200 and you’ll get far more life out of it than you would an inkjet.  Now if you bring color into the picture these prices fluctuate quite a bit.  With most color laser printers there are four cartridges to contend with and they can be quite costly and the initial cost of the printer is higher than a black and white.  But if you look at the long term, you will get out slightly less with a toner option than with ink.  Color ink is even more expensive than black ink and you’re still faced with the problems of the cartridge drying out.

Now with third party supplies there comes another potential issue that you must be made aware of.  Because there is money to be made out there, you will find that some supplies aren’t as good as others.  Refurbished or refilled ink and toner cartridges don’t always perform as well as others, so you have to make sure you’re dealing with a company that will stand behind their product.  You need to do your homework before just buying any old cartridge from Roscoe’s Discount Ink.  Often times you get what you pay for so be careful.

Okay, we’ve all done it at least once; bought a game that you thought we be the next big thing, only to find out that instead of providing you with endless hours of entertainment and kill streaks, it was a giant turd.  At this point, you’ve opened it, installed it and played it a little; it’s too late to return it to the store, so what can you do to cleanse yourself of the stink from a bad game?

Most retails stores will not even consider giving you your money back on an open piece of software, no matter how much you scream and yell.  Although I have seen it work in the past, but it can also get you banned from the store and it’s not worth taking the risk.  At best all you will get is store credit that you can then select another game and hope it isn’t a bomb as well.  Some retailers will tell you too bad, you bought it, it’s yours and you are stuck with a game you don’t want.  In most cases store credit is better than nothing, so consider your options carefully.

A lot of online retailers like EA and Steam, who offer downloadable purchases have very limited return options, but you have to act fast.  In most cases all you’re going to get is credit to purchase something else unless you have a more convincing excuse than “I don’t like it”.  Back in the day, before video games really took off as a huge money making industry, you could effectively go buy a game, take it home, make a copy and return it to the store and do the same thing again and again.  Now that retailers have gotten wise to this little scam, they put very strict return policies on software and video games.  I for one spent many late nights at work making copies of user manuals that at that time contained the copy protection of choice.  Copy protection has gotten a lot more elaborate as savvy users have found ways around each and every attempt to keep software pirates at bay.  The battle continues and sometimes honest consumers are caught in the crossfire.

But now you are stuck with a game that you don’t like and never intend to play again, what can you do?  There are a few options that offer some relief from your poor decision, but seldom will you ever recover all of the original purchase price.  Returning the game to the store for in-store credit is usually the easiest option available.  Some stores likes Gamestop offer to buy used games for store credit.  I have always found this a bit deceiving because they offer you peanuts for the game, then put it back on the shelve at almost full price so the next unlucky schmuck is the one who really gets screwed.  This practice generally works better for console titles that you aren’t going to play any more.  You can take several games in and get a few bucks to put toward the new version of Madden NFL.  I know some people who are very skilled at this practice and it works for them, it works for the store and everyone is happy.  But I have found that the mark up for “used” games generally isn’t worth it when for a few dollars more you can have a nice new unopened copy.

Another thing to watch out for is their “guaranteed to play” policy, read the fine print or else you can be stuck with a game that simply doesn’t work because of a damaged disk or some other issue that isn’t covered by their guarantee.  I have been burned by this before when a tiny, almost impossible to see crack in the disk made it unplayable in my Xbox 360.  The store would not take it back and I was stuck with a very nice looking coaster.  If you’re lucky, you have a good rapport with the people who work in whatever game store you frequent and they know you as the type not to want to rip them off.  But going up against some pimple faced douche you’re not going to have much of a chance of convincing them you’re sincere.

So there are some things you can do to make better choices when it come to buying a new game.  First and foremost, do your homework.  Make sure you either read up on the game in question or ask around, chances are someone else has played it and either says it rocks or it blows.  Don’t be too quick to jump on the bandwagon, that is usually the mistake I make; blindly following the crowd.  Don’t be too quick to buy a game you know nothing about.  For those of you who aren’t as dedicated and won’t wait in line at midnight to be one of the first to purchase the game on release day, you can always wait to see what your friends say after staying up all night playing.  One indispensable resource I like to use is XPlay on G4.  They offer great reviews for newly released and upcoming games and I must say that Morgan Webb is pretty easy on the eyes as well.  There are also various magazines that you can pick up to get the skinny on what’s new in the gaming world.  I like to stick to the free stuff, word of mouth is invaluable.

Next you can download and play a demo of the game if it’s available.  Many companies will release a demo or beta version ahead of time to either wet the appetites of potential customers or to work out any bugs in the software.  These can give you the best experience of what the game will be like before you buy it.  If you don’t like the demo, chances are you’re not going to like the game and won’t waste your money.  Companies won’t do this for all new releases and it’s becoming less and less frequent that demos are released.  For beta testers, you either have to be one of a chosen few or buy another title in order to get access to a beta test.  Sometimes it just comes down to being lucky.  One thing to be careful of is that most games have a single player and a multi player or online mode.  Most of the hardcore gamers are in it for the multi player experience.  A demo will offer either or and sometimes you can have a great single player game with a really crappy multi player mode or vice-versa.

Sometimes you can preview a game in the store before it’s released, but you might find yourself having to wait in line behind some six year old kid with sharing issues or a group of teenage thugs who are there for the day.  But you might get lucky and get to play, either way just by watching others play you could gain some insight.  Don’t count on this being available because some stores suck and the consoles are broken the majority of the time.  If you’re one of the lucky few who can attend E3 or San Diego Comic Con, you can play or watch demos of the most highly anticipated games months before they are released.  But if you can’t afford to jet cross country every July, then you’re left to more conventional means.

Then there is the tried and true method I like to call “try before you buy”.  This can be accomplished a number of different ways, some more ethical than others.  If your local movie rental store also rents video games, go and rent that sucker first.  This is usually only an option for console games, so you PC gamers are stuck with fewer options.  I rented Batman: Arkham Asylum about a dozen times before I decided to buy it.  It was a really good alternative to purchasing the game then either not liking it or not having time to play it.  I am not fifteen years old with summers off to do nothing but park myself in front of my Xbox for days on end.  I have a job, a family and all that other crap that can severely hamper my gaming time.  If your spouse monitors or even knows about the money you spend on games, then it makes it even more crucial that you make good choices when buying games.

There are services such as Gamefly that work a lot like Netflix.  You put the game on your want list and they send it to you.  You get to play as much as you want, then either return it or you can buy it at a discounted price, some will even then send you the original box and manuals.  The downsides to this method is new titles aren’t always immediately available and if you don’t act quickly you could have to wait days or sometimes weeks until a copy is available.  Another being as with Netflix, you have to pay a monthly fee to belong to the service.  If you play enough games, then it’s more than worth it, but if you’re only a casual player, the recurring cost may not be worth it to you.  Weigh your options then decide which way better fits your lifestyle and wallet.

Now comes the methods that skirt the thin gray line of ethics.  Some gamers choose to download an illegal or pirated copy from the Internet either by bittorrent or some other file sharing means.  This carries some risk that you may deem not worth the risk.  Companies are going to greater and greater lengths to prevent online piracy of software.  That being said, the excuse of “I planned on buying it after I tried it for a while” usually doesn’t wash with them.  They love to make examples of people by slapping them with outrageous fines and sometimes even jail time.  Although users in the United States are seldom brought to any kind of legal punishment, governments of other countries are cracking down rather heavily on file sharing sites and the people who run them.  You’re taking a risk of getting slapped with a huge fine if you get caught, so don’t say you weren’t warned, software piracy is illegal in the United States.  Another huge risk is the possibility of being infected with a virus by trying to install the game.  You’ve given permission for the software to be installed so often times your anti-virus pays it no mind if it’s infected with viruses, trojans or malware.  It’s risky any way you go, so you need to be extremely careful if you’re going to thumb your nose at Johnny Law.  The FBI certainly won’t come crashing through your windows and haul you off to prison.  They will politely knock on the door, present you with a search order, then take your computer or console off to be examined.  Now is when you hire a lawyer and pray.

But if you’re just stuck with the thing and you simply can’t get rid of it, your last option could be Ebay.  Keeping in mind that one man’s turd is another man’s jewel, put an ad on Ebay and let fortune decide the outcome.  Who knows, you might get lucky and two people will get into a bidding war and pay double what you originally paid, however that is unlikely, but it might get it off your hands while recouping some of your money.  Hopefully this has given you some insight to avoid making costly mistakes when it comes to buying video games.  Most of us just suck it up and deal with the knowledge we bought a crappy game.  It sits on the shelve collecting dust and every time I look at it, I’m reminded of my poor decision.  So until next I blog, play hard, play fair and have fun.