Archive for May, 2012


Creative Day Supplemental: A $15 Thank You

The original intent of this past Monday’s article on cruises, and more specifically of Norwegian Jewel was to allow me to discuss the ridiculous lack of hygiene and maintenance displayed in our stateroom on day 1 of the cruise. The article ended up evolving into a depiction of the first 2-3 days of the cruise and a vague analysis of it. Ultimately the idea was that it would be a one-shot article and that I would carry any other discussions of the trip over to Twitter, as to not burden our readers at Constantly Calibrating with non-nerd related stuff. Well that all changed last night when the lovely folks at Chin Chin, the “Asian fusion” restaurant located on the Norwegian Jewel, decided that it was my fault that they in effect poisoned me.

Chin Chin of Norwegian Jewel's Sign

“Poisoned? Certainly you just mean a standard food-poisoning from some undercooked meat or something like that, right?” That might be what you’re asking. You also might just be asking where today’s first edition of Ultimate Back Issue is. Well that’s not the discussion right now, so come back later for our regularly scheduled programming content. Continue reading

Shut Up and Take Our Money! Spellbound Magazine

Another Tuesday, another day to yell unto the internets and demand that they take our reasonably hard-earned money. Every Tuesday I scour the internet (or more accurately click the first link I find that looks appealing) to find awesome and possibly amazing things that we should be spending money on. This can be a really cool item from ThinkGeek or a badass t-shirt featured on TeeFury or Threadless. More than likely a lot of stuff featured will be assorted Kickstarters, seeing as my bookmark folder is filled to the brim with campaigns ending every few days over the next two months.

Today will be a SUATOM! of the latter, as we feature and interesting campaign focused around a new children’s fantasy e-zine called Spellbound Magazine. I first became aware of Spellbound Magazine through a tweet from the amazing fantasy author and overall badass, Neil Gaiman. Your should know who Neil Gaiman is if you’re one of our regular readers, or if you have even a partially functioning brain so I’ll leave off the rest of the gushing over the man’s amazingness.

Continuing on, this isn’t about Mr. Gaiman, but about the awesome magazine he alerted me to. Spellbound Magazine was once upon a time a quarterly children’s fantasy magazine that was published from 1999-2003. Due to budgetary concerns they were forced to shut down, but now they’re back and looking to crowd source their way into the competitive world of e-zine publication. The new Spellbound Magazine will continue the original’s quarterly release schedule and they already have up a planned line-up for it’s first year as well as subscription information:

We will be publishing four issues per year in ePub format. Issues will be available from Amazon, B&N and Smashwords for $5.00 each. Subscriptions will be available with issues being e-mailed to subscribers. Subscriptions will be $20.00 a year. We will continue to center each issue around a specific fantasy creature with the first year’s line up being:
• Winter 2012 – Rings and Other Magic Things
• Spring 2013 – Changelings and Doppelgangers
• Summer 2013 – Dragons
• Fall 2013 – Creatures of the Deep Dark Woods
If we get the funding the first issue (Winter 2012) will be published December 2012.

The rewards for funding the project are fairly straightforward: for donating $5 and up to $30 you can get ever-increasing rewards of magazine issues, subscriptions, and a thank you in the inaugural issue. That doesn’t mean you have to stop at the $30 mark of course, but it’s good to know what you’ll get. In the end though, and excuse the schmaltz I’m about to lay down, the best reward is knowing that you helped in resurrecting and spawning a new generation of children’s fantasy magazine.

If this looks like a magazine that you would likely subscribe to, then you should consider donating at least $25 so that they can get on their feet and so you can get a subscription to their magazine. The project only has another 11 days left with just under half their goal of $4000 remaining. Check them out and help bring about another place for fantasy authors and readers to find up and coming work.

If you have or know of a Kickstarter that you would like to see posted in a future issue of SUATOM! you can let us know in the comments, or email us!

Tomorrow we bring you our first issue of Ultimate Back Issue our name still in progress column about comics and my reading of them.

Creative Day: Norwegian Cruises

Welcome to the first-ever edition of Creative Day! The first order of business for Creative Day is helping me come up with a better name. After reading this first article you can feel free to suggest any and all names and maybe I will choose one. You are also free to suggest a name without having read anything I have written, but that kinds of seems like a cheap, dickish move, so maybe not.

Creative Day from this point on is going to be a weekly article where I write about whatever crosses my mind in the moments before my hands gently embrace the keyboard before me. One week I might make up a top ten list for the greatest of the Doctor’s companions, while the following week I’ll post up some fan fiction for Mass Effect that puked its way into my brain. Ooh, maybe I should name the column Brain Pukes. Would you read a weekly column called Brain Pukes? How about Brain Vomit Maybe I should stop thinking about this before I actually vomit seeing as I now appear to have an aptitude for sea sickness.

That brings me to what is likely going to be my first edition for this new thing: Cruises. Just as a point of understanding, when I say cruises I don’t mean those dinky little day-long booze cruises your parent’s go on because they’re sick of looking at your face; I mean the 5, 7, or even longer cruises done on huge Titanic-esque boats operated by Royal Caribbean, Princess, and many more.

You may be asking yourself: “Josh, what in the flying and/or walking fuck does going on a cruise have to do with a nerd culture website like yours?” Well to answer you question you malignant tit, if you were lying out on a balcony of a cruise ship looking out over the beautiful snow-covered mountain greenery of Alaska you would probably want to write something about it as well. So suck it up and read something about a topic that might be outside your normal comfort zone for once.

Continue reading

ConCal Site Update

Some of you may have noticed that there has been a lack of regular news updates on Constantly Calibrating over the last couple of weeks. The reasoning for this is that trying to work on my first book and summer travel plans have eaten into my schedule. Have no fear though, for regular updates will be happening for most major upcoming events such as E3 and San Diego Comic-Con. Starting this week I will also be instituting a series of new columns on the site each and every weekday. Here is a rundown of what to expect from this point out:

Mondays – Starting today I will be writing a weekly column called “Creative Day” (Seriously, if anyone has a better name for this just recommend please.) “Creative Day” will be focused on whatever random thing I feel like writing about in that moment. This week’s article will likely focus on my opinions of cruises, seeing as I’m currently on one. Then again I haven’t written it yet, so maybe my opinion will change in the next few minutes.

Tuesdays – Tuesdays will be weekly editions of “Shut Up and Take Our Money!”, which will focus mostly on Kickstarter campaigns I’m currently fond of, but may transition into any other awesome nerdy items I happen upon in my internet travels. If you see a Kickstarter you would like me to discuss you can post it here.

Wednesdays – Comics are the focus of Wednesdays. Coming up with a name for Comics is also a goal I’m working on. My wife and I started reading (rereading in my case) the Marvel Ultimate Universe of comics last week and I thought it might be interesting to write-up a combination review, commentary, rantathon each week for what we’ve read.

Thursdays – Thursdays will switch off each week to every three weeks between two columns. The first is our incredibly popular “RetroRewind”. For those not familiar, in “RetroRewind” I take a look at older games and do a bit of commentary and review. You hopefully are familiar with my Leisure Suit Larry series I did last month. If you would like to recommend a game for me to play, let me know in the comments, on Facebook, or Twitter.

All other weeks we will feature a column called “Active Play”. In “Active Play” I will simply discuss what I’m actively playing. Funny how that works. Any topic related to video games may be featured, so we’ll see what I think of for this week.

Thursdays, starting again June 7th, will continue to be the release day for new episodes of “Constantly Calibrating” hosted by myself and the lovely and talented Steven Needham.

Fridays – “A Week(ish) in News” makes its semi-triumphant return! I’m not dropping news all together, but instead moving it into a variety column of sorts for Fridays. All news related to all things nerd culture can, and will, be featured from the prior week.

That about covers the upcoming changes to Constantly Calibrating; more is still to come so stick around for news and announcements as we think of them!

An Adventure in Sports Ball

There are many cultures and subcultures in America, and while I belong to a few there is one that I have never really identified with; the sports culture. I had earlier this evening the chance to attend a basketball game. Being out of my element I took this as a learning experience, expanding upon my training as an anthropologist I will attempt to extrapolate the significance of this foreign group of people. Arriving at a large gathering, resembling the colosseum of Ancient Rome, two teams are pitted against each other in a contest of skill. It appears that these teams are representative and the embodiment of different cities. Donning garments in the traditional colours of their native city, the greatest warriors appear to fight over points by gaining possession of the ball and attempting to throw, or “shoot” it into a steel circle called the “basket”. The distance at which they successfully make it into this “basket” is determinate of the amount of points awarded to the “scoring” team. The game is also officiated by referees to ensure that the mutually established rules are not violated, or the opposing team get what is know as a “free throw” to the “basket”.

While battles of skill are not the alien to nerd culture, as we participate in them quite often, the behaviour of those watching is the truly intriguing part to me. It appears that those in attendance to the ritual feel a personal connection with those whom are actively competing. Going in, I assumed that this was a mere contest of abilities, quickly discovering much more pride in one’s “home team”. Those in attendance seem to be so determined to have their team win that they stoop the point of berating the positive, well played or points scoring actions of the other team. This to me felt like a shakespearean actor yelling in protest to a wonderfully performed broadway musical, an RPG gamer throwing tomatoes at someone who just won a FPS competition. It would be different if they protested a horrible action, such as I do over the “Twilight” franchise being a reader of what I personally consider good literature, but I won’t get up in arms for J.R. Tolken’s Lord of the Rings just because I also enjoyed Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

My last bit of commentary on the crowd would be the chanting. Those in attendance would begin ritual chance for “defence”, or to “beat L.A.” in unison in an attempt to what I can only assume rally the resolve of their own team. This appears to be in vain, however as the game progressed, the crowd became more rambunctious. This energetic and boisterous state may be attributed to the copious amounts of alcohol consumed in these arenas, which somehow makes the game more enjoyable for those in attendance whether the team is winning or losing. This is understandable, for while I did not consume this beverage of choice at the event, I have imbibed before and remember the euphoric state induced by its inhibition.
In closing, the aptly named “sports-ball” culture may not be for me, but it has a very loyal and interesting following. I however, will stick with my conventions, film openings, and festivals.

Mounted Combat Coming to Skyrim!

Well, this was both expected and unexpected all at once. Bethesda just posted that mounted combat will be coming to Skyrim with patch 1.6.

Skyrim Mounted Combat

For more info on what’s coming to the patch you can check out the patch info below or head straight over to the Bethesda Blog post.

1.6 Update (all platforms unless specified)

NEW FEATURES

  • Mounted Combat – Skyrim now allows you to do melee and ranged combat while riding a horse
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    BUG FIXES

    • General stability and memory optimizations
    • General AI pathfinding optimizations and bug fixes
    • Optimizations and crash fixes for data leaks
    • Fixed rare crash with lighting
    • Fixed crashes related to loading and saving games
    • Fixed crash with summoned creatures/NPCs
    • Fixed rare issue where saves would be corrupted
    • Improved logic for when ranged kill cams are played
    • Fixed issue with ranged kill cams while killing a dragon
    • Fixed rare issue with certain ranged kill cams not playing properly
    • Fixed issue with nirnroot lighting not properly cleaning up
    • Fixed issue where bow damage was being calculated incorrectly
    • Fixed rare problem with werewolf kill moves would not finish animating properly
    • In “The Break of Dawn” fixed rare issue where Meridia’s Beacon would disappear from player’s inventory
    • Fixed occasional issue where followers would disappear after player pays off a bounty after committing a crime
    • Fixed issue where certain creatures and NPCs would fail to respawn properly
    • Fixed rare issue with dialogue subtitles not displaying properly
    • Fixed issue with water appearing blurry when loading a saved game after creating a save underwater
    • Fixed issue where map cursor would occasionally disappear after closing a message box with Kinect enabled (Xbox 360)
    • Fixed rare issue with shouts only performing the first level and not other unlocked levels with Kinect enabled (Xbox 360)
    • Fixed issue where the shout buttons would stop working properly if users mashed LB and RB during cooldown with Kinect enabled (Xbox 360)