Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Under the Geek Tree 2007

Under the Geek Tree 2007
Originally uploaded by Nuke_18042

A snap shot of the Geek Tree's skirt and small horde of geeky presents, including Expedition to Greyhawk Ruins and the Gunslinger Born graphic novel.

Spawn of the Geek Tree

Spawn of the Geek Tree
Originally uploaded by Nuke_18042

This is the smaller Geek Tree that I put up at work. It features a variety of micro ornaments that used to be on the main Geek Tree, but had to be taken down for fear that our toddler might try and eat them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Phantom of the Attic Moves to Downtown Easton

Phantom of the Attic, my friendly neighborhood gaming/comic book store moved to downtown Easton, Pa. this week. The store's located at 125-129 Third Street, one block east from the Route 22 4th Street exit. The new location is great -- it's got beautiful hard wood floors, expansive amounts of space, and the Silver Surfer flying in one of the two display windows.

The shop moved from the 25th Street Shopping Plaza location, which wasn't nearly as nice as this one. A couple of my friends have remarked that parking might be an issue downtown, but in my experience it's a heck of a lot easier to navigate and find a spot in downtown Easton then it is having to run the automobile gauntlet that is 25th Street during rush hour (or any hour for that matter).

The store's still in flux, but the comics are racked and things appear to be coming together nicely. There's a prime gaming space in the back. so prime that I'd even consider having my group meet down there once in a while.

It's that nice. Or has the potential to be. I'm also thinking of volunteering to run a Savage Worlds one shot at the store in December, once NaNoWriMo is behind me and normality returns to the Newquist household. I've been itching to get in a game of SW; this would be a good way to do it.

Anyway, if you're in the Lehgih Valley (and I know a number of you are) stop by, check out the store, and buy something. This is the only truly geeky shop we have in Easton; we should make an extra effort to support it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Marching Downtown

The Easton Area School Board voted 7-2 to go ahead with $30 million in renovations and expansions to March and Paxinosa Elementary Schools, a move that will see both schools closed in 2008-2009 while the kids temporary spend a year at the old Middle School (sans Middle School students, who will be moving to the new Middle School).

I was at the school board meeting last Thursday, and there was very little talk about this from the school board, which was disappointing. As a former reporter, I know that's likely because they've already talked it to death at the monthly Buildings and Grounds meetings, but still, they could have at least explained their reasoning. A few parents spoke; some were concerned about the suitability of the building for little kids (which has been my biggest hangup about the move) and one was paranoid about alleged drug deals and crime happening down town, which inspired this article in the Express-Times.

Personally, I don't think it's class or race at issue, or at least, I don't think that's the primary issue; it's more lack of knowledge, or rather, lack of accurate knowledge. People read the paper, see headlines about crime downtown, and get nervous. Kerry Myers, the new school board rep quoted in the article, is right: the suburbs are hardly immune to crime (as illustrated by a murder that happened just last month in Forks) and I'd be willing to bet there's just as many drug deals in the burbs as there are downtown. The difference is, you don't see them when everyone's hiding on their 1/4 acre.

There's certainly a perception of crime downtown, but at the same time, I've never felt like I was taking my life into my hands going to the library, getting dinner at Porter's, or having a drink at Which Brew, all of which are on Northampton Street.

I'd love to see some GIS data showing crime in Easton and the surrounding area (which sounds like a great project for the PoliSci department at Lafayette. Or maybe the Express-Times could do some number crunching...); nothing fights ignorance like facts.

Meanwhile, we still haven't heard enough about the changes being made to the old Middle School to make it suitable for K-4th graders. I want to hear about traffic management (as legions of parents compete with parents to get and drop off kids), playground equipment (last I heard, there wasn't any) and the not-insignificant issue of trying to herd 1,000 or so elementary school kids around a school that's much bigger than what they're used to.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Geeks Can Run for Office ... and Win!

Atlas Games President John Nephew's been elected to city council in Maplewood, Minnesota. According to Gaming Report, his opposition tried to play the "games are evil" card, but clearly it didn't work. I'm not saying I want to run for city council in Easton, I'm just saying I find it interesting that a gamer was able to do it ... and win.

Nephew talks about his win and the mainstreaming of games at ICv2.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Easton Area School Board Meeting Tonight (11/15)

The Easton Area School Board's meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Easton Area Education Center, 1801 Bushkill Drive, Easton, as it does the third Saturday of every month. What makes tonight different is they'll be discussing (and likely voting on) plans to renovate March and Paxinosa Schools. It's item K under section XI. NEW BUSINESS of the agenda. As part of these renovations, the school district has stated they intend to close Paxinosa and March schools next year (2008-2009) and have the students attend the old Middle School instead (its students having been moved to the new Middle School in Forks).

Parents of the affected schools met about two weeks ago to discuss this, and submitted a number of questions about the projects and their associated plans to the school board. The board has said they'll answer at least some of those tonight.

My wife and I live on College Hill and our daughter would have attended kindergarten at March next year, so this issue's of keen interest to us. I'm planning to attend the meeting; I'll be the guy with the dark green shirt, orange tie and the MacBook Pro in tow. :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Radio Active 59: Novel Update, Seeds of Destruction, NanoMonkeys, Invincible Super Blog

Book Cover: Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction

On this edition of Nuketown Radio Active, I update folks on my quest to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, check out a new LEGO Chess set, debate what to call a hybrid unicorn/pegasus.

In Netheads I talk about Chris's Invincible Super Blog, a blog featuring capsule reviews of current and classic comic books and the NanoMonkeys Podcast, which returns for its second year of offering advice and encouragement to those participating in National Novel Writing Month. Rounding out the podcast is a review the Hellboy graphic novel Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola. Get the episode at

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Of Charters and City Councils

Easton voters approved changes to the city's charter yesterday, implementing home rule, diversifying its taxing powers and expanding the city council to seven seats while making the mayor president of the council. I'm a little surprised at how few people voted on the issue, given how important it was: 2,289 vs 3,643 for the mayoral race.

Democrat Sal Panto was elected mayor again, and brought with him a string of Democratic councilmen and women.

The big question now is ... where do we go from here? The city's got serious financial problems, which is why I voted for the charter yesterday -- relying entirely on real estate taxes to fund government services clearly isn't working. But what kind of Democrats got elected yesterday? The fiscally responsible kind that will use their new tax powers wisely, or the tax-and-spend kind that will spawn a few dozen pet projects that will dig the city deeper into the hole?

Based on what I've read, I'm hoping for the former, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Radio Active #58: Chess for Kids, Geek Dads, D&D 4E

On this episode of Radio Active, I discuss my daughter Jordan's sudden desire to learn chess and my approach to teaching her, contemplate the impending arrival of National Novel Writing Month, check out the Geek Dad Podcast and Simian Farmer blog and offer some thoughts on the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Get the episode at Nuketown

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Capitol Ideas, Two Rivers Daily

For a variety of reasons, some relating to my novel work for NaNoWrimo, some personal interest, I've been checking out the areas newspaper web sites recently. The PennLive remains a jumbled Borg-like mess that some how managed to assimilate a half-dozen newspaper web sites, including our local paper, the Express-Times, but the redesigned is surprisingly clean and reader-friendly. Moreover, its spun off a number of new blogs.

Of particular interest to me on Election Day was the political blog Capitol Ideas, which featured live blogging of election results and occasional quotes from activists at the various polling places. It's an amusing read that mixed together politics with Queen references. I kid you not. Honestly, I didn't think reporters were allowed to have this much fun, at least in public.

Their new Easton blog is Two Rivers Daily, which sounds great until you realize that it's died an unceremonious death on October 10. Prior to that it lived up to its name with a steady stream of local happenings and press releases. There wasn't much there in the way of personal observations or opinions, the sort of thing a blog really needs to keep people interested, which may explain the doom that befell it.


Here are some useful links for figuring out whose running and who you want to vote for:

Election Coverage
League of Women Voters 2007 State Municipal Election Guide.
The Morning Call's take on the guide (PDF)
Express-Times' Endorsements
Morning Call Endorsements

Voting Information
How to use the voting machines
Where to vote in Northampton County

Saturday, October 27, 2007

March School Closing for Renovations?

College Hill is a abuzz with news that March School, as well as Paxinosa Elementary in Forks, may be closing during the 2008-09 school year for $30 million in renovations and expansions. Read the story in the Express-Times.

Students from both schools would be sent downtown to the former middle school, and no ones particularly thrilled about the decision, or how the school board made the preliminary decision without soliciting public input. The board votes on the plan at its November meeting, but folks in College Hill intend to meet and talk about it before then. There will be a meeting of concerned citizens at 7:30 PM in the basement hall of the College Hill Presbyterian Church on Monday.


There's also an article about this at the Morning Call. The article echos the express one; there are a few more quotes but that's about it. There's no reference to how/if the school might be modified (or procedures at the school modified) to accommodate the new students or if the administrative structure (principles, etc.) will remain the same or be merged. The Call article also has a six-post comment thread that gives some of the history on previous elementary school movies and shows some of the anger parents have for how the move came about (as well as previous promises made).

I'm coming into this late; our daughter will be entering preschool next fall, so it wasn't on our radar until this year, so I can't really comment on what's come before.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Radio Active #57: Nanowrimo, Kit Bag, Crisis on Finite Macs, Unquiet Desperation, Halo 3

I finally got out a new episode of Radio Active. In Episode #57, I become an uncle again, contemplate a Crisis on Finite Macs, geek out about Halo 3, look ahead to National Novel Writing Month, listen to the Unquiet Desperation podcast and the geeky Secret Agent internet radio station and consider the merits of a geek dad kit bag. Check out the podcast.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Uncle Redux

I posted this over at Nuketown, but it's worth mentioning here as well. I'm an uncle again; my sister had a baby boy -- Benjamin Francis -- on Tuesday. He weighed 8 lbs. 8 oz. and measured 22.5 inches (what a tall kid!). More on her blog.

Museum of Indian Culture’s Fall Powwow

The Museum of Indian Culture's Fall Powwow will be held this weekend in Allentown, Pa. The powwow features food, dancing demonstrations and lots of other fun stuff. My wife Sue (Red-tail Designs) will be there selling jewelry and demonstrating porcupine quillwork.

The cost is $5 per adult; $3 per senior; $3 per child (kids under 12 free). Driving directions are here; more information about the event can be found on the museum's web site at

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Easton Arts Council

One of the great things about Easton is its art community, which has been growing steadily since I moved here a decade ago. The Easton Arts Council provides a framework for bringing the city's artists together and sponsors and/or coordinates a number of events throughout the year.

The web site lists the group's annual events as well as upcoming ones. A member list is in the works (come on guys, let's see that blog roll!); you can join the group by downloading its membership form.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lehigh Valley Crafters Guild: Blog & Podcast Links

My wife Sue and I gave a presentation on "Blogs, Podcasts and Other Modern Marvels" last night at the Lehigh Valley Crafters Guild. Sue's a member of the guild -- she designs horsehair and porcupine quill jewelry -- and has her own business, Red-Tail Designs. She spoke about how blogs and podcasts can help artists, from finding inspiration to promoting their work, while I talked about the technology behind them.

Here are some quick notes from the presentation, including links to the blogs and podcasts we talked about.

A successful blog has:
• Lots of pictures and some text
• Lots of close up pictures
• A good balance between personal and professional information

Example Blogs
• Art Biz Blog,
• Craft Magazine Blog,
• Paul Grecian Photography,
• Monkeyfoot Designs,
• Soule Mama,
• Out West Carving,
• Pottery Blog,
• Quilling, Art and Expression,
• Wee Wonderfuls,
• Wicker Woman,

Blog Hosting Services
• Blogger (free),
• Typepad (fee-based),


What are podcasts?
• Free internet radio that you can listen to whenever you want.
• You can listen to it on your computer or portable music player.
• Doesn't require an iPod.

Example Podcasts
• Art Biz Blog,
• Craft Sanity,
• Craft Cast,
• Wood Talk Online,

Podcast Directories
• iTunes,
• Podcast Alley,

Podcast Hosting
• Libsyn,
• PodBean,
• PodShow,

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tina Madonia at Connexions

Connexions Gallery is featuring Tina Madonia's show "The Lehigh Valley As I See It" Sept. 27 through Nov. 11. The gallery's located at 213 Northampton St., Easton Pa. Its open Thurs-Fri, 12-5 p.m., Sat. 11-6 p.m., and Sun. and Mon. from 12-4 p.m. Alas, there's no web site, so I can't link to it, but the landscape on their promotional card looked beautiful, so take my word for it that this show is worth checking out.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Scarecrow Festival

The 16th Annual Scarecrow Festival will be held October 19th and 20th in downtown Easton.

There will be a farmer's market, scarecrow clinic, face painting for kids, pumpkin bowling, henna painting and a tattoo and body art competition (the last one seems a little out of place but hey, it takes all kinds). You can learn more by visiting the Easton Farmers Market web site.

No word on whether Batman will be there.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Easton UnDressed

I first learned of Easton UnDressed at the Cosmic Cup, where I saw a postcard for the blog.

Checking it out revealed a hodgepodge site that that incorporates blog posts, a mishmash of weather and media links, and an online chat/forum. It can be a bit difficult to follow, as it assumes a more comprehensive understanding of what's going on in Easton and the surrounding area then most people have (or at least, more than I have).

Visitors can find notes (and audio) about City Council meetings, editorials on Easton politics, interviews with political candidates and much more.

The Phillies are out

'Nuff said.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Lehigh Valley Ramblings

Blogging has been catching on in the Lehigh Valley, so much so that newspapers like the Morning Call and the Express Times have started paying attention to them (which in turn is what got me looking for new LV blogs.

Lehigh Valley Ramblings is a blog featuring a hodgepodge of political news and scuttlebut from around the Valley, including geographically-clueless mayoral candidates in Easton, proposals for free box seats at IronPig games in Allentown, challenges for minority-owned businesses (also in Allentown) and the race for state attorney general.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Josefina's of Easton

If you're looking for some excellent South American food, check out Josefina's, located at 1104 Butler Street, Easton, Pa. Some friends and I went there for a great, satisfying $5 lunch. Haven't tried it for dinner yet, and can't pronounce half of what's on the menu (ok, I can't pronounce most of what's on the menu, but hey, I failed most of your major European languages in high school, so this should be no surprise to friends and family).

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Mets are out...

Well, the Mets are out of it. Even worse than the loss, IMHO, was Tom Glavine's first-inning implosion. 

Yes, I know that may seem contradictory, but Glavine was good for so much of the season that -- what with winning 300 games and all -- that to see him crash like that was mentally painful.

The rest of the game was also difficult to watch, particularly once Casto's would-be grand-slam fizzled ... it became just a question of counting down the innings until the season was over.

Oh well, there's always 2008...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Apple Geeks Rejoice!

Apple's new store at the Lehigh Valley Mall opens this weekend; specifically 10 a.m. this Saturday. I think a weekend expedition with the kids is in order.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Eat. Drink. Stink.

The Easton Garlic Fest is coming Saturday, October 6. Check it out at Unfortunately I won't be able to go this year, but I've heard nothing but good things about it so go, eat and enjoy the tasty wonders of garlic.

It's also First Weekend, so there's plenty to do even if you don't like garlic (though really, have you tried it?). According to the "First Weekend" brochure for October, on Saturday, the Farmer's Market will be in full swing, Porter's Pub is having a kilt night at 8 p.m. (wear a kill, get a free pint) and Nanny's Treasures will be having their grand opening (they're at 19 South Second Street).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Video: "Downtown Easton - Expect Great Things"

Dan McDonald, a student at Lafayette College, created a promotional film for Easton. Check it out.

Facebooking the Cosmic Cup

Troy Reynard, proprietor of the Cosmic Cup and barista extraordinare, is in Facebook. Friend him, you legions of Easton, friend him now!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jazz at the Cosmic Cup

The Cosmic Cup had live jazz tonight (with my boss on drums, so I stopped by with the kids for coffee, hazelnut chocalate gelato, and good music. We didn't stay long -- Jordan was tired after a big day at preschool -- but the kids seemed to enjoy it, and it was a great break from the regular routine. Luke really liked it, and spent half the time bouncing up and down on my lap, smiling at my friends, and occasionally pretending to be shy.

All in all, a good outing -- I hope Troy hosts more live music and other nighttime events this semester.

Radio Active #56: Facebook, Morphing Toddlers, Heroic Cthulhu

Logo: Nuketown Radio ActiveOn this edition of Radio Active, Nuketown ventures into Facebook, the epic MacQuest gets an update (and the nifty new/old iPod nano arrives) and Halo 3 looms like a shadow over all that we do. We've got Mighty Morphing Toddlers as Luke walks and talks like never before, and Jordan delves deep into Princess Star Wars.

Netheads round out the podcast with Heroic Cthulhu, a podcast/alternative ruleset that lets characters live more than one session, and Starship Dimensions, a web site for sizing up ships from myriad TV shows and movies. and Call of Cthulhu goes heroic. Get the podcast

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lafayette Day in the Square

Saturday, September 15 is "Lafayette Day in the Square", with a free trolly service running from Lafayette College down to Center Square. Once there students will find free food, the Easton Farmers Market, free food, and a fall fashion show, and to round things out, you can watch "Dr. Strangelove" under the stars from 8 p.m.-10 p.m. at the Riverside Festival of the Arts at Riverside Park.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Riverside Festival of the Arts

Easton's Riverside Festival of the Arts will be held September 15th & 16th; Saturday it will run from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. and Sunday it'll be open 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

It will be held at the Riverside Park & Amphitheater, on Larry Holmes Drive, overlooking the Delaware River. It will include a juried art show & sale, live performances, art demonstrations, and a showing of the movie Dr. Strangelove under the stars.

Complete details are available on the Festival's web site.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nuketown Radio Active #55: After GenCon, Podcamp Philly, MacQuest, Too Many Games

Yep ... the podcast is back.

On this edition of Radio Active I've got some thoughts on GenCon 2007 and Podcamp Philly, catch folks up on what's happening at Nuketown, try and figure out what it takes for me to buy a Mac, discover the BioShock soundtrack, stop by Vegas After Midnight, delve into the D&D Insider, contemplate the Master Plan Podcast and review the pile of gaming goodness I picked up at GenCon. Get the show.

Main Street Initiative

I didn't realize it, but Easton's Main Street Initiative has a web site: It has a shopping and dining directory, a calendar of events and a fledgling newsletter (which is not yet available via e-mail)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Thoughts on Podcamp Philly 2007

For a while, it looked like the Unconference was going to live up to its name: while Podcamp Philly had a list of proposed seminars, we didn't get a concrete schedule until Wednesday. No worries though -- Podcamp's organized chaos congealed at the last moment, providing a rambling structure to a Saturday full of podcasting goodness.

The chaos lurked just behind the corners as folks tried to use the guest ids scribbled on whiteboards around the Drexel University classrooms to log into the wireless network … at least until they figured out that the IDs only worked on the lab computers. Wired connections for the wandering bands of Mac, Windows and Linux laptop owners were scrounged however, giving rise to deep-sea scuba-like drama as people swapped Ethernet cables back and forth to share net connections.

The sessions were about what you'd expect at any conference: some good, some blah, with the best ones being those that encouraged audience participation (the exception being Apple's GarageBand session, which gave a lightning fast overview of the software, but still managed to provide some helpful insights into it. Of course, the conference itself was free, which gives it an edge up over many conferences I've gone to that had so-so seminars but cost a few hundred dollars.

I was disappointed by lack of education-specific seminars -- there was one on parenting and podcasting, one on podcasting in K-12, and one about Drexel's Second Life Island that unfortunately ran out of time before we got to the island. Next year I'd like to get together with some of the other colleges and universities in the area to see if we can get a full track's worth of education podcast seminars together.

Organizationally, I'd love to have had a map of the buildings that would be hosting the sessions, more hands-on sessions (e.g. editing with Audacity or GarageBand) and a schedule that was firmed up a week in advance of the conference (the better to persuade my co-workers to attend).

It was excellent getting to meet Doug (Geek Acres) and MA (Better L* Than Never) in person and that alone made it worth going to the conference; everything else was just gravy.

The conference got great support from Philadelphia area businesses, including Comcast (free coffee form Starbucks), Microsoft (raffle for a fully-loaded Xbox 360) Otto's Mini (a car dealership which provided t-shirts) KYW News Radio (lots of free air time for commercials), Blogger & Podcaster (free subscriptions giveaways) and many, many more.
The event had plenty of things to do socially, with gatherings Friday and Saturday night. I didn't attend them -- I'm going to enough conferences this year that I thought it prudent to only go Saturday, and head home early to spend time with the family (and rescue Sue from the kids). But I could definitely see spending a full day there next year.

On a related note, I learned about Podcamp Second Life at this conference, and I'm definitely planning on attending when it's held in 2008. I think this could either be a fantastic venue for a podcamp (allowing a lot of people to attend from all over the world) or a disaster (as Second Life crashes under the strain). Either way, it'll be interesting but I do wonder how we'll get our t-shirts...

Overall, I had a lot of fun at the conference, learned enough to make the seminars worthwhile, and left with a thousand idea that I want to implement right now!

* * * Update * * *

Reading over my post again, I realized it may seem more negative than I meant to write. Chalk that up to a morning of vacuuming and a 4 a.m. wake up call from my daughter (and by wake up call, I mean, a scream about needing to go potty).

In any case, while there were some logistical challenges, I think the (un)conference was well worth attending and I went home eager to start trying out new things and reinvigorated about my own podcast (and with my mind spinning about another one I've been thinking of launching for about six months now).

The other thing it got me speculating about was the possibility of having some sort of meet up for Lehigh Valley podcasters and bloggers. I'm not thinking of anything like Podcamp Philly, but I was highly envious of the community they've got going down there. It seems to me that with all the colleges and businesses in the valley, we should be enough people and interest to get *something* going.

And on the topic of constructive suggestions for new seminars:

* Public Relations for Your Podcast: Tips on coming up with media kits, business cards and other supplemental material to promote your podcast.
* Video Podcasting Workshop: Have people bring their own video cameras, shoot video, and then workshop editing it into a vodcast

On the education front I'd love to learn how colleges and universities are using podcasting, from videotaping lab procedures to audio recordings of lectures to convincing faculty that all this stuff really can help (or talking about cases where it *didn't* help, 'cause I'm sure that has happened to.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Podcamp Philly 2007: Help, I hate the sound of my own voice!

Presented by Rick Glasby, Crashbang Digital, who discusses what mic to use, where to record, and how to tweak your recordings into shap

Which mic to use: you want to use some sort of condensor mic:

  • Samson CO1U - cardioid sensor

  • Audio Technica AT2020 - phantom power, cardiod sensor

  • Blue Snowball Mic (cardiod or omni directional, about $100, USB connection).

  • Alesis USB podcasting mic (usb, stand, headphones)

  • Tascam US-122LTNT (requires mixer, but uses a USB mixer)

USB Mics

  • Easily portable

  • Latency


  • Not easily portable

  • But easy to support multiple mics.

Follow the Path

  • Watch how the sound transits from microphone to computer to software. Follow the signal path to make sure you're not clipping at any point. You don't want the sound to clip (spiking waveforms that get horribly distorted and "clipped" in the final file.

Where do your record?

  • Want a place that absorbs a lot of sound -- carpeted room or walk-in closet. Not in a room with a lot of echo.

Addressing the mic

  • Proximity effect (closer is often better)

  • Wear headphones!

  • Watch your "P's" -- talk to the side of the mic or get a pop filter.

How to talk

  • try standing at your microphone.

  • for advice on speaking.

Podcamp Philly 2007: Your Podcast Statistics

Presented by Rob Safuto, RawVoice and the New York Minute Show.

Start off with round-table introductions and thoughts about statistics. Ideas include:

  • Libysyn

  • Know Your Audience - engagement

  • FeedBurner - RSS feed, media

  • Know Your Web site - Google analytics,

What's your goal:

I just want to know: what are my stats?

  • # of downloads

  • geographics

  • referrers

  • what clients are downloading stats

  • how can I tell how many are listening/viewing (and should I?) People are very sensitive to the big brother effect (e.g. the Sony Rootkit Incident of '06)

But what can I do with those stats?

  • use referrers to network with other podcasts who are linking to you.

  • use client list to determine which software to test your feeds in.

How do I know what they do?

  • Build the community; get feedback directly from comments and forms.

General advice

  • Don't assume that people will visit your site if the feed goes dead or fallow.

Sites that will track your podcast stats (and usually do someting with advertising):

Web site statistics

How do you share these stats?

  • Media kits (skepticality)

With regards to advertisers, they're going to want to know how many people they got referred, how many people got converted to buying the product/becoming a subscriber. Use specific codes/landing pages to track how well a campaign is working.

Run contests, ask people for feedback, social networks -- anything that builds community.

Podcamp Philly: Audio Editing Techniques

Presented by Mark Blevis, Electric Sky and Canadian Podcast Buffet.

The workshop's popular enough to push us into an overflow room. That means we can't interact with the presenter, but we do have wired connections and power! Mark is using Cubase on the Mac. Starts off talking about the ancient old days of tape editing, then transitions to digital editing.

First up, the clean cut, doing simple editing of clips with little background noise.

Second, editing clips from a coffee ship with heavy background news and some uhms. Talking about using crossfade to edit clips with busy ambiant backgrounds. Audacity can't do crossfades built in, so you have to separate into two tracks, fade one out and fade the other in.

It's possible to remove too many ummms and ahhs and breaths, making them sound robotic. People occasionally pause to think and your audio should for reflect that. Strongest, loudest aprt of your speech is always when you start a sentance. He's talking about actually editing breath sounds in to give things a more organic flow by putting them infront of peaks. That's just crazy talk!

In editing interviews, edit to the focus of the interview and leave in the ahs and ums, or at best, remove every other one. In recording interviews, if the interview is going to be 10 minutes, record 12 or 13 so you have an extra question or two you can swap in for a less-interesting or botched one.

Listening to this, it occurs to me that there are a lot of filters that I could be experimenting with for the podcast. Maybe I need to start a "Testing Range" podcast just to try out new techniques...

Wondering what's legal when you're doing podcasting & interviews? Check out the Podcasting Legal Guide.

Podcamp Philly: Second Life

I'll be cross-posting here and at Nuketown about Podcamp Philly; posting here allows me to easily tag stuff as belonging to PodCampPhilly2007.

On the geek side of SL, there are audio book examples for J.C. Hutchin's "Proto-Womb" for Seventh Son and a game field for Scott Sigler's The Rookie. In education, there's Drexel Island.

This conference, like GenCon, re-affirms that I need to get my act together with business cards, t-shirts and such. Bad form to show up without these in hand, and I've got a bunch more conferences and workshops coming up this year (both at work, and at home).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ride into the Sunrise with

Longing for more Firefly? Wishing that the Verse would bless us with a Serenity sequel? Then check out, a webzine dedicated to the intersection of the Final Frontier with the Wild West. You can find original short fiction, space western-themed news, interviews, and much more.

The site's in the middle of a publicity drive, so if you like what you see, tell someone about it!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

So they can win when I'm watching

In a nice change from the rest of June, the Mets actually won a few games this weekend, sweeping the A's in three games. Lo Duca ended up to look like a crazy-eyed fool in Game 2 of the series, but as cringe-worthy as that was, the rest of the series was fun to watch, particularly the parts where the Mets actually won.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Radio Active #51: Shadowrun, Walking & Baby Talking, Mac Envy, Star Wars RPG

Baby Luke's trying hard to become Toddler Luke as he learns to walk and starts baby talking. In more geeky news, I've got a review of the Shadowrun first-person shooter for Xbox 360/Vista, an announcement about my Libris Mortis review on The Tome podcast and geek out over Apple's new edition of Mac OS X.

I also take a look at Google's new themes for its personalized iGoogle home page service, and do an in-depth review of the Star Wars: Saga Edition RPG from Wizards of the Coast. Get the podcast.

The Mets win ... when I'm not watching

I'm noticing a trend this season: if I watch the Mets, they almost always lose. If I don't, then they win. Oh ye Gods of Baseball, what have I done to offend thee?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Forza 2 Achievements

After spending a few hours driving around in circles in Forza 2, I started wondering what achievements are available. And lo, had the answer. Most of this looks doable; I think I could hit 750/1000 with this game.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Radio Active #50: Summer Reading, Nosebleed Seats, Wicked Good Podcasting

Logo: Nuketown Radio Active Radio Active reaches a milestone with Episode #50, but it ends up being a fairly quiet birthday with news of a Nuketown road trip, a GenCon update, adventures in parenting with nosebleeds, and a summer reading list. I also run down my favorite Radio Actives from the first 50 episodes, talk about the Wicked Good Podcast, and throw out a buch of new podcasts that I've queued up, but won't have a chance listen to until I retart my third-floor painting project. Get the episode.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Books Like Dust

My friend Damon's launched a new blog Books Like Dust to discuss his book collection and what he's reading now. He's a first-time blogger, so stop on over and offer him some encouragement.

Major League Baseball Widget

Keep up with your favorite team with the Major League Baseball widget for Mac OS X's Dashboard. It lists upcoming games as well as X number of played games (where X is determined by you).

Monday, May 28, 2007

That Summer Reading List...

Over at Nuketown, I'm putting together my Summer 2007 Reading List. There's not much (ok, any) response to the post yet, but perhaps it's not "summer" enough yet for folks to be thinking about what they're going to be reading.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Khelez-Mar: The Earthshaker

The Cast of Characters
  • Vogg of Clan Toron
  • Sir Ottamar, Knight of the Sword
  • Moriam, Cleric of Ulaa
  • Manasi, clouder of men's minds
  • Heydrich
  • Kull of the Mountain

The Earth Quake

After destroying the wyvren rookery, the dwarves and their allies retire back to Khelez-Mar, where they divy up their treasure and then retire for the night. They are woken by a skull-shattering earthquake and are shaken out of their beds as the disturbance suddenly ends. They find scattered damage throughout the fortress, and Kull, Rencor, Moriam and Manasi decide to consult the Clergy to see what the Mountain might be telling them. They move to the lower level, and find that the path down is has been badly broken. Manasi teleports the four to the level below, to the fungi forest where they find a number of badly wounded dwarves hurt by falling debris. Rencor quickly moves to heal them, while Moriam studies the cavern for instability. Rencor utters "the blessings of heironeous upon you", drawing concern from the dwarves. Kull follows, saying "fear not, his is a strange religion, but he is a strong warrior and has slain many orcs! He has a good heart!"

Continue on word to Farak-Dur, the fortress protecting the Forge level. Find the area is still being restored, and is filled with equipment and supplies. The area itself is not badly damaged, indicating that it was some how reinforced or protected. Guards wave them through Farak-Dur, to the Forge. Learn that the earthquake disrupted the Forge, and the dwarves are struggling to recover.

Once there, Moriam is met by Steel-giver, a well-respected armorsmith, who asks if the earthquake is a sign from Ulaa. Moriam replies that he thinks that the clerics of Dumathoin (sp) might have answers. See statues of Dumathoin (sp), Vergadin (sp) and Moradin. Go to speak with Arval (Blood-Messenger), cleric of Dumathoin, find him comforting the masses, "you are dwarves! you are better than this! calm down!"

Moriam stands up before the crowds and says "Ulaa does not speak this way -- you must return to your work, to forge the weapons to fight the orcish scourge!"

Confronted by Dolor (Riddle-master of the Sword) who demands to know what the gods would have them do. "We will investigate this mystery. We are dwarves, a long lived race. Patience is our virtue ... back to work!"

Seeking the Follower of Secrets

The party speaks with Arval, who does not know why Dumathoin would send such an earthsquake, since he usually does such only to reveal secrets beneath the earth. Kull, who has spend years wandering the mountains of the Drachensgrabs, asks if it might be some other diety ... perhaps the strange elder earth spirit known as the Earth Dragon, a diety who's power has been seen to be growing through cults in Blue and Obsidian Bay.

Into the Mines

Moriam considers seeking out Clan Jarzak (miners of the blood), the master miners of the fortress, to see what they might have learned. Moriam dispatches Kull to warn mining clans not to disturb and clutches of gems that might be revealed by the collapse. Back at the cave fungi room, Kull finds that the way back up is exceedingly difficult. Reluctantly, he turns around, and then remembers that there is a tavern on the Forge level named "Baz Dol'est" (Sword of Fire Cavern). Find many abandoned meals there, and hear someone yelling about cleaning up and stowing gear.

Meet barkeep, Delgan, who gives them directions into the mines, to the "elevator room". Take the elevator down, going 40 ft. down. Moving deeper, they find an area where a fight has broken out. Come closer, find crowd gathered around a shattered rock, including black vein of corruption. Manasi and Kull look closer as the black vein. Touching the black with his axe reveals it is some sort of metal, and a miner informs them that it had been silver when it was first revealed, then turns dark and corrupt.

A final bit of advice from Manasi is "If it looks different, poke it like we did."

The Knight Above

Concerned by the possibility of attack, Sir Ottomar seeks the Knights of the Shield stationed in the fortress, working with them to prepare for a possible strike. The 15 Knights are in their chambers, donning their armor, saying prayers to St. Cuthbert in preparation of war. The Knights were stationed within the fortress as part of the dwarves' defense pact with Obsidian Bay. Sir Ottomar approaches them as they pray, and joins them. He speaks with Sir Cryllic, the leader of the Knights in this place, asking where they should assemble for defense.

Arval's Vision

Arval tells Moriam that he is ready for the communion, but that they should find the dwarven leader Thror Du Bok and Galanak, high priest of Moradin. Seeking these leaders, they head deeper into the Forge level, find a craftsman repairing statue of Domathoin. He's able to find them, and brings them together with Arval in the temple. Galanak and Arval consecrates the area, and then Arval casts his invocation at the statue of his god. The god's head turns, his eyes glow golden, and he speaks. Arval asks if Domathain if he sent the message; god replies he didn't. The dwarf asks if it was sent by an enemy and if it was an unnatural event. The god says "it was an attack, and it was target it at the dwarves, though the agent was unknown and hidden." Arval is shocked that the keeper of secrets under the mountain did not know who did this.

Kull and Manasi arrive, reporting on the corrupted vein. The leaders say it is a horrible portent, saying they don't know what it might be. The miners find no sign of any other corrupted silver mine. Moriam wonders if the evil dwarven god Albathor might be responsible for this foul act.

Kull wonders if the passages to the UnderDark should be checked on. The Elders agree, and ask Moriam to take his friends down to investigate while they consider the possibility that Albathor might have been behind the attack. Back up on the first level, Manasi and Kull gather together their friends and explain what had happened.

Into the Dark

Sir Ottamar seeks out the general store, speaking with its proprieter, who tries to sell him everything at significantly increased costs.
After gathering together, the party then heads into the dark. Head to the great hall that leads to the great hall, where the dragon once lived and was slain by D'lar, Moriam, and the Blackrazors. Talk with the dwarven and human guards stationed here, who say that the area is very quiet, aside from the earthquake.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hanging out at the Dire Cafe

I have this blog for cross promotional purposes, so I might as well do some cross promotion. The Dire Cafe is the social network for escapist geeks. So sayeth the Bear: "If you're a casual fan of movies, scifi, fantasy, horror, comics, or tabletop rpgs you're in the right place." Go there. Hang out. Have fun.

Radio Active #49: Monster Week, Catan, Dire Cafe, Geek Dad Blog

Cover Art: SimCity DS Thoughts about Nuketown's upcoming Monster Week extravaganza leads off Episode #49 of Nuketown Radio Active as I discuss about the movies I want to review and ask listeners for suggestions.

With the monsters out of the way, I talk about my progress on the geek fitness front and my experiences registering for GenCon 2007. In Netheads, I take a look at the upcoming SimCity game for Nintendo DS, suggest folks check out the Dire Cafe social networking site, ramble on about Pirate solitare, and discover a Geek Dad Blog at Finally, this week's review is the board game Catan for Xbox 360, a computerized version of the classic German board game Settlers of Catan. Get the podcast at

Friday, May 11, 2007

Radio Active #48: Sickness Returns, Crafty Podcasts, D&D Manager, Jupiter

Book Cover: Jupiter A particularly nasty round of family colds sidelines Radio Active for a month, but the show's finally back with an update on Baby Nuke's new love of Cheerios, news of Nuketown's new Top of the Pile comic book review column, a rundown of my wife Sue's favorite crafty podcasts, and news of a new D&D utility for the Mac. Rounding out the podcast is a review of Ben Bova's science fiction novel Jupiter, in which a science team searches for life in the deep, high-pressure water ocean beneath the king of planet's cloud deck. Get the episode at Nuketown.

Monday, April 09, 2007


What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Literature Nerd

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it's eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It's okay. I understand.

Gamer/Computer Nerd
Social Nerd
Science/Math Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Anime Nerd
Drama Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

No big surprises here. There weren't much in the way of coding/computer questions, else my possession of a vintage Timex Sinclair and my code monkey day job might have pushed me into the computer nerd category.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Radio Active #47: Space Westerns, Twitter, Boxed Octopus, Fnordcast, Double 0

News of the new science fiction webzine opening for submissions leads of Radio Active #47 as I'm not only a fan of the zine, but one of the volunteers helping to read through its slush pile. The mail bag has responses on my debate over getting a notebook vs. a desktop computer, and as that debate draws to a close I spend some time geeking out over my latest web toy, Twitter.

In Netheads, I take a look at the Steve Jackson Games official Fnordcast and Roll 2d6 in a Random Direction podcasts and discuss the new Double 0 RPG beta. This week's musical interlude is provided by the band Boxed Octopus and their geek song "Science Boy". Get the episode.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Radio Active #46: Notebooks vs. Desktops, Out of Darkness, Horror Betrayals

Cover: Midnight Syndicate: Out of Darkness Things take a horror-tinged turn in this week's podcast with reviews of Midnight Syndicate's retrospective horror music album Out of Darkness and the horror-movie inspired board game Betrayal at House on the Hill by Avalon Hill.

Elsewhere in the podcast as for feedback from geek parents about the merits of getting a notebook computer vs. a desktop computer and start looking for some craft/mommy podcasts for my wife to listen to on her spiffy new 30 GB white iPod. Finally, Net News has the welcome return of the Harping Monkey's Round Table podcast, which ends its hiatus just in time for me to start doing home improvements again. Get the episode.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Radio Active #45: Crawling Babies, Podcasts Galore, A Deepness in the Sky

Cover: A Deepness in the Sky Baby Luke learns to crawl and joins me as a guest host of the latest edition of Radio Active. In addition to news about our littlest geek, I've got news about a new "Game Day" column that's running on Nuketown and a review of Gears of War, as well as audio feedback from Doug of the Geek Acres podcast.

In Net News, I catch up everyone on podcasts that I'm listening to nowadays including old favorites like Random Signal and Roll 2d6 as well as new ones like the audio novelization of Cory Doctorow's Eastern Standard Tribe, the musical stylings at Mainstage at the Monkey and the covert happenings at the Stealth Geek podcast. Finally, I have a review of Vernor Vinge's science fiction novel A Deepness in the Sky. Get the podcast.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Ravenloft: To the Cursed Temple

  • Real World Date: 3/2/07
  • Greyhawk Date: ??

Cast of Characters

  • Pierce Haligarth, acquirer of unique treasures
  • Naru, monk
  • Lysander, a bard with a knack for throwing anything
  • Obergon, competent fighter
  • Donegal, cleric of Daern
  • Rapostâz the Misbegotten, city-hating druid

Quote of the Game

"Ok, we failed our intelligence checks. Can we leave now?" -- Donegal / Bob

"Here is the church, here is its steeple, look inside and ... who ate all the freaking people!?!"

The Saga

The party catches up, with Pierce revealing to Dongegal the revelations of the Burgomeister's son. During the night dire wolves circle the encampment, but do not attack.

Morning Doom

The next morning the party awakens half-surprised to be alive. They head over to Bill Drath's Merchantile, which is presently locked. Darth is anything but cooperative, but Pierce tries to talk his way in, jingling a purse of coins. He's turned away.

Donegal goes seeking Ashlynn, to confer and prepare to leave. Before doing so, Donegal casts consecrate on the barricade, and then on his shield as well. Pierce and Lysander grab makeshift clubs, then join the party as they head out.

Undead Attack!

Halfway to the church they encounter some zombies tearing at a dead and bloated horse in the middle of the street. The zombies look up, scream brains, and prepare to attack. As they do so, three creatures break from a building and start tearing apart a zombie. Donegal quickly identifies as the creatures as ghouls, and seeing that the battle is about to be joined, Lysander beings singing and inspirational song.

The creatures, seeing fresh meat, charge the party, slashing at Neru and Obergon. A terrible stench overwhelms both of them, sickening them. The touch of one of the monsters also paralyzes Neru. The zombies slowly advance, one of them tearing terribly at Neru, staggering him momentarily. Seeing his companion suddenly stricken, Donegal steps up and channels the will of Daern to release his paralysis.

And then the rats, huge, bloated and gross, suddenly appear.

Pierce, seeing the horrors that nearly killed him, lines up a crossbow shot but in his nervousness misses the ghoul he'd aimed at. Lysander causes a cacaphony of sound to explode among the ranks of zombies, ghouls and rats, damaging the ghouls and stunning one of the rats. Rapostâz steps up, is sickened but fights past his disgust of the unlife to slaughter a ghoul. Then the worshipper of Daerned calls upon his god to drive off the creatures, and succeeds in turning one of the ghouls. Rapostâz slashes at a zombie with his scimitar, but fails to kill it.

A zombie bites at Neru, hurting him and overwhelming his natural defenses ... to unknown effect.

The fight continues, with the adventurers trying desperately to kill the monsters before them to little effect until Rapostâz finally cuts down a zombie, and his compatriots are able to kill the remaining zombie.

The combat over, the adventurers realize that Naru and Ashlynn are looking noticeably worse. Donegal steps up and casts remove disease on the paladin, healing her of growing sickness. He can not heal the monk, who continues to look as though he is coming down the flu or some more terrible disease.

The Fallen Church of Pelor

Find the Church of Pelor fallen and in terrible repair. The impetous fighter Obergon steps up and throws open the doors to the church before Pierce can even raise a protest. Instead they see a darkened room, with strange, nonsense chanting from the direction of the altar. As Neru enters the room, the speaker finishes his chant and a circle of black death erupts amidst the party, killing the monk instantly as his heart explodes and causing the rest of the party to clutch at their chests in momentary pain.

The party responds by moving into the church, getting ready to attack, with Donegal and Rapostâz taking the lead and Lysander and Pierce in the rear. Zombies suddenly emerge, tearing apart Naru's body while another shriveled corpse stepped from the shadows and started casting, causing a burst of sound to explode over Lysander and Pierce. Both ignore its effects and Pierce deftly runs forward, skirting around a gaping hole in the middle of the floor to move around the back of the chanting, barking mad cultist. He sets himself up to land a well aimed strike on the cultist, but discovers his would-be partner, Obergan, has been magically held by the self-same cultist.

Donegal attempts to burn the cult cleric with searing light but scorches the wall instead. Near the rear of the church, Rapostâz calls down the lightning of Obad-hai to blast the cultist, then slashes at one of the zombies with his scimitar.

The taunt-skinned undead creature moves into the hall between Rapostâz and Lysander, then unleashes magic missiles on the bard. The priest suddenly runs from the altar, drawing attacks from his enemies but not carrying, and then jumps down the hole in the center of the room. Pierce follows him to the edge, draws a sunrod and throws it into the hole. It illuminates a 20' drop.

Obergan, ever chaotic, shakes off the effects of the spell that holds him, and jumps down the hole after the crazed cleric. Donegal once again calls on the will of Daern, turning two of the zombies and the strange "deathlock" creature that had cast spells at Lysander. The bard ignores the remaining zombie and jumps into the hole, casting feather fall to slow himself. The paladin also joins him, jumping to the bottom and ignoring the bracing pain that shoots through her body as she lands.

They find a nasty, dusty basement surrounding them. In one corner they see crazy alchemical-looking equipment, while two zombies loom in one corner, while something awful groans to the south and shambles forward.

The crazed cleric then screams "you can't take your son from me!" and tries to cast a spell at Obergan. Pierce, who'd rather take his chances against the living than the dead, deftly drops to the basement beside the mad cleric. Lysander lashes out at the cleric, finally killing him.

And then they hear something horrible coming from the south again, and see a horrific creature with oversized limbs and a gaping maw ready to devour anyone who comes closer. The paladin Ashlynn is visibly shaken, utters "... by Pelor ... " and then attempts to turn the monster. The light of Pelor falters however, and the creature and its fellow horrors are unaffected. Above, Rapostâz and Donegal continues to fight the zombies as one of the deathlock flees.

Obergan steps up to face the unspeakable horror, confronting it and attacking with his sword, slashing it badly. Lyander casts a spell which has no immediate effect. Then the paladin tries to strike the creature and fails. Meanwhile the monster assaults Obergan, savaging him with an overwhelmingly strong bite. Pierce carefully puts away his rapier, draws his dagger, curses the undead, utters a half-hearted prayer to Daern ... and then steps up to attack a zombie, slashing off a hunk of flesh as he does so.

Upstairs, Rapostâz and Donegal continue to struggle with a remaining zombie. Hearing the cries of the party for help, the druid transforms into a vulture and flies down into the basement. Downstairs, the bard tries to hit the creature a touch of his hand, which he had successfully charged with positive energy but misses. He then backs off, ready to attack again next round. Donegal tries to fend of the zombie, but fails and is sickened by the creature's shambling blows.

Below, the paladin Ashlynn falls to the surprisingly fast and deft skeleton as the creature slashes at her, cutting the life from her. Obergan continues slashing at large-mawed creature, but finds that the creature is terribly tough. The vulture-formed druid flies across the basement, landing opposite Obergan and with the monster in front of him. The bard, sensing his friend is in trouble, decides to heal Obergan than strike the horror.

Pierce, desperate to control his fear, continues to slash at the zombie before him, cutting off ever greater slabs of undead meat.

"Get away from us you foul monstrocities!" Donegal proclaims after falling through the hole, staggering to his feet over the paladin. He successfully turns the two zombies and the skilled skeleton, who flee.

Pierce looks on in disbelief. "Thanks for that ... but I was doing all right with the zombie. That other thing..." Donegal replies "You should stay away from it -- perhaps help the paladin?" He tries to, but fails. Fortunately, the cleric is able to cast a minor healing spell closes the least of the paladin's wounds ... and saves her life.

Lysander steps up again, hoping to blast the creature with divine energy, but fails. Pierce sees the monster, realizes it would easily kill him, and then turns to look over the cleric's body. He finds a well-worked morning star, full plate and a shield but nothing immediately useful to the creature behind him.

Donegal measures up the creature, and decides to step up and channel divine energy into it. He sidesteps it, casts a spell, and hurts it badly as positive energy floods through it. Lysander does the same, then tumbles away. The creature strikes back, dazing Donegal and wounding him.

Pierce turns his attention to the fallen paladin, hoping to find some item in her possessions that might get her back in the fight. He finds nothing that fits that bill, but does discover a few gold-tipped crossbow bolts. He digs those out and prepares to fire one at the creature. He shoots, misses and when it slams into the far wall it explodes in a burst of alchemical light and heat.

"Excellent," he whispers.

Rapostâz finally kills the creature with a blow from his scimitar. Relieved, Donegal turned to the paladin and healed some of her wounds, awakening her while the others dispatch the remaining zombies and undead. Pierce looks through the alchemical set in the corner hoping to find something useful. While he realizes it's an exceedingly expensive set of equipment, there is nothing immediately useful here. He realizes that the it was probably used to build the horrible creature they just vanquished. The others find the bodies and equipment of Ashlynn's fallen companions, and give the items to her.

They gather up the well-wrought full plate armor, morning star and shield. They find two scrolls, one of which is revealed to be cure moderate wounds while the other was ancient, blank and clearly recently used. Rapostâz casts detect magic, determining that the full plate armor and shield are magical.

Among Ashlynn's companion's equipment they find half-plate, magic chainmail, magic great sword, two cure light wounds spells and lesser restoration.

The adventurers then withdraw to the upstairs via stairs that they finally found. Examining the altar, they find the a journal which references the Tome of Straud, an item that may be found in Castle Ravenloft. They also find that the Burgermeser found his daughter as a young girl and raised her as his own.

Looking around the altar, they discover a book called the Liber Blaspheme, which included instructions for building a "blaspheme" undead from the corpse of a recently dead close relative. Also find a gold chalice worth 700 gp and two silver bells worth 50 gp.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Nuketown Radio Active #44: Digg, Life Hacks, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion

Cover: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Nuketown Radio Active gets Dugg (or at least an entry on Digg) while I struggle to organize comics that haven't been filed in a decade. If you're similarly organizationally challenged, then figure out how to hack your life with the 50 best Life Hacks from 2006 and an exceedingly geek calendar for 2007.

Rounding things out is a review of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the expansive role-playing game for Windows and Xbox 360 in which you play a hero who saves an empire from demonic invasion ... or not. Get the podcast.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Radio Active #43: New Year Goals, Accidental Survivors, Free Comics and RPGs

Logo: Nuketown Radio Active Radio Active's long dark tea time of the soul ends with Episode 43, in which I discuss a crazy January that saw my Xbox fall under the spell of the red rings of death while I destroyed my "integrated home theatre system" with a static electricity-empowered touch. Looking ahead to 2007, I talk about some of my personal goals, including reaching a weight of 190 lbs., coverting my campaign web site to a wiki, and writing a novel. In Net News I have a review of the Accidental Survivors podcast, share the 360 Voice that enables your Xbox to blog, and explain how to get free stuff with this year's Free RPG Day and Free Comic Book Day.

Save the show. Save the world.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Quote: Energy and Persistence

"Energy and persistence conquer all things." -- Ben Franklin

Man, some days I really miss Franklin. The world (and America in particular) could use his sort of common sense approach to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Handy Mac Mail Shortcuts

Looking to get things done a little more quickly in Mac OS X Mail? Then check out this list of Mail Keyboard Shortcuts. A few of my soon-to-be-favorites:
  • Mark as flagged/unflagged: Command-Shift-L
  • Mark as read/unread: Command-Shift-U
  • Send message: Command-Shift-D
  • Mark as junk mail: Command-Shift-J

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bogus Columbia Explosion Photos

It looks like the e-mail claiming to have photos of the space shuttle Columbia's last seconds is circulating again. The hoax says that an Israeli spy satellite snapped the shots of the shuttle exploding; in reality they're just stills taken from the movie Armageddon. I've got the full debunking up on Nuketown if you're curious.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Radio Active #42: Geek Birthdays, Villian Talk, Fire Upon the Deep

Discussion turns to books and coffee as I reminisce about my 35th birthday, a geeky Christmas, and the surprising fusion of my Xbox 360 with a spiffy new iPod. In Net News I look at Villain Talk, the podcast for evil geniuses, take a bite out of a gingerbread TIE fighter and find out what geeky women at the She's Such a Geek blog. Finally, I review one of my latest reading conquests, Vernor Vinge's space opera A Fire Upon the Deep. Get the show, get the show notes