A peek at the “Star Trek” Xbox SmartGlass home page. Image: © Paramount Pictures.
Can’t seem to get enough of Star Trek? If you were one of the many lined up at the theater this weekend for Star Trek Into Darkness, you may want to revisit J.J. Abrams’ last installment. And if you’ve got the Xbox 360 and a SmartGlass-enabled tablet or phone, the viewing session may take a little while.
Paramount just unleashed a bunch of behind-the-scenes content and other extras, as an exclusive for users with Xbox SmartGlass. Basically, you just need the Xbox 360 and a SmartGlass-enabled smartphone or tablet. The new perk turns that portable into a second screen, allowing viewers to boldly go where other viewers haven’t gone before.
Users can get the aforementioned behind-the-scenes goodies, as well as deleted scenes, concept art of the U.S.S. Enterprise and more, all time-synched with the film. There’s also a sneak peek at Star Trek Into Darkness, just in case you’re waiting for theater crowds to die down.
The Star Trek SmartGlass experience is available now, as an exclusive to the Xbox 360.
It took me a long time to accept it, but the fact is that as a household, we just don’t have the time available to us that we would if I were a stay-at-home-mom. My husband and I both have full time jobs, and we have two children under four. This presents some challenges, and of course being the GeekMom that I am, these challenges are something that I attack with order, lists, and technology.
One of the life- and time-savers in my repertoire is my slow cooker. It may seem like an obvious option for the working mom, but I have found that most recipes out there do not rise to the challenge. The four hour recipe is most common, but as I leave the house at 7 a.m. and return close to 5 p.m., it is the ten hour recipe I need. I can switch the cooker on as I leave in the morning, turn it off as I walk in, and waste no time cooking that should be spent with my sons. I have no desire to get a timed slow cooker and let the raw food sit at room temperature for six hours before it starts to cook. Likewise I have no desire to spend thirty minutes at night or in the morning, pre-cooking food for the slow cooker, or to come home and spend twenty minutes adding ingredients for a burst of “high” cooking. Read more →
Much Ado About Nothing © Lionsgate
When Joss Whedon needed a break after the hectic filming of The Avengers, he didn’t go on vacation. Instead, he invited his close friends to his home for two weeks to make a film: William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. At last night’s kick off for the Seattle International Film Festival, a theater packed with 3000 eager Whedon fans cheered and laughed at the Bard’s comedy just like we were all groundlings gathered at the Globe.
Much Ado About Nothing is a tale of love, focused on two romantic pairings mixed in with a fair bit of drama. After returning from war to rest at the home of Don Leonato (played by Clark Gregg), Claudio woos the sweet Hero, which serves as the main plot of the story. But it’s the pairing of the reluctant Benedick and Beatrice, played by Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker respectively, that provide the more memorable and entertaining moments of the film. (If you’re a longtime fan of Angel and you want to see Wesley and Fred get the happy time together they deserved, buy your tickets now.)
The fast-paced “skirmish of wit” between Beatrice and Benedick translates well to this updated version, with a bit of slapstick thrown in to give the movie some real laugh out loud moments. Granted, the theater was filled to the brim with swooning fans, but there was something magical about a Shakespeare comedy giving the older gentleman next to me a fit of the giggles. Read more →
The Möhne Dam after the Raid © Crown Copyright
This week is the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid, one of the most celebrated military operations of World War II but not very well known outside the UK. All week here in the UK there have been special documentaries about the attack, as well as news features, and showings of the 1955 movie. This afternoon my home city is celebrating with a special service at the cathedral and a flyover by a Lancaster bomber, the plane that performed so spectacularly in 1943.
The story of the Dambusters is familiar to almost every Brit but always worth retelling. During WWII, the German Ruhr Valley and its dams was identified as a strategic target. This was a heavily industrialised area and the dams supplied hydro-electric power, pure water for steel-making, and water to feed the canals–not to mention drinking water for the thousands of workers. It was calculated that repeatedly bombing the dams would breach them.
However, the degree of accuracy required was too much to maintain under enemy fire. A smaller explosive would work if it could be detonated below the surface of the water right beside the dam wall, but the dams were protected by heavy torpedo nets to prevent such an attack. Barnes Wallis (who was later knighted) had developed a bomb that when dropped from just the right height and at just the right speed, would skip across water for a significant distance in just the same way that children skip stones across a lake. The residual spin when the bomb finally reached the dam would cause it to run down the side of the bomb to its base under the water.
Trials were run on plaster models and a disused dam in Wales and were successful enough for 30 Lancaster Bombers to be assigned to the mission with just eight weeks to train.
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Are you struggling in math? Have you ever considered what extremes you might go through to get those taxes done accurately? Or to balance your checkbook? Perhaps you need to finish up that statistical comparison of two backyard weather stations for your next GeekMom review.
Have you considered electrical stimulation to improve those skills? Roi Cohen Kadosh’s team at Oxford University has proven that it’s possible. Read more →
This is Keele Hall. In the attic of Keele Hall, once the servants quarters, you will find the Department of English where I studied for my Bachelors Degree. In front of this building I did much of my college reading, and re-discovered some literary gems. Image: www.keele.ac.uk
I’m always intrigued to hear what people are reading, what they have read, what they are looking forward to reading. Reading, books, literature, magazines, pages, paper, these are all things that I will happily sit and talk about for hours. So I was inspired by a blog post over at Powell Books last week, into looking at the books that have changed my life. These are not books that changed my life through “because it’s great”, but books that you can use to pinpoint a change in your life, a change in your way of thinking, your growth be it emotional or otherwise. Books for which you can say “I realized that there would always be good in humanity after reading this” rather than “It was wonderful.” So here in no particular order, are some of the books that have affected my life and my capacity as a reader.
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke. I read this book when I was fifteen, mainly because the boy I was besotted with had a thing for Clarke and Asimov. I was already a Trekkie by choice, and so literary science fiction didn’t seem like a big leap. It was not a waste of time, I did not dislike the book, in fact I enjoyed it rather a great deal. However, I realized at that point that I didn’t have to merge my identity with someone else’s in order to be liked by them. I am glad I read 2001, but I didn’t read anything else by Clarke until years later, and then it was by choice and not in order to curry favor. I will always see this book as a turning point in my emotional development, and the first step I took in relinquishing what was becoming an unhealthy teenage obsession.
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This week, the GeekMoms were watching record-breaking videos, gaming videos and more. To save you from losing time searching for the geeky videos from this week, these videos and several others (along with the playlist from last week) can be found on the GeekMom YouTube channel. Here are a couple of the featured videos from the playlist.
Kay pointed out this video which holds the Guinness World Records™ record for smallest movie. The pixels are individual atoms. The video annotation includes a link to an explanation of how it was made.
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Dr. Who T-shirt from www.gettingshirty.com/
Whether you are gearing up to watch a finale, a Christmas special or just run a ten hour David Tennant marathon, there are certain culinary delights from across the pond that you should consider adding to any potential menu.
- Fish fingers and Custard. I am not endorsing the idea of dipping fish sticks, or fish fingers as the Brits call them, into custard, but as separate parts of an epic Dr. Who feast they would be delightful. I would whole heartedly endorse Jamie Oliver’s Fish Finger buttie for the main course, but when it comes to custard you can’t beat Bird’s. Birds Custard Powder is a staple in any good British household, I like it hot and steaming, but according to my dad and the eleventh Dr, it’s just as good cold.
Scotch Eggs. Image: Sarah Pinault
Scotch Eggs. These pack a powerful protein punch that will help your stomach deal with the disorienting affects of the Tardis. A whole hard boiled egg, wrapped in pork sausage, dipped in breadcrumbs and then fried. Don’t tell my mom, but I have been baking these for years.
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Arrow season 1, promotional art via the CW
In this week’s adventures climbing the cliffs of insanity, I’m exploring why I loved Arrow, Season 1, the serious problems with this season’s The Big Bang Theory, and I have a quick note about the new video game for the 3DS that has my twins in fan-squee mode.
Ah, Arrow. I’m not going to claim it’s a great show. But it has just enough of what I love that I’m hooked, especially after that heart-wrenching finale. Here’s why:
- Oliver Queen wants redemption for his father’s sins yet he has no real idea of what that means for most of the season. He’s struggling with morality, the law, and what it means to be a vigilante dedicated to this kind of vengeance.
- Felicity Smoak. She’s not Oracle. But she could be. According to an interview, she was supposed to be a one-off character but the producers were smart and increased her role throughout the season, until she became a regular part of the team. She’s a bit socially awkward, sweet, and smarter than just about anyone on the show. Every scene she’s in is fun. Kudos to Emily Bett Rickards. Now if we could just get Laurel into the fishnets for a team-up….
- The Queen Family. Read more →
There’s a careful balance to be struck between power and bulk when it comes to portable batteries, and the Powerocks Tarot is designed to manage both. This 1500 mAh battery provides a nice boost of emergency juice and is lightweight and slim enough to slip into your wallet or clutch.
Coming in at just 1.79 ounces, you won’t even know you’re carrying it, so it’s the perfect battery to have on you all the time, just in case. Part of the weight reduction comes from the sleek-looking housing which is made from lightweight aluminum.
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