Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cane Sugar Mt. Dew - Keep or Throwback?

I've recently purchased a 12-pack of the "Throwback" Mountain Dew. I had heard of a bottling company in North Carolina that was the only one in the country that produced cane sugar Mountain Dew and I had always been curious about trying it and this gave me a chance.

I'll be honest, my first impression was, meh. It's a little smoother, but didn't taste as good. I've had a couple more and I now find it to be not that different from the Mountain Dew that I know and love.

After having a few of them, I find the "Throwback" Mt. Dew not so throwbackable and if Pepsi decided to throwback the current incarnation of the drink and keep the cane sugar version I wouldn't shed a tear.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Geek vs. Nerd

The other day my wife asked me why I thought I was a geek when all along she thought I was a nerd. Since then I've been having an internal struggle of which one I am, so I decided to do some research on the topic. Below is the results of that research. First, let's compare the definitions of the two words.
Geek Definition (
  1. a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp. one who is perceived to be overly intellectual.
  2. a computer expert or enthusiast (a term of pride as self-reference, but often considered offensive when used by outsiders.)
  3. a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken.
Nerd Definition:
  1. a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person.
  2. an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit: a computer nerd.
Well, Geek definition 1 and 3 are not too complimentary and neither is the whole nerd definition. I'm kind of liking Geek definition part 2 though. Let's move on to encyclopedic knowledge of the two words.
Geek encyclopedic definition (
  1. A derogatory reference to a person obsessed with intellectual pursuits for their own sake, who is also deficient in most other human attributes so as to impair the person's operation within society.
  2. A person who is interested in technology, especially computing and new media. Geeks are adept with computers, and use the term hacker in a positive way, though not all are hackers themselves.
  3. A person who relates academic subjects to the real world outside of academic studies; for example, using multivariate calculus to determine how they should correctly optimize the dimensions of a pan to bake a cake.
  4. A person who has chosen concentration rather than conformity; one who passionately pursues skill (especially technical skill) and imagination, not mainstream social acceptance.
  5. A person with a devotion to something in a way that places him or her outside the mainstream. This could be due to the intensity, depth, or subject of their interest. This definition is very broad but because many of these interests have mainstream endorsement and acceptance, the inclusion of some genres as "geeky" is heavily debated. Persons have been labeled as or chosen to identify as physics geeks, mathematics geeks, engineering geeks, sci-fi geeks, computer geeks, various science geeks, movie and film geeks (cinephile), comic book geeks, theatre geeks, history geeks, music geeks, art geeks, philosophy geeks, literature geeks, historical reenactment geeks and roleplay geeks.
  6. A more recent school of thought sees Nerd as being a derogatory phrase, whilst Geek is simply a description. It is taken to be someone who is an enthusiast, often in things outside of the mainstream spectrum, of note is that in this definition, there is no reference to being socially inept in the slightest.
Nerd encyclopedic definition:
  • Nerd is a term often bearing a derogatory connotation or stereotype, that refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests rather than engaging in more social or popular activities. Therefore, a nerd is often excluded from physical activity and considered a loner by peers, or will tend to associate with like-minded people.
Hm, interesting. One of the first things that I noticed is that the term Geek had a much richer and lengthy definition in wikipedia than Nerd did. Another thing that I noticed is that the encyclopedia definition for Nerd is like the dictionary definition, not particularly flattering. For the Geek definition, there is some negative connotations, but it's mostly all good (in my view anyway). Next I did a little digging into popular culture references to both terms.
Geek cultural references:
  • (an online store for geeky stuff), (a news/review site), (how to identify what kind of geek you are), The Geek Squad (a computer repair service now associated with Best Buy), GeekDad blog (a blog), Beauty and the Geek (a reality show)
Nerd cultural references:
  • Revenge of the Nerds (movie series), Nerdcore rap (music genre), White and Nerdy (Weird Al song), (news for nerds), Nerdapalooza (nerd music festival), Nerd Herd (the Geek Squad of the TV show "Chuck")
I found more online stores under the geek term than the nerd term, but overall the searches turned up about the same number of references. Overall, I think that while Geek is turning out to be the more popular term choice, Nerd is also commonly used to describe the same person in the same way.

Before I began this research, I would have called myself a geek and balked somewhat at being called a nerd. At the time, to me, nerds were less socially accepted and more oblivious to the world around them than geeks were. As Richard Clarke said on the Colbert Report, "the difference between a geek and a nerd is that geeks get it done", a sentiment that I used to agree with After doing this research, I've found that people I would have considered geeks often refer to themselves as nerds instead. Now, the dictionary and encyclopedia were kinder to the term geek, but I think that is only because Geek has become a more recognized positive term than nerd has. In time, I feel, the term nerd will get the positive recognition that it deserves. Call me geek, call me nerd, either way, I will take it as a compliment. So, tell me what you think of all this? Are you a geek or a nerd? Which term do you prefer? Leave a comment! :)

Also, I've decided to include my favorite song of the moment in all future blog posts. Today the song is Indestructible by Disturbed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Top 10 Games of All Time

As my first post I've decided to give you all a top ten list of my all-time favorite video games/game franchises. Let me know what you think of this list and what your favorites are.

1. Baldur's Gate
I loved this series. The games finally represented (to me) a good representation of D&D (in one of the more popular worlds) in a video game. I'd played some games labeled D&D before and since and none has captured my attention as this one did. Throughout the game I was in awe of the graphics (decent for the time period) and the gameplay. I also was impressed with how well the gameplay followed the rules of the AD&D books (of which I had come to know quite well). The expansions to each of the games were great and expanded the stories and gameplay.

2. Civilization 3
This game was my favorite of the Civ series. I've played each of them, including the expansions and Alpha Centauri. This one, in my opinion, is the best of them all. I like the gameplay and how easy it is to create your own worlds and scenarios using the map editor. I still have this game installed on my computer after all these years and I still play it from time to time. The expansions for this game did nothing but enhance the gameplay and variety of games.

3. Starcraft
Even though the graphics are fake 3d, this game rocks. I also still have this game installed and my friends and I always play at least once when we get together for LAN parties. The map editor is not great, but still good enough to build maps with. Scenarios and other types of maps require a lot of precision and record keeping to keep it all straight. I tried creating a D&D style adventure using the map editor (I'd seen others do the same thing), but the triggers never seemed to fire correctly for me. The expansion was good, though not great. I didn't like any of the added units with the exception of Dark Templar.

4. Super Mario
Now, I haven't played every single game with Mario in it, but every one that I have played I have enjoyed. This item is mostly concerned with games like SMB3, Super Mario Land, Super Mario World, etc. I recently bought Super Mario 3 and Super Mario Land for the virtual console on my Wii and replayed them both in their entirety. I also have Super Paper Mario, which I played through as well, and I think that it is another great game. It diverges a bit from the side-scrolling of the originals, but it does so in an ingenious and inventive manner.

5. World of Warcraft
While I don't play WoW anymore, this game captured my attention for over two years. I (at one time or another) have played every class (with the exception of Death Knights, I don't have WotLK) and most of the races (I had no interest in playing a human). I stopped playing because grinding everyday for cash seemed pointless and WotLK was still months away. I think that at the time I had intended to buy WotLK, but I haven't gotten around to it and although I miss playing sometimes, I enjoy the time I spend with my family and other games much more.

6. Mario Kart
I felt that this series deserved its own spot separate from Super Mario games. I really, really enjoyed the first one on the SNES even though I never owned that system myself. I had the occassion to play on the N64 and Gamecube, but it wasn't until I got it for the Wii that my love for this game really shined through. I played it through each of the categories (50cc, 100cc, etc.) and I still play it to finish unlocking all of the characters and vehicles. This game is great multiplayer and a lot of fun single-player as well.

7. Hearts of Iron 2
A friend of mine at work suggested this game to me. The graphics are bland and 2d, but the gameplay more than makes up for this drawback. Another plus to this game is its easily modded. You can go on the developer's forums and download mods that others have created, or it's rather simple to include your own events, rename units, leaders, etc. I've played as each of the major powers and several minor powers (Sweden and Bulgaria to name two). It's a lot of fun for strategy and history buffs, but I also like it for the alternate history aspect of the game. Like, what if Sweden joined the Axis? Or, Italy never joined the Axis? Some of the games I've played have been very historically accurate, but most are wildly inaccurate, because that's how I like to play.

8. Oregon Trail
This was one of my favorite games as an elementary school kid. I always looked forward to computer lab day so that I could continue my Oregon Trail game. I played countless times and while I didn't always win, it was always a lot of fun.

9. Red Alert
This was my first real-time strategy game that I owned and is still one of my favorites of all time. The game play was great and the graphics were pretty good for the time period. Also, since I am an alternate history buff, I enjoyed the story behind the game. I've played most of the other C&C titles and none of them captured my attention like Red Alert did.

10. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Another game that I liked a LOT even though I never owned an SNES. This game will definitely be my next virtual console purchase for the Wii. The reason I liked this game so much was the graphics and gameplay were very good for the time and the story was pretty good too. I also like the idea of a dark world that is diametrically opposed to the "light" one and I have used this idea a couple of times in D&D campaigns that I've run because of this game.

Honorable mentions:
Masters of Orion 2 & 3, Diablo 1 & 2, Warcraft 3, Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars Battlefront, Grand Theft Auto (franchise), Legend of the Dragoon, Gran Turismo 2

Disclaimer: All pics came from Wikipedia, I have no ownership or rights to them, nor do I want any.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Welcome/First Post

Hello world! (A little programming humor there!)

I've been wanting to start a blog for quite a while and what was holding me back was trying to choose a topic/format that I wanted for my blog. I've decided to go with NO TOPIC and NO FORMAT! :) This frees me up to talk about whatever I want, whenever I want. I am going to try and post at least once a week, so stay tuned. I have the idea for my first real post in my head and after I organize my thoughts a bit I'll be turning that into a blog post later this week.

Now for an introduction to me. I am a Geek. I proudly admit that and I have been this way for as long as I can remember. I've been playing D & D forever, using computers with skill for almost as long. I have other geek cred too, I like Star Trek and Star Wars, among other things. You will learn all about that in future posts.

As the first line alludes, I am a programmer. I have a CS degree with a Business Admin minor, and I have been in the workplace for over three years now. I like programming, but my real goal in life is to open a hobby/gaming shop.

I think that is all for now. Like I said, stay tuned for my first real post later this week!