May Wish List

Gadgets are constantly updating, and so is our wish list. Here is the best of what we searched for May.

Beth- Neat Receipt Scanner for PC- a great and space-saving tool tool for going paperless and keeping your home organized.
Kam- Cooking for Geeks- This cookbook isn't exactly what you'd expect: geeky food named after equally geeky characters/locations/franchises. Instead, Cooking for Geeks looks at the science behind what is going on while we cook! The book covers how to make different recipes and includes interviews with experts in different fields like food science and knives. With our current fascination with the origin of our food, I figure Gadchicks may be interested in what happens to our food while we cook it!
Marisa- Nikon 35mm f/1.8 lens- As a photography noob, I've wanted to bring my picture taking skills to the next level without spending the big bucks and this lens would be a perfect fit. It's compatible with my Nikon DX DSLR, is great in low light, and captures beautiful images with interesting perspectives.
Mandy- Star Trek: The Next Generation Seasons 1, 2, 3 - Whenever I'm reminded about how amazing Star Trek is, which is currently happening thanks to the massive amount of Star Trek Into Darkness promotion we're getting, I get a hankering to re-watch the entirety of my favorite of the TV seriesThe Next Generation. I'd really love to watch them in all their remastered glory, too, through the recently released BluRay sets. Seasons 1 and 2 are out now, and season 3 releases April 30.
Katie- On May 14, this very interesting book comes out that is basically a hardback print of Neil Gaiman's infamous commencement address at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. If you haven't heard this speech, you should listen to it. Neil says a lot of the things that creative types need to not only hear but remind themselves to do on a day-to-day basis when it comes to making things, being yourself and staying inspired. He's a smart guy. And you can never have too many books by him, so there you go.
Diana- Infinity Cell Kinetic Charger- This gadget uses kinetic energy to charge your gadget. I constantly lose cords and chargers. I walk everyday and that hour I'm moving would benefit not only myself but my phone. It is a concept right now and not available for purchase, but if you're excited about this idea as much as I am, check out the Kickstarter page.
Aline- Magic Wand Remote Control by Kymera- Considering what a huge Harry Potter (and fantasy in general) fan I am, it's a wonder that I don't already own this wand remote control. Imagine changing the channel with a flick of the wrist! I know I'd be saying "Lumos" and "Nox" when turning it on and off!
If you have an awesome gadget you would love to share with Gadchick, email us! We would love to feature you.

FTC Blogger Disclosure- For our wish lists, we use affiliates. It's a small amount to pay for our issues and keep giving you awesome content. Thanks for the support!


Exploring Standing Desk Options

My current home office set up has served me well for the past year. But in recent months, I’ve been debating an upgrade to my ergonomics and adding a standing desk to my household workstation rotation. You have probably seen the countless articles expounding  the benefits of sitting less each day, from a lower risk of
illness to increased life expectancy.

All of this and my choice of gaming as a hobby has pointed me in the direction of finding an alternative to the couch.

The choice to move to a 50:50 standing/sitting split can mean an investment in a new desk for your home or office. In doing my own person research, here are some great options to explore:

Convert Your Current Desk
I love my current desk so much I’ve convinced other people to buy it. Since I do plan on keeping it, I’ve been looking primarily at possible ways to convert the current desk to work for sitting and standing.
Check out:
1. Ergo-Desk
2. Standing Desk
3. Safco Desk Riser

DIY Solutions
While there are great manufactured options on the market to convert your current workspace, if you prefer DIY, there are a ton of functional and stylish plans to inspire your own creation.
Check Out:
1. This Huffington Post collection of submitted desk setups
2. This Pinterest Board focusing on standing desk creations

The Moving Option
Some people take their interest in a standing desk to the next level and invest in a desk that keeps them moving all day. For people interested in making that jump, there are both DIY and premade options available for them.
Check Out
1. TrekDesk Treadmill Desk
2. FitDesk Pedal Desk
3. Lifespan Treadmill Desk


Playing with Friends - Great Video Games to Watch

While playing video games with a friend can be fun, sometimes you may want to just relax and watch the action unfold as they play.  Also, sometimes you may also have a great single-player game that you and your partner can’t wait to jump into, but that means taking turns and waiting for your chance to play. But not all games are well suited for an audience and, if you are trying to enjoy the interaction together, this can quickly turn your focus from having fun to looking for a way out.

If you and your favorite gaming partner are looking for a game with great cinematics or story that is both fun to play and to watch, try one of the following suggestions:
  • The Uncharted series (PS3) - Like junk food and sweatpants, action movies are fun, comfortable, and perfect in limited quantities. The Uncharted series is one of the best action-adventure games for this generation of consoles and they are hugely engaging to watch. With great voice acting and fun cinematic cut scenes, each game is like living in your own personal action movie and, speaking from personal experience, you may go hours before requesting your turn at the controller.
  • Shadow of the Colossus (PS3) - Originally released for the PS2, Shadow of the Colossus is
    a combination of action-adventure and puzzle game that takes you through a beautiful landscape to defeat a series of colossi to save the life of a young girl. What makes this game wonderful to watch is its artistry and design, as an audience, you will be drawn into the world of the character and can be entertained by the setting alone.
  • Silent Hill 2 (PS3, XBOX360) - Another re-release from the PS2, Silent Hill 2 is one of the greatest examples of survival horror games ever released. Besides being beloved by gamers, this is a game that has also birthed multiple movies and an army of cosplayers who always terrify me in
    person.This specific genre of games is perfect for watching and sharing in the experience of being completely terrified.
  • Bioshock (PC, PS3, XBOX360) - While everyone is enjoying the latest game, I highly recommend revisiting the original series. Bioshock shares a commonality with most of the other games on this list which is the fun of exploring a new world together. With a unique and gorgeous setting and a story that reveals itself throughout the game, the fact that Bioshock movie rumors have been bounced around since its release is no surprise.
Leave your suggestions for other great games that are fun to watch in the comments.


Tech Support

Welcome to this week's Tech Support! Our favorite links of the week! 

+ Starting off with something a little creepy- how a hacker can remotely hijack airplanes using an Android app. Read the scary story here.
+ Lomography made a new 35mm back for the Belair. It'll save money on the film but not so much on the size of the camera. It's something worth checking out!

+ Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat matches your decor with the latest touch screen technology

+ We are fans of subscription boxes- what about one that allows kids to have a new science experiment every month? Love this idea.
+ HBO Go has updated to iOS, Airplay and multitasking. Read more here.


For more links, check us out on Twitter! Some other great links here and here.


How Bioshock Infinite Got It Right

Or “Thank God, a Game Where I Don’t Hate Every Female PC”
(If you have not finished playing Bioshock Infinite, shame on you, just beware that there may be some spoilers ahead. I’ve tried to be at least ambiguous, but I figured I’d put it out there. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

First of all, let me just say how blown away I was by Bioshock Infinite as a game overall. I was cautiously optimistic about it because of its marketing up until only recently. I found myself going, “Uh. This isn’t Rapture. It’s bright. I think it’s going to blind me. And you’re wandering around with this cute chick and…yeah…I don’t know…”

Then, I bought it. And played it.

On the geeky side of things, let me go ahead and point out a few tidbits: the gameplay is a balance of both the first and second Bioshock games. It’s more classic FPS without giving up the fantastic element of Vigors (this game’s version of the Plasmids), and it generally comes off as more controlled than the spastic, frantic quick-kill-everything-ness of especially Bioshock 2. It’s beautifully made with a great soundtrack (did not walk into this game expecting Tears for Fears) and a narrative that leaves you dizzy…and that’s not just because of the skylines.
That said, though…it isn’t just the fact that it’s a fun game that shows how Bioshock Infinite got it right. It’s the characters. Specifically, it’s the women. Because, believe me, I was scared for a while there. “Here we go again,” I thought, “Some dude is saving some chick and there’s going to be this cheeky back-and-forth, blah blah blah.”

After getting through this game, I realized just how wrong I was.

So you have these four different female characters in this game: Elizabeth, Rosalind Lutece, Lady Comstock and Daisy Fitzroy. They fulfill very important roles in a setting that is very sexist and masculine: Elizabeth is the innocent girl, Rosalind is the genius scientist business woman, Lady Comstock is the matriarch and Daisy is the rebel anarchist chick. Each represent a different societal role for women, but even more interestingly, they directly reflect the major named male characters, specifically Booker Dewitt, Robert Lutece, Zachary Comstock and Cornelius Slate, respectively.

And here’s the real kicker: they are more successful than their counterparts. While Booker is running amok eating food out of trash cans, Elizabeth figures out how everything is connected. Rosalind doesn’t just go about her business doing what she’s told; she crosses space and time to find another version of herself and uses him to help her achieve her ends. Lady Comstock knew exactly what was up and what was going to happen (and unfortunately that’s why the Mr. Father Comstock axed her). Even Daisy – who, granted, just ended up being a bit of a crazy bitch at the end of it – got way farther than Slate ever could. She went out and started a revolution while he sulked in the shadows of a museum.

What really got me engaged with the game though wasn’t just the archetypes these ladies represented or my sense of “you go, girl!” It’s the fact that none of them started that way, and throughout the game they changed. The player got this broader, more vivid picture of these well-rounded, interesting characters. Elizabeth wasn’t just some Princess Peach with a giant bird-man babysitter. Rosalind Lutece wasn’t just a Madison Paige who was going out-smart all those menfolk and bag a guy in the end (that was a Heavy Rain reference, by the way – one of my biggest video game heartbreaks that absolutely got it wrong when it came to crafting a female character). They take everything you expect and just go, “No, I think we’ll do this our way, thank you kindly.”

Well done, Bioshock Infinite. Well done.


Gadgets and Tech-Friendly Tools for Pet Owners

Any Instagram or Facebook feed can tell you, people are obsessed with their pets. We want them to be healthy, happy, and safe and we want to know the best app for reminding us to take care of them. Below are some great gadgets, apps, and websites for tech-conscious pet owners:

1. Pet Ownership Apps
You love your phone and you love your pet, why not combine that love into helpful apps. Check out:
MapMyDogWalk (available on IOS and Android) - Getting a dog is also signing up for daily walks in your neighborhood. MapMyDogWalk is a great app for tracking this information via your smartphone.
Games for Cats - I was a huge doubter of how great a cat and an ipad can be together.
These apps courtesy of Friskies are huge fun for the animal, less fun for the owner when the cat confuses Netflix with their fish game. PetMinder (available on IOS) - Any pet comes with a constant to-do list, but
PetMinder helps organizing those tasks and reminds you when any come due.

2. Automatic Pet Toys
While watching a cat chase a piece of string or watching your dog go nuts of a game of catch, at the end of a long day, you might not want to throw their busy bee again. Check out:
Dart Automatic Pet Laser
Twitch Automated Cat Toy 

3. Microchipping
While there a tons of cute collars and your dog might be the most well behaved animal on the block, I can’t express to you how important microchipping is. I could tell you that in a Humane Society study, only
about 22% of lost dogs that entered the animal shelters were reunited with their families, but for microchipped dogs it was over 52%. For cats, less than 2% that entered the animal shelters were reunited with their families but microchipped cats had a return rate over 38%. I could also tell you that at many animal clinics, the cost to microchip your animal is under 50 dollars. I can tell you all of those things, but the most important fact is that a microchip on my dog helped her get returned to us immediately after she ran away from a caretaker while we were away. No amount of money or statistics can compete with having a family member returned home.

Some other great links to check out for gadgets and other pet ownership tips:
Haus Panther:  Being a cat owner used to mean accepting that the 5 foot tall cat condo in your living room would always clash with your chosen style of furniture. But in recent years, new design-conscious pet companies have emerged Catster/Dogster: In addition to making me cry from their real-life stories, Catster and Dogster provide great stories for pet owners and news stories for animal lovers.
Modern Dog/Modern Cat Magazines:
Being an animal owner has given me a minor understanding of what kind
of parent I am going to be, essentially one who runs a websearch for
every question. Both Modern Dog and Cat have been amazing resources for
my questions and I recommend them to any person.


Tech Support

Welcome to this week's Tech Support! It's our favorite links of the week.

+ There's an amazing giveaway for a Nikon D3100 DSLR on Little Chief Honey Bee. 
+ I know most bloggers are familiar with the FTC Blog Disclosure, but did you know it was just updated with stricter regulations? Read it here.

+ Thank you Ashley for sharing the 8-Bit Game Map Sticky Notes. For $4, it's a small price to make our office day. She also sent us...
+ The Indoor Kids! A podcast hosted by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon. It's a new way to listen to the back story of your favorite video games. Thanks, Ashley!

+ TechCrunch reported Apple patenting a convertible MacBook design (!!!) and a street view navigation that can go inside buildings.
+ What do you think about an Apple TV with a 'ring' remote control? Read it here.
+ Have you ever thought of giving up your computer and going mobile exclusively? Eli shares giving up her computer and living the tablet life.

+ In TV news, Arrested Development FB page announced there will be 15 new episodes on Netflix.
+ Walmart looking into crowd-sourcing online delivery? No.

+ Hyperkin Retron to play classic cartridges from old school games via Engadget.
If you can't wait until the end of the week for great links, find on us Twitter!


WonderCon 2013: A Gadchick Recap

WonderCon 2013 was set in Anaheim, CA at the Convention Center. Between March 29 - 31, we saw a few more Storm Troopers than usual walking around the city. WonderCon is the little brother of the mega Comic Con. It's normally held in San Francisco, but due to rumors of scheduling, Anaheim was the lucky city to get WonderCon this year. WonderCon is less crowded and more inspired by actual comic books. The highlights are movies and TV shows panels inspired by our favorite comics.

The first panel I went to was Jason Wan for The Conjuring, a family home haunted by demons, based on a true story. It was one of the scariest previews I've ever watched and even having the family who lived through it on the panel with him made it even more frightening.

The next one I waited for was Guillermo Del Toro. I love everything he does, and I was excited for Pacific Rim, an apocalyptic movie with robots and aliens fighting each other. He talked about the costumes, how big the set was (it was bigger than any North American set ever built), and Charlie Day being an awesome actor.

The cosplay at WonderCon! Where do I even begin? I have a new appreciation and respect for cosplayers. They do their best for what they have to work with. There were so many I didn't recognize, including the confusing Dr. Who costumes (I really need to catch up). These are a few of my favorites.

 Taffyta and Venellope from Wreck It Ralph

Grumpy Cat having a terrible time as usual

Miss Carlyfornia. I loved her dress and later discovered she has her own line of gothic/anima/lolita clothing line.

Our favorite anti-hero. It was cute, done simply and easy recognizable.

I had fun overall and it made me think of Kam's story on smaller cons (who I finally met!) It wasn't as crowded as I expected but it really highlighted the convention for major fans. I hope it comes back to Anaheim next year.


April Wish List

Gadgets are constantly updating, and so is our wish list. Here is the best of what we searched for April.

Aline- The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia
I've been playing Zelda games for most of my life and I cannot wait to get my hands on this book. My bookshelf simply won't be complete without it (let's be honest, it will never be complete!).
Mandy- Wacom Bamboo Tablet and Pen
Although I am most definitely not an illustrator that needs a way to digitally draw things, I absolutely love the idea of having a way to write and draw “on screen.” The Wacom Bamboo Create Pen and Touch Tablet will allow me to do just that ... and perhaps lead me to a new hobby in illustration?
Kam- Goal Zero Solar Charger
It is USB powered recharger that can charge your phone, tablet, or GPS unit. It can also be hooked up to one of the Goal Zero solar panels (what I do) which is perfect for days you're at the beach, poolside, or on a trail. The actual item is really slim and can fit into a purse or backpack really easily.
Bethany- UtiliTEA Kettle 
Besides the awesome play on words, I would love this gadget that could make my mornings a little speedier.
Emily- Silhouette Portrait
The Silhouette Portrait is an electronic die-cutting machine that's the younger brother of the Silhouette Cameo, which has been on my wish-list since last Christmas. The Portrait has a smaller cutting area than the Cameo, but it's also smaller and cheaper, and therefore better for a college-age gadget-loving crafter on a budget, like me!
Diana- Loot Crate
I'm a sucker for subscription boxes, I currently have 4 at the moment, and I would love to add Loot Crate to my mailbox. It's all things geeky I love from novelty to function, with a nerd twist. (Thanks to Kam for the heads up!)

FTC Blogger Disclosure- For our wish lists, we use affiliates. It's a small tiny amount to pay for our issues and keep giving you awesome content. Thanks for the support!


PAX East 2013: A Gadchick Recap

In contrast to industry events focused on the media like E3 and more general cultural conventions where video games are just a fraction of events like SDCC, the Penny Arcade Expo is a celebration of everything
gaming related and a playground for people who call themselves gamers. From tabletop role-playing games to the latest offerings from AAA Gaming studios, anyone whose Steam account is always out of control or who has very strong feelings on handheld gaming devices can feel completely at home at one of the PAX Events. While they run multiple different events a year internationally, I had the privilege of attending the PAX East convention in Boston this March and found myself surrounded by a world of amazing cosplay, great gaming news, and friendly touches you won’t find at any convention equal in size.

Some of my personal highlights from the weekend:

1. Free-Play Gaming Areas
There are a few things you can expect at most conventions: Vendor area, panels, and lots of fans. One thing that PAX offers is countless free-play gaming areas from fully loaded PCs to a retro room that has
almost any console you can remember. The best parts of being a gamer is the camaraderie you feel with fellow fans and offering the ability to sit and just play was very unique to PAX and lended to the environment
that you are all just hanging out in a very large living room. For consoles, they offered rooms full of XBoxes, PS3s, and Wiis (U and Original Flavor) complete with a library of games. I was given the opportunity to not just test the Wii U but play with it for over an hour and decide that I need one in my house. I was also given the chance to test drive two games I had been interested in: Resident Evil 6 and Gears of War: Judgment. Both games are now on my must-buy list. 

2. Great Gamer Cosplay
From Grumpy Cat to countless characters from JRPGs I didn’t recognize, PAX East had excellent and entertaining cosplay. One of my largest regrets of PAX would be not having taken a picture of Pee-wee Herman and Mr. T hugging while in costume.

3. Mass Effect Retrospective
If you’ve read my previous articles you know that I am a fully obsessed and proud Bioware fangirl thus anything related to their games will make my must-watch list. As always, the Bioware staff offered a great lineup of events for fans and this special panel looking back at the Mass Effect series. While I still wait for news for Dragon Age 3, this panel reminded me of everything I love about their games and how much I will
miss Commander Shepard.

This brief list can’t encompass everything I loved such as the Borderlands 2 vending machine and the amazing chiptune extravaganza.  But while I did miss out on some of the panels I was hopeful to see related to girls in gaming and romance in games, PAX East made a big enough impression on me that I will hopefully be back next year. Will I see any of my fellow Gadchicks there?