Friday Finds – Nancy Wake and Meteor Showers

Posts of the week:

And here are links for your reading pleasure:

Evil squirrels wreck the internet.  No, not with a cute video meme, just by chewing.

The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks tonight.

On this day in 1981, the first IBM PC was introduced.  4.77mhz!  Up to 256kb of memory!  Optional COLOR GRAPHICS!

And finally, Nancy Wake, the ‘White Mouse’ of the Maquis in WWII, died earlier this week.  If you saw Captain America and liked Agent Carter, then this lady’s story is for you.

As her involvement in the war deepened, Ms. Wake was trained by the British to kill with her bare hands (she delivered a fatal karate chop to a sentry at an arms factory), parachute into enemy-held territory and work a machine gun.

With her highly motivated force, Ms. Wake planned and executed a successful raid on a Gestapo garrison and an arms factory in central France in 1944.

It’s an incredible tale that had yet (to her mind) been told properly on TV or in film.  Rest in Peace, Ms. Wake.

PC Games

Vintage Gaming – Star Wars: Rebellion

Star Wars: Rebellion (or Supremacy, as it was known across the pond) is a real-time 4X game Lucasarts released in 1998 to quite mixed reviews.  I bought it and played it quite a bit, though almost always from the Rebel side.  I have a hard time playing the bad guys.  Rebellion is set just after the destruction of the first Death Star at Yavin, and you have to win over support of the existing core worlds while colonizing worlds in the unknown territories.  You must also recruit more heroes to your side, and they make heavy use of the Expanded universe (or “Star Wars Legends”) so you are just as likely to find Grand Admiral Thrawn or Garm Bel Iblis as you are General Covell or Wedge Antilles.

Rebel Scum

Rebellion moved at a fairly slow pace, unless you jacked up the speed on how fast the ‘days’ passed.  You could build all sorts of buildings on the planets, such as mines and refineries, defensive structures, factories for ships, and training grounds for troops.  The only ‘action’ was ship to ship combat when two fleets met at a planet, and that’s only if you wanted to micro-manage it.  Most everything else was resolved automatically, such as diplomacy missions to neutral (or enemy) planets, sabotage, and orbital bombardment.

I think what I liked most about SW:R was finding and recruiting everybody.  You never knew who you were going to find, and it seemed really cool that a lot of them were from the books.  It was very hard to ‘win’ this game with the default rules as you had to capture the two main characters from the opposing side (Vader and Palpatine, or Mon Mothma and Luke Skywalker) and since they could be anywhere, including in transit aboard ships, it became very frustrating.  You can set the game to accept just destroying the home base as a win though.

There was a decent sized mod community, though I don’t know how active they are now.  I enjoyed Rebellion quite a bit in spite of the flaws.  Worth a spin, especially now when it’s discounted for May 4th.

Gadgets Media Sci/Tech

Friday Finds – Buffalo Cash Mob

First, the week in posts:

And the links I found:

A VERY stupid man was caught trying to create a nuclear reactor at home.  This genius caused a ‘small meltdown’ on his stove, and sent a letter to Sweden’s ‘Radiation Authority’, who tipped off the cops.  You thought a meth lab made a bad neighbor.

There is a rat (an ENORMOUS rat) in Africa that chews on a poisonous tree, and then puts the poison on a strip of hair.  Predators that bit them foam at the mouth and die.  These must be the rats that kill you when you are just starting out in an MMO game.

ArsTechnica (via FCC data) has a chart that shows how the major high-speed internet providers stack up as far as providing the bandwidth they claim you should get.  Here in Buffalo we do OK (Time Warner) is right there at 90+% with very little drop at peak times, and Verizon FiOS actually gives you a bit more than advertised.  I feel really bad for Cablevision customers, though.

To end things, a couple of things that might appeal to Buffalonians.  First is a story of how Cleveland is leveraging empty lots as gardens, and just how far it could take a city.  Second is the Buffalo Cash Mob, an idea for a flashmob that has a good purpose – to patronize a locally owned business.  This afternoon/evening, it’s City Wine Merchant.  It’s a great choice, which you can read about at this link.  If you can check ’em out tonight, tell ’em the #BuffCashMob sent you.


Poll: Best Star Wars Videogame Ever?

Best Star Wars Game Ever?

  • Tie Fighter (1994) (36%, 4 Votes)
  • X-Wing (1993) (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Knights of the Old Republic (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Star Wars: Dark Forces (1995) (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight (1997) (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Star Wars Episode I: Racer (1999) (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Star Wars Arcade (1983) (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Shadows of the Empire (1996) (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Rogue Squadron (1998) (0%, 0 Votes)
  • X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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Well, here it is.  The poll will run for a month, so you’ll have plenty of time to decide and vote.

Console Games Featured PC Games

Call for Contenders – Best Star Wars Game

Since it began all those years ago with Star Wars (A New Hope), Lucas’s universe has spawned dozens of computer and console games of widely varying quality.  I’m very curious to see if we can come up with any sort of consensus of what the best Star Wars games are, and if one rises to the top.  Did you wear out your flight stick playing X-Wing?  Does your nostalgia lead you back to the green and red wireframe of the original arcade game?  Or are you an FPS guy, who things Jedi Outcast might be one of the best of that genre, Star Wars or not?  I didn’t even mention Super Star Wars series which I played the heck out of, or Knights of the Old Republic, so you can see the task at hand will not be hard.  What I want now are nominations.  Give me what YOU think the best Star Wars related game is, and WHY.  Either comment on this post or hit me up on the Twitters.

Featured PC Games

Old Game Tuesday – X-Wing

First, a confession:  I never played X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter.  This might wound my geek cred, but I just never got to it, and I had moved on to game styles than the flight sims of my youth.  I also was a bit nervous about a ‘multiplayer only’ game being fun since I didn’t know THAT many people that played computer games.

But this is not about XvT, but X-Wing.  Being a giant Star Wars fan, with Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy books fresh in my mind, X-Wing hit me at exactly the right time.  The fact that it was a fantastic (if extremely difficult, at least for me) game was icing on the cake.  I probably would’ve loved it no matter what.  X-Wing took you through a linear series of missions as a young pilot recruit for the Rebel Alliance.  It starts before the events of the original Star Wars trilogy, covering things like getting the Death Star plans to Princess Leia, and ends with you playing Luke Skywalker’s role in taking out the Death Star.

This game was hard.  I refuse to believe I was THAT bad at flight sims, as I tore through the Wing Commander series, Falcon, F-15 Strike Eagle and the like without struggling.  It speaks to how cool X-Wing was that I kept trying these missions over and over and over again until I finally got the satisfaction of beating them.  Tour of Duty 1 (there are 3) Mission 8 (12-14 in each ToD) in particular gave me nightmares.  I actually bought the strategy guide, something I never do.  Of course, the strat guide gave bad info on this mission but it helped on some others (Mission 10 was a bitch also).  I call X-Wing a two controller game – I broke 2 cheap flight sticks before I got a better quality one that could take getting slammed down in frustration. :)  There were some quirks in the game which you could use to your advantage, including a spin/roll move that could keep you from getting shot, but I felt that with the difficulty of the game, I’d use whatever advantage I could

The two expansion packs were excellent, and  included the mission walkthroughs if you needed them built in, no strat guide needed.  Certain version of the original game came with a novella that paralleled the missions, so you could get some back story as you advanced.  They really got a solid Star Wars feel in the game, and really, what kid didn’t want to pilot an X-Wing after seeing the movies?  If you can find a copy of the game, it’s well worth a play through, if only to remember the bygone era where the flight-sim was king.  The DOS version will be best played in DOSBox, though the game was updated a few times with various collections to better engines, including a Win95 compatible version.


Nerdiest Wedding? YOU DECIDE

Gizmodo has the scoop on what could be the nerdiest wedding in the history of weddings. It is Star Wars themed, down to the Death Star disco ball, Stormtrooper bustier and the tables named for SW universe locations.

Nerdiest Wedding?

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Media Wacky

Star Wars/MacGyver


I should be working on deep, well-researched posts for the Sabres early offseason, but I’m just getting cracked up over and over by this:

Life Media

Very Important Question!

What order will you show the Star Wars movies to your kids?

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I’ve been thinking about this, as my son slowly but surely gets exposed to Star Wars thanks to kids at school (and the very fun Lego Star Wars game we have). While I’m probably not showing him these any time soon, this is the sort of thing a geeky dad think about. So what do you think? You can give your reasoning in the comments.


Lucas is Meddlesome

Jeffrey Katzenberg, speaking to, revealed that Darth Lucas is ‘investing in technology’ to turn the Star Wars movies 3D. My favorite bit:

Katzenberg remarked in the interview that Lucas “isn’t going to put a product out, I think, that isn’t anything other than first rate.”

Yeah, EP1 was first rate, all right. UGH.

Gadgets Wacky

Tiny LEGO Awesomeness

Tim Goddard is a LEGO ninja. He’s built tiny LEGO models of all sorts of Star Wars vehicles and sets which look seriously sweet. The way he’s able to take the smallest LEGO bits and make them recognizable as X-Wings or TIE Fighters is super-cool.