March 1

Review – The power of speech!

So I have been using my Amazon Echo for over two weeks now.  It took some getting used to with how to phrase your question or request allowing Alexa to understand you, but I am sold. I use this piece of tech more and more each day.

The first couple of days I just used it to listen to music and I have to say the quality that comes out of it makes my ears hum with pleasure. As I started to explore I was pleasantly surprised to find some really cool things I can do with it. I have listed below some of the commands I use on a daily basis with my Echo.

  • Listen to my Spotify account. I love spotify and the music sounds great coming out of my Echo! You can also listen to your Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Tunein music as well as listen to your Audible and Amazon Kindle books!
  • To do list… If I have some tasks that I need to do and want list to show up on my phone in the Alexa app, all I have to do is ask “Alexa add “X” to my to do list” and it is done!
  • Shopping list… Just like the “To Do” list I can ask Alexa to add “X” to my shopping list and it shows up on my phone in the Alexa app.
  • Alarms… You can set up multiple alarms just by asking “Alexa set an alarm for “X:XXam” and your Echo will set an alarm! (A side note: as it stand the alarm is only good one time and you have to turn it back on each night. I would like to see the ability to set an alarm and repeat it on certain days.)
  • Timers… I have to say that this is one of my most favorite abilities of the Echo. I can start cooking something come up stairs and ask Alexa to start a timer for “X” minutes.
  • Weather… All you have to do is ask. For local you just have to ask “Alexa what is my local weather?” and she will give your current and nighttime weather. You can also ask Echo what the weather is in another city and it will answer with the weather for that city.
  • News… You can setup “Flash Briefings” and what you ask your Echo for the news it will play you the recorded news. I have NPR as my briefing and is pretty good at giving me the highlights of what is going on.
  • Control Wifi enabled household appliances, thermostats and lights. At this time I do not have any of these but hope to try it out in the near future. You can check them out here!

To find your history of what you have asked your Echo all you have to do is open up the Alexa app and you are greeted with it.  If you want to manage any of the lists, alarms, or timers just click on the menu icon on the upper right hand corner and it will open up a menu giving you the option to view or edit anything you wish on your Echo. This where you can connect your music and book accounts as well as changing your settings for the Echo.

If you do find it difficult to see what you want on your phone there is an option to allow you to access that same page from a web browser. As long as your Echo is connected to your network via your WiFi you can open the following address in your browser giving you an easier way to access the site. alexa.amazon.com

Combined with the Alexa App for my Android phone the device is very powerful indeed.

So as you can see it is more than just a speaker it actually has kept me from burning my dinner, over sleeping, and forgetting things at the grocery store!

Stay nerdy until next time!

February 20

Review – Alexa! Can you hear me?

Setting up the Amazon Echo was super easy…. I mean a monkey could do it…. well maybe not that easy. First thing you have to do is to plug the Echo into a wall with the included power adapter. Once you do the light ring on the Echo will turn blue, and then Orange where you will here Alexa’s voice for the first time greeting you. This is where the fun begins….

Echo Blue
Echo Blue
Echo Orange
Echo Orange

Next you need to download the free Alexa app for your chosen device. To download the Alexa app, go to the app store on your mobile device and search for “Alexa app,”.

You can also go to https://alexa.amazon.com from Safari, Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer (10 or higher) on your Wi-Fi enabled computer. Your device operating system will need to be Fire OS 2.0 or higher, Android 4.0 or higher, iOS 7.0 or higher.

Once you have the application installed it is time to connect your device to it. This is easy just open the Alexa app and then follow the instruction. The first thing it will do is connect your Echo to your local Wi-Fi. Once that is done it is time to start speaking to Alexa. The Alexa app has a nifty little setup process called “Voice Training” that gives you 25 statements to read to Echo to allow it to learn you speech patterns and help Alexa understand you better.

That is it… Alexa is ready to listen to your request. Just say for instance “Alexa play “Bring Back the 80’s from Spotify.” and she will respond with a confirmation and then start your request. I know do not judge me I still love to listen to “Karma Chameleon”!

Next time we will delve into my first couple of days of using the Echo!

Stay Nerdy!

February 18

Review – Can you hear that Echo?!

I have been looking the Amazon Echo ($179.00) for sometime. I have gone back and forth on just how useful this tool would be in my household. I decided to take the plunge…. Today it arrived in all its glory!

The Amazon Echo
The Amazon Echo

When I opened the box I was greeted by the attractive packing. As you can guess it did not take long for me to bust out this puppy so I could take it for a test drive.

Outer case removed
Outer case removed

As I started to manhandle the box the first thing I noticed was the weight. I mean this thing weighs in at 4 pounds! This guy is a sturdy piece of equipment and the weight shows it.

What is in the box
What is in the box?

As I opened the inner box I found the Echo loving tucked into a cozy little nook. I gently pulled it out and set it aside so I could remove the other contents. Which included the power supply, setup instruction, & a quick start guide.

Fintie Protective Case
Fintie Protective Case
Fintie Protective Case
Fintie Protective Case

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As many know I am a bit of a freak when it comes to my electronics and with the money spent on this device I decided to purchase a Fintie Protective Case for Echo ($17.99). It snapped on very easy and is wraps the Echo tightly. Not only does it have a strap to slip your hand through and secure it from being dropped it has a separate bottom cover to protect the Echo from being set down into something less than desirable. There are so many color choices that anyone can find something that tickles the fancy. I chose purple because, well it is my favorite color and I am a Baltimore Raven’s fan!

There are two minor things I questioned….

  1. The weight of the Echo makes it hard to take with you, whether it be the office or someplace else.
  2. There is no battery. The Echo has to be plugged in all the time for it to work. (I did some research and found this nifty solution by Echo Battery Boot that tackles this deficiency. They are running special pricing ($69.99 12-14hr, 59.99 9-10hr, 49.99 6-7hr.) for those that pre-order. I think you should really consider doing so if you want your Echo to be portable.)

Tomorrow I will go over the setup and my first day using it.

Stay Nerdy!

January 5

Blurb: The UMG Orlando Tournament Experience!

I had the pleasure to travel to Orlando this weekend with my nephew and watch all the Pro Call of Duty – Advance Warfare players competing for a share of $25K in the UMG Orlando Tournament.

We arrived in Orlando on Friday afternoon ready to watch all the Call of Duty – Advance Warfare action. Once we were in the hall we were presented with flashing lights and bumping sound of music. Not unlike a night club on a Friday night!

At first it was a bit over whelming but we quickly found our bearings and made our way to the main arena to find a seat and settled in.

UMG Orlando 2015
UMG Orlando 2015

Counting the main stage there were twenty one eight player stations and there was CoD action from the moment the hall opened up until the end of the night. Screams of joy and failure rang throughout the hall at a steady pace. The main stage area seating was always full especially when Optic Gaming took the stage where it was standing room only and at times did not seemed like there was not enough room for that.

Both Gamma Labs – GFuel  and Scuf Gaming had booths where you could purchase their highly sought after products. You could also purchase UMG t-shirts and gear for the UMG store booth.

One thing I think deserves mentioning is UMG’s charity that they sponsor… Operation Supply Drop what a awesome charity. It sends gaming goods to our men and women over seas to bring a little fun to a place where most of the time there is none.

Operation Supply Drop
Operation Supply Drop

The pro-players are super friendly and we saw this first hand with EnVyUs’s Clayster was inundated with fans and he took time to take pictures and signed autographs for everyone that approached him.

EnVyUs Clayster
EnVyUs Clayster

Optic Gaming’s Crimsix was another example on how approachable these guys are and how much they appreciate the fans. (He signed autographs outside of the restroom.)

Optic Gaming Crimsix
Optic Gaming Crimsix

Over the next three days we witnessed a lot of matches and consumed many many ounces of Gamma Labs – GFuel but in the end there could only be one winner.

Champions Optic Gaming
Champions Optic Gaming

So with that being said congratulations Optic Gaming for winning the UMG Orlando 25K tournament!

October 7

RPG – Pathfinders: Advanced Class Guide – Part 1

The awesome folks of Paizo we generous enough to send me over a copy of their Advanced Class Guide. For the last week I have been devouring it’s pages so I could write up my review. As I was doing so I decided that I needed to at the very least divided it up three post to give each section it needed attention.

The Book:
I have to say that the standard that Paizo sets on the quality of their products is so high. I mean everything they do is polished to a high sheen and Advanced Class Guide is no different. When I opened the box I was welcomed by a beautiful cover depicting, two of the books featured heroes (Bloodrager and Swashbuckler to be exact) fighting a nasty un-dead emerald dragon! The cover artwork by Wayne Reynolds is so stunning I was afraid to touch it and ruin it’s perfection (I love Wayne Reynolds I have a framed signed piece of art on my den wall to prove it)!

Pathfinder: Advanced Class Guide
Pathfinder: Advanced Class Guide

I knew I had to so I eventually picked it up and cracked the cover open to find out just what Paizo had in store for me. I thumbed quickly through to find what the cover art promised, a awesome tome of painstakingly created companion tome for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook.

The book pages falls in at 256 pages which includes 10 new classes (We will delve into these shortly), archetypes and class options, new feats, new spells, new gear and magic items, and instructions on how to create you own hybrid class.

Classes:
If you are like me I love with things get mashed together. I mean who does not like two great songs mashed together making them into one epic song? So what does this have to do with Advanced Class Guide you ask? Well it does just that it mashes two awesome character classes and give us one epic character class! We are given 10 of these in chapter one and Paizo calls them hybrid classes.

These 10 hybrid classes are:
Arcanist – a Sorcerer / Wizard mix who is a scholar of all things magical.
Bloodrager – a Barbarian / Sorcerer mix that puts fear into his enemy with bloodline and combat prowess.
Brawler – a Fighter / Monk mix who can quickly adapt to changing battle conditions.
Hunter – a Druid / Ranger mix that forms a team of a adept hero with a highly trained animal companion.
Investigator – a Alchemist / Rouge mix who is a investigator that loves to solve mysteries.
Shaman – a Oracle / Witch mix are divine spell-caster that use the power of spirits for the spell-work.
Skald – a Barbarian / Bard mix is a front-line bard that inspires his allies in all of their endeavors.
Slayer – a Ranger / Rouge mix  who knows the opportune time and location to take out their enemy.
Swashbuckler – a Fighter / Gunslinger mix that are light on their feet and quick witted with their tongue.
Warpriest – a Cleric / Fighter mix who is the perfect healing fighting machine.

I like a few more than the others… The hunter for instance really calls to me and actually reminds me of the hunter class in World of Warcraft. I can say that each of these hybrid classes are well thought out and well balanced and I am sure that everyone will be able to find a favorite or two to play. Hey and if you do not in the back of the book there is instructions on how to create your own! Come back in a couple of days to hear more about that!

So next time I will be delving into archetypes and class options, new feats, & new spells!

Until next time nerds!

September 27

Blurb – Otakon 2015

Otakon
Otakon

As some of you know I used to live in Baltimore and one of my favorite things about living downtown was the sites and sounds that you could encounter. One weekend stands out above the rest and that is Otakon was being held. What is Otakon you ask? Well….

Over 20,000+ and more con goers invade Baltimore for one of the most well-known and established anime conventions in the USA. Otakon is one of the largest and longest running anime convention in the US. Fans of anime from all over the world swarm into the city where most are cos-playing their favorite characters. Which range from icons from video games to manga and I have to tell you some of these attendees know how to cos-play!

Halo's Master Chief
Halo’s Master Chief
Borderland's Pycho
Borderland’s Psycho
Otakon Attendees
Otakon Attendees

You will also find well known performers attending the event such a USA sumo wrestler champs, voice performers of your favorite anime, and a bunch more! Otakon also sports a gigantic dealers room where some con goers honestly get lost in because there are so many vendors looking to sell their merchandise. Also they have a fantastic art show letting artist showcase their work and gives them the chance to auction off their work whether it be silent or live auction.

Pricing:
Three day: 80$ (Sorry no one day passes!)

So if you find yourself in Baltimore in July do your self a favor and hang out at the Inner Harbor you will not be disappointed. Oh and if you are feeling re adventurous why not attend the con itself!

Until next time Nerds!

 

September 26

Blurb – Stonhenge: What Lies Beneath?

For the last four years archaeologists from Birmingham and Bradford universities, and from the Ludwig Boltzman Institute in Vienna, have  been using powerful ground-penetrating radar around Stonehenge. What they have detected is a trove of previously unknown burial mounds, chapels, shrines, pits — and most remarkable of all — a massive megalithic monument made up of more than 50 giant stones buried along a 1,082-foot-long c-shaped enclosure.

Stonehenge: What's Underneath?
Stonehenge: What Lies Beneath?

If you are interested in knowing more about this magnificent discovery head over to i09.com to read more. You can find the two part series on YouTube Episode 1 and Episode 2.

Enjoy Nerds!

September 25

RPG – 5E: The Bone Devil!

Wow the art work alone on this guy just makes your blood curdle! This fiend is what nightmares are made of! Check out the page below to see what I mean! Oh and when you are done head over to your favorite local gaming store and pick it up (it is available at Wizards Play Network stores early prior to the September 30th release date)!

5E: Bone Devil
5E: Bone Devil

This book is a hardbound, 352 page behemoth and cost $49.99 (you can pre-order it for 29.97 on amazon.com)! It is a must have if you are planning to run a 5th edition campaign!

Later Nerds!

September 15

TV – AMC Orders A Pilot Episode Of ‘Walking Dead’ Spinoff Series!

Who does not like walking dead! I can tell you this nerd does! I know last season people thought it was a little long in the tooth with everyone split up and trying to find the mythical land of Terminus. But the gang is all back toghether and it looks like the backdrop will change every day since they will be on the move to the even bigger mythical city of Washington DC.

 

Walking Dead Season 5
Walking Dead Season 5

Back the actual cool news though. AMC has ordered a spinoff pilot of the Walking Dead franchise and even though there is very little information out about what it entails we do know one thing. The new series will answer one big question… “What is happening outside of George?” That is right this will not take place in Georgia it will be else where. My bet is Europe somewhere. I guess we will find out once the new series is launched!

Oh and as a reminder…. like you need one! The Walking Dead returns on October 12th at 9pm on AMC!

Later Nerds!