Felicia Day Has Seen The (Online) Future Of Television With Geek & Sundry

Felicia Day Has Seen The (Online) Future Of Television With Geek & Sundry | 40Tech

We have come one step closer to Nerdvana. Felicia Day — creator of the incredibly funny and successful web-series about gamers, The Guild — has rolled her success and her understanding of the web and television mediums into a brand new online TV channel just for you and me called Geek & Sundry.

I can’t begin to describe what level of awesome this reaches. Geek & Sundry is, essentially, a niche-focused, online television channel that contains all original, independent programming. FGBG — for geeks, by geeks. But these are geeks with an understanding of what makes a TV series work, not to mention how to extend their brand into as many mediums as possible (comics, games, books, music, merchandise, etc., etc., etc.), and create a cultural movement around their passions and products.

Felicia Day has seen the future of TV — and she is not alone. Some of the greatest cultural icons in geekdom are playing too. Wil Wheaton — the ultimate geek celebrity – has his own show on the network (see below), and guest appearances on The Guild run the gambit from Nathan Fillion to Neil Gaiman. Let’s not forget that Felicia is chummy with the Whedon clan, as well – which never hurts when you are into creating a fan-base that is both loyal and passionate. Geek & Sundry promises to be a regular go-to for geeks of all ages and around the world.

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The Guild will be on Geek & Sundry, of course — and if you haven’t watched it and you like giggles, you should get on that — as will six new shows:

The Flog is Felicia Day’s weekly video blog. In the first episode, she talks about many a thing that interests her — and endeavours to become a blacksmith. Or maybe just steal his hammer — you decide.

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Wil Wheaton has a show called Table Top, wherein celebrities do not play poker — they play geeky table top games of yore (and possibly now). The first episode has some prominent online personalities and a Mythbuster in a battle for world domination. Fantasy world domination, that is: Small World.

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The Swords & Laser podcast will also be bringing its sci-fi/fantasy book-clubbiness to Geek & Sundry, along with Dark Horse Motion Comics, Paul & Storm’s Learning Town, and Written By A Kid, which will feature sci-fi/fantasy/horror stories written by 5-10 year old children brought to life as short films by some cool director-types. Good, quirky fun, that!

Geek & Sundry lives on YouTube, so it’s easy to subscribe to what you like and share it with your friends, family, and the world at large. Doo eeeet!!!

Rock Anthem for Nerds

As a parting gift, I leave you with this awesome rock anthem featuring the cast of The Guild — I’m The One That’s Cool, directed by Jed Whedon. Down with asshats! Up with geeks!

Word.

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Still Haven’t Filled Out Your March Madness Bracket? Let PickMyBracket.com Do It For You!

Still Haven't Filled Out Your March Madness Bracket? Let PickMyBracket.com Do It For You! | 40Tech

Today is the deadline for most NCAA March Madness brackets — the first game of the second round. If you’ve been invited to participate in a pool or some other sort of friendly competition, you need to get your college basketball stats together in a hurry. It’s a bit of a bear of a project though, isn’t it? Especially if you’re busy, don’t follow basketball like it’s your religion, or statistics make your eyes roll into the back of your head.

Not to worry , though… PickMyBracket.com has come to your rescue! It’s bracket generator algorithm will create a full bracket for you in seconds — and you might even win a “Brand New iPad,” to boot.

PickMyBracket.com was developed by Information Systems students Jerry Potter and Nick Walter at Brigham Young University. The site pulls statistical data on NCAA teams from ESPN and runs comparisons to pick a winner. To make sure everyone has their own bracket flavour, and to keep things interesting, there are random factors you can choose from, as well, such as hotness of coeds, partying reputation of colleges, SAT scores, mascot type, etc.

The idea actually originated with Walter’s father.

“For around the past 10 years he made an excel file that filled out your March Madness bracket for you based off of team’s ranks and some randomness. He called it ‘The Pickalator,’” said Walter. “I thought this would be a great chance to bring The Pickalator to the whole world!”

If you want to participate in this year’s March Madness bracket competitions, but figure you’re out of time or don’t have the know-how, think again! PickMyBracket.com can have you up and running with a good bracket in just a couple of minutes. Get on it now, so you don’t miss out. Who knows… you might win.

What are your thoughts on PickMyBracket.com?

First Netflix Original Series, Lilyhammer: Fun and Worth a Look

First Netflix Original Series, Lilyhammer: Fun and Worth a Look | 40Tech

Netflix has been making big moves lately, spreading its goodness to countries around the world, making television networks nervous, and generally growing its subscriber-base despite annoying a large portion of its American users. One of its most intriguing steps forward has been to launch its own original series, Lilyhammer, starring Steven Van Zandt of Sopranos and Bruce Springsteen Fame. The series is quirky, fun, and well-written enough to keep you coming back for all eight episodes — which Netflix smartly released all at once. None of this “wait a week or month” business! That’s a thing of the past! We’re all about marathons, now, baby.

Lilyhammer takes place in Lilehammer, Norway, where mobster Frankie “The Fixer” Tagliano decides to go when he winds up in the witness protection program. Why Norway, you ask? Because Frankie has a romantic side, and fell in love with the place when he happened to catch the ’94 Winter Olympics. “Clean air, gorgeous broads…” — hey, why not, right? The ensuing culture shock, combined with Frankie’s base nature and… er… life experience, make for some interesting plot lines that I found really enjoyable. Those of you expecting a return to the Sopranos are expecting too much. This is a mobster show, and it has its dark moments, for certain, but the vibe lends itself more to black comedy than hardcore HBO. That said, there’s not a lot of censorship going on, and its definitely not something you want to watch with the little ones.

There are a lot of subtitles in Lilyhammer, but they flow in and out without distracting or annoying the viewer. There is also has some great music, which is unsurprising considering Steven Van Zandt is also the Music Director (and executive producer and sometime writer). Springsteen fans may recognize him as a member of the E-Street Band, and he uses his talent to great effect on the Netflix series.

Lilyhammer Trailer

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Netflix also has a a remake of House of Cards on the docket, as well as the much anticipated Arrested Development Season Four (which my wife is simply giddy about). Personally, I find their move into original — and quality — productions to be a fantastic one. It’s another one of those ever-increasing moments in which new technology sets old media companies on its ear and potentially signifies something new and better. Well, unless the old media companies get it in their heads to destroy them, of course. That’s never pretty.

What do you think of Netflix’s move into original programming?

Producteev Gets a Massive Upgrade: Android App, Windows Desktop App, and an All Around Makeover

Producteev Gets a Makeover | 40Tech

Producteev, one of our favourite  — and one of the best — to-do apps, has released a massive upgrade that includes some long-awaited features and platform updates. The web and iPhone apps have gotten a makeover, the much clamoured-for Android app has finally arrived, and there is now a Windows 7 desktop app to balance out the Mac version. Even the logo has been updated (bye bye Tasky the beaver)!

To top it all off, Producteev has added a few new features into the mix — and yes (drumroll), that does include sub-tasks…

Check out the video below for the overview of some of the new functionality in the multi-platform task manager.

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There have been usability and visual enhancements across all apps, improvements to some of the main Producteev feature-set (discussed in previous posts), and some brand new features such as integration with TaskRabbit (a service for crowdsourcing small tasks), the ability to print tasks and export them to CSV, as well as the aforementioned sub-tasks.

Now, I know many of you have been waiting patiently for sub-tasks, but don’t get too excited. At this time, sub-tasks are really nothing more than a checkable list added to the top of the main task’s detailed view. There is no way to interact with them outside of that view, or to add specific dates, labels, or anything else. Also, they don’t appear to work in the mobile apps yet, either. Hopefully, there will be improvements, and soon, especially in the case of the missing mobile integration.

The Android app is great. I can now use Producteev with my wife’s phone just as easily as my own, and with an interface that’s nearly identical to the iPhone’s. As Producteev mentions in this post, however, Android users should be aware that the new app is in beta. Don’t expect an error-free experience, just yet.

As always, Producteev is free to use for workspaces that have one or two people. If you want to collaborate with larger teams, unlimited people and storage space can be had for $20 USD per month (it gets cheaper the more workspaces you buy).

Update: Google Calendar integration has been temporarily disabled due to stability issues. It should be back up and running within the week — and it will be better than before. Two way task-sync with Gcal, folks!

Summify Acquired by Twitter (and Going Bye Bye)

Summify Acquired by Twitter (and Going Bye Bye) | 40Tech

Back in August of last year, we wrote about Summify, a fantastic tool for getting to and sharing the highlights of your social streams and feeds. I’ve used this tool religiously for the past several months and have found it to be incredibly useful, especially with Twitter. Just last week, however, I received an email from the Vancouver-based start-up and discovered that they had become yet another in a long line of services to be snatched up and absorbed by a tech giant — in this case, Twitter. Great for them, but sad for you and me.

The Summify team will be moving to San Francisco, where they will become a part of Twitter’s growth team. Summify the service will be stripped down for the time being, and will eventually shutdown altogether as a standalone product.

Here’s the main list of changes from their announcement:

  • New account registrations have been disabled.
  • Email summaries remain, but only for a few weeks, and then they are gone as well.
  • Users will still receive their summaries via the web app (and the iPhone app, as well, I believe), but will no longer be able to make them public.
  • Profile and influence pages are gone, as is auto-publish.

I’ve also noticed that sharing posts to Twitter from Summify no longer adds credits to the end of the tweet. Previously, the tweet would add in an @mention to a few of those in your network that shared the information with you in the first place, but this is no longer the case, at least from the mobile app.

There is no word yet as to when Summify will shut down completely, or what cool newness might arise in Twitter as a result. Either way, while I’m happy for the people behind the great service, I will really miss Summify as a standalone tool. Hopefully, something truly great comes out of this. In the meantime, we can only hope that Zite — and maybe Flipboard — will pick up the slack by improving how they filter our streams.

My Conversion from iCal to Google Calendar

My conversion from iCal to Google Calendar | 40Tech

40Tech is pleased to present a guest post by Michael Carper.

When I began college, I was determined to keep track of all my homework, papers, tests, and scheduled activities. A staple of college scheduling is the syllabus, which lays out the due dates and assigned readings and homework for each class. However, syllabuses are just pieces of paper. I realized that it would be a huge pain to look up daily, from four or five different sources, what the assignments were for that day. I wanted to look at a single source and grasp all the work I had to do for that day, and for that week. More importantly, I wanted to keep in mind upcoming tests and papers several weeks ahead of time, in order to prepare time to work on them.

With this predilection for planning, I looked to my built-in OS calendar, iCal. There were many advantages to using it. I didn’t have to boot up Chrome or worry about web browsing. I could organize by color, assigning one to events, one to assignments, and another to work. I actually put my entire class schedule, as well as ordinary things like “lunch,” into iCal. I put not only due dates, but little reminders when certain benchmarks should be met in prep for those due dates. It was my lifeline.

However, little problems grew to be big annoyances. The most striking was the way iCal handled longer titles. I copied entire reading assignments into iCal. For some single class periods, this could include multiple texts or several page selections. Shorter entries would be completely displayed in the month-long calendar view, which I always used. I didn’t need to see my days broken down in the traditional week-long format, but I did want to see the tests and papers on the horizons. However, in this view, longer entries were simply abridged. There was no indication that an entry was actually much longer than it appeared, since they always stuck to a single line. On several instances, this lack of informative UI actually led to ignored homework assignments, since the entry was actually much longer than appeared and contained more readings than it appeared to. Ironically, in those instances, my calendar made me less prepared.

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Fall of my freshman year

There were other little things, as well. Entry of events was very manual; you had to put all details in only their specific field. Once made, you could not edit an event after clicking on it, but instead had to go to its “edit” page. The tethering of iCal to my Mac turned out to be a disadvantage, since I often ended up with hours to spare, homework to do, and no personal computer at my fingertips. I couldn’t sync it in any way with my iPod Touch, either.

So beginning of my junior, I finally took a look at Google Calendar. Since I had been a loyal Gmail user for many years, it only seemed natural. Immediately I noticed where GCal improved over iCal. The most prominent was the ease of creating events. I no longer had to cycle through different boxes to mark the date and time. Instead, I could simply jot down, “meeting 12-1” as an entry name for a certain day, and there it appeared, from the 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM slot. And if I felt like changing it, I could edit the entry title from the pop-up that appeared when I clicked it the first time, unlike iCal.

It wasn’t just the cleaner, more pleasing UI that won me over. Accessing my calendar outside my room was as simple as accessing my email–just log in to Google. I could access it on my iPod as well, albeit not with an official Google app. School events were always announced via email. I could either copy and paste the location and time details from one tab to another, or I could even click “More” in Gmail and create an event based on the email. If viewing an online calendar, such as the one published by my college, I could even import all the events into mine.

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December of my junior year

Six months later, I still haven’t taken advantage of everything Google Calendar has to offer, like sharing my calendar with others or inviting them to scheduled meetings. Those two functionalities are so amazingly useful, it’s a pity I’ve only encountered them at places I’ve interned. The rest of my fellow students, unfortunately, are still stuck in the Stone Age, with their paper syllabuses and calendar. Some of them may have progressed to iCal, marking their progress into the Bronze Age. They, and everyone else, should wise up and join those of us with our Google Calendars in the Golden Age.

I will add that I’ve tried the Fantastical Calendar app. Fantastical syncs with iCal or Outlook, but not Google Calendar, so I had to export from Google Calendar to iCal and then sync Fantastical with iCal. It’s UI is very nice. The recognition of event details is more intuitive than Google Calendar’s, expanding its recognition to location details and invitees whose address you have in your Contacts as well. You can read more about it in Evan’s review. My judgment is that although it has the best user interface, the ability of Google Calendar to sync with other Google apps, especially through email, is invaluable. Since I always have a web browser opened anyway, leaving a tab for Google Calendar is hardly cumbersome. $20 is a lot for calendar software, but, in my opinion, is something that would be used everyday. So if I spent less time on Google, Fantastical would be my go-to calendar.

Michael is a student at Wabash College and writer for the Reading Glasses Shopper blog. He realizes that actually the Iron Age, not the Golden Age, followed the Bronze Age.