All-in-One Travel Power Plug Adapter for US, UK, EU, AU

For Geeks traveling overseas. Geeks hauling gear around the world quickly realize the need for a power plug adapter. Sadly, standard US wall sockets are not compatible with those found in many areas of the world.

This adapter works in the US, UK, EU and AU. You just fold the prongs up and down to change it to whatever mode is required, depending on what geographic region you are in.

Warning! This is NOT a voltage converter! If your gear only takes 110 voltage (US), make sure you also get a step down converter (voltage in many areas of the world is 220v). Fortunately, most power cords for electronics handle 100v – 220v, so it’s just a matter of adapting to the electrical outlet, but be sure you check yours before plugging in!

Veho VMS004DELUXE USB Powered Microscope

The Veho VMS004DELUXE USB Powered Microscope was used to examine the Kindle and iPad displays up close — generating a certain amount of controversy on the relative merits of the two devices.

Check out the article (with pictures!) here.

Geek Projects with the Geeklings

If you are a Geek with a Geekling, then you know how hard it is to find DIY projects to do around the house that would actually be fun for the younglings.  Well, there’s hope: a book that gives you fun projects that are seriously geeky, and seriously awesome!

Introducing Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share. Within this must-have book, you will find cool projects like building a working lamp out of Lego Bricks and CDs, how to have the Slip ‘n Slide ride of your life, and more!

So put away the d20 and turn off your Xbox.  Geek Dad is where it’s at!

One Potato, Two Potato

For the younger geeks.

Click to buy the potato clock!

This isn’t your standard clock. Instead of batteries, it uses potatoes!

How does it work?

Batteries generate electricity through a chemical reaction between electrodes and an electrolyte. Many batteries use copper and zinc for the electrodes and sulfuric acid as the electrolyte. Potato juice contains phosphoric acid which also works as an electrolyte, but you could use other fruits or even vinegar as well.

You will need to replace the potatoes once in a while. Also, the zinc will dissolve as a side effect of the reaction, so the electrodes have a finite lifetime. Do not eat the potatoes afterward!

Buy the Potato Clock now!

Telescope Basics

Interested in buying a telescope?  Keep reading and we’ll give you what you need to know in less time than it takes to say “Schmidt-Cassegrain”.  Say what?

First, you may need to lower your expectations a bit: No matter what telescope you buy, you are not going to see things that look like pictures in magazines or on the internet.  Those photos were taken with long time exposures through very powerful telescopes, such as the Hubble.  The images were then color enhanced.  So that picture you saw in a magazine, in which Saturn, for example, appears huge with lots of detail is unlikely to be what you see through your consumer grade telescope.  Nevertheless, you can still see a great many things, and you will still be awestruck by your first view of Saturn’s rings or Jupiter’s moons through your new telescope!

OK, with that out of the way, there are only two main things to know about when purchasing a telescope: optics and mounting.

There are three types of optical systems: refracting, reflecting, and a combination of these called “catadioptric”.  Refracting telescopes are what you normally think of when you think of telescopes.  They have a glass lens at one end and an eyepiece at the other.  Reflecting telescopes,on the other hand, have an opening at the end, and a mirror at the other end which reflects light back up through the telescope to the eyepiece, which is near the opening at the top. You may also hear these types of telescopes referred to as “Newtonian reflectors.” A disadvantage of reflecting telescopes is that their barrel can be long, making them cumbersome and less portable.  Catadioptric telescopes combine the advantages of both refractors and reflectors, and have both lenses and mirrors, giving a powerful yet shorter and more portable telescope.

Regardless of the type of optics, the bigger the diameter of the lens or mirror, the more powerful the telescope is.  More power means better closeups of interesting astronomical features, such as planets or moons.

NOTE: To answer the question you may have asked at the top of this article, a Schmidt-Cassegrain is a catadioptric type of telescope.  Now you know!  Back to top.

Mountings come in basically two types: altazimuth and equatorial.  Altazimuth mountings are just a U-shaped fork, like a gun mount, that swings the telescope up and down (altitude ) and side to side (azimuth).  You are most likely to see these with a refracting telescope.  Some altazimuth mountings only have one arm, but the motion is the same.  Altazimuth mounts are simple and intuitive, and are a good choice for beginners.

Equatorial mountings are more complex and can be difficult for beginners to get used to.  The concept is that, once calibrated to your latitude, they more easily follow the apparent motion of astronomical objects through the sky.

Either type of mount can be powered, so they can automatically follow an object for hours once you have zeroed in on it.  This can be very useful for astrophotography.  Whichever type you choose, a stable mounting is very important! The mounting needs to dampen vibrations as much as possible.  Otherwise the image will dance all around, especially at higher magnifications, which can be very frustrating if you are viewing objects, and will make astrophotography impossible.

And there you have it.  Armed with the basics, you are ready to begin shopping!

Slide Rules Rule.

Hi, Geek Dad here.  Yes, you read that title right.  I know, I was a little surprised to find that they are still being made myself.  But as it says in the details, it is “The one and only slide rule currently manufactured!

There was a time — before calculators became small and inexpensive — that slide rules were very common.  I am old enough to remember using one in grade school.  But then, thanks in large part to the Apollo space program, electronics were miniaturized and calculators became common.

Which is a shame in a way, because with the slide rule’s analog approach to calculating, you could really develop a feel for numbers, something which still serves me well today.  Of course, digital provides the advantage of accuracy, but calculators really don’t allow you to feel the numbers the way a slide rule did.

Anyway, if you have an older Geek in your life, or are perhaps feeling a bit nostalgic, or if you are just curious, check out this slide rule.

And before you ask, no I don’t make the Geeklings use a slide rule.  I did drill them on their multiplication tables when they were younger, a fact for which they are profoundly grateful today — although they would never admit it!

Ladies, We Need to Talk.

Ladies, we need to talk.

Before we get started, you might want to send your Geek out of the room.

Are we alone? Good.

We need to discuss your Geek’s personal hygiene. Yes, you know as well as I do that he can use some help in that area. Allow me to make a few suggestions.

Let’s start with a mens bath set.

Then a grooming kit for men.

Once you get your Geek cleaned up and smelling good, it’s time to get him dressed. First, a shirt.

Pants next.

Finally, a belt, socks, and shoes.

There.  Doesn’t he look much better?  Now it’s date night!

Create an Amazon Wish List!

Geeks and Geekettes, this is for you. If you have your eye on something that you’re hoping someone will buy for you, let them know! Create a wish list on Amazon.

While you are on a product page, such as this one, just click the “add to wish list” button just under the “add to cart” button. If you don’t already have a wish list, it will be created automatically. It’s that simple!

By default, wish lists are public, but you can easily make them private. You can create multiple wish lists, add or remove items from the list and even add notes.

If you are shopping for a Geek or Geekette, rest assured: Their wish lists will be very easy to find. Just use the built-in search feature to search on their name or email.

Create your Amazon wish list now!

Trade in your old video games!

Are you drooling over a new game (like Metroid: Other M or Halo Reach) but just can’t afford it right now?  One option is to trade in your old games.  You can search for the games you’d like to trade in to see how much they’re worth.  Shipping is free, and you get an Amazon.com gift card deposited into your account.  Caution: As with everything in life, be sure to read the fine print.  Your games must be in good condition, with all components, such as the manual, included.

Get started with your trade in here: Amazon.com Video Games Trade-In.

Metroid: Other M for the Nintendo Wii

Two things Geeks are obsessed with are Sci-Fi and girls.  There is a game series out that embodies both: Metroid: Other M

Metroid: Other MA hardcore geek who is old enough remembers when the first Metroid game (Metroid, released in 1986 by Ninetendo) and knows the secret of the enigmatic bounty hunter Samus Aran: Samus is a girl. Although this is not visible in many of the games, some, like Metroid Prime Series, make this apparent by allowing you to see into the visor of her Power Suit (in the other games, if you remember, you have to die to make the secret apparent).  Very little has been revealed about Samus’ past or what she’s really like, but hopefully this game will change that.  Metroid: Other M takes place almost immediately after the events of Super Metroid, with the intent of displaying Samus in a more human light.  For those who are true fans of the series, or just Samus, this is the game for you!  Only for the Nintendo Wii.

By the way, it’s slated to be released on August 31st.  Get it the day it comes out!