What’s a geek gotta do to get a cheap BlackBerry Q10?

I really want a BlackBerry Q10. But I don’t want to pay $200 for it.

I have a Torch 9810 and love it, except for one part: the camera. It’s not good. Every image I take is filled with grainy-ness that I can’t correct or clear. Seriously, check out this picture of some badass salsa verde:

Looks decent, right? Look at all the background noise. Then look at how the same noise is front and center is a well-lit shot. It’s obscured because of the salsa’s yummy tomatillos, but like Waldo, you can’t unsee it once you’ve seen it.

The BlackBerry Q10 doesn’t have that problem. It has a decent 8 megapixel camera with high dynamic range. It’s pics will never top what the Galaxy S3 can take, but at least it will have quality.

I stick with BlackBerry for the keyboard, built-in PDA functionality, keyboard, ease of texting and emailing, keyboard, keyboard, high degree of customization and keyboard. That’s why I covet the Q10 so much yet remain non-plussed by the Z10. But finding a working demo in Joplin is tough. I had to go to the AT&T store to test one. Best Buy can’t tell if they are getting any.

Because I’m a cheapskate, I don’t usually pay more than $50 for a phone. I’m OK with signing service contracts, and I don’t mind waiting for good tech — I don’t have to have the latest hotness right now. But my desire to take pictures that won’t get me laughed off or scorned off the Internet is pretty strong.

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Twelve years later: Event redefined meaning of being American

Copied from my Facebook page:

Twelve years ago: I was editor of the Nixa News-Enterprise, the best MPA General Excellence award-winning newspaper to get crap-canned and transformed into a free circular. It was Tuesday — deadline day before Wednesday’s edition, and I was finishing up the final layout of the front page. It had a story about leaky sewer issues north of Nixa and how development was stalled up there. Then the planes started hitting. Too late to do anything. We put the paper to bed then I took off to the high school to get reactions. My big scoop didn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.

In the months afterward, I watched my Representatives obliterate the Constitution with the USA Patriot Act — in the name of patriotism. At the same time, I watched my neighbors get closer and more appreciative of police officers, firefighters and ambulance workers — also in the name of patriotism. For me, that day redefined what it means to be American.

My condolences to those who lost loved ones that day; my appreciation to the people who would, knowing what happened, run right back into those burning buildings.

Video game logic: ‘Bioshock Infinite’

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Yes. You can change pants in midair. With one hand holding on to your skyhook. This is better than eating food mid-battle in “Skyrim.”

Hummus is delicious

Really, it is.

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This gif was made with Face to GIF.

Crafty work: Homemade close-up pad feels better than it looks

This is my close-up pad. There are many like it but this one is mi– WAIT, there are none like it, because I made this one.

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It measures 24-by-12 inches, so I have good length for spreads but not a lot of wasted depth. It is large enough to give me ample room for a great table spread, or for some of the table effects I do.

I have a love-meh relationship with that surface material. The chessboard look is kinda cool. The dark squares are a “short-haired” velvet, the lighter ones are the un-velvet-covered fabric which looks like a very thin pleather. Because the squares are smaller, there’s a slight distortion created that helps hide things, too. Keeps eyeballs just a bit buzzed, so if I’m off placing a double as a single, I get a little bit of forgiveness. PLus, I was just told it looks kind of like a carbon-fiber surface, and that sounds bad-a**.

For all the meh about its looks, the surface feels awesome. Gives me a perfect slide and grip. LOVE IT.

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The innards are a double layer of fleece (thanks for that idea, Irving Quant) and a 24-by-12 piece of balsa wood. Underneath is a hot mess of staples and a foam rubber surface for grip.

Equality = triumph

equality, triumph, magician, cards

This is my take on the red equality logo started by Human Rights Campaign. I used an LTD deck from Ellusionist and red posterboard. Shot with my great-for-a-consumer-model-according-to-T.Rob Nikon D5100.

Magicians should recognize exactly how this is a triumph.

Road to nowhere: Lap confirms ‘Realm of the Mad God’ theory about zones of difficulty

For as long as I’ve played “Realm of the Mad God,” I’ve had a theory about the game’s roads: I’ve thought they marked sections of increasing difficulty. And because when a player first enters a realm they start on the edges of the island, next to water, I’ve suspected that the roads take laps around each realm.

I decided to walk it out and test that theory (I probably could have easily confirmed it by looking up a map or talking to someone, but what fun is that?) by hiking a lap. I started out as a wizard and packed a Slayer Staff, Flame Burst Spell, Robe of the Conjurer and Ring of Superior Vitality. All these were collected from previous lives (this game is a very Hindu game, after all — what we do in this life prepares us for the next), obviously, because the pickins were never very good, outside of health and magic potions.
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Man of Steal: Trailer for rising superhero uses ode to fallen wizard

“You… shall not… use my death music for yet another reboot of yet another superhero movie!”

We’ll talk more about “The Dark Knight Rises,” because that was an amazing movie. For one thing, it put cops in a really good light, but elaborating on that would be dancing with spoilers. Still, I wanted to call the cops during the trailers before that movie, for music theft.

It happened during the preview for “Man of Steel,” the Superman reboot coming from “Watchmen” director Zack Snyder. As you watch this trailer, listen to the music:

Sound familiar? Remind you of sad hobbits? It should:

“Man of Steel” used “The Bridge of Khazad-dûm,” an orchestral piece composed by Howard Shore for “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.” It plays as the fellowship escape a horde of orcs, dance across a crumbling bridge, dodge arrows and escape a balrog. Almost everyone: Gandalf clinging for his life off the side of a bridge thanks to an extremely lucky whipstroke, tells the rest of those fools to fly, then falls. Because the hobbits in the fellowship hadn’t seen “The Two Towers” yet, they didn’t know that Gandalf put a hurt on that huge hellbeast, so they were kind of depressed.

As if you couldn’t tell how sad everyone was, Shore composed arguably one of the most heartbreaking sequences of music ever composed. (Jump to about 4:42 for the good stuff.) The phrase is about 1:20 long and puts a sadness in you that two hours of Greg Edmonson couldn’t match. Director Peter Jackson brilliantly hit the mute button and kept Shore’s music running, smartly silencing the sound of sniveling, sniffling hobbits.

In a nutshell: It’s not like the “Man of Steel” trailer lifted a piece of classical music. It used a piece of music specifically made for one of literature’s most recognized scenes. Sure, the trailer makers probably had the rights. But it ain’t right.

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Singer’s pitch down, but energy up on Passion Pit’s new album

While I’m not a fan of most pop music, I’m a sucker for indie pop. Foster the People, OK Go, Sleigh Bells, Joe Hedges, MGMT — I could listen to all those bands all day and not miss prog-rock much.

File Passion Pit in with that group. The band’s second full-length album, “Gossamer,” is slated for release on Tuesday. Thanks to NPR streaming it on its site, I’ve preordered the album on iTunes to get a bonus track.

While Michael Angelakos continues to use his almost signature falsetto, the notes aren’t as high as they usually are. In fact, I don’t think he hits any notes higher than the ones in “Make Light,” from “Manners.” The lower notes make the songs on Gossamer feel evolved and more cohesive.

Much like its first album, “Gossamer” is driven by keyboards and samples, and features a charged, energetic pace that masks some of the pensive, morose lyrics. There’s some clever passages, too, in a style reminiscent of “Sleepyhead” — again from the first album. But there are many more influences, including some Imogen Heap-style engineered harmonies, some Modest Mouse marching mirth and even some throwbacks to R&B slow jams.

“Take a Walk,” the album’s opener, is an anthemic testament to aging, if such a subject can be anthemic. But I’ve played that song more times than I can count. I also like the hectic sampling in “I’ll Be Alright,” the power choruses in “Constant Conversations” and the layers in “Mirrored Sea.” There’s a lot of variety and gear-changing in “Gossamer,” giving the album a lot of replay value. And each song features a myriad of musical lines that will keep sharp-eared listeners discovering new things for months.

Fans have been waiting for this album for three years; it’s worth the wait.

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Purveyors of carcinogens release addicting playing cards

Here’s a quiz for you: What do these three sets of playing cards have in common?

As much as I detest cigarettes, and the companies that make them, those companies made some killer decks of cards. Each of these sets is a promotional item from well known cigarette brands. Most promotional decks feature simply the brand and logo of a certain smoke; the handling and quality is nothing special. But these three decks stand out for their unique design and superb handling.

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