From the category archives:


An online marketing guy by profession, one of the most integral metrics I have to keep an eye on is known as keyword referral traffic. Namely, what people are typing into search engines before ending up on a given site. And Jiminy Crickets – those keywords can get weird.

nerderyPye in the Face has been around for over a decade now, and there are thousands of posts, galleries, tags and categories capable of pulling in organic traffic from Google, Bing, etc. Most of which I’ll regret during my next job search. Through the magic of reporting software which crunches and parses log files – My tool of choice is the awesome and free Google Analytics – you can not only see what keywords are generating traffic but what search engine and which one of your pages the visitor is landing on. You can also see what country they’re from, what time of day they visited, what operating system they’re using, what browser. It’s incredibly deep, fascinating and addictive. When I first started building websites I’d check these sorts of stats fanatically – but my favorite was always, and remains, the keyword referrals.

Obviously, everyone with a website wants it to rank well in Google for a specific set of keywords. The power of big G is incredible. Fortunes are literally won and lost every time their algorithm, which determines how sites rank for a given keyword or phrase, undergoes a major update. If you sell “pink roller skates” and are #1 on Monday for that term, you’re laughing. Book a trip and start pricing jetskis. If, when you get to the warehouse on Tuesday, you’ve dropped to #39 – you’re out of business. That quickly. Better sell that jetski to Kenny Powers.

kenny-powers-jetskiKenny has actually had multiple liasons on jetskis.

Ranking well for mission-critical keywords is, well, mission-critical. A website has the potential to rank and draw traffic, however, for any combination of keywords which appear within the code of their site. It’s also important to note that the terms comprising a multi-word search phrase don’t have to appear on a site in the same order. They don’t all even have to appear in the same paragraph. If the potential for ridiculousness isn’t sinking in by now, it should be.

If there isn’t a ton of competition for a phrase which has somehow worked its way into your site’s copy one might find themselves on Google’s first page within a few hours of that text’s addition. Sites with regularly updated blogs especially can start ranking for hundreds – nay, thousands – of terms over the course of a few years. This is definitely the case with Pye in the Face (Last month people used 1,570 different keywords to find the site), and without prattling on about this nerdy stuff any longer I’m going to share my…

5 Favorite Phrases Drew Traffic for in August 2011

1. Florence Welch Bum: Florence may have her machine but she’s also in possession of a breathtaking caboose. I admit, when I featured her on Wednesday Wadio a little over a year ago I took screenshots of the best examples from the band’s video and named the resulting images “florence-youve-got-the-love-ass-video-bum.jpg” and “florence-and-the-machines-ass-butt.jpg” respectively. It was a sad, misguided experiment, but a very successful one. My site is #1 in Google (your local results may vary for everything on the list) for the aforementioned term and pulled in 6 visitors last month. It’s also the top entry in Google’s image search. Traffic also came in for florence and machine bum, and a guy named Dan actually left 2 comments looking for more Welch booty. If I roll the data back to cover an entire year, that article pulled in over a hundred visitors using 84 different keyword variations including: florence welch arse, florence welch hindquarters… butt, ass, shake, buttocks and bottom. This data is embarrassing, sad and doesn’t paint me in a particularly flattering light – but that doesn’t make it any less frickin’ fascinating.

2. Bobby McFerrin Raped my Grandmother: When Alec Baldwin hosted SNL 5 years ago he uttered this phrase during a particularly hilarious skit which you can can’t see below. I jump around on Google’s first page for the phrase, and 2 people found me using by using it last month. Since I wrote the article way back in November 2006, 65 people have typed it in before paying me a visit. I can only pray they were looking for that sketch and Bobby McFerrin isn’t being sought somewhere for questioning.

3. Bunkhouse Cock Buddies: Upon seeing traffic from this term I typed it into Google to see which post of mine could possibly be ranking for it. I went about 5 pages deep through the site results before giving up. Nothing. Then I tried image search – and sweet God in heaven do I wish I could take that back. All the therapy and bleach in the world will never erase that sight from my poor mind. Please take my word for it.

4. Does the Interrogator in the Movie Unthinkable Cut the Terrorist’s Penis Off?: The Unthinkable made an impression on me and I think my review of the Samuel L. Jackson flick holds up. I’m glad I took my time writing it because since it was published on May 28th of last year the post has pulled in an amazing 500+ people via Google and become one of my highest-viewed articles ever. I never mentioned the terrorist’s penis.

5. I’m Going to Die Alone with a Plethora of Cats: Is this someone “calling their shot”? Are they looking for a support group? Regardless, this is a great example of how different words from different areas on a site can combine causing a website show up for a bizarre search. I ranked #6 for this term and the landing page is for one of my categories. Over the course of the 10 articles which appear in this category, I mention cats, dying alone and use the word “plethora” in different posts – hence the ranking. Try to explain the ranking away as I might, I’ll still probably have my face eaten off by a cat days before my neighbors notice the smell.

Sorry, folks, if this all got a bit lengthy. After such a long period of irregular and sporadic writing I must have a lot of flexing to do. I hope you enjoyed all this disturbing data and I do believe I’ll make referral analysis a regular feature. A profoundly disturbing regular feature.


I’m Calling Kutcherbusters

by Dave on February 22, 2011

in Movies,Nerdery

Friends, Romans, countrymen. Listen to me very carefully. I was just directed towards a truly awful rumor by my favorite movie blog. Are you sitting down? I mean it. Take a seat, a deep breath and possibly a Xanax before reading any further.

Rumors of Ghostbusters 3 have been as persistent as rumors about the existence of actual ghosts. And now there’s evidence for an even scarier notion: Ashton Kutcher playing one of the leads.

We, as rational human beings and children of the 80s, can never let this happen. Never. Now, I’m not a radical, a bra-burner or one prone to protest. Until my mid-twenties, I thought that “activism” was the company who brought us Pitfall and River Raid. But I’ve got a petition on the brain. Petitions got Betty White on SNL, Jonathan Winters exposed to a new generation of unworthy fans and they can do wonders for a third ancient and long-suffering throwback – the Ghostbusters franchise. And by “do wonders” I of course mean “keep an already risky venture from becoming a guaranteed cinematic disaster the likes of Ishtar or Howard the Duck”.

Editor’s Note: I am a fan of both Ishtar and Howard the Duck. That doesn’t change the fact they shat the bed at the box office and are readily accepted by sheep who’ve never seen them as two of the worst movies of all time. Back to our regularly scheduled nerdery…

kutcherbustersI’m not going to try and act cool or pretend I’m kidding anyone who knows me. I’d love to see a new Ghostbusters film and I’ve even written about it before. It’s going to happen, with or without Bill Murray, and I do not want to see it fail. According to IMDB, some returning stars are already confirmed (Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis) and there are rumors of several exciting new additions (Bill Hader, Anna Faris). And, even though I’m disgusted, concerned and hyperventilating as a result of his Kutcher-related comments in the video above (as playful as they may have seemed), original director Ivan Reitman seems gung-ho for a return to Ghostly glory.

Mr. Reitman, please. Kutcher’s already demonstrated a penchant for dating marrying women dramatically older than himself. Don’t encourage him to whip out his proton pack and take it one sick step further. Busting ghosts might lead to banging them.

I’ll be watching this production carefully, folks. So you don’t have to. Because you have lives. Stay tuned for what might be my biggest topical dork-fest since the leadup to summer 2008’s return of a certain archaeologist. Dare to dream. Alone in bed.


Best & Worst Indiana Jones Costumes

by Dave on October 30, 2010

in Movies,Nerdery

imageI’m dusting off the fedora tonight for a Halloween costume which has evolved and improved considerably since the first time I decided to dress up as Indiana Jones 3 years ago. Granted, I took last year off in favor of a Predator costume – which just so happened to win first prize – but you can’t be Dr. Jones all the time. That would be exhausting. In addition to incredibly sad.

My 2010 additions include: Replicas of the Staff of Ra headpiece, the Hovitos fertility idol and a Sankara Stone all tucked neatly, and extremely heavily, away in a MK2 WW2 gas mask bag just like the one Jr. wears in the classic films. It should be noted that nowhere in said bag does there exist a female date for tonight’s party. Perhaps that didn’t need notation.

I think that if you up the ante considerably with improvements to a “timeless” costume the way I like to with my Indy ensemble it’s OK to wear it every other year or so. If you’re a Halloweenie who likes to stay trendy and in-the-moment, you can go join the undoubtedly enormous group of folks who’ll be dressing up as Snooki and Pauly D. this year. And then fist-pump yourself betwixt the buttocks.

My costume is pretty tight – I mean that in both senses of the word – but I’m not the first, best or worst to have ever donned this adventurer’s gay apparel. I was able to find a few individuals who could, however, rank well at both ends of the spectrum. See if you can tell which is which.


Doing Indiana Proud
Indiana John” founded a great website for the true enthusiast which not only discusses the actual movie props/costumes in great historical detail, but also helps everyday movie-nerds such as myself get their hands on said sacred stuff. His personal costume has the whole look nailed, from the dark brown color of the jacket right on down to the slightly too-high pant legs. I wanna Halloween party with this guy. Just not on one of the years I’m wearing my own walking tribute.



Pleats Release Me
There’s more than a few things glaringly wrong here – the least of which might be the Medic Alert bracelet. Trying to picture a Nazi standing over anyone announcing, “Give him some air – he’s an epileptic!” … just takes me right out of the mood. And the pleats in the wrinkly pants make me think that one of the red dot stops on this guy’s iconic Indy movie map must have been a T.J. Maxx “irregular” bin. Know your history, Mr. George Clooney look-alike, or you’re doomed to repeat it.



Something, Something… we Have a Problem
Were this meant to be a Matt Houston costume he’d have my vote for first prize. If Indy had ever been scripted as nipple-tortured by a nymphomaniac member of the Guardian Angels – again I’d be a huge proponent of this guy. As it stands, do your fucking shirt up.



A Royal Raider
It looks like Prince Charles decided to complement son Harry’s recent Nazi costume with a little Jones of his own. And look – he finally found a use for that plastic belt he hadn’t worn since 8th grade graduation. I don’t know if that’s makeup on his face or if he was brutally battered on his way in from the parking lot. What I do know is that part of a good Indy costume should be the ability to fight off Girl Guides. Not my favorite example but at least he’s standing next to a sexy Thundercat which is more than I’ll be able to claim.

Play safe this evening, folks, unlike I did a year ago tonight when I totalled my car on the way home from the aforementioned costume-contest victory. Somehow that $25 gift certificate ceased to seem quite as cool when I woke up and saw my mangled whip in the cold light of day. It’s a lot easier to navigate when you’re wearing a fedora as opposed to a giant rubber Predator mask, so I’ve got that going for me in 2010. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Somewhere the ghost of Steve McQueen was surely thinking, “A little late on the brakes, kid.” And also very likely, “You’re going to die alone, nerd”. Happy Halloween!


… Let me count the ways. Much to my sister and her boyfriend’s chagrin I brought my PS3 down from Canada with me and have been thoroughly enjoying it most nights after we all return to the Charlestown house from our respective jobs. Sometimes I can get it to function as a media center, wirelessly streaming the many movies I have on my laptop and playing them through the gaming console. It’s quite cool. But more often than not it skips too much to be watchable… so a gaming console it tends to remain. On these occasions there tends to be heated discussion on who gets to do what, but if I have to sit through the Real Housewives of Orange County a couple times a week, Janet and Damo can surely suffer my ongoing rivalry with the Portland Pirates a time or two.

The reason I brought the Playstation 3 with me is because, well, I’ve loved video games since the first time I ever played one, probably 32 years ago. To say I was an early adopter would be a major understatement. I was playing Adventure on a terminal my Dad had hooked up to a 7-foot-tall mainframe in his workshop at the age of 4. I remember a campground in the very early 80’s that had an arcade with Space Invaders, Defender, Sub Hunt and a few other pioneering hunks of fun. My friend Oliver wins the prize for the first home system I ever played, which was a combination of pong and a light gun target game with abysmal accuracy. The Atari 2600 and Commodore Vic 20 came along soon afterwards and pretty soon my obsession turned to Pitfall and the text adventure games of Scott Adams, The Count being my favorite, even though I never managed to finish it.

Fast-forward another year and I was writing my own games on my Vic using basic and well… you get the point. Considering the era in which I grew up, and who my father and Uncle were, I think that if I didn’t still have any affinity for video games – there’d be something far more wrong with me. That’s what I keep telling myself each morning when I wake up next to two Boston Terriers, at any rate.

Time has marched on mercilessly, as it does, and my current pixelly fascination is the latest version of Electronic Art’s juggernaut, NHL 2010, or NHL10 as it’s been branded. 16 years ago I beat every kid in Mills Hall at the University of Guelph in an NHL ‘92 tournament that someone set up. We chose to use 92 as opposed to 93 or 94 because more kids were familiar with it and I went through my competitors like… I should probably wrap this post up about now while I still might sleep with a woman again someday. My point is, I have a long history with the franchise.

Marco and I enthusiastically trying out the new first-person fighting feature the day of the game’s release back in September 2009.

So this post isn’t a complete informational bust for folks who may have found it via a search engine, here are my favorite bits from NHL10 – all of which have to do with the new “Be a Pro” mode.

  • In “Be a Pro” mode you start on an AHL team (currently the Providence Bruins for me) and have to prove yourself in order to make it up to the show.
  • At the conclusion of every shift your coach provides bullet points in a popup window of what you did well and what you need to work on. “Good positioning out there. Keep firing them at the net. You picked a good time to start a fight and get the team’s energy up but you have to hold your own.”
  • Speaking of fighting, it’s in first-person perspective for the first time ever and it’s a heck of a lot of fun. I’m getting better, and win the odd fight, but it’s been hard to master thus far.
  • I love the fact that if you set the style to “Authentic” if you’re in the penalty box, or even just resting on the bench, your viewpoint switches to first-person and you have to turn your head back and forth to keep your eye on the action like you’re at Wimbleton.

A super game, and well done to Electronic Arts. Who else has played it? With the strength of EA’s offering this year, is it even worth renting the competition’s 2K10? Sound off, my hockey nerds of the evening. I know you’re out there.


ipad-steve-jobs “It comes with 16 GB for $499. No, 3G is $130 extra. Yes, I know it’s on the large size and doesn’t do anything the iTouch can’t. Who the fuck let me walk out here thinking this was a good idea? You know I’m on a shitload of meds.”


Thou Shalt Not Herniate

by Dave on January 27, 2010

in Nerdery

When looking at the specs for the new Apple iPad today, the first words to pop into my head were, “Holy Moses, that thing looks big.” The first image that popped into my head also had a lot to do with Moses. Uncanny, that. I whipped up a quick Photoshop (or Fireworks if we’re splitting hairs) for my coworkers and I thought I’d share it here.

Moses with an iPad

“Let my people synch with Outlook!”

Aren’t I just the silliest goose? I have trouble envisioning even big goons like me carting them around – but Apple rarely gets it wrong. Glad to be back, by the way. If you’ll have me.


I read about this recent Indiana Jones Marathon in Santa Monica (Appropriate since Harrison Ford has his own private hangar at the Santa Monica airport,) and was pleasantly surprised when, unbeknownst to me, my friend Sean not only attended but took the time to send me a photo he snuck of one of the sacred movie prop relics on display. He also wrote to describe the event and although Harry didn’t how up and start whipping the front row screaming “Get a life, would you people? It’s just a movie!”, I thought I’d share this pentultimate popular culture experience here on PITF.

“Dave – The picture below I took for you for you because you couldn’t be there to join in. I spent 7 hours in a seat watching Indy 1 through 3 last night at the Aero Theater here in Santa Monica. Just out of camera range below this was the broken stone tablet prop and matching shield from Indy 3 that tells Indy how to get to Alexandretta.

staff-of-ra-propIn this picture is the actual Staff of Ra headpiece prop used in the shot in the “Well of Souls” when Indy puts the staff into the correct slot and the beam of light hits the resting place of the ark. The gem in the middle of this piece is actually amber in color but was colored red in the editing because a red gem didn’t show well in the original shot. (if you watch the original film cut, the jewel is red at first, then as it seats, is amber for a spit second as the light hits it and then is red again) The larger version that Marion wears as a medallion in Nepal and then is later examined by the wise man in the “bad dates” scene is about a third larger than this one and is now on display at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

This is the piece they also shot a green laser through to define the SFX beam on the floor model of Tanis . Then they enhanced the laser to an amber color as the glowing sun beam that blinds the audience when Indy locates the spot where the ark is buried. It is owned by Richard Edlund , the VFX supervisor for Indy 1. Edlund was one of the guests at the showing.

Rumor has it that this same headpiece once resided on Lucas’ mantelpiece along with the Mercedes Benz truck ornament that Indy snapped off the truck in the famous “out-the-windshield” scene at the Skywalker Ranch until he gave it to Edlund as a birthday present years later when he retired from the day to day business at ILM .

Fortune & glory, kid. Fortune & glory. – Sean”

Coincidently I recently forced several uninitiated folk to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time a few weeks ago (young ‘uns. Go figure). Unless I was being completely messed with – they were blown away and could not believe they’d wasted their lives so far watching summer movie tripe like Transformers. It felt good. My ridiculously large DVD collection and I will always be here for the youth of Ontario.


Let’s “face” it – since the mass influx of Facebook into our collective worlds, having a blog isn’t such a big deal anymore. Maybe it never was to anyone with a girlfriend. Likewise, having a Flickr account isn’t such a big deal anymore. Making an Evite seems like an enormous extra step. Why would you join an old-fashioned forum when you can just search for a related group? It’s an incredible, incredible (I hate to say the word) phenomenon the likes of which we won’t see again for a long time.

That having been said I know there are a lot of readers, or former readers, I might just win back one day when I increase the frequency of my posting who do not use FB and definitely never will. I was reminded of this last week when I received an email from my buddy Taz in Germany to let me know that 5 years after the last time I saw him in person – he’s still reading regularly, and what am I up to? That got me thinking. Got me optimistic and inspired. Tingly in the pants.

The first step of my long-overdue comeback will be to update my galleries – exported from Facebook using an incredible WordPress plugin which is probably my favorite add-on of all time. I pray that Mr. Harp never stops updating and evolving this wonderful tool and I encourage you to donate some money if you end up using it. I have, and I may again someday. On to the galleries…

  • Mobile Uploads: These are photos I take with my iPhone. Possibly through your bedroom window. Keep an eye on this one.
  • Summer is Upon Us: Miscellaneous photos not falling on big holiday weekends. Lots of unfortunate evidence from Duck’s Roadhouse.
  • Bonnie’s Memorial Weekend: We sent Mom off in style and over 100 people traveled from as far away as Florida to wish her a fitting bon voyage.
  • Straight Outta Storage: Whilst going through my parent’s things I’ve found a treasure trove of funny family photos. I be scanning and yes, there are bathtub photos for the pedophile crowd.
  • April Flowers: Includes my attempt at a St. Patrick’s Day party and shots of the brand new man-cave in use for the first time.
  • Canada Day 2009: Half the fam-damily joined me for fireworks and lots of silly fun and silliness.
  • July 4th 2009: Jason and Jim came up for a weekend of Canadian revelry and brought more duty free vodka with them than I’ve ever seen in one place.
  • Kim and Gooch’s Wedding : People told me I had a good time. Congrats to the happy couple and thanks for the skidoo.

That’s my last 4 months or so in pictures, and I sincerely hope you enjoy them. It’s been a wonderful summer so far, and if you’re a friend of mine I seriously encourage you to drop me a line and come up for a visit. If you have any questions, comments or the number of a good rehab facility – please leave them below.


This isn’t some kind of virus alarm but it’s still a big dork deal. Especially if you’re a massive tool like I am. Apple released the latest version of the iPhone’s software today and it contains a ton of cool new – and useful – features that you don’t have to buy the new iPhone (released tomorrow) in order to get.

When I read all of the new phone’s features earlier this week, having just purchased the current one a little over a months ago, buyer’s remorse immediately set in. “Damn it – I should have waited.” As my local copy of iTunes automatically began downloading the 230 MB update a few minutes ago, that remorse was replaced with joy. A window popped up listing what was new in the update for current iPhone owners. I quickly realized nearly all of the new features I bemoaned not waiting to purchase so I could enjoy are included in this very software update for current and older models. Well raise my rent!

Here are the additions I’m particularly interested in adding to my productivity/silliness arsenal, and you can click through to a full list as there are many more I don’t give a fig about.

  • Cut, Copy & Paste with shake to undo
    Not being able to copy and paste has been a real headache for me. This is at the top of my “thank fuck” list. The shake option will also be perfect for days when you long for your old Etch-o-Sketch.
  • Landscape keyboard in key applications
    I have large frigging fingers. Enough said. Thank heavens for this addition.
  • Enhanced Messages application
    Send and receive photos, contacts, audio files, and location via MMS.
    I gotta tell you, it was weird to shell out for the iPhone and not be able to do simple things like take a picture and text it to a friend like you’d been able to do for years with regular cell phones.
    Forward and delete single or multiple messages
    Don’t you miss having texts forwarded to you by friends writing to other friends “in confidence”? Or drunkenly forwarding something personal to the wrong person? Happy days are here again.
  • Spotlight search across iPhone
    This new tool allows you to search Mail, Contacts Calendar, Notes and iPod tracks simultaneously. I can’t yet envision how this may be useful, unless you’re a big fan of Elvis Costello and he also owes you money, but I’m willing to fiddle around and find out.

The Best New 3G iPhone Apps.

There you have it, and my list doesn’t mention about 100 brand new applications, also being launched today, which take advantage of the more technical upgrades. Personally, I can’t wait for iShitPants (see the video). If you’re an iPhone owner – get updating.


iPhone: My First Week as a Proud Owner

by Dave on April 28, 2009

in Nerdery

Apple, how I loathe thee, let me count the ways. It’s been exactly seven days since I traveled to Kingston, bit the bullet and bought an iPhone. As a long time PC guy and legacy Blackberry fan it was a tough decision but admittedly – I in no way regret it. What a wonderful little piece of gadgety goodness. Here are some of my initial thoughts after a week of use.

General iPhone Observations

  • I’ll start with my very favorite feature – voicemail. With my Blackberry and every other cell phone I’ve ever owned I hated having to call in, enter a password and then listen to 17 voicemails on Sunday morning which went something like “Hi, this is Skip. But you probably know that cause my name will be in your call log. Anyway, just wanted to call you and see what you were up to. Call me back, but it’s in no way important and I shouldn’t have even left this stupid, redundant message. Bye.” On the iPhone voicemail callers are presented in a list as buttons, and you can listen to delete them in any order without having to enter a password! There is also a “speaker” button at the top right of the voicemail screen which allows you to listen to said messages without even having to put the phone up to your ear. I love this!
  • The call quality and volume is always top-notch, and I’ve yet to drop a signal or ask someone to repeat themselves. But then again, Mushmouth doesn’t call me anymore.
  • I bought an accompanying headset which is great for the car, never getting laid again and lying on the couch without the strength or motivation to sit up and grab your phone. It synchs seamlessly with the iPhone as soon as you switch it on and you can answer calls by tapping the top of it. It’s also very subtle so I’m not going to look like a complete iTard. Operative word there being “complete”.
  • It’s nice to have a camera on my phone again and I look forward to using it with Facebook and TwitPic to share my silly adventures. I’m hoping to find a WordPress plugin that can auto-post to the blog as well. There’s no flash and it only works well in bright areas but I can live with that.
  • The UI is terrific, with nothing but a touch screen and solitary button to worry about. The screen keypad takes some getting used to, but after a week my speed and accuracy has improved dramatically. I do, however, type in landscape mode whenever possible.
  • Email is definitely decent with the ability to separate different POP accounts into multiple inboxes. Currently I’m running everything into GMail and then over to the phone using IMAP to save on data transfer costs. I have yet to come up with the ideal workflow for the email, but I’m getting there. I am seriously considering abandoning Outlook altogether and using Google Mail, Calendar and their respective Remember the Milk plugins for all business processes. This is a scary jump to make but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s the way to go.

iPhone Application Ruminations

  • Landscape is an app which allows you to write emails and texts using the landscape keyboard layout. This is excellent for fat-fingered behemoths like myself who cry themselves to sleep with a melted dollop of Ben & Jerry’s on their chest every night, pining for their Blackberrys.
  • Smacktalk consists of nothing else but a series of animals (guinea pig, terrier, kitten, chihuaua) who repeat whatever you say to them in a high pitched voice. When I visited my father at the hospital last week he laughed his head off, which is rare. This one is obviously going to be huge with children and dementia patients.
  • Dad’s favorite app, however, was definitely Galaga – where the classic 80’s arcade game is recreated on the phone with startling accuracy, right down to the soundtrack. I hope to see a lot of other old games brought back to life in this way. May I suggest Spy Hunter?
  • VoiceNote is another app I’ve used a lot over the last week. When I think of something that needs to be done and I don’t have one of my trusty notebooks in front of me I simply open it up and record the note to be captured somewhere later. Simple, but great for disciples of GTD such as myself.
  • Facebook kind of goes without saying, as does the Tweetie app. Good integration with these popular websites/enormous wastes of time.
  • Fex pulls all my friend’s profile photos out of Facebook and assigns them automatically to corresponding names in my iPhone address book. Not entirely necessary, but very neat!
  • Chordmaster shows you the fingering for any guitar chord you can imagine and also plays an example when you strum the screen. You can also use it to properly tune your mighty rock axe.
  • The Google app lets me check email, calendar, RSS feeds, documents and every other major tool that they offer under a Google account. It tends to be so slow that I don’t use it much, but hey – I live in the damn woods. Maybe this one will get more use in civilization.

Those are the applications I’ve installed and used so far. I would love to hear about your favorites. No doubt there are several hundred I haven’t gotten to yet. If you have any iPhone app recommendations please leave them in the comments. Jesus, I love technology. It’s an amazing time to be alive.


Rags to Riches: A C64 Anomaly

by Dave on January 16, 2009

in Nerdery

About 7 years ago, on what I imagine must have been a particularly lonely Saturday night, I not only discovered a website devoted to old Commodore 64 games but stuck around long enough to actually write a review of one of my favorites: Rags to Riches. I have been getting emails from other retro nerds as a result ever since. Yes, I have become a font of knowledge concerning all things related to this odd little game about, you guessed it, a homeless person.

rags to riches
A “homeless” video game in the mid-80s? Actually, that’s completely appropriate.

How anyone ever came up with the premise for Rags to Riches during the prehistoric C64 gaming era is beyond me. This title stands out because it is simply the most original game I have ever played. The usual collection of space aliens, fast cars, ninjas, warlocks and helicopters are replaced by a pathetic drunken tramp wandering the city streets in search of a better life.

To this day I still wonder how this game came about. There was nothing remotely like it during the C64 era and when I got the umpteenth email tonight from someone wishing to ask me a question about the game, I decided to dig a little deeper. Afterall, the name of the guy who wrote it, Bob Keener, is readily visible on the game’s splash screen. Who is this Bob Keener, and is he still involved in video game development nearly 25 years later? I really hope so as I am already sufficiently impressed with his imagination.

I really didn’t expect to find that much on the subject. Little did I know that both the game, and Bob Keener, both have their own Wikipedia entries. This confirms what I’ve known since 2002 when I began getting related emails in my old Hotmail account – R2R (as I believe it would be called were it re-released today) has an impressive cult following. Hardly surprising though given it’s multi-layered complexity which once again I have to point out was extraordinary on a machine and in an age where embarrassingly pixilated (by today’s standards) dragons, spaceships, ghosts and wizards were the norm. From Wikipedia – seriously, read this:

rags to riches video game
Straight out the front door of the jail at 7am. – If I had a nickel…

An alcohol, food/rest, and two education meters indicate the player’s current status. If both the alcohol level and food/rest level reach zero, the player dies and the game ends. Restaurants, fast food outlets, and convenience stores offer the player nourishment, with price depending on the establishment; there is also a soup kitchen in which a filling meal is available for free. Some stores have limited opening hours displayed on store windows and others are open at all hours. At night, it is usually advisable that the player find accommodation such as a hotel room, ranging in price from $2 per night to $40 per week; the food/rest levels deplete twice as fast during night time. Drinking alcohol is an inexpensive means of staying alive; however, the player cannot gain employment while affected.

This game kept you thinking the whole way through – sure I can save myself by topping off my Alcohol Meter, but I’m supposed to show up for work in 2 hours at the gas station. Can I get all the way to the soup kitchen before my Food Meter runs out? It was all about thinking ahead and timing – not frenetically mashing keys or joystick buttons. So who is the man behind this frankly revolutionary game? I had to know.

Neither Bob Keener or the Melody Hall Publishing Corporation’s Wiki entries had any information. Most references I found to the company name were pages requesting more information. It’s obviously been defunct for many years. As far as Bob Keener’s presence within the Google results is concerned, however, WOW – there are a lot of them out there. A couple of professors, a woodworker, a gent from Boston who looks like he might be the right age, dancers, actors and more. I emailed a few of them in the hopes I might get lucky and find the man behind the dusty top hat. Was he right out of college when he wrote the game or someone much further along in their programming career? If he one day stumbles across this article I hope he takes the time to say hello because I’d love to write a follow up of some sort. A “Behind the 80’s Video Game” for the nerderati.

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Do they sell beer at this Quicki-Mart or is this the Canadian version of the game?

I am happy to see that for most searches my review outranks the Wiki entry, so perhaps it’s only fitting to close this post with a quote from that impeccable piece of writing:

Despite hours of trying, I have never been able to beat this game. Not even close. In spite of its shortcomings, Rags to Riches is worth a download and a look. A truly memorable and original piece of gaming history.

Mr. Keener – who and where are you? General public – please share your memories of this great game. Trivia is also welcomed. What were sales like in 1985? What did the box look like? Inquiring minds want to masturbate in their parent’s basements.


Waste more time in… less time. The “New Facebook” features an application bar on the lower left of each screen where you’re able to place shortcut icons to any applications you like. I imagine many people probably haven’t added it to their navigation habits yet, but it’s very useful and I use it constantly. And by “useful” I mean “not at all realistically productive” because it’s Facebook.

As I am limited to only 5 shortcuts it took me a few weeks to settle in on an inventory, and the resulting selections are probably unique to most individuals. Here’s what I have in mine, left to right.

Remember Evite? Neither does anyone else. As everyone you’ve ever known in your entire life continues to join Facebook, it’s rarely necessary to go outside the network for anything – and the definitely decent Events feature is what first brought me to that staggering realization. Still waiting on the “Food and Water” application.

We’re all familiar with this one. FB spent a lot of time early on (Jurassic 2006) devising a killer photo sharing system and it’s become a real thorn in the sides of Snapfish/OPhoto/Flickr. Easy java-based uploads, quick file size conversions and the ability to tag and sort are all reasons it’s become my base camp for all things ‘online photo’.

The best FB “game” I have played as of yet. A medieval roleplayer, you join a tribe – Christian, Pagan, etc. – and then work your way up through the ranks buying land, buildings, magical gems to protect you in battle, weapons etc. Experience points are earned by fighting other players or performing special quests. I used to play Knighthood incessantly but find Crusades far more “sticky”, fun, visually pleasing and satisfying on a daily basis. Seriously, give it a try, peasant.

This app for word game fans presents you with a grid of seemingly random letters and a time limit with which to form as many connecting words as possible. The boards are always different and unlike a crossword you can go up, down or diagonal all in the same word. It was a little imposing at first but I quickly became an addict.

If you’re unfamiliar, Wordscraper is post-lawsuit Scrabulous. It’s made by the same developers who created the hugely popular original and they’ve changed it just enough that they can no longer be sued by those owning the rights to Scrabble. I tried getting into the official Scrabble FB application, but it was made entirely in Flash as opposed to Ajax, took too long to load and very few of my former Scrabulous friends and opponents ever bothered to adopt it. You can also customize the bonus tile spacing and point value making for some extremely high scoring and strategic games.

What’s in your wallet? Are you using the Facebook application bar? Regardless, what are your top 5 favorite FB applications?


When men hit their mid-50s they usually buy a convertible sports car. When men hit their mid-30s (and are secretly huge movie nerds) they usually combine and display action figures on shelves. And then die alone for all of their troubles. I’ll be turning the big 3-5 this Pearl Harbor Day (that’s December 7th and yes I do have an Amazon Wish List, thank you for asking) so when I began getting urges to do the latter I simply accepted it. I went with it. It’s who I am. Dave Pye – the font of useless pop culture knowledge who will watch the same movie over and over until his eyes bleed – and it’s usually Blade Runner.


Shall I pull my pants down and show you the jewels… of my personal collection? Super then. Top shelf Indy, bottom shelf Star Wars. Let’s start with the Indiana Jones conglomerate, left to right. First we have a genuine leather satchel, designed to look like the one Indy wears, with the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull logo burned into the lower right corner. Spielberg had them made by the Canadian company Roots (more details) as gifts for all of the cast and crew. I found it on eBay last month when I was looking for additions to my Halloween costume and couldn’t help myself. In the background we have an electronic whip, a Spalko action figure and three lego sets – all from the newest movie. Next we have four prop replicas – a Sankara Stone from Temple of Doom, the Hovitos Fertility Idol and Staff of Ra Headpiece from Raiders of the Lost ark and a bullwhip.

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Ladies, all of this could be yours. Form a line to the left.

The Star Wars shelf contains a couple of items that are actually worth quite a bit of money on the open dork market. On the far left we have a modern little Chewbacca beanie baby. Behind that is a stuffed R2D2 doll with a little red button that squeaks that I got for Christmas in 1977. In front of that is a remote control R2, the controller long since lost, which I believe I got in 1981 when Empire Strikes Back came out. Next up is an original Han Solo Blaster, with no chips, the sticker intact and it still works.

Beside the blaster is a Canadian-version, bi-lingual copy Han Solo figure. The packaging is in pristine condition and I found the little guy whilst cleaning out one of my grandmother’s closets last summer. She must have bought it for me for Christmas in ’77 and hidden it from my 4-year-old self in said closet – where it became lost for three decades. As I was cleaning out her home due to the fact that she is now in a long term care facility out of her mind and near death, the discovery choked me up. It was like a last gift from her to my inner-child. Nerd or not – you have to admit that’s pretty gosh darn cool. Thanks for everything, Claire. You did an excellent job with Janet and I.

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“Pardon-et-moi? C’est la Guerre des E’toiles, cocksackeer!”

Next up is a rubber Yoda puppet in decent condition, still with all of his white yarny hair, which was given to me in 1981 and then finally bookended with another modern beanie baby version of the same little green Jedi master. All told and in retrospect a decent little collection of movie paraphernalia. Which begs the question – guys and gals: what are your most treasured trinkets from childhood? More Star Wars stuff? A little G.I. Joe or Rainbow Bright, perhaps? Maybe it’s just me, but I sincerely doubt it. Don’t leave me hanging here, folks.


It’s 11 o’clock. Do you know what your search results are? It’s also 2008 and any potential employer in any industry who is seriously considering hiring or even giving you an interview is going to do one important thing first. Google you.

I was recently asked to guest post for a Boston-based search marketing blog and I have to tell you – I feel a little like Jay Leno must have before he took over for Carson full time. As I typetty-typed away, and attempted to be jaw-droppingly clever, I realized that with a slight spin towards the stupid the topic I had chosen could be extremely helpful to my friends, family and 6 other loyal readers. Pay attention, Mom.

Social media is a double-edged sword. A tri-cornered hat. A coat of many colors. Like a bag of wild squirrels. Strike that last one. You have sites like FaceBook and MySpace for social networking. Then you have sites like Digg for social voting. Then you have sites like LOTRO for social exile. And amongst the multitude of other classifications under the main umbrella you have business networking sites. Hang up your Scrabulous games and annoying FunWall forwards for an hour tonight and build yourself a profile on Plaxo, LinkedIn, Spoke, Ziggs and all of the other social business sites I’ve listed here.


Sharon works well as part of a team“.
Enrique Gazpacho, trainee manager – Stinky Cactus Bar

Or by all means – ignore me and have the next HR person that leafs through your resume looking at your 1998 Cancun wet t-shirt contest indiscretions twenty seconds later. I don’t do this for a living or anything.