8 TV Shows All Geeks Should Have Watched

By Dave Parrack, MakeUseOfJuly 31, 2012 at 08:31PM

tv shows for geeksGeeks are fairly well represented on television. Sure, some shows – even those listed below – are aimed at the mainstream and therefore represent geeks as being spotty, scruffy ne’er-do-wells that live in their parents’ basements, but in general geeks are shown as role models or important people who give something positive to society. Which, as geeks ourselves, we all know we do.

The following are eight television shows, some from the past, some from the present, that all geeks should have watched. Not necessarily in their entirety, but for one episode at least. Several show geeks in all their glory, while others are based on geeky concepts which necessitate geeky speak and technology.

Doctor Who – 1963-Present

Doctor Who is the oldest geeky TV show to make it onto this list, with the first episode airing in 1963. That means it will be 50 years old in 2013, but then time is rather meaningless to the good doctor, a Time Lord who travels the universe in his TARDIS. Unfortunately Doctor Who hasn’t been an ever-present in that time, taking a break from television screens between 1989 and 2005.

Is there a geekier subject in the world than time travel? I don’t think so, even though we don’t yet know if it will ever be possible. The video above is also about as geeky as it gets, with two guys discussing Doctor Who through the years.

Star Trek – 1966-2005

This had to make the list. Second only to Doctor Who in terms of age, Star Trek is one of my favorite television shows of all time. There have been five full Star Trek shows, starting with The Original Series starring William Shatner and his cohorts, and ending with Enterprise, a prequel that essentially killed the franchise off for the time being. Thankfully the movies continue under J.J. Abrams’ guidance.

OK, so Star Trek has had its cheesy moments, particularly in those early years. However, this is a series that predicted a future where humanity had come together to conquer the stars. The video above is the ‘How It Should Have Ended‘ for the Star Trek movie.

The X-Files – 1993-2002

The X-Files may be almost 20 years old but it remains highly watchable. We follow Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as they investigate weird and wonderful cases the rest of the FBI won’t touch. The main story arc dealt with a government-level conspiracy theory and lots and lots of extraterrestrials. Also worth watching is the spin-off show The Lone Gunmen, even though it only ran for 13 episodes.

Conspiracy theories are an ever-present part of popular culture, with every big event accompanied by evidence that not everything is as it first appears. The video above shows some of the main players of The X-Files discussing the series.

CSI – 2000-Present

There are currently three different versions of this show: the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, and CSI: NY, all of which deal with forensic crime scene investigators. Forensic science has always intrigued people, but CSI has made the very geeky scientific processes it involves look positively sexy. Hence the increase in people wanting to study the subject.

CSI is built on older shows that also featured forensic sciences, including the eminently cheesy Quincy M.E. and the eminently awesome Sherlock Holmes. The video above is titled CSI: Legoland and just about sums the show up perfectly.

The IT Crowd – 2006-Present

The IT Crowd is British comedy at its best, and it’s a truly geeky show that anyone involved in I.T. will love. The show follows the two uber-geeks who work as I.T. support at a fictional company and their department head who is as ignorant about technology as it is possible to be. If you’re a geek and haven’t yet watched The IT Crowd then stop reading this right now and go find it online immediately.

The video above is a compilation of all the times Roy, Moss, and Jen ask someone if they’ve “tried turning it off and on again,” which, as we know, is the solution to 99 percent of all computer-related problems. Or thereabouts.

Chuck – 2007-2012

Chuck is geeky in two ways. Firstly the main character works as tech support at a retail chain, which qualifies him as a geek right from the off. But then he manages to have the U.S. government’s secrets downloaded to his brain, turning him from humble genius into a spy. Unfortunately Chuck ended in 2012, but the five seasons that were made are well worth seeking out.

The above video is the launch trailer for the show, so you get a brief overview of the plot and a little of what to expect from the titular character. Which is wise-cracks and a lot of geeky goodness.

The Big Bang Theory – 2007-Present

This may be a controversial choice for some to swallow. The Big Bang Theory is geeky but it’s also derided by some for the way it portrays geeks as socially inept and lacking in common sense. However, this show, which mainly follows two Caltech physicists, has seen several famous scientists make cameo appearances, including Stephen Hawking. That more than qualifies it in my book.

The Big Bang Theory is very American, but don’t let that put you off. The video above is the theme song from The Big Bang Theory, which is History Of Everything by Barenaked Ladies.

Fringe – 2008-Present

Anyone who misses The X-Files should now be watching Fringe, as the latter has clearly been influenced by the former. However, this show takes the geekiness and ramps it up to 11 (extra points for those who get that reference). Fringe science is exactly what its name suggests, so we see parallel universes and singularities investigated by an eclectic set of characters.

The video above acts as a rundown of reasons to watch Fringe, which are many and varied. Don’t take my word for it, just watch it for yourself.


As a geek it’s your duty to have seen at least one episode of all those shows. The geek gods demand it. Thankfully they’re all available somewhere online through BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, or iTunes. Or there is the good ol’ fashioned DVD and Blu-ray. Yes, physical media is still alive and well, for the time being at least.

Be sure to also read the following articles:-

As is customary here on MakeUseOf we now open the floor to you, our loyal readers. What do you think of the list? Are any of these shows ones you haven’t yet watched but will now do so? What other television shows do you think all geeks should have seen? Let us know in the comments section below.

Image Credit: John Atherton

Using IFTTT To Automate All Your Facebook Photos & Video [Facebook Tip Or Hack Of The Week]

By Angela Alcorn, MakeUseOfJuly 31, 2012 at 06:31PM

ifttt facebook pageNot everyone uses Facebook to store their photos and video, but alternative photo and video storage still doesn’t seem to have the best social integration just yet. Most of the alternatives are designed for more public sharing and aren’t always great at alerting your friends when there’s something new to look at. There’s also no denying that there are plenty of bored friends our there who love to see photo and video updates from you via Facebook. Why not automatically send a few of your favourites along for them to see?

If This Then That (IFTTT) is one of the simplest web automators around and can help you get things copied from A to B and vice versa. So, here’s a few cool IFTTT recipes to get your photos and video from wherever you prefer to keep them (e.g. Flickr, Dropbox, Instagram, or YouTube) into Facebook, plus a few neat ways to get the best photos your friends upload of you from Facebook out to somewhere useful.

Auto-Upload All Flickr Photos To Facebook

If all your photos go to Flickr, but you want to keep your Facebook friends in the loop too, then try this IFTT recipe. Any public photo you put on Flickr will be sent to Facebook.

ifttt facebook page

Auto-Upload One Tag Of Flickr Photos To Facebook

Here’s a twist on the previous Flickr-to-Facebook automation which allows you to specify a specific Flickr tag to trigger an upload to Facebook. This is perfect if you upload all your photos to Flickr, but only want to bother your friends on Facebook with a few of the better ones.

ifttt facebook timeline

Instagram Photos To Facebook Album

If you are taking lots of pictures using Instagram you’ve probably got some great photos shared out there with the wider world. But, how many of your friends have seen them? Using this recipe, your Instagram photos are automatically uploaded to Facebook into a special album.

ifttt facebook timeline

Tagged Facebook Photos Sent To Flickr

Your friends might be great at taking happy snaps at parties and uploading their photos of you to Facebook. But once it’s been tagged and seen by a few people the buzz usually dies down. You might not ever see that photo again unless you trawl through all of the photos you’re tagged in. So why not keep your own copy?

This recipe automatically copies those tagged Facebook photos over to Flickr, where you can dedicate a set to “Photos you’re tagged in”.

ifttt facebook timeline

Send Facebook Photos Tagged As You To Dropbox

This is much the same as the previous recipe. If you always have friends tagging you in Facebook photos and you want to keep them for your own memories, try the IFFT recipe which will send the tagged Facebook photos to Dropbox for you. It’s all automatic and you’ll find them in Dropbox when you want to browse them later.


Facebook Photos Tagged As You Are Copied To Private Facebook Album

Again, this is the same idea as the previous two recipes, but it’s for people who like to keep Facebook photos within Facebook. You’ll have your own private Facebook album of all the photos you’re tagged in.

New Flickr Sets Posted As Facebook Link

Your Flickr sets might be organised and informative, but your Facebook friends never seem to notice. Here’s a way to automatically post a Facebook link to your new Flickr sets.


Favourite YouTube Videos Posted As Facebook Link

If you’re always finding neat videos on YouTube and want to share them with your friends, there’s an IFTTT recipe to help you do this. This will post a Facebook link to any new YouTube video you’ve favourited.

Uploaded YouTube Videos Posted As Facebook Link

Here’s a recipe which is much the same as above, but will be executed whenever you upload a video to YouTube. A link to your video upload will be posted to Facebook automatically.

Send Videos You Upload To Vimeo Posted As Facebook Link

If your friends miss your video uploads to Vimeo, this IFTTT recipe will help to get their attention. It posts a Facebook link to any Vimeo videos you upload.

ifttt facebook page

Don’t forget that all of these recipes can be adapted and tweaked to your liking – or even re-created to be exactly right. Mix and match the services or the actions as you please!

More Reading

Here’s some more reading about IFTTT recipes for Facebook and Facebook photos:

What are your favourite Facebook IFTTT recipes for photos and videos? Tell us in the comments!

Up Mouse turns push into pull to address hand and wrist pain

By Dave LeClair, Gizmag Emerging Technology MagazineJuly 31, 2012 at 09:05PM

When using the Up Mouse, the clicking is generated using the extensors

Daniel Benamy suffers from repetitive strain injury (RSI). His condition was brought on by using a traditional mouse over an extended period of time. After trying a slew of mice, he could not find one that relived his pain, and thus, the idea for the Up Mouse was born. Instead of pushing down on the buttons, the Up Mouse has users lift their fingers to press the buttons. .. Continue Reading Up Mouse turns push into pull to address hand and wrist pain

Section: Personal Computing

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Use launchd to schedule repeating tasks

By (author unknown), MacOSXHints.comJuly 31, 2012 at 10:30AM

OS X uses a framework called launchd for “starting, stopping and managing daemons, applications, processes, and scripts.” (Quote from Wikipedia.) You can use launchd to schedule any task you want to run at specific times or intervals.

Nathan Grigg has posted a simple, clear tutorial, Schedule jobs using launchd which gives an introduction into how this process works, and how you can use it to schedule repeated tasks on your Mac. You’ll have to edit plist files, and you may want to install some third-party tools, but this can be useful if you want to set up your own tasks. You could use cron, but, as Grigg says, “Unlike cron, launchd does not assume that your computer is always running. So if your computer happens to be sleeping at the time a job is scheduled, it will run the job when it wakes up.”

Another place to look is …

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How I Lost 100 Pounds [Health]

By James Golick, LifehackerJuly 31, 2012 at 10:00AM

How I Lost 100 PoundsI’ve struggled with my weight for nearly my entire life. I went from being chubby in elementary school to overweight in high school to obese in university. At my biggest, I was almost 280 pounds (I’m 5’6″). Finally, around 5 years ago, I got a spark of inspiration that ultimately led to me dropping a total of 110 pounds and counting. Here’s how I did it.

But first, the obligatory before and after shots:
How I Lost 100 Pounds

How I Lost 100 Pounds


Losing weight requires an enormous amount of motivation. You’re going to have to change your lifestyle and make real sacrifices. It’s going to be hard. Motivation will help you continue to justify the changes you’ve made, and prevent you from slipping back in to old habits.

Funny enough, I actually got my first seed of motivation from pneumonia. I was 278 pounds at the time. After three horrible, bed-ridden weeks, I was down to 258. It was painful, but it taught me the most important weight loss lesson of all: it’s possible.

Like a lot of other kids from my generation, I grew up overweight. When you can’t remember a time when you weren’t, being fat is a part of your identity. So, silly as it sounds, I think there was a part of me that believed that weight loss was impossible on some level – or at least that the amount of weight I needed to lose was insurmountable.

If you only take one thing away from this article, let it be that. You can lose weight. No matter how messed up your metabolism (more on that later), no matter how long you’ve been overweight, it is possible.


I’m going to talk about a few of the strategies, diets, and other random things that I have tried because I think people will find them interesting. But I’ll give you an easy way out of reading the rest of this article just in case you’re already bored. Ready? Here it is.


Ok, so with that yelling out of the way, here’s a bit about my journey.

Briefly on Exercise

I’m going to keep this short. Exercise has never helped me lose weight. For much of the time that I was grossly over weight, I was also extremely physically active, often whitewater kayaking or downhill skiing for several hours 4 or 5 days a week, and continuing to put on fat. Despite conventional wisdom to the contrary, exercise isn’t an effective weight loss strategy for me.

Portion Control

After I lost the pneumonia weight, I was literally terrified that I might put it back on. So I decided to try eating less. I ate all the same things, but avoided going back for seconds. I ate pasta, pizza, and dessert until I was full, but not stuffed. I lost 20 more pounds over a few months. Then, it leveled off.

That, really, is the story of my weight loss effort. Strategies, and diets that work for a while and then plateau. Sometimes, it’s possible to break through a plateau, but other times, you need to up your game with better eating.

I tried for another six or so months to break through the portion control plateau. It never happened. I was actually feeling pretty good about where I was, though, so I didn’t really make much of an effort to progress for a few more months.

Lower Carb Diet

Shortly after moving from Montreal to Vancouver, I started seeing a personal trainer, hoping to accelerate my progress on the scale and in the gym. She had me keep a food journal, and immediately picked up on the amount of carbs that I was eating back then. I was vegetarian at the time, and I was eating tons of breads and pastas. She told me to eat more vegetables, and tofu, and watch my carb intake. I lost about 20 pounds before plateauing hard.

On this diet, I was still eating bread, pasta, and sugar, just less. And after a while, I found it impossible to continue losing weight. So I started looking for other solutions.

Eat to Live

Eat to Live is an all vegan diet designed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Only fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds are allowed; no oils, dairy, sugar, or even juices (bit of an exaggeration, but for our purposes this is accurate enough) are permitted. I had very mixed results on Eat to Live. I did lose about 15 pounds, but I had a very difficult time keeping it off, and found it very difficult to eat enough food to feel full for more than an hour at a time. I found that I was constantly eating, and still often feeling starvingly hungry.

With that said, I actually know a lot of people who’ve had great success on ETL including my ex-girlfriend, who I was living with at the time (so we were eating nearly identically, though me significantly more than her), and my good friend Giles, who actually introduced me to the book. Which brings me to another one of my weight loss conclusions.

Everybody’s body is different. Some people have amazing success on a diet, while others are incapable of losing weight. I no longer believe that there’s one perfect diet out there that suits everybody. Your mileage will vary with every approach.

The only consistent thing I’ve been able to identify across all my friends and family who’ve lost weight is avoiding processed foods.

Psoriasis and Acne

An interesting aside here is that ETL led me discover that it’s possible to control psoriasis with diet. The medical community doesn’t seem to be aware of this, but I am completely psoriasis free after years of being covered in it.

At first, I thought that it was the greens that caused my skin to clear up, but since then, I’ve realized that it’s a balance of factors. Greens do help, but merely avoiding processed foods is enough to keep me completely psoriasis free. That being said, I started drinking coffee again a little while ago, and noticed that a small amount of psoriasis came back. Upping my intake of greens seems to make it clear up. So, it’s a bit of a balancing act.

Oh also, I’m extremely prone to acne, but I’ve found that avoiding high glycemic index foods keeps my face and body completely clear of pimples.

On Vegetarianism

I’m definitely going to get hate mail for this, but here goes anyway. I was vegetarian for most of my weight loss journey. My conclusion was ultimately that vegetarianism made it significantly more difficult to lose weight. Here’s why.

At home, cooking my own meals from my own groceries, vegetarianism was perfectly fine. But, every time I ate in a restaurant, on the street, or even at a friend’s place, my options were nearly invariably some combination of pasta, bread, and sugar. I probably have the shittiest metabolism in the world, but when I eat that stuff, I gain weight. Lots of it.

I really enjoy eating in restaurants, which made the whole thing all the more difficult. During the whole time that I was on Eat to Live, I would painstakingly lose 7 or 8 pounds by religiously sticking to the diet for a month, then travel to a conference for a week and gain 15. It was frustrating to say the least, which led me to the very difficult conclusion that I needed to at least try breaking my nearly ten years of vegetarianism.\

My Current Diet

My current diet is really simple: no processed carbs (that includes ‘carbless’ sugar replacements except stevia). I go through periods where I eat a ton of fruits and vegetables, but lately, I’ve mostly been eating meat and fish.

Do I miss chocolate and ice cream? Definitely. But I eat guilt-free bacon or chicken wings whenever I feel like it, and seeing results makes the sacrifice more than worthwhile.

This diet means that when I go out to eat (which I do regularly), I can have a steak without feeling guilty. I tell people that I’m allergic to sugar and flour, which gives me a reasonable excuse for being the pain in the ass guy who has to ask the waiter about the ingredients in every dish on the menu. I’d encourage you to tell similar lies if they help you stick to a diet.

There’ve been a few periods over the last year and a half where I’ve started eating bread again and gained back a bunch of weight. In April of this year, though, I finally committed to this diet as a more permanent lifestyle, and have been ever since. I’ve dropped around 40 pounds since then, and I’m not stopping until I can see my abs.


Everybody’s body is different. Your friends may have had success with diet X, but you may not. Don’t let that discourage you. You’ll find something that works.

The best diet is the one that you can stick to, even if the weight loss is slower. If a diet fights against your lifestyle, it’s going to be that much harder to maintain. That was my problem with ETL. I love to eat out and I travel a lot, so I couldn’t stick to it. And at the end of the day, I didn’t lose weight. The less you have to change your lifestyle to accomplish your goals, the better your chances of success.

You can lose weight, still enjoy the food you eat, and even go out to restaurants while you do it. Obviously, you won’t be able to eat everything you’re eating now, because if you could, you’d already be thin. But, it’ll be a sacrifice worth making. The best thing you’ve ever done.

How to Lose 100 Pounds | Asian Efficiency

James Golick is a software engineer, entrepreneur, and speaker. In his spare time, he likes to play golf and snowboard. Follow him on Twitter @jamesgolick.

Image remixed from Leremy.

Prelinger Archives: Thousands Of Old Films To Watch, Remix & Use In Your Own Projects [Stuff to Watch]

By Tim Brookes, MakeUseOfJuly 30, 2012 at 06:31PM

watch old filmsIn 1982, writer and filmmaker Rick Prelinger starting assembling a collection of films that would later become known as the Prelinger Archives. The films are all considered of cultural importance to the United States, depicting everyday life, social and environmental change and history through the medium of moving images.

Of the many tens of thousands of films, around 65% are in the public domain due to expired or improper copyright and more than 3,000 can be found on the Internet Archive. Each is licensed under the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark 1.0 license. This means you can download, remix, adapt and use the films in whichever way you like – oh, and you can watch them too.

In addition to being freely available to view, keep and adapt upon, many of the films are just plain interesting. Here’s a selection to get you started with watching old films.

A Trip Down Market Street Before The Fire (1906)

Shot from the front of a cable car, this film offers a rare glimpse into life in San Francisco at the turn of the century where horse-drawn carts and unpredictable pedestrians make up the hustle and bustle. After examination, historian David Kiehn decided that the film was shot just days before a major earthquake on April 18.

This particular version is improved over previous uploads and comes in an easily editable DV25 format for use in your own productions.

Duck and Cover (1951)

In the 1950s a new threat emerged after the end of World War II – the potential for a nuclear attack. Teaching children about nuclear war, and more importantly what to do in a nuclear attack, was a task left to Bert the Turtle.

Depending on the size and height of the blast, the duck and cover technique would offer little protection within the 0-3 km radius, though seeking cover and getting low is the best practice for surviving the initial explosion; advice that the UK government also issued to its citizens in the 60s.

The City (1939)

New York City is seen in incredible detail in this film contrasting rural and urban living in the 1930s. Utopian ideals of the perfect “green city” are explored and contrasted with scenes of chimneys billowing smoke, traffic jams and children narrowly escaping death on busy train tracks (yes, really).

The film is special not only for its historical values but also some wonderfully dark cinematography (in particular a number of match cuts).

Dating Dos and Don’ts (1949, Kodachrome)

Coronet Films produced instructional social commentaries for consumption by the American public, old and young, including this one from 1949 titled Dating Do’s and Don’ts. While it’s watchable for comedy value alone, don’t forget this was advice given to teens in order to help them start dating.

I can’t help but feel there’s a lot of potential for adaptation and remixing, especially with this Kodachrome version. This particular film has received the Rifftrax treatment, along with many other Coronet Films.

Your Name Here (1960s)

An attempt at making a one-size-fits-all film about your product, brand or business, this film is so generic and non-specific that it is quite hard to believe that it was ever made. If ever a public domain film invited the casual video tinkerer to play around and see what he or she could come up with then this is it.

The film attempts to appeal to those looking to cut costs and still stand out with their own film, though the chances of standing out with such a generic production are slim.

TV Commercials – Toy Reel

A selection of commercials from the past for childrens toys, edited together into a 10 minute segment. The films here can actually be downloaded elsewhere should you want to use them for whatever reason, though this is a nice overview of what’s on offer.

The opening toy, the Swing Wing, appears to be a neck-ache inducer made up of a plunger and some ribbon and it’s worth clicking play above just to experience the horror.

The Rest

At the time of writing there are 3,207 items in the Prelinger Archives, all of which are open to being remixed, sampled and used in any way you see fit. Browsing is somewhat difficult, so it’s best to search or browse through any of the following collections to find what you’re after:

Don’t forget most aren’t contained in any collection, and the best way to find what you’re looking for is to dive in and see what you can find. That might mean watching a lot of old films, but you’re bound to learn, laugh and discover some gems while you’re at it.

There are also collections of films made from Prelinger footage, titled Prelinger Mashups. If nothing more they serve as inspiration as to what can be done with footage like this.

Shatner vs. Wheaton: Star Trek Stars Narrate Mars Rover’s 7 Minutes of Terror

By Adam Mann, Wired ScienceJuly 30, 2012 at 06:06PM


In two new NASA videos, actors William Shatner and Wil Wheaton each submit their entry for hammiest narration of the Mars Science Laboratory’s entry, descent, and landing sequence on the Red Planet. But which Will wins?

MSL, NASA latest rover, is set to touch down on the Martian surface on Aug. 5 at around 10 p.m. Pacific. The one-ton nuclear powered rover will search for signs of habitability on Mars, past or present, and provide important insight into the planet’s geology.

Getting the car-sized rover – the largest thing that NASA can currently land on Mars — down to the ground requires a Rube Goldberg-like sequence of parachutes, rocket thrusters, and, in the end, a gently lowering sky crane. This progression, known as the “Seven Minutes of Terror,” will need to happen with perfect timing and without the aid of NASA engineers, who will unable to intervene should something go wrong due to the time delay between Earth and Mars.

So who does a better job at conveying the excitement and danger of this landing: the Original Series captain (above) or the Next Generation wunderkind (below)? Vote for your favorite in the poll below. Even if you might not agree on which is the superior performance, nerds everywhere can be happy to see their icons teaming up with our real-life space program.


Videos: NASA