Visit the Shaks

  • Shak In Style
  • Shakhammer
  • Love Shak, Baby
  • LoanShak
  • ShakYard
  • WorkShak
  • Shaktronics
  • Shak & Jill
  • Animal Shak
  • Shak & Jill

    Join Jill for savvy Real Estate discussion.
    visit the shak!

    Did you know?

  • Before you file a piece of paper, ask yourself, "do you need it for tax purposes or legal reasons?" If not, shred it.
  • read all shaktoids!
    October 10, 2014
    Tracking Trends: Words With Friends

    It’s been five amazing years for Words With Friends, Zynga’s flagship word game and one of the best approximations of Scrabble you can get your hands on these days.  I’m a big fan of the game (and feel free to start a game with me) and while I’m not the best WWF player, I’m very enthusiastic and have anywhere from 5 to 10 games going at any one time.  I must not be alone, because Zynga has released a lot of fun facts about just how much people love their word game.

    There have been 58 billion words played in the game, with players running up 1.2 trillion points.  In the 7.7 million games played, 217 billion letters have been used.  Amazingly, there are 5,478 words that have only been used once (though I’m sure that’s going to chance now that people know the words are out there).  The most popular words are qi, it, he, re, and jo.

    Now, if  you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go.  I’ve got several games waiting on me, and I’m itching to try out my new letters.

    Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    April 16, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: The Eternal NES

    Image via 1nflatable-hammers.

    Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    March 27, 2014
    My Dream Tablet Game

    I’m enjoying my Kindle Fire even now, and aside from reading and watching videos on it, the thing I use it for most is gaming.  I played a bunch of The Simpsons: Tapped Out until the file ate my game and destroyed my little yellow community of friends.  I play some Injustice: Gods Among Us, the DC fighting game featuring all your favorite Batman villains.  I’ve even played some Sonic The Hedgehog courtesy of a free app I got off the Amazon store.  That’s all well and good, but I have a dream game that I would love to play on my tablet:  Diablo II

    I miss having a computer on which to play Diablo II, and I worry that it wouldn’t play nicely with my laptop considering it’s not meant to run on Windows 7.  I have enough trouble with Fallout III, to the point where I don’t even bother to really play it anymore because it is so non-cooperative even in compatibility mode.  However, I’m pretty sure you could get Diablo or some other roguelike onto a tablet with no problem aside from finger cramps from obsessive tapping.

    What say you?  What classic video game of your youth would you love to have on your tablet or smartphone for those boring moments when you’re stuck waiting in line and the idea of starting yet another game of Words With Friends is enough to make you want to break down sobbing?

    Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    March 19, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: The New Xbox 3600

    Image via Destructoid

    Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    March 11, 2014
    Titanfall Needs 48GB Of PC Drive Space

    I’m not the biggest PC gamer, but I’m used to games needing 2 or 3 GB of space to install and execute themselves properly.  I mean, that’s not a huge deal anymore, considering the smallest hard drives out there are still a good 60 to 90 GB.  However, there’s a limit to just how much people are willing to devote to a game, and when it comes to the new fighting robot game Titanfall, the limit might have been reached.  As it turns out, Titanfall needs a staggering 48GB of hard drive space depending on your settings.  However, it’s not the graphics or the size of the game itself that’s causing the problems:  it’s the tunes, man.

    “When you download the game or the disc itself, it’s a lot smaller than that.  So… it’s almost all audio… On a higher PC it wouldn’t be an issue.  On a medium or moderate PC, it wouldn’t be an issue, it’s that on a two-core [machine] with where our min spec is, we couldn’t dedicate those resources to audio,” said Respawn head engineer Richard Baker.

    As it turns out, to get the game to play best on low-spec systems, it needs to install a lot of uncompressed music files, and those files add up in a hurry.  Of course, why they needed uncompressed audio files when more compressed or a lossless file format might work out a little better is curious, but I’m not a game designer and I’m sure there’s a very logical reason for needing a huge chunk of hard drive space for sounds.

    Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    February 13, 2014
    Classic Video Games As Romance Novels

    You see that fake book cover up there, Hungry For Love?  Does that look familiar?  Two yellow-clad people, a field of white dots in front of them…?  That’s right, it’s Pac Man (and Ms. Pac-Man) re-imagined as a couple on the cover of a romance novel.  In fact, Kotaku has a whole series of classic video game romance novel covers, and they’re all pretty spectacular.

    The images are cool (and the games are all genuine classics), but they key to making the covers work are the little details.  For example, on the Super Mario Brothers-inspired cover, the disappointed Luigi in the background makes it all work.  On the above Pac-Man cover, my favorite part isn’t the big white pellets standing in for rail decorations, it’s the maze in the background.  Even better, it’s green, so that’s pretty accurate.

    However, the one most accurately representing the video game is the cover for Duck Hunt.  I think anyone who has played that game before has taken aim and tried to shoot that laughing dog.  I know he spent a lot of time in my crosshairs when I was a kid.  Nice to see that made the jump into the fun cover images.

    Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    February 12, 2014
    Beware Faux Flappy Bird

    All it takes is one dedicated coder to create a game.  Such is the case of Dong Nguyen, the guy who stole a bunch of Super Mario World graphics to create one of the most addictive games in the world right now, Flappy Bird.  From nothing to overnight viral sensation, Flappy Bird got so big that Nguyen decided to pull the game from the market, citing concerns about its addictive nature (and no doubt due to potential threats from Nintendo about his stolen sprites).  When the market finds a gap, it fills it.  Without Flappy Bird, other games are stepping in to take its place, but more worryingly, malware-infested versions of Flappy Bird are showing up in third party app stores.

    Both Sophos and Trend Micro are telling users to beware of any Flappy Bird apps on third-party Android stores.  Apparently, using the compromised Flappy Bird runs up some potentially massive cell phone charges due to texting premium numbers; in addition to that, it also causes information leak because so much of what you do on your phone can be sent back to the compromised servers.  Apparently some compromised Flappy Birds installs can get email address, name, phone number, and even cell phone carrier.  Other Flappy Birds force users to pay to play after a certain amount of time, turning a free game into a premium game without benefiting the actual creator.

    Said Trend Micro, “All of the fake versions we’ve seen so far are Premium Service Abusers — apps that send messages to premium numbers, thus causing unwanted charges to victims’ phone billing statements.  As seen below, the fake Flappy Bird app asks for the additional read/send text messages permissions during installation — one that is not required in the original version.  And while the user is busy playing the game, this malware stealthily connects to a C&C server through Google Cloud Messaging to receive instructions.  Our analysis of the malware revealed that through this routine, the malware sends text messages and hides the notifications of received text messages with certain content.”

    So if you have Flappy Bird, play without fear.  If you didn’t get your flap on before the game was pulled from servers, it’s probably not a good idea to go looking for an after-market version of the game.

    Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    January 29, 2014
    Legos In Your Browser

    If you’re looking for a way to kill a few hundred hours, you can do no better than a bucket of Lego bricks and your imagination.  Similarly, if you’re looking for a way to kill a few minutes of time at work, then Google is your very best friend.  Google’s engineers, specifically the Chrome branch, have come up with a really fun idea.  Lego toys available in your browser!

    “There’s something pretty amazing about being able to piece together your ideas with just a collection of colorful bricks,” said a blog post written by Google product marketing manager Adrian Soghoian.  ”Well, we think the creative freedom of Lego bricks shouldn’t be limited to plastic bins — which is the idea behind Build with Chrome”

    The best part?  Once you’re happy with your creation, you can stick it into the real world.  Design your own castle in the English countryside?  Create pirate ships like the ones you see above?  Giant King Kong terrorizing New York City?  It’s all out there, just waiting for you to brick it happen!

    You can find all the fun at Build With Chrome’s website.

    Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    August 26, 2013
    Gamestop Custom Blue PS3

    Do you have a PlayStation 3 yet?  Are you looking for a PlayStation 3, but you don’t want a standard color plastic box?  Well, there’s some good news out there for you.  A custom blue PlayStation 3 is hitting Gamestop shelves on October 8.  Previously, the azurite blue PS3 was only available in Japan, but here in the run-up to the launch of the PlayStation 4, it looks like Sony is looking to wring all the action out of the PS3 that they can.

    It is an awesome blue color, and the PlayStation 3 will come with a DualShock controller and is the Superslim model.  It will retail for $249.99, which seems like a lot when you consider that the PS4 will be coming out roughly a month after this blue model hits Gamestop shelves.  (It will also be available at EB Games in Canada.)  However, it’s a Gamestop exclusive, so you’ll need to be heading out to your local Gamestop in an attempt to finally get that Japanese azurite blue PS3 that you’ve always wanted.

    Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati
    June 8, 2013
    Microsoft Rolls Back Used Game Ban, Online Requirement

    When Microsoft announced the Xbox One, the primary focus was on its capabilities as an entertainment system and not so much on the unit’s ability to play video games.  There was a reason for that.  As it turns out, fans weren’t terribly pleased with the decisions Microsoft made concerning the Xbox One’s ability to play games.  The system needed a constant Internet connection and, most damaging, it would not play used games.  Cue the outrage.

    Fortunately, even Microsoft knows that bad publicity isn’t good for their brand, so they’ve decided to make a few changes.  The best news is that the Xbox One no longer needs an always-on connection; instead, it has to go online once every 24 hours and that’s it.  Good news for those without a good internet connection.  All the other uses, like TV and Blu-ray, won’t need an online connection at all.

    Secondly, Microsoft has decided to allow used games.  No extra fees, no surcharges, nothing but business as usual for the secondary game market.  I imagine a lot of folks are breathing a sigh of relief right now, none more than Gamestop and other used game merchants.

    Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

    Add to:  Digg  Face Book  stumbleupon  technorati