Gweek 081: Wonderful apps, books, comics, and gear

Gweek is Boing Boing's podcast about comic books, science fiction and fantasy, video games, board games, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.

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My co-hosts for this episode:

Joshua Glenn, a Boston-based writer, publisher, and semiotician. He is co-author of Significant Objects, published by Fantagraphics, and Unbored, the kids' field guide to serious fun coming from Bloomsbury this fall. He edits the website HiLobrow, which as HiLoBooks is now publishing classics -- by Jack London, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, and others -- from what he calls science fiction's Radium Age.

Kevin Kelly, senior maverick at Wired, editor of Cool Tools, co-founder of Quantified Self, and author of books.

In this episode, we talked about:

About Love: Three Stories by Anton Chekhov, illustrated by Seth. Three interlinked stories about hunters who are stuck in a hut during a snowstorm. Joshua: "Seth is not only great at illustrating, he's also great at decorating books. It's a beautiful pleasure to hold this book." Seth also illustrated two books that Joshua co-wrote: The Idler's Glossary and The Wage Slave's Glossary.

Vela Quadrant Task Force. A long-running webcomic. Kevin: "The art in it looks like folk art painting. There's a kind of cramped feeling to it. There's an offbeat, slightly skewed sensibility … there's something outsider about it."

Kevin gives us an update on the successful Kickstarter campaign for the second volume in The Silver Cord graphic novel series. Download the first issue for free as a PDF here.

Finish This Book. Joshua: "It's a very neat book kids. The author, Keri Smith, pretends that she's found a bunch of scattered pages in a park that she's assembled. There is a mystery involved, and you have to figure out what this manual was. And in order to do that, you have a bunch of creative exercises on each page."

The People of the Ruins, by Edward Shanks. The fifth book in the Radium Age Science Fiction Series, published by Josh's HiLoBooks. "Trapped in a London laboratory during a worker uprising in 1924, ex-artillery officer and physics instructor Jeremy Tuft awakens 150 years later — in a neo-medieval society whose inhabitants have forgotten how to build or operate machinery."

The Yeti USB Microphone by Blue. Mark: "There are many reasons to use the Yeti microphone for podcasting instead of a USB headset. You can change the directionality with a knob. There's a knob for the game. You can plug headphones into it and get instant monitoring of what your voice sounds like, so you can modulate your voice -- it really helps to keep me from yelling into the microphone."

Reflective Zero Messenger Bag from Rickshaw Bagworks.

And lots more: Lens reversal rings for macro photography, 21 truly great movies for parents and kids to watch together (that you can watch instantly on Netflix), Finding Bigfoot, Waze GPS collaborative navigation app, Banksy Bristol Tour app, Werewolf/Mafia, the parlor game.



  1. Re: The Yeti USB Microphone,
    Blue make some cool stuff, but they seem to specialize in making mounts that suggest keeping the mic far away from the person speaking, as with the Yeti and its short little desk stand. Perhaps Blue should make a nice USB headset microphone with a good pop filter and earphones for monitoring? For most podcasting closer miking means less ambient noise and acoustic reverb, which is a good thing given the less than perfect environments most podcasts are recorded in.

    I think many people eschew the idea of a quality headset microphone because they get the false impression from radio shows on TV and the web that stand mikes are better. That may be the case in a quiet studio where the mikes are on articulated arms for close miking and the hosts know good mic technique, but it is less so for people podcasting in their bedroom or office with mikes like the Yeti next to the fan in their computer. And, yes, Blue has a special “automatic” mic that does noise reduction, but it is better just to get better mic placement in the first place rather than trying to fix bad mic placement with DSP.

  2. It’s nice that you mentioned USB microphones: periodically I’m intrigued by a teaser for Robert Wright’s BloggingHeads– and then I’ll remember that he cares not a whit for sound quality.

  3. Re: Vela Quadrant Task Force: Getting tired of “folk art” and “outsider art” being used to mean “it’s terrible, but I kinda like it anyway.”

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