Comic Con 2014: Last Minute Gadget Tips for Comic Con

People like to think that gadgets make life easier. I am not one of them. The thing that makes gadgets useful is, well, the user. So, with that advice I will tell you about some of the gadgets that we will be taking on our trip to San Diego Comic Con because they make our time there more enjoyable.

Know What Your Taking.

Before you start gearing up, you need to know what you have and especially know what kind of power it needs to stay charged. Pay special care with your phone's and camera's charging requirements. Go get the plug that came with said device and see what type of power it needs. As you start to look for supplemental charging devices, make sure it supports your gadget needs.

The Battery Charger.
The idea is simple - a portable charging power supply that you can use on the go. Most of them have at least one USB port if not more. The one we use has enough power to fully recharge our phones several times throughout the day. On a typical Saturday I fully charged my phone twice, recharged Leslie's phone once and recharged our digital camera once and it still had a little less than 50% of its power left.  

The Travel Power Strip
This one is more for where you set home base. Every hotel has outlets, but they tend to be scatted throughout the room. The power strip we chose has several usb ports and has a few extra plugs so that at night we can charge our stuff in one spot. Having everything in one location makes it easy to grab everything before we leave the hotel each day.

Travel Wifi
There are two distinctly different yet very useful devices in this section. First the straight forward one. Portable Wifi hotspots can be purchased from your cell phone provider and need a service plan. Most hotspots have data caps, but can be very helpful for getting wifi to laptops or tablets. If you approach your cell phone provider and ask what the return policy is, you might be able to score one for just this trip and rerun it without issue.

The second one is for home base: The travel wifi router. Why? The travel router we have repeats as well as extends hotel wifi. My reason for having the travel router is to make it easier to get connected to hotels free internet. Instead of having to login on every device I need, I only do it once. Both devices give you a way to get connected while traveling.

Technology can definitely make your experience at Comic Con a little easier and provide you with great ways to record your experience. Go for items that will make your life easier while still keeping in mind the weight of what you'll be carrying all day. If you need specific recommendations for brands or items, ask us in the comments.

3 Tips to Prepare for Attending San Diego Comic Con

 

Say it out loud: It’s less than 30 days until Comic Con! All year there are other conventions and we hype ourselves up, but the reality is that it is all a precursor to San Diego Comic Con. Whether this is your first year or your 40th, it’s hard not to get excited and a little panicked. To help ease some of the Comic Con jitters, here are some tips to make sure you’re not overwhelmed when the big days finally arrive.

  1. Walking. Comic Con events, panels, screenings and off site events will be all over the Gaslamp and you are going to walk a lot. If you don't have a good pair of good walking shoes, get a good pair then start walking. Leslie and I take a 45 min walk every morning in the month leading up to Comic Con.
  2. Gear up. Start with a backpack, something comfortable and light weight. Then get a good lunch bucket, something insulated that will keep your food cool and compact. You probably already have a smart phone or tablet. You need a way to charge them. Get a portable USB charger that you can recharge from your room then use throughout the day to keep your gadgets at full power. Last year the one we used helped keep our phones charged well into the night.
  3. Map it out. By now you hopefully have a hotel. Learn where it is in relation to the convention center. When you arrive and see the con, it is going to be a sea of people and it is easy to get disoriented. The convention center will be easy to find but the offsite events, scavenger hunts and parties will be scattered throughout the Gaslamp.

In the forthcoming days we will elaborate and enhance on this basic list. Stay tuned for tips on snacks, gadgets and what lines start where in addition to a little extra tid bit or two.

 

Banner from the official San Diego International Comic Con website.

I Do Not Read Books (8): Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Here is the next edition in the on-going yet randomly occurring series of book reviews from Fernando, my webmaster/taste tester/getter of things on high shelves. He doesn't read a lot of novels, thus the title of the series. However, if he continues to enjoy the books he reads, I might turn him into a reader yet!

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2)
Suzanne Collins
Scholastic Press
Released September 1, 2009
391 pages
YA / Dystopian

Find it on Goodreads

Order it from Amazon

Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before...and surprising readers at every turn.

The next installment of the Hunger Games movie series is just around the corner. Ahead of the movie I read the book. I will stay spoiler free and give my overall impressions of the book. Warning -- there will be spoilers for both first installment of the series (movie and book), so if you have not read the first book, stop here.

Catching Fire is really the heart of this series. Where Hunger Games was an introduction into this trilogy’s main characters and Panem world political nuances, Catching Fire is the intermingling of all those small subtle plot points building and building through the first third of the book then exploding on for the remainder and then ultimately creating one of the most surprising endings.

Katniss and Peta have won the 74th Hunger Games under the guise of a relationship that does not exist. While on their victory tour, both begin to notice the ramifications of that unique and government-defying win. That small act of rebellion sends giant ripples through the entire book. District by district Katniss and Peta begin to see the movement that they have ignited.

That is the magnificent thing about Catching Fire – as it builds the tension chapter by chapter, it also explores some deeper questions posed but never out right expressed in the first book. Who really has the power in Panem? How long can fear of the government keep the people in this world at bay?

The finally third of the book really explodes into an action-filled powder keg that made me want to dive right into the final book. That’s my review. Read this book and be prepared to dive right into the next.

I Do Not Read Books (7): A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin

It's Halloween so Fernando decided to step in while I eat a lot of candy and "awww" over little kids in superhero costumes. Funnily enough he decided to review the book I'm currently in the middle of reading! Anyway he doesn't read a lot of novels, thus the title of the series, but you can read all the reviews he's written here. However, if he continues to enjoy the books he reads, I might turn him into a reader yet!

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice & Fire #4)
George RR Martin

Bantum Books
Released October 2006
1060 pages
Epic Fantasy / Magic

Find it on Goodreads

Order it from Amazon

With A Feast for Crows, Martin delivers the long-awaited fourth volume of the landmark series that has redefined imaginative fiction and stands as a modern masterpiece in the making.

After centuries of bitter strife, the seven powers dividing the land have beaten one another into an uneasy truce. But it's not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters of the Seven Kingdoms gather. Now, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed while surprising faces—some familiar, others only just appearing—emerge from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges of the terrible times ahead. Nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages, are coming together to stake their fortunes...and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests—but only a few are the survivors. 

Well, this review has been a long time coming. I read this book a long while back. I waited such a long time because I wanted some objective space between me and the review. Doesn't sound good, does it? The previous three books in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire make up a nice, neat trilogy package. And then you get this fourth book. First I did enjoy the fourth book. Second, I knew before going into that some of the characters that I have enjoyed so much were not going to be in this installment. What?! For those of you who do not know, here is the back story.

George had planned his epic to be 2 trilogies. One trilogy is made up by his first three books, and the second trilogy was meant to happen some 5 years later. However Martin abandoned that, and instead he picks up the forth book after the third book and writes and writes and writes. His manuscript ends up so large that it must be split.

This is where Martin makes a bold choice. He splits the book by character geography not by character chronology. So, a majority of the plot from this book overlaps with A Dance with Dragons, the next book. Follow that? The crux is that this results in many chapters that focus on new characters and some of the favorites are left for the next book.

This book should not be thought of as a sequel. Instead it is an expansion of the universe and adding some great new characters. I had a tough time with this book. It does bring in some great elements, but it does so by sacrificing the buildup that has been going on for the last three books. I may feel differently after the conclusion of the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Had I written this review immediately after I finished the book, I would have been very disappointed. I won’t spoil it by telling you the characters that are not in this book.  So, I will concede it’s not the best book in the series thus far; however, my thoughts have changed because I don’t think of it as a sequel. Instead I look at it as the introduction to different plot points in an ever expanding universe.

If you have read the first three books in the series, then you are going to read this book because it’s an important piece in the plot and a necessity before reading A Dance with Dragons. Do not let the pace of this book or the lack of some of your favorite characters deter you from finishing it. Now that I have finished both A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, I appreciated this book much more. It’s not my usual stunning endorsement of the series, but it’s also the first blemish.

Television Review: Game of Thrones - "Valar Dohaeris" (03.01)

There be giants in these hillsGame of Thrones season 3 kicked off on Sunday. After letting the months of anticipation wash away, I re-watched the episode last night and this show is just as phenomenal as ever. Game of Thrones is set to become HBO’s marquee drama and that in and of itself is a huge mile stone. The epic series has brought the fantasy genre into the forefront and in doing so proved that good writing and acting trumps genre stereo types.

I’ve watched the episode a few times now, and each time the story gains a new dimension. I’ll try and stay spoiler free and in retrospect there really is very little to spoil. There were only a handful of character who got screen time - Tyrion, Cersei, Samwell, Jon and Dany all got their stories advanced. Here are some of the onscreen battles I am looking forward to this season.

First and foremost the father/son tug-of-war between Tyrion and Tywin. Both actors have done a great job of portraying two very different characters. The first scene will undoubtedly not be the last, and it is top on my list of things to look forward to. The short scene that the two shared clearly set out the chess game that will become a joy to watch.

Jon and Ygritte sitting in a tree: The audience has seen the writing on the wall all over season 2: Jon and Ygritte are going to end up together. The palpable sexual and romantic tension between the two has been building, and hopefully the fans get their wish. The back and forth between the two is likely to sow a romance that Game of Thrones has yet to really highlight.

Cersei vs everybody: The second season of Game of Thrones highlighted the lengths that Cersei will go to for the love of her children. Now that is going to be challenging as Cersei has some real struggles this season. She has to compete for the affection of her son, the approval of her father, and the vacancy left in Jamie’s absence may lead to some interesting companions. Cersei is a strong character, but without Jamie there to balance her out, Cersei may become her own worst enemy.

Dany and Sir Barristan the Bold: this pairing has the potential to show us how much Dany wants to be a Targaryen. Barristan Selmy has all the dirt history on the Targaryen reign, and he will hopeful prove a more deserving counselor than Mormont.

Lastly, Samwell vs everything: Samwell without Jon will have to find some inkling of courage if he is to survive this trek beyond the wall.

Next episode will give us some Arya, Brienne and Jamie. Can’t wait for Sunday!!

Fun on the last few SxSw days.

Mandroid staff is out and about at the Austin awesomeness that is SxSw. Follow us on twitter if you want to join in on the eclectic fun. For me this has been a great week of random things that have poped into my head.
Leslie is coming back and have no fear I may also be contributing more often! I don't read as often as Leslie but I think I can find some odd ball subject to write about.
I hope you've enjoyed this week and I know I will be chatting at the wonderful Mandroid faithful here in the near future.

Veronica Mars kickstarter raises 2 million, Firefly fans call next.

I have never seen Veronica Mars. I am told it is a fantastic show and well worth my time. The producer and creator of the show has wanted to make a Veronica Mars movie for some time. I remember at my very first Comic-Con panel for Astro Boy that a VM fan asked Kristen Bell if those rumors were true. That was four years ago. Yesterday, that long quest finally reached an important milestone.

Rob Thomas, the producer and creator (not the singer), created a Kickstarter project to help get the long rumored Veronica Mars Movie made. Thomas set a goal of 2 million dollars and gave fans 30 days to amass the funds. Fans answered clearly and swiftly raised the money in less than 24 hours!

 

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