The best dad of fantasy fiction
Arthur Weasley (Mark Williams) holds Ginny back after Voldemort claims Harry Potter is dead in the "Deathly Hallows, Part 2" film.
June 19th, 2012
02:44 PM ET

The best dad of fantasy fiction

Like so many others, my thoughts were about celebrating with dad last weekend. But when you live on the opposite side of the country from your parents, one has to make do with a phone call.

I couldn’t help but reminisce during my chat with Dad. One particularly strong memory from when I was 11 came to mind. To trick my parents into thinking I was fast asleep instead of reading “Harry Potter” well past my bedtime, I would frequently use a blanket to keep lamp light from escaping under my bedroom door.

One evening, my dad encountered the makeshift barricade. Less than amused, he forbade me from reading late into the night again. Since I'm a nerd, I naturally found my way around his command.

There were plenty of reasons to disobey Dad when I was 11: Death Eaters, magic wands, Polyjuice Potions and Norwegian Ridgebacks. There was also Arthur Weasley, who reminded me so much of my father. Slightly bumbling and a kid at heart, he always put his family first.

Much like his enchanted Ford Anglia, there’s no real cause to notice something special about him until you take a closer look. FULL POST

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Filed under: Fandom • Father's Day
Students chow down on cyber security weaknesses
Hungry Hungry Hackers at Georgia Tech gives students hands-on cyber security training.
April 23rd, 2012
02:22 PM ET

Students chow down on cyber security weaknesses

A group of hackers gathering under one roof might not sound like such a good thing, but they’re far from what you would call cyber crooks.

They call themselves the Hungry Hungry Hackers, or H3, and they aren’t hungry for marbles or breaching others' personal information. They’re students hungry to learn to protect digital assets and information systems. They seek weak points in a network built for them on Georgia Tech's Atlanta campus, then try to strengthen them - it'  a safe, ethical space for students to test their skills in cyber-security.

CNN Geek Out spoke to Toni Walden and Joshua L. Davis from Hungry Hungry Hackers about hacking culture, H3 and their Hungry Hungry Hackers Campus Challenge, known as H3C2, which unfolded earlier this month. This is an edited transcript of the conversation.

CNN Geek Out: So what is Hungry Hungry Hackers all about and how did it start?

Walden: It seemed like students really wanted to learn more about information security. So a bunch of us together at (the Georgia Tech Research Institute), and with some help from (the Georgia Tech Information Security Center),  Georgia Tech Association for Computing Machinery and Georgia Tech Gray Hat, came together to create a series of different challenges for students to engage in. H3 is about creating a hacking platform where students can learn and grow their skill in a fun and safe way, and it’s about sharing that common interest we have when it comes to information security.

We think school provides a really good theoretical understanding of problems one might see in the field, but what lacks is a hands-on perspective. We just want to offer students with ethical and fun experiences.


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The secret to superhero success: Nerdiness
Peter Parker, seen here on the cover of "Peter Parker #2" from Marvel, is a little bit nerd and a little bit superhero.
March 15th, 2012
10:39 AM ET

The secret to superhero success: Nerdiness

What if someone is not “normal?” There's a word for those who don't quite fit in with the in-crowd and whose esoteric interests have stirred an array of bewildered looks from those who simply don’t understand.

One might say "nerd." These days, some are daring to say "superhero."

Over the past decade, superheroes have sprung from the pages of comic books and into the world of television and film with an explosive, cultural KAPOW! But before the box office hits superheroes were the stuff of comic books, graphic novels and the nerds who loved them.

Nerds and superheroes are permanently woven together in the tapestry of comic book fandom. Superheroes resonate with fans because there is an element of nerd and outsider identity within their character structure. Clark Kent is an alien; Professor X is a mutant; Tony Stark, a singularly ingenious engineer - all unique, different, and set apart from any "normal" community.

“Many traits that people associate with those who fall outside the norm fall into this reject category, but us nerds embrace these characters not because it’s “geeky,” but because we understand the stories behind the characters and relate to them,” said animator Paul Chapman. “I mean, Peter Parker is a nerd who becomes a superhero… maybe we all just need to tap into our own powers.” FULL POST

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Filed under: Comic Longbox
November 23rd, 2011
12:15 PM ET

Nerdmance... it’ll fog up your specs

Engagement photos. They bring to mind images of cozy afternoon picnics, romantic strolls on the beach and couple’s lovingly staring into one another’s eyes. And how can anyone forget wizards, mad tea parties, light sabers, slithering snakes and flesh-eating zombies! Right?

Say farewell to holding hands and frolicking into a picturesque sunset because nothing quite says, “I love you” like killing a zombie and braving the Temple of the Forbidden Eye.

“Engagement shoots are starting to branch out of traditional norms. Couples are discovering that they don’t need to do the standard or typical. They can do something that really brings out their personality,” said Diana Rush of Diana Rush Photography, who most recently finished an Indiana Jones e-session. “If you’re a couple who totally geeks over Star Wars or Star Trek, why not incorporate those elements into an engagement shoot or wedding?

And so if you’re a geek, odds are that cliché and predictable photos with you and your honey posing stiffly against a studio backdrop simply won’t do. Just ask Los Angeles photographer Amanda Rynda who captured couples Ben and Juliana Lee fighting off a zombie– a shoot that quickly infected the web and went viral.

“Juliana and Ben are total nerds! Juliana came to me with the idea saying, "We want to survive a zombie attack and then hug because we're in love." I thought that idea sounded like so much fun,” said Rynda. “They let their guards down and were themselves – quirky and all! And who doesn't love a little honest portrayal of love? Especially when it beats the crap out of some hungry zombie.” FULL POST

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It’s a wrap for the boy who lived, the brightest witch of her age, and the king
The DVD release of "Deathly Hallows: Part 2" marks the last goodbye for the movie franchise's cast.
November 11th, 2011
04:08 PM ET

It’s a wrap for the boy who lived, the brightest witch of her age, and the king

It all started on 4 Privet Drive and ended at King’s Cross. After 14 spellbinding years, mischief managed.

By now, the books and films have spanned 13 years of my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks to J.K. Rowling, the filmmakers and the cast of the Harry Potter movies, these years have been filled with more magic and imaginative splendor than any nerd could have asked for.

With the DVD and Blu-ray release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" out today, fans can get a glimpse of a poignant, behind-the-scenes clip showing the cast’s final day and heartbreaking goodbyes. (This will be just one of the extras for the DVD and Blu-ray.) And if you’ve grown up watching your favorite characters on screen, it is guaranteed to bring you to tears.

In the video, Matthew Lewis (the actor who plays fan favorite Neville Longbottom) says, “I don’t think in film history there has been anything quite like it. We’ve all grown up with these characters. With each other.”

Living in a post-Potter world has been quite strange. I think many of my fellow Potterheads can say they felt some kind of emptiness after coming home from watching "The Deathly Hallows: Part 2."  Can you say post-Potter depression? I cried more than I’d care to admit — breaking down in tears all the same for when it was touching, when it was sad and for when it triumphed.

And when the last scene faded to black, the realization instantly hit. No more films, no more midnight anticipation, no more dressing up. It felt as if some omnipotent, booming voice said, “the end.”

But is it really?


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