Return of the Nerds: How Star Wars Episode 7 Made Geeks Cool Again

Last year something wonderful happened. Something many of us had waited years to see, something many of us thought we’d never see! A new Star Wars film was released. Now, unless you’ve been living under an Alderaan shaped rock for the past few years, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released in last year following intense marketing and it received a very positive reaction from fans.

For geeks like me, it was a really exciting time. We got to enjoy a reinvented and reimagined vision, completely separate from the prequels and all the good will George Lucas managed to squander. And suddenly, being a Star Wars geek in vogue again. Everyone and their dog were going to see this flick in theaters (several going multiple times)! So, I’m going to look at some of the ways Episode 7 made geeks cool.



Anticipation is so often the weakness of geeks and nerds. It is our greatest strength, but also our greatest weakness. I think a major appeal of the Star Wars films is their story and moral message. Star Wars always sees the good in people and that's a universal thing for many of us. This is just one of the major things about the film's that increased anticipation for Episode 7. People wanted to go on a journey again. They wanted to feel attached and emotional on their journey. It’s so hard not to get excited about a Star Wars film, but, when you do, it lets you down (Episode 1). But this was different; it was a new direction with Disney helming the movies. And the anticipation, even from people who weren't necessarily fans, made geeks mainstream once again!

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The Next Generation

It might seem blasphemous to use a Star Trek reference in a Star Wars post, but bear with me, okay?! See, one of the greatest things about a new Star Wars movie is seeing how all the young kids react to it. To many of them, this is a totally new thing they are experiencing for the first time. They are the next generation of Star Wars fans, and The Force Awakens really captured their imaginations. It washed away the stale aftertaste of the prequel trilogy. And now parents and kids alike could finally attend a Star Wars movie together and have the same experience. And I think that's such a big part of the appeal of these movies.

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Expanded Universe

Star Wars has always benefited from one of the strongest expanded universes of any franchise. You can get anything you could possibly want that relates to Star Wars. And, this has only intensified since Episode 7 became a runaway success. There are table top and card games such as the X-Wing Miniatures Game. There are video games like Star Wars: Battlefront, and there are many novels and comics as well. This expanded universe has become even more mainstream since the last film. And people who may not otherwise have dipped into it are doing so.


It’s pretty clear that geeks are back in now, and Star Wars, as always, has played a huge role in this. It seems that this movie captured the hearts and minds like no other Star Wars movie has managed recently, at least at the box office. And personally, I can't wait for both Rogue One and Episode 8 to come out!

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Building Fails: Common Problems in Modern Office Buildings

When we think about modern businesses, we often think about a bunch of people crammed in an office. To be fair, that statement could have been made at any point in the past three decades and it would have rung true. And, to be fair (again), modern offices certainly aren’t as dreary as they used to be. But there are now more people than ever working away each day in an office, sitting down for over eight hours for at least five days a week.


The problem here is that many modern offices suffer from a few building defects. Thankfully, they’re often things that can be remedied. And if these problems do affect your workplace, you should look into them as soon as you can. They affect the health and productivity of your employees, so get to it!


Indoor air quality

The air quality of your average interior isn’t great. Even modern homes that look clean are often filled with dusty, germ-infested air. Sturdy ventilation systems don’t seem to be as prominent in modern buildings as they once were. In offices, however, things are often much worse.

If you want your workers spending most of their week in the office, then it’s only fair that you get the air quality under control. You have to make sure the ventilation is working correctly, and that the air ducts are free from dust clogs. Any chemicals used in the building process, as well as throughout your tenure, will affect the air quality. Consider talking to the building owner, and perhaps look into getting an air filtration system.



The lifts

Problems with lifts (or elevators) seem to be getting more and more common all the time. It seems strange, given that our technology here should have evolved. But lifts installed in the past decade or so seem to be more prone to error than the ones that have been around for a long time.

I’m not someone who feels that comfortable in lifts at the best of times. But if it breaks down, or is running slowly? Then that will cause immense stress. It will also lose you time, which will drastically cut productivity. Getting these things fixed often take way too long. But this shouldn’t be the case, nor does it need to be the case. Make sure you look up the best lift maintenance service you can get.



Over-illumination isn’t something you may have heard of before, but you probably already know what I’m talking about. Over-illumination is such a prominent problem that it has its own Wikipedia article! An overabundance of artificial light is a problem in department stores, gyms, and - of course - offices.


There’s an over-reliance on fluorescent lighting in offices. It zaps away so much energy - and I’m not just talking about electrical energy. Worker energy is also affected. There are certain things you can do to maximize the light that does come in. But, if it’s up to you, you should look into adding windows and skylights. They’re not quick, easy, or cheap solutions, I’ll grant you that. But when you consider the positive effects of increased natural light? Whatever price you pay could end up being a bargain.


These are just a few examples of how you can improve your office space. Being intentional and thinking about all the details of your office and how they can better support your team is important. It impacts employee productivity and retention, two crucial parts of a successful company culture. Think about the return on these investments and you should be able to get buy-in to create a physical space for your team that works for them as hard as they work for you!

Strange Businesses You've Never Heard Of

For any business to be truly successful, it needs to be a little outside the box, and distinct from its competitors. However, there are some companies out there which have taken this to the extreme, and supply products or services which are just plain weird. Some are ingenious, some are ridiculous, and many straddle the line between the two. Here, we’ll look at some of the strange businesses that you never knew existed.


Prank Scented Candles

Image: Pixabay

Ever since they hit the shelves, scented candles have been exceptionally popular. The range of wonderful aromas you can get are wonderful for adding a little romance to an evening, or simply unwinding after a long day at work. Due to the sheer popularity of scented candles, it’s no surprise that some quirky entrepreneurs have turned the concept on its head. Brothers Mark and Tyler Ward are the evil geniuses behind the company WTF Prank Candles. These candles start off with a pleasant scent; pine or apple pie, for example, and slowly turn into something quite different, such as skunk spray, used diapers, and farts. If you’re planning to quit your job and pursue your own business ideas, then perhaps one of these would be a great way to thank your boss!


Games Developers from the Past

This is one for all of you who want to re-live those great days when you’d spend hours at the local arcade. If you can’t figure out how to get past the first mission on Grand Theft Auto, but you had the high score on Asteroids for years, then you may be interested in buying a console from Dream Arcades. This is a truly unique firm based in California, which recreates all the great arcade games from your childhood. Sure, they’re bespoke and not exactly cheap. Still, what could be better than having an (almost) genuine Ms. Pacman in your very own home? They supply both DIY kits and ready-made arcade machines, and seem to be growing strong. They’ve even delivered to the US research facility in Antarctica.


Designated Plate-Smashing Area

We’ve all had times in our lives where we’ve been so stressed and angry, that we need to take it out on something, anything. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something instantly satisfying about destroying an old cabinet with a hammer or beating the surface of your desk. Well, one entrepreneur caught onto this massive untapped market, and opened “The Smashing Place” in Tokyo. Here, you can go in, buy an inexpensive cup or plate, and then lob it at a concrete wall. Based in a bustling business district, this weird business has attracted countless stressed office workers who’d rather be chucking crockery at someone from work, but can’t do the jail time. Unfortunately, this hasn’t taken off anywhere outside of Japan. Still, it isn’t totally ridiculous to think that we’ll start seeing them in London or New York.


There you have just a few of the weird and wonderful businesses out there. If you thought your idea would never take off, I hope it’s given you a little faith!

3 Hacks for Students to Enjoy Entertainment on a Budget

There are many times during our university years where we have a lot of free time. Typically, we like to fill this time by entertaining ourselves. We watch TV, listen to music, and have long gaming sessions.

But, being a student, we also often don’t have enough cash for everything we want and need. Luckily, I have some hacks that ensure you can entertain yourself without breaking the bank!


Make Use Of Free Music Trials

As a student, music is essential to campus life. Have you ever tried studying without listening to your favorite tunes? It’s near enough impossible, especially when you have noisy people in the dorm next to you! However, music costs money, and money is something students don’t have a lot of. Sure, there are sites like SoundCloud that provide free streaming for you to enjoy. But, you don’t get access to the latest hits and can’t download them. One trick I’ve learned is that paid subscription services all offer free trials. Google Play Music, Apple Music. Spotify and Deezer all offer decent trial periods. Plus, depending on your phone manufacturer/network, you often get extended deals. My advice is to use as many free trials as you can and experience all the benefits of a premium music service.


Free Movie Streaming

Everyone likes to Netflix and chill once in awhile. The problem is, a lot of students can’t afford to pay the streaming prices. Sure, Netflix is fairly cheap, but, it’s still too much for some of us. So, how on Earth are we going to watch films and TV shows without a streaming service? Well, there are two options available for you. Firstly, you can download one of the many Free Movie Apps out there. These are apps on your phone that allow you to watch a load of great movies without paying a penny. Secondly, you can try your luck on YouTube. Again, this is a free service, and some people may upload TV episodes for you to enjoy. Plus, there’s a load of original content to watch on YouTube that may whet your appetite. Personally, I’ve wasted away hours in between lectures just binge watching some of my favorite YouTubers.


Buy Pre-Owned/Free Games

Now, I know some of you might spot a slight problem here. If you can’t afford a Netflix or music subscription, how can you afford games? More to the point, how on earth will you afford a games console?! Well, my argument is that a lot of students have games consoles before they go to college. Plus, buying a pre-owned game is different to buying a subscription that you pay every month. You can save a lot of cash getting your games pre-owned instead of fresh. Plus, check the store on your games console now and then. Both Playstation and Xbox users can get free games every month or so. This means you can still game, without having to spend a fortune.


Following these tips, you’ll have all the entertainment you need, without needing to spend a lot of money. That way, you can spend more on all the other things you need to succeed and enjoy your time on campus.

What other tips do you have for saving money as a student? Let me know in the comments!

Gaming and the Antisocial Myth, Debunked

When you think of people playing games, what pictures does it bring to mind? For many people with no understanding of gaming, it’s still a stereotype. They will often imagine the social recluse, hiding away in a bedroom, tapping furiously on a keyboard or controller. It’s a narrative that has existed ever since home computers became popular - and it doesn’t seem like it is going away at times.

I find this odd, I must admit. I've gamed my entire life and love to play alongside or against other people. After all, way back in 2008 a study into gaming found that three-quarters of all gamers played with other people either online or in person. This is objectively about as far from antisocial as it can get. But, here were are, eight years down the line and it’s still a view that many people have of gaming. I thought I would pull together some ideas to prove that, far from being a lonely activity, the community is very much part of the gaming experience.


The arcade

Back in the early days, most people only had the option of hitting their arcade if they wanted to play the latest games. And, while most games were only one or two players, it was still a social experience. In fact, arcades were home to all different kinds of groups, who often when on to form significant communities. There was a little too much competition at times, of course. But overall, ask anyone who remembers the early days and you will get a positive response.


Home PCs and consoles

It was only when home computers became widespread and consoles became popular that people started playing alone. Even then, that period didn’t last long. People would always look for multiplayer games, even before broadband made MMOGs possible. Now, of course, when you find the best games online, you'll tend to find  thousands of other people playing them, too. It's a chance to connect with people from all over the world, make new friends, and join a community of like-minded others.


Board games

Don’t forget; gaming isn’t just about sitting in front of a screen and pushing some buttons. Board games are still relevant now as they have ever been. And these highly complex games are a lot of fun to play, and most rely on a group of people getting together. Even the mainstream success of games like Cards Against Humanity (which I personally love) could be used as evidence for the social benefits of gaming.


Roleplaying games

Another are to think about is role playing games. Again, the best RPGs involve a group of people coming together. RPGs rely on groups, and to think that makes players antisocial is pretty wide of the mark. In fact, the whole point of RPGs is that you come together as a group and try to solve a problem. It teaches you everything you need to know about teamwork - and a lot more besides.


The future...

Finally, let’s take a look at where games are going right now and into the future. A quick look at Pokemon Go’s success will reveal that social gaming is close to exploding. And I, for one, look forward to seeing what comes next.

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