Summer 2011 Pentathanerd: Pinewood Lego Monkeyball II – Aerial Boogaloo

Dozens of brave Lego men kissed their Lego wives and kids goodbye to go forth and be launched from the Pinewood Lego Monkeyball II ramp in earlier this afternoon. Points were awarded per the color they landed the closest to.

Mark Seemann from the word filed this report:
“A wild set of entries graced the ramp of the Pinewood Lego Monkeyball ][ : Aerial Boogaloo event. From flying drones to boom arms to simple unaccompanied lego people, teams vied to land on gold for maximum points.

Nausea and Effortless struggled to find purchase on the points field; the Whom? had a clever plan to sneak in a quick landing for the maximum point area just below the end of the ramp, but failed to stick the landing.

The (Revenge of the) InterNerds teamed up to try out a last minute entry, succeeding in the end where others failed by launching a lucky solo lego person straight and true down the center to earn 600 points. For lack of definition, the head judge Kai E awarded both Revenge and InterNerds teams 600 points for their combined effort.

Then came Teh Awsumbs foray into Newtonian physics; a boom arm, counterweighted by a mostly full water bottle, suspended a lego person by a line which, when released from the start gate, swung out over the points field. Kai waited until the swinging slowed enough to judge that the lego person was sufficiently over the gold area, awarding Teh Awsumbs the maximum point value.

Not to be outdone, She! launched their simple vehicle. When it came to rest, a murmer went through the crowd as Justin H asked, “Is that it?” Then came the unique sound of an AR drone firing up, which (eventually) swooped down and magnetically attached to the vehicle, guiding it across the point field and over the gold area, past it, and off the board. Further attempts to regain the field were futile.

In later rounds, She! changed strategies and went with maximum dispersion, casting out the separated pieces of a lego person (or four, rather, as was learned after the event) onto the field. As the rules stated, if the lego person is in more than one area, the maximum point value of the fields is used, which earned She! 1000 points in the last round.

The overall standings after this event are:

4462 – Teh Awsumbs (event place: 1; event points: 1200)
3605 – Revenge (T3; 600)
3604 – The Whom? (5; 500)
3378 – InterNerds (T3; 600)
3294 – She! (2; 1000)
2708 – Nausea (6; 400)
2360 – Effortless (7; 300)

No lego people were harmed in the making of this event. Except for the four that She! used, which are currently in intensive care.”

Lego Luke: The making of a nerdy tribute to our fallen leader

Last week @the_nerdery tweeted about how some cultures commemorate their leaders in stone or on canvas, none of these mundane materials would do for Luke. No, instead The Nerdery’s memorial is in the nerdiest of media: Legos. Today, we’ve got a little Q&A with the nerd behind the portrait.

This amazing tribute in one our meeting rooms is the work of Dan Piscitiello a Nerdery programmer who was looking for a fitting way to honor Luke and something that could be enjoyed by the other co-presidents.

“I kind of wanted it to be out of the way, so when you first see the portrait it takes you by surprise,” Dan said. “The Legos in Brick House seemed like the perfect media in the perfect place.”

So what did it take to put together the portrait? Dan said he used his phone’s camera, a computer, Photoshop, and a printer.

He explains his process like this: “I started by taking pictures of all the different colored Legos in Brick House, then I took color samples of these images into Photoshop so I would know the color palette I was dealing with. For the picture of Luke, I just pulled his Nerdery profile picture off our website. After that it was ten or so steps in Photoshop as I played with different color schemes, posterization, and dithering options. At that point I enlarged the whole thing, placed a grid that represented individual pixels and hit print.”

The portrait took Dan about two weeks to complete because he faced a few setbacks along the way.

“One of my original color choices ran out of Legos early on,” he said. “At that point I had to dis-assemble and revisit Photoshop to pick a new color scheme. That first night I think I worked on it for about four hours. The next night I worked on it until I ran out of Legos.”

Running out of Legos was the biggest setback he face, and some days he’d spend a few hours scrounging The Nerdery looking for the pieces he needed.

“Some Nerds advised I check Simon’s desk,” Dan said. “His kids like to play with the Legos. Other Nerds offered to bring in their own Legos from home so I could finish. Some even offered to pay for the additional Legos and one SDM [software development manager] even authorized me to go get what I needed and the company would cover it.

“I went to the Lego store at the mall, had a lovely conversation with a very enthusiastic Lego store employee and decided that I should probably calculate the colors and sizes I needed instead of just blindly buying them. But when I came to work the next day I found out that Jessica also went to the Lego store the night before and had picked up what I needed to finish.

“That night I stayed after Bottle Cap, listening to a Nerd Day’s Night throwing down in the Theater and finished the portrait. I don’t know how many Legos were ultimately used, but I think they cover roughly a 100 x 90 pixel (or should I say, “peg?”) area.”

Though Jess kept Dan supplied with Legos, and a lot of Nerds offered to help, the Lego Luke portrait was a solo project.

“It was really kind of a therapeutic exercise for me,” he said. “A way to honor and remember Luke that hopefully the other Nerds would appreciate too.”

As some may know, The Nerdery is no stranger to creating homages to the people/characters we like out of unusual objects. There’s Rubik’s Mario and Luigi, and our famous Conan Cubed. So we asked Dan, how does Lego Luke stack up to Conan?

“I love Conan, and the Conan Rubik’s portraits were my original inspiration for a Luke portrait,” he said. “At the time I was thinking we should make a giant Rubik’s portrait of Luke for one of the walls in The Nerdery. Ever since then the idea of a Nerdy Luke portrait has been bubbling around in my head. In terms of nerdiness, I think Rubik’s Conan and Lego Luke are pretty evenly matched but for obvious reasons I think the Luke portrait bears more sentimental weight for those who knew him.”

Finally, we asked him what Luke would think of the memorial?

“I’d like to think Luke would get a kick out of it,” Dan said. “He’d probably have some self-effacing, witty remark, like I “perfectly captured his blocky chin,” or something in that vein. He was such a fun and inspiring guy to work for, we all miss him tremendously.”