Monday, February 28, 2011

Replica Swords

While it is awesome, it's also useless.
In the past I've mentioned my affinity for swords. They are an excellent zombie fighting tool. Razor sharp edges, good leverage and high durability are just a few of the benefits they have. They also look amazingly cool. Do you know what doesn't look cool? Getting eaten by zombies because you tried to kill one with a "sword" you bought from Wal-Mart or QVC.

There are several important differences between Replica Swords and real swords. First off all, if it is the broken sword from Lord of the Rings it's useless. The same goes for the sword of Gryffindor, Conan's sword and the Blade of Omens. While all of those are worth owning, they are not for killing zombies. If it is patterned off a weapon from a movie just grab a crowbar instead.

Now that that is out of the way we can continue to the second difference. Not all replica swords are based on movies. Here's an easy test. Is your sword sharp? If it's not sharp it will have a lot of trouble tearing through zombies. If you can lightly run your finger along the length of the edge and you wind up with no blood coming from said finger you probably have a costume sword. This is most likely useless. First, find out if it's hollow. Many replica swords have hollow cores to make them lighter. You also don't have the equipment to sharpen a sword to an edge. So if your sword has no edge already, back to the crowbar.

You don't want a sword that will do this.
Now if, by some miracle, you have a sword that is not based on a movie, is not hollow and is razor sharp, you still have some tests to do. Here are two easy ways to tell if this sword of yours will be worth anything in the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse. Both of these tests should be relatively safe if you have a sword worth fighting zombies with. Neither of them will be safe at ALL if it turns out to NOT be a real sword worth using. The first test is to lay the sword on the ground and smack the blade with a hammer. Not as hard as you can, it's not meant to take too much damage from the flat side. Be careful. If the sword snaps there will be flying shards of razor sharp metal careening around your room, face and eyes. This can cause serious injury and/or death. Serious injury and/or death are to be avoided at all costs prior to the zombie invasion.

If that worked and you didn't end up with a two foot sliver of metal sticking out of your eye, go chop some wood. Really. Go. I don't mean try to cut down a tree. I mean like firewood. Go split a log. It will take a few tries to get this right. A sword is not an ax. If you get through the log and your sword isn't broken, congratulations. You have a tool that can be used to kill zombies effectively. If your sword shattered the go get your crowbar.
If you think this is a good idea then just let
the zombies kill you. You're doing us a favor.

Professor ZK recommends against doing anything ever mentioned in this blog. He assumes no liability if you take this seriously. Do not try any of this at home. Swords are not toys, but they are awesome. If you haven't been trained to handle a sword, please don't attempt to use one.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Classes Cancelled for the Week

All lessons are cancelled this week. The Professor is giving a presentation at a Zombie Suppression and Prevention conference this week. Classes will resume on Monday. Please have all homework and papers ready on Monday.

Friday, February 18, 2011

RDF 4: Watson

The enemy
Over the past week I have considered several topics for today's lecture, but after the metal mind's most recent triumph how can I not talk about that IBM wonder of computational power, Watson? As you know, I have been rather skeptical about the idea of a robotic rebellion happening. No longer.

The face of our new Overlord.
As most of America has discovered while the rest of the world is becoming more and more embroiled in civil unrest and rebellion, robotics has struck a devastating blow against humanity. They have finally defeated us at our own game. Yes, that's right. Humanity's highest competition of trivia, humor, puns and language has been invaded by robots. Our two greatest Jeopardy heroes have been utter destroyed by an incredible combination of hardware and software.

Now, I'm truly amazed by this feat. The fact that the computer can understand, process and respond in natural language is incredible and terrifying. What is even more terrifying is that IBM plans on unleashing this magical monstrosity on the world of healthcare. Can you imagine poor, sweet old Grandma Mary having to deal with Dr. Watson? I would weep for the elder generation, if not for the looming Zombie Apocalypse. My one consolation in this situation is that the era of our new robotic overlords will not start until after the zombie apocalypse, and who knows. They may even step in to save us before enslaving us for all time.

This guy knows.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Zombies Vs. Hipsters: A Guide

Like many of you, I was a bit alarmed when I first laid eyes upon the modern abomination that is the Hipster. Again, like many of you, I naturally mistook them for zombies. Between their complete disinterest in anything mainstream and their complete lack of the ability to like anything, they are very easy to confuse for those infected with ZPlague.

This could easily be a zombie.
Needless to say, several bodies later I was explaining to the police what had happened. They understood and told me not to do it again. So to keep you from getting into the same embarrassing situation with your local law enforcement I have decided to lecture today on the difference between Zombies and Hipsters.

Now there are several distinguishing marks you can look for to differentiate between a Hipster and a Zombie. If it is a male, and yes, I know it can be hard to tell, but if you think it is a male, look to the pants. If said entity is wearing pants that were way to small for them six years ago, they are most likely a hipster. Hipsters have a habit of wearing skinny jeans that, besides needing vasoline to get on, do not come past their crotches. These pants are usually brightly colored, patterned and occasionally plain denim (rarely.) Their lower hips may also be encircled in a belt that has (1) studs, (2) chrome, (3) comic book, halftone print, or (4) plaid.

Even I'm not sure
about this one.
Another important distinguishing factor is the ever-present scarf. I know it has an official name, but I don't care enough to find it out. It's a scarf. Now, I've worn scarfs. They keep your neck and face warm. If you see a zombie wearing a scarf with a thin, short sleeve shirt and no jacket, be careful. That is NOT a zombie. It is a Hipster.

There are many similarities that could trip you up. Neither zombies nor hipsters have any interest in popular culture. If a movie star walks down the street, a zombie would only be interested in eating him. A hipster feels much the same way, but without the interest in eating him. Both zombies and hipsters have unhealthy, clammy looking skin. This comes from the disease on the zombies end. The hipsters bring it on themselves by spending too much time out at night at clubs you haven't heard of, listening to music you wouldn't know. Unless you do, in which case the hipsters hated it anyway.

In closing, Hipsters are not Zombies. Yes, I was confused as well, but it turns out they are just humans. Terrible, terrible humans. So please, don't bash their heads in with a bat. You will get in trouble. Their fathers are probably lawyers or doctors. Leave them alone. In all other aspects avoid them as you would zombies. The last thing we need is for you to catch Hipster.

Friday, February 11, 2011

RDF 3: Preparing Your Defense

Robots are a strange subject for me. I am fascinated by them. I think they have the potential for great things. The problem is that those great things may not involve us. Unlike zombies, which I know are coming and am prepared for, robots may never revolt. If they do, however, we should be prepared. With that in mind I give you our third installation of Robo-Defense Fridays.

Preparing Your Defense Against the Robotic Aggressor.
Notice the many weak spots
Every robot is different. They are created with their own strengths and specialties. Some will be very easy to dispatch. The AR-Drones, for example, are made of very flimsy materials and can be destroyed easily. A simple bat will completely demolish them. Any sufficiently small robot with propellers can be made ineffective simply by blocking or destroying at least one propeller.

Sent to the spice mines of Kessel
Bipedal robots have their own share of weak points. While they can move in a much more diverse terrain than treaded or wheeled robots, that come at the expense of having joints. Joints are necessary weak points in their structure. In order for the legs and arms to bend as needed for inadequate mobility they must be constructed in such a way that makes these joints prime targets for your weapons.

Who the hell thought this
was a good idea?
Then we have monstrosities such as this fellow. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to make an ai controlled tank? If you're looking for a weakness I can't help you. If you know of a weakness, please, for the love of god, share it. My only advice when confronting this terrifying beast is to run, hide and pray. Preferably upstairs. I don't know that stairs would stop it, but every bit helps.

If you have access to an EMP generator, that should disable any non military robot. Of course, against non-military robots conventional weapons should be effective anyway, so no need.

As a final note, if you see these guys, give up. You're already dead.
Sorry, the rest of the world is going with you.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tools of the Sun

Survival is as much about gear as it is about skills. As much as I'd like to say otherwise, our society has come to rely way to much on electronics. Most of us feel a sense of withdraw when we leave our cell phones at home. Imagine if you never had access to it again. We need them. And the truth is smart phones are very useful, even if there is no cellular reception left. Even if all of the towers have been torn down by zombies and no information is flying through the skies, our smartphones have a purpose. Not only is your phone a camera (extremely useful in many scenarios,) but it is a calendar, notepad, organizer, flashlight and many other things. Keeping your smart phone in case of the zombie apocalypse is essential. If there is still cellular service you can call for help or organize a resistance. If not, it's a very useful tool.

Maglight: It's a flashlight AND a weapon.
There is an issue with electronics in a post apocalyptic world, however. Power. Zombies don't need it, but you will. The mindless hordes are currently content to wander around going bump in the night. Personally? I like a flashlight. Now unless you're burning torches (unlikely, but fun) you are going to need power. The best source of power in a non-functioning power grid is solar energy. It's free, it's plentiful and it never runs out (unless it's raining or night.) Now, I know some of you are thinking, "But ZK, I don't have a solar power plant near me." Well you're correct, but you could.

Solar Panel Messanger Bag
Solar cells are not expensive, and they are getting cheaper by the day. Once you have a solar panel, it is a relatively simple process to attach it to a backpack or bag a run the wires to your devices. This will allow you to have unlimited power and give you the ability to recharge your phone or rechargeable batteries anywhere. It won't give you enough juice to power a laptop, but I doubt you'll need a laptop to survive against zombies.

If you are interested in constructing one of these wonderful survival bags for yourself you can find instructions here. It's not a hard process, but it is a bit complicated. If you'd rather just purchase a pre-assembled solar panel bag, my good friend and compatriot, Mr. X, has recommended the Eclipse Solar Bag. Eclipse Solar Gear has plenty of products to keep your gadgets powered after the zombies destroy our current infrastructure.

Keep your eyes open. Remember your training and you will survive.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Death is in the Details

Cure or cause?
As a man who aims to survive this coming winter of our discontent zombie attack, I prefer try to stay abreast of possible causes and defenses that could be involved with the ZPlague. To that end I tend to keep a keen eye on medical technology and advancement. Today I learned about a team of scientists who are working on a super-vaccine for every strand of the flu. The team is doing this by targeting the interior cells of the flu instead of attacking the ever mutating outer shell.

If successful, and if it works properly, this could provide an important breakthrough in zombie survival. If we can reliably and consistently attack the core of a virus to eliminate it, we may be able to use the same technology and techniques to vaccinate against the Zombie Plague. If we can prevent our families and friends from becoming zombies in the first place we will never have to break out our weapons. We can continue life in peace, while zombies are kept, like lab rats, in secure labs to be studied and experimented on. Perhaps the remaining scientists will be able to find a cure for those already infected.

If successful, but working improperly, this could turn out to be the cause of the ZPlague. If the vaccine begins attacking the underlying structure of the virus and accidentally causes it to mutate, we could have the beginnings of our very own man-made zombie apocalypse.

The Face of Evil
So this is a medical development that I will be following with hope and trepidation. What we really don't want is a strain of the Zombie Plague spread through flu-like means. Let us continue to hope that it will remain transferable only through body fluids, and not through touch or, worse yet, airborne means.

(Disclaimer: ZK is not a licensed medical doctor, nor does he claim to be. ZK may be completely mistaken on all points in this article. ZK assumes no liability for medical actions taken on his advice and believes that vaccines are important and essential for the healthy growth of children...assuming you are foolish enough to have a child so close to the coming apocalypse.)

Friday, February 4, 2011

RDF 2: The Hidden Danger

We're Doomed.
This week on Robo-Defense Fridays we go into the form factor of robots. When most people think of robots coming to take over the world they think of bipedal, humanoid robots. Two legs attached to a torso, which in turn has two arms and a head attached by the neck. Issac Asimov proposed a reason for this in some of his stories. Our society is set up with tools, transportation and utilities intended for use by bipeds. Robots could be constructed specifically for each task, with each new task requiring years of research, development and construction, or society could build robots with the ability to use our current infrastructure, which means bipeds.

Enter SkyNet
People are inherently wary of bipedal robots. We've all seen what happens when you let them get out of hand. (See left for precursor to death) Humanoid robots are also getting realistic enough that they are beginning to fall into the uncanny valley. They just feel wrong at an instinctual level. Where the real danger rests is in the networked systems and autonomous, non-humanoid robots. Insidious little guys like the AR-Drones. Because they don't look human, we don't have the same level of distrust toward them. There are even systems being put into place now that will let robots interface with a central database to download the programming they need on their own. Who thought that was a good idea? I don't know, but I'd like to introduce him to John Conner or William Adama.

Aww. Look at the cute, little deathbot.
Luckily, right now these mechanical threats are easy enough to deal with. AR Drones can be broken with your hand. Most robots can be taken out by a simple weapon (baseball/cricket bat.) But the days of such easy fixes are dwindling. As we speak, suicidal scientists are trying to develop new weapons and capabilities for the machines to use against us. There will be other methods developed to fight them. We will survive, but you must remain ever vigilant. Stay on your guard. Use technology, but never lose your suspicion. It will keep you alive.

Admiral William Adama.
A man who knew the dangers of networked robots.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Man and his Dog

As we look back at the many themes of zombie fiction, one of the prevailing images we see over and over again is the survival of a man and his dog. There is a relationship that forms between Man and His Best Friend that is different from the bond between man and any other thing. A dog is eternally loyal, always protective and will love you unconditionally. As a matter of fact, they make excellent companions for a family or person on their own in the Zombie Apocalypse. Assuming the disease is a human born strain that a dog can't catch, it will be the best protector you could imagine. In the case that animals can become infected you probably want to stay as far away from dogs as possible. They chew things.

That said, not just any dog will do. You do not want to burden yourself with a small dog, slightly bigger than a rat. It will be more than useless and may slow you down at a time you need to move quickly. Ideally, we are looking for a breed that has traditionally been used as guard dogs. I find that Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds best exemplify the qualities we are looking for. These two breeds, though they have scary reputations, are two of the most loving, loyal, dedicated and protective breeds around. Because they have been bred for loyalty and protection they tend to adopt the people they are with. They treat you as a member of their family and protect you as such. And these dogs are fully capable of protecting you.

Treat your dog right and it will not only take care of you, but it will take care of your family. They will let you know when zombies are approaching. They will protect you if they deem something a threat. They will love you and your family or group.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Group Number

This is a bit of a controversial topic. There are many differing opinions on the proper number of people in a group for optimized survival chances. Some people believe that getting a large group together is best. Some think a person should go it alone, maybe with a dog. I, on the other hand, believe in a small group. Ideally four or five. Seven is the max number of people that should be in your group. After seven it becomes hard to keep track of everybody. When you lose track of people you have an increased chance of a member of your party becoming infected without anyone noticing. 

If you know a Navy Seal, he is the leader. Don't argue it.
An important part of surviving as a group in the Zombie Invasion is decisiveness. Democratic systems are all well and good, but when decisions need to be made in emergency situations someone needs to step up and make those decisions. Nothing will get your group killed faster than standing around debating options. To that end a leader MUST be selected. His orders, in survival situations, are to be followed. The leader has to be someone that everyone trusts to work in the entire group's best interest.

This, in my opinion, is the system that will give you the best chance for survival.