My Favorite Things: History-Based Television, Geeky Productivity Apps, Villainous Soundtracks, and Catching Them All

They might not be raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but that doesn’t mean that we love them any less. Welcome back to My Favorite Things, a weekly column where we gab about the greatest in geek. This week’s column includes a television show tailor made for Game of Thrones fans, more love for the Suicide Squad soundtrack, and not one, but two apps that both fun AND good for you. Read on for more details.

Nicole’s Favorite Thing is… Vikings!


I’m not sure what it was that made the History Channel decide to join in with the creation of an original TV series (everyone else was doing it? Game of Thrones was super popular?), but whatever the case, they developed Vikings — and they did a damn fine job of it. Part history-based, part fiction, and with a smattering of the supernatural (visions, omens, the occasional Odin raven), it’s the kind of show that fantasy fans can easily get behind. Love Game of Thrones? Vikings has all the battles, intrigue, betrayal, and yes, sexy time, that you can throw a sword at. Let’s face it — all you’re really missing is a triad of dragons. At the start you may be hard-pressed to pick a favorite character, and at the end of the first season, hard-pressed as to who you want to die the least. I’m finally caught up, and at first wondered if this would be the final season, but the total cliffhanger answered that question. The sad part? I’ll have to wait until 2017 for it. But hey, at least that gives the rest of you plenty of time to catch up, as well as something to watch while you suffer that Game of Thrones withdrawal.


Venessa’s Favorite Thing is… Habatica!


So My Favorite Thing isn’t actually spec media. It’s a productivity app that makes my inner geekgirl happy! It’s called Habitica and it’s a way to gamify your tasks. You start out with a level 1 adventurer. You can set up things you want to make good Habits (exercises, eating more veggies, writing, reading, etc) and penalties for engaging in bad habits (eating too much sugar, procrastinating, watching too much TV/spending too much time playing video games, etc). You can set up your regular Dailies, which are the tasks you do every day or on certain days (every Tuesday, for example). Then there is a general To Do list, for those random things you have to get done. Each time you check something off, you get Experience, Gold/Silver, and Mana points. At level 10, you choose which class you want to be in, which comes with special abilities and the ability to buy class-specific equipment. There are Quest scrolls, pets to “hatch,” feed, and eventually turn into Mounts to ride. There are game Rewards and you can set specific rewards for yourself (maybe an hour of game time or buying a new book). There is an entire Social area where you can connect with other Habiticans, do Challenges, and join Groups to do Quests together. About every quarter, there is a giant site-wide event where the entire place battles an uber-monster and gets special equipment once it’s defeated.

All in all, this is probably my favorite productivity app ever! And with web access and mobile apps on both Android and Apple, you can access your tasks and your little adventurer from anywhere. If you give Habitica a try, let me know how you like it in the comments below!


J.L. Gribble’s Favorite Thing is… Pokemon GO!


Like approximately 97.3% of the world’s population, I have been sucked down the rabbit hole of Pokemon GO. As in the case of most nerdy things, I’m doing it in a way that would horrify “traditional” gamer nerds. I don’t go out of my way to collect Pokemon, instead firing up the game when I take my daily walks and catching whatever happens to wander in my way. I’m not really interested in the combat aspect of capturing gyms, though that might change once they introduce player-versus-player battles. But how I play, or anybody else plays, the game doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’ve walked more outside this summer than on a treadmill in the gym. I’ve wandered around my town in the evening rather than hiding at home with Netflix, saying hi to other people playing the game. And I know a lot of other people have experienced the same things. I could give a lecture on the gamification of health, but instead I’ll leave it at this: People are outside, people are getting exercise, and most importantly, people are having fun.


suicide-squad-soundtrack-640x640.jpegNu’s Favorite Thing is… the Suicide Squad Soundtrack!

I confess, I’m a Marvel girl, but I’m going to check out Suicide Squad. Not only am I a big fan of some of the actors, but also anytime bad guys come together to be the good guys, I’m in! Right now, I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m in love with the soundtrack. I’ve had it on repeat for almost a week. I’m used the “superhero” soundtracks with the grand orchestras and sweeping score music. For a movie like Suicide Squad, they featured rap and rock. It’s a heavy album, symbolic of the villains in the movie. After listening to the soundtrack, I’m eager to get to a movie theater to see how the music plays out on screen!

What you’re favorite thing this week? Any thoughts on the selections above?


  • Shara White August 22, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Pretty big fan of VIKINGS here. Lagertha is an absolute favorite, and her storyline has progressed and evolved in fascinating ways. I’m curious to see where the back half of this last season takes us!

  • Sharon Patry August 22, 2016 at 7:45 am

    I love Vikings, too! Although I didn’t think last season was very tight, plot-wise, I can be patient and see how things progress. What I love the most is that Hirst tries hard to tell the story with the least amount of contemporary filter possible which makes for lots of “wtf are they doing?” moments. And Travis Fimmel really FEELS like a Viking when you’re watching–impossible to understand and scary as sh*t.

    • Shara White August 22, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Is it me, or has Aslaug gotten a wee bit too crazy?

      • ntaft01 August 22, 2016 at 11:49 am

        I feel like a LOT of them are a wee bit too crazy these days. xD

  • Nancy O'Toole Meservier August 22, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Venessa, ever since you submitted this, Habitica has a been a life saver for me 🙂

    Also, I have only caught 62 Pokemon. I feel like a slacker.

    • J.L. Gribble August 22, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Don’t feel bad! The way the different Pokemon spawn is so location-based that I have only caught/hatched/evolved my way to 91 unique creatures, despite my relatively high level.

    • Shara White August 22, 2016 at 10:34 am

      I’m not entirely sire how long Habitica would work for me personally. Reward-driven systems don’t tend to work well for me long term.

      • Venessa.G August 24, 2016 at 10:34 pm

        @Shara: For me, it isn’t the reward-driven part that keeps me going. It’s the character-building. I mean, I’m a huge Civilization geek and I can’t even remember ever willing by conquest. I always won by building or scientific achievements or whatever. So leveling the character up, hatching the pets, turning them into mounts, etc, those are the things that have kept me playing Habitica for a couple years now. And, honestly, I usually get all excited about a productivity app for about two months, then I’m off to something else. There are things I think Habitica needs to improve (ability to skip dailies when appropriate, etc), but it’s actually kept me interested a lot longer than most 🙂

    • Venessa.G August 24, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      I’m glad you’re having fun with it, Nancy! 🙂 Definitely look at the help files too, because the whole thing is a lot bigger than it even seems! 🙂

      • Nancy O'Toole Meservier August 25, 2016 at 8:12 am

        I just discovered pets!

        • Venessa.G August 25, 2016 at 9:43 am

          Pets and quests are probably my two most favorite things on Habitica! 🙂

  • Kelly McCarty August 22, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    I never saw the first season of Vikings, but I faithfully watched the second season. I started losing interest in the third season when the English characters started to become more prominent and the focus turned more to politics. Do the later seasons improve? For some reason, I can never seem to keep track of when this show airs new episodes and what time it comes on.

    • Shara White August 23, 2016 at 11:18 am

      Critics have complained about the attention paid to the English and then later, French storylines. I find it interesting myself but understand the frustration.

  • Kelly McCarty August 22, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    I meant to add that the blood eagle scene was one of the most intense and chillings things I have ever seen on television.

  • Sherry peters August 22, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    I’m going to have to try Habitica. I might even recommend it to my clients!

    • Venessa.G August 24, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      Definitely let me know what you think, Sherry!

  • Venessa.G August 24, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    I have been a HUGE fan of Vikings since the very first episode! I agree with Sharon that the last season wasn’t as well done. I still think the first season was the best, because it felt so historically accurate (so much of it was drawn from actual historical sites, etc). But I’m still a faithful watcher!

  • Sherry Peters October 3, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Venessa, I can’t thank you enough for recommending Habitica! I’m not the best user yet, but it is a great reminder and it works better than a calendar does for me. But the best part is that I had a student in my office today (working at a University), who has trouble with ADD and needs some structure, but is also bad with calendars. When I told him about Habitica, and how he can set reminders for himself and habits and get rewarded, his face lit up! He was relieved. I think he was dreading that I was going to make him pull out his calendar and write down what he needs to do each day and when. I may yet, but he needs daily goals to keep him focused, and I think this will help him.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: