Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 2015

I've had thoughts of starting a new blog. Most of the reasons I started the blog was to reach out to certain goals and achievements as a writer, seek out milestones and roads to wander on. It feels like I've done a lot of that, and that I need to move on to building my own website or checking out something like Tumblr.

I'd like to change the tone and make my blog less personal and more about the crafting process I engage to make all my things.

Life Hacks For Writers

I Make Text

Word Craft & Pixel Smithing

I want a catchy title, something that is concise, but encompasses what I do.

Also, I want to start cooking again next year, and maybe do a cookbook.

Even saying that makes me feel old.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Self Promotion

Self promotion via the Internet is an interesting beast.

I've been playing on Twitter for about a month, a couple hours a day, to see if it is the social media option everyone seems to think it is. I've managed to quadruple my following in that time but I still have no clue how Twitter really works or the best method of using it for promotion. I would imagine it is like anything else, you have to buy advertising for it to be really useful.

I'm holding off on spending any money until I've got more product on the market. I wouldn't mind having six novellas for Uroboros Saga and maybe one of another series before I start giving the Internet my advertising dollar. Most people seem to think that if your book doesn't sell like crazy on the first day it is a failure. I don't think that selling your works on online works that way.

I think you'll have to give away a lot of free stuff, make a lot of product on a predictable schedule, and do all the free self promotion you can in the meantime. Being successful online as a content creator takes time and patience. All the people I look to for examples have been tirelessly giving the online community their talents for almost a decade and have probably starved a little in the process.

I've spend some time being discouraged with it all. Putting out even a single book is a lot of work and I know that some of what goes to the market isn't perfect because of the release schedule I keep. I think when I have more product out there, my audience will find me and see that I'm serious, I just have to keep my head down and make text. Fortunately, I don't lack for things I want to write about and producing content relative to ten or more Uroboros Saga books is very doable.

I'd like to hit my release schedule early, or at least produce the works for it so I can focus on other things. I'd like to get my dev partner @livestrom all he needs for assets to make Earth Inclusive feature complete. I'd like to write the text for my "A Boy Builds" book and maybe combine everything I've done for "Dreams & Echoes" into a single massive tome and make a bad ass cover for it. Also, producing a working version of Storytelling Sciences is still on my list.

2015 will be busy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Microsoft Universal Keyboard

Picked up Microsoft’s Universal Mobile Keyboard via Amazon yesterday and I’ve spent the morning getting used to typing on it. I had been using a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard as my portable but it felt huge in my bag alongside my Thinkpad 10. Microsoft’s UMK will actually slide inside the sleeve with my tablet, a definite plus. 

The keyboard, particularly with the keyboard attached has some heft to it. The cover accounts for some of that weight as it can detach and serve as a stand for your tablet. Depending on the tablet it can have two positions, but my Thinkpad 10 is too slender for both, working at about the 45 degree angle only. The case and keyboard attach to one another via magnets. 

This is a small keyboard. Being me, my hands adapted to it quickly, but if you’re used to a full sized mechanical keyboard there will be a transition period to endure. The keys have pretty good travel, given the size of the device, and have a satisfying thud that accompanies each keystroke. So far all the features work and I’ve had no typing errors like what plagued me with Logitech devices. 

I don’t have an Android device to test it with, but the Microsoft UMK has a switch allowing you to pair it with Windows, Android, or iOS devices. The transition is easy. As I write this, I’m jumping between my iPad Mini and Thinkpad 10, opening and closing the same document in Word. I don’t think the frequencies are specific, as I was able to pair the iPad while the toggle switch on the keyboard was set to Android. Likely, you could pair the keyboard to any three Bluetooth devices you want, and the markings are just a way to sort that out.

Update 11/20/2014: This keyboard does not work with Windows Phone. I knew that when I bought it, but thought I should include that for anyone reading this. Add it to the list of ways Microsoft have left Windows Phone users out in the cold. 

iPad Mini w/ MS UMK 
Thinkpad 10 w/ MS UMK
From top to bottom; UMK, iPad Mini, Thinkpad 10

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

Five Years, Sum Total

I started writing full time in September of 2009. I let the milestone blow by without giving it more than a gentle nod. I looked back at some of my old posts for some of that brutal introspection I used to talk about all the time. I love-hate reading my old posts, but they give me a lot of perspective I'm thankful for.

In five years, I've gained some things.

  • At will, I can sit down and just write. It doesn't matter what it is, I can sit down, and just go. 
  • I know who my friends are. More than that, they know who I am. 
  • The perspective that comes from having self-published three books. 
  • The experience of releasing our (Livestrom and I) first game for a mobile platform. 
  • More bags. 

In that same span, I've lost some things.

  • The false certitude my faith once gave me about the nature of all things. 
  • A great deal of personal darkness and anxiety about life.   
  • People. Circumstance and death have robbed me of a few. 
  • My spot in Idaho. Fortunately, Kansas is letting me crash on the couch.   
  • Many hair ties, and at least one pair of sandals.  

I wouldn't have gained anything without a few choice friends, family and allies. October also marked fifteen years of my wife and I being a couple. Success isn't measured in book sales or Twitter followers, but by the number of people with their hands at your back pushing you forward. The third book was the most difficult to produce, and would have been delayed some additional assistance.

Thanks Dad.

If you liked the layout, arrangement, and cover work for my books, rejoice. Red Couch Creative and I will be working together for a similar release schedule in 2015. There will likely be 2nd editions for Uroboros Saga 1 and 2, with new covers as well. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


I remember laying in my own driveway, breathing heavily and wondering what to do next as I looked at my mauled leg. I limped inside my house, and took a moment to cool down. My first instinct was to arm myself, and go after the dog, make sure it didn't hurt anyone else. Being who I am, I had all sorts of mental preparation for preventing myself becoming a victim, but not much in the way for grappling with actually being one.

When I went over to the neighbor, he was there with his friend (who owned the dog). The dog freaked out, lunging at me again barking and basically going crazy.

I backed slowly away with my hands raised in a non-threatening manner.

I cried out, "your dog attacked me," and pointed at the wounds.

My neighbor turned to his friend shaking his head, and said "told you".

The dog owner seemed baffled that I had a problem, even as blood ran down into my socks. It wasn't until I explained the legal situation he was in that it sort of dawned on him what was going on. In the end they paid for my medical bills and the dog went away. That would have been the outcome regardless as soon as I called the police. In the end it didn't come to that, but the encounter changed me forever.

Tuesday afternoon while I was on a stroll, a large black dog rushed at me, barking and going basically bat crap loco. The owner, trailed behind screaming and freaking out at the dog, basically mimicking the dog's behavior.

I backed slowly away with my hands raised in a non-threatening manner.

Having been attacked and bitten by dogs more than once, I'm pretty much done with the animals. In every case I was just minding my own business, and the dogs went after me. In every case, the dog had an owner that was imperceptibly brighter  As an adult it was in my own driveway. I have had extremely close encounters with Pitt Bulls, Bull mastiffs, and Rottweilers working in my previous occupations.

Once, I had a customer ask the company to make a delivery to their back door. When I got there, the gate was locked so I had to climb it. Their two mastiffs had broken through the backdoor to the garage and streaked toward me as I made my descent. I don't even remember going back over the fence it all happened so fast. The fence barely held them as they barked crazily trying to get at me.

Why do people delight in having large and extremely dangerous dogs for house pets? I make a lot of assumptions about these sorts of people. If I meet someone new and they own dogs, they have to be pretty awesome for that encounter to become a friendship. I know, it isn't rational, but neither is my fear of dying in the vacuum of space.

My maternal grandparents had an amazing dog.

My mother had several great dogs that I loved and enjoyed.

I have friends who had lovable dog companions that I looked forward to seeing when I saw my friend.

I think there are some people who have an affinity for the animals and are able to train them and raise them to be good companions. I think these people are extremely rare, and that most people lack the wisdom or the empathy to competently have any pets, let alone one capable of harming or killing someone.

If you do have a dog, and it isn't in your home or fenced yard, pretty please, with some fucking sugar on top, keep it on a leash. .

Thank you.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thinkpad 10, In Use (Part 1)

A couple nights previous I was out with friends on an unplanned excursion for pie. I had been working on a poster for a presentation for my wife and had an idea for how I could change the background. All I had with me was my Thinkpad 10 tablet device.

I didn't think it would actually work. Opening a 48" x 36", 300 DPI poster with twenty layers of images and text did not seem likely to go well on my Thinkpad 10 (fanless tablet device). I wanted to open a slightly smaller file, pull a layer from it, manipulate it, and drop it into the poster at the proper resolution.

My Thinkpad 10 did it.

I opened both images in Photoshop, select the layer I wanted from one, and then drag n' dropped it into the other. It took a second for the image to appear in the proper place, but once there I was able to manipulated it into the right place, apply filters, and so forth. Being a 250+ MB file it took thirty seconds to save once I'd resolved my pixelated meddling, but it actually let me do real work between bites at the diner.

I think there is something to be said about the software in all this as well. My Thinkpad 10 is clearly capable of doing more than I thought, and yet it struggles to play back video from Vimeo and Amazon at times. It struggles with Sketchbook Pro sometimes as well, in just re-sizing brushes and things. But, in Photoshop? Or Word? Or OneNote? It performs extremely well, exceeding what I thought it could do, handling huge documents and images. My experiences have made me a lot less likely to blame the device when something doesn't work properly.

Maybe it is a 64 bit vs. 32 bit thing? Or, something with the architecture. As updates come out for the new Sketchbook Pro, I guess it remains to be seen. For video playback inside browsers, I may need to just convince the site I'm visiting from a mobile device to fix it. I'll post with whatever I figure out.
From The Poster Presentation

Monday, September 8, 2014

Thinkpad 10 Mini Review

This new Thinkpad branded tablet is kind of a big deal for me. It comes closest to the mark (so far) for what I envision tablet computing should be like. It almost does all the things.

I'm running:
  • Chrome web browser (Runs)
  • iTunes (Runs as well as iTunes ever does) 
  • Unity (runs decent, but does not take touch or pen input well)
  • Skype, Desktop Version (Runs surprisingly well)
  • Sketchbook Pro 7 2015 (Doesn't run as well as I would like. *Sad Trombone*)
  • Photoshop and Bridge CS6 (64 Bit) (Runs great, very surprised) 
  • Dreamweaver CS6 (Runs great)
  • Office 2013 (Runs great)
You can see all the specifics here at Lenovo's Site.

The tablet weighs 1.3 lb. and is extremely capable. I could see certain users setting themselves up with Lenovo's Bluetooth 3.0 Dock and a pair of Dell monitors and the Thinkpad 10 being their only device.

I'm going to skip the stuff covered by Lisa Gade and a host of other capable reviewers, and talk a little bit about some things I worried about that weren't covered.


My 8" Windows Tablets really struggled with this so I was pretty concerned about it. The Thinkpad 10 does what Samuel L. Jackson has famously asked children to do. It goes the fuck to sleep. When you close the quick shot cover letting the device know it's time for lights out, it does exactly that. If I set it to sleep and don't touch it for eight hours, it'll have virtually the same battery life remaining.

I have owned no other device that does this. Everything else seems to bleed power while it rests. When I open the cover, the device springs instantly to life, ready to go. When you're using something to take quick notes and carrying it everywhere with you, this is huge.

Haptic Home Button

These are pretty much the bane of artists who work on tablets like the Surface Pro. Basically, your wrist brushes up against it, there's a barely discernible buzz, and you're whisked away from whatever you were doing to the Start Menu.

The Lenovo Thinkpad 10 has such a button, but it is kind of broken, probably on purpose, and it is a good thing. You really have to press it, purposefully, to get it to trigger. I have not once, in a week of using it to render visuals or generate handwritten text, set off the button and had my user experience interrupted.

Why not just put in a physical home button? Because it would require drilling a hole in the glass that makes up the screen, weakening it, making it susceptible to moisture, pressure breaks, and other calamity. The barely reactive haptic home button is the way to go. Trust me.

Pen + Palm Rejection

It's really shallow. Generally, when your pen comes near the screen the touch interface turns off so that you aren't messing things up with your palm while you write. This is good, unless the distance the screen detects the pen is really shallow. I've been trying to retrain myself so that I don't lift the pen tip in between sentences and brush strokes but...

Everything I render has a spattering of little dots in the lower right hand corner of the canvas because my palm gets to the screen before the pen while I'm drawing or working in Photoshop, OneNote, or Sketchbook Pro. I haven't found a fix for this but if I do happen across one, I'll update this post. I make it sound worse than it is, but I can't think of a reason for it to be this way. I didn't have this issue on my Asus Vivotab 8" Tablet (similarly Wacom-equipped), Surface Pro 1, or Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga.

I'm almost tempted to load the latest Wacom Feel Drivers, but the pen input is so perfectly accurate that I'm afraid I'll mess it up. I'd rather suffer through palm dots than trying to re-calibrate the stylus. Hopefully, Lenovo fixes this with an update of their own.  

Windows 64 with Bing

If you don't absolutely need Windows 8 Pro, go with Windows 64 with Bing. For my use case (non-corporate/academic) it functions perfectly well and has all the features I need. It runs all my writing, rendering, and development software Best of all, it knocks about $130 off the price. For that big of a price dip, I was expecting to be paying for a Pro license the first day I turned it on and grumbling about my own foolishness. So far, that had not come to pass.

Seriously, unless you need to hook up to a domain or need one of the other Windows Pro features, save yourself the money.


For $599 there is no better 128GB 10" tablet on the market for getting work done. The 4GB of RAM makes multitasking not only possible, but elegant, and the high 1920 x 1200 resolution screen lets me crowd a lot of documents, visuals, and browser windows side by side. If I can figure out how to get the palm rejection to work a little better, it would be perfect for what I need a tablet to do.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Windows Phone 8.1, Three Weeks Later

I've given Windows 8.1 a solid chance to impress me over the last three weeks. This is exactly the amount of time I've had my iPad Mini as well to act as a basis of comparison. I think I’ll write this without making too many comparisons between 8.0 and 8.1 unless it is something profoundly irksome.
Change is inevitable and relentless.

For reference, I’m running Windows 8.1 on a Nokia Lumia 920, Red.

I Like

There is a lot to like about Windows Phone when talking about pre-loaded and 1st-party applications. The Alarm, Battery Saver, Calculator, Camera, Cortana, Data Sense, Games, Maps, Nokia, Office, One Note, PDF Reader, People, Photos and Storage Sense applications are decent to excellent and seem to improve over time. More than a handful I used to think were worthless beta-feeling crap have become exceptional over time.

The People and Cortana applications are particularly good. The Nokia Applications are (for now) what makes selecting handset hardware easy. The new options for organizing my start menu are welcome and appreciated. When I unlock my phone, the menu is gorgeous and informative thanks to being able to set a background and live tile functionality.

Seriously, my Start Screen looks awesome.
People App: Being able to organize my family, friends, and collaborators into their own groups, pin them to the Start Menu and customize how all that looks is incredible and light years ahead of the competition. If you rely heavily on social media, email, and text messaging to keep in touch with people, Windows Phone handles this better in some ways than other mobile platforms.

Cortana: I love the notion of having an Intelligent Agent on my handset to help me find things by merely asking for them. I've tried other digital assistants and none handle tasks like Cortana.
Games: Windows Phone is a great gaming platform, but make sure you choose the right hardware. Even now Microsoft is (unwisely) selling Nokia handsets that can’t handle every game. If gaming is important, make sure the phone has at least 1GB of RAM.

On The Fence

Internet Explorer: Microsoft has made some subtle changes with regard to accessing tabs and how favorites are displayed and handled. It’s better than it was. It is unfortunate that IE on my Windows 8 Laptop is still unfriendly to open source and thus pointless as a browser. In fairness, there is evidence this may be changing. So much of what I use on the web requires Chrome or Firefox and this diminishes EI’s usefulness to me on the Phone as well.

Me: This application allows you to check your own posts to social media and make posts to those accounts. It used to (8.0) let you post to all of them simultaneously. For people who self-promote and manage their presence on multiple social networks, this was incredibly useful. The application is still useful, but not the time saver it once was.

Messaging: I can no longer route Facebook Chat through my messenger application. I had hoped that they would add functionality to this application but Microsoft decided to make it less useful as of late. It’s still a powerful application with a good lay out that includes a search feature, but I feel like much of the potential for it to become awesome was lost since the last update.

Bad News

Calendar: Still terrible. One of the reasons I bought an iPad and have considered going back to Apple products is so I can have a decent calendar that syncs to the cloud reliably. Between randomly deleting events added to the calendar and the painfully few options with regard to events reoccurring the app is as useless now as it was at release.

Mail: Permanently stuck in the past before people knew what an integrated inbox was or had seen ability to move and store email in folders across accounts. You will still have a mail app per email address you manage. Not terrible, if you like using software that feels obsolete.

Music: Surprise, the music app is terrible. It’s slow, buggy, and randomly denies you the ability to play music your lawfully own if the streaming feature is turned on. This isn’t a knock against Microsoft though. In the 20+ years I've been using computers, I've never seen a decent music application.

Skype: Microsoft finds new and exciting ways to make this application annoying, featureless, and invasive. I've had to remove it from my phone to keep it from hijacking my messaging app and it performs rather poorly on my handset otherwise. I get the feeling that video conferencing on the Windows Phone is an afterthought.

Aside from the Music App (it’s impossible to make a good one I think) there is no excuse for the Calendar, Mail, and Skype apps to continue being horrible update after update. These are key applications with regard to a user’s overall experience using the device.


Podcast: One of my wife’s chief gripes about iOS is that Apple seems hell-bent to ruin the ability to listen to podcasts on that platform. Each new change makes the process of downloading and listening to podcasts worse. I haven’t tried the new Podcast App out on Windows Phone yet. Maybe Microsoft was listening to customers?

Wallet: Not even sure what this is for, how I use it, or why I would use it. It bears some research though.

3rd Party

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter: As usual, across every platform, and depending somewhat on the day, these are decent substitutes to a browser on a desktop. On a bad day, they are crashamatic pieces of crap that will frustrate and anger the most rational and serene individual. On Windows Phone (and elsewhere), Twitter is the best of the bunch. Facebook crashes so often as to be worthless, and LinkedIn lacks so many features as to fall in the same category.

Games: So. Many. Games. Seriously, this is a big plus for Windows Phone if gaming is a focus for you when choosing a smartphone.

Nokia: The apps are good enough (for now) that it is almost not worth looking at other hardware for Windows Phone.

Hardware Somewhere

The future is bleak. The first latest two Nokia devices, touted as the first Microsoft handsets, are pretty underwhelming. I’ll forgive virtually everything about the Nokia Lumia 630 because it is marketed as a lower end phone and designed to be cheap. That said, no dedicated camera button or front facing camera? These are the two features that would appeal the most to the individuals most likely to buy the 630. If I was a teenager looking for a good phone that wasn't what old people use (iPhones) it’d need to take a picture, and in particular, a selfie.

The 930 is ugly. Like Samsung Android handset ugly, a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10, a dud, an eyesore, and not in any way a Nokia product with regard to design or attention to detail. It even has all the conformity markings on the outside, big as possible, from all the pictures I've seen. If I was working for a company and they handed me a 930 I’d get the most obfuscating case I could. Hopefully, it gets marketed with those little raincoat flip covers of shame like Android Phones do.

It’s probably being deliriously optimistic to expect HTC, Huawei, or Samsung (chortle) to step up with a decent handset at this point, but one can hope.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Crisis Of Faith

I left the fellowship of my faith when I was not yet even an adult, twenty years ago. Since that time, I've been a privately practicing Mormon that has remained faithful, but kept a healthy distance from the establishment of the LDS Church. I did this because I found it difficult to varying degree to sustain the Church Leadership in everything they do, and the core message that the LDS Church is the absolute one true faith on the Earth.

Never feeling as learned as I could be, I've filled my bookshelf with works on philosophy, metaphysics, mythology and religion trying to garner a greater understanding of the world. I read ancient literature to give myself a better handle on how people in biblical times wrote. I read and (admittedly) skim various versions of core religious texts.

I often turn to science to fill in some of the blanks, or at least explain them. Looking at things like how the universe was likely formed, the arrangement thereof, and all the energies intrinsic to it didn't make me less religious. The more I look at science and the various paradoxes found within the more I believe there is a God, not less.


This is chiefly what religions peddle in. By design, each religion does the best job it can granting the flock or membership a degree of certitude about God, the afterlife, and a righteous lifestyle. Necessarily, each purports to be the “true” church having figured it out better than all the others. My wife once asked if it was possible if all religions could be true, and not true, at the same time. I think she is very wise.

Truth is a very influential particular of an elite body of concepts that make up the most important universal, a collection of things called Virtue. I don’t believe that religions or Gods can possess or be the source of such things, but they can be the paragons of them and even embody them. To that end, any faith that claims it can withhold Virtue or agency from a person in the name of God is treading in the most dangerous of hypocrisy.

The notion that there is a single true Church runs contrary to every one of Gods other works. From the very largest objects in the universe to the very smallest, variety is always necessarily present. God does, in grand fashion, make this obvious everywhere one looks. It is not a single universal type of star that lights the night sky, but a multitude of variety.

More to that line of thinking, The God of the Old Testament (or the Torah if you prefer) tells Abraham (among others) he will be the father of a multitude of nations. Not a single nation run by a single church with a single set of beliefs, but a multitude. That word appears in virtually every translation of the scripture I’m referring to.

mul·ti·tude noun \ˈməl-tə-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd\
: a great number of things or people

If one looks to the Latin origins of the word and pokes around a bit, one finds multitudin-, multitudo, from multus and the word meliorate somewhere on the same branch. To ameliorate is to make something that is not so great, better. It is the beginning of something good. I take in the context of that scripture that God was telling Abraham that these things would occur by necessity to make things better for others to form a greater basis for seeking Virtue.

The most foolish and fanatical people I've bore witness to run on pure certitude, letting it flow through their veins giving life to every misguided thing they do. Worse, the more certitude they have, the less likely they are to examine their beliefs or the actions they take in the name of those beliefs. They operate without the need to seek Virtue, certain that institutions, society, and control external to a person’s agency is the way to solve all the world’s problems.

I don’t think certitude is dangerous for just religious people. I think an Atheist running on absolutes and certitude is just as dangerous to themselves and others as a devout Christian doing the same. To hold science as the single belief to rule all others is as problematic as holding the Bible to the same standard. Everything necessarily has leaks, flaws, and gaps that should make a rational and reasonable person at least wonder. I think we have the ability to possess both an imagination and a rational mind for a reason.

Why Does God

Most religions hold that God is holy, righteous, and the embodiment of all things good and virtuous. If that is truly the case, would that God ever do anything to infringe the agency or choices of others? Would he or she use their obviously more expansive ability to make choices (intrinsic to being a God) to infringe the choices of lesser beings? I can conceive of very few examples where that would be possible.

The Old Testament (or Torah, I like the Torah) does a good job of showcasing instances where God had to step in and take direct action on Earth. In every instance it seemed to be possessed of two key components, preserving or increasing agency for future humans relative to the event, and maximum deniability. If a city was so wicked that all who would be born there would find their agency infringed from the moment they drew breath to the sum of their whole lives? That city would meet an unfortunate end. 

Likewise, I think that God allows things like war and genocide to persist to give us the opportunity, collectively, to make our world as awesome or shitty as we want. Given the population and variety of people in the modern world, access to technology, and so forth, we have an even greater degree of agency than ancient peoples had. If war, famine or genocide occur on the planet, it is because we are choosing or allowing it to happen, not God.

If the whole world decided to just work together to make the best possible place to live, we could do it. We have the means at our disposal, the manufacturing capacity, and the substance of culture to make it a reality. The world isn't the dark place it sometimes is because of some grand celestial agenda, we are choosing as a race to make it this way. People aren't killed in war zones or on crime ridden city streets because God needs more angels, it’s about the choices we make.


The wisest individuals I've ever known were profoundly compromised by doubt and have many questions. The more they came to know and understand, the more the world would open up to them and illustrate just how much they do not know, and never will. If they answered a single question there would be a hundred more as a consequence and behind the answers to each of those, a hundred more, and so forth.

To possess incertitude one must merely possess questions about everything around them and be free of assumptions to that end. Most societies and faiths look down on individuals that possess doubt as being people who lack conviction. The truth is that this is usually the opposite. These are individuals usually lead intensely examined lives checking and double checking everything they do. They are not satisfied with seeking Virtue for a couple hours on Sunday or by putting a check in the mail for their favorite charity once a year. They are on a mission to learn whatever they can in this life. They live in every moment as themselves.

Incertitude has an extremely ethical sibling called Pessimism. This quality, properly honed, can protect someone leading an examined lifestyle from all kinds of (technical term) baloney. The world is full of crap designed to mislead you, leave you bereft of your agency, and outright harm you. A healthy pessimism is often the best armor against human negligence, greed, and avarice.

We don’t do anything in a vacuum. People who live an examined lifestyle are oddities, worth writing about, and worth watching. If one decides to live in such a way, others will be taking notes and trying to discern why or how you do all of your things. Pessimism isn't just a countermeasure to protect yourself, but also one for all the folks that might be quietly following your digital or real world footsteps.

Incertitude will rarely grant you the wisdom to know what you must do, but it is essential to the process of selection to that end. I think this is more than half of figuring out life, assuming God’s own ethical nonintervention being essential to agency. This isn't to say you should never do anything, but that you should figure out what it is, and do it now. Make sure whatever that is gives you and those around you more choices, not less.

Crisis Of Faith

These beliefs run contrary to the LDS Church. Speaking strictly for myself, I can’t profess to know with certitude that the Mormon Church is true or that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Likewise, I hesitate to say it isn't true as well. It is unlikely that in this life I will possess a traditional testimony, and certainly not the sort any Bishop would thank me for sharing. This isn't to say I don’t believe in a great deal of what the Church teaches, but that to core ideas designed to employ institutional certitude as a substitute for real conviction, I simply can’t subscribe.

Joseph Smith spoke of the economy of God relative to the leadership of the Church. To assume there is always a person on the Earth capable of setting aside their agency, denying a state of perdition, and being a true revelator and prophet is difficult, all things considered. Such individuals are going to be extremely rare. I’m not saying it is impossible, but that the idea that such a person exclusively speaks to the same tiny percentage of the world’s population since the 1800s isn't remotely economical. Do I think the Mormon Church was possessed of a true revelator and prophet at some point, and that they brought some actual truth into the faith?

Yes, and we’ll likely never know who that was exactly or the total sum of his or her contributions. I have theories, but no certitude relative to that.

Does that mean that all faiths potentially possess truth as my wife suggested? Would the duration the church has existed and the number of adherents make it more or less likely a true revelator and prophet has contributed to their doctrine? Is one of the active or dead faiths on the Earth possibly more “true” than the others?

Yes, no, maybe… but only relative to individuals in any case. I think there is probably a church more suited to my individual spiritual needs but that may not be the case for my neighbor. I’m still trying to figure all that out, and still be a good person. It is super hard.

The problem is that the various churches ask that I hold myself higher than others or make assumptions about their authenticity based on spiritual beliefs designed to govern me alone. It feels as arbitrary as claiming superiority over someone else because my tailor made pants don’t fit them. They would have me believe in absolutes and adopt certitude on things that I can’t ethically subscribe to. I think it may have been one of the few things I figured out young, but only realize now. There is no church or faith that will accept a person like me, but there are many that might tolerate my presence.


I will not contribute to institutional tyranny that asks that I hold myself as being closer to God than someone else on the basis of their identity as it relates to intrinsic qualities like race or gender. I can’t assume that the way I live my life could be universal to everyone or that anyone else could do as I've done and prosper spiritually. I will love and draw people close on the basis of the virtues they choose to embody.

Do I think that everyone should abandon their faith, science, atheistic notions, agnosticism, nihilism, or other belief set? No, but I think they should be a little less sure they've found the universal answer for them and everyone else.   

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Watching The News, Apple vs. Microsoft

I get this vision of two warriors running across the field toward one another, weapons held high, fierce expressions on their faces, blood churning in their veins... and at the moment that should have been impact, they missed each other entirely. Looking around, they realize they are in the castle of their enemy alone, and no one is home. So they pull up the draw bridge and call it good. The peasants are confused, but continue on nevertheless.

This is basically what Apple (maker of devices) and Microsoft (maker of software) has done.

To look at all Microsoft alleges to do in the near future they are unifying their software, making it look horrible, and attempting to have it run across all their devices. I don't know what that means. They'll have an OS that looks good on a 480 x 800 resolution phone and a 4K monitor hooked up to a video editing workstation?

Looking at the leaked photos for whatever it is that comes after Windows 8 makes me cringe. The look of it (the software) gives me a feeling one can liken only to disgust and dread. It is the opposite sensation of what one feels picking up a Surface Pro 3 (a device). Microsoft is making some very compelling devices that has pushed the industry to make an array of computing options I've been waiting over a decade for.

I owned a Surface Pro 1, and loved it. All the things I would have changed about it came to pass with the release of the Surface Pro 3. It's a lighter color, an aspect ratio closer to paper as opposed to an HD display, and thinner/lighter/etcetera. The keyboard has a strange spring to it, mimicking the tactile feedback of a traditional keyboard. It still has great, maybe even better pen input depending on what you're doing. If I'd know it would be so good, I would have held off getting my Thinkpad Yoga.

I may have still chosen the Yoga anyway, but it would have been a really tough choice.

Meanwhile, Apple is making the same aluminum clad clam shells, touch only tablets, and smartphone they have for the past few years. That none of their devices have more than a single use form factor or pen input is pretty discouraging. Even more discouraging is that Yosemite and iOS 8 (software) looks incredible, capable, and extremely advanced.

I'm aware that my device usage isn't typical or even representative of 1% of computer users. Very few people decide one day they are going to design and render games for a smartphone platform and work as a self-published author, then go shopping for a machine that can allow them to do all that, while replacing all the paper on their desk. Most people don't think about port selection, input options, or screen resolution to that end and seek out the perfect device to that end.

Also, I'm aware that not everyone uses every single feature of their phone for things like self promotion, checking stock prices, email, browsing, schedule keeping, file sharing, photo taking, and the occasional game. I don't consider myself to occupy even the top 25% of truly tech savvy users, but I think a lot of the design choices Microsoft is using feels like a heartfelt appeal to the very lowest common denominator. Granted, the leaked images of the next version could (please God) be fake and not at all what it will look like or represent how it will function from the desktop on down.

Apple's Yosemite has a feature called Continuity that looks incredible. Basically, much of what you start or do on your phone or tablet can be continued or finished on your Mac and vice versa I'm sure. You also have access to many of the features on your phone via your Mac. Windows has virtually nothing like this, and where they do the applications are so barren and featureless they aren't worth using.

I really want a Hackintosh Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga running Yosemite and an iPhone with a slightly larger (but just shy of phablet size) screen than the one they make now. I love Windows Phone but I don't think it will survive the transition Microsoft is proposing.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Dangers Of Brand Loyalty

I've waited about three years for Microsoft to deliver a core computing experience with Windows Phone. Two of those years was spent waiting for the same thing with Windows 8. I'm fairly certain with the changing of the guard in Microsoft's leadership that user experience I crave is never coming. In the process of all that I did something I rarely do, and was loyal to a brand.

What Microsoft had with Windows 8 was wondrous, full of excellent potential, and the beginning of a UX I'd wanted since tablet PCs were even a thing over a decade ago. I shed my Apple Inc. gear and bought a pair of excellent Thinkpads by Lenovo. I had faith that Microsoft would eventually deliver on touch enabled productivity applications, core computing experiences, games, and a shifting UI paradigm that would shift when I pushed a single button.

PC manufacturers responded with a dizzying array of devices that had touch screens and built in digitizers. The Surface Pro hit the market and I waited with great anticipation for Microsoft to iterate on the Windows 8 experience and deliver on all they had promised. I couldn't wait for a core computing experience that sync'd to the cloud across all my devices and would allow me to keep my schedule, files, and friends at my finger tips.

As my promotional schedule ramps up and my life gets more busy and I make more contacts I need technology that can aid me in keeping track of it all. Microsoft has no interest in providing that to independent professionals that aren't hooked up to a corporate network. All my attempts to get my devices to talk to each other and keep in sync have run into some issue I can't resolve.

With my third book hitting the market soon I've got a promotional schedule I have to keep, allies to keep in contact with, files to juggle, and I need to be able to view it all wherever I go. It's frustrating because there is so much good hardware for Windows right now and Microsoft is choosing not to support any of it. Between that and the damage done to Nokia, I doubt my next phone will be running the Windows Phone OS.

I'm going back to being a mercenary when it comes to devices. Whoever makes the best guns is what I'll buy. Right now that's a Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga and an iPad Mini I picked up over the weekend. Now, I just need to find a decent phone that will do all the things I need it to, if such a thing exists.

Alright, I'm done bleeding about this. Done.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Windows Phone 8.1 - Initial Thoughts

I’m a goof and had been waiting for Windows Phone 8.1 to come to my phone over the air. My development partner had pointed out to me before this wasn't necessary, and then pointed it out to me again. 
I downloaded it.

My thought stream as I’m trying it out for the first time:

The first thing it does is let you know about new settings.

Wi-Fi sense is an interesting feature. It basically turns your phone into a signal addict that will send your data over any network, secure or otherwise. It will also allow you to exchange Wi-Fi network access with people in your contacts list making the secure networks everyone uses less secure.

I turned it off.

The next feature it tells you about is the ability to automatically update your Store apps.

I turned it off.

After that, there’s a feature that lets apps share your “advertising ID” for “experiences” across apps.

I turned it off.

Scrolling down my home screen, I found a Data Sense app.

Declined setting a data limit and removed it from my home screen.

Moving over to the applications list, I see they've made some changes.

The Battery Saver feature is an app now, cluttering up my app list.

We've got Cortana… I’ll have to try that out later.

FM Radio app. For some people, this could be a thing.

Podcasts app. That’s promising, if it’s decent.

Storage Sense app… appears useless with all options greyed out. Neat.

Xbox Video app… meh.

Swipe down notifications menu is pretty decent.

Checking the Calendar App. The way it renders your schedule is better, and I like the visual changes. Still can’t set events to reoccur beyond a handful of options. It’s still useless, even years later.

I still need a mail app per email account cluttering up my home screen. Not happy about this.

Internet Explorer... switching between tabs is better, faster, and so forth. Hurrah.

Settings menu…

Notification+actions stuffs. Nice that they let you customize the notification area to this degree.

NFC option to turn off or on. I’m pretty sure that’s new. Hurrah.

Project to my screen option. Don’t remember that being there. 

Wife is home, gotta go. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014


People complain because they must grant themselves the dignity of a purpose. Tragic also that they are usually complicit in having such a thing forced upon them through inaction. It is tiring to watch.

The noblest actions lie somewhere between the course of a conventionist and the harrowing idealism of the iconoclast. There is more to doing things than just obeying a perception of necessity. To want is always better than to need, and putting your desires over your desperation is the nascence of understanding yourself.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


I've lived in Wichita for over a year now. If things go right, I'll have released three novellas in under a year and made significant progress on my other projects. It's been a good year for the solitude and the very nice place my wife found us to live.

I think I can sum up what living in Wichita is like by relating a single experience.

My wife and I went in late to a deli and ordered two baked potatoes to go. My wife ordered something off the menu that they were glad to make for her, and I got my usual. As we sat in the carry out area, the manager approached us and said,

"Next time you guys come in, you should go have some of our free ice cream while you wait. In fact, please, help yourselves now."

My wife can't have the cones, so the manager gave her a to-go cup, and we chatted for a moment about the supreme Virtue associated with frozen soft serve. Not every person I interact with in Kansas is like the manager of the deli, but more than a fair number. My uncle did warn me that the people here were genuine and decent. Wichita has it's problems, good guys and bad, but it is an incredibly quiet place, perfect for writers and librarians.

In the early summer/late spring, when one walks in my neighborhood just after sunset, there are fireflies and bunnies. It is a supreme delight for my wife and maybe one for me as well, though I would never admit to such officially. There is also a blessed degree of humidity that makes me sleep and breathe easier awake or asleep.

Also, did I mention it's quiet?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Unsolicited Relationship Advice

I've been with my spouse since 1999, and I marvel at how quickly time passes while I'm with her. I don't think I've discovered even half of what there is to know about being in a successful relationship with another person, but this is some of what I've learned. In no particular order:

1. Want things. Your spouse can't be part of your life and supporting you if you don't want. They can't go on adventures with you if you don't have a destination.

2. Be responsible for your own happiness. That your spouse makes you happy is excellent, but it should be incidental to seeking the things in life that fulfill you.

3. Go with them. If your spouse wants to travel or seek education, go with them. If they want to take a vacation, make sure you've always got the time and money to be there when they go. You can't be a advocate or protector for your spouse if you aren't there.

4. Be your own person. Having your own friends, books, social network accounts, and so forth is important to having an identity. If you don't know who you are, no one else will either. Do not let the burden of merely being fall to your spouse.

5. Have courage. Things will go wrong, break down and get lost. If you chose well, your spouse will be brave for you, and you can be no less for them.

6. Be a good steward of the little things. If you're the last one up, make the bed. Be ready to do your own laundry, dishes, yard work, and similar. Don't take it for granted that anything collectively held by you and your spouse as stewards is yours or theirs to do alone.

7. Be a good steward of the big things. Avoid financial, legal, and social liability that could adversely influence your relationship. You can't be a good spouse if you are constantly broke, in jail, or so notorious that no one trusts you.

8. Protect them. If someone is kind to your spouse, be kind to them. If someone is unkind or harms your spouse, make sure they feel your wrath. Some preventative overtures may be required, but nothing shuts down problems before they start like others knowing you'll die or kill to protect the one you love.

9. Set and respect boundaries. Some would file this under communication, but not every couple needs to exchange manifestos of intent on a daily basis. They do need to relate to one another what they will and will not do, which requires humility and perspective.

10. Care for yourself. A good spouse wouldn't want to stand by and watch someone destroy you, denigrate you, or damage you in any way. Don't be the villain in this, because you'll put your spouse in a place where they have to fight with you to try and save you. Don't make your spouse compete with an addiction, a preventable health issue, or mental illness because you weren't a good steward of yourself.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Warranty Service Experiences

When my Asus got bricked by a bad update:

"Whoa bummer, what are you going to do?” 

When my Apple iMac died a fiery death:

Looks like you’re a week outside the warranty. By the way, any part an Apple Certified technician sends us is ours forever, even if the tech makes a mistake and the part was actually good. Thank you for paying money to have your machine fixed! Here it is, worse than when you brought it in. Bird turds!

When my Surface Pro 1 showed up all messed up:

Looks like your device was loaded with a developer preview version of the OS. We’ll send you another device eventually, after we’ve received the old one and verified you aren’t pulling our leg. You could just buy a second one and wait for a refund on the first, how’s that sound? We’ll call you in a week, let you know how it goes.” *sad trombone* 

When my Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga died a fiery death:

Your device is broken? Tell us what happened while we arrange to have another one custom made and shipped to you as soon as possible. Soured by that particular device? We’ll build you something else, whatever you’d like. We’d like the old device, but we understand you have important IP on your drive. Keep the drive, and ship the broken device to us. We’ll send you a box and a shipping label. No, we won’t wait for the defective device before we get started on a new one. It may get a little irritating, but we’ll be checking back regularly to make sure everything is okay. 

What? Oh, that's just the Unicorns playing with the copier again.” 

Friday, May 2, 2014

RIP Brave lil' Computer

On May 2nd, 2014 at about 5:45 PM my Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga died a fiery death. I've pulled out my old workstation and have begun loading software onto it. Until it's ready to go, I'm going to see how much my Asus Vivotab 8" tablet can handle. I haven't really tried editing really large documents with it or editing .psd's with a lot of layers. Hopefully, it'll let me get a little work done until Lenovo can get me a working machine.

My workstation for the time being:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Uroboros Saga Book 2

Check the links section "clicky things" on this blog to be redirected to my new book!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rue's Origin Story

This is for Kyle and anyone else wondering who Rue is exactly. Rue is a character I created for a friend's Pathfinder RPG table. In the months that I've portrayed him, he's captured my imagination with his wonderment at the world, innocence, and desire to do good in spite of his nature. Rue might need his own book down the road. I always write about my RPG characters, even just a little to help me role play them at the table. This is part of the story about where Rue came from and how he met his spider companion, "Agmund". 

The Hobgoblin foreman wandered the line of cages looking into each one. He paused near Rue’s cage and smirked, motioning for the keeper to come over. The portly Gob-Mom scampered up to him as quickly as her girth would allow.

“Does the gobs not please ye, sir?” She bleated.

“This one, he is so small it’d be easy to slip through the bars and flee. Why’s it still here?” The Hobgoblin asked, glowering at Rue.

“Rue is a runt, half as big, and half as smart,” the Gob-Mom cackled.

The hobgoblin frowned slightly, opening Rue’s cage. He expected the tiny goblin to burst into a run, a worthy target for one of his cruel arrows. Instead, the small goblin just smiled sleepily and looked out into the world. There was no malice in the small goblin, a detail the hobgoblin noticed but could not easily quantify.

“Pitiful… not even worth an arrow. Put em’ to collecting bits in the field. Give it a pot and send it out. Gob, don’t come back without a pot full o’ arrowheads and metal scrap,” The hobgoblin foreman snarled.

The Gob Mom grabbed up the tiny goblin, and set him down on a stool. She couldn’t send him out with his bits flapping about, so she dug in the trash and found a potato sack. With a tug, she pulled it over Rue’s head and let the little gob chew a hole for his head. Doing her minimal best to avoid lopping off limbs, she cut arm holes with a large pair of rusty scissors.

“There, doesn’t it look pretty now?” the Gob Mom cooed.

Rue smiled sleepily and looked about, his eyes devouring the first sights of the world outside his cage. The Gob Mom waved her hand in front of the tiny goblin’s face but received no response. The little biter was mesmerized by the light. She waited a moment before giving Rue a slap.

“Now, go find the Hobs some bits and baubles,” the Gob Mom said putting a small iron pot in Rue’s hands.

Rue slowly turned his gaze from the sky to the pot, a wide grin slowly wreaking havoc across his face. With a small “squee”, he hopped down from the stool and ran toward the field the Gob Mom indicated. There were other goblins already there, rooting about in the corpses and muck. They gazed at Rue with a collective malevolence. More competition for shiny objects was the last thing any of them desired.

“Dis oar feld. Oar shinies. Git ya runt,” one squeaked angrily.

Rue slowed his approach and looked about at them, not understanding. The goblins helped him comprehend by forming a ring around him and kicking and punching him until he fell to the ground bloody and quivering. He crawled painfully toward a ditch, wondering why they’d hurt him so.

He was just doing what he’d been told, as well as he could understand. Rue cried, alone in the ditch, and licked his wounds as best he could. He lay there, playing as if he were dead while the goblins continued their work. Eventually, they moved on to look for loot elsewhere.

Turning over, Rue gazed up toward the sky, his battered lips silently mouthing all the words he’d heard spoken that day. The meaning of some of what he’d heard sank in, but the rest was just meaningless sounds. He smiled anyway, even though it hurt to do so. The cool rain did little to soothe Rue’s pain, but the mud beneath him was somewhat more inviting.

He felt ashamed, both of his size and his rapidly rising bruises. Grabbing handfuls of cool mud, he slathered it onto his spindly limbs and face. He’d seen the bigger goblins doing the same, but he’d not tried to fathom the reasoning behind the practice. Even though they’d given him a beating, he understood their shame a little better now.

Rue skirted the field, being careful to avoid his larger brethren, his piggy little eyes looking about for “shinies”. There was little to be found, but he managed to find a few for his pot. The bigger goblins were watching Rue though, and they didn’t let him back to camp with what he’d found. The beating hurt, but nothing like the whip wielded by the Hobgoblin Foreman later.

“Worthless gob!” The foreman bellowed, bringing his lash back and forth across the diminutive goblin’s limbs.

“Peez! Peez!” Rue pleaded, holding up his hands defensively.

“My whip will be worn out on this one,” the hobgoblin foreman spat.

Rue lay there, looking up at the sky again with one eye, the other swollen shut. He licked a deep wound on his arm and wished he was somewhere else, somewhere far away. The hobgoblin foreman kicked coals from the fire on Rue garnering him the scream he was looking for.

“Peez, shiny find! Shiny find!” Rue said, clasping his hands together.

“The hells will find you wanting otherwise gob-ling. Now go,” the hobgoblin snarled.

Rue staggered to his feet and picked up his small pot. He scampered to the edge of camp, not sure where to go. He couldn’t return to the Gob Mom, and the other goblins had already made it clear he wasn’t welcome among them. He walked away from the fading light of the hobgoblin fires, unnoticed by sentries or sleeping dogs.

“Shiny find,” Rue murmured, looking sadly into his pot.

His heart heavy at having failed and lonely for the company of others, Rue covered his eyes and wept bitterly. He walked in a haze of pain, every limb aching from the abuse he’d suffered. Though he’d known nothing else, Rue still wanted to belong to the group and be accepted.

He was terrified of everything now. Whatever wonders the world held in the morning had been banished by the hobgoblin’s lash in the evening. He’d gazed into the light of the day, and felt warmth, and even excitement at getting to join his tribe. That too was gone now, replaced by an unrelenting loneliness.

Without meaning to, Rue almost stumbled into a large spider’s web. It spanned the distance from the ground up into the lower branches of a tree above. Across its delicate surface were all sorts of things, and no small number of goblin bones lay about beneath. Rue looked at the bits and baubles strung about then back up to the web, finding himself face to face with a large spider.

“Shiny find?” Rue asked.

The spider’s many eyes only glistened in the dark for a moment, before it skittered back up into the web. Rue watched, mesmerized, before he reached out and grabbed handfuls of arrowheads, tiny bones, and other trinkets. There were tattered bits of leather too. The items thrummed with a metaphysical force, a preternatural sensation that Rue could feel against the palms of his hands.

“Luckydoos,” Rue whispered, somehow understanding the significance of the objects.

He couldn’t bring these back to the hobgoblins, and felt a deep shame at even laying hands on them. Rue put the items he’d taken back where they belonged, nodding to the spider. Preferring to suffer the lash than take what wasn’t his, Rue turned to leave, gathering up his pot. It was then that a peculiar sensation took hold, stopping him in his tracks.

“Not even worth an arrow,” Rue said, fearfully mimicking the hobgoblin’s tone.

The pot in his hands suddenly sagged with new weight, without any discernible cause. When Rue looked down, his pot was full of baubles, shiny and otherwise. Beneath the mud that covered his limbs, he could feel pain fade and the marks from the lash close and fade. The weight of the spider lay across his narrow shoulders, with something of a whisper from its limbs. Rue nodded, listening intently.

“Yup,” Rue whispered in reply.

An hour later, the goblins awoke, the cold rain finding them easily in their ramshackle shelters. The sounds of small timbers clattered in the center of the slave camp, stirring them from where they had been trying to sleep. As the goblins emerged to investigate, but all they found was tiny Rue standing beside the fire pit.

“Runt, has shiny bits. Gives to us, or we takes em’,” the largest goblin spat.

Rue held up a single stubby digit, smiling widely as he plunged it amongst the timbers. A second later, the small collection of twigs burst into flames illuminating the many faces of the captive Mudrub tribe.

“Doesn’t it look pretty?” Rue asked, mimicking the Gob Mom.

The larger goblin stepped forward, towering menacingly over Rue.


Rue nodded, cowering and shaking like a beaten dog.

“When yeh puts on the mud, make sure it gets on da ears,” the large goblin growled, taking some of his own mud and placing it on Rue’s head.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga

What can I say about Lenovo's Thinkpad Yoga that hasn't already been said in the dozen or so other reviews? Lisa Gade is hard to beat when it comes to telling you everything about the device, how it works, and why you should (or shouldn't) buy something. Devices like this don't merely allow me to persist, they change the way I do things for the better. 

The machine has it's flaws, but they are incidental to the manufacturing process. A sticking Fn key here and a dead pixel there. What you won't find is a lack of ways to use this device. 

My old desk was fettered by a large monitor, my medium Wacom Intuos Tablet, a workstation, and an array of other gadgets, cables and external drives. My new desk has a decent pair of speakers, a Lenovo One Link Dock, and my Lenovo Thinkpad. This might seem like I've merely uncluttered my life, but devices can do more than that. 

They can save your life. 

Let me explain. We only have a finite amount of time on the planet. Specifically, we are here to produce, create, and do things. Something that saves me time, literally is saving my life for other things. That I don't have to pull anything out of drawers and cabinets to switch gears between projects saves me minutes a day, which becomes another book or video game in the long run. 

When you work for yourself, your time is the greatest resource you have. 

It is what you use to barter with others, create product, and converse with your cohorts and contemporaries. Spending extra on equipment that saves you time is like getting it for free, as it pays you back a little bit every day. Lenovo's Thinkpad Yoga is like that every time I use it. Instead of clearing my desk for a more spartan lay out for me to write, I just flip it around to laptop mode and go. When I want to create textures for my game or take down hand written notes, I turn it back to a tablet and set it down on my desk. 

I probably save 10-15 minutes a day not having to mess with my workspace. It doesn't seem like a lot, but that's probably a 100 hours annually. If it would do the same for you, and you charge more than $20 an hour for your time, a fully loaded Yoga will pay for itself in a year. 

This is where the One Link Dock is really a necessary sidecar to the Yoga. You hook up everything to it, and then run a single cable to your Yoga. The cable is tough enough to take a couple of twists every day when I shift gears between projects and saves me a ton of time messing with cables and moving peripherals around on my desk. I've even dropped the money for a 128 GB SD card to act as my on board back up. When I leave the house, I just pop it out and set it on my desk, in case some calamity befalls my Yoga while I wander. 

Besides the One Link Dock and SD Card, there are some other accessories you'll want to get for your Yoga. 

Get a gaming mouse, even if you don't game. They are more precise and I find that they interact better with small screens with high pixel density. 

Get a decent Wacom-enabled stylus that has an eraser button tip. The Surface Pro pen is still the best stylus I've used, but that isn't to say there aren't others. The pen that comes with the Lenovo isn't bad, but for taking lots of notes or doing more serious visual works it is pretty small in the hand. 

Get a sleeve. The Yoga is tough like any Thinkpad but you'll still want something to throw it in when you take it places, and you will want to take it places. Almost anything that fits one of the newer Retina 13" MacBook Pro laptops will also fit the Lenovo Yoga perfectly. I went to Best Buy and tried out a few on the shelf and they all worked. 

Pick up something to take notes in. Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft's OneNote, or similar are good options. The built in applications aren't bad but they are far from ideal and lack a lot of the options paid applications possess. It's worth it to be able to handwritten notes. My bags (and my back) no longer carry sketchbooks or Moleskines to scribble in as I can write on my Yoga just like it was paper. If you're more of a note taker, OneNote is probably the way to go. Scribbler? Get Sketchbook Pro. 

I would caution people when ordering custom from Lenovo. You will wait, and wait, and wait for your machine to show up. The fastest I've gotten a machine was four weeks and it took almost six to get my Yoga. It was worth the wait for all the time and hassle it saves me, both on my desk and relative to what I carry in my bag. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014


It will probably be just another Monday, but one fewer everyone on the planet will see in the future. For me, time never seems to fly by, and the Earth turns a little slower. For some people, being busy makes the time go by quicker, but that isn't how it works for me.

When I write a manuscript or a draft, that is as fast as time ever moves for me. Everything else that goes into building a product for consumption moves very slowly and the time right along with it. The process gives perspective even if the product does not.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Marriage Equality, A Rant

I'm just going to launch straight into my rant.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that traditional marriage is actually under attack as many people claim. Sinister forces are conspiring to destroy it as a practice and an institution within our society. People of conscience everywhere should band together in its defense striking down the offending influences with all of their hate. 

Obviously, one would want to start with the most provocative and dangerous threat first before moving on to deal with other lesser adversaries. If this is true why are people even in opposition to same-sex couples seeking marriage? 

Let's look at the math. 

Somewhere around 2 million people get married in the United States every year, with 50% of those ending in divorce. Since 2004, roughly 75,000 same sex couples have been allowed to get married. For purposes of comparison, for every same sex couple "attacking" the holy sanctity of marriage there are about 125 traditional couples trampling it with divorce. 

Who was the enemy of traditional marriage again? Also, why are same-sex couples the enemy of traditional marriage in the first place? Because they can't have children? There are plenty of straight couples who can't have kids or choose not to, and what about the elderly who decide to marry late in life? 

"It says in the Bible... one man, and one woman."

That's great, but passing a law that defines marriage in a way congruent with your holiest beliefs breaks one of the Ten Commandments. There is no larger graven image than a law governing millions of people. Sacrilege seems to have become as accepted as the practice of divorce in certain religious circles. 

No big deal I guess?

"We just want to protect our kids." 

And for this you need the government's help? You can't grant your children basic dignity or instill them with a sense of right and wrong? You do not possess the language skills to explain to them the array of choices they have in this life and guide them toward one suitable for them? 

DO NOT HAVE (ANY MORE) KIDS. Please, and thank you. 

"This is an attack on my religious freedom."

Same-sex couples getting married is going to...

...prevent you from attending church?
...practicing your faith or praying in private?
...displaying iconography or trinkets relative to your beliefs?
...speaking to others about your faith?
...maintaining your faith relative to your own family and stewardship?

Oh really? When exactly is this going to happen?

Looking at the proposed marriage equality laws, there doesn't appear to be any text indicating that any faith or religion will be barred from Constitutional protections. Bigots and enlightened folks alike will be able to head to the institutional edifices of their faith and do exactly what they've always been able to do.

"I should be able to deny same-sex couples service or access to my business on religious grounds."

You're going to conduct your very secular and worldly business according to your sacred religious beliefs?

Excellent plan! Do you plan to keep all adulterers out of your place of business and interrogate each customer to that end? If you're serious about keeping people out who have committed that particular sin, one needs to be thorough. 

"It will legitimize something I see as sinful."

Oh, you mean like how the Super Bowl is the single biggest event with regard to promoting human trafficking in the United States? Your football game presses nearly ten thousand human beings (including kids) into the sex trade each year, but you're still worried about what Bob and Frank next door might be doing in private?

Basically, the 12 billion dollar human slavery business in this country is perfectly fine... as long as there is a football game to go with it? So, if the gay community started their own football league, that'd be all it would take for their "sinful" behavior to be accepted? 


Well heck, that was easy.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Warframe - Windows/PS4 Game

I couldn't give something 100+ hours of my time without writing about it a little. 

Warframe is a free-to-play third person shooter that takes place in the far and very dystopian future of our own solar system. One takes the role of a "tenno" operative in trying to liberate technologies caled Warframes and bring balance to solar system battling against, and sometimes for the Grineer or the Corpus factions. To mix things up, they have space bugs called The Infested just to keep things lively. 

You are guided by The Lotus, a mysterious AI (?) that rescued you from cryo-sleep and the clutches of two rival factions. She often tells you where to go, what to look out for, and how to proceed during missions. She also arranges to have you tested when you've ascended to a new plateu of understanding called "ranks". 

The game is fairly simple to play from the stand point of controls until you come to realize all you are allowed to do in the world. You can climb sheer surfaces, run and slide under obstacles, and perform other feats of extreme acrobatics to mix with gunplay, melee attacks, and the powers of the Warframes donned to run the missions. In this way, navigating the game itself can become as complex as you want to make it, or as simple. 

The science fiction terrain and environments used are expertly rendered. I'll often pause in my pursuit of a space station's power core to gaze out a port at the planets, asteroid fields, and similar. Without giving too much away, the architecture around you is often a clue of where to go and what sort of dangers one might face. 

Stealth can play a role in the game, but more people seem to ignore it in favor of just shooting their way through to the other end of a mission. The Stealth component needs work as it is fairly arcane and not very apparent to the new player who would benefit most from it's use. It's only later in the game that one will have the means to pull it off successfully, but it's worth exploring. 

When the enemy is aware of you, they'll attempt to isolate or kill you by locking down the chamber you're in. Escape requires going to a terminal and hacking the system to escape. Hacking is a mini-game where one turns wire frames around to make them intersect in different ways. Needless to say, stealth can circumvent a lot of this hassle. 

Modifying weapons, warframes, and the tiny sentinels that are often your best ally is done through the use of "mods". In the game's interface they are respresented by collectable cards that one gathers during the course of clearing a node or completing a mission. These can be combined to improve their performance through a process called "fusion" or sold for credits one uses to buy a variety of things. 

Each warframe, sentinal and weapon has an interface where you can plug in mods. To that end you have a limited number of points that can be assigned, and each mod has a score for that purpose. There are ways to manipulate the points to your advantage through upgrades and setting polarities relative to your favorite mods. Where you put the mods in the interface relative to each other is important as well. 

Part of the fun of the game is in seeing how you can program a weapon or push performance out of a warframe with mods. For instance, I've modified a flame thrower to push out radiation or explosive gas instead of just fire. To the new player, the game can feel dizzyingly complex as they try to understand the interface and the meaning behind it. 

The new player experience is much the way games used to be. I think I'd been made soft by more modern games and MMOs that hold your hand through the process of character creation and indoctrinating you to the UI. The tenno you are portraying in the game awoke having no memory, and through the first twenty hours of play, I felt what my character probably felt, a deep frustration. 

There are two kinds of currency in game, platinum and credits. Platinum is what one purchases with real world money to speed up gameplay while credits is the in game currency one spends paying for blueprints, the fusion process, and other necessities. Most of what one can buy with platinum can be earned in game for free. The best things one can buy with Platinum are reactors for weapons and warframes, boosters for credits and affinity (XP), and aesthetic enhancements. 

If you want a weapon or a warframe, it's usually a simple matter to build once you know where to go and are armed appropriately. I haven't "paid" real money for a single war frame, and have been able to eventually build the tech I wanted. This isn't to say it was easy. You could easily spend five hundred hours trying to get everything there is to have in the game, and still come up short. 

Frustrations aside, the game is very high quality and communication between developer and customer is very high. The game changes regularly and there are events that mix things up as whole swaths of the system succumb to the Infested or war between the Grineer and Corpus. Personally, I played to explore the solar system and poke around in all the moon bases, space stations, ancient derelict ships and similar to look at the digital artwork sunk into the game. 

I think what's kept me coming back and playing has been the group dynamics. There are various modes of play allowing you to hook up with three other random folks, just friends, or run solo. I keep playing WoW for the group and raid finder options that let me drop in with a random group and try out different classes and options. Warframe caters to that even more because there are no tanks, DPS, or healers. Well, there are but these things aren't evident and are determined somewhat by a person's play style. 

Each Warframe has just four abilities amidst varying other statistics such as shields, health, armor, run speed, and similar. When you drop into a random "cell" of four warframes to complete a mission, unless you assembled the group yourself, you won't know who has what. I love trying to figure out how to navigate a particular mission best with a given group and find my place within depending on what I've chosen to play. 

Predictably, there are a host of people who lack imagination and just mash buttons. What I find interesting is that the game does not reward that sort of play very well. People who camp spawns or rely entirely on firepower are often having to be revived by their comrades or see their mission stats greatly increased. I've had the best results when trying to protect or cover others, working from a single direction, and being predictable. There is no friendly fire, but you can certainly get in your teammate's way and cause them significant damage. 

That being said, I've had very little difficulty with the Warframe community. The game being new and the new player experience being a little frustration has bred a curious group of mostly polite folks. I've ran into a few people that are a blight on the gaming community but not with near the regularity one does playing an established MMO like WoW. The revive system is pretty forgiving, but I marvel at how often people will rush to aid of a fallen member of the cell and almost get themselves killed trying to rescue them.