Category Archives: General

Brian’s Writing Laptop Campaign – An Explanation

There have been some questions about my Brian’s Writing Laptop Campaign.

Fist, the Why? Well, I enjoy writing, and I’d love to be able to do that remotely, that is away from my home computer. Not an easy task. With a laptop, I could write during my lunch break for example, or while I’m out of town away from my desktop… if I got a break from other activities anyhow. It also allows me to write while out with one of the local writing groups. If for some reason you can’t see the link on the sidebar, here are The Collected Writing Prompts of Brian A Thomas.

Why a MacBook over a cheaper equivalent Windows laptop, or even Chromebook? First and foremost was the software. Scrivener currently is better on the Mac than PC. Now sometime in 2018, the PC version is supposed to reach feature parity with Scrivener on the Mac, so one could argue just wait, then buy the new version at whatever the discount will be for upgrading is. More on Scrivener in a bit. Vellum is Mac only, and that is more of a down the line tool for when I’m more ready to self-publish or submit for publication to somebody.

Scrivener is far superior to Word, Open Office Write, Google Docs, and all those other general purpose word processors. It is designed from the ground up as a tool for creative writing, and non-fiction, scripts and the like as well. It has lots of tools and methods that make writing, especially longer works, far easier. I haven’t even really started to use it (mostly because I’m using the trial at the moment), but I’ve been blown away by the YouTube videos I’ve seen of what it can do.

The next reason on why a MacBook over a Windows laptop are fewer distractions. The Mac is still not a great gaming platform, while the PC is. I would undoubtedly use the Windows machine to game far more than write.

Why not a Chromebook? Because in terms of what I’m using the laptop for, it wouldn’t function well. It is great if all you want to do is browse the web and other light duties that may be easier on a laptop than your phone, but it isn’t a good productivity tool at all. You don’t want to trust your writing to the cloud. A Chromebook is a no-go. If I wanted a cheap web browsing, Netflix watching thing, it might do, but at that point, a cheap tablet would also do.

Now we’ll get into some of the other points most brought up.

Don’t I need a new car, or have some repairs to my car done? Yes. Yes I do. A newer car would be well beyond what I could raise via Go Fund Me, as I don’t think I can even get to the Writing Laptop level. Which raises the question of repairs. I do need car repairs, but how much those will come to in the end I’m not sure. I am guessing between $2500 and $3000, which is more than I was seeking for the writing laptop. However, if somebody during a donation specifies it to be for car repairs then it will be direct to car repairs. What all do I need to be done to the car yet? In order: New Brakes. New Tires. Pay off repairs done already (about $1200, though I’ll call it $1500) which are mostly in high interest, as in 27% or so, credit cards. Fix the emissions issues so it would actually pass an emissions test (there are about two issues there). Fix the rusted struts. Possibly fix whatever is causing it to burn 3 to 4 quarts of oil a month… this is the primary reason I didn’t make a campaign to fix the car because it really is getting to a point where a newer car would be a better idea. Once you start burning oil, not leaking it, then it starts to get into expensive repairs, and unfortunately, perhaps some of those repairs may be needed to make it pass an emissions test. Of course lack of credit, income, etc… Anyhow, if a note to the campaign says that donation is for the car repair, it will be set aside for the car repair.

Don’t you have a host of medical things that should be taken care of? Very much so, and I don’t have insurance, so it is going to be super expensive to get everything looked at, to get specialists involved to make sure diagnostics are correct (for example, my eczema was being treated as athletes foot by GPs until a dermatologist discovered it was eczema looking like athlete’s foot and that treatment finally worked… I’ve been out of eczema treatment medicine for years). It would probably take up a whole blog post on medical needs, but I’ll put a few of them here. Tired all the time (I suspect depression being the biggest cause, but possible low testosterone is another as I have other symptoms of that too, though that I likely wouldn’t treat if that’s the only real problem it gives me, but I want to be sure it isn’t something deeper). Sever stomach issues. I pop a TON of antacids, be it stuff like Tums (FAR too many of those), Ranitidine and more Omeprazole than the bottle says you should take in a given period (I only take one a day, but you apparently are supposed to wait longer between the two-week courses I take, but it the only one that really works well). Frequent headaches… on the positive side, of late while the bad headache count has gone up, the migraines have gone down. When I did last see a doctor, they were highly concerned about my liver and wanted me to get an ultrasound on my liver. I suspect the blood tests are catching the fact I nearly keep they Tylenol plants running. The aforementioned eczema. I probably should see somebody about the depression. The problem with a campaign for all that, is one there are a lot of unknowns, of which the biggest is just how much will that all cost? I’d set aside $3,000-$5,000 for it though. Of course not getting money for a laptop is one thing, not getting money to help one live is actually depressing, so that’s the main reason I didn’t. Any donations to the Writing Laptop campaign that say they are for medical use would be put into a medical fund and not the laptop fund.

Don’t you need/want to move out on your own? Don’t you need a house? Sure. I’d be FAR less depressed if I were living on my own, but I don’t make enough to do so, and won’t for at least ten years. Locally, staying close to my kids, nice homes can be had for under $150k, in a really nice area, good school district and all that jazz. However, crowdfunding a home seems highly unrealistic. I really need a newer car well ahead of the home. Basically, that isn’t a realistic option. Any money donated now for a house would likely just so I can pay rent at my mom’s house, which would help free my paycheck for other things, be it the car, paying off the high interest credit cards the car repairs are on faster, etc.

TLDR: So basically it comes down to if you think the car repair or medical expenses are higher priorities and would rather donate to those, use this fund, but then specify you want some or all it to go to those instead. Saying some will mean 50% of it unless another percent is specified. That said, the primary purpose of this campaign was, and remains, raising funds for a laptop to do my writing on. Who knows, perhaps I’ll write that great American novel and be able to fix all those other things myself. That isn’t likely, but at least I can be happy (or happier anyhow) trying… of course a good reliable car that got good gas mileage would also help on that mental health aspect… the medical stuff far less so. Anyhow, I’m getting off the point, which is that the primary goal remains to raise enough to get a good MacBook and the necessary software. If needed I could go to Experimac in Canton and get a used one for far less, though I’d prefer a newer model from the Apple store.

Why a GoFundMe rather than a Patreon? Well, I actually do have a Patreon as well, but that is more an ongoing thing, but if you want to donate to that too, or instead…

And yes, “explanation” is misspelled in the URL.

Once More With The Crew, This Time With The Boys

Two years ago, I went to My First Columbus Crew Match. Recently, I took my boys to their (and mine) first hockey game. At long last, I, thanks to help from my mother and step father, was able to deliver on a promise to take my kids to a professional soccer match… and what a near perfect day. Slightly cloudy, but no rain, humidity was relatively low for this time of year, as was the heat, which peaked in the upper 70s (F). Continue reading Once More With The Crew, This Time With The Boys

Well… At Least There Was a Fight

I’ve taken my children to their first professional, of any level, sporting event. While I had planned on that being a Columbus Crew game (MLS soccer), I decided, “Why not Zoidberg?” err… “Why not hockey?” I myself have never been to a hockey game, and the tickets for the game were cheap enough, especially for the seats… a bit cheaper than the soccer tickets will likely be later in the year. I’m a fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and by extension and location, their AHL affiliate the Cleveland Monsters. The AHL, for those who may not know, is the American Hockey League, it is the professional league right below the NHL. The Cleveland Monsters won the AHL championship just last year, a short while before the Cavs brought back a major league win for Cleveland. The Monsters haven’t been as great this year…

Anyhow, the boys and I arrived in Cleveland, parked and made our way to the arena, a bit of a long walk, only to discover I didn’t have my wallet. I had left my wallet in the car when I paid parking. So back to the car, then back through the mall and the walkway to the arena. It was now a bit past 7, so we missed the introductions and the start, but it was still the first 5 minutes of the game.

I think our seats were actually pretty nice all things considered.

Our end was the end the Monsters came to first and third periods. Continue reading Well… At Least There Was a Fight

Apologies for Lack of Content Here

I’ve been busy with life, writing, playing games, watching Twitch and streaming on Twitch, work, trying to get a better full time job with benefits (I need that insurance you know)… so sorry I haven’t been active here as much as I should be. Generally this blog serves as a portal to my YouTube (not very active of late), Twitch (semi-active) and the like and has fallen behind on the content I’d like to push to it. I’m not saying I’m going to get back on the ball, as I probably won’t, but hopefully I can find something to get posted here. For now, check out my Twitch highlights.

Thoughts on What Makes a Good Life and the Pursuit of Happiness

Generally this is a gaming blog. Occasionally I stretch into political discourse, and I used to discuss faith and religion. However, I’ve tried to keep it largely focused on gaming of late. What follows probably would normally be something I’d just post to Facebook for my friends, perhaps open that post up to the public… but I figured why not push it here for a change of pace… and then share it to Facebook. 🙂

There’s a new TED Talk video called What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness | Robert Waldinger | TED Talks

So let’s talk about a few things. Some are already pointed out in the comments, others are fresh and my own… Continue reading Thoughts on What Makes a Good Life and the Pursuit of Happiness

My First Columbus Crew Match

I’ve wanted to go to a Columbus Crew game since they were formed in 1994, but it’s been the last two years as my interest in the sport itself has grown that I’ve really wanted to go, so I basically count the last two years or so of wanting to go as the real deal. Two years of wanting to go and not being able to for a variety of reasons, mostly work related. If I had the time off work, I had the kids and a two plus hour trip each way with young kids… If I didn’t have all those, it was normally really bad weather (as in thunderstorms in the area) or I just didn’t have the funds, and on occasion forgot or was busy with other things, a chance to to some board gaming with the local board game group, an important video game beta test, or whatever, including important things like spending time with loved ones. The point is, for a couple years I’ve really wanted to go but things didn’t work out.

I sadly can’t even really watch the games on TV as my TV doesn’t get that channel. I’d need a cable box for that, and I already spend enough extra on the cable for much needed Internet speed improvements. I can’t use the MLS Live app or anything like that either since I live in an area where the service is available, it is blacked out locally. I did recently find a site that often has the games showing live, though the quality leaves much to be desired. Still better than nothing.

Fast forward to recent events. On Reddit there is a sub-reddit called The Massive. There one of the users gives away extra tickets to the game, and as a bonus they are in the supporter’s section called The Nordecke (for fans of American Football, think of the Dawg Pound for the Browns). I entered, thinking there was little chance of winning, but in the end won anyhow. I finally was going to get to not only see a Columbus Crew match, but it was going to be perfect weather, there were going to be fireworks after the match as it was the 4th of July, and as an extra bonus I’d be in the Nordecke. Hopefully someday I’ll get to pay it forward, and help somebody else who wants to go.

So after spending some time with a loved one, if a bit too little time, I made the three and a half hour trek to Mapfre stadium… Continue reading My First Columbus Crew Match

Warhammer 40,000: Conquest LCG Comes to OCTGN

I’ve previously mentioned that Fantasy Flight Games has a new Living Card Game (LCG) coming out called Warhammer 40,000: Conquest. Needless to say I’m pretty excited about it… Perhaps not as overly geeked out as I am over Imperial Assault (see previous story), but it was one of the games I was most excited for prior to GenCon (since then Abyss has slid down a bit and Five Tribes has moved up to just below Conquest and Imperial Assault for the post GenCon stuff). Anyhow, I can’t wait for it to come out.

Sadly, I don’t have a play group to play it with. I’m sure plenty of people at the Boardgamers of Greater Akron will be playing it, but it is a bit of a drive to Akron from where I am, and I don’t know anyone local who’s into LCGs. So being able to play the game over the Internet is always a sweet deal. Sure one could use Skype and just put the webcam on the table, but that requires a playlist of people to play with a much larger table than my desk, and a few other complications. Lucky for us, there are methods of playing LCGs, TCGs, CCGs, and other games over the Internet. For card games the two main platforms seem to be OCTGN and LackyCCG. This post will focus on the OCTGN plugin, but I know there is development ongoing for a LackyCCG plugin as well (by another person than the one who did the Conquest one). OCTGN is presently Windows only (though they mention they would like to do a Mac version and touch screen version eventually), while LackyCCG is multiplatform including Windows, Mac, Linux and iPad.

Before we continue, let me note that I am in no way involved with this project, either the LCG itself (although, FFG, if you want me…lol), OCTGN or the plugin being discussed below.

So what do you need? Continue reading Warhammer 40,000: Conquest LCG Comes to OCTGN

ArcheAge NA Alpha – Shader Corruption and Fix

There is a known issue in the ArcheAge NA Alpha where some textures will appear black until their shaders are loaded properly.

This video shows an example of it when the character enters the home and appears all black with no textures.

The fix is to exit the ArcheAge client, then delete the shader texture cache in \Documents\ArcheAge\USER\shaders, delete the cache folder and its contents and restart the game client. When you relaunch the game, you may see the issue for the first few minutes as it loads the cache, but after that it should be set.

Heroes of the Storm PAX Pack 2014 Giveaway

Heroes Contest Pic Want to win lots of cool Heroes of the Storm gear? Like a signed Heroes poster, a Heroes T-Shirt, a Heroes Lanyard, A Blizzard Fuko Pop! toy. They will be giving 25 of these sweet prize pacs. All you have to to is follow this link here: http://splur.gy/r/kNDqX/r/2KMty6dNYSW.

It is one of those contests where you like the official page on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and all those sort of things to earn points.

Need to catch up to date on my Heroes coverage? Continue reading Heroes of the Storm PAX Pack 2014 Giveaway

Great Twitch Channel to Watch

I got to give a huge shout out to a Twitch channel I watch a lot, Docgotgame. He’s got great energy, tons of humor and is a great streamer who is very interactive with his viewers.

Watch live video from Docgotgame on www.twitch.tv

He streams, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Fridays 3pm to 11pm Eastern, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6 pm with an occasional bonus stream of 7 to 11.

Here’s his website. http://docgotgame.com/.

In the interest of full disclosure I was a moderator on the channel as JonathanStrangeBT.

Resistance With Regular Playing Cards

The Resistance is one of the best games to play in a group. However sometimes you don’t have your deck with you but might have access to a deck of regular cards and the game is possible with a regular deck of cards. I’ll present some basic rule sets for playing the game with regular cards below…

The Resistance is a hidden role game for 5-10 players (it works best with 7-10). You can go over 10, but the rules presented here are for up to 10, and it becomes a bit more unwildy above 10, above 10 you are probably better moving to Werewolf, Mafia (a webcam version is popularized by Daily Mafia), Two Rooms and a Boom as they are better balanced for larger groups. Anyhow, as I was saying, it is a hidden role game. You are a member of the Resistance, fighting against an corrupt government. Each turn somebody becomes leader and decides who’s going on a mission to destroy the government. However, your group has been infiltrated by spies, who may sabotage the mission if they are on it. The number of spies depends on the number of players. If the Resistance makes 3 successful missions, they win, if the spies sabotage 3 missions they win. Continue reading Resistance With Regular Playing Cards

Christmas 2013 Shortlists

Time for Christmas Shortlists… Remember in all cases of Amazon Wishlists sort by priority as by default it is just order added…

My Christmas shortlist – Notes: Not much to add that isn’t already in the comments. The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords Base Set is probably the highest, followed by the two video games for the XBox 360 on that list… of course I’d rather have the XBox One versions, but that would require an XBox One which is $600… unless of course I was able to get it on my upcoming 25% off day… though my car has safety issues that need fixed at about $500… then again, a huge savings of 25% doesn’t come often…

The kid’s Christmas shortlist focuses on Disney Infinity stuff to go with the base set that they will have… and will be expanded after I hear back more on what they want… Not on the list are Call of Duty Mega Bloks, which sort of fills the Call of Duty itch… Each of the boys have their own Wishlists too… Ari’s Wishlist and Sidd’s Wishlist, like the shared list, I’ll probably expand this after I get in their full lists… In regards to the Disney Infinity store exlusives (some items are available only at certain locations… see New Disney Infinity exclusives and pre-orders – Frozen, Jack Skellington, Tron, Toy Story in Space and beyond as an example list), I don’t think the Crystal versions would appeal to the boys, I think they would rather have the full painted ones. The Disney Infinity stuff I’d most like to get, Phineas and Ferb stuff, in particular Agent P and Tron related items for them, but good luck on those stuff…

Present State of My Digital Card Game Playing

I’ve spoken before of the Digital LCGs, TCGs and the like that I’m wanting to play. A small update on some of those.

I am still not in the Hearthstone beta. Can’t comment too much on it outside of what I’ve seen. For the moment I’m digging Infinity Wars and Card Hunter until I can get in.

I actually got in the Infinity Wars beta after all. Very good game. However I’m stuck on one of the early missions (Warpath Campaign 2 for anyone interested in helping… if I’m still stuck when help comes). Here I am playing the game (the screen cap may say Offline Now, because I likely am offline from Twitch at the moment, but it was recorded there and rather than export it to YouTube I’ll leave it there for now, anyhow the video should work.):
Continue reading Present State of My Digital Card Game Playing

Digtial LCGs, TCGs and the Like of the Next Generation That I Want to Play

I’ve never been a Magic the Gathering player. I’ve had decks, but never really played.

Recently I’ve really gotten into Android Netrunner. In my opinion it is one of the best games for two people out there… but it isn’t digital… well not officially, you can play on a client called OCTGN, but for the most part you really need to be able to get to your local FLGS (favorite local game store) and play. My local FLGS in Akron, Underhill’s Games, has a weekly Netrunner event, but my car situation keeps me from making it like I would like…

Meanwhile I also have Lord of the Rings: LCG, which can be played solo… but again, not available digitally officially yet…

So digital card games are what I’ve been looking into.

The big one at the moment is Hearthstone, but that is in closed beta and I’m not in it yet, once I’m in I’ll report more and post up some videos. There are plenty of videos of it on YouTube and Twitch. Check it out. Blizzard, who made World of Warcraft, Diablo and the StarCraft (I need to get those for Ari) made this one. It seems very well done as one would expect from a first level developer like Blizzard… (Side note, I can’t wait to see Blizzard All Stars and Titan.) This is perhaps the big boy on the block, at least in the general public eye.

Infinity Wars is another big one out there in beta. I downloaded the client a few days ago, but didn’t make an account until today (Sept 1st), and sadly they just shut down beta invites… like had I signed up when I downloaded I probably could have got in, but now I’m on a 2-3 week wait. Again plenty of videos on YouTube and Twitch… to which I’ll be adding to for sure. As of the writing, they shut down new beta invites for 2-3 weeks. Had I tried to get in when I downloaded the client I probably would have been in already and making content for it…

Hex: Shards of Fate is perhaps one of the ones I’m most interested in seeing. It seems to be combining an MMO with a TCG. Yet again, closed alpha (not even beta yet). This one you can buy your way in, but I don’t know if I’m sold on the idea of buying in… I’m not clear yet on the MMO elements… what little I’ve seen seems to be just a next generation digital TCG, but I haven’t seen any of the PvE stuff yet. I’m very interested in the concept here at the very least.

SolForge I have on my iPad… I haven’t really used it yet though. I know lots of people are playing this while waiting to get in on the above.

There are a few others on the iPad that I’m not going to link to directly, but there’s Summoner Wars, Nightfall, and Ascension…

Of course Magic has its own digital version…

My Dream Business

If I could make a business of my own it would be a build a shopping plaza… okay that isn’t the dream, the plaza is there to support the primary business which is a Hybrid Family Entertainment Center. As to why a plaza I’ll get to after talking about the center itself.

What is a FEC? Imagine a bowling center, with a something like a Dave & Busters (large arcade area and dinning area, aimed at a slightly older audience than the next one), and a Chuck E. Cheese’s… some add indoor go carts, miniature golf, bumper cars, rock walls and more.

The bowling center is the centerpiece. 24-32+ lanes, plus some private lanes as well for smaller events. Continue reading My Dream Business

What I Would Have Done for the New Superman/Batman Movie

The way I imagined The Superman/Batman movie. Lex Luther (Bryan Cranston) reaches across the bay to Gothem’s richest citizen Bruce Wayne (now cast as Ben Affleck, though I didn’t have a casting choice in yet and I’m fine now with Affleck) in a voice of concern about this new caped crusader that nearly destroyed Metropolis in his battle with Zod (I didn’t mind the end of Man of Steel, Superman 2 had the same result, and in that one they laughed it off rather than Superman being upset about it). Batman comes over, they have a fight but they realize they are on the same time. Meanwhile Joker (no casting choices yet, I though about seeing if Mark Hamill would unretire his Joker, but this isn’t voice acting and Mark’s acting itself is what the question would be) along with my beloved Harley Quinn (also my beloved Katee Sackhoff ever since she started campaigning for it, though I might hold her off for a part in Justice League) starts causing havoc across both cities. Batman and Superman, not friends exactly, but working on the same side fight their common enemy, in the end finding that Luthor is the one pulling the strings and encouraged Joker, Luthor has something bigger planned… roll credits, tease Justice League (which is where Katee might be better cast as Wonder Woman, a tough roll to cast, Eliza Dushku would be possible, but doesn’t really fit the role as well physically, but perhaps that would be more the point).

This Is Water – Your Must Watch Video of the Moment

If you watch only one video anytime soon, then this is perhaps the one.

From the video description: In 2005, author David Foster Wallace was asked to give the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. However, the resulting speech didn’t become widely known until 3 years later, after his tragic death. It is, without a doubt, some of the best life advice we’ve ever come across, and perhaps the most simple and elegant explanation of the real value of education.
We made this video, built around an abridged version of the original audio recording, with the hopes that the core message of the speech could reach a wider audience who might not have otherwise been interested. However, we encourage everyone to seek out the full speech (because, in this case, the book is definitely better than the movie).
-The Glossary

Pondering Android Netrunner Must Haves

For people coming from a link to help, feel free to skip the intro, which is more for regular readers or those not familiar with Netrunner as much…

So I’ve been wanting to play Android Netrunner Living Card Game… I’ve played a couple times with Ari, but not any real serious games yet. I’ve listened to a couple of the Agenda 7 Podcast and a couple of the Breaking News Podcast, along with some of Team Covenant’s excellent video commentary series, and I’m ready to start playing some more serious games (if I can find people in my local area to play that is). I’ve got the following Data Packs (expansions for the game) so far, What Lies Ahead, Trace Amount, Cyber Exodus and A Study in Static, which are all there are at this point.

The challenge for me is that I’ve never played Magic: The Gathering, the original Netrunner game (on which this one is based), or any other games like it… my card game experience (beyond those using a regular deck of cards) is limited to games like Dominion and Elder Sign, both of which are far from the same category. Continue reading Pondering Android Netrunner Must Haves

The Hobbit At 48 FPS

I finally got to see The Hobbit today at the local theater in the High Frame Rate, 48fps 3D the way Peter Jackson filmed it and intended it to be seen. A bit about the movie… it’s a great movie and a must see, I’ll speak more about the movie in a bit.

The big news about the movie is that Peter Jackson filmed the movie at 48 frames per second…
Continue reading The Hobbit At 48 FPS