New MacBook Pro’s with Retina Display

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I had a dell laptop with a screen resolution of 1440×1050 and that wasn’t even the highest that was available at the time. It was great to be able to have multiple items on the screen at a time and get some work done.
The last few years have been a drought of lower resolutions for some reason and I’m happy to see the Retina Display MacBook Pro’s let you just set the resolution to 1920×1200 which is great. Finally a laptop feels like there is room to get stuff done.

Getting a Raspberry Pi

Rapberry Pi is a small computer that runs Linux and is great for a lot of fun little projects.

Raspberry Pi Hardware

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi Revision B Hardware

The hardware is about the size of a deck of cards. Power is provided via a microUSB connection that requires 700 milliamps (must us a 1amp power plug like iPad charger), a powered USB hub gives us a spot for keyboard and mouse and the HDMI port lets us plug it into a TV or monitor.

The Processor is a 700MHz ARM11 family processor that is able to be over-clocked safely to 800MHz from what I hear. Software compiled for the Intel x86 family will NOT run, but the Linux world is full of source code that can be compiled to run on the hardware. Running lots of normal desktop software is not what this was designed for. It’s to be used to create your own little programs and projects that do stuff. Think using the GPIO (general purpose input output) to interface with other hardware and components for electronic projects combined with the Python programming language to do something with that data.

It has 512MB of RAM and an SD card slot for adding up to a 32GB SD Card with Linux and room for applications and programs.

Full Specs below:

  • SoC Broadcom BCM2835 (CPU, GPU, DSP, and SDRAM)
  • CPU: 700 MHz ARM1176JZF-S core (ARM11 family)
  • GPU: Broadcom VideoCore IV, OpenGL ES 2.0, 1080p30 h.264/MPEG-4 AVC high-profile decoder
  • Memory (SDRAM): 512 Megabytes (MiB)
  • Video outputs: Composite RCA, HDMI
  • Audio outputs: 3.5 mm jack, HDMI
  • Onboard storage: SD, MMC, SDIO card slot
  • 10/100 Ethernet RJ45 onboard network
  • Storage via SD/ MMC/ SDIO card slot

Linux

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Raspbian is a free operating system based on Debian optimized for the Raspberry Pi hardware. Get this loaded onto an SD card, plug it into the Raspberry Pi and you are ready.

PythonPython is a programming language that is pretty easy to pick up and even has some books for kids to learn.

Kids

The Raspberry Pi was designed with kids using these inexpensive boards to learn about computers, programming and electronics. There are books to learn about programming in Python, educational ebooks and more.

Some ideas

Chameleon Linux which has a lot of old computers emulated.

I wish I had this when I was younger. A $35 computer with an open architecture to play, learn and grow in computer knowledge.

Earthdawn 2012

History of Earthdawn

I’ve been a huge fan of the Earthdawn RPG since the three part introduction pamphlets showed up in my local hobby shop in 1993.

For a number of years I purchased all the things Earthdawn that I could find and ran an ongoing campaign that was loved by all.

Then  in January of 1999 FASA shut down Earthdawn and a number of their other games. It was a sad day and made especially worse in that the book on dragons had been completed by FASA, but would not be published.

In 2001 Living Room Games picked up a license to publish some books and released the second edition along with some new source material. In 2005 their license ended and RedBrick LLC started releasing the Classic edition and moved to a third edition in 2009.

In 2012 the third edition came to an end and Earthdawn now has three versions being released by FASA: A revised 3rd edition in a smaller paperback format which limited changed from third edition, one using the Savage Worlds (SW) rules and a final version utilizing the Pathfinder rules.

My initial thoughts on the Savage Worlds edition

At GenCon 2012 I picked up the Earthdawn Savage Worlds (EDSW) books. I’ve had the opportunity to read through the sections that cover making characters, casting spells and some other stuff needed to run the game. It was several hours of reading, stopping to find the referenced rule system in Savage Worlds and then combining it all. This would be a lot easier had I ever used the Powers system in SW, but I’ve never run a game of SW and only played a modern day (first half of the 1900′s) investigator in a Realms of Cthulhu game. Once I wrapped my head around the rules it seems pretty simple. Makes me wonder how it’ll feel compared to playing ED with its own system that has a lot more depth with Magic, Adepts and Discipline Talents.

I find some irony in the fact that they’ve released a version for Savage Worlds when Savage Worlds came from the opposite move of stopping the use of other game systems and just releasing their own simple system. So I cringe a little bit that it won’t be long before an edition or two gets the axe. I’m betting the Pathfinder edition gets the boot first and fear for the Savage Worlds books a little. There is a chance I’m just jaded since it feels too often stuff I like (TV Shows, Comics and drinks and breakfast sandwichs at a certain coffee shop) keep getting cancelled. But, in this world of “Must make tons of money right away or we try something else” seems to get the under appreciated titles too often.

The production value (of the Savage Worlds edition) and layout are good, but not really the full color pages of SW or the great layout that the RedBrick 3rd edition had. Almost feels a half step backwards. I’m guessing it’s from a short timeline to get it out ASAP and from changing hands back to FASA.

The equipment tables have categories that are just italicized text which make it very difficult to locate categories quickly. You can see an example where Vehicles below is a category. (I have since taken a green colored pencil to these categories.)

 

Moving Earthdawn to other editions in an attempt to gather a larger following by grabbing SW and Pathfinder gamers is a good idea and I hope it adds some fans.

then I hope they have a newer printing that improves the layout and general sexiness of the books. Give this amazing campaign setting and world the great books they deserve and stop the re-versioning and company hopping that has been part of keeping Earthdawn alive. Loyal fans are most likely tired of buying the same books again and again while waiting for the reprints to catch up and new material to start being released again.

I’ve been interested in running a SW game for a while and having the EDSW books have given me the motivation to re-read the SW rules and run some adventures in Barsaive once again. I’ve missed you and look forward to sharing Earthdawn with my group.

Earthdawn Forever Baby!!!

RPG Book Bindings

Following is a gripe with the popular binding that ends up on so many game books. For some reason I’m especially thinking of Wizards of the Coast and the 4th edition D&D books.

I grew up playing Rifts and love how durable their books are. They’ve been dropped, stepped on my dogs with muddy paws, and thumbed through a lot and the pages just don’t fall out. I had some other RPG books that wouldn’t last as long and I had noticed a long time ago that the binding had something to do with it. Some have that nice little “loop” while others are just “cut” pages with some glue on the end.

Savage Worlds (left) vs Earthdawn (right) book binding

The book on the left is a Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition book and the one on the right is the Earthdawn Game Master’s Guide using the Savage Worlds rules. A more perfect world would have better and sexier book quality all around.

 

Two Step Verification

I’m a huge fan of the two-step verification from Google and now Dropbox has added it. I’d recommend setting it up if you haven’t. Basically you will have an app on your smartphone (iOS & Android) that provides a number that changes every minute. Without this you cannot login to your account even if you have the username and password. With Google you can create unique passwords per app/device so it’ll stay logged into an app. If the app supports two step verification it will ask you to reverify every two weeks or so. I only have to do this a few times a month which isn’t too much of a pain. There is a super code that you will write down and store in a secure place to help recover your account in the case of losing your phone or whatnot.

Mountain Lion – 10.8

Kudos to John Siracusa for the amazing OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion review on Ars Technica. I have found a lot of information has come up when someone mentions “I haven’t loaded Mountain Lion yet, but what do you think?”

Geoffrey Goetz has a good article on gigaom on the mess of How many Apple IDs your family should have? lt will give you some insight into what accounts are doing what on your Apple devices. If you have had to deal with multiple accounts or many devices with a single account you may have experienced some pain when you run into an Apple “limit”.

I have a good handle on the finer details of Apple products, accounts and services, being the resident expert in our group, but it’s getting to be more to keep track of as Apple expands it’s Walled Garden web to encompass so much more of our world. It’s a great system if you don’t mind the locked down hardware, limits on what developers can do with software (and it’s getting worse). For the most part all the stuff I buy in iTunes and the App store get littered across all my devices so I can watch/read/listen to it when it’s most convient, which is awesome. The part that sucks is when I’m looking to “see other technology” and the especially jealous Apple and Content Providers say no.

[Awesome photo of a Spider with an Apple logo on it spinning a larger web and capturing customer in it goes here.] <== Wish I knew to draw awesome pics!

Photos and backups

It’s amazing the mess I have made of my digital photo collection over the years. They are copied over here and backed up over there. Duplicate copies exist in a number of places and it’s high time I clean it up. I got a good start by pruning 6,137 photos out of my iPhoto library. I still have 13,710 left and a number will be removed since I don’t care to look back on 1/2 of the stuff that’s in there.

I’ve decided to drop $10 on PhotoSweeper and expect great things from the app. Especially since I’m not sure how I got triple photos in my library of some photos.

Wish me luck as I go from multiple drives, CD’s, DVD’s to my photos being able to be stored on a couple of RAID drives.

So much to do

“Just do it.” is what Nike says. A very important idea that applies to accomplishing so much in life. Nothing great has ever been accomplished without someone sitting up and starting. We can also say that about failing, but let’s forget that part since it’s easy to fail by never trying.

The next part is where we can stumble, judge ourselves failures and move onto the sidelines. Setting goals, reaching them, giving 110% and all the rest of that shit that makes us feel like we haven’t succeeded. The beginning can feel like giving it our best and reaching what feels like 23% and leaving us gasping on a bench while someone twice our age passes us for the second time.

You know what? We fucking rock! Just for showing up. We didn’t get any medals and we have a long damn way to go before someone envies our display, but it has to start somewhere. So I’ve been showing up for the last couple of weeks and I’m finally starting to feel like I’ve reached the beginning. Yes. It took me three weeks to have the endurance and energy for a run/bicycle ride that I felt I would have the first time. So if it takes you three weeks at step -1 to get any improvement you are doing it right. Rock, rock on, brother!

So pick something in your life you’ve been wanting to improve and pay attention to it. Do it. Even if it’s only a little every other day and keep at it. It’s amazing what can be done a little at a time. I found picking one thing to really get focus and make some progress on during the month helpful.

Diablo 3. Not so much.

Not the smoothest game launch with login problems opening night and maintenance the following day. The game has been officially available 32 hours or so and I currently have a level 3 wizard who I am very proud of. You should see my magic armor and fancy boots. Scares the local undead.

iPhone No-SIM Error fixed

I found a solution to my phone just randomly deciding it doesn’t need a cell connection. WooServers had a good article about putting some tape over the end of the SIM card. Problem Solved.
I’ve added this to a piece of a sticky note crammed under the wake/sleep button as things I’ve had to do with my iPhone 4 to keep it running. Not really in the mood to spend money on an upgraded talking phone.