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Monday, May 31, 2010

On the iPad

The iPad for gamers and bloggers. A slight rant with a dash of review.


Let me preface this by saying, yes, I am an apple fanboy. Being a Computer Scientist, and a programmer who works primarily in Windows, I can safely say my opinion is not swayed by what is "hip", but what is more pleasurable to use. I made the switch to Mac OSX about 14 months ago and haven't looked back. That being said, Windows 7 is a huge step in the right direction, and has made my 8 hours a day spent doing windows development far more enjoyable.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let me briefly tell you why I am a big fan of the iPad. When I was younger I would compare machines solely on their performance specs. "Oh dude, you only have a 2GHZ processor? Damn, I have a 2.4 and it's just so much better". Now days I am far more binary. It either works the way you want it to, or it doesn't. I am exhausted of reading op-ed pieces about the iPhone still selling so much based only on its "cool" factor since other phones offer better equipment for the price. The fact is consumers don't care how many megapixels their cell phone's camera boasts. It's the experience, and having used all of the latest and greatest, I can honestly say my 2 year old iPhone still blows them out of the water. So when the iPad's specs came out people complained about the lack of multi-tasking, and pointed out other tablet machines currently on the market that sport full fledged operating systems. But I knew they were just the tweaker tech nerds and that all that really matters is the performance of the device in its intended function.

As a device built for portability that's function is consumption and communication- the iPad delivers HANDS DOWN. When I got my wife and I our iPads, I honestly did not expect to use it very much. But the fact is, the OS is blazing fast, and the device is far more portable than even a laptop. At 1.5 pounds, and with a split second "Wake" time, casually surfing the web and checking e-mail is an absolute joy. In fact, browsing the web is one area where the iPad exceeded my expectations wildly. The zoom and multi-touch is an absolute dream to use. For non "power users", the iPad is a perfect solution. My wife who, aside from creating her excellent blog Iron Lydia, uses her computer primarily for facebook, e-mail, and web browsing has really taken to the iPad. Her macbook has barely been open since we got them as it works perfectly for her.

What the device is not so great at is creating. The keyboard is naturally not as responsive as a physical keyboard (though I was surprised at how well I could type on it, it's still not even as good as a laptop keyboard), so writing long blog posts like this one would be a chore.

iPAD FOR GAMERS
I downloaded an excellent app called GOOD READER, which allows you to manage documents (.doc, .pdf, .odt etc). Combined with my Mobile Me subscription, I have access to all of my gaming pdfs from anywhere. The screen is high definition and very crisp, and with the ease of zooming, no one should have any problem reading on it.

Another great app I downloaded is FEEDDLER RSS which allows me to read all of your wonderful blogs with a touch of a finger. I do plan to try and update WWPD from my iPad as a test sometime soon, but there's no easy way to get pictures from my camera to my iPad (actually, there IS I just don't own it). Though some great apps do exist for updating your blogs in a friendly format.

OTHER GOOD FREE APPS I'VE USED
PHOTOBUCKET- a great interface for viewing and editing your photobucket albums.
PHOTOPAD- a lightweight, free photo editor. Provides all the functionality an intrepid wargames blogger would need.
NETFLIX- watching movies on the iPad is very neat.
NPR- the NPR app is seriously great. You can listen to archived shows, or live radio from anywhere in America.
YOUTUBE/WIKIPANION/TWITTERIFIC/IMDB- all straight forward and very nice.
VNC/RDP LITE- great remote desktop apps. Can control our mac mini from my iPad.


I believe the iPad would excel at Army Builder type applications for your various games, and if the gaming companies would support some sort of eBook format, you could leave all your bulky rulebooks at home! imagine being able to electronically search the FOW rulebook rather than look at the horrible, horrible index.


FOW mission pdf

In conclusion, the iPad really impressed me. Could I live without it? Absolutely. It hasn't ingrained itself into my lifestyle as much as my iPhone. BUT for people like my wife (and I certainly mean no offense to her here), I think it could replace even a laptop.

I do think the iPad and gaming have a LOT of potential, and I am excited to see where that can go. I am gearing up to try my hand at a little development as well, though Objective C (Apple's native programming language) is pretty far from familiar waters for me.

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted. I've been busy obsessing over Red Dead Redemption, which is a phenomenal game. My wife and I also spent the weekend in Hilton Head. But the gaming should return to a normal schedule very soon.
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Meet some Legends of the Old West

Some pictures of my Legends of the Old West miniatures.


The mysterious gunslinger known only as "66".

Meet the rest of the gunslingers after the break.





Empire, New Mexico.


The Witchita Kid, 66's right hand man. He does all the talkin'


Crazy Ol' Bart. Ex Union cavalryman turned to a life of crime. He's slightly touched by the angels.


Ol' Bart aboard his steed.


Abraham Williams, reluctant deputy with a bad case of the shakes.


Sheriff Jim Valentine.


Joseph Stillwater III. A former Pinkerton, and close friend of Valentine's.


The Vigilante Nathaniel White.


Nathaniel White was born in the saddle.


Kenneth Brandt on the left, a former prospector. On the right, fella name'o "Jim Dandy" an Englishman who knows his way around a saloon (and especially the ladies therein)


Kenneth and Jim Dandy again.


"Lefty" Lucy, known as Lucille to her father. Eager to prove herself as a reliable tough as nails gunslinger.


The De La Cruz brothers Miguel and Cesar.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

WWPD popping up elsewhere on the web!

For Flames of War Gamers there is scarcely an honor higher than being featured on the "front page" of the Website, but my pics of our epic El Alamein game did just that! It was pretty sweet, check it out (while it's there) at www.flamesofwar.com.

Connor S. has also written a handful of great articles over at Bell of Lost Souls featuring a few pictures from this blog. Link #1- FOW Primer and Link #2- Bringing your terrain to life

And on those high notes- I think I will be cutting back on FOW for a few weeks. I've been playing it nearly exclusively 3 or 4 (or more) times a week for a few months and feel myself going on tilt. I'll still probably paint, but I think I am going to focus on Legends of the Old West for a bit. What Would Wild Bill Do? I'll post some pics of my posse later.
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Monday, May 10, 2010

FOW Basing Tutorial



Okay so here is my brief tutorial on my very simple method of basing.

Firstly, I prefer simple bases. While I think bases with walls and floors and buildings look absolutely phenomenal I am definitely more into gaming than modeling and don't particularly like the look of a ruined building following my troops across the battlefield. But as a simple and effective method of basing, I think this tutorial should be easy to follow.

Read on for a step by step tutorial!



MATERIALS:
Tacky/White/Wood Glue
Small bottle of 75% glue/25% water
Small container of sand
old wide/flat brush
old "sharp" brush
paper towel
necessary paints + brushes for your bases
foliage/etc



Here are my basing materials excluding my static grass and foliage.


Finished Bersaglieri after being glued on with super glue

STEP ONE:

After the Bersaglieri are glued on to their base, I liberally coat the base with pure white glue, taking care not to get glue on the "pedastal".


Next using the flat brush I smooth the glue over the sides of the base (optional- I've seen people NOT do this and it has a very nice aesthetic)


place the model on top of the sand


Gently shake the container until all of the glue is submerged in sand


Tip the model upside down and shake off excess sand


Once this first coat is done, let them dry overnight.

STEP TWO:

Now the glue has all dried and we can work with the bases again


Now we are going to do another layer of the glue/sand combo, but this time used slightly watered down glue so it's easier to work with. I use roughly a 75/25 mix. More gets runny and less gets sticky


This time we use the same techniques from step One, except using the small brush we carefully get around the model's feet. Excess can be easily scraped off later. On the 2nd step I do NOT cover the sides of the base.


Now step two is done, I let it dry again overnight.

Despite taking a few nights to dry, the overall work put in is really very light. When I am in maximum production mode, I usually have one platoon in the basing process, one platoon in the painting process, and one platoon in the prepping stages.

STEP THREE

Now with a large brush, liberally apply your base coat. I water it down a good deal (maybe 40% water) so the sand soaks it up nicely.


The base coat has been applied. This should dry quickly, maybe an hour or so.


Now we highlight with progressively lighter shades. The pictures don't pickup the highlights very well, but it's easy to do. Just mix in some white with your base color, and the sand is very easy to drybrush


More drybrushing.


Now I use my watered down glue again and my static grass. This is just vallejo summer grass.


For the desert I apply very patchy sections of glue. Then I just drop clumps of sand on, hold the model upside down, and shake off the excess.


Using the pure white glue, I then apply my foliage (this is just green lichen)

FINISHED PRODUCT





So obviously these are not earth shattering or the world's best painted bases. BUT they are EASY to achieve, they are super quick (probably less than 2 minutes per base total) and they look great in most situations.

Please let me know if this tutorial was helpful for you, and I will consider doing more!

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Battle Hymn 2010



This weekend saw Battle Hymn 2010. Originally I had planned to have a FOW big game for the CVFOW club, but just about everyone couldn't make it for one reason or another. Because 4500 point games aren't exactly new player friendly AND Jon Baber (the demo king) was running a demo game for new FOW players, I was in a bit of a weird situation. Dallas and I set up the board and played a few rounds with a focus on making the battle look cool to try and attract some new players. After a few turns we packed up and got a big game of Legends of the Old West going instead.

It was a little disappointing carrying 9000 points worth of troops and terrain and not really getting to take advantage of it, but I did take some cool pictures and had a great time as the Banditos in Legends of the Old West.

Anyways, lots of pics of our big game after the break.




Jon Baber is the demo king


Jon's excellent demo board.


Dallas and I after set up.


Lydia took pictures of other games going on























































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