August 7, 2019

Making A Board Game - Part 3

After a bit of a gap in momentum, I am back to making progress! I now have all my .psd templates set up for the various card components. When I started this project, I was using Photoshop for the artwork design files. My Creative Cloud subscription came up for renewal recently, and I decided not to renew as I was not utilizing enough of it to make it worth the cost. I am doing all the card design work in Pixelmator Pro. Pixelmator has always been able to do what I need, but inertia kept me in Photoshop. Having all the files set up and getting all my layers named and organized has helped get over my creative slump.

Next Steps:

  1. Card design V1 (~2 weeks)
  2. Board design V1 (~2 weeks)
  3. Get an alpha set printed to aid in play testing (~3 weeks)

Onward! ⚔️

Hint..? 🤷‍♂️
Board Game Hint?

Series of Posts
Dusting Off An Old Project - Part 1
Dusting Off An Old Project - Part 2

Project Board Games
July 18, 2019

An Everyday Backpack

I have a confession. I am addicted to bags. Backpacks, messenger, camera, you name it. Part of this comes from the eternal quest for the perfect bag.” It seems that every bag ends up falling below my ideal in some way.

I am not going to drag you through a bulleted list of all the things I want in a bag, but instead, I want to talk about the bag I have now that could be the one.

Ok, so tell me what bag it is already!

Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L - Charcoal 🎒

Peak Everyday Backpack, Charcoal

This bag has an impeccable design, and the quality of materials is top-notch.

From the first interaction with the packaging, it was clear that a great deal of thought and care went into this bag experience. As I began going through the various compartments and features of the bag, it felt as though I must have been in the room giving feedback along the way when the bag was being conceived because so much of the design felt familiar and perfectly suited for me. Each feature of a product should be scrutinized before adding it to the inclusion list. One failing of many bags is the seemingly random collection of pockets, clips, straps that aren’t of any real value but lend to the illusion of versatility. Each feature within this bag serves a purpose and had to justify its existence before being added, and it shows.

Although this is technically a camera bag, that is not the primary purpose I wanted it to serve. There are a lot of camera bags that are great at holding camera gear, but not so great for daily use in other areas. The Everyday Backpack strikes just the right balance for my needs. Part of what I need is a safe place to store my camera (whenever it gets here.. #StillOnBackorder 😕), and traditional bags are terrible at protecting camera gear. This bag allows for storage of a camera and plenty of space for other items. There are dedicated slots for a laptop and tablet, as well as a quick access top pouch for items that are needed in a hurry. There is easy access to the contents via the side openings or the top. And let me tell you, the clasp for the top portion is a thing of wonder. It has multiple attach points to allow for the bag to grow and shrink to hold contents and is just so damn satisfying to open and close — a mix of hardware clasp and magnets.

The bag is excellent, and I feel good about it, but of course, it’s been 24 hours. I will be using this as my daily backpack going forward, and I am sure I will have updates that I will add below as we progress.

Good products are made; great products are designed.
They have earned the right to put Design in their name, in my opinion.

Peak Everyday Backpack, Charcoal

Backpack Design
July 9, 2019

Siri Shortcuts - Episode 11

Shortcut Name: Apple Reminders Packing List
Revision: 1.0
Add to Shortcuts! not available yet

What does it do?
A quick and simple shortcut that creates a new packing list in Apple Reminders. I use this to create a quick packing list with all the standard’ items I usually need for a trip.

How does it work?

  1. Creates a list of standard packing items.
  2. Creates a new reminder for each list item in my Packing List” Reminders list.

Source Code”
Shortcut 011 Code Screenshot

Check out other shortcuts

iOS Shortcuts Siri
June 17, 2019

Dusting Off An Old Project - Part 2

I have gone through all my old files and got each project file updated to the latest versions of Pages, Photoshop, InDesign, etc.

Now that I have all my files ready for revision 2, it’s time to get down to it! I started by going through the rules booklet and refining it to incorporate things that were noted down in previous rounds of play testing, and added a few new things that came to mind just from simply being away from the project for a while and coming to it with a fresh perspective.

Now comes one of the harder portions of the project, the artwork. It’s going to be critical to have really awesome artwork for this game so I am definitely going to be reaching out to friends who are amazing artists and commission work from them. I have been kicking around the idea of commissioning smaller chunks of the work with people I don’t know as well to get some artistic diversity injected into the game!

I am working on a project plan right now, and hoping to have that done by the end of June. It shouldn’t take that long but I need to be realistic about time commitments such as work, travel, and family.

Onward! ⚔️

Project Board Games
June 6, 2019

Micro.blog WWDC19 Stickers

For those unable to get all the way out to CA this year for the Micro.blog meetup at WWDC 2019, add your name and address below and I will get a limited edition Micro.blog WWDC19 sticker sent your way!

Micro.blog WWDC19 Stickers

Stickers Left as of 2019-07-24 8:42 AM = 5

Stickers have been sent to the following countries so far!

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • UAE
  • Norway
  • Poland

First Batch Going Out! Micro.blog WWDC19 Stickers being mailed

Second Batch Going Out! Micro.blog WWDC19 Stickers being mailed

Third Batch Going Out! Micro.blog WWDC19 Stickers being mailed

Fourth and Fifth Batch Going Out!
oops, forgot to take photos of these..

Photos posted showing their new stickers! Micro.blog WWDC19 Stickers On Items

Micro.blog Stickers Mail
June 2, 2019

Dusting Off An Old Project - Part 1

Sometime around the end of 2012, beginning of 2013, I had an itch to create something, not 100% in the digital world that I lived in. I had a couple ideas swirling around in my head, but the one that I kept coming back to was board games. I had a handful of game ideas running around in my head, and a couple of them, I thought, could be pretty good. I began mocking up game pieces and boards using cardboard and draft paper, and eventually got to some prototypes that were enough of the way there to try some playthroughs with friends. I don’t fully know why these projects never made it through to completion, could have been frustration, denial, burnout, but the end result is that they never got finished.

I was listening to a podcast yesterday, and a completely unrelated topic brought the thought of these two games rushing back into my head. Today, I dug up all the prototypes, and digital files (for creation of the content needed), and set off to make a plan to get one of them pushed to completion! After discussing it with my wife, we agreed on which of the two to do first, and use the learnings from this one to apply to the second game if that becomes the eventual future.

No rule says you can’t put a project aside and come back to it. I really do believe that this time will allow for a (hopefully) richer and deeper experience given a new perspective. This should be part 1 of X blog posts as I go through the process of getting this game from concept to shrink-wrapped box!

Project Board Games
May 16, 2019

I Had A Migraine?

May 16, 2019. The day that I experienced a migraine for the first time in my 35 years of life. I have known people that have them, but there is obviously no way to really understand what something like this is like when it’s happening to someone else. That all changed today. Holy shit did it change.

I have no idea what triggered it (if anything in particular). I have been traveling for work the past couple weeks and today was the last day of meetings for this week, and that’s when it hit me. It started off slowly as a mild headache, then gained momentum, and that headache became very intense. It was followed by nausea, dizziness, and high sensitivity to light. Each symptom progressed to 10x what they started at. Fortunately, I must have read the future this morning because I got a late checkout from my hotel today, so I went back to the hotel and laid down in an attempt to get some relief from the crippling pain in my head. The light sensitivity was probably the strangest part of this whole experience. I shut all the drapes and turned off the lights, but even the smallest light source felt blinding. I felt like a cliche Dracula who needed to throw up his cape and dash away into darkness.

I will definitely be doing some further research into this, all while hoping this is not the first of more to come!

Migraine Health
May 12, 2019

Brydge Keyboard - iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

Ordered: 2019-01-08
Received: 2019-05-11
Price: $169.99 + $7.99 (shipping) + $12.32 (tax) = $190.30

Here it is, the Brydge Keyboard for the 2018 iPad Pro 12.9”! Brydge Keyboard Box

Typing On It

  • At first, I thought the keys felt a little small, especially if you are used to typing on a MacBook Pro or Magic Keyboard. The keyboard area is the same physical size as the Magic Keyboard. I grabbed some digital calipers, and it turns out that the Brydge keys are actually slightly smaller at ~15.5mm wide. For comparison, the Magic Keyboard is ~16mm, and the MacBook Pro is more like ~17mm.
  • I am typing this whole thing on the Brydge so I will put something down below at the end on how that went. Keyboard Comparison

Lap Typing
Typing on your lap feels much like a MacBook. There are two things I would mention here.

  1. It’s pretty narrow, mainly if you are used to a 15″ MacBook Pro.
  2. The hinges stick out a good bit so they poke you in the legs/knees, which can be kind of annoying over time.

Touching The Screen

  • It has a little bit of wobble. Not enough to make it not useable, but it’s there. I knew it would be since there really isn’t a reasonable way to engineer something like this as a third party and have it not wobble a bit.
  • This may go away over time, but I do find myself using my left hand to grab the edge of the screen while I touch it with my right hand some of the time.
  • You can set it at any angle which is excellent compared to other keyboards that attach to the iPad.

This sounds weird, but it looks too much like a MacBook now… Why is that bad? Well, I am continually trying to use the trackpad that is not anywhere to be found. 🤦‍♂️ It’s the opposite problem I have on my MacBook Pro when I try to touch the screen.

Removing The Keyboard

  • This is an area where the Smart Keyboard wins. You basically just have to rip it off (magnets), and you are done. This one takes a little more dedication to remove the iPad from the corner hinges, and then fold them each back down so you can store it in a bag. Then to put it back on, you fold them out and try to align them to be even so you can put the iPad back in. It’s a little fiddly, but not that bad.

  • I have a small concern when picking it up. If you close it, and then pick it up like a laptop to carry with you, in your hand, under your arm, there is a pretty good sized gap between the keyboard and iPad. If you squeeze with your hand to make sure you have a good hold on it, you are bending your iPad and keyboard toward each other. This is not a problem if you hold it by the non-hinge edge. iPad Keyboard Bend Comparison

Special Buttons

  • Home Button - I have become very accustomed to hitting Command+H on the iPad, but this keyboard has a dedicated button for home which is pretty neat. Hit it once to go to your home screen, and twice to go into the window switcher mode.
  • Lock Button - Simple one tap to lock screen. Same as reaching up to press the power button, but a nice little touch that adds convenience.
  • Battery Life Indicator - Since this has its own battery, it is nice to have a quick way to see what the battery life is at any time. Although, if you use the battery widget in iOS anyway, you can see it there as well.
  • Siri Button - If you are a big Siri or dictation user, having a dedicated key will be great.
  • Software keyboard - Sometimes you need things that only a software keyboard can provide. Instead of un-pairing your Bluetooth keyboard to access those features, you have a dedicated button to bounce back and forth.
  • Media Keys - Glorious media keys! Volume, screen brightness, audio playback controls, keyboard brightness. Battery Widget

LED Indicator
There is a single multi-color LED indicator light on the keyboard located within the power button. This light gives you indications for the power status of the unit, Bluetooth pairing, and battery life.

  • A single press of the power button will light green for ~3 seconds if powered on.
  • Holding the battery button for ~4 seconds will light the LED with the following conditions.
    • Green Flash x3 (75%-100%)
    • Yellow Flash x3 (25%-74%)
    • Red Flash x3 (10%-24%)
  • Hold the Bluetooth button down, and it will begin blinking blue when in pairing mode.

Magnetic Back Cover

  • It comes with a magnetic back cover also to add a bit of protection to the back of the iPad. It has notches in it to accommodate the keyboard hinges. I made a back cover for my iPad out of a Smart Cover so I could have just a back cover when setting my iPad down when using it in tablet mode. The one I made fits better in my opinion, but without the notches, it won’t work well when using the keyboard. iPad Back Covers

So, how was it typing all this? Overall, it was good. It did take a bit of getting used to the key travel and layout. I had a ton of typos when I was starting the post, but it slowly went down as my fingers got used to the keys. Mostly I kept hitting media keys since I am not used to there being an extra row of stuff up at the top.

The biggest concern I have is adding yet another utterly different keyboard to my day-to-day. Including this one, I will use four different keyboards, and they all have a completely different feel. MacBook Pro, Magic Keyboard (Mac mini), Smart Keyboard Case (iPad Pro), and Brydge (iPad Pro).

If I had to rank them all right this second from favorite to least favorite, judging them strictly on how they feel when typing, it would come out like this (HUGE CAVEAT: I just got the Brydge!)

  1. MacBook Pro
  2. Magic Keyboard
  3. Smart Keyboard Case
  4. Brydge 12.9”

Now add in additional features offered, convenience, and things like use on your lap:

  1. MacBook Pro
  2. Brydge 12.9”
  3. Smart Keyboard Case
  4. Magic Keyboard

UPDATES

  • It seems the right shift key is no longer functioning…
  • I am starting to think there is maybe something wrong in general with this keyboard. The more I type, the more I think the unit is not picking up all my keystrokes. Not sure if this is actually a problem yet or just something with the way I type? It seems intermittent.
  • 2019-05-24 Worked with CS over at Brydge to do some troubleshooting. My unit is going to be sent back via RMA to be replaced. Looking forward to getting the new unit!
  • 2019-06-07 I got a replacement (open box) unit. It seems like the keys are working, but I have been using it for the last day or so and I don’t know if it’s the key mechanisms, or the way I type, or something else, but I still find many key strokes to be missing from my typing (only when I use the Brydge). I think, unfortunately, this keyboard is not going to work for me. This new unit also makes a popcorn crackle sound when picking it up that the original one did not? I really wanted it to work, but it’s too much trouble to constantly have to fix missing characters in my writing.

I have submitted for a return of the keyboard.

  • 2019-06-08 I got some info from the CEO of Brydge about some settings in accessibility to look at and disable. They have had some reports that this may be what I am experiencing. I have a phone call set up with him to discuss my issues further on Monday.

  • 2019-06-24 I have returned the keyboard. Given all the issues I was having, it wasn’t going to work for me to type on every day. I find the Smart Keybaord cover to be a much better input device for me. Not thrilled that I have to pay for return shipping and a restocking fee”, but it’s better than just putting it in a drawer to never be used again.

I’ll be sure to post updates on Micro.blog as I use it more each day.

Questions? Send them my way! I am happy to help any way I can.

Brydge Keyboard In Use

iPad Pro Brydge Keyboard
Jason Burk | 1999-2019
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