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 2019-06-15 9:02 PM = 9

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

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.

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
May 7, 2019

Swarm

Swam Sticker Logo

Once upon a time there was a service called Dodgeball that allowed you to keep a running log of the places you visited. That service was sold to Google and a new service was started in its place, Foursquare. Similar idea with a more polished and fun user experience. I used this service a lot and really enjoyed what is provided. As a with any good idea, it becomes a popular market and competitors inevitably enter that market. Gowalla was a similar service to Foursquare, and at that time, my opinion was that it did it better, so, off to Gowalla I went. And as with most services you start liking, it got bought by Facebook and shutdown.

That ended my run of location logging app usage and I didn’t really pay attention to the category for a couple years. For the most part, Foursquare stayed on top of this category, although they did split out the check-in” functionality mostly to another app called Swarm.

I recently was thinking about how great it would be to have a fast, fun, and effective way to keep track of neat places I have been to or had great meals at. I did some looking around to see what was out there and now I have Swarm installed.

This review for Swarm summarizes what I want out of swarm quite nicely.

Swarm App Review

I am going to try it out again for a while and see how it works out day to day. It sure beats trying to keep track of everything in a note or spreadsheet.

Location Swarm Foursquare Gowalla
May 1, 2019

Ultrawide Screen Auto Layout Button

At work I have the following setup to get my work done most efficiently.

Work Desk Monitor Setup

Throughout the day, I disconnect and connect my laptop from the monitor as I go to meetings. Every time I come back to plug in, I find myself setting up my windows on the Ultrawide since most of the time I have a standard” setup.

As with anything related to computers, if you keep doing it, just automate it.

So, that’s what I did. I made a custom TouchBar button using BetterTouchTool that automatically sets up the windows on my Ultrawide the way I want them. Such a better way to live!

BetterTouchTool Custom TouchBar Button

BetterTouchTool Ultrawide Monitor MacBook Pro TouchBar
April 28, 2019

Six New Games - April 2019

A few games I have added to my collection over the last few months that I wanted to share with you all. 🎮

Baba Is You

Baba is You Game Thumbnail
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Very unique and awesome!

Boxboy! + Boxgirl!

Box Boy Box Girl Game Thumbnail
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Great game for co-op play.

Cattails

CatTails Game Thumbnail
Platform: Nintendo Switch

It’s like Stardew Valley with cats!

Hob

Hob Game Thumbnail
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Cool visuals and gameplay. From the creators of the Torchlight series.

Cuphead

CupHead Game Thumbnail
Platform: Nintendo Switch

So. Damn. Difficult. Really awesome art and music!

Starlink Game Thumbnail
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Cool all around spaceship game. It’s basically what I thought No Mans Sky was going to be. It has Star Fox!

Games Nintendo Switch
Jason Burk | 1999-2019
blot.im!
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