Sunday, 14 June 2015

Smiles, Sailing and Steam Sales

The word of the week is superb.

June 8 – Freer 

My Mondays have freed up again, thanks to Starbucks, oddly.

Last week's writing group meeting at the Chapters location downtown was a success, meaning that the group will be switching our meetings to Thursday nights from this point on. It’s a great relief to know that we’ve been welcome with open arms by the management at Chapters and Starbucks( especially after the Tectoria fiasco from earlier this year )and we’re looking forward to many more meetings set in the comforting locale of Chapter’s book-lined upper mezzanine.

On a personal note, I’m spending more and more time now with my date, who from this point on I’m going to refer to as ‘my lady’ for lack of a more accurate term, at least that I’m aware of. I’m far from being an expert when it comes to dating, as these things go, but we’re seeing enough of each other on a regular basis that the term ‘dating’ seems to pale a little. Calling her my 'date' seems too… casual? I don’t know; like I said, I’m no expert.

What I do know is that I’m happier( and thus far less stressed )than I’ve been in many, many years. Possibly decades. All this from being who I am now, without compromising who I was before… it boggles the mind, in a way, but it shouldn’t: I made it here, to today.

I’m just me, and someone I like also likes me for that. A lot. Cue happy.

June 9 – It’s Time!

Guess what arrived in the mail today?

My new colour smartwatch: the Pebble Time!

It’s the upgrade from the monochrome Pebble watch I purchased from a friend last year, one of the most versatile and useful tech gadgets I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. From checking notifications to playing music to keeping tabs on the weather, the Pebble watch does it all.

The new Pebble Time does all that plus much more – all in colour, no less!

It’s no mean feat, either: colour e-ink displays aren’t common right now and the Pebble Time’s use of this low-power display means its battery can last an incredible 7 days on average. That’s seven times longer than the Apple Smartwatch or the Moto 360, both of which also cost significantly more.

I’ll skip ahead to my first impressions from using the watch all this week. In fact, I haven’t taken it off since I got it, as Pebble watches are completely waterproof! It’s been a revelation to have the device strapped to my wrist 24/7 and apart from the occasional removal for cleaning or such, having instant access to info without needing to use my phone or PC has been quite freeing.

The Pebble Time is much more powerful than the first Pebble( naturally )so there’s far more flexibility in terms of how many Pebble Apps can be loaded on the phone, not to mention the speed of selecting items and the sheer ease of use in getting to the info you want. Plus, it just looks good, with customizable watchfaces like TreK V3 which gives me weather and battery info both.

Really, the only thing that's not quite up to my expectations is the visibility of the display indoors. As other Pebble Time users have noted, the display is hard to read in dim lighting as it uses trans-reflective technology which performs brilliantly outside in the sunlight but isn't so great when local ambient light is lacking. This can be easily remedied with a few software tweaks, which hopefully will happen in the next month or two to allow better control of the backlight.

Overall I'm incredibly pleased with my Pebble Time: it's everything I need in a smart watch without any excessively bloated features that I won't use.

Plus: Night Sailing!

My lady and I went out for a few hours at dusk to sail the Haulin’ Trawler on the yacht pond, mosquitoes be damned. We’d rigged up the boat with a couple more lights than it came with: one to illuminate the deck and the other to light the way across the water. I think it turned out great:

That's a 1.5-ft model, isn't she a beauty?

June 10 – Choose the Nerdiest!

Which is nerdier: Star Wars or Star Trek?

While I’ve never really wondered about it myself, other people obviously have… and in numbers enough that there’s now a hilarious animated video about it:

I love this kind of thing, if only because it takes a lot of dedicated work and skill to create an animate video like this one. I also appreciate the small touches in the video, like Riker’s antics in the background which serve to lighten up the debate… and are also quite in character, too.

G33ks and nerds: strange bedfellows, but we’re all passionate about similar things.

June 11 – ReBoot!

I can’t believe that it’s happening, at last!

One of my all-time favorite shows, ReBoot, is returning to the small screen in 2016. For those of you not familiar with the show, it was the first computer animated television show ever made and was created right here in Canada in Vancouver by MainFrame( now Rainmaker )Studios.

ReBoot posited the question: What would life be like inside a computer system?

The result was a gorgeous CGI-animated show that for the first two seasons was fairly mainstream kids fare: fun to watch, with lively characters and bright colours made of sharp-looking pixels.

The third season however was something entirely new and far, far more interesting. The Hero’s Journey was prominent in the show's plot as it followed a ragtag group of comrades trying to get themselves home to save their friends and possibly the entire global computer network in the process. It was a stunning achievement and it's still fantastic to watch to this day.

The new series( Called ReBoot: The Guardian Code )will focus on four teenage friends and their adventures in battling evil. You can read more about the premise HERE, which although doesn't appeal to me is much as the first show, will still be something I will gladly watch, as it’s been promised to be firmly set in the roots of the original show with some of the same characters making appearances at various points. Seeing as the new series will be produced by RainMaker Studios, I have every confidence that they will stay is true to the original vision as possible while giving us something new and exciting.

“I come from the Net…” *cheers!*

June 12 – Feeding is Fantastic!

My writing group keeps getting better and better.

No, seriously: every presentation I've done for the last few months has been better than the last and tonight's was perhaps the best I've ever done.

The topic: Feeding The Muse or, in other words: staying inspired.

Now, I’m not one for needing validation in everything I do; I learned that way back in university, which to me seems a little late, but I’m glad I did. I’m co-running the writing group to assist other writers, so that we can all learn about our craft and spread the good word, so to speak.

Thankfully, the word is excellent nowadays when it comes to my presentations. The fact makes me most cheerful, in knowing that the research I’m doing is helping people become better writers. Tonight’s comments certainly made that evident, the greatest number of positive postings that any of our group’s meetings have had to date:

It’s wonderful to know that I’m on the right track with my presentations, that the work I’m doing is having positive results with my peers. It really helps me with my own work, too, as I can look at the advice I’m creating and compiling with the perspective of other writers weighing in as well.

Write on!

June 13 – Smashing!

Another great weekend started today!

I spent the first part of the day with my lady, which was great! We’re really hitting it off and both of us are looking to spend our upcoming weekends together, as much as possible, with a break here and there to actually get things done, since we both work during the week.

I have to say, weekends have quickly become my favorite thing about this summer.

Fortunately, there's a ton of things to do in and around Victoria. Plans to visit Butchart Gardens, attend concerts and many other things will certainly keep us busy throughout the warm summer months. As neither of us are heavily outdoor oriented, we'll be sure to pack the sunscreen.

In the evening, I had a few friends over along with my lady and the five of us played SmashUp! We added an expansion pack( The SciFi Double Feature! )which brought even more unusual combinations to the game. As we had five players, it took longer then we first thought it might and after a few hours read only managed to fit in one game, however my lovely lady won with some shrewd moves – extremely impressive as it was her first time playing!

Having a local group of friends who are all interested in boardgaming makes me smile; I thought I’d left all that behind years ago in high school. The resurgence in recent years of the hobby, with multiple stores here in Victoria and a thriving boardgame-loving community, gives me hope that game nights might become a fixture of my future, once I get my time needs sorted out between dating and writing and the myriad other demands on my non-day-job, non-sleeping schedules.

I’ll get it figured out. In the meantime, I’m eager for the next game night!

June 14 – I have the Nostalgia!

I swear, I’ve been smiling all this week, but for good reason.

From spending time with my lovely lady-date, to good news about shows I loved coming back, it’s been just win-win all over the place. As a bonus, I’m on my first actual paid VACATION for the first time in years( since summer 2011 )and as I mentioned a few months ago I’ll be doing a staycation here in Victoria – I have a second novel to complete and this is as good an opportunity to make significant headway as any I’ll get this year.

One area I'm not making any headway in is with my videogame collection and this weekend isn't helping: the Steam Summer Sale has started and I’m trying so hard to be strong…

Actually, so far it hasn’t been all that bad, as I've only picked up two games( Gauntlet and Toy Soldiers: Complete )for about $10.00 in total costs. While I hope to play Gauntlet with some friends in the future( it’s a quick, simple and fun co-op online game )it’s Toy Soldiers that I’m really interested in… not because of what's in the game now, but what's coming later this summer.

There’s an expansion pack( downloadable content )that's going to include several toy licenses that I've never heard of being directly added to any videogame until now. In Toy Soldiers, you can play as any one of many different ‘armies’ such as the standard Allies or Axis from WWI, or one of several other unique armies with different units and abilities for each.

Toy Soldiers: War Chest will add four more armies utilizing toys from my childhood: Masters Of The Universe and G.I. Joe will be licensed for use in the videogame. Players will be able to utilize units from these franchises in the game, allowing one's inner child to live again by letting the toys fight on the screen just as they did in your imagination on your living room floor when we were young.

Glorious. I can hardly wait… and in the meantime, I’ll have to figure out how to repair my main gaming PC so that they can actually play games again instead of just letting me use it for web surfing and e-mail.

It’s been another wonderful week. Between spending time with my lady, nostalgic news and going on vacation, I’m practically a puddle of peaceful smiles. Diving into some serious writing time this week on my second novel will be icing on the cake, so to speak. See you next week!