Posts Tagged project dave

Qs, As and an S + R

I thought I’d spend a post elucidating my thoughts on this Game Table idea by answering/responding to friends who posted about it on my blog and FB!  Here we go!

Q: Have you seen the GeekChic tables?  They are cool / incorporate a lot of interesting ideas.
A: Yes, I have seen them.  Or rather, I knew of them and I had browsed their website once upon a time.  I don’t think I will be getting one of theirs, because two of the reasons I find this project compelling is the chance to build something myself and to have it be my design.  I do think I will review them, though, and possibly go check one out (at PAAAX?), to get ideas.

Q: How many people would you like to seat?
A: Ideally, a complement of 7 (6 + me) because I find that to be the maximum size of gaming group I am comfortable with.  I think it should have reasonably optimzed seating for 4 and 6 as well.

Q: When you say “cubbyholes” do you mean places below the tabletop surface, like indented or would you like to be able to place sheet holders in certain places that rotate/slide up and down?
A: I guess I mean places below the tabletop surface, indented.  Ideally, I would like some amount of display potential so that a player could raise up an illustration or visual aid in their space and others could see it, but most of the time (maybe all of the time) I would want that space below the table.

Q: LCD mounted flat facing up? or movable so it rotates around?
A: My initial thoughts were mounted flat facing up.  I want it to be a map on which miniatures can be placed, or a digital game board for board games, as needed.

Q: Drink holders that slide out of the bottom so spills are contained or hit the floor instead of the table?
A: Yes, that sounds like a great idea!  But in practice, I expect players will just place their drinks at table level, so I may also try to investigate solutions that involve having them spills-contained on that surface.

Q: How many in-progress games do you want to store?
A: Good question – probably no more than three?  Two is more likely, with a third on the actual table surface.

Q: Before you get too ambitious, exactly how much experience with furniture building do you have? And are your power tools up to speed?
A: Too late for that, heh!  But no, I have no experience with furniture building at all!  I am, however, naive, intelligent and somewhat patient.  I expect to be able to learn, and will budget time and resources to trial and error as well.  I don’t have any power tools other than a drill, so obviously that would be part of the project and would need to be carefully considered.

S: Tim has been dreaming about an LCD tabletop that can plug into an iPad for the DM and connect to each player via iPhones.
R: Tim is a genius!  I’ll have to consider this, and possibly *ahem* reacquire certain Apple technologies for the purposes of testing. >_>

Special thanks to Alan, Monty, Dylan, Sean and Molly for the feedback and questions!

Next up – some basic project outline stuff, so that I get it from head to (digital) paper.

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Game On

While I was in California, I was noodling on a sort of hobby project I could use to get my brain and hands working on non-work stuff, and what I came up with was a game table.  I want to design, construct and use a game table for hosting gaming at my place.  Here are some of the features I brainstormed in a short amount of time:

  • “Character Sheet Cubbyholes” – plus a larger one with a built-in divider/screen for a GM seat
  • Removeable tops for storing in-progress board games
  • An LCD integrated with the top-below-the-removeable-top that has a display-in port for hooking up a laptop to project a map
  • Built-in drink holders (with some sort of anti-spill screen?)

I intend to make this my project this year, once I am settled into my new place fully… so probably design thoughts in late April, begin in late May?

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Sometimes I get an idea in my head, and it screams to be free and in the world.  This isn’t as easy as it might appear, as some ideas are not satisfied with being spoken – they must be made real in the form my imagination fits to them.  In this case, I had an inkling of an idea when I found out my new HTC Evo phone (which is awesome, btw) could be a wireless access point.  What if I could host an application on my phone, where there was no Internet?  “No Internet?” you scoff. “Where exactly is that going to apply?”

On the Magic Cruise, that’s where.

I have been developing a local-area-network version of Facebook (*much* reduced in capability) for use on this cruise a bunch of nerd-friends of mine are taking next week.  I call it Faceboat.  Faceboat will do a few things for us that may or may not be useful:

  • We can check-in from various parts of the boat, in case anyone was wondering where to find us
  • We can set up rendezvous plans without needing to be in exactly the same place at the time of the plan
  • We can put our room # up, available to friends, for reference

I’ll be honest – it was fun to release the creative desires that led to the imagined reality of Faceboat, but we may find it is completely unnecessary once we embark on the cruise.  Still, totally fun to do!

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#8: Moonlighter

I have in the past dabbled with the idea of starting up some sort of company entity where I can do the kind of work I enjoy as “side projects” for fun and profit in a larger scope.  But a question I have not really answered well enough is: am I comfortable doing this while employed by Wizards, in a job I enjoy?  The answer to this question lies in doing some research – research into Wizards’ actual policies with respect to moonlighting and getting a sense of what’s acceptable and what’s risky (and therefore off the table while I work there).

I have had tiny conversations about this with various folk at work before, but I haven’t approached this question like a problem to be solved in an organized methodical way.  Since I am still interested in trying my hand at some independent work (for a while in 2008 I was considering how I might use my bonus to take time off from work and do my own thing, for example), I think investigating the policies at Wizards might be a good way to (a) cover my butt and (b) light a fire in my mind again about starting up a project of this nature.

8. I resolve to fully understand the policies at work about working on the side, and then form a top-level plan for how I might do side project work under that arrangement for profit.

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#5: Get Up, Meet Up

I am struggling with finishing a game system I have been working on, for use in the (now very late) gift of an RPG mini-campaign based in Sanderson’s Mistborn universe.  So, although I do have some resolutions to make about games, I’ll wait a bit on my general malaise to lift, probably while I am on vacation late next week.  For now, I want to talk about meetups.  Or more specifically, Meetup. is a website that is almost too awesome for me to use.  You see, there are tons of things I wish I could do (play the guitar, hike trails, go on adventures, play games with more people, meet singles, learn about nearly every subject, etc. etc.) and Meetup might just have a group for all of them… which means that there’s so much possibility there for self-improvement that I am overwhelmed and just don’t do anything.  Clearly not the correct thing to do!  So, I’m resolving to do something with Meetup (and meetups) next year, in the hopes that it’ll be a great way to “audit” new people and new activities without needing a lot of money (e.g. formal classes) or a ton of organization (i.e. somebody else is doing the org).

5. I resolve to use to find three activities to join in a month, go to at least one meeting for each, and write about them.

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I have been working on translating an old project (Breeze) into a new form, and I am finding it an interesting exercise in unconscious tradeoffs.  The quality of reusability – that someone (possibly yourself) will later come and repurpose what you have done, thus you make it easy to reuse – has a peculiar property that it usually is at odds with project priority.  It’s most useful in an extremely long-term view that wants to make things better for everyone at the cost of some progress now – and classically, that’s exactly the view that gets ditched right away when a project is under pressure to be completed or presentable in a certain timeframe.

In the context of this present project, I know I was pushing myself to finish the old Breeze in a timely manner, not just because I had a wonderful picture in my head and wanted to see it realized, but because there’s only so many hours in the day and attention span to give, so completing the project faster was key.  Who has time to worry about the future when the present is so pressing?  But that’s the very conundrum posed by reusability – how much effort do you want to take now so that later problems won’t be multiplied?

I’ve found, time and time again, that when I revisit an old project of mine, I wish I would have spent more time making it reusable.  Is this a lesson only learned through experience?  Intelligent folk can see the issue down the line, knowing that later someone will pay the costs incurred by us today, but it takes quite a lot to choose an unknowable future of lessened hardship over the immediately realizable work of the now.  I admire and respect those who can perfectly balance the good of the future and their successors with their own efficiency now, but I find it very hard to do so on my own (especially when there are real pressures to get things done fast in the present).

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It is somehow not surprising that as soon as I accept a non-programming job, I have an urge to program again (recreationally)!  It might be that I’ve been hanging out a lot at home with these beagles, beaglesitting as it were, and it might be that writing up a bunch of documentation on my old job has made me more interested in doing something.

Breeze is a project I took on back when I worked for Skilljam – it’s essentially a draft simulator for Magic, pick by email, for the drafting part (not the playing part).  I created it because I always wanted to get drafts together but getting lots of people all in the same place (especially specific friends in the same place) for a few hours, to play Magic and to not do anything else… well, it was difficult back before I worked for Wizards!  It was also just the right scope for a hobby project – finite, well-defined, data-driven but not too dynamic.  So I created Breeze, and it worked for a while, and then I stopped maintaining it.

So, like all good (bad) programmers, I am recreating it using more modern technologies rather than fix the old one.  I am also interested in using it to create Cubes, which is like a personal (sometimes themed) box of cards from which to draft, rather than specific booster packs.  We’ll see how it goes – I got through a good chunk of it this weekend, but there’s plenty more to go!

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Projects and Priority

I know I should try to keep on theme, but I am also unwilling to force myself to write on something I don’t want to write about right now.  So, instead of progressing on that particular axis, how about some thought about other (minor) projects I’d like to do or am already working on?

  • social game called Monkey Business, which I am kind of architecting in my head and which I’d like to start implementing
  • 100 pushups, a cute app Monty showed me, that is training me up to do 100 pushups in one go – I’m on my way!
  • house rearrangement – need to buy a couch and a table, and make the guest bedroom livable before Debbie arrives next month
  • organize outings and trips with friends more often! (karaoke, Great Wolf Lodge?, Vegas?)
  • a couple other website ideas floating around in my head (Magic-related and non-Magic-related)
  • acquiring Physics books to start bootstrapping my way back to intelligent scientist (might be a while!)

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Physics Practice

Mike and I had a little laugh about how I’ll need to make the last week of this month “Project Dave Blitz Week” in order to make any progress on my stated month theme!  Which may actually happen, we’ll see.  In the meantime, I’ve decided I want to do something physics-y… that is, relearn a lot of the physics I have forgotten through disuse, and teach myself enough to really teach others.

I looked through some of the texts I still have from college, and they are kind of beyond my ability to grok at this stage.  I think what I really need to do is plot a plan using a GRE study guide or something – many of the classes I remember taking did not follow the texts linearly (if at all!)  I browsed some books online, but I think I will probably want to go to a university-type book store to find what I want.  Although… maybe e-books are a way to go, as another reasonable way to utilize my iPad?

I really enjoy helping people understand crazy things about physics, and I feel bad when I feel like I *should* remember how something works, but I don’t.  This happened at work with a few conversations about relativity and quantum mechanics (not that I had the strongest intuitive grasp of them back in the day, either!) and I’d love to maybe be involved in a, I don’t know, study group or book group style gathering that was like an exploration of concepts in physics weekly/monthly.

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Back to Plan: Project Dave Style

The busy-ness at work continues, and I don’t see an end in sight yet, but we’ll see — at least (maybe) there will be a weekend in the future!

I got one of the emails sent by my past self – a clever, sneaky guy, Past Dave – that was reminding me of my vow to practice the guitar.  Wait, what vow?  Well, you see, I got a guitar in 2006 and since then I have had a system (43things, to be exact) reminding me every once in a while that I committed to practicing the guitar.  Have I been doing so?  No, I have not.  Sort of a shame, I liked strumming and singing along with the starts of songs I liked.  I haven’t really had the energy to get a schedule going on that.  Mick told me once the easiest way to get myself into doing it is to get a guitar stand so that it’s just sitting out there, waiting for me when I get home.  I may go searching for said stand this weekend.

Back to the plan, though, of getting some project going this month.  I’ve already basically used up a third of it, but a lot of that was work crushing me.  I have basically decided that a self-improvement activity alone is no good – I want to be able to have something (other than my improved skills) to show for my effort at the end of the month.  Rather than enumerate the things I could do, I decided I would write up the goals for my activity and then apply those goals to finding a good solution:

  • I want to do something active; as in, not just sitting at a computer (I do that all the time anyway!)
  • I want to have something to show for my effort.
  • I want to do something that can benefit more than just me.
  • I want to work on something that necessitates a routine, since I need more routine in my life. (Seriously!)

Hmmm… a construction project (of some sort) might be the way to go, actually.

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