New Project!

For Christmas Kami got me the first piece of my new project, a barrel for an AR-15. My long-time friend from High School (Marc) recently moved to Walla Walla, WA. We spent New Years with he and his family and had a really great time. We looked at a ton of options and items for the build. I’ve made a tentative list of parts with links to the sites. I’m pretty excited.

This week I received the lower receiver that I picked. It’s interesting because it is almost completely made from a polymer (super strong plastic). Here’s a picture of what I have so far. Marc got me the magazine and a box of ammo. Yeah!!


Windows 8

I installed Windows 8 on my Virtual Machine today. I really wish I could learn the reasoning behind the new interface. Granted I’ve only been really using it for a couple of hours or so but they have worked really hard to limit productivity. So far the 2 biggest things are a missing task bar and the different desktop environments.

First, I need a task bar to quickly switch between tasks. I can alt-tab or window-tab but I don’t have a readily available task bar that I can just click the application of my choice. I multi-task a lot. I have 7 applications running right now and that’s a few less than normal.

Second and this has been the most irritating. Microsoft added the Metro interface as the primary interaction interface. Most of my programs don’t interface with that though so I have to use the desktop side and it has to do this weird switching back and forth. It’s kinda hard to explain. The worst part of the whole thing I noticed with Google Chrome. This is my primary browser. There was indeed a way to install from the store so I got it in the Metro interface. It’s integrated so it fits with that pretty well. I got it synced up so it had my theme, bookmarks, add-ins and what not. Then I was in the “Desktop” with another application and needed my browser. So I clicked chrome and it launched a new instance that was completely disconnected from the earlier one. No sync setup, no bookmarks, nothing. It was as if I hadn’t run the program before.

This is the worst version of Windows yet. I haven’t been this frustrated with software in a long time.

D&D Next Playtest 1

I recently had the opportunity, like many others, to play test the next iteration of Dungeons and Dragons. (D&D Next) It was a good experience overall. Our biggest hurdles were from incomplete information. The system is designed to be much more flexible than the current version (4E). I think the strict rules make for some interesting combat but tend to stifle some of the creativity. Maybe there is a balance point.

I should probably mention that I play D&D quite a bit and I really like the balance of 4E. All of the character classes have cool abilities and powers. In the playtest I ran the halfling rogue. I felt like a sidekick as I didn’t have any cool things I could do. I could attack with either of my weapons but there isn’t anything special about that. I could get a sneak attack if I had “Advantage” but that was one of those open ended rules that we weren’t sure how to work it.

The spell casting was reminiscent of 3.5. You prepare a few spells at the beginning of the day and that’s what you get. It was nice to have a few attack spells that were at-will. I’d be interested in seeing something like the mana systems we see in other games. You have a certain amount of magic points, each spell takes a certain amount of those points away.

It seems that the new rules put a lot more responsibility on the DM to make rulings on things. It will take a shift in mindset from a strict adherence to rules to an open ended do what you want experience and let the DM figure out what check to make.

The pregenerated characters had some conflicting stats. We weren’t sure how some of the calculations were made but we just played with what we were given. We spent a significant amount of time scouring the documents to find the rules but were unable to figure it out.

In essence the experience was decent. We were able to have a small skirmish. No one died and we were able to use spells and special abilities. Everyone appeared to be pretty well balanced. I think I’ll miss the powers of the mundane classes but I think the openness of the combat has potential. Specifically the “Advantage/Disadvantage” rules are intriguing. I’d really like some clarification or additional examples of how they should be used. I think a lot of the strategy will be lost in the combat with the open rules.