Phone Envy

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


I enjoy having the latest and greatest technology. Despite that, I am only on my fourth smartphone ever. I started late with a Motorola Razr (the smartphone brand revival, though I also had the original flip phone). Later I moved onto an HTC phone and then a Nexus 6P and finally, my current phone, the Google Pixel XL.

It took a lot for me to hold off on upgrading the Pixel XL again after only one year. I love my phone but the urge is strong. That urge is even stronger now. The battery isn’t what it once was and it is starting to feel a little sluggish. Plus, its biggest selling point to me right now is that I love USB-C and everything else has that!

I was holding off for a Pixel 3. I love Google’s hardware, especially my Pixelbook Chromebook. And then the dreaded notch reared its ugly head.

I do not know where you come down on the “notch” debate in smartphones. Essentially, its a cutout at the top of the phone to hold necessary electronics, but since we want edge-to-edge displays, phones like the iPhone X are adopting notches that extend into the screen itself.

I was not firmly against at first. I don’t much mind the idea, especially since on Android I rarely use the very middle of the notification bar. The rumors that the Pixel 3 would have a notch did not deter my hype train, at least not until I saw it was so big that the notifications at the top of the phone actually have to be centered due to the added vertical space.

I could go with the smaller Pixel 3, but I value a larger display since I mostly use my phone for reading and I prefer the larger battery that often accompanies bigger phones.

Pixel 3 XL firmly out of the running, I am left with … not much else. I refuse to buy an iPhone and I am limited to Verizon, so something as romantic as a OnePlus isn’t in my reach. The Galaxy Note 9 looks very promising, but if I hold off until December like I should, I will only be a few months more away from the Galaxy 10 which should have some actual forward-thinking design.

I could also just not upgrade and get over my phone hype. That won’t happen, but I thought it prudent to admit that as an option. At this point, I am not sure what I will do! I hate phone envy and these incremental upgrades. I also hate that Google has squandered all of my interest in the Pixel line from day one when derivative design and no real intent to be anything beyond a marketing campaign.

I will probably buy a Note 9 as soon as I see a decent sell …

Overcooked 2: Session 1

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


Overcooked was a huge hit in our household. When we finished our first D&D campaign, it became the de facto weekend time waster for our fearsome foursome. Over the course of several sessions, we managed to get all stars possible in the game and finish off all of the trophies on Playstation 4.

Now that Overcooked 2 is out and we’ve completed our first evening of frantically bumping into one another with raw food, what is the impression thus far?

 

Overall, after going through the first two worlds, Overcooked 2 is a blast. It seems easier than the first, but it also looks like they adjusted scoring and speed so it is a faster game overall.

The story this time involves the un-bread recently risen from the dead and their impending overrun of the Onion Kingdom. It is adorable, especially with Kevin, the king’s right-hand dog.

There are some concerns though. Given the increase in speed, most every level thus far has involved multiple steps. That’s a good thing but it can be a little maddening to understand the icons at time. When every single space has an item or a fellow player keeps throwing raw ingredients on the floor, Overcooked 2 quickly dips into visual overload.

Still, we had a blast in our first evening. Overcooked 2 is more of the same but more. That’s exactly what we wanted too! I look forward to playing more and writing a full review in the future.

“Use This List”

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


The Ancient Gaming Noob has a post up today breaking down all things RSS. I agree with his opinions.

In particular, I agree with using something like Feedly. Ever since Feedly first hit the app store back before I was an Android fanboy and owned at least one Apple product, I have been obsessed with using it. Feedly is my daily driver for all things from my favorite sites.

I especially like Feedly (or some of the other options he outlines in his post) for keeping track of blogs. With so many great ones to read, it can be hard to keep track of when new content comes out. Sure, you can follow your favorite writers on Twitter (and you should), but Twitter never stops and unless you maintain your organization, you may miss some great content.

I recommend checking out The Ancient Gaming Noob’s post from today. It also points out his extensive lists of all the blogs our in our loose knit online community that are worth checking out!

NPR’s 200 Greatest Songs By 21st Century Women

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


Less time to write a complete post today, so I thought I would share a link instead.

Late last month, NPR Music posted a top 200 list of women performers from the last 18 years. As always from NPR Music, they have great taste. I am stunned by the number of songs and artists I had never heard of but am so grateful to be exposed to now.

I haven’t finished reviewing it all yet, but check it out and let me know if you find anything new to add to your playlist!

Roleplaying An Alien in D&D

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


I enjoy imagining new D&D characters to try. Recently, I have wanted to try the Horizon Walker subclass for the Ranger in 5th Edition’s Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. I have always loved the planes, so multiverse Legolas sounds fantastic.

From the guide:

Horizon Walkers guard the world against threats that originate from other planes or that seek to ravage the mortal realm with otherworldly magic. They seek out planar portals and keep watch over them, venturing to the Inner Planes and the Outer Planes as needed to pursue their foes. These rangers are also friends to any forces in the multiverse — especially benevolent dragons, fey, and elementals — that work to preserve life and the order of the planes.

We aren’t starting a plane-based campaign anytime soon, so all the characters I have been thinking of lately have to have local reasons for taking local actions. However, that does not mean they have to be local characters.

I am imagining a faction of Horizon Walkers that operate primarily in the planes themselves, only visiting mortal realms to infiltrate various cults before they can open up portals or rifts. Sort of like a team of Doctor Whos or time cops, though maybe with a bit of Guardians of the Galaxy thrown in to the mix too.

Our next campaign will take place in the Forgotten Realms, but I thought this faction would be a wonderful excuse to play a Changeling, a race native and limited to the Eberron setting, in the Forgotten Realms. Changelings are known for having to the ability to change their appearance to other humanoids and their base form looks like a fantasy version of a stereotypical science fiction alien.

At an early age, this faction (I am calling them the Greeters until I think of something else), stopped a breach in Eberron, found an orphaned Changeling, and thought they could train him up to be their master spy for infiltrating cults on other worlds.

Unfortunately, despite having an amazing ability to mimic others, my Changeling is terrible at roleplaying. Unless given an exact script, he doesn’t do well with improving his way through a cult to actually function as a spy.

Still, he is a decent soldier.

He was recently left abandoned in the Forgotten Realms along with another rookie to infiltrate a cult. It was intended to be a training exercise for the two younger members. Unfortunately, it goes south quickly and he ends up losing his partner and is limited/too rage blind to find a way to inform or request the assistance of the other Greeters still off-world.*

*This origin is subject to revision depending on campaign specific details.

Stuck in a world he barely knows or understands, he is about as alien as it is possible to be in a fantasy setting. Better yet, people do not believe he is an alien since his strange appearance, strange customs, and strange knowledge seem acceptable in a world filled with so much magic and mystery already.

It plays loose and fast with D&D metaphysics and is a bit meta (I am not that great at roleplaying either), but there are a lot of great alien tropes in science fiction that I think would be enjoyable to adapt to a strictly fantasy setting, especially when you are unique yet cannot convince anyone else of that fact.

If I do end up playing this character, then maybe I could do a series of “Mission Log” blog posts summarizing our adventures!

AMA

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


I am a little at a loss for words today. It has been a stressful week and I have an interview tomorrow.

Instead of forcing a post I later regret, feel free to use this opportunity to ask me any questions. Do you have a follow-up thought to something I tweeted or wrote? Something else you have always wanted to ask?

I will do my best to reply as soon as possible!

Massive Nostalgia Vol. 167: Downtime

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


Since I deleted most of my old content, I am starting in media res with my volume numbering here. You have not missed volumes 1-166.

I remember in the third grade (ages 8-9 for non-Americans), we had a pen pal project. Now, I recall nothing about whom my pen pal was nor do I have any way of proving that a small southern town had contacts anywhere abroad, but these are the truths my mind has decided are facts.

I do recall it being a profound experience to realize that I could send a letter across the world and receive something back in a relatively short time. It was a moment that simultaneously made the world smaller and larger for my impressionable mind.

Similarly, I remember playing Ultima Online a few years later and marveling at how I could play with people all over the world inside a video game. Of course, with Ultima Online, you had to meet in person in-game to speak since there were no /tell or /whisper commands. There was a magic in-game telephone but it was rarely convenient.

Playing MMOs in the last several years and especially World of Warcraft in the last several weeks, I miss having the downtime to just talk to strangers. Sure, it caused me anxiety to talk to people online and not everyone was nice or worth talking to, but I made some really cool in-game friends that way.

Like pen pals and mailing letters, the notion of downtime itself seems quaint. Why force players to wait? Why give them nothing more to do than to talk to one another anymore? Instead, give them queues and quests and quick generating resources and graveyards with minimal walking and the list goes on.

It is probably for the better that we have less downtime. I don’t have to wait for a rarespawn to pop or waste most of my free time finding a group. Still, I miss the slower pace and the thought/time I could put into just occupying a digital space with others. I miss being amazed that my handwriting and my little piece of paper could make it around the world and back again too.

I refuse to say things were better or that we need to go back. That’s just an old man (in MMORPG years, at least) yelling about the good ole days.

But like so many old men, I am allowed to miss my youth where things were better and wish I could go back to those days one more time.

Sometimes it is easier to embrace the contradictions in life rather than choose between something you feel is objectively true and something you feel is subjectively true.

Let me grab a cane …

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