Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summer Reading List

It's started already. The summer reading list is coming together. Neither book is in my usual comfort zone, but each is especially compelling.

First up, Josef Ferri's Trying to Catch the Wind. December of last year, I started working at a West Side school and ran into Mr. Ferri teaching at our school. His autobiographical story launches right in the middle of Buffalo's Westside, in the height of the 60's. Mr. Ferri's work is an atypical love story with humble beginnings and is driven across the county during one of the most tumultuous eras in American history.

Mr. Ferri advises: "If people open their hearts, a new love is possible."

Having spend weeks in his graceful presence, I know that he lives these words, daily. It's more than a quote, they are words he lives by.

My second choice was selected in that open heart and mind advice. Esmeralda Santiago's Cuando Era Puertorriqueña is another autobiographical story of change and tension.

Again, we are taken back to the 1960's, this time lead by a young Puerto Rican woman and her family transplanted from the island to New York City.

I could have purchased this item in English, but I wanted to share the love of reading and literature with students at my school. The text and language is crisp and the learning experience is wonderful. I may struggle at times, but so far it has been well worth the difficulty.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Stupid Linux Tips - Disable Touchscreen Temporally

I have a touchscreen that needs a good wipe down. Touch screens are annoying when dirty and you only have three options:

1) Wipe it down and hope you don't click something stupid.
2) Turn off the computer.
3) Disable the touchscreen.

I want item three, but there seems to be no Unity control panel for the touchscreen. I couldn't find one so I opened the Swiss army terminal and typed xinput.


Reading down the list is simple enough, id=13 is my touchscreen.

The command is xinput disable 13 or whatever number you need. Turning it back on is just as simple with xinput enable 13.


Obviously, I am not the best Linux user, but I like to share tidbits that make things easier.

Now clean that monitor.

Quickly lookup Ubuntu info

Ubuntu is nicely consistent. So consistent that often you can't tell what version you have just by looking.

Two commands in Terminal can grab that info for you:

lsb_release -a

uname -r


Settings and Details does the exact same thing, in a prettier form.


Monday, June 20, 2016

#MechaMonday

I saw some posts for #MiniatureMonday and decided to share a few of my own. Obviously, I like mecha. 



Thunder

I love thunderstorms at night. It's the only time you can smell dust and water, flowers and lightning at the same time against a noble van Gogh blue and white sky.


Friday, June 3, 2016

Module Review - BSOLO Ghost of Lion Castle

Title: Ghost of Lion Castle
Code: BSOLO
Author: Merle M. Rasmussen
Rule Set: D&D
Year: 1984
Pages: 32
Number of characters: 1 - Solo Play
Levels: 1-3
Rating: ★★★★★

This is an impressive and iconic module, meant for one player. Crammed into just 32 pages is a solo adventure complete with special solo rules and sample characters. Lion Castle is a wonderful starter scenario for groups or an introductory game for just one.

The five star rating is for the expansive and creative writing and world-building that appears in this module. Lion Castle gives the player the ability to try out new things in a limited setting. The module pulls no punches, this place will kill you more often than not. Fear not, this module is also there every time you wish to play. In fact, it is suggested that you note where your last character died so that the next one can acquire his equipment.

This is one flaw in the game/scenario. If you run a series of character’s through the Castle and noted where the prior characters fell, you can break the game with equipment and magic items in quantities not ordinarily allowed by the rules.

All and all, this is an excellent module.

Where to Buy:
DrivethruRPG

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Module Review - S2 White Plume Mountain

Title: White Plume Mountain
Code: S2
Author: Lawrence Schick
Rule Set: D&D
Year: 1979
Pages: 16
Number of characters: 4-10
Levels: 5-10
Rating: ★★★★☆

White Plume Mountain is part of the Special series. It is meant for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and expects a large number of characters at relatively high level. Interestingly enough, the scenario spells out that many adventures into the dungeon will be required and may cause a rotation of adventurers through many sessions. That is a nice touch. I like the long term play and replay-ability.

This style of play is engrossing as early failures and setbacks to the player characters are muted by the ability to retreat to complete safety of the nearby town. This is very different than most dungeon crawls, where characters must horde limited resources. Instead, players find themselves on a quest to obtain 3 magical items: Wave, Blackrazor and Whelm, protected by powerful masters and inventive puzzles and challenges. Backtracking enables inspired progress, resupply and fairly realistic game play. This adventure takes the learning curve for games and makes it a positive. White Plume Mountain is more like The Moonshot than D-Day.

This module also features wonderful artwork. My personal favorite is the fighter on page 6. It isn’t the best, but captures the character's reaction so perfectly. The fighter’s “WTF” look is classic: “Who jumps platform to platform over hellishly hot mud? Everything in fighter school trained me not to do this.” The images for Blackrazor, the Mountain itself and Keraptis are iconic of classic Dungeons and Dragons.

Where to Buy:
DriveThru RPG
As a part of a set, S1-4. or as a stand alone product. I really must by this. I really need to stop impulse buying. I'm am so gonna buy this.
DriveThru RPG also has Dungeon Tiles and a new version for 3.5 Adventures.