Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Blade's Worth - Part 2.

Confusion crippled Darryn as surely as if he was bound in heavy chains leaving him frozen. The world around him seemed to stop, even sound became silence, as a figure who was barely more than a fleeting form in the gloom darted past. And just as suddenly, a single image released Darryn - stumbling out of the alley was a man, clad in the red uniform jacket of the local delivery workers, clutching at his left shoulder. As he watched, the wounded worker desperately renewed his effort to escape despite dripping blood.

Delivery crews always operated in pairs, everyone knew that, but Darryn had only witnessed one half of such a team. The more pressing thought though was why had he even just witnessed anyone at all, no one was supposed to even be around. The target was a shipment already dropped off, or so he had been told. This whole thing was quickly putting a bad feeling in his stomach coupled with a less than appealing taste in his mouth.

More shuffling footsteps echoed from behind only to be broken by the hiss of an unleashed bolt of energy that sailed past to collide with the alley's wall. The impact narrowly missed Darryn as he couldn't help but notice it's intended target was already gone. At least he hoped that was the case. 

Catching only part of something said Darryn heard; " - could've knifed 'em," immediately he recognized the harsh and impulsive tone of Maerek. No doubt it had been the same who had just haphazardly been shooting at the already escaped delivery man. "Botched," Maerek continued, "all he had was one job and dream-head can't even pay attention to do that much."

"Come on," interrupted a quieter even toned voice that had to be Terol. "Let's just be off before the patrols are alerted," ever the voice of cold calculations the comment was less of a plea and more of an observed fact. Terol was never known for panicking, nor for needing to sway opinion.  When he spoke everyone listened, and Terol never ever raised his voice. This time was no different, even Maerek's hot head bowed to Terol's point.

"Might as well have waved down the patrol yourself Darr,"he spat. "Scatter," Maerek ordered and as everyone did just that Darryn marked as he added; "this will hang on your head dreamer."

"Guess that trip will have to wait grandfather," Darryn muttered to himself as he made his own way from the alley. He only hoped his grandfather had time enough left to wait for him to make good on his promise. Once more distracted a devilish grin escaped his notice as the bearer contemplated Darryn's words before it too displaced shadows.

Awaiting the patrol at the alley's rear was a dead delivery man, a locked transport, and plenty of questions.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Blade's Worth - Part 1.

This is first part of a little story I'm currently tinkering with set in my Requiem universe. I thought I might share it, even though it is still really rough, so please bear with me and let me know what you think.


The faint hum of an overhead light sphere ceased suddenly, it's lifecycle ended. With a sigh Darryn Nether blew a few stray strands of light brown hair away from brushing his nose. 'What am I doing here he thought' to himself as the shadows of this damp alleyway now found themselves lengthening around him. It had already seemed like hours he had been there, keeping an eye out, and only had witnessed a few whispered conversations from those brave and desperate folks willing to walk the streets this hour to pass by the alley. But without a Mini-Comm, much less a simple chronometer, Darryn had no way of even knowing how long he'd been waiting.

Waiting, it was one of the few things Darryn couldn't stand. And yet here he was, standing in the dark now keeping an eye out while his friends - if you wanted to call them that, snatched up a few cases from a delivery. Normally Darryn would of said no, right off the bat. But seeing as the merchant in question had been cheating customers for years and nobody was going to get hurt, he figured he could take part. Besides, he was never going to be able to save up enough in time any other way it seemed.

Nervous and alone Darryn reached for the only thing of comfort he had, a simple treasure that was his only possession. Passed down to him by his grandfather it was an old steel blade, one that had been forged and reforged by a man's hand. No matter how many times he had been laughed at or told it was a piece of junk, Darryn still couldn't look on it's blue-grey steel with anything less than cherished wonder. It wasn't produced in a factory, made of some new composite metal, nor did it even have a laser honed edge.

Yet, as he drew it from it's makeshift sheath of scrap leather and canvas it's familiar oiled scent always brought back the words of his grandfather to mind. It was just like he was standing beside him, speaking the words for the first time. "Always remember this one simple truth above all others," he had began when he first placed the blade into Darryn's hand. "Mark the worth of the blade just as you would the man who wields it. For the value is not in mere cost, nor is it in it's use as a weapon, but instead as a tool. It is an extension of the hand that wields it, and as such a tool - if it is handled by someone with the patience and understanding to master it, it can accomplish much more. If it is cared for it will remain true, and never fail you. But, if abused, just like someone slighted it will fail you when needed."

Darryn had always marveled at how awkward the blade had seemed, it was different than anything else he had ever seen. It was 16 inches of 3/8th inch thick steel, the blade alone being 10 of those while 1 1/8th wide and ending in a angular tip. To him it was a priceless treasure, a actual piece of his family that he could hold and know those before him had touched as well. And like the childhood tales that fascinated him as a child it made him want to earn the honor of carrying it much like those heroes he dreamt of.

As he slid the naked steel back into place his grip hung on the handle. Strange sounds reached to snatch him from his thoughts, struggling to focus he wrestled to make sense of them. And then the realization hit home; hurried footsteps as they padded through the puddles littering the alley's pavestones.

Puzzled, Darryn Nether had only one question firmly on his mind; what was going on?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dreaming Dreams

After placing my oldest three children on the bus this morning I returned home to find my youngest daughter cranky and defiantly begging for me to rock her. Now, I must of blacked out as she did because when I came to holding her I was myself still gripped in the maddening land of dreams that made no possible sense.

I'll spare you the full dime tour of my wonderland, but let's just say it was a collage of chaos and a hodge-podge of random concepts. One minute I was touring a museum-esqe building with various areas themed to historical and cultural zones. At one part I became separated from my family only briefly to look at the wares of a candy store and when I looked up from a shelf of sweets I saw a small selection of firearms. Firearms, in a candy shop I thought? But when I looked around everything was guns. Quickly I tried to return to my family only to find I was somewhere between the Greek and Turkish areas.

Furthering the strange experience I found my way back to where we were staying only to further panic at the loss of my coat and some items. Animals were everywhere, and at one moment I discovered a black cat hat and sleeved vest where a kid had sneaked in disguised as a cat somehow and escaped with some of my children's things. Oh, and let's not forget Wil Wheaton stopping by to heckle me as I had to try to swing across a monkey-bar type setup.

I cannot begin to convey the impact this dream(s) had on me, I still find myself shaken and literally off balance. Even now as the images blur in my mind the sensation of the experience has me thrown trying to make sense of it. I haven't had such a dream like this, let alone one that I can recall in such detail this long after. It was almost as if I waltzed through the slumbering lands of several others. And why Wil Wheaton mocked me I wish I knew. If I didn't know any better I would almost assume my daughter drugged me.

What dreams may come? Be careful of the questions you ask... You never know what you'll get in answer.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

There Is No Kobyashi Maru.

I was setting watching the Star Trek reboot with my 12 year old son tonight and for a moment, I literally had to question if a stroke was eminent. Now, bear in mind, he's a quite bright young man; he has been making great grades. However, with that said he often displays a unique deficiency when presented with - well, let's just let the evidence speak for itself. And for the record, everyone in our house has seen the movie several times.

Before my son had left for a weekend visit to a friends house I had been tinkering on a computer tower my father-in-law had brought me. The same tower was still setting in my makeshift work-bench area when he returned, and I decided to playfully probe his observational skills. So I asked him: "Guess what?" Call me cliche, call me hopeful, but I actually expected him to guess in response.

"What?" That was the only words to escape his lips as he watched Kirk defeat the unbeatable scenario.
 "Normally, when someone prompts you to guess what, they expect you to - guess, something." I chided him. Dumbfounded he heehawed around before just shrugging and claiming he gave up. This is where it gets interesting.

"You can't give up!" I declared. "Never surrender, there is no Kobyashi Maru, I will not accept any surrender.' Again he continued to claim that he could give up, that as he put it "I alone am allowed to surrender - nobody else can." He then proceeded to inquire who this Kobyashi Maru was anyways, and he had just seen the scene literally seconds ago before his eyes.

The boy went on for twenty minutes or more trying to stumble his way through why Kobyashi Maru seemed familiar but couldn't even come close to the answer even when presented with a flood of point blank clues the least of which(and the first one given) that he had just recently heard it and should therefore be quite familiar. With less than five minutes left before bed I had to plead with him to let that go and tried desperately to redirect him to the original point of inquiry.

And you know what?

He went right back to: "Alright, I was trying to figure out who this Kobyashi Maru is." *facepalm*
Even when I told him to push the power button on the tower as a clue he blinked at me and after several long moments the asked "Oh, does it work?" Unable to resist myself I quipped: "Nope." To my youngest son's credit when I asked him to chime in he looked up to his older sibling and just shook his head and added: "Nope, sure doesn't work. Not at all."

I love my children. But clearly, I may need to educate them about some of the more important life lessons more. Knowledge, without understanding never truly achieves it's worth. 

Sifting Through Fallen Empires.

Ask anyone who has ever played Magic: The Gathering and one inevitable topic will arise more than any other - the set  that is most memorable to each player. For some, it is the set they started with, others it is one that captivated their imagination with it's flavor or mechanics. There are even those who cling to a specific set because it produced their favorite cards etc. Any number of things can cause a set to etch itself upon our memory. For me, one set always comes to mind, and while I can't say with concrete resolve it is my defacto favorite, I can say it is one that always springs to mind with cherished memories. Recently, I gave pause to contemplate just why it has always stood out among all the sets I have ever seen come and go. Shall we dig through the ruins together? Grab a shovel, get your notebook, and mind the dust.

Where to begin? Well, naturally, let us begin at the beginning. Fallen Empires was released in November of 1994, and as I may of already mentioned I was already hooked by 1993. I had only seen the earlier expansions from my cousin's guarded collection. And while some were still in stock at our store demand and supply was enough to keep them just out of grasp. That is until November rolled around and a new set appeared well within my budget. In fact, before long the abundance of Fallen Empires led our local store to sell them at a reduced price, which was something I seized upon.

In hindsight, I can't say that the release of Fallen Empires around my birthday nor it's abundance when I was just starting out were the only factors in it's impact on me. Actually, I have to admit one of it's key appeals - to me at least, was in it's deeply woven flavor. Every card seemed to echo the whispered history of the set's namesake. Each color was filled with rich flavor and sub groups that shined to make the cards more than just empty mechanics. You could piece together a rough idea of these vast empires now falling to ruin as they struggled against each other.

Let's not forget the prevalence of Fallen Empires to take creature generation to a whole new level. Creature type themed decks already had been in existence but with Fallen Empires things changed. Now thrull decks appeared able to spawn legions, and thallids would spread like mold before you. I was captivated by the set, to the say the least. But oddly enough many others were not. Out of the bulk of my peers many deemed the set overall weak and lacking in merit. To further their point they would attest that almost no real card of any value could be found in the set siting the set's larger production run.

To them I then, and still now I argue that a card doesn't have to be rare or priceless to be effective. Neither does a deck have to utilize big hulking beasts to defeat you, often a group of smaller creatures can succeed where titans fail. Plus, most people will overlook the threat before it reveals itself. Now, Fallen Empires wasn't perfect, even now I can look to it's cards and see it. But for what it is, it works I think. There is a lot of newer sets where there is some sense of storyline, and yet you find some infamously sought after cards that make you wonder why they're there. They don't fit, but from a profit standpoint they exist for consumers to have those prized rares to seek out and devour to add to their tournament arsenals. 

Even today many players laugh at Fallen Empires and relegate it to a footnote in Magic's history. But just consider these words from Richard Garfield the game's creator: "It is easily the most complicated and best-looking of the expansions. The play value is high for the complexity, and the cards are very valuable for play. The flavor is probably the most cohesive since Arabian Nights. This expansion is easily my favorite."

I guess that leaves me in good company.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Frustration, Frenzy, And Failure.

Have you ever found something while cleaning out an old bag that initially brings a wave of joy like unearthing some forgotten treasure, only for it to lead to complete and utter disappointment? Yeah. That. While digging through an old piece of carry-on luggage that was home to my collection of magic cards I found a 9th edition core set box. If your not familiar with them, they were a little box set you could buy that was designed to introduce you to the new core set, complete with rulebook and all sorts of little incentives. For me at the time it seemed like a great way to cheaply get my hands on a good variety of newer cards and see the sort of state of the things. One such little bonus was a copy of this 'Magic Online' that Wizards of the Coast was touting  as a great additional method for players to play without having to meet up. Located inside my box was a activation code for a free account that promised digital copies of all the cards in the box.

Curious I decided to investigate, figuring surely after about 7 years the code was no longer valid. Much to my surprise, it was - and my eventual torment. Now, before you get ahead of me here and start thinking that this Magic Online might be perfect for you, allowing you to play online when your bored or what not let me just warn you. For starters, unlike some of the older Magic computer games, your not going to be playing this alone or playing for endless hours for the cost of the game alone, oh no. Magic Online allows you to activate an account for a fee, which does provide you with some starter card kits, avatars and the like. But these, you have to bear in mind, are virtual cards that you neither own or have on hand. Nor can you take a physical card you own and use it in the game. No, you must purchase cards for your account just like the real counterparts or trade for them. There are ways to collect special sets you can then redeem to get real copies mailed to you - for another fee. Do you see a patter emerging here? You pay for the account, pay for digital cards existing only in the aether of cyberspace, and if you manage to spend enough time and money to collect a special set; then you get the luxury of paying more money to get the real cards sent to you. And for all this you find yourself still only able to play other people when they happen to be available to do so.

But, all it's faults aside(and this software is riddled with them, including extremely poor graphics, not disclosing required disk space- something that is way larger than it ever should of been, and very poorly thought out interface to say the least) the worst part of my experience was in getting to even experience it. Upon learning that I could still redeem my code I set about following all the directions to do so. Unfortunately, due to a trivial flaw in screen resolution and poor design in my opinion my computer couldn't even render the login screen appropriately and thus denied me the ability to even access the part of the program to begin setting up my new account.

Now, this should have only been a very minor setback, but when contacted; tech support proved to be a monumental hurdle instead of a helping hand. Over the course of 2-3 days I routinely had to not only repeat my problem and even went so far as to submit a screen cap to demonstrate exactly what I was seeing, only to keep getting the answer; "please follow the instructions to start your new account." On the third day I had become so irritated that I set about to solve the issue myself, and ironically enough after some research do you know what I discovered? Not only was this a common problem, but one that the company had step by step solutions documented for. It was such a trivial matter that the first thing the support staff should have done, even without any tech savvy whatsoever, was to have simply asked me to verify the software requirements and that my screen resolution was set appropriately. But did they do this, or even bother to listen to me much less actually look at my visual proof? No. Not until after I had submitted my own solution to the problem(doing their job for them) did I receive a email from a different member of the staff who not only apologized but also provided me *gasp* actual documents to troubleshoot the issue as well as acknowledging that my issue was indeed what I described.

Even without getting into the frustrations that ironically enough many technicians deal with when having to seek tech support themselves(a topic for another time) the entire experience devastated my faith in any form of software and/or online service from WotC. My screen's resolution was literally only off what it needed to be by a miniscule amount. We're not talking about the difference of running something at 640x480 when it requires 1280x800 or something. When you design a program you design it to operate within reason in a given range, to be flexible enough that the user can make use of the software within reason and in a number of different visual options. For example, some users with poor eyesight might not be able to read small text, so you generally want to design something that is easy to read even for people with less than perfect vision. What Magic Online has done is tailor sub-par quality design with zero flexibility and flawed execution.

I may not have paid for my account, but I do now regret ever having purchased the box with the code, and if I had paid for this service I would feel even more cheated than I already do. As it stands I will more than likely be removing the software from my machine immediately(I should note I have already tried once only to be greeted with it trying to install itself again instead of remove) and never run it again, it just has no value or appeal to me whatsoever now. Plus, after everything I have gone through to even get to try it out culminating in my own hard work for them I cannot justify spending any more money to pay them for this terrible excuse of a game. Not to mention the erroneous logic of paying to use cards that you don't actually have nor being able to use the one's you do. I don't know what they were thinking, you may not agree with me but I wouldn't recommend anyone pay for this failure towards fun.

I think instead I'll just fall back to my old plan b; and break out some decks to play against myself. That way I can play all I want, with cards I own for free and anytime I like. Think me sad if you want, but paying for this nightmare would be the real tragedy in my eyes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mourning The Death Of The Starter Pack.

I first started playing Magic: The Gathering all the way back in 1993. The
current set at the time was called unlimited, but revised was just being
released. And when I rushed out to buy my first cards, it was two starter packs that
I picked up. When you bought cards back then you only had two options: a 15 card
booster that came with no lands, or a starter. The starters were wonderful, they
came with a little card sized rulebook(yes the rules fit on a little pocket
booklet back then), and 60 cards including lands for about 8 bucks. They were
unbeatable for beginners or building a collection of cards on a budget. Sadly, I
am told they quit producing starters years ago.

For me, the starter pack has been a preferred option when I was able to afford to
buy cards, you could get a nice assortment of cards and you got a perfect little
box to carry a deck in. One of my favorite things though was how well it lent
itself to sealed deck tournaments. You could buy into a evening of fun at a
local store for the price of a starter usually or so and then have loads of fun
playing other players. No matter the skill or how vast their collection you were on
a more even footing, and even if you lost every match you got to keep your

I have seen many changes over the years, especially when I played regularly. The
subtle slow change in atmosphere and flavor as editions passed like ages of a
long history. Some parts I never cared for, some sets I never liked the feel of,
and some changes I still puzzle over. But the death of the Starter pains me, it
even has gotten me to thinking about a number of things.

For example; it's common knowledge that I have never had a great deal of
resources at my disposal to buy cards. Unlike some of my peers who I would watch
order entire boxes at each set's launch, I only managed an occasional pack or
two. There was once I got a box on clearance at our local store but it was
really cheap(ridiculously so). So for me, like some others out there, I never played with these
fabled decks littered with cards like the 'power nine.' I always made do with
whatever I had or could trade for which often amounted to cards some sneered

You wanna know something though? I can't count the number of times seasoned
players have scoffed at my decks, at cards they saw when they were younger and
regarded as junk and found themselves cursing my name. Have I routinely bested
those I played with enough to be considered some unbeatable player of legend;
far from it. I have never won a tournament, not even finished in the top 3 or
so. There are some dear friends and family members to this day I don't think I
have ever legitimately beaten. But I have had countless hours of fun playing,
and more than my share of surprise victories.

In my opinion, some sets may lack a certain value, some cards may even have a
limited scope to their worth, but very few can actually be called worthless. I
sold my cards years ago to a dear friends parents for Christmas so they could
give them to him as a gift. It was really the only way they could afford to get
him some cards of his own. Awhile later I was dying to play again and some of my
own friends jestingly took mercy on me and donated stacks of common cards to me.
I made good use of them as I built decks to play with, some of which actually
made them scratch their heads and review their previous thoughts on some cards. Others still mockingly laugh at me anytime they see a Kird Ape(You know who you are!), or a dwarf deck.

But since the death of the starter, and this is merely my own conjecture at this
point, it seems like the more modern players have a highly skewed view. It is
almost seems like if the cards aren't the current trendy combo's or your deck isn't
built similar to some pro's ideal build that your not a skilled player. The
current methodology sounds like players are expected to buy entire boxes of
cards to devour for the cream of the crop rares and then discard the rest as
fodder. This idea never set well with me then and still doesn't now. As a old
player thinking to try and pick up some of the newer cards(as finances permit) I
was hoping to start with a *shock-shock* starter or two. Boosters are fine for
some stuff but the limited number of cards never appealed to me. And now with
these new 'fat packs' I think they have something similar to starters but way
too expensive.

So, I guess if you'll excuse me I'll spend a moment of silence to mourn the
death of a classic part of Magic's culture and history. Perhaps I'll use it to
ponder just what kids put their cards in these days... We used to be quite
inventive ourselves, is this generation lacking ingenuity as well?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Laugh Or Cry.

Knock, Knock. Who's there? Hulk. Hulk Who? Hulk Smash!

Much akin to Bruce Banner, I have found over the last 2 days my own frustrations reaching that little crossroads where the sign reads: Laughter Road and Tear Street. We all do it, have our little snapping points that is. And while I have yet to reach the point of full blown rage or complete dismissal/surrender, I did have to pause and laugh at things.

The short version is that I decided to cave to curiosity and see how hard it would be to code some apps for Nook devices etc. Fortunately it's fairly easy to get access to the tools to do so, and there is support out there. The down side though is that while the Nook Color runs Android, it's a modified version so you need a custom B&N SDK, along with some other special software packages, kits, and add-ons. After about 2 days of getting all of the required stuff set up and configured, I thought I could try out the little "Hello Nook Color" example project. Unfortunately, B&N must have left Murphy and his law in charge.

Everything seems to be working fine, but the Nook Color emulator/virtual device doesn't seem to be loading quite right. Adding to the complications, the 'Quick Start Guide' isn't written very well, it's image examples don't match up and if they do they are left blurry enough to prohibit comparison. I am certain I'll crack this eventually, but it'll take some time. In the mean time, I'll just picture Hulk paying their guide developers door a visit. Good times.

Oh, and if your ever curious to follow in my footsteps - it is free, just be forewarned to be patient.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Can You Miss Failure?

When I look out my window, an alien view greets me. You see, we used to have a 16 year old 230,000+ miles white van that sat outside. A van, that had served my parents faithfully since they acquired it back when I was still in high school. One, that when my mother decided to replace, I leaped at the chance to own. It was a great vehicle, but not without it's share of issues. The most recent had left me baffled, and I confess eager to solve. Sadly, that opportunity is lost to me now; I signed it over as a trade in on my mother's newest van. In exchange, she traded me her older one. Ironically it is one year newer than my last, fewer miles and is the exact same make and model. So at the very least it's familiar to me, and not without it's own faults. And yet I can't help but wonder if I would of ever figured the old van's issues out, or for that matter, managed to fix it.

I suppose we can miss those feelings of victory from tasks we complete, and by contrast miss those little failures that promised to guide us to the latter. But those opportunities that take both from us, well they just leave us wondering I guess. Silly thing to lament, I'm sure many think me mad, but that van has been through so much; and still had some life left in it.

What is the oldest vehicle you've ever owned?

*Apologies for the strange choice of topic; I typed this on my nook color when the thought struck me. Sadly the initial(and superior) post was accidentally lost, and this is what popped out when I retried. It's been a very odd day for me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Let's try this again! As an experiment, I typed up a little piece last night as a moment of introspection gripped me(yeah, I know - I am just that cliched and/or sad lol) only to find a less than complete understanding of the app I was using as a handicap. Long story short, even though I thought I saved it, it somehow took a cue from the dodo bird and vanished from existence. I never could re-capture such moments, but here's an attempt at the very least.

Pockets, that's right, you heard me. Pockets. They're such a simple thing, a handy convenience for some, and for those like me a desperate necessity.  Do you ever stop to consider what you do or don't carry around with you on a daily basis, and what it could say about you? Or, like so many does it ever even cross your mind? Each day do you absentmindedly shuffle the contents of your pockets in an out without notice? I know I don't, in fact I have for a good many years kept a consistent inventory of what is in my pockets. Not to mention they're exact placement, a fact that never ceases to garner me more than my share of odd looks.

Now, without going into too many of the finer details, I think most of them are self explanatory. I also think they might even say something about me, like the fact that I generally like being prepared. But feel free to draw your own conclusions, I'd love to hear them!

Here is my little standard inventory on any given day: Pocket Knife, Silver Ink Pen, 8gb Usb thumb drive, 2 Steel Ball Bearings, Assorted Loose Change, Prescription Pill Bottle, Bic Lighter, Old Zippo, Spare Hair Tie, Check Book, Blue Handkerchief, Wallet, and on my belt I keep a Multi-Tool pair of pliers, a Mini Mag-light Flashlight and my keys.

Now, for the record; the bearings give me something to do with my hands if I'm nervous or waiting. I like to think they're also handy if I want to check the level/slope of something but I think more realistically there is the little boy "really neat" factor inherent to them that may be involved in my subconscious thinking. The bic lighter was simply an adaptive addition a long time ago out of necessity, I don't smoke but it is always handy to have a fire source. Especially when the power goes out or your outdoors on walks etc. The old Zippo used to serve that function but needs a tune-up as it were, and I still keep it close for sentimental sake until I overhaul it. I guess you might say the disposable lighter is a back-up/replacement until then.

So, think what you will, stare at me like I'm crazy even. But these things comfort me, what do you keep on your person? Do they comfort you, or have a purpose? Or, more simply do you even carry anything in your pockets? They can say something about you, but what do they? It's something to think about sometime.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nook Color: Initial Thoughts After Some Hands On.

Alright, so I got my Nook Color yesterday, did my setup stuff and then dove into the usual gadget exploration/familiarization mode. Matter of fact, I might owe some people(my wife and kids included) a quick apology. Sorry guys, I was riding a wave of excitement while playing about, and I hope I didn't overly annoy  them with posts/tweets etc. It happens. I did however manage to get a feel for the device and have come to a few conclusions.

First off, I have to admit I am very surprised with the Nook Color. From a hardware standpoint alone, it is a solid little device. The battery lasted far better than I expected. After a full charge, I managed to surf the web, install apps, any number of things and didn't receive the low battery warning until sometime after noon today. So, some on and off serious use from about 3 p.m. yesterday until about noon, that is about 21 hours or better by my figuring.

Secondly, I've had issues, and some bad opinions of touch inputs for years. I used a touch screen terminal years ago on a daily basis, with a decent enough degree of resentment. So, it's safe to say that while I am familiar with the experience I have been a long time supporter of more traditional input systems. Having said that though, the screen on my Nook has me impressed. It is very responsive and not nearly as daunting to adapt to as I feared. While it does still lead to the occasional miss click and the like it is actually very accurate and quite satisfying of an experience.

Thirdly, and this is something I cannot stress enough to anyone considering getting a Nook, a Kindle, or any other similar device: you have to bear in mind your intended use of the product. The more I tool around the more I cannot help but see B&N's lack of free apps and the like. A standard Nook Color does come with a very nice selection of a few apps and games but when it comes to free ones their offerings pale in comparison to Amazon. And with the stock OS locked from non B&N software you can't expect to expand your options without rooting or loading a full version of Android. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some nice and very handy free apps and games available. I really like some of them, and they can provide some great added functionality. But I have to admit, if your buying a Nook, odds are your not buying it for an extensive app market. Your buying it for it's easy customization and flexibility.

Without rambling on and on, I think I'll leave it at that for now. I still have to have to say I am thrilled and continued to be impressed with my little Nook Color. And if you are curious yourself, by all means let me know if there is something you'd like to know or hear more about.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Own Little Nook.

One thing I can say with absolute certainty is that for as long as I can think back I have desperately needed my own little nook. It could be a simple and trivial thing to many others, but for me even a small space for me to reserve my own little trinkets is priceless. Ask anyone who ever visited me when I was younger or who has spent time at my house and they'll all agree that you'll find a little pocket-space of my own.

Why am I waxing poetic over something many can freely admit as a curious yet passing notion? Well, it just happens to be a logical segue(even a poetically ironic one) to my next point. For the past week, or maybe two(I'm not sure, I often have trouble keeping up with what day it is) I've been engrossed in research on e-reader/tablets and the android operating system. And when I decided to get myself such a device I ended up deciding on the Barnes & Noble Nook Color.

Now, I may not be your regular e-reader user, for that matter I don't think I have ever been one who picked up any device just to simply use as intended. I can understand and appreciate a product's limitations not to mention what it's design is intended for. But I can also see what else it is capable of, and because of that I've never quite looked at things the way others did. When others scoffed at me when netbooks started to roll out I marveled at the Acer One's. Are they super computers? No. But I will say this, my little netbook has lasted me the last 3 years, it's run StarCraft 2, even when they ran the beta, not to mention World Of Warcraft, League Of Legends. Hell, I have even written code for some programs on this thing. Still trucking right along. Knock on wood!

The more I read recently, though, the more I found myself similarly fascinated with the Nook Color. It isn't a super-powered tablet, not by a long shot. But if you crunch the numbers you can easily realize that their hardware is nearly on par with a lot of the netbooks out there. In fact, the battery life alone is just as good or better while being even more portable. Is it a viable replacement for a laptop though? No. I can't make that proclamation. But what I can say though is, especially if you root one or load a full blown version of Android, that a Nook Color can easily become a daily option for you to read, check e-mail, twitter etc with greater convenience.

To be fair there is a ton of hype out there right now, especially among the general consumer market for these kinds of devices. They're already shaping up to be like netbooks were a few years back, and there is a tidal wave of buzz about the next models coming down the pipe. Am I buying into that hype, or recommending that you do though? No. I am a technology enthusiast, always have been, always will be. And as much as I adore gadgets, I can't say these devices are going to make everyone happy. But in contrast neither am I rich enough to afford a variety of options when I find myself in the market for a new device. As such I can easily say that investing in a Nook Color, Nook Tablet, or even a Kindle Fire is a great deal for the price considering the sheer flexibility and functions they can offer. Especially if your comfortable with rooting one or running a full version of Android, not the neutered versions they have on-board as stock.

So, now, all I have to do is wait and soon I will find myself with my very own little Nook to give me a little digital place for my stuff. Like a decker's cyberdeck, or a NodeRunner's MiniComm, I'll have my own little electronic tether to a personal cyberspace. The hard part is, now I'm just counting the days until I can get my hands on it and really get a feel for it. Perhaps then I can give everyone a better first hand account of the experience. Like a small child, I now am gripped with the magical anticipation of a delivery truck heralding the arrival of a package and the surge of excitement it will undoubtedly bring.

Speedy delivery.