Just a few updates on things that have happened over the past few months.
RAV4 ECM Woes -
I'm happy and a bit astonished to report that my wife's RAV4 has run flawlessly after we pulled the ECM and sent it off to the Serbs in Brooklyn. While it was worth every penny in terms of a great story (and a rare instance where everyone who should have known what they were doing didn't), I was a bit pissed off to have someone tell me that Toyota had issued a further recall for the ECM. However, I have not been able to find such a recall online, so I'm perfectly happy that we got it fixed cheap and effectively.
I'm still living in the future with this thing. I would carry it everywhere if I didn't feel like such a fanboi doing it! While it's clearly not a great choice for everyone, and some people are complaining that the video quality over 3G is not great (duh - I don't see how anyone would expect that AT&T's 3G service would be snappy, they can barely cover phone calls on their network), for me it's nearly a perfect tool, a great mix of size and power. For the record, the Wi-Fi version works great for Netflix as well as for streaming video from my computer using Stream To Me.
I got my case about a week ago (the one that Apple puts out) and it's very interesting. It's a strange material that's part rubber and part fiber, and the border around the case is a little like French cuffs - the material doesn't fold over itself, but instead forms a fringe, a little like a fauxhawk hairstyle, with breaks for switches and ports. At first, this looks like a really dumb idea, until you read a book at night in landscape mode and find yourself trying to turn a physical page. I'm much less concerned with a screen protector now (and I hear they are nearly impossible to install well) as the cover takes care of the majority of that protection.
The one thing that is a bit of a pain is if you try to set the case to stand the unit on it's side, for example so that you can watch a video while you cook. The "base" that's created from the front cover is slightly rounded, and it tends to fall over a lot onto the screen, which is a bit worrisome. I'd heard that a guy was watching a video in bed and the screen fell onto his face and gave him a black eye or somesuch. My first reaction was to wonder what he was doing with the screen so far forward instead of in his lap, and then I realized what kind of video it almost surely was, and that his lap would have been an inconvenient place to have put the iPad. Never mind.
The other thing I'm a little disappointed in is the Pages app. It will work for basic word processing with a little extra capability, but to be honest I think that the Notes app would have worked just fine. I have to email a copy of any files I want to print, as there's no "Open In..." function that would let me do so in PrintCentral, and using the clipboard removes all of the formatting.
I've also gotten a bunch more games, but the ones I seem to be gravitating to are the buggy ones - PuzzleManiak and Tap Tap Radiation. Both tend to crash in certain situations, which is particularly bad for PuzzleManiak as often I'm in the middle of solving a "competitive" puzzle against others on the Net. However, I'm very aware that we're in a very early stage of software development for this device (if not for the OS) so I'm pretty tolerant. I'm less tolerant of downloading music for Tap Tap Radiation that crashes the app, seeing as it's paid content that doesn't currently work. We'll see how well those companies fix things, but otherwise the apps are awesome and perhaps my favorites.
WBC West Prep -
Prep is going pretty well, amazingly. In previous years there was little if any effort made to try to get a test run of a game in with both players ahead of time, and this year it appears that we'll get in quite a few. I spent Monday evening with Alex and Matt R teaching Sword of Rome (which I'll participate in) and A Victory Lost (which I won't). We spent about 2 hours per game and I considered the time extremely well spent, especially for Alex who has very little experience with either CDGs or hex and counter wargames.
For my own prep, I've been test driving The Battle For Normandy, which will be our long-anticipated monster game for two days. Mike, Eric, and Chuck are coming over on Saturday to run through the Gold-Juno-Sword beach scenario so that we can learn how invasions work, see a paradrop in action, and get the combat supply, air war, and naval support chrome down. However, as I've only gotten through parts of the Omaha Beach scenario, I'm still working on getting a couple of things nailed down in my own head. I plan to spend a good part of today doing that very thing, and possibly Friday as well.
For the rest of my games, I've gotten through the Stalin's War rules, and still plan to get through the extended example of play once my copy arrives (I just can't do this from the example alone). I'm planning to put together a couple of Luftwaffe raids for The Burning Blue and try running through the second scenario solo just to be sure I've covered the rules, same for A Victory Denied (which I completely screwed up when Chuck and I tried it last fall). A Most Dangerous Time is pretty much learned at this point, but Mike will come over a bit earlier on Saturday to run a few turns to make sure we have the nuances down.
That means the only game I won't have gotten covered before we leave in 11 days is whatever the heck we're playing on Sunday, which will depend in small part on whether Mike decides to come out with us early or get in some family time later. If the latter, Chuck and Dave and I will probably play Dungeon Lords and Through the Ages, but if Mike comes we'll do something very different.
There's no question that I am as prepared for WBC West as I ever have been, in no small part because of Dave's suggestion for prep scheduling, from figuring out who would be there (surprisingly stable this year, but there's time left), to the date we'd have our game list down (early April). Considering that so many of the games I'll be playing will be new or very nearly new to me (BfN, TBB, AVD, AMDT, SW), I'm very happy that I feel confident going in that I'm ready to go with most of them, and should be ready for all of them by game time.
Game Reports -
Game reports have more or less fallen off the wagon for me at this point, other than to discuss specific games in more general terms. Part of the reason is that they just don't seem all that interesting to hear that Player A beat Player B unless there was some particularly novel play. I am keeping a log of the games I play this year on the 'Geek, look me up under dcooley if you are interested at all in seeing what I'm playing (and why would you be).
The Band -
Raindriver has been busy this year, but mostly behind the scenes. We recorded a demo in February, and are finishing up mixing and mastering work as I type, with a few songs more or less ready to go. You can hear fresh versions of China Grove, Play That Funky Music, and La Grange here. The site should be pretty easy to navigate. I am singing China Grove and Funky Music, FYI, as well as handling the keyboard chores. At this point we're only a good photo away from having a complete promo package that I'll be proud to take to any club owner in the area.
We've only gigged twice this year, both at the Dublin Pub. Unfortunately, while we try very hard to make the club owners happy, it's clear that there's some unrealistic expectations on the part of this particular club's owner and I doubt very much we'll be back there. From what I've heard from other bands in the area, the Dublin is a problematic venue for a lot of reasons, mostly to do with the same problems we ran into. At the end of our gig there last weekend, we were told we continually "disrespected" the owner by playing too long. We had done one song more than we should have, but the way the message was delivered and the use of the term "continually disrespected" phrase when we had *never* been told we'd played too long previously sat badly with most of the band. I suspect that the root of the problem is that it's difficult to continually pull in people to come hear the band in a 7-10pm timeslot, and if that's the case then I'm happy to pull the 20-50 people I brought in regularly to a different venue.
Otherwise, the band is doing quite well, we all get along great, and we are all heard in rehearsals. I can't tell you how nice it is to play with musicians who aren't flakes, on ego trips, or just generally messed up. And it's a good band! Check out the tunes if you haven't gotten a chance to come see us.
That's enough for now. I will post one more pre-WBC message covering the rest of my prep, especially wrt TBB and BfN, and then it will be on to the nano-con itself, when I hope to post more or less continually using the iPad.