All posts by ron

Makerbot Replicator 2

Our newest prototyping machine, the Replicator 2. The open source folks were all up in arms about the software going closed source. To which I say: I couldn’t care less. It’s a fantastic machine. I’ll take a well engineered closed source machine over something made of 5mm plywood any day. Sorry, but that’s how I roll.

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The Opus: Discworld

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a fracking idiot. For the longest time I thought Terry Pratchett wrote kids books. About magic. And, frankly, I got my fill of magic from Harry, thank you very much. I’m glad she got rich, but I never had fun along the way.

Anyhow, after not being able to find the books in dead tree format (because I am cheap and only shop at Recycled Reads), I was happy to see that the Austin Public Library had eBooks for borrowing. And, after many many moons, I got a Kindle Touch (then a Paperwhite). No, I wasn’t behind the curve. Back in the day I had one of those Sony eReaders — and you had to use one of those computer things to get books on it.

Anyhow, the APL was kind enough to get all of the Discworld books, so I could dip my toes for no cost. Hurray!

I started with the Watch series, because I’m still not much of a magic man. This series, quite a long one, follows the Night Watch (think: neglected cops) and their interaction with wizards, trolls, and whatnot.

What fun! Fantasy books that don’t have He Men slaying Dragons. Okay, I’m being unfair, I never read any fantasy, because that was my impression of the genre. I’m shallow. Who cares.

Okay, back to Pratchett: Fun to read. Very well written. Full of tongue-in-cheek. A master as description and language. And he knows how to write a good plot that doesn’t re-hash the same thing over and over (I’m talking to you, Harry).

If you are a detective/thriller guy like me, start with the Watch series. The Death ones are good, too. And the Industrial Revolution–“The Truth” is great. I’ve just started on the Witches series, which I’m a little less happy with, but I give them time. The easiest way to get the reading order is to download “The Discworld Reading Order” PDF from wiki.

The Lonely Gamer

Sometimes you just want a brainless time waster that you can come back to. Here are a couple of good ones:

Word Search by Melimots

It’s word search. You can change the complexity. What more do you want? Non-distracting ads, which it has. A little banner ad. No biggie. Some people have complained that it has “words I don’t know” and “won’t recognize 3 letter words I find”. To which I say: you are an idiot. It’s freaking word search! The best version I’ve found so far. No glitz. No glamour. Just word search. Free.

Solitare by Mobilityware 

This is on all platforms (iPad, Kindle Fire, Google Play) and is one of the best known. It’s Klondike and that’s it. If you want Spider or FreeCell, get their other apps. It works, it’s simple, and only has ads in-between games. If you complain about ads in between games, you are a cheapskate and/or play too fast. Deal with it. Devs need to make money. Free.

Zookeeper DX TouchEdition by Kiteretsu

I have mixed feelings about this game. First, the good stuff. It’s Zookeeper. If you liked that game on the Nintendo DS, you know what it is. Graphics and sounds are the same, but bigger (depending on your screen, of course).

On the down side, on a tablet, it’s too big. I found it a lot easier to play on the smaller screen of the DS. And a stylus works better, too. And maybe I’m getting older, but I found the Nintendo version ramped up in difficulty a lot slower. Which is good for an old man like me. This gets too hard too fast.

It’s a buck, and if you like Zookeeper, it’s worth it. Otherwise you can look for other “match three blocks” games (or whatever they are called).


Hill Climb Racing

Why do I love this silly little game? Because it’s 2D side-scrolling “car” game, so the controls are simple. Because when you “die” you don’t feel too bad, and can quickly restart. Because the physics are fun and you have no one else to blame when you snap your neck after a bad “fall”.

It’s one of of those simple games that you can play for a few minutes, have fun with, and put down. Nothing complicated. Nothing earth shattering, but a lot of fun. And it’s free.

Available at the Google Play store.

The Nexus 7

What’s been said about this device than I can add? Nothing, really. I love mine. Well, we love ours, all three of them. The best, most handy, tablet I’ve used.

Why three? Because, unfortunately, one of ours got knocked down by a cat and landed into a steel bed rail, cracking the screen. The display itself is okay, but there’s a big dead spot in the touch area, making it pretty useless.

But not completely useless. I now use that one as an e-mail notifier at my desk. I check check all my accounts on it, without having to toggle my work. And if I want some peace and quiet, I just mute it for a while.

Speaking of e-mail, that’s probably the thing I love the most — at least how Android / Nexus handles it. It’s SO easy for me to manage and keep track of my many e-mail accounts (as a consultant, I often have an e-mail for individual clients). Keeping track of 8 or 10 different e-mail inboxes has never been so easy.

I was an earlier adopter, so got the 8 GB one, but you want the 16 Gb at least. With big games, you need the space. (Thank goodness they only make the 16 GB+ ones now.)

Get yourself a case, at least if you have cats. We got Moko cases that work pretty well. They bulk it up a bit, but you get magnetic on/off, a hand-strap, and landscape tilting.

Highly recommended. I have an iPad 1 and a Kindle Fire (first gen) and the Nexus creams them. The iPad is almost never used anymore and the Fire is in our workshop for music (Pandora and Songza and MP3s).