Chanukah Presents And Surprises

Posted by TechyDad on December 19, 2014 under Holidays

surpriseChanukah is now a few days in, but the boys have already gotten many things they were hoping to get.

First, was a gift that they actually got a few months ago.  When Disney Infinity 2.0 came out, we bought it for our boys and gave it to them as an early Chanukah present.  NHL and JSL have been playing it ever since, building complex worlds and fighting many Disney and Marvel villains.

Next, was Robots vs. Dinosaurs.  This is part of a series of dice games – they already have Pirates vs. Ninjas.  Gameplay is simple, you roll your dice and those represent your troops.  You then battle other player’s forces, "killing" their dice (moving them to the side) and rerolling your dice where appropriate.  If all of your dice are killed, you are out.  Last player standing wins.  The fun part now is that we can play a four player game.  Pirates versus Ninjas versus Dinosaurs versus Robots.  Who will win?!!!

robots_vs_dinosaurs

Now if we just get Zombies vs. Wrestlers and Army vs. Aliens, we’ll have a complete set and can have a 8 way free for all!

JSL’s big present was actually quite large – a full sized keyboard.  He’s been begging for one for a year now and we finally caved… And let his grandparents buy it for him.  He’s now determined to learn how to play.

jsl_keyboard

Tonight’s present is going to be a big surprise.  Don’t tell the boys, but we’re taking them to see Disney On Ice.  We’ve gone to many Disney On Ice shows in the past and have enjoyed them all. This will be the first time that we’ll be surprising them with the trip on the same day.

What presents have you surprised your children with?

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Positively Pixelated Perler Bead Pickle Weasels

Posted by TechyDad on December 15, 2014 under Crafting

Sometimes, you just feel blue.  You feel like you have been faking it your whole life and someone will figure it out any day now.

This is called Impostor Syndrome and many people get it.  Sometimes, you just need some extra mojo to ward it off.

JC Little, aka The Animated Woman, has a creation that helps to add mojo whenever you need it: Pickle Weasel.  Our Twitter exchange reminded me of an idea I had once: Make a Pickle Weasel out of Perler Beads.

First, you begin with the body and legs.

pickle-body

Next, you add some ears, arms, and a tail.

pickle-arms-ears-tail

At this point, it is time to add some eyes and a nose.

pickle-eyes-nose

Next. some whiskers and a mouth.

pickle-whiskers-mouth

After adding some "pickle spots" and coloring in the ears and tail, Pickle Weasel is really starting to take shape.

pickle-color-spots

Finally, you color in Pickle Weasel.

pickle-colored-in

Um… Did I say "finally?" Pickle Weasel is done, but if we iron him like this, those spindly arms and legs will fall apart.  So we should add a clear background to keep Pickle Weasel in one piece. (He’s not a Pickle Weasel Puzzle, after all!)

pickle-background

A trip to the iron and Pickle Weasel is done and ready to spread mojo wherever he goes.

pickle-weasel-perler-beads

By the way, if you enjoy Pickle Weasel’s antics, JC has a new Pickle Weasel book out.  Check it out and see if you can guess what Pickle Weasel is up to now.

NOTE: I’ve added my © TechyDad watermark to the images above.  These are images taken by me of creations I made, but only the photos are under my copyright.  The "Pickle Weasel" character was created by JC and is thus owned by her.  I made this creation and am sharing photos of it with her permission.

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Happy Birthday To My Wonderful Wife

Posted by TechyDad on December 9, 2014 under B, Birthday

version2_chocolate_birthday_cakePlease join me in wishing Happy Birthday to B, aka TheAngelForever, aka my wonderful wife and mother of our children.  Yes, today is her birthday.  The celebrations will include an oven delivery and a possible event to attend for NHL (if the weather doesn’t get so bad that it is cancelled).   Seriously, she has bad luck with birthday scheduling.  It seems like something always hits right on her birthday.  One year, I’d love it if she could sleep late (not rush to get the kids ready for and then off to school), spend the day doing anything she wanted to do, and be able to go out to eat where ever she decided to go to.  We’ll celebrate her birthday another day, but it won’t be the same.

I’m so happy that B is in my life.  She’s a wonderful wife to me and a fantastic mother our kids.  She takes care of so much both around the house and in our lives.  She fights to ensure that our kids have a good education, makes sure all of our bills are paid on time (I *may* have missed a few due dates when I was in charge of them), steps in when NHL and I are butting heads, and not only puts up with the high level of geekery in our house, but even participates in it.  I couldn’t imagine life without her.

Happy Birthday, B!

NOTE: The "Chocolate Birthday Cake" image above is by version2 and is available from OpenClipArt.org.

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The Game Data Facebook Conundrum

Posted by TechyDad on December 8, 2014 under Games, Smartphone/Tablet Apps, Smartphones/Tablets, Social Media

Facebook_installBack in March, I wrote about moving from my old smartphone to a new one.  Well, thanks to B getting a new phone from Verizon Wireless, I’ve had to do it again. This time, however, things didn’t go as smoothly as the first time.

For the first move, games tended to fall into one of three categories. The first was games whose data I couldn’t move over but whose data I really didn’t care about. For example, I enjoy playing a backgammon game and the app keeps track of the games won and lost. I didn’t really mind having that counter reset.  The second category was games whose data I was able to move either by signing into an online account if by contacting the developer. The third category was games whose data I couldn’t move but which I realized I hadn’t played in a long time.

This time around, there was a fourth category as well. These were games that I cared about and could be moved – but only by logging into your Facebook account.

Problem: I didn’t have a Facebook account. Though I’m on social media, I’ve steadfastly refused to open a Facebook account. I refused when I saw that a lot of people that i knew were on Facebook. I refused when groups I would like to be a part of were only accessible as Facebook groups. I refused when my wife kept telling me it was a great way to keep in touch with family and friends.

Part of my refusal was due to time constraints. I don’t have a lot of time to spend on social media in general. I’d rather focus on one or two social media platforms than to spread myself across too many and not be able to keep up with any. In addition, Facebook has had a lot of piracy and usability issues. I didn’t want to subject myself to that.

Still, I *needed* to get those games transferred. What was I to do?

In the end, I gave in and opened a Facebook account to transfer my games over. Don’t expect my to Like your Facebook posts or add you as a friend, though. My profile remains almost completely bare – I didn’t even bother to add a profile image. The only purpose for this account was to assist me in moving my game data. Now that this is done, the account is only going to be used for saving game data.

What lengths have you needed to go to to keep your game progress?

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The Importance of Playing

Posted by TechyDad on December 5, 2014 under Fun, Games, Life, Video Games

Platformer_Game"But we didn’t get time to play!!!"

Sadly, these words have been uttered often this week.  Thanks to various activities, the boys have had little time for playing in the afternoon after they return home, eat dinner, and finish their homework.  All too often, they’ll finish their last homework problem only to find that they have a mere ten minutes until they need to start getting ready for bed.

Obviously, play time is important for kids.  It lets them relax and get creative in a manner that they find enjoyable (versus in a manner that a teacher has assigned).  However, play time can be just as important for adults.

In a conversation with a friend if mine, he asked how many hours in a week I spent on social media, playing games, and other activities that did not directly put money in my bank account.  When I answered, he suggested that I use those hours to take on extra freelance work instead.

While I do freelance work, I try very hard not to be a workaholic.  Mainly, because I think that a life consisting of only work will quickly become a frustrating and boring life.  I would rather live a life with slightly less money but one filled with family, friends, and fun.

In addition, you can easily get burnt out by working too much.  When I’m faced with a frustrating task, the worst thing I can do is keep trying to tackle it for hours on end.  When faced with problems like this, I’ll put the problem down and either play a quick game, take a walk, or work on something else.  Doing this keeps my brain from going down the same failed path over and over again.  Oftentimes, my subconscious will figure out the solution for me while I’m pursuing other interests.

Finally, there’s the "death march fallacy.". Some employers try to get their employees to work 80+ hour weeks for weeks on end to finish projects on time.  (Usually in these cases, the deadline was set by managers who aren’t directly responsible for meeting said deadline.). The theory is that the employees will put in double the hours and get the work done in half as many days.  The reality is that employees wind up overworked, overtired, and burnt out.  The quality of their work declines fast and more time is spent fixing mistakes that they make than would have been spent with a slower development schedule.  Why would I subject myself to a" freelance death march" just to earn extra money?  All that would happen would be that I would be miserable, my quality of work would plummet, and my clients would be upset about the work I was doing for them.

No, my playing a game, watching TV, or reading a book doesn’t bring in money, but every activity we do doesn’t have to be monetized. A life focused solely on money sounds like a very boring and meaningless life to me.

How important is play/recreation to you? What is your favorite method of unwinding?

NOTE: The "Platformer Game" image above is by qubodup and is available from OpenClipArt.org.

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