2013 – Looking Back, Looking Forward – 2014

Happy New Year to all of you!

I know there are a great many people out there who take New Year’s as a chance to go out, get drunk and party…thereby preventing themselves from having any memory of the night’s events. As you may have guessed by now, I’m not that kind of person.

Instead, I’d like to take a look back…and take a look forward. I’m sure you had no idea that’s what I was going to do this time, right? No, stop looking at the title. There’s nothing there. I said stop.

*Sigh*

Let’s move on, shall we?

What I’ve Written

A Glimmer of Perspective

Since this blog is supposedly about me as a writer, that should come first, right? Well, let’s start with the biggest accomplishment: I’m finally published.

A Glimmer of Perspective” was released on Amazon Kindle on September 6, 2013. For the first 90 days or so, I sold it at $0.99 and it did fairly well. A total of five reviews, with four five-stars and one four-star. A short time later, I published it on Nook, KOBO and iBooks using the Draft2Digital platform.

I’m not saying that it was a huge success. It wasn’t really. In fact, I’m still not sure how to promote it.

In September, I sold 11 copies of the book on Amazon.
In October, I sold 2 copies.
In November, I sold 1 copy.
In December, I told 2 copies.

In all that time, I only sold a single copy through the Nook, KOBO and iBook Channels.

In truth, I have a lot to learn about the process, especially about promoting my books. But at least I can say that I’m out there. This was a huge first step for me and I don’t think I should let myself feel marginalized just because I wasn’t an immediate smash hit.

In the Sun Eagle’s Wake

This project was supposed to originally be a short story that ballooned into a small novella I managed to finish the day before National Novel Writing Month Started. Perfect timing too. Set in a previously-unseen area of Taylin (The Scribe/Dreamscape universe), it was the story of a boy with the obsession of wanting to fly like his beloved sun eagle…but never being able to find the right kind of book to help him Change into a bird. When the chance to get access to a book that might just give him that power coincides with his first date at an impromptu festival, which will he choose?

I started it on October 11, 2013 and ended on October 30, 2013 at 12:01PM. The story clocked at 28,491 words.

I’m not quite sure what to do with this story, to be honest. Maybe one day it’ll go in an Omnibus. But it’s another story with more of the rules started.

Solstice by Starlight

I talked a little bit about this story two weeks ago. I was hoping to have it done by today, but I got rather sick in the last few days and time just managed to get away from me. *Sigh* And in truth, I really am not sure what I’m doing there. It’s supposed to be about how Pauline becomes Ak’s apprentice. However, I’m having trouble with the conflict. There are two primary conflicts…but both of them get answered in “Soul of the Scribe.” I can’t answer them early, since this is supposed to happen 4 years before the events in “Scribe.” So in the end, I decided to move back to my NaNoWriMo story…

What Lies Beyond Magic and Steam

Another great writing accomplishment for this year: winning National Novel Writing Month, even with having a second baby on October 31, 2013. I’m still not quite sure how I did it, but I did it. And this one finally gets my hero cast out of Rosan City to see the various fantastical locations all across Taylin. At the moment, our heroes are under attack by strange flying contraptions, pinned down by technology they’ve never even seen before. And that was after getting blown out of the sky (literally) as an elevator shaft was destroyed around them. They’re having a rough day, to say the least.

Anyway, while I won’t be able to get to this tonight, I’m looking forward to getting to it tomorrow. I haven’t been writing in it the last few days because I’ve been as sick as a darn dog.

In the Corridors of Light and Dreams

The second of the Taylin stories, this mammoth beast was originally my National Novel Writing Month story for 2012. In the end, it became nearly 175,000 words. I’m not quite sure what to do with it, but right now, I’m still nailing down the general universe. But I think I might be reading too much Brandon Sanderson. My novels are too darn long most of the time. Anyway, I was happy to finally finish this on March 14, 2013. It needs an immense amount of work before I’ll let anyone even see it, but there’ potential there. I should also mention that I did my NaNoWriMo with this, but I actually started this story on July 12, 2012.

Beyond the Waterfall

Beyond the Waterfall was my original entry to the OC Writer’s Anthology (which is eventually coming out, I promise!). However, the story I wanted to tell refused to fit into the guidelines provided. In fact, it was my story that stretched them quite a bit. In the end, I decided to finish this story as it was and write an entirely different story in the space of a couple weeks. I always felt this was a stronger story, but at 9,000 words, it definitely wouldn’t fit under the 4,000 word limit. I also enjoyed pouring my own burgeoning issues with my interest in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic into the main character.

Waterfall Steps

My second attempt at the OC Writer’s Anthology, it still ended up around 5,000 words, but managed to pass. This one happens six months before the events in Beyond the Waterfall, both of which are loosely tied with the Taylin world. I haven’t decided if they’re “canon” or not, but that’s a decision I can make some other time. But it’s another accomplishment, especially since I did both stories while working at another Apple Store.

A Secret Project

I also did one other short story this year that you don’t know about. And I have no intention of sharing. So ha! But it’s another one I can add to my list of accomplishments.

Stormhaven Revision

This is what I worked on during summer, hoping to create a full novel out of this. I got about 1/3 of the way into the revision before my time was demanded elsewhere.

The rest of July-August was spent working on “Glimmer” and another story I can’t quite remember trying to figure out which one to publish first.  I worked endlessly on Glimmer to make it perfect.

Other Writing-Related Projects

Taylin Map: I had did a map of the entire Taylin world, including places that shouldn’t be spoken about for years in book time.

OC Writers: After getting some time away from work, I managed to start being able to attend the OC Writers Group every Thursday. This was a huge encouragement to me. The whole no-work thing also saved me in regards to National Novel Writing Month, giving me the time I needed to work on it.

-rks Blog: I got serious about the -rks blog, as you can see, doing posts almost every week for a good portion of this year.

What’s Coming

OC Inklings: I’ve decided to take the initiative and launch the OC Inklings, which will be the OC Writers official online critique group. It’s launching January 2, 2014. And so far we have about 10 members. Which is probably all we can handle at the moment. I’ll admit I don’t have any idea what I’m really doing. I’ve ran an in-person writing group before, but never an online group. It should be interesting

Finish “Magic and Steam”: Obviously, this will be my main writing project for the time being. I’m also hoping that by finishing this, I’ll get the answers I need for “Solstice by Starlight.”

Publish “Beyond the Waterfall”: This little guy is begging to be published, which is why I’m offering it up to the critique group as a guinea pig.

Submit “Glimmer” to PodCastle: PodCastle is a great fantasy podcast that I used to listen to all the time. I don’t have the time anymore, but that was a huge influence on me several years ago. In fact, some of the ideas of Scribe came from “In the House of the Seven Librarians,” my favorite short story of all time, which I found on PodCastle. I’m hoping they might be interested in Glimmer. 🙂

There are plenty of other projects running around in the back of my mind, but right now, I want to focus on what’s achievable and doable. That’s important. Very important. And all four of those can be done before February, I think (except for maybe Magic and Steam…I’m not sure how long this one is going to be).

Life’s Events

There’s more to life than just writing. And this year, life has been interesting to say the least.

We found out we were pregnant and were expecting on November 5, 2013! Of course, little Talissa didn’t wait that long and she arrived on October 31, 2013. Whoo! Caitlyn also turned 3 just a few weeks ago. Now that was an interesting event…a bit crazy, but fun nonetheless.

However, tragedy hit when Laura’s grandmother passed away and we were forced to fly all the way to Michigan during…April? That was an adventure and a half. But in the end, Laura got to show me a large part of her family and Caitlyn’s grandfather on Laura’s side finally got to meet Caitlyn, which honestly…didn’t look like it was ever going to happen. And it went fairly well.

Not only did I get my long-desired Genius promotion at my Apple Store shortly before the end of 2012, but I finally came into my own there too. I created a “Get To Know You” Project at work so everyone could actually learn about the other people on the team, which turned into a rousing success.

And of course, during the middle of April, I decided to take Caitlyn home and watch the first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And all of you know what that led to. A radical change in my perspective and a whole new kind of obsession.

Finally, we had the big one. The panic attacks that forced me to take time off of work and in combination with my Baby Bonding leave, I was gone from work from the middle of September and will continue to be gone until near the end of January.

I’ve read a lot of books, played a lot of games, written a lot of words.

You know, it’s common for me to look back at my life and think that I’m wasting it. But in truth, I would burn out if I really tried to write every minute of the day. If I didn’t take breaks for gaming and stuff…I would self-destruct. It would eventually kill me. It’s hard to remember sometimes. But when I write something like this…I realize that I have done a whole lot this year. Finally published, multiple stories on the way, networking with other authors, beaten games, introduced Laura to new authors and stories (Name of the Wind, anyone?) and so much more.

It’s been a crazy year.

I don’t expect my life to get any less crazy.

But God willing, maybe it’ll get a bit more focused.

And maybe you’ll be able to pick up one of my books off of a bookstore bookshelf this time next year.

After looking at all I did this year…it doesn’t seem like such a long-shot after all.

Now…what do put for New Year’s Eve PMV?

The first thing that came to mind is something powerful…something energetic…something ascendant.

So how about Ascension?

But then I realized there’s another one that’s even more beautiful…and it works so well with my writing, that I can’t help but put it in. Because there’s still one wish that hasn’t come true. Ironically, it’s the whole point of that show I’m so obsessed with.

I’m still lonely. And I still really need some true friends. And God, if I can have a real wish, I’d like some more friends this year. Real ones.

 

It’s been one hell of a year guys. And I hope you stick around for 2014. It’s going to get interesting. That I can promise you.

Until next time, good luck and have fun.

-rks

(PS Just not too much fun tonight 😉 )

 

 

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Solstice by Starlight

New Project!

I’m really excited about this new project I’m working on. You see, I recently saw a Facebook post about the “Writers of the Future” contest. I’ve heard about it before, but I realized the deadline for this quarter’s version is December 31st, which isn’t too far away. So, I decided to put “What Lies Beyond” on a brief hold while I work on this new short story I’m calling “Solstice by Starlight.”

What is it, you ask?

It’s the story of how Pauline became Ak’s apprentice, happening 4 years before the events of Soul of the Scribe. Ak just began writing again and despite his wish, the Elder Council of Scribes has decided to saddle him with a young eleven year old girl as an apprentice just as the Winter Solstice festival begins.

However, as you may or may not know, all of the “Crafters of Taylin” stories are done in first person. It’s important to the magic system that I have a direct perspective into the character’s head. Of course, while it allows me to delve deeply into a character’s beliefs, motives, thoughts and feelings, it limits me. And therein lies the true challenge.

I’m going to do this story from Pauline’s perspective, which makes her the fourth perspective character I’ve done. And this is also the fifth story within the Crafters of the Taylin Universe.

Chronologically…

  1. Solstice by Starlight
  2. Soul of the Scribe
  3. In the Corridors of Light and Dreams
  4. The Sun Eagle’s Wake
  5. What Lies Beyond Magic and Steam

This one I really hope will be a true short story. And if I manage to stay focused on Ak and Pauline, I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be. Right now, I’m developing the holiday itself. I’m trying to figure out why the Winter Solstice is a big deal. And ironically, I’m taking a page from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

Now don’t tune out here. It’s important. “Hearth’s Warming Eve” was a huge episode for me, showing me the depth of storytelling that the writers will go to. Instead of sending the Ponies to help out Santa or fight the Grinch or the usual sort of saturday morning cartoon Christmas stuff, we get the history of Equestria itself and how the three races finally learned to work together despite the hatred and stubbornness of their leaders. We get an enormous pageant, a beautiful song and the true history of how this nation of ponies came to be.

That’s what I’m looking for. Something that fits into the mythos and culture of Taylin, not just a cop out. Patrick Routhfuss did a great job of this in Name of the Wind in describing the holiday regarding TehluFrankly, I wanted to find some better information on it since it’s been a while since I’ve read it, but I couldn’t find any good wikis that describe the holiday, which was rather surprising.

Anyway, I might even through just a bit of Christmas Carol into it. At that point in Ak’s life, it seems only fitting.

More Sound Things

I rather sick of this entire situation, so I’ll be brief. Don’t buy Incase products if you expect to have a warranty offered.

I purchased a wonderful pair of Sonic headphones from them a few months ago. Now, I adored these headphones. They totally blocked out all sound around me. Made things wonderful for me to write…and gaming with them on was godly. I utterly ADORED them. However, the left side was starting to go out, forcing me to jam the cable in certain angles to get it to work. So after dragging my feet a little, I send them out for warranty replacement, spending about $20 on shipping them out.

Only one problem. They’re out of them. And they’re discontinued. So…they can’t replace them for me. Now, off the bat, they offer a full refund on the headphones (which were $50 because I got them on sale), but refuse to refund the shipping costs. Now they didn’t tell me about this. I call them and chew them out, but there’s nothing to be done. I get an email this morning saying they’ll give me a credit on the shipping costs for their website if I can provide a receipt.

I gave them the receipt…but told them frankly that wasn’t good enough. I wanted that refunded back to my card. I told them spending $20 to have $50 returned when they didn’t even mention they were out of stock was a little screwed up. And I told them to talk to a supervisor. And if they still refuse, go ahead and give me store credit. It doesn’t matter, because I’ll never buy from Incase again after it.

I’m still ticked off about it honesty. I hope they just do the right thing. I’d prefer a pair of new headphones honestly, because those things were so insanely comfortable. I need them for writing, to help me focus. However, my Dad’s wife suggested that be my Christmas gift from them…a replacement pair of headphones, just to help me out and cut down on my stress. It was very kind of them.

Party!

We had Caitlyn’s birthday this last Sunday and it went very well. We had three families there…something like that and everyone had a really good time chatting and talking and having fun. Caitlyn went a little nuts there…but that’s okay, because I went nuts with the Pony decorations. We had Pony cupcakes (Bling Bag Ponies) a large Pony Cake (with the Mane 6 on purple frosting), an enormous Pony balloon bouquet featuring a massive Rainbow Dash as big as Caitlyn, a huge 6 ft tall wall decal celebrating Happy Birthday, Pony plates, tablecloth, cups and napkins and finally a huge Pony banner saying HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY. It was AWESOME. Most of the stuff is still up actually. 🙂

Caitlyn got some good stuff and she seems happy with it. If you’re following me on Facebook, you’ve probably already seen some pictures of her on her new single-person trampoline.

It was a great time had by all, even if everyone I wanted didn’t show. That’s okay…because if we had more people, it probably would have been too much anyway! We had six kids in our little two bedroom condo with six adults. And it worked great.

Best part? The winning gift was a Disney Princess sliding phone that everyone wanted to play with…boys and girls…especially since everyone else was boys! Caitlyn and Tali were the only girls…and Tali slept the entire time. 😀

Life, the Universe and Everything

And then there’s Skyrim. I’m having WAY too much fun with this. I’ve set Valla, my Nord maiden with all sorts of cool mods. She’s currently dual-wielding violet lightsabers while wearing N7 armor. 🙂 Heh. It’s great stuff. I love it. I just finished the College of Winterhold quest line and became Arch-Mage last night. Good final boss fight too. That was a challenge. I also love the house-building aspect of it and I’m looking forward to actually buying all three of the land plots available from the Hearthfire DLC.

Other than that, I’m in my Week of Dreams, so I’m sleeping terribly. I wanted to sleep in this morning, but both Tali and Caitlyn ended up screaming at the top of their lungs just as I was going to go back to sleep. Just not fair sometimes. Bleh.

Well, I should go get some lunch now. Laura’s joining my for my therapist appointment today at 1PM. Need to be all ready and stuff.

Oh wait! We need some Pony stuff, don’t we?

Seems appropriate, doesn’t it?

Good luck and have fun folks!

-rks

The Real Life Strikes Back!

Real Life Strikes!

Well, I don’t honestly have a lot to report this week. I’ve been inundated with real life stuff and have had very little time to write. And that’s been eating at me. A lot. I’ve spent a ton of time working on other parts though, including finishing my Taylin map (at least to some degree) and working with Aeon Timeline (part of the NaNoWriMo winner things) to come up with a good timeline for the Taylin world. It’s 15,000 years old, after all.

Aeon Timeline isn’t the easiest program to be use. I’ll be honest, there’s a substantial learning curve. In truth, I think what I need it for isn’t really what it’s designed for. I remember trying it out for The Orion Project. And for the record, when trying to deal with multiple timelines having to do with temporal changes is something that the program just completely fails at.

However, I doubt Time Travel stories is Aeon Timeline’s primary target.

Skyrim

No, this week, I’ve been doing two things. First, I’ve been enjoying SKYRIM on the PC. Now, I played this on the Xbox 360 a bit and just couldn’t get into it. However, Skyrim on the computer is a different story. Why? MODS! I’m totally in love with the sheer amount of awesome detail Skyrim mods have. I can have a rebuilt airship as a home with every sort of crafting tool? Yes please. I can craft boxes and bags and bandoliers, not only for myself but for my companions? Oh HELL yes. And the companion system? Awesome…especially with more mods.

Way too much fun. Seriously.

A/V

The other big project? Last week I talked a lot about the new sound system I was going to get. Well, ironically, I didn’t end up getting the speakers. You see, UPS lost them…

So when I got my receiver, I didn’t want to go without speakers, so I just hooked up my existing JVC speakers and realized they sounded great. A lot better than they used to. After one night, I realized I didn’t need new speakers at all! I just needed some good re-wiring and a new sub.

Now, I had my eye on a subwoofer on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. It was the Polk Audio PSW10 10-Inch Monitor Series Powered Subwoofer. I was pretty frustrated about the disappearance of the Yamaha speakers and I asked Amazon through their customer support for the pricing for the subwoofer (it was $69 for a unit that goes for about $240 normally. This sub was also the highest rated and best seller in it’s class on Amazon at present). They turned me down with a rather foolish tale about them not being able to honor “Lightning Deals” after the fact (it wasn’t a lightning deal, it was a Cyber Monday special).

That day I find a great deal on a Yamaha subwoofer on Craigslist. Friendly guy, seems honest. Heck, his daughter had a birthday the same week mine did! So I make plans to get together with him in Brea on Monday. I contact Amazon, telling them that I’ve decided to go another route with all of this and I want a refund on the speakers that never came (they offered to overnight me a new set or just refund it).

I wake up in the morning to a new email…offering to give me the Polk Audio sub for the price I wanted.

*Sigh*

So I contact the Craigslist guy, thank him and decide to go with the Amazon subwoofer and get next day shipping.

And then I get a text from UPS saying that my Yamaha speaker set will arrive later the day. I get an email from Amazon telling me to refuse delivery and they’ll handle it. The next time I open my front door…a 5.1 Yamaha Speaker set is sitting on my porch.

*Double sigh*

The good news of all of this chaos? I got the Polk Audio system today and set it up. The music is glorious.

In fact…it’s EPIC.

And of course, I test it out using this amazing piece…

Seriously, listen to it. It’s freaking amazing.

And my expression upon listening to it?

SO AWESOME

Pretty much sums it up. Even better watching “Daring Don’t.” 🙂

I’m happy with it. I’m also just happy it’s done.

Okay folks, I’ll be honest. I’m fading out here. I’m super tired. Been up too late with a combination of converting a bunch of my DVDs to digital format and playing too much Skyrim.

Other Stuff

Laura’s been feeling under the weather. So bad that we had to move Caitlyn’s birthday party one week. Sinus infection. Bleh. Caitlyn’s actual birthday was spent doing a few things. I took her to IHOP and we watched “Princess Twilight Sparkle” on my iPad while enjoying pancakes, eggs and bacon. And then we watched some Pony when we got home and finally went to see Despicable Me 2 at a budget theater. First time at a theater. She loved the popcorn…and sitting in my lap or Laura’s lap. And Tali did really well there. 🙂

The real party is this Sunday. 🙂

Other things…other things…oh yeah. I had to get both the power steering pump and the power steering hose replaced on poor Kasumi, my 1999 Honda Accord. I also have only 1MM left on my brakes, my alignment is horrid and my two front tires are ready to totally go out. So I’ll be replacing my brakes on Friday and doing my tires on Saturday.

I hate car stuff, especially since I just had my radiator redone a few months ago.

One Final Writing Note

I’ll be taking charge and starting a Critique Group with the OC Writers this January. I’m looking forward to it. Should be pretty darn good. 🙂

And that’s all I can think of at the moment. So I’ll leave you with the latest AWESOME outing by Jan Animations, the god-like animator for Button’s Adventures with his own version of…”Don’t Mine At Night.”

This guy is freaking AMAZING.

Good night folks. I’ll be playing a bit more Mass Effect to test out my speaker system. 😉

Good luck and have fun!

-rks

NaNoWriMo Status: Victorious^4

National Novel Writing Month 2013

Well, let’s talk about the most important thing first shall we? After all, this is supposed to be a writing blog.

For the fourth year running, I have claimed victory in National Novel Writing Month. I’ve even already added my badge which you can see to your right if you’re on my main page.

Here are the stats:

Novel Name: “The Crafters of Taylin: Book III – Between Magic and Steam” by Ryan K. Stansifer

50,000th word: “Shall”
Final sentence: “…Vreen’neba nodded. “Head to gardens at the rear of the building. I shall summon an Elder Guide for you. They should be with you within a quarter bell.”…”
Characters: 278,510
Pages (paperback): 133
Pages (printed): 236

Date Completed: November 27, 2013
Time Completed: 4:02PM

Special Note: For some reason, when I first hit 50K and posted it into the verification program on the NaNoWriMo website, it showed that I was 300 words short! So I had to work for another little bit before I actually won. 🙂

And for the first time, I have donated to NaNoWriMo and purchased a Winner shirt too. I thought considering my circumstances, I needed a little reminder that I managed to pull this off.

I’ve been working on it on and off since then. I’ve taken a few days off, but today I punched out over 2200 words and I’ll admit it felt really good to do that. I want this story to move along. It feels different with this story. I feel like I have some serious momentum…and that it’s going places. I do worry I’m spending a bit too much time gawking at the scenery, but we’ll see. I’ve been told I often skimp on that, so maybe I’m just fixing it now.

Anyway, that’s the big thing. Huzzah!

And just for fun…here’s a Wordle Word Cloud of it!

NaNoWriMo 13 Word Cloud

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

This was a little something I got myself this week during a few of the Steam sales. I’ve been wanting to play this game for a while now and I found I enjoyed it. In fact, after finishing it, I decided to do a rough review of it, just for fun. I’ll post this in the Gaming Section later.

Review of The Force Unleashed II. (Warning: Minor spoilers to follow)

Well, I just finished Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II. I liked it. And I know the true purpose of this game was really to feel as if you had complete and total control over the Force…and then some. In truth, to become a wrecking ball of Force Power. And I felt that sense. It was pretty freaking amazing. The sequence at the beginning of “The Return” was just amazing and audacious as hell. The boss fight when going after Kota? Even more amazing.

The cons though? Far and away the game felt too short. According to my playthrough, it was a little more than 9 hours. Now, it’s been some time since I played the original (which was just as fun), but I felt that this was a lot shorter. I also felt a little disappointed by the lack of environments. The fact that you don’t ever actually face off against Boba Fett bothers me. I felt like I missed an entire level.

And there were a few points where the combat was hard. I know they were going for the “special moves” style but while I played it on a 27” iMac on Boot Camp, I often didn’t see the special move button until it was too late. I often found myself just punching the random buttons I’d seen them to be and hoping I got lucky.

The story was solid…for the most part. But some questions are never answered…especially regarding what happened with Juno at the end. (I don’t think that’s too much of a spoiler). And the ending was a bit too much of a cliffhanger for me…especially since what we see at the end is obviously not the end result before the events of Episode IV. What can I say? I’m big into continuity (I remember the first one was an excellent example of working perfectly within the canon established by the movies).

Characters were pretty good. Starkiller was a bit…one sided, but the voice actor did a great job delivering those lines with the passion that was needed. Kota was a great version of a Jedi General we don’t often see…the rough and tumble brawling Jedi. Vader’s voice? Pretty darn close to the original James Earl Jones…as was his dialogue.

There’s only one hiccup…I think there was actually a choice at the end of the game…as I saw it for a brief second…but I think for some reason my version of the game (Steam) skipped it. Huh.

All in all, probably give it a 7/10.

Gaming Expanded

I enjoyed the double XP weekend in SW:ToR in the last few days. I managed to hit 45 with Jedi Lyssinna and took down the “Fallen” story quest line.

Haven’t played WoW much. But there are some other games I’m looking forward to playing soon. I’ll let you know what’s active next week. 🙂

I did also finish Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Now this? This was freaking fantastic. I loved it. I loved every freaking moment of it. It was a hell of a ride. That one requires a lot more time to give the story its due, so I’m not doing a review right now. But if I had to give it a score right now it would probably be a 10/10. Even better than the original. I can’t wait to get my hands on Uncharted 3.

New Equipment

Well, I don’t know if I mentioned this last week or not, but I ended up getting an Apple TV recently. I was pretty much forced to do it when I discovered that my Mac Mini 2009 would not play any DRM-enabled purchased content from the iTunes Store. I tried troubleshooting it for quite some time until I found that there was just nothing I could do. I couldn’t even find a single reference to the issue. I tried AirPlay, but that didn’t work either. The only way I could have fixed it was to remove the DRM from the episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and I didn’t want to do that. I could have gotten a refund on it, but in the end, I decided another solution was better. So we got an Apple TV which I found to be a better idea anyway. It takes the strain off of the poor aging Mac Mini and I’ve found I really enjoy the true AirPlay capabilities of it, along with the cool ability to do slideshows while playing music. The interface is clean and easy to use, though I did have some trouble with iTunes Match (which I got along with it).

However, this has led to another thing. I’ve been having serious issues with my sound system. When I played ME3: Citadel a couple weeks ago, during the fight scenes, the audio started to become severely garbled. We’ve had situations where the dialogue suddenly drops out from the sound, leaving only the music and sound effects. Or it might just die entirely. It’s all very random. In truth, the system is at least 8 years old now and it’s finally starting to show its age.

Our current sound system is JVC TH-C6. If you’re curious, you can find the old CNET review here. It was a very highly rated system and has served us great. In fact, the way I got it is pretty funny.

I used to work for the CompUSA in Reno, Nevada. Now while there, I was our Lead Merchandiser. I was in charge of sales, special sales, clearances and more. I single-handedly made our Gaming Department the ONLY profitable gaming department for stores in our region. Now, we had one of these things on demo, but one of the standing speakers was broken. And while searching our back stock, I realized we had one new in the box. The unit by then was what we called -N66 status, which is pretty much the deepest level of discontinued we got. So I went to my store manager, told him we had just a couple left and I wanted to blow them out at $100. He agreed…and I immediately bought the new one in the box. Now, according to what I can find, this unit usually sold for something like $400+. So yeah, I got it as a freaking steal.

Ah…good times.

Anyway, it’s time to retire the good old boy. And after taking an enormous amount of time researching things, I’ve decided on the Sony STR-DH540 5.2 Channel 4K AV Receiver 725 Watt Receiver and the Yamaha NS-SP1800BL 5.1-Channel Home Theater Speaker System to replace it. Hopefully these will turn out well. There’s also the possibility that a family member might be able to get something even more awesome, but since it’s Cyber Monday, I want to grab these deals before they vanish. If they come up with something better, I’ll return it. The sound is just getting so awful, but I want to get something that’s going to last me for a good long while and it looks like these things will.

Cartography Coasts

Well, I promised you all that I’d give you a guide on how to make cool coasts in Pixelmator, right? Well, I’ll be posting that in the Dreamer section in just a few minutes. Ha! I’m actually making you GO TO MY WEBSITE instead of just reading these emails (if you’re reading by email anyway). If you want to see the difference, check out last week’s post. I’m very happy with how they came out. And I might just give you guys a work-in-progress of the entire map sometime soon!

“Creating Coastlines for Maps in Pixelmator”

That is if I can find more than one person willing to leave a comment that they want to see it. Heh.

Ponies

I can’t wait for the weekend. It’s Caitlyn’s 3rd birthday party. It’s going to be awesome…because it’s Pony themed.

What? Don’t act like you’re surprised.

In fact, have some Pony.

You might also want to watch it on the Hub Network to pump up the ratings a little.

Castle-Mania…Scooby-Doo would be very proud. There’s even a Pony of (Fore)Shadow in it!

Anyway folks, I’ve rambled on for far too long already. If you’re reached this far, you get an invisible secret internet cookie.

Good luck and have fun!

-rks