PAX Prime 2012 Review

I came back from Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) on Monday and I thought I would give a little writeup on how it went.

At PAX you are surrounded by thousands and thousands of gamers. Computer gamers, console gamers, card gamers, role playing gamers, dice gamers and so on. It really does not matter what kind of a gamer you are. You could even just be the casual gamer and still find a place at this convention. You can easily talk to anyone at PAX about any aspect of gaming you want too. It’s such a friendly and fun atmosphere. This is why I have gone for the last three years.

While at the convention I picked up the following items.

Hannah wearing a ‘Cards Against Humanity’ T-Shirt. She found to answer t-shirts to go with hers.

Cards Against Humanity which is an adult card game much like Apples to Apples. Just for adults. The tag line is “A Card Game For Horrible People”. So many people were playing this all throughout PAX and laughing hard while playing it that I had to pick up my own copy of the game. Cards Against Humanity started off as a free game and still is free. You can download the free PDF and print off your own cards. After a while they started a Kickstarter project to have official cards made. Now you can buy your own like I did thanks to the people who helped fund their kickstarter project.

Smallworld – Be Not Afraid… Expansion. Smallworld is a great board game I have been playing with friends for a while now. I was stoked to find this expansion for the game and can’t wait to play a game using it.

Pathfinder: Ultimate Equipment is a new Pathfinder Roleplaying Game book with all kinds of Weapons, magic items, armor and much more. This is going to be such a useful tool for me when planning out adventures in my own Pathfinder game.

I was disappointed that TECMO/Team Ninja’s Dead or Alive 5 did not have a booth. This is one of my all time favorite video games and I have been looking forward to part fives release for over a year now. The last edition of the game was not available for the PS3. This version is and I am stoked to get back into it.

I was pretty impressed with Nintendo’s Wii U showing on the convention floor. The graphics are way improved and the controls were pretty neat. Now they just need games that support the new hardware in unique ways.

PAX rocks and I am looking forward to next year.


Ever since the Curiosity rover left our planet last November on it’s mission to Mars, I have been waiting with much anticipation for it’s landing on the red planet. Last Sunday the wait ended with the Curiosity rover’s landing on Mars. From what I have been reading and watching on the internet It appears the landing went off with out a hitch.

Hannah and I stayed up late on Sunday night to watch the NASA USTREAM of the landing. Here is a recap of the broadcast.

The landing on Mars was an amazing event to watch and I feel lucky that Hannah and I got to watch it together. After things calmed down, I could not help but noticed the abundance of Apple MacBook Pros everyone was using at NASA. Which lead me to post the following on Google+.

And then I created a meme from the post.

Since that Sunday we have had some more photos from Mars that are quite stunning. Its amazing what we can accomplished as a people when we work together for a common goal.

iBooks Authoring and Me

ibooks authoringNot long ago Apple introduced a book authoring program called ‘iBooks Authoring’. Its an application that makes publishing books to the Apple iBooks store a whole lot easier. One of the reasons my book ALL THAT MATTERS was not published to the iBooks store was because of how difficult it was to do so. To solve this problem Apple has made an application that will make the whole process of publishing to their store easier.

When I checked out the application on the Mac App store the other day I saw loads of comments from people who have already used it publish their own books and that it was very easy.

But will I use it?

The answer is yes and no.

I will use ‘iBooks Authoring’ to post ALL THAT MATTERS so it will finally be available on the Apple iBooks store. I plan to do that as soon as I am done writing MIRROR IN TIME. While I have been writing my second book, I have been planing in the back of my head to hire a third party to code out the book for the Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and other e-book readers. Coding out the first book took up a lot of my time and I just assume put that in someone else’s hands who has more experience than me at doing it.

More Stargazers’s World Posts

Here are some more posts I have written for the RPG site Stargazer’s World.

  1. Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition Gamemaster’s Kit Unboxing
  2. Castles & Crusades Unboxing
  3. Follow up Castles & Crusades Unboxing (Now with Moving Pictures!)
  4. A Non-Review of Mutants & Masterminds/DC Adventures
  5. DC Adventures Heroes and Villains Volume 1 Unboxing
  6. Searching For The Best RPG

Lossless Audio

I really love music. All of my life music has played a big part in it. I remember at a very young age listening to vinyl records on my father’s Sony turntable home stereo system. I would listening to records for hours and hours. When CDs first came out I started buying them. To this day I still buy CDs and have a pretty large collection.

When MP3s started to make an appearance in the 90s they had one large advantage for the causal listener and one large disadvantage. The advantage being that file size of an MP3 file was is very small. You could store hundreds of MP3 encoded songs on one CD. This was huge and lead the way for music players like the Apple iPod.

The big disadvantage to MP3s for people like me was that since the audio was compressed to be a smaller file size you could hear the compression or the missing audio data when listening to an MP3. This drove me nuts!

I have friends that to this day swear up and down they can not tell the difference when listening to a song on a CD or when listening to the same exact song from an MP3 file. To me the differences have always stuck out like a sore thumb. Which at times I can’t even believe since I have been a rock drummer for so many years and I have to be experiencing some form of hearing loss by now.

So, because I can tell the difference between the lower quality audio as a result of an MP3 file and a CD I have just always bought CDs.

Very recently I have been educating myself on the virtues of the Free Lossless Audio Codec, or FLAC for short. Because FLAC is a lossless audio format it sounds just like my CDs sound. I can not tell the difference when I am listening to a FLAC audio file verses listening to the same song on CD. Everything I have educated myself about FLAC says that there really is no audio difference between the CD audio file and the FLAC audio file. The lossless audio codec was specifically designed for audio and the resulting file will drop down to at least 50% if not more of the original audio file from the CD.

So, why do I care about all this? Why don’t I just continue to listen to my CDs? Well, I do still listen to my CDs at home, but we now live in a world with lots of portable devices that were made for our connivance. I would like to take full advantage of my devices.

When Apple announced the iPhone 4S, I ordered one right away. At the same time I started researching FLAC audio files as a solution for my portable music listening pleasure. I found the following FLAC audio encoding guide and FLAC audio player ‘Golden Ear‘ for my iPhone. I also ordered a pair of really great headphones that I can’t say enough good things about right now. Sony Dynamic Stereo Headphones MDR-7506 Professional.

Based on the audio guide I found I started encoding my CDs right away. I received my headphones a few days later and then my iPhone 4S arrived. I purchased and loaded a copy of ‘Golden Ear’ on to my phone and transferred over a few songs to test out the application and my head phones. I was amazed! Every song sounded wonderful and crystal clear. The ‘Golden Ear’ audio player works a lot like iTunes for the iPhone. You have the quick access controls from the home screen as well as a play list of music to scroll through and choose from.

If you are really into audio quality like me, I can tell you I am so happy that I found this solution. I wish I had found it sooner. It would have saved me years of frustration.

What Steve Jobs Ment To Me

Steve JobsIn 1997, I found myself, along with three very close friends of mine, huddled together looking at the glowing screen of an Apple Power Macintosh 5000 series computer in our high school graphic arts class. We where all very different from one another. Brought together because of our shared interests in computers and technology. That glowing computer screen held for me, the most earth shattering and amazing news I had ever read. Steve Jobs was returning to Apple as Interim CEO. The Co-founder of the greatest computer company to ever exist was back to lead the company he help start, and save it from what some where saying at the time was Apple Computer’s last days.

I was really very fortunate to have such great friends like this in high school. While other people our age had their respective hobbies, my three friends and I spent our free time at each others respective houses geeking out at the latest technology news or fiddling with some new piece of hardware we got our hands on.  I have very fond memories of that time.

Steve Jobs’s passing has really affecting me. Much more than I ever though it would. We all knew this day was coming. We all prepared ourselves mentally for it. I have thought long and hard about whether or not I would write a blog post about this. I almost didn’t write anything at all. I didn’t want to come off as too emotional. I thought I could just sit this one out quietly and wait for the moment to pass. But I can’t.

Steve JobsThe news sites have been showing images of people grieving for a man most of them have never met. (I, however was lucky enough to have been in the same room as him.) Flowers and tokens of remembrance have been left outside of Apple’s stores around the world and outside Steve’s home in California. All these people have had a chance to grieve in one way or another. I have not.

Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Apple inc. have directly or indirectly forever changed the world we live in and the technology we use. For me that impact is a personal one. I have always admired Apple and the people who founded the company. From the time I could afford to buy my first computer I have always used Apple products. Steve Jobs was able to take the very ugly world of technology and make it beautiful. He was able to make it easy to use, and user-friendly, and in a world mired with technological chaos, he was able to make it user-friendly for people.

The thought of Steve Jobs no longer over seeing the company that I have grown to love and admire. The thought of the world no longer being able to benefit from his in site and influences leaves me weeping.

I have lost a man I have admired and looked up to all of my life. The world has lost a unique soul that wont soon be replaced.

All I have wanted to do since Steve Jobs passed is to call up my three good friends from high school and take them all out to dinner. I want to have an evening where I can sit down with them and talk about technology and the future just like we used to do in high school. And hopefully be reassured that even though we have all lost an important person in our lives, the fait of the company he help start will live on as faithfully as it ever has.