The Synchronicity War

I have been listening to The Synchronicity War. Initially this was because I saw that it was a free ebook and then I saw it was a $2.99 audio book. The story itself is not original, but as an operational description of fleet and squadron command it is a lot of fun. I stopped listening to it as fiction and started listening to it as documentary. It reminds of the Honor Harrington and Lost Fleet series.

A useful resource for spacecraft design and space navy doctrine.

Update: The action is non-stop. I found myself listening to it even when I only had 10 minutes available and I never do that. It ends with a cliffhanger, but I am going to give myself 48 hours before I impulse buy book two.

Hard time committing to painting ancients armies

I am having a hard time committing to painting my 6mm ancients armies even though I have mostly completed all my other modeling tasks. (There is always some task yet unfinished on everyone's desk or painting table.) These ancients were the first figures I bought since starting miniatures wargaming a few years ago. I have a feeling that my heart is just not in this period yet.

A Blogger Grumble

Slight grumble. For bogging I do like Blogger's simplicity. I also like that with it being part of Google the content is quickly indexed for searching (within the Googleplex, that is). However, the postings editor is low in features and WYSIWYG editor is buggy. Sometimes it is hard to understand how the same company can create Blogger and Google Docs (I like Docs).

The worse part of the editing process is that when you switch between WYSIWYG and HTML editing modes Blogger changes the HTML. Your careful preparation of text, tables, and images in correctly nesting containers gets replaced with a series of HTML break (BR) elements.

It would also be helpful when editing in HTML mode if image references were local to the posting: So the first image is, for example, "image-001.png" rather than "http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-FUkHMJZHKnw/VVisJCRaS_I/AAAAAAAAoQM/Sk0YJw00LkY/s1600/2015-05-16%2B15.52.53.jpg" and the anchor tag leading to the slideshow presentation be equally simple. Overall, the HTML editing experience is not good. But then, I am not their typical user.

The upshot is, unless you want a constant battle, live within the features of the WYSIWYG and accept the fact that sometimes your posting will need to be reentered.

Weekend Workbench

Boxes ... This weekend has been mostly one of tidying up. My 10"x4"x4" cardboard boxes arrived and so is it now time to glue magnets to the inside bottoms for the figures to stand on. Which means that my figures need ferrous metal bases. All of my newer standing figures are on 1" fender washers, but the older standing figures and all mounted figures are on the plastic bases supplied with them. I had considered rebasing the standing figures, but decided that I want to play with them more than rework them. For these I am just going to glue a washer to the bottom. I wish I knew of a source for a thinner ferrous rounds.

For the mounted figures I cut rectangles from a sheet of 0.008" steel. I used a guillotine to make the cuts so it might be possible to find a "scrapbooking" circle punch to solve the problem for foot figures.

Last year I had bought 7"x4"x2" boxes for the same purpose. While I like the smaller boxes their height is not sufficient for mounted or figures holding spears vertically. The spears poke through. I would have prefered 7"x4"x3" boxes, but these don't seem to be available at a reasonable cost. (One of the best tools I have is Amazon Prime. I rarely buy anything from any other online or physical store anymore when what I want can be had from Amazon within a few days. Well worth the yearly subscription cost.)

Boards ... Last year (hum, a pattern) I built a 3'x3' framed board for playing DBA and small skirmish games. This week I decided that it was time to actually put a landscape on it. Since this is not a display board it needs to be flexible for many scenarios. However, I was not going to accept a flat field of felt with creases! I have spent far too much time painting my figures to have them play on such and ugly, non-naturalistic landscape.


My plan is to incorporate into the surface a gentle slope in a, roughly, horseshoe shape. I used a hand sander to scoop out the hollow I wanted, but it was difficult to get the shape right. In part, this was because I would catch the edge of the sander on the surface and the sander would carve out a "cliff" that I did not want. And in part, because making something that looks natural without an example to replicate is a fool's decision. I wanted it completed today and so what I made would have to do. I covered it with felt, ironed before applying, and glued it down with 3M's 77 Super spray adhesive. I will add color to the surface later.

The results are acceptable for a first try. Final judgment will come when I to see how it affects game setup and play.

Note: A non-flat surface of a uniform color is impossible to photograph!

Paints ... Assembling before painting the Large Earth Elemental was a mistake. There is no way I can get under the arms to paint them and the torso correctly. So it found itself in a bath of Simple Green after removing the arms with Super Solvent. I kept the head attached.

Now primed, I am ready to paint. I like the instructions at Painting Rocks Step by Step for painting stones.

Space fleet action games

I want to play a space fleet action game. I like what I am hearing about the new Star Wars: Armada, but it seems that there are too few models available today to make for an interesting variety of game play. However, in the end, I would rather have less specific models that can be played with many different game rules. And so I have been thinking about ships and design issues.

The Wikipedia page Interstellar Travel and the blog posting Spaceship Design 101 and its commentary are good places to start. Engines, radiation protection, heat dissipation, and life support seem to be the primary factors driving (real life) designs. Each factor helping to solve problems with the others: An annealed solution. But I still want cool models!

The web has a huge amount of creative work in this area being shared. If you look on Deviant Art or Pinterest for spacecraft you will find far more than you can reasonably review, especially without a plan. My current plan is to pick a rule set's ship design section and then using the point values for ship capabilities & capacities determine a visual volume of their sizes. For example, Warcosm has the following sized ships:

Typical ClassificationModulesNovas
Pinnace1010
Cutter2525
Corvette4050
Frigate50100
Destroyer60150
Cruiser75200
Battleship85300
Carrier100400
Dreadnought120500

I have then used this to calculate volumes with the proportions of length × width × height = 5n × 2n × 1n. I then use 123D Design to look at them and make an esthetic judgement about the relationships between the ships at high and low point size. For example, here are a horizontal and vertical Dreadnought next to a Cruiser and a Pinnace.

The question now is do the size differences look right?

Weekend Workbench

The family and I just came back from a week's vacation and so not much modeling has happened this weekend. I did, however, clean, assemble, and prime a Bones Large Earth Elemental for use with my VSF Rugged Constabulary. I also prepared a small pile of rocks so that I can test painting techniques before committing them to the elemental. (Yes, I am painting rocks to look like rocks.)

Update: Am disassembling & stripping the Elemental. Having the arms in place will make painting him difficult. I am also not happy with the primer (Vallejo) -- it remains tacky even after weeks of drying.

Weekend Workbench Workbench

I did not finish it until today, but I did start it on Sunday. We needed (or I wanted) a heavy duty workbench for outside projects. Most of the wood has been sitting in the bulkhead this winter and Sunday was the day to start building.

The problem now is that it is so heavy I will need both sons to move it.

Weekend Workbench

This weekend I assembled one of the row-houses I lasercut some weeks ago. The following is a short tutorial for the Wednesday Gamers to assemble their own.

To assemble a row-house you only need white glue and a careful hand. However, having a collection of Lego available for making jigs for ensuring square corners is very helpful.
There are two tools that you will likely need to create. The first tool is used to apply pressure around the perimeter of the house as it is drying.
The second tool is used to apply the window stone work. This will be shown later.

To help keep track of parts, place each part from the polybag on to the parts diagrams. Extra diagrams are available at parts diagram 1 and parts diagram 2. (Note that there are extra parts that were part of the original design and no longer needed.)

First create the roof. Take the gable end and chimney parts and glue them together as shown. Note that all edges face the sides of the building. It is expected that the buildings will be place in a row and so the building's sides will not been seen as much.
The roof is supported by the two gable ends and by two internal rafters. Glue each rafter so that the rafter's peak aligns with the roof's top edge. (The top edge is the one with the notches for the chimneys.) The rafters are placed 1 1/4" from each side.
Once the gable ends are dry then assemble the roof. (Note that chimney parts do not connect well to the roof. This is a design mistake.)
Finish off the chimneys with their tops. (This can be done when assembling the gable ends too.) Note that a couple of coats of white glue over the tops will help hide the seams.
The row-house has three floors. The first floor has 3 windows and a door per side. The second floor has 4 windows per side. The third floor has 4 windows per side. It is important to note that the third floor is shorter than the other floors. So pick your parts carefully.

Each floor is assembled in the same way. A front and a side are glued together.

 
While these are drying prepare the floor. The floor is raised 1/16" within the walls. Glue to each corner the L-shaped raisers. Note that when the floor is glued to the sides the raises are underneath.
Now glue the two front and side parts together and to the floor. I found it is best to apply a lot of glue to the edge of the floor and the edge of the walls and then push the walls to the floor. The perimeter tool is now used. It surrounds the walls and is angled upwards at a corner so as to apply equal pressure to each wall. 
With the perimeter tool in place your hands are free to adjust the upper parts of the wall so that they align and are square. Again, corner jigs made with Lego are helpful.

Your row-house is will look like this at is point.
Finish assembling the floors. Your row-house is almost complete.
At this point, the building is not stable. The roof and the floors sitting upon the one below and so a small bump to them or the table with topple them.

The reason why the floors were raised is to allow room for the alignment tabs. Add the alignment tabs to the second and third floors.

 Add alignment tabs to the roof.
The last step is to apply the window and door stonework. This task can be very fiddly, but is made less so with a small tool. This tool is assembled from the portion of the window that was cut out, glued to a slightly wider rectangle, and a handle is added to the back. (The window part is in the polybag and has the letter W written on it.)
Now a window's stonework can be place on the tool, glue added to the stonework with a brush, and the stonework is push into the window's opening. A stiff brush is used to push the stonework against the wall.
This is a slightly better design for this tool:
video
 With the window and door stonework applied the row-house is ready for painting.
END


Welsh & Vikings completed

And so the now completed armies of the Welsh and the Vikings head off into battle (or, more likely, small boxes for safe keeping).

Weekend Workbench

I am almost done with my Welsh and my Vikings. I only need now to put on a coat of matt varnish to finish them. Unfortunately, I need to wait until the weather warms up and the rains subside. Perhaps by then I may come to prefer their sheen.

While I wait for the weather to change, I have to organize the the parts to my row houses that I laser-cut a few weeks ago. The task is to take a pile of parts and organize them into baggies of parts for my friends to then assemble.
Update: Done. Nine houses with only 3 sets of the same missing part, which, luckily, is optional for construction.

Externalizable needs a serialVersionUID too.

Yesterday I learned that even if your Java class serializes via java.io.Externalizable, so giving the class complete control over the marshaling and unmarshaling of the data, you must still defined a serialVersionUID or Java will create one for you. As methods signatures are included in the calculation of serialVersionUID my newly added method caused the creation of a different version id and so, unexpectedly, the marshaled data on the wire was incompatible. To fix the problem I just needed to define serialVersionUID to be the calculated version prior to my addition of the method. Luckily, the log contained the version number I needed!

Laws for my children to learn sooner than later.

Parkinson's Law: Work fills the time allotted.

Gilmartin's Law: Time taken from work for play will be returned with time taken from play for work at the end of the project.

I need something pithier for Gilmartin's law. Suggestions will be well received.

Weekend Workbench

During the week I prepared the bases with sand glued and mounded around the figure's base. I then painted it. I first made the mistake of preparing with black and then painting with a too dark a green. God, they looked awful. So I asked Chris who is very talented with color for help and she picked out, from the colors I had on hand, Vallejo's 70.605 German Red Brown as a base color and Citadel's Elysian Green for the grass.

The brown was dabbed on with the side of the brush so as to leave some of the prior dark color. Then she dabbed on green in a few areas, again, with the side of the brush. Where there was too much green she dabbed on the brown very lightly. I really like the result.

Also on the workbench are some very small, rough cottages for my son's medieval castle diorama. We will see how far a little spackle, paint, and dried grass stalks will take us!

No stories worth retelling

I enjoy listening to The Moth, I highly recommended to all feeling people, except that I often become glum afterwards as I have no exciting stories to tell. Software development contains no stories worth retelling.

Weekend workbench

Weekend workbench. 8 Strathclyde Welsh, 1 Welsh mounted warlord, 1 "chubby" Welsh warlord, and 4 Jomsvikings. (The horses were painting a few weekends ago.) All figures are Gripping Beast metals.

Menus and vertical space

I have a dream that one day a webapp's drop-down & pop-up menu takes up the full vertical space available. [Old developer now hurriedly searching for reference within Inside Macintosh.]

Thunderplot

Thunderplot looks to be a useful tool for quick plots. I copied some log data from a terminal window and pasted it into Thunderplot. There was no need for an intermediate file. Thunderplot found columns of integer numbers. I then plotted two line graphs from two of the columns. Calculations on the columnar data is available.

And today it is priced at $2.