tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:/posts Matthew Supert 2021-05-02T23:17:54Z Matthew Supert tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1686416 2021-05-02T23:17:54Z 2021-05-02T23:17:54Z Man, I really don't want to go back

The weather is finally starting to come around, people are getting fully vaccinated and I can already see the eagerness in most people's eyes to try and "get back to normal". Despite 2020 being full of different levels of stress for different people, I can't help but feel a bit more anxiety right now more than at any time back in 2020. I missed being able to go on vacation last year and also going out to dinner, but man, do I not want to go back. To be honest, I think I would rather take 2020 again than take pre-covid. I just really do not want to have to interact with people, like at all. 

You know what, last year was the first time in as long as I can remember that I didn't get a bad cold or the flu. I felt like there was something strangely comforting with being home and also knowing that everyone was at home. We all had a taste of seeing the world through the same lens there for a moment, regardless of what your income or social status was. I feel like some of that is going to be lost and in many cases people are trying so hard to get back to the "default" that any sort of learned habits are going to go completely out the window. 

:shrug:

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1671890 2021-03-29T02:32:55Z 2021-03-29T02:32:55Z Book Review: The Murder on the Links
The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another good book in the Hercule Poirot series, although this one isn't quite as brilliant as some of the others I have read. My real issue with this book isn't the mystery at hand. That follows the fairly standard Hercule Poirot "whodunit" formula with twist and turns. For the most part, this was a solid enough entry with that respect, although I did find myself parsing out who the murderer was fairly early on. 

My major issue with this book had to do with the Hastings character. His bungling of major points of evidence throughout the story broke much of the illusion for me. The fact that there was no legal repercussions for someone who lost evidence and then at a later point, potentially harbored a murderer really just doesn't make sense.

I did really enjoy the Giraurd character, mainly because it was fairly evident that he was meant to be a crude version of Sherlock Holmes. It was a nice jab at the two famous characters from this genre.

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1669620 2021-03-23T02:53:57Z 2021-03-23T02:53:57Z Reading: I Really Enjoy Hercule Poirot

I may have mentioned this before online, but the past year or so I have had a really hard time getting into books. One would think with the pandemic in 2020, that last year would have been the ideal time to really get some good reading done. Unfortunately, I really struggled last year to get into anything very deep. 

I was having the same trouble through the first couple months of this year as well, and Megan suggested that I may be in a bit of a rut simply with the types of books I was trying to read. Now, I typically like to read fiction, fantasy specifically, that will give me a bit of escape. I have been just trying to read the same type of thing over and over though and not making any real ground. While talking it came to me that I should dive back into some "whodunit" murder mysteries. I read some Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes stories a few years ago and I really enjoyed them, way more than I would have thought. In fact, Murder on the Orient Express has become one of my favorite books. 

I decided to pickup book #2 in the Poirot series, "The Murder on the Links". So far it has been a delight to read, and I have to laugh at the subtle stabs at Sherlock Holmes that seem to exist in the book.

That brings me though to a website that I want to recommend to everyone. If you have an ereader, I highly suggest you check out Standardebooks.org. It is site that takes public domain books, many of them from Project Gutenberg, re-formats them and puts a cover on the ebook. It is a really nice site and while it is not nearly as comprehensive as Gutenberg, there is a really nice collection of some common books there. I have linked below some books I have picked up there that I have already read and really enjoyed. 

Poirot Series (Books 1-3)

Sherlock Holmes (Books 1-8)

Martian Series (Books 1-4)


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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1664549 2021-03-11T22:25:29Z 2021-03-11T22:25:29Z D&D: Artbreeder.com - AI Generated profiles for D&D and other cool art

I came across what has to be one of the coolest website I have seen in a long time. It is called Artbreeder.com and it utilizes AI to morph and merge images together. You essentially input two parent images and it will create an offspring. There are several categories on the site that you and select from, so I presume the the AI system has been tweaked for each one to get the best results. As you can see from the image above, where I have the portrait system selected, there are some sliders for various features you can select. 

The results are algorithmic, so you don't have any control over the creation. This isn't drawing, but it is an easy way to get an endless amount of good imagery. I have found the portrait mode to be very useful and something you can easily kill a few hours just going down the rabbit hole on. 

The only quirk I have found with the portraits at least, is that they tend to favor very "soft" female features. You also have to pay a fee to upload your own images, which is understandable, if unfortunate. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1651152 2021-02-08T04:00:55Z 2021-02-13T16:33:36Z D&D: Testing Bibisco for D&D and Tabletop RPG Planning

I have spent a long time trying to find the right tool and system for campaign planning for D&D. I posted about my struggles and my approach back in 2019, and I have to say that since that time I never found a perfect setup.  I like to keep my session notes to paper as much as possible, and the Tül notebook has severed me really well, but with the past year going fully online for all of our D&D play, that has shifted my approach and perspective a bit. The notebook works great for my individual session planning, but has proven to be a bit harder to manage long term planning and tracking of multiple narrative arcs. 

I have tried a whole ton of different apps for the past couple of years, ranging from Evernote, to Apple Notes, to Onenote and more. I even tried online systems like World Anvil, Kanka and Obsidian Portal. All of them have left me "wanting" in different ways. 

OneNote was a strong contender for a while and there is an excellent template setup online. Unfortunately my work uses Office 365 and at least when I last checked this out in the spring, there wasn't a way to login to multiple accounts for OneNote on a single device, so writing and development became a bit hard. The OneNote template also looked gorgeous, but I found myself often times fiddling a bit too much with formatting and not actually "writing" the campaign out. 

I also looked quite a bit at the various online systems, such as World Anvil, etc. While I did like them, at the end of the day I just can't pay for another online service. They also never felt "quick enough" for me. I couldn't login and get to the page I wanted to fast enough to just "idea dump" when something came to my mind. 

What I have discovered over the past few weeks though is an application called Bibisco. I have found that it has a really nice breakdown of writing sections that works really well for campaign planning, breaking narrative elements into Scenes. This has worked out really nicely for how my brain approaches my D&D planning. There is too much to breakdown into a single blog post, so I have instead put together a video overview of how I have been using Bibisco over the past month or so. The software isn't perfect, and I try to identify some of its shortcomings, but it has been one of the better fits that I have found to date for D&D planning. 

If the developers take a few notes to improve some areas, it could really become an ideal world building application. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1639340 2021-01-12T22:08:16Z 2021-01-13T16:22:18Z D&D: Testing Out A New Way to Roll Stats - TicTacToe

I have never been a fan of point buy system for D&D stats. I feel it lends itself a bit too much leeway for those people who are obsessed with building the "perfect" character build. I am not saying it is wrong, just I like the idea of D&D having a bit of randomness in everything it does to make the outcomes exciting and unpredictable. Typically I use the Standard Array system, but that admittingly gets pretty boring. There is of course the standard roll and drop method too, where you roll 4d6 dice, and drop the lowest number. You do that six times and add up your scores to get your character's scores. That works fairly well, but it can really skew someone's stats if they end up with even two very high or very poor scores. 

I have seen this "TicTacToe" method online which I sort of like, which should give people an option to not feel "locked in" if their roll and drop doesn't go their way. 

Here is how I understand to do it. Do your standard 4d6 roll and drop the lowest. You do it 9 times instead of 6 and place it into a 3x3 grid in the order you rolled it, left to right, top to bottom. You can then select one row and one column of numbers. They can overlap, but you cannot have your row and column overlap your highest number. This should give you a bit more options for choice and compromise and not have to feel so locked into to just choosing six numbers. It might even have you weighing some options or compromise. Do you take a row that has on really high stat with two low ones, or do you take the other row with all three numbers more balanced? 

So in this example attached I chose the 2nd column and last row, resulting in 16, 15, 15, 12,  9, 8.

I could not choose the 1st column and law row, because that would result in two 16's, which are the highest numbers in this case. Thoughts on this system? 


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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1632671 2021-01-07T04:30:00Z 2021-01-07T03:27:47Z Videogaming: Spiritfarer

Every once in a while I come across a game, a book, a movie, or whatever that absolutely hits me emotionally. More often than not, it hits me in such as way that I had no idea that it was coming. Deadhouse Gates did that to me for books and Blade Runner did that to me for film. Off the time of my head I cannot say that I have been hit so emotionally before by a video game, at least in the sort of emotion that conveys sadness, melancholy, and resolution. 

Spiritfarer is that game for me. An incredibly gorgeous 2D side scroller that has you playings as a Spiritfarer, an entity that guides lost sprits to the Everdoor and to whatever lies beyond. I want to make sure that I convey this game to everyone and its impact without spoiling it, because part of the charm and part of the impact that to conveys to you is the story that unfold as you shepherd souls to the Everdoor. 

The Everdoor is a gate, and quite literally the gate to the afterlife, which lends one to ask, where does the game take place? It doesn't take place in the "living world", as it is made clear to you from the outset that not only are the inhabitants, but you too are in fact deceased. I would guess then that the world is a sort of purgatory or waiting room for the next life. Your job is to help the individuals you come across put closure to their lives and help them pass on.

It all sounds rather dark, but it is wrapped up into a beautiful Animal Crossing style package that presents to you whimsical and loving characters who are all represented as various animals. Keeping on the Animal Crossing theme a bit, there is a community building aspect to the game where you have to gather resources and build your residents homes. 

Where the game really gets to me though is in the story moments, the small snippets of dialog that occur between the Spiritfarer and the various inhabitants. You get a touch into all of the character's lives as they reflect upon their successes and failures when they were alive. It is very touching and each time when you finally shepherd your inhabitants to the Evertdoor to say their final farewell, the moment is bittersweet each time. What makes the game so good though, is that they are able to make each characters goodbye mean something. Some of these characters are easily lovable, while others were no necessarily good people during their life. They were mean, perhaps criminals and sometimes dishonest and failures. In the end though, the characters all seem real based upon how they approach their final moments at the Everdoor based upon all of their past life experiences. Some of them are grateful, some are relieved. Others view the experience with resolve or even outright indifference. It seems true either way and in the end the game tells you in no uncertain terms that the time will come for all of us to eventually say goodbye. It is sad, sometimes tragically so, but it is a lesson that we all need to confront eventually in our lives. 

I came out of this game really reflecting upon the experiences and time you get to have with everyone around you and there were times as I played this game, watching the Spiritrarer say goodbye to a companion, and I had to pause in the reflective and quiet moment. It makes you want to hug that loved one you have nearby because sometimes you never quite know when goodbye comes. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1633064 2020-12-29T00:07:48Z 2020-12-29T00:07:48Z I Finally Decided To Pay For A Music Streaming Service

So I finally did it. I have been resisting for years to get into the reoccurring music payment services that are out there like Spotify and Apple Music. I just don't really want to get int oa $10 a month for eternity system that means I would lose all of my music if I decided to stop paying. For the $10 a month, I would much rather just purchase something to add to my music collection. 

I do pay for iTunes Match, which is $24 a year and absolutely fine for the price to add my existing music library to the cloud for streaming. I am actually surprised there aren't more services that do this. All that being said, I didn't actually pay for the service that everyone may have thought I would. So instead of purchasing Spotify or Apple Music, I instead went with a subscription to DI.FM. What the heck is that you might ask? 

DI.FM is an electronic music streaming radio network. It is a radio network, so there is no music that you download. It is a combination of live radio shows and programed radio shows/playlists with a huge variety of electronic music genres, I think there is something like 50 sub-genre stations to choose form. 

Why would I have done this you ask? Well, it really boils down to the way that I like to listen to my music, The vast majority of my time I am listening to music as a background ritual, either while I am working or doing other hobbies. Of that time while listening, I more often than not want to listen to music that doesn't have any lyrics to it or isn't intrusive. I listen to quite a bit of classical and jazz music in addition to electronic because of that. The thing is, is I don't really need to keep that on my person in almost any scenario, except one, which I will get to in a bit. 

My actual music library is mostly a collection of a few selected albums with lyrics that I really like, with the rest being a goto selection of albums and tracks that fit my original "background playing" intent. The Skyrim soundtrack is always on my playlist by the way. 

The one scenario where I may want to listen to something more comes into play with my motorcycle. Those who know me know that I wasn't a huge fan of having a radio on my motorcycle and up until last year I didn't have one. I didn't even have a bluetooth headset to listen to music to while I rode. That changed a bit when I got my new bike past year and it came with one year of SiriusXM on it. Now, I actually liked SiriusXM quite a bit. Having commercial free radio accessible anywhere in the country was really nice and I was very close  to paying for SiriusXM up until a few months ago, after my subscription expired. The thing is that SiriusXM is kinda expensive. It costs $17 a month, and sure you can find some deals online that take it down to $60 for the year, but that involved haggling and in some cases playing the phone game with them much like you would with Comcast for your cable subscription price. I just have zero interest in doing that. I really only listen to 4-5 stations on SirusXM in any real way, so I couldn't justify that price and hassle. 

Now if I could get it in both my car, my motorcycle and online streaming for $15 a month, I might consider that, but the pricing just doesn't compete against even Spotfy or Apple Music. What SiriusXM did though was solidify how I like to listen to music and that is when I began the rabbit whole of looking for some online streaming services. TuneIn, Pandora, etc. all had a good look. I kept coming back to DI.FM though and what is nice about them is I could stream the entire service for free with commercials. I finally gave in here this past week and decided to go ahead and get a subscription, which only cost me $4 a month, which is more than reasonable for the what they offer. They even offer integration to other services and hardware like Sonos or receivers that have vTuners in them, so that may be worth exploring a bit more. 


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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1628962 2020-12-17T17:55:32Z 2020-12-17T17:55:32Z Year in Books - 2020

It has been a light year of reading for me. I am not quite sure if it is because of the COVID quarantine or not, but I struggled quite a bit this year to really settle into a book that really captured me. A large portion of the books I read this year were through audiobook and I read a surprising about of Sci-Fi. I honestly probably got the most amount of enjoyment from the handful of comics I have read this year, and Hoopla through my local library has been great for that. I think it would definitely be my worthwhile to dig a little bit deeper in a few more of those and find some series that I need to complete. 

Speaking of completing series, I think it is about time that I finally dive into the last book int the Malayan series, the Crippled God. While browsing through my Goodreads list, it occurred to me that I have been working on that series since 2012. I can't believe it has been so long since I read that first book. It is such a good series, but definitely not a light read, which is perhaps why it has taken me so long to get through them. Reading one book a year (they are like 700+ pages each) has been very methodical process. 

I also want to put on my 2021 goals to read through the Lord of the Rings again. I read those books when I was in middle schoo, so it has been 20+ years since I have read those at this point. I would like to go back and revisit them to see if they capture me like they did when I was younger. I re-read the Hobbit a few years ago and actually enjoyed it more as an adult than when I read it as a kid. 


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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1626680 2020-12-11T03:45:20Z 2020-12-11T03:47:08Z D&D Map: Adventures in the Borderland Provinces - The Mountain that Moved - Village of Yandek, Yandek Mines and Blood Boys Ranch

Village of Yandek


Yandek Mines


Blood Boys Range


Additional maps for everyone's enjoyment. These are maps from the third adventure from the "Adventures in the Borderland Provinces" book. These map sets include the Village of Yandek, the Yandek Mines and the Blood Boys ranch. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1622582 2020-11-29T17:46:06Z 2020-11-29T17:48:22Z Book Review: Ancillary Mercy

Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very fitting conclusion to one of my favorite sci-fi series. I know some readers of this series were expecting something more of a grand space opera, with Breq perhaps flying across Radch space to end the wrongs of Anaander Mianaai.

That isn't going to happen here and scope and scale of something so large is unfeasible. Instead the story backs off, and focuses more on the specifics. It is telling Breq's story after all, not the story of the Radch. Through that story we get to see the growth and development of Breq becoming the person that she her self cannot admit that she is. It is that point that the rest of the story hinges upon, and really what so many good sci fi stories do hinge upon. They take a character's personal instances and struggles and extrapolate them out to the broader society in question. In this case that question is, is an AI a "person"? The culmination of this trilogy leads us to that point and question and ends not with the answer, but the posing of the question. Some may find that unsatisfying and to an extent, it is. But we are left with the satisfaction of Breq and her position in the world and that her crew and everyone she comes across does care about her.

I came away incredibly satisfied with Breq as a character and would put her right up there as one of the best written sci fi captains. She is cold, calculating and often times hard on those around her, but incredibly fair. That doesn't mean she isn't emotional. We see quite a bit of emotion internally and it is seen in her actions and care for the citizens of the Radch. She is undoubtedly exactly the type of captain you would want on a military ship and one to lead you into an impossible situation.

I also am completely enamored with the writing of the crew and the Left Lieutenants. It is remarkable to me how much the crew truly cares for their obviously flawed Left Lieutenants. They want to see them succeed in almost every situation. They stand up when need and care for them when it is required. In turn, we see the Lieutenants also reciprocate in their own way. And as always, the propriety of the Radch has captured me to no end. This is a series I would love to see some costume and art designers take a crack at. The gender neutral pronouns used in the culture lend me to believe that this is a society that itself has a gender neutral outward appearance. The descriptions of Radch citizens wearing gloves and jewelry stirs my imagination. Ann Leckie herself has a Q/A post over on Goodreads.com that I will quote.

"...I don't think I've ever said that Radchaai are gender neutral--just that they really don't care about anyone's gender, and don't mark it socially or linguistically... it's not really a thing they care much about. They care about it, maybe, as much as we care about hair color.

[I] think it's worth considering...how much of what we consider to be "obvious" about someone's gender when we look at them is actually a set of social cues. Hairstyle, kinds of clothes, even certain colors of clothing. Ways of standing or moving. These can change from culture to culture, or even from decade to decade (just a couple hundred years ago, high heels and hose were a guy thing. Less than a hundred years ago, pink was a "boy" color.)... And consider that while quite a lot of people will say that one's genitals are the defining element of one's gender, we very rarely see the genitals of the people we quite automatically assign gender to. We're not actually gendering the people around us based on their genitals. We're making assumptions about their genitals based on a complicated mass of social cues."

With that, I will say that I hope we get more from this series and this world and could you please prepare some tea.

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1613924 2020-11-08T17:10:36Z 2020-11-10T01:42:20Z Book Review: The Monsters Know What They Are Doing
The Monsters Know What They're Doing: Combat Tactics for Dungeon Masters by Keith Ammann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a really hard book to rate. It isn't a book of stories or any narrative really. It is a collection of blog posts that provide a description/recommendation on how to run each monster in D&D. On that front this book is very successful. The insight and writing is very well put together and I really learned quite a bit on how to approach encounters.

The real complaint I have with this book is the formatting and layout. This is really a reference book. Unfortunately, the layout and formatting doesn't lend it to be used as a reference book. The book is laid out in "chapters" and a narrative style. I think if the book was formatted more in a dictionary format, two columns per page and with an in-depth index, this could be infinitely more useful for Dungeon Masters to utilize.

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1608104 2020-10-24T21:04:01Z 2020-10-24T21:17:29Z Book Review: Finder
Finder by Suzanne Palmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a really fun read. A fun, light sci-fi adventure following Fergus Ferguson as he finds himself caught up in adventure too large for the likes of him while at the same time only solvable by him.

There is nothing heavy or overly sciencey about this book. It is almost like a pulp fiction novel, putting the sense of fun ahead of any sort of realism. The cast of characters is just as enjoyable as the main character, with people who inevitably end up loving and hating Fergus at the same time. Think of a Han Solo or Rick O'Donnell and everything around that notion. Humor mixed with dumb luck.

If I had any critique of this book, it would be the almost innumerable amount of Deux Ex Machina situations with Fergus and his endless bank account somehow always pulling out ahead. It could have very easily made the book an "eye roller", but somehow Suzanne Palmer is able to make it work and still have the reader rooting for our self deprecating hero through each misadventure. If you can let that go and let the story take you for a ride, you almost have to enjoy this book.

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1599700 2020-10-02T03:01:52Z 2020-10-02T03:23:56Z D&D Map: Adventures in the Borderland Provinces - On a Lonely Road - Temple Map

Utilizing Dungeondraft, here is my interpretation of the Temple Map from the On a Lonely Road adventure from the Adventures in the Borderland Provinces

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1591817 2020-09-07T03:20:41Z 2020-09-07T03:20:42Z One Year with the 1250RT

It has been just over a year since I have now had the 1250RT. Just over 11,000 miles now that I have had this bike and I have to say that I have absolutely loved the bike so far. I used to think that My 1200R was going to be the bike that I kept forever, but as you know from my posts last summer, it was just getting to be a bit too uncomfortable with the riding position. I have come to realize that more and more of my riding is long weekend rides and I unfortunately fo not have much opportunity for community on the bike due to my job. 

The amenities that the touring bike has brought have been a surprising and welcome addition that I didn't think I really needed prior to this point. Cruise control alone is worth is the worth the price of entry. It is one of those added additions that I never really thought I would have needed. I am also really enamored with the quick shifting mechanism on the bike. 

Like I said, I have a 11,000 miles on it since I got it last August, which is probably the most miles I have put on a bike in a single year. The most recent 5500 mile certainly helped, but I would not have been able to complete that trip riding the 1200R unfortunately. 

My only real complaint at this point about the bike is that it actually has too much wind protection and I am absolutely roasting on those hot July and August days in the heat. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1586283 2020-08-24T03:01:12Z 2020-08-24T03:04:12Z Ridelog: Northwest 2020

Longest ride I have ever done, covering 5,501 miles in ten days. Our MEWS groups called this the "Eat, Sleep, Ride" trip and that was pretty much exactly what it was. If you have read my past ride logs,  you might be expecting a lot of commentary and photos. This trip however had us on the bike really for the vast majority of the day and I think my best footage is coming from my GoPro. My suggestion, watch the video linked above if you want to get the best story of this trip. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1582716 2020-08-10T18:27:10Z 2020-08-18T22:46:04Z Book Review: Elysium

Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you lose everything.

This was a pretty heavy book. I am going to put that right out front with this review. If you are in the midst of mid-2020 and everything around you is depressing and stressful, then this may not be the most ideal book for you to pickup right now.

I am going to have a tough time trying to review this, as it is extremely difficult to try and explain this book without giving it away. Think of it this way. A story has a beginning, a middle and an end. That narrative timeline is progressing through this book, front to back. All the while the characters, their relationship and even the time/place that the story is occurring in change with each section of the narrative. The crux of the narrative is about the relationship between Adrian and Anton. Who those two are though is never the same. Sometimes they are siblings, other times lovers? Sometimes their gender changes, other times the time and place that they are living in changes.

Through it all though it is about their relationship as the world around them is metaphorically and physically destroyed.

This book embodies what I really enjoy most about SciFi novels. It challenges the reader. It challenges the reader on multiple levels about their beliefs, about how they view the world, perhaps even in this case what they think a narrative format should be.

I have a few minor gripes about some of the writing. Often times the vignettes were not always clear. There is one for example midway through the book were our main characters are part of a religious order, wearing white and tending to a flame. I had no idea the context or time of this society. Was it modern? In the near future? Somewhere in the past? That issue came up several times for me.

The book in the end will most likely not leave you satisfied. You do not get a good explanation of everything that occurred or an understanding of what from the story was "real" and what was manifested from the story being told. I think that was the point, but it does leave wanting a few final sentences to tie it all up.

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1578923 2020-07-29T21:26:38Z 2020-07-29T21:26:38Z Book Review: The Three-Body Problem
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book started off pretty strong for me, but stumbled about halfway through and never fully recovered. I really enjoyed the hard science aspect of the book. There is a lot of discussion regarding physics and math here. Unfortunately, some of the story elements broke my immersion. There were several points in the story where narrative beats came across as too convenient.

A scene about halfway in that takes place in a cafe seemed like we had one of our characters jump from outsider to right in the inner circle way too quickly. Several scenes with the trisolarans also seemed a bit rushed, and sometimes even unnecessary. At one point the book spent lengthy amount of time discussing a human computer inside the "Three-Body" game, but that didn't really seem to have a direct impact on the story. And again, another scene having to deal with a large ship in the book too conveniently utilized a nano-carbon fiber that one of our protagonists just happened to be a specialist in?

In the end, it just never came together for me. The most interesting aspects took place in the 1960's at Red Base, and I would have loved to see more happen there, but it just never developed fully.

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1568975 2020-07-04T20:46:17Z 2020-07-04T20:46:17Z Finding Some Positivity in Your Online Communities (Critical Role and Peloton)


This is a quick post, but something that popped into my mind this past Thursday when one of my favorite shows came back onto the air after being on hiatus from the COVID-19 situation. Critical Role, finally came back to its regular Thursday night schedule and I can't tell you how much I have been looking forward to seeing it come back.

I have always been impressed with the Critical Role cast and team on how much positivity they put out in everything they do. They just show a tremendous love for their online community and to all of their fans and it suddenly struck me as to how important that is right now. Not just in finding your friends and family and all of that, but finding positivity in your online media. 

It just feels good to be a part of that world and share it in some small fashion. 

While I am at it, I want to give a shoutout to the Peloton brand and that community as well. Another entity that has developed a super positive and uplifting message for its entire and team. Of course exercise always makes you feel better when you are stressed, but I have found that Peloton has really made it a part of their core identity to incorporate all of its users as part of a family that is sharing a journey together. Their entire staff have an extremely positive and almost therapeutic attitude in what they talk about during their classes. 

It is only just now that I am realizing how much those things probably have really helped over the past four months. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1568297 2020-07-03T02:39:35Z 2020-07-03T02:57:57Z Videogaming: Night Call

I have discovered a really incredible game this past week on Xbox Gamepass called Night Call. It is sort of like a illustrated narrative game, where you play a taxi driver who is driving a night shift through Paris. Each night you pick up passengers in your taxi and listen to their story and ask them questions. Occasionally, you will have to spent time and money investigating clues related to a serial killer who is loose in the city and whom you had run in with at the start of the game. 

The game is mostly black and white with hints of color placed throughout the game. Definitely a "Noir" design, the city appears to be cold, dark and always raining. It is such an interesting game and a huge change of pace to many other games I have played right now. There is no combat in the game, nor is there really even any conflict. It really is just a story playing out with your investigation and which you make choices in those conversations. I wouldn't call it a light game though. The mood and dialog is very dark and intense. The elements in the game deal with very adult themes as well. 

If you can, definitely check this game out. It is not like anything I have played before.

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1557666 2020-06-11T02:34:18Z 2020-06-11T02:34:18Z Ridelog: 06-06-20


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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1556529 2020-06-09T14:39:42Z 2020-12-08T21:23:09Z Rev'it Cayanne Pro Riding Jacket and Pants - First 200 miles

It was time for some new riding gear. Most of my equipment is getting pretty old at this point, going on 8+ years, so the wear and tear is beginning to show on some of it. I have primarily two sets of riding gear at the moment, a leather jacket and pants, and then some nylon riding gear that I have been using for my longer tours. 

The leather gear is still in remarkably good shape, but the Olympia Airglide jacket and pants have come to the end of their road I think. The velcro straps on most of it are starting to lose their grip, the front right pants pocket has a hole in it and it is just starting to look a bit grundgy overall. 

I have spent quite a lot of time recently trying to find the right gear that I wanted to replace it with. I have looked at probably a dozen different jackets and pants, including some full riding suits. In the end I finally decided to settle on the Rev'it Cayenne Pro jacket and pants. 

This set is a hot weather tour riding set. It does not come with a thermal liner or a waterproof layer, and that is intentional on Rev'its part for the user to bring their own to additional gear or build it up. They call it a modular system and they do offer a number of other layers that can be added. While doing my research, this did trouble me a bit. I was looking closely at the Rev'It Sand jacket and pants as an alternative here. That set is probably one of the best selling jacket and pant sets out there and comes with a thermal and waterproof liner. 

After taking a close look at my riding environment though I had to admit that I ride mostly in warm weather. Probably 95% of my riding is in warm weather, no let me change that, 95% of my riding is in hot weather. I decided that going with the specialized setup rather than the "jack of all trades" would be the better route this time around. I already own heated thermal linings which I can add if I need to, and I have been pretty disappointed in the built in rain layer on my other equipment. 

I finally had the chance to put about 200 miles on the suit this weekend, so let's review my initial thoughts. 

]]> Matthew Supert tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1549978 2020-05-26T02:40:56Z 2020-05-26T03:36:11Z The Top 10 Motorcycles I Want Right Now (2020 Edition)

I was having a conversation over on Facebook the other day of my five most sought after motorcycles right now. It occurred to me that I made a Top 10 list back in 2013, and thought to myself, "Let's do this again". 2013 is nearly seven years ago now. So here is my current, Top 10 Motorcycles I want right now. 

  1. Royal Enfield Himalayan 
  2. Honda Cub C125
  3. Yamaha TW200
  4. Suzuki Katana
  5. BMW C650
  6. Zero SR/S
  7. BMW R 9T
  8. Ural Gear Up
  9. ...
  10. ...

Quite a change in the list from my last one, and this is perhaps very reflective of the type of bike I am riding right now. When I posted the last list in 2013 only had my R 1200R for less than a year. The bikes listed then were very similar in size and type in a lot of ways. I am now riding a R 1250RT, which I bought last August.  That is a big bike, so it is no wonder then that some of my top list is small bikes. 

Number one on my list right now is the Royal Enfield Himalayan. That bike has just infatuated me for the past couple of years. It looks like a ton of fun and everyone I have talked to has a ton of fun on it. I am also completely enamored with Itchy Boots, who is currently touring from South America to Alaska on one. 

The Honda CT125 is another one of those bikes that just completely captures my attention. You might not even call it a motorcycle by the way it looks, and it is only 125cc, but it has a 4 speed manual transmission on it, and something about it's design just really is appealing to me. Seems like such a fun little bike to hop on to go to the store. 

The other big standout on the list above for me is the Suzuki Katana. I have never considered myself a sports bike person, but the almost retro design of the Katana grabs my attention. 

So, you may have noticed too that my list doesn't have ten bikes on it. Yeah, I have to say that I don't see ten bikes out there that really catch my eyes at this point. My RT sorta covers all grounds with the exception of some off-road fun and perhaps something just lighter for zipping around town on. 


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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1539532 2020-05-04T00:45:33Z 2020-05-04T00:45:53Z Book Review: Blood of Elves
Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have a very mixed relationship with the Witcher properties. I love the world and the characters in this series. I can't say I am a huge fan of the video games. I loved The Last Wish, and I fell in love with the Netflix series, so coming into this book I had pretty high expectations, knowing that I just sort of finished up the Netflix show.

Now, don't get me wrong. This is a fine book within the Witcher series, but it doesn't exactly come across as the type of book that is #1 in the series and would hook a new reader in. If you are already a fan, then this kicks off right where you want it to. My major issues are that not a lot seems to really happen narratively. The main crux of what I presume we are shown is mostly what Ciri has been up to since she finally found Geralt and was taken in by the Witchers. Having read the Last Wish, seen the Netflix show and then jumped into this book in that order, the three properties all worked well together. The Netflix show's first season sort of ended right where this book apparently would pickup. Perhaps in fact, that is where season 2 of the show will go. As a standalone book however, I can see a lot of readers quickly falling off the series right after this.

I just hope that we get to see more of the actual plot line develop in the second book, because we basically only caught vertical slices of Ciri with Geralt, and Ciri with Yennifer to show some of her training and development.

View all my reviews
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1539524 2020-05-04T00:33:07Z 2020-05-04T01:16:02Z Videogaming: Gears 5

Quarantine time has led to me being able to play some video games and catch up on a bit of my backlog. This past week I finally had a chance to get back into Gears 5 and finish off the single player. I have never been a huge Gears fan. I played both 1 & 2 and finished neither of them. They felt a bit too "dude bro" for my tastes. This past fall I decided to give Gears 4 a shot, as it was on Xbox Gamepass and I had a pretty decent time with it. The gameplay seemed fine enough and it wasn't too long, so I played through the story and was at least engaged with it to give Gears 5 a shot. 

I started playing Gears 5 when it was released this past winter, but only got about three hours into it before I fell off. Oddly enough, I did put quite a bit of time into the multi-player. game, namely the Horde mode. It has a nice, mindless element too it, but I didn't realize right away the the 50 rounds of horde mode can take upwards of almost two hours. That is quite a commitment to one game with teammates. 

I jumped back into Gears last week to see if it would hook me again, and I have to say that I enjoyed it about as much as I did with Gears 4. It was a fun romp, but it didn't really spark any passion for me. There was one really nice emotional moment that came near the end of the game, that was a bit of a surprise. So much so in fact that I actually played through that section, completed another hour or so of the game and then decided to go back and play that section over again to change my decision. 

The ending of the game seemed fine, but it did give a nice sense of "hopelessness to the story that I wasn't expecting. Will I played Gears 6 to finish off this section part of the trilogy? Yeah, probably, but only because I am a Gamepass subscriber.  

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1529369 2020-04-10T03:20:54Z 2020-04-10T03:20:55Z I'm Beginning the Long, Arduous Journey of Learning Swift Programming

Ok, so here we go. I have decided to jump on in and teach myself how to program in Swift. What is Swift you may ask? In short, it is a programming language similar to Javascript, Pyton, C++, etc. It is one of the newer programming languages out on the market and seems to have its strongest presence in the Apple ecosystem since Apple is a main developer behind the environment. I won't bore you with all of the details around what makes the programming language interesting, but I'll talk a little bit more about why do I even want to do this. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1522707 2020-03-23T03:10:00Z 2020-03-23T03:10:01Z Designing a Dust Cover for the Novation Circuit - Part 1

I am trying my hand at my first 3D model to print up on my Ender Pro 3. I want to develop a dust cover for some of my synths, since dust is always sort of a problem, collecting on them. There is a great website out there called Decksaver which produces some really great looking clear plastic covers for various synths. Unfortunately they are rather expensive and to top of off, they definitely do not have covers for any of my older synths like the E-MU Command Station or the Korg EMX-1. 

So I am starting off with what I hope is probably the easiest of my synths, the Novation Circuit. It is by far the smallest one I have right now. Even still, the cover will need to be broken into two different pieces and then assembled after the print. The Novation Circuit's Dimentions are 240x200 mm. From the top of the play surface, the highest knob (the Filter) is 20mm. 

With that in my I decided to jump on over to an online CAD platform called TinkerCAD. It is a very rudimentary 3D modeling software that has basic shapes, extruding and masking tools. 

My initial design for the top case was to have beveled edges, which TinkerCAD does technically do. Unfortunately the way that the beveling is implemented means that it gets beveled in all three dimensions and not just at the corners. So The beveling sort of shrinks the outside diameter of the shape you are working on. I found that this ended up being problematic when I needed to merge a beveled vs non-beveled shape, as they would not line up. With that idea thrown out the window, I decided to just start with the basic box concept and work from there. 

In the course of a few hours, I was able to quickly get the left hand side of the case mostly complete. I added a couple of additional pieces along the way, such as some filler components on the inside to the strengthen the shape, and I did create a soft curve on the exterior for a design effect. Time will tell if that prints well enough or not. 

I need to now figure out what sort of "supports" I need to install to connect the left and right pieces. I am thinking either some rectangular tabs or a circular dowel rod sort of approach. My guess is that a square shape will be easier to print for a 3D printer over a circular one. 

I would also like to put the Novation logo on the top, so that will be next steps later this week. 


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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1518156 2020-03-11T04:00:00Z 2020-03-11T03:19:30Z Ridelog: 03-08-20 First Group Ride of 2020

Is Winter finally on its way out? I sure hope so. I had an opportunity this past week to finally get to a few motorcycle "to do" projects. I was able to get my pannier hangers up in the garage. Thankfully, that was a very easy project. Just drill into the studs and done. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1512469 2020-02-23T04:47:45Z 2020-02-23T04:49:52Z I Finally Bought a 3D Printer

So it finally happened. I picked up a 3D printer. I have been toying with getting one for months, but I have just been waffling on finally pulling the trigger on it. Last week Woot had the Ender 3 Pro on sale for $200 and I pulled the trigger to get it. I had quite a bit of buyer's remorse when I initially pulled the trigger on this. But it arrived on Monday, Presidents' Day and I spend the late afternoon and evening putting it all together. 

We got the machine up and running on Monday night, but we did not get a successful print for the first couple of days. I bought a roll of black Hatchbox PLA for the printer and I have found thus far that it has been problematic, breaking on multiple occasions. We did though finally get a first print completed on Tuesday or Wednesday night, after I spent a few hours fiddling and tweaking with the Ender 3. Our first print was a small dog figurine for the game Betrayal at House on the Hill. 

We had a successful second printing of some D&D status rings on Thursday evening. Those took approximately 2 hours to make and allow me to use some of the white sample filament that came with the printer. That filament worked quite a bit better than the Hatchbox that I bought. 

So I wanted to buy some additional filament since I have not been happy with the aforementioned Hatchbox and I decided to make a run over to Microcenter in Downers Grove. To my surprise they had a very large section for 3D printers with two whole aisles of filament. Their house brand appears to be called InLand, so I bought two roles, grey and a really cool looking light blue. The filament has an interesting, "rough" texture to it on the roll, but it seems to have good reviews online and it was only $15, almost a third cheaper than the Hatchbox and most other filaments I found online. 

Today, I successfully printed up the first large print, utilizing that InLand light blue. The print took just over nine hours, but I think it turned our great, especially for a first go. Very excited to continue more of the 3D printing. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1510618 2020-02-18T03:59:12Z 2020-02-18T04:08:13Z Videogaming: Children of Morta

I have been playing a really cool game lately over on Xbox, called "Children of Morta". It has an absolutely gorgeous pixelated art style, something that is probably closer to 32-bit than even 8 or 16-bit. It is a rogue-like game where you play through procedurally generated dungeons over and over again. The point is that you are going to continually die, but your character will slowly get better and better as time rolls on, allowing you to progress in the game. 

What seems to set this game apart from some of the other rogue-likes that I have played is that this seems to be a much more narrative driven game. Each time you die, you are often brought back to your family's home and shown an intimate narrative bit that progresses the story. I was actually quite surprised at how many of these little narrative passages there are in the game, considering how often you are doing to die. f

There is something really fun and really cool here, but with a lot of these games the repetition of the constant dying, red-awning and playing the same level over can get a bit repetitive. I have found that I have really enjoyed this game in bite sized gaming moments, playing 2-3 runs (which can last anywhere from 5-30 minutes) rather than playing it for a long gaming session. I am probably 5-6 hours into the game at this point and only about halfway through the second of the three worlds. This may be a bit of a slow burn, but it is very good.  

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Matthew Supert