tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:/posts Matthew Supert 2020-04-06T01:01:38Z 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
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1506406 2020-02-04T22:11:27Z 2020-02-04T22:11:27Z Book Review: Binti

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a really an interesting novella and deserving of all of the praise and awards it has received. I haven't read a good sci-fi book in quite a while an this one does a really great job of focusing on what I think sci-fi's strongest point really is, cultural critique and not science.

The book is told from the perspective of Binti, who comes from a tribal heritage. It is not explicitly stated where she comes from, but it is presumed to be Africa. The book covers quite a bit on topics of race, cultural differences, and family values, all while tying these anchor points back to a much larger story that expands to an interplanetary conflict. Binti is an very smart and very strong female lead character. She is known in her world as a "Harmonizer". The book never explains precisely what this is, but it is a topic that becomes important to the story as it progresses. The challenges she face progress through the novel and flow through her progression from leaving Earth to traveling to another planet. The story does a really interesting take on transferring her challenges from very relatable ones (i.e. a family not wanting her to leave her tribal land, expectations of woman and marriage) to the broader intergalactic problems, which she must deal with. 

To say any more probably would give away the story. This is simply really well told and at under 200 pages can be read fairly quickly.

View all my reviews
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1502176 2020-01-24T04:20:55Z 2020-01-24T04:21:26Z Videogaming: #MyDecadeOnXbox - AbleAmerek

TrueAchievements.com has a cool little summary of a users' past decade on Xbox. It is a cool little insight into my past decade playing Xbox. I am a bit surprised that I have been playing for ten years on Xbox to be honest. I actually think I picked up my 360 back around 2009, and that data is just this list. 

So take a look at this cool little infographic. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1501365 2020-01-22T03:51:28Z 2020-01-22T03:54:02Z Heilung - What a Great Show

Megan and I went to a great concert last night to see Heilung. Heilung is a sort of folk Scandinavian pagan band. I discovered them on Youtube about a year ago by accident. They were somehow recommended to me through Youtube's recommendation system, and I stumbled into watching an entire concert by them. 

They are doing their first US tour right now and Megan and I jumped at the chance to see the show. We thankfully got tickets and they sold out very quickly. So fast in fact that the show changed venues from the Vic to the Riviera Theatre. 

So the show was a 7:30 show and Megan and thought we would get there early, around 6:00 to get in line. Little did we know, the line extended around the block on three sides. Thankfully we got in pretty early and Megan grabbed some fantastic seats in the balcony. 


So the show started, and it was just as good as we hoped it would be. So enough of all the description, I'll just post some photos and videos. 

Want to hear more of Heilung? Here is the video that I originally saw them on: 

You can also check out their music over at Bandcamp. https://heilung.bandcamp.com


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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1494634 2020-01-03T18:00:00Z 2020-01-01T18:20:03Z My Year in Books - 2019

I feel like this year was an "off" year for books. Looking back on the year, I don't feel like I was really excited for anything that I read. The vast majority of the books I read this year were in audiobook form. Sabriel was perhaps the book that I enjoyed the most this year, surprising me in how simple and how good it was. It is basically a folklore fairytale that was just a pure and enjoyable read. 

As part of our book club at work (which I think has died now), I read quite a bit of other novels including The Alice Network and A Gentleman in Moscow. Those books were good, but I never was truly captured by them. They served their purpose as book club reads to broaden my horizon, because they certainly were not books I would have read otherwise, but I can't say I was truly drawn into either of them. 

I started reading the Dervish House a few weeks ago, a book that has been sitting on my Kindle for years now, and it unfortunately did not spark my interest in reading. I have slogged through on to the second chapter and it unfortunately just seems a bit too heavy of a book for me right now. I think I will have to come back that that one. 

The Witcher on Netflix right now has in fact sparked my interest in reading again. I have been devouring that show this past holiday week and it has spurred me to get back into the books. I loved the Last Wish, the first book in the series and this show as sparked me to not only go back and read the books, but to also go and finish the Witcher 3 video game.  

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1494628 2020-01-01T18:00:32Z 2020-01-01T18:00:32Z OurHome App: What a cool way to track house chores

Megan and I recently came across a cool app that we are using to keep track and manage our chores and other tasks around the house. I have been struggling for a while now on divvying up household tasks. I have admiringly been frustrated as I feel like I am spending my days off doing more house chores than Megan. 

I have always used Omnifocus for my own task planning and project management. While I have used it for my own chores and errands as well, it seems to be a bit overkill for just managing chores around the house. It also unfortunately does not have a  good way to share tasks with other people in a shared in environment, and it is pretty expensive for an iOS app. 

After some searching online a few days ago I came upon the OurHome app, which seems like it perfectly fits the bill. It is originally designed for families to assign chores to kids, but if you read the reviews online it appears that there are a lot of couples using it to just manage their household. They even have a special FAQ section for that. 

OurHome  has the basic "to do" list and tasks list for chores, which is what we are using it for right now, but also has some really cool features that expand upon that that make it perfect for chores and house tasks. 

The app features a really nice "autofill" feature that will suggest different types of chores. You can also peruse their "suggestions list" for various household tasks that you need to get done. You can also assign tasks, setup reoccurring schedules and more. One really great feature is that you can have tasks that are setup to "always be available" everyday. Something simple, like making the bed is available once and can be done by whomever gets to it first. It is very quick to make a task, assign it to yourself, spouse of leave it open for anyone to do and then just move on. 

It follows the GTD metholdogy that i like to use whereas you need to get something out of your head as soon as you think of it, otherwise it'll be forgotten or take up previous headspace. 

One other thing that I like about the app is you can assign reward points for tasks as they are done. It defaults to a number of points associated with how long it takes to complete a tasks. 15 minutes = 15 points. This is a feature primarily aimed for kids, as they complete their chores, they accuse points which they can then cash back in to mom and dad for rewards, like a allowance, a trip to the movies or something. 

I don't quite know what we are going to do with this yet, but Megan and I both think it will be fun to setup some sort of rewards for each other that we can cash in. 

There is also a calendar feature for shared events, a grocery list and a message center for group chats. All, very cool features, but I'm not quite sure if we will end up using those. Time will tell I suppose. 




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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1467215 2019-10-18T01:13:53Z 2019-10-18T01:13:53Z Book Review: The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell
The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell, 1774-1777 by Nicholas Cresswell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found out about this book after watching the Townsends Youtube channel in which they referred to a type of dried fish. I had a surprisingly difficult time trying to find a free ebook of this.

This is a journal, plain and simple. It chronicles Nicholas Cresswell's time in colonies just as their American Revolution kicks off. The most interesting aspects of the book really are his characterization of the people in America during this time. There is distinct notes about George Washington near the end of the book that appear to reinforce the almost romanticized version American's have for the man.

Other notable things that stuck out to me are his comments regarding race relations and his observations on slavery. The passages are generally brief, but notable. In all truth though, there isn't much too this book. It is simply a unique window into the most iconic period in America's history and having that look from the side of a British citizen during the war is very interesting.


View all my reviews
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1527719 2019-10-06T17:00:00Z 2020-04-06T01:01:38Z Ridelog: 10-06-19 Quick Afternoon Ride


A quick afternoon ridge for one of my favorite routes around the Southwest Suburbs.]]>
Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1454360 2019-09-26T01:44:32Z 2019-09-30T06:16:56Z Ridelog: South Dakota 2019


Another year and another great August ride with the Mews Crew. This year's trip was back out to South Dakota. We had an absolutely great group riding this year agian and I once again have to say I was super impressed with everyone's riding. We had large group again and we were able to keep our pace on the highway and it worked great with everyone. Before we get deep into the trip though, let's first talk about thew new motorcycle I bought. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1441952 2019-08-07T02:44:47Z 2019-08-07T02:44:47Z I Think It's Time for a New Motorcycle

Well, I think it may be time for a new motorcycle. I have loved my 2012 R 1200R for the past seven years, traveled all over the U.S and Canada with it. The bike has served me really well, but I have noticed over the past two years that I get pain in my neck, shoulders and butt on the longer rides that I am doing with it. Especially on these really long weekly trips or days over 300 miles, I get a sharp pain in between my shoulder blades, which shows up as a sharp sting when I roll my shoulders a particular way. That shouldn't be happening and I shouldn't ignore that either. 

I was able to power through it up until this year, when all of a sudden this spring I am getting the discomfort on even shorter daily rides. Saturday and Sunday rides are getting to the point now where my back is starting to hurt on the bike. I did a ride with friends up to SW Wisconsin and New Glarus last weekend. It was a long ride to be sure, but it was only one day and when I got home, I was very uncomfortable.  We have our annual summer trip coming up here in a couple of weeks and the thought of riding 300+ mile days for over a week really doesn't sound pleasant at this point on my R 1200R. Perhaps I am just getting old, but I feel it is finally time to change up the bike. 

This weekend I happened to test ride a bunch of bikes over at Motoworks Chicago and Windy City Cycles. Now, I have had my eye on the R 1250RS for a while, and I heard that it was going to be coming out sometime this fall. That being said, people have told me that I should check out the RT as well, since some consider it to be a "sports touring" bike. Personally, I think it has way to much fairing to be considered a "sport tourer", but it is well known as a great bike. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1435800 2019-07-22T02:34:45Z 2019-07-22T02:34:46Z I Really Hate Sample Management

As most of you know, I have spent the past year changing out my music setup. I have finally put away my EMU Command Station and Korg EMX-1 into storage. I just haven't found any inspiration with them. In the meantime I have really tried to put some time into the Synthstrom Deluge. I have really had some mixed success get my head wrapped around it, but thhe battery powered portability of it is pretty cool. 

What I have found with the Synthstrom (and the Novation Circuit) is that I need to manage a sample library. I never really had to bother with this before with my previous groove boxes. The Command Station in particular has a really robust percussion library that I have used for years. 

I have found the whole sample management process in general to just be a tedious mess. I bought the superb Samples From Mars master pack that was on sale over Christmas. Having to pour through the samples though to organize them and then load them onto the Deluge is just a truly frustrating process, and it isn't the fault of the deluge. I just don't enjoy sitting in front of the computer for hours on end listening to samples. 

I'm going to try and hunker down this week though and just get through it. I think once I get the sample library setup properly on the Deluge, I an hopefully never need to touch it again.

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1432565 2019-07-15T01:28:44Z 2019-07-15T01:28:45Z Swing Tennis App for iPhone and Apple Watch is Amazing

I recently discovered an amazing app for the iPhone and my Apple Watch. It is called Swing Tennis and it will track all of your shots during a tennis match. It does this automatically, using the accelerometer to track the type of shot and spin you use. It is pretty amazing. 

You can input some specific information while you play a match, tracking the score and faults for serving very easily. There is some additional tracking such as unforced errors, etc. if you want to track it, but I have not felt that was necessary at this point. 

One of my favorite apps at the moment. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1420876 2019-06-26T02:49:14Z 2019-06-26T03:34:10Z Ridelog - Lake Michigan Circle Tour

Last week, I completed my first trip around Lake Michigan on the motorcycle. I can't believe that I haven't had an opportunity to complete this ride yet, but here we are. It was a great trip with the MEWS riders. 

]]> Matthew Supert tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1423431 2019-06-23T17:38:37Z 2019-06-23T17:38:38Z Skateboarding

Yesterday Megan and I went out to the mall to just get out of the house and walk around. It was a really nice night outside (finally summer) and we just wanted to be out and about. While at the mall we decided to pop out heads into the Vans store. I'm not sure if the Vans store is new at the mall or if I just had not been into it, but we probably spent a good 15 minutes walking around, touching all of the shoes. 

Up through high schoolI used to wear Vans all the time. To be honest I am not quite sure why I stopped wearing them. I have wide feet and it has always been difficult for me to find a good pair of shoes and Vans always had sizes for me. 

Anyways, I think the nostalgia train immediately kicked in. I'm surprised I didn't go and buy a pair of vans right there, but the conversation immediately went to skateboarding. Skateboarding is one of those sports I have always wanted to get into, but I never did. I am not quite sure if it is because I was so invested in other sports growing up, but my mind immediately went to "why don't I learn how to skateboard?"

Ok, let's back up a little bit here. Why am I even thinking about skateboarding at all? Well, as I noted above I think I have a bit of a nostalgia trying going, even though I have never been a skater. It's summer, skateboarding is very much a summer sport and I have been listening to some mall punk almost non-stop as of late. Sum 41 has a new album coming out and Blink 182 put their new album out a couple of years ago. It's like the 90's pop punk thing is back. I just need to wait for ska it make is resurgence. 

I have also been thinking a lot about LA for some reason. A co-worker of mine went to LA last summer and it always has seemed like a cool city to me. It also has a reputation for skateboarding. 

So, here I am now, thinking about "why shouldn't I try skateboarding?" It isn't that expensive, $100 or so for a board and another $40 for a helmet maybe. There are skate parks at almost all of the park districts around me, and hell, it is summer. I really want to learn something new. 

So, I think in the next couple of weeks here I am going to try and hit up a local skate shop and talk to them to try and get into skateboarding. Goal is to be able to successfully do an ollie by the end of the summer. 


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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1419496 2019-06-12T14:06:27Z 2019-06-12T14:06:27Z Book Review - The Traitor Baru Cormorant

The Traitor Baru Cormorant
by Seth Dickinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is going to be a tough one for me to review. I really liked this book quite a bit, but at the same time, certain elements of the narrative didn't seem to make sense to me. They seemed incongruous to the basic plot-lines or motivation of the character.

Perhaps I'll just bullet point out what I liked and what I didn't like about the book.

Liked

  • The world building was really well done. The cultures and tribes really felt unique and poignant.
  • Baru, our main character was generally well written. She was smart, arrogant and capable. Sometimes too capable.
  • The overall story of empire was extremely well handled. I can't recall any other books or authors who framed the power of an empire through economic and cultural tools in a better way. It made the story extremely unique and more believable. 



Disliked 

  • My biggest hangup with the story really came down to the maneuvering of our main character Baru. Her driving motivations are to save her homeland. She says this several times throughout the story, yet at the same time she or other characters state that her homeland is already gone. It can never be brought back to what it was.  I think I never fully was able to buy into the notion that she was going to sacrifice an entire nation, thousands, if not millions of people to the empire's culture, while at the same time striving to save her own. I think this could have worked a bit better if the author showed Baru with less emotion, as more of the autistic savant. The fact that she did appear to have very distinct emotional struggles and wants though made this decision on her part seem all the more monstrous. I see that is what the author was going for, and perhaps more of that will play itself out over future books, but it came across as a bit hard to digest simply due to the scale of it all.

View all my reviews

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1415878 2019-06-03T03:14:47Z 2019-06-03T03:14:48Z Movement Detroit 2019

Last weekend Megan and I headed up to Detroit and we had one of the best weekends we probably ever have had. Detroit was hosting the Movement music festival, an electronic music fest in the heart of the birthplace of Techno. This year, my favorite band, Orbital, was performing. They almost never come to the US and the opportunity to see them in the midwest was something I couldn't pass up. 

Let me first start off this blog post to say that Detroit was amazing. We have all seen in the news how Detroit has has really gone through some rough times the past decade or two. I obviously didn't see all of the city, but it does seem like the city is starting to bounce back. There is a rejuvenation of the restaurant and shopping scene, at least in the Corktown neighborhood and it seems that much of the blight from abandoned buildings has been cleaned up. Several of the older factories and other industrial buildings appeared as if they were going through a renovation into residential and commercial. 

Megan and I had a discussion with one of the shop owners on Saturday and she was describing to us how Ford has been investing heavily in the tech sector, trying to brand itself not as a car company, but as a transportation technology company, and that they were bringing in a lot of young software developers and engineers. It really made the city feel vibrant and it seems like the city is trying to position itself with a music and arts refocus. 

We left Chicago Friday afternoon, around 1:30 PM. Traffic was pretty horrendous and it took us about two hours to make it through Indiana on I-80. We were hoping to swing by Grand Rapids on the way to Detroit to visit Hollander's. It is a store specializing in paper and book making. We didn't make it there on Friday and unfortunately we didn't get into Detroit until almost 8:30. Our hotel was the very artsy Trumball & Porter Hotel. Very hip and they have murals all over the outside, and a great courtyard with bags, a fire pit and a stage. They also had a really excellent bar and restaurant called the Red Dunn Kitchen (more on that later). We ordered a few drinks before heading to dinner. 

Thankfully we did plan ahead for our late arrival and we made dinner reservations for 9:15 at Lady of the House. It was only two blocks from our hotel and was a very hipster place to eat. The interior was decorated with an almost french farmhouse style. The food was fantastic. Unfortunately it was incredibly dark inside. We almost couldn't even read the menus. 


Saturday was the day. The music fest was kicking off around 4:00 PM that afternoon. We had some time to kill during the day, but we didn't want to burn ourselves out. We knew it was going to be a long night.  First up was breakfast at the aforementioned Red Dunn Kitchen. Wow, it surprised us. 

The Corktown neighborhood nearby had a couple of cool shops that we wanted to check out. We hit up the Eldorado General Store, George Gregory and Brightly Twisted. We also spent a good hour in Hello Records and bought have a dozen records there. 

We headed out to the show around 4:00 and walked. It was about a mile. About three blocks from the festival though a major thunderstorm hit that had us scrambled for cover in an office building. It was so bad that they actually evacuated the festival. As a bit of bonus karma, we did discover a very cool building called the Union Trust Building.

Once we got to the festival, the show was fantastic. I'll just let the videos and photos speak for themselves.


Some great acts at the show. Big surprises for us were Josh Wink and Amelie Lens. They made fans out of both of us and of course Orbital was amazing. We didn't get back to the hotel until about 2:00 am at which point we ordered a pizza from Dominos, as it was the only thing still open and we proceeded to wait almost an hour and a half for the pizza to arrive. We got out pizza though around 3:00 am and then finally crashed. The drive back to Chicago on Sunday was uneventful. 

Detroit, we had a great time and I would love to go back to Movement next year. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1321242 2019-05-22T04:00:00Z 2019-05-22T03:02:18Z My Favorite GPS Apps for Motorcycling

Riding season is here (if it will stop raining) and I will be heading on my first weekend trip coming up here in April. It has only been about two years since I have embraced using GPS for my motorcycle rides. I was initially very resistant to the idea, wanting to just enjoy the wandering of the ride, but I have come to appreciate the GPS not only for planning rides, but also for tracking where I have been, 

So let's talk about what I have used over the past couple of years. 


BMW Navigator Street (aka. Garmin Zumo 390)

The BMW Navigator Street is my go to device right now. It is a dedicated GPS device rebranded to BMW. I am a big fan of dedicated devices, espcially when it comes to rugged gear. A couple of years ago I planned a trip to Canada and I wanted to make sure I had a device that could reliably provide GPS maps in an area where I might not have a cell signal. 

The Navigator Street is basically a Garmin Zumo 390, with two basic tweaks. First, it does have a database built in for BMW Motorrad dealerships. Second, it has a dedicated cradle that connects to an accessory plug on BMW motorcycles. 

Overall I have had some good luck with the device. It gets the job done and does an excellent job of tracking my GPS routes as well. My only major qualm with it is that "curvy roads" setting does stay to highways a bit more than I would normally want it to. I really have to force to to reroute to get me to some real of the path places. 


Garmin Basecamp

So one of the great and sometimes awful things about the Garmin is a companion desktop application called Basecamp. Basecamp is meant to be a trip planning software. It is a really finicky piece of software and sometimes it is really confusing on how it wants to operate. 

Once you get your head around it though, the trip routing component is pretty nice. You can set waypoints, including gas stops right from the app. You can even distinguish what type of road you would like to ride on in between waypoints, such as a "curvy road" or just a highway. 

Bringing your trip routes back into the app after your trip is also very handy. 


Roadtrippers.com

While I do the trip routing in Basecamp, I do most of the actual trip planning in RoadTrippers. This site has become one of my favorite for any sort of road trip planning. Not only cane you plan your actual route in it, but it has an amazing database to find all of those quirky roadside attractions and oddities that you would expect for a road trip. I used this to plan a couple of road trips now and it is great for finding odd restaurants, road side stops and even the occasional inn or camping site. 

The recently changed the website and they now charge $30 if you want more than 7 waypoints in your trip. For road trip planning I think it would be worth it. 

They also have excellent guides for a lot of famous places around the US, which are a great place to start for a Roadtrippers as well. They also have an excellent iPhone app. 


Rever.com

Finally on my list is a website call Rever.co. I honestly haven't used this one very much since it is very app focused.Great if you want to use your phone for trip planning and GPS routing. Both the app and website have a very slick interface. The one really nice thing that they have going on for them though is the social features. In a lot of ways, this app is the motorcycle equivalent to Strava from the bicycling world. 

The social features allow you to setup groups where you can manage group rides, share data with friends, etc. I first got into this app because they seemed to have a partnership going with BMW Motorrad a year or two back. The web interface for planning routes is also very well done and I used it a little but a few years ago when planning some twist roads through the Adirondacks. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1401663 2019-04-24T20:51:03Z 2019-04-24T20:51:03Z Book Review: The Largesse of the Sea Maiden
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not quite sure how to review the book, because I am not entirely sure what I read. I enjoyed, immensely the five stories that were written by Denis Johnson, but having now finished the book, I have trouble recalling exactly what those stories were.

The five stories featured in this book all focus on the fairly mundane lives of the different protagonists. The topics covered cover drugs, lives, obsessions and other such topics. That being said none of the stories come across as dark as you might initially think. Instead they seem banal and the events that occur are told in a sort of matter of fact, "this is the way life is", sort of delivery. In a lot of ways, nothing happens in any of these stories. The characters tell us of these interludes in their lives, almost in a confessional way, and then that is it, the story is over.

For some reason though I was completely drawn into the stories. It was like a look behind the curtain in these people's lives, and the writing was so well done, that I felt like all of the stories were truly believable.

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1390112 2019-03-25T23:34:48Z 2019-03-25T23:34:48Z D&D: Storm King's Thunder - Silence at the Table

A couple of weeks ago we had our regular Friday night D&D session with a new player coming to the table. Our group is still playing through Storm King's Thunder (nearly 3 years now), running around the countryside in chapter 3. They are in a home-brew session at this point, on assignment from the Harpers. 

Our party was working their way up to Termalaine looking for four other Harper agents. When they arrived in the city they found it to be eerily quiet, with the gates swung wide open. Our monk shadow stepped his way into the city to investigate and found a city that was in ruins from a recent attack by a war party. 

The usual D&D banter and roleplaying ensued from there with several of the NPC's. What happened next though caught everyone at the table by surprise, including myself. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1376366 2019-02-20T19:52:13Z 2019-02-20T19:52:14Z My Year in Books - 2018

My 2018 year in books. This was the first full year of our book club at work. Highlights from last year definitely were the City of Brass, Norse Mythology and the Fifth Season.There were at least two books that had good overall reviews on Goodreads, but I could not get into. Lies My Teacher Told Me and The Cuckoo's Calling both hit a flat note with me. 

You can find all of my reviews for those books linked above. 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1372746 2019-02-11T03:57:48Z 2019-02-11T03:57:48Z Book Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Road trips are great for audiobooks and I was able to listen to this one in the span of a single day. I discovered Hercule Poirot about a year ago while reading Murder on the Orient Express. I was completely in love with that book and I am obviously a fan of the old detective novels like this and Sherlock Holmes.

This is a solid entry in the series and is the first Poirot adventure. The story follows the similar formula, or perhaps establishes the formula for the Poirot series. Half the fun of these novel in my opinion is to try and catch the clues throughout the book to try and identify the murderer using the same methodology as the detective. There is a bit of narrative stretch that occurs sometimes. They seemingly pull out pieces of information from the world that you are not privy too, but overall Christie does put the pieces there for you as a ready to draw upon.

I wasn't as enraptured as I was with Orient Express, but this was a solid and fun book in the series.

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1372744 2019-02-11T03:45:36Z 2020-01-01T18:22:22Z Book Review: Sabriel

Sabriel by Garth Nix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. This books certainly came out of nowhere and surprised me. I started listening to this book a few weeks ago and it didn't catch me at first. I let the library rental expire and then I decided to give it another go a few weeks later. Once the story got going, it absolutely pulled me in.

This is labeled as a "Young Adult" book, but it is probably the most "adult" YA book I have read. The story is well put together. While it does cover many of the standard fantasy tropes, the world that Garth Nix has put together is incredibly well thought out. The magic system and world history is interesting. There are elements here that harken back to the John Carter or Narnia series in the way the world is constructed. It is tight and focused, keeping the world building isolated to the immediate land that the story is taking place in. We don't learn about the "whole planet", but that doesn't matter in the story telling.

I really liked the story arc that our main character, Sabriel went through. She was portrayed as a strong female lead character. She was capable where she needed to be, but knew that she was inexperienced. That inexperience was a primary plot device as it related to the Old Kingdom, but it was never used to victimize Sabriel. She didn't fall into the traps that are so commonly used with YA or genre fiction where her decisions were driven by teenage emotions. Sure, she is a young adult in this book, but her character showed the right amount of composure and emotion to make her believable. I really love that the other characters in the world held respect for her, for the Abhorsen, despite her age. It really showed a lot about the world.

Narratively I felt like this book was written as a result of Garth Nix playing D&D. Several of the plot points played out like D&D encounters in my opinion. They were satisfying though, nonetheless.

Overall, I loved the book. Any let me just put a final note in for that cover art. I absolutely love that artistic choice.

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1360675 2019-02-04T20:39:18Z 2019-02-04T20:44:09Z Trying to Organize my D&D Notes

I have been DM'ing for almost three years now, playing the same campaign in Storm King's Thunder with my Friday night group. Through all of that period I have gone back and forth on trying to keep myself organized as the DM. I have admittedly struggled to keep a good track of my notes through the campaign and in general. 

I have wanted to approach D&D in as analog a way as possible. I spend so much time online and on the computer as it is, bringing that to the gaming table seems counter productive. That being said, there is an endless amount of functionality that a laptop or note taking software brings to the table, that it would be foolish to try to manage all of it in paper alone. I have finally over the past year or so begun to develop a system that works for me on keeping track of my notes, etc. 


Tracking the Game

Tūl Notebook

My first stop here is the use of a Tūl paper notebook. As I noted above I want to be as independent from the computer as possible at the gaming table and my quick reference notes during a gaming session are all being placed right into this paper notebook. I fund this Tūl system to be fascinating because of the ring bound sheets which allow you to remove pages and re-arrange them in any order. I have used spiral bound notebooks in the past and they have worked fine, but I have run into two primary limitations with them. 1) What to do when you have narrative or note changes that required you to re-arrange pages and 2) what do you do with the notebook if it is only partially filled and you are done with what you need with it? 

The Tūl notebook solved both of those problems for me and I picked up the smaller format size which works well for sitting at my side on the gaming table. The page size is exactly one half of a standard 11x8.5" page, so creating a few templates in Apple Pages is pretty easy and straight forward. 

Right now I have it divided into three basic sections. Story Summary, Current Adventure Notes, NPC's

I think I want to add some supplementary reference material to it as well, including some quick random tables along with a master index sheet for referencing back to the various books. 


Apple Notes

Apple Notes, and Evernote before that, are the cornerstone of where I keep track of all of my documents. In Notes, I have sub folders where I keep the text I write out along with .PDFs, images, and ideas for the campaign I am running. Up until recently, I was keeping a running campaign summary and NPC list in Notes, having that pinned to the top of my notes list. This worked well, but wasn't the best for quick reference during the middle of an active gaming session. 

I have moved more to a method of using Notes to capture my pre-session planning and ideas. What I have begun to do now is create a new note for each location or story plot and incorporate the relevant NPC's, and information needed for that section into that session.

 I am also using Apple notes to capture various D100 tables that I find online for adventure planning. 


Homebrew Planning

Over the next couple of months I hope to begin development on some home-brew adventure planning. I feel my Ebenere Nanowrimo story for a few years ago would make for an excellent setting to place a campaign in. 

Mind Maple

Mind mapping is one of those things that I can recognize the utility, but I haven't really taken full advantage of. I experimented with it a little bit for my current campaign, but I think it hasn't been successful because I didn't start using it from the beginning. The result is I haven't had a good amount of connecting ideas to develop with the narrative. You can see my poor mapping laid out below when I tried to pickup with our party in Gauntlgrym. 

When I begin a new home-brew campaign, I anticipate this will become critical for mapping out the overall story arc though

OmniOutliner

Omnioutliner is a great outlining and note taking app. I anticipate this will also become a core component for my future home-brew campaign as I chart out future NPCs, characters, etc. You can see below my failed attempt at trying to keep track of items in it for the SKT campaign. 




 

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1350454 2018-12-05T03:43:06Z 2018-12-05T03:43:28Z Book Review: Dust of Dreams
Dust of Dreams by Steven Erikson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me over a year of chipping away at this book to finally finish . Having spent the the past 7-8 years reading this series now I need to get through to the end. I would have to say that I do enjoy this series on the whole, but this book is the prime example of what is wrong with the series. This book clocks in at over eight hundred pages. We are 90% of our way through this series and Erickson continues to layer on an endless number of new characters and story arcs.

The book's structure is also quintessential of the series thus far, where the reader is dragged along for hundreds of pages with little concrete happening in terms of the story, only for a very impressive climax to finally occur in the last 150 pages or so. This book did have a fantastic ending battle, of which Erikson is known for, and I found myself emotionally distraught as we once again watched characters we came to love and enjoy get torn apart by the horrors of war. Truthfully, I don't know of many authors who can write large battle scenes as well as Erickson can. 

The difference for me this time around though is that the final battle felt a bit too "Deus Ex Machina". The enemy that our main characters encountered came from nowhere, and I did not have any pretense, as a reader, as to where they came from, why they were there or why they were attacking the Bonehunters. Because of this the weight of the scene was largely lost. To add to that whole feeling of "huh?", was the fact that Erikson threw another "Deus Ex Machina" element into the final scenes during a battle with the sky keeps. When we thought our heroe to be lost, a new player enters the field, seemingly out of nowhere. It all felt just a bit too convenient of a story telling mechanism for me with out the necessary guiding motivation for it to actually occur.

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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1342651 2018-11-10T23:07:36Z 2018-11-10T23:07:37Z Ridelog: 10-27-18

Probably the last ride of 2018. A nice long one up to the Galena are for lunch in New Diggings. Quite the offroad area up there. Lunch was at the Saloon. Basic brat burger with a can of coke. The parking lot was filled with ATV and offload vehicles. Weather was on the chilly side, but overall a good time. 
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1342633 2018-11-10T22:36:07Z 2018-11-10T22:36:07Z Ridelog: 09-09-10

A simple lunch ride from back in September. 
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Matthew Supert
tag:blog.matthewsupert.me,2013:Post/1318138 2018-10-29T14:59:07Z 2018-10-29T14:59:08Z Ridelog: Colorado and the Million Dollar Highway


Day 1 and Day 2 - Travel Across Iowa and Nebraska

Day one of our second trip to Colorado. I-88 was under a lot of construction so we held onto Route 30 through most of Illinois. We then jumped onto I-80 and stayed on that to Nebraska. The temperature was hot, in the upper 80's. Around 488 miles on day one. 

Day two was another long haul on the highway. Lunch was at a truck stop, always a good choice in my book. 

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Matthew Supert