Failed Resolution: #PlayThemAll2015

At the beginning of 2015, I chose a somewhat ambitious New Year’s resolution. I set out to play every game in my family’s collection by the end of the year.

I came up short. :/

I played a lot of games, but going into December (the busiest month of the year), I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I had too many games left that I couldn’t knock off the list w/ my kids (who were heroes and helped me get the majority of the games played). There were several I just ran out of time for and a couple I didn’t want to play and couldn’t get rid of before the end of the year (I’m looking at you Descent). Oh well.

So, here’s what I’m going to do for 2016: I’m going to get the remaining games played by the end of 2016.


  1. Ticket to Ride (US) Played 2016!
  2. Warhammer: Invasion
  3. Android Netrunner
  4. Descent Sold!
  5. Ground Floor
  6. Zeppelin Attack
  7. Machine of Death
  8. Epic Spell Wars: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre
  9. Pint Craft
  10. ROFL Sold!
  11. Coup G54 Rebellion Played 2016!
  12. Bomb Squad Played 2016!

It’s certainly a much shorter list this year. Though, I think I may still have to plan some game-specific nights/sessions in order to pull this resolution off. By all means, if you see a game you want to be in on, let me know!

Terrierists gonna terrier

Martha had an infusion today (Go keytruda, go!). With the kids on spring break, I had to work from home

There are few things like a limp, soggy, dead animal in your hand.

Offline Docs

You know those moments of realization where you discover something and feel like you’ve had your head in the sand for years?

That’s been my morning.

I just discovered Dash (or Zeal for Linux/Windows users) and I’m loving it!

Dash is an API Documentation Browser and Code Snippet Manager. Dash stores snippets of code and instantly searches offline documentation sets for 150+ APIs (for a full list, see below). You can even generate your own docsets or request docsets to be included.

If you dabble in web development at all, Dash is worth a download. Here are the docsets I grabbed without effort – all available for quick search.

Dash Docsets


Smile – Eric Hamilton


It seems fitting that I ran into this man today – the last day of 2015.

As I was leaving a coffee shop this morning, he called out to me to get my attention and then promised he wasn’t the neighborhood bandit. I knew he wanted to sell something to me or ask for a donation. And yet, I walked over anyway and joked about the two of us finding the bandit together and putting an end to his mischief. We laughed.

He introduced himself as a vet that’s been denied assistance by the VA. To try making ends meet he sells his poetry. Without waiting for me to object, he handed me a piece of paper and launched into reciting the first of 4 short poems.


by Eric Hamilton

If we all smile more this world be a better place.

And if we all smiled more they’d be so much more laughter, happiness instead of hate.

So, if we all try a bit harder to put a smile on someone’s face

Imagine the love and power when these smiles meet face to face.

I couldn’t help but smile.

He smiled back and began reciting the rest. I’ll admit, I could’ve been a better listener for the rest of the poems, but his first poem stuck with me. It’s not the most amazing poem I’ve read, but it’s the first poem in a long time that I experienced.

His recitation was a smile for me. As awkward as it was to stand in a public place and have a man recite poetry to me, it was an incredibly pleasant, comforting experience.

I told him I imagined he was selling his printed poems. After he confirmed, I told him that I had a small amount of cash in my wallet and I wanted to give it to him as payment – not for the paper, but for the experience he gave me. Maybe by letting him keep the piece of paper he would give me, he’d be able to make one more ‘sale’ later today? In hindsight, I’ve realized my request may have been unintentionally rude – I didn’t ask how much he thought his work was worth. I just made an offer.

All the same, he smiled at me and insisted I take his poem with me. I wished him many more smiles in 2016 than he’s had this year and I wish the same for you.

I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
The Atlantic


Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds

Mouse Guard has been a part of our family for a few years now. We’ve bought a few of the books, checked out a couple from the library, and keep our eyes out for new releases. Both my wife and I have loved reading to the kids as well as giving them a turn. I’ve said it before and I can’t seem to avoid saying it again, it’s been a delight to watch them encounter new vocabulary words, discuss meaning, and even work through reading difficult words that appear in highly-stylized handwritten text.

Mouse Guard Fall 1152 cover

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 was our first journey into the Mouse Guard universe of Kenzie, Lieam, and Saxon. Winter 1152 followed. And then we found our noses buried in Beginning The Black Axe and even the Legends of the Guard books.

In the last few pages of Fall 1152, there are a couple mice gathered around a little game in a tavern. I remember the kids exclaiming at the tiny mice tokens when we read it for the first time.

Little did we know we’d have that same game on a table in our ‘tavern’ a few years later.

Kickstarter Campaign

Writer & Artist, David Petersen, teamed up with Game Designer, Luke Crane, to create a light strategy game and put their concept on Kickstarter.

A two-player board game from the Mouse Guard comics—for guardmice, patrons of the June Alley Inn and their fans.

Long story short: we backed it.

The Goods

Thankfully, the Kickstarter campaign succeeded. Once our copy showed up, my son and I were the first to put it through its paces. It’s a chess-like game that looks and feels as though it was magically extracted from the pages of the book, and most importantly plays easily enough while hiding a lot of depth. I’m sure we’ll get Swords & Strongholds to the table a lot around this house.

Over this last weekend, my dad showed up to Dice & Decks – a local board gaming club/event I run. I had to introduce him to the game.

Now, I’ll admit that I was so wrapped up in being thrilled that he came, that I forgot just how good my dad is at chess.

Early on in our first game of Swords & Strongholds, my dad captured one of my pawns, and then another. I felt like I fought back valiantly and managed to recover both after a few more turns. Although, it was only my third playthrough, so I’m sure to a seasoned player of chess or chess-like games I looked like a fish flopping around in a puddle.

He eventually whittled me down to one pawn and was able to maneuver one of his into the winning, stronghold-making position.

He called it a practice round and eagerly asked to play again.

I wanted to pass along a heartfelt “Thank you” to David Peterson and Luke Crane for the wonderfully delicious anguish over the decisions made while playing Swords & Strongholds. It’s a brilliant little package with a ton of charm; there’s so much game there. Excellent work, gentlemen!

Buy from BurningWheel | Buy from Paizo

Roasted Marshmallow Cups

Mmm! Roasted Marshmallow cups with chocolate milk. So good!!!

Canine Caption Contest

A little less than two weeks ago, we adopted a second dog from PACC.

Sweet Sophie has been an excellent addition to the family. As similar as she is to Lil’ Bro, it’s been a riot making note of all the ways they’re different.His coat is coarse and he’s really agile. She’s so soft, calm, and docile. He goes. She saunters. Bro plays eagerly, earnestly, and – seemingly – with endless energy. He’s been dying for Sophie to get comfortable with her new surroundings and just play with him!

Then things like this happen:

Part 1

Part 2


That’s Bro in full derp-mode.

Give me your best caption in a comment below!

Operation Homecooked Mobile Device Lab

TL;DRI’m a web developer nerd that wanted to test my sites on multiple devices at once. So, I built a thing to do that.


I’m the in-house web developer at an excellent CPA firm in Southern Arizona. I build/maintain all their web properties – internal and external. As it stands, all but our main site are responsive and feel modern-enough1. Our main site is based on a non-responsive WordPress theme I chose (D’oh!) in 2010 that’s been heavily customized over the years2. It needs a major responsive redesign – yesterday! Based on other job responsibilities/projects, I haven’t had time to focus on it until now. As I really started to stare the project down, I started to wonder how I’d make sure the new theme looked right across multiple devices.


The proper way to go about this would be to identify ‘target devices’ currently used by our visitors via our analytics provider of choice. However, at least initially, I’m attempting to do this on my own dime aka «on the cheap» … so, I’m using whatever I can get my hands on. I currently have access to:

  • iPad w/ Retina screen (Previously provided by employer)
  • iPhone 5s (Previously provided by employer)
  • Kindle Fire
  • Droid X

Use what you can! Perhaps you own an Android phone… Tell your friends what you’re doing and ask if you can borrow a previous-model iPhone that they’re not using or something. I’m hoping to get my hands on a newer Android device or two – especially if they’re different screen sizes. I’m debating whether or not to send an email to the firm asking folks to donate a dusty device or two.

Available Solutions

Thankfully, in this day and age, we’re able to hop on the internet and look up how other folks have solved similar problems. After poking around the web, I found a cool project/movement called Open Device Lab. It aims to highlight device labs that are open to public use for free and encourage the creation of more. It’s certainly a very cool idea; one that I think could be a really cool addition to any of the co-working locations in downtown Tucson. However, it’s an idea I don’t think I can pitch w/o having a working example to demo.

The well-made, professional solution

I’m just gonna leave this here and say, yeah… looks really nice.

Vanamco’s $149.00 Device Lab

My improvised solution

Stand hardware

Items from Home Depot & Amazon:

Note: If you anticipate needing to test more than 4-5 devices, you may want to double up on these items. The beauty of the pegboard used in this build is that it’s designed as an expandable system. Two of them will lock together really nicely with a couple screws.


There are two pieces of software magic that make this setup work beautifully.

DesktopServer by ServerPress

Cloudup rjmauqxttnm

You can certainly pull off this setup with any local web server stack (MAMP, LAMP, XAMPP, VVV) or with ServerPress’ free version, DesktopServer Limited, however, I want to point out that after using that version for a few hours one day a couple months ago, it was enough to convince me to upgrade to their fully-featured DesktopServer Premium version. I have not been disappointed.

DesktopServer allows you to quickly and easily generate optimized WordPress projects that run locally.

Prior to DesktopServer you would have had to install a LAMP stack, edit multiple configuration files, create databases, create security credentials, and repeat the process for each new project or site you wanted to run; a painful time consuming and unfriendly process for non-developers and seasoned programmers alike. DesktopServer diminishes mundane tasks and is preferred even by advanced developers who like to tinker with WordPress Multisite based projects, domain aliases, and host files.

ServerPress has done a great job putting together a software package for Mac or Windows that lets you run a local version of your sites quickly, with very little fuss.

ServerPress’ Videos

For more information on how DesktopServer can exceed your needs, hit their YouTube channel!


If DesktopServer is the cake, BrowserSync is the frosting. It allows you to inject live-updating code into your pages and then sync scrolling, mouse clicks, and form input across any browsers viewing the URL on the same network. No more saving your code, switching to each browser you’re testing in, and refreshing the page. It refreshes each connected browser automatically. It’s free, open source, and ridiculously wonderful.

I’ve got it hooked into my Gulp build process. PHP, JS, and SCSS files are watched, compiled/concated on-save, and all connected browsers are refreshed w/ the latest changes.

Here’s the gulpfile from one of my projects:

Solving Real Problems

Using the hardware and software covered above, I was able to tackle a pain-in-the-butt issue last week. Long story short: we had embedded a survey (thanks Survey Monkey) into a dedicated, responsive landing page on our site. In testing, the survey loaded when viewed on an iPad or any computer… but it wouldn’t show up on any phones we tried. Using the device lab, I was able to discover that Survey Monkey’s embed javascript was specifically NOT rendering the form on any devices with a screen smaller than 760px wide. From that Ah-ha moment, I was able to build a ‘warning’ pane that would only show up on the smaller screens offering to launch the survey in a new view.

Mobile Device Lab getting it done!

BOOM! Problem solved!

Future Plans

Obviously, the goofy Guitar Hero stand needs to be replaced by a sturdy solution of some sort. It does the job for now, but I’ve already spent some time sketching out some ideas for a wooden frame (with room for two panels mounted together – I went ahead and bought another one :)).

For now, version 1 works really well for me.

Operation Homecooked Mobile Device Lab is a success!

I’ll definitely add photos of version 2 when it gets to that point. Perhaps that’ll be one I can replicate down at CoLab Workspace or Connect Co-working?

1: Everything changes so fast on the web, I don’t dare declare anything modern or ‘done’. ^

2: A year or two after launch, we added a mobile device sniffer and have been redirecting that traffic to a /mobile/ subdir… which has worked well-enough. But it’s 2015, dangit! Time for a completely mobile-friendly approach. ^

Temptation in the seat next to me

Martha and I are about 8 days away from the end of the DietBet game we’re in. We’re both so close to hitting our goal weight! It’s been a fight, but we’ve done well over the last 3 weeks.

Today happens to be my daughter’s 9th birthday. Happy Burpee, Abbilicious! After an entire-family-snuggle-session in our bed, she requested cinnamon rolls from Copper Creek Cookies – the best in the city. Mar and I looked at each other with dread. Do we behave and abstain? Do we cheat? We’re so close to making our goal!

While the rest of the family got ready for the day, I took a little drive to pick some up for the kids.

The best cinnamon rolls in the city taunting me from my car's passenger seat

Look at them. I’m pretty sure they whispered my name as I got off the freeway.

Gooey, delicious little punks.

© 2016

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑