December 26 2018

Tech Shopping for College in 2019? Laptop with Accessories Reccomendation’s by Stile Teckel

Hello fellow geeks, nerds, and anyone else that stumbled upon this corner of the world. It has been a while since I have done one of these pieces on the blog, or really anything at all for that matter.

I have some new projects in the works though which is going to see the site and blog becoming more active again. Therefore when I realized a project I just finished working on would be useful to someone else in the world, maybe, I thought it would be a great way to kick off the site a little bit. This is more for the tech side of us geeks as opposed to the gaming side of things 🙂

Ok, go ahead and pull up a chair, grab your Mountain Dew, Cheetos, and Character sheet. Sit back, as I am going to give a little backstory before I dive into the recommendations. Why backstory? First, everyone has a different preference and second everyone has different needs. Understanding what mine are/were in this situation will help you determine if you need to think a bit differently for any of these items or even if the reccomendations are of any use to you at all!

My daughter is starting college in 2019. She is a very scholastic focused individual and very goal driven. As such she is one of the top students of her school, tutors, will graduate high school already having college credits, has been class president, on academic teams, and much more.

I don’t mention this as a parent bragging (although there would be something wrong me if I wasn’t proud and happy that my sperm rolled a critical when I made her), but to understand that in my situation, school focus is VERY strong and I take that into account in my investment decisions. You should definitely consider your child’s enthusiasm and personal needs (not to mention your financial situation) before making any type of purchases!

My daughter comes from divorced parents and she has been living with mom. In the past, I had set her up with a decent Laptop, but I definitely made some mistakes with it.

One of the mistakes I made is that it was too big. Sure it was a power-house with a huge screen. That also made it a lot to carry around and more delicate then something being hauled around by a student should be. The biggest issue was not even me though, but a manufacturer design flaw that I continually had to spend money fixing. The MFG refused to fix it out of warranty, even though it was a known issue with a certain run of their laptops.

Add all this together, and as I have been spending time examining her college needs for next year as well as helping to fill those and acting as a coordinator with the family on her dad’s side, I was noticing a lack of a computer or laptop in her life.

I started making some discrete inquires, sending a few ninja notes around to the family, made some steealth and research roles, took 20 on some discussions with her, and learned that the laptop was possibly lost in a family move a little over a year ago and shes been getting by using other peoples computers, tech at the school, and simplier things such as her phone.

My daughter is the type of person that is not very materialistic, doesn’t ask for a lot, and will get by with what she has. So this all is really no surprise to me. Regardless for someone as academically involved as she is and as she is going to be, it definitely felt like I had missed a fumble I tossed out at some point! Spot check failed!

Not only will this be one of the most critical tools she will have in college, but she has also been getting by without it when it has been one of the most critical things in her current life by begging, borrowing, and stealing! Way to roll on your survival skills!

This may not be the case for your child. While some sort of computer will most like be needed by just about anyone, what that is and to what level, is going to vary a lot based on what sort of classes they will be taking. Also keep in mind their choosen degree and classes could change! Unfortunately you still have to meet the current needs even if that was to happen.

So one of my NPC’s is telling me to shut the F up with the backstory already and get going with the main game, before I no longer have any players. Fair enough!

I started out by taking 20 on a research skill to learn as much as I coudl about what the most popular device (or one of them) is currently for college students and why. I also went into this research with the following thoughts in mind.

  • I wanted something that would be portable and somewhat rugged
  • A lot of power but not necassirly a high end gaming rig
  • Despite portability, useable as a desktop at a home workstation

It was not long before I was looking at the Lenova Yoga Line of products, quickly followed by the 730 series. The 920 while nice has to small of a screen in my opinon while the 730 is perfect in that its slim and lieght weight, without the screen being so large as to begin to turn the unit into a giant.

What is nice about this laptop is that it comes in a lot of builds. This allows you to get one that meets your college needs and financial situation. You can configure for RAM, Graphics, Monitor, Hard Drive size, and a few other options. So regardless of your needs for a portable can be a good choice for just about anyone!

So regardless of your needs for a portable can be a good choice for just about anyone!

Personally, I ended up purchasing my daughters direct from the Lenovo website instead of Amazon. There were three reasons for this, whereas typically I would have bought from Amazon.

The first being they are running a holiday sale so the pricing direct was decent. Secondly, I wanted a configuration of the options I could not find on Amazon and so I wanted to custom build it, opposed to choosing one of the MANY options you will find if you follow that above link, and look at comparable items, on Amazon. Finally I had a discount code that was fairly sizeable!

More Ninja notes sent around to the family, we made a combined effort and compared our dots in resources to see what we could pull together, did some begging with the GM, and what to proceed with.

I talked to my daughter, had her help with the configuration options, and then based on her needs begin putting together the accessory order. This was a grueling 6 hours of research and shopping!

She picked the bag, so that was personal prefence on her part. It does come in a lot of color options.

My first concern with the Yoga is the hard drive capacity. I ended up going with a 512 GIG SSD on her unit, but I know from recent experience that Windows 10 and some software will eat that up fairly quickly.

She’s going to want some games, photos, music, and more on her unit. Given the cost to upgrade to a 1TB HD, I thought a portable external drive, as a place to put that stuff, would make perfect sense. The plan is to also set up the portable on one of my cloud services as an off-site backup solution.

I also like that her data and personal files are actually separate from the Lenovo. She can leave that at home when she won’t need it.

The Yoga does have a built in mouse pad on the keyboard half, but given this is also going to serve as a at home desktop replacement a seperate mouse was important.

One theme I want on everything though is that is also portable so she can sort of Ala Carte choose based on where she’s going and what she will be doing, what options she needs to take with her. This setup is allowing her to carry only what she needs, when she needs, as opposed to everything being built in and stuck with that continual weight and bulk all the time!

This particular mouse is nicely sized for at home or on the road, is Bluetooth eliminating cables and mess, and rechargeable so batteries won’t be needed. It can be used on any surface including glass so she can use it wherever she goes with no worries about a mouse pad. With 3 device connections, she can set it up on some of her other items, like a phone.

A keyboard is almost most likely going to be entirely for at home use. Regardless you never know when you may set up for a long period in an off-site location and wish you had a full-size keyboard. So again, portability was taken into account and while being full size, this thing is light and thin.

Bluetooth, again helping reduce cord mess. Recharegale to avoide batteries. Not only like the mouse, does it retain 3 device connections but it handles Windows, Ios, and Android all three. Again making this a great compaion component for things like her phone, playstation, or a Roku.

While she will have a portable hard drive for her personal files and data I feel it is important to have a very small media, you can carry on a keychain if you want, and hand off to anyone with it being liekly they can use it. In short folks, you always need disc(s)!

This 128gig Micro SD with Adapter was perfect for that purpose and also took care of another concern I had.. I wanted her to have an Micro SD to SD card adapter! This gives her a portable storage device she can keep empty other then some favorites she might want to share with people continually or share between a lot of diferent type of devices (not everything can read a hard drive!). Most importantly in my opinon is it gives her something other then her data drive to hand to people and pass things back and forth, that does NOT contain sensative information on it.

The one thing the Yoga does not have on it from what I could determine, I really thing it should, is a SD card reader… I mean, you see how small they are?

Regardless I had wanted to get her a USB hub as a docking station for at home. I like this one as not only does it give her the docking stationn, it handle sthe SD reader concern, gives her a second headphone jack to share with a friend (airplane or train tavel comes to mind), a VGA port, and some other things.

I REALLY love that it has an RJ45 port. Some places still may only offer hardwire and not wifi and regardless of that, I ALWAYS prefer hardwire over wifi if I have the option!

I mentioned the VGA port. Why? VGA and HDMI monitor connection options are two instead of one! Meaning wherever she takes it she can plug into a TV or computer monitor either one with a low chance of not having the right connection type.

Also great if you have this and can be the hero of the party in a library or classroom when someone needs to charge, can’t connect to something, etc! Bribing the GM will almost always get you something discreetly!

Movies and such are defintiely a thing for her (thats my girl!). Also its not uncommon these days to have a class where you can (or even sometimes required!) turn in assignments on CD or DVD you burn yourself.

A portable drive takes care of this concern. Probably something rarely used in the classroom so mostly used for the home workstation or travel. A Bluray Reader and DVD/CD writer would have been sufficient for her I believe, but I actually have a quite a bit of blank Blu-ray media I will unlikely ever use, including Dual Layer. The DL Bluray drive’s cost difference with that writing ability vs. without is significantly less than the cost of the blank media I have. So I went the extra little bit on the basis if at some point the media is useful to her, this paid for itself immediately.

Note give that this item has moving parts and is the most fragile of everything that she is getting (most likely to break or stop working), I opted for the 4 year extended warranty. It was also very inexpensive.

I understand you are getting low on power (or are out of power) sometimes. It happens to the best of us, even when your carefull to try to always charge when given the chance.

I do not understand how it is possible to ALWAYS be in that situation. I mean, you had to charge at some point, to be abel to get to the point where you are “running out” or “ran out” of power right? So how come it’s never quiet about having a charging issue?

Furthermore WTF is it with cords? I thougth I had to replace a lot of cords in the past when it was because I was buying cheap cords, was to rough on them, or one of the dogs got pissed off at me about something. I had NO idea how many cords and wall adapters I would need to keep stocked because I would be asked to “borrow one for a little bit” (that I never see again). Not to mention, I had to start stocking types I DON”T EVEN USE in some cases, for someone else’s backup! wow!

With that said, I think the following selections speak for themsevles.

That about wraps it up! You have a lot of flexability in choosing the core system, the accessories, and what accessories you take around with you and when. As well as fairly decent at home work station setup in addition to portability.

One thing I did consider but did not get at this time is a small portable HD projector. The ability to shoot the second monitor of varying size on a wall (or ceiling if laying down), would be handy. Could even get a small portable white screen to go with it. Possible future item if it seems like after time, that would be hugely beneficial.

I told my daughter I am jealous! This is a fantstic setup for a lot of situations. I have archived her order, as if I ever am spending a lot of time travelling on the road again, I would want something similiar for my business.

November 22 2016

Book Spotlight from Stile Teckel

I had recently done a review on the book “Dungeon Born” by “Dakota Krout”, as a book, I would recommend, found a bit unusual from the norm, and just really enjoyed overall. Gave me some great ideas for an RPG system or how I would alter one of my own to run in the future as well.

Having enjoyed it, I decided to try out a similar novel called “The Slime Dungeon” by “Jeffrey “Falcon” Logue.” This one is a two part series (at the moment), and I did read both of them.

I have to report back that I both enjoyed and was disappointed in this series.

Taken objectively it was an enjoyable read. Being that the “slime” was one of my favorite “mobs” in the Ultima Games and Shroud of the Avatar, to read a book in which the dungeon setup revolves around slimes was very enjoyable for me. In fact, some guild members and I were just killing slimes in Serpent’s Mine in SotA a few nights ago!

On the other hand, these books were VERY familiar. To the extent that if someone told me it was the same writer under a pen name, or another writer trying to copy one and change it just enough to get away with it, I would not be surprised at all. That is where the disappointment came from. In some ways it was unique, but in many ways, it seemed very much like a remake… That was not done quite as well.

While I did not enjoy it as much as Dungeon Born, to give it it’s fair due, taken on its own I am glad I read it. I would have preferred to have read these two first, then Dungeon born but you cannot go wrong with any of them!


I hereby dedicate this article to all the slimes I have killed in Ultima over my life!

ultima-online-slime_full

Ankh Quill

November 16 2016

Book Reccomendation by Stile Teckel – Dungeon Born

Many of you have seen me mention I have been reading a lot of books in the LITRPG genre over the last few years (do not worry, though, I do not ignore other genre’s!).

One that has passed across my screen as I have ben looking for something to read, many times is “Dungeon Born” by Dakota Krout.

I passed it up many times, not because I did not feel it would be good but after reading the description, it was not a taste I was in the mood for.

Finally felt like this would “hit the spot” recently, grabbed it, read it, and am now talking about it because it was fantastic!

It has the feel of a Pen and Paper RPG but unlike some LITRPG, does not present the story as a game, or use game mechanics to describe things.

The concept is that Dungeons are born as a gem and that the dungeons are an extension of themselves. Or to give it a vibe I liked, you could picture you being the GM in a game, playing the dungeon.

What was fun about this story is it did give a lot of plausible thoughts to the things your party always cry about. You know things like, why is the gold mine always by the entrance? Why is the entrance not hidden? Why does it continually respawn!!!!

All in all, it was an enjoyable read combined with the willingness to let my disbelief go for a bit.

What I would very much like to see, if it’s not already done (I haven’t checked yet so there may be!), is a RPG pen and paper version of this. I think it could make for some great gameplay and ma fun mechanics system for the GM!

Ankh Quill

May 13 2016

Stile’s Weekend Movie Recommendation – Point Break & Deadpool

I had a chance to watch the new / remake of Point Break last night. I went into it with both some excitement and some nervousness. The original was a fantastic movie and many remakes do not begin to compare.

I felt that this was a situation in which you could not beat the original. I had nothing to worry about as while in some ways the original was better, the remake did things that topped the original so when taken on it’s own it was a damned enjoyable movie!

Do yourself a favor and watch this in the highest definition option that will work for you. One of my favorite aspects of this remake of Point Break was the scenery. I often found myself distracted from what the characters were doing to the vast, beautiful, varied landscapes this movie was shot in.

The plot while some similarities to the original had overall been changed. I felt this lent to the fact they were not making a remake. They were taking a core idea and presenting it in a new way, meant to be different and more modern. Just my opinion.

I felt the cast did a great job, although perhaps not as good as the original. Some of the concepts and stunts performed in this movie were entirely new to me. There were multiple times I was blown away by some of the action scenes.

I have a rating system for movies. Since I watch movies while I work on my computer, my rating system is, how much do I get done? The better a film or a TV show is, the less I get done. This was the second movie this week in which I got nothing else done as it completely captivated me. The other? Deadpool, which I think you know plenty about already!

I think Deadpool to date is my favorite Marvel movie. I am sitting on a lot of Amazon media credit’s right now from no-rush shipping use as an Amazon Prime member. I decided to buy this one for “free,” as I knew my daughter would also want to watch it and renting it twice was getting close to a purchase price. I am glad I did; I could see this one being seen a couple more times over the years!