Mouse Trouble

For a long time I have used the Razer Naga Molten as my mouse. It’s been excellent. Recently though it’s had a little trouble moving about on the desk. It turns out that the slick plastic sliders on the bottom of the mouse have worn right down to the hard plastic shell. It was becoming awkward to use. And I can’t seem to find a way to just replace those parts.

I started investigating replacements and of course the first place to look was Razer. Here, the Naga was now in several versions, with the fanciest being the Naga Pro. This had the three swappable side plates (so normal configuration, 6 buttons and the 12 button like my Naga). It added wireless, including Bluetooth.

But the Razer software no longer supports OSX. Though I’ve never used the Razer software on my existing Naga. With my birthday coming up, I put in my request.

Success! Birthday came along and so did the Naga. It connected fairly simply to the iMac. Obviously the software wasn’t working but I didn’t think much of that until I tried to play WoW.

Here I came across the problem I didn’t face with the older one. The Naga Molten has a switch on the bottom. This manually selects the 12 side buttons as either the top number row on the keyboard or the number pad. Now I had always had it as the number pad. This worked great as I used the number row on the keyboard for my attack rotation, then the Numpad on the Naga as my interrupts and other more situational actions.

Well, that’s what the software does in the newer ones. That software that doesn’t work on OSX. Mapping the keys in WoW didn’t help because the mouse thinks its the number row. I did manage a work around as I made them all bound to SHIFT-number.

I was kind of disappointed, so I handed the Naga over to the Surface to work with. I do like that I can actually use it for multiple computers. I have the USB cable connected to the iMac, which works. And when I switch the BT on, the Surface connects to it.

Anyway, after some more research, I picked up a Logitech G604 for the iMac.

This is also a Bluetooth mouse (that was one of the criteria for my choice) and it has 6 side buttons. The Logitech software also works on OSX.

So this arrived and connected. It was really slow to move across my desktop (I have the 27” iMac and another 27” screen slaved to it). Then I got into the software and messed about with the settings. This helped.

I’ve also set up the keys when outside WoW as a bunch of short cuts.. cut, copy, paste, screenshot. Works well for that.

I have struggled a little with it in WoW, but I’ve also not played much so I reserve judgement on that side of things. I can’t quite seem to get the Logitech software to automatically switch profile as I thought it did. Again, I haven’t played with it much to be sure.

However, I have been having trouble with it even working. It will often lose the BT connection and simply stop. I’ve had to go through the reconnection steps several times. Switching it off, clearing it from the iMac’s BT list etc have eventually got it up and running.

The other trouble is that, well as I said, without the G-Suite application running, it’s really slow across the screen. At the OSX login screen (there are profiles for each family member on my iMac) its slow. And it remains slow even after login (or wake up from sleep) until the G-Suite kicks in. This can be several seconds. Or it isn’t until I actually open it. Or it just doesn’t.

This has all been quite frustrating. Sometimes it all gets back together, or I have to switch on the Apple Magic Mouse that I have, or I’ve resorted to plugging the Naga in (via its USB) cable. On one recent afternoon I had to dig out an old Apple Trackpad to get some response from the cursor on screen.

So in summary. Naga Pro isn’t great for OSX (well it’s not supposed to be). G604 seems really flakey. Apple Magic Mouse is good for general stuff, but not games, make sure you keep a trackpad around…

Anyone got an older working Naga they want to let go?

Oh and my old reliable Logitech M555 that I kept for travel seems to have died.

Marvel’s Agents of well not zzz

I have an apology to make. Way back in 2013 I posted my thoughts on the (at the time) new Marvel series. I wasn’t too impressed.

However, I’m deep into the third series, and while it’s not the best show ever (The Expanse is one of my picks for that), it is worth watching. So I don’t fully retract my comments at the time, but I’m enjoying it.

I didn’t like the lead hero, who turned out to be a bad guy (maybe I knew). And I kind of still don’t. It is still awesome to see Ming-Na (to the best of my knowledge the only Star Wars character, Marvel hero and Disney Princess – though technically the wife of a General doesn’t make her a princess).

But the stories have evolved from what I felt was like a bad guy/alien of the week to a series of engaging story arcs. It does and it doesn’t link in parts of the movie series. I’m not sure yet if it relates to the Inhuman series as well (I’ve had the same with that… it was watchable, but I didn’t really get into the show).

So worth a watch if you’ve been watching other parts of the Marvel universe. And probably engaging even if you haven’t.

D&D – Sleeping Dragon Wakes (Review)

With the next module in the series complete (aside from the tidy up) it’s a chance to review this one too.

Again, I think it is a pretty good module, with some interesting scenarios wound together into the story. I ran it without using the “Quest Board”, adding some story links to have the party get involved in things. Partly, so that I could control which parts I would need to prepare, but also, it fits with the story better. They were very much a part of the town by this stage, so having them look for jobs on a board made no sense. For a party that starts here, maybe it would fit?

A running battle with the sahuagin proved a challenge for the group. Later a similar, multi stage battle with some bandits could have really punished them, if the zombies and chimera waiting in the wings could have gotten involved. Some smart tactics helped them there. At the higher levels they are reaching, simply throwing a crowd of enemies isn’t really a challenge.

I gave them the full credit for getting in to meet the green dragon without having to fight almost anyone in the entire lair. They basically talked their way in, as they also did with the bronze dragon earlier. This made for some fun RP.

Overall a great part 2 of 3 adventure with a terrible “to be continued” ending. However, if you consider it all as one, then its not an ending.

For Roll20 users

Again, I added a bunch of maps, but nothing like the last module. I mostly reused a couple of maps with different creatures, to run random encounters, so not strictly required. The maps provided did a better job of covering the action. Might not be so for the next module.

And so it’s on to Divine Contention and the final showdown. The core of this is a long defence of the town itself as the two factions attack. It will really test the endurance of the group. It will also be interesting to see what they remember they have picked up (they have several healing scrolls that will come in handy – if they remember them!).

Screen Time

A mate at work had a pair of extra Quad Lock brackets he was happy to let go for cheap. There wasn’t anywhere spare on the clip ons that would let me fit the handlebar mount he had, and I wasn’t going to entertain the mirror stalk mount. Partly aesthetics, partly practicality and partly security to have it hanging out there in the breeze. It got me interested in the brand and I looked into the stem mount, but it would not fit on the hex stem that is common to Ninjas.

That was about six months ago. Now the other day, I was poking about on a Ninja 1000 discussion board when someone suggested a 1” ball stem mount they used, something specifically designed for the hex stem mount on Kawasaki. Something off eBay. They combined this item with a RAM 1” ball adjustable short arm. Then lastly, a Quad Lock 1” ball mount. I thought, I have one of those arms from my old Sony Actioncam set up. A search in eBay turned up a few of these stem mounts, so I’ve ordered one. I guess it will be a couple of weeks before it turns up.

In the meantime, I looked through the Quad Lock website (again). I bought the 1” ball mount and the case for my phone (with the “poncho” – a water proof cover). I also bought the car mount, I figured I could use it as well. The Quad Lock gear turned up within a couple of days. I’d barely had time to dig out the RAM arm. Fitted perfectly. Roughing it out, it looks like it should sit really nicely between the bar risers. I’ll just have to make sure I can access the ignition.

The case fits very nicely on the phone. It’s very slim and is less protection than my current Otterbox (another recommended brand), but I think it will be okay. The poncho slips on easily and looks to provide good weather protection. And the TouchID works through it as well.

So back to the mounting. The stem part arrived within a couple of weeks. Not bad I thought, as it came from the UK. It’s pretty simple. A 1″ ball with a hex driven bolt down the middle. There is a hex shaped nut on the other end. This has some petals coming from it and along the shaft is a washer (?) that expands the petal. Slide the shaft into the hole in the stem bolt. Tighten the hex bolt and the nut moves up the shaft. This pushes the petals against the washer, which forces them outwards and they grab the shaft of the slot. Done.

Then, connect the RAM arm and the Quad Lock mount and adjust to the desired angle. Job complete.

I haven’t had a test run, so will have to report on it separately.

Success!
Portrait mode
And Landscape.

Of course, the next step is to get power to the mount.

Well I may have something on that. Turns out there is a pair of connectors just under the left front fairing that have been provided for the factory heated handgrips. If they aren’t fitted (not fitted on my bike) there is a convenient, factory switched (so no battery drain) power supply right near the front of the bike. And would you believe Amazon has more goodies….

Like this dual USB and voltmeter. From what I’ve seen, people mount this into the dash on the bike. “Simply” cut a round hole in the plastic. I have seen a handlebar one that’s similar, but then I end up back in the same problem I had with the Quad Lock!

I swear, it’s not all because of the MotoGP trip planning!

New New Tent.

Perhaps buying the tent, then doing a bunch of Moto Camping research on the web was the wrong way around.

I set the tent up again (in the lounge) this morning, and this time, tried putting my gear in the tent as well. As expected, it was a tight fit, doable, but not a lot of room. And I’d hate to cuddle up to my jacket, having ridden all day in the rain…..

So back to the shops to plead my case.

They were happy to take the Mono back and let me pay the difference for the Bora, their 2 person. And still on sale, so almost half price.

Back home now, but I haven’t had a chance to set it up yet.

Physically, packed it’s only a little bigger than the Mono, say, about 5cm rounder and maybe 10cm longer. Still easily pack into my gear.

After watching a bunch of YouTube, I think my new plan would be to put all my “camp” stuff into the Kriega US30. This sits on the pillion seat. I arrive at camp, and take this bag off, set up camp. Done. Then packing up, I can put away everything, clothes, etc into the top box. Then pack the camp away into the US30 and then put it back on the bike. Simple.

New Tent

My tent has arrived. Quick set up in the lounge to see if everything is there and that it actually fit me.

Set up (Photo from Australian Geographic)


The tent is a Kathmandu Mono tent. By far the smallest, lightest tent I have ever used, but also the first solo tent I’ve used. Space inside the tent is roomy to sleep for a single person, with a small amount of space for a pack. I didn’t set the fly up, but there is a bit of a covered area included in that as well.

For me, having not had a tent for a while, it was interesting to see the way things worked. Tent poles with string inside that break down, but stay together. The inner is only pegged down (and held up by the poles) which I’ve not seen before. I don’t see that you would ever use it without the fly, and that adds a lot of stability as well.

Packed, it’s about 1.5kg, and about 14cm round and about 35cm long. With the sleeping bag being about the same, a little shorter and I picked up a thermal bag liner which is about a 10cm cube, it doesn’t take a lot of space up in the top box. And that should be all I need. Throw in a little towel, some utensils and some TP, I’m good to go. Cold camp though.

Packed. (Photo from Australian Geographic)

Has anyone ever done anything about keeping ants (mainly) from their tents? I don’t intend to keep loose food or anything in the tent which I am sure will go a long way. It’s about the only thing I am particularly worried about.

So now all I need to do, is try it out. Maybe I will camp out on my deck? And then for somewhere to try it out for real. Maybe Grey Gums up the Putty for an overnight. Or my next work trip…. (hmm that probably wouldn’t work as I’d all my work clothes as well).

Surface Pro 7 – Quick Thoughts

On Monday I worked from home as I didn’t want there to be any problems with the planned delivery of my Surface. The good natured teasing of my colleagues, talking about wrong deliveries and such did nothing to dampen my positivity. The only thing that did was that DHL was reporting 2 items out for delivery and not the third. Once again, the actual Surface was lagging behind.

Working in the study I can hear whenever our front gate opens and with the windows open for the breeze, even the few vehicles passing are easily heard.

I was deep in the middle of painting some Battletech minis when I heard the distinctive sound of a diesel engine idling along and a glance out the window confirmed a DHL van rolling along the street, clearly looking at house numbers. I went out and watched from the gate. There was no chance I was going to let them just “fake deliver” and just drop a card.

I felt a lot happier as he drew THREE boxes from the van and walked towards my gate.

And then it was here.

So I contained my excitement as I carefully packed away the minis and paints. I didn’t want any chance of spilling Waargh Flesh Green on the new Surface!

I ended up with the i7 16GB 256GB, along with the MS Pen, the Signature Pro Type Cover (not with alca… that cloth finish), an Arc Mouse and they threw in a free STM branded case (not a brand I’ve heard of). This case turned out to be more like a small laptop bag, rather than a snug sleeve that I was expecting. It was free, but it’s likely to sit unused in the cupboard.

First impressions. It’s a lot heavier than I expected, especially when compared to the iPad Pro 9.7 (it’s nearly double at 770g vs 440g). Larger, clearly (at 12.9″), but the aspect ratio seems nice for laptop (in landscape) and table style reading, note taking (in portrait). The weight and the lack of protection (I did already have a glass screen protector waiting to install) has meant that I’ve ordered a folio style cover for it. This will let me relax a little, carrying it about in class or at school. I’m also trying to find a nice vinyl overlay as that might look pretty cool.

A collection of software updates followed and a few installs and copying data around occurred for the next couple of hours. However, with most of my data in the cloud (in this case – OneDrive) that’s not so much of an issue these days.

I fluffed about putting a bunch of documents on the cloud and having them available offline on the Surface. This is quite smoothly done and so far space on the Surface has not been an issue, though on the smaller 128GB I had planned it might have been. I’ve added a few games, though being Tomb Raider: Guardian of Light and Trine 2, they aren’t asking for much. I will likely put a more recent TR on it as well, just to see.

And it compares very favourably to my PC performance wise, but then that’s a 2009 vintage i7 1st gen, so not hard. It worked fine on everything I threw at it. Sometimes the screen seems to need a firmer press than my iPad, but I think the screen protector may be a factor there as well.

But how does it go for my work? Well it was tested in real life today. I wouldn’t say this one YouTube video I had to show a class meant that the Surface paid for itself, but it’s put in its first payment. So again, this school has the teachers using their own (some were school issued, but you could BYOD as well) and so I arrived in the class with the teacher walking out with the laptop. She had passed me a lesson plan that used a YouTube video…

As luck would have it, she had a Surface Pro as well. So, a USB-C dongle was waiting that was already connected to the class display AND she had a Surface charger there as well. Sweet. Plugged in and connected to the screen without any button presses from me. Nice.

I did have some hiccups connecting to the network, but that was around my unfamiliarity with the school’s setup and not to do with the Surface or Windows. In the end, I hot spotted off my phone. The video was played and the lesson continued.

Some specific details below before my final thoughts.

Pen – The writing seems a bit clunkier than the Apple Pencil. In OneNote, it will take more practice to get smooth with it. Additionally, like iPadOS, prior to v14, using the Pen outside of a drawing function, that is, as a way to “write” text is awkward to say the least. On the plus side, in OneNote at least, you can convert Ink to Text. I am going to have to practice with this. But the Pencil was the same when I first got it…. it took more consistent use of it before it became “normal”.

Arc Mouse – I really think this is cool. Flat and slim, you “bend” it and it switches on (it’s Bluetooth). This also puts it in a shape that replicates the curve of a mouse. It has a smooth touch sensitive panel that acts as the left/right button and scroll wheel. I think this works very well. The only gripe is that I will need to learn a slightly different grip as the “sides” of the mouse are just air, so it feels like there is nowhere to rest your thumb. Overall, I like it.

ON and OFF.

Surface Pro Type Cover – Easily attached, nice feel keyboard. Happy with it. Make a good cover when folded closed.

OVERALL – I think it will work well as intended. My current teaching (mostly session by session in different classes) means that I am not writing day or unit plans and taking notes about things, so that side hasn’t been tested. The pen will take some more practice (just as the Pencil did).

Its a very nice laptop and a good tablet. Sure the Windows interface is a little less tablet than iPadOS but the tablet side has been built over the top of the many versions of desktop OS before it and it shows up all over the place. But a few clicks with the pen if your finger is too fat and it’s fine.

I am being positive about it meeting my needs, but I will say that after using iPad since the first one in 2010 I am a little set in my ways. It is going to take a little more than I thought to get used to Windows as a tablet/pen combination (as opposed to a desktop/keyboard/mouse).

DnD – Storm Lord’s Wrath

Okay, I thought, now that it is finished, a small review of the module might be handy for some. I will caution this review that this is only the second module I’ve run as DM since returning to DND after a 30 year hiatus.

Overall I thought it was an entertaining and pretty well balanced module. My group rang rings around it often, but that is some inexperience from me, as well as having 6 experienced players as my group. However, they didn’t always find it a walkover.

There are plenty of ways into this adventure, depending upon where your party is – I used a letter from Lord Neverember, looking for adventurers to support his new town and having heard of their success in Phandalin, he put an offer to them.

The Wayside inn encounter was good, would have been better if I had remembered that zombies have a “not die” chance. This would be a common theme in the early part of this module for me – inexperience as DM so forgetting to check for multi attacks, special abilities and the like. A little bit of roll play here, but I suggest that you read the Foul Weather at Wayside part before this as well, so you can get better RP going after this encounter.

The arrival at Leilon and ensuing encounters was a really good test for my players. Stringing the encounters out left the characters running out of spells, reducing their options as yet more bad guys appeared. The players really enjoyed this. But I would watch out for them to be overwhelmed and adjust accordingly.

I RP’d the House of Thalivar which the players enjoyed. No combat and almost no spells. The encounter with the Lizardfolk in the marsh and the encounters along the way were also a good series.

The goat herding trip to Phandalin was fun as well. Things had changed in the town and that challenged the party somewhat. People missing, new people. The three way fight would have been interesting to play, except my party uncovered the undead faction and incinerated them before this could occur. I think that they are still unaware that there are actually two bad factions at work. I think they will discover this very soon in the Sleeping Dragon module.

The rest of the module worked well as well. Well it would have if the party had not walked over various encounters, for example, even with additional hell hounds, they knocked over the big bad (of the module) in a couple of turns. They had more trouble with the hags they faced shortly after.

Some of the geography of the module is very unclear though… Where is the Thunder Cliffs in relation to the town? (It turns out that it is north, but even then, how far? I think I read somewhere that it is north of Neverwinter, so why would Leilon care? And if it’s not, then all the ship encounters have to happen in a single day? I located it a few days south. Even the first meeting outside of town, describes the settler’s camp, which is then drawn on the south side (most parties would arrive from the north, from Phandalin).

NOTES FOR ROLL 20: Here are some additional thoughts about the published Roll 20 Storm Lord’s Module.

I found (as I did for the Phandalin adventure) I had to add a lot of maps. This wouldn’t happen so much in a face to face game, as it’s easier to ad hoc an encounter, where as you really need a map in R20. So I created maps for outside Leilon, Leilon waterfront, all of the marsh encounters (except the actual meeting of Lizardfolk), the ghost ship, the rowing ashore under attack, the wyvern attack, the ogre attack, the undead base in Phandalin. I think that’s all.

In the end, this was kind of fun as I developed my own map-drawing skills and style, rather than using the free tiles etc in R20.

The manticore token was kinda wrong as well. There were a few tokens that were sort of messed up. The owner of Wayside is a swashbuckler lady, only the token is clearly male. In fact, it would be nice if there was a range of “Commoner” tokens to use for various occasions.

Review – Minecraft Dungeons (Switch)

It’s the 26 May. That was the release date on the website, on all the advertising. And we still waited.

And waited….

We’d been waiting for a couple of months. We’re not massive Minecraft players in our house, especially since the girls moved to Roblox. But we all thought that this looked interesting.

But it wasn’t until 11pm on the 26th that you could actually download it. So I had a little play around midnight before bed. I played a little more the next night, before revealing its existence to the girls.

So we’ve all had a go now. Miss 12 is the furthest through, almost finished the first run through. Miss 10 is having a go as I type. Miss 12 and I had a 2-up game as well.

It’s quite fun, not massively difficult and very Minecraft themed, without ANY building. None at all.

I did read it described as Diablo crossed with Minecraft. And the total of 20 minutes of Diablo I’ve played, that seems a fair assessment. It has the same 3rd person iso view and you basically run about killing Minecraft mobs in a Minecraft themed world.

Chaos ensues.

This isn’t a disappointment to be honest. I wanted something the girls might enjoy – I’m struggling through Witcher III on the Switch as a my penance (I’ve not played it before on any system). And wanted something I could have fun with, or we could all play together. And that’s what we’ve got.

The base camp you return to. Here you can purchase equipment and select missions. Also there are target dummies.

There isn’t any building – that’s probably the surprise. There are drops of equipment that you can upgrade yours with (very World of Warcraft, or very anything really). You can enchant this equipment which gives it bonuses and allows some customisation, giving your gear extra powers. In groups, some of the gear drops are tagged to a particular player to make sure its more fair.

It’s generous with health, giving you a recharging healing potion, and 3 lives. When in a party, a dead member can be revived by another player without subtracting from these lives. This makes it more playable for the younger ones but even then you can be overwhelmed, even in a party.

I did read in one review that they were happily introducing their kids to terms like kiting that many of us in MMOs and such are well familiar with. I’ve noticed me doing that as well. Or sometimes we’ll split into ranged and melee.

Tips so far

  • You can’t pause, and you can still be attacked when accessing your inventory, but also the game menu if you are on a mission!
  • When a player is revived by another player they have almost no health so HEAL UP straightaway!
  • When you create guest characters in a person’s game, they are still there all levelled and geared up next time you join in.

So what happened this year – 2019

About Bikes

Really happy with my decision to change over.

Well the Ninja has been out and about. I’ve put almost 16,000km on her this year and sees me in to the 3rd service since I picked her up, only about this time last year. I really enjoy the bike, and have been slowly tinkering to clean her up and set her up for me (like the awesome top box). I have been to Canberra twice and Newcastle once, but apart from work or commutes, there has been little in the way of fun only rides. Still she suits me well, is much better for what I do than the Daytona.

The Daytona is missed, but would likely have seen a fraction of the kms this year. I hear that almost without being ridden the new owner has sold it to a person down in Melbourne. Hopefully they will use her more.

I also rode a VFR during the year and was totally disappointed. I guess I’m now a 100kW or more rider.

I found this a disappointing ride

I would certainly love a 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 to replace this one, but I’m happy for now.

About Babes

Well I have one in High School now. A few hiccups at first, learning lessons about being responsible and planning your assignments but she seems to have settled in well, making good friends and doing well. The other is in Year 5 in 2020, which means High School too in 2022!

About Bytes

Well of course, there is the recently posted completion of BattleTech. Yay. I did enjoy that.

Lady Arano gets her throne back.

My degree is finished. I am waiting for the official results from the school, but to the best of my information, I’ve passed. I am now a fully qualified but not completely registered Primary School Teacher. Huh. That’s a bit different. (and the lack of study in no small way has contributed to the completion of Battletech!)

Just waiting for the official results

About Other Stuff

Dungeons and Dragons flashed back into my life. After a 30 year hiatus, suddenly I find myself Dungeon Master once a fortnight and ad hoc DM’ing for my daughter through an adventure. I am enjoying the distraction and my players seem to be enjoying my management. The accessibility and the ease of the current rules do help that.

And I think that’s a good summary of my year.

I am not sure where 2020 and especially 2021 will take me. I intend to slowly transition from my current employment into teaching through part time (at work) mixed with casual (at teaching) to ease into it. With the plan to switch completely in 2022. Let’s see what happens.