Ditched my Cintiq Companion and upgraded my Surface Pro 3

So yesterday, I went to the Microsoft Store at the Domain, and traded in my just under a month old i5 128GB Surface Pro 3 for the top of the line i7 500GB model. I did this with funds I made from selling my Cintiq Companion this past week on Amazon Marketplace for ~$78 more net profit than I originally paid for it (thanks to getting it this summer when Wacom was running a summer ~$500 off sale + Cintiq Companion’s being hard to come by currently while everyone awaits the release of the newly announced Cintiq Companion 2). Aside: If you want to sell old gear fast at reasonable prices, you should really investigate using Amazon. Everything I’ve listed there has sold at asking price in under a week. This time it was just 2 days. The process of setting up the new computer has been rather seamless. I had to transfer some files that I hadn’t already backed up to OneDrive while in the store, but once I got home, all I had to do was reinstall the apps that I hadn’t purchased via the Microsoft Store. Everything else was already syncing automagically via OneDrive.

So the reason for all this, besides having a separate personal machine from my work machine, which has been great, is because for all the things I’m really interested in doing right now, like working on Bosh and Bill and crafting children’s books with Jackson, the Surface is great. Not only that, but as a digital drawing device, it’s good enough to get the job done and to help me not obsess about everything being perfect. I need to become more fluid in my cartooning and relax. 256 levels of pressure is better for that than the 2K+ of the Cintiq Companion. That being said, I totally will eventually want a Companion 2 when they come out, as the screen resolution increase + the ability to use it just as a Cintiq when attached to another computer are both really cool and I do *love* Cintiqs. But that doesn’t change the fact that I need to be doing more doodling on actual paper and quick digital cleanup work rather than obsessing over the tech and the Surface is right-sized for me doodling more everywhere digitally.

Also, the difference in price between the Surface Pro 3 upgrade and the money I made from selling my Companion results in some extra money to go towards a nice large format scanner and some non-digital art supplies.

Added bonus: I no longer feel cramped on my Surface in terms of hard drive space, so I’m actually free to move more of my photos to my OneDrive archive via Lightroom than I had to date. I’ll eventually be able to stop carrying around the 2TB Seagate drive I’ve been using for keeping my photo library portable, and rely on a combination of OneDrive, plus the internal drive on this Surface, with the Seagate becoming a true external backup solution rather than a “my hard drive isn’t big enough solution.”

Aside from all this, I’m working on a big blog post about software development and engineering that I think many of you may like once I actually finish it./

Posted in Art, Cintiq Companion, comics, doodling, Gadgets, My Gear, Personal, sketching, Surface Pro 3 | Comments Off on Ditched my Cintiq Companion and upgraded my Surface Pro 3

No more advertisements

I’ve had advertisements on this site forever. I just removed them. There’s no point. In any case, if you like the things I tend to write and do and you want to motivate me to keep doing these things / do them more often, I set up a Patreon page where you can become a patron.

Although, I must say, although I like the idea behind Patreon, I don’t like the execution much. It’s very inflexible. Why can’t I set up different types of patronage for different endeavors at different price points? Why is everything either recurring by month or recurring by thing created? Why is there no one-time tip jar option? Why is there no commission option? Why is the wizard to create your page soooo annoying that it makes me want to create my own version of Patreon in competition to it?

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As I tweeted earlier today, I’m now the answer to life, the universe, and everything years old.

Kristin asked me if I felt older on the way to church this morning, and my reply was, “I feel like I’m learning new things recently.” This is my first birthday without a dad and it’s about 6 months since he passed. I was struck oddly today by the lack of him calling me up to sing the silly penny song that he’s sung to me every birthday that I can remember (counting pennies you receive for each year behind you). But beyond that small sadness, I’ve been examining my life in detail since he’s passed.

It’s been intense.

Most of my friends who have lost parents say that this period lasts for at least a year and that it is especially intense if you have kids, because you’re forced to come to terms with the fact that you had a parent, you’re a parent, and you’re mortal just like that parent, and your kid(s) is(are) eventually going to be going through everything you’re currently going through when you pass. Then there’s another layer to that where I realize, much more profoundly than I ever have before, that my dad was just a man, just like me, and just like everybody else. We’re all individuals, but we’re also all the same. We’re all just trying to figure life out and are attempting to do the best we can.

It sounds simple, but it’s been mind-blowing for me.

There are no rules. There are only consequences.

And when I say there are consequences, they are legion and often unpredictable. Out of those consequences we actually understand, we construct the rules we will follow.

I’m starting to realize that there’s no reason for me to follow some of the rules I’ve always had. I don’t have to hold myself always accountable and responsible for everything around me and for all the mistakes and decisions of those who I feel are part of my life. That’s not my responsibility. Again, it sounds simple, but that realization has lifted a weight from me and been exceptionally freeing, and has given me more grace when dealing with others’ decisions.

It’s also allowed me to start pursuing things that I never really allowed myself to pursue in the past. I’ve been making time for C.K. again. Instead of being some distancing thing, it’s been great and made me want to do more with others; especially when I see how interested Jackson is in participating in these creative things with me.

It’s amazing how, in life, you can always learn more and grow. I feel like such a kid.

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I love my new Kindle Voyage

Kindle Voyage
Thanks to my in-laws, Curt & Marian, I got a brand new Kindle Voyage (WiFi with Special Offers) for Christmas, and so far it’s been a great upgrade from the low end model Kindle that had replaced my Kindle Paperwhite that I broke over a year ago (flew out of my bag while I was slinging said bag into the trunk of my car; Kindle Paperwhite landing screen down on the parking lot pavement). The 300 dpi screen is definitely noticeably sharper than previous generations and the lighting has been improved since the Paperwhite came out. It’s now very even, with no noticeable dark spots and the auto-adjust appears to actually light things properly rather than making the screen brighter than is needed in a dark room.

The screen refresh time is near instant now, too, so greatly improved over old school e-ink readers. This makes the browser on the device actually usable. Even the on screen keyboard is quickly responsive now thanks to the touch screen. I love the buttons on the Voyage and even don’t mind the slight bit of haptic feedback you get when you click on the forward and back buttons (which are really less buttons that clickable parts around the border of the screen). The weight of the Voyage and its size are good for reading one-handed in bed at night, and since the light is produced by LEDs shining from the sides vs a backlit display like on your tablet or phone, it doesn’t cause the same sort of eyestrain or bad I’m-about-to-go-to-sleep-and-staring-at-a-bright-LED-screen mojo that people are doing all kinds of studies about. It’s more like reading with your lamp on, except you can have the lamp off, the Kindle Voyage on and just flick it off when you’re ready to sleep.

A page from Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 1 on the Kindle Voyage

A page from Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 1 on the Kindle Voyage

Comic reading is great on the Kindle Voyage as long as you’re reading something that is black and white. There’s a comic reading mode that shows you the full page and then zooms in on each panel as you click next page and previous.

Also, the Family reading set up means that Kristin can finally have her own fully separate Kindle and we can stop the nonsense of sharing one account, polluting each others “last page read” and libraries. There’s also the standard FreeTime time limited kid modes that are available on the Fire tablets, which I think will come in handy once Jackson is just a little bit older and I trust him with my Kindle.

In any case, it’s a great upgrade for a focused reading device.

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No more standing desk

No more standing desk

This is a brand new shot of my office at Chaotic Moon. The past year and a half, I’ve been working at a standing desk, but this morning I walked in, grabbed a free chair, removed the four screws from the legs of my desk that were holding it at standing height, and adjusted them down to a comfortable ergonomic height for me to work while seated.


Well, first off: there have been many positive side effects from working standing up over the past year and a half. All of the lower back issues that I had been having all but disappeared last year. My legs and ankles have grown noticeably stronger. My right leg has always been less stable since I tore my ACL playing football back in high school, and I’ve always been prone to twisting that ankle. Since I’ve been using the standing desk, I have gone from twisting my ankle to once or twice every month or so to it never happening. So that’s something.

However, the main reason I got into the standing desk fad, was to ensure that I was having good posture to help address the back pain issues I’ve been facing ever since I started having to carry small humans around on a regular basis. Last year I went through some steroid shots to the spine to address a compressed disk between two of the vertebrae in my neck. The shots worked and everything has been great since, until about a week before Thanksgiving when I suddenly had some pretty severe back pain again. I went to my spine doctor and discovered that the symptoms indicate that it wasn’t a return of the same disk pushing into my nerves, but the disk below that one in the next set of vertebrae in my neck, which had looked like it was trending bad, but not as bad as the initial disk last year. Now it’s flaring up. But not as bad.

Oral steroids were prescribed and they seemed to have largely worked. All the pain is gone 98% of the time, every once in a while I move my neck in a way I shouldn’t right now and there’s pain, and then there is some slight tingling numbness in my right hand’s pinky finger. I also am still having to prop myself up slightly at night so that I’m not lying flat in bed. I have a follow up appointment in early January to see about another dose of steroids or to see if I need to go get a new MRI and line up shots like I did last year.

So all has been trending good…until yesterday. Yesterday was my first day back at work after a week off for Christmas. At the end of the day yesterday, after standing at my desk all day, all of a sudden the tightness in my back where the pain has been was back and feeling like it was trying to spasm back into full force pain.

So this morning, I changed my layout to the layout pictured above and I no longer have a standing desk (although I can still stand from time to time, as needed, thanks to the tiers).

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