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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Apple isn’t “finally standing up to hackers” by offering The Interview on iTunes

This BGR headline is ridiculous. The reason Apple started streaming The Interview, is because they decided not to give all the distribution cut of the money from the film to Xbox Video (where I bought it) and Google Play. The film is making money, Apple is in the business of making money, and therefore they would be fools not to offer it. The question is why did they delay offering it and lose out on the initial surge of money. I doubt it’s because of Apple TV consumer demand. I doubt it’s because they initially thought the movie was in bad taste and didn’t want to release it. It was probably some legal/political negotiation point with Sony that delayed it… or simply Apple’s internal holiday logistical delays.

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Blogging again

So 2014 was a slow year for me in terms of blogging. I’m not making any sort of New Year’s resolution, because I don’t believe in them and gave them up years ago as my last New Year’s resolution, BUT I am resolved to return to blogging and be more vocal here than I have been going forward.

Because, lately, I haven’t felt as myself as I used to feel. I am a blogger, after all, and a good one. Time to re-embrace that destiny, and give up on things like being a writer, which isn’t the same thing, and which I’m not as good at. So there.

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I’ve made the switch to being more of a Windows user than Mac user

This is an odd place to be for a former Lead Blogger for The Unofficial Apple Weblog, but here I am. Sure I have an iPhone Plus and my work machine is a 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina, and I work for an awesome creative software studio that’s often working with Apple on cutting edge software for our clients. But, I realized sometime during the past year that in order to avoid the dark-side of my workaholic nature, and in order to still enjoy technology as I always have, I needed a separation between my work computing and my personal computing. And so I took the 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina that was my personal machine and which I’d been using for work for 2 years, and I sold it, and asked work to provide me with a computer.

This then sent me into determining exactly what I need in a personal computer. I knew I didn’t need another machine that simply became a replica of my work machine and was ill-used. One of my long-term goals has been to produce my own graphic novel, and over the past 5 years I’ve been trying to move from traditional art to digital art in support of that goal. What did I want in. a personal computer in support of this? A touchscreen interface with some sort of pen entry with pressure sensitivity, of course. On the Mac side of the world, there are no solutions for this. The closest to it is the Modbook Pro, but it’s a clunky hack that is based on older Apple hardware. Not to mention it’s expensive.

This summer there was a nice sale on the Cintiq Companion Windows tablet, so I bought one and that became my personal computer. It’s been a great improvement over the Wacom 13WX tablet that I used to own and which had a cumbersome external box that had to be hooked up to a separate computer to actually use the device. The Companion is a great drawing computer, and surprisingly, Windows 8.1 is a great OS for a device that straddles the world between tablet and computer. And it’s so much better than the days of XP (which was the last time I was a Windows user). Sure, it has a bit of a split personality between the two different versions of Internet Explorer, etc., but more often than not it works at its chief job of getting out of my way and letting me do what I want to do.

Thanks to the Cintiq Companion and some time refining my characters, I’ve relaunched Bosh and Bill, both as a graphic novel initiative, and moved it from a dying Crowd Fusion site to an easily maintained Tumblr site (Sorry, Brian). And now I’ve finished at least an early draft of Page 1 of the first Origin story of Bosh and Bill and I’m getting good feedback on it from r/comic-crits.

So, it’s been great. But guess what? The Companion is still just a tad bit too big and cumbersome for sketchbook level doodling when I am sitting in my recliner at night juggling one of my kids in my lap, or when I’m reclining in bed at night. You know what’s a horrible tool for drawing on? The iPad. It’s just bad. People are making great art on it, but they’re basically training themselves to be specialized digital finger painters and they’re doing lots of infinite zooming and strategic erasing to get to the detail they want. It’s not convenient for an actual mobile creative workflow.

You know what is conducive to that? My brand new Surface Pro 3. I picked one up yesterday courtesy of some Christmas + early birthday gifts from my family. It’s the lowest end i5 model that was on sale for $899. I also got the cyan blue keyboard cover for it for $100 more. That’s on par with the cheapest MacBook Air you can get, and you know what? It actually is better. It’s faster, the screen is closer to “retina” than an entry level MacBook Air, and it’s a great slightly-larger than an iPad tablet device that can do so much more. I’m writing this blog post on it and so far I love it. The N-trig based pen needs calibration on a semi-regular basis and isn’t as good as the Companion’s Cintiq pressure sensitive pen on its matte paper-like screen, but it works great as a balance a kid on one knee and doodle a bit drawing device that I will actually use to accentuate my workflow and produce more drawing more often.

Also, has anyone been paying attention to OneDrive? Holy unlimited online storage, batman! I have 10TBs of storage currently available to me and if I get close to loading that to brim I just have to email them and request more. That is an amazing game changer. The smallish hard drive size on both my Companion and Surface (128GBs each) doesn’t matter with that type of large available always on storage with full backup. It’s great. Suddenly, Google Apps for free vs $100 a year for full on Office 360 PLUS UNLIMITED CLOUD STORAGE = a no brainer in Microsoft’s favor. This is all incredibly smart, and I’m very bullish on Microsoft these days due to all these smart changes.

So, in any case, I’m mostly Windows in my personal life now. So far it’s working out great. I’ll keep you posted.

Posted in Art, Cintiq Companion, comics, Gadgets, My Gear, Personal, Surface Pro 3 | Comments Off on I’ve made the switch to being more of a Windows user than Mac user