May 27, 2016

T-Shirts and Art on Mountain of Strength

By | 2016-05-27T13:47:17+00:00 May 27th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on T-Shirts and Art on Mountain of Strength

One thing I love doing is showcasing artwork and this is especially true of Fantasy/Sci-Fi art that I run across in doing my normal product reviews.  So recently  I was contacted by an artist named Aaron Hover who provides artwork services as well as sells some of his artwork over at MountainofStrength.net and I asked him to send me some examples of his work and I would be happy to share it with my friends and fans.

Well, Aaron provided me with a few T-Shirts, one for my oldest son and one for myself.  Which I will showcase below, but more than just selling some artwork on his store which includes T-Shirts, Posters, Pillows, Mugs, phone cases…etc.

mountainofstrength (1) mountainofstrength (2)
mountainofstrength (4)

So my son received the Let’s Get Kraken T-shirt Blue, and I received the Little Dragon 2 T-Shirt Red.  I have to tell you that not only is the artwork fun and creative, the T-Shirt material is incredibly soft and comfortable so whichever T-Shirt supplier he is using behind the scenes make comfortable T-Shirts.

dragonkrakenshirts

I bought my son some Jinx T-Shirts for World of Warcraft and he says these shirts from Mountain of Strength are more comfortable and prefers them.

But it isn’t just Aaron’s store I wanted to showcase, you can actually hire Aaron to do artwork, graphics design or illustrations for any project you have and this can be for things like Book Cover illustrations, Game Design, Board Game or Trading Card artwork and more.  I have wished I had artistic talent and you really should check out some of his portfolio work if you want to see the types of images, design and artwork he comes up with.

 

Honestly, I was impressed with all the illustrations by Aaron Hover and I encourage you to take a look at his stuff over at Mountain of Strength.

You can also Follow Mountain of Strength on Facebook and Twitter.

May 23, 2016

A Gaming Dad’s Sunday

By | 2016-05-23T12:51:50+00:00 May 23rd, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on A Gaming Dad’s Sunday

Sunday was a rather interesting one and started with a long drive back from Ensenada, Mexico where my wife and I spent our 20th Anniversary of the day we met together celebrating.  We left at 2:30am to arrive at the border by 5am’ish and crossed into US and was back home in Encinitas by 6am.  Lack of sleep didn’t stop me, and Sunday turned into an epic gaming day with the boys.

Some Fallout 4 Far Harbor Play

In between doing laundry, and grocery shopping since my wife was feeling a bit ill.  I kicked off the day Live Streaming Fallout 4 Far Harbor, then my son and I dove into The Elder Scrolls Online for about 3 hours together, while my other son and I went on to play Uncharted 4 for about an hour and a half before we all culminated in some PS4 Sports Friends gameplay to cap off the evening.

Some Uncharted 4 Play

A spectacular gaming Sunday in where it was spread across 4 games, and I am looking forward to a Memorial Gaming Weekend with Overwatch releasing today, and finishing Far Harbor and more of Uncharted 4.  Gaming Times, Gaming Times.

Apr 14, 2016

The Blogging Conundrum and Shutting Down 4 Sites

By | 2016-04-13T11:31:18+00:00 April 14th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Blogging Conundrum and Shutting Down 4 Sites

I am one who always loves having pet projects and this has lead me at one point to have over 7 blogs simultaneously running and trying to keep up producing content and information and experimenting in growing in different niches and areas.  Unfortunately this left me scattered and not able to be dedicated and focused too much on my smaller sites and many had gone idle over the past year and a half.  This combined with my work becoming more complex and needing more hours and time, I realized that I had lost my favorite activities “gaming time” by being consumed keeping up with all my sites.  This mean’t my gaming hours were whittled down to less per week than I have fingers on one hand.

This also mean’t I was paying hosting fees for several providers many for sites I as producing 1 post per month on as of late.  As a result I have made a very heavy decision to discontinue and shut down many of my sites, sites that I knew would not be sellable as there was no income model they were more for fun and just experiments.

This included Wanderer Thoughts Poetry which was one of my creative poetry outlets as a blog, though I used an excellent plugin to convert all my poems into Word documents and will be using them to flush out the next series of Kindle Books which I already had 2 published, I can turn those poems into the other series of Kindle Books, so those aren’t lost.  Though I do miss doing the Random Twitter Poetry game, I had no time to do it anymore and contributions became so infrequent even when making calls I wasn’t getting the engagement in previous years.

The Chefs Cookbook was a culinary blog originally started by my wife who went a different direction with her career and didn’t want to continue it, I maintained it because it still had 500-1500 views per month and had some active interest, but it gradually whittled away as I am not a cook, I can’t really create my own content easily and the guest posting content provided wasn’t sustaining it.  It wasn’t really a sellable property other than the domain name, because much of my wife’s original content and personally created content made up the site which we didn’t want to be sold.

WPCypher was a dedicated WordPress, Web Development and Internet blog where I had originally was shifting WordPress, Blogging, Code and Plugin reviews off of DragonBlogger.com to this site, but I wasn’t able to keep active and produce enough content to justify keeping it operational so I ported over some choice content that did well to Dragonblogger and shut the site down.

GiveawayContests also was a site that was good in theory but unneeded, which was meant to simply be a consolidation of giveaways and sweepstakes found online, instead I was able to accomplish just as much with dlvr.it feeds to the Facebook fanpage and just retire the WordPress site itself.  The reason is giveaways have such a short duration of validity and having a site that just has thousands of expired giveaway posts is simply a waste of a database, so to me something like this was better to run as only a social media channel where posts are short lived, and you have limited time to view/enter without any need to keep track of expired giveaways in outdated posts that just waste space on the Internet.

Now this site, JustinGermino.com is one I struggled with deciding what to do with.  I considered shutting it down but obviously I would never let my own name DNS name be released, and just park it, it doesn’t generate much traffic or income, but I do get enough requests for local product reviews or servicers (more when I lived in AZ since moving to CA) and since this site is all about me and my own thoughts, decided to basically merge anything I would put on Wanderer Thoughts Going forward into this site as my personal blog.  So this site will remain my only other site that I maintain besides Dragonblogger.com for the foreseeable future.

 

 

Feb 18, 2016

Blizzard and Starcraft Legacy of the Void

By | 2016-02-16T21:19:25+00:00 February 18th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Blizzard and Starcraft Legacy of the Void

I am in the middle of the campaign for Blizzard’s Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void and I can say it doesn’t take much for me to remember why I love Blizzard as a gaming company and what makes the Starcraft universe so special to me. I first played Starcraft when it released and I remember taking a whole week off work back then just to play the game day and night falling in with the story of Raynor, Kerrigan, Tassadar and others. I named my cat at the time Tassadar who kind of looked like a Protoss in the face to me, and the story and campaign while borrowed from other Sci-Fi genre was backed by amazing visuals and the same real time strategy style which made Warcraft so popular.

Blizzard always had a knack for CGI between missions and creating compelling characters you care about and follow on their journey, Starcraft always had a hold of me, more so than World of Warcraft which was ironic given my D&D history and love of fantasy, I just never did “feel the MMO” like I did traditional RPG games.

So far I am most impressed with Legacy of the Void and am enjoying the game very much, if you were a Starcraft 2 fan then picking up the final chapter is well worth it and you won’t be disappointed.

Feb 16, 2016

Life Can Teach So Many Lessons

By | 2016-02-16T21:16:59+00:00 February 16th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Life Can Teach So Many Lessons

If there is one thing that I can say for certain is that life is about expecting the unexpected and that you will be faced with challenges and decisions that you may never think you will ever have to face or could ever face. This is where people learn who they really are and find where their strengths and weaknesses lie and while many make it through most of life’s tests intact, there are others who stumble and falter and the tests lead to decisions and mistakes that have devastating consequences. The thing about being human is that we are not living some pre-programmed existence like a worker bee whose genetic programming is to do a single function for the hive cluster. We are individuals and operate individually off of our own experiences, thoughts, trauma, learned behaviors and modeled behaviors we see and think are the acceptable norm.

Learning, Loving, and above all else showing compassion and respect to all others is the key to redemption if you find yourself in one of those situations where the road forked and you went left instead of right. Though the road may be broken and you may never end up making amends or achieving full redemption you can at least leverage mistakes to change course and do the right thing going forward. Some consequences are severe enough you can’t undo or recover from them, you have to pick up and move on and improve in every way possible.

It is all too easy to give up and walk away from consequences, hide from them, drown them out or simply ignore and delay accepting accountability and the changes that are needed. This is the time to rise up and become the strongest, bravest and most determined person you have ever become in your life. The time to walk the right road after you may have ended up in circles, where you started or simply in the wrong location.

Carry your burden, while some would say you need to forgive yourself and love yourself, don’t do this too quickly. Acknowledge and accept the burden that comes with mistakes and then find the path to redemption and even if there isn’t a clear one, find the path on how you can at least try. Is it really so hard for one to simply look at every person they encounter every day and simply have empathy and compassion for each other soul struggling to make it through this harsh life?

Dec 29, 2015

InMotion WordPress Hosting 9 Months Later

By | 2015-12-29T08:47:29+00:00 December 29th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on InMotion WordPress Hosting 9 Months Later

So I had switched most of my smaller blogs over to InMotion Web Hosting back in March 2015 and haven’t really looked back.  InMotion hosting provided me a seamless way to transition my sites over, and in fact I was so busy that I didn’t have time to migrate my sites away from my previous hosting provider so InMotion Hosting literally copied everything from my old host to my new InMotion hosting for me and when it was all done my site was up and running flawlessly on my new hosting provider.

Now, they copied not only the WordPress theme, database and plugins, but they also transported over years worth of upload files, the ones you add when uploading images and media to posts so I had media and image files between 2009 and 2015 that was all transported and uploaded too.  They do all of this for free for the 1st site you want transferred, and only charge a relatively reasonable cost for migrating additional sites.  I found it to be well worth the extra fee because if it saved you 4-5 hours of time yourself migrating your site, this to me was worth the cost, time was worth more to me.

You get CPanel which I always prefer to make things easier too, the Paper Lantern theme for me is preferable as it is always easier to search and find the function you are looking for in CPanel than the traditional X3 interface.

Of course you also get a couple of great advertising starter deals when you sign up and start hosting with InMotion as well. Not only do you get $100 in AdWords credit, but you also get Bing/Yahoo credit, Amazon Product ad credit and listing on YP.com.

You get access to all your normal reports and analytics from the web host dashboard as well.  But with Unlimited bandwidth and disk space you don’t have to worry about having to pay more just because you are storing more media files in your uploads folder, or have traffic spikes that use more bandwidth.

If you host video or audio files on your WordPress site itself and don’t use a cloud streaming service for your rich media, you will appreciate the unlimited disk and bandwidth space.  I have a much more expensive hosting provider for my main site due to needing more CPU/RAM needs than a shared hosting plan and I don’t get unlimited disk space and it gets costly.

InMotion hosting is also incredible stable and the uptime has been very good, better than my previous Bluehost or HostMonster plans in the past.  I also can tell you with all plans being hosted on SSD drives, you get better pageload and hosting speeds than you do and this is especially true if you leverage disk based caching like W3 Total Cache does when configured.

InMotion Hosting after 9 months of using it for 5 of my WordPress blogs gets my thumbs up, I have only had to open a single trouble ticket with the company in 9 months (since my original tickets to get my sites migrated). Opening a single trouble ticket in 9 months is actually a very long time, I had to open 2-3 on my main site in that length of time with a hosting provider that costs 4x as much per month.

For those who need more power than a shared plan, InMotion Hosting has pretty decent VPS hosting plans as well which give you more RAM for the price than most other hosting provider plans do.  Overall if you get less than 7k visits per day on your site, then you may be able to be supported just fine on shared hosting leveraging either Incapsula, Cloudflare and W3 Total Cache.

Dec 17, 2015

Spending a Lot of Time Playing Fallout 4

By | 2015-12-16T11:33:58+00:00 December 17th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Spending a Lot of Time Playing Fallout 4

Fallout 4 is the Holiday game that both my kids and I wanted and will be consuming most of our free time over the next upcoming weeks.  I had been a Fallout fan since the original with the turn based strategy combat still being my preference.  This is why when I play Fallout 4 I still tend to use VATS and get near turn based strategy with targeting attacks, rather than playing it like an FPS completely.

Just can’t through frag grenades or do some other stuff with VATS.  I found some of the comical critical hits like when blowing someones head off and it becomes a severed head that floats off of the body rather than a head that explodes as seen in the video.

The game is fun, engaging and there is a ton of open world stuff to explore.  Perk up and play!

Nov 9, 2015

Instant Gratification Generation Worsened by Social Media and Waiting for Fallout 4

By | 2015-11-09T09:51:14+00:00 November 9th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Instant Gratification Generation Worsened by Social Media and Waiting for Fallout 4

Man you would think the end of times was coming the way my kids were desperate about getting “Day 1” release games on the day they released. Waiting until Christmas was “too long” and the game would already age, with thousands of vids and walkthroughs online already.  This is what parents face now in this generation of social media and online video, where consumerism and all the marketing and sharing behind it make it that much harder for parents to try and teach their kids that “rewards” and “gifts” are not instant.  If it isn’t a Birthday or special occasion it is imperative that they learn luxuries and wants must be earned through hard work, reward system or sometimes simply saving and avoiding the urge to spend anything you do earn immediately.

As someone who telecommutes and gets gadgets sent to me all the time to review for Dragon Blogger, I can honestly tell you this is much harder in my house than in most perhaps.  The fact my kids see me get games, products and stuff all the time to do reviews makes it seem to them like I get all the cool and great stuff immediately without having to wait, delay or save up.  Realistically this is another part time job, reviewing products and it is something that I negotiate services for.  It gets explained but not always understood or accepted.

Also, not even I could negotiate a free copy of Fallout 4 to review, so I am having to wait until Christmas forcing myself to delay to set an example for my kids that we can’t always get what we want even on the day it releases.  Even though I could afford to buy it for myself, I decided to bite the bullet and set an example with this one.  It would be too much of a tease to play a game I wanted as much as them, and they would be forced to wait.  Sure I could put the “I work and earn money, and can afford to get it for myself” item but this would not be setting an ideal example, and I am willing to wait with them and show them that I can wait too just like they can.

Things are just so different from when I was a kid, there was so few new releases and toys compared to how much stuff gets constantly released now.  I used to spend allowance as soon as I got it just like they do, but I was more patient in waiting for occasions to get gifts.  Of course there was no YouTube, Twitch and other endless channels to cram what I wanted down my throat and “show me” how much I was missing out partaking in this awesome game or activity.  Instead you usually heard about the kid or two in school who got it already and asked how it was and listened in awe, or if they were particularly cruel used to tease and tell you how great it is and spoil it.

Of course, I still have the mindset that I don’t like to watch game play period, I like playing a game and experience it with no prior knowledge or video.  I read reviews only for issues or severe failures in a game like Aliens: Colonial Marines I may have wasted my money on if I didn’t do the research to see how bad the game actually ended up being.  But I particularly am not fond of Let’s Play or video game walk throughs as it ruins the story and immersion for me, my kids however are all about watching the gameplay and this makes them want the games more, and with sandbox games this lets them create their own stories and adventures.  But I don’t think this has the same benefit with campaigns and closed games, where the story is fixed and if you watched it before, it isn’t new and therefore you have no excitement value when you are seeing something already seen.

Either way, patience is something sorely needed in a generation wanting instant gratification and we fight the good fight, but always hope our kids can learn to tell the difference between needs and wants, and develop the hard working ethic to get rewarded only after doing the work and putting in the effort to provide the benefits.

Share with me your stories on how much you struggle teaching kids to wait and the difference between want and need!

Oct 17, 2015

Remember to Check the Mic When Doing Video!

By | 2015-10-16T13:29:26+00:00 October 17th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Remember to Check the Mic When Doing Video!

Man, nothing like doing a long recording and finding that there is a problem with the mic audio, I didn’t want to waste the video for this Mechanical Keyboard from Havit that I am reviewing for DragonBlogger.com so I just wound up using it as a blooper.  I will end up having to re-record the entire video anyway, but I do love this mechanical keyboard though my family complains how loud the keys are when I pound away on them at 95 Words Per Minute

In all seriousness, if you do any sort of video blogging (vlogging) or video it is a good idea to always take the time to do a quick 30 second check, stop (make sure your sound and levels are right) then proceed to start doing the official recording. A quick 30 second check could have spared me some time!

 

Silent Review of the HAVIT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard!