Review | 2017.11.25

2018 Zero S crafted in California
Zero S

The Duc needs a new clutch, a valve adjustment, and maybe some troubleshooting of the cutch hydraulics. Between that, 50k+ miles, and having my eye on the ebike scene since I first saw them at Laguna, it seemed like a good time to go for it.

2018 Zero S Ducati 900 Supersport nude

Most of my time is spent within a five-mile radius that gets pretty darned gridlocked, so an electric bike makes quite a bit more sense than even what has proven to be a very reliable Italian machine. I haven't settled on Adrea's fate, but keeping her as a fun/project bike is a lot easier with a commuter on hand.

2018 Zero S Philz Coffee San Diego

Check out that heat sink. Fit and finish seems good. They're designed in Santa Cruz, I'm not sure where they're built, but it's nice to buy local. The other player in the game, Brammo out of Oregon, was apparently bought by Polaris and then EOLed. The major Japanese manufacturers have teased prototypes for years, but remarkably nothing has hit market. Maybe the market says electric is unnecessary when you get 40+ mpg with Corvette performance.

I've always been leery of batteries. They're finicky and they wear out. I'm resting some hope in the fact that Zero has been doing this for the better part of a decade and that they provide a five year warranty.

2018 Zero S electric motor rear shock

The Zero feels a lot different from the Duc - but maybe not as much as Ty's Trimph or Rob's CB350. The torque is familiar, but the riding style is way more upright. At 313 lb, she's pretty nimble. I went with the smallest battery since it'll get me to Carlsbad and back, which is about as far into north county as I dare go anyway.
2018 Zero S rear sprocket belt drive

Belt drive, we'll see how that goes. The rear tire isn't especially wide - again, it's more of a practical machine.

2018 Zero S brake master cylinder

I kind of miss shifting, but not as much as I thought I would. Not sure what to do with my left hand/foot, maybe some sort of cell phone interface?

2018 Zero S La Jolla Cove overlook

I won't say she's the prettiest thing around, even for the streetfighter form factor. Exhibit a:

Ducati Streetfighter product image

Hopefully there are some aftermarket parts available. I'd love to do some carbon to tone down that silver. Definitely going to see about fitting on a bar-end mirror and getting rid of the license plate holding monstrosity.
Rebel Galaxy

Rebel Galaxy screenshot video game endless space nebula

I was sick for a couple days recently. Whilst sucking down dayquil I pulled Rebel Galaxy out of the PS+ library. I had finished Persona 5, but wasn't in a place to take on Metal Gear or Uncharted.

Sid Meiers Pirates ship piracy video games

The closest thing to it is Sid Meier's Pirates. You progress a career of ship's captain, upgrading craft and completing quests in a vibrant and lawless world.

Rebel Galaxy video game dodging asteroids

The combat is actually quite similar as well. Your primary attack is a broadside, so tactics involve maneuvering your ship to unleash hell. There's no wind, but there's plenty to maneuver around.

Rebel Galaxy video game screenshot starship battle

The player is confined to a 2d plane, and while other craft are not, the game autoaims on the z-axis (like Doom). This is actually quite slick, handling 3d space would be difficult.

Rebel Galaxy video game HUD overview

So you have your broadside weapons and then a bunch of turrets that primarily fire via AI. There are ones that specialize in shield/hull penetration or capital ship or fighters. Likewise, you have four quadrants with a shield and hull layer which you have to manage while lining up your shots. You also have a deflector which gives you temporary invincibility - this can help you get out of a jam and adds a skill/timing element to predicting hits.

Enemies have identical mechanics, and you can see their status in their target info.

The combat system is pretty strong. It doesn't progress too much and therefore feels a bit stale after 15 hours of playtime, but getting new mods keeps things interesting. The music rocks in a very Warp Riders way, unfortunately there aren't many tracks.

Rebel Galaxy system map Rebel Galaxy sector map

Each system has a diameter of a few minutes at warp speed, each of these have a gate to the rest of the sector. There isn't much to differentiate the systems, just enemy level and layout.

Rebel Galaxy screenshot economy commodoities market YOLOs FDs

Stuff costs money. Lots of money. So in addition to completing combat quests, you can haul cargo around the sector and try to capitalize on trade rates. So what happens when you are in a system that is higher level than you but you really want to make a delivery? Blockade run:

Rebel Galaxy screenshot shipyard Blackgate upgrade

So aside from a host of different offensive and defensive upgrade types (that unfortunately just scale I, II, III...), there are quite a few ships available for purchase.

Rebel Galaxy screenshot guilds

There are a bunch of features that seemed like they had huge sections of //TBD. The merchant and mercenary guilds will take your money and give you access to a few special ships, but their interactions are limited to that.

Rebel Galaxy No more talk just blood boring conversation anyway

Similarly, the unarmed transport you're shaking down or the pirate captain will let you hail them, but it's just a brief exchange of words that goes nowhere.

Rebel Galaxy screenshot Militia Torpedo Bomber

Conversations aside, the denizens of the rebel galaxy aren't always hostile. There are neutral traders, friendly militias, and groups that will be friendly or hostile depending on your affiliations or cargo. That's fairly refreshing. You can also find seige fleets and peace delegations - which hint at some sort of overarching political environment - but I never saw it manifest in way beyond this.

Rebel Galaxy combat explosions Rebel Galaxy combat explosions Rebel Galaxy Bandar Urquhart combat broadside Rebel Galaxy Bandar Viriax combat

The pyrotechnics are pretty top-notch though.

Rebel Galaxy video game screenshot capital ship

The story is basically filler added to a cool sandbox world. You look for your aunt, she has an ancient alien artifact, it helps you defeat a hostile alien race. Bleh. It's too bad this game probably had little funding and a small team because they did a pretty good job with it. But if their sandbox was developed a bit it would totally graduate from PS+ free dlc status.

If nothing else, this makes me really want to play Star Citizen.
Planes of Eidolon

Warframe Plains of Eidolon load screen

The big Warframe update dropped - an open world area and tons of gear to go with it. It's great to get out of the narrow confines of their classic play mode - especially given my affinity for the Kulstar.

Open roam is cool, but it seems much like the classic gameplay - play variety comes from warframes and equipment rather than missions. There is fishing though:

Warframe screenshot fishing Mortus Lungfish

Uncharted 4 screenshot lighthouse jungle escape

I did get a few hours into Uncharted 4 though. Seems like a pretty standard AAA title - over the shoulder shooting, parkour, vehicles.

Uncharted 4 screenshot cinema

The writing does stand out. I'm optimistic about the story line and being able to run through it with a high degree of casualness.

thumbnail Uncharted 4 stormy waters thumbnail Uncharted 4 Crash Bandicoot thumbnail Uncharted 4 boat wave
thumbnail Uncharted 4 dive fins
thumbnail Uncharted 4 cell thumbnail Uncharted 4 prison chaos
thumbnail Uncharted 4 scuba diving
Iconic Masters draft

Mana Drain Archangel of Thune


Back on the MTG scene, Corey and I each got a box of Iconic Masters. He held a ghost draft and got some pretty amazing stuff, including Mana Drain and a foil Archangel of Thune. The latter is what I opened first, so I built my draft deck around it.
Kiln Fiend Abzan Battle Priest Topan Freeblade Disenchant
Seeker of the Way Pentarch Ward Splatter Thug Thran Dynamo
Guided Strike Firemane Angel Archangel of Thune Trepanation Blade
Hammerhand Radiant Fountain Emerge Unscathed Blinding Mage
Student of Ojutai Austere Command Manakin Stalwart Aven
Monastery Swiftspear Doomed Traveler Guard Duty Mark of Mutiny
Topan Freeblade Nimbus Maze


Mana cost histogram
5 5
0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Abzan Battle Priest
Archangel of Thune
Austere Command
Blinding Mage
Doomed Traveler
Emerge Unscathed
Firemane Angel
Guard Duty
Guided Strike
Kiln Fiend
Mark of Mutiny
Monastery Swiftspear
Nimbus Maze
Pentarch Ward
Radiant Fountain
Seeker of the Way
Splatter Thug
Stalwart Aven
Student of Ojutai
Thran Dynamo
Topan Freeblade
Topan Freeblade
Trepanation Blade

The sideboard looked something like this:
Trumpet Blast Trumpet Blast Hammerhand Hammerhand
Furnace Whelp Ionas Judgment Guard Duty Pentarch Ward
Pentarch Ward Infantry Veteran Disenchant Burrenton ForgeTender
Topan Freeblade Emerge Unscathed Survival Cache


In my first set I won, lost, and then had to draw on turns with Martin. He had a bunch of big stuff out, I had even more small stuff out, we'd both stalled for card draw. I went on to beat James in two games. He had some mana screw, I had some mana flood, but the renown and lifelink were too much. Lastly, I did some Trepanation Blade damage to Corey - enough so that he was almost milled out - then he sideboarded some counterspells into his deck and took the next two.
Iconic Masters box

Sheoldred Whispering One Keiga the Tide Star Mindcrank Urabrask the Hidden


My box wasn't amazing, but there's some cools stuff in there.
There isn't much tribalism in this set, but the mechanics are pretty cool.
The whole box looks like:
Shimmering Grotto Boros Garrison Azorius Chancery See all...


Code support

Magic the Gathering card tracker application Java scraper

Without much effort I've leveraged my github to make some card-tracking code. And it's all air-tight, secure code since I'm now proud owner of a copy of...

PoC OR GTFO Reverand Laphroaig the good book cyber hacking

Storypost | 2017.11.14


San Francisco Ghirardelli night time bay

Jes and I did a couple travel weekends, first to SF for a wedding. Since Virgin canceled our flight, there wasn't much free time, but we did sneak in some flag football/running, dinner with the Smiths, and Buena Vista coffees.

Cafe in San Francisco Lego wedding table arrangement SFO Alaska airlines plane

Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas lunch

The following weekend we went on to Las Vegas for friendsgiving. We got in late Thursday so we stayed at the Hard Rock and then had a long lunch at Hoffbrauhaus. We managed to make it back to SD just in time to be an hour late to Chase's wedding.
Cold water

Stock image shower

We hadn't been home from SF an entire day when the water heater started leaking. I bypassed the Costco approach since neither of us could get away from work. Home Depot or some plumber was a backup solution, but I thought we might give Amazon Home Services a try. I figured local places would be bending over backward to be their authorized installer.

Bosch Greentherm C950 tankless water heater product image

It seemed like a good time to go tankless - thermal efficiency, limitless heated water, fewer leaks. Going this route meant an extra couple hundred bucks-ish for the appliance though I didn't really try to compare apples to apples (in terms of flow rate, etc.). The install fee went up from $450 to $950, but I figured we'd bite the bullet and be happy about it in retrospect.

Happy until Wednesday, that is, when the installer canceled on us. The next available date would be Sunday, which is a pretty long time to go without hot water. Add to that the fact that we'd be hosting Mark for a few days while we went to friendsgiving.

Well, Thursday while I was at work, Pops pulled the leaky water heater. That afternoon the new one came in and I came back to strategize. Dad went to get the plumbing supplies, I put up the mounting bracket, and we hung the Bosch appliance. Over Friday and Saturday, Dad ran the water lines, gas line, and vent to the new mounting locations and then fired it up.

Bosch tankless water heater installed

Axis and Allies Anniversary Edition board endgame

After a month or two the Axis powers finally held Ottawa to win the victory city winning condition and defeat the wretched Allies. The writing was on the wall since Moscow fell, but with powerful American and British fleets, Berlin and Tokyo were in danger until the endgame when, interestingly, research proved extremely important.

X-Wing miniatures Y-Wings X-Wing miniatures VCX-100 build cards

We got a quick X-Wing match in where I finally got to try Ghost. For being thrown together on the fly, I think the build was pretty good. The quick attack shuttle had attack bonuses for being outside the enemy's firing arc, had a dorsal turret to have a 360-degree firing arc, and had a crewman that could look at an opponent's maneuver dial before moving. Combine this with a free boost or barrel roll before movement and it was all about evading and backstabbing.

The hammer was to be provided by Ghost. It had some torpedoes, which are always good, and a sensor jammer to help with its lack of maneuverability. A recon specialist gave it a bonus focus token which could be used in attack and then to reduce an attacker's dice count. The gunner crewman meant misses could be rerolled. What it didn't have, however, was a skilled pilot and I managed to fly it out of bounds.

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 board

We're now on to Pandemic Legacy Season II and still alive after two months, so woo.

Storypost | 2017.11.13

MTG Ixalan ship

Okay I'll put these in their own posts so they're easy to nav around.

Monday we did sealed at Barrel Harbor. Beers, cards, epic space battles on one side and the Panthers wrecking the Dolphins on the other. Also, a table dog:

Magic the Gathering draft Barrel Harbor Brewery dog weimaraner

Sealed: everyone gets six 15-card packs and builds a 40-card deck (17 lands). Like draft but different - larger per player card pool, but it's not a shared pool.

Nothing grabbed me as a card/tribe to build a deck around. I had a lot of dinos, but they were spread among the three colors. I had very few Merfolk or Pirates. It looked like I could put together a black/white vampire deck but didn't even have enough of those to have any choice. The difference from a draft was immediately obvious: I could decide on a tribe and zero in on these cards.
Vanquishers Banner Pious Interdiction Field of Ruin Unclaimed Territory
Duskborne Skymarcher Deadeye Tracker Seekers Squire Bishops Soldier
Bishops Soldier Skymarch Bloodletter Skymarch Bloodletter Skymarch Bloodletter
Paladin of the Bloodstained Lurking Chupacabra Bishop of Rebirth Bishop of the Bloodstained
Glorifier of Dusk Queens Agent Duress Slash of Talons
Skulduggery Demystify Vampires Zeal Rallying Roar
Contract Killing


Mana cost histogram
3 3
0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Bishop of Rebirth
Bishop of the Bloodstained
Bishop's Soldier
Bishop's Soldier
Contract Killing
Deadeye Tracker
Duskborne Skymarcher
Field of Ruin
Glorifier of Dusk
Lurking Chupacabra
Paladin of the Bloodstained
Pious Interdiction
Queen's Agent
Rallying Roar
Seekers' Squire
Skymarch Bloodletter
Skymarch Bloodletter
Skymarch Bloodletter
Slash of Talons
Unclaimed Territory
Vampire's Zeal
Vanquisher's Banner

Well, I went 0-2, 0-2, 2-1 where my win benefitted from some unlucky draws by Corey. Everything I put out seemed to be removed, and my opponents were able to put together some great combos. The expensive vampires didn't do much for me, not like their peers in the dino realm.

What to do differently? Read on.
General purpose

Here are the other cards I've opened that are tribe-agnostic, with tribal ones to follow.
Hierophants Chalice Sunpetal Grove Gilded Sentinel Shore Keeper
One With the Wind Dive Down Sirens Ruse Depths of Desire
Cancel Duress Skulduggery March of the Drowned
March of the Drowned Contract Killing Sunrise Seeker Slash of Talons
Vampires Zeal Demystify Demystify Demystify
Legions Judgment Rallying Roar Ixallis Keeper Ixallis Keeper
Blinding Fog Rummaging Goblin Rummaging Goblin Trove of Temptation
Swashbuckling Dual Shot Rile Rile
Fiery Cannonade Demolish Demolish


White/green dinos

Eight dinosaurs in the white/green would mean filling with humans or whatever. Wasn't appealing and I think white/green is supposed to be the bad dino combination.
Territorial Hammerskull Steadfast Armasaur Looming Altisaur Bellowing Aegisaur
Belligerent Brontodon Commune with Dinosaurs Grazing Whiptail Colossal Dreadmaw
Thundering Spineback


Red/white dinos

Ten here, I guess this would be playable with some tribal buffing.
Tilonallis Knight Dinosaur Stampede Rampaging Ferocidon Frenzied Raptor
Thrash of Raptors SunCrowned Hunters Sky Terror Territorial Hammerskull
Steadfast Armasaur Looming Altisaur Bellowing Aegisaur


Green/red dinos

Nine in the green/red. Still short of the ideal 13ish creatures and I didn't pull any of the good low-cost creatures like Raptor Hatchling, Nest Robber, or Otepec Huntmaster (which itself makes dinos cheaper).
Commune with Dinosaurs Grazing Whiptail Colossal Dreadmaw Thundering Spineback
Raging Swordtooth Tilonallis Knight Dinosaur Stampede Rampaging Ferocidon
Frenzied Raptor Thrash of Raptors SunCrowned Hunters



Four merfolk in so many cards. Wow.
Watertrap Weaver Watertrap Weaver Jade Guardian Storm Sculptor
River Heralds Boon River Heralds Boon



Eight pirates spread over three colors. Nah.
Desperate Castaways Dire Fleet Hoarder Shipwreck Looter Daring Saboteur
LightningRig Crew LightningRig Crew Brazen Buccaneers Dire Fleet Interloper



In retrospect I should have just repeated what worked for me last time, though maybe I'd still opt for trying the tribe I haven't yet used.

Red-green gave me a decent suite of dinos, with a few possible mechanics:
The obvious weaknesses here are a lack of removal, flyers, and some high casting costs.
Sky Terror Bellowing Aegisaur Sunpetal Grove Unclaimed Territory
Trove of Temptation SunCrowned Hunters Fiery Cannonade Rile
Rile Tilonallis Knight Ixallis Keeper Rampaging Ferocidon
Frenzied Raptor Thrash of Raptors Grazing Whiptail Raging Swordtooth
Colossal Dreadmaw Thundering Spineback Swashbuckling Vanquishers Banner
Commune with Dinosaurs Dual Shot Dinosaur Stampede Demolish


Mana cost histogram
4 4 4 4
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Bellowing Aegisaur
Colossal Dreadmaw
Commune with Dinosaurs
Dinosaur Stampede
Dual Shot
Fiery Cannonade
Frenzied Raptor
Grazing Whiptail
Ixalli's Keeper
Raging Swordtooth
Rampaging Ferocidon
Sky Terror
Sun-Crowned Hunters
Sunpetal Grove
Thrash of Raptors
Thundering Spineback
Tilonalli's Knight
Trove of Temptation
Unclaimed Territory
Vanquisher's Banner