Shepherd’s Pie

Preparing the Potatoes

  • 1 1/2 lb. potatoes, peeled
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1/4c. milk
  • 1/4c. sour cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the beef filling

  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 1 c. frozen corn
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2/3c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Make mashed potatoes. In a large pot, cover potatoes with water and add a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until totally soft, about 16 to 18 minutes. Drain and return to the pot.

Use a potato masher to mash potatoes until they’re smooth. Add melted butter, milk, and sour cream. Mash together until fully incorporated, then season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Make beef filling. In a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add onion, carrots, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant and softened, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink, about 5 more minutes. Drain the fat.

Stir in the frozen peas and corn and cooked until warmed through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle meat with flour and stir to evenly distribute. Cook 1 minute more and add the chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and let the mixture thicken slightly. About 5 minutes more.

Top the beef mixture with an even layer of mashed potatoes and bake in the oven until there is little moisture and the mashed potatoes are golden. About 20 minutes will do it. Broil will make the potatoes a bit crispier.

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My Tech Certifications – A History

I don’t as a rule chase technical certifications. As a technical person who’s been mucking about with computers since around 1981, and as someone who has been on the hiring side of the desk, certifications are similar to some college degrees. They might get you in the door, but you still have to pass the practical exam with the technical staff in order to get hired.

Don’t get me wrong, the certification at least gets you past the recruiter/HR rep. Probably. At least where I am, the recruiter has a list of questions plus you have to get past my manager’s review before it even gets into my hands for a yes/no vote.

I have several certifications over the years and some have been challenging. I basically have a goal for going after the certification and generally it’s to validate my existing skills and maybe pick up a couple of extra bits that are outside my current work environment.

Back in the 80’s, I was installing and managing Novell and 3Com Local Area Networks (LAN). At one medium sized company, I was the first full time LAN Manager. In order to get access to the inner support network, I took quite a few 3Com classes and eventually went for the final certification. The certification would give me access to CompuServe and desired support network.

I did pass of course, and being a gamer, I enjoyed the heck out of the certification title.

Certification 1: 3Com 3Wizard

I’ve taken quite a few various training courses over the years. IBM’s OS/2 class down in North Carolina. Novell training (remember the ‘Paper CNE’ 🙂 ), and even MS-DOS 5 classes. About this time (early 90’s), I’d been on Usenet for 4 or 5 years. I’d written a Usenet news reader (Metal) and was very familiar with RFCs and how the Usenet server specifically worked. I had stumbled on Linux when Linus released it but I didn’t actually install a Linux server on an old 386 I had until Slackware came out with a crapload of diskettes. I had an internet connection at home on PSINet.

Basically I was poking at Linux.

In the mid 90’s, I was ready to change jobs. I had been moved from a single department to the overall organization (NASA HQ) and what I was going to be working on was going to be reduced from everything for the department to file and print and user management. I was approached by the Unix team and manager. “Hey, how about you shift to the Unix team?” It honestly took me a week to consider it but I eventually accepted. I was given ownership of the Usenet server 🙂 and the Essential Sysadmin book and over 30 days, I devoured the book and even sent in a correction to the author (credit in the next edition 🙂 ). After 2 years of digging in, documenting, and researching plus attending a couple of Solaris classes, I went for the Sun certification. This was really just so I could validate my skills. I didn’t need the certs for anything as there wasn’t a deeper support network you gained access to when you got it.

Certification 2: Sun Certified Solaris Administrator

Certification 3: Sun Certified Network Administrator

A few years later the subcontractor I was working for lost the Unix position. They were a programming shop (databases) and couldn’t justify the position. I was interested in learning more about networking and wanted to take a couple of classes. The new subcontractor offered me a chance at a boot camp for Cisco. I accepted and for several weeks, I attended the boot camp. I wasn’t working on any Cisco gear so basically concentrated on networking concepts more than anything else. I barely even took any notes 🙂  But I also figured that since the company was paying for the class ($10,000), I should at least get the certifications. The CCNA certification was a single test on all the basics of Cisco devices and networking. The CCNP certification was multiple tests, each one focusing on each category vs an overall test like the CCNA one was. The farther away from the class I got, the harder it was to pass the tests. CCNA was quick and easy. I passed the next couple with one test. The next took a couple of tests. The last took 3 tests. But I did pass and get my certifications.

Certification 4: Cisco Certified Network Associate

Certification 5: Cisco Certified Network Professional

I did actually manage firewalls after I got the certification, but I really am a systems admin and the command line and concepts were outside my wheelhouse. I tried to take the refresher certification but they’d gone to hands on testing vs multiple choice and since I wasn’t actually managing Cisco gear, I failed.

I’d been running Red Hat Linux on my home firewall for a while but I switched to Mandrake for a bit, then Mandriva, then Ubuntu. I also set up a remote server in Florida running OpenBSD so still poking at operating systems and still a system admin sort of person. At my job now, I was hired because of my enterprise knowledge. Working with Solaris, AIX, Irix, and various Linux distros. Since Sun was purchased by Oracle and then abandoned, I’ve been moving more into Red Hat management. Getting deeper and deeper into it. We’re also using HP-UX and had a few Tru64 servers in addition to a FreeBSD server and Red Hat servers. I’d taken several Red Hat training courses, cluster management, performance tuning, etc and eventually decided to go for my certifications. It seems like I’ve been getting a cert or two every 10 years 🙂  3Wizard in the 80’s. Sun in the 90’s. And Cisco in the 00’s. So I signed up for the Red Hat Certified System Administrator test and the Red Hat Certified Engineer test. It took two tries to get the RHCSA certificate. The first part of the test is to break into the test server. Took me 30 minutes the first time to remember how to do that. The RHCE test was a bit different. You had to create servers vs just use them as in the RHCSA test. Shoot, if I need to create a server, I don’t need to memorize how to do it. I document the process after research. Anyway, after two tries at the RHCE test, I dropped trying.

Certification 6: Red Hat Certified System Administrator

With Red Hat 8 out, I’ll give it a year and for the 20’s try for the RHCSA and RHCE again.

Here’s an odd thing though. These are all Operating System certifications. I’m a Systems Admin. I manage servers. I enjoy managing servers. I’ve considered studying for and getting certifications for MySQL for example since I do a lot of coding for one of my applications (and several smaller ones) and would like to expand my knowledge of databases. I’m sure I’m doing some things the hard way 🙂  Work actually gave me (for free!) two Dell R710 servers as they were being replaced. The first one I set up to replace my Ubuntu gateway so it was a full install of Linux and a firewall. Basically a replacement. All my code was on it, my backups, web sites, etc. But the second server showed up and the guys on the team talked me into installing VMware’s Vsphere software to turn the server into a VMware server able to host multiple virtual servers. And I stepped up and signed up to the VMware Users Group (VMUG) because I could get a discount on Vcenter which lets me turn the two R710’s into a VMware cluster.

In addition, I took over control of the Kubernetes clusters at work. The Product Engineers had thrown it over the wall at Operations and it ha sat idle. After I took it over, I updated the scripts I’d initially created to deploy the original clusters to start building new clusters. I’ve been digging deeper and deeper into Kubernetes in order to be able to support it. On the Product Engineering side, they’re building containers and pods to be deployed into the Kubernetes environments so they’re familiar with Kubernetes with regards to deployments and some rudimentary management but they’re not building or supporting the clusters. I am. I’m it. My boss recently asked me, “who’s our support contract with for Kubernetes?” and my answer was, “me, just me.”

So I decided to try and take the Kubernetes exams. This is the first non-operating system exam and certification I’ve attempted. Note that I considered it for mysql and others, but never actually moved forward with them. For Kubernetes, since I’m it, I figured I should dig in deeper and get smarter. I took the exam and failed it. But I realized that they were looking for application development knowledge as well which as an Operations admin, I’m not involved in. So I took the Application Developer course and took the exam again last week and passed it. But since I was taking the AppDev course, I figured I’d take the AppDev test. But I failed that as well. The first time. I expect I’ll be able to pass it the second time I try (I have a year for the free retake).

Certification 7: Certified Kubernetes Administrator

Over the past few days, I’ve been touting the CKA cert. I even have a printed copy of the cert at my desk. It’s the first one I’ve taken that’s not Operating System specific.

Carl – 3Wizard, SCSA/SCNA, CCNA/CCNP, RHCSA, CKA

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Beef and Bean Taco Skillet

  • 1 lb beef
  • 1 1.4oz packet taco seasoning
  • 1 16oz can pinto beans
  • 1 1.75oz can condensed tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 6 6” flour tortillas

Cook beef in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until well browned; break up any clumps of beef. Drain fat. Stir in taco seasoning. Ad beans, soup, salsa and water. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. To with cheese. Serve with flour tortillas.

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Recruiters Are Used Car Salesmen

For the past couple of years I’ve had my resume out and have occasionally interviewed. The interviews are actually particularly helpful as it gives me a view into what companies are looking for so I can focus on what skills I might need in the event of a lay off.

Of course the recruiters swarm like paparazzi. Virtually none of them have actually read my resume or profile, they just see my name on Linkedin, Dice, Indeed, Monster, or some other site, do a keyword search (sort of), and start spamming me with positions. These positions have little real relevance to my skill set.

They see ‘DevOps’ in my resume and spam me with every available DevOps position from Huntington Beach to the Jersey shore and every possible opportunity between 3 months to hire to 12 months and done.

Hey, I have a 3 month position in New Jersey for $20.00 an hour and a possibility to hire. Call me and we can talk!

Folks, I have a limit of about an hour for one way commuting. This means I’m self limited to these three locations. Telling me about a position that’s 90 minutes away one way or located downtown isn’t going to something I’m going to jump from my current job.

And skills. Windows Administration required. I haven’t done any Windows administration since the early 90’s. It’s not on my resume or profile anywhere.

Don’t worry about the Windows requirement. You can pick it up.

You don’t seem to understand. I’m not interested in learning how to manage Windows servers. I am interested in learning Powershell, looks interesting.

And Amazon Web Services. No AWS on my resume anywhere. Yes, I want to learn some cloud services but my only options are learning at home or getting into a position where I can learn AWS.

Recently I received some 15 different recruiters contacting me for the same position within commuting distance but it was a short term only position with no option to be hired at the end of the contract. My profile does say “Full Time Only”. It must have had a pretty good hiring bonus.

Many of these recruiter queries are obviously form letters. I get the same exact job posting with a slightly off font insertion of the recruiters name and my name.

I’ve had a couple of interviews that were arranged by recruiters. One last year had the gentleman actually meet me for lunch so we could chat. The interview he arranged looked good but fell through. He said he’d contact me again for new positions and I’ve not heard from him since. Another continues to send me positions. When I reply back with my location preference, he says that he just sends out the position to everyone on his list in the hopes something will stick.

I do reply to many of these and get an occasional response thanking me for my reply so there’s someone there.

So yes, recruiters are Used Car Salesmen. Just trying to get you into a position regardless of fitness or need so they can get paid.

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Award Winning Guacamole

3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled

1 lime, juiced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 medium onion, diced

1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 clove garlic, minced

In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve. 

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Taco Soup

Recently I wanted to find something I could create with hamburger that wasn’t hamburgers or spaghetti. After some hunting on line, I found Taco Soup to sound pretty tasty actually. A couple of sessions later and I had what I thought was a pretty good recipe and simple to double for larger groups (when the band is over for example 🙂 ).

  • 2 pounds of hamburger
  • 1 15oz can of sweet corn, drained
  • 1 15 oz can of pinto beans, drained
  • 1 15 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 package of Original El Paso taco mix
  • 1 heaping 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to taste (medium hot; adjust as required)
  • 1 1/2 cup of water

In a medium pot, combine the corn, beans, tomatoes, package, cayenne pepper, and water and cook on medium heat.

Chop up the onion and in a frying pan, add oil (I use olive oil generally). Cook the chopped up onion for about 5 minutes, until they start to clear. Then add the hamburger. Cook the hamburger until done.

By then, the pot of ingredients should be slowly boiling. Add the hamburger and onion to the pot, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

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Current Home Servers

This has come up several times and I can’t always remember all the servers I have set up for one reason or another. Many times it’s just because the subject I’m on has me listing the relevant servers plus a few I remember. But I’d like to have, at least, a snapshot in time of what I have running in case it comes up again. I can just point to my blog post 🙂

The physical environment consists of:

  • Dell R710
  • 192 Gigs of Ram
  • 2 8 Core Xenon x5550 2.67 GHz CPUs
  • 2 143 Gig 10,000 RPM Drives set up as a RAID 1 (mirror)
  • 4 3 TB 7,200 RPM Drives set up as a RAID 5
  • 4 Onboard Ethernet Ports
  • 1 4 Port 1 Gigabit PCI Card
  • 1 10 Gigabit PCI Card
  • 2 2 port Fiber HBA PCI Cards
  • Dell R710
  • 288 Gigs of RAM
  • 2 6 Core Xenon X5660 2.8 GHz CPUs
  • 2 143 Gig 10,000 RPM Drives set up as a RAID 1 (mirror)
  • 4 3 TB 7,200 RPM Drives set up as a RAID 5
  • 4 Onboard Ethernet Ports
  • 1 4 Port 1 Gigabit PCI Card
  • 1 10 Gigabit PCI Card
  • 2 2 port Fiber HBA PCI Cards
  • Sun 2540 Drive Array
  • 12 3 TB Drives

I also have a couple of UPSs which have enough power to keep the servers up for 20 minutes or so while I get things shut down along with a Gigabit business switch. Since we’re on High Speed WiFi for our Internet, this is all internal networking and not intended for external use.

I’ve installed VMware vSphere on the two R710’s and through VMug (the VMware User’s Group), I purchased a vCenter license to tie them both together.

I’ve since created some 45 servers (and destroyed a lot more over time) as I install servers to test various bits I’m interested in.

First off, my development environment. This consists of my source code and CI/CD stack.

  • Home Dev – Server using rcs and my scripts to manage code. This is my personal code. This also hosts the development review of my personal web sites. Testing changes and such.
  • Work Dev – Server using rcs and my scripts to manage code. This is a duplicate of my environment at work. I use the same scripts with just a different configuration file for the environment. Like Home Dev, this hosts the development review of my work web sites.
  • Git – Server using git for my code management. I’m gradually converting my code on both Home Dev and Work Dev to using git to manage code.
  • Gitlab – Part of the CI/CD stack, this is the destination for my git projects.
  • Artifactory – The artifacts server. This holds distribution packages, docker images, and general binaries for my web sites.
  • Jenkins – The orchestration tool. When changes occur on the Gitlab site, Jenkins pushes the changes up to my Production server hosted in Miami.
  • Photos – This is my old source code and picture site. Much of this has been migrated to my Home Dev server and is on the way to my Git server and CI/CD pipeline.

Next up are the database servers used for various tasks.

  • Cassandra – Used by Jeanne to learn the database. Several of the database servers are learning tools for either Jeanne or myself.
  • MySQL Cluster (2 Servers) – Used by me to learn and document creating a cluster and to start using it for my Docker and Kubernetes sessions.
  • Postgresql – Jeanne’s learning server.
  • Postgresql – Server used by both Jira and Confluence.
  • MS-SQL – Jeanne’s Microsoft learning server.

Monitoring Servers come up next.

  • Nagios Servers (3) – Used to monitor the three environments. The first monitors my remote Miami server. The second monitors site one. And the third monitors site two.

And the Docker and Kubernetes environment

  • Docker Server – Used to learn how to create containers using Docker.
  • Control Plane – The main Kubernetes server that manages the environment and Workers
  • Workers (3) – The workers that run Docker and the Kubernetes utilities.
  • ELK – The external logging server for Kubernetes and Docker. Since Docker containers are mutable, I wanted to have an external logging source to keep track of containers that might be experiencing problems.

Next Automation servers.

  • Ansible Tower – Site 1 Ansible server that also hosts Tower.
  • Ansible – Site 2 Ansible server. Used to automatically update the servers.
  • Salt – Configuration Management tool used to keep the server configurations consistent.
  • Terraform – Server for automatic builds of VMs.

Some utility or tool servers. Used to manage the environment.

  • Sun 2540 – VM used to manage the 2540 Drive Array
  • Jumpstart – Jumping off point to manage servers.
  • Tool – Site 1 Tool server. Scripts and such for the first site.
  • Tool – Site 2 Tool server. Scripts, etc…

More general administration servers.

  • Identity Management – A central login server.
  • Syslog – The main syslog server for the environments.
  • Spacewalk – The RPM Repository for the servers. Instead of each of the 45 servers going out to pull down updates, updates are pulled here and the servers pull from the Spacewalk server.
  • Jira – Agile server for managing workflow.
  • Confluence – Wiki like server. Tied into Jira.
  • Mail – Internal Mail server. Mainly as a destination for the other servers. Keeps me from sending email out into the ether.
  • Inventory – Server that keeps track of all the servers. Configuration management essentially.
  • pfSense – Firewall and gateway to the Internet

And finally the personal servers.

  • Plex Movie Server – Hosts about 3 TB of movies I’ve ripped from my collection.
  • Plex Television Server – Hosts about 3 TB of television shows I’ve ripped from my collection.
  • Backups – Backs up the remote Miami server.
  • Samba – Back up server for all the workstations here at Home.
  • Windows XP – A workstation used to be able to continue to use my HP scanner and Sony Handycam, both which only work with XP.
  • Windows 7 – No really reason other than I can.
  • Status – My Status Management software. Not really used right now.
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Guitar Dreams

Probably a common dream for guitarists 🙂

We’re loading out to go to a gig. I ask someone to grab my stuff and we head over.

Small hole in the wall place, narrow and a little dark, large window at the front and I can see across the street a corner shop.

We’re playing but I can’t seem to get any volume. I walk up to a short/wide amp, black face and a little beat up with worn corners, turn down my guitar volume and turn up the amp, I go back and try to turn up the guitar but it’s still muted sounding. We’re playing Bon Jovi’s You Give Love A Bad Name.

I can’t seem to remember how to play and I’m slow, the neck is insanely wide, almost like I’m trying to play the body of the guitar, so I have to reach around to press on the strings. I hear where I’m supposed to be but can’t seem to get there.

The guys are looking at me as if to ask, “What the fuck?”

I realize my pedal board is missing. The guy must have missed grabbing it when he grabbed my guitar. I’m playing clean but getting no volume. The guitar has knobs that add distortion but still no volume.

Okay, the owner is annoyed, the customers are annoyed and don’t want to hear Bon Jovi. Okay, Killing In The Name. I tune my guitar to drop d but without my board, I don’t have the starting flanger sound. I give it my best shot though.

What’s this though, I hit the lead in notes, *flang* *flang* *flang* but it changes to *dah* *dah* *dah-da* *dah-da* *dah* (Bon Jovi). And still a too wide neck, and no volume.

The customers are down to a handful and the guys break out an envelope with song requests, two columns typewritten, about 8 songs in each column, the owner turns up the music player. I’m looking over the guys shoulders at the songs and hoping I can get the chord changes so I can muddle along.

It’s getting dark and the shop I can see across the street has their roll down cage in place.

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State Of The Game Room – 2018

During the past year, because of my band taking off, the game room was moved from the central room to the music room and the music room moved to the central room. There’s a lot more room for the guys to play and there’s sufficient room in the game room, formerly music room, to game. Currently I have a Shadowrun group that plays every Sunday. It does seem a touch tight but we’re really sitting around the table so it’s not terrible.

Of course, moving everything was a bit of a pain but I got it done in a week and the guys helped with the bigger Kallax shelves. Generally when I get new games, they’re stuck every which way on top of shelves or on the games in the shelves. Most recently, in preparation for the game room reorganize, I picked up a few more 1×4, 2×2, and 2×4 shelves to better organize the games. It does prove to show that games will fill every available space 🙂

I also took on the task of ensuring all my games were in my inventory. I also identified that I had found the game (there are about 15 or so that I haven’t been able to find since the move) and whether or not I’d played the game. I will remind folks who goggle at the list that it just shows that I’ve played the game, not how many times I’ve played it. Seeing a few hundred plays over 50 years doesn’t seem like a lot but taking into consideration dozens if not hundreds of plays for some games will put some perspective in the data 🙂

Since I updated the inventory, I can’t give you a definitive number of new games for the year. I’ve picked Gloomhaven as a starting point for 2018 as it was released in mid January. Since Gloomhaven, I’ve added 338 items to the inventory.

List of the RPG game system purchases:

* Shadowrun – The bulk will be fill-it-in digital purchases as my gaming group started this past summer and I wanted to have all the digital stuff ready for the group (I tend to play with a laptop and iPad vs a gigantic collection of books; but the books are available if needed).
* Dungeons and Dragons.
* Paranoia – I kickstarted the new Paranoia and hit NobleKnight to fill in my collection. I’d only picked up a few Mongoose books and needed to fill things in.
* Starfinder
* Star Trek – New system that looks interesting. I may spring it on the group at a later date.
* Conan 2d20 – I’m a big fan of Conan anyway so this was a must have
* Star Wars
* Pathfinder
* Genesys

That drops the list down to 83. List of the card game purchases and updates:

* Arkham Horror the card game
* Netrunner the card game
* Clank
* DC Deck Building
* Exploding Kittens
* Joking Hazard
* Munchkin

This brings down the number of board games to 57. Of those, actual new ones (vs hitting the used game store) are:

* Arboretum
* Betrayal Legacy
* Captain Sonar
* Cave vs Cave (Caverna)
* Chicago Express
* Dragon Castle
* Forbidden Sky
* Gloomhaven
* Founders of Gloomhaven
* Sanctum of Twilight (Mansions of Madness)
* Roll for the Galaxy
* The Rise of Fenris (Scythe)
* Shadowrun Zero Day
* Spoils of War
* Colonies (Terraforming Mars)
* Prelude (Terraforming Mars)
* Rails and Sails (Ticket to Ride)
* Triplanetary (Kicktarter)
* Green Hoarde (Zombicide)

With everything else, we only got to play a few of the above games (bolded). My band had its first gig in August so we were practicing hard 🙂 I’ve also spent more time on my Shadowrun group and especially the program I created and have been frantically updating for Shadowrun 5th Edition.

Some of the Reddit Boardgaming questions answered here:

How long have you been involved in the hobby?

Since I was young so about 50 years.

What would you change about your collection if you could?

Tough question. I get games because I’ve played them with others or they’re recommended. Since it’s generally just Jeanne and me, more two player games would be optimum. The only real change would be paying more attention to the number of players for the game. The Thing is an awesome game but really needs 6 or so players for it to work.

Which games might be leaving my collection soon?

Leave? You can’t leave me. None actually. I went through a phase back in the mid 90’s where I almost sold off what I had but the company (since bought by Noble Knight) only offered me pennies on the dollar (and only a few) and I had to ship it to them killing even more so I basically just kept them while I got more into video games. Now I’m glad I kept them, if only for nostalgia.

What haven’t I played?

Well, most of the games I bought before 2006 I’ve played. I gradually picked up more games between 2006 and 2012 and then really started exploring board games. I also have a pretty large collection of RPG books mainly because I used them for ideas for my AD&Dr1 game I ran for many years. In checking my game report, as of right now:

* Board Games: Inventory: 361, Played: 156, Percentage Played: 43.21
* Card Games: Inventory: 107, Played: 46, Percentage Played: 42.99
* Role Playing Games: Inventory: 276, Played: 31, Percentage Played: 11.23

The RPG Games stats are a bit misleading as well since I generally have multiple copies of core rule books for use the table or for various editions. For instance, I have probably 25 Shadowrun core books from 1st Edition up through 5th Edition. Same with D&D. I have several DM’s Guides from 1st Edition up through 5th Edition. Both include Collectable editions (the numbered Shadowrun books for instance) and even a few books for different languages. I have a Spanish and German Shadowrun core book.

In looking at my report, including every game, module, and expansion, I have 3,005 items. This doesn’t include dice though which exceed that by at least another 1,000 🙂

What are your favorite games?

This shifts so much that it’s hard to pin down. Cosmic Encounters, Car Wars, Shadowrun, Ticket to Ride, Splendor, Red Dragon Inn, Elder Sign, Eldritch Horror, Netrunner, Castles of Burgundy, Pandemic Iberia, Bunny Kingdom, DC Deck Building, the list goes on.

Favorite Boardgame of the past year?

I’d say Ticket to Ride Rails and Sails was the one we enjoyed playing the most. We introduced it to several others who have also purchased the game.

Most played boardgame?

Probably something like Cosmic Encounters outside something like Risk or Monopoly 🙂

What is your least favorite game?

That’s a tough question in that most games are somewhat fun and/or interesting. Probably the one that disappointed me most was Fragged. It’s a Doom video game set to board game and really doesn’t translate well. We played it once and decided we’d rather play the video game 🙂

I will say that we did try several of the Legendary card games and really had a hard time playing them. I particularly like Big Trouble in Little China but the Legendary game we played just killed the game itself for us and I haven’t picked up another since then.

Next boardgame purchase?

No real plans on a specific board game. I mainly look forward more to the next Shadowrun book.

On to the pictures! I have 4 5×5 Kallax shelves. Three 2×4 Kallax shelves. Two 2×2 Kallax shelves. And 5 1×4 Kallax shelves. That’s 152 Kallax squares (not all filled though). Pictures are basically 3 or 4 squares wide and two shelves high so there are a lot of pictures.

Full Gallery: Photo Gallery (Note that you can click on the pics here to see the full size pic.)

Come on in!

It is a bit narrow but it’s a game room. As long as tables and such fit, it should be good.

The top row here are some miscellaneous stuff including on the right, my Dad’s old chess set. This is the first shelf on the left as you enter the room.

Next shelf.

This is a side shelf to the second shelf. Just trying to make us of the space.

You can’t really see this shelf from the door due to the angle of the room.

One of the 2×4 + 2×2 shelves.

And the other 2×4 + 2×2 shelf.

This unit is one I might push the top shelf back a little. Lots of RPG books in this one so it’s a bit heavier than the others. That’s generally my Netrunner, Shadowrun, Arkham Horror, and Force of Will cards on the left.

And the final bookshelf. The top here also has miscellaneous stuff. Card decks I haven’t put into the above deck boxes, Cards Against Humanity, etc. On the right are a few more card decks including my Xxxenophile deck.

And behind the door, are my boxes for other miscellaneous stuff. Dice, card games, miniatures, Wings of War planes, playmats, etc.

And finally, my gaming table. Currently set up for Shadowrun. I have a second table I’m considering setting up for regular board gaming.

And that’s the list.

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Differences between Shadowrun 4th/20th Anniversary Edition and Shadowrun 5th Edition

Just documenting the differences between the two since I ran 4th for quite a few years and am starting in on 5th. I’ll likely expand things as I further gather information but at least the initial parts will be bullet points.

* Lots of price changes in gear but mainly bringing 5th to 3rd Edition levels. Lots of the 4th prices were dropped quite a bit.
* Limits have been added. This puts a cap on the total number of successes you can achieve when rolling dice. There are several however the Physical, Mental, and Social are the main ones. They’re derived from your Attributes. When you need to roll 15 dice for something, the limit is the maximum number of successes you can count regardless of the roll.
* Accuracy has been added to weapons. Accuracy is basically the same as Limits in that it dictates the maximum number of successes you can achieve.
* Spell Damage Resistance is Force – (some number) where in 4th it was (Force / 2) – (some number). The (some number) values are mostly positive where in 4th there were some positive and some negative (some numbers).
* Melee weapon Damage is Strength + (some number) vs 4th which was (Strength / 2) + (some number).
* Initiative in 4th was (Intuition + Logic) number of d6 dice. In 5th it’s (Intuition + Logic) as a base number and you roll 1d6 to increase the base.
* Cyberware and Bioware would add Initiative Passes, speed giving you an extra turn. In 5th they add extra d6 rolls to the dice pool to a maximum of 5d6. Passes are now similar to 3rd where the totals would be in place, 22, 19, 16, 13, 10, 9, 7 for the first Initiative pass, then 10 is subtracted and folks who still have positive Initiative values (12, 9, 6, 3) would go again, then 10 is subtracted and the rest (2) goes one more time.
* Hacking in 4th was attempted for User, Admin, and Security levels. In 5th you’re creating “Marks” which give you the same level of access (3 Marks max) and 4 Marks was the owner of the system.
* There are Cyberdecks in addition to Commlinks. Commlinks revert to being equivalent to smartphones with basic functionality and ‘decks have the extra common and hacking programs.
* Cyberdecks have four attributes however they’re reconfigurable on boot of the device and through a program, reconfigurable while active.
* In 4th, you’d combine a program’s rank and the appropriate commlink value to have a Dice Pool in order to complete a program task. In 5th, Programs simply provide bonuses to a separate list of actions. In 4th for example, you’d use the Data Search active skill plus the Browse program to create the dice pool and you’d need n successes to succeed. In 5th the ‘deck has attributes you’d use such as Data Processing and combine it with the Computer active skill to create the Dice Pool. The Browse program still exists but its only function is to cut the time searching the Matrix in half.
* Armor has been combined into a single stat
* There’s a “Grid Overwatch Division” (GOD) that keeps an eye on the Matrix. Using a Deck over a longer period of time can attract their attention which is a bad thing.
* Glitches have a slight change. Where it was “half of your dice pool or more”, it’s now “more than half your dice pool”. So it’s slightly harder to glitch.

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