I converted billandchad.com from a physical machine in my house to an online server at DigitalOcean. I’ve been wanting to try out Digital Ocean for hosting chadweisshaar.com, but haven’t made the switch because of the size of my photo galleries. billandchad.com hosts my NextCloud instance and the touch table game repository and it is less than 5GB. This means I can use the smallest Digital Ocean server which costs $5 per month. Running the server in my house was more expensive. I was paying $5 for a static IP (which probably wasn’t required, but did make it easier) and about $3 for electricity. Plus the cost of occasional hardware replacements.
Getting setup at Digital Ocean was easy. One of their preconfigured machine setups is a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySql, PHP) server which is what NextCloud needs. I had to setup SSH keys, had to install a couple extra PHP packages, and make some apache configuration changes for NextCloud. Doing the NextCloud migration was a bit of a hassle, but that was a NextCloud issue.
Since setting up NextCloud, I’ve also built a stand-alone web app on this server. To do that I installed GIT and the SSH plugin for Visual Studio Code so that I could develop right on the Digital Ocean server, but also have source control and a backup on my home machine.
Everything has been pretty simple and convenient. Their monitoring tools are adequate for diagnosing performance issues and their billing is automatic. I do need to log in occasionally to do software updates, but I was having to do that for my local server anyway. Overall I’m pretty happy and will probably move chadweisshaar.com over to them eventually. I “just” need to re-write my gallery webpage to use AWS instead of storing the photos locally.
Not having a home linux server does have some downsides. For one, it was just cool to have part of the internet in my house. But I also used the server to run my own DHCP and DNS. I had an ad blocking DNS server for my phone and also allowed me to create some short urls (like tt.com) for friends to use to connect to the touch table. I miss both of these capabilities.
I’ve finished converting Space Base for the touch table. Space base is a fairly quick card drafting game where you buy cards to fill in 12 columns. Each turn two die are rolled and you can take rewards from either both die or the sum of the dice. Cards give money, income, victory points and some have more complex abilities that need to be charged before use.
I recently switched web hosting companies from HostMoster to HostGator. I have a fairly large website with two sub-domains, several mySQL databases, and lots of photos. This post will describe the transfer process and give a brief review of my experiences with HostGator.
The original Brass has always been one of my favorite games. It’s a complex economic and network building game that rewards both multi-step planning and quick adaptation to board conditions. Brass: Birmingham is a 2018 re-design of the original that slightly changes the theme, simplifies some rules and adds a third resource but leaves the feel of the game intact.
I’ve completed a touch table conversion for King Domino and Queen Domino. King Domino is a relatively simple tile placement game with the interesting mechanic where the player who chose the “best” tile goes last in the next round. Queen Domino takes the kingdom building and tile placement mechanics from King Domino and adds city tiles that can have buildings added to them.
I’ve been wanting to put together a large Lego set, but I don’t really want to display or keep the finished product, so I gave netbrix.biz a try. It is a Lego rental service – kind of like Netflix for Legos.
I rented a Technic Excavator set and the large London Bridge set.
This Christmas I got a Fitbit Charge 3 fitness tracker that tracks steps, heart rate and sleep quality. It has a grey-scale touchscreen that displays the date and time along with steps or heart rate when tapped. It can also display text messages, calls, and email from a phone.
I really like having a fitness tracker that also displays the date/time. I also appreciate having heart rate data for workouts and getting notifications on the watch.
2018 was a good year for me. I took two big trips, my brother and his family came out for Christmas, and I kept myself busy with touch table conversions, reading and movies.
In July I went to Scandinavia with my parents. I enjoyed seeing some of Scandinavia and learning about their history, art and food. I really like the art by Munch and Vigeland and was surprised by how much I liked the scenery in Norway.
In September I went to Cape May and Philadelphia with my parents and my brother’s family. Highlights from that trip were time on the beach and the Barnes museum.
My brother and his family came to Colorado for Christmas and we spent the week at my parent’s house. It was fun to spend time with my niblings again. The youngest is 2 1/2 and I was impressed by how much he had changed since this summer.
I made seven games for the touch table this year: Notre Dame, Azul, Medici card game, Automobile, Settlers of Catan, Between Two Cities, and Galaxy Trucker. Automobile is probably the most fun that I’ve had doing any conversion, and I’ve also enjoyed doing some larger games this year. As we make more games for the table, each game gets a little less play. Automobile and Settler’s of Catan in particular are games that we were basically done playing before they were converted.
Bill also made a few touch games this year:
Caylus – Strategy game where players compete to build a city and castle
Stop, Squat and Roll – A territory claiming and press your luck game also know as “Claim It”
Codenames – Players compete to get their teammates to pick the correct pictures based on a one word description.
Ocean Raiders – A press-your-luck style treasure hunting game
In March I was lucky in the ticket lottery and got to see Hamilton in Denver. Even after all the hype I was still surprised by how good it was. It is the best musical that I’ve been to by a decent margin.
Also in March our residential Solar panel installation was completed. This really hasn’t changed anything, but it has been fun to see how much time-of-year, time-of-day, clouds and snow change the power generation.
We took the touch table to two events this year: The FoCoBoCo in Fort Collins and the B-Con in Denver. It is always fun to show the table to new people and get their reactions to the game conversions.
We got a Cricut paper cutting machine in September and Bill has spent a lot of time making decorations and cards for friends and family:
I went to a few other cultural/arts events this year
A friend introduced me to the Kirkland museum, and I highly recommend it. It is an art and design museum packed with very fashionable and artistic household products.
I went to a couple of the “One painting at a time” discussions at the Clyfford Still museum. They were just OK, but I really enjoy the museum itself.
My brother got me season tickets to the opera and I really enjoyed La Traviata. Their second show will be Marriage of Figaro in May.
Creating touch games is how I spend most of my free time, but I still only spent 650 hours making games this year (not including bug fixes or updates to old games). The rest of my free time is divided between computer games, books, Netflix and Violin.
I played quite a few computer games this year: Opus Magnum, Stardew Valley (again), Surviving Mars, Far Cry 3, Heat Signature, Sniper elite 4, Superhot, Pillars of Eternity, Bomb Squad Academy, and Wing Commander (again). Like the past few years, I’m spending less time on computer games than I once did. I still enjoy it, but games don’t hold my attention like they used to. The best games that I’ve played lately are Stellaris, Witcher III, Heat Signature and Stardew Valley.
I also watched a lot of Netflix. Some favorites from this year: The Good Place, Infinity Chamber, Anomolisa, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Brigsby Bear, Personal Shopper, Bojack Horseman, and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. In particular Bojack Horseman has made some of my favorite episodes in any series. One episode this season made it into imdb’s top 10 episodes of all time. Unfortunately, you really have to watch the whole series to enjoy it, and some of the episodes are weak. The Good Place is also both funny and well made. Here is a fun video about why it’s such an interesting show.
I continue to work on learning violin. I played for 310 hours this year – basically an hour a day when I’m home. But I don’t feel like I’m making as much progress as I used to. Part of it is that 300 hours isn’t as big of a percentage of my total time as it used to be. But I also feel like my progress has slowed since I stopped taking lessons, and that if I wanted to improve I’d need to spend more than an hour a day practicing. I spent the first half of the year working on Suzuki book 9 and the second half on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I’d learned Spring and Summer before, so this time I tried to be more accurate and faster. I’m currently about 2/3 done learning Autumn which is harder than Spring or Summer. Sometime in 2019 I’ll hit 5000 hours of violin. Here I’m playing the last part of Four Seasons – Summer:
I don’t have many solid plans for 2019. We’d like to make a trip to Mexico and will probably sell the house there. We might also make a trip to New York to visit my brother.
I’m tentatively planning to do the “Tour De Vineyards” bike ride in Palisade CO this year. I’ll need to get road tires for my bike and find out if my time biking in the gym translates into road biking stamina.
There is a chance that my family will travel to South Carolina or Illinois, but that will depend on my brother’s schedule and my dad’s health.
I received a Fitbit fitness tracker for Christmas. I’m enjoying it so far. The biggest improvement over my old Jawbone is having a watch and getting notifications from my phone. So my first programming project for the new year will be getting Fitbit data into my Timeline program.
I don’t really have any big resolutions for 2019. I want to continue spending my time the way I have been in 2018 with maybe a little more effort toward hiking/biking this summer and a few more trips downtown for a symphony or other show. The light rail line to Union Station has made trips downtown much more enjoyable for me. I always hated finding and paying for parking.
I’ve been working on a touch table conversion of Galaxy Trucker since October. I’ve completed the base game and a few of the expansions (new tech tiles, five players, and side B ship hulls). I’m still planning to do at least some of the Rough Roads expansion.
I’ve completed a touch table version of Between Two Cities with the Capitals expansion. I had a hard time getting excited about this conversion and it took me two months to put in the 50 hours needed to write the game.
But I’m glad that I finished it. The conversion plays well and it adds another relatively easy 7 player game to the touch table.