Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 (after)

Well, 2008 is done now. It’s been a very complicated year, with lots of things to learn, many to endure and more to build upon. But all the worst for the better! I am confident that with enough work the new year will be excellent.


The new job I went to last spring proved to be much of a bluff. The way the job was presented to me proved to be very different from what I was met with when I actually got there. Mildly put, me and my employer had divergent aspirations, which lead to our paths diverging at the end of May. This adventure of mine caused a lot of things, one of which fatigue. I’ve learned my lesson, though. It’ll be a while before I set out on such adventures. And I’ll be ten times more careful next time.

Fortunately, I was able to go back to my old job. I may not be working on any of my dream projects on my day to day job now, but at least I do a job that I like, I work with people who understand the business at hand and which with I have a similar vision. I’ve had a lot to cover at my new old job, which only lead to more fatigue.

Financially I managed to keep some stability, in spite of all the challenges. This year was marked by renovating the apartment, which proved to be a lot more investment than I initially anticipated. But it’s all good now that it’s done. Mom came back home last May and it proved really hard for her to find a job. June was probably the worst month, since I didn’t get paid for my work in May, mom just came home and we were in mid-renovation. Coming back to my old job, rehabilitation was in full swing by August, and I was even able to afford some personal treats.

But I’m a lucky case, and I’ve everyone around me to thank for that. All my friends and family have provided me with support. Looking back it all seems to have been way too easy. (Not that I’m asking for worse.)

And Otherwise

2008 was also the year I started playing Magic and the year we’ve founded a group of Magic players in Iasi, who regularly meet to participate in internationally sanctioned tournaments. The game is nice, and it’s really good to have found something to enjoy offline. Participating in this community of players is also rewarding at times, and I enjoy working on this project as much as I enjoyed starting off Khrome, which (sadly) I haven’t paid enough attention to this year. I hope I’ll be able to compensate for that in 2009.

Looking forward to a good and happy new year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Away for the weekend:
Grapefruit's 9th Anniversary Party

I'll be away this weekend—a.k.a. nowhere near my home town—to attend Grapefruit's ninth anniversary party. I'm expecting a wacky weekend, generally marked by surprises, fun, games and booze. We, in Grapefruit, call that team building. I don't know how the concept rolls out in the real world, but this is Grapefruit.

I'll give you a short overview of what happened in the past two years.


Two years ago I was a fresh-man in Grapefruit. You'll recognize that by the fact that I'm much skinnier than you know me today. (I'm planning to fix that, by the way.) I didn't know much about these parties, but there was one thing for sure. It was about team building. And there happened to be a party. With booze. A fresh-man. Let's just say that in the first night I got really drunk and said some things. Mayne some day I'll have the balls to post that video on YouTube. Maybe.

Anyway, here's the Grapefruit team two years ago. (Be sure to click on it. It'll take you to Flickr, where there are annotations.)

Grapefruit, two years ago

Like I said, the gathering is about fun and games, thought and intended for team-building. Challenging or simply funny, I liked the theme.

Marshmellow on a stick (structure)

But eventually, the booze gave into everybody and so we extended the party extensions, which actually means most of them partied all night long, until we end up something along these lines.

Party booze fight

Oh, don't worry. Nobody's ashamed of anything: nobody even remembers anything. As a matter of a fact, I was the only wuss (read: not on booze) who didn't give into the party. Let's just say I felt like I had something at stake.

All-in-all everybody had loads of fun, and I couldn't possibly actually normally wait for a whole year to get some more of that. And I didn't have to. There were more parties, some more domestic, but generally along those lines.


The next year, we've toned it down a notch. Could have been because of our new management... Also, the team was a bit more mature. Well, except for me and Claudiu, that is... I mean who else would convince the team to strip of all their clothes in order to make the longest rope made of clothing? It was a team exercise that spun out of control, and we didn't even need to be on booze for that.

My highlights of the trip were carting and paintball. Sure, there was booze and partying and a barbecue, but that already seemed so regular.

Mad about carting


Oh, by the way, that trip was also when I played Magic: The Gathering for the first time! It looked something rather awkward like this:

First MTG match ever


Well, who knows what'll happen this year? One things for sure: it's a lot of fun to be tangled with these guys, be it in work or in party!


Can't wait! And I no longer have to...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We have new—collectible!—business cards

Grapefruit's new business cards

We have new business cards that just came in! And as hot as they came from the printers, as hot as they became around the office: tradeable and collectible goodies. Here's mine:

Mihai Alexandru Bîrsan's business card at Grapefruit

Gotta' catch'em all!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

One-week vacation over (personal recap)

I haven't had a vacation since the beginning of the year, so this short week was heavenly, even though I crave for more. But it's what I get for being MIA for three months this spring. And I'm thankful, because it could have been a lot worse: I could have been unemployed.

But now that my batteries have, at least partially, recharged I can do a short and uncomprehensive recap.

Nobody keeps count anymore

I'm not exactly on track with my plans for this year because, unfortunately, time wasn't on my side with the job challenges, starting the local Magic community and keeping Khrome on track. A lot has been accomplished, but I feel there's still a lot to do.

...of the things I've planned to do

Back in spring I was talking about moving over to a different blogging system in order to better serve my content. That's still in plan, but instead of Mephisto, I think I'd rather use WordPress. I took it for a spin for and I'm quit happy with what it can do on the admin-user end. And being PHP I don't think it'd be too difficult to extend.

...especially the one's I'ven't even started

A couple of friends and I will soon start working on yet another pet project. It's a game we've been dreaming of making since quite a while ago, and although the code idea is unchanged, the floating ideas have ever shape shifted. Nevertheless, I have great confidence in what we can create, we just have to figure out how we'll implement it. On the side, I've also got two more pet-projects on the go, but little time is found for those, and I don't know if any of them will see the light of online very soon.

Having many things I want to do helps, though. At the end of the year half of the things I planned for the year will have been done, along with as many things that weren't planned. The good thing is that I know what I want to make of next year. It would be silly to have a new-year's resolution of "Heck, whatever comes!", wouldn't it?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Magic: The Gathering in Iasi: September 2008 recap

Notice: Looking for the Magic: The Gathering community in Iasi? Be sure to check the dedicated blog and forum:

It’s been a while since I last blogged on the happenings of our starting Magic: The Gathering community, so here’s a recap.

Results for Standard Constructed

The second constructed event so far, and people got to bring those Time Spiral cards to the table one last time before they roll out of standard. Of course, we’ll play the Extended format in the future as well.

Google Spreadsheet See the results ›

Results for the Lorwyn/Lorwyn/Morningtide draft

The second draft so far and we’ve decided to put that Lorwyn block to the test. Alex Mîrza was probably the luckiest of us, because he opened Garruk Wildspeaker in the second Lorwyn booster. Regarding the draft, it seems very few people are confident enough to draft Blue. Not even my friend Diesel(Iulian Avasiloaia) who’s the rarely playing anything else but blue. What was most drafted in this run were Goblins, and it’s also a Goblin deck that won.

Google Spreadsheet See the results ›

Alexandru Diaconu, the winner of the event, received a From The Vault: Dragons box, sponsored by LEX Copy Center. The rest of us will have to practice drafting a little more. You can practice drafting with 10th edition boosters for free on the new Magic: The Gathering website.

Upcoming events

Next Saturday we’re holding the launch event for Shards of Alara. Remember the tournament fee this time is 100 lei, and you will receive a Shards of Alara Tournament Pack, 3 Shards of Alara Booster Packs and a Mythic Rare foiled card named Ajani Vengeant.

LEX Copy CenterStarting Sunday October 4 Shards of Alara products can be purchased from LEX Copy Center. Other products are also available, including Tenth Edition theme decks (best deck to introduce new players to the game) and Lorwyn, Morningtide, Shadowmoor and Eventide products.

For more information about product availability contact lexcopycenter on the Yahoo! Messenger network, or you can visit the shop directly.

Starting with Shards of Alara all the local events promotion will move to and I’ll take back my blog. The website hasn’t been updated yet, but will soon be, to support event announcements (in a blog-style), tournament standings and reports and a forum. Also, don’t forget to add the public calendar to your Google Calendar or other calendar software.

For more information about future events contact simitus on the Yahoo! Messenger network or write me at alexandru.m.birsan at

Many thanks to LEX Copy Center, our cards supplier, and Amnesia Crem Caffe, our host. These events wouldn't be possible without their support.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Grapefruit Menger Sponge

Grapefruit Menger Sponge

Even find yourself with too many business cards? Maybe a big pile of them came with defects from the print shop and you’ve no use for them. Or you might have just moved like we did at Grapefruit and all of a sudden hundreds of business cards have just become unusable.

You can find a few more photos of this Menger Sponge on  Flickr

The Menger Sponge

 The Menger Sponge has it’s roots in fractal Mathematics, and it’s the three dimensional analog of the Sierpiński Carpet.

I’ve got the idea to create a menger sponge out of our business cards from an article on Arcana from a while back. That article itself was inspired from The Institute For Figuring.

Make your own

Personally, I wouldn’t use Magic: The Gathering cards to create a Menger Sponge just yet. My floor’s not crawling with commons, so I guess I’ll have to wait. But if you’re in the same situation Wizards R&D is in, you might want to create your own Level 2 Menger Sponge of Commons. Or maybe you’ll just build it from business cards!

Here’s an excerpt of the instruction PDF provided by The IFF.

Business Card Menger Sponge instructions excerpt

This image is an excerpt. You can find the original full document on The IFF website.

I’m waiting until the new business cards ship, and then I’ll collect all the remaining old business cards to see if we can make a Level 2 Grapefruit Menger Sponge.

Friday, September 12, 2008

We want to teach you Magic

Notice: Looking for the Magic: The Gathering community in Iasi? Be sure to check the dedicated blog and forum:

Tomorrow we’re gathering in the usual location for free Magic play.
Also, some of us will bring decks to teach others how to play.
(There’s no tournament/competition tomorrow, just free play.)

New player?
Come and learn to play Magic

We’ll have everything but the drinks. We’ll show you the basics, get you started on your first game and help you chose a color or pair of colors in order to buy your first deck!

Already a player?
Come and test your decks or trade cards

Since we’re meeting for free play, there won’t be any pairing. You can play against whoever you want! Bring your deck and wrestle! It’s also a good time to trade cards or talk about future events, deck strategies, combos and what-not.

We’re gathering in Amnesia Crem Caffe in the civic center around 11am and we’ll probably be there for around 4 hours (that’s what we usually spend). If you want to buy Magic: The Gathering products, like theme decks and booster packs, visit LEX Copy Center in Păcurari.

See you there!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Magic: The Gathering Constructed results (Iaşi, September 6)

Notice: Looking for the Magic: The Gathering community in Iasi? Be sure to check the dedicated blog and forum:

Last weekend we played a standard constructed tournament in the same setting as the draft. Performing my duty for the community, here are the results and some information about upcoming events.


Although somewhat similar in design to the “Elvish Predation” theme deck, Bogdan’s deck of elves really whooped the llama’s ass last Saturday. The second place was a deck of fairies featuring a playset of Scion of Oona. The third place was a deck of rot and cinders, featuring more -1/-1 counters than you can take.

 Pl  Name R 1 R 2 R 3 R 4 NBWSOSSOSOS
Bogdan Solca 5= 7+ 2= 6+1358½279
Alexandru Mirza 4+ 0= 1= 5+1357274½
Dan Diac 6= 4- 9+ 7+12½56½277½
Alex Diaconu 2- 3+ 7- 8+1258278
 Mircea Cretu 1= 9= 8+ 2-1258278
Iulian Avasiloaia 3= 8+ 0= 1-1256½272
Mihai Birsan 0= 1- 4+ 3-11½57½273
Dan Ignat 9+ 6- 5- 4-1157278
Ana Patache 8- 5= 3- 0= 1155½271½

Each round column has the following information: player number against which this player has played; "+" if this player won; "-" if this player lost; "=" if it was a draw. If the player number is 0, it means this player was a bye player for that round. (This player means the player on the row you're reading.)


You may check out the photos on  Flickr.

Upcoming events

I've setup a public calendar of events on Google Calendar, and you can grab the latest information from there. We're also working on a community website to gather all this information, and we hope to have it online soon.

Things look awesome so far: we have around 12 active players, which means we usually get at least 8 players participating in the event every Saturday; there are a lot of enthusiasts who want to learn the game, and now we're offering an opportunity for them to learn from experienced players. And we're only getting started. And of course, we wouldn't be here without the help of LEX Copy Center, our cards supplier, and Amnesia Crem Caffe, our host.

The next goal with this is to have sanctioned Friday Night Magic events with foiled cards won in every event.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Magic: The Gathering Draft results (Iaşi, August 30)

Notice: Looking for the Magic: The Gathering community in Iasi? Be sure to check the dedicated blog and forum:

The draft was a success! We’ve had fun playing and we’re definitely iterating this event. We’re thinking about a constructed next week.


We haven’t been playing for any prize this time, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give credit to the players. Here are the standings for this draft.

 Pl  Name R 1 R 2 R 3 NBWSOSSOSOS
Mircea Pricop 8+ 5+ 2+3318
Iulian Avasiloaia 3+ 4+ 1-2711
Raisa Diac 2- 6+ 5+2417
Bogdan Solca 6+ 2- 7+2414
Alex Mîrza 7+ 1- 3-1610
Mihai Bîrsan 4- 3- 8+1413
Dan Ignat 5- 8+ 4-1315
Dan Diac 1- 7- 6-0510

Each round column has the following information: player number against which this player has played; "+" if this player won; "-" if this player lost. (This player means the player on the row you're reading.)


You may check out the photos on  Flickr and on  Picasa.

Looking forward to the next Magic event in Iaşi. Maybe the next one will even be sactioned, eh? Many thanks to LEX Copy Center, our cards supplier, and Amnesia Crem Caffe, our host.

Friday, August 29, 2008

First Magic: The Gathering draft event in Iaşi

Notice: Looking for the Magic: The Gathering community in Iasi? Be sure to check the dedicated blog and forum:

Yes, we’re drafting! It is the first public Magic: The Gathering event in Iaşi and we hope it’s the jump start for our local community of players.

August 30, 2008 update: Posted results and photos from the event.

What’s Magic: The Gathering?

Magic: The Gathering is a very popular TCG with an estimated six million players in over seventy countries. Read more about Magic: The Gathering in my introductory article, or on the official website.

What’s drafting?

In a drafting event each player receives 3 booster packs. After being seated around a table, each player simultaneously opens one booster pack, selects a single card, and then passes the rest to the next player. The process is repeated for each booster pack. Once the draft is completed, players then build their deck from the pool of cards/miniatures they received in the draft.

What’s with this event?

We’re gathering in Amnesia Crem Caffe, Saturday August 30. The event will start at 11:00, and everyone should register prior to that time. We’ve already counted 8 participants, but we can support up to 16 players, so feel free to walk in and register prior to 11 if you want to play.

We’ll be playing 3 or 4 rounds of Swiss-style tournament. In Swiss-style each player participates in every round and the player with most points wins the tournament. (3 points are awarded for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss.)

There are no prizes at the event, we’re just gathering and playing. The event is also not be sanctioned by the DCI. We hope future events will be sanctioned and maybe we’ll even player for prizes.

I think this event is going to be a success! Many thanks to LEX Copy Center, our cards supplier, and Amnesia Crem Caffe, our host.

Friday, August 15, 2008

"Hacking" Basecamp: Greasing Those Time Reports

In a previous post I was talking about how we can use HTML tricks through Textile to better organize and document things in basecamp. Some things just can’t be done as simple, though.

Time reports

Basecamp Time Report (Before)The default time report view in Basecamp is useful especially when you want to review how the past time was spent. However, the view is sorted by clients instead of being sorted by day. That’s fine when you’re dealing with only a couple of clients, but when your focus is—per say—the past week and you’ve dealt with 7 clients things get messy.

Won’t fit without some grease

There was no easy “out of the box” way to deal with the issue, which is why we needed some extra help from a dear Firefox extension:
 Greasemonkey. If you want to use the following script, you’ll need to install the  Greasemonkey Firefox add-on.

Basecamp Time Report (Before)Now that you have Greasemonkey installed it’s time to get the script for the sorted time reports. I’ve uploaded the Basecamp: Time Report script on and version 0.1 is ready to be used! Once you have installed the script head to your local Basecamp and create a time report for a week to test it. Enjoy the beautiful time report sorted by day

I’m planning to update the script soon with more functionality, so be sure to check for updates.

Going back is easy even easier

If you ever need to go back to the per-client view, just switch Greasemonkey off by clicking it’s icon. Sure, it will turn into a sad face, but don’t worry about that yet.

Update: Group by project, Group by day

I've recently updated the script to add a button instead of directly changing the view. You'll find the "Group by day" link near the "Edit report" link.

There’s a lot more that can be done with Greasemonkey, and a quick look through the existing scripts on will prove just that. In an upcoming article about Basecamp Hacks I will show you how to print branded Writeboards.

Monday, August 04, 2008

One for All, and All in One

Note for the faint-hearted: The tone is for artistic purposes only.

Let’s take a look at some Lorwyn/Shadowmoor pairs who’s metafore I don’t get very well.

The Shadowmoor set brings 5 cards each definitely having the metafore of a crowd. The name’s the first thing to give them away: Kithkin Rabble, Faerie Swarm, Crowd of Cinders, Horde of Boggarts and Drove of Elves. The tricky part, though, is that they’re not actually crowds when they get in the game. They’re just a single creature packed with some ability that deceives you into thinking _“Wow, that’ll win my games!”_. And they do win your game if you’re playing agains the right deck. And when do you best feel it’s just one pathetic creature? When you bring your elder into play.


Kithkin Rabble and Wizened Cenn

Kithkin Rabble is in play and you’re playing Wizened Cenn. Because there’s a new white permanent in game, Kithkin Rabble would become a 2/2. When Wizened Cenn’s rules take effect, each other Kithkin in play should take +1/+1, so Kithkin Rabble becomes 3/3. But wait, I should be having a rabble of kithkins there (judging by the rules two 1/1 kithkins in this case), shouldn’t they each get +1/+1? Shouldn’t Kithkin Rabble be 4/4 instead? Or have the Kithkin gone back to farming, now?

A 3/3 kithkin with Vigilance and a lot of potential would work well for both defense and attacking, but what if your opponent plays an Incinerate on it or what not? You may play Spectral Procession in response if that happens, which will make you happy, but that’s not my point.


Faerie Swarm and Scion of Oona

Faerie Swarm is in play and you’re playing Scion of Oona. Since we have a new blue permanent in game, Faerie Swarm would become a 2/2. When Scion of Oona’s abilities take effect, Faerie Swarm becomes 3/3. Hold on a second! What kind of faerie trickery is this? That swarm, if we’re to call it that, should have 2 faeries by now, each getting it’s +1/+1. That Faerie Swarm should have been 4/4, which proves you can never trust Faeries.

Sure, a 3/3 with flying looks good on the table, unless you meet a withering spider in your way… You wish your hand had an Unsummon now, don’t you?

Black and Red

Crowd of Cinders and Incandescent Soulstoke
Horde of Boggarts and Mad Auntie

We’re not even getting started on these. Aside of the fact that Crowd of Cinders and Horde of Boggarts aren’t really crowds, their lords aren’t really their color (respectivelly)! Incandescent Soulstoke is all red and glowy, like most flamekin in Lorwyn, while the cinders are black. Mad Auntie is all black and stinky like a true Lorwyn goblin, but boggarts have turned red (an worse, some even green).


Drove of Elves and Imperious Perfect

There we go again: Drove of Elves in play and you’re playing Imperious Perfect. Suddenly the Drove of Elves is a 2/2 just because there’s a new green permanent. Imperious Perfect’s ability takes effect and before you blink the Drove of Elves is a 3/3. Wait, what? So there’s an elf stading near me, which gets +1/+1, but I can see many more there in the back, behind the trees! Don’t they too grow stronger at the sight of the perfect? She’s beautiful for all of you!

In spite of the agony in a planeswalker’s heart, this combo I find the best of the five. Every turn the Imperious Perfect will summon another green Elf Warrior, which will be for real, not like the ones in the crowd, which will pump up the crowd’s power and toughness. Also, the Drove of Elves is almost untouchable by your opponents, since they can’t target it. Well, that unless they hit you with the incredibly cheap Pyroclasm.

Call for a real Crowd

All of those five creatures work well in many decks, but I’d still like to see a real Crowd creature card ability, like “This creature is X separate targets, where X is the creature’s toughness”. So if you play a spell that lets you pick a target, you can only pick one in the crowd. If it attacks, however, they attack as one. Reminds me of banding, but you only need to play one card.

Of course each creature would be 1/1 by default, something like “P/T are equal to the number of lands you control”. But what if you Incinerate one of them? What, it just regenerates right back? Not very fair… unless maybe it’s black.

Maybe we should use counters instead… “This creature comes into play with X individual counters on it, where X is the number of lands you control as you play this spell. Whenever a land comes into play under your control, put an individual counter on this creature.” Fate Transfer would be a bugger right now, but that’s just life. But what if they play “Unsummon”?

Well, obviously counters can’t be spells, so we need to have “When an individual counter is removed from play, remove it from the game instead.”

Now to refine the initial rule a bit: “If a spell would affect this creature, it will act as if it were X separate creatures, where X is the number of individual counters on it.” How nice! So if I play Incinerate now, it will only remove one of the counters on the crowd. Pyroclasm still freaks me out, but then again—life.

I guess this is the mechanic I was looking for. It still needs some polishing, but it’s ok for the night.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Can Haz Eventide Prerelease Card

Another big day tomorrow! I'm going to Bucharest with Wky to participate in the prerelease event of Eventide. Still looking forward to such events taking place in Iasi, but I guess we've got a long way coming until that. Maybe if we work hard we'll have a prerelease and a release for Shards of Alara.

Overbeing of Myth

Overbeing of Myth, the Eventide Prerelease Card as announced on July 7 by WotC.

I don’t know exactly whether I’m going just for this dated foiled rare, or whether it’s because of the competition, but I feel like it’s a must-go. After all, it only happens every 3 months in Bucharest and not at all so far in Iaşi. Anyway the three boosters and the foiled rare above will suffice the efforts.

Now, judging I’ve come a long way since February I should be handling this event much better than the last time. Hey, maybe I even win a few rounds. The big attraction are the new cards, of course. The more I get, the better. I’ve also been hearing about some cool door prizes; maybe we get some of those as well.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Magic as we know it is about to change

The Lorwyn-Shadowmoor block in itself has changed the world of Magic for the established players. But it seems Magic has yet to have been completely changed.

Shards of Alara

Shards of Alara, the new expansion set, is going to bring in more than just a new plane we’re going to explore, but and entire train of changes with it. These changes aren’t necessarily bad though: some of them are actually awesome.


The reason for this is the fact that the TCG industry has started to bloom a while ago, which means Magic is no longer the only competitor as it was back in 1993. The main focus the creators have in mind is Assuming the Aquisition. What this means is that they want two things: to keep current players engaged and to have new players enthusiastic about the game.

All this and more is discussed in Mark Rosewater’s "The Year of Living Changerously" article, a bit more summarized on the announcement "Changes as of Shards of Alara", and even more summarized in my lines to come.


Well, the first change we’ve already noticed is the Fat Pack. Personally, I loved the separators and two boxes that came with Lorwyn and Morningtide, and I really miss them. On the other hand, I love the idea of more boosters in there, even though there’s only one Fat Pack box and no separators. Another thing I’m going to miss soon are the novels coming with every Fat Pack, but there’s something in stock to replace that.

As of the expansion set codenamed “Rock”(Shards of Alara) there’s a new level or rare: Mystic Rare. There are only going to be 15 Mythic Rare cards in the Shards of Alara, and they’re going to be carefully chosen, as Mark explains. This way Magic will have a truly collectible level of Rare that everyone’s going to want.

Booster contents will also change: 1 Rare, 3 Uncommons, 10 Commons and 1 Basic Land and 1 tip card or token. 1 in 8 boosters will also have a Mythic Rare card instead of the Rare card. The reason for the Basic land is also nicely explained by Mark in his article.

Shards of Alara Intro PackThe Theme Decks will change too: they’re going to be replaced by Intro Packs. Intro Packs will be smaller decks plus a booster. Marks says: “We wanted to show the new player the potential of what his or her deck could become. To do this, we felt strongly that we needed to get a booster pack into their hands. Only by ripping open a booster of random cards did we feel we could give new players the best taste of what Magic is truly about.” And right he is: I always feel warm and fuzzy inside whenever I’m about to open a new booster pack. Especially when it’s prerelease time!

The Magic publishing is also redesigned: every 6 months, starting this winter, there will be a book about a planeswalker; this autumn we’ll have “The Planeswalker’s Guide to the Shards of Alara”, a flavor book of the entire upcoming set; in the spring the block’s novel will be issued. The release dates for the novels also differ. Instead of being release along with the set, the guide will be release in September. And instead of a novel for every set, the Fat Packs will contain only an excerpt of the most recent Magic publication.

And if all that isn’t enought, the pre/release dates have been changed. The prerelease is now only a weekend before the actual release and the events (are said to) take place in even more place than before.

“Wow!”, huh?

Well, it’s not wow enough until you meet Sarkhan Vol, whom you’ll be getting to know this fall.

Frankly, I can’t wait for September to get my hands on that guide, can’t wait for October for the prerelease and… I just can’t wait for anything anymore. These teasers really tease me, now!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Turning Eventide


Eventide flavor art, © Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
Magic: The Gathering logo and related artwork © Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

Something, something, something… Lorwyn-Shadowmoor Block, something, something, something… complete!

I’m playing Magic: The Gathering for quite a while now and I’m glad to have played enough to get to see a complete block. (Well, actually, I’ll have to play a little more, because Eventide only launches near the end of this month.) And there couldn’t have been a better timing for me to start playing Magic: The Gathering. The Lorwyn-Shadowmoor block is the first to be somewhat biased to the Tolkien style of fantasy.

The Color Wheel And I

Personally I’m the most at home with White and Red. By allegiance I’m also friends with Green, which I happen to play quite often. Depending on my tone, I’m either very aggressive, which means I’d play a mono-red deck or a green-red deck, or somewhat calm, which means I’ll play my classic white Kithkin deck. Lately, Shadowmoor has also given me a pretty good taste of the Black/Red combo, so I’ve been playing some cinder elementals with every chance.

I’ve never settled with Black though. I’m just not suited for Black, because it’s not my style of play. I also find it to be one of the most difficult colors to play with, probably because of it’s quite high mana costs. But since black has shared a place is some of my decks (Black/Green Lorwyn elves, Black/Red Shadowmoor elementals), I’ve never been a peace with Blue. My friend Diesel masters Merfolks like he’s one of them, and Dan could fit blue in any white control deck, but not me. I tried a deck of fairies once, but the flashy thing just didn’t do it for me.

What The Dawn Brings

What I am going to try when Eventide kicks in is a Blue/Red deck. The idea of control and firepower altogether makes my head hurt, but I think Eventide is going to make it really easy with special cards just ready for that. Also, I’ve been trying to get my hands on a White/Green Shadowmoor theme deck to get something rolling, and I think I’m going to do it soon.

As funds will permit, I’ll want to experiment it all with Eventide, since the enemy-paired colors sound like a lot of fun.

Time To Bring In The Peanuts

So far we’ve been playing for almost nothing. Of course, most of us were merely learning. (Except for Dan, who’s been playing the game in the past.) But time has come that we play for more. It’s time to scout the land for more planeswalkers and even more trainees. Who knows, maybe soon we’ll even have sanctioned events, right?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

DS vs. iPod Touch

Nintendo DS vs. iPod touch

Although this spring’s changes drove me into recession, now that my life is coming back to normal, I think I’ll be able to afford a gadget gift for myself this summer. For one thing there’s going to be a some traveling this summer. For the second, I’ve decided to use public transportation more often. Both of these would go nicely with a toy on the side.

Right now it’s hard to decide between the two beautiful gadgets, both with strong and weak points. This is where I’m asking for help: which would be best for me? Throughout the following week I’ll update the post according to which device scores better.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A Show About Karma

Karma is a funny thing. His name is Earl

One of my friends made a really big push for this TV Show, and by the initial impression I got for it I thought I'd never watch it. But there came a time in my life when watching this show was necessary. I had finished all the House M.D. episodes out there, LOST was done by summer and with writer's guild strike last autumn there's not much left of this season.

In spite of not giving it much hope, I was caught up after two episodes only. Now I'm half way into the first season and I love it. So now I have two reviews coming up: My Name is Earl, and House M.D. And even though it's been a while since, I also have a LOTRO review coming up.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

One Planet, One Station: Music One

Today's Dance: Music One

After one year off-air, they’re back just in time for Summer!

When Music One held last show before going off-air last year many people felt sad. The best dance radio station on the Internet was going offline for who knew how much time. This spring the website started announcing a 2008 come-back, and near the end of May I know many fans were getting the chills. “Will it be back after exactly one year? Will it be back now?”

A year of silence

I’m very happy Music One is back online. This used to be the only radio I’d listen to while working.

The past year’s been a mess! Sure, Kiss FM has good music and cool shows, if you can cope with all the lame and ever repeating ads… And at some point you just get bored of your own playlist too!

DI’s Euro Dance station would also be a good choice, but alas, it does not have that twist of Hi-NRG and least of all, it doesn’t have that crown cherry gingle!

Today’s Dance: Music One

Now that’s a gingle I love to hear! Welcome back, M1! Let’s tune in for some m1live classics as well as hours and hours of fresh dance music.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

"Hacking" Basecamp: Useful markup tricks

Project badges, quicklinks and notes

The Overview section of a project is usually the first page you’d visit when visiting a project. Of all the uses for the “announcement” field a project manager can fill in the Project Settings page, I best like the status banner:

Basecamp Project Settings Basecamp Project Overview hacks and tricks

p{margin:-20px -28px 0pt -23px;padding:5px 10px;background:#FF8;color:black;}. *Project status:* Testing

Of course, other useful direct information could be served, like the link to the test server with test username and password.

To-Do links and labels

Basecamp To-Do hacks and tricks

Ever wanted to paste a link into a To-Do item? Ever bloated your Basecamp layout by doing that? Well, unfortunatelly Basecamp doesn’t support textile with it’s To-Do lists… (It works almost everywhere else, though…) What does work, is vanilla HTML: just do <a href="#...">Short Link Label</a> and you’re good to go.

Except for just links I also like labels here and there, where appropriate. I use <span style="background:#069;color:white;padding:2px 3px;">Label</span>. Colors vary by label type. Sure, you need to write HTML and CSS, but whatever does the trick, right?

Writeboard sections

Basecamp Writeboard hacks and tricks

The common tricks I use with writeboards are the black heading separator:

h1{background-color:#000;color:#fff;margin:0 -62px 0 -20px;padding:.3em}. Phase 1

h2{background-color:#dadada;padding:.3em;margin:1em -62px 1em -20px;}. Overview

...and the section highlighter:

<div style="background:#FFFABC;padding:5px 62px 5px 20px;margin:0 -62px 0 -20px">

In writeboards I also usually like to remove margins from my h2s.

These are all cheap but sometimes useful tricks. In a next article about Basecamp Hacks I will show you how to print branded Writeboards.

Friday, May 02, 2008

More Changes

Get new toys

I have tons of thing to write about, but I just feel that this isn’t the right place to put them. I don’t want to just throw content in, without any way of filtering it. More than that, I have very little control over this blogging system.

So what’s most likely to happen, I’ll get a hosting service up and running and start writing code for my own blog. I’ll probably start building over Mephisto. They’ve recently moved to Git, which means I can fork it really easily.

Be a better waiter

I want to serve my content nicely, so what I’m going to do is start differentiating the content. Not only serve selective RSS feeds, but also have different presentations according to what a user is seeking on my website. I mean, not everyone wants to hear my rants about society, but that doesn’t mean I should publish somewhere else, does it? Instead they’ll have the option to just filter it out and never hear from it again. Well, unless some freak deletes their cookies, or they don’t use their own computer, in which case I’d recommend an RSS reader or… no, wait… that’s it.

Cookies for preferences might seem like a cheap trick, but it would be effective and usable. After all, that’s what cookies were designed for, right? There’s always a thought bothering me about whether it’s actually usable, considering factors like… people who don’t use their personal computer, or don’t have profiles setup for themselves on the computer they use…

Pay more attention to old toys

Khrome hasn’t been getting much attention lately, with this job change and everything… Lots of failures, lots of downtime, lots of people unhappy, yet still a lot of them loyal. I’m planning to revive that project in the next month, especially since we have a new sponsor on our back. (We’re moving away from the old one, by the way.)

Some probably wonder why Khrome is worth it… How about I tell you that when my new blog launches? :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Like I said, the beginning of this year was marked by changes. Many changes, some smaller, some bigger, but undoubtedly all changes have happened due to a choice I made.

Bad choice

One of the bad things with my system is that when some plan is in place I usually stick to it. However, if premises change, I usually reconsider my choice, except if I’m way too tired to do that. In January I planned some work to be done in my appartment, which involved a lot of money spent, and lot of dust and…, well, dirt. When I came back from mom late February I had spent a lot of money, and my resources were quite low. More than that, I changed my workplace, and the pay day had shifted an extra half a month. However, I still started the work in my home, disregarding my lack of funds.

Morale: Don’t do that.

Good choice

A year ago, while I was working on, I had an idea that it would be nice to hold some seminars about Web 2.0 and Rails. Later in the autumn I contacted missis Ema Cerchez and mr. Marinel Serban, my ex-teachers from highschool, about holding a couple such seminars for the students in their classes. We started this spring, and it proves to be a good thing. I really like that some of the stundents are quite enthusiastic about Ruby on Rails, especially those who had some trouble with PHP. I’ll sure keep this up, and maybe talk to a broader audience some time soon.

Morale: Do that.

Of course, I had many more choices to take, but I can’t talk of the most frustrating, and I won’t talk of the most boring. Nevertheless, there’s a subtle embedded message in this post.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Breaking Radio Silence

It sure has been a long while since I've last had time to write. There has been a lot happening, I've had tons of ideas of stuff to write about, but there's just been... well, no time for me. Not that my blog is got a lot of readers now, but I feel worm and fuzzy inside knowing I've posted something some might digg. Isn't that what drives all bloggers?

Since the whole beginning of the year has been about change, this is what I want to talk about next. The next post will be about change. Also in the area, I'm going to change some things in my blog: I'm moving all the techy posts to their own lair, and all the gaming/entertainment posts to another lair. This place will stay and act as a personal blog of it's own. I'ven't yet decided whether to move the blog to another hosting service, or whether to create separate accounts on Blogger...

I'd say "I'll keep you guys posted", but since my blog doesn't have much of an audience it's quite stupid. So here's another change... I'd have to build audiences. Most hits on my blog came for the Jeff Dunham post via Google Search, and it hasn't fell any lower since October. Cool, but I'm not happy about it! I don't know if I'll find much audience for the personal blog, but there will be plenty people to read the gaming or the techy blog. Or at least I hope so.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Simon's Cat

Here's a nasty little kitten that would do anything for a little bit of food!

Simon's Cat 'Let Me In!' Simon's Cat 'Cat Man Do'

Reminds me a bit of Garfield, but even though the idea is not genuine innovation, the scenarios and the animation are great! These two little videos made my day.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

New Challenges, New Responsabilities

From Grapefruit to Educatus

Last Friday was my last day as Grapefruit, and to me it was sad as hell. I had planned leaving six months ago, and I knew March was the month I'm off... But even so, leaving friends behind is tough. I'm not a faint-heart, and I didn't expect this to get to me, but it seems it did. I just know I won't be able to help paying them visits often.

Now I work at Educatus, and professionally, the road ahead is quite shiny: all I have to do is what I do best. The major income for me is that I get to do a project I've been dreaming to do since quite a while ago. It's a big plan, and there are lots of risks, especially now in the beginning, but I have faith we will succeed, even though we're starting from mud-level and we're aiming mountain-peak high. I have good partners make for a good ride, there's no way we'll fail.

Yet still, there's a glimpse of doubt in my guts, and I can think of a million reasons why I should go back to Grapefruit right this instant, and a million more why I should stick with the plan. I'm a man of my word, and there's lots of excitement about the big project I'll be working on, which is why I must stick with my decision. I can only hope a year from now I'll be laughing about ever doubting my decision.