2015 Goals Met List

Before you go make big plans for next year, don’t forget to celebrate everything you accomplished THIS year. It’s rare any of us take a moment to really appreciate all the wins we have had. Here is my list of personal and business goals that I achieved in 2015.

Business Goals Met in 2015
Build an Amazing team to help run Greyscalegorilla.
Focus more on what is working and ignore what isn’t.
Surround myself with people that are better at me at everything so that I can learn from them.
Learn More Cinema 4D and X-Particles.
Empower my team to make decisions instead of micromanaging. (this one is tough and is still ongoing.)
Launch Renewal Pricing For GSG Products.
Make The Reflectance Channels Easier To use In Cinema 4D.

Personal Goals Met in 2015
Marry my best friend.
Read 20 books. (By read, I mean listen to on Audible)
Be more present when around people. (AKA – Stop playing with my phone).
Move to Michigan to be closer to family.
Cold showers every day.
50+ Pushups every day.
Go to more conferences.

There were plenty of goals that weren’t met or only partially met. I wanted to try to meditate more for example, but I probably did it less than 20 times this year. I will add it to my 2016 list and push forward.

Hope you had a productive 2015 and have a wonderful 2016.

This Paragraph Should Be At The Beginning Of Every Book

Use strong words to communicate your ideas. There will always be caveats and one-off counter examples. But putting those things in your writing or speaking simply confuses the message.

Getting Real

This is from a book called Getting Real. It totally changed the way I thought about the world.

They cleverly disguised it as a book about software development, but it’s ideas have changed almost every part of my life.

Halfway though reading the book, I had to stop bookmarking pages because I realized I was bookmarking every page.

Also recommended by the author – Rework

Everything is Not for Everyone

Digital Pinball Machine Final Build And Specs

It’s been almost three years since I started building a digital pinball machine. in 2011 I started getting really into pinball. But, I couldn’t really have a “Real” pinball machine in my apartment because of the noise. So, I decided to start building a digital version out of a custom PC, some virtual pinball software called Visual Pinball.

These digital pinball emulators really worked well and all the games that I played as a High-School and College kid were available in their original form. I could build ONE cabinet, download all the files, and have ALL the games I ever played in one box. Cool!

I started doing research online and seeing other videos and photos of how other people have built their machines. I even tried some other builds at the Chicago Pinball Expo. I asked a lot a questions and did a lot of research before building my own rig. Learning how to maneuver through Microsoft Windows was probably the most challenging part. I haven’t touched Windows in over 15 years so it was pretty tedious for me to learn to do even simple things like install the software and batch rename files.

More Than I Needed

I chose the parts I did for the best speed and quality. I have tried other digital pinball machines and they all had problems I didn’t want on my machine. Some had a lot of lag between hitting the buttons and seeing the flipper flip on screen. Others had put cheap TVs in their game that led to poor brightness when viewing from the side. If I was going to build a machine, I wanted it to be the best, brightest and fastest.

Some of the hardware used could have be scaled back, but I wanted to be sure this was as good as possible even if I had to spend a few extra hundred bucks. Here are some decisions I made to make this machine different from the other Digital Pinball Machines i tired.

Here are a few decisions I made that I think helped make the final machine much faster and better looking.

SSD Drive: This was an expensive but easy choose. the SSD Drive boots into the interface MUCH faster than a normal drive. When you launch a game, it only takes a few seconds to load. Ive seen this take over thirty seconds on slower machines.

Two NVIDIA GeForce 560 Video Cards: It’s a bit overkill, but I wanted two fast cards for displaying all the graphics. The main playfield TV is the only one that needs this much graphics power, but I wanted to have matching cards for future versions of Visual Pinball just incase they incorporate higher graphics for the back glass or DMD area.

3D TV: I chose a 3D tv not for it’s 3D capability, but because 3D TVs have brighter output and better viewing angles. This is important for this type of installation because we will be looking at the TV at at angle not typical of a normal TV. I also wanted an extra high quality monitor because we would be standing so close to the TV compared to usual TV watching.

After I got all the hardware together and working, it was time to build a cabinet for it all to go in. Honestly, I was going to try and build it myself. But I just got too busy at work. So, I called on VirtuaPin to build a custom cabinet. I have seen their builds before and I knew they had experience in all this stuff. I dropped off all the TVs and other hardware and they did the rest. The final cabinet was delivered to my office all ready to boot and play.

Here is an itemized list of everything used in the final build.

Monitor Hardware

Main Monitor 40″ Samsung 3D TV
Backglass Monitor Hanz-G 16×10 27 inch.
LED DMD with PinDMD Controller Board and 5v PSU

Computer Specs

Sabertooth P67 Motherboard
Crucial M4 128GB SSD
Intel i7 3.4 2600K Quad Core
4GB Ram
Logitech Wireless Keyboard
Logitech Wireless Mouse
1 NVIDIA GeForce 560 TI
1 NVIDIA GeForce 560
DMD Screen
Seasonic 760W Power Supply

Custom Cabinet by VirtuaPin

Finished Cabinet with all parts, glass, pre-wired, and backbox elements installed
Widebody – Finished – Trimmed
Ultimate Cab-Builder’s Button Kit
Terminal Block
Speaker Panel
Widebody Apron
Playfield Glass
Tempered Backglass
Power Strip with Autoswitching
2x120W Pyle® Pro Stereo Power Amplifier
PYLE PLW10BL 10-Inch 600 Watt Subwoofer
2xCooler Master 120mm Computer Case Fans with Chrome Guards
Custom Lockdown Bar
Pinball Hardware Pack Including real pinball buttons, trim, door and legs.

Software

Windows 7 Profesional
DMD Align
HyperPin
Visual Pinball

It was a really fun project to work on. But, i’m glad it’s all finished and working well now instead of a ball of wires. having it all cleaned up in one box is way more fun. 🙂 If you have any questions about it, hit me up in the comments.

Standing Desk Day 1

A few things came together in the last month to make me try a standing desk yesterday.

1. My lower back was hurting. I had lower back surgery when I was 21 and I felt some of the same pain coming back. This was not good. Plus, it always seemed worse when I sat down for a long time.

2. I have been working on this pinball project. It required me to stand up and sit down a lot. It also was in another part of the office with a crappy wooden chair instead of my fancy Aeron. It didn’t help the back problems.

3. Some of my friends tried it and they liked it. I got to test it at Max’s house for a few minutes and thought it could work.

4. I thought that it would make me actually WORK more. It would limit my time at a desk and hopefully make that time more precious and productive.

So, in trying to fix my back, and be more healthy and productive, I tried it. I went to Home Depot and got a few cinder blocks. Turns out 16″ (the size of one block) was the perfect amount to raise the desk to make it a good height for standing. No new desk, not expensive. A few bucks and some rearranging and I was standing.

Day one wen’t pretty well. It was about 5 hours on my feet and I was definitely getting a bit sore. I did feel tired at the end of the day, but in a good way. In a “I actually worked today” kind of way. I’m currently writing this half way into day two and I definitely feel more productive. It’s not as easy (or comfortable) to watch an hour long youtube interview or another damn TED talk. I find, so far, that I am propelled to get shit done. I also moved the pinball project to the desk as well, so I can easily go back and forth without sitting in a crappy chair, or getting up a lot to test it. Extra Bonus? Dancing while working is now an option. Pretty fun!

I will let you know how it goes after a month or so. Have any of you tried a standing desk?

UPDATE: I now work in a shared office and don’t have the ability to customize my desk like this. But, I have experimented with sitting on yoga balls and other weird looking seats with good results. I used the standing setup above for about 9 months and still recommend it for anyone who wants to try a standing desk inexpensively.

Visual Pinball I-PAC

Got a new part of the project in the mail this week. The I-PAC will let me use real flipper buttons instead of a keyboard to control the flippers and start games. Getting close with hardware. Now it’s time to finally build a cabinet. Hopefully next week.

Happy New Year!

Virtual Pinball Machine – Week 1

I set off to build a virtual pinball machine last week. I went out and bought all the stuff to build a PC for it. I haven’t built a PC from scratch since high school. I had to base it on a Windows machine for a few reasons. First is because it all runs on some open source software that only exists on Windows. Second, and the reason I couldn’t use Boot Camp or Parallels, is because I need to have access to some pretty beefy video cards. Parallels just doesn’t have that ability to utilize a big card, let alone two of them that I eventually need to run three monitors. So, a PC it is…


All the parts for the big PC build.

Anyway, here are the results after the first few days of work. I got the machine up and running, the software loaded and the skeleton of the machine built. It’s all controlled with a keyboard now, but when the i-Pac gets here, I will have the ability to control the game with real buttons. I have a long way to go including making a cabinet and buying larger monitors, but it’s been pretty fun so far. As with most of my silly obsessions, I’m not sure where this will end up. But, I certainly am having fun.


It worked!

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