A new hero enters the arena!

I do get to play from time to time, not just run play test games. I stoked to get to play today, too. Mack is running an adaptation of Venture City based in the One Punch Man universe set in San Antonio, Texas. Our first epic session last week involved rescuing a YouTube star’s kitty from a tree, being attacked by “super haters” and their dobermans, and foiling a robbery of a Valero Cornerstore by a “super hater” sympathizer intending to ambush us. [You can tell how seriously we take our gaming!]

In the spirit of excitement, I figured I’d share my character with you, because he’s the awesomest. No. Srsly. He’s all the good bits of Mumen Rider rolled into an All-American cybernetic package.

Prognos (a.k.a. Allan Small)

An unassuming, average looking fellow with brown eyes and brown hair cut in what will be the fashion next season. Dresses formally in suit and tie in what will be the next breakout designer’s look.

  • High Concept: Spoiler Alert!
  • Trouble: I brake for underdogs.
  • Prophet for Fun & Profit
  • All Six Degrees
  • A Techno-Wizard Is Never Late

Constructed as a government experiment to produce the perfect infiltration agent in the form of a human/AI hybrid, Allan arranged to have Project Prognos canceled as a dismal failure. Given a 10% medical discharge (because he causes headaches in others around him and he complains of mild arthritis due to the cyberwire installations), he is now an attorney (mostly pro bono) who works as a financial advisor (day-trader) for charities, community organizer (rabble-rouser and lobbyist) for several NGOs, political advisor to local campaigns (only liberty-minded candidates), and civil rights activist for libertarian causes–when he’s not saving puppies, getting kitties out of trees, or fighting crime. It’s the little distractions that keep him from going mad with boredom brought on by always knowing what other people are thinking as well as what’s going to happen next.

Refresh: 2


  • Basic Precognition (Defend against physical attacks with Notice)
    • Drawback: Always Looking to the Future, Never His Mind On Where He Is
    • Special Effect: Physical Recovery/You recover from all physical stress.
    • Special Effect: Mental Recovery/You recover from all mental stress.
    • Collateral Damage: Future Echoes/Everyone else attacks at -4 for the rest of the scene.
  • Master Precognition (Enhancement; +2 Notice to defend against physical attacks)
  • Basic Influence (Synergy; Attack Rapport vs. Will to force others to act as I chose.)
  • Basic Teleportation (Synergy; Move up to 3 zones in line of sight as an action.)
  • Basic Telepathy (Synergy; Use Notice to read surface thoughts and detect unfamiliar minds in my current or adjacent zones.)
  • Master Telepathy (Enhancement; +2 Notice when reading minds)
  • Basic Energy Blast (Synergy; You can fire a projectile of some sort–microwave laser, with a range of three zones, using Shoot.)
  • Basic Technology Theme (Cyberwire Implants along all neural and nerve pathways; Power Amplification/Nullification don’t work on me.)


  • Great (+4): Rapport
  • Good (+3): Shoot, Contacts
  • Fair (+2): Notice, Resources, Burglary
  • Average (+1): Lore, Stealth, Crafting, Investigate


Dear Parents/Teachers, you were wrong!

I love my parents dearly. However, I am going to issue a HUGE nyah-nyah in their general direction today. Along with all those teachers who told me to stop daydreaming. Science says you were WRONG! Heh.

Smile with tongue out

Daydreaming man
Daydreaming while working on complex mental tasks may not be such a crime; a new study suggests it can actually enhance mental performance. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284393.php

p.s. Please do NOT tell my children or team members this.

Time for remedial English?

Egad! I can only correct so many hundreds of proposed edits to Modernity before I start to discern a pattern. It isn’t simply that I do not live and breath the Chicago Manual of Style (any edition), it’s that I apparently have no fundamental understanding of a few basic English concepts. Based on the copious quantity of proposed edits, you wouldn’t think that I have a bachelors of science with a minor in English.

I’m prepared to defend my abuse of punctuation, eclectic vocabulary, and my idiosyncratic love of the semicolon, but. . . How did I get this far in life and always misuse “that” and “which”?

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with editors before, but I’ve never had one make me cry over the difference between hyphens and emdashes.


Back to the grindstone.

Goodbye, Outlook Tasks!

When I first met Peter Bregman, he was on his book tour speaking at Microsoft Research. In 2012. He tried to convince me to give up Outlook Tasks for managing all the stuff that I wasn’t doing. His logic was sound. He repeatedly pointed out that “It’s a myth. You can’t do it all!”

I wasn’t yet ready to acknowledge that my [many] task lists were really just a pile of things that I wish I had time to do. But don’t.

I bought the book, 18 Minutes, anyway and had Peter sign it for me. He was very gracious.

My wife and kids have read it (and done better than I have at following Peter’s advice).

Sure, I adopted some of his recommended practices:

  • I made a simple, six-box set of priorities. (I even look at them once in a while!) They’re in OneNote and pinned to the start screen on my phone so that I can’t ignore them (all the time).
  • I schedule time on my calendar for the important things, instead of putting them on a list.
  • I don’t put anything on my calendar that doesn’t fall into one of the six boxes.
  • I make myself accountable for the items on my calendar every day, even if they don’t get done during the time slot I originally allocated to them.
  • I celebrate the things I do get done, which is a lot more than I did two years ago.

imageEven the partial adoption of the 18 Minutes philosophy has made me more productive and successful in the past two years. I highly recommend the book. Peter’s fun to read.

Fast forward 2 years, 2 months, and a fortnight.

I still have hundreds of task list items in 6 different mailboxes (two of them Office 365 mailboxes). Many of them over a year old. Most of them long overdue.

I’ve known that I have a task problem for a long time, but it was never a priority to do anything about it, and I always promise myself that I’ll review the task list someday and do those things.

So why am I saying goodbye to my task lists now?

wp_ss_20140723_0002Windows Phone 8.1 made me do it.

I’ve had the same Windows Phone 8 device since Launch Day™. I stood in line for 8 hours on Microsoft’s main campus with a couple thousand of my closest cow-orkers to get my “free” phone. I’ve never been without it since, not a single day. Until this past Monday. My reliable, beloved HTC 8X has finally gone to the great phone Valhalla in the sky. RIP, little guy. I’ll miss you.

I have a great new device, a Nokia Lumia 635 with Windows Phone 8.1 on it. I love it. It’s so yellow that you can see it from space. I’m not prone to losing devices, but just in case, you know?

Now, I’ve always had the comfort of being able to easily swipe over to my task list on my phone and look at them. Occasionally even complete (or delete) one! But over the years with Windows Phone, as it grows and matures, it is becoming clear that Tasks are an afterthought for the team that maintains the Calendar app.

I can’t swipe over to my task list anymore. I have to perform some alternative action to discover my tasks. As a creature of habit (part of my autism is being pretty change averse), this is painful. It just seems like nobody thinks tasks are important enough to treat like first class citizens the same way that email, contacts, and appointments are. I don’t know if Tasks are going the way of Outlook Notes. (I don’t think ActiveSync has supported Outlook Notes since Windows Phone 7, but I could misremember; maybe it never did. I gave up on Outlook Notes long ago.)

  • I can’t pin Tasks to the start menu or create Tasks from the start menu.
  • I can’t do a lot of the categorization, coloring, etc, on the phone that I can do with tasks in Outlook. I’m not sure the two teams are communicating with one another regularly.
  • I can’t effectively search or do more than a basic sort of tasks on my phone.
  • OneNote is where the task functionality seems to be headed. Which sort of makes sense, although they don’t really have reminders, sortability, etc, either.
  • For now, tasks do still sync with my various clouds, but… I can’t find a Windows Phone app that does what I want AND supports more than one mailbox at a time.
  • The Windows Phone API only allows read-only access to other apps for appointments and contacts, not for tasks, which means I’m really, really too lazy to reinvent the wheel and code to the Office 365 API and manage my own task store on the phone. Ick.
  • Do I really need them after all?

No. I don’t really need them after all.

Fine. I can admit when I’m wrong. I’m sorry, Peter. You were right.

With my grieving done, I’ve made one final task list in OneNote.


Goodbye, Outlook Tasks.