Monday, October 21, 2013

The guy you want on your team...

Ok, this is Owen (machinegunnerusmc) and he streams here:  Hands down this is the guy you want on your team.  If I had a company I'd offer him a job in a second and sponsor him otherwise.  He swears at times, he smokes - and I guess that in popular culture that would make him an anti-hero, but he comes closer to being the ideal teammate that I've ever come across (yup even compared to movies).

I came across his stream from Zalrium (a player on League of Legends) and have no idea where Zalrium found about him.  If you've played multiplayer online games like League of Legends you've undoubtably come across people that rage and troll and make the experience unpleasant at times...  But occasionally you come across someone that's fun as heck to play with: maybe they teach you something new or point out something that you are doing wrong (in a nice way) or invite you to play with more good people.

The key thing is that you don't know anything about who they really are - they could be a 13 or 80 years old, they may be great players or they might just have a talent for explaining what they see - they could be down the street or across the world - who and where they are in real life doesn't matter.  Players can make a huge difference in somebody's day without ever knowing it.

Owen has insanely great skills at the game - but that's not what makes him the ideal teammate...  On his stream he plays with normal viewers (even low level) and some of the best people in the world.  While he gives lots of hints and explains his thought processes while playing (guaranteed you will learn something), he points of streams from other really great players - but what makes his stream special is that you get to see how he interacts with every type of person.  You get to see his true character (and yup this guy has more character than any marine scripted in the movies).  He really is the guy who can bring people together and make things happen - he's the type of person you want with you when things go wrong...

If he's streaming and you have time watch for a bit.  I have no idea why he doesn't have more viewers (maybe he recently started streaming) but he's the type of player that ought to be held up as the archetype of the who you want on your team (whether it's in a game or real life).

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Ok, I'm still learning this game (+League of Legends) and I make lots of mistakes - I know I'm not good at many things - but when I play I want to learn something new each time and have fun.  
If you haven't played it (it's free) - it's a very interesting game.

I'm certain that every player has had those insanely great games where a blind solo 5v5 queue magically ends up with a set of players that had the "wrong" balance of characters and everyone makes silly mistakes, but somehow a real team formed during play and your team came back from what everyone would expect to be a total loss and you made it an epic win.  I love games like that (they don't happen so often - but nothing makes me happier than to be part of the underdogs in a game that turn it around to win - that's where I learn the most).

Of course I want to win (everyone does) but as long as I learn something in each game I feel like I accomplished something -> even if it's just what my limits are today with a given champ, where not to position against a given player, how not to be sucked into a trap, when not to chase, when to adjust an anticipated build order, when to dive into a team fight and when to head to the other side of the map an pop a tower/grab buffs instead, how to bait a gank/counter bank - (of course the list is endless).

Those games where 5v5 become effectively 3v5 or worse (afk/trolls/quits) still have the opportunity to learn for the people that keep playing.  Never give up/never surrender no matter what happens.  I've had game where our team had one tower and the nexus (they had only one tower down) and we pulled together, got an ace, took baron, got a second ace and won the game - that feeling of having a team just form out of the aether and everyone suddenly playing far better and smarter than minutes before is amazing).

All I really want to do is learn something new each game and preferably play with a team of people that want to have fun and learn something new each game.  I don't think it's fun for anyone to have that caustic player on their team that makes everyone else unhappy.  I don't think it's fun for anyone to have a problem in lane or skill matchup and be left alone to suffer (as a team lanes can be reordered, ganks can rebalance the levels if it's done early, even a tiny bit of advice about a player or an opponent that might be basic to you could help the suffering player fix the problem (maybe they don't know if, maybe they do but the stress of the situation is making them panic and their focus is lost).  I love it when after the game players on both sides explain exactly what each side did wrong/how they took advantage of it/how to fix it/what plays were lucky/which one failed/better uses of champions in certain situations/better adaptions to builds to counter certain champion combinations in chat.

My guess is that there are a lot of people (most?) that really just want to play to have some fun and learn something whether they win or lose a given game.

So… feel free to send a friend request to me (Tanukifu) or add your name below and I'll be happy to join a custom game of yours or invite you to a custom game I run whenever I'm playing.  
It doesn't matter to me what you want to work on (maybe just cs/last hits - warding - jungling with a given character - counter juggling - AD/AP carry - support combinations - push strategy - heck, maybe you just want to get a lot of kills in a given game - maybe you just want to get better at positioning (not dying)… I won't judge you if you try and don't do well at it as long as you try to help other people achieve their goals as well (teamwork wins, not just personal accomplishments)).

Tell me what you want to work on and I'll do my best to help (which in a given circumstance might not be enough, but in another might be excellent) - I won't quit - I will learn everything you teach me as fast as I can - I will always put the other members of the team before myself (I don't care if I die so that the AD/AP players can get a kill or escape) - I am never caustic or abusive - I never report anything other than continued abusive language at another player (and that's rare for me to see) - I don't care if you make mistakes - I don't care if you try something and it doesn't work - I don't care if we win or lose (but winning is a little better of course). 

It doesn't matter to me what level you are or what your ranking is - only that you want to play and try to get better.  Maybe you only play bots because of bad experiences in normals.  Maybe you are very low level with this player but know the game very well already.  Heck, maybe you are a high level ranked player that's having a bad day and just wants to feel useful by teaching other people how to play - that's cool too.

No matter what happens in a given game, if people on our team (and ideally the other team as well) all learn something then it's been worthwhile.

Make a friend request on league (Tanukifu), send an email ( or post below and people that feel the same way can have a better chance of enjoying the game and getting better and having fun. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Got my printrbot simple beta... yay

Printrbot did a beta run of the printrbot simple at a little discount and luckily I came across it when it was available.  I was planning on getting a printrboard and an extruder soon anyway for a different project so it was a no brainer (if it wasn't useful then I'd still have useful parts).  Ends up it's quite a neat little PLA printer.

Most of the parts are lasercut wood and designed around a combination of slots/tabs and m3 screws/kept nuts.  I had zero problems with the quality of the cuts, the alignment of pieces, quality of the wood (qc is good here).

The bottom is formed from two pieces, one designed to hold the x axis bearings and the one below it to provide space for the ziptie nubs.  I didn't tighten everything down before all the parts were together later.

The electronics board is intended to fit inside the core of the body.  While I had read that some people swapped it outside the core (apparently there were collisions with moving parts) I decided to go with the original intent.  I didn't end up with any problems at all once everything was assembled.

One thing I should have noticed was that the current settings were too high for some of the steppers -> found that later.

Once logical combinations of pieces could be squared against each other I tightened the frame screws.  I did not lock the z axis stepper in place because alignment couldn't be optimized until the rest was assembled.

The bottom of the build platform attaches to the x axis rods and once caged with zip ties I tightened all of them as much as possible.  Some people don't like zip ties, but from my perspective they work very well and hold up quite nicely -> a very practical solution when used correctly.

The connection to the stepper is fishing line (not certain what it's made of - there was a white line and a yellow line and I liked the feel of the white one better - the yellow one felt like kevlar to me). I was suspicious of the vinyl tube around the stepper shaft/fishing line combination but it actually works very well -> palomar knot on one end and just wrapped a few times around the other screw and tightened on the other (to a high violin C).  I went with fewer wraps around the shaft than suggested because it offered less angular change over the range of motion.

The board with the y stepper and the connection off the back to the z nut... I caged these with zip ties kept them loose for later alignment.
The y axis contains the mounting plate for the extruder and similar strategy as the x axis for the rods.  I botched the side to put the zip tie nubs on and had to reverse them later because they limited the range of motion - silly mistake but I have extra  so it doesn't matter.

I really like the laser cut wood extruder.  I've never had problems with the original plastic printed design, but this version was easier to get the bearings aligned perfectly.  The easy filament changing design is excellent.

The instructions want the stepper attached before mounting on the y axis but I didn't do that because I remember the problem getting to the mounting screw later.

the backing plate design for attaching the large gear to the hobbed bolt is much better than the plastic gear it was pressed into before.  However, I was a bit afraid of the fit of the gears when holding them by hand - they felt very very sticky. The old plastic printed herringbone gears felt perfect moving them over each other by hand.  Once assembled on the extruder the fit was quite good (although a little more slop than the old herringbones).

There were four halfs of what looked like a nut retainer to screw the flat on the stepper shaft and four small gears.  I just used wood glue to bind two halfs with a nut sandwiched inside to one small gear.  That ened up working very well.

The printing plate is mounted on the x platform with four m3 screws and 4 springs.

Once the extruder is mounted there is a slight angular tilt down towards the front from the tension - this is not a bad thing at all, but the angle of the bed needs to be aligned to match this angle.  I guess one could shim or build in an adjustment at the extruder mount point but it's not a big deal to level the bed.

The only thing left to do was find a place for the extra wire lengths...  I just tied them in the space behind the printrboard.  I did wrap the extruder wires in electrical tape as strain relief and to reduce the chance one would catch on something.

When I powered it up and went to print I had a few weird problems.  The suggested software (repetier) would crash after a few seconds when I started a print... Ends up that if I disable the 3D view it works fine without crashing.  I think the osx version (which I need) is different than the windows version (which I can't run).

I was guessing that the built in setting for the printrboard would be in the ballpark of correct and thought I would do the calibration after my first print... bad idea.  The x and y axes were off by a factor of 2, the extruder setting was way way off (got a big pile of goo - it was running 18+mm of filament when told to push 5mm).  I thought that off by around 4 would be a step mode difference on the board but since the values I ended up with for the extruder were not too far from other people with that extruder I think there must have just been some odd glitch.  After calibration everything was quite happy.  After a couple of weeks where I can see how stable they are I'll just burn them into the eeprom.

Not an unreasonable first print.  Because there isn't a fan I had a little warping on the top where the area for the layer was small and insufficient time for cooling.  I went for blue tape since I wanted to stay as stock for now.  I will use glass later.  PLA is interesting, needs a little higher initial height than ABS on a heated bed - seems to have a narrower range of temperatures where is sticks to blue tape well and it starts to string.  Not a good thing or a bad thing.

Just for fun after the calibration objects I tried a rabbit at a couple of layer heights at faster speeds.

As expected the ears got a bit funky without a fan (I'll add one later) but it seems that 0.2mm is better than anything in 0.3 to 0.4 range (probably rounding/achievable steps) in software.  While not that noticeable without the flash there were little black lines in some of the prints.  I looked at the remaining filament that came loosely coiled (I also have a spool but havent used it yet) and there were short regions with little black flecks inside the PLA (not noticeable until I looked closely).  I didn't see any in the earlier prints and it's not consistent along the filament - just some little patches.

Overall it's a neat little printer.  Lots of little design decisions I like - lots of room for improvements and customization.  For the price I think it would be hard to pass up as something fun to build and as an opportunity to get your fingers wet with 3d printing.  It's going to take someone new a bit of effort to research how to troubleshoot and optimise but to me there is far more value in learning something along the way.  (There's nothing wrong with a highly refined (and higher cost) product - but things like this serve a very different niche and the two aren't really comparable).  Get something like this into the hands of kids or adults that want to do something different and much fun will be had and new skill gained.