The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Work stuff

| March 29, 2010

So, work decided to radically change the terms under which everyone is employed. Between that and our new and improved corporate strategy, they’re basically facing an exodus of engineers/support/etc. folks.

So, if you know of anything for which I’d be qualified, let me know.

The sad thing is, this is probably the best job I’ve had since when I was doing firmware at Atlantek.

Cold Wars Wrap-Up post

| March 27, 2010

I’ve been too busy painting minis and working on stuff to post the last set of pictures until now. Anyway, here are my painting notes from cold wars, and here are the remaining photos:

Customer service – a study in contrasts

| March 27, 2010

One of the things which has come to the forefront in business recently is a resurgence in quality customer service. With the rise of the internet, customer service becomes even more important, because people have quite a far-reaching soapbox these days. Further, people are likely to use that soapbox when they have a bad experience – less so when they have good ones.

Case in point – the fellow behind the United Breaks Guitars music videos is estimated to have cost United Airlines $180 million. Aside from the fact that they shouldn’t have broken his guitar in the first place, they should have made it right when they did. It’s simple:

  • Acknowledge when you screw up.
  • Make it right.

There are several companies with which I’ve recently had dealings who do this very well. As such, they have me as a repeat customer, and I am blogging about it here:

  • Indie Press Revolution – They had some shipping problems awhile back. They sent out an email telling people of the issues, apologizing, and explaining. I believe they even offered some store credit or free shipping or something. Keeps people in the loop, offer some recompense for it.
  • Carnivore Games – I pre-ordered The Unexplained in hardcover. When it arrived, it was in softcover. However, contained in the package was a letter from Brad (author and owner) explaining his troubles with the printer, and explaining that this is the reason for the delay. In an attempt to make it up to his customers, he enclosed a copy of the Ghosts of the Lady Grace adventure.
  • SodaStream – We ordered some extra bottles for the unit. After several weeks, they had not arrived. Liz emailed them, they apologized, and immediately shipped out the order. We had it two days later.
  • CoffeeAM – I placed an order. After several weeks, it had not arrived. I emailed them. They apologized, explained that they had been moving offices and my order must have been lost in the shuffle. They processed it the next day and I had it a couple days later. They also included a couple half-pound samples of free coffee for the inconvenience.
  • FineArtStore – I ordered a box for my brushes. The box I received was not the one I ordered, but all the numbers matched up. I emailed them. They replied and explained that it was one which they were substituting as they are out of stock on the first one. If I don’t like the style, they will ship me a replacement (in the original style) when they come back in stock in a couple of weeks, and will enclose a prepaid shipping label so I can ship the old one back to them.

This is the way to do it folks.

Cold wars report

| March 12, 2010

I haven’t been blogging much, because I’ve been keeping pretty busy. High points so far:

  • Played in a 5150 (by Two Hour Wargames) game. As the name suggests, it is a pretty quick system, but I’d argue that it was only so quick because half the people knew how to play, and it is very bloody. We played two games in two hours. The mechanic which makes it so bloody is that every time you take fire, you roll a check. If you pass, you get to return fire… and then the other guy gets to make the same check. This continues until someone routs, runs out of ammo, dies, or fails the check. The system is about as complex as battletech or 40k, which is acceptable for most folks, but I’m not really interested in picking up another set of reasonably complex rules unless they really speak to me. These don’t.
  • As always, there’s lots of stuff in the dealer’s area, including a few lines of 15mm modern. I’m finding I like the smaller scales as opposed to the large ones. For fantasy or small squad or team-based games, 15-30mm is nice. However, when doing armies, the ground scale gets stupid (my 6″ long tank can only shoot 48″!!!) and the armies get expensive. I think it’s better to buy 15mm figures, base them individually, and just play with the 25mm scale rules. For smaller stuff (6mm), base in groups and run like that.
  • I also found some guys selling micro armor for about $1 per mini, new, which is considerably less than GHQ. The quality seems decent too, but the modern selection seems limited to US and Russian. However, since SO many countries use Russian equipment, this is not as bad as it sounds.
  • I also spent some time with the bored people at the painting university (well, I shouldn’t say bored per se – they were painting or otherwise working on things, but they weren’t teaching them). A very nice lady named Dorothy from [http://www.thewarstore.com/ The War Store] sat with me for about an hour, and cleared up a lot of what I’ve been doing wrong all these years.
    • There is a DEMONSTRABLE difference between cheap brushes and good brushes. Good brushes end up being more expensive, but they last longer, so it is a wash in the end.
    • There is also a similar difference between paints. Craft paints work well at the thicknesses at which they come, maybe a little thinner. However, the size of the individual bits of pigment is quite large, so they end up not thinning out as well – they get chunky and grainy.
    • Liz and I quickly realized the above things (quality mattering) when it comes to house paint – I don’t know why we thought differently when it came to model paint.
    • Gloss paints seal the model, so that will TOTALLY mess up any washes you’re trying to do.
    • She also introduced me to a wonderful idea, the wet palette. The idea is that it is a plastic box, with a wet sponge in the bottom, and a special paper (somewhat like wax paper or butcher paper) above that. Paints go on the paper, and the sponge keeps it moist for hours. Seal up the box, and it will last for days or weeks – no more mixing a color only to have it dry out too fast!

And now, some pictures…