Well… it’s certainly been a year. At least it never felt like three months flashed by without warning.

Financially, I’m probably a bit behind where I started. Which is a shame, since most of the year things were improving for me. On the other hand, I’ve made three major electronics purchases, and I shouldn’t need to do that again any time soon. Back in January, I built Erza, my new desktop machine. That was more trouble-prone than I expected, and there were a few months of teething issues, but it’s settled down now, and is doing very well. The only loose ends are someday getting a better video card, and expanding the RAM further.

Mid-year I bought a new NAS as a house file-server. The one we had had filled up some time back, and I wanted something better than the ‘NAS of very little brain’ that we had. Luckily, I found an older WD model that had been sitting at Central Computer for years, and was heavily discounted. The bad news was that WD considers its warranty to have expired while sitting on the shelf, and the old NAS started failing a week before I was ready. But I salvaged almost everything, and storage is currently twice what it was, and is expandable from there. I hope to buy a 4TB drive for it this year, and use the current pair of 2TB drives (one is backing up the other) as a backup to it, doubling storage again.

Both of those were actually bought out of pocket, so it was the third that drove up the credit card. Azuna has been struggling this year, and I had to buy a replacement Type Keyboard last year and a power adapter for her early this year. The battery was not lasting as long, and was having trouble with charging… and then around September the touch screen started acting up. It would show a line of five touches constantly hitting it in a line across the screen, which would do all sorts of bad things to programs running, and interfered with actually using the touch screen. So, it was time for a replacement. Microsoft had a $300-off deal for a new Surface Pro 6 on Black Friday, and considering that I needed a replacement, I really couldn’t afford not to take it. So, now I have Sakura, which cost me less than Azuna did. I’m still getting used to the 3:2 screen, and seeing just what she can do, but so far so good, and I hope Microsoft has gotten better with their touch screens.

Sadly, gaming wasn’t much better this year than last. We had one group day in January, and Jason made it over for a couple of games around May (finally tried out Der Weltkrieg, which I definitely liked enough to want to try more, and I nearly went out and impulse bought a second game in the series). Patch made it over a couple of times in December, which was very nice, and I hope I’ll see a bit more of him during the new year. I spent around $250 on gaming this year, including transferring part of my old ASL set to Mark, and finally getting a copy of Armies of Oblivion (by far the single biggest-ticket item), which gets me all the WWII core sets (I am looking at getting the Korea module at some point). I also have a couple more things on preorder that I expect this year, and am in the final internal debate on whether to get Red Factories, which is about to come out. My F&E game continued to monopolize a lot of spare time, but has now been bumped down to low-priority, and I’m in one PBEM ASL game, and hope to have more this year.

My Dad and I started a weekly computer game night last year, and we were enjoying FreeOrion together (still recommended), but it’s not so good on networking, so we used a third party to tie us together for the game. And then that died on us early this year, and I couldn’t get a replacement service to work. I then got into Stellaris when it went on sale, and talked my Dad into trying that. He was hooked, and we’ve moved over to that for our Friday nights. I also got an urge for some of our older console stuff during mid-year, and actually finished Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy Chronicles: Ring of Fates. The handheld stuff is on hold at the moment as it was interfering with reading time too much, and I’m currently busy with clipping counters in the time slot that should be Kingdom Hearts II, but I should start that soonish.

Smudge also got us back into FF XIV right around the turn of the year, and we’ve been adventuring in Eorzea ever since. I’ve been taking advantage of screenshoting, and have gone from no images from the game (and of my main, Rylea, who I really liked) to having nearly 700 images saved off…. I’ve been posting some of them in weekly summaries, and in occasional blog posts about what we’ve been doing.

The blog itself stayed on schedule this year, with only a few places where it was a fight to have something out, though I never got ahead of schedule. If I can get to writing several book reviews, I should have a pretty good backlog built up soon. This year I had 93 posts, and category count was: 43 in Books, 11 in Konya wa Hurricane, 9 in MMO, 6 in C&C Ancients, 5 each in Boardgaming, Computer Games, 4 in Anime, ASL, and 2 in Life, GURPS, SFB. This is the same as last year, but the counts have shifted around a bit. Folding up the subcategories gives 28 in Boardgaming, 14 in Computer Games, and 2 in RPGs. Once again, I need to get around to splitting up the Books category. I didn’t manage any RPG posts other than some more spells for GURPS Dungeons & Sorcery, and I don’t know if that’ll change at all this year. I did get the Paradox review project moving a bit after two years, but I’m currently stalled most of the way through the CK II review. It’s massive, and I hope I can finish it off soon. Boardgaming is down because of the FtF problems… and I really hope that gets better.

I exactly made my reading goal of 52 books again this year, though it took a fair amount of effort after I got way behind in mid-year. Some of it was falling off the comics bandwagon and not really getting any new graphic novels this year. Some of it was some large, slow-moving books. It’s hard to say what my top recommendations for the year are; there was not a lot of standouts. The entire Designers & Dragons series is very good, though I enjoyed the earlier volumes more, Kiln People ended up better than I expected, On a Red Station Drifting lived up to the good review I’d seen of it. The obvious ones (sequels, authors I’ve read a lot of) also lived up to expectations: Penric’s Demon was quite good, The Wavering of Haruhi Suzumiya was fun, Oath of Fealty was a good start of a sequel series to Paksenarrion, and better than the two prequels…. On the other hand, I had a fair number of serious disappointments: The Rise and Fall of Alexandria was much lighter than I was expecting, and riddled with obvious errors. A World Lit Only By Fire was a problematic screed, saved when the author talked about his hero, Magellan. Ornament of the World was also a lot lighter than I was hoping for; still good on the literary study end, but I wanted more of the history outside that. Red Mars was a book that stalled me for a bit, as I didn’t care for about half the characters.

So, going forward, more of the same at the blog here, and I need to start writing up some book reviews before they fade much more in my memory. I’m still trying to figure out how to absorb new books and games and other items I got for Christmas and during my yearly visit to my parent’s into my overcrowded place. Hopefully, I can actually recover some financially this year, but with all-new electronics on my part, that’s one source of expenses down.