Friday, July 29, 2016

Windows 10 Upgrade

With Microsoft's generous offer of a free upgrade to Windows 10 ending on July 29, I cast my lot with those tempting the fate of their computer's health and well being.  Having received countless dunning messages from Microsoft's self-planted Windows 10 Upgrade icon over that last several months and jeers from my wife for having successfully installed WIN10 on her new work machine, I clinched my teeth and dug in.

Having a laptop of 2009 vintage, I wondered if the old machine would even be compatible to the new OS.  Microsoft's preliminary assessment suggested all would be well and I was ready to proceed.  Before proceeding with the task at hand, I pondered the rationale for Microsoft's so generous gift of providing the latest OS for free.  Very good question.  My conclusion?  Microsoft is much behind the curve in the quest to harvest ALL data in existence.  Offering a free upgrade allows the embedding of the tools necessary for such ventures.

Major upgrades rarely proceed flawlessly and the WIN10 upgrade was no exception.  First attempt at upgrade launched from the desktop icon provided by Microsoft (did I mention this upgrade icon was downloaded in a WIN7 update unbeknownst to me?) failed as the upgrade screen sat inert for hours without any indication of progress.  Scratch Attempt #1.  Second attempt relied on a link provided by Microsoft Support.  Launched Attempt #2 and it progressed to 99% and then remained at that state overnight.  Next morning, the screen still showed 99% complete.  Scratch Attempt #2.  I hard booted the laptop and tried again.

On the third attempt, I unplugged the external HD and the Garmin.  After reaching the 99% completed screen and lingering at that state for two more hours, my confidence was low.  However, after several hours, processing kicked off and the installation began.  Finally, Windows 10 came up on my screen.  Success! 
After rummaging around, almost all of the old applications still functioned but performance was sluggish.  A quick search identified remedies to try.  Turning off much of the data harvesting, Cortana, indexing features, and other annoyances, the laptop seems to be running smoothly.  Becoming at ease with the new OS will take time.  Time will tell.  For now, all looks well.

My thoughts on Microsoft's generosity?  An anniversary update of WIN10 is due August 2.  One rumored feature of the upgrade is that Cortana and some of the data harvest programs will be more difficult (if not impossible) to disable.  To get user commitment, WIN10 is offered for free until July 29 only days before the anniversary upgrade.  Of course, this is all speculation on my part.

Those are two days I will never get back...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Painting Analytics First Half 2016

With the first half of 2016 in the books, time to assess my progress on reducing The Lead Pile while making progress towards my 2016 project goals.

What goals did I set for myself at the beginning of the year?  Let me recap those Top 5 goals set out for 2016:
  • Reduce The Lead Pile for Second Italian War of Independence (1859) project in 15mm
  • Reduce The Lead Pile for 1799 Suvorov in Italy and Switzerland project in 18mm
  • Add to Great Italian Wars project in 28mm
  • More gaming including first game using the 1799 collection
  • Reduce The Lead Pile for 18mm SYW and 15mm Samurai Battles projects (100 figures each)
Six months in, how is it going?

Looking at the unadjusted figures counts nearly 78% of first-half output has been concentrated on the three projects identified in the 2016 painting goals.  The Top Three are:
  1. 15mm 1859 project -  176 figures; 29.4%.
  2. 18mm 1799 project - 206 figures; 343.5%
  3. 25mm Great Italian Wars project - 84 figures; 14.1%.
Rounding out the Top Five eras are the 25mm Great Game project with 36 figures and the 28mm Peninsular War project showing a count of 33 figures.  Thus far, the painting actuals are aligning closely to the painting goals.  That is why we make goals and objectives, right?
Unadjusted Painted Figure Count by Era
Switching over from painted figure count to painting points,the Top 4 eras are:
  1. 18mm 1799 Suvorov in Italy and Switzerland with 568pp (24.63%)
  2. 28mm Great Italian Wars project with 515pp (22.33%)
  3. 15mm 1859 Project with 380pp (16.48%)
  4. 25mm 19th Century Great Game project with 360pp (15.61%)
Adjusted Painted Figure Count by Era
Looking at painting productivity over time (these are my favorite graphics), my 2016 painting goal of producing 1,000 painted figures appears to be on track.  With summer weather and upcoming vacation plans, activity at the painting desk may see a decline until early fall.  We will see... 
Unadjusted Painted Figure Count by Year by Era

Adjusted Painted Figure Count by Year by Era
While a general sense of 2016 productivity can be gleaned from the yearly painting productivity  graphs, breaking painting down by month presents a more informative picture.  From the graph below, the 1859 and 1799 projects showed good consistency across the first six months of the year.  The Great Game and Great Italian Wars projects experienced pockets of activity within those six months.  The Great Game project seems to have nudged its way into the painting queue on a regular basis.  As shown a few days ago, a third infantry battalion mustered into service in July.
Adjusted Painted Figure Count by Month by Era
While three of the five 2016 goals are seeing good progress, Goals 4 and 5 are lagging.  Game scheduling has been tough thus far.  Although, I managed three games in April alone, not much action on the gaming table either before or since.  Even the 10mm ACW Brawner's Farm scenario laid out on the gaming table has seen no action.  I really need to work on that goal.  Fielding a 1799 game as planned is definitely within my grasp.  Bringing up the rear is the goal to field 100 figures in each of the 18mm SYW and 15mm Samurai Battles projects.  With almost half of 2016 remaining, still time to make process corrections and get those goals back into control. 

Back to the brushes!

Monday, July 25, 2016

State of the Painting Desk

Having finally returned home after a week away for work, I find the painting desk exactly as left.  That is, several projects in work.  After I catch up on a few household chores, hopefully, I can get back to the painting desk.

What lurks on the painting desk today?  Well, I real mish-mash of projects are posed on the desk.  The figures in work comprise:
  • 2 x 25mm Russian limbers and teams for the 19th Century Great Game project.  Each limber has four horses, limber, and two outriders.
  • 1 x Sikh gun and four crew for the 19th Century Great Game project.
  • 2 x Mounted knights as a command group for the 28mm Reconquista project.
  • 2 x Mounted officers as a command group for the 28mm Great Italian Wars project.
  • 5 x 28mm U.S.A Rocketmen by Bob Murch. What?  I surprised myself by pulling them from The Lead Pile!  Very cool models and a blast to paint.
After the desk is cleared from these items, focus likely returns to either the 15mm 1859 or 18mm 1799 projects but who knows?

Still in work is a recap of painting analytics covering the first half of 2016 and a replay of the Battle of Brawner's Farm.  Seems summertime weather is drawing my attention away from the hobby.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mid-19th Century Russians for Great Game

A third battalion of Russian line infantry march off the painting desk to mobilize for the 19th Century Great Game project.  
Battalion is composed of 22 foot and one mounted officer.  Figures are from Wargames Foundry's excellent Crimean War range.  Infantry wear a mix of helmet and cap.  As seen from the photos, a number of the infantry in helmet have suffered bayonet breakage.  Interestingly, no fatigue cap soldiers suffered bayonet damage.   
Wearing the ubiquitous Russian greatcoat, these Russian foot sloggers paint quickly and take the Minwax stain very well.  While a large battalion such as this is not my preferred battalion size in 28mm, it is always enjoyable to put paint to these terrific figures.  Once completed, a battalion of this size is very enjoyable to see on the gaming table.  Enough figures to field one more Russian battalion await in The Lead Pile.
What's in the painting queue for the project?  Two Russian limbers and teams are on the painting desk as well as two native guns and crew await in the painting queue.  Native guns and crew take the form of one native Sikh gun and one Afghan gun and crew.  
With three Russian infantry battalions, six Russian cavalry squadrons, two Russian guns, four native infantry battalions, and four native cavalry squadrons, the Russian contingents are ready to challenge the British in the Great Game.    

Monday, July 18, 2016

Parade Ground: Great Italian Wars Project

Having several requests to troop the 28mm Great Italian Wars project out for a Pass-in-Review, following is a photo op of the state of this interesting project.  Work on a fairly large pile of unpainted lead remains to be tackled but must be prioritized.  Mustering the troops onto the parade ground is a practical tool in making an assessment on progress made and guiding the direction for future work.
Project Group Photo
The photo above and the two photos below illustrate the current state of the project in group photos.  With Impetvs as the basis for basing, the units mustered, thus far, include:
  • 4 stands mounted gendarmes
  • 2 stands Stradiots
  • 1 stand mounted archers
  • 4 Pike squares 
  • 2 stands 'T' arquebus
  • 2 stands 'S' arquebus
  • 3 stands Artillery
Figures are drawn from Wargames Foundry, Perry Miniatures, Old Glory, and The Assault Group
Project Group Photo
Project Group Photo
Given the overview of the project, what does the project need in order to create a more well-rounded army that could be fielded as more than one Impetvs force?  When will these fine lads see action in their first action?

Now, for two handfuls of photos of the troops.  

Friday, July 15, 2016

Seeing the Elephant

Work on this project has virtually ground to a halt after having painted sufficient forces to field two armies for Impetvs.  Project hiatus has not dampened my longing to field an elephant or two for my 28mm Punic Wars project.  If you plan a Punic Wars project, elephants must be included, right?  Well, I finally took advantage of a weakening British Pound and placed an order with Aventine Miniatures for two elephants and crew.
The Aventine ellie is a magnificent beast.  The crew must be ordered separately, however.  Aventine offers two poses for the elephants and several combinations of crew.  When assembled, the model is a visual treat.
Accompanying the Aventine elephant and crew are three runners wielding javelin.  The javelin men are Libyans from Renegade Miniatures.  Having a handful of the Libyan skirmishers left over, I figured they would make good companions to the elephant and crew. 
The composition as a whole works well with Impetvs basing on a frontage of 120mm and depth of 80mm.  A second model remains in The Lead Pile to be added at a later date.  I look forward to fielding this model on the field of battle.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Improve Photos with a Light Box

DEEP light box as assembled
After struggling for years with various schemes to get consistent photos of finished figures, my troubles were eased with a Christmas gift.  That gift was a photo light box made by DEEP.
Light box assembled showing front camera aperture.
Now, among the many trials of producing good quality images, one such attempt was to make my own light box.  That Mark I version was constructed from white foam core and illuminated either from the front or top.  The light on top was a small ordinary desk lamp perched precariously on the top of the box.  A hole cut in the top fit the light cylinder such that the fixture would fit into the light box and shine into the box interior.  Not an optimal solution!
Frame with tent unzipped and removed
The DEEP light box measures 24" x 24" x 24" with a metal and plastic frame covered by a reflective,  zippered tent.  The light box assembles easily.  Two LED light bars (having 60 LEDs each) are attached to the top of the frame by small screws.  The kit comes with three different background boards that can be quickly swapped out and a handy carrying case.
Two LED light bars attached to top face
Photos can be taken from either the front or top.  With a two foot square photo space, this device can accommodate large groups of figures.

After having regularly used the DEEP light box for more than six months, what are my impressions?  This photo tent is easy to assemble and easy to use.  While the DEEP photo box has not improved my brushwork, it has improved my figure photography.  Consistent results can now be produced without relying on much trial and error.  A terrific product that I wish had been on my Wish List sooner. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Great Italian Wars Command

While the current version of Impetvs does not require independent command stands, still, I enjoy fielding a command stand and attaching it to its integral unit.  This visual attachment helps remind me to which unit receives the commander's benefits.  Given that Impetvs Baroque introduced separate command stands, I expect the next release of Impetvs to follow suit.
Given both of the these very good reasons to field commanders for the Great Italian Wars project, off the painting desk trots a two figure stand of mounted commander and aide.  This pair of mounted dandies is from Wargames Foundry's Renaissance range.  Both mounted figures are striking sculpts and a pleasure to paint.  Rummaging through The Lead Pile finds two more similar figures from this range.  Since the project could easily absorb a third pair of mounted command, I will add them into the painting queue.

Having filled two large boxes with painted figures for this project, time to set them out for a group photo.  That event must wait until I clear off the back half of the game table.  Group photo soon, though.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

AB Austrian 3rd Dragoon Rgt in Bicorne

Continuing on from the French hussars for the 1799 project, off the desk is a dozen Austrian dragoons.  These dragoons are kitted out as the 3rd Dragoon Regiment still wearing their increasingly, old fashioned bicornes.
The 3rd Dragoons are AB Miniatures from the Austrian Revolutionary Wars range and have quickly become one of my favorite sculpts.  Such crisp and fine detail.  Marvelous figures!
After photographing both the hussars and dragoons and placing them in their storage box, I discovered an error.  To my despair, I found that I mounted these cavalry on the wrong size base.  I know, I should measure twice and base once.  Unfortunately, confusion arose after basing cavalry for the 1859 project.  One uses 40mm x 30mm stands while I have opted for 1.5 inch squares for the 1799 project.  Rework!  Most unpleasant.  Still, better than the time I dullcoated  24 15mm French infantry with flat black.  Took years to recover from that episode.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

French 1st Hussars for 1799 Project

After having seen four out of the last five units pushed across the painting desk in the 25/28mm category, activity returns to 15/18mm figures generally and the 1799 project specifically.
Figures are French hussars from Lancashire Games' 15mm French Revolutionary Range.  These troopers are kitted out as the 1st Hussar Regiment in their light blue dolman, pelisse, and breeches.  Wearing a mirliton wrapped in red flambe with red over green plume plume,  these sharply dressed troopers are ready to impress.
As other Lancashire 15mm figures, the cavalry contain only a single pose and no command.  I wonder if command will be forthcoming?  Command would be a welcome addition although too late for these fine chaps.  Besides lack of cavalry command, one other minor complaint is the trooper's base.  Base is very narrow making standing upright until the glue sets a precarious proposition.  In the end, all is well and these fine fellows await their first battle.
Soon to join the French hussars for the project will be a third regiment of Austrian dragoons in bicorne.