Painted Goblins

It has been a long time since I painted any miniatures. Over five years to tell the truth. In that time I’ve moved several times, including living abroad and teaching English again. Now I’ve finally passed all three CFA® exams and am living in Calgary again…

It has been a long time since I painted any miniatures. Over five years to tell the truth. In that time I’ve moved several times, including living abroad and teaching English again. Now I’ve finally passed all three CFA® exams and am living in Calgary again.

My paints and models have been in storage even longer than five years. Many of my paints have dried out but some I bought back in the 90s still work and I painted some vintage plastic goblins from the Warhammer 4th Edition boxset to prove I still can.

No they are not my best work. Yes I spent too much time on them for rank and file spearmen for an army I don’t even have the current rules for. No I don’t have any plans to play Warhammer. Yes I have 59 more identically posed models that need at least some touch ups. No I didn’t do the bases. Yes I plan to base them to match the archers. No I don’t have all my basing and terrain making materials in Calgary. Yes they’ll get shields eventually.Almost Finished Goblin Spearman

The next thing I’ll probably paint is more of these exact same goblins, not because I’m under any delusions I’ll have the unit of 66 done anytime soon, but because they are already primed and base coated badly. I also want to get a bit more efficient. One of my all-time favourite green pots, Bilious Green has died. This will affect all my green Diseased Sons. It will also affect my green skin painting technique but I apparently already bought a replacement from another range. My Citadel browns fared even worse, the twist off bolter shell pots are the worst GW ever made. I still have more paint than I need to paint average rank and file models, most people probably would have been happy with the speed paint job, but I want at least the first couple ranks to be highlighted.

After more goblins I’ll probably get to painting other models that were put away partly painted all those years ago. My “ta-do” list includes a number of models that were converted and primed years ago. I’m not even sure all of them are still armed legally. Flamers and Heavy Flamers seem to no longer be in the Nurgle I mean Death Guard Codex.

Yes I have the latest book. I bought it Shanghai. I’ve also bought Kill Team and Warcry because I think skirmish games are more realistic from a painting and apartment dweller point of view. I haven’t played 40K in years. I have put a lot of work into my army and my decision years ago to paint my models various colours has made it even more work to update the army. At the least I may update the green squads without Bilious Green kneepads. I also may do a purple Plague Marine squad but I’m not sure I need the brown or grey squads any time soon. I think doing a new squad from scratch may be less work.My miniatures in an Ikea display case

My envisioned army will have Nurglings both because the rules may have gotten better and because it was an old idea I never finished. I also think Nurglings are the perfect models to re-learn to paint on. I like the fact Nurgle got unique Fast Attack so some of those models will be bought and painted. After that my next priority will be the new HQ and Elite models. Terminators may not be the greatest but I have a lot of them already painted and they are at least hard to kill, so a squad or two maybe even my Landraider will feature in my army list if I ever play again.

My undivided and other Chaos Space Marines may get some love. I plan to focus on Nurgle but my army may not always be Battle Forged as I want Nurglings. I also may even paint yet more Plaguebearers but I’m less enthused about them in 40K as I think guns are good. I think I need to paint one more Khorne Bezerker but may paint a couple so I have some options for that squad. Some Khorne Terminators could be bought and converted as the one I have is also lonely. I will also paint some vehicles, a dreadnought neigh Hellbrute for sure and probably yet another Forgeworld model I acquired years ago.

If I get through all that maybe I’ll work on 40K Orks or even my WWI dream army or any number of other models I’ve acquired over the years. I may even sell or trade away a bunch of models as the likelihood of me painting say 40-50 more space marines, even Chaos Space Marines is low. I can see me doing my Necromunda gang finally maybe even some other Necro figs as I have plenty. I will use some as Chaos cultists but painting hordes is not that appealing except of Nurglings. Ultimately I’d like to paint a centrepiece model if not a Titan then at least a Superheavy tank or a flyer.

Before I do all that I had to get everything out of storage, glue a lot of models back together and I upgraded my Ikea display case. After that I ordered a painting tray as my current apartment although not small does not have a dedicated painting desk or table. I don’t even have a kitchen table I can commandeer. What I do have is an old Ikea desk which I am using for my laptop and then I put that away and get out my Miniature Scenery painting station.Miniature Scenery Painting Workstation
Bill already said I should have recorded a video of building it. I also built a third one of their shelves which I’d bought years ago. I think I have even more of their stuff and you can get some of it from another website and not have to pay shipping from Australia. I bought most of it through Darren’s store if my memory serves correct. I asked Sentry Box if they had any painting stations and they did not nor did they seem to want to help me order one in so I bought it online.

The other store I have bought at least one model at because it was their anniversary is the GW in Chinook Centre. I’ve liked both on Facebook. I will probably share this post on Facebook and I already put an image of a goblin on Instagram. I still prefer Flickr and Twitter but I’ll be selective about tweeting hobby stuff but all my finished models will be photographed with my “bigger” camera and uploaded to this album.

I am not crazy over the latest version of WordPress. I had to change the theme of this blog to support the latest internet standards and I have switched to a fatter image header. This blog does not do well in search engines and never has. Many people have given up on blogging, they vlog or podcast or just share their work in private Facebook groups or on Instagram where you need to paste a paragraph of hashtags after every post.

My plan is to actually go through every post on this blog just like I did on my main blog. I plan to reduce the number of categories as experts say each post should be in a single category and that you should have 5-8 categories in total. You can of course also use tags but those too need to be optimized for search engines and 3 per post is considered plenty. So I will try to follow this expert advice not because I want to be popular but because I think Quality is important. I also may edit out any posts that are too personal. I actually updated all the hand-coded HTML that makes up the website for my Nurgle army, but I haven’t edited and optimized every webpage I own yet so this one is next.

Maybe no one will notice but if I use enough hashtags and share it on social media I’m sure someone will read all the way to the bottom and leave a comment.

The Finest Miniature Painting News

The miniature painting news aggregator I created is running pretty well, hopefully others find it useful and that it runs with few issues for many, many, years. I’m waiting for one key software fix and will keep looking for more high quality feeds.

I’ve spent yet more time fine tuning my miniature painting news aggregator. Time I probably could have used more productively. I tend to put a lot of time and effort into ‘side projects’. Side projects that don’t earn income or help solve any of my problems.

The first week or so was spent wrestling with PHP, particularly with SimplePie and other related code. I still have an outstanding issue with that codebase that no one seems to want to acknowledge or suggest a solution for. I definitely did not want to become an expert in PHP, RSS, and Atom feeds.

I also spent way too much time gathering more RSS and Atom feeds. I originally just used the blogs I subscribed to, but FtW Ron had visions of 100s if not a thousand blog feeds being aggregated and merged together. It was while building that, that I discovered the issue with merging multiple blogspot feeds. I don’t know why people particularly in the miniature painting hobby have stuck with blogspot and continue to create more Blogger blogs when so many other free options exist.

The hobby is much more commercial than it was 15 years ago, back then everyone was a hobbyist except a few people who worked for one of a few miniature companies. Now there are many, many mini manufactures, many online stores, professional miniature painters, professional miniature sculptures, and numerous semi-pro hobbyists who supplement their income through their website and the hobby. I’ve always avoided going down that route, but I don’t really feel qualified to give career advice, given the mess I’ve made of mine. I’ve tried to keep the miniature painting news aggregator non-commercial, but maybe I’ll finally breakdown and put an ad on one of my ‘side projects’. I’ve also chosen to focus on miniature painting rather than a specific manufacture or game system, just like I tried to do with this blog. Focus can be difficult to maintain.

The miniature painting news aggregator looks and operates a lot like AllTop. That isn’t a coincidence. AllTop is one of the more successful news aggregation sites. My aggregator is much more specialized, even personalized. It is random, deterministic, algorithmic, chronological, and social. It sources information from Internet darlings like Twitter and Pinterest. You can pin, tweet, or like the featured story/photo. Information is pulled from major hobby sites like Tabletop Gaming News, Beasts of War, and Cool Mini Or Not. News is also pulled from an eclectic collection of smaller hobby blogs and websites. Information is also found by search agents, such as the YouTube painting tutorials, but other less mainstream search engines are used like Topsy. I even added Reddit’s miniature painting section.

I’ll try to continue to ensure it runs OK, I don’t think it’ll ever be fast unless I reduce the amount of content or do something else drastic. I’ll try out new feeds and I hope sites like Chest of Colors fixes one of their feeds, but mainly it should just be there for bored hobbyists who want to see cool stuff. Checking more than hourly will be futile, but hopefully it can become a useful tool for finding cool miniature painting news online.

Better Hobby Blogging

A lot of hobby blogs exist most aren’t really worth reading on a regular basis and a lot of it comes down to laziness and lack of quality control.

I’ve been spending too much time online. This isn’t news, but what I’ve been doing a lot of lately is scouring the Internet for RSS and Atom feeds to pass into the miniature painting news aggregator I made. I could mention again how I think Blogger is inferior to WordPress or how not all feeds are created equal and not all behave as you’d expect them to, but what I really thought I’d write about is how a lot of hobby blogs don’t produce very consistent or high quality content. Revised miniature painting news aggregator

Ron is relaunching the From the Warp blogger group, but he is still using the exact same technology that ultimately let him down. He’s trying to be more selective as to which blogs he includes. There are a lot of these ‘blog networks’ now. Many bloggers seem to be a member of them all and rely on them to send readers there way. I’ve been reading the headlines and opening paragraphs of a lot of blogs both on FtW but also from the TGN Blogging Network and I’ve noticed a lot of poorly named blogs, poorly chosen post tiles, and a lot of low quality content.

I never set out to make a miniature painting news aggregator. I never set out to write PHP, but I have time on my hands so I try to do something with my education. I never wanted to curate yet more miniature painting information, but I’m disappointed with a few sites and the technology they use. I tried to find technology that would help me find quality content and feeds. I really don’t want to scrape content, so sites without valid feeds or an API will just not be part of what I continue to build, but for those hobbyists that do want more readers/followers there is a lot of things they could be doing that doesn’t involve switching from Blogger to WordPress.

First of all I understand people have limited time to devote to the hobby or to painting miniatures and people have their own favourite websites or forums that they frequent. My miniatures and paints are all in boxes in storage and I haven’t played a game of Warhammer 40,000 or anything that uses miniatures in about a year. However if you have time to blog, you have time to blog better. If you have time to post pictures to the Internet you have time to ensure those pictures are sorted, titled, and tagged intelligently. If you have time to comment on multiple blogs and forums and social networks, you have time to do something intelligent and useful with all that content and energy.

Cool Mini Or Not supposedly has the largest collection of painted miniatures online, but there is no way to subscribe to feeds of say the top minis submitted that week. There also is a lot unpainted or poorly painted miniatures so I don’t always find the coolest stuff by looking at random images on CMoN. I’m also interested in how things are done, not just seeing a high resolution picture of the final model. CMoN is definitely an online store now and I don’t find their site the best use of my limited hobby time. Dakka Dakka and Warseer both have galleries, Dakka Dakka had an RSS feed I thought would give me pictures of new and cool miniatures but it has proved erratic and disappointing. Warseer is not a personal favourite of mine, I’d prefer more hobbyists posted their completed miniatures to Flickr. I’ve also discovered that aggregation isn’t enough, a certain amount of curation and quality control is necessary to produce the best results.

Tumblr was a big disappointment as far as finding cool miniature painting content. Facebook is a mostly closed network, so Twitter particularly #miniaturemonday has proven much more useful. I’ve even decided to join Pinterest to see if I can use that site to build a better curated collection of cool minis. I asked several people for suggestions as to what feeds to include and basically no one could be bothered to make any useful suggestions so more and more of my own personal preferences and biases are being reflected in the miniature painting news aggregator. Other news aggregators of course exist, PopURLs is mentioned by Ryan, but I’m more familiar with AllTop due to being something of a Guy Kawasaki fan. There is an AllTop for board games and RPGs but not for wargaming or miniature painting.

Maybe my efforts will be all for not, but given the increasing emphasis on curation and all the time and effort I’ve invested into the hobby over the years and finding quality hobby content online I don’t think it is the easiest problem to solve, there isn’t one site right now that has all the coolest miniature painting stuff in one place, I guess that is what I’m building.

I tend to write long rambling posts with lots of information and links. However I am capable of writing high quality content that performs well in search engines or in social media. I started this blog so I could join the FtW blog network or just to de-complicate my original blog. Musk’s Miniatures definitely isn’t perfect or the best example of a high quality blog, however given that some people try to earn a living or augment their income from the hobby, I just know I’m going to get whiny emails someday asking why their blog isn’t included or featured, the short answer is “your blog sucks” or perhaps more eloquently your content just isn’t unique or interesting to me. Since I’m building and curating the website it definitely reflects my preferences but it is also incorporates algorithms and social media so other people’s preferences have influence. How Alltop works, is how my miniature painting news aggregator works.

I’ve written a lot of blog postings trying to pass on my experience and knowledge, here is advice on how to improve your hobby blog:

Others have written often conflicting advice to mine, but the goal is the same, if you want people to read what you write, whether it is about a hobby or some other interest, you have to work at it and you have to make a commitment to Quality. There are too many blogs and websites competing for our time and attention. Too many of them do not maintain a respectable wheat to chaff ratio. I’d rather read one awesome post a month, than 3 or 4 crappy posts a week. If you adopt the latter publishing strategy, I’m unlikely to subscribe to your RSS feed, I’m definitely not including your blog in my blog roll or the miniature painting news aggregator I just built, you won’t see many comments or hits, and long term your inferior content will not perform well in search engines or in social media. 100s of people a day still read hobby content I put online ten plus years ago, but I’ve also written content that no one reads, probably less than one person in a hundred days. Which do you think was a better investment of my time, which do you think was of higher quality as judged by search engines, my peers, and random websurfers?

The purity of the thread can not be compromised!

Never mind that it was all in fun on a little forum no one really cares about. Never mind that I was talking to Carmin a few hours ago. I don’t need to post online. My life goes on whether I type crap in a blog or a forum or not. I’ve had enough. Zac seems to think thread hijacking is a crime against humanity. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and it is his forum.  I have nothing against him, but I’ve lived my life. I’ve suffered, really truly suffered, and in order to continue to survive, I just can’t get involved in drama, especially not online internet drama.

Color me gone from VancouverGamers.com forever. Life is harsh, I know. It is just a hobby. If you can’t see that or see the humor even with the smiley face, well… The internet is a big place I’ll just go hang out on the B&C, the Waaagh and Lead Adventures’ Forum. Some people seem to think they have some higher hobby authority, maybe some do. It is Zac’s forum and like I said it isn’t Zac, it is meI have to go.

There is no negotiation, there isn’t any need to do anything other than say goodbye. I have to move on and that is life. I try to live mine the best I can, but I can’t get involved in any more shit, I know how things go and it is better to walk away early than…

It is only a hobby. I can take it or leave it and I certainly won’t be ‘hijacking’ any threads on VancouverGamers.com anymore because I won’t be posting there again.

I've posted the last time on VancouverGamers.com
I’ve posted the last time on VancouverGamers.com

What a wonderful way to end a day. You try to amuse people, you try to post pictures of miniatures you paint, you try to be a good guy, you type up a battle report for others to enjoy, and all you get is grief.  I just can’t have this in my life.

Sayonara Zac and VancouverGamers.com this isn’t the first time I’ve walked away form a forum post 2005 and it won’t be the last, it just isn’t worth any stress in my already difficult life.

Update December 2019

My blog remains, Zac’s website is long gone. I’ve been through a lot. I blogged too much, but my crime against humanity was telling the truth and going out of my way to help people. If I made a joke that wasn’t appreciated in digital communication, well I’m sure I’ll burn in hell for it. For did not Jesus say, never hijack a thread in an online gaming forum lest ye offend the righteous? And if ye offend the righteous surely you will burn.

Ironically Zac and I both seem to be living in Calgary now. I’m not sure we’ve ever met in the real world but maybe our paths will cross at the Sentry Box someday, perhaps he has a new perspective now on the importance of thread purity in online gaming discussion forums.

My Blogroll

I was doing better today/tonight at sleeping, but then I got up to do or check something and now I’m updating this blog. I haven’t updated since, early, early in the morning which is suboptimal if you want to generate traffic. You should probably update between 9-10 am until about 1-2 pm Eastern Standard Time.

This blog isn’t that popular, but it is new and I’ve put a lot of effort into it already. Google will reward that eventually as will the rest of the Blogosphere. I joined the From the Warp blog network, you can see their logo on my sidebar. These networks are a big deal to some, I had to start this dedicated blog in order to qualify. I may join one or two more, it depends on how stringent the requirements and who my peers will be.

Looking at my web traffic statistics, something I perhaps do too much, I noticed where traffic comes from and where traffic goes to. In my Blogroll, most of the traffic goes to the alphabetically first blogs which is good for the guy who called his blog A 40K Hobby Blog and good for Malcolm who called his blog A Canadian in Space, but it is bad for say Zac…

So after finding another miniature painter with a blog in Vancouver I went to bed. I did add him to my Blogroll as he apparently goes to the same store as me. But then I couldn’t sleep so I decided to create a category for just Vancouver miniature painters and bloggers. Vancouver is one of the Social Media capitals of the world. We have large networks on Facebook, LinkedIn, and PlentyOfFish, in fact PlentyOfFish. com is a local company, Flickr and Now Public were also started here. You see a lot of iPhones and MacBooks now in Vancouver, when as a long time Mac user, I used to be ridiculed, even in programmer/ComSci circles. Now let’s just say some of us were way ahead of our time.

Anyway now there is a Vancouver or Van City Bloggers category in my links. Blogroll was still appearing first so I had to create five Links widgets and order them how I wanted to get the sidebar to behave how I want. This shows the power of WordPress even the dot com version. One of the things I’m amazed at is people trying to run really elaborate blogs off of Blogger.com when they should just get a WordPress account or better yet a domain. They’ve built up cachet or Google Juice for a domain they don’t own, which is always a no-no in web design/internet branding. Can you even export your data from Blogger easily? Of course I went with the free WordPress.com account myself rather than self host another blog. I just wanted to try out the features of WordPress.com that aren’t available to self hosted blogs, there are one or two…

So if you’re a gamer in Vancouver, you should pop by VancouverGamers.com or Strategies on Sundays and if you have a blog, a good blog, not some crappy thing you threw up back in the day and never update, but a good blog with pictures and tutorials on miniature painting and you’re in Vancouver, let Zac or I know. Zac is big on building up the local gaming community, I just try to do my bit to help.

Update December 2019

I am updating every post on this blog to improve the Quality and taxonomy. I’ll get to the blogroll soon. I’m in Calgary now and so is Zac, but I can’t say I’ve thought about him much over the years ever since he decided the purity of thread can not be compromised.