Can 2 Stores Make a Mall?

12.27.2020

October/Black Friday 2019 my big purchase was the 4Ground Mall. After a month or two I finally started putting the mall together, and by the middle of April the basic mall was built sans any content. I knew filling out the guts of the stores would be the big time consuming part of this project. That's ok though, I'm not in a hurry. This was intended to be a long term project. That was part of rationalizing the cost for this.

Now, after another 6+ months, I can claim 2 stores as complete (enough) to qualify as mall tenants.

1. Ammunation
You can tell I play too much Grand Theft Auto when the 1st mall store is named after a store in the video game. I didn't want to stick with the options printed up in the provided mall directions, I'm much too quirky for that. The Ammunation store was thought to be mostly done a few months ago, but after looking at what I how I had decorated the store, it just didn't feel right. The first change was the entrance sign. Although I like the Mod Podge Dimensional Magic to add depth to the sign, it looked like a cheap key fob. The Mod Podge was just me over-engineering what I wanted, so version... technically, 4... was just a piece of clear transparency film over the sign graphic printed on card stock. A lot more miscellaneous clutter was added in to help give the store a little life and personality. The room in the back will have some personality added later - right now it's just got gun-themed posters I would imagine gun-nut me would put up.



2. (Sara's) That's So Art
One of the top 3 coolest Christmas presents I ever received were the Hero Forge minis from Sara last year. Since last year, Sara has stood up her booming custom art business to the point where SHE HAD NO TIME TO TOP LAST YEARS PRESENT. I made sure to express my dissappointment and how I took the lack of notice and personal attention as a personal affront. Just to make her feel worse, I turned one of the mall stores into her art shop, complete with me and Tyler looking around.



Unfortunately, Sara didn't fall for my personal affrontedness and just commented on how cool it was.

Now I can claim a little hobby progress from the past few months. Not a lot, but some. Salesforce certification studying got in the way a lot more than I intended.

I've been working on a pharmacy for the mall, but I keep finding my ideas for setting up the interior aren't working well enough to follow through on. Another iteration is primed to try, literally. Maybe this one will work well enough to build upon.


4ground-mall gaming miniatures scenery

Passed!

12.09.2020

After 3 months, I thought it time to check in on the interweb. Last time here I mentioned a 6 week bootcamp for the Salesforce Platform Developer certification. The bootcamp ended up being trailhead lessons I'd done over the past couple of years, save for two. There was also some overview about how to program and caveats for what happens in Salesforce. I knew most of those going into the class, too. I would have been disappointed, but the price of the class included a voucher for taking the exam, and was reduced to the cost of the exam. In essence, free training and tips.

Post bootcamp, I took a half-day webinar on prepping for the exam. Again, I was good on most of this stuff.

In April, I purchased training materials from Focus on Force. Good content, and 15 practice exams. I was making 75-90 on practice exams. On the real exam, I would have to make a 65 (out of 100). I felt good going into this.

My scheduled exam time came and I began my remotely proctored test. After 55 minutes of my 105 minute allotted time, I had answered everything and gone back and reviewed those answers I was unsure about. Out of 65 questions, there were 5 that I had no idea on. The scenario based questions were a little different from what I had studied - and there were a lot more questions about messaging services than I was expected. As I submitted the test, I was pretty sure I'd passed - maybe something in the 70% range.

59%. 3 questions short of passing. Well. Shit.

The summary of my score tells me what percentage of each major (5) categories I got right. In essence, I really didn't know what I had gotten right and what I had gotten wrong.

After being down, a little mad, and not knowing what to do next, I realized a couple of things. This test was an exam to see what I knew, not guide me to study what I didn't know (those category scores just weren't as helpful as I wanted). My high scores on the Focus on Force practice tests had come from me taking those tests enough that I had basically memorized those answers and questions - in that order. It's the way my brain had gotten geared for tests in school - these will be the questions asked, and these will be the answers.

So I went back to re-study, now that I knew what the test looked like. Better understand what solutions go with general scenarios, that was my big lacking. I did this for 3 weeks and scheduled my 2nd attempt. To make my life easier, the half day webinar I sat in on included a discount voucher that could be applied to follow up exam attempts (so it only cost me $30 instead of $100). Attempt #2 saw me more confident. Luckily for me, I saw questions I remembered from my first attempt - questions I had gone back afterward and double checked what the right answer should be. I went through and once again had everything answered after 55 minutes. This time, I went back and double checked every question regardless of my first impulse on whether or not I'd gotten it right. On the second pass I changed some answers. Some of those I'd marked to double check, some not. When it came time to submit my answers, I was confident. Surely I'd done better than the last time. In my gut I was sure I was in the 90% range.

73%. I passed by 4 questions. Not 90%, but I passed and can now claim Platform Developer Certifiability.

It still bothers me that I don't know specifics on what I missed. It bothers me more that there are things I was sure I was right on and that I know, but I'm wrong. I'm most likely doing some of that wrong stuff day to day.

There are a couple more certifications I told myself would be nice. After the uphill battle of getting this one, I'm not speeding toward trying to grab either of those. My brain has to learn that my old method of studying for tests doesn't work here. And while I know how to program and code, there are some quirky Salesforce things that are possible that I just don't do, but need to know how to do when the day comes along that they're needed. That's the hard part to figure out how I need to learn and retain.

With all of that work/Salesforce stuff going on, I really haven't done much else for fun. The 4Ground Mall managed to get 1 store "completed", which I need to take some pics of. There was a little Black Friday procuring of some minis on sale. I've also been working for a homemade shelves idea to go in the mall stores - now on version 3. With the holidays coming up I should have a normal hobby-related post before too long.


programming/interweb salesforce work

This counts as the August update

09.07.2020

The past month has not seen me be productive from a hobby standpoint. If I tried to pick a reason for the lack of anything content-worthy over the past month, it would be "lack of artistic gumption". There were some things I started, but decided not to continue/finish. Things I worked on took way too long for the end result. But hobbies are for fun, so I shouldn't be worried that I don't have much to show for August.

I thought I would make a good, old fashioned model - an A-10 Warthog that I picked up no telling how long ago at Hobby Lobby. The last model I made was a tank last year. For the A-10 I started with paint details in the cockpit, and then started to put the body of the plane together. At that point I both wasn't sure what to do next (prime what I had, add more parts, what about painting more details?) AND I just kind of lost interest. I don't remember getting to the point of a hobby project and just saying "eh, I don't really want to do any more." Again, since hobbies are supposed to be for fun, I didn't force it and just decided to put aside what I'd done.

From there I went to the old stand-by of I Can Paint Some Minis. As the Reaper Chronoscope batch was getting ever smaller, I pulled out a couple of blisters to prime. Of the 6 ladies I saw I was going to paint, I'd painted 4 of them before.

The painting was uneventful beyond trying out some new skin tones. I faltered when it came to working on the bases - this is when the lack of inspiration really hit me. Usually I enjoy bases the most, but at this point I was just ready to be done with it all. I tried giving one of the bases a rain/wet/puddle look, but I don't think it works unless you know what it's supposed to be.

6 more minis down on the Completed column. On the Chronoscope side, I think the ones I have left to paint are all duplicates.

On the "what next" front... I don't know. Over the next 6 weeks I'm taking a bootcamp course for Salesforce Developer certification which should eat up a lot of free time. This is one of those things I've been putting off since April so I really need to bare down and study. There's plenty of hobby stuff for me to do, but for the next few weeks I need to find things I can spin up and then put away (when needed) quickly. With that in mind, there's a couple of computer/graphic centered things I can put on the list, but I don't know how well my hobby mood will align with sitting in front of the computer.

I've also been enjoying GTA with Jer. We play a couple of times per week. Sometimes we grind away at missions, other times we do goofy stuff. It's been a good way to get my mind off, well, everything.


gaming miniatures hobbies models reaper chronoscape

(Useless?) Base Painting Part II

07.28.2020

Being that I had 2 large bases I would never use, after painting one I should just go ahead and paint the other. Facebookians suggested adding green to the water to help show depth. I had originally thought about it, but wasn't confident I could pull it off. The 2nd base gave me more chance to play, so greenish water it would be!

Atop grey primer, I found the lightest green paint I had and it became the base layer for the water. On top of that was a Sky Blue glaze (2 coats - homemade glaze isn't known for sticking on smooth, non-horizontal surfaces). A darker, forgotten shade of blue was added on top of that, and it was all topped off by an ample coat of glaze.

Depending on the angle you're looking at, and the light, it works. When it doesn't work, it looks like some slimy stuff.

Speaking of slime, I'm not sure what I was going for coming out of the pipes but this is what I got. In trying to blend the splash at the water, I ended up with..... broccoli. The poop water coming out of the pipe on top of the bricks doesn't look as muddied water as I was shooting for.

Brickwork was fun on this base, too. Instead of repeated dark washes, I just used 4 shades of red on the bricks, then when through with an earth wash to really get into the grout lines. My dun thing to play around with here was to add some flock between some of the bricks - a dab of glue on the tip of a toothpick and then try to smoosh the flock down with some help of very pointy tweezers. I give it a solid C+ effort for a 1st attempt.



For the past few weeks I've done nothing, hobby-wise, that I planned to do and instead have done little things like paint the base above and 3D print stuff I hope to use in the upcoming months. My planning has gotten too big and unwieldy compared to what I end up managing to do in a week or two - time to pare it down to something manageable, something I can finish in a week.

We'll see how that goes.


gaming miniatures random

(Useless?) Base Painting

07.19.2020

I paint minis without much intention of ever playing a game with them. I paint for fun. I find some mini advertised that looks like it would be fun to paint and promptly grab it, sure that I'll paint it in the next decade or so. Even then, there's always the option in the back of my head that something will come along and I can say "ah, I have just the mini for this game!"

And then, there are things that look(ed) fun to paint that I don't know how they'll fit into a game. During some, most likely Black Friday, sale, I picked up what can best be described as over-sized decorative bases. One such base is below. 4 inches in diameter, with bricks, leaky pipe, and moistness about. It looked fun to paint - I still remember thinking that. This past week I came across said base - 2 of them, actually - and again thought it would be fun to paint. I had just wrapped up painting cowfolk, so why not go ahead and prime a base and see if the mood and inspiration to do something with it hit me.

On Saturday, I was properly inspired. For once I thought I'd try to document my process and hope that the end result turned out to be presentable. I wanted to try a little wet blending where the pipe water meets the regular water. Some variation in brick color would add interest - what's the best way to do that without getting bored? Those pipes would need to get rusty, too. I've added rust plenty of times with pigment, but I've never really tried painting rust (I tried, but ended up relying on the pigment more).

I didn't mean to get the whole thing painted in a day. I would paint a little, maybe 10-20 minutes, and take a break while it dried. Then I would think of the next thing to try, and the process would repeat. Before I knew it, I was done enough. Enough, but there's always room to go back and tweak, but in my experience that tends to end up screwing everything up horribly.



Over on Facebook, where I seldom post, I read a handful of miniature oriented painting groups. I posted my finished pic along with a little blurb about sometimes you paint for fun and expect no real use out of what you paint. Although the internet is renown for people sharing their harshest opinions, I got some compliments along with people asking how I pulled off a couple of things. Pic even got over 100 likes.

This "I'll never use this in a game" has done wonders for my painting confidence.


gaming miniatures random

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As always, correct spelling is optional in any blog entry. Keep in mind that any links more than a year old may not be active, especially the ones pointing back to Russellmania (I like to move things around!).

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