mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

Amazing Mono-Green Dominaria Draft

A coworker of mine called up Wizards the day and asked them who the best drafter of all time was. He already knew the answer but the Wizards wizard would confirm it: “Mark Cerqueira.”

With my most recent draft of Dominaria a convergence of high skill and amazing fortune landed me with a pretty neat mono-green deck that made me truly worthy of the honor of greatest drafter of all time.

Here’s the finished deck that’s also viewable on MTG Goldfish.

I got very lucky with my three packs I opened because each contained great rare greens:

  • Pack 1 - Verdant Force
  • Pack 2 - Territorial Allosaurus
  • Pack 3 - Marwyn, the Nurturer

The Marwyn in the last pack (with the handful of elves I already had picked) really rounded out this deck well given it helped me ramp up more quickly into the more expensive cards at the end of my mana curve.

From there I have a nice selection of bigger bodies to bring out capped with TWO Verdant Forces to generate TWO Saprolings EVERY upkeep!

Boom!

E3 2018 Hype Starts Now

E3 2018 has come and gone and I’m already reveling in the fruits announced this year. What fruits?

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 DLC - Challenge Mode - This DLC dropped yesterday and while its small in size, it’s reeled me really strongly back into XBC2. It adds a modest amount of content: two new Blades and a Challenge Mode that throws you into challenging (and sometimes tricky) combat situations. Why the hype? Those two Blades are Shulk and Fiora from the original Xenoblade Chronicles! I’m really feeling it.

  • Octopath Traveler Prologue Demo - Also releasing yesterday was the Prologue Demo for Octopath Traveler. This demo lets you play the first chapter of each of the eight protagonists in the game. You are limited to three hours of play, but the progress you make in this demo will carry directly over to the full game when it comes out on July 13th. This is awesome as it gives you an efficient (no time wasted since progress carries over) try it before you buy it experience. This isn’t the first time the Octopath developers have impressed me: they put out a different demo back in September, conducted a survey about it, and made some quality-of-life changes to improve the overall game experience.

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 DLC - Torna: The Golden Country - This DLC will let us play through the fall of Torna that precedes the events of XBC2 by 500 years. This expansion appears to be large enough that it warrants a physical print with some gorgeous cover art to boot. Even though this expansion appears to be playable separately from the original story I hope at some point you’ll be allowed to carry over characters and Blades from the expansion into the main game. 🤞

While there’s a lot of exciting stuff on the horizon (Super Smash Bros. Ultimate), stuff further out on the horizon (Cyberpunk 2077), and things that may not exist on any horizon (Final Fantasy VII Remake) it’s exciting to have some stuff out already and more stuff coming out very soon!

Android Emails with Multiple File Attachments

The other day I was looking to create a share intent in Android with multiple file attachments. As always, especially with anything related to security and permissions, there were many “solutions” to be found but none that worked.

After some engineering – many trials and many errors – here’s the final output that did the trick:

The trick is to use FileProvider to create content URIs via FileProvider.getUriForFile from within your app. These URIs can be used by the receiving app. You’ll need to create a provider in your manifest file…

… and define paths in a paths file. Note that since I was creating my files in the cache directory my file path file specifies cache-path.

Happy coding!

What is Pokémon Quest?

Pokémon Quest was announced and released last week amid a slew of Pokémon announcements. Currently only available on the Nintendo Switch the game will soon be released on mobile platforms. The game is a mix of the original Pokémon with 151 Pokémon to collect rendered in Minecraft-esque graphics with mobile-esque tap-everywhere gameplay mechanics. It’s a grindfest for sure, but fun nonetheless.

But what really is Pokémon Quest? Let’s frame this question from the perspective of how this game takes your money and what it gives you in return. The game has a mechanics usually seen in free-to-play games like stamina; when you run out of stamina you can’t go on expeditions. It also has a premium in-game currency – PM Tickets – that can be used to get around limitations: the number of Pokémon you can have, the number of items you can hold, or recharging your stamina instantly.

Every 22 hours you are granted 50 PM Tickets for free.

Expedition 3-Pack Bundle - $29.99

So how can you spend money in Pokémon Quest? You can’t dump an infinite amount of money to buy PM Tickets. This differs from the usual gacha mobile games that let you purchase premium currency ad infinitum. You can spend $29.99 one time to unlock three expansion packs that gives you more stamina, more cooking pots to recruit more Pokémon, and increases the PM Tickets you get every 22 hours from 50 to 200.

Once you shell out $29.99 you aren’t really expected to throw more money at the game. That one-time purchase gives you a nice, steady stream of more resources you’ll need to play the game comfortably. But the stamina meter is still there. You can fully recharge it with 25 PM Tickets but it seems weird to “pay to unlock the game” but still have restrictions like this in place.

So what is this game? It’s a quirky hybrid of free-to-play and pay-to-unlock-the-full-experience. This might be because Pokémon Quest has an end: you collect all the Pokémon and clear all the expeditions. Paying versus not paying largely affects how quickly you can clear the game and how long you can spend each day playing the game.

This doesn’t feel malicious or predatory like some gacha mobile games or lootbox games but it’s certainly off kilter.

Manager Reads - Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration

Next up on the manager reads train is Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration by Brian W. Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman.

Who recommended the book? An iOS colleague at Twitch, Matt, recommended this book. I checked to ensure I did not personally need any debugging. 😆 Thanks, Matt!

Judge the book by its cover, font, page quality? The soft cover has a nice gloss and prominently features a crew team which is in line with the teamwork focus of the book. Two women and two men on the cover give us some gender balance but that’s where the balance ends. My biggest disappoint with the cover is that given it’s an O’Reilly book I wish there were a variety of animals in the boat and not humans. Oh wells…

Inside the book we’ve got thin pages where highlighter definitely bleeds through and even text on the opposite side of a page can be seen. I like the font choice, the point size, and comfortable amount of leading. But given the authors have a long history at Google I was hoping to see Roboto.

Thoughts on the book and the big take-aways? I enjoyed reading Debugging Teams. It’s a must read for anyone who is starting a team because it provides a framework for starting and nurturing a strong team. For those already on an established team the book can highlight some improvements to consider and blindspots to look out for.

The book is divided into six chapters that cover a variety of topics which include a bunch of stories and lots of entertaining illustrations. Here were my big takeways from each chapter:

  1. The Myth of the Genius Programmer - Everyone needs to practice HRT: humility, respect, and trust.
  2. Building an Awesome Team Culture - Establish a strong culture and maintain it. Providing high-level synchronization like mission statements and multiple channels for communication.
  3. Every Boat Needs a Captain - Stop being a manager. Instead be a servant leader.
  4. Dealing with Poisonous People - Get better at identifying poisonous behaviors early and work towards fixing it before it becomes a bigger problem. Focus on fixing behaviors and not fixing people.
  5. The Art of Organizational Manipulation - Acknowledge that most organizations have bureaucracy so learn to navigate it and work towards carving out a place where you can be happy and productive.
  6. Users Are People, Too - Make your product usable and useful. Design a delightful experience. Your users’ trust is your most sacred resource, so don’t squander it.

Favorite quote from the book? “Speed is a feature.”

Elevator pitch for suggesting (or not suggesting) the book? Read Debugging Teams. If your team is awesome, this book will help you figure out what you may have intentionally (or unintentionally) already done. If your starting a team, it’ll provide a playlist to help set your team up for success. And if your team is not doing so hot, it’ll give you a framework to approach the problem. Also, it has awesome illustrations.

Notes in Evernote? Debugging Teams has a lot of good information, which my notes hopefully capture, and lots of cool and funny illustrations, which my notes unforunately do not capture. Feel free to review my notes on 🐘.

Enjoyed this episode of Manager Reads? Check out more in the Manager Reads corner!