“Treasure Tomb” – Evolution of a Game

Treasure Tomb Shop Backdrop

Treasure Tomb

Over the past couple of months, I have been working on a board game, Treasure Tomb. Several design and rule changes later, Treasure Tomb is ready for final publishing and went on sale today at The Game Crafter.

Treasure Tomb is a game of strategic tile-laying, dice-rolling, and card collecting. Players lay tiles to construct pathways through the mummy’s tomb, drawing treasure cards each time they pass a treasure token. When a player lands on a sarcophagus token, the mummy enters the tomb, blocking treasure card icons. Treasure cards are either event cards or gold, and the first person to collect 50 gold wins the game.

(Read More…)

Permanent link to this article: https://www.operationbrainleak.com/treasure-tomb-evolution-of-a-game/

New “Wolf In The Fold” Microgame

Wolf In The Fold Shop Header Image

Wolf in the Fold

In March, I began working on a couple of concepts for games which I have had floating around in my head, and I am pleased to announce the first finished game went on sale today! Created from unused concepts from my upcoming Treasure Tomb board game, Wolf in the Fold is more of a microgame than a full game. The rules are simple and the playing time is short. Most test games have clocked in at around 15 minutes, although games could be longer if other players take a long time to consider their tile placements.

(Read More…)

Permanent link to this article: https://www.operationbrainleak.com/new-wolf-in-the-fold-microgame/

First Quarter Writing Round-Up 2015

Spanish IC3 and Me

Not long ago, LearnKey released a course on IC3 GS4 with Spanish audio and English text. The course was designed to allow Spanish speaking students to learn computing skills by hearing their native language while seeing the computer terms in English.

A couple of months ago, the decision was made to revamp this course by converting all of the graphics into Spanish. This new course is designed to allow Spanish speaking students to learn computing skills by hearing and seeing computer terms and practices in full Spanish. As a result of this decision, I spent most of the last two weeks reviewing the English version of IC3 and recapturing all of the screen captures using Spanish versions of Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite.

(Read more…)

6 Simple Tips to Advance Your Career

Do you ever feel trapped in a dead-end job or feel like you’ve reached the height of your career? I’m sure most of us have felt that way at some point in our lives. Most of us want to advance in our careers, but we don’t always know where to start.

A couple of years ago, I worked on a course which required extensive research on how to succeed at work. While I’m sure there are many things we could add to the list, all of my research seemed to boil down to six simple steps that anyone can follow to advance in their career.

(Read more…)

8 LearnKey Career Paths That Will Increase Your Yearly Income

According to the United States Census Bureau, the median household income in 2013 in the United States was $51,939. While this was a slight rise from the previous year, 2010 and 2011 both saw significant declines in the median household income. 2014 saw the median income rise to levels more consistent with those in 2010, but they are still significantly lower than in 2009.

Household income levels are related to the rise and fall in the economy, but there are steps that can be taken to see an increase in income during hard economic times. LearnKey has designed a series of training bundles to help job seekers prepare for careers that will continue to be in demand, even when the economy is poor. Here are eight of LearnKey’s career paths which have the highest potential to raise your salary above the median household income:

(Read more…)

My Certification Failure

Recently, I did something I rarely do – I failed a test. You may think, “Big deal, it’s just one test, you’ll pass the next one,” and you would usually be right. Except this wasn’t just any test. It was a certification exam.

A couple of weeks ago, I began watching LearnKey’s Project 2013 training to prepare to take the Managing Projects with Microsoft Project 2013 certification exam. I watched the entire course, took notes, passed all of the pre- and post tests, and reviewed the training for the questions I had missed. I was a little nervous about taking the test, but I felt confident in using the software and figured the test would be pretty easy. I passed a couple of Adobe certification tests with no problems, and I thought the Project 2013 test would be similar.

(Read more…)

Permanent link to this article: https://www.operationbrainleak.com/first-quarter-writing-round-up-2015/

Memories and Dreams

The memory is hazy. Perhaps because I was young then. Perhaps because it never really happened. Whatever the reason, I still remember the look in his eyes.

I ran down the long hall, the large Phillips screwdriver clutched tightly in my seven-year-old fist. Back and forth between the two bedrooms at the end of the hall, I ran laughing, my younger brother on my heels, tightly clutching an identical screwdriver.

I can’t remember why we ran. Looking back, years later, the reason doesn’t seem quite as important as it did at the time. What matters only is that we ran.

My sisters screamed in mock terror as we entered their room; it seems Jennie even jumped up on the bed to escape our game. They screamed as we ran in the door, and laughed as we ran out. On the other side of the wall, in the sanctity of our own room, my brother and I stopped to regroup.

Several times this scenario played out, with never a variation. Then one time, everything changed. I sensed that everything was different somehow. I turned to look over my shoulder. I couldn’t see my brother.

I stopped, turned, and walked back around the corner. There he lay, the screwdriver deeply embedded in his chest. I wanted to help, wanted to do something, anything, but the blank look in his eyes told me the truth. It was already too late.

By far the most vivid of my childhood memories, I take some comfort from the fact that this memory was only a dream.

This memoir was written in 2003 for a creative writing class and originally appeared on SpaceComCentral.com. Several years previously I also wrote a poem based on this dream, which is included in my book of poetry, Windows to the Soul:


Knives in hand,
We chased each other.
Suddenly, my brother was gone.
I found him on the ground,
Knife in his chest,
A plea in his eyes.
He knew Death knocked.
I stood and cried,
Turned my back,
And Walked away.

When I hear the world’s cries
I think of his eyes,
Ignoring their pain,
I walk away.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.operationbrainleak.com/memories-and-dreams/

2014 Writing Round-Up

Updated LearnKey Veteran Services Website

If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that our LearnKey Veteran Services website (www.veterans.learnkey.com) has been updated since yesterday. This is more than a mere update; it is a redesign of the existing website.

(Read more…)

3 Tips for Surviving Company Rightsizing

In order to survive the always-changing face of business, all companies must go through a series of corporate “rightsizing” at various points in their lifecycle. Often, employees are laid off or transferred to support the new structure and goals of the company.

(Read more…)

Using Company “Wellness Checks” to Improve Performance

You’ve probably heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” We all know that eating right and exercising regularly are important to our health, but how many of us go to the doctor regularly just to get a checkup? Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t automatically guarantee you will be healthy, so regular health checks are important.

The same concept applies to your workforce. Many companies assume that their employees are content with their jobs and enjoy their work, but without a regular “checkup” there is no way to know for sure.

(Read more…)

American Education Week

This week is American Education Week. First held in 1921, American Education Week was founded by the National Education Association and the American Legion. In the following years, sponsors grew to include the U.S. Department of Education and dozens of other national education organizations. American Education Week is always celebrated the week before the week of Thanksgiving.

(Read more…)


This Thursday and Friday, LearnKey offices will be closed in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. LearnKey offices will return to regular hours of operation 12/1/2014.

While many early groups of settlers observed a yearly day of thanksgiving after their arrival in the New World, the origin of the Thanksgiving holiday is generally attributed to those colonists known as the Pilgrims. Fleeing religious persecution in England, the Pilgrims originally settled in Leiden, Holland. Fearful of losing their cultural identity through long association with the Dutch people, the Pilgrims eventually left Holland and sailed to the New World aboard the Mayflower.

(Read more…)

Training the Planet–One Certification at a Time

We’ve talked a lot this year about job training and industry certification, and not just because LearnKey is an elearning company. Industry certification is one of the little things that sets a candidate apart when applying for a job. Continuing education is what helps an employee keep their job in an ever-changing technological landscape.

(Read more…)

2014 Highlights

The changing of a year is often a time of reflection and rededication. It’s a time to reflect on and analyze events of the previous year and rededicate ourselves to becoming the best we can be. It’s a time to remember accomplishments and set goals for the coming year. As I reflect on what LearnKey has accomplished in 2014, I realize that LearnKey and Better Learning Systems have had a very busy year. Very busy, and very productive.

(Read more…)

Permanent link to this article: https://www.operationbrainleak.com/2014-writing-round-up/

What’s In A Name?

Have you ever thought of changing your name? I’m sure most of us have at some point or another in our lifetime. Celebrities and authors are frequently known by names other than the one they were born with. Some people change their name because they want to be unique or because they think a different name rolls off the tongue better than their birth name. Other people change their name to disguise their identity or protect their privacy. Some people just want to escape their past and think a new name will help them to do so. Sometimes I feel like life would be easier if I just changed my name and disappeared.

When I was about ten, my brother and I decided we needed pen names. We each made up several pen names for ourselves, but many years later the only pen name I can recall is Bernardo E. Pency. I used that name all the time, on all of my artwork and stories. I even began writing a comic book using my assumed name:

Bern Comics Cover Garbage Dude The Journey to Loch Ness Cover Bern Castle
Red Rose

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Shakespeare wrote, “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” A name is just a label, a way for people to distinguish us from each other in speech, right?

I’m not always so sure. I was once told that no sound is sweeter to a person than the sound of his or her own name. I’m not sure I agree with that, but even animals respond when they hear us speak the names we have given them. In some ways, our name is a part of who we are, a part of our core identity.

I probably think of this a little more often than most people. My father and I share the same first name, so our identities have occasionally been confused. Ever since I was a small child I have gone by my middle name, but this sometimes causes problems when it comes to legal affairs. Do I use my first name, or do I use my middle name? Should I sign that official document with my full name, or can I just use my first initial and sign my middle name? As I get older, I tend to gravitate even further away from using my first name, and I sometimes wonder if my father feels I am rejecting his name.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.operationbrainleak.com/whats-in-a-name/

Post-Move Activity

We have now been in our new house for two months and we are starting to get settled in. I have begun writing a new novel, unfortunately laying aside my other novel plans at the moment. I have also finished the LearnKey website redesign and written three posts for the LearnKey blog in that time.

FLVs and Creative Cloud 2014

Last week, Adobe released an update to their Creative Cloud software. A major change from previous versions of Adobe’s software is now they have removed the ability to encode video into the FLV and F4V formats.

Yes, you read that right. After Effects CC 2014, Premiere Pro CC 2014, and Media Encoder CC 2014 can no longer export video to the FLV or F4V formats.

Interestingly enough, Flash CC 2014 can still import FLV video. Those who use embedded video in Flash can still import video as usual, but Adobe no longer provides the tools to create those videos.

(Read more…)

Exam Prep with Tom Carpenter

Exams can be a stressful experience, but that doesn’t mean you have to go in unprepared. LearnKey and Tom Carpenter, president of SysEdCo and frequent LearnKey author, have teamed up to create a short course to help test takers understand two things:

  1. How to pick the most important parts of an exam, and
  2. How to learn the material and retain information.

(Read more…)

Remembering September 11th

For many people, the mere mention of a specific date can often bring a tide of memories and emotions rising to the surface. For those living in the United States of America, September 11th is one of those dates. Today marks the thirteenth year since all America watched in horror as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center collapsed, killing nearly 3000 people and plunging the world into the “War on Terror.”

(Read more…)

Permanent link to this article: https://www.operationbrainleak.com/post-move-activity/

Recent History

Many of you have probably wondered if I am dead.

While it may seem so in some online circles, I am not dead. I have just been very busy. In February, I accepted a new position at work, and in the last few months I have been busy fixing up my house to sell and looking for somewhere new to live.

I am pleased to announce that my house has sold. We closed on it today and will be moving in a couple of weeks. Another city, another adventure.

Despite rumors of my recent demise, I have actually stayed somewhat active in the blogging world. Since starting my new position in February, I have written several articles for the LearnKey blog, as well as acted as editor for all of the LearnKey blog articles written since February. I have also been heavily involved in redesigning the LearnKey website and maintaining LearnKey’s social media presence.

Check out some of my recent articles:

Permanent link to this article: https://www.operationbrainleak.com/recent-history/

Book Review: To Green Angel Tower, Part 2

To Green Angel Tower, Part 2
Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Book 3
By Tad Williams

While Simon and Miriamele make their way to the Hayholt, Josua’s camp is attacked by Norn assassins intent on killing Camaris. Tiamak sets Camaris’ tent on fire to warn the others, but Geloe is fatally injured in the attack.

With Hernystir free of invaders, the Sithi army rides for Josua’s conquered fortress of Naglimund. Joined by Count Eolair and a few Hernystiri soldiers, the Sithi attempt to drive the Norns from Naglimund, but their power is greater than suspected.

As the conqueror star appears overhead, the three great swords are drawn towards the Hayholt. Fighting their way towards the High King’s stronghold, Josua and his allies prepare for the last great battle to save Osten Ard from the machinations of Pryrates and the dreaded Storm King.

To Green Angel Tower, Part 2, concludes the saga of the three great swords, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. Williams manages to tie up all of the diverse storylines while throwing in some unexpected twists. This book is an excellent end to the trilogy, and I would recommend the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn saga to any fan of fantasy fiction.

This review originally appeared 19 January 2013 on fantasyreviewer.com

Permanent link to this article: https://www.operationbrainleak.com/book-review-to-green-angel-tower-part-2/

Book Review: To Green Angel Tower, Part 1

To Green Angel Tower, Part 1
Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Book 3
By Tad Williams

Josua and the people at Sesuad’ra prepare for battle as the forces of High King Elias march toward the Stone of Farewell. Simon is knighted by Josua, giving the encampment of refugees reason to celebrate before the bloody battle.

Meanwhile, Miriamele has grown to despise Earl Aspitis and his affections. He announces his plans to marry her when they reach the shore, and confesses that he has known her true identity all along. She contemplates killing both Aspitis and herself, but the Niskie, Gan Itai, convinces her to wait.

In Jao é-Tinukai’i, the murder of Amerasu by Norn agents has unified the Sithi houses. For the first time in centuries, they leave their forest stronghold en masse, marching for Hernystir and battle with the Rimmersman invaders.

The hardback version of To Green Angel Tower was so large that the paperback version had to be split into two separate books. Part 1 begins where The Stone of Farewell left off, and begins weaving an even more intricate plot. Williams manages to follow the adventures of multiple characters without confusion, while still maintaining the overall storyline. I would highly recommend this book to fans of the fantasy genre.

This review originally appeared 12 January 2013 on fantasyreviewer.com

Permanent link to this article: https://www.operationbrainleak.com/book-review-to-green-angel-tower-part-1/