Monthly Archives: August 2011

Goodbye Google+

The other day I deleted my Google+ account when I realized I did not remember the last time I looked at it and it had been at least a week or two. Then I thought about it, and decided while I was at it, I should delete my Twitter account since it had been at least a month since I last looked at that. I suppose there really is only room enough in my life for one social network, FaceBook seems to be the default and I don’t think that is going to change anytime soon.

As a side note, this morning while surfing the web I came across this tidbit on Slashdot which is a discussion about Google+ being an identity service and the social network is just a side line. It included two links of interest.


Happy birthday Linux

This week (August 25th to be exact) was the 20th anniversary of the Linux operating system. I started experimenting with Linux sometime in 1992. My first exposure to it was accidental. I bought on of those CD’s full of shareware programs and on the disc was 2 floppy images you could make Linux boot floppies from. The idea of having my very own Unix box at home was appealing to me, after all, Unix was an extremely powerful OS, especially when compared to DOS. Unfortunately there was no way to install it to my hard drive, so I occasionally would pull out the floppies and mess around with it.

Then in 1993 I came across my first Linux distribution, Yggdrasil Linux and at this point, PezWitch and I had decided we could not co-exist on the same computer so there was nothing stopping me from installing on my own system. From that point, I dual booted between Linux and DOS/Windows. In early 1998, I realized I had not booted into my windows install for 3 months and decided to recover the lost hard drive space and started using Linux full time. At some point between 1993 and 1998, I moved from Yggdrasil to Slackware Linux and in my transition to using Linux full time I switched to using RedHat. It was also at this time that I started experimenting with Beowulf clusters and at one point I had a node cluster of old 486’s chugging away, before I got tired of paying for the power consumption and tore it all down. My last big transition came in 2004 when Ubuntu Linux hit the scene.

In the late 90’s and early 00’s, I also penned a couple of articles for the Linux Gazette.All of these articles are now obsolete, but at the time were much needed human readable documentation. I link to them here only for historical curiosity, please don’t try to use any of them and if you do, please do not email me complaining it does not work, I will simply laugh at you and mock your n00b ways.

Building a Secure Gateway Part I:

Building a Secure Gateway Part II:

CD Writing with an ATAPI CDR:

DVD Authoring:

Yes, computer techs hate you

And here is why,

Review: Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition

Product Summery:
Name: Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Author: Staff writers
Line: Dungeons and Dragons
Cost: $19.99
Pages: 32 page Players book and 64 page Dungeon Masters Guide

At some point Wizards of the Coast decided Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) should be more like World of Warcraft (WoW) and less like D&D. Gone are the days of memorizing or praying for spells, weapon specialization and the old niches of Cleric, Fighter, Magic User and Thief. All spells and class abilities have been transformed into cool powerz which can be used at will, per encounter or per day. The niches have been replaced with Defender, Striker, Leader and Controller. None of these niches is filled by and particular class, although some classes are better one niche over the others. This new way of looking at the game makes the game look and feel more like WoW and less like D&D as I said earlier.

This last weekend I played in a D&D demo and finally got to see how the game played in real time. Unfortunately, it is just about as bad as I thought it would be. While the players and the GM were good and I did enjoy the game, from a game mechanic perspective, D&D 4E is a very flat game as far as RPG’s go. I would probably rate better as skirmish based board game, but that is not what it is. Each of the classes did not really have their own “Thing” they could do that no one else could do. Everyone was nearly perfectly balanced and everyone could pretty much do everyone elses job, nearly as well as they could. For example, we had a Wizard running around picking pockets, in spite of the fact that he had no real training in doing so.

Over all, if you are playing D&D3E, I suggest either sticking with it or moving to Pathfinder, if you are playing an older game, like AD&D1/2E, stick with what you have. I see no compelling reason to move to this game. It is shallow, boring and uninteresting.

Summery (Scale of 1-5):
Appearance and Layout: 3
Game Mechanic: 1
Setting: N/A
Overall: 2

Geekfest 2011

This year the Demo game was Dungeons & Dragons 4E. As I was walking down the hall towards the game room, I encountered one of the guys from last years Pathfinder game and he said they were looking for a 4th player for the demo game and I said I just happened to be looking for exactly that. This was a decent game and I enjoyed the time I spent. The other three players all had played together before, which actually made things a bit easier, since they already knew each others strengths and weaknesses. They seemed to have their own pecking order and preferred classes and I was able to follow along, filling in the necessary holes. Sadly the game ended in a near Total Party Kill, with only one character surviving, and he only survived because I suggested he run. While I did have fun, I have to comment that I missed Gavin, the GM from last year. It is probably not fair to compare this years GM to Gavin, because Gavin is an experienced, old school GM and one of those rare GM’s everyone loves to play under.

This is the whole group, minus me of course.

This is the board at the beginning of the game, it was suppose to be a tavern scene, we didn’t really need the board very much.

The GM.

And of course the battle towards the end of the game.

Despite the near TPK, it was a fun game, I enjoyed it, even as we were getting our asses handed to us. I expect I will be there next year as well.

Slacker Culture

Every generation has a subculture of ne’erdowells who spend their 20 somethings smoking dope, fucking and generally having more fun than everyone else. We have called them Bohemians, Hippies, Slackers and Hipsters. Society tends to hate these people because supposedly they are lazy, undisciplined, unfocused and smell bad. I personally think society hates them because they are generally having more fun than we are.

I freely admit in the 80’s I was a GenX Slacker in Bozeman Montana. I worked a series of dead end jobs to finance the stuff I really wanted to be doing. Back then I had tons of time on my hands, but not much money. Today, I have enough money, but not nearly enough time to do the things I really want to do. I miss that time of my life, it was sandwiched between High School, which I hated and going into the Army and getting “Serious” about my life. Since then, I have had a lot of good years, I have travelled the world, met tons of people and drank the water in places that would make my doctor cringe and I would not trade those experiences for the world. However, those years in Bozeman, were arguably the happiest of my life. Personally, I think I’d like to spend less time working and more time living.

Hookey Bobbing

Over on Facebook there is a new group called “You know you are from Billings when..”, for the most part this group has been less than amusing. However, the other day the discussion of Hookey Bobbing came up. Hookey Bobbing is when, during the winter and all the roads were covered with snow and ice, we would grab the bumper of a car while it was stopped at a light and then let the car pull us along, often at speeds of 35 miles an hour or greater. As tremendously stupid as this sounds it was the primary mode of transportation to school during the winter for teenagers not yet old enough to own a car. The pit falls of Hookey Bobbing are obvious, hit a bare spot of pavement and if you were lucky, you lost soles of your boots, if you were not lucky, you ended up with a dislocated shoulder. Sudden stops by the car usually meant a black eye or broken nose and speed dips or speed bumps usually sent you flying into the nearest wall, telephone pole or mail box. Sometimes I am truly amazed that I survived my childhood.

Happy 30th Birthday IBM PC

30 years ago today IBM launched the personal computer revolution by releasing the very first IBM PC. The machine was a whooping 4.77 Mhz and contained at its maximum, 256KB of RAM, today my toaster has more computing power than that.

While we mock this machine today, it marked the move of computers from government black sites and university laboratories into homes and small business’s everywhere and laid the ground work for the rise of the Internet a decade later.

Happy Birthday

RE: GenCon

I was going to hunt down some pictures and talk about various bits I have heard about GenCon. Instead, I am going to point everyone to a nice post which does what I was thinking about very nicely.

Combat in GURPS

Last Friday I noticed something interesting, in our GURPS game, my players started using different combat tactics. The archers were targeting opponents who had already used their defense rolls, increasing the likelihood of successful hits. On the melee side, two characters ganged up on a single target, one of the characters, whose strength made it difficult for him to penetrate his opponents armor, used the All Out Attack option to increase his damage, hoping the single opponent would have to divide his attacks between the two characters, meaning he could forgo his defense roll and not worry about getting hit very often. This is very different from how combat is conducted in AD&D and HackMaster, which generally boils all the nuance out of combat. The more we play GURPS, the more I like it.

GenCon started yesterday

So every year, in August the hardcore RPG players of the world make the trek to¬†Indianapolis Indiana for GenCon. Next to Comic Con San Diego, this is the convention I most want to attend. While I enjoy Comic Books, I do not breathlessly a wait the arrival of each new comic each and every month as I once did. RPG’s on the other hand, I really can not get enough of. If I had the time and energy, I would play 2, 3, or even 4 times week. I attended GenCon in 1988 and I would really love to go again before I die, but I suspect it will have to wait until I retire, hopefully WalMart will let me have the weekend off.

I found this interesting graphic showing how attendance of the Convention has went up over the years. When I went in 88, GenCon and Origins were held together and attendance was at record levels, since then that record has been broken year after year. Of course what this really says to me is, I am not alone.


Please not, this is not the original image I used in this post.

The sad truth, I have no life.

Okay, I am sorry. I let a week pass by without posting something. The last three weeks have been incredibly busy. Training classes at work and overtime to keep up with the things that don’t get done if I am not at my desk culminated into not enough time to sleep let alone blog. I was hoping the combined slower posting pace and a healthy number of rainy day posts I generally maintain, would be enough to carry me through, but it was not. However, the worst of it is over and I should be able to get back into my normal routine.