Monthly Archives: March 2015

RE: Western Digital Black^2 Dual Drive

Last year I purchased a Western Digital Black^2 Dual Drive and I had some challenges with it, but did eventually get it working in my system. Well this week the mechanical drive went bad, this is not the first hard drive crash I have had, but it is the first one in several years. I will be sending this drive to Western Digital for a warranty replacement, but in the meantime I need a functional system. So it was off to Best Buy to get a temporary replacement. I figured this drive would eventually end up in PezWitch’s computer, so I went for a 2 TB drive. Re-installing Linux and getting my programs installed is pretty trivial, I have automated most of the process through a couple of shell scripts I run after the initial install. I spent most of this time watching TV.

Fortunately several years ago I discovered a program call DropBox. I pay $99 a year to get 1 TB of online storage space and a nice little client program that automatically syncs my important files. So while I did loose a little bit of data, like my Windows 7 Virtual Machine, my pictures, MP3’s, PDF’s and a bunch of other stuff are all safely stored in the cloud, as soon as I installed the client, it started downloading my files to me system. This process will take days, but I can retrieve them as needed in the meantime. Since there is nothing I particularly need Windows for, I suppose I will wait for Windows 10 to come out in the fall to rebuild my Virtual Machine.

Friday Night Dice

Death is relatively uncommon in games I run. I hold it to be a truth that player characters are the heroes of their story, as a rule heroes should not die unless it furthers the plot of the story in some significant way. So when a character does die, it makes the whole group pause for a moment, because something important has happened. Especially in a case like this one, where this campaign has been in motion for 18 months, all the PC’s are between 8th and 11th level. Jerard went out a hero, as a hero should. The party was forced into a partial retreat and Jerard guarded that retreat putting himself between the other party members and went toe to toe with a fighter nearly his equal. Jerard is faster with more attacks, but the other fighter does more brutal damage when he hits, one of them was not going to survive the round, unfortunately, it was Jerard, however, his opponent did not long outlive him.

Today is the day!

Today is Pi Day, so HAPPY PI DAY to all of my Mathlete friends.

it is also Steak and Blowjob Day, if you were a good boy on Valentines Day and did right by your Significant Other, today is time for the tender love and care you deserve in return.

 

Review: Roll20.net

For those of you who do not know what Roll20.net is, in short it is a website that provides services for people who wish to play pencil and paper role playing games online. It provides the three things needed for this function, Chat, Mapping and Die rolling. Roll20.net is certainly not the first group to do something like this, there are in fact at least a dozen virtual table top programs available for playing online each with thier own advantages and disadvantages. If you are not sure why someone would want to play Dungeons & Dragons like this, you can read this post I did a few years ago.

http://carnifex.org/wordpress/?p=76

This last September we switched from OpenRPG/Traipse to Roll20.net for a number of reasons. OpenRPG had once again fallen into a state were no one was updating it, particularly the server software was in a poor state and it was getting harder to maintain. On top of that there were several long term issues with the software like “Fog of War” never worked right and stability problems. Roll20.net had been on my radar for a while, we even tried once about a year ago, but found it wanting in several areas. However, it was time change. I was tired of suffering in silence about software that was going nowhere. While Roll20.net was not perfect, at least it is under active development and is being improved all the time.

Pros: Image handling and fog of war and head and shoulders above OpenRPG. Mapping is flexible and once you get down layering and mini management things get wonderfully easy. For instance I can link a mini to a character sheet, so the PC’s Hit Points and Armor class are available by simply clicking on the mini. It also lets you mark mini’s in interesting ways. Roll20.net not only has integrated chat, but audio and video as well, it also supports Google Hangouts.

Cons: Roll20.net has come a long ways in the last couple of years, but there are still some problems. Characters sheets are a pain in the ass. There is no easy way to create your own and the stock ones are hit or miss on quality. Character sheets are starting to become interactive with chat, but they are still a long way from usable in that way. It is difficult to change games without setting up a whole new campaign, which seems overkill for a one off game. If you change the campaign settings from HackMaster to GURPS, Roll20.net will convert all the existing character sheets to GURPS, which really screws them up. My suggestion is to have a campaign for each game you want to play, or have a throw away campaign where no one cares if they can not maintain characters sheets.

Overall Roll20.net is very usable, though it does take getting use to. I went ahead and started paying them a couple bucks a month to support their operation. In exchange I get some mildly amusing features, the most important of which is 1 GB of storage for maps and minis and I no longer have to suffer advertisements. I would very much recommend Roll20.net to anyone looking for a replacement to OpenRPG, Battlegrounds, FantasyGrounds, ScreenMonkey and any of the other myriad attempts at building tools to play online.

All the worlds Linux

I have to say, Linux Mint is by far the best distribution in existence. This includes RedHat, which is supported by a billion dollar a year company. CentOS 7 was a big improvement over 6, a lot of my major complaints were addressed, better wireless support, easier to get the NVIDIA proprietary driver installed, etc etc etc. However, I found several smaller pieces of the pie that were still missing and some packages that were there are broken. I then installed Fedora 21, figuring the community driven version, not beholden to whatever bad decisions RedHat makes and more suited to a normal user rather than an engineer, might work better for me. Fedora turned out to be even worse. I made two attempts at installing the NVIDIA proprietary driver doing it different ways and both screwed my video forcing me to go into single user mode and unfucking the process. My other complaint about Fedora is my system seemed to run significantly slower than under Mint 17. Don’t get me wrong here, I have never thought Linux was perfect and I have always been willing to take extra time to patch things up. But the OS should not fight me, distro makers need to make it as easy as possible find the dev libraries so I can compile programs with no provided packages. Redhat, CentOS and Fedora seem to go out of their way to make this difficult. If peoples first exposure to Linux is with these distros, I can see why the “Year of the Linux Desktop” is never going to come.