Monthly Archives: June 2015

Setting up Mystic BBS on Linux

The last time I migrated my website I did not setup the Mystic BBS node that I had setup for my future GURPS Cyberpunk game. I had a few spare minutes so I quickly it up, since I had already done it, I found this time around to be much easier.

1. Add a user to your Linux box, this needs to be a new user and one you are not going to use for anything else. I chose “mystic” just because it was easy, when it asks for a password use something easy to remember and something unrelated to any of your other users. If you are going to actually run a BBS here, you will be giving this password out to other people so they can secure shell into this account.

sudo adduser mystic

2. Download the Mystic BBS software from here and extract the rar file.

3. Change into the directory created by extracting the rar file and run the install program. When is asks where to install the files, change the path to “/home/mystic/”

cd mys110l

sudo ./install

4. Edit the /etc/passwd file and change the line that reads;

mystic:x:1001:1001:,,,:/home/mystic:/bin/sh

to

mystic:x:1001:1001:,,,:/home/mystic:/home/mystic/mystic

This makes it so anyone logging into the mystic account automatically be taken to the Mystic BB login screen where they will be prompted for their user name and password.

sudo nano /etc/passwd

5. Secure Shell into the box you are installing this on, logging into the mystic account, you should have the Mystic BBS login screen. Since this is the first use of the software, when you enter your user name it will not exist and you will be prompted to create an account. Once that is done, logout.

6. Now change to the mystic home directory and run the configuration. I would change the BBS name and the SysOp name under General Settings. You will also need to go to the User editor and upgrade your user account to SysOp status so you can administrate the software through your login. Once you are done with that, you will want to make sure all of the file ownership is correct.

cd /home/mystic

sudo ./mystic -cfg

sudo chown -R mystic.mystic *

7. You should be ready to go, if you are really intending to run a BBS, you will need to setup port forwarding for port 22 so your users can use a Secure Shell client to access you BBS.

Internet Trolling

Like anyone on the Internet, I am vulnerable to trolls. I have outrage buttons that can be pushed and emotional strings that can be pulled. I do love a good troll, I love it more when I know its happening, but I can’t help myself, I am compelled by the elegance of the troll to insert myself into the flame war. Having said that, I have been on the internet a very long time, before that I was on dial up BBS’s and Usenet, before that. I have been trolled the people who invented internet trolling, needless to say I am a bit jaded about the whole thing and it takes a particularly good troll to get my attention.

Recently, I have been very disappointed in the quality of troll on Twitter. Social media, especially Twitter was built for trolling and so I expect when I put out troll bait, as i did yesterday, that I would attract some entertaining troll attention, especially after PezWitch reTweeted me, instead, I get one lame troll.

The troll bait I laid out had three subjects, all of which were very politicized, heavily emotional and taken very seriously by both sides of the argument, additionally, it was very obvious which side I was on. All he had to do was pick one and poke me with it and the fight would have been on. Instead he asks me a vague question and the first time I read it, I was not even sure he was trying to troll me. So I respond asking him if he was trolling me and pointing out that this was not a very good troll. At this point, he should have realized he was out of his depth and moved along to easier targets.

n00b troll instead, takes another shot at it, again he asks me a weird question, obviously designed to get me to say something particular so he can pull an “AH HA” revelation moment on me. At this point, I am bored and I really need to get some real work done, but I give him one more chance to step up his game, so I reply “Okay, whats your point?” and he responds with what basically amounts to a technicality of American history. I decided this is the most boring troll in Twitter history and I gave him a troll score of 2 which should have indicated to him, he needed to move along. But no, he tries once again to engage me and I simply tell him, his troll score is too low for me to engage him seriously. He did finally draw someone else into his troll, so I hope he had better luck with the other guy and gets the practice he needs to improve his skill.

Virtual Reality: The Early Years

In very short order I believe we will move into the next phase of personal computing, Virtual Reality. Mind you, we are a long way from holodecks and cyberpunk style neuro interfaces, but we are entering into the very early stages. Oculus Rift is due out next year and on its heels will come products from Samsung, Sony and Valve. Personally, I am currently messing around with Google Cardboard, although instead of building a cardboard mount for my phone, I purchased a plastic headset that my smart phone mounts into.

Most of what is available right now is in demo land rather than complete games and applications. I also bought a small bluetooth gamepad to hopefully make this work. So when all is said and done, I in for about $50. Considerably less than the $300+ an Oculus Rift is going to cost, and I have it 6 months earlier. Of course the real question is, does the bloody thing work. The short answer is yes it does, the long answer is, yes it works, but there are some problems, this is not a consumer friendly setup.

First off, make sure you look closely at the headsets, not all of them are adjustable and don’t necessarily fit all sizes of phones. Not all of them leave an opening for the forward facing camera. Not all of them have adjustable lenses, which if you wear glasses, will be an absolute must, because you will not be able to wear your glasses with the headset. Make sure you know what you are getting and that it suits your purpose. Also be aware that these will likely be uncomfortable to wear, virtually all of them have complaints about the headsets hurting your nose, so be prepared to mod the headset with a foam nose guard.

Second, the vast majority of software built for this are demos, even the Google Cardboard app itself is nothing more than a cluster of demos. There are some games available, but so far most of them seem pretty limited with little long term play. I almost get the feeling no one is seriously developing for this platform simply because they are waiting for the Oculus Rift and everyone is just warming up for the big show.

However there is one app that extends the possibilities of whats to come. Trinus VR is software for streaming a game running on your desktop system to your phone. There are two pieces, the server software which you install on your desktop, which is free for the download and an Android client for your phone, which is $5. Of course the software is not perfect, for most games this simply means the phone is emulating a huge screen in front of your face rather than providing a real 3D environment. The other issue, is the head movement did not work in every game. Portal and Portal 2 worked great, moving my head let me look around the rooms. World of Warcraft on the other hand, head movement did nothing and I had to use keyboard and mouse for everything. It was also a bit fiddly to setup, they recommend a USB connection rather than a WiFi, but the WiFi was far easier to get working.

Overall, on a scale of 1 to 5, I would say this experience is a 2, meaning it is doable, but its not there yet, primarily it is the software that is the problem right now. Both the phones PezWitch and I use worked great, both handled the graphics just fine, and I do not think we taxed anything. I suspect Google cardboard will be a thing of the past by mid next year, unless Google goes all in does their own headset. The sad thing is, I really do think there is some potential here, all it would take is for some serious software development to take place. Unfortunately with the Rift on the way, this will fall the wayside most likely. Oh well, maybe the Rift or on of the knock offs will be under $200 by Christmas 2016.

I love Battle Mages

I especially love high level Battle Mages, aside from a straight up Fighter, the Battle Mage is my favorite class. Once a  Battle Mage hits 5th level they start being able to cast multiple spells per turn and gain the Spell Prep ability, which basically means a 10th level Battle Mage can send 5 Fireballs down range in a single turn, averaging 40 points per fireball and forcing 5 saving throws versus spell. Additionally, there is a good chance one of those rolls will exceed 50 points forcing a save versus death or die from massive damage. High level Battle Mages are a force of nature.

The problem of course is rarely do your fellow party member appreciate what you can do, especially if they are in the middle of the destruction. We had one of those incidents last night during the game. This is the post game conversation.

Chris (GM): Mercer gets GM award, because by god, I love a Battle Mage who wields spells of mass destruction with impunity.

Mercer: its why i am focusing on fire spells now, just fuck it

Jerard: before you start saying just fuck it the next time i lose 7/8 of my hp to one of your spells i am going to chop your head off

Tyenvinith: And I will chop your other head off

I was highly amused, but I don’t think they were.

FaceBook and Me

I have not culled my FaceBook friends in several years, I had actually allowed myself to get to 50 followers. I had become complacent because I found a functional way to manage posts from my FB friends through the use of lists. The problem was of course I ended up with a ghetto list where I put everyone I was not interested in and then I had a Work list, where I put everyone on that list on my restricted list so they could not see posts of questionable content. Basically, I was spending a lot of time managing what people see from me and what I saw from them. Over the last few weeks I have come to the conclusion that I should not have to do this, I should be willing to share my life with people on Facebook and in turn, I should enjoy the posts of those people with whom my relationship is primarily through FB. I am sure there is going to be some butt-hurt over this, but you know, whatever.