Saturday, February 27, 2010


Here is the campaign I am running for 4th Edition.
We'll see where it goes. Obsidian Portal looks mighty interesting, I hope my players use it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Every Vow You Break

I didn't really get how creepy the Police's HIT SINGLE "Every Breath You Take" was until I read Orson Scott Card's Lost Boys.
I understand why it's a hit single; it's sexy if Sting stalks you. Even if Sting's stalking you NOW, it's sort of sexy, in a Sean Connery sort of way.
It's super creepy though.
What if I'm stalking you?

Because I am. Due to Google Analytics, I'm watching all the clicks through my site. If people click on the links, I know where they're going from and to.

Normally it's useful for aggregate data and trendlines. Does topic A attract more readers than topic B? What are my ad impressions doing, od people actually click on that shit?

Due to my low number of readers, the aggregates don't make much sense.
But I do know where both of you live.

an underrated album

Clutch's Elephant Riders - released in 1998, it's still one of my favorite metal albums to throw in and rock out to.
The title track's howl -  "elllll aahhhhhhh phaannnnttt riders to the noooorth" is unmistakably Clutch, both as a band and concept.

The whole album reflects a groove sensibility blanketed in heavy guitar riffs and a driving bassline. It's a straight through, skip-no-songs sort of album, but if you're unfamiliar with Clutch and want a sampler, I'd steer you to the three following songs:
(1) Elephant Riders - otherwise you don't know what all the fuss is about. You can listen to this last, though; the Salty Dog is always open.
(2) Muchas Veces - I love the lyrics of this one. And it breaks down into this groove. . . "I went down to the riverside . . . "
Muchas Veces I don't know if I'm comin' or I'm goin' . . .
(3) Wishbone - burn it, rip it, or torrent it whole, no two ways about it get the song Wishbone (on the losing end)

Clutch's best album. Fun as hell.
And one of the songs is about a yeti.
I do have the time, albino wookie. Time to listen to some more Clutch.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Setting the stage

Today's the first Dungeons and Dragons campaign I've ran since I was a kid. I'm very excited, and pregnant with ideas.
The PCs are:
An elf ranger
A dragonborn warlord
A tiefling wizard
A rogue, I can't recall race (I think tiefling? elf? human?)
A paladin, maybe dwarf?

The intro they're getting is this:
They're all in the town of Feynburg in the northern end of a peninsula. The northern lands used to be civilized before the rise of the orcs two centuries ago; most of humanity is pushed back to a large peninsula to the south.
Feynburg is cradled in the foothills, and is a mining town near the mountain passes that keep the orcs at bay. Dwarven designed, the passes are impregnable as long as they're manned.
The whole province Feynburg belongs to, Mares, is known for its military tradition. Most of its GDP is spent on maintaining a military, and boasts some of the finest battle mages in humanity.
Its major trading port Valyra is 100 miles to the south, situated at the mouth of a river and the sea.

I'm letting the PCs choose their own backstories, of course, but I'd expect most are there for the war.
Rogues being rogues, profitability might be his motivation, who knows. I'll let them surprise me.

It should be fun; there's stuff going on in the world that will move outside of their involvement that will eventually pull them into a maelstrom.

May you live in interesting times.
These PCs are going to find out what that means, if they survive.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

iPad, schmiPad

While unimpressed by the iPad, I have been curious about the new netbooks. Moreso since I've been casting about lately for a new excuse on why I'm not writing.

Obviously, I haven't been writing enough because I need a new computer. There is a reality here that my office has no doors, so it's essentially off a hallway. I am adjacent to the kitchen and can hear the television in the living room.
Lots of external distractions.

But that's not the worst of it -
Instant Messenging, Facebook, Team Fortress, Plants vs Zombies, Dragon Age: Origins, Trine. . . these are bigger problems.

So there are two vectors of distraction: external and internetal.
Any solution needs to be two-pronged.
An office in the house with a door, and moving my computer up to it.

HEY WHAT IF I GOT A NEW COMPUTER I thought to myself in all capital letters. While helping my wife look for a new computer I saw the little eee PCs for under $400. $200 less than an iPad, with a camera.

Initially I thought I'd use Windows 7, but once I started puttering around on it - why bother? It's the Starter Edition, for fuck's sake. Crippled out of the box, and sluggish feeling on a low-powered machine like this one.

Instead, I blew it away for Ubuntu's Net Remix. I haven't had much of a chance to play with it yet, but it's a sleek little machine that has an important thing: no wireless. No fucking around on the internet right now. The machine is for writing strictly.

You're thinking I'm an idiot or a sucker for buying a netbook with no wireless. That's understandable; it kind of sounds like I'm justifying a swindling.

It had wireless before I installed Ubuntu. It could have wireless again. I'd have to open some terminal windows up, type some arcane stuff that I read in some forums, and maybe sacrifice a penguin. But it could have wireless.

I'm a computer geek. Puzzles fascinate me. Wireless not working on this netbook is a puzzle to solve. But solving it:

The cenobites are never far behind.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Get Off My Lawn, Indeed

Minesweeper IRL!
Money quote:
The 73-year-old had apparently been concerned about the frequent theft of potatoes from his farm.

Off to play board games at the Mystic Celt.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

buzz buzz buzz

I don't know what to think about Buzz yet. It has a ton of potential. Combining Yelp, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and (considered negative to many) email? That sort of convergence is welcome.

Its current functionality is too bare boned for my liking, and currently the signal-to-noise ratio sucks. I'm scanning stuff multiple times - reader, buzz, facebook, twitter on buzz and twitter linked to buzz. Hopefully Google's going to iterate and tone down the streams, or converge some of the functionality.

The default opt-in contacts visibility is a big mistake. Hopefully the big G's going to Not Be Evil and fix the default to opt-out.

The most common argument against Buzz is "privacy issues!"
The funniest vector for this is Facebook.
It's a Scientologist warning you against cults of personality.
It's a white supremacist complaining about reverse discrimination.

Facebook is the pits for privacy. With Facebook, you should assume any/all information you put up there is not only visible to FACEBOOK, but to any advertiser/person paying Facebook money.
The reason Facebook is free is because we're the product.
Facebook's major privacy problem is that you don't have control over who accesses your data. Anyone on your friends list authorizes a malicious app, and it scrapes YOUR info.

I rate Google as preferable to Facebook in terms of privacy. (I'd rather the bear eat me than the tiger) I've mentioned it before - the internet isn't private.

I think the real problem people are having with Google Buzz is it breaches the demarcation of social network and real life.
Email's more connected to real life, while Facebook is bullshit. Most of the friends we have on FB aren't real friends, they're acquaintances. Our Facebook inbox isn't a real inbox, otherwise nitwits wouldn't spam it so much.

Google's just thrown back the curtain; the life you live on the internet may be hidden by an alias or three - I'm GoingTharn or Dances With Winnebagos or el-ahrairah depending on where you find me in cyberspace. But really, I'm John Barry. That's why I'll never talk about hitting my wife here, or doing heroin at lunch on Fridays, or all the racist rallies* I've been organizing in my free time. That shit's private!

If you don't want it known about you, don't share it. The internet's horrible at keeping secrets.

EDIT: Of course, google's on top of it making this post obsolete as fast as the one I wrote about switching costs.
Also, see? Iteration! This is a very good software design pattern.

* it's not what it sounds like - it's whites-only rally races in the desert.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fish and Guests

"I think I owe you an apology. I think I forgot to flush yesterday. I'm sorry, I was just getting a ton of phone calls."
This was an actual sentence I heard from my houseguest this morning. I just stared at him. I didn't know where to begin; his sentence implied cause and effect.
Namely, due to his phone calls, he failed to flush a toilet.

Three weeks ago: we get a call from said guest. I'll call him William to protect the innocent. William called us because he needed a place to stay for a couple of days. He was moving back to the city and needed a temporary base of operations to find a place.
William is a good guy, but he's weird.
Trustworthy to a fault, and a great guy to have on your side.
But weird.
The police have mistaken him for homeless on more than one occasion, in more than one state. This is a reasonable assumption. William is a pack rat; he accumulates bicycles, owning three in Chicago pieced together from five found discarded in the trash. He is the man from Cormac McCarthy's The Road, living in a post-apocalyptic ruin where one must scavenge to survive. He creeps through alleys, picking through dumpsters for things of worth.
Let me stress again, he's weird. Not homeless.
My wife is going to be out of town the time he would need to stay with us. She tells him I'd be ok with it.
I love my wife.
Poor Richard said, "Fish and visitors smell in three days." Three days would have been perfect. Day 6 is a little strained.
Here's the adventures in weirdness thus far.
First night's pretty normal; he gets in late but not too late, I tell him he's welcome to the guest room. He says great, and falls asleep on the couch without sheets. This is funny more than horrifying to me, as it will horrify my wife when I tell her. Andrea's got a thing about people sleeping on the couch, regardless of who it is. So weird episode 1 is sort of a wash for me - it was entertaining.

Episode 2: he leaves for work the second day after taking a shower. I go into the bathroom, and toilet paper is caked to the bottom of the shower stall. Lots of it. I can only speculate. Did he dry off with the toilet paper? Did one of the cats unroll part of it and drag it into the shower? Did, God help me, he wash it off of his body and if so where was it on his body?! WHY WAS THERE SO MUCH OF IT IN THERE???? I'm too afraid to ever ask because it would be like reading the Book of the Dead: the knowledge would drive me mad. This is the second day he is at my house, and I chalk it up as a fluke.

Episode 3: the same evening he's home early, and offers to buy dinner. Sure thing! We order some Thai food. He falls asleep sitting up while eating dinner. In any other one of my friends this would be remarkable. After episode #2, this is minor league shit.

Episode 4: his phone rings at 6 AM. It's not the Macarena, but that's the song that gets stuck in my head. It rings again, ten minutes later. I should have put it together that he was using it for an alarm and it wasn't someone calling him at that hour, but it was 6 o'clock in the fucking morning and I wasn't thinking clearly. This one isn't so much weird, as just a visitor smell.

Episode 5: I get ready for bed, and lift the toilet lid to void my bladder. The smell punches me in the face, and the sight is like all of the shock-sites on the web combined. Tub-girl meets meets lemonparty meets meatspin. The stew that is floating in my toilet bowl immediately conjures an image of the asshole that poured it out (that's the only way this came into being - pouring) and it's one sick asshole. I can only assume he was eating beets and asparagus the day prior. The smell escapes like demons from Pandora's box and permeates the entire second floor. I'm surprised the carbon monoxide detector doesn't go off. I fall asleep/lose consciousness in a melange of Oust! and William Stew, neither quite overpowering the other. Anti-aromatherapy. This was day 4. Poor Richard giggled in my head.

Episode 5: as I lay unconcious from the fumes, William calls at 11 PM to let me know he's coming home, in case I was worried. He leaves a voicemail message where he suddenly realizes calling this late might be waking me up, and apologizes. This causes my phone to ring its voicemail chime, but I'm as good as chloroformed.

Episode 6: Day 5, 6 AM. His phone starts playing the not-Macarena that gets the Macarena stuck in my head (heyyy, macarena!), Ace of Bass just ruining any chance of having a tolerable day. It shuts off, and plays again ten minutes later. The youngest cat, Vlad, decides it's play-time and people are getting up, and begins playing with his noisiest toy. I'm consoled that this was five feet from William's head. I realize today his phone is his alarm, and later in the morning ask him to turn it off.

This brings us back to the beginning.
"I think I owe you an apology. I think I forgot to flush yesterday. I'm sorry, I was just getting a ton of phone calls."

I gibbered, and fled my house before the workers arrived.