Thursday, December 20, 2007


Here is a nice audio Sci-Fi geek test. Try and beat my awesome score.

Your Score : 85 credits
You're an extreme sci-fi geek! You're probably wearing your very own homemade TRON costume right now!

Take the Sci fi sounds quiz I received 85 credits on
The Sci Fi Sounds Quiz

How much of a Sci-Fi geek are you?
Guess the Sci-Fi Movie Sounds hereCanon powershot

Thanks to the wonderful ~J for the link.


The other day a user came to me and said she had an IP Address conflict warning on her computer. That is really weird since I hadn’t cleared the DHCP server cache lately so there should be no conflicts on my network at all. I went over and sure enough she had reported the error correctly. I did a quick ipconfig release and renew and watched what happened next. Within a minute she received the error again. Hmmmm, I thought, something is going on here.

I set the user to use a manually configured IP in a space I knew was free on my network and went to work sleuthing.

We had recently installed a device we are testing called the Cymphonix network composer. It’s basically a really fancy proxy server that sits in line between your LAN and your firewall. It sniffs all the traffic on the switch and builds a database of devices that allow the administrator to create rules for Internet access for different users and systems.

This was a good time to see what it had learned over the last few days. Armed with the MAC address from the event log on the users system I looked for any reference to this device in my composer database. *ping sound* There it was, and even more interesting it had a service port open. Port 21, that is FTP. Nice.

I opened an FTP client to the port and got a login prompt. I tried several of the more common username and passwords and got nowhere. Hmmmm, I thought, time to dig deeper. Examining the login prompt I noticed something that looked like a LinkSys product ID. A quick Google search revealed that this device was most likely a LinkSys wireless router. I peeked over on my Available Wireless networks and sure enough – there is a brand new Linksys wireless network visible. Unfortunately it was secured so I couldn’t log in to gain any more information.

Next step was to block it at the firewall. Using its MAC address I was able to block any and all packets to and from that device right at my border. That secured my network and would cause trouble for anyone connecting to the device wirelessly – at least as far as accessing the rest of the world.

Step the third, try and find the beast. I got on the switches and started looking in the tables there for a MAC address and a port number combination. I soon learned that the MAC address was coming from one of the ports on the second floor. We had recently sub-let almost the entire second floor to others but I had been lazy and not disconnected all the patch cords from the second floor hub. Grabbing the key I trundled downstairs to the switch closet and removed and coiled all the cords between my switch and offices I was no longer responsible for.

Back upstairs in my office I checked again for the offending FTP server… it was no longer on the network. YAY! I reset the user and all was good.

Lesson to learn here though is remove the physical access from unneeded ports. If this device had been configured properly so that it didn’t conflict with one of my users it would have taken ages for me to notice its presence, allowing whoever set it up to use our internet connection at will.

I’m not sure if it’s a rogue device or a rouge device because I’m not as smart as Roy (Ugh, which is a reference to one of the Order of the Stick (which I have written about before) comics but it's a print only one so I can't link to it but here is a link to todays comic), but I promise that if I ever find it I’ll put some red on its cheeks so that it’s both.

Friday, December 07, 2007


I'm not trying to be all Dr. Who all the time, really, I'm not. It's just that it has seemed to come up rather a lot for me lately. Recently I was sent this link by one of my friends and I've totally been geeking over this one.

Like I've mentioned before my favorite Dr. was Peter Davison. The new seasons being done by the BBC have been great. I think both of the Drs. that they have cast (Christopher Eccleston as Dr. number nine and David Tennant as number ten) have been very fun in their own ways. And both of them have captured enough of the flavor of the other doctors to make them very believable as the Dr.

Anyway, back to the link. The BBC has produced a 7 minute webisode that fits in between their current programming gap to hype up the return of the show on Christmas. And what do you know it stars both Peter Davison revising his role as the fifth (and like i said my favorite) doctor and David Tennant again as the tenth doctor. Enjoy....

And for your amusement and edification here is a complete list of all the doctors.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


While this isn't really a web quiz I also couldn't resist rating my actual blog.

Tip of the hat to the lovely and talented ~J for finding this for me.

cash advance

Get a Cash Advance


I was reading over on Blues News today, which I am wont to do. There was a link to an article on a site called that I had never heard of. I don't know anything about I don't know what their biases are or what they usually cover. I don't know who writes for them, or what any of their industry affiliations (if any) are. However, the title of the article listed on Blues News really caught my eye. It said "The Greatest Video Game Intros of All Time."

WOW! I instantly reviewed in my head my all time favorite game intros and then clicked the link and was astoundingly disappointed because none of my favorites made the list.

Most game intros don't hold up well. Even the good ones aren't worth very many repeats. I always watch them at least once to see if they are any good but there are a very few that I will watch over and over. There are even fewer that I've thought about after the fact and wondered if I could just watch them again and again and even previously done some hunting for in the past.

Well isn't progress grand? Thanks to the Internet i was able to quickly locate two of my top three favorites.

Mechwarrior 2

Mechwarrior 2: Ghost Bears Legacy

I also enjoyed watching the intro to X-COM: Terror from the Deep as well but I was unable to find a video for it online. It shows an alien submarine tracking and sinking a surface ship and then the launch of X-COM interceptors. Also a very fun movie. You can apparently pick up X-COM: TFTD from Steam these days. Details can be found here at the Home of the Underdogs.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I recently played and reviewed a game called Alpha Prime. The review is now up and available for general consumption at Strategy Informer.

The review in a nutshell: It's mediocre.

OK there you go... but in order to get all the wonderful clever comments you will have to go to the link and read the full review.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I’ve mentioned before how I’m playing City of Heroes with my friends and also how I’ve never really groked super heroes. It’s just not my thing. I have no ranks in Knowledge (geek comics). Lots of other Knowledge (geek other stuff) ranks but just not the super hero comic genre.

But that didn’t stop me from taking a which super hero are you web quiz. Two of them even.

Your results:
You are Robin

The Flash
Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
Iron Man
Young and acrobatic.
You don't mind stepping aside
to give someone else glory.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

I’m not sure how I feel about being Robin. I mean part of it works since I do often prefer to play the support roles in most of my games anyway so I can see me being an assistant superhero instead of the superhero. But, I'm pretty sure I left my acrobatic days behind me - well for given definitions of acrobatic, I suppose. So Robin will work for me, just as long as the Batman isn’t to scary.

Next I followed the link to which supervillian are you? This turned out to be:
Your results:

Your results:
You are The Joker

The Joker
Dr. Doom
Mr. Freeze
Green Goblin
Lex Luthor
Dark Phoenix
Poison Ivy
The Clown Prince of Crime. You are a brilliant mastermind but are criminally insane. You love to joke around while accomplishing the task at hand.

Click here to take the Super Villain Personality Test

The Joker – hehehehe – not bad. I do tend to tell jokes and have fun (even goofy fun) while getting things done although I think the Joker is rather more over the top and malicious than I tend to be. I’m a kinder gentler Joker I guess so that is a sometimes fit.

Friday, November 09, 2007


I like the TV show Dr. Who. *boing boing boing big surprise alert* OK yes not a shock really. The iconic Dr. Who was Tom Baker.

Everyone seems to remember the scarf and long heavy coat. I really do like him a lot. But my favorite doctor was Peter Davison

OK now it’s going to seem like I’m changing gears here so hold on….

I’m playing a game called City of Heroes with my friends. It’s a massively multiplayer game where the players take on the persona of super heroes and fight the hordes of teaming villains running around the city streets.

The game itself is like most of the MMORPGs…. Basically it’s just Massively Multiplayer Whack-A-Mole. Game play wise it doesn’t do much for me. I never really got into comic books and the whole super hero thing. My tastes run more to high fantasy and science fiction. I have absolutely no interest in playing it when my friends aren’t online.

The parts of the game that they do best are the costume design phases and the ability to play with friends even when there are many levels in differences between you. I love being able to play with my friends and not worry about being out leveled and becoming a useless fifth wheel like I’ve felt in previous MMORPGS. Some of the missions are interesting and the special events are fun.. Things like killing some super-giant-deadly villain or the Halloween event or what not. The rest is just whack-a-mole.

So in the most recent Halloween event the reward for picking up some special salvage was an additional costume slot and like I said I like the costume design part of this game.

One more gear change then we’re there….

My primary character on CoH is called Cherenkov Glow. When you design characters you can pick from a primary and a secondary power set. I had heard that there were radiation power sets and having some familiarity with radiation and nuclear power decided to use them for my character. I was somewhat disappointed to discover that all the radiation effects are an icky green instead of the more accurate and really cool very pale blue… the blue color of Cherenkov radiation to be precise.

Cherenkov has three costume slots now. I have my bunny outfit, my fairly normal laboratory scientist looking outfit and now proudly presenting (and not to mention bringing all the threads back home) my new Peter Davison Dr. Who outfit.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I have a very talented friend who kindly upgraded my engineering art page into a really cool new site. Thank you very very much Kelly - you teh awesme! Her amazing work can be found here:


My sense of humor is often simple and direct. I can crack myself up by just about anything. I'll often remember a joke I heard or a comic I read hours after encountering it and just start giggling to myself. This isn't to say I don't appreciate and enjoy sophisticated comedy as well but some types of humor find an easier path to the giggle ganglions in my brain.

So it should not surprise you that I love the lolspeak sites. They totally crack me up. The first one I found was Icanhazcheezburger but since then I've discovered Meme cats as well as a few other less active sites.

There is something about the cute little kitteh faces coupled with the often snarky comments that just tweaks my cognitive dissonance funny bone. You can even teach yourself how to lolspeak by taking this easy online kitteh as a second language course.

However, in my lolspeak googling I stumbled across a masterpiece of long form lolspeak. A retelling of the classic Trouble With Tribbles story done in lolspeak. Without any further ado I give you:

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Well, I can't claim to be breaking the news since the first offical post was up on Paperclippings but I can confirm it. Last night my wonderful dear friend ~J agreed to marry me and I couldn't be happier. And while our secret identites as Bunny and Kitty remain hidden I have created a (full of engineer art) web page for us here but it does have lots of pictures of bunnies and kitties in case you need them.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Sometimes things are just to neat not to share. This is one of those things.

This is the comet Encke. It's official name is 2P/Encke and was named that way because it was the very second periodic comet discovered (The first was halleys) and because its period was determined by the astronomer Johann Franz Encke.

The picture above is a link to a time lapse move on the Astronomy Picture of the Day site. Each frame is approximately 45 minutes apart. It shows the comet being approached and passed by a coronal mass ejection. As the mass passes the comet it rips the tail right along with it. The APOD site states that the tail was probably ripped off by the magnetic forces in the coronal mass ejection and not the physical interaction - which is in itself interesting since that implies that the tail is electrically charged. I always thought it was evaporated matter from the comet itself - but perhaps it is, rather, some ion.

EDIT: found this story about it too - adds more to what could have happened to that poor tail.

Monday, September 24, 2007

PSSST.... Hey, buddy.....

..... Wanna try a web quiz?

Well you know that I do. This one vectored by my girlfriend and good friend ~J. Our results show us as quite the pair - and really - that is no surprise. We are busy learning that IRL and probably don't need a web quiz to confirm it - but it is very amusing to see. A previous web quiz had us as a bunny and kitty and we've definitely adopted that for ourselves and have had just a wonderful time with it. The secret of who is a bunny and who is a kitty is left as an exercises for the student.

You are The Hierophant

Divine Wisdom. Manifestation. Explanation. Teaching.

All things relating to education, patience, help from superiors.The Hierophant is often considered to be a Guardian Angel.

The Hierophant's purpose is to bring the spiritual down to Earth. Where the High Priestess between her two pillars deals with realms beyond this Earth, the Hierophant (or High Priest) deals with worldly problems. He is well suited to do this because he strives to create harmony and peace in the midst of a crisis. The Hierophant's only problem is that he can be stubborn and hidebound. At his best, he is wise and soothing, at his worst, he is an unbending traditionalist.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Final Fantasy Character Test

Which Final Fantasy Character Are You?

Reno. Apparently I am Reno. I have no idea who this character is. Should I be happy to have this comparison with me? I like the playful part but not sure about the cocky description. I would have said of myself – playful and shy maybe.

In case it’s not painfully obvious yet, I don’t play FF games. I am a long time PC gamer. One of my favorite types of games are the RPGs. I’ve been playing them on my computer as long as I’ve been able to. Now, this means that I’ve been playing western style RPG games. My first exposure to the Eastern style came shortly after I started working at a company making PS1 games, Singletrac. I had never had a game console up to that point.

(Tangent: well that is not strictly true – my computer gaming development went like this: Intellivision -> Apple IIc -> IBM PC so technically I have had a game console before this point).

Anyway, shortly after starting work at this company I found myself with several PS1 games and nothing to play them on – so I got myself a play station. Our games were pretty darn cool but they weren’t really my favorite genre and after the novelty of playing things that I had contributed to (although in a minor way – I am infrastructure not production but my name IS in the credits and that is totally wicked cool). I started looking around for something else to play on this system.

FF7 had come out fairly recently and according to the marketing onslaught and the scuttlebutt at work it was the big daddy RPG of the PS1. So one day I came home with it. I loaded the game up and started trying to play it. I thought the movie sequence at the beginning was pretty darn cool but then came this train ride. Holy heck – would this thing never end? Read click x, read click x, read click x, oh no panic run to another car, read click x, read click x, read click x, oh no panic and jump out of the train.

The game felt…..weird. I had a hard time identifying with the characters and it was clearly something I was watching not something I was being. I’m not sure if it was the culture differences that did that to me or just the style of game play. I never felt that I was the hero, ummmmmm Ash? Rokuku? Reno? Whatever. I never felt that I was the hero, what’s his name.

The other thing that bothered me was the stylized combat. I think I could have managed to swallow that after a while. But during this learning curve when I was struggling with the strangeness of the game and trying to decide if I wanted to go where the designers wanted me to go I ran into the weirdest thing of all. I was attacked by a house.

Apparently, somewhere along the line I had angered the house gods and they sent a sentient angry house to get me. It shoot bombs out of its chimney and bounced around cheerfully trying to kill me, the hero Toshiba, errrr whatever my name was.

I could no longer take it. I never even tried to finish that battle. I turned the game right off and have never played any FF game again.

I was watching my son play Paper Mario this weekend and reflecting on how similar the style of the game was – especially during the combats and do you know what? I don’t regret walking away from FF at all. I guess I’m just not cut out for eastern style RPGs. I’ll stick with something more serious like the Fallouts, and Baldurs Gates and heck even stupid ones with auto leveled creatures like Oblivion over the option of following Fuji, errr, whatever his name was around the planet Surreal.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


By now anyone into the PC gaming scene has heard about the ridiculous anti-piracy methods that were implemented in BioShock. And while the SecureROM protection is certainly not a root-kit, it does install software without explicit permission from the user and it makes the assumption that anyone who installs the games is a bad evil crook.

The purpose of this software is to attempt to control how many times the game can be installed before requiring the user to contact tech support, beg forgiveness for to many installs, and receive another serial number.

I was planning on getting a hold of this game. I am not willing to pay for the privilege of being treated like a thief.

(OK, well technically I DID play for the privilege to BE a thief before, hmmmm)

Anyway, this is a game that I was seriously excited for. I am a huge fan of the System Shock and System Shock 2 games. BioShock was touted as a spiritual successor to these games. I did install the demo and geeked out over it since the game play reminded me strongly of my old SS memories.

I’ll go no more into this because it’s been discussed by much cleverer people than I.

But, the thing that I keep wondering about is how this decision was made. I keep imagining a conference room filled with clueless morons and deciding that it couldn’t possibly have happened that way. The people making the decision to treat legitimate users as plundering hordes must have been made by intelligent and educated people. How then, could they have made such a stupid mistake? What could have blinded them to the fact that the only people who will be harmed by this decision are the legitimate users? How could they have thought that the people engaged in software piracy won’t just remove any protections?

I suppose someone must have made the analogy of putting a home alarm system on your house. The point of a home security system (for most people) is to shift the risk reward ratio so that bad guys will choose to rob the house next door instead. This strategy actually works pretty well for a situation where there are multiple targets of equivalent value.

If this was the thinking they choose to use then they were wildly wrong. Each piece of software is a unique target. Thinking that the pirates will just hack someone else program instead is a serious logical blunder.

Anyway, since I never finished Oblivion, after removing the Bioshock demo and all traces of SecureROM from my system I re-installed it. I guess I’ll just play that instead.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I’ve heard some stories about people that blog about their works and get in trouble for it. So this is definitely not about my work in any way. In fact it was something that happened to someone else. In another work place far away. At a completely different era than mine. Ummm, on a different planet. It, errrr, all came to me in a dream where the ad was shot in the server room, ahh, in my dream.


Anyway, I got to watch part of the process of creating a TV advertisement the other day. I’ve seen lots of ads on TV. I mean, who hasn’t? They are everywhere. I have never seen one shot before though. On TV the ads take 10 to 60 seconds and, if they are done well, are seamless and smooth. The reality behind that is wildly different than the perception.

The server room I have has a nice big glass window and someone along the line decided it was a perfect setting for an ad they had come up with. I got involved by first of all being asked to clean it up. *grin* Yeah, this dream had me spending some time cleaning a room.

On the day of the shoot crew members started showing up around 11 AM. They had a truck. A big truck. They started wheeling huge carts loaded with stuff to the lobby of the building and prowling around looking at lights and angles and windows. The evicted one worker from her cube and I opened the server room for them. I pointed out the things to please not touch and the things that were OK to use taking care to point which power outlets were on different circuits and therefore available for them to use – no problem they said there is a generator they will use for their own power anyway.

They then commenced to setup lights. And reflectors. And filters. And giant pieces of cardboard. And cables. And signs. And a giant camera. And lots of tape to hold everything in place. All in all I counted 20 crew members working on setting up.

The actors showed up and were cast – three made the show the rest were sent off. Two girls came and setup a bunch of chips and soda and crackers. I watched people asking them for gum and to help with tasks on the set. I guess they have the entry level job that gets all the little tasks. Props were set up and the lighting was completed in my server room. I have never seen my server room look so cool with the spiffy red and blue glows coming from it.

It was now approximately 2 PM. Makeup had been applied, angles chosen, and props setup. The actors were in place and the director called for rehearsal. .About an hour later they were ready to for actual shoots of the ad. Places were taken again and off they went.

Frankly, I couldn’t tell much of a difference between rehearsals and takes except that there was slightly less fiddling between each attempt. This is where my brush at fame almost occurred. The art director decided that he wanted someone walking in the hallway opposite the actors and asked me to come along. I was supposed to walk down the hallway and give the actor a bored hi five as he passed. WOOHHH! That was cool – I’ve never been filmed like that so it was exciting. We did four takes with me doing that before the art director said that it wasn’t working for him and they asked me to leave. Drat – so close to fame and fortune. Oh well I’ll have to stay with the salt mines.

Finally, around 4 they had finished and gave each other a round of applause and put everything away. All this was for about 15 seconds of film. I have no idea how much goes into post production, not to mention the rest of the ad with all the phone numbers to call and the rest of the pitch.

This whole experience gave quite an insight into what goes into producing the calls we all see every day to buy things or to choose this product over another, or to a certain course of action. What looks simple on the surface is simply the veneer over a complex and time consuming process requiring hundreds of man hours to create a few seconds of viewing time.

My server room never looked as good as it did on the TV monitor that day. That is a lesson I’ll take from this experience.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


chorus: Hi Drake.

....and I'm a blog addict.

With a tip of the proverbial and electronic hat to ~J here is the latest in my on going quest to add every even mildly amusing web quiz in the world to my Blog.

57%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Minneapolis Singles from Mingle2

I'm not sure I entirely agree with it since I don't think I blog _that_ much but it may be weighted heavily on just having one that gets semi regular posts. I'm averaging about 5 posts per month right now, which is below the goal I had when I restarted this (trying to hit more like 8 posts per month). In addition to that, though, I regularly check several blogs in my favorites list every day to see if there is anything new.

I thought I would have a lower score because I don't use a feed aggregator or RSS / Atom type feed to keep track of blogs I like. Instead, I just roll through my favorites list at lunch time checking up on sites.

Monday, August 06, 2007


I have absolutely no topic burning a figurative hole in my mind to write about today. Well, that’s a pretty good thing I guess. I mean I really don’t want anything to burn an actual hole in my head and I suppose that if it were I wouldn’t be in the mood to write about it anyway.

Sometimes, I just feel the need to start writing something down. This weekend I had a little bit of time when my kids were away and the house was quiet and I had finished what I was reading and I hadn’t written in a while and the journal was right there and and and. I wrote a page of stuff and learned a little bit about myself in the process

Anyway, writing is usually an enjoyable process for me. Sometimes I’ll write something just because I want to write. See todays entry for example.

Sometimes, I’ll write because I can’t figure out what I’m thinking. No seriously, I sometimes have no idea what I’m thinking about or feeling and in order to get in touch with that I have to start pouring it out on paper….errr or electrons. Whatever.

The process of making the fingers try and express what is going on in my head forces a … well not a simplification… but a crystallization. I can no longer just feel or think I have to express. This flows the mental stuff through a filter of language. That process of filtering often gives me insight into what the heck it is I am feeling.

Plus there is a power to naming your thoughts and feelings. Once they are named and described you can look at them and decide to keep them or not. You can more easily see where they came from. You can choose to change them or just accept them as they are.

I think that this crystallization process is probably the reason people are encouraged to write journals or do any therapeutic writing. It’s important to get in touch with your own feelings before you can relate to anyone elses or even to handle your own with any skill.

The writing on this blog is for fun. It is almost like scratching an itch to sit down and compose something and put it up. Maybe it’ll never get read (heh heh except I know I’m in several friends RSS feeds so it WILL get read) but that isn’t the point anyway. I love that people read it – it’s a fulfilling feeling but the primary point of writing here is just for fun.

Writing for fun is therapeutic as well. It’s important to take some time to do the things we enjoy. Spending even a few moments doing something just because it’s fun for you to do is extremely healthy. It sends a message to your brain that you like you. And this sub-conscious message acts to improve your mood and your outlook on life and strengthens yourself image and confidence. These all have positive effects on your relationships and other bits and pieces of your life.

So I’ll keep writing every now and then thanks for tuning in.

Friday, July 27, 2007


I was talking with a wonderful friend the other day about some of my favorite books and mentioned how the one non-church book I had taken with me on my mission was Neuromancer by William Gibson. This was is 1989 but I had just recently discovered this book first published in 1984 and subsequently winning the Hugo, Nebula and Phillip K. Dick awards.

Neuromancer was for me, a ground breaking book. I had read a great deal of science fiction and fantasy up to that point in my life but this book had such a different feel than what I had read before. The scenery descriptions were very wordy and elaborate. The characters were believable and easily imagined and yet they seemed sparse as if there were hidden depths to them that were merely hinted at. The mythos of cyberpunk created an atmosphere was moody and disturbing and yet not completely hopeless for me.

That was my first exposure to cyberpunk and it’s still my favorite example of the genre. For a time there were quite a few cyberpunk like stories being published but that has since slowed or stopped. Some of my favorite cyberpunk style authors are the aforementioned Gibson, of course, and Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Neal Stephenson, George Alex Effinger, and Phillip K. Dick. Some of L.E. Modesett Jrs future books have a cyberpunk undertone to them and the influence of the genre can be found in many modern Sci-Fi stories although often without the darker view of the future that characterizes most cyberpunk.

One of the most appealing things to me that this style of story had to me was how “chewy” the stories were. These were not light, happy, and goofy stories but they were serious and dark. They often showed individuals with a profound lack of control over their lives struggling to find peace with their external realities and find a measure of control or safety. Not that there weren’t moments that weren’t laugh out loud funny but that the feel of the story was heavier.

The first anime series that I’ve ever really liked (many others were OK or pleasant to watch but this one is compelling and induces a desire to rapidly promote the next disk up my Netflix queue after each viewing) is Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex has a definite cyberpunk flavor to it. This series is feeding my need for chewy stories lately.

Funny enough, thinking about the other books I’ve liked in the light of these musing on cyberpunk reminded me of the fictional detective stories of Phillip Marlowe by Raymond Chandler. Those stories were also heavy on the descriptions and hinted at complex and imperfect heroes. Those stories also had a protagonist who was searching for his own measure of peace and control in a world that was hard to understand – leaving him somewhat jaded.

While I love all sorts of stories and read voraciously I often find my favorites to be the flavorful and chewy stories like the ones I discovered when I found cyberpunk.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


A few years ago I was introduced to the Enneagram method of personality testing. This is a fascinating construct of personality types created by Don Riso and Russ Hudson. Its premise is that there are nine major personality types that people can fall into. It further posits that there are nine levels of health within each major personality type with distinct and noticeable behaviors and attitudes at each level. Finally, it rounds out the personality descriptions by adding a “wing” to each personality type. (That was my description, their description is here.) Let me illustrate with my type:

My predominant personality type is #9, the Peacemaker.
free enneagram test

The easy-going, self-effacing type. Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. At their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.

I knew I was a nine when I was reading the book and ran across a description of the 9 personality type that described nines as someone taking a bike ride through a beautiful park on a lovely day. They are admiring the scenery and the people and the whole experience of the ride, with no one aspect rising above the other. The nine is so into the entirety of the experience that they don’t notice that both tires on the bike are flat. They are getting somewhere but not efficiently and without being aware of themselves.

That fit me perfectly; I’m perfectly able to ignore problems by immersing myself into the rest of the experience of life. Much of the rest of the descriptions of the nine also fits me well. In the book each personality type is also given nine levels of health.

I’m not the “At their Best” level of health but I do believe I’m on the healthy side, I would put myself at level 3 of the 9. I am reasonably in touch with my feelings and instincts (being out of touch is a flaw that nines are vulnerable to) and have managed to become more of myself in the process. Ironically, it was by becoming more into me that I have been able to become more aware of others and more able to support and nurture them. It has also given me increased motivation to pursue my own interests and hobbies and passions.

The nine has two potential wings. A wing is a tendency towards one of the personality types on either side of your primary type. So my potential wings are 8 and 1. Type 1 is the Reformer – a rational and idealistic personality type. Type 8 is the Challenger – a challenging and domineering confident personality. I have a weak one wing – which oddly is labeled the Comfort Seeker in the book – which is also a fairly accurate description.

This whole process of learning the personality types was a very powerful tool for me. I needed an intellectual framework to understand my own ways of thinking because at the time I learned these I was very out of touch with my own feelings and thoughts. Having a structure to attempt to compare my own thinking against opened my eyes to how I think – not just what I was thinking and gave me practice learning what I was feeling instead of reacting to my feelings without even knowing what they were.

I suppose these types of tests aren’t for everyone. But I found it a wonderful tool for understanding myself and those around me. You can take a free sample test here if you are interested in learning more. The sample test isn't scientific like their complete battery but it will likely give you a good idea of your primary personality type.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I’m a terrible speller. I always have been. Anyone that has ever had an IM conversation with me can attest that I still am a bad speller. I think, in fact, that had it been popular when I was young I would have been diagnosed with a case of dyslexia. My spelling grades used to give my teachers fits. I love books and reading and I would read at any opportunity in school. During reading time I would read ahead of the class. During math or science or whatever, I would often have a book open below the desk and be reading. I remember several times being singled out to please pay attention now because I got lost in a book I was reading and never realized that free reading time was now over.

I’m still not a very good speller and I’m often grateful for the spell checkers that can even correct my spellings of BOOGA. Even with that electronic crutch I’ve managed to self correct a number of errors by simply learning the patterns of the letters through repetition. If I pound something in long enough I eventually learn it.

You may have seen this link before where it claims that spelling is irrelevant as long as the first and last letters are correct in any given word. This works because the human brain is very very good at finding patterns in chaos.

But the fact remains that this type of communication is chaotic. It takes much longer to parse the meaning of the paragraph than it would if it were spelled properly. And what is the point of deliberately slow communication?

In addition since it disregards any of the rules of the language it would be impossible to decipher a new word. Try taking a chemical name and reading it that way. Deoxyribonucleic is easy to read even if you don’t know what it is because it follows the rules of pronunciation. You can read it out loud correctly and someone that knows what it means can explain it to you. Mixing up the letters into a jumble will just slow down the ability to communicate for those who already know the word and prevent anyone who doesn’t already know it from learning it at all.

Friday, July 06, 2007


I love web quizzes. I've had a lots a fun with them and some of them are even surprisingly accurate (and fun!)in predicting personality types. This is the second one that was a quiz for my blog. I found this one on Amber Nights blog. Based on the use of key words in my blog this site is now officially rated:

Free Online Dating

So ok, take the kids right on out of the... oh, wait. I mean... Never mind. Like I said no surprise with this rating. At the same site there was a Zombie Survival guide which I also took. It rated me as having a 40% survival chance in a zombie apocalypse. I think i scored low because I'd probably try and find those I loved to help them in such a situation instead of hunkering down in the closest inescapable basement.

Monday, July 02, 2007


I’m not sure if I should be impressed by what users can do to games or appalled by it. Well, OK, mostly I’m impressed but just a tiny bit worried that game developers will take this as a license to not craft their games carefully.

Let me speak to specifics. A while back I mentioned a review of the game UFO:ET. I ended up with a 7.2 score for the game out of 10. This is a respectable score indicating a well built game with some noticeable flaws but nothing that ruins the experience.

After finishing the review I started looking around for any patches or mods that could improve my experience. I was very pleasantly surprised to find one called “BMAN UFO mod” that actually combines several other user created modifications along with Bmans own mods into one large mod pack.

The game experience with these mod packs is much better than just the straight release was. There are multiple key improvements but my favorites were the inclusion of keyboard shortcuts for common tactical activities like standing up or kneeling down, the ability to reserve time for a snap or burst shot, the inclusion of line of sight (LOS) indicators, and the ability to hire and fire squaddies.

In addition to these there are many, many more enhancements and bug fixes. All of the enhancements are controllable using a new menu system that was also modded right into the game.

It was interesting to note that when the first official game patch was released many of these fixes and improvements were also included – requiring BMan to change his mod pack to remove many of the, now redundant, fixes and enhancements.

I like that games can be changed to suit the user. My enjoyment of UFO:ET is much greater now that it was in its initial release because of the work of these modders. I’ve very much enjoyed the user created content for Neverwinter Nights and other games.

The only qualm I have is a worry that game developers (or rather their overlords) may push to release an incomplete, buggy, or poorly executed game secure in the knowledge that if the license or game play gains enough interest that the user community will modify it to work correctly. That certainly couldn’t happen with most games but things that fit into rabid niche markets (like this X:COM clone or what about the upcoming Fallout 3) will rely on users to fix the problems that shouldn’t belong to them.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I’m a weird flyer. I’m enough of a nerd that I love to look out the windows and look at all the planes I can see. I can identify many of them when I’m at the airport. I don’t enjoy socializing on planes so I always have a book and an iPod deployed defensively.

I imagine in my head the stages of the taxi and takeoff and the landings. When we rotate, go air borne and gears up I have a tendency to mutter those things under my breath. (With my typical mutter I probably sound demon possessed. My neighbors probably just hear “KILL KILL KILL” or something so maybe that is a defense against making an “airplane friend” too.)

I’ve had to travel from Salt Lake to the Santa Anna, (or John Wayne) airport quite a few times for my work. I’ve become rather familiar with that airport. It has some unusual qualities. The runway in Irvine is rather small and I’ve never seen any craft larger than a 737 there.

One of the fun things at that airport are the low noise take offs. Because the take off heads off right over Newport Beach (read expensive property) they are required to make a low noise take off. This means for 737’s that you firewall the throttles to get up off the ground, climb as hard and fast as you can and then as you reach the expensive property throttle way back and stop climbing until you are out over the ocean. This gives a nice falling sensation to the stomachs of everyone on the plane so they give warnings before this maneuver to prevent panic.

Because the runway is so short in Irvine pilots need to stick the landing right at the leading edge and slow down quickly. This has lead to quite a few bumpy landings as pilots think (in my imagination) “Oh BOOGA! That is a SHORT runway” and plop the plane down.

Earlier this month I came down with a cow-orker and he sat by a bunch of crew members from another flight returning home one the same one we were on. They laughed and giggled at the hard landing we received on that flight. But that landing was nothing compared to the one I had yesterday.

We were flying a CRJ 700. It was quite overcast with a morning fog and the ceiling was pretty low. I could feel the plane intercept the glide slope as we started our decent and I was wondering how close that needle has to be for the poor guys up front to make a smooth landing when it’s this foggy.

As we broke through the clouds and I started picking out familiar landmarks and I was having fun. As we approached the airport I said out loud “We’re a little bit high”. (My neighbor probably heard “I’LL GET YOU ALL”) It seemed that we were maybe 30 ft. higher than we should have been as we crossed the threshold of the runway. I could feel the pilot cut thrust and cut the flare a bit to drop the plain. At the last minute the pilot flared up again trying to ease down but POW! We slammed hard – jolting everyone in the plane. Everyone was a bit shocked by how hard we landed and there was some muttering in the plane. No one said much because we don’t want to be put in jail by the TSA for complaining about a pilot or something I guess.

The flight home is usually much smoother since the SLC airport has nice long runways. Pilots can just ease on down even if they are 30 ft above the glide slope. Plus I usually end up on CRJ 200’s on the leg back home and they are so small I’m sure they can land nicely about anywhere.

Friday, June 08, 2007


I have a habit of using silly words. Here are some of my favorites to use.

Cow-Orkers. This came about from the long ago Usenet newsgroup alt.folklore.urban. I used to lurk in that group a lot. This is back in the day when the loudest personality didn’t ruin discussion groups – usually – so there were some delightful conversations and threads that I often learned things from. The newsgroup was populated with extremely clever people and tons of lurkers. But it was also populated with people that were extremely pedantic about spellings. A few famous misspellings gained popularity in the group though. For example someone wrote voracity when they meant to write veracity and from then on it became a running joke to use voracious or voracity to refer to how much truth something had in it. A second famous misspelling was cow-orkers instead of co-workers. I was so amused by that one that I’ve used it ever since.

My kids are a great source of silly words that I like to use. Especially my youngest one. He doesn’t always pronounce his words correctly and some of the mistakes are just awesome. He mispronounces my sisters name in such an amusing way that I always us it now.

One of my favorites from him is how he says girl. It sounds like grill. When ads for dolls come on during Saturday morning cartoons he says things like “I hate this grill stuff”. Heh. It’s awesome. I don’t use this all the time but I use it around my kids a lot. I’m totally amused by it.

He also says wirld instead of world. It reminds me of the Knights of the Dinner Table wurld. I like wirld better though and have a tendency to use that as well.

I picked up a few odd ones on my mission. I went to South Africa and since the history of that land was heavily influenced by British settlers (and Dutch but their words are in Afrikaans and don’t get used as much in English). Anyway, I have a tendency to say flat instead of apartment and boot instead of trunk. I just like the way they sound and (WARNING INSIGHT INTO MY HEAD COMING) I like being different or special and using words like that feels different and even a little special.

One of the funny Afrikaans words was the way they say sure. Instead of a word for sure it’s literally “Yes No” to mean OK, sure. The first time someone said that to me I turned to my companion and said “Well, which one is it?” He just laughed and led me inside the house we had just been invited into. I don’t use that much except for in my head. It way confuses people in America to say Yes No.

There are lots more but if you ever hear/read/see/observe/whatever me using an odd word now you know why.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


My friend Coyote had a link to this site the other day, Blogging Ultima. I’ve read a page here and there since then remembering the times I spent playing the Ultima games. Ultima IV was the first of the series that I ever played and it rates right up there on my list of all time favorite games.

I’ve read up to the point where he just finished playing Ultima V. I enjoyed reading about the earlier games that I never played but the most of all I have enjoyed reading about the games that I had already played.

I believe that the thing I enjoy is remembering the fun I had playing them. Ultima IV was one of the most immersive games I had ever played and V only expanded on the level of immersion for me. I had so much fun in those worlds. It’s a nostalgia trip.

I loved the games so much that I joined the Ultima dragons and registered my own dragon name: Quiescent Dragon. I figured that was a pretty appropriate name for a dragon that wasn't going to really participate in the discussion forums or anything. I was definitly a lurker.

As for the rest of the Ultima games, Ultima VI came out when I was gone on my mission and so I never really played that one even though I had bought it when I returned. VII (both parts 1 and 2) are also on my list of all time favorites. VIII was interesting but just not the same and suffered from some very definite design flaws. Most of the horrible puzzles and jumping skills were fixed in a patch that was released WAY to late to do the release game any good and I did play through it once with the patch and once without the patch and the patch makes for a MUCH better game but still it was never enough to overcome the first impression that the game left. IX was a huge disappointment. This one switched to a 3d engine that was fairly clunky and suffered from “ummm-we-ran-out-of-ideas-or-time” design flaws near the end of the game. As the ending of the Ultima series it was definitely a letdown.

I’m looking forward to the chance to catch up with the blogging ultima blog since I’m sure that I’ll enjoy reading about the games that I did play and I’m curious to hear his impressions of the later ones that I didn’t get to. It will be fun to virtually watch over his shoulder and relive my own times playing these games.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Yes the blog entry where you gain a much to disturbing view of how my brain works is back for part two. I still have a list of things I wanted to cover so we’ll just have to see how far I get.

First of all I wanted to formally mention that my first game review has been published at Strategy Informer. I really had a lot of fun writing it up. I had done a first take of the game UFO: Extraterrestrials on my blog and in the process of writing up a full follow up I realized that I’d basically written a review. Since my friend ~J had asked me once about writing a review for publication I sent it on to her instead of posting it here. The rest, as they say is history, and now I’m a published author. I think I’ll put that in my resume.

When I got to work today there was a gorilla (well technically, I THINK it was a person in a gorilla suit) standing by the door to my building. He was holding a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts with a sign that said “Gorilla Marketing works”. (Tangent within a tangent: Krispy Kreme doughnuts are just not as good as everyone seems to think. They are mostly air and to sweet for my tastes. I like good solid doughnuts made out of real potato flour instead). I hope he’s here to pitch his services to my company instead of enacting an elaborate plot to kill someone with poisoned (yet light and fluffy and very sweet) doughnuts.

Have you ever had the experience of seeing something out of the corner of your eye that really surprised you? Yet, on second glance it turned out to be nothing startling at all. Well something similar to that happened on my way into work this morning. I saw Cthulhu driving a red Honda this morning. He was headed south on I-15 just like me. I was pretty surprised by this – but I don’t think I lost any SAN points. On second glance it was just an extremely hairy and unkempt person driving a red Honda. I think maybe it was Cthulhu who just learned the secret oriental powers to cloud mens minds just like The Shadow did.

Speaking of freeways I have a huge complaint about them. I’m a somewhat analytical person (as long as the subject to analyze is quite irrelevant to common sense or real life I think I’m pretty good at it – when it comes to being normal or figuring out relationships or something like that I’m hopeless) and the human brain is VERY good at identifying patterns. In fact brains are so good at pattern recognition that we will find patterns when there aren’t any patterns there to find. (Try staring at the static on a TV tuned to a dead channel some day to find out.) So I’m sure that I’ve identified a recurring pattern on my drives – Why is the lane I’m in always the slowest one? Whenever traffic comes to a stop I take note of the cars around me. Invariably the ones in the other lanes will soon be so far ahead of me that I can’t see them anymore. Changing lanes doesn’t solve this problem – it just makes the new lane go slow – so clearly I’m the common element in this pattern. I see no way to fix this so:

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Just don’t drive in the same freeway lane as me if you need to get anywhere fast. My lane will be easily identifiable by being the slowest one.

I’ve been running Windows Vista and Office 2007 for the past week and I like them a lot. Vista is waaaaaay faster than XP Pro was. It boots faster and the IE7 engine is noticeably faster than it was before. The only problem I ever saw in Vista so far was that my mouse cursor disappeared when I attempted to run City of Heroes. Poking around the internet a bit showed me that I needed to add the following to the command section of the shortcut for CoH: -compatiblecursors 1. After adding that it worked just fine.

Second Impression of CoH: It’s OK. It’s definitely better with friends than it was in the training missions. I find the game world to be fairly jarring though since it’s filled with thugs just standing around tugging on purses and taunting passersby. But I do like the quest system. You can just pick up random quests from the Police Radio or go to one of your contacts and pick up something more scripted. The groups can be fairly large, and that helps by allowing many of my friends to play all together. The combats are fairly confusing – it’s hard to keep track of all the good guys and bad guys since everything moves so fast. I usually just try to stand in the middle and debuff some bad guys that I hope will live long enough to keep my debuffs working for a while – and then spam the AOE healing spell I’ve got until I see someone has killed the target I debuffed. (Tangent: Although, my debufs are AOE they are targeted so once the bad guy I cast them on has died, the debuffs fade, and they need to be recast.) I haven’t created any alts yet – which is apparently a flaw of mine since everyone else has about thirty or forty different characters. I don’t think a single group night has had all the same characters show up yet.

Second Impression of UFO:ET: I love it even more than ever. The game was either intentionally designed to be easily modifiable or it’s just a fortunate coincidence of its development process but most of the (minor) flaws that bothered me have been fixed by modders. I think my opinion of the flaws is flawed though, since in this case flaws = stuff that was different in X:COM. The mod community is pretty darn impressive. I’ve only picked one mod to add to my game (but that isn’t strictly true either, I’ve picked one mod PACK to add to my game. There are several packs listed on the message boards to pick and choose from though). But I’ve very much enjoyed the changes that they have provided to me. The mods include bug fixes as well as game play balance fixes and changes to make it more X:COM-ie. All in all the list of changes with just the one pack are very impressive. Almost all of which changes I’ve found to be great improvements to the game.

And that is the rest of the list. I’m sure I’ll have more tangent laden posts in the future but for now… enjoy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I think of that title line a lot. It comes from one of my all time favorite comics, OotS. There are not many things that I preorder. I tend to be, well, cheap and look for sale prices and wait to buy things. But I’ve preordered four times now for Rich Burlows Order of the Stick comic books. I’m anxiously, and I mean that in the most literal sense of the word possible, awaiting the most recent book. For the last two weeks I have checked my mailbox every day muttering to myself “Maybe I’ll get a book today.” I’ve had to fight the urge to check the mailbox multiple times each day because the irrational (and some would say largest) part of my brain thinks that maybe the book has a magical delivery system instead of relying on the USPS to come.

In any case I’m a bit groggy today and that has made it hard to focus on any one topic so this is a collection of tangents. I’ve actually got quite a few ideas so when I’m done writing this morning any unused ideas will probably go into a future blog entry.

Yesterday was a really hard day. I woke up feeling weak and vulnerable, anyway. I wanted to crawl back into bed and pretend it wasn’t Monday. Some days are like that. Sometimes you wake up on the top of your game – ready for anything the world cares to throw at you and some days you wake up wishing it were all over already and wondering if there was any way to skip the entire rest of the day. The day proceeded to get worse from there and I had to really work hard to stay sane. I ended up with some cheeseburger therapy (Olympus Burgers on 9th East in SLC has REALLY GOOD bacon on their bacon cheeseburgers), going to a support group, watching some TV, and best of all talking with some friends. Fortunately I’ve survived.

I wanted to like Anime because I have so many friends that love the genre. But I’ve had a really hard time getting into it. I saw the Princess Mononoke (that word is like bananananananana, it’s really hard to stop spelling it once you start) movie and thought it was just OK. I saw some Princess somebody or other the vampire hunter and thought they were all right. I saw the first few episodes of Gundam and while I wanted to like it the show left a bad taste in my figurative mouth.

I haven’t given up though, and after looking at zillions of reviews on Netflix decided to try Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. This is based on some Japanese comics. The show is basically a sci-fi police drama centered on a special unit of cops called section 9. They end up taking the hard or strange problems like rouge AI tanks terrorizing the city, and android assassination attempts. The show was well drawn without all the impossible eyeballs and jittery camera effects that make other Anime unwatchable for me. Furthermore, there were no lewd or provocative scenes but rather it was a straight forward drama with no unnecessary extras, except for the excitable baby tanks with puppy dog like AI personalities but they were cute so I liked them. I watched all four episodes of volume one last night. The remaining volumes will come as they are ordered on my Netflix queue. I have definitely found an Anime style show that I really enjoyed, and I’m looking forward to seeing some more of it.

Checking up on my Daemon shows that I’m still a bunny rabbit. I can see how that could fit me and I really still like it better than the original moth I was assigned to. I’ve upgraded my system since I first filled out the quiz so I’m not able to check all the history of my Daemon changes on their home web site and I can’t remember how many more days I’ve got before it becomes set – hmmmm I suppose I could just scroll down and do some math but see the paragraph on groggy above, I don’t feel much like doing math today. My friend ~J gave me some bunny ears the other day so I’m all ready for the next dress-up-as-your-daemon party. *grin* The bunny picture on the site just doesn't seem to fit. I think I'm a lot cuter than the bunny there. I found this one that I like a LOT better. Not only does it capture how amazingly cute I am but also the silliness in me.

I’ve got more but I feel like I’m done writing for now. See the paragraph above on groggy. The rest of these awesome and awe inspiring ideas will have to wait for another time.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


When I got to work this morning I went to the fridge to put my lunch into it. Unfortunatly, as I opened the door a bottle of syrup fell out and broke open on the floor. Also unfortunately, the bottle was nearly full and the viscosity of the syrup was such that it rapidly created a huge puddle of sticky goo.

Well, I sighed, and cleaned it up and threw stuff away. There was no name on the syrup and I was feeling bad about just throwing someones stuff away, with out them knowing, so I thought I'd send an e-mail to the office. Then I thought a lame e-mail is boring I'll do something more fun. The message I finally sent was this:

Dear Sir or Ma’am,

We regret to inform you of the passing if your bottle of syrup. Late this morning upon opening of the refrigerator door a nearly full bottle of maple “flavored” syrup leaped to its death on the floor below. Passer-bys rushed to its aid but the syrup was dead immediately upon impact. Refrigerator police are investigating the incident after anonymous witnesses reported seeing a smirking bottle of poppy seed salad dressing near where the syrup leaped from. Clean up crews were able to successfully contain the syrup spill and in the process of removing the remains returned the floor area immediately in front of the refrigerator to previously un-seen levels of cleanliness.

With deepest regrets,

I had quite a few comments from people through the morning on my e-mail. I think I suprised a number of them. I am the IT guy here at work and I suspect that most of them just think I'm an uninteresting nerd. The truth of the matter is I'm a fascinating and complex nerd. Heh.

But if you stop and think about it we all are fascinating and complex and how often do we really show that complexity? How often to we only allow ourselves to BE fascinating and complex at certain times and and the rest of the time just play the roles our jobs, family or circumstances have given us?.

Monday, May 14, 2007


It’s funny how powerful first impressions are. I had two brand new games exposed to me over the last few days and they have both left first impressions. I’m going to be very interested over the next little while to see if the continued experience with the games changes my current feelings towards them.

Item the first: City of Heroes. Many of my friends and I have a regular Tuesday night online game. Lately we’ve been playing DDO. But we’ve reached a problem with it. The game is very much geared towards having six players and we currently only have five interested. For a few weeks we’ve been kicking around ideas for replacements or wondering if we should just try to slug it out with five.

We’ve reached an agreement to try CoH as a possible replacement game. Coyote had some invitations so we could all try it out for a 10 day free trial. I signed up downloaded the bajillion byte installer, got it installed and started it up.

The character creation process was a lot of fun. I made lots and lots of changes before settling on a character. I now regret what I decided on because it looks so bland in the game which is very vibrant and colorful – but I have heard that there are tailoring stores in the game where you can change your appearance so I’ll have to do that some time.

The next thing that happened is I was dumped into the training zone to learn some of the game basics. There was definitely some bewilderment while I was trying to figure out the menus and on screen displays and rather a bit more bewilderment when I couldn’t figure out how to walk and turn at the same time. Turns out that the key mappings are in the wrong place for turn actions and strafe actions.

The game itself was mildly interesting. I had a hard time not thinking of my Super powers as spells but that has more to do with me not really being a part of the super hero genre I suppose than anything else in the game. The final training mission had me teamed up with a CPU controlled buddy. I was exploring the rooms in this building when I entered a very small break room with a ruined candy machine. The CPU buddy stood in the doorway and when I tried to leave the room wouldn’t budge. I couldn’t push past her, I couldn’t jump over her. I spent twenty minutes trying to figure out some way out of this stupid little room. Finally I managed to jump up onto the candy machine apparently getting just far enough away to trigger her follow subroutine so that she moved a pace further into the room and I was able to get around her.

The mission finished uneventfully after that but I was also done. This first taste of the game left me feeling ho-hum and not really excited about playing any more of this. Now granted, this game is an MMO and solo play in MMOs is usually pretty lame – so the next test will come when I play with my friends. Hopefully the game will show its strengths then but my first exposure to the game has definitely left a bad taste in my mouth.

Item the Second: UFO: Extraterrestrials. I’m a huge fan of the old X:COM games. I played the Terror from the Deep one first so it’s my favorite but it’s basically the identical game to UFO Defense. They were delightful and spooky games. For a long time I’ve longed for an updated version of one of these with basically the same game play and better pictures. Well that day is finally here.

My first take on UFO:ET was wow this is pretty much exactly what I asked for. The game plays in to major segments the strategy based geo-scape view and the tactical based combat view. In the first you can see the whole world where you can build and manage your bases and detect and hopefully shoot down UFOs.

The strategy portion is fairly faithful to the old X:COM games. The major differences are that you can not hire technicians, scientists and soldiers. Squaddies are apparently assigned to you as you go along, techs and scientists seem to be a part of the lab or workshop facilities when you build them with each one giving you 10 additional people.

In addition some of the other base management actions have also been simplified. There doesn’t seem to be the equivalent of general stores and I don't know how many people I can cram together in that one living quarter. I guess I’ll find out. The research trees have all started well and I like some of the changes with the fighters you use in that you have cannon hard points and missile hard points not just generic weapon ports.

The tactical section is so far the highlight of the game for me. The transport ship you start with can only hold one vehicle and four squaddies so the squad size was much lower than I was used to in X:COM. The first time out the door of the transport within five rounds all my squaddies were dead. YEAH! This game rocks. The second time I tried a tactical mission I was much more careful.

The aliens use decent tactics and avoid closing into obvious kill zones – forcing my squaddies to come to them. Squaddies can level up in rank like in X:COM games and their skills will increase but in this game you get to pick which stats to raise for them when they achieve a new rank instead of the computer automatically raising some of them for you. My guys currently have projectile weapons still and the bad guys are shooting plasma beams (that I can’t research yet).

This game is much less spooky than X:COM was, perhaps, it’s because this is set on a fictional world instead of on earth so there is already some unreality built right into the premise of the game. The aliens are good looking though, and the ones I’ve met so far are very alien not clay-mation beasties like the X:COM Apocalypse ones. I really wish that there was a map function in the tactical view and it would be great if I could left click on an alien to switch to the targeting cursor instead of having to click on the gun in my selected squaddies hand but these quibbles are fairly minor.

All in all this game has left a favorable impression with me and I’m looking forward to the chance to play more of it. Hopefully, this trend will continue.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I was tagged in the Blog Apocalypse meme. I’m not really good at memes. I have a stubborn streak in me and, frankly, some outright contrariness that makes me resist what the crowd is doing. I’ve avoided super popular moves because everyone was seeing them. Remember those Gresham books about lawyers that everyone read and raved about – I never bothered simply because everyone else was doing it. They might have been the most masterful entertaining and wonderful books ever to have been written. (I don’t think they were I’m just saying they COULD have been.) And I have not read them because everyone was doing it.

I suppose this is good in a way. If everyone jumped off a cliff I’d probably not do that. But it can also be bad in a way too because I might miss something I would otherwise really enjoy.

On the other hand I just can not resist a good web quiz and lookie here what I found on the Rabid Paladin

SWEEEEET! I'm R2-D! That is pretty neat. BTW: to follow up on the last quiz which is still in flux. My moth daemon has turned into a bunny rabbit which is also pretty cool.


The blog apocalypse meme is to pretend that you have just one last blog entry that you can write. You are supposed to leave some nugget of wisdom or some summation of your lifes (blogs?) work. Or something meaningful to you alone, I guess.

Interestingly enough, that is such a focused question that it is way beyond the scope of this blog. I’m not writing about anything in particular here. In fact the real point of this blog is for me to have a chance to do some expressive writing because I’m bad at it and need the practice and also need the emotional outlet of having created something. I do try to be clever in my writing but that is mostly to amuse myself while I’m doing it. There is no topic at all.

The name of the blog is the Tungsten Bathtub. I’ll explain that instead and hope that it counts as some sort of nugget of wisdom to someone.

The Tungsten part is easy. I occasionally play online games with my friends and I have adopted the name Drake Tungsten as my online alias for many of these games. This came from one of my favorite TV shows Mystery Science Theater 3000. The movie was one of the Hercules movies staring Alan Steele in the title role. During one of the skits Joel (I think it was Joel and I always liked his delivery better than Mikes so I’ll just pretend it was Joel instead of looking up which host it was) and the bots were commenting on what a cool hero name Mr. Steele had. They tried to invent a number of other hero names. Crow had a problem with the game coming up with names like Biff Drywall. But Servo came up the Drake Tungsten and I loved it. From the first time I heard that name I’ve used it in games.

The Bathtub part is pretty easy too. I can’t be the only person whose mind wanders while taking a shower. I go in with good intentions of planning out the day and figuring out things and solving problems but I usually end up wondering about why some things happen before other things or what would chairs look like if you knees bent the other way or something equally strange or random. Sometimes I compose blog entries in my head there. Sometimes I wonder about a book I read or a conversation I had. Sometimes I’ll obsess over an upcoming situation playing out possible outcomes again and again. All in all it’s a pretty random thought process.

Therefore I named my blog for part of the character name I’ve adopted and for the location where lots of random thinking takes place.

As far as I know every blog I read with any regularity has been tagged by this meme so I suppose it dies with me. If you never got tagged and feel left out leave a comment or something and I’ll edit the post to tag you in. (Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.) Anyway there ya go.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Jacob, is apparently, my pusher when it comes to web quizes. He's got another one posted up on his blog and so here it goes on mine too. Like he said there - this one has a twist - for the next twelve days people can click on the link and vote if my answers match your opinions. At the end of that time a final personality match will be given. When I clicked on his quiz it went from a badger to a racoon.

My answers matched me up with a Moth called Voltina. I wonder if that one will change.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I hate when people are stupid. I’ve mentioned this before. This morning while driving to work one of the local TV stations sponsored the morning traffic report. The ad copy (I work for an ad agency so I’m allowed to call what they say in ads ‘copy’) said: Watch as our hidden cameras uncover a store that knowingly sells items that can be used for drugs.

I’m supposed to be all afraid that a store sells drug supplies. Oh no, everybody panic! Stores that sell things that can be used as drugs. This infuriates me that this is an issue. Fear driven stories lead to fear driven stupidities. It is implied that these supplies can ONLY be used to make drugs. What stupidity. These stupidities are already impacting the quality of life for many people and it shows no sign of stopping.

Here is a prime example. I few months ago I got sick. I felt miserable but I still had work to do and life to take care of. I’ve been setting up a new life and I don’t have many things in my apartment yet – including medicines. Feeling sick and miserable I went to the local grocery store. I picked up one package each of generic Night-time and Day-time cold medicine. I staggered over to the checkout counter – displaying obvious symptoms of being sick and was told by the clerk that she could not sell me both packages. I boggled at her. She told me I would have to buy one now and purchase the other one later. Why, I managed to finally ask? Because they both contain a compound that could be used to create meth.

There a stupidity caused an obviously sick person to be unable to purchase the medication that would have helped them because of a stupid law.

At another time I went pack to purchase my one and only package allowed of cold medicine but this time I went through the automatic checkout counters. The computer scanned my single package in and then threw up a big sign saying that without proper authorization the transaction would not proceed. I had to get a store employee to come over and finish the purchase for me. Why? I don’t know. What value did it add having to make someone come verify me? I can’t imagine what. Another stupidity.

Stupidities happen because of bad thinking. Bad thinking, or no thinking, is usually driven by emotions and one of the easiest emotions to sell is fear. Look around you at the ads you see today. Most of them will use the classic Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) in their message. Watch the message!

Thursday, April 26, 2007


I hate when people are stupid. I find it highly irritating. Part of the reason for this is that I am highly invested in thinking that I’m a smart person. So it’s an ego defense for me to recognize stupidity in others. That is a double edged sword since I do stupid things too and my ego takes a beating when I am forced to recognize that I’m just as stupid as other people. (HELPFUL HINT: I know I’m not as smart as many of my friends but I’ve learned a clever trick of being quiet and just LOOKING smart. It turns out that this is almost as good as being smart.)

Hmmmm… gonna have to follow some bread crumbs back to where I was going with this….

Lately I’ve been super irritated by the recent announcement that scientists have discovered a new planet around a red dwarf type star about 20 LY away. The worst example of this came in a morning news broadcast. The scientists or their group have released a video animation of what the world COULD look like so that their story could get some air time on TV news. The anchor person said “So is this actual video of the new planet?” to her co-anchor as the video was playing. I sat there stupefied. Then I felt a surge of energy – I would have leaped through the screen and yelled “YOU MORON” at them were I able to.

I may not be the normal one – maybe regular people think that it might be actual pictures of a new planet. I’m familiar enough with physics and the general capabilities of our current technologies to know that there is no way we have pictures of a planet 20 light years away from us. It is common knowledge to me that this is impossible. So I’m amazed when someone else doesn’t understand this.

The planet was detected by measuring minute shifts in the stars spin and then inferring that the resulting red and blue shifts are because of gravitational influences of planets in orbit around the star. I’m sure the math is beyond me and I’m over simplifying this. From what I can understand the only things that we can really tell about the planet are: Something is orbiting that star and it has a certain minimum mass (approximately 2x the mass of earth).

With those two details we can theorize a few more things – one the approximate distance of the mass from the star, that given it’s proximity to its star it’s probably a rocky type planet (as opposed to a gas type planet), and that it possibly may have a local temperature able to support liquid water.

From what I can tell that is about it. Obviously these theories are completely un-provable given our current technology. That hasn’t stopped people from announcing long and loud that a human habitable planet has been discovered or that an extra-solar planet capable of supporting life has been discovered. I will grant that these are both potential theories but they are pretty extreme and I see no way to prove them true or false.

It’s stupid and funny. I guess just announcing that there is possibly a planet doesn’t have the same ring to people than announcing they’ve found Vulcan and expect to make first contact any day now. *sigh*

I guess I feel awful smart right now but also really sad. Have we come so far that it’s no longer acceptable to have actual science intrude into our consciousnesses? Are we so unwilling as a society to spend any time thinking but instead need to be drip fed fun sound bites regardless of their veracity? Believing in Voodoo will not help us at all in the long run.

P.S. The link to the voodoo science essay by Jerry Pournelle is well worth your time if you've never see it before.
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