Showing posts with label computers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label computers. Show all posts

Monday, April 9, 2018

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Crash Override

"Sometimes you need to burn a bridge while you are still standing on so they know you mean business. ... All us witches, past present and future, need to do better...Suffer us witches to live." 
 - Zoë Quinn

This might seem like a stretch here but stay with me on this.  I finished reading Zoë Quinn's Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate, and I am going to make the case this is a book about a modern witch and the witchhunt that came from it.

I want to get into the meat of the book, but let me address the parallels first.

Zoë Quinn began, like many historical witches, as a woman a bit marginalized from the world but found solace, comfort and even expertise in a traditionally "man's space".  For the witches of old this was often medical knowledge in a world of male doctors or religious knowledge in a world of male clergy.  In any case, she was a  woman (or a girl really, she was not much older than my son when this all went down) against a patriarchy.  Does that sound like a feminist theory to you?  It is ONLY if never actually studied feminist theory or have ever used the word "feminazi" in anything other than a derisive tone.  She was attacked and all but pilloried and burned at the stake.  Though virtually speaking she was. She even describes the mob after her as a group of "inquisitors".  The appropriate name really.

Actions speak louder than words and while I had heard and read the words of these internet inquisitors and gatekeepers of their "culture" I don't for a second believe them.  Their claims can be easily dismissed and discarded.  There were no witches on Pendle Hill in 1612. No devil in Loudun, France (1634). There was no devil in Salem (1692), no Satanic ritual abuse in the 1980s and no conspiracy in August 2014 to censor video games*.  (yes there is more than this, but the trouble is sorting through a metric ton of shit to get to it. This is not the place to detail my last couple of years of "ritual filth" reading about this and going to where they "live".)

But like those times, facts do not matter once the mob smells blood in the water, or online.  Quinn is a bit more understanding of her inquisitors, the ones that would see her dead for the audacity of being a woman.  I do not extend to them the same benefit of the doubt; I have seen this play out too many times in the exact same way with nearly textbook results.

Zoë Quinn is a witch, an unburnt witch in fact (her nom de' net in fact), and like the best witches of old, her name and exploits will outlive her inquisitors and tormentors.

She spends the first half of her book recounting her love of video games, finding solace online with like-minded people and discovering that she too could build something or make something.  There were many times I smiled or laughed out loud because I could relate to exactly to what she was doing and feeling.  Then we get to that day in August of 2014 where the mob, spurred on by an abusive ex-boyfriend and some easily dismissed internet rumors decides to act.
I have seen online abuse first hand, I have also stood on the sidelines and watched it unfold like a spectator sport.  So it was not without some personal horror that I listened to what she went through.
Honestly, you have to have zero empathy not be moved here.  Even IF (in all caps) she did the things she was accused of, it doesn't justify the violent outburst here.  (seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you people?)

There is some repetition, but this is a memoir, not a research paper. It is told like a memoir, with the unedited bits of a person's messy life left in. And the author is quite upfront about that.  In fact listening to it you get the feeling it could have been a "LiveJournal" post AND that is perfectly fine because that is the vibe the author wants.  Listen to her words and what she wants, the book is the ultimate expression of that. It is also almost, but not quite, a requiem for a life lost.  I can tell you, as a former QMHP, she sounds EXACTLY like people I used to counsel after they had dealt with something traumatic or after a significant period of depression.  I do not doubt that these are the words from someone who has in my professional opinion "seen some shit".

The first half had me depressed and sad for this girl. But the second half made happy for the woman she has become and what she has been able to do.  Sure, she can never get back that old life.  In many ways, her tale is the same of that as someone that has suffered a traumatic disease or accident.  In others, it is worse, because she knows if it were not for the actions of others she could go back to that old life and do the things she loved.

The last half of the book's title is "How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate" and she talks about what she has done and what she has been doing and freely admits that she is neither equipped or qualified to do the job that needs to be done.  I hope she will excuse the Batman allusion here (she has a section "You are not Batman"), but she is the hero we need.

She is open about needing more non-CIS, non-white, non-male voices in this fight. Not that we don't need CIS hetro white males, it's just that people like that, like me, are a dime a dozen.  We are.  She is open and even empathizes with the mobs of inquisitors that were after her; not wanting them to be subject to same actions she faced.  She is very cognizant (maybe painfully so) of the limitations of the tech companies and law enforcement.

To top it all off she built the Crash Override Network to help other victims of online abuse.
This alone is worthy of praise.

In the end, her advice is simple, be better to each other online and try to empathize with the human on the other side of the screen.   She knows there is a lot of work to do and this only the start.

Final note. I listened to the audiobook version of this with Zoë Quinn reading it herself.  I think that was a great choice for me, to hear her own words in her own voice, but also to get her to do it.  She knew when to be funny and when to be sad more than some other narrator.

You can find Zoë Quinn on the web here: http://www.crashoverridenetwork.com

2018 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge

Books Read so far: 2
Level: Initiate
Witches in this book: 1. Keep in mind that "Witch" has never, EVER been an insult in my mind.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Good, but in her own words, flawed.
Best RPG to Emulate it: NA. But the snarky part of me does want to build a ShadowRun game around this with real trolls and real witches.
Use in WotWQMaybe not appropriate, but this was one of many real-life events that got me to write the Aiséiligh Tradition Witch.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #80

Issue 80  is one of those issues I have some very fond memories of and one that made it's way into my gaming life in odd and interesting ways.  So enough preamble, let's get going. It's December 1983 and this is Issue #80 of This Old Dragon!

This time around I have two copies of this magazine, but neither is complete.   Both are missing the cover, both are missing the city-based adventure and one has large sections cut out.

Let's talk about the cover.  This is a Clyde Caldwell work.  I always loved his work and this one is no exception. A purple-haired (I think it is blonde really with odd lighting) magic-user over a crystal ball?  What's not to love?

Kim Mohan is up with the editorial. First is plea for people sending in computer programs. Long story short, they want BASIC programs that people that have 16k and 32k systems can run (as opposed to those 'power users' at 48k and 64k).   This is a prelude to the AD&D combat program later in this issue.  The next part of the Editorial covers material in this issue.

Out on a Limb covers this months letters.  Couple issues back had another program that ran a Chi-Square (x2)analysis to determine if your dice were biased.  One reader has issues with this, but it seems like the editors came to the same conclusion I did; that the reader went through all the work to find a fault in the procedure and not his dice.  I'll be on the lookout for that article.  Now you can run even complex Chi-Squares in Excel.  Somewhere I have a sheet for checking dice.

Nice big ad for James Bond 007.  1983 was a good Bond year. Back in the summer, Octopussy with Roger Moore (no relation to Dragon's Roger Moore) hit the screens and this fall and winter we got the non-Eon Never Say Never Again with Sean Connery.  Of course only Octopussy of the two would make it into an adventure for the game (along with Goldfinger and one of my favorites Dr. No).   I have been a huge Bond fan ever since I saw Live and Let Die but I have never played this game.  IF I were to do it, I might use the Doctor Who rules just for fun.

Up next is Fraser Sherman and The Psychology of the Doppleganger.  An interesting little read about these (in my mind) under-used creatures.

Big ad for the new Intellivision AD&D cartridge game, Treasure of Tarmin.

David F. Godwin has an article that has plagued DMs and Players since time out of time (or at least since 1975). In How many coins in a coffer? He discusses the weight and the value of the coins of each type.   It's the type of gritty analysis that was really popular at the time.  It can still serve some good use today, the numbers still work and if you want to adapt it to current precious metal prices that is your choice. Personally, I prefer to handwave this and use the old Basic D&D standard of 1 coin = 1/10 a pound.   It keeps the math easy.   Yess, yes I know...someone will ask "what about resource management and encumbrance?"  That is fine, if I wanted to make D&D more like Economics or Supply Chain Management. And I don't.

Ah now here is something everyone can use.  The Five keys to DMing success by Mike Beeman is essential reading for any DM, regardless of edition they play or experience they have.  These keys are 1. Continuity, 2. Character (the Player Character), 3. Competence (rules knowledge, but not memorization), 4. Creative, and 5. Cooperation.  Most of this advice is of the common sense sort, but good to have in one place. OR maybe it is only common sense to me now on the other side of nearly 40 years of running games. It is worth checking out if you wish to expand your art as a DM.

Ah here we go.  John Warren gives us the Dungeon Master’s Familiar, a computer-based AD&D combat simulator.  Going over the BASIC code makes me wonder why we didn't move to the Ascending Armor Class of D&D 3 sooner.   At line 2070 and on list data tables to replicate the attack tables for characters.  When my old DM and I created our own software we found a mathematical way to recreate this.  It was not 100% of course, but it was close enough.  I checked my CD-ROM version to see if the code had been converted to text and sadly it was not.  Pity, since I wanted to run this but I have no desire to type it all up.

Who lives in that castle? by Katharine Kerr covers what should be one of the most basic bits of information that every person living in a quasi-Medieval society would know.  Castles, who lives in them and how they are run AND who does that running.  Do your characters have a castle? Who is your master of hunt? Who makes sure the larders are stocked? These questions are ones that this in-depth article can help you figure this out.  At seven pages it is also a longer one.

Ed Greenwood gives us one man's trash and another man's treasure. Treasures rare and wondrous is a collection of various treasure items characters are likely to find.  Some are utterly mundane, like a silver belt buckle, others are more unique like a 30,000+ gp bejeweled garter.

Up next is Barnacus: City in Peril.
That is it is what should be here.  But neither of my copies have this.


So. Moving on.

We get some revised AD&D charts (damn! and I just entered it all in BASIC!!) based on something called the "5% Principle" by authors Len Lakofka and Gary Gygax.  Again, I am seeing the future here and the DC-type of AC we see in D&D 3.0. Naturally, I have the supreme advantage of hindsight here.

Cool ads for Star Fleet Battles and Fantasy Games Unlimited.

Ken Rolston has some guides for reviewing games in A set of rules for game reviews.
He covers three types of reviews. 1. The Capsule review,  a review that comes out when the game is new and wants to let people to know the basics.  2. The Feature review, a more extended review tht covers the main details. Rolston this type of review is only good for "significant" games, but I largely disagree.  Any game can now have a feature review.  3. The Critical review is the detailed review that takes on many aspects of the games. He also spends some time on discussing who the audiences of the reviews are.

Taking his own advice on Timeship. He likes the simplicity.  We also get reviews for Illuminati and Privateers and Gentlemen.   Ken Rolston also reviews Man, Myth, & Magic which he refers to an ambitious failure.  Despite all the bad reviews I have read (and there are a lot of them) I still find myself curious about this game.   But I have to take his final words on the subject in mind.
I strongly recommend that the game be carefully examined by any prospective buyer; there is a good chance that the purchase will be a disappointing one.
I think I need to reconsider my morbid fascination for this game.

Nice big ad for some future TSR products including the World of Greyhawk boxed set.

The book reviews are next,  but some of the pages are cut in half.

More small ads.  The con calendar.

We get to the comics with What's New, Wormy, and Snarf Quest.

So this issue is smaller (well, mine is , I think it is missing more), but it also has a lot really useful material that you can still use today regardless of your system of choice.

It makes me sad that my copies are so mildewy (and missing pages).

Want to see what I was saying about White Dwarf from the same time?  Check out White Dwarf Wednesday for issue #48.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

RPGaDAY2016: Day 23

Share one of your best 'Worst Luck' stories.

I mentioned this one a couple years ago for "Most Memorable Character Death" but it also falls under best "Worst Luck" since the poor guy was at the receiving end of some truly diabolic dice rolls.

I have played exactly 1 ninja my entire  gaming life.  His name was Oko-nishi (horrible I know).  My lame attempts at a Japanese sounding name.  In my defense at what I knew was a bad name, I made him a half-orc; because I could then blame his orc parent.  It must have been around 1984-5 as I made him using the Oriental Adventure rules.  My then DM and I had worked up a D&D combat simulator on the Color Computer 2 and we plugged him in with 9 other characters.  He was attacked by a Black Dragon (or Red, cant recall) and killed. The dragon kept attacking him and only him.  We had not worked out all the errors. In the end, he had been reduced to something like -70 hp.  My DM offered to let him be ok, or keep him dead. We enjoyed watching it so much and getting the mental image of this dragon jumping up and down on my dead ninja that I felt it was a waste to say it never happened.

I never played a ninja or a half-orc again.

http://www.brigadecon.org/rpgaday2016/


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil

Well this is an unexpected surprise.

I was digging out a bunch of computer junk to get rid of over the weekend and I found my copy of the old Atari "Temple of Elemental Evil" video game.



Back in the day I had installed it on to one of my PCs and played it a little bit and then went on to other things.  That computer died on me and I never reinstalled it.

Now that I have Son of Frankencomputer up and running I think I am going to reinstall this.

Should be fun!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Post 2600!

Why pick such an arbitrary posting milestone?

Well as many gamers my age might recall the "2600" was the part number of the first Atari home video game console.

The Atari 2600 changed how looked at home entertainment forever.



Given the general feel of 80s nostalgia we have here on the Other Side and other related blogs I am a little surprised that the Atari is not mentioned more.  Maybe it could be that unlike some others my age (or older) I always *liked* the idea of computers and video games working with D&D.
I am sure we all (or most) remember this game.


Yeah, it was a weak ass version of "D&D" but hey for the late 70s/early 80s it was the best we had and I played the hell out of it.  I even played again it here just recently (like a month ago) on my Atari Flashback 5.  Yeah I still had fun.

Though some of my most favorite memories of playing "D&D" is playing "Rogue" on my TRS-80 Color Computer 3.


Sure. It wasn't D&D, but it was still fun.  Plus we know that there would not have been any of these games had it not been for D&D.

So yeah while I am looking up old RPG books from the 70s on eBay I have been looking up old computers too.  I have an Atari (and an emulator) but I keep looking at the various Tandy Color Computers too.  With the recent news that Radio Shack is closing I have been thinking more and more about it.

I know it is a stupid idea. I can get emulator and run them on my phone that 1000s times faster than the original machines.  There are even browser based emulators to play the games I liked. But I also have a program I worked on back in the day to manage and run a party of AD&D characters that would be fun to dust off.  I still have the source code in fact.

 For me at least, D&D and computers have always gone hand in hand.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tools of the Trade

None gaming post today.  I have been clearing out a bunch of old computers and software to either get rid of or sell on eBay.

Often times when we write about writing in general and blogging in particular we talk a lot about where ideas come from, how to get more readers or even how much writing everyday is important.  This is all true, and important, but that is not the type of tools I mean today.

Hardware

Look down.  There. See it, it's your keyboard.  What is your relationship with your keyboard?

I blog every day.  I write in addition to that and there is that day job too.  I spend a lot of time with my fingers on my keyboard.  My favorite keyboard is the one I have at home, the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000. It is the silver one and long, long out of stock.  I wrote Ghosts of Albion on it and it is by far the most comfortable keyboard I have ever used.  I never expected to find a replacement for my old beatup Gateway 2000 124 key programmable keyboard, but this one is fantastic.


Here is my main computer, Frankencomputer (I built it from spare parts).  It's not much more than a web-machine and word processor which is what I want when I am writing.  It run Ubuntu Linux and I use Google Drive for all my work. The keyboard is actually worth more to me than the rest of the computer.  If I am going to sit and pound away on a keyboard then it needs to be comfortable to me.

This is my second 6000 keyboard in truth.  I bought this one off of eBay for an ungodly price and still consider it money well spent.  It has the right curve for my hands and can elevate to the right height so I don't get fatigue while typing. Plus it is the same keyboard Weird Al has in his song "White & Nerdy".  A song that is not about me at all. Really. Honest.

Software

I was reading the other week that George R. R. Martin, when he is not plotting to kill every character you love, sits in front of his old DOS machine and types his books into WordStar 4.0.  Piers Anthony once mentioned that back in the day he paid a programmer to reverse engineer his favorite word processor from CP/M to MS-DOS. Laurel K. Hamilton did her first writing on a manual typewriter and still thinks of things in terms of page counts and not word counts.  I am sure there are many more examples, but the point is clear. We get used to something for our writing and we like to stick with it.   Myself, I am an Microsoft Word fan.  I have been using it for years, since version 1.1 and Office 4.3.  I have gotten very comfortable with it and have lost count of the number of hours I have spent in it.

So then am I switching over to Google Drive?
Well while I still use Word one of the things it promised and never really delivered on was real time collaboration.   With the Google Drive word processor I can work with others and see their edits real time. We can chat and discuss what it is we are doing and why.  Plus I have lost count of the number of docs I have lost carting them from one computer to another, either on floppy disk or flash drive. And then when I manage to get it to another computer (say from work to home) I have to deal with whether or not the computer can read the file format and version control.  The only thing worse than loosing a document is to spend hours adding to a draft that is already 3 revisions old.

So how about you?
What are your writing needs? Special keyboard? Software? Maybe it is your best comfy chair.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 13, Most Memorable Character Death

#RPGaDAY Day 13, Most Memorable Character Death

I seem to recall talking about this one from other blogfests.

Oh well, it is a funny story and can be repeated.


I have played exactly 1 ninja my entire  gaming life.  His name was Oko-nishi (horrible I know).  My lame attempts at a Japanese sounding name.  In my defense at what I knew was bad I made him a half-orc.  It must have been around 1984-5 as I made him using the Oriental Adventure rules.  My then DM and I had worked up a D&D combat simulator on the Color Computer 2 and we plugged him in with 9 other characters.  He was attacked by a Black Dragon (or Red, cant recall) and killed. The dragon kept attacking him and only him.  We had not worked out all the errors. In the end he had been reduced to something like -70 hp.  My DM offered to let him be ok, or keep him dead. We enjoyed watching it so much and getting the mental image of this dragon jumping up and down on my dead ninja that I felt it was a waste to say it never happened.

I never played a ninja or a half-orc again.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 11: Favorite Playable Race

Day 11: Favorite Adventure I Ran

So many here as well.  Since I am limiting it to D&D I think I am going to say Ravenloft, I6.  I have run it a number of times and each time it gets better and better.  Plus it is a lot of fun and I love all the gothic horror trappings.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 10: Craziest Thing

Day 10: Craziest Thing that's Happened that you saw

I have shared this story in the past, but it was too funny not to share it again.
I have played exactly 1 ninja my entire  gaming life.  His name was (horrible I know) Oko-nishi.  My lame attempts at a Japanese sounding name.  In my defense at what I knew was bad I made him a half-orc.  It must have been around 1984-5 as I made him using the Oriental Adventure rules.  My then DM and I had worked up a D&D combat simulator and we plugged him in with 9 other characters.  He was attacked by a Black Dragon (or Red, cant recall) and killed. The dragon kept attacking him and only him.  We had not worked out all the errors. In the end he had been reduced to something like -70 hp.  My DM offered to let him be ok, or keep him dead. We enjoyed watching it so much and getting the mental image of this dragon jumping up and down on my dead ninja that I felt it was a waste to say it never happened.


Friday, July 12, 2013

ShadowRun and the Deep Web / Undernet

I was talking to my wife last night about ShadowRun in hopes I would have a review ready for you all today.

That didn't happen.

Instead she distracted me with something she had found out about the Deep Web.



I still want to get a ShadowRun 5 review up soon.  It is pretty cool.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The OSR of Computers

I am of the age that my involvement in RPGs began at the same time as my involvement in the burgeoning home computer market.

Indeed, my games were from TSR and my computers are from TRS. As in the old TRS 80 and Tandy Color Computer.

Most of my first attempts at programming were ways to help, improve or other wise supplement my D&D experience.  This went on for a number years. In fact I upgraded past (ie got rid of) my CoCo3 right around the same time I moved to 2nd Ed AD&D.

It should then be no big surprise then that while I am trolling eBay for old RPG materials I am also looking at old Color Computer stuff.
Which is really dumb.  I have owned at least three or four of these things over the years.  I have computers sitting in my office unused that are 1000s of times better every respect.

Yet. Here I am. Looking at these toys off my youth.

Maybe an emulator is the way to go.  I have a computer I could rebuild I am sure.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Selling my Soul to Google

I am very active on Blogger.  All my RPG related email goes to my Gmail account.  I use Google Analytics to track trends on my blog.  I own an Android phone and tablet.  So I am pretty sold on this Google idea.

Well this weekend I found the one thing my gaming life needs more than anything else.
I discovered the new Chrome Book.

It runs the new Chromium OS and uses all the same tools I use now for my RPG work.
Not only that, but last week I began a new RPG book.  No surprise there.  But this deal is that this is the first time since 1989 that I have started one on something other than Microsoft Word.
I was an early adopter of MS Word. The first copy I ever bought was Word 1.1 for Windows, I quickly upgraded to 2.0.  I have tried other software.  I had used many others before this; PC Write was a big one for me. I spent untold hours in front of a screen using WordStar. I even, briefly, tried WordPErfect (and hated it).  I would guess that in the last 23 years I have spent about 30,000 hours using Word.  That's about 5-6 hours a day. Work really adds to this number since everything I do there is in Word.

Last week I started a new RPG book in Google Docs.  I have used Docs before for other things and even have written a number of things for work or pleasure in it.  But I usually started them in Word.  So this is a big deal for me.

This new Chrome Book would give me all the tools I am using now.  Sure I have a laptop and a computer.  The computer is in my office and not portable.  The laptop is for work.  My tablet is great, but not great to write with.

I like the idea of having a separate RPG computer to hold all my PDFs and works-in-progress.
Now if I can only get one for Christmas!




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