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Comments

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Recent Nobel Prize Winner Revolutionizes Microscopy Again

RingDev Re:Bennett Haselton on the implications (33 comments)

I have a friend who works for a laser microscopy manufacturer. They use this technology (or systems very similar to it) to be able to record, in real time, cellular activity, INSIDE the cell, without killing the cell.

You know how it's 2014 and we still don't understand how memories are formed, or what the exact interactions between cancers and health cells are, or how we're always looking for new ways to deliver targeted medication/toxins on a cellular level?

Yeah, all of that ties back to this. Want to know what exactly is going on as the ebola virus invades a cell? This will let you see it, in real time.

This is the stuff that is the bedrock that leaps in scientific knowledge is based on. We are staring at the shoulders of a giant.

-Rick

yesterday
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FTDI Removes Driver From Windows Update That Bricked Cloned Chips

RingDev Re:Computer Missues Act 1990 (540 comments)

My understanding is that in this case, if you had a non-FTDI driver on one computer, and a FTDI driver on another computer, that after plugging the device into the computer with the FTDI driver, the device would no longer function on the computer with the non-FTDI driver (assuming that it also did not account for PID 0).

Which means that they did in fact break it (as in intentionally misconfiguring it such that it would no longer function on any known systems).

-Rick

yesterday
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How Women Became Gamers Through D&D

RingDev Re:More feminist FUD (238 comments)

"Ascended. As in Nethack?"

Yup, which is what I point out when ever someone tells me they are "hard core". I'll give prop to people who even recognize what that means (props yo!), and anyone claiming to be a hard core gamer that doesn't understand what that means, well, lets just say that I'm not impressed ;)

I do know a hard core raider woman in EVE. I don't play EVE though, so I don't know the details, but my buddy (her roommate) plays 2nd fiddle to her.

I'm also not big on the CoD/DotA games these days. I use to get my fair share of TMP kills back in the Counter Strike days (pre-Source). But I've been in WoW/EQ guilds with women GMs, women main tanks, and women achievement seekers that have put me to shame with their accomplishments (and I consider myself a pretty solid gamer).

Maybe there are other women shamming other women in the gaming segment, it's definitely an issue for some of the other pro-women activities I support (like the Slut Walk in DC). And that is something that should also be tackled. But Women-women shamming is a drop in the bucket compared to the flood of male dominated sexist stereotyping, harassment, and abuse that the vast majority of ALL women have to deal with.

We've got a lot of work to do on >our subculture's behavior before we worry about other groups.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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Android On Intel x86 Tablet Performance Explored: Things Are Improving

RingDev Re:Why should I care? (97 comments)

There are some apps that are Windows/Adroid only. In order to run them side-by-side, you need some form of virtualization. Blue Stacks, Andyroid, etc...

The trick though, is that the Android VMs for Windows require a CPU and BIOS that support virtualization. Which means to pull this off, you explicitly need to know what processor (and BIOS) is in your phone or tablet.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

RingDev Re:credibility of article is doubtful (566 comments)

The "reactor" includes the entire system, boiler, turbines, chillers, etc... The "reactor core" is effectively the nuclear element of it. You could replace the core with a coal fired furnace and the rest of the reactor would still function largely the same (although you probably wouldn't need the triple redundant cooling systems).

Seeing as how the conversation here revolves around the nuclear aspect of the reactor, I think it's fair to say that replacing the reactor core would count ;)

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

RingDev Re:credibility of article is doubtful (566 comments)

Not sure if there is actually "data" for such an argument.

The USS Enterprise (1962-2012) was the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the US Navy.
1962 - refueling
1964 - refueling/upgrades
1968 - refueling
1970 - refueling/new reactor cores (10 year fuel cycles)
1980 - refueling/upgrades
1990 - refueling/upgrades

Those are just the obvious ones. There are a ton of other redacted service reports where the nuclear systems were likely refined. But this ship was not refueled only once at half it's life. It did receive new reactors less than 10 year in. And while there aren't any specific notes about other reactor replacements/upgrades, with how much of the service record isn't available to the public, it's quite possible there were other replacements as well.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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How Women Became Gamers Through D&D

RingDev Re:It's always been a myth (238 comments)

Regardless of Quinn's behavior, the social reaction is the issue. I give two shits who Quinn sleeps with. But when I see the vomitus mass of vitriol spewed over any and all women in the gaming industry, I take offence.

It doesn't matter what Quinn did, she doesn't deserve death/violence/rape threats. Nobody does.

Even if she did lack journalistic integrity, it isn't a free pass for assholes to dox and harass her, nor any other women.

Let that sink in.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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How Women Became Gamers Through D&D

RingDev Re:More feminist FUD (238 comments)

Skyrim's actually really popular with women. Partly because it's so fun to play

Fixed that for you. Being "open-ended and exploratory" does not make it more enjoyable for women it makes it more enjoyable for anyone who enjoys open-ended or exploratory games. Just as hardcore games are no more enjoyable for men than they are for women. Hell, my wife has ascended, how many guys do you know that have pulled that off? Women are just as capable of being hardcore gamers as men are. Unfortunately the culture of hardcore gamers has largely shunned women trying to make it in the scene, so it's no big surprise that there are less women. And while your post is a lot better than reading the rape and violence threats, you are still propagating some of the same old stereo types that were trying to break down. -Rick

about two weeks ago
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Netflix Video Speed On FiOS Doubles After Netflix-Verizon Deal

RingDev Re: Possible solution (204 comments)

I disagree with the your analogy in that Netflix does not have any means by which to deliver to me directly. They provide a service accessible to the ISPs. The ISPs are using that service I their sales pitch to me the customer.

As for the behavior of ISPs, check the more recent.post about ISPs altering packets. Specifically the linked video of the guy showing the difference in quality of Netflix direct and Netflix via VPN. It becomes immediately obvious that there is an artificial cap that Verizon was enforcing on Netflix traffic. We've seen the same results over other ISPs numerous times over the last few years.

Before netflix it was the torrents. The ISPs will always look for ways to exploit their market control to maximize profits.

I'm with you that without the monopolies there wouldn't be an issue. But because of the realities we deal with, this type of behavior has to be monitored, objected to, and quite likely legislated.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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Netflix Video Speed On FiOS Doubles After Netflix-Verizon Deal

RingDev Re:Possible solution (204 comments)

Lets say I pay a sub shop for a sandwich. I then pay you to go get my sandwich. When you get to the sup shop, you tell them that if they want to have their sandwich delivered, they will also have to pay you.

At this point, if they decline to pay you, I'll never get my sandwich, which will impact my willingness to order sandwiches from them again.

And unfortunately, you personally are the only one who can get the sandwich for me. So I can't go out and find another sandwich getter.

That is the issue. Negotiating around an asymmetrical peering agreement isn't the end of the world. Allowing an entity with a monopoly dictate the negotiation of an asymmetrical peering agreement is a huge problem to the market.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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Interviews: Ask Florian Mueller About Software Patents and Copyrights

RingDev How can I... (187 comments)

As an independent software developer, how can I avoid getting dragged into a patent lawsuit? How can I leverage my rights to ensure others aren't exploiting my patents?

As a middle management cog in a large organization, how can I impress the importance of patents on the executive leadership? How can I work with our console on ensuring that our creations are correctly patented? And what steps should I be taking to minimize our risk of being sued?

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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The Correct Response To Photo Hack Victim-Blamers

RingDev Re:So we can't call anyone stupid anymore (622 comments)

He made a poor choice, he ignored others' warnings, and he has to live with the repercussions of it.

He didn't commit the crime. He wasn't "asking for it". He isn't to blame for someone else's bad behavior.

But he's still stupid.

He should be able to walk through his neighborhood loaded with easily fenced jewelry. Young women should be able to go to parties without worrying about getting drugged. Investors should be able to give money to financial investors without getting suckered into losing it all.

But that's not the world we live in. And yeah, we continue to teach our kids to no steal, to not rape, to not con. But the world shapes them, and they will make poor decisions at some point in time. So we also teach them to think defensively, to keep their valuables locked up, to hang out with trusted friend, and to thoroughly investigate anyone who is advertising a 10% return in a down market.

Making my child wear a seatbelt is not blaming him for the drunk driver that hit the car.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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Liking Analog Meters Doesn't Make You a Luddite (Video)

RingDev Analog displays are better in some situations. (155 comments)

Especially when you don't need to know the exact number and you need a visual indicator that can be recognized at a glance.

Speedometers, tachometers, load balance reporting, etc...

I don't need to know the exact mbps that is currently getting pulled off my server, I need to know at a glance if my load is going into the red. I don't have the time to take my eyes off the road to read that I am traveling at 55.4 MPH @ 2571 RPMs, I just need to know that my needle is pointing up and left, and that my tach isn't pointing straight up.

That said, I want digital values for all of those things, streaming in real time through the appropriate systems, feeding logs, and populating data warehouses for later analysis.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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Tesla Announces Dual Motors, 'Autopilot' For the Model S

RingDev Re:Awesome (283 comments)

At 10 years, you are likely at the very brink of the lifespan of the battery pack.

The 60khw battery pack (since we're debating the bottom end options here) gets ~200 miles per charge. I would anticipate that would drop off over the 10 year life span we're looking at, but I don't have hard numbers on it.

1 kwh in Wisconsin costs ~13.1 cents. So roughly $7.86 full per charge (~4c per mile).

Comparatively, I'm spending ~10c per mile on fuel for my Golf TDI.

Figure ~13,000 miles driven per year by your average American. $520 for the Tesla, $1300 for the Golf. So you come out ahead, on average, $780 a year. Over 10 years, the savings on fuel is roughly half of the $15,000 you mentioned, assuming it can maintain a 200 mile charge for the 10 year lifespan.

But, you also have to look at the costs of the loan. A $70,000 car note over 5 years is going to cost ~$10,200 in interest. Compared to a $22k car (VW Golf TDI) where that same 5 year note is going to cost ~$3,200.

So the fuel savings ($7800) is almost entirely wiped out by the additional interest cost ($7000).

There are other savings, probably a hundred dollars a year in oil changes, the 100,000 mile timing belt ($800), but most of the other maintenance matches between the two cars.

There is really nothing here that makes it easier to swallow. If you want a $70k automobile as an upper-middle income household of 4, you will need to make radical spending changes and/or live paycheck to paycheck on the edge of your finances.

Wait for the kids to go off to college and buy one for your mid-life crisis.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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Tesla Announces Dual Motors, 'Autopilot' For the Model S

RingDev Re:Awesome (283 comments)

A $70k car, with a 5 year note at 5.5% interest is a monthly payment of $1337.

A head house hold primary earner of family of 4 with a $100k annual salary is probably looking at ~80k after taxes.

A $250k mortgage, +PMI, +Homeowners insurance, +Property Tax is going to be ~1500 a month: 62k.

Health insurance, assuming they have a job with benefits is probably $600 a month (give or take depending on amorting the deductible over the year and out of pocket expenses), 55k.

Groceries are ~250 a week, 42k.

Electric/Gas/Water/Sewage/Home maintenance is another $500 a month, 36k.

Depending on your driving history/age/location, insurance is going to be between 1500 and 5000 a year, 34k.

Cable/Phone/Internet, pick your poison, you're likely out ~120 a month, 32k.

Add on that $1337/month car payment and you're down to $16k.

Note that at this point, you still need to buy clothes (especially for 2 growing kids) likely have a 2nd car, with insurance, a fuel bill, and maintenance (possibly even another loan), maybe student loans, heaven forbid either of your kids need braces, or your water heater dies.

So yes, an upper-middle income individual /could/ in theory do it. But it would mean living extremely modestly and surviving basically paycheck to paycheck. Any significant disruption would lead to immediate financial stability concerns.

That individual would be dramatically better off putting that 16k a year into a 401k and IRA or college funds for the kids. Buying a 70k car isn't an investment, even if it retains its value better than other vehicles, you're still losing out big time between depreciation and interest payments.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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Tesla Announces Dual Motors, 'Autopilot' For the Model S

RingDev Re:Awesome (283 comments)

I would argue that a middle classer who bought a car that costs more than a year's salary has piss poor money management.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

RingDev Re:I hate those fsking keyboards. (304 comments)

True story. I worked with a dick that had access to dozens of these in an old storage room. We moved from offices to a cube farm and he would beat on that thing so that the entire office had to listen to him. Eventually, we took to hiding his keyboard in the wall panels on the cubes, but he would just get another one out of storage and send out angry emails, and the cycle would repeat.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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Why America Won't Match Sweden's Cheap, Fast, Competitive Internet Services

RingDev Re:Cost of government-provided services (346 comments)

I pay $45 a month to a company that receives substantial government subsidies (from me, the tax payer) for a 6mb/512kb DSL connection that has never pulled more than 1.2mb down. My only other options are satellite (massive lag), cell (3g), or WiMax (with low uptime performance and significant lag).

There is a tax payer funded fiber line that follows the road right in front of my house, but it was sold/licensed out to a private company who does not service my house nor my neighbors.

At the end of the day, if you look at total communications as a % of GDP and compare the US to Sweden, my guess is that we wouldn't see a significant difference. The total cost balances out between pocket books and tax revenue. But there is clearly a difference in services provided.

And the US tax payers are paying for these networks. Every mile of interstate highway in Wisconsin has a matching mile of 30+ strand dark fiber sitting right next to it, paid for entirely by state and federal taxes. I would expect that every other state has similar programs. Eventually those lines will be lit up and leased/sold to private communications corporations, who will charge us all again for the privilege of using the pipes we paid for.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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Fuel Efficiency Numbers Overstate MPG More For Cars With Small Engines

RingDev depends on the manufacturer (403 comments)

In my '06 VW TDI I was pulling 42+mpg (trip odometer and gas receipts) consistently with the cruise set at 65 and 79mph (highway/interstate) with little in-town travel. And I'm the kind of guy that, "drives it like he stole it". Even now with my new commute being ~15 mintues of stop-and-go traffic and ~10 minutes of blasting around country corners and hard accel/braking I still manage 34-36 mpg.

The '06 VW Golf TDI was rated at 31 city, 40 highway, 34 combined:
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg...

One day I bumped into a hyper-miler with a '06 VW Jetta TDI (non-hatchback version of the Golf) at the gas station in town that sells Diesel. He ran low resistance tires, swapped out 5th gear for the 6th gear out of the performance tranny, chipped the computer, and drove slow enough to be annoying. With all that he was pushing 60mpg.

-Rick

about two weeks ago

Submissions

Journals

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Nancy Pelosi to Democrats: "Be Republicans"

RingDev RingDev writes  |  more than 6 years ago

I think I have finally figured out why Nancy Pelosi is working so hard to screw democrats. Her last statement about the FISA bill finally cleared up my confusion. One of her aids said, "For any Republican-leaning district this would have been a huge issue" and goes on to estimate that "as many as 10 competitive races could have been affected by it..."

  The implication is simple. Pelosi is pursuing the Republican agenda in order to gain Republican votes. By gaining Republican votes and likely some Republican leaning politicians with a 'D' on their titles, she can turn the Democratic party into the NEW Republican party!

  Personally, if I wanted my elected officials to vote Republican, I would have voted Republican.

  Nancy Pelosi has put political ambition above the will of the people, and above the will of her own constituents who elected and supported her.

-Rick

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A new law to make breaking the old law illegal?

RingDev RingDev writes  |  more than 6 years ago

This is a copy of a post I made in the discussion on the most recent attempt to get the new FISA bill, with Telco immunity, pushed through congress:

Okay, I like Obama's stance on a lot of the issues, but this is just retarded.

"Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President's illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance - making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people."

So Bush's wire taps were illegal, meaning they were/are in violation of existing laws. So we're going to make a NEW law that makes it illegal for Bush to break the existing law?

He already broke the law, why would he care about breaking the law that would prevent him from breaking the law?!!?

Laws are designed to govern people that follow them. People who place themselves beyond the law will not be effected no matter how many laws are created. More laws will not make them change their behavior.

Punishment is the answer. Even if the punishment can not change their behavior it can limit their ability to affect others.

We've already determined that Bush's wiretaps were illegal. He broke the law. The answer isn't to create more laws, the answer is to enforce the laws that we already have!

The whole situation reminds me of a .sig a friend of mine uses. It's not cited, so I don't know if it's his work, or something he gleamed elsewhere:

Laws are not created to stop criminals, laws are created to control the law abiding masses. A criminal is a person that breaks the law, and creating more laws will not stop criminals from being criminals -- it just puts more controls on the law-abiding citizens. Unfortunately the law abiding masses have not realized this basic truth. When injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty.

-Rick

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"Support the troops" really pisses me off.

RingDev RingDev writes  |  more than 7 years ago

There are 2 types of people who support the troops: Those who are veterans, and those who have bumper stickers. Guess which one actually makes a difference.

If you want to bitch and moan about supporting the troops, and the Democrat's time table, go fight the good fight. There are plenty of recruiters with stacks of signing bonuses just waiting for you to walk in. If you're not willing to put your own neck on the line:

Don't talk about sacrifice until you've lost a loved one.
Don't talk about the importance until you've killed a person.
Don't talk about bravery until you've sat with your wall against a wall while small arms fire was coming in.

There are great people of this nation fighting, dieing, and being physically and mentally maimed for life. And to see a draft-dodging deserter like Bush giving speeches about "winning" the war, about being brave and tough, and about the difficulty of the decisions he makes... it rips my guts out to hear him, of all people, utter that crap. No sane person has ever survived a war and thought that war was a good solution. Sometimes, it is necessary, but the cost is so high, so many lives are lost or shattered, the cost of not going to war has to be huge.

Sorry for the rant, I'm just a bit worked up today and someone posted some inane 'yeah-but I support the troops' crap.

-Rick

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Ringdev's Razor

RingDev RingDev writes  |  about 8 years ago

Ringdev's Razor: "When there are two possible explanations for a given situation, one that requires a large amount of knowledge, skill, and luck, and another that requires gross incompetence; go with the incompetence explanation."

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A Gem of a quote

RingDev RingDev writes  |  more than 8 years ago

"Since the dawn of time, the x86 FPU has been organized as a stack

No no no, since the dawn of time, Man has yearned to destroy the Sun!

x86 came much later, right after the COBOL and the other dinosaurs."

Tumbleweed (3706)

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A possible MMO contender?

RingDev RingDev writes  |  more than 8 years ago I recently bumped into a game call "The Chronicle" That seems like it might be pretty close to what I was describing. A dynamic world where players build the cities and war with others. NPCs that react to events, and can actually be proactive. An active use skill learning system, no more arbitrary levels. An in depth fame/infamy system. And what looks like it may be a highly impressive crafting economic system (not sure on game play aspect of crafting yet). They also have a very interesting idea on a new way to play.

They have two kinds of characters, Regular, and Main. You get 1 main and 3 regs per server, your regular characters are limited to 70% max skill in any skill line, but they can re spawn when ever they die and work just like any other MMO's characters for the most part. Your Main on the other hand, can hit 100% max skill, can create guilds, and most importantly, is susceptible to Permadeath. Yes, your Main character can die for real. There are some catches to that. Mains have longer 'bleeding out' times. Mains also have the possibility of '2nd chances' where there is a slim possibility that your toon will be saved (whether by local NPCs who drag you to a healer, or by the Gnolls that are taking you back to their cave for a later meal). It also sounds like Mains will have the possibility to effect the world and story line more so then regulars.

This game has everything I was hoping for with one exception. The PvP aspect doesn't sound like it is RvR styled. It sounds much more anything goes shadowbane ish, where anyone can kill anyone. The developers had lots of tricks up their selves to make killing mains much more challenging (only a Main can kill another Main, and all Main avatars look just like regular avatars, and since there are no levels, there is no way to check the 'con' of another player). So it should be pretty intense.

Any ways, it looks like a fun one to keep an eye on.

-Rick

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Some MMO ideas...

RingDev RingDev writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Everyone has ideas for games, and I'm no exception, so here are a few of mine.

I have a few primary goals:
1) A dynamic world. I want to play a game where my guild and I can change the face of the planet.
2) A non-violent option. I want to play a game where my master crafter can be just as renowned as the greatest goblin slayer or war lord
3) A real economy. No more endless camping of critters to get your 10 million gold piece just to see it disappear from the game when you buy a house.

Ideas on achieving this:
The Dynamic World would take a bit of work. First, every server would start with one or two NPC cities. These cities are safe points, no PvE or PvP in the cities. The city would have it's own NPC guards that would ensure the safety of the immediate area surrounding the wall. So if a PKer or a pack of Kobolds where at the gates, the guards would kill them. But the farther from the wall you get, the less protection they offer. But as players branch out from the city they can build houses and forts. These locations they must purchase the land, and have the option of paying 'taxes'. Taxes would go to NPC guards, or two a contracted guild (with NPC augmentation). Each time a new establishment is created, the evil critters are pushed back. But the critters aren't dumb. Goblin after goblin isn't going to grab their life savings and charge the front line, they are going to leave their valuables in safe places. Places for players to track down and raid. Of course that means charging into the center of the local goblin population. And raiding the local population's primary holding may push them back even further, or cause their numbers to join other goblin groups.

Obviously crafting would be extremely important, because the NPCs are all located at the center of the universe and the wars and exploration are happening as the far reaches. NPC items are also of limited use. So crafters become the tool for the front lines. In order for this to work though you need a new crafting system. With this much importance on crafting, a painfully repetitive system (ala: DAoC) will only lead to scripting. No, it would be much better to have a wider range of production with a lot more input from the player. Remember, a character may solely be a crafter, so making an item has to be just as entertaining as killing those goblins. Creating houses, forts, walls, etc... would all be crafting tasks. Sure, a player could pay a large fee for an NPC to do the work, or they could create a layout plan and pay a PC to do the work for less and with a likelihood of higher quality. Crafters will depend on materials though, so there will be another set of specialties for harvesters (lumber jacks, miners, farmers, etc). Balancing the tediousness of harvesting is going to be a challenge, but there are answers. When mining you can pull out different materials, maybe you can find a gold vein and can mine the whole thing, maybe you find a coal deposit, maybe iron. Searching out these different components can be part of it. The same for lumbar, cutting down that pine tree is fast, but it's wood is soft, going for the 200 year old oak will take a lot longer, but will get you a lot more hard wood.

Which reminds me, reputation is every thing. An in game reputation system is extremely important. Group performance, crafting skill, customer approval, etc...

So we know crafters and suppliers are important, what about the people who like hack and slash? I see a few options: Army duty, Adventuring/Exploring, Guard duty. Army duty is for professional soldiers. Eventually, two separate houses far enough away from the city will declare war on each other, or perhaps two cities will expand far enough to encounter each other, or even perhaps some evil entity will generate the numbers require to wage an all out war. In these cases the Lords of the town/house/group has the option of paying players for spending time in their military. You might be on patrol routes, or on a front line, but in any case you will likely be involved with a good number of battles either group vs group or mass vs mass. Adventurers and explorers are the ones who would blaze paths into the unknown. They may find the caves that the Ogres have been raiding from. They may find new resource deposits. They may perform recon for different factions. And finally, guard duty. A guild could elect to take guard duty for a house or fort. A house owner could offer to pay so much gold to a guild for protection. Now paying people to stand in front of a house is boring, so NPC's would be used for most of the time. The NPC's would warn the guild of suspicious activity, and of the money paid by the house owner, the guild would get a % that reflects the % of time they were on the property or in the immediate area. So your guild could perform guard duty for a house for 500g a month, but if you only have someone spend a few hours at the house a month, the pay out will be only a small percent. But if the property is a hot spot and you have guards their through out the day, you would earn much more of the monthly payment.

Additional adventuring locations could be instanced out. Small quests, unique exploration points, and much of the low level content. The act of leveling would be rather short as the fun stuff is out side the static city in the dynamic world. After clearing out the bakers rat infestation and a couple runs through the city's grave yard and catacombs, it's time to set out and make a mark on the world. The other thing I never liked about leveling is well, leveling. I'm a much larger fan of "do it-improve it". If you swing a battle axe for 10 days, you get better at it. If you cast nothing but lightning spells, you get better at lightning spells. My preference is for a maximum number of skill points, say 200. Any skill tops out at 100. So you can put 100 points into sword and 100 points into shield and have yourself a classic tank. Or you could put 100 points into battle axe and 100 points into armour smithing and have yourself a side business. Or you could put 75 in sword, 75 in shield and 50 in lightning element magic and be a slightly weaker tank with a decent ranged magic attack. Obviously there would be a ton of balancing that would have to go into such a system, but I think it would allow people to do what they enjoy and watch their character improve. And you wouldn't need to 'respec', if you want to switch weapons, just switch weapons and your points will start dropping in the old skill you aren't using and go up in the new skill you are using.

Well, that's my idea.

-Rick

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What we're doing in Iraq

RingDev RingDev writes  |  more than 8 years ago

I have a theory. This theory was initially stated in late 2001/early 2002 while at a bar with some friends. At that point in time I had just got out of the Marine Corps and 9/11 was a fresh memory. My time line is a bit fuzzy because this was quite a while ago and many of the realization where made while drinking.

One thing I learned while in the military over seas is the drunk military guys f' things up all over the world. We have troops station in South Korea, Australia, Japan, and tons of other places too. And most of the time, everything is good. Then you get some jack ass who gets drunk and runs down the local magistrate's prom queen daughter and the whole region goes up in arms. So anyways, onto the theory.

After 9/11 the US revved up the war machine and laid the smack down on Afghanistan. Funny things about war time media coverage, other minor stories get pushed aside. Two of those stories though caught my eye. First was an announcement that Saudi Arabia was requesting that we remove all military presence from their soil. Not a big shocker, like I said before, drunk military guys do the damndest things, or so I thought at the time. And second, was a story about a Nigeria diplomat who sold documents to an Italian diplomat that showed Saddam trying to buy yellow cake uranium, that story was followed up by a denouncement (the work of Mr. Plane most likely). But it was rather quite and was nothing compared to the war in Afghanistan.

Any time you have large masses of US military stuck in someoneelse's country, the neighbors get nervous. Turkey was having debates on allowing the US troops to stage and using their air space, and Iran, well, they were moving in a radical direction and wound up electing a former hostage taker as their president (My former OIC was one of the Marines held hostage in Lebanon by that guy). The Pakistani board warlords were armed to the teeth. Saudi Arabia booted our troops.

Now the US is left in a rough spot, with a radical government in control of Iran, and no serious staging grounds on the western side of the country. The US needed to get a foot hold in the region to keep pressure on Iran.

Enter Iraq! A weak military, a dictator Americans would love to see brought down, a fortune in oil to socialize (worked in Kuwait!), and the perfect place to make our next permanent middle east forward outpost.

Scrounge up some iffy documentation on Saddam trying to get weapons grade nuclear material (even if it had already been refuted), and market the hell out of it. I felt bad for Collin Powel, he was trying to do the right thing, get into Iraq with the public behind him with out lying. Bush had no such qualms (or intelligence) and Rumsfeld is a war time chief, he's good at it, but even he can't paint a crap log pretty.

It was at about this point in time that I finally put 2 and 2 together. We were going to war. It would be over fast, 2 weeks top. There would be rejoicing. Then there would be death. Another thing I learned in the Marine Corps. Attacking a guerrilla force in an urban environment with current practices results in very heavy casualties. In field exercises a small skilled force could inflict up to 70% casualties before being overrun. And after being overrun skilled independents could still inflict casualties over and over again with minimum risk to themselves. Not only would there be deaths in the cities, but it would be long term. Remember, the whole reason for being there wasn't for oil, or nukes, or a democratic agenda, it was to put a serious military force with in striking distance of Iran.

And here we are, the war was over in a few days with a hand full of casualties. But we stayed, and slowly over time we are taking more and more hits. Bush refuses to set a deadline to bring troops home, because he doesn't intend to. Creating a permanent military installation is the goal. Sure, as things stabilize more and more our numbers will be reduced, but there will always be a solid presence inside Iraq. At least until the politicians boot us out ;)

And I can't say the plan was a bad one. Iran is a significantly larger threat and terrorist backer then Iraq ever was. And with Iran's leadership making rumblings of nuclear power and anti-Israeli sentiment, I have to agree that having a local launch pad is a good thing.

Unfortunately the execution of this plan was about worth bat shit. The war has been mismanaged, underestimated, and poorly handled since day one.

Things that could have been done better:
1) Don't disband the bath party and Iraqi military. The structure was there, use it. Take charge of it. And let the people replace it with a democracy on their own schedule.
2) Policing. The US should have stepped up and stopped the looting, this would have been much easier had the Iraqi army not been disbanded.
3) Get the infrastructure back up ASAP. During the war the first things we took out was power and communications. It's hard as hell to win a war with out them, and it's rough as hell to run a country with out them either.
4) Win the publicity war. I had friends who were building schools, creating new water cleansing plants, rebuilding bridges and playgrounds. But what do we hear? car bombs and casualties.
5) Lock down the boarders. Come hard and fast and with lots of cash. Use the Pakistani War Lords on the board as mercs. They know the terrain and can drastically cut down on the number of foreign combatants. Make it a simple choice, take the money and help, or we find someone who will to replace you.

That's my babble for the day. It is almost all conjecture, and I am no longer in the military or in any way associated or in contact with the government. So I could be completely wrong, but this explanation makes a lot more sense to me then the 'bad intelligence' theory the white house is spitting out, and much more sense then the 'blood for oil' crap from the Micheal Moore camp.

-Rick

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DRM-Soft

RingDev RingDev writes  |  more than 8 years ago After an interesting discussion on the Vista x64 signed drivers debate, BeBoxer convinced me to stop calling my DRM idea a DRM. And I understand where he is comming from. So from now on, I'm going to refer to my vision as 'DRM-Soft'. Hmmm, maybe I should patent this thing. ;)

-Rick

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My DRM Dream

RingDev RingDev writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Quite often the topic of DRM's come up, and I often take heat for having a pro-DRM solution. To clarify I would like to say that I think all current DRM solutions are horrendous. They are either intrusive on consumer rights/fair play, lock the user into one system (Apple), create security issues (Sony), or report activity back to a central tracking system (Music leasing systems). I find these options to all be unacceptable. But I also see the importance of DRM's to the digital market. It is for that reason that I figured I post this here, since I wind up posting about it decently often.

My solution would be a hardware integrated system, which means it would be best implemented with a new medium (ie: HD-DVD/Blu-ray, holo disks, what ever comes next). It would also have to be implemented in all new old media players also (so that a new CD player could play content with this DRM). The driver for the hardware would be closed source, but open standard, and the assemblies would have to be available on all industry standard processors (ie x86, arm, etc). The goal there is to make the 'black box' portion of the DRM as widely available and ubiquitous as possible. Proprietary systems from different vendors just screw users(like the Apple lock in). Since we are going for total solution that also means ensuring that the 'black box' MUST work with Linux, albeit as a closed source driver.

The key to me is loosely defining the boarder between legal activity, and illegal. I don't want the DRM to enforce the law, I just want the DRM to make it more cumbersome to break the law. To do this we need an identifier, likely for a person, family, or household. The DRM would allow you to bind your personal/family/household identifiers to the hardware. And by identifiers I just mean some easy to entry code, maybe like 5 digits 1-6 (so even basic car stereos can be easily set up). Now that you have all of your hardware entered with your keys, you can stick your DRM'd content into it. The content, if marked as being just sold, updates it's acceptable key's with those that are on the hardware. You now have a piece of DRM'd content that is associated with all of your gear. You can burn it to CD, copy it, put it on the internet, what ever, but it will have that association to your gear. (Notice that the 5 digit identifier is not going to be an absolute unique identifier, so no one can 'track back' from the internet who gave who what)

But then comes the question about loaning media to a friend? Sure, pop the media in to your player of choice, if the content's key is not listed on the hardware, it just prompts you for it. That way, you can borrow all of your friends music, but mass distribution is significantly less likely because everyone would have to keep lists of their downloaded content and what identifier goes with each piece.

There are a few things that I don't have figured out, like what if you want to resell a piece of content? Do you need to content the original copyright holder to get the key reset? and what's preventing every user in the world from using 55555 as their household key? But if those issues could be figured out, you would have a system that reduces (not prevents!) casual piracy, and doesn't effect the user's rights under fair use.

-Rick

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