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NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities For Venus Exploration

RingDev Re:As with all space missions: (194 comments)

75 C = 167 F.

"17 degrees" in this case means a 30 degree F jump. And while 138 F is survivable for short durations with a lot of hydration, 167 F would not be anything to attempt to live in.

We're not talking about an air ship where you can take a leisurely stroll on the pool deck admiring the Venetian sunset. We're talking about a space ship that is suspended in a convection stove.

-Rick

yesterday
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In Iowa, a Phone App Could Serve As Driver's License

RingDev Re:Uh huh (207 comments)

"But law enforcement can get that history quite easily whether or not that have my phone" ... With a warrant.

-Rick

about a week ago
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In Iowa, a Phone App Could Serve As Driver's License

RingDev Re:Uh huh (207 comments)

"Looking at your phone here it appears that you had a 5 minute call with the deceased on the night of the murder. Also, looking at your GPS log, it appears that you were in the vicinity of their apartment and then drove down some country roads near where we found the body."

Never mind the fact that you are a friend of the deceased, live a mile away from them, and take the country roads to avoid the congestion of the main drag at rush hour. You are now suspect #1.

Your phone's existence in today's digital age is in itself "important" when it comes to criminal investigations.

-Rick

about a week ago
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Microsoft Files a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit For Activating Pirated Software

RingDev Re:Creators wishing to control their creations... (268 comments)

Something has been taken from them in the same way that I have taken your ability to appear intelligent.

The only thing lost is theoretical profits. For which you can take someone to civil court over, prove damages, and get your money back.

I'm not opposed to the existence of IP in general. I am opposed to grossly vague patents, and copyrights that extend for more than 7-20 years. The point of IP is to drive the creation of inventions and art to further society. Not to create model within which people defend an idea from use for decades or prevent media from ever entering the public domain.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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The Rise of the Global Surveillance Profiteers

RingDev Re:But can you trust them? (33 comments)

Funny story, Dick Cheney and the like don't make decisions at this level.

When it comes to actual implementation projects with open bidding, there is a selection committee that handles the decision making. With scoring criteria based on measurable metrics.

Those selection committees contain a variety of stake holders. Typically you have someone from the brass, a couple of middle managers from the primary departments involved, an engineer, a business area expert, and management from IT.

Do you really think Cheney came up with an idea for a secondary email system to allow the Bush administration to get around the open records laws? No, it was a group of middle managers, brown nosers, political hacks, and someone from IT.

Now, there are serious issues when you wind up with no-bid contracts where senior political figures side step process and implement crap without regard for the law. But there is a lot of heat and pressure that comes along with those moves (as my own Governor has discovered).

But in other cases, IT leadership in state governments has a lot of pull on implementations. So yes, I do have the ability to shape the direction of our ATMS selection.

So if you want to do something about it, get off your pessimistic duff and get involved in government. If you don't trust others to do it right, then do it yourself!

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Files a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit For Activating Pirated Software

RingDev Re:Creators wishing to control their creations... (268 comments)

Negative, the originator still has the right to decide to distribute, or not.

What you have taken from them is a governmentally enforced monopoly of a thought.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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The Rise of the Global Surveillance Profiteers

RingDev Re:But can you trust them? (33 comments)

There is a way to fight back though.

I work for the State. I am involve in our "advanced traffic management system", part of which will include systems to interact with the new SRCR systems the feds are mandating on 2017 model year cars.

There are other people on this project who have proposed all manor of things like, "We should be able to turn off a car that is speeding excessively", and "We should be able to track a vehicles movements and tax them based on miles driven", which basically just hearing makes me feel like I need a shower.

But since I am involved in the process, I can push back on these things, I can point out that we shouldn't be tracking vehicles, that we should be tracking rotating GUIDs that make it virtually impossible to identify an individuals travel patterns should our system be compromised. That we shouldn't be enabling a system that would kill power steering and power breaks on a vehicle traveling 100 mph. That we should be focusing the ATMS efforts on systems that have proven trends to reduce accidents and prevent fatalities.

Believe it or not, your government is nothing more than a collection of citizens. And while politicians are generally the scum of the earth, there are many great state and federal employees who are doing their best to make the country a better place.

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

RingDev Re:As an IT Manager (545 comments)

Also an IT Manager. I try to keep my team capped out at 42 hours per week. Every once and a while we'll have some sort of emergency, but that's where comp time comes in.

As an IT manager, my week starts at 42 hours and grows from there. I'll be pushing 50 on this week by the time I leave for the night.

And my day today included interviews for an additional permanent BA/PM, 6 mainframe developers, and I was told by my boss that we were going to "load balance" from the C#/GSI team onto my Java team, that I would be getting at least 4 more projects, 2 FTEs, and probably half a dozen contractors.

So if there is any change to over time reqs, please let them include us!

-Rick

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: IT Career Path After 35?

RingDev Re:Of course you can! (376 comments)

It's a mixed bag, salaries tend to be a bit lighter, but you get an honest to goodness pension. Depending on what State and what department, there are other goodies as well. Where I am I get 3 weeks of vacation (starting), 3.5 weeks of sick time (unused sick time carries over year to year and can be cashed out at retirement to pay for health insurance), 4.5 days of "personal time" each year, along with all of the state holidays. Makes the work-life balance a little more easily managed ;)

-Rick

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: IT Career Path After 35?

RingDev Re:Of course you can! (376 comments)

To add to this, I work for the State these days. Coming from a private sector shrinkwrap software company where the median age was ~28 and the average tenure was ~2 years, to the State where the average age is probably closer to 35-40, and the average tenure is 10+ years, it was a huge shock.

There is good and bad that comes with it. I've seen more complacency with jobs/technology. People aren't interested in making a jump to newer technologies and patterns because they don't feel like they have to. But on the bright side, you get to skip out on the vast majority of the junior dev shop drama.

But if you're north of 35, look at your local state agencies, no one would blink an eye at a 40-something applying for a job. And certs, while useful for getting you through the resume screening, are dramatically less valuable than networking and having someone in the department that will recommend you for an interview.

-Rick

about three weeks ago
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Security Experts Believe the Internet of Things Will Be Used To Kill Someone

RingDev Re:Most people would not do this (165 comments)

Canadians ;)

The way they described it was similar to how my German friends described it. After high school you have to do something; college, apprenticeship, peace corps/community service, or military. You can't just graduate and keep flipping burgers.

Every Canadian I know is either former Mounty or Army. There may be some nuance to it that I'm not aware of, or perhaps I am ill informed.

-Rick

about three weeks ago
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Security Experts Believe the Internet of Things Will Be Used To Kill Someone

RingDev Re:Most people would not do this (165 comments)

To be fair though, both Canada and Switzerland have forced conscription. So all of their native able bodied gun owners have completely weapons handling training at the military level.

-Rick

about three weeks ago
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Researchers Discover an "Off Switch" For Pain In the Brain

RingDev Re:Introduction already $$$ (83 comments)

Here's the thing, there are some forms of nerve damage that we currently don't have a cure for, there are far more that we don't even understand well enough to have an idea for a cure, and there are some that are so poorly understood, even significant swaths of the medical community doubt that they are real and accuse patients of being drug seekers.

For example: Fibromyalgia. It isn't a disease in it's own right, it is a classification of a set of symptoms that have not been able to be attached to a source. There are lots of theories and progress is being made in the field. But when the causes could be genetic, dietary, environmental, psychological, or even sleep related, any step forward could be helpful for some subset of FM sufferers, but leave the rest without aid.

If this approach can be made to work, it would mean that virtually all of the FM sufferers in the world could lead a normal life, while at the same time research continues on the underlying causes of their conditions.

When you wake up every day and have to see your spouse, your child, or your friends in agony because for no meaningful reason their brain decides that they should feel like every joint is coated with sandpaper, that every muscle is strained and torn, that every tendon is inflamed, then any option, even one that profits some greedy ass in a suit, becomes a miracle.

-Rick

about three weeks ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

RingDev Re:Deliberate (652 comments)

"The "we could have a Chernobyl every year" argument is just stupid."

YES! Absolutely! That's what started this whole chain off.

-Rick

about three weeks ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

RingDev Re:Deliberate (652 comments)

Uhg, this isn't knee jerk opposition to nuclear.

I'm not opposed to the continued use of nuclear power.

I'm in favor of moving to modern nuclear power facilities in place of the old ones. Yes, a 60 year old reactor can keep on chugging for another 20 years, but I'd much rather have a reactor designed with the safety of graphite or thorium running in their place for the next 80 years.

My opposition is not to nuclear power in general. My opposition is to saying that "we could have a Chernobyl every year..." without catastrophic repercussions.

-Rick

about three weeks ago
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Researchers Say the Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist

RingDev Re:STEM is for suckers.. at least now. (454 comments)

Of the resumes, numerous were of quality. Of the applicants, I still have 8 more on my interview list, but 2 appear to be of high quality so far.

If I am unable to fill the remaining positions from my current list, I have the other resumes from people who like to write novels to go through.

Similarly, for a slew of mainframe developers I received 60 some resumes, about the same for software PMs, high 40s for a handful of BI/ETL/DBA/Reporting positions.

Filling a couple of spots for a modern technology really isn't hard to find quality folks. Filling 9 mainframe spots is rough though.

-Rick

about three weeks ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

RingDev Re:Deliberate (652 comments)

I don't care about killing >a fish. I care about killing off fisheries. I don't care about killing off some bacteria. I care about killing off significant swaths of bacteria that allow other more resilient strains to take over and negatively impact our agriculture industry.

This isn't me being some high and mighty tree hugger. This is me being concerned that there are dramatic indirect impacts on our environment that aren't included in a 'direct human casualties' metric.

Coal and oil are also highly concerning. This isn't a free pass for them either.

There are safer nuclear options, as mentioned in previous posts, thorium salt reactors seem like a huge step forward in the safety department. Even with traditional uranium reactors, as you point out, massive improvements have been designed over the last 50+ years. But we are still depending on reactors that were built in the 50's and 60's that had an original planned lifespan of 40 years, but keep getting extended.

-Rick

about three weeks ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

RingDev Re:Deliberate (652 comments)

"Most of it's green. Like most northern areas if you take pictures at the right time you can get very dead looking terrain."

The problem isn't the green, the problem is the growing mass of dead tissue that is decomposing at an incredibly slow rate due to the lack of (or greatly reduced population of) bacteria, fungus, and molds that aid in the decomposing process.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/...

As stated previously, a single incident like Chernobyl can be isolated and mitigated. A 'Chernobyl event every year' on the other hand, can lead to a cascading effect where microbial life is so effected that the standard processes our ecologies depend on shift dramatically.

"I suggest you check your research. They've been testing/developing pebble bed reactors, but they've run into issues such that they're not replacements for rod type reactors yet."

Fair point, I was under the mistaken impression that France have taken a pair of pebble bed reactors live many years ago. That's what I get for trusting my recollection of a 30 year old news story ;)

"My point has always been not that nuclear is harmless, but that it's less harmful than the alternatives while still remaining affordable(minus political stuff)."

Nuclear without incident is less harmful. A single incident is still less harmful. But a sustained practice that leads to a significant incident each year can have a much larger impact by means of cascading ecological change.

And when you get back to the root issue, $/kW, we wind up in an interesting position. http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/a... has a nice breakdown of what we can look forward to. And the question then is, if Nuclear is no cheaper than wind/hydro, and comes with dramatically more risk, why aren't we investing in more wind/hydro solutions instead?

-Rick

about three weeks ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

RingDev Re:Deliberate (652 comments)

"1. The total death impact from Chernobyl is roughly 4k people"

Again, I'm not comparing the immediate death tool. Taking that approach is penny wise, pound foolish. I'm pointing out that while a single limited nuclear catastrophe can occur with limited repercussions, a continuous series of such incidents creates a feedback loop where the secondary impact is far worse than the initial impact.

"2. The exclusion zone is 1k km, 1 a year would add up to 1M 'off limits', most of it indistinguishable from a natural park"

A "natural park"? Really? Have you seen what the controlled area looks like? I'll give you a hint, all of the dead wood, plant matter, animal life, etc... doesn't biodegrade. It just stays there, dead, dehydrated. No rot. no mold. Because the levels of radiation through out the area, while not immediately harmful to humans, is strong enough to kill off bacteria and fungi. There is nothing natural about Chernobyl.

"3. 1 Chernobyl/year is an absolute worst case scenario."

I whole heartedly disagree. A Chernobyl in Nebraska is a vastly worse case scenario.

"4. Estimates range from 4k to 93k deaths from the accident and resulting radiation"

Again, this is only >Human deaths. If you look at the full ecological impact that number is dramatically higher. As it is for coal and oil as well.

If you put your blinders on and look at only the direct and immediate impact on humans, yeah, nuclear looks really good. Take a step back an look at the nuclear impact on regional ecologies, and it doesn't look quite so rosy.

That said, I'm not opposed to nuclear power. I'm very interested in thorium-salt reactors. They offer much of the benefits of traditional nuclear reactors with a fraction of the risk. Even sticking with traditional uranium reactor, we need to dramatically improve our technology. These 60+ year old reactors have to be taken offline and replaced with modern technology. Hell, we're still using fuel rods in most of the US nuclear plants. Pebble beds have been in operation since the 1980's and we still haven't made the jump. Even better options are available today.

-Rick

about three weeks ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

RingDev Re:Deliberate (652 comments)

" If it was really so dangerous, why do we have more deaths because of steam accidents than nuclear ones?"

That statement is only true if you apply it only to human deaths. If you include sea life, I'd expect oil and nuclear to blow steam out of the water (no pun intended).

"We'd save lives going nuclear even if we had a Chernobyl every year."

Penny smart, pound retarded. Sure, we'd have less human deaths as a direct impact, but after enough Chernobyls, we would start have serious issues with ecological balance. Crops, fisheries, radioactive contamination, the whole system would lead to massive collapse after a decade. Sure, hardly anyone would die from the immediate impact of the annual nuclear meltdown, but once we start ticking off the body count of the millions dying to radiation poisoning and starvation, we might want to reconsider that path.

-Rick

about three 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  |  more than 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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