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How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D

wienerschnizzel TLDR Version (163 comments)

TSR, a small company dealing in the fringe hobby of "war gaming" got hugely popular at the beginning of 1980's thanks to an unexpected publicity from a hoax that got propagated by the national media.

The company owners and executives, Gygax and the Bloom brothers were no skilled businessmen and they projected this sudden jump in the company's revenue into the next years, expecting it to grow tenfold in a year. They went on a hiring and acquisition spree accordingly.

As the miraculous growth didn't come, TSR ran into financial problems, running on a $750k deficit by the mid 80's

The Bloom brothers tried to get a big outside investment to get the company out of the red numbers but Gygax opposed - he didn't want non-gamers to control the company. To this effect he executed an ancient option he got when the company was formed, gained a (very narrow) majority of the company's shares and thus the power to strip the Bloom brothers of their executive positions and void the investment by the outsiders.

In response the Blooms wanted to execute the option of selling all their shares back to the company for a large (but not outlandish) sum of some $500K but TSR could not afford it.

Half a year later the Blooms executed the same option Gygax did before to gain a slight majority in the company and sold all of their shares to Lorraine Williams for a third of the price per share, making her the largest and a majority shareholder.

One day later Gygax was stripped of all his executive positions in the company

He fought the decision in court, but really had no case and eventually sold off his shares in order to finance his new business.

How Gygax lost his copyright to D&D and Grayhawk the article does not say

All in all a really boring story

yesterday
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Suddenly Visible: Illicit Drugs As Part of Silicon Valley Culture

wienerschnizzel Re:Money - the ultimate natural selector (484 comments)

Plus, the article does not seem to understand the drugs it's talking about. Caffeine is definitely a workaholic's drug and I can see how it could be upgraded to cocaine. But oxycodone and other opiates? Those will not help you pull another over-nighter. They'll knock you out instead.

2 days ago
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EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

wienerschnizzel Does not make sense (625 comments)

Either you obesity causes you to have some real disabling condition like joint damage or breathing problems in which case you don't need a special 'obesity disability' to be considered disabled, or it doesn't cause you any disabling conditions and again, you don't need to be considered 'disabled.

It's like saying everybody that has been in a car crash should be defined as disabled.

about a month and a half ago
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EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

wienerschnizzel Re:Thyroid problem (625 comments)

You are wrong. 100% of cases is a higher intake of calories then output of calories. Anything else would suggest that perpetual motion is possible.

about a month and a half ago
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Why United States Patent Reform Has Stalled

wienerschnizzel Re:Patents are Legitimate Personal Assets YOU own (139 comments)

A better solution would be to eliminate patents entirely.

This is not really the best solution. There are still legitimate businesses using patent laws in legitimate ways to protect themselves - pretty much all industry involved in chemistry, biotechnology and material science. It takes a lot of initial resources to develop a new material or a new drug even though the eventual manufacture of them might be cheap. It would just not make any sense to invest in these things if the minute you get the new drug out of the door a dozen other companies would start selling it for half the price because they didn't have to cover the research and testing costs.

A much more elegant solution would be to pay for the patent protection. It could work like this:
- you choose the $ amount others have to pay you to use your technology (covered in the patent)
- others can just pay you that amount and use it (you cannot decline)
- you have to pay 1% of that amount per year to the authorities or lose your patent

That's the basic idea. You could maybe extend it with things like changing the amount, or limiting the timespan during which the people can use your patent after they pay etc.

It wouldn't harm the honest users - the big pharma could easily pay a couple hundred thousand per patent, the small inventor could easily pay 100 bucks per year and get some money back (because under current laws it's practically impossible for an individual to enforce his patent). And the trolls that have tens of thousands of trash patents on their portfolios would fold.

Unfortunately there would probably be much less litigation going on so the lawyers will lob aggressively against any attempt to introduce such a system.

about a month and a half ago
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Why United States Patent Reform Has Stalled

wienerschnizzel Re:TLDR (139 comments)

I'm not sure what big business experience you have

A little bit. Specifically issues regarding intellectual property that got escalated up to our CEO. What did I learn of it?

CEOs of big companies listen to their lawyers very carefully and don't second guess them. At least in tech companies they don't.

about a month and a half ago
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Why United States Patent Reform Has Stalled

wienerschnizzel Re:TLDR (139 comments)

Because I'm pretty sure it wasn't the CEO's at the biotech and pharma firms that decided they needed to dump money on congress on this issue as if they didn't have better use for their capital. Guess who convinced them to do it...

Plus, the trial lawyers played no small part in this. Read the article.

about a month and a half ago
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Why United States Patent Reform Has Stalled

wienerschnizzel Re:Uh, what? (139 comments)

The ars technica article does. You are probably talking about the opensource.com article - that one really does not say 'why', just 'what'.

about a month and a half ago
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Why United States Patent Reform Has Stalled

wienerschnizzel TLDR (139 comments)

Here's the meat part:

"This was entirely done by the pharmaceutical industry and the trial lawyers."

...

Pharmaceutical and biotech firms are often plaintiffs in patent disputes and haven't been hit hard by troll lawsuits.

...

Many law firms working in traditional plaintiffs' areas like personal injury or securities class actions have added patent work as other sources have dried up.

Fucking. Lawyers.

about a month and a half ago
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Bug In DOS-Based Voting Machines Disrupts Belgian Election

wienerschnizzel Re:Paper trail (193 comments)

Is it really cheap? You need a lot of manpower that you wouldn't if you'd use an electronic system. And manpower is typically where the most of the costs come from.

about 2 months ago
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How Amazon Keeps Cutting AWS Prices: Cheapskate Culture

wienerschnizzel Re:Business class is a misnomer (146 comments)

You're stil going to get to the same place at the same time as the other passengers.

Not in the same shape though.

It might not impact you much if you are going to one conference, but if you fly to multiple destinations within a week, it will build up. Your back/joint pain, stress level, lack of sleep will show. It might mean that you will save 5k on the boarding passes of your exec but then pay millions for the bad decision she makes.

about 3 months ago
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Apple: Dumb As a Patent Trolling Fox On iPhone Prior Art?

wienerschnizzel Re:I'm not entirely sure how it merited a patent i (408 comments)

And just as you show someone is guilty by showing that they committed each and every element of a crime

You went overboard with this statement.

You don't show each and every element of a crime to get a conviction. There's means, motive and opportunity. Often proving just two of those can get a guilty verdict.

about 4 months ago
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How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion

wienerschnizzel Re:Knowledge (1037 comments)

Also there is collecting stamps and there is trying to legislate stamp collecting as mandatory in schools, going to war in the name of stamps, giving medical advice based on stamps etc.

about 4 months ago
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Study: Exposure To Morning Sunlight Helps Managing Weight

wienerschnizzel Re:correlation does not prove causation (137 comments)

No. If they measured correlation between exposure to light and *reduction* of BMI, I wouldn't mind, but as it is, interpreting that statement that way is some snake oil salesman level of dishonesty (why not say "Weight can influence the amount of exposure to the sunlight people get"?).

about 4 months ago
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Study: Exposure To Morning Sunlight Helps Managing Weight

wienerschnizzel Re:correlation does not prove causation (137 comments)

You are wrong in this case. If they just wanted to determine the correlation, they shouldn't have put the following statement in their abstract:

Exposure to moderate levels of light at biologically appropriate times can influence weight, independent of sleep timing and duration.

That's way beyond saying 'there's a correlation'

about 4 months ago
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Social Media Becomes the New Front In Mexico's Drug War

wienerschnizzel Old News (120 comments)

Didn't all this happen 5 years ago? Why bring it up now and call it "The dark side of social media"?

about 4 months ago
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OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

wienerschnizzel Re:Im all for human rights... (1482 comments)

And other can voice their objection on the objection. And in this case there are several good reasons to object to OKCupid's objection even if you completely disagree with Eich:

1. Pragmatism: Living together in a democracy requires people to work together even if they have strong disagreements in their religious or political beliefs. For this reason objections should primarily be aimed directly at the belief itself and not at the persons holding them. This enables working together even with disagreements.

How does this even make sense within the topic of gay relationships? Can you criticize homosexuality without aiming at the homosexuals? Because that's what Eich is doing. And it's way past just 'raising an objection', it's about coming up with a law that directly affects the lives of the target group Eich disagrees with. So the pragmatic thing is to retaliate with the same - aim at the people doing this and affect *their* lives as well.

2. Fairness: Even if you disagree with someone you should still not misrepresent his stance. OKCupid claims gay relationships would illegal if Mr. Eich got his way on gay marriage. But Gay relationships would still be legal, even when gay marriage are banned. So you can not claim Eich wants gay relationships to be illegal, just because he supported California's Prop 8.

Let's not pretend Proposition 8 is harmless for the gays. The fact is that homosexuality is fairly common in populations (not just human ones). The proponents of Prop. 8 say it's unnatural and that's why they want gay marriage banned. As long as the society puts this stigma on the gays and even institutionalizes it, they will have a harder life. Where's the fairness in that?

3. Proportionality: Brendan Eich donated $1000 for Prop 8. A rather small sum of money for a high profile engineer such as Eich. This clearly not the most important topic for Eich. He is not a major spokesperson against gay marriage, he is best known for his Javascript work and not for his opposition to gay marriage. The response should have a reasonable proportion to the thing that is being criticized. Brendan Eich's $1000 are now 100x more visible than the $1,000,000 by Alan Ashton.

Are you suggesting that OKCupid should ask its users not to use WordPerfect? That would be laughable at best. OKCupid just picks a fight in their domain, where it makes sense. Plus, the message should be that any support for Prop. 8 is despicable.

about 4 months ago
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Homeopathic Remedies Recalled For Containing Real Medicine

wienerschnizzel Re:Homeopothy ... (173 comments)

I get a strong sense of the bovine fecal matter just from reading the texts on the packaging. That stuff is quite potent!

about 4 months ago
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Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

wienerschnizzel Re:One thing's for sure... (870 comments)

Well written. I'd say that any job that does not require creativity or empathy is on the line. There are a couple of jobs that don't require much skills that will stay, like waiters, babysitters and receptionists - everything where the very fact that the customer is interacting with a human being is valuable. But there are nearly not enough of jobs like that and too many people who can't even do those. I doubt that anybody will entrust their toddler to Swen, the oil rig worker.

about 4 months ago
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Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

wienerschnizzel Re:One thing's for sure... (870 comments)

This is not a story about bank bailouts but about job automation.

You vastly underestimate the need for demand. If all people in the US decided to cut their expenses in half and stuff their money into their mattresses today and do so for the next 5 years, the economy would shrink and a lot of people would lose their jobs. There wouldn't be enough money circulating in the economy to support all the jobs. Not bullshit artificial jobs created just so people would have something to do, but real ones. The economy would have the *potential* to do much more, but wouldn't because of the missing demand.

Automation of all low skill jobs has the potential to create a situation like described above - if a large percentage of population is replaced by automation, there will not be enough demand for the goods and services - even though the economy would have enough capacity to build and provide all the stuff (through automation), it could not sell all of it.

Sooner or later the helicopter drops will have to come.

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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22-year makes Hollywood producers scratch their heads.

wienerschnizzel wienerschnizzel writes  |  about a year and a half ago

wienerschnizzel writes "From the article:

Despite being the work of a student, R'ha is so good it's already attracted the attention of Hollywood executives. After seeing Lechowski's creation online, Scott Glassgold, of the managing company IAM Sports & Entertainment, was impressed. "His work is not only professional, it's extraordinary," Glassgold wrote

Hollywood producers seem to be paying attention to what individuals can do with today's technology. They already made a move for the student from the article above. Can we expect independent cinema to boom with the access to cheap high quality effects or will Hollywood be able to grab or marginalize such works."
Link to Original Source

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