Thursday, November 29, 2007

He makes a compelling argument...

Larry on why he's voting for Huckabee.

Chuck Norris has come out and endorsed Mike Huckabee. Chuck Norris has spoken. I have to vote for Huckabee now, because I’m afraid that Chuck Norris will round house kick me in the spleen, through the Diebold voting machine, if I push any other buttons.

It's not that bad...

I guess the only thing worse than paying $600 for an unexpected car problem, is not having $600 to spend on an unexpected car problem.

Who am I to complain? The sky's blue, the sun is out, and I've got the new Air album.






Evap system leak detection pumps are NOT covered by California emissions warranty...

...also, cam sensors are not covered by powertrain warranty.

...also, ouch.

.. also, OOOOUCH!

Oh well. At least I haven't been spending money on non-essensials.

There's always that part of you who thinks that when you get some money saved up, unexpected expenses always come up. Therefore, if you spend all your savings on... oh, you know... stuff... then you won't have any unexpected expenses! Wishful thinking is just that.


SR just cringed

That's what happened to the Xbox 360 last night when I fired up my "hardened" difficulty campaign on Call of Duty 4. It was truly a dark day. I pushed the button twice to restart it, and when the screen stayed blank instead of showing the Xbox 360 startup, I just got that sinking feeling. Then the red circle of death showed up.

My girlfriend looked at it and said, "I think I'm going to cry."
At the time, I thought she was kidding, but when I thought of the $400 piece of hardware that bricked itself for the most heinous act of attempting to use the console for its intended purpose, I could understand if she wasn't kidding. EDIT: the Xbox was a gift from her brother

So we sat there and stared at the circle.

I looked at Freedom Fighters (regular xbox game), and guitar hero (ps2), and wario ware (wii)...
and Call of duty 4 (360)
and Gears of War (360)
and FEAR (360)...

I didn't want to play anything. I was disgusted with the whole situation. I couldn't believe someone would release a product that might simply irreversably break during the course of normal function. Adding insult to injury was the fact that this was not a hardware problem (AFAIK). It's not like hitting a baseball too much and having the seams bust, it's like your toaster refusing to work because you bought a lot of bread. It's software, and it shouldn't work like that.

My girlfriend ventured, "Maybe now?"
What could it hurt?
I push the button and prepare for that sick, angry feeling when the screen flickers and it starts up normally!

I cautiously attempt to play again, and have it freeze again right after the same part of the game. I turn it off for a bit and restart it, but this time I play another level, freezes again. Toss in another game, and play uninterrupted for a bit, then switch back to COD4, and start a new profile and play with no problems. Hmmm...

Hopefully it was just a problem with that game profile. I seems pretty stable, and I don't want to have to put up with a randomly bricked and unbricked system that so many others have had to put up with.

Hope springs eternal.

Hardware, however, does not.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

CNN youtube republican debate

At least CNN will put tough questions through...

Looking forward to seeing some R's squirm...

Call of Duty 4

It's awesome. Play it.

It has made me think about getting xbox live just to play online.

The maps are planned out to very minute details and really improve the experience. Cutscenes are not overused, and really draw you into the game. The single player seemed rather short, but you can keep it spicy when you play it again by trying a different route or focusing your fire on different places. I noticed I was playing in the same spots on the maps, and doing the same things, so after I started avoiding those places I noticed the game was much more interesting. The shifting focus when aiming down the rifle is great, and it really captures the experience of using iron sights.

It's awesome. Play it.

NRA: "CNN, your reporter FAKED that story!"

From 2003 on the expiration of the federal assault weapon ban. Still relevant with the recent attempts to revive the ban.

The segment went longer than the video, and can be read below...

Extended transcript here.

Transcript highlights below;

BERNARD PARKS, FORMER L.A. POLICE CHIEF: There's only one reason for it and you cannot hunt with it. It's only one reason and that is that it kills people. It's a military weapon. It should be kept in a military arsenal and out of the domestic society.


PHILLIPS: Now we give you the other side from the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre

Wayne, thanks for being with us.


PHILLIPS: Well, if the ban on assault weapons expires, what kind of weapons would be legal?

LAPIERRE: Kyra, let me say this to start: I'm glad you ran the story because apparently the only difference between "The New York Times" and CNN is that when a reporter for "The New York Times" fakes a story, he's fired, and at CNN he's not.

Your bureau chief, John Zarrella, deliberately faked the story yesterday and intending to show that the performance characteristics of banned firearms on the list are somehow different from the performance characteristics of firearms not on the banned list. He was -- he was implying that these were machine guns or fully automatic guns. That's not true.

PHILLIPS: Mr. LaPierre, I have to stop you there. No one fakes stories at CNN and John Zarrella definitely did not fake a story at CNN. You're very off base. I'm going to let you say your opinion, and let's have a conversation, but don't accuse our reporter of faking any stories, sir.

LAPIERRE: Let me say it again. In front of the whole country, your reporter faked that story yesterday. It deliberately misread...

PHILLIPS: All right, we're going...

LAPIERRE: There's no way it could be true and I challenge CNN to defend it.

PHILLIPS: Well, we're not going to continue this interview because our reporter did not fake...

LAPIERRE: Because you don't want the truth. The truth you don't want out there.

PHILLIPS: OK, that is not true. We did not a fake a story.

LAPIERRE: You ought to register your -- you ought to fill out a lobby form and register.

PHILLIPS: Why don't we ask another question? What are the uses for an assault weapon? Tell me what the uses are for this.

LAPIERRE: Why can't you accept the truth? There is no difference, Kyra, in the performance characteristics of the guns on the banned list and the guns not on the banned list. They don't shoot any faster, they're not more powerful, they're not machine guns, they don't make any bigger holes, all which your reporter, John Zarrella, implied in that story.

PHILLIPS: Let's talk about the ammunition. Folks had problem with the ammunition. We've heard a lot in the last 24 hours from viewers who made the point that it's not the weapons who do the damage, it's the ammo. OK? Can legally be bought, ammunition. Now does this do -- do just as much damage than an illegal weapon?

LAPIERRE: Kyra, they all fire the same ammunition. Why can't you accept the truth? There is no difference in the guns on the banned list and the guns not on the banned list.

Your reporter's story was deliberately misleading the viewers. Bill Clinton deliberately misrepresented the House and the facts to the House of Representatives in the Congress and I don't believe this House of Representatives is going to fall and have the wool pulled over their eyes the way what happened did in '94.

The truth matters. The public needs to hear the truth and the truth is every police officer on the street knows it. There's not a dime worth of difference between the guns on the banned list and the guns off the banned list in terms of their performance characteristics and I challenge CNN again to defend that story to its viewers because it's not true.

PHILLIPS: What do you say...

LAPIERRE: All day yesterday you misled the viewers.

PHILLIPS: What do you say to the members of the law enforcement community that we had on the air who say assault weapons don't belong on the streets?

LAPIERRE: Kyra, I got calls all day yesterday from law enforcement officers going crazy over that story you ran saying it's not true. They were dismayed that there was a law enforcement officer on there lending himself to it.

The story misrepresented the facts. What we need to do to stop crime -- every time you catch a criminal, 100 percent of the time, prosecute him. Put him in prison.

We have all kinds of gun laws. Catch a violent felon with a gun, put him in jail. Catch a violent drug dealer with a gun, put them in jail 100 percent of the time. That's what rank-and-file cops know stops crime. But again, I challenge CNN in the headquarters to take an objective look at that story and defend it because it's simply not true.

PHILLIPS: All right. Executive vice president...

LAPIERRE: "The New York Times" reporter was fired, John Zarrella ought to be fired.

PHILLIPS: Executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, that's why we are interviewing you today and that's why we're addressing this to show both sides of that story.

And we all stick by John Zarrella and how credible of a reporter he is.

Thank you for your time, sir.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Miscellaneous Updates

Hey guys... Still alive... Though not for lack of trying to kill myself by staying up as much as possible while on call after I dropped the ball last time I was on call. fail Following is a bunch of updates on various topics...

I'd been meaning to revisit my large blanket crochet project, and finally got around to it. I made surprising progress with just a few hours a night. Might as well get something done while wasting away in front of teevee programs that do not interest me. (though HGTV seems to be growing on me) Large blankets are always nice, but I wanted a LARGE blanket. Like 8'x10'. As soon as the idea popped into my head I already knew what color I'd make it, and grabbed the "camo" yarn (beige/green/brown/black) for which I'd been having difficulty finding a use. I chose a double stitch and kept it very loose (which was hard for me because I always want it to look tight and nice), after a few rows I was very glad I'd made it so loose. I like the idea of large casual projects because the investment can be very low and the result very satisfying.

I've never really questioned why I found crocheting interesting, I just figured it was about creating things. After I got started and became familiar with the progression of a project and the properties of different stitches, I made some semi-complicated half-finger gloves and then put down the hook for a while. The blanket I'm working on is currently more of a scarf; but I'll keep everyone abreast of updates.
Posts pertaining to this topic will follow under the name,
"Blanket Watch 2007" and will likely begin never.

We went to the gun show last weekend, and while I wanted to go on the first day to find the good deals that usually get snatched up early, I guess it probably was a good think I didn't, because I'm trying to NOT spend money. The midday of the last day of the show was a better choice because more folks were interested in making deals and getting rid of their stock. Found some NON-reproduction Russian Mosin clips, and because I only vaguely remembered that original Russians were supposed to be good, I only bought two. Both have performed flawlessly so far, and retain the rounds well. I have yet to make them produce rimlock in the magazine, even when I try. (a testament to good clips!) I must look for this guy next show... Also picked up a .50 ammo can for a whopping $3 and a canteen cooking stand for $2. My canteen pouch now holds a canteen, a metal cup, and a cooking stand. All I need to do is add a magnesium firestarter to the little pocket on the side of the canteen pouch and I'll have most of what I need for simple cooking. Gotta love the simplicity of these tools. I eyeballed the Enfields throughout the show and found what seems like a new semi-local gun shop which promises to have a bunch of used LEO shotguns and some 308 Enfields (or "Smelly Ishys" if my lingo is correct). I've been on the look out for some cheap inexpensive shotguns I can lend out in case of emergency.

We went to my Aunt's Saturday-After-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner, and I was reminded of exactly where I get my crazies from. One of my cousin's friends attended the dinner and during a collaboratively disjointed discussion about... well... actually the discussion had no subject (literarily speaking)... anyways, he held up his hands and said, "Wait, I think I'm the only one who doesn't get this conversation because I'm the only one trying to make sense of it." I guess that pretty much sums it up. My Aunt and her friends have... interesting tastes, so the food is always very different, and usually very good.

Dexter was exceedingly good last night. I was reminded of what good writing and cinematography can do to you when I noticed my heart pounding in my chest when [highlight for spoiler] the FBI came for him. [/highlight for spoiler]

I've been letting my normally buzzed hair grow out, and it's longer than its ever been (which really isn't that long). I always cut it after it got too wavy, but now it seems the length is straightening out most of the waviness. It's uncharted territory, but I think it looks good. It is rather strange to actually have to care for my hair more than simply giving it a few strokes of a brush.

No updates on Dwarf Fortress yet. (Sorry guys, I'm sure that's why you all visited)

After my sister got married young (18) I've always seemed to have a problem with it. I never really intended to, I just had trouble having the same relationship with her that I had before it happened. It hurt me to see myself pushing her away, so I'd invite her over, or hang out with her, but even then it still felt awkward. Last night she and her husband (who's a really great guy) came over to eat sushi and drink, and it was the first time since her wedding (3 years?) that I didn't feel disconnected from her. We watched TV, played guitar hero, and wii, and sat and talked about every which thing. They wound up leaving 6 hours later, and my girlfriend and I felt good about the experience. I truly hope I'm over whatever hangup I had, and this wasn't just a fluke.

We saw Beowulf in 3D, which was quite entertaining. Very cool movie, and very worth seeing in 3D. I'm not sure if it was the 3D or if it was the IMAX HOLY-SHIT-I'M-30-FEET-FROM-THE-SCREEN experience, but the movie felt more satisfying than I thought it should have.

Thanks to this jerk I really want to spend money on one of these. It's the first time in a while I'm really excited about a new product. Of course, I'll wait until a few hardware/software revisions, and user reviews before I consider buying one, but the idea sounds so perfect!

I'm taking violin lessons at the ripe old age of 23. I'd always wanted to learn an instrument and always thought the violin would be a great instrument to learn. The last time I seriously considered it, I quickly admonished myself with the standards; too old, no time, too hard, no music experience, lack of commitment, too expensive, etc. etc. etc. But this time I actually realized what I was doing. I was holding myself back from something I wanted to do. So I said aloud (while alone in the car, of course) "No. Fuck you. Don't tell me what I can't do. I'm going to learn to play the violin just to prove to you that I can." I'm 5 lessons in, and my teacher says I'm a natural. I'm always a little surprised when I practice for three days and seem to make no progress, and suddenly notice a leap forward on the fourth day. I plan to learn the basics and continue practice on my own until my skill catches up to my knowledge. Honestly, I'm amazed at what an hour a day can accomplish. Wouldn't you give up an hour a day to learn or do something you've always wanted to? I'm memorizing songs surprisingly easily, unfortunately I'm supposed to practice reading the music and usually just wind up playing it from memory. Having a great memory is a good problem to have, I suppose. :)

At Thanksgiving my mother introduced me to a Russian friend of hers she met in an ESL class. Apparently her husband thought that since he brought her to America and she spoke poor English, he could do as he pleased. Wrong. Police reports have been filed, and she's staying with my mom for now. I'm hurt that people can be so despicable. But at the same time I'm inspired that people can help strangers in need.

The air has smelled different lately, and I feel like my senses are more acute (but without apprehension). I feel change coming.

I've added a new tag; reflection.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fwarf Dortress (whatever)

Eagerly hoping for migrants I readied some extra beds, just in case the influx was larger than I anticipated. It was kind of a tough call because beds take wood, which I don't have much of here, and a jaguar has been stalking in the only area with trees left. Just as my carpenter finishes up some barrels and begins building beds, migrants show up. Thank god! My 5 dwarf-run fortress was doing great, but simply lacked the dwarf-power to get any larger tasks done. I hoped for at least 5 more migrants, hopefully with advanced skills, and hopefully carrying useful goods. I got 18!

After some minor freaking out, I ordered my now Legendary miner to carve out some modest dormitories to accommodate the influx, along with a large circular bedroom/study for himself. Something befitting his legendary status. As it turned out, 23 seems to be a magic number for my fortress. I was a little short on workshops, but that was easily remedied. Tasks are getting completed at a steady pace, and all is right with the fortress. The only problem I've run into, is the incredible amount of stone I've accumulated with all my mining. I have a few peasants doing the hauling of most of the misplaced stuff cluttering hallways and workshops, but there is a so much damn stone! I figure it will take at least two years to get all this stone out of the way at the current pace. I'm tempted to just reassign everyone to stone hauling and get all this shit out of the way!

I got an alert that a dwarf was interrupted by a fire imp, and went to take a look. Somehow the dwarves can see though vertical layers of lava, and are usually frightened by a fire imp dawdling several levels down inside the magma vent. When I checked the unit screen I was worried to see the blacksmith was the one interrupted by the imp. Uh oh. He has been turning out crafts, and weapons in his workshop for a long time. If he's seeing imps in there, that could mean they've found the hole in the vent I've dug. Sure enough, not only was one imp working its way through the lava channels to the soft underbelly of my fortress, he'd brought two of his friends with him! Strength in numbers I suppose. I had no experience with fighting or military other than equipping hunters with crossbows, and having them down small game, but I guess it was time to learn. I drafted my legendary miner (ultra-strong) and my hunters, and trapper into a soldier squad and figured out how to send them to fight the imps. I had read imps could hurl fireballs, and did NOT want to get a fire started in my fortress since they're very difficult to put out. The drafted dwarves rushed into the lava access tunnels just as the imps came up the stairs to meet them. Short work was made of them and the fortress was safe for another day.

My fortress was bustling with work, and food and drink stores were high. All was well. Then a dwarven grower was taken by a strange mood. I had read about these moods and knew that he had gotten a brilliant idea in his head and was going to work single-mindedly to make his amazing craft, and attain legendary status in the process! However, if he requires materials that I don't have, he'll go crazy and likely remove his clothing and go for a dip in the magma pool. Not quite sure what a grower would make, I watched him closely. He wandered around a bit, and then claimed the craft shop. So much for my bolts getting made... He ran outside and grabbed some wood from a stockpile, and returned to his workshop. I sure hope he finds what he needs, because I don't want to have to close off that shop so he starves to death after he goes nuts. He sets out to find another item and begins wandering to a far off corner of the map to find... more wood. I guess he wanted that specific kind of tree wood, because he passed the stockpiles on his way out the entrance. He returned to the workshop and I was alerted that he had begun work on a mysterious project. Alright buddy, I'm going to have a legendary woodcrafter, and an artifact to boot for the cost of two logs of wood. A short while later he emerged victoriously and beamed with pride at his masterpiece;

A tower cap timber ring of the highest craftsdwarfship. The ring is adorned with spikes made of highland timber.

Well shit... it-- uh... it's not exactly legendary armor or a weapon of some kind, but it sounds pretty amazing. I guess...

The now-legendary woodcrafter gets to work on those bolts I ordered, and quickly completes the first batch Usul the woodcrafter has created a masterpiece! Oh REALLY? I imagine wooden bolts made by a legendary woodcrafter would fetch a high price with the traders, and hardly take up any weight! Awesome.

My fortress is still full of stone (but that problem is slowly being remedied), and I've yet to come up against any significant challenge (knock wood (maybe)) so I'm trying to think of an elaborate project for my dwarves to work on. Something along the lines of a large tower or an underwater dining hall made of glass. Or perhaps I should prepare for the inevitable titan or dragon attack. Hell, I'll probably just pull the wrong lever and screw it all up. :)

In other news, my steam trap didn't work since steam seems to only rise one level. I'll have to rework my plans. Possibly requiring water be poured over an area to seep down into grates rather than the mixture taking place over two vertical levels.

Computers and cycles

I used to work mornings. Early mornings. This meant that at 5:00, I needed to be in the NOC, checking for alerts at our customers.

Every day, there would be minor issues between 5 and 8. They varied from network issues to services stalling, but they would clear up before 8. It wasn't until I started asking the night person (later) about it that he commented that night is pretty quiet, save for a few actual alarms, but mornings always had issues that would usually clear themselves up.

We've got a pretty wide base of customers, so I think it's a good test set, but I never really could figure out why this would happen.

Another strange thing is; holidays are generally quiet. Even today, black friday, I'm at work while almost all of our customers are not, and it's quiet. This wouldn't be so strange if it weren't for the fact that the weekends aren't as quiet as holidays.

I know computers will always suffer from random cosmic-ray-related failures, and these failures should not care whether it's Christmas or not, but that doesn't change reality.

Even light user use doesn't explain why servers that work on weekdays get more failures on weekends than holidays.

Guess computers need days off too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Toast is goddamn delicious

I don't eat breakfast. That is; I don't eat breakfast foods. I'm known to order steak or fettucini (SR can attest to that) when dining out in the morning.

Considering I am usually just waking up at 11am, I've never really seen the need for breakfast.

The last lazy sunday my girlfriend and I had, she prepared quite a few slices of toast separated by butter. (being an avid fan of toast and bread in general) I partook in a slice and decided I should really grab a piece or two before I head out the door.

I grabbed a few slices this morning. They were very good.

*counting down 5 seconds till a breathless Blogagog comment* :)

Quote of the -- er... wow...

Seems Uncle doesn't much care for the presidential turkey ceremony.

Not only should the president order the execution of the turkeys, he should kill both gobblers himself. With his bare hands, while wearing a loin cloth. He should then rise, his body glistening with sweat and blood, and take a bite out of its head and display it proudly to the American people.

That's damn funny.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dwarf Fortress updates

I've been avoiding DF for a while, just because it's an incredible time sink. Whenever I start the game up, I blink and it's 4am.

The last update left me with windmills and water pumps figured out, so after I did that, I set about draining the small arm of my moat which my anvil wound up at the bottom of. The pump works beautifully, but the water has no direction, and spills out all around the end of the pump, and back into the river I'm pumping water out of. I order some walls built to direct the water, and it manages to pool the water long enough for some helpful dwarf to hop down into the temporarily shallow moat and lug that anvil out of there! Blacksmithing, here I come!

I want obsidian so I dig channels between a small lake and the lava pool, and when they meet, they form obsidian in that square. Unfortunately, the lava and water are on opposite sides of this obsidian, and if I were to mine it out, it's unlikely I'd be able to obtain the obsidian before the water cools the lava and reforms the obsidian wall, or the miner digging out the section succumbs to the scalding steam. A challenge... I think about it a bit, and figure out a solution, I dig out a large square pool in the walled off area next to my water pump, and connect it to the lava pool. After the area fills with lava, I kick on the pump and cool all the lava in the square, and let the steam dissipate. Plenty of obsidian, all cooled and accessible without danger. Now I can get to work on those obsidian swords that traders seem to love.

With my anvil in place, I set out to figure out how to use magma smelters and forges. Unfortunately for my earlier best-laid-plans for safe lava access, the felsite stone the mountain is full of melts under the extreme heat, leaving lava floodgates are currently out of the question. Instead I isolate my lava-accessible workshops at the end of a hall lined with traps, hopefully this will work. After I get the magma forge going, I turn out my first item; a pick to replace the one carried by that miner who won the "who can breathe the most water" contest. (unfortunately in games such as that, even the winners are losers)

Worried that I might have to "obtain" some items from the traders in dire circumstances, I build the trade depot one level down, with a floodgate blocking the river, and a lever-controlled hatch to block the staircase down. I've yet to work out effective drainage, but I'm not too worried about it.

During my obsidian excavation I foul up the digging designation and create a cave-in which results in a cloud of dust which must have somehow blinded or confused my fisherdwarf, since he attempted to beat the "who can breathe the most water" high score. While the fisherdwarf wasn't carrying anything particularly hard to replace, my population is now down to 5, and migrants are nowhere to be seen. Hopefully, next year will be better.

I have yet to test if water pumps have enough power to pump water vertically. When I get back in the game I'll test by walling off the pump area with a floodgate for drainage, and seeing if it overflows. Vertical water pumping would allow for some interesting defensive mechanisms.

I also began construction of a proof-of-concept for the steam trap I concepted out. It took a bit of planning, but I think I've got a good design. If it works I'll have to figure out a way increasing the scale while making it reusable. Should be a challenge. Since lava isn't subject to the same fluid dynamics as water, it will not flow vertically up a shaft even if it's connected to a pool that have lava at higher levels. This makes me want to set up some trap doors that drop hapless foes into pools of lava instead of onto some uncreative sharpened spikes.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Quote of the Dwarf Fortress

Story found on a DF thread...

Immigrants do the darnedest things.

It started with some immigrant kid, who came with his father in a pack of 12 dwarves. Food was tight and all these new stomachs weren't helping, so I sent the kid's father to hunt straight away.

So Dad goes out and kills a deer. Nearby I guess was Bambi, who became enraged and followed Dad back to the butchery. Bambi started kicking Dad around, so of course his damn kid had to jump into the mix. Fight of the century: Bambi versus little dwarven boy. The kid got murderized so fast I didn't even see the message until I dug through the logs to figure out why everything went to hell a few days later.

The kid had a swift funeral, because nobody wants to see dead kids lying around the hallways. The fortress got back to business as usual and I figured that was that.

The next day, the kid's father must have woken up on the wrong side of his +Oaken Bed+. He threw a tantrum. I think, aww, he's just going to smash up a few barrels or something. Let him vent, the guy lost his only son for heaven's sake. He wanders the halls all day and I'm sure he's going to calm down soon.

Suddenly he turns around and beats one of his fellow immigrants to death. Wow, okay, this has to stop but I have no idea how to stop it. He starts chasing another immigrant down the hall, splattering blood everywhere. Then this peasant jumps in and finally ends Dad's rampage for good. The immigrant he was chasing bleeds to death before anybody can get him to a bed.

The peasant was badly wounded during the fight, but she'll live. It turns out that the second victim was her husband. Now she's lying in bed throwing her own tantrums, but she's too wounded to walk. I have this feeling that as soon as she can get up, she's going to do something really really bad...

Who invited these people to my nice, orderly fortress, anyway?

Don't forget this...

Your life will be very difficult without it.

Do you want a banana?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Confiscation and Compliance

Since everyone else is talking about it...

You either believe in the second amendment, or you do not.

You either believe that the right to protect your life and the lives of your loved ones is endowed by your creator, or you do not.

You either believe that infringing this right is tyranny against you, your children, and your grandchildren, or you do not.

You either believe that confiscation is the beginning of the end and must be resisted, or you do not.

A lot of gunnies seem to feel like they can hang out in the gray area.

"But ET! The issue isn't just black and white!"

You're right, there are many varied shades of gray.

But we're already quite aware of what happens in those gray areas.
"Safety" requirements, fees for gun ownership, discretionary approval processes, expensive training requirements, banning specific guns, banning specific ammo, excessive taxing of ammo, banning safety features, obtuse manufacturer requirements, industry regulation, etc. etc. etc.
Backdoor bans are still bans.

I don't know why everyone keeps talking about the confiscation squad surprising them in their jammies. If they start confiscating and you don't know it, you've already failed. I think the REAL question should be;
"If they said they'd start confiscating in two weeks, what would you do?"

I don't know about you, but I would hand them over with a smile on my face.

Waterworks and horrible smelting accidents.

don't worry, this one's much shorter. (and probably more interesting)

I was up late last night I was up early this morning playing dwarf fortress killing my dwarves.

I found a nice spot at the base of a volcano, right next to a magma pool and a rapid stream. Unfortunately there weren't a lot of trees, but it was still a great spot.

As I was getting set up, I noticed my magma pool had neighbors of the fire imp persuasion. Not sure if they'd bother me, I build a small moat to the south just to be sure. I extended to moat into the stream by digging it deeper, and with two miners working one managed to dig the ground out from under the other. He sank like a rock and died quickly. Bugger. Well, this is a good spot, and I've dealt with one miner before, I'll manage. I think briefly about the possibility of performing a (temporary) river drain to get the items, but decide it'd be more trouble than it's worth for a pick. Especially since I brought an anvil and have magma to smelt my iron.

I established my fortress quickly and built intelligently with stockpiles of items stored one level down from the workshops for easy access. I was eager to try to get a magma smelter going but realized there would be a problem. If I make an opening from the magma pool into my workshop, I'd have every Tom, Dick, and Magma Man wandering into the soft underbelly of my fortress. I think about it a bit, and figure it out. I'll carve out a small pool, then dig a drain to the magma pool and control it with a stone floodgate. That way I can pull a lever, and let enough magma in to fill the pool, then close the gate to keep it from filling my fortress with [Dr. Evil]liquid hot mag-ma[/Dr.Evil].

I set up the pool, drain channel, floodgate, and lever, then prepare to dig out the final separating wall, and quickly throw the lever. I'm not sure how fast magma flows, but it should flow slower than water, which is pretty slow already. I dig out the last bit of wall, and my miner dies instantly in the wall of heat that pushes out from the new magma pool vent. Whoops... I guess I need to cut out that last bit of wall from above... With two dead miners and unrecoverable picks I reload to the save I'd made before attempting this risky procedure, and turn my mind to things that don't involve searing hot death.

I decided I wanted to see if I could make another pick so I looked for my anvil, and found it three levels up where I started. Apparently the dwarves carried everything down but the anvil. Lazy. I remember a trick to get dwarves to move things they might not want to, and specify the anvil to be dumped in the garbage, then set a garbage zone on the ground by my entrance. I notice they're still not taking care of it, and take matters into my own hands. I order stairs built from the smelter level straight up to under the anvil. Then I realize that this would result in an anvil dropping onto my miner, and that such a thing would probably be bad, so I dig the stairs one space over, and hollow out the ground under the anvil. Just as I get to the top and am preparing to enjoy dropping this heavy item straight down several levels, I get to the top and see my mason cheerfully hauling the anvil away. Well shit. I was actually looking forward to watching that drop.

I micromanage a bit and then attempt to set up my blacksmith only to find my anvil is missing. ??? I check the item screen, find the anvil, and zoom in on it. It's in the small moat I dug. Damnit! I check my garbage zone and confirm it doesn't include any water. I guess my mason saw the anvil designated as trash and hucked it into the lake rather than take up space in my garbage pile. How thoughtful.

My thoughts turn to the possibility of draining the river. I had read that using a corkscrew pump powered by a windmill or waterwheel pumped water at an incredible rate, but I'd never set one up before. I check the wiki on how to set up the gear boxes and axles to transfer power, and place the water pump. Immediately after completion, it takes seconds to fill half the screen with water, and actually dries the river in the square below it. The pumping power is truly impressive. So impressive, in fact, I can't sleep after I quit.

I kept thinking of the possibilities of aqueducts, water towers, and giant toilets to flush enemies away. If I built walls and a floodgate around my front door, any threatening goblin or Jehovah's witness, could be locked in at the pull of a lever, drowned under a rush of water, and after they're done trying to grow gills, I could open the hatch to drain it out, and gather their items hassle-free. Then I think about the magma, and hollowing out the area under my front door, adding a few grates to the top level, and setting up magma and water floodgates on either side under ground. If anyone wanders up to my front door, open both floodgates, and the scalding steam from the water and magma mixing should vent up through the grates, and horribly burn foes. Then I think about digging out the bottom level of a spire, and holding it up with supports that can be collapsed at the pull of a lever. The idea of an enormous stalagmite falling one level onto whomever might be so unlucky to be under it reminds me of Wile E Coyote for some reason. Thinking about cartoons, I remember my anvil drop, and the possibility of setting up a pressure plate and a trap door a few levels up with the anvil on top of it. The pure cartoonish hilarity of setting a trap that drops an anvil on a monster is too good to pass up. I'll have to try it.

There's too many possibilities. This game is awesome.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dwarf Fortress owns me.

I've been a little light on the updates lately. Here's why.

I heard about a game called Dwarf Fortress. It caught my attention only because it was a roguelike, which means it was rendered in beautiful 16 color ASCII.

The game was written and designed by two brothers as a side project, and is provided for free to whomever will play it. While the game is in alpha, it is apparently very playable. Dwarf Fortress seemed to have a small following and a base of players that expanded primarily due to the amazing depth of the game.

After I looked into it, I decided the game warranted further review. Dwarf Fortress is a hands-off real-time strategy game. You are something like a manager who issues orders, but has no direct control over your dwarves. Complicating this is that your dwarves have their own personality and experiences. You have to keep your dwarves happy to keep them working.
The learning curve is rather steep, and you begin your first fortress with full knowledge that all your dwarves are likely to die as the result of some silly mistake you make. Whether you dig up into a river and flood your fortress, mismanage resources and condemn your dwarves to starvation, fail to provide beer to your alcohol-dependent dwarves resulting in depression and eventual fortress collapse, forget to rotate your soldiers resulting in 100-mile-stare soldiers ready to snap and go on murderous rampages, or you could just pull doomsday lever by accident.

I read as much as I could find and found mostly partial answers with allusions to more interesting possibilities. I figured the best way to figure it out was to dive right in, and kill some dwarves. After all, the motto of the game is, Losing is fun!

The following is the long history and learning of my first fortress, it's rather long.
You have been warned.

Getting situated
I started the game and began the world creation process. This process is supposed to create an entire world based on an algorithm which creates a geologically accurate world. This system boasts real-time weather fronts that interact with eachother, accurate creation of rivers, lakes, and oceans, erosion, and neighboring outposts of friends and foes. It also generates 1000 years of history for the region, a history that you can explore in adventure mode. The process can take up to 20 minutes on a 2Ghz box (!!), and is interesting to watch, but you only have to do this once every 50 or so fortress games, because once the world is created there are many suitable places to start your fortress, resulting in a persistent world that is changed by you.

Once the world creation was complete I struggled with the location selection menu. It showed a world map, a regional map, and a local map. Once you find a suitable location for your fortress, you select how large you want your local area to be. Apparently with so much going on in the game, choosing an overly large local area will result in game slowness. I picked a small temperate area siding a mountain with plenty of flora, fauna, and water. With plenty of resources and mild temperatures, this seemed like a nice easy location to start out on.

I chose to customize my loadout and dwarves and basically copied the recommendations here. I visited this article many times during my play period. It involved bypassing the purchase of an anvil in favor of buying extra food, alcohol, and skills. Since the anvil costs 1000 points, it seemed like a good deal to me!

Where the fuck am I?
I paused the game as soon I appeared at my starting point, and took a look around. I had an expanse of blue to my right, and a strip of grass against the side of the mountain. No trees? No plants? Where the fuck am I? I remember the game is "3d" (in quotes because it's 2d with multiple levels that interact with eachother) and begin flipping through the levels above and below the one I started on. As I flip down I see the mountain area on the map get larger and the blue expanse shrink until I hit the ground covered in trees, plants and lakes. I'm on a small flat area on the side of the mountain. I specified an area to start in, apparently where I start within that area isn't specified. Well, I've got plenty of wood and food stockpiled, there might not be a lot of food, but I'll just focus my efforts on farming. At least my awkward position protects me from most of the nasties that might pay my fortress a visit, one less thing to worry about!

Getting established
I follow the "Your first fortress" article and build workshops for a carpenter, a mason, and a machinist, set up stockpiles so the dwarves start unloading the wagon, and order the wagon dismantled for wood. I designate an area to be cut out of the mountain to begin my fortress. I designate a long hallway, and two large rooms, one for sleeping and one for a stockpile, and I order beds, mechanisms (???), and doors made.

I notice my skilled dwarves are working diligently at their tasks, leaving only two dwarves to unload the wagon, and get the items organized. I'm sure mechanisms are important, but I don't think I need them right now. I check the labor orders for my dwarves and begin adding extra jobs for them. I don't have that much manpower dwarfpower, so everyone will have to pitch in. (except the miners, of course, because shelter is too important)

Irrigation and cave-ins
Everything seemed to be going well, and I had my mason and carpenter turning out lots of interesting things (that I had no idea what they did) when I remembered reading about farmland irrigation. The water in the game is subject o gravity and fluid dynamics, which meant you could dig up into a lake, and set a series of channels to divert the water to wherever you want, and control it with floodgates. Eager to try this out, I dug out a large room and set about making it suitable for farming (which required wet ground). I flipped up a few levels and saw the lake I planned to drain, I double checked my dig designations, made sure a floodgate was available, and sent my miners to task. I returned to the workshop area and ordered some new objects, adjusted some stockpiles, and did some micromanaging while I waited for the miners to finish up. Minutes later digging is still not complete, and the miners are nowhere to be found. I check the unit status screen and see the miners are under the impression they have no job to do at the moment. I remove and recreate the dig orders, but they still insist they have no job. By now the dwarves require sleep (almost all at the same time) and are snoozing in the barracks. I stare at the sleeping dwarves, wondering when they'll wake up when I notice something. I'm missing 2! I take a closer look at the farming area and the proposed irrigation channel and realize there are a number of spaces empty on this floor. I flip down a level and find my miners, cold and thirsty, trapped by a collapse. I quickly order a up staircase carved on their level, and the required down staircase to be carved on the level above. They quickly complete their task and escape to slake their thirst. After they've rested up, they mine some of the wall away, and I order a floodgate and a lever placed. The items are quickly placed, and mechanisms are used to link the two. I order the lever thrown, and a few moments later see the floodgate raise. Perfect. I continue the digging order and my miner digs up into the lake which drains into my passage at a relatively slow pace allowing my miner to escape easily and throw the switch to drop the floodgate, and stop the flow. My farming area was nice and damp, and suitable for farming. Awesome.

Trading blind
Some traders showed on the corner of the map (how they got that wagon up this high, I have no idea) and I was warned that if I wanted to trade, I needed a trade depot. I quickly built one, and when prompted to put some goods into it, I wasn't sure exactly what to offer, so I just sent a few different items of different materials in. By the time the actual trading started I noticed that the items had no values, only weights. I assumed I lacked some kind of trading skill required to properly appraise the value of the items we were attempting to trade. The traders had a wagon and could only carry a certain amount of weight. They didn't have anything I thought I needed at the time, so I just tried to trade anything to them. And failed. I suppose there isn't much value in a giant granite floodgate, although the weight prevented me from attempting to trade further. At the time it seemed odd, but thinking about it now, I guess it makes sense... "What's that? You won't trade a large, heavy, crudely carved hunk of rock for a barrel of beer?" After the traders left I noticed only one of my miners was working. I looked at the lazy miner and found he was no longer carrying his copper pick. I check the area where the channel had collapsed (which was now full of deep water) for the lost pick, but couldn't find it. I checked the inventory of every dwarf in my charge, and found nothing. I didn't think items could be destroyed unintentionally. I didn't think he could have dropped it off the side of the mountain cliff, but checked anyway. The pick was nowhere to be found! Bloody hell. My mining crew just cut in half. I guess I'll just have to try to make one myself. (when I figure out how to do that)

Saving water, wasting water
Having read about lakes freezing in the winter I made plans to divert a few lakes into a multi-level pit, and build a well above it for water protected from the cold weather. I wanted to do it once, so I planned to drain three lakes into my pit and have enough safe water to last for years. I picked a spot equidistant from the three lakes I intended to drain (though there still was a bit of distance between them and the pit), and set my digging plans and the order I'd have to go in. Digging the pit proved more difficult than I thought, simply managing the multiple levels, and digging them out without trapping my miner was difficult. He did fall a few times but he was OK. The pit was three levels deep and 5x5, and should be more than enough. I dug into the first lake and watched the water flow down the passage. I quickly sent my miner to dig through the last bit of the middle level lake bed, and somehow he got caught up and fell into the water of the pit below. Crapcrapcrap! If my miner drowns at the bottom of that pit not only will I lose a good miner, I'll lose my last pick! I paused the game and looked for a "swimming" setting that I could have sworn I'd seen somewhere else. Unable to find it, I reluctantly unpaused the game. My miner just kind of sat there so I checked his wounds and found no mention of drowning or any other imminent death. I checked the tile again and confirmed there was water in the same place he was. Unsure of what was happening, I ordered him to dig an upward staircase on his level and a downward staircase on the level above him. He happily completed this order, and went on to dig through to the last lake. wtf? I did a quick look at the water and found it had a depth indicator 1-7. The depth of the water was 2 and 3 in some places, but the hall that the lake drained through had water at 1 depth the whole way through. I checked the second lake I'd drained, which had the longest path cut to it, and noticed that the water had not even made it to the pit. I checked the depth and found it was 1 depth the whole way. I checked the last lake I had yet to cut into and saw that the lake wasn't two levels of water, it was just one level, of 17 spaces with varying depths of 2 and 3. I added the depths of each space together and looked at how many spaces the water would be able to settle onto until it made it to the pit, and fell into my small dwarf-made lake. I figured there would be 12 depths of water that would actually pour into my lake. Since I didn't understand how the water settled when I dug the first lake drain, I realized that any water I added to it would be spread out over the 5x5 bottom of the lake and the 10 spaces I dug on the same level to get to the first lake. If I'd dug it one level up, the water would stack in the 5x5 area on the first floor before spreading out over the waterway I dug. Oh well. A lesson in fluid dynamics I already knew but didn't think would apply to this game. I looked at the miner who narrowly escaped drowning and saw that he acquired a new skill, "dabbling swimmer." HA! I decided he deserved a name and gave him the name Fibonacci which was the first that popped into my head.

Migrants and regrets
Around now (I think) some much needed migrants arrived. I hoped one would be a miner and carry a pick, but none had anything but the clothes they wore. Oh well, I guess I wouldn't want to walk to a new settlement lugging a pick when they should have one anyways. (grumble grumble) With the extra dwarfpower, I started building some more workshops and assigning some specializations to the new peasants. I began work on making coal to be burned in the smelter (what ever that is) with the expectation that I'd be able to get a pick out of all this. The charcoal creation was slow going, and burned a lot of wood I couldn't replace at the moment, but I had stockpiles, so I wasn't too worried. After some charcoal was made the smelter smelter only had the option of melting down a metal object. Since I was already limited in my objects, I figured I just need to find some metal to mine.

Ore not...
After suffering through the slow-going of a single miner, I finally found some ore! I watched as it was gathered and hurried to the smelter and found I was able to process the ore. Beautiful! I kept mining the ore with the expectation that I'd be swimming in picks soon enough. I checked the smelter frequently until I saw it finish. The result? Iron bars, ready to be turned into lovely tools. I check all the workshops and see no added options, so I check the build list and find the blacksmith's workshop is likely what I need... Except I can't build one without an anvil. Wait, the guide said I had to trade for one with the traders I couldn't figure out how to trade with earlier! Crap. I was supposed to make small crafts for trade.

Last call, and the race to the bottom
I'm out of booze. I know the dwarves can go a bit without alcohol, but I can imagine it gets really bad really quickly after that. My brewer is complaining that there are no distillable items. A quick check reveals that plants are meant to be distilled, so I check the nearby mountainsides that are accessible on foot, but I can't find any plants. In the mean time, all the dwarves are blinking thirsty. There's a small lake just outside the main level of my fortress, but none seem to want to drink the water! I double check that I've designated it a drinking zone, but none of the dwarves seem interested in the water! Will they drink the water? Will they die of thirst without booze? No time to find out, I need Fibonacci to dig through the eighteen levels of mountain, and out to the forest below. As I designate the digging area, I realize that since the mountain is conical, and I'm in the middle of it, digging down to the ground level means I'll have a lot of digging on the base to do before we make it "outside." As Fibonacci digs his heart out, I'm tense as the dwarves continue to blink thirsty. Since Fibby is my only miner, I'm forced to wait while he sleeps between long digging sessions, and dwarves continue to blink angrily. I keep checking the unit status screen for signs of discontent and see the first of what I will see often in the future, "on break." The dwarves never took breaks before, but I notice they're drinking from the lake outside. Though reluctantly, it seems. Ok, they're not going to die. By the time Fibby breaks through, the breaks are wearing on my patience. There is a definite work slowdown, which is particularly difficult when I watch my brewer make the liquid of the slowdown's resolution, only to pause for a break.

Weapons of war
I get a message that says the litter of puppies the two dogs I brought had have grown into dogs. I remember I have an animal trainer among the many folks hauling plants from ground level all the way up to my food stocks, and build a kennel. He makes a bee-line to the kennel, eager to do something other than haul plants, or logs up 18 flights of stairs. I check the kennel tasks and see options for training hunting dogs or war dogs. Having had a few encounters with kobold thieves (who usually ran off after being spotted), I order a few war dogs trained, and one hunting dog. I realize I haven't been building new workshops, and place a craft workshop (for making crafts for buying anvils!), and assign a craftsdwarf. I check the craft workshop and see that I can make crossbow bolts out of wood or bone. Didn't I have a bowyer somewhere? Yep, there he was, toiling away in the fields. He actually waited to finish his task before completing the bowyer workshop. I ordered crossbows made, and tons of bolts to be made. Now that I'm accessible from the ground, I guess I need to have some protection. Just for an added layer, I ordered several stone fall traps constructed in the long hall that lead out to the world.

Goat wrestling
I checked the status screen and saw that my food stocks were getting a little low, so I ordered more farming done. When I looked at the farm, I was surprised to see no planting going on. I checked the far settings and ordered more planted, but nothing happened. What happened to my plump helmets? Weren't they supposed to generate seeds? While I tried to figure out what was going on, I looked through the unit status screen, and saw there were some mountain goats wandering around in an unreachable section of the mountain. Goats is good eatin'! I ordered a new hall dug out to the side of the mountain the goats were on, and ordered a door and lever placed so I could close off that opening if I had to. No sooner had the tunnel been completed than my ranger changed his status to hunt. Cool! I watched my Ranger head to the mountain goats, flanked by a hunting dog and a war dog, and waited for him to get close enough to use his crossbow. As he got closer, the goats scattered, but he got two of them heading toward a dead-end. I watched as he got closer, and closer, and closer... and closer? When was he going to shoot it? He cornered one goat, and got right next to it, and killed it. ??? Why would they offer crossbows if you had to be right next to them to use them? I checked the ranger's inventory, and saw he wasn't carrying a crossbow. In the general screen I noticed an option I hadn't paid attention to before, "soldiering and hunting." I opened the menu, and it offered options for how he should be armed. I selected crossbow, and noted that I didn't have any armor made yet. So how'd he kill it? I check his skills and see he is a dabbling wrestler. HA! I begin looking around the mountain and find some more goats for the ranger and ore for Fibby. As the ranger walked between hunts (dogs in tow), I noticed him stop and go to sleep on the grass. This wasn't the first time I'd seen him do this, so I checked his room to make sure his bed was assigned to him, it was. I guess he just prefers to sleep outside. Well, he IS an outdoorsman. I nickname him Campson because he camps on the grass.

Muddy water
I check on the ground level and see the walls spattered with blood, and a bolder lying on the ground. Wow. I guess some kobold thief skulked into my hall, fell victim to one of the traps, and was cleaned up by my dwarves. Maybe I should look at getting a moat in case I run into more than one foe. There's a few lakes at ground level outside my entrance, and two more one level above. This shouldn't be too complicated. I order Fibby to dig channels between the two lakes, and incomplete channels back to the mountain so they are still passable until I get the bridge completed. I order a bridge and a lever to control it made, and plan out draining the two lakes one level up, and Fibby goes to work. I note the moat is filling in more slowly than I thought, and then I remember the lessons I learned from my water pit about water depth. Oh well, I'm sure these two additional lakes will be able to support the moat. The bridge completes just as I begin draining the second lake and I get the announcement, "The dry season has begun!" Uh-oh. Well, I should have a lot of water here, and last dry season didn't even dry out the lake by my fortress. It should be fine. As the water slowly drew nearer the moat I watched the moat begin to dry out. Oh crap. I forgot how shallow my moat was. As the days pass I watch the lakes near my fortress dry up, and watch my brewer take break after break, and my drink stockpile dwindle. I'm a little scared this season will be too dry, so I specify some more lakes as drinking sites, but the thirsty dwarves are avoiding them. The dwarves on ground level are thirsty but don't seem to be drinking from the lake. The lake outside my fortress high up on the mountain is still blue, but they're not drinking out of it. I check the zone to redesignate it a drinking zone, but when I highlight the whole lake, it only lists two water sources over the whole area. I check lake on the ground level and find it only shows one water source over the whole lake! I check my water pit, and it shows 4 drinking areas! What's with this? Can the dwarves not get to the water? I get Fibby working on some down and up stairs so they can get lower into the lake because the water level is so low, but they still won't drink from it! I get desperate and get Fibby working on a straight tunnel deeper into the mountain in he hopes of finding an underground river. I check the unit status screen and pick a dwarf to see if she's thinking bad thoughts due to lack of water. When select her, I see her standing by a 1x1 pool of water along with 8 other dwarves! What's different about this pool? I check, and see the depth is 2. I guess that makes sense. Considering the lake draining left one depth of water one all the tiles it flowed over, I'm guessing that 1 depth water is basically mud. I sure wouldn't want to drink that. I remember my problems setting up the farm, and confirm what I thought, the area that collapsed when digging the farm had filled with water 6 deep since it functioned as a drain for the flooded farm area. I checked the zone information, and found plenty of water sources, so I designated it a water zone, and the dwarves quickly ran to drink. Whew.

Gold rush
Running pretty low on food and drink, the traders arrive, and I hope for food or drink. I order the trade depot filled with various crafts, and the metal bars I've been smelting. When they arrive, I find I still can't see prices, and that there is no anvil and only some plants, wood, and leather. I get back into the blind trading mode, of selecting one item of mine, and lots of theirs and attempting to trade, and decreasing the amount of items I'm trading for until I get a successful trade. Problem was, the new crafts I had didn't seem to be that valuable, and the new bars of metal I'd forged were too heavy for the wagon to take more than one of. Eventually I got frustrated and traded some copper bars for some logs and it was accepted! Well now I have SOME idea of value, and clearly, I have none. Shortly after the traders left Fibonacci discovered a chasm in the mountain. Slightly less useful than an underground river... The chasm stretches the entirety of the mountain, and I spot some monsters handing out on outcroppings on different levels, but I don't think they can fly up to my level. Just to be sure, I build a wall blocking off the opening to the chasm I'd just cut, and get Fibby working on digging around the chasm (which stretched to the north, and not the south) to look for a river. I look at the walls of the chasm on different levels and see various kinds of ore and some gems. I check the stone screen and see what the different ores can be smelted into and find one that is 20% silver! Finally, trade with some items of value! I look further down and spot a vein of gold! I immediately order Fibonacci to start digging stairways straight down to get to the gold as soon as possible, and micromanage him in finding the gold in the vein, and digging it out. I decide to dig across the chasm, and open my passage to it with the hopes that there aren't any really nasty monsters who can fly hanging out in the chasm. Just in case I double check the door is properly connected to the lever. I micromanage Fibby through digging out the entirety of the vein and notice another vein further down and set Fibby to dig it up. My smelter is going full blast (aside from the occasional break) and I decide to look up the uses for some of the ore I've found but not yet dug up, and find some ore that's 50% silver! I get Fibby working on that ore and check the smelter to find I have lots of new options. I guess there's different metals you can make by combining ores, and order some "rose gold" bars made.

Finding the gold was fun, but I'm still very low on food. I notice that plants are currently the only form of food I have at the moment, and all of it has to be hauled all the way up the mountain before it gets passed around. Unfortunately most of it's not making it there. To cut down on the eating time, I order some tables placed on the ground level so when the plant gatherers have to eat, they don't have to go all the way up the mountain. I still can't farm and I don't know why! Further confusing things is the fact that the status screen shows my food stores in alright shape! I look up more info on farming and answer some of my questions. The plump helmets I grew last year only produce seeds when they're processed in the brewery, and I had the dwarves just eating them! Also, seeds count as food (which explains my high food numbers) even though they can't be eaten unless prepared by a cook. I designate many seeds in my stockpile OK to be cooked, and get the cook to task, but his breaks are frequent, and his output is far to little far too late. I get the brewer working on processing the seeds into drink, which increases the seed stockpile, but the dwarves are already hungry and restless. I realized that all the plants and seeds I'd gathered were all from outside, and I was trying to plant them inside. There wasn't enough water around to irrigate some new farmland outside, so all those seeds and plants were of minimal use. Meanwhile the plants on the ground are slowly, but surely being used up. We may not make this winter. I spot some Gorillas on the unit map, and see the hunters are already on their way. I designate a few other crossbow carriers to hunting duty because we really need the meat. I'm trying to keep the food production up, and everyone keeps going on break. Doesn't look good.

Certain doom
My first dwarf dies of hunger, and I designate a graveyard, and check my food levels. Shortly afterward my blacksmith is taken by a stange mood and mopes off to his room and stands in his doorway, likely unsettling the dwarves that have to walk past him in the hall to get to their rooms. I check my supply line of plant gathering and realize they're having to gather too far out, and are getting hungry, and eating the food down there instead of bringing it up resulting in about half the production reaching the fortress level. The cook and brewer are working at full capacity, but those plants are the only thing I have for food right now, and they're getting farther and farther away. I lose another dwarf by the stairway dug into the pool by my farming plot (when I didn't know if a stairway was needed to get them to drink from it) because when Fibonacci got around to digging it, there was some poor dwarf stuck on the far side of the staircase who couldn't swim when the stairway filled with the deep water. I guess he already knew he could drink there. I caused that death by not paying attention. I send Fibonacci to cut open a path to get to the body before it starts decomposing and freaking the dwarves out with the stench of death. Unfortunately Fibonacci is sleeping from all that digging I've been having him do, and he doesn't make it before the corpse starts decomposing. My dwarves are hungry, alcohol-deprived, and freaked out. Except Fibonacci who all this digging has elevated his mining skill to near legendary, and made him a tough son of a bitch. I get a warning that the reclusive blanksmith has gone insane, fortunately he was standing IN his room instead of in the doorway at the time, so I order the door sealed, and he'll just have to starve to death, like everyone else :(...

We barely make it to spring, but the plants aren't replenishing, and the lakes are still dry despite the announcement of the beginning of the wet season. Constant breaks have brought work to a near standstill, and the only food being gathered is being eaten. Not a goat or gorilla to be seen. Half the dwarves blink "unhappy" along with hungry, and this fortress will not last the season. I wonder if abandoning the fortress will result in the dwarves being released into the world. Maybe I'll run into Fibonacci again. I select the abandon option from the menu to save my dwarves from starvation, and the angry, insane brawl that it will surely cause.

Losing is fun
I guess it was fun. I look forward to starting a new fortress, and actually was surprised I lasted to the third year (if only barely). I'm sure my next fortress will have much more success.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Walther G22's 5 minute, 5 cent DIY Trigger Job

Update: After you're done with this, check the new 10 minute, 10 cent trigger job

The Walther G22 has a terrible trigger, lots of take up, and a very mushy break. I saw it as an opportunity to practice my trigger control, and got pretty good with it. After a recent trip to the range I took it apart for cleaning, and decided to spend a bit trying to figure out a cheap, reliable, effective way to shorten the trigger pull. Previous attempts had been fruitless, but this time I actually figured something out.

Here's the problem with the G22's trigger;

The trigger bar is bent. I assume this is because it's easier to release the hammer when the right side has upward pressure, but since it's bent, and the break is hard, the bar bends under the pressure resulting in the most mush you can work into a trigger without actually trying to make a mushy trigger.

I had been focusing on thinking of a way to fashion a new straight trigger bar, but this time I thought about stopping the trigger bar from bending so much.

Enter cardboard;

To get the thickness of the cardboard right, keep rolling it up until there is significant drag on the trigger reset, then make it a bit thinner. The cardboard will be very snug because it'll be pushing downward on the trigger bar, but the horizontal motion of the bar isn't that affected.

Ideally, you would use something more solid like a small piece of wood with channels cut in it to hug the barrel profile, and the trigger bar.

At this point the trigger was much tighter, but after reassembly, I noticed it was even tighter. The break was still a little heavy, but now you knew where it was going to break and it was much easier to manage.

Here's the trigger breaking point before the cardboard;

Here it is, after;

I popped off to the range to put 100 rounds through it, and found no functional problems, and the tighter trigger made my groups noticeably smaller.

Not bad for a few minutes work and a bit of cardboard...

I will of course, update this post if I find any problems with this modification. If you do this, and find issues, please let me know.

The picture looked so ominous, I couldn't resist.

Tee hee!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Real-life tales from the other side of the Internet! Part 5

Scroll down so you can only see one new panel at a time, so you don't ruin it for yourself.

The longer I look at the last panel, the more I laugh.

Click for full size

The humor.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Oh sweet jebus!


I wonder if they can be housebroken???

Modeselektor - Silikon

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

But that almost never happens!

Quote of the Gaming

The interesting thing to me is that most of what I hear in context to next-gen is “look at all the polys” or how “photo-realistic” the games are now. I would hope that we could use some of this amazing power in the hardware for better A.I., and I don't just mean A.I. that can kill me better. Better actors is a big challenge. Stop building movie sets and make a world we can interact with instead. These things are huge.

From Gamasutra.

I still want assassin's creed

Friday, November 02, 2007

Quantum Immortality

An explanation from (hilariously) HowStuffWorks.

Basically, it's like if Schrodinger's cat picked up a gun.

Gold broke 800 today

Live Gold

First time it's been this high since 1980.

Should be interesting once it breaks 850.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Never saw all this in one place.

Ya know? I saw a lot of these things happening, and I didn't think too much of it, but seeing all these back-to-back really makes you wonder.

And now something for the technorati RP searchers; Ron Paul Ron Paul Ron Paul Ron Paul Ron Paul Ron Paul Ron Paul Ron Paul!

I wait on bated breath for the inevitable pro RP comment spam.


A coworker and I were at my desk discussing a project we needed to complete, and he was struggling to describe a programming structure so he picked up a piece of paper, and searched for a pen. I handed him one of the Pilot Precise v7 pens I have on my desk.

He picked it up, stared at the blank paper, twirled the pen in his hand, and in one smooth motion flipped the pen around, pushed the tip of his forefinger under the straight metal clip on the pen top, and bent it outward at a 15 degree angle. He then pulled the pen back into a writing grip and started drawing the structure he had in mind.

I couldn't focus on what he was writing or what he was saying because I was focused on the acute 15 degree angle on my previously parallel pen.

Coworker: "We can figure the bitmasks by processing with an N factorial. Wow, that's the first time I've had to use that in years. What do you think?"
Me: "I think it took you less than three seconds to bend my pen clip."
Coworker: "What? Oh."
He bends the end of the clip back to within a few millimeters of the pen cap body, but the length of the clip remains slightly bowed.
Coworker: "There, it's fixed. Now how do you want to handle the processing for letters that have multiple permutations? I was thinking if we just wrote another hash for just the letter with the multiple possibilities, we could cheat and just process it again with the different hash."
Me, looking at the pen: "... It's not the same..."

I got over it and my mind returned to the task at hand, but as I write this I'm remembering many instances of trying to return bent pen clips to their original state all the way back to middle school.

Clearly this is my OCD.

UPDATE As we continued working, during lulls in the writing, my coworker would trace over his letters and numbers until they became illegible. I hate that.

Anti-blogroll update, and personal news.

DirtCrashr's blog, Anthroblogogy - on the brink of civilization, or off the edge... has been added to my jobbie on the right column.

Lately, work has been sucking up my blogging zeal, leaving me a dried husk of a blogger. Unable to write, I've been reading DirtCrashr's blog, and have found it to be thoroughly worth your time. His more serious posts are ripe with snark and written in a pithy cadence, and I enjoy that he still takes time to post off-beat or personal posts to keep things unexpected and light.

After I'm done with these projects(sssssssss) I'll head back to the beginning and read it all the way through, because I think it deserves it.

In other personal news, I'm cordite deprived. I'm trying my best to save money, and am have difficulty justifying turning some of that spendin' money into noise and smoke. Sure, I've got a membership to a very local indoor range, and I could just shoot my 22 for trigger practice and cheap cheap ammo, <3 year old>but I don't wanna!</3 year old> I want to shoot my M39, and I want to shoot my .45, and .45 is too damn expensive to justify, and the only place I can shoot my cheap 7.62x54r is two hours away. How can it be that I can't shoot my rifles in peace anywhere within 100 miles?! BLaRGh. I guess I just find something lacking from my 22. Maybe I should take the scope off. Actually, that sounds like a great idea. I'll do that then. Additionally, I've been thinking about Enfields for a while now. I fear I may have caught the milsurp bug. I probably got it from the last gun show... I'd forgotten about the Enfields for a bit, but yesterday Carteach0 had a video from discovery's top 10 battle rifles show, and I couldn't help but watch the Enfield video. Also, we watched Castles in the Sky, and the soldiers are all so obviously armed with Enfields.