Category Archives: personal

return of the three kingdoms

September 1996 changed my life forever. I was a naive college freshman trying to make friends with the other guys in my dorm. We were all part of a special technical program for younger students that I won’t go into now – but suffice it to say that we were a bunch of geeks.

The internet was still youngish and only one room in our entire building (a lab on the ground floor) was wired for ethernet. If we wanted to connect to the net, we had to tie up our room’s phone line. I had a 40mhz 486dx processor, 8mb of ram, and a 33.6kbps dial-up modem. This was better than half of the other computers on the floor.

Apart from all of the standard hobbies that one would expect (tabletop role-playing games, computer RPG’s, boardgames, MTG, SNES, usenet, anime, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Red Dwarf, etc…), many of my classmates spent a significant amount of time playing muds. Like a SIGNIFICANT amount of time.

And on September 6th of that year, under only the mildest of coercion, I dialed into the university’s modem bank, typed telnet, and logged into a mud for the very first time.

No client. Raw telnet. … Yeah.

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new year new blog

So, it is January of 2018. In one form or another, I have been writing “here” for almost 15 years now. That is, quite frankly, ridiculous.

I’ve talked about linux systems administration, video game development and depression. I’ve reviewed newly released anime and 10-year-old anime and free to play mmorpg’s. I’ve attempted various strategy game let’s plays and fiction writing challenges. I’ve speculated about the future of various games and theorycrafted ways to play them. I’ve apologized numerous times for not writing anything.

What I haven’t done is stick to a reliable release schedule 🙂

There have been times when I posted 10 times a week… and times when I never actually completed a post over the course of a year (as per recent history). But I’ve always been writing – even if posts never came out, there are stubs that never quite hit completion.

Seriously, though. My historical ratio of completed to uncompleted posts is rather poor. Right now, I have 16 things that I tried to write over the past two years but never got around to… and of them, I only feel one post is worth trying to finish… and IT was originally written in the context of Borderlands 2, a video game that shipped over 8 years ago. So maybe?

I want to set and stick to a schedule for the coming year, but at the same time I also want to increase the quality of what I produce here. I also want to start streaming gameplay (or game development) on Twitch and releasing video content on YouTube somewhat regularly.

I’ve contemplated scrapping all of this backlog of history in favor of a clean slate… but am not going to do that right now. If I wipe the blog, I’d only do so as part of a migration to a new domain – which is only likely to happen at this point if I somehow wound up making a living off of the blog… which, yeah. Nope 🙂

So… this is my semi-regular announcement to nobody in particular that things are going to be different. We’ll see how that goes.

ten books

One of the current things spidering its way over the social networks is what I assume is meant to be a quick challenge to name your 10 favorite books or similar. I read entries by a few friends but avoided commenting on any of them because I knew I’d lose a few hours if someone asked me for my list.

It’s no secret that I like books. My wife and I own entirely too many of them – probably 1/3 of the weight involved in our last move was made up of books or book-like-objects (this is down from over 1/2 back before we had children or much furniture). We’re actually on a slow campaign in my family to reduce the physical mass of books in the house. So now we only have a half dozen bookshelves and a really long list of digital books 😛

After my sister got tapped for the challenge and only passed it on to my wife and one of my brothers, I thought I had avoided this round of the asynchronous party game that is Facebook. Little did I notice that she also tapped my mother – who promptly turned around and grabbed the rest of us. Pretty sneaky, Sis.

You see, when I was a kid, I didn’t earn a traditional allowance. There was no regularly scheduled pocket money, and chores were simply mandatory. At a very young age, my parents decided to pay me for reading books. At first, it was 1 cent per page of completed book.
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new domain

I don’t want to into it too deeply, but I am back up at a new domain name now and did not want to make this change. Problems with transferring between registrars left it open to squatting and while I could lawyer up and get my name back… I have choosen to stop caring. So, here we are – at a domain whose registration I had previously allowed to lapse that did not get squatted 😛

I’ve also taken this opportunity to upgrade my hosting to something a bit more reliable, and will see if I can’t bully myself into producing more regular content in the near future. Since I started my current job, several articles were written and discarded, but only two were posted. I will be going back over some of the drafts and publishing as many of them as I can salvage.

once upon a shuffle: 0: elise

Last May, a friend of mine accidentally gave me this idea while kicking off a project of his own. I sat down that evening with grand intentions but a combination of wordpress problems and work promptly beat things back down. I’ve decided now to resume the project. I am going to start writing faerie tales of a sort, and I am going to write as many of them as I can. Hopefully one a week, maybe two. We’ll see. These stories will be seeded by a shuffling of prompt cards from Atlas Games’ Once Upon a Time. My rules for the exercise are as follows:

  1. I draw between 5 and 12 regular cards and one ending
  2. I have to use all of the prompts in a coherent manner
  3. I must finish the story within 72 real hours of starting it – minimal time “wasted” in editing or rewriting
  4. Cards that I have used are not eligible for reuse until I have consumed the entire deck
  5. Bonus points for referencing previous stories in the set

The goal here is to spend time writing every couple of days and publish something every week. Call my deadline Wednesday evening. Just to keep my brain from shriveling up and blowing away.

The first story used 7 cards, and was written over two evenings in May of 2011.

once upon a shuffle: 0: elise

Once upon a time in a forgotten corner of a forgotten kingdom, a small village was tucked away in the shadow of a great mountain. The village saw neither peddler nor tax collector, so far away from the rest of the kingdom were they situated, and over time, the mapmakers and historians forgot it even existed. The village didn’t have a name, people just called it “The Village”. Because, honestly, what other village was there? They had similarly creative names for the mountain and the forest. The people lived a simple but happy life, away from news from the outside world. They raised goats and grew a remarkable variety of potato – and cared for little else.

It was here that Jens was born to a pair of happy parents. He grew to adulthood never questioning their way of life, happy with his dinners of goat cheese and potato soup. He had many friends among the other village youths – though there were only a handful. His best friend was the lovely Elise, a girl with rich chestnut hair to her waist and eyes the color of a frozen pond. Almost from birth, the two were inseparable and got into every sort of mischief together. It was assumed by the entire village, and the kids themselves, that they would eventually be married.

One autumn day, Jens and Elise climbed the mountain behind the village a ways to a secret spot where they had been building a cottage together, very slowly. The place had three walls, no door, 3/4 of of a roof, and an empty window frame overlooking the valley below. After their climb, they didn’t feel much like building. It was often this way, which is why the place was taking so long to put together. They would escape to their cottage two or three times a week and might put in an hour’s work one of those trips. Mostly, they just enjoyed the view and the quiet away from the bustle of the village below.
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For -years- I have hoped and searched and wished and moaned for lack of a halfway decent terminal emulator on Windows. Specifically, one that:

  1. Lets me use my standard unix toolset.
  2. Gives me a command line interface to the host machine WITHOUT requiring me to do something ridiculous like ssh’ing to localhost or firing up an x11 server…
  3. Realizes that sometimes the display is wider than 80 characters…
  4. Provides customizable color codes (#006 on black really stinks).
  5. Doesn’t set TERM=something-nobody-supports.

One wouldn’t think this was too much to ask. But none of the major open source projects of which I am aware provide this. I even tried my hand at writing one myself but got distracted before it was any good.

So, for years, I have used Cygwin xterms and rxvt as a mildly tolerable alternative to, well, nothing.

Today, a coworker and I discovered a 3-year-old blog post promoting Console, a GPL licensed CMD.exe replacement that matches all of my base criteria plus my big dream feature of tabs. TABS!

Console2, Where have you been all my life?!

The project is ancient – but I was using linux desktops for work back in its early days so that probably accounts for my missing it back then.

In the grand tradition of old Sourceforge projects, there is no installer. You just decompress it somewhere and run the exe directly.

When I launched it the first time, I was unsurprised by the 80×25 courier 10 cmd.exe shell it launched by default. I opened the settings menu and was very very pleased with what I found on the first screen. A few minutes later, I had it pointing at my cygwin install:

And a few minutes later:

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