Tag Archives: geek

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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dwarf fortress loadout manifesto

Dwarf Fortress is a notoriously complex game, and it isn’t getting any simpler. The barriers to entry are enormous. One of the worst culprits is the process of saying “Hey, I want to start a new game”. Before you start actually bossing dwarves around, you must:

  1. Create a world. This is trivial but time consuming, even on modern hardware – the process is increasingly complex with each build. Thankfully, you only have to do this once, so I consider this the final part of “installing” the game.
  2. Choose an embark location. This is fairly simple but possibly equally time consuming – because see #1. The world is big and there are a lot of possible places you might want to go. Some simple advice can help you get through this quickly enough, and I’ll address this later.
  3. Choose an embark loadout. This should be simple but is one of those choices that can bite you. You can either choose your own dwarves and equipment or you can trust the ever-changing default loadout. Traditionally, the default loadout is pretty mediocre and leaves a lot of room for improvement. I would like to go over my preferred build and the reasons behind it – as well as some reasons to do something else.

I have taken various levels of notes during 14 different playthroughs over the years (starting with 40d up to and including v0.34 builds). Using my notes as reference, I’d like to propose exactly how a person might consider going about the process of choosing an initial loadout.

The current (v0.34.11) default starting loadout is better imho than previous initial loadouts, but it’s still suboptimal – and leaves you open to several potential problems during your first year. If you are aware of your loadout and take care in your embark, you’ll be fine – but isn’t part of the point of the default that it should “just work”?
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mechromantic specifications

So, it is no secret that Borderlands is one of my favorite games of all time. Steam lies and says I’ve spent almost 400 hours between the two games. That is a gross underestimate. I believe I probably have finally spent more time on BL2 now than I did with BL1 and all of its DLC’s combined, and between the two games, they probably do add up to the “individual” FPS with which I have squandered the most time now.

When Gaige the Mechromancer was released as BL2’s fifth playable class, we were stoked. A coworker and I decided to try her out as a dedicated duo. Last week, we finished our second playthrough with our pair of mechros. These characters were never more than 15% of a level apart – mostly the result of spec experimentation on random mobs.

As we played to level 50 and beyond, we experimented with every imaginable character spec possible. He spent the entire time as some variety of Anarchy build and I spent most of my time in the lightning damage tree but occasionally tried heavy BFF or other random combinations. I even tried running Gaige in melee with a roid shield.

The end result is that we’ve returned to a pair of builds that are interesting and effective.
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console2

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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rift souls from space

I’m itching to do a write-up on some of RIFT’s rogue class options, but figured it was more appropriate that I did something else before launching into a full discussion of another class.

I’d like to take a moment and outline the salient points that make each of the game’s 30-odd subclasses unique and interesting, because I’ve yet to find anything of the sort anywhere. Most wikis just quote the same garbage promotional text that talks about how Champions have “legendary strength” and move with “startling speed” and other such uselessness. My information is from the skill tree itself. I am reporting the trends in abilities, some of which might not fully manifest unless one spends over 30 points in the class, but there you are.
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virtualbox rules

Nothing much to say here, but with absolutely minimal pain and suffering, I have 64-bit linux virtual machines running on top of my 32-bit windows XP install. This pleases me.

The recipe:

  1. Compatible CPU with VT-x/AMD-V enabled in the BIOS
  2. Innotek/Oracle/Sun VirtualBox (a current version) with hardware virtualization enabled
  3. Profit!

The one downside to this? 64-bit VM’s running on 32-bit host OS can’t see multiple cpu’s. Boo. Hoo. I’ll just run more VM’s!

64-bit centos installer 64-bit ubuntu livecd