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Technomancer and troubleshooter by trade. Programmer by choice. Creator of Deviant Paradigm, somewhat by accident.
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Finally Bottled the Wheat
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Halloween Party: Images 2005
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Semper Nox Noctis
Semper Nox Noctis: Memoirs of the OverAlpha 1
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Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Another One of Those Weeks
Someday, I'm going to have a really awesome week. I'm going to meet the girl of my dreams, get something awesome accomplished, and maybe have half a chance to relax. Of course, that week wasn't last week and doesn't look like it'll be this week either.
Last week was not really a very good week. Honestly, I don't remember much of it anymore apart from not being able to get up in the mornings, the dog dumping UV-reactive hair gel on the carpet in two distinct places (and even with a carpet cleaner, I'm having troubles getting it out), oh, and getting my first speeding ticket ever. Going to the airport to pick up my coworkers to boot, which I volunteered to do because I'm usually up late anyway. The one bright side of that was seeing a shooting star, which I'm pretty sure was my first. I think it was actually a satellite that they deorbited, honestly, but I wouldn't really know about these things. No luck on the wish being granted, though. So, yeah, I get to go to STOP class and hope my insurance doesn't go through the roof. I'm not exactly excited or pleased.
This week is going to be rough too. The boss just cc'ed me on an email where he made rather grandiose claims about the product I'm working on and promised a mostly working version of it by the end of this week. I'm not sure that he's aware that one of the important features, saving and loading, isn't done yet. Or even started. He came into the webdev office while I was working on it today, trying to come up with a way to coerce the event driven nature of Flash to load images without letting them go out of scope. Of course, he didn't talk to me, or even look over my shoulder. So I'm probably going to get stuck pulling long, late nights at work all week, trying to convince it to come together. And Heaven help me if the network goes down...I can't afford to devote a day to troubleshooting that this week.
It's going to be one long week, and it's just started. *sigh*
Friday, January 18, 2008
Instant Kills are Stupid
I don't generally complain a lot about the D&D game I'm in; or really any other role-playing game I play in (running one is something different, I complain about that a lot). Usually it's no more than lamenting my absolutely terrible luck (I consistently roll critical failures several times during a session). But that puts me in a unique position, and I'm going to complain bitterly this time. I've learned -- nothing makes a player feel more cheated then taking them out instantly because they botched a single roll. Insta-kills off a single roll are stupid. Overdamage is fair, you usually have to do something stupid to get yourself in a position where you die from a single attack. At least when that happens you get to go "oh, man, if I'd only taken X number of points of damage less..." Heck, now Emo's even giving us a saving throw and letting us stay on our feet when we go negative. But insta-killed by an instant poison effect because I critically failed a single block? My biggest complaint about Emo's game is that I'm a melee fighter in a game designed around magic being the best. It doesn't matter what the problem is -- you just push the magic button. But I've gotten to the point where I generally just deal with that. What I can't take (and it's now happened to me twice), is when you fail a single roll, and you're just done. It's not like I even did something foolish this time (the last time was kind of foolish, but it's hard to predict that the party's going to just abandon you). I was playing to my character's strengths, using my cloak with 90% invisibility and x3 backstab to try to get into a position to hit this evil witch. But of course, that doesn't matter -- she notices me instantly anyway (see why I complain about magic just being a "win" button?). But that's okay, I still get my attacks, all of which are incredibly lackluster. She catches me with a couple counterattacks (the back-and-forth of the combat system is one of its greatest strengths). And I drop a twenty and a one on my defense, a critical success (counterattacking back) and a critical failure. I do thirty-six points of damage to her; and then die instantly when she touches me with a poisoned staff. WHAT? It's not equivalent, it's not even close. Okay, in fairness, she was able to defend herself. But you know what? My maximum damage is only 44 (and that's assuming I can do "evil" damage to someone, which probably isn't true here). There's no possible way for me to instantly kill any enemy of a hit dice number even remotely similar to mine. Okay, in fairness, with backstab, I probably could do it. Not that I ever get to really use backstab, and not that we fight people with hit dice counts remotely close to ours (the witch could have taken me doing a full damage backstab, I'm pretty darn sure). I'm used to suffering sixty or so points of damage because I roll poorly, but you what, that's okay. I have to pull out and heal; it's a problem and an irritation, but it's something I've gotten used to, because I'm incredibly unlucky. But instantaneous death, not because I did something dumb, not because I was already badly wounded, just because I rolled one bad roll. I'd not be so pissed off if I'd gotten to make a save against it -- fail badly twice in a row, and the dice are rolling against you; sometimes that happens. But instant death on what might as well be a fluke roll? It's hard to come away from that with anything but "the GM just wanted to kill you." And "oh, it's not like the party can't just raise you from the dead," doesn't cut it. It's not so much that my character died, it's that they died from something really stupid and random (no glory, nothing redeeming) and now I'm stuck, sitting here, for over an hour, listening to everybody else fight the battle. My evening is now wasted. One bad die roll cost me all the fun in the situation. I do what I can to stay interested, but hell, I thought Emo learned that these sorts of things are stupid the last time it happened to me. I'm sick of that sort of garbage. It's not very hard for me to come up with things I'd rather do than sit there for almost two hours listening to other people have fun.
Yes, I'm bitter. Yes, I'm pissed off. I expect to get a saving throw against instant death effects; it's written on my freaking character sheet. If you're going to try running the game without saving throws, tell your players that. Don't just say, "The thorny staff brushes you and you fall to the ground," and expect them to put together that you just killed them because they failed a single roll. I wasn't eager to play D&D again in the first place, and I'm starting to feel crowded by the number of players that have started playing (we've got a party of nine now, I think). I'll leave. I can come up with better things to do.
When you're GM, and you're playing the antagonists, you get used to the players occasionally getting lucky and one-shotting an NPC. But that's GM'ing. It's distinctly different from playing. All of your fun isn't bound to that one NPC (and if it is, you're GM'ing wrong). A GM can deal with having that one NPC die instantly, often by bringing in guards or something like that, or just letting the players get away with it. They really get a boost from doing something ridiculous like that (mooks don't count; this is only valid for real NPC threats). But when it happens to a player, they feel cheated; and in a lot of ways they are.
I swear, now, in front of all of you, I swear that I will never, never kill any of my player characters instantly because of one unlucky roll, unless it's by sheer overdamage (sometimes the EOD crew cuts the wrong wire; you might live through the explosion...) or they absolutely brought it on themselves (if you're dumb enough to attack a tank with a folding chair, you deserve to take it from the .50 cal coaxial). That is my promise. You'll always get at least one chance to save.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
What Kind of Cereal Does Those Boxtops Come From?
Okay, how many boxtops do I need to save up to get my very own spunky, conservative babe with a decent imagination and a tolerance of the furry fetish? And don't try telling me they don't exist -- I know for a fact they do! I know one. I talk to her regularly. And no, she's not an option, so that suggestion is right out.
(Hell, I'd go for a spunky, moderate babe with a decent imagination and a tolerance of the furry fetish. *grin*)
Because we're getting nowhere on the new comic, Sapph's suggested we try a smaller project first. He's right, of course, but it's hard for me to tell a short story. And the ones he would really like to do are either things that I need to spend some time getting into (a fighting-game-like tournament) or that I've found myself incapable of writing (a zany, fun comedy). Like I told him, I think I'm going to have to get laid before I'm able to write something wacky. At least I need something to pull me out of my depression. Kethra tries, but I don't really like her licking my face, especially when I'm trying to take a nap. She's sweet and all, but she also likes to eat squirrel poop when she gets the chance.
At least I'm busy. Sapph's starting to hate his job again, and so he's not giving me any sympathy. I don't know what to do to help the guy. I've tried to lean on the graphics guys I know, but they're not in any sort of position to be hiring people. My boss has recently gone on a hiring spree, but neither Sapph nor Mal are well suited to anything that we've got to do, so I can't get them work here. I'm stuck. So maybe while I'm looking for the "pretty girlfriend" boxtops, he can start collecting "decent job" boxtops. I'll bet those kinds of cereals would sell like crazy.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Drops in Buckets
Ugh. I've spent the last two days deep in the bowels of traffic control and shaping theory. Since I've declared myself the Networks and Systems office at work (which is just as well, since I'd have had to do everything anyway), it's my responsibility to make sure that things work right. And so I've been working on putting together the egress shaping for the network. We're down to less than half of what we used to have (about half down and a third up, I think) and twice as many people, so the Internet at work isn't exactly quick on its feet. When your job involves SSH, this becomes painful. So I implemented QoS over the past couple days. (This next part won't make any sense to the nontechnomancers out there, so feel free to stop reading here. If anybody has questions about getting this sort of a configuration to work, let me know, I'll try to answer them as best I can.)
I spent today learning that only the outermost connection (the PPoE one, in our current case) gets filtered, so putting my queueing disciplines on eth0 weren't doing me any good (eth0 being the ethernet jack going to the DSL modem). Once I got everything looking at ppp0 (the DSL PPoE connection itself) it started to actually work. SSH is better, having its packets put in a much higher priority than most of the traffic that flies through the network. I'm still trying to sort out the optimum configuration, but the one I'm using isn't too bad. It's based on hierarchal token buckets (htb), with stochastic fairness queueing (sfq) at the bottom of each bucket making sure the packets are handed out fairly at each priority level. The big question for me is where to put VNC connections, a question that should hopefully be answered tomorrow. It's effectively a six bucket system, where the top bucket is just for overhead packets, hopefully to prevent the entire network from bogging down when things get busy, the second one for low-latency work like SSH, the next for "interactive" traffic; website requests and the like, then non-interactive traffic; UDP and currently where our VNC connections are sitting, then bulk traffic; things like SCP and FTP, and finally a bucket for unrecognized packets and services. There's enough traffic going through that last bucket that I'm concerned -- I'm doing some network profiling to see if I can't figure out what all that traffic is. The heirarchy is processed in that order. Everything looks like it's going more or less smoothy at the moment, so I'm excited.
I'm going back to Flash development tomorrow... In some ways, it's nice to get a break from the low level networking stuff, but I'm not exactly overjoyed to be stuck working on the Flash horror more, even if it does need to be done. *sigh*