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Alex Schroeder
Worked at BSI Business System Integration AG
Attended International School Bangkok
Lives in Zürich, Switzerland


Alex Schroeder

Actual Play  - 
Looking forward to run the game for the first time in one hour and thirteen minutes. I'm nervous. I'll report later. :)
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Alex Schroeder

Diskussion  - 
Another group getting into it!
Got an awesome group that is trying out The Great Pendragon Campaign. We are all interested in doing this for the long haul and we're cracking out the maps, digging into Fifth Century history, and building out coats of arms and family trees. My daughter +Lilith White is the least enthusiastic of us, the rest of us are all 80s gaming nerds who've been wanting to try this for 20 years. She is mostly looking on with amusement as we geek out.

Matt Picone set us up with a set of maps with 24-mile and 1-mile hex overlays so we can see just how close everything is. Mark Smylie dug into the history of Pitton, his character Sir Aeron's randomly-generated manor, and tweaked his family ability to match the historically rumored link to royal mews that is associated with the manor.

We did character gen last week, with each player making a primary and a backup (good thing, too, see below), and then had our initial session this week, Year 485, the Battle of Mearcread Creek. Our three knights, Sir Florentina, Sir Galmwr, and Sir Aeron brought their household knights, mostly cousins, siblings, and uncles, to face the Saxons under King Aelle. The battle was inconclusive, with some moments of individual heroism, and a first session knight death. 

Sir Florentina was slain by a Saxon Thegn and her sister Eleanor bravely pulled her body from the field. Sir Aeron later faced the thegn and captured him in battle. Sir Galmwr's favorite cousin died defending him from a Saxon axeman, and Sir Galmwr went mad with grief (failed a passion roll), going into a frenzy on the battlefield and being taken away by Saxons, later to flee into the woods, surprising the hell out of his Saxon captors. Eleanor was knighted for her heroic actions, inheriting the manor of Dinton.

 #GameNight #GreatPendragonCampaign
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David Benson's profile photoNorbert Sztakovits's profile photoJonathan Smith's profile photo
hi! congrats.
I will start running it this Saturday. The introductory scenario in the rulebook seems to be a good warm up to the big chunk...
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Alex Schroeder

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Some people say, time flies and I think they mean that they remember events of the distant past as if they had happened only yesterday and then there are long stretches where they don't remember much. Luckily, I don't have this feeling of time running through my fingers. Instead, I feel like my life stretches into an unimaginable past of cassette recorders, land lines, 2400 baud modems, vinyl records. When I met Claudia, there were no cell phones. Claudia felt that CDs were just a fad and would soon disappear again. And between then and now, so many years, so many summers, so much rain, so many holidays, so much to eat, so many stories to share, so much togetherness.
Yeah, I haven't been able to enjoy myself as much as I usually do since I caught a cold and currently fighting snot and headaches at 37,7°C – but that doesn't diminish this uplifting feeling of loyalty, friendship, attraction, confidence, intimacy, knowledge, sympathy, growing up and growing old ...
Paolo Greco's profile photoDave Garbutt's profile photoKinley Dorji's profile photoAlex Schroeder's profile photo
+Kinley Dorji
Thanks. :)
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Alex Schroeder

Discussion  - 
Lauren said "I'm hoping we can stay focused on practical processes and solutions that are workable at very large scales." This post is about a wiki that is popular but not as popular as Wikipedia.

I've been running Emacs Wiki for a while now. It's definitely not "at very large scales" but it was certainly a step up from all my previous wiki efforts. I got started back on the Portland Pattern Repository and Meatball Wiki and so I kept trying to live up to Soft Security. That's why Emacs Wiki still doesn't have logins and passwords for ordinary users. There are passwords for roles that allow you to lock pages and to edit locked pages, for example.

The first line of defense I added was rolling back edits. The first wiki I used allowed you to edit an old revision and save it (click history link, click good revision, scroll to bottom, click edit link, scroll to bottom, click save button). I wanted to speed up the clean up. Now you you click history link and click the rollback button.

The remaining features are reserved for administrators.

Banning URLs by regexp
We are mostly getting link spam. Therefore I soon introduced a list of regular expressions (on a locked page that I could edit together with my co-administrators). In order to speed this up, I added some code to rollbacks. If the rollback removed URLs from the page text, those are listed and you automatically get a form where you can write a regular expression based on the list you're seeing. Clicking the submit button will add this regular expression to the ban list.

Banning IP numbers
This is a very crude measure. Luckily enough, it still works often enough. Perfect for defense in depth. I added more code to rollbacks. After a rollback, administrators are presented with a link to "ban contributors". If you click on it, you're presented with the editors of recent page revisions, together with a note indicating whether they have been banned or not. You can check the IP numbers of the contributors not yet banned and click a button to add an appropriate regular expression to the list.

Banning key words
This is also a very crude measure. It's our last automatic defense. We've added a few regular expressions to this list such as the Russian word for porn because we were getting vandals that posted links to forums and the like, together with some keywords, and those forum posts would then contain the link to the material we wanted to ban. The indirection via forum, URL shortener and the like circumvented our earlier ban mechanisms. This was our solution.

Mass Rollback
If we're under a large scale attack, we can always lock the wiki and wait. Once the damage is done, however, we can reset the wiki to a particular edit, generating the appropriate rollbacks for every page (i.e. these rollbacks are all regular edits and can again be undone by other administrators).

There are also other defense mechanisms unrelated to banning.

We only ask for a CAPTCHA once. Answering the question sets a cookie that bypasses the CAPTCHA. Clearly, this only works for a low profile site.

Surge Protection
If you load too many pages in a short time window, the wiki will start responding with error messages, assuming that you're a bot and not a human.

Things we're currently missing:

There is currently no way to automatically ban the entire IP range given an IP number.

There is currently a semi-automatic expiry process for bans. It would be better if this was automatic.

There used to be a ban network sharing those regular expression lists but it was brittle and so I abandoned it.
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Alex Schroeder

Discussion  - 
I still remember fondly how AIM used to work: if somebody was obnoxious to me, I could "warn" them, increasing their warning level. But only if they contacted me first! This warning level decayed over time. People could only initiate conversations with people at their warning level or higher. If you never talked to anybody, nobody could increase your warning level.
Why did this concept disappear? Does anybody know?
Robert Carney's profile photoLauren Weinstein's profile photoAlex Schroeder's profile photo
The ingenious part was that you could only warn people that you were talking to. I guess this breaks down with institutional accounts that need to chat with thousands of people. Perhaps it only worked well in situations like mine, were we all had similar needs. 
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On evolution, peacocks, Voyager, the singularity, big brains and mating rituals. Radomir suddenly seems so much more attractive! (But you'll need to read his post in order to understand.)
I recently finished reading "The Red Queen", by Matt Ridley. It's mostly about how different features and behaviors of organisms might have evolved. It's very nice in showing how evolution doesn't really favor "improvement", "progress" or even "survival", but simply just the ability to pass a certain feature on. The last chapter of the book explores different ways in which our large brains might have evolved, drawing a lot of parallels to the mechanisms shown in the previous chapters. Finally, it proposes that our brains are similar in function to peacock tails: they are costly, didn't really provide much benefit in the prehistoric times, but they make us seem attractive to our potential partners. Thus, all products of the human mind, such as all sorts of art, from paintings and sculptures to music and dance, philosophy, science, technology, etc. are nothing more than instinctive mating rituals. Of course, this is a simplification, but it makes me think...

You see, we consider ourselves the pinnacle of evolution, the most developed species, the best there is. We feel sorry for the poor animals who can't really think like we do, who can't participate in the products of our culture, such as poetry, literature or movies, etc. I can't help but wonder if the peacocks think the same about us and all other animals. Poor creatures who will never have such great tails and even if they had them, would never be able to present them properly, etc.

Remember the Voyager probe? Apart from all the scientific hardware it needs, it also carries a sort of "message" for anybody who might find it. What is that message? Some music. Some art. Some scientific information. What we consider the most worthy. It's almost as if we are courting the aliens, trying to impress them with our peacock tails!

Then there is this whole topic of the technological singularity. How the machines we build can be more intelligent than us and keep on improving themselves leading to accelerating rate of "progress". And I can't help but compare that to peacocks building an ultimate robo-peacock, which in turn uses its improved tail to build even better robots, finally arriving at a tail so gigantic and gaudy, that nothing better exists in the universe. But this might just be our mating instincts, and there is no telling what the super-intelligent machines will consider worthy of their pursuits. Intelligence and knowledge is valued by us, because that's how we are build, but maybe it only gives you so much advantage, and then you move on to something else?
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If any of you want to submit adventures and maps to the One Page Dungeon Contest 2015, now's the time to sharpen your tools and plug in those pencils...
My tiny little infected pig eyes espy this heading: One Page Dungeon Contest 2015! All right, then!!
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Alex Schroeder

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I am not an audiophile. My headphones only ever get used when I vacuum the apartment and listen to podcasts. Today: The Ancient World on the deciphering if ancient cuneiform.
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Alex Schroeder

Diskussion  - 
Alex Schroeder originally shared:
Do you feel like collaborating on a classic D&D dungeon? I am drawing a little dungeon, about six levels deep. Ideally we would then split it all up into six One Page Dungeons and each submit one level to the +One Page Dungeon Contest at the end of April. Leave a comment if you're interested. I'm guessing I'd create a little Google+ Community for us to collaborate in?

I'm going to be using #Gridmapper for the map. It works best with Firefox but Chrome will also do. I'm still working on the map. Here's a snapshot: (you can load the current state from the wiki by loading The Sewer Prison).

At the same time, I want to use this dungeon for my current campaign, soon!

The backstory is this: in my campaign, the party built a hospital in the coastal town of Kerealia, which got taken over by a chaos warrior called Nualia, wielding a magic sword called Man Eater and worshiping the demon of all crab-men, Garaskis. The hospital turned into a mad house, a prison, temple, a center of human sacrifice and crab man worship. Now we're going back with a new party of characters on levels 1 to 4, trying to rescue a friend or two and get rid of Nualia once and for all.

In terms of influences:
– Kerealia is a town by the Sea of Five Winds, of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy
– Nualia is a non-player character from Paizo's Burnt Offerings, their first book of the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path, lording it over some goblins
– Garaskis and the crab-men is from the upper levels of The Darkness Beneath in Fight On! magazine by David Bowman
– In terms of style, I'm aiming for something like Stonehell

Anyway, if you feel your strength is keying a dungeon, creating treasure hoards, creating tricks and traps for dungeons, editing, illustrations, or adding the gonzo crazy to mundane dungeons, I could use your help! My own strengths are (hopefully) the mapping, a ruthless focus on brevity, and coding stuff if we need tool support.

I'm planning for the actual dungeon key to be written on the wiki, too:
Once we're done editing and all that, we'll move it – hopefully! – to six single page PDF documents, ready for the contest.

#1PDC #collaboration  
This is what I'm currently working on. Open Gridmapper and load The Sewer Prison to get the map. Use 'z' to move down a level and 'y' to move up a level.✎. Level 1✎. 1 – A square room, flagstones, corridors. Light falls in from above. The stairs lead outside.✎. 2 – A bridge across a great pit ...
Taylor Frank's profile photoAlex Schroeder's profile photo
+Taylor Frank
Cool! I don't think we need an interview to join the project. Let's see how it goes!
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Alex Schroeder

Diskussion  - 
Triemli, Zürich
Alex Schroeder's profile photo
#Gridmapper  is my new tool to speed up dungeon map creation. Once you're happy, you can take the SVG, delete the unnecessary cruft and continue working in Inkscape. Emphasis is on utility while making the map, not beauty of the end product. In theory, that part would come later, once you have the map in Inkscape (and perhaps exported from there as bitmap and moved to Gimp or Photoshop). Unfortunately those later steps are not for me... :)

Example dungeon I'm working on when I'm not working on the tool itself (another very common distraction...):
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Just in case you haven't seen this anywhere else: #Gridmapper  is a web app to help you draw dungeons. If you want, you can save the file and use it offline, too.

If you follow the link to the SVG file, click the Demo link and watch it, that should take about 100 seconds. :)

Unfortunately I dropped IE 11 support along the way... Firefox and Chrome should work, though.


Some more technical documentation:
Benjamin Kramer's profile photoLoki in New Orleans's profile photoAlex Schroeder's profile photo
I'm always interested in seeing what people create with it, or the kind of features people would like to see in order to push it to the next level.
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Emacs, Lisp, Perl, Wiki, D&D
I have some rare public posts. These are usually about Google+ itself. I also post to specific communities when the topic warrants it. If you haven't joined the same communities, you can check my profile to see those posts and the communities they went to. They're all public. That's how I hope to find new people: I often check the profiles of new people that comment on my posts.

As for role-playing games: I run two old school campaign using Labyrinth Lord and I play in an old school campaign using the Adventure Conqueror King System. I'm also in a biweekly indie game group. All in all I've played various Fate variants, including mini campaigns using Diaspora, Burning Wheel and Mouse Guard, as well as various one-shots using Lady Blackbird, Mountain Witch, In A Wicked Age, Western City, Apocalypse World, Isotope and many more.

As for politics and religion, I don't post much. I think these topics are important and that we need to have a conversation about them if we're going to share this world, but I get most of that from newspapers. Thus, I might plus a lot of left-leaning posts, but I hardly ever post any. I do post links to political things I care about on Twitter, though. I usually uncircle people that post too much about their favorite religion, gun activism, hate speech (islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny) and other things that make me sad, or people that post too much about the food they eat or the drinks they drink…
I live in Switzerland. I write code for a living (Java). I have a 60% job. I try to keep fit using Aikido, 10km running and some callisthenics. I have no faith and no kids.
Bragging rights
In Switzerland, bragging leads to loss of face.
  • International School Bangkok
  • Deutsche Schule Lissabon
  • Universität Zürich
  • Kantonsschule Baden
Basic Information
Other names
Code monkey
  • BSI Business System Integration AG
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Zürich, Switzerland
Lisboa, Portugal - Bangkok, Thailand - Windhoek, Namibia
Contributor to
Alex Schroeder's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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