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Jens Finkhäuser
Enjoys twiddling bits. Vegan, (music) geek.
Enjoys twiddling bits. Vegan, (music) geek.
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TIL that STEM is MINT in German.
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So...

I know a few people in the German space agency, working on ESA projects. My wife was a planner for the Columbus mission, the European module of the international space station. And one of our friends is a flight director there.

Said friend got me into competitive Carcassonne a while ago. It really opened my eyes to how well designed the game is. Some expansions add very well to it, others less so. What continues to impress me is how simple it is to get started, and how more complex strategies open up to you over time. We all enjoy that very much.

So naturally the question popped up whether we can combine those elements with a human space flight theme.

Our goals are to keep the emergent complexity and tile laying of Carcassonne, because we love it. But we don't want to make a clone, or just tack on extra mechanics. Instead, we're exploring a variation of the basic mechanics that better fits the theme, and supplement that with another dimension of game play.

Another goal is to portray human space exploration somewhat realistically. Nobody wants to get bogged down in unnecessary detail, or have a game so educational it ceases to be a fun. But within those boundaries, we're more interested in realism over space opera.

We've settled on the basic shape of the mechanics, and are going over to iterating over them through play testing now.

Sorry about vague posting a little here. So far, there is not much more to tell. I'm posting this here to figure out if this sounds appealing at all.

For now, this is a hobby project. But if there is sufficient interest, I'd be happy to post more details in future. Perhaps a Kickstarter will fall out of it, too. That's certainly what we're hoping for, but it's a little too early to tell, as you can imagine.

Any questions so far?
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Posted her because I associate it with recent shitstorms in the gaming space. I could post it elsewhere, too.

It's also a reminder to myself. I do not number 1d6 thousand followers, but maybe I should practice anyway.
Words About Platforms and Publicity

Part of the insidious appeal of social media is that it combines all spaces and contexts of interaction—personal, professional, recreational, intimate, distant, etc.—into one fuzzy, nebulous mass. There are a bunch of emergent properties that come out of this phenomenon, which may be the subject of a future post, but one in particular has been chewing at my brain for a while.

There's a point at which people on the Internet can develop enough of a following that what began as their private feed must be considered a public forum in every way that matters, and regulated by the moral and ethical requirements and expectations of a public forum.

In other words, if you're a well-known media personality with 1d6 thousand something friends/followers/whatever, you can't really call your "friends only" posts non-public, and you don't really get away with eliding over the moral and ethical consequences of what you broadcast.

But a lot of us (and I do mean "us," because hey, I have a reach that numbers in the 1d6 thousands) do try to deflect that responsibility in various ways, by rationalizing boundaries that the medium itself does not recognize. "Oh, this is just my personal gaming blog," or " this is my personal page, not my celebrity page," or whatever.

And this impulse is understandable, because frankly, the transition into being a public figure is stressful and shitty, and at the extremes, dehumanizing. No one ever wants to bring 100% of the baggage of everything they are with them into every interaction, which is why we do the compartmentalizing we do in meatspace.

But social media doesn't care about those exigencies. It is literally designed to ignore them, to force you to bring everything that you are with you, always, all the time. When thousands of people are watching, you don't get the benefit of speaking or being heard as only one part of yourself.

So, no, Media Person, you don't just get to have a cute little blog about your personal opinions about whatever forms of media you're involved in. You don't just get to vent about whatever conflicts you're involved in and innocently blow off steam. You don't get to ignore the context ascribed to you by other places on the Internet where your name shows up. You no longer get to shoot from the hip without consequence.

Whatever power or influence you have, whatever's tied to you, it's always there. People are going to care what you say. And people are going to act on what you say. You don't get to avoid participating in the call and response cycle that drives Internet discussion, or cordon something off as out of bounds.

That is, frankly, painfully unfair, because you don't really get a say on it. Especially for marginalized folks who become popular or well-known, it can be deeply, deeply costly, because they do not get the second chances other people do in the court of public opinion. I personally find it insipid, and I hope one day that social media evolves into something that can recognize the need for that compartmentalization more fully. But for now, we have what we have.

And it leads a lot of folks impacted by that phenomenon to try and emulate the small, intimate spaces they have in meatspace—little circles of only RL acquaintances or whatever. That can help, except that if any of those spaces grows even a little, it risks hitting that tipping point where it becomes a public space again for all practical intents and purposes, and we're right back where we started. Frankly, it doesn't take a huge amount of people to make that happen.

So, what's the point of all this? Mainly just to point out that a lot of us folks with platforms are routinely bullshitting ourselves about the breadth and depth of our impact in the miasma of social media communication, and maybe we should think about that a little more before hitting that "Post" button.

Sorry, Game Designer Person, but that off-hand snarky comment you made on your wall about that one game is someone else's Deep Official Critique (tm) that they'll then take somewhere else. Sorry, TV Person, but when you Tweet out that you like a show, that's someone else's Official Endorsement (tm), for better or for worse.

And sorry, Viral Blogger, but if you want people to stop talking about something, and you yourself keep talking about it on your spaces for some other reason (like you're seeking validation or social support), you're part of why that conversation continues.

Right now, like it or not, that's the cost of doing business. And you are accountable for your part of what comes of it.
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I don't know who this little girl is, but she just won the next four Halloweens.
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I worked with programmers who would totally do that.
SSL giving you the blues? (Don't) use this one weird trick to bypass the warnings!
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So it's been a month now since the #remarkablepaper started shipping. That means it's at least two since the software it shipped with was largely finalised, with maybe a bugfix or three squeezed in later.

So two months out from the last software release, and nothing new on the horizon. That's pretty tragic for how much alphaware the thing was.

I thought they were struggling when I first saw the thing, but now every day that passes seems more like it.

Makes me sad.
#remarkablepaper

So I've been test-driving the reMarkable for a while now. I'm a little frustrated with the experience so far.

The Good

Drawing on the e-paper isn't quite like drawing on real paper, but it's so close it works for me.

That's the major selling point of the device, and IMHO they nailed it.

The Bad

Oh where do I start? The list is long...

- The software crashes and the device reboots about once per day (not heavy usage).
- The device can't connect to hidden WiFi networks.
- All document management functionality is missing, rendering it useless for larger collections of documents - which is precisely why one might go digital in the first place. Specifically...
a) Bookmarking works per document, not per page or per point on the page, rendering it almost useless.
b) Re-ordering of pages is nonexistent.
c) Copy & pasting pages to/from documents is nonexistent.
d) Deleting pages exists, but you have to move to the document overview; it's not an action you can kick off from the page you're on.
e) Moving documents to folders involves 6-7 taps. A bulk option exists, but - here your experience may vary - it took me surprisingly long to discover it.
f) There is no document metadata.
g) There is no way to tag or categorise documents other than by folders, which is one-dimensional ONLY.
h) There is no way to sort, search or organise by metadata, since metadata does not exist.
i) Speaking of searching... it is limited to file names, apparently. So you can never find any content, anywhere.
- Image formats? Forget it.
- Connecting to the device is strange in ways that I can only consider broken:
a) Unlikely literally every other device out there, this is not a USB storage device. That is, when you connect it to your computer, it does not show up as an external hard disk. That means you can't supplement the lack of software features with something like Calibre.
b) The upload functionality is largely hidden (web interface): there is nothing to suggest it exists at all, and when you drag/drop items to the browser, there is no indication that uploads are in progress, how many are in progress, etc. This experience is further buggy in that sometimes there's simply nothing happening.
c) There is no download functionality. None. At all. Once on the device, you cannot retrieve the documents, ever. With or without your modifications, it does not matter.
- Usability is not very high. The "context" menu (three dots) opens at the top of the screen, and when it's open you can still select more documents. It also behaves like a multi-document action menu in that after you clicked one document's context menu, you can select further documents and perform the actions on all of them. This is not what users expect; someone needs to learn about UX here.

The worst part? I reported these and other issues (yes, there are more, but less urgent issues), got a canned response for all of them, and my requests for any indication at all as to when we might see updates that fix some or all of these issues go ignored.

Verdict

Don't buy.

Of course these are all software issues, and software can be patched. I'd be super happy if it did get patched, and these issues got resolved. At that point, I'll gladly recommend the device to everyone.

The tag line is "better paper"? Currently, it's "barely paper". While the drawing experience is great, physical paper's drawing experience is still better. And without any of the usual or useful benefits of going digital, there's really no good reason to switch.

I'll update as patches come in.

Update: It seems the ability to contact support for error reports and suggestions is removed from the website.
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Kinda true. I didn't have the problem, but now it cannot be unseen!
Dave Mustaine always appears in my head when I see Max in Stranger Things.
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SPOILERS!!!


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"The Last Jedi" is translated into German as plural.

German movie title translations have traditionally been pretty shitty, but for a franchise like this, I would trust quality control just a little.
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