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Roger Burgess
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Roger Burgess

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So you want to be a SysAdmin?

Here you go. Everything you need to get started running your own systems.

Short linux sysadmin screencasts containing tutorials, tips and tricks. Great for both novice and experienced Sysdmins.
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Roger Burgess

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h/t: the inestimable +Ben Gerber 
I love nature shows like this. The natural world is so beautiful! 
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I protest! I'm entirely estimable! 

Or... wait. No. Never mind. 
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#virtualization So, need to virtualize some imaging infrastructure with essentially zero budget.  The question becomes then, ease of use vs. power and adaptability.

Do I install VMware ESXi with the very, very limited free license (no HA, no vMotion, no VMM server) but that is easy to use?


Do I install XenServer, which is vastly more powerful:  High Availability, XenMotion and XenServer are available for no cost, but has a larger learning curve because I've never used it?

I'm leaning to Xen, it's not a horrifically complex setup so I can pretty easily recover from mistakes... but with ESXi I could finish the 'project' in under an hour...

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I'm definitely going to hit the limits hard and fast.  The inability to move vms from one host to the other kinda kills the main benefit of virtualization for me.... that's frustrating just thinking about: server dies, vms are essentially stuck on it until I can get the server up and running again.

Xen it is.  
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Roger Burgess

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Math is fun!
The 290 theorem

Manjul Bhargava is another of this year's Fields medalists.  He works on number theory, which in its simplest form is the study of integers:

 ..., -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, ...

So when I say 'number' in this post, I'll always mean one of these!

When Bhargava was a grad student at Princeton, he read a book on number theory by the famous mathematician Gauss.  Gauss was interested in quadratic forms, which are things like this:

x² + 3xy + y²

or this

-3x² + y² + 4xz + yz - 7z²

Gauss was mainly interested in quadratic forms with two variables, but it's also fun to think about more variables.

I can hand you a quadratic form and ask: what numbers can you get if you plug in any numbers you want for the variables?

Start with something really easy.  For this one

you can only get the perfect squares

0, 1, 4, 9, 16, ...

But what about this one?

x² + y²

Can you find numbers x and y that make x² + y² = 100?  How about x² + y² = 99?  Remember, I'm using 'numbers' to mean numbers like these:

 ..., -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, ...

And what about this quadratic form?

w² + x² + y² + z²

It's a famous fact that for this one, you can get any positive number by plugging in numbers for w, x, y and z. 

What about this?

x² + y² + z²

Now you can't get every positive number.   Do you see why?

We say a quadratic form is positive definite if whenever you plug numbers into it, you get something positive - unless all those numbers were zero.  For example,

x² + y² + z²

is positive definite, but

x² + y² - z²

is not. 

Okay, now you're ready.  Here's something amazing that Manjul Bhargava proved with +Jonathan Hanke in 2005.

Here's how to tell if you can get every positive number by plugging in numbers for the variables in a positive definite quadratic form.  It's enough to check that you can get every number from 1 to 290.

In fact, it's enough to get these numbers:

1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 23, 26, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35, 37, 42, 58, 93, 110, 145, 203, 290.


This is just one of many things Bhargava has done.  Most are a bit harder to explain, but I described one here:

It's about 'elliptic curves', another really popular topic in number theory. 

And in fact, the 290 theorem I just explained is secretly about elliptic curves!  As usual in number theory, the statement of a theorem may sound simple, cute, and pointless... but the proof reveals a very different world, and that's what really matters. 

Here's a nice explanation of the proof:

• Yong Suk Moon, Universal quadratic forms and the 15-theorem and 290-theorem,

The original paper is here:

• Manjul Bhargava and Jonathan Hanke, Universal quadratic forms and the 290-Theorem, to appear in Inventiones Mathematicae

There's a lot left to do.  For example, Jonathan Rouse tried to show that a positive definite quadratic form gives all  odd positive numbers if gives the odd numbers from 1 up to 451... but he only succeeded in showing this assuming something called the Generalized Riemann Hypothesis!  Proving this is an extremely hard problem in its own right.

• Jonathan Rouse, Quadratic forms representing all odd positive integers,

#spnetwork arxiv:1111.0979  #fieldsmedal   #numbertheory   #spnetwork  
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Roger Burgess

Rules Discussions  - 
Games consist of TWO major components, just like physics does: the RULES and the INTERPRETATION of the rules.

By changing the interpretation without changing the rules, you greatly expand your options with minimal work.

As an example, here's a re-interpretation of the MgT Psionics rules as Hacking in a Panoptic or near-panoptic (like ours) locale:
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Word count and deadline are open; in general, I'll consider it for the issue currently WIP if it arrives before about the 15th of the month; if it doesn't, I'll hold it for a subsequent issue. Please email me ( and I'll see if I can articulate where I think elaboration would be appropriate.
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Roger Burgess

Rules Discussions  - 
GM: "So, your arms dealer has 3 ACRs available."
Players: "Yay.  We grab 'em."


GM: "So, your arms dealer has 3 ACRs available, one from GALA/Sun Micro, highly dependable those, and the other two are BOSCH-Mitsubishi Smartguns, AKA: SmartassGuns. "
Players: "Yay. We grab 'em."
GM: "The G/S ACR rests comfortably in your hands, looking eager to kill something, now.  The B-M Smartasses are Fred and Nancy, respectively.  Oh, and they don't like each other much.  Nancy would prefer that you paint her something other than mat noir and the nootropics around Fred seem to be demanding the most recent version of the Forevenopedia, loudly."


Here are some weapon and armor  tags you can stick on stuff that is going to shoot at your players (my preference) or have your players look out for and purchase (the preference of GMs who are nice...)
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Honestly, I thought it was a brilliant idea putting a CyberDeck in BD, also liked the extendable sensors, but then I am a big Shirow/anime fan so to me extendable sensors is just natural. 
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Roger Burgess

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I'd like to point out that it's not quite as bad for the nation's economy as the wonderful Mr. Thompson points out.

In his time, yes.

In an era of (Nixonian) fiat currency, it just adds, somewhat significantly, to the National economy.

The points about the MID being too powerful are still spot on though. 
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Damn auto-corrupt! 
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Extreme.. but understandable.
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Roger Burgess

MGPT Derivatives  - 
Transhuman Traveller:

I'm working on a conversion of Eclipse Phase  to Traveller, which is going remarkably well.  EP is a d100 system with a plethora of skills (Add Aptitude+Skill value, roll under), Traveller is a 2d6 system with few, but broad skills (Add Attribute mod + Skill mod, roll 8+).  But in both cases, the Attributes (Aptitudes in EP) add to the skill value when rolling.

One place, however that is tricksy, is the Aptitude Maximum rating on morphs.

In EP every morph, or body, has a limit on how well its brain/body system can perform.  Human baseline is 15 and your basic pod morph has physical and mental 'room' for aptitudes up to 20, while specialized combat morphs and others have a maximum of 40, better than twice as good on a linear scale.

Now, this is fine: you want to take advantage of that 35 INTuition aptitude your Ego has?  Sleeve into a Menton, not a Pleasure Pod.


Given a design goal of The conversion must be 100% backwards compatible with MgT (and to a lesser extent, CT):

How could one go about modeling that in Traveller, where human baseline is 7, physical characteristic max is C (barring the occasional +1 Str from personal improvement tables and avoidance of negative aging rolls)

Options I've come up with:
1. Don't.  Just give morphs bonuses to stats.
Pros: Easy, both mechanically and psychologically: you're never taking away from anyone, a Baseline morph (a Flat in EP parlance) has no bonuses, whereas an expensive Ghost morph gets +2DEX, +1END, +1EDU and +1 to one other stat of the player's choice.
Cons: Morphs limiting your attributes is firmly in the 'rule of awesome' and really should be modeled.

2. Flats have an attribute max of 9, others have higher.
Pros: We now have two degrees of design freedom in creating morphs: attribute max and attribute bonuses.  So, your ego having a Dex of C(12) does you no good when sleeved into a stock synthmorph or flat.  Your +2 bonus is reduced to a +1.  Get a better morph brinker.
Cons: It seems to break backwards compatibility with the rest of MgT.  A poor thug from a backwater TL5 world can have DCC777 as stats and using these rules, it seems that he'd have to be in something other than a Flat or Synthmorph to take advantage of that.

Either exotic morphs are easier to come by even on low TL worlds than would seem plausible or we end up telling GMs to either sleeve everyone in flats unless it's reasonable otherwise (more work!  breaks backwards compatibility because we have to reconfigure stuff) or just ignore it and play as written (breaks verisimilitude, the whole point of the exercise is to let the players be able to make largely correct assumptions on the capabilities of others based on their morph)

3. Some other idea I haven't thought of yet.
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Average of 2D is 7.

With PD tables that number goes up a bit.

With Aging, that number goes down a lot. 
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Roger Burgess

Rules Discussions  - 
Traveller lacks a Transhuman supplement.

So, take the Creative Commons Licensed Eclipse Phase and give it a good once-over, Traveller-style.   

Work in progress, but there's enough there to begin playing immediately.
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1st off it sounds a lot like the Post Apocalypse that is running through my head, but fewer starships.... In that I am designing from a Video game Meme in which one can drive to the stars.... 

I am not trying to discourage y'all when I ask questions, just looking where your head is at.

Couple of points, not sure we need a bandwidth by bandwidth exposé of sensors, in that wide spectrum sensors are relatively low tech items in the Traveller Universe. In terms they are referred to as Active and Passive EMS arrays, unfortunately in MgT they seem to have missed that. Though a bit of breakout for "Stupid PC Tricks" with said bandwidths is probably good. (Side Note, I have done a fair amount of research support in identifying surveys with various satellite and aerial instruments that cover specific regions, so I forget most people don't much of a clue of how they work)  

As for ideas along similar paths today I have been pondering what a Standard Robot brain looks and feels like and which set of Traveller rules covers the topic best.... Mostly this in support of this idea that keeps surfacing in the back of my head A Boy and his Robot.
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Roger Burgess

Community Resources  - 
Range Bands can be a pain to keep track of in your head, especially since weapon ranges are measured in 10's of meters and movement is measured in 6's of meters.

So, here's a nice sheet that will let you take notes, keep track of who's where and their initiative and do it in style.
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When printing from google docs, select 'fit width' and 'portrait'.
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Roger Burgess

Discussion  - 

AEGIS Industries TL9 BattleDress.

At a mere c1,441,550.00 the Ghurka is the premiere design for high intensity mid-tech urban combat.  It comes standard with advanced,  boom mounted sensors, reactive camouflage and a comprehensive software suite designed to expose and disrupt standard sousveillance gear such as camera networks and personal data flows.

While it's terrifyingly effective in its element: mid-tech urban warfare, it can be quickly overwhelmed by high-tech sensor designs and A.I. assisted software development routines.
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Yup. MgT. It's compatible with most every version of Traveller. 
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Systems Administration
Contributor to
A Godless Liberal and avid Old School Gamer in the Information Age
I'm a proud father of two beautiful children and lucky husband to my wonderful wife.

Before my recent move to the fine state of Maryland:

I am late of the Board of NARAL Pro-Choice VA

I am a former Director of Communications of Progressive Democrats of America NoVA Chapter

I was the Co-President for the Presence Committee for the Loudoun County Democratic Committee

When I have a few seconds spare time, I like to play OSR style D&D and Munchkin.
Bragging rights
I rescue kittens from trees, puppies from runoff pipes and have saved the world thirteen times - this morning. I'm an international man of mystery who has divined the answer to the question of Life, the Universe and Everything.
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Roger Burgess's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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