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Simons Mith
Works at Aurora Metro Publications
Attended The prestigious Cruella de Vil College of Evil in Stoke Poges
Lived in 42.23144, -50.955033
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Simons Mith

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"A pony's life's for me" she said
The cracking of the Whip
She kept her saddle on in bed
But found she couldn't kip

-- Stevie, Merlyn, Darren, penelope

picture via +Alluna M 
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(I did this as a separate post because my little comic ditty has a different tone to Alluna's material. I didn't want to spoil the original content.)
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#Welded #steal #sculpture ,
65x130x150 cm. 2014.
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LIGO Gravitational Waves press announcement

Excellent news, and a superb example of how to announce a major scientific breakthrough.

I'm resharing this version because I'm just as pleased as every other geek, and also to spread Visnja's observation about what a well-done announcement this one was.
This is how you announce a major scientific breakthrough: (8 min video, very worth a look). You start the press conference by "We have detected gravitational waves, we did it!" followed by explanations so clear and interesting that your eyes tear up in awe. This man's name is David Reitze and he's the executive director of LIGO. Hopefully they put him in front of cameras more often.
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The Colour Thesaurus

Rather good collection of names for colours. Some of the colours are a bit off - gold doesn't look right at all to me, and on my monitor the blacks almost all look identical. But that doesn't matter. As an inspirational writers' resource for colour names, this is fine, and it's a lot less naff than trying to use paint colour lists for inspiration.
Assuming that your monitor displays colours correctly, this is really nice.
I love to collect words. Making word lists can help to find the voice of my story, dig into the emotion of a scene, or create variety. One of my on-going word collections is of colors. I love to st...
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I'm a guy all I see there is the color yellow
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Old Daily Show Video
- Jessica Williams on Wall Street

 Still just as on-point today as it was in around March 2013 when I believe it originally aired.

h/t to +Shaka DooDoo , but I have linked to a video rather than his captioned animated gifs.

I'm worried the blasted thing might generate an animation. Can't tell at the moment. Will be moved into the appropriate collection once I know.
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Dunno why, but I always strangely enjoy watching algorithms get animated.
This post explains a technique for generating randomized dungeons that was first described by TinyKeepDev here. I'll go over it in a little more detail than the steps in the original post. The general way the algorithm works is this: ...
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The Proverb of the Two Problems

Edit: TheCodelessCode has a fitting coda to this collection:

“So, if you are confronted with a problem and say, ‘I shall use the Proverb of the Two Problems’, you now have two problems.”
Two Problems
• Some people, when confronted with a problem, think, "I know, I'll use regular expressions." Now they have two problems.

• Some people, when faced with a problem, think, "I know, I'll use #binary." Now they have 10 problems.

• Some people, when confronted with a problem, think, "I know, I'll use #threads," and then two they hav erpoblesms.

• Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use #multithreading". Nothhw tpe yawrve o oblems.

• Some people, when confronted with a problem, think, "I know, I'll use mutexes." Now they have

• Some people, when confronted with a problem, think: "I know, I'll use caching." Now they have one problems.

• Some people see a problem and think "I know, I'll use #Java!" Now they have a ProblemFactory.

• Some programmers, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use floating point arithmetic." Now they have 1.999999999997 problems.

• Some people, wanting an escape from their full-time job, think "I know, I'll contribute to open source." Now they have two full-time jobs.

• Some people, when confronted with a problem, think: "I know, I'll think outside the box!" Now, they have 3.75 problems, an entirely new framework, and three dozen toll house cookies cooling in the kitchen.

• Some people when confronted with a desire to use pithy quotes in their presentations think "I know, I'll use something from Star Wars". Now two problems they have.

• Some people, when confronted with a problem, think, "I know, I'll use #UTF8." Now they à??????µ?ç°§ùÔ_¦Ñ?.

• "I'll use #PHP!" Now they have ("1 apple" + "1 orange") problems.

• "I'll use #Perl!" Now they have more than one way to have more than one problem....

• Some people, when confronted with a problem, think, "I know, I'll use Shareware." Now they have two trials.

• Some people, when confronted with a problem, think, "I know, I'll use delegations." Now their problem is a problem of their problem.

• Some people when confronted with a problem think "I know, I'll quote jwz". Now everyone has a problem.

(Source links:

#programming #problems
h/t +Vysakh Sreenivasan 
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Even CAMRA has managed to capitalise on the LIGO announcement.

David Birkett, Publications Sales & Marketing Officer at CAMRA, whom I know slightly, posted:

Scientists have gained new insights into the first beer that was drunk in the universe by detecting Original Gravity Waves.

Sorry,  #punday  has come early this week.
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There's a new Vorkosigan novel out, which I hadn't heard about!

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

Not much Miles in it, apparently, but some. And a character I didn't expect to come to the fore has a major part. That's not much of a spoiler - he's in the title.

Review here:
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Some encouraging progress on toxicology testing without using live animals
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Any interesting house rules? Pt X

[Three blaster-related ones, individually reasonably short. I hope I'm not reinventing the wheel here. Don't think I am...]

Repeat fire rules

Repeat Blasters are pretty boring things, aren't they? Okay, an E-Web does 8D damage, but it generally only goes for one target at a time, and it's relatively easy to dodge. Not really the fearsome, energy spitting beast we saw in The Empire Strikes Back, in the battle for Hoth and later mounted on the Millenium Falcon.

Well, here's a way to add some flavour to the repeat blaster.

A repeat blaster gains its power because it fires a large number of lower-powered blaster bolts very quickly, resulting in the target being riddled with damage. It's a blaster machine gun, basically.

In normal use, you squeeze the trigger and fire off a burst of blaster bolts at one target. This requires a normal to-hit roll and will inflict normal damage if you succeed.

Alternatively, you can fan out the shots over a wider area. This increases your chances of hitting the target, but of course you won't do as much damage that way. In game terms, you transfer dice of weapon damage to your skill code. Once you have transferred dice from damage to skill, you can use them for any normal purpose - most often an increased chance of a hit. You can change how many damage dice you transfer from one attack to the next.

In this case, the firer chooses how many dice to transfer from the damage code, and half that amount (rounded up) is added to the relevant weapons skill - Heavy Weapons, usually. 

Tracer/suppression mode

A particular repeat blaster's individual blaster bolts will be rated at 3D, 4D, 5D, maybe 6D damage. If you transfer so many dice from damage to skill that the blaster does less than one 'bolt' of damage, then it does no damage even if you get a 'hit'. This usage mode is commonly called tracer or suppression fire. The repeat blaster may not be doing any damage, but presumably other attackers on the same side will be. The main purpose of tracer fire is to direct the combined fire of a larger force onto a particular target, but if the gunner gets a good success (success by two levels), then one or more of their bolts may hit after all, and inflict 3-5D+ damage.

(Meanwhile the damage from all those other flying blaster bolts will still go somewhere; it's up to the GM to decide whether they go anywhere important.)

Example: The E-Web heavy repeat blaster is rated at 8D damage and 1D Fire Control. It fires 5D blaster bolts (rule of thumb - single bolt size = standard weapon damage minus 3D). Its minimum damage is 5D, giving a 2D skill bonus (half of 3D, rounded up.) In tracer mode, it can give as much as a 4D skill bonus, but zero damage.

Extra damage

If you want to pump even more damage into a target than the weapon's standard rating, then you're greedy. But in this case the standard rules for called shots or good successes already do what you need.

In-game tactical uses

Once a military force gets to company size (and sometimes even at platoon level), one does start to see infantry support weapons such as repeat blasters and light artillery appearing. A heavy weapons squad with a pair of heavy repeat blasters can spit out as much fire as a full platoon. If their PCs start to attract serious Imperial attention, or if GMs want to make a Rebel/Imperial skirmish quite a bit more spectacular, they should start to introduce these weapons.

(In some forces, there may be a bipod-mounted light repeat blaster with every squad.)

These weapons have a well-defined military purpose; by company level, opposing forces are expected to have hard cover, light armoured vehicles or heavy weapons of their own available. The purpose of the heavy weapons squad is to crack these harder targets while the regular soldiers deal with the everyday stuff. But you can't just have a heavy weapons squad on its own; it's vulnerable. It needs ordinary troops surrounding it to protect it while it does its job.

A heavy repeat blaster or two and supporting troops is a scary way to pile pressure onto PCs who can wade through large numbers of regular Imperial forces without breaking step.

Tracking blaster charges with a (tamer) wild die

I dislike adding extra numbers to the game if I can avoid it. Blaster charges are one such case. But I would like to track them, at least roughly. And if I do that, I want to guard against some players forgetting to keep accurate track while others remember, because that's unfair. My solution was to base the number of charges in a blaster on its damage code, which all published Star Wars weapons already have, so I don't have to track a new number (charges), which only some published weapons have.

So I chose blaster charges = 'rule of three' for the weapon's damage code. (3 per die plus one per pip) Thus, 15 for a blaster rifle, 12 for a blaster pistol and so on.

But wait, those are impossibly low. Modern weapons have more ammo than that!

Yeah, that's where the ammo die comes in. As for the Wild Die (which I don't use), whenever you roll damage you use one die distinguishable from the others. If that die comes up 6, you lose a blaster charge. Otherwise you don't. So on average 15 charges will last 15x6 = 90 shots. Players don't have to remember to record every last shot, and there's a bit of uncertainty and variation in how long their gun will last. This seems to be more reliable; players don't have to track anything at all, unless an external event comes up reminding them to do so. Having an external event as a trigger - a die coming up six - makes it much less likely to be forgotten.

Blaster charges when cut off from resupply

If characters are well-equipped and have easy access to supplies, then their weapons are assumed to be fully charged.

If the characters (or NPC soldiers) have had interrupted access to supplies and haven't been able to stock up, then they are assumed to use about 1D worth of charges in each fight.

On top of that, GMs may use up blaster charges at one of the following rates:

1D blaster charges/week - for constant skirmishing
1D blaster charges/month - for occasional skirmishing, practice
1D blaster charges/year - for practice, the occasional test fire, hunting, a small amount of charge leakage

A blaster left completely unused for years at a time will lose 'a few charges' but could probably still be fired - theoretically - 10-20 years later, if you were willing to risk it.

Once a player character is down to their final few charges in their one remaining power pack, GMs should stop using this system; let the players manage their last handful of shots for themselves.
Simons Mith's profile photoKirby Gehman's profile photoOliver Queen's profile photoRichard Conti's profile photo
Made a change to suppressive fire that now allows it from long range as well as damage mechanic for person hit as well as additional players bursting in the same effective area.
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This one I found technically impressive because GIFs are limited to 256 colours, and yet it looks close to photographic. The animation effect is a strong negative. I think when I queued it for sharing I had a GIF-autostill setting turned on. Safari, because the people who control what features go into Safari are arseholes, has no such capability. And all the stop-GIF plugins I found were incompetently implemented.
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Simons's Collections
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  • The prestigious Cruella de Vil College of Evil in Stoke Poges
    System Administration
  • University of Neasden
    Maniacal Engineering
  • Shepparton College of Hair Design and Beauty
    Moths, Psychics, Chemiserie
Basic Information
Looking for
Friends, A relationship, Networking
January 1, 1890
Other names
104879277024913363852, a_liar, not
As we journey through life, discarding baggage along the way, we should keep an iron grip, to the very end, on the capacity for silliness. It preserves the soul from desiccation. - Humphrey Lyttelton
I may not be as colorful as my avatar, but I do have better posture.

What to expect in my stream
I like to keep my feed as eclectic as I can, but certain posting trends are emerging. If Google+ ever gives us effective filtering tools, I'll try to be conscientious about tagging things into categories so that you can filter out the stuff you're not interested in. I don't categorically guarantee to keep what I post safe for work, but so far it mostly has been.

Sciency and computery stuff
I'm a sucker for sciency things, especially in areas I don't know much about. Maths, physics, astronomy, cryptography, computer programming, chemistry, geology, and anything else that comes my way. I'm interested in raytracing and CGI in general, computer art, fractals and cellular automata.

This includes sci-fi and astronomy, cyberpunk, steampunk, fantasy, fine art, CGI, sculpture, and scenes of natural earthly beauty. Beautiful animals, plants, fungi, minerals, machines. Especially if they're _strange_ and beautiful. Beautiful women - or men, if I happen to chance across them. This seems only fair to me. :-) Silly pictures and memes too, sometimes.

Musical stuff
I love posting examples of high talent, and I also love especially unusual or entertaining pieces. It'll be a science-themed version of Bohemian Rhapsody one day, the Muppets the next, and then Mongolian throat-singing the day after, if that's what I find. Familiar pieces on unfamiliar instruments; unfamiliar works by familiar artists. One Song to the Tune of Another.

Silliness and satire
Silly images; daft cartoons; serious articles on improbable subjects. Improbable articles on serious subjects, especially if the silliness hides a worthwhile serious point. I have many comedy heroes, from Monty Python and Spike Milligan to Bill Bailey and Tom Lehrer. Expect some overlap with the other categories.

Worthy stuff like women's rights and LGBT issues
This is rarer, but if I come across something that deserves resharing I will reshare it. I'm privileged in all sorts of ways, so if I can help by spreading the word about some abuse suffered by a minority I may pass it on.

Politics and philosophy
Not so much of this, but not necessarily none at all. Just because I post something, especially something objectionable, doesn't necessarily mean I agree with it. But remember: objectionable speech is the only kind of speech that needs protecting. If we overlook that, we cede victory to the tyrants before any 'debate' has even started.

Post frequency
Not quite one post per day, on average. Sometimes little flurries of a few posts on a single day. Image flurries usually have 50-60 posts, and happen every several weeks.

Where I post
Mostly in collections and as comments. I do make the occasional stray post of my own that I haven't decided how to categorise yet. I post system-specific RPG material in communities only - at present that's just Star Wars D6 content, which I post here:
Other RPGs, such as EarthDawn, Golden Heroes, RuneQuest, Feng Shui or whatever, if I started posting about them I'd join a suitable community first. General RPG stuff has mostly been in the GM tips or map-making communities I follow, but may also be cross-posted, because there might sometimes be overlaps with my writing and/or mathematical interests.

How to contact me
First, I don't do hangouts with anyone. Just don't like 'em. Text communication is by far my most preferred channel. On G+, probably the best way to contact me privately is to create a post shared just with me, and for public contact just +mention me in a post.

Blocking policy
I cheerfully block and flag people who appear to be spammers. I block racists, bigots, sexists and the barely-literate, and if your posts lead me back to your website, and your website fires popups at me, I'll block you and your entire domain. I also block the perpetrators of clickbait. Web site writers take note: web sites are ten thousand a penny. I don't have to visit the same site twice in my lifetime if I don't want to, so I have a merciless one-strike policy. One popup, one auto-playing video, one sliding pane, or any other piece of modern HTML gimmickry and you're banned forever more, and good riddance.

Deletion and locking policy
My general motivation for deleting, moving or locking content is housekeeping rather than censorship of any kind. If I delete a post it's usually within minutes of creation, often where I've made a setup mistake; then I'll redo the post properly. Long-standing posts may be removed if all the content vanishes and I can't recreate it - no point keeping a blank post. Posts which are in some way sensitive may have their viewership restricted as I deem appropriate. (Happens about once a year.) Junk and worthless comments may be silently deleted and their owners blocked. Comments or resharing may be turned off if an old thread starts to attract off-topic attention. Everything else is likely to stay even if it's embarrassing or contentious.
Bragging rights
I am pledged to use my evil somewhat for good!
Terrorist. (Reason here:
Technical writing, editing, proofreading, book layout and typesetting, ebooks, training and mentoring, computer system administration, HTML and CSS, hardware, software and network technical support.
  • Aurora Metro Publications
    2009 - present
  • The Open Emuversity
    Technical Author (contract), 2011
  • Lead
    Technical Author (contract), 2008
  • PowerGen Italia
    System Administrator, 1998 - 2004
  • Hair Fare
    Technical Writer (contract), 2006
  • Orbital Mind Control Lasers Inc.
    Field Testing, 2002
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