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Robert Tharp
It's the journey, not the destination, that enlightens.
It's the journey, not the destination, that enlightens.

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CVS Pharmacy - when you want your orders screwed up! They just f'd up my prescription after dental surgery, because it was handwritten and 'might' have been altered. And they refuse to fill the antibiotic because 'policy'. Fan-damn-tastic. I have a policy as well, I can take my future business elsewhere.
When I have to worry if a provider will screw up on part of my health care delivery they're no longer a 'trusted provider', they're incompetent monopolists. This is the real risk of consolidation in the market. When you're huge you don't have to provide good service.

Gee, Google, the two factor authentication is fun, but perhaps you might want to re-think the process? Having an alternative mode toggle would be a GREAT IDEA when you try and use 'find my phone' from the desktop. The current logic of trying to log me out of my google account and not showing the location until I put in the fresh authentication key YOU SENT TO THE LOST PHONE is pretty dumb...

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Hmm, dynamic rating system for tabletop games. Arduin is down at 192 in the list... time to show some love ;-)

Found a new feature on Mac OS El Capitan (10.11.5) tonight - on reboot the new permissions management system can glitch and make CD's and external drive volumes unreadable or 'play music only'. The Disk Utility is approaching uselessness as it can't rebuild volume permissions, etc.on demand. Why would you, the system is perfect/Perfect/pErfect... So load up on a maintenance tool like ONYX that still allows permissions rebuild at command. Fixed the issue this time, we'll see what future improvements break.

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Boosting signal

Chris Newman had a handmade costume stolen in San Jose, California. Please, if you see any sign or hear anything, please let him know!

It's an awesome Anubis Stargate replica.

Chris on Facebook:


Don't Forget Dept. - The NPS owns a big share of the issue for the crappy contract they wrote to transfer from Curry Company to Delaware North. There was a ton of political shenanigans to force Curry Co to give up the contract because 'Murica and we shouldn't let foreign-owned companies continue running a National park BS. So instead we have American corporate BS.

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Gee, you thought the FBI was telling the truth about 'it's just this once' for a backdoor request? Looks like it's just the tip of the iceberg.

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Black Sabbath 'The End' @ San Jose - great show! 

For a change of subject, how many other GM's are running games with remote players? Not remote as in play by mail or asynchronous online turns, what I'm interested in discussing is a mixed group with some of the players outside the room.

I'll start off sharing what I've researched / used / experimented with so far. The online environments like Roll20 look to be useful for the remote players but it means everyone at the table also needs a laptop or tablet. I've discounted that method for two reasons. First, I think it detracts from focus as players start opening other windows or apps and don't 'cross-talk' as much in character - they're distracted. Second, with a complex world and binders of background I'm not interested in re-creating it all in a tool where I may have to buy components and storage to make stuff work correctly. I may build a couple of test dungeons for when 'line of sight' is a critical element, but most city and large scale adventures are way too much work to digitize. If I were starting from scratch it might be different :-)

At the moment I have 2 to 4 players remote and 6 local. We're using Google Hangouts and Google Drive for support materials. Camera and teleconference input in the room is a Logitech BCC950 (HD camera and teleconference grade microphone/speaker, about $200). I have my laptop in the conference with mic / speakers muted and chat window open, while one of the players 'drives' the Logitech from another laptop and monitors the chat window for me. That way if remote players want to send a note or get a word in edgewise the monitor can help them be heard. So far the Logitech audio quality is good, but we're going to mount it to a microphone stand with a weighted base to reduce camera twitch whenever someone bumps the table.

I pre-scan location sketches, monster sketches, maps, and treasure lists to a non-shared folder before the game. Then create a folder in the shared space with the gameday date in it's name. Players can check the specific game folder for pre-game info (copies of letters, telegrams, etc. or as I announce I've moved maps and new info into the share. Sounds complex, actually works pretty well).

We'll be adding a second focusable HD 'down' camera that's pointed at the table center for ad-hoc miniatures use or older large maps. Google Hangouts is fairly easy to switch camera input, but the non-focusable low res camera was too indistinct.

Things we've learned - group politeness and remembering the remote players need to talk too. With good audio, poor video can be tolerated. Bad audio makes the game too frustrating for the remote players, and slows down the game for recaps of what happened in the room.

Waiting for - code in either Hangouts or another free conference tool that supports camera movement from the remote end. The BCC950 has the capability, but there's a lack of easy to use code.

Hope this helps if anyone is considering remote players. I'd also love to hear any low-cost or creative solutions we may have missed, we're evolving our set-up as we go on.

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+Andy Action - as requested, here's a flat version of the binder.
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