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2013-04-08 Hellebarden und Helme ist ziemlich lang geworden


Ich hatte schon mal von Hellebarden und Helme geschrieben. Das Dokument ist nun vollständig. Alle Zaubersprüche bis und mit der dritten Stufe sind drinnen. Ich wollte natürlich “Zirkel” sagen, um die leidige Diskussion um Charakterstufe und Spruchstufe zu vermeiden. Aber egal. Ich habe noch eine Weile mit Claudia diskutiert, ob es sich lohnt, die weibliche Form für die Regeln zu verwenden. Sie war dagegen und meinte, das würde ihr ja nicht helfen, gleich viel zu verdienen wie ein Mann. War wohl nichts mit den tief hängenden Früchten. Für mein eigenes Wohlbefinden habe ich mich entschieden, über weite Teile “du” zu verwenden. Das tönt dann ähnlich informell wie dieser Blog. Was hältst du davon? :)

Mit über zwanzig Seiten ist das Dokument doch überraschend lang geworden. Schade, eigentlich!

Auf Seite 19 hat es unten viel leeren Platz. Ich weiss nicht so recht, was ich da machen soll. Ich hätte gerne ein paar gute, freie Bilder von Hellebarden! Leider gibt es im Handbuch der Waffenkunde: Das Waffenwesen in seiner historischen Entwicklung vom Beginn des Mittelalters bis zum Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts von Wendelin Boeheim (1890) nicht so viele gute Hellebardenbilder wie Helme. Kennst du eine Quelle von guten Hellebardenbildern?

Ansonsten bleiben mir noch die selber gemalten Bilder, welche am Rande etwas mit Zauberei zu tun haben… Vom Stil her passen sie leider überhaupt nicht zu den Helmen.

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3261/3198902637_b172003c71_m.jpg https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3469/3275717737_e9131816f5_m.jpg https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3411/3279480659_716c6db0e9_m.jpg https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3529/3923437634_7d9636786b_m.jpg https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2605/3922651157_cf2a315b7a_m.jpg https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4139/4900445467_c34b4d0ac7_m.jpg https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4099/4970804690_90559b970d_m.jpg https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5014/5641851376_e47b1f3a6f_m.jpg https://farm7.staticflickr.com/6040/6348317241_94ac33dcfc_m.jpg

Meine Aufgabe für die nächsten Tage: Korrekturlesen und Leerräume in der Randspalte finden, wo ich noch den einen oder anderen Helm aus dem Handbuch der Waffenkunde unterbringen kann. :)

Oder Illustrationen aus den alten Fechtbüchern?



Comments on 2013-04-08 Hellebarden und Helme ist ziemlich lang geworden

Very nice. I don’t think length is a problem as long as it is due to tables (e.g., equipment) and spell lists.

– Stefan 2013-04-10 17:04 UTC

Danke. :)

AlexSchroeder 2013-04-11 14:00 UTC

Wenn du die Treffertabellen durch “Würfel über ‘20 + Rüstungsklasse’ um zu treffen. Dabei erhältst du einen Bonus für deine Stufe sowie deine Klasse” und “Kämpfer: +1 (Stufen 1-2), +2 (Stufe 3), +3 (Stufe 4) und +4 (Stufe 5)” (oder so ähnlich) ersetzt, kannst du noch etwas Platz frei machen :-)

– Stefan 2013-04-12 06:12 UTC

Das ist wahr. Wenn ich allerdings so weit gehen würde, dann würde ich besser Rüstungsschutz (aufsteigend) statt Rüstungsklasse (absteigend) verwerfen. Irgendwie gehören die Treffertabellen dazu. :D

Leider habe ich soeben gemerkt, dass der Default 8.5” × 11” ist und nicht A4. Wenn ich auf A4 umstelle, habe ich am Ende jeder Seite wieder jede Menge leeren Platz. Argh. Ich hätte nie gedacht, dass Layout so eine fummelige Angelegenheit ist!

Nun ja, im Moment sieht es so aus, wie wenn ich das ganze um eine Seite habe kürzen können.

AlexSchroeder 2013-04-12

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2013-04-12 More Old School Red Hand of Doom

I started to run Red Hand of Doom using old school D&D rules last month because I had fond memories of the adventure. If you’re reading along as Zak S. bashes the module on his blog you will know of all the weaknesses this module has. It’s true! It’s verbose. There is a lot of useless info. There are “interesting” fights with waves of mixed enemies, but these waves are also staged, fixed, a railroad you need to adapt. So here’s what I’m trying to do:

  1. run fights with mixed enemies since that is not something I usually do
  2. use names, maps, places and pictures to show my players
  3. follow the general flow of the adventure
  4. try and avoid railroading the players

So, last session I noted that the hobgoblins should have added nearly 6000 gold pieces to the treasure of Vraath keep. Well, as I ran the module today, I forgot all about it. It didn’t matter much. :)

One player decided to abandon her elf character and pulled a fighter named Sirius from the stack of old characters. It turns out he’s third level where as the others all hover around fifth level (20k XP is what we started the adventure with).

The party lures the manticore away from Vraath keep using phantasmal force to imitate the sorcerer and bribes it using jewelry worth 800 gold. I decide that it works and the manticore goes to fight the hobgoblins. I let the kids roll dice for manticore and minotaur and the manticore won, with 7 hit-points left. The real sorceror then showed up and cast lightning bolt to kill the manticore. The party realizes how powerful the bugbear sorceror is and attack him using hold person (he saves), a poisoned needle (he saves), and a melee attack which finally kills him before he can cast another lightning bolt. Yay!

They find all the treasure as written.

  • the two elixirs of truth remain unidentified
  • the scroll of mount remains unread (none of the elves knows read magic)
  • the gauntlets of ogre power are as described in the Labyrinth Lord rules (Str 18)
  • the sword +1 turned into Frostbrand (+3, +6 vs. fire creatures, extinguishes non-magical fire within 10 ft. when drawn, glows white like the winter sun, drips fog like liquid nitrogen, causes snow to form when moved through the air)
  • the chain mail +1 turned into elven mail (speed, sneaking, swimming as leather armor)
  • a spiked forest giant gauntlet was used to decorate the inn and grants free rumors for the rest of the adventure
  • the wand of magic missiles remains unidentified (I had decided on a whim that it had some runes and required read magic or read languages to discover the command word)
  • the staff of life with seven charges uses the rules as written in the module (I had decided on a whim that the cleric would be able to identify the staff once he handled it, it also features “angles touching people” and one of the players quickly guessed that it would involve healing)

At the beginning of the session I mentioned rumors of a hydra along the main road (which they had avoided the last session). As their thoughts turned towards home and splitting up treasure, I said that they weren’t home yet. Which way did they want to take? Along the main road, of course.

“You see a six-headed hydra raising her head as you march across the wooden walk way.”
“I’m not there.”
“I’m in the back.”
“I’m not there.”
“I’m not there either.”
“Uh, the hydra raises here head as at least one of you is there. So, any volunteers? Who’s first?”
“I am.”
“Anybody with him?”
“I’m there as well.”
“I shoot the hydra with my crossbow!”

In the end, the new fighter loses a leg due to the Death and Dismemberment table! As he survives, I tell them that if having a wooden leg is worthy of a pirate, then you can still fight with a wooden leg. Everybody nods.

Each character gains 476 XP due to the defeat of monsters and 940 XP due to treasure, plus a lot of magic loot.


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2013-04-12 The 1PDC Process

1PDC On the mailing list for the One Page Dungeon Contest 2013, one of the judges asked me to go through the process again. I’ve used my reply to write this blog post.

The first thing to remember is that people can revise their submission until the very end. That’s why I personally don’t read them until the end of April.

The output of the process is a list of nominations from each of the judges. They can nominate as many or as few as they like. In the past, judges have nominated somewhere between 10 and 20 entries. Every judge determines their own criteria. There is no agreed upon checklist.

My own list of criteria will look very similar to what I wrote on 2010-02-05 Quality Dungeons. I find that having the checklist helps me score the dungeons.

I will compile all the nominations into a big spreadsheet and produce a list of winners. I’ll try to have at least three nominations from every judge on the list (ie. we are six judges and thus I expect there to be around 18 winners). I’ll also try to invent a category for each of the winners. It would be very cool if your list of nominations contained a suggested category. That is optional, however.

Last year, I wrote about the entries I nominated and the made-up categories I nominated them for, if you’d like to see an example of how I personally went about this.

Sometimes judges will then comment on the final list and propose to add a particular entry because of some very specific qualities they want to highlight and thus we might end up more winners.

Once we have announced the winners, they are invited to send me three picks from the prize list. Again, the data goes into a spreadsheet and I try to figure out a way to give every winner at least one thing that they are wishing for. Against all intuition, this seems to have worked so far! When in doubt, I’ll go back to the big spreadsheet with all the nominations on it and give precedence to those winners that received the most nominations.

This last element of the process is not entirely transparent. I wrote a blog post trying to defend the lack of transparency two years ago. I hope that it’s not a big problem. ;)


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2013-04-13 Garamond

I like the Garamond font. This website uses it. Here’s how:

@font-face {
      font-family: 'Garamond';
      font-style: normal;
      font-weight: 400;
      src: local('Garamond'), local('GaramondNo8'), local('EB Garamond'), local('EBGaramond'), url(https://themes.googleusercontent.com/static/fonts/ebgaramond/v4/kYZt1bJ8UsGAPRGnkXPeFdIh4imgI8P11RFo6YPCPC0.woff) format('woff');

body, rss {
    font-family: Garamond, serif;
    font-size: 16pt;
    line-height: 20pt;
    margin:1em 3em;

As you can see, if you have a font called Garamond, Garamond No. 8 or EB Garamond installed, then the web page will use it. Garamond No. 8 is what I use on my GNU/Linux system. If you don’t have any of them, it will download the EB Garamond files from Google Web Fonts.

I hope it works. Thoughts?

Tags: RSS

Comments on 2013-04-13 Garamond

At first, this is what I had installed:

@font-face {
    font-family: 'EB Garamond';
    src: url('http://campaignwiki.org/EBGaramond12-Regular.otf'); /* For IE */
    src: local('EB Garamond'),
    url('http://campaignwiki.org/EBGaramond12-Regular.ttf') format('truetype');

body, rss {
    font-family: Garamond, GaramondNo8, "EB Garamond", serif;
    font-size: 16pt;
    line-height: 20pt;
    margin:1em 3em;

My original reaction: Ugh, now that I’m back in the office and sitting at a Windows machine using Firefox, I notice a delay between page load and text display. In fact, monospaced text uses a different font and is displayed immediately. Ordinary text using Garamond gets shown with a delay of a few moments. I just checked and it seems that I have Garamond installed. Why the delay?

AlexSchroeder 2013-04-15 06:46 UTC

Well, I looked at mod_expire and added the following to my .htaccess file:

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresDefault "access plus 1 hours"
ExpiresByType application/x-font-ttf "access plus 1 years"
ExpiresByType application/vnd.ms-fontobject "access plus 1 years"

FileETag none

AddType application/vnd.ms-fontobject .eot
AddType application/x-font-ttf        .ttf

To no avail! :(

Looking back, I see what went wrong: the font is being loaded from a different domain. I was updating the wrong file.

Then I remembered that Google also hosts EB Garamond. They provide a link to a CSS fragment which contains the @font-face instruction. I added the following to my CSS file:

@font-face {
      font-family: 'EB Garamond';
      font-style: normal;
      font-weight: 400;
      src: local('EB Garamond'), local('EBGaramond'), url(https://themes.googleusercontent.com/static/fonts/ebgaramond/v4/kYZt1bJ8UsGAPRGnkXPeFdIh4imgI8P11RFo6YPCPC0.woff) format('woff');

body, rss {
    font-family: Garamond, GaramondNo8, "EB Garamond", serif;
    font-size: 16pt;
    line-height: 20pt;
    margin:1em 3em;

I looked at the page headers being sent back and forth using the Firefox Live Headers extension and saw that the font is requested (even though I think the browser will be using the local font instead) – but at least the server now replies with a 304 Not Modified status.

Time passes…

Finally I understand what’s wrong! I need to list the alternative local names within the @font-face declaration! With the following setup, I can see that no remote font is loaded.

@font-face {
      font-family: 'Garamond';
      font-style: normal;
      font-weight: 400;
      src: local('Garamond'), local('GaramondNo8'), local('EB Garamond'), local('EBGaramond'), url(https://themes.googleusercontent.com/static/fonts/ebgaramond/v4/kYZt1bJ8UsGAPRGnkXPeFdIh4imgI8P11RFo6YPCPC0.woff) format('woff');

body, rss {
    font-family: Garamond, serif;
    font-size: 16pt;
    line-height: 20pt;
    margin:1em 3em;

AlexSchroeder 2013-04-15

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2013-04-17 One Page Dungeon Contest

One Page Dungeon Contest 2013 A quick reminder that all of April is One Page Dungeon Contest 2013 submission writing month… :)

I hope you’re all busy writing stuff up because I’m as nervous as I am every year when I have more prizes to award than submissions received.

The list of things the generous sponsors are awarding this year:

Thank you very much! ok


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2013-04-17 One Save Is Enough For Monsters

I like weird saving throws. In my house rules, one is called “dragon breath, explosions” and another is called “rays, wands”—a bit of implied setting for my players.

For monsters, on the other hand, I like to have just a single save. I use the Swords & Wizardry method: 19 - HD, plus or minus 2 for magic susceptibility or resistance, rarely a minus 4 for even more resistance.



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2013-04-17 Swords & Wizardry

Swords & Wizardry Creative Guild In 2006, Greywulf was a user of Oddmuse, a piece of software I was maintaining. It’s still used to run this blog/wiki. Greywulf kept talking about D&D and eventually I started reading EN World. There, I discovered Greywulf had a huge thread going. He proposed a minimal variant to D&D 3.5 and called it M20 (original files). I loved it and ended up starting a campaign using it. (It later converted to D&D 3.5.)

In 2008, I came across M74 and discovered the “old school renaissance”. I learned about OD&D and its use of a d6 for hit-dice and weapon damage. I was intrigued and wrote M20 Hard Core. I also wrote a little random character creator for my rules variant.

Some blog posts from back then:

(You can get the source files from the Swords & Wizardry download page.)

I was very impressed by Ruins & Ronin. If you check out the Sword+1 blog, you’ll find lots of R&R character classes for download in the sidebar. It really was an eye opener for me. Anything can be turned into a class! This is Do It Yourself D&D!

These days, I still play Labyrinth Lord. It was my first retro-clone. It didn’t have weird elves. I ended up liking race-as-class. As you can see from the list above, however, OD&D and Swords & Wizardry have been an important part of the journey. And I absolutely loved the Peter Mullen covers!

Today is Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Blogfest! Follow the link and find a list of more than 100 other blogs writing about S&W.


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2013-04-18 Old School RPG Planet Updates

With Tenkar’s Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day came a plethora of blogs I had never heard of. I’ve been adding new blogs furiously to the Old School RPG Planet. (A planet is a feed aggregator—it shows an extract of all the various blogs I added, like a public blog roll. This particular planet is controlled by a wiki page, so anybody can submit new blogs.)

If you’re looking for new blogs to add, take a look. Perhaps you’ll find a new blog you like? I know that some people from the “early days” said that they felt the Old School Renaissance was shrinking. My thinking at the time was that this is now what’s happening. What is happening is that some people drop out, stop blogging. If you don’t add the newcomers, those who start blogging, your impression will necessarily be that the OSR is shrinking. Not so! Look at the number of blogs that participated.

If you already follow the Old School RPG Planet, please let me know if I added some blogs by mistake. I think I checked each and every new feed I added. If a feed seemed mostly about video games, or anime, or miniatures, I didn’t add it. Most of the blogs that were listed on the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day post seemed to be very appropriate! Still, one never knows.

Let me know if you spot anything else that’s fishy. :)

And I'm only half way through! Phew!


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2013-04-19 Hellebarden und Helme praktisch fertig

Hellebarden & Helme!! ist mein Hausregelndokument für meine Labyrinth Lord Runde und dient als Spielerhandbuch bis zur 5. Stufe. Die aktuelle Version hat – auf Wunsch von Claudia – nun auch wieder Diebe drinnen und sie hat auch einen einseitigen, dreispaltigen Index. Keine Ahnung, ob das wirklich nötig war für ca. 20 Regeln.


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2013-04-21 Raspberry Pi


I got a Raspberry Pi from my employer. Nice! Installed Raspbian. Used HDMI to connect to the TV. That worked.

Note: I have a 2Gb and a 4Gb card and I want to give PiMAME a try (play arcade games using MAME), so I will need the 4Gb card for PiMAME. At the same time, I want to use Raspbian to play videos. That goes on the 2Gb card.

Connected Apple keyboard and mouse via USB. That caused repeating keys and all that. I read that the problem is a lack of power on the USB port. I could buy a USB hub as suggested.

One cable to rule them all. The cable modem is too far from the TV. Even if I did that, it would take my wireless network down. On my Mac Mini, I enabled sharing of my wireless connection with the ethernet (System Preferences → Sharing → Internet Sharing) and connected the Raspberry Pi to my Mac using an ordinary ethernet cable I had lying around. I was able to connect using ssh pi@ You might have to guess the last digit?

Via ssh, I run sudo raspi-config and set it up: expand_rootfs, configure_keyboard, change_locale (choose de_CH.UTF8, pick en_GB.UTF8 as the default), set_timezone (Europe / Zurich), memory_split (64)… Maybe the memory split is already the default? I might have to switch on overclocking in the future in order to play games.

Following suggestions online, I wanted to get my Apple bluetooth keyboard working. First, I updated and upgraded my packages before doing anything: sudo apt-get update, sudo apt-get upgrade and sudo apt-get autoremove.

Note: Do all this while connected to the Raspberry Pi via ssh. You keyboard needs to be paired and all that before it will work stand-alone.

Next, bluetooth: sudo apt-get install bluetooth bluez-utils blueman. This installs a lot of stuff I probably won’t need. Oh well, I spent some time trying to sort through it and figured it wasn’t worth it. If you’re installing on a 2Gi card, you’re going to be running out of space real soon now:

pi@raspberrypi ~ $ df 
Filesystem     1K-blocks    Used Available Use% Mounted on
rootfs           1838936 1751248         0 100% /

Try sudo apt-get clean to make some space:

pi@raspberrypi ~ $ df 
Filesystem     1K-blocks    Used Available Use% Mounted on
rootfs           1838936 1567016    178880  90% /

In the end, this is how it should work:

pi@raspberrypi ~ $ lsusb
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 0424:9512 Standard Microsystems Corp. 
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 0424:ec00 Standard Microsystems Corp. 
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 0a5c:200a Broadcom Corp. BCM2035 Bluetooth dongle

I guess the Bluetooth dongle has been recognized!

pi@raspberrypi ~ $ hcitool scan
Scanning ...
	E8:06:88:38:C6:2F	Apple Wireless Keyboard
	00:02:72:D4:E9:EA	DOC-PC

This was a bit more complicated:

pi@raspberrypi ~ $ sudo bluez-simple-agent hci0 E8:06:88:38:C6:2F
RequestPinCode (/org/bluez/5802/hci0/dev_E8_06_88_38_C6_2F)
Enter PIN Code: 0000
New device (/org/bluez/5802/hci0/dev_E8_06_88_38_C6_2F)

Type 0000 RET on the Mac. Type 0000 RET on the keyboard. Not sure whether the “sudo” was required or not.

On we go:

pi@raspberrypi ~ $ sudo bluez-test-device trusted E8:06:88:38:C6:2F yes

Make sure the keyboard is “on” when you run the next step:

pi@raspberrypi ~ $ sudo bluez-test-input connect E8:06:88:38:C6:2F

Ok, time to give it a try… Remember that you’re probably using a British keyboard layout. The y key might be where your z is. This is important because the default password is raspberry ← note the y. Switch your keyboard layout: sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration has no effect? Try sudo vi /etc/defaults/keyboard:


Unfortunately the option key still doesn’t work for simple things like []|{}. Sucks to be me!

For my Sony Bravia, I had to use the following in sudo vi /boot/config.txt:


Don’t ask me why overscan is both disabled and its various parameters are set.

Copied various videos on to a USB Stick. Create a mountpoint using sudo mkdir /mnt/BIG_STICK and mount the drive using sudo mount -o uid=pi,gid=pi /dev/sda1 /mnt/BIG_STICK.

Play it using omxplayer /mnt/BIG_STICK/some_file.mp4 → it worked! 😊 ok

In order to avoid typing this every time, use ls -laF /dev/disk/by-uuid and note the uuid of the mounted stick. Then sudo vi /etc/fstab and start typing:

UUID=8805-CE39 /media/Cruzer8Gb vfat auto,users,rw,flush,utf8=1,uid=pi,gid=pi,dmask=002,fmask=113 0 0

But there was no sound! Well, there’s sound on the headphones out of the Raspberry Pi but no sound on the TV. I tried both HDMI inputs. I uncommented hdmi_drive=2 in the /boot/config.txt file. To no avail. When I tried aplay /usr/share/sounds/alsa/Front_Center.wav, however, it worked. Something about the .avi file, or about omxplayer isn’t working. Checking omxplayer --help I found the solution: omxplayer -o hdmi /media/Cruzer8Gb/some_file.mp4 → it worked! 😊 ok

A day later…

I wanted to sudo apt-get install libnss-mdns and install bonjour so that I can connect to it via raspberry.local instead of sudo apt-get install libnss-mdns—but apparently it’s already installed!

alex@Pyrobombus ~$ ssh pi@raspberrypi.local
The authenticity of host 'raspberrypi.local (' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is 4e:e2:82:e5:e9:e5:5f:a9:b6:ac:53:f0:e2:3b:ac:c1.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added 'raspberrypi.local' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.
pi@raspberrypi.local's password: 
Linux raspberrypi 3.6.11+ #371 PREEMPT Thu Feb 7 16:31:35 GMT 2013 armv6l

The programs included with the Debian GNU/Linux system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Debian GNU/Linux comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent
permitted by applicable law.
Last login: Mon Apr 22 10:56:12 2013 from pyrobombus.local
pi@raspberrypi ~ $ 


If you’re not using a Mac, you’ll need to install bonjour on your host system as well, I think.

Next I wanted to play a game using my Xbox USB controller (not necessarily the wireless variant). sudo apt-get install xboxdrv. Simply running sudo xboxdrv gave me gave me a lot of output. The driver must be working. ok The driver has a man page.

Tags: RSS

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2013-04-22 PiMAME


Install PiMAME on a 4Gb card. Setup bluetooth keyboard like 2013-04-21 Raspberry Pi.

  1. sudo apt-get update
  2. sudo apt-get install bluetooth bluez-utils blueman xboxdrv
  3. sudo apt-get upgrade
  4. sudo apt-get autoremove
  5. sudo apt-get clean
  6. hcitool scan → gets you the magic number
  7. sudo bluez-simple-agent hci0 E8:06:88:38:C6:2F
    1. 0000 + Return in the ssh term
    2. 0000 + Return on the Bluetooth keyboard we’re pairing
  8. sudo bluez-test-device trusted E8:06:88:38:C6:2F yes
  9. sudo bluez-test-input connect E8:06:88:38:C6:2F
  10. sudo vi /etc/defaults/keyboard:
    1. XKBMODEL=“apple” → Apple keyboard
    2. XKBLAYOUT=“ch” → Swiss German layout
  11. sudo vi /boot/config.txt → my Sony Bravia
    1. disable_overscan=1
    2. overscan_left=53
    3. overscan_right=50
    4. overscan_top=28
    5. overscan_bottom=22

Quit the menu using option 9 and run the the following command instead:

sudo xboxdrv -s -- sudo -u pi python /home/pi/pimame_files/menu.py

  1. run MAME using option 1
  2. pick a ROM from the list and hit Return (at first you should have just one ROM)
  3. player 1 insert coin using the key ‘6’
  4. player 1 start the game using the key ‘1’

This “works” but I have severe calibration issues. Poor Gridlee ends up in the top left corner and has a hard time moving anywhere at all. Ugh!

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2013-04-24 Cosmology of Love and Strive

 Maximilián Pirner, Empedokles As I was listening to the episode on Empedocles on the History of Philosophy “without any gaps” podcast, my thoughts turned to cosmology and D&D. Basically, there is a big cycle between the rule of Love, where all the elements mingle and everything is a single perfect sphere, and Strife, where all the elements separate, fire over here, water over there, and so on.

Implementing this in fantasy role-playing games we need to change some of the Great Wheel cosmology of Planescape. The inner planes are now the outer planes: The four elements are the chaotic forces pulling us in different directions. All elemental creatures must be very chaotic and enemies of life. At the center, where all elements meet, there is but a humongous sphere of gray goo. I guess all the slimes, puddings and oozes must be creatures of law Love. They bring all the elements together and none better than the gray ooze. Given all that, the world we know must necessarily be between the elements and the spherical goo, ie. on the spherical surface.

What about dungeons? What about the “mythic underworld”? I think we have various options:

  1. The concept of Love that pulls the elements together is just as inimical to life as Strife: the civilizations that have gone before us have all been pulled underground, closer and closer to each other, until war and attrition destroyed them all; perhaps a few gaunt dessicated members of the old Atlanteans still live down there in the deepest depths, close to the gray goo, guarding their nuclear weapons and their nanotech weapons.
  2. The concept of Love offers some form of transcendence over the material world; it attracts good and evil alike; it tests us, breeds us, selects the finest amongst us, and like zygotes we penetrate the deepest secrets to eventually reverse the great cycle, to break the stalemate.

In either case, monsters are drawn down to the center of things just as we are. The traps can be set by our competitors down there, or by the gray goo defending itself against unworthy plunderers.

I think we need one final idea to make it all work: How to explain the heavens and the moon and the stars if “up above” we expect to see the four elements?

  1. Our known world exists where earth and air have started separating; the oceans is where the water is. If you sail far enough, there will be no more land and eventually, no more air. You’ve reached the plane of Water. If you climb the highest mountains, eventually you will realize that you have reached the wall of walls. Air ends and the plane of Earth begins. Up where the sun is, fire reigns. It has already left most of the known world. Whenever we light a fire, the flames leap up, up towards the sky, towards the sun, towards the great fire in the sky that burns far beyond the sky.
  2. Alternatively, the known world is just like present day earth. The air protects us from space. Space is in effect the Void separating the four elements under the dominion of Strife and the gray goo under the dominion of Love (and its tiny crust of weirdness that is life).

Food for thought, in any case.

I like how the podcast provides two interesting links:

The second link uses “font-family:comic sans ms, verdana, arial, sans-serif”. Comic Sans. You have been warned. 😊

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2013-04-26 Emacs Wiki Redesign

I finally installed the new theme for Emacs Wiki. Feel free to leave comments on the Talk page. Bootstrap allows me to make all the changes at run-time, ie. add a few scripts including a script that changes the wiki’s HTML (emacs-bootstrap.js) and a new CSS file (bootstrap.css).

Since no changes to the script are necessary I can continue to provide the old theme for those that don’t feel like switching.

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Comments on 2013-04-26 Emacs Wiki Redesign

Yay for bootstrap! It really makes the life easier if you want your web application to look consistently.

Radomir Dopieralski 2013-04-26 15:22 UTC

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2013-04-30 The Fall

Recently reports have started resurfacing… (I’ve been following Jürgen Hubert on Google+.)

At one point I left the following comment:

The fall of the US from a spiritual leader of freedom and democracy when I was young – in the seventies and eighties I knew nothing of Vietnam and I grew up with American pop music – to a war mongering nation, to a nation that systematically tortures prisoners, a nation that refuses due process to prisoners, to a nation that imprisons so many of their own population, to a nation that uses cruel and unusual punishment in the form of Three Strikes and its variations – there are no words for this moral catastrophe. No words.

I’m still torn: was my decision do abandon my ranting online and turn into a gamer (HomoLudens) the right thing to do? After all, if we all retreat into our little shells, if we all tend to our little gardens, then nothing ever changes, right?

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Comments on 2013-04-30 The Fall

Sorry for being blunt, but the question is: will your ranting and agitation help much more than your shutting in your shell? For me it’s a simple question of what is the next thing I can do that will have the best impact (with additional bonus if only I can do that) – and that is usually doing something for the local community (well, “local” includes also online communities with similar interests), whether it’s gaming, organizing a meetup of some kind or open source coding. Sure, there are people who have it much worse, but I can much better improve the lives of the people around me.

Radomir Dopieralski 2013-04-30 16:47 UTC

No need to apologize. Sometimes a little application of blunt is required.

AlexSchroeder 2013-05-01 00:54 UTC

Yes. (I like to study about communication strategies).

JuanmaMP 2013-05-01 12:45 UTC

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2013-04 Book Club

What: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

When: 24 April, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)

It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not…Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which - remarkably - he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century. Already a huge bestseller across Europe, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a fun, feel-good book for all ages. Translated by Rod Bradbury.

First suggested: Sep 2012

Supporters: Louisa, Richie, Karina, Dominique, Nicole, Rene

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