Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Other Game Company to add new card products

The other day I wrote The Other Game Company (TOGC) to tell them what I was up to and what I needed from them. Here is what I had to say:

Dear Other Game Company

I love your cards and I am currently using them to teach two game groups the d20 system.

To help them along I have a sheet of paper with a square for the right hand and a square for the left hand in which they can place your equipment cards. This allows the players to specify what they are using and change things around during combat.

On that same piece of paper are 3 more squares two Standard Action squares and a Free Action square. In one Standard Action square the spell casters can place your spell cards. I have some business cards I printed the names of the common actions “move, run, draw weapon, etc”which the players can place in there standard action boxes. The players can choose to place a full action card across both boxes.

What I would really like is a set of quality Action cards. Things like “Draw Weapon” which explains that this is a normal action unless you have the quick draw feat in which case it is a free action. Or “Concentrate on a Spell” which has all the concentration penalties listed based on the surrounding conditions. Things like that.

I down loaded the Healing Fireball Productions Combat Cards from RPGnow. They are useful as quick references but do not fill my needs.My goal is to speed up combat by simply allowing the players to lay down a set of cards representing thier actions. Less time explaining, less Munchkin (a big problem when I run my son’s game).

You are the guys who make great cards. I hope you will take up this challenge.

Dave Graham

Here is what they had to say in response to this request.

thanks for your ideas!

We're planning two new card products, and something like Action Cards is one of them. Newcomers have always been the main focus of our attention when it comes to cards - right now we're in the planning stage of how to pull a project like that off.

I can't give you an ETA right now, as TOGC has some major changes coming. We're about to relaunch or site, so watch that space.

FYI: the upcoming update for the Complete Item Cards will include a sheet for all equipment a character can carry. This will be similar to the sheet you're using, minus the places for action cards - but I'll think about incorporating something like that. So thanks again!

Stefan Pietraszak,

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Map of An Inconvenient Truth

I was notified by Ken Mankoff of that there is now a Google map that is related to the The Inconvenient Truth. This map apparently has both locations of presentations to educate people on climate change as well as items of interest that are being impacted by climate change.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Denver Post runs a peep show

Okay it is not what it sounds like. My friend Andrea Schweitzer sent me this one. And it was sooo cute (sickeningly cute some would say), I had to post it. Go see the entire show here at the Denver Post web site.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Giant Cat at Lee Martinez Park

Monday the 17th (Saint Patricks Day) was a snowy morning in Fort Collins. It was a paricularly wet sticky snow which we only see in spring. Great snow for snowmen. Pictured is Nichole (friend), Audrey (daughter) and Will (son) along with our creation. We sent the photo to the Coloradoan Newspaper and they posted it to their web site.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Big Dog Robot walks like a real pack horse

This completely blew my mind. It is clear that these people really studied and simulated the four footed pack animal. I watch this video and cannot believe that there is not a couple of very skinny people inside that machine. This technology will truly change the world.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Randy Pausch "Last Lecture" a must see for all

I have noticed that when I am home with the kids I don't get much "Work" done. Some how I don't do much writing on my book, I don't do dishes, laundry, or vacuuming in a timely manor. I don't like keeping up on quicken. It is even hard to do my telecommuting work for CoCreate. I often feel guilty for not getting enough done. I find myself doing things with the kids. Everything from sledding on a snow day to setting up games or art projects (and then doing the projects with them). I just like to play too much. So when I viewed this video I suddenly let go of the guilt and realized I was doing it right.

This is certainly a must see for everyone.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Great time to convert to d20 gaming

As many of us who play Dungeons and Dragons know the fourth edition will arrive in June of 2008. That said, it looks like the focus of 4 will be improved playability at higher levels and an effort to make game play more aligned with video gaming technology and expectations.

Now I am running two campaigns right now. Both of which were using version 1.0 to 2.0 rules depending on what you are doing plus a bunch of custom rules. My friend Dave Miller has been hounding me for the last three sessions asking for "a set of skill rules we can understand and use".

Well after doing a bunch of research, I determined that the skill problem was solved with the d20 system of Dungeons and Dragons v3.0. So I am converting all of my games to the d20 system. I have ordered used Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 Players Handbooks for all the players (only $5-$6 each + $4 shipping on Amazon). For myself I purchased used 3.0 Dungeon Masters Guide, Monster Manual, Monster Manual II, and Monster Manual III (3.5) all were between $11 and $13 each.

I had been avoiding 3.x because it was so different from the 20 years of knowledge I already have. There was also was an issue of investment. I have lots of 1.0 and 2.0 stuff. Who wants to throw down $30 a book to get the same game only repackaged. Now with 4.0 coming, 3.0 stuff is cheep and 3.5 will start dropping soon.

The other nice thing about waiting 8 years on d20 is that now there is a rich collection of 3rd party products for the Dungeons and Dragons 3.x d20 system. In fact it was getting hard to find things on the net that had not been "contaminated" with d20.

So, I have decided it is a great time to convert to d20 gaming. Unfortunately I will need to retrain all of my players. I am learning a lot, after all: "The best way to learn something is to teach it."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My Millennium Falcon Computer

Okay, I admit there have been days when I have felt like doing this to my computer. You must understand that at home I have the Millennium Falcon computer. It is an old clunker with a warp engine. Basically, a few months back I upgraded the processor to a 3.5 GHz Dual Core AMD processor with new motherboard and video card. I then restored all my old PCI cards and hard drives some of which go back to about 1998.

Lets just say that after fighting to get it to accept my Raid card and my raid drives, which it never did. After getting it to accept my DVD drive, my video capture card, Zip drive, SCSI card, scanner, I was left with a computer that was somewhat unstable. First it would only run for ~10 minutes at a time. This was because it would perform an auto shutdown after it got too hot.

After installing 3 fans and moving one of the raid drives to an external USB box and loosing some 20% of my data; after one of my raid drives was fried, which I blame on the new motherboard; after adjusting and re-adjusting the air flow, I am still left with a system that is less than stable.

Margaret refuses to use the computer. She just doesn't understand that when everything seems to freeze up all you need to do is to unplug the D drive (USB) and turn it off, then plug it in again and turn it back on. If you do this, all of a sudden the windows will start working again. She just doesn't get it that if you cannot find the DVD, all you need to do is go to the device manager and scan for new hardware on the raid controller (now used as just an IDE controller) and it will appear again. She does not understand that all you need to do is open the sliding glass window behind the computer (in Winter) before you rendering your movie file if you wish it to complete without the computer overheating (not sure what I will do this summer).

What can I say, it is the Millennium Falcon.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Green candidates and nuclear futures

The Grist has put together a nice comparison of the green position of each candidate. What I noticed from studying it is that there is not much different between Clinton and Obama. I found it interesting that Obama is open to thinking about nuclear energy. I think this reflects his personal style of being open minded to new ideas. I am not a strong supporter of nuclear energy myself, but I do believe there has been a lot of advancements in the field that are not reflected in the public's current understanding of the subject. Recently, the kids and I have been watching the Thunderbirds. In the future of the Thunderbirds, almost everything is nuclear powered. It is a clean energy that only has a few safety problems that can be easily solved by the Thunderbirds and International Rescue. :)

The Thunderbird villain stands next to a nuclear reactor of the "future".

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Dungeons and Dragons Designer Gary Gygax has passed away

In a great irony of my life. Tuesday evening is the time that I run a Dungeons and Dragons game for my son Will(9), and his friends Beau(9) and Bjorn (12). Last night they were currently finishing up module B2: The Keep on the Borderlands written by Gary Gygax (a module that was created with the 6th to 11th publication of the basic D&D set). We play by the rules of AD&D version 2, but I incorporate some of every version.

Before we started to play last night, in honor of the man who started it all, we read the introduction to the first addition of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons handbook. In it Gary Gygax recites his struggle to bring the game to the next level of play and the work he put forth to get it there.

My father purchased the basic game in 1978(?) we were living at the University of Rhode Island in graduate student housing. I remember him trying it with my sister once (she was the older one) and finding it difficult to manage.

I was introduced to the game in junior high. It was probably about 1982. As a nerd I was fascinated by the who fantasy role playing concept. There are two main impacts that Gary Gygax' works had on my life.

  • You see, I was not a reader. I could read, but I never chose to read. Dungeons and Dragons was a game that required reading and lots of it. But more importantly it introduced me to medieval fantasy concepts. At the age of 16 I suddenly started reading fantasy adventure novels. And from that point forward I consumed hundreds of books, fantasy and then science-fiction.

  • I was also not a jock. I never played sports well. I had a childhood of bad sports team experiences. Since I was not a jock I hand no regular exercise focus. That changed when my D&D friends introduced me to Dagorhir. All at once I had a focus for my physical fitness. I had desire to practice. I had desire to learn. I had desire to tune my body.

So thank you Gary Gygax for your contributions to this world. You help a young nerd find self confidence. I suspect I am not the only one.

The photograph was taken by and is copyright 2007 by the uploader, Alan De Smet. The photograph is multi-licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 and 3.0 licenses; you can select the license of your choice. Per the license, credit must be given to "Alan De Smet".

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Upcomming Green Builders of Norther Colorado Events

Dana Villeneuve of the Norther Branch of USGBC Colorado sent me the schedule of there upcomming events. Although I am not active with the Green Builders I keep an eye on what is going on (having done my entire Masters program stying building energy use). Here is what they have comming up:

March 4th Lunch-n-Learn: Building Design Simulation Tools
This seminar will be presented by Timothy Moore of Whole Systems Design. Timothy will discuss a broad range of building design simulation tools – from basic solar access and glazing selection to double-skin facades, UFAD, and natural ventilation. For more information on the presentation, please contact me at evuenelliv(a*)
This will be a brown bag lunch event. Please RSVP to evuenelliv(a*)
Where: New Belgium Brewing Company, 500 Linden Street, All-Staff Room
When: March 4th, 12:00 – 1:30pm
March 26th Lunch-n-Learn: Ice Energy
This seminar will be presented by Ram Narayanamurthy of Ice Energy. Ice Energy® is an energy technology company focused on energy storage and advanced cooling and refrigeration products and technologies. The company manufactures and markets a new Ice Storage Air Conditioner (ISAC) product line for residential and commercial applications that addresses the increasing demand for electricity.
This will be a brown bag lunch event. Please RSVP to evuenelliv(a*)
Where: Location TBD, Fort Collins
When: March 26th, 12:00 – 1:30pm

March 27th – June 12th: Green Building Certificate Program
The IBE has created a program focused on sustainable building tools and strategies, including LEED®, the nationwide rating system of the U.S. Green Building Council. The Green Building Certificate Program is an on-campus, accelerated evening program providing critical knowledge about emerging practices in commercial and residential building. This spring, the program will take place on Thursday evenings.
Please contact ibeinfo(a*) for more information.
Where: Colorado State University
When: Thursday evenings, March 27th – June 12th

April 16th Lunch-n-Learn: Solatube International
Candice Clark of Solatube® will be presenting the company's daylighting technologies at this Lunch-n-Learn event. Solatube International Inc. is the worldwide innovator and leading manufacturer of Tubular Daylighting Devices (TDDs).
This will be a brown bag lunch event. Please RSVP to evuenelliv(a*)
Where: Location TBD, Fort Collins
When: April 16th, 12:00 – 1:30pm

April 25th: Colorado Green School Summit
USGBC Colorado is teaming up with the DK Foundation to host this free, one-day seminar that highlights the economics and principles of building high-performance school buildings, state policy and programs for designing such schools and a series of case studies from school districts across Colorado.
For further information about the Summit, please contact Deb Kleinman at 303.454.3391 or deb(a*); or Matt Samelson at 720.932.1544 or msamelson(a*)
Where: The Denver Art Museum, downtown Denver
When: April 25th, all day

Monday, March 3, 2008

I appear in the ASES annual report.

My friend Dan Bihn was photographer at ASES 2006 conference and one of his photos that featured myself appears in the ASES annual report this year (on page 14). I am speaking with United Nations Foundation President Tim Wirth. I remember the conversation did not go well. I believe that I insulted him when I stated that I believed that the business community had more direct impact upon our cultural direction than any government entity. It was a faux pas that brought an abrupt end to our conversation. Such is life.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Heppelmann talks on Cheerleading Windchill. Who will cheerlead CoCreate?

CoCreate LogoPTC Logo

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Jim Heppelmann talks about his experience coming from a company that was acquired by PTC.

To make it work, Mr. Heppelmann had to become a cheerleader. "I needed the executive team at the acquiring company to feel like they just acquired the hottest thing ever," he says. He also met with Parametric's biggest customers to sell them on his product.

I do not see CoCreate executives jumping in to follow Heppelmann's lead. In fact, quite a number of them have decided jump ship instead. So who will be the cheerleader for CoCreate?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Ultimate Resource for Leaders Launches

The main reason that there were no posts in February is do to my working hard to get The Ultimate Resource for Leaders website ready to go. This is a web site for leaders by leaders. The site is still evolving and content generation is still a bit slow as we try to educate the 1300 members on how to use it to promote there leadership activities. Currently membership is closed. Once the website gets going with some content development, there will be a plan on how to start adding additional leaders.

Now that that is done (mostly), I will be spending more time on Extreme Standardization.