The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Nuvi 360 Linux tips and tricks

| December 25, 2007

I found this page which was really handy in telling one where to put things.

This page has some useful POI stuff.

IMPORTANT: It doesn’t seem to like an eject, do an: umount /media/gps then just disconnect it. Do not do an eject. It seems to corrupt the file system. Note: My stuff is mounted in /media/gps. Yours may be different. Modify appropriately.
  1. The included JPEGs are 1024×768. However, it scales everything nicely to the right size (at least, 1600×1200 works just fine). These go in /media/gps/jpeg.
  2. Thee are more vehicles at: http://www.garmin.com/vehicles/
  3. Waypoints: – waypoints are in gpx format, and get stuck in: /media/gps/Garmin/Waypoints/ – then the nuvi reboots, it will blow the file over into your favorites.
  4. conversion from geocaching to garmin: gpsbabel -i geo -o gpx geocaching.loc geocaching.gpx
  5. backup current waypoints – copy to somewhere: /media/gps/Garmin/gpx/current.gpx
  6. To get stuff out of google maps, follow instructions here and bookmark the thing it tells you to, then look up something in google, click the bookmark you created, then save the output to a GPX file. Of course, these GPX files don’t always work as nicely as one would like, or at all, so let gpsbabel convert them from GPX to GPX: gpsbabel -i gpx -o gpx foo.gpx foo_out.gpx it will also show you icky errors, which was likely the problem
  7. The POI format stuff is .gpi, and goes in /media/gps/Garmin/poi/

I love my geek wife.

| December 24, 2007

Garmin nuvi 360

Completely badass.

  • 2GB internal storage (comes loaded with about 1.5GB of stuff, mostly the map data and such)
  • Comes with maps for all of USA and Canada.
  • Reads you turn by turn directions, including street names.
  • The antenna is really well designed. My handheld unit would barely get a signal on the dash of the car, this one gets a full signal sitting on the passenger seat next to me.
  • SD card slot (not sure what this is used for, need to RTFM)
  • Bluetooth integration (so it can be speakers and microphone for my cellphone – if my cellphone had Bluetooth.)
  • Works in Linux – it is a USB mass storage device. Mount it, put crap on it. System software upgrade worked under Wine – no issues. I believe I can also set up way points and put them on the GPS via something like GPSBabel
  • Lots of different icons to represent your car. (Suggest what I should use! Right now, we're using the rocket sled.
  • Integration with traffic radio stations w/ optional kit.

Other nifty stuff that I'll never use:

  • MP3 player (I have one)
  • Audible book player (I have piles of stuff to listen to already)

Downside:

  • Not waterproof/water resistant. This is okay – I have an “offroad” GPS which I use for geocaching which is waterproof to 1 meter and runs for like 12 hours on one set of AA batteries.

Only thing it lacks:

  • You can't talk to it. Ironically, this is okay. The ones you can talk to kind of suck. The current state of voice software in these is kind of meh, according to the reviews. Whether it is discerning things from the road noise, or whatnot, they just don't get very good reviews.

Anyway, I'm going to go play with it now.

Really good use of perspective

| December 21, 2007

3 different perspectives of small town events. Kind of sad. Hat tip to .

Review of some RPG PDF's

| December 21, 2007

I am up at this absurd hour because we are performing maintenance on one of the servers (clean out all the dust bunnies). I'm the remote tech support. Of course, while I can do the prep and shut things down, I'm kind of idle until the crew is finished cleaning. So, I blog…

This is going to hopefully be the start of a series of reviews of PDF's which I have recently purchased. Most of these are indie, because that is where I am right now in my exploring of the hobby. The indie ones are available at Indie Press Revolution (full disclosure: works for them). Note that I haven't yet played any of these, I have just read them.

Spirit of the Century. Wow. Just.. wow. Completely blew my socks off, and this was after I had briefly skimmed the SRD. The mechanics are very good, and there are mechanics which allow players to seriously influence the story line by introducing facts. Despite the roaring 20’s setting, it really only becomes heavily steeped in that setting at the very end, where it is giving background information on the setting. Aside from that, it keeps things pretty generic, and one can easily see adapting this system to other places and times. Part of the reason this works is because of how generic the system is in terms of skills, which might prove to be of concern for other folks. Coming from my background of a person who would reorganize firearms skills into no fewer than half a dozen different skills (Pistols, Shotguns, Assault Rifles, SMG’s, Heavy Weapons, Precision Rifles…) having just “Guns” kind of irked me at first. However, after talking it over with Lizzy, I realized that most people don’t care. Seriously. This is not a tabletop war game, it is a story, and all these crunchy rules bits just get in the way. From a construction perspective, the PDF is solid. The grammar is good, the cross-references are accurate and plentiful. The examples are clear and well thought out and the style of writing is clear and easy to read. The font is large enough to be easy on the eyes, and the landscape layout (2 smaller pages side by side on a landscape letter page) is easy to read – it kind of lays out like a “two column” format. In closing, I would say that what was really telling about SoTC was that I wasn’t thinking about rules, I was thinking about plot and, more specifically, how players would have more freedom to affect the plot. I was thinking about what folks could do, not how they could do it, and that is really what it is all about, isn’t it? Dust Devils Revenged This is essentially a lightly revised version of the original dust devils. It is short, sweet, and to the point. There are no skills, just four core traits, plus a couple of descriptive qualities. Conflict is resolved by poker hands, with your traits, qualities, and profession affecting how many cards you are dealt and what you may do with them (trade some in for new cards, etc). The real interesting thing about this game is how they move narrative control. The player who wins the poker hand gets to achieve his goal. The other players may or may not (it depends on their hands and what the narrator says). The person who gets the single highest card dealt gets to be the narrator and describe how it goes down, taking in to account the requirement that the character with the winning hand gets to win, and can then describe how others fare as well. There is no extended combat with rounds or initiative – it’s just one overarching conflict and is abstracted from the real “nitty gritty”. In this edition of the book, there are three alternate settings – cold-war era spy, a Ronin in feudal Japan, and gritty criminal characters a la Frank Miller’s Sin City. Honestly, I find the Sin City setting to be more compelling that the traditional western. As much as I love westerns, the dark, gothic feel of a city of bad guys just appeals to me. The one drawback to this game is the fact that everyone is basically playing a tragic hero seeking redemption or atonement. This is not a bad thing per se, it is just not what my group is really wanting to play right now – they want something lighthearted and clear cut. They are the good guys, these other guys are the bad guys, and there are clear avenues of right and wrong. A stone-hearted killer who makes good in the last few days of his life, cleaning up a town before he valiantly goes down in a hail of gunfire, taking the last guy with him as he succumbs to his wounds, is not really in this mold. The PDF is nicely organized, and the layout of the main section conveys a good feel of the Old West, where the alternate settings use different fonts to convey their settings as well. This is a standard US letter fullpage, and prints nicely. One criticism I have is the price. This is a second edition and is all of 75 pages long. I think $10 is a little high – something like $7.50 might be more appropriate here.

Snow

| December 15, 2007

Apparently, we are supposed to get 18 inches of snow between 8AM and 8PM Sunday.

I blame . I think the FSM reads his “I like snow because I'm a Canadian and have snowshoes to get around and plenty of firewood and whiskey to keep me warm” blog and touches the weather with His Noodly appendage. Being only a few hundred miles away, I'm just collateral damage.

On another note, if you go join the FATE RPG group, in the Files->FATE SotC->Rules and Settings->After the Rise section, you will find a set of supplementary rules for a gritty, modern, post zomb-pocalypse survival variation of Spirit of the Century (Note: Requires Spirit of the Century rules to play. A set of Fudge dice is handy as well, but you can use regular D6's in a pinch).

On games..

| December 6, 2007

I think I’ve said this before, but I’m really liking PDFs of games. Download PDF, save places, print a copy, and annotate as I like. Then I don’t feel bad about writing in the book. I can also make compilations of tables and charts, stick pages in a nice binder, etc. I grabbed a copy of The World of Darkness core rules, as well as a Don’t Rest Your Head and Spirit of the Century from DriveThruRPG. The latter two are strongly into “indie” territory, which brings me into another point – I’m really liking the oddball indie games. They are interesting, odd, cheap, and fun. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I grabbed a copy of Cat, which is a game about cats, and how they keep humans safe from Boggins (like the monster under the bed, the thing in the closet, etc.). In a similar vein, Spirit of the Century (which, I should note, also has a free scenario PDF download from DriveThruRPG called Spirit of the Season, where you play some number of Nick Saint and his Reindeer Men in an attempt to stop the evil Doctor Scrooge and Jacques Frost). This is not to disparage any other game systems or publishers, but more to comment upon the existence of these small independent game companies makes me. A new concept, to which I’ve been introduced via such podcasts as Fear The Boot, The Dragon’s Landing Inn, and House of the Harping Monkey, is story based roleplaying. It’s hard to explain, and I don’t even know if I’m expressing it correctly, but the basic idea is that players have more of a participatory role in the story rather than just the “choose your own adventure”, and the game has a mechanic which supports this. For example, in Spirit of the Century, you get fate chips. You can spend fate chips to (among other things), try to make something happen (GM has veto power, of course, but it is assumed that we’re all here to have fun and it would just be used to rein in something too fantastic). So, let’s say, for a minute that you are trying to spy on a secret meeting in a warehouse, but you need to get past the guards. In a “standard” RPG, you would try to sneak by, knock them out, or whatnot, but you can’t really alter the world except through direct action. In a story-based RPG, you would use the game mechanic (the fate chip, etc.) to make something happen external to your character. While the GM would veto something like the guard dropping dead of a heart attack, or being struck by lightning, it would not be out of the question to have him have to go take a leak, step into a corner to light a cigarette out of the wind, or get distracted by noise made by a cat chasing a mouse. This would give your character the opportunity to slip by unnoticed (or, if not an automatic success, at least give you a bonus to such a roll. So, you can’t sneak buy if driving a tank, but you can if you are just walking). Another idea that I’m coming around to is what I’m loosely calling “indeterminacy”. This is kind of what the developers were getting at with “wealth” in D20 Modern (which was done poorly, in my opinion), but the basic idea is that you have taken something, but you don’t know what it is. To cite an example from popular fiction, take Batman. He has his utility belt, and he always seems to have just the right gadget at the right time. Rather than have players have to list out every possible thing, you just say “I have a utility belt”, and when you think of something you need, you have it. Sure, it’s not very hard and fast, but it is fun. Obviously, there are some limitations, but that is where negotiating with the GM comes in. (No, you can’t carry a jet in your utility belt.). I can’t really say for sure what this all means, or even if it means anything. On the one hand, it feels more mature and adult (in as much as playing games with dice and one’s imagination can be termed “adult”) because we are focused on having fun and not being rulesmongering weenies trying to kill monsters and get treasure. On the other hand, it kind of just feels lazy – because I don’t care about the stupid rules and just want to play games with my friends, drink beer and have a good time. In the end, it probably doesn’t mean a damned thing, and I’m just overanalyzing things. In another vein, I like the Open Gaming License games in that it is nice to be able to create derived works. For example, Spirit of the Century uses the FATE system, which is released as a core set of rules in the Spirit of the Century SRD, which is being used by Mick Bradley to create Vegas After Midnight. Now, at first I had the idea of just playing whatever from the SRD, which you can do – but it’s kind of a waste of time. From my point of view, spending the $15-$20 on the PDF, or $25-$40 on the book is worth it. You get flavor. However, it is nice that the engine is OGL. First, if I like fate in SoTC, then the fact that VAM uses it is a plus – I’m familiar with it, and so the rest is kind of just setting, without falling into the “Generic” problem which some other systems have (you need to be the core rules, then this supplement for setting, and this other for equipment, etc.). Finally, if I were to ever want to create my own RPG, I could take the SRD and do so, without fear of being sued (provided, of course, that I based my work off the SRD and didn’t take any other stuff which is not licensed under the OGL. It just strikes me as a nicer way to share game engine concepts, and it makes me realize that a lot of the gaming community is just that – a community. There isn’t a lot of serious, hardcore competition except in some really narrow channels. With the advent of the internet and PDF sales, there isn’t that competition over bookstore shelves (and the indies couldn’t compete there anyway), so it’s okay to say “I like Spirit of the Century from Evil Hat, Vegas After Midnight from Mick, Truth and Justice from Atomic Sock Monkey”, and they don’t really compete. Hell, it’s not like every gamer doesn’t have a whole library of core rule books (and likely some supplements too). Want to play original Deadlands? Shadowrun? Okay, which edition? Or, here is a pile if indie games… start reading. Anyway, I’m going to curl up with the SoTC rules now. Night all.

More random bits

| December 5, 2007

  • The Wii output looks significantly better when shown in 480p via component cable. The Mii's are less jaggy.

  • Hmmm.. There is Manhunt 2 for the Wii. I wonder if they use the motion control in interesting fashions.

  • A Grand Theft Auto game for the Wii would be interesting – it knows you are holding your gun sideways!

  • Running badblocks -svw to test/burn in a 750GB HDD takes a long time.

  • MondoRescue looks badass.

  • The foster kittens went to an adoption clinic this weekend and got adopted. So, Nuts and Bolts will have a good home for Christmas. I leave you with some photos of them. There are some other cats in there too, but whatever.

I'm glad that such fine people are watching after my welfare

| December 4, 2007

Shrine of the Mall Ninja

Hat tip to .

Probably the best RKBA article I've read in awhile

| December 2, 2007

The Liberal Case for Gun Ownership

Realignment

| December 2, 2007

Recently, I've been working in a very focused way on microarmor stuff. While fun, I've not been doing much else which, as it turns out, is almost as bad as not doing anything. So, I'm going to be doing a bit of juggling of my hobbies – a little bit of this, a little bit of that, whatever strikes me.

To that end, I've been catching up on my reading – chewing through some back essays that L. Neil Smith has written and are hosted by JPFO. Good reading. I've also been finishing up the last bit of the final book in the Dark Tower series.

Concurrent with this, I have been organizing my huge pile of links and TODO list by sections, and will soon get back to hacking on computers and such. High points are playing with some fancy encryption stuff, poking at some fancy new filesystems, and so forth. Of course, if I find anything interesting, I'll blog about it.

This weekend was reasonably productive. We got our Christmas tree, cleaned up the house a bit, started to decorate, and got ready for the winter. It has turned cold here, and the snow is starting to come – just a little for now, but I suspect this winter will not be as mild as last winter.

The tractor is now all serviced, fluid changed, lubed, and has the snowblower mounted, see?

Note the rear wheels – that's what we call “bling”, out here in the country.

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