The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Interesting quiz

| February 28, 2014

It can determine where in the US you are from because of how you pronounce words:

My results

More on Bronies

| February 25, 2014

Somewhat related to my previous post, Liz pointed me at the documentary Bronies, which was quite good (we both watched it and thought so), and is available on demand on Netflix.

Update on the boys

| February 21, 2014

The boys are doing great. They hit 10lbs this week and had their first round of vaccines. The pediatrician is ecstatic with their progress, and they’re starting to be awake enough that we can play with them.

Anyway, lots of new pics, mostly of boys, but some of cats.

Video of the snow we got Feb 5

Video of Liz reading to the boys. (It’s even more awesome when you realize what she’s reading)

The worst of player excess

| February 14, 2014

In contrast to my previous post, this is on when you let players go too far, and it gets out of hand.

David is what one would call a munchkin. He figures out how to make a character that maxes out some aspects of it, and then skimps on other things, not exactly creating “well rounded” characters. This is not really an issue per-se, unless he makes a character that everyone hates.

Anyway, David comes up with this idea of wanting to be an escaped lab experiment, the most prominent feature of which was an Orichalcum cybernetic arm. Now, the issue with this is that, in the world of Shadowrun, Orichalcum is used for magical items (weapons, tools, and the like), and magic doesn’t play well with technology. Plus, it’s tremendously expensive to make. So, you’ve got a guy walking around with cybernetics worth more than most folks make in a lifetime, which stands out like a beacon to anyone magically active (and anyone not magically active can still see it for what is).

So, in order to get this fancy bit of kit. which is not obtainable on the open market, David needed to take a stupid number of character flaws and get GM permission. I gave the GM permission, figuring that the character flaws would make up for it.

Well, they did – in spades.

The flaws were, in short:

  • He was hunted by the people from the lab from which he escaped.
  • He was making side money by recording their capers on his implanted Simsense rig. The more interesting the video, the more he got paid. Him being hunted was a nice GM hook. The Simsense was where it really went sideways.

For the first adventure, I ran the standard “Food Fight” mission, where they end up going for a late run to a local Stuffer Shack. Their snack run is, of course, interrupted by some inconsiderate gangers trying to hold up the joint.

As one would expect, they dispatched the gangers, and then the manager comes out and is very appreciative, and tells them to take whatever they want. No problems – until David’s character grabs the manager and makes like he’s going to cut the manager’s throat. This led to a chorus of “Dude, WTF?”

A couple of other missions like this, and one of the other characters, played by Ross, decided to put a hit out on David’s character.

The thing that you have to realize about Shadowrun is that you don’t necessarily play a “team”, you often play a group of independent contractors held together by a common job or set of contacts. This is not a problem if you decide to not work with someone anymore, because “we’re all professionals here”, etc. This works – right up until one of your team is a vindictive psycho. Hence, the hit.

The hit goes down in the form of a sniper with a rifle shooting at him while he’s sitting in the runners’ local dive bar. They are at a table, playing cards or something. He is at the bar, because he’s a loner.

Now, at the time, I thought it unfair to just do a lethal damage headshot. To be honest, I still do. I perhaps should have made the other player aware that I wasn’t going to GM fiat lightningbolt kill a character – that’s just lame. But, I didn’t.

The bullet comes through the window, shattering it, busts the beer David’s character is drinking, and thuds in to the bar. Combat ensues. David’s guy goes over the bar, everyone else’s characters flip over a table and take cover behind it. Ross’s character goes invisible and draws his katana.

A few rounds go through the table, high, missing people. They’re all taking cover, wondering what to do. Ross’s character vaults the bar – and then cuts David’s character’s head off with his katana.

At this point, David stands up, says thank you very much, and walks out of the game, taking his girlfriend, Lois, with him.

He refused to play as long as Ross was in the the game.

Things to learn as a GM:

  • Be explicit, up front, of PvP is allowed. I was new to this, so I had never assumed that it wasn’t. David was shocked that such a thing was allowed.
  • Don’t execute someone as a GM. It’s lame. I stand by this decision.
  • Don’t let your players play sadistic nutjobs, unless they’re all playing sadistic nutjobs. I should have warned David that this meant that everyone was going to hate him (but, I think he would have done it anyway). Oh, and the final bombshell? They didn’t find out about the Simsense until after all this. It was the catalyst for it because it was a driver of his extreme behavior, but the rest of the group was really not sure what to make of Ross, wondering if they were next – right up until they found that out (I made sure to work it in as a bit of expose later in the plot arc). After that, they agreed that Ross’s character’s actions were totally justified.

Michael the Brony

| February 5, 2014

Fair warning – I don’t recommend reading this any place where you don’t want to risk losing your composure, and you may want tissues.

Liz pointed me at this EPBOT posting, which links to the full story here. Both are worth reading. I pass it along for anyone who may be able to help.

The very abbreviated version is that Michael is a Brony and a particular fan of Pinkie Pie. He was made fun of for this, and attempted suicide as a result. He is 11.

Now, regardless of whether you like My Little Pony or not, or how you feel about the Brony phenomenon, I think that everyone who is a fan of something who reads this blog, and has been made fun of for that fandom can relate. If you have anything you can offer to help, please do.

For anyone who is reading this, who is being made fun of, and thinking of doing something drastic, please do not. School can be horrible, but it will end. Further, it is imperative that you remember, and I cannot stress this enough:


Geeks, nerds, freaks, fans and weirdos are everywhere, just look around – a Cylon figure on someone’s desk at work, a TARDIS on someone’s keychain, Star Wars Family car decals, even a Little Ass Kicker Onesie. Heck, one of the biggest shows on TV is The Big Bang Theory, and those guys are all mega fans.

Got OwnCloud video working… mostly.

| February 5, 2014

This little project has turned into a bit of a crash course of the state of video on the web, and I uncovered a couple of bugs with ownCloud along the way.

The first thing you may notice is that I’m not embedding them in to this page. The reason is that, due to a latent bug in ownCloud, were I to do so, it wouldn’t work.

I also fixed an issue where it would make the videos appear too large on small screens, and submitted a patch to fix that. It is already live on my instance of ownCloud, so you should notice no such issue.

Now, all that said, I’m not using any funny players (at least, not intentionally – there may be other players on ownCloud of which I’m not aware), just straight HTML5 video tags. The video format I’m using is Ogg Theora, which is Well Supported. So, if it doesn’t work for you, then you’re likely either using a very old browser or IE. In both cases, the solution is to upgrade your browser, I think. Further, I found an HTML5 compatibility tests to see how your browser fares.

Anyway, having sat through all of that, now you get videos of cats.

Mikey reacts to Liz’s alarm

Mikey on the prowl in the woods

Heidi coming out to meet me

Edit: Despite the browser support claiming that it is supported, apparently that does not include on Android. Further, apparently Ogg Theora is not supported on Android at all. So, I did go back and check to see how well h.264 works and the answer is.. not well. The above are all full HD (1920×1080) lossy encoded video, which basically doesn’t work on my Android tablet (ASUS TF101 running 4.2.2.). I can get them to work, but only at really low resolution, and for really small samples. I’m not willing to force such a low quality to support mobile devices, especially since video on those devices is (in my experience) pretty hit or miss without a custom app like YouTube and Netflix have). I realize that this tablet is a few years old at this point, so it may be that more modern machines have the horsepower to decode HD h.264 videos, All that said, I’m going to switch to h.264, as it seems about as compatible as Ogg Theora on the desktop, and is more compatible on mobile and embedded devices. However, I’m not going to compromise on the quality settings, so the videos still may not work if your device isn’t powerful enough. I have updated the above according to this logic.

If anyone has suggestions as to settings which would make my h.264 .m4v’s more compatible, I’d love to hear them.

More pics of the boys

| February 3, 2014

I’ve been working on getting my own Owncloud instance set up, which is why I’ve not been posting much of late. However, I think I’ve got that mostly sorted (need to play with its video functionality, though), and Liz has been doing photo shoots with the boys during the day.

Kyoot pic link