All posts by Yoda

Well, I got hacked.

“Hacked by Imam with Love”

Well, that was all the impetus I needed to get my upgrades in order and update to https.

Editing to add more info.

So, it looks like I’ve been getting hacked about once a day for the last two weeks, but the only damage is that my last post got replaced with bragging rights about the hack, and then they spent the last two weeks fighting over who gets to display the bragging rights.

The exploited vulnerability is this one: https://blog.sucuri.net/2017/02/content-injection-vulnerability-wordpress-rest-api.html

So my user accounts weren’t compromised, and my password is secure, but WP once again introduced the sort of hack that let you do just about anything without even logging in. If I’d been on the ball about getting my updates sorted, it wouldn’t have happened, but I’ve been busy and can’t use the auto-updater any more so I’d been putting it off because manual updates are a pain in the ass.

Far as I can tell, they only edited the one post and I’ve reverted the content on that. Doesn’t seem to be any more damage.

xkcd: Life Goals

New year, new things

It’s 2017, I’m still getting used to typing 2017 instead of 2016 by reflex (haven’t even tried writing it down yet), and I have absolutely no resolutions for the year. Not one.

I don’t really believe in the whole resolutions thing. But I do believe in setting some goals for myself, and trying to do better over time. I just find “New Years Resolutions” to be a crap way of doing it.

So this year, I want to achieve some things, and I might take some inspiration from the stand-up meetings we have at work and start keeping a record of how I’m doing on them to keep myself accountable and keep track of what’s getting in my way (besides myself).

With all that in mind, here are my current goals:

  • More gym time, get my cardio up, look at freeweights
    • Possibly try cardio in chain once I’m back in the swing of it
    • Currently blocked by my new gym still not being open but there’s another branch I can use in the meantime.
  • More work on Tixty
    • I need to get the admin backend sorted, and get a better frontend interface done while I’m at it
  • More creative writing
    • I want to try and get some regular creative writing done. Might start looking around for sources of inspiration or ask people for prompts
  • Write and run Heroes Rush In
    • It’s the penultimate event for No Rest for the Wicked, and I’m not alone in writing it but our plans are ambitious and we need to get started on them.
  • Make mage armour
    • I need new mage armour for Empire
    • I need to settle on a design, get someone to help with the bits I need help with, and start working on the rest.
  • Get Magento certified
    • We’re working on it at work, but I need to put in the effort, and I need to push for it to get sorted.
  • Learn Japanese
    • I’ve got a number of events coming up where knowing conversational Japanese would be useful – I need to brush up on it again and get used to using it.

I’ve probably missed some off, but one of the joys of life is that if you forget something, you can always it it to the list later.

 

Featured image from xkcd: Life Goals

Anime Recommendations

I promised some people to remind them about some anime recommendations I made, so I figure I may as well make these recommendations to everyone. Some of these are classics, some are new. I’ve added (legal) links to some of these telling you where you can buy it or watch it.

I started this list in April and still haven’t finished fleshing it out. Maybe I will at some point, but for now, I think the titles may stand on their own for further research.

Outlaw Star

Some people have said that Joss Whedon drew inspiration from Outlaw Star when writing Firefly but I’ve not seen any real sources on the matter. That should tell you something about the anime though: a group of ragtag outlaws on a ship trying to make enough money to keep going while making a name for themselves who find themselves on a quest to find the Celestial Leyline. Throw in some ancient magic and ships fighting with arms instead of guns and I was sold. I originally bought this on eBay from China when I was at university and I’ve been hooked ever since – I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it and I can’t describe how it feels to find someone else who’s seen it as they appear to be somewhat rare. You can get it on Amazon.

Cowboy Bebop

Much like Outlaw Star, Cowboy Bebop centers around a group of people taking on what jobs they can to make enough money to feed themselves and refuel the ship. I think Cowboy Bebop is actually closer to Firefly than Outlaw Star is in a lot of ways, and it’s certainly more of a cult classic than Outlaw Star is. The focus of Cowboy Bebop is around chasing bounties and the character arcs tend to give people the feels. Too soon. You can get it on Amazon (and can currently watch it on Netflix).

Gundam

Okay, so I’m a Gundam head – I like most Gundam shows I’ve watched and I now watch them religiously as new seasons come out (for the most part). My favourites (in no particular order) are noted below, but you can find some of these on YouTube for free on the official GundamInfo channel.

Gundam 00

Written in a similar vein to Gundam Wing, Gundam 00 centers around Celestial Being, an organisation dedicated to eradicating war. They’ve been preparing for two centuries, building the Gundams in secret and now they’ve announced themselves to the world in a series of interventions. The Gundams, beyond any mobile suit the warring super-nations have produced, are meant to help unify the world and eradicate war. Obviously things don’t always go to plan and there are a series of upsets as things go awry. It’s an excellent series that I much prefer to Wing at least in part due to Setsuna being less annoying than Heero.

Gundam Build Fighters

Written by the same writer as Gundam 00, Gundam Build Fighters is obviously a technique to sell more Gunpla[1] but the plot is strong and engaging – as is the action. In some ways, Gundam Build Fighters is an avenue for people to ask “which would win in a fight? Wing Gundam or Strike Gundam?” It’s been described as “Gundam Valhalla” due to the number of “cameos” where characters in GBF bear a striking familiarity to those in other Gundam shows. The basic premise is that a company called PPSE has developed a particle that can be used to move the plastic that Gunpla are made from and have then further developed this to create battle systems that allow people to fight with the custom Gunpla they’ve built. The series covers the journey of Sei Iori and Reiji as they go from local tournaments all the way to the world stage. You can watch it for free on YouTube.

Gundam: IRON-BLOODED ORPHANS

Humanity colonised Mars then there were a bunch of wars between nations and a group now known as Gjallarhorn created the Gundams and other technological advantages to enforce peace and stabilise space. Many year later, the Gundams have been mothballed and Gjallarhorn has become corrupt. The story follows a group of Martian orphans who have been implanted with Alaya-Vijnana technology allowing them to operate mobile weapons as if they were their own body – this is what gets them employment and allows them to keep eating. They take over the group, rename it, and strike out on their own with not much more than the old Gundam suit they used to use as a power generator and tank-like mobile weapons. As they travel to Earth escorting Kudelia Aina Bernstein, they start making a name for themselves and stirring change for the better. You can watch it for free on Daisuki.

Gundam SEED

Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny, its sequel series are the classic Gundam story. The Gundam series has many universes but the one that seems most classic to me is the Cosmic Era[2]. You have the Earth Alliance on one side (most Earth nations under one banner) and ZAFT on the other (an alliance of space colonies). The colonies are largely populated by Coordinators (humans with enhanced abilities), while Earth is largely baseline human – this forms one of the core conflicts between the two. The story follows Kira Yamato, a Coordinator who ends up fighting with the Earth Alliance while trying to find a path to peace without killing. There are Gundams on both sides of the conflict (though what GUNDAM stands for does depend on who made the suit[3]). SEED Destiny changes the primary characters but has similar arcs and continues the story as a whole. You can get it on Amazon.

Other Gundam series

I’m not going to go other all of these in depth as they’re not so much on my favourites lists and I’ve already talked about a lot of Gundam stuff at length so here’s some short stuff:

  • Gundam Wing: The first Gundam series I saw (on Toonami of all places), it’s what got me hooked. I’d still recommend people watch it, and I still love the Deathscythe, but it’s been displaced from my favourites.
  • Gundam Unicorn: An OVA in the Universal Century timeline, it’s an interesting take on Gundams and how they should be used. You can watch it for free on Daisuki.
  • Gundam AGE: Featuring an evolving Gundam, I liked watching Gundam AGE but I find I don’t care to rewatch it as much. I especially like the second arc of the story which tells the story of three generations of Gundam pilots.
  • Gundam Build Fighters Try: The sequel series to Gundam Build Fighters follows a team of students competing in a similar tournament. I like it, but I don’t rewatch it as much as I do GBF. You can watch it for free on YouTube.

The Asterisk War

Humanity has evolved and people are now capable of harnessing prana to do magic/magic-like effects often channeled through weapons known as Lux. There are six major schools dedicated to teaching people to use their abilities, and they regularly host tournaments between each other. The winner of the tournament gets to ask for whatever they most desire as a prize. It’s a pretty typical shonen anime in that there’s one male protagonist who has a bunch of pretty girls fawning over him, but it’s got a good story and some nice swordfighting. Found it by accident on Daisuki and the first season is mid-release at time of writing. You can join me in watching it for free at Daisuki.

Cross Ange

People have discovered the ability to manipulate mana to enhance their lives and technology. It’s become an everyday part of life, and those who can’t use it (and in fact destroy it when they touch it) are considered vile inhuman people and are taken away as soon as they’re discovered. The assumption was that they were killed, but they’re actually taken to a remote island as Princess Angelika discovers when it becomes apparent that she (unknown to herself) is one of them. On the island, they’re trained to use jet-bikes that can turn into mecha and fight dragons from an alternate reality while dressed in the most revealing flight suits imaginable. It’s pretty amazing.

Full Metal Alchemist

The Seven Deadly Sins

Currently on Netflix.

Fairy Tail

Currently on Netflix.

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic

Currently on Netflix.

Code Geass

Currently on Netflix.

Death Note

Currently on Netflix.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Gundam plastic model kits
2. The actual classic timeline is Universal Century, and Cosmic Era is noted for its similarities
3. Technically in CE, GUNDAM refers to the operating system used to control the suit and most of the advanced features of the suits could be applied to other mobile suits if they could be easily mass-produced or controlled – hence the need for an advanced and specialised OS
Zephyr De Rondell, captured by Charlie Moss

Differences

Five years ago, I would have told you that liked playing the IoD games, but what I really enjoyed was running and crewing games.

Four years ago, I would have told you that I was looking forward to Empire, but what I really enjoyed was running and crewing games.

Three years ago, I would have told you that I enjoyed Empire, but I was considering changing over to crew because what I really enjoyed was running and crewing games.

Two years ago, I would have told you that Empire was finally starting to click for me, but what I really enjoyed was running and crewing games.

One year ago, I would have told you I was having a blast at Empire, but there weren’t any other games I was looking at playing, and what I really enjoyed was running and crewing games.

This year, things changed. I went to Future’s End and came away from that event with more energy and desire to play it again than I can recall ever experiencing from a game before. That led to me dropping IoD completely because it was a drain on my time for no reward. I’ve started playing Stargate and realised I was going to keep playing it when on the drive back I said “And next time, I’ll be playing with a compound fracture” and Fraser pointed out that I’d said I’d be playing the next one. This year, I got my Imperial Title in Empire, got over every problem I faced and produced the best results from a game I have ever had (thanks to a glorious mistake, but it worked!). I then promptly died at the next event but I have so much energy for going back and playing that my main worries are actually that I’m not going to look good enough for Dawn – not over what I’ll do.

I’ve also stopped being an active element in No Rest for the Wicked. After running By Schisms Rent Asunder, I went on break, and I’ve not really phased back in yet. I’ve done some things here and there, but mostly I’m letting the others handle things, and it feels good. It’s making me question how much I do enjoy running events, and what I want to be doing when I do run them.

There actually is no question about it: I do enjoy running events and I do enjoy crewing them, but I’ve also learned to love playing them as well. I’m going to take a longer break from running things than I anticipated (I still have three events on the cards to run[1][2]), but I’m going to keep back from being an organiser for a while longer[3]). The love for playing events is something I’ve been missing for a long time – I’m not sure I’ve ever really had it in the entire 12 years I’ve been LRPing, so it feels good to finally be feeling like this.

If you’re reading this, thanks to Kelly, Fraser, JD, Cat, Cherry, Rob, and the others who’ve made me come around to enjoying playing games instead of just running them.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. my birthday party, one for No Rest, and one for Stargate
2. The Stargate one may actually be pretty far in the future
3. If you’re reading this Rob, I guess you were right.

Future LRP Ideas

As I’ve intimated in various places at various times, I’m kinda working on a LRP project separate from No Rest for the Wicked, Inquisition Chronicles and indeed the entire Warhammer 40,000 franchise. I have a partner-in-crime on this, but we’ve not been able to sit down and discuss what we want to do with it due to running the last No Rest event, and other things getting in the way. So that’s on the back burner for now. It might be the awesome collision of Outlaw Star, Cowboy Bebop, and Firefly in one new IP, or it might not. We haven’t even gotten that far, though I do love the idea of making an Outlaw Star LRP.

Something else that’s come up is the idea of a new parlour LRP[1]. This game would be something different from any other LRP (or LARP)[2] I’ve run: rather than putting people into a situation and then either having them work with the situation or go off on linears (or both), the idea would be that the live part of the game would be social with missions happening outside of game-time. Let me explain.

For this concept, we’d be looking at something like SLA Industries, Shadowrun, Orpheus, Demon Hunters, or Bounty Hunter Bebop – a game where you gather a team and go run missions for prestige, money, some other prize, or all three. The pub part would be a gathering of people able to go on these missions – bounty hunters, shadowrunners, mercenaries, etc – who grab a mission off the board, put together a team for it, then go back to drinking to “prepare”. Missions would then be run between games as tabletop sessions, and there’d be a leaderboard of some kind indicating which characters were top-ranked. The general idea would be that you’d have to weigh up the balance between taking the A-listers on your missions (which makes them more likely to succeed) versus increasing your own lead on them (as if they’re with you, they gain the same rank boost you do from the mission). There’d be some kind of meta-plot behind some of the missions, and we’d generally try to make the scene interesting, but the general obvious part of the game would be about the rankings and taking missions to get money, fame, and glory.

There wouldn’t be any downtime system – just up-time politics and the missions between games.

Curious as to what people think of the idea. I’ve probably not explained it well, but I think it has legs.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. also known as pub LRP, pub LARP, parlour LARP, or just LARP – usually while associated with World of Darkness games
2. the difference between the terms is a whole different post

Lucifer, Anime and Coding

So what did you do over the weekend? I spent most of mine watching anime and developing a new website. Netflix has a lot to answer for in this, but the new Amazon Fire TV stick I picked up in the Prime Day sale certainly helped as well.

As I said, it was only mostly anime and coding – I also finished Lucifer, binge-watching the final ten or eleven episodes (I was a bit behind, okay?) and I’m still expecting there to be some twists that haven’t yet surfaced yet. I’m not convinced that Lucifer really did burn his wings – it’s not like he didn’t have access to a pair of fakes, and I’m actually quite interested in the ways that the series has differed from the books. I’ll say straight off that comparing the comics to the TV series is a fool’s game and that the comics wouldn’t have worked as well for a procedural TV series, but it’s still interesting seeing how they differ all the same. Mazikeen is one of the big differences – cocky and assured all the time with perfect features (unless you happen to catch a look at her in a mirror of course) – as opposed to the Mazikeen of the comics who is much more brooding and disfigured (until she isn’t). So very different to the comics and incomparable, but still a very watchable series even if it is nothing like the original.

Regarding anime, I binged all of Magi: Adventures of Sinbad on Saturday and all of Kuromukuro on Sunday. Both were much shorter than I expected (only 13 episodes apiece) but I’m sure there’s far more to come. Adventures of Sinbad should be watched after Magi: Labyrinth of Magic and tells the beginnings of how Sinbad became the king he is in Labyrinth of Magic. Kuromukuro is a new mecha series that mixes samurai and giant robots and nanotech in relatively modern-day surroundings – I recommend giving it a watch.

Regarding the website, you’ll just have to wait and see. I’m sure it’ll come to light soon.

Why don’t we reprint old books?

It’s obvious: there’s no money in it. If you print books that no one wants then you have to pay to buy them back, to have them pulped and recycled so you can make them into more books that people do want. Publishing is an expensive business and profit is a key motivator. It’s why most authors need to keep writing new books as the only way to remain profitable is to keep writing new material as eventually the publishers will stop printing the old stuff.

eBooks are changing this to a degree, but even there I imagine there is pruning of the archives. You could let people buy any book that has ever been converted to an eBook format, but doing so means that they might fail to find the expensive new ones you want to promote.

Certainly there’s been little effort to re-publish many of the books that are now out of print in eBook format – why expend effort on a market you consider dead?

And this, finally, brings me to my point. There are books I read long ago that I have wanted to re-read at certain points in my life. As a teenager, I devoured my local library to the point I had to buy reams of my own books to keep myself in books. Amazon was a saving grace for me, as it meant that I could buy books I didn’t even know existed. But now, fifteen years later, there are books I once read from the library that I can’t find any more. At least not new. Some of them I’ve managed to buy used copies of, but I’m sure there are others I haven’t found at all, and even getting complete sets of some of the ones I have found has been an arduous task.

It isn’t even like the authors I have been seeking out are of little consequence. If anyone can say that Isaac Asimov and Timothy Zahn are of little consequence to science-fiction then they’re missing out on some great material. Collecting the Conquerors’ trilogy by Timothy Zahn was a bit tricky, but I managed it – by no means his most famous work but I always liked it. Asimov’s Foundation series also presented a challenge and that’s despite films and television series supposedly being in the works.

There is little profit in reprinting old books so companies don’t do it, meaning that you’re left with the choice of the new up-and-coming books while your half-finished collections are sometimes destined to go unfinished. But it doesn’t stop me wishing that this wasn’t the case – that I could reach back and pluck new copies of any book I wanted out of its time and into mine so I could share them with others who’d enjoy them as well.

If eBooks have one fault beyond all others, it’s that you can’t loan them to other people.

Pirate Laws

Started thinking about some pirate laws today. For reasons.

  1. Be ye not on fire
  2. Pillage before ye burn
  3. Possession be more important than ownership
  4. If I licked it, it be mine
  5. It be Cap’n, not anything else
  6. No doublin’ up on monikers
  7. Dying your beard to get a new moniker be acceptable
  8. Swords be better than guns
  9. Thar be no pirate laws
  10. The pirate code be more like guidelines

Lost Letters

I may come up with a better name than this, but I like the alliteration of Lost Letters.

Letter-writing roleplay is something I had never really considered to be it’s own thing until recently, having set it firmly in the category of “assisting other roleplay” in my mind. The idea I had was that letter-writing made other games better – writing letters between characters enhances roleplay. I’m not sure when I changed my mind about that and determined that the act of writing letters on its own could be more than enough roleplay to be getting on with without needing the structure of an external game to support it.

And so, my concept of “lost letters”. These are letters or emails which while addressed (correctly) to the recipient[1] seem to be impossible or out of left-field, encouraging the recipient to respond and between the two of you create a new world of roleplay.

The first example of this I did was crafting a letter from a shady laboratory to a replicant[2] offering assistance with maintenance and upgrades in exchange for the opportunity to study them. This was well received, and it’s been in the back of my mind ever since.

Tonight it came up again, and I came up with the concept of letters that are replies to letters that were never sent by the recipient. Exactly how the chain of letters came to be is up for decision by the participants in it, depending on how they craft their letters and responses. It could be that the letters are travelling in time somehow ala The Lake House, or perhaps the original letter came from an alternate reality. Perhaps a doppelganger has been pretending to be you and sending letters on your behalf, or perhaps you aren’t who you think you are. It could be that it’s all an honest mistake but you find yourself enthralled by the contents of the letter.

There are no rules to this game except those you apply yourselves. You need only someone to roleplay with and a chosen medium to do so in. I doubt the concept is entirely original, but feel free to attribute me if you want to, or link to this post – I appreciate a bit of traffic now and then.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. not “to the occupier” or “to whom it may concern”
2. a cybernetic entity capable of mimicking human form and behaviour

Priorities

I’ve spent some time of late considering my priorities when it comes to my spare time and I’ve decided to start cutting down on the hobbies that have the lowest energy:enjoyment ratios. That is to say I mean to stop doing things that take a lot of time and energy but don’t reward my effort with add much enjoyment as I get from other sources.

What that means is that I’m not going to expend time and energy on things I’m not enjoying which should mean I have more time and energy to do what I do enjoy.

To cut a long story short, this means that I don’t intend to renew my membership in the Isles of Darkness. I’ve not enjoyed playing the games as much as I used to for quite some time and I’m tired of expending effort on IoD that I’d rather be using on other projects. I have other games I want to write and run that get put aside for the pressures of running an IoD game every month.

If I spent as much time on my next No Rest event as I’ve spent on IoD stuff this year, my event would be mostly done by now.

Part of my problem with IoD is that I enjoy storytelling but I don’t like being painted into a corner and having my work second-guessed by people who haven’t even seen it.

I’d much rather spend my time and energy on Empire, Future’s End, and the field LRPs I’m running and that’s what I plan to do.

I’m not going to just drop out of things, but my membership will lapse in a few months and that coincides with the end of my term as LST Scotland Awakening so it seems like a fair time to go.