Aug. 27th, 2017 11:09 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Much as I am enjoying Civilization VI, I have to admit it shares one of the flaws of its predecessors. The scoring system is strongly biased towards Domination victories and against Cultural or Religious victories. I've played six games at the Warlord level (very low, to be sure), and my two highest scores, in the 700s, have been a Domination victory as Harald Hardrada and a Scientific victory as Tomyris. None of the other scores have gotten over 500, and three are in the 300s - two Religious victories (Cleopatra and Hojo) and two Cultural (Pedro II and Teddy Roosevelt), this despite the fact that Hojo and Pedro II completed their victories in the 1700s, while the two high scores came in 1874 and 2014.

I don't think this is deliberate, but total population, number of wonders, and several other late-game biased items contribute to the score. There ought to be a component favoring early victories.

(It's possible, to be sure, that at higher levels it grows more difficult to complete Cultural or Religious victories early, which might mitigate things.)
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
James Nicoll just posted a retrospective on the old SF role-playing game Traveller. That brings back some memories of my own... When I was a student at Chicago, I got involved in a D&D group. At one point, our GM suggested we try out this new SFnal answer to D&D; we were all game for it, so he set up a scenario and let us loose.

At the end of the first session, our party was aboard a submarine, hiding from the Imperial Space Navy, who were hunting us on charges including poaching, assault (several counts), hijacking, kidnapping, trespassing on government property, theft of government property, destruction of government property, and extortion. We were, in fact, not guilty of poaching. We meant well, though...

(The GM later suggested that we had gone into a game set in civilized places with the mind-set appropriate to the barbarism of D&D. Nicoll's pet phrase for D&D adventurers is "murder hobos". (I think that was Nicoll, at least.))

Ah, me. Haven't played any of those games in decades; video games are a poor substitute.


Jun. 25th, 2017 09:55 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Preliminary evaluation: I like Civ VI a lot. Maybe more than Civ IV.

I'm playing as Pericles, going for a Cultural Victory. This is different from a CIV Cultural Victory; in CVI, it requires your cities to attract lots of tourists. The main way to do that is to get a Great Artist/Writer/Sculptor to donate one or more of their Works to a museum in one of your cities. Later on, you can send Archaeologists out to ruins and shipwrecks, and put what they bring back in your museums. There are other tricks, too. This sounds like fun.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I may have made a mistake.

I grew bored with Skyrim not long before I bought my new computer. I contemplated Minecraft, for a change of pace, and Fallout IV, for another FPS. In the end, I bought neither.

Instead, I am now downloading Civilization VI. I enjoyed Civ IV a great deal; I think it was the best version to date. Civ V did not catch and hold my attention; I thought too much had been sacrificed from IV, in the interests of "simplification". What I've read about Civ VI, though, looks very attractive, and so... Steam is about halfway through the download.

I have a lot to do this summer. I can't afford to give too much time to gameplaying.

But surely I can give a little?
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Having finally grown bored with Skyrim, I'm looking around for another game to tackle. I took a look at Dragon Age: Inquisition, but found that I wanted something more free-form (like Skyrim). Also, having to manage multiple characters in such detail, especially in real-time combat, is more trouble than it's worth to me. Three other games are currently under consideration.

1) Civilization VI. I really enjoyed Civ IV; Civ V, not so much. What I've heard of VI sounds possibly interesting.
2) No Man's Sky. The basic idea sounds very enticing, but the Wikipedia article presented some rather negative reactions.
3) Minecraft. I'd be late to the show, of course - it's been around for, what, six years? But people are still playing it... I'd be playing single-user, as usual.

Does anyone have any comments, or any recommendations of other games I might look into?
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
A while back, I saw a description of a video game in which the gimmick is simply traveling to different planets and exploring them. No shooting, no colonizing, no conquest, just exploration. Does anyone recognize this, and know the name of the game?
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Can anyone tell me how to open a door in Dragon Age (DA:Inquisition, if that matters)?

Booking It

Jul. 8th, 2016 05:44 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Yesterday, being for some reason bored, I took a trip up the Great River and ordered some books.

In electronic form: Martha Wells, The Wizard Hunters (one of her Ile-Rien books; I read and enjoyed The Death of the Necromancer, so decided to dig further into the milieu); Harry Connolly, The Way into Chaos; and Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning. (The latter two have been recommended on File 770 and/or Making Light. F770 has been entirely too enthusiastic about getting books onto my to-get list lately....)

In paper: Bill Willingham, Wolves (the eighth book of "Fables"; I mostly buy F/SF in bit form lately, but graphic novels need more space); Eric Cline, 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed (I've gotten bits and snatches of info about that particular Dark Age, but this book's been recommended for pulling it all together); Alfred Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe 900-1900 AD (which just sounded interesting when I heard of it); and Viveka Velupillai, Pidgins, Creoles and Mixed Languages (creoles have been an interest of mine since a clash with Paula Sanch on the LMB list some years back; this is a more recent study than anything I already have).

The e-books are on my Kindle, though they'll have to wait their turn; the paper are scheduled to arrive next weekend or so. We shall see.

(This burst of activity is just about the only thing I've done in the last few days. Much lethargy; I don't even feel like playing Skyrim.)

(I have, however, come up with a single equation which partially answers a geometric question I'd been fussed about for a couple of months. So there's that, at least.)
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)

I didn't sleep well last night - no idea why - and when I did drop off, I dreamed that my Skyrim character had a bounty of 800,000 septims in Haafingar, and every city guard in Solitude was chasing him. He was trying to find a cliff to jump over while becoming ethereal, in hopes of escaping. (There are no cliffs anywhere near Solitude - certainly not within the city limits.)

I've been dragging all day, nodding off in the middle of

Where was I? Oh, yes. Nodding off in the middle of everything I try to do.

I've spotted several points in the writeup of the first Taxonomy paper where it could be improved - unenlightening calculations replaced by a visual argument, an unnecessary subsection cut (with a couple of items shifted elsewhere), a series of closely related propositions brought together and simplified - but I don't have the oomph to actually do the rewrite. (I have inserted editorial bold italic comments to remind myself where and how to rewrite.)

All this, and it's too hot! (Yes, I have air conditioning, but the internal environment isn't completely independent of the external.)


(Why does spellcheck object to "oomph"? Why does spellcheck object to "spellcheck"?)


Jun. 15th, 2016 03:04 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
We've been under a heat advisory since yesterday morning; it's currently scheduled to expire tomorrow evening, which I hope is true - there've been extensions before. (Friday is Gracie's grooming appointment.) I haven't left the house in the last two days except to grab the mail and make one early-morning grocery run.

I'm slogging my way through the final section of Taxonomy I. SWP 6.0 is once again acting up. (I think the current problem is one I figured out how to deal with earlier, but if so I've forgotten how.) Once that's done, I'll put together the bibliography and insert the references, and then write the introduction. A couple of people have expressed an interest in looking at the alpha version, so I'll send them PDFs and get started on Taxonomy II.

I'm also slogging through my final Skyrim game; I'm up to character level 223 and need to reach level 252. Then the real fun begins....

Gah. Even inside this air-conditioned house, I'm feeling the enervation.


Apr. 16th, 2016 07:16 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I spent most of the day playing Skyrim and working on the research paper. I've finished the section laying out the machinery and outlined the section dealing with classes of triangles. I'm much more satisfied with that first section (well, it's actually Section 3) now; the tricky part is explaining whynell we're doing all this junk, and I think I've made that a good deal clearer. One section, four subsections remain, and this is where I have to set the hook for the following papers. Thanks to this past week's discoveries, I'm a bit more sanguine about that as well. We shall see.

:cracks knuckles:


Dec. 16th, 2015 07:15 pm
stoutfellow: (Winter)
Two days till vacation. I've done my share of grading the common final; now I've got to take the data from my students' tests and sort it into the spreadsheet. (My policy of letting parts of the final boost midterm grades is a little stickier to implement, now that I've been dragged into the Common Final arena.) I also have to grade the take-home finals from my geometry course; the last one came in fifteen minutes before the deadline I'd imposed. (Nearly a third of the students e-mailed me their finals.)

Meanwhile, I've been giving my bookkeeping program real data, looking for bugs and fixing them, and simplifying some of the code - I finally figured out the relationship between FormOpen and FormActivate, which allows a good bit of dekludging! So far, I've been able to fix all of the flaws in the routines I've tried. The innovations I've added to this version are working fine, but there are some redundancies that keep tripping me up - modular code has its benefits, but there are a few places where I've changed my mind about where to handle certain actions, and one in particular is causing me problems. I'll have to *make up my mind*....

I've hired a dogsitter; he came by on Sunday and I gave him the lowdown. I'll probably send him an e-mail with some additional comments - "When to let the dogs out the back door", "On the giving of treats", etc.

Skyrim proceeds; I'm up into the early 50s as regards character level, and I've activated several of the Daedric quests. (I've finished the deals with Clavicus Vile, Hircine, Mephala, and Vaermina, winning the Masque, the Ring, the Blade, and the Skull; Azura, Boethiah, Mehrunes Dagon, Meridia, Molog Bal, and Sheogorath are on tap.) Smithing's up to level 100; Alchemy and Enchanting are both at level 81, and I'm pushing to get them up to level 100, with all perks. Then I'll make all the top-flight armor, weapons, and jewelry I'll need for every persona - Barbarian, Warrior, Marksman, Rogue, and Mage - and let Smithing and Enchanting go Legendary. Alchemy stays put; its products are consumable, unlike those of the other two, so I want to keep that skill maxed out.

I'm a bit annoyed by my research at the moment. To make further progress, it would be really good if I could come up with continuous analogs of some of the character-theory tricks I've been using. They may not exist, say some dim memories; sadly, there's nobody in the department who specializes in that area. (There are a couple of people who might be able to make useful comments, but I haven't been able to catch either of them in the last few days.)

Definitely ready for break.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I haven't been posting much lately. Partly it's simple procrastination; I've toyed with a number of ideas for posts in the last month or so, without ever actually writing them up. But I do have genuine justifications.

1) The semester's coming to a close. Classes ended last Friday, and I'll be giving a final on Monday and collecting a take-home final on Wednesday. It's going to be a scramble getting everything taken care of before I leave for California next Friday. (I'll be spending about two and a half weeks there, as usual, returning on the fifth.)

2) I'm in the middle of what will probably be my last game of Skyrim. It's going to take a long time; one of my goals is to earn every one of the skill perks, which will require me to reach character level 252. I'm currently at level 47, and gaining levels gets harder the higher you go. Damned addictive game....

3) I'm coding a new version (5.0) of my personal bookkeeping program. It's based on MS Access, like its predecessors; I've learned a lot about Access programming working on other projects (including the database I use with Skyrim), and I'm adding a lot of nice automation and other simplifications. If I can make it all work, it'll be a huge improvement on version 4. I've got four of the five major forms coded, and only have a couple more buttons on the fifth. (I have a couple of tweaks I'll have to make on the earlier forms, but they're minor, I hope.)

I've had time to write LJ posts, certainly, but among those three items there've been plenty of calls of duty and temptation pulling me in other directions.

(I'm about to go on vacation, and I haven't finished recapping my last vacation! Alas.)
stoutfellow: (Three)
Today was the annual high school math competition, and as usual I was one of the judges. I managed to get home before the snowstorm blew in; we're under a Winter Storm Warning through 6 PM tomorrow. It's coming down out there - not coming down hard, but coming down. They're predicting 5-7 inches.

Knowing this was coming, I made my weekly big grocery run yesterday; I'll be making "Arroz con Queso" (also containing black beans, tomato, onion, and garlic). It looks filling, at least.

Meanwhile, I'm still revamping my Skyrim database. The new version will be more extensive, flexible, and streamlined; a lot of things I had to enter individually with the old version will be taken care of automatically now. I realize that it's a silly thing to be spending time on, but I'm learning quite a few new tricks in Access programming, which will come in handy when I (inevitably) redo my Finances and Library databases. Changing the Rowsource property of a ListBox dynamically is only the first....

Whatever. I've got cocoa, coffee, and a variety of teas, plus two dogs to help keep me warm (although having two dogs on a three dog night is less than satisfactory), and four walls around me to keep the wind and snow off. Nothing to worry about, yah.


Nov. 2nd, 2014 12:10 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
It's only noon, but it feels like midafternoon.

The supposed "gaining an hour" sounds nice, but to me it means that, for the rest of the semester, my trip home MW is going to be later, darker, and colder. (Well, two thirds of that is inevitable, given the turning of the seasons, but even more so.)

The local temp has actually climbed above 50F, and we're supposed to get another couple of days of that, but I'm still going to be wearing my heavy jacket.

I've got another batch of the minestrone casserole cooking - third time this year - but it won't be ready for several hours yet, and I'm vaguely hungry. There's Halloween candy in the fridge, and the sack of pears I bought yesterday, but I shouldn't gorge on the candy and I've already eaten my daily fruit. (It was kind of meh, but that tends to be the case with the first fruit from the sack, for some reason. They'll get better.)

I'm just feeling kind of blah. I've run a couple of rounds of Skyrim today, and didn't really have much enthusiasm even then. This week, I'll have to do the annual Ethics Training, which I've been putting off. It's really a waste of time for me, since most of it has to do with people who can influence purchasing and contracts. (OK, there's stuff about not using university equipment for personal business, especially political stuff, but that's scarcely even a temptation for me, especially since my Internet service is no longer supplied by the university.)

:sighs wearily:


Oct. 11th, 2014 02:46 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I'm still awaiting the restoration of my Mathematica files and my distant-login capabilities. My copy of Geometer's Sketchpad is also missing.

Despite the lack of my Mathematica files, I've managed to gain some ground on the polygons front; I've discovered a new class of hexagons, and proved a rather unexpected theorem about them. I really should start writing this stuff up.

I'm just about done with my current game of Skyrim. The character has completed all of the questlines I wanted him to pursue - the main quest, the civil war (Imperial), the Companions and Thieves' Guild questlines, and Dawnguard (as a Dawnguard). There remain seven books that he hasn't been able to acquire (and may not be able to), and the task of reading the books he has acquired. This guy was primarily a warrior, with some thieving skills and next to no magic. I'm dithering over the next game: shall I go with a High Elf mage, or an Argonian thief-assassin? (The latter character, when I activate him, is going to be a real bastard....) I have to make some tweaks to the database before I begin the next game, mostly to deal with the problem of (re)gaining the thaneship in a hold after it changes hands in the civil war.

One of the e-books I've been reading recently was an interesting collection of Navajo legends, assembled by Washington Matthews in the late 19th century. I got it from Internet Archive, and I have to say I'm disappointed with the e-version. Matthews transcribed Navajo personal and place names using a number of symbols not in the Latin alphabet, and the OCR that the Archive used - I assume it's OCR - didn't handle it very well. The same name might appear several times on the same page, written differently each time. Usually, it's easy to recognize that the same name is intended - the variations are more-or-less predictable - but it's still annoying.

We've definitely moved into fall. I actually began growing my winter beard at the tail end of September; we had a rather abrupt cold snap then, and though the weather has bounced back up to late-summer temperatures a couple of times since, the warm spells have been brief and temporary. I usually don't start the beard until mid- or late October, but it looks like it might be a rough winter.

The Padres once again put together a fairly strong second half, but once again fell short of the playoffs. I'm kind of rooting for an all-Missouri World Series. The Chargers are off to a strong start; let's see how long they can maintain it....


Jul. 28th, 2014 12:55 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Well, I frittered away that first week, mostly playing Skyrim. (I'm trying to collect copies of all of the books - not spellbooks, and not journals - for my library. There are 352 of them. I've got all but 70 now. Urag the Librarian has been a big help.) I'm making progress this week, though. Paid a couple of bills, made arrangements for lab manuals for this fall, more to come....

Those wasps are still buzzing the trash bin; I got stung again yesterday, on the back of my wrist. It itches like crazy, and steroid cream doesn't seem to be helping much.

The last couple of weeks I've gone back to recipes I've made before, but this week I'm making pork/mushroom spaghetti sauce. Love my slow-cooker!

An LMB listie recommended a book on late Roman history to me; the copies available via Amazon are exorbitantly priced, so I checked it out of the university library. Haven't looked at it yet; I hope to get into it during this break, as soon as I finish the book on the Crimean War.


Jul. 2nd, 2014 06:46 pm
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
My mood has improved somewhat. Contributory factors:

1) The Padres just completed a three-game sweep of the Reds - their first three-game sweep since last September. Granted, they only got one hit in the first game, and only scored one run - without any hits - but the other guys didn't score at all, so.... Kennedy pitched well yesterday, and the bats awoke for an 8-2 win, and Tyson Ross got his first career shutout today. (Rene Rivera hitting a three-run single. Yeah, I've never heard of that one before. The runners were going on the pitch, and the center fielder fell down.) It ain't that much, but the way this season's gone, it's cause for celebration.

2) I finished the Skyrim database project, and have put it into action in my current game. There are still some bugs, both in code and data, but I'm getting them straightened out. Basically, the db helps me keep track of what-all I've done, what I can do next, etc. - makes for a more efficient game. It's going well so far.

3) This is probably bad of me, but Summer Semester ends on the 27th, after which I have a full month off before the next semester begins. (I should probably use it looking after medical matters, mine and the dogs'.)

Not everything is happymaking (:snarls in the direction of the Supreme Court:), but I'm not going to dwell on that just now.

Good Things

May. 4th, 2014 08:01 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
1. The Padres won today, snapping a four-game losing streak.

2. I managed (after some puzzling failures) to set up an account with the Shop'n'Save Pharmacy and order the refill of my prescription on-line, complete with e-mail notification when it was ready.

3. The weather is finally spring-like: 70s F today, 80s tomorrow and for several days after.

4. I've overcome a roadblock in the Skyrim project, and am moving forward on one of the two most complex parts.

5. I've begun reading Pepys' Diary; the main interest so far is the fluctuation of public opinion in the period between the fall of Tumbledown Dick and the Restoration. Shall we support Richard (Cromwell), George (Monk), or Charles (Stuart)? (I've only made it into mid-March, 1660. This is going to take a while....)

6. I'll be giving finals on Tuesday, which is also the day of the department's Cinco (plus one) de Mayo potluck, celebrating the end of the semester. The diff. geo. take-homes are due Thursday. By sometime Friday, I'll be on break.

7. I'm not always tired anymore!


May. 2nd, 2014 10:20 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
1. Yesterday, someone unidentified left a pound of Ethiopian coffee beans in my pigeonhole. It can't be a bribe, since it was unsigned, but it had to come from someone who knew that I like that particular strain. Not many people around here do....

2. Several times lately the dogs, going out in the yard for a romp, have surprised a rabbit. So far, it's always managed to escape, but I fear me a fur-and-blood moment at some point.

3. I gave my last lecture of the term last night. I'm not tremendously pleased with my performance this semester, though there were some good moments. Losing a week to the hospital didn't help, of course. I did manage to squeeze in a highly-compressed account of the Logicist/Formalist/Intuitionist dispute in my Math 400 class, at least. I've handed out the take-home final in differential geometry, and I'll probably write the finals for the other two classes today.

4. The Skyrim database project is proving surprisingly challenging. Among other things, I want the database to keep track of which quests my character is currently engaged in and which could be entered upon immediately; the prerequisites to the various quests differ enough in kind to make this a bit difficult. (You must have completed this quest / attained this skill level / completed any three quests from this list / started this quest and not finished either of these two / started but aborted this quest / found your way into this location / entered this city four times ....)

5. I'm rereading Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, and it occurs to me that Ivan and Tej could have presented a valid argument in favor of their divorce suit, namely, the fact that the marriage took place under duress. Of course, the fact that Tej stayed with Ivan for weeks afterward might have vitiated the argument; but, then again, there were the bounty-hunters....

6. It's a mistake I've made myself, but the word is "frustum", not "fustrum" or "frustrum". (Feeling a bit frustated, me.)


stoutfellow: Joker (Default)

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