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In every back to the future film, there's a bit 2/3 of the way through where everything is sorted, all they need to do is get back to the time machine and go home, Marty has escaped Biff and is walking off without getting beaten up, and Biff calls out, "What's the matter McFly? Chicken?"

And it's funny, because we all know he COULD walk away, but we all know he WON'T.

And yes, I never WANTED him to go back. He was the protagonist, he'd triumph if he did. But walking away didn't seem especially cowardly, it seemed smart.

But that's because standing up for himself was part of his core identity, but not mine.

Mine is more "be clever". I don't especially care about being cowardly. But I find it really really really hard to back away if someone implies something is OBVIOUSLY right and it's a waste of time to explain it to me. Learning to say "please explain" or to walk away, has been a long journey. (I have inoculated myself against some of the most common scams.)
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Playing backgammon with dad, after day at Cambridgeshire crocodile and ostrich farm! (No skydiving :))

If all your pieces are in your home quadrant and you've started taking then off, and you can't move your furthest back piece because it would land on a point with two of your opponent's, must/can't you bear off your second furthest back piece?
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Poly speed dating again tomorrow! In 3s. I managed to escape doing the programming for the matching algorithm this time :)

What should I tell people about why they should like me?
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Present from ghoti (thank you!) It's a really really pretty game. You have a 9x9 quilt board and collect patches in various shapes (like various sized tetris pieces) and try to fit them into your board. Each patch has a cost, and you can only buy one of the next three available, so you have to trade off which ones are worth it right now.

But all of the things have a really nice hand-stitched feel.

And it's explicitly for two-player, when we don't have enough two-player games.

Catan Junior


This really captured the feel of Catan while being really quick to pick up. I liked the pirate flavour. I'm not sure how much replayability it would have if all the players were fairly experienced, but I really liked playing it with K and Ms 7.
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See http://ghoti.livejournal.com/798337.html

For the cotton anniversary of our first date, we went to the Anchor Sutton Gault and it was really nice and we did good communication about things.

But also, I made a thing! In honour of the Parasol Protectorate books ghoti introduced me to, or maybe Firefly, I made a steampunk parasol. I bought a folding lace parasol, and took some cogs, and attached some to the spokes, and some round each panel of the parasol. And used a picture hook pin to attach one to the top and bottom of the shaft, sized at just narrower than the diameter, and loosened just enough they don't feel loose but do spin.

Having entirely cogs that are fixed without spinning seemed sad, these were great.

And I was really pleased, because I'm rarely able to actually *make* something.
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Have I talked about this recently?

It feels like there's two sorts of advice. Or maybe a spectrum of advice with an axis which I have particularly noticed.

Some advice is implicitly obvious once it's pointed out. If you say "turn capslock off" when someone can't see why their password doesn't work, it's hard to reject if you know what capslock does at all. Sometimes it's obvious once you try it, like "try pressing capslock" when you don't know what it capslock does.

Other advice is implicitly "you won't be able to tell whether it's working or not, just trust me and keep doing it". Anything fairly long term, any "do this every day and you'll be more organised/fitter/healthier/have less chance of X".

And some advice is somewhere between.

I realised aphorisms are generally the _first_ sort of advice. Sometimes "the early bird catches the worm". Sometimes "measure twice, cut once". But when you *think* "are there obvious risks to delaying? are there obvious risks to moving too quickly?" it often obvious which is more risky, and you know to avoid that. (And in a minority of cases it's not clear and its more of a judgement call.)

But I think those aphorisms are still useful, not because they're ALWAYS true, but because they're a useful reminder to consider them when you might otherwise have forgotten to.

But I think we usually need to treat advice like this. Like, it should usually be obvious WHY it's better. Otherwise, it might be worth bearing in mind as something that *might* be useful, but not be treated as absolute.

There are times when it's useful to adopt something without understanding. If you can't see any clear pros and cons, doing it the way a more experienced person does is OFTEN good, because they probably wouldn't do that if there were obvious problems, and there may be non-obvious benefits which they can't immediately explain.

But I think, when someone gives advice, it's worth considering, "does this make sense to me"? And if not, "is it likely to be safer than what I was doing anyway".
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OK, Jehova's Witnesses. NOW we're fully moved in.

They were really polite so I didn't have any desire or energy to get into an argument. Although I wish I'd pushed back on what I think are of the risks of harm from actively proselytising, and the things that I think may be harmful in JW generally (without getting into a big theological debate, or criticising these two ladies).
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The Intuitionist

At some point, I realised I had a similar problem reading these two very different books.

The Intuitionist is very interesting. It's set in something like an alt-history New York. There is a powerful guild of elevator inspectors, who have made building skyscrapers possible at all. (I think that's parallel but different to the real history?)

It has a lot to say about integration, about the protagonist is one of the few female inspectors and the second black inspector. In fact, I'm pretty sure it has a lot *more* to say than I was able to follow at the time.

However, I think the important themes were initially obscured to me because they are presented via a front of a factional schism between two schools of elevator inspectorate, the intuitionists and the empiricists. Intuitionists ride an elevator and intuit the state of any problems. Empiricists use instruments for everything. And I think this is probably a metaphor for something important I don't get yet.

But I'm rather hung up on the fact that I know pretty well which works in the real world. There are failure modes of both too much process and too little process. And times when too much process is a big problem, and guiding intuition is much more valuable. But when it comes to safety inspection, methodical measurement is really good, and intuition is really bad.

So I'm really not sure, but I think "intuitionists" are supposed to be "some progressive, successful but controversial faction" but it took me a while to realise that, because what they SAID rang really false to me.

And that split ALSO has a lot to say about racial equality, and I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be reading that into the book as well. In moderation, empirical tests are good for equality. If you have a test related to actually doing the job, focusing on that, not gut feeling, can be very effective for levelling the playing field. cf. orchestras which do auditions with the performer behind a screen. Higher levels of supposedly objective tests are often an impediment to equality though -- see every employer who doesn't SAY "we want someone from an upper-middle-class caucasian background, preferable straight male", but DOES say "do you have qualification X which is expensive but not really directly helpful". However, "gut feeling" is generally ATROCIOUS here. Occasionally it's really good, when someone actively wants to hire under-appreciated talent. But normally "gut feeling" means "I can give free reign to all my prejudices and deny it if I'm called out".

Fifty Shades of Grey

If you ignore the bondage aspects, Fifty Shades of Grey follows a fairly traditional romance outline. It has some parts that bother me a lot, like "omg stalking and controlling behaviour are so sexy". But those are actually really common in many romance novels. I think those are a bad model for a relationship, and it's bad that stories tend to DEFAULT to having them. But also, it's something lots of people fantasise about, and I think it's important that "fantasising about romance, even if it isn't a healthy model for reality" is accepted as much as many many many other books which contain ok-for-fiction-but-bad-for-reality things eg. crime, death, etc.

I think some bits are clearly intended as fantasy. Most people want to *imagine* being stalked by a millionaire, but want that to actually *happen* only in careful moderation. Although the less familiar you are with that as a common romance fantasy, the more you're like "but that would actually be horrible".

Other bits are intended as mostly realistic. She drinks coffee. If she drank bleach every morning, all the readers would legitimately say "WTF? Why is that in your book??" And "it's fiction, I can do what I want" isn't really a helpful answer.

But the bondage stuff is somewhere between. I think to some people, it's clearly supposed to be fantasy. No-one would EVER do ANYTHING remotely like that in real life, right? So it doesn't matter if it's a random mix of mostly-safe-for-beginner stuff, and physically-safe-but-a-big-red-flag stuff, and really unwise stuff. It's all just "let's pretend". But to many people, they don't want to be tied up ACTUALLY against their will. But they DO like being tied up, and that's something lots of people actually DO. And it's not UNREALISTIC that the only person the protagonist's met who's openly into bondage is a dangerous control freak bully with unhealthy relationship habits and no idea of the difference between safe and dangerous, but it's UNREPRESENTATIVE, and it's irresponsible to say "this is what bondage is", when some people will read that and say, "that's obviously dangerous, lets ban it" and other people will say, "that seems fun, lets try it".

And the author could have gone in either direction. Grey could have kidnapped the protagonist -- then everyone knows that even if it's hot in fantasy, it's not a good model for real life. Or he could have had a passing familiarity with how to ACTUALLY do bdsm, even if he departed from it. That would make a lot of sense for the story, if he was known as a bdsm top who didn't care much about consent. And sure, for many people, that's the ONLY sort of BDSM-er they've met or can imagine. But it's still a problem to say that that's all there is ANYWHERE.

But the book bypasses all that. It's like, "deep dark secret, check", obviously we don't need to care about the legal or physical safety of any of the REAL WORLD PEOPLE that "dark secret" applies to, because it's just their for my titillation, right? :(

Other books

And I think that might stand out in other books. There's things which the author thought they could gloss over, which really stand out to me. And sometimes, once I learn what to ignore, I see the strengths of the rest of the book. And sometimes, they're unavoidably central to *most* people, but the minority who can ignore them really love the rest of the book.

But I suspect the same probably applies to big themes too. That there's books where the big theme is obscured by something that stood out *to me*. Or vice versa. But I'm not sure what examples would be.
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Q. Do you have any advice for tourists to England?
A. Be passionate about something in your life and don't use CVS.
Q. ...
A. Do you have a problem?
Q. Sorry, I meant "Do you have any relevant advice for tourists to England?"
A. Sorry, I meant "Do you have a relevant problem?"
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I went to the classics museum again one lunchtime. And caught a Growlithe! :)

But I also admired the statues.

I think I mostly re-absorbed the impressions of the ones I was really interested in the last time.

The sprawling faun, so sensuous and lascivious.

The bronze boxer, weary and bashed up, hand wraps (?) and small cuts inlaid in a different metal. I wonder what the story is of someone who said "I need a statue of an exhausted boxer about to make a final stand"?

And I seemed to remember a giant head with curly hair, almost the size of a human, but I think my memory exaggerated, or it was moved :)
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I read the first book, Leviathan Wakes, a little while back, and recently got round to reading the second and third. Someone online said book #5 was really good, so we'll see what I think.

What I really like is the setting -- medium future solar system SF, when Mars has been settled, and Earth and Mars are the solar system's superpowers, but humans are still scattered round the belt and a few other places doing mining and research and so on, with a varying tension in how they're loyal to the inner planet governments they have almost no connection with.

It's old school in a way I like, to imagine humanity will eventually make inroads into the solar system, rather than assuming it will never happen, or will only happen by some magic alien tech which is dropped onto us. It feels like, it's at an *earlier* phase than some other books, in that we've settled *one* other planet, and some other asteroids and moons, and the situation is evolving from there.

Earth and Mars have military spaceships, bu they're like aircraft carriers -- they've rarely been tested seriously against OTHER serious military spaceships, only against smaller stuff. And they really exist as a last line of defence for the settled planets which might be futile.

Of course, into the middle of this, they DO drop some alien technology, which is simultaneously an incomprehensible physics-defying threat, but also automated and uncontrolled and potentially an opportunity if you're VERY VERY careful.

The second and third books are about as good as the first (which is good but not superb for a series :)). They still talk about the settled human places and the politics between, though it's evolved a lot. And I wish there were more of it. The alien tech is still there, not sidelined, still central to the plot of each, in what happens next, but not completely obviating the existing worldbuilding.

A few minor details bother me. "No lightspeed delay" is not impossible like "free energy" it's impossible like "garble warble farble" -- you need to say what it MEANS before you can attempt to claim it's something which has happened. *Different* details bothered other friends.

The second and third books are *better* at a varied representation. The first book focuses on Miller, a hardboiled detective archetype, and Holden, who has almost the same personality but runs a spaceship instead of being a detective. The second and third keep Holden but have (I think), an even mix of male and female viewpoint characters, many of which I really like. Although I feel it's still playing catch-up in some ways, like one fo the viewpoints in the third book is an antagonist, who doesn't feel as equal as the others.

And the viewpoints are not always very distinct -- when it's describing what's going on, it's easy to forget who's in theory seeing it. And I feel like something's missing it's hard to put my finger on. Like each character has stuff that happens, but it's not always much of an *arc*, it's sometimes hard to fit "challenges met and overcome" into the plot of the book.
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See previous post: http://cartesiandaemon.livejournal.com/996269.html

I've settled on a name for now, and polished off the teething troubles that made some of the earlier versions a little hard to get started with. And I'm playing it regularly with Liv and Ghoti which is a pretty good sign. I've playtested it with some of the children, with Liv's brother (thank you!) and with Alex and Douglas (thank you!)

What I like

I've said some of this before, but there's quite a lot I'm really pleased about, most of which was there right from the initial idea.

* Some of the feel of robo-ralley
* It's physically compact, the whole thing fits in a pocket
* It's very quick to explain, most people are able to start playing with a minute or so of verbal explanation, and almost never feel "how should I have known that"
* Each turn is easy to play, it's rarely hard to know what to do
* It's *physically* easy to play. You don't need to hold a hand of cards, each turn is quite short.
* Hits sweet spot of "few decisions, every one is meaningful"

Now, some of those are more obvious than others. I think being physically easy to play is useful for children, and a lesser extent non-gamers. But is mostly irrelevant to people used to holding hands of cards for every game. But I am reaching a point where some of the goals conflict, and I need to decide to go one way, the other, or try to make versions that work for both.

Overall direction

There are some minor things I'm still resolving:

* I have an idea for an improved start row that works for more than two players, but I need to try it. (Multiple toys can be placed in a queue to enter the board behind any of the four rows, but can't enter the board pushing another toy.) It will still be a bit congested the first couple of turns, and I don't want a big risk of someone not being able to do anything.

* I need to test with more people, and get a wider baseline of experience

There are some things I know I can do, but I'm holding off on:

* Variant rules
* More cards, or more complicated cards

With both, there are lots of things that might be fun, and I welcome more suggestions, but I want to winnow out the idea that might improve the larger goals below before branching outward.

But the two biggest questions follow, in their own sections.

Good to great

Right now, it seems like the game is fun, which is a very good place to be, but I think I need to evaluate what works best, and anything which doesn't really contribute, and see if I can amplify that into *really really really fun*.

Often you can't, often you have a game that's already as good as it can get. But it's always worth trying. Partly because a game which is really really really fun to *you* is probably necessary before other people are interested at all.

Strategic complexity

Here is a point of divergence. My main playtesters are enthusiastic about the game as-is, and I basically want to leave it alone without any major changes.

But I feel that I'd enjoy it more if there were a little more what I think of as strategy. Things like:
* a greater incentive to place tiles several moves ahead, instead of usually right in front of a toy
* more potential to set up fun combos with "move twice" squares and "extra toy" squares, where they naturally allow maybe a couple of turns before the opponent breaks them
* more potential to establish winding paths, where there's a reason to follow them more often instead of just automatically overlaying a straight path

I'm not sure about my games evening playtesters. I think they'd enjoy that change if it were possible, but they weren't looking for it and weren't sure if it would be possible. Does that sound about right?

I am interested in trying that in parallel to testing the current version, even if I end up deciding it doesn't work out.

I don't have any firm ideas, but ideas I've considered:

* More magnetic latches, or features that function similar to that, so there's more incentive to plan ahead and to go round things. (Need to avoid just piling on locks on bad squares on the start row, though. Maybe more locks with "choose direction" arrows on?)
* Instead of having a linear race to the end of the board, have the game be to pick up presents placed on random tiles, or to knock opponent into pits. (Thanks Douglas)
* Lock counters, where the players can place to lock a tile in place (probably need some way to remove, but maybe not as easy as placing?) (either move lock every turn, or have a fixed number for the game, or something) (or just randomly happen every so often?)
* restriction on playing tile overwriting tile opponent has just placed
* restriction on playing tile directly in front of toy
* make plastic tiles not cards and have restriction on playing based on number of tiles already there (eg. each turn roll a dice, may only place on stacks that high or lower) (playtest by twisting stack so number of underlying tiles is visible) (I just thought of this last week, but I'm really interested to know how it would work)

Do any of those sound attractive?

Complete RULES (05 Sep 2016) )
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As best as I can tell, the pokemon go scanner reports whether a pokemon is within 200m or not. It updates about every 15s (?) When a pokemon is within about 50m (?) it appears.

My current strategy is, when I see a pokemon appear, continue in the same direction, assuming it's more likely I've walked into its radius than that it just spawned, and that it's more likely I've entered its radius closer to head on that obliquely. Mathmos, does that sound true?

If I walk about 200m and it isn't there, I try to curve round sideways. If it disappears again, I backtrack, and knowing two points approx 200m away from it, head for one of the points of those triangles.

But I'm wondering, would it be better that when I see it appear, I immediately turn sideways in the hope of finding two nearby points on the edge of its radius, and then extrapolate a point perpendicular to a line between them? That's harder, because it means I deliberately walk away from it. But maybe it would be quicker to narrow down where it is?

If there weren't a noisy gps and periodic updates, and those numbers were all precise, what would be the best strategy? It reminds me a little of Dr Leader's "you are trapped in a gladiatorial arena with someone who runs at exactly the same speed as you" puzzles, but hopefully simpler :)
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What I like about Ingress

You can make plans and follow them. You can say, "I have ten minutes, let me see if I can grab keys for these four many portals" or "Can I fill this hole in fielding". In pokemon, you can't really set out to *do* something most of the time.

There's a big incentive to visit different and out-of-the-way portals which is really interesting. Getting keys for them, or linking to them, mean the portals are *different*, not just "go to whichever ones are closest".

You can look up where's an interesting place to go to.

What I like about Pokemon Go

Filling the pokedex and collecting high-level pokemon gives you a form of progress which you can always increase. In Ingress, the only form of permanent progress was levelling-up, which was fun at low levels, but it was about conquering territory which was always transitory.

There's three teams, not two. I don't know why, but that seems to make it a lot more fun, both in how gyms change hands, and in meeting people.

The flavour is really nice, I love seeing different pokemon.

When you get to higher levels, there's not quite such a cliff of "now it's too hard to level up, and there's nothing else to do, there's no point".

Problems I'm starting to have with Pokemon

I've had a *lot* of fun with it. But I am starting to find some problems.

The new scanner sort-of works. It at least tells you what's within 200m. But it seems like that's not *totally* reliable. And it doesn't seem to tell you pokemon in order. But that means, I never have the satisfaction of tracking a pokemon methodically. It's either "walk along the river" or "rush backwards to establish the edge of the circle, then dash in one direction, and either frantically search around 200m from the first point, or reach another edge and triangulate". It's not a *fun* process, it's aggravating.

You don't play only at pokestops.

I mean, it's realistic that you don't get good intermediate indications of progress, you just have to try your best and then wait for success. But getting positive feedback is one of the things that makes games fun!

Now I have most of the pokemon which often spawn nearby, there's a lot less point going for a little walk and capturing some. I used to take a little wander, catch a few, come home. Now it's "go and see if there's a rare one, there isn't". Or, waste a bunch of pokeballs catching pidgeys I don't really need.

And it's hard to *work towards* filling my pokedex. ETA: Either someone tells you where a rare pokemon spawns, or you just wander around and hope. Either way, you get a random success for no reason, followed by a long period of failure.

So I may stop. But I wish it would become possible to start over, while being able to switch back to my original account occasionally. Like, in Ingress, having multiple accounts even if it took time to switch was a big advantage, because you could put multiple high-level resonators on a portal. But in pokemon, it seems like it wouldn't make that much difference. I'm sure I *can* start another account, but it would be nice if it was officially supported, "yes, that's what you're supposed to do, we won't ban you". Maybe with a built-in delay for switching or something.
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I am trying to make cards for a putative board game. Just printed on normal paper is fine for this level of testing.

I have a spreadsheet with a list of card titles and card text. Ideally I would print A4 pages each of which has four cards. Each card would have the title in a larger font and the text in a smaller font. There would be a little spacing, so if the cutting isn't perfect I don't lose any text. I may be getting over-perfectionist here, but ideally the spacing would not need to be in addition to the page margins, I just want a white border, it doesn't need to be printed.

I have libre office. That's supposed to be reasonably good, right? But the mail-merge features seem byzantine. Am I just too tired? Microsoft office was always overly-hlepy, but functional, for this sort of thing. Or is there any command-line based solution which is better?

I feel like it's at the "shouldn't be that hard" stage. I know I CAN figure out how to do it in libre office, but I want to know if something else is likely to be easier[1].

[1] One of my pet hates is that when you're pretty sure you can't do something a different way, people jump all over you saying "no, don't do it like that", and you have to rehash all the trade-offs you've already made before they're willing to believe you actually had a reason for doing it that way. But if you're NOT sure what the best way is, and ask, people rush to tell you "the way you've already chosen, the next step isn't that hard, it's X" and yes, thank you, now that takes 2 minutes not 20 minutes, but it hasn't really solved my problem if I want to do that for all twenty steps or not...
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I took an afternoon trip to Ely. After a cold morning the weather was fairly cooperative, the riverside garden bits are really pretty.

I tested my new phone mount for my car windscreen on a fairly easy journey, and it seemed to work quite well navigating with google maps navigation mode. It's probably not quite as good as my satnav, except that it has an up-to-date road network, uses an up-to-date touchscreen where it's easy to search for things, and steadily improves over time.

Does anyone know how to temporarily disable all notificaitons on android? When I'm using maps to navigate, I don't want random apps interrupting.

I introduced scribb1e and mavislovesmaths+samholloway to each other, and they introduced me to an awesome bookshop.

And we caught a Mr Mime, and some other pokemon.

And I saw a duck and a pile of yellow ducklings all crossing the road in single file!
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I have conflicting impulses to argue with people's premises vs arguing with the conclusions. If their conclusions seem really wrong, I immediately have an impulse to explain why I think that's wrong (which is sometimes useful, even if often asking for more detail on why they think that is usually more constructive).

Conversely, if I'm less emotionally involved, my instinct is to work forward step-by-step from premises we agree with, completely discounting any conclusions until I can understand every step towards them.

What I'm now realising is that both of those are useful at different times (different to what my instincts tell me). It's futile arguing with conclusions which rest on significantly different premises.

But OTOH, often people hone and refine their argument when their conclusion seems insufficient, in that we may arrive at the same conclusion from different routes, having refined our premises such that they seem different, but might actually fulfil similar purposes from different perspectives.

So it's worth judiciously switching back and forth to check which seems most constructive for a particular subject.


Aug. 12th, 2016 07:18 pm
jack: (Default)
If you shave, what do you use?

Razor? Disposable, or with changeable heads? Or straight razor (ulp)?

With shaving foam, soap, or just water?

In sink, shower or bath?

Electric razor/hair clipper/something else?