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A nifty new tool: yWriter5

Good morning!

I just happened upon this program the other day, and so far I've been quite impressed. yWriter is a novel/fiction project writing/outline/management tool. It helps organize a larger writing project (I'm currently working on importing "Marian's Road").

What I find most useful is that it has built-in lists of characters, locations, etc. You can use these, in conjunction with its "project" reporting tools, to see who is in any given scene, where it takes place, and even what time it happened. I'm still getting used to the program, and expect it will take me a while before I learn all of its features and how best to use them.

Even now, though, I've already found it extremely useful to help PLAN work that I haven't completed yet. For example, there's a critical chapter of "Marian's Road" I haven't written. BUT, I can put the chapter structure, and even the specific as-yet-unwritten scenes into the larger project, with all the appropriate planning notes, etc. You could sketch out the structure of an entire story, and then go in and write individual scenes as you might be inspired, without losing sight of your overall plan. Heck, I'll get a lot of use out it just remembering all my character names for me! :)

The program is available FREE from this site: http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html

The author happily accepts donations, and offers bonuses for COMPLETELY OPTIONAL program registration. If you're working on (or planning) a larger writing project, I think you will find this useful. Happy writing!

Rochndil, still sticking letters together...


Good evening!

While I've no intention of abandoning any of my existing internet haunts, I wanted to put in a small plug for my new spot. Writing.com is really pretty cool, I've been enjoying the place and the community quite a bit. My portfolio is located here: Visit My Portfolio @ Writing.Com

If you should consider signing up (which isn't necessary to read stuff), please use this link, so I can get credit for it: http://www.Writing.Com?rfrid=rochndil

Rochndil, who still writes stuff offline and then copy-posts it...

Wow, I'll take that!

I write like
Neil Gaiman

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I wish I was half as productive, not to mention successful.

Big surprise!

You were born during a Full moon

- what it says about you -

You've spent your life in the middle of things, whether it's between people who oppose each other, ideas that oppose each other, or places that are very different. You're very aware of perspectives outside the norm and good at anticipating how different people will see a situation. You value second opinions, because they give you a feeling of balance. You don't have a single group of friends and the people you spend time with may not have a lot in common with each other.

What phase was the moon at on your birthday? Find out at Spacefem.com


Furry Survey

Roleplay convergences

Good morning!

First off, some good news. It looks like the repair to the (almost brand new) refrigerator is a success, at least so far. I'll have to watch the freezer compartment for icing going forward.

As many of you probably know, the LOTRO (Lord Of The Rings Online) game has gone FTP (Free To Play) just a week or so ago. I've been playing it off and on, and while I'm not all that far (19 levels into a 65-level game), I'm generally impressed. The interface is decent, the server(s) run smoothly, and now that the hubub over the FTP release is over, web access is much improved. There is a great deal of "free" content available before you start to run into "pay-only" material, although there are occasional nudges to purchase one thing or another. If you're a Tolkien fan or just looking for a decent free MMORPG experience, I'd definitely recommend giving it a try.

This reminded me Iron Crown, creators of my beloved Rolemaster, also produced (for many years) the MERP (Middle Earth Role-Playing) game, at least until licensing issues with the Tolkien Family Foundation interrupted. I've never before given much though to collecting these materials, because of their often outrageous prices, but I may do so as time and budget allows.

I finally finished reading through my copy of Rolemaster Companion VI (one I had missed before), and the VERY last major section was about CEATS (Combat Environment Activity Tracking System). I'd seen information about this system on the ICE website, since one of my goals is to re-create and improve on the time-tracking system we used in my old group. Now having read through the original CEATS rules, I think I can definitely use that as a starting point to customize my own system.

Just last night, after walking the dogs, I had to grab a new book for bedside reading (since I just finished Companion VI last night). Since I'd never read it, I grabbed Martial Arts Companion (which I got for a STEAL on Ebay). There were rule systems in that volume that I'd heard about a good deal, but never read, so I thought I'd take the plunge. I've barely passed the intro so far, but already it's provided me something REALLY useful. There's a whole section in there about historic/real-world martial arts traditions, and I was needing some background on that for one of the next parts of Marian's Road - where, amazingly enough, she learns martial arts!

That's really a remarkable coincidence, since ANOTHER part of that story requires me making a whole town. Now, from a narrative standpoint, I could just wing it, but it occurred to me that if I was going to the trouble to make up all these characters and this complex setting, it would take only SLIGHTLY more effort to actually make it an RPG setting. This would have real benefits in the narrative in the areas of believability and internal consistency. Not to mention that it will allow me to mix together two of my divergent lines of interest. Sometime soon I need to start drawing maps of Shaunavon. I think I've still got some hex paper around somewhere.

So, it's a really funny mix of coincidence and convergence this last little while. It just goes to show, though, that you never can tell how things might hook up, or how useful RPGs can be!

Rochndil, doing the work thing...

The "Old House"

Whew, what a week.

Opal and I drove up to Asheville, and met with Leo, who flew all the way down from Minnesota. We cleared junk, trash, furniture, and recovered the occasional treasure from Opal's ancestral home.

Some of the highlights of the trip include:

- Recovering the front porch.
- Discovering that the linoleum in Opal's old bedroom was laid in 1950.
- Replacing the section of rotten flooring in Opal's old bedroom - the rest appears sound.
- Gutting the bathroom and replacing the floor and joists completely.
- Cleaning and properly seating the toilet (it's level even though the floor is NOT) - flushes with a bucket (no water yet), but that's still an improvement!

In total we cleared out the porch, 1.75 bedrooms, the bathroom, and the "step up" room. Our next trip should allow us to finally get the rear portions of the house cleared out, so those floors (and their framing) can be replaced. THEN we can install new plumbing and actually get the shower and such working again.

Rolemaster Express

Good morning!

I know I don't post nearly as often as I should, but usually there's not much going on in my life that's interesting enough to write about. Slogging through one week after another working and paying bills just isn't that interesting.

BUT, I did get to do something a bit different this week. While serving my civic duty as a juror (I never got picked), I had a LOT of time to kill, and no PC access (which always provides a way to waste an infinite amount of time). So, I got some reading done, and in addition to hacking through some of my magazine backlog, I also read the base Rolemaster Express (RME) book.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the company and system, Rolemaster is the SUPERB RPG produced by Iron Crown Enterprises. The system has gone through many changes since its inception, and RME is the latest. This ruleset is a simplification and condensation of the base Rolemaster Classic (RMC) rules (which hail back to RM2), and its creation has a dual purpose. First, it offers an excellent introduction to the game system, especially since it's packaged into a single slim (and very inexpensive!) book, complete with a starter adventure. Second, it serves to demonstrate that the system does NOT have to be mind-bogglingly complex, despite its reputation (but I *LIKE* mind-bogglingly complex!).

The great thing is that, while this ruleset is very condensed and simplified, it IS still Rolemaster, and transitioning from the RME rules to RMC or Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying (RMFRP) is quite simple.

I personally prefer the most complex ruleset, RMFRP, but I've played the older and slightly simpler RM2 for many years. I have very fond memories of those many late-night sessions, and hope to become an active gamer again one of these days.

My helm is off to Iron Crown, and all their astoundingly dedicated staff and contributors for a job well done. Even from a technical standpoint (and you know I can't ever take off my glasses-of-proofreading-true), the book is very good. I saw one small technical error and a couple of proofreading mistakes, but considering the scale of the job, and the generally poor quality of publications in these days of on-demand printing, I still have to give it top marks for content AND presentation.

Great job folks! Now I just need to get somewhere to collar a couple of young and impressionable gamers, and show them what a REAL RPG is like.

Rochndil, long-time Rolemaster and Iron Crown fan...

Geek list - stolen from Axiomaxiom

If it's bold, it applies to me:

THINK YOU'RE A GEEK? Can you/have you:

1. Properly secure a wireless router. - But why bother? Wires are better!
2. Crack the WEP key on a wireless router.
3. Leech Wifi from your neighbor.
4. Screw with Wifi leeches.
5. Setup and use a VPN.
6. Work from home or a coffee shop as effectively as you do at the office.
7. Wire your own home with Ethernet cable.
8. Turn a web camera into security camera.
9. Use your 3G phone as a Wi-Fi access point.
10. Understand what “There’s no Place Like” means.
11. Identify key-loggers.
12. Properly connect a TV, Tivo, XBox, Wii, and Apple TV so they all work together with the one remote.
13. Program a universal remote.
14. Swap out the battery on your iPod/iPhone.
15. Benchmark Your Computer
16. Identify all computer components on sight.
17. Know which parts to order from NewEgg.com, and how to assemble them into a working PC.
18. Troubleshoot any computer/gadget problem, over the phone.
19. Use any piece of technology intuitively, without instruction or prior knowledge.
20. How to irrecoverably protect data.
21. Recover data from a dead hard drive.
22. Share a printer between a Mac and a PC on a network.
23. Install a Linux distribution.
24. Remove a virus from a computer.
25. Dual (or more) boot a computer.
26. Boot a computer off a thumb drive.
27. Boot a computer off a network drive.
28. Replace or repair a laptop keyboard.
29. Run more than two monitors on a single computer.
30. Successfully disassemble and reassemble a laptop.
31. Know at least 10 software easter eggs off the top of your head.
32. Bypass a computer password on all major operating systems. Windows, Mac, Linux
33. Carrying a computer cleaning arsenal on your USB drive.
34. Bypass content filters on public computers.
35. Protect your privacy when using a public computer.
36. Surf the web anonymously from home.
37. Buy a domain, configure bind, apache, MySQL, php, and Wordpress without Googling a how-to.
38. Basic *nix command shell knowledge with the ability to edit and save a file with vi.
39. Create a web site using vi.
40. Transcode a DVD to play on a portable device.
41. Hide a file in an image using steganography.
42. Knowing the answer to life, the universe and everything. For another 11 months or so, I *AM* the answer!
43. Share a single keyboard and mouse between multiple computers without a KVM switch.
44. Google obscure facts in under 3 searches. Bonus point if you can use I Feel Lucky.
45. Build amazing structures with LEGO and invent a compelling back story for the creation.
46. Understand that it is LEGO, not Lego, Legos, or Lego’s.
47. Build a two story house out of LEGO, in monochrome, with a balcony.
48. Construct a costume for you or your kid out of scraps, duct tape, paper mâché, and imagination.
49. Be able to pick a lock.
50. Determine the combination of a Master combination padlock in under 10 minutes.
51. Assemble IKEA furniture without looking at the instructions. Bonus point if you don’t have to backtrack.
52. Use a digital SLR in full manual mode.
53. Do cool things to Altoids tins.
54. Be able to construct paper craft versions of space ships.
55. Origami! Bonus point for duct tape origami. (Ductigami)
56. Fix anything with duct tape, chewing gum and wire.
57. Knowing how to avoid being eaten by a grue.
58. Know what a grue is.
59. Understand where XYZZY came from, and have used it.
60. Play any SNES game on your computer through an emulator.
61. Burn the rope.
62. Know the Konami code, and where to use it.
63. Whistle, hum, or play on an iPhone, the Cantina song.
64. Learning to play the theme songs to the kids favorite TV shows.
65. Solve a Rubik’s Cube. - it helps if you cheat!
66. Calculate THAC0.
67. Know the difference between skills and traits.
68. Explain special relativity in terms an eight-year-old can grasp.
69. Recite pi to 10 places or more.
70. Be able to calculate tip and split the check, all in your head.
71. Explain that the colours in a rainbow are roygbiv.
72. Understand the electromagnetic spectrum - xray, uv, visible, infrared, microwave, radio.
73. Know the difference between radiation and radioactive contamination.
74. Understand basic electronics components like resistors, capacitors, inductors and transistors.
75. Solder a circuit while bottle feeding an infant. (lead free solder please.)
76. The meaning of technical acronyms.
77. The coffee dash, blindfolded (or blurry eyed). Coffee [cream] [sugar]. In under a minute.
78. Build a fighting robot.
79. Program a fighting robot.
80. Build a failsafe into a fighting robot so it doesn’t kill you.
81. Be able to trace the Fellowship’s journey on a map of Middle Earth.
82. Know all the names of the Dwarves in The Hobbit.
83. Understand the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel.
84. Know where your towel is and why it is important.
85. Re-enact the parrot sketch.
86. Know the words to The Lumberjack Song.
87. Reciting key scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
88. Be able to recite at least one Geek Movie word for word.
89. Know what the 8th Chevron does on a Stargate and how much power is required to get a lock.
90. Be able to explain why it’s important that Han shot first.
91. Know why it is just wrong for Luke and Leia to kiss.
92. Stop talking Star Wars long enough to get laid.
93. The ability to name actors, characters and plotlines from the majority of sci-fi movies produced since 1968.
94. Cite Mythbusters when debunking a myth or urban legend.
95. Sleep with a Cricket bat next to your bed.
96. Have a documented plan on what to do during a zombie or robot uprising.
97. Identify evil alternate universe versions of friends, family, co-workers or self.
98. Be able to convince TSA that the electronic parts you are carrying are really not a threat to passengers.
99. Talk about things that aren’t tech related.
100. Get something on the front page of Digg.

I just have to add this, which I find to be a rather more important list:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert A. Heinlein

I'd say I'm about 19-for-21, though some of it remains theoretical. -:)

Rochndil, who ain't much for babies...


Email address change

Greetings, to both of my watchers! -:)

I'm changing my Email address (must be part of that 42 thing) from @comcast.net to @att.net. FYI, Comcast's customer service SUCKS, and their technical service ain't much better. We've had three months of hell with signal problems that they either can't, or WON'T, fix. So, bye-bye cable guys!

DSL is already installed, tested, and running. It ain't perfect either, but the frequency and severity of errors is much lower, as is the price.

SO, for anyone that actually has my Email in their addy book, make sure to update it from @comcast.net to @att.net - I've also set up an @gmail.com address, but I don't really use it much.

Thanks for reading my blather!

Rochndil, with about 726 updates to go...