Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.014 Robots, modern slavery and slums.

The advancement in the field of robotics has always been a bumpy one. It seems we make some headway and then stall out for a while. This, however, looks like something that could push it towards a steady upward growth of innovation in the field. Using lessons from biology and applying them to robotics in order to give them a more human range of motion.

How about a look at society. In Qatar there are some startling reports of labor abuse among immigrants. Not talking about some random construction jobs either, but about the building of the site for the 2022 World Cup. Everything from seizing passports, withholding pay and working people until they die. At the current rate it is predicted the construction will cost the lives of around 4000 workers. International image at a world event is put before any number of human lives evidently.

Finally there is my favorite for the week. The slums in Asia Dharavi are home to an estimated one million people and it generates profits worth around 500 million dollars. Yes the slums generate a profit of all things. Apparently they recycle the garbage from the rest of the surrounding city and craftsman, laborers and other such folks use what they scavenge to run their own home based mini-factories. Now an architect firm has proposed a building to house the slums in, allowing room for the people to continue doing what they are already doing. There is no ground floor, residents are given 'blocks' of space to build however they want allowing them some design on their own home/workplace. Really you just have to read this AND see the amazing blueprints provided.

See you again next week for three more.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.013 Bitcoins, Dead Drops and Police Ray Guns.

Talk about your anonymous file sharing. Dead Drops creates an interesting way to go about it. Offline public space file sharing ports built into the walls of buildings. Of course there is no telling what may be in there. Could be the latest rip of a current movie or a virus geared to zombie your computer. Ah well you take your chances.

The Dead Drops website

The street will find it's uses for technology. That time has started to come for the Bitcoin (also whats a Cyberpunk Sunday without a Bitcoin article?). Now the homeless are using this online anonymous currency as a way to help survive. Making a few bits worth here and there adds up at the end of the month.

Bitcoin and the homeless.

New police 'toy' currently coming along. Battlefield tested 'ray gun' that disables the electronics and shuts downs a target vehicle. No actual information on if this thing permanently disables all of the electronics on a vehicle, thereby really racking up the damage in the dollar sense. Also nothing about how specific of a target it can hit or if it can also hit vehicles near the target with the same 'shot'.

The Police 'Raygun'.

That's all this week.  Come back next Sunday for another batch.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Read The Damn Book

Time for me to recommend another persons blog post... and there by also recommend their blog as well.

Today it's going to be a post by Anthony Jennings who runs the blog "Read The Damn Book".  There is a lot of WoD discussion going on there so anybody interested in that should tune it.  But he also covers a good variety of topics as well.  Which is where I'm going.

Back on the 14th he posted up his 'Table Rules' for when he runs games and why he uses them.  Eight rules that have helped keep peace at his games and made them all run just that more smoothly.  Now your mileage may vary of course but these are some pretty solid rules I must say.  Although the 'No alcohol' rule wouldn't fly at the gaming table where I've spent some of my best games as a player at.  But hey different strokes and all that. 

Anyways here is the link.

Read The Damn Book: Table Rules

So give them a look and after that give the rest of his blog a look as well.  You might find something that you like.

Friday, September 20, 2013

OSR I want to like you.

I really want to like the OSR movement. Honestly I do. I've really enjoyed some of the product that has come about because of it and met a few really cool people that are pushing the whole idea. But there always has to be that bad with the good. Sometimes the bad just comes forth a little more than anything else. Here's one of the negatives that I've seen rise lately.

Out with anything new. A new game comes along and people pick it apart. But not based on what it does wrong, but on what it does different than a decades old game system. More recently I've seen several OSR minded people rag on Numenera (yeah yeah I know....) because 'they could've simply used a retroclone system and accomplished the same thing, or being unneeded and could've just been a supplement for -insert their favorite OSR game-.

I'm sorry but some of us like new things every now and then. Change can be good, interesting and a pleasant change from the norm. But all to much do I see folks railing on others for liking something that doesn't fall into the old school rule sets. Basically they don't like it and you shouldn't either.  Way to much 'one true wayism' and it feels like dealing with all the other egotistical pundits that thrive on splitting the hobby nowdays.

I like my old red box DnD. It's what I usually use when I run fantasy games. But no way do I think it's the end all be all of game systems for everything. Nor do I think the same for any game system out there what so ever. But apparently that way of thinking isn't all that welcome among some OSR circles.

Ah well just my two cents on the subject. It's probably different than your two cents.... you may have Canadian pennies, or I may have a wheat penny and one of the newer shield ones why you have two others. Or maybe you use yen.....

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Numenera so now I'm a liar

Well so now I'm a fucking liar.  That's just great....

From Tammie at MCG.

"In a previous email you indicated that you had responded to the backer survey and were surprised that your name wasn't listed in Numenera (corebook) as a backer, and I'm sorry to be the bearer of sad news, but I'm afraid you are mistaken. You did not respond to the survey in October 2012, which is the survey from which the names were downloaded."

Like I've said before.  Last penny of mine they well ever see.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Numenera finally an announcement

First off there is evidently a bit of a misunderstanding about something I said on my last blog post:

"As a final note it appears that Shanna Germain is the only person from Monte Cook Games that is even trying to do any sort of damage control or PR about this whole thing.  Probably not an easy task right now but if books don't start showing up soon overseas it's not going to be getting any easier."

Shanna evidently took that as "only doing PR".  Not sure how she took only that away from what I said.  I was trying to point out how she has been the ONLY person to step up and try to communicate with fans and backers about the problems going on.  You go and find a Numenera fan community online and chances are you will find her there as well.

Do I have a bad attitude and very unlikely to trust others?  I'll admit to that.  When I get aggravated about something my attitude goes to hell rather quickly.  I've also been screwed over and lied to by a few game companies out there (7th Circle comes to mind immediately) so I'm hesitant to trust any of them.  And yes most of them appeared to be all about the best of intentions and sincerely caring.

Now on to Numenera fulfillment updates.

Finally a press release from Monte Cook Games about it.  Here is a quick link:

Things I find interesting here.  The fact that retailers, distributors, game shops and even Amazon got their books a couple of weeks ahead of the backers is referred to as a hiccup that occurred in the fulfillment process.  341 orders with no address, mine better not be in that pile because I was told they had my address over two weeks ago.  That there will be more Kickstarters for other games from MCG... no thanks I'll wait and get it cheaper from Amazon if its something that I really want.

Other notes,

More folks overseas are talking about getting their books finally.  Now if only the fulfillment company could figure out where Missouri is.

A 'Your Welcome' to the backers who have contacted and thanked me from making some noise on this issue.

I did not do these blog posts with the intent of doing some sort of damage to MCG as one person suggested.  I doubt anything I say could have much affect on their bottom line.  IF I was doing that then why haven't I linked to these blog posts in the various Numenera communities?  I only linked back to this from my own G+, Twitter and Facebook accounts.  The only community I mentioned them in was the Kickstarter one on G+ that I moderate and now co-own.

Now then hopefully my book will actually reach me.  Then I can trade it off for something I want because currently I have nothing but a bad taste in my mouth because of it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Numenera updates

Well here is a batch of updates regarding the fulfillment fiasco of Numenera.

First off I've apparently attracted some attention to myself... which was actually part of my goal with this.  Now Shanna Germain has responded both on a G+ Kickstarter community I co-own and on facebook as well.  Here is her response on G+:

"Peter: We don't know why you didn't get your book yet, but we are very sorry that's it taken so long. We are Fed-Exing you a new one on Tuesday. If your original book reaches you, please keep it with our compliments and gratitude for your support.

As a side note: I wish I could give you some small idea of how hard we are all busting our asses to get these products out to everyone despite the hurdles of shipping, processing, creating a product, and being the largest RPG Kickstarter to deliver so far. So while I agree that we didn't do a perfect job, it is not for lack of desire or attempt. We are already holding planning sessions on what went wrong and how to fix it for the delivery of the rest of the products. Backers are our first priority and always will be. We just need to get the shipping companies and delivery systems to be on board with that philosophy in the future as well. "

So a copy is supposed to be in the mail to me for sure this Tuesday.  The original book has still not reached my PO box as of today either.  I'm rather sure it never went out the door from their fulfillment company seeing how long ago it was supposed to have been shipped. 

Then right below that another backer in the US spoke up and said he's still waiting on his book as well.  Along with his name not being in the book either because the 'internet glitch' that apparently ate my survey must have ate his as well.  There has been no response to him unless it was via email or private message.

Then over to the Kickstarter comments section we start to see the overseas backers starting to get even more agitated about their lack of a book.  They have also started pointing out something that I said earlier on.  It doesn't take this long to ship overseas.  Having bought sold and traded games with people overseas for over a decade I've always laughed at how long people claim it takes for overseas shipping.

As a final note it appears that Shanna Germain is the only person from Monte Cook Games that is even trying to do any sort of damage control or PR about this whole thing.  Probably not an easy task right now but if books don't start showing up soon overseas it's not going to be getting any easier.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.012 - Weapons, Bitcoins and defy the NSA

What happens when a blockbuster toy creator turns his hand to non-lethal weaponry? Awesomeness ensues. Just look at what the creator of TMX Elmo has made now. Just need to find the 'buy now' button on here.....

The Bitcoin is gaining even more momentum even after the US government started an attempt to crack down on the currency. Now we are getting Bitcoin to cash ATMs. Can't wait to see these things out in the wild.

Bitcoing ATMs coming soon.

NSA spying got you down? Well some folks aren't going to take it laying down and neither should you. Here is a list of nine tips to help secure you privacy online a bit more. While some of them aren't fool proof every bit helps.
See you again with three more links next week.  Till then stay cyber.

Numenera waiting continues...

Another bit from the comments section of the Kickstarter:

"I understand that living in Australia I have to wait longer than usual, but this is another kickstarter I have paid top dollar for only to see the product I helped come to market become available in local stores before I received anything."

But evidently we see them caring more about their future sales then they do about taking care of the problems they have right now:

"A big focus of the MCG summit is to resolve the shipping issues for future products."

"We are working hard to ensure your next fulfillment experience from MCG, which for many of you will be the awesomely creepy 96-page adventure, The Devil’s Spine, goes smoothly."

But hey they have a MCG summit and apparently can't respond to emails on time right now and will be behind on them when they come back.  So the summit is someplace with no internet access and none of them have iPads or smart phones?

Also the people who backed the Torment video game were getting theirs as early as the 3rd of September.  Twelve days ago.  Which is plenty of enough time for somebody to ship a book overseas.  Trust me I know, I've sold and bought books from people overseas before.  Either the fulfillment company is not telling MCG what is really going on or there is something MCG isn't telling it's backers.

Also I've had a few backers jump up to defend MCG.  They are all backers who have received their copies by the way.  Like this guy who has had his for weeks now:

"I'm happy to get this product produced... That's why I backed it. Getting it first, getting extras etc are all very nice but it was on Kickstarter to get it going at all.
It's a bummer getting things late but because of us there is a line of other products already in the works. I'll take that over treating this like a pre-order. It would probably be smart of all gaming kickstarter warn about things like this though.
I'm not trying to put down people disappointed by the shipping issues, we all are in that boat. Just trying to remind people of what we did help get going here."

Seems Australia backers are really unimpressed.  Here's a comment from the updates section of the kickstarter:

"I received my copy of Numenera today (10 SEP). But NOT from you, from AMAZON, whom I ordered from as I wanted a second copy, they shipped it on 31 AUG by Standard (NOT Expedited) shipping. The books have been available on sale here in Australia since a few days before that. I don't know whether this is because of the one week delay resulting from your miscommunication with the shippers or because the shippers are merely incompetent, or because you have chosen to use incompetent couriers (I won't use Amazon Expedited Shipping because, though it might arrive *somewhere* in Australia quicker than Standard Shipping, it is rarely in the same state as I am when it does and they then use the most incompetent couriers possible - who deliver to a similar street address in another state, or the wrong street and number in the same suburb, or who claim to have made delivery attempts and left notes when they haven't and then want me to travel to their depot on the other side of the city to pick it up and do their job for them). Whatever reason, I am not impressed. I hope it will arrive soon, and I hope that the next items that I paid for IN ADVANCE will actually get to me at least around the same time as they appear in stores here in Sydney."

Here is some more of the 'Getting them to the stores is our main goal' type of dialogue.  I mean they'll apparently bend over backwards for a retailer but backers are told that 'it's out of our hands' or 'wait a little longer' etc.:

"We've heard a couple of people mention online that they went to their local game store and were told they couldn't get a copy of Numenera for a number of reasons, such as the distributor not being able to get them, that they're out of stock, etc.
We've talking with our distributors about this (we really, really want you to be able to get books!) and they said the best way to fix this was to get specific examples of where the books aren't available so they can help make that happen. We're also hoping that this kind of dialogue will ensure that the future products will be available in stores when you want them to be there."

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Numenera aggrivation

It's been a month from release date now and I'm still waiting on my backer copy of Numenera.  Since the 14th of last month ANYBODY could order a copy of the game (at a deep discount) off of Amazon and get it in a couple of days.  Those of us who invested our money into the project were left waiting.  Within a day or two after Gencon retail stores in the US and overseas had copies on the shelves.  Again those of us who invested were left waiting.

From everything I've heard the books didn't start shipping to backers until around the 20th.  AFTER all distributors, game shops and online retailers had received their copies.  Folks in the UK are still waiting for their books as I haven't seen a single backer there say they have gotten theirs.  People who backed the Numenera video game kickstarter at a high enough level have already started getting their books while many of us who helped pay for those books to get published are still waiting.

My name isn't even in the backer list in the back of the book evidently due to an 'internet glitch'.  I even redownloaded the latest pdf version and they haven't even bothered to correct it there.

Now they are telling those of us still waiting to.... wait a few more days.  What are we waiting for now?  A second printing?  Did they sell out of the initial run to retailers instead of setting enough aside for their backers?

Also I've seen a person on their staff keep bringing up how many pdfs we will eventually be getting and the value of them.  Excuse me... I'm not a big pdf reader for big books.  PLUS I backed early on before most of those were ever even attached to my backer level.  I backed the kickstarter for the book from the get go.  If all I wanted were the pdfs there was a cheaper level for that.  I wanted the book from day one.

Now.... I don't want the book anymore.  All my enthusiasm for the game is completely gone, my excitement is now aggravation.  It all went away as I watched online as people were talking about picking it up from the stores, Amazon and online retailers.  The book, when I get it, will either be traded off as soon as possible for something I may actually use OR it will be setting on my shelf gathering dust until it turns to dust.  I have no desire to even crack it open now. 

We backers have really gotten the short end of the stick on this.  All we are getting in return is a bunch of lines on how they are going to make it right.  Which means they'll eventually ship the book out and go "See we're all good now right?".  That's not going to make it all fine and dandy.  I will NEVER back another Monte Cook project again because chances are everybody else will get it before I will.  IF he ever does something I really want again I'll just wait and pick it up from Amazon at that deep discount because I'll be getting it sooner and cheaper than his backers will.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.011 NSA, Bitcoin and Crossbar.

Let's start off with one of the biggest whistle blowing alerts that's come along in years. Snowden making the population of the United States, and the world, aware to the level of spying that the NSA is capable of. This time his new leak cranks the level up to an even higher level. Just how far the NSA is into cracking encryption programs... and some of the ones they evidently have already cracked. If you think any of your information, your banks information or corporate information is safe... think again.

Snowden disclosures NSA bombshell decryption report

It's been a bit since I've discussed anything about the Bitcoin. But here is a bit of news a few weeks old that is of very important interest to fans of the digital currency. The government of Germany is recognizing it as an official currency that can be used for private transactions. That's a HUGE leap forward for the Bitcoin and it may cause a few other countries to follow suit. Although I bet cash money that the United States will never do this.

Germany recognizes the Bitcoin

Now lets talk some tech... or at least let me link to some tech talk. Crossbar is about to blow the lid off the Flash Drive market with something that blows away anything on the market. One terabyte on a chip smaller than a postage stamp and it access that information faster.

Crossbar says it will explode the 60b flash memory market

Okay that's all I have this Sunday.  Check back in a week for another installment of three links of cyberpunk interest.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.010

First up this Sunday is of course... MORE DRONES. I'm telling you most cyberpunk fiction of the day seemed to have failed to foretell two things. Cellphones and the amount of drones that are going to be over our heads. This time it's a shoulder launchable solar powered drone. Light weight and limited in uses but still it is something you can put into the air very quickly.

Launch This New 9-Hour Solar-Powered Drone from Your Shoulder

Then it's on to some of the ground work for the future of neuralware and brain/body hacking. It's all small steps and tiny advances but it's coming along. So making a colleagues hand move with just the power of your mind isn't a magic trick anymore. Okay it's not just the mind either there is a bunch of tech between the two as well.

Scientist controls colleague's hand in first human brain-to-brain interface

Of course society is another affected part of the cyberpunk revolution going on. Basically the collapse of conversing in a civilized manner. A look at the a fanbase with a growing portion who are absolutely vile online and with their reactions to anything that they don't like. Net powered rage coupled with being anonymous and somewhat untouchable.

Plague of game dev harassment erodes industry, spurs support groups

That's all for this week. See you again in seven days with at least three more links for you clicking enjoyment.