Monthly Archives: July 2009

Then there was Nethack

I recently saw a post from someone who (after 7 years) had finally ascended in NetHack. Ascending in NetHack effectively means beating the game and if you think 7 years is entirely too long to play a game you haven’t beaten; then you haven’t ever played NetHack.  I have posted about NetHack previously and suffice to say that I haven’t (in my 6 year of playing) ever come even CLOSE to finishing the game.  So to keep all of you from ever ruining your perfectly sane existence I am going to list a number of reasons why NetHack is both THE game by which all other RPGs will be judged and why you should NEVER start playing it!

  • –NetHack is the most expansive game ever created.  This is partially a product of design.  Like Legos, the game is almost stupidly simple, but the byproduct of such simplicity is infinite expandability.  Which brings us to the second cause of NetHack’s depth… It has been in constant development for over 20 YEARS!  Rogue (the game NetHack was based on) was created in 1980.  The origins of NetHack actually  pre-date the personal computer!
  • –Developers * Time * Design = The DevTeam Think of Everything! (TDTTOE.)  This is not a joke.  You honestly have to play the game to really “get” how connected each piece of the game is.  My favorite example of this comes from GameSpy when NetHack was inducted into their video game hall of fame: Eat a floating eye corpse and you’ll get ESP, which will allow you to see enemies anywhere on the map, but only while blinded. To take advantage of it, you may want to drink a potion of blindness, or preferably, find and wear a blindfold. Of course, while blindfolded, even with ESP you won’t be able to see inanimate objects on the floor — when you find piles of items, your character will have to “feel” for them. Oh, and you won’t be able to read scrolls. Whoops! In that pile of items you just felt is a cockatrice corpse — fortunately you were wearing gloves, otherwise you would’ve been turned to stone just by touching it. But now, blind and protected, you can pick up the cockatrice corpse and use it to attack monsters — now your enemies will turn to stone when you strike them! Unfortunately, their inventory turns to stone as well. Hey, no problem — you’ve got a pick-axe, so you can chisel open their statues to yield a pile of rocks and any of their old possessions. Sadly, thanks to the blindfold, you can’t see a nearby pit and tumble inside. Too bad you were holding the cockatrice corpse — it landed on top of you and turned you to stone. Yet Another Stupid Death, and another reason to cry out in anguish because they think of everything!
  • –You get one life in NetHack.  ONE!  That is it. You can suspend the game but not save it.  The closest thing to continuity between games is that you often come across your ghost from previous games (in fact your grave will often have your old loot in it…  cursed, TDTTOE.)
  • –The game doesn’t care.  In fact is probably works directly against you.  For example, you simply don’t know how an object will effect a situation until you use it (or until you find some side effect that you can test to discover it.)  All objects (potions, scrolls, spell books, etc.) are named differently EVERY GAME.  And so until you figure out what a “pinkish gold” potion is THIS TIME, you don’t know what it will do.  Then, even if you know what an object is, that doesn’t mean you know if it is cursed or blessed.  The game not caring also means that things like alters (or specialized equipment) are not necessarily likely to be the same alignment as you.  Hell, the moon phase even effects the game… the REAL MOON PHASE!  Oh, and did I mention that the levels are auto-generated and so are NEVER the same.
  • –Games go on for DAYS but death always seems to happen suddenly.  So just as you really start to get your hopes up, you loose 3 days worth of work in an instant because you get bit by a ware-rat, turn into a rat, and get killed by a group of fire ants that wouldn’t have given you any trouble 10 seconds ago.
  • –You have to do everything intentionally!  Don’t (I repeat don’t) just go running into a group of enemies and start swinging.  Because the game it turn based you REALLY need to consider as many possibilities of what will happen when you do something.  You certainly cannot think of everything that could happen but you will live longer if you at least try.  Heck, you cannot even leave old/cursed/useless crap laying around because and enemy is likely to pick something up and attack you with it.  And if you haven’t played before you probably can count on dying the first 6 times just trying to figure out how you will keep from starving to death.
  • –The only friend you have the entire game is your dog… and even god will not help you if you get him killed.

So 7 years isn’t to long to finish a game that was basically designed to be an exercise it masochism.  I will be lucky if I am able to ascend sometime in the NEXT 7 years.  For those who are not detered may I recommend the Absolute Beginners Guide to NetHack.

Bookshelf Investing: A Drew Yates Re-post

Here is a repost of a Drew Yates article I found EXTREMELY useful. Unfortunately most of his old posts seem to be forever lost. It is an unfortunate fact that the great blog post I have read are hidden jems that must be dug for. I need to make a habit of copying them on occasion because, all to often, they disappear when their author looses interest and moves on. This is one of the useful top-10 lists I have read and I hope (that by saving it here) it will be useful for a long time to come.

On Books, Top 10 Rules For Investing In Bookshelves

Your bookshelf is like your knowledge portfolio. By investing in yourself, you can become a more interesting, intelligent, creative, and happier person while education improving your judgement and learning new skills. Here are my top ten points for managing your education by investing in your bookself.

1. Buy books for who you’d like to be, not who you are.

Why only buy books about what you already know? Don’t feel guilty about books you own that you haven’t read yet, don’t quite understand, or don’t quite fit your persona. Surround yourself with what you want to know. Achieve by osmosis.

2. You can’t know what you don’t know. Diversify!

Never underestimate the value of learning what you don’t know. Buy books in topics that have “no interest in.” Maybe you are wrong. Inject some randomness in your life.

Excercise: Minute Compass

Try this: stand in the center of the bookstore with your back to the door and check your watch. Turn and face the direction your minute hand points. Buy and read one book in that direction.

3. Understand your investment profile

A book you bought but didn’t read is $20 lost. A book you read but didn’t like or learn from is $20 and maybe a few hours lost. A book you read and learned from is priceless. So: a calculated risk of $20, or never learning anything new? You can’t even begin to understand what you’re missing when you don’t know what you don’t know.

It’s much easier to start reading a book you have than a book you don’t have.

Unless you have urgent expenses, invest generously. This is true for all investments.

4. Give your favorite books away.

Ideas are like currency. They only have value when shared.

Real power today lies at society’s “information hubs.” What better to demonstrate your informational worth than to give books? You can alway rebuy books if you need them. Don’t bother asking people to return your books. That’s tacky. Let them keep it as a token of your thoughtfulness, advice, and generosity. Maybe they will pass that book along to their friends with a shining review, too! That’s the ulitmate compliment.

Not: Used books are NOT GIFTS. Gifting something you are “done with” as is fantastically tacky and cheap. Besides, traditional gifts are more tokens of sacrifice and obligation than tokens of good-will and thoughtfulness. How else could you explain all those $10 gift certificates from your extended family and coworkers?

5. Buy books cheap, but don’t be cheap.

Investing in books are one of those rare opportunities where it pays to be a spontanious shopper. If you suddenly have the motivation to learn, don’t squander it to save five dollars! Naturally, don’t spend more than you have to. But like the morons who drive around town for the cheapest gas, it doesn’t pay to waste time to save a couple dollars. Well, actually it pays a couple dollars. Unless you’re 11, you probably could spend your time better.

Also, most good technical books can usually only be found new. Good technical books are kept as references, and people resell back books they don’t think they’ll use again. Also, most technical books have a shelf-life of only a few years. The only technical books at a value book store will probably be outdated and mediocre.

Cheap, readily available books, like classical literature, are usually at the library or internet for free, anyways.

6. Be Wary of Textbooks. Many Textbooks Suck.

Be suspecious of any book that marketed to undergraduates. If the publisher doesn’t take pride in their work and churns frivolous editions, why should you take pride in owning a copy? In my experience, most required engineering books are terrible. If you’re a computer science student, forget buying the textbook, just use the Internet.

Note: this varies per university. If you are savvy enough to judge books, you can often judge the quality of a university department by the quality of the required reading. Andrew in the comments also noted that many very specialized texts can only be found at universities.

7. Ask Bookstore Employees for Advice

Most bookstore employees like books. Unfortunately, they are usually stuck playing the Warehouse Index game for impatient customers. Make your bookstore employees happy. Ask for their advice. They will know which books are well-liked and which are trash, and they might know which publishers print the best quality books. Ask employees which books they like. And then buy what they like. You might even make some interesting friends this way.

Side note: never harass retail employees. Be nice. Really, whatever your problem is, it’s almost guarunteed not be the fault of anyone around you can talk to. Worse, have you ever known an employee to make exceptions for a jerk? Rarely. If you have a problem with a store, complain with your wallet (or your blog ;) ), never to employees.

8. Throw away bad books.

You probably own some books that were disappointing or technical books that are outdated. Throw them away. There’s nothing to be learned by hording trash knowledge. In fact, make trashing books symbolic of your intellectual health. You can’t fill a full cup.

9. Non-fiction is usually a better investment

Non-fiction has an obligation (you hope) to be true. Most fiction, like movies, only mean to be entertaining, not to make you think. If you want to read fiction, avoid books you would expect to find at your grocery store. Also, most science fiction and fantasy books are rarely good “investments.” Watch Star Wars, read Lord of the Rings, and be done with it.

10. If somebody recommends a book, STOP, note the title, and buy it immediately

Your investment will stagnate if you don’t do this. Make this a habit. Don’t try and rationalize this away. Shut up and do it. Somebody you respect has chosen to share very valuable knowledge with you and you have an obligation to due diligance. Even if you don’t like their recommendation, you have learned something important about the person who recommended it. To not do this, I think, is crude and insulting.

In fact, you should take notes whenever anyone is describing something they care about, whether it’s people they think you should know, books that they enjoy, or places they enjoy visiting. Not only is this flattering, but it’s honest and smart. What better way to prove your legitimate interest in somebody’s opinion than writing them down… and then backing your word with your wallet? Not even $20 in beer could be as well spent.

Note: don’t be obnoxious about taking notes. Just write down the author and title. People don’t want to feel like professors in casual conversation.

What I have been Tweeting

  • CNN misses so many stories that I was surprised to find one this interesting http://tinyurl.com/mqfu48 Africans vs African-Americans #
  • J.K. Rowlings to register as a potential pedophile??!? http://tinyurl.com/nrr38h Always remember, government is the antithisis of liberty! #
  • @BrotherMagneto Did you actually win an award for the Wonderbra PR compaign… or is that just a theonion article I should know about? in reply to BrotherMagneto #
  • @BrotherMagneto How much positive pr does the wonderbra need… Well, maybe their public goodwill isn't as "large" as it appears. in reply to BrotherMagneto #
  • I think to many forget that telling someone what they can buy, own, or sell is just as bad as telling someone what god they can worship. #
  • It is almost 10… I am at work… and have been sense… wait for it…. wait for it… 10! Sometimes IT has its drawbacks. #

What I have been Tweeting

  • CNN misses so many stories that I was surprised to find one this interesting http://tinyurl.com/mqfu48 Africans vs African-Americans #
  • J.K. Rowlings to register as a potential pedophile??!? http://tinyurl.com/nrr38h Always remember, government is the antithisis of liberty! #
  • @BrotherMagneto Did you actually win an award for the Wonderbra PR compaign… or is that just a theonion article I should know about? in reply to BrotherMagneto #
  • @BrotherMagneto How much positive pr does the wonderbra need… Well, maybe their public goodwill isn't as "large" as it appears. in reply to BrotherMagneto #
  • I think to many forget that telling someone what they can buy, own, or sell is just as bad as telling someone what god they can worship. #
  • It is almost 10… I am at work… and have been sense… wait for it…. wait for it… 10! Sometimes IT has its drawbacks. #

What I have been Tweeting

  • @lizgriffin Man… are you OLD! in reply to lizgriffin #
  • I am looking to hire a full time entry level IT support technician living somewhere in the Oklahoma City area. @ me if you are interested! #
  • @okcchamber Does the chamber have a place to post job openings in the OKC area? I'm want to hire a full time intro level IT support person. in reply to okcchamber #
  • Can someone explain to me (in the new media world) why freedom of the press is limited to those who have one? #

What I have been Tweeting

  • @lizgriffin Man… are you OLD! in reply to lizgriffin #
  • I am looking to hire a full time entry level IT support technician living somewhere in the Oklahoma City area. @ me if you are interested! #
  • @okcchamber Does the chamber have a place to post job openings in the OKC area? I'm want to hire a full time intro level IT support person. in reply to okcchamber #
  • Can someone explain to me (in the new media world) why freedom of the press is limited to those who have one? #

When Logic Can Hurt

Got this from pastbin:

I recently asked my friends’ little girl what she wanted to be when she grows up. She said she wanted to be President some day. Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her, ‘If you were President what would be the first thing you would do? ‘

She replied, ‘I’d give food and houses to all the homeless people.’

Her parents beamed.

‘Wow…what a worthy goal.’ I told her, ‘But you don’t have to wait until you’re President to do that.. You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and rake my yard, and I’ll pay you $50.

Then I’ll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house. ‘

She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, ‘ Why doesn’t the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?

I said, ‘Welcome to the Republican Party.’

Her parents still aren’t speaking to me.

What I have been Tweeting

  • Heard that the FDA will ban "flavored" cigarettes. I am going to kick the next lib/con that tells me they love freedom. #
  • Just had a discussion about Twitter comparing it to text messaging. How many ppl use twitter like a broadcast text message service? #
  • @ash_leigh sorry about the bad grapes… but the coffee will be ready in 5 minutes in reply to ash_leigh #
  • @ash_leigh I can make more… I will certainly drink some. in reply to ash_leigh #