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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

Pre-Rolled Dice

I recently started reading Darths & Droids, a webcomic that presents the story of The Phantom Menace as a role-playing game, after the style of DM of the Rings. In strip #99, the author discusses (below the comic itself) the various superstitions that gamers will indulge in with respect to dice. This one blew me away for being at once eminently logical, hopelessly moronic, breathtakingly obsessive, and, above all, unspeakably geeky:

As pointed out so clearly in this essay on dice superstition, if dice are random, then it doesn't matter if you're superstitious about them. But if they're not... well, you better make sure you do the right thing and treat them properly. No use taking risks now, is there?

Pete, being the highly logical, calculating person he is, rejects all of that as superstitious nonsense. He instead applies the scientific approach. Over the years, he's collected somewhere around a thousand twenty-sided dice. Every so often, he gathers them all together. He sits down at a table and carefully and individually rolls each of the thousand dice, once. Of course, roughly a twentieth of them will roll a one. He takes those fifty-odd dice and rolls them a second time. After about an hour of concentrated dice rolling, he'll end up with around two or three dice that have rolled two ones in a row. He takes those primed dice and places them in special custom-made padded containers where they can't roll around, and carries them to all the games he plays.

Then, when in the most dire circumstances, where a roll of one would be absolutely disastrous, he pulls out the prepared dice. He now has in his hand a die that has rolled two ones in a row. Pete knows the odds of a d20 rolling three ones in a row is a puny one in 8,000. He has effectively pre-rolled the ones out of the die, and can make his crucial roll with confidence. Furthermore, being scientific about it means he knows that it doesn't matter who rolls the die for the third time, so he has no qualms about sharing his primed dice with other players, if that's what it takes to avoid disaster.

I think it's the idea of storing pre-rolled dice in roll-proof containers and carrying them with you that got me. That Pete is a man who takes his dice very seriously.

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Garamond Powerline

My wife's excellent taste in typography is just one of the many reasons I knew she was the one for me. Garamond is my and Ms. Angel's favorite font. Garamond Powerline is a beautiful rendering of the font as art in its own right.

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Friday Free Game: Kung-Fu Election

Just for shits and giggles, try out Kung Fu Election, a Flash-based Mortal Kombat clone where you can fight as Barack Obama or John McCain. I played this one about five times, losing to Sarah Palin as Barack (who sort of loks and fights like Mitsurugi... oh and he throws a flight of white doves as his missile attack) and then losing to Joe Biden as McCain, but then suddenly something clicked (maybe because McCain fights a little like me favorite Soul Calibur character, Kilik), and I started climbing the ladder. I literally laughed out loud when I fought Hillary (who carries fans like MK's Kitana) and she threw a projectile at me that had Bill Clinton appear and punch me in the face three times. You have to play this game just for that.

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Basic Instructions on Windows Vista

I found Basic Instructions when Scott Adams (Scott – your site is painfully slow) recommended it sometime back in August. Today's is about Windows Vista.

Now, you may have noticed that Microsoft has been trying some new advertising strategies. There was The Mojave Experiment which took a we secretly replaced this fine restaurant's usual coffee with Folgers Crystals approach. I was swayed, but then I read "Call me Fishmeal" and Joe Wilcox who convinced me that the campaign is wrongheaded.

Then they tried Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates. I personally like Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld so I liked the ads. But I'll admit: the message was less than clear.

Now there's "I'm a PC", which, while better, arguably is just doing Apple's work for them. But there could be something to trying to coopt the enemy's strategy.

I'm a Windows evangelist because I think Microsoft has done something few other technology companies have: created vast suites of software that truly interoperate. I agree with the Linux purists that open standards should be preferred to corporate agendas, but Microsoft's powerful market share demonstrated what an office productivity suite looked like. They won the office desktop, I don't think anyone can disagree with that.

But these ads don't play to the brand's strength: omnipresence, familiarity, business clout. Maybe they want to seem friendlier, like their cuter neighbors, the Macs. But that's not what geeks do. But if Bill Gates taught us anything, it's that the geeks could inherit the Earth.

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Below is an old post (July I think) that I never posted. The link below isn't very exciting anymore. The old Trism video is the better one. Watch it instead.

Amid the din of Mac fanboys squealing about the iPhone, the "Brainy Gamer", Michael Abbot, has put together a nice collection of videos showcasing the iPhone's gaming capabilities. Trism looks very cool.

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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.