Saturday, August 28, 2010

You Might be a Geek If... GadgetHovel edition

First of all, I made a Google doc with all of my original "you might be a geek if..." submissions. Here's the link.
You might be wondering what that is. Well, @Aron1701 (henceforth "Todd"), the guy who does the GadgetHovel webcomic, also does a "podcast", called the "Toddcast". Recently, his 100th episode was coming up, and he asked listeners to submit "you might be a geek if..." phrases/jokes. It's a bit like the "you might be a redneck" stuff, but for geeks. Y'know, the opposite of rednecks. ;)
Todd cheated and had a co-host on the show, by the name of "Matt". They went through the "you might be a geek if..." submissions, to see what they got and what they didn't. Since they indicated that they wanted feedback, I figured that I could provide it in this blog post. So, here it is, a per-item list of my "you might be a geek if..." submissions and how they both fared.

You might be a geek if... know what a "mummorpuhguh" is. "Mummorpuhguh" (spelling it pseudo-phonetically - I've only heard it pronounced) is a sort of tongue-in-cheek term to refer to an MMORPG, as used by Yahtzee at Zero Punctuation.
Matt couldn't figure this one out, but Todd managed to, even if he did stumble over the words. However, neither one of them managed to figure out that it was a reference to the aforementioned Zero Punctuation.'ve visited The KLI is the Klingon Language Institute, and is their site.
Matt & Todd both got this one right. Todd also has a Klingon dictionary. I'd also like to point out, per their tangent on J.R.R. Tolkien, that Tolkien was actually a philologist. can correctly spell any of the following words without looking them up: nuqneH, bat'leth, Qapla'. Obviously, this one was based on the idea that the list would be read on the air, so you wouldn't just see the spellings of the words. These are some extremely common Klingon terms.
They mispronounced "nuqneH". Matt somehow couldn't pronounce "bat'leth". They managed "Qapla'" pretty well for humans. I couldn't actually test their ability to spell these, of course. ;)'ve read at least 2 more RPG books than you've played. This should be pretty self-explanatory. Myself, I've read quite a few more RPG books than I've gotten to play.
Matt passed this litmus test, but Todd didn't.'ve applied the system from one game to the setting of another. This refers to taking the rules/mechanics from one RPG and applying them to the setting/universe of another. I present you Don't Rest Your Spirit of the Century (not mine), which takes the amazing system for Don't Rest Your Head and applies them to Spirit of the Century.
Though neither of them seems to have actually done this, Matt actually knew what I meant, whereas Todd did not.'ve invented your own race, class, or feat/aspect/power/spell/special ability/whatever for an RPG. This refers to making one's own race (species) or class in an RPG, or, also in an RPG, making a feat, aspect, or similar thing.
Todd apparently invented a race for a game so that his player could play a droid. Matt claimed to have done it, saying that it's necessary in the Hero system, but I don't know enough about the Hero system to say whether that's really what I was meaning. To compare, I wouldn't count Godlike as necessitating the creation of powers, even though one usually does combine powers, simply because the new powers created are just a mix of existing powers. I'm trying to explain this briefly, and not doing too well, possibly because it's 0100. Let's move on... own at least two dice of each 20, 12, 8, and 4 sides, and at least four 10-sided dice. This is a reference to polyhedral die sets, though one could obtain the dice individually. Basically, one could read this as "you own at least two polyhedral die sets". Each set has two 10-siders, which is why I insisted on 4 of them. I ignored 6-siders because people regularly have at least 4 among various board games.
It sounded like both Todd and Matt had at least that many dice. own at least 72 six-sided dice. I came up with this number because 5mm (I think) dice usually come in a box of 36 (four 3x3 layers). Two such boxes would yield 72 dice. For the record, I've purchased 3 such boxes, for a total of 108, not to mention all of the various other 6-siders that I own (including those from polyhedral sets).
Todd didn't have this many, but ... did Matt say? know what it means "to tank", "to pull aggro", and "to buff", and not in the sense of polishing things. For those who don't know, these are MMORPG terms. "To tank" means "to soak attacks/damage." "To pull aggro" means "to draw aggression", which is MMORPG speak for "to get monsters to attack oneself instead of others," which has to do with party/group/fellowship play. "To buff" means "to give a boost," such as +1 to attack, +5 to damage, or +2 to armor class.
They both knew this, and given how much Todd talks about WoW and Champions, I'd be disappointed if he didn't. always know where your towel is. A good hitchhiker always knows where his towel is.
They both knew what this one meant, though neither said whether he actually always knew where his towel was. Also, Todd managed to screw up "hoopy frood". For the record, I regularly carry around at least one towel on my person. know that "Him Who Must Not Be Named" could kick Lord Voldemort's ass. The Unspeakable One trumps any mere wizard.
They couldn't figure it out, even with their Google-fu. I am very disappoint. give away gifts at your own birthday party. This is a reference to how Hobbits celebrate their birthdays. This one may have been a bit too subtle.
They had no idea. know why that last one is on this list. Well, I couldn't very well expect people to actually give away gifts at their own birthday parties, now could I?
See above. know what Goblinization Day is. Goblinization day is the day in the Shadowrun timeline when several humans forever changed into trolls and orcs, leading to the existence of those races in the Shadowrun universe.
Matt knew; Todd didn't. know what the AADA is. The American Autoduel Association is of course a reference to Car Wars.
They couldn't figure it out, and with hilarious results. For further details, see the next entry. know what the "Free Oil States" are, and which ones they are. The "Free Oil States" are Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, after they secede from the United States of America in the Car Wars timeline.
They couldn't figure this one out, either, until they Google'd it. Naturally, as they're both Steve Jackson properties, the result of this was "something to do with GURPS".

...happiness is mandatory. This is from Paranoia, a great darkly humorous RPG, which takes place in a facility known as "Alpha Complex".
Matt got it down to "internet meme", and I think that Todd knew it, though he wasn't able to remember the name of the game. don't have clearance for that, Friend Citizen. This is another Paranoia reference.
They had no idea. Todd actually surrendered. XD've died during character creation. This is a Traveller reference. For those who don't know, in the original Traveller, character creation began with determining one's character's career prior to the game, which included a mix of choices and random die rolls. There was also something of a push-your-luck mechanic: the longer that one's career went, the greater his possible rewards, but also the more opportunities to die, causing the player to have too start over.
Neither said that he'd ever had an actual during-creation character death. Also, the hypothetical scenario that Todd devised wouldn't work in D&D (which it sounded like it was). Starting Con mod never goes below -3, and one doesn't roll for initial HP, so even a Wizard or sorcerer would get at least a 4 on the die. regularly say "gorram", "frak", or "frell". "Gorram" is a replacement for "damn" from Firefly. "Frak" is a replacement for "fuck" from Battlestar Galactica. "Frell" is a replacement for "fuck" or "hell" from Farscape.
Todd and Matt passed this one with flying colors, though Todd bungled the pronunciation of "gorram" sometimes. can recite either Mr. Freeze's opening monologue or his closing monologue from "Heart of Ice". "This is how I'll always remember you: surrounded by winter, forever young, forever beautiful. Rest well, my love. The monster who took you from me will soon learn that revenge is a dish best served cold." I just typed that from memory, though I suppose that you'll have to take my word for it. For future reference, "Heart of Ice" was an episode from the truly great Batman: the Animated Series. It's probably best remembered among Batman fans as the instance where Mr. Freeze changed forever, as he was previously just a generic cold-themed villain.
Well, Matt at least knew that "Heart of Ice" was an episode from Batman: the Animated Series, so there's that. ... moving on... know who Elim (the tailor) is. This is, of course, a reference to Elim Garak, from DS9.
FAIL! sometimes read sequential art right-to-left. This is, of course, a reference to Japanese manga. If you sometimes read manga, then you might be a geek.
Todd knew that "sequential art" means "comics", but considered the whole thing a puzzle. Matt had it figured out. know what "Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu" is, and watched it in broadcast order. "Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu", better known as "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" here in the states, is an anime series famous for being broadcast in non-chronological order.
Todd had no idea. Matt at least knew what it was, but assumed that I meant "while it was being broadcast".'ve dressed up as a video game, anime, manga, or western print comic character, and it was neither Halloween season nor a costumed ball. This basically means "you've cosplayed", but limited to the particularly geeky things. I also didn't want to give everyone who's ever done Halloween a free pass.
Todd hates costumes. Matt had some weird story about wearing tights. answer uncertain questions with "42". This is another Hitchhiker's Guide reference.
They got it.

I actually sent in another "you might be a geek if..." at the last minute, but it apparently wasn't soon enough to make it onto the show, so I'll avoid mentioning it here just yet, just in case it gets mentioned on the next episode.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sudden Short Story 3

"Look, I'm not saying that they definitely exist. I'm just saying that they might exist, or at least might have at some point."
"Well, the same thing could be said for sasquatch or elves. They might have existed at some point, theoretically, but we generally assume that they didn't, for lack of evidence."
"Right, but those were always anthropomorphizations. I'm talking about something quite different, something much closer to other extant lifeforms."
"Well, you don't believe in unicorns, right? So why would you believe in deer?"
"Well, a unicorn would be unexpected. It's only supposed to have one protrusion, centered, but with an asymmetrical twist to it. That's not to mention all of the mystical properties ascribed to it."
"Aren't these alleged deer a bit mysterious, too? They have these big, branching horns coming out of their heads, but they're supposed to live - or at least have lived - in forests? And they could disappear for extended periods of time, even in areas purported to lack caves? And why hasn't anyone seen one since ancient times, anyway?"
"Well, that's why I'm open to the idea that maybe they once existed, but don't any more. And as for the other things, well, stranger things have been found to exist in the fossil record. Plus, it's not like every single thing from the old stories will turn out to be true. Remember Chiroptera gargantum? They turned out to be real, but without those short, useless forelimbs that they allegedly had."
"I wonder if the head-ornaments will turn out to be the same way. After all, not all accounts of deer include those. ... Well, when you get right down to it, we can't confirm that they existed until we find a specimen, living, dead, or fossilized. Still, I don't even know of any path that might lead to such a thing. It sounds more to me like something that was invented back in the day when humans were still trying to pilot vehicles manually. They provide a good excuse for accidents, don't you think? They're a bit like Disney lemmings in that regard - suicidal, but not enough to make them extinct."
"Yeah, that behavior does seem a bit silly. That's probably the best evidence that deer never existed, after all."

NOTE: Holy crap, I totally forgot about this one. I started it back in February, apparently. Well, at least it's finished now.

Monday, August 2, 2010

On Squirrel memories

I had an idea just now. I remember, in the past, when I was younger, hearing stuff about how squirrels bury lots of acorns, etc., but only dig up a few, and presumably forget where many of them are buried. I've devised an experiment.
Let's say that we have a population of squirrels that typically digs up 30% of its buried nuts. The experiment would be to dig up half of a given squirrel's buried nuts when it's not looking (do squirrels hibernate?).
We fully expect the squirrel to dig up some spots where it originally buried nuts, and find them missing.
If the squirrel successfully digs up only 30% of the remaining nuts, then it probably only remembered 30% of the original.
If the squirrel successfully digs up 60% of the remaining nuts (or twice whatever its original percent was), then it probably remembered all locations, but only needed a certain number of buried nuts.

Experiments about this have probably already happened, but I just happened to think of it, and I haven't been blogging enough!