Monday, June 30, 2008

Why Debian?

Chris asked me why Debian was on the Linux server I gave him:
  • It doesn't suck. It's rock-solid stable.
  • Easy net-based install only downloads the packages you want.
  • It's got apt-get and aptitude for package management. Want to try something out? It's as easy as typing apt-get packagename at the command line. Want to check for updates and see what all's out there? Poke around with aptitude.
  • Enough people are using it that there are decent forum answers for most problems.
  • It runs Apache2 for serving web pages, and ddclient for dyanmic DNS pages.
  • Basically, the Knoppix cd is a Debian livecd. If you like Knoppix, you'll very likely enjoy Debian.
  • Lower system requirements than Ubuntu. Even horrible, tiny machines can run Debian like a champ.

Ubongo and Magic over at Tom's place

I took Alex and Cori over to Tom's place on Sunday morning to give Chris a Linux server for his 16th birthday.

We played 3 games of Ubongo (monster that I am, I won all three), and Chris and I got in one game of Magic with decks he built - he had a Sliver deck and I had a artifact/white deck. He got the upper hand but I wiped the board and came back with one of my favorite cards: Extruder.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Death and Taxes 2009 poster is out: Quick Quiz!

(via kottke) This is awesome - Death and Taxes has a poster up of the entire Federal budget for 2009. Fun to zoom in and see what's up. Here, have some original content:

Which will cost more in 2009?
  1. The war in/on Iraq or interest on the National Debt?
  2. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve or the Post Office?
  3. The Bureau of Indian Affairs or the DEA?
  4. NASA or the No Child Left Behind Act?
  5. The Missile Defense Agency or the Marines?
Extra credit question: Balance the budget. Hint: you need another 407 billion dollars!

Here's my off-the cuff attempt:
  • Halve our submarine budget - 1 billion.
  • Eliminate the Missile Defense Agency: 9 billion.
  • Eliminate Fusion Energy Research: half a billion.
  • Halve the War on Terror expenditures: 90 billion.
  • Ask every man, woman, and child in America for a grand a head: 300 billion.
Ha ha ha ha, nice try. Other intellectual hobbyhorses:

We should clear out the immigration visa backlog by offering an "expedited service" fee. We already do this with passports for US citizens. Heck, make it a 3-tier service. Why become an American when you can pay more and become a "Super American?"

Offer a sliding scale for H1-B visas, so that the more we issue, the more they cost. Currently we stop issuing them in January. If foreign workers are really so great, US companies will be willing to spend more to get the workers here.

On a long-term basis, adjust the mortgage deduction and income taxes based on the level of the federal deficit. Sadly, if we're going to fix the deficit, it's ultimately going to come out of my pockets.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Why I live at the post office

I live there because I'm always doing math trades. I decided to throw Pizarro & Co. into a recent 36-Hour Math Trade over on Boardgamegeek, and am getting back another copy of 2038, which I am decidedly on the fence about.

I'm at the point now where I've almost exhausted all my games after the recent culling. I like what
Matt had to say over at Hardcore Ludography
: he's establishing a strict game-in, game-out policy.

That could present serious problems if I end up with 997 copies of 18IA in my house (just kidding, Lee's not going to let me bring them in the house).

Cost of pets

I know other bloggers have written about the high cost of a sick pet. Of the two other guys on my UNIX team at work:
  • One has a cat that required a $1500 operation.
  • One just received the news that his dog has a hernia and requires a $2000 operation.
Sometimes I feel fortunate that Lee is allergic to cats. I also can't think of a dog appropriate to our situation - anything small would be too hyper, and anything large enough to enjoy wouldn't have enough space during the day.

Growing up, we had tons of pets on the farm, and it was definitely a good experience to care for and see them grow. I think it also helped me deal with death on a small scale.

Alex is getting old enough that she could potentially care for and appreciate a small pet like a hamster or a gerbil, but I don't know if I have the mojo to clean up after another creature in the house!

Some deadbeats won't get tax stimulus checks

Via the always-interesting Five Cent Nickel: over a billion dollars in stimulus checks have been diverted to pay outstanding obligations like overdue child support, back taxes, and unpaid student loans.

Good for the Feds!

Other items of note:

IRS raises mileage deduction for last half of 2008. (Found via Consumerism Commentary.) I won't be doing much driving for 18IA: Building Iowa's Railroads yet, but if I do, wow.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Scumbags at Zimbio scraping my site without permission

Those scumbags over at are stealing my content. Zimbio, I never gave you permission to republish my original written work. Why are you violating my copyright?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Easy Fixes: How to fix ddclient for on Debian

Even though Comcast changes my IP address every once in a while, I use the outstanding dynamic DNS free services offered by to keep my domain names accurately pointed to my server at home.

Recently, I had problems with my cable modem and after calling in to technical support, my IP address changed. I waited a while and tried to see my domain names on the web... but got nothin'. Even though it runs as a service, I ran ddclient manually, and got nothin'. I then remembered that ddclient is a polite program, and so I ran it again with "ddclient -verbose". This time, within the output, I got a 301 Redirect message that the server has changed from to

I navigated to /etc and edited my ddclient.conf file as follows:

debian:/etc# cat ddclient.conf
# Configuration file for ddclient
generated by debconf
# /etc/ddclient.conf


debian:/etc# cat
# Configuration file for ddclient generated by debconf
# /etc/ddclient.conf

use=web, web=dnspark

Running "ddclient -verbose" again now gets a successful login and update. Whoo-hoo! Victory for Todd!

Final notes: Remember that it does take time for these changes to propagate to all the nameservers out there. If you change your password at, you'll need to edit /etc/ddclient.conf to reflect that password change... Fortunately, ddclient's error messages are quite good, so it was easy to work this out. Don't use a "#"character in your password, ddclient doesn't like that.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Survival of the Fittest

Some friends of mine are Ebay gurus, and they left my house tonight with a big stack of Nintendo games, board games, and RPGs to sell off. I'm never going to toss in Maniac Mansion for the NES, so it's gotta go.

Likewise, I had to bid farewell to several games I got in math trades but never quite hit the table. They kept almost getting played, so to heck with the following:
  • Navia Drapt (what was I thinking)
  • Industria
  • Monkeys on the Moon
  • Filthy Rich
  • Tower Siege
  • Dragon Warrior 4 for the NES
  • Maniac Mansion for the NES
  • Legend of Zelda for the NES
I'll be using the proceeds to stockpile for printing 18IA.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

18IA now listed on BoardGameGeek

My new game 18IA is listed on BGG now, and I'm getting a steady stream of interested responses. There's more rule polishing and re-writing to do, and more graphics to design, and more pictures to take, along with submitting a sales tax form for the preorder money already received (yay!).

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I got a copy of Ubongo from my recent buying spree. (Haven't gotten my rotary paper cutter yet, also my 1/2" circle punch I ordered from K8 Creations hasn't arrived yet, either).

Hopefully I can break it out in the next few weeks.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

18IA - preorder now!

I am opening up preorders for 18IA, an 18xx railroad game set in Iowa. The game comes with a sleek 20"x20" gameboard, over 100 track tiles, station marker tokens, play stock certificates, company charters, and more.

Preorder now to lock in a discount price of $37.75 (suggested retail is $75).

Printing starts once I cross a magic preorder number. Currently, I expect to begin printing sometime after October 2009.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Paste magazine: interesting.

I got a subscription to Paste magazine, for one dollar, because I am fundamentally a bad person in certain respects. Got my first issue a few days ago. It's got a profile of Al Green, a long interview with Scarlett Johansen, and a CD. That's their shtick: every issue comes with a CD.

When I am done listening to it, I'll post a review of it, possibly even track by track, or in comic form.

My head just exploded

From the Etsy terms of service:

"All listings on Etsy must be for a tangible object (note: a digital file is considered a tangible object)."

Son of a monkey, that's where all the space in my house went!

For the record - game purchases in 2008

My game purchases in 2008, sorted by cost:
  1. $97. 1861: Railways of the Russian Empire, bought with Apache bonus money at the same time we bought the Dyson. Getting it prompted me to start researching game publishing seriously. Started my own play-by-email game of it, too.
  2. $75. Agricola, preordered in November 2007 but paid for in 2008 when Zev pulled the trigger and charged my credit card. Still waiting to be printed.
  3. $30. Ubongo. Paid for with gift card and got Super Saver shipping. Not received yet.
  4. $18. Two Magic:The Gathering theme decks. Unplayed, since Tim and I aren't on matching schedules as much.
  5. $13. The Power Grid Power Plant Expansion Deck. Unplayed, since Larry's working out-of-town during the week, and also just bought a house.
  6. $4. One Magic:The Gathering Morningtide booster.
Aargh, I just realized I forgot to include the BoardGameGeek Math Trades I did - the shipping should go in here, too. I'm done math trading for a while, at least with stuff that won't fit in a USPS Priority Mail box surrounded by bubble wrap. I'm sick of making boxes for odd-sized, huge games and paying $16 to ship them.

My game-crafting-related purchases in 2008, sorted by utility, lowest-to-highest:
  1. $11.50. One pack of cardstock. Yes, it'd be cheaper to buy it at Sam's. Used a gift card to test this brand out.
  2. $14.50. One Fiskars self-healing cutting mat.
  3. $21.00. One Fiskars portable paper cutter. I've seen these models and wanted to try them out for myself.
  4. $2.98. Two packs of 1/2" flat head wooden furniture plugs. I used these as 18AL parts, and still have enough to finish making 18GA.
Overall, this has been a crazy year of acquisitions. I'm not sure why, and it's a little disconcerting. I expected to keep 2008 to a bare minimum on game purchases.

Next up: photos of the game shelves, with analysis.

First of the gift cards arrived, so I spent it all at Amazon

I leverage my good credit by signing up for credit cards, getting $100 rewards after the first purchase, then canceling the cards. I just got a Starwood Preferred Rewards card that I'm going to ditch for sure, and I got an gift card in the mail yesterday.

Normally, I'd have gotten a reward that would benefit the household, then trade it to the household at a discount for actual cash (nobody hands out gift certificates to Time Well Spent, sadly enough). The reward selection was not as big as I was expecting. I almost traded it for Continental miles, since at some point we'll need to travel again, but there's a cash excise tax that you have to pay when you do that.

The Fiskars stuff and card stock is for board game crafting, and I bought Ubongo because it's cool. There was a They Might Be Giants exclusive, but Amazon went out of stock in the last week, and doesn't know when they'll get more.

Shipping Method: FREE Super Saver Shipping
Subtotal of Items: $99.78
Shipping & Handling: $15.28
Super Saver Discount -$15.28
Magazine Promotion -$5.00
Total: $94.78
Gift Certificates/Cards: -$94.78
Total for this Order: $0.00

Shipping estimate for these items: June 10, 2008 - June 11, 2008
1 "Slanky"
Mike Doughty; Paperback; $10.80

Sold by:, LLC
1 "Wausau Paper 49411 Index Card Stock, 8-1/2 x 11, 110-lb., White, 250 Sheets/pack"
Office Product; $11.49

Sold by:, LLC
1 "Fiskars 12" Portable Paper Trimmer"
Kitchen; $21.00

Sold by:, LLC
1 "Fiskars 12x12 Self Healing Craft Mat"
Kitchen; $14.50

Sold by:, LLC
1 "Ubongo"
Z-Man Games; Toy; $29.99

Sold by: Eric Robinson

The first issue should arrive between July 21, 2008 - August 18, 2008

1 "Esquire (2-year)"
Magazine; $12.00

Sold by: Hearst

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Item count

I was talking with Lee about pricing board game parts, and we realized that our house was full.

In other humbling news, I sunburnt the top of my head this weekend.