Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Czech this out

"Jožin z bažin" by Czech musician and comedian Ivan Mládek - a song also known as "The Raid Theme" if you happen to belong to the Rusty Nail's Adventurers guild. It's normally played by a guildie over voicechat in DDO at the start of a Shroud run. The lyrics (you can find an English translation of them on YouTube) are a bit bizarre... but hey, catchy tune, isn't it? ;)

Ah, speaking of Shroud runs... need to get another large shrapnel and large stone so we can get Dreadgut's tier 3 bracer upgrade. Then, we can see what I should do with Delennya's necklace for tier 3... and start collecting ingredients for it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What D&D character would I be?

I Am A: Chaotic Neutral Human Druid (3rd Level)

Ability Scores:







Chaotic Neutral A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn't strive to protect others' freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it. Chaotic neutral is the best alignment you can be because it represents true freedom from both society's restrictions and a do-gooder's zeal. However, chaotic neutral can be a dangerous alignment because it seeks to eliminate all authority, harmony, and order in society.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Druids gain power not by ruling nature but by being at one with it. They hate the unnatural, including aberrations or undead, and destroy them where possible. Druids receive divine spells from nature, not the gods, and can gain an array of powers as they gain experience, including the ability to take the shapes of animals. The weapons and armor of a druid are restricted by their traditional oaths, not simply training. A druid's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Detailed Results:

Neutral Good ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (17)
True Neutral ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (18)
Lawful Evil ----- XXXXXXXX (8)
Neutral Evil ---- XXXXX (5)
Chaotic Evil ---- XXXXXXXXX (9)

Law & Chaos:
Law ----- XXXXXXXX (8)
Neutral - XXXXX (5)
Chaos --- XXXXXXXXX (9)

Good & Evil:
Good ---- XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Neutral - XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Evil ---- (0)

Human ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Dwarf ---- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Elf ------ XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Gnome ---- XXXXXX (6)
Halfling - XXXXXX (6)
Half-Elf - XXXXXXXXXXX (11)
Half-Orc - XXXXXX (6)

Barbarian - (-2)
Bard ------ (-4)
Cleric ---- (-2)
Druid ----- XXXXXX (6)
Fighter --- (-4)
Monk ------ (-23)
Paladin --- (-17)
Ranger ---- (0)
Rogue ----- (-2)
Sorcerer -- XX (2)
Wizard ---- XXXX (4)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics

Recently, there seems to surfaced petitions and the likes from people who think China should not be hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics, based on China's poor record in human rights. Tibet is the thing they all mention. Okay, fair enough, I agree about the human rights thing and Tibet. I don't see why the Dalai Lama should be seen as a threat to the government, because he's all about peace and enlightenment.


What puzzles me is why people are starting to protest now, when the fact that Beijing would be host was made public on 13 July 2001 - and that was seven years ago. Amnesty International raised their concerns in 2006 according to Wikipedia. Before the IOC decide who is going to host the olympics, the candidates are known to the public. Where were the protestors back then? Surely, protesting four months in advance isn't going to stop the event from happening, or move it to another country. Why wasn't there petitions circulating as soon as China announced they wanted to compete for the 2008 summer olympics? If it had happened back then, the IOC could've decided to give another country the event instead, if they had known people would be so upset about China as a host. Had Iraq been trying to get the olympics, you can be pretty sure they would've been out of consideration straight away.

It's as if people have gone "cool, I like Chinese food" and then recently, when Tibet is back in the spotlight, people have thought "hang on... that's not very good, they shouldn't host the olympics". Come on! It's not as if Tibet is a new thing! It's been going on for donkey's years - and yes, I do mean well before 2001. The Dalai Lama has been in exile since 1959... Not just Tibet, for that matter - remember the Falun Gong movement? How about the Tianamen Square Massacre of 1989? Another two of many things China has become infamous for. After all, there's a lot more to China than sweet and sour chicken and egg fried rice.

The only real protest that can be done now is for countries who are critical of how China views human rights is to not send any athletes to compete. Britain wouldn't refuse to send any athletes because it would be politically incorrect to do so, of course, but other nations. If a bunch of countries stood up and said "we're not participating in the 2008 summer olympics because we don't agree with how you treat your people", surely that would send a much clearer message to China than a bunch of people on the Internet passing on various petitions saying "Down with this sort of thing"?

Some people are saying we should boycott the olympics by spectators not going. Sure thing! Although, I wouldn't go anyway, so that doesn't seem like much of a statement. I wouldn't go to see the olympics at all, no matter where it was, as I normally don't even sit down to watch it on TV. Going to the other side of the world... Sure, that would be fun to do some day... but that would be as a holiday, not to see a sporting event. Heck, I don't even travel to see a concert! Maybe a few people do wish to travel to the other side of the globe to see the olympics, but they are pretty few and far between, aren't they? Or are people really that devoted? (If so, when did sport become a religion??)

My memory isn't the greatest, so maybe I'm totally wrong. Maybe people petitioned and protested a lot back in 2001 and even before that, to try and stop Beijing from hosting the olympics this year. I don't really know, as I have never really cared enough about the olympics to pay attention.

Lastly, speaking of the Dalai Lama... I find it quite amusing how most people from all walks of life and faith would only have good things to say about him and his teachings. Yet at the same time, a lot of them would scoff and sneer at a person who believes in reincarnation. Have they completely missed the point that the whole thing about the Dalai Lama is that he is (or, "supposed to be", if you prefer) a reincarnation of a Buddhist master. He is believed to be a bodhisattva, meaning a person who is so spiritually enlightened that he or she can enter Nirvana when they die, but who chose not to. Instead, they choose to be reborn into this world of suffering in order to help mankind... sort of thing. Maybe people just don't know. But if they do know, what's the difference between a Tibetan saying he's a reincarnation of a Buddhist Master and your next-door neighbour saying she remembers a past life? One is normally held in high regard, the other one normally dismissed as a lunatic. Where's the sense in that?

Not so frenzied

So far, I've managed to write two pages worth of script. I should've been on 40 at the end of today... which isn't very likely to happen. Oh well, we'll see how it goes. Just thought I'd update you on my Script Frenzy progress. Or lack of it.

EDIT: Been writing some. Am now up to 15 pages, and I still have a large chunk to write down. A large and quite funny chunk, if I may say so myself.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Roleplay-related testing

The Bartle Test
Based on your answers you are ...


AESK players are interested in the player-versus-environment aspect of the game more than anything else. They are often soloists who want to achieve and see what the world has to offer. Often, they find groups cumbersome and PVP to be more an annoyance than a feature.

Breakdown: Achiever 66.67%, Explorer 66.67%, Killer 20.00%, Socializer 46.67%

Online Alignment Test

Based on your answers to the quiz, your character’s most likely alignment is Chaotic Neutral.

Chaotic Neutral

A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. The chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). The common phrase for chaotic neutral is "true chaotic." Remember that the chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it. Chaotic neutral is the best alignment you can be because it represents true freedom both from society’s restrictions and from a do-gooder’s zeal.

--excerpted from the Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6

Would you like a debt collector with that?

It's not a problem getting a credit card if you're in the UK. Shockingly easy, actually. Imagine the old fast food joint thing about "would you like fries with that?" - well, here it's like "would you like a credit card with that?" I find it quite disturbing, to be honest, because at the same time, we're showered with commercials about debt consolidation and personal loans and reports that people are in over their heads in debt.

Everyone seems to offer credit cards as well, so it's not just banks and actual credit card companies. It's supermarkets, airlines and other stores to name but a few. Even the RSPCA offer one! (Same goes for insurance policies, come to think of it.)

When I moved over, we went to the bank to get me a bank account. I went there to get a bank account and left with a current account, a savings account, Internet banking, a cheque book, a debit card and a credit card. For free. Just like that. Even though I had only moved over not long before and didn't have a job or any money, I could basically put myself in a £1000 debt on my credit card straight away, had I wanted to. That sounds wrong to me.

In Sweden, you pay for a lot of things. Some I agree with, some I don't. For instance, a common Swedish bank charges 155 SEK (ca £12) annually for using their online services. On the other hand, the security of Swedish Internet banking is considerably higher than the British. The British system is a joke! In Britain, you have an ID number to fill in, then you're asked about your date of birth, and get to give 3 random numbers from your 6-digit password. That's all. Once you're logged in, there's no verification when you add a new payee or want to pay something. You're asked if you're sure you want to proceed with the transaction, and click yes and it's done. Simple as that. Logging into my Swedish bank requires a lot more. On the site, I type in my full birth number (birthdate and four numbers which combined are unique to you and used as an ID), and then gets taken to a page with an 8-digit code. This code I have to type into a device that looks like a calculator, so I power it up, enter a pin number, type in the 8-digit code, which the "calculator" transforms into another 8-digit code which you enter on the page. This code is only valid for 3 minutes, so no dawdling when you log in. If you want to add a new payee, you have to get the number gizmo out again and confirm it. Same when you want to confirm a payment. You can log in using just a password and your birth ID number thingy, but that will only allow you to see your balance and transfer money from one of your accounts to another.

Spot the difference? Sure, the British online banking is free to use (good), but the security leaves me unconvinced (bad), as I know how good it can be. Also, I think paying bills in at the branch is free as well (good). If you're paying in a bill in the bank or post office branch in Sweden, you're charged 50 SEK (ca £4) per bill (bad, real bad), which means three bills alone will pay for the Internet banking, as in online banking, you're not charged anything to pay in bills. You just pay for the service itself.

Cheque books are free in the UK - just as well, as they're actually in frequent use by people. Cheques in Sweden are a very rare occurance, and I doubt you'd get a cheque book for free. You'd have to cash it in a branch, of course, and that's not free.

So what about credit and debit cards in Sweden? That's the funny thing when I was getting my UK account. They asked if I wanted cards with that... and I asked about the price. They looked slightly puzzled by this, because you only get charged for a card if you're overdrawn or don't use it at all in Britain, it would seem. In Sweden, if you want to use a Visa card, you have to pay 250 SEK (ca £19) a year, regardless of if you use it or not. MasterCard and Maestro range from 195 SEK (ca £15) to 220 SEK (ca £17) per annum. If you have a Maestro card, though, you can add a free service called an eCard to it, which is a little computer program that generates a temporary credit card number which you can use for secure online purchases. You put a time and spending limit on it, see. Excellent little thing!

Even though I don't like being charged for having a card, I think it's a good idea, actually. If you have to pay in order to have one, you're not as likely to get yourself a stash of credit cards and juggle balance transfers and getting into loads of debt. If you have the one credit card, there's only one credit limit to worry about. It limits overspending.

As it stands now, I have two credit cards. If I was in Sweden, I'd have one, or none at all. I'd be quite happy to just stick with my debit card for in-store purchases and use the eCard for online purchases. That's what I did when I lived there, and got on swell. Was I ever in debt due to overspending on credit cards? Certainly not.

And I haven't even mentioned that you normally have to show your ID card for credit/debit card purchases over 100 or 200 SEK in Sweden. That tops chip and pin. Chip and pin isn't as secure as they say it is anyway, as the pin code can be intercepted.

ID cards, by the way... is another discussion. I think an ID card system like the one that's been used in Sweden for ages is great. It contains that birth ID number, your full name, your signature and your picture. That's about it. The one proposed in the UK just seems like overkill. To say they would help prevent terrorism is laughable. It's not as if your ID card would say "Terrorist" on it, for starters. But I suppose it's just another one of those things that show how much of a confused mess this country is. Not that Sweden is Utopia in any way, it may still be a bit of a mess - but at least it's an organised mess.