Nights of the Crusades, Beta Testers Needed

Nights of the Crusades

Nights of the Crusades RPG is ready for broad testing and the call for Beta testers is going out!

Here’s a description of the RPG:

"Nights of the Crusades is a roleplaying game set in a land and time that is familiar on the surface, but within its cracks lie tales of sorcery, madness and violence. It is a world that could have happened and then been lost to barbarity and time. Players take on characters that can explore the places involved in the Crusades, from Egypt, through to Damascus and Jerusalem. The Tale-Weaver is their guide, allowing them to unearth the horrors of war and fanaticism as they pursue their goals. As the main characters come across storytellers in their travels, they will take part in a new story within the story of their main narrative. Magic, djinn and foul beasts lurk within the minds of the storytellers, yet many secrets and shards of knowledge can be found within these tales.

And the real world is not free from horror. The land is rife with dark cults, creatures that dwell in unseen places and bloodthirsty warriors. This is a time when anyone’s thoughts, from king to slave, are enough to condemn them to death and hell, and many are they that will line up to cheer the execution. Nights of the Crusades is a mixture of the Arabian Nights, the history surrounding the Crusades and both modern and ancient tales of terror.

The rules hope to reflect mature and gritty issues that are not catered to in many popular RPGs, such as the psychological impacts of combat and killing. The gameplay also allows for tension in every form of conflict, whether verbal or physical. A group of companions made up of an artist, diplomat and physician will be as enjoyable to play as one made up of a warrior, archer and thief."

You can download the rulebook here: http://www.mediafire.com/?ucehhm0z4byminp

The rulebook is quite large (25MB) because it’s around 100 pages with illustrations, but it’s been compressed as much as possible without impacting the quality.

You can find more details at their Facebook page or at their web site with forums: http://nightsofthecrusades.freeforums.org/.

Sign-up For Free Stanford Game Theory Course

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Stanford University is offering a free online course on Game Theory, class starts in January 2012 and I’m signing up! If you’re not familiar with game theory and how it can be applied to everyday use, here’s the course’s intro:

Popularized by movies such as "A Beautiful Mind", game theory is the mathematical modeling of strategic interaction among rational (and irrational) agents. Beyond what we call ‘games’ in common language, such as chess, poker, soccer, etc., it includes the modeling of conflict among nations, political campaigns, competition among firms, and trading behavior in markets such as the NYSE. How could you begin to model eBay, Google keyword auctions, and peer to peer file-sharing networks, without accounting for the incentives of the people using them? The course will provide the basics: representing games and strategies, the extensive form (which computer scientists call game trees), Bayesian games (modeling things like auctions), repeated and stochastic games, and more. We’ll include a variety of examples including classic games and a few applications.

Visit the Stanford Game Theory course page here and lets sign up together.

Naughty or Nice

Just in time for Christmas, a couple of enterprising folks created a simple website to determine whether people have been naughty or nice this year. Simply log in via your Facebook or Twitter account and the website’s server parses all the tweets or posts for the year and determines whether you’ve been naughty or nice.

That’s an objective way of determining whether your stocking will see gifts or coal this year.

http://naughtyniceapp.com 

Check out the site to see the results of parsing some famous people.

How Woodpeckers Avoid Head Injury

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Head injury is a leading cause of morbidity and death, it’s estimated that brain injuries account for 15% of the burden of fatalities and disabilities in people. It’s also a leading cause of death in young adults. However, the woodpecker does not experience any head injury at the high speed of 6 m/s with a deceleration of 1000g when it drums a tree trunk. It’s still not known how woodpeckers protect their brain from injury.

Slow-motion footage, X-ray images and computer simulations have shed light on how woodpeckers avoid injuries to their brains as they peck. The findings could help design more effective head protection for humans.

BBC Science has the details on the investigation, this is good stuff.

The BBC article is based on a paper “Why Do Woodpeckers Resist Head Impact Injury: A Biomechanical Investigation”. You can read the paper and it’s abstract here.

R.I.P Steve Jobs

Steve_Jobs

In honor of Steve Jobs passing away today, here’s a couple of his quotes that resonate with me.

“You’ve gotta find what you love”

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

New Geeky T-shirts

Sebastian from www.604Republic.com alerted me to some new tees now available.

The first one is called Beam This!, Batman vs. Star Trek? Please don’t make me choose one over the other in that battle.  🙂 The description at the page describes it as “This poor red shirted bastard had no idea what he was beaming into. Apparently into a massive uppercut. ”

beam_me_up(clicky)

The next shirt is called Intoxicate and is described as “This robotic destruction machine decided that getting sloshed would be preferable to his usual battle cry of extermination.”. Could it be a cross between a Dalek and the drunkeness of Bender?

intoxicate(clicky)

Zombie Head Bowlingballs

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Like a lot of you I find adverts on TV to be interesting to examine both for the technological marvel and for the entertainment, but especially look forward to those for the pure geek factor. I ran across this cool advert on adweek.com regarding a promotion being run on the top horror channel on German TV – Street 13.

In the ad, bowling balls are replaced in the ball return tray with a grotesque, decapitated head that you have to lift by its bloody, vacant eye socket and deformed nostril.

How cool is that?

You can see more photos of the art work here at behance.net, view the video below.

13th STREET – Bowlingheads (Case Video) from RUOK on Vimeo.

 

Here’s some link love for Justin D.:
www.wantitall.co.za
www.insurance.co.za

Galaxiki: A Sci-Fi Galaxy You’re Invited to Help Shape & Edit

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At Galaxiki.org, each star, each planet and each moon in this online fictional galaxy is represented by a wiki page that can be edited by its site members. Users can make changes to solar systems, add creatures and write stories. One of the main goals is to invent and write collaborative stories, which requires users to make sure their solar system histories remain compatible.

You can also edit most of the solar system physics, add or edit planetary rings as well. There are also social networking features including solar system ratings and comments, bookmarks, user awards and user status updates.

Galaxiki membership and editing community stars is free. Though some users want to own a personal solar system that cannot be edited by other members, you can get your own personal system by making a donation.

The Most Common Smartphone Passcodes

 

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Daniel Amitay collected passcodes from thousands of iPhones and provides some analysis of the passcodes people are using on the smartphone. This is really interesting stuff.

The Top 10 iPhone passcodes were: 1234, 0000, 2580, 1111, 5555, 5683, 0852, 2222, 1212, 1998

Is yours listed?  🙂

A couple of things to note here, I think his sample size is probably large enough that the data is probably roughly applicable to Android and WP7 as well, not just limited to the behaviors of iPhone users themselves.

If you want just the analysis, head to the link above. If you want the backstory around how he collected this information, it starts with the Big Brother Camera app for the iPhone which reached #18 most popular iPhone application. Then leads to analysis of passcodes his app was sending back (not the screen unlock codes!), and eventually the back and forth with Apple as they removed his app.

In Space News This Week…

 

Gale Crater next landing site for Mars rover [NASA]
NASA’s next Mars rover will land at the foot of a layered mountain inside the planet’s Gale crater. The car-sized Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity, is scheduled to launch late this year and land in August 2012.

Race to the Moon Heats Up for Private Firms [NYTimes]
Now that the last space shuttle has landed back on Earth, a new generation of space entrepreneurs would like to whip up excitement about the prospect of returning to the Moon.

Astronomers Find Largest, Most Distant Reservoir of Water [Int’l Business Times]
Astronomers found a reservoir of water measuring 140 trillion times the earth’s ocean water in space.  The reservoir of water is the most distant ever discovered in the universe. The water surrounds a giant feeding black hole called a "quasar" and is located more than 12 billion light-years away.

Comediva: Where the Funnygirls Are

Comediva.com is a brand new comedy site for women that has a bunch of new, original content they’re posting every day. This is a good time to get your geek on with Comic Con happening right now. They’ve got a “ton” of  high brow and low brow stuff, editorials, comics and much more.

I particularly got a chuckle out of this video where the Geek Counselor measures a client’s G.Q., or Geek Quotient, and discovers that even she can’t help everyone.

Scientists: Stinky Sock Smell Helps Fight Malaria

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From Seattle Times:

The smell of old socks can help fight malaria by attracting mosquitoes to a trap outdoors, scientists have found, and on Wednesday donors announced new funding to help develop the device.

Traps scented with the odor of human feet attracted four times as many mosquitoes as a human volunteer, said Dr. Fredros Okumu, the head of the research project at Tanzania’s Ifakara Health Institute. Mosquitoes who fly into the trap are then poisoned.

This is a big deal because according to the World Heath Org there are 3.3 Billion people at risk of malaria infection. Of those, 250 Million malaria cases occur per year and about 1 Million deaths result from it.

Home Depot’s Latest Small Wind Deal

Green Power

CNET blogger Candace Lombardi alerts us to the fact that Home Depot has a new Wind Power turbine available for installation on your personal property. The unit is called the Skystream 3.7 Personal Wind Turbine by Southwest Windpower and costs between $15-20,000 (includes installation).

This is a nice “little” unit to tell the truth. The rotor diameter is 12 feet, produces power at 8mph wind (3.5m/s), can generate as much as 400kWh/month and has a wireless monitoring system so you can view the health of the system from the house.

Of course, before you venture down this path the first thing you should do is check out their free wind energy assessment for your property. You could do the quick and dirty self assessment by examining a wind map for your region. It seems my locale is a “Poor Resource Potential” based on my property’s location, which is just as well because I don’t think our Home Owner’s Association would take kindly to me erecting a 30-40ft tower in the backyard. 🙂

  – View the spec page on the Skystream 3.7.

  – Download and read the Spec Sheet (pdf).

Disclosure: I’m very bullish on the Alternative Energy sector and I invest in this area as well (PWND, Wind Energy ETF). Even though my results in the last year have not faired well due to some heavy hitters giving up hope, I shall continue to believe. 🙂

Geek News Links (and MERMAIDS!) –June 22, 2011

 

News flash

Top_SecretNSA Declassifies 200-Year-Old Book [Wired]
A cryptology instruction book… 202 years old. A photograph of the U.S. Army’s cypher bureau… from 1919. A breakdown of Russian electoral districts… circa 1948. Schematics for a magnetic tape memory system… nearly half a century old. These are just some of the items that, had you seen them, would have irreparably damaged U.S. national security.

cat visionNight Vision Contact Lenses? [Defense Tech]
Were the Seal Team 6 commandos that took out Bin Laden were wearing “cat vision” contact lenses? This is pure speculation in the article but interesting nonetheless.

popcapMystery buyer for game developer PopCap Games? [CNET]
PopCap Games, the company behind the hit titles Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies, is reportedly in the process of being acquired for more than $1 billion.

WarningBaltimore IT Admin Hacked Porn Into CEO’s PowerPoint Presentation [ExtremeTech]
Do you really need to read this article to understand the story? Just let this be a lesson to those that unceremoniously fire the IT Pro.

BONUS:

I see from the traffic to Geeknews that a lot of you are coming here to see Mermaids. Hookay, so here’s another mermaid for you…

Mermaid22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Lost’ Bats Found Breeding, Today’s Ejaculation Advice, Energy Drinks Lead to Substance Abuse

I’m a fan of ScienceBlog, it covers everything from nanotechnology to entropy in the universe and everything in between. If you are into science in general I highly recommend this site. Here’s a sample of articles I read today from their RSS feed. I’m subscribed:

Energy Drinks Linked to Substance Use in Musicians

Frequent use of energy drinks is associated with binge drinking, alcohol-related social problems and misuse of prescription drugs among musicians, according to researchers at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions.

Is Today’s Ejaculation Advice Right for Our Species?

For the last half-century, Western sexologists have advised men to ejaculate as frequently as the urge arises, on a par with nose-blowing. But what if this advice is not supported by the data biologists are turning up?

‘Lost’ bats found breeding on Sicily

A University of Exeter biologist has discovered a ‘lost’ species of bat breeding on the Isles of Scilly (UK). A pregnant female brown long-eared bat is the first of its species to be found on the islands for at least 40 years. It was discovered by Dr Fiona Mathews, Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter, a postgraduate student and a team from the Wiltshire Bat Group.