Lego One-Seater Sketches

Just a quickie here: I want a couple of little single-seat vehicles to go with my big Classic Space crawler. I’m thinking a ground vehicle and an air vehicle—maybe even a water vehicle—that are basically built around the same plan. The space exploration equivalent of a motorbike or jetski. I’m not entirely sure about size yet, but I know what I want to use for the windscreens, so here are a few preliminary sketches of ideas.

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As you can see, I’m trying out ways to attach the rest of the vehicle to that Bionicle piece that is the windscreen. So far, I’m liking some of the connections and some of the bits of the vehicles, but they’re all much larger than I think I want. I think I’m going for something much closer to motorcycle- or jetski-sized—that is, not much larger than the rider/driver. Maybe that windscreen is just a bit too big for that to work. We’ll see.

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Why Album Art?

Thought of the moment: I don’t think I’ve ever paid any real attention to album covers.

Even as a kid, when all we had was LPs, I don’t recall ever caring what was on them. And there are only a couple albums whose covers I can summon to mind right now (some from childhood, some more recent). I’ve done the “just listening to an album” thing–not doing anything else, just listening. But it never occurred to me to have a visual component to that activity.

I just sorta realized that the experience I’ve heard lots of other music fans describe–of examining the album cover/liner in detail while listening to a new album–is not something I’ve ever done. In fact, if I really want to listen, it’s in the dark. This is probably why the emphasis on “cover art” in iTunes (and elsewhere) has never been helpful for me. Even before I started buying music digitally, before album art went from a square foot to less than a quarter of that, I didn’t pay any attention to the covers of my albums.

For me, album art has always been a useful-but-secondary bit of information. It’s decoration, not a mnemonic. I keep my music in alphabetical order, and I find an album by scanning the titles, not by looking for a familiar image. (It doesn’t help that often the color firmly lodged in my mind as associated with an album is not the color that’s on the spine of the CD case–and sometimes not actually a significant color on the cover, either.)

Thinking more about this, I *do* pay attention to book covers and cover art. I can quickly pick books out on my shelves based just on their spines, and I can describe the covers of favorite books. In fact, I couldn’t find a book that I’d misplaced on my shelves for months, despite doing book-by-book visual searches of the shelves multiple times, because I was looking for the green of the cover and didn’t realize the spine was white. Somehow I simply skipped right over it, mentally, without ever reading its (very clear) title.

With CDs (and LPs, and cassettes) I read the title to find it, and then I might admire the artwork. With books I use some combo of reading the title and recognizing the art to locate a book. Odd.

Uncanny [Interface] Valley?

As I type this, I am deleting Microsoft Office from my computer. I had downloaded the free trial, in order to catch myself up a bit on the programs, for all the job listings that “require” “familiarity with Microsoft Office”, or words to that effect.[0] In some ways, they’ve vastly improved over the last version I used. On the other hand, I’d still take MSWord 5.1 (that’s vintage ’93, for those of you too young to remember) over any version I’ve seen since, if I had the choice. In fact, IMHO, the only application in the bunch that has actually improved in the last few versions is Excel—which is also the only one that is probably superior to its competitors. (I say “probably” because I’m less confident that I’m familiar with all of the options where spreadsheets are concerned.) It looks like the latest versions have stopped moving menu items around, at least—none of that “adapting” to how you work, which completely undermines the muscle memory of where commands are. And, I have to admit, the interfaces really have gotten better.

And yet…

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Flowcharting Dogs in the Vineyard

Just a quickie, here: We recently played Blowback (more on that later), and the flowcharts of action resolution in there reminded me of this. A while back, we played a longer game of Dogs in the Vineyard (more than just a session–a couple months, IIRC). Now, at that point, I’d had the rulebooks (both editions) for a couple years, at least, and had read them cover-to-cover. When we decided to play, I read the book again–this was my 3rd complete readthrough, and I probably read the resolution section more times than that. And I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. Maybe it was the fact that it was split over a dozen pages or so, with no single summary. Maybe it was the writing style. Maybe it was just me–at least one of the people I played with found my flowchart much less clear than the rulebook. Regardless, I obviously needed to know how to roll the dice, etc., if I was going to run the game, so I sat down and flowcharted it. Made for a pretty complex flowchart, as these things go. But, once I had that down, it became crystal clear to me.

So, in case anyone else is having trouble grokking the mechanics of Dogs in the Vineyard, I thought I should share this. I’m releasing this under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. Now, if you need this to keep track of the rules, give it a once-over before you start, or you might miss something. There are several asides with extra bits of the rules that you need to know, but don’t really fit neatly into the flow–so things like a helping demon, or bringing in an object, aren’t directly in the line of chart progression, because they can interrupt at any of a number of points.

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click on either image to get to the full PDF