Phil Dreizen

Everything rusts, including websites
February 19, 2017, 9:26 pm

I had been using twitterfeed as the means for automatically publishing posts from this blog to facebook. IIRC, twitterfeed would read from the rss feed and publish the latest posts. Well, twitterfeed closed their doors on Oct 2016. I'll have to find a new solution.

De-Googling my life - Introduction
February 19, 2017, 1:26 pm

I'm beginning the process of switching away from google as much as I can. There are several issues I have with continuing to use their services.

Google is an advertising company. When you use one of their products you are not their customer. Google's primary goal is to find a way to advertise to you. This has several consequences. Most troubling is that, in the persuit of this goal, all their software will collect an uncomfortable amount of information about the people using it. Gmail scans your email, search keeps track of everything you search, Google Maps for Android is constantly tracking your location, even more insidiously Google Play Store does the same. Google chrome tracks, well, every place you go. I'm fairly sure that Google Analytics primarily exists in large part to track users who are not part of the Google ecosystem, which is particularly intrusive since this is done without any consent.

Besides the privacy issue, not being google's customer changes the relationship you have with the company. Try getting in touch with anyone at Google, Facebook, or Instagram. Even if something serious happened. It's nearly impossible. (I can speak from experience here). These companies are not really beholden to you because you are not their customers, and they only care about user experiences in aggregate.

They exibit a lot of monopolistic behavior. Many of their services were not developed by google but were acquired. This includes: Google Docs, Youtube, Android, Google Voice...I suspect this list continues for quite a bit.

Now, I was/am a heavy user of Google. I've been using their search since the early 2000s, I've been using GMail since the days it required an invitation to join. I heavily use Google Maps. I watch a lot of videos on Youtube. For a while I had switched away from FireFox to Chrome.

Even this website makes use of google. The inconsolata webfont is from Google Fonts. There is a google search bar on the archives page. I've used youtube for sharing music here. And on one post used Google Ngrams.

Some fair questions to ask are: are Google's products always the best available, or are there better alternatives? Is the price of intrusion of privacy really the better option than paying money to a different company that provides the same service? Are there FOSS alternatives? I don't want to be too extreme here: I'm okay with watching a video on Youtube if it's something I want to watch and there is no alternative. But where possible, I want to find that alternative. My plan is to document the effort here.

Hello world, yet again, yet again
February 16, 2017, 3:03 am

I'm going to start using again, damn it! Really! It's just a matter of getting into the habit of using it.

I'm sure you are awaiting anxiously for the next post...

Hello World again! Also: A New Look!
August 30, 2016, 3:44 am

Hello world, yet again. The first new post in over 2 years. Has it really been 2 years since I played that crazy Barbarian Prince session? Yes.

With this new post comes minor changes to the look. First, I've changed the font to inconsolata. I don't think I had realized just how relatively bad Courier New really is until recently, and I've settled on inconsolata as my monospace font of choice at the moment. I've also lowered the contrast, on the recommendation of Web Design in 4 Minutes, and do think it looks a tad better.

The anti-climatic death of an incompetent tragic prince
July 25, 2014, 2:34 pm

The following is the story of Cal Arath, a Barbarian Prince who lost his kingdom. Forced to flee his homeland, with little money and no friends, he began a journey to regain what was rightfully his.

Cal Arath began his tragic journey north of the Tragoth river. Not well versed in the ways of the sea, or rivers, he failed to find his way south over it. Fortune smiled on him the following day, however, when he ran into a raftsman willing to ferry him south west to the city of Cumry...for a fee.

What better way to regain a Kingdom than to banter in the taverns of Cumry, seeking information and making friends? Though Cal found no useful information or any followers who sympathized with his quest in the days he spent seeking whatever he might find, he did grow rather fond of Cumry and its people. That is why what came to pass is so tragic. His time in the taverns proving fruitless, Cal sought council with the town leaders, hoping for some ally or any information at all. Insecure and threatened by Cal's powerful visage, the leaders of Cumry instead threw Cal into the dungeons, under the pretense that he insulted the mayor's wife.

For nearly a week Cal spent his days languishing in the dank pits of Cumry's dungeon, but not before being stripped of what few possessions he had. On the sixth day of imprisonment, he escaped to the hills northwest of the city. After a few uneventful days of foraging and hunting for food, Cal decided it was time to pay Cumry a visit.

Getting to Cumry would be no easy task. To get there he needed to avoid a rather large group of Cumry lawmen that were seeking him. Arriving in the city after some evasion, Cal was intercepted by two well armed, and wealthy looking, city guards. Robbed of all his money before being thrown into the dungeon, Cal knew he needed some gold, and these guards were surely no match for a Barbarian Prince wielding the mighty Bonebiter.

A vicious battle ensued, and though Cal Arath emerged the victor, he was only a little richer, and seriously wounded. He had no choice but to return to the refuge in the hills, northwest of the city, where he spent the next week recovering and looking for food.

On one of his days of rest, he came upon ancient ruins that he, and his mapmaker, had not known existed so close to a major densely populated town. Tempted by the treasures he might find, Cal Arath explored the ruins. On an altar, protected by a magic spell of unknown power, sat a ring. Unfazed by the magically induced fear that came upon him as his approached the ring, he discovered the spell was nothing but a harmless ruse. And he was awarded for his bravery: a Resistance Ring!

Exploring the ruins became an obsession. If the ruins had magical rings laying around on altars, protected by practically nothing at all, it might have more riches to offer him. Twice Cal Arath faced fearsome spectral figures that threatened to whisk him away to astral dimensions. But with his ring, nothing could harm him.

When Cal found a room filled with ancient treasures, guarded by four ghostly warriors, he brazenly charged into battle. Fortune would not smile upon him for his foolhardiness this day. After felling his first Wraith Warrior, his ring failed him, melting into nothingness as the three remaining ghostly warriors attempted to avenge their recently vanquished friend. They beat the now vulnerable trespasser mercilessly.

Shocked and beaten, Cal fled from the ruins to south. He had no chance to rest. The next day, as he tried to recover from his recent failure, an opportunistic great cat leaped out of seemingly nowhere. With what energy he could muster, he killed the cat. And ate it.

A day of peace finally came to pass the next day. Though his body was still covered in wounds, Cal Arath felt confident in his hunting skills, and he he sought to find a meal. An extremely foolish thing to do, given the ample rations he was carrying with him at the time.

There, in the open countryside, the once mighty Cal Arath, Prince and rightful heir of the Northern Kingdoms, tripped, fell, and broke his head while looking for some food.

The story above was a session report of a solitaire game called "Barbarian Prince" that I posted to BGG.