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    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    More than a mere status update

    Gina and I did indeed talk last night. We also cried, screamed, argued, accused, denied, walked away, came back and tried again and so on.

    We are both really hurt and angry and the issues between us are complex and easily misunderstood. As is often the case in such situations between people who care about each other, but who end up here, we are both right and we are both wrong.

    On the other hand a few days in Hell can sober the mind and dissipate the anger as few things can and when two people care enough to try and remain respectful to one another despite their pain communication is at least possible. Even if solutions seem out of reach.

    The one thing that has been strange throughout this was going through all of this in such a public way. First at the Farpoint Convention and secondly on line through Facebook and so on. This has been both very difficult and embarrassing to us and yet, at the same time, the source of great support and compassion. For those of you who have known us for any length of time you know this is not how we usually conduct our private business and it’s been very painful for both of us.

    I want to apologize first and foremost to our children who through no fault of their own have had to endure the emotional brunt of this. I want to apologize to all our friends and other family members for putting them trough this as well. I especially want send a special apology and thank you to Dawn, Dennis, Jo, Paul, Steve and to my friend Pete for being there for both of us.

    I am so sorry for all of this. Please believe this and try to find the grace to forgive me.

    In the end Gina and I have decided to try and reconcile.
    We have both apologized to each other and agreed to redouble our efforts to work things out.
    We’re taking it slowly, but we both want to try and that’s something.

    To that end, last night, we each placed our wedding bands back on each other’s hands.

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Remember My Name - Toy Matinee

    Living by the printed page
    The landmarks of the age
    I find... a coat that's poorly lined
    Handed down from time to time
    Waiting for the sun to shine

    Standing here amidst this crowd
    And wondering aloud
    I find... a joke that's poorly timed
    Thinking back to simpler days
    Of waiting for a light to change

    No one can take this away from me
    The martyrs and madmen I learned of in school
    Will remember my name
    Some things are never the way they seem
    Bury our centuries' wasted regrets
    And remember this reign

    Walking from the weary gloom
    The din of empty rooms
    I find... a poem that's poorly rhymed
    And waiting for the walls to fall
    I'm stunned by the failure of it all

    No one can take this away from me
    Spellbound in anger my heroes have failed
    To remember my name
    Some things are never the way they seem
    Buy up our centuries' bleeding remains
    And remember this reign

    It's only water falling down
    It's only water in my tears
    It's only water drowning me
    It's only water for all these years

    And waiting for the walls to fall
    I'm stunned by the failure of it all

    News and 10 things I want you to know

    First the news:

    After ten years of marriage, Gina and I have split up.

    Now the 10 things I want you to know:

    I’ve been through a bad time lately and when I asked for a little help, I meant it.
    I really did try!
    In the short term I will be looking for some additional work (nights and weekends) to pay down some debt, so I may not be around much.
    I’ll be taking this time to reinvent myself and will be replacing a lot of old past times (Science Fiction Cons & Renaissance Festivals) with new ones (Undecided and I have no idea yet).
    I am not looking for someone new, nor is there anyone “waiting in the wings”. I’m alone and I deliberately intend to be alone for some time to come.
    This is not acrimonious. I still care about her and will do all I can for her and wish her nothing but good things in her life.
    I have been lucky to have her in my life at all, and I know it. We had a great run and, while it lasted, it was the best thing in my life.
    Lately we’ve grown apart, fallen out of touch and just seem to be headed in different directions.
    I still love her and always will but . . .
    It’s over.

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    Captain Logan’s Star Trek: Online Review

    Before we delve in here let me be clear, this is not a video game review written by someone who is an expert on video games and video game play. This is review written from the perspective of someone who is knowledgeable about Starship Operations and Starship Combat.
    (That may seem odd but just play along and it will all make sense as we go. I promise.)

    The game itself:
    Despite attempts to mix in some more peaceful, exploration based missions this game is a pretty straight up combat game. The peaceful exploration missions are clearly just filler and by that I mean that they are basically a walk through. There are not a lot of options to allow for different outcomes. Orders and Reports come in with suggested actions. Not even a menu of choices beyond “do X to proceed” or “Exit”.

    Okay it’s a combat game. So, how is the combat?

    Space Combat:
    One of the first things you notice in the simulation is that they got the distances wrong. Starship weapons optimal range is 40,000Km. Yet in the game you cannot fire at all until 10,000Km. (As a side note; space is really big and if we’re within 10,000Km someone's finger better be hovering over the collision alert alarm.) This seems like a random number that could have been easily reset to the scales we’re already accustomed. Also there is apparently no combat at warp speeds. I’m not sure why this is and in fact the whole impulse / warp speed scale seems a bit off.
    (Here is a Warp Table that spells out Time over Distance:
    But we can't wait for all that we need to keep things moving around here. This is a simulation after all.)

    In actual starship combat there are a number of options. Of course, due to relativistic effects, Phasers are just this side of totally useless at warp, but Torpedoes work just fine provided you fire along the right vector or compensate for the enemy’s position and motion. You can even fire blind against ships that have just cloaked, not here though, impulse only combat and no fire option without a weapons lock.
    Also what looks like a single opponent at warp may in fact be an entire fleet once you drop out to engage. This happens way too often and, if the enemy force is overwhelming, once you engage the enemy fleet you are often destroyed before you can even get a proper scan going. Some of the combat seems lopsided to the point of making one wish for a simple Kobayashi Maru simulation.

    Okay let’s cut to the chase, we’ve got a combat game that only let’s us fight at Impulse speeds, forget everything else how does this work? Well again it’s kind of strange. Let’s start by remembering that actual impulse speeds are not fixed but rather refer to a rate of acceleration. However I can understand that putting all of that acceleration math into the simulation would limit play to super computers so let’s leave that out as well.

    Here we are then, Impulse power, Shields, Phasers, and Torpedoes.
    Let’s break this down.

    Shields: It seems Shields are always up and on full. Power cannot be manually rerouted from one set to another. Also there is not a representation of a dorsal or ventral shield. For the sake of the simulation you get four shields (Port, Starboard, Fore and Aft) in two dimensions. In order to change the enemy facing shield you need to maneuver the entire ship and that brings up another weakness in the simulation. There doesn’t seem to be any compensation for speed versus maneuverability.
    A starship at full impulse does not turn on a dime; you have to bank and turn wide even with your Structural Integrity Fields and Inertial Dampeners running full out. To be fair that does seem to be the way the ship handles in the simulation but there doesn’t seem to be any commensurate ability to turn faster at slower speeds. When I reduce speed I want to be able to spin around and fire on a target not drag my way through a painfully slow rotation just in time to see the target drift past my arc of fire. Maybe this is actually built in to the simulation but, if so, it needs to be tweaked.

    Phasers: Phaser banks are the weapon of choice for overcoming enemy shields, in the simulation and out, but they do much more than that. In the simulation though Phasers seem to have only one setting - full power. The target lock is nice and works as it should but there is no manual ability to increase fire rates by reducing power output. Also the arc of fire is pretty limited leading to a bad habit of just giving the fire all weapons order.

    Torpedoes: The Torpedoes are hull and ship killers but again the configuration is limited and if there is a way to use them as mines - I haven’t found it. The arc of fire here is also pretty limiting. One of the nice things here though is that proximity counts.

    Overall Configuration: The way the Simulation tries to compensate for all of the above is actually pretty interesting. What they have done is allow more exact configuration via NPC assignment. Train up crew people put them in the right stations and the overall stats go up based on where they are. I can increase torpedo yield for a few seconds by telling my Tactical Office to do it. I can use my Science Officer to scramble the enemy’s targeting sensors and so on.   Also my character avatar acquires new skills as I play, I can engage in evasive maneuvers, once I acquire the skill for it.

    How do I make this all work for me?
    As you close on targets, time your orders (IE: scramble the enemy’s targeting sensors) to go into effect just as you enter weapons range. Use the weapons range limitation to your advantage by isolating targets, move just to within 10,000Km of a single target and reduce your speed. Use your Phasers to overcome their shields. Then increase speed, go straight at the enemy, get in close and hit them hard with the Torpedoes. When things get too hot and the shields are failing, don’t panic. Increase speed away from the battle front and let a long sweeping arc give your crew the time to get the shields and weapons back on line, then come back strong.

    Having said all of that it’s still a lot of fun. The map and interface for long range navigation are fairly elegant and allow for a large universe to explore and play in. As a simulation this is one of the nicest features. There is a political history built into the simulation that seems to lend itself to some interesting story telling and expansion in the future. There is some new race called the Undine that are making trouble throughout the galaxy and the Gorn and the Klingons are raising hell. If I had to guess, based on what I’ve read, I’d say the Undine are perhaps a spin off of the Changeling race from the Gamma Quadrant. Maybe one of the Changelings sent out to explore the universe with no memory found a way to reproduce and that ended up creating a new race with no memory of the original race and their own belligerent agenda. That is all speculation of course but part of the fun of the simulation is that it leads to this kind of speculation.

    Look for more updates from Captain Logan as we learn to master the simulation going forward.  

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    To Gina

    I know it's a bit early, but Happy Valentine's Day Baby!
    You make my life worth living!

    Create your own video slideshow at

    Love Always, 

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Robotic Breakthrough May Change The Game

    French Scientists Build First Transistor That Mimics Brain Connections
    Popular Science By Jeremy Hsu

    Let's get that positronic brain rolling

    The thing about this is that it's going to mean a possible radical change in possible design parameters. One of the most exciting things is the possibility of finally crossing the brain / computer interface divide.
    In fiction we've almost always seen artificial brains that are designed separately and that are just as isolated as our own human brains. In reality the solving of the AI problem may be more of a merger between living brains and artificial augmentation right from the get go.