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Other news and happenings - RonO's Ramblings

Feb. 24th, 2007 11:09 pm Other news and happenings

In addition to dodging the travel bullet (see my last posting), this week wasn't entirely uneventful.

On Wednesday, I got an e-mail from a manager in San Diego who had a position I'd applied to through the internal job posting system.

For the last several months, the long term prospects in my current position have gone from looking relatively stable, to potentially going away very soon. (At the moment, I think I'll be OK through this year, but I'm not sure beyond that). Because if this I have been periodically checking out posting on the internal system and applying to onces that look like a possible match. I've tended to apply for positions that were either in Arlington Heights or Schaumburg, or were in other locations I'd be willing to move to -- Phoenix, San Diego, or Seattle for the most part. (I generally don't look at jobs in Libertyville since that would force me into a 45 to 60 minute commute, or require us to move without relocation or tax benefit).

One of my applications had reached the point where the manager, or possibly a technical person, wanted to talk further. We made arrangements for him to call me Thursday evening. We talked for about 15 or twenty minutes. While this phone interview didn't go badly, it could have gone better. The job sounded like something half-way between what I'm doing now and what the common SCM team does. The big skill I was lacking was experience developing for ClearQuest since I'm a ClearCase expert and just a ClearQuest user. (ClearCase provides the revision control part of a Software Configuration Management system, ClearQuest provides the problem tracking). The other, probably bigger, problem is that this position doesn't have relocation. While I didn't remove myself from consideration due to this instantly, it would add another major obstacle to my ability to accept the job should it be offered (which, in turn, reduces the chance of getting the offer or even the follow-up interview).

This afternoon, I returned to a project I abandoned several months ago. I started seeing if I could get mailman working on my home Linux system. After quickly discovering where it was when I gave up, I was able to try a couple of different things to get it working.

What I finally ended up doing was installing it from source (getting a 2 point-revision upgrade in the process) into a directory directly under my main web content directory. This got around the primary permission problem that seemed to be preventing my web server from accessing anything not in that directory or a user's home directory. I did, still, have a couple of additional problems to solve. The last hurdle was taken care of when I updated my postfix configuration to not try to deliver mail sent to "mailman" to "mailman." Once that was eliminated, e-mail to the mailing lists made it to the mailman program and was sent out correctly.

One of the things that prompted me to start playing with mailman again, was the thought that having the ability to have my own mail lists without having to go through another system might be useful for gaming. That had also been the idea that had me trying to set up mailman in the first place. I haven't done any gaming for at least five years, and did very little in the four or file years prior to that. And I am wanting to do some more.

But it's my wife's fault that I was sufficiently motivated to look at mailman today, and equally her fault that I dug out my otherwise unused D&D v3.5 books last weekend and generated a couple of characters. About a month ago, she took Derrick to a comic book store as a reward for having a good visit to Sylvan. While there, she picked up a Dork Tower collection. More recently she ordered most of the earlier collections (except for the first one). Reading these has got me interested in gaming again -- even though I don't think me and my gaming friends were ever quite as obsessed with the hobby as the characters in the Dork Tower

Now, if I could just figure out some way to get a game together, I'd be happy. Most of the people I've played with over the years are elsewhere (San Diego, Albuquerque, Denver, Houghton, and Dexter just to mention the ones I'm fairly sure about) with only a couple left in the Chicago area. And those of us that are here, myself included, tend to be quite busy with other commitments (I've got work, family, church tech crew, graduate classes, karate classes, DucKon, and the Chicon bid; although the last one should be fairly low key for a year or so).

As I mentioned above, last weekend I generated a couple of characters for D&D v3.5. I used a trial tool I downloaded (RGPXplorer) to help with the generation and calculations. I also decided to generate higher level characters. Since I had also downloaded the v3.5 update to a classic AD&D (v1) module (White Plume Mountain) that uses seventh level characters, I generated the characters with experience points needed to get half-way between seventh and eighth level. I then generated two characters.

The first I generated was a half-elf Sorcerer who after two levels switched to become a Monk, making him a 5th level Monk/2nd level Sorcerer. My other character was a rehash of an idea I had for a ref's PC in the last campaign I started to run, but with a key background and class shift. This character ended up as a human seventh level Monk, but with an unusual background in that he came from another universe and a world called "Earth" where he was a Karate black belt. In the background, he was returning from a tournament when he was pulled into the D&D world and met the first character.

Having only generated characters, I admit to seeing a few things I like about D&D v3.x. First, it has finally put in a true skill system, without loosing the fundamental class and level based system that is a key part of the identity of D&D. While I often prefer true skill based systems such as GURPS, Bond and (if I recall correctly) Hero, I wouldn't like to see a game called Dungeons and Dragons that wasn't class and level based. The D&D v3.x/d20 system is a good compromise.

While I think it would take me a bit to get used to it, I think that the Armor Class fix is also a good thing. Making AC the target of the to hit roll is much easier to think about then having to subtract AC -- which was often a negative number -- from the THAC0, or reading the results from tables. Similarly making all skill checks and savings throws work the same way as combat rolls helps. While both of these fixes will mostly benefit beginning players, since experienced players quickly get used to the idea that they have to subtract negative numbers and roll high for combat and low for everything else on a d20, I believe that any change that doesn't scare potential players away from gaming is a good thing.

While it is now almost midnight, and maybe my post bedtime insomnia has been cured, so I ought to shut the computer back down and try going to bed. (At least as soon as I get this entry looking the way it should)

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