# Isqua Istari

The Wise Wizards

### Critical Damage and Random Numbers

Posted in Articles,Other by Ziggy Sunday February 10, 2019 at 21:25

So I was thinking about critical hits, where some attacks do much more damage than others. Normally, this is just a 2x or 3x bonus. But what if you wanted occasional 30 or 200 times the damage? And what if you wanted to use this system for more than just damage? City sizes and skill checks and so forth. The random number generator would need to be on a continuous scale, instead of occasional discrete bonuses.

And more importantly, how would you balance this? It wouldn’t be fair if critical attacks greatly boosted DPS. Or if skill checks that were bursty gave an advantage.

So, basically, I wanted a random number generator with a consistent average value, and a variable range, without going negative. For simplicity, I used an exponential system. So, if the variance is 2, you can get numbers anywhere between 1/2 (0.5) and 2, with an average of 1. Or, if the variance is 471, you’ll get values between 1/471 (0.0021231…) and 471, but the average value will still be 1.

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### The Cross and the Atheist

Posted in Articles,Other by Ziggy Sunday December 30, 2018 at 09:05

As Chesterton so carefully hinted in “Orthodoxy”, Christ during the passion appears, for a moment, to approach atheism. From this, atheism appears a moral human response to deep suffering, fear, and isolation. This insight should alter how we think about those exhibiting signs of atheism, and their place in a society.

Specifically, we should care for atheists like we do for the other suffering; with compassion, and without the burden of avoidable responsibilities. Most would be loath to burden a recovering combat casualty with duties on the front line. It is understood that they are very likely suffering greatly, and that their suffering will unacceptably interfere with the effective execution of their duties. The wounded are a liability on the battlefield, and we treat them with compassion (where possible) by removing them to a safe distance from the conflict. So too, we should look on the atheist with the eyes of compassion, and understand that their deep suffering should excuse them from unnecessary participation major responsibilities such as marriage, law enforcement, and public office.

There is a sense, today, that being involved in religion renders you unfit for politics, teaching, and science. But it seems that this is exactly and precisely wrong.

### Householder

Posted in Articles,Other by Ziggy Wednesday December 26, 2018 at 09:32

I received a book for Christmas this year (from my Mother, as is often the case) titled “Man of the House” by C.R. Wiley. Although I have not read the entire thing I have skimmed it deeply enough to gain a sense of the contents.

The subtitle of the book is “A handbook for building a shelter that will last in a world that is falling apart” but I felt that I was holding less of a handbook and more of an apology. (more…)

### The density of Plutonium

Posted in Articles,Other by Ziggy Monday November 6, 2017 at 16:36

I noticed that the density numbers were missing from the Plutonium isotope pages on Wikipedia. If we take the Pu244 density of 19.816 g/cm3 from the wikipedia page as veracious, the other isotope densities are easy to derive. Since the chemical density is essentially identical, due to the proton identity, all that is left is to scale the density linearly with atomic weight. This gives us values of:

 Pu isotope Density (g/cm3) 244 19.816 243 19.735 242 19.654 241 19.572 240 19.491 239 19.410 238 19.329

Now that there is a reference, we can add this info to Wikipedia, thereby completing the process of citogenesis.

XKCD by Randall Munroe, used without permission.

In order to perform a check against the veracity of this data, let’s figure out how much the released energy will alter the mass of the isotope. For a gram of Pu238, we get 0.568 W, which, over double the half-life period of 87.7 years, yields 3.1 GJ of energy. From E=mC^2, we find that this will reduce the mass of one gram of plutonium by 0.35 μg, seven orders of magnitude below our threshold of accuracy. So the binding energy of the Pu nucleus can not significantly influence the density, which confirms our calculations as valid.

Since “worth his weight in gold” is a common phrase, I wondered what would happen if one was made of their weight in plutonium. Since plutonium is about 20 times denser than water, that gives us a person 2.71 times smaller than a normal person. Since this would also be far above the critical mass for plutonium, this person would promptly explode.

### Planet by Oskar, Now with Saves and Keyboard Shortcuts

Posted in Articles,Other by Ziggy Sunday September 18, 2016 at 08:46

Oskar Stålberg wrote this lovely little piece of software which he titled his “Polygonal Planet Project”.

Unfortunately, it had no keyboard shortcuts or save/load functionality… so Dru hacked it in! It’s currently a single-file “quicksave” sort of functionality, but it seems to work in the cases we’ve tested. It makes the game much more enjoyable, we think! Currently saves are hard-coded to /path/to/Planet/planetsave.cfg.

F5: Save to File

### The Bible and IP

Posted in Articles,Other by Ziggy Thursday June 9, 2016 at 09:26

I have already endeavored to examine (and dismantle) the logical foundations of the idea of Intellectual Property, but before this writing the religious justification or refutation has gone largely untouched.

For this study I will be sourcing exclusively from the KJV translation of the Bible, which you can download for free here. I will be referencing by book and chapter only, and will quote sparing context, as the full text is available and searchable.

But first, I feel it is healthy to address a few of the…

## Common Scriptures Referenced in Relation to Intellectual Property

Exodus 20 is often quoted as evidence for the validity of IP. However, this argument presumes both that ideas are property and can be stolen. I would say that neither are true, but either way this passage does not enlighten us on the definition of theft. It does, however, bring up a much more interesting point which I will go into further on, as regards both dishonesty and covetousness. (more…)

### Real Theoretical Conundrum

Posted in Other by Ziggy Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 12:31

I am struggling with a system I don’t completely understand.

Running a sequence of tests.

Suddenly! Struck by an expression which is exactly what I wanted. An image of my deepest hopes, long longed for but never fully expressed. A glorious flash of perfection.

But I realize that the problem still exists. The perfection is fatally flawed. In fact, the flaw is now dreadfully obvious, and what I love in the system will be destroyed when the flaw is addressed.

I fix the flaw, and the system is mundane again.

I am struggling with a problem I don’t completely understand.

### TUNR: Charge More for Violence

Posted in Other by Ziggy Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 12:22

My response to: TUN Slow Down the Violence
People play to learn. We want to learn things that are expensive to learn. Killing people is the most expensive thing that we know about, so it makes total sense to learn about it in games instead of through real life.

Also, “shooting” is much easier to implement than other forms of personal violence (wrestling, swordplay, etc). It’s basically just a mouse click on a target, and doesn’t usually involve much reaction other than target tracking.

I agree that adding needless violence is a bad habit, but violence in itself isn’t bad. Employing violence is a good idea in the right context. Given the insane cost of killing actual people, killing people in games seems like a pretty good context to me.

### Stratasys Catalyst CMB file parser

Posted in Other by Ziggy Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 12:11

A company I used to work for owned a Stratasys 3d printer. The program that sends print files to the printer is called CatalystEX, and while it imports industry standard STL files, it exports and saves in the (almost certainly proprietary) CMB file format. These files encode the tool path that the printer uses to build the parts, so modifying it makes it possible to modify the print.
Why might one wish to modify the print? Perhaps because Catalyst is very “user friendly” and not a “powerful editing tool” like “some other programs” namely Blender. So, I started writing a bit of Python code capable of importing a CMB into Blender for editing, and then exporting the modified CMB for printing.

I didn’t get very far, but was making decent progress. I left the company, and no longer have access to the printer, and therefore further work would be highly difficult to carry out.

This effort was made feasible (and very likely possible at all) due to the extensive previous work of Andreas Reichinger which went into picking apart the CMB file format, which (at the time of this writing) can be found here: https://azttm.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/inside-the-stratasys-dimension-catalyst-cmb-file-format/

As I mentioned, I didn’t get very far, but I did manage to discover that the ”27 bytes ?” field was actually 35 bytes long. Not sure what it contains, or if it’s per-printer or what. I also never got around to writing out modified part programs, so I don’t know if there’s a sum-check built in or anything.

Below is the full text of the reverse-engineering reference, just in case the link goes off-line: (more…)

### PS Cast: Audio Experiment

Posted in Other,PSCast:S2 by Ziggy Wednesday January 14, 2015 at 00:15

You might well point out that this whole podcast thing is really just one big experiment, but this episode is even more-so. I’m not going to transcribe it. I was trying to record audio by using my headphones as a microphone. It didn’t work super great, but it creates pretty good binaural stereo, so there’s that. Listen if you want to, I think I had some interesting things to say somewhere in there.