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Permalink 02:03:45 pm, by millercommamatt, 22 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Stop-Motion Building of the Lego Millennium Falcon

This is completely awesome. It a movie of the assembly of the 5200 piece Lego Millennium Falcon assembled by Lego Star Wars characters.


Permalink 04:59:17 pm, by millercommamatt, 215 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Heroes Season Finale

The season finale of Heroes was last night. I thought I would chime in real quick an comment on the stupidity of the ending. The thing that really got me was that after Nathan was killed and Sylar was subdued, they decided that they should use Matt Parkman to brainwash Sylar into thinking he's Nathan and basically us his shapeshifting powers and memory absorption powers to be a walking copy of Nathan. Why they chose such a complicated and error prone plan is beyond me. Why not use Claire's blood to bring Nathan back to life. I mean, it's not like they haven't seen it done. Then, with the real Nathan back, toss Sylar into a plasma furnace and reduce him to superheated ionized gas. If that won't kill him nothing will. I know logic and drama tend to oppose each other - especially on network television - but last night's Heroes steps so far away from a logical and reasonable course of action that the viewers should be able to buy it.

This seasons there hasn't been a character on the show that has consistently behaved in a logical manner. In fact, I think I can image how filming went.

"Hey director, why is my character doing this again?"

"Because the writer said so!"


Permalink 12:50:05 pm, by millercommamatt, 36 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Fellowship Renewed

My NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship was renewed! I can stay in graduate school another year! This will be my final renewal.

Click here to read the post where I was first awarded the fellowship.


Permalink 03:39:01 pm, by millercommamatt, 85 words   English (US)
Categories: General, Wine

Broccoli Slaw with Asian Dressing and Grilled Tuna

Last night I made a really good dinner. Christina and I had a broccoli slaw with an Asian salad dressing made with sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and mushroom bits. On top of that slaw/salad I served yellowfin tuna grilled rare and coated with more of that same dressing and sesame seeds. I paired my plate with a very nice sake served cold while Christina paired her plate with an American-style lager. We enjoyed our lovely meal outside on the back porch.


Permalink 03:42:09 pm, by millercommamatt, 110 words   English (US)
Categories: Harry Potter, Fan Fiction

Epic Fan Fiction Recommendation

I'd like to recommend what I'm pretty sure is the longest single fan fiction story that I've ever read. Weighing in at over 1 million words, Sunset/Sunrise Over Britain, by Bob and Alyx, is a sprawling, imaginative story that covers the the fall and eventual liberation of Britain from the forces of Voldemort. This story isn't perfect, but it's a good read. I will warn readers that the characterizations of Ron Weasley, Molly Weasley, and Dumbledore are jarring if you're not prepared. However, once you've accepted the changes you can delve into what is a well written tale of epic size. Enjoy!

Sunset Over Britain (part 1)
Sunrise Over Britain (part 2)


Permalink 03:26:15 pm, by millercommamatt, 369 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Wisdom Teeth Removal

I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed yesterday. While it's not the way I wanted to spend a boat load of my money, it was necessary. So far the recovery has been fairly easy. In fact, I'm typing this from my office and not my bed.

I arrived at the oral surgeon's office yesterday a little before 8:00 am. The first thing I did was sign a consent form and hand over a check very close to the four-figure mark. Then I was taken back to the operating room and seated in a typical dental chair. They hooked me up to a heart monitor and checked my blood pressure. Next the doctor started my IV and started up the general anesthetic. The sensation of feeling the general anesthetic spread across my body was neat. From there I don't remember much. I have a vague recollection of the doctor injecting the local anesthetic in my mouth and my next real memory is my wife, Christina, standing next to me in the operating room asking me how I felt and if I was ready to leave. They brought me out to the car in a wheel chair and I was in pretty good spirits considering that I was still full of local anesthetic.

Once I got home, I sat in bed, drifted in and out of sleep, and held ice to my face for 15 minute intervals twice an hour. The worst pain I experienced yesterday wasn't all that bad and was quickly chased away with some Percocet. I managed the pain yesterday with a combination of Percocet and Motrin. Towards the evening I tried eating. I ate a bit of thin soup. Later in the evening I got really hungry and had some ice cream and then some french onion soup. Today I feel rather well. My mount aches a bit and it's sore and stiff, but overall it isn't bad and feels far better than I expected. I haven't taken any Percocet today, just some Motrin. Going by how I feel now, I'll probably try to work a full day at the office tomorrow. Now, I'm just counting the time until I can start to eat real food again.


Permalink 12:20:18 am, by millercommamatt, 107 words   English (US)
Categories: Gift Lists

Christmas List 2008

It's that time of year again. At the request of my mother, here is my Christmas wish list for this year.

ASUS Eee PC 1000 [$429.99]

PS3 Game - GT5 / GT5: Prologue

Canon C21-9931 EF 28-135MM f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Zoom Lens for SLR

8GB+ High Speed Compact Flash Memory Card

Sennheiser MX760 Ear Bud Headphones

Dresden Files Books (Fool Moon, Summer Knight, Death Mask)

Warhammer: Age of Reckoning (PC Game)

PS3 Remote

Guitar Hero World Tour for PS3

Red Octane has a cool bundle where you get two games and two guitars for the PS3.


Permalink 02:54:26 pm, by millercommamatt, 1248 words   English (US)
Categories: General

Probabilities in the White Wolf Role Plaing Game System

This post is an analysis of the probability of the chances for obtaining a particular result of a dice roll for the White Wolf role playing game system. If you're already familiar with the system, you can probably skip ahead to the "Read More" link below and look and the graphs I've provided. If you're not well versed in the mechanics of the White Wolf role playing game system, please keep reading.

In the role playing game system developed by White Wolf, the success or failure of characters' actions is determined by the number of successes on a given dice roll. All rolls use ten-sided dice and the total number of dice thrown, or dice pool, is determined by the sum of a character's rank in a primary attribute and a secondary skill. The number of successes is determined by the number of dice rolled with a value equal to or above the target difficult. A typical difficulty is seven and easy actions will have a lower difficulty while more difficult actions will have a higher difficulty. The minimum difficulty is three and the maximum difficulty is ten.

For a simple action, only one success is needed is successfully complete that action. An example of a simple action would be trying to fire a gun and hit a target. This is a straight forward act and is neither exceptionally easy nor exceptionally difficulty. Thus, it would have the standard target difficulty of seven. A character performing this action would have a total dice pool equal to the sum of their ranks in the dexterity attribute and the firearms skill. For example, a character with a dexterity rating of three and a firearms rating of two would have a total dice pool of five allowing them to throw five dice to determine if the succeed or fail at the action. If they were to roll a 2,5,8,4, and 6, they would have acquired one success since only one die, the one showing eight, had a value greater than or equal to the target difficulty of seven. In that case, it would be up to the Storyteller to determine the effect of only a single success. While the character will have hit the target, it may have been only a glancing blow. If the character had rolled 4,7,9,10,7 and gained four successes, the Storyteller may interpret the greater number of successes as a superior result and say that the character hit the target dead center. A roll of 2,5,6,4,3 would net zero successes and represent a miss since none of the dice rolled showed a value greater than or equal to the target difficulty of seven.

In the White Wolf success system there is the “rule of one” and there is also the critical success rule. The “rule of one” states than any die that shows a one cancels out a single success. So, if a character rolled 1,3,7,8,5 with a target difficulty of 7, one of the two successes would be canceled out by the one resulting in only a single net success. On the other side of the coin, so to speak, is the critical success roll. If the character has a specialty – an area of focus chosen for skills that reach rank four or higher – any ten that's rolled and scores a success may be rolled again for a chance at additional successes.

The discussion of the “rule of one” leads us to a discussion of critical failures or botches. White Wolf has had different incarnations of the botch system that we'll split up into what I'll call the old botch rule and the new botch rule. Under the old botch rule, if you rolled more ones than you did successes – i.e. you scored a negative number of net successes – you rolled a critical failure which the Storyteller is encouraged to interpret as creatively as possible. Thus, if our previously mentioned character rolled a 1,3,1,7,4 with a target difficulty of seven, they would botch their action which the Storyteller could interpret as anything from the character's gun jamming to the bullet sailing high over the target to strike the character's grandmother that he didn't see up over a ridge downrange. Under the new botch rule, the character only botches if they roll a one and no successes. For example, if our character rolled a 1,1,4,2,6 with a target difficulty of seven, they would botch under the new botch rule, but the would not botch if they rolled a 1,1,4,2,7 with a target difficulty of seven despite the fact that they rolled more ones that successes. As you can see, the new botch rule is a little more forgiving than the old botch rule.

Now, as just about anyone who has played a game involving dice can tell you, frequency statistics can be wildly skewed by small sample sizes and player perception. To aid players in having a more reasonable idea of what the probability of achieving a certain result is in the White Wolf system, I designed a numerical simulation where a random number generator was used to simulate 1,000,000 dice rolls for every combination of difficulties and dice pool sizes for the full range of difficulties of three through ten and a range of dice pool sizes from one to twenty. The curves in the plots that are to follow show the percentage chance of rolling a selected number or more successes for a given difficulty and a given sized dice pool.

The charts themselves are pretty self explanatory. Simply choose a chart based on whether you're playing under the new botch rules or the old botch rules and by your target difficulty. From there, select the minimum number of successes that you would like and use the number of dice in your dice pool to select the spot on the curve where you can obtain the probability of meeting or exceeding your desired minimum number of successes. For example, if you look at the chart for a difficulty of seven under the new botch rules, you'll see that for a dice pool of five you have about a 75% chance of rolling one or more successes, a roughly 20% chance of rolling zero successes, and approximately a 5% chance of botching the roll. Please click "Read More" to see the charts.

Read more »

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This is where I rant about whatever I want. Here is where I share my thoughts, dreams, strange ideas, and general commentary on my life and the world around me.


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