Queen War, our chess variant

queenwarchess.PNGThe male offspring and I invented a chess variant after a rousing game of “regular” chess.

Behold the splendor of Queen War:

Board Setup

  • All pawns go in their regular places.
  • Each queen too.
  • The rooks (we chess amateurs call them castles) go on the left and right of the queen

Movement and Capture

  • Pawns move 1 square in any direction, including diagonal. Pawns can only capture diagonally.
  • Queen moves and captures as in regular rules, except the queen may jump over her own rooks.
  • Rooks do not move. They can not capture anything. Rooks can only be captured by Pawns.
    • At first attempt to capture, the Rook is considered “knocked over” and is laid on it’s side in it’s current square. The Pawn that attempted the capture stays in it’s original square (it doesn’t move into the Rook’s square). The move is over.
    • Second attempt by a Pawn is handled as a normal capture– the Rook is removed from play and the Pawn takes it’s place.

Game over, man, game over!
There are two ways to win.

  • When all the opposing player’s Pawns are captured, you win. Or:
  • When the opposing player’s Queen is captured, you win.

If you have the chance to play this game, please let us know how it went and if you enjoyed it!

Tarot Plot Generator – Abulafia Random Generators

I’ve mentioned Abulafia Random Generators before. Well I’ve created one: Tarot Plot Generator as a writing tool, to inspire myself with plot ideas, using the symbolism of the tarot. It details the main character and three acts with fourteen cards.
Here is an example, continued after “More”…

Main Character

Description: (Reversed) PENTACLES Knight.–An useful man; useful discoveries. Reversed: A brave man out of employment.
Past: (Reversed) CUPS Ace.–Inflexible will, unalterable law. Reversed: Unexpected change of position.
Wants: (Reversed) WANDS Knight.–A bad card; according to some readings, alienation. Reversed: For a woman, marriage, but probably frustrated.
Strength: WANDS Page.–Young man of family in search of young lady. Reversed: Bad news.
Weakness: 8. FORTITUDE.–Power, energy, action, courage, magnanimity; also complete success and honours. Reversed: Despotism, abuse if power, weakness, discord, sometimes even disgrace.
Obstacle to “wants”: CUPS Two.–Favourable in things of pleasure and business, as well as love; also wealth and honour. Reversed: Passion.

Continue reading “Tarot Plot Generator – Abulafia Random Generators”

Plot Keyword Oracle – Abulafia Random Generators

dice_public_domain.JPGI am obsessed with Random Generators, and have been for awhile. I like the idea that a program with some algorithms and data can create something (seemingly) new. Like the Postmodern Essay Generator or the Random Slashdot Story Generator or a Random Haiku Generator.
I’ve wanted to use generators as inspiration for writing and have found the Plot Keyword Oracle at Abulafia Random Generators. Albulafia is a wiki that allows you to pretty easily create random text generators. A lot of it is geared towards Role playing games (a la Dungeons and Dragons), but I lot of it will work as inspiration for writers of all kinds. For the Plot Keyword Oracle, Robert Donoghue extracted 32,000 keywords from the Internet Movie Database and the Plot Keyword Oracle presents you with 10 keywords randomly pulled from the list. For example in one run I got:

  1. Collection Agent
  2. Homing Device
  3. Wedding Industry
  4. Nuclear Winter
  5. Martin Luther King
  6. Pool Hustler
  7. Urban Planning
  8. Deputy Dawg
  9. Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  10. Dresden Germany

Wow! That would be one hell of a story!

How I fixed Kim’s iPod

I thought Kim‘s iPod was history. When she would turn it on, the disk would try to spin up, whir whir, but after 4 attempts, it displayed the sad iPod icon and then shut down. Bummer. It was long out of warrantee. None of Apple’s website troubleshooting steps worked. Based on the disk failure, I knew the disk was dead, but we could buy a new one online somewhere. BUT. BUT. Kim said c’mon, open it up and see what you can do? I thought, What can I do? Nothing, the disk is dead, I can’t give CPR to a dead disk, forget about it. Then she told me about some kid, a son of a friend of a friend, who would fix any iPod for $20. I scoffed. However what do I have to lose, it’s already not working, I can’t make it any worse.

Continue reading “How I fixed Kim’s iPod”

iPod Geek

100_5990.JPGI use my iPod all the time, and I am really pleased with Apple’s User Interface for the iPod, it’s simple and easy to use. However, “simple” and “easy to use” doesn’t satisfy the geek in me, so I have to tweak. Apple doesn’t give you too many options to tweak the iPod UI. You can change the items displayed on the main menu, you can display the time in the top line of the screen, but that’s about it. This geek wants more. So, why not entirely replace Apple’s firmware with something else, like Linux or Rockbox?

  • What can I say about Linux on your iPod? Not much, because I don’t delve too deeply. But I do like the ability to run lots of mini-applications, including games, on my iPod. I never did get iDoom going though. Pure geekiness, but not for me as I missed the usability of Apple’s UI. Download iPodLinux here. Don’t worry, you can switch back and forth between iPodLinux and Apple, just restart the iPod.
  • Rockbox is a little more usable but doesn’t have nearly as many apps as iPodLinux. What I like most about Rockbox is the ability to customize audio playback screen with your own format and graphics through WPS (b&w, color). Download from the Rockbox site or this alternate installer for Windows, Rockbox Installer X. Just like with iPodLinux, you can switch between Rockbox and Apple just by restarting the iPod.

Running these was fun, but day to day, I use the Apple firmware. Do I loose my geek cred? I dunno. There are so many little things that the Apple firmware does so effectively, it’s hard to give up, even if I can’t customize it as much as I’d like. Although maybe I’ll wanna Make something….