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Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I have had a blog on the other website BBS (www.starfleetgames.com/discus, look under company info) for years but never really understood it. This new blog started just before I left for Europe and when Vanessa asked me what my plan was to post blogs from Germany I said my plan was to wait until I got back. Apparently, this is something really bad. (She has this hurt expression when I don't guess the right answer to her questions.)

As I grasp the concept, dimly, blogging has two purposes. One is to get the web spiders to notice that you did "something" to your web site almost every day (a requirement I tend to resent) and the other is to "communicate" not just company press releases but the concepts by which a business is run, the "spirit" if you will.

Side note, I wonder if Vanessa should be posting as blog entries the text portion of our Alerts?

Anyway, if you really want to dig into the company philosophy, I guess you could hunt down the other blog.

Upon returning from Europe, I found that Vanessa, Steve Petrick, and even Jolene were blogging in my absence. Shucks, I guess I didn't exactly prohibit them from doing so. I'm not clear what some of those posts have to do with anything, but then many of you aren't clear what my posts have to do with anything either.

I'll try to blog more often myself, and copy the same posts to both blogs.

In a sense, learning to blog is just one part of learning the new way my business is going to run. New product lines are part of it, as is this new web site, but a bigger part is new operating concepts.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Return to Normal

Stephen V. Cole and Leanna Cole have returned safely from their European adventure.

They attended the Essen Gamefaire in Germany, then took a short vacation to see the sights in England. Parliament, the Tower of London, Stonehenge, the Imperial Museum, Trafalgar Square.

A special thanks goes to John Crawford who took time off to act as tour-guide in England.

Leanna is taking the day to recover, and will be back in the office in the morning.

Their cats, Isis and Ramses, were doubtless glad to have their full-time servants return, but at least had a moment of great excitement while they were away. A squirrel wandered into the fenced in confines of their backyard, and reached a tree just inches in front of the cats. From which point it hurled great impercations down upon them while they asked it to come back down to play. Without the metal barrier around the tree at about six feet (designed to keep the cats from using the tree as a launching platform to get over the fence themselves), the pursuit would doubtless have lasted longer (and gone over the fence).

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The dispensible can be indespensable

STEVE PETRICK WRITES: Once more hearkening back to incidents in miniatures (during the wars of Napoleon) I have this little tidbit.

At one point, the allied army I was part of was disposed in five corps. Mine was the second from the left. Part of my sector was a small hill to my front. The Army Commander directed that I outpost the hill, to delay the French advance in my sector.

I asked how long he wanted me to hold the hill, to which he responded that it did not matter, the position was untenable, it was just to force a short deployment by the French to buy a little time. My forces were virtually entirely made up Russians. I was, once more, not allocated any guns, but was given two squadrons of the Czarina Guard Armored Cuirrassiers. I was also allocated some engineering effort, and one regiment of Grenadiers. After that, I was on my own.

With no specific time element on when the hill should be surrendered, I placed all of my engineering effort to fortifying it, and then garrisoned the hill with the Grenadiers.

The Hill was, in the opinion of my Army commander, dispensable. Utterly non-important to the battle.

Then disaster struck.

The Corps to my left collapsed, nearly completely routing from the field. A few brave regiments and battalions continued to fight, but there was nothing they could do in the sea of French forces swarming around them.

Suddenly, the dispensable hill became absolutely indispensable.

The only thing I could do to keep the French host from swarming down my now exposed left flank, and thus the flank of the entire army, was to "refuse" my left. The only way to do that was to have something to anchor the right of the refused flank on.

The anchor was that hill.

Nearly my whole corps wheeled to the left, forming a line at an angle from my original position to the hill.

From this point, my one corps now faced two French Corps. The French opened a heavy barrage on the hill, but within its heavy fortifications the stalwart regiment of Grenadiers grimly hung on, turning back several efforts by French infantry to storm the position.

Overcome with victory, the French Corps commander to my left kept trying to break my line "on the bounce", rather than organizing a solid attack. This enabled my badly stretched line to concentrate on one attack at a time, turning them back.

All I had left in reserve was the Czarina, and one small demi-brigade.

A new disaster then befell the Allied line.

The left flank of the corps to my right gave way, creating a gap between us. There had been a gap ever since I had wheeled my line to the left, but now it was impossibly broad.

Into this gap came two regiments of French Armored Cuirassiers. Given the choice of hitting the left of the corps to my right, and trying to hit the rear of my corps, they turned towards me. My little demi-brigade had hastily formed a line anchored on the hill when the gap opened, now it faced the Cuirassiers unsupported.

The sub-units of the Brigade were so small, that even if they formed square they would be crushed by the Cuirassiers, who would then break through to begin chewing up my extended line. There was no point in forming square. Victory was certain for the French.

The rules under which we played allowed Regular Russian units to only do one order per turn. If they formed square, they would not even be able to fire. So it was obvious I would leave them in line.

There was, however, an obscure order called "fall back three inches and fire", while it was two actions, it counted as one order. While the line troops executed this command, the light troops of each of the battalions were given two orders (allowed) to detach as skirmishers to the flanks of the expected French Charge.

Between the fire of the skirmishers, the volley fire of the battalions, and, finally the extra three inches the brigade had backed up, the Cuirassiers failed to make contact (the charge distance of the stands behind those shot down had to include the length of the stands removed, and with the added three inches, they wound up a quarter of an inch short of making melee contact).

The French now had two choices for the next turn. They could continue the charge and take another volley in their faces, which would kill enough of them that they would no longer count as a "column", or they could do something else. They opted for the latter: change formation (turning their backs) and ride away (I would not be able to fire if they did that).

But I anticipated that.

I ordered my valiant light infantry units to form as regular troops, and then charge the flanks of the French Cavalry.

It was not war, and it was not glorious. The French Cavalry easily sabered them down. The problem was that this turned their "ride away" into a "breakthrough", i.e., the charge by the light troops had delayed them long enough that the demi-brigade could fire a volley. But this volley would be into the BACKS (Full Enfilade) of the horsemen. So many saddles were emptied that the remnants of both regiments failed their morale and routed from the field.

Another crisis was passed.

The dispensable hill (which had kept the French Cavalry from avoiding the demi-brigade) continued to be indispensable.

At this juncture, the overall French Commander looked at the situation, and decided that, if the hill was taken, my position must surely collapse, and if my position gave way, the entire allied army could be swept from the field.

To accomplish this task, he released a battalion of the Old Guard. They came on. There was almost nothing left of my brave grenadiers on the hill, and the Old Guard almost effortlessly swept their remnants away. As they neared the crest of the hill, cries of "Vive la France" and "Vive la Emperor" rent the air, only to be drowned out by the thunder of hoof-beats coming over the rise and heading headlong into the Old Guard. My last reserve, the Czarina met the Old Guard head on. But the counter-charge had been carefully timed, hitting the Old Guard just as they had moved "beyond charge increment" (a charge has a bonus in melee if it goes a short distance, and loses this bonus if it goes further), while the Czarina maintained its Charge Bonus.

Old Guardsmen started to fall. They had numbers and were the best infantry there was, but the Czarina had charge increment, were cavalry, were armored, and were themselves Guardsmen. It was probable that the numbers of the Old Guard would prevail, but the unit would be chopped to pieces and no longer an effective unit. So the French Commander decided on a bold move. He issued the command to "Fall back out of Melee". If the Czarina pursued, it would lose charge increment also, if it did not, it would be exposed to French guns on the hill. The only problem with falling back out of melee is that the troops are required to make a Morale Check, but this was the Old Guard, so there was not much chance of that having a negative impact.

But even the Old Guard Routes on Snake-eyes.

Worse, the "Guard Recoil" was on the top of a hill, in full view of almost 60% of the French Army. Seeing the Old Guard route initiated a chain reaction of morale checks, shattering the cohesiveness of that force.

Without that dispensable little hill, the battle would have been lost. That dispensable little hill was indispensable to the Allied victory.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Importance of Education

Vanessa Clark: I was smart going through high school, but like a lot of young girls, I thought that if I didn't hurry up and get married, I'd die an old maid. So, just out of high school I thought I had found "the one" and decided to marry and have kids. It was great. Long story short, it was great until it was over 10 years later. I was left with 3 kids and that's it. I was naive enough to think I didn't need to go on with my education because I had a husband and he would always take care of the kids and I...wrong. If you don't know how hard it is to pay the bills and raise 3 kids without a good job, let me tell you...if you don't have an education it's almost impossible to do without going on welfare. I didn't want to be a stereo-type single mom statistic so I charged through my associate's degree. If anyone has one, you know it's good, but not good enough. I went back for a bachelor's degree (almost done) and have made plans to start for a master's next fall. It seems I'm just now beginning to be able to pay the bills. My point? People don't seem to realize how important that education really is until you need it. Don't wait until you're left holding the bag, trying to feed 3 kids and no way to do it like me. Kids...get your education. If you're older and still haven't done it...do it. It's so much easier to go through school without trying to do your own homework and help your kids with theirs, juggle PTA meetings and classroom parties with your class schedule and so on. I think you get the idea. I'm reminded of the old commercial..."Don't be a fool, stay in school!"

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What simulations can teach

STEVE PETRICK WRITES: Simulations can teach lessons if you keep your eyes open.

For leaders, they can re-affirm that there are reasons why things are done, and why chance is an eternal foe named Murphy.

When I was in college, I was involved in a gaming group that played miniatures every month or so. Within that group, I gained something of a reputation as not being very good on the offense, not knowing how to handle cavalry very well, but a solid commander of Infantry formations, and a nightmare to attack.

One of the last games I played was a simulation of Waterloo. My position was on the Ally's Right Flank. My job was to keep the French from getting over the high ground behind the farm (La Hay Sante if I recall correctly). But Wellington (the person playing him at any rate) decided to conduct an "economy of force" operation there. To that date, no attacker over six years of play had ever taken a position from me. Sometimes there was nothing left on my side at the end of the battle, but the enemy would not succeed in taking the position. So Wellington allocated just four battalions of Foot, and a few companies of riflemen to my sector. These would begin the battle with one battalion in the farm, the rifle companies in the sandpits to the left of the farm (as I looked at the battlefield), and my remaining three battalions arrayed on the rise well back from the farm.

Napoleon (the player playing him) allocated six battalions of foot, two regiments of Cuirassiers, and three batteries to the sector.

Observing the situation, I immediately started one of my three battalions on the heights down the slope to reinforce the farm.

The French began bombarding the farm, and simply annihilated the rifle companies in the pits (there was nothing I could do about it, that was where they started).

The bombardment of the farm was so fierce, that the troops there were driven to cover, i.e., the farm was "suppressed".

With this accomplishment, the two cuirassier regiments rode around the farm and threatened to charge the battalion marching to reinforce it. This forced the battalion to halt its advance and form square.

With the farm suppressed, the French infantry now advanced, with five battalions bypassing the farm on the Right (as I looked at it), intending to destroy the battalion trapped in square, while the sixth battalion turned to attack and take the farm (outnumbering the survivors of the battalion there two-to-one).

Since the farm was suppressed, and about to be stormed and taken by the sixth battalion, the other five battalions, advancing in a single dense column on a five battalion front, did not bother to deploy screening forces between themselves and the farm. Victory was assured; the British forces would be defeated in detail by the French masses. The farm could not stand before the assault, the battalion held in square could not retreat for fear of being overrun by the Cuirassiers, and could not remain in square or they would be annihilated by the advancing French Infantry. The two British battalions at the top of the rise could not intervene in what was about to happen.

As the three French batteries limbered up to follow the advance, couriers were dispatched to Napoleon by the French General-de-Division commanding the sector to announce his victory, and that he would soon be rolling up the Allied Right Flank.

At that juncture, as the French 6th Battalion started mounting the walls of the farm, the Garrison badly shot up as it was, counter-attacked. Met by screaming British soldiers at the walls, the 6th Battalion recoiled back on itself, its formation shattered, and the men broke fleeing desperately to the rear. The Garrison now lined the wall facing south (towards the advancing French infantry column), and unleashed disciplined platoon volleys into the exposed flank. As some officers and non-commissioned officers tried to keep the column moving, others tried to deploy against the fire from the farm. Confusion spreading through the column at this sudden turn of events led to panic, and the entire column collapsed into a disorganized mob running pel-mel back where they had come from. The just limbered guns and their crews were swept along in the panic-stricken retreat.

The French Cuirassiers suddenly found themselves exposed to their left rear to a suddenly active Allied Defense position. If they held their position, threatening the one British battalion, fire from the farm would cut them to pieces. If they charged, they would not break the square and would sustain losses to no good purpose. While not broken on morale like the foot and guns were, the Cuirassiers had no choice but to fall back.

The British Square reformed into column and marched down, reinforcing the farm, and one of the two remaining British Battalions at the top of the rise began its own march down to the farm. (The farm could only hold one and a half battalions of troops at a time. It was probable that by the time this battalion arrived, assuming the French could get reorganized, casualties from bombardment would once again have made room for the extra troops, as they had for the first battalion that had started marching when the battle began).

As a final statement that the position had been held, a platoon of British Light Troops was sent out from the farm to reoccupy the untenable sandpits.

The lesson learned?

Had the French Commander deployed a screen of skirmishers to protect the flank of his five battalion column, even had the French 6th Battalion routed like it did, he would have had time to deploy another battalion to take the farm. His assumption that the farm not only must fall, but also would fall to the 6th battalion, invited brother Murphy to visit him and Murphy did so with a vengeance. It simply never occurred to him that the garrison would counterattack, which in turn forced a morale check, or that it would be the 6th battalion that had to make that check, and would fail it catastrophically. By not taking a rudimentary precaution, he allowed an aggressive defender to seize an opportunity, which initiated the subsequent catastrophic chain of events.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lean to the Left, Lean to the Right, Stand Up, Sit Down, Fight, Fight, Fight

Vanessa Clark: Sound like a pep rally cheer rather than what's going on in politics today in America or maybe it's a great way to explain it all. How does a person in today's America find their way with the constant political turmoil, fighting, and just plain old nastiness from both sides? I can relate to one side better than I can to the other, but I have also reached a point in my life where I don't necessarily need to be "identified" as one or the other. I would personally rather hear both sides and make an educated decision from there after weighing the good and the bad and who "fits" my ideology better. I can't say that one side is necessarily better than the other (I'm trying to show an unbiased side right now for the sake of argument).

So why not throw our hands up and just not care? Just not vote? What difference does my vote make? Millions vote and my vote is just one. That's actually what I heard this morning on the radio from a lady on the phone talking to the DJ. Can you believe it? She feels that her vote really doesn't count, yet she also wanted to complain! Nothing gets my blood boiling more than someone who lives in a free America and has the right to vote...to exercise what you personally want and then just throw it away because of ignorance. Every vote counts, especially when both parties seem to have a lack of morality in one way or another. If you want to complain by all means do so, it's your American freedom that gives you that right, but don't not vote AND complain! Use your vote and BE the difference.

November 2nd is just around the corner. Have you taken the time to know your local and state candidates and their platforms? It doesn't take long especially with the internet at your fingertips. All I'm asking is that you take 5 minutes away from whatever you might be doing and find out who the candidates are so that you can make an informed decision on November 2nd and then take it a step further and vote. How else can we hope to even begin to change the fighting and bickering we see on both sides if we don't exercise our right to vote and be heard?

Perhaps it will always be a fight, but on a main election year, how can anyone not see the need whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent to get out and vote? Being an American is more than living and striving for the "American Dream," it's being able to actually be a part of politics no matter what side of the "football field" you're on. Maybe you're the home team, maybe you're the opposing team or a team hoping to play soon, but whatever side you're on we should all remember the good ole' high school football days and the pep rallies on election year..."Lean to the left, lean to the right, stand up, sit down, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!" Be a part of politics whatever side you're on; be the difference; exercise your American right to vote! Go vote November 2nd!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Things Still Have Not Slowed Down

Vanessa Clark: Despite the hustle and bustle the whole office was in trying to get Steve and Leanna off last week to Europe, things have yet to slow down. There's things that I put off to do while Steve was gone, yet I find that I still don't have enough time in the day to get everything done. Things are busy with me doing the invoicing for the mail orders, and bank deposits, blogging, making sure questions are answered on the forum, questions and general problems that have to be taken care of through email, trying to set up other sites Steve requested we do, getting the Alerts out, and much much more; not to mention that I still have to get around to going to local retailers this week to see about some of them carrying our products. Sometimes over this past week I have felt a little overwhelmed because there's just so much that needs done, but I only have two hands and so much time to get it all done in. I'm going as fast as I can and can only hope that that's good enough for Steve to be satisfied with what has gone on in the office. Here's to hoping things run a little slower in the office this week so that I can get more things done!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

In combat, small incidents can have decisive effects

STEVE PETRICK WRITES: Sometimes small incidents can have a telling effect.

During one wargame (real soldiers maneuvering across real terrain), a defending battalion had been assessed crippling losses. It had one company remaining, and that company was holding a critical choke point. If the company could hang on until dawn, an armored unit would come up and counterattack. But if the choke point was lost, the armor would not be able to maneuver.

The enemy (two other battalions) launched an attack on the choke point, driving the defending company back. The defending company managed to break into the attacker's communications and call their own artillery on to them, then launched an attack. The result was the resecuring of the chokepoint, but the company was down to barely a platoon in strength.

At this juncture, the attackers used helicopters to land another company behind the chokepoint to attack it from the rear.

The defending battalion had no more troops to send, and the battalion commander was "missing". At this juncture, the battalion intelligence officer proposed to the battalion operations officer that a platoon be organized out of the Headquarters elements and sent to reinforce the choke point. Two squads were hastilly formed, and departed to try to reach the choke point under the cover of the night and before the airlifted in enemy force attacked.

In the darkness, the scratch platoon stumbled into the airlifted enemy unit. At the end of the brief firefight, the scratch platoon fell back and returned to the battalion headquarters, leaving several "dead" on the field. The mission had failed, the battle was lost.

Then a strange thing happened. The air lifted enemy unit froze. This was a company sized unit, more than five times the size of the small headquarters detachment it had beaten off, and more than three times the size of the battered force at the chokepoint it was to attack. But for five critical hours it did not move.

Dawn came, and the armored unit arrived. The defending battalion had won the decisive battle in holding the chokepoint.

What had happened?

It turned out that, among the "dead" left at the end of the midnight brush was the battalion intelligence officer.

The "dead" man was an infantry officer (while assigned as the battalion intelligence officer, he was actually an infantry officer himself), and was a captain.

Aprised of the fact that an infantry captain had been "killed" in a fight on the flank of their advance on the chokepoint in a fight involving a platoon-sized element, the company commander decided that an enemy company (captains lead companies, not platoons) must have been maneuvering against him. With the threat of being hit in the flank by a defending force company, the commander of the air lifted company decided to set up a hasty defense to repel that attack before continuing on to the chokepoint.

For five critical hours his company held defensive positions against a threat that did not exist anywhere but in his own mind.

However unintended, the "death" of one man had proved to be the decisive turning point of the battle.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

They were not sheep

STEVE PETRICK WRITES: They were not sheep.

Perhaps that is the most important thing that can be said about the passengers and crew of Flight #93.

I was not there. No one now living is numbered among that small group.

But much has been made of their "self-sacrifice" to save nameless others.

I think that makes too much of what they did. By all accounts that I have heard (including the made for TV movies and the big screen effort), it appears that the plane's passengers included at least one person who might have been able to pilot the plane when the decision was taken to fight. I do not believe that the passengers chose to fight for nameless others, but chose a course of action that gave them a chance at life. If they could retake the plane, the passenger-pilot might bring it safely to earth.

The record shows that they did not succeed.

It also shows that they tried, that they were not sheep.

But they were not deliberately sacrificing themselves for others, they were grasping at a chance for life. Would any of us do less?

They were no different than the passengers of the other three aircraft except in one thing. They were warned.

The hijackers made a mistake. Perhaps simply an error in timing. Perhaps they did not take the plane soon enough, so there was enough time for the word to get out about the other crashes. Perhaps they did not think the news of what had happened at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon would be disseminated as quickly as it was. Perhaps they simply believed that even if the passengers of their aircraft knew what was happening that they would do nothing, but simply cower in the back of the aircraft hoping that theirs was not the same fate, that their aircraft would be held hostage as had happened before.

But the passengers were not sheep.

And perhaps that was the fatal mistake in the hijacker's plan. Perhaps they believed that Americans were soft, and would take no action even in the face of imminent death to save themselves. Perhaps they counted on the passengers to remain cowed by their fierce demeanor and the terror of the hapless flight crew by apparently by having their throats cut. Perhaps they believed that Americans were so ingrained with the "take no provocative actions" drill we had all been fed as the standard if our aircraft is highjacked that no action would be possible.

But the passengers were not sheep.

We are told that when advised by those they called on their cell phones what had happened, the passengers "voted" to fight. Some reports say the vote was done only by the male passengers. We do not know for certain. We do not know how any individual passenger, or flight attendant, voted. We only know that a majority chose to fight. And I believe they chose to fight for a chance at life.

But perhaps they chose to fight even knowing that they would die because in doing they would save others. That is what most of us, it seems, would like to believe. We do not know. The record is silent on why they chose their course of action. But choose it they did.

They were not sheep.

We are never going to know if they were all brave, or if some minority clung to a futile hope that their aircraft would not be flown into a building, and voted against the rash move by others to try to retake the plane. We grant all of them, in the silence of death, the mantle of hero. There is no way to differentiate them now. No way to know if the effort to retake the plane was in fact initiated by a small minority, or by the collective whole. And that is how it should be. That they chose to take action, to fight for their lives, has of its own earned them the right to the mantle of hero.

We are left only with the incomplete record, a record that can never be completed. And with the images of their faces, and memories by others still living of who the people on Flight 93 were.

And an important message for future terrorists to remember.

Americans are not sheep to be slaughtered. If they know there is a choice between going to a slaughter house and fighting, they will fight, as has been repeatedly demonstrated when threats have arisen on passenger planes since that fateful day.

WE are not sheep.

Friday, October 20, 2006

My Head Hurts!

Vanessa Clark: I told you all that I had to be a witness yesterday for a case that happened well over a year and a half ago (our legal system at its best). I was told that it wouldn't take long, but I guess that my concept of time is much different than that of a district attorney or perhaps I should give them the benefit of doubt and say that they didn't know it was going to take so long. Needless to say, something I was told it would only take 15 mintues top, yet it lasted over 3 hours and that was with much protesting. That being said, it finally reached an end (at least for me), but not without giving me a huge migraine. If you've never had to be a witness, try not to be...it's nerve wrecking!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What's the World Coming To?

Vanessa Clark: Today my work day will be cut short because I have to go to court to be a state's witness on something that happened well over a year ago. While I can't get into the details of the case, I can give an overview. I have an associate's degree in real estate and therefore practiced real estate. I live in a part of Texas where it's still supposed to be safe. In class they always told you about the "horrors" of being in real estate and what COULD happen to a Realtor, but they always followed it up by saying, nothing like that has EVER happened here. I felt safe. I hadn't been practicing real estate for more than 3 months when I showed some homes (vacant) to a man...these were BIG homes...$500k and up. He gave a story about being single with a grown daughter and a grandchild, but for some reason things felt funny to me. I protected myself by using a little common sense. I called a friend before I left (because all of these homes were out in the country) and asked that he call me every 15 minutes to check on me, I took my own car, I never walked in front of the man with my back to him, I left the front door open, and stayed centrally located in the houses so that I could have quick access to the door. My intuition served me well; the next night on the 10pm news, a Realtor had been abducted...it was the same man although I didn't know it for sure, I just KNEW it was him. I called the detective and gave a description of the man. The next day, I took the paperwork I had that this man had signed and forged, made a positive ID on him, and gave a statement. Today, I am testifying for the state to prove premeditation. I tell my story because although it is completely unrelated to anything of the "Star Fleet Universe" or ABD, I want to remind everyone to be safe, use common sense, and trust your instincts. It could have been me that he beat silly that night and my kids could be without a mother. Be safe everyone, today's world demands it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A few notes about what is going on at ADB

Steven Paul Petrick: Steve Cole and Leanna have arrived safely in Germany, and survived the 100-MPH trip (Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo was driving) down the Autobahn to Essen. They are safe in their hotel, and have gone to bed early in an effort to recover from jet lag.

As part of their absence from the office, the "Printing Plant" has been moved from the side office into the Foyer. This involved the purchase of an additional cable, as of the two intended hookup points were too short.

The former "Printing Plant" space has now become the office for the Marketing Department and the Graphics Department. Both have settled in and their computers are fully operational (how that happened when they were depending on an old former infantry officer to make the move I will never know). When SVC returns he may do a new "Virtual Tour" of the office to post on the main web site for those interested.

The biggest problem right now is that neither of the printers are working in the area we moved them too, but UNACOPY will have someone here in the morning to look at them and that problem should be resolved. Fortunately there is nothing we need to print right now.

Further, "Crawford Door Company" arrived and finally installed the weather stripping around the warehouse's garage doors, so perhaps the warehouse will retain better "habitability" in the future. For myself, I have never quite understood everyone else's complaints about it being too cold in winter and too hot in summer. It is, however, another step in the planned expansion of office space into the warehouse.

The Technical side of Graphics

Jolene: Being in graphics is really easy sometimes and really hard sometimes. I have learned that with the graphics side there is also the technical side, which I am learning a great deal about with ADB. Steve sends me tasks in my e-mail everyday to get something accomplished. I sit down, I get it done, and then we have a morning meeting. Steve will usually ask me something to this effect, "So your going to get that project I sent you in your e-mail done, and come back and I will have something else for you to do". Usually, I will tell him, It's already done. His facial expression makes me feel good because of the fact, I know that I am doing my job and doing it right. I hope that in the future, that I can become even faster, depending on if my brain can keep up with my fingers. Learning about this website has made me realize how much I don't know, and I am very pleased about what I have already learned working here. If there is ever a problem with the website, please feel free to e-mail us, and I will try to fix the problem as soon as I can.

Learning the Business & the Business Learning Marketing

Vanessa Clark: As many of you know, I am the new marketing director for Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. While I am knowledgable about marketing it has been quite a ride learning the in's and out's of the "gaming" industry! Of course, while Steve Cole has been taking me by the hand and has been teaching me about the industry and our games and products, he's had his fair share of learning. I have been learning things like Frigates, Cruisers, Booster Packs, combat terminology, etc. and Steve has been having to learn tricks of the trade in marketing such as being consistant with the little things...fonts, color, etc and learning new marketing jargon like "branding." =) We've both had some trying days when we are both so tired because he's teaching me and I'm teaching him and we are both learning. Thankfully, I think we are both bringing the company and it's products to a new level.

What do I do? One afternoon Steve and Leanna laughed when they realized that Steve didn't know what my job really was other than "marketing stuff." Yes, I market ADB's products through a variety of ways. If any of you have ever seen Steve's version of a press release and have gotten on my mailing list to get the new press releases called Star Fleet Alerts...you know what I've been doing. Before I came to ADB, Steve was so busy creating and trying to do everything that he couldn't get a press release out on a regular schedule, not to mention it was just text and black and white. It has taken a while, but now retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and players that email me asking to be on the release list get a news letter and/or press release every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the form of a colored PDF. On Monday's the Alert is about upcoming new products ranging from Federation Commander to Federation & Empire to whatever Steve has created that is coming out soon. On Wednesday's we focus the Alert on our Legacy line of Star Fleet Battles products. On Friday's it's usually just a reminder of what has just been released. The Alerts is just one way I've changed what goes on around here and everyone including Steve is excited about how we as a company are changing.

Things I've been working on including rebuilding bridges with retailers and our wholesalers and bringing in new markets...Australia, new distributors here in the USA, and others from around the globe. It's taking a little time, but it is getting done. Next week I'll be going to local retailers to see about working out a contract for carrying our products locally. I also plan on trying to get in with some bigger chains, but I won't mention names until it becomes something real.

Enough about marketing; if any of you would like to be put on the list to recieve the "Star Fleet Alerts" I've been talking about, please email me at marketing@starfleetgames.com with the subject: SFA mailing list, and I'll be happy to add you to the list. If you have any ideas or you see something that I'm doing that you aren't sure about, please let me know. I am here to help ADB. I can't do that if our customers don't talk to me and give me feedback.

I hope you all share the excitement I have in pushing Amarillo Design Bureau into a new place with its products and games!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Leaving for Europe

Steve Cole: Big day today, getting on the plane for Europe and the Essen trade show. I have no fear of flying, but I really don't like not being able to get up and move around or go somewhere else. This will be my first real experience with jet lag, since there is six hours time difference and my body will have to get up and go to breakfast at a time that it thinks is 2am (and about time to go to bed). We'll land at dawn on Wednesday but my body will still think it's midnight on Tuesday. What fun!

Even so, I'm excited about the chance to meet new and old customers, new and old friends. The game industry is a small town and everybody knows everybody, but more importantly, everybody HELPS everybody. No other industry works like this. I had no clue what to do or plan or prepare or take with me or how to do things when I get there, but other game companies (supposedly in competition with mine) arranged my hotel reservations (well, the executive director of the trade association did that one), my trade show booth, back connections, shipping a pallet of stuff, and even storing what we don't sell for next year.

Can you imagine General Electric telling Westinghouse, "Oh yeah, here's all the information you will need. Let me set you up with the same hotel I'm in. Hey, we'll pick you guys up at the airport and drive you down to Essen since you don't know the place. Oh yeah, banks, there's one in the convention center and you just wire the money home. Oh, and we'll store you left over products in our warehouse for you until next year, no problem. And let's all go to dinner together at the end of each day."

But that is how it works here. One company (Mayfair) takes it on themselves to send a cargo container with everybody's merchandise in it. Just crazy. It would be impossible for us to go without all of out "competitors" doing half of our work for us and showing us the easy way to do the other half.

Even more fun, my neighbor at the show is Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo, an old friend (I played his games when I was in college back during the war, and don't ask me which war). He's now the president of GAMA (the Game Trade Association) and he's sharing his rental car with me. I'm not sure I'm looking forward to his driving 100mph on the autobahn between the airport and the trade show (something over an hour) but he insists it will be fun.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Astronomy Picture of the Day

I start every day in the office with http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ which is the NASA "Astronomy Picture of the Day". Sometimes boring, sometimes fascinating, sometimes spectacular (as is today's picture of Saturn from behind it, looking back at Earth), those real space pictures always give me a sense of wonder, and inspire me to think beyond this century and this planet.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My first real blog post

Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc., has been in the game publishing business since 1999 and the game design business since somewhere around 1981 or 1982. Our primary game product line has been STAR FLEET BATTLES which was first published in 1979, and has been rewritten, updated, and expanded a lot since then. It has a strong following, but it's a huge game, hard to play, and requires a level of committment similar to marriage. It remains in print, continues to be expanded, and remains the largest selling space combat board game in human history. We won the Origins Hall of Fame Award last summer, and you don't get that unless you have been in print for 25 or more years and continue to expand the game with excellent products.

We wanted to reach a wider audience of more casual and less hardcore gamers, and created FEDERATION COMMANDER (which uses about 3% of SFB's rules, and doesn't seem to miss them). The whole point of creating FEDERATION COMMANDER was to reach that wider audience, since bringing "average" people to play SFB saw most of them run away screaming. Federation Commander makes most of them say "Cool, can we play now?"

We're going to be doing a lot of things all over the internet (and elsewhere) to bring people HERE to www.FederationCommander.com to see what we have to offer. [A few of these include Z-stores, Google, CafePress.com/StarFleetUniv, MySpace, Yahoo, and Geocities. Most of those don't exist today. Most of them will exist by a week from today.] THAT meant we needed a professional (expensive) web site designed to look like serious people doing a real (but not serious) product. Everybody in my office had a hand in working with Spellmann to build this web site. The point of the exericse is to build FEDERATION COMMANDER into a major presence in the gaming industry, and in the popular culture. I invite your comments, suggestions, complaints, occasional jokes, and anything else you have to say.

One warning. I'm leaving for Europe and will be gone for two weeks, so don't expect a reply soon. It's business, not pleasure (other than the side trip to see Stonehenge). We're going to Europe to find European distributors and retailers, since our products are known (outside of England) only by mail order.