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Thursday, December 31, 2009


It was, looking back on it, a surprisingly good year. Let's run down things one product line at a time.

STAR FLEET BATTLES: The girl who brought you to the dance deserves a few spins around the dance floor, and SFB certainly got some interesting products.

Module Y2 Early Years II continued our exploration of the Pre-Television era of the Star Fleet Universe. One interesting feature was the early years of the ISC, and the wars that made them into one integrated empire. We made a deal with Iron Crown to design the early ISC ships to match some of their existing minis. We were able to use the countersheet to provide some extra counters for Module Y1.

Modules G3 and G3A are part of the Masters series, and update the surprisingly popular G2. Steven Petrick, who runs SFB, added many new charts, tables, and annexes to the database. New features in G3A included the Compilation of Convenient Charts, Master Weapons Chart, Technology Timeline, and an updated Sequence of Play (with the tournament entries in bold for easy access). G3A included an updated Master Table of Contents, the complete Carrier Escort Chart, and a Master Scenario Index.

FEDERATION COMMANDER: We did several new products for this line.

Briefing #2 focused on The Middle Years time period (where the original television series was set), and included a whopping 72 Ship Cards.

The Reference Rulebook updated all of the various product rules to the Revision 5 standard. We then updated every product to this level.

Hydran Attack was in some ways the "second half" of Distant Kingdoms, with more ships and scenarios for the Lyrans, Hydrans, and WYNs. Hydran Attack was associated with Booster Packs #25-#27, Squadron Boxes #25 and #26 (#27 will be along in 2010), and Border Box #9. Hydran Attack also includes counters for Boosters #91-#95. Squadron Box #91 (the first new production of the classic Zocchi plastic ships) and Booster Pack #91 have been released.

CAPTAIN'S LOG: We did two issues, #39 last May and #40 in November, both on schedule. These were both good issues. The new Supplemental Files are proving very popular and are evolving from an afterthought into a serious part of the product creation cycle.

FEDERATION & EMPIRE: This product line should have had a new product this year, but the die-cutting crisis disrupted the overall schedule, and plans to release the new F&E 2010 edition were pushed back to February.

PRIME DIRECTIVE: We have released the d20 Modern version of the Klingon book. Jean Sexton continues work on PD Federation, which should be released in the spring.

STARLINE 2400: The miniatures had a banner year, seeing the release of the long-awaited fighter, shuttle, drone, and plasma minis. We also released the Klingon F5W and other new ships.

STARMADA: This excellent game, done by our friends at Majestic Twelve Games, had not been available in stores until we released a printed edition for them. We have also released Klingon Armada, an expansion which brings our universe to Starmada gamers and the super-fast Starmada game system to the Star Fleet Universe.

GALACTIC CONQUEST: For many years, John Berg and his crew have run a series of campaign games based on Star Fleet Battles. Their rulebook is a fascinating compilation of campaign rules, but were sold only as PDFs and only to participants in the game. Thanks to the magic of print on demand, we made this rulebook available to everyone.

PDF SALES: We started selling a few PDFs as an experiment late this year, and so far, things are going well.

NEWSLETTERS: We released twelve issues of Hailing Frequencies (the on-line newsletter) and twelve issues of Communique (the PDF newsletter for Federation Commander) this year.

NOT A PRODUCT, BUT: The biggest news this year came in January when we found a new building and bought it. ADB, Inc., now has its own home, a very nice 3,000 square foot office building. Everyone now has more space, and Mike Sparks no longer has to pack orders in the warehouse (where the temperature varies from zero to one hundred degrees).

Eric Olivarez has done yeoman work updating our website.

Origins went very well, with unusually strong sales. Jean Sexton sold over 500 miniatures in her "save a starship" campaign.


With a new die cutter able to produce non-defective counters, we are planning a great year.

Star Fleet Battles will see several new products, including the Interim Master Starship Book, Module C3A Andromedan Threat File, and Module R12 Unique Ships.

Federation Commander will complete (but hardly finish) the series with War & Peace, adding the Andromedans, ISC, and Vudar. It will also get the Federation Admiral campaign system and more new boosters.

Captain's Log will get two more issues, the first of which is already nearly one-third done.

Federation & Empire will get the 2010 edition, and work will move forward on ISC War and Civil Wars.

Prime Directive can expect to see the long-awaited Federation book, as well as the first entirely new game system.

Starline 2400 is ready for a series of important new ships, including the Vudar miniatures.

We hope to see entirely new product lines: Battlestations Star Fleet and Silent Star Fleet, done by allied game companies.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

In Praise of Our Volunteers

The adventure game (wargame+roleplaying game) industry is a small one, and there isn't the kind of money inside of it that other industries have. The industry consists of creative game designers willing to work 60 hours a week for half the pay they could command outside the game industry, all because they get to BE game designers.

Even at that, the only way the game industry survives is by the hard labor of unpaid volunteers who (for honor, glory, and rarely some free games) provide no end of valuable services to game publishers.

Mike West answers rules questions on FEDERATION COMMANDER. Mike Curtis does the same thing for Federation & Empire, Andy Palmer for Prime Directive d20, Gary Plana for GURPS Prime Directive, Richard Sherman for Star Fleet Battle Force, and Mike Filsinger for STAR FLEET BATTLES.

Frank Brooks runs the Play-by-Email system as a volunteer. Paul Franz charges barely enough for the On-Line game system (for SFB and FC) to pay the server costs. Mark Tutton does made-to-order decals for our Starline miniatures at a cost that barely covers his costs.

Federation & Empire would not exist without Chuck Strong (a real-world colonel from Space Command) in charge of the overall game system. He keeps his staff (Mike Curtis, Ryan Opel, Scott Tenhoff, and Stew Frazier) busy moving projects forward.

Very little would get done on any of our games except for the Playtest Battle Labs run by Scott Moellmer in Colorado and by Mike Curtis and Tony Thomas in Tennessee. And all of the other playtesters are invaluable to us.

We have other staffers who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including Jean Sexton (Vice President of Proofreading and Product Professionalization); John Berg and Mike Incavo (Galactic Conquest Campaign); and John Sickels, Matthew Francois, Jonathan Thompson, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive). Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each one of them.

Added to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month, by Email or BBS or Forum, contribute in some way to the company and its product line. They may report a glitch in an existing product, playtest a product in development, suggest a new product, point out something another company is doing what we may want to take a look at emulating, look up a rules reference for another player, report on somebody who using our property improperly, comment on a posted draft of a new rule, or simply ask a question nobody else ever dared to ask.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

On Bus Trips and Printing Plants and Prime Directive Federation

Most of you probably know that I get intensive "ADB, Inc." time twice a year: once is at Origins in Columbus, Ohio at the end of June; the other, in Amarillo, Texas during late December. It is late December, so I must be in Amarillo.

I usually love riding the bus and this time was no exception. From Lumberton, North Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia, the bus was so empty that we each had individual seats. From Atlanta to Nashville, Tennessee, many of us had individual seats. After that, we stayed fairly full up to St. Louis, Missouri. From then forward, we were packed and even left people behind.

As usual, I met interesting people. There was a man who was heading west and going to drive trucks. He always had a smile and an easy word to brighten any person's spirits. There was a mother and her three children and I shared my seat with whichever child was the calmest at the time. We found "lost hands" (carefully hidden under shirts -- not eaten or thrown out of the bus windows or captured by aliens), practiced multiplication tables (we found out that all the way through 9x10 that the digits added up to 9, so you could find out if your answer was right), practiced counting in French (gosh, my French is rusty!), discussed color combinations (using white crayons over black crayons makes gray), and discovered the beauty of St. Louis by night. I got to taste a homemade doughnut (delicious!) and had a delightful stretch of the trip. I met a young soldier going to Ft. Leonard Wood who wanted to learn to jump out of perfectly good airplanes. I have every confidence that she will some day.

Special thanks go to Tony Thomas and Mike Curtis who met me at the Nashville bus station and kept me company during my wait there. Thanks also goes to Chris Reando who was willing to open his home to me had I been stranded in St. Louis as so many were.

When I got in to Amarillo, I got the tour of the new building. Folks, it is huge! The company even bought me a new desk of my very own. I had my choice of where I wanted it (Leanna guessed right off the spot I would pick as "mine") and it is in the front of the building where I can see everyone come and go. One of the "Origins tables" on leg extenders is the perfect height for working on a laptop and is turned at right angles to my desk so I have lots of space to work.

And work I did! I got the blog entry edited and up on Monday as well as doing all my normal reports. I showed Steven Petrick the secret to posting blog entries in advance. I started working on Prime Directive Federation. I proofread the first draft of Communique #49. I attended the meeting about the miniatures Tony sent up with me. And then there was fun!

I’ve been fascinated by printing since I was in college. And joy of joys, I got to tour two printing plants, Trafton and Whitney-Russell. Digital printers, printers that used foil, printers that collated, binders, stitchers, die cutters, all of the lovely machinery that makes books and the materials that ADB, Inc. publishes. I even have a sample from the beautiful Xerox iGen3 digital production press. It is simply amazing to see the richness of color and definition that this machine produced.

I did get to see the remote warehouse and decided the men of ADB were quite brave. I know there are spiders lurking in there, as large as Shelob, but as I did not venture far past the door, I was safe. The materials stretched back into the vast darkness of the lair. I'm glad that so much of ADB's warehouse is back in the main building.

As for today, except for the Tuesday meeting and the Christmas party, I will be working on the text of Prime Directive Federation. Steve Cole will be likewise writing his part and with a bit of elbow grease and stick-to-it-ive-ness, we’ll be putting this book together.

It is exciting to be here, working full time, in the heart of ADB, Inc.

Monday, December 28, 2009

This week at ADB, Inc., 20-26 December 2009

Steve Cole reports:

It was Christmas week, but no less busy for it. The weather remained cool or cold all week, with a brief snow flurry on Wednesday.

My big project for the week was F&E 2010, and I added all of the rulings for all of the Captain's Logs. This was very tedious work, keeping track of what I did.

I also did one page of Captain's Log #41 and Petrick did quite a bit of work on that project.

I sent the first four ships from Hydran Attack to FC On Line: Hydran Ranger, LDR NCA, Lyran CL, Klingon F5W.

Eric got a lot of stuff added to the website.

Leanna and Mike were buried in the huge number of mail orders this week, but Leanna managed to call the cleaning crew for the first monthly cleaning in six months.

Work progressed on the addition to our home. The framing crew got the walls and roof on, so we had an (empty) shell the size and shape of the eventual addition by Christmas Eve.

Christmas was low-key but nice. Leanna and I had dinner with what's left of my family (discounting deaths and people who moved away or got self-absorbed and refused to eat with the rest of us). Petrick, who had been sick most of the week, had dinner alone.

The last two days of the week saw the building excitement of Jean's arrival (due on the 27th). She phoned in along her travel route with reports of her adventures.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Got Any Marketing Ideas?

ADB, Inc., is always interested in great marketing ideas, ways and places to sell our products, as well as new products to sell. We are developing a line of non-game products (calendars, paperback books, ship books, plus Cafe Press). We have an Amazon store (not to make money so much as to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers), and the MySpace page exists for that reason as well. We tried a lot of things that didn't work (Google Pay per Click, full-color ads in trade journals) and a lot of things that did work (banners on gamer websites, Star Fleet Alerts) and are always looking for new ideas. If you have any, send them to us at Marketing@StarFleetGames.com and we'll think them over.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Call Higher

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

I thought I would mention something else about the live action roleplaying at Origins. This is not because I am fixated on the event, but because, seriously, it is very hard to keep coming up with something, anything, to say every time I do one of these blogs without repeating myself.

As has been noted, when "the game" got going, immersion began to take over. That is to say that increasingly I fell into my "role" as I saw it. As noted, my primary, almost singular, concern was to take care of the people who were under "my care". This did not mean that I was playing the game accurately. After all, the design of the game intends in part for the players to try to solve mysteries of what happened. But my thoughts were: "Get everyone out, and then call in the big guns to clean up the mess and find out what the heck is going on. We need to survive to call for help, to get resources mobilized to deal with the situation." If we squander ourselves, the message does not get out, and things get worse. It is practically inscribed on my very soul to "call higher and report", to not leave higher in the dark wondering what happened to my detachment. That when the shooting starts, while I am trying to assess the situation and issue orders, my ears are tuned to hear my radioman calling in a S.A.L.U.T.E. report, and if I do not, one of the things I need to do as part of the "battle management" is find out why (anything from the Radio Operator has gotten involved in the fight and forgotten, to the Radio Operator is no longer able to transmit, perhaps because he is already a casualty) and what is necessary to get that report out. In the game, that became "we have to survive". Now, telling higher was the number one concern. Higher in this case probably meant to me telling the government to get the Army here (probably also CDC and other government agencies) to resolve the situation.

So, there were two levels of thought. My immediate effort was geared to getting everyone out and thereby getting the information out.

But if a "choice" had to be made between everyone surviving, and "the word" getting out . . . the information here was too critical and the entire group was expendable in accomplishing that mission. This did not mean that I just allowed people to be killed or be left behind. I was responsible for all of them, and wanted all of them "to make it", but if it came to a choice between getting the word out and someone "not making it", getting the word out was the absolute #1 priority.

That is part of it, keep the bad thing from getting worse. If I got the word out, and the government decided to nuke the site, with me and the others still there, to contain the situation, I could accept it. But if the Corporation destroyed the site, it might conceal what happened from the government, and thus when the Corporation called in the strike, I was still trying to get everyone out to tell the story, but would have been willing if necessary to sacrifice the group to get the word out.

But there is another aspect. Another thing that was in the back of my mind. Was it possible that whatever this was could have infected any of us? The scenario does not play beyond the escape from the site, and a major leadership problem actually arises only then.

You are dealing with an infection, and while you have gotten your people out, is anyone infected? Can you exert enough control over the other four members of your security team to prevent anyone from leaving the group until a quarantine can be established on the group? Are you willing to kill any member of the group, including members of your own security team, to keep the possibility of infection contained? Members of your four man security element may trust you as the leader, and that you have all escaped alive may reinforce that trust, but fear of infection can break the bonds of trust, and command.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Thoughts

Historically, we don't know what day Jesus was born, but it is fitting that we set aside one day each year to remember the greatest teacher who ever lived. Spend time with the family. Call a long-forgotten friend. Give to a charity. Sing a silly Christmas song. It will do you good.

And best wishes for a merry Christmas from all of us at ADB, Inc.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Stephen V. Cole writes:

We have merged the two websites. The combined site now has a new front page, site map, and index, making it a lot easier to use. You are welcome to comment on the changes, but more importantly, please suggest changes, and check the changes we make.

Here is my e-mail: Design@StarFleetGames.com or you can comment on either forum.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Steve Cole reports:

This morning, while doing my daily webcrawl, I came across a consumer request for another version of the FC Master Ship Chart. (He wanted one sorted by Ship Card number.) I thought "Easy" and went to do it. The file is in Excel and I just told it to sort by column #1. Not that easy. The problem is that some cards have been printed multiple times under different numbers (many of them twice, first a prototype in Communique then the final version in a product) and a few of them three times. Having three numbers in that first column means it won't sort right, even if the "real" card number is first. So, I had two choices. Set it aside and do it another time (bad idea, I'd never remember I was in the middle of doing it) and take four hours to do by hand what Excel would not do automatically (which is what I did, because I got "engaged" in the project and just could not stop).

Oh, the perils of living with the knowledge that things set aside are never found and finished. Too much work, too little memory, and letting myself get side tracked into a project that only a few customers wanted was, perhaps, a bad decision that made the "too much work" part get worse, but what the heck, it's done. I am a river to my people.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009



Playing FEDERATION COMMANDER by Email is an alternative to playing Face-to-Face. While there are a few differences (i.e., your opponent isn't sitting across the table from you), it is the same game.

The basic gist of the FEDERATION COMMANDER Play-by-Email (PBEM) system is that you and your opponent submit your orders for the turn to a moderator via Email. The moderator then processes them, and sends a "Sitrep" (Situation Report) to the players via Email. You receive the results, write up your next set of orders, and then submit your orders once again. The process is repeated until the game is completed. Sounds simple? That's because it IS! It'll take a little getting used to (after all, what doesn't?), but once you've got the hang of it, you'll be lobbing photon torpedoes (or whatever your weapon of choice is) at opponents from all over the world.

Every FEDERATION COMMANDER PBEM game has at least three participants: two or more players and one moderator. The moderator's purpose is to accept orders from the players and carry them out, reporting the results of those orders to all players. While (s)he is not a player, the moderator fulfills a very important role in the game. Good moderators and good players make for a good, enjoyable game of FEDERATION COMMANDER. Moderating a FEDERATION COMMANDER PBEM game is also an excellent way to learn more about the FEDERATION COMMANDER rules.

While there are some disadvantages to PBEM (it does take longer to finish a game), there are advantages as well. You can play against people in other parts of the world (how often do you get to Australia, anyway?), you can play multiple games at once, and you can have large multi-player games (without worrying about running out of chips and soda).

For more information about playing FEDERATION COMMANDER PBEM, please visit the Play-by-Email section of ADB, Inc.'s website at www.StarFleetGames.com/pbemgames and we will be happy to help you.

Monday, December 21, 2009

This week at ADB, Inc., 13-19 December 2009

Steve Cole reports:

It was a good week. The weather was cool but not bitterly so most days (it was 24F on Tuesday).

Isis and Ramses made their first visits (on the 16th) to the office (ever) this week due to the noise from the construction crews adding onto our house (they were here most days after that). The cats behaved well and after a few noisy hours settled down to take a nap. Work on the new addition to our house went well. They dug the trenches, laid out the plumbing, and then poured the slab on Saturday. Leanna is very excited to see such rapid progress.

On Thursday, we visited the Open House party for the Kyocera dealer and saw a new color printer we might buy.

The project to send more ships to Federation Commander On-Line continued. I sent the Hydran CWG and the Frax BCH, POL, and FF.

Eric did a great job getting a lot of stuff done on the website. He got the artist pages finished. He uploaded some more Klingon rank insignia charts, more sublight ships, and some FC play aids (the new Master Ship Charts and Scenario Databases). Eric and Mike continued post-production on the new videos.

Leanna and Mike struggled mightily and managed to barely keep up with the massive mail order surge.

Petrick worked most of the week on CL #41 and C3A. He and I did some exercise laps, but I got the rest of the required activity on the construction site. Petrick nearly died of some unknown illness on Saturday but was back at work on Sunday.

I kept up to date reading FYEO every day. Ann Coulter noted that states with universal healthcare (Oregon, Massachusetts) are broke and have lousy health care.

Marketing Monday continued: I updated the wholesaler list on the retail FAQ page. I followed up with a store that asked for information. I read some marketing ideas from Bob Nelson and found two that I should look into. I did another few OPL store registrations. I got the Star Fleet Alert done and it went out on Tuesday.

My primary project continues to be the F&E 2010 rulebook. I finished converting it to the new software on Friday and got busily to work doing the Captain's Log ruling files (so far through CL #25).

We heard from new player-customers in Hungary and New Zealand this week and Leanna had to figure out how to mail stuff to those countries (which was easy enough).

Jean continues working with Gary Plana and others on PD Feds and apparently spent most of the week trying to get the Rimworld story and survey to match with the help of Dale Fields, a professional astronomer.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Stephen V. Cole writes:

Our website is vast and full of fun, useful, and interesting documents, charts, play aids, illustrations, and other things. Most of the best stuff is found at: http://starfleetgames.com/playerresources.shtml which has lists of resources and links to other lists of resources. Take a look down the list and see if there are documents you always wanted and could never find or documents which you never knew you were looking for.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Steve Cole reports:

Federation & Empire is well known as the favorite of my game designs, and it's on the schedule for the new 2010 edition to come out in February 2010 (or, at least, as soon as I can get it done). After finishing Captain's Log #40, F&E 2010 was the next thing on my big project list, but I stalled for two weeks (while cleaning up my office and files) before starting on it.

When I did start, I found a renewal of the pure joy that comes from creating this game, and now the people around the office are heard to say things like "He won't do the press release because he just keeps working on F&E."

The first step was to move the text of the old 2000 edition into new software. This was something of an adventure, and included manually retyping all of the "white text on black bars" headers since the new software does them in a totally different way. (Yes, both programs have style sheets, but I avoid using these as doing the same product over and over, and doing endless expansions and modifications, as we do, the style sheets inevitable self-destruct and cause problems.) I set myself a goal to complete one chapter per day, and I met that goal only with Jean Sexton hounding me for that day's chapter. Some of the chapters, like 300, 400, and 500, took eight or nine hours. Others, like 800 and 900, took a couple of hours.

The second step was the single biggest change in the 2010 edition, the elimination of the CEDS (Carrier Escort Damage System) rules which were a wonky kludge forced upon the game system by the shortage of counters. (The new die cutter gets 280 on a sheet that used to hold only 216, so we had room to eliminate the carrier group counters and just have the individual breakdown ships. The counters are the same size, but the equipment the new die cutter uses doesn't require such wide "bar" between the groups of counters.)

Now, I'm involved in the third step, getting all of the new and changed rules from Captain's Log into the book. This is something of a challenge, and makes me deeply regret that I did not do a 2005 edition since I cannot figure out how anybody plays this game having to look up rules changes in eighteen different issues of a magazine. So far, I have done the files from CL22, CL23, CL24, and CL25. At the urging of Jean Sexton, I have set a goal to do two issues of Captain's Log per day. With fourteen issues left, and discounting Sundays and Christmas, you'd think I would be done by December 28th, but for that to happen i will have to "triple up" some of the days. Jean arrives on the 27th for her annual visit, which will consist of eight days, sixteen hours each, doing nothing but the long-delayed Federation book for Prime Directive.

After Jean leaves, I will start on future steps of F&E 2010. One of these is the "core changes step" such as the auto-kill rule. One of these is "whatever style sheet stuff Jean Sexton makes me do". One of these is "adding cross references to the stuff in the expansions." And the other two are "go through the two BBS systems and process every post by everybody who had something to say". (One BBS is used by the staff, the other by the players. The staff, at least, know to avoid witch hunting, i.e., proposing new or previously rejected changes.)

Getting F&E 2010 finished in time for a release date in February is going to be a challenge. It might just happen, but if not, we'll make it in late February or early March. I'm torn there. I don't want to admit the possibility that I won't get it done in time for the February release date (when other products are already scheduled for release) but I also don't want to release F&E 2010 before it's finished.

Remember the company slogan: "We will ship no game before it's tame!"

But then, there is also the company motto: "We do what we have to do. Not what we want to do, and not what we know we ought to do. But what we have to do."

Friday, December 18, 2009

How to Find Opponents

Steve Cole writes:

Many gamers are looking for new opponents. This is nothing new. When I was a teenager, there were maybe four wargamers in Amarillo that I knew, but there must have been more as the one store that carried Avalon Hill games (then the only wargames) would sell one or two now and then that my friends and I knew we didn't buy. Funny, it never once occurred to us to ask the store manager to give our phone numbers to the other guys. When I was in college, SPI (then the second wargame company and rapidly becoming larger and more innovative than Avalon Hill) had an opponent wanted list. I sent in my dollar to get it, and found only one person (of the 20 on the list) who was within 120 miles; the first and last person on the list were each 450 miles away (in opposite directions).

These days, the concept of contacting other gamers has had decades to mature, and works much better, and you have a lot of ways to do it. For best results, do all of them.

You can go to the Commander's Circle and enter your data (as much or as little as you are comfortable with) and perhaps find opponents near you. We are gaining new sign-in's every day, and since it's free you can try it every month or two and find out of somebody near you has signed in.

You can go to the Forum and find the area where local stores and groups post announcements and invitations and let people know you're around. How silly would you feel if you found out that the guy who you've been arguing with on the forum for years actually lives in your town. (That HAS happened.)

Feel free to go to your local store and ask them to let you post a notice looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of FEDERATION COMMANDER (or any of our games) and "grown your own" opponents. If anybody already plays the game you demo, they'll doubtless drop by just to swap phone numbers.

Many towns have community bulletin boards on the local cable company's "home" channel. These are variously free or cost just a couple of dollars. It's hit-and-miss, but you could get lucky. (When I commanded Company C of the 1-39 MPs, I gained a dozen new recruits in a year that came from cable TV.) You could also buy a cheap want ad in the newspaper or the free advertising newspaper (American's Want Ads or whatever yours is called) found in quickie marts.

The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to our Legacy site and look for the button that says Player Resources. Under that menu is a link for Starlist. Enter your data in the form, and you'll get a list of local players back. (This may take a day or two as it is done by hand.) Starlist is the most effective hunt for new players because the database has some five thousand players in it, far more than all of the other sources combined. The only drawback is that Starlist works with full information (name and address) and those who are seriously concerned about identity theft often find this uncomfortable. In all reality, however, Starlist would not give an identity thief any more information than your local phone book would, and if that's enough for those criminals to operate, they would be vastly more likely to use the phone book than to request a copy of Starlist.

The original website has a bulletin board system and the 8th item on the main menu is "seeking opponents". You can post a notice there (and search the previous postings). Again, you can post as much or as little information as you are comfortable with.

Many of those on Starlist and StarFleetGames.com/discus will be players of STAR FLEET BATTLES, but most of those can be convinced to play FEDERATION COMMANDER. Indeed, over half of the names on Starlist are people who quit playing STAR FLEET BATTLES for lack of opponents (or because SFB was too complex for them or their opponents) and most of those are ready recruits for the faster cleaner FEDERATION COMMANDER game system.

With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see the links list on our site).

If there is a game convention within driving distance, it's worth a trip to see if you might find someone who is also within driving distance. If there is a game club in your home town, or a store with a gaming area, go there and set up the game and wait for somebody to ask what it is. (Even better, take a friend who will play the game with you so you won't be bored.) If there is a star trek club in your home town, show them FEDERATION COMMANDER or Star Fleet Battle Force. There are people who have printed a card with the logo of one of our games and their Email address and left these in the windows of their cards who got Emails from other gamers in their home towns who were seeking opponents.

You can go always go to SFB Online and play FEDERATION COMMANDER on-line with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum of $5 per month. You might even stumble into somebody local.

There are probably more ways than this to find opponents, but unless you live in a cave somewhere, you can almost certainly find a new friend within a short while by trying these methods.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


This is Steven Petrick posting:

With work progressing on an addition to SVC and Leanna's home, it has become necessary to evacuate Rambo and Isis up here to the office for both their own safety and the safety of the workmen (if Rambo or Isis were to escape while the workmen were there, Leanna would kill them all, and then kill them all again). There is also the matter that Rambo and Isis do not take kindly to the sounds of the construction. So for the past two days they have been here at the office.

This was their first visit to the new office, and the first half of their first day here was not any fun for them. They were nervous, unsure of the location, and spent about as much time hiding as anything else. By the afternoon they were much more comfortable and sure of themselves, to the extent that instead of hiding they were sleeping in relatively open areas.

Today, their second trip to the office, they almost immediately recognized the territory and settled into their new "office routines". Prowling the corridors and investigating what everyone was doing. While they have found some isolated areas where they are out of view to sleep, they spent their waking time visiting with people to be spoken to and petted.

Overall, their visit to the office can be considered a success, and they have completely taken over.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Global Whitewash

This is Steven Petrick posting.

This last Sunday there was (finally) an article about Climategate in the paper. The article explained how the Associated Press (AP) had studied the stolen Climate Research Unit E-mails and determined that there was no story there.

No story here. Move along, move along. Nothing to see here.

As part of the above, and for those who had not gotten much about Climategate but perhaps a few rumors from cranky old guys (like me), the AP article included a few choice quotes to prove that their extensive analysis showed that there was simply nothing there.

They noted that one quote was simply a researcher taking regrettable relief that a noted anti-Man-Caused-Global-Warming activist had died. And that while it might have been in poor taste to imply a certain amount of celebration over the activist's death having silenced him, that was all it was. Obviously we can all agree that he was just being human.

I will observe that I do not recall anyone making any noise about the above quote. After all, how many of us in the Western World, particularly the United States, would be upset on hearing that Osama bin-Laden had died (other than a feeling he had escaped justice for his deeds)?

They noted that a paper that the E-mails suggested should be blocked from publication was "subsequently discredited BECAUSE IT HAD BEEN PARTLY PAID FOR BY OIL COMPANIES".

Should all the papers which promote the concept that man caused global warming that are partly, or in whole, supported by the pro-"man has caused global warming" lobby as a means of getting us to force our governments to force us to be "green" be blocked? Certainly Al Gore has nothing to gain if we go green, right? Why is it okay to block a paper that might (MIGHT) be tainted by the oil money rather than allowing it to go through the peer-review process? Why are the pro-"man caused global warming" people so terrified that the exposing the peer review process to papers they themselves have not approved would not result in the peers seeing through the oil company shenanigans and rejecting the paper on its own merits? Why is the media not interested in the literally hysterical efforts by the Pro-"man caused global warming" zealots to not even allow contradictory papers to be peer reviewed?

There were other quotes (I believe at least two others) that were in a similar vein. That is to say that they studiously avoided going anywhere near the quotes that cause the most furor.

Where was the AP report on the E-Mail with "hide the decline"? Somehow, while simple folks like me are very interested in just what was meant by that statement, the AP has summarily dismissed it as unimportant. This was a quote that even the members of the CRU were desperate not to acknowledge, pointing at the word "trick" earlier in that sentence in an effort (obviously successful in the case of the AP's diligent analysis of the E-mails) to divert us away from that text. Not explained to this day do my knowledge.

The AP story also makes a flat statement that "nothing criminal occurred" (paraphrase), and makes this by ignoring the statements in the E-mails about violating England's "Freedom of Information laws", i.e., not reporting on them in the story. In short, not addressing that aspect at all short of issuing its own blanket amnesty even before the British government has concluded its own investigation.

The AP reporters have also determined that "there is no proof any information was destroyed". Sure, there is no "proof", only E-mails that seemed to include admissions that information was destroyed, and definitely and quite specifically invited other "scientists" to join in destroying information in order to prevent it being accessed under England's Freedom of Information laws.

Those particular E-mails were apparently overlooked by the five AP reporters who rigorously examined the files. They must have been merely overlooked, as otherwise surely the story would have quoted them and explained why those particular E-mails did not mean what they clearly mean in plain and simple English.

At least English as understood by anyone who does not have an agenda to prove Man Caused Global Warming.

So, as I noted in my last post, there is a reason why news media rank just above politicians, and this story supports that reason.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Free stuff for FEDERATION COMMANDER players!

STEVE COLE WRITES: Some people do not realize that you can download what amounts to a free copy of the FEDERATION COMMANDER game (well, enough of the game to play a few battles). Go to www.StarFleetGames.com/fc and you will find a lot of stuff you can download. Some of those downloads include:
o The free First Missions packet (demo version of FEDERATION COMMANDER).

o Turn gauges and firing arcs for the tabletop rules.

o Sample Ship Cards.

o Wallpapers of game covers.

o Frequently asked questions.

o Information for retailers.

o The original theatrical trailer (ok, not that, but it WAS the original flyer handed out at trade shows).

o Notes from the game designer (Steve Cole) on what parts of the older game STAR FLEET BATTLES we decided to include in FEDERATION COMMANDER.

But that's just a start. If you join the Commander's Circle, which is free, you can download the monthly Communiqué which includes scenarios, tactics, and new ships. You can also access a database of FEDERATION COMMANDER players looking for new opponents (you!).

Monday, December 14, 2009

This week at ADB, Inc., 6-12 December 2009

Steve Cole reports:

It was cold all week, below freezing at night. We finally had an afternoon where you didn't mind walking around outside on Friday, and again on Saturday. Snow flurries on Tuesday melted when they hit. Petrick and I kept up our exercise program, but I'm still not losing weight. Leanna is, and she looks great. Thursday, we found a crime scene literally on our doorstep. Somebody left their car parked here when they took a taxi home from the bar next door. During the wee hours, the car was broken into and stolen. I called the police to make sure they were finished before I had Eric and Mike sweep up the broken glass.

Leanna got my new widescreen monitor working on Sunday. She and I (along with Petrick and Mike) worked the whole day Sunday due to the massive number of mail orders. The massive number of mail orders continued all week.

Eric and I got Hailing Frequencies out on the 1tenth, while Mike West and I got Communique out on the same day. We've got a streak going of several on-time issues in a row.

I finally got started on F&E 2010. The first step is to convert the existing book into Pagemaker, which takes between two and four hours per chapter. I got chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4 done by Saturday. Jean set my goal as one chapter per day. Of course, converting the software is just one part of the project, but I have to convert the whole book before doing serious design work as otherwise I'd have nowhere to put the new text.

A ton of work has been done on CL #41, which is over 1/3 finished and it's still five months away. We have two good fiction stories, the snapshots, the developmental history article, Victory and Command at Origins 09, as well as the twelve SSDs done.

I sent the Booster #92 cards to the staff so we can release that in February. I finished the FC Scenario Database and gave it to Eric to upload.

Eric was busy all week messing with the website. He added more ships to the Starmada page, more sublight SSDs, more play aids for PD, better links on a lot of pages, created the video page and artist page.

I sent four ships to FCOL: Old Galaxy Pirate Raider, LDR CWS, Klingon D7A, and Frax DN. I have converted all of the CL #40, Communique #48, and FCHA ships to FCOL and will send four a week to Paul Franz.

I cleaned out over 200 old in-box Emails, answering a bunch of stuff that should not have waited this long.

The whole industry is up in arms about Outlaw Press, which is using a ton of other people's art and games without permission, selling them as PODs and PDFs. There is talk of a class-action lawsuit (which isn't really the way that works, it's more a matter of finding a lawyer who will take the case and collect his fee from the pirate publisher).

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Steve Cole reports:

One morning in mid-December, we arrived at work to find a crime scene literally on our doorstep, well, in the parking spaces six feet from the door. There was a pile of broken automobile glass (including some fairly large pieces over a foot across) and skid marks of someone driving out very fast. It seemed obvious to us that somebody had broken into a car the night before. (There is a bar next door, and cars are parked near our building until 2am every morning. Fairly often, we get to work to find a car left overnight by someone who had too much to drink and got a ride home by some other means. We don't mind the bar, which is run by a nice couple. We use some of their parking during the day and their customers use our parking at night.)

The obvious thing to me was to mention this mess to Mike and Eric (our employees) and tell them to wait until it warmed up a little, then go shovel the glass into a trash barrel before it damaged somebody's tires. They both saw the glass when they got here and parked down the row in front of the bar.) What may have been less than obvious to many people was that it's not a good idea to go clean up a crime scene until you know for a fact that the police are done with it. I went and found the non-emergency phone number (no point in bothering a 911 operator) and asked her to figure out if the stolen car had been reported and were they done with the crime scene. I was transferred to the detectives office where a nice detective lady hunted down the incident report (due to the marvels of modern computers, this took less than a minute). She then called the officer in charge of that crime, found out he was done with the scene, thanked me for being a responsible citizen, and told me to go ahead and clear the place up.

I knew to do this not from watching TV (although one would assume a reasonably intelligent grownup could figure this out the first time a television detective complained about his crime scene being cleaned up) but from the military police training I had in the Guard. I wish every citizen was required to be taught these things. When you find a crime scene, call the police, and ask them what to do. (I found a stolen purse on our doorstep a month ago and called the police to come collect it.) Don't mess with the crime scene; at most, stand there and tell others to stay away until the cops arrive. If you do innocently mess with the crime scene (or do so deliberately for reasons that made sense at the time), tell the cops exactly what you did. (They may have to fingerprint you for elimination. My prints are on file from the military, so I could skip that part when I assumed the purse had been dropped and carried it inside.)

Don't fear the police, but don't tell them how to do their job or ask them to tell you what happened. It's none of your business what happened, and you don't know how to do their job. Just tell them what you saw or found and ask them what to do with it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Stephen V. Cole writes:

Have you ever heard of Cafe Press? Cafe Press is a website where you can open up a free online shop and promote products on your website. Cafe Press creates and sells products with designs provided by various companies. So upon learning about Cafe Press, Leanna set up an account and we have uploaded several designs for T-shirts, coffee mugs, Christmas ornaments, mousepads, etc.

See www.CafePress.com/starfleetuniv for these items. And take a look at our new I-heart-Klingons T-shirt!

If you have any questions or comments or would like to see something on Cafe Press, let me know and I will try to set it up for you! Email me at: Design@starfleetgames.com

Friday, December 11, 2009

Have the Proponents of Global Warming Lost

This is Steven Petrick Posting:

The answer to the above question would seem to be an unqualified "no". I say this based on casual conversations in check out lines. The people around me are utterly unaware that there is such a thing as "The Climate Research Unit", much less that its E-Mail files were hacked. In essence, the fact that the Main Stream Media has chosen not to mention it is some of the best "damage control" the individuals working their could have hoped for. It has been nearly two weeks since the story broke on the internet, but mainstream America seems totally oblivious to it.

I admit that my sample size is necessarily small, and composed of the odd older generation person purchasing groceries, and college and high school age cashiers with a sprinkling of twenty- and thirty-year old customers and managers. The near universal response has been, however, "hunh". Some of them were already global warming skeptics (particularly this year when temperatures so far have been consistently below average locally). Some of them were of the church of man-caused global warming, and were startled at the very concept that the priests would lie, but as good acolytes, they pretty much just allowed themselves to be "troubled".

A few were convinced that I was making the whole thing up because . . . well it was not in the papers or in the news on ABC, CBS, or NBC.

There was a partial divide in that those who made their living "out of doors" were more likely (apparently, at least in my sample) to believe Global Warming was a lot of hooey (because they were exposed to the recent winter blasts directly), while office workers and students (people who could spend at lot of time indoors) were more likely to be devotees of the Church.

As with so many things, what stories the editors choose to allow escape to the General Public can have a radical effect on a people's view and understanding of a world, but none of these editors would accept being called "propagandists", but ultimately it is what they are when they choose to censor what the public learns rather than telling the truth and allowing the public to decide.

In this case, what they have decided is quite obvious, and yet they wonder why newsmen frequently show up in surveys as people not to be trusted (I think they come in just ahead of elected officials).

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Steve Cole reports:

We have released this month's issue of the Hailing Frequencies newsletter and this month's Communique. The newsletter has the latest information on release schedules and company news, as well as lots of other useful content. It also has links to the new Communique, a free PDF newsletter which is full of good things for Federation Commander players, including new ships, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules. The newsletter also has links to the most recent Star Fleet Alerts, the press releases that tell your store when to expect new products.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Stephen V. Cole writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download FEDERATION COMMANDER wallpaper.

Klingon Border, Romulan Border, Klingon Attack, and Romulan Attack are currently available in the following sizes : 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024.


If there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to see turned into wallpaper, please feel free to write me at graphics@StarFleetGames.com and I will get it set up for you.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The High Church of Global Warming

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

One of the problems with this world (and it has always been a problem, even back when Ugg and Gug were trying to figure out the best way to bring down a game animal at the dawn of Man) is the question of "whom to believe". Our leaders are, even now, negotiating our future based on their own passionate belief that the planet is undergoing a change in climate, and it is Man's fault. The problem is that the Climate Research Unit has been shown to have feet made of something considerably more pungent than mere clay. This is the leading temple in the faith of man caused global warming, and its inhabitants are its high priests. And they have, we find, acted as such. They have seen that their own wisdom is so great that they are allowed to conceal, and even destroy, any information that might cause doubts in the faithful. Further, they have taken unto themselves by right of their faith the obligation to destroy others in order to further their cause.

There cannot be any doubt at all that the men at the Climate Research Unit were true believers, totally invested in the faith of global warming is caused by man.

The problem is that they became so invested in that belief that they ceased to be scientists. They were utterly unwilling to consider any possibility that their belief system might be flawed, or even worse, wrong. As such, they entered into collusion with one another to conceal anything they might "be harmful to the faithful", i.e., the general public. This included the right to lie and to destroy anyone who was not "of the faith".

The sad part is that this does not mean that man is not a cause of global warming. That perhaps our activities do not so much cause global warming (other environmental factors do so), but that our contribution is what pushes it over the top. Or our contribution might just make it only a little worse (or, frankly, have no impact whatsoever).

Now we cannot know.

We cannot know because the high priests of the church of man caused global warming have lied to us, and been caught in the lie. Have been caught destroying data that might have proven the lie. Have been caught falsifying data. Nothing that has come from the Climate Research Unit can be accepted as true and factual. Millions of dollars of tax payer funds have been squandered by these men. And there is literally no choice but to go back to square one and reconstruct all of the data from the start. Nothing in the Climate Research Unit can be accepted.

The high priests of the Church of Global Warming should all be fired, and blacklisted, never allowed to work for the public again. Never allowed to submit their own papers for peer-review because they corrupted the system to their own ends. They can never ever be trusted by the general public, and as such should not be allowed to address the General Public nor draw funds from the General Public

Monday, December 07, 2009

This week at ADB, Inc., 29 November to 5 December 2009

Steve Cole reports:

This was a quiet week. The next deadline is in early February, and what's going on now is mostly planning, cleaning up things that did not get done earlier, and starting long-range work on projects for next year. I actually spent a good chunk of this week on the upcoming announcement of the 2010 schedule. Every product has to be analyzed for sales potential, production cost, and retail price. That gets complicated in cases where much of the production happens outside, such as with the miniatures. We also had to balance the workload between myself, Steve Petrick, and Jean Sexton, who together actually do all of the written and printed products.

The weather this week was cool, dropping below freezing most nights. We only got a trace of moisture, but we did have cloudy skies a few days. It was too cold to walk around the block, so twice Steve Petrick and I drove to an art gallery a mile away, walking about a mile each time. We did enjoy the daily news debacle as the global warming hoax is exposed as the fraud we knew it was.

I did a lot of work this week converted FC Ship Cards from Captain's Log, Communique, and Hydran Attack into the format for Federation Commander On Line. This week I sent the energy monster, Frax CW, Frax DW, Lyran CWS to them. I plan to continue sending four ships a week, and the first ships from Hydran Attack should go there in two weeks.

I also continued work on expanding the FC Scenario Database to include more information.

Eric got the newsletter ready for release on the 10th and I got Communique finished and given to Petrick to review. It will go to the staff next and be released on time.

Work has begun on Captain's Log #41. I did a one-page snapshot, and Petrick did about a dozen SSDs. I did a pretty good draft of the FC Tournament page using Mike Filsinger's notes.

Jean finished her work on the FC Booster #92 cards, so those will go to the staff next week.
What did not get done was any work on F&E 2010.

Eric continued upgrading the website and adding new stuff, such as an updated Gazetteer and creating a Starmada category on the PHP forum. On Saturday the 5th, we shot four more movies for YouTube, but it may be a week before they are uploaded as the guys are adding still photos and screens listing the website. The PC Eric uses (Jack) had a virus attack and had to have some work done, but is fine now.

Leanna and I continue working with the contractor on the addition to our home. This week, we signed the formal contract and selected the granite and tile.

Jean reported another failed burglary attempt on her home and resolved that she will have to move to a safer neighborhood next year. We continue to make plans for her annual visit. She should arrive on the 27th.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Steve Cole writes:

I constantly see things on industry mailing lists and in my Email where people want advice on entering the game business. The best advice I have is my free book which you can find at www.StarFleetGames.com/book as a nice multi-chapter PDF.

In one recent case, an individual wrote to say: "I just lost my job and have decided to be a game designer for a living. I need a stable income of $4,000 a month. How long would it take me to get there? Three months? Six?"

I laughed and cried at the same time. For one thing, I don't make $4,000 a month now and I've been in the industry 28 years. (A few years I have made that much, barely, but not in the current market.) The sad fact is that except for the lucky three or four, game designers won't ever make that much. Worse, you probably cannot make a living as an independent game designer at all, since game publishing companies were (99% of the time) created to publish the owner's games because no other company would publish them.

In another case from some time ago (I'm going to blur some facts here so that nobody can tell who I'm talking about), a young game enthusiast decided to quit his day job and focus his full time efforts on game design and publishing. His wife said that she would allow this only if he "brought home" a paycheck of a defined amount each month. He had some money from an inheritance which was separate property and his wife allowed that he could use this. Well, he went through the nest egg, borrowed money from savings without telling his wife, maxed out the credit card he got for the business, and then got two more cards (those offers in the mail) without telling his wife and maxed them out. All the time (his company lasted 18 months and did a dozen products) he was "bringing home" the required paycheck. His company was making a profit beyond expenses, but not enough to cover the paycheck, but the paycheck continued because (a) his wife insisted and (b) he was sure he would start making more sales any time. One of the credit cards was a $5,000 cash advance spent on advertising (which produced few if any new sales). Every month, he wrote that paycheck but came up short elsewhere. He had established credit with the printers and with the companies that sold him advertising pages so he ended up deeply in debt to the printer and to advertising publishers. Worse, his first product (which sold well enough) ran out of print, but it was going to cost $20K to reprint it and the dwindling rate of sales (nowhere near as good as it had been 18 months earlier) would not support the debt load, but he "had" to reprint it to avoid looking like a company on the way out. Finally, with no more places to borrow money and creditors threatening legal action, he took the case to his wife for a home equity loan. She, of course, had no clue that his company was $40K in debt (for which he was personally liable) or that most of the family savings account was gone. It's a wonder she didn't kill him or leave him, but she did force him out of the game business immediately. He sold out for what he could get and applied that money to the debts. Moral of the story, if you are married, make your wife a part of every business decision and do not keep secrets from her about family money.

In another case (actually, there are four or five of these I have seen, all about the same), an enthusiastic game designer who knew nothing about the industry but was sure his game was the next big thing got a home equity loan, printed thousands of copies of his game, and THEN (and only then) asked other game companies how to contact stores and wholesalers to sell his game. He had no clue what size the market was (few games sell over a couple of thousand copies) or who the wholesalers were or what it would take to get them to buy (some now demand that you pay them $500 for advertising before they will carry your game) or even what the discount structure was (which meant that his cost per game was fairly close to the 40% of the retail price he had printed on the games). Moral of the story, learn as much as you can about the industry before you spend a dime getting into it. GO READ MY BOOK FIRST.

I see lots of gamers who think that running a retail store, and on-line discount store, or a game publishing company involves low work and high reward. It does not. If it did, a lot more people would be in this business.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


This is Steven Petrick posting:

We lost a computer temporarily due to computer malware. This temporarily (about a day) shut down our UPS system and required taking the computer to be serviced. We have installed new anti-virus programs, and things are back on track.

Friday, December 04, 2009


Steven Petrick posts:

As a counterpoint to SVC's post, these are the TV shows I watch which will at least let you see that there are differences between myself and SVC. Some are currently on hiatus or developing for the next season (24, In Plain Sight, etc.), some have recently been canceled (Defying Gravity, Eastwick, etc.), and some I am unsure of their current status (Chuck, Flashpoint, etc.). The shows are all in alphabetical order, so do not read any special favoritism to any of them by the order of their appearance.


24: I have followed the travails of Jack Bauer since the first season. This show has always been very escapist in that while it purports to be what has happened in a 24-hour period, there is very obvious "fudging" with the timelines going on to make it all fit, not to mention frequent and massive "coincidences" to bring it all together to a conclusion.

Bones: I started watching this only because David Boreanz was going to be in it as special agent Booth. I keep watching it more because he is in it, and I like the actor, and because the writing is often pretty good. But, really, at this juncture the only characters I like on the show are Agent Booth and the various guest star assistants that show up from time to time. They have done things with all of the other characters that have essentially left me not caring if they live or die in the show (and this includes "Bones" herself).

Burn Notice: When I first heard of this show I simply assumed it would be about a man who was constantly foiling the evil American CIA/FBI/NSA to make the world safe for ignorant Americans who did not realize that other countries were kinder, gentler, and nicer than we are. So I did not watch it initially. Later I found out what some of the plotlines were, and regretted that I had not watched it, and was not willing to jump in the middle of the show. Then the USA network ran a marathon of the first season, and I have watched the Travails of Michael Weston ever since. I enjoy this show and think USA has some of the best writers in TV.

Castle: I had to give this show a shot just because Nathan Fillion from Firefly was going to be in it. While I often find his character annoying, so far the writing has held up. This show is unusual in that I pretty much like all of the four primary cast members (Castle, Beckett, and her two fellow officers).

Chuck: I am unsure if this show has been canceled; I have heard different things, and I am not so devoted to TV that I will stop to take the time to do a google search for news about it. I primarily like Adam Baldwin who played Jayne on Firefly and is the CIA officer in this show. Chuck himself, and his friends, can frequently be annoying. The end of the season with Chuck now being the new "Jake 2.0" was really annoying to me. Yet, I like the show (even if its efforts to make our own intelligence agencies seem evil annoy me) and will continue to watch it if it comes back.

Clash of the Gods: I do not know if there are going to be more episodes of this. It is essentially little more than an explanation of various myths that back in the old days you would have learned in school, with a heavy-handed anti-Christian undertone, i.e., "see these are myths, and therefore Christianity is a myth and should be ignored." While I am not a bible thumper, I find these continuing efforts of Hollywood to liberate us from morality offensive.

Dark Blue: I am NOT a fan of Dylan McDermott, and watched this show more to have something to talk to SVC about than for any other reason. None of the characters appeals to me, and I am sick to death of conflict being provided by shows about local cops complaining about the FBI interfering in their investigations and showing the FBI going out of its way to do so and destroy the local cops. (And the reverse in shows about the FBI, i.e., the local cops deliberately interfere with the FBI if the FBI is the basis of the show.) The writing in this show is just not all that good in my opinion.

Deadliest Warrior: I started watching this based on comments on our own BBS. Frankly, it comes down more to "who has the most advanced technology" in their simulations, and I do not always agree with their results in any case. There is more to a conflict than just who and what the people were, like Home Turf. The Apache beat the Gladiator, for example, but "the fight" was on the Apache's home turf, giving him room to run. If an "arena" the Gladiator would have been able to force the Apache against a wall and make him stand and fight. I have similar observations about some of the other matchups.

Defying Gravity: This show is only on the list because there was a rumor that some episodes were not aired and will be shown at a later date. I was really sorry this show was canceled, as I wanted to learn what was going on.

Dollhouse: I have watched this from the beginning. Like Defying Gravity above, it has been canceled, and they are just running the last few episodes.

Eastwick: Another canceled show, and one I watched only because I knew it would be canceled and I may as well see all of it now. The male lead was obviously enjoying himself, and I liked two of the three neophyte witches, but for the most part did not really like the show.

Eureka: I have enjoyed this show since it started, and am looking forward to new episodes.

The Closer: I have never seen the series premier (they seem to have never rerun it), which is sad. I came to the show late as I am not all that fond of police procedural shows. However, I was intrigued by the introduction of an episode in which the evidence of the crime is in a car that gets stolen, so I watched that one and was hooked. Unlike a lot of shows, I actually like all of the characters. I like that some of the bureaucratic infighting occurs, but that people (outside of the
Closer's group) are able to put that aside for the greater good when it is necessary. That there is competition, but also respect between the department heads. I have enjoyed this show and its blend of seriousness and comedy.

Flash Forward: I do not know what to say. I strongly suspect this show will be canceled, and if it is, I will not really miss it.

Flashpoint: One of the few "police shows" I watch.

The Forgotten: Like SVC I keep wondering what is going to happen when one of these volunteers gets killed or badly injured, or a host of other problems. Myself, I also believe that there should be an episode every now and then where they fail to identify the victim and do not solve a murder. I do not find any of the characters particularly likable, but I will probably keep watching it.

Fringe: I started watching it, and frankly am just waiting for it to be canceled. The only character I liked (Special Agent Charlie Francis) has been killed, and from that point I really have no actual interest in the show.

Heroes: I was hooked on this show by Hiro and his pal Ando, and they are all that kept me watching as long as I have. I have the current season on Tivo, but have not watched a single episode. I may actually just delete them unwatched. Too much to put up with just to see Hiro
and Ando.

In Plain Sight: The only reason I watch this show is that I like the sidekick, Marshal Marshal. The rest I have no interest in.

Legend of the Seeker: It was swords and sorcery so I gave it a shot. But really, I find it disappointing for the most part. There is no character I like particularly, and the villains are villains because they want to be villains. The show would have been more interesting if the lead villain did not think of himself as a villain (killing a kitten for pity's sake). Ultimately, it is just way too cliché.

Leverage: The writing is okay, the plots not really believable at all, none of the characters are particularly likable.

Lie to Me: Another show I watch only because I started watching it, and I am waiting for it to be canceled. No likable characters.

Life After People: It is somewhat interesting.

Lock n' Load with R. Lee Ermy: Just touches on things that interest me, although the way R. Lee Ermy fires some weapons makes me feel ill.

Lost: I am just glad this is the last season.

Mentalist: Another show where I like the cast, but the Red John plot line is getting stale quite rapidly.

Monk: Everytime Monk does his phobia shtick I get ill, only matched by Detective Randy's inanities. Still, I like Tony Shaloub and the writing has been pretty good through the series.

Mythbusters: If Jamie ever kills his cohost, I will vote for his acquittal on grounds of justifiable homicide. Still, the show is amusing and I have learned a few things.

NCIS: I feel the show is backsliding this season, that Tony DiNozo is losing some of the maturity he seemed to have gradually gained since the show started. I have never liked Ziva, and am annoyed at the new "Israel is an enemy" plot twist they added at the start of this season. But I like Gibbs, and McGee, and Ducky, and Tony, so I will keep watching for a while yet.

NCIS: LA: This show is largely a disappointment as the plots are your typical "We (America) are our own worst enemy" stuff. The only character I really like is the one portrayed by LL Cool J.

Primeval: I list this only because someday I may get to see the fourth season.

Psych: Whenever Sean Spencer does his face Psychic shtick I get ill and want to change the channel. I also get tired of Lassiter being shown up, as it makes the show too cliché. Still, I like Spencer's sidekick (Dulle Hill) and keep hoping the show will get better (perhaps by giving Hill a larger role).

Saving Grace: I am not a fan of Holly Hunter, and this show has made that even more apparent. I dislike the heavy-handed propaganda in it also. I really watch it in hopes it will get better.

Smallville: I really hate the changing canon of the Superman story (afterall, I pretty much grew up with it), and the ONLY reason I watch this show is to see Allison Mack (Chloe Sullivan). Otherwise there is not one single character or actor on this show I care about.

The Troop: I am rather annoyed that they went to dressing the boys in drag so early in the series, but it is Nickelodeon. Still, it is somewhat humorous.

V: Not that impressed, do not really like the plot, think the writing is pretty poor. I only like the female FBI agent. And, as noted, if not for the shot at the end of the fourth hour of the gathered invasion fleet, I probably would not have tuned back in next year.

Warhouse 13: I enjoy the show, even if there are no characters I particularly like.

Warriors: I watch this, even though I often find the history being twisted by modern thought.

What Went Down: I am not sure why I have watched this show since the first one. It does not tell me anything I do not already know.

White Collar: So far, the writing has been pretty good, even if I find the thief's good fortune a little much to swallow. Still, I like the FBI agent and his wife.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Many people do not know that you can play FEDERATION COMMANDER on-line in real time against live opponents.

Eight years ago, www.SFBonline.com was created to provide players of STAR FLEET BATTLES with an on-line gaming experience. It was a smash hit as hundreds of gamers joined the battles. Tournaments and other competitions, plus general opening gaming, have gone on around the clock since then.

This successful operation has now been expanded to include FEDERATION COMMANDER!

Now you can play with real live human (not to mention Klingon, Romulan, Kzinti, Gorn, Tholian, Orion, and other) opponents all over the world in real time 24 hours a day! The computer automates many functions and acts as a friendly assistant for mundane chores.

For the modest subscription fee of less than $4 a month, you have access to all of the ships in the FEDERATION COMMANDER game system as well as new ships still in playtest and development. The Java Runtime system is compatible with Windows and Macintosh systems.

Never worry about a lack of opponents. Never worry about opponents who don't show up for games day because of silly reasons like family reunions or their own weddings. Don't be cut off from your regular gaming group while on vacations or business trips.

Even better, you can join in on-line tournaments and campaigns, and your victories will add up to a higher and higher average score!

The system also allows you to chat with friends, taunt your enemies, and watch other players fight their own savage battles. (Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from someone else's?) This "observer" system allows players of either game to learn the ins and outs of the other game before deciding to invest time and money in it.

So come to www.SFBonline.com right away. You can even fly the Federation CA or Klingon D7 as a free trial, or watch any game in play. Legendary SFB aces and new FEDERATION COMMANDER aces strut their stuff in combat arenas all the time, and you can learn from the best.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Exercise and Environment

This is Steven Petrick posting.

We finally got the first real snow of the winter this last Sunday (29 November 2009). As might be expected, things got cold. Still late that night I realized that I had not done my daily walk. (SVC and I are on a new regime where we walk at least some small distance each day to build up his stamina.)

As it is agreed that we will do this, I have to make a special effort to be "good", that is to actually perform the exercise no matter what the conditions are.

The conditions in this case were 27° Fahrenheit with a slight breeze.

One would think that this would be cause for bundling up, but as the distance was short (twice around the block), I could not be bothered. So confirming all the worst thoughts SVC has about me, I struck out in shorts, T-shirt, socks, running shoes, key to the apartment, and black BDU cap.

I know what cold is, and am quite aware that one of the effects of cold temperatures is a partial suppression of the immune system. Being "cold" does not cause you to catch a "cold", but if you encounter the disease, you are more susceptible to it, thus the correlation in most people's minds with cold causing colds. But the things that cause colds are always around looking for an opening, and thus you can catch a "cold" in the middle of the summer.

I also very much tend to see cold as something to be managed. This does mean that there are dangers. For example, if I lost the key and could not access my apartment, I could be in serious jeopardy. The management comes in that ultimately prolonged exposure to cold will eventually start drawing the heat out of the core of my system. Motion, that is to say the burning of fuel (i.e., exercise) can delay this, but without added layers of clothing to trap that heat it will only delay the inevitable. That again goes to managing the situation. Most Americans tend to "overdress", and that becomes a habit without thinking, and in an emergency it can get you killed. If you are dressed too warmly, and start exercising, your warm clothes will cause you to perspire, which in turn will soak your warm clothing, and then freeze, defeating the purpose of the warm clothing.

Thus the management of my personal environment, i.e., I need to be dressed well enough to ward off the cold, but not so well that I will perspire in my clothing. In the field, it is a constant battle, and some of the best clothing you can have is a hat (most heat loss is through the top of your head), a scarf, and a pair of insulated shoes. Those won't keep you alive in the Arctic, but they will help you to retain your core body temperature longer than if you lacked them, and the chances of perspiration soaking your clothing while engaged in exercise is greatly reduced.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The "V" Marathon

This is Steven Petrick posting:

Back in the 1980s I was in the Army. For much of my service, I was, by my own choice, cut off from the outside world. By that I principally mean I did not watch TV. I read a lot, including the newspaper, but hardly ever watched TV.

The upshot is that I never saw V: not the original two-part miniseries, not the subsequent three-part miniseries, and certainly not the nineteen-episode TV series.

In preparation for the premier of the new TV series, the Science Fiction Channel ran all of the previous V episodes. In past years, that would not have meant much (it comes down to, with commercial breaks, almost thirty hours) since I was not likely to have five VCRs with six-hour tapes, or four VCRs with eight-hour tapes, or three VCRs with ten-hour tapes. This is, however, the epoch of Tivo, so I recorded all 29.5 hours.

I spent much of the Thanksgiving weekend watching these (I have the last three hours remaining at this time).

I can comment that Independence Day probably drew from the opening of V, as the motherships arrived over Earth cities, but for the most part much of the series filled me with laughter.

Do not get me wrong. The special effects were cutting edge for their time, I am fairly certain. But so much was predicated on the "Resistance", and . . . well there were times I found myself wondering if the Iraqi branch of Al Qaida watched the series in formulating how they would fight our troops in Iraq. It was humorous as heck to watch the resistance doing "spray and pray" and "V" troops dropping left and right.

Oh, the "V" weapons were cute. They were roughly the equivalent of bolt-action rifles (given their rate of fire), with miraculously lousy target penetration. They could shoot a closed door to pieces, for example, but could not penetrate that door to kill someone on the other side. Thirty caliber slugs would tear through the door and continue on down the hallway to kill the fleeing resistance fighters. But worse, it meant that the heroes (once they got their Teflon-coated bullets) always had the edge in raw firepower.

Oh, yes. The resistance also had the "endless magazines". You know, the ones that only run out of bullets when the plot needs them too.

And of course the "V" troopers suffered from "Stormtrooper Syndrome", i.e., they could not hit the heroes to save their lives.

I can hope that the new series is better, but I had decided not to watch it until I finished watching the original.