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Monday, February 28, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 20-26 February 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was not a good week for SVC. His aunt Janelle passed away on Sunday morning, and he was out of the office for most of the next three days. Even so, progress was made.

The weather this week was mild, freezing overnight but reaching the 50s or 60s most afternoon. The spam storm remained AWOL, with only about 60-80 per day.

We had no new uploads to e23 this week, although there are bright lights on the horizon. GURPS KLINGONS will be on e23 next week and PD20M Klingons will be on DriveThru next week. Work is almost finished on the Romulan and Orion card packs, and work has begun on the Hydran and Andro packs. Leanna has also uploaded Captain's Log #1 which should be released next week.

Steve Cole worked on the Kindle book (basically firing the company that botched the conversion) and reviewed the Battlestations project (to see if he could salvage it). He got a Star Fleet alert sent out, made the final fixes to GURPS FEDS (now scheduled for May), wrote a blog, checked a dozen boxes of FC map panels, did the Origins events plan (with a lot of staff help), did everything from Communique #63 except the scenario, and did the Revision 6 version of War & Peace.

Steven Petrick worked on C3A and Captain's Log #43 and set things up for Ken Kazinski to run the Council of Five Nations event.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory after it was wiped out by massive wholesaler orders.

Joel did website updates, shut down a "wiki" site that was posting copies of our products, finished the March issue of Hailing Frequencies, and helped Mike.

Jean is proofreading ePacks, Communique, Hailing Frequencies, and trying to make more time for PD20M Romulans.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

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, Jonathan Thompson and Jean Sexton for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, 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. Bob Pomroy 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, Thomas Mathews, 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); Daniel Kast (Klingon Armada); 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.

Many years ago, we began awarding medals, ribbons, and other "decorations" to staffers and others who contributed to each product, and some other projects. These awards not only recognize those who contributed to the various projects, but encouraged others to begin making their contributions to future projects. We have created the Wall of Honor at http://starfleetgames.com/ArtGallery/Wall%20of%20Honor.shtml. This is a tribute to over 30 years of volunteer work. We hope you visit it to say thanks to all the volunteers and their efforts.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

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 continue to expand our line of non-game products on Cafe Press http://www.cafepress.com/starfleetuniv. Our page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf) exists to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers. We also are releasing YouTube videos that show what you'll find in "the box" and our latest releases. You can catch our videos on our channel here:

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.

Friday, February 25, 2011

From the Star Fleet Academy Exam, Part 2

The whole thing is rather long, so I'll pull some questions each week until you have the whole thing. Keep it under wraps or they'll change it!

Instructions: Read each question carefully. Answer all questions. Time limit: 4 hours. Begin immediately. If you finish early, turn your paper in at the table at the front of the room.

Public Speaking: 2500 drug-crazed (aren't they always?) Klingons are about to storm the classroom. Calm them and make them return to Klinshai. You may use any ancient language except Klingon, Latin, or Greek.

Biology: Create inorganic life. Estimate the differences in subsequent Romulan culture if this form of life had developed 500 million years earlier, with special attention to its probable effect of the Human English Parliamentary system of the 20th century. Prove your thesis.

Music: Write a piano concerto. Perform it with an Andorian organ and Vulcan lyre. You will find a piano under your seat.

Physics: Explain the nature of anti-matter. Evaluate the impact of mathematics on science.

More next week!

From Captain's Log #12, c1993.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is now up and running, and we’re finding a lot of new faces who haven’t been around the BBS or Forum. We have pictures up of ADB, Inc. staff, links to many of our videos, snippets of information, and interaction with our fans. Jean Sexton is the main voice you will hear on our page on Facebook. If she doesn’t know an answer, she’ll ask one of the Steves and ferry the answer back.

All that is left is for you to “like” the page for Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.
if you haven’t done so already. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf.

Many people on our page on Facebook have not been on our BBS, so perhaps our new outpost on Facebook will become the place for those who want to keep up with current events without the intense atmosphere (and flood of information) found on the BBS. If you are very busy on a given day, checking our page on Facebook would tell you quickly if something important has been announced. The page also has its own art galleries, plus a place where you can post a review of our products. It also has discussions where you can link up with fellow gamers.

We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ghosts of the Long Gray Line

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

I happened to catch an old film titled "Flirtation Walk". Most of the filming was done at West Point, but the film begins in Hawaii.

A matter of some interest to me is that the film begins with brief moments of a large wargame, involving an attack on the islands, involving at least one carrier (of course, the concept of a surprise attack by a large number of carriers on Pearl Harbor was not being tested). Shots of those old battlewagons thundering away were included.

That should tell you that the film was shot prior to World War II, it was released in 1934.

As I watched scenes of the corps of cadets going through their paces in their gray coats and white pants, I was haunted by the knowledge that some these men were the senior Lieutenants and Captains in places like the Philippines on 7 December just seven years hence. Men who would in that near future participate in the Bataan death march, the debacle at Kasserine.

A marching column of ghosts. The Long Gray Line.

You could not pick out any individual and know his fate. They were all of a kind. Young, tough, confident.

In their world Hitler had become Chancellor of Germany, but the Wehrmacht was still a distant thunder. Japan was on the march, the involvement of American forces, much less ground troops, was not seen as either imminent, or even likely. Mussolini's fascists were already carving out a new "Roman Empire" in Africa. Eisenhower was a mere Lt. Colonel and already considering retirement. Prohibition was over, but the depression was still a very real fact of life despite Roosevelt's alphabet soup of new deal agencies.

You cannot help but wonder what choices they might have made had they known the future that was fast approaching them.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Playing Star Fleet Universe Games Long Distance

Playing games by Email or by post 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.

When playing Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander using the Play-by-Email (PBEM) system 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 FC or SFB 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. Moderating a game is also an excellent way to learn more about the game's rules.

Prime Directive games can be played by posting on the Forum. The GM of the game gets players, approves their characters, then sets up situations for the characters to face. It takes a bit longer because the players are not sitting around the table, but it also allows people who are spread out across the world to play.

Players of all our games are expanding the frontiers of playing long distance. Some are trying chat, some are adding webcams to that, many are trying out VOIP so as to get close to a face-to-face experience.

While there are some disadvantages to playing long distance (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 long distance, drop in on the Forum (http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2) or BBS (http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/).

Monday, February 21, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 13-19 February 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was a productive week at ADB, Inc. The weather this week was much nicer, with rare cold nights but 60F in the afternoons. The spam storm came to a sudden halt on Wednesday when the server installed new filters, dropping the average amount of spam from 800 per day to less than 100.

New uploads to e23 included the Revision-6b version of the FC Reference Rulebook, which had only a few typographical changes.

Steve Cole finished the SIT update for ISC War, although there will be at least two more rounds of updates before that product goes to press in June. He also did a Star Fleet Alert, designed an entirely new game about how to run a game publishing company, did most of Communique #63 including the Gorn BDL, worked on Transports Attacked (doing the Seltorian LTT), wrote a blog for Jean, and did six pages of Captain's Log #43.

Steven Petrick worked on C3A (which was pushed back to March because the wholesalers didn't want to bother buying just one new product in February) and on Captain's Log #43.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and cleaned out the warehouse.

Joel did website updates, did a new logo for the GURPS Character Assistant, and helped Jean get some other things done.

Jean was ecstatic to hear that Steve Jackson had approved her GURPS Federation book, which is now scheduled for May release (and will be on e23 somewhat earlier than that). Jean phoned in updates to our GGIC catalog page and we discussed whether to do a Pathfinder version of PD (most Pathfinder players only play fantasy versions).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lights! Cameras! The SFU Hits YouTube!

Ever wished you could take a peek inside a shrink-wrapped box or look behind the pretty covers of a book? Then these videos are for you.

The brainchild of Mike Sparks, our YouTube videos are of three types. The first is about a specific product line and you can hear Steve Cole (yes, he is the talking hands in our videos) discuss the products that are in one of the different games. The second kind is what ADB, Inc. has released in a particular month. These are a great way to catch up quickly on the new items.

It is the third kind that let's you see what is in the box. A boxed game such as Federation & Empire is taken out of the box item by item so that you can see what's in there. From rulebook, to charts, to maps, to counters, each item is shown and discussed. It's a lot of information to pack into a short clip, but SVC and Mike manage it.

Check out our channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames and be sure to bring the popcorn!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Plots and Missing Scenes

This is Steven Petrick posting.

One of the annoying things in TV shows is ill thought out plots. Things that should have a scene or two of exposition to clean up, and thus make the presentation more internally consistent.

An example of this is "V".

The members of "the resistance" are continually hampered by not knowing why the "visitors" are here, or what their technology is capable of doing.

So, where is the scene where the FBI agent turns to Ryan and says "Why are you visitors here?"

And after finding out about what has been done to her and her son, why has she not asked Ryan "Why" at that point?

If Ryan does not know, we should at least have a scene where the question is asked and he says he does not know why Anna brought her ships to Earth. And yet, clearly Ryan did know "something" since he tried to protect his pregnant wife from Anna.

To me, this is a major disconnect. Early in the show when it was revealed that Ryan is "one of them", why was he not immediately sat down and debriefed?

And why is Ryan not kept sitting someplace while he explains what V technology can, and as important cannot, do?

You could have had a scene where Ryan is asked and replies: "I do not know. I am just a low level {soldier/agent/whatever). I was sent here to gather specific information about this planet, including but not limited to its flora and fauna. I have no idea why. But here is a copy of the information I was sent to gather. Maybe you can find someone who can figure out if there is a pattern. I know there are other agents on the planet, but they will be in the same position as myself. Ordered to gather specific information, or infiltrate specific organizations, but not knowing why. Only Anna and her top commanders and staff will know the reasons." At that point we would be primed with the knowledge that Ryan is as much in the dark about why Anna has come to Earth as the defenders, and anyone Ryan subsequently reveals as a fellow agent can be expected to also not know the master plan.

The resistance, of course, then gains a mission to try to capture one of Anna's staff or commanders in order to find out the answers, and they can legitimately be working in the dark. Finding bits and pieces (kidnapping of homeless people, experimenting on the "liveaboards", etc.) and slowly piecing things together.

But never asking Ryan these questions? This ruins much of the show for me because I cannot grasp not exploiting an intelligence resource, which is what Ryan is until he is found out not to be such.

Friday, February 18, 2011

From the Star Fleet Academy Final Exam

The whole thing is rather long, so I'll pull some questions each week until you have the whole thing. Keep it under wraps or they'll change it!

Instructions: Read each question carefully. Answer all questions. Time limit: 4 hours. Begin immediately. If you finish early, turn your paper in at the table at the front of the room.

History: Describe the history of the Hydran Monarchy from its origins to the present day, concentrating especially, but not exclusively, on its social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical impact on the Lyran Democratic Republic, Gorn Confederation, ISC, and the trade of tbinium. Be brief, concise, and specific.

Medicine: You have been provided with a razor blade, a piece of gauze, and a bottle of Saurian Brandy. Remove your appendix. Do not suture until your work has been inspected. NOTE: If your species does not have a veriform appendix, remove the least valuable organ of your body. Check with the instructor before performing this operation to insure it is a viable test.

Political Science: There is a red communicator on the desk beside you.Start the General War. Report at length on its socio-political effects, if any.

Epistemology: Take a position for or against truth. Prove the validity of your stand.

More next week!

From Captain's Log #12, c1993.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

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 war gamers 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, works much better, and there are a lot of ways to do it. For best results, you should do all of them.

If you play Federation Commander, then 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 if somebody nearby has signed in. http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/

Primarily for Federation Commander players, the Forum has a topic where local stores and groups post announcements and invitations. Players can let other players know they'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.) http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2

You can to go to a local store and ask them to let you post a notice looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of your favorite game(s) and "grow your own" opponents. If a person already plays the game you are demoing, he'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. There is also Craigslist, but you should use the normal caution you would for meeting a stranger.

The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to http://starfleetgames.com/starlist.shtml. 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 a 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.

You can find opponents for all of our games on our BBS. Go to http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/ and you'll see "Seeking Opponents" on the main menu. 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.

Friends of our page on Facebook can use the Discussions tab and find topics for the various games. Not a friend? Become one here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf

With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see http://www.starfleetgames.com/links.shtml for suggestions).

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 cars who got Emails from other gamers in their home towns who were seeking opponents.

You can go always go to SFB Online (http://www.sfbonline.com/index.jsp) and play Star Fleet Battles and 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.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. Why do auctioneers have to include all of those extra syllables (jabber) when asking for bids? I have conducted auctions and "I have $20. Does anyone bid $25?" works just fine and is a whole lot less annoying.

2. I see on a lot of cop shows the idea of witness protection. I'm told a lot of these people are criminals who rated on their buddies, while some are innocent people who just happened to witness a crime committed by some extremely violent group of people. I always wonder just how much good it does. Sure, if you relocated me to Portland, the Amarillo mob won't be able to kill me, but there are a lot of people (relatives and friends) who could be kidnapped or killed to bully me into not testifying. Is the government going to relocate everyone I know? Is my cousin going to be happy giving up his farm because I saw a murder committed? But the subject does raise another question, one we might all want to ponder. If you were put into witness protection for some reason, you have to get a job, and it cannot be in your old field. What job would you want? (Steven Petrick wants to be a firearms instructor. Leanna wants to run a wildlife sanctuary, but that might make her too easy to find. I want a job doing military intel analysis on a military base.)

3. Speaker of the House Boehner says that the last two years of spending were "beyond control." Wrong, dude! The four years before THAT were "beyond control." The last two were "beyond absurd."

4. Why do we have 3d movies? They're just annoyingly stupid. I am not going to wear those idiotic glasses. They can make a non-3d DVD and I'll rent it, or better yet wait until it shows up on the Tivo.

5. I saw a television program a while ago about how Australia became populated by the aborigines. It was very interesting. Here's what we know. To populate a new land, you need a minimum of ten married couples. (That sounds so much better than "breeding pairs" now doesn't it?) The sea level was lower back then, but you still could not see Australia from the last island in the chain that started back in Malaya. (You could see another island from all of those, so whenever you got bored or ran out of something, you could paddle your family to the next island.) So how did they know it was there? The paleontologists and anthropologists were full of "the adventurous spirit of man" theories about somebody just padded out there and dumb lucked into it. I personally doubt that. While I agree that the idea of "one boatload of fishermen got lost in a storm and all aborigines are descended from them" doesn't work. However, I still think that one boatload got lost in a storm. (Maybe, over a decade or two, more than one boat did, and most of them died.) One boatload arrived on the Australian beach exhausted and thirsty. They found water (then food) and survived. They rested, thanked their luck they weren't dead, and maybe they looked around a little. Sooner or later, however, they decided that they missed the friends and relatives (spouses, mostly) back on the last island. So, they loaded up five or six days of food and water (they knew how far it was, now that they found it) and set out to get home. Once they got home, they told the story of the new land. Everybody now knew where it was and how far it was. Somebody thought it might be fun to go check it out (or maybe they ran out of tapioca roots on the island they were on). They got two or three boats, loaded up lots of water, some food, and some fishing gear, plus maybe a tent and some cooking tools. Arriving back in Australia (it's pretty big and hard to miss) they set up housekeeping and explored. Maybe they stayed. Maybe now and then, somebody went home to visit, and others from home arrived to join the new colony or set up another colony. Anyway, I just don't think anybody launched a Columbus-style voyage of exploration.

I often do "ten thoughts" but since some of the above are pretty long, I'll just stop here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Free Stuff for Star Fleet Universe Players!

Steve Cole writes:

We have a lot of free stuff on our website. Let me point you to some of the most popular things. Doing this in alphabetical order we start with Federation & Empire. They have play aids and countersheet graphics here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#FNE

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). First Missions will give you enough of the game that you can try it out. Go here to download it: http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/first-missions.shtml

But that's just a start. Commander's Circle has lots of free resources such as various formats of the Master Ship Chart, Ship Cards, the current and back issues of Communique, scenarios, and playtest rules. If you register, then you can find other Federation Commander players.

Prime Directive players can find a treasure trove of play aids, including medals, insignia, maps, the timeline, and lots of other goodies to spice up a game. These can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#PD

Star Fleet Battle Force
has new cards and play aids as well. These are located here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#SFBF

Star Fleet Battles
players have the Cadet Training Manual and Cadet Training Handbook. These were done as a way to get players into the complicated Star Fleet Battles game system. You can download them for free here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/CadetTraining.shtml Also available on the same webpage are lots of SSDs for the game.

We have wallpaper for your computer so you can show your SFU pride. Those are here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/wallpapers.shtml

Don't forget Hailing Frequencies, our free monthly newsletter. Covering all our games, you can read back issues here: http://www.federationcommander.com/Newsletter/past.html Don't forget to sign up to get the link delivered straight to your email box each month. You can "opt in" here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/newsletter.shtml

There are many historical documents which are available for download. Maps, deck plans, assorted graphics, and much, much more can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/historicaldownloads.shtml

Browse our master index to find all sorts of interesting information: http://www.starfleetgames.com/masterindex.shtml

As you can see, you could spend days browsing. We hope you enjoy what you find.

Monday, February 14, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 6-12 February 2011

Steve Cole reports:

The weather this week was Snowmaggeddon again. The storm hit Tuesday, shut down the office (and city) for Wednesday and we had short days on Thursday and Friday. Saturday was better and our first "full day of work" in two weeks.

The spam storm continued with 300-800 per day.

New uploads to e23 included Federation Commander's RRB6a.

Steve Cole finished RRB6b and KB6 and gave them to Leanna to print, did the first draft of the Origins Bingo Game, finished Communique #62, updated the Capitalization Guide, discussed FB games with M, wrote a memo about Battlestations, dealt with a webstore using our photos without permission, wrote a reserve blog for Jean, sent Jean stuff for our page on Facebook, did a bunch of updates to the ISC SIT, and asked the Kindle converter where the list of changes was.

Steven Petrick worked on C3A and the Battle Groups for CL#43.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date and kept things going on e23.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and checked in a huge shipment of miniatures.

Joel did website updates and Hailing Frequencies.

Jean worked on Communique, Hailing Frequencies, and other projects. Jean was thrilled to hear that Steve Jackson had GURPS FEDERATION in his hands and was taking it home for the weekend. Jean reports that our page on Facebook has reached 669 friends.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. You may well have recommended against that decision that turned into a disaster, but it's still your fault because your recommendation was unconvincing.

2. The USA has the highest corporate tax rates in the world, which has got to be bad for getting businesses to grow, invest, and hire people.

3. Petrick's office chair can be adjusted to so many positions that it's almost guaranteed that he picked the wrong one, resulting in back pain, sleepless nights, and suboptimal performance.

4. Facts are for people who cannot create their own truth.--Bucky Kat

5. I really need to buy one of those phone things that allows me to send myself a note. I keep having great random thoughts (or thinking of something I was supposed to do and forgot, or thinking of a cool new something for one of the game systems) when driving or at home and forgetting them before I get back to the office. I could do the same thing with a notebook and pen (although perhaps not while driving), but I'd have to remember to carry it around (there is a notebook and pen in my car, but writing a note while driving gets exciting). Since my cell phone is always (when I'm at home) in a drawer where I cannot hear it ring, getting an Android/iPhone that will send myself an email may be a less than effective plan if I don't keep it by my recliner. But then, I do have a pad and pen there, which is full of cool notes, but I never remember to bring it to the office.

6. Tunisia has seen the violent overthrow of a long-term oligarchy, and there are riots demanding the same thing in Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, and other places. Petrick and I fear that we could be seeing the "fall of the Warsaw Pact" all over again, as supposedly stable Arab countries fall like dominoes. We both fear that the "democrats" may take over and be quickly followed by the "radical Islamo-fascists" and we could, by year's end, be dealing with multiple "Iran-type Islamist republics". (A lot of post-communist democracies are in fact dictatorships since countries with no history of democracy have no idea how to make it work.) Most Arabs want competent government, less corruption, and more economic growth, but you don't get democracy by declaring it, and with no experience in how it works, they're going to vote in the Islamo-fascists, who will never give up power voluntarily. Now, one point here is that Tunisia had no oil, so there was no well-paid and loyal military and police organization to crush the rioters. Egypt has that, and so does Algeria. Egypt isn't using the military to keep power, while Algeria has used it for 17 years.

7. Jean mentioned the Battle Group article deadline on Facebook, and somebody there asked why he wasn't given more warning since he doesn't read the BBS. Well, it wasn't a deliberate thing; Jean just happened to think it was worth a mention (and had not happened to think of it earlier). It wasn't Steven Petrick or me saying "promote this on FB" (had it been that, we should have done a better job). Battle Group is a hard core development project and those are done on the BBS, and we have plenty of people there submitting them, so we didn't really need to go tell the FB guys in order to fill up the pages of Captain's Log #43. This did remind me of two things, however. One was that we ARE short of term papers, tactical notes, and command notes, and maybe FB would be a good place to go tell people to send those (and anything else we are short of). The other is that Jean has built a network of information distribution and we have yet to fully realize that we have it and should be using it. Two years of begging for term papers on the BBS and it never occurred to anyone to ask the "pool of new blood" on FB to send them? Really? We must be overloaded to have not had that penny drop.

8. I happened to catch a couple of old episodes of TUDORS on my Tivo when they were rerun on a non-premium channel (which eliminates what apparently was a lot of nudity and sex). I think that Henry VIII gets a bum rap all the time (not so much in this show). Yes, he wanted a son, but not because that was cool. He needed a son to prevent a civil war, since nobody else had any direct claim to the throne and his daughters could not inherit the crown as there had never been a queen regnant of England at that point. (A few years later, Henry VIII asked Parliament to change the law and allow Mary and Elizabeth to be considered in the line of succession because his sons had all died. This was part of a political deal with Mary's cousin, the Holy Roman Emperor, who was only too happy to have his cousin on the British throne.)

9. I recently got to see the complete Charlie Chaplin film "The Great Dictator" which was his spoof about Hitler and Nazi German. It was very funny. Liberals praise Chaplain for his "courage" in making this movie. I am not seeing what "courage" is involved here. Chaplain was in the US, not in Germany. Did he really think that a German spy was going to assassinate him?

10. I greatly enjoy with wit and wisdom of Walter E. Williams's editorials. He's one of the few conservative black leaders. His latest column deeply concerned me. Government reports indicate that over 70% of black children are born to unwed mothers, compared to 20% during the 1950s. That shift is entirely caused by welfare sending checks to mothers who just happened to not have a husband. If you reward bad behavior, you get more of it. His point, however, was not that, but that the average black youth in the US who graduates from high school reads only at an 8th-grade level because black youth are "alien and hostile to the education process." That's deeply disturbing and the nation needs to fix it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Michael Sparks writes:

Looking to express your appreciation of the Star Fleet Universe? Need somewhere to send a gift-giver where you know you'll like what you get? Have to replace your mouse pad? Look no further! We have a storefront that sells all sorts of Star Fleet Universe designs on a variety of items. From buttons to mouse pads to t-shirts to hoodies, we've got them all! Klingons, Federation, Romulans, and the bad-boy Orion Pirates, each one has designs.

See www.CafePress.com/starfleetuniv for these items. And take a look at our newest designs featuring art from Xander, one of our hot artists.

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: Support@starfleetgames.com

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dear WebMom on Valentine's Day

WebMom writes:

Over the years I've fielded some questions, heard ideas, and gotten some "interesting" Valentine's Day presents from guys. Many were great, but some were disasters! I thought I'd share some of the successes, some of the failures, and some things I wish I had gotten.

Dear WebMom, I bought this really nifty electric weed-eater just for you!
Ummmm.... so you don't want to do that part of the yard work anymore and are trying to get me to do it? And I am supposed to like having more work added to what I do? Gentlemen, buying your lady a power tool that you want and that she has never expressed an interest in is a Bad Idea.

Dear WebMom, I made you this jewelry box because I noticed yours was getting really full.
Handmade presents are really nice, especially if you took the time to notice what high-end versions have and included some of the same features or noticed what they lacked and included those. I have a handmade wooden rack for my earrings and I love it dearly.

Dear WebMom, I know you are on a diet, but I just bought you this humongous box of chocolates because you like them and it won't bother your diet too much.
(sigh) If your loved one is on a diet, please don't do this. Every piece she eats is just not helping and there are so many of them! Maybe try some of her favorite fruits and a couple of small individually wrapped, high-end chocolates that she probably wouldn't get for herself. She won't feel obligated to eat them all at once and will be happy that you were helping her and still wanted to give her a little something special. Or try getting her a gift certificate to her favorite store so she can buy something that will better fit the slimmer her (and can buy it in the future when she has reached her goal).

Dear WebMom, I bought you these scales for your bathroom.
Unless you like being in the doghouse, this one is a real no-no. It's basically coming across as a cowardly way of telling her that she's fat and you don't like it. Find some other time to discuss how much you love her and want her to be with you for a very long time and to be healthy.

Dear WebMom, I bought you this slinky nightie.

No, that is what you wanted to see ... try a gift certificate to her favorite clothing store, instead. There's no harm in you dropping a hint that you think she looks sexy in a slinky nightie, though (wink).

Dear WebMom, I bought you this really kewl game. (An hour later) Hey WebMom, can I borrow your really kewl game to play with the guys?
Unless you were lucky and married a Gamer Girl, then this is not a good present. Even if you married one, borrowing "her" present to play with the guys (and not inviting her) is really a Bad Idea. Try getting her something for her hobby or a gift certificate to the store that carries her favorite hobby supplies.

Dear WebMom, I bought you this vacuum cleaner.

Unless you have talked it over with your loved one and she agrees that she wants/needs some appliance, this is a Bad Idea. Even if she agrees that it will be her present, it never hurts to do something special for her -- maybe volunteer to do the vacuuming for her one weekend.

Dear WebMom, I thought you might like a "girls' night out" with your BF, so here's some money so you two can go out to dinner, maybe do some shopping, maybe do that pedicure thing you like so much.
Wow! That one would be a hit! Providing the opportunity of a break from a routine is so thoughtful.

Dear WebMom, I bought you these lovely hyacinths.
In theory, that would have been fine as flowers are always appreciated. However, that's when I found out I was allergic to them! (I'd never had them in a room 24/7 before, so I didn't know.) It was a memorable gift and thankfully one that was never repeated. Moral: If you know she's allergic to something, make sure you tell the florist to NOT include it in a bouquet. If you know she loves a particular flower or color, mention that to the florist. Or if you know she likes arranging her own flowers, try to pick what you know she likes.

Finally, Dear WebMom, what should I get for my guy? Men are so hard to buy for!
Well, if your guy showed you this blog, then he undoubtedly wants you to read this part. He'd love something from ADB, Inc. The best thing you can do is set the budget and turn him loose to buy what he wants!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Steve Cole reports:

We have released this month's issue of the Hailing Frequencies newsletter and this month's Communique. Hailing Frequencies has the latest company information and covers all of our games. You'll find news on the latest releases both in print and e23, what's new on Cafe Press, information on the company, and even serialized fiction. Hailing Frequencies also has links to the latest Star Fleet Alerts, which are press releases about new products and when they will be available for order. From Hailing Frequencies, you can link to Federation Commander specific news in the latest Communique, a free PDF newsletter which is full of good things for FC players, including new ships, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules.

You can subscribe to Hailing Frequencies at this link: http://www.starfleetgames.com/newsletter.shtml

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Star Fleet Universe Wallpapers

Joel Shutts writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download wallpaper with Star Fleet Universe art.

Check out what we have on http://www.starfleetgames.com/wallpapers.shtml

Big monitors, small monitors, we have something for nearly everyone. 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1680 x 1050, even 2560 x1600. If you need a different size, we'll see what we can do to fill that desire.

If there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to see turned into wallpaper, please feel free to contact us at graphics@StarFleetGames.com and we'll work your request in.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Valentine's Day Advice

Steve Cole, successfully married for 33 years, makes a few comments about picking the right gift.


The number one rule is to PAY ATTENTION during the period between New Year's Day and Valentine's Day. She'll give you a few hints (consciously or unconsciously). You can always just give up and ask, if you're desperate. While getting the perfect gift without asking is preferable, getting the wrong gift is a Very Bad Thing (tm). You can also fish for hints. Look at the ads in the newspaper for clothing and other gifts. Try pointing out something to her (randomly if you really have no clue) and saying "I think you'd look great wearing that." If she really doesn't want what you point out, she will say "Nah, that's not my style, and I don't go places where women wear that sort of thing." If she's nice (or playing the game) she might note some other items on that page and make various comments, good or bad about them. Listen carefully and she will let you know if there is anything on that page she'd actually like or maybe she'll point you in the right direction.


My father always said: "Never buy a woman a present that involves work; buy her girl stuff; buy her something she'd enjoy." So, a new blender is out of the question. (If the current blender burns out, replacing it is just household maintenance.) Now, if she uses the blender a LOT making herself fruit smoothies, then getting a newer, better, fancier blender might work as a present. Buying a new set of pots and pans is "work stuff" unless she is REALLY into the "joy of cooking" in which case a fancy set of gourmet cookware that she'd never spend the money for herself might work, but that could be one of those things where you take her to the store and say "I was planning to buy these Gordon Ramsay saucepans for you, but frankly, this is too important, and I really want you to have exactly what you want. If you want it, you can have it today. If this isn't it, tell me what is, and it's yours, right now."


The point of a present is to either buy her something she really wants, or (risky!) something that she would buy for herself if she thought she could afford it. Obviously, do not buy five pounds of chocolates for a woman trying to lose weight. If you are buying candy, go for the high-end stuff that she would never, ever buy for herself. And if she is seriously trying to lose weight, buying her new clothes may be a waste of money as they won't fit in a few months.


Buying her fancy underwear and nightgowns is a traditional gift, and usually a mistake. (Contrary to myth, nightgowns aren't for us guys. We don't need them to get fired up. She needs them to feel sexy, but they need to be what makes HER feel sexy.) Get her a gift certificate and tell her to "buy yourself something you'd enjoy wearing." There can be a time for risk-taking. For one birthday, I wanted to get Leanna something intimate, but I knew that fit was always a problem for women. I actually got one she wears all the time out of her closet, put it in a bag, took it to the store, and begged a female clerk to take pity on me and find me a purple one of the same brand, style, and size. Score! (If you don't know her favorite color, you already blew it, so go with a gift certificate.)


In an abstract sense, women would rather get jewelry than flowers or chocolate. It has lasting value (and she can always sell it after dumping you). However, once she has reached a certain age, her jewelry box may well be overflowing, and more jewelry may be nothing more than clutter. This is something to discuss with her long before it's time to buy something. Some women never stop collecting jewelry. Some have completed their collection with just the right stuff and really do not want any more.


A gift is just part of the trifecta. The package includes a present, a nice dinner out, AND flowers. Over time, work up a tradition that improves the odds of success and lowers your workload. You may have a woman who wants to be surprised, but most would rather be happy. (It may well be surprise enough that you remembered at all.) Instead of surprising her with dinner at a place you pick, mention "I need to make Valentine's reservations. Are you in the mood for Alfredo's or Francois's this year?" and let her pick. For all you know, she had a bad experience at Fernando's on her last night out with the girls and absolutely does not want to go back there. In my case, I am lucky to have a very practical woman. I take her to a store that has a "build a custom bouquet desk", give her money from my personal account (if it comes from the family account, it feels like she's paying for her own present), and she takes delight in picking the flowers and personally directing the flower arranger to make just what she wants, and to design the bouquet in a way that exactly fits the place she's going to put it.

Monday, February 07, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 30 January - 5 February 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was supposed to be the week we started serious work on Star Fleet Admiral and Star Fleet Marines, but it didn't turn out that way. We lost about half of productive design time to the weather. (Snowmaggedon: It was very cold, freezing the pipes and sometimes shutting down internet. We couldn't even get to the office before 11am and had to leave at 5:30pm to get home by dark, due to the roads. While that only cut out five hours from each day, all of that came out of new product design time.) What new product design time was left was used fixing glitches in FC Reference Rulebook 6a. Even late on Saturday afternoon, we were still fixing little typos. Sigh.

The spam storm peaked at 1105 on Monday.

Our first upload to DriveThru RPG (PD20M core rulebook) was declared the pick of the week by them and sold at a blazing rate. We sold the first slider games for the iPhone via the Apple Store (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/federation-slider/id416344275?mt=8). Our page on Facebook reached and exceeded 650 friends.

Steve Cole worked on RRB6a, did a page or two of CL#43, looked at some parts of C3A and CL#43 that Steve Petrick did, exchanged pleasantries with Starship Artemis, finished Communique #62 and sent it to the staff, sent Joel everything he needs for Hailing Frequencies for February 2011, and wrote the art plan for the first six months.

Steven Petrick worked on CL#43 and C3A. He finished the three-engine Andros and was moving on to work on their seeking weapon. Battle Group pairings were issued for CL#43, allowing each player to divide his ships to raid his opponent's convoy while guarding his own.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date, but missed one day due to Snowmaggedon.

Mike was out with the flu most of this week, but when here, dealt with an unusually large wholesaler order.

Joel did website updates (for the Ranger pages) but actually couldn't get here most of the week due to Snowmaggedon.

Jean worked with Joel to get the Ranger pages updated, posted the blogs, and kept our page on Facebook updated.

Sunday, February 06, 2011


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 over 30 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, February 05, 2011


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. I saw MAMMA MIA live on stage in Vegas, being a long-time fan of ABBA. I recently caught the movie version on television, and finally understood why the young girl decided to delay getting married.

2. How come "bipartisan" always means "Republicans doing what Democrats want"? President Obama ignored Republican ideas for two years, and NOW wants Republicans to work with his ideas?

3. Six guys have been locked in a phony space capsule the size of a bus in Moscow for seven months. They'll "land on Mars" next month, then start the eight-month trip home. The point is to study how people deal with isolation and boredom. Frankly, I think that this would be a great weight-loss program, and want to sign up. Lock me in right after Origins, give me internet and 1500 calories a day, and by Origins 2012 I'll be a new man!

4. Economists say the recession is over, but polls show that 80% of Americans think it's not.

5. Pakistan is the second largest recipient of American foreign aid, but about a third of the $1.2 billion in annual aid is not being spent because no one honest enough to handle the aid can be found in Pakistan.

6. We all know that claims that Obamacare will reduce the deficit are bogus, right? They're based on the formula of "ten years of (overestimated) revenue vs. six years of (under-estimated) expenditures" which obviously means a net "profit" on the deal. It gets worse, since the White House data that the CBO was required to use counts ten years of revenue for the equally expensive "long term care" insurance, but no expenditures at all. Then there is the "you can keep your current insurance" scam, which is only possible if your employer (or insurance company) decides to continue the present policy (which many have said they will not do). Then there are 40 million new patients for Medicaid, which cannot serve its current customers because few doctors will accept the low Medicaid payments. Not to mention that claims that this will keep your insurance rates low are nonsense; insurance rates are being raised sharply to pay for things the bill requires the companies to cover. And by the way, the bill requires all 50 states to adopt the most liberal rules for Medicaid (the ones currently used by the states that are bankrupt because of those generous rules).

7. Something that amazes me is how little terrorism there actually is in the US (or Western Europe). I don't think that's so much a matter of security (which has probably stopped half or more of the attacks actually planned) but the low number of attacks and terrorists. There are a LOT of easy targets (shopping malls for example). If airport security is too tough, just set off the bomb in the waiting line for the metal detectors (you'll kill dozens of people and shut down air travel). How about a car bomb in front of a church or synagogue as the crowd is leaving? There just aren't that many terrorists, or these targets would be getting hit every week. That's not to say we don't need security, but it's just amazing how few terrorists there are.

8. January 24th, 1935, was the birthday of canned beer.

9. When I was growing up, my family owned more books than the library of my grade school, or junior high, or high school, and I had read a lot of them. One of my teachers in high school remarked that a famous scholar had read 1,000 books in her lifetime, and I brought her records proving that I had read 1,000 books by my 17th birthday. What can I say? I like to read. While I stopped keeping records before I got married, I am reasonably certain that my personal record is well beyond 2,000 books at this point. They say you can tell a lot about someone by the books they have read twice. I cannot remember all of the books I have read twice, but they include: On War by Clausewitz, Red Storm Rising (and four other Tom Clancy books), First Clash (about the Canadian Army in World War 3) and (before any of them) Space Cat Visits Venus. (I just made myself a note to see if any of the Space Cat series is available for Leanna's Kindle. Shucks, no luck.)

10. When I first heard about the shooting of that congresswoman in Arizona, I admit that my first thought was "Tea Party guy went bonkers" and of course, the media leapt to that speculation as well (reporting it as fact). Then it turned out that he never listened to talk radio or Fox News, and was in fact a liberal not a conservative, but the liberal media continued to blame Sarah Palin, talk radio, and Fox News, even when that was proven to be a lie. Apparently, ethics among journalists died along with the six people who were killed.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Write Right

See the fire from the D7
And the ship that is slith'ring
His ships sideslip away
Like the D7
I yearn to turn and "DirDam" my foes
I am waiting for the day ...

Not a sound from the players
Have they all gone to hotels?
I am proofing alone
In the lamplight
The proofread pages fall to my feet
And the Steves begin to moan.

All alone in the lamplight
I can smile at the old days
Words had capitals then
I remember the time when all the jargon was used
Let the memory live again

Every story
Seemed to have a semicolon missing ...
The Steves do mutter,
"Increase that gutter!
Our prose she is now dissing..."

I must wait for retirement
I must think of perfection
And I mustn't give in
When that day comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And perfection will begin

Burnt-out hulls of smoking ships
The ozone smell of photons
The Fed ship dies, another battle's over
Another day to proof on

Write right
It's so easy to write right
About your last ship fight
And not to use jargon
If you write right
I'll understand what happiness is

A new game has begun

Parody copyright (c) 2011 Jean Sexton and ADB, Inc.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


Many people do not know that you can play either STAR FLEET BATTLES or 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. It since 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 $6 a month per game system, you have access to most of the ships in the STAR FLEET BATTLES/FEDERATION COMMANDER game systems 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.

We continue to develop FEDERATION & EMPIRE for an on-line environment and have playtesters working out the kinks. We'll let you know as soon as it is ready to release.

So come to www.SFBonline.com right away. Players can even fly the FC Federation CA, FC Klingon D7, and the SFB Federation and Klingon tournament cruisers 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, February 02, 2011

Will Egypt Crumble?

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Mubarak has apparently decided on a two pronged effort to gain control of the situation in Egypt. He has used available transportation means to bring in civilian supporters, these are provided with means of "civil violence" (rocks, clubs, blades) and have moved against the demonstrators in key areas. He has also apparently ordered the military to enforce the curfew by force. There are reports that heavy machinegun fire has been heard in Cairo.

It remains to be seen if the mobs will back down, or simply get angry and become more violent. It also remains to be seen if the military will continue to support Mubarak after this, or if the previous week of more limited interaction will have led more than a few of the troops into being suborned. Out and out civil war is still a possibility. It is questionable as to whether or not Mubarak's departure in the short term is in our own national interests. If Mubarak leaves . . . well the Shah left, and look how well that has worked for us in Iran.

The most likely outcome of Mubarak's departure will be a radicalized Egypt, and likely a new government looking for something to focus the people on. If the Muslim brotherhood gets control, it may just mean a massive increase of weapons smuggling into Gaza and indirect attacks on Israel.

Worse than that, however, will be the further destabilization of other regimes in the middle east, and the inevitable impact this will have on the cost of energy. This, ultimately, is the biggest fear. If Mubarak goes, the shift in relations in the middle east and encouragement that will provide to other radical Muslim groups to take power will have tremendous long term consequences.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


By Stephen V. Cole

The state of the Union is not much better than I reported last year. (My report then listed it as "dire.") We still have all of the ticking time bombs of a year ago (national debt, state debt, balance of trade, illegal immigration, credit card debt, mortgage crisis, energy imports, unemployment, failed public education, and the rise of the dependency class to power). Not much has been done to fix these things -- actually, nothing was done -- and while I have hopes that the new Congress will do so, I also have doubts that the Republicans can return to their ancient "cut spending" policies. We can but hope that they will.


President Obama's speech on the subject shows he has not changed. He still thinks that the solution to everything is a government program (this concept is a proven failure), and he wants to subsidize green projects (by political supporters) that the free market knows are not ready. High-speed rail is not needed or wanted and is a trillion-dollar boondoggle; Amtrack has proven that much. Freezing spending at the inflated levels he created isn't going to accomplish anything (and neither is the Republican plan). I don't think spending will be cut until the inevitable collapse, since every program has a constituency, a lobbyist, and a crying family ready to be on television complaining about the cuts. President Obama says that the recession is over, but 80% of Americans do not agree. (Most expect it to get worse when one or more of those ticking time bombs explodes.) By the way, you'll get patted down on those trains the first time somebody blows one up or the first time someone realizes that someone could blow one up. President Obama mentioned cutting spending in passing, then spent an hour listing new programs to spend money on. There was, frankly, no plan to fix the economy or create actual jobs, but then, President Obama claims things would be worse if he hadn't wasted two trillion dollars on programs that proved to be failures.


So, here's the speech I would give, were I President (not king, not dictator, just president; my speech as dictator would be somewhat different).


My fellow Americans: I want to begin by thanking my predecessor for realizing his failures and resigning, turning over the office to me. The situation is bad, but it will get better because this government will, with the help of a bipartisan Congress, begin to take real, practical steps to get the economy moving and create jobs.

First, all discretionary spending is to be reduced immediately to 2008 levels for the year 2011, and to 2007 levels for the year 2012. When we balance the budget, and will shall do that by 2014, money will go into retiring the debt, not new spending. I don't want to see any more pork projects or earmarks in the next budget. I have no problem with shutting the government down. Don't push me.

All Federal employee pay, including merit raises, cost of living raises, and step increases also known as longevity increases, are frozen. Anyone promoted to a new job will remain at their present salary until such time as my administration can review Federal employee pay rates and adjust them to match the marketplace. The original idea was for Federal pay to be less than market pay, compensated by benefits, retirement, and defacto guarantees of continued employment. Federal pay is now 15-30% higher than market pay. Any employee hired in the last two years at a salary of more than $100,000 per year will, if Congress acts as I will ask, see a 10% pay cut. All Czars are fired, their staffs are also fired, and their offices are closed.

I have assigned a panel to review all government spending and find waste, not to mention programs that are doing more harm than good. This will mean that entire cabinet-level departments will be shut down; more on that in a moment. Over time, I want to end almost all government subsidies other than limited research and pilot programs. It's great to fund enough research into wind energy or electric cars or biofuels to make some serious scientific and engineering progress. It's just dumb to pay tens of billions of dollars to push industries into doing things that currently make no economic sense. When the technology arrives, the free market will spend money without any encouragement.

Second, I want Congress to reduce business tax rates to match those of Europe, and to repeal the Sarbanes-Oxley bill that drove ten thousand high-paying jobs from New York to London. Further, any and all unspent stimulus money is frozen. It won't be spent, but will be returned to the treasury, or rather, not borrowed. There will be no more bailouts, and the states need to take care of their own business. They need not expect a bailout while I hold a veto pen. What I will do, however, is everything I can to eliminate unfunded mandates on the states, and to ask Congress to eliminate any of them that I cannot. States should manage their own business and their own budgets.

We need businesses to hire people and invest in new products, facilities, and equipment. All new regulations imposed in the last two years are canceled effective immediately, and I will assign a panel of experts to look into what pre-existing regulations can be removed without harm. My goal is to eliminate a third of government regulations over the next two years.

Third, the disastrously expensive healthcare bill passed last year should be repealed before it can destroy the economy. In its place, I am asking Congress to move swiftly to fix the healthcare system by effective tort reform and allowing inter-state sales of medical insurance. In the meantime, I have ordered a freeze and ban on all spending or hiring relating to that bill. The provision requiring mountains of 1099 forms will require congressional action to remove, but for now, my government will not process such paperwork or punish anyone who fails to file it.

Fourth, the war in Iraq is winding down nicely, and the combat mission for our troops has ended. I intend to discuss with the government of Iraq if they would consider inviting us to maintain a mechanized division in their country indefinitely, as we did in Germany for over 60 years, in order to stabilize the region and protect them from their dangerous neighbor to the east. If so, we'll move to make that happen in a manner based on mutual national respect. If not, we'll arrange to get all of our troops out of their country by the end of this year.

The war in Afghanistan is another matter. The government there needs to reform their economy to eliminate corruption. If they are willing to do that, then I will see that war through to a conclusion. If not, we're wasting our time trying to fix a country that won't help itself. I ask President Karzai to meet with me as soon as practical in order for us to review things that need to happen in one direction or the other.

Speaking of Iran and North Korea, I have no plans to attack those nations, but will also take steps to prevent them from building or selling nuclear weapons. My administration will support any move by the Iranian or North Korean peoples to free themselves.

While on the subject of national security, I will undertake a review of the Homeland Security department and the TSA with the view toward eliminating some of the silly and ineffective measures they have imposed. Guantanamo will remain open and military tribunals will be convened within 90 days to begin trials for the inmates thereof.

Fifth, illegal immigration is a major problem in this country, and I am going to put a stop to it, although that won't happen in one day, or one year. The expansion of the Border Patrol will continue until they have the resources to control the border. I have ordered that the Defense Department deploy a brigade of regular military troops on the border, in whatever sector is currently the most critical, within 30 days, and a brigade of National Guard troops within 90 days. These will occupy an outpost line, rotating troops as needed, to identify and apprehend smugglers and illegal immigrants. Anyone they apprehend will be turned over to the Border Patrol for processing. These units will be rotated every six months (and individual soldiers every week), since living in a foxhole is not easy. We will move forward with fences, cameras, sensors, and other security measures as quickly as possible.

Anyone apprehended trying to enter the US illegally will be subject to 60 days of incarceration. It has been proven that this discourages those who enter the country illegally from trying to do so again. Military holding facilities will be made available to hold these people.

Illegal aliens found in this country will be held until their hearings, not released to disappear. Implementing that policy will take some time, as there simply are not enough holding facilities available right now, but I want these facilities created as soon as possible, no later than the end of this year. If Congress won't act, I'll use military resources.

And that is not all. Effective immediately, the US government will no longer treat anyone born on American soil to two parents who were not citizens of the United States as a citizen. There are no more "anchor babies" in this country, not until the Supreme Court says I am wrong. The people who wrote the 14th Amendment made it clear that this was not what they intended. The Justice Department will prepare a case for the Supreme Court which will resolve this issue. Until such ruling, this will apply to anyone in such a situation, regardless of when they were born. Yes, that means this policy is to be enforced retroactively, since the error in creating this policy was made long ago.

Sixth, we have a looming crisis in two areas, the trade deficit and in energy consumption, and I have one solution for both. This solution will also help with dealing with the deficits and the debt. The solution is: "drill, baby, drill." My administration will make available all areas which are currently blocked from drilling by regulations. I will ask Congress to remove roadblocks to other potential oil supplies. All drilling will be done responsibly and will full civil and criminal penalties for environmental damage, but we can, in two or three years, start seriously reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

Seventh, the domestic economy needs some attention. I will ask Congress to move forward with a new program to reduce the number of mortgage foreclosures, and to limit the amount of unsecured consumer credit that anyone can have. The recently passed regulations on the financial industry should be extended by Congress to include Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and to prevent those organizations from making campaign contributions. I will also look into merging the new regulations and watchdogs with those previously in place to eliminate waste and duplication. The unemployment situation is a tragedy, but infinite extensions of unemployment benefits are doing more harm than good. Rather than ending such benefits, I will ask Congress to pass legislation that any extended benefits are to be on a steadily reduced scale, say five percent for each month of the extension beyond two years. Sooner or later, unemployed people will accept the jobs that are available, and move to better jobs when the economy rebounds.

Eighth and finally, I want to see education in this country improved. Quite frankly, the teacher's unions haven't helped and public schools have largely failed. The point of school is to teach students the skills that get them jobs, not nonsense like self-esteem. Congress should support, and all states should encourage, charter schools and vouchers for qualified private and parochial schools. The Federal government has done more harm than good in the case of education, and I hereby ask Congress to de-fund and shut down the Department of Education (as well as the equally useless Department of Housing and Urban Development). Anything worth saving from either of those departments can be sent back to the Department of Health and Human Services.

There are other problems to solve (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid), but we will deal with them in the future. Let's start by fixing the hard things and we'll discuss fixing the impossible things next year. These are tough fixes, but we cannot continue spending more money than we have. We do not "owe the national debt to ourselves" and the American people do not have bottomless pocketbooks to fund whatever program comes along, no matter how worthy. We will have a balanced budget, and then pay off the debt, and then history will record what freedom, democracy, and free enterprise can really accomplish!