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Saturday, June 30, 2012

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 Andy Vancil 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. Tenneshington Decals does made-to-order decals for our Starline miniatures and is run by two of our fans: Will McCammon and Tony Thomas.

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, Tony Thomas, James Goodrich, 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.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Galactic Phone Booth, pt. 3

From Captain's Log #12:

How do you get 30 WYNs into a telephone booth?
Tell them its safer than an auxiliary cruiser.

How do you get 30 ISC beings into a telephone booth?
Tell them someone wants to negotiate peace.

How do you get 30 LDR troops into a telephone booth?
Put this sign on top: VOTING BOOTH.

How do you get 30 Seltorians into a telephone booth?
Tell them there is a Tholian hiding inside.

How do you get 30 FRAX into a telephone booth?
Don't build the booth. Just imagine one.

(c) 1993 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Question of Courage, or Incompetence?

This is Steven Petrick posting.

We know a great deal about Gettysburg, but it seems there are always new little tidbits of information popping up that provide "food for thought." Several books have turned up here in the office of late. One of these is an accounting of every brigade of infantry, on both sides, that fought at Gettysburg. Another is a history of one particular North Carolina regiment that took part in the first day's fighting, and then was committed as part of Pickett's charge.

What is interesting is that the regimental history refers to the concept that Anderson's division was supposed to support the charge with four of its five brigades. Two of these were the brigades of Colonel Mahone and Colonel Posey.

If you know anything about Gettysburg, you know that on the second day of the fighting when Lee launched his grand assault on the Union Left, the assault eventually broke down because two consecutive brigades failed to attack.

One of these Brigades was Posey's, which had endeavored to run out of ammunition in an exchange of fire with union Skirmishers while waiting to participate in the assault. Lacking ammunition, Posey declined to attack.

To Posey's left was the brigade of Mahone, who refused to step off because Posey had not.

Many believe the assault would have carried the day, won a resounding victory for the South, had this attack not faltered. The failure of these brigades to move, and the wounding of the general officer commanding the next division in line, may have cost the South the victory.

The thing is, if these brigades were supposed to support Pickett's charge, why did they not? The brigades are reported as having stepped off, but they did so at a time when Pickett had already been repulsed, and so were recalled before they went very far.

There is a feeling (to me) of some terrible error in timing. And I cannot but wonder if these two men had something to do with.

Mahone seems to have always been "erratic." He performed brilliantly with great courage on some days, but on other days seems to have been the most useless brigade commander in the Army of Northern Virginia (albeit, he was never removed from command, perhaps for political reasons.

The upshot to all this?

The Brigades of Posey and Mahone have a unique distinction. They are the two two brigades in the Army of Northern Virginia that participated in the battle of Gettysburg and suffered losses of less than 10%. A casualty rate compared to that of other brigades that, to my mind, suggests that these gentlemen may not have been as active as was needed.

But was it courage, or competence that was lacking?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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. 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.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Steve Cole muses: Over the last couple of weeks, Joel (our graphics intern for the last 30 months) has graduated from college and gone looking for a full-time job. (He recently found one, but will continue to work for us a few hours a week because he likes us so much.) We all pitched in to help him get his resume in shape, track down leads, and dress for interviews. Here is some advice we gave him in job hunting.

1. Hunt for a job with a shotgun, not a rifle. In this economy, any job that uses your skills, even if not the industry you wanted, is a good thing. (Joel was at a loss as to where to hunt for a job in graphics, web design, or drafting. We pulled out the phone book and pointed to engineering companies, advertising companies, printing companies, web design companies, graphic design companies, construction companies, and more. He eventually got a job as the one graphics person working for a big organization.) Call everybody and ask if they'll accept a resume. Call back a week later to politely ask if they had any questions (which gives them a chance to tell you if they have any interest at all). Be very nice to the person at the front desk whom you hand the resume to, as that person just might say something nice about you to the boss. (If you're rude to them, they absolutely will mention it to the boss, assuming they don't just toss your resume in the trash and give the boss the resumes by people who knew how to behave. Can you blame the receptionist for not wanting to see the boss hire someone who is rude, arrogant, sloppy, or smelly?)

2. Use your network to find job leads, and start two years before you graduate building a network. (We got Joel interviews at some printing companies we knew that employed people of his skill, but none had full-time work. I also reached out to engineers I know, but none of them were hiring. I took Joel along on every pre-press conference with printing companies just so he could collect names, faces, and business cards and have people he could ask for leads. Joel actually got a lead on the job he took from someone at his church who heard of an unadvertised opening at a trade association.)

3. If you start looking for a job the day after you graduate from college, you're looking at a very thin job market because your classmates who started passing out resumes a month before graduation already snatched up the best jobs. (Joel, who waited too long, found many great jobs that were already filled. When I graduated and the Army said "the war is over, go home" I was suddenly on the civilian job market months behind my classmates. I took a job at a public utility, something other engineer graduates considered insufficiently glorious.) I hate to tell you this, but your classmate buddies who worked on school projects with you are now competing with you for a limited number of good jobs.

4. Build your resume before you graduate. Getting part-time work in your field means you have a resume of actual work you actually did for actual companies, something your competition might not have. (Joel was in good shape there with actually published retail product packaging.) Even if you cannot get a job in your field, you can establish proof that you're willing to work hard, have good work habits, and that you can keep a job if you have one. Nothing looks worse than a series of short-term jobs that you got fired from for bad work habits.

5. While in school, collect as many related skills as you can. (Joel has degrees as a graphic designer, draftsman, and web designer. When I was in engineering school, I qualified for potential work as a surveyor and map maker, plus I took ROTC.)

6. If you cannot find a job in your field, don't whine about it. Take any job you can get that makes a paycheck and keep looking for a job in your own field. If you cannot get a full-time job in your field, get a part-time job in your own field to keep building up that resume.

7. Companies might tolerate as employees people who show up in a T-shirt and jeans with a two-week growth of facial hair, but they're far less likely to HIRE such a person off the street. The fact that you went to the effort to clean up and look like you were on your way to church actually does help.

8. If you get called for an interview, do your research. Thanks to Google, you can walk into a company knowing a lot about their products, goals, policies, and people. It impresses the boss if you do that. It's a big black mark if you walk into the company with no clue what the company does. And be on time. Nobody wants to hire an employee who cannot show up on time.

9. I have read that resumes are the key to a job, and I have read that they don't matter at all. I think they matter and I think you need to have grown-up friends who run businesses read them and tell you what looks good to an employer and what raises a red flag.

10. I guess it goes without saying that there are some things you do not want to take with you into a job hunt or a job interview. A criminal record has to be first on that list. Drug habits, restraining orders from old girlfriends, and lawsuits you filed against former employers over trivial stuff would also be on the list of things not to take along. I am too old to think that way, but you might want to take a look at a Google search of yourself. If some ex-girlfriend is ranting about you, maybe you want to make peace with her and get her to take that down? Better yet, treat everyone you are around with respect and don't give any (sane) person a reason to rant about what a jerk you are on their blogs.

Monday, June 25, 2012

This Week at ADB, Inc., 17-23 June 2012

Steve Cole reports:

This was another week of steady progress on many projects, but we seem (as a company) to have failed to focus on actually getting some product finished. The weather this week was hot. The spam storm mostly remained at something over 200 per day.

Steve Cole worked on the Captain's Log #45 fiction and the ACTA Journal and its scout rules, updated the text catalog and update list, finished the Star Fleet Marines FLAP list, wrote two more blogs for the file, and did page 37 of Secret Project E.

Steven Petrick's car was totaled by another driver (who was, perhaps, not paying attention) sending him into a deep soul-searching depression. Other than that, he worked on the Advanced Missions revision and update, helped SVC with the ACTASF scout rules, updated the Federation Commander ship card list, reviewed some art submissions, and answered rules questions. He spent a whole day doing QC with Mike on Mongoose minis, and learned to tell a CS saucer from a CA, BC, or CC saucer. He also learned how to tell which baby chickens are roosters.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,247 friends), proofread the ACTA Journal and some of the SSDs for R2, and did some marketing.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


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!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about the curious origins of common words.

1. Desultory, meaning the lack of a definite plan, or perhaps a series of random actions with no purpose or pattern, comes from desultor, the Latin term for "one who leaps." Roman cavalry were taught to use two horses in a chase, jumping from the tired horse to the fresh one without losing time. For exhibitions, the best Roman cavalrymen could do this across four horses and some even did it between two chariots.

2. Deuce, which means a playing card marked "two" or perhaps slang for "the devil" comes from a Low German term meaning "two" as that was the lowest roll of the dice. (In those days, the earliest dice games were simply who could roll the highest number, and someone who rolled the lowest number -- two, with a pair of dice -- used the term to indicate some evil spirit had brought them back luck.

3. Devil, a name for Satan (or perhaps for one of several minions in a generic sense) comes from the old diabalos, which means "to throw across." (That same word produces diabolical and El Diablo.) Satan (the original Hebrew name) was the adversary of man, and when the bible was translated into Greek the scholars chose diabolos (in the sense of "the accuser") to reflect the meaning.

4. Diadem, another word for a royal crown, comes from the old Persian symbol of royalty, a white band trimmed with blue tied around the head. The Greeks called it a dia demo, meaning "to bind over." They encountered this after Alexander conquered Persia and started wearing Persian clothes in order to be better accepted by his new subjects. The diadem was copied by the Romans, and (as centuries went by) was encrusted with jewels, then made from gold, and finally became the fully ornate crowns seen in museums.

5. Diaper, a washable cloth used to cloth a baby and contain the (ahem) exhaust, began as a pure white robe worn by priests in the 900s. (The Byzantine Greek word means pure white.) By 1400, this cloth had reached England, where it was used as a tablecloth and made of linen. Over time, cotton replaced linen and women (noting the softness and absorbency) cut up old tablecloths for their babies. Eventually, cloth was cut and sold new just for this purpose.

6. Dicker, to bargain for a better price, comes from the old Roman word decuria, meaning ten. The Romans demanded that the German tribes pay tribute in animal pelts, which were bundled into lots of ten. The word (over the centuries) became decura then decher then dycher and finally dicker by the time it got to England. It still meant a bundle of ten (of anything) since larger quantities of anything were in tens to make counting easier. English colonists brought the word to America, where they traded no end of things to the Indians for dickers (bundles of ten hides). The bargaining revolved around how many of something the colonists had to give for each bundle. By 1700, dicker has lost its connection to ten.

7. Diploma, a parchment signifying graduation from college, comes from the old Greek term diplos, or double. Official documents, after being signed and sealed, were folded in half (to protect the ink and wax seals). The Roman government issued no end of diplomas for any number of things (appointments to office, commissions in the Army, and other official documents). The term diplomat then arose as meaning the guy who showed up with a folded document, said document having been issued by the government saying why he had been sent here. From there it is a short step to diplomatic, diplomacy, and so forth.

8. Dirge, a mournful song for the dead, comes from the Latin word diridge, which means "guide" but just happens to be the first word of a Bible verse commonly recited at funerals.

9. Disheveled, which means unkempt or untidy, comes from the old English word (and Latin word) for bald. A woman whose hair was a mess was described as "bald" for some reason no one remembers.

10. Dismal, meaning gloomy or dejected, has two origins. (Possibly, both are true and whatever groups originated each of the terms did so independently and the result is just a coincidence.) The better one is that it comes from French (and Latin) dies malis, meaning evil days. The other is that it refers to the French/Latin disme, meaning the 10% of the harvest one had to give the local lord.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Galactic Phone Booth, pt. 2

From Captain's Log #12:

How do you get 30 Tholians into a telephone booth?
Put a web around it and a Romulan out the outside.

How do you get 30 Orions into a telephone booth?
Tell them there's a profit in it.

How do you get 30 Hydrans into a telephone booth?
Tell them its a new fighter with six Gatlings.

How do you get 30 Andros into a telephone booth?
That's called an ASP, not a phone booth, silly.

How do you get 30 Lyrans into a telephone booth?
Tell them there are 30 Kzintis in it.

(c) 1993 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

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/).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

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!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sometimes the Berserker Wins

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

For want of a better idea, one of the tales of my misspent youth. Do not copy this, or allow your children too.

Being of a bent to "jyne the infantry," I engaged in play which involved firing BB guns at my friends (while they would also fire at me). We wore "protection" (eye goggles and field jackets over bluejeans and boots, but needless to say that left hands . . . and throats . . . exposed. One of these little training exercises pitted two of us against the other two (actually, most of them were two-on-two affairs, but sometimes it was three-on-one, two-on-one, or three-on-two).

In this particular case, my buddy and I ran into the opposition in the woods. While we were trying to move up, my buddy was hit. The position of this hit meant he would play "wounded." Now he was between me and the enemy, in exposed ground. I was now outnumbered two-to-one, and my buddy was at the enemy's mercy (and one of the enemy had a notorious habit of not being merciful in our little group).

I had to rescue my buddy, so I burst from cover, laying down as thick a barrage of BBs as I could. Reaching my buddy, I grabbed him and dragged him back towards the log I had been using as cover, stopping every few seconds to lay down another barrage of BBs in the general direction of the enemy (if you can imagine that with a single shot BB gun that had to be cocked for each shot).

I made it back to the log, and began hauling my buddy over, and they got him. I heard the BB thwack into the center of his back. All my effort to save him gone for naught.

The reaction set in, and before "the enemy" could fathom what was happening I was back over the log, charging them, again laying down fire as fast as I could. Neither of them "survived" my berserk attack.

It was Hollywood, it was stupid (not just because we were firing BBs at each other). Something that would never happen in the real world. Except . . .

I have been reading a book about Omaha Beach, and a couple times in it scenes of that nature are described. American soldiers who were either trying to save a fellow soldier who was killed and going, essentially berserk and doing mass damage to the defending Germans. Or individuals who were themselves hit by enemy fire, and so enraged by the wound that they assaulted the German position and destroyed it.

I have no doubt that a great many men on that beach and in the fields just beyond it did similar things, but that only a few survived doing so. The numbers against such moves are always stacked against you. But sometimes the berserker will get through where a sane man would be killed.

Monday, June 18, 2012

This Week at ADB, Inc., 10-16 June 2012

Steve Cole reports:

This was a fairly quiet week. The weather this week was hot, but we got a lot of rain. The spam storm mostly remained at something over 200 per day.

New on e23 this week was the Campaign Designer's Handbook.

Steve Cole worked on scouts for ACTASF, started work on the July Communique, updated the retail store list, re-did the old THIS IS YOUR SHIP poster, and started a deck plans project. He also took Saturday off, something pretty rare.

Steven Petrick worked on the revision to Advanced Missions.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,244 friends), proofread R2, and did some marketing.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

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 post to see who is out there. 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.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. Recently, Joel walked into my office with a .270-caliber rifle cartridge he had found near his apartment. (Some hunter unloading his truck had dropped it, probably.) I took it to the police station and gave it to the desk clerk. She said people do that every week with ammo they found laying somewhere and the police agree that the best solution is to bring it to them. I have no idea what they do with it. (Destroying it would be safest as some ammo is old and unstable and one might assume an evil person could sabotage ammo.) Live ammunition doesn't need to lay around in a desk drawer with other junk. Do NOT try to take the bullet out of the case with a pocket knife! Just take the whole thing to the police. It's almost certainly not evidence of a crime, but is just something somebody carelessly dropped. I learned this as a young boy. A relative died, and older relatives cleaned out his house. While they found no firearms, they found dozens of rounds of ammunition of many different calibers. No one had any idea where it came from or why he had it, but my father (who had been a soldier from the age of 18) said that in the Army there was always an "alibi box" where one turned in any such things found laying about without having to give any explanation of why you had them. [I saw such things during my own service starting in 1971.] Since we were not on a military base (my father had been in the reserves for many years by that point) he reasoned that taking this trove to the police would be the best thing, and I happened to be with him when he did. They didn't ask him (or me when I took in Joel's bullet) who I was or where it came from. The clerk just dropped it into a box on a back counter and went back to work.

2. During 26 and 27 April 2012, Amarillo played host to George W. Bush, who was here for a bicycle rally with some wounded warriors. Amarillo has had a number of presidential visits over the years (including serving presidents, men who later won the office, and ex-presidents), including: Teddy Roosevelt in 1905, FDR in 1938, Eisenhower in 1953, Ford in 1976, Carter in 1984, George HW Bush in 1970 and again in 2006, Johnson in 1950 and 1959, Kennedy in 1960, Nixon in 1968, and Reagan an astonishing six times (twice in 1968, then in 1974, 1976, 1978, and 1980). We were also visited once by Vice President Spiro Agnew, who shook my hand.

3. When I was in the State Guard, one job I had for a time was to obtain and pass out "packaged snacks" to soldiers being put on guard posts. The theory was that a soldier with a snack in his pocket had something to look forward to, something totally under his own control, and that improved morale. What I found was that candy bars melt, snack crackers and cookies get broken and crumble, and that the best snack was a brownie in a plastic bag. No matter how hot it got, and even if the soldier ended up rolling around on the ground with the brownie in his pocket, the brownie was still going to be a brownie no matter what happened to it.

4. Any time you're somewhere and have a chance to pick up one of those pens printed with advertising (a pen placed there by someone who wanted you to pick it up) then take it and give it to a waitress in a restaurant. They're always having customers walk out with their pens and need a constant supply. The business that paid to have their advertising printed on the pen wants the pen to circulate and be seen by a lot of people.

5. Leanna and I don't cook at home much (just Sunday, although we microwave stuff and make sandwiches during the week). We usually do a grocery list on Friday night and over lunch on Saturday we discuss what we'd like to cook for Sunday dinner and have in the fridge for the rest of the week. Then she does the shopping on the way home, sometimes with me tagging along. (For the grocery list, I created an inventory form organized by which drawer or shelf the cans are in, plus the fridge. We keep a standard stock of so many cans of this or boxes of that and all I have to do is count what's there and enter how many more she needs to buy.) We're not "foodies" by any means and cook one of a dozen meal plans (e.g., turkey, roast beef, pork chops, navy beans and ham, chicken breasts, beef stew, non-toxic chili, burgers, tenderized steaks, non-toxic meatloaf, etc.) that we have cooked many times before. We probably try something entirely new once a year, with mixed results.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Galactic Phone Booth, pt. 1

From Captain's Log #12:

How do you get 30 Feds into a telephone booth?
Tell them there's a new life form to talk to.

How do you get 30 Klingons into a telephone booth?

Tell them it's Earth.

How do you get 30 Romulans into a telephone booth?
Install a cloak on it.

How do you get 30 Kzintis into a telephone booth?
Tell them there's something to eat in it.

How do you get 30 Gorns into a telephone booth?
You don't. You don't even try.

(c) 1993 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

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.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Coordination Breaks Down

This is Steven Petrick Posting:

I was instructed to update the Module R2 SSD book to the new standard as the number of the old Module R2 SSD books on hand has declined to a serious state. I spent some time doing so, and then sent the draft pages out to be checked. The volunteers who do the checking (whose work is much appreciated) often complain that the suspense to get reports in is often very short, putting a lot of pressure on them to get things looked at. So I decided that since "I" was not under any particular suspense, I would allow a little more than a month for the checking to be done. Reports have come in, been processed and sent back out.

The problem is that SVC thought the project was done, so he scheduled it to be released this week on e23.

Somehow SVC and I never talked to each other about the specific status of the project. I sent him reports on the number of SSDs in the book I had updated, and he assumed that this meant that the volunteers had already reviewed them and sent in reports which I had already fixed. I was unaware that he was counting the reports I sent as "this SSD is completed" rather than "initial upgrades done, waiting for staff to check the upgrades and see if anything was missed."

So the new Module R2 SSD book is not going to be ready until the first week in July (when "I" scheduled it) rather than the first week in June (when SVC scheduled it).

Coordination broke down. This despite the fact that the entire office has a face to face meeting every Tuesday. Somehow, neither SVC or I ever actually got across to the other the respective "completion dates" we had each assigned to the project.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Exploring Excellent Ebooks

We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products as PDFs by way of the e23 and DriveThru RPG websites. So far on e23, we have released a lot of stuff for Federation Commander, including the Revision Six Reference Rulebook, the 72 ships from Federation Commander Briefing #2 (divided into six packs of 12 ships and a separate rules pack), and more than a dozen Ship Card Packs. Our ebook PDFs are in color and high resolution. PDFs of most books are searchable (older Captain’s Logs are not).

The way e23 works, once you buy a product, you can download it again for no cost if you lose it or if we upload a revised version of that edition. Thus, the people who bought Reference Rulebook Revision 5 were able to obtain Reference Rulebook Revision 6 for free (and to download it again when we discovered we had accidentally left out rule 4S).

We must note that these products are copyrighted and are not to be uploaded or passed around to your friends. Doing so is piracy, a criminal act, and may result in us deciding not to offer any more PDF products. We have already uploaded many Starmada, Star Fleet Battles, Federation & Empire, and GURPS Prime Directive products We have created a new page that allows easy access to our PDFS for sale on e23. From here you can see what we currently have posted and have links to those products.

Our Prime Directive PD20 Modern books are sold as ebooks exclusively through DriveThru RPG.

So check them out! Many people like the fact they can search our rulebooks for a keyword and find everything that pertains to that issue. Others like the fact they can carry around multiple books on one device. Some Ship Cards are available exclusively through e23. Whatever your reason for using them, we hope that you enjoy them and rate them.

Monday, June 11, 2012

This Week at ADB, Inc., 3-9 June 2012

Steve Cole reports:

This should have been a week of intense work on Captain's Log #45, but too many other things had yet to be done and had to be gotten out of the way. The weather this week was wet, with clouds and even rain every day. The spam storm mostly remained at something over 200 per day.

New on e23 this week was Star Fleet Times #21-#25 and Captain's Log #23.

Steve Cole worked on the ACTASF Gorn-Kzinti mini-rulebook, the ACTASF reference cards, Communique #78, Hailing Frequencies, and the technology-sloshing article for Captain's Log #45. He had a long phone conversation with Secret Project S (perhaps our next joint venture) that got to the point of exchanging non-disclosure agreements.

Steven Petrick worked on reports for the R2 update and the update for Advanced Missions. He also ran the weekly meeting and took over tracking everyone's to-do list.

Both Steves worked on (and announced) this year's Platinum Hat tournament and spent a little time reading new military history books they got for their birthdays.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date and reported that sales are strong and cash is good.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, inspected miniatures, and managed customer service.

Joel (who now works only a few hours here and there) did website updates, chased pirates, uploaded Communique #78, laid out the Traveller PD Core Rulebook cover, and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,231 friends); proofread Traveller PD, Communique, and Hailing Frequencies; and did some marketing.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

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.

Saturday, June 09, 2012


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, 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 Federation Commander players, including new ships, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules.

You can subscribe to Hailing Frequencies at this link:

Friday, June 08, 2012

Jindarian Terminology

While working on Traveller Prime Directive, Steve Cole found some untranslated tapes -- that or he had a vision ...

As you know each asteroid ship is captained by a Jindavo. A Jindavo's wife is known as a Jindingbat. His son and heir is referred to as Jimbob-a-re-bob. Should a Jindavo have a mistress and the affair become public she is called a Jindbimbo. Except for the heir and spare, a Jindavo's children are called Jindbratties. The Jindavo's personal research assistant is called a Jindjeanie. His "creature serving as a dog-style pet" is called a Jindingo.

And now you know -- unless indeed it were a vision ... in which case we are still in uncharted waters.

Thursday, June 07, 2012


Steve Cole muses: I watch these business makeover TV shows (Restaurant Impossible, Hotel Impossible, Tabitha Takes Over, Restaurant Stakeout) and see business owners who say "I have been losing money every month for five years. I have refinanced my home, maxed out my credit cards, sold my car, and borrowed from relatives to keep this business going." My response is "Why didn't you do something five years ago to stop losing money?" I would not keep borrowing money to keep a failing business open. I'd fix it or dump it. Here are some things you could do.

1. Watch business makeover shows instead of American Idol. You might learn something applicable to your business.

2. Read a business book about the area where your business is suffering the most. Read all of Dave Ramsey's books, especially EntreLeadership.

3. Take a college course in business, or accounting, or marketing, or all three. (Hey, how about doing that before you go into business in the first place?)

4. See if the local university (or someone else) has a business advisory office or something. Here in my small city in Texas we have a group of university professors who pass out business advice and a group of local businessmen who pass out advice. All of that is free for the asking.

5. Instead of surfing the internet, look specifically for business information that helps your business.

6. Start two years ago making friends with people in similar businesses in non-competing areas (say, a restaurant across town, or a supply business in the next town) and ask them for advice.

7. Ask anyone you know who owns a business if he has any advice for you. Ask everyone you know if they know anyone who could give you some advice.

8. Hire college interns for some positions. You get trained and skilled people who are willing to work hard for half of the pay of a graduate (and no expensive benefits). They mostly work part time (when you need them) and firing them is much easier than firing regular employees. They are usually not eligible for unemployment so you do not pay insurance premiums on them.

9. Too many of the fatal problems with businesses are built in from the start. Buying an existing business is tricky, as the business owner thinks it is worth a lot but if it's often not. (Restaurant customers are the least loyal in the world and will leave for no reason at the drop of a spoon.) If it's going to cost you a lot of money for a business (especially one you have never been part of) maybe you'd do better to spend that money starting a new business in a new building with a new team and no baggage.

10. Most importantly, examine yourself as a skilled and qualified leader. If you cannot lead or don't know what you're doing, you don't need to be in business.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012


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.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Glory in the Shadows

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Most of us know that on this date in 1944 the Allies were moving ahead to the invasion of France to take place on the following day. That this was the actual date for the invasion, which would be postponed for 24 hours due to weather.

What is often lost is that in Italy the allies had finally broken the Monte Casino line, broken out of the Anzio beachhead, on this same day, liberated Rome, the first "axis capital" to fall to allied forces. Given the blood that had been shed to move up the "boot" of Italy, this a significant military achievement, to finally put Kesselring's troops on the run.

The capture of Rome is, however, completely overshadowed by "Operation Overlord." The average American will know about the Normandy landings (if only by the term "D-Day"), but most do not even know that Italy was one of the axis partners. (Most do not know that Finland, Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria were also axis allies.)

Glory is fickle. The fall of Rome is lost in the white noise of D-day, which also tends to overshadow the sacrifices by Americans in 1942 that, on this day, saw four Japanese carriers destroyed in the Battle of Midway.

Monday, June 04, 2012

This Week at ADB, Inc., 27 May - 2 June 2012

Steve Cole reports:

This week included the last days of Jean's visit followed by a few days of steady work. The weather this week was warm, sometimes hot. The spam storm mostly remained at something over 200 per day.

Nothing was released on e23 this week, but we should get out something this week.

Steve Cole worked most of the week on page layout for Traveller Prime Directive Core Rulebook. (He needs to start work on Captain's Log #45 but Mongoose is pressuring him to review the ship cards and the Gorn/Kzinti micro rulebook first.) At the end of the week, he did a stack of reserve blogs for Jean's stockpile.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #45 and the reports on the R2 revision and assembled a lot of fiction for possible use in the second paperback anthology.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date. She also used a bunch of the reserve cash to buy a second bookbinder.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, and helped Mike. Joel pushed hard on the job hunt and was hired by the American Quarterhorse Association on Friday. He will continue to work for us a few hours a week.

Jean spent part of the week in Amarillo working hard on Traveller Prime Directive Core Rulebook, got home a day late after the usual misadventures, then managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,219 friends) and did some marketing.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Play Online

Many people do not know that you can play either Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander online in real time against live opponents.

Eight years ago, www.SFBonline.com was created to provide players of Star Fleet Battles with an online 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 online 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 online 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.

Saturday, June 02, 2012


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about the curious origins of common words.

1. Damask, which today refers to any cloth with a vibrant color pattern, comes from Damascus, the city which (in the 11th century) first produced that style for the European market.

2. Debauch, to corrupt or pervert, or to lead into debauchery, comes from the French desbaucher, which means nothing worse than to get someone who is working to stop and engage in a casual conversation.

3. Debut, which now means the first appearance of a new movie or other entertainment, comes from the French de but, which means "from the mark" and was used in games to say "It's your turn."

4. Delirium, which means someone (usually temporarily) in a confused state of mind, comes from the Latin delirio, which means "to stray from the furrow" (referring to how one plows a field for crops). The meaning at the time was wandering in speech from the point of the conversation, or just rambling. Now, it has a more medical meaning, and often happens to perfectly sane people who run a high fever or perhaps don't get enough sleep.

5. Demijohn, a very large wine bottle often with a woven covering and handle, comes from the French Dame Jeanne, which referred to a buxom barmaid. (Legend has it that this originally referred to a specific young lady now lost to history, and that she was so famous that any well-endowed barmaid that travelers encountered came to be called by the same name until it became a generic term.) At some point, one producer of wine used unusually large bottles (the woven handle making them easier to handle) and these reminded everyone of the barmaids.

6. Demon comes from the Greek word "to divide" with the specific meaning of "to divide or determine destines." Thus, a demon was the spiritual being that controlled your fate, and everyone had a demon (in effect, a guardian angel) who looked out for you or (if in a bad mood) sent you to ruin. When Christianity appeared, the priests needed to convince everyone that the old deities and spirits were evil, and demon became a figure of evil. Christianity taught that the demon who controlled your fate was actually and evil being who led you astray.

7. Denizen is the deinsein which meant "within the city" and comes from the Latin de intus which meant simply "inside" or "insider." Now, a denizen of some place is still just that, someone who lives there. For what it's worth, the term for someone not living in the city was the Latin foras or the French forain which have come to us as "foreign."

8. Derrick, a lifting system including a tower built of struts (or another word for crane) comes from Godfrey Derrick, the hangman of Tyburn, who (about 1600) constructed a modified form of the gallows that had been used for centuries. His system was clever enough that engineers who saw it adapted it for the construction industry, or perhaps he borrowed the idea from them (no one is certain).

9. Derring-do, the panache of a brave fellow who conducts no end of valorous acts in spite of danger, is simple a construct by Chaucer of the terms "daring to do" things.

10. Despot, which these days means a tyrannical (and usually evil) warlord or dictator, comes from the Greek despotes, which simply means "boss" with no connotation of evil or even mean spirit.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Gerrold's Laws of Infernal Dynamics

1. Any ship in motion will always be headed in the wrong direction.

2. Any ship at rest will always be in the wrong place.

3. The energy required to change either one of these states will always be more than you can afford to expend, but never so much as to make the task totally impossible.

(c) 1993 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #12. Thanks to Tom Gondolfi.