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Friday, March 31, 2017

Star Fleet Trivideo Schedule, pt. 5

9 pm:

CBS1: That Y170s show.

FED2: The Pelican Brief. Two lawyers search for the truth in the wreckage of a Romulan minesweeper as the countdown to war continues. Stars Owen Riley and Paul Scott.

KLG3: The Taming of the Crew. Kommander Konglet orders random executions to improve morale.

ROM4: Remus and Andro, movie starring Nicholias Cage and Richio Glover; two unlikely neighbors share posh apartments on Remus on the eve of an Andromedan attack.

(c) 2003 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, March 30, 2017

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 for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, Jean Sexton 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 online 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 retired 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 and volunteers who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including John Berg, Howard Bampton, and Lucky Coleman (Galactic Conquest campaign); Daniel Kast (Klingon Armada); and John Sickels, Tony Thomas, James Goodrich, Mike West, James Kerr, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive). Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each one of them. Sometimes our volunteers become part of our staff; Jean Sexton started out as a volunteer proofreader.

Added to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month, by email or BBS or Forum or our page on Facebook, 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.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

SSD Trials and Tribulations

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I have been doing this now for more than 20 years. You would think I would be near perfection, but sadly, this is not so. As such, I am always grateful to those who check my work, even if often embarrassed by my errors that they find and report.

One of the problems is reports on things found that arrive late in the process, when I am trying to do other things at the same time. Suddenly, something that is done and complete and I do not have to worry about it, has to be fixed now in the final crunch to get the rest of a given issue of Captain's Log finished. And once this last correction is made, there is no time to send the item out for one last check to make sure some other mistake did not occur.

Thus in this issue of Captain's Log (#52), the heavy armed freighter does not have its movement cost, HET cost, and EM cost data.

When the SSD was done and sent to be checked, that data was on the SSD (in roughly the same position where it appears on the jumbo armed freighter SSD). Then a report came in that the jumbo and heavy armed freighters did not account for their use by the Carnivons (disruptor cannons) and Paravians (Quantum Wave Torpedoes). These SSDs were already jammed with other tables, and trying to add the Paravians and Carnivons involved a lot of moving things around, not just simply adding those tables. (The box of "weapon check mark" boxes, for example, had to be expanded to include check off boxes for these weapons.)

At one point, I "temporarily" deleted the movement data on the heavy armed freighter (because it is already as small as we will make an SSD, so I could not shrink it any further) in order to move other data. I know I had intended to later copy the movement data from the jumbo armed freighter and paste it into the heavy armed freighter, but at the point I deleted the data it was the only way to have space to move everything else around. (Pasting something over it, if what I was pasting did not fully cover it, is more cumbersome, as you then have to "trim" around the edges of what you have pasted in to delete what the thing pasted in did not cover.)

Things were in a rush and hectic, and something distracted me (obviously, probably a phone call or having to go check orders, or Lord knows what) before I finished and by the time I got back to it and finished it, I had forgotten that I meant to paste the movement data back in. And looking at the SSD it did not jump out and hit me that the movement data was missing because I "know" what the movement data is.

Then there are the errors that are so blatant, no one notices them. The Seltorian advanced technology light cruiser should have a movement table of 0.67, same as the non-advanced technology ship. The SS was obviously created by taking an advanced technology heavy cruiser SSD and deleting one of the booms and adjusting the data (crew size, BPV, etc.). Again, I was probably distracted by something. In this case, that is no excuse. The SSD was done months before (literally before Captain's Log #51 was done). But even though it was sent to be reviewed by the various individuals at the same time as the other SSDs, no one noticed that it was a light cruiser with the movement cost of a heavy cruiser. Everybody looked at it, but no one caught the huge mistake.

And so here we are.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sticky Situations in ACTASF Book 2: Playtesting, Webs, and WYNing the game.

Guest blogger Tony L. Thomas writes:

A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Book 2 has taken quite a bit longer than expected. I had anticipated a six-to-eight month turn-around time from the release of ACTASF Deluxe edition to the PDF of Book 2. So much for the best laid plans...

I've learned more about the difficulties of game development in the last year than I ever knew existed. We started out with the Book 1.2 playtest staff and high hopes. But some of the staff members' situations had changed. Some lost play groups, some moved away, some became enamored by other games. So a call went out for new playtest groups. In the eight months since we began playtesting in earnest, 23 different playtest groups have received part (or all) of the new rules, not all at the same time, of course. Several of the groups have never once posted a report or comment and have been removed from the list and others added. I try to keep the current list at about six active groups.

This has caused the biggest delay in Book 2 to date. So far, I have received playtest reports from a whopping three groups (out of 23). More keep promising reports "tomorrow," but those have yet to materialize. And only seven of the 23 groups have even commented on the rules posted. But I do now have at least three groups actively playing the game and making reports, so progress has certainly picked up.
And if you'd like to be considered for play testing Book 3, let me know now. Many of the ships and rules for Book 3 are already typed and playtesting will begin the day Book 2 goes to ADB for printing.

The first thing out the gate was the expanded Orion Pirate fleet list. This was a piece of cake. The only new rule required was Optional Weapon mounts, and Matthew Sprange had done a really good job with the first draft of those. A bit of tweaking here and there, and they were ready for the staff to tear apart. The only staff comment was, "Why don't we reorganize them this way" ... and the new suggestion cut the rules to a single page.

Next up was the expanded Tholian fleet list, with the Neo-Tholians and the Seltorian Triubunal. The ship rosters were easy, but the webs caused us no end of grief. We all knew that they would be difficult, but we had no idea how difficult. We've gone through four complete, major revisions of the rules with several minor 0.1 / 0.2 revisions along the way. And unfortunately, we had to make webs work correctly before we could even think about web snares, web casters, web fists, and web breakers. We are finally there though. The Tholian webs version 4.2 should be the final one, and the other systems have been resolved to work with the webs.

Commando ships (including boarding party combat and ship capture) are in the hands of the staff now and should be in their final forms. Scouts and version 3.0 of the scout rules went out this weekend. After that, everything is in the hands of the playtesters, except the last few scenarios. We have seven or eight in playtest now and I'm looking for the staff to submit another six or so. We'll take the best and put an even dozen in the book. I'm also working on an Orion Pirate-based mini-campaign for inclusion in Book 2. It will be a series of (most likely) six linked scenarios that must be played in order to reach the end. And much like the newest board game trend every decision made in each scenario will continue through the remaining scenarios. A good (and lucky) pirate may reach the final scenario with overwhelming numbers and chalk up an easy victory, whereas an unlucky one may reach the end to find himself hopelessly outnumbered and simply hope to get the ship he's on out in one piece.

As of March 17, 2017,  there were 140+ ship rosters in playtest for Book 2. That's too many and some will be held for Book 3. And on that note Book 3 is scheduled to include Hydrans, Lyrans, and the LDR, along with carriers/fighters for everybody. And there will be additional ships for the empires in Books 1.2 and 2. One of those new empires is the WYN Star Cluster.

Situated at the convergence of the Klingon Empire, the Lyran Star Empire, and the Kzinti Hegemony; they are a small (one single hex on the Federation & Empire map) empire completely surrounded by a dangerous (and sometimes fatal) band of radiation. Their ships are a combination of purchased ships from nearby empires, ships stolen by pirates and then given/sold to the WYN, and a few home-built units based on Klingon, Kzinti, and Lyran technology. The only new rule required for them was an optional weapon rule and that was done for Book 2. So, much like the Tholian and Orion Pirate teaser included in Book 1.2 there will be a WYN teaser in Book 2. We will include three (or possibly four) new ships for the WYN Star Cluster, one auxiliary battlecruiser (converted from a generic freighter), one (or two) ships purchased from their neighbors, and one home-built WYN ship.

Monday, March 27, 2017

This Week at ADB, Inc., 19-25 March 2017

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week we scheduled for Captain's Log #52 mail order shipments and post-production tasks.

The weather this week was mild, but cooler toward the weekend.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was the Captain's Log #52 Supplement. It is also available in print for a nominal charge.


The Starlist Update Project moved forward with one new entries and some updates.

Steve Cole worked on the Captain's Log #52 FLAP (Finish Like  A Pro) List of post-production issues. He sent the required sample pages to Simone, created the large-print edition and the Supplemental File, updated the various charts (F&E SITs, FC Ships & Scenarios), updated the history book, and did the Star Fleet Alert. He also wrote a few blogs and worked on the Shapeways project.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #52 post-production, Captain's Log #53, the Lyran Master Starship Book, quality control assembly and shipping, and the LDR Master Starship Book.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and graphics. She sank a pirate.

Wolf guarded the office, chasing away a motorcycle, two bicycles, and three skateboards.

Jean worked on Captain's Log #52 post-production (Text Catalog and Update List), managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,750 friends), managed our Twitter feed (220 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Supplement and the Star Fleet Alert, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing (PDFs, Captain's Log #52, Shapeways, Starmada Unity).

Sunday, March 26, 2017

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. You will find us on Twitter as ADBInc_Amarillo. 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: http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames.

We tried a lot of things that didn't work (Google Pay per Click, full-color ads in trade journals) and a lot of things that did work (banners on gamer websites, Star Fleet Alerts) and are always looking for new ideas. If you have any, send them to us at Marketing@StarFleetGames.com and we'll think them over.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Join us on Facebook and Twitter

ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is 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've also added a Twitter feed which you can follow at https://twitter.com/ADBInc_Amarillo.
 Be sure to follow us for a quick look at what is going on!

We hope to see you there! For Facebook users, be sure to add us to an interest group to see all of our posts.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Star Fleet Trivideo Schedule, pt. 4

8 pm:

GOR6: Honey, I Enveloped the Kids. Movie; PG.

THL7: Pinwheel of Fortune, Alex Deridex hosts.

ORN8: Orion¹s 11, looting the casinos on Planet Vegas.

LYR11: History of the Civil Wars, Part 23.

ISC13: The Magnificent Seven. A team of mercenaries tries to protect a village that won¹t help itself.

(c) 2003 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Some Insight Into the Upcoming LDR Master Starship Book

This is Steven Petrick posting.

The Lyran Democratic Republic Master Starship Book has been sent to the checkers. We will probably just go ahead and do the graphics for it immediately when we finish the graphics for the Lyran Master Starship Book, since we will have essentially already done the basic ship designs.

The Lyran Democratic Republic Master Starship Book is going to be in many ways the same, but different from the Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Hydran, and Lyran Master Starship Books.

The basic layout will be the same, but because the Lyran Democratic Republic fleet was so small, the "refits" had to be more tightly defined. The Lyran Empire built a lot of frigates, for example, but the Lyran Democratic Republic only built six (including the one it had in service at the time of the revolt), of which four were converted to war destroyers (the other two were destroyed in combat).

One of those four war destroyers was then converted to a war destroyer leader, and two of them were converted to fleet destroyers.

Then the remaining war destroyer, the war destroyer leader, and both fleet destroyers were converted to heavy war destroyers.

Then three of those heavy war destroyers were converted into advanced technology destroyers (the fourth heavy war destroyer was destroyed).

At various points some of the ships had refits installed (and these are given by ship name and year when the individual ship was refitted), but just to make things more difficult, in various stages sometimes when as ship was converted, it was re-named, e.g., the war destroyer leader Commissar became the heavy war destroyer Mediation.

The path followed by the frigate-to-war destroyer-to-heavy war destroyer-to-advanced technology war destroyer is only the longest string, but not by any means the only one. And names do not always change, e.g., probably the most famous Lyran Democratic Republic ship is the Democracy, the Lyran Democratic Republic's lone battlecruiser. But she was the Democracy from the moment the Republic was born and she was only a light cruiser, albeit then named Nightscreamer.

And it is not just the warships.

The Lyran Democratic Republic made a heavy use of "General Units," the upshot being that there is a lot more background buried the General Units ship descriptions. Again because the Lyran Democratic Republic was so small, and had so few ships, their general histories and some generally unique uses are better known. The Lyran Democratic Republic "regular navy" took over the few Manx police corvettes (upgrading most of them to Caracal military police corvette design), but the "police" mission still had to be performed, and that in turn fell to "armed cutters," which as much as the Caracal military police corvettes were arguably too small to really serve in fleet combat (if larger than the Manx police corvettes they were derived from) the armed cutters were really too small for the police role, but were pretty much all that was available.

So there is a lot of stuff in the Lyran Democratic Master Starship Book that will help flesh out not just the history of the Republic, but how it actually operated and planned to "wage war" if it happened against its larger neighbors.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Captain's Log #52 and Hoop Jumping

Steve Cole writes:
Embrace the Chaos!
Sometimes there are just too many moving parts, and Captain's Log #52 will stand as a shining example of that. You might think that it would be easy to just "do nothing but Captain's Log until Captain's Log is finished" but fate and fortune don¹t work that easily.
It's fairly common for any game companyto want to release several products at the same time. This makes it easier for the wholesalers, retailers, mail order gamers, and our warehouse to handle orders and shipments. Rather than shipping a wholesaler 72 copies of Captain's Log #52 this week and 48  copies of Prime Directive PD20M Supplement next week, we ship them both at once. In this case, that also included the new large, jumbo, and heavy freighters.
Shipping Captain's Log #52 and Prime Directive PD20M Supplement at the same time wasn't that big a problem, but it did mean that while we were finishing Captain's Log #52 and getting its cover created, checked, and sent to the printers we also had to create, check, and print the cover for Prime Directive PD20M Supplement. It wasn't that hard to get Prime Directive PD20M Supplement done a week early so that the bookbinding department could have those all done before they had to start binding Captain's Log #52. We did have to make sure that every press release for one included both. Simone did the covers and Leanna got the two products onto the cart; Simone then added the cover art to the cart and provided cover art for advertising.
Adding in the miniatures complicated things by a factor of six. It's not just that we were adding six products to the release; we had to carefully explain an entirely new product concept (known as "tinker toy freighters") to the players. (The press release for the freighters is actually longer than the one for Captain's Log #52 because everybody understands what a Captain's Log is. Nobody had ever seen freighters that snapped together like these. We had to create photographs of the miniatures, and have them sized and captioned for the cart and for advertising.
When Jean runs around the internet posting notices for the new products, she had to have information, text, and graphics to tell about all of the new products ready.
We had Communique and Hailing Frequencies coming out on the 10th of March (the products shipped on the 13th) which was good for publicity and marketing, but bad because the same designers and proofreaders who were busy trying to finish Captain's Log #52 had to stop everything and create the newsletters. All of the news releases (new products, the new edition of Starmada, and the Shapeways store) had to be coordinated in both newsletters and Captain's Log.
Speaking of the Shapeways store, a lot of people had done a lot of work to get the store all ready to open. The game publisher (busy doing page layout for Captain's Log) had to negotiate the deals with Mongoose, sculptors, and Shapeways. Ships had to be uploaded, evaluated, then redesigned to pass the various checks and tests. We did not know what we did not know, and finally reached the moment when we could order pre-release samples of the ships going on that store. Only then did we find out that it would take 20 days, not two days, to get those samples. Since we have never done this, we decided to delay opening the store until we could actually review samples of what we would be selling. This actually became a benefit because in the intense and critical last hours of finishing Captain's Log #52 we could just ignore anything that the Shapeways store needed us to do until the issue was on the trucks to the wholesalers.
Buried in Captain's Log #52 was the announcement of the new Starmada Unity edition.This required special care as we wanted to make sure that people knew about the free upgrade path before they got upset about being "forced to buy" another new edition. This is why there's a special note in the free PDF Captain's Log #52 Supplement. (The supplement has a nominal charge if ordered in paper.)

While any major project has come to be referred to as "the visitation of the great dragon" because it takes up all of our time, this issue was stretched over such a long period (due to articles and art not arriving and other interruptions) that we could not put all other matters aside. The F&E staff needed some help with a problem with command ratings, Jean needed occasional bits of information about this or that species for her Prime Directive books, and Leanna needed some production issues resolved. Another aspect of the long gestation period was that things written two months ago had actually become obsolete by the time the issue was printed, and these became part of the "hoop jumping" work that made this issue fun. The brief notices of the Platinum Hat tournament had to be updated once when the last semi-final game was resolved and again when the finals were played. The new freighter miniatures were once expected to be "released in a month or two" and ended up being shipped simultaneously with this issue.
 Jean did us one favor. Steven P. Petrick and I had come up with a plan to release the printed Lyran Master Starship Book at the same time as Captain's Log #52, Prime Directive PD20M Supplement, and the freighters. Jean put a firm stop to that plan, insisting that the Lyran Master Starship Book go on the PDF stores for a full month before she would allow printed copies to be released.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

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, March 20, 2017

This Week at ADB, Inc., 12-18 March 2017

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week we finished Captain¹s Log #52 and shipped it to the wholesalers.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with four new entries and three updates.

Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #52 final fixes and started the FLAP list, blogs, the Shapeways store, the Captain's Log #52 Supplemental File, caught up on Starlist, and worked on other projects.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #52. Captain's Log #53, the Lyran Master Starship Book, quality control assembly and shipping, and the LDR Master Starship Book.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Wolf guarded the office, chasing away Big Foot.

Jean worked on the GURPS Prime Directive revision, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,735 friends), managed our Twitter feed (220 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the final fixes of Captain's Log #52, did research on Shapeways, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

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, March 18, 2017

How to Find New 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-ins 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 5,000 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 online 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.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Star Fleet Trivideo Schedule, pt. 3

8 pm:

CBS1: Survivor: The Hydran-Lyran Border, host Robert Cole

FED2: The Romulan Strain. A team of scientists on an isolated base study a Romulan biological weapon while time runs out on Earth. Mike Raper stars.

KLG3: 18: ESS Agent Jark Kauer rescues his daughter from a strip club while foiling a coup against the Empire.

ROM4: Who wants to be a Centurion? Xander hosts.

(c) 2003 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Short Notes on What is Going On

This is Steven Petrick posting.

With Captain's Log #52 out of the way, work, as previously noted, has already started on Captain's Log #53. The "Battle Group" topics are already up and running, with considerable input into the Star Fleet Battles topic, but not much in the case of Federation Commander so far. Still, there are two weekends for players to assemble their task forces.

The Lyran Master Starship Book is waiting on some final reports on the "General Units"section, and of course graphics, but may be available sometime next month.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

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

Want to introduce a friend to the Star Fleet  Universe? Try the free download of Introduction to the Star Fleet Universe: Prime Directive and Roleplaying found here:http://www.warehouse23.com/products/introduction-to-the-star-fleet-universe-prime-directive-and-roleplaying

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 downloadable art for your computer and iPhone 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.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Steve Cole¹s thoughts on science.

1. I often refer to myself as 1/2 English, 1/4 Dutch, and 1/4 German, based on the last names of my four grandparents. It's not that simple. First, there are virtually no pure-blood anything people in the world today (my father had a tiny bit of Native American ancestry). Second, when parents get frisky, their systems create the makings of a baby by scrambling and dividing existing cells. So if you assume for a moment that my grandparents were pure-bloods, then my father was 1/2 English and 1/2 German, while my mother was 1/2 Dutch and 1/2 English. When they created me, however, I might have inherited a 50-50 split of ethnic genes from each of them, or the portion from mom (or dad) might have been (for example) anything between 80-20 and 20-80. So I could be 10% German, 30% Dutch, and 60% English, or lots of other combinations. This gets important when considering animals. If you match a purebred wolf with a purebred German Shepherd dog, you get something that is 50% wolf. But match that grown-up hybrid pup with another 100% dog, and the result might be anywhere from 10% wolf to 40% wolf.

2. About two or three percent of elephants are born without tusks, and they will pass on the tuskless gene to their offspring (which might or might not have tusks). In the undisturbed wild, a herd of elephants might have a one without tusks and a few with tusks but carrying the recessive tuskless gene. When you add ivory poachers to the mix, however, things change. (The poachers don't shoot the ones without tusks.) Over the last 40 years, some wild elephant herds have become as much as 20% tuskless. This is not exactly selective breeding, but the same result.

3. I saw a TedTalks video the other day on YouTube. (This series is about out-of-the-box thinking covered by short talks by various experts and professionals.) This one was a lady doctor from UCLA who had been called in by the LA Zoo to consult on the case of the chimp who they feared had a stroke. Vets calling MDs for consultations is nothing new, and MDs like feeling that they did something nice for the planet. She consulted on more and more veterinary cases, then found out that lots of human diseases and conditions apply to lots of animal species, and that every now and then the veterinarians had discovered something about a disease that MDs did not know. MDs usually look down on veterinarians as some kind of lower species, but she started to respect them more and more. Turns out (for example) that veterinarians who work with race horses discovered a cure for postpartum depression when cranky mares started kicking their million-dollar foals to death. The cure works on human mothers. The veterinarians (who have to learn about 50 species in school) say that a veterinarian who can only treat one species is called an MD.

Monday, March 13, 2017

This Week at ADB, Inc., 5-11 March 2017

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of furious work to finish Captain's Log #52. When we walked out of the office Saturday night, we had the complete book on the table with 14 pages marked for minor typo corrections. We also announced plans to open a store on Shapeways to sell starships.

We sent out Hailing Frequencies and Communique #135 on the 10th. We've been on schedule for so long now we don¹t count the months any more.

I'm sure there was weather of some sort this week, but we were too busy to notice..

Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #52, the two newsletters, blogs, and too many other things (such as figuring out the cost data and prices for the new Starline 2425 freighters. He was sick with a virus for two days.

Steven Petrick worked mostly on Captain's Log #52, but did a little on the Lyran Master Starship Book, Captain's Log #53, quality control assembly and shipping, and the LDR Master Starship Book.
Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates, sent out the newsletters, and worked on some graphics.

Wolf guarded the office, chasing away a small herd of elephants

Jean worked on the GURPS Prime Directive revision, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,717 friends), managed our Twitter feed (220 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Captain's Log #52 and Communique #135, worked on Hailing Frequencies, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Exploring Excellent Ebooks

We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products as PDFs by way of the  Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault websites. So far on Warehouse 23, 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 many more ship card packs. For Star Fleet Battles, you can find colorized SSDs, perfect for helping someone find all of the different systems. Our ebook PDFs are in color and high resolution. PDFs of most books are searchable (older Captain’s Logs are not).

The way Warehouse 23 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).

Our Prime Directive books are also sold as ebooks The GURPS Prime Directive line is exclusively on Warehouse 23. Prime Directive PD20 Modern books are available on Warehouse 23 and DriveThru RPG.

We are also listing Federation Commander, Federation & Empire, and Star Fleet Battles products on Wargame Vault.

We are expanding into Kindle books through Amazon. Our first book, For the Glory of the Empire, was released there recently; more will follow. 

Also in these online stores are older titles (older versions of Star Fleet Battles, some old Task Force Games titles, JagdPanther, and Star Fleet Times. You can also find our coloring books and Starmada titles.

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 Prime Directive products. We have created a new page that allows easy access to our PDFS for sale through the various vendors. From here you can see what we currently have posted and have links to those products.

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 as PDFs. Whatever your reason for using them, we hope that you enjoy them and rate them.

Saturday, March 11, 2017


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 ebook, 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 a new ship, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules.

You can subscribe to Hailing Frequencies at this link:

Friday, March 10, 2017

Star Fleet Trivideo Schedule, pt. 2

7 pm:

HYD9: The Great Gatling, classic movie, 4 hours.

AND10: To be announced; 4 hours.

LYR11: The Lyran King. Betrayed by his uncle, a young Lyran prince struggles to regain his father¹s throne.

ISC13: NYPPD BLUE: Two hard-edged policemen try to keep the peace between seven savage gangs that refuse to help themselves; stars Ryan Peck and Chris Fant.

CAR19: Carnivon Idol. Contestants howl at the moon while the losers are savagely torn to pieces by the judges.

(c) 2003 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Star Fleet Universe Downloadable Art

Simone Dale writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download backgrounds and covers with Star Fleet Universe art. We have art that will work on Facebook, iOS7 iPhones, Android devices, and computers. You will also find art you can use as binder spine cards.

Check out what we have on http://www.starfleetgames.com/backgrounds.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 downloadable art, please feel free to contact us at graphics@StarFleetGames.com and we'll work your request in.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Captain's Logs Continue to March

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Captain's Log #52 is nearing launch, and as might be expected I am already working on some things for Captain's Log #53.

I have already discussed a battle group 550/500 idea with SVC, who has already asked Jean if she will approve it. Jean having done so, I hope to have the battle group topics started this weekend (I just need to find the will to actually write the instructions and  have Jean approve them).

The Monster Article has already been selected (finding the stomach to face writing another one is another matter, they get harder and harder to do rather than easier with repetition).

We have an "Update" article already in the can, but I have an idea for one that I would like to do, and am working on it.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017


Steve Cole¹s thoughts on a very personal connection to military history.
Germany surrendered in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe. The US Army knew it had another war to fight (in Japan) and that it needed to transfer a dozen or two of the divisions from Europe to the Pacific theater. They divided the divisions in Europe into three groups: those needed for the occupation (and to keep an eye on the Russians, British, and French), those being sent to the Pacific (mostly infantry divisions, including the 45th Infantry Division), and those not needed for either mission (including my father¹s division, the 14th Armored).
The problem was that every division in Europe was 10% to 30% under-strength because the US Army had run out of manpower. The third group became the replacement pool to bring the second group up to full strength. Thus my father and 2,000 others from the 14th Armored Division were transferred to the 45th Infantry Division and sent to coastal ports to board ships and head for the invasion of Japan. Casualties were expected to be very high, and my father had been transferred from a safe headquarters job to the infantry, which would take most of the casualties.
 Just days before the 45th Infantry Division boarded their ships, the Japanese surrendered. The war being over, the Army came up with a "point system" to decide who got to go home first. You got points for time in combat and special situations (paratroopers, wounded, former prisoners of war). My father was way down the list and would probably have been transferred to a division staying on occupation duty and remain in Europe for another year or two. But because the 45th Infantry Division was literally sitting right next to their troop transports, some Army staff type had a sudden and rare flash of logic and decided that the 45th Division might as well just get on the boats and go home. So, dear old dad got to go home, get out of the Army, and go to college faster than he should have, which made his future bride happy. (The two literally lived across the street from each other.)
 Even better, Dad didn¹t get killed in Japan. (Mother had just become an Army nurse and was also scheduled to go to the invasion of Japan. The Army just tore up her paperwork and told her to go home.)
But for the sudden end of the War with Japan, I very likely would not have been born, and Star Fleet Battles would never have existed.

Monday, March 06, 2017

This Week at ADB, Inc., 26 February - 4 March 2017

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on Captain's Log #52 and a few other projects. The weather this week was mild.

New on Warehouse 23 this week was the entire Prime Directive PD20 Modern line.

Prime Directive PD20 Modern Core Rulebook 
Federation PD20 Modern 
Klingons PD20 Modern 
Romulans PD20 Modern 

Prime Directive PD20 Modern Supplement 


 Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #52, blogs, and other projects.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #52, the Lyran Master Starship Book, quality control assembly and shipping, and the LDR Master Starship Book.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Wolf guarded the office, chasing away a turkey-vulture who thought one of the Steves must be dead by now.

Jean worked on GURPS Prime Directive Revised Edition, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,696 friends), managed our Twitter feed (221 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Captain's Log #52, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

How Not to Get into the Game Business

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 online 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, March 04, 2017

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.

Ten 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 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.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Star Fleet Trivideo Schedule, pt. 1

7 pm:

FED2: As the world HETs. Dave Morse stars.

KLG3: Iron Chef. Kemmerell yells "Bam!" He does it a lot.

ROM4: Gladiator Pilot: Rypeckius, a disgraced pilot, battles his way to a showdown with the Praetor.

KZN5: Dust in the WYN. Historical documentary. Garth Getgen narrates the story of the Usurper¹s well-deserved death. Three hours.

GOR6: Guiding Plasma; soap opera, Jeff Williams stars.

THL7: Extreme Engineering. Moving a planet.

ORN8: Gorn in 60 seconds; starship thieves take a dare.

(c) 2003 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, March 02, 2017

A Fraud Alert of Sorts

This is Steven Petrick posting.

We got an e-mail from someone today who was having a problem with his newly purchased "Master Rulebook." His copy, while the pages were numbered consecutively, was incomplete in one way (missing whole swaths of rules), and larger in others (including the Annexes from at least Basic Set and apparently elements of other modules).

This was not a problem on our end.

The best we can figure is that someone took existing PDFs of various products and strung them together, then changed the page numbers. We draw this conclusion not just from the inclusion of things not in the real Master Rulebook, but because the individual cited in his e-mail that the footers on the front section of his book read "Basic Set."

The individual did not purchase this "Master Rulebook" from us, or any of the various distributors we use, but from someone else on-line.

The upshot is that it is important to know what you are getting and who you are getting it from.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017


Steve Cole ponders various thoughts that came to mind.

1. Something I want is for television murder mysteries to have a web page with a cheat sheet listing every significant character by first and last name with a few words of description (e.g., Tom Smith, bartender opposed to new baseball stadium). That way, when the cops suddenly discover some clue ("The gun was registered to Tom Smith!") I am not baffled by the sudden mention of a character I forgot about after he last appeared 20 minutes ago.

2. When the Hindenburg exploded and crashed, the captain and crew of the airship were still in full control. They adjusted the engines, ballast, and trim of the burning dirigible to give the passengers the best chance of survival and actually flew the airship to a crash landing, after which the burning structure crashed on top of them. Many of the crew died saving lives when they could have escaped.

3. Emperor Nero did not fiddle (or play a lyre) while Rome burned. He actually led the firefighting efforts and was as physically brave and active as anyone. The whole "fiddle while Rome burned" thing was made up later by his political enemies.

4. Japanese scientists have created the non-natural element 113 known as Nihonium. The name is a Latinized version of Nippon, the Japanese name for Japan. Ok, so a new element had been created but it took nine years to make three atoms and they decayed out of existence within seconds. Nice accomplishment but I¹m not seeing the point or value. Actually I think some scientists need a new hobby.

5. Part of growing up is when the grown-ups think you are old enough to stay up for New Year's Eve, but the better part is when grown-up you figures out that you really don't have to stay up and can just go to bed.

6. The Wizard of Oz is the ultimate chick flick: two women trying to kill each other over a pair of shoes.