I use this blog as a soap box to preach (ahem... to talk :-) about subjects that interest me.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My custom tiles for Carcassonne

I have played so far 94 games of Carcassonne, of which 89 where with The River extension, and 86 with the additional extension Inns and Cathedrals.  Additionally, I also played 17 times Carcassonne's Winter Edition, which is almost identical to the standard game.


     

I have a couple of other extensions, but I like best the combination of the basic game plus The River and Inns and Cathedrals.

That said, I started thinking that a couple of tiles where missing, and decided to make them myself.  Note that I always play Carcassone by taking the tiles from a canvas bag (rather than from piles as recommended in the rules).  Therefore, it doesn't really matter to me whether the back of the tiles I make looks identical to that of the original set.  That is, to be playable, my tiles only need to feel like the standard ones.

I used PaintShop Pro to edit scanned images of existing tiles, printed them on matt self-adhesive paper, and stuck them onto the right type of cardboard.

The first tiles I added where two each of the following ones:



Then, I decided to extend Inns and Cathedrals by adding the following two:


And finally, I extended The River by adding a river branch, (which required an additional river end) and a straight section of river:



But there was a problem with The River: I usually play the 10 tiles (now 12) by simply turning them face down on the table.  To be able to keep doing that, I made my own source and both ends.  This allowed me to stick the new river branch and the new river section to the front of the original source and end.  This worked because the additional thickness of the tiles due to the adhesive paper is not enough to make the tiles distinguishable when they are face down.

If you want to reproduce the tiles, download the images in this articles and print them with the scale of 100%.  As they have a resolution of 600dpi, they look as good as the originals!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Everybody spies on everyone

The relationship between the two governments of Australia and Indonesia is currently strained because the Australian Signal Directorate (which corresponds to the American NSA) has been caught spying on the telephone calls of the Indonesian president, his wife, and more than half a dozen senior officials.  I allowed myself to copy from the ABC-Australia web site the following slide, which was part of a presentation disclosed by Edward Snowden.  I'm confident that the ABC will not mind, as it has been shown in other web sites.




The release of the list has caused an uproar in Indonesia, with Australian flags being burned and demonstrations being held before the Australian embassy.  But everybody always spies on everybody else.  President Obama has reassured Bundeskanzlerin Merkel that the NSA will not spy again on her phone, but who believes it?  I certainly don't.

So, now Mr. Yudohoyono, the Indonesian president, to save face with his constituents, demands explanations and reassurances from Mr. Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister.  And to excercise pressure, he has also recalled the Ambassador and suspended a series of bilateral agreements.

As everything happened on the public scene, the Indonesian president had to react, and our Prime Minister has shown to be wet behind the ears by not satisfying his friend's Susilo Bambang's demands.  How silly is that?  Come on, mate.  Tell Susilo that you will not spy on him and his entourage anymore, and make peace, like two good boys!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Authors' Mistakes #26 - CSI Miami #2 (Robert Hornak)

Another mistake in CSI Miami (see my post of three weeks ago for the first mistake in CSI Miami I reported).  This time, it is in episode 4 of season 8, In Plane Sight.



The CSIs ask a murder suspect to pop one of his contact lenses to compare it with the one they found on the crime scene.  The suspect pull the contact lense off his right eye, and it turns out to match the one left behind by the murderer.

Now, I have still to hear of somebody with identical corrections for the two eyes.  It is not possible to swap spectacle lenses by mistake, but contact lenses containers are always clearly mark L and R, precisely because they are different.

And yet, the CSIs ask to "pop a lense" and it turns out to be a match.  You might think that, failing the first attempt, they would have asked to pop the other one, but you would be mistaken.  In fact, they had already tested in the same way another suspect, and also in that case they had only checked one lense.

But it get worse: the episode shows the precise moment in which a contact lense falls off one of the murderer's eye, and it is the left one!

They really got it wrong.

For your reference, here are the links to all past “Authors’ Mistakes” articles:
Lee Child: Die Trying
Colin Forbes: Double Jeopardy
Akiva Goldsman: Lost in Space
Vince Flynn: Extreme Measures
Máire Messenger Davies & Nick Mosdell: Practical Research Methods for Media and Cultural Studies
Michael Crichton & Richard Preston: Micro
Lee Child: The Visitor
Graham Tattersall: Geekspeak
Graham Tattersall: Geekspeak (addendum)
Donna Leon: A Noble Radiance
007 Tomorrow Never Dies
Vince Flynn: American Assassin
Brian Green: The Fabric of the Cosmos
John Stack: Master of Rome
Dean Crawford: Apocalypse
Daniel Silva: The Fallen Angel
Tom Clancy: Locked On
Peter David: After Earth
Douglas Preston: Impact
Brian Christian: The Most Human Human
Donna Leon: Fatal Remedies
Sidney Sheldon: Tell Me Your Dreams
David Baldacci: Zero Day
Sidney Sheldon: The Doomsday Conspiracy
CSI Miami
Christopher L. Bennett: Make Hub, Not War

Friday, November 15, 2013

Authors' Mistakes #25 - Christopher L. Bennett

Christopher L. Bennett wrote many Star Trek books and articles, and I'm sorry to have to criticise a fellow Trekker, but in the novellette Make Hub, Not War, published in the November 2013 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, he got something wrong.


Many will probably find that what I'm going to say is way over the top, but authors who use Italian names or elements of Italian cultures too often get it wrong.

In Make Hub, Not War, Bennett gave the name Andrea to an Italian woman.  The problem is that in Italy Andrea is a name for males.  With so many Italian names and so many web sites that list them, why had Bennett to use Andrea?  He clearly didn't do any research at all.  And Analog's editors didn't notice the mistake either.

By using an Italian mother, Bennett could name one of his characters David LaMacchia and have people sit around a table and eat pasta.  I wonder why so many English-writing authors have this fascination with everything Italian and French.  Anyhow, to be picky (and I certainly am) LaMacchia is not a valid Italian family name.  In Italian, it would have to be written "La Macchia" (which means "the spot") or possibly, although unlikely, "Lamacchia".  Actually, now that I think about it, no capital letters ever appear in the middle of a name in any language I know.

Am I excessive?  Certainly.  But these things annoy me a lot...

For your reference, here are the links to all past “Authors’ Mistakes” articles:
Lee Child: Die Trying
Colin Forbes: Double Jeopardy
Akiva Goldsman: Lost in Space
Vince Flynn: Extreme Measures
Máire Messenger Davies & Nick Mosdell: Practical Research Methods for Media and Cultural Studies
Michael Crichton & Richard Preston: Micro
Lee Child: The Visitor
Graham Tattersall: Geekspeak
Graham Tattersall: Geekspeak (addendum)
Donna Leon: A Noble Radiance
007 Tomorrow Never Dies
Vince Flynn: American Assassin
Brian Green: The Fabric of the Cosmos
John Stack: Master of Rome
Dean Crawford: Apocalypse
Daniel Silva: The Fallen Angel
Tom Clancy: Locked On
Peter David: After Earth
Douglas Preston: Impact
Brian Christian: The Most Human Human
Donna Leon: Fatal Remedies
Sidney Sheldon: Tell Me Your Dreams
David Baldacci: Zero Day
Sidney Sheldon: The Doomsday Conspiracy
CSI Miami