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Topics - arthwollipot

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Forum Administration and Rules / SGUWhey Theme Problem
« on: May 09, 2016, 08:22:36 PM »
Has someone been messing around with the themes? I suddenly find that my SGUWhey is all right-justified, which has the effect of a gigantic left margin instead of being centred in my screen. Is it just me? I've tried switching themes to the default (which doesn't seem to be affected) and back, with the same effect.


Tech Talk / Relational Database vs. Single Table
« on: January 28, 2016, 01:20:35 AM »
Okay nerds, I need help.

I've studied relational databases once, a very long time ago, and I can't work out whether that's the tool I need for the task I need to do, or whether I can go for just a single table.

My LARP/Battle Gaming group needs a Player Roster. On this Roster I need to store basic contact information. But I also need to store other data. Specifically, I need to store data on whether each player is qualified with each of a limited list of weapons or not, and if so when and by whom (again, from a limited list of players permitted to qualify).

So basically for each record I need these fields:

Player Name
Contact Details bla bla bla. Lots of fields here, some mandatory, some not, some free text, some checkboxes.
Qualified with weapon 1? Yes/No. If yes, on what date and by whom?
Qualified with weapon 2? Yes/No. If yes, on what date and by whom?
Qualified with weapon 3? Yes/No. If yes, on what date and by whom?
etc for about eight different weapon types.

Is this the sort of thing that I'd need a tool like Access for, or can this be done as a simple set of linked Excel worksheets? I'd like to use Access to get the powerful query and reporting tools, but my Access-fu is rusty. And I'll be using LibreOffice rather than Access anyway.


Games / D&D Puzzle Help
« on: October 20, 2015, 07:47:15 AM »
So I'm running an online D&D game, and I'd like to come up with a challenging puzzle for my players. I've got a couple of weeks before they get to the relevant encounter, so I thought I'd get some help with it, since I'm personally not that great with puzzles.

Here's the setup:

Wizard's tower. Players need to get to the top level to find the McGuffin. Lower three levels are connected in a loop - you go up from the Entrance Hall to the Ballroom, you go up from there and get to the Basement, you go up from there and you get to the Entrance Hall. I want a puzzle to escape the loop and open up the way to the upper levels of the tower.

There are two Bad Guys and a bunch of Mooks in the Ballroom, and I want them to be musing over the puzzle when the players arrive. Perhaps both have been given a different part of the solution, and both need to be read together, or put together with something that's already in the Ballroom, to open the way.

Any thoughts/ideas?

General Discussion / Introvert or Extravert?
« on: September 25, 2015, 10:28:23 PM »
Wikipedia defines Extraversion as

... "the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with obtaining gratification from what is outside the self". Extraverts tend to enjoy human interactions and to be enthusiastic, talkative, assertive, and gregarious. Extraverts are energized and thrive off of being around other people. They take pleasure in activities that involve large social gatherings, such as parties, community activities, public demonstrations, and business or political groups. They also tend to work well in groups. An extraverted person is likely to enjoy time spent with people and find less reward in time spent alone. They tend to be energized when around other people, and they are more prone to boredom when they are by themselves.

And Introversion as

..."the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one's own mental life". Introverts are typically more reserved or reflective.


Introverts often take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, using computers, hiking and fishing. The archetypal artist, writer, sculptor, engineer, composer and inventor are all highly introverted. An introvert is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people, though he or she may enjoy interactions with close friends. Trust is usually an issue of significance: a virtue of utmost importance to introverts is choosing a worthy companion. They prefer to concentrate on a single activity at a time and like to observe situations before they participate, especially observed in developing children and adolescents. They are more analytical before speaking. Introverts are easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation from social gatherings and engagement, introversion having even been defined by some in terms of a preference for a quiet, more minimally stimulating external environment.

If you are neither Extraverted nor Introverted, or you display some qualities of each, then you are Ambiverted:

Although many people view being introverted or extraverted as a question with only two possible answers, most contemporary trait theories measure levels of extraversion-introversion as part of a single, continuous dimension of personality, with some scores near one end, and others near the half-way mark, see the Big Five personality traits. Ambiversion is falling more or less directly in the middle. An ambivert is moderately comfortable with groups and social interaction, but also relishes time alone, away from a crowd.

On another forum, someone wondered what percentage of posters were introverts, so I set up a poll to see. It produced interesting results. Let's see whether they are mirrorred here.

General Discussion / Post Length
« on: August 29, 2015, 02:53:58 AM »
This is something that has come up in some other threads recently, and I thought I'd make a thread specifically to discuss it so we don't have to derail those other threads.

Specifically, long posts. Some people (including myself) tend not to read the really long posts, and would prefer people make short, sharp posts that say exactly what you want and no more.

I can see a place on a forum for long OPs, but once you're into the replies section, I think posts should be kept short if possible.

Long OPs have the effect of turning the forum into a collection of blogs - the OP being the blog post, and the rest of the thread being the comments.

Your thoughts?

Forum Administration and Rules / Embedding videos?
« on: May 18, 2015, 05:46:10 AM »
It seems that linked videos are always embedded now, regardless of whether you include the "s" in "https" or whether it's under a URL tag or NOEMBED tag. This is pretty disruptive to the Forumvision game. Is there any way it could be fixed?

General Discussion / Wrest In Peace - New Site
« on: January 19, 2015, 12:29:29 AM »
A friend of mine, known to his forum buddies as Wolfman, has started a new site and has asked for help drumming up new members. He has given me permission to post this introductory post. From the next paragraph on are his words, copied from ASF:

I've launched an ambitious new project, and want to not only make my fellow ASF members aware of it, but to ask for your help both in letting others know about it, and perhaps in being an actual contributor.

Some background. While I enjoy sites like JREF ISF and ASF, I have some things that I also don't like so much about them, and think could be better. I've been working on a book called "Wrest In Peace" (to be published by the Humanist Press within the next year), which promotes critical thinking in dialogue and debate on issues of religion, science, social issues, etc.; and when the JREF decided to discontinue their support of these forums, I decided it was time to take the next step, and start a new website. Something different, that addressed the issues and concerns that I have with other online sites and forums:

1) Relatively homogenous membership. Not just this site, but most other such sites -- be they atheist, religious, political, or whatever -- tend to have a membership where the majority share the same values/beliefs. For example, the majority of ASF members would be atheists/agnostics, and self-identify as skeptics.

Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing, it can be useful to have a group of people who share your ideas and beliefs, who provide support and encouragement. And I've enjoyed my time here.

But such sites also tend to turn into echo chambers, with everybody saying the same things, and convincing each other that they are right, and everyone else is wrong. Those who come in with contrary or different ideas are treated as outsiders, and often attacked fairly strongly.

Wrest In Peace is intended as a site for people of all backgrounds and beliefs. Oh, I'm sure there are those with more extreme viewpoints who will condemn such an idea, but for those with more moderate positions, there's value in listening to ideas and arguments different than your own...and perhaps in having flaws and weaknesses in your own arguments pointed out, too.

2) Too many discussions degrade into pissing fights. Personal attacks, insults, threats, etc. Derailing of threads. I've seen countless discussions here that started off really well, but then were destroyed by personal disagreements and infighting.

Wrest In Peace will have much stricter rules than here. Zero profanity. Zero tolerance for personal attacks, insults, threats, etc. Given that there will be such a wide variety of beliefs, and that I want this to be a site that primary and high school students can use, this is absolutely essential.

So, what if there's someone that you really, really hate...and they feel the same way about you? What if you simply can't control yourself, and feel absolutely obligated to rip them a new *********? Well, then I have the "Mud Pit". The Mud Pit will be an area in which most of the civility rules will be suspended, and you can go at each other like animals. However, participants in the Mud Pit must all agree in advance to participate (you can't just go there and start a new thread to attack someone else); and only those designated as part of the fight can participate. This will be a closed forum, only those with approval can post (and others will have to get special permission to view the forum). I hope it won't be used often, but in those cases where we have otherwise valuable members who just can't seem to control themselves around particular issues/people, it provides an outlet that doesn't damage the rest of the forum, and allows them to avoid being banned.

3) "Debates" are often more like digital fistfights. Too many people involved, all screaming at each other. Topics that go all over the place. Too much focus on "winning", rather than on "informing".

The heart of Wrest In Peace is going to be special, organized debates. But these will be quite different from debates here, or most other places online. All debates will have at least three or four different positions, to show the wider range of possibilities (rather than the typical dichotomous choice shown in debates). For example, in a debate on abortion, rather than simply pro- or anti-abortion arguments, we could have a Christian who is pro-abortion, a Christian who is anti-abortion, an atheist who is pro-abortion, and an atheist who is anti-abortion.

And to prevent derails and descent into the typical online madness, these debates would be closed to everyone but the designated participants...there will be a separate area where others can discuss the debate.

Nor will these be real-time debates...they will be done on the forum, with each participant maybe making one post every one or two days. A single debate may last weeks, or even months. The advantage of this is that it means each participant will not only have the opportunity to research evidence for their claims, but also to research and rebut claims being made by others. Debates will only finish once A) the participants have agreed they are finished, or B) I decide that they are just repeating themselves, and nothing new is being added.

The objective is that rather than having debates where the goal is to have a 'winner' (and to 'prove' the other person is wrong), we have debates that focus on educating those who are reading them. They can better understand each claim, and the evidence for/against each claim...and then, based on that, make more informed decisions of their own.

Wrest In Peace also has some other rather cool features:

1) Both a blog and a forum. There will be blogs written by myself and other authors (Mattus Maximus from the ISF forums has already agreed to contribute some articles), on issues related to critical thinking.

2) Variety of ways to interact -- There is the blog; there are the forums; and there's also a built-in live chat window, so people can chat with each other in real time. All with one-step registration (one registration covers the blog, forums, chat, etc.).

3) Bad Arguments -- I have set up a special section called "Bad Arguments", which will address common-but-erroneous arguments that are often repeated in debates with others. My first article about this addresses the claim that "it takes religion to make good people do evil things"; and there will be many more. I hope that eventually, this can serve as a kind of "" for bad arguments.


The site is new, and doesn't have many members yet; but I expect that to change fairly quickly. I anticipate that the debates in particular will be a major factor in attracting new members. I will be seeking debate participants who have a fairly large online presence (Facebook, Twitter, their own blog, etc.). Then, when they participate in a debate, they'll naturally invite everyone who knows/follows them to come and check it out, and support them. In this way, we can get people from quite a few different backgrounds coming to the site.

In addition, as I said, I will also be publishing a book, with the same title, that should hopefully help to further publicize the site.

I've already contacted organizations like the Christianity Today magazine, the Ex-Muslim National Association; as well as quite a few bloggers (from atheist, Christian, mystic, Muslim, Buddhist, and other backgrounds), and response overall has been fairly positive, most of them see value in something like this.

Our first debate has been tentatively set for about two weeks later (subject to finding all the required participants), and will be looking at the book "The Secret", and it's claims about the 'Law of Attraction'.

The Future

Nobody has ever accused me of lacking ambition, and I have big plans. First the site, then my book. Then after that, I hope to start organizing live Wrest In Peace events, with a similar goal of having topics and debates that feature different perspectives. But these won't be a "come and learn about new-age thinking" kinda' thing...any belief or claim that is presented will be done by presenting a variety of arguments both for and against that claim, with accompanying evidence. Like the website, the goal of Wrest In Peace events would be to A) teach critical thinking skills, and B) present people with enough information and evidence on particular claims and beliefs to be able to make their own decisions and conclusions as to what they think is right.

My mantra is, "Not teaching people what to think, or what to believe; but how to think, and why they believe what they do."

How You Can Help

I need help. This is not intended to be a one-man show, and will never be successful if it is. Now, some of you will, I am sure, feel that this is not for you...or is a complete waste of time. And that's fine.

But I'm confident that others will see value in it. So, if you're in the latter group, here's what you can do to help out:

1) Link to on your Facebook, Twitter, blog, or other social media. It would probably be useful to link to my first blog article, "Himalayan Revelation", as an introduction to others.

2) Join the site, and start posting in response to blog articles, or on the forums. I've tried to get some content in place already, but the more people we have active and involved, the more attractive it is to others coming to join.

3) Volunteer to write blog articles, or participate in a debate. I have more stringent requirements in both regards, if interested, contact me for more details.

One important item -- Wrest In Peace is not just about religion. Critical thinking encompasses all areas of our lives, so the site will be seeking to address issues in a wide range of topics. So if there's an area that you think you have a lot to contribute, let me know, and we'll see what we an do.

4) Help me organize debates. This is the most difficult and time-intensive aspect of the job. For any particular debate topic, I have to find multiple participants who are knowledgeable in their respective area, who can present well-written arguments. Finding those people is a challenge, so I particular welcome those who can help with this.

5) Publicizing the site. Help me to contact media, blogs, or organizations who could be interested in this site, to have them share it with their members/followers/readers, or even to get them participating in the blog/debates.


There are no guarantees that this will work, and I know that. But it's worth the effort. Don't bother writing that, "This will never work", because I don't care. I'd far rather be the guy who tried and failed, than to be the guy who never tried.

There are many who will not find anything useful or attractive in this site. Don't bother writing to tell me that, because I honestly don't care. I have never expected this to be something that would appeal to everyone; but I know that there are people who find value and interest in a site like this, and have actually gotten very good feedback and response from quite a few people.

But if you have suggestions or ideas about how to improve the site, or let more people know about it, or find qualified blog/debate participants...then please, do contact me!

And if you yourself would like to be involved, absolutely let me know!

Thank you for your time, and for reading all the way through to the end. I'd include a notice not to respond with "tl;dr"...except that everyone who would write that would never get far enough to read this, anyway!

I look forward to your responses, and to seeing some of you at my site (several members here have already signed up there).

Forum Games / SGU Forumvision Redux - Part 2
« on: December 05, 2014, 09:21:44 PM »
This thread will be populated with the information carried over from the old Forumvision Redux game.

I just got back from a Brisbane holiday, so I'm quite dead right now. I'll update the thread when I return to work on Tuesday.

I believe that the consensus was to wait for UnixTechie to return, and then continue - was that correct?

Forum Games / SGU Forumvision?
« on: July 12, 2012, 02:52:21 AM »
Over at some other place I won't mention, there is a game that is currently in the middle of its third incarnation. It's based on the Eurovision Song Contest, and it works like this:

There are twelve players and one moderator. In each round, all of the players submit a song (via YouTube) to the moderator, who shuffles and anonymises them and presents them back to the players for voting.

Players give each of the songs submitted by the other players one of the following scores: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12. They don't score their own submission. You can't give two songs the same score - you have to give one song 12 and one song 0, even if you hate (or love) everything in the round. Traditionally, the players also provide short comments on the entries, and sometimes guess at who submitted what. The one who scores the most total points is the "winner" of that round - though they don't actually win anything except bragging rights. The game runs for twelve rounds. (There is also a bonus round, where each player submits a song chosen specifically for each other player. The moderator sends to each player all the songs submitted for them, and they are scored as usual.)

Scores are submitted to the moderator rather than posted in the thread. The moderator compiles and posts them all at the same time to avoid favouritism and OMGUS voting. Over at that other place we also have someone who is better with numbers than I am who does all sorts of fun statistical stuff with the scores.

Is there anyone here would might be interested in a game like this? At the other place, games tend to run for a long time - Forumvision 2 lasted for over a year realtime due to peoples' schedules and delays in rating and submitting - so it's a bit of a commitment. However, it's a great way to discover new music, and it's always fun engaging in snarky banter about other players' clearly inferior musical tastes.

I would obviously be the moderator for the first round (unless someone else wants to volunteer). How about it? Interested?

General Discussion / Nerf
« on: June 16, 2012, 05:18:53 AM »
Any Nerfies here?

I just picked up a Jolt to add to my collection. It's a tiny single-shot spring blaster - $4 at Toys R Us, but it packs a wallop. Great range and accuracy. I already have  Rayven and a Maverick - a friend of mine picked up some 4.5 volt batteries which power up the Rayven really well. All my blasters are currently unmodded otherwise. My next purchase is going to be a Stampede. Should also invest in some spare mags too. My collection builds, slowly.

The next game with my Nerf guild is going to be a mostly-melee affair, with only single shot spring pistols (like the Jolt :D ) allowed. I'm thinking of actually playing more this time instead of taking photos.

Skepticism / Science Talk / I.Q.
« on: June 04, 2012, 10:43:01 PM »
There was a brief mention of I.Q. in this week's show, and it got me wondering. Is I.Q. actually a useful measure of anything? I was brought up to believe that it didn't really reflect intelligence (whatever that is) - all it did was measure someone's ability to do I.Q. tests.

Can "intelligence" even be defined in such a way as to be easily measurable with a standard test?

General Discussion / JREF Forums
« on: August 19, 2008, 01:10:22 AM »
How many people here also post on the JREF Forums? I, of course, am arthwollipot over there too. I've been posting there since 2005, but I've only recently come over to the SGU since I started listening to the podcast.

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