Sunday, May 31, 2020

On Star Wars, The Hunger Games, and The Matrix as "cozy revolutions"

How RuneScape is helping Venezuelans survive by working as gold farmers

Mat Ombler for Polygon:
Ninety percent of Venezuelans are now living in poverty, and one of the most extreme and sustained periods of hyperinflation ever recorded means that people working minimum wage jobs are earning the equivalent of $5 a month.


RuneScape was originally released in 2001 by British developer Jagex, but it’s only in the last four years that a growing number of Veneuzelans have started depending on the game as their main source of income.


There’s an abundance of online websites that specialize in the buying and selling of RuneScape commodities. It’s a fiercely competitive marketplace, with several websites taking out Google Ads to appear at the top of search listings. At the time of writing, 1 million RuneScape gold sells for 63 cents.


My first ‘job’ was smelting [runite] bars at the blast furnace.


When these power outages first occurred last March, they caused an economic crisis in RuneScape that dramatically impacted the prices of heavily farmed items such as dragon bones, Zulrah’s scales, and black chinchompas. As scarcity came into play, RuneScape players quickly discovered what happens to their game’s economy when you suddenly remove a large proportion of players from the game.

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Keanu at the protest?; Wicked Musical regrets a post; lessons learned from covering Hong Kong protests

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Instagram filter blurs people

"Civil War-era witch bottle found by archaeologists digging along I-64 in Virginia"

From February:
To history experts, the scenario goes something like this: A Union officer stationed on enemy Southern soil drops a handful of iron nails into a bottle, adds some personal effects — clippings of his hair or fingernails, maybe some urine — corks it up and buries it near his hearth.

He likely offers up a fervent prayer that he’ll survive the Civil War and return home to Pennsylvania. And the bottle of nails was his good luck charm.

A century and a half later, in 2016, archaeologists excavating the remains of a Civil War outpost on a broad highway median in York County before widening work unearthed that bottle. The lip was broken off, the nest of nails badly rusted.

The artifact was cleaned up and cataloged as a sort of makeshift storage container. Then, six months ago, experts in ceramics and folk ritual recognized it for what it is: a witch bottle — part of a tradition of folk magic that stretches back to the Middle Ages.


At first, archaeologists at WMCAR thought there were perhaps only 12 known witch bottles in this country, compared to a couple hundred in Great Britain. But
The Wikipedia entry on witch bottles:
Witch bottles began as countermagical devices used as protection against other witchcraft and evocation.

eChallenge coin with interactive challenges

The waitlist is here:
What is it?
The is the eChallengeCoin. It is a challenge coin with 3 interactive challenges you solve using the LEDs and touch sensors, 3 story challenges you solve through the UART interface, and a bonus to unlock.

It comes fully assembled and ready to challenge your skills! It uses a standard CR2032 coin battery (included) and comes in a protective coin case.

Everything about the eChallengeCoin provides clues and misdirection.

It even has 3 demos to help you pass the time when you are not working on the challenges.

Why did you make it?
I was familiar with the traditional challenge coins which signify a group of individuals or a significant event. But what about today's advanced technology groups, InfoSec, or cyber security? Their challenge coin would be more than a static object. Their challenge coin would be electronic and have its own challenges!

That was the genesis of the idea to create the eChallengeCoin.

What makes it special?
The eChallengeCoin is about the size of a traditional challenge coin and is designed to be carried around in a pocket. It's just 44mm in diameter and the case only adds 10mm. It is very energy efficient and will run off a standard CR2032 coin battery for weeks or even months.

It's also just the first!

The eChallengeCoin includes a story from The Adventures of Sara Cladlow. In the story, Sara encounters challenges which you must solve to continue.

There will be more eChallenge objects and each will have interactive challenges and a new adventure with Sara Cladlow with new challenges to solve.
The companion site is here.

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The best wargaming miniatures of the week

Friday, May 29, 2020

Slick Neon Genesis Evangelion short film for a smartphone that comes with a tiny Spear of Longinus

More information here.

Amazon sellers are marking products as "collectible" to avoid price gouging rules; Cummings and his father; Monkeys escape with Covid19 samples

The Verge:
The seller with the $1,275 dumbbells was also selling a Coleman SaluSpa inflatable hot tub for $1,400, which is also, allegedly, collectible. Back in March, it was going for $359. Other sellers were offering “collectible” Cuisinart bread makers for $239 ($82.76 two months ago) and $279.99 “collectible” Nintendo Switch games that previously went for $79.99. Amazon removed the listings I asked about, but other examples are still abundant, including a “collectible” $450 barbell bar and a “collectible” USB cable for $259.99.


The opacity of Amazon’s price rules, and the difficulty of coming back after getting suspended for violating them, is exacerbating shortages on the site, McCabe says, as sellers decide to sit out the pandemic rather than risk running afoul of the algorithm. “To avoid that whole nightmarish scenario, most people understand that it’s better just not to risk it in the first place, which means the quantities of the items offered for these kinds of products will be lower,” he says.

7 steps to creating a rich role playing character

(By Kayla Ancrum.)

GTAV with cyberpunk mods; Designing merchandise for Microsoft's Solitaire; How to create NPC portraits;

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Cyberpunk animated light mask

Here's what it looks like when a pilot conducts a test to determine "the minimum catapult power" for an F-35 to avoid falling into the ocean

The view from behind:

Good thing we have test pilots for this! #Repost ・・・ Why there are test pilots ๐Ÿ˜ณ #repost @cincohamilton ・・・ Something you don’t see everyday...low energy catapult launch! That sink is scary, but it was a part of the test plan. The folks at PAX River needed to find the lowest amount of energy that the catapult needed in order to safely launch an F-35C...they definitely found it! Through a smart build up and mitigation the test professionals go where others don’t. #aviation #testpilot #f35c #aviationphotography #aircraftcarrier #catapult #f35 #flightdeck #carrier #aviationdaily #avgeekphoto #fullsend #nogutsnoglory #instaavaition #comeflywithme #aviationphotography #afterburner #pilotlife #militaryaviation #aircraft #avgeek #fighter #airforce #fighterpilot #flying #fly #flight #aviation #aviationgeek #rcaf_pilot
A post shared by Mark Shular (@rcaf_pilot) on

And from below:

Pay what you can for board game Fireball Island

Restoration Games:
We know a lot of folks have been hit hard by the virus in a lot of different ways — whether you’ve lost a job or are just feeling the strain of of this situation we find ourselves in — and we’d like to do what we can to help out during these trying times. We have a limited supply of the first printing of Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar that recently made it back into the warehouse. Other than the retro box style and a card with a typo, it’s the same amazing game of flicking fireballs as the newest printing.

The game regularly sells for $75, but we’re offering it here as a Pay-What-You-Can option. Once we’ve sold through these remaining copies, we’ll donate all the profits from these sales to a charity benefiting folks who’ve been hit the hardest. You all get a fun game to play, and some less fortunate folks get some much needed assistance. (And if you combine this purchase with other items from our store, you’ll still only pay our $5 flat shipping rate.)

If you have financial trouble but still want to pick up a game for your friends and family, pay what you can.

If you’re doing pretty well and want to give back to folks who aren’t faring so well, pay a little more.

Original Product Description: Vul-Kar is back, and he’s meaner than ever. This fully restored version of the 1986 classic offers an amazing new island, a charming new narrative, stunning new components, and engaging new gameplay. Play cards to race across the island. Gather treasures and take snapshots. And, of course, blast your friends with fireballs! The new version offers more marble mayhem with a dynamic Vul-Kar figure that keeps you guessing where they’ll come out. But make sure you get back to the Hello-copter to really max out your score. (More info on our game page.)

Alternative movie posters available for $20 each

These and many more by Adam Juresko available here. This one for Parasite is not available:

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Deluxe Inspector Gadget toys available for preorder

Available individually, or as a set.

"Nice Marines" is a RPG that asks "As power-armoured living weapons of ultimate carnage, can you oversee a tense diplomatic situation without accidentally killing everyone?"

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Drudge sends millions of views of traffic to a site that lifts articles from the New York Times, Atlantic and others

Drudge didn’t link to the New York Times. Instead, the site sent visitors to a copy-pasted version of the story on, an obscure site filled with content plagiarized from publishers, including the Times, the Atlantic, Bloomberg, and the Financial Times, among others.

Since November, the links on the Drudge Report have sent roughly 8 million pageviews to the site


A Google spokesperson said it removed ads from and terminated the associated AdSense publisher account after being contacted by BuzzFeed News.

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Padme, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and the twins spend the day at the beach; The Duel of the Fates explained; A New Hope, from a different point of view