On Sunday I finally managed to play my first games of Dreamblade, the new collectible miniatures strategy game from WotC. While my wife and I are really rather dismayed at the creative flavor of the game (it’s all horror and nightmareish stuff), it’s fun to play, and has a huge depth of strategy that we’re just barely starting to scratch the surface of. Wizards is really trying to push this game, and is giving thousands of dollars in prizes out for it. I may start trying to play it competitively, although if I do as good as I do at competitive Magic I may just end up judging it primarily.

More about the RF transmitter in my pocket

So, I had mentioned that my new credit card had an RF transmitter in it for making contactless payments. I finally got a chance to use this feature yesterday at the pharmacy to purchase my prescription. Some interesting notes about the experience:

  • The receipt, as usual, displays the last 4 digits of the credit card number. However, the number on the receipt is *not* the last 4 digits of my card. It appears that the RF method of payment acts as an additional card number (sort of like my wife’s card) that charges to the same account. Makes a lot of sense, I suppose, except that from the user’s perspective the user wasn’t expecting this behavior it could make it harder to reconcile the receipt with which card the user charged it to.
  • I needed to hold the card on the reader for a second, and then the display showed 4 options of buttons to hit, including Credit, Debit, Gift Card, and something else I guess. (I guess I should have paid more attention.) I would think that while it’s transmitting my card number and who knows what else, it could also transmit the type of card, no? It should have a better idea of what kind of card it is than I have.
  • It didn’t seem that much quicker than swiping the card. In the second it took it to read the card, I think I could have swiped it if I were quick enough. I suppose it could have been slightly faster to do the RF thing. But I suspect the primary advantage from the credit card company / retailer’s point of view is that there’s no chance of swiping the card the wrong way, which is I suspect a significant common time-waster of self-swiped credit card processing. Apparently, the RF payment product is also available in a keychain fob, which could make it faster for some people as they only have to get out their keys instead of getting out their wallet, I guess.


So, I saw a doctor today and he diagnosed me with pneumonia, which is what I was sorta suspecting I had. So he gave me some antibotics, and after taking the first dose and a 4-hour nap, I’ve been feeling a bit better, and my fever is down considerably. He told me I should take it easy for the next couple of days though, and probably shouldn’t go into work.

Multimedia Overload

I’m somewhat disturbed by the proliferation of audio and video content on the Internet nowadays, including the strangely-named “podcasting”. While it’s pretty neat that computers and bandwidth are to the point where distributing such forms of media is a realistic thing to do, it’s a little jarring. Web pages are much easier to read and skim through, whereas if somebody’s offering an audio-only version of something, I’m not very likely to take the time to download it and listen to the whole thing. There’s likely some interesting stuff in there, but it’s much harder to find since you’d need to listen to the whole thing. Maybe it’s just me missing the iPod revolution, or maybe it’s just that we’re now in such a rapid-paced culture that even listening to an entire audio file seems like too much. I’m not really sure. But it seems like there’s getting to be more and more content out there that I’m not bothering with since it’s only available in audio or video.

So, am I the only one yearning for the days of yore, when text was all you had to work with? Or do others sometimes feel the same way?

Aerial Pictures!

MassGIS has finally released its April 2005 aerial pictures of everything in the state. You can see a picture of our house under construction. It probably won’t be too long before you can see the pictures on other online mapping sites, but in the meantime, you can check out the OLIVER Viewer and turn on the “Images/Orthophotos/Color Orthos 2005” layer if you want to browse what the rest of the state looks like. (There are a bunch of other layers you can turn on as well to see different things. Not quite as snazzy as Google Earth, but still interesting.)