The Tale of a Doomed Colony.

It’s not over until everybody’s dead.

As part of my twenty four hour gaming binge, I spent a little time with RimWorld. RimWorld is an indie space colony management game developed by the Montreal-based developer Ludeon Studios. The game let’s you play as three survivors from a space craft that has crashed on an unknown planet, and your main goal is to make sure they survive and prosper. RimWorld is very much inspired by Dwarf Fortress, and freedom and deep simulation are key elements.

I’ve tried to come to terms with Dwarf Fortress several times, but the ASCII user interface has broken me every time. When you learn it properly it’s like looking straight into the matrix, but the learning curve is pretty much just a massive brick wall you run into. RimWorld, on the other hand, gives you much of the same experience as Dwarf Fortress, but with a graphical user interface us mere mortals can learn to use without our brains exploding in the process.

One of the most interesting side-effects of deep simulation games like Dwarf Fortress and RimWorld is the stories they create. The fable of Boatmurdered, an epic tale of incorporating hordes of belligerent dwarf-eating elephants, floods of biblical proportions, and flaming puppies, is among the better known that Dwarf Fortress has spawned. Inspired by the story of Boatmurdered, I decided to scrawl down a few notes as I played to see if my first experience with RimWorld could result in something that would be worth reading.

(Fredrik, you can safely stop reading now.)

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RIP Kent (1990-2016).

Kent. Photo by Peter Gehrke.
One of my favorite rock bands, Swedish Kent, has decided to call it quits. Here’s why that’s no real catastrophe.

After 26 active years, the band will release their final album, “Då som nu för alltid”, this year, pushing the number of released studio albums to a very respective 14. The album will be followed by a Scandinavian tour, concluding with the closing concert on 17 December.

I first discovered Kent when they released their third album, Isola, back in 1997, but didn’t really fall head over heels in love with the band until the release of their fourth album, Hagnesta Hill. After that, I obtained copies of what I missed from their back catalog and continued to purchase new Kent releases on CD up until the 7th release, Tillbaka till samtiden, in 2007. From there on out, Spotify has covered my musical needs, including new Kent releases. Over the years I’ve also gone to a fair number of Kent concerts, and my closet is full of well-worn, washed out, and too small band t-shirts – because you don’t throw away band t-shirts.

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An Evening With the Oculus Rift DK1.

Oculus Rift DK1.

Through work I’ve managed to get access to an Oculus Rift DK1. It was manufactured back in 2013, which makes it quite old in technology years, and I had a slim hope that it would be compatible with my even older computer.

So yesterday night, after the kid was safely tucked in and sleeping, I carried the spare heater into my freezing basement office, poured myself a glass of Johnnie Walker, and started to rig the Rift.

I wanted to try the virtual reality support in Euro Truck Simulator 2, which is without doubt the game if you’re looking for something that simulates the experience of driving a truck around Europe. You might think that sounds like something immensely boring, but the game is amazingly popular: It’s one of the the highest rated games on Steam, with reviews like “I let my girlfriend have a try at this game, she started growing chest hair”, “if you didn’t find inner peace while playing this game you were playing it wrong”, and “like Skyrim with trucks”.

“I let my girlfriend have a try at this game, she started growing chest hair.”

At first, setting up the Rift went smoothly. The Windows drives, although still in beta, was compatible with Windows 10, and installed without any trouble. I connected the headset to my graphics card with the provided HDMI cable, the card’s configuration utility reported that the Rift was connected, and I even saw the extended Windows desktop when peeking into the headset. Everything literately looked good.

But then; catastrophe!

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Let’s Encrypt.

With Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks in 2013, and the unveiling of PRISM and XKeyscore, it became obvious how important it is to protect your privacy from the snooping eyes of government agencies. That the NSA had the capabilities to eavesdrop on electronic communication if necessary shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but the sheer scale of their operation – the amount of data that was collected, who they collected it from, and how it could be analyzed – was shocking.

But, why, exactly, is that a problem? Most of us have noting to hide, so why should it worry us that our government knows everything? At first, I didn’t really see the problem either, but reading the following quote online made it very clear to me why a government harvesting everything they can about us is a serious issue:

Either way, [mass surveillance] will move forward, for better or for worst (sic). I guess we are going to find out. I truly hope it’s for the better and someone doesn’t come into power and ask the following… I need a list of all the Jews.

One way of preventing spies from prying into our privacy is to encrypt electronic communication. Pre-Edward Snowden, encrypted communication – web sites using HTTPS to communicate with the client – was something we associated with banking sites, online shopping and other online services where we wanted to prevent criminals from getting hold of credit card numbers, social security details and other sensitive information. Now that it has become apparent that we also have to hide from our elected officials, encrypting electronic communication should be the rule, not the exception.

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Clouded Requirements.

I’ve been a long time fan of the Tropico series. According to Steam, I’ve spent well over a hundred hours as El Presidente, island hopping around on fictional tropical paradises, making sure my loyal tropicans get what they need, while secretly killing off anyone standing in my way.

In May 2014, the fifth installment in the series, Tropico 5, was released and I’ve been quietly sitting on the fence since, waiting for a sale somewhere so I could pick it up. A few days ago, Green Man Gaming started celebrating their 5th birthday by slashing the price on a lot of their games, and there it was: Tropico 5 for less than $10.

After downloading and installing the game, I was greeted by this error message on launch: “You need DirectX11 and a DirectX11-capable graphics card to run this game.” DirectX 11? No one said Tropico 5 required DirectX 11! Or did they?

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