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Comment: The truth hurts, not my problem. (Score 1) 116

I was SAC, and that statement is laughable.

I was USN SSBN missile systems and have talked with many SAC (Minuteman) launch crews over the years, and it's the dead simple truth. Your systems are much simpler than ours (even without figuring that we had sixteen tubes that we operated individually while you mostly just watched lights) and you didn't (couldn't) operate them or intervene in their operations to the level we did.

The examples of the complexities that you didn't have to deal with are legion (off the top of my head and in no particular order):

  • You had no pressurization system. (And even if you did you didn't have to wait for the ship to come to launch depth.)
  • Your optical alignment system was set by the loading crew rather than operating in sequence as ours did.
  • You had no navigation system interface to deal with as your tubes were fixed in position. (And equally, you didn't have to coordinate your countdown with the ship coming to launch speed or wait for the ship to commence hovering.)
  • You did not test the missiles in sequence the way we did. (And unlike us, you couldn't do anything about faults even if you did, the weapons were miles away and maintained by a different crew).

Etc... etc...
 
So yeah, the jobs of the prairie dogs waiting in their holes (which is the subject of this discussion) were (are) pretty dammed simple. You punch buttons and swap drawers. If a tube goes down, and it's not at your end, you're screwed because there's f all you can do about it except to wait for a repair crew to be dispatched. (The liquid fuel guys? Yeah, I'll agree they were the real deal. But they're long gone.)

Comment: Re:Not sure how well this will stop cheating (Score 1) 116

The problem is that promotions were based on the grades. So, people were not cheating to pass but instead to be "perfect" in order to look better for promotion.

This is the key point that everyone seems to be missing in the discussions I've seen here and elsewhere on the 'net, so it bears emphasizing and repeating.
 
It's interesting that they've shifted to using simulator performance (which is virtually impossible to cheat in) for promotion eligibility... because their jobs are basically so damn simple it's going to be very hard to realistically rate one crew as being notably better than another. On reaction time maybe? Or "procedures theater" (I.E. making a great show of doing everything by the letter of the book)? Since, AIUI, they swap at the drawer level rather than the circuit card level it'll be hard to evaluate and their troubleshooting and corrective maintenance skills.
 
Disclaimer - BTDT on both sides of the instructors console and of the evaluators clipboard. In a former life I was a Fire Control Technician (Ballistic Missile), USN Submarine Service, USS Henry L. Stimson SSBN 655B and Trident Training Facility - Bangor.
 
In the graded half of Team Trainer, we were scored fairly simply: "Pass", "Pass with comments (I.E. needs specific improvements)*, and "Fail". (And basically the only ways to actually fail were to have a gross violation of procedures, violation of safety regulations, or the simple inability to launch birds.) You could fail individual countdowns, but so long as there wasn't a pattern of failure you could pass the week "with comments". Outright failures of a countdown were very uncommon, and outright failure of the week very rare.
 
I can see how they could assign grades to specific tasks or objectives to create a spectrum from the top of "Pass" to the bottom of "Pass with comments", but the problem there is it's all too easy for the instructor/evaluator to start shading towards being subjective in their evaluation.

*You could also get "style" comments, but these didn't lead to a "Pass with comments". Operating an FBM weapons systems was a complex task and no two crews did it exactly the same. We didn't push standardization to the level that the USAF did, so "style" comments were a way for the instructors and evaluators to pass on what they'd seen work or not work with other crews or to highlight potential problem areas.

Comment: Re:When going into business with Friends (Score 4, Informative) 179

by DerekLyons (#47558715) Attached to: How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D

IIRC Williams went on to sink as much of TSR's money as possible into buying up the rights for the Buck Rogers RPG ... which flopped and sunk without a trace, crippling TSR's finances.

TSR's finances were in perpetual disarray from about '83 forward... when the D&D bubble popped.* TSR had built itself around the assumption that growth would occur at the same rate as it had during the bubble, and was screwed when it didn't. It never fully recovered. Even though Williams' mismanagement didn't help, by the mid 80's significant percentage of gamers had moved onto computer gaming and their purchases of hardcopy games dropped precipitously. They stumbled on long enough to be around when WOTC came into bucketloads of cash, but they were anything but a healthy company.

Not to mention the Buck Rodgers RPG is far from only "flopped and sunk without a trace", whether from TSR or elsewhere in the industry. (Even games that were huge successes (by the standards of the day) are by-and-large completely forgotten today.) At the height of the bubble ('82-'83) it seemed a new RPG was coming out every week, and the premises of the games were increasingly specialized and/or outlandish. By 1983, the market for tulip bulbs was beyond saturated**. By 1984 it was busted. By 1993, when the Buck Rodgers RPG was released, it would have taken a miracle for any RPG to be a breakout hit.

*The largest problems that hardcopy gaming (board, pen-and-paper, etc...) companies face are the replayability factor and the scaling factor. For the first, you can buy a set of rulebooks and literally play for years without further purchase. For the second, one guy can purchase a set and then ten or more others can play using that set for years. Once a significant proportion of your userbase has a set of your products, you're screwed. There's a reason why every gaming company of the era got into supplements and expansions and ancillary products and media as fast and deep as possible - it's the only way to survive. WOTC didn't create the idea of endless supplements and expansions (as many seem to think), they merely perfected the implementation by convincing players they were vital to continued gameplay rather than being optional.

** I remember a meeting of our gaming group in 1983 where we were deciding which GM/game would be added to our rotation to replace one that was moving away... we literally had twenty or thirty different RPG's in hardcopy physically sitting on the table. When I attended Dracon I (or was it Hexacon I, can't remember as there were so many start-up gaming cons back in the day) in 1984 I took something like ten different games from my personal collection to the con. (Met Tracy Hickman there, out stumping the then newly released Dragonlance.)

Comment: Back then... (Score 2) 137

From TFS: "[Man in a High Castle is] one of his most successful works"

Back in 1962 (when it was published) maybe... but by the time of my generation of SF readers (coming of age in the late 70's, early 80's) it was largely passed over in favor of Electric Sheep. With WWII much further in the past than when it was published, and the Red Menace having been replaced by MAD... it's foriegn dictatorship wasn't as relevant as the overcrowded overpolluted post apoplyptic dystopia of Sheep was to a generation that was influenced by the social chaos of the late 60's and had lived through the shocks of the early 70's. Stories involving the Nazi's (High Castle, Rocket Ship Galileo, even the (then) more recent Iron Dream) were seen largely as quaint anachronisms not classics. Which, in a large way, is also why Cyberpunk emerges in the same era...

Comment: Your lack of a clue is not my problem. (Score 1) 165

by DerekLyons (#47557851) Attached to: US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

No, I'm not the sole authority of facts relating to economics. I'm just not impressed by "actual numbers" when they're irrelevant to the discussion at hand and accompanied by smoke and mirrors.

And if you actually had a clue rather than parroting BS in the fashion of a cargo cultist, you'd note I never debated the validity of your facts - only their relevance. When confronted with this, you fall back on the typical defense of the terminally clueless... you raise the white flag and declare victory by indulging in personal attacks.

Comment: Re:When going into business with Friends (Score 1) 179

by DerekLyons (#47557693) Attached to: How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D

The arrangement made sense right up until TSR actually started making real money. When you and your friends bust your asses to build a business, and have no substantial income or assets to fight over, running it as a labor-of-love makes perfect sense. But once they started bulk-hiring new staff and pulled off 5000% growth over five years - Why the hell didn't they hire a competent CFO???

Well, because this was the early 80's not the early 00's and they hadn't lived through the dot bomb as we all have. (Seriously, the dot bomb radically changed the public's perception of how a business should be run if/when it Suddenly Gets Big. We simply didn't think that way back then.) That, and their desire to keep control in house and in the hands of gamers meant they never brought in any real (read competent) outside money... which might have imposed the constraint of hiring adult supervision as a condition of receiving the money.

Comment: Re:Flash panic (Score 1) 160

by DerekLyons (#47554353) Attached to: OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

When we (academics) do experiments on people however trivial we usually have to go through ethical clearance, get informed consent etc. I think its skipping that part that people are uncomfortable about.

The operative word being "usually", which implies there exist cases where you don't. The discomfort come from people not grasping the existence of the "usually", and that businesses are not academics and product testing is not held to the same standard.

Comment: Re:Can we just recognize it as currency and be don (Score 0) 165

by DerekLyons (#47554241) Attached to: US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

Ask yourself what backs the value of UPS shipping labels, that people are willing to give substantial sums to obtain one? Intrinsically the label is just sticky paper with some printing on it. The answer is the UPS network of trucks and distribution terminals. They enable a package with a label on it to get from one place to another.

In a similar way, the Bitcoin network of p2p nodes, mining hardware, desktop apps, merchants accepting it, and user wallets enable moving money from one place to another.

In other words, Bitcoin is precisely what I said - a medium of exchange, a coupon, a token, not a currency.
 

The network makes bitcoin balances useful, and therefore have value.

So? Having value [being useful] does not equate to having value [monetary worth]. They're two different things, though I can see why BTC fanboys would like to obscure the existence of that distinction - because it's existence demolishes their entire theory.

As to the balance of your reply, it's just more of the same... handwaving, smokescreens, and you using words that don't mean what you think they do.

Comment: Re:Can we just recognize it as currency and be don (Score 1) 165

by DerekLyons (#47553615) Attached to: US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

This is always the crux of the Great Bitcoin Debate.

No it's not, because it's no more something that can be debated than whether or not the sun rises in the East in the morning. You can't debate facts.
 
The rest of your post is just more of the same - smoke and irrelevant mirrors.

Comment: Re:Can we just recognize it as currency and be don (Score 2) 165

by DerekLyons (#47552201) Attached to: US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

So... can we just formally decree that cryptocoins meet the definition of a "currency", and be done with it?

I certainly hope not, because ultimately they're completely unlike other foreign or domestic currencies in that they have nothing backing their worth*. They're much more like coupons, casino tokens, or tasting tokens at a beer festival than real money. They're a medium of exchange not a store of value. The flaw in the logic behind cryptocurrencies is that their inventors and proponents fail to recognize this.
 
* Generally the economy of the issuing country.

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