greymond writes: I've recently began working with a niche trade publication who has a strong subscriber base in this industry, however because of their target audience the overall web exposure hasn't been the best it could be and is one of the initiatives I'm working on improving. However, my question is to those who advertise with magazines, which do you value more — subscriber numbers or their monthly unique visitors and pageviews? Obviously if one is only advertising online or print the choice is clear, but what about when advertisers have the option of one ad price thats included in both editions?
greymond writes: "AT&T has announced that starting on Oct. 1 it will throttle the data speeds of users with unlimited data plans who exceed bandwidth thresholds on its 3G network. AT&T is following in the tracks Verizon and Virgin Mobile in reducing data throughput speeds of its heaviest mobile data users. With more data-intensive apps being published everyday, how will AT&T's data throttling affect users' mobile experience?"
greymond writes: "A while back I posted about out of control job responsibilities, and then later on about even more additional responsibilities and my desire to move to more open source solutions. Well, I felt a follow up was in order as regardless if it was due to my year and a half of convoluted job functions or a growth in the local economy, I was recently called by a company interested in me and offered literally double my previous salary to make an immediate move. Needless to say I made the transition and have been extremely happy with my new gig, which is focused on maintaining multiple Drupal sites and not a laundry list other random activities. Shortly after another employee I had kept in touch with at the previous company found a similar offer as well. So for those who find themselves in this type of situations, let it be known, there is opportunity out there."
greymond writes: In my ever growing job responsibilities, I’ve recently been tasked with documenting our organizations IT infrastructure, primarily focusing on cost analysis of our hardware leases and software purchases. This is something that has never been done in our organization before and while it’s moving along slowly, I’m already seeing some places where we could make improvements. Once completed, I see this as an opportunity to bring up the topic of migrating the majority of our office from Windows 7 to Linux and Exchange to Gmail. However, this would result in three departments each running a different system, Windows, OS X and most likely Fedora. Has anyone worked in or tried to setup an environment like this? What road blocks did you run into? Is this really feasible or should I just continue to focus on the cutbacks that don't require OS changes?
The requirement for having three different systems is that the vast majority of our administration, who rely solely on an install of Microsoft Windows, Word and Excel, are savvy enough that if they came in and saw Gnome running on Fedora with Open Office they’d pick it up fast. However, our marketing department is composed entirely of Apple systems, and the latest Adobe Creative Suite doesn’t seem to all work under Wine. The biggest issue is with the Sales department though, as they rely on a proprietary sales platform that is Windows only, as well as generally, sales personal give the biggest push back when it comes to organizational changes.
greymond writes: I was originally hired as an Online Content Producer to write articles for a company website as well as start up the company’s social media outlets on Facebook and Twitter. With budget cuts and layoffs I ended up also taking over the website facilitation for three of the company’s websites (they let go of the current webmaster). During this time the company has been developing a new website and I was handed the role of pseudo project manager to make sure the developer stayed on course with the projects due date. Now that we’re closer to launch the company has informed me that they don’t have the budget or staff in place to set up the web server and have tasked me with setting up the LAMP and Zend App on an Amazon EC2 setup, which while it’s been years since I worked this much with Linux I’m picking it up and moving things along. Needless to say I want to ask for more money, as well as more resources, as well as a better title that fits my roles, but what is the best way to go about this? Of course my other thought is that I'd much rather go back to writing and working with marketing than getting back into IT.
greymond writes: Will the iPad finally be the product that brings the era of digital books or will PDF’s and ePub’s continue to remain a niche market? It would seem to me that with the release of Sony’s reader, Amazon’s Kindle DX and now the popular iPad that we’d start to see an increase in sale of digital books. However, does anyone have numbers that can confirm or deny this?
greymond writes: Team San Jose has been considering revamping their website, www.sanjose.org, for some time now and I have been asked to see what level of interest the online community would have if we were to allow for inclusion of syndicated bay area blog content and/or general user generated content, such as the uploading of photos by site visitors and the submission of venue reviews. If SanJose.org was to proceed with a redesign what feature would you most desire to have offered from the site? Keeping in mind our ultimate goal would be to generate an online community that responds to events that happen within the city of San Jose and create an accurate picture of the city. An additional inquiry weââd appreciate feedback on is how you view the city of San Jose as a destination, and not just another city on the map. Many people consider San Jose to be the heart of Silicon Valley with its history with companies such as IBM, however, how do you feel towards San Jose as a place of tourism and fun? While its location allows for a plethora of adventures 30 to 90 minutes in any direction, what venues, services and hot spots, that are not business related, bring you to San Jose? If business has been your only interest within the city, what places have you considered to be the most favorable and the least enjoyable?
greymond writes: "With eReaders seeming to gain some popularity, how many think eBooks will become popular on mobile devices? As a Blackberry user, I can't imagine myself reading a book on my phone, though when on the train I will read my Google news feeds, as well as I have used it for the more simple stuff of getting directions or updating my Twitter status. But actually reading a book, not in my list of things to do. But then again, I don't think I'm much of a techno fan that way; as I prefer to use machines that make my life easier, not give me more choices. What does the Slashdot crowd think of ebooks on mobile phones?"
greymond writes: "A theory that Google's AdWords increases the organic results of AdWord users is being conducted. The results after two days of testing have been posted with some interesting results so far. The article also does some comparison with Facebook Ads, but ultimately this continues to perpetuate the theory that you can buy Google search results, without actually having to spend money by 0.01 and other low bidding tactics. Essentially, just using the service to gain impressions over click rates increases the organic search results of any sites used in your ad campaigns." Link to Original Source
greymond writes: "I work for one of the largest commercial real estate entities in the world. Unfortunately our offices as well as our competitors, for the most part, have always been slow to adopt new technologies. While myself and many other of the in-house designers, marketing specialists and PR people have been pushing for years to take advantage of everything that is available to us, we've finally been granted the opportunity to start using a wide variety of online marketing tools. Since our business is primarily a relationship based business we've started to use social tools such as twitter, and blogger, as well as LinkedIn for networking. But more importantly is our work with tying in our database and Google Maps where our listings and managed property can be seen as whole on our offices main sites or on individual broker pages with just their listings, as well as generate what we call "EFlyers" on the fly and pulling people back to that office's or broker's website. These Eflyers are pages displaying multiple photos, PDFs and even YouTube videos of the properties.
While we haven't been a complete stranger to all technologies such as distributing for some time now our Market reports, transactions, press releases and other information via RSS feeds and Podcasts, we've begun to really focus on expanding on all aspects of our online presence. While we've gone back to the basics and started using different SEO tactics for our featured property pages and incorporating Google Analytics into many of our websites pages, we've also began tracking all of our HTML email campaigns as well setting up an intranet that allows us to send text announcements globally.
That all said, my role has me focused on the west coast markets of the US, primarily California and Nevada and I am constantly asked by our managing partners and board of directors if any of this will really make much of a difference over the next year or two given the state of the US economy. Unfortunately I don't always know how to answer this, while I believe had we been utilizing all these tools when they first became available we may have been in a slightly better position, it doesn't change the fact that the US has been struggling very badly with residential properties and I don't think we've seen all of the fallout possible on the commercial side of things. On the other hand, I think that it is important for our company moving forward to incorporate these tools and others into our daily activities so that when the market does improve we may have made some relationships we may not have made otherwise and be in a better position to make deals. But I'm curious, at the end of the day what do the tech savvy really believe of companies like ours using these tools?"
greymond writes: "Ave Molech is a fantasy steampunk setting created under the Open Games Licence. It's actually been loose since 1997 and this is the Second Edition, although regretfully this is the first time I've seen it. The Introduction helps, as it is a reminisce by the author about how he got into role-playing and how the Ave Molech setting came about.
Chapter 1: The World of Ave Molech sets out its stall: a post-cataclysmic mediaeval fantasy world with steampunk inventions and a Wild West attitude; and recommends that not only the core Dungeons & Dragons 3e books but also D20 Modern be used. Due to the catacysmic events of the past, much of the population has been living underground or floating high above, and only the past couple of hundred years has seen more than the most adventurous venture out on the surface. Now both magic and technology are being harnessed to make the surface a fit place on which to live again. Much knowledge, especially the detailed history of what took place, has been lost; but some remains to be discovered. A brief history describes what little is known of how the cataclysm came to occur, how it opened the world to external invasion, and how matters developed thereafter until the present day. Then comes a couple of 'eyewitness' reports and a timeline of major events.
Next, the current state of affairs is described — basically, fragmented outposts of various sizes each doing their best to survive against the remnants of alien invasions and hostile neighbours. However, different groups bring a range of talents, skills and knowledge to the world community as a whole — there is even a primitive Internet to enable different settlements to keep in touch with one another! Magic exists alongside technology, being of the familiar arcane and divine persuasions as well as 'ancient magic' from which all else stemmed. Most divine magic comes from a belief in oneself rather than in an external deity, as veneration of gods seems to have vanished during the cataclysm and its aftermath... and the gods themselves appear to have gone to sleep. Various other topics, ranging from psionics and planar travel to fashion, economics to body-art and piercing, transportation and more are also discussed to present an overall picture of Ave Molech as it is today.
Chapter 2: The Races and Lands of Ave Molech gets into a bit more detail than the overviews already presented. On races, any fantasy race can exist here, but the most common are humans, goblins, tiefling, halflings, half-elves, half-orcs, half-giants and the sec'toda. Full game details for these races as they appear in Ave Molech are provided. Few pure-blood elves remain. Sec'toda appear human, adapted to subterranean living, but they are not — instead they are the outwardly-visible partner of a symbiotic relationship with a 'bloodmate.' Being a new race, they are described in greater detail than the others.
Next comes a gazetteer section, describing the cities, swamps, coastal areas and other parts of the world. The level of information is sufficient for at least a visit to each location mentioned. The maps presented are somewhat rudimentary but provide a good overview of the world with plenty of scope for individual DMs to develop areas of interest within that context.
Chapter 3: Organisations and Important People puts some meat into the setting, providing details of various groups and individuals with which characters might interact — or whose wider machinations may well impinge on their lives. It's a setting in which both exploration and intrigue can flourish, depending on your group's tastes.
Next comes Chapter 4: Game Mechanics begins with a look at character creation. It's suggested that the D20 Modern methodology be used for such as ability scores and core classes, with amendments as appropriate to fit the setting. However, skills and feats from both D20 Modern and the D&D Player's Handbook, modified as necessary, can be taken. The DM should judge, based on the type and focus of campaign, just what will be available.
Just to give you a start, though, Chapter 5: Advanced and Prestige Classes goes into much more detail to enable progression to be planned and characters developed. Each in turn is presented with the necessary information to enable them to be used. They include members of several of the organisations mentioned earlier as well as more general classes that do not require you to sign up to a specific group. One intriguing prestige class is the Dragonne, who have mastered the use of technologically-advanced battle armour as well as more mundane combat skills. Sneakier folks might prefer to become Shadow Dancers, while a Fearasitic Mage is as scary to his enemies as he is inspiring to his friends. In a land without religion, the dead (or more correctly, the undead) might become a problem, hence the Ecclesiarch class, specialist in controlling them; while for more mundane problems, you might want to send for a Bounty Hunter.
Characters sorted, Chapter 6: Equipment, Vehicles and Other Ware looks at the kit your characters might acquire. Note that the D20 Modern wealth system has been used, so those desiring more realistic economics will have to devise their own price lists. There's a range of delightfully exotic personal equipment which is described in enough detail for you to know what it does without necessarily needing to know how it does it: perfect for the steampunk-style tech in this setting. Mechanical vehicles, ships and airships, wonderous items... even piercings that deliver a magical effect... enough is here to get you started. Oh, and there are some exotic riding animals if you prefer creatures to mechanical wonders.
Worthy of a chapter of its own, next we have Chapter 7: Clockwork. Developed to a level to rival real-world electronics, clockwork can be used to power and control devices of all natures, limited only by the inventor's imagination. One major use is in Clockwork Companions, in other words, robots — but not advanced enough to be living or self-aware. The chapter concentrates on the manufacture, programming, operation and repair of these constructs.
Next is Chapter 8: Monsters, detailing the wildlife — or at least three of the more dangerous species — inhabiting Ave Molech. You really don't want to encounter any of them! This includes more detail on the main alien invader, the Hybrude — including background that is not known to natives of Ave Molech. There are also notes on quite a few other creatures that you might encounter, although you can of course use many of the creatures in the Monster Manual series of books as well... although they may have been warped on their way there. Chapter 9: Creature Templates provides some of the tools, with a selection of templates you can apply to the monster of your choice.
Chapter 10: GM Stuff lifts the curtain on some of the underlying concepts, and shares things like the house rules and mechanical approaches which the author has found best reflect the flavour of this setting. In terms of general gaming, there is a rules-light approach avoiding as much number-crunching as possible with the aim of keeping action as the focus of the game — worth reading if this style of game appeals even if you are not using this setting. One intriguing idea reflects the racial melting-pot Ave Molech has become, using a system of Heritage to accommodate a character with several different races in his ancestry, rather than the easily-derived half-and-half model. There's also more background on what the deities which created the place were really doing, and the few cults which survive in the godless present day. Oh, and there are plenty of adventure ideas, some based on location for those who want to explore, and others involving the characters in intrigue or open warfare.
Next is woven in the first 4 Journals — if you buy this book, only buy Ave Molech Journals Vol.5 as the material from the others is in here! The concept is a combination of short story with adventure seeds and other game ideas. There's lots of atmospheric description as well as useful ideas — and much could be used in another setting if you prefer.
Finally, Chapter 11: A First-level Campaign is just that — a linked series of events aimed at a group new to Ave Molech (although they'd do better at 4th-6th level than 1st!). Reaching out to sieze and involve the characters from the outset, a simple plea for help from a frantic halfling whose clockwork cleaner has gone beserk leads to... well, a series of adventures which demonstrate how Ave Molech is such a unique setting to explore.
Overall, this is indeed a rich and intriguing setting with a heady blend of steampunk and fantasy with elements of horror lurking, potential for exploration and intrigue and scope for a range of adventures to suit all tastes, especially those which go beyond pure combat and loot aquisition."
greymond writes: "In the past news outlets have reported on social networking sites helping to bring casual games (read: mini games you can usually play in your browser) to the next level, but what about social gaming networking sites? Many game companies, like Blizzard, have taken advantage of places like MySpace, but what about the sites focused purely on more traditional gaming such as RPGBomb or RPGLife, who's primary audience is Tabletop, Miniatures and RPG. Why aren't more game companies there? Is it a lack of awareness, or are these sites just seen as communities trying to grab at the latest marketing fad to ward off their supposedly diminishing customer base?"
greymond writes: It appears that a lot of the disgruntled 3rd party publishers may have caused WoTC to rethink their policies and procedures within the GSL. It's nice to know that some companies do listen, of course when you have the help of producers like Paizo complaining it can help quite a lot. Of course, who is to say that they won't just come out with something more restrictive?
WoTC News Post
greymond writes: I recently received an email from a recruiting company for a Graphic Design / Desktop Publishing position. While I have my resume available online as well as pieces of my portfolio I didn't find it at all strange to receive this initial email. I hadn't responded by the afternoon when I received a call from a lady named Pyra who asked me to send her my latest resume because they were very interested in hiring me. I asked about the positions pay since the job title and position seemed like it would be a lot lower pay grade than my current Art Director position I now hold. She said she would inquire about it, but to please send my resume.
Now here is where it gets strange...I sent my resume off (note: my resume has only my name, number and email listed in it — no address) I then received this email asking for my Social Security Number. I found this to be VERY odd as no one ever has asked me for that, save the human resource manager of a company who has already hired me. When I told her I would wait until the interview to give it to them, I was then sent this email which had this letter attached to it. I responded with the same response and needless to say I haven't heard back from them.
Oh and in case my bandwidth gets blown up, the recruiting company was Agneto and the company they were hiring for was supposedly AT&T. So, is this really just a new elaborate scam or just a really bad new business policy?
greymond writes: "With the merger of RPGNow and Drivethrurpg into Onebookshelf.com is the future of Pen and Per gaming moving towards PDF's or will this continue to be a niche market? From a positive perspective it would seem like the market share has been growing, with the new site boasting of a combined 11% market share of all RPG sales. On the flip side, the current growth could simply have come from the influx of major players like WoTC, Privateer Press and White Wolf making many of their books available on these two sites in PDF format over the last couple years. (see original Slashdot article on that two years ago here)
And what about the Independent publishers? With the ability for virtually anyone to signup as a "vendor" and self publish a game, what type of impact has the quality of these indie publishers caused on the overall market? Will it bolster influence and growth in the online pdf sales market or will it hurt this enterprise?"