Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 Year in Review - Books read

These are the books I completed this past year according to goodreads:


  1. The Ghost Brigades - John Scalzi
  2. A Memory of Light - Brandon Sanderson
  3. The Human Division - John Scalzi (Episodic serialization of novel, 13 episodes)
  4. Questions for a Soldier - John Scalzi
  5. After the Coup - John Scalzi
  6. Chieftains - Robert Webb
  7. The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson
  8. Pawn of Prophecy - David Eddings
  9. Queen of Sorcery - David Eddings
  10. Magician's Gambit - David Eddings
  11. Castle of Wizardry - David Eddings
  12. Enchanter's Endgame - David Eddings
  13. Football Manager Stole my Life
  14. The Two Moons - James Hogan
  15. The Two Worlds - James Hogan
  16. Just a Geek - Wil Wheaton
  17. Mission to Minerva - James Hogan
  18. Masters of Doom - David Kushner
  19. Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
  20. SSN - Tom Clancy
  21. Insanely Great - Stephen Levy
  22. Chicken Little - Cory Doctorow
  23. Codespell - Kelly McCullough
  24. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
  25. Command and Control - Eric Shlosser
  26. Stay Awhile and Listen, book 1 - David Craddock
  27. Will You Manage? The Necessary Skills to be a Great Gaffer - Musa Okwonga 
Totalling 9976 pages. There are a number of books started, that have yet to be finished. Perhaps a new year's resolution should be to do a better job of finishing up books that I have started to read.

I really enjoyed Sanderson's The Way of Kings. Scalzi's Human Division series was okay. I apparently read a lot in the old man's war universe this year. A Memory of Light was a decent ending to the Wheel of Time saga. Eddings and Stephenson are old favorites that I return to every once in a while. Ready Player One wasn't the greatest writing, but I can see it being a guilty pleasure in the future like Mark Fabi's Wyrm from the late 90s. This year I finally finished the whole Giants' series from Hogan which I enjoyed.

Genre totals:

History - 1
Sci Fi - 10
Fantasy - 8
Tech - 3
Soccer - 2
Military Fiction - 2
Bio - 1

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Road to Foot to Ball Glory (Part 2)


As Tamworth settled in to the idea of being back in Blue Square North, a lot of changes were made to the squad. The board decided to drop back to being a semi-pro team and dropped the budget from $12k to $10k. Every player who had a contract up for renewal had to be released on a free, because they all demanded more than the club was willing to pay them. That left me with a squad of about 6 players and a month to build some form of team to field this upcoming season. Luckily those that had contracts lasting past the just finished season were some of the best players on the team, so a nucleus was there to form something decent for BSN.

I proceeded to scour the listings for any deals possible, and signed a number of players, and even got a couple decent players on loan for the season. I am still a couple grand under budget so I have some space to work with. We played 4 friendlies going 0-1-3. We drew against a BSP team, lost to 2 non-league teams and lost to Leyton Orient of League 1.

The season started with a game against Cambridge City, which we won. So we started things off on the right foot in BSN. The fans aren't too broken up about the moves made with the squad during the offseason, so if the team can gel together and make a respectable showing this year I might even avoid being sacked. It remains to be seen how this all will affect my reputation as a manager.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Road to Foot to Ball Glory



I have been playing the latest edition of the sports management soccer game Football Manager lately. For the start I took over the manager role at Farnborough in Blue Square South as I'd previously done a couple of years ago. Unfortunately I didn't do my due diligence prior to that decision. Farnborough were a team in a horrible state financially, so there was no money available to make any adjustments with the squad.

The board expectations were minimal with them looking for a mid-table finish, and rather early exits in the various cup competitions we would be involved with. The team got off to a decent start though, and kept playing well. By November we were top of the table and managed to stay there through the holiday season despite a rash of injuries on top of the brutal schedule. At this level it is almost about just scoring more than the other side as defenses and goalies tend to be atrocious. Once we made through that patch which I considered to be the roughest spot, the team lost its way. By the end of the season we had drifted down the table a bit, and only secured a spot in the promotion playoffs by beating the league winning team Chelmsford on the final day of games. We were scheduled to play Dover in the 1st round of the playoffs, and won the 1st leg at home 2-1. The second was 2-3 at the end of regulation and extra time, and a penalty shootout was required, with Dover taking the honors.

After the season it was time to deal with contracts and the salary budget. Though the board was very pleased with our results, they refused to give more money to the cause. With pretty much the entire team up for contract renewal and all of them wanting more money, I decided to resign and try my luck elsewhere.



Not long after my abrupt departure Tamworth in Blue Square Premiere came calling, and I had another job and team to manage. Tamworth have a budget about 3 times the size of the Farnborough budget, but they are also having financial troubles. We were a ways over budget on salary so I dropped 2 players  to start off and get us closer to the goal budget. I will have to take time now to look at the team and see who can go and who stays and perhaps get some salary budget space to bring in some fresh faces and start to put my stamp on the team. Looking at the league table I can't tell if we are still in Blue Square Premiere or if they were relegated this season. If relegated I imagine we will definitely be top contenders for promotion back to the BSP (Edit: taking a look, they were relegated on 4.1.2013, the last manager was sacked on 5.9.2013 and I was hired on 5.25.2013).

One funny thing to note was that my reputation has already jumped to regional status with just my 1 season at Farnborough. I guess having an American almost manage the side to promotion was a news worthy story.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Road to Minsk

 

I decided recently to start to tackle Gary Grigsby’s War in the East. So after playing the short tutorial I moved on to the first of a series of scenarios titled “The Road to …”. This first one is very short, requiring you to achieve your objectives in 3 turns.

Below is a map of the situation at the beginning of the game.

Rd_to_Minsk_start

The objectives are to capture Minsk, and a set of points along the eastern border of the map. It doesn’t really leave you time to try and encircle the bulge of Soviet forces in the center of the line. Below I have included a map showing where the objectives are located (Red are Soviet, Blue are German).

Rd_to_Minsk_map_objs

My plan was for two main thrusts. One from the south, attacking through Brest-Litvosk, then skirting along the northern edge of the Pripyat marshes and heading for the Berezina river. In the north, there would be an attack along the Kaunas – Vilnuis axis, then a move towards Minsk with a secondary force heading for Vitebsk. Other forces, consisting mainly of slower infantry units, would try to pocket and shatter as many troops in the Soviet bulge on the main line as possible.

Rd_to_Minsk_plan

In the end I achieved a victory. I’m not sure I utilized my air power as well as I could have. My armor units did a great job keeping to the timetable needed to accomplish the scenario objectives, and I was able to keep them supported as they made their way to the eastern border and their objectives.

Rd_to_Minsk_end

I didn’t move some of the units involved in shattering the bulge, or some units that were to push on to Minsk in the last turn since Minsk was already captured, and the scenario was ending.

Overall a fun game. They really have seemed to make it easy to play. I know there is a lot of stuff still to learn about air power, and force structure management, but they have made moving and attacking really easy to do in this game, and it was relatively quick to play through the scenario.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gaming Update for the Fall

The fall has brought a lot of fun new games out. I haven't had much time to play, but here are some games I have spent time with recently:


  • Crusader Kings II - I picked this up in a Steam sale. It is a fairly complex game simulating dynastic geopolitics of the middle ages. In my initial attempt while reading through an LP on somethingawful I quickly found myself in trouble. A region in my command soon revolted, and I had gone on the warpath against a neighbor that I didn't have the ability to defeat. You have to handle things with your family, managing the marriage of people, placing them into posts, dealing with threats from family members, and threats from outside your realm. Despite my disastrous initial attempt, this looks like it will be a game that will be entertaining for a long time.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown - Firaxis did a superb job in their remake of this classic game. It is fun and the missions are short enough that you can pop in and do a quick one if you don't have a lot of time. My initial game is probably up in the air at this point, as I didn't get a good grasp on the strategic part of the game soon enough, but it is still fun to see how far I can go, and then I will try again. My team has suffered pretty high attrition the past couple of months, with a lot of veterans being lost. We have started to get some tech improvements though which should help, but we are also facing much tougher opposition now.
  • Torchlight 2 - I have had some fun playing Torchlight 2 as well. It is a very nice ARPG, and runic has done a fine job with their sequel to their initial game. I have seen comments elsewhere that this is the true sequel to Diablo. I have never played the earlier Diablo games so I have no authority to comment on the veracity of that statement.
  • The Operational Art of War - I have been spending time with Norm Koger's classic wargame lately as I have been in my military history mood. This is the Matrix edition that came out in 2006.
  • Squad Battles: Falklands - A John Tiller title covering small unit actions in the Falklands campaign.

Reading update for the Fall

I've been doing a lot of reading lately, so here is an update of the books I have finished in the past couple of months.


  • Tank Farm Dynamo - A sf short story by David Brin.
  • Mind of War - A biography of John Boyd. This was a great book that covered a lot of what Col. Boyd had accomplished in his life, from setting up the AF fighter tactics school, designing the F-15 and F-16, and being a proponent of maneuver warfare and the OODA cycle.
  • Cybermancy - Book #2 in Kelly McCullough's Webmage series.
  • The Bitter Woods - John Eisenhower's wonderful operational history of the Ardennes campaign.
  • Sherman Invades Georgia - Part history of Sherman's Atlanta campaign, and part workbook on the modern military decision making process and its use in the study of historical campaigns.
  • Vortex - Larry Bond book about an attempt to turn back the clock as apartheid appears to be ending in South Africa. Larry Bond was a big part of Tom Clancy's early success and after the collaboration on Red Storm Rising he started to work on his own books.
  • Red Phoenix - Another Larry Bond book, this one focusing on a 2nd war in Korea late in the Cold War.
  • A Mathematician's Apology
  • Guide to the Literature of Mathematics and Physics - a book I read about on the physicsforums site. The beginning of it talks about how to go about reading these books and self study, and then the bulk of it details good books on a variety of subjects as of the year 1958.
  • Prime Obsession - John Derbyshire's book on the history of the Riemann Hypothesis.

I'm also at various stages of reading the following books:

  • The Art of Wargaming - Peter Perla's book on the history of wargaming.
  • Forward into Battle - Paddy Griffith's book on the evolution of battle from Napoleonic times to the 80s.
  • The Generals - Tom Ricks' book on American Generalship from WWII to present day, and how changes over time in the policy of removing officers has impacted the military.
  • The Signal and The Noise - Nate Silver's book pop sci book on statistical analysis.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Updates

I have been doing a horrible job updating this blog. So here are some updates:

1. New job -- After 12 years I left my job in the UNIX sustaining group at Stratus and went to work for Oracle in their Linux Kernel and Virtualization group, working on the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel team. I am working remotely from home which gives me the ability to see my daughter more than before. I have been working the new job for a month now. So far it seems to be going well.

2. Books that I have read recently -- Here are some books that I have read this year:

The World of Null-A by A.E. Van Vogt - old sf book that was entertaining to read.
Hackers & Painters by Paul Graham - Great collection of essays.
Black Swan by Bruce Sterling - okay sf short story
A Genius for War by Dupuy - Good book discussing the history of the German General Staff.
How to be a Programmer by Robert Read - pdf from online that was an okay read
The Google Resume by Gayle McDowell - Decent book on today's tech job market
Redshirts by John Scalzi - very entertaining sf book
The Cuckoo's Egg by Cliff Stoll - Always a great read
Makers by Cory Doctorow - ok book extrapolating the rise of the diy/maker culture
Why Good People Can't Get Jobs by Peter Cappelli - An interesting take on the jobs situation
Old Man's War by Scalzi - Another good sf book
WebMage by Kelly McCullough - A decent fantasy book that mixes cyber and magic
Team Geek by Ben Collins-Sussman and Brian Fitzpatrick - A great book about tech teams and being a team member
Griftopia by Matt Taibbi - Probably the best explanation of the causes of the financial crisis that there is

3. Games I have been playing -- I haven't spent much time on games this year, but here are some I have been playing lately:

FTL - A roguelike where you control a spaceship and crew. Very quick and entertaining.
Guild Wars 2 - Probably the 1st MMO that has really caught me outside of WoW.
Diablo 3 - Good mindless fun.

4. Games I am looking forward to in the future -- Here are some games coming out in the future that I am looking forward to:

X-Com: Enemy Unknown -- Finally it looks like someone is doing a good follow up to X-com.
Torchlight II - Should be an entertaining arpg.
Borderlands 2 - The first game was fun and had a lot of style, so hopefully they will hit all the right notes again with the sequel.
Planetary Annihilation - Just finished a kickstarter. Total Annihilation type rts on a galactic scale.
Wasteland 2 - Another kickstarter project, making a sequel to on of the great games of the 80s.
Clang - A kickstarter project by Neal Stephenson that is trying to make a sword fighting game.
Grim Dawn - A kickstarter project making an ARPG from the same guys that made Titan Quest.