Geek News

New Tools for Dungeon Masters

Date: Sun, 18th December 2016

Its finally here - the major upgrade to DM tools from Immortal Geek. Now we have a suite of map, story, party and NPC management tools that integrate smoothly and allow you to plan and track your tabletop games, and to help provide map resources to your players.

Coupled with the players tools for diary management and access to character sheets, ImmortalGeek.com now provides a set of tools to enhance the games of players and gamesmasters alike.

What's included:

  • Story management tools that allow you to build episodic adventures as a set of small, easy-to-run units. Each story can be built up from episodes that you define separately under the story umbrella, the stories are presented together in easy-to-navigate units that bring all the top-level story information together for quick access.
  • Management of Player Characters, organise them into parties, and assign those parties to your adventures. See quickly and easily who is involved with which stories.
  • Map management allows you to draw your own maps and upload them. You can embed the maps images into your adventure episode descriptions, and the simple mapping tools allow you to show regions of your map to the players. This provides mapping support for your users, allowing them to see just what they can see - and also enables other technology such as using a projector to display your map on a large screen or directly onto the game table.
  • NPC management allowing you to define NPCs in a free format, then include them in your adventure episode descriptions making them easy to access at the appropriate time.
  • Notes management allowing you to define notes and attach them to your player characters, non-player characters and adventures like never before. You can embed your maps, characters and NPCs into your notes and have them displayed when the note is read.

This is a major upgrade and the map management tools require a modern web browser with HTML5 support, which is most of the major browsers in use today. Sign up today and request DM access. This feature is still available without subscription for the time being.

These tools are in addition to the already available player diary reading and management system which allows users to subscribe for their favourite story updates from the game players.

Shapeshifters? Temporal Shapeshifters?

Date: Thu, 29th September 2016

No, not the polymorph/shape-shifting game mechanic, this is real science. There are materials that change their shape in response to external influences such as changes in temperature, such as memory metals, that have been around for a while. The magazine Nature has just published an article in which some very clever boffins have detailed a way to make materials that will change shape according to programmed rules over time. The fascinating article can be read on the Nature website here.

Programmable temporal shapeshifting is a subject of fantasy that science is attempting to resolve - and this is definitely an interesting subject. Surely it's only a few short steps from here to a real 'Polymorph Any Object'... I really hope the scientists are also working on a version of Dimension Door to get me into work a bit quicker. And a version of Scorching Ray to help me make a cup of tea really quickly.

The Hubble Space Telescope, Happy Birthday

Date: Sat, 25th April 2015

It's hard to believe, but the Hubble Space Telescope is 25 years old. Many of us remember it being launched into orbit from the space shuttle, then all the problems and repairs needed to sort out the optics. It was an expensive mess at the time, but it'd be hard to find anyone in the science community today that doesn't think it was worth every last dime. As a special event, NASA has released a 25th anniversary image, which you can take a look at here on the ESA Hubble page. Many years ago the plan for the Hubble was very different to today's expectation. It's reached its major milestone, and the outlook for it now is grim.

The original plan was to recover the Hubble telescope using the space shuttle and put it on display in one of NASA's museums. This, of course, is no longer possible. Unless there are any unexpected developments on the space vehicle front, then the current plan is to allow it to break up and return to Earth in pieces, where it would burn up in the atmosphere as it falls. While this is an ignominious end for a piece of space hardware, it's hard to see any other way to safely dispose of it.
While The Hubble has been superseded, it has had a profound impact on modern science. It has been at the forefront some some of the most important recent discoveries about our universe, especially in seeing deeper and further back in time than we'd ever had chance to before, and being part of the discovery of hundreds planets orbiting distant stars.
The technology moves on, but the HST's place in history is secure.

The Hype Awakens as a Film Trailer is Released

Date: Sat, 29th November 2014

Star Wars is back (or it will be very soon). The Force Awakens, if you didn't already know, is the first film of the new Disney franchise, and it's our duty as geeks to get excited about it. Fortunately the trailer, available on YouTube, makes that really easy.

The worrying presence of Disney over this project is completely allayed by the selection of JJ Abrams as the film's director. Judging by the enticing trailer, this is going to be spectacular, and genuinely true to the look, style and feel of the original three movies. My inner geek is already jumping like a seven year old on Christmas Eve. And it's another year until the film goes on release.

When it's Time to Upgrade your Computer

Date: Wed, 29th October 2014

For most of us the signal to upgrade might be that we're falling behind while playing the latest computer games. Or that spreadsheet with our taxes on it takes longer to calculate than making a cup of tea. But how can you tell when that's needed for a commercial or industrial computer?

For the Met Office, it's the same as for us - except that in their case its not having to turn down the graphics detail level that gives the game away. It's the slow addition of improvements to the climate and weather models making existing calculations take longer and longer. Their new upgrade is a whopping £97 million, it's produced by Cray, and is explained a little on here on the BBC's website. This thing would tear up the latest Assassin's Creed or Call of Duty...

More tool updates for Diary users

Date: Thu, 23rd October 2014

More tool updates have been applied to the Immortal Geek website today. To give diary writers the opportunity to express themselves more clearly we've rolled out a wiki-like markup extension to the diary editor. The tags are quite straightforward, and are intended to be easy to use. If you have a diary then give them a try and let us know what you think.

The tag descriptions are included at the bottom of the diary article page (they're not applied to diary descriptions, only individual diary entries) and allow you to specify headings, text styles and lists. There is no call for a full-on wiki style markup tag scheme (there are too many things that a wiki can do that we don't support) but this should provide some flexibility in the the way you communicate your heroics to your readers.
Updating the output formatter for diary entries may have had a minor impact on the way your diary entries are presented to readers. We urge all diary writers to check their entries to ensure that they still look as good as originally intended. If they have been affected, then you can edit them safely and use the new markup methods without affecting what you previously wrote.

Your own personal figurine... of you.

Date: Thu, 23rd October 2014

Body scanners... who want them eh? Well it turns out that supermarkets are after them. There is a market for scanning their customers, and in the best possible way, according to this article over at Computerworld.

For just a few quid you can have your body scanned, digitised, and then reproduced as a full colour miniature for posterity. Of course, in the world of gaming, this opens up a whole new range of possibilities. At the moment these are 6 inch or 9 inch figures being produced. But what if they were 15 mm figures? You could do away with table top lead, and your character can actually be you.
Well, maybe that won't catch on, but this is likely to be an eye-catching use of technology at your local supermarket soon. I wonder if they store the digital images anywhere after you've been 'printed'?

New Tools and Updates

Date: Sat, 18th October 2014

A new round of site-wide updates have been applied, and there are new features and other tweaks across the website.

The list of changes applied in this update are:

  • The addition of tools for use by game players - at the moment this only provides access to a small set of character sheets. If there are files that you'd like to see added here, feel free to submit them.
  • A re-work of the site styles and layouts has been carried out. There are fewer html styles in use now, and redundant ones have been cleared from the CSS style-sheets. As the layouts are now much simpler, it's resulted in a slightly faster operating website, we hope you enjoy it.
  • The web site has been relocated to an hosted server out in the wilds of the internet. The server host is bhost.net, and their service has been excellent over the past few weeks since we moved.
  • Updated server certificates - we've had difficulties with expired SSL certificates from StartSSL.com, and as a result we've temporarily installed a self-signed certificate. This has the advantage of being content-accurate as it matches the site completely, but on the downside it is no longer signed by a trusted Certificate Authority, and so will give rise to certificate warnings when used. Please bear with us while we resolve on this, but as always the standard advice is do not log onto this site (or, indeed, any other) without using an SSL (i.e. an https) connection, as your password will be visible in transit.

There are more changes about to land very soon too - we've been working hard on some useful DM tools which are nearly ready, and a vastly improved editor mark-up method.

New Feature: Subscribing to Diaries is now active

Date: Fri, 28th February 2014

Are you sick of seeing the latest updates to the diaries you read at Immortal Geek passing by without you knowing that they've been updated? Well now we've implemented the ideal solution - you can subscribe to your favourite diaries, and we will then send you an email whenever the diary's author publishes a new entry.

You need to be logged-in to use this feature (as your email address is stored as a part of your account) and you need to have your Immortal Geek email preferences ticked (on the Account Settings page, which appears on the left after you've logged in) because turning this off prevents us sending you any emails other than account servicing ones. Oh, and you can't subscribe to your own diaries... but then, why would you want to - you already know when a new diary entry that you wrote has been posted.
As a diary writer, emails are only sent out when you publish a diary entry (and they'll get sent again if you un-publish a diary entry then publish it again, so all your subscribers will know that the entry is updated).
The button to enable a subscription to the diaries appears on the page where you read it - both on the diary's own list page, and on the individual diary entry reading page. They both operate the same setting, so you should see the effects of subscribing straight away (and the option will change to an un-subscribe option, allowing you to turn off a diary subscription immediately).
Of course, we also have to provide a proper unsubscribe page too, just in case anyone types their email address in wrong and the notices go to the wrong person. Using this page will turn off both your Immortal Geek email preference settings (and you can turn them on individually later if you wish).

So... What Really is a Higgs Boson Particle?

Date: Wed, 26th February 2014

Most people cannot answer this questions, its wrapped in the mysteries of science, tied up with the maths of fundamental particles and linked to wave theory. What we could really do with is someone who understands particle physics who can communicate it all to us effectively.

A while ago PhDComics.com tried to do just that. And, because they didn't get it all completely right, and because of a recent chance meeting, they've had another go. Here is the result, and it's the best damn explanation I've ever read about Higgs particles. It's actually understandable and doesn't involve very hard physics. Which is a relief for most of us. Enjoy the article.

Immortal Geek Major Site Update Completed

Date: Sat, 15th February 2014

If you are a regular visitor you might notice a few changes here especially if you log-in regularly. A site update has just been completed, we've fixed several minor niggles and tidied up a few things. For those not logged in the changes are minimal - this rolled-out version is 0.9.7, and is a stake in the ground for us. We have a target for certain tools to be available for the 1.0.0 update which won't be too far off, but they're not quite ready yet - and we wanted to make sure that the main site is working as expected following our recent move to the new blade server (thanks to our user 'Zoltran' for that, btw.)

The update includes changes in these areas:

  • Code fixes to the character diary editor to allow diary updates to be applied without failures
  • Updates to the look and feel of the site, including a new theme selection which is available to all logged on users under Account Settings (give them a try)
  • Improvements to the news system, allowing news to be laid out more easily, hence making it easier to read
  • Tweaks and fixes to the character and party managers for DMs that should improve reliability going forwards.
  • Additional help text and explanations on many pages to make the site tools easier to use.
  • Streamlined the database access code for users, channelling more of the database requests through standard methods rather than a wide range of custom ones, this should improve reliability
  • Moved to an HTTPS address, this change is reflected in the welcome emails - the http address still works too (but is not recommended if you're logging in).

While this is a step forward for all our users, we don't think we've done everything perfectly just yet. So if you do find problems then drop an email to 'bugs' at ImmortalGeek.com. You can also use that address if you think a feature could be improved, or if there is a new tool you think would compliment your existing toolset. The more clearly you describe what's happening the more quickly we can resolve any problems.

EU Clarifies Copyright Law Regarding Hyperlinks with New Ruling

Date: Fri, 14th February 2014

It's official. Here in the European Union the posting of links to content on other sites, and the embedding of site data on your website has been ruled not to be a breach of copyright or subject to royalty payments. I think I can now, safely, post a link to this ruling on the EU court website, it's here.

To most of us, this is just plain common sense - that you're not breaching anyone's copyright if you tell people where to find what they're looking for. There are a couple of exceptions, the most notable one being that if the stuff is supposed to be protected and paid for, but a link is used to circumvent any security, then it's definitely excluded from this ruling. But that's just small-fry. It would seem that the guys from The Pirate Bay were right all along - just giving people links to stuff isn't illegal. Hosting copyright stuff that you've no rights to provide for free exchange is illegal. That, as I said before, is just common sense.
I particularly like ruling 2, right at the bottom. It says that individual governments cannot overrule this judgement to give away more rights to copyright holders.


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