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xkcd must have found my blog project....

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On Christmas I decided to spend most of my holidays fixing some bugs for my blog and to include some more markup options. I ended up looking a lot at others peoples code and noticed how "unusual" my coding style was.
I came to the same conclusion as the self-taught person in the comic, but had already written hundreds of lines of code .

Comic by xkcd
Posted on - Categories: Geekery

I hate power point

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Just spent 15 min trying to transport our 10 slogans for the IWW Ísland "Know your rights" campaign to power point. Should have been a simple copy - paste job. Weird newlines everywhere. Not possible to reformat text. Gave up after 15 min for 2 slides and still not in right format. I refuse to use this piece of shit ever again.

So when I came home from work I decided to see if Libre Office would do this better. And behold! I copied the text into the slide and no unwanted newlines in sight. Time used: 15 min. Impulses to throw my computer against the wall: 0

Icelandic Catan

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Apparently "Settlers of Catan" was inspired by the settlement of Iceland. I guess this is why sheep is one of the resources. I decided to take the theme further and make a Viking Age inspired scenario for Catan. Playtime is ca 90 minutes.

Set up

The two settlements at the beginning are placed in Iceland (main island). I used the most common numbers for Iceland, to make the game a bit quicker, the other islands do not have any numbers yet. At the beginning of the game one gets the resource of both settlements and a knight. If a number is rolled which is not on the board, the dice are rolled again. The numbers for the smaller islands are in a bag, leaving out the 2s and 12s.

The normal seafarer extension rules apply to building and moving ships and the Longest Road card. To win one needs 12 points.

Gold coins are a resource, which can be acquired on gold fields hexes or by rolling a 7. They can be exchanged like any other resource.

One can only hold 10 resource cards (not including knights/gold) and resources are not dealt to players on the hand limit.
One cannot have more than 2 development cards.

The knights are a resource now, costing one sheep, one grain and one ore (like a development card) the other development cards cost 3 gold.

Trading, raiding and settling
These are the main changes. Vikings always considered the circumtances. Sometimes they would find it more worthwhile to trade with the locals, sometimes thy would raid them and sometimes they would settle the countries they travelled to.
If one reaches a hex of one of the smaller islands with a shipping lane or a road one can start trading. One trades two (of the same) resource with one of the resource of the hex on the shipping lane (like a reversed 2 for one port).
Example: White can now trade two sheep (ore, mud, wood) for one corn
To raid one uses a knight, takes one of the resources of the hex and blindly picks a number out of the bag. One knight raids one hex. The knights are kept and the Largest Army card used as before. As long as one has the end of ones shipping lane on the hex, one gets the resource of the hex when the number is rolled. If another players shipping lane also ends on the raided hex, this player will also get a resource when the number of the hex is rolled.
Example: Orange will always get wood when a 11 is rolled as long as it is positioned on this hex. It can still trade for ore on the hex above.
New settlements on the small islands can only be built on hexes which have numbers. Which means on intersections of two or more hexes, settlements can only be built when all the hexes on that intersection have numbers. Once a hex is settled it cannot be raided anymore.
Example: White just placed a settlement on the wheat and mud hexes. Too bad for orange, it cannot raid mud anymore
Once the bag with the extra numbers is empty the 2s and 12s are placed on the remaining hexes and raiding is not possible anymore in this game, only settling.

Rolling a 7
What happens when one rolls a 7 depends on the dice combination:

1 and 6: Volcanic eruption
everyone loses a sheep. The person who rolled a 7 gets one gold and determines a hex in Iceland where the volcanic eruption occurs and turns the number around. The hex will not produce any resources until another volcanic eruption occurs (like the robber) or one of the players uses 2 mud to stem the lava flow.

2 and 5: Bad weather
The person who rolled a 7 gets one gold and takes a road or a ship of another player away. The road or ship can only be taken away in and around Iceland (the ship needs to touch Iceland to be eligible to be taken away). It is not possible to build on roads or shipping lanes which are not connected to settlements or cities.
Example: Here orange had a ship taken away, which means it can neither trade for ore nor raid for wood, nor settle.
If a ship is taken away from a closed shipping lane (between two settlements) it is open again and the ships can be moved.

3 and 4: Feud among Vikings
The person who rolled a 7 gets one gold and "kills" one of the other players knights. (return a played knight to the deck). Check if this effects who has the Largest Army card

Gold free variation
The gold fields give a resource of ones choice
When a 7 is rolled one gets a resource of ones choice
Knights are mixed together with developments cards which cost one ore, one sheep and one corn

The rules can be downloaded as pdf here

4 pros and cons of the blog directories I use(d)

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After I decided to extend my blog beyond a way to inform my friend and family I'm still alive and well, I signed up to three blog aggregating websites.

Two of those Expat Blog and BlogExpat are specifically for "Expat" bloggers. I mentioned before that I do not particular like calling myself an expat, as it is a classification solely based on social-status and ethnicity as also pointed out in this article in the Guardian.

Of those two Expat Blog is the more active one, which means more exposure for my blog and more possible interaction via the forum. However the script they use to parse the RSS feeds of the blogs they aggregate seems flawed. Mainly it does not parse RSS feeds when https is used and these blogs recent posts do not turn up on the webpage. Considering uses https as a default, it means already all of blogs feeds are not shown, which are a lot.

Bloglovin is basically a glorified feed reader. It reads my feed well and presents it really nicely. Some bugs/missing features:
- There are three copies of my blog listed in several stages of up to dateness. Confusing.
- One can only chose one category for the blog. Common categories like" Politics" or "Technology" are missing.
- Interaction with bloggers only over third party apps.
- I have no likes yet . You can change that:

I never signed up on Expatsblogs. I tried to, but after having their button for a week on my website (it was required of me, something none of the other services did) and feeling tired of giving them advertisement I removed it and never heard from them again.

Basically McCarthyism

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The other day me and my friend Steffi, who is here on an internship for the Reykjavik Grapevine, went to a showing of the documentary Silenced organized by IMMI (International Modern Media Institute ). My friend is writing a series of articles about IMMI, which is why we were there. IMMIs goal is to make Iceland into a " journalistic safe haven, protecting both freedom of expression as well as freedom of information".

The documentary was long. I do not like documentaries much. I find them emotionally manipulating, even when agreeing with the subject matter. Fortunately the director (who hilariously is called "Spione" the German word for "spies") did not pretend otherwise, but said:

I'm not a journalist, I'm a documentary filmmaker.

I found two things noticeable in this film.
First, I was surprised by how surprised long standing government officials were by the actions of the institutions they worked for. First hysterical prosecution of any critics has been seen before. Basically it is McCarthyism all over again. You need to give us full unconditional support or are "aiding the enemy".
It is not astonishing that the main motivation of any institution is not efficiently performing the task it was perceived for, but growth and survival.
The hysterics of today, just as in McCarthyism earlier, serves the institutions well. It gives them an excuse to quiet critics and instead of being forced to operate competently they can force the public to give them more and more power.
Just as we have to go through expensive and invasive "security" measures, which do not actually improve security. Or how a lot of terrorist attacks could have been prevented, not by more surveillance, but by the institutions in the "intelligence community" not being incompetent.

Secondly, the documentary was a good reminder why IMMI is needed for an open discussion and evaluation of institutions by the public. during the panel afterwards the whistleblowers praised Iceland for IMMI and its stand for press freedom and whistleblower protection in general. Birgitta (chairman of IMMI) just smiled and nodded, which surprised me.

The development in the last years in Iceland can not be described as positive for press freedom or whistleblower protection.
A lot of the reforms needed for IMMI to become reality had been in the proposed constitution, which had not only been killed, but a new bizarre law had been pushed through that any changes to the constitution has to be agreed upon by 2/3rd of parliament and 40% of the population (not voters, anyone not voting is considered to have voted no).
Now the laws and reforms needed are bit by bit proposed and fought through parliament. It is a bit like pulling teeth. At the same time politicians started using every trick available to threaten news outlets. Threatening suing for libel, cutting funding or just making ex-party members editors in chief (see link below).
Iceland dropped from 8th to place 21 on the World Press Freedom Index. Earlier Reporters without Borders had voiced concern about the press freedom in Iceland,47248.html.

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