Coded green.

Saturday 3 November 2001

Chocolate pudding pyramid

Pic of the day: There are several theories on what inspired the Egyptian pyramids. The alien spaceship theory is pretty much out, I think. Recently I read that they resembled natural mountain formations in Sahara, where the first Egyptians perhaps came from. But now I have the evidence: They were inspired by Tine's chocolate pudding! Here covered in thick vanilla sauce, as is good and proper.

Swarming day

If this entry is shorter than usual, it is not just because it is late on Saturday night. No, blame the finger. My right ring finger is still hurting a little, for reasons unknown. It started doing that the night before yesterday, just after I went to bed. It does not hurt bad, but fingertips are very sensitive. It feels like whatever causes the pain is under the nail, and any pressure makes it flare up. You have no idea how ingrained touch typing is in me. I've done it for decades, pretty near daily. The fingers get seriously confused if I try to make them take one another's job.

Luckily I have StarOffice's spell checker to help me catch the worst typos. But a good auto-complete feature would have been nifty for days like this, and I suppose for all the millions of unfortunates who don't type well. I have an auto-complete on Cassie, but it suffers from one glaring fault: It does not offer the most common small words, such as "the" or "and". This may make sense until you actually use it. Let us face it, when your write a "t" after a space, it would not hurt to get up "the " and save two pecks with the stylus in virtually every sentence. It does add up over a few days.


Now, those pyramids. I have been playing Civ2 again. I was watching the Civ3 message boards over at Apolyton, and someone complained about the corruption being far too high. (Others disagreed, but it is generally agreed that it is higher than in Civ2. Most notably, there are no longer any corruption-free governments. I'm afraid this is realistic ... even in democracies, there are some shady deals going on.) Anyway, one player hinted that it could be an attempt to stop people from using the cheat-like strategy of swarming with size 1 cities.

I did not even know there was such a cheat. There is indeed an imbalance in the earlier Civ games, in that any city has one worker free (the city tile is always worked). But this is corrected by raising the human cost of making a settler from 1 to 2 people points in Civ3. I seemed to remember that corruption was higher the more cities you had already in Civ2, but I realize now that it was probably the unrest I remembered. Because people sure get restless as your empire grows.

I did of course try the swarm trick. I could barely wait till I had taken my daily walk. Then I started a new game (Vikings, on the Europe map) and began swarming. Well, it does offer an advantage. I played on King level (where you are at a slight disadvantage versus the computer opponents) and after a while I did outrank them in the power graph. But all too soon it turned into a nightmare of micromanagement, as corruption and unrest paralyzed more and more of the outlying cites. When I had swarmed my way all across Scandinavia to Saami-land, the one citizen in the new cities were unhappy even when patrolled by 3 military units, and there was not enough income to provide luxuries, and I could of course not build any structures such as temples since the worker was on strike ...

I did get the Great Library built, though, and then saved up for Statue of Liberty when democracy came around. Once I was back in my familiar Fundamentalism, the unrest disappeared and the graph went skyward. I'm not sure how people manage to use this strategy at Deity level. It is rather frustrating. If people are willing to do this to win a computer game, more power to them.


On a related note, I'm not sure this would work in real life ... but I am convinced that there is a bonus to keeping a business small, at least. I've seen plenty of cases in the bureaucracy, where a large office with dozens of workers is plagued by confusion, over-reporting, over-management, under-management, and pulverized responsibility and morale. If you can get people to specialize without losing sight of the higher goal, large size may be good. But if not, it is all bad. On the extreme end, a 1 man business can do most of the planning and reporting internally in the 1 brain. You don't get more efficient than that. (Well, depending on the brain perhaps.)

Oops. My hand hurts, and I should anyway stop before I write an essay on the nature of business and bureaucracy ... Good night everybody!

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