Whether it be social, recreational, or professional, some of what represents me is here. Post a comment, or contact me at should you so desire.

The posts are in reverse chronological order, and are pegged by topic on the links to the left. For more of an introduction, please see the About this site page listed above.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Critical Decision: Part 2


Sorry it's been so long since my last post, but I've been extremely busy. School, extra-curricular activities, life in general has been busier than usual lately, and I have some exciting news.

I'm moving to Alberta!

Say what!? Yes, it's true! I've been thinking about it a lot lately and I've decided that it's an exciting time and I am taking the opportunity that I have to try something new!

Remember the post I made some time ago outlining the fact that I was postponing my graduation until a later date? Well, basically, the only classes I have left to take before I graduate with my Bachelor in Applied Sciences at York are taught between January and April. That being said, I will have 8 months off between this May and December. My goal for the last few months has been to find a job, something that pays well and will give me a chance to add real engineering experience to my life and resumé. But, it's been difficult to find anything.

Some colleagues of mine suggested looking in places other than Ontario. I started looking out west and so far have been excited by the prospects. Apparently, engineering is all the rage out there, and the market is growing. I've only been looking for a short time but I've found more opportunities out west in a couple of weeks than I have found in Toronto and Ottawa combined in the last few months. Now, my timing may be a little off, trying to find a job in March to begin at the end of May, but I am persistent, and I am hopeful.

Additionally, I've been wanting to check out the universities out there as I've heard good things. My original plan was to go and visit a friend while I checked things out, but this works out better.

It's a little impulsive of me, but if you know me at all, you'll know that even my spontaneity is planned and that I don't make decisions lightly. I've been working on the details, big and small, and I am confident that I'll get through everything, most likely with a lot of help from my friends and family.

I look forward to trying something new. I love Toronto and have loved my time here, but I've been feeling a little stuck the last little while. It was only when I considered moving that I realized I felt this way, but making a change will be very good for me. I've been pushing myself to be better, to grow, to learn, and so I think moving out west might be a good chance to grow and learn some more.

I am not leaving Toronto forever. As I said, I have those classes to take, and am not just abandoning this city and my friends and family, but I am hoping this change gives me the strength and opportunity to reach out and explore different opportunities, ones which may have passed me by if I hadn't thought to look.

For those of you who might be able to make it, I will be hosting one last hurrah/birthday party later in April. I'll give you a lot of notice, and would be very happy if you could attend. Not only is it a celebration of the anniversary of my birth, and 25 at that, very exciting, but it is also going to be my chance to give back to you, and thank you for all you've done, and pledge my ongoing friendship with you.

And have no fear! I plan on having a lot of exciting adventures whilst out there! I will be updating this blog as much as possible, and I have so many things I want to do and see which I hope to share with you.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Creating a character you and your friends will love! Part Four: Becoming your character!

Dallas Kasaboski
Originally posted on D4sign, this is the blog post I've been working so hard to get to! It describes the process of taking that character sheet and working it into a memorable character. I hope you enjoy, thanks for reading!

The last three blog posts have been working toward this. I wrote those so we would be on equal footing at this point, but the entire purpose was to get you here. In my opinion, this is the most fascinating part of D&D, the development of a character, turning that character sheet into, well, one which you and your friends will love and remember/reference for campaigns to come!

So, let's just quickly review. You've made a character. You've spent so much time, maybe too much, poring over books and things and you've statistically made your character, all the appropriate boxes are filled in. On top of that, you've given some serious thought as to backstory. You've made a way for your character to fit into the DM's world and given your character some general motivation in life. Perhaps, you've thought of personality traits already, perhaps not. Either way, you are ready to play, but you're a little unsure.

What is my character like?

This question, and variations of it, come up so often in D&D. You want to role-play, but unless your character is you, or you're just a really good actor, you have no idea where to go from here. The Player's Handbook is generally good about what makes a character tick, asking questions to determine how you might handle certain situations. But, it's one thing to say, "My character is brave" and quite another to prove it. When it comes to showcasing your character, actions speak louder than words.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Creating a character you and your friends will love! Part Three: Powers, Feats, and Skills

Dallas Kasaboski
Originally published on the D4sign blog, see here, this post puts the finishing touches on character creation on paper, and moves toward becoming your character when you play!

So, last time, I gave you more or less the same information as the Player's Handbook when it comes to Class and Race. I tried to make it a little more interesting by providing some examples of my own experience.

Today's topic goes a little more in-depth, transitioning from the character sheet, to the performance at the table. I will start with a quick couple of words concerning choosing powers, feats, and skills.

As should be obvious, your choice of powers, feats, and skills is vitally important. It will affect how you play your character, what you can do, what you're good at, and thus will affect your character's personality. Obviously, you are free to choose whatever you want, but as much as I generally choose the features which will make my character more awesome, effective in and out of combat, I absolutely love the chance to harmonize my choices with my character's backstory and personality.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Creating a character you and your friends will love! Part Two: Class and Race

Dallas Kasaboski
Once again, this was originally posted on the D4sign blog. Should you wish to check this out there, or see other related posts, please give it a look at
D4sign: A D&D game design blog! 

Last time, we discussed some considerations you should have before even narrowing down any choices. Hopefully, after talking with the DM, and maybe the other players, you have interesting and exciting options in mind.

So, now you've got the books in front of you, or maybe the Character Builder program, and you want to create your character. Today, we will discuss Class and Race and I will provide you with some thoughts and tips concerning choosing what might be right for you.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Creating a character you and your friends will love! Part one: Considerations

Dallas Kasaboski
This was my first blog post on D4sign, a game review blog about Dungeons and Dragons! For more info, and to look at other related topics, please go here: D4sign: A Dungeons and Dragons game design blog

Whether you're familiar with D&D and character creation or not, this guide will attempt to provide some helpful tips and suggestions for making a character you will enjoy playing, and one which your friends will remember for years to come! Obviously, as the game changes over time, and different editions are added, the way you create your character can drastically change. But, this is 4e, so that's where we'll be putting our focus.

So, where to get started?

Sometimes, there are so many choices and options that it can be overwhelming. Let's look at potential first steps.

D&D 4th edition Design and Critique

Hey there, avid readers! A close friend of mine has created a blog wherein the elements of 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons will be discussed, criticized, and analyzed. Additionally, he has opened the forum to multiple authors and has invited yours truly!

It's a very exciting prospect, for anyone who enjoys the game, and I really look forward to reading and writing and sharing more about a game which I love so much!

Anything I write there will end up here, but I do encourage you to check out what others have to say! For more info, or if you're interested in becoming a contributing author, please check this out: D4sign: A Dungeons and Dragons game design blog.

-Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Unwanted attention

A guide for avoiding unwanted attention
The other day, a couple of my female friends were complaining about unwanted attention they had received from strangers, whether it be on the bus/subway, or just generally. They seemed to have a particularly difficult time with this problem, so I decided to give it some thought.

Now, before we go too far, I will point out that this article begins and is expressed from the perspective of a man, me, about the problem of women garnering unwanted attention (typically from men) and how to deal with it.

The first thing we have to acknowledge is that every situation is different and that there are varying levels of unwanted attention. I will try to break these situations down as best I can and provide tips/strategies as to how to avoid/dissuade the attention.

Person asking questions
Sometimes, you just want to be left alone, to your thoughts, to your Temple Run/Angry Bird(s), or to Wilson Pickett's Hold On playing on your iPod, when somebody asks you a question. "Is that seat taken?" "Does this bus go to...[insert street name here]?" You don't want to be rude, but you also don't want to talk to this person, or maybe to anyone. So, what do you do?

Well, social etiquette demands/politely asks that you respond to the person. There is too much rudeness and distance in today's society, and in this case, the person just needs some information. In this case, if you can, I think you should just answer the question to the best of your ability and then go back to whatever you were doing. In this case, the person just wants to know something simple and upon hearing the answer they needed or that you don't know, they'll move on and leave you alone. To ignore the person is itself rude, and while we might not always want to talk to someone, how terrible would it be if you needed some information and no one was willing to give it?

However, sometimes, people aren't just looking for information...

Striking up a conversation
Whether it be that ultra-friendly person who likes to talk, or that creep on the bus asking you your name, sometimes, people are talking to you because they want to, not because they want a simple question answered.

So, what do you do to avoid talking to them? Or to get them to stop? Well, the first thing you have to realize is that people are unobservant and sometimes don't recognize social cues. The second thing you have to realize is that you must adjust your behaviour according to the situation.

Here are my strategies, in order of escalating action:
  • ignore them/put on earphones - This is the least effective method as it only gets a person to stop talking if they sense and share your disinterest. If they're aware enough to see that you are disinterested, maybe they'll stop, thinking, "Oh, this person doesn't want to talk to me, I'll stop wasting my time." Unfortunately, really friendly people, lonely people, and/or the stubborn, do not pick up on this. 
  • Make/pretend to make/take a phone call - this is a rather effective strategy. Usually, people are unwilling to be rude enough to interrupt a phone call and will see that you're busy and will leave you alone. This strategy also helps to make you less of a target and might make your walk home safer. Additionally, if you are on the phone with someone while you walk home at night, it dissuades anyone from bothering you because there is a semi-witness present. I sometimes pretend to take a phone call if I'm nervous, as it keeps people away and my phone is handy should I need to dial 911.
  • Say you're sorry, and that you're not interested - this has the added advantage of drawing your point into the open. For those unable to read your disinterest, your declaration of such makes it obvious and might make them stop. Again, it doesn't always work because sometimes those friendly/lonely/creepy people are so used to rejection that they've developed a shield of denial. They think when you say you're not interested, that they can regain your interest by talking about something else. 
  • Move to another seat - might be hard to do, might be considered really rude, and might not work, but it also might stop them from talking to you. However, if you move to the front of the bus, you could perhaps dissuade any attention due to the presence of an authority figure(bus driver). Additionally, talking to the bus driver might help as the driver might recommend, publicly, that the stranger leave you alone or, in the extreme case, that they exit the bus.
  • Comment on what they are doing in a loud manner - this one is a gamble. Often, if you declare your disinterest or nervousness loudly enough, it will stop the other person from bothering you. Additionally, other people might hear it and come to your aid. Unfortunately, if you misread the situation, you've just yelled at someone/embarrassed them for no reason, and you look like the crazy person. Also, this one asks for you to rely on others and if the Bystander Effect has taught me anything, it's that people do not always act, even when they want to.
Two last funny options:
  • Tell them you have diarrhea, prone to projectile vomiting, or some other kind of typically gross or wanted condition.
  • Give them the face, as seen here:
  • Finally, you can tell them you know a crazy guy in a cape, because hey, you do. 
And there you go, I hope this list has helped, and if you have any other suggestions, other than the obvious one of punching someone in the face, please feel free to comment below.

Thanks for reading, remember, "Stay alert! Stay safe!"

Monday, 5 March 2012

The CAPTCHA protocol, how I loath you...

Alright, rant time. I hate CAPTCHA. It's difficult to properly phrase that because CAPTCHA stands for: Completely Automatic Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. So, with that in mind, forgive any grammatical errors which may be present in this blog.

But, I hate them! Hate may be a strong word, but with a privileged, first-world, university attending, internet using student, there's not much to complain about, really. Sure, debt, lack of time, stress, blah blah, I can and will complain about those later. For now, suffice it to say, I hate those smeared, blurred, stroked-through pictures meant to tell if I am a human or not.

I understand the need, really. In a world of advancing technology and declining morality, it's important to have safeguards which protect us from the scum of humanity. Problem is, there is an inherent lack of sense involved with establishing a technology-based safeguard especially when you're dealing with techno-pirates. I mean, you make the best anti-virus software, some kid in his basement cracks it, makes a better one and locks YOU out. This is happening all the time and it's an interesting problem I'm sure the NSA is all too tired of.

But, let's not go too far off the deep end here. This rant is about CAPTCHA, and in case you don't know that term, here is an example:

What the hell is this!?

Now, technically, the term CAPTCHA refers to any protocol which is made to authenticate the user is a human, such as a box which must be clicked in order to proceed, but specifically, I hate the use of images of letters or symbols which must be identified to gain access. The letters are always so smeared, and so hard to read, which is kind of the point, but it gets me because I fail at those more often than not. The example above is a real example, and what the hell do I type here?

And, it's only going to get worse. With programs such as Google Goggles, computers are gaining the ability to identify patterns visually, something us puny humans have been claiming is so special about our brains for years. Well, it's coming people. Judgement day (Terminator style) is coming, and CAPTCHAs will not help us.

Honestly, I fail at these things more often than not. I mean, if it's a word, even an obscure one, that's not so bad, but when it's a series of overlapping letters, with lines drawn through them, I freak out. Honestly, CAPTCHAs should just have a feature which turns your computer's microphone on after the first attempt and if it hears someone screaming bloody murder, swearing, and smashing fists onto desks, then it should just allow us to pass through. Of course, then hackers and A.I.s will just record said sounds, or generate them and that will allow them to bypass that safeguard.

Problem is, as I've been alluding to this whole time, is that there will be zero way to perfectly identify or differentiate between us and A.I.s soon. Sure, we can make the tests harder, such as this comic here:
but, as we've seen on Jeopardy, a la IBM's Watson, people are continuously trying to upgrade and improve computers, make them more human, make them able to do what we do, and well, it's working.

No amount of fantasy or science fiction is going to convince me that humans and computers will be distinct groups in the future. We will add implants, computers will add chips to make them feel, and CAPTCHAs will not only be obsolete, they'll be racist.