Understanding Out of the Abyss

*Spoiler Warning*: This post contains spoilers about the Dungeons & Dragons adventure “Out of the Abyss” (OotA).

My first contact with Out of the Abyss wasn’t great. I was a player in a campaign based on that book, but the DM was a) inexperienced and b) had removed the starting chapter and removed it by a series of other adventures before leading us down into the Underdark. Now I can see the motivation for that: OotA starts the players as slaves of the Drow, in shackles, without gear; a start that is both somewhat cliche for the genre, and not the most pleasant one for the players. However after preparing the adventure now for another group I see how this start is absolutely essential to the adventure. Removing it leads to exactly the problem we had, that is wandering through the Underdark with no motivation, being unclear of the goal and purpose of the adventure.

The whole first half of Out of the Abyss is motivated by that start: The players escape and are pursued by the Drow. They are looking for a way back to the surface, while having to survive a harsh and strange environment, and having to find means to equip themselves. It is dark fantasy, it is a game of survival. And it doesn’t work without that start in slavery. If you ever want to play this, ask your players first if they are okay with a dark survival campaign instead of the more generic heroic fantasy.

To understand Out of the Abyss one needs to see how it inverses the sandbox approach of certain other D&D adventures, for example Princes of the Apocalypse. In Princes of the Apocalypse the dungeons and encounters are described in much detail, but it is left to the DM and players to figure out how to get from one dungeon to the next. That doesn’t work very well, because the dungeons have different levels, and playing them through in an order other than by level results in problems. Out of the Abyss takes a very different approach: The main story from the start to at least the mid-point, escaping from the Underdark, is linear. You best play chapter 1 first, then chapter 2, then chapter 3, etc., because it makes sense geographically and story-wise. But what exactly happens in each of the chapters is left open and is to be created by the interactive storytelling between DM and player. Chapter 1 is very clear about this being about a prisoner escape, but how exactly the players escape from prison is left to them. If they don’t do anything the DM has some events that will push them in the right direction, but ideally the DM first lets the players try their own ideas, and allows any half reasonable plan to succeed. The goal is for the DM and the players to both drive the story forward. D&D should never be adversarial, and for OotA it wouldn’t work at all if the DM didn’t “help” the players to escape.

One of the early highlights of that approach is chapter 4, Gracklstugh. There you get a complete description of a Duergar city in the Underdark, complete with who the different power factions are and what their interaction is. But you are left to play that city as a sandbox, the adventure doesn’t tell you where to start or which faction to support. Played right this might be a great short city adventure on its own. The obvious disadvantage of the approach, and thus of all of Out of the Abyss, is that it requires a great amount of preparation and/or improvisation from the Dungeon Master. This is very much a campaign for expert DMs. And I’ll find out in how far it works with newbie players, because that is who I am going to play it with.

Paul Krugman: The GOP Is Completely, Hopelessly Corrupt

It’s not just Republican donors that stand to rake in millions from the party’s latest tax bill.

It’s a common misconception in liberal media circles that Republicans govern solely to satisfy their wealthy donors. They do that too, but as the recent #CorkerKickback controversy reveals, they’re as motivated by financial self-interest as the president of the United States.

In his Tuesday column, the New York Times’ Paul Krugman argues that the GOP grift is even broader and deeper than the public realizes. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which is expected to be signed into law as early as this week, has a 26 percent approval rating, according to the latest Monmouth University poll. While they may not grasp its particulars, most Americans understand they will ultimately be paying more to finance tax cuts for multinational corporations and the 1 percent. What they may not know is that Republican officials themselves stand to profit handsomely from this legislation. 

“Raw bribery probably isn’t the issue, although insider trading based on close relationships with companies affected by legislation may be a much bigger deal than most realize,” Krugman writes. “But the revolving door is an even bigger deal. When members of Congress leave their positions, voluntarily or not, their next jobs often involve lobbying of some kind. This gives them an incentive to keep the big-money guys happy, never mind what voters think.”

The malfeasance of Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) is even more transparent. After initially voting against the GOP tax bill, citing concerns about the trillion dollars that would be added to the deficit over the next decade, Corker abruptly reversed course last week. The Congressional Budget Office hasn’t issued a new report, so what changed?

Well, Republicans inserted a new provision into the legislation adding real estate companies to the list of “pass-through” businesses entitled to a huge tax break. The language directly benefits Donald Trump and—wait for it—Bob Corker, who owns a significant amount of income-producing property. Hence, the #CorkerKickback.

“We may never know exactly what happened with Corker,” Krugman concludes. “But there’s every reason to believe that Republicans in Congress are taking their cues from a president who openly uses his office to enrich himself. Goodbye, ideology; hello, corruption.”

Read Paul Krugman’s column at the New York Times.

 

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Dice Brawl: Captain’s League

I have a strange fascination with the game Monopoly, must be some memory of my childhood where games weren’t as plentiful as today. But somehow the various computer versions of Monopoly never really excited me. But now I found a nice little game on iOS called Dice Brawl: Captain’s League, which is basically a pirate themed Monopoly on speed, and it is fun.

The board is much smaller, and there are only two players. It is styled as PvP, but the opponent always reacts so fast, and never quits, that I suspect it is fake PvP against an AI controlled opponent just using the name and deck of another player. That is pretty much the only sort of PvP I like. So just like in Monopoly you roll two dice, move around the board, and if you land on an empty spot you can build a fortress there. If you land on your own fortress you can increase its level. If you land on an enemy fortress, you take damage, but then you can try to attack it and conquer it. The player with the most fortresses after 8 turns wins, unless a player gets killed in combat earlier.

This being a mobile game, it comes free but then uses the Gacha game or lootbox mechanic. In the lootboxes you find captains, ships, and crew members of various rarities. By finding more of the same card, you can level that card up. And the various cards have skills which you can then use in battle. The obvious idea is that you spend money to buy lootboxes, but I found the game well playable without doing so.

Overall a fun little game which isn’t overly exploitive, unless you are the kind of player that easily gets sucked in by lootboxes.

D&D Reader

Another app for players of Dungeons & Dragons has been announced, called D&D Reader. Basically it is a kind of e-book reader only for D&D rulebooks and adventures. Instead of bringing a backpack full of books to your game, you bring a single tablet with all the information on it. And to some extent it is searchable, which isn’t the case for paper books.

Now a few years ago I would have said that this is a brilliant idea, exactly what I needed. But since then I spent $280 to get access to all D&D books in digital form on D&D Beyond. As long as I have internet access, that gives me the same functionality: Able to read any D&D book on my tablet and search it. But the new D&D reader app is from a different company. So, you guessed it, if I wanted to use that app as well, I would need to pay *again* for all those books. Which would be the third time, since I already own the books in paper format and on D&D Beyond. Just to have offline access. No thanks!

Wizards of the Coast really need to rethink their strategy on this one. In this time and age it is a great idea to have content available in different ways, paper, online, and offline digital. But a full collection of D&D books is already expensive to buy once. The paper books should include a coupon for all digital versions. I was already exaggerating by buying the books twice, but who on earth is going to go for a third version at full price?

JavaScript Interview Questions for Freshers


What is JavaScript, really ?

JavaScript (“JS” for short) is a full-fledged dynamic programming language that, when applied to an HTML document, can provide dynamic interactivity on websites. It was invented by Brendan Eich, co-founder of the Mozilla project, the Mozilla Foundation, and the Mozilla Corporation.

JavaScript is incredibly versatile. You can start small, with carousels, image galleries, fluctuating layouts, and responses to button clicks. With more experience, you’ll be able to create games, animated 2D and 3D graphics, comprehensive database-driven apps, and much more!

*For online documentation on JavaScript , refer the doc of creators – mdn

**For the best class-room training on JavaScript at Mumbai connect with Rocky Sir

Leaving out the very simple and basic Interview Questions, at what questions do the fresh web developers get stuck ?  Here is a list :

1. Before-the-first-Round-of-JavaScript-Interview-Questions

      download a short and sweet PDF


2. 10-common-JavaScript-interview-questions (Click on the Question for viewing the answer)


3. Step-by-step solution for step counting using recursion

step counting _sctpl

For example, if you wanted to climb 4 steps, you can take the following distinct number of steps:

1) 1, 1, 1, 1
2) 1, 1, 2
3) 1, 2, 1
4) 2, 1, 1
5) 2, 2
So there are 5 distinct ways to climb 4 steps. We want to write a function, using recursion, that will produce the answer for any number of steps
answer-to-step-counting-using-recursion

4. Determine overlapping numbers in ranges

You will be given an array with 5 numbers. The first 2 numbers represent a range, and the next two numbers represent another range. The final number in the array is X. The goal of your program is to determine if both ranges overlap by at least X numbers. For example, in the array [4, 10, 2, 6, 3] the ranges 4 to 10 and 2 to 6 overlap by at least 3 numbers (4, 5, 6), so your program should return true.
answer-to-determine-overlapping-numbers-in-ranges 



5. Find all duplicates in an array



This is a common interview question where you need to write a program to find all duplicates in an array. The elements in the array have no restrictions, but in this algorithm we’ll work specifically with integers. Finding duplicates in an array can be solved in linear time by using a hash table to store each element as we pass through the array. The general algorithm is: 


(1) Loop through the array
(2) At each element check if it exists in the hash table, which has a lookup of O(1) time
(3) If the element exists in the hash table then it is a duplicate, if it doesn’t exist, insert it into the hash table, also O(1)

for-complete-solution-to-finding-all-duplicates-in-an-array


6Two sum problem


The two sum problem is a common interview question, and it is a variation of the subset sum problem. There is a popular dynamic programming solution for the subset sum problem, but for the two sum problem we can actually write an algorithm that runs in O(n) time.

The challenge is to find all the pairs of two integers in an unsorted array that sum up to a given S. For example, if the array is [3, 5, 2, -4, 8, 11] and the sum is 7, your program should return [[11, -4], [2, 5]] because 11 + -4 = 7 and 2 + 5 = 7.

for-complete-solution-to-Two-sum-problem

7. Stock maximum profit

You will be given a list of stock prices for a given day and your goal is to return the maximum profit that could have been made by buying a stock at the given price and then selling the stock later on. For example if the input is: [45, 24, 35, 31, 40, 38, 11] then your program should return 16 because if you bought the stock at $24 and sold it at $40, a profit of $16 was made and this is the largest profit that could be made. If no profit could have been made, return -1.


for-complete-solution-to-Stock-maximum-profit


Why companies hiring Interns, build their BRAND faster?

Why should company hire Intern?

Increase productivity: Speaking of additional manpower, setting up an internship program allows you to take advantage of short-term support. The extra sets of hands help your employees be more productive, prevent them from becoming overburdened by side projects, as well as free them up to accomplish more creative tasks or those where higher-level, strategic thinking or expertise is required.

Take advantage of low-cost labor: Interns are an inexpensive resource. Their salaries are significantly lower than staff employees, and you aren’t obligated to pay unemployment or a severance package should you not hire them on full time.Moreover, while their wage requirements are modest, they’re among the most highly motivated members of the workforce.

Benefit your small business: When looking for full time work, the top talent often go for big-name businesses. But when seeking internships, learning is the leading draw. Many candidates feel they’ll get more hands-on training, real experience, and mentoring opportunities with smaller organizations.

Advantages of doing the Internship for a student

Get Real Work Experience
The biggest benefit of internships is that they offer a safe space for students and graduates to gain work experience. This is important because most employers are reluctant to hire someone who’s never worked before, they think that with no experience, you’ll probably be unreliable and not know what to do or how to work. Of course, this creates a vicious circle with no way out which is why lots of graduates end up in completely unrelated fields.

Internships can be a great solution to this problem as they allow students and graduates to experience a real workplace. Apart from the vocational skills that interns gain, they also get lots of soft skills which are crucial to not only finding a job but succeeding at one as well.

Get a Taste of Your Chosen Field
One of the greatest advantages of internships is that they allow people to experience their industry and chosen profession. This usually has one of two effects – makes people more excited and drives them to work hard and build a successful career, or they realize it’s not the right career for them.

Boosts Your CV
Internships can also benefit your CV as they are a foolproof way to demonstrate that you have work experience, as well as other workplace skills. The skills can be relevant to your chosen profession, which is admittedly crucial in a CV, but they could also be other skills, including communication and people skills that employers value.

Helps You Choose a Specialty
An internship can help you identify a particular area in your industry or profession that you’re interested in and help you acquire more knowledge regarding this area.

Following are the major companies across the world always hiring Interns

  1. Facebook
  2. Google
  3. Qualcomm
  4. Microsoft
  5. Morgan Stanley
  6. Apple
  7. HP
  8. CISCO
  9. Deloitte
  10. JP Morgan and Chase
  11. Amazon.com
For any Recruitment related advice and quality human resource , feel free to mail Ms Simran (Head-HR @ http://suvenconsultants.com )

What is PATH and CLASS-PATH all about in JaVa ?

What is PATH and CLASS-PATH 


Many problems in the installation and running of Java applications are caused by incorrect setting of environment variables (global system variables available to all the processes running under the system), in particular, PATH, CLASS-PATH.

PATH Variable:

PATH is basically an environment variable on Unix-like operating systems, DOS, OS/2, and Microsoft Windows, specifying a set of directories where executable programs are located. In general, each executing process or user session has its own PATH setting.
When you launch a program from the command line, the operating system uses the PATH environment variable to search for the program in your local file system. PATH maintains a list of directories for searching executable programs.
If the program cannot be found in these directories, you will get an error. For example, if Java Compiler “javac.exe” is not found in the current directory and all the directories in the PATH, you will receive this error when compiling java source code:

ERROR:javac is not recognized as an internal or external command.



 For Java applications, PATH must include the following directories:
  • JDK’s “bin” directory (e.g., “c:Program Filesjavajdk1.7.0_{xx}bin”), which contains JDK programs such as Java Compiler “javac.exe” and Java Runtime “java.exe”.
  • “c:windowssystem32” and “c:windows” which contain console programs and commands.

How To set Path in java?

There are 2 ways to set java path:
  1. Temporary.
  2. Permanent.
1.Temporary path of JDK in windows:

  • Open command prompt
  • copy the path of jdk/bin directory
  • write in command prompt: set path=copied_path

Let’s see it in the figure given below:


2.Permanent path of JDK in Windows:
  • Right click on ‘My Computers’ and open ‘Properties’.
  • In Windows Vista or Windows 7, go to “Advanced System Settings”. Else go to next step.
  • Go to ‘Advanced Tab’ and click on Environment Variables button.
  • click on new tab of user variables
  • write path in variable name and paste path of bin folder in variable value.
  • Click on OK botton.

Setting JAVA path in Linux OS:

Setting the path in Linux OS is same as setting the path in the Windows OS. But here we use export tool rather than set. Let’s see how to set path in Linux OS:

export PATH=$PATH:/home/jdk1.6.01/bin/


CLASS-PATH in java:

The CLASS-PATH is an Environment variable is one way to tell applications, including the JDK tools, where to look for user classes. Class-path in Java is the path to directory or list of the directory which is used by Class-Loaders to find and load classes in Java program.
It would be impractical to have the JVM look through every folder on your machine, so you have to provide the JVM a list of places to look.  Therefore you need to set your class-path such that, JVM should be able to locate all your resources like classes, files, jars etc.
Setting CLASS-PATH:

In order to set Classpath for Java in Windows you need to specify the value of environment variable CLASSPATH, the name of this variable is not case sensitive and it doesn’t matter if the name of your environment variable is Classpath, CLASSPATH or classpath in Java.

Steps:

    How to se Java Classpath in windows and Unix Linux

  1. Go to Environment variable window in Windows by pressing  or you can go from rig“Windows + Pause “–> Advanced –> Environment variable ht click on my computer than choosing properties and then Advanced and then Environment variable this will open Environment variable window in windows.
  2. Now specify your environment variable CLASSPATH and put the value of your JAVA_HOMElib and also include CURRENT DIRECTORY by including (dot or period sign).

Now to check the value of Java classpath in windows type “echo %CLASSPATH” in your DOS command prompt and it will show you the value of directory which is included in CLASSPATH.

  • You can also set classpath in windows by using DOS command like:
set CLASSPATH=%CLASSPATH%;JAVA_HOMElib;

This way you can set the class-path in Windows XP, windows 2000 or Windows 7 and 8, as they all come with command prompt.


Setting CLASS-PATH in LINUX:

To set Class-path for Java In Linux, you can simply export CLASSPATH=”your classpath” from either your .bash_profile or .bashrc script which will run whenever your login into your Linux or Unix Machine. Now to check the value of Java CLASSPATH in Linux type “echo ${CLASSPATH}” this will print the value of Classpath in command prompt. By using the export command, you can set the classpath for Java in Unix, Linux, Solaris, or any other UNIX operating system. 
What are main differences between CLASSPATH and PATH?

  1. Path is an environment variable which is used by the operating system to find the executables. Classpath is an environment variable which is used by the Java compiler to find the path, of classes.i.e in J2EE we give the path of jar files.
  2. PATH is nothing but setting up an environment for operating system. Operating System will look in this PATH for executables. Classpath is nothing but setting up the environment for Java. Java will use to find compiled classes.
  3. Path refers to the system while classpath refers to the Developing Environment.

Want to learn more about java?

Nokia 9 passes through the FCC with dual rear cameras and Snapdragon 835

We might still see a Christmas miracle, but apart from that, it’s looking more likely that the unannounced Nokia 9 will not debut before the year is out. Even so, it appears that the smartphone recently paid a visit to the FCC, with the phone appearing similar to the Nokia 8 in a few areas.

Starting with the display, the Nokia 9 features a 5.5-inch QHD OLED display, which is a bit larger than the Nokia 8’s 5.3-inch LCD display and delivers deeper blacks and punchier, albeit slightly unrealistic, colors. Much like the Nokia 8, the Nokia 9 also sports dual rear cameras — the former features dual 13 MP cameras, while the latter opts for a 12 MP and 13 MP sensor.

The rear cameras are not that different, though the story changes with the front camera. Whereas the Nokia 8 features a 13 MP selfie camera, the Nokia 9 makes do with a 5 MP sensor. I’m not sure why this change is so drastic, and even though megapixels aren’t everything, it’s hard to ignore the drop in image resolution.

Editor’s Pick

To wrap up the differences, the Nokia 9 swaps the Nokia 8’s 3,090 mAh battery for a larger 3,250 mAh power pack.

Everything else about the Nokia 9 is pretty much the same when compared to the Nokia 8. That means you’ll still find Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset and 128 GB of internal storage, with a microSD card slot available for additional space.

Some people might be upset about Nokia’s choice to go with the Snapdragon 835 for the Nokia 9, particularly since Qualcomm announced the newer, more capable Snapdragon 845 chipset. At the same time, it’s not like the Snapdragon 845 was announced when Nokia started work on the Nokia 9.

There are still some unanswered questions around the Nokia 9, such as when Nokia will unveil the phone, when it will be available, and how much it will go for. At this point, the earliest we could see the Nokia 9 is during CES 2018, though MWC 2018 might be slightly more viable.

Is Your D&D Character Rare?

FiveThirtyEight, a website better known for predicting election results with statistical methods, a few weeks ago posted a statistical analysis of 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons characters regarding their choice of class and race combination. The result is boringly predictable: People overwhelmingly choose a race that gives at least a +1, if not a +2 bonus to their main class stat. As the race system has been designed to favor combinations that appear in the cast of Lord of the Rings, you get a lot more elven rangers than dwarven rangers, etc. However that is much less an attempt to emulate the classics but rather simple stat minmaxing.

I don’t know how these statistics look for other games or previous editions of Dungeons & Dragons. But I suspect that the “bounded accuracy” math of 5th edition D&D makes a +1 or +2 bonus a lot more important in this edition, because there aren’t so many other bonuses around. Unless you “roll lucky” (which is my way of saying cheat with your stats), an elf paladin is simply too bad stat-wise to be playable. That from a role-playing point of view a haughty elf might make a brilliant paladin if played well is of no importance. You choose your class, then take one of the few races that are good at that class, or default to humans who are good at everything.

As a role-playing challenge I would love to try a gnome barbarian. But as a 5th edition character with standard array or 27-point buy stats I’d end up with something not very fun to play in combat. The World of Warcraft system where your choice of race has only a very minor influence on your combat performance is more to my liking.

Out of the mouth of babes

For a president, Trump is remarkably unguarded in his speech. In absence of a teleprompter he talks stream of conscience with no regards for the party line or the politically correct. So when presented with a clip of footage from several modern games, his reaction appears quite honest: “This is violent, isn’t it?” and then “I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts. And then you go the further step, and that’s the movies. You see these movies, they’re so violent and yet a kid is able to see a movie if sex isn’t involved, but killing is involved.”.

Now video gamers are as partisan as the next guy and quick to dismiss any criticism as just being motivated by a desire to distract from the NRA. But can’t you just step back for a moment and read these quotes above at face value? Aren’t they fundamentally true? We do have a “violence in entertainment” culture. We do have systems in place that prevent movies and video games from displaying sex, but not from displaying gore. And it would be extremely callous to assume that a kid’s mind is in no way affected by seeing that sort of stuff. That doesn’t mean that there is a direct causal link between playing video games and school shootings, or that gun control wouldn’t be a better option than games control. But there is also a lot of very visible denial from the games media, which shows you that Trump’s remarks have hit close to home.

The violence is frequently gratuitous, games like Splatoon prove that you can take the same genre and cartoonify it into something much less violent. Nintendo makes a lot of great games with minimal violence. And it isn’t just the graphical display of violence in video games, it is also the gameplay. Multiplayer shooters or games like Fortnite Battle Royale with its last-man-standing victory condition are inherently teaching a very wrong message of hate. There are a large number of games out there which I simply can’t play because I am too disgusted by both the violence and the toxicity of the players.

I have zero trust in Trump coming up with a viable solution (he appeared muddled on the existence of rating systems). But his gut reaction that this stuff is violent and potentially a problem is right. Gamers need to overcome the denial step and face the truth. If the industry doesn’t change voluntarily, politicians are going to intervene at some point.