After the excellent Wasteland 2, we were excited to get our hands on the new installment, and we can say without fear that it has met expectations. Wasteland 3 is a sign of the love that InXile has for his work and Brian Fargo for the genre that has created a name for him. If you are a lover of the saga or the genre, do not hesitate to enjoy it.
Wasteland 3 doesn’t pull any punches with its subject matter in sexuality, violence, and language. But if you are fine with that, I would highly recommend you give Wasteland 3 a shot, especially if you were (or still are) a Fallout fan.
On Paper Wasteland 3 sounds like the perfect RPG-Dream but the execution leaves much to be desired. Bugs, Glitches and graphics that doesn't really represent a game that releases and the end of this console generation are a bit of a letdown. Everything else from the great story, entertaining NPCs, solid battle system, clever leveldesign over to the love for details is amazing, besides some flaws that should soon be fixed, as inXile and Brian Fargo promise. Everyone that wasn't happy with the latest Fallout Games will surely love Wasteland 3.
Wasteland 3 is a old-school role-playing game, with a compelling story, a combat system that promises but is not groundbreaking and some funny moments and black mood, which always remind us that we are in a post apocalyptic world, but with a smile. Don't forget the powerful character editor, rhythm voices, and the beautiful scenery that puts you in that atmosphere of cold and snowy Colorado.
Wasteland 3 can be a bit of slog if you're gunning for marathon gaming sessions with it at the helm. Combat, whilst exciting initially can fall into the traps of repetition. A little more variety could have negated some of the repeated player actions. That said, the story is compelling and the characters an interesting assortment of misfit survivors, although perhaps fitting post-apocalyptic stereotypes. It's a fun, easy to play game overall though that should well-please fans of the series and keep players entertained for quite some time with its high replay-value. However, aside from some bugs here and there, the impressive amount of voice-work on offer, the character building is the best part of the experience where you can really nurture your ranger squad in this snowy post-apocalyptic world.
At least in my time with it, Wasteland 3 has been a fascinating experience. I’ve come to appreciate its depth of gameplay, character, building, and exploration, even if some of its pieces and parts still feel very foreign to me.
I will be even happier with Wasteland 3 once it’s patched and most of the bugs that bit me end up getting squashed. Even in its current state I’m having a grand ol’ time bringing some justice to the cold depths where no Ranger has dared to before. But for as much of a blast as I’m having out northeast in the cold, I hope I can make it back to sunny Arizona in time to save my fellow lawmen!
Wasteland 3 is a throwback to the old School RPGs of yesteryear, while providing a new combat experience and a bigger world. Players that liked previous Fallout Games, or games like Wasteland 2 or Baldur's Gate will feel right at home with this title, and will have the opportunity to try X-Com like combat. For the amount of content provided, 60 USD is a very good price, and fans of the genre should get more than their money's worth.
Wasteland 3 doesn't bring much new to the table, both as a CRPG and as a piece of post-apocalyptic fiction. But, it's a terrifically executed role-playing game that rewards player investment from beginning to end.
Wasteland 3 is a heady crescendo of post-apocalyptic story-telling. Its combat is compelling and fun while its characters and overall plot are engrossing, even when it goes to some dark places. A must-play for tactical RPG fans.
We’ll update this review if the game is fixed, and the issues outlined are fixed or at least addressed; and then I’ll pick it back up. As it stands now, I’ll be playing something else that isn’t as apt to crash. Buyer beware.
There are a few misgivings related to Wasteland 3's technical aspects, mechanics, and overall challenge. However, its cast of characters (both old and new), the switch to a traditional turn-based combat system, and branching paths filled with decisions and dire consequences make for a superb journey with the Desert Rangers.
With a focus on freedom of choice that is second-to-none, Wasteland 3 has set the benchmark for CRPG narratives, all the while being supported by wonderfully engaging gameplay and roleplaying mechanics.
It took me a while to realize how much these interactions, whether it be the interpersonal conversation or combat encounters themselves, stuck with me. Wasteland 3 has rules, but they only exist for you to bend them. With limitless character creation combinations, branching dialogue choices that affect what quests you do or don’t experience, and multiple endings, Wasteland 3 is an expanse of content and opportunity. The change in locale does wonders, no longer relying on a tired post-apocalyptic biome. Wasteland 3 has a wonderful backdrop in Colorado’s frozen wastes, making it the perfect place to spend a nuclear winter.
Wasteland 3 takes players to a new location and presents them with equally unfamiliar challenges, yet still perfectly demonstrates all of the reasons why this series has had die-hard fans for over three decades, and is absolutely worth playing for anyone looking for their next post-apocalyptic fix.
Wasteland 3 doesn't change its predecessor's successful formula but, outside of certain design limitations, it perfects and modernizes it. It's easily the best game in the franchise, in terms of pure technique, and one that clearly gives you an idea of what inXile is able to achieve.
Wasteland 3 is a good role-playing game, technically passable but enriched by a dense network of intriguing subplots that will push the most dedicated to play it several times. Watch out for the ever-present release bugs, though – best to wait a couple patches if you want to avoid unnecessary hurdles.
Wasteland 3 features everything only the best role-playing games do: an engaging story powered by excellent writing, compelling characters, tons of customization options, and a deep tactical combat system that feels fresh even after dozens of hours. But, most of all, it features a living world that reacts to what the player does, and changes depending on how the player decides to deal with the troubles ahead, providing a role-playing experience of the highest degree, one that very few games can boast of.
Wasteland 3 is a testament to the power of the branching narrative, taking it far beyond binary choices and into a grand canopy of cause and effect. It gives the wintry climbs of Colorado a lifelike quality that must have been painstaking to build. The most impressive RPG in years, Wasteland 3 is a masterpiece.
Wasteland 3 shines with clear dedication to crafting the best game its genre has ever seen. Excellent visuals are matched by top notch voice work and some of the best and most natural writing I have seen in a video game not made by Naughty Dog. The combat is a brutal dance where one wrong move can spell disaster, but victory is an exhilarating rush that never becomes old. Wasteland 3 cements inXile as one of the best in the business in the RPG genre and affirms that Xbox has something truly special on their hands.
Originally, I was leaning against doing an obligatory post-OSCP Reddit post because I didn’t want to come across as another “look at me - I passed OSCP!!” cringeworthy OSCP Oscar speech, but I decided to go ahead and do one because my experience was perhaps a little unique and answers the much-asked question “can I do OSCP without experience?”. A quick background to add context… I’m 31 years old and my employment history is a mixture of sales, graphics, and media-related job roles. I felt discontented for a long time earning (barely) living wage in job roles I had little passion for. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I decided to quit my latest sales job in November last year (2019) to pursue a career in cybersecurity/infosec. I didn’t know what ‘TCP’ or ‘UDP’ was, and I’d never heard of ‘Kali’ or how to run a VM, but I was convinced that this would be the career path for me. Anyway, I went through Security+ and C|EH from November to March and, just as I was going to start applying for Security Analyst type job roles, our friendly neighbourhood Coronavirus came along and shut down the economy. Even though I had no intention of doing OSCP for another year or two, I thought it was a better option than twiddling my thumbs for a few months, so I decided to sign up for PWK labs and have a crack at it. Fast-forwarding to yesterday, after a few brutal months and an incredible experience, I finally got the OSCP “you have successfully completed” email. Apologies in advance for the essay but I just want to go through my journey for those of you that might be in a similar position to the one I was in - limited/zero IT experience and feeling intimidated by the dreaded OSCP mountain. My journey… In the weeks leading up to the wait to start my 60 days PWK material and labs, I went through The Cyber Mentor’s Practical Ethical Hacking Udemy course and then went on a Hack the Box rampage, so, by the time my lab time started, I felt like I was in a pretty decent position. Unfortunately, because I was a naïve idiot, I tackled the labs straight away and went through the PWK PDF casually on the side. This was a big mistake and something I would definitely change in hindsight because it cost me 5 easy points on the exam (I thought I could smash through the PDF exercises during the last week of labs but this didn’t prove to be enough time). In 60 days I ended up rooting around 40 machines - I didn’t bother going for the networks because it didn’t apply to the exam and, although valuable real-world experience, I didn’t want to get distracted and flood my brain with even more information when it wasn’t going to be relevant for my mission. One big thing that I did get right was note-taking. I can’t express enough how valuable it is to take detailed notes and build your own cheat sheet library. After every machine I rooted, I did a walkthrough on OneNote and added any new tools/commands to my cheat sheet library. This not only saves precious time in the exam, but it helps you build your own knowledge instead of relying on other people’s cheat sheets without really understanding what you’re doing. After my 60 days had finished, I spent 1 month on TJ Null’s OSCP Hack the Box list and IppSec’s video walkthroughs. I also can’t stress enough how valuable this learning methodology is. My only regret is that I rushed through it. I’d already booked my exam 30 days after lab time, so I ended up jumping through walkthroughs when I got stuck on boxes instead of exhausting all options. This was another naïve idiot mistake on my behalf and something I would do differently in hindsight. There’s a difference between “trying harder” and “trying harder, but in a smart way”. I was putting 10+ hours in every day but I wasn’t always being efficient with my time. I’d definitely recommend seeking hints and tips on boxes but only after you’ve exhausted all options first, something which I didn’t always do. Anyway, my first exam attempt came around towards the end of July. Was I ready? No, but I had delusional confidence in myself that has paid off for me more often than not, so I was hoping it would pay off for me again. My first exam was brutal. I sat in my chair for a total of 23 hours and 15 minutes, with only 3 short 5-minute breaks to get food to snack on. My VPN was shut down after 24 hours and I had a total of 65 points, which I’d been stuck on for the last 8 hours of my exam. I got the BO, root on one of the 20-point machines, root on the 10-point machine, and user on the other 20-point machine. I just couldn’t get root on that last machine. I was pretty devastated because I’d put my heart and soul into Sec+, C|EH, and OSCP for 7 straight months and I wanted it bad. But my delusional confidence wasn’t enough. After listening to depressing Taylor Swift songs for a few days (joke), I decided to book another exam in, 4 weeks after my first attempt. This time around, I decided to go through Tib3rius’s Linux and Windows Privilege Escalation courses (they were great) and go back over some of the HTB machines. I honestly felt at this point that there wasn’t much more study material that I could go through. 2nd exam came up and it was an almost minute-for-minute repeat of the first exam. BO done, 20 point rooted, 10 point rooted, but could only get user on the other 20 point. 65 points again. This time I ended up listening to Taylor Swift + Lana Del Rey. I was pretty adamant that I could do this and that I was very close, so I sent Off-Sec an email explaining my situation and they were kind enough to allow me another exam attempt without waiting 8 weeks - I booked another exam in 2 weeks after my second attempt. This time, my preparation was entirely mental. In both my prior exams, I was sat on my chair for over 23 hours because I was flapping around aimlessly like a headless chicken, desperately firing off exploits that I knew wouldn’t work on the other 20-point machine. So, I went into the 3rd exam determined to go at a slow and steady pace, and not let the 24-hour timeframe pressure me into a wild goose chase. Miraculously, it seemed to work. After 14 hours, I’d done the BO, rooted both 20-point machines, rooted the 10-point machine, and got user on the 25-point machine. 85-ish points in total. The point of this story is to get across to people that you need to try simpler, not harder. I perhaps failed my first exam because I’d not gone through Tib3rius’s Priv Esc courses, but I failed on my 2nd 100% due to mentality. There was no skill-level difference between my 2nd exam and 3rd exam. I’ll finish off with my recommended learning methodology and exam tips (for people with limited/zero IT experience): . The Cyber Mentor Practical Ethical Hacking Udemy course (usually on offer at $14.99-ish) . Tib3rius’s Linux and Windows Privilege Escalation course (usually on offer at $12.99 each) . Try Hack Me OSCP Learning Path (I would recommend doing this before HTB - it is $10 for 30 days) . PWK labs (I personally don’t feel more than 60 days are required - unless you work full-time) . TJ Null’s OSCP Hack the Box list ($10 for retired HTB machines - very worth it) . You should be ready for the exam Exam tips: . Become proficient with Nmap but use an enumeration tool like nmapAutomator for the exam . You will need to understand what bash and Python scripts are doing (you don’t need to be able to write them from scratch) . Don’t be tempted to use a fancy BO methodology for the exam, stick with PWK’s methodology - it works (some of the others don’t) . Play around with various reverse shell payloads - sometimes a bash one-liner won’t work so you need to go with Python. Sometimes Bash, Python, and netcat won’t work, so you need to understand what alternatives you can use in that scenario . Get into the habit of reading service manuals. In all 3 of my exams, I came up against machines that had services I’d never even heard of. Fortunately, I’d got into the habit reading service manuals, otherwise, I would have skipped over the services and got lost down a rabbit hole . Get into the habit of exploiting conventional services in unconventional ways. Just because an SUID binary isn’t on Gtfobins, it doesn’t mean that you can’t exploit the SUID binary in an unconventional way. Again, get into the habit of reading manuals to understand what services do . Become familiar with Burp Suite. Many exploits won’t work in the way you might expect them to, but they will work if you run them through Burp. Or, at the very least, you’ll be able to understand why they’re not working. This issue came up in my last exam and I would have been completely lost if it weren’t for Burp . Take breaks if you get frustrated - this is said over and over again by people on this subreddit and it’s an absolute must. The 20 point machine that I couldn’t root after 8 hours on my 2nd exam was on my 3rd exam (thanks Off-Sec - I know you tried to fu*k me with that), but I was able to root it within 1 hour on my 3rd exam, simply because my mindset was different at the time. . Trust your gut - by doing PWK and HTB machines, you should develop a gut feeling of when you are in a rabbit hole and when you’re on the right track. I ended up rooting over 100 machines before the exam (albeit with plenty of hints and tips) and it helped me develop a good gut feeling. I can’t explain why but there were times in my last exam where I knew I was in the right area even though I wasn’t able to enumerate the specific service version. This feeling simply came from experience. I’m sure many of you watch IppSec’s videos and wonder “how the hell does he know to do X or Y?”. I used to wonder this all the time but after going through dozens of machines, I finally got it. It comes down to experience. Try to do as many machines as you can before the exam to build that gut feeling, and trust it in the exam. . Embrace failure - this is perhaps the most important thing that I can say. OSCP is a difficult journey and many people fail multiple times before passing. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s okay to fail. It’s how you react to failure that counts. I’m not particularly smart but I embrace failure and I know deep down that I will keep trying until I pass. I was prepared to take the OSCP exam 1000 times if I had to, I was never going to let the exam beat me. I suggest you approach it with the same mentality and not let silly pride prevent you from having a go at it. One last thing! Join a solid Discord community. This journey has been amazing since day one and a big reason behind that is the amazing online community. I was very active in an HTB community and ended up talking to several people who were going through OSCP at the same time as me. This was honestly such a massive help to me because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing when I first started! Sorry for the massive rant - I just see so many people on here treating OSCP like an unsurmountable mountain. It’s not. You can do it!
Since 1983, I have lived, worked and raised a family in a progressive, egalitarian, income-sharing intentional community (or commune) of 100 people in rural Virginia. AMA.
Hello Reddit! My name is Keenan Dakota, I have lived at Twin Oaks, an income-sharing, intentional community in rural Virginia for 36 years, since 1983. I grew up in northern Virginia, my parents worked in government. I went to George Mason University where I studied business management. I joined Twin Oaks when I was 23 because I lost faith in the underpinnings of capitalism and looking for a better model. I have stayed because over time capitalism hasn't looked any better, and its a great place to raise children. While at Twin Oaks, I raised two boys to adulthood, constructed several buildings, managed the building maintenance program, have managed some of the business lines at different times. Proof this is me. A younger photo of me at Twin Oaks.Here is a video interview of me about living at Twin Oaks.Photo of Twin Oaks members at the 50th anniversary. Some things that make life here different from the mainstream:
The labor system - all work is considered equal, whether you are earning income for the community or not. Cooking/cleaning counts the same as planning the annual budget. Also, you don't have to do the same job all week - your day can be a mix of indoor and outdoor work, you have freedom to arrange your day, and you can gain skills in a wide array of tasks and trades.
Non-gender binary, queer and trans people are very welcome at Twin Oaks. People introduce themselves with their pronouns and a significant number of our members go by they/them.
Verbal consent culture is very important here. It is not okay to touch anyone without asking.
Nudity and partial nudity is allowed in some parts of the farm, such as in the sauna, swimming hole, on the hiking trails, etc.
Our social norms prohibit using phones in common areas when other members are present, with the exception of a few cafe-style spaces.
Every day we provide a home-cooked, plant-based lunch and dinner with options for special diets including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and no onions & garlic.
Raising kids here is easier. Some of the time that parents spend raising their children counts towards their labor quota. Many of the kids are home-schooled or "unschooled", and they spend more time outside than in front of a screen. The kids have no problem passing the state's annual standardized test to move onto the next grade level.
We have a shared clothing resource called Commie Clothes, which is like a free thrift store. Borrow something and then return it dirty, and it gets washed and re-hung up.
More about Twin Oaks: Twin Oaks is an intentional community in rural central Virginia, made up of around 90 adult members and 15 children. Since the community's beginning in 1967, our way of life has reflected our values of cooperation, sharing, nonviolence, equality, and ecology. We do not have a group religion; our beliefs are diverse. We do not have a central leader; we govern ourselves by a form of democracy with responsibility shared among various managers, planners, and committees. We are self-supporting economically, and partly self-sufficient. We are income-sharing. Each member works 42 hours a week in the community's business and domestic areas. Each member receives housing, food, healthcare, and personal spending money from the community. We have open-slots and are accepting applications for new members. All prospective new members must participate in a three-week visitor program. Applicants to join must leave for 30 days after their visit while the community decides on their application. We offer a $5 tour on Saturdays of the property, starting in March. More info here. Ask me anything! TL;DR: Opted out of the rat-race and retired at 23 to live in the woods with a bunch of hippies. EDIT: Thanks for all the questions! If you want some photos of the farm, you can check out our instagram. EDIT2: I'm answering new, original questions again today. Sort by new and scroll through the trolls to see more of my responses. EDIT3: We DO have food with onion & garlic! At meals, there is the regular food, PLUS alternative options for vegan/vegetarian/no gluten/no onions & garlic. EDIT4: Some of you have been asking if we are a cult. No, we are not. We don't have a central leader or common religion. Here are characteristics of cults, FYI. Edit: Yikes! Did I mention that I am 60? Reddit is not my native land. I don't understand the hostile, angry and seemingly deliberately obtuse comments on here. And Soooo many people! Anyway, to the angry crowd: Twin Oaks poses no threat to anyone, we are 100 people out of a country of 330 million? Twin Oaks reached its current maximum population about 25 years ago, so not growing fast, or at all. Members come and go from Twin Oaks. There are, my guess is, 800 ex-members of Twin Oaks, so we aren't holding on to everyone who joins—certainly, no one is held against their will. Twin Oaks is in rural Virginia, but we really aren't insular, isolated, gated or scared of the mainstream culture. We have scheduled tours of the whole property. Local government officials, like building inspectors, come to Twin Oaks with some frequency. People at Twin Oaks like to travel and manage to do so. I personally, know lots of people in the area, I am also a runner, so I leave the property probably every day. There are lots of news stories about Twin Oaks over the years. If you are worried about Twin Oaks, maybe you could go read what the mainstream (and alternative) media have to say. Except about equality Twin Oaks is not particularly dogmatic about anything. (I know some people at Twin Oaks will disagree with that statement.) Twin Oaks isn't really hypocritical about Capitalism, Socialism, or Communism, we just don't identify those concepts as something that we are trying to do. Twin Oaks is not trying to DO Communism, we are trying to live a good life with equally empowered citizens—which has led us to try to maintain economic parity among members. Communists also do that. In making decisions in the community I don't remember anyone trying to support or oppose an idea due to excess or insufficient Communism, Socialism, or Capitalism. In most practical senses those words aren't useful and don't mean anything. So, no need to hammer Twin Oaks for being insufficiently pure, or hypocritical. Twin Oaks is very similar to the Kibbutz in Israel. If anyone has concerns or questions about what would happen if places like Twin Oaks suddenly became much larger and more common, read about the history of the Kibbutz, which may have grown to possibly 1% of the population at their largest? There was and is no fight with Capitalism from the kibbutz—or with the State. My point is—not a threat. To the other people who think that the ideas of Twin Oaks are interesting, I want you to know it is possible to live at Twin Oaks (or places like Twin Oaks) and happily live ones entire life. There is no central, critical failing that makes the idea not work. And plenty of upside. But do lots of research first. Twin Oaks maintains a massive web site. (Anyway, it takes a long time to read.) But what I would like to see is more people starting more egalitarian, income-sharing communities. I think that there is a need for a community that is designed and built by families, and who also share income, and provide mutual support with labor and money. If you love this concept, maybe consider gathering together other people and starting your own. Ideologically speaking: -Ecology: the best response to ecological problems is for humans to use fewer resources. The easiest way to use fewer resources is to share resources. Living communally vastly cuts down on resource use without reducing quality of life. -Equality: ideologically speaking, most people accept the idea that all humans have equal rights, but most social structures operate in ways that are fundamentally unequal. If we truly believe in equality then we ought to be willing to put our bodies where our ideology is. In a truly equal world, the issues of sexism and racism and all other forms of discrimination would, essentially, not exist. -Democracy: Twin Oaks uses all manner of decision-making models and tools to try to include everyone and to keep people equally empowered. There is no useful word for this. We do use a majority vote sometimes, as a fallback. But sometimes we use consensus. We sometimes use sociocracy (dynamic governance). The word "Isocracy" (decision-making among equals), would be useful to describe Twin Oaks' decision-making model, but Lev in Australia has written an incomprehensible "definition" on Wikipedia, that he keeps changing back when someone corrects it. -Happiness: The overarching goal of all ideologies is to make people happy, right? I mean, isn't it? Capitalism is based upon the belief that motivation is crucial to human aspiration and success (and therefore more happiness). Under Capitalism, equality is a detriment because it hinders motivation (less fear of failure, or striving for success). Twin Oaks believes that humans are happier when they are equal, and equally empowered. So the place to start up the ladder of happiness is to first make everyone equal. Well, Twin Oaks is mainly still working on that first step. EDIT5: Some have asked about videos - here are links to documentaries about Twin Oaks by BBC, VICE and RT.
Cutting Edge and RPG be are not mutually exclusive. It's unhealthy for constructive discussion to treat it as an Us vs Them issue.
EDIT: I'd like to take a second and thank everyone that engaged with me constructively in this post. I genuinely enjoyed the conversation and feel like I understand the other side a little better. However I think I'm done for the day since I have some things to take care of. Feel free to respond still and I'll probably reply at some point. I like talking about this. I want to start by awknowledging that Covenants have clearly been a contentious topic in this sub. The Crux of the Discussion has been centered around this concept of "The 1% vs the average player". I know this is a long read, but bear with me. This is an important discussion that will impact the next two years of most of our lives in the game we all love. It's worth the read I promise. My annoyance regarding this matter is that it's constantly presented as a binary choice. That you are either one, or the other. That really isn't the case. I am in that 1%. My WCL is full of orange parses. I enjoy that aspect of the game. However I also enjoy the RPG aspects of the game just as much, and I don't think I am the only one that falls into this category. Let's look back a minute at one of the most successful expansions that WoW has had. Legion. The Crux and selling point of Legion was the concept of "Class Fantasy". However the result was a little closer to "Spec Fantasy". You really felt like a FIRE Mage or an ASSASSINATION Rogue. However some of the feedback they got was that the concept of Class was diluted so you didn't feel like a WARRIOR. In BFA they tried to address that a little, however too much of the spec fantasy was lost along the way. In Shadowlands they are trying to find that middle ground a little bit with a combination of Unpruning while also giving that feeling of spec uniqueness via legendaries. Notice a theme here? The asthetics and the fantasy fuel the gameplay in a very real way. It's related to the cohesion of the kit, the gameplay, and the rotation. This is the same reason that the meme of "transmog increases your DPS" kinda exists on all levels of gameplay. There are plenty of people even at the 1% that care about the RPG aspect and the aesthetic and story of the character. I don't think there is an issue with locking the progression of the covenant itself in a long term way. It feels good to progress something like a more in-depth reputation. Create that distinction outside of Horde/Alliance and tie interesting rewards to them like travel through a zone/unique activities/aesthetic differences/resource management/dungeon skips/perks. I think that's cool, and want a certain direction from that. However the concern is player power. Especially from the perspective of people that participate in multiple styles of content. The "Hardcore PRG" players posit that this will only affect the 1% and it will ruin their experience if they have the ability to swap soulbinds/abilities. Ion said it himself. This acts as a "subclass" system of sorts. Discrimination exists at all levels of play, this is because attitudes act like a meme of sorts and thoughts and ideas spread. This will be exasperated by a subclass system where if you are participating in multiple kinds of content, it will be hard to find space for underperforming specs that also have chosen an underperforming covenant. The RPG aspect doesn't have to be diluted. Infact it can be reinforced in my opinion. Having a permanent, asthetic lock on the Covenant can actually happen. The only reason there is a need for a process to swap is because of the player power tied to it. Uncouple Soulbinds from Covenants and couple the abilities to the Soulbinds. Setting it allows players to choose what they think is "coolest" and fits the fantasy of their character. The idea that you can't form a bond with all the people you meet and help in the Shadowlands feels odd to me honestly. From there this allows for a mechanic where Soulbinds and relationships can form and grow in power independently, so as you do the content you like, you get stronger at it and unlock more lore for the characters you bond with. The Covenants don't have to entirely be separated from Soulbonds either.
Your mission table could be linked to them. Allow the mission table to progress the Soulbond. Giving a little more weight to the mission table.
Soulbonds from your Covenant can interact with a bodyguard system and allow for more progression. Allowing for minor grinding.
Soulbonds outside of your Covenant could progress individually, where Soulbonds from your Covenant progress in tandem as they do on the Alpha now. This allows for players that want to branch out to do so, albeit at a slower pace, where those that don't care to will have plenty of options/flexibility within their own covenant.
This is NOT a 1% vs the RP players issue. This affects EVERYONE, regardless of your level of play. The current system is actually hindered in both RP and Gameplay in it's current iteration. A solution exists. I've tried to lay one out above, but other ideas and concerns I'm sure exist. I know I'm not the only one that wants both aspects from the game. This thread is meant to give voice to that. Please speak up if you're out there. Let's change the course of discussion in this sub to one that is empathetic to both sides and help build something we can all enjoy together.
My uneventful hysterectomy experience + smooth recovery at 4 1/2 weeks postop
I'd like to show my thanks for you folks who have provided so many useful tips on this sub by sharing my fairly standard/normal hysterectomy experience and week by week recovery. It's a long, detailed post but TL;DR: my experience is similar to folks who have had a normal recovery with no complications and manageable pain and discomfort and I highly recommend surgery! (I'm including insomnia and mood swings as normal, since I kept my ovaries and I'm coming off hormonal medication as well, lol.) I waited until 4 weeks before posting because even though I felt great during the first few days after surgery, I wanted to wait and see if complications and weird stuff popped up afterwards. Nope! It has been a delightfully smooth recovery: only very little spotting 2 days after surgery then no bleeding even up until now. My surgeon checked out my vaginal cuff 3 1/12 post-op and she said it was healing nicely, no pain when she touched the cuff and no bleeding. Background:
I'm a non-binary (they/her pronouns,) femme- and androgynous-presenting 35 year old, overweight and sedentary except for light walking. No kids, never gave birth or had an abortion. No top/bottom surgeries and no hormones apart from norethindrone 5-10 mg to stop bleeding/periods and manage pelvic pain a year before surgery. Most of the dysphoria for me post-op is the swollen belly (I look quite pregnant especially during the first 3 weeks) but I'm trying to reframe the swollen belly as looking really cute :) and that the swelling will go away eventually, even though it'll take months. But having no uterus is really awesome! I like the emptiness and lack of heaviness and fatigue from the uterus/fibroids/endo. I did grieve losing parts of my body but this process was months before surgery.
First surgery ever for adenomyosis, endometriosis, and multiple fibroids; total laparoscopic hysterectomy (LAVH): delivered 7 cm fibroid vaginally (!), only kept ovaries and a vaginal cuff was sutured where my cervix used to be. 6 cm endometrioma on right ovary removed, endo excision on partially obliterated cul-de-sac and uterosacral ligaments. Biopsies confirmed adeno in uterus and endo in endometrioma and excised tissues. Took hormones until 3 1/2 week post-op checkup when surgeon allowed me to stop using them. Surgeon expects low recurrence of endo.
I had short notice (3 weeks) for my surgery due to COVID-19 precautions at the hospital, but I was waitlisted for almost a year beforehand.
How the weeks played out post-op:
After surgery: going under anesthesia and waking up in the recovery room happened in seconds. I felt pain which was 3-4/10 but never really went beyond 5-6 (at that point I requested pain meds); most of the pain came from gas pain which touched on the parts that had surgery so it hurt, but I didn't have the dreaded shoulder pain. The catheter was uncomfortable but I asked the nurse to adjust the tubing which sort of helped. I wore the hospital robe during my overnight stay, which had some tiny blood stains from my incisions. I mostly slept and was woken up by nurses during their rounds of checking my blood pressure and temperature. I drank coffee and lots of watejuice after my catheter was removed the next morning and before being discharged. Didn't use my phone and didn't need my toiletries, wore the same maxi dress and slip-on shoes as what I came in the hospital with.
Week 1: most of the discomfort and pains (especially gas) happened this week: ice packs helped along with taking OTC pain meds (tylenol/acetaminophen and naproxen) on a regular schedule and narcotics (tramadol) only a couple of times cause I was afraid of constipation. I made sure to include stool softeners (eg Miralax) in-between pain meds. No fatigue and only 2 days of light spotting; no discharge as well. Incisions were healing normally and were itchy at the end of week 1. Had urine leakage so I purchased additional incontinence pads but I already had this issue prior to surgery. Watched a lot of Netflix/Prime Video while reclined on couch and paced around the house a lot (usually after peeing a lot due to all the fluids) to help get rid of gas/prevent blood clots; activated charcoal didn't helped me, I had to ride out the gas pain. Had pressure while peeing but wasn't painful, also peed a lot due to drinking lots of fluids and eating soups. My BM on the second day was gassy and loose at first, but became more solid when I had another BM that same day, so I didn’t phone the surgeon’s office. I had more BMs than before surgery (went once a day before, then twice a day post-op) and I used a small stool in lieu of a Squatty Potty to help me poop; doing the "moo" sound instead of straining was a big help! I was also really hungry and ate more than usual; more like frequent, smaller meals: a lot of toast/rice, some fruit, and lots of soups with chicken and vegetables. No housework and didn't lift anything heavier than half a gallon (~2 litres.)
Week 2: I had fewer abdominal and back pains compared to the first week and I continued to feel great; ab/incision pains went away eventually by the end of this week. No discharge but still felt pressure from peeing, so I purchased urine tests that were a dollar each from the pharmacy (which also checks for blood and proteins) and I didn't have a UTI. I still used ice packs at the start of the second week but stopped them once I started taking a small dose of cannabis during the day and edibles at night. I stopped naproxen before taking cannabis but this point, I could have also taken tylenol if cannabis wasn't a option, but I didn't like the idea of taking tylenol for long periods of time (can affect the liver.) I gradually increased my walking from slow walking around the block to averaging about 3-4k steps up and down sidewalks in the neighbourhood despite walking very slowly. My surgeon allowed me to do light low impact exercise two weeks onwards. My belly felt more swollen after long walks, likely due to increased activity. Felt tired in the afternoons but I attribute this to the long walks and sleeping less than 8 hours. Still no housework and didn't lift anything heavier than half a gallon (~2 litres.) Felt more emotional this week, cried a bit from post-op blues (wasn't major depression, but thinking about what my body went through up until this point made me sad and angry) but my husband listened to my feelings and I felt better.
Week 3: I felt my body starting to normalize (fewer BMs, not so hungry/thirsty) and sitting down became more comfortable (fewer instances of external genitalia soreness) but "Beware Week 3" is correct! I did ~9000 steps one day at the start of week 3 cause I felt so good (big oops) and I felt more tired in the afternoon and a bit more soreness (mostly leg soreness from the long distance walked.) I rested a few days after and took it easier and it's all good. Still no discharge and even on the 3 1/2 week mark when my surgeon did the post-op checkup, my cuff was healing well and my ovaries looked well. Surgeon recommended pelvic floor therapy as I mentioned the urine leakage. Started to get really bored but walking helped, just not overdoing it. I tried modified, really gentle yoga/pelvic floor exercises/chair yoga and felt sore, but rested afterwards and the soreness resolved. Pressure from peeing continued to decrease, now I can feel my bladder emptying when I pee and I sit for a little bit after peeing for the rest of the pee to come out. I was cleared to drive but at this point, twisting was still uncomfortable. I started experiencing insomnia so when it got really bad, I would take cannabis oils/edibles again and I was able to sleep continuously.
Week 4: Smoke from west-coast forest fires kept me stuck at home so I continued to rest (watch TV and Reddit,) do a little bit more bending/squatting and even picked up a load of laundry under 20 pounds (surgeon cleared me to lift anything under 20 pounds but no lifting furniture for 3 months.) No bleeding despite doing those movements. Swollen belly is very slowly becoming less swollen but it's still swollen. I can tolerate wearing high-waisted leggings/joggers now but jeans and anything too tight around the belly (even tank tops/shirts) are a no go. I still have persistent lower back pain but no abdominal pain so I wonder if my back took a lot of the pressure from day to day activities instead of my abs; massage and heat packs help.
What helped me pre- and post-op:
Positive self-talk/reassurance, even though I was worrying a lot before surgery. I reminded myself that hysterectomies are common procedures (high success rate) and that I have a support system (spouse, housemates, psychologist) to help me with recovery. Reading recovery stories on this sub helped me have a realistic view of the surgery. I also mentally braced myself if my ovaries had to go but thankfully my surgeon was a rockstar and that my right ovary with endometrioma ended up being healthy.
My husband took a couple of weeks off work to help me out: he dropped off/picked me up from the hospital, got groceries and helped prepare food on stovetop, and assisted with getting me in/out of bed and with showers. I would suggest having help from a partnefriend/family member at least a week post-op as second week isn't as bad as the first week.
Having food delivered sometimes! Having easy to prepare food made by my husband/parents that was easy to reach/reheat also really helped me.
Purchasing items to prepare for recovery:
Raised toilet seat + arms for a really low toilet, especially helpful for the first couple of weeks when my ab muscles were so weak and sore. Also baby wipes!
Small pillow for the drive home (to cushion against the seatbelt) and holding against my belly when standing up/walking on the first week. I also purchased another cute, soft whale plushie from Miniso (like a Japanese dollar store) to sleep/cuddle with.
Bath chair for showetub. It was so comforting to sit and have a hot shower as I can't have a bath until the 8 week mark. The moist heat helped with the soreness and it was nice to be able to shower and towel-dry myself independently. I still needed help to get out of the tub to avoid falling/slipping, a suction cup grab bar and tub mat also helps with this.
Wedge pillow + lots of pillows on my side and under my knees. I shared a bed so I went with this option but I'm sure those C-shaped pregnancy pillows will also help.
Multiple plastic cups with straws: I was so thirsty and having watejuice on hand also helped me have regular BMs. Glasses were heavy during the first week and the plastic cups helped me get extra fluids in.
Hanes nightshirts (my fave! looks like a giant t-shirt that goes down to my knees) and Fruit of the loom plus-size high-waisted panties from Amazon, both 2-3 sizes up for the swollen belly. I was peeing so often in the first couple of weeks from soups and drinking so much water that I didn't wanna fuss with pants. I wore other (thrifted) t-shirt dresses and slip-on shoes for walks cause I didn't want anything touching my swollen belly.
No effort/easy to swallow food such as applesauce and pudding. As naproxen had to be taken with food, I ate applesauce and pudding with naproxen when the timing was before/after meals. Also pudding was a nice treat when I felt so crappy.
Popsicles! My throat was a little sore from intubation, so the ice chips were heavenly in the hospital, and popsicles helped a lot during the first week. It was the height of summer as well at the time, so popsicles also helped keep me cool.
Following pre- and post-op instructions from hospital and doctor's office. I stopped vitamins and asprin-like meds a week before surgery, followed the no food after enema the night before surgery, and only drank the approved fluids (water and apple/cranberry juice) up until an hour before I was admitted to the hospital. If you don't follow pre-op instructions, you may be denied surgery. For post-op, my only instructions aside from the OTC pain meds schedule were no full intercourse and no baths/swimming for 8 weeks, light low impact exercise 2 weeks onwards, and visit the ER if any symptoms of surgical complications show up (didn't need to). So in addition to that, I followed the guidelines that I frequently saw on the sub: no bending, no lifting over 5 pounds, and going up stairs one step at a time and taking breaks when needed.
Lots of slow walking. (I didn't have restrictions from my surgeon but if you do, follow them.)
Cannabis (in small doses,) which is legal where I live. After I finished 10 days of naproxen, I stopped tylenol and I tried 5 mg THC/CBD edibles at night and I was finally able to sleep for 6-7 hours straight. The cannabis numbed my pain in a more effective way compared to tramadol, tylenol, and naproxen. In hindsight, I wish I took cannabis sooner instead of bearing with tylenol and naproxen but I followed doctors orders and I didn’t know if the cannabis would interfere with anesthesia post-op. I also took a high CBD oil (1.5 mg THC: 25 mg CBD) during the day, which helped mute most of the pain during the day on the second week.
Having a routine. Since I'm having an easy recovery, having a routine helps me not feel down and have things to focus on/look forward to. My routine is having a couple of walks between breakfast and dinner and watching TV/reading a book during the afternoon/after dinner.
Please feel free to ask questions, I'm happy to help! I hope your surgery goes smoothly as well and for those recovering, I hope your recovery continues to be smooth sailing. :)
As you may have seen, I sent the following Tweet: “The Apple ARM MacBook future is coming, maybe sooner than people expect” https://twitter.com/choco_bit/status/1266200305009676289?s=20 Today, I would like to further elaborate on that. tl;drApple will be moving to Arm based macs in what I believe are 4 stages, starting around 2015 and ending around 2023-2025: Release of T1 chip Macbooks, release of T2 chip Macbooks, Release of at least one lower end model Arm Macbook, and transitioning full lineup to Arm. Reasons for each are below. Apple is very likely going to switch to switch their CPU platform to their in-house silicon designs with an ARM architecture. This understanding is a fairly common amongst various Apple insiders. Here is my personal take on how this switch will happen and be presented to the consumer. The first question would likely be “Why would Apple do this again?”. Throughout their history, Apple has already made two other storied CPU architecture switches - first from the Motorola 68k to PowerPC in the early 90s, then from PowerPC to Intel in the mid 2000s. Why make yet another? Here are the leading reasons:
Intel has, in recent years, been making significant losses both in reputation and in actual product value, as well as velocity of product development, breaking their bi-yearly “Tick Tock” cycle for the first time in decades. Most recently, they have fallen well behind AMD’s processor lines in cost to performance ratio, CPU core count, core design (monolithic design vs “chiplet”), power consumption to performance, silicon supply (Intel with significant manufacturing process and yield issues), and on-silicon security features. While Intel still wins out in certain enterprise and datacenter applications, as well as having a much better reputation for reliability and QA (AMD having shipped numerous chips with a broken random- number generator that prevented even booting some mainstream operating system), the number of such applications slowly dwindles with each new release from AMD, and as confidence among decisionmakers in enterprise increases. In the public consciousness, Intel is quickly becoming a point of ridicule against Apple’s Mac lineup, rather than a badge of honor.
By moving to their own designs, Apple will be free from Intel’s release schedule, which have recently been unpredictable and faced with routine delays due to poor manufacturing yields. Apple will be able to update their Mac lineup on their own timeline, rather than being forced to delay products based on Intel’s ability to meet the release window. This also allows them to leverage relationships with other silicon fabricators to source chips, rather than relying on Intel ’s continued “iteration” that’s leading to a “14nm++++++++++” process, or the continued lack of product diversity with the 10nm process. Apple will also be free to innovate in the design of the silicon platform, rather than being limited by Intel’s design choices. By having full control of the manufacturing and development cycle, Apple can bring even more in-house optimization to the macOS, as they have been for iOS and iPadOS over the years.
Using an ARM architecture on the Macs allows for a more unified Apple ecosystem, rather than having separate Mac and iOS-based products. The only distinction will be the device form factor and performance characteristics.
The x86_64 architecture is very old and inefficient, using older methodologies for processor design (CISC vs ARM’s RISC), and the instruction set continues to require support in silicon for emulating 1980s-vintage 16-bit modes, as well as ineffectual and archaic memory addressing modes (segmentation, etc.) The x86_64 architecture is like a city, built atop a much older city, built atop a yet older city, but every layer is built with NYC infrastructure levels of complexity that suited its time and no further.
Over the last 10 years, Apple has shown that they can consistently produce impressive silicon designs, often leading the market in performance and capability, and Apple has been aggressively acquiring silicon design talent.
A common refrain heard on the Internet is the suggestion that Apple should switch to using CPUs made by AMD, and while this has been considered internally, it will most likely not be chosen as the path forward, even for their megalithic giants like the Mac Pro. Even though AMD would mitigate Intel’s current set of problems, it does nothing to help the issue of the x86_64 architecture’s problems and inefficiencies, on top of jumping to a platform that doesn’t have a decade of proven support behind it. Why spend a lot of effort re-designing and re- optimizing for AMD’s platform when you can just put that effort into your own, and continue the vertical integration Apple is well-known for? I believe that the internal development for the ARM transition started around 2015/2016 and is considered to be happening in 4 distinct stages. These are not all information from Apple insiders; some of these these are my own interpretation based off of information gathered from supply-chain sources, examination of MacBook schematics, and other indicators from Apple.
Stage1 (from 2014/2015 to 2017):
The rollout of computers with Apple’s T1 chip as a coprocessor. This chip is very similar to Apple’s T8002 chip design, which was used for the Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2. The T1 is primarily present on the first TouchID enabled Macs, 2016 and 2017 model year MacBook Pros. Considering the amount of time required to design and validate a processor, this stage most likely started around 2014 or 2015, with early experimentation to see whether an entirely new chip design would be required, or if would be sufficient to repurpose something in the existing lineup. As we can see, the general purpose ARM processors aren’t a one- trick pony. To get a sense of the decision making at the time, let’s look back a bit. The year is 2016, and we're witnessing the beginning of stagnation of Intel processor lineup. There is not a lot to look forward to other than another “+” being added to the 14nm fabrication process. The MacBook Pro has used the same design for many years now, and its age is starting to show. Moving to AMD is still very questionable, as they’ve historically not been able to match Intel’s performance or functionality, especially at the high end, and since the “Ryzen” lineup is still unreleased, there is absolutely no benchmarks or other data to show they are worth consideration, and AMD’s most recent line of “Bulldozer” processors were very poorly received. Now is probably as good a time as any to begin experimenting with the in-house ARM designs, but it’s not time to dive into the deep end yet, our chips are not nearly mature enough to compete, and it’s not yet certain how long Intel will be stuck in the mud. As well, it is widely understood that Apple and Intel have an exclusivity contract in exchange for advantageous pricing. Any transition would take considerable time and effort, and since there are no current viable alternative to Intel, the in-house chips will need to advance further, and breaching a contract with Intel is too great a risk. So it makes sense to start with small deployments, to extend the timeline, stretch out to the end of the contract, and eventually release a real banger of a Mac. Thus, the 2016 Touch Bar MacBooks were born, alongside the T1 chip mentioned earlier. There are good reasons for abandoning the piece of hardware previously used for a similar purpose, the SMC or System Management Controller. I suspect that the biggest reason was to allow early analysis of the challenges that would be faced migrating Mac built- in peripherals and IO to an ARM-based controller, as well as exploring the manufacturing, power, and performance results of using the chips across a broad deployment, and analyzing any early failure data, then using this to patch any issues, enhance processes, and inform future designs looking towards the 2nd stage. The former SMC duties now moved to T1 includes things like
Fan speed, voltage, amperage and thermal sensor feedback data
FaceTime camera and microphone IO
PMIC (Power Management Controller)
Direct communication to NAND (solid state storage)
Direct communication with the Touch Bar
Secure Enclave for TouchID
The T1 chip also communicates with a number of other controllers to manage a MacBook’s behavior. Even though it’s not a very powerful CPU by modern standards, it’s already responsible for a large chunk of the machine’s operation. Moving control of these peripherals to the T1 chip also brought about the creation of the fabled BridgeOS software, a shrunken-down watchOS-based system that operates fully independently of macOS and the primary Intel processor. BridgeOS is the first step for Apple’s engineering teams to begin migrating underlying systems and services to integrate with the ARM processor via BridgeOS, and it allowed internal teams to more easily and safely develop and issue firmware updates. Since BridgeOS is based on a standard and now well-known system, it means that they can leverage existing engineering expertise to flesh out the T1’s development, rather than relying on the more arcane and specialized SMC system, which operates completely differently and requires highly specific knowledge to work with. It also allows reuse of the same fabrication pipeline used for Apple Watch processors, and eliminated the need to have yet another IC design for the SMC, coming from a separate source, to save a bit on cost. Also during this time, on the software side, “Project Marzipan”, today Catalyst, came into existence. We'll get to this shortly. For the most part, this Stage 1 went without any major issues. There were a few firmware problems at first during the product launch, but they were quickly solved with software updates. Now that engineering teams have had experience building for, manufacturing, and shipping the T1 systems, Stage 2 would begin.
Stage 2 encompasses the rollout of Macs with the T2 coprocessor, replacing the T1. This includes a much wider lineup, including MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, starting with 2018 models, MacBook Air starting with 2018 models, the iMac Pro, the 2019 Mac Pro, as well as Mac Mini starting in 2018. With this iteration, the more powerful T8012 processor design was used, which is a further revision of the T8010 design that powers the A10 series processors used in the iPhone 7. This change provided a significant increase in computational ability and brought about the integration of even more devices into T2. In addition to the T1’s existing responsibilities, T2 now controls:
Full audio subsystem
Secure Enclave for internal NAND storage and encryption/decryption offload
Management of the whole system’s power and startup sequence, allowing for trusted boot (ensure boot chain-of-trust with no malicious code/rootkit/bootkit)
Those last 2 points are crucial for Stage 2. Under this new paradigm, the vast majority of the Mac is now under the control of an in-house ARM processor. Stage 2 also brings iPhone-grade hardware security to the Mac. These T2 models also incorporated a supported DFU (Device Firmware Update, more commonly “recovery mode”), which acts similarly to the iPhone DFU mode and allows restoration of the BridgeOS firmware in the event of corruption (most commonly due to user-triggered power interruption during flashing). Putting more responsibility onto the T2 again allows for Apple’s engineering teams to do more early failure analysis on hardware and software, monitor stability of these machines, experiment further with large-scale production and deployment of this ARM platform, as well as continue to enhance the silicon for Stage 3. A few new user-visible features were added as well in this stage, such as support for the passive “Hey Siri” trigger, and offloading image and video transcoding to the T2 chip, which frees up the main Intel processor for other applications. BridgeOS was bumped to 2.0 to support all of these changes and the new chip. On the macOS software side, what was internally known as Project Marzipan was first demonstrated to the public. Though it was originally discovered around 2017, and most likely began development and testing within later parts of Stage 1, its effects could be seen in 2018 with the release of iPhone apps, now running on the Mac using the iOS SDKs: Voice Recorder, Apple News, Home, Stocks, and more, with an official announcement and public release at WWDC in 2019. Catalyst would come to be the name of Marzipan used publicly. This SDK release allows app developers to easily port iOS apps to run on macOS, with minimal or no code changes, and without needing to develop separate versions for each. The end goal is to allow developers to submit a single version of an app, and allow it to work seamlessly on all Apple platforms, from Watch to Mac. At present, iOS and iPadOS apps are compiled for the full gamut of ARM instruction sets used on those devices, while macOS apps are compiled for x86_64. The logical next step is to cross this bridge, and unify the instruction sets. With this T2 release, the new products using it have not been quite as well received as with the T1. Many users have noticed how this change contributes further towards machines with limited to no repair options outside of Apple’s repair organization, as well as some general issues with bugs in the T2. Products with the T2 also no longer have the “Lifeboat” connector, which was previously present on 2016 and 2017 model Touch Bar MacBook Pro. This connector allowed a certified technician to plug in a device called a CDM Tool (Customer Data Migration Tool) to recover data off of a machine that was not functional. The removal of this connector limits the options for data recovery in the event of a problem, and Apple has never offered any data recovery service, meaning that a irreparable failure of the T2 chip or the primary board would result in complete data loss, in part due to the strong encryption provided by the T2 chip (even if the data got off, the encryption keys were lost with the T2 chip). The T2 also brought about the linkage of component serial numbers of certain internal components, such as the solid state storage, display, and trackpad, among other components. In fact, many other controllers on the logic board are now also paired to the T2, such as the WiFi and Bluetooth controller, the PMIC (Power Management Controller), and several other components. This is the exact same system used on newer iPhone models and is quite familiar to technicians who repair iPhone logic boards. While these changes are fantastic for device security and corporate and enterprise users, allowing for a very high degree of assurance that devices will refuse to boot if tampered with in any way - even from storied supply chain attacks, or other malfeasance that can be done with physical access to a machine - it has created difficulty with consumers who more often lack the expertise or awareness to keep critical data backed up, as well as the funds to perform the necessary repairs from authorized repair providers. Other issues reported that are suspected to be related to T2 are audio “cracking” or distortion on the internal speakers, and the BridgeOS becoming corrupt following a firmware update resulting in a machine that can’t boot. I believe these hiccups will be properly addressed once macOS is fully integrated with the ARM platform. This stage of the Mac is more like a chimera of an iPhone and an Intel based computer. Technically, it does have all of the parts of an iPhone present within it, cellular radio aside, and I suspect this fusion is why these issues exist. Recently, security researchers discovered an underlying security problem present within the Boot ROM code of the T1 and T2 chip. Due to being the same fundamental platform as earlier Apple Watch and iPhone processors, they are vulnerable to the “checkm8” exploit (CVE-2019-8900). Because of how these chips operate in a Mac, firmware modifications caused by use of the exploit will persist through OS reinstallation and machine restarts. Both the T1 and T2 chips are always on and running, though potentially in a heavily reduced power usage state, meaning the only way to clean an exploited machine is to reflash the chip, triggering a restart, or to fully exhaust or physically disconnect the battery to flush its memory. Fortunately, this exploit cannot be done remotely and requires physical access to the Mac for an extended duration, as well as a second Mac to perform the change, so the majority of users are relatively safe. As well, with a very limited execution environment and access to the primary system only through a “mailbox” protocol, the utility of exploiting these chips is extremely limited. At present, there is no known malware that has used this exploit. The proper fix will come with the next hardware revision, and is considered a low priority due to the lack of practical usage of running malicious code on the coprocessor. At the time of writing, all current Apple computers have a T2 chip present, with the exception of the 2019 iMac lineup. This will change very soon with the expected release of the 2020 iMac lineup at WWDC, which will incorporate a T2 coprocessor as well. Note: from here on, this turns entirely into speculation based on info gathered from a variety of disparate sources. Right now, we are in the final steps of Stage 2. There are strong signs that an a MacBook (12”) with an ARM main processor will be announced this year at WWDC (“One more thing...”), at a Fall 2020 event, Q1 2021 event, or WWDC 2021. Based on the lack of a more concrete answer, WWDC2020 will likely not see it, but I am open to being wrong here.
Stage3 (Present/2021 - 2022/2023):
Stage 3 involves the first version of at least one fully ARM-powered Mac into Apple’s computer lineup. I expect this will come in the form of the previously-retired 12” MacBook. There are rumors that Apple is still working internally to perfect the infamous Butterfly keyboard, and there are also signs that Apple is developing an A14x based processors with 8-12 cores designed specifically for use as the primary processor in a Mac. It makes sense that this model could see the return of the Butterfly keyboard, considering how thin and light it is intended to be, and using an A14x processor would make it will be a very capable, very portable machine, and should give customers a good taste of what is to come. Personally, I am excited to test the new 12" “ARMbook”. I do miss my own original 12", even with all the CPU failure issues those older models had. It was a lovely form factor for me. It's still not entirely known whether the physical design of these will change from the retired version, exactly how many cores it will have, the port configuration, etc. I have also heard rumors about the 12” model possibly supporting 5G cellular connectivity natively thanks to the A14 series processor. All of this will most likely be confirmed soon enough. This 12” model will be the perfect stepping stone for stage 3, since Apple’s ARM processors are not yet a full-on replacement for Intel’s full processor lineup, especially at the high end, in products such as the upcoming 2020 iMac, iMac Pro, 16” MacBook Pro, and the 2019 Mac Pro. Performance of Apple’s ARM platform compared to Intel has been a big point of contention over the last couple years, primarily due to the lack of data representative of real-world desktop usage scenarios. The iPad Pro and other models with Apple’s highest-end silicon still lack the ability to execute a lot of high end professional applications, so data about anything more than video editing and photo editing tasks benchmarks quickly becomes meaningless. While there are completely synthetic benchmarks like Geekbench, Antutu, and others, to try and bridge the gap, they are very far from being accurate or representative of the real real world performance in many instances. Even though the Apple ARM processors are incredibly powerful, and I do give constant praise to their silicon design teams, there still just isn’t enough data to show how they will perform for real-world desktop usage scenarios, and synthetic benchmarks are like standardized testing: they only show how good a platform is at running the synthetic benchmark. This type of benchmark stresses only very specific parts of each chip at a time, rather than how well it does a general task, and then boil down the complexity and nuances of each chip into a single numeric score, which is not a remotely accurate way of representing processors with vastly different capabilities and designs. It would be like gauging how well a person performs a manual labor task based on averaging only the speed of every individual muscle in the body, regardless of if, or how much, each is used. A specific group of muscles being stronger or weaker than others could wildly skew the final result, and grossly misrepresent performance of the person as a whole. Real world program performance will be the key in determining the success and future of this transition, and it will have to be great on this 12" model, but not just in a limited set of tasks, it will have to be great at *everything*. It is intended to be the first Horseman of the Apocalypse for the Intel Mac, and it better behave like one. Consumers have been expecting this, especially after 15 years of Intel processors, the continued advancement of Apple’s processors, and the decline of Intel’s market lead. The point of this “demonstration” model is to ease both users and developers into the desktop ARM ecosystem slowly. Much like how the iPhone X paved the way for FaceID-enabled iPhones, this 12" model will pave the way towards ARM Mac systems. Some power-user type consumers may complain at first, depending on the software compatibility story, then realize it works just fine since the majority of the computer users today do not do many tasks that can’t be accomplished on an iPad or lower end computer. Apple needs to gain the public’s trust for basic tasks first, before they will be able to break into the market of users performing more hardcore or “Pro” tasks. This early model will probably not be targeted at these high-end professionals, which will allow Apple to begin to gather early information about the stability and performance of this model, day to day usability, developmental issues that need to be addressed, hardware failure analysis, etc. All of this information is crucial to Stage 4, or possibly later parts of Stage 3. The 2 biggest concerns most people have with the architecture change is app support and Bootcamp. Any apps released through the Mac App Store will not be a problem. Because App Store apps are submitted as LLVM IR (“Bitcode”), the system can automatically download versions compiled and optimized for ARM platforms, similar to how App Thinning on iOS works. For apps distributed outside the App Store, thing might be more tricky. There are a few ways this could go:
Developer will need to build both x86_64 and ARM version of their app - App Bundles have supported multiple-architecture binaries since the dawn of OS X and the PowerPC transition
Move to apps being distributed in an architecture-independent manner, as they are on the App Store. There is some software changes that are suggestive of this, such as the new architecture in dyld3.
An x86_64 instruction decoder in silicon - very unlikely due to the significant overhead this would create in the silicon design, and potential licensing issues. (ARM, being a RISC, “reduced instruction set”, has very few instructions; x86_64 has thousands)
Server-side ahead-of-time transpilation (converting x86 code to equivalent ARM code) using Notarization submissions - Apple certainly has the compiler chops in the LLVM team to do something like this
Outright emulation, similar to the approach that was taken in ARM releases of Windows, but received extremely poorly (limited to 32-bit apps, and very very slow)There could be other solutions in the works to fix this but I am not aware of any. This is just me speculating about some of the possibilities.
As for Bootcamp, while ARM-compatible versions of Windows do exist and are in development, they come with their own similar set of app support problems. Microsoft has experimented with emulating x86_64 on their ARM-based Surface products, and some other OEMs have created their own Windows-powered ARM laptops, but with very little success. Performance is a problem across the board, with other ARM silicon not being anywhere near as advanced, and with the majority of apps in the Windows ecosystem that were not developed in-house at Microsoft running terribly due to the x86_64 emulation software. If Bootcamp does come to the early ARM MacBook, it more than likely will run like very poorly for anything other than Windows UWP apps. There is a high chance it will be abandoned entirely until Windows becomes much more friendly to the architecture. I believe this will also be a very crucial turning point for the MacBook lineup as a whole. At present, the iPad Pro paired with the Magic Keyboard is, in many ways, nearly identical to a laptop, with the biggest difference being the system software itself. While Apple executives have outright denied plans of merging the iPad and MacBook line, that could very well just be a marketing stance, shutting the down rumors in anticipation of a well-executed surprise. I think that Apple might at least re-examine the possibility of merging Macs and iPads in some capacity, but whether they proceed or not could be driven by consumer reaction to both products. Do they prefer the feel and usability of macOS on ARM, and like the separation of both products? Is there success across the industry of the ARM platform, both at the lower and higher end of the market? Do users see that iPadOS and macOS are just 2 halves of the same coin? Should there be a middle ground, and a new type of product similar to the Surface Book, but running macOS? Should Macs and iPads run a completely uniform OS? Will iPadOS ever see exposed the same sort of UNIX-based tools for IT administrators and software developers that macOS has present? These are all very real questions that will pop up in the near future. The line between Stage 3 and Stage 4 will be blurry, and will depend on how Apple wishes to address different problems going forward, and what the reactions look like. It is very possible that only 12” will be released at first, or a handful more lower end model laptop and desktop products could be released, with high performance Macs following in Stage 4, or perhaps everything but enterprise products like Mac Pro will be switched fully. Only time will tell.
Stage 4 (the end goal):
Congratulations, you’re made it to the end of my TED talk. We are now well into the 2020s and COVID-19 Part 4 is casually catching up to the 5G = Virus crowd. All Macs have transitioned fully to ARM. iMac, MacBooks Pro and otherwise, Mac Pro, Mac Mini, everything. The future is fully Apple from top to bottom, and vertical integration leading to market dominance continues. Many other OEM have begun to follow in this path to some extent, creating more demand for a similar class of silicon from other firms. The remainder here is pure speculation with a dash of wishful thinking. There are still a lot of things that are entirely unclear. The only concrete thing is that Stage 4 will happen when everything is running Apple’s in- house processors. By this point, consumers will be quite familiar with the ARM Macs existing, and developers have had have enough time to transition apps fully over to the newly unified system. Any performance, battery life, or app support concerns will not be an issue at this point. There are no more details here, it’s the end of the road, but we are left with a number of questions. It is unclear if Apple will stick to AMD's GPUs or whether they will instead opt to use their in-house graphics solutions that have been used since the A11 series of processors. How Thunderbolt support on these models of Mac will be achieved is unknown. While Intel has made it openly available for use, and there are plans to have USB and Thunderbolt combined in a single standard, it’s still unclear how it will play along with Apple processors. Presently, iPhones do support connecting devices via PCI Express to the processor, but it has only been used for iPhone and iPad storage. The current Apple processors simply lack the number of lanes required for even the lowest end MacBook Pro. This is an issue that would need to be addressed in order to ship a full desktop-grade platform. There is also the question of upgradability for desktop models, and if and how there will be a replaceable, socketed version of these processors. Will standard desktop and laptop memory modules play nicely with these ARM processors? Will they drop standard memory across the board, in favor of soldered options, or continue to support user-configurable memory on some models? Will my 2023 Mac Pro play nicely with a standard PCI Express device that I buy off the shelf? Will we see a return of “Mac Edition” PCI devices? There are still a lot of unknowns, and guessing any further in advance is too difficult. The only thing that is certain, however, is that Apple processors coming to Mac is very much within arm’s reach.
OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – ESCAPE FROM STALAG SULTANATE, Part 1
That reminds me of a story. “HELLFIRE AND DALMATIANS!” I shouted to no one in particular. “What’s the problem, dear?” Esme asks in that way she has of telling me to calm down without having to say it directly. “This bloody fucking country. A day late and several dollars short.” I fume. “Can’t get a new liquor license because of the bloody COVID. Can’t go to a hotel bar and have a snort because of the bloody COVID. Can’t even slip across the border to Dubai and soak up some room service and buckets of complimentary cocktails because of the bloody COVID.” Yes, the Sultanate of Oman, in its infinitesimal wisdom, has traditionally followed other GCC countries by at least three months in making any sort of proclamations regarding this latest bugaboo: the hideous, deadly, itchy, loathsome, and possibly serially bent, noxious, pandemical COVID-19; aka, this pandemic’s entry for flu. Their response is one of immense knee-jerk without first having thought of the consequences. “Bloody lockdown, 2100 to 0700. What is this, the whole fucking country’s been bad and now being sent to bed without any supper?” I wondered aloud. “Idiot benchodes.” Even Esme couldn’t come up with a rejoinder to that. “Plus they close all the bars. And all the hotels. And the fucking bottle shops. It’s not enough that these fucking Muppets jack the ‘sin tax’ on booze and cigars by 100%, now they’re not even legally available.” I swore. Of course, once you’ve spent even a small portion of the time that I have in the Middle East, you have your connections. Your system. Your access to the seedy underbelly of any society; the venerable Black Market. Jesus Q. Christ on toast with baked beans, fried tomatoes, black pudding, and mushrooms, I could get most anything in the Middle East, be it legal, shady, or just plain illegal. However, before you all recoil in horror that the venerable Dr. Rocknocker dabbles in the prohibited, just remember: the ends always dojustify the means. “I'm telling you, Esme dear; this Gulf story is getting too complicated. The weasels have started closing in.” I complain to Es as she hands me a fresh drink. “Do you think…?” Esme asks expectantly. Esme is more than ready to go. I’ve used this place as a base of operations for years whilst I wear out the Omani legal system suing those asswipes that think just because they’re local and I’m a kafir, they’re immune to the law. I’ve spent a long, profitable and time-consuming period of the last few years proving them wrong. But, time was marching onwards. I agreed with Esme, we’ve milked this particular cash cow dry. It was time to hitch up our bootstraps, call it a day, and get the hell out of Dodge. But not before I took care of a few loose ends. Now, the country had recently lost its venerable Sultan, who croaked back in January of this year. Sultan Qaboos was a good egg, friend to expat and local alike. Did a shitload of good for this benighted Middle East sandpit. Dragged it kicking and screaming out of the 12th century into, well, not exactly the 21st, but a whole hell of a lot closer. He realized that he needed revolutionary, not evolutionary change in the country. By revolutionary, he needed American, British, Canadian, and the like Western Expats here to do the heavy thinking and lifting and Eastern Expats like Indians, Bangladeshis and Nepalese to do all the scut work. Yeah, I know. That sounds racist as fuck, but sometimes that’s the way the ball bounced. Simple evolution of society where Omanis graduated the local equivalent of grade school, through high school, into University, and finally into Entry level jobs in the oil and gas industry wasn’t going to cut it. Took too long and the country needed a serious cash flow now. So, that’s what he did. And it worked a treat. Then he died. And his chosen took over. Except his chosen was pretty much antithetical to everything the previous and very revered and successful, Sultan wanted. Soon, there are 100% ‘sin taxes’ aimed directly at the western expats. Tourists included. Then there’s quotas and ‘Letters of No Objection’, which are impossible to get so that the Eastern Expats can’t switch jobs. Then, there are Sultanic proclamations of new taxes on tourists, new taxes on fast food, new taxes on this, that and the other. Then there’s, in his own words, “Oman is for Omanis”, blatantly ridiculous and xenophobic Omanization, and the general swipe at all expats. “GET OUT.” This was the clear message of the new sultan. He wanted to take over and possibly nationalize all the oil workings in the country. Ask Venezuela, Iran, and Myanmar how well that worked out for them. Then he wants all expats out on their asses. He wants Omanis to take over all the jobs, even though they’re nowhere near educated nor experienced enough for the positions. Then take up the massive GDP slack in lower oil production and oil prices with tourism. Given everything else, that last line should be enough to get him off the throne. He’s fucking nuts if he thinks people are going to want to cruise or overland anywhere near a place where foreigners are seen only as a cash supply, are despised, and would welcome these all new 100% tax levies. Be that as it may, Esme and I decided that we have had enough of 135O F summer temperatures, virtual house arrest under the guise of a COVID lockdown, and idiots who were the only ones stupid or twisted enough not to vamoose when the great, big bloody letters were clearly written on the wall. But, there was the physical act of getting out of the country. Now, I had plenty of strings which I could pull, but I decided I’d start low and save those until we really needed them. So low, in fact, we went to the US Embassy in Muscat. “How low can you go?” reverberated through my head. What a haven of sad-sacks, flubadubs, and third rate hobbyists. Was either Esme or I surprised that when we finally secured an invitation to the embassy, that required a bit of string-pulling with the ex-Ambassador to Oman, now in Kabul; that besides the peach-fuzz faced Marine guarding the place, we were the only Americans in the joint? “This is American soil!” I laughed, as I pulled out a huge Cuban cigar and was immediately told to extinguish it. “We’re as American as apple pie and napalm! We file our fucking 1040s every April; I pay my fucking long-distance taxes and demand US assistance to vacate this gloomy place of sandy, sweaty, sultry Sturm und Drang!” “Shut up, Rock”, Esme chided me, “They don’t understand English. Much less, the florid English the way you trowel it on.” “Fuckbuckets”, I remonstrated. “Here I had memorized the whole Patrick Henry speech he made to the Second Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia. Troglodytes. No admiration for the classics.” “Rock, dear?” Esme noted, “It’s almost 1100 hours. Best to get to our appointment.” True, our appointment was slated for 1100 hours. But around here, anything starting within three hours of the stated time was considered close enough. We dragged ourselves, none too cheerfully, to the waiting room. Once we pried open the door, there was the usual “If you hear a high pitched wail, hit the deck” signs, and other things one could do while kissing one’s ass goodbye if there was a terrorist attack, we had a whole new slew of bullshit with which to deal. “Social distancing. 6 feet. Or if you’re from Baja Canada, 1 cow’s length.” “Must wear a mask. Bandanna, bandoliers, and large-caliber weapons or sombrero optional.” “No sitting. Faux Naugahyde seats are too difficult to sterilize. You must stand at attention, do not talk amongst yourselves, and remain patient until your number is called.” “Well, fuck!”, I snorted quietly, as I raised my first secret flask in rapt attention to our old glory of red, white, and blue. “Good thing they didn’t say nothin’ about getting a load on. If I’m going to be treated like cattle, I’m going to at least have something to chew on in the process.” “Oh, lord”, Esme grumbled, “You didn’t bring that Japanese Rye Whiskey with you, did you?” “ルハイム”, I said, which is Japanese for “L’chaim”! “Oh, hell”, Esme grinned as she borrowed my flask, “This is going to be a long day.” I began to protest but remembered that I was wearing my Agency-issued field vest. I must have had at least 5 or 6 more flasks lurking around in those pockets somewhere. Funny aside: they don’t bother with my going through an X-ray machine nor do they confiscate my phone, radio, knives, nor other field equipment when I go to the US Embassy. It took them almost two solid hours last time, and by the time they got to my Brunton Compass, emergency flasks, a few spare blasting cap boosters, and saw the label sewn into the back of my vest, they decided they’d just send Rack and Ruin some evil Emails and let me pass unmolested. “I’ll drink to that”, I say as I raise a flask as the locals raise an eyebrow. “Courtesy of Atheists International. We’re here for your children…” The collective gasps and growls indicate they weren’t happy with me or my betrothed. “Don’t care, Buckwheat”, I smiled, “Never did, never will. We’re out of here for good. You can curse my name all you want then. But, then again, why you standing in the American Embassy trying to get a visa to visit the land of the great evil empire?” All the locals and most of the Eastern Expats crowded into a corner as far away from us as they physically could. “BOO!” I snickered over a shot of Wild Turkey 101 Rye. “Now serving number 58! Number 58!” came the call over the tannoy. “Look at that”, I remarked to Es as I stashed both our flasks, “It’s only 12:35. Record time.” We both shimmy into the glass-fronted and presumably bullet- but not C-4 resistant- glass. We pick up the telephones there and acknowledge that we are who we said we were. The East Indian fella, one Harsh Talavalakar, behind the multiple layers of glass asked us why we were here. “Didn’t you read the appointment card?” I asked, “We’re here to have Uncle Sam get us passage out of this sordid and sultry place.” “You are American citizens?” he asked, vacantly. “That’s what it says on appointment cards and these here blue passports,” I replied. “Well, how was I to know?” he scoffed, returning to his half-consumed powdered sugar doughnut. “Maybe read the appointment card and see that we are US Citizens here on the behest of Ambassador Bethesda Orun?” I replied. “Like I have time to read everything that comes across my desk”, he scoffed again. I tapped on the glass to make certain I had his full attention. “Look here, Herr Harsh. I’m not sure how you got this job at the American Consulate but want to be very clear with you. My wife and I are residents of this place for the last 20 years. We’re American citizens of very high standing and have more high powered connections than an Arduino in a nuclear power station. We have direct connections with Langley, Virginia and if you want to retain your cushy job, you’ll put down that fucking doughnut and pay very rapt attention to the two Americans standing here who are getting more and more irritated with some Indian benchode that doesn’t think he has to really do his job. You savvy? You diggin’ me, Beaumont” I guess the benchode got his attention. The two scowls he received from Esme and myself sort of cemented the idea that we’re not too pleased and not with to be trifled. “Yes, sir?” he said, “And ma’am”, as Harsh quickly corrected himself as the doughnut disappeared. “We want out. Gone. Vamoose. Outta here. AMF. You got me?” he nods behind the shatterprone glass. “Now I know the borders are sealed and the airport’s closed, but fuck that. We want out and we want gone for good. I can’t make that much simpler or clearer. Get after it, son.” I said, as seriously as I could. “Well, sir”, he began, “ The airport’s closed…” “Are you deaf or born stupid and been losing ground ever since?” I asked, rhetorically. “I know that. We all know that. My HAT knows that. So, what devious little plan does the US Embassy have in store in just such an unsavory situation?” “Well”, he chokes a bit, “There’s this unofficial lottery where America citizens are issued random numbers and if their number comes up, there are seats made available on special clandestine charter flights.” Considering that Es and I are some of the last American citizens left in the country, I thought our chances might be pretty good. “OK”, I said, “Let us have two of your finest numbers.” “Yes, sir”, he said, “That will be US$500 total.” “Excuse me?” I said. “Oh, yes”, he smirked, “US$250 per number. Chances are you’ll never be called, but with these numbers, at least you stand a chance.” “OK”, I said, “Forget the numbers. I want your name and operating number. I’ve got a report to file that’s due in Virginia before breakfast.” “Oh, sir”, he smirked more, “I cannot release that information. Thanking you. Now be having a good day.” And he slammed the supposedly bulletproof shield between himself and Es and me. “Bulletproof? Maybe. Nitro proof? No fucking way.” I groused as I fished out a couple of blasting cap superfast boosters. “Calm down, dear”, Esme smiled to me as we walked out, “When he wasn’t looking, I took his picture, got his operating number, and full name. In fact, I think I got some information on where he lives…” In the cab on the way back to our villa, I reviewed and confirmed Es’s subterfuge. Flasks number 6 and 8 needed serious replenishment by the time we arrived home. “That’s fucking right, Ruin.” I yelled over the phone, “We need extraction. And now. Along with our personal effects and a few hundredweight of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ boxes of stuff we need to be transported.” “Well, Rock”, Agent Ruin replied, “That’s a tall order. Usually, extraction is for one person and the stuff they’re wearing. Tell you what. Let Rack and I work on it for a week or so. We’ll arrange transport of your personal effects, then we’ll see about getting you and Esme to Dubai. At least there, you can order a plane. Hell, knowing you, you’ll get Tony Stark to fly in and provide door to door service. Sit tight. We’ll be back in touch.” “Good!” I say as I slam the phone down. With these newfangled cellphone telephone instruments, they lack the same sort of satisfying “KER FUCKING CLANG” the old landlines used to have. “Es!”, I yelled, “Start packing. We’re due out of here within a week.” That meant we needed to do some packing triage: • Things going home with us. • Things being shipped. • Things being sold. • Things being left behind. • Things no one was about to get their furry little mitts on. “Oh, fuck!”, I startled. I had just remembered the John Wick-ian stash of various explosives, and adjunct materials I had buried in the basement. Obviously, I couldn’t take it home with me, I couldn’t sell it, and I sure as festering frothing fuck wasn’t going to leave it here. I needed to call one of my more shifty and swarthy friends and arrange for passage out to the deep, dark desert. Around the area where the new sultan had opened a couple of brand new landfills. Looks like I was going to expand them a few meters once we disposed of the few hundred kilos of accumulation I attained over the last few years. See, I’m a packrat. I never leave nor toss anything that might be convenient. Might have a benefit. Might prove to be useful sometime down the line. So, I’ve accumulated a bit of kit. Like…well…a few hundred sticks of Du Pont 60% Extra Fast Dynamite. A couple dozen spools of Z-4 Primacord, in various degrees of fullness. A shitload of C-4; enough bricks for a Floydian wall. A couple, well, a dozen, well, two dozen cases of binary liquid explosives. Hey, this stuff is hard to come by… Continuing, several thousand blasting caps and superfast flash blasting cap boosters. Some mercury fulminate. Some nitrogen triiodide. A couple tens of pounds of PETN. An equal amount of RDX. A few Erlenmeyer flasks full of shit even I’m not certain of what it is… Oh. And a few kilos of freshly decanted, raw nitroglycerin; packed in sturdy wooden boxes lined with new fuzzy lamb’s wool. Not that much. Just 10 or 12 kilos. Yeah. I can’t leave that here. Even a small accident with this stuff would lay waste to not only our villa; but my landlord’s villa with whom we share a common wall. Besides, as Omanis go, my landlord was the only dishdasha dressed denizen for which I had any respect or admiration. He was a good guy. I needed to return his villa at least in some semblance of what I received when we first rented from him. So, I had to dispose of many, many billions of kilojoules of potential energy. I needed to do this out in a distant and far away from prying ears and eyes regions and I needed a truck to haul this stuff out to the range. To be continued…
./play.it is a free/libre software that builds native packages for several Linux distributions from DRM-free installers for a collection of commercial games. These packages can then be installed using the standard distribution-provided tools (APT, pacman, emerge, etc.). A more complete description of ./play.it has already been posted in linux_gaming a couple months ago: ./play.it, an easy way to install commercial games on GNU/Linux It's already been one year since version 2.11 was released, in January 2019. We will only briefly review the changelog of version 2.12 and focus on the different points of ./play.it that kept us busy during all this time, and of which coding was only a small part.
What’s new with 2.12?
Though not the focus of this article, it would be a pity not to present all the added features of this brand new version. ;) Compared to the usual updates, 2.12 is a major one, especially since for two years, we slowed down the addition of new features. Some patches took dust since the end of 2018 before finally be integrated in this update! The list of changes for this 2.12 release can be found on our forge. Here is a full copy for convenience:
--output-dir: Set the output directory for generated packages
--overwrite: Replace packages if they already exist
--icons: Allow including icons only if dependencies are present
Drop $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR from the candidates for temporary directories
Prevent scan of unneeded directories
Drop script identification by MD5 hash
Only extract needed files when using unzip
Allow to use renamed installers
Add support for LHA archives extraction
New engine: ResidualVM
New engine: System-provided Mono runtime
DOSBox: Use $PLAYIT_DOSBOX_BINARY in launchers if defined
Add ability to set variables for package-specific postinst and prerm scripts
Arch Linux: Improve consistence of 32-bit packages naming
New helper functions:
version_target_is_older_than: Check if the game script target version is older than a given one
toupper: Convert files name to upper case
New generic dependency keywords:
libglib-2.0.so.0 / libgobject-2.0.so.0
libopenal.so.1 (alias for openal)
libSDL2-2.0.so.0 (alias for sdl2)
libvorbisfile.so.3 (alias for vorbis)
Codebase clean-up and improvements:
Massive rework of all message-related functions
Drop hardcoded paths for icons and .desktop launchers
Use system-specific default installation prefix for generated packages
Forcefully set errexit setting on library initialization
Use dirname/basename instead of built-in shell patterns
As many free/libre projects, ./play.it development started on some random sector of a creaking hard drive, and unsurprisingly, a whole part of its history (everything predating version 1.13.15 released on Mars 30th, 2016) disappeared into the limbs because some unwise operation destroyed the only copy of the repository… Lesson learned, what's not shared don't stay long, and so was born the first public Git repository of the project. The easing of collaborative work was only accidentally achieved by this quest for eternity, but wasn't the original motivation for making the repository publicly available. Following this decision, ./play.it source code has been hosted successively by many shared forge platforms:
GitHub, that we all know of, choosing it was more a short-term fallback than a long-term decision ;
some Gogs instance, which was hosted by debian-fr.xyz, a community the main ./play.it author is close to ;
Framagit, a famous instance of the infamous GitLab forge, hosted by Framasoft.
As development progressed, ./play.it began to increase its need for resources, dividing its code into several repositories to improve the workflow of the different aspects of the projects, adding continuous integration tests and their constraints, etc. A furious desire to understand the nooks and crannies behind a forge platform was the last deciding factor towards hosting a dedicated forge. So it happened, we deployed a forge platform on a dedicated server, hugely benefiting from the tremendous work achieved by the GitLab's package Debian Maintainers team. In return, we tried to contribute our findings in improving this software packaging. That was not expected, but this migration happened just a little time before the announcement “Déframasoftisons Internet !” (French article) about the planned end of Framagit. This dedicated instance used to be hosted on a VPS rented from Digital Ocean until the second half of July 2020, and since then has been moved to another VPS, rented from Hetzner. The specifications are similar, as well as the service, but thanks to this migration our hosting costs have been cut in half. Keeping in mind that this is paid by a single person, so any little donation helps a lot on this front. ;) To the surprise of our system administrator, this last migration took only a couple hours with no service interruption reported by our users.
This new forge can be found at forge.dotslashplay.it. Registrations are open to the public, but we ask you to not abuse this, the main restriction being that we do not wish to host projects unrelated to ./play.it. Of course exceptions are made for our active contributors, who are allowed to host some personal projects there. So, if you wish to use this forge to host your own work, you first need to make some significant contributions to ./play.it.
The collection of supported games growing endlessly, we have started the development of a public API allowing access to lots of information related to ./play.it. This API, which is not yet stabilized, is simply an interface to a versioned database containing all the ./play.it scripts, handled archives, games installable through the project. Relations are, of course, handled between those items, enabling its use for requests like : « What packages are required on my system to install Cæsar Ⅲ ? » or « What are the free (as in beer) games handled via DOSBox ? ». Originally developed as support for the new, in-development, Web site (we'll talk about it later on), this API should facilitate the development of tools around ./play.it. For example, it'll be useful for whomever would like to build a complete video game handling software (downloading, installation, starting, etc.) using ./play.it as one of its building bricks. For those curious about the technical side, it's an API based on Lumeneffectuant that makes requests on a MariaDB database, all self-hosted on a Debian Sid. Not only is the code of the API versioned on our forge, but also the structure and content of the databases, which will allow those who desired it to install a local version easily.
Based on the aforementioned API, a new website is under development and will replace our current website based on DokuWiki. Indeed, if the lack of database and the plain text files structure of DokuWiki seemed at first attractive, as ./play.it supported only a handful of games (link in French), this feature became more inconvenient as the library of ./play.it supported games grew. We shall make an in-depth presentation of this website for the 2.13 release of ./play.it, but a public demo of the development version from our forge is already available. If you feel like providing an helping hand on this task, some priority tasks have been identified to allow opening a new Web site able to replace the current one. And for those interested in technical details, this web Site was developed in PHP using the framework Laravel. The current in-development version is hosted for now on the same Debian Sid than the API.
A regular comment that is done about the project is that, if the purpose is to make installing games accessible to everyone without technical skills, having to run scripts in the terminal remains somewhat intimidating. Our answer until now has been that while the project itself doesn't aim to providing a graphical interface (KISS principle "Keep it simple, stupid"), still and always), but that it would be relatively easy to, later on, develop a graphical front-end to it. Well, it happens that is now reality. Around the time of our latest publication, one of our contributors, using the API we just talked about, developed a small prototype that is usable enough to warrant a little shout out. :-) In practice, it is some small Python 3 code (an HCI completely in POSIX shell is for a later date :-°), using GTK 3 (and still a VTE terminal to display the commands issued, but the user shouldn't have to input anything in it, except perhaps the root password to install some packages). This allowed to verify that, as we used to say, it would be relatively easy, since a script of less than 500 lines of code (written quickly over a week-end) was enough to do the job ! Of course, this graphical interface project stays independent from the main project, and is maintained in a specific repository. It seems interesting to us to promote it in order to ease the use of ./play.it, but this doesn't prevent any other similar projects to be born, for example using a different language or graphical toolkit (we, globally, don't have any particular affinity towards Python or GTK). The use of this HCI needs three steps : first, a list of available games is displayed, coming directly from our API. You just need to select in the list (optionally using the search bar) the game you want to install. Then it switches to a second display, which list the required files. If several alternatives are available, the user can select the one he wants to use. All those files must be in the same directory, the address bar on the top enabling to select which one to use (click on the open button on the top opens a filesystem navigation window). Once all those files available (if they can be downloaded, the software will do it automatically), you can move ahead to the third step, which is just watching ./play.it do its job :-) Once done, a simple click on the button on the bottom will run the game (even if, from this step, the game is fully integrated on your system as usual, you no longer need this tool to run it). To download potentially missing files, the HCI will use, depending on what's available on the system, either wget, curl or aria2c (this last one also handling torrents), of which the output will be displayed in the terminal of the third phase, just before running the scripts. For privilege escalation to install packages, sudo will be used preferentially if available (with the option to use a third-party application for password input, if the corresponding environment variable is set, which is more user-friendly), else su will be used. Of course, any suggestion for an improvement will be received with pleasure.
Of course, such an announcement would not be complete without a list of the games that got added to our collection since the 2.11 release… So here you go:
7 Billion Humans
Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders
Age of Mythology Demo
Among the Sleep
Anomaly: Warzone Earth
Another Lost Phone: Lauraʼs Story
Assault Android Cactus
Baba Is You
Blocks that matter (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
Commandos 3: Destination Berlin
Divine Divinity (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
Duet (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
Edna & Harvey: The Breakout — Anniversary Edition
Factorio — Demo
Full Throttle Remastered
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams
Gibbous — A Cthulhu Adventure
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Into the Breach
Kerbal Space Program
LEGO Batman: The Videogame
Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4
Metal Slug 3 (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
MIND: Path to thalamus
Monkey Island 4: Escape from Monkey Island
Multiwinia (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
Myst: Masterpiece Edition (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition
Populous: Promised Lands (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
Populous 2 (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
Quern — Undying Thoughts
Retro City Rampage (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
Satellite Reign (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
Ancient Relics Story Pack
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Distant Stars Story Pack
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Plantoids Species Pack
Synthetic Dawn Story Pack
Strike Suit Zero
Cyclopean Owl DLC
Tetrobot and Co.
The Adventures of Shuggy
The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human
The Count Lucanor
The First Tree
The Pillars of the Earth
The Witcher (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Tonight We Riot
Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism — Demo
Touhou Hifuu Nightmare Diary ~ Violet Detector
Triple Triad Gold
Vambrace: Cold Soul
VVVVVV (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
War for the Overworld (the base game was already supported, new expansions have been added):
Heart of Gold
Seasonal Worker Skins
The Under Games
Warcraft: Orcs & Humans
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War — Winter Assault Demo
Warhammer 40,000: Gladius — Relics of War
Warlords Battlecry II (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
Wing Commander (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
Wing Commander II (previously supported by ./play.it 1.x)
Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders
If your favourite game is not supported by ./play.it yet, you should ask for it in the dedicated tracker on our forge. The only requirement to be a valid request is that there exists a version of the game that is not burdened by DRM.
Our team being inexhaustible, work on the future 2.13 version has already begun… A few major objectives of this next version are :
the complete and definitive relegation to the archive bin of ./play.it 1.14, which is still required for about twenty games ;
Genre: First-Person Shooter Players: 1 . Review: Bioshock is a First-Person Shooter originally released on PC and Xbox 360 in 2007 and subsequently ported to multiple other platforms, finally making its way to a Nintendo console in 2020 when it was released on the Nintendo Switch. For those who somehow missed out on the game when it first released, Bioshock has the player surviving a plane crash in 1960 only to discover a structure in the middle of the ocean leading to the underwater city of Rapture. This city, the creation of a wealthy industrialist, was intended to be an objectivist utopia, but clearly things have gone very wrong, and players soon find themselves fighting off the city's mutated denizens, as well as automated defenses and hulking monstrosities named “big daddies”, while various factions fighting for control of the city make you the fixation of their power struggle. With this being the “remastered” version of the game, Bioshock on the Nintendo Switch benefits from having improved textures and more detailed environments over its original release, though instead of the targeted 60FPS framerates of the other consoles, this version settles for a rock-solid 30FPS, which I found to be more than sufficient, as Bioshock is not a super fast-paced FPS. In docked mode, the game runs at a dynamic 1080p resolution, dropping to 720p in handheld mode, and again, both are very stable (thanks to Digital Foundry for all the numbers). However, as for how this game actually looks, I'd say this still looks in many ways like an Xbox 360 game. The character models aren't especially detailed, and even with the added detail the environments can also look a bit chunky in places. On a technical level, the game's water effects are still extremely nice, even by today's standards, but everything else does look a tad dated. However, having said that, what this game may lack in technical prowess, it absolutely makes up for in style and artistic vision. While Rapture may not be as technically impressive as it once was, it is still a stunning work of artistic design, with its art deco architecture, the oppressive presence of the ocean threatening to break through the glass and swallow everyone whole at any minute, and the crazed citizenry still decked out in creepy New Years costumes now soaked in blood from their drug-fueled killing spree. More than just about any game ever made, Bioshock is a game that tells a rather spectacular story without even needing to say a word, with the look and feel of the place itself saying far more than words ever could. And of course, I can't mention Bioshock without at least making a nod to its story, though beyond the synopsis I detailed in the first paragraph, I feel I should probably keep quiet, as one of this game's joys is the twists and turns it takes as you find the full extent of just how far Rapture has fallen into a hellish nightmare, as well as what's really going on at the center of the power struggle unfolding as you fight your way through the city. Suffice it to say, there's a reason that many cite this game as having one of the best stories, and in particular one of the most memorable and iconic scenes, in all of videogames. While the game's striking visuals still impress with their style, and the story is every bit as legendary as it was when it first came out, the gameplay hasn't aged quite as well. Don't get me wrong, it's all still quite good, and the mix of old-timey gunplay and magic powers (in the form of “plasmids”, gene-altering chemicals you buy in vending machines), as well as various upgradeable abilities, all make this an entertaining game that's far better than average for the genre, even today. However, having said that, there's not too much variety in enemies, and the gunplay can get repetitive before long. The plasmids are nice and the elemental attacks they deliver even affect the environment, but before long this too becomes a bit repetitive. Beyond this, in all but the game's hardest difficulty, the existence of “Vita-Chambers” removes all semblance of challenge, as any death simply has you jumping back to the last one of these checkpoints you crossed with all of your inventory intact, and all enemies you killed still dead, meaning that success is all but assured as long as you keep persisting. Even the last boss can be defeated this way – fight, die, continue fighting, die, continue fighting some more until they've soaked up enough bullets to be downed. And while the game attempts an interesting “morality” system, it's not very well thought-out, as it's a simple binary choice and none of the options feels especially functionally different than the others. A few more notes about this version of the game before I wrap things up. Firstly, there's no support for gyroscopic motion controls or touchscreen. However, there are a few nice extras beyond the original release of the game - there's a director's commentary you can run while playing the game, as well as video interviews you can collect throughout it. There's also a cool museum mode that has character models and artwork lined up in an actual museum you can walk through. Finally, this game includes “Challenge Rooms” and New Game+ features added to later releases of the game. In the end, while Bioshock's gameplay may be lacking and the graphics have aged a bit, there's no arguing that this is still a classic, iconic First-Person shooter with a stellar story, fun gameplay, and some of the best world-building ever to be seen in a videogame. If you've somehow never played this game, you need to remedy that right now. And if you loved the game when it was first released and are considering a return to Rapture, know that while the city is a little worse for the wear with the years that have passed, this is still a trip well worth taking. tl;dr – Bioshock has aged somewhat since its original release in 2007, but it's still fun to play, and while Rapture may not be as graphically impressive as it once was, it's still extremely visually-striking, with some of the best world-building ever to be found in a videogame. In the end, this is still an excellent port of a legendary First-Person Shooter, and an absolute must-play for anyone who hasn't experienced it before, and worth returning to for those looking to revisit that nostalgia.
The mayor of Bozeman, Chris Mhel, is accused of being overly aggressive by multiple people. This is a copy of an email I received in regards to that.
September 7, 2020 Labor Day Members of the Bozeman City Commission, Because I cannot remain silent if I deserve to have any claim to continue to care about the rights, safety, equitable and fair treatment of women to advance gender and all equity in our community, I will do this as an individual and not on behalf of any organization. Preparing and sharing this Statement does not give me any pleasure and I hated to have to go through the pain of these records and memories again in order to respond. These statements of harmful and harassing treatment toward Bozeman City employees by our Mayor strongly influenced me that we who have suffered or witnessed this must step forward. I strongly urge everyone who is reading or listening to this - PLEASE review ALL the attached Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) documents from our current and former City Employees – many from women, but not all – to understand this: those leaders appearing to be women-supporting, liberal or even progressive men who are in power can and in this case with the Mayor, have profoundly harmed our City’s workforce including the 1st and only women City Manager, many have said was our most successful ever. And most employees who all want the Mayor removed. From the Bozeman City Commission Agenda for September 8, 2020, the FOIA Documents – open to read all 3 sections plus those from Commissioner Cunningham (total of 4): Discussion of Documents Related to Public Records Requests (Sullivan) I am writing and speaking about my experiences with Chris Mehl, from and since April 19, 2018. This date is when a leader of a local women’s business organization and I had a meeting with then Deputy Mayor Mehl (DM) to share and exchange around our City for CEDAW women’s human rights campaign to create safe, equitable and fair employment and living conditions in our community. Our meeting goal, quite simply in the same manner of our successful Equal Pay for Equal Work Resolution adopted by the City three years earlier, was to meet with each City Commissioner for an opportunity to educate, exchange around and get their advice about our proposed policy to advance women’s human rights in the workplace, schools, and our overall community through adoption of an Ordinance or Resolution. Over 70 Cities large and small throughout the U.S. have done this. Because at that time Mayor Andrus chose not to meet with any representatives of our campaign, the DM indicated he would stand in for the Mayor and learn more himself. I also indicated to the DM that there would be another representative from the local women’s business organization - a part of our City for CEDAW Leadership team who would join me. In our thorough preparation to meet with the DM – as with every Commission and community leader - we reached out to other current and former City leaders about how to approach and what best to say. At that time, I was warned by several of them that the DM “had a temper” and then I also shared that with this leader accompanying me, having no idea what that information could truly mean to each of us and our lives following. We spent an hour on April 19, 2018 from 4:00-5:00 pm at Sola Café, at the request of the DM, with several other customers nearby in the back section. While we had a carefully prepared outline of talking points of why we are requesting this now and how a policy to advance the human rights of all women and girls could benefit the City of Bozeman, we of course wanted to hear and address the DM’s questions and concerns. This meeting began by the DM with heated accusations made in anger and outrage to us in a shouting communication style about the fact that we dared to ask for this policy and goal – especially since the DM stated the Mayor already said she wouldn’t meet with our Campaign and didn’t we already have an Equal Pay Resolution. He then moved into accusatory rapid talking points ranging from how adopting a women’s human rights ordinance would cost at least $500,000 to conduct a City needs assessment to identify and address evidence of measurable gender and other discrimination and how could we waste the City’s tax dollars that way…..and the fact that children in our City have food insecurity and why should we fund a study instead of feeding the children? In trying to even answer or explore options we couldn’t get a word in for the first 30-45 minutes of his berating, bulling, belittlement and harassing “leadership style” that appeared to communicate his job was to intimidate and diminish us to the point that we would never return to the Mayor or City nor continue to educate and advance for any further women’s human rights. As we tried to both indicate that such a study was important to identify evidence of where gender and other discrimination existed in the institutions and sectors of our City and also recommend best practices to eradicate them – as recently well demonstrated by the Bozeman United for Racial Justice which only required 2 Marches of thousands of Bozeman residents and we congratulate them! – would cost from $10-20K and we already planned to ask other organizations for their support including MSU, Women’s Foundations, donors and more! In addition, if there was great urgency about Bozeman children’s food security, our Campaign’s issue as well - the results of our study was intended to strategically focus scarce tax dollars on which of our children and families needed assistance. And from lived experience - we know many of them were likely from single parent, underpaid, women-headed households. And that a gender analysis that included race/ethnicity, income, age and more would benefit all city policies, strategic planning, budgeting and employee workplace conditions beyond pay equity disparities to include prevention of sexual, racial harassment and other corrosive and harmful behaviors. But the DM couldn’t or wouldn’t listen until the final few minutes of this torturous hour when we calmed him down and pointed out some of the less costly or free policies other 70 Cities for CEDAW in the US have used to further women’s safety and economic security in their communities. Meanwhile those Sola Café customers and staff also witnessed the DM “leadership style” and more. After he left, we were asked,” who was that?” We said, “that’s your upcoming Mayor.” After the DM left, the volunteer leader and I tried to debrief this experience because this was so shocking - this was way more than a “Temper” issue - and appeared to be a pattern if we needed to be forewarned before meeting with the DM. In preparation for this Statement to the Commission, I needed to review and decided I will share my notes exchanged with my colleague from that DM meeting - written a day later, April 20, 2018: Quite honestly I did not expect the level to which I felt he [DM] was bullying, belittling and setting up so much opposition that he really didn't want to know any answers to the questions; he simply wanted to use them as a chance to humiliate us. I'm very, very angry and very unhappy about what he did; it was totally unnecessary and it was not fitting for a Deputy Mayor and future Mayor of our community. I'm going to be meeting with [another leader] today about their liaison with the School Board and I'm going to let them know some of what happened and get advice. I am drafting a letter this morning to Chris that follows up with Cyndy's email and why the over 20 people that were consulted about this Campaign did not see it as he did, because I don't think again he read this information very carefully. I'm going to ask you to look at it if you don't mind and share it with [ ] when I meet her with her tomorrow before I send it out. I don't want to do anything in anger. So I'm venting a little but you were wonderful and honestly we didn't need to come in with a bargaining position. We were there to learn what concerns he and the other Commissioners have: - I had asked Chris specifically in other emails if "you are able to generally support it", or "what exactly can you support" and that was what I thought the basis of the meeting was going to be about.
And I am feeling at this moment including in the follow-up email that summarizes our meeting content the question of:
Since you have so many objections to Our proposed [Bozeman for CEDAW] Ordinance as a model to achieve gender equity in our city, what is a process or framework that can allow the city to stand for gender equity and the health, dignity and safety of women and girls that is of substance and can be acceptable to the city? The ball is in his court or their court if he's really representing Cyndy Andrus as well. But she would not behave this way - that is for sure. You were great and I couldn't have done it; I couldn't have stood it without you. I honestly did not know that this is what his "temper" is about and it's bad for the City of Bozeman. Thank you again and so sorry we both had to put up with this and quite frankly it's why we need a city ordinance when you have leadership or bosses who treat women like this. It's called gender-based verbal violence and sexual harassment and we are Me Too. This is what happened, and now I’d like to add why this matters and why our City leadership and community should care and act. Even though I and the other leader have had to handle other very sexist and sexual harassing situations as well as gender-based violence over our lives, much like every woman – including death threats when I co-founded a program and shelter to address gender-based violence now called The HAVEN – the harsh impacts of DM’s verbal abuse was compounded because of his power as the DM and as incoming Bozeman Mayor. Having never received any apology or clarification about his “leadership style” or any follow up whatsoever from the DM, we drafted several versions of our own follow-up letter to the DM. This letter became so diplomatic to save our women’s rights cause and thus did not adequately address his abuse of power in order to avoid retaliation. Finally we resolved to focus our goal to create and institutionalize policies advancing women’s rights and safety and, now ironically, we decided not to send our letter to the DM. We never even thought this opportunity would occur to address what we now know is a long-standing pattern of the DM’s verbal form of gender-based violence. Instead, what I did is reach out to other leaders in our community to get their advice and felt afterwards that we were not taken seriously and always, in many ways spoken or by inaction, were told the DM’s contributions were more important than his “temper.” But we also learned from other discussions that we were not the only women affected by this pattern of abuse and fear of retaliation. When Mayor Andrus did reach out to me to schedule a meeting in June, 2018, about our City for CEDAW women’s human rights campaign following a City Commission meeting presentation earlier in May with over 100 supporters and nearly 1,000 signatures on our Petition, she wanted the DM to be present. I refused and told her why (correspondence in the other documents) and, upon request, followed up with Mayor Andrus in a lengthy phone call to provide specific examples and details from the meeting with the DM on April 19th. We were grateful she didn’t include him in that meeting. Another result both of us decided for ourselves and the Cities for CEDAW campaign after this April 19th meeting was either to not ever work or meet with the DM or at least always have 3-5 people present to prevent his harmful behavior from bullying and attempting to intimidate us again. Sadly, I also substantially reduced my and our expectations of what could be achieved for the creation of an Ordinance or Resolution to advance women’s human rights as Bozeman policy since that meeting. And as the DM moved into the role of Mayor, this was another way to prevent his attacks. Again, at the painful expense of the most vulnerable women we wanted this human rights policy, education and research to serve. The other volunteer leader quit working with the Equal Pay Resolution and this organization in order to not have to work with Mayor Mehl. She has shared her own story to this effect. Our lived experience as women, men and non-binary people of sexual, racial and/or other harassment and related violence in paid or volunteer workplaces and community leadership - along with the emerging research which is so badly needed here for the City and other workplaces - is now becoming more understood about its breadth and depth. We also know from the #ME TOO Movement that liberal White men – especially when holding the most prominent positions - can present as supporters of women and progressive causes, but do NOT walk their talk. After reading – and I so strong urge everyone who is reading or listening to this, PLEASE review ALL the attached the FOIA documents from our current and former City Employees – many from women, but not all – to understand this: those leaders appearing to be women-supporting, liberal or even progressive leaders who are in power can, and in this case, the Mayor has profoundly harmed our City’s workforce including the 1st and only women City Manager, who many have said was our most successful top Administrator ever. And this “leadership style” has been experienced by other current and previous Commissioners, members of Citizen Advisory Boards, business owners and many more we will never hear from who are also afraid to come forward because if the Mayor is not removed, they will be afraid of retaliation as am I and my colleague. Thinking about future City policies that advance gender and other equity, diversity and inclusion in our community and its workplace, how can anyone feel secure, much less “welcome” in their desire to contribute to our City, as a volunteer or employee, when they learn about this fully documented, unprofessional behavior of our Mayor in violation of the City’s own policies - carefully demonstrated over 2 years with extensive evidence in the FOIA documents by former City Managers Andrea Surratt and Dennis Taylor - if then no substantive action is taken? Now my colleague and I know – the Mayor’s "leadership style" as he defines this – was never only targeted at us, but directed widely, impacting a lot of women at all levels of employment and in our community, including current and former Commissioners, with all harmed in some way. I truly regret that we did not send our fully detailed letter of DM’s bullying, abusive and gender-based harassing treatment to the Mayor and other City leaders two years ago, or had been encouraged to file an Ethics Board complaint, but we believed it would probably be used against us and the organizations we cared about. I ask the City Commissioners on behalf of all who have suffered, been diminished, been humiliated, been afraid and been denied their ability to work in safety and dignity, to change our City’s elected Mayoral leadership now. Thank you, Jan Strout (she/hers) Bozeman, MT
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