Sunday, October 25, 2015

Gaming with Scarecrows

Everyone's favorite animate object this time of year.

Gaming with Scarecrows Stats

Scarecrow (Ravenloft) (Monstrous Manual)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Goujian: The Ancient Chinese Sword that Defied Time | Ancient Origins

Goujian: The Ancient Chinese Sword that Defied Time | Ancient Origins

Goujian: The Ancient Chinese Sword that Defied Time

Fifty year ago, a rare and unusual sword was found in a tomb in China. Despite being well over 2,000 years old, the sword, known as the Goujian, did not have a single trace of rust.  The blade drew blood when an archeologist tested his finger on its edge, seemingly unaffected by the passage of time.  Besides this strange quality, the craftsmanship was highly detailed for a sword made such a long time ago.  Regarded as a state treasure in China today, the sword is as legendary to the Chinese people as King Arthur's Excalibur in the West.
In 1965, archaeologists were carrying out a survey in Hubei province, just 7 km (4 miles) from the ruins of Jinan, capital of the ancient Chu state, when they discovered fifty ancient tombs. During the excavations of the tombs, researchers unearthed the sword of Goujian alongside 2,000 other artifacts. 

Discovery of the Goujian

According to the leader of the archeological team responsible for the excavation, it was discovered in a tomb, in a near air-tight wooden box next to a skeleton.  The team was stunned when the perfectly preserved bronze sword with scabbard was removed from the box.  When it was unsheathed, the blade was revealed to be untarnished despite being buried in damp conditions for two millennia.  A test conducted by the archaeologists showed that the blade could easily cut a stack of twenty pieces of paper.
Sword of Goujian, Hubei Provincial Museum
Sword of Goujian, Hubei Provincial Museum (Wikimedia Commons)

Jian swords

The Sword of Goujian is one of the earliest known Jian swords, a double-edged straight sword used during the last 2,500 years in China. Jian swords are among the earliest sword types in China and are closely associated with Chinese mythology. In Chinese folklore, it is known as "The Gentleman of Weapons" and is considered one of the four major weapons, along with the staff, spear, and the sabre.
One iron and two bronze Jian swords from the Chinese Warring states period
One iron and two bronze Jian swords from the Chinese Warring states period (Wikimedia Commons)
Relatively short compared to similar historical pieces, the Gouijan sword is a bronze sword with a high concentration of copper, making it more pliant and less likely to shatter.  The edges are made of tin, making them harder and capable of retaining a sharper edge.  There are also small amounts of iron, lead and sulfur in the sword, and research has revealed a high proportion of sulfur and sulfide cuprum, which gives the sword its rustproof quality.  Black rhombic etchings cover both sides of the blade and blue glaze and turquoise is imbedded on the sword handle.  The grip of the sword is bound by silk while the pommel is composed of 11 concentric circles.  The sword measures 55.7 cm long (21.9 in), including an 8.4 cm (3.3 in) handle hilt, and has a 4.6 cm (1.8 in) wide blade.  It weighs 875 grams (30.9) oz.
The turquoise can be seen embedded in the sword’s handle
The turquoise can be seen embedded in the swords handle (Wikimedia Commons)

Deciphering the inscription

On one side of the blade, two columns of text are visible with eight characters, near the hilt, that are in ancient Chinese script.  The script, known as "鸟虫文" (literally "'birds and worms' characters") is characterized by intricate decorations to the defining strokes, and is a variant of zhuan that is very difficult to read.  Initial analyses deciphered six of these eight characters.  They read, "越王" (King of Yue) and "自作用剑" ("made this sword for (his) personal use"). The remaining two characters are likely the name of the king. 
Deciphering the scripts on the Sword of Goujian
Deciphering the scripts on the Sword of Goujian (Wikipedia)
From its birth in 510 BC to its demise at the hands of Chu in 334 BC, nine kings ruled Yue, including Goujian, Lu Cheng, Bu Shou, and Zhu Gou, among others.  The identity of the king that owned the sword sparked debate among archaeologists and Chinese language scholar.  After more than two months, the experts formed a consensus that the original owner of the sword was Goujian (496 – 465 BC), making the sword around 2,500 years old. 
King Goujian of Yue
King Goujian of Yue (Wikimedia Commons)
Goujian was a famous emperor in Chinese history who reigned over the Yue State during the Spring and Autumn Period (771 - 476 BC).  This was a time marked by chaos within the Zhou Dynasty and takes its name from the Spring and Autumn Annals, which chronicled this period.  The Spring and Autumn Period was renowned for military expeditions; these conflicts led to the perfecting of weapons to the point that they were incredibly resistant and deadly, taking years to forge and lasting for centuries.  The story of Goujian and Fuchai, King of the Wu state, contending for hegemony is famous throughout China.  Although Goujian’s kingdom was initially defeated by the State of Wu, Goujian would lead his army to victory 10 years later. 

Unique properties

Besides its historic value, many scholars have wondered how this sword could have remained rust-free in a humid environment, for more than 2,000 years, and how the delicate decorations were carved into the sword.  The sword of Goujian is still as sharp today as when it was originally crafted, and not a single spot of rust can be found on the body today.
The Goujian sword is as sharp today as it was over two millennia ago
The Goujian sword is as sharp today as it was over two millennia ago (Wikimedia Commons)
Researchers analyzed ancient bronze shards in the hope of finding a way to replicate the technology used to create the sword.  They found that the sword is resistance to oxidation as a result of sulphation on the surface of the sword. This, combined with an air-tight scabbard,  allowed the legendary sword to be found in such pristine condition.
Tests also show that the sword-smiths of the Wu and Yue regions in Southern China during the Spring and Autumn Period reached such a high level of metallurgy that they were able to incorporate rust-proof alloys into their blades, helping them survive the ages relatively unblemished.  The sword was lent to the National Palace Museum in Taipei where it was on display until 2011, along with various other bronze pieces from the excavation.  It is currently in the possession of the Hubei Provincial Museum.
Featured image: The Sword of Goujian. (Llu Tao / Flickr)
"Sword of Goujian."
"Sword of Swords: The Sword of Goujian." China Culture.
Andrei, Mihai. "The Sword of Goujian - Untarnished after 2700 Years." ZME Science. October 21, 2011.
Kalamidas, Thanos. "The Blade That Defeated Millennia." April 17, 2013.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

10 Years Ago, Leeroy Jenkins Was Born - Dorkly Post

10 Years Ago, Leeroy Jenkins Was Born - Dorkly Post

It all started on May 11, 2005, when this video was first unleashed upon the world. So began the tale of Leeroy Jenkins.

A lone warrior, ignorant of the meticulous plans of his comrades, struck out on his own. His battlecry was only his namesake: LEEEROOOOYYY JJJEEEEENNNKKIINNNSS!!!
Though his actions proved disastrous for the group, many saw this man as a hero. Soon his name was emblazoned throughout the information superhighway. Though unrelated, these images maintained the indomitable fighting spirit of Leeroy Jenkins.




His legend grew so far and wide that some sought to emulate his appearance through the arcane art of "cosplay." If you know who these heroes be, let us know so we can can sing their names in our songs. 
Some even went so far as to take Leeroy's name for their own.
Eventually, Leeroy was canonized by the necromancers at Blizzard Entertainment. His form: The most boisterous of playing cards:
Naturally, this led to the cosplay of said card.
by Oloring, photography by NoZLan

Even the mighty Deadpool has cried his name aloud.


Here's to another 10 years of one magnificent bastard. 


Friday, May 1, 2015

Breakout Post

Just been doing epic stuff and not keeping up with the blog thanks to every one for the help they have given

Monday, February 2, 2015

Lego Pompeii

Lego Pompeii creates less pomp and more yay in the museum

Lego Pompeii creates less pomp and more yay in the museum

The Forum of Pompeii recreated in Lego. Craig Barker/Nicholson Museum
Lego Pompeii was painstakingly recreated from more than 190,000 individual blocks across 470 hours for Sydney University’s Nicholson Museum – it’s the largest model of the ancient city ever constructed out of Lego blocks. There is a mix of ancient and modern elements within the model’s narrative; displaying Pompeii as it was at the moment of destruction by the volcano Vesuvius in 79AD, as it was when rediscovered in the 1700s, and as it is today.
The historical model is the exhibition centrepiece in an archaeological museum where, until recently, displays of Lego would have been unthinkable.
The Nicholson Museum, with collections of artefacts from the Mediterranean region, Egypt and the Middle East, is a place where visitors can expect to see Greek vases, Egyptian sculpture and ceramic sherds from Jericho.
Yet since 2012, the museum has commissioned professional Lego builder Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught to recreate three ancient sites made from Lego. Together these models represent an interesting experiment; attracting a new audience to the museum space and demonstrating the importance of fun in a museum context.
Ryan McNaught with his creation Lego Pompeii. Craig Barker/Nicholson Museum

The Brickman’s historical constructions

The first Nicholson Lego scale model was a replica of the Colosseum in Rome.
The joy of the model was its ability to contrast the old with the new. Half the model featured the amphitheatre in antiquity; the other half featured the building in ruins with Lego modern tourists.
The model proved such a success it subsequently toured several regional NSW galleries and museums. It is currently displayed at the Albury Regional Art Gallery along with Roman artefacts from the Nicholson Museum’s collection.
The second model, opened in 2013, was the Lego Acropolis, which featured buildings of ancient Athens peopled with historical Greek figures. It is now displayed at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.
The Lego Acropolis. Phil Rogers/Nicholson Museum
McNaught’s latest and most ambitious construction, Lego Pompeii, as with previous creations, also sits firmly at the centre of the museum’s educational aspirations.
The study of the cities of Vesuvius is central to the Higher School Certificate (HSC) Ancient History syllabus, with more than 13,000 students annually sitting HSC exams with questions on the archaeological site.
Likewise the city forms the basis of undergraduate courses on Roman history. The model provides a means of introducing students to issues of Roman daily life, architecture and the history of the excavations in a visual way, different from their classroom experience.
Educators can explore with their students features of the ancient city such as bakeries and bars, temples and marketplaces or they can examine the modern history of excavating pointing out archaeologists such as Fiorelli, Spinazzola or Maiuri all of whom are replicated along with modern investigators.
Lego Pompeii. Craig Barker/Nicholson Museum
The legacy of Pompeii in popular culture is also depicted: from Bulwer-Lytton’s famous novel The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) to more recent Hollywood movies, such as Pompeii (2014). All are topics in the school syllabus and are depicted in Lego in order to stimulate both discussion and entertainment.

The genuine article debate

The Nicholson Museum is not the only museum to have used Lego and other “non-traditional” materials for displays. The Museum of Sydney’s current exhibition Towers of Tomorrowfeatures Lego models of iconic buildings.
These and other international exhibitions such as Hampton Roads Naval Museum in he US with its program of Lego shipbuilding, form part of a much larger debate within the museum sector about how to excite audiences and the use of “non-traditional” displays is gaining popularity.
The use of a popular medium such as Lego enabled the museum to present the ancient world in a way that captures new audiences who may not necessarily be museum-goers and ensure that fun is a central component of the museum visit.
From personal experience I have seen children engrossed in the Lego display, but then actually spend far longer exploring the collection as a whole. Education and entertainment need not be mutually exclusive in a museum.
In recent times, there has been much debate on museum visitor engagement and reassessment of the concept that museums must be exclusively reserved for the “real” or the “genuine”.
Lego Pompeii. Craig Barker/Nicholson Museum
I argue that the idea of a museum of exclusively “genuine” material is a relatively recent invention. Since the 18th century European museums have been filled with corkboard models of Classical architecture. There were even precedents for Lego Pompeii: Sir John Soane’s House in London has a cork model of Pompeii, while the famous 1:100 model of the city in the National Museum of Naples has been wowing visitors since the 1870s.
Plaster casts of classical sculpture were popular in collections in an era when international travel was expensive and reproduction images (either photography or illustrations) were rare.
Natural history museums and war memorials used diorama models in the early part of the 20th century. Modelling and reproductions were designed to take visitors on a journey of discovery. But by the late 20th century, models were often removed from display and sold off.
The Nicholson Museum gave most of its plaster casts of sculpture to schools in the 1960s, highlighting the thinking of the era which saw copies as suitable for education, but museums were to be reserved for genuine historical material only.
This mindset has changed again over the past decade as museums have become central to educational philosophy again. Subsequently, a number of European museums who retained their collection of casts, such as the Museum of Classical Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, and the recently revamped plaster cast courts at the V&A, are now seeing increases in popularity as the artistic, historic and aesthetic value of the casts are reassessed by a modern audience.
The use of Lego in a museum context is a 21st-century continuity of this much older tradition of displaying interpretive models. Lego Pompeii and other models of this ilk are a fun and engaging tool for reaching audiences in an exciting new way.

The Lego Pompeii exhibition at the Nicholson Museum runs until December 31, 2015.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Startup Professionals Musings: Agility Is The Key To Survival In Good Times And Bad

Startup Professionals Musings: Agility Is The Key To Survival In Good Times And Bad

Agility Is The Key To Survival In Good Times And Bad

business-agility-petMost small businesses are trying to forget the recent recession, and get back to “business as usual.” They don’t realize that business as usual is gone forever. With social media and smart phone conversations, real product information spreads at astounding speeds. Entrepreneurs that are not listening, not engaging, and not changing will be left behind even in the best of times.

Business agility is defined as the ability to adapt rapidly and cost efficiently. It is required today for new innovation strategies, analyzing markets for new opportunities, and organizational changes. Today’s customers are much more proactive in going online for the latest information, rather than simply reacting to the “push” messages that businesses traditionally use to drive commerce.

According to a recent survey conducted by Dimensional Research for Zendesk, 90 percent of respondents asserted that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, and 86 percent admitted buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. Yet there is evidence that as many as half of the small businesses out there still don’t even have a website or go online.

If you as an entrepreneur are not “listening” to your online reviews, and not moving quickly to make changes, you are losing ground. Moving forward, you should expect the market volatility to increase, driven not only by customers, but by new technology, changing government regulations, and a surge in new competitors.

For a business, volatile markets are a source of great opportunities, as well as great risks. Every entrepreneur must be alert enough to spot the change early, and agile enough to adapt quickly. Here are some key elements of agility that are required for you to survive and prosper:

  • Stamp out organizational inflexibility. Bureaucracy can appear quickly in startups as well as large companies. The real problem is inflexible people. Every organization must constantly review its hiring practices, training, and leadership to make sure the focus is on people who are motivated, open-minded, and empowered.
  • Continually watch for new opportunities. Don’t wait for your competitors to uncover new markets that you wish you had jumped into early. An agile business doesn’t wait for their current product line to fail, before planning some enhancements. The days of the “cash cow” are gone. Make sure you have a process in place to find your next big thing.
  • Rotate team members into new roles. If a key person in your organization has never changed roles, that person is likely limiting their personal growth, as well as the growth of your business. Maybe it’s time to find the real strength of your team by giving top performers additional new responsibilities, and rotating the lower performers out.
  • Define a continuous innovation culture. Innovation doesn’t happen without active leadership, a mindset of commitment from the team, and a defined process. Discipline is required to continually track results, return on investment, and customer satisfaction. Let your continuous innovation become your sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Foster a performance culture, and avoid analysis paralysis. A strategy of speedy execution is required. If you organization routinely thinks in terms of months or years to make any change, it’s falling behind and probably already obsolete. Don’t wait for expensive outside consultants to tell you it’s time to change, or make it happen.
  • Practice small change experiments often. The “big bang” theory of change, where innovations only come through huge and expensive new projects, with big rollouts, is a thing of the past. New innovations should be seen as experiments, which are inexpensive, measurable, quick to fail, and without retribution if they don’t work.
  • It all starts with agile leadership. If you are the entrepreneur, or the top executive, you set the model and the tone of your business. You can’t have an agile business without effective communication, an empowered team, and a constant influx of new ideas. Managing an agile business means managing change, not solidifying a status quo.
Business agility is simply to ability and intent to make small changes, on a daily basis, to penetrate new markets, add new revenue streams, reduce costs, and prune out products that are no longer carrying their weight. All you need to win with customers is to be slightly more visible and have a few more evangelists in the marketplace.

It’s time to take a hard look at your own business. Is it pulling ahead, or falling behind? Standing still in not an option.

Martin Zwilling

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Entrepreneurs – Have You Got What It Takes To Succeed? |

Entrepreneurs – Have You Got What It Takes To Succeed? |

You’ve got a great idea, you are pretty sure that what you have will sell, you’ve even got some cash together. What else do you need?
Vision: You must be able to see where you are going and what the future will hold. See what others are not able to see and build your business on these visions.
Courage: The ability to act upon your vision despite having doubts. The readiness to give up job security and a planned future for the chance of making a success with your new business. This takes courage.
Strategizing: Having the courage to act upon your vision, you now need to build your strategies. You will need a business and a marketing strategy. These are the formulas that you will use to drive forward and manage your business.
Planning Skills: To ensure that you reach your vision, you need copious amounts of planning. Planning how you will reach your targets, how you will meet new changes and challenges and how you will improve your business. You will need a business plan and a marketing plan.
Researching: Having decided what your business is going to be, then you will need to find out who will want to buy from your business and at what price. This takes a fair amount of researching.
Conceptualizing: Knowing what you want to sell and to whom, you now need to define your products and services. Brainstorm different things that you associate with your company. Include everything, good and bad, until you are out of ideas. Keep in mind that ideas generate ideas. Write everything down, this is how you move your company forward. Use this period to design your products, what you want your company to look like and how you want it to be perceived by your customers.
Creativity: You will need the ability to think outside of the box. Keep ahead of your competitors by coming up with new, unusual and unique concepts and solutions to their needs. You will need to create marketing materials, packaging and sales pitches – all will need verbal and visual creativity.
Determination: Along the way you will come across many hurdles and set backs, you will need to dig deep, make your changes and keep going. Determination and the belief in your visions and plans will keep you on the road to success.
Humour: When all the world seems against you and all seems to be going wrong, when your customers seem to be your worst enemy then you need a sense of humour to carry you forward.
Lastly good luck!
By  Martin   Brown