How to improve political dialogue

(Personal, Politics)

2013-01-13 13:44
Comment

So, I have complained in the past about the poor tone of political dialogue. But shouldn’t I offer solutions? Yes, yes I should.

Okay. Here is my solution: Admire this glorious picture of an actual vehicle which roams the wilds of Minnesota.

Now, when you see people arguing about politics, and the tone does not strike you as basically respectful and possibly leading to constructive development and discussion that could improve things? Talk about this truck. Talk about the sign on it, and what it means for political dialogue.

It turns out that this sign is sufficiently self-contradictory and insane that even people who absolutely loathe Mr. Obama will generally acknowledge that, really, this is beyond the pale. It is also stupid. And it is a testimony to the importance of maintaining some kind of connection to reality, and awareness of what other people actually believe, and who they actually are.

And what this tends to do is introduce a very powerful moderating influence in discussions, by making people want to distance themselves from the extremism. Now, it doesn’t solve the problem completely, since I haven’t got a correspondingly extreme example in the other direction. On the other hand, that reflects a fundamental asymmetry in the US political factions at the moment. And, in practice, even the fairly extreme left-wing sorts I know will nearly always try to moderate their tone a bit when reminded of how utterly stupid extremism can look.

Peter Seebach

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The mystery of my bad writing and debate skills

(Personal, GeekStuff)

2013-01-11 02:02
Comment [1]

Sometimes, when I am in an argument with some random person on the Internet, a thing happens which has always sort of mystified me. What will happen is, around the time that I conclude that someone is genuinely incapable of even basic logical coherence, they’ll turn to a variety of personal attacks. And what makes it mysterious is, the attacks are pulled from a small pool of things like “nothing you say makes any sense” or “you are too dogmatic” or “you are so authoritarian”, and…

Well, first off, they’re usually complaints that make no sense to me. I am totally aware that I have many annoying traits, but they’ll somehow cherry-pick for things that I can’t take seriously at all.

And second, they’re nearly always complaints that strike me as valid complaints about the people using them. And that … well, it’s not totally unthinkable, but it seems a little odd for it to be mere coincidence.

I think I finally got it. The key is that this only happens with people who appear to completely lack any distinction between persuasive and unpersuasive; there is stuff they agree with, which they regard as persuasive, and stuff they disagree with, which they regard as stupid. And here’s the thing:

To them, arguments must be pretty much magic. They can’t see a distinction between “things which make people think I am winning” and “things which make people think I am losing”. And since they are incompetent, and everyone else (well, everyone who has basic distinctions between sense and nonsense) can tell that, what they see is:

  1. There are a lot of arguments. It really seems like I am winning, because I am posting some great stuff and these people aren’t saying anything that would change my mind.
  2. Someone says some stuff about me.
  3. A bunch of people express the opinion that the other guy won the argument.

So… How to explain it? Simple! What that person said is a magic token that, when used in an argument, makes you the winner.

So when they feel like they are not making headway, they use the Words Which Win Arguments. Which are, not at all coincidentally, likely criticisms of their own argumentation. And it doesn’t work, and they get furious because how can that not work?

This is why people who never really advance an argument accuse other people of being unable to argue logically, and people who are aggressively telling other people how to live call other people arrogant. It’s not just “projection”; it’s their best attempt at behaving in the ways that work for other people. It’s cargo cult debate.

Peter Seebach

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Sorry.

(Personal)

2013-01-09 15:01
Comment

So, I got up in the middle of the night to pee, and when I got back, I looked around for a pillow, and found it, and picked it up. Under it was a cat. He gave me… a look. He was not happy.

In fact, he looked put upon.

… What’s scary is that at 4AM, this seemed likely to me to be the actual etymology of the phrase.

Peter Seebach

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Spouses: awesome

(Personal)

2013-01-04 15:58
Comment

So, last night, I woke up with weird leg cramps. Like, unlike any I’ve had before, and really disturbing. Different muscles, often two or three areas at once, and much more persistant than the kind I occasionally get and I’m sorta used to. And after a while of this, I concluded that I wanted painkillers, so I went to go get some.

Problem #1: When my leg is in severe pain, and the muscles are not consistently obeying orders, walking is much harder than usual.
Problem #2: I was distracted and forgot I was warm-blooded, so I had no temperature regulation, and by the time I’d been out of the bed for 15 seconds, I was shivering and miserable.

So I got about to my door and realized I had no clue how I could get to the ibuprofen.

Solution: Plaintive noises directed at spouse.

Within a minute, I was in bed again, with another blanket, and some ibuprofen. Within three minutes I had a heating pad and some candied ginger (my stomach was not feeling great, either). And instructions to call reasonably loudly if I needed anything else, because Jesse was gonna be asleep momentarily.

Within ten minutes, I was back to sleep, happy and comfortable.

You know, people fuss about how gay marriage is gonna make gay people have sex, but it’s not. They’ve pretty much got that down. No, what gay marriage does is make gay people have someone to comfort them and take care of them. I cannot tell whether the people who oppose recognition of gay marriages are really opposed to that, or whether they just have no idea what marriage is about. Either way, it makes me sorta sad for them.

Also, Jesse is awesome.

Peter Seebach

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Technological solutions to social problems don't work...

(GeekStuff, Politics)

2012-12-25 14:37
Comment [8]

General observation: Most of the time, a social problem can’t be effectively solved by technology.

There’s a specific form of this looming in the nearish future, which recently became relevant, again. Gun control. People get shot, there are calls for stricter gun controls. There’s a lot of interesting sub-debates. If the proposed controls were in effect, what would have changed about any given event? Frequently nothing; it’s not uncommon for violence to involve guns most people think should stay legal, for instance.

But there’s a much bigger problem: If you magically eliminated the entire category of “guns produced and sold in the US”, I don’t think that would change things for long. Heck, do that and also remove every single gun anyone currently has. It’d change things for a while.

But now stop and think about 3D printing, and other forms of localized one-off manufacturing. Right now, I don’t think you could 3D-print a gun and expect to get something of usable quality. … Right now. Have you looked at the rate of change in that field lately? In particular, note the work that’s going into making self-replicating systems, and systems that are at least very close to self-replicating, and improving those.

If I’m reasonably healthy and don’t get unlucky, I expect to live to see a point where I could decide I want a thing functionally equivalent to what’s currently considered an “assault rifle”, and have one the same day without having to leave my house or have anyone bring it to me.

Which is to say: A gun ban is a temporary solution at best. Even if we stipulate that it “works”, even if we stipulate that it somehow doesn’t produce unintended side effects… It would not work for all that long. And I think we might be better served putting our thought and effort into finding the roots of violence and trying to address those as best we can. I am pretty sure that “organisms with human-like brains” will be an issue for a while yet.

Peter Seebach

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Comment [8]

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What you search for twice, exists

(GeekStuff)

2012-12-24 01:05
Comment [1]

Long ago, I used to run a lot of D&D games. I still play on and off, as time allows. But back then, I used to run these gigantic, sprawling, dungeon adventures, with basically no preparation. And you know, the thing is, I’m not super organized, and I don’t have a great memory. And yet, no one ever seemed to find anything out of place; the verisimilitude was, by all accounts, exceptional most of the time.

This is because I cheated, horribly.

“What you search for twice, exists.”

Yes, really. It’s that simple. People don’t expect everything to exist, but if they’re sure something exists, and they don’t find it, they keep looking. So if everything you keep looking for exists, the world seems exactly right. Despite the fact that it’s utterly inconsistent, has no internal logic driving it, and so on. But it’s what you expect, so it seems right, and everyone’s happy. Is there a secret compartment in the chest? I didn’t put one there, so searching yields nothing. But if the players keep poking, trying to find it? Then there must be one. So there is. And this creates arbitrary depth — you never explore something so fully that you run out, and since everything you search really carefully has lots of detail, it feels like the entire world is really detailed.

While not everyone runs fantasy RPGs, I suspect these techniques apply elsewhere as well.

Peter Seebach

Comment [1]

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Pinkie Pie advises you about programming

(Personal, GeekStuff)

2012-12-19 14:25
Comment [1]

My usual response to particularly ill-considered ideas is to warn people that if they do these things, we will have to point at them and laugh while Oompa Loompas sing about how their downfall was the result of their own poor decisions. But after I got a compiler bug report where the test case wouldn’t even compile, and yielded warnings about 35% larger than the program source… Well. Time to step it up.

To the tune of Giggle at the Ghosties (aka The Laughter Song)

(The video link is to a remix, because the Hasbro site official version is really laggy for me.)

<seebs> When I was just a newbie and my code came crashing down…
<techie> Tell me he’s not…
<seebs> The coredumps and the crashes, they would always make me frown
<manager> He is.
<seebs> I’d edit lines at random
<seebs> To fix the bugs I saw
<seebs> But hacker folk said that wasn’t the way
<seebs> To fix my code at all
<msce> Then what is?
<seebs> He said see-eebs, you gotta run with -Wall
<seebs> Learn to read your logs
<seebs> You’ll see your bugs explained
<seebs> Fix those to make them disappear.
<seebs> Ha! Ha! Ha!
<everyone> * gasps
<seebs> So, fix up all your warnings,
<seebs> Patch your code ‘til morning,
<seebs> Track down every mystery,
<seebs> Understand its history,
<seebs> Follow code conventions,
<seebs> Document intentions,
<seebs> And when the compiler gets really picky and warns you about undefined behavior but you know what you think it’s gonna do because you used to do assembly on this hardware then you go back and fix it because the very idea of ignoring a red flag like that just makes you wanna… hahahaha… heh…
<seebs> Laaaaaaauuugh!
<manager> SO going on your performance review.

Peter Seebach

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Comment [1]

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Shadowrun Genesis save format notes

(GeekStuff)

2012-12-19 01:08
Comment

Because it’s an awesome game, that’s why.

As with many Genesis games, you are best off ignoring the 0xff or 0×00 that’s every other byte of the nominal ROM image and just looking at the remaining bytes.

Given that, the 8K ROM consists of two 4K save blocks, each of which appears to consist of two identical 2K saves. I assume this is error detection. So each save is 0×000-0×7FF. Within that:

0×00-0×14: header
0×15-0×68: Player character
Every additional 74 bytes: Another character (there are 12, last one is Stark).

It is possible that the character records start before the name, in which case they’re still 74 bytes, but the first byte of Josha’s record is before 0×14, and the last is before 0×68. Counting from right after the name, each character has:

Stuff I didn’t figure out: 0×00-0×10
Stats: 0×11-0×19. Character sheet order, except 0×16 is something else and I don’t know what.
Skills: 0×1A-0×26. Character sheet order, except 0×20 is something else and I don’t know what.
Karma: 0×27
Other stuff: 0×28

So for instance, Joshua’s Body stat is 0×3D into the whole file, and if he’s a shaman, 0×44 is a stray 3 that I don’t know what it means in between his other stats. Karma’s at 0×53.

Nuyen are at offset 0×244 in the Stuff After The Characters, which puts it at 0×5DA-0×5DD in the file as a whole. Big-endian. Yes, the game can handle values over 24 bits, although at 620M (0×25 00 00 43) you’re really not making sense anymore.

Now, if you go change this stuff, well. You won’t end up with a save it’ll load; you get a charmingly-worded message saying there’s no save. That’s because of the checksum. The checksum is 0×630-0×633. Again, big-endian. The simple answer is to sum the bytes prior to this (0×0..0×62F), subtract 794, and save that in these four bytes. I don’t know what the 794 means, but it is perhaps not a coincidence that the sum of the first 20 bytes of the save file is also 794. (That’s the spaces with the word GAME in them.)

I mention this because the Internet is full of discussions of the checksums for the ROMs, but I couldn’t find any mention at all of the file format. Of course, now that I’ve figured this out, I’ve lost interest in trying to cheat at it, because where’s the fun in that?

(Edit: And of course, while looking something else up, I find a much more detailed description.)

Peter Seebach

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A few notes on how to run a forum or similar community

(Personal)

2012-12-13 20:57
Comment [2]

For some reason, people who run forums keep inventing the same ideas, and they keep being really bad ideas.

Premise: The purpose of a discussion forum is to create and sustain a healthy community.

If that isn’t what you want, this advice may not be helpful. But really, if you don’t want a community, discussion forums are entirely the wrong tool; that’s all they’re particularly good at. And if you want an unhealthy community, something is probably wrong with your plans. So; a healthy community it is.

Discussions of what makes a community healthy are all over the place. My thoughts are that a healthy community is one where people feel that they are a part of the community, and want the community itself to thrive. In short, they feel some kind of ownership of the community, and value it; they are not motivated by hostility to the community itself. This does not necessarily mean that they are not hostile to each other, although open hostility tends to be bad for a community.

The relationship between how most Internet forums seem to be moderated, and what you would do to grow a healthy community, can be understood accurately by imagining trying to use a chainsaw to do bonsai.

With that in mind, some principles:

People need to be heard.

This one gets an extra-big heading because it is an extra-big deal. If people do not feel that their voices are being heard, then they cannot feel that they are a part of the community, and that means they can’t feel like supporting and protecting the community. That makes them feel like unwelcome outsiders, and that generally means that all the normal social niceties are dropped. They might play nice anyway, but they are no longer feeling it, and they will show little or no willingness to ease off or back down to preserve the community. This has further-reaching effects, because feeling like you’re not being heard makes people angry in general. Don’t do that. What this means is that you really need to let people express themselves. You can restrict tone a little, but if you don’t let people say things because someone else thinks it’s “negative” or whatever? You have just dealt a harsh blow to your community. Let people talk. If they are unhappy, let them talk about why they are unhappy, and make sure that they are being acknowledged by community leaders. Acknowledgement doesn’t have to mean agreement, but you have to at least be clearly acknowledging the things people say, and making it clear that they are being understood, or you will have a much worse community.

Discussions wander.

Moderators sometimes accuse people of “hijacking” a thread when the topic changes. This is not usually accurate. It is certainly possible to disrupt a thread by suddenly introducing a major topic change, but that doesn’t mean that all topic changes are disruptive. Threads are supposed to be discussions; discussions wander and migrate. It is not a violation of some important principle when they do so; it’s a sign of a healthy and functioning community in which people are not only talking, but listening and reacting. Let it be.

In threaded forums, the thread originator does not own the thread.

If you declare that the original poster of a thread has the right to unilaterally declare the thread over and have it closed, you have created a mechanism by which people can sabotage discussion they disagree with. Don’t do it. People who want a private forum they control can always start a blog; if you post to a discussion forum, you are offering the community a discussion, and the discussion is then the general property of the community.

The harder you try to crush flames, the more vicious your forum will be.

By far the most brutal and vicious forums are the ones where all criticism is harshly moderated. This is a sort of special case of “people need to be heard”. The more people are prevented from expressing their negative feelings, the angrier they will get, and the more negative (and stronger) their feelings will get. Letting people express their anger calms them down. Yes, really. I’ve seen people who had pretty much openly hated each other for years on a forum where they couldn’t say this meet on a more permissive forum, have it out for a bit, and then gradually become fast friends.

Wherever you draw the line, people will go right up to it, and will do so on purpose to draw other people out into crossing it. Then you have people who are not only not being heard (because you moderated them away), but who are not being heard because someone else was playing malicious games. Not gonna end well.

Guidelines are good, rules are bad.

An exact rule sounds like it’ll make things “fair”. It won’t. Judgment calls are necessary; without them, you just have a set of rules people can game to take advantage of the flaws in your set of rules. No, you cannot make the set of rules good enough to get rid of that.

Moderators need to be humble.

If moderators don’t feel comfortable admitting to errors and correcting them, you have a serious problem. If moderators think they are above the rules, or tend to defend each other, you have a serious problem. Moderators should be quick to admit errors, and very very slow to react when they’re flamed or attacked. Not just personally attacked; if other moderators are quick to jump in when a mod is attacked, that looks bad too, and reminds the rest of the users that they aren’t really part of the “in” crowd. Don’t do it. Just make sure your moderators are thick-skinned and can take a bit of criticism.

Don’t kick people off staff for making mistakes; kick them off staff for making mistakes really persistently, or refusing to admit to them. If you try to eliminate all hint of error, you end up with staff who are better liars than everyone else. That doesn’t help.

Moderators should be open and clear about their personal opinions.

Some forums try to hide moderator bias; one particularly spectacularly badly-run forum used to actually strongly encourage moderators to make sock puppet accounts and only debate under those accounts, so they wouldn’t seem biased. This led to the predictable sorts of abuse. It is important that moderators be clear about their personal opinions, and not try to cover them up.

Moderators should keep their personal opinions out of moderation.

That said, official actions should reflect the needs of the community, not personal biases. One forum I used to visit had moderators who would post responses in which they first insulted someone or said a thread was stupid, and then closed the thread, making it clear that their moderator action was rooted in personal preferences. Not okay. (I tried reporting one for this once; I got an “infraction” from another moderator, for “abuse of the report system.” You can see why I say “used to visit”.)

Moderator actions can, and perhaps should be subject to discussion.

EDIT: Apparently, the following text is not universally applicable. There appear to exist forums on which discussions like this lead to highly disruptive and harmful outcomes, and other forums on which suppressing them is harmful. So this one needs more thinking/planning.

The “no discussion of moderator actions” rule is very common. It is also very stupid. It’s true that if you have no limits at all on such discussions they’ll swamp the forum. No problem. Make a separate subforum for discussions about the rules and board administration, and let people talk all they want about moderator actions. Don’t give stupid excuses about privacy; the only person with a legitimate expectation of privacy in moderator action is the user being moderated, and they have a right to talk about it if they want.

Rules, guidelines, whatever you have, users will genuinely not understand your intent. I know you think it’s “clear” or “common sense”. Doesn’t matter; users will misunderstand. A forum in which people can talk about moderator actions, and rules, can result in a number of improvements:

  1. Users will be able to see whether or not they are being treated unfairly. (If they are, you need to know this so you can fix it; if they aren’t, they need to know this so they’ll stop whining.)
  2. Users will be able to see how the rules are applied before they run into the rules themselves. They can learn from other people’s mistakes.
  3. Problematic patterns of moderator behavior will get noticed sooner rather than later, allowing you to fix things before many more users stop feeling like part of a community.
  4. Rules that are working out poorly and need clarification and change will be easier to identify.

Some people react by declaring that this will somehow encourage people to debate rules in bad faith, argue with moderator actions, and so on. This does not seem to be really true, but assume it were true: The best thing would be to make sure that these discussions happen out in the open so that everyone can see what’s up and reach a clearer understanding of the rules. Without such a forum, there’s no way to show that people are debating in bad faith or ignoring clear explanations, because you haven’t got any paper trail showing what’s been said or discussed. Add the forum, and if someone really is just playing games, it’ll be really obvious really quickly.

If you’ve never tried a forum which allows this, you owe it to yourself to see one. The change in tone, and in moderator/non-moderator relations, is immense and very positive. It all comes back to that first point: People need to be heard. People can accept moderator decisions they don’t like, but it’s really hard for them to tolerate not being allowed to say that they don’t like the decision.

There are possible issues in cases where a moderator action involves a user, say, revealing sensitive or personal information. A discussion of exactly what was done and how it broke the rules may itself be a violation of the rules, and you can be sure that a malicious user will consider this an opportunity. Some forum software (vBulletin being one example) has tools for making a sub-forum in which only thread starters and staff can view threads; such a forum can be a useful venue for conversations which involve sensitive topics or material.

Don’t let users hold the forum hostage.

Some forums end up with a “voting bloc” of users who all agree to threaten to leave unless something is done; usually, “unless those people over there are silenced”. Let them go. Otherwise, they’ll just keep doing it. Don’t let them. Make your own calls on whether people are disruptive, but whenever you see people acting as though merely holding a particular opinion is disruptive, you should be on your guard; that’s usually a sign of bad faith.

Don’t squelch references to competing products.

This one seems particularly popular in MMO forums. The City of Heroes forums had a very strict policy on this — strict enough that they once deleted a thread for warning people that a recent data breach at a competitor could have leaked credit card information. Stupid. Squelching such references makes you look afraid, for one thing. For another, discussion of competing products is virtually always a great way to get insight into user preferences and desires. Several MMOs I know of have a completely open policy on this (or a policy of “you’re welcome to talk about other games, and compare and contrast, as long as you are not actively telling people to leave this game for that game”), and after a year or two of watching the ensuing debates, all I can say is: It is laughable that anyone was ever afraid of this. It works fine.

And, of course, it reduces the need for people to try really hard to avoid quite specifically mentioning another product, while hinting strongly. Because people need to be heard.

Leave things visible.

Don’t delete threads if you can lock them and leave them there with commentary on why they were locked. Spam, sure, but if you’re just unhappy with a thread, leave a quick note explaining why it’s closed, and leave it there for people to see. And so the people who posted don’t feel silenced…

When there is any doubt, sit on your hands.

You don’t need to do it. Seriously, 90% of the time, or more, that’s the answer. You could merge those two threads on similar topics, but if you do, the posters will feel less-listened-to, and you won’t have made anything better. Merging and closing threads, deleting posts, editing posts… Nearly always a bad idea. You don’t need to do it. Small amounts of focused effort will produce much more effective results, while leaving participants more engaged, more involved, and feeling more like they are part of the community.

Off-topic is vital.

A community is characterized by people knowing each other. Knowing each other goes beyond knowing how someone feels about a particular game, or piece of software, or whatever. If you don’t have users who feel comfortable posting about their sick pets, or bragging about their kids, you do not have a community. Try harder — or more likely, stop trying so hard. Make sure there’s open forums for discussing topics unrelated to your nominal topic. These are what turn your pile of unrelated users into a community of friends.

You probably can allow politics and religion discussions, if you have a decent community.

Yeah, I know, everyone says you can’t. You can, though. You just have to accept that they’re gonna get a bit rough sometimes. Or be willing to moderate them a little more heavily for tone. It may well not be worth it, but… See above about off-topic. People who can talk about politics and religion are a heck of a lot more like a community than people who can’t.

Peter Seebach

Comment [2]

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Instant Review: Laser Pegs

(GeekStuff)

2012-12-03 16:53
Comment

Laser Pegs are a toy consisting of clear plastic blocks containing LEDs and wiring, with the convenient trait that the blocks happen to be roughly physically compatible with Lego parts. They don’t exactly say “Lego”, but they indicate compatibility with “other construction kits”. They mean Legos.

Quick summary of things you might want to know:

1. The blocks themselves are of tolerable quality. They are not as good as Lego parts. I’ve found bits of flash left over from the molds on several pieces, which is harmless, and a few of them haven’t been quite as solid a fit as I’d expect from new Lego parts. I have 25-year-old lego pieces that stay stuck together more reliably than a few of these pieces. Most of them are fine, but the quality control might be a bit erratic.
2. The packaging is not particularly good. One of the things I loved about the larger lego sets I got as a kid is that the large box would contain some kind of arrangement of trays and pieces such that I could continue using it to hold and sort pieces later. Not so much with these; in general, it’s plastic bags taped to large hunks of cardboard. This is pretty minor, but it might matter if you’re wondering whether you want some kind of alternative storage device.
3. The AC adapter is 5V, the three AA batteries are of course 4.5V. The actual voltage on the connectors, though, seems to be 3.3V. This might matter if you wanted to use these with hardware that had 3.3V outputs, like the GPIO pins on a Raspberry Pi. More testing reveals a broader range of voltages; I’ve measured the outputs on that gizmo at anywhere from 3.3V to 4.3V or so. I’m guessing the LEDs are pretty tolerant, but they do seem to come on as low as 3.3V.
4. There are dire warnings not to, say, plug the AC adapter into the pins coming out of the power supply base thing. There are no warnings at all about how to connect the pieces, except that you shouldn’t connect more than 200 of them. This leads me to suspect that they’ve done a decent job of configuring things with diodes, etcetera, to avoid electrical problems.
5. Which is not to say you might not get some surprises. In particular, power only flows one way. Without loss of generality, call the holes in the power supply base “female” and the connectors that plug into those “male”. Most pieces have at least one male and one female connector. Power can flow from a female connector to a male connector, but not the other way around. So when planning construction, remember that it’s not enough that everything be connected; they have to be connected such that there is a power flow to them.
6. Nearly all pieces have at least one LED, although some small corner adapters don’t. Some have two. Of the 4×4 grid pieces I have, at least a couple have two LEDs, and at least a couple have only one.
7. LEDs are white, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. I have not seen any purple. There is usually a tiny mark somewhere on the (white plastic) circuit board indicating the color of the LEDs. No part I’ve found has two different colored LEDs in it. The white is the standard “white LED” which is called “cool white” in christmas light sets.
8. I have no information about actual power consumption per se, but I note that the AC adapter is rated for 2000mA, and they ask you not to connect more than 200 of the colored lighting bits. I don’t know how efficient the conversion from 5V to 3.3V is, or how much margin they’re leaving, but you can probably do okay with a ballpark assumption that the LEDs are not using much over ~.05W (assuming about 10mA of the 5V supply’s capacity per thing plugged in), which would suggest that you budget for about 15mA at 3.3V. Maybe. A bit of messing around with an ammeter got an estimate of 110mA of current draw for 18 of the LEDs at around 4.3V, which is more like 7mA each. Your mileage, it appears, may vary.
9. The 2×4 bricks are 1 2/3 standard brick heights tall. The 4×4 are unusual in that they have dots on both sides. This may impact your planning if you want to combine these with other kits.

Hope this is of use to people. My conclusion: Nicely done toy, lots of potential. I would be happier if they had purple LEDs, made it easier to pick and choose by color, and had slightly better quality control on the generic plastic building parts, but they’re not bad or anything.

Peter Seebach

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