I want to buy a used docking station for my laptop. Has there ever been a case of a docking station being a security concern?

I found a used docking station for my Dell laptop. The price is very interesting and the docking station seems to be in perfect shape. But I’m somehow worried about potential security risks. After all, you could install some kind of keylogger in the station’s firmware. Am I being paranoid here or is it possible in any way?

If we want to map abbreviations of full-English words (e.g. map “Jan” to “January”), how can we identify abbreviations which map to multiple words?

Short Version:

How can we construct such a trie which maps abbreviations of names-of-the-month to full-month (we map the abbreviation "mar" to "march")?

  • The set of all abbreviations is formed by:
    • keeping the first letter of the month name. (all abbreviations of "january" begin with "j")
    • deleting 1 or more characters ("jan" deletes "uary" from "january")

The Looonnnnggg Version:

How can we construct such a trie?
What algorithm will build the appropriate trie from the container of verbose strings.

Consider the English names for months of the year:

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • [… truncated …]
  • October
  • November
  • December

We find it useful say that the English names for months of the year are "verbose" strings.
For any "verbose" string $ v$ , and any string $ a$ we say that $ a$ is an "abbreviation" of $ v$ if and only if all of the following conditions are met:

  • $ a$ non-empty. $ |a| \geq 1$
  • $ a$ can formed by deleting 1 or more characters from "verbose" string $ v$
  • $ a(1) = v(1)$ . Assume that string indexing begins at $ 1$ , and not $ 0$ .

For example, "jan" is an abbreviation of "january."

Suppose you want to write an algorithm which:

  • accepts a list of verbose strings as inputs.
  • the algorithm outputs a "trie" data-structure (information retrieval tree) $ T$ such that:
    • The trie $ T$ accepts any ASCII string as input.
    • An output (leaf node) of the trie should be set of strings $ S$ such that:
      • every string in $ S$ is a verbose string
      • the string fed as input into trie $ T$ is an abbreviation of every verbose string in container $ S$

Some examples of input to the trie and output of the trie are shown below:

  • Example 1

    • Input: "Ma"
    • Output: $ \{$ "March", "May"$ \}$
  • Example 2

    • Input: "Mar"
    • Output: $ \{$ "March"$ \}$
  • Example 3

    • Input: "Decuary"
    • Output: $ \{$ " "$ \}$ ….. the empty-set

The output from the trie should be one of:

  • the empty set
  • a set of one item
  • a set of two or more items

For months of the year, we might write javascript so that an end-user can type in any half-way reasonable date-format, instead getting an error message when they put slashes instead of dashes, etc….

If you do not like the months of the year application, a different use-case would be to write write your own Linux Shell (similar to BASH). Maybe any half-way reasonable abbreviation of "make directory" will map to "mkdir" In that case, we could have many-to-one mapping from high-level shell-commands to low-level Linux commands.

The question is:

How can we construct such a trie?
What algorithm will build the appropriate trie from the container of verbose strings.

Also, can we avoid brute-force generating a list of all aberrations before-hand? The set of all strings form-able by deleting 1 or more characters from the verbose strings is quite large. We would like to avoid combinatorial explosion, if we can.

The programming language (Java, python, C+ + ) does not matter for answering this question.

How do you deal with transparent fonts that you want to be white?

I’m a bit of a total amateur, but I thought I would learn how to make a simple game during quarantine.

However, I stumbled into a problem with fonts. I’m thinking about using the free font "Pixelmania" to show a score at the top of the screen. But the font is transparent! How do I make the inner part of the font white? Do I have to manually edit the font file myself? Or is there an easier way?

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How can I make this homebrew Elder Aboleth the CR rating I want it to be?

A party I’m running for are going up against an aboleth as a late-game "boss" (but not the "final boss"). They are currently Tier 4, level 17 to be precise, so a basic CR 10 aboleth is not going to stand up against them and will not be a climax I’m hoping for in this part of the adventure.

So, I’ve decided to boost the stats of the aboleth, increasing it to CR 22, which should serve as a better challenge for the party (they will have help, and have magic items aplenty, so I’m aware that this CR is above what the DMG, p. 82, thinks will be a deadly encounter for a party of four level 17 PCs).

I’ve used the guidance in the DMG, pp. 274-279, to try to modify the Aboleth’s stats so that it would be considered a CR 22 creature. I wanted it to still "feel" like an aboleth, so the Actions and abilities it has are unchanged, only the numbers (AC, HP, attack bonus, damage, DCs, etc) are different. Also, I intend for it to have access to the lair actions (the DCs of which will also be increased from DC 14 to DC 17) listed in the Monster Manual, if that makes any difference.

I’ve tried to keep the new numbers relative to the old numbers. For example, the RAW aboleth’s AC is 17, which matches what the table in the DMG suggests, so I went with the table’s suggestion of 19 for a CR 22 creature; however, the RAW aboleth has rather low HP for a CR 10 creature, so I gave it less than what the table suggested. Another example is the save DCs; 14 is rather low for a CR 10 creature, so I simply increased them by the proficiency bonus difference (CR 10 creatures have +4, and CR 22 creatures should have +7, so I increased the DCs by 3), which again resulted in a below average save DC for my new stats.

For the ability scores, I left DEX alone, but increased the mental stats (INT/WIS/CHA) by 4. Why 4? Because, as a comparison, the Red Dragon has different versions of different CRs (Young is CR 10, Ancient is CR 24, which is close enough to what I’m doing) and noticed that all the mental scores were 4 points higher, so I copied that pattern. With STR, I increased that to suit the attack bonuses according to the DMG tables, and CON was increased similarly for HP in accordance to the DMG tables (or rather, about roughly ⅔ of the recommended lower bound, going by the RAW aboleth’s HP).

Below is my attempt to make a CR 22 aboleth, which I’ve called the "Elder Aboleth" (so that it being stronger makes some kind of sense), and have made it Huge rather than Large to further justify its additional strength:

Elder Aboleth

Huge aberration, lawful evil

Armor Class 19 (Natural Armor)
Hit Points 276 (24d12 + 120)
Speed 10 ft., swim 40 ft.

  STR        DEX        CON        INT        WIS        CHA
22 (+6)      9 (-1)      20 (+5)    22 (+6)    19 (+4)    22 (+6)

Saving Throws CON +12, INT +13, WIS +11
Skills History +20, Perception +20
Senses Darkvision 120 ft., Passive Perception 30
Languages Deep Speech, Telepathy 120 ft.
Challenge 22 (41,000 XP)

Amphibious. The aboleth can breathe air and water.

Mucous Cloud. While underwater, the aboleth is surrounded by transformative mucus. A creature that touches the aboleth or that hits it with a melee attack while within 5 feet of it must make a DC 17 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, the creature is diseased for 1d4 hours. The diseased creature can breathe only underwater.

Probing Telepathy. If a creature communicates telepathically with the aboleth, the aboleth learns the creature’s greatest desires if the aboleth can see the creature.  


Multiattack. The aboleth makes three tentacle attacks.

Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 25 (3d10 + 6) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or become diseased. The disease has no effect for 1 minute and can be removed by any magic that cures disease. After 1 minute, the diseased creature’s skin becomes translucent and slimy, the creature can’t regain hit points unless it is underwater, and the disease can be removed only by heal or another disease-curing spell of 6th level or higher. When the creature is outside a body of water, it takes 6 (1d12) acid damage every 10 minutes unless moisture is applied to the skin before 10 minutes have passed.

Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 10 ft. one target. Hit: 32 (4d10 + 6) bludgeoning damage.

Enslave (3/Day). The aboleth targets one creature it can see within 30 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw or be magically charmed by the aboleth until the aboleth dies or until it is on a different plane of existence from the target. The charmed target is under the aboleth’s control and can’t take reactions, and the aboleth and the target can communicate telepathically with each other over any distance.

Whenever the charmed target takes damage, the target can repeat the saving throw. On a success, the effect ends. No more than once every 24 hours, the target can also repeat the saving throw when it is at least 1 mile away from the aboleth.  

Legendary Actions

The aboleth can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The aboleth regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Detect. The aboleth makes a Wisdom (Perception) check.

Tail Swipe. The aboleth makes one tail attack.

Psychic Drain (Costs 2 Actions). One creature charmed by the aboleth takes 28 (8d6) psychic damage, and the aboleth regains hit points equal to the damage the creature takes.

At the end of all of this, I then compare what I’ve done, trying to keep it relative to the RAW aboleth, regarding how well (or badly) it adheres to the average for its CR, to the "Average Challenge Rating" of pp. 274-275. But what I’ve come up with feels like it’s lower than CR 22 due to the lower damage output, lower save DCs and lower HP.

What have I done wrong? What would I need to do to make this creature a CR 22 creature, but still keeping the same relative strengths and weaknesses that the RAW aboleth has compared to the DMG table so that it still "feels" like an aboleth?

How do I deal with a player wanting to do an activity that takes weeks when the party doesn’t want to?

I’m currently running a campaign with 5 players at level 3, one of which is a Wizard Dragonborn who’s entire character is devoted to becoming a real dragon by the end of the campaign through some kind of magic or holy gift or something.

As part of this, the player has decided that he absolutely MUST have a Pseudodragon and has decided that next session, as the players have finally returned to town after leaving at level 1, he is going to spend a few days resting before setting off alone to explore the forests of the nearby area to find a Pseudodragon.

I explained to him that on foot, sweeping the whole forest systematically (in a frontier part of the world where the majority of the land is forested) will take literally weeks for his character to do, as he has no spells that can assist him except find familiar (which he could use to sweep the air with a hawk).

When I explained that, this would involve him as a player turning up to the session (online) and contributing essentially nothing for extended periods of time over the course of several sessions (my players have decided they will be leaving town soon and our sessions have very little time between them in the world) he decided that he was fine with that.

I really don’t think that he will be and I’d hate to lose one of my players because in two session’s time he decides that he is really bored and doesn’t want to keep playing but on the other hand I really don’t feel like it’s fair for the other players just to give him what he wants immediately because I’m scared to lose a player.

I know he has said that he is fine with it and I’ve explained the downsides to doing what he is planning to do.

As the DM, is there a better way that I can damage control this? I don’t know if I’m making the right choices by not giving the player what they want but I just cannot see a reasonable way that a player could quickly find a rare animal in hundreds of square miles of forest.

I want to play a Hexblade/pact of the blade warlock what’s the optimal way to play/use the character in combat? [closed]

I’m about to play my third ever session of D&D. I’ve been watching live-play for a while but haven’t played much. I’ve made a Levistus Tiefling Warlock with Pact of the Blade and a Hexblade patron starting at level 15.

character info:

Eldritch Invocations.

1-Agonizing Blast. 2-Lifedrinker. 3-Thirsting Blade. 4-Devil’s Sight. 5-Shroud of Shadow. 6-Visions of Distant Realms. 7-Mask of Many Faces.


cantrips: Eldritch Blast – Mage Hand – Minor Illusion – Prestidigitation – Ray of Frost

1-level spells: Charm person – Hex – Armor of Agathys(1/long rest) – Disguise Self(at will) – Arms of Hadar

2-level spells: Hold person – Crown of madness – Darkness(1/long rest) – Invisibility(at will)

3-level spells: hyponatic pattern – Thunder step

4-level spells: Banishment – Summon Greater Demon – Arcane Eye(at will)

5-level spells: Hold Monster – Cone of cold – Far Step – Stynaptic Static

Arcanum spells: Circle of death(6 level) – Forcecage (7 level) – Dominate Monster(8 level)

The main idea is that I’m really loving the idea and roleplay of being a warlock/cursed deal being the faceless charismatic type character and being tied to a weapon as in what the pact of the blade offers.

I prefer a ranged combat character, but I don’t want to be useless in melee. How can I optimally play this build?

I want to try being a DM

So sadly, after almost two years, our DM has kinda had a burnout, though that was obvious to us months earlier as our once a week game became one every few weeks to months. Long story short, he’s taking a hiatus, and even if he does come back, it won’t be with these current characters. He specifically said "world", but I would have to assume these characters as well. However, I still heavily love playing with this group, we all started playing online anyways so in person didn’t matter. The problem was that all of us were relatively new to the game, this campaign being our first ever. One of the other players only ever set up one-shots for us but I was hoping to play a full campaign again, this time in the DM’s chair. I’m scared to try though. Should I try my own homebrewed world (still based in the regular mechanics just not any rewritten story) or is there a rewritten campaign I should look into like Ravnica or Sword Coast or something?

TLDR; I want to try DMing but don’t know if I should go with my own world or an existing module.

My players want extra effects from their attacks. What should I do?

I’m DMing for a group of 4 players. Two of them have played a fair bit of 5e before, and two of them are new. I’m also new to DMing, though generally familiar with the rules of 5e.

One of the new players is trying to get creative in combat, which I think is great! The problem is I’m not exactly sure how I should adjudicate some of her requests in a way that won’t break the game. Some examples of what I mean:

Can I make an unarmed strike and use my talons to scratch the enemy’s eyes and blind them?

I attack them in their Achilles’ heel and cripple them so they can’t walk?

Now I know that the RAW answer is "No, you can’t try that." But that’s such a boring answer and I really hate to feel like I’m shutting down anything that isn’t just plain and simple attacks. In general, any time I say "No, you can’t do this", I feel like I’m shutting down my players fun.

Like I said, I like that she’s trying to be creative in combat, but if an unarmed strike can potentially blind an enemy, that’s incredibly strong. And if the PCs can do this to enemies, it’s fair game for enemies to do this to PCs as well. I can think of some house rules to balance it off the top of my head (Higher AC to hit a small target, enemy can make a constitution saving throw to avoid the effect, etc.) but I don’t want to worry about proper balance while we’re in the middle of a combat.

What’s a good way for me to empower my players and make them feel like they actually have these choices in combat rather than shutting them down, but without breaking the game?

Assuming I’m using Starbucks Wifi, is there a point of using a VPN if I want to remain anonymous?

Wouldn’t using Starbucks Wifi make me somewhat anonymous since my ip address would be the same as other users connected to the same network? Therefore, no need to use a VPN assuming I don’t want the website I’m connected to know my identify. Of course, the website can figure who I am assuming my browser fingerprints is unique. However, assuming I change my browser fingerprints every session, then I should be fine. Correct?