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2009-10-01 Rate of Advancement

Over on James Maliszewski there’s a blog post called Gygax in Europa linking to a copy of a fanzine produced in Switzerland in the seventies talking about Gygax’s Greyhawk campaign and citing a back and forth between Gygax and another reader:

I can appreciate your concerns over too-rapid progress and possibilities for branching-out after characters have made it to the top, but it does not really apply to us, as the campaign I’m in seems to almost as tough as the one you quote (after 2 terms – 4 months – of weekly expeditions, the highest members of our party are 5th level). – Sandy Eisen, UK

Four levels gained in four months of weekly play – four sessions or more per level. This is the kind of advancement I like best in my own games.

The tendency to make every fight a tactical challenge in D&D 3.5 has led to characters gaining a level every second session or faster. I was hardly able to use each of my new abilities before gaining yet another level.

I should keep this in mind and double-check every now and then.

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Comments on 2009-10-01 Rate of Advancement

As an alternative, you could scrap the XP system and just level everyone up every 4th session?

– Marco 2009-10-02 06:52 UTC


When I proposed something like that – a long time ago – I remember that players said they didn’t want that. Right now the XP system sort of rewards people for showing up a lot, which is a weird side-effect. :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-02 09:14 UTC


I am more of a “one level per twelve to twenty sessions” kind of guy, but it depends on what is being accomplished and what level the characters actually are. Certainly, moving up from first to second level is quicker than fourth to fifth.

Matthew James Stanham 2009-10-02 12:28 UTC

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2009-10-02 I hate the Perl SMTP libraries

At home I have Net::SMTP::TLS and Net::SMTP::SSL installed and I’ve managed to use both to send mail via my Google account.

On one of my hosting services, I have only Net::SMTP::SSL, and it just won’t work.

Debug output at home:

Net::SMTP::SSL>>> Net::SMTP::SSL(1.01)
Net::SMTP::SSL>>>   IO::Socket::SSL(1.24)
Net::SMTP::SSL>>>     IO::Socket::INET(1.31)
Net::SMTP::SSL>>>       IO::Socket(1.31)
Net::SMTP::SSL>>>         IO::Handle(1.28)
Net::SMTP::SSL>>>           Exporter(5.58)
Net::SMTP::SSL>>>   Net::Cmd(2.29)
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)<<< 220 mx.google.com ESMTP 24sm915314eyx.9
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)>>> EHLO localhost.localdomain
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)<<< 250-mx.google.com at your service, [80.219.173.68]
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)<<< 250-SIZE 35651584
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)<<< 250-8BITMIME
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)<<< 250-AUTH LOGIN PLAIN
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)<<< 250-ENHANCEDSTATUSCODES
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)<<< 250 PIPELINING
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)>>> AUTH LOGIN
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)<<< 334 VXNlcm5hbWU6
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)>>> a2Vuc2FuYXRh
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)<<< 334 UGFzc3dvcmQ6
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)>>> VGgsYmFpZA==
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)<<< 235 2.7.0 Accepted
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0x186fc04)>>> MAIL FROM:<kensanata@gmail.com>

Notice the AUTH LOGIN command.

Debug output on my host:

Net::SMTP::SSL>>> Net::SMTP::SSL(1.01)
Net::SMTP::SSL>>>   IO::Socket::SSL(1.16)
Net::SMTP::SSL>>>     IO::Socket::INET(1.31)
Net::SMTP::SSL>>>       IO::Socket(1.30_01)
Net::SMTP::SSL>>>         IO::Handle(1.27)
Net::SMTP::SSL>>>           Exporter(5.62)
Net::SMTP::SSL>>>   Net::Cmd(2.29)
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0xa025520)<<< 220 mx.google.com ESMTP 10sm135225eyz.42
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0xa025520)>>> EHLO localhost.localdomain
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0xa025520)<<< 250-mx.google.com at your service, [83.137.100.36]
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0xa025520)<<< 250-SIZE 35651584
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0xa025520)<<< 250-8BITMIME
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0xa025520)<<< 250-AUTH LOGIN PLAIN
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0xa025520)<<< 250-ENHANCEDSTATUSCODES
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0xa025520)<<< 250 PIPELINING
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0xa025520)>>> MAIL FROM:<kensanata@gmail.com>
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0xa025520)<<< 530-5.5.1 Authentication Required. Learn more at                              
Net::SMTP::SSL=GLOB(0xa025520)<<< 530 5.5.1 http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=14257 10sm135225eyz.42

Notice the error: Authentication Required.

Why is the same script (I checked twice – I sure hope I’m not confusing anything) not using the AUTH LOGIN command?

I don’t understand.

  my $mail = new MIME::Entity->build(To => $from, # test!
				     From => $from,
				     Subject => 'Test Net::SMTP::SSL',
				     Path => $fh,
				     Type => "text/html");
  my $smtp = Net::SMTP::SSL->new($host, Port => 465,
				 Debug => 1);
  $smtp->auth($user, $password);
  $smtp->mail($from);
  $smtp->to($from); # test!
  $smtp->data;
  $smtp->datasend($mail->stringify);
  $smtp->dataend;
  $smtp->quit;

Source is available. [1]

Output of perl -MNet::SMTP::SSL -wle 'for (keys %INC) { next if m[^/]; $m = $_; $m =~ s[/][::]g; $m =~ s/\.pm$//; print "$m ", $m->VERSION || "<unknown>" }' as suggested on #perl:

At homeRemote system
Net::SSLeay 1.35
IO::Handle 1.28
List::Util 1.14
SelectSaver 1.00
IO::Socket 1.31
warnings 1.03
Symbol 1.05
Scalar::Util 1.14
IO::Socket::INET 1.31
Exporter 5.58
Errno 1.09
IO::Socket::SSL 1.24
warnings::register 1.00
XSLoader 0.02
Net::Config 1.11
Net::Cmd 2.29
utf8 1.04
Config <unknown>
IO 1.25
IO::Socket::UNIX 1.23
Carp 1.03
bytes 1.01
Exporter::Heavy 5.58
Net::SMTP 2.31
vars 1.01
strict 1.03
Net::SMTP::SSL 1.01
constant 1.04
Socket 1.77
AutoLoader 5.60
DynaLoader 1.05
Net::SSLeay 1.35
XSLoader 0.08
IO::Handle 1.27
warnings::register 1.01
Net::Config 1.11
List::Util 1.19
SelectSaver 1.01
Net::Cmd 2.29
IO::Socket 1.30_01
warnings 1.06
utf8 1.07
IO::Socket::UNIX 1.23
IO 1.23_01
Symbol 1.06
bytes 1.03
Carp 1.08
Net::SMTP 2.31
Scalar::Util 1.19
Exporter::Heavy 5.62
IO::Socket::INET 1.31
Net::SMTP::SSL 1.01
strict 1.04
vars 1.01
Exporter 5.62
constant 1.13
Socket 1.80
Errno 1.1
IO::Socket::SSL 1.16
AutoLoader 5.63

Hm…

Update: I found the problem and submitted a bug: The remote system is a Debian system, and the admin installed libnet-smtp-ssl-perl. If you look at the Net::SMTP code, however, you’ll see the following:

sub auth {
  my ($self, $username, $password) = @_;

  eval {
    require MIME::Base64;
    require Authen::SASL;
  } or $self->set_status(500, ["Need MIME::Base64 and Authen::SASL
todo auth"]), return 0;

There is therefore a dependency on Authen::SASL. If you don’t have that module, sending your email will fail in a non-obvious way, as seen above. Installing libauthen-sasl-perl fixes the problem.

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Comments on 2009-10-02 I hate the Perl SMTP libraries

Thanks for the heads up on the Authen::SASL dependency…been working on it for hours and getting nowhere.

– Fred 2009-12-09 18:34 UTC


I’m not sure what to make of the response given to the bug report. Does Gregor agree with me or not? It’s weird. :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-12-09 23:24 UTC

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2009-10-02 Spirit of the Century

Wir haben mal zwei One Shot Abende mit Spirit of the Century geplant. Am nächsten Montag geht’s los. Ich habe das System noch nie gespielt, bin aber mit den grundzügen von Fudge vertraut, weil ich vor ewigen Zeiten das original Dokument von Steffan O’Sullivan las und begeistert war. Die Anleitung zur Charaktererschaffung ist ja einfach, und so beschloss ich drei Beispielcharaktere auf Basis der Seiten 20 bis 24 zu erschaffen – einfach mal Hintergrund, Krieg, Buch, und zwei Gastrollen. Dann beschloss ich, den ersten Charakter nach meinem halb-chinesischen Urgrossvater zu modellieren, fing an in Wikipedia herumzulesen, ein Spieler erschuf einen zweiten chinesischen Charakter, und plötzlich las ich ein dutzend Wikipedia Seiten zum Thema

Haaaaaalt! Ich glaube hier ist etwas falsch gelaufen. Das sollte doch viel kürzer sein! Das Beispiel auf Seite 31 ist auf alle Fälle wirklich sehr kurz und hat kaum Bezug zur Realität. Vielleicht sind ein paar Indiana Jones Filme halt auch keine wirkliche Basis für mein Pulp Wissen.

Wer sich das mal anschauen will:

Was mache ich nun bloss? Kürzen? Streichen? Neu beginnen? Comics lesen?

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Comments on 2009-10-02 Spirit of the Century

Wenn ihr die Charaktere zusammen am Tisch erstellt, werden die Hintergründe kürzer und knackiger und außerdem besser vernetzt. Laßt auch diese Chance nicht entgehen.

– Roland 2009-10-02 17:36 UTC


Hm, das Ganze findet halt im Rahmen von zwei One Shot Abenden à 3.5h statt. Da wollten wir nicht zu viel Zeit mit der Charaktererschaffung verbringen. Die drei von mir gehören in ein Pool von Pregens, das ich mitbringen wollte. Vielleicht kann ich ja noch an ‘knackig’ und ‘vernetzt’ arbeiten… :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-03 07:25 UTC


Die gemeinsame Charaktererschaffung ist für mich ein Teil des Spielvergnügens. Wenn ihr Zeit sparen wollt, nehmt einfach die Stuntpackages aus dem Buch und kümmert euch nur um die (grobe) Vorgeschichte und die Aspekte.

– Roland 2009-10-03 09:30 UTC


Grade die Charaktererschaffung ist das HErz von Fate und einen eigenen Oneshot abend wert! Stimme dem Roland da zu! Dom

Dom 2009-10-03 10:41 UTC

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2009-10-04 iPod Restore

“Be sure to go through at least one charge cycle per month (charging the battery to 100% and then completely running it down).”[1]

So that’s what I did. Kept using the iPod without ever plugging it in until it ran out of power. Later that day, picked it up and plugged it into the Mini, hoping to recharge and sync it with iTunes. But what did I see? “Detected an iPod in recovery mode.” I need to restore it, ie. reformat it and resync 80G of music.

In the words of little Noah: “Danke. Danke vielmahl!” (Thanks. Thanks a lot!)

Grrrrrr. >{

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Comments on 2009-10-04 iPod Restore

:)

– zeno 2009-10-07 15:35 UTC

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2009-10-06 Details Considered Harmful

Did I post this before? Reading Refreshed and Reenergized or “Why I don’t like Adventure Paths” by Tony Law reminded me of a problem I have with Adventure Paths.

An Adventure Path promises a good story, good characters, maps, and a lot of background information for the referee. Structurally, we’re often talking about an introduction, a synopsis, character background, settlement background, room descriptions, and monster and magic item stats in the back of the book. The problem comes up at the table: whenever the party does something I don’t know by heart, I start fumbling through the book. I know she had some secret plan. Where do I look it up? At the beginning of the book? At the beginning of the chapter? In the character description? Somewhere else? And instead of driving the story forward, I’m stalling.

If there were less text, I’d know that I need to improvise. With little defined, new facts I invent will not contradict published material. I’d be fine. But I haven’t read the entire Adventure Path when we’re starting to play. After all, I’m trying to save time by not writing everything myself. I don’t have the time to read anything but material for the next one or two sessions. The net result is that the typical Adventure Path format inhibits my ability to improvise.

I’m trying to deal with it by introducing extra adventures, skipping big chunks of the adventures, treating the material as a suggestion, a background. I’m not yet sure that it’ll work, but as it stands I’m noticing the limitations of the format.

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Comments on 2009-10-06 Details Considered Harmful

I think this is something that can be worked on.

The idea of an adventure path as a useful tool for a DM is a solid one. There are people willing to take up the mantle of DM, but who do not have the time to invest into creating and structuring their own campaign. For these people, adventure paths allow them to maintain a coherent, engaging story with a minimum amount of personal prep work.

That said, adventure paths are a new art and there is A LOT of room for improvement. The community (read: publishers) need to nail down exactly what is important to a DM running these paths, and how to present that information in the most straightforward way possible. When something comes up at the table, the DM should not be at a loss for where to find the answer. If an answer exists, he should be able to locate it easily. If it does not exist, he should be aware of that and be given free reign by the adventure to make the answer up himself (as well as be given all the knowledge necessary to make sure that answer does not conflict with information presented elsewhere in the adventure).

Scott 2009-10-07 04:49 UTC


Are you providing any sort of feedback on the Paizo boards? I thought about that but then I wondered whether that would be useful at all.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-07 17:29 UTC


I liked Zak S.’s blog post detailing how he evaluates a city supplement:

the whole point of using someone else’s setting is that you have to do less work and if I have to prep and highlight all over the page or rewrite it then it suddenly becomes more trouble than just writing my own thing
– Zak S.

AlexSchroeder 2010-03-31 14:59 UTC

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2009-10-06 My Next Campaign

100% Tolkien free Whereas Geoffrey McKinney’s Carcosa contains a replacement sorcerer class for all magic users, unique spells, and a plethora of Cthuloid monsters,

Whereas Mike Davidson’s Ruins & Ronin contains new races and classes (Bujin, Half-Ogre, Shugenja, and Sohei) and a plethora of Asian monsters,

Whereas David Bowman’s Dismal Depth Bestiary contains a plethora of weird and mysterious monsters,

Whereas the blog Ancient Vaults & Eldritch Secrets by an anonymous person contains a plethora of strange and beautiful spells,

Whereas the blog A Hamsterish Hoard of Dungeons and Dragons by an anonymous person contains a plethora of strange and beautiful monsters and magic items,

Considering A Game of One’s Own by James Maliszewski,

Considering Some thoughts about how to organise rpg rules by Andreas Davour,

Now, therefore, I

Proclaim my next campaign to use the barest of rules, nothing but new classes, nothing but new spells, and nothing but new monsters.

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Comments on 2009-10-06 My Next Campaign

Can I play?

– Adrian 2009-10-06 20:02 UTC


Sounds spiffy. I can vouch, as a player, for the excellence of the monsters on A Hamsterish Horde. There’s been much running and screaming on account of those critters. ;)

Oddysey 2009-10-06 20:26 UTC


Your’re always welcome at my table, Adrian! :)

@oddysey – the tweets from your and @trollsmyth have pointed me to the Hamsterish Horde again and again. It’s not such an interesting read if you already have games going in well defined settings, but I expect that to change when I’m forced to look for absolutely new stuff.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-06 21:33 UTC


I hope that Ancient Vaults & Eldritch Secrets also serves you well!

bat 2009-10-06 21:54 UTC


Yep. And I love the little short stories introducing the spell. I love it and it opened my eyes to the fact that spells can be mysterious and useful and fun. There was a time when I subscribed to the notion that just letting magic users combine three runes, or forces, or elements to produce magic effects, and magic points or power levels to determine area of effect, duration, and power could be good enough, but then I discovered that the magic user in our party wasn’t using them in really creative and surprising ways. Apparently a whimsical list of spells was necessary to spur the imagination. Ancient Vaults & Eldritch Secrets absolutely delivers on that account! ok :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-06 22:07 UTC


I often try to blur the lines between a spell and an encounter, or a trap, for example. Not all of your magic-users will find these spells, but your entire party can spend a whole night trying to figure out what happened after one has been cast on one of them. The fun is sending these posts out there and encouraging games along. I do sincerely hope that Ancient Vaults helps out your game. As the magic is what separates fantasy from reality, I like to make all things magical a bit weird and potentially scary and dangerous, but open to a few laughs when the situation calls for it.

bat 2009-10-07 10:50 UTC


It sounds like a cool trick. I must remember that!

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-07 17:28 UTC


Are you going to try to run M20? Or maybe a stripped down (way stripped down, if you hope to reach the “barest of rules” level), house-ruled 3.5? Or a completely different engine? Is this supposed to be a D&D game?

Just curious :) Last night’s discussion over beer got my game design juices flowing.

– Adrian 2009-10-19 19:24 UTC


I’d be using something based on Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry. I’d write new classes (various kinds of fighters and magic users), new XP tables, new spells, new monsters. Keep a d20 to hit roll, a d6 for initiative, armor classes, hit points, damage roll, levels, Vancian magic, etc.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-19 22:16 UTC


I want to be Doing It Your Own Freaking Way!

AlexSchroeder 2010-03-12 16:06 UTC

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2009-10-07 Bitlbee Again

It turned out to be trivial to download and install Bitlbee from source. Then I used bitlbee.el to start it from within Emacs instead of trying to have it run all the time. In fact, the following seems to work just fine:

(autoload 'bitlbee-start "bitlbee" t)
(setq bitlbee-executable "/usr/local/sbin/bitlbee")

(global-set-key (kbd "C-c e")
		(lambda ()
		  (interactive)
		  (bitlbee-start); needs time to start up
		  (run-with-idle-timer 1 nil 'rcirc nil)))

Don’t forget to add an appropriate entry to rcirc-server-alist and rcirc-authinfo.

Quick setup for myself:

account add oscar "kensanata" "*secret*"
account add oscar "98129982" "*secret*"
account add jabber "kensanata@gmail.com" "*secret*"
account set jabber/ssl true
account set jabber/server talk.google.com
account set jabber/port 5223
save
account on

Using account set was new to me. And having to use port 5223 instead of 5222 was weird, too. But now it seems to work. Yeah! I ended up not using ELIM and jabber.el, which is why I wanted to give Bitlbee another try. ok

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Comments on 2009-10-07 Bitlbee Again

On my old laptop running Mac OS 10.3, I had the error “Cannot find glib2 development libraries” – I had to compile and install glib-2.0, which in turn required me to edit all the Makefiles and remove the references to gtkdoc-rebase which I don’t have and which I did not want to install just to get the documentation. And I had to tell pkg-config where to find it, too:

    PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/usr/local/lib/pkgconfig/ ./configure
    PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/usr/local/lib/pkgconfig/ ./make

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-07 23:34 UTC


If you need OTR support, then try bitlbee-otr which integrates OTR support :)

Ashish SHUKLA 2009-10-18 08:55 UTC


Good point. Too bad I don’t know anybody that actually uses it. :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-18 19:35 UTC


Just a heads up for users in Germany: With Debian stable bitlbee, at least, you must us googlemail and not gmail. A real pain as people who have you as name@gmail.com will not see you online if you’re logged on to bitlbee talk.gtalk.com as name@googlemail.com. http://thinkhole.org/wp/2006/09/20/howto-connect-to-google-talk-with-bitlbee/ . I’ll post solutions if and when I find some.

Richard 2009-12-29 10:39 UTC


Yikes, that’s not a very cool solution. :(

AlexSchroeder 2009-12-29 20:49 UTC

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2009-10-07 Necromancer Games Reanimated

Necromancer Games released three PDF products! (Via TheBax [1])

A quick look at RPG Now and my cart is overflowing:

Slumbering Tsar note$21.99
Demonheart note$19.99
The Eamonvale Incursion note$29.99
The Grey Citadel $7.98
The Coils of Set $9.59
Trailblazer $4.95
Subtotal$94.49

I’d really love printed copies of these products! And apparently “RPGnow will be starting a program later this year where customers can buy POD books from their website.” [2] [3] [4]

Decisions! Decisions!

Well, they say: “POD guy contacted me…they are doing an upgrade to DTRPG—no time frame given, but we will be one of the first who gets it.” [5]

Oh man… I’ve said in the past that “if I wanted to use something at the table, I need it in print.”

I can wait for a few more weeks.

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Comments on 2009-10-07 Necromancer Games Reanimated

“Direct sales of POD products should be weeks away, not months.” [1] (posted ten days ago)

Oh yeah!

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-31 16:11 UTC

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2009-10-08 Was Tun

Was soll ich bloß am kommenden Sonntag machen – seit Monaten der erste Tag ohne Programm und Claudia ist in China. :(

  1. Steuererklärung ausfüllen!?

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Comments on 2009-10-08 Was Tun

wie geht es deinen Fingern? ;)

– zeno 2009-10-12 17:11 UTC


Haben sich langsam erholt… Das verdammte button mashing führt jedes Mal zu verdammt empfindlichen Daumenkuppen.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-12 17:13 UTC

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2009-10-09 Resizing Too Large Windows In X11 on Mac OS 10.4

I have a lousy old monitor with a 1024×768 resolution and I’m using Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger). When I installed the new Gimp, the Toolbox window was too tall. On a Mac, you can only resize windows by dragging their lower right corner. Unfortunately, the lower edge is not visible if the window is too tall.

I tried using Quartz Debug (/Developer/Applications/Performance Tools/Quartz Debug.app) to switch the User Interface Resolution to values smaller than 1.00; the result is that any new applications you start have their user interface scaled appropriately. But although the X11.app user interface is scaled, the windows of the applications running within it are not! That’s why any suggestions involving monkeying around with these settings such as defaults write -g AppleDisplayScaleFactor 0.8 for a global temporary solution or defaults write com.apple.SystemPreferences AppleDisplayScaleFactor .75 for a permanent per-application default and their ilk will not work.

I then compiled and installed wmctrl to change the window size from the command line. But it doesn’t support the Apple window manager, quartz-wmwmctrl -l will print the help text instead of a window list.

What I ended up doing was compiling and installing the simplest window manager I know, Blackbox.

In your /.xinitrc:

/usr/local/bin/bsetroot -solid midnightblue
exec /usr/local/bin/blackbox

You must specify the full path to the binaries. That confused me for a while!

Once you’re in Blackbox, create a new xterm window, and use wmctrl -r Toolbox -e 0,20,20,300,500 to resize the window. You can get the names using wmctrl -l.

You can use ⌘N to create a new xterm window. If you’re using X11.app and the default window-manager (replace blackbox with quartz-wm in your .xinitrc file), you can change these keybindings. Or just use ⌘click on the background to call the Blackbox menu.

To edit the Blackbox menu, I suggest you just sudo chown <yournamehere> /usr/local/share/blackbox/menu and edit the file directly, commenting out all the applications you won’t be using.

If you’re using X11.app and the default window-manager (replace blackbox with quartz-wm in your .xinitrc file), you can change the X11 default such that it always starts in full-screen mode, ie. it has a root window. Remember to use ⎇⌘A to switch away from X11. The bgetroot command im my .xinitrc just makes sure I’m not getting the terrible default black & white X11 background.

Good luck. :)

Possible pitfalls:

  1. Perhaps you need to configure and make within X11? I don’t know wether it works outside of X11.
  2. You will need the glib-2.0 library somewhere, if I remember correctly. If compiling it gives you problems, check out my notes for Mac OS 10.3.

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Comments on 2009-10-09 Resizing Too Large Windows In X11 on Mac OS 10.4


C
Urmm… I hesitate to comment because honestly I’m nowhere close to understanding what this article even means, but fwiw I solved this problem in Ubuntu in single-window mode by holding alt while clicking inside the image window, which allowed me to drag it up and see the bottom. It still wouldn’t let me re-size upward because the toolbox was so tall, so I widened the toolbox until it was two columns, then I could drag the bottom of window upward.

– C 2013-01-16 22:47 UTC

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2009-10-11 There Is No Hope

Obama gets the Peace Nobel Prize? What’s wrong with these people?

Am I so misinformed?

  • No progress in Palestine.
  • No progress in Iraq.
  • No progress in Iran.
  • No progress in Afghanistan.
  • No progress regarding health care.
  • No progress in secret prisons.
  • No progress in Guantánamo.
  • No progress regarding torture.
  • No progress regarding war criminals.
  • No progress regarding global warming.

I’ve heard people say that he’s giving hope to those who had none. Well, let me tell you: I still have none!

The United States of America is blessed with two conservatives parties. While they sure sound different, talk is cheap.

Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap.

See?

Hope is not a plan.

People claim that he was nominated for the prize after twelve days in office! “The deadline for submitting candidates had come just 12 days after he entered the White House.” [1] I find that disgusting.

Some people say that “The award is also an example of what Nobel scholars call the growing aspirational trend of Nobel committees over the past three decades, by which awards are given not for what has been achieved but in support of the cause being fought for.” [2]

Reminds me of certain three individuals in 1994:

  • Yasser Arafat, leading a corrupt cabinet, robbing the Palestinians of millions of dollars – France investigating “money transfers totalling 9 million euros ($11.5 million) from Swiss banks to private accounts owned by Suha Arafat, the wife of the Palestinian leader” – and remember the Palestinian State Controller’s report that “nearly half of the authority’s $326 million 1997 budget had been lost through corruption or financial mismanagement.” [3]
  • Shimon Peres, a war criminal who launched “Operation Grapes of Wrath” causing 400,000 Lebanese to flee their homes, with almost 800 of them fleeing to a UN base in Qana, South Lebanon. On 18 April the Israeli army shelled the UN shelter in Qana, killing 102 civilians, mainly women, children and the elderly. Many more were injured.” [4]
  • Yitzhak Rabin, a war criminal who “oversaw the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian cities like Lid in 1948; he ordered tanks into Arab villages inside Israel during the Land Day protests of 1976, leading to the deaths of half a dozen unarmed Palestinian citizens; and in 1988 he ordered his army to crush the first intifada by “breaking the bones” of Palestinians, including women and children, who threw stones at the occupying troops.” [5]

You can hope for the best, but you should only reward people with 10 million Swedish crowns having a proven track record for peace. We all hoped that Oslo would lead to peace. But it went nowhere. [6]

These three people were honored for the hope they inspired in 1994.

But Hope is not a plan.

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Comments on 2009-10-11 There Is No Hope

Agreed.

greywulf 2009-10-11 12:50 UTC


Some ranting inspired by The Godless Paladin. :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-11 23:19 UTC


you forgot to mention, that there is still NO eqal rights for gay people as well..

dein cousinchen 2009-10-12 11:28 UTC


Du meinst Proposition 8 und ähnlichen Hirnriss? Auch da sehe ich wenig Fortschritte.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-12 11:47 UTC


Why are you surprised? Most (if not all) of the glamorous awards in most fields are expedient and marketing gimmicks. This is just another facet of Brand Obama.

NoufalIbrahim 2009-10-12 12:22 UTC


Maybe I’m not yet as cynic as that. :)

I liked half the prize for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007. I don’t think Al Gore really deserved it. Muhammad Yunus in 2006 was ok for micro finance. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Mohammed el-Baradei in 2005 was ok for struggling against Bush in Iraq, even thought it ended up being to no avail. Wangari Maathai in 2004 seemed to be ok as well. I know very little about her. Shirin Ebadi in 2003 seemed to be well deserved. Médecins sans frontières in 1999 was deserved. My personal highlight of recent years remains the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and Jody Williams in 1997.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-12 13:44 UTC


You’ve got a brighter heart than me then. I consider all the genuine winners of (atleast) the Nobel peace prize as exceptions.

NoufalIbrahim 2009-10-12 17:25 UTC


Hm, I found a link to Rachel Maddow: The Nobel Prize & Obama Derangement Syndrome via Twitter via @seankreynolds. Hm, interesting.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-13 01:41 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Obama, years later. Sing with me and Johnny Cash: “What have you become?”

AlexSchroeder 2013-05-18 11:50 UTC

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2009-10-12 Diaspora

I’ve selectively read the Spirit of the Century rule book in anticipation of a one-shot. It’s called a pick-up game, but it’s not easy to pick up – it just seems to lend itself to little planning and episodic play. I discovered Diaspora at a friend’s place, and it seemed smaller.

I like small books! Hopefully the rules are quicker to read.

Since we’re also playing a Mongoose Traveller game, I’m interested. I also like the rant at the beginning of the 16 page thread on rpg.net.

I’m interested in replacing the skill list with free form qualities à la Subjective Fudge of Zo. Too bad the skill list available from their website is a plan ol’ skill list.

But unfortunately the price is not my friend:

Subtotal $34.95
Shipping and Handling $12.89
Total $47.84

Maybe I’ll take another look at my friend’s copy before buying anything.

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Comments on 2009-10-12 Diaspora

Hey, I looked at my Lulu shopping cart again, and shipping and handling went up by a dollar: $13.97! Weird.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-16 11:06 UTC


Buying it from Sphärenmeister in Germany is much better:

Bezeichnung GP
Diaspora - Hard SF FATE 28,95 €
Versandmethode 1,80 €
Gesamtbetrag ohne MwSt.28,74 €

Often small shops will not sell without VAT to Switzerland. This is cool. About $43.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-16 11:21 UTC


You probably know this already, but I read on an amazon.de info page that certain tax exemptions exist when importing from Germany to Switzerland. Sure enough, the package arrived without me having to pay anything extra.

– Marco 2009-10-16 14:38 UTC


Yup. No VAT if and only if 7.6% of the package does not exceed CHF 5.- – otherwise you’ll pay 7.6% + CHF 18.- service charge. A source of much annoyance!!

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-16 18:51 UTC

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2009-10-13 Group Size

Over at the Temple of Demogorgon the topic is Group Size – what’s your pref?

I’ve had great games with two players showing up, but my house rule is that games are cancelled if less than three players can make it. I guess this way I can handle three players saying they’ll come and one of them having to cancel at the last minute.

The upper limit depends on the amount of crunch. When there is a lot of tactical combat in D&D 3.5, my preference is five players. But I get to play with No Battlemap, less combat, and less rules, the game can handle more players. I’ve drawn the line at seven players in my Alder King game.

It’d be great to have two or three times as many players in the campaign itself. A pool of ten to fifteen players, either meeting at random, or playing in different teams, with seven players being the maximum per session – that would be cool.

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Comments on 2009-10-13 Group Size

It depends upon the nature of the game. I typically stick to a maximum of 5 player characters at any given time, though this might go up or down dependent upon who is in town, or what have you.

Emperor 2009-10-17 17:12 UTC

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2009-10-13 Laser Bears

The joys of finding bears shooting laser beams from their eyes! Also available as a T-shirt.

Laser Bear!!

I love Chinese propaganda being used for this kind of stuff.

My favorite in this area remains the RTFM joke:

RTFM in China

Does anybody know who created that image?

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Comments on 2009-10-13 Laser Bears

The only thing better than bears with lasers on their heads are sharks with freakin’ lasers on their heads.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bh7bYNAHXxw

John L. Williams 2009-10-14 01:10 UTC


Hahaha :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-14 09:23 UTC

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2009-10-13 Schlafen

Verdammt. Claudia ist in China und schon gerät alles aus den Fugen. Samstag schlafen um 2:00, Sonntag schlafen um 3:15, und “heute” Montag ist schon 4:10 und ich bin nicht müde.

Shit.

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Comments on 2009-10-13 Schlafen

Ich zwinge mich dazu um 10:00 aufzustehen. Gestern bin ich erst nach fünf ins Bett. So ein Mist.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-13 08:19 UTC


Da kann ich dich ja problemlos bis Mitternacht (Ortszeit Rio) anrufen und muss nicht Angst haben dich im Schlaf zu stören!!!

– der Vater 2009-10-14 00:36 UTC


Ok, das hat ja wenigstens etwas positives. :)

Üblicherweise schalte ich den Rechner ab, wenn ich ins Bett gehe. Falls ich also auf GTalk online bin, kann man anrufen. Aber du wie bisher vorher per Chat nachfragst, ist es noch besser. Vielleicht schläft ja Claudia schon…

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-14 08:22 UTC


Verdammt schon wieder fast vier Uhr Lokalzeit. :(

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-16 01:52 UTC

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2009-10-13 To Tékumel Or Not

Some months ago I bought the original Empire of the Petal Throne (HOG reproduction) for $24.95 from Tita’s House of Games. I read through it, and had no group ready to start playing it – I’d probably just use Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord limiting character species to humans. So I left it in my bookshelf. Then I started following Planet Algol. That campaign uses a strange mix of Carcosa, Mutant Future, and Tékumel with heavily house-ruled AD&D 1st ed. rules, if I remember correctly.

So now I’m thinking about Tékumel again. And buying more background material for inspiration. It’s weird. I want to buy settings and all that, but at the same time I hardly read the books I buy if I’m not playing them. So I seem to be buying books because I’d like to play. This is dumb.

Anyway, I was browsing Tita’s House of Games pricelist groan and reading the reviews making up the The Tekumel Special Collection. And I sent Carl Brodt an email, asking for a quote.

Tékumel: The Empire of the Petal Throne (Tri-Stat RPG by Guardians of Order)$39.95
Swords and Glory Vol. 1, Books 1-3 (reproduction of Gamescience World Sourcebook)$39.95
Book of Ebon Bindings $9.95
Flamesong (very well read)$5.95
Man of Gold (very well read)$3.95
Shipping $45.00
Total $144.95

Argh! Any comments? Stuff I don’t need?

Heh. I know the answer myself: I don’t need any of it!

But I want to play it… and that makes me want to buy it… This is hopeless!

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Comments on 2009-10-13 To Tékumel Or Not

Man of gold is entertaining, and probably gives a good view of how it feels like to play in the Barker campaign. I’d skip the GoO rules if I were you. They are overly complex and if you are buying the other stuff you will get the world info, will you not?

Andreas Davour 2009-10-13 14:31 UTC


Good point! Thanks.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-13 14:50 UTC


I have tried playing in Tekumel a few times but without much success. It really is quite alien, though mostly in a good way. As you are not using the system, I would aim for sourcebooks over game books but I do not know the line well enough to recommend any specifically.

Sean Holland 2009-10-13 16:47 UTC


I guess I’m looking for source books to inspire a Planet Algol-like blend of weird. Getting Swords and Glory Vol. 1 seems to be my best bet based on a review I read: “As a reference work, the Sourcebook remains without peer. Even though S&G is a dead system, the Sourcebook remains current, because it contains no rules information whatsoever. As such, it is a useful adjunct to any Tekumel game—or for any fan of the world, whether they play or not.”

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-13 16:52 UTC


I really really dig the Empire of the Petal Throne reprint for the monsters (best dungeon monsters ever) and magic/technological items, easily usable with most old-school D&D incarnations pretty much as is. The bestiary is good for more monster info, illustrations, and you can calculate some sort of monster attack/damage info from it.

I haven’t really read anything aside from EOTPT, the Tekumel Bestiary and the Book of Eibon Bindigs, all three are great.

Blair 2009-10-13 23:04 UTC

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2009-10-14 Love the Blue Room

I love taking walks. It doesn’t have to be the mountains, either. Today I met somebody in Oerlikon and walked through the MFO-Park, the Oerliker Park, Friedhof Nordheim cemetery, along Käfernholzstrasse to Bucheggplatz, down to Dammweg and accross the river, across the Hardbrücke and home.

And I took some pictures along the way. Too bad the iPhone camera sucks.

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2009-10-14 iPhone and iPhoto Hassle

My iPhoto crashed three times in a row trying to import pictures from my iPhone. I started with 47 pictures. The third time around I said “don’t delete originals” and ended up with 7 (!) pictures in my iPhoto.

Luckily enough I found the remaining pictures in my iPhoto Library:

Alex iPhotoLibrary/Originals/Roll 208 contained the 47 files I needed.
Alex iPhotoLibrary/Originals/Roll 208_2 contained 12 files.
Alex iPhotoLibrary/Originals/Roll 208_3 contained 7 files.

So I copied the 47 seven files from that folder to my Desktop and dragged them back into iPhoto. It worked!

As I look around in my Library folder, I find a lot of mysterious data junk, but I’m afraid of cleaning it up. Who knows what iPhoto will need? Does anybody know how to clean up an iPhone library has been in use since 2004 and contains around 7500 images? I’m using iPhoto 6.0.6.

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Comments on 2009-10-14 iPhone and iPhoto Hassle

I have iPhoto 6.0.6 on my iMac. I did a fresh install of Snow Leopard so it was a good opportunity for a clean up. I had about five thousand photos in the Library. I created a new library by launching iPhoto for the first time (in the new install) and then dragged the folders from my old library from a backup folder on an external drive. I then also copied across some folders from the new library to iPhoto v7.1.5 on my MacBook and that updated no problem. I find it useful at times to create new iPhoto Libraries by holding the option key when launching iPhoto, which also presents a choice to open any one of a number of existing Libraries.

Deane Williams 2009-10-27 11:52 UTC


Hm, good point. I should try creating a new library and then moving the photos over from the old one.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-30 11:17 UTC

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2009-10-15 Network Traffic

I have this little script called leech-detector that I run on log files every now and then:

aschroeder@thinkmo:~$ leech-detector < logs/access.log | head
       66.249.65.101       2654    11K   9%    8.7s  200 (86%), 404 (7%), 302 (2%), 304 (2%), 301 (0%), 501 (0%)
        72.30.142.82       1055    14K   3%   22.0s  200 (91%), 304 (2%), 404 (2%), 301 (2%), 302 (0%)
      87.250.253.241        979    20K   3%   23.7s  200 (96%), 404 (1%), 301 (1%)
      67.218.116.134        868    12K   2%   26.7s  200 (85%), 301 (9%), 404 (3%), 302 (1%), 403 (0%)
       72.14.199.225        413    15K   1%   56.1s  200 (50%), 304 (41%), 301 (7%)
      67.195.110.173        293    18K   1%   78.6s  200 (76%), 304 (7%), 301 (7%), 404 (6%), 302 (2%)

So, what do we have? Using whois on them:

66.249.65.101
Google (“GOGL”)
72.30.142.82
Inktomi (“INKT” – Yahoo, I think)
87.250.253.241
Yandex (“YANDEX-252” a Russian search engine?)
67.218.116.134
Layer42 (“LAYER-1” – huh? a “web solution provider” – maybe a caching proxy for their network?)
72.14.199.225
Google (“GOGL” again)
67.195.110.173
Yahoo (“YHOO”)

I guess that assuming 20% search engine traffic is still a good estimate.

Actually, when grouping by user agent instead of the IP number using bot-analyze, we get an even higher number. Apparently the Microsoft bot is distributed over various IP numbers so that it doesn’t show up in the list above:

aschroeder@thinkmo:~$ bot-analyze < logs/access.log | head
    ---------------------------------Hits-------Actions
                         Total      29979   100%     0%
    ---------------------------------------------------
                        msnbot       7437    24%     1%
                     Googlebot       2817     9%     0%
                         robot        950     3%     3%
                        Exabot        137     0%     2%
                        robots         49     0%     0%
                      qihoobot         26     0%    30%
                        MSNBOT         22     0%     0%

That’s a full 33% of my hits for search engines. Then again, I pay for bandwidth and not hits. Should I rewrite this to show bandwidth?

I wonder how bigger sites handle it. Perhaps I could decide that 3% hits is enough, and therefore serve a 503 Service Unavailable response for 10 in 11 bot requests? In order to implement this, my script would still have to start up, however, eating CPU cycles and disc access.

Or is 33% a sign of bad design decisions I made? Am I sending the bots around in loops, changing the URLs all the time, making them think they have discovered new pages they have not indexed, yet?

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Comments on 2009-10-15 Network Traffic

I can definitely identify with the experience. There’s nothing easier to get wrong than how robots harvest a CGI application. I remember looking at someone’s Perl based Web calendar that had “next” and “previous” buttons that went to infinity. There’s a lot of fear about SQL injection, but Web interfaces that fail to halt can wreak havoc.

Should I rewrite this to show bandwidth?

Probably, because there’s a chance that Web robots DTRT and use the HTTP HEAD method for seeing if there are page updates available. According to RFC 2616#sec9.4:

The HEAD method is identical to GET except that the server MUST NOT return a message-body in the response. The metainformation contained in the HTTP headers in response to a HEAD request SHOULD be identical to the information sent in response to a GET request. This method can be used for obtaining metainformation about the entity implied by the request without transferring the entity-body itself. This method is often used for testing hypertext links for validity, accessibility, and recent modification.

Do the logs suggest they use this method in their hits?

Tooling around with Wget I noticed that timestamping doesn’t work in Oddmuse. Perhaps bots do more sophisticated things with Etag, but seems like it would be a smart thing to send the Last-modification header for Oddmuse:Caching purposes.

AaronHawley 2009-10-15 16:46 UTC


Good regarding HEAD. I think I added support for HEAD to Oddmuse. I think.

And of course the Oddmuse calendar also goes to infinity. But I hope I’m using robot meta tags and nofollow attributes to prevent well-behaved bots from following the links. Maybe I should check, just to make sure this works as intended.

As far as I understand it the Etag is actually superior to the last modified logic. But perhaps misbehaved bots implement but half the RFC. Also something to check!

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-15 19:52 UTC


As for HEAD requests, I have sad news. Here’s some perspective:

aschroeder@thinkmo:~/logs$ grep "HEAD .*bot" access.log | wc -l
9
aschroeder@thinkmo:~/logs$ grep "GET .*bot" access.log | wc -l
33913

I don’t think I need to look at the numbers.

Hm, there’s also the crawl-delay directive… Interesting.

Here is the result for about 19 hours of service – 2009-10-15 06:27 to 2009-10-16 01:43.

    ----------------------------Bandwidth-------Hits-------Actions
                     Everybody      1365M      94959
                      All Bots       370M      34894   100%     1%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
                search.msn.com    241198K      22674    64%     1%
                www.google.com     89422K       7710    22%     1%
                  www.cuil.com     31306K       2609     7%     0%
          www.majestic12.co.uk      5060K        903     2%     0%
                help.naver.com      1480K        348     0%     1%
                www.exabot.com      2966K        135     0%     2%

Thus: 37% of all hits are bots, 27% of all bandwidth is bots. Yikes!

Strangely enough the numbers seem to indicate that bots prefer shorter pages – there might still be an opportunity to save some bandwidth, somewhere.

I think this gives me enough reason to explore bot behaviour some more.

The low percentage of actions is good news. All the stuff I’m afraid of – infinite recent changes, infinite calendars, eternal digging in the page history, all this stuff requires an action. A high percentage of actions is an indication of bots that ignore nofollow attributes and robot meta information.

The numbers also seem to say that Microsoft is hitting the site once every 3 seconds where as Google only hits us once every nine seconds. Perhaps a crawl delay of 10 would be appropriate?

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-15 23:54 UTC


I bet those HEAD requests were my own from today using Wget with a user-agent set to impersonate a bot.

I can’t believe that bots don’t use the HEAD method. What a sad state of affairs. Perhaps, if they notice that the HEAD response is unhelpful from a Web server they drop into a different mode that doesn’t bother with HEAD reqeusts. But I couldn’t find any documentation about Web crawlers using the HEAD. More likely I’ve completely mislead you. Search engines more likely send GET requests but rely on the If-Modified-Since header.

I’m not able to check Oddmuse’s behavior on this front with Wget. It doesn’t use the If-Modified-Since or Etag headers in its requests. The Wget manual says itself, “Arguably, HTTP time-stamping should be implemented using the `If-Modified-Since’ request.”

As I wrote in the Comments on 2009-06-12 Referrers I think the costs of crawling needs to benefit ones visitor traffic. I could understand a decade ago, when there were many search engines, that a lot of Web server load would be from them. Now it is 2009, and there really are only a couple of search engines. Having a third of your traffic be from them is absurd. Potentially, this Crawl-delay rule in your Robots.txt file could lower two-thirds (2/3) of your server load from bots since the setting effects MSN (and not Google). I suggest you try it for that reason and as an excuse just to see if it really works. :)

I think this gives me enough reason to explore bot behaviour some more.

Obviously, studying your access logs reveals how these bots work. However, I found the best way to check a dynamic site’s behavior by a bot is to operate your own bot for your site. In the old days, everyone maintained a search engine for their site. This is no longer the case with content management systems having searchable database backends but mostly people just relying on Google. People can use Google Custom search, Google Webmaster tools or ignore the problems all together and pray Google tunes things for them.

I worked with Mnogo and Htdig long ago and used them to crawl a site but never published the search interface. Their crawlers actually follow standards close enough that they may not gleam anything useful if Oddmuse does everything it should correctly. I bet the exercise would provide a few insights to improve Oddmuse, though.

AaronHawley 2009-10-16 05:49 UTC


In the mean time here’s howto use etags using curl. Maybe wget offers the same functionality but curl is what I have installed by default. Oddmuse:Download Using Curl And Caching.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-16 08:17 UTC


I just checked. I have Crawl-delay: 20 in my robots.txt!

Apparently search.msn.com is misbehabed!

Big surprise…

    ----------------------------Bandwidth-------Hits-------Actions
                     Everybody      1093M      72604
                      All Bots       296M      28262   100%     1%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
                search.msn.com    195956K      19092    67%     1%

Today I looked at the bot-analyze output again and noticed an increase in actions:

                help.naver.com      1791K        505     1%     9%
              www.shopwiki.com      2267K        172     0%    69%
              www.wasalive.com      5475K         43     0%    18%
                         robot       177K         30     0%   100%
               www.plazoo.com)       948K         23     0%    82%
               www.kalooga.com         0K         16     0%     6%

I decided to investigate. robot is in fact YandexBlog which only fetches RSS feeds. Ok, a feed reader. shopwiki and naver were fetching a lot of pointless GET /emacs-de?action= stuff. I noticed that I was missing appropriate Disallow rules in my robots.txt and added the various languages. Let’s see whether this continues.

The remaining numbers are really small…

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-17 20:36 UTC

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2009-10-16 Switzerland Deals In Death

GSoA Initiative I’m reading the front page of this week’s WOZ and find some numbers:

  • In 2008 Switzerland earned CHF 772M via arms exports. Apparently the second highest pro-capita number, sadly.
  • Switzerland has an act prohibiting the arms export (SR 514.511 Art. 5) if “the country of destination is involved in an internal or international armed conflict” (Abs. 2a) or “violates human rights in a systematic and serious manner” (Abs. 2b).
  • Nevertheless, Switzerland earned CHF 19M by exporting arms to the United States, currently involved in an armed conflict in Afghanistan.
  • Nevertheless, Switzerland earned CHF 62M by exporting arms to Germany, currently involved in an armed conflict in Afghanistan.
  • Nevertheless, Switzerland earned CHF 34M by exporting arms to Saudia Arabia, not a model nation when it comes to human rights.

Related:

  • 2005-08-04 Switzerland, where I ranted about death-dealing Switzerland. I still remember Switzerland declaring peace in Iraq way ahead of the USA, in an embarassing attempt to justify the arms export to the United States.

Money corrupts.

Banish arms exports. November 29, 2009.

(Deutscher Artikel bei der WOZ: Tödliche Kontinuität.)

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2009-10-17 Take Back

Viri Cordova asks over on Bard of Valiant: Can You Say Yes Too Often? I started to comment but then decided to blog.

Whenever I think something bad is going to happen to players, I’ll let them now if their characters would know. A sixth sense of impending doom, if you will.

Example: Player shouts: “I intimidate him!!” and rolls some dice.

I reply: “Uh, wait! Wait a second! Let me understand this correctly: here is Cthulhu, the flesh mountain of cold wet tentacle horrors from beyond the pale, and you’re going to… Intimidate it? Like, talk down to it? Shout at it? To be honest I think Cthulhu would just crush you with his pinky tentacle. Are you sure you want to try that?”

And of course the player will argue right there: “Don’t be silly! Clearly Cthulhu here is some sort of mindflayer prophet, and I just invoked the powers of Orcus to infuse this temple with the unholy aura of undeath, and we’re standing on the leyline nexus of Perennia – surely octoface isn’t feeling too comfortable anyway, right? I’m just reminding him of some inevitable facts, after all!”

And suddenly all our expectations are on the table. Right there.

Nothing has happened. A take back is still possible. Let’s reconsider.

I must confess that I don’t always succeed. Recently, for example, the party is crawling through some tunnels and meats some cute little lizards. An electric arc pops up between the two and a tiny 2d8 lightning bolt strikes the rogue, Reflex DC 12 to avoid, and the rogue evades all damage. I thought to myself: fair warning. Happy, the party continues down the corridor and meets a dozen or more lizards. The party moves forward. Eight of the lizards band together and a 12d8 lightning bolt strikes the rogue, Reflex DC 26, and he fails. He dies.

Uuuh… what?

I was torn on this one. Was meeting two lizards fair warning? Is the much stronger and harder to evade lightning bolt an unfair surprise?

Should I retcon the situation? Shoud I suggest a take back?

In the end I decided that it was ok. It’s the kind of game I want, but next time I will try to maybe provide a second, more urgent warning.

And after all, this is D&D. We have Raise Dead.

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Comments on 2009-10-17 Take Back

I think it’s a kind of drastic ramp-up from easily dodged, harmless bolt to death-bolt. Perhaps some skeletons lying around or other indications of deadliness would be appropriate. But I agree with you in principle.

Swordgleam 2009-10-17 22:25 UTC


Yeah. A second warning would have been appropriate. :-/

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-17 22:49 UTC


Ah, raise dead - beautiful spell :) In my case, the player getting himself killed didn’t get along with the player who was the “cleric” type and the god he was trying to kill ruled Death :P

For your case, I’d have done more warning, with more lizards to show that more lizards are more dangerous as they get into larger groups.

Viriatha 2009-10-17 22:56 UTC


Shocker lizards are something of a special case. How many CR 2 monsters, when they band together in numbers, can generate an attack with that kind of damage and (especially) Reflex save? The answer is not many. Basically, this is a case of catching the party unawares because shocker lizards don’t conform to our normal expectations for D&D monsters. I think it is good to surprise the party sometimes, provided the penalty isn’t too high. Shocker lizards definitely have a “gotcha!” ability.

– Adrian 2009-10-18 22:19 UTC

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2009-10-19 Spirit of the Century in China

Heute Abend haben wir für die One Shot Runde das sogenannte pick up game Spirit of the Century ausprobiert.

Charaktere:

Erste Szene: Eröffnung auf einem Casinoschiff, Magnat Tyrell, Girlanden, Licht, plötzliches Ballern, sieben Typen mit Tommy Guns ballern in die Luft, drei hechten zum Haupttisch, ein Spieler wirft sich über den Tisch und reisst eine schöne Dame zu Boden, ein Spieler versteckt sich hinter dem Vorhang, einer ist verdutzt, einer will zuschlagen. Die Typen haben einen stress track von 1 und schlagen selber mit +1 zu. Fast alle Manöver waren heute Abend mit Schwierigkeit 0 ausser gegen Ende, wo ich wenige Male Schwierigkeit 1 und 2 verlangte. Entsprechend geling den Spielern auch fast alles. Kronleuchter knallen auf die Bösewichter mit den Gewehren. Die drei Häscher gehen zu Boden. Der junge Mann hat dem Spielercharakter hinter dem Vorhang einen Brief gegeben. Stille. Ein Bösewicht mit Brille betritt den Saal…

http://campaignwiki.org/pics/MontagInZ%C3%BCrich/Liu_Ping.jpg

Der junge Mann ergibt sich und wird weg geführt.

Zweite Szene: Die Spielercharaktere schleichen dem Brillenträger nach, schnappen sich ein Auto, und nehmen die Verfolgung auf. Chase Regeln wurden verwendet, Wagen mit Stress Track 5, dann Klopperei auf einer Brücke, am Ende stürzt Liu Ping, der Brillenträger, ins Wasser. Mit +2 und zwei Fate Punkten ist er nicht weit gekommen…

Dritte Szene: Der befreite junge Mann führt die Spielercharaktere zum Empfänger des Briefes, denn darin ist die Rede von einem Admiral Mentzer, der für das deutsche Reich eine neue Kolonie unweit von Hong Kong gründen will. Das gefällt den chinesischen Spielercharakteren gar nicht. Der deutsche Spielercharakter versteht zum Glück so wenig. Der australische Spielercharakter folgt im Moment der chinesischen Prinzessin… In Kowloon gibt es ein verbotenes Casino, wo eine wunderschöne Dame die Spielhalle überwacht…

http://campaignwiki.org/pics/MontagInZ%C3%BCrich/Xia_Chung.jpg

Sie will die Prinzessin nicht zu Fi Lau Song, dem Boss und Adressaten des Briefes vorlassen. Ein verballes Duell entbrennt, das mir zu lange gedauert hat. Das nächste Mal würde ich hier mit einem einfachen opposed check herausfinden ob Drohen reicht, und mit einem zweiten opposed check herausfinden, ob man sich schnell genug durchdrängeln kann oder sich wirklich kloppen muss. Etwas mehr Burning Wheel versus test und let it ride um die Action voran zu treiben.

Schlussendlich gelangt Prinzessin Mei zum Boss und der erklärt ihr, dass man den Landeplatz der Deutschen beobachten soll. Ideal wäre es, etwas herauszufinden, was man den anderen Kolonialmächten zuspielen könnte, so dass diese dann anstelle der Chinesen dafür sorgen könnten, dass die Deutschen wieder verschwinden müssen. Wahrlich, ein weiterer internationaler Hafen würde die Opiumströme noch weiter ausdünnen!

Vierte Szene: Die Gruppe reitet und fliegt ins Dorf Fünf Bambus, nähert sich dem Lager, überwältigt ein paar Wachen, marschiert in deutscher Uniform zur Barracke, wo Dr. Steiner sich befindet (weil der deutsche Spielercharakter immer nach einem Dr. Steiner gefragt hat, wurde der noch fix eingebaut…), und im letzten Moment sieht man hinter einer anderen Baracke…

http://campaignwiki.org/pics/MontagInZ%C3%BCrich/Reichsl%c3%a4ufer_1.jpg

Viele Lacher am Tisch – die Idee war ein Erfolg! :)

Der deutsche Spielercharakter übergibt einen Brief an Steiner, wir haben etwa drei Stunden gespielt, so packt Steiner seinen Rucksach, “also los!” Verwirrung am Tische – Steiner will fliehen!? Na dann los… Zwei Spieler sprengen den Reichsläufer 1, die anderen fliehen mit Steiner, die Explosion ist wahnsinnig, im Epilog erfahren die Spieler, dass der Kanzler Bismarck jegliche Kenntnis von Admiral Mentzers Plänen abstreitet, dieser degradiert wurde und die Engländer die Deutschen zum Abzug zwingen.

Fazit: Stunts haben wir den ganzen Abend nicht verwendet. Mit Märchen Fudge und zehn Qualitäten – vier mal +1, drei mal +2, zwei mal +3 und ein mal +4 – wäre genau die richtige Mischung von Aspekten und Talenten entstanden.

Unklar war mir, wann denn die Aspekte der Umgebung zum Tragen kommen. Wer nochmal würfeln wollte, hat doch immer einen eigenen Aspekt, den man verwenden kann. Die Spieler waren oft selber eifrig, sich via Aspekte unterhaltsame Nachteilen zu verschaffen. Kriegen sie trotzdem einen Fate Punkt? Haben Boss Gegner auch Fate Punkte? Ich habe Liu Ping und Xia Chung je zwei gegeben. Wie funktionieren Kämpfe mit mehreren Spielercharakteren gleichzeitig gegen einen Gegner? Ich habe es zuerst so gemacht, dass alle ein mal würfeln, und alle Differenzen zählen. Dann habe ich es so gemacht, dass alle ein mal würfeln und der höchste Wurfe pro Seite zählt und der Stress gilt für den Verlierer mit dem besten Resultat.

Die von mir vorgefertigten Charaktere waren alle halb-fertig. Das war nie ein Problem, der Hinweis für den Ausbau der Charaktere wärend dem laufenden Spiel hat problemlos funktioniert. Die etwas ausführlichere Hintergrundgeschichte wurde gerne gelesen, war im Spiel aber nicht allzu relevant. Für neue Charaktere würde ich versuchen, mich wirklich auf zwei bis drei Sätze pro Abschnitt zu beschränken.

Kurzum, es war das erste Mal für alle am Tisch und trotzdem sehr unterhaltsam. Die Regeln müssen wir nochmal durchschauen. Ich hatte mehrmals Mühe, bei Fragen die Antwort im Regelbuch zu finden. Irgendwie habe ich immer noch das Gefühl, die Spirit of the Century Regeln sind etwas zu kompliziert für den (von mir) gewünschten Spielstil. Vielleicht kommt das ja noch.

Die Charaktere vorzubereiten war zeitraubend. Den Abend vorzubereiten war extrem einfach…

Notizen für den Spielabend

Wie man sieht sind die Haifische und Planken am Spielabend nicht mehr aufgetaucht. ;)

Wenn nur die Regeln deutlich dünner wären, könnte ich das Spiel als pick up game durchgehen lassen.

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Comments on 2009-10-19 Spirit of the Century in China

Das ging mir damals ähnlich. Nachdem ich zig Spielberichte gelesen hatte, dachte ich, das wäre ein Selbstläufer. Aber erst kam ich mit den Aspekten / Stunts nicht klar und dann war meine Opposition auch noch sehr sehr schwach.

Ich schmökere immer noch gerne im Regelwerk herum, aber eine zündene Idee wie ich es anlegen könnte, dass es sich “richtig” anfühlt, habe ich noch nicht gefunden.

yo

– yothales 2009-10-20 07:38 UTC


Man darf nur einen Aspekt des Charakters nutzen, aber zusätzlich alle kostenlose Aspekte, einen einzelen Aspekt des Gegners und einen einzelnen der Situation.

Damit kann man also evtl. seinen Wurf mit drei oder vier Aspekten (+5 oder +8) erhöhen. Wenn bei dir aber nur gegen 0 oder +1 gewürfelt wird, dann ist das natürlich nicht nötig.

Karsten 2009-10-20 07:43 UTC


Faustregel: NSCs haben einen Fate Punkt pro Aspekt, wenn Du sie also nach und nach ausschmückst oder declared/assessed bekommst, kommen immer welche dazu.

Nicht zu vergessen, dass man weitere Aspekte mit Declarations und Assessments aktivieren kann. Außerdem kann man die eben auch gegen die Charaktere compellen: Der Reichsläufer ist “riesig”, “gepanzert” und “aus Kruppstahl”? -6 auf den Wurf! Ja, dafür muß der SL 3 Fate Points zahlen, aber die hat der Admiral hoffentlich … oder Du stibitzt aus Diaspora, wo Raumschiffe ihre eigenen Fate Points haben. Und die Spieler müssen für ihre Aspekte in der Regel ja auch bezahlen. Kostenlose Aspekte sind ja üblicherweise auch nur einmal kostenlos.

Das Spiel funktioniert ganz gut, wenn die Fate Points schnell und häufig hin und her wandern. Das riecht ein bißchen nach “story wanking” – ist ja auch welches.

Harald 2009-10-20 11:11 UTC

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2009-10-20 The Next RPG Bloggers Network

The RPG Bloggers Network admins are stepping down. They are looking for people to take over.

Here’s how I used the network.

  • Every now and then I’d read the front page, and see what people are talking about.
  • I did not use categories. I was mostly interested in D&D Old School blogs, but most of those I have already subscribed to.
  • I did not subscribe to the site feed. Instead, I subscribed to the blogs I liked directly.

I use Google Reader to read my favorite blogs. There are websites and applications that offer the same service. This not something the RPG Bloggers Network does.

My solution does exactly that: RPG Planet doesn’t do categories, nor does it do fancy RSS feeds. But it publishes the blog homepages, the blog feeds, and an OPML file that you can import into your own feed reader.

Here’s how I would solve the problem:

  • I’d set up another Planet Venus site. It’s simple to do. Apparently the current Wordpress setup eats a lots of CPU cycles. (citation needed, haha) Planet Venus has worked just fine for the longest time, now.
  • I have a setup wherein the list of blogs aggregated is controlled by a simple wiki page. That will make sure that all decisions are made out in the open. And if people don’t agree, let them argue their point on the wiki.

I think the setup where the list of subscriptions is controlled by a wiki is great.

If the wiki itself is not important, then I suggest we just follow @robertsongames example and use blogspot. His RPG Bloggers built using Blogspot is sweet and looks good on an iPhone, too! It’s simple, it’s free.

I’m a big do-ocracy fan. :)

Reading about 100 messages discussing membership fees, hosting arrangements, bylaws, voting schemes – that just gives me a headache.

A big benefit of a democracy is that – while cumbersome – it allows you to rule a country where people can’t just simply opt-out. If opting out is trivial, we don’t need democracy, simpler tools will work. A Swiss association is a form of self-government used by the FIFA and the ICRC. But even that is way too much overhead for an aggregator of blogs!

There are many blog aggregators out there. It’s easy to do. It’s easy to host. It’s not worth a penny in membership fees. It’s not worth hours of discussion. A solution on the level of Stuart Robertson’s Blogspot site is super easy. All the talk on the mailing list right now is talk about an idea that is super easy to implement.

Adding a wiki to control a planet might be interesting for those of us that wish for a more active participation.

I’ve sent a proposal with the above when I heard of the Revised Plan of Action!

Hi
I run several wiki based sites. The biggest one is http://emacswiki.org/, others include my own blog, http://campaignwiki.org/, http://communitywiki.org/, blogs for my dad, my wife, etc. I have experience founding and maintaining a wiki.
I’m using wiki software that I’ve been maintaining for years, now. I know how to code.
I’ve set up an RPG Planet at http://campaignwiki.org/planet/ as a proof of concept and it has been happily running for quite some time now. My installation fetches 56 blog feeds at the moment. I don’t think that I’ll have a problem scaling to 240 blog feeds, because I’m using Planet Venus – http://intertwingly.net/code/venus/ – it only fetches feeds that have actually changed, and it produces static files. The result is a robust website without dependencies on databases.
It is trivial to reduce the excerpts, strip images, produce a nice and shiny CSS file, etc.
I have shared hosting paid for in two non-profit cooperatives in the USA, and I pay €20 a month for hosting in Germany. Should traffic be a problem for the non-profits in the USA, I can always move the planet to Germany and benefit from excellent resources.
I don’t plan to work on the software to support features I personally don’t use. Therefore there will be no categories, and no banners.
Since I’m not planning to invest in coding, I’m using software that is already up and running, and I already have hosting, I don’t need to make money from RPG Bloggers Network. I don’t require membership feeds nor do I require donations.
The setup will allow other people to fork the project whenever they feel like it. The site makes all feeds public, exports an OPML file, and the wiki itself is also easy to migrate should it turn out to contain valuable information beyond blog names and feed URLs. My proposal uses free software and provides open data. It gives users a maximum of rights.
Thank you for your efforts, and thank you for your consideration,
Alex Schroeder

Gaaah! Now that I read through it again, I see some glaring mistakes I’ve made…

  1. I didn’t spell out that a wiki is used to control the feeds aggregated
  2. I didn’t spell out how using a wiki automatically provides for an open process
  3. Another thing my solution will not provide is a shuffling of feeds in the sidebar
  4. I didn’t link to the wiki software at http://oddmuse.org/

Oh well… :)

Update: Also read ChattyDM’s side of the story. I think he’s right – I also don’t like taking crap, specially for a service I’m providing for free. I guess in the wiki world we have identified a lot of patterns that will hopefully help us all deal with this kind of stuff. Who is a DifficultPerson, the problems of RadicalInclusiveness, how providing the RightToFork allows us to practice ModerateInclusiveness, the importance of a CommonCause, trying to apply SoftSecurity, etc.

Update: I finished the proof of concept RPG Bloggers’ Planet. See the wiki for more information regarding configration and debug output.

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Comments on 2009-10-20 The Next RPG Bloggers Network

Nice proposals; I’d be interested in knowing how it works out.

LionKimbro 2009-10-20 21:32 UTC


I don’t think I like Berin Kinman’s counter-proposal: “buying up the network and running it as a business.” I also don’t agree with most of his other points. But see for yourself.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-20 21:32 UTC


You know, this seems to work so well, I’m going to setup the Venus software for myself. It’s not because I want to take anything away from you, just that this wiki software looks like the best way for me to follow the many websites I read.

Thanks for posting about the software.

FWIW, I hope your proposal is chosen.

sycarion 2009-10-20 23:13 UTC


Great idea, Alex. Do you think you could set up this Venus software even in the case someone else acquires the RPGBN from the current owners? It could be a nice addition or alternative to the RPGBN in any case.

Michael Wolf aka Stargazer 2009-10-21 04:50 UTC


Of course I could. Give me ssh access and I’ll set it up on your box. :)

The box needs Python 2.4, xsltproc or python-libxslt, and librdf.

I have a list of all the websites on the RPGBN but I need a list of all the feeds. Then I could set it up right now as an even better proof of concept.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-21 09:49 UTC


I am pretty sure some of the former RPGBN board members can provide you with a list of all the feeds.

Michael Wolf 2009-10-21 10:42 UTC


I actually ran it through a Perl script of mine that fetched the page, extracted title and first feed, then I went through the list and did what clean-up I felt was reasonable and ended up with a decent list of over 200 feeds. I’m running Planet Venus on them right now. I’m surprised that the first run takes an enormous amount of time (27 minutes and still running). I’ll report back! I sure hope that reruns are a lot faster. :/

Good thing I decided to do some actual testing.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-21 13:01 UTC


Ok, the run took 33 minutes for 223 feeds. A second run still took about half an hour. I had changed all the blogspot feed URLs, so that might explain it. :(

The result is already visible as RPG Blogger’s Planet.

I’m fiddling with the excerpts setting at the moment.

The third run worked like a charm! This is the time output:

real    6m37.250s
user    1m54.900s
sys     0m13.760s

Less than seven minutes. I like it.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-21 13:40 UTC


Alex,

While I generally view the RPGBN as you do, the categories, or at least tags, are useful to me… when there are that many blogs, having some way to filter out the ones I know I’m not interested in makes it easier to find blogs I’m interested in.

I never pull a feed from something as large as RPGBN or The RPG Bloggers Planet (I’m very selective about what shows up in my reader), so its primary use to me is as a directory… a listing of who’s blogging. And a directory is most useful when it is categorized and has descriptions.

That’s the funny thing about the RPGBN and planets in general from my POV… I don’t see a point in aggregating the feeds. Maybe a categorized directory is an adjunct project, but one should pull data from the other to avoid duplication.

I know you’re not interested in adding features, but I’m wondering how I could add such features within this framework.

Carl Cravens 2009-10-21 14:27 UTC


Well, if by “this framework” you mean you’d like to install your own Planet Venus, I guess the thing to do would be to write some sort of filter (like the excerpt filter I’m using) that filtered feed items by category element. Alternatively, you could probably take the index.xslt template and modify it. Actually, now that I think of it, I guess you could send me any oldschool.xslt or whitewolf.xslt file you develop. It should be trivial to add. The only problem with this approach is that I’d have to add a new file for every category or filter people propose. Alternatively, it might be possible to do with Yahoo Pipes. Take the http://campaignwiki.org/blogs/atom.xml feed as input, and filter by /item/category/attribute::term – but I was unable to figure it out in half an hour (and have never used Yahoo Pipes before), so you’re basically on your own.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-21 15:52 UTC


The RPG Blogger’s Planet seems to work fine so far. But is it possible to access older posts, too? Currently only today’s and some of yesterday’s posts are shown. For example the post I wrote yesterday is missing. The other issue is that there’s obviously a problem with umlauts. And is it possible to add more features to the site like a search function or customized links to a forum, Google Group etc.?

Michael Wolf 2009-10-22 09:05 UTC


Currently there’s just a template for one page. The default is to keep 60 items on that page. It would be trivial to change that to a higher number. I’m going to try 100 items.

Do you have an example for the problem with umlauts? I didn’t see any.

It’s easy to add more static HTML to the template. I’ll add a link to the forum and to the Google group.

Since the result of this process are static webpages, there’s no point in providing a search function. Old items are not stored anywhere. They just go away, like tears in rain. ;)

Ok, added links, increased number of items, and switched to a light blue theme.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-22 11:14 UTC


Hmm, perhaps the umlaut error is browser related. The ä in Westeuropäische Sommerzeit is broken in Chrome for example. And 100 items is still not that much. Too bad, that old items are not stored somewhere.

Michael Wolf 2009-10-22 14:23 UTC


Considering the network’s language is English, you should probably change “Westeuropäische Sommerzeit” to “West European Summer/Daylight Time”.

Michael Wolf 2009-10-22 14:26 UTC


I still don’t understand. Where do you see this? If I search for “westeu” on the page I get no matches found!

Your posting “Necessary Evil” is signed “by Stargazer at Thu Oct 22 14:11:00 2009”. In the info box it says “Last updated: Thu Oct 22 14:22:00 2009”. Is this where you’re seing the German timezone?

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-22 15:23 UTC


Aaaah! Now I see that there is a piece of Javascript that gets installed as well! I didn’t know about that one. It does in fact translate the GMT times into local times. Looking at the code I still don’t understand where the “Westeuropäische Sommerzeit” comes from:

132 var date = new Date();
133 date.setTime(Date.parse(element.innerHTML + " GMT"));
134
135 var local = date.toLocaleString();

The regular expression then doesn’t match, and so the local string will be used. That string is “Thu Oct 22 13:23:00 2009” and the like on my system. On your system it obviously includes the wonders of “Westeuropäische Sommerzeit”. :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-22 15:27 UTC


With that out of the way, let’s talk about multiple pages. Why would you need that? Are you seriously going to return from your summer holidays and read 300 blog excerpts or more? I have a hard time imagining it.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-22 16:04 UTC


Categories work!

Proof of concept using the tag “mutant future” for my old-school planet:

Happy happy! :)

In short, what my proposal does not do is

  1. gravatars
  2. banners
  3. random shuffling of the feed list
  4. archiving of old entries

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-23 15:12 UTC


My idea did not win. :( [1]

AlexSchroeder 2009-11-01 20:29 UTC

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2009-10-21 Some Extension Locking Up My Firefox

Ok, what is it? I think this morning I got Echofone, Delicious Bookmarks, and Read it Later. After three or four crashes I disabled all extensions, and I haven’t had any further crashes. What gives?

I like the functionality of Delicious Bookmarks. I really do. But I remember that this piece of software has given me grief before. Is that it? Again?

I’m going for a binary search and activating half my plugins:

  • Adblock plus
  • Google Gears (for Google Wave)
  • Live HTTP Headers
  • Omnibary
  • Read it Later
  • Show Anchors
  • Universal Edit Button Auto-Discovery

Wish me luck. :)

Update: Activated all other plugins except for Delicious Bookmarks and Echofon.

  • Firebug
  • Fission
  • Web Developer
  • YSlow

Update: Aaah! A new version of the Delicious Bookmarks plugin? I guess they found that bug, eh? Trying…

Tags: RSS RSS RSS

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2009-10-22 Gleichberechtigung

Gleichberechtigung is German. I guess it could be translated as “equal rights” or “the granting of equal rights”. The thing is that Recht is the law, a right you might have, but Berechtigung is authority, entitlement, power. Gleichberechtigung! It’s a command! It’s imperative.

Many moons ago, I posted on the Paizo message boards:

The other day my best friend’s kids were looking at Gallery of Evil and the eight year old girl remarked twice on how the sorceress was half naked. So I had to try and explain that people do this because they think it will sell more… That was a bit weird. Specially since she made her first comment after about ten seconds of looking at the product. [1]

After ten seconds of looking at a book, an eight year old girl can tell that most of the women have unnaturally enlarged breasts and lack half their clothes. That’s how sad it is.

I just saw that Judd Karlman linked to An Open Letter to the Gaming Industry because of a thread on rpg.net. I agree that there’s not much else to be said.

The problem starts at the gaming table, I think. A lot of the racist, homophobic, and sexist language I heard in recent months was related to my gaming. I’m usually too stunned to say much. Often I manage a groan, a “please!!” or some eye-rolling – instead of just telling people to shut up.

It’s hard to do because I feel like I’m ruining the atmosphere by calling people out. And to my shame I must confess that I’ve used the same language at one time or another, somehow thinking that I was playing along. Probably a sad tendency to adapt to the people I’m talking to, using the same phrases, laughing about the same jokes, using the same language, even when it’s not something I want to adapt to.

It starts at the gaming table and spreads to our games. It has to stop.

That reminds me of a blog post by the Godless Paladin on sexism in games. He’s quite a ranter. :)

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Comments on 2009-10-22 Gleichberechtigung

Yes. Yes. A thousand times. Yes. As a homosexual, I tend to avoid online gaming altogether. Every time I’ve gotten online to play a video game, I have to mute all voices to cease the barrage of homophobic language. And that’s them NOT knowing.

It’s a terrible trend. My partner, who loves playing video games online, has even accepted it as “common speech.” My players all know of my preference and they are my friends and are considerate. So my game table is quite safe.

But to this day I can’t play online games without muting everyone. I’m probably missing out on a lot of fun conversation.

– Michael 2009-10-22 05:34 UTC


Ugh. That’s sad. :(

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-22 23:46 UTC


Danke für die Verbindung. :-) (I think that’s the correct word :-/)

Godless Paladin 2009-10-27 15:53 UTC


Hehe. Auf Deutsch wird das englische Wort “Link” verwendet. :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-27 18:48 UTC

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2009-10-25 Missverständnisse

Dieses Wochende war mal so richtig zum Kotzen was Email anbelangt. Da hat jemand via Twitter kundgetan, dass er etwas Bestimmtes machen will, selber hatte ich genau dies auch schon gelöst, ich biete per Mail Hilfe an, mir werden zwei Fragen gestellt, ich greife etwas auf und erkläre, dass dies vielleicht mit Blogspot und anderen Diensten dieser Art kein Problem sei, aber ich fände … und so weiter.

Weil ich aber “Blogspot and their ilk” geschrieben habe, kriege ich eine verdammt kurz angebundene Antwort, sehe einen Zornesausbruch auf Twitter, schicke eine kurze Mail, dass ich dies nicht so gemeint habe, kriege einen ausführlicheren Zusammenschiss, wo mir erzählt wird, meine Einstellung führe zu den typischen Idiotenkriegen auf dem Internet (Betriebssystem, D&D Edition), erkläre noch knapper, dass ich mir dessen nicht bewusst gewesen sei und ich mich in den Vorwürfen nicht widererkenne, kriege noch eine verdammte Mail, in der mir erzählt wird, dass ich dies halt geschrieben habe, und dass ich halt denke, was ich denke und er sich halt nicht so aufregen sollte. Worauf ich dann zurückschreibe: was soll ich sagen, Englisch sei halt meine vierte Sprache.

All dies jetzt mal aus dem Bauch heraus, denn genau nachlesen und übersetzen mag ich im Moment leider genau nicht.

Aber eins ist im Moment klar: diese verdammten Internetnasen können mir mal ein Weile am Arsch hängen. So was ist mir seit Jahren nicht mehr passiert.

So. Das musste ich jetzt mal schreiben, damit ich mich etwas beruhige. Von Montag bis Donnerstag bin ich im Ausland und wahrscheinlich auch offline. Schönen Tag noch.

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Comments on 2009-10-25 Missverständnisse

Da hat er deine vermeintliche Einstellung ja ziemlich schnell eingeordnet. Wäre schön, wenn er irgendwann doch noch realisiert, dass er nur aufgrund seiner eigenen Borniertheit wütend geworden ist.

Danke für die Lehrstunde zum scheinbar negativ konnotierten ‘ilk’! (nun brauch ich nicht mehr in diese Falle tapsen :))

– Robin 2009-10-27 09:41 UTC


Selten, dass ich dich so verärgert sehe!!!

– der Vater 2009-10-29 22:58 UTC


Ja, das ist wahr. Ab und zu bricht das Testosteron eben doch aus. Vor allem in Situationen die mein Rechtsempfinden verletzen.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-29 23:59 UTC

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2009-10-26 Notes

I agree with Dan when he says ‘The idea that you can take Gary’s home game notes and use them to play “the way the game is supposed to be played” if only they would publish them is not only untrue but tragically misguided.’ [1]

I think what I’ll try to do is post more actual prep notes of my games. I did that about a week ago. I should do it more often.

I’m happy to find myself in the company of ordinary gamers. :)

[Gary] had a three-ring folder with his maps in it, and paper with room keys and other notes. It looked just like any other gamer’s way of doing things to me. I did catch a glimpse of some of the maps, which looked just like other gamer’s hand drawn maps. There is no deep method of play waiting there guys. It is the same stuff everyone already does. [2]

PS: I’m in a hotel where wireless access costs 9€/24h – shouldn’t wireless be free in this millenium? So I’m writing this at the one and only hotel computer in the lobby. Nerd!! I know…

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Comments on 2009-10-26 Notes

Ha! As though there is only one true way to play! They’ll be insisting on rules for everything next…

P.S. A polite note to the hotel management/chain owner about the WiFi may be in order. Outrageous!

satyre 2009-10-27 09:35 UTC


My recent experience with Burning Wheel made me realize how misguided my wish for more elaborate social conflict was. I wanted them as elaborate as the combat rules. What I did not understand was that we cannot fight at the table but we can certainly talk. No need for rules.

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-27 13:10 UTC

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2009-10-30 RPG Blog Categories

I’m trying to figure out what tags to map to the various RPG Bloggers’ Planet’s categories. I used a little Perl script to extract and count the categories people used for their blog posts. As you can see, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of common tags in the last 100 entries:

1	,
1	10th Doctor
1	3e
1	40k
1	AP
1	About e
1	Adventure Hook
1	Adventure-Prep
1	Arcana
1	Ask the GMs
1	At-The-Table
1	Beginners
1	Behind-The-Screen
1	Board
1	Board Games
1	Bureau 13
1	Call of Cthulhu
1	Campaign Creation
1	Campaign Management
1	Campaign Notes
1	Campaign-Admin
1	Campaign-Setting
1	Character creation
1	Class Discussions
1	Collateral
1	Critical hit
1	Cthulhu
1	D&D 4e
1	D&D Blog
1	D&D/Pathfinder
1	DM
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I’m a bit at a loss, here. I’m no longer convinced this is a good system of categorizing blog posts! I guess most people will use tags to differentiate particular posts from the rest of their own posts. That’s why I never use tags such as “D&D” or “3e” – because that’s the default I’m assuming, I guess. But that’s no longer true when looking at my blog posts in comparison with everbody else. Many of them ought to be tagged “D&D” and “3e”.

Clearly, I underestimated the problem of translating tags into categories!

Proposed Category Tags
4e 4e, D&D 4e
3e 3e, D&D/Pathfinder
Old School old school, becmi (even though the tag used was “bemci”), swords and wizardry, Swords and Wizardry general (?), Mutant Future, TnT, Thundarr, tunnels and trolls, ODnD
Advice any tag containing “Advice”, Ask the GMs, advice, Game Mastering, Gamemastering, Campaign Management
Review any tag containing “Review”,

Yikes!

Any other ideas out there?

Tags: RSS RSS RSS

Comments on 2009-10-30 RPG Blog Categories

I think trying to convert tags into categories is a mistake. There are too many varied blogs out there, and everyone has tags they like to use. A tag cloud approach, with sized tags based on frequency might work, but rarely used tags probably vanish, and you end up with hundreds of tags. RPG.net’s tag cloud is a good example of tags run amok. http://forum.rpg.net/tags.php

mthomas768 2009-10-31 00:18 UTC


I’ve always used tags as a way to call out keywords that summarize the article. Categories represent broad themes that my posts would fall under.

Kameron 2009-10-31 00:19 UTC


Hehe, I think you’re exactly right, Mark. Looking at the weird mix of tags, each one appearing just once – this is no fun. Specially since the most popular tag is also the most useless one: 16 tags are RPG, RPGs, or rpg! It might work if there are either a thousand tagged objects like there are on Flickr, or if users can edit the tag map, declaring one tag to be an alias for another tag. I think NearbyGamers does this really well.

In the mean time I have to concur: Using tags to derive categories will not work unless we produce some sort of guide post or group pressure that guides authors in the right direction.

I remember being unwilling to tag my posts as Legacy D&D on the RPG Bloggers Network – I must therefore assume that other people will be just as unwilling to change their ways. :) And as Kameron illustrates, everybody uses tags in different ways. They are only powerful when they come in large numbers, or within a single site.

Nevertheless I know some people are interested in D&D 4E posts only, and others are interested in Old School posts only. I guess the solution is to pick different feeds for the various categories and have the people interested in a particular category pick the feeds they want to have. And then we just assume that authors will more or less stick to the category they’ve been filed under.

Sounds like a can of worms. ;)

AlexSchroeder 2009-10-31 12:43 UTC

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2009-10 Book Club

What: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

When: October 28, 19:30 @ location unknown

Alex: “A graphic novel about Iran, the Islamic Revolution, Emmigration, Immigration, Adaptation, cultural differences between East and West, being a woman, and other things. I also recommend the movie.”

Wikipedia: Persepolis.

Supporters: Alex, Valpuri, Chrissie, Robert, Adrian

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