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2011-07-05 New Phone, New SIM, New Number

I extended my mobile phone contract and got myself a new phone. It requires a micro SIM, which I also got. The micro SIM uses a different phone number. Whaaaat? I didn’t want to change my phone number. What stupidity is this?

Now I have to walk to a shop, wait in line, talk to some dude, and try to get this resolved. Orange, I don’t like this. 😟 sucks

Update: A call to the help line and they did some stuff to their configurations, told me to sync and reboot, and everything will be fine. Apparently the old phone (or just it’s SIM card) will wipe itself shortly. Now I understand how they can’t just do this carelessly. I just wish that they had written a letter to go along with the phone explaining how to proceed.

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2011-07-06 Google Buzz

Reading the occasional Google+ post out there I noticed that a lot of people don’t use Google Buzz and mock it. Strange. I use Google Buzz a lot because that’s where I see Google Reader recommendations by other people and discuss my own recommendations.

I guess I could also do this within Google Reader.

The only thing that really pisses me off is that I haven’t found a way to tell Google that they should use http://emacswiki.org/alex/feed/full/ as the feed for my site, stripping all the comments and non-diary pages.

I don’t want this:

Kommentare im Buzz

So I was giving this one more try, looking for instructions on how to link arbitrary feeds with my Buzz:

To make this claim using XFN markup, edit the external site and add a <link> element of type rel="me" and type="text/html" with a href value of http://www.google.com/profiles/{user}.

An example XFN link:

<link rel="me" type="text/html" href="http://www.google.com/profiles/your.username"/>

When the site is re-crawled the mutual claim will be verified and feeds associated with the site will be made available within Google Buzz for the verified user. […] To see your existing links, and to request that individual sites be recrawled for updates, see the SGAPI Recrawl Utility.

Connecting Sites to Google Buzz

Here’s what the SGAPI Recrawl Utility has to say:

Linked Sites in the SGAPI Recrawl Utility

What’s wrong?

My blog:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
<head>
[...]
<link type="text/html" rel="me" href="http://www.google.com/profiles/kensanata" />

My feed:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/css" href="http://www.emacswiki.org/css/beige-red-alex-switcher.css" ?>
<rss version="2.0"
    xmlns:wiki="http://purl.org/rss/1.0/modules/wiki/"
    xmlns:cc="http://backend.userland.com/creativeCommonsRssModule">
<channel>
[…]
<wiki:profile type="text/html" rel="me" href="http://www.google.com/profiles/kensanata" />

For the moment it seems that both these pages are invalid. I’ll work on that.

Update: I think the feed is fixed, now. The Feed Validator says so, at least. New version with an atom link and an unregistered me attribute:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/css" href="http://www.emacswiki.org/css/beige-red-alex-switcher.css" ?>
<rss version="2.0"
    xmlns:wiki="http://purl.org/rss/1.0/modules/wiki/"
    xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/"
    xmlns:cc="http://web.resource.org/cc/"
    xmlns:atom="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom">
<channel>
[…]
<link>http://www.emacswiki.org/alex</link>
<atom:link href="http://www.google.com/profiles/kensanata" rel="me" type="text/html" />

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2011-07-06 Regular Expression To Validate Id Attributes

I noticed that my blog no longer validated as XHTML 1.0 and I started investigating. On the Diary page, you can click on the comment links of the various blog posts (such as Comments on 2011-07-05 Google Plus) and you’ll get the comments inlined. This uses a tiny piece of javascript (and some CSS):

function togglecomments (id) {
   var elem = document.getElementById(id);
   if (elem.className=="commentshown") {
      elem.className="commenthidden";
   }
   else {
      elem.className="commentshown";
   }
}

Thus, the HTML source already includes the comments in an appropriate div:

<div class="commenthidden" id="Comments_on_2011-07-05_Google_Plus">
…
</div>

Links such as Comments on 2011-07-05 Google Plus will simply call the javascript function defined above and pass the id of the div to toggle:

<a href="javascript:togglecomments('Comments_on_2011-07-05_Google_Plus')">Comments on 2011-07-05 Google Plus</a>

That’s why the id attribute is important. The trivial solution is to simply use the blog post title (“2011-07-05 Google Plus”) but soon enough you’ll note that there are some interesting restrictions on the values of id attributes:

  • may start with a colon, a letter, or underscore
  • the rest of the name may contain the above and dashes, periods, and numbers
  • brackets, braces, and parenthesis are not allowed

Now—how exactly is this defined? See the definition of Name in the XML spec:

  • NameStartChar ::= ":" | [A-Z] | "_" | [a-z] | [#xC0-#xD6] | [#xD8-#xF6] | [#xF8-#x2FF] | [#x370-#x37D] | [#x37F-#x1FFF] | [#x200C-#x200D] | [#x2070-#x218F] | [#x2C00-#x2FEF] | [#x3001-#xD7FF] | [#xF900-#xFDCF] | [#xFDF0-#xFFFD] | [#x10000-#xEFFFF]
  • NameChar ::= NameStartChar | "-" | "." | [0-9] | #xB7 | [#x0300-#x036F] | [#x203F-#x2040]
  • Name ::= NameStartChar (NameChar)*

Now, those are Unicode code points. But sadly, Oddmuse tries to be encoding agnostic. (I will have to revisit this decision, soon!)

Here’s a simple beginning of a regular expression that would identify well-formed names: /^[:_A-Za-z][-.:_A-Za-z0-9]*/

Now to extend it using the information above:

   Unicode Codepoint   UTF-8 encoding
   [#xC0-#xD6]              c3 80 - c3 96
   [#xD8-#xF6]              c3 98 - c3 b6
   [#xF8-#x2FF]             c3 b8 - cb bf
   [#x370-#x37D]            cd b0 - cd bd
   [#x37F-#x1FFF]           cd bf - e1 bf bf
   [#x200C-#x200D]       e2 80 8c - e2 80 8d
   [#x2070-#x218F]       e2 81 b0 - e2 86 8f
   [#x2C00-#x2FEF]       e2 b0 80 - e2 bf af
   [#x3001-#xD7FF]       e3 80 81 - ed 9f bf
   [#xF900-#xFDCF]       ef a4 80 - ef b7 8f
   [#xFDF0-#xFFFD]       ef b7 b0 - ef bf bd
   [#x10000-#xEFFFF]  f0 90 80 80 - f3 af bf bf

I started writing the following regular expression:

$regexp = "|\xc3[\x80-\x96\x98-\xb6\xb8-\xff]|[\xc4-\xca].|\xcb[\x00-\xbf]"
        . "|\xcd[\xb0-\xbd\xbf-\xff]|[\xce-\xDF].|\xe0..|\xe1[\x00-\xbe]."
        . "|\xe1\xbf[\x00-\xbf]|\xe2\x80[\x8c\x8d]"
    if $HttpCharset eq 'UTF-8';
$id = ":$id" unless $id =~ /^[:_A-Za-z]$regexp/;
return join('', $id =~ m/([-.:_A-Za-z0-9]$regexp)/g);

Then I got tired and though, “if anybody reports an error, I’ll add the rest…”

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Comments on 2011-07-06 Regular Expression To Validate Id Attributes

You do know RegEx match open tags except XHTML self-contained tags?

– Harald 2011-07-12 12:00 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Habe ich schon mal gesehen, ja. Und kennst du Oh Yes You Can Use Regexes to Parse HTML!?

In meinem Fall geht es aber nicht um Parsen von HTML sondern um die Transformation von Wiki Seitentiteln zu id Werten, welche ich im generierten HTML dann verwenden kann.

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-12 12:15 UTC

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2011-07-12 Mac OS X Problmems

Somehow a software update managed to stop my Mac Mini from booting. It was stuck in the light gray background and dark grey apple logo screen. Rebooting didn’t help. I was worried.

You can hit ⌘V to boot in verbose mode. I saw something like this:

Bug: launchctl.c:3557 ...
Running rack on the boot volume...
Executing fsck_hfs ...
launchctl: Please convert the following to launchd: /etc/mach_init.d/dashboardadvisoryd.plist

I waited for a few minutes but nothing happened.

You can hit ⌘⇧S to boot in single user mode. I ran /sbin/fsck -fy manually and got the message The volume ... appears to be ok.

You can hit ⇧ to boot in safe mode. I did that (it takes a long time to start up) and ran Disk Utility, verifying the disk. The output looked very much like the fsck output. Next, I tried repairing disk permissions and rebooted.

Wohooo… problem fixed!

Today, I was wanted to format an external hard disk in order to give it to a friend of Claudia’s. When I ran Disk Utility, I got an out of memory error while partitioning the disk. Confused, I tried the command line:

Pyrobombus:~ alex$ diskutil partitionDisk /dev/disk2 1 MBR ExFAT EXTERN R
Started partitioning on disk2
Unmounting disk
Error: 12: POSIX reports: Cannot allocate memory

Whaat?

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Comments on 2011-07-12 Mac OS X Problmems

Did you try “sudo diskutil …” on the command line?

– Harald 2011-07-12 11:48 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Yes.

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-12 12:25 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Grrrr. iPhoto is also giving me the spinning rainbow wheel – something is seriously wrong with this box. :(

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-12 12:41 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Going to backup the iPhoto libraries and then I’ll try rebuilding them. :(

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-12 12:52 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Hm, my wife installed the update. My wife can now look at her iPhoto library after “repairing” it (using her account). I cannot look at her iPhoto library (using my account) → spinning wheel of rainbow death. Now I “repair” my iPhoto library (using my account) and try to open it → spinning wheel of rainbow death. W00T I ask myself and go back to her account. And lo and behold, I can open my iPhoto library using her account. I “repair” my library (using her account). Switch back to my account → spinning wheel of rainbow death.

This software update is terrible.

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-12 20:27 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Downloading iPhoto Library Manager and setting the permission for the library to Read and Write for the owner (me), the group, and others, did not help either.

I tried “Rebuild the iPhoto Library Database from automatic backup” and got a totally borked library. iPhoto would start, but all the events had the same image, all the faces showed nothing, clicking on one of them crashed iPhoto… Bad idea!

Time passes.

Ok, I restored the borked version from backup (before any “repair” attempts) and suspecting some ownership issues, I ran the following:

rsync -av /Volumes/Backup/Extern/Pictures/Alex\ iPhoto\ Library /Volumes/Extern/Pictures/Alex\ iPhoto\ Library
chown -R alex:alex /Volumes/Backup/Extern/Pictures/Alex\ iPhoto\ Library
chmod -R ugo+rw /Volumes/Backup/Extern/Pictures/Alex\ iPhoto\ Library

Result: fixed it. I can open my iPhoto library.

My thinking is that with Claudia running the software update, and the two of us sharing the same iPhoto library resulted in some ownership issues.

AlexSchroeder



ToddJ
I am having similar problems. How can i change the permissions in just a couple of folders (my iPhoto ‘11 crashes when i choose Preferences and it comes up with this error MALLOC_LARGE 00000000380b3000-0000000038208000 [ 1364K] rw-/rwx SM=PRV --> __TEXT 000000008f002000-000000008f7a5000 [ 7820K] r-x/rwx SM=COW /System/Library/Extensions/GeForceGLDriver.bundle/Contents/MacOS/GeForceGLDriver

ToddJ 2011-10-16 15:02 UTC



AlexSchroeder
It would seem that your problem is related to a graphics card an it’s driver, not the permissions of your library.

AlexSchroeder 2011-10-16 21:32 UTC

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2011-07-14 Fraktionen im Spiel

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5058/5438543484_825d8f743e.jpg

Die Fischköpfe sind Sklaventreiber im Nordwesten. Die fliegenden Affen im Norden brauchten mal Hilfe gegen die Fischköpfe. Die Froschmänner im Nordosten wurden von den Soldaten des Zauberers nieder gemacht. Nördlich von dort steht der Orcus Tempel. Im Süden hat es Goldaugenkobolde, Schwarzklauenechsen, Satyre, eine Sumpfhexe, eine befreite Zwergenfeste, ein Zwergendorf mit Lammasu, eine Höhle mit Teufeln, eine versunkene Pyramide mit dem halb lebendigen Leichnam der Tiamat, einen Elfenturm mit Greifen, im Westen mehr Elfen, Hügelriesen, Trolle, unter dem Wald eine riesiger Leichnam eines Dämons, irgendwo hat es einen blauen, einen roten und einen weißen Drachen. Dahinter noch mehr Goblinstämme und so weiter.

Wohin man geht findet man mehr Völker, mehr Probleme, mehr Abenteuer. Gibt es einen Punkt, an dem es einfach zu viel wird? Meistens versuche ich die Liste der offenen Plots auf sieben zu beschränken. Wenn die Spieler aber das Risiko scheuen und alle Probleme offen lassen, was soll ich dann tun? Keine neuen Ideen bringen bis das alte Zeug gelöst wurde?

Ich glaube, dass im positiven Sinne viele “Fraktionen” einfach für eine lebendige Welt stehen. Die Spieler können wählen, wo sie sich einmischen, und dort auch wirklich etwas bewirken. Manchmal, wenn die Spieler zu chaotisch werden, kann auch eine der Fraktionen sehr stark werden, so dass man ein mittelfristiges Ziel hat. Nach zwei Jahren kam es so zur grossen Schlacht mit den Echsen. Im Moment sieht es so aus, wie wenn die Trolle wieder eine ähnliche Bedrohung werden. Reicht das, um die Aufmerksamkeit zu bündeln?

Im negativen kann das natürlich die Folge haben, dass die Spieler zuviele Töpfe am kochen haben – und keinen davon auslöffeln wollen (oder es keinen offensichtlichen und einfachen Weg gibt, so dass man lieber weiter wandert und neue Fraktionen und Abenteuer entdeckt).

Selber versuche ich im Moment die Spieler darin zu unterstützen, im Spiel zu bestimmen, wie sich alles weiter entwickelt. Werden die Feuerriesen mehrmals besucht, werden diese wichtiger. Werden die Kuo Toa ignoriert, werden sie unwichtiger (ausser ich brauche mal einen externen Feind, dann kann ich auf alle Elemente zurück greifen).

Von den aktuellen Spielern hat im Moment halt keiner ein starkes Charakterziel – vielleicht sollte ich mal eine Umfrage machen? Eigentlich eine gute Idee… mache ich gleich mal. 😊

Ein Spieler meinte dazu, dass mehr Fraktionen dazu führen, dass die Welt überbevölkert wirkt – insbesondere weil sich an den Konflikten nichts ändert, wen die Spieler nicht zugegen sind. Ich bin natürlich auch zu faul für eine Weltsimulation. Ich baue nur dort weiter, wo das Spiel auch stattfindet. Vielleicht sollte ich mich mal dazu durchringen, ein paar zukünftige Ereignisse zu notieren, damit sich die Welt auch ohne das Zutun der Gruppe ändert.

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Comments on 2011-07-14 Fraktionen im Spiel


lior
Bei einem Sandbox hat man im Prinzip ein flexibleres “Breadcrums++”-Verfahren. Der SL biete an, die Spieler entscheiden durch ihre wahl wie es weiter geht. Eine solche Arbeitsteilung funktioniert aber nur dann, wenn die Spieler wenigstens auf einige der Krümel, die der SL hinlegt auch tatsächlich nachhaltig reagieren.

Du könntest nun natürlich versuchen mehr oder weniger Factions einzuführen, oder die Factions mächtiger oder schwächer zu gestalten oder die Konflikte eher gewalttätiger oder eher intellektueller zu machen. Aber das wären IMO alles Versuche ein bestehendes Problem innerhalb der Fiktion zu lösen in dem du versuchst zu erraten was eigentlich suboptimal ist. Ich würde lieber versuchen die Probleme direkt anzusprechen, auch wenn das die übliche Konsument/Lieferant-Beziehung aufbricht.

Ich lese gerade Storming the Wizard's Tower, ein unfertiges Fantasy-System von Vincent Baker. Er legt grossen Wert darauf, dass die PCs von Anfang mit ihrem Heimatort zu verbinden. Die PCs beginnen immer schon als lokale Respektspersonen von denen sich die Menschen bei Problemen Abhilfe erwarten. Der GM soll dann die Herausforderungen direkt gegen den Heimatort und akut gestalten. Es geht also um die Schutzbefohlenen, das Problem ist dringend (und frisch) und es wird von niemand anderem gelöst werden und auch nicht von selbst verschwinden.

Das der GM aktiv die Spieler zu einem bestimmten Abenteuer zwingt widerspricht natürlich der Sandbox-Idee. Aber vielleicht könntest du die Spieler dazu verführen dir zu erzählen wofür ihre PCs kämpfen würden? Ich überlege gerade wie man das geschickt machen könnte…

zB: Jeder Spieler soll erzählen, wer im Ort seinem PC inzwischen wichtig geworden ist. Dass muss nicht ein Helfersyndrom sein. Es können auch Saufkumpane sein, oder die schöne Maid von Nebenan mit der man so gut flirten kann. Oder die Strassenköter… So machen die Spieler im Prinzip für dich SL ein inverses Sandbox. Du wählst dir dann von den Angebotenen Zielscheiben eines oder zwei aus und greifst diese direkt an.

Vielleicht um das obige noch etwas aufzulockern: Es kann auch jeder Spieler aufzählen, welche drei Dinge im Leben seinem PC am wichtigsten sind. Dann können auch Dinge kommen wie “Meine Ehre”, “Die Narrenfreiheit”, “Die Erinnerung an meine verlorene Familie”. Natürlich sind auch hier die Saufkumpane ein legitimer Punkt.

Wichtig wäre mir, dass die Bringschuld nicht alleine auf Seiten des SL liegt. Umgekehrt sollte sie nach meinem Geschmack auch nicht nur beim Spieler liegen (so wie wir es bei BW in Arcagio versucht hatten). Es soll ein Wechselspiel aus Signalen und Reaktionen sein: Spieler signalisieren mit Flags ihre Interessen; der SL reagiert darauf, bietet wiederum unterschiedliche Optionen an worauf die Spieler wiederum mit irgend einer Art von Feedback reagieren usw.

Hope that helps

lior 2011-07-14 21:42 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Danke für dein Kommentar. Die Idee der inversen Sandbox finde ich gut. Und einen guten Namen hat sie auch! :)

Bis jetzt habe ich mal von Claudia Eine Antwort auf mein Mail erhalten. Wenn ich ein paar Antworten beisammen habe, melde ich mich wieder.

Mein Mail übrigens:

Hallo Leute

Ich frage mich gerade, ob es unter den Charakteren der Sonntagsrunde konkrete Charakterziele gibt, auf die ihr hinarbeiten wollt – und zwar in dem Sinne, dass ihr euch in den nächsten 1-3 Sessions ein Abenteuer hierzu wünscht.

Im Moment denke ich, dass Jörgs Jiriki den Ken-Kuni endlich finden will. Und sonst?

Im Gespräch mit Samuel ist mir nämlich aufgefallen, dass wir im Moment eigentlich Abenteuer um Abenteuer anreissen, sie dann aber nicht fertig machen sondern weiter reisen, und auf diesen Reisen natürlich neue Gebiete mit neuen Völkern und neuen Abenteuern entdecken. Mir macht das persönlich nicht soviel aus, aber falls ihr das Gefühl habt, wir sollten mal Dinge abschliessen, dann muss ich wissen, warum existierende Abenteuer nicht abgeschlossen werden. Ich vermute, dass eure Charaktere irgendwie andere Ziele haben. Die würde ich gerne hören.

Es ist übrigens keine Pflicht, ein Ziel zu haben. Es ist sogar günstiger, wenn die Gruppe nicht nur aus Alpha-Tieren besteht. :) Sagt es einfach, und dann ist klar, welche Missionen wir zuerst machen sollten.

  • Nibgit: Herrschaft in Grezneck? Oder Gobling Power Base im Westen? Oder nicht so klar?
  • Rakuul: Die Harpyien besiegen? Ork Stamm übernehmen?
  • Lordak: Speziellen Begleiter finden? Riesenspinne?
  • Loduzh?
  • Lorey?
  • Linna: Troll Armee besiegen?

(Das sind eine Menge L!)

Es hat auf der Kommentarseite zum Spielbericht eine kleine Liste von Ideen von Samuel über das weitere Vorgehen – aber keine wirklichen Charakterziele.

Nächster Spieltermin ist der 7. August.

Lieben Gruss Alex

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-14 23:17 UTC



lior
Ihr habt ein Kompliment bekommen von Zak: “Fast Company II – Nonhumans (Schroeder & Shieh) 11 (read this. Extremely useful.)” [1]

lior 2011-07-15 12:54 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Sehr cool!

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-15 13:59 UTC



lior
Habe gerade noch eine Idee gehabt zur “inversen Sandbox”: Lass die Spieler das momentane Beziehungsgeflecht um ihren PC als Diagramm-Karte aufzeichnen. Brainstorm-mässig mit dem PC in der Mitte und mit Verbindungen zu Leute, Factions, Orten, Wünschen, Hoffnungen… Jeder Spieler hat also eine Art Sandbox innerhalb des PCs, in welches er auch total neue Elemente einfügen kann. Genauso wie die Spieler sich aus der Sandbox des SL bedienen pickt sich der SL die Hooks aus der inversen Sandbox der Spieler.

Frage: Wie bringt man die Spieler dazu diese Sandbox immer wieder zu aktualisieren? Oder ist das mehr eine Ad-Hoc Methode um eine momentane Blockade zu überwinden?

lior 2011-07-20 13:42 UTC

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2011-07-15 Campaign Wiki in Italian

Today I noticed an Italian speaking woman commenting on somebody else’s RPG related post on Google+. That got me thinking. Do Italian speaking gamers have a Campaign Wiki site?

I posted on Google+ that I’m interested in hosting a translation, but that I’d need help. I’ve translated the Campaign Wiki site to German, and a handful of people from the German Tanelorn forum picked it up and started using it. Awesome! My guess is that there are still enough people that need a wiki and that are willing to settle for a no-thrills version instead of using Obsidian Portal or Epic Words. I assume those two are English-only services?

Francesco Beltramini was kind enough to do a few translations. And it works!

Con questo sito vogliamo darvi l’opportunità di creare un wiki per le vostre compagne di gioco di ruolo.

Scrivi il nome della tua campagna nello spazio sottostante e fai una prova. Oppure dai un occhiata agli altri siti passando per la pagina Stato.

If you speak Italian, give it a look! It’s work in progress but I’ll be adding all the translations you send me. :)

There are various parts to such a translation effort:

  1. the most important pages need to be translated such as CW:Pagina principale, CW:A proposito, CW:Info (Italian)
  2. the wiki software needs to an update to it’s list of translation strings (CW:Italian Translation)
  3. the configuration used for the Campaign Wiki site also uses words that need to be translated – such as Home Page → Pagina principale and so on.
  4. the site needs to be used by Italian speakers such that all the missing translations get spotted and fixed

The last point is particularly important for long term success. The French translation of Campaign Wiki, for example did not attract any users at all. None of the wikis (CW:Status) are French. Perhaps the French have their own sites that provide them with wikis or this is a cultural thing? I have no idea.

If you are a French gamer, please let me know! :)

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2011-07-16 Web is TV

(This post started as a post on Google+ but I decided to copy it to my blog because I’ll have an easier time finding it again.)

Over the recent weeks and months, the web has started to fill me with slight unease.

The web, you ask? Yes. I spend a lot of my free time reading and replying to email, skimming Facebook, diligently reading Twitter news, reading blog posts in my feed reader, chatting with people, playing a silly ogame variant – all of it on a tablet computer that just lies around. I don’t read as many books as I used to, these days. I spend some time on the web catching up after I get up. I spend some time on the web before falling asleep. When I eat by myself, I spend some time on the web.

Increasingly, I feel as if the great hypno-toad of the web is wasting my time. Michael Ende’s Grey Gentlemen are smoking my time. Time wasted reminds me of TV.

When I discovered the Internet, it promised an anarchic freedom away from the corporations. When I discovered social networks, they promised one-on-one communication with real people, friends and family. I had filters. I had ad blockers. Slowly, however, things have changed. The social networking platforms are in the hands of big corporations financed by ads. They are inescapable.

What we could make for ourselves by learning how to run GNU/Linux we now have to defend in court: net neutrality, software patents. The lure is gone, the promise I imagined has been broken.

On Twitter and the blogs, I had started subscribing to people that worked for companies producing products I enjoyed. As I look at my overflowing bookshelf, I realize that their marketing promise of B2C marketing worked. Blogs and Facebook accounts filled with personal trivia and product hype had enthralled me.

In fact, my unease is the very same unease I felt when I was 20 and realized that the TV was smoking my time. I lost hours watching stuff I could barely remember after a day or two and filled me with longing for products as useless as bicycles for fish. Back then, I was at the receiving end of demand creation. And now I’m realizing that disconnecting the TV from the network is not enough. I am again at the receiving end of demand creation. The ads have been replaced by Twitter and Facebook accounts that love the products I love myself. The benevolent reviews laud the very things I love. Their comments on movie trailers reflect my own taste. And when I manage to turn the table off, I feel a vague emptiness inside.

I feel empty because I am reading stuff I will barely remember after a day or two and I am filled with longing for more products than I can use, read, watch or play until the day I die.

As a first measure, I have started unsubscribing from all the feeds and accounts that are involved in obvious demand creation.

Tags: RSS

Comments on 2011-07-16 Web is TV


Jovial Priest
Interesting Alex.

Since starting my blog I have read fewer books. Most of my reading time is spent instead reading blogs. I have a Facebook account I barely use, and I don’t use Twitter.

I don’t feel bad about this change, except when I think of my goal by 40. A fantasy novel ready for publication. Well 40 past, and the novel remains unwritten.

– Jovial Priest 2011-07-17 06:17 UTC



AlexSchroeder
There are definitely things that make reading blogs more attractive than books. It’s interactive. Talking to real people. There is a big variety. Right now I’m not so much trying to cut down on the reading itself but things that superficially look like blog posts by ordinary people but deeper down they are marketing messages. The kind of stuff I’m talking about are the Paizo blog, the E.N. World column, the Atomic Array podcast, …

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-17 13:42 UTC



RadomirDopieralski
Perhaps the fact that you forget it two days later is caused by the Internet itself? There is a fresh report on that: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2011/07/13/science.1207745

RadomirDopieralski 2011-07-21 16:17 UTC



AlexSchroeder
“The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves.” That’s exactly how I feel about my blog some times. What movies died I recently watch? Uh, I need to look it up on my blog!

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-21 19:20 UTC

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2011-07-17 One Page Dungeon Contest – Lack Of Transparency

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1PDC Logo by Ravi Shankar aka ravells of the Cartographers’ Guild

Do you remember the One Page Dungeon Contest 2011? I guess I’m still interested in running the same contest in 2012. But that’s not what this post is about. As I was looking through my inbox (I am a big Inbox Zero #fail) I found this question:

“Will a list of winners and their prizes be published, or are the prizes considered private? I for one would welcome the transparency.”

At the time I wrote a lengthy reply via email. Let me post it, with some changes, added emphasis to make it easier to skim, and some extra paragraph breaks:

I totally understand the interest in transparency. I don’t think the prize distribution in 2010 was very transparent. I don’t think there is any information available. This year I worked on the prize distribution using a spreadsheet I shared with the other judges. I’m not sure whether any of them ever went to take a look. I hoped this would strike the right balance between transparency and privacy.

My main protection against the suspicion of corruption is that almost none of the prizes pass through my hands. This year, a book was given to me by a fellow gamer at my table, and the sponsor of the $200 cash award wanted to remain anonymous so he sent me the money before I passed it on—none of the other prizes were sent to me. I guess if you were interested in verifying this, you could contact the sponsors and verify this claim (or at least do some random sampling), or you could contact some of the other judges.

I think the only remaining problem here is that the wish lists of the winners were sent to me personally and not to all of the judges, so this info cannot be used to detect favoritism. Did my friends get all the cool prizes? It’s hard to tell.

The main reason against full transparency is this: I try to maximize happiness by trying to give people what they wish for. This usually works very well. This year we had fifteen winners and twelve of them got their number one item, for example. Two of the winners got their number two item and the last one got his numbers three, four and five items.

It’s fuzzy, error prone, and most importantly, the prizes don’t have equivalent dollar value. So what seems cool for the individual might seem poor by comparison. That’s something I’m afraid of. Making the list public encourages this comparison.

In addition to that, I resolve ties by looking at the number of initial nominations an entry got in the first round of discussion amongst the judges. Not all winners are equal. This year, for example, we had three tiers—the one entry with the most nominations got the $200 cash prize, then the second tier people got their favorite stuff, and so on. This number of initial nominations is not public because I prefer the list of winners to include outliers—I feel they reflect our idiosyncrasies as a group. Having them ranked in public focuses on the very small number of most popular winners where as I want to spread the limelight.

If we assume that the value of a prize is more or less readily apparent to readers (such as comparing a $200 cash prize with a PDF that is essentially just a handful of dollars), and if we assume that winners have rational wish-lists, then the distribution of prizes would again make this hierarchy public.

What do you think–not enough transparency? Would you prefer the contest in 2012 to be more transparent? Do you know of other contests that are more transparent and do you know of any controversies that arose because of it? Would you like to see the initial list of nominations and the number of votes each entry got? I’m curious!

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Comments on 2011-07-17 One Page Dungeon Contest – Lack Of Transparency


James Smith
I don’t see this as an issue, personally. If we were talking about big money prizes, then it might be different. But, $200? Gaming Goodies? I’m just not worried about corruption in the OPD contest and have never heard of anyone else griping about it before now.

James Smith 2011-07-17 16:44 UTC



Paul Cunningham
Hi, Alex. Speaking as a contestant and prize recipient, it seemed to me that the determination/distribution was handled fairly and competently. I like the fact that you ask for wish lists; I think it increases the likelihood of people getting something they truly value and can use, regardless of “price”. Ultimately, maybe full disclosure of the whole process would alleviate some peoples’ concerns, but as long as sponsors are satisfied that all prizes were awarded, and participants are satisfied that all winners got prizes, I don’t think its a big deal.

Paul Cunningham 2011-07-18 14:42 UTC

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2011-07-19 Dublin

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We arrived yesterday, spent some time driving to the hotel, Butlers Town House, took the train to Tara station, walked through Temple Bar, ate a scone, visited Dublin Castle (more of a palace, really), Christchurch cathedral and St. Patrick’s cathedral, ate some Indian food, back to the train via Grafton St. and then to bed. Today we’ll be hitting two museums and we’ll be off to the next station of this whirlwind tour.

No pictures because I can get online for free with the iPad but the iPhone with the integrated camera can’t render the login page. Maybe I’ll add something when we’re back.

Butler’s Townhouse was nice and close to the station.

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2011-07-19 Laragh

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Spent the day in Dublin looking at The Old Library at Trinity College and the Archaeology Museum. Then we went drove south to Powerscourt Waterfall near Bray and continued on to Laragh, where we’ll be spending the night.

I also discovered that I forgot all the SD cards at home an thus the SLR camera is nothing but dead weight.

P. S. We went to the local pub, Claudia hat Guiness and I had fish & chips followed by an Irish Coffee.

P. P. S. No wifi at the B&B, and the free wifi at the pub not accessible via iPhone. I feel cut off.

Tudor Lodge was nice but I felt the river nearby attracted many gnats.

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2011-07-20 Kilkenny

Had “a complete Irish breakfast”. Man, that’s a lot of meat! I prefer a French breakfast. We spent the morning in Glendalough amongst the ruins of St. Kevin’s monastic village with the weird free standing tower. Later, we went to see the Brownshill Dolmen near Carlow. We spent the evening strolling through Kilkenny. Listened to some life music, Claudia tried her second Irish beer (Kilkenny), and I had some Irish Whiskey.

Lyrath Estate Hotel was luxuriously big rooms. We loved it.

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Comments on 2011-07-20 Kilkenny


greywulf
An excellent day!

greywulf 2011-07-21 23:22 UTC



Adrian
I love me some Irish breakfast :) Eggs, black pudding, white pudding, delicious!

Adrian 2011-07-21 23:30 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Well, I just nibbled at the black and white pudding, to be honest, and I only ate one of the two sausages.

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-21 23:49 UTC

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2011-07-21 Cork

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We liked the hotel. We saw rabbits from our window.

Before we left, we went to see St. Canine cathedral in Kilkenny and climbed the free standing round tower. That was quite an experience.

On the way south we stopped at Cashel Rock and looked at the ruined cathedral. Another round tower which we didn’t climb. We saw the restauration attempts in the Cormac chapel.

We arrived in Cork and ended up in the most awesome hotel yet. No issues with wifi. Excellent cuisine.

The roads were narrow. Very narrow. I was happy to let Claudia drive. I haven’t driven a car in ten years, I think. She does all the driving and sometimes I feel bad about it. Here, were people drive on the wrong side of the road all the time, it’d be even worse. My next holidays will be without cars.

We loved Hayfield Manor.

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2011-07-22 Killarney

We drove to our Hotel by the lake in Killarney, checked in, put on our hiking boots and went for a walk around Lake Muckross. It was a glorious walk. Every now and then the sun broke through the cloud cover, the birds were singing and we explored all the nature trail alternative routes.

When we returned, we spent some time in the Jacuzzi, went for a little walk to the local ruins and ended up in the hotel bar where we didn’t get any service in the longest time even though there were three dudes behind the counter.

In the end we did get to order and now were waiting for sandwiches and the traditional Irish music to start. :)

P.S. I’m loving the music and people in the audience singing their own songs, too. Truly listening to The Dubliners has prepared me for this. If only I could sing, too.

The Lake Hotel in Killarney was spacious and we had a Jacuzzi in our room. The hotel was by Muckross lake and thus we didn’t much of Killarney itself. I have no idea whether that’s good or bad. :-/

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Comments on 2011-07-22 Killarney


Helmut
Da bekommt man Lust ebenfalls nach Irland zu reisen! Da macht ihr ja eine richtige Rundreise um die Insel.

– Helmut 2011-07-24 01:26 UTC

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2011-07-23 Limerick

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Since we very much enjoyed yesterday’s hike, we decided to go for another one. I wanted to see the sea and feel some sand between my toes, and remembering my walk around the Beara peninsula nineteen years ago, we opted for a hike along the Dingle peninsula. We parked the car in Ventry and followed the trail. We loved the beach, the hedges, the sheep meadows, the sea, but we did not enjoy the section along the road, nor the thick fog that prevented us from enjoying the—apparently amazing—view. In addition to that, the walk took quite a bit longer than expected and was dreading the walk back. When we arrived at the destination I decided to try and hitch a ride. Nineteen years ago I was amazed at how friendly the Irish were. Today was no exception. The first two cars going in the right direction and having the necessary space stopped and offered us a ride.

Thank you very much! I love the west coast!

What followed was a long drive to Limerick. We arrived, spent half an hour in the pool and sauna, and went looking for a late dinner with some traditional Irish music. We basically walked around the entire old town, but we were too late for dinner and the music was not traditional. We ended up in Burger King with no music at all. Bummer!

Now I’m sitting on the balcony, enjoying some berries offered by the hotel overlooking the river, with excellent wifi. Everything is forgiven.

We liked the Limerick Strand Hotel. Every room comes with a balcony. There is a glass wall separating the balconies from the rain outside. The result is eerie because the balconies are all connected via the air circulating between the inner brick wall and the outer glass wall.

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Comments on 2011-07-23 Limerick


Helmut
1963 musste das Flugzeug auf der Rückreise von Amerika in Shannon Airport notlanden und so habe ich eine Nacht in Limerick verbracht. Leider kann ich mich an nichts mehr erinnern, nur, dass es mir gut gefallen hat und dass mich die unvorhergesehene Unterbrechung des Fluges gar nicht gestört hat, ganz im Gegenteil, ich war sogar froh darüber.

– Helmut 2011-07-24 02:02 UTC

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2011-07-24 Galway

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We left Limerick and went to look at Bunratty castle and the surrounding buildings. The castle itself was so full of people I had a hard time enjoying myself. The dungeon looked dreadful. The castle had basically one big hall per floor, four corner towers full of little bedrooms, private chapels, stairs, murder holes, peep holes, a confusing mess of tiny passages that would turn any fighting into a bloody mess.

We continued on to the cliffs of Moher and enjoyed the same view as yesterday: fog. We were disappointed.

We continued on to Galway, checked in, ate (lentil curry for me, with chick peas), and went to a pub. They did play life music at O’Connor’s “famous” pub in Salthill, but it wasn’t as traditional as I wanted it. Oh well, it was a nice walk along the strand and the interiors of the pub looked fantastic.

Salthill Hotel was not in Galway itself and the room we had was small and dark. I don’t think I’d go there again. Walking along the strand to Salthill and going to O’Conners was nice.

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Adrian
Not sure how long you’ll be in Galway, but I can recommend two restaurants:

Da Tang Noodle House: They had very tasty noodles, I ate there twice for lunch when I was in Galway.

Abalone: This place had the best scallops I’ve ever had, period.

Adrian 2011-07-25 00:05 UTC


You are such a food nerd! :)

Unfortunately we’re leaving for Clifden in a few minutes.

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-25 09:53 UTC



Adrian
I’ve only been to two places in Ireland (Dublin and Galway), and I thought Galway’s food really stood out, especially for such a small city. The scallops really were exceptional.

And yes, I am a food nerd.

Adrian 2011-07-27 14:18 UTC

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2011-07-25 Clifden

We saw Aughnanur Castle which was very nice, drove all the way to Clifden, checked in, drove on to Letterfrack and did a little walk in the Conamara National Park. Nice peat bogs, and a nice little exhibition at the visitor center. Unfortunately Diamond Hill was wrapped in clouds (or was it fog?) and so we did not the long tour. We returned to the hotel and enjoyed some complimentary afternoon tea with scones. Nom!

Then we retired and slept until dinner time. Boy, I’m tired. :)

P.S. No wifi and no cable in this room. I’m playing Avadon on my iPad instead of surfing the Interwebs. Claudia thinks I’m such a nerd…

Abbeyglen Castle Hotel was spacious and old. I liked it very much. It reminded me of the hotel in Cork. This was also the first time I saw the hotel being heated by a three or four peat fires. I’m not sure I like that.

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2011-07-26 Sligo

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We drove north to Ballina and visited the Rosserk abbey, continued on to Sligo, missed the megalithic graves and ended up relaxing in the late afternoon sun on the Strandhill dunes before retiring to the hotel. There, we took a little stroll through their park. If only we had been here as kids, we would have lost ourselves.

Markree Castle had the biggest rooms we saw, felt very old with a very nice garden and park around it. This was one of the hotels where I felt that the food wasn’t as excellent as the rooms themselves.

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2011-07-27 Donegal

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We went to see what we had planned to see yesterday, Carrowmore megalithic cemetery and Sligo Abbey. The guided tour at the abbey was free, friendly and knowledgeable. After the tour we chatted with another very friendly guide at the visitor center and asked a lot more questions regarding the differences between Franciscan and Domenican orders, the differences between friaries and abbeys, the restoration process—until John joined the conversation and we talked about archeology, Irish history, compared the education systems of Switzerland and Ireland and left with a pub recommendation: Hargadon’s on O’Connell street, Sligo. I loved the old floor plan with the séparées.

What followed was a drive to the hotel near Donegal with a cabaret dinner featuring the best Elvis imitator of 2006. He was truly amazing. The opera singers, tango dancers, the fiddler, the band—they all suffered because the sound system was not perfect, the music too loud, etc. But this Elvis guy rocked my socks because I loved Elvis as a kid.

Harvey’s Point near Donegal had wonderful a room and the bathroom was huge with Jacuzzi, perfect! The funny thing was that we had arrived on one of the nights where they have a cabaret dinner. Apparently this is a regular thing during the summer season. That was – surprising. 😊

I also laughed when I saw their logo on the menu: Swiss made in Ireland.

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2011-07-28 Derry

We walked a segment of the Bluestack Mountain Way before driving on to Derry. In Derry we stopped and walked around the old town on the city walls reading all the displays with information about the wall and the siege. I like this mix of walking and reading. Fun and educational.

Reading how proud the town is for withstanding the siege against the catholics more than two hundred and fifty years ago puts the entire civil war they euphemistically call the Troubles into a new perspective. Not joining the Irish suddenly seems like a good idea. I need to learn more about this.

When we continued to our hotel I was shocked to see the union jack on almost every lamp post. Coming from Ireland, driving an Irish car, listening to Irish music, I felt rejected. The flags were telling me that this was not-Ireland. Clearly, problems are far from solved.

We also had a terrible lunch at a restaurant along the highway somewhere. Ugh!

We stayed at the Beech Hill Hotel. We didn’t see the lake or the park and the hotel itself didn’t leave a very good impression – but it did have a room full of memorabilia and newspaper clippings regarding the Marine Barracks that stood here during the World War II.

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2011-07-29 Belfast

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The sun went up and the sky was blue! We drove along the north coast from Portstewart along the Causeway Road to the Giant’s Causeway and discovered that parking was expensive: £6 for parking at one point, more than £5 per person for a ticket at another place. Welcome to the UK! Considering that many attractions in Ireland hat been €3 per person or free with the Heritage card…

The weather was nice so we stayed up there at the coast until sun down. As we drove south towards Belfast the clouds returned.

At the Hilton in Templepatrick I had to pay £15 because I wanted to read emails in our room. This is ordinary broadband! The wifi in the lobby is not free either. There is not even a desktop with which to read emails. That one also costs a few pounds for access to some sort of executive lounge. Sure, this is not really a lot of money if you comapare it to the cost of the room and the car and all that. But if you compare it to other hotels and coffee shops where it is free, it aggravates me. This is lousy!

We had a small room at the Hilton Templepatrick Hotel & Country Club. I don’t play golf. We spent some time at the pool, steam bath and Jacuzzi and ate in their bar. But mostly I remember their rip-off pricing for Internet access.

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Comments on 2011-07-29 Belfast

I have similar experiences: in my opinion, the standard of the hotels in the UK is poor!

– Helmut 2011-07-31 01:33 UTC

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2011-07-30 Carrickcarnon

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We left for Carrickfergus castle after breakfast. They had a small harbor festival going on and the castle was full of activities for kids. We diligently read the displays and did our thing. Outside the castle we looked bought two baskets of strawberries, a focaccia, some feta and some olives. Nom nom!

After that we spent some time in Belfast city. We walked around, watched a gay parade, and once again felt that the local fashion in Ireland and the UK was totally incompatible with what we are used to see. We also felt that the number of obese people reminded us of the United States. And finally we noted that maybe one in twenty looked like a poor fellow from Train Spotting. We didn’t like Belfast too much.

As we were about to leave and blew our last pounds on sparkling water and a mango & passion fruit shaved ice thing in a fancy shopping center, a woman walked up to Claudia and asked her whether she had a camera. Indeed we do, we said. Then we realized that it was gone. The lady had found it in the toilet and given it to an employee, and when she spotted my little orange backpack she decided that we were probably tourists (true), owned a camera (true) and had most probably forgotten it in the toilet (also true).

Dear anonymous Belfast lady, you saved us from the most aggravating experience of loosing all our holiday pictures. Thank you very, very much!

Shaken but happy we left and drove south, to the first hotel past the border. Back in Ireland, where people seem friendlier, no flags on every lamp post, no cameras on every street, no barbed wire around every police station, police cars that no longer look like light armored vehicles—Ireland, I think we like you better!

The Carrickdale Hotel & Spa was nothing special. The Spa was not included in the price and we had to wait before we got a table in the restaurant.

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2011-07-31 Howth

We spent some time looking at the three crosses in Monasterboice (which was hard to find), many hours in Knowth and Newgrange (more neolithic passage tombs), and finally retired to our hotel on the Howth peninsula (which was very hard to find).

We stayed at the Deer Park Hotel Golf & Spa. They had a nice pool but we arrived too late. I don’t play golf. The restaurant was practically empty. I felt weird. I wouldn’t go there again.

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