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2011-10-07 Oddmuse, Venus and Perl


I’ve been working on a submission form for the Old School RPG Planet. Today I added another little feature. This is how I like to develop code. No time pressure. One little step at a time. Keep polishing it.

The planet uses Planet Venus to collect the RSS and Atom feeds of many of the Old School RPG blogs out there. Planet Venus allows you to get the list of feeds via an URL. I’m hosting the list of feeds on Campaign Wiki itself (raw format). As you can see, it the format doesn’t look nice.

The thing I did, therefore, was to write a script that makes it easy for people who are not into the technical details to submit new blogs. It also makes it easier for me to submit new blogs!

The things it handles:

  • If you submit an invalid URL, it will prepend http:// and try again.
  • If it looks like we already have a similar looking feed on our page, it requires a confirmation by the user.
  • If you submit a web page, it will look for alternative links with MIME types application/rss+xml, application/atom+xml, application/xml (yeah) and text/xml (just making sure) and allow the user to pick one of them.
  • If you submitted a feed directly instead of a web page, it it uses that instead.
  • If the feed you picked is served with an invalid content type, it is rejected.
  • It extracts the title of the feed and adds it to the wiki page, sorting all the entries alphabetically.

I think it’s pretty cool.

If you look at the interface, you’ll note that it has a link to its own source code. I love this little Perl trick:

  1. Add __DATA__ at the end of the source file. Usually you would add actual data at the end. The script could read it using the DATA file handle.
  2. Serve source code using seek DATA, 0, 0; print "Content-type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8\r\n\r\n", <DATA>; This resets the current position of the DATA file handle to the beginning of the source file. Tadaa! :)


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2011-10-10 iPhoto Crashes On Startup

Spinning Wait Cursor I connected my Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 to the newly booted Mac, started iPhoto, and got the spinning rainbow ball. Killed iPhoto and tried it again. Three times. Force Quit Applications → iPhoto (not responding) frown

Then I restarted iPhoto while pressing the alt and command key and told it to “repair” the library database. It did that, finished, and gave me the spinning rainbow ball. I am reminded of Comments on 2011-07-12 Mac OS X Problmems. This sucks.

I restarted iPhoto while pressing the alt and command key and told it to “examine and repair” the permissions. It did that, finished, and gave me the spinning rainbow ball. Truly, what a thing to come home to after a long weekend. Thanks, Apple.

Tried fixing ownership and permissions myself:

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

That didn’t help.

Removed ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.iPhoto.plist and ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.iPhoto and logged out and back in. That helped! I had to start iPhoto while pressing the alt key to pick my photo library, and got to click around. Encouraged, I connected the USB cable and switched on my camera. And I got the spinning rainbow ball again.

What the hell? Switching off the camera and restarting iPhoto gets me the spinning rainbow ball. Apparently the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 can destroy iPhoto. :(

Ok, just deleting the cache and restarting iPhoto without logout and login:

rm -rf ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.iPhoto

That didn’t help.

Try removing both without logout and login:

rm -rf ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.iPhoto ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.iPhoto.plist

That still doesn’t do it. I will try removing both and logout and login again.

That helped. I identified some faces, quit iPhoto, restarted it. No more problems. Except for one: How will I get new images from the camera into iPhoto?

I file copied them all to my desktop and removed most of the files on the camera:

rm -rf /Volumes/CYBER-SHOT/*
rm -rf /Volumes/CYBER-SHOT/.Trashes/

(This left a few things on the memory card.)

Now switching the camera on. Interesting: iPhoto no longer starts. The camera has no pictures on it and thus no longer registers as a camera? Let’s give it a try… Taking a picture or two… Connecting it again… iPhoto starts… and asks if I want to import the pictures!

Apparently I broke the cycle.

So, what was different? What did I delete? I can think of only one thing: I rarely record video with the camera, but today there was a video file on it. Perhaps that caused iPhoto to die?


Comments on 2011-10-10 iPhoto Crashes On Startup

A friend of mine has a similar problem, and of yet I haven’t figured out what went wrong – so I might try some of your suggestions.

As a workaround, we used Image Capture (“Digitale Bilder”) to import the images – which usually works and allows the pictures to be imported into iPhoto as well (and does it flawlessly).

xeophin 2011-10-15 08:19 UTC

Hmpf. My wife returned from Namibia, I plug in the camera, iPhoto crashes again. I remove the two videos in the MP_ROOT/101ANV01 directory and restart iPhoto. Still crashes.

rm -rf ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.iPhoto ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.iPhoto.plist

Now logout and login again. iPhoto starts. But you need to say yes to the map and you need to Alt-start iPhoto to pick your library file (since I don’t use the default location).

That worked.

Stupid camera. Stupid iPhoto.

AlexSchroeder 2011-11-06 07:33 UTC

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2011-10-15 Nationalratswahlen

Bin SmartVote nochmal durchgegangen für die Nationalratswahlen (als Ausländer darf ich trotzdem nicht abstimmen). Vielleicht stimmt ja eine Schweizerin oder ein Schweizer für mich?

  • Alternative Liste, Grüne, Partei der Arbeit und SP liegen vorne. Ich hatte erwartet, dass die Piratenpartei weiter vorne liegen würde!
  • Christlich-soziale Partei vor Konfessionslosen? Trennung von Staat und Kirche finde ich eigentlich gut!
  • EVP, BDP, EDU, SD, CVP und SVP am Ende, das finde ich gut!
  • Jetzt sollte ich also vielleicht die Liste “Linke Alternative” nehmen und schauen, ob ich noch einzelne Leute hinzunehmen soll – meine Sympathien liegen eigentlich bei Balthasar Glättli wegen seiner Arbeit für Solidarité sans frontières.
1.Linke Alternative, AL - Alternative Liste 79.2%
2.Grüne, Junge Grüne und Alte Füchse 75.8%
3.Sozialdemokratische Partei (SP)74.0%
4.Sozialdemokratische Partei (SP), JUSO 74.0%
5.Linke Alternative, Partei der Arbeit (PdA)73.5%
6.Grüne 73.2%
7.Sozialdemokratische Partei (SP), SP International 72.2%
8.Piratenpartei 68.6%
9.parteifrei.ch 68.2%
10.Christlich-soziale Partei, CSP 67.9%
11.Konfessionslose.ch – Liste für die Tren­nung von Staat und Kir­che 66.8%
12.Tierpartei Schweiz (TPS)61.8%
13.Evangelische Volkspartei (EVP), Junge Evangelische Volkspartei (*jevp)59.9%
14.Grünliberale (glp) , Junge Grünliberale 56.9%
15.Grünliberale (glp)56.6%
16.Evangelische Volkspartei (EVP)55.7%
17.Schweizerische Narrenpartei - Die wenigstens Ehrlichen 52.6%
18.Christlichdemokratische Volkspartei (CVP)50.0%
19.Bürgerlich-Demokratische Partei (BDP)48.4%
20.Christlichdemokratische Volkspartei (CVP), Junge CVP/CVP 60+46.5%
21.Schweizer Demokraten (SD)43.5%
22.Eidgenössisch-Demokratische Union (EDU), Junge Eidgenössisch-Demokratische Union (JEDU)41.8%
23.Jungfreisinnige 41.1%
24.Schweizerische Volkspartei (SVP), SVP International 38.7%
25.Subitas (Schweiz)37.6%
26.Eidgenössisch-Demokratische Union (EDU)36.9%
27.FDP.Die Liberalen 35.8%
28.Schweizerische Volkspartei (SVP), Junge SVP (JSVP)25.0%
29.Schweizerische Volkspartei (SVP)20.9%

Mal schauen was die Kandidatenliste sagt…

1.Manuel Sahli 1988, AL 78.2%
2.Marco (GB) Geissbühler 1982, JUSO 77.5%
3.Bela Gisin 1981, Grüne 76.5%
4.Katharina Gander 1976, AL 76.5%
5.Mattia Battaglia 1991, PdA76.2%
6.Lucia Thaler 1988, JUSO 76.0%
7.Christoph Hug 1956, Grüne 75.7%
8.Isabel Maiorano 1975, AL 75.7%
9.David Gallusser 1984, JUSO 75.3%
10.Kaspar Bütikofer 1965, AL 74.5%
11.Rahel Nüssli 1984, AL 74.5%
12.Margrith Gysel 1940, Grüne 74.3%
13.Niklaus Scherr 1944, AL 74.3%
14.Lea Fritsche 1986, JUSO 74.2%
15.Christian Gross 1991, JUSO 74.0%
16.Rosmarie Joss 1982, SP 74.0%
17.Simon Kälin 1964, Grüne 74.0%
18.Stefan Pfister 1985, Grüne 73.5%
19.Stefan Wyss 1980, AL 73.5%
20.Andrea Leitner 1964, AL 73.2%
21.Anna Klieber 1984, AL 73.2%
22.Christina (Chrigi) Hug 1983, Grüne 73.2%
23.Ezgi Akyol 1986, AL 73.1%
24.Jonas Landolt 1990, Grüne 73.1%
25.Jacqueline Badran 1961, SP 72.9%
26.Res Marti 1982, Grüne 72.9%
27.Karin Maeder-Zuberbühler 1965, SP 72.3%
28.Maria Rohweder-Lischer 1966, Grüne 72.3%
29.Ursina Egli 1987, SP 72.3%
30.Alecs Recher 1975, AL 72.2%
31.Catherine Rutherfoord 1961, AL 72.2%
32.Ernst Joss 1946, AL 72.2%
33.Mattea Meyer 1987, JUSO 72.2%
34.Alois (Wisi) Iten 1952, Grüne 72.0%

Witzigerweise ist Balthasar Glättli erst auf Platz 129 zu finden, obwohl die Übereinstimmung so gross zu sein scheint:

Glättli und ich

Naja, das scheint ja zumindest darauf hin zu deuten, dass ich andere Leute wählen sollte. Für den Ständerat ist er aber die Nummer zwei auf meiner Liste. Auch gut. :)

Jetzt muss ich nur noch wissen, wie ich das mit der Liste machen soll… Und was ich auch noch lernen muss: Mit diesen Jahrgängen umgehen! Meine Güte, das sind ja Leute aus den achtziger Jahren!

Update: Ich werde einfach die Liste der AL einwerfen (lassen). Listenverbindung mit Konfessionslosen und Piraten – find’ ich gut. Die Liste fängt auch mit ein paar älteren Personen an. Das passt mir auch.


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2011-10-15 Pathfinder Subscriptions Canceled

Old School RPG I just sent the following mail to Paizo customer service:

Hello! I’d like to cancel my Planet Stories and my Pathfinder Modules subscription. The unread books are piling up and even though I wish I’d have more time, I end up doing other stuff instead of reading the books. Sorry! As for the modules – I’ve recently switched all my campaigns over to old school D&D and find that doing stuff myself works just as well. I’ll also be canceling my Pathfinder Adventure Path subscription once the current Adventure Path ends – there’s a little bit of a completist left in me – but I’ll send you another email once that happens.

Why is that? I no longer play the system, and I no longer need the wordy style.

  • Two out of three campaigns I am running use Labyrinth Lord
  • I stopped the one of the D&D 3.5 game I was running and converted the other to Solar System RPG
  • We finished Legacy of Fire using Pathfinder and will be switching to a HARP campaign instead
  • The DIY spirit of the old school D&D blogs has convinced me that my preferred style of gaming (it’s a continuous journey as far as I can tell) involves very little preparation and reading only very short descriptions of adventure locales—the Pathfinder products, however, require hours of reading and note taking—the Pathfinder stuff is not short enough
  • A few months ago I wrote that “I find myself unwilling to spend a lot of money for role-playing game products as I realize how little material I actually read and use – even though I play around ten times every month.” Still true.

With all the money saved, I might be buying Anomalous Subsurface Environment and the latest issues of Fight On and Knockspell instead. :)

Items Price
ASE1: Anomalous Subsurface Environment (Standard Paper)$20.18
Realms of Crawling Chaos $17.95
Fight On! #12 - Spring/Summer 2011$9.99
Knockspell #6 softcover $12.00
Shipping and Handling$31.24
Shipping Discount (OCTGROUND305)$-31.24


Comments on 2011-10-15 Pathfinder Subscriptions Canceled

Got my stuff! :)

Items Price
ASE1: Anomalous Subsurface Environment (Standard Paper)$20.18
Realms of Crawling Chaos $17.95
Fight On! #12 - Spring/Summer 2011$9.99
Knockspell #6 softcover $12.00

Hm, where to start?

AlexSchroeder 2011-10-31 15:26 UTC

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2011-10-16 Installing Ubuntu 11.10 on my iBook G4

Upgrading my iBook G4 to Ubuntu 11.10 went without a hitch. But as the system rebooted, I ran into a problem:

WARNING boot device may be renamed. Try root=/dev/sda3
Gave up waiting for root device. […]

Now what? The Ubuntu forum got me the answer I was looking for:

  1. at the first boot prompt, answer l because you want to boot Linux
  2. at the second boot prompt, answer Linux root=/dev/sda3
  3. if that works, fix your config by running sudo yabootconfig -r /dev/sda3 from the command line

Thanks, Internet! <3 :D

There is one strange, tiny problem I do have, however: The trackpad will not work if the laptop boots with an external mouse connected. When I run sudo trackpad show I get back no trackpad ! Weird, but not really a problem. :)

Update: For those of you coming here via Google search—if you are wondering how I got Unity to work—I did not. I switched to Xubuntu! Back when I was using Ubuntu 10, I made my switch: From the command line, I ran sudo tasksel install xubuntu-desktop. then, in order to save disk space, I ran sudo apt-get remove ubuntu-desktop and sudo apt-get autoremove. I haven’t tried it in a long time, but upgrading my Ubuntu system still works. Yay! :)


Comments on 2011-10-16 Installing Ubuntu 11.10 on my iBook G4

Thanks, exactly what I needed to fix an errant Mac Mini server. :)

– Kirk 2012-11-26 20:58 UTC

Awesome. :)

AlexSchroeder 2012-11-26 22:57 UTC

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2011-10-24 Old School D&D Monsters Online


Remember Links to Wisdom? At the time, a blog post had caught my attention and I ended up creating a wiki with a tiny bit of software around it in order to try and help solve the problem.

Well, it happened again. The blog post A database of old-school monsters caught my attention. There, Gavin says he wants an “online old-school monster database, with tags.”

It just so happened that I had some code lying around that would provide Campaign Wiki with tags. I gave it a try, and it worked.

Then I looked around for monsters to add to the wiki. I didn’t want to start with the The Hypertext d20 SRD or the Pathfinder SRD – I wanted old school. I remembered that Dan Proctor kindly doesn’t just host PDF files, he also provides text files for his stuff—the Open Game Content Library. So I went there, got the Labyrinth Lord monsters and the Advanced Edition Companion monsters, saved the Word document as text files and started using a lot of regular-expression based search and replace and keyboard macros to semi-automatically go through it all, split it into files and upload the stuff using some shell scripting. Yay for Perl, Emacs and the shell. :)

The result: Campaign:Monsters! A wiki for all of us. Add monsters that allow free distribution – Open Gaming Content, Creative Commons, your own stuff (if you’re willing to make it free), add tags, and make it grow. Use it to browse, find some inspiration, prepare your adventures and populate your wandering monster tables.


Comments on 2011-10-24 Old School D&D Monsters Online

Awesome! A request - for those of us running 1e/2e, would it be possible to get an entry for morale on a 1-20 scale? LL uses 2d6 morale.

-C 2011-10-25 05:15 UTC

Also, it would be super helpful if something like this existed for spells.

-C 2011-10-25 06:23 UTC

Morale on a 1-20 scale is easy to add but requires people knowing the actual numbers to edit all the pages. Sounds like a long term project to me. :)

AlexSchroeder 2011-10-25 07:16 UTC

Not to be a grumpy old man here but shouldn’t the entries include their source? Both for legal reasons and to give crdeit where credit is due.

Otherwise I’m loving it.

JDJarvis 2011-10-25 11:21 UTC

Actually they don’t need to include their source per se, they need to have an appropriate OGL. I don’t think that requires me to paste the link on every single page of the wiki – but every monster entry should have a link to the standard OGL, the Labyrinth Lord OGL, the Advanced Edition Companion Labyrinth Lord OGL, the Tomb of Horrors Complete OGL, or equivalent.

If you note any entries missing a link to their respective license, let me know – this is definitely something that I want to keep straight.

AlexSchroeder 2011-10-25 12:11 UTC

Let’s say someone screwed up added a monster and didn’t title the page correctly, like I just did, how’s that get fixed?

re: http://campaignwiki.org/wiki/Monsters/2011-10-25

JDJarvis 2011-10-25 13:03 UTC

You just edit the page and delete its content. This marks the page for deletion and it will be removed by a maintenance job in 14 days. At the same time, paste your stuff elsewhere. That’s what I did and now your monster resides here: CW:Monsters/Devouring_Sentinel

AlexSchroeder 2011-10-25 13:34 UTC

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2011-10 Book Club

What: A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks

When: 26 October, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Aquarium

Set in London in the year 2007, this book follows its characters over the course of, well, you guessed it …

“Sebastian Faulks’s new novel, set in one week in December 2007, is very ambitious. It aspires to be a state-of-the-nation book, a satirical comedy of metropolitan literary life, a sweeping, Dickensian look at contemporary London, a serious examination of Islam and the reasons for radicalism among young Muslims, a thriller, a satire on the Notting Hill Cameroonians and a detailed look at the sharp financial practices that led to the collapse. There’s London football, reality TV, cyber porn, a love story or two. As if all that weren’t enough, it is a roman a clef, which has already provided fun for metropolitan journalists as they speculate about the identity of the various characters.” (The Guardian; full review here)

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