Browsing the blog archives for June, 2006



I’ve been feeling a bit listless lately: Partly it’s my lack of significant progress in things I’ve been working on, and partly it seems to be romanticizing about those things I don’t really have time for.

It’s been a few months since my own D&D campaign was put on hold and I’m eager to get back to it, but I know that will be somewhat futile — I haven’t really done significant work in revising the things I want to revise, and I know I am ultimately going to be unhappy with what I’m working with. It just doesn’t fit with how I want things to work and how I envision things working in my mind.

Of course the nagging element to this entire line of thought is wanting to try out other games, specifically some of the ones Chris suggested– I’m already feeling like a lot of time has passed between the impromptu end to my campaign and now– How much longer would suggesting other games to play make it? Can I even convince the guys in the group to try something out completely new? This is probably the biggest obstacle here since my own response to new games is — “More stuff to learn?”

And of course, if we end up really liking these other games, will we even want to return to my old campaign, or, more importantly, will I ever be satisfied with it if I end up liking these indie-RPGs more? It seems like everything turns into a big project.

Fun Statistics


Two days ago I posted on getting WP-Shortstat working for this journal. I’ve now got three days worth of statistics and am finding some interesting things show up.

The number one search leading people to this blog is Gene Augury. I don’t know if we’re talking here about a deterministic approach to genetics or if we’re talking about prognostications about a person’s future using patterns of amino acids. “Your minor-house amino acids are in retrograde. Prepare for troubles ahead.”

One of the more unusual search results I’ve been getting is Valyria Music. Apparently there’s a lot of people who are either looking for music from or fitting the A Song of Fire and Ice series. I’m interested in finding any too — I’ve got the lyrics to a number of songs that Martin has in the books, but reading and listening are different experiences. Martin uses heavy metrical and rhythmic patterns to convey a lot about the sound of the songs, but it doesn’t substitute for actual music.

I’ve gotten a few hits for “UT99 dodge” or “UT99 dodge command” and other variants. Not really sure what these people are looking for — Open up the instruction manual? Here’s how to dodge in UT99: Double tap one of the directional keys. That’s it. I suppose I take it for granted knowing all these various key combinations and such.

Another popular search I’ve been getting hit with is regarding the Guild Wars title Grandmaster Cartographer, which involves traversing 100% of the game map. I’m at about 80% currently on my main character, but I haven’t played Guild Wars in about a month, and even then most of what I did prior to that was sell off items in my character’s inventory. I’ll probably try to pick it up again soon enough and make a few more percentage points of progress.

Surprisingly I only got hit with one D&D related search, considering that the majority of my recent postings seem to have been about D&D in one way or another. This person was looking for “dungeons dragons overpowered character.” Well, when it comes to D&D overpowered characters there is only one ultimate answer: Pun-Pun. Go look him up.

I’ve gotten a few more interesting ones, one person was looking for how to create bigger image thumbnails in WordPress. Another search was about the WP-Plugin Popularity Contest conflicting with inline images — I hadn’t noticed any such thing myself, but I did notice that Popularity Contest was [basically] not working.

I find this pretty fun, I’m eager to see my first … Well, I won’t mention it so it doesn’t become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We Don’t Live Here, But We’re Taking Over

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I recently saw this link on Digg. This is one of those “About time” things for anyone who’s ever owned more than one hard drive. About two decades ago Hard Drive manufacturers switched to counting their Mega”bytes” and Giga”bytes” in base 10 — An obvious ploy to trick people into believing they were getting more than they really were. Although you can never really be happy with a class action suit, with the lawyers walking away with the bulk of the settlement and the rest of the people getting only a nominal gift.

Nothing about that is really very remarkable. Hard Drive makers made an estimation of how much money they could make from lying and how much a settlement would likely cost them. I’m sure they’re unhappy with losing, but they knew it would happen. No, what I find amazing is found in the comments on Digg. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised — I guess I just continue to overestimate people. Most of the comments are okay, but there’s a contingent of people who are pushing an alternate theory — “It wasn’t the Hard Drive manufacturers that were wrong, it was the Operating System’s reporting of the Hard Drive’s size!”

Which is just absurd. But what really gets my goat about it is being told that I should adopt a whole new set of acronyms. Apparently Kilobyte (KB) and Megabyte (MB) and so on have alternative forms, Kibibyte (KiB) and Mebibyte (MiB) meant to indicate binary. I find this absolutely maddening. Whoever thought that we needed a new notation for the accepted usage obviously knew nothing about computers. What exactly is the use of counting contiguous chunks of bytes in base 10? There’s a very straightforward and practical reason why base 2 is used, and I really resent being told by some that I’ve been doing it wrong just because some people can’t be bothered to accept convention.

Statistics and More

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So I see a link on Digg about 8 Invaluable WordPress Plugins. The first thing I see is WP-Shortstat. That sounds promising. To date I’ve tried three different WordPress statistics plugins and none of them have worked. I figured I’d give WP-Shortstat a go. No go.

I scrolled down a bit and looked through the comments. I saw that apparently the version of Shortstat linked from the original doesn’t work with WordPress 2.02. Well, I’m using 2.03, but I figured I’d try the updated version of Shortstat. Amazingly, this seems to be working. It’s not picking up Opera as a browser, but that could be simply because it’s not a unique hit. Will need to spend some time with this but at least it appears to work.

I also checked out a few of these other plugins that were made available. PageNavi and RelatedPosts looked like they might be useful. Some of the others are questionable — Do we really need this site to tell us about Akismet considering it comes with every new WordPress install? Oh well.

Enriching our Vocabulary

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Over a year or so ago I was talking with a coworker who hails from Korea. I’m not sure if being from Korea is really relevant, but I mention it because of the different culture that he grew up with. I don’t recall how we got on the subject, but I was mentioning something about my internet connection and he started talking about how he had been running a server from his home line. Apparently, he was doing over 400 GB worth of traffic a month and because of that his cable company was getting on his back. Unfortunately the details of the conversation are a bit fuzzy at this point, but at one point he mentioned that [giving in?] wasn’t something he would do. It would be an insult to his Pride.

I can hardly remember anything about that conversation except that one word. And when he used it I was pretty floored. The only time I really ever hear that word is as part of an empty colloquialism, “We take pride in our work” or variations thereof. Maybe it’s my own assigning of importance, but when I heard him use the term it was not meant as a meaningless invocation but rather as something that is part of his true self. And, hearing that, I thought upon how little it would ever come to me to use the word Pride. My own vocabulary seems to suffer so much from this modern plague of euphemism and political correctness. When I heard this man use this word it felt as if my eyes were peering into a world stripped of the veils that lesser words would have raised. “Esteem,” “Self-Worth,” these seem so empty and flaccid, words which convey the meaning but divert all of its underlying strength.

Recently I had another similar experience. This article from Architecture and Morality looks at usage of the word justice — Justice in itself is a powerful word, but one which is frequently misused. Relievedebtor proposes an alternative word, one which is far more fitting, capturing the heart of the matter better than Justice can do. So much seems lost already, the word he speaks of would never have occurred to me.

Related but not directly connected, Eternity Road talks about Justice here.

Deep in the MUD

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A few days ago one of my D&D buddies linked me to this site and asked me if I’d be willing to help him out setting up this codebase. The next day I took about 15 minutes of time out of my day, looked up my own hosting plan to see if I could access the server via SSH — I can’t. I then sent the source code over to my Mac, compiled it and had things up and running.

All in all it was pretty easy to handle — Creating my character in the MUD and then promoting him to administrator was more of a hassle than getting the MUD source code compiled and the networking issues resolved. Unfortunately my Mac’s not really appropriate (at this point in time) for handling this sort of thing, but in the future I’ll probably look into getting myself a static IP if possible, or dealing with the other various ways to use a local machine for hosting.

One of the first things I notice is that I don’t really care for this MUD codebase, and if I choose to pursue this MUD project any further myself, I will want something a bit simpler. The Dawn of Time codebase comes with a set of support files with thousands of rooms, races, classes, and all those other things that, while good to have, are a lot of baggage if you’re planning on doing something substantially different. Getting a MUD up and going has been one of my goals for a long time, so I see this as a good, if largely symbolic, step.

US Soccer Set Back 10 Years

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So yet another US soccer (football?) game was ruined by poor refereeing. The US lost to Ghana 2-1 after Ghana was given a penalty kick for no reason whatsoever. There really needs to be some better way to handle these absurd calls rather than letting the game go on and pretending like they were fine. The sad thing is that I wasn’t rooting against Ghana, but all of the acting they did late in the game to try and run down the clock was uncalled for and poor sportsmanship.

The real villain of this whole thing is Bruce Arena, whose sentimental attitude in playing a defensive game and keeping older players like McBride and Reyna in the game the entire time really lost both the game against Italy and Ghana. The media, of course, built up high hopes that Team USA would have a shot at the World Cup, but by having the US disgrace themselves with all losses / ties and only one goal scored total will certainly contribute to the perception that the US isn’t capable of playing soccer on an international level.

Internet Wars

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Awhile ago there was an internet war between YTMND and eBaum’s World. eBaum’s World is notorious for ripping off content that other websites have created, putting their logo on it, and generally acting like asses when the original content creators contact eBaum’s World when they request it be taken down (or to be properly credited). eBaum’s World has been ripping off content for years and making a mint from other people’s work, but what set it all off was when a YTMND user created this YTMND and it appeared nary a day or two afterwards on eBaum’s World without crediting the creator. This sparked an Internet War, with YTMND, Something Awful, and various other productive and ethical members of the internet community facing off against the forces of darkness incarnated as Eric Bauman.

Associated YTMNDs:

All of this culminated into a “Cease and Desist” letter written by Neil J. Bauman, and, ultimately, in this YTMND. If YTMND is the culmination of the internet, then the Bauman Letters YTMND is the culmination of YTMND.

I haven’t been visting YTMND very regularly recently, but I took a few minutes to check up on it the other day. Apparently YTMND has started another war, this time with the Church of Scientology. Here’s the Cease and Desist. I’m curious how this is going to pan out — The Church of Scientology isn’t just some two-bit half-wit hypocrite thieving and free-speech subverting organization — they’re also murderous, immoral, and well-financed. I’m curious if Max (YTMND’s owner) will have a car accident soon…

Intentionalist Wars

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For awhile now I’ve been meaning to write about Jeff Goldstein’s dustup with Thersites.

The whole thing started with Jeff’s online publication of an academic paper he wrote. Apparently Thersites is a professor, and he takes offense to Jeff’s insistence on the intention of the author being privileged when interpreting the author’s work. The post series (on Jeff’s site) is here, here, here, here, here, and here. I’m pretty much in agreement with intentionalism as the only coherent way to read a text. Simultaneously, I don’t find intentionalism terribly fulfilling as an interpretive philosophy — It’s a starting point, not an ending point.

This is probably not terribly interesting or engaging unless you’ve been following this issue yourself. Unfortunately I can’t really do justice to the subject matter in short, so it boils down to turning this into a drama between talking heads. The shocking climax of this sordid tale is that things eventually ballooned into Thersites deleting his blog. It’s not often that you see an opponent in an intellectual debate so thoroughly destroyed that he completely abandons his online persona and blog.

Some more thoughts of mine below the fold…

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