Browsing the blog archives for February, 2011

Blogroll Update

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Administrativa

My blogroll was in desperate need of an update, so I went through it and pared it down a lot.

It’s almost been 5 years since this blog was started. That’s a long time. A lot of the blogs I used to read don’t update anymore. I think probably the most disappointing one on that front is the awesome 2Blowhards blog, which was always an entertaining and insightful look into the arts. I kind of want to reminisce over the other blogs I used to read, but well, I’ll spare you.

Then there’s the blogs I don’t read anymore. Sometimes this is just natural. You read a person’s thoughts for awhile, come to understand their perspective, then move on. Sometimes the blog moves away from you: Steven Den Beste’s USS Clueless was very insightful political/cultural blog when it ran. Later he turned his blog into Chizumatic and started blogging about anime. However, he seems obsessed with banal loli and harem animes that I can’t stand watching in the first place, much less reading about them secondhand. Mike Mearls’ blog turned into a twitter feed. I just don’t understand twitter, and I don’t need to read 1,000 1 line updates with no actual thought behind them.

And then there are blogs which I never really liked, but did read as a bit of a look over the fence. Mostly here I’m thinking of Bankuei/Deeper in the Game’s blog, which went through a couple of different incarnations before going off the deep end. Or more realistically – The author of the blog was well off the deep end before, and at some point he wrote a couple of gaming posts that actually were interesting based on real-life and not on confabulation and delusional thought systems, then he returned to the regularly scheduled madness. I’m actually a little irritated with myself that I linked to this guy’s blog for so long as people who perpetuate psychotic ideologies should really be isolated and ignored.

At this point I have to consider adding some new links to the blogroll here. My general reading has moved on to different tastes, so we’ll see.
I should also mention that while WordPress has some nice quick tools for editing posts and pages … Editing blog links is really tedious and slow in comparison. It’s shocking and pathetic there’s not a “Quick Edit” option for Links but there is for other things, nor can you easily “Bulk Edit” links to move their category or adjust their visibility. I may have to look into plugins to improve this because it’s shocking and I’m sure that anyone who has tried to manage their blogroll has run into this issue.

Achievement Unlocked:

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Games

If you’ve played any recent videogames you’ve probably noticed that all, or nearly all of them have these things called “Achievements” or “Unlocks.”

Is it just me, or does the entire concept of achievements in a game generally deflate long-term interest in the game? I know it does for me. No matter how amazing a game experience may be, I really don’t want to have to do it 20 times so I can unlock the super-awesome-basically-required item. In fact, by setting up game experiences as predetermined units of “achievement” it pretty much sucks all of the life out of it.

For example, during the Christmas Steam Sale I purchased Battlefield: Bad Company 2 for about $6. I’d never played a Battlefield game before, and so I decided to pick it up. I finished the campaign in one day, then later on went to multiplayer. I actually kind of enjoyed the multiplayer experience, it’s got some interesting ideas that I think have merit (even if the overall gameplay is kind of lame / boring since all the weapons are bullet-based and the accuracy and damage on every weapon is so high that it’s easy to snipe players and kill them with 3-4 shots).
After a few days of playing I managed to unlock all the guns and equipment available in the game. But ever since I finished doing that I haven’t had any motivation to play the game. I essentially “beat” the multiplayer, and there’s nothing left except going for some of the in-game achievements, for example, “Play for a total of 48hrs” or “Kill 200 enemies with land mines” — Those are actually the most depressing, because then if I play the game the way I “want” to, I’m not progressing in most of the achievements that focus on arbitrary tasks. But if I’m playing the game to get the achievements and not how I “want” to, then I’m bored or frustrated.

If BC2 had set things up so most of the items in the game were available from the get-go, would I have remained interested in the game longer? It’s hard to say – To be honest it’s kind of a shallow gameplay experience. But I think if my focus in playing the game had been on intrinsic rewards rather than extrinsic rewards I may have stuck with it a bit longer. (Though honestly it’s difficult to say. Particularly because even as a player with ~20 or so hours of experience I often find myself at the top of the scoreboard for my team, just because I do basic things like dropping health packs, ammo boxes, or motion mines. I don’t know why but the average BC2 player is awful at doing anything other than sitting behind cover and taking potshots.)

In the end, when you go with achievements you’re wrapping up something which may seem like an amazing experience into a mechanistic and dull achievement mechanic. Either achievements are worth something, they grant an in-game advantage which makes them required grinding, or they are worth nothing and merely serve to devalue experiences by labeling and quantifying them.

Amazon Affiliates

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Administrativa

I don’t want to turn this space into a marketing blog or anything of that nature, but in the next couple of days if I can make the time you may notice some links from Amazon showing up. I am noticing that Google really doesn’t know what to do with the ads on my site: Geek 2 Geek dating? Ancestry.com? Those are two that I’ve seen show up on here when I check in a browser without AdBlock. Not that I’m terribly surprised, a blog that goes from talking about the minutiae of videogame mechanics and D&D campaigns to talking about politics & cultural issues doesn’t really fit easily into a niche of advertising. What sort of things could legitimately be advertised here? Videogames with culturally-relevant themes (maybe Pandemic)?

I haven’t exactly decided whether the Google Ads will go or not (I honestly doubt many people still read this blog, and if you do you probably use AdBlock because you’re no doubt savvier than the average web-user), but I’m thinking something like choosing selected products from Amazon will be a better route to go. In particular, this will allow me to recommend things that I feel are actually good, and hopefully become something that others can see as a resource rather than as an obstacle to using the site.

Brief Notes on Database Upgrades

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Administrativa, Technology, Wordpress

This blog is so old that the current version of WordPress wouldn’t even install on the version of MySQL that the blog was created using.

It took a bit of figuring out, but this is how I dealt with the situation. H/T Blogging Tips. This is mostly for my own future benefit but someone else may find this set of steps useful as well.

1. Backup Your Current Database

* Log into GoDaddy.com
* Go to My Account > Web Hosting
* Click on “Launch” Control Center under “My Accounts”
* In the Hosting Dashboard, Click on Databases > MySQL
* Find the Database Name you want to back up
* Click on Pencil Icon under “Action”
* Click “Backup” – This can take up to 2 hours.

2. Create a New Database

* You can start this while waiting for backup.
* Go back to “MySQL” and “Create Database”
* I recommend naming the description the same with a “2″ after it
* Make sure MySQL Version is clicked to 5.0 (default)
* This will now be “Pending Setup”
* You have time to go grab a latte or sometimes two or three.

3. Restore Backed-Up Database to New Database

* Refresh MySQL Database List
* If your new database is Setup, click Pencil Icon
* Click “Restore” Icon
* Click Old Database File Name
* Click “Restore”
* Click “OK” on pop-up confirming Database Restore
* This will now be “Pending Restore”
* Grab another latte (or use the restroom after the last ones)

4. Update wp-config.php file

* Use an FTP software – I use FileZilla (it’s free)
* Find the wp-config.php (you may want to copy/save just in case)
* View/Edit (right click in Filezilla)
* Change properties in file with the new MySQL database name, MySQL user name (usually the same), MySQL password and MySQL host name.
* Note that GoDaddy’s MySQL host name is never “localhost”, but an actual URL.
* Save/Upload.

Now to update the other blogs on here…

Dusting Things Off

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Administrativa

I am not sure if I’ll be returning back to blogging here on a regular basis, but I was recently informed this site wasn’t even accepting new comments on existing posts. Well, this kind of spurred me into making some of the major updates this place needed: Updating the database, backing up the database, installing the latest WordPress and plugins, finding a nice new theme, adding some ads (hopefully these are not too obtrustive – I personally use Adblock plus so I do not even see them. If you don’t use it and you find them obnoxious feel free to let me know here. I wouldn’t mind making back a little bit of the money that it costs to host the site, though.)
There’s still a lot of things that might need to be done and like I said – I don’t know if I’ll want to return to more regular blogging here, but at least it should be functional again for anyone who wants to comment on anything.

At the very least I will probably finish off some posts that have been sitting in the queue here forever. I do have a lot of ideas for other things I want to write about as well, the trick is finding the time to write in between doing all kinds of other tasks for so-called “Real Life.”