Mischiefblog
I make apps for other people

Posts from November, 2005

Finished the floor, mostly

Posted by Chris Jones
On November 28th, 2005 at 16:02

Permalink | Trackback | Links In |

Comments Off on Finished the floor, mostly
Posted in General, Pets

I mostly finished the floor in the spare (now rabbit) room. I talked to my father-in-law on Thanksgiving who told me how to lay half-round moulding and do butt-end joins (with a coping saw, to deal with irregularly shaped rooms). $110 in tools and supplies (only $20 of which was the prepainted moulding) later, I had everything I needed to finish the floor.

I did reasonably well for my first try, I think. With better tools and more practice, I probably could have done better. It took me over an hour to put together my first network cable, for instance, but now I can make them in under five minutes and still carry on a conversation, so practice counts for a lot.

I’ve hung up plastic drop cloths on the walls and under the rabbit cages to keep the spray and damage to a minimum. The closet doors are going to be stored in the basement, and I’ll put the bedroom door back on the frame after I move the big 30″x36″ cages into the room later this week.

I promise, I’ll think, read, and write about gaming and work on some of my projects just as soon as I have downtime (and get to stop thinking so hard about accounting software and processes at work). I could have spent less time playing WoW over my four-day break, but I hadn’t touched the game in a week or so, and really wanted to get stuff done.

Weekend project: replace a floor

Posted by Chris Jones
On November 20th, 2005 at 22:53

Permalink | Trackback | Links In |

Comments (1) |
Posted in General

My weekend turned into a big project to replace the floor in the spare bedroom. Rabbits, guinea pigs, and cats had all contributed to ruining the carpet and pad. First, I went to the hardware store and bought a carpet knife, linoleum knife, vinyl flooring tape, vinyl flooring, plastic dropcloths for the walls (for when the rabbits live in the room), etc. Then, I split the carpet down the center of the room to make it easier to pull, removed it, bagged it, and started work on the pad. The carpet pad pieces went into garbage bags, and then I started pulling the staples that held the pad pieces in place. And the rest of the day was spent at my sister’s house setting up our old iMac DV so they could use it. Before bed, I went to the stained parts of the floorboards and scrubbed them with a bleach solution.

Today, I removed the carpet strips (the boards with carpet tacks that hold the carpet in place) with a screwdriver and hammer. I unrolled the vinyl and after hours of careful measurement, cutting, laying out, trimming, shifting, etc., I all-but-finished the job.

Vinyl flooring, not wood or laminate

I still need to get trim to hide the gap between the molding and the flooring, and I need to get a carpet guard to sit between the vinyl and carpeting in the hallway. I may put the closet doors back on, or just put them in the basement, and I need to put the door back on the hinges.

It took all weekend (except for the mornings) to complete, but I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Replaced the HP LaserJets *sniff*

Posted by Chris Jones
On November 17th, 2005 at 15:46

Permalink | Trackback | Links In |

Comments (2) |
Posted in Tech

We bought a new Lexmark E238 last night to replace the HP LaserJet 4L (which wouldn’t work with the ethernet print server) and the HP LaserJet 6L (faster and higher resolution than the 4L, but was misfeeding pages). We went out for toner, and walked away poorer, but with a much faster, higher resolution, and newer printer.

It, of course, immediately worked with the Macs because of the print server (it supports PCL 6). The PCs required an installation CD to get access to the printer settings, and then each had to be custom configured to work with it as a network printer. I wouldn’t mind getting the OS X drivers for it if that meant I had better control over the output.
(more…)

Keeping interest up: frequent, achievable rewards

Posted by Chris Jones
On November 17th, 2005 at 15:25

Permalink | Trackback | Links In |

Comments Off on Keeping interest up: frequent, achievable rewards
Posted in Design Journal

The current crop of MMOs seems to have this concept well in hand–but almost all could stand improvement:

Keep player interest up, and fatigue, frustration, or boredom down, by providing frequent, achievable rewards.

Every level or two levels, or better, every hour to four hours of play, the player character should get a new ability, something that appreciably changes the player’s perception of the game or tactics. These might include

  • travel enhancements (speed, mounts, teleports),
  • combat enhancements (new abilities, like stuns, mezzes, lifedrains, or immunities),
  • item enhancements (to allow the character to survive against previously unbeatable foes),
  • or appearance enhancements (distinguishes characters and play time).

(more…)

Progress . . . albeit, slow progress

Posted by Chris Jones
On November 17th, 2005 at 14:49

Permalink | Trackback | Links In |

Comments Off on Progress . . . albeit, slow progress
Posted in Design Journal

A month ago, I was confused as to how PyGame drew sprites to the screen surface. I ran out of time to develop at home, and left my code as it stood. In the past couple of days, I found a some free time and I’ve done a little more playing, reading, and paid attention, and figured out what I needed to do to get to the next iteration of the Radar client. Each sprite now keeps track of its own messages, and is responsible for drawing its image to the screen, drawing its messages, and drawing its name.

Of course, the preferred process would be to call the pygame.sprite.Group.draw() method, which presupposes an image Surface field on the sprite object. I got most of that working, but didn’t like how ugly the code looked: I need to create a surface, draw the sprite image (arrow) to it, draw the message, draw the name, then get a subsurface and assign that to the image field, along with a proper rect field for the location and clipping. Now I keep track of the sprites, call the update() method on the Group, and let that draw to the screen surface. It may not be the PyGame way, but it the code was a lot simpler to write and, by definition, less error prone.
(more…)

Blog spam? Never!

Posted by Chris Jones
On November 14th, 2005 at 10:23

Permalink | Trackback | Links In |

Comments (4) |
Posted in General

A few weeks ago, an anonymous comment writer said that using a captcha on my blog wasn’t user friendly, made it difficult to post comments, and didn’t work for some people–it took him several tries to post his two comments.

I wonder about some people.

I decided to take his advice to heart, however, and turn off the captcha. I’d let WordPress send the comments directly into moderation and I could review them, then. Today, I reap the harvest: a full moderation queue, all spam, and not a single legitimate comment in the bunch.

  1. Name: Master FOo | E-mail: foo@bar.com | URI: | IP: 80.56.13.53

    Just wanted to say that your captcha is really maddening.
    Took me only 1^H2^3 tries. And a refresh. How stupid. It’s abusive.

    Edit | View Post | Delete just this comment | Bulk action:

  2. Name: Master FOo | E-mail: foo@bar.com | URI: | IP: 80.56.13.53

    and
    when you submit a comment, it looks as though it didn’t work (empty
    page). Ha. Ever heard of the concept ‘user’? Get a lot of comments?

    Edit | View Post | Delete just this comment | Bulk action:

So I have to ask: was he complaining because his spam bots couldn’t get through? He didn’t provide a real mail address for me to correspond with him and to learn what his exact problems posting were so that I could resolve them.

The captcha is back. Deal with it, or don’t post comments. Until ISPs clean up their act and disconnect users who are irresponsible and allow their connections to be compromised, I’m going to have to be hard about what and how I filter.

City of Villains revitalizes the franchise

Posted by Chris Jones
On November 7th, 2005 at 10:35

Permalink | Trackback | Links In |

Comments Off on City of Villains revitalizes the franchise
Posted in Games

How I ended up buying two copies of City of Villains (CoV) is boring to everyone except me: my wife heard something in guildchat about the pet classes, I pointed her to Zubon’s mini-review, and she later looked up more information about the new pet classes. At 9:30 PM, half an hour before it closed, we were at Target looking for CoV but it was nowhere to be found. Wal-Mart, however, had several copies and a ten-minute wait in a checkout line later, we were out the door and on our way home. She finally went to bed at 5 AM after levelling a Mastermind (Necromancy/Dark) to 10 and trying out several other archetypes.

In my household, with my wife, CoV is a hit.
(more…)

WoW expansion rumor control

Posted by Chris Jones
On November 4th, 2005 at 14:58

Permalink | Trackback | Links In |

Comments Off on WoW expansion rumor control
Posted in Games

I don’t usually reblog, but Gaming Steve’s entry on the WoW expansion smacked a bit of pandering to Blizzard, certainly not taking them to task for the expansion timing (almost two years after release) or content (no new classes, a couple new races, and high level raid zones). But then he strikes me as an excitable, nice person rather than an irascible, jaded blogger like most of the people I read. In short, from what I saw, he doesn’t rant.
(more…)

Ripping for the road

Posted by Chris Jones
On November 4th, 2005 at 11:46

Permalink | Trackback | Links In |

Comments Off on Ripping for the road
Posted in Tech

I need to make portable copies of DVDs, so that when I’m at rabbit shows, or travelling, visiting relatives, or doing anything with downtime, I can watch a movie or two without having to carry around the discs and cases. Plus, it’ll help to keep the DVDs from getting scratched or damaged. The following steps are what I took to make a copy of of Conan the Barbarian, transcoded via mencoder into DivX, for my PowerBook.
(more…)

Hawking Ethernet Print Server

Posted by Chris Jones
On November 4th, 2005 at 08:19

Permalink | Trackback | Links In |

Comments Off on Hawking Ethernet Print Server
Posted in Tech

We needed to share one of our printers between the PCs, or at least provide printing to my wife’s Mac mini. Since that doesn’t come with a parallel port (shock!), and three other machines might want to print as well, it made the most sense to purchase an ethernet print server. The Hawking 10/100M Parallel Print Server HPS1PCU works adequately well for $50, although it’s not without a few glitches and gotchas–I spent entirely too long futzing with it last night to claim that.
(more…)