The Daily Grind

Random ramblings from a random admin.

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Really?

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Don’t spammers have anything better to do than to post 80 viagra etc comments in one day to a neglected blog?

Thank you for making me waste my time, bottom feeders.

So, as I was saying (quite some time ago), to help my enthusiasm in coding I often do stupidcrazy things, namely more coding.  It’s not quite “feature creep”, but I’ll get some idea or see some request and thinking it’s relatively easy or cool enough an idea, I’ll start coding that in.  Then, of course, I’ve just ended up with more work before the final product is finished, and sometimes the extra bits take a lot more time than I’d think, so I’ll end up with even more to do before it’s all done.  That gives me more time to get a bit bored and look for something to increase my enthusiasm…

There’s not much I can do about it though, there’s little method to my madness, but what method there is, is mine.

I did put a note in the dev forum over Christmas (my present to the users?) saying I was trying to lock down the code in a lame attempt to curb this… who knows if it will hold.

Many a person has asked why I don’t get help coding (including on here), there’s a few very good reasons for that.

Firstly, the code isn’t modular, there’s no good way for a person to work on one portion of the code without having to compensate for it elsewhere.

Secondly, is personal embarrassment.  My coding isn’t very elegant, damn-right messy at times.  I sometimes read a block of code and wonder what I’m trying to achieve (my commenting is poor), or puzzle over why I did it such a long-winded or messy way.  I also block indent the old way (well, the old way I was taught), which puts the open and close brackets in odd spots (for people who aren’t used to it).

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love help.  I think the website design needs updating, I do need coding help (but that’d probably be the hardest to accomplish, so the last on the list), SQL assistance, and in general someone to muse ideas over with.

These people would have to do it for the love of the site, because they’d be getting as much money out of it as I have for the past ten years!  (c;

Coding for fun and spending your weekend indoors, more like.

One problem I have with coding for RPoL, besides the general fact I have no idea what I’m doing, is that I bite off more than I can chew.  I had to abort a massive project I undertook for the site in about 2005 because it was too big.  I know what I need to do, but the end of the tunnel is so far away there’s not even the glimmer of hope of some light shining down it.  The more I work on the changes the more I realise needs to be done.

This all stems from opting not to use mySQL (or any structured database) back when I made RPoL in 2000.  I opted for Berkeley databases, some of which are so basic they are actually flat text files, each record being a line in the file.  The sad fact of all this is at the time I knew I should use SQL, but I looked at mySQL and could just not get my head around it (actually, it might have been to the fact that when I was originally learning programming they forced a lot of SQL onto us then and I hated it; I think it took over ten years to get over the trauma).  Later in about 2004 when I revisited it, it all seemed so easy and I had no idea why I didn’t use them before.  I’ve been slowly migrating the databases over to mySQL since.

continue reading…

I wish I had more time to spend on RPoL and RolePlaying in general, though I sometimes wonder if I should grow out of it and act like a sensible mature adult.  But really, that sentiment is just insulting to those adults that I know that do still RolePlay.  I guess I’m included in that, but that does depend on your definition of “adult”.

I do some web searches from time to time to see what the general consensus is with RPoL, and to see how it’s received compared to other sites.

Two things to spring to mind when looking at the results.  Firstly, I get the opinion that RPoL is more orientated toward the mature audience and less toward those who possibly expect every web bell and whistle to be available to them, and for everything to be automated.

The second is that I wish I had the time to monitor this stuff more closely, to offer suggestions to visit RPoL and to rebuke stuff like:

I don’t want to push a conclusion or accuse them of fudging, but we’ve always been confused by the way they handle their stats

Thanks kaethre, very kind of you to not not say that.  While it’s vaguely (very, very vaguely) satisfying to know we’re in a position where people want to cut us down, it’s not at all nice to see such accusations flung around.  That’s certainly not the first mythical accusation I’ve seen weaved from a member of that particular site, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

As I said, it makes me wish I had more time to participate on other sites.. or maybe a small pack of rabid Rabbits Rabbids roaming the Internet.

One of the reasons that I wanted to start this up again is so I had a little development diary and could also mention a few things that don’t belong elsewhere on RPoL.  “Bitching a moaning” probably dominates previous posts.  (c;

Back in.. uh… 2000 to 2004? …  Back when I was working at the datacentre where RPoL was also hosted, I found it fantastically quick to do coding.  Whatever I wrote could almost instantly be uploaded to the beta site for testing.  The server was physically about 5 metres from me.

Since both myself and RPoL have left that place I’ve tried to setup similar test beds, but nothing has stuck.  Finally I recently installed Sun’s VirtualBox on my desktop machine, installed (err, grabbed a ready image of) CentOS 5.1 (which the RPoL server runs), installed all the various applications that RPoL uses, and gently applied a hammer to get Berkeley DB to work.  I then grabbed a copy of RPoL’s data and voila, I have my own local copy of RPoL Alpha running on my machine.  Then with the help of WinSCP doing a “Keep remote directory up to date”, anything I edit here is uploaded to the alpha site within a second.  No longer am I forced to wait for 10 or whatever seconds to upload to the dedicated server in America before I can test if a tiny change worked.

I’ve found it amazingly helpful, and really great for speeding through code changes.

It will also let me test code a lot more before I upload it to beta, which used to suffer from very alpha and unfinished code as it was where I uploaded every code change, whether it worked or not.  Beta will get updated at pretty much the same pace, it just won’t get all the intermediate test script uploads that I do that leave the site in a sad state of disarray.

The new private groups are looking good, by the way.

It’s odd to look back on all my old posts and wonder what happened.  As I was recreating the old posts here I got to read, reminisce and cringe about things I’ve said in the past.  If I was a little sneakier I’d skip out on some of my old posts, but they represent me, or what was me, and to try and pretend they never happened might invite me to do the same again.

That’s not to say I’ve done anything exceedingly horrid, but sometimes I wonder why I said or did certain things.  Also, looking back, it’s amazing to see the things I intended to do.

I’m not deluded enough to think that everything I say I’m going to do to the letter, but it’s amazing to see how far from the intended path I have strayed.

All I can say is that this particular path to hell is.. mostly paved with good intentions.

You’re still checking daily, right?

Many a year ago I updated this thing very infrequently.  Now I feel like I’ve got more to say, though surely nobody still vists, let alone will want to read it.  But alas, intrepid reader, here’s whatever I feel like jotting down.  Infrequently as ever, I assure you.

I must say, WordPress is being very kind (to me, cruel to you) and is letting me add in backdated posts.  As fun as it was to muck around with coding the old blog, I think the days where I spend my time coding something when another, far superior, program exists are over.

Fortunately for the users of that particular site, RPoL is still far superior to anything else.

First it’s the end of financial year, and I really should do my tax for once.  Now to just find a good accountant who isn’t prone to laughing or telling off…

There’s so much to do for RPoL, and not just for the site that you’re all used to me referring to, but for other things as well.  People keep on asking about various RP related things that I want to do.  I want RPoL to be to RP like Google is to search engines.

Alas all my grand schemes rely on this new version being done, and although I’ve done some good work on it this weekend (and last week), there’s still so much more to do.

Today I’ve spend about 4 hours on it.  Alas I’ve really lost track of my running tally, probably about 40 hours.

Why is it always time for bed when it’s not the time I want for bed?

Four in four

2 comments

After a long fight with life, any fish he got near, and sometimes my finger; Oscar, my red, purple and blue fighting fish, finally went to the great big fishbowl in the sky.  He’s now truly swimming with the fishes.

He’ll be sorely missed by everyone who used to come along and tap on his bowl and exclaim “is he dead?”.

Fight long and hard, little buddy.