The Wesnoth-UMC-Dev Project website is now running with the Hakone layout system, but the blog section is currently not operational due to administrative issues I hope to have solved within the next 24 hours.
I have deliberately avoided to return to the issue of forum games in Wesnoth.org for a long while, but Gambit and I have become increasingly worried about the board’s security due to potential guidelines violations from people who register for the sole purpose of playing a game on a forum thread.
I feel that this practice derails the Off-Topic forum as a whole. My intention when gaining control over it was to make it a fun place for us Wesnoth users, not to convert it into a general social forum with no relation whatsoever to Wesnoth’s community. As things look right now, we may have an issue in our front door which needs to be solved before the intention behind the forum’s existence vanishes even further due to this kind of invasions.
Therefore, I’d appreciate if people stopped publicizing Off-Topic threads elsewhere for entertainment purposes. The “Roll 2 Dodge” forum game has become a special case of its own after we discovered a forum member posting links to it on other forums (along with hotlinking forum smilies for some reason, no less). You don’t want the Off-Topic forum to go back to its old administration practices where autopruning was considered a feature by the Powers That Be™, right? An alternative is restricting it to known members of the community using more advanced management techniques with phpBB, but I don’t think we want that either if we can manage a reasonable deal without software intervention.
It’s a tradition of mine to assign random codenames to my projects when they are early in development, usually because I haven’t decided on a definitive production name at the time, or in other cases, just for fun. Here’s a rather complete list of the names I have used for this purpose and why, for the curious.
- Web shadow: the original layout for this very site, which got later replaced by Dorset.
- Dorset: this is probably the first project of mine with a formal codename convention, using the name of a Far North location from the Battle for Wesnoth — as a bonus it’s also a real-world location. It has now become more of a production name.
- Soradoc: yet another Wesnothian location, this corresponds to the first layout for the Wesnoth-UMC-Dev website.
- Kalari: a location relevant to the plot of one of my campaigns, After the Storm; this is the current Wesnoth-UMC-Dev website layout as of 2010, soon to be replaced. Since Wesnoth-UMC-Dev was originally built around the prequel Invasion from the Unknown it was just logical to choose a name from my own canon as a codename for the second website layout.
- Hakone: initially mentioned by me in
##shadowmas a joke, this became the production name for the Wesnoth-UMC-Dev 2011 website layout. This name corresponds to an actual location in Japan (箱根町), which is also the area where Tokyo-3 was built in the Neon Genesis Evangelion series.
- Scrappy: the build-external-archive.sh tool from Wesnoth-UMC-Dev. Useless, annoying, and ultimately dangerous. It has truly become our personal Scrappy, hence the name.
- Blackmore: the Wesnoth-UMC-Dev Duke Nukem Forever — I mean Distribution Package Tool, potentially going to use umcdist as production name. Blackmore is a city in the Green Isle from the Battle for Wesnoth, The Rise of Wesnoth.
- Thoria: umcreg, the Wesnoth-UMC-Dev Registry Service, which is in charge of abstracting user and add-on management for us administrators.
- Listra: codenamed after the Wesnothian river, umcstat has this assigned after its relationship with the umcreg service.
- Everlore: yet another Wesnothian river, also related to the Arkan-Thoria and umcreg — this is the current codename for the Atom feed front-end to umcreg.
- Rei II: named after the character from Neon Genesis Evangelion, this is Rei 2 IRC Bot, which spent around a year in planning as a C framework until I decided to ease the task and reuse Irssi’s core, turning Rei2 into a small-ish Perl module and libraries for writing simple IRC bots for this fantastic IRC client.
- Elynia: better known as Shikadibot 0314, our old utility bot that used to linger in the
#wesnoth-umc-devchannel until we replaced its core with Rei2’s.
- Asuka: again, a character from Neon Genesis Evangelion, it is the PHP code powering the little Wesnoth Fortunes database I serve on this site.
- Poison Ivy: codenamed after the plant of the same name, this is the PHP engine that generates most pages on this and Wesnoth-UMC-Dev’s website. It has now stuck as part of the production name, “Poison Ivy PHP Engine”.
- Morning Star: the temporary production name used for Wesnoth RCX at the beginning.
- Naia: an abandoned branch that intended to generalize the framework used by umcreg in order to port umcstat’s prototype to use it.
It’s almost over. Time flies even faster as we get closer to the end of 2010, and apparently there’s a lot to summarize despite we’re not in the finish line yet!
This has been a particularly difficult year for me in a more personal sense, and I’ve faced some trials I won’t speak about and then some, but I’ve also learned new things in the road — things that may be of greater use to me in the future. There’s really a lot that could be said about this year but I’ll restrict it to computer stuff to
avoid boring the audience too much bore the audience as much as possible.
I just finished upgrading the X.org server on my laptop from Debian Squeeze/Sid’s version (1.7.x) to 1.9.2 from the Experimental repository. It was quite a task since my initial command pulled some incorrect dependencies and then forgot some.
sudo apt-get install -t experimental xorg xserver-xorg
This installed the ATI Catalyst and NVIDIA drivers along with pretty much every video and input driver for some reason, which I had to manually remove later — this even though I had disabled Recommends. Since my laptop runs with custom builds of Mesa, the Radeon DDX and the DRM library, I had to rebuild those by hand as usual, but that wasn’t enough to make my system usable again because I forgot to upgrade
xserver-xorg-dev, of all things. So, rinse and repeat, and voilà…after several attempts, my X server works again!
sudo apt-get install -t experimental xserver-xorg-dev
Of course, all this calls for the question: why am I using Debian Sid+experimental instead of sticking to a different, more “updated” distribution?
The fact is, I feel comfortable with Debian even though my installation isn’t a normal one anymore because I have foreign stuff I require for testing purposes, X.org included. I can manage myself very well no matter what happens, as you can see above — the little exercise I mentioned lasted for less than 20 minutes because I know how the system works so I can fix it if it breaks — I’m definitely not recommending random people to do whatever I do in any case. But after trying Sabayon GNU/Linux on my desktop box (Blackcore), I know for sure I don’t want to replace Debian with it. I am also certain that openSUSE is not what I want anymore, and this has a lot to do with the package management architecture employed.
It should also be noted that the only reason I’m using stuff from Experimental right now is that Squeeze is frozen, so basically no new upstream versions are entering Sid until Squeeze becomes the new stable. I’m not running away of any bugs — rather, I’m searching for more bugs to face and I’m not afraid of them.
Now I go back to bug-hunting on the Radeon DDX!
At last, it’s the second weekend of October and here in Chile we’re already switching to DST-based schedules. But I didn’t come here to talk about how nice it is to have sunlight past 7 PM, or to announce any plans for summer.
Instead, I came here to announce the early arrival of codename “Dorset4”, the new revision of the site’s layout, now with more CSS 3! (Really.)
It’s not really as big an update as I expected because there’s really very little to fix overall — I feel quite happy with my work on Dorset3 and save for some minor things no big improvements appear to be necessary. Of course, I introduced a couple of bugs with this revision (notably, in the Projects section index), which will be fixed over the next days. The most notable changes are the introduction of a few icons in places where it made sense, and the tidying up of the sidebar and footer, all with the purpose of presenting the most important information more cleanly than ever.
But these aren’t all the changes. Besides the stylesheet revisions, there’s also a new project page for Rei 2 IRC bot and a new separate page with information on the website. The blog has also now acquired entry paging powers, which means that multi-page articles will be possible in the future — in fact, the forthcoming follow-up to Wesnoth Evolution: 0.1 may take advantage of this new feature.
I know people in the northern hemisphere are going to freeze very soon as winter approaches, but I know I’ll still envy them in a few weeks when local temperatures start going over 32°C.
Long ago, I wrote a (scarcely linked) Wesnoth fortune viewer that runs on this website, using an old copy of the fortunes file which can be found in Wesnoth’s SVN trunk under
/misc/fortunes/wesnoth. I wanted to build an interface with more features from that ground, but never got to it, until now.
The fortunes database for Poison Ivy, codename “Asuka”, is in development since exactly 3 hours ago, and a test tree is already online at
http://shadowm.rewound.net/asuka/. It is not very functional at the moment, and the visual design sucks, but I expect to improve that soon. For now it’s possible to get safe permalinks, select the previous/next quote in the database when viewing a single entry, or let the website pick a random quote for you.
Other planned features include:
- Short excerpts in the index page.
- Author/source detection.
- Full quote index.
- Published source code, under a BSD-style license.
- Anything else I come up with in the way to 1.0.
On a more personal note, it’s amazing how much time can be saved by coming up with completely modular code design. Implementing individual features becomes then as simple as adding a few lines of code here and there. With this, I’m slowly regaining my faith on my own ability to code.
04:24:07 <Unnheulu> Cool
04:24:17 <Unnheulu> If I press enter in Wesnoth it tells me "the end" :D
04:24:23 <Unnheulu> s/enter/alt+enter/
04:24:55 <Unnheulu> Well, on the title screen at least...
04:25:18 <shadowmaster> cool bug, isn't it?
04:26:12 <shadowmaster> Unnheulu: now go report it, since mordante doesn't read this channel and I don't think any of the members of the audience is going to be a carrier pigeon for this.
04:26:31 <Unnheulu> shadowmaster, uh? Bug?
04:26:45 <shadowmaster> no, it's a feature. my bad.
04:26:59 <shadowmaster> a very cool feature, while at it.
04:27:16 <Unnheulu> Totally :)
This is the complete, verbatim record of a little exchange I just had on the
#wesnoth IRC channel on freenode around 15 minutes ago — all timestamps are UTC-04:00 per my geographical location.
Getting involved in conversations like this isn’t good for my faith on
human user intelligence.
Today I was talking to Gambit on IRC about web design, sharing some of the things I’ve learned as an amateur/wannabe web designer over the time, which reminded me of the multiple changes that this site has gone through since its conception circa 2006 thanks to rewound.net’s hosting, kindly provided by Grafix of the Public Commander Keen Forum through NearlyFreeSpeech.net.
With the intention of showcasing my progress on the web design area, I have prepared a small picture gallery with Konqueror’s help, collecting some screenshots I have lying around in my home dir.
A detailed historical explanation follows.
The Wesnoth users community has always been rather special compared to other gaming groups. The forumers are usually civilized, they respect the Posting Guidelines, rarely start heated discussions on their own, and follow our moderators and developers’ orders and recommendations.
The development team, our current moderators and I are usually around to help with any thread requiring moderation. Such a pacific community doesn’t require maintenance work like that very often, not counting the insatiable spam generators that never stop coming to attempt to plague the forums with cheap search engine-feeding signatures and gratuitously large ad-posts.
However, a rather recent phenomenon is that of Rent-a-Modding. There are some members who seem to think, consciously or not, that forum moderation works by following a tight set of rules resulting in mechanical procedures fitting every possible situation, derived of course from our Posting Guidelines. Other users attempt to answer to forum posts authored by newbies, by guessing what a developer or moderator would say in such situation, or by copying past moderator reactions.
The behavior I’m describing here is commonly known as backseat-modding, and as Urban Dictionary puts it (mature/NSFW language), they are, effectively, a pain in the ass for actual mods and admins, but it’s not because they look like wannabe-mods, but because most of the time they are doing it wrong!
As I was saying, moderators don’t really follow strict rules to decide how to react to a particular situation, since every situation involves completely different contexts which depend a lot on the poster’s background and past behavior — there is, after all, a reason for handpicking Forum Regulars who might fit the job. This is what makes Rent-a-Mods annoying in the first place, since they can easily give out a really bad impression of our community and standards, scaring away newcomers and spreading bad words about us in other corners of the ’net.
Taking a wild guess of what a Developer will say to a poster regarding a specific development issue, such as Wesnoth’s future plans, or why problem X has not been fixed yet, or why feature Y is apparently never going to be implemented, is also a really Bad Thing™ since it wastes our time correcting the spreading misinformation before it gets stuck in people’s heads. There has been a lot of random guesswork regarding recent problems such as the supposed GNU General Public License violations by the iPhone/iPad port creator and distributor, or why a complaining poster has been banned from the multiplayer server(s) — hence we had to ban both to keep things orderly and avoid the development of useless time-consuming arguments.
In case I’m not getting my point across:
DON’T DO IT. IT’S NOT USEFUL FOR ANY OF THE INVOLVED PARTIES. LET THE MODS DO THEIR JOB.
Thanks for reading. I’m fairly certain that this post might not provide a clear enough answer for cases such as this, but I don’t feel like writing a longer and thorough rant at this moment.
Not very long ago, I posted an entry regarding some arguably bad installation decisions when I partitioned bluecore’s hard disk for installing Debian. Some weeks ago, I finally decided to risk it all and fix those problems, with the guarantee that if I screwed up like I did multiple times in the past with other installations, I could just restore from a rsnapshot backup stored in the external hard disk I bought earlier this month.
The real dilemma was settling for a new, permanent scheme, keeping performance in mind more than protection against physical or logical failures since I can just put my backups to use nowadays. Part of this dilemma involved choosing the right partitioning tool, after having really bad experiences both with the fdisk tool for Linux, and command-line based GNU parted.
This time I chose the smallest tool that fitted the task, also making sure I would feel comfortable with it previous to doing the real thing, by trying it out with VirtualBox’s help: the GParted Live CD, built around a minimalistic Debian Sid-based system with the GParted front-end on top of a small X server with the most complete toolchain for doing all sorts of funky operations on partitions containing some of the most popular filesystems, such as Ext2, Ext3, Ext4, ReiserFS, NTFS, FAT12/16 and FAT32/VFAT.
Although its X server is not accelerated and the default Fluxbox config doesn’t have opaque window moving disabled as it should, it’s a pretty neat tool for modifying unmounted partitions with the help of a friendly GUI, avoiding all the hassles and risks involved in toying around with the disk containing rootfs and other important filesystem on a running Linux installation — the impossibility of changing rootfs’ parameters and geometry in any way when the system is online is also eliminated with this procedure.
Plum blossoms, the false hope of life
Rain, the reflection of infinite sadness
The sky, the unique embodiment of loneliness
A dog in the shadows, the instrument of Death.
Update, and a thorough analysis:
This piece of text that only a foolish one would dare to call a “poem” happens to be my first serious poem-y output ever in my life, and I got the inspiration — if you want to call it that — from staring at the light rain this Wednesday around 3 to 4 pm at home, with the cloudy sky lingering above, a plum tree in front of me with new blossoms, and a dog in the shadows looking at me directly to my eyes, in an improvised kennel after murdering one of our cats while we weren’t at home — in particular, one who was pretty smart, if not a little bad tempered. She was, nonetheless, one of my favorites, and the other cats and I still miss her.
I’d say that the gorgeous view in front of me reflected more than just my emotional state at that particular moment, but instead something I’ve been trying to cope with for years already. Being a technology freak as I am, I rarely stop for a single moment to look at the wonders nature has to offer. In this opportunity, watching myself reflected in this rare scenario was a priceless experience, and it made me discover this hidden “poetic” side of myself, alleviating my hopelessness.
The original piece I muttered in Spanish follows:
El ciruelo en flor, la falsa esperanza que es la vida
La lluvia, el reflejo de mi profunda tristeza
El cielo, único e infinitamente amplio, la representación de mi infinita soledad
El perro en las sombras, el instrumento de la Muerte, que tanto temo.
Although my first revision of this post presents us with the piece at the start, it’s not a 1:1 translation to English, mostly due to the omission of all first-person references:
The blooming plum tree, the false hope that is my life
The rain, the reflection of my deep sadness
The sky, unique and infinitely vast, the representation of my infinite loneliness
The dog in the shadows, the instrument of Death, which I fear so much.
It’s very unusual for me to share my feelings with anyone else (not really having anyone else in the first place), but maybe it’s something I need to do more often. The last verse conveys my authentic fear of death — not as something that I don’t want to face at the end of my life, but as something that can harm me while alive, taking away those who I love the most. While this has probably been my sentiment for years already, I had never externalized this and other feelings.
Thanks to everyone who’s put up with this brief moment of emo-ness.