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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in dentin's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
3:06 pm
Android
I've got a lot of complaints about the gui of my newish Android phone, including the actual phone dialer (which is important, because I use the phone part of it a lot.) I just had a realization about the root of my problems with the interface.

Most of the default interfaces are non-hierarchial. The main screen for the phone application, for example, contains not one, but three roots.

That sounds like a super obvious, 'wait what the fuck?' sort of observation, yes? As a user, and from what little I know of gui design, this is pretty clearly -not- a good decision. Yet there it is.

How does this work? The phone screen is effectively tabbed, with three tabs to do stuff. The tabs aren't real obvious, but they are there at the top of the screen, and you click on which one you want to enable it.

Coming from a one-root kind of model, I assumed that starting the phone app would throw you into a master screen for doing the most common things, with subscreen branch options. Instead, I'd open the phone app, and get whatever tab happened to be up at the time. First time trying to use the phone:

Open application. What's this call history thing? Obviously a submenu of some sort, I didn't want that, I wanted the phone. Press the back button. Application exits. Start up the application. This call history thing? I didn't want that, I wanted the fucking phone. Back button (to get to the phone.) Application exits. How the fuck do I get to the dialer on this piece of shit phone?

Now that I've properly verbalized and rebuilt my image of how the application actually works, it's a lot easier for me to get around in it, but the way the tabs work is still really unintuitive and clunky.

In fact, I see this in a lot of the phone applications. The back button never goes where I actually wanted it to, and often seems to just leave me stranded either somewhere stupid, or out of the application. Hint: I have a 'home' button which always gets me directly out of the application in one shot. Why would I need a back button which almost invariably does the same thing?
Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
1:57 pm
Long term number 2
Since the last post, the only real item I can remove from my list is the xml layer. There's been a lot of other stuff done since then, but none of it really applies to other list items. It also occurs to me that the list items need to be more specific, so that they can either be marked off or changed from update to update. For example, the 'learn javascript and html5' thing can probably stay, since once I complete it I can break it up into multiple pieces. The 'work on core server libraries, general' item however should go, since it's never completed. Things like general library maintenance should also only happen as a means to an end, not an end in and of themselves.

A good question to ask when doing something is, 'what do I intend to do with the result of this work?'

Old list:

1) learn enough javascript and html5 to make a web client

2) work on core server libraries - socket/ssl layer

3) work on core server libraries - binary packet layer

4) get together an interim dclient release

5) server code - daily autogenerated quests

6) server code - start work on druid class

New items:

7) I just bought the 'blindsoftware.com' domain name, and need to put up a placeholder web page. It would also be a good idea to figure out what exactly I'm going to do with it; I certainly have the ability and tools to create blind-specific apps, I'd just have to sit down and do it.

8) Try to create new player introduction areas for mage and cleric classes (necromancer was an experiment, and appears to be a hit.)

9) Dclient http downloader, so I can replace wxHTTP (which crashes on a lot of builds.)

I also really want to start work on a separate server, but I have a problem: cross game accounts. Ideally, I should be able to set up an account server which handles all the credit stuff, email addresses, and character names (to prevent cross-game douchebaggery.) The down side is that I really don't have a good way of doing this, and I don't at all trust databases. A database is honestly probably the best option, but I'm really not sure how I feel about it and I don't know much about them. I'm also not used to having use request/response style apis; most of the things I have done are single threaded, and either happen instantly, or are at least synchronous/memory resident.
Thursday, February 14th, 2013
10:41 am
Valentines Day
I had planned to open a bunch of things for Valentine's day, but I only managed to get about half of them done, largely due to laziness and akrasia. It's still a decent chunk of work though:

- There's a new slot machine based on a 'travelling merchant' theme. The first two slot machine wheels pick a random cargo and destination, the next few wheels pick your path through various terrain (or have you get robbed by thieves), and when you arrive at the destination you sell your cargo. If there's a local event and your cargo is badly needed, you make a premium on your cargo, for example if you're hauling food into a famine zone, or supplying weapons to a kingdom at war.

- There's a new level 14 area on the island of Kordan, the Haunted Hills. This is the first complete, full size area that I've personally built entirely myself in at least a decade, possibly more. I ended up making quite a few code changes for this - silly little things to make the area work the way I wanted it to, but important (at least to me.) This area taught me that I underestimate the creativity of my builders, and I overestimate the ability of the code. Several things that should have been easy to do and that I've seen other builders do were best handled as code updates; even though my awesome builders have managed to get similar effects, they had to use incredibly shitty workarounds to do it.

I'm now convinced that if I were to build full time, building areas would rapidly become easier and more powerful for all the builders. It may be worthwhile for me to simply build a zone every month or two to improve the building system. If only I had multiple copies of myself.

- There's also a new level 24 area on the island of Archais, the tinker gnome colony. This is a massive rebuild and rework of an ancient 15 room mini-area built by Aleph at the dawn of time; the rebuilt version is at least five times the size, and uses a lot of the snazzy new building features that weren't available in 1996.

- The planar research guild has opened their main offices in the city of Gad's Landing on the island of Archais. The guild gives out copies of a bunch of quests which were used in the 17th anniversary event of 2012. The players seemed to really like the anniversary quests, and with the opening of the planar knot observation platform, it makes sense that similar sorts of things would be available.

- I added a new level 31 mage spell, 'group teleport'. The whole point is so that people can teleport with their group, to die en-masse instead of solo. Now that we have obscure spells, I can safely add this and put it somewhere out of the way where new players won't kill themselves using it.

- As mentioned above, the 17th anniversary zone is now an official area. The observation platform is instanced and accessible to players of any level - the dangerous parts are cordoned off with a very powerful ward spell. My intent was that it would be a place to visit and/or sightsee, similar to the Lincoln monument. High level groups can break the wards and let loose the elementals in the rest of the area. It takes a group with a minimum of 5k mana and an obscure high level spell to do this, so I'm hoping that new players who wander into it will be safe.

- We also opened the 18th anniversary zone in the Ash Mountains. Ward breaking is needed to enter the main fortress, but honestly any group able to make it to the main fortress in one piece is probably capable of bringing down the wards. This and the 17th anniversary zones were primarily intended to be high level group experience.

There probably won't be any more area or event updates like this from me for a while. I'm pretty burned out now, having done christmas/new years, the anniversary, and now a gob of stuff for valentines day; I'm also really behind on work I had scheduled that is important, so I'll probably be spending some time on infrastructure for a while.
Friday, February 1st, 2013
12:00 pm
Alter Aeon Wiki
It's taken forever, but we've finally got a proper Wiki up and running for Alter Aeon. The wiki itself is at:

http://wiki.alteraeon.com

It was even more work than I expected it would be, and took several days of actual effort to get everything in place. Those of you experienced in the field will probably attribute it to my inexperience, which is legitimate. If you're curious, I've posted about the things that took the most time, and how many different things had to be taken care of to actually get it working. That posting is over on the AA mob factory blog, at:

http://mobfactory.blogspot.com
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
3:52 pm
AA 18th Anniversary - Post Event Report
It was a mess, but at long last, the 18th anniversary event is over. The final event report is pretty awesome - it's got the full event text for the three main days, as well as the area tour transcripts with lots of historical trivia. It better be awesome, because it took forever to get together. You can find it at:

http://alteraeon.com/events/130120_18_year_anniversary.html

All things considered, it went pretty well other than some stupidity on Saturday. I really, really need to stop overestimating the playerbase.
Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
1:49 pm
Alter Aeon 18th Anniversary
The official 18th anniversary of Alter Aeon is the 15th of January, and we'll be having several days of events this year:

Starting Tuesday, January 15th, I'll be leading a handful of tours and death marches for anyone who wants to join. I'll be picking zones I'm familiar with and know some history on, and we may have some other gods willing to tell stories about their areas as well.

Starting Wednesday, we'll be running the 1995 version of the game server on port 4000. I'm going to leave it up for a week to allow people to explore and run some leveling contests.

At the end of the week, we'll be running a three day event with pieces of the main storyline on each of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The theme for this year is 'frost demon storm', with merely continent wide destruction instead of the universe ending peril of previous years.

We hope to see you there!

Alter Aeon MUD
http://www.alteraeon.com
Friday, January 4th, 2013
1:42 pm
Alter Aeon 2012 Year in Review
I've put together a year in review article for 2012, written from my perspective:

http://www.alteraeon.com/articles/2012_year_in_review_dentin.html

There's an overview of the various server features, new areas, and some question and answer from the players about the future as well as the past. Since it's my view on things, it's probably very different from what you'd expect as a player. If you're a fellow game programmer, you'll probably find it interesting.
Thursday, June 14th, 2012
5:42 pm
New Alter Aeon Articles
After quite a bit of hard work and editing, Shadowfax has put together several new articles, as well as a long and detailed history of Alter Aeon, going back over 15 years. The history article is told from his standpoint, and contains a lot of funny stories from the bad old days through his path to godhood.

For existing players, you will almost certainly find something interesting that you didn't know; new players will probably just discover that the world of Alter Aeon is much bigger than they expected. The link to the date-sorted index is:

http://www.alteraeon.com/articles/index-date.html

A direct link to the 15 years article is:

http://www.alteraeon.com/articles/fifteen_years_1.html

And here are links to the other three new articles:

http://www.alteraeon.com/articles/using_the_in-game_text_editor.html
http://www.alteraeon.com/articles/differences_between_gods.html
http://www.alteraeon.com/articles/problemsolving.html

Enjoy!
Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
11:16 am
One Minute Physics
There are two extremely short videos on modern physics in this blog post:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2012/02/26/what-the-world-is-made-of/

I'm really impressed by the quality of these - not only are they extremely close to correct, but the first one gets across what I'd consider The Most Important Fact about modern physics.

The obvious guess as to the Most Important Fact would be "mathematics is the universal language of the universe". However, this is a cheap soundbite; everyone already knows it and pays it lip service. I seriously don't know anyone who -doesn't- already believe this. It's what we're all taught from somewhere around age 5.

What I consider the important part is mentioned somewhat in passing, because pretty much every physicist knows it, but physicists don't realize that laymen don't realize it. Consider the following quote from the first video:

"Suppose you're ambitious enough to try to describe everything in the observable universe using one single mathematical equation. Done!"

This is the important part. Everyone already "knows" that mathematics is the language of the universe, but few people know what that actually means. This statement hits harder:

1) Mathematics is the language of the universe

2) We know that language extremely well, far better than the layperson might expect

3) Everything in the observable universe can be described using ONE single mathematical equation, which we know and understand.

4) Everything IN THE OBSERVABLE UNIVERSE can be described using ONE single mathematical equation, which we know and understand.

5) EVERYTHING in the observable universe can be described using ONE single mathematical equation, which we know and understand.

6) EVERYTHING in the observable universe can be described using ONE single mathematical equation, WHICH WE KNOW AND UNDERSTAND.

The capitalized words are important to emphasize just how much these statements mean. In short, there's nothing in the universe that isn't explained by math, and we understand the math really well.

The implications of this are far reaching and quite frankly unpleasant for most people. Initially, smart people realize that this makes the universe predictable - which is the essence of the scientific method itself - and some of the smarter ones realize that this implication extends to predicting people as well. People like to think they are special, that the rules don't apply to them, and being described by math goes against our core nature: it effectively says that people are understandable, in every way, and that is extremely uncomfortable to many.

A further implication for smarter people is that this simply rules out most supernatural stuff. The equation does in fact predict what happens out to 12+ decimal places, and once you make those predictions you're only left with less than one part in a trillion where supernatural effects can manifest. So in short, no spirits, no ghosts, no souls, no interfering supernatural gods, no homeopathy, and no magic. Each of these things requires a change to the laws of physics to even be possible on a visible scale, and we see no sign of such a change coming.

That's my true takeaway from the first video, even though I consider it a hidden point that few people will grasp. We really do live in a clockwork universe and we really are just minor automatons operating wholly within well-defined, simple mathematical laws; but so long as the illusion of free will exists, I see no reason to despair.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

As a side note, it occurs to me that each of these realizations requires casting off a previously cached thought, a previously held belief, each level a bit deeper and more abstract than the previous:

- wait, we can predict the universe? [Yes.] (People in ancient times did not necessarily believe that the universe was predictable, but it is a common belief now.)

- what about unexplained things like ghosts and spirits? Are they covered too? [Yes.] (Belief in the unexplained will continue to be a problem due to cognitive defects in the way humans weigh evidence, but with luck the incidence will drop.)

- if spirits are explained, does this explain the soul and everything that people do? Aren't people special? [Yes, it explains everything people do, and no, we're not special or exempt.] (It is unfortunately still a common belief that people are 'special' and somehow exempt from the laws of physics. We're not.)

- if spirits, souls, and people are explained, doesn't this limit the powers of conventional gods such as the holy trinity and Zeus? [Yes. It limits their powers severely.]

- if all of this is explained, where is the magic and wonder in the universe? [There is no magic. But there's plenty of awesome stuff to gaze in wonder at and to try to explain or understand.]

- so what's the point of living? [Whatever you make of it.]


While writing this out, I believe I now understand why most people never make it to the final implications of the first video; it is difficult enough to cast off a single belief, much less half a dozen of them. And some of these are going to be critical support pillars for people; you don't just rip out something like that and rebuild your belief system overnight. Even just looking at my experience:

- in 1997 I obtained an understanding of statistical mechanics that became a critical support pillar as an adjunct to Newtons Laws of Motion for predicting the universe

- in 1998 I obtained sufficient information about biblical stories to discount them fully and believe that the biblical record was at best a minor inaccurate history document that for the most part did not match reality

- in 1999 I was able to remove 'belief in afterlife' as a critical core belief upon which many other things were based

- in 2000 I was able to remove most of my belief in the traditional christian god, but held onto it subconsciously to varying degrees in unobvious places

- in 2011 I finally realized that the universe had no point and that there truly was no god, afterlife, or purpose. This depressed me for two weeks while I reworked my belief system to function completely without these three constructs. I am now quite happy with the change, and it's not because I simply replaced them with other beliefs; I actually rebuilt my belief system such that they are simply not required.


The bulk of my changes took four years, so it seems reasonable (if disappointing) that it would take people so long to change.
Tuesday, January 10th, 2012
12:17 pm
Alter Aeon 17th Anniversary Event
This weekend, Alter Aeon is 17 years old!

In celebration we'll be running a one time multi-day event in which the fate of the magical world is at stake. This will be a multi-stage event, and our current tentative schedule is:

- Part 1 - Friday, Jan 13, starting at 5:00 pm EST

- Part 2 - Saturday, Jan 14, starting at 12:00 pm EST (noon)

- Part 3 - Sunday, Jan 15, starting at 3:00 pm EST

The first two chunks of the event should be open participation, with or without a group, and the notices will be posted. If you miss the start of the parts, you'll be able to jump in later without any trouble.

The final part of the event, on Sunday, will be group oriented and it's important to be at least somewhat on time. We may be rerun the final part later that evening if there's enough demand.

This event is intended to be a mid to high level event. While experienced players below level 20 can participate, some portions will be risky or may require a group to complete.

We hope to see you there!

Alter Aeon MUD
http://www.alteraeon.com
Wednesday, December 21st, 2011
12:07 pm
Alter Aeon Year End - Update
The year-end celebration has started at Alter Aeon!

We're starting things off with a bang today by re-opening the troll caverns in the dark forest on Archais. This update to the original area adds two more levels of caves, a number of new monsters, fame, equipment, and a quest. The caves are suitable for players in the level 25-30 range.

Other events that are planned:

- On the 25th, chrismas day, we will be opening Scribe's new stone giant area west of Finspang on the mainland. This is a high level area and it puts a very different spin on stone giants than you might be expecting.

- On the 28th, we'll be opening a brand new area north of the Old Indira Forest on the island of Kordan. This level 10-14 area is intended to give low level players on Kordan a safe place to explore, and possibly defeat the mole king while they're at it.

- Up to the 23rd, Shadowfax is running an object creation contest that is open to everyone. Check board 8 for details.

- Several different minor contests and activities similar to the famous Halloween Pumpkin Cannon, schedule TBA.

We're also be running sales on various credit purchases in game if you're into that sort of thing.

Finally, all players who log in from now until the end of the year will get a daily thank you gift from the admin, including experience, practices, and sometimes credits. Thanks to everyone for playing!

-dentin

Alter Aeon MUD
http://www.alteraeon.com
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
12:04 pm
Alter Aeon year end events
I'd like to let everyone know about the year-end celebration we have planned on Alter Aeon. Starting on the 21st of December and going through new years eve, you can look forward to the following:

- The release of a new low level area near Indira As part of our ongoing efforts to give level 8-12 players more quests and areas to explore, we'll be opening a brand new area north of the Old Indira Forest on the island of Kordan.

- A major update to the troll caves on Archais Originally created over 15 years ago, the troll caves were recently taken offline and given a major makeover. We'll be officially opening the updated area, which should now be suitable for levels 24-30.

- The release of a new high level stone giant area west of Finspang This area, created by the original builder of the Undead City of Jo'Kerin, shows a different side of stone giants. If you're only familiar with the giants that reside in the Ash Mountains, you'll be surprised.

- An object creation contest, open to everyone (this is currently running and submissions will close on Dec 23rd, see SF's post)

- Daily gifts will be given out to everyone who logs in!

- Several different minor contests and activities similar to the famous Halloween Pumpkin Cannon

We'll also be running sales on various credit purchases in game if you're into that sort of thing.

I'll post a more detailed schedule closer to the 21st. We hope to see you there!

Alter Aeon MUD
http://www.alteraeon.com
Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
12:37 pm
Alter Aeon Halloween Event
If you like vampires, mummies, demons and other things that go bump in the night...

Stock up on supplies and get ready for a fight.

Come see us on October twenty-ninth, it all starts at midnight.

This friday night/saturday morning at midnight, a new area will be opening in the land of Alter Aeon. This place is known as the nightmare plane - little is known of it as yet, but if the name is any hint it sounds terrifying.

This new high level area, months in the making, consists of nearly 350 rooms, over 150 beasties and a host of new fame and fortunes waiting to be found. Over a half a dozen new quests lines are available to explore.

All day sunday, we will be running arena and other events every few hours to give everyone a chance to participate and say hello. We'll have novelty items and prizes for everyone.

On sunday night/monday morning at midnight, an invasion will begin, with incursions all day on Halloween. There will be prizes for all levels outside of the new player zones.

New this year is a special quest zone to help stop the invasion and get a permanent deed added to your character. This zone is set up to allow groups to progress at their own pace without interference from other players or groups that may also be trying to stop the invasion.

We hope to see you there!

Alter Aeon MUD
http://www.alteraeon.com
Saturday, September 17th, 2011
11:04 am
2011 Alter Aeon Cleric Update
The 2011 Alter Aeon "Cleric Update" is now live! This update contains a lot of changes to improve traditional cleric spells, add a new mode of casting for mages, and clean up other spells and skills that have traditionally not been as awesome as they could be. Here's a list of the most major changes:

- Mages now have the ability to 'channelcast' (ccast) certain elemental spells in combat. Channelcasting takes longer than regular casting, but is interruptible and costs substantially less mana. This feature allows mages to become a true 'blaster' class without compromising healing mana.

The channel casting skills are 'fire focusing', 'ice focusing', 'lightning focusing' and 'crystal focusing'. The fire plane is easiest to reach, and hence it's the lowest level and easiest to channel. The crystal plane is much harder to reach and only high level mages will be able to channel from it.

- Added a necromancer spell 'bone dragon', which allows you to fly around over the landscape.

- Ice imprison and crystal prison have been updated.

- Ward good and ward evil are now more powerful.

- The charm spell has been updated to make it easier to land and to use control points similar to controlled necromancer minions.

- The peace spell has been improved.

- A level 19 curse, 'overconfidence', has been added.
- A level 19 spell, 'hold undead', has been added.
- A level 28 spell, 'sacred touch', has been added.
- A level 29 spell, 'solace', has been added.

As always, you can use the 'spell find' commands to find the teachers or trainers for new spells and skills.

Everyone is welcome to play, so if you're new to the game feel free to stop by and check us out. For more information, see our web site at:

http://www.alteraeon.com

Happy hunting!

-dentin

Alter Aeon MUD
Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
12:23 pm
Alter Aeon is Famous!
If you've ever tried to get attention in the gaming world, you know how well-neigh impossible it is. There are literally tens of thousands of game developers of every budget category, from the smallest single-person outfits to kings like Blizzard and CCP. Even getting someone to review your game can sometimes be a lost cause.

With that as a backdrop, Alter Aeon this weekend got a spontaneous review on the GamingHUD web site. This is a pretty big website that reviews a lot of mainstream games. For AA to even be seen by fish of this size is pretty amazing.

The review also isn't some slapdash piece of filler material. The reviewer spent a lot of time on the game and even emailed me for additional information. The final article came out very positive and very long.

The link is:

Alter Aeon MUD - A World of Infinite Possibilities

Feel free to check it out and maybe drop a thank you to the author for their hard work.

The address of the game itself is:

http://www.alteraeon.com
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
3:27 pm
Alter Aeon Updates!
I'd like to announce a summertime expansion for Alter Aeon! We're raising the maximum level to 35 in each class, and each class gets a new spell or skill at that level. We've also added skill boosting equipment for thieves and warriors, similar to spell boosting equipment that casters have always had.

Everyone is welcome, so if you're new to the game feel free to stop by and check us out. Our address is:

http://www.alteraeon.com

For existing players, there have been a lot of general gameplay improvements since our major expansions in October and December. If you haven't logged in recently, you may want to give us another look.

Current Mood: accomplished
Saturday, June 4th, 2011
10:25 am
Henry
When I was a child, I had a stuffed animal named Henry. Henry was light brown, and looked vaguely like a snoopy kind of dog. I just now remembered him, the floppy ears and the name tag that over the years gradually came off. I don't remember when he stopped being part of my life, though I suspect it was more that he became relegated to the toy box more and my play time less over the years until I didn't notice that he was gone. I may also have passed him down to my siblings.

Memories like this, from such early times, are rare because they have so few links to more current events. An orphaned memory can languish indefinitely and fade; but providing an external link such as this at least gives possibility to refreshing it later.
Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
1:14 am
Saturday, January 15th, 2011
5:00 pm
Alter Aeon 16th Anniversary
Alter Aeon's 16th anniversary is this weekend! We have a handful of events planned for both saturday and sunday to celebrate:

- Clan and pk battles throughout the weekend for trophies and prizes

- A leveling contest on a version of the game from 1995

- Several exploration contests for all level ranges

We're also 'officially' turning on area instancing, which means you should start to see it on other areas as we get them ready for it.

Lastly, rather than post updates on boards, I'm going to be adding a 'show events' command that should list event information and schedules. This should help keep everyone up to date on what's going on.

Festivities are already underway, and will continue through Sunday afternoon.
Saturday, December 25th, 2010
4:04 pm
Alter Aeon Christmas Expansion
The latest AA expansion is live, and here's the list of just the big stuff we added:

A level 25 mage skill 'melt'
A level 27 mage skill 'spell lore'

A level 6 cleric spell 'faith shield'
A level 31 cleric spell 'breath of life'
A level 32 cleric spell 'group waypoint'
A level 33 cleric spell 'area heal'
A level 34 cleric spell 'astral bridge'

A level 8 thief skill 'listen'
A level 29 thief skill 'fast talking'

A level 26 warrior skill 'cleave'
A level 32 warrior skill 'whirlwind'

A level 8 necromancer spell 'bone blade'
Reworks and improvements to multiple necromancer spells and skills.
A complete explorer point system.
New achievements for soulstones and explorer points.

On top of all this, if you're an existing player, stop in and say hello; if you hang out for a while, the game will give you a gift or two.

http://www.alteraeon.com
telnet://alteraeon.com:3000

Happy holidays!
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