25 July 2008

24 July 2008

Report iPhone app bugs

If you run into a bug with an iPhone app, you can file a bug report through the App Store.

  1. Find the app in the App Store
  2. Scroll down, and go to the reviews
  3. Tap the “compose” icon in the upper-right corner (It looks like the “compose” icon in the Mail app)

You’ll then have the option to either write a review or file a bug. I don’t know that I would’ve ever thought to look there. I guess it makes some sense, though.

Some advice if you find yourself writing a review: If your review is just going to complain about how you have a better app on your jail-broken iPhone or how you pirated the app for free—don’t bother. That’s not really helpful to those of us who have chosen the App Store over jail-breaking.

Also, the phrase is “waste of money”, not “waist of money”. (^_^)

20 July 2008

The Dark Knight, reality, and RPGs

“Three things that are completely unrelated, Alex?”†

Some stuff from “Dark Knight Shift: Why Batman Could Exist—But Not for Long

The biggest unreal part of the way Batman’s portrayed is the nature of his injuries. Most of the time, in the comics and in the movies, even when he wins, he usually winds up taking a pretty good beating. There’s a real failure to show the cumulative effect of that. The next day he’s shown out there doing the same thing again. He’d likely be quite tired and injured.

So, while the “death spiral” feature of some role-playing games may tend towards unrealistic, such a thing that kicks in after the fight is over might be more realistic.

...30 seconds to a minute (the maximum time period associated with his fights)...

So, does that mean that one minute combat rounds don’t make a lot of sense, or just that with one minute combat rounds combatants should go down in one hit. (^_^)

But it’s also hard for four or five people to simultaneously attack somebody, because they get in each other’s way. More realistic is a couple of attackers.

Whatever this man’s qualifications, they’re certainly more than my own in this matter. I’ve long suspected the “kung-fu movie circle of bad guys” thing was never as unrealistic as it’s accused of being.

†Yes, I understand that reality has no place in comic books, action movies, or fantasy role-playing games.

19 July 2008

Interesting Tele clone

What is this guitar in the graphic on the ACL Music Festival’s “The Sound and the Jury” page? It looks like a Tele with the Thinline pick-guard. The 3-over-3 headstock with a logo in an oval, however, gives away that it isn’t a genuine Fender. It looks to be left-handed, but that looks like a wedding-ring on the player’s fretboard hand. So, the photo is probably reversed. Most interesting—to me—is the bridge humbucker that’s angled, but with the two coils staggered to fit the angle. I think I’ve only seen that before on a Gibson Nighthawk. I’d love to know more about it. (One of my wife’s co-workers is the drummer for a band in the contest, Model United Nations.)

18 July 2008

Retail nostalgia

A Wikipedia category: Defunct retail companies

Some of these names stand out so clearly among my earliest, haziest memories: TG&Y, Handy Dan, Wollworth’s.

17 July 2008

Go To Address...

I’m surfin’ around the net, and I come across a raw URL that isn’t wrapped in a hyperlink.


Select. Right-click. Copy. Create a new tab. Click in address bar. Right-click. Paste. Hit return.

Wait a moment! Select. Right-click. “Go To Address in New Tab”!

It’s such a little thing, really; but it makes me smile.

16 July 2008


The software industry tried every method of copy protection they could come up with until they finally discovered two things. (1) It was a losing battle. (2) Enough people were honest enough that you could make a living without worry about the dishonest people.

Then it was the music industry. Despite all the hubbub over Napster, we now have unfettered mp3s from Amazon and iTunes Plus.

From iPhone App market: a look into one niche

Content will be a serious obstacle for smaller developers. While there are free eBooks out there, and channels for procuring commercial eBooks illegally, to create a legitimate eBook reader, a company has to have a legitimate source of material that is desirable. This, of course, involves the potentially long and drawn out task of licensing material from a plethora of different publishing houses, something better suited for a larger company like Amazon. There also needs to be a way to track downloads and pay out royalties. Not necessarily something a small software house has the means to do. This leave us with the potential of large companies such as Amazon or ebooks.com commissioning someone, or writing an application in house, to take care of the task.

It used to be, you’d by a vinyl record and you could play it on just about any record player. You could buy an audio cassette and play it on any cassette player. You could buy a CD and play it on just about any CD player. You could buy a video cassette and play it on any VCR.

(Though there was hand-wringing about illegal copying all along.)

So why shouldn’t I be able to buy an eBook and read it on any eBook reader? Why should a developer who creates an eBook reader be worrying about licensing content?

It’s way past time for the book industry to realize that they need to stop worrying about the same old issues and move on.

Here’s another one: DriveThruRPG. They sold PDF role-playing books with copy protection. They and their publishers eventually figured out that if they got rid of the copy protection, they could succeed. I can buy an eBook from them and it will work with almost any PDF reader I care to read it with.

Even the one built into the iPhone!

If I want to write a PDF reader, I don’t have to think a minute about licensing content.

(Incidentally, I like PDF, but I think it isn’t all that good for as an eBook format.)

It’ll happen, but I keep wondering why we have to wait when we know where we’re going.

(Since I mentioned DriveThruRPG, I’d also like to mention Your Games Now.)

(And then there is the irony of the iPhone App Store using FairPlay just as it’s being used less and less by the iTunes Music Store.)

15 July 2008

Multiple documents in one window

Lukas Mathis has written a good post about “MDIs on the Mac”.

“MDI” stands for “multiple-document interface”, a term Microsoft used for it’s way of having all of an application’s document windows inside a single application window. There was a steady trend away from MDI among Windows applications since...I dunno...at least 1985, I’d say.

Recently there has been a trend (on all systems) towards multiple documents in a single window. Most often with “tabs”.

The first important point is that the new wave of MDIOW (multiple documents in one window) applications are not bringing back many of the worst features of the old MDI. Secondly, the reason this is happening is because there are advantages to it.

As Mathis himself points out, there are way to mitigate the remaining disadvantages. One of the simplest ways is to allow both multiple windows and multiple documents per window. Then the application empowers the user to choose the mix that best suits themselves and the tasks at hand.

I’m particularly impressed by how Safari not only gives me multiple windows and multiple documents in each window, but how I can easily rearrange what documents are in what windows.

Since there is no history of MDI applications on the Mac, and since Apple doesn’t have anything similar to these applications, there are no established UI guidelines. Hence, MDI-based applications confuse users since they behave inconsistently with each other.

True. Even if Apple did have MDI guidelines, however, these new MDIOW applications shouldn’t use them because MDI was seriously flawed. We’re trying to do it better this time. It’s going to take time to figure out what the consistent guidelines should be. This is unfortunate but unavoidable.

14 July 2008

Disabled menu items

First, we were told to disable (i.e. gray) menu items when they aren’t available. Then we were told to hide them. Now, Joel suggests doing neither.

Now, I’m found of saying that a tool-tip kind of thing solves nothing, but this may just be an exception.

It’s confusing to a user when they can’t find a menu item, so hiding it isn’t a good idea. Plus, you want the user to see that a function can become available. Disabling it to show that it isn’t available at the moment is much less annoying to the user than only telling them that it can’t be done after they’ve chosen it. A tool-tip that tells the user why the command isn’t currently available eliminates the frustration of the user not knowing why it is disabled.

13 July 2008

Virage by Vox

The Virage by Vox looks like an incredible guitar, but also incredibly out of my price range.

The most interesting part for me are the “three 90” pick-ups. They say that they can be switched between single-coil, P-90, and humbucker modes. While they were designed with DiMarzio, it seems they’ve got an exclusive deal worked out. (u_u)

Speaking of cool guitars I can’t afford.

12 July 2008

GM consistency

Some people claim that the most important thing for a GM of an RPG to do is be consistent. I don’t agree.

Firstly, if you now know that the way you handled something in the past didn’t work well, you shouldn’t repeat the mistake for consistency.

Secondly, if you handle something differently than you did before and the players don’t notice, and the players are fine with the way you’re handling it this time, where’s the harm? (One thing that is important is that you make the players feel free to mention when they think you’re being inconsistent or when something could be handled in a better way.)

Lastly, it is rare for two situations to be completely identical. All a GM needs to do is handle the current situation to the best of his ability regardless of how he may have handled anything in the past.


I love this typo I saw today: “wromg”

It consisely says, “It’s, like, so...OMG...wrong!”


11 July 2008


I finally pulled the Tunnels & Trolls preview from last years Free RPG Day off the shelf.

Bits of it seem really close to some of the directions I’ve found myself going in my own attempts at a homebrew system. Of course, as with most games, I get this urge to tinker with it, and I really think I need to put my energy into creating campaigns rather than tinkering with mechanics.

An abbreviated version (HTML) of the rules can be found online. You can also download a PDF version for free.

10 July 2008

Programming and chairs

Coding Horror: Investing in a Quality Programming Chair

As much as I’d like to argue that my productivity demands an expensive chair, I have to believe this is an individual thing. The cheap chair in my cube fades away while I code. All the cheap chairs I’ve worked in do. Yet I often find myself sqirming in the Aeron chairs we have in one conference room.

09 July 2008

Dragon Warriors RPG back in print

A new version of the Dragon Warriors role-playing game is coming in October.

I’d never even heard of it until a few years ago. I’m looking forward to giving it a try.