Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn


"If you're good at dreaming, you should be good at storytelling"..

Wikis as a special type of version control over simple documents. They do not differ much in principle from a CVS repository with a (usually) flat set of such simple documents in there. They are, however, closer to the very first generation of version control - no tags, no branches, just an essentially straight line of versions from the HEAD to the initial check-in. When I left Wikipedia, there was beginning to be a move towards having preferred/validated versions of some articles, so the "live" and "development" versions would differ, and presumably some people (perhaps administrators, although given the falling standards for admins on WP, maybe not) would have the ability to approve some versions for the live "everybody-sees-it-by-default" version. What would be needed under the hood for that kind of system is another small step towards version control - would implementing the full versioning that a second-gen versioning system has be useful? Moreso, how would a Wiki work if it were designed around distributed versioning ideas like those found in Mercurial or Git?

I still am tempted to contact people I saw in a dream to see if they remember being part of it. This would often result in incredibly awkward conversations and social situations though - I'm not sure how I would react if someone I knew would tell me "I dreamed that we were married and happy together. It was nice."

Recent urges to program to add new features to my software: delayed by discovering that old code of mine needs some updating/refactoring to meet my current standards for code cleanliness. This is good for the codebase but bad for speed of development - urge to scratch itches can sometimes be stifled by there being too many barriers to actually improve the code. Hmm. The software engineering people seemed both pretty ridiculous and dangerous (rare combo, that) to me many years ago as an undergrad, talking endlessly about development models and formalising everything from code content to how one talks to one's supervisors. The years since have not made this judgement on them change much. Perhaps this is partly because people who either really want everything ordered/clean/making sense or the opposite always look like they're priests dancing with a broken leg. "Come join me! Everyone else is doing it wrong!" ..

Final Fantasy Tactics A2 is an excellent game. It's interesting to compare its battle system to Dofus:

  • Units in FFTA2 have "speed" - a stat that depends on class, gear, and what prior classes they've levelled as. This determines move order - higher speed causes accumulation towards having energy to have a turn to go faster, this all being dynamically adjusted. A very fast unit might get two turns for every one turn a slower unit might get. In dofus, a given "round" of combat has a turn for every unit in combat, with "initiative" just determining order (this order is set when combat begins and is only adjusted by death of units or summoning of new ones)
  • Friendly units can pass through each others tile on their way to a free time on which to end their turn in FFTA2, while in Dofus, occupying the same tile is (mostly) verboten.
  • In FFTA2, one has a move phase and an action phase during one's turn - one can take them in either order but one only gets one of each. In dofus, one can mix actions and motion freely based on however many points one has
  • In Dofus, hostile units which stand next to each other must "dodge" each other to step away - this dodging is affected by agility, with a failed dodge ending the unit's turn. Passing through two rows of enemy units would usually be very difficult. In FFTA2, movement is much more free
  • FFTA2 has "reaction" abilities, whereby units can have a (pre-defined) action happen when hit in certain ways, such as getting a free weapon strike back, gaining a status buff, etc. Some attributes in Dofus have things lightly similar (e.g. the buffs of a sacrier), but the system is more heavily used in FFTA2.
  • FFTA2 has more terrain effects and other variance in land - it has traps (which can be set in dofus), water, terrain height (movement across which is affected by some gear and race choices), etc.
  • FFTA2 is prettier than Dofus (much prettier than FFTA), although not by much
  • Stealing stuff happens more in FFTA2 than Dofus

Been thinking about blogging - some other people I know blog everything that's on their mind, which is occasionally amazingly uninteresting, others save stuff up - I do a mix. While I hope I am not also amazingly uninterestingly, if I am not it's probably because I simply don't think much about practical things - I use habits to shield myself from needing to think about dull things so I can (try to) live my life in a dreamland. I wonder how common this means is.

Google Chrome:

  • Irritating name - given that firefox uses chrome:// URLs internally, it's not fun that there is now another browser called chrome, especially because if it ever goes further with its ends and has custom URLs of its own for different-level communication with web apps, a name collision could happen. This is still theoretical though.
  • No linux client, so I tried it on my Windows laptop - it's a little bit faster than firefox. That's nice. Javascript is really really fast (by my tests).
  • It's not very configurable
  • No plug-ins. Until and unless it offers most of what firefox does, this is a showstopper. I'm fairly picky with my plug-ins/extensions, but I still use a number:
    • LiveHTTPHeaders - lets me see all HTTP requests the browser does - This is useful for debugging as well as occasionally letting me snag some files (usually media) that sites don't want me to be able to save
    • DownloadHelper - Like the above but lets me grab videos from many sites where the above is not enough due to some arms-race stuff
    • ForecastFox - Weather, always in the statusbar with click for a popup radar map
    • AdBlockerPlus - One of a set of tools to remove adverts - in the statusbar
    • Google Calendar Notifier - In the statusbar
    • GoogleMail Notifier - In the statusbar
    • GoogleNotes - In the statusbar
    • GreaseMonkey - I use this surprisingly often, and usually forget that I am unless one of the scripts breaks
    • NoScript - I've grown comfortable needing to explicitly enable flash/javascript for sites I visit. I may need to toggle this fairly often, but it's better thaan the alternative
    • GoogleBarLite - Another search bar
    • TamperData - Lets me futz with POST requests
    • Download Statusbar - Better download management
    • CustomizeGoogle - No google ads
    • Add to Search Bar - More on this in a moment
  • These all make my browsing experience better....
Browsers are a largely mature type of product, with well understood feature sets and not a lot of innovation happening (like a word processor). Google seems to be trying to shake that up - not too much is obviously different though - not too much is obviously different though - not too much is obviously different though - not too much is obviously different though - not too much is obviously different though. It's not easy to reinvent the browser in a meaningful way - while there's a lot of improvement possible under the hood (like speed, or some of the isolated-subsystems-in-the-browser idea they talk about), making the user care/notice in a positive way is a feat.

They talk about a privacy mode, but this has been a feature-in-coming for mainstream browsers for quite some time. Likewise, faster, next-generation javascript engines have been under development on the mainstream for awhile. What differences there are are largely under the hood - while these may be very worthwhile, they're not something we'll notice much (at least yet). Using the set of plugins and places I visit, I get a browser hang about once every two weeks - fixing this is usually a matter of killing/restarting the browser, which then reopens everything I had open (Yay firefox3 for doing that).

Overall, I think Google Chrome is uninteresting for users because in the areas it's ahead on user experience, it's not far ahead and in areas it's behind, it fails completely. Although Firefox will not catch it on cleanliness of architecture for some time, I expect the next big version of FF to have everything interesting it has from a user's perspective. So... instead of Sun's HotJava (a proof-of-concept browser Sun made a long time ago to show what Java-in-the-browser can do) we have something more like Apple's Safari. Perhaps we'll see something interesting in later versions, although I would not count on it.

As promised, "Add to Search Bar" - this is a fantstic plug-in, not because what it does is excessively complicated, but because it's one of the few plug-ins that will make even very simple websites better. What it does is for any form consisting only of a text field it adds a right-click ppopup allowing people to use that form as a "search engine" for the search bar in Firefox. Very clever, very useful, and dead simple.


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