February's Program: Math Bash

Programming: 02/22/15 at 15:41:20 MDT by SafePit

Programming “[MathFrom its opening text, Math Bash is clearly an educational program. Its primary goal is to help students practice their math skills. At its core though it is still a game. Aliens are landing and you have to stop them. The key mechanic is solving various math problems correctly or the alien will reach the earth and end the game. There is a score and can thereby be competitive, but Math Bash doesn’t force a timer on you. There is no rush. The program ramps up the pressure by increasing the difficulty of the math problems. In this way, the program accomplishes its goal, perhaps too well as will discuss later. Now whether the game is fun is debatable.

You can read more of this article or head on over to my ZX81 site to catch up on past programs of the month. [ View Article ]

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Tags: bash  computer  math  monthly  programming  zx81 

January's Program: Comp. Talk

Programming: 01/24/15 at 17:44:06 MDT by SafePit

Programming “[Comp.Mixing things up a bit, I thought I’d start off the new year without a game program. Instead, January’s program is Computer Talk, or Comp. Talk for short. Comp. Talk is one of several educational programs I wrote for reasons I’m not entirely sure of. Perhaps it was just the thing to do back in then. Many computer books, especially those that taught programming, had a mix of program genres. Whatever the reason, I wrote Comp. Talk as a way for the ZX81 computer to introduce itself and show a bit of what it could do.

You can read more of this article or head on over to my ZX81 site to catch up on past programs of the month. [ View Article ]

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Tags: comp  computer  monthly  programming  talk  zx81 

December's Program: V Water Battle

Programming: 12/29/14 at 15:26:37 MDT by SafePit

Programming “[VAs 2014 comes to a close, I wanted to end the year with an original program of the month. For December, that program is V Water Battle, an action game from 1984. For some reason, the title screen I created said designed instead of wrote but I did both. I was an odd duck in 1984. You use the “Z” and “.” keys to move. Use the “M” key to fire. The goal is to stop the ships from stealing the water. Miss them or get shot and its game over. Of course, they steal the water after each wave anyway to make it harder. Given that I haven’t beat it yet, the game is more difficult than it would seem. Let me know if you do!

You can read more of this article or head on over to my ZX81 site to catch up on past programs of the month. [ View Article ]

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Tags: battle  monthly  programming  v  water  zx81 

November's Program: Maze Craze

Programming: 11/29/14 at 22:43:14 MDT by SafePit

Programming “[MazeHope everyone in the US had a great Turkey Day (Thanksgiving) and are now enjoying the last weekend of November. I’m busy with NaNoWriMo, and a bit behind. So I give you another program from my original ZX81 site, but not yet featured here. November’s program is the month is Maze Craze. It’s not hard, but you might need to graph out the maze if you get stuck. There are actually two mazes. Can you beat them both?

You can read more of this article or head on over to my ZX81 site to catch up on past programs of the month. [ View Article ]

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Tags: craze  maze  monthly  programming  zx81 

October's Program: NA

Programming: 10/21/14 at 20:15:09 MDT by SafePit

Programming “[NA,Whoa, there are still almost two weeks left in the month and I have October’s program done and waiting for you. Yep, you heard right. This month is a short one called NA. The program is an action game that requires you to use “N” and “A” to try to stop a runner. The letters have significance as you use them to stop the runner. However, there is a twist, miss and the program changes the letter needed. Sounds easy right? Guess what, I still haven’t beaten it. Can you?

You can read more of this article or head on over to my ZX81 site to catch up on past programs of the month. [ View Article ]

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Tags: monthly  na  program  zx81 

DISH CINEMA Userbar (Updated ... again)

Programming: 10/15/14 at 22:21:20 MDT by SafePit

Programming I was doing a bit of clean up and, wouldn't you know it, my DISH pay-per-view (PPV) userbar broke again. Apparently this is going to be an ongoing battle. It is good for me as I don't spend a lot of time coding anymore. My eyes glazed over writing the new regular expression needed to parse out the title and image. Fortunately, it came back quickly.

Although the featured list is pretty small now, I decided not to add the new releases and events back in. The smaller list feels and looks better.

Put in image source or UUB tag: http://3v.reids4fun.com/dishppv.cgiView Article ]

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Tags: again  animated  cinema  dish  event  featured  gif  new  ppv  ub  updated  user bar 

September's Programs: Photon '85 and '98

Programming: 09/30/14 at 19:52:00 MDT by SafePit

Programming “[PhotonWell, the month is over and life has taken over and delayed my program of the month. For the tail end of September, I offer two programs: Photon and Photon 98. Wait, what? Yep, you heard right. I’m offering two programs this month. Sort of.  Actually they are very similar. Photon is the original program from 1985, and Photon 98 is a minor remake that cleans things up a bit.

You can read more of this article or head on over to my ZX81 site to catch up on past programs of the month. [ View Article ]

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Tags: monthly  photon  program  star trek  zx81 

How did you do this July 2014 Camp NaNoWriMo?

Writing: 08/24/14 at 22:35:35 MDT by SafePit

Writing “[2014Well, it’s almost a month since July Camp NaNoWriMo ended and I've meant to give a quick update. First, I did hit my 50K goal for the month, winning my second Camp. Nice! Second, I finished the book this time last month and haven’t touched it since, though I still think about the story almost everyday. I’m taking that as a positive as I look to start work on my 1st revision.

I’m giving it a month before I dig back in and do some polishing. There are a lot of grammar errors, time continuity issues, and at least one perspective problem. Although I haven’t done much with the story, I did spend the time combing the two sessions into a single book. Together, I’m at around 102K words which is about 268 pages printed according to Scrivener. That feels like a decent size, but I expect that will change a few more times as I revise it.

Since I bothered to combine the sessions, I also decide to build an EPUB version of the book. I did this partly to make sure I had a copy of it before I started to edit it. It isn’t entirely necessary since I’m using snapshots in Scrivener to track my changes. But, and more importantly, it gives me a copy I can read and share. My daughter said she would read it and I’d love to get her impression. Even if the book isn’t perfect yet, I’m curious what she things of it and I can use some feedback before I start to edit it. As my first novel attempt, and a rough draft, I’m a bit skittish to share more widely at this time; however, I really need to if I want to make it better.

I wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed the writing experience. Although I won’t feel done until I've revised and published it, the challenge has been worth it so far. My goal was to improve my writing. Even if it isn’t a run away best seller, it will be a success for me. And yes, I could just publish it as is on Amazon but that doesn’t count. If I’m going to do this, I need to do it right.

Right now, my next deadline is to get the 1st revision done by the end of the year. With November’s NaNoWriMo looming, I really need to spend the next two months revising and editing to make that deadline. If all goes well, I’m looking at my novel being up for sale sometime in 2015.

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, I’m also starting to plan for it. Although Camp has been fun and very motivational, I really want to compete in the November challenge. I’m trying to decide if it will be a spin-off story or something entirely new. I have a few ideas in mind already and I still time to decide. Until then, it’s almost time to get back to my first story. [ View Article ]

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Tags: book  camp  july  namowrimo  novel  november  story  winner  writing 

August's Program: Cave War

Programming: 08/24/14 at 21:49:49 MDT by SafePit

Programming “[TunnelAugust’s program is Cave War, a later program from 1985. It starts out similar to Hit Man, basically a scrolling dodge the wall game. But there is more to it than that. Once you get to the end of the tunnel, you find yourself in a cave and need to blast away at a wall to continue on. Oh, and if you hit the same spot twice, it resets. Can you make it out of the cave alive? Use “Z” and “.” to dodge the walls and “X” to blast away the ground. Good luck!

You can read more of this article or head on over to my ZX81 site to catch up on past programs of the month. [ View Article ]

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Tags: cave  monthly  program  war  zx81 

How to Break Your Site In One Easy Step

News: 07/24/14 at 16:53:16 MDT by SafePit

News The Mistake
We all make mistakes. My mistake was not understanding the code behind the categories sections that my site uses. What I wanted to do was create a new category called “Writing” that I could log my NaNoWriMo entries to. It seemed simple enough. I went into the category administration section and created a new one. My mistake was wanting to reuse the news picture. It was late at night and I was in a hurry to get to bed. In my hast I forgot that the program links the picture and category name together. Worse, I didn’t even realize I’d done something wrong.

The Discovery
Yesterday, after I posted my latest ZX81 article I noticed a bit of an oddity. When I looked at the next two articles, I noticed that the program had listed the same article twice. The post was from earlier in the moth and didn't look right, so I started to dig. I pulled up the topics list, the file that drives the front page article list, and discovered the double entry as well as a several missing past articles. At this point, I realized I must have done something wrong and started digging further.

The CMS I use drives the category list from a file based on its name. I pulled up the news file and it only had a single article listed in it. I knew that was wrong because the news file should have a number of articles I've added to it over the years. Perplexed I tried to bring up the writing category. Wait, there wasn't one. Then I remembered my earlier decision to use the news category's picture. Instead of picking a creating a new category called "Writing" with the same picture as the news category, I'd actually used the same news file twice with two different category names. The program didn't know how to deal with this, nor did it prevent it from occurring. At this point, I realized I made a serious mistake.

The Fix
My first attempt to fix was to to use the program's category mangement interface to edit the list. If you didn’t know, I’m using an older version of Web-App.net to run my site. I choose it years ago because I’m a heavy Perl developer. Web-App.net was a good fit as I could add plug-ins and themes in a language I was comfortable with, yet the site was full featured and provided a nice base to work from. Perfect for a weekend project and ran generally. The one area that it falls short is in category management. When I went to fix the category, I realized that it didn't work the way I expected it to. I skipped the web front end and just edited the file.

The next problem I faced was moving articles back into the right categories. When I tried to move missing articles into the files it didn’t work. I figured out that the program drives the article list from the category files. If the article isn’t in the file, it doesn’t really exist. I was back to editing files. This poses a problem because if a topic isn't in one of those files, the CMS won't display it. Fortunately, I had an old copy of the news file. Although a good start, and I was able to fix the missing newer articles, I was still missing quite a few topics. No big deal, I thought, I’ll just pull up the full article list. If the article didn't show in the list, I knew that it was the one I needed to add back.

Then I ran into another problem. As you create an article the program adds a number to identify it. However, function that lists the articles sorted the article list by the category they're in, not by that number. Nice, I get to program again. I edited the routine to sort the list the way I wanted it to and, after a few tests, had a nice list of articles. Sure, it would have been easier to just list the topics not in an a category. unfortunately, that would have required a lot more effort. I opted for the more direct approach, just searching the list for missing numbers. After a few minutes of cutting and pasting I had my site back to normal. Mistake corrected.

The Future
There are still a number of issues with the CMS I’m using. It’s old, not even the latest version. I never upgraded because the newer version added features I really didn’t want. That means that I bound to run into a bug sooner or later. My investigation of the category problem made me think that the structure isn’t well suited for blogging. That said, it has worked well for a number of years and I really haven’t wanted to put in the time to build a new one. I’m still playing with WordPress and other blogging systems, but haven’t found the right features yet.

For now, I think I’m just going to stick with writing articles and working on other projects. Eventually I’ll make a decision to move to something else, but until then I’ll just have to live with a few bugs. The moral of this story is don’t cut corners.

Now where was I at in my novel? [ View Article ]

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Tags: article  bog  category  CMS  mistake  NaNoWriMo  perl  programming  WebAPP  zx81 

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