Letter from Eingang, December 1999
Miscellaneous Ramblings & News
As I write this we're in the last few days of 1999. Of course, by the time you see this, we should already be into the Year 2000. You'll be happy to know that all of our game bots are Y2K certified since they run on UNIX systems and we're not using short dates for calculating anything. (: Actually, I realized after I wrote the above that the little programs (not the bots themselves) that update the monthly statistics for Chaos use a two-digit date field but it doesn't do any comparisons on it, so we should be OK.
As an aside, this marks the fourth month that I've actually managed to write this column and to send it in on time. That's very impressive for a busy EinWoman. (:
Even though Chatter and I have only been in England for a month, we've been busy writing up our adventures (or Chatter has). Check out the latest in our English adventures in my S&M Files segment on my Web site (http://www.eingang.org/). Notice my cool new glowing green flowers, too, at the same time as discovering what it's like to live in a converted stable.
Last month I announced that we were almost ready to begin testing a Java-based Risky Business game but nobody volunteered to help us out. We need people using a wide variety of browsers on a wide variety of platforms. Specifically: NetScape 3.x (Mac), MSIE 3.x (Mac/PC), MSIE 3.x (PC), MSIE 4.5x (Mac/PC), NetScape 3.x+ (UNIX). If you're interested in helping out, send mail to email@example.com.
It's another shameless plug for our Discussion Forum. Don't just visit, participate! You can submit messages anonymously if you're embarrassed, but do submit. It's your forum to express your thoughts, ideas, wishes, desires, and whatever to do with the games. That's on the games web site at http://games.eingang.org.
49 new Risky Business categories were uploaded on Christmas Day to the DALnet server. Europeans, especially Brits, will be pleased by the Euro-bent to the new categories. It's time to brush up on your cricket and BBC soaps. New categories include: 50s Flicks, 60s Music, Family Flicks, Around the UK, Books for the Bored, Classical Music 101, 9 Easy British Potluck categories, British Soaps, Easy Earth, Easy Nature, Easy Colours, Easy Nature 2, Easy People, Easy Pop Who's Who, 8 Misc Potluck cats, Easy Synonyms, Easy Transportation, Family Flicks, Food and Drink, Greek Pantheon, Hobbies and Leisure, Odd One Out, Living World, and others. The total number of new questions is around 1000!Enjoy! See the complete list of categories in play on DALnet at http://games.eingang.org/Information/categories.html.
Some people were commenting on the discussion forum that they'd like to be able to remove categories from the games, Chaos in particular. A few years ago, I posted a special form which allowed people for a period of a month to submit votes for which categories they thought should be removed. I then removed categories which received more than a certain number of votes. Despite the effort I put into designing the form and accompanying programs to produce the form and parse the results, user participation was fairly low. If you're interested in participating in another round of this, please visit the discussion forum and say that you would be willing to do so. If enough people are interested, I'll do it again.
Speaking of categories, I'd like to appeal to people to write new general purpose trivia categories for Risky Business. I just, with quite a bit of help from published sources, created 49 new general purpose, "easy" categories for the game. That's more categories than I've received in the last two years for the trivia games. Show your support of Risky Business by helping write some more categories. In particular, I could use categories suitable for younger players (10 - 15 years of age), as well as general knowledge categories suitable for any age. I created an online form in the middle of October to help people submit trivia questions but I still have to do the form parsing for it. As you might guess, it's a little trickier than the Chaos ones to handle. In the meantime, you can find information on how to write Risky Business categories on the Web site or write to me and I'll send you a sample category to use as a template for your own creation.
New Risky Business categories and Chaos categories added earlier this year have not been uploaded yet to StarLink because of an ftp problem. I can't ftp in/out of the machine which makes it difficult to add new material. I'm working on getting this problem resolved. All of our problems with this machine started when the machine moved behind a firewall. The machine itself, however performs really well. ChaosBot has been known to run without crashing for more than 90 days on that machine.
We've added a new e-mail address at games.eingang.org. firstname.lastname@example.org sends mail to me, Bronxx, and Eggs_Zachtly. Use it whenever you have a serious problem that should be brought to our attention immediately (bots missing more than an hour, multiple bots, etc). Someone will attend to the problem as soon as possible. Using this for reporting problems on the channel with other players/visitors probably won't be very effective as there's no guarantee of an immediate response. As soon as possible depends, of course, on who is available and what they're able to do. (: At the moment, Bronxx and I restart/reset bots on all systems. Eggs_Zachtly can reset them on DALnet only (or start up multiple bots, as happened earlier in December. Hee hee hee).
Chaos Category Submission Winners
In going through my backlog of Chaos category submissions, I'd like to especially thank MsCue and _Starr for submitting the highest number of usable new categories. MsCue in particular submitted a number that were of a general nature. Give them your thanks next time you see them online!
Your Game Administrators & Channel Ops
Continuation of last month's modern fish tale about Bronxx:
Their first problem occurred not too long into their journey. The two Regenbogenfnoolfisch discovered that they had no idea how to go about packing for an extended journey and they were carrying too much stuff. RegenbogenDennisfnoolfisch sat down on a handy cloud and started empting out his backpack: out came the kitchen sink, bathroom scales, his brick collection, and a lead paperweight. RegenbogenRobertfnoolfisch was astounded and ceased to wonder why his twin brotherfisch's bag was so heavy. His own, however, was only marginally better, for he'd brought along his collection of heavy metal records. They don't call them "heavy metal" records for nothing!
Now that their load had been considerably lightened, they continued onwards, searching for some sort of meaning and purpose. While they were journeying onwards on about the 7th day into their trek, they came across a wizened old Fnoolfisch named Serendip. Serendip had been living alone in a sky cave for the last 76 Fischyears, which made him very old indeed. The two brothers inquired of Serendip as to what their purpose in life might be. Wizened as he was, Serendip unfortunately didn't possess any great wisdom. All he could suggest was that the two brothers seek out the even older, even wiser Oracle of Fisch, Bovein, who lived near the Equein Flats. The two brothers thanked Serendip and continued along on their quest.
"Fnool!" went RegenbogenRobertfnoolfisch, for that's what Fnooolfisch do. "Fnool!" answered his brother. They swam lazily through the air, headed for the Equein Flats off in the far distance. They journeyed uneventfully for several more weeks, meeting almost no-one, eating their stored provisions (once they'd gotten rid of the bricks and stuff, they had lots of space for food!), enjoying their company and their sense of shared purpose: find Bovein.
The Equein flats were located next to Schwein City, the major metropolis for Fnoolfisch. The brothers thought it was strange that a wise oracle would live so close to a major city, but they soon forgot their misgivings as they came upon the fabled city. Schwein City was the only air city that Fnoolfisch had and most Fnoolfisch, unless they happened to be born in the area, never saw it, only heard tales, for Fnoolfisch did not normally travel about much. The spires rose higher into the air than the brothers could imagine was ever possible. Looking up to the heights left them dizzy and short of breath. It was indeed wondrous.
Next month: To be continued next month...
Secret sources have confirmed that Eingang has been busy going through the backlog of new Chaos categories that have been submitted in the last year. Expect a massive upload of more than a 100 new/modified categories in the near future and an updated list of categories currently in play on the Web site.
Chatter and Ein are going to visit BronxxFisch in January, or so the rumour mill is saying. The purpose of their visit is to pick up all the krunk that Ein left at Bronxx's place when she last returned to Canada. Imagine all the space Bronxx is going to have when Ein cleans out his kitchen and removes all those books!
Ein's Millennium Message/Resolutions
I don't normally make resolutions, but I thought I'd make the attempt this year, given how "special" it is. We're coming up on my 6th or 7th year involved with the game bots. It sounds like a long time, doesn't it? Even though I've been doing this in my free time and free of charge for all that time, I know some of you have been frustrated over the years by the amount of time that it takes to get new categories added or to get things fixed. My Millennium Resolution is to attempt to add newly submitted categories within two weeks of them being submitted. I'm already working on the backlog, having dealt with more than 200 backlogged messages (some of which contained multiple categories. One from MsCue had 23 Chaos categories, most of which contained 12 or more answers!)
I'd also like to take this time to thank all my game ops who help make the games work when I'm not there. In particular, Eggs_Zachtly has been a wonder during this time of moving about for me. Bronxx is also very helpful, particularly at month end.
Finally, I'd like to wish all the game players, the best. Here's to another year of high-quality, multi-player, addictive, text-based IRC games. May all of our good wishes for ourselves and others come true in the following year.
Until next month, I remain...