Jun. 20th, 2010

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Charles and Betsy

Last October we said goodbye to Betsy, our lovely silver Holden Statesman taxi. Almost new, she was loaded down with great features, and was a pleasure to drive.

But while I was off in America, the owner managed to write her off. One design flaw is that the A-pillars are very thick, hiding oncoming traffic at intersections. He didn't mean to hit the other car, but he did, and hard enough to do some serious damage.

But he bought her back off the insurance company and over the past half year or so, while we've been driving loaner a Ford Fairlane, he's gradually put her back together in the back of the workshop.

Yes, Charles the Fairlane that I crashed a week ago.

Friday it all came together and we swapped the patched-up Charles* for renewed Betsy. I got to drive her first shift as a reborn cab, just like I drove her first shift as a new cab last year.

What a pleasure! She's got some wonderful functions, such as automatic windscreen wipers, front and rear parking sensors, MP3 disc player. The gas tank in the boot doesn't rattle, so I don't have to use the "ex-girlfriend" joke any more.

On the slight downside, there's no seat memory - a boon for a car with three regular drivers - and the transmission makes a racket. Put your foot down, and the world can count the revs.

There's also a new taximeter, so I'll have to upgrade my muscle memory after three years of hitting the old set of buttons. At least this one comes with a user manual, which is a lot more than ever we got with the old one.

* Charles was repaired with bits from another Fairlane that just happened to be stuffed in the back of the workshop, and - trust me on this - there's a fair bit of duct tape hiding some of the scars.


Jun. 20th, 2010 09:16 pm
skyring: (Default)
My test site is slowly progressing. WordPress 3.0 was released a few days ago, and I updated all my WordPress blogs. My BCX site was an early 3.0 version, and that had been working fine with BuddyPress.

Today I wrote a widget plugin, using a template from the WordPress Bible I bought in San Francisco. The instructions were clear enough, and once I'd sorted out a syntax error in the sample code, I had the thing installed, activated and running.

That's a start. I'll build on this in weeks to come.

A few words about the architecture. Each player - and there can be hundreds, if not thousands of players - will have a blog on the site. Not that this will be a blog for recording daily activities or opinions or book reviews. You could, I guess.

There will be a widget tied into the database for entering orders. Some immediate feedback as to whether the orders were feasible or not - like if you wanted to drive somewhere without a car it wouldn't work - but the main processing would take place on a fixed timetable, when orders from various players would be processed together, resolving conflicts and reporting results.

Results would be posted as a private blog entry. Read it, analyse it, work out what to do and submit fresh orders.

This is a twist on the traditional play-by-mail game model, where it might take two weeks for an orders cycle.

I want a shorter cycle, on the order of hours, rather than days, but I don't want players to be completely exposed if attacked. Flash an update to a player who is being attacked so that they can issue their own orders, call in reinforcements etc.

Unless, of course, some surprise factor is being played.

I'm envisaging a model where characters are controlled by the players, moved around the play area, given tools and actions, and made to perform actions. Bands and units may be built and moved and controlled through leader characters.

The setting is a more or less modern nation in a state of tension, with diverse community movements and organisations attempting to keep or change control over territory and population.

More later.


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