Saturday, 30 August 2008

Stalled High Pressure Area

The high pressure area being... gaming. At least I got 4 posts in this month. Ugh. That is weak as I think about it.

Yet, talk of getting together for a game has returned as the first month of the newborn family member comes to an end. As a father I can sympathize with those first six weeks... as most fathers can.

But my nerdery advances along other fronts, to continue the metaphors.

One item I want to share with you is Ajax proxies for working with remote XML documents or feeds. There are many ways to do them, but I learned one recently that I really like: reverse proxying leveraging the mod_rewrite + mod_proxy modules of Apache HTTPD

There are other methods and patterns, like the PHP proxy, the Java servlet HTTP proxy, and many others. Why do I like the mod_rewrite + mod_proxy method? Simple, it's dead simple. Plus, any sufficiently advanced website will likely leverage hosting services going beyond the free or economy commercial host. This will likely translate for some, not all or most, developers having access to Apache, or other HTTP, server configurations or configuration resources.

How simple? I was able to pull a remote XML resource into my local namespace with two lines of code! Take a look:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^/river/(.*)$$1  [P]

With those two lines I can consume the XML feed of river levels from the NOAA Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (if I know the document name of course) in my local namespace and workaround the same-domain security restriction of Javascript!

What exactly is happening there? I'm turning the RewriteEngine on (for the host, if not already on) and then simply stating a request for /river/ and anything following it (the (.*)$ a regular expression for anything following it) be passed to the URI specified then through mod_proxy using the [P] (also stated as [proxy] for the more succinctly-challenged).

Most of the other patterns require far more code gymnastics to perform the same thing. Additionally, the above method is far more powerful than using mod_proxy alone, as well as being a little more secure, as a misconfigured proxy can be an open proxy. And open proxies are bad things. ~o)

Posted by caffeinated at 9:11 AM in kaffehaus

Monday, 18 August 2008

Of Grognards and Heritage

James Maliszewski's Grognardia is a fantastic blog to read about role playing games, the history of the hobby, and the old school revolution. But what's great about his recent post, The Shoulders of Giants is how it reflects on Avalon Hill and AH's indirect influence on the RPG hobby, as well as how it influenced him.

I know I was greatly influenced by AH and I miss the games of AH terribly (you'll understand in a moment just how much). My father introduced me to board wargaming with Tactics and Panzer Leader. And as senior, VietNam and Gulf war seasoned DOD logistician, handed me my ass more times I wish to admit too. I played both those titles for more than a decade, through college (a military one!) and have owned at least two copies of Squad Leader.

Today, I'm an "game master" and enjoy the role-in-role-playing games more than the game part, but have a well grounded grognard's respect for game mechanics because of Avalon Hill.

James traces the history of Avalon Hill well. James mentions AH licensees, and rightfully cites that "most [of Avalon Hill's titles] are in the vault somewhere, unlikely ever to see the light of day again," he does not mention by name Multi Man Publishing. MMP licenses the rights to Advanced Squad Leader and publishes new rules and scenarios, as well as, promoting the game and the hobby of wargaming around the world. MMP is also releasing an updated version Panzerblitz (which I wrote about here)! I'm such a fan of Panzer Leader I built my own copy!

And for those that want to get more grognard geek on than they can handle, visit The Hundred Years War and read the definitive book on wargaming, The Complete Wargames Handbook, by James F. Dunnigan, designer for Avalon Hill and SPI.

Posted by caffeinated at 9:46 PM in d10

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

REH's Conan the Cimmerian

The library delivered Robert E. Howard's The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, the first of a three volume set published in 2002–2003. It is a definitive collection. The first thirteen stories in the order they were released by REH, not a perceived order by those that came after, or a forced chronology.

The Forward and Introduction are alone worth reading. The opinion of pastiches by authors that came after, or of those that attempted to finish the unfinished is raw and frank. An opinion to which I heartily agree.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:38 AM in nerdery

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Inns of the Empire update

The problems with buttons and column headers leaking through the z-indexes in IE 7 and IE 6 are corrected. Finally.

Many apologies for the delay. Busy would not properly define my state of affairs. The orbits of the many things going on around me is entertaining on levels undefined, but to those that follow ACD, most damaging to this blog. And to the WFRP game I have been running.

The party has not meet for 4 weeks. Aside from my state of affairs, a key player just had a baby boy: Rutger Harrison... a great name BTW! His teenage son was a player too, so the party was down two PCs.

And thus play is on haitus.

I carved out some time to improve the Inns of the Empire tool. Some minor visual enhancements are included, but one problem in IE6 is still present: double display of Inn-cidents. Not precisely sure what is causing it, it doesn't behave that way in any other browser and the JavaScript is pretty precise about what to display.

I continue to do more than lurk and will be posting regular again very soon!

Posted by caffeinated at 7:55 PM in d10

Friday, 1 August 2008

Still alive

When I stop to recover my breath and look over the edge of the foxhole at the incoming fire from life, work and hobby... it's amazing I'm still having so much fun!

Enough poor metaphor... I'm still alive and thinking about things WFRP and random tech topics.

Work has promoted me so attention gets focused on understanding the role, at and away from work. But I get to nerd on new technologies and kick the ass of developers still stuck developing in IE.

And I fixed the IE bug in the Inns of the Empire tool. Just have to promote it to production. ~o)

Posted by caffeinated at 8:40 AM in kaffehaus