Sunday, 30 December 2007

RosMud version 1.4.1

Finally found and fixed the bug in selection that meant that selected text was often unreadable.
Made the Huh? message for Advanced Logging a little more helpful.
Plugins.INI will now store relative paths for plugins in the current directory or a subdirectory thereof. (It will not store "..\foo.dll" though.) This should help with moving RM from one directory to another, or from one drive letter to another (eg on removable media).
Added this file to the distribution, like it should have been ages ago!!
Made the Wealth plugin world-aware, which means it will now correctly separate wealth statistics for different worlds. Also, added a command: "/sub" will show full statistics, for all worlds.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

RosMud version 1.4.0

Fixed a bug that resulted in some background color changing to "flow" to the end of the line (disrupting, among other things, the output of the 'area' command).
Added a set of toolbar buttons to show activity - a button will light up in green when there's activity in the corresponding world; click on it to jump to that world.
Added five new keys to Numpad Nav: the four operators (+ - * /) and the decimal (.)
Changed local command handling slightly. Any command starting with a slash is a local command between RosMud and the plugins; it will not get sent to a MUD. It is therefore "safe", in the sense that if the plugin isn't loaded, it won't spam the MUD.

Also I fixed some bugs in the Timer plugin.

Also I've changed the distribution: now plugins are incorporated into the standard distro, and there's a separate "slim" distribution. When you go to (same as before), you no longer need to download two files - it's all in the one. If you want a cut-down RM without all the plugins, that's now a separate link. Hopefully this will make things easier!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

RosMud download site available again

Whew. The usual download URL has been sorted out, and can be used again. The temporary dumpspace still has version 1.3.9, but only the usual address (right hand link has been updated) will get subsequent versions. If you didn't know it was down, fine, because it's up again now :)

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

RosMud download site unavailable

Due to a major server crash at my ISP, the usual RosMud download URL does not work. I'm working to get it sorted out, but until that's all settled, RM can be downloaded from a temporary site - see the right-hand links. Sorry about that!

I'll post again when it's all sorted out.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

RosMud version 1.3.9

Added a prompt on close if there are active connections. (Configurable in Options|Advanced)
Added option to flash the title bar on new text (off by default - Options|Advanced)
Removed a bit of debugging code. If RM seems a bit faster, this is why.

Also, the TinyURL plugin got a new option added: "R" for render. Any redirection URL (technically, any for which the server sends a 3xx response) can be rendered to its actual destination. This can be used for TinyURL, Google "I'm Feeling Lucky", and other such redirections. Now, when someone throws a URL at you, you can check where it REALLY points before you go to it! Note that rendering can be done multiple times, and each "Render" will strip away one level of indirection. This, for instance, has two redirections.

Saturday, 22 September 2007


Having tried it and failed some time ago, when our local network was weirdly set up and our bandwidth limit lower, I hadn't bothered trying Skype again until just recently.

Skype is absolutely great. How else can you conference-call between Australia, England, and America, and just chat for four hours or more, without paying a thing? It's been of great encouragement to me to talk to Marah and Thierran, not to mention the fun of chatting about random bits and pieces!!

VOIP (you mean those planes that can take off like a helicopter? Oh! Voice over IP! IP? IP!) is the way to do things. You don't even need a crash-hot internet connection... although it does help. But get yourself a set of headphones, otherwise everything will feed back badly.

Yay Skype!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

RosMud version 1.3.8

Only a couple of small changes to RosMud itself, but there have been a number of improvements to the plugins.

* Increased the input buffer size from 1024 to 4096 bytes. You can now execute really long commands :)
* Allowed tabs to be typed into the command field.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Larry Wall and the gcc

Larry Wall is a great source of quotes. He was so good at coming up with worthwhile things to say that he got immortalized in the GNU C Compiler - it has an option "-Wall" to make the compiler have a really good look at your code and figure out something neat to say.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Dubai International ...Shopping Center

Half way home - stopped over in Dubai for an hour or so. This place does happen to have aeroplanes landing and taking off from it, but it's mainly a duty-free shopping center. Which leaves us with three fundamental questions:

* Why do people arrive?
* Why do they leave?
* And why do they spend so much of the intervening time buying digital watches?

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Going home!

In about five minutes, the bus leaves to take us to the airport... we'll soon be home!!

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Ruddygore: A Case For The Phantasmagorical

Attended a one-man show in the Paxton today. Entitled "Ruddygore: A Case For The Phantasmagorical", it is a look at the origins of Ruddygore (later renamed Ruddigore), touching on the various people involved, how things came together, what influenced the show. Being a one-man show (actually one plus a technical assistant), it has comedic moments such as hiding behind a box and having a conversation with oneself about a telegram, or conducting a dialogue between Rose Maybud and Mad Margaret by sidestepping and facing the other way. Snippets of video, animation, and audio recordings enhance the show. For those new to Gilbert and Sullivan, this is full of fascinating information about how it all began; for those (like me) who already have a great fascination for the show, it's a dramatisation of what might otherwise be a bald and unconvincing paragraph of facts and stats.

The show is in two acts of just under an hour each, covering both the original time of the opera (1887) and the early 20th century revivals, with a look at the alterations in the latter and the increased success Ruddigore then enjoyed. Pace is maintained, and the performance never really flags, even when Nigel is readying himself for the next piece of business - the screen carries the show for a while, with perhaps a set of stills and some musical backing, or possibly a snippet from a Ruddigore cartoon. At the very end, mention is made of what Gilbert started working on after Ruddigore - The Yeomen of the Guard - and the show concludes with its rousing overture.

Nigel Anderson (the man-on-the-stage) and Michael Thompson (technical) have clearly put a huge amount of work into this, and the results reflect it admirably.

Fun in the Festival Club

After each performance in the G&S Festival, the evening's entertainment continues in the Festival Club with a couple of cabaret performances. As is usual, the group who performed that night in the opera house took the second cabaret today; but after all that was finished, and nearly everyone had gone home, the few of us who hung around were treated to another bit of fun - well, just a bit of fiddling around, really... okay, awful pun. One man and his violin entertained us practically until we were all kicked out at the end of the day. He's amazing - plays all sorts of pieces, weaves bits together (there was one long section where he kept slipping into "Tie me kangaroo down, sport" - fun stuff!), and can make the violin do extraordinary things. I hope he's there again tomorrow, this was a good evening's crazily ridiculous fun!

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Festival "Ruddigore"

Just been to see Ruddigore, performed by an international cast drawn from festival-goers - covering a wide range of countries including Estonia, New Zealand, Brazil, and a wide range of counties too :) The leads were auditioned by video (somewhat similarly to the way Savoynet do), but the chorus was assembled during the festival itself - a week before the show. Dick Dauntless also wasn't cast early, incidentally, resulting in an odd programme insert... the main programme could only have the names of people who were cast in time for the printing, and then an insert was printed up listing the members of the Chorus of Bridesmaids, the Chorus of Villagers, and the Chorus of Ancestors. And at the end of the third list was an odd pair:

* Guilherme Gama (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
* Richard Dauntless (Robin's Foster-Brother)

Okay. The insert printer wasn't expecting a principal on the list, we can forgive the oddity... at least the right people were all acknowledged, and spelled correctly too.

The show maintained a high standard of singing quality, energy, and tempo. The stage was used well, and the choreography executed smoothly, but some of the diction was less than clear, partly in consequence of the speed at which various numbers were taken. There were fun touches throughout the show, such as a bridesmaid entering late and "catching up" with her bouquet movements; or another bridesmaid not wanting to listen to Dame Hannah's description of the curse; or Sir Despard leaning against the pros arch while everyone was fawning all over the new bad baronet - Despard seemed as surprised as anyone when Rose suddenly focussed on him.

The chorus work was at a similar high standard - there was the odd late hand movement but by and large everyone stayed together. Interestingly, the chorus of villagers entered Ruddigore Castle along with the bridesmaids, in the second act - each carrying some kind of token or talisman against evil. There was some slight difficulty with the blue stage lights reflecting badly on them (also with Sir Ruthven's and Old Adam's lanterns at the beginning of the act), but they added a neat touch to the scene.

Mad Margaret. I came to the show with high expectations from Elise... a coloratura soprano, not a mezzo, but so utterly and completely insane that she could hardly fail to render Margaret with some real character. And character is exactly what the part needs - Margaret is a very real person, with her own thought processes (which may not QUITE line up with the way other people think!) and her own reasons for doing things. She's mad. She's in love with Despard. She's been thrown over and wants nothing more than to come back to him. And she has an efficient (if not exactly sanitary) way of dealing with flies. I think it would have been appropriate for Rose to be a little more apprehensive in her dealings with Marg - after all, this woman is crazy, you never know what she's going to do - but apart from that, the scene had all the realism it needed. Margaret pulls off a doll's head - she might pull off Rose's next!

Speaking of Rose - very sweet voice. Managed to project personality, emotion, and vocal skill. Lost audibility occasionally but never seriously (and this might have been a consequence of my seat in the upper gallery, too).

Despard was intensely evil in the first act; but in the second, he was so afraid of his now-evil brother that he donned a glove before putting his hand on Ruthven's shoulder. And then he threw the glove to Margaret... and repeated the whole thing a moment later. I was just aching to see what he'd do the third time, but - there was no third time. Ahh well.

All in all, an excellent night's entertainment, and worth re-enjoying by video. Its applause and largely positive adjudicator's review were completely merited.

The show!!

Yesterday was bump in, dress rehearsal, opening night, and closing night, all rolled into one. (And at a salary! Well... no, not quite.) Instead of having a week of preparation, we had twelve hours. The first sight we got of the theatre (other than seeing previous shows) was at 9AM, and then by about 11PM we were all done, finished, gone.

Bump in was fairly straightforward. We didn't have a huge amount of scenery, and everything was stored nearby (in Melbourne we use a trailer to get everything from scenery store to theatre, but here we just took it all by hand). The Festival Ruddigore (which I'm going to be seeing tonight) was in rehearsal in the Octagon, where we'd left all our gear; so we had to come barging in to collect things. I hope it wasn't too distracting to them!

Robert got a chance to do some work on the stage before the orchestra arrived; this mainly involved the men (sticky tape markers on the stage, and sort out the dragoon formations). Then we broke for lunch, after which the entire company gathered for the dress rehearsal. There is only one - one chance to sort everything out. It's the MD's only chance to arrange things with the orchestra, which is important - but it's also our only chance to run the show on the stage. There were a few things that couldn't be rendered perfectly, but there was a little bit of time after the orchestra call in which things like that could be sorted out.

And then, 7:30, we perform. Never before have I seen an audience so large at one of our shows... the theatre seats about 900 people, and it was full - even some standees, I'm told! The applause was tremendous, undoubtedly helping to lift the quality of the production. There were a few problems - a few lines that got muffed, some "phasing issues" in the double choruses (that's just a more polite way of saying the choruses got totally out of time with each other and with the orchestra), and such, but the energy and enthusiasm carried through.

At the end, after the curtain calls, the orchestra struck up Advance Australia Fair. Even some of our non-Australian guests joined in singing our national anthem - I noticed Rachel Middle singing enthusiastically, and afterward she mentioned to me that the (Australian) person standing next to her got the words wrong somewhere, but she - Rachel - had studied it and knew the words perfectly :)

The adjudicator (Gillian Humphreys) was astoundingly positive about the show. She admired the show - I may say she loved it. Too mild.... adored! All her comments are recorded on the DVD of the show. She gushed enthusiasm, commended us for one thing after another, and only had a few criticisms - she noted the timing/phasing problems, and such.

After packing up the show, we all repaired to the Festival Club for the cabaret. I wasn't greatly involved, partly as I was meeting friends (Graeblyn and Elei from Threshold), and partly because I was always busy during rehearsals, and couldn't skedaddle to rehearse the cabaret; so my involvement basically was a subordinate role of talking to the lighting people - there was one point where the lights had to come down for the beginning of a song, and up again part way through, so I cued that from the back of the audience. Oh, and there was one song all about chocolate, for which I supplied props - some empty chocolate wrappers... who'da thunk it!

All in all, a very full-on day - and fully repaid in audience enthusiasm. I've had a number of people today tell me how much they loved the show; several have said that they expect we'll win some sort of prize in the competition. I don't know if we will or not; really, though, it doesn't matter - the show stands or falls on its own merits, as reflected in the general applause of the audience, and when it comes down to it, the adjudicator is only one person. But it's still encouraging to hear a positive review :)

Monday, 13 August 2007

Contacting Threshers

One of the things to do when visiting another country is to meet the people you've known online. As well as Savoynet, I have another such group: Threshold RPG. So far I haven't actually MET any fellow Threshers, but I've been in communication with several, in the hopes of meeting up.

* Graeblyn and Elei - two people, but sharing a phone number. When I told my brother that I'd been speaking on the phone to "Grae and Elei", he asked if they were two characters played by one person :) Hoping to meet up after rehearsal tonight (Mon), and then also again at/after tomorrow's show.

* Thierran - only just recently arrived back from overseas, and thus unsure if she'll be able to come to the show. I hope she will though! We'll meet up one of these times.

There've been a few other UK Threshers speaking to me about meeting up, but I've figured out that England is a reasonably large country (in fact, it's nearly as big as Victoria, which is Australia's smallest mainland state...), and there's no way that I'm travelling outside it. Even to Scotland, sorry but it's a tad far. :D

Exploring Buxton

Buxton is a delightful place to spend time. We are staying in the Derby University Halls of Residence, right near the town center, so we're close to everything. There are several major supermarkets, at least two chocolatiers, and forty-two million eateries, all within walking distance.

The Festival has brought a lot of people here. Nowhere else would I be walking along, minding my own business, and suddenly overhear someone referring to Princess Ida. Quite an odd feeling, that... The flip-side is, we have a good chance of playing to a full house!!

England versus Australia. To be sure, there are differences; but everything's so amazingly similar that it's actually possible to enumerate specific differences - for instance, UK power points are built umop apisdn, with the earth on top; and the aural notification that the pedestrian lights are green is reminiscent of the level crossing warning tones, so it makes me think "stop" rather than "go". By and large, though, most things are highly similar. There is hardly more difference between Melbourne and Buxton than between Melbourne and some of the country towns in Victoria. I've found England a most pleasant place to visit - wish we were here for longer, but there's no way that that's an option now.

Thracian weather?

Interrupting the flow of posts for one thing that struck me... literally actually!

We got pelted with rain today. Hadn't had any rain since we arrived, but now we got what seemed at first like a brief sunshower. It got heavier, though; and we had costumes to carry around, so we had to seek shelter and wait. Walking along the road, with the asphelt steaming and the rain in my face, I could think of only one thing: This is Thracian weather. Rosuav knows all about this.

And, to make it even more Rosuavesque - He's the Armory Coordination Head for the Psions' Guild, and part of my job today involved sorting out and keeping safe a number of swords. We had a pretty spiffy armory, all under lock and key, and I'm keeping track of the things in it. Quite fascinating... he and me, we keep doing the same things.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Meeting Savoynetters

Since arriving here, I've met up with a number of fellow Savoynetters. Apologies to those not mentioned; this is just the few who I can put finger to keyboard about before dashing off to rehearse. In no particular order:

* Rachel Middle: joining our cast. Noticed her in the Savoynet Pinafore - recognized her from Ruddygore where she had played Zorah. Very happy to have her in the cast.
* Jim Cooper: also joining us. Doing a significantly better job than the person whose place in the chorus he has taken over.
* Rebecca Hains: Had spoken by email and expressed interest in buying her CD. Caught her at the last possible opportunity. Very fortunate.
* Elise Curran: LOTS of fun. Playing Mad Margaret in the Festival production, the night after we perform; as a lot of people have said, perfect casting.
* Laurie Marks: Intelligent, fun to talk to, well worth meeting. Left Buxton now I believe.

I'd mention more but it's 10:00 and I have to go. Will add more names later if I get a chance.


There are a number of people in our Buxton production that weren't in our Melbourne season. Ian Henderson is our new Grosvenor, and Jim Cooper, Rachel Middle, Wendy Falconer, Linda, and another Sue are joining our chorus. (We have so many Sues in this chorus, it's amazing. If you can't think of a lady's name, just call her Sue, you have about a 50-50 chance of being right.) We've had some rehearsals, no obligation, those who are here come and those who aren't don't, with a view to helping along our primary rehearsals. (In about half an hour we'll be starting our first full-on rehearsal, it's going to be all day and everybody - we have another the same tomorrow, and then Tuesday is... err... hell week compressed into about twelve hours.)

South Anglia's "Princess Ida"

The day after Savoynet's Pinafore was South Anglia's Ida. I rocked up to the box office to inquire about tickets, but there weren't any available (well, I could have had a really expensive seat, or else another restricted-viewing seat, neither of which I particularly wanted to do). But I came to the cabaret afterwards (3 quid, which isn't too bad).

First half was Ian Henderson and Rebecca Hains, with Florrie Marks on the piano; some G&S pieces, some non-G&S, some duets, some solos. Well sung. This was Rebecca's last night in Buxton, although I didn't realise it; fortunately she came past us on her way out to greet some of the people with whom I was sharing a table, so I was able to catch her and get a copy of her CD (she had one in her handbag, and I had a ten pound note in my pocket, happy coincidence). She has a lovely voice. I'm listening to her sing Julia's "Tomorrow" aria as I type.

Second half was, as is the custom, the group who'd just performed that night. South Anglia had a brilliant skit entitled "The Radio Version of Murder At Ruddigore Castle"... they made reference, in dialog or song, to every single one of the G&S operas, with the possible exception of Thespis and Trial. It was full of radio jokes, too... they were standing on stage, and it was most amusing to see all the antics (they had a dedicated "Sound Effects" microphone and person, so for instance FX would jump on the floor to indicate the falling of a body, or he'd blow his nose right into the microphone when one of the ladies has been handed a handkerchief).

The evening's entertainment ended, and people just hung around chatting. Perfect opportunity to meet a few Savoynetters... see the next post but one.

Savoynet's Pinafore

Savoynet is an email mailing list that carries a fairly large volume of traffic, mostly related to the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. The International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival is an annual event which, among other things, involves a show every night at 7:30pm, by a different performing company each time. It's inevitable that the two would meet... Savoynet people have put together a show every year since 1997 (so I'm told... I've not been around that long!!). It is unique among performing companies, because the people involved come from around the world - and assemble for a VERY short rehearsal season. There's no opportunity to audition beforehand; nobody wants to fly half way around the world only to find out that they weren't chosen this time. Auditions are done by video, which has the benefit (for the panel) that someone's audition piece can be rewound and played over, something that's just a tad difficult when working face-to-face.

So. Savoynet were performing the day that we arrived. Having seen a few Savoynet productions on video previously, we HAD to see it. Alas! The only seats available were around the side, in a place from which you can't see the whole stage. (Upside: They were only 10GBP each, the best seats are around about 50GBP.)

The show was pretty good. Strong cast, overall; I think the Carpenter needed to have a stronger voice, for "A British Tar"; and the Dreaded Recit (right before the Act II Finale) really doesn't improve the show. Criticism has been made of the inclusion of "Reflect, My Child" in the first act, but I think it didn't hurt. Corcoran (Ian Henderson - he'll be singing Grosvenor for us later) was good, and Josephine (Rebecca Hains) was EXCELLENT. The song perhaps would have been a problem if it had been sung badly, but it wasn't.

The chorus did a good job. The men's chorus, particularly, looked impressive; and worrying... because OUR chorus needs a lot of work! The choreography was moderately complicated, and ably executed; the precision of salutes and the like in the Captain's (and Sir Joseph's) entrances was, if not quite perfect, then oh so all-but! I was most favourably impressed.

Afterwards, none of us felt like attending the cabaret. I now kinda wish I had, but at the time, tiredness was just a little too strong.

The flight over

Our flight from Melbourne to Manchester was long. No doubt about that. We flew Emirates, and I have not a single complaint about their service or facilities - it was great.

Baggage check-in at Melbourne was easy, in part because we took advantage of Emirates' online precheckin service - they had all our details and our preferred seats, so it was simply a matter of weighing our baggage and shooting it off to Customs, and printing out our boarding passes. We then made our way in to the inner areas of the airport to kill time, and to find fellow GaSbags. Customs was kinda fascinating. Traal, my laptop (on whom I'm typing up this post) went through the full scan, and what came up on their display was... an almost perfect view of the mainboard. Nothing else. Apparently titanium doesn't come out, which would be odd if it were x-ray based (maybe I'm wrong).

The first leg was Melbourne-Singapore-Dubai, with about an hour's stop in Singapore. In spite of the online checkin showing practically every seat taken, the plane was almost completely empty.... we found out why after Singapore. But for the first hop, we had roomy accommodation. Michael had his backpack on the seat behind him - it got a seatbelt of its own. I wish now Traal had been with me, instead of in the overhead locker, just so he could score a seatbelt like the rest of us.

Singapore. Changi Airport is... an airport. The one thing that most struck me was how similar it was to Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport. We arrived there in the wee small hours of the morning, but it was quite warm - and quite busy, too. People everywhere. There were notices up saying that they had wifi hotspots, so of course Traal came out; unfortunately they charge, so as soon as you try to do anything, they redirect you to a page that asks for a credit card. No posting from Singapore.

Next hop - Singapore-Dubai. We had the same seats on the same plane as we'd had from Melbourne, but now there were a LOT more people on board. I don't know if there were many who were travelling only as far as Singapore - it was an option, but by the look of the cabin there weren't many people missing. Heaps of Singapore-Dubai travellers though. No spare seats at all.

Dubai. What is this, an airport or a shopping center? We came in off the plane, went through a VERY abbreviated check (really just a glance at our passports), and then entered a huge multi-level shopping center. Imagine a place like Chadstone... it's something that's pretty modular, bits and pieces can be chopped and changed around without it disrupting anything much. Well, this was just the same, only it looked as if someone had been copying and pasting, and had forgotten to let go of Shift-Insert. It was HUGE.

The final leg of our journey was Dubai-Manchester, no stops. We had separate seat allocation for this. Again, though, we were in a 777, with seating 3-4-3; and again we'd picked a window seat and the seat adjacent to it.

It was a fun trip. I'm accustomed to resting on buses and trains (Michael isn't), so I did fairly well - rested in the airline seat. Unlike some people's idea of sleep, my rest can be taken in very brief snatches - in between being nudged to have something or other pointed out to you :) Consequently, when we arrived, I was... well, tired, but not too tired to go to a show that night. Which brings me to the next post...

Buxton, UK

Apologies to anyone who's been hoping for more. I haven't had much to say... and whenever there HAS been something, I've had no internet connection handy. So now I'm going to post the accumulated thoughts of all the no-connection times into a series of posts.

Well, we're here. Arrived Wednesday at about noon local time. Since then, I/we have:

* Watched the Savoynet production of HMS Pinafore. Pretty good show. Funny. Excellent Josephine.

* Attended the cabaret after the South Anglia Savoy Players' performance. Couldn't get a decent ticket to the show (Ida), but the cabaret was fun. They put on a "radio" version of Murder at Ruddigore Castle.

* Begun rehearsals with some of the new cast, and some of the old. So far rehearsals have been completely optional and only for the people who happen already to be here.

* Met a number of Savoynetters.

* Explored Buxton.

* Got in contact with several Threshers.

I'll expand on each of the above with another post. Hopefully I haven't missed anything major.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Off to the UK!

In just a few hours I'll be in the air, flying to Manchester, UK, via Dubai. I don't know whether I'll be able to be online or not, so for now, goodbye. If all goes well, we will be landing at about noon local time after almost exactly a day in the air.

There'll be a good number of Gilbert and Sullivan people on the plane - we have a group booking. Alas, I think it would NOT be well appreciated if we all start singing... if (as Miss Mackintosh says) it's madness to sing choruses in public, how much worse it must be to sing double choruses!

Oh wait. We're already mad. That's why we're all getting put in these tiny padded cells called "airline seats", and strapped in so we can't escape...

Monday, 6 August 2007

Last to leave...

It seems to be somehow intrinsic to my body that I have to be the last person to leave a place. All those forgotten jobs and forgotten items of property end up landing on me, which means I have to manage everything in my backpack - which makes it rather annoying when someone leaves behind an entire shopping bag full of costume pieces. Um.... hello? We're bumping out of the theatre, can't at least someone hang around??

I keep getting jobs dropped on me, too - not even "Chris, can you please ...", but simply an announcement to everyone saying "You can order copies of the CD through Chris" and that's the first I've ever heard of it. It seems I'm a horizontal surface for jobs to be put on.... hmm, so that's what all those pats on the head are for!

Sunday, 22 July 2007

RosMud version 1.3.7

There seems to be something about doing shows that lets me work on RosMud. Either that or I'm just running "hot" all week, and my brain keeps working even when the show work lets up for a while... On the way to our country trip of "Patience", I had the laptop with me (90 minutes there, 90 minutes back, a rehearsal and a performance in between) - and basically two things to do: Thresh and code. :)

* RM will no longer give a pseudoprompt at all if it has half an ANSI code. May prevent the weird crashes??
* Eliminated a potential buffer overrun bug involving prompts - may have the same benefit.
* Pseudoprompts are now strcopied instead of just referenced. A third attempt to prevent the same crashes.
* And now, working around someone _else's_ bug: A carriage return following a newline will be ignored, thus allowing pesky MUDs that send \n\r instead of \r\n to display correctly.
* And one real feature added: ANSI color definitions are now completely configurable. From the color dialog (View|Color), select Edit Colors - the exact red/green/blue for each color can be altered. You can make white brighter, or make bright white a sort of pinkish, or even completely swap blue and green, if you so desire.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

... A very good place to start

It's not often I post a link to a joke in my blog. Come to think of it, apart from this one... I've posted about zero. Well, there's a first time for everything.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Custard tarts

I ate a custard tart that I picked up off the ground, today.

Well, almost. I've been keeping track of all _money_ I pick up, and it was $1.50 of those coins that I spent on a custard tart.

Friday, 22 June 2007


Telemarketing. At the moment, everyone hates it. Australia's federal government has recently started advertising a National "Do Not Call" Register - but they're going about it the wrong way. For starters, they're advertising this register with banner ads. (How can that possibly be right?) Also, you apparently have to renew your "I hate telemarketing" plea annually, so you have to actively maintain that you're not interested. And this all leaves one big question: If nearly everyone hates telemarketing (a theory that a simple poll will surely support), and if the federal government can guarantee that my phone number won't be targeted for a year, then why can't they just do that without my having to do anything? Why can't they just abolish telemarketing altogether?

So here's my proposal. Abolish telemarketing as you know it. Instead, let's have a national register of people who have signed up to receive exclusive offers from Australian businesses. This register would naturally be a lot smaller than the phone book, but it would be fully opt-in, which is greatly preferable for the businesses advertising to it. Of course, the businesses would have to have some exclusive offer for this to work. (In the early stages, while the register is still small, the offers could be quite spiffy - there'll only be a handful of takers, so it won't hurt the business much. That would encourage uptake - "Belkin rang me to offer a wireless router and four wireless network cards at HALF PRICE!".) For charities seeking donations, an exclusive donor list (eg "Platinum Sponsors") for telephoned people who gave $100 would give similar exclusivity and attractiveness.

The end result of this would be an advertisable register that people would actually want to be on. Nobody would be annoyed by telemarketing any more - those who want its benefits get it, those who don't don't - and businesses would save a lot of money (would you rather phone a million people and get two responses, or phone a dozen people and get two responses?).

But nobody has the guts to do it, because in the short term it would completely kill telemarketing (until the register gets some numbers on it). That'd be a good thing for the consumer, a bad one for the advertisers.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Worst tick-list feature ever?

tick-list features: Features in software or hardware that customers insist on but never use (calculators in desktop TSRs and that sort of thing). The American equivalent would be "checklist features", but this jargon sense of the phrase has not been reported.
-- from the Free On-Line Dictionary Of Computing

When I first heard of Internet Explorer 7 adding tabbed browsing, I thought "tick-list feature". It was ho-hum, someone's finally catching up with the market. I've used Firefox for a long time now (and Firebird before that), and it's been important to me to be able to, for instance, spawn a million tabs with the links from a page, and let them all load in the background. So IE getting it was a case of "good feature, but hardly innovative".

But it's appallingly implemented. My boss at work uses IE7 for certain things, and he's tried to use tabs. But for some peculiar reason, sometimes it takes a long time to change tabs. Flicking from one tab to the other. It ought all to be in memory, it shouldn't take much effort to render the other page. But no... under certain circumstances - and not obscure circumstances either - it takes so long to switch to the other tab that it's actually worth going away and making a cup of coffee while you wait. Why?!

I found this post fascinating. Written by one "Tony Schreiner, a developer on the IE team", it details some of what it took to separate the outside of the window from the inside, thus allowing multiple insides but only one outside. As a software developer, I'm fully aware of the difficulties of separating two things that have never before been separated; so I don't begrudge Microsoft their five years' development time (or however long it actually took them) - but I DO object to this poor result. They've had long enough, they have sufficient developers on the project. Why can't they get something decent?

Get Firefox, folks. I've been using the 1.5 line for a while, and have recently (with the shift to my new computer) migrated to version 2.0 - there's a few things I don't like about a few of the features (1.5 was a bit cleaner and smoother), but it's a great browser.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

RosMud version 1.3.6

Version 1.3.6 is out... the patch was written backstage during a run of The Mikado, written and debugged in between my cues for the show :)

* Added display of Paused status to the statusbar. It's still un-obvious if you have neither toolbar nor statusbar, but at least now it's clearer if you only have one.
* RM now saves and loads its full ANSI color table. At some point I might make it possible to completely reconfigure the colours... for now it's just INI-file editable.
* Yay! Fixed that rapid travel bug, I think. At least, I've fixed something which could have caused it. If a half ANSI (or TELNET) code came in, it would go into the pseudoprompt; if a command came in while a half code was there, it might cause problems. I THINK this was what caused the crash, but I'm not sure. Certainly the behaviour (losing the first half of the code and keeping the second half) was NOT desirable. It's fixed now, anyhow, so hopefully... hopefully! the crash is gone.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Faulty bus?

After leaving work, I boarded the bus on my usual route, but part way along, it developed a fault. Either something electrical, or something with the pneumatics - the rear door (pneumatically controlled) wouldn't register that it was closed. Its notification system was beeping every second, indicating that the door was open - but the door was clearly closed. The driver got out, pushed the manual door release, and pulled the door open, then went back to his seat and tried the door closer. The front door opened, and simultaneously the back door closed part-way. Then he closed the front door, and opened it again, bringing the rear door a bit further closed. Eventually the rear door was closed, and finally it fell silent.

He called up the depot (this route runs straight past one of Ventura's bus depots, and we were within a few minutes of passing it - very convenient), and arranged to change buses. (There's always the odd bus sitting around in the depot. Usually in working order, too.) Meanwhile, he drove on, moving passengers through the front door only - but every time the bus stopped, even if the front door wasn't opened, the alarm started. Opening and closing the front door silenced it, though.

When we reached the depot, we went into the driveway, where the replacement bus had been parked in readiness. (This is standard arrangement with bus changeovers.) Our driver, a tad miffed by this time but still committed to providing a good service, parked the faulty bus (877) with its door aligned with the door of the replacement (number 815) and but a short step away. All passengers stepped across, and then the driver took his seat in the new bus. Problem. The position of 877 meant that we couldn't get out.

The driver called out towards the depot, "Matthew? Can someone take this bus, I can't take this one out!" - and he sounded a bit disgruntled. Well, maybe not disgruntled... but certainly far from being gruntled. Nobody responded, though, so our driver Went back into 877, closed the front door, and moved it along. He took it forward about half a bus length, then yelled back towards the depot "Move it", and got back into 815.

Someone in yellow hivis, greying/whiting beard, wearing a cap, came out and took 877 in. Was this Matthew?

Buses 107 and 102 (coaches) came into the depot as soon as the way was clear (the two buses, aligned side by side, completely blocked the driveway). I think one of them, at least, had been blocking traffic on Centre Road.

Only now did our driver "boot up" 815, and we moved out. We'd left Cheltenham at 4:30; it was now 4:56. It's usually about a 10-15 minute journey from there to here. The half-hour journey from there to Oakleigh ended up taking about 40 minutes, which isn't too bad under the circumstances. We caught up time fairly well after a technical hitch.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

The Mikado

Wheeeeeee.... curtain's just come down on our opening performance of The Mikado. Tremendous applause, everyone did well. Only a few tiny little botches - a little miscommunication between the director and the stage manager resulted in me being in the untenable position of arguing with Her Majesty the SM (for about 20 milliseconds, then I just obeyed even though it was wrong), but beyond that it was all pretty good.

Am blogging this courtesy of a wireless connection here - my new laptop has wifi, so I've been online all through the night. Google Docs is a great way to manage the show data, too!

Yes, this is a little incoherent. My thoughts are a bit random at the moment. I'm off to the gala supper now, there's a crowd out there. What fun!

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

If I should lose my sanity

In case I ever lose my sanity (assuming someone can tell the difference), here are some things to try, to bring me back to mental health:

* Chocolate. Chocolate cures everything... it's most effective on nearly-insane (rather than completely insane) patients though.
* Say "Basingstoke". There is no evidence that this is of any value to me, but it worked for Miss Mackintosh, so it can't hurt to try.
* Electroshock therapy: put a ThinkPad beneath my fingers. Effectiveness never tried, as the ThinkPad has seldom been anywhere _but_ beneath my fingers.
* Appeal to my sense of service. Come up to me and say, "Chris, I need a hand with some REXX work". Quite effective.
* Distract me with an appallingly disastrous concept. Something like: "Bill Gates has been proclaimed Emperor of Earth". Effectiveness depends on your creativity.
* Force of habit. Say any line from any Gilbert and Sullivan, and see if I respond with the next one. This has nothing to do with restoring sanity, but it might be entertaining to see what an insane mind comes up with.

Remember, the continued mental health of Threshold's most annoying geek may depend on you! So the question to ask yourself is... Shall I go to lunch, or shall I keep borging?

Monday, 21 May 2007

RosMud version 1.3.5

Version 1.3.5 eliminates a couple of potential crashes, and adds some minor features. There's also a new plugin, a calculator - see the web page.

* Analogously to Ctrl-PgDn to scroll down to the bottom, Ctrl-PgUp now scrolls up - to the most recent activity. Think of it as an "on-demand More pager" - when you press Ctrl-PgUp, the display will scroll such that your most recently entered command is at the top of the screen, followed by its output.
-- (See Options|Advanced for how to control automatic pausing on Ctrl-PgUp.)
* Fixed bug in plugin handlers that meant that Use_Hooks wasn't behaving correctly
* Eliminated a crash caused by DNS lookup failure
* Attempting to eliminate the crash that occurs randomly when travelling rapidly. The cause of the crash is uncertain, making debugging dodgy at best, but I've made some changes that have a positive (rather than negative) effect on performance, so it won't hurt to have made them even if the bug's still there. :)

Same download link, as always. The plugins are unchanged, except for calc.

Monday, 14 May 2007

RosMud version 1.3.4

A few minor tweaks. The scrolling improvements may not be obvious to all, but if you noticed any sort of visual problems with RosMud, hopefully this will fix them.

* Fixed the mini-icon which had some unsightly white pixels

* The MRU Window Position now saves the Normal position even if the window is maximized.

* View|Color now has two quick buttons on it - Monochrome and Default. Monochrome selects black text on white, ANSI disabled; Default selects grey text on black, ANSI enabled.

* Scrolling should now be much smoother and completely reliable.

Monday, 7 May 2007

RosMud version 1.3.3

RosMud 1.3.3 has some bugfixes and some new features.

* Added automated logging option - see Options|Advanced. Filename may include strftime() directives to incorporate portions of the current date.
* Improved prompt handling - local commands will no longer wipe out the prompt
* Made the prompt termination characters configurable (see Options|Advanced)
* Changed the default input box color from Windows default to coloured
* Changed a number of defaults to be more like GMud's (won't affect people who have INI files)

Friday, 4 May 2007


My first thought on seeing the number above was that someone was posting a couple of MAC addresses or something.

But it's not. As Elvion said:
Basically thats the decryption key that was released (leaked) last night to HD-DVD allowing linux users to watch HD-DVD. Incidentally it can be used to copy/burn it as well.

The question was asked, is DRM worthwhile? My response:

I think DRM is tackling a real problem by the wrong method. Copyright protection is a genuine issue, but DRM is not the right solution. As I see it, the solution is to imitate another realm.

Look at photocopiers. When they first came in, the printing industry got really afraid. What happens now? Do people go to the library, borrow a book, photocopy it all, and return it? Not often. Why? Because it's against the law, and because it's so convenient to buy the book for yourself.

DRM is an attempt to prevent unauthorized use. It also makes legitimate use much harder. That is not a good thing. It needs to be really easy and convenient for someone to pay their money and listen to the song (or whatever it is they're wanting to do), and then people will do it. But get into an arms race against the pirates, and they'll win - because it's much harder for the manufacturers to uproot and change techniques. Freely distributed information will always beat the lockdown - eventually.

Anything involving embedded devices (eg DVD players) gets locked into whatever technology was considered stable at time of production. Suppose that includes some brilliant encryption technique, straight from the military. All DVDs could be encrypted, and all players have the decryption. That'd prevent other people from decoding the discs in some other system. But what happens in a couple of years, when that encryption algorithm is cracked? Do you recall all DVD players? Impossible. Do you release a new standard and try to expire the old? Also difficult.

Make it easy to do the right thing, and prosecute pirates in the civil courts. Build a culture in society that says it's OK to buy and not OK to steal. It works in other industries - shoplifting may add something to the price of your groceries, but it doesn't drive supermarkets out of business.

RosMud version 1.3.2

A bugfix release for RosMud, 1.3.2 incorporates the following changes:

* Smoothed out scrolling a little less, hopefully eliminating a redraw problem with the use of a scroll wheel.

* Eliminated a potential resource leak (I think!) regarding the use of CreateSolidBrush() in response to the WM_CTLCOLOREDIT message. This should cure the reported problem that sometimes the whole window goes white - this seems to be due to a lack of GDI resources available, due to that leak.

It's available from the same URL (see the links on the right hand side).

Songs and Hymns

Want some worthwhile music to listen to? How about old famous hymns, rendered by skilful singers who love what they're doing and are singing for the glory of God? has a large number of hymns represented, and for each one you can access an MP3 file of people singing it, the music score in GIF format (scanned in - the quality's not 100% perfect but you can read it), a text version of the lyrics (excellent for Google integration - if you get a deep link to the Lyrics page, you can access the rest from there), the story behind the hymn, and a devotional piece relating to it.

They've recently undergone a bit of a web site revision, so deep linking may not be working at present, but that will settle down somewhat over a little while as the site gets reindexed.

A good hymn to start with is Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah which has a spectacular rendition.

If you enjoy singing harmonies (as I do), these make excellent backing. The chords are clearly audible in both the accompaniment and the singing.

To God be the glory!

Saturday, 28 April 2007

All in the name of good roleplay

Veradisia, a fairly new psion, pops into Herastia's temple for a chat. The roleplay that ensues is great fun. We end up playing with Rosuav's bubble, I project a holographic image onto it, filter the light coming through it, she bounces off the inside of it... marvellous.

I love psions.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

RosMud++ is going live!!


RosMud, after four and a half months of development, is now being released to the world!!! No longer restricted to Threshold people, it is now available to all and sundry from my web site, The Esstu Pack. Full documentation is on the page, which is also included in the ZIP download.

Many thanks to all the alpha and beta testers who gave feedback, and to Dalaena of Threshold RPG for giving it a final check-over. Have fun, all!!

Thursday, 15 March 2007

RosMud version 1.2.0

RosMud's almost out of beta. When it goes live, I'll post a download link here... and in Utopian terms, the date's not distant!

As well as a number of feature additions, this release includes a couple more plugins. One of them gives a graphical representation of hitpoints/spellpoints/endurance points (coded for Threshold RPG but could handle something else with minimal changes), and another automates calls to TinyURL - you simply post a long URL and it will detect this and take it to for shortening!

Saturday, 10 March 2007

A new belt for Rosuav

For over a RL year, Rosuav has worn a Champion's Belt. Today I replaced it with a Belt of Hegemony, to which Rosuav has been entitled for some time, but without jewels to put in it, it would have been of no value.

So now Rosuav is a hegemon with a Belt of Hegemony. Every one of his old belt's benefits has been either duplicated, transferred, or improved upon, in his new belt. Five polished jewels provide significant benefit, and one available slot is waiting to be filled with either another cerebral jewel, or possibly an enthralling jewel.

And for the first time in a very long time, he has only 2,500 coin in his bank account!

Thursday, 1 March 2007

RosMud version 1.1.0

RosMud's almost out of beta. Version 1.1.0, released today, introduces the following features:

Added "Save as HTML" - save the current buffer (this isn't an ongoing log) as "kinda-HTML" - it has tags but not much else. Firefox reads it no probs, but it's not actually a complete, standards-compliant HTML file.
Added Ctrl-W to close current window
Added "cursor position on command recall" option to keyboard settings
Boosted the priority of the socket-read thread - should improve perceived performance
Added toolbar and statusbar
Added "Advanced Options" dialog with one option - Down arrow key behaviour
Added support for auto-connect (similar to GMud's - pass RosMud.exe a parameter which is the abbreviation of a world name, and it'll autoconnect to that world)

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

RosMud is now out of Alpha!

Today RosMud++ achieves status as beta! It is now available for download by all registered users of Threshold RPG; the download URL has been posted in-game and on the forums.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my alpha team, who have been invaluable:
  • Tolegu
  • Ameliana
  • Akhafta
  • Marah
  • Solubynn
  • Gromgor
  • Loigan
  • Griswyl
  • Zeala
  • Sekla
  • Mythalos
  • Sevissi
  • Bael
  • Leveth
  • Leshrak
Special thanks to Bael and Leshrak, who have Vista and 64-bit XP respectively, for testing on these systems.

Friday, 16 February 2007

There's a new smell in Box Hill!

Box Hill Central is a shopping centre and public transport narthex. A major railway line runs underneath, numerous buses congregate on the top like bees around a honey pot, and in between, a large number of shops (both majors and small specialties) cater to the daily commuters. I travel through here several times a week on the way to rehearsals, and am intimately familiar with its layout and all the various sights, sounds, and smells.

Today a new smell met me. A stand that was being set up on Tuesday, today is in business. "Puffy" make custard-filled cookies, and when finally I was able to sample one ($A1.60 each, discounts for bulk purchase), I was highly satisfied.

Three people work the stand, and at the time I came (6pm on Thurs), the queue was long. This was not due to inefficiency on the part of the staff - on the contrary, all three (and especially the lady filling the cookies and handling customers) impressed me with the speed and smoothness of their operations. There was a few minutes' delay at one point while there were no cookies cooled and ready, but apart from that, all moved swiftly and constantly.

At 6:10 I joined the queue, which would have had about 15-25 people in it. When I reached the head of the queue, it had neither lengthened nor shortened appreciably. Service was swift and professional, with skilful handling of equipment leading to a fairly constant throughput of cookies and rapid customer service.

THe cookie itself was no less than I had hoped for. Baked to perfection and not overdone, with a custard filling that would spill out onto your hand if you treat it carelessly, the cookie was worth the wait. Some people decided to abandon the queue rather than wait - one with some disparaging comments - but for those who spent the 5-10 minutes needed, the result was not disappointing.

One slight downside was the price list. Posted as only an A4 sheet of paper, it was not easy to locate until I actually stood in the queue. One lady actually asked me if the cookies were free, presumably because she hadn't seen a price anywhere. Apart from that, however, there was little or nothing to fault in operation or results.


Availability/visibility: 9/10
Service: 10/10
Cookie: 10/10
Overall: 10/10

Definitely worth a visit; possibly will do better outside of evening peak time.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Alpha 4!!

This may be the last alpha of RosMud++ before it goes beta! Nearly all the features are coded that will be coded.

One of the latest features is plugins, called Penguins. From the docs:

DLL hooks
Third party "penguins" can be written to hook into input and/or output, and can create local output (but cannot send commands to the MUD) or perform any UI action desired (eg open a window on screen, beep, etc). Note that piling in too many penguins can result in a performance penalty as each one has to be given a "go" at the lines of text before they can be processed. But on a decently modern computer, the delay won't be too noticeable.

*Caution* A badly written penguin can cause havoc to RosMud. If loading a penguin causes problems such that you cannot start RosMud, go to the RosMud directory and edit Penguins.ini - simply remove the line naming the offending penguin, and it won't be loaded.

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

RosMud++ Alpha 3

More improvements, less bugs. More usable. Less missing. Hopefully, making its way towards beta!

Thursday, 25 January 2007

RosMud++ now in Alpha 2

Today I release RosMud++ Alpha 2, and atone with a cathedral!

Well, I'm not exactly Sir Despard Murgatroyd, but I'm releasing an alpha all the same. Alpha 2 is a significant improvement on Alpha 1, in fact it's actually possible to use it (though it's definitely still inferior to other clients - but what do you expect in three weeks of programmer's spare time?!!).

Those who asked to be a part of this should have the binary now, and perhaps even have crashed it already. Comments are welcome here. It's no-holds-barred, speak your mind, tell me what a rotten programmer I am if you like!!

Saturday, 20 January 2007

RosMud++ Alpha 1

RosMud has reached alpha! A small testing team has it in their hands, but it's far from release-ready yet.

Comments, bug reports, and the like, all welcome here.

Friday, 19 January 2007

RosMud++ and "Passive Mode"

By popular request on Threshold, I'm in process of rewriting the widely used client GMud, and in the process adding features - especially, abolishing the 500-line limit on scrollback.

The list of features added will have to get documented somewhere, some time, but for now, here's a sneak preview of one of the geekiest - but potentially quite useful to non-geeks too - features RosMud++ adds: Passive mode.

RM's default mode is "Active", which is the way most clients work. A connection is opened to a pre-existing server, for instance Threshold RPG (, port 23), and the server responds.

Passive mode inverts that, and turns RosMud into the server. Select the port you want to use, and choose Passive mode, and then use whatever other client you wish (RosMud++, GMud, any telnet client) to connect to that port. RosMud will create a new subwindow for each client connection, so you can actually juggle several of them independantly.

Some possible uses of this:
  • Poor-man's chat server. Pick a port, tell someone else your IP address and the port you picked, and create yourself a little chat room all of your own.
  • Taking control of a web browser or other program. Anything that uses TCP and sends commands with line breaks (and that's a lot of programs) can talk to RosMud++. Pick port 80 and point your browser to - you'll see how it talks to a web server. Type something into RM, then press Ctrl-F4 to disconnect and close the subwindow, and poof! The text you typed is shown in the browser.
  • Showing off how geeky you are!
When using Passive mode, the "Host name" must be either "" or else an IP address representing this computer.

If all this is too confusing, just remember: Leave "Active" selected and it's just like GMud.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Tom Jones

The Gilbert and Sullivan Society is marking the centenary of the opera "Tom Jones" with a concert performance. In Honour (pun intended) of this, I've started sequencing a few bits and pieces of the music. So far there's only one of publishable quality and completeness: Sophia's waltz from Tom Jones.

Thursday, 4 January 2007


A new version of Rosband has been uploaded to - a few small modifications, including a bug fix relating to the "teleport-to" monster spell. If you have Angband already installed, simply overwrite Angband.exe with the new one - no other file needs to be changed.

Monday, 1 January 2007

It's un-kanney

In the world of Threshold, Rosuav has a dear friend named Kanne. In the world of Terra, I have a dear sister named Alethea. And the two behave amazingly similarly. They're even roughly the same height (and Rosuav's about as tall as I am), so the dynamics of having one or other sit in my lap comes out similar. Thea is a cute four-year-old, and Kanney's a dryad - adult but maintains young appearance. Uncannily similar, and both very much loved.