This is BrainLog, a blog by Dan Sanderson. Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained. See the front page and newer entries.

August 2008 Archives

August 25, 2008

Interactive fiction has come to the iPhone with a great port of the Frotz Z-Machine player. It's free. To solve the problem of getting IF game files to the phone, Craig built an Internet-powered game file browser directly into the application. Very nice.

I don't mean to spoil anything by saying this out loud, but I wonder if this technically violates Apple's terms of service, which forbids language interpreters. I would presume that it would especially forbid interpreters that can evaluate code off of an arbitrary website. Of course, the definition of "interpreter" is debatably fuzzy, as any data-driven app could be considered an interpreter of the data. But Frotz is a straightforward example of an interpreter of code, and if the terms of service forbids interpreters for security reasons (Apple doesn't yet trust their own app sandboxing, or just doesn't trust app authors to do their own sandboxing), those concerns would apply to Frotz.

August 23, 2008

Static publishing doesn't scale?

The Movable Type installation for this site is starting to get a bit difficult to maintain, to the point that I can no longer publish pages from the web interface. Dreamhost, perhaps specifically targeting MT installations, or perhaps not, has their web servers configured to kill the publishing process before it can complete. The background process that publishes new articles every morning still gets the job done, so it's clearly just the web server that's giving up early.

Unfortunately, this means approving comments is nearly impossible now. I still receive the comments by email, so by all means continue to post if you're so inclined. Comments posted to my continuously popular article on disabling shuffle and repeat modes on an iPhone always make my day. I just can't promise they'll all make it to the site. I've removed the "chatter" box from the sidebar, at least temporarily. That doesn't help with publishing, unfortunately, but should make the overall experience less disappointing.

I used to think it crazy that people would dynamically generate pages from the database on every request when the content changes almost never, with no caching layer, just because PHP made it easy to do. It turns out it is static page generation that doesn't scale, at least within a web UI and on 1990's architecture. I'll come up with something new next time I get a chance, which at this rate will be 2009 at the earliest.

August 14, 2008

Mac 101: Pressing F5 in a text field. I hadn't known.

August 13, 2008

Rock-a-fire Explosion 4ever! Vintage Showbiz Pizza robots reprogrammed to perform contemporary rock songs, some with new recordings by the original Rock-a-fire vocalists, with videos uploaded to YouTube. Awesome.

Somewhere I still have my Rock-a-fire Explosion LP, which I listened to endlessly on an old record player purchased at a yard sale when I was a kid.

August 12, 2008

The 100 Most Common English Words. I got 38.

The Tombs of Asciiroth, a slick old-school arcade adventure game you can play in your browser, offline with Google Gears, or as an Adobe Air app.