Archive for September, 2011


or, Feeling Your Headache Melting Away is the Best Feeling in the World.

Went to TCEP 18 this year. Had a blast. I’ll be honest; the whole convention was something of a blur for me, especially now, two weeks after the fact. There were a few things that stood out, though, and some of them were freaking hilarious, so I’ll share.

Friday was Hell On Earth for me. At least, it was, until about 11:00, at which point I handed off the documents I needed to turn in, and left the office. I didn’t know for sure if I was going to be well enough to attend the convention, but when I got home, I realized that the relaxing sensation I was feeling on my commute was my stress headache dissipating. I packed my bags, and off I went to the con.

I left right at the beginning of rush hour; this was a mistake. Fortunately, I made it through rush hour to Laurel with a minimum of fuss. The trip took about 70 minutes longer than it should have, but I arrived in one piece (as did the Little Red Truck), and promptly set about unloading the con suite, which showed up about five minutes behind me. After that was done, I set out to eat dinner with the other carnivores; normally, I head out on the bait run, but I really needed mass quantities of red meat. I ordered a ribeye, bloody rare. What I got was a piece of shoe leather, introduced to fire, so I sent it back. The second plate came out with a perfect steak, and I promptly set about enjoying it. After that, I recall some games happening, but I can’t for the life of me remember which ones…

Saturday came, and with it came more gaming and socializing. Not that I remember much of what, at this point, other than “fun”.

Sunday was somewhat more memorable. There was a LARP scheduled: Miskatonic Class Reunion. A good time was had by all. Byron, who was in charge of the game, had previously asked me if I wanted to play or run, and I asked him to put me where I was most needed. I got handed a shill. My entire purpose in the game was to stand up in front of everyone, tell them how awesome the punch was, and they really ought to try it, start to make a speech… and then keel over dead. I felt my death scene was particularly well done. Poor HotMamaB, though, later cussed me out for it. Apparently, her train of thought at the start of the game was similar to this:

“What the heck!? Since when does Tony wear a suit? Great! I actually get to play in a game with Tony! Wait, he’s dead. Dammit!”

…or something like that, anyway. What I particularly remember was the cross look on her face when she realized that, no, I was Really Most Sincerely Dead.

While everyone else was playing, I ended up running out for lunch with Joan, and we found this really neat little pan-Asian joint about five miles down the road, and it was fabulous. As in, I really enjoyed what I ate, and the prices weren’t even wince-worthy. After I got back, I promptly got dragged in as a GMs handyman, to handle props and stuff that Byron didn’t have enough hands to deal with. It was fun, running around and sticking little red stars on people who had no clue why they were getting them…

More gaming happened after that, and HotMamaB’s Sprog #2 pulled out a really classy move in Apples to Apples. When the adjective was “comedic”, Sprog  #2–who is seven–pulled out “my first time”. Byron promptly fell out of his chair, and came to report this move to HotMamaB, who started imitating a tomato. I have the coolest friends, with the coolest sprogs, and they provide endless entertainment. I also ended up failing to reign in my helium hand; more on that will probably come in a later post.

Monday morning was kind of a drag; I got to hang out with everyone, but I kept getting the usual end-of-con feeling of not wanting it to end. We gamed, we laughed, we partied, we had an excellent time. Hopefully, I’ll see everyone again next year, and perhaps even some new faces.

or, Convincing Oneself is the Next Step Toward Insanity.

I’m not a programmer, dammit. I keep telling this to people who ask, and I keep telling this to myself. Yet, here I am, admittedly flailing about more like a yard-guard scr1pt-k1dd!3 than doing Significant Things, but I’ve written another package for your amusement.

This one also starts with technical difficulties in operating the Top Secret Radio Network. When I built the TSRN website, we were broadcasting over a ShoutCast server hosted at tess.fast-serv.com, and things were very simple. Things remained simple when I spun up a ShoutCast server at rbx.topsecretradio.net to replace tess. Things got even simpler when I moved the website to its new home on rbx as well. Then things sat stagnant for a while.

You may recall my post from last month wherein I described a plugin I’d developed for Exaile to support updating title information on a ShoutCast an Icecast server. I realized at some point last night that while I’d switched the server from ShoutCast to Icecast, I hadn’t updated the website to reflect this change.

The website sports a ticker on the right-hand panel that displays current server information, including the stream title, current track, and listener numbers. The ticker is derived (read: ripped wholesale) in large part from the MusicTicker XML package that I located while trying to find something to handle this function. This package hasn’t been updated in years, but it did what I needed it to do, with a minimum of fussing around with it. The problem: it only deals with ShoutCast XML; if you feed it Icecast XML for an active stream, it gags and dies. I wanted to fix this. It shouldn’t be that difficult, right?

Well, it wasn’t that difficult a fix, really; it only involved me staying up until 0500 beating my head on PHP’s supposedly ‘SimpleXML’ parser (which is, I guess, if you’re a stronger programmer than I am). The end result is the beginnings of a replacement, which vaguely resembles MusicTicker.  It’s not quite where I want it yet, and it only really supports monitoring one mountpoint at a time, but it seems to be doing the trick for the moment. I have some plans to work on this some more in the next few days to handle everything I want it to handle, but it’s in a sufficiently advanced state that I felt okay sharing it with everyone. You can get it here:

git clone http://www.dragonsroost.org/src/iceticker.git

Normally, I would release it under the revised BSD license, but because it’s derived from a GPLv2-licensed work, I’ve released it under the terms of the GPLv3. As usual, there is neither warranty nor active support, but I’ll probably answer short questions about it.