jump to navigation

Eight Years of Link Rot September 12, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment.
Tags: , , , ,
18 comments

Years ago, back when the when we thought the World Wide Web was new and cool and we actually called it the World Wide Web and you had to have “www” in front of a web address because otherwise somebody might think you wanted Gopher access to their site for Christ’s sake, back then I read an interview with Douglas Engelbart.  Or maybe it was somebody else.  It could have been Ted Nelson.  Or maybe it was a dream.  I have learned that memory is unreliable which is why, in part, I write this blog.  Anyway, Douglas Engelbart is the guy who invented or bundled together the idea of just about everything you take for granted in computing today, only those ideas never quite came across as envisioned.  Basically, we messed it all up along the way.  It is what we do best.

And in this interview, some young reporter, gushing to be interviewing the person who came up with the very idea of Hypertext, asked him if this whole shiny new World Wide Web thing was the wonderful rainbow-streaked living embodiment of all he had foreseen.  Wasn’t this just what he beheld all those years back when he was given a nearly divine vision of the future?

And the response, from whoever it was… and I am paraphrasing here, because I cannot remember his actual withering retort… was approximately “Jesus Fuck No!”

And his objection didn’t even reference GeoCities.

No, he was pissed off that he had envisioned a vast interlinking of information systems that would allow the user to find all he needed smoothly and seamlessly, and what we had created was a mess of hand typed static URIs that would fail to connect the moment something in the path moved or changed.  We had taken his vision of Hypertext and created from it a living hell of link rot.  I don’t think he used the actual term “link rot,” though he might have.

And this was, as I said, during an earlier era of the web, before link rot was a really big deal.  Visionary that he was, he foresaw this as he foresaw so much else.  He could see the linkpocalypse coming.  Actually, it probably was Ted Nelson.  He literally hates HTML.  But it doesn’t matter, we’re still screwed, having been left with this sort of thing now.

The World Wide Web, as it turns out, is a place where we mostly used to be able to find stuff, but it keeps disappearing.  Often, the happiest result is getting the dread 404 errors, which have become common enough that we have taken to making them cute or pretty or different, so as to make the failure of one link or another more pleasant.

The EVE Online 404 error page

The EVE Online 404 error page

And 404 is good compared to the alternatives.  You are just as likely to get somebody cybersquatting on a URL with ads and malware.  This seems to be the common end for self-hosted blogs.  People stop updating, then stop paying the bill, and then the domain expires and the next day there is a spam page sitting there dispensing shit where once there was something of value.

Some days I hate the internet.

If it were not for the Internet Archive I am sure I would think myself crazy, remembering so many virtual things that have, for one reason or another, shed even their virtual existence and disappeared.

Basically, I am eight years down the road on the whole blogging thing today, and I can really see how annoying the whole link rot thing can be.  I can channel Engelbart’s rage… or whoever that was in the interview I cannot find… because internet.

I go back and look at old posts at least once a month, thanks to my month in review posts, and I end up running into more and more old posts with dead links.  I have always frowned upon posts with supporting arguments available only as links (the awful “go read this and come back” posts), but I am becoming more convinced that I need to quote as much as possible in blog posts, so as to make each post as self-contained as possible, that it might make sense five years down the road when the link to the source material has gone bad.  But I cannot copy things wholesale, as I do not want to steal the works of others.  So there is this middle ground of trying to include enough to support what I am saying, knowing whatever links I include may go away (as an example, SOE has a habit of just changing their web site hierarchy every two years because “fuck the web” I guess, so the data is generally still there, it just has a different URI), without actually stealing the works of other and actually encouraging people to visit other sites.  Community, yo.

All of which is something of an odd intro into my 8 year anniversary post (trivia: Blog created at 17:04 UTC on September 12, 2006), but here we are, eight years in and I am feeling the pain of being on the internet.  For those with more free time than sense, you can go back and look at past anniversary blog posts to see how I have held up over the years.

I had originally thought of going with Self-Portrait at Eight Years Old Wearing a Helm with Giant Horns as a post title, but I thought maybe I might be getting into references too obscure for mere mortals.  Plus I couldn’t come up with an decent image to go with that title, while images of 404 messages are legion.

Anyway, it is at this point I start trotting out various and sundry statistics and other bits of trivia, with some sort of forward looking message at the end.  If you are interested in that sort of thing, you will find it after the cut.  If not, well… there are plenty of happy destinations in the side bar.  And most of those links are still good!

(more…)

What is the “Go To” Site for Your Game? August 24, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment.
11 comments

I often mention, and link to, Feldon and his site EQ2 Wire when writing about EverQuest II.

EQ2WireLogo

For me, that is the “go to” site for information and analysis of what is going on with the game.  And that is all the site focuses on, so there is nothing else there to get in the way.

As a site, because of its focus, it helps me keep in touch with a game that I might otherwise have drifted well away from.  Not that drifting away would be a bad thing, and sometimes I think I ought to just let it go as the songs says.  But I remain an interested observer for a game that was once my main focus.

I like having such a site available, all the more so when it focuses on a game I play.  Back in the day Allakhazam used to be the “go to” site for EverQuest, though once it became a commercial site (owned by gold sellers at one point) it lost some of its edge and relevance, so today it is barely good for press releases.

And with World of Warcraft there is always WoW Insider.  Its main problem is that, as another commercial site, it has to publish daily, even if there is nothing to say.  They can’t just say, “no news today.”  And they also live in the shadow of Blizzard itself, which does a good job of putting information out on its own site, such that if you follow the official feed something like WoW Insider can feel redundant.

But for most MMOs I don’t really have a “go to” site that I know and trust.  I can always get the press release over at Massively.  If I want to know about NCsoft’s financials or the latest updates for Runescape, MMO Fallout has me covered.  And I suppose I have double coverage for EVE Online with TMC and EN24, though I don’t feel that either site covers the game as well as they could for various political/editorial reasons.  TMC covers a lot of other stuff these days, while EN24 spends a lot of time regurgitating blog posts. (Including my own for a while, because ISK.)

But for dedicated coverage for Rift or GuildWars 2 or EverQuest, or any number of other MMOs, I don’t really have a place to go aside from the official sites, which can be very hit an miss, or sites that cover a lot of games, in which case things often get lost in the blur.

So today I am wondering what site you go to for coverage of your chosen MMO.  What sites will that niche for the various games?

They see me bloggin’, they syndic-hatin’ August 2, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment.
Tags: , , , ,
9 comments

Google is out there giving me the Luigi Death Stare on yet another front.

He means business...

He means business…

It is interesting to see how much Google affects traffic at my site, and how much changes they make at their end can cause that traffic to ebb and flow.  They change their rankings of results, they decide to cache images for Google image search rather than going to your site, they shut down things like Google Reader, all of that has had a noticeable impact on the number of page views here at The Ancient Gaming Noob.

Currently, the big variable in daily traffic is search engine related.  Unless somebody links in me a post on their own blog, the rest of my daily visitors are pretty regular, a lot of them coming from the much coveted (by those of us using WordPress) blogroll side bar widget that Blogger offers.

I love that feature.  It works.

While the static blogroll in my own side bar barely generates any traffic for other sites, that Blogger widget that shows you who has a fresh post up, that actually gets clicks.

So I was a little bemused when that wonderful widget stopped working last week.

It didn’t go away or completely break, it just seemed to stop picking up new post for me.

If you went to one of the sites that uses that sidebar widget… Blessing of Kings, Player Versus Developer, Greedy Goblin, Herding Cats… right now, as I am writing this on Saturday, August 2nd, it would tell you that my current post is the one from Wednesday, July 30th.

PvD_Sidebar

Basically, nothing new to see at TAGN, don’t bother clicking!  And that actually has an impact on page views.  The sites I mentioned actually send me some regular daily traffic.

Not that page views are the most important thing in the world.  But I like people to know I’m active at least!

Normally I would just blame this sort of thing on WordPress.  They like to break things, giving me a supply of site related fodder for my month in review posts.  Most people use the default RSS feed that WordPress provides.

Only I was not having a similar problem with Feedly and other, non-Blogger sites, like EVE Bloggers seemed to be having no problem at all picking up my latest posts.  And the feed itself looked okay.  So it was time to experiment.

I was able to enlist Bhagpuss and the blogroll at Inventory Full for this.

I have two RSS feeds for this site.  One is the default WordPress feed and another goes through FeedBurner, yet another Google company.  I was wondering if Google might be more inclined to find my updates if they were coming from FeedBurner.

And it looks like they are.  Go to Bhagpuss’ site and it shows my current post.  Probably this one at the moment.  All of which is double strange, since the FeedBurner feed is actually generated from the default WordPress feed.  But Google seems to like it when FeedBurner sends them updates.

So here is my plea to my fellow bloggers using that blogroll side bar widget:

Can you swap over and use my FeedBurner feed?  It is linked there and at the top of my side bar.

Thanks!

PS Occasionally somebody mentions that something is wrong with my feed, the it suddenly spew out a bunch of recent posts flagged as new again.  While WordPress controls that feed (so I cannot do much) you might try the FeedBurner feed as well to see if the problem goes away.

PPS I don’t have to explain the whole syndicating/syndic-hatin’, Rollin’ Dirty, Luigi death stare thing, do I?

 

 

Hot Blaugust Nights July 31, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment.
Tags: ,
1 comment so far

August is in the wings, waiting to bring with it the usual end of summer ennui on the gaming front.

Nothing new ships.  Very little gets announced.  The releases we are looking forward to are generally somewhere off in autumn.  At times it feels like you should join half of France and just take August off.

Over at Tales of the Aggronaut, Belgahst has proposed something to help bloggers get through August.

He calls it Blaugust.

Blagust_No_BR

The basic idea is simple: Put up a post a day on your blog during the month of August.

There are of course rules as to what counts, but to sweeten the deal there is also a community cross-linking thing going on, some potential prizes, and some topic suggestions that you can use or ignore at your pleasure.

Belghast explains it all in The Gospel of Blaugust, including the whole Anook aspect of things, which I am still pondering.  Go check it out.

Now, I suspect the immediate reaction from some will be that more posts are not necessarily better.

True enough.

But over the long term… just about eight years at this point… I have often found that longer “thinking” posts sometimes get overtaken by events and look horribly naive or just uninformed even a year later.  (Granted, that might just be me or just the things I write.)

On the other hand, some things that I have hesitated even to post, things like a game launched, an expansion shipped, some numbers were announced, or the ever amusing quote of the day, turn out to be nuggets of information I fall back on later.  Nothing like having a library of past Smed quotes when he is off on his latest bout of enthusiasm.

Basically, never stop posting.

Anyway, we shall see.  I come pretty close to posting once a day as it is, and Belghast looks like he’ll give us a pass if we get in 31 posts during the month, so I might actually be able to play video games on the weekends still rather than writing about them!

TAGN Theme Test July 31, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment, polls.
30 comments

I was playing around with WordPress themes last night and came up with this one… which happens to be the same one I use for my other blog, Piano Black, with some different colors.

What do you think?

 

I’ve kept the old theme for nearly eight years.  Is it time for a change?

Addendum: For reference, you can see the old theme layout here.

Newbie Blogger Initiative Class of 2014 June 1, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment.
Tags: , ,
2 comments

The Newbie Blogger Initiative has run its month of new blogger recruiting this year.

NBI_Logo_450

While I haven’t contributed anything to this year’s event, aside from pointing at it briefly a month back, I thought I would take a moment to list out all of the new blogs that have joined the ranks of the insane over worked those who came before.  It looks like a total of 35 45 new blogs participated in the event. (Did I miss anybody?)  Please take a little time to check out our new neighbors in the blogesphere.

Past history says that only 25-30% of this group will still be blogging a year from now.  Who looks like they will make it for the long haul?

Too soon?

Addendum: I missed a few blogs, only finding the definitive list long after I wrote this post.

Newbie Blogger Initiative 2014 Starts Today May 1, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment.
Tags: , , ,
9 comments

Over at the official, permanent NBI HQ site, the kick off for the 2014 campaign has begun.  There are community building activities planned for people who want to start new blogs as well as current bloggers who want to help a new crop join their ranks.

NBI_Logo_450

I am not planning to do much myself as part of the 2014 NBI campaign.  I’ll join in a group blogging topic if one comes up, but I haven’t signed on for anything in particular.

Mostly that is because I am not sure I have much to add… certainly nothing new since last year.   Or the year before.  And for all my talk about community, I am bad at community.

I wrote a post almost two years back that had nine items I thought were useful to consider if you going to start a blog.  And of those, I only felt one was important.  I’ll repeat that one, so you don’t even have to go back and look at my old post.

Be The Blog You Want to Read

Even that seems to be sort of a “duh” statement.

But seriously, I presume that you have decided to jump into MMO blogging after having read some other MMO blogs.  And those blogs have probably made an impression on you.  And I bet some of those sites had aspects you did not like.  Don’t do those things.  Your blog should be the example you want others to follow.

Anyway, if you want to start a blog, the NBI is a fine way to get some support and advice on blogging.  The only thing I would flag is that most everything is opinion based on what has worked for that individual.  Certainly my own list linked above is pretty much what has worked for me.  It may not work for you.  Hell, you might not even want to write a blog you want to read for all I know!

As an example, over at Contains Moderate Peril, there is a post up about starting a gaming blog that has a very heavy emphasis on writing as a craft.  Excellent stuff in that post.  If you are starting a blog and you want to be taken seriously as a writer… say you want to become a paid games journalist or find a way into the game industry… you should live those rules.  They are excellent.

But I wouldn’t say they were strictly necessary to be a blogger.

Liore of Herding Cats once asked me on Twitter how I find the time to write so many posts.  My response was:

…Low standards. I cannot emphasize how much just wanting to write something, versus wanting to write something good, helps out.

It made an impression on her, and has worked for me because if I spent the time to work at my blog like it was my profession, I would drop to about 10% of my current output.  Instead of a few quality posts, I push out a lot of crap. (Unfortunate comparison intentional.)

Most of what you read here is banged out and posted in pretty much a first draft state after something like an hour or less of work.  You can pretty much assume I have pushed the “publish” button too soon for any post.

Sometimes I have a post that sits for a while and I add to it over time, but that often ends up looking just as bad.  My thoughts change over time, and you can see, sometimes in the same paragraph, or even the same sentence, where I went away and came back with a different impression of what I was about.  And the typo density remains the same.

So my stuff tends to be short bits… short being a relative term here, I seem to be able to bang out a thousand words pretty quickly… that often reflect not only something that happened recently, but how I feel about it at that moment in time.  And that latter can change over time.  Part of what is interesting about the blog for me is charting my own opinion on things, my focus, my enthusiasms, and how they shift and change.

So it is important for me to say what I want to say when I am as close to the moment as I can possibly be.

That said, I do go back and fix my typos.  I am embarrassed by them.  I find them distracting.  I do not want them to be there.  I am just incapable of seeing them until a post has been published.

As an alternative to the CMP post linked above, there is a more philosophical post on starting a blog over at ALT:ernative Chat.

My point is really that you shouldn’t take anybody very seriously who says you must do “X” to be a blogger.  The blog will be your own and, if you stick with it and enjoy it, you will work out what is important to you.

Finally, I will say that my only real regret as a blogger is that I did not start sooner.  I really wish I had a chronicle that went back to the launch of EverQuest II, or to the early days of EverQuest, or my time back in TorilMUD, or my days back in the 80s playing games like Stellar Emperor or Air Warrior back on GEnie. (Of course, there were no blogs back then, but you get the idea.)

I can write about those times as bits of history, but I can never really explain how I viewed those games and the people in them at the moment I was there.  Lots of little bits of detail and color have been washed out of my brain over the years, to the point that I can now remember a sense of a feeling of excitement over something that might very well have happened to somebody else.  See what getting old does?

So, if you’re going to get to it… well… then get to it!  You may regret the time you waste.

Oh, and link whoring.  Must not forget that.

See?  I totally had nothing to say about the NBI. (Word count: ~1,000)

Blog Side Bar Experimentation December 5, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment, Feeds.
Tags: ,
14 comments

Not a gaming post

In what was a bit of a conjunction of two things, I started tinkering with the side bar of the blog last night.

The first thing was my ongoing insane jealousy over the side bar blogroll feature that bloggers who use Google’s Blogger have access to.  The bit that shows the latest post, sorts by date, and so on.  This turns the blogroll into a living thing that people actually look at and use.  My referral stats bear out the idea that blogs that have this feature correctly implemented deliver more traffic than comparable blogs that do not.

I am dying for WordPress.com to implement something similar.  Instead, they seem content to break things and every so often rework the user interface if somebody mentions it is working well.  Seriously, I spend most of my time doing three things with the interface; writing posts, viewing comments, and glaring at stats.  WP has taken it upon themselves to make sure that moving between these three things is as awkward as possible, forcing me to just keep three tabs open.

So, to make up for the fact that I have a very static and boring blogroll… if you get more than 10 referrals a month off of my blogroll, you are doing well… or are at the top of the list… I have used the blogs RSS feed from VirginWorlds as an addition to me side bar.  VirginWorlds remains a great resource!  Pillar of the blogging community!  A few cobwebs are starting to appear around the place, but there is still nothing like else like it.

It is a site of extraordinary magnitude.  Brent has our gratitude.

Unfortunately, Scott Jennings… who I am going to cast in the role of the villain here, because every story must have a villain, so if he show up and twirls his mustache be sure to hiss at him… looks to have been tinkering with his RSS feed.  Once it delivered only posts from his very-quiet-of-late blog to the feed at VirginWorlds.  In the last week, however, his feed began dumping updates from his forum… the Broken Forum… like so much toxic waste flooding the blog feed at VirginWorlds.

Okay, maybe “toxic waste” is a bit strong.  But Scott Jennings does have an active forum… good on him… and every topic update appears to generate an entry in the RSS feed.  The end result was that I found of the 15 entries from the VirginWorlds feed I had displayed in the side bar at any given time, 12-13 of them would be updates from the forum.  Again, good for Scott and his active forum, but not exactly what I want in my side bar.

So after thinking about doing something about it for a couple of days… and ~20 seconds of actual Google work… I set about implementing something different.

The Google search returned a site called RSS Mix as the top unpaid result.

They don't really have a logo...

They don’t really have a logo…

The site is simple.  You paste in a list of RSS feeds.  The site validates them, adds them to its database, and spits out a URL for a feed that combines them together.  Easy times.

I then took this feed and put it in the side bar of the blog using WordPress.com’s rather limited RSS feed display widget.  It works… it was what I was using for the VirginWorlds feed… but it doesn’t have a lot of options. (And, frankly, though I love this theme for some unfathomable reason, it does have pretty narrow side bars which do not help.  My search for a viable replacement continues.)

I would, for example, like the blog name to appear with the entry.  But all it will give me is author’s name and post date.  I would also like it to display only one entry per sub-feed at a time, but then we’re getting into “what I really want is the Blogger blogroll widget” territory, and that just isn’t going to happen.

Anyway, most bloggers would have just made the change and moved on.  But me, I have to tell stories.  You might have noticed this.  Plus, I do wonder if the half dozen of you who actually show up at the site regularly think of it.

I am also interested to see how well the aggregated feed from RSS Mix performs.  It appears to do batch processing to get feed updates, and rightfully so. But that does mean that updates do not show up the moment right away.  We shall see how long the lag is on that.

After I set that up, I did go back and look at the next few results returned by my Google search.  They all seemed to be down or no longer in service, so I guess I didn’t have many choices.  So here we are.  (And I am sure, in my hurry, I missed some blogs that should be in the feed.  I’ll make a 2.0 feed at some point.)

The Seven Year Kvetch September 12, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment.
Tags: ,
9 comments

kvetch [kvetsh]   –  /k(ə)veCH,kfeCH/

noun
noun: kvetch; plural noun: kvetches

-a person who complains a great deal.
-a complaint.

verb
verb: kvetch; 3rd person present: kvetches; past tense: kvetched; past participle: kvetched; gerund or present participle: kvetching

-to complain.

Yes, one of the joys of being an American is pissing all over the English language by letting in any damn word we please.  I love our language, how it changes and evolves over time.  I think it is the hallmark of us, as an immigrant nation, that we embrace people and cultures into our so-called melting pot, but that we also swipe some of the best words people bring with them as well.  In contrast,  I remain appalled by countries that have official government departments that dictate and enforce proper spelling and usage.  Color me the anarchist in that regard I guess.

Sure, the chaos makes the language difficult to learn fully, being so full of idiom and context, but it is great fun.  Straight from the fridge daddy-o.

So here we are at my 7th blogiversary (ha ha, suck that purists!), where I celebrate my continued deliberate and premeditated abuse of the language.

WordPress sends their regards

WordPress sends their regards

And since I love linking back to past posts (recycling!) you can find, if you are so inclined, posts marking this date from past years.

Now that I have gotten past that irrelevant introductory exuberance, it is time for the usual dreck.   Beyond this point lies list after list of pointless data followed by my usual summary of events, complete with dubious and/or obvious conclusion.  There is the story of my life; always able to summarize the data, but lost when actually trying for some sort of ending or closure.  I am never quite sure what it all means, and I try not to pretend otherwise.

If you are like me and like numbers and lists for the sake of them or want some sort of quantitative look at what happens at this blog, you may find some of this interesting.  It includes my usual reveal of actual traffic numbers.

On the other hand, if you are expecting to find an amusing anecdote about how I screwed up or got lost again, a nostalgic look at some past game, or an incoherent rant about some bit of gamery that is annoying me at the moment, you will likely be disappointed at what you find after the cut.  You have been warned.

(more…)

Summer Reruns – Fumbling with Questions that have No Easy Answers July 15, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment, MMO Design.
Tags:
9 comments

I was away over the weekend, so I did not get a chance to write anything last night.

Plus, it is summer, the MMO scene is pretty quiet right now, and nothing being added, changed, or launched this year looks be set to change the MMO market in the slightest.

MMOs have become pizza. They vary a bit from vendor to vendor. You might not like the ingredients from one, and another might not keep their place very clean. But they are all round and share about the same set of toppings and what not. And if you like pizza, you will probably find a place that suits you.

So, with that in mind, I thought I would recycle some of my attempts at serious thought about pizza… erm… MMOs. Some of these are more than five years old. Have things changed that much since?

Or is it more a matter of the more things change, the more they stay the same?

Anyway, this is an open invitation to comment on some old posts if nothing else.