Lyntin 4.0 beta 1 released

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It's been a long time coming, but I keep getting bogged down in other projects. I'm only releasing a tar.gz file. I wanted to do a Windows installer, but I can't seem to get an installer that builds a desktop shortcut. I don't really want to keep throwing time at it either. So if you're inclined to tackle this issue, let me know.

Things in this release:

  • Added Python distutils support (will make packaging much much easier).
  • Removed the Tintin eval mode and the idea of eval modes.
  • Refactored hooks. Hooks now pass around arguments in dicts rather than tuples--this is a big big change from 3.x.
  • Split much of Lyntin's internal configuration into the constants module and the config module.
  • Wrote a completely new configuration system.
  • Overhauled ui's so that they'll work correctly. This also makes it possible to write ui's in other widget systems.
  • Split the substitutes module into substitutes and gags.
  • Added a configuration ini file for setting boot options.
  • Added tagged actions and also the ability for actions to trigger off of text with/without ansi colors removed.
  • Fixed a bunch of bugs, some documentation updates (but not many), and additional features here and there (most of which aren't documented yet--sorry guys).

If you discover bugs or have other problems, let me know. I'm on vacation 9/24 through 9/30--so email sent will likely get queued until I read it.

Download here (.tar.gz).

Rock on!

I saw a bee

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At least, I thought it was a bee. It might have been a yellow jacket. It was flying by too fast for me to tell the difference. I should tell my friend Jerome. He's allergic to bees. He has some kind of funky bee radar--he knows where they are before they're within sight/hearing range. He'll put his hand calmly on my arm and say, "There's a bee over there." To which I respond, "Where?" And then he'll quietly say, "Beyond that building." And I'll say, "What building? That monstrosity of a building over there which people refer to as Gilette Stadium?--that one?" "Yeah. If we're quiet, though, maybe it won't come over here." Weirdo.

New strings

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I finally got around to buying new strings for my guitar and restringing it. The guitar sounds totally different now. I'm not entirely sure whether I like it better now or better before, but I do know that I'm not going to change the strings a couple more times to find out.

Stumbling in the dark...

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If you don't understand both sides of an issue, you cannot make an intelligent choice; in fact, if you don't understand all the ramifications of your actions, you're not designing at all. You're stumbling in the dark. Allen Holub,

I think that's pretty right on and I've been saying it for years (and spent a good portion of time stumbling in the dark myself). Having said that I've been saying it for years, it should be noted that my saying it over and over again has caused much grief and agony for various people I've worked with. Sorry John--even though I was mean and nasty, it really did behoove you to read the manual.

Ways to avoid spam

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This is an ongoing essay which will collect a series of links and thoughts on how to avoid spam. Avoiding spam is a way of life, not something you think about today and then forget about for a few years.

  • Don't have anything to do with chain letters
    Personally, I'm not sure why anyone needs a reason to roll their eyes at chain letters--and I mean _all_ chain letters.
  • Don't put your email address on your web-site
    I'm sure there are harvesters out there that can take an email address in some weird form (like willkg at bluesock dot org) and convert it to a regular email address. However, it does raise the bar a bit. Especially if you make up your own syntax.
  • Don't reply to spam
    When you reply to spam, you notify the spammer that someone is receiving email at that account. It's better to just delete it.
  • Better yet, automatically reject email from known spam domains
    There are domains from which I only get spam. Things like and My vote is to reject all email from those domains categorically. For instance, you can set up sendmail to reject them. This is different than filtering email in the sense that it tells the SMTP server trying to deliver the spam that you're not accepting email from them whatsoever.
  • Don't give people your email address
    There are lots of forms out there for free whatevers and various contests. If you can, set up an account that you can use for these purposes, but don't use your good email account.
  • Don't click on any spam links, don't buy anything from spam email
    This should be obvious.
  • Don't use an email client that renders HTML emails
    Sometimes HTML emails will have links to images which get downloaded and tell the spammer that you are a real person reading the spam.
  • As a last resort, use a spam filter
    I say this is a last resort because the mission is not to remove spam from your inbox, but rather to avoid getting spam altogether.

Update 12/9/2004: There is no way to avoid spam anymore. You can probably reduce it by not telling anyone anything, but every second that your email address exists increases the likelihood that you'll start getting spam.

My plan for outsourcing

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Enough of this media blitz on outsourcing! In some cases it works, in others its a tragic tragic tragic choice to make. I've heard lots of anecdotal evidence of the latter kind and one anecdote of the former.

Here's my big plan. I think we should outsource _everything_: manufacturing, software, services, travel arrangements, floral arrangements, bridal arrangements, car service, customer service, no-service customer service, todo lists, grocery lists, top ten lists, music reviews, movie reviews, ... you name it, let's outsource it!

Then maybe they'll become so overwhelmed that they'll outsource back to us! Woo hoo!

No more varium

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  Date: Tue, 05 Aug 2003 22:04:59 -0700
  Subject: Project Removal



  The varium project on, originally
  registered on 2000-01-14, meets the criteria we have set up for
  this purge.  If you fail to respond to this inquiry, your project
  will be removed in approximately 21 days.  A final warning will be
  sent in approximately 14 days if we have not yet heard from you.


I worked on Varium with Josh and Pat for a couple of years. The project started out in C, then we talked about embedding Perl, then we switched over to writing the whole thing in Python. That was in the end of 1998. It's what got me coding in Python and also what got me working on apsects of mud development--a hobby I continue to this day in several forms which has helped significantly with my career and growth as a developer.

Even though I stopped working on Varium in 2000 and started working on bluemud (another Python-based mud server) and then left that project to work on stringbean which hasn't really gotten very far (for all kinds of really good reasons), it's sad to see these sorts of beginnings finally pass into the quiet of the night.

I have access to the code-base if anyone is interested. As Josh pointed out, there's very little documentation (i.e. almost none), the code-base is messy, and it was written in the days of Python 1.5.2 when I (and likely my cohorts as well) didn't really know what I was doing in Python land.

On hold with RCN...

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I've been trying to cancel my service for 2 days now. I call them up, go through 47 menus 2 of which involve them repeating back to me the things I just typed into the phone in a voice not unlike DRSBAITSO, and then finally sit on hold and listen to whatever tunes they play. Right now they're playing Shaggy's "Wasn't Me".

Do they know what this song is about? Who's idea was it to put this on as hold music? It reminds me of living in California when it just came out. So that's nice. But still, I'm pretty surprised they're playing it. What's next? Sir Mix-a-lot?

Why can't I get a human to answer the phone? Hello? Hello RCN! Pick up the phone so I can cancel my service. Stop apologizing for the delay and telling me how all your representatives are assisting other callers--I don't believe you!

"Letting the genie out of the bottle!..."

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Most of the time, the use of the expression "letting the genie out of the bottle" (and derivatives) denotes that the speaker is discarding useful rhetoric in exchange for theatrical effect. Its usage precedes sensationalist hooey that is frequently neither well-thought-out nor factually supported. Often it's wholly uninteresting as well.

I hereby declare a pox on people who continue use this phrase.

Further, I declare a double pox on people who use it in the context of some politically-oriented teary-eyed soliloquy.

And I declare a triple pox on people who use it as a headline for an article![1]Knock it off!

[1] This article excluded.