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By Samuel Stoddard

January 1999

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Friday, January 29, 1999

More on the Classic Games games:

I started writing these very soon after Enchanted Forest was done. Not having to worry about the bookkeeping involved with registering people for the game and keeping saved game files -- and the game rules being much simpler in every case -- programming these games was much faster than the development of Adventure Games Live and Enchanted Forest required. Spoint was written first, and it was brought up to a usable, almost working status within a day. Memory was second, and it also took only a day to "almost work." Dave Parker must be credited for encouraging me to do this site when I did, although I had had the idea before. But his specific comment to me was that if I made some sort of solitaire Memory game, he'd like to play it. That got me thinking more immediately about a "classic games" site, and the solitaire modes for Memory were his idea. (Well, he thought up the "strict scoring" method, which in turn inspired me to offer the "lenient scoring" method as well.) The fun part about developing Memory was designing all the cards for it, which all come from some aspect of the RinkWorks site. Two of the cards are from an as yet unrelease feature; one of those cards has a picture on it that hasn't been seen anywhere else yet.

Sequence, which is similar to the game Mastermind, was developed third. Matchsticks and Hangman followed. Then came Pen the Pig, which required some tricky bookkeeping since not just the squares in the grid but the lines in the grid needed to be remembered. Exterminator was next. Cheerio followed, and Rock, Paper, Scissors was completed during a break I was taking from tweaking the complicated AI in Cheerio. It took longer to come up with the images for Rock, Paper, Scissors than it did to program the game.

So, everybody, what's your highest Exterminator score? You're on your honor not to report scores for games you cheated on (like backtracking or reloading a fatal teleport), and be sure to specify what mode you were playing.

Thursday, January 28, 1999

Classic Games has been out for a day now. So far, twice as many games of Hangman have been played than the second most popular game (Memory) which is only a game or two ahead of the third most popular (Exterminator). I tend to agree with those choices; they are three of my favorites. I also like Cheerio and Spoint.

Cheerio, which in extended mode, no wilds, is like Yachtzee, was the hardest to write due to the complicated AI required for when the computer plays. It was one of the last started, the last to be finished, and took the longest amount of time. But the computer seems to play all right most of the time, at least on "Difficult." I played three games this morning; I beat it by three points once, and the computer creamed me twice. I used to play the traditional version of Cheerio with my Grandfather, and I have fond memories of that game. It remains one of the most fun games of its type.

The dictionary for Hangman, in case anyone is interested, consists of 18,583 words. It is basically the contents of an online dictionary, minus all the proper nouns and words less than five letters long. There are easy words and hard words, and you're not likely to get the same word twice.

More on the games at the Classic Games site later.

Wednesday, January 27, 1999

Surprise! Check out the new Classic Games site, released today. This is what I've been working on for the last two months, and I'm excited about its release. I'll talk more about it later. Now I have to see about getting The Dialectizer back up in some form.

Tuesday, January 26, 1999

I don't have anything in particular to say today.

Monday, January 25, 1999

Over the weekend, Darleen had another model horse show, so there will be more pictures to post on EquiWorks (starting with a couple posted this morning) in the near future.

Also over the weekend, Everett Kaser, of Everett Kaser Software, has opened a mailing list for the discussion of his games. Read more about it at the Everett Kaser Software home page.

With regard to The Dialectizer it looks like I will be bringing it back with a limitation on how many people can use it at the same time. This will be done soon but will only be a temporary measure until I can rewrite the thing in Java. I'll probably leave the limited use CGI version up, however, for those few readers who are not able to run Java applications. I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to do this just yet, but this is the tentative plan.

Lastly, the fifth Book-A-Minute book election has begun. Cast your vote!

Friday, January 22, 1999

Everybody's got a diet. Drink this shake. Eat this tuna noodle casserole. Cut fat. Cut sugar. Cut carbohydrates. A lot of them aren't healthy. Some of them are healthy but hard to stay on. This journal entry is going to sound more commercial than I like to keep things, so I would like to state up front that I am not being paid by anyone to write this.

I've seen people close to me go through all kinds of different types of diets. There is one, Herbalife, that I've seen many people go on with more successful results than any other. In addition, it is accompanied by more hard health data than any other I have seen. If you're interested, read on.

The Herbalife diet uses vitamins and minerals (no drugs) to give you the appropriate nourishment. I'll let this page fill in the details, but there are a few things I found quite interesting. One, it's a personalized diet -- Herbalife has a whole array of products with information, and you can customize your diet to your needs. Two, there's some really interesting things some of these tablets do: one expands in your stomach to calm hunger; another has something that wraps around fat, preventing it from being absorbed by the body, and carries it out. (Remember, these are all natural ingredients.) I've seen people on this diet, and they've all lost weight and gained energy.

For more information, visit Herbs By Deb.

Thursday, January 21, 1999

Well, the web page portion of The Dialectizer is down again. The traffic that thing is generating is insane. (Over a hundred were running concurrently during peak hours, and the total daily hits was well into the tens of thousands.) The only way my web hosting service can physically handle the load is to give me a dedicated server, and that would cost several hundred dollars a month that I don't have. If anybody has any ideas, let me know. I would like to get it up and running again, but to be perfectly honest I'm developing a personal grudge against the site for all the trouble it's caused me. It was supposed to be one of those non-maintenance sites that I just put up and let it go, but it turned out to require more maintenance than a lot of the ones I have to update manually with new creative material every month or so. Alas.

Yet another favorite desk supply:

The I Think feature has my take on desk supplies.

Wednesday, January 20, 1999

The Message Forum currently has a discussion going on about a new RinkWorks game. It's a big project and not really started yet, so it will be a while until it sees completion, but I've asked readers for their suggestions. Check it out.

Speaking of games, RinkWorks seems to be shifting from its "primarily humor" direction to a "primarily games" direction. I have no doubt the pendulum will swing back again in time, and I'll always be doing humor features -- it's just a question of how often. But what do you think -- do you prefer the humor in RinkWorks or the games? Or the movie coverage? The reader survey asks this question, but most of you answered it before the various games came out.

Continuing the discussion of desk supplies:

Tuesday, January 19, 1999

Today is a "loose end" day, where recent threads are brought to a (probable) close. First, we have another favorite desk supply:

To wrap up the "numbers" thread, Howard M. responds concerning his alleged error about Jeff Gordon's number. Readers are invited to continue this discussion in the RinkWorks Message Forum.

Friday, January 15, 1999

I received a lot of answers for the latest reader question, "What is your favorite desk supply, and why?" Here are some:

"ChaosPuppy" goes on to respond to Dan A.'s comment, "Funny how the same number can seem to follow a thread."

He writes: "No, it's not. There are only 100 numbers available in most popular American sports. If you select ten athletes at random, there is better than 37% chance that two or more will have the same number. With 30 athletes, the odds are over 99%. Once you take into account the number of athletes you have available and throw in non-identical but related numbers (like reversed numbers; e.g., 24 and 42), it's not surprising or funny at all. The situation is even more common in sports like American football which assigns ranges of numbers for specific positions.

"Statistically, this is related to the coincidences of people having the same birthday. 'This means that on the average, out of ten random groups of forty one persons, in nine of them at least two persons will celebrate identical birthdates.' ("

I read the article above and found it fascinating. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, January 14, 1999

Second call for the reader question, "What's your favorite desk supply and why?" Email me here.

I received a couple corrections to last Saturday's journal entry, which included a dissertation by reader Howard M. on the inadvertent use of numbers as an identity. It seems Jeff Gordon's number is 24, not 34, and that pretty much shoots down Howard's theory -- which is too bad, really, because it's a good theory, at least according to the skewed rules of logic of my I Think feature.

Reader Dan A. writes the following: "Funny how the same number can seem to follow a thread. Where I went to high school (Boones Creek in Johnson City, TN), the greatest all-round athlete was Charles 'Toonie' Cash. When he was on our basketball team, they were the regional powerhouse. Even beating Science Hill (Steve Spurrier's alma mater). Toonie's number: 23. When Natrone Means played football at Central Cabarrus High, his number was 23 for a while. Quick, what is (or was) Michael Jordan's number?"

Wednesday, January 13, 1999

Today's reader question: "What's your favorite desk supply and why?" Send me your answers.

Sunday, January 10, 1999

How To Be Funny opened last Friday; check it out. Also, yesterday afternoon I posted a Timeline of important dates in RinkWorks history. I was going to do this anyway, for my own personal reference, and then figured, why not post it? Most of the dates during and after May 1998 were determined from this journal; the rest were mostly figured out from browsing through my enormous sent-mail folder. And The Apogee FAQ has a "revision history" section with its own dates.

Saturday, January 9, 1999

The Dialectizer is back, at least for now, and so are Crazy Tales and the search engine for the At-A-Glance Film Reviews page that both went down while I was on vacation last week.

Howard M. writes, in response to the "Guess My Number" game on Slapdash City:

Your guess-my-number game started me thinking. Seriously. Many people are known by a number. For example, OJ Simpson was number 32. James Bond was 007, Maxwell Smart was 86, and his girlfriend was 99. But do these numbers mean anything? Maybe they do. Please allow me to use examples from my favorite sport, Stock Car Racing. Richard Petty, traditionally the king of stock car racing has always carried the number 43. The current champion is Jeff Gordon, number 34. Note that this is the same number, reading in the opposite direction. And the two men? Opposites!

About the only way they are alike is that they have both been (in their time) the best in their field. You might say they are both number 1.

Anymore musings about personal identity in numbers?

Thursday, January 7, 1999

Hello again, everyone. I'm back from a restful vacation and now need a good rest to recover from it. When I came back, a couple things on the site were broken, most visibly Crazy Tales and the search engine for At-A-Glance Film Reviews. This was a side effect of being moved to a new server (same web host, new server) in an effort to try to handle the vast amounts of traffic The Dialectizer has been getting of late. The other things that broke were my ability to update the At-A-Glance Film Reviews and Brain Food pages, so updates to those two sites will be delayed a few days until the problem can be sorted out.

Other than that, everything appears to be in order.

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