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About this blog

A blog where a techie-coder rambles about techie-coding things. And also talks about things they're doing with their mods. And also posts updates about said mods. And probably screms and crais a bit. Occasional guest appearances by technology woes and complaining about SMF. Hi, my name's Arceus, coding became my life somehow, I do PHP/HTML/CSS, themes and mods for SMF, and I'm Powered by Salt. If you're interested in SMF, I'm the one to watch, I guess. Enjoy my musings and ramblings.

Entries in this blog

 

3. And We're Done Here: A Vent-y Salt-y Explanation

A few days back, I closed In Populus Technology down. For those that don't know, that was my hosting and SMF theme/mod commission service, and it did quite well for several years, considering how few people actually use SMF for their role-playing sites nowadays. I realise, however, that I will be disappointing a few people when I say, I'm done. So this blog post is mostly to explain it to those that haven't pissed me off in some manner, so they understand why exactly I came to this decision. It wasn't one I took lightly, and I'm not doing it to be spiteful (well, maybe somewhat).   Fair warning, this is pretty ranty. I'm done apologising for my feelings so I'm not even sorry.   Once upon a long time ago, in an era now far behind me, I was a doe-eyed socially-awkward youngster that discovered the joy of online social interaction. I never got into anything dangerous, but my mother did, so I was pretty smart about what I did on it. Role-plays were both a creative outlet, and a way for my anxious ass to be able to make friends. It was, and remains, the only means of social interaction my messed up brain is capable of handling; full stop end of story. Going anywhere makes me nervous in reality. I can't even go to the gas station alone most of the time. So one can imagine how happy I was to help others. Obviously, they liked me when I did, and given I so craved approval and someone liking me, yeah, it was magnetic. Up to that point, I'd never actually had someone like me before. One good thing about being so messed up, my particular combination of ways I'm messed up in the head does make me learn very, very fast, and pick up on things like coding at the speed of friggin light. SMF was pretty big back then; everyone wanted to use it, because it was self-hosting without the huge upfront investment IPS was and is, but nobody could crack its secrets.   Until me.   This sounds boastful, but if you've ever seen my work you know it's really not; I eventually became the best SMF coder in the RP world. I have yet to find evidence anyone knows it as well as I do around here. At this point, I'm also the last one. The joy of helping people, seeing sites that I helped with do well, used to be enough to keep me going and make me keep learning, even when I wanted to just give up. SMF and learning it were never easy, and I had no guide. I had to just dive in screaming yolo and hope for the best, because no one in the RP world knew how it worked, and the official SMF community is elitist as hell. "I can't stop," I'd say to myself. "There are all these other SMF admins that I need to stay on my game for and help out. If I stop making SMF themes and stuff, there'll be no one left to do it anymore." The last remaining decent SMF coder went away about a year or so ago. Now was my time to shine, and I felt like my life was finally just beginning.   But you know what? I'm going to be real for a second. I have basically never personally stepped in and helped someone with a theme or a mod or their board in general, and not had them stab me in the back, or at least slap me in the face, somehow. Every SMF admin that has a husband in IT or server management or networking or... fuck, I think that one just fixed computers, thinks he knows better than I do, and will be a misogynistic turd and she'll let him because she trusts him. I should hope she does, but he never has any inkling of an idea of what the hell he's talking about, and I can usually prove it - being undermined and invalidated in the one thing I do really well, by someone that doesn't even know how to write a basic database query, is frustrating on many levels. Especially since I can't call him out for the dumb prick he is. Oh, they all love me and sing all my praises, sure as can be, until I start having opinions, feelings, or god forbid request something.   I've had people turn against me; straight up drop their site in my lap, and then bail on me to figure it out on my own; lie to me all the time; smear my name all over the internet in any corner they can; call me every name in the book; act like my best friend to my face and then be talking shit on me elsewhere; waste all my time and then blame me for it; go around in godawful circles about what they even want in the first place (and still blame me); treat me like their personal butler here to do their bidding immediately and on the spot when they want something; one posted my full legal name in a very public chatbox on a very large resource site; undermine and invalidate my efforts and skill; rip apart something I made because it wasn't good enough without asking if they can even edit it; steal from me; blatantly and right to my face tell me they are stealing while giving me the full overexcited rundown and details of what they're stealing and how, and expect me to be okay with it; treat me like their personal therapist; talk shit on my friends and their role-playing style; underhandedly and covertly question my intelligence; treat me like I'm a 12 year old; blame me for all their mistakes that mess up their board even though I told them not to do that; ask for my help and then defer to their husband that doesn't actually know what the fuck-all he's doing, because I haven't been doing this work every single day for over ten years or anything, surely he knows better; and basically just piss all over whatever semblance of joy and self-esteem I got from helping others without even the courtesy of calling it rain.   This isn't all one or two people. This is every non-friend I've ever helped. And I've helped a lot of people over the last 10+ years, and they all hit one or more of these unless they were my friend already. I could've handled a couple toxic people out of a larger bunch. All of them? I'm afraid to help people I don't know real well, right now. At all. With anything. No, I really am. Because every dang one I do help turns into a nightmare. And certain genre admins are the most picky, finicky little fucknuggets I've ever had the displeasure of interacting with. I have a site I really like that's looking for staff, and I was going to, but now? Nope. Bruh I got too many trust issues now. Y'all be acting like lil angels and then turn into sociopaths when you don't get your way and the world doesn't conform to you. Sometimes things aren't all rainbows and lollipops. I'm always willing to talk through those times, but I have never had anyone actually talk to me about whatever it is, and work something out. I just immediately became the bad guy.   I have so many horror stories from helping people with their sites that they literally outnumber the ones I have from running a shonen animanga RP with no combat system for 12 years (listen, that's a nightmare; I have mild PTSD-like reactions to some of what that site put me through, and it is the main reason I am now such a hands-on admin, but also I have OCD so that doesn't help, and I wouldn't call myself much of a delicate snowflake). I never intended to stop offering my theme and mod services. In fact, at one time, a personal grand dream of mine was to use the revenue from hosting sites and doing theme commissions to create an official, registered hosting business specifically for SMF. I even started coding an updated new software similar to SMF that meets current web-standards, and has a bunch of features RPs really need by default, because I thought I'd found my tribe and I wanted to shower it with love. I went above and beyond for people, and I suppose my biggest mistake was thinking I was even vaguely valuable to them. Hey, everyone on the internet's expendable, right? If you don't like this person, there are plenty of others. You know what they say about never doing work for your family or friends, because they turn into clients from hell? I had the opposite experience. The only people that weren't a client from hell in some manner were the ones that were already my friend, which basically tells me I was seen as a beneficial accessory. Nobody actually liked me, they just saw an opportunity to get what they wanted with minimal effort. The moment I started having feelings, or boundaries, or even just had a bad day, I wasn't beneficial anymore. There was one that loved to braindump and vent about all their real-life problems and whatnot, more than one actually, two or three, but the moment I actually did it back about something more impactful than my allergies were acting up, woo, hold the phone. No no no, you aren't supposed to be a person, stop right immediately now.   Yeah, that is how that came off. If you don't want the heat, man, don't walk into the kitchen. And it is this mindset that is destroying the RP community, it's not just the SMF people. It's everywhere. I see it everywhere. Nobody cares about anybody else, whatsoever. They're all just text blocks on a webpage, but y'all can be doing some real, serious damage to someone with your selfish bull. Yeah, take care of you; ultimately only you really can. But have some damned common decency and act like your momma raise you right. If I did and said half the crap y'all be doin and sayin my momma like'a pop me in the teeth. Other people aren't here merely for your convenience, and those of us that help others aren't going to tolerate your crap forever. Someday, there won't be anybody left willing to help you, and then where will you be?   I shut down everything, even my RP sites. I don't run any sites now, and I don't intend to anytime soon. I'm not doing requests or commissions anymore, and have absolutely no desire to code. Being blunt, if I ever release the updated version of the SMF Character Manager for 2.0.x, it will not be anytime soon, and it will not be free. I may release some of the themes I have lying around that I'm not using anymore, but those won't be free, either, nor will any of the other mods I still have about. Maybe someday, someone will step up to the plate and fill the gap I'm leaving behind. Maybe not. I'll do my job here at the Initiative, but I'm not doing any more than I have to. I need to take care of me, now, not ungrateful pricks on the internet. Now it's my turn to be a selfish jerk. Maybe I'll have occasion to RP with some of you. I did join a couple sites, and I apologise to them because I am a salty, stressed-out wreck right now.   I'll wrap up this salty, autism-sleepiness-and-ADD-fuelled mess with this. Just because someone isn't talking about it, doesn't mean they're not having a hard time. It just means they're not talking about it. Be kind. Everyone's fighting a battle you know nothing about. Thank you for tolerating my ranting long enough to make it here, and I'm sorry it turned out this way, but I can't do this anymore.

Arceus

Arceus

 

2: I like this going right, but it scares me too

I finally broke the two-week or so streak of every piece of code I was writing during that time-frame working immediately, and caused a few errors today. Rofl. Mostly I've been bouncing back and forth between working on the Character Manager, and working on the theme orders I've got sitting in queue staring me down, but I keep taking minor breaks to go do RP posts. It seems kind of Wild that I'd be doing all this work for RP boards and then not RP? Like, I guess some people do, but it just seems weird to me, so I try not to get caught up doing something and forget what the heck-all I'm even doing it for. (This is why I can't quit RP, you guys - okay no there's another reason but, spoilers.)   I've gotten pretty far along in the next release of the character manager, though! I'm SUPER excited for this, y'all, it's gonna ROCK. CM 1.0.1 may actually be released specifically for 2.1, 2.0 functionality not promised, I'm not sure. Mostly I'm focusing on doing it before I figure out how I'm handling releases. Just thinking about what's easiest here, because tbfh I have no idea. Lol. But there are some things it does on SMF 2.1 that it just cannot do on 2.0 (I'll show you in a second!), and the default templates would need to be tweaked to work with Curve (Curve is SO DUMB, Curve2 is much better, much more intuitive to work with). I'm probably a little over halfway done with 1.0.1, so that's exciting. (Honestly, I can't wait til I'm done, seriously, I can't, I'm so sick of coding right now.)   if($arceus == 'sick of code' && $time_spent_coding >= $too_long) { $arceus_speaks_in_php = true; return $help; } (Fun fact, that's valid PHP.)   The breaking the everything-working pattern is actually really nice, like you'd think I'd be happy about not breaking anything? But it's like, when things go smoothly and nothing errors out on me, I just kind of sit here, and stare at my screen. And wonder what unholy hell is going to go wrong eventually, because things only go so right when chaos is ahead. Does this make me jaded, or just really anxious a person? I have no idea which it is. Listen, though, I've gotten to the point where I'm good enough with PHP that, when I do break it, finally, I break it really good and solidly thorough. It's a thing. You think ignorant people can break things, hoowee, no, the real breaker-masters, are the PHP whiz-kids that take a thousand years to finally break something. It's like breakage karma sort of builds up like honey and it attracts THE BIGGEST MOST VICIOUS STINGING EVIL SUGAR ANTS KNOWN TO EARTHKIN. LIKE THE KIND OF VICIOUS STINGING EVIL SUGAR ANTS THAT MAKE YOU WONDER IF THEY'RE ACTUALLY ANTS AND PROBABLY HAVE HORNS.   Is earthkin not a word? It is now, screw off, spell-check.   So I did want to show this: It's big, but this is the full character creation page. As mentioned last post, it's tabbed, and all of the image fields are in the images tab, instead of wherever, so they can be placed wherever. They do still sort by position, if I remember rightly, but this makes a little more sense, as far as interfacing logic goes. You'll notice that SMF 2.1's fancy new WYSIWYG editor loads both in all the text-areas in standard, as well as in the custom fields marked as textareas. This way, BBCode is a breeze for users, and on the list at some point, probably, is figuring out how to make it periodically save the character form. Because that'd be boss. Anyway, the WYSIWYG is one of the things that needs to change to be compatible with 2.0, because 2.0's WYSIWYG loads a different way. Being frank, I'd probably just take out the WYSIWYG triggers entirely.   This here is the main character management page. Now with more cool! They're colour coded by default, but you can change this per theme. Approved characters are green, pending ones are pink, and characters that are in-progress are a pale steel blue. Character blurb parses for BBC by default, it's actually built into the back-end.   Now, I wanted to show you guys... this! Yeeeees!! It sends alerts for pended characters to the staff team!!!!1111 These are also links, so it links to the character's profile, and also to the ACP approval queue. It sends to users in any member group that has the 'cmod_manage' permission; by default, though, users in root admin group #1 always get approval queue alerts. This is, of course, another thing that won't work on 2.0, and that's a damn crying shame. (Again, as in 1.0.0, new characters from anyone with 'cmod_app_bypass' permission skips the approval queue outright - since root admins always have all permissions, admin group #1 never has to wait for approval even if it's on). The entire system here for approval is actually rather quite bloody slick. If I do say so myself. (Am I allowed to say that? Is that gloating?)   So when characters are accepted or rejected, it'll send an alert to their player, that tells them char name was accepted/rejected, so they know when their character(s) can be played. Aaaahm. Beyond that, pretty standard stuff. Oh, this time, I remembered to put the stupid page indexes in, so if you have 200 characters, they won't all show on one page (it'd be 10 pages lol).   There's one other thing I have to share, that I just got done. This wasn't in 1.0.0, so this is super exciting. This is the new auto-list page in the ACP. Variable will strip out any wacky characters and leave just lowercase Latin letters, numbers, and underscores, because variable is the page URL that it uses for this auto-list. So we want it to be as clean as we can make it. If you try entering two of the same variable, by the way, it'll fatal_error on you. Haha. Then, name the page anything you like, select a bio field from the set of fields you created for your site to use as the auto-list base, type up a header description and...   Ba-BING!   It generates and displays an automatic, alphabetised list, no coding required, right on the list page, of all the active characters' values for that field, and it looks nice, too. This is for automatic face claims and the like. If you want to do job listings, you can use it for that, grade listings, dorm numbers, HP-style wand stuff, anything you want to keep track of, set that shit and forget it, because it will automatically update the list when a new character is activated and has that field filled in. You never have to touch a list again, and neither do you need to know how to code to make one of these anymore! (Yep, you're welcome.)   [Insert Fuck Yeah! reaction here tbh.]   This was a feature/function that I wanted in the Char Manager from day one, it just, I wanted the mod itself done and FAST so I could start using it at my own places, so tbh I kinda rushed through 1.0.0. I should theoretically be rushing through 1.0.1, but here we are. Lol So far, though, so good. Nothing's broken hopelessly yet (1.0.0 doesn't support PHP 7+, of course, so I'm building this version on PHP 7.1). There is also a giant welcome message when you first get into the ACP for the Char Manager, in 1.0.1, this will explain what everything is, what it does, what it's for, how to control it, etc, etc, and once you've seen it, it doesn't show again.   I think my next tackle will be the NPC controls. Which basically run off the general character controls, just with an extra field that marks it as an NPC. Cheehoo. Yanno, after I eat. (Have I mentioned I'm bad at food?)

Arceus

Arceus

 

1: Once a Coder, Always a Coder

Like I always do, I decided to take a serious break this weekend and not code anything, and of course, like four hours into my break, I'm coding again. Rofl.   One time, I actually managed to code for about six months straight, pretty much. I'd wake up, eat something (maybe, if I was feeling kind to myself), and then get on the computer and start typing code, day in and day out. For months. I forgot Christmas existed because of that time-span, it was crazy. But apparently brain does and doesn't want to do it again, because on the one hand, I really want to go code shit, but on the other hand, I would much rather go back to sleep. You know how much sleep I got today? Like, 11 hours. That's ridiculous. I'm still exhausted, you guys.   So anyway, time to ramble about code! I helped someone install the character mod for SMF 2.0, and discovered something in it is not compatible with PHP 7+, and I don't know what. Mahahaha. That's so grand! Now, of course, with Character Manager version 1.0.1, I'm rewriting it from scratch (a-friggin-gain), on PHP 7.1, to make it compatible with PHP 7+, and also this version is first being written on SMF 2.1, and then when it's done, being back-ported. Several new features are shipping with 1.0.1, there'll be a built-in journal system, character status streams, and the shipper handler I promised is happening in 1.0.1 too. This will be the last fully free version of the char manager. Beyond 1.0.1, it will be missing certain functions, bundled with the Battle Suite, because I have to bridge the char manager and the Battle Suite anyway, so I'm just putting them together as the SMF RPG Suite. I will be packaging the last functioning version of the Battle Suite (4.0) and public-releasing it, but that version and char manager 1.0.1 will not be updated further.   ABS 4 and ACM 1.0.1 will also be the last versions of both that guaranteed support SMF 2.0 -- but they cannot be used together, as Battle Suite 4 does not have the functionality to bridge with the Char Manager. So you either use the Char Manager, or the Battle Suite + SubAccounts.   For ACM 1.0.1, I'm redoing how character profiles/creation is handled. The character creation and edit screen is now set up to be tabbed. Where you place image upload custom fields also won't matter, because all image uploads will go into the Images tab. Biography fields are set up to be separated into tabs and sections, very similar to how Nova handles it, same with the character grouping system -- ACM 1.0.1 brings back departments and ranks, though departments are child-alliances and ranks are standalone, again, use one, two, or all three, only alliance is required, and even that's technically optional. I'm actually super stoked about how the character biographies and the character list are handled.  
(This is the main character list.)  
(Character management screen.)   Names are also separated into three, one field per name (first, middle, last). All three can technically be left blank, but they won't display right. Haha. Admins can decide if they want names ordered First Last, Last First, or Last, First, anywhere the name is shown, thanks to this separation.   (Add/Edit a character screen.)   Basically everything in ACM 1.0.1 is built differently than how it is in 1.0.0, so there should be an upgrader script that I can write, which will convert the database information from 1.0.0 to 1.0.1. No promises on that, but the structure is very different in 1.0.1, so it should be able to run alongside 1.0.0's database tables (you'll have to uninstall 1.0.0 anyway, just leave the database information in-tact, install 1.0.1, and then run the upgrader). The converter from SubAccounts to ACM will still be packaged in 1.0.1, and also still be hidden. Honestly, if you still haven't made the switch from SubAccounts to the Char Manager, I'd wait for 1.0.1. It is much better, just, trust me. Rofl.   What's the Battle Suite? Borne of a flat-file series of random number generators, that were designed to "spawn" random Pokemon, the Battle Suite became the answer to table-top style systems on play-by-post games. Everything in the Battle Suite can be renamed and customised to one's liking, and it can be adjusted to suit everything from Pokemon to Bleach to Dungeons and Dragons to modern fantasy and beyond. Listen, this shit is off the hook kinda cool. It handles skills, skill levels (use a skill, it will decide whether it succeeded or failed, roll for secondary effect if there is any, calculate points awarded and award them accordingly, AND it has a controller that can be turned on or off for child skills, which can be set to sporadically award some of their points to their parent on a % chance), STAB and STHB (same-type attack/healing bonus, when using a skill of the same type the user is, it will multiply the damage or healing amount by a set number, yes this is customisable too), abilities, creatures and creature skills and abilities (it will restrict users to adding creatures that are in the spawner/bestiary, so you don't get people randomly taming unicorns when there are no unicorns in your universe), a random encounter spawner (spawns skills and abilities, too, and gives you a copy-pasta BBCode to pop into threads, majijijijik), bestiary (full listing of all creatures in the spawner; you can add information to the entry table and set the table and main content area up however you like, it'S ACTUALLY REALLY FRIGGIN BOSS). It also has drop-down selectors that will load a selected user's skills and or abilities in a thread and allow easy finding of which skill a player wants to use, no fancy coding required, you can roll a skill as an NPC's skill and also roll its damage/healing output lower than it actually is.   ABS 3.5 also had a quest system, the quest system, faction system, shop/item system (use items in threads easy peasy lemon squeezy, also features user selling, trading, and you can sell and trade creatures, shop system also sends out alerts for: someone bought your thing, someone accepted your purchase offer, someone is now selling an item that matches an item you want, etc), and reputation system (reputation alters rolls based on IC actions and how they fall on the morality scale, or which faction becomes happiest with them because of these actions), will come in ABS 5 which will ship with the RPG Suite.   (If I seem really proud of the Battle Suite, I am; blame the Battle Suite for making me the coder I am today, and consider it my magnum opus. The char manager is nothing compared to the Battle Suite. Nothing. It took me several years and five major versions to get the Suite as good as it is now.)   Following the releases of ACM 1.0.1 and ABS 4.0, that will conclude my work on SMF 2.0. I may later release the mature content mod, and perhaps the topic description mod (thread dating will be packaged with ACM 1.0.1 by the way, goes hand-in-hand with the journal system), but I will not be making any new mods on SMF 2.0. From there on out, I'll be working exclusively with SMF 2.1. (Yes, I'll still make 2.0 themes, I guess, if I must P=) I'm just done with SMF 2.0, and tbh, with 2.1 around the corner (I'm fairly sure they're seriously considering releasing SMF 2.1 Beta 4 as RC1, so it may be another year, before they do, but this may well be it guys, finally), 2.0 is getting a hair done-to-death, and it's time to move on.   After I get my queue of things-to-do pared down, I'll be working on releasing some free and not-so-free themes for use on SMF 2.0 and 2.1 Beta 3. The free ones will not be very fancy; just putting that out there now. They will, however, come in a range of colour schemes, and probably have jQuery and bootstrap support by default, and also be mobile-responsive out of the box. The not-so-free ones will have templates altered according to their pricing tier (ergo, the $10 ones will have a custom board index). Some of my older themes have really cool elements that no one is using and it's a damn travesty, so a few of the premium themes will be super cool.   In the interim, though, idk what the frick my sleep schedule is doing (okay, no, I have an idea of what it's doing), but I'm tired all the time. Scuse me while I die for the rest of the weekend. (I AM SO SORRY EVERYONE WAITING ON THEMES, I LOVE YOU, SORRY.)

Arceus

Arceus

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