What They’ve Drawn, Kid #1

Here’s some drawings my eldest has done over the years. Most of these are a few years old, but they decorate my office wall to keep me company.

I’ll take some photos of the rest of the kid’s drawings for later posts.











A Simple Guide to FriendFeed (It’s a Magic Book)

FriendFeed is a kind of magic. It’s certainly a wonder to behold and when you begin to understand what it does, it’s wonder ten-fold.

ff-002 Hi! My name is Stu of Maaateland, and I’m hear to teach you something special.

I’m a travelling minstrel, a wandering troubadour, singing and dancing from place to place. And I’ve got a backpack full of magical items.

The first item is a magic book.

"Very funny," I hear you say. "Everybody knows magic books aren’t real."

That’s true, except for this one. Trust me.


Every single time I open the book the words inside have changed. It doesn’t matter if I turn to the first page or the fifty-first page.

Not only that, but the words are done by different pens, written by different authors. Can you imagine that?

What if I read something really funny and want to mark it with my own special stamp?

The second item is a magic stamp.

Every time I find some words that make me laugh, or think, or even sometimes get grumpy, I use this stamp. ff-003

The stamp never runs out! It never gets old or tired or broken.

The stamp has my mark on it. My image. Me. To the rest of the world, the stamp signifies me.

So I use it. I stamp words so that other people can see that I like the words.

"How can other people see your stamp? It’s your magic book!"

That’s very true, it is my book. But remember, it’s magic. There’s other people with this very same magic book. They all came out of the same publishing house, bound with the same beautiful green leather, gilded with silver and gold enamel.

"But," I hear you interrupt. "Is that all you can do? Stamp your approval on some words in this book?"

No. That’s not all.

The third item is a magic pen.

ff-004 I use the magic pen to do lots of different things.

When I find words that make me ponder, I take the pen and start writing underneath those words.

The magic pen then adds my own words at the end of the other words! How about that!

The magic pen allows me to have conversations with people through what I read and write in the magic book! Amazing!

But that’s not all.

The magic pen allows me to write my own words.

ff-005 For example, yesterday a bear chased me up a big oak tree. It took me three hours to sing it to sleep. I might like to write that in my magic book.

Sometimes other people who are reading the magic book, they take out their own magic pens and write something about my words. It might be, "Wow! You sang a bear to sleep!" Or it could be, "That’s nothing. Once I wrestled two wolves and three bears all at once. Plus, I’m awesome." Sometimes even, people will ask for more details, "Tell us how you came down out of the tree without waking the bear!"

And there you have it my friends. With this magic book, you can write any story you want. You can help write other stories. You can make conversation with people on the other side of the world!

Now though, I’m afraid, it’s time to close the book.

Some people, they only read the book a few minutes a day, or even a week. But some other people, they read the book all the time, even when they’re walking along the road!

"But won’t they fall over things as they walk?" You ask.

Very true, but some people don’t care.

"How can you walk and read at the same time?"

That my faithful audience, is a story for another time.

And there you have it. A Simple Guide To FriendFeed.

It’s not a perfect analogy. There’s nothing about how the process of making people your friends.

I came up with so many different analogies in the crafting of this post. The River. Fishing. Roads. Houses. A big funnel with water pouring through. Space. Boat racing.

So I started to doodle in gimp, just letting random images conjure up imagination. And something that looked like a book came into being. So I went with that.

The Plastic Detectives Have Their Own Website

That’s right.


The Plastic Detectives (dot com) is now the place to find the coolest home-made kids plastic toy show on the internet!

The First Episode has been moved across. However I’ve been struggling to get the script finished for the second episode. Need to dedicate some dedicated time to it.

This site as it stands is more of a sandbox. I decided to go very plain, because I didn’t want to go with someone else’s theme, and I don’t have any design skills at all. Hopefully we’ll get something better soon.

The Value of Full Disclosure

disclosure-001Gary’s latest post about some new features on his blog reminded me of a simple blogging process that I completely forgot about. The value of disclosing what you are doing on your blog, even though it’s plain to see.

So I have made some changes to the sidebar.

You’ll now see my FriendFeed badge. It’s a listing of all the "streams" that I’ve added, and my Comments and Likes totals.

FriendFeed is a service I’d like to write some more about, at some time in the future. It’s basically a big river, and you can grab a shovel and add your own streams to it. Mostly in an effort to bring more rain so that your streams become rivers, tributaries, and maybe in turn help others to add their own.


Next up is my Google Reader Shared Items badge.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Google Reader is a service that monitors all your favourite blogs (and some other things) so that you can view them from one place. New posts are easily recognised, there’s a fantastic "Trends" sub-service, which shows you what you read most amongst other things, and you can easily Share. Hence the above badge.

Basically, it’s a list of the things I really found interesting, or liked, or just want to tell people about.


My Lijit search has been on here for a while, but I took some time to clean it up at the Lijit end. I’d put in bad data, and needed to organise my profile better. I think it’s working much better now.

Lijit gives you search across any of your services, and other people’s too, depending on how it’s set up. There’s more, but I haven’t really gotten there yet.


Finally, I’ve added IntenseDebate comments to the blog. I’ve had them on Clarion Folk for a while now, and the service is good. Thought it was time to move them across.

Concluding Conclusions

So, Full Disclosure.

There’s a lot of ways to spread yourself out on the web today. This is good and definitely bad.

The new changes are a reflection of the trends I’m following, the services I’m using. Hopefully one or more of them might help you out too.


Modelling Relationships

During a discussion with a friend, this image came about as the beginnings of modelling human relationships.


How would you go about modelling human relationships? Do you limit the relationships? What limitations are there in the above db model? Is it wrong from the beginning?

Anyone care to throw their 2cents in?

Fifty Dollar Steak or Cheeseburger?

Chris Brogan was talking about shotguns and it made me think about:

  • Steaks


  • and Cheeseburgers.


Or rather, Organic and Manufactured (Processed).

In the words of the swashbuckling Inigo Montoya (from The Princess Bride):

"Let me ‘splain, " *pause* "No, there is too much. Let me sum up."

How do you forge relationships? Organically or Processed?

steaks-003It all came from Chris’s Shotgun post about marketing. Which got me thinking more generically, about how we relate to one another.

Most relationships evolve over time. The people we work with, even if we aren’t friends, are known to us. Our relationship has grown organically, by the simple fact that we experience together.

I still remember the first time I watched The Princess Bride. It was twenty years ago, I was in year six.

We don’t have trouble forging relationships with characters in stories. I instantly bonded with Fezzik and Inigo as they rhymed off each other. The love story between Westley and Buttercup made me want the same thing. Not a small amount of reasoning because of the fantastic music.

There’s a lot of holes in the above. Stories don’t talk back. Characters don’t tell you how to live your lives.

But still, it shows how ready we are to relate.

Most of the time, in our reality lives, this doesn’t happen.

Sometimes, sometimes, you meet a person and instantly click. You get excited about the same things, you have had similar experiences, or just that for some higher reason, you get on really well.

And even more rarely, these "sometimes" happened in a manufactured situation. An obvious manufactured situation is Arranged Marriage, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, YouTube, <insert web social networking service>. To begin with, the relationships that start here are manufactured (it’s the same when you start working with other people).


If you were/are anything like me, you blazed into the arena shouting out your name and very exciting and important details about yourself to anyone who would listen. And because of how these services work, to everyone who wouldn’t as well.


Digressing a little. Why? Was it the allure of fame, wanting to be another Scoble or Rose or Zefrank? Was it because I desperately wanted to use these fantastic new services to shoot my business into stardom? Was it because I’m a bit lonely, and these new paradigms of community building would be a fine place to start my new life?

Not really. Not mostly, heh.

It’s because since I was a wee lad, Friends have been vital and innately natural (hmmm) to me. Relationships energise me.

That’s why it still hurts a little when someone doesn’t respond to my Twitter. When nobody "likes" something in my FriendFeed stream. I know, Scoble has four gazillion follows, and I understand that. I know that in the same place, I’d be a lot worse. It’s not because I’m angry that they wouldn’t pay attention to me.

It’s because I long to be friends with people. To share, to grow, to laugh and talk about comics.

To build stuff together. To reminisce about the time we mooned the president.

To brainstorm ideas. Get better.

Forge new stories.


These hurts however are so insignificant in the bigger picture that it would be petty of me to mention them, except here they serve a point.

Thankyou for reading this post. Please leave a comment. Twitter me. Friendfeed me. Say G’day. I’ll promptly reply with some comment about wombats.

And here’s the point:

Be content to let your relationships grow Organically, even if they begin Manufactured.

1. Introduction (Clarion & A Game Database)

A Computer Game is Business Software.

A Computer Game is a system provided for the solving of a problem and the filling of a need.

Okay. It’s pretty obvious, so I’m not trying to be clever with those statements. Simple and clear.

However, most Computer Games are as far from Business Software as you can get staring into this rectangular magic looking glass view .. thingy.

Business Software has an interface which is very close to the database. Sure, we move from exact data representation on a form to transforming the data into a better User experience .. Browses and Tabs and Drop Down Lists are just the beginning. You’ve got Task Panels and Drag’N’Drop. You’ve got twenty billion Google Engineers slaving away on ease of Business Interface.

But it’s still close to the Database. And that’s fine.

The Game Interface is about as far away from the database as we can manage today.

Let’s backtrack a bit. The year is .. whatever year it was Bard’s Tale came out (1985). You had a couple of Window Frames, one being the main interface into the world. It was decidedly square. Of course, you had bit-pictures of monsters and blacksmiths which enabled our brains to imagine.

But still, it was a game. You couldn’t mistake it for an application which drove your boss’s Turbine Engine Simulation for Aeronautical Nerds.

Please substitute a bunch of games in here that expanded the Gaming Interface. Wolfenstein. Doom. Quake. Half-Life.

I’m going RPG here. It’s not a technical history article. It’s a opinion article based on the point I’m trying to get across.

Then along came Diablo (1997), and the interface jumped away. No longer was it NetHack and Angband with ascii characters. This was pure awesome. It transported things far beyond the business computer screen. Into a fantastical place where swords and scrolls dropped from scaly creatures whom you had just slain with spells of lightning and fire, with weapons of chaos and mayhem.

More games come every year which give us further .. Abstraction Reality, and less Actual Reality. Morrowind and then Oblivion for the RPG people. Let’s not forget the Bioware epics. Also a little game called Half-Life 2. And have you played WoW with some of the powerful and amazing UI Mods? Etc etc, blah blah blah. You’ve already thought of ten or twenty or a hundred other games.

Abstraction Reality is Developers giving us what we see, which is not what is. As we know, behind the evolving of the Game Interface are ones and zeros. Data. Tables and Structures and .. well, the stuff of true magic :). This is the Actual Reality.

From a Database-Modelling-Developer-Application-Person point of view, what separates the Computer Game from the Business Sofware is ..

.. Interaction with the Database. In a Game, the User has much less interaction with and effect on the Database. It is the Engine which manipulates the data. To varying degrees, obviously. And there are Business programs which wouldn’t be so far removed.

What I’m getting at here is that when you sit down to create a piece of Accounting Software, you think in terms of Data and User Interface. In a Game, it’s about Data, User Interface, and the Engine.

Data. User Interface. The Engine.

So what’s this post doing on a Clarion blog? Good question! I’m so glad you asked.

I’m going to set about creating a Backend Administration System for a simple RPG Database.

The Database is not going to be perfect. In fact, it will purposely leave big chunks of what actually should be in a Game Database out.

Plus, you have to leave room for my stupidity.

In the next post in this series, we’ll take a look at the RPG Database and deconstruct it a little. The third post will then go through in screenshots how we create the Clarion Dictionary (the place where all the Table references are kept). The fourth post will screenshot through the process of making the Application itself. And the last post will probably be a movie of it all. Maybe.