Saturday, July 09, 2011

A bit of this and a bit of that

Technical problems stop the Panzers in their tracks
Just don't aim for
the window...
Badger came round last night for what was supposed to be another session of Fighting Formations and perhaps some Combat Commander. Unfortunately events were to intervene in the form of the shiny new desktop PC which I had taken delivery of just the previous day. I hadn't had time to set everything up that Thursday, so on the Friday I decided just to wait for Badger's arrival so that he could offer his assistance. It's not that I'm a complete tech-idiot or anything but there are always risks associated with transferring your old system to a new machine, so I felt it would be useful to have Badger on hand.

Just as well too it turned out.
Stupid, stupid, stupid!
A 21st century nightmare
It all began when I foolishly simply yanked the USB connector for my external hard drive from its socket in the back of my old machine. When I had the new computer all set up, it kept telling me that I had to format the external hard drive, on which is stored all the work I've done in more than 10 years. You can imagine then, dear readers, how I was feeling at that point. Badger leapt into the breach and, a quick internet search later, he had diagnosed the problem: namely that I had forgotten to 'safely remove' the external hard drive. Apparently it's rare that this will produce problems which, to be blunt, was little comfort for me at that moment.

The Badger saves the day
Simple Green
So, Badger was humming and hawing about how to fix the problem and reassuring me that he was sure my data could be recovered somehow or other, when he suddenly remembered that I have an old laptop on which, some time ago, he'd installed Linux Mint in the hope that he could encourage me finally to abandon Windows (he's something of a Linux crusader don't you know). That effort had failed because, for some reason, we couldn't get that old laptop to connect to the internet to install the updates needed to demonstrate Mint to me in all its glory.

Double phew!
One lengthy boot process later, sure enough, the laptop recognised the hard drive and there was all my data, safe and sound. Phew. Then I had the bright idea that my new computer wouldn recognise the drive now that it had been recognised by the laptop. Et voilà, problem solved. All that remained was to repeat the whole process- because the problem recurred when I when I switched the drive off, then to copy all my data from the external drive to the hard drive on the new machine just to make sure that it is secure. Three hours later, the emergency was definitvely over.

Meanwhile, the shiny shiny?
After all those hi-jinks, what about my new computer? In short, it's fab. Apart from all the usual stuff about the extra power you get when you upgrade, I have to say that a 20" wide monitor is truly amazing: webpages are so much more spacious, and favourite apps like GIMP benefit greatly from the extra width. The only 'downside' is that I'm forcefully reminded exactly how much space is wasted in those green columns on each side of RD/KA!'s venerable classic blogger 'Son of Moto' template. I really will have to do something about this.

Alhambra it is then
The day saved and dinner done, it was too late for Badger and I to start our planned game of Fighting Formations. Liam was visiting too, so it seem churlish to sit down to a game of Combat Commander. Some light 3-player action it was going to be then. I was very keen on a game of Cosmic Encounter but Badger persuasively noted that it's not at its best with 3 players (sad but true). Dominion was mooted by Badger, but it lost out in the end to Liam's suggestion that we play Alhambra.

We played 2 games. I won the first comfortably, although Badger was pleased to come second because he'd never played Alhambra before. The second game was much closer. Badger won in the end thanks to some astute wall-building in the endgame (I played that aspect particularly badly in this game, in stark contrast to the first). Liam and I were tied a mere 1 point behind.

Bagder liked Alhambra. Well you would, wouldn't you, after doing so well in your first 2 games? To be fair though, his liking was evident throughout play, as witness his catchphrase for the night, "In-teresting".

And finally
Gaming website BoardGameGeek has been hosting blogs for some time now. I've taken to reading a few lately. I noticed that some were crossposts from externally-hosted blogs. Why ever not I thought. So I've begun crossposting RD/KA! to RD/KA!@BGG. The major technical issue- translating a post written with HTML tags into a post written with BBcode tags, proved to be simple to solve, thanks to Keynote. I wrote a template containing each HTML element and its BBcode replacement. With this I just have to run a 'Find and Replace' and the whole thing is done in minutes. Lovely, lovely Keynote NF!

I've crossposted 2 posts to RD/KA!@BGG so far and the results are already encouraging, and that's even without illustrations (BGG doesn't offer the same layout options as blogger, and I'd have to upload the images to BGG to use them to boot, so I just leave them out). I noticed a marked spike in readership here. Better even than that perhaps is the success of RD/KA!@BGG by the standards of BGG blogs.

As is prevalent across the web, there is a button on BGG you can use to show your liking of site content- the 'thumb'. My previous crosspost garnered itself 18 thumbs. This was only 4 thumbs shy of the top 10 most popular BGG blogs, as registered by the number of thumbs. These 'Hot' blogs stay on BGG's front page instead of disappearing down the roll of 'Recent' blogposts. So you can imagine then, dear readers, how satisfying this positive start is to yours truly; all the more so for reasons that need no rehearsal here.

And yes, I'll never again yank USBs from their ports before I've 'safely removed' the hardware. Of that you can be sure. ;)


gnome said...

Ah, a new PC is always a source of joy. Have fun with it. Oh, and congrats for successfully and cooperatively saving your data!

"A bit political on yer ass!" said...

"Ah, a new PC is always a source of joy. Have fun with it."

They are; it is; and I will.

This machine will probably turn out to be the one on which I finally escape the clutches of Windows. Watching Badger set up Liam's Linux Mint on my old machine reassured me that all my old worries about the learning curve were truly gone (they dated back to an old version of Ubuntu in any case). And Liam's experience of Mint has been so immediately positive that I've realised that I've got no further excuse.

I've just got to check a couple of software compatibility issues and I'll be off. :-D

"Oh, and congrats for successfully and cooperatively saving your data!"

It was all down to Badger really. I just had a bright idea after he'd confirmed that my data was secure. ;)

Chris Norwood said...

You don't actually have to upload pictures to BGG to use them. Just use the [img][/img] or [inlineimg][/inlineimg] commands around the URL of the picture from your blog, and it shows up beautifully. It'd be a little extra work, and you can't format it floating around in the text, but I've used it pretty well in reviews that I've cross-posted on BGG.

I would be very interested in knowing more about the Keynote template that you use (I don't know anything about keynote!) Currently, I have a template built in Word, but then end up copying and pasting text from my reviews into the template. If I could just do a quick find & replace, it would make life a lot easier (and I might consider cross-posting my blog enteries there as well)!

Would you share it?

"A bit political on yer ass!" said...

Hi there Chris, welcome to RD/KA! and thanks for your comment. To quote from the Keynote NF homepage, Keynote is a "Tabbed notebook with RichText editor, multi-level notes and strong encryption." I reviewed the application back in 2009. All I can add here is that I'd recommend it highly to anyone who's writing anything: it's free and very useful.

As for the template? It's quite straightforward really: it contains all the relevant opening and closing tags for HTML/blogger and for BGG BBcode. I find and replace the former with the latter. There is a small tweak I'm going to make, which is to start by finding and replacing the left and right angle brackets with the left and right square brackets. This will mean that the HTML/blogger tags to find will have square brackets instead of angle brackets. Hope that all makes sense.

Oh, and thanks for the tip about the BBcode image tags. I won't be adding all my illustrations to my RD/KA!@BGG, but I can see me using them for session reports or reviews at least. ;)