AJ Henderson AJ's Blog

October 18, 2010

MySpace and LinkedIn

Filed under: Cool Stuff,Personal,Technology,Work — AJ @ 5:21 pm

Sure they may be the abandoned end of the interwebs, but why shouldn’t they enjoy the blog linking bliss?  Thanks to Alpha Links for the latest functionality.


October 12, 2010

Success: Integrating with Facebook, Twitter, The City and Android

So after three or four days of work, it looks like I finally have a working system.  I can now post from my Galaxy S to my blog and have that send notifications to Facebook, Twitter and The City.  For those curious in the details, I’m running the latest WordPress, PHP and MySQL for the site with the Janrain Engage, Twitter Tools (slightly modified to get #tc hashing working from Android client posts) and Wordbooker for plugins.

Janrain Engage and Gigya were in pretty close running, but I liked the integrated Share ability of the Janrain plugin.  Gigya would be better for a larger site as it is definitely a slicker back end, but it lacked the front end simplicity that I was looking for for this project.  Both systems provide integrated authentication from a number of different social networks and web sites like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, MySpace, AIM, Flicker, etc.  They also both offer the ability for users to share your posts under their own accounts directly from the site, however Gigya required an additional step to setup.  Both are free for non-commercial purposes at low usage levels (sub 1000 unique visitors a month).

Twitter Tools directly integrates with Twitter’s API and handles Twitter posting when new blog posts come in.  I had to modify it a little because the hash tags plugin was not adding hash tags when posting from the Android client (and presumably any other WordPress API using client).  I have submitted the bug so hopefully the hack won’t be necessary soon.  Currently I just have it hardcoded to always add #tc to posts to push to The City using The City’s Twitter integration.  (For those who are not familiar, The City is a private social networking platform for churches run by Zondervan.)

Wordbooker hooks in to Facebook Connect and handles both pushing status and wall updates for posts as well as pulling back comments from the wall post on an hourly basis.  Note that if you try it out, I have comment approval required still so it might not show up even after an hour since I might not be watching my phone for comment notifications.

So yeah, with that project done and out of the way, now I get to move straight in to updating my World of Warcraft mod since they just released the 4.0.1 client today… wish they could have waited another month or so, but oh well, life goes on.  At least I have another great developer helping on that project and I get paid (I’ll be it about $1.50 a week (go profit sharing) and guaranteed Beta invites for WoW expansions.) for something I’d do anyway.


Foiled by Twitter Updates

Filed under: Church,Cool Stuff,Personal — AJ @ 4:19 pm

So apparently the reason The City wasn’t getting status updates is that Twitter decided to update their system and broke the link that The City used.  After tweeting their lead developer, they seem to have gotten it working again so it is time for another test…  Here’s hoping for the best…


October 11, 2010

Hopefully The City works now

Filed under: Church,Cool Stuff,Personal — AJ @ 10:08 pm

The last attempt didn’t work.  Sorry for the blog spam.


Twitter Too

Filed under: Church,Cool Stuff,Personal — AJ @ 10:03 pm

Hopefully twitter and the city are now linked as well…


Social Networking Comes To AJHenderson.com

Filed under: Cool Stuff,Personal — AJ @ 9:03 pm

So in my quest to actually make my blog something I update I have added social networking integration. With any luck it should now be possible to login and share posts with several different logins as well as auto posting blogs to facebook.


October 7, 2010

Important Note on MySQL and PHP5

Filed under: Cool Stuff — Tags: , — AJ @ 12:17 am

So after much searching, I finally discovered the cause of PHP5 not being able to connect to MySQL.  As it turns out going from PHP4 to PHP5 changes from a client requiring old_password to a client that requires you don’t, so be sure to reset your passwords to the new hash or it won’t work. Hope it helps.


October 6, 2010

Troubleshooting the Blog and Overdue Maintenance

Filed under: Cool Stuff,Personal — AJ @ 8:46 pm

Well, doing some troubleshooting of the Android WordPress client seems to point towards the fact I was using MySQL 4 and PHP4 as the main culprits.  I’d been on those ancient versions still because of the Wiicafe.com site which is co-located with this one having some legacy issues that I’d have to deal with, but this finally gave me the motivation to try tackling them.  I have not done the PHP update yet, but I was able to (apparently) successfully upgrade to the latest MySQL with minimal problems actually (about 2 hours of work for about 18 DBs) and was able to eliminate a lot of spam polluted DBs that were bogging the server down.  If the PHP update goes as smoothly I’ll be quite happy.


October 5, 2010

Ugh, Android Posts Not Working Right… Cry!!

Filed under: Digg — AJ @ 10:52 pm

So apparently Android is not properly posting articles to the site.  The last few posts I have made with my new phone have all been truncated off after I took the time to write long articles about stuff.  Sad night, really frustrated and don’t have time to rewrite them now.  I will try to get around to it at some point but don’t know when I’ll be able to for sure.  So for now, just ignore the fact that my previous 4 posts are crazy short and make no sense.  They are broken… 🙁


World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Beta Thoughts

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — AJ @ 10:39 pm

So, as a mod author, I was able to get beta keys for my wife and my accounts so we could help with testing and get familiar with the content.  I’ve spent a few weeks trying it out now and thought I would share my thoughts.  The first and biggest thought is that this is NOT an expansion.  It is a completely new game.  Sure you may have characters that have gear that looks the same, have the same professions and have the same class, but from that point on, it’s a new ballpark.  The graphics have gotten a major overhaul with shader based water and improved lighting and rendering.  The game engine now supports loading content while you play and better in-game cut scenes.  The combat system has been completely changed and focused on game play rather than mechanics.  The quest chains have been redone to be more streamlined with better flow.  Almost nothing of the current game really remains.

Overall I think the majority of the improvements are a vast improvement over the current game, though I think the scope of the changes may cause some tension when the expansion first comes out.  Other areas really did suffer for the worse in some people’s views, but not without alterations in other areas to make up for it.  A good example of this is the mass simplification of the gear system.  Previously, if you felt like doing your own theory crafting, it was possible to take non-standard routes with gear and accomplish unique specializations that you couldn’t match with a standard Elitist Jerks build.  Now this really doesn’t seem possible.  There is some options for altering gear stats, but you don’t have enough subtly different variables to tweak anymore.  To make up for this though, the skill aspect of the game has been refocused on game play.  The pacing of combat has slowed, but the complexity has gone up.  CC and cast breaking is back with a vengeance, as is damage avoidance.  It’s less reflex based and more thought based to deal with the challenges each fight provides.  Additionally, Bliz was nice enough to include really solid visual cues for things like ability procs.  The emphasis on all this really seems to be a move towards trying to have a more natural interface with the game that focuses less on the mechanics of playing the game and more on what is actually happening.

What really makes this work is that Blizzard has also really taken the storytelling to a new level in this expansion.  Epic story arcs covering entire zones and smoothly flowing throughout the zone, as well as the addition of heavy instancing and lots of in-game, in-line animation lead to a game that actually feels like you are in the story and your actions matter.  So far I have made it through Vashj’ir and Deepholm and I can easily say these are two of the best zones Blizzard has made yet, with Vashj’ir quite possibly being their masterwork.  Vashj’ir puts you at the center of the conflict between the Naga and the Tidehunter.   Through heavy use of instancing and a smooth, flowing storyline, in addition to the smoother, more natural interface,  this zone feels the most like you are actually making a difference and actually living out a story of any zone I have played before.

Deepholm was a little more like Borean Tundra in its layout, but with a main story arc that covers the entire area.  As you work to repair the damage caused by the rift between Deepholm and the surface, you explore several subzones and interact with different factions in your quest.  In both Vashj’ir and Deepholm, the questing and the instances run smoothly together with the dungeons acting as a cap piece to the story line, very similar to the way Deadmines and the Defias line worked, but to a greater extent.

The last major change, and perhaps the most significant for the longevity of the expansion is the guild leveling system.  One of the main classical problems for guilds is that late in an expansion, players begin to leave.  This leaves guilds unable to continue functioning since there are always new guilds cropping up and it can become impossible for any guilds to maintain sufficient momentum.  The guild leveling system offers significant advantages to running with an established guild and should help momentum be maintained for a more consistent and stable experience.  Also, guild reputation should help ensure stability by offering a reason not to switch guilds flippantly over stupid things since it will take time to re-earn guild perks and rewards if you switch to another guild.  Conversely, with raiding switching to only allowing either 10 or 25 man raids to be done by any particular individual on a particular week, guild perks such as Cash Flow (which grants a portion of the gold looted by guild members as extra gold to the guild bank), act as an incentive for guilds to maintain an inclusive atmosphere extending beyond just a core 10 man team.  Both the criteria of leveling and the perks lean towards benefiting large guilds and should encourage guild leaders to maintain large organized guilds, perhaps with a core raiding team funded by the guild bank and other teams for non-progression players.

I’ll try to post more as I make it through additional zones and get a better perspective on the expansion overall.

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