Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Gifts, New Scripts, New look for website...

Find out from this post what has been going on for the last month, i.e. late November – December 2006. I learned some new PHP stuff, got some sweet Settlers of Catan Christmas gifts, plus even more website changes.....

New PHP Stuff:

I have been looking for a way to generate or pseudo-generate individual pages for each post of each news source, (i.e. Robber Free Real, SOC-World-Evolves, etc.) ever since I started using Magpie RSS - the free, open source RSS parser for PHP I use to run part of the content management on SOC-World.org.

Step (1) Organizing the posts by integer time stamp of original publication – In PHP there is a function which converts the date and time into an integer form and counts the seconds from midnight of the UNIX epoch (I believe that is January 1, 1970).

Step (2) Using the integer time stamp as a tag unique identifier for each individual post page…that is using the integer time stamp of any given post as the particular part of the URL which distinguishes one post from another.

Step (3) Learning how to use the PHP Super Global “GET” to pull information stored in the URL (in my case the integer time stamp) to customize the PHP code on the target page in the desired fashion.

Christmas 2006:

The Settlers of Catan items I asked for: Seafarers of Catan Expansion, Seafarers of Catan: 5 to 6 Player Expansion, Cities and Knights of Catan: 5 to 6 Player Expansion, and Settlers of Catan Event Cards (the cards that can replace the dice). I received all these things on my Settlers of Catan wish list. I must interject…I really have not asked for this many toy-type gifts in a while because I am 23 years old and typically ask for more practical things. However, Settlers of Catan is the kind of game that can really drag you down…I should know I built the website SOC-World.org because I am so addicted to the game.

As far as other gifts…I bought my wife an iPod Video. At first I was a little weary of the idea, but the more I have played with it, the more I like it.

More Website Changes:

If you have not seen the new look of SOC-World.org ( as of mid November 2006 ) get a good look now because very soon that look will be replaced by a more streamlined look to allow for the new PHP changes to really thrive and so the website can be even more user and search engine friendly.

Refrences:

  • http://www.soc-world.org
  • http://www.mayfairgames.com
  • http://magpierss.sourceforge.net



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    Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    A Post...A Toast...to 2006...

    Learn about the events between April 2006 and October 2006 leading up to the SOC-World renewal. Also find out what significant events happened related to Settlers of Catan and unrelated to Settlers of Catan. If you don't ready anything else, at least go to the Top 10 List.....

    In my previous post on SOC-World-Evolves, I mentioned that I am going through a period of SOC-World renewal...trying to add actual content, really trying to learn the cutting edge in website design. If you were not privileged to see the horror that was the old site, then I am sorry because as of Wednesday 11/22/2006 I finally released a working variant of the monolith that is currently SOC-World.org. If I feel up to it one day, I may create a SOC-World online history museum to display the way the site used to be.

    Let me warn you before you get sucked into this post, this post is a quick but in some cases deep look into my personal life and my thoughts on the way my life is headed during each indexed time frame. If you do not care to read about my life outside of the website and Settlers of Catan over the past eight months, then I suggest you stop reading right now.

    The Last 8 Months:

  • April 2006, May 2006, June 2006 - Wedding Planning
  • July 2006 - The Wedding
  • August 2006 - New Beginnings and New Thresholds
  • Setember 2006 - Getting Adjusted
  • October 2006 - A Little Mystery...A Little Design
  • November 2006 - Looking Backwards and Forwards Simultaneously
  • Top 10 List - Events in 2006 that are special to me

  • Refrences



  • Some of you may be asking the question: So, what happened between April 2006 and October 2006? The answer is both complex and simple at the same time. As I have alluded to in previous posts, in April 2006, my wife and I were planning our wedding. And as wedding plans escalated, I had less and less time to devote to the website. I had time to play Settlers of Catan online every now and then, but tried to keep on task with her agenda. Honestly I think I was no better than most guys when it came to helping out with the wedding plans. However, until the end of May 2006, because she was trying to finish her undergraduate work in Mathematics, I had to at least give wedding planning a try...don’t get your hopes up, I failed miserably. June 2006 went by so fast, I still believe sometimes, when I wake up, it is June 4, 2006. With our birthdays, invitations, and all the showers, I blinked and June was gone.

    I thought June was moving at a break-neck speed, that is until I was formally introduced to July 2006. July 2006, even though it was fast paced, it was a very happy time for us as we were married right in the middle of the month, marking the climax of the wedding chaos. July ended before I knew it, and my wife and I had already signed a lease for an apartment a little closer to where she would be attending grad school.

    In August 2006, we moved out of my old, rundown, bachelor pad apartment and into our newer roomier, family style apartment. My wife started grad school at the end of August, and I started what is now my current shift at work. I would say through out August my wife and I were perpetually crossing new thresholds in more ways then one. I mention my shift change because it is the kind of shift change that could potentially ruin or at least put a noticeable rift between newly weds. I went from getting up at the ungodly hour of 2:30 AM and working early morning to early afternoon, to starting work at dusk and getting off just before dawn. I say this hoping not to jinx myself, I think that it may have been the best shift change I have ever done. But this sort of shift change must be given a lot of thought; this sort of change is definitely not for everyone. Close to the end of August, I got my wife a furry friend to keep her company at night, a kitten. We named the kitten Smoke, because he liked to play in dark places. After getting that cat our life together will never be the same again. The kitten brought us closer than at least I expected.

    September 2006 was finally a month where we were able to catch our collective breath and really try to take in married life. I was able to get adjusted to the new shift and it really did not take long, even though the learning curve for this shift is much steeper than most other shifts. My wife, meanwhile, was doing an excellent job adjusting to her graduate school and teaching considering the faculty obstacles around her.

    By October 2006, our kitty had grown from the tiny feline he was, into a medium sized cat. However, he is still very much a kitten at heart as he loved and still loves to attack our feet and get within mere millimeters of our faces while we sleep. I also started looking for a new job, but I will not list specifics. I also started really focusing on website design and figuring out how to retool SOC-World.org.

    Now November 2006 is nearing a close but before I close out this post I have a few last things to say. I watched my favorite college football team get hammered in two losses by basically a lot of bad no-calls and calls not in favor of my team because of the seemingly blind officiating crews in the last two weeks. I must say that amongst looking for a new job and the poor college football environment that the BCS has created, I have found peace by and focus by diverting my attention to working on the website and trying to be more attentive to my wife. I have purchased a few books on learning PHP, MySQL, XML, AJAX, and search engine optimization. By the way, I still currently am employed by The Nameless and Shameless. And just this weekend, I spent time with my wife, my true best friend, by taking her to the optometrist, spending some time by ourselves riding to my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving, by taking her to get her backup pair glasses repaired while the new glasses get made, bringing home take out, washing the dishes, organizing her papers she has to grade and hand back to her students, and by recognizing that no matter what I do for her it is still not enough because she loves me so much.

    I would like to finish off with the top 10 list of events things that happened in 2006 relevant to me.

    Top 10 List:

  • 10 - I started work on www.soc-world.org. - See #9
  • 9 - I was introduced to Settlers of Catan. - If this had not happened, then you would not be reading this post, nor would www.soc-world.org exist.
  • 8 - We (my wife and I) were able to move into a much better apartment.
  • 7 - On January 4, 2006, My College Football Team, the TEXAS LONGHORNS, WON THE NATIONAL TITLE. Like I said before, the Longhorns have been plagued by many bad calls and bad no-calls...in fact the only game that was called fairly was the Ohio State game, maybe because they had good Big 10 officials...hmmm...oh well, Ohio State is my second favorite college team...so GO BUCKEYES!!!
  • 6 - My wife and I adopted our kitten, Smoke.
  • 5 - I met my wife's childhood best friend for the first time.
  • 4 - I met my wife's dad for the first time.
  • 3 - My wife graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Mathematics.
  • 2 - My wife started graduate school.
  • 1 - My wife and I were married.


  • Refrences:

  • http://www.soc-world.org
  • Read More...

    Monday, November 20, 2006

    My other friend the Internet…

    Find out how the Internet made my Settlers of Catan addiction increase exponentially. I provide my favorite website / client to play Settlers of Catan online with players all across the Internet. I also mention how I started SOC-World.org.....

    Over the next two weeks Xaplo and I met with couple and other game enthusiasts and all we played was Settlers of Catan. At this point, I looked my friend the Internet for a way to get better at the game. I found a Java Client called JSettlers - www.jsettlers.com.

    A few more weeks went by without interaction with the game enthusiast group because I was getting use to a new schedule at work. However I kept playing Settlers of Catan online for a few weeks with the AI and got somewhat of a fundamental understanding of Settlers of Catan.

    Mid-April-Magic…

    At the time I was thoroughly convinced that JSettlers was the best online variant of the game Settlers of Catan…until I came across a stand alone client that makes me get goose bumps every time I try to compare it to any other client. That new super sweet client was none other than Sea3D - www.s3dconnector.net. Once I started using this client, it became more and more clear each time I played…this was the cutting edge of Online Settlers of Catan.

    About a week or so later I decided that strategy for Settlers of Catan was in short supply but seemed to be in high demand, especially for newcomers. That is when I decided I would try to launch a legitimate website: www.soc-world.org. Unfortunately this website looks like worse then kitten vomit, to put it politely. Update 12/28/2006: The website (www.soc-world.org) is really starting to look much better.

    Thus, I am going through a period of SOC-world renewal…trying to add actual content, really trying to learn the cutting edge in website design. Currently the main page is still looking as bad as it ever has, and I am trying to push my self to retool the main index page of www.soc-world.org to have the new and improved look I have been working on.

    Read More...

    Monday, November 06, 2006

    I am addicted to Settlers of Catan...

    This post explains how I became addicted to Settlers of Catan and the events leading up to my introduction to the game. This post also gives some insight into my attitude when I play games, i.e., how competitive I become.....


    I am addicted to Settlers of Catan.

    But as most of you who play know, I was not always this way, honestly.

    Summer 2005:

    I was actually introduced to Settlers of Catan for the first time by my fiancé (now she is my wife). At the time I am not sure why, but I was not really impressed with the game. I watched as she played game after game, but I never tried it out.

    Fast forward…March 2006:

    My best friend Xaplo had been hanging out with a group of card / board game enthusiasts - I would not exactly call them gamers because they lead very adult lives and although they are competitive, they are not truly cut throat, with the I AM THE BEST attitude. Through that group he was introduced to Settlers of Catan and learned the game very fast.

    Interjection: A little gamer info about Xaplo and me…

    It should be noted that Xaplo and I are extremely competitive when it comes to any game, not just with each other, with others as well - Xaplo plays a little nicer with novices, than I do, but we are both cut throat, with the I AM THE BEST attitude, when playing others on our level. Some people have said that when we play games we suck the fun right out of games for other players, to the point that they really get turned off.

    …Back to the show in March 2006:

    Xaplo said I should meet with the group of game enthusiasts. So one night when they were going to meet Xaplo and I grabbed some food with one of Xaplo’s female companions and the three of us went to play games. However, that night we did not play Settlers of Catan.

    A few weeks later my fiancé was in town for her spring break. Xaplo and the core couple of the game enthusiasts thought it would be a good idea to go play putt-putt golf at local course. My fiancé was really excited and wanted to meet the couple I had been spending a fair amount of time with, so she was ready to go play golf when Xaplo picked her up - I could not pick her up in time because I was the last one to get off of work that day. We played putt-putt golf and then went to eat at a really swanky burger joint close to the couple’s house.

    Over dinner the four of them, who have all had varying levels of experience with the game Settlers of Catan, were doing their best to explain the game to me. I was quite interested but was thinking I need to eat to think. So our food came and we dug in. The four of my companions convinced me I should give Settlers a try. I agreed, and the couple had us all go back to their really awesome house to play a 5 player game of Vanilla Settlers of Catan, with special building phase.

    I believe we ended up playing 3 games that night, none of which I won, but I knew I was hooked after the first game.

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    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    Why SOC-World-Evolves exists...

    This post introduces SOC-World-Evolves as a spawn of my thoughts about Settlers of Catan, website development, and most importantly the intersection of the two in my microcosm of the universe SOC-World.org.....

    This site is offspring of offspring from the game Settlers of Catan. This site is part of a network of sites with the mother site (www.soc-world.org) and sister site (robberfreerealm.blogspot.com), which aim to provide a body of knowledge for Settlers of Catan players with even more direct and indirect content about the game Settlers of Catan..... This particular site is devoted mainly to me (Noclafder) and my experiments and ordeals with the design and upkeep the mother site and its other offspring.

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