Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan is a popular German breed of board game. It has a few simple and attractive concepts which somehow make it into an incredibly fun game. Incredible, as I can literally not quite credit just how it is so much fun.

The game has you collecting resources from the land you own, correspondent to the throw of the die. By spending these resources, you can essentially choose to claim more land, add value to the land you own, or progress your overall operation. Similarly to other games I’ve played (such as the Age of Mythology board game), you collect Victory Points by achieving things. Accumulating 10 of these, openly or secretly, results in a win for you.

Catan board

Much like in Monopoly, trading is very open and player-defined, except for a few rules which streamline proceedings by making it impossible to tribute another player in an imbalanced fashion.

The roll of the die tends to benefit all players the same as long as they’ve spent their very first turn wisely. As a result, the game relies more on skill than on chance, and there is an overflow of things to be found within its mysterious depths; far too many strategies to comprehend on the first or second play. Players of Catan gain a web of understanding, and must gradually soak it in the game’s very ichor.

As there is only one moving board piece, the game can be played effectively on paper. This is something I am currently documenting, but a thorough reference to the Catan box contents has been posted on boardgamegeek by one droberts441.

Since this game has been called the board game of our time, you would do well to check it out if you’re not already a fan, it really is very good.


Scenario: My friend Ben and I need to exchange links to web resources on a regular basis.

Problem: I do not have Facebook. Ben does not have Twitter. Ben does not use email. Lastly, Ben does not have a rich-web capable phone with which to receive links via SMS. As you can see, this is mostly his fault.

Solution: Ben And Ste’s Social, or BASS.

While it now has 3 users — and should more accurately be called BLASS — my latest PHP experiment remains a minimalist text-and-links sharing site. It has hardcoded user data, meaning you only need to enter a password in order to post. That is obviously ‘fail’ in several ways, but it is also super secure. It has its problems, but at the moment it does the job perfectly under the load expected.

I learnt to use flock() instead of the time consuming process of restoring from backups, and a major revision is underway which will queue and batch-manage messages rather than allowing each client to modify the master log.

The tagline, and even the name of the service (“Bass”) can be changed by any of the priveleged users in their Config options at any time, which adds fun. Messages stack in a way which I am beginning to realise is what is generally acknowledged as “backwards”. I will fix that.

Bass will also have support for an embedded HTML document for each user which gives them tabbed access to their favourite websites search facilities. It automagically recognises links, even those which lack protocol prefix.

BASS is private and has no signup system.

OK. Good. I’m glad we had this chat.


…I haven’t got much of it any more.

I am truly sorry that that page is not better designed; my CSS falls down on many occassions. I’d like to thank the people who sponsored and helped. The money will be with World Vision as soon as it has been totalised and the gift aid sorted out, etc.

The event was videoed, and the refined example will be released as soon as my video drone is finished in the lab.

See you soon internets.


I was dead for 36 hours, which I hear is kind of dangerous. That behind me, I’m feeling… appeased.
When two people agree on things staying the same, you guarantee one fact: things will change. That’s not necessarily productive or comfortable. In any case we have to ‘learn to deal’. The emergency is over, and the undesirable ferrel child that is hormones is once again playing nicely with my brain, without stealing his Lego or pinning him to a Wendy house. Hurray.
Star Trek season 3 episode 19, as Spok places a mind-infiltrating hand upon Kirk’s sleeping brow, whispering compassionately, “forget!”, I find myself wanting a bro like Spok around.


Just playing at being Charlie Brown. Something that I thought was going really well has just sort of died on my shoes, and now I wonder quite where I’ve been for the last 4 months.
I hear your thoughts, and yes, this blog post is exactly as adolescently angsty as it sounds.
Somehow I’ve convinced myself that there is no life from here, which is patently ridiculous, but still: hmm. Just hmmm.
I’m reevaluating the way I’ve been thinking about everything for my recorded past, on ‘all cores’ of my brain. Near catatonic. Falling over more than I would like to be. Augh!
I believe Jim Carrey went mad on the internet. I’m staying away from twitter so I can be cringe-worthy in more than a few hundred characters.
Pray for me guys(s). Lol at delusions of readership.

It’s all fixed

So, for a while, I had two phones with the same outgoing number. I could send a message from the blackberry I’m using right now, and the reply would go to the other phone. I think Einstein had a thing or two to say about spooky things like that.
Anyway, ring ring hello Orange. 20 unproductive minutes later, it’s all ASDA’s fault. Ring ring hello ASDA. Impossible you say? I know you’re right, of course, the guy at orange had a distinct air of ‘haventaclue’. You’ll send them an email? Oh how kind and useful of you.
It was fixed about 5 minutes later, so cool. I’m not going to hold a grudge or anything, i’m just pleased to get to use my new phone.
So life’s good at the moment, which makes for boring blog. I will season it with physics and programming and minecraft and all manner of geeky things, as a chef would lasagne with salt and pepper and whatever you put in a lazaggknee nowaday.
As they say on interweb, kbye.

More PHP Fun

2 PHP-solvable problems presented themselves to me this week, both, as it happens, on Minecraft Forums. I imagine that just happens to correlate to the amount of time I spend there.

In the first case, I wanted to be pretentious about making a tally chart. This was because in just ONE topic (albeit a very controversial one) it had been necessary for the mods to ban a total of 6 people. That needed tallying. There was a sense of urgency to getting my post out, and as such I ended up just making an ASCII rendition. The problem remained, and eventually, tally chart generator happened.

I want to make very, very simple web apps which take minimal input (not a whole form) and give minimum output (not a glossy translucent .png) because I think that kind of thing is cool. The novelty of this sort of programming hasn’t worn off.

As such, the next thing to emerge was an image resizer. Despite the wealth of code snippets out there to do this, I decided to write from scratch using the PHP docs. The problem came around when, in a Pixel Art thread, a contributor excused his tiny image because the ImageShack variety had failed him. It works with all .pngs but I plan adding non-animated .gif support.

The image resizer doesn’t have a nice introduction text like the tally, but is documented in the thread to which I linked above.


That is all of my PHP productivity for this week.

People and Playlists

Ha. So I’m a mood which I have designated “infatuated”, and wanted some music to match.

I tried, with tag “Love songs” which sucked. Also, some soppy artists’ stations, which transpired also not to be my thing. Then I decided I had enough music to put a good playlist together from my collection, ranging from Depeche Mode to Britney Spears, to Avantasia, Yellowcard, Greenday, and Franz Ferdinand. So pretty much all of my favourite artists.

It is much better than the procedurally generated offerings.

I spent the middle part of yesterday with my good friend Edward. My teaching him guitar is merely an excuse for our meetings, which are far more widespread in topical coverage. Oh, also he bought Minecraft by the time I left. That’s 4 sales I am directly responsible for now; if only spreading the good news of Christ was as easy as spreading sales of a game where you can beat a sheep to death with bacon and set fire to skeletons from the windows of your hand-built fortress.

Speaking of which, I spent an hour talking with some Jehovah’s witnesses in my porch yesterday. It was good, and there was mutual understanding all around.

Right now, I am developing a guide to the latest paid version of Minecraft, which we call “infdev”, partly inspired by the fact that most new buyers (like Eds) would find it hard to set out. It’ll be out in a few days I suppose.

Dan and Melissa’s wedding tommorrow, which will bring a satisfying closure to all of the stress (other people’s) that I have been made aware of during preparations. I am super-happy for them, too, because they’re a very sweet couple, and awesome people in isolation, for example, I was under the impression for a long time that Dan was the last word in cool. Perhaps he still is.



Quitting Facebook

I’m not addicted, I’m just sick of it.

Admittedly, the initial idea buzzed into my head straight from this xkcd strip. I think Randall is a bit skeptical about Diaspora from the tone of the alt text, but I’m not bothered. I think it sounds like a beautiful thing, and a great alternative.

Anyway, I’m confusing you unless you’re very aware of this kind of thing, or you’ve already read the page where I discussed why I’m leaving Facebook at length.

I tried to make that page look quite good… sniffed out a cunning and perfectly legal way of using the Facebook logo font (Klavika) for my heading. Still, my writing style is super corny when I’m being righteous; that is a matter to be corrected later.

I’ve fixed the hub page of to work in all browsers and resolutions, something I believe in fairly staunchly. I just need to make it XHTML strict compliant and then finish the evening with some /infdev/ minecraft. Ahhh.



Some guys in my maths class wanted a place they can download all of the teacher’s sheets at leisure. They asked, I made Thoth. They’ll probably think it’s really geeky, and ask why it’s called Thoth… oh well. The project made me appreciate GNU license graphics; the Thoth vector graphic was immaculately made, and easy to work with, both physically and legally.

Otherwise, I have restructured the main page of SteGriff to reflect what I want for my branding right now. Unfortunately, it works really badly on many display setups, which is something I plan to correct, but not as a matter of urgency.

It was Paul Geering‘s “automated” email that p(rov)oked me to blog on this occassion… I sort of let it slip over half term, until he set the wheels back in motion. Thanks Paul!