Archive for the 'Puzzle Pirates' Category

Published by Kenneth on 15 Sep 2009

Latest Puzzle Pirates updates

I went up to the Puzzle Pirates forums tonight and noticed that there was a post saying the Bleach uploader is broken thanks to the latest Puzzle Pirates updates. So what happened, and is the Trade Profiteer affected?

First, the shoppe and ship interface is what changed. They combined several commerce functions into one tabbed interface. This means that the “Buy/Sell Commodities” interface on a ship or in a shoppe is no longer compatible with the Trade Profiteer.

This means that if you want to import the data, you will need to go to a commodity market to do so. I will see what I can do about getting it to work elsewhere. I don’t anticipate it taking much, but I likely won’t be able to really look into it until the weekend.

So until I’ve released an update to correct this minor annoyance (watch this blog for updates), you’re currently relegated to the commodity market buildings and forts for getting market information.

Published by Kenneth on 06 Sep 2009

Trade Profiteer data patch released

In light of a recent report through the Puzzle Pirates forums, I’ve released a data patch that will correct a couple of records in the Trade Profiteer database.

First, it was reported that Rambutan was misspelled, spelled as “Rambuta”. Obviously when it’s misspelled, the Trade Profiteer isn’t going to be able to detect it in the market information.

Second, in the first beta release of the Trade Profiteer (build 1204), the commodity “Fine persimmon cloth” was not included. It was added to the database for the second beta release (build 1218), but no patch was distributed for those who were using build 1204. This patch will correct this as well.

As always, be sure to let me know if you have any questions.

Fair winds.

Download the data patch

Published by Kenneth on 31 Aug 2009

Trade Profiteer reaches stable release

Colony West Software Company is pleased to announce the first stable release of the Trade Profiteer. We decided to push forward with a stable release and will be releasing another development (unstable or beta) release sometime soon that will contain the updated OCR code along with other enhancements that need to be tested thoroughly.

New version: 1.0.1331

When the new development release is made available, there will not be an alert from the Trade Profiteer that a new version is available. Bug fixes will be periodically released for the stable version where necessary.

The first development release will be version 1.1. It will contain the new OCR code that will support large fonts and Java 6, along with other enhancements.

Enjoy, and feel free to e-mail me if you feel you have an issue to report.

Fair winds.

Published by Kenneth on 15 Aug 2009

Trade Profiteer delayed

This is just a quick update on the Trade Profiteer. Thankfully since the last beta release – 1.0.1219 – there have not been any issues related to functionality reported, however I’m not entirely ready to move forward with a full release, yet. Due to current projects where I’m employed, time has not really been available to maintain the code and I’ve already fallen behind on the “early August” target.

I’ll keep this blog updated with any pertinent information.

Published by Kenneth on 19 Jul 2009

Quick update release for Trade Profiteer

A quick update release was provided for the Trade Profiteer today. The new version is 1.0.1219. There was an issue reported that the Trade Profiteer was reporting that the large font setting was enabled when it wasn’t. That issue has been addressed in this release.

Published by Kenneth on 18 Jul 2009

New beta released – Puzzle Pirates Trade Profiteer

New version: 1.0.1218

A new release of the Trade Profiteer has been stamped and made available on the Colony West Software company download repository.

Changes:

  • New option to automatically check for a new version once per day. If a new version is discovered, it will show a message box.
  • Messages now displayed if options in Puzzle Pirates are enabled that may interfere with the ability to scan in data. Those options include:
    • Large fonts
    • Anti-aliased fonts

Download and give this new version a try. Be sure to report any issues you find.

Published by Kenneth on 14 Jul 2009

About 10 days out and all seems well, so far…

The beta release of the Trade Profiteer has been available for about 10 days now and there hasn’t been much feedback from users. Of course at the time of this writing, it’s been downloaded less than 20 times, and who knows how many of them are active users.

I am planning to stamp another beta release here soon that will address an issue that has been reported, and that is in regard to the Puzzle Pirates settings. Previously these were not detected because I didn’t know where to find them. A little detective work and I now know how to detect the current Y!PP settings, such as for the anti-aliased font and large font settings.

Along with this I’m considering taking the “Check for updates” menu item and turn it into an automatic check feature. Shouldn’t be too difficult to implement, I don’t think. It just shouldn’t interfere with the rest of the application.

Along with this, I’ve been working to re-engineer the OCR component – the part of the program that “reads” the Puzzle Pirates screen and gathers useful information. Now why re-engineer something that already works? Well the trouble is that it only works under certain conditions, and I’m working to correct that. And the key is that I’m trying to avoid using many of the tricks and gimmicks the Bleach developers opted to include – a program should not muck with system settings unless that is the intended purpose of the application (i.e. system configuration tools, not game helper applications).

So you can expect another build of the Trade Profiteer to be released within the next couple days. As for the full final first release version, I’m still holding to the “start of August” target I mentioned before. We’ll see how it goes. I’m likely not going to include the new OCR code in the first full release – it’ll need a lot of testing and a lot of exposure. While I’ll be giving it quite a bit, I’ll need other eyes to have a look at it to weed out anomalies and defects.

Otherwise, stay tuned to stay abreast of the updates.

Published by Kenneth on 07 Jul 2009

Good press for the Trade Profiteer

Well the Trade Profiteer has gotten its first bit of good press. Puzzle Pirates forum user JimTheFly has downloaded and tried out the application and so far appears to like it. He’s offered some suggestions for future enhancements as well, one of which is planned.

We hope there will be more good press to come as well.

So what is coming up? Well right now I’m working on re-engineering the OCR components. The reason is that allowing the OCR to support Java 6 without jumping through hoops is the top priority right now. I’m also working to add support for large fonts. I’m hoping how I’ve decided to engineer the new code will allow for both without much difficulty. This’ll take some time to implement and likely won’t be in the first full release of the Trade Profiteer. We’ll see…

I’ve also managed to get a bug tracker up as well, running Bugzilla, one of the better systems out there. I wouldn’t say it’s the best because it is a pain to install on a shared server. It’s also a little intimidating to use, so for the time being I’m going to limit full access to just myself. Any bugs that are reported and enhancements requested will be posted the bug tracker.

Well that’s it for now. I’ll do my best to keep things updated here. If you try the Trade Profiteer and run into issues or have suggestions, use the contact form to report it and I’ll respond as quickly as possible.

Fair winds, everyone.

Published by Kenneth on 06 Jul 2009

Comparing the Trade Profiteer with Bleach!

If you’ve come across the Trade Profiteer, chances are you’ve heard of or used the Pirate Commodity Trader with Bleach! application. So how exactly does the Trade Profiteer compare with Bleach? Well in many ways they are both similar: both are intended to import commodity data and display a comparison between two islands, but that is, well fortunately for me, where the similarities end.

Because the Trade Profiteer is a standalone application, there is plenty more that can be offered that the Bleach application cannot. Many of the benefits of this application are listed on the page for this project.

Self-contained, standalone application

The first main benefit of the Trade Profiteer is the fact that it is an entirely self-contained, standalone desktop application. This means that there is only one thing to worry about. It also means that when the data comes to your computer, it stays there. Like the Bleach application, the data is read out of the Puzzle Pirates window and saved into a database. With Bleach, however, the data must first be sent to a remote server over which you have no control before you can receive any information – assuming the server or your Internet connection doesn’t crap out along the way.

But there’s more: on the server are multiple, and I do mean, multiple points of failure. This standalone application creates only one point of failure: if the application decides to crap out, you kill the application, restart it, and go. If the server craps out, you’re out of luck. Just check Bleach’s forum thread to see how often complaints have been posted about the server being down or inaccessible for some reason, sometimes for days on end.

So what are the multiple points of failure? There are three main points of failure, among other: the service software that actually delivers the data to your browser, the separate database service that keeps track of the data, and the scripts (both on the server and those fed to your browser) that drive the whole thing. Plus there’s the separate uploader application that must collect the data and upload it to the server. Multiple, multiple points of failure.

If you’re an experienced merchant on your ocean, you know that the fewer ways something can go wrong, the better. And if it does go wrong, the fewer steps and less time needed to get things relatively back to normal, the better. For that reason alone you shouldn’t trust the Bleach service.

Everything stays local

You will likely note that I’ve mentioned the separate uploader application a few times… and I just did again. It’s an important point to emphasize, and when I set out to create the Trade Profiteer, it was something I set out to eliminate.

Everything stays local with the Trade Profiteer. The commodity market data stores off quick; there is no wait while it uploads because it doesn’t go anywhere. Plus because everything stays local, you don’t have to worry about conflicting data from other sources screwing you up. The data is also stored off automatically – you don’t have to do anything to make it happen.

On the off-chance, however, that building names change or a new island is colonized, you might have to tell the application what island you’re on, but that should be relatively rare. However with younger oceans like the Crimson Ocean, this could be somewhat common as islands are opened up and flags compete for the islands that are open.

But it’s still simple: the Trade Profiteer will ask you which island you’re on and prompt you to specify what building name it should use to recognize that island in the future.

Store off frequently-traveled routes

This is something that the Bleach tool cannot provide without implementing user-logins, and I doubt they’d want to complicate an already horrendously-complicated mess even further.

This is one feature I feel you’ll like the best, and this is the first tool to provide this feature: you can store off routes you frequently travel. And making use of your stored routes is easy.

Multiple island pick-up and delivery

How could I not include this feature? You want a way to maximize profits, that’s the way to go. It does carry with it greater risk, though, so be forewarned. But you can select multiple start and destination islands.

And this is a feature also introduced first with the Trade Profiteer.

Doesn’t interfere with your work

I tried dropping several hints to get the Bleach developers to realize that there is a better way to do the window auto-scrolling. I’m sure after they’ve had a go at this application, they’ll find a way to reverse-engineer how I’m doing it and finally see the light.

Sorry to the Bleach developers, but you didn’t do your research properly if you never found out how to scroll the window without interfering with the user. It didn’t take me long to find it.

With the Trade Profiteer, you can still talk and do other things within the Puzzle Pirates window while the window is auto-scrolling. Something get in the way? No problem. It’ll pause the scrolling so you can take care of the interference and continue.

What is the Trade Profiteer missing?

Of the features provided by the Bleach application, there is only one that I have determined is not available (yet) in the Trade Profiteer, that being the ability to take the list of items and quantities to purchase and figure out what can fit into a particular ship. While this feature is certainly useful, it was put on the back burner for now, but there are plans to implement something similar. I have a couple other things I’d like to implement first.

Fini

So there you have it, a few ways in which the Trade Profiteer excels beyond the Bleach application. If you’ve made use of the Trade Profiteer, I’m sure you’ve found more.

As usual, any questions or concerns can be e-mailed to me through the contact form on the web site.

Published by Kenneth on 05 Jul 2009

Trade Profiteer reaches open beta

It is with great pleasure that Colony West Software Company announces the release of the Puzzle Pirates Trade Profiteer into open beta. The software has been through much development and a lot of testing through the many months since the project first started. The time has come to give others the opportunity to use the tool and report back on any bugs they find.

Now one thing you’ll notice right away is that this tool is much different from anything else out there, and is certainly different from the Bleach tool, and that is intentional.

Many of the tricks that the developers of the Bleach site tried to use are avoided in this application. For example when scrolling the commodity data list, you are free to move the mouse around. This allows you to respond to chat channels, and you won’t be interfering with the data read either.

Further this application is entirely standalone. There isn’t any server to which this application talks except when you select the “Check for updates” option on the help menu, in which case it’s talking to my web server to retrieve a version number. Nothing more.

So what happens next?

The application will be in open beta for, hopefully, only one month, but that can vary depending on how many bugs and enhancement suggestions are reported. If there is a high amount of feedback or bug reports, the open beta may be extended. If there aren’t many bugs or issues reported, then the open beta period may be shortened and a full release provided sooner.

Right now the aim is to release a full version sometime in early August 2009. I also aim to have some semblance of a manual put together by that time, too. Right now I don’t have a bug tracking site up and running, but I’m experimenting with a few systems and will set one up when I’ve settled on one.

Fair winds, everyone.

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