Archive for the 'Colony West' Category

Published by Kenneth on 12 Jan 2010

Follow up: Movable Type and 1&1 Internet

After a couple more e-mails and some more finagling on the back-end server, I have Movable Type installed and running. Now comes the difficult part of actually administering it.

One thing that is definitely evident with playing with it thus far is that Movable Type is intended to run a web site. It’s a lot more than just a blogging platform, and in case the thought has crossed your mind, I may consider switching to using it to run the Colony West web site, assuming I can find plugins for everything else I will be needing, along with getting it stable…

Actually, if anything, I’ll be more likely to switch my personal web site over to Movable Type before I change the Colony West web site over. At least with my personal site, I won’t have a lot to move – just some existing blog posts to migrate for now. Right now it’s powered by Wordpress, the same engine powering this blog.

Now I will say that there are still some quirks – I’m not entirely free of HTTP 500 errors, but they’re happening quick enough that I know script timing is not the issue, so I’ve still got some troubleshooting to do.

Published by Kenneth on 11 Jan 2010

Movable Type and 1&1 Internet

Yesterday I tried to install Movable Type to my web server, and it failed miserably. In trying to get MT installed, I kept running into HTTP 500 errors even trying to run the installation, so getting beyond that was likely not going to happen.

It was only after a few hours of searching that I discovered the reason: 1&1 Internet (the company that hosts the web site for Colony West Software Company) restricts execution times on scripts to 10 seconds. I’m not entirely sure how accurate this is, however, because uploading files to the web site for distribution goes through a script.

At first I didn’t consider this to be an issue as I was able to install other content systems successfully without issue: Joomla, Wordpress, Xoops, and Serendipity to name a few. But when I saw the issue listed on Movable Type’s wiki, it made perfect sense. I considered an alternative – installing it to a Linux server I have in my home and then transferring the installation to the remote server – but I decided this would only provide a temporary gain given what I was reading on MTs web site.

I would like to switch to using Movable Type as it is more featured and has a better installation base than Wordpress – for example, Movable Type is the system that powers The Huffington Post. But unfortunately with this script execution time limit in place, that can’t happen.

Well that is if there is such a limit in place for my hosting package.

I’ve sent an e-mail to 1&1, so we’ll see what they say. I’ll be sure to post their feedback.

Published by Kenneth on 10 Nov 2009

Trade Profiteer – New unstable release

New version 1.1.209

This version fixes a number of issues with the current development line:

TP-1 – Search results from between oceans appearing

TP-2 – Verify data import can support a “no data” import

Further, it has an improved installer for the Java Access Bridge which should allow for an easier installation on some systems.

Published by Kenneth on 23 Oct 2009

Trade Profiteer – New development release

New version: 1.1.123 (alpha)

There is a new version of the Trade Profiteer available, and it’s a development release. Before you install it, there are a couple things you need to know.

First, it will install separate from the main stable release, allowing you to have both the stable and development releases installed on your system.

Second, after it is installed, there will be a shortcut in the Start Menu group called “Install Java Access Bridge”. Run it after it’s installed, this will install the Java Access Bridge which is used as the new communication system for importing the data.

Otherwise, everything else is like it was. I will have a bug tracker up soon so you can report bugs. Until then, send me any bugs you need to report.

Published by Kenneth on 11 Sep 2009

Eight years later

September 11, 2001

I think most of us can say within reason that we can remember what we were doing that morning when the towers fell. The World Trade Towers, the tallest landmarks of the New York City skyline, bastions of the world financial and commercial architecture, gone. What took likely thousands of men years of blood, sweat, tears, and effort took only a small group of men, armed with two jumbo jet aircraft, less than a couple hours to bring to the ground.

I have not forgotten what I was doing that morning. I still recall seeing the second plane fly into the north tower, saying to my mother, “Mom, I just saw a plane fly into the building”, or something along those lines.

But they didn’t stop there. They escalated this to an act of war by attacking the Pentagon, the center of our military.

So many lives lost in such a short time.

I’m sure we all have stories similar to that, the horror on our faces and the terror in our eyes. Nothing could have prepared us for that fateful and frightful morning.

On behalf of Colony West Software Company, I wish to extend my sincerest condolences to the families and friends of those lost that tragic morning. Though they were lost, they will not be forgotten.

Published by Kenneth on 07 Sep 2009

Release management

Every software developer and engineer who has released software onto the Internet has gone through some kind of release management cycle, whether formalized or not. Previously at Colony West, our release management was entirely informal – actually more or less disorganized.

For the longest time, I didn’t use a source control system. About four years ago I started using Subversion, and it’s companion Windows program Tortoise, and I won’t part with it for anything else. I love using it, and after using it, I can no longer imagine not using it, and I couldn’t see how I was able to actually develop software without it.

Release management obviously involves the source control system, so what does the release cycle here at Colony West involve? I’ll use the release cycle for the Trade Profiteer as the example of what I do. Now how I release software may differ from what you require, and will likely vary between projects.

New Release Branch

The first step in the release cycle is to create a new release branch in the repository. This step may or may not be optional. That will depend on the project itself. During the Trade Profiteer’s beta release cycle, this step was considered optional, but became mandatory with the first release. Keeping a separate release branch allows you to target fixes for that particular version, while also making sure to keep any fixes updated in the main source trunk.

Release test builds

When the decision is made to create a new release, final test builds are made to ensure the current source state will build without errors. Once this is verified, scripts are executed to update version numbers within various files in the source tree with a test build executed to ensure everything still builds clean.

A test installer is also built at this time. The installer is tested on multiple operating systems running through virtual machines as both upgrade installations and clean installations. Any installation issues are corrected and changes made to correct issues checked into the repository.

If the installer runs clean on all supported operating systems, the changed files containing the new version numbers are checked into the repository.

Tagging the release

Anyone who has used a source control system should be familiar with tagging. Subversion makes revision tagging easy. For those not familiar with tagging, I highly recommend reading the section in the Subversion manual on branching and tagging.

After everything is checked in, the new revision is tagged within the repository with the release version number (major, minor, and build) as the tag name. This tag ensures that the source is readily accessible should I need it down the road to troubleshoot a reported issue.

Release build

After everything is tagged, the tag is checked out of the repository into a new folder for a release build. Final release builds are performed for the executable and installer and the installer may be packaged into a compressed file.

Preparing the web site

There are multiple steps here. Obviously the first step is uploading the packaged installer to the web site and making it available in the download repository. That part is easy. Once uploaded to the web site, it is available immediately.

Along with uploading the file to the repository, other files are shifted around. Previous releases are moved to their appropriate folders on the repository so they are not immediately visible, but still available if anyone is interested.

The Colony West web site contains a version management system that is used to track version numbers easily. The Trade Profiteer queries this system when it checks for a new version, so we add a new entry into this system to reflect the new version. When the Trade Profiteer queries the system, it will see the new version and will alert the user to the new release.

With everything uploaded to and entered into the web site, the release cycle is now formally complete. However there are still a couple informal details left.

Publishing details

Informally, now we need to alert other communities to the new version’s availability as well as providing details as to what has changed in the new version. This occurs through this blog, which will always be the primary source of news information for this company, but also through other venues. For example, with the Trade Profiteer, I will also post updates to the Puzzle Pirates forum.

Concluding…

Well that’s pretty much what goes on right now. Since the Trade Profiteer is a small, independent application, this way of managing our release cycle is reasonable. As the Trade Profiteer grows in complexity, or more software is released, the release process may need to be modified, but for now things are working well.

One thing that will certainly complicate the release process will be the upcoming addition of globalization. There are two international oceans on Puzzle Pirates. As those oceans were designed to be populated and navigated by native German and Spanish speakers, though an English interface option is available, it doesn’t seem fair having support for Opal and Jade, respectively, without having a native German and Spanish interface.

Including globalization will complicate the release process a little, but it will likely more complicate the testing… We shall see.

If you have any questions on the release process here at Colony West, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll be happy to clarify anything.

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 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 31 Jul 2009

Software safety

This afternoon a user on the Puzzle Pirates forum posted an interesting question:

Im [sic] sorry to ask this question, but how do we know this software is safe from account hackings and such?

It is certainly an interesting question, and while my response likely won’t quell concerns much, it did get me thinking about safety in regards to software. How do you know that every piece of software running on your computer is safe? Even if you examine the source code, is there a way to know for sure? In actuality, not really.

Now I know that there likely will be some open source advocates who will say that open source software is safer than closed-source software, statistics don’t really support that. Any application on your computer can be used as a conduit for compromising your computer’s security.

In my response to this concern, there wasn’t much I could say, but I finished with this statement:

The Trade Profiteer will not harvest any information about you and, to the best of my knowledge as the sole and principal developer of this application, cannot be used to compromise someone’s account.

About all I could provide are verbal assurances. And this was not the first time this concern was raised. Not long after the initial beta release and the announcement on the forum, forum user hugnam posted this:

Sounds pretty good for an application, but unless it’s proven to be safe, i’m not gonna use it.

Software safety is certainly an issue. Any data you enter into any application has the potential to be harvested and sent somewhere. An application may hook into the system to capture keystrokes. Unless you have an application to detect applications like these, you can’t know entirely.

To help quell fears a little, I responded to the most recent concern on the forum with this:

If you are concerned that my application might harvest data about you, your computer, or your installation of Y!PP, you can certainly configure your firewall software to block the Trade Profiteer from accessing the Internet. Unlike with the Pirate Commodity Trader with Bleach, you will not be interfering with the Trade Profiteer by doing that. If you configure your firewall to block the Trade Profiteer, the only functionality you will be blocking is its ability to check my web site for a new version, which is the only reason it will ever connect to the Internet.

Further, I added this, which may give a little more assurance:

I have also been playing Puzzle Pirates since late 2005, I’ve built up considerable wealth in the game, and I’m not about to risk all of that.

Creating an application that can be used to harvest account information is an offense that will get you banned from Puzzle Pirates and likely reported to applicable government agencies. It’s not something I’m going to risk.

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.

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