I’ve been doing a bit of tinkering with Inkscape again. Finally finished a variant of the Sanborn Fire Insurance plat map for the town of Delta, Colorado circa 1890. The pictured version has been converted from the vector format along with an added background image. The original SVG file can be downloaded as well.
Delta was originally a trading post for Ute Indians and the new settlers from the east. Delta is situated where the Uncompahgre and Gunnison Rivers come together on the Western Slope of Colorado. The town grew up near Fort Uncompahgre, which was founded in 1828 well before the city itself.
I discussed the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps in a prior post. Many cities and towns throughout the United States are available.
Map Usage: Map is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA license.
Small typo caused an issue with proper author’s being credited on the RPGExplorer website. The result was the default author, me, was added rather than the proper authors. I has been fixed for all posts going forward.
Sadly, it has been happening since I transitioned the site generation to a different machine so it affected numerous posts. I believe it was a minor oversight on my part. Still, I don’t want to take credit for anything produced by others. So my humble apology for the wrong output. All posts and links will eventually update to the proper author attribution.
Once more unto the breach… uh, no, once more onto bug fixes. The prior changes caused a failure in some posts failing to be tweeted. Due to the eradication of HTML tags, occasionally a null value was returned into the tag list which I failed to take into account.
Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter is quite a mouthful.
The Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter is Ernest Gary Gygax, Jr.’s project to bring his Hobby Shop Dungeon campaign setting into print/publication. The origins of the setting began in 1978 when Ernie was working in the Lake Geneva Dungeon Hobby Shop as a clerk. The project is a product of GP Adventures, a partnership between E.G.G. Jr. and Benoist Poiré.
The initial funding goal of $20,000 was hit in under two days. Three additional stretch goals have been hit since then including an expanded crypt map, cover art by Jeff Easley and a science fiction customization pack featuring James Spawn (of White Star fame). The next stretch goal, if hit, will feature rules conversion for both Dungeons and Dragons 5E and Pathfinder.
I finally made time to do a few updates to the RPGExplorer process yesterday. The work resulted in two key improvements: 1) reduction of HTML fragments and HTML keywords as tags; 2) applying some additional intelligence to the Twitter output stream; and 3) Updates to the output on the RPGExplorer site.
The HTML handling was primarily grunt work consisting of cleaning up of the text extraction method and resulting keyword. The text extraction engine often receives malformed HTML fragments that cause keywords from the standard to be flagged as important tags. I improved the text extraction process and improved areas where that failed. Additionally, I added analysis of the resulting tags to remove any HTML keywords. Not sexy but badly need.
Once the tag information was cleaner, I added some pseudo-intelligence hashtag output when writing Tweets. The code simply evaluates for the presence of a subset of the overall tags and applies appropriate hashtags if space is available in the tweet. To simplify the output, I also used the TinyUrl shortener service, which is very meta since Twitter automatically shortens Urls as well but doesn’t make the information available prior to posting the tweet. The shorter URL length makes the resulting tweet far easier to read.
Finally, I removed author index pages from the RPGExplorer site. The author information was not uniquely identifying authors with the same name so the output intermixed them. As such, it wasn’t useful information. Also, it reduces the size of the overall site keeping it from out-growing the limited disk space allocation on the hosting site.
I still have a significant TODO list for the overall process including building a useful tag taxonomy and building an application to apply periodic online training to the tagging process to coalesce tags into a smaller, more useful set. Those improvement will wait until another day as I want to do some creative stuff for an Old West campaign setting.
I have been tinkering with natural language processing for over six months on and off. My target was always the table top role playing community. The NLP stuff has not delivered the initial dividends I was hoping for. Half the effort was accumulating and polling feeds. That alone has issues. Trying to extract useful information is far harder.
As a byproduct of that work, I rolled out RPGExplorer. It currently contains a rolling 2-3 week window of feed articles linking back to the origin site along with my attempts at categorization/classification/tagging. I’m still poking at the NLP side plus tweaking the theme of the RPGE output.
I’m still uncertain where the end product lies. The current state was initially just a visualization tool for me to determine how well the NLP was doing. I’m going to tweak that side more thoroughly as time allows in between other projects I have in the pipeline.
Thus far, I don’t believe the NLP is up to the end goal of automated classification but the results are still useful for my purposes and perhaps other. The site also tweets every article it processes at @RPGExplorer. I was going to integrate a G+ page for the same purposes but that API is largely restricted and nearly impossible to use as a hobbyist. Facebook might be more accessible but I have little interest in opening that particular box of worms quite yet.
Accurate maps of towns and cities and the old west are somewhat difficult to find. Many of the historical archives contain bird’s eye maps of significant sites. However, fewer sites contain actual maps of the towns. As I was searching around, I came across several plat maps from the Sanborn Company. Apparently, Sanborn was a mapping company that started shortly after the end of the Civil War. The primary product were fire risk maps.
Sanborn operated from 1867-2007 with maps from over 12,000 locations. My particular interest is the era from 1860 – 1890 but others may be interested in the maps from more modern eras. Many of the older maps have passed into the public domain and archived by several national and state organizations. Check the external links section on the Sanborn Maps Wikipedia article for a good list of organizations.
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