Diseases

May 15, 2014
Mark
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Sometimes you grab the wrong data set. Well, I do when exploring odd things available from government agencies. I thought I had a full set of diagnostic codes for injuries and diseases. Turns out, it’s a subset of the ICD focused on diseases only. I quit parsing the data. It would make a nice random table of some sorts but isn’t quite what I need.

Disease Listing by Category

Here’s what I managed. The full data is available from the U.S. CDC.


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Aggregation Is Not Enough

Apr 29, 2014
Mark
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I love reading RPG blog posts on occasion if they fit within my pondering about RPG topics at that particular moment. Those thoughts shift quickly; I have an ephemeral attention span. An aggregation site is awesome if I a) want to peruse something topical now or b) just want to leaf through general topics.

It fails when I want to drill down into a topic and see what has been said not just currently but over a period of time and also because people are apt to under/over tag or categorize their own posts. Both aspects are prevalent. I’ve seen “I fail to blog” posts with a dozen tags or categorizes presented Just as many explore the intricacies of a mega dungeon with no tags or only one sufficient to be picked up the the aggregation site.

To be truly useful, the consolidator needs to keep and retain history along with independently selecting keywords and concepts based on the full post (or other content). Then the information needs to be exposed so topical browsing is available but also searchable. How awesome would it be if you could start topical browsing about goblins and subsequently find alternate goblin settlements pertaining to brewing? That’s just one strange example I suspect the gaming community would love.

Accomplishing this requires natural language processing. The field has come quite a long way in the last few years. Tool kits are available to roll your own solution as well as specialized engines to extract concepts and keywords. In a niche area such as RPG’s, both are going to problematic if applied generically and both can be powerful tools if applied with some level of human intelligence.

I’ve explored one of the specialized engines and its far better than self categorization but fails in some edge cases. I’ve also discussed the idea with a few other individuals; most but not all think the service would be useful. One has progressed further down the path than I have explored thus far.

In the end, I’m not convinced enough people use aggregation sites sufficiently beyond extra promotion for such an undertaking to be useful. Likewise, it requires something beyond the common “shared hosting” site to be done. Periodic processes; a significantly sized database; etc. Most consumers of information, in my experience, are driven not from other sites but from search engines.

Thoughts?


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Google Trends — ~4 Years Later

Jan 29, 2014
Mark
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Back in August of 2010, I posted about a variety of gaming terms based on Google Trend data. While its not quite 4 years later (closer to 3.5), let’s see what those terms are doing today.

These are the same terms, with the addition of some new terms (noted below), which I suspected would interesting. Nothing has really changed over the course of a few years. Pretty much anything gaming related is sloping down. Of course, this is trend data based on search terms and there are many, many alternate ways people find materials today; even more than there were four years ago with the explosion of social media.

I also added a few terms based on systems that I hear about on a regular basis — Labyrinth Lord, Pathfinder, and Dungeon Crawl Classics. Virtual Table Top was a new entry as well, since it has been popular the last couple of years. (I tried LOTFP but no trend data was available). There are many others but I chose that small set. Pathfinder and Labyrinth Lord bucked the down and to the right trend. PF is gaining audience based on search popularity and LL is holding near flat. DCC appears to have the same general trend as gaming in general. VTT has a curious cliff at the end of the chart. People appear to be searching for a specific client rather the generic term — namely Roll20. The Roll20 trend line is awesomely upwards.

New Entries

Labyrinth Lord

Labyrinth Lord

Pathfinder

Pathfinder

Dungeon Crawl Classics

Dungeon Crawl Classics

Virtual Table Top

Virtual Table Top

Roll 20

Roll 20

The Original Terms

Overall, the original terms are pretty much what one would expect. Almost everything gaming is down and to the right. Porn is holding strong but seems to have hit a wall of late. Farmville had its moment in the spotlight but lost its luster quickly. It will be interesting to track the downfall along with the “D&D” and “Dungeons and Dragons” terms. I suspect it will crater at some point in the future; a fate I do not foresee with the D&D brand. Cat videos are still amazingly popular. I have no idea why.

Video Games

Video Games

Trivial Pursui

Trivial Pursuit

Roleplaying Online

Roleplaying Online

RPG

RPG

Roleplaying Games

Roleplaying Games

Porn

Porn

LARP

LARP

Farmville

Farmville

Hasbro Monopoly

Hasbro Monopoly

Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons

Donkey Videos

Donkey Videos

D&D

D&D

Cat Videos

Cat Videos

Board Games

Board Games

3D Online Games

3D Online Games

3DOnlineGame

Last Thoughts

I am a bit sad that the donkey videos are flat-lining. Cats are more popular than ever but donkeys just don’t get enough love. Perhaps they are too closely associated with jack asses for the modern politically correct aesthetic.


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Ship and Boat Name Generator

Jan 28, 2014
Mark
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Well, I was. Decided it was time to whip up a new generator. I’ve been meaning to do one for boats and ships. The original intention was to do something chaotic. Instead, I ended up with around 85000 unique ship names from the mostly modern age. The names range from small boats, yachts, and ships. Some names are older, most are quite modern. The generator is available here.

Someday in the future I might do what I originally intended. Until then, time to slack once again.


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Namespace: Wild West Names — Copper Best Seller

Nov 26, 2013
Mark
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Wow! The Namespace: Wild West Names volume is now a Copper best seller on DriveThru. Woot! Honestly, I never expected to hit any level of sales metrics on the Namespace volumes. The western names is far more comprehensive than most western name supplements. Still, its a Pay-What-You-Want product. I believe that is a testament to contents.

Thanks to everyone who has purchased the product beyond a mere download. Your purchases are much appreciated. For those of you have purchased, I’d love a few more reviews if you have the time.


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KickFail: Welcome to Mortison, U.S.A.

Sep 21, 2013
Mark
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RPG Kickstarter projects are such a mixed bag. Generally, those with products at or nearly complete deliver a few months late. Frankly, even the best organized projects are delayed by weeks or a few months. Rarely one actually shows up on time. Welcome to Mortiston, USA: An All American Zombie Apocalypse by Scrying Eye Games is not one of the rare or uncommon ones. The delivery is now 15 months beyond the original delivery date of June 2012. To be fair, I did get the PDF of the supplement around the due date even though I already HAD a copy of the PDF.

What I haven’t seen is the softcover, the hardcover, or the miscellaneous perk items (Extended Electronic Package supplements, minis, postcards, or additional map sets). I received absolutely nothing beyond what I could have gotten without backing the kickstarter project. Backing this particular Kickstarter project was foolish. In hindsight, the amount raised was never going to cover the costs of the promised materials.

Where it all went wrong based on sporadic updates… (in no particular order)

  • From the start
  • Printer problems
  • More printer problems… but oh yeah order a softcopy off our website
  • Cover problems with the printer
  • Woops, burned all that cash going to conventions
  • Oh shit, its over budget.
  • Hang on, we are working on another solution (meanwhile we’ll issue a different product release on our website)
  • Personal Illness
  • Holy shit, businesses have to PAY TAXES?!??

I grew tired of re-reading the various updates. When you are digging a year into your email archives to figure out what’s happening, you know the project is going nowhere fast. Taking an overall look, it is pretty obvious that the common mistakes were made by a small publisher — a) underestimate costs, b) over promise on non-core rewards, c) fail to manage the core deliveries and likely d) burn through raised funding on other affairs not related to the project.

I do not expect to see anything beyond the original PDF. At a tad less than $3500 worth of funding, getting a softcover out the door was speculative. A hard cover a bit beyond speculative. The stretch goals were absurdly beyond reach for the funding. I back projects for the core gaming material not the extra oddities.

Three bad conventions trashed our budget, both for the business and personally. In three weeks we’ll be doing the taxes for the year. We’re using our own money to get the printing done and shipped out.

It might be time to punt. Use your own money to refund what you cannot deliver. In fact, it is probably cheaper to issue a refund than it is to continue down the path of futility.

We aren’t planning on doing any more Kickstarter’s. I’ll admit it makes me feel better to know larger companies like Steve Jackson Games and Reaper can have such major problems, too. The Kickstarter process just takes away too much time from everything else we should be doing.

Uhm, say what? It’s hard to issue an update every few weeks about some delay or another? What exactly is your billable time worth? If it is so valuable, I’d suggest going back to that, earning some cash, and refunding the funding population across the board. As for not doing anymore kickstarter projects, I commend you for not double dipping into the well. No matter if it was incompetence, ignorance or extremely bad luck, you have proven you cannot deliver on a project. I’d gladly blackball any new project you launch.

As promised, everyone will get everything. When we hit that “SUBMIT” button, we agreed to do that, and we will. Very late, but we’re still going to get everything out. Since we got burned for the first batch of Kickstarter edition books, the costs have gone up and so has the shipping. International shipping has almost doubled for some areas. The costs of the special edition books and shipping now totals to just over 300% of the initial budget.

Shipping ALWAYS goes up. I doubt it went up 300% in a year. You planned poorly. As for getting burned by a printer, it happens. Most businesses vet partners before engaging in business with them. There are multitudes of honorable printers in the world. You chose poorly.

You should just acknowledge failure on the project and return the money. Money you likely already spent but if, as you stated, you can spend out of pocket, it will be far cheaper than trying to deliver a product. Most businesses make poor choices on one occasion or another. Businesses that stay in business do not continue to throw good money after bad. Especially when they have spent other peoples money.

Either way, Scrying Eye Games is dead to me.


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Another Dozen Countries for the City Name Generator

Sep 18, 2013
Mark
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I rolled out a new edition of the City Name Generator with a dozen new countries included in the database. The new countries are: Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, the West Bank, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. A fair number of the new entries are not in English. Instead, I continue to increase the number of city names spelled in the native tongue.

The most common request for the City Name Generator is for Country X. If I am missing a country you’d like to see included, send me a comment and I’ll see what I can do. If the data I have available doesn’t include at least a thousand locations, I’m not likely to include it. Find me an awesome data source for that country and I’ll do my best to make it happen.

The majority of my data sets are from a public United States entity. Those data sources are biased toward Americanized names for many locales. Which leads to the second complaint — these names are not part of my country. Often the names are small villages and towns. I think the smaller names are the most interesting given than most people can easily look at a large scale map and find the bigger cities. These complaints are often accurate — the americanized name variant is unlikely to match native names and are apt to cross across the bounds of modern countries into other neighboring countries. Ignore what doesn’t fit or let me know why it is in error.

The city and town name generator is one of the best available today for actual town and village names around the world. I strive to make it the best.


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