Student seminars: Not bad, but not worth canceling problem session.

I’ve been attempting to make an online Set Mao game. (Set Mao is my favorite card game, and there are several people I want to keep in touch with by it.)

In theory, it should be easy: just start a blog or forum and add custom smileys to turn, say, :3red: into a picture of three red empty diamonds. Unfortunately, that requires getting to “Hello World” in two systems (the blog or forum, and the custom smileys) at once, and even getting to “Hello World” in one system is hard.

In fact, I have this blog from one such attempt: there’s a custom smileys package for WordPress, so I got a WordPress blog and followed the setup instructions, and, of course, it didn’t work. Problem one is that the custom smileys package only works for, not, but since I have this blog now, I may as well write.

This, generalized, seems to be why I fail at getting to “Hello World” regularly: installation/startup routines are designed as a whole bunch of steps to follow in order without understanding them; you might go back and figure out what you did later. When, inevitably, one of the sequential steps doesn’t work (like using for WordPress when only work), I’m left not knowing anything and unable to start. Accordingly, I’m tempted to write everything myself, using languages I already know, since I know I could eventually write the whole thing then—but it seems ridiculous to have to reinvent that much.

I bring this up today because one way around the problem is to try several things in parallel such that for any one of them to work is enough—the dual of the series of unintelligible installation steps. Accordingly, I got code for the old Set Mao system emailed to me today, tried it out… and it didn’t work.


This is important enough to me that I’ll do it eventually, but for now it has to go far down my to-do list; I’ll try it again fresh sometime.