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Topics - Alan W

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Word Games / New Chihuahua features
« on: February 23, 2007, 01:00:49 PM »
For those who missed it, the new game options are described on the News page. If you can't see the new options on the puzzle page, try the browser Refresh/Reload button.

Word Games / Which Dictionary?
« on: February 16, 2007, 05:43:19 PM »
In Chihuahua you can click on a word to look it up at a dictionary Web site. We originally used OneLook, then changed to the Free Dictionary site. Not everyone was happy with the change, but there was no consensus about which dictionary we should use.

The full word list used in the game doesn't come with definitions, and a lot of its words are hard to find in any dictionary, so whatever site we link to, it will fall well short of showing a meaning for every Chihuahua word.

So, two questions: is there value in having a link to a dictionary site, and if so, which site do people prefer?

As well as the two mentioned above, some others are:

What are your thoughts?

Word Games / Words in Italics in Chihuahua
« on: February 16, 2007, 10:40:47 AM »
An anonymous player just sent this message via the Contact page:
Why are some words that I have selected printed in italics?
With no name or email address supplied, I'm not sure how they expected to get a reply, but in fact it's a question that's been asked a few times before, so I've put the following explanation on the Q & A page:
The words in italics are those that are classed in the word list as relatively obscure. Actually, about two thirds of the words recognised in Chihuahua are in this category - which explains why a few people can get such very high scores.

The target levels of Good, Better and Best are based on the number of words that can be made from the "standard" list - i.e. not including the more obscure words. And when you look at the solution to a puzzle, the words in red, that you didn't get, are only those from the standard list, unless you click on the "All words" box, which causes the rarer words to be shown as well, in italics.

Whatever / Are Games Addictive?
« on: February 15, 2007, 11:33:44 AM »
Quite a lot of the favourable comments about games on this site have used the word "addictive". Even in the handful of messages so far sent to this forum, the word crops up a few times, and bobbi referred to people being "seriously hooked" on Chihuahua. Of course I love to read such praise, and a lot of game companies use the word "addictive" in their advertising.

But some people have claimed that computer games can become addictive in a literal sense - that they exploit brain chemistry to create compulsive behaviour, just like drugs or gambling can. What do you think?

A lot of the research on "video game addiction" seems to focus on complex role playing games, rather than puzzle-style games, but I suppose a puzzle game could become a compulsion too, if you feel compelled to play game after game, hoping to achieve a higher score.

Whatever / Why do these websites keep disappearing?
« on: February 08, 2007, 05:18:13 PM »
Over the past few months, Chihuahua, Letterbox and our other websites have disappeared from the Internet on three occasions, for periods ranging from a day or two to a week. Judging from the comments received, this has been especially distressing to regular Chihuahua players, who have become accustomed to their daily (or more frequent) dose. And of course it's quite distressing to me, because I don't like to disappoint people.

I'm quietly confident that the sites will be more stable from now on. We are using a new Web hosting service, with a good reputation for performance and reliability. And we've re-designed the Chihuahua back-end processing to guard against the type of problem we've been experiencing.

So let's hope we're in for some smooth sailing from now on. The rest of this post will go into some of the details of our problems, in case anyone is interested.

* * *

The first and longest interruption was caused by sheer negligence on the part of our then hosting service. We got going again using a different hosting service, but after only a couple of weeks, they suspended our account, claiming the Chihuahua software was overloading the server. The suspension was lifted with a warning, and I made some changes to the Chihuahua script to reduce its impact on the system. Then last week the hosting service shut us down again, this time for good. (We're now running with yet another hosting service: the third one - are you following this?)

When a friend heard about these problems he said, "That's great! You can say Chihuahua's so popular it crashed the server." Being more of an IT person than a marketing person, I would have to regard crashing the server as a failure, not an achievement. But I don't really believe Chihuahua was the ultimate cause of problems  on the server, on either occasion. However, given a drastic slowdown caused by some other factor, Chihuahua can look like the culprit because requests to the server come in very frequently (every time someone plays a word). Each request is normally handled in a fraction of a second, but if the computer has slowed almost to a stop, they can start to bank up, and it might look like the system is being strangled by a multitude of Chihuahua processes. And it's probably not a total coincidence that the latest incident occurred at the peak time of the Chihuahua day - just after the new daily puzzles appeared, when Big Ben has just finished chiming 12 midnight.

At any rate, regardless of the rights and wrongs of the argument I had with the previous hosting service (rather a one-sided agrgument, as I argued while they just ignored me), the site was vulnerable to such accusations, so I've implemented a new scheme of buffering and single-streaming back-end transactions which should prevent any repeat of these problems.

From the player's point of view, the only difference will be that the scores of other players won't be updated quite as often. But any time you want to be absolutely sure of seeing an up-to-date scoreboard, you can click the refresh button at the top of the scoreboard.

The software changes seem to be working smoothly, but please let me know if you notice anything not working properly. And thanks for your continued support.

Whatever / Now you can add to an old Chihuahua puzzle (again)
« on: February 07, 2007, 04:49:36 PM »
Chihuahua once again permits you to play words on a previous day's puzzle. Any words played on an old daily puzzle will not be saved or added to the scoreboard.

This option had been removed a while ago, and was the subject of a bit of discussion. A couple of players wanted things to go back to the way they had been, while another player said closing the puzzle at the end of the day adds to the challenge.

Permitting play on an old puzzle seems the fairest solution, since it has no effect on the scoreboard and so is completely invisible to other players.

Play will still be prevented once you have looked at the solution to the puzzle.

To make sure the change is in effect, you may need to press the browser's Refresh button.

Words / New Words Added
« on: February 06, 2007, 04:23:05 PM »
PLEASE NOTE: This list is no longer being updated. The consolidated list of new words is now on the Word List Updates page.


This is a consolidated list of words recently added to the Chihuahua word list. The latest additions are shown first. All suggestions will be carefully considered, but please bear in mind the rules.

Words added 3 April 2007:

cyser (type of mead, made from honey and apples, suggested by a non-amos)
ladette (a young woman who behaves in a "laddish" way, suggested by Linda)
seitan (a foodstuff made from wheat gluten, suggested by Mancklin)
rerod (a steel rod used to reinforce concrete, suggested by anonsi)
monty (something complete, usually in the phrase "the full monty", suggested by biggerbirdbrain; also Aus & NZ word meaning a certainty)
monties (Aus & NZ: certainties)

Words added 22 March 2007:

realine (alternate spelling of "realign", suggested by biggerbirdbrain)
cron (computer utility to run scheduled tasks, suggested by Dean)
etrog (a citron used during the Jewish Sukkoth festival, suggested by Mancklin)
etrogim (alternative to "etrogs" as plural of "etrog")
estrog (alternative form of "etrog")
ethrog (alternative form of "etrog")
lulav (a palm branch for use with the etrog during the Sukkoth festival)
lulab (alternative form of "lulav")
lish (dialect - Cumbrian and from other parts of northern England - for agile, active, provided by Linda)
rugrat (child)
goest (old inflection of "go")
novate (replace with something new, especially an old legal obligation by a new one)
onya (Australian word for "well done!", also "good onya")
cray (Australian word for crayfish)
duco (Australian word for paint on a car)
sool (Australian word for egg on, or set a dog onto someone)
vego (Australian word for vegetarian)
daks (Australian word for trousers or pants)
dacks (alternate spelling of "daks")
tracky (Australian word for tracksuit, often in phrase "tracky dacks")
trackies (Australian word for tracksuit - "I was still in my trackies")

Word added 16 March 2007:

penpal (suggested by Dean)

Words added 15 March 2007:

cort (common name for various fungus varieties, suggested by Mancklin)
pued (From pue: to make a low whistling sound; to chirp, as birds. suggested by mymermaid)

Word added 7 March 2007:

intel (colloquial for intelligence, in the sense of information, suggested by a non-amos)

Words added 28 February 2007:

dewet (term from fluid mechanics, suggested by a non-amos)
dewetting (although you may never get the chance to use this one!)

Word added 26 February 2007:

afters (dessert, suggested by Viz)

Words added 8 February 2007:

respin (spin again, suggested by chas)

Words added 30 January 2007:

does (form of verb do, suggested by a non-amos)
knowest (archaic form of know, suggested by Viz)
udon (Japanese noodle)

Whatever / Contact form fixed
« on: February 05, 2007, 12:11:42 PM »
If you tried sending us a message recently via the contact form on any of the sites, you may have been presented with a message saying you didn't have permission. The problem causing this has now been fixed.

I only became aware of this problem when I noticed I wasn't receiving anywhere near the usual amounts of spam.

Whatever / Welcome to the Lexigame Forum (again)
« on: February 04, 2007, 07:57:08 PM »
Unfortunately the forum had a bit of a meltdown. I'll talk about the gruesome details in another topic, because the problems affected all the lexigame sites.

Because the forum had been going for only a short time, I had not gotten around to organising any backup routine, so at present it looks like all the forum contributions have been lost. A big mea culpa for that. I will try to recover those previous records, but I don't hold out a lot of hope.

The forum membership records have also been lost, so if you want to have your say, you'll have to join up again.

Because the restoration of normal services involved a change of server, different users were back to normal at different times (due to something called domain name propagation). When I re-installed the forum software, I found that I couldn't actually log in from my computer to post any messages. But others obviously could, so a few people have already registered, and Bigger Bird Brain has posted a message. Congrats to BBB for being the very first contributor!

Apologies for any disappointment caused by our outage. And please don't be discouraged from having your say in these forums.

I've taken the opportunity to re-think the structure of the forum, and I've decided to start off with a single board for all topics. If the volume of discussion ever becomes so great as to make this unwieldy, the Board can be split up at that time.

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