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Happy 2023!

I am making significant progress on the revamp of the Roster Build database. I have been cleaning up the database, and I have a couple thousand new line items, and thankfully I found a website I was able to scrape and acquire detailed data on old and new units alike.

Version 5 of Roster Builder will have some new features, notably a "scale" on how hot a Mech can get, using the assumption of running/jumping and then firing all weapons. I am also considering some cosmetic features and options, they are still early in their "groking" phase, so quite nebulous at this point.

If there is a feature you want to see, now is the time to send it to me.

Progress has been made!

Okay, I have managed to bring out the various groups of articles for this website to the front page and make them work. There's still work to be done, but you can at least get there from here.

Also, thanks to Catalyst splitting every BA into Squads of 4, 5 and 6, not to mention the new additions to the Master Unit List, I am having to recombine the entire main database for Roster Builder. I am making progress. I am looking at another 2,300 worth of line items that I have to do the research on. More than a few will not make the cut, as they are too specialized, but many more will cause me headaches.

I am also combining the data so each MUL line item has both the CBT and AS information I need. Once this is done, I have to go back through the entire pile of code for Roster Builder that I have to handle the database alterations.

And it will be AWESOME!

I have not stopped working to bring you what you need. Progress continues on all projects and in a positive direction. I hope to release the next versions of both See Mark Paint and Roster Builder by the end of 2023. That may seem to be a long time for you, however I will be working furiously all day every day to get there from here.

 

Looks like crap, I know.

Bad news: I've run out of time, so I had to go with what I've built so far and push it from sandbox to production.

More bad news: I'm still working 50-60 hour weeks, so content will still be minimal at best. 

Good news: It will get better. Now that I'm here (current CMS and PHP 8) I can take my time and get it all fixed properly and without a Sword of Damocles time-crunch looming over me.

Falling back to regroup

My apologies, again I am working 60 hour weeks, fighting with my Ender 3, and more.

I am, however slowly working on See Mark Paint and Roster Builder. All that being said, I have to give you a fair warning, I am having to take a pause on posting. I mean, like not working on the website or content at all. The primary reason is this website is facing a forced shutdown. I'm running on an old version of PHP that will stop working soon. When I try to upgrade the PHP, it breaks the website. Add to that the CMS software itself has undergone a major revision that I must also upgrade to, with some of the modules I use not upgraded or I have to buy a whole new package. The look may change as well, as I may have to go to a new template. Hopefully not though.

So, all of my time normally allocated for even thinking about Battletech is now forcefully allocated for doing these upgrades. Fair warning, you might come here one day and find a static webpage. Rest assured I am diligently working on making it through these trials and tribulations.

See you on the other side.

 

Big Roster Builder Update

One word: OUCH.

I am slowly moving forward with Roster Builder 5, including its port to Linux/MacOS. With this version I am seriously looking at restructuring the primary database that has all of the data that I scrape from time-to-time off of the Master Unit List web page. Up until now, I had about 6,000 line items that whittled down for various reasons to 4,600 records. Well, I just scraped the MUL and it's now at over 8,000 records.

Well, SHIT.

What this means is I have to now recomb over the database, update the old records, verify the MUL record number didn't change, then I can start working on the new records. Combined with combining the CBT and AS databases, AND coding the changes, with everything else going on in my life, I'm going to say "4th Quarter 2022" as an attainable goal as to when you can see RB5.

If you just can't wait, you can hire me for a contract job and I'll take a leave of absence from my day job. That would let me work non-stop 40 hours a week, for which I would charge $50/hour, which is about what I'm getting from the day job, factoring in overtime and all that. I should get it done in 1-2 months working on it full time.

Ender is now (mostly) working

I haven't posted in a while because I've been busy fighting my Ender 3. And documenting everything for See Mark Paint.

Here's my setup:

ender3

 

Here's my purchased and printed upgrades, with links:

The BLTouch is so I don't have to worry about bed leveling. The PEI spring steel plate was so I don't have to use tape or glue on the bed anymore. The upgraded bed springs was for... well, I was mucking around with the bed anyway, why not? Someone recommended them to me. The spiral wrap means I can group and hide all of the wires and tubes into a single group and not have to worry about layers of cable ties. The SD card reader makes inserting and removing the card easier, not only because it's a more comfortable size, but also easier access. I used to have to "scootch" the printer up to the table edge to get my fingers on the micro SD card. The extrusion mechanism upgrade was because the plastic extrusion mechanism broke.

The printable upgrades:

All this and more will be up in the 3d printing chapters in the next edition of See Mark Paint.

New stuff!

I thought up a new game aid and posted an article on what it is and how to make them a little earlier. Head on over to Aerospace Movement Markers to see how to make them.

AeroMove4 sm

I also wanted to say that the Mac version of Roster Builder is moving along, slowly. I am putting a couple new features and bug fixes in, which will also appear in the next version for the Windows side of things as well. I use the same code for both platforms with an "which version is this again?" IF statement when there's differences.

Once this is out of the way (and I get my Ender 3 working properly) I'll start working on the next version of See Mark Paint..

AAAAHHHH!!!!

I use a plugin to my CMS software for this website to give "nice" URLs. Except this steaming pile of rinocerous turds won't do what I tell it to do. Which is, namely, DON'T MAKE URLS I DIDN'T TELL YOU TO MAKE!!!!! This stupid POS is scrambling my URLs like a Rubik's Cube.

I think I got shit straightened out, and it goes sideways again.

 

Just make it stop. Please.

New year, more work

No, I'm not dead yet (for the 38th time)...

Yes, I know I should be updating you more often with exciting content. Yes, I know a lot of links are broken. I don't know why (yet). I'm working on upgrading the website software and fixing these issues as fast as I can. I ask that you keep hanging with me. I have two jobs, a family, a house, doing commission painting, working on a minor update for Roster Builder, working on the MacOS version of Roster Builder, getting my 3D printers to work consistently so I can impart me knowledge to you about them in the next edition of See Mark Paint, and so on.

If someone could figure out a way to make days about 40 hours long and so I don't have to sleep, that would help out a lot.

I hope this next year treats us all better than the last two have.

Fixes applied

If this post doesn't make sense, it's because I have imbibed copious amount of Scotch and I have a a BAC well in excess of 0.20. While verifying everything after restoring the website, I managed to find, troubleshoot and fix several issues with the website while restoring it. I also managed to add some functionality despite my highly inebrieated state. Without the need of a spell checker. :-P You're welcome. :-)

Holy Sh*t!

Okay, THAT was an experience!

So here I was trying to upgrade my website software (which I'm not mentioning to piss off script kiddies) and ended up crashing the website. I immediately initiated a restoral... and it didn't work. OH SHIT...

I've tried several times to restore over the past couple days and finally got this time to work. I'll be more careful in the future.

Roster Builder 4.0.2

Hey, quick bug fix. If you weren't able to print rosters, or the "Non-Org AS Roster" didn't work, the updates are uploaded. Run Roster Builder and it should download what you need by itself.

Thanks to H2CO3 for finding the AS bug!

The Issue is fixed!

If you are into Star Trek, you'll recognize this:

IDIC

This is a Vulcan IDIC symbol. IDIC stands for "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" and it is my primary way of fixing things when I don't know what I'm doing. I generally call it "Brute Force" because you're trying everything in every combination to see if you unbreak it. You change something, see what changes, document it, change it back, change something else and repeat. Or, as I sometimes say, "I can't fix it, but I can get it to work."

Since you're seeing this post, I'm going to surmise that you're smart enough to realize I fixed the issue related in the post below. The simple answer is, it was looking for a missing CSS file. I made a copy of the default.css file , renamed it to the offending filename and let it go, which seems to have worked.

Not only did I get that straightened out, I also capured enough logos to give every article an individual unit/house logo. The BatReps I will go back later to take one of their photos, trim/resize it and use them. I also added The Purple Nurples to the My Forces menu, I picked them up a couple months ago at a flea market at my FLGS.

That's it for me. It's after my bed time, I have to be up early to blow shit up and burn crap down tomorrow.

Renovations underway

So, if you've noticed, clicking on the odd-numbered headers above ("Getting Started," " Game Aids," " Homebrew" and "My Forces") gets you get an error. I'm finally clearing time to work on this. What this means is, things might look wonky, radically change, or even stop working alltogether. The reason is my SEO (Search Engine Optimized) software (so you see the link for this post as "...com/blog/renovations-underway" instead of "...com/index.php?option=com_content&Itemid=101&catid=17&id=166&lang=en&view=article") won't work on my sandbox web server. So, I have to work on my production website.

Don't worry, I'm paranoid enough to back up the website before I start making changes. I can't make things worse than they allready are. Well, I can, but I would have to go through a lot of effort to do so. Which I probably won't do.

I finally did it.

I woke up at 4:30 this morning and decided to just sit down and get this done. So I did just that. Pounded out the code, then fixed what I broke by changing things, fixed a few bugs, compiled it, and uploaded it. Enjoy Roster Builder 4.0!

July 12 UPDATE: If you downloaded Roster Builder between Saturday 7-10 and now, you got RB 3.9, and you also now get my apologies. I have fixed it and you will now get RB 4.

Overloaded

I am up to my eyebrows in pirranha. 

My clothes washer is spewing like a drunken sailor, the lawnmower decided to go on strike yesterday in the middle of mowing the lawn, the Ender 3 is crapping itself constantly, and 1,023 other things are coming apart all around me. I have been at General Quarters for 6 months without a break. My relaxation time is devoted to working on Roster Builder, See Mark Paint and this blog. My lack of production here shows I'm not getting my relaxation time in.

Enough whining.

Yes, I know some of the headers aren't working. You can still get to the sub items, but not the category tab. I know what's happening that's causing the problem, just not why it's happening.

Roster Builder 4 is 97% done. I only have to write two windows for Non-Canon Alpha Strike units, then do final cleanup.

I'm trying to make progress on the Ender 3, however I keep falling below the 2% threshold (an old military term: You must be at least 2% smarter than the equipment you're operating in order to operate it properly). I'm ordering enough parts and tools for this thing that the Amazon delivery person is ready to stab me in the eye with an icepack. I'm exaggerating. Slightly.

Once I get this thing running properly and consistently, progress will be made on See Mark Paint. I'm adding (as of right now) three extra chapters. I'm splitting "Rolling your own Miniatures" into three chapters, the "Rolling your own" will be general 3D printing stuff common to both FDM and resin printing, then each gets their own chapter, "The Vat of Doom" and "String Theory." I'm considering a chapter on terrain, no movement on it yet.

Back to the salt mines.

They followed me home, honest!

There I was this past Saturday, showing up to my FLGS for my weekly fix of "Blowing Shit Up" and they were having a flea market! A quick run to the ATM to pull out cash I can't afford to spend, and this was my haul:

Flea market games sm

Combined Arms is a 6mm 80's armor D10 game based on the Command Decision rultset. I played it while I was in the Project Warrior Wargame Club in Guam back in the late 80's and early 90's. I had long forgotten the name so I could never look it up, but I saw the cover and instantly recognized it. One time we actually tried to cross Battletech into it. It didn't end well for the 'Mechs.

The other game is the old AH War at Sea strategic-level game that I wanted to try out. Avalon Hill always put out good stuff.

But the best haul of all was the Purple Nurples. Yes, I used to be "that guy" back when I was young, dumb and ugly. The good news, I'm not him not any more. :-)

purple nurples

I admire the painting, especially the jewled cockpits. All of this is only "mostly complete," as I need to add another 'Mech from my stock to bring them up to two full lances, do base work on the ones that need it, print and install the ML barrels on the Pumas, Reverse the arms on the Toyama, things like that. The aircraft on the left are not from Battletech, so I will have to choose who they will be. I also have a couple of "Grav Tanks" from yet another game system that I will probably try to fit in there some way. But the purple and white on the gray just jumped out at me.

And here I was, thinking I was done patinting miniatures. Shit. ;-)

Making haste slowly

Everyone, while updates here are sparse, it's only because I'm very busy behind the scenes. Real Life has seriously been screwing with my gaming time. A new job, the unexpected passing of a very close friend, my hooptie doing a Blues Brothers and a whole lot more.

But those are neither here nor there.

Roster Builder 4 has been delayed. I was planning on getting it out today (May 19th). But finding a friend dead in his apartment kind of screws with your head. I did get the Clan TO&E worked out, and have gotten to build rosters using Alpha Strike units, I had forgotten the function to add non-Canon AS units. I'm giving you the option when you add a non-Canon CBT unit to also add it to the Alpha Strike side as well, plus entering non-Canon as just AS units. While I still have some things to Grok for that to work properly and elegantly, my subconcious is telling me "it will be soon." Soon for a fruit fly or soon for a mountain I can't tell you.

A medium priority once RB 4 is out is to continue porting this to Mac OSX and Unix. That's mostly screen layout, as I'm working off an old 13" MacBook Air. If you think I should be doing it on one of those 1000" display desktops, HMU so you can Zelle me the money because I don't have it.

I am also continuing my review of various Battletech-related products. I am waiting on one getting shpped to me, others are currently in various stages. Here's a picture of what I rolled out at a battle this past Saturday:

deathraydesigns1 sm

Once Roster Builder is out of the way, then work on the 5th edition of See Mark Paint will begin. I've decided to add a chapter on terrain and expanding the 3D printing information.

So, yes a lot is going on. I am making haste, but advancing slowly on many fronts simultaneously.

 

Roster Builder 4 is imminent!

Okay Mechwarriors, my Grokking has achieved fullness. I have solved the issue for a TO&E for The Clans. You will have a choice of 3, 4 or 5 Binary Clusters. You can pair vehicles and aerospace into a single Point. I had to get a shoehorn and a rubber mallet to get everything on one screen/sheet of paper, but it's done.

I also managed to get an Alpha Strike option for building rosters. It works just like the CBT version doing things.

The only thing left is to do a through Beta test and add another hundred or so items into the database. Just so you know, if a unit is missing a major point of information (tons, BV/PV, rules, year introduced, etc. it will not appear in this application, as I can't find it at the appropriate time if it's missing one (or more) of the fields I need.

I'm going to set my deadline for three weeks from now. Pray that I make it. ;-)

New Review

Just a quick note, I have posted a review for Lychee Slicer. Go check it out, then go get the product!

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