Thursday, March 31, 2022

New! DIY Carving Block Kits!

So some of you know I've been working on a "secret project" for the last few months, and I'm now ready to share it with the world! I've been developing a DIY carving block kit! You choose the color! You choose the scent! You choose how stiff you want the carving block to be! It's a fun little project for those who like to get crafty and... well, come on! We're letterboxers! Who of us doesn't like to get crafty?!

Read all about it and pre-order now! =)

Saturday, March 05, 2022

Challenge icons, publishing boxes, and more....

If you have at least 500 finds
and attempts on challenging
boxes, you'll get this icon by
your name. (But smaller!)

So I just did a major update of Atlas Quest this evening. Quite literally, I've updated hundreds and hundreds of files and thousands and thousands of lines of code. It's a massive, massive update. I'm not sure there's even a file with source code on AQ that wasn't affected in at least some minor way.

But... you probably won't notice many changes. The vast majority of them are the "under the hood" variety. The last big update I did a month or two ago included an upgrade of PHP from 7.4 to 8.1. Now that AQ is running with the latest version of PHP, I added stricter type-checking all over the place and created a bunch of enumerated data types to represent the enumerated data types that the database uses. It's still an ongoing process--but basically, I updated tons of source code to be easier to update, easier to maintain and easier for other people to read and tweak. That's where the bulk of this update lies, and there's absolutely nothing to see.

However, allegedly, according to the PHP documentation, this version of PHP runs about 10% faster than the previous version so perhaps you'll see a slight improvement in speed?  I don't really notice any difference, but the vast majority of the time, the Internet is the bottleneck, not the speed of the server. So I consider it a "theoretical" improvement. =)

But there are a couple of minor changes you can see... including "challenge coin" icons by some people's name. It starts as a relatively boring silver coin when you find (or attempt to find) a box listed as "challenging" on AQ. With enough finds and attempts, it'll be upgraded into a gold coin. Then a stack of coins. Then a giant pile of coins. And finally, when you find (or attempt to find) your 100th challenging box, you start getting bills in the mix as well. =)

AQ has been recording when y'all have been finding or attempting to find challenging boxes for a number of months now, so some people already have such icons. 

If you don't like the icons... well, you can suck it. =) 

Just kidding... You're more than welcome to complain and provide better suggestions. If I like the idea and it's practical, maybe I'll run with it. If I don't think it's an improvement or it's not something that's practical for me to implement, I won't.

I also completely changed the way unpublished boxes are stored in the database, which led to a few minor changes in the interface. The biggest difference is in your logbook. Now you'll find unpublished boxes as a new "action" rather than a "box type." If you have saved links to that particular page, you'll want to update those.

The one perk of how this information is stored in the database, however, is that you can now run searches for your unpublished boxes. You'll find the option on the Advanced Search page as an "other option". A normal search won't include unpublished boxes, but if you check that box, you'll see search results that only include your unpublished boxes (assuming all other search parameters are also met).

Special perk for admins: You can actually search everyone's unpublished boxes. ;o) This is helpful for us when someone reports a problem with listing a box that hasn't been published yet. We can search for it and take a look at the problem. But that's an admin perk--most of you can only see your own unpublished boxes.

Those are the two main things I can think of which you'll see have changed. There are probably some other minor modifications that I've long since forgotten about. And given the huge number of lines of code that have been modified, there are almost certainly some bugs that slipped through the cracks. Please be patient as I try to fix them!

Happy trails! Now get outside and try finding some challenging boxes. =)

This more modest financial fortune
goes to those with between 5 and 19 find/attempts
on challenging boxes.