Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Recording finds and attempts, version 2.0!

Well, I finally did it. I updated the sub-system for recording finds and attempts. It's been completely rebuilt from the ground up! 

You'll definitely notice some changes with them, but the two most important changes to note are:

  1. You can record multiple finds and attempts on the same box! So if you revisit a box after you've first found it, you can record another find on it without removing your previous one! It doesn't matter how often you record a find on it, however--it still counts as only 1 find on your F-count. So please, if you revisit boxes, record the find! Let everyone know the box is still alive and well on subsequent visits!

    Likewise, you can record multiple attempts on the same box as well. Only the last attempt you record on a box is included in the F-summaries and factors into strike counts and findability and such. Earlier attempts are essentially ignored, but they don't hurt anything either.

  2. And the other big change is that you can now specify the confidence level of your attempts. So now there are three levels of attempts: high-confidence, mid-confidence and low-confidence attempts.

    I imagine a high-confidence attempt is basically what everyone has more-or-less been recording to this point, but now there are options if you have a lot (or a little) doubt about your attempt. There's also an option for a "zero-confidence" attempt, although I've started calling those "fake attempts" in my code. I imagine those being used for people who have an urge to record attempts but didn't actually look for the box. They looked at a mystery clue but couldn't figure out the starting point so they think they "attempted" the box kind of thing. Or they started hiking down the trail, but it started to rain so they turned around before reaching the end if it. That type of thing where there was never a real search for the physical box. AQ basically just ignores these, but you're welcome to record them as zero-confidence attempts.

There are other details that I'm sure some of you want to know all about. For instance, with all these attempt options, how are strikes counted? How does the F-summary work? 

In a nutshell, a high-confidence attempt counts as one strike as usual. A mid-confidence attempt counts as half a strike, and a low-confidence attempt counts as a 1/4 strike. (But after adding everything together, they will be rounded to the nearest whole number.) So if you use the default strikeout settings on AQ, it would take 3 high-confidence strikes before a box is struck out, 5 mid-confidence strikes or 10 low-confidence strikes. (Zero-confidence attempts, as I said before, are ignored by AQ so they basically count as 0 strikes.)

F-summaries still use F's and X's to mark finds and attempts, although now the F and X will be capitalized if the finder/attempter is a planter of the box. Those are basically the maintenance visits by someone who should know what they're talking about. Lowercase letters are finds and attempts by non-planters. As for attempts, the letters are sized based on the confidence levels, so high-confidence attempts will have a much bigger X than a low-confidence attempt. The colors also go from "in your face red" to "subtle, low-confidence blue." =)

There are also minor notes practically not even worth mentioning. For instance, although you can now record multiple finds and attempts on the same box, they can't be on the same day. If you record a find or attempt on a specific box on a specific date, it will overwrite anything else you had previously recorded for that same box on the same date. But really, why would you be recording it more than once for the same day anyhow?! Most likely, something had been entered incorrectly the first time so you're probably just trying to fix the information.

There are some other relatively minor, cosmetic changes you might see around finds and attempts as well.  Mostly to make sure there was space to display multiple finds and attempts (if needed) and mark the type of attempt that was being recorded, but since nobody has had a chance to record multiple finds/attempts on the same box or record different types of attempts, it generally looks the same as before. For now. You'll notice the changes more as y'all  start using the new features.

There are almost certainly going to be bugs that slipped through the cracks and need to be worked out. Please be patient. This was a huge undertaking that required a lot of changes to the code and database, but I'll fix the bugs as quickly as they're found and reported.

Hope you enjoy the update! If you have any questions or comments, send them along.

Friday, April 01, 2022

Lead contamination in the rubber stamp carving kit!

I have some bad news to report! Some tests came back and I just found out that my new carving block kit suffers from lead contamination and was denied a license for sale by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. I'll have to find a new manufacturer and see how things go from there.

Okay, just kidding.... there was never any carving block kit, but I suspect most of you already figured that out almost immediately. It's your annual April Fools joke! I hope you y'all got a good laugh out of it!

Most of what you saw came from the Soap Making 101 Kit. Throw in a few things from a visit to the Dollar Tree, a little Photoshopping and presto! Instant carving block kit that does an excellent job of cleaning your hands. I don't think my hands have ever been so clean! =)

A bit of my soap carving mess while creating the April Fools joke. I tried playing around with some multi-colored blocks of soap, but I wound up not using any of them for the April Fools Day prank. One of them currently now sits in the shower, however, ready to be used!

But! Technically speaking.... you can carve soap. I've done it. Just ask anyone from the Monday carving meetups. So... joke's on you! You really can carve these soap blocks! =P

But they aren't very good for stamping... If you'd like to carve soap blocks, however, I will recommend The Complete Guide to Soap Carving and Ultimate Soap Carving. I have both books and both explain how to carve soap, which soaps work best, and all the other nitty-gritty details. If I had to pick one as my favorite, I'd go with the first one. 

Carving soap has a lot in common with carving stamps, except it's more of a 3D object you're creating and you don't have to worry so much about text showing up backwards! (Actually, trying to carve text on soap sounds pretty crazy to begin with, but more power to you if you give it a try!)

To answer a few additional questions some of you might have had.... the colors falu, australien and zaffre are real color names. I wanted to use names more interesting than red, yellow and blue so did a search for weird and funny color names which landed me on 13 Funny, Silly and Weird Color Names You May Never Have Heard Of. You'll find all three of them there. *nodding* I was majorly disappointed that I didn't have a green color when I saw the color named "goose turd green" and, given the scents available, really wanted to work that into the text which I did in a clumsy manner. =) I also particularly liked the "lusty gallant" color name, but couldn't think of a good way to work that into the post. Oh, well. The color "puke" certainly fit the theme as well, but that color name didn't seem "exotic" enough to be fun.

The soap kit included only one scent: cucumber melon. It's a pleasant scent, but definitely not suitable for a "letterboxer stamp carving block kit." All scents described in the announcement are totally made up, but y'all probably knew that already!

The so-called "stiffener" was just vinegar in a spray bottle that I bought at the Dollar Tree. (That is, I bought the spray bottle at the Dollar Tree. The vinegar was already here!)

The image of the stamps are, in fact, real stamps. They are not, however, hand-carved. I bought them at the Dollar Tree for $1.25. They were thin and clear, and even without any adhesives, stuck surprisingly well to the soaps I made! So I stuck them on the soaps and chopped out the soap to the shape of the stamp. So, yeah. Store-bought stamps, but they looked simple enough that I figured I could pass them off as really good hand-carved stamps! =) And heck! One of them was even a blue diamond! Kind of made it look a bit more legit, I thought.

Anyhow, hope you all enjoyed yourselves and if you feel like expanding your carving horizons.... consider giving soap carving a try! It really is fun. Although, admittedly, I carve far more rubber stamps than soap creations! But I think muggle-leaning friends and family probably enjoy the soap carvings more than the rubber stamp carvings. =)

I'll also point out, if you do give soap-carving a try, you could also try carving wood. Carving soap and carving wood is exactly the same process except the wood is a lot harder to carve and requires sharper knives and takes longer. But, just like with stiffer rubber carving blocks, you can get a lot more detail in a block of wood than a block of soap!

Oh! Almost forgot.... All those "pre-orders" you entered into the website.... I don't think most of you read the small print: I reserved the right to resell your addresses for fun and profit! Who knows what might show up in your mailboxes now? *diabolical laughter*

A few of the actual soap carvings that I made: a train, starfish, pirate, seashell, boat and owl! I'm still a beginner soap carver, though. I hope to improve with more practice!