Friday, September 30, 2011

dxContent outtage & conversation with Tech support

Thank you for contacting support.

Please hold for the next available operator to respond.

You are now chatting with '[Name Redacted]'

[Name Redacted]: Hi, how are you today?

Brian Dunn: ok.

Brian Dunn: any page on my website that is asp is not working.

Brian Dunn: its been that way for at least 45 min

[Name Redacted]: I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you.

Brian Dunn: nobody has responded to my support request via the online form

[Name Redacted]: Did you receive any error message?

Brian Dunn: Tracking #

Brian Dunn: http/1.1 500 Server error

Brian Dunn: trackign number 8815675

[Name Redacted]: Could you please provide me with the exact URL of the web page in which you are receiving the error?

Brian Dunn:

[Name Redacted]: Thank you!

[Name Redacted]: I have run a tool from my end to resolve the issue. However, it will take 1 hour to propagate.

Brian Dunn: what kind of tool?

Brian Dunn: What is the issue?

Brian Dunn: hello?

[Name Redacted]: It is the backend tool which reset the file permissions

Brian Dunn: how did the file permissions get messed up?

[Name Redacted]: Due to a technical glitch, it has occured.

Brian Dunn: can you better describe "technical glitch"?

Brian Dunn: hello?

[Name Redacted]: The permissions for your website got corrupted due to some technical glitch.

[Name Redacted]: I corrected it and it will work after 1 hour.

Brian Dunn: are you going to check it in 1 hour to be sure?

[Name Redacted]: It will work after 1 hour.

[Name Redacted]: If you experience any issues, please contact us back.

Brian Dunn: Oh, I will.

[Name Redacted]: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?

Brian Dunn: do yo uknow how long the glitch has been an issue?

[Name Redacted]: I

[Name Redacted]: I'm sorry, Brian.

Brian Dunn: Other pages in my site (like html ) work... was it permissions only on asp?

[Name Redacted]: Yes BRian

Brian Dunn: The problem is I'm going camping in an hour and won't be able to check my site after 5pm. So I'm just tryng to make sure we've done all we can to make sure we've identified the correct issue... otherwise my site will be down till I get back Sunday.

[Name Redacted]: I can understand your concern.

[Name Redacted]: it will be resolved within one hour

Brian Dunn: okay I will check. before I leave.

[Name Redacted]: Okay.

[Name Redacted]: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?

Brian Dunn: no.

[Name Redacted]: Thank you for chatting with us. Please feel free to contact us at any time. We are available 24x7.

[Name Redacted]: Bye!

Chat session has been terminated by the site operator.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New function for Links to pfd20srd Bestiary

If you liked the D20PFSRDSpellLink~ function, you're really going to like the D20PFSRDCreatureLink~ function. It's great for your custom random encounter tables. If you wrap it around your creature names (and follow some basic naming conventions), it will create a hyperlink in your generator results to the corresponding bestiary page on!

I'd love to take credit for the idea, but I can't. In fact I'd abandoned the hope of linking random encounter results to creature pages. But, thanks to all the hard work being done at pfd20srd they've created a vehicle that uses a simple alias to get to the actual link ( For example the Ogre URL might actually be nested in several subtype directories. A fictional example might be: But, through aliasing, the much simpler URL will get you there as well. The power of this becomes obvious once you realize the only alternative is hand coding/copying the urls.

Earlier this week I'd converted the 13 Pathfinder random environment encounter tables into dxContent random generators. It was basic work, nothing fancy. After my friend John (creator of d20pfsrd) showed me the aliasing tools, I created the first version of the creature link function and rolled it out to the 13 generators.

I thought Id provide sample code for all the DMs out there who need custom encounter tables. You can make it happen with just on simple one script and one table.


#USES TABLES:FoulDungeon#
Foul Dungeon Encounter: [ENCDungCR2]

TABLE: FoulDungeon

8,{Dice~2d6} {D20PFSRDCreatureLink~goblins}
4,{Dice~1d4} {D20PFSRDCreatureLink~ghouls}
6,{Dice~1d4} {D20PFSRDCreatureLink~giant spiders}
(add rows as needed)

Have fun building your custom [RandomTerrain] encounter tables at!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tools for tools!

In my last blog I talked about the new MakeForm~ function which allows you to make complex interfaces for your Table Runner scripts. The City Block Generator uses a complex form (shown at left). Today I want to tell you about a tool you can use that will aid you in using this function.

Screen shot 1

As you can imagine, MakeForm~ can get pretty complex and could become tricky to code a complex interface by hand. Well, there is good news. I've made a tool that can do all the coding for you - all you have to do is fill in fields. In the screen at left you can see I'm setting options and the tool is building the code for me.

A good analogy is TurboTax. Yes you can do your taxes by hand. Many people do and do it successfully. But the more complicated the household/business the more complicated the taxes. Eventually its just not realistic to do them by hand anymore. And the extra checks and hurestics that come with TurboTax can help you reduce the risk in the process.

Screen shot 2

In this screen I've finished adding all the input elements, and I'm defining the overall size and title for the form.

So that's what I've done. I've built a "TurboTax" for the MakeForm~ function. Like anything that is version 1.0 there are improvements that will be made, but its pretty useful right out of the box. You can get to it from the Table Runner editor, and from the syntax help reference. Here's a direct link.

I've also updated the help for MakeForm~. So if you're the kind of person who needs the details, its all there.

So, good luck and happy script building. I can't wait to see the worlds most [RandomAdjective]-complex user form!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New function!

A new function was added to the script library called MakeForm~. (You did know there is a script library and help section for building your own generators right?) You can use the MakeForm~ function to create complex input forms with multiple text boxes, pick lists, radio buttons and instructions.

So far most of the generators that I've created don't require many options to run. For example, Pathfinder Magic Scrolls only require you to click the Minor, Medium or Major button. It's quick and easy, but I've been wanting to do more with some of the generators allowing for greater options - like class, level limit, etc. However the tools to date required a new screen for every input. For example, If you look at the City Block Generator you are presented with five or six screens in a row. That is not a "smooth" interface... its awkward. This new function is the first step in consolidating multiple options to a single screen.

I've changed the Pathfinder Starting ability score generator to make use of the MakeForm~ function.

There are a few improvements that I can immediately think of. First is allowing for input fields to be dependent on selected options. For example in a fictitious "origin generator" maybe you limit city choices by country choice.

I hope you [RandomSatisfaction] the new MakeForm~ function.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The first Month of

It has been over a month since dxContent went live, so I thought I'd take a moment to reflect. Well, that and my monitor died so my main box is idle at the moment.

On the plus side, I had over 1000 unique visitors come to in the first month. Eight twitter followers tapped into my tweets. The content library seems to have some popular generators in it that people are using. Several generators are hooked right into Also, I got some important feedback from a visitor that lead to needed fixes to the magic item generator.

On the down side, only one visitor has created an account, and nobody has created a custom generator. Not surprisingly, dxContent hasn't broken even yet. Someday, ad clicks by viewers will hopefully cover the hosting costs. Unfortunately, the google ads aren't always relevant to dxContent, and that's a big problem. Sure, I see game related ads, but I see a fair number of gasoline & diesel powered backup generator ads, and, unfortunately way too many cloth "table runner" ads (you know, that nice one-foot wide decorative thing your wife puts on the table that you unceremoniously use to sop up spilled Mountain Dew and/or toss into the corner to make room for important stuff like RPG dice, minis, laptops and rulebooks). Table Runner was the name I gave the builder tools - maybe that was a poor choice? I also found some behind the scenes work flow issues to sort out, and there are always interface improvement ideas I come up with daily as I play in my own sandbox. My choice in hosting companies has been mostly good, but for three weeks now they can't seem to get my web stats to update without manual intervention. It really makes me feel [random negative emotion].

I guess it feels like a mixed start. Some things went good, some didn't and some will come with time. It has only been a month after all so i guess I need to be patient.

The next person to create an account gets a heartfelt [random verbal token of gratitude]! (so much for patience)