After what seems like approximately three hundred requests that I stop the cheating on fastr, I've finally relented and done something about it. The answer is now sent encrypted, and then your guess is encrypted before comparing with the answer. At the end of the set, if you didn't guess it, the browser sends a "give up" signal back to the server, which gives you the answer in plain text, and sets your score to zero, so you can't "give up" and then submit an answer.

You can still cheat, of course. You can open a second window that's slightly ahead in time, and see pictures before guessing in your first window. Or you can refresh your browser after you know it and get ten points. Or you can "give up" under one name and then submit an answer under a different name. But those are all manual cheats, and I expect you'd get tired of doing that eventually. What you can't do any more (as far as I know, at least) is set up a script to automatically cheat for you.

You also can't make long names with no spaces so that they go outside the designated name box. No one asked for that, but it was annoying me, so I fixed it. And the rounds are now six minutes now, which allows for exactly ten sets of photos, plus a ten second break to look at who won. The last set of your first round might get cut off in the middle, but that shouldn't happen after it gets synched up at the end of a round.

I also pulled all the text into localization files, which will make it much easier to create versions in new languages. But I haven't seen many people playing the other languages, so I'm not sure that's even worth the trouble. I'll let the translation volunteers decide that.

In any case, between these last few fixes and the API, I've managed to delegate (that's the verb form of lazy) most of the future work onto other people. So I don't expect to be spending a lot of time working on fastr now. I think it's about time to call it done and move on to another project.

 

Last week, Shelley Powers wrote about web browsers in terms of "Cane and Able," which was strikingly similar to the old tale of Cain and Abel. Today Danny Ayers wrote about the upper- and lower-case semantic webs in terms of the Garden of Eden, and added a disclaimer at the end ...if anyone feels uncomfortable with my use of Judaic mythology here...

In both cases, I think discussing technology in terms of a shared mythology makes for much more interesting — and thus easier — reading. It's too bad we don't have more shared mythology from which to draw. Certainly we have more mythology than we ever have before, but it's less and less shared. I can discuss complex issues in terms of Battlestar Galactica, but how many people will understand the references? How many people even understand the Biblical references today?

I know many people who are worried about the loss of "morals" (which more often than not means "the right to be comfortable among homogeneous people" — but that's another post) in society, but I think more troubling is the loss of shared stories. Even if someone were able to write a modern epic, commonly accessible by a wide variety of cultures throughout the world, I think there's a modern intolerance for believable fiction that would kill the story before it spread.

In the past, we could weave a lie in with the truth, and make a new truth from it. I think that's how most religions have begun. But I'm not sure we can do that today.