Good and bad news (and some other stuff)

Chaos (ZX Spectrum, 1985)
Chaos (ZX Spectrum, 1985)

First, the good (great, in fact) news: Julian Gollop, author of Chaos, Laser Squad, and the original X-COM: UFO Defense (known in Europe as UFO: Enemy Unknown; note that the recent Firaxis remake combines the two names) has announced that he’s remaking Chaos, and his ideas so far (the previous link goes to his development blog) seem great.

 

The Lords of Midnight (ZX Spectrum, 1984)
The Lords of Midnight (ZX Spectrum, 1984)

And now the bad news: Mike Singleton, creator of The Lords of Midnight, Doomdark’s Revenge, and Midwinter, has sadly died. He was in the middle of remaking The Lords of Midnight for iOS and Android, among other platforms. Chris Wild, who was doing the remake with Singleton, has announced that he will complete the remake, although it will understandably have fewer changes / improvements than intended.

It is interesting to note that the two guys mentioned above wrote, between them, my favorite 8-bit games of all time.

Beyond that… Gaming-wise, I haven’t had a lot of time for playing in the past few months. I returned to The Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) “for real”, and I’ve been enjoying the game a lot, although I don’t play it more than a couple of nights a week. The good part is that I’ve been doing it with a couple of friends, and we only play it when we’re together, making it more like a “normal” RPG, instead of an MMO.

Isaac Asimov - Tales of the Black Widowers
Isaac Asimov – Tales of the Black Widowers

As for books, I’ve just started reading Isaac Asimov’s Black Widowers series. It’s interesting to see how Asimov was able to successfully create something that 1) was outside his “normal” thing (science fiction), and 2) has all its (short) stories following the same format, yet without making them repetitive or monotonous.

In terms of personal projects… no big news here. I’ve been working on and off on something for about a year, but it’s not something to be shared with the world. :) Otherwise, I’ve recently improved my online Fantasy Name Generator, which now supports new “types”, including hobbit names, science fiction names, and even modern, English-language names. More to come soon… I hope.

New ‘disposable email’ service: Mail60

Mail60 is a ‘disposable email service’; perfect for receiving confirmation emails from places you don’t trust not to spam you in the future. Mail60 mailboxes are automatically erased after 60 minutes, so you can simply create one, use that email address somewhere, receive the email(s) you’re expecting, and then simply forget about the mailbox. For more detail, see the FAQ.

The idea for it came from reading the comments, about a week ago, in PZ Myers’ wonderful blog Pharyngula, where people were talking about an internet poll they wanted to vote on, but the site required registration, and it was a right-wing paranoia site, so it wasn’t a place they really wanted to be members of. One commenter, then, suggested using a “disposable email service” such as Mailinator. That was the first time I heard of those. I found the idea intriguing, and thought about how I could implement such a thing. It looked doable, so I started programming it in my free time, and Mail60 is the result.

I intentionally wanted to keep this simple, so I didn’t go for features such as “create a mailbox automatically when receiving mail on a non-existent address” or “forward email to a real mailbox for X days and then stop”. Also, since mailboxes are so ephemeral, features such as filters, address books or folders don’t really make sense. And, of course, the only way to allow instant creation of mailboxes with no verification whatsoever and yet prevent abuse was to disallow email sending. But for the most common use I foresee — receiving confirmation emails –, that’s not a problem.

For the techies out there, I’m using PHP, MySQL, Postfix, DBMail, and Hastymail for accessing mailboxes. The (virtual) server runs FreeBSD.

P.S. – yes, this is the “new project” I mentioned a few days ago. :)

New project in development

You may have noticed that there haven’t been any news posts here for more than a week. No, I’m not “bored” with my favorite subjects (as if I could); the reason for that is that I’ve been relatively busy with a new project of mine, which I’ve been doing in my free time. It’s still too soon for it to be revealed, but I can say the following: it uses PHP and MySQL (doesn’t everything, these days?), and has to do with email. It’ll provide a service that isn’t exactly novel (though a lot of non-tech users don’t even know such a thing exists), but I don’t think I’m doing it exactly like the “competition” does, which means it’ll be unique in some ways. I hope.

I hope to have something to show to the world in a week or two. But I’ll try to write a few new posts here, until then. I have a draft of the second entry in the Conversion Wars series almost finished (and it has been that way for a while, now), so that’ll probably be the next one.