Projects and Updates, 2018-10-01

Projects and Updates, 2018-10-01

Event and Invitation Managing Software
My phone now runs a beta alpha whatever-comes-before-alpha version of my event planning/invitation managing software.

I've been using the software for about 6 weeks and the results have been decent: it's replaced Google Keep as my invitation managing tool, and that was my primary goal. I'd like to gather 6+ months of event and invitation data before adding statistical data to the software; while I gather said data, I'll continue to build the interface and experience.

After I began using the software, the first big thing that needed fixing was sorting/alphabetizing my query results -- I was genuinely shocked at how infuriating it was to work with more than 4-5 unsorted records. I added basic sorting to most of the SQL queries, and used a case statement to sort RSVPs in the following order: yes, maybe, no response, no, not contacted. Here's a simplified version of the case statement:

//note: I needed to include the single quotes in the SQL string
//in order for the case statement to work,
//hence the backslashes escaping them.

String tempSql =
' ORDER BY case when ' + RSVP + ' = \'yes\' then 1 ' +
    ' when ' + RSVP + ' = \'maybe\' then 2 ' +
    ' when ' + RSVP + ' = \'noresponse\' then 3 ' +
    ' when ' + RSVP + ' = \'no\' then 4 ' +
    ' when ' + RSVP + ' = \'notcontacted\' then 5 ' +
    ' else 6 ' +
    ' end asc, ' + FIRST_NAME;

I anticipate adding a calendar interface for choosing dates and archiving old events will be the next pain points, but we'll see.

A list of things I could do next
While the event planning/invitation managing software is far from done, now that it's functional I have some free time to spend on my next project. I'm not 100% sure what comes next but here are three possibilities, in order from least-likely to most-likely.

Open a Bar/Restaurant
As some of you know, I've been dancing off-and-on since college. Friend-of-the-site-Jess jokes that I've retired and come back to dancing more times than she can count. Examples: I started in ballroom; I did adult remedial ballet for 6-12 months (which I miss the most of all my dance experiences); I was a b-boy for like 2.5 days; now I find myself swing dancing most often, specifically the Lindy Hop.

A point of sadness for me, about Lindy Hop and many other social dances, is there isn't a good venue around town for people I call middle-class dancers: people who know how to do it, and they also have other stuff to do. e.g. A person who danced a lot in college, and now they have no time and two kids.

A related point of sadness: there isn't a great venue to casually introduce social dances to non-dancing-people.

My bar/restaurant would address those points of sadness:

Not to scale
  • If a person knows how to dance, and they also have other stuff to do, perhaps that person can have dinner with friends or family at a table near the dance floor and steal a few dances while the rest of their party has dessert and listens to the music.
  • People who are curious and have no experience with social dances have an opportunity to scope out the dance in a low stakes environment. It's pretty easy to sit at the bar with some friends and pretend you're not that interested when in fact you're totally interested.

The challenging part of this idea
Normal restaurants have razor-thin margins; this is a more complex and likely-less-profitable version of a normal restaurant.


Score Tabletop RPGs
I've learned over the past few years that tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) can be fun.[1]

One of the things that's interesting about tabletop RPGs is the wide latitude to design the actual game-playing experience. If you and your friends are all voice actors, you can get super into voice acting the characters. If you, as a game master, love cartography, you can make beautiful maps for your players to explore. If your group loves woodworking or crafting projects, you can create actual 3D models of landscapes for your characters' adventures.

I want to figure out how the real-world gaming experience can be designed to make the in-universe narratives more compelling, and create stronger emotional connections to the characters. Of course strong writing and storytelling are a must; however, the thing I'm really excited to try is composing musical scores to accompany adventures. When done correctly, music can be a powerful trigger for memories and emotion, which could be a very effective way to bolster the narrative, create stronger connections to the characters, and create a more immersive experience for the players.

The challenging part of this idea
Among other challenges, to date I've zero experience as a game master; I've only been a player.


Make A Board Game
I have a legit big and crazy idea to create a stand-alone database that documents books, tools, and materials that parents can find at libraries (ideally), find for free online, or purchase, which would supplement K through 12 education. There would be three areas of focus: media literacy, political literacy, and sexual/interpersonal health. That's a huge undertaking. And while I think it's super important, it doesn't sound like very much fun.

You know what is fun, though? Board games.

Never one to pass up an opportunity to learn people good, or take out two birds with one stone, I feel like there's a way to teach people the mechanics of real-world processes and institutions by using board games that have game mechanics based on those real-world processes and institutions.

My first idea is a game that explores the complicated relationship between the electorate, the media, and politicians.

The challenging part of this idea
Okay okay -- I know the game doesn't sound like very much fun, but trust me... it'll totally be fun.
( •_•)>⌐■-■

Up Next Ideas

  • I'm moving. That will eat up some time.
  • I'm probably upgrading phones this fall, (hopefully the last time for a few years,) which will be a minor time sink.
  • Also, since I'm probably getting a new phone, I should figure out how to export my app's database from this phone to the new one. [Update: I did it! I'll talk more about the process in the next quarterly update.]
  • I might work out the high level mechanisms behind The Board Game.

  1. For the uninitiated: Tabletop RPGs are games like Dungeons and Dragons (which I've never played) and Fantasy Flight's Star Wars: Edge of the Empire (which I've played a whole bunch, despite not being a huge Star Wars fan). While the details vary depending on the RPG you're playing, basically it's a collective storytelling experience with dice used to introduce some randomness. ↩︎