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January 13, 2003 15:42

So the transmitter didn't show up friday. And it won't show up today. It WILL, assuming matco isn't completely inept, SHIP today, and therefore arrive wednesday. I will wait in mock anticipation for the phone call to say it's shipped, that provides me with a tracking number. THEREFORE, the car will not be fully mobile until Wednesday night at the earliest.

The good news is, I've got all the necessary mods completed to the car. All I need to do now is get the transmitter, screw it to the base, plug it in, and I'm good to go. I've got concerns about the ignition point of funnoodles, and therefore, I won't be using funnoodles for any situation where direct contact with warm electronics will be required. However, I'm less concerned now than I was. By adding the bumper to the car, it helped to distribute its mass and increase its surface area. It has to flip faster now to flip over completely. I'm hesitant to actually TRY to flip it, but my simple push it over the edge of the ledge tests seem to be successful. I added additional protection for the camera by installing two plastic poles from the original frame of the car. They sit in front of the camera and rise higher, so they will both prevent the camera & its frame from colliding with any objects and will protect the camera in the event of a rollover.

I also have locking working, although it's still in testing and needs cosmetic work. It will basically work as follows. The default mode will be free for all, anyone can control the car at any time. A lock button will be available, whereby control of the car will be "locked" by the controlling host and only controllable by the controlling host for a 5 minute period of time. Anyone attempting to control the car, or lock it during this time will be notified of the lock and added to a wait queue. A popup window will continue to display information on how long the current wait will be before they're able to play with it. When a lock expires, the next host in the queue will receive the lock and get 5 minutes of exclusive rc car driving joy.

Right now, locking is ip address based. If a long wait is predicted, someone can restart the browser and the position in the queue will be preserved. Rebooting the computer will work too, just as long as the ip address doesn't change. I will in the future provide a means to reclaim a queue position if the ip address changed, but not in the beginning. Also, if for any reason you close off the update window, the position in the queue will be maintained, but after 60 seconds of no activity, it will be considered dead. This means that it's position will not be counted in wait estimates for others, and unless it gets a heartbeat before it's position in the queue is reached, it will be skipped over and dropped. The only problem I can forsee is those ISP's that run all port 80 requests through a cache. This means that my webserver think's your ip address is the cache, and not of your home machine. As long as the cache's ip address never changes, this won't be a problem, but for isp's like AOL, this will make locking completely ineffective. I might later have an option to use cookies for maintaining those locks.

On a somewhat different topic, there is the issue of banning. As some of you are no doubt aware, people that choose to express themselves in excessively immature ways through this site, have the possibility of getting blocked from using it. The current block features prevent someone from sending messages, chatting in the chatroom, turning on/off lights, and now, they'd be blocked from using the car. The only ability they have is to view the site, and in extreme cases, this ability is taken away as well. Some of this is done automatically by countermeasures built into the cgi interface, to prevent a single user from being a nuisance to others. Others, with regards to verbal abuse, are blocked by one of several moderators I have trusted to this task. I personally am responsible for a very small percentage of the bans that are implemented. It is therefore of the utmost important that you are polite to everyone, because the moderators can, and frequently do, permanantly ban people from the site. I will not allow 1% of the visitors to make the experience miserable for the other 99%.

Which brings me to another issue. If for some reason, the normal bans don't work, I'm forced to resort to more extreme measures and block entire network segments, or in some cases, an entire isp. When my site only got 100 visitors a day, it wasn't a big deal to do this. However, with the diverse, and rather large audience I now command, blocking any one isp WILL affect dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands of users, most of which will be innocent of any wrongdoing, and probably won't even understand why. In these cases, I have only two options, to encourage the isp to remove or restrict the problem user, even though in most cases they probably aren't violating any terms of service, or to encourage the blocked users to choose an alternate ISP. These restrictions are unfair to both the ISP and the innocent users of that ISP, only to stop abuse from what is in most cases, a solitary 13 year old kid with nothing better to do with his life.