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December 2019 Office Hour Highlights

Posted by Kim on December 21, 2019, 2:15pm

Missed this weekend's office hours? Don't worry, here's some of the highlights :)

Friday Office Hour

How are you doing, Kim? Are you remembering to do self-care amongst all of this site maintenance? Keeping up with IRL people in your life?

Haaa, good question.

I'm slowly starting to do Kim-Care stuff regularly again, as the site becomes more and more stable and usable. There were some VERY intense weeks in there though >.>

I look forward to reconnecting with some of the IRL people in my life and seeing if they remember me after the last... three months of RPR-life-focus though XD

Hey Kim, once the site has mostly or fully stabilized, what are your next big plans for it?

There's two big features that I especially wanted to get into the rebuild but couldn't get to in time for launch:

1) Being able to post messages/status to your own user profile, and

2) Allowing Epic Members to edit the colors and fonts on any official RPR template without needing to write a drop of CSS. I think it would make the perks of epic membership much more accessible and thus more valuable all around :)

I think those will be the first two new things I tackle when I'm through the initial transition bug reports.

Would it possible to allow also users to load their own background pic or would that be too complicated?

I don't think I can make promises about that until I do it, but that's definitely one of the aims. :)

Hey Kim how do you take your coffee?

I am dangerously caffeine sensitive and have been sent to the emergency room for drinking too much green tea in a day, so I take my coffee by smelling the air when other people drink it. ;)

Oh and serious question: When does the FoBETEO end? I have a handful more to write but need a moment to sit down and do them

Normally FOBETEO goes a week, so under normal circumstances it'd be ending today. But with the transition and the lag being combatted, I plan to let it run another five days... Which will actually put the last day right on Christmas. That's a bit more actual-holiday-centric than it's supposed to be, but I guess that's just how things shook out this year!

Has anyone asked how Venice's linguistics training is going?
No! So for those of you who don't know, recently there was an internet sensation when a speech therapist named Christina Hunger posted a video on Instagram showing that she had trained her dog to use a custom-built speech assistance device. Her dog, Stella, has memorized which buttons represent 30+ words and combines them into sentences of up to 5 words.

I bought the same materials and built a similar gadget for my dog, Venice, who currently has memorized 4 different word buttons. She will... talk to me with them if I insist and play dumb to the other methods she uses to communicate things with me (mostly miming and pointing, as most dogs do,) but she mostly seems to think that speaking through pushing buttons is a big hassle when she already communicates what she wants just fine without words most of the time.

Her memorized button words so far are "Outside," "Food" and "water," and the fourth one I recently added for her is "Car"

I'm really hoping that the addition of Car will help her understand why sometimes actual speech is better than just pointing, because riding in the car is one of her favorite activities, but when she's indoors, there's no way to point at the car.

I've been modeling sentences for her on her speech board lately like "Venice, do you want to go in the *CAR* to get *FOOD?*" because where she wants me to drive the car to once she's convinced me to let her into it is not something she could ever mime. She finds this concept intriguing, but is still on the fence about whether she wants to encourage my weird new obsession with pushing buttons.

Typing out for her that I'm going to take her to a drive-through and buy her a cheeseburger makes her ears flick wildly so I'm waiting for the day when she "says" the sentence back to me. ;)

That reminds me, did her discovery of the ‘food’ button wreck Thanksgiving?

She actually did not lean on the food button as hard as I thought! It wasn't until people finished dinner and started asking her to do tricks to earn bites of turkey that she actually went over to her sound board and started mashing "FOOD FOOOD FOOOD FOOOOOOOOOD"

Basically, in the middle she decided that jumping and rolling and twirling was too much work and she knew that asking with words impresses humans and allowed her to bypass all other ridiculous human requests we might make of her XD

It absolutely charmed everyone XD She did not have to do any other trick the whole night. Any time someone was like, "Venice! High five!" she was like "FOOD" and.. she got it immediately.

I'm about to add "Pet" and "Play" to her board, now that she's shown me she has these four memorized.

Here's Christina Hunger's instagram if you want to watch her dog say stuff and read about how she is teaching this technique:

I am role-playing from tablet and the mail icon is visible at all times which is great but from within groups the icon isn't there unless there is a pending mail unread. Can you make the icon visible from within the groups too?

Good suggestion! That would definitely be a quality of life upgrade.

If someone wanted to send you a gift in the form of a package would that be possible Kim? It is Christmas you know....(asking for a friend XD)

Uhmmm... It depends on how big the package is. The PO Box can accept small (document sized or smaller) padded envelopes. If we're talking a big box, that's much tougher.

Kim any change characters drop down list in group RPs replies are listed in alphabetical order?
That one is still on my list. I've fixed and closed out over 100 bug reports in the last ten days, but there's still over 200 to go. :) You should be able to type the first few letters of the name of the character you want, though, and it will filter out characters that don't match, which will hopefully mitigate the annoyance of them not being in alphabetical order for now.

All I can say is thank you to everyone for having patience as I get to your bug reports. :)

Where do you want new suggestions to go? In the OAP group? Or back to using the main forums?

New suggestions should go on the suggestions forum, as we're slowly returning back to business as usual. :)

What will become of the OAP group now that 2.0 is released?

It will remain up and I'll continue to post occasional updates there as I close out the final planned features that I wasn't able to get to before launch hit. But it'll gradually be phased out :)

Are you still getting 96 emails a day?

No! The number has dropped dramatically. :D And most of the messages I wake up to now are responses to questions I've asked or thank yous over bug reports being closed rather than new issues (though there are still some of those mixed in too)

Has the wrong character URLs thing on the Community -> Characters page made the short list yet?

At least twice! I've looked at it a few times but didn't find an obvious fix, and each time ended up dropping it to respond to a more urgent bug reports that came in. >.>


So I am curious about the latency. It still seems to spike quite often. What has been the cause of it?

There's not a simple answer to this. It's been different things in different places. I suppose the simplest answer is: unnecessary database queries. I've been busily running around consolidating some queries and better caching others. I just wrapped up doing a few hours of that this morning, in fact.

I was actually wondering if you thought about the idea of people being able to post 'statuses' on their profiles. lots of people manually put 'RP status' (i.e. open/closed/caught up/etc) on their profiles but I think it would be a neat feature to have built in. possibly in a way so that people dont have to go into the full profile edit to change it.

I am happy to report that this is a planned feature! :D It actually came up in yesterday's office hour that it is one of my top two next priorities after the initial bug fixing crush is over.

I wanted to have it in at launch, but alas, couldn't quite get to it in time.

I just wanna say that I love the push notifications, they are so much faster and much more reliable. I get the pop ups on my phone and desktop instantly, its great. it beats waiting for an email or refreshing my browser xD

I can't even tell you how happy I am to hear that! Getting the push notifications to run reliably has been a constant struggle for years. It seems like we're finally getting it XD

What does Doubutt do the rest of the year when its not epic week?

Mostly walks into things and gets catastrophically lost. Also grazes. Horses need to graze a lot.

How does that work exactly since he has no head?

Your guess is as good as mine, honestly. ;)

Is there any way we are getting easier page or "menu" editing? The way we had previously was very simple and straight forward. The new way is a nightmare for large amounts of pages. I know there are a number of bug fixes to be done for it as of right now, but the current method is arduous for large amounts of pages.

I'm assuming we're mostly talking about group pages? The previous way did not work *at all* for a lot of people on certain devices, so we've had to move to a way that is conceptually simpler. I'm certain it will be improved on over time, but if the question is can we go back to the old way, the answer is no.

Are the group tags coming back to the character gallery at all?

Yes, it's on my list. I currently have about 200 bug reports on that list, so don't panic if it doesn't come back instantly ;)

A question on character profile editing...
Used to be able to ‘drag and drop’ widgets from one page to another by dropping it on the page menu. It doesn’t seem to work that way anymore. Am I missing something or is this a possible bug?

Yes and no. Since the dragging didn't work at all for people who used touch screen devices, I had to move to a different method. I *almost* finished that method, but didn't manage it before launch day, so it's just been turned off. It should be finished and turned back on relatively shortly, though. :)

in regards to character profiles, I find that adding widgets gets really frustrating because the widget button is at the bottom of the page and when you have a lot of rows it's a little annoying trying to move them up towards the top of the page if that's where you need them. it'd be nice if the rows had their own 'add widget' button.

That's definitely something I'd like us to have eventually! You might want to try the left/right buttons and see if that's any easier for you than dragging in the meanwhile? :)

Why can we not choose where a page will be put when adding a new page to a menu?

There's no reason why. We just can't right now. Since the vast, vast, vast majority of both characters and groups have less than five pages, it wasn't a launch priority as it effected so few people. I imagine this is one of those improvements time will bring us. :)

So, how are you holding up with all the hard work you've done on RPR 2.0, Kim?

Honestly, I'm starting to get pretty exhausted. I will definitely be taking some days off over x-mas. But I'm trying to get as many crucial bug and lag fixes in as a I can before then!

We used to have a little box at the top right if the feed page that told group admins when you had a mew application, one of my groups is currently sitting at 3 new applicants, one that came in after the launch but 2 from before. Is it a bug that it isn't showing yet or was this not a finished feature for launch?

This is definitely on the bug list! It might even come back today, it's getting pretty close to the top.

Is the purple googly eyed cupcake back for birthday people?
I think that's still on the bug fix list. DYK there's more cupcakes than just the purple googly-eyed one? ;)

I also keep finding accessibility things that make me go "OMG" because it makes everyone's lives better and I love it
We have a few members who use screen readers to browse the site who'd given me some GREAT feedback on 1.0. I tried really hard to take those things into account for 2.0.

there may be a bug report or two coming, but have to say they are becoming few and far between.
You are always welcome to send in more bug reports ;) We're going to whip this site back into full fighting shape ASAP together :D

Is it possible to get a list of the new features in rpr 2.0? 🤔

I mean, there's a partial list by checking out the OAP planned features forum and seeing what's been marked "complete." I honestly failed to capture everything that changed as I was doing it. Things like adding dropdown backups to the genre sliders in Find RP, for example, or adding breadcrumbs to most page titles, or re-organizing editing of groups with better sections and more intuitive/mobile accessible tabs... stuff like that was just done. >.>

I spent a few hours working on updating the help files yesterday. Still loads to do there, but I think that's going to result in a series of spotlight posts that will highlight some more of those changes over time as well.

Quick question while I’m trying to do something... if I have widget A on page 1 and it’s full of text or photos, and I want to move it to page 3 keeping it intact, what is the best way to move it? Text I can copy/paste to a new text widget on page :, but galleries are a bit difficult to do.

If I were you, I'd just wait until the "move" features gets turned back on ;)

Also, for any new ‘wants’ we have, should we continue to use the Phoenix group or go back to the forum ‘Suggestion’ forum?

The phoenix group will be gradually phased out as the plans for OAP are completed. For new desires, I'd say go back to the main Suggestion forum. :)

When editing styles for both profiles and groups we used to have a link that showed us the CSS for everything we can use and edit. This link was found in the "do not load original css" and original widget check boxes when making a new template. I found it to be super helpful when I started learning how to manipulate templates and edit and make my own. Is this something we can have back? It was so so useful.

Maaaaaybe. Probably. It's a little tricky to do now in that it's no longer just a single external file we can link to; a lot of it is now generated at the moment it's needed, in preparation for epic members being able to override things about default templates without needing to use any CSS to do so. But there are some workarounds we might be able to try to offer that again :)



December 23, 2019

Have a merry Christmas kim


December 23, 2019

What a beautiful moving inspiring post onion.


December 22, 2019

So awesome! That's really Kimpressive! :P


December 22, 2019

Hi! Kim's dad here.

I have watched Kim pour her heart into RPR over the years and lately Operation Audacious Phoenix. She asked the RP community for financial support of OAP. Kim, her mother and I were all very curious to see how much she would get. When she hit $2,000 dollars we were all so pleased. When she hit $13,000 dollars we were all astonished and super pleased. The RPR community has shown itself to be wonderfully supportive over the years. I am so grateful you showed your support financially too.

Kim was looking forward to using that money to support herself during OAP and to maybe slow down and do OAP and a relaxed pace.. She was already working so hard for her software clients. But Kim being Kim she was devoted to the project and worked herself really hard. She wanted to be worthy of the money you had given. She really needs a break at this point.

Having said how pleased and grateful I was for your support of her, I'd like to give you a little perspective on this amount. I'm a professional software engineer. The amount of work Kim has done would easily have taken $100,000 if a software firm were to do it. But a software firm could never do it as well as Kim. She knows the site and needs of the community so well. No firm could duplicate that. She did this renovation at a bargain basement price. However the quality was far from bargain basement it was spectacular.

Kim has been remarkably transparent about the process. After her fundraiser she could easily have gone dark while she was grinding away designing, coding and debugging. It would be understandable given she is just one person. There is no staff to help. Instead she kept everyone apprised of her status and was happy to answer questions about the status during office hours (like this one).

I know there is a big bug backlog, and not all features made it into the release. She's working hard to get through the bugs and finish adding the planned features. Again, I'm grateful for the support and patience you have shown her.

I have watched her software skills grow over the years. At this point I can't tell her anything she doesn't know. Lately, often, I would say "Have you considered so and so?" And she would cut me off because she was already on top of the issue. As a parent, this is what I want. I want my child to grow to the point of independence.

I can't tell you how proud of her I am.


December 21, 2019

Darn it! I missed them!
Good information here!
Thank you Kim!


December 21, 2019

It was a very enjoyable Q&A Kim! I didn't realise the Excellence kudos week was extended until I read this!
Stay Dry and take care of yourself!