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Finduo’s Developer Blog
6
Sep

Recent Activity

   Posted by: admin   in Uncategorized

Sorry I haven’t been around much, but I am back now and things are moving along nicely. A lot of new additions to the website will be released soon, as well as a face lift for the design. Thanks to everyone who has helped support FindUO and it’s development!

3
Dec

Image theft should be punishable …

   Posted by: admin   in Uncategorized

This post has been retracted due to changes in ownership.

3
Dec

the birth of finduo.com!

   Posted by: admin   in Uncategorized

Do you enjoy searchuo? Do you realize that you enjoy searchuo.com today because of finduo? Its true, I’ll show you why!

Lets go back a few years. I was considering doing a search engine a long time ago, before searchuo existed. This was back before vendors snapped to you when you opened up their backpacks. I never got around to finishing it (actually when they made the vendors snap back to you, it broke my search and I lost interest fixing it).

Some time passes, then a guy named Lee Caldwell from black snow sold scripts to two brokers: Mark who paid for half of the script fee, and Richard of UOResources.com who paid the other half. Mark used these scripts to create the original searchuo.com. He owned the domain name but uoresources.com was half owner.

I enjoyed the searchuo site and didn’t mind paying the subscription fees for it. I further lost interest in making my own search site because now there was already one. Back then, I was a smaller broker for UO gold. I had many friends who were brokers (Cybernickel and Majim of uoemporium.com, a Markee Dragon broker). At one point I was even a tradespot.net broker. So I heard many things about what happens behind the scenes with brokers.

Suddenly, it happened *gulp*. Searchuo.com went down. This was approximately November of 2006. This was the notice given on the searchuo.com website …

“At this time due to a system problem we are unable to add time to users account. Therefore until the problem is resolved we are not allowing any new signups. Sorry for the inconvenience and we are hoping to have the problem resolved ASAP. Thank you for your understanding.” - Mark on the searchuo.com homepage, November 2006.

You can verify this through the handy archive.org tool, go to archive.org, click on the “wayback machine”. Type in searchuo.com, and then check out the November 2006 entries. Sooooo let me get this straight, searchuo.com has the technology to run elaborate scripting to grab all the data from Luna and update it into a search engine, but they can’t figure out how to add time to people’s accounts? What the huh?

It was a lie. The part-owner of searchuo (Richard) was a friend of mine. He kept on updating my search time. However, Mark had made the decision that nobody was going to use the search anymore. He was phasing everyone out by telling them that he can’t figure out how to renew time on accounts. Why lie? His idea was that if he keeps searchuo.com all to himself for his own purposes, he will have a lock on all the artifacts, where to obtain items, and corner the market.

So here we are, everyone getting phased out of being able to use searchuo. Me too, I was having my account renewed, but how long would that last? I decided to start making my search engine again. Unfortunately, I have a very big mouth. I told Richard that I’m making my search engine again. Richard told Mark.

Then, voila!

“We will bring searchuo back on a trial basis. We had 100 people paying for searchuo and 5000 ips logging into those 100 accounts. Which means many guilds were sharring one account. From now on any account that has more then 1 ip logging in will be banned permanently no questions asked no reasons given.” - Mark on searchuo.com homepage December 25, 2006.

Yes, its true, the rumor of my competition brought searchuo.com back to life. It was still based on subscription, but wow gruuuuumpy! “All you freeloading UO players who dare try to use my site without paying me, I will ban you permanently!”.

Then I released my website in January of 2007. You can still see my baby finduo.com website on archive.org. Check out the first entry on archive.org, February 2007. My broker buddies Cybernickel and Majim of UO Emporium are listed there with me, Stubby Gnome. You can see my advanced search, allowing people to search for Armor, Weapons and Jewelry. Unfortunately, I still had a big mouth. I told Richard of uoresources.com what I was doing, that I have an advanced search, showed it off, and “my website is free! Free as in free beer! Nobody pays a single penny for my service! Peace and good will towards all UO Players!” Richard told Mark. I don’t blame Richard, its my fault that I had a big mouth. “I will have item sales inside my free search!”

Then, low and behold!

“SearchUO is FREE again!!” “Some exciting changes are planned for searchuo in the near future. Most we cannot reveal yet but the first is making the site free again. Please spread the word and enjoy it again and Im sure you are going to love the changes that will be coming soon :)” - searchuo.com homepage, February 12, 2007.

What took Mark of searchuo.com from grumpily exclaiming that all freeloaders will be shot on sight no questions asked (circa November 2006) to a free website for all to use (circa February 2007)? That would be me folks, Kevin of finduo.com. Me me meeee, searchuo is free because of me. I accept your thanks, you are very much welcome!

Necessity is the mother of invention. And innovation, and copy-cat behavior hehe. Every thing I said I would do, they did it in high gear for fear of competition. There’s no benefit to keeping searchuo.com info hidden from the masses (no chance of cornering the market) if players can just get all that info from another (my) site, so they went public again, and free.

I said to myself, I have a search engine I can use again! I’m really busy with work. (insert other excuses here) I set finduo.com aside again and forget about it. Ten months go by.

Then in November of 2007, searchuo went down again. Mark was enjoying his new “free” structure but having price tags on all the items found. Enjoying it so much that he wanted to enjoy it all to himself, he kicked out UOResources’ Richard. They had purchased the scripts for a very small amount (if I remember correctly, they paid approximately $1000 for the searchuo scripts). Half that was paid by Mark, half was paid by Richard. Now that the site had grown in popularity, Mark gives Richard his half ($500) back and tells him that he’s no longer a broker of searchuo (Marked owned the domain and there was nothing UOResources could do about it except sue, apparently decided it wasn’t worth the effort). This caused alot of turmoil for Mark to get set back up, and searchuo was down for at least a month, either entirely broken or mostly unusable.

Folks, I don’t like being without a search engine for UO. It makes finding items very tedius. Searchuo being down for a month caused me to finish up finduo.com. I released it January 1st, 2008.

So to summarize everything … Not one single improvement has ever happened at searchuo.com that wasn’t directly influenced by me. Not one. You name it, the fact that they were free, their advanced searching, etc. … me.

Would you UO players have enjoyed searchuo.com from October 2006 through today without my direct assistance? Answer: no.
Would the owner of searchuo have the success they have today without me pushing them into the “free” model, funded by item sales? Answer: no. (But something tells me he’s not very appreciative of me hehe.)

Today, finduo.com is far superior. Compare for yourself and see there is no comparison.

Hey everyone. I wish I could have said this sooner, the new mapping for finduo classic is finished and in. I’ve been telling everyone I’d update mapping for a while, so I appreciated your patience while I worked on that. It wasn’t a simple task. If you notice, the mapping is alot larger now, the old was 400 pixels wide, the new is 500 … so its 20% larger than before!

This is actually a drastic change for my old mapping system, I had to do alot of complex math again to make everything line up properly (it doesn’t help that I hadn’t touched that code since last May).

That leaves the matter of Tokuno to deal with (for finduo classic). I’m considering adding a 2nd page and having that only search Tokuno (this will keep the classic search alot more classic, importing all those graphics will add alot of lag and I think thats one of the problems some people were having with the New Search).

The new images are in too, they are the purplish background images (as opposed to the brownish ones from the old image system, there were about 2500 of those). I was going to throw the mini icons in too but then decided to keep it as classic as possible.

Next project: I’ve got alot of serious market data to put together in fun and creative ways that I’m sure you will all just love. Watch for that within about a week!

Have a great weekend and thanks for using Finduo!

20
Nov

Outer Luna Scanned, Revisiting Finduo Classic

   Posted by: admin   in Uncategorized

Hey there. Outer Luna is entirely scanned now, if you own a home or vendor outside Luna city walls, it should be in finduo now. If its not, there’s a forum for that here. Post the x and y coords and the shard, describe the house a little bit, it will get added asap and I will post a response to it being added.

Regarding the classic search, I’ve received alot of feedback. Of course many people love the new search, but there are way more than I had expected that prefer the classic search. Two good friends told me they prefer the classic search. I wasn’t intending to touch the source of that again, but now I’m revisiting it all. Within a day or two I will have the new 30,000 image set plugged into the classic search. I will also import the greater luna area homes into it. A more challenging issue is going to be handling the mapping for Tokuno. I had originally stated I wasn’t going to add Tokuno housing to the finduo classic, now I will be adding Tokuno.

I’m not sure why people like the old search better, is it because you think its faster? Is it just what you’re used to? Do you prefer the mapping to be really large? Is it less graphically laggy? Take the poll and let me know, because I was considering making a lo-fi search and I want to make sure I’m designing this all so you guys will love it.

9
Nov

Defender anyone?

   Posted by: admin   in defender

This Defender game is my new solitaire. I’ve mastered the Miner’s Cave, my next target is Green Acres, I haven’t beat it yet but I will sooner or later. If you haven’t tried the new defender game, check it out here, its alot of fun!

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9
Nov

Exciting changes coming soon!

   Posted by: admin   in finduo improvements

Hey everyone, I wanted to give an update what is going on with finduo.

I haven’t quite done the scanning for new vendor homes yet, I should get to that within a few days. Right now homes / vendors are automatically added if they’re inside Luna or inside Tokuno, the outer Luna areas I have to add manually and I haven’t done that yet. I have to get the new store working (making money with finduo to pay the bills is important!) Soon as I get it done I’ll be focusing on content again.

Monkey-see-monkey-do? I started a forums, and part of the forums has trading boards. I didn’t know if anyone wanted to use them or not, I’ve been thanked in the trading forums (You’re welcome Oceania!) but I haven’t seen anyone actually use them yet. Its funny that the other search site copied my unused forums within 2 days after I introduced them. Interestingly enough, he’s also copied the fact that mine aren’t used (chuckles) as it appears nobody is using them, even though they are highly promoted on his homepage.

There are many improvements coming soon! First the store, next the scanning of outer Luna areas. Then I have something big coming that you are will totally love! Hopefully I can roll it out within 2 weeks. I’ll keep it secret so that monkey-see-monkey-do-boy can’t start trying to copy it until its live.

Thanks all for your support of finduo! I will keep you up to date with the progress of finduo here. In the meantime, (until the store gets finished) I appreciate everyone to use the old search, main homepage of finduo.com to place your orders for UO Gold. Thanks again everyone and will write again soon!

- Kevin, designer of finduo.com

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2
Nov

Donations for Dinner

   Posted by: admin   in Philippines

I spend alot of time working on finduo.  My fiancee (soon to be married on December 8th) is much more understanding of me putting long hours into the site when I take her out to dinner occasionally.

You can help finduo’s development, I’ll be certain to take Elizabeth out to dinner for every $15 donation! She will, in turn, lend me an extra few hours to program for finduo. :-)

You may be wondering, $15? Where could you possibly have a dinner for 2 for $15 except McDonalds? Last March I moved to the Philippines, and $15 actually goes a very long ways here! In fact, this will cover for the most Expensive restaurant in town. Thanks again for supporting finduo, any donation is appreciated!

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Its been a long time that I’ve been working on this latest version of finduo.  I think I introduced the greater Luna area search sometime around April.  Its been about 7 months that I’ve been tweaking the code, also sharpening my skills in web design once again.

There’s alot of work under the cover of the new finduo.  Here’s a list of the new features implemented:

  • We have images, alot of images.  Sometime in March of 2008 we introduced images of uo items and the list was approximately 2,500 images (and wow that was alot of work).  This latest version, we have over 30,000 images, as well as 30,000 mini icons!  After I extracted the images, I had photoshop run filters on the images and it took a day and a half of processing before they were completed!
  • I developed some new software to extract overhead images of housing.  Yes I know, I’ve been going long periods of time without actually updating the pictures of homes.  Thats all fixed now, I can literally snapshot images of homes as quickly as it takes me to run around!
  • I added Tokuno to the search.  The comps I use for scanning have doubled.  Anyone in Tokuno city will have their vendors automatically added to the index.
  • We’ve integrated a wonderful Ultima Online themed free flash game into the website!  Its called UO Defender.  Special thanks to Noxin for branding Defender for finduo.com.  I’ve been guilty of playing this game for hours on end, I’m happy I can do this on my own website now!
  • The search has improved.  I rewrote the routines for extracting data, its more accurate now without sacrificing speed.  Stray items that didn’t make it into the index are there now.
  • New commodities search!  It actually sorts by price per commodity, regardless of the cost of the deed!  Its always been inconvenient to me to search for commodities and having to do the math to get the best deal.  That’s all fixed now!
  • I had to come up with a new solution for mapping that wasn’t quite so screen-real-estate-intensive.   With adding Tokuno, I needed to adjust things so I could instantly swap between shards as well as facets.  The mapping is more awesome than ever, it now can zoom in to the exact pixel a vendor is standing on.
  • New blog and forums!  I have to admit, I’m an old dog that doesn’t like learning new tricks.  I’ve been doing websites for over 12 years now, and whenever it comes to design, my first instinct is always to write something from scratch.  A good friend of mine prodded me to learn some new software and I’m glad that I did.  After much research I settled on Simple Machine Forums for the forums and Wordpress for the blog.  (I would have selected vbulletin but its a little pricey for me at the moment).
  • News!  Yes, we have news now.  I’ve automated the process so within an hour of EA posting news it should show up on the forums for you to comment on.
  • Believe it or not, we’ve only just begun the improvements!  But I’ll leave whats coming up soon for another post.

Thanks to everyone who buys Ultima Online gold from us.  I love programming finduo for a living and these gold purchases help me live a very happy life (love my job)!  I will keep everyone up to date with new changes here soon, in the meantime thanks for using finduo!

Kevin, aka Stubby Gnome
finduo.com programmer

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