Improv Wiki

I teased this is my last post, but now it’s live!

But what is it you, absolutely do not ask? Inquiring minds would like to know, is a thing no one has said about this.

Well, sit back, fair reader, and let me spin you a yarn you almost surely do not care about.

A long time ago in the year twenty-hundred and twelve I was helping to set up a website for the Purdue college improv group, The Ship of Fools. I was helping save their old site and their old wiki. It took a bit of doing, but it was brought back together with a lot of help.

The wiki portion turned out to be an invaluable resource outside of just Ship of Fool’s needs.

In improv, after a while you notice games are hard to manage. There are often several different names for the same game depending on the group, rules are forgot, or you just have a hard time coming up with stuff to fill a set list for a show. There is many uses for a central database for this information, but sadly, as The Ship of Fools changed hands the website went away and that info and tool and lost.

Luckily (knocks on every wood), I am paranoid about that stuff, and I think I mostly backed up that information. I definitely had a database snapshot when the site was first launched back in 2012, so for sure I have the initial crop of info.

The real news is that the website is now live! It exists at https://www.improvwiki.com

It is right now on the 2012 snapshot, but I will add more info from my backups going forward. It is closed off for editing right now, but I want to give this to other groups to fill in their info as well, or just use it as a resource.

Getting this site up was not “as pie” as I would like it to be. I would like it to have been several more clicks in the direction of “as pie”.

If you read a post ago, I rebuilt my web server I have running in the cloud. It’s a LEMP (Linux, NGINX, MySQL, PHP) server. My other one was out of date and needed to be rebuilt. This is normal. The problem is sometimes as the underlying infrastructure is updated it breaks old software packages.

This was what I was like for the SoF-Pedia (precursor to Improv Wiki). I had the newest version of MediaWiki (the software that powers Improv Wiki, and Wikipedia for that matter) running on my server, and tried to rebuilt the database then run an upgrade script. Well, nothing doing. I suspect it was just too many versions behind. To get the original site up, I decided to grab a version of Ubuntu from around 2012, as this would probably have the pre-compiled software packages of the versions of software to run the original incarnation. I downloaded VirtualBox and built a local VM of Ubuntu and configured it to run a local web server for the original website. It worked!

After that mess I had to figure out how to get those pages to the new wiki. My original thought was stepping through every version of MediaWiki and running the upgrade script until it eventually hit the latest version then doing a SQL dump of the database and re-importing that. This would almost surely work but be much more a hassle. I found there was an export page option. It is built into MediaWiki at least since that version, and outputs all selected pages as an XML file. You can then import those into any MediaWiki. The old version of MediaWiki that was used has an export page option, but you have to either select each category individually or type in every page. There might have been another way to do things, but I couldn’t find anything. After the export, I imported it, and that’s where Improv Wiki sits today.

I am going to be working on it when I get the time, but I hope someone or someones finds the content useful. I know I’ll. be using it.

Ad Liberation Alumni Show

Finally got around to editing this all together. There were parts missing, and I wanted to try to preserve it the best I could. I spliced in photos of the show taken from Sami’s mom to give context to the audio. It turned out OK. I’m at least glad to have what I have. The show was really fun though! Thanks for inviting us olds back to perform!

Ad Lib Sampler

I have been working on a project for a while (2-3 weeks) and it’s finally ready for public consumption (finally). So I’m in this improv group that I am sure I’ve mentioned before. Anyway, we wanted to incorporate music and sound into our shows, but not everyone knows how to play an instrument and we didn’t want people solely devoted to music. I pontificated on the matter for a while and decided to try to make a sampler-type thing. I wanted to program it myself because any program I could find wouldn’t let me customize it exactly as we needed it. I ended up using a program/language called Pd. It’s a graphical language that is geared specifically for audio. I also had a MIDI controller kicking around so I used that for input. This is what it looks like all labeled and stuff.

Here is the breakdown of what it does:

Pink keys are sound effects. Hit the key and it plays and left the key and it stops it immediately.

Orange keys are background sounds. Hit the key and it plays that sound and when you lift it will fade out. It will also loop the effect if it hits the end of the file.

Green keys are emotional music. If you hit the key it will play a randomly selected song in that emotion. Let go it will fade out. It will also loop the track if it hits the end.

Here is what some of the program looks like and I will release the source when I know I have all the bugs out of it (I don’t know of any that exist, but we will see)

The whole thing was a bear to figure out because I had to learn Pd first and the logic is much different from traditional programming languages which is what I knew. I also ran into problems with sample rates which caused the songs to play at double speed. The fix for that was converting every file to the same type of wave with the same sample rates. Anyway here is a video of it in action and it should be in use this Friday at our show which will be online at our website sometime next week.