ZBB is back

The ZBB is back.

The brief story: Bluehost upgraded the scripting software, php. The forum software, phpbb, doesn’t work with the new php. Bluehost did not bother to inform clients about the upgrade, and only of three reps I talked to even understood the issue. And they didn’t seem to know what phpbb was.

On the plus side: it was clear what to do, namely upgrade phpbb. This went smoothly enough, though it was tedious and took most of the afternoon. Bonus, I have a FTP client now that I know works.

ZBB ongoing…

I heard from Bluehost. The good news: they finally did the restore. The bad news: it doesn’t help.

But, this rep was slightly more on the ball than the others. She said that they had upgraded php, the scripting software the board uses, and that was causing things to break. It would have been nice to get some warning about this, or for other reps to be informed, but whatevs.

The obvious next step is to upgrade the phpbb software. I’ve downloaded the latest version and unzipped it, but I still have to mess with getting it onto the server. If you hear muffled cursing over the next few days, that’ll be me.

Edit: Looks like I got FTP to work. Kind of. Too tired to work on it now though.

ZBB troubles

For those who are smart enough to check here for news…

The ZBB was down since yesterday. Bluehost was of little help; I think the first rep I talked to didn’t understand that phpBB is a program Bluehost supports. I called back and asked them to restore the website from a backup taken last week. They don’t seem to have gotten to that yet.

Now, their support did point to a particular file, deep within phpbb, that was causing the error. Alert user bradrn pointed out that his version (from incatena.org) didn’t match. It looked like a change I had made to that file years ago was suddenly causing an error. I removed the change and lo and behold, the board is visible again.

But, bad news: it’s still borked. In particular, posting is broken, which makes it pretty unusable. A bunch of minor things look wrong too.

I am going to let them do the restore, at the cost of losing a week’s worth of posts. Maybe that will fix things.

If that doesn’t work, I will probably have to upgrade phpBB, which is about as much fun as dental work, only you can’t get Novocaine.

Obenzayet and Almea+400

First, if you haven’t seen it, I finally finished the Obenzayet grammar. I started it around 1997– much of the lexicon was already visible on the Proto-Eastern page, but now you can see what a Naviu grammar looks like.

I’ve been steadily doing stuff over on my Patreon. Here’s a teaser: a map of Ctesifon at its height in 1750.

Here’s a list of what I’ve done so far on the Patreon:

  • An essay on the Cadinorian constitution
  • An essay on the Verdurian constitution (these two together are about 70 pages)
  • A timeline of future technology
  • Modern Verdurian terms (this is now on my website)
  • An essay on how to write fantasy given that most actual historical kings and kingdoms were appalling
  • The new base map of Lebiscuri
  • A grammar of Bhöɣetan, the first known language from Lebiscuri
  • A map of the Verdurian subway system as of 3625
  • An architectural diagram from my Middle East book, and a quick tutorial on how to do stuff like that in Illustrator
  • The Obenzayet grammar (it appeared there first)
  • Ongoing: A series of historical maps of Ctesifon, from ancient times into The Future. This will be part of the archeology section of Almea+400.

So, a lot goes on there, and it’ll keep going on. Plus, people ask interesting questions and point out all my typos. Sign up to see these and more!

If you can’t, that’s fine too– eventually most of this stuff will be available on my website, or as a companion volume to the print Historical Atlas.

Almea+400 and Patreon

I have a new project, Almea+400. I’ve been working on Almea for forty years, and for all that time Almea has stayed in the year 3480. No more! The new project is to tell what happened next— for the next four hundred years.


Queen Tilye, 3496

This takes us through the equivalent of the modern era, and well into science fiction territory. I already have an outline of the history, and I think some really interesting things are going to happen.  Or have happened. I am not sure what tenses are appropriate here.

You’ll also notice that I have a Patreon now. This is to support not only Almea+400 but all my writing projects. Basically, I earn a scant living as a writer, but it’s pretty darn scant, and any support would help me keep going. (The pandemic hasn’t really damaged my income so far— but my wife lost her job due to it, so that doesn’t help.) Naturally I understand that most of you won’t be able to join, and that’s OK. I do really appreciate those who already have!

If you’re curious or worried, I’m also still working on the Middle East Construction Kit. In fact, one of the next steps is to go back to the sketch of Sumerian there.



SCA2: now with file support

I made a few changes to the Sound Change Applier.

First, files should be supported. That is, you can now download your work to a file, and upload it back into SCA².  You can include the input lexicon or not.

(I use the download attribute on browsers that support it, and another method for Explorer and Edge.  Hopefully it’ll work on your browser.)

Second, you can now have intermediate results. E.g. you could generate Old Ibero-Romance and then Portuguese with the same sound changes.  (Basically: add the special rule -* at the appropriate place in your sound changes. You can add a descriptive name after it.)

See the help file for details on both changes.

The Langmaker book

I’m about to order the proof copy of Langmaker: Celebrating Conlangs, by Jeffrey Henning. But I’m not Jeffrey Henning!  What’s going on?

Well, Jeffrey decided (and it’s about time) to put out his material from Langmaker as a book. He asked me to edit and design the book, and it’s almost done.

Back in the early 2000s, there were two websites that the aspiring conlanger certainly had bookmarked: mine and Langmaker.com.  Jeffrey was interested in all kinds of conlangs, and there were all sorts of ways to get involved: get your conlang listed, translate the Babel Text, submit a neologism, etc.  And then, around 2008, the database got corrupted, and no one knew how to fix it, and the site sadly perished.

The book contains most of the essays and reviews Jeffrey wrote for the site, plus a bunch of his conlangs.  (Except for the lexicons.  They’re one of his specialties, really, and worth a close look… but they’d make the book 2000 pages long.  I will host them a bit later.) (We tried to buy the Langmaker domain back for that, but it wasn’t available.)

We also included the “Conlangs at a Glance” section of the site, a list of historical and contemporary conlangs compiled by Jeffrey or submitted by readers. I spruced this section up to make it more informative.  I think it’s a useful snapshot of conlanging as of 2005 or so, and if that means it includes a lot of people’s first conlangs, that’s just how it was.

Edit: Oh! While I was adding the book page, I got rid of the Google ads on my home page. They are bringing in so pitifully little that they’re not worth the annoyance. I’m hoping to get up a Patreon instead.



Hanying Alphabet

There was one last thing to do for Hanying, and it’s done: an alphabet.  (With bonus mini-rant about SF font design.)


Best of all, it comes with an actual font.  Turns out FontLab is selling its cheapest font tool, TypeTool, for just $48, so now I have a font program again.  It’s the descendant of Fontographer, the program I used to use, so I could get up to speed very easily. And it hasn’t crashed yet, which Fontographer was prone to.


When Against Peace and Freedom came out, I promised to create a conlang if I sold 200 copies.  That goal was reached awhile back; in fact the total now stands at 346. (Which is still, well, suboptimal. The LCK, by contrast, has sold over 10,000 copies.)


But no matter, I decided to create Hanying, the language of Areopolis, and it’s finally done!  In fact, you really get three languages for the price of one:

  • Old Hanying, the English-Chinese pidgin that develops later in this century
  • Hanying Creole, the creole of a hundred years later, largely relexified from Brazilian Portuguese
  • Modern Hanying, the descendant of those languages 2700 years later, in Morgan’s time

Here’s a quick comparison. First, Old Hanying, where you can see the English and Chinese roots directly:

Xuputi xwo Fat “Xirtsun, bai kamyen, yo ženmin ma, dei meibi tiŋ dis xik, dei zhende xinren?”
Subhūti say Buddha / (World-lord), in future / have people Q / they maybe hear this teach / they true believe
Xirtsun represents Mandarin shìzūn and did not catch on in general.
Subhūti said to the Buddha, “Lord, will there be people who, hearing these teachings, have real faith in them?”

Next, Hanying Creole, which introduces many Portuguese words:

Xuputi xo ButaDonu, vo ta žẽči ke, tiŋ dis xik da ae sĩ krer da?”
Subhūti say Buddha / lord / future have people Q / hear this teaching sub and yes believe sub

And finally Modern Hanying, where sound change has ruined everything, and a mass of agglutinated verb particles have fused to form an intimidating verbal complex:

Subuti ləzešó soʔ Boz, “Orad, ləyoméžai uyeʔ lesəd šeso ləyozíŋar jerə ləyokəyér kæš?
Subhūti 3-past-say to Buddha / honored / 3-fut-irr-exist pl-person this teaching 3-fut-hear-sub true 3-fut-believe-sub and

Still to come: the 50th century alphabet.