We're not out of the woods yet...

22.11.2020

art by Zdzisław Beksiński

It’s a bit of a long one folks. I’m going to try and make up for my gap in updates with one big update. Quantity over quality, am I right? I’m pretty sure that’s what they say.

Urania Update

As I indicated a couple of posts back: my time is currently split between work that pays me, and work that doesn’t (like Urania). I said in that post that my current contract engagement was ending in mid-Nov, however, it turns out I did good work and my client wants me to take on new work, which I have agreed to. However, I continue to make progress on Urania, if at a slightly slower clip.

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Tax? I’m guessing it’s tacks, because why would tax be brass? Anyway, where are things at? Well, thanks for asking. Very kind.

Settings

After spending quite a bit of time trying to UX my way out of implementing a settings menu, I’ve finally caved and implemented a settings menu.

There are essentially three kinds of settings in Urania: ones that the user will likely change frequently, ones that the user will rarely change, and ones somewhere in the middle. Let me give some examples.

In a lot of astrology software, date and time are static settings. This is the old-school model of natal chart casting because, normally, a person’s birth date doesn’t change. This is what you find at astro.com, for example. You put in a date, and you get a chart. If you want to change the date, you have to navigate away from the chart, change the date, and then click a button to re-cast the chart. Urania, however, treats date and time as something that is updated frequently without having to leave the chart. That’s why it’s right up front in an obvious and handy location.

By contrast the default location setting, i.e. the latitude and longitude you want charts to use by default, rarely changes. That’s why there’s now a settings dialog which allows you to set, or change, the default location and then not have to look at it again. Changing a chart’s location is up front and obvious with a control that is just below the date and time controls, however, the default location is a setting that is hidden most of the time. The location control is also tied to the Asc, MC and houses. If houses aren’t shown then the location controls aren’t either.

Then there’s the settings in the middle. For example, I’m including two house systems in Urania for the first version: whole-sign, and Placidus. The question is: how frequently is one likely to change the house system? My first thought was that users would either use one house system or the other, and rarely change it. However, when I started playing around with it myself, I found that switching between the two systems on-the-fly was actually really useful. So changing the house system is in that middle settings bucket, which has it’s own there-when-you-need-it-but-hidden-when-you-don’t area of the UI.

All that to say, I’m doing my best to create an experience of engaging with astrology that puts the frequently updated stuff up-front, the less-frequently updated stuff in a handy location that doesn’t require context switching, and the rarely updated stuff in a discoverable out-of-the way location.

Closing Out 2020

I would like to share a quick reading I did in the context of nearing the finish line of 2020 and the last of the major outer-planet conjunctions with Saturn conjunct Jupiter on the 21st of December.

Chariot-Moon-Temperance

Mr. Patriarchy, festooned in the finest festoonery, guides his majestic chariot forward harnessing the power of his well heeled horses that, while generally not fond of each other, have nonetheless been yoked to a common purpose. Mr. P. is the symbol of proud progress with his dreamy blond hair, fancy scepter, and sassy hip thrust.

Hang on a sec.

Is this chariot sound? I mean, it seems like it’s a functioning chariot doing things chariots do. But what is going on with those wheels? They are all catawampus. And what is happening at the bottom of this thing? Seriously, it’s a mess down there.

“But look at this fancy scepter,” says Mr. P.

It is a fancy scepter, plus, he’s so cool and collected. Mr. P. has it all under control. There is nothing to worry about. Everything is going swimmingly. These horses? Entirely under control.

Next scene

HOLY SHIT THE HORSES HAVE GONE MAD. They weren’t in control at all, Mr. P. lied, and now they have torn themselves from the cart and gone completely crazy! To make matters worse, Mr. P. wasn’t even real, he was just a shadowy projection that now spurs the howling beasts on. Meanwhile, a horrifying monster of the deep begins to emerge, called up by the chaos. The horsedogs bark and howl at reflections and shadows. Each defends its own tower against imaginary threats. All has turned to lunacy!

Things look grim. The monster of the deep is about to rise and eat everyone and everything. The horsedogs are too busy barking at shadows to see the lurking horror about to snatch them up in its claws. The monster is licking its lips, or its chelicerae, or whatever eating mouth parts it has. It’s REAL hungry.

But then!

Just before the monster can fully arise and devour everyone and everything, Lady Temperance enters the scene.

“I leave for five minutes to get lunch, and look what happens,” she says. She transforms the howling beasts into beautiful chalices, restoring each to its former color, then shows everyone how to share and get along. The monster of the deep gets bored and scurries back down to the depths to play cards with its primordial chaos monster bridge buddies.

The End

Moral of the story: Temperance has a gift to share, and it’s how we move forward from here.