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June 2005 Archives

June 1, 2005

Chainsaw Rampage of the Technical Difficulties of Death

... Any of you who are waiting for comics hosted by the Webhost Currently Known as Keenspace But Soon To Be Known As Something Else: don't wait up. With over 6500 comics still in the updater queue as I type this, it could be a while before everything updates.
The new Courtly Manners is available in a few other places: why not go to the Webcomicsnation mirror to help test that a little?

Continue reading "Chainsaw Rampage of the Technical Difficulties of Death" »

June 4, 2005

I could exterminate a whole box of those

One more in the build-your-own-Dalek series: living_yen at the Livejournal New Who community has spent her afternoon playing Davros, building Daleks out of goo, chocolate and English Licorice Allsorts. I could do without the latter, but two out of three still looks pretty tasty. I'm sure someone will come up with a recipe that doesn't include the yucky candy.

Continue reading "I could exterminate a whole box of those" »

The God in the Machine

... there is one.

A very uneven episode otherwise, but it's not often that Deus Ex Machina is more than just a way of resolving a plot withing 45 minutes.

I am no fan of the Slitheen, but in "Boom Town", the one remaining member of the family was a bit more effective than the ones that we say in "Aliens of London"/"World War 3".
Also, I don't think they're quite as naff as they've been made out to be in the fan community. Doctor Who caters to the general public, not just the rabid fans, and if, as I read somewhere, kids in British schoolyards are playing Slitheen by pretending to zip their heads open, then that's mission accomplished as far as the producers are concerned.

One Slitheen, like one Dalek, is more interesting, though, than a whole pack of them, and "Margaret Blaine" got some good psychology in. Like the Dalek, she got to argue her side of the story, painting the Doctor as no better than her. Unlike the Dalek, she remained a deceptive manipulator right until the end. Then again, as the trailer for next week indicates, maybe that was also true for the Dalek. I do fear that next week's episode will turn out to be a bit rubbish. It looks like all the speculation about "Anne Droid" and the Reality TV stuff was true, which could make for a very naff 45 minutes, Daleks or no Daleks. Or maybe not.

But oh, for that God in the Machine. Don't worship it, you'd never get a day off.

Continue reading "The God in the Machine" »

June 5, 2005

This month's free items

This month's freebie from the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan archive at Modern Tales is The Weakest Lunkhead from 2001. It references The Weakest Link just like next week's Who episode (confirmed in the trailer that was broadcast yesterday).
Speaking of Who, the Filler storyline in which he made an appearance still hasn't been cleaned off the ROCR site, but I may do so any moment now. Take a look before it disappears behind the subscription wall.

June 6, 2005

Cool background stuff

Look at today's Liliane, Bi-Dyke:

One of the props Liliane is holding is Linda and Stern's King and King! Linda de Haan works practically right next door to me and I've mentioned the controversy in the US about King and King before, in the very early days of this blog. It's always nice to see them get props.

In Coldest Type: Crack Addiction in Book Publishing

This at American Digest is one of those articles that you need to know about in case you might need it later, especially if you do creative work that you might want to publish in print some day. The AD author reminisces about a book he worked on with writer Len Shatzkin, concerning stupid, crazy sales and marketing practices in the book publishing world. Reading it reminded me of a saying I read many years ago: "Before enlightenment, sweep floors. After enlightenment, sweep floors."

Continue reading "In Coldest Type: Crack Addiction in Book Publishing" »

Dinosaurs rule the earth once more - birds extinct

Dinosaur jr, a name from way back when. Back in the days when I was a little sk8er boy, this was one of the favorite bands around. Tonight I saw them live, at the Vera-club: their first gig since they re-united. They huffed and puffed and blew the house down! Bit older, lot greyer, they captivated the audience (very little young-uns) from the start. Their mix of punk, rock, metal and americana and good songmanship with a lot of distortion made me realize that this one of the key bands of the late eighties and early nineties. They have such a distinct sound, though I couldn't whistle a single one of their songs, do know how to write them. A good time was had by all, the band including.
Suicidal Birds opened for them. I hadn't heard of them before. A punk-rock band, with a female lead singer and female guitarist, that's something that grabs my attention of the bat. Turns out they're from Frysia, which is something I wouldn't have guessed, they have a very mature and international sound. The singer, responsible for all songs, drives the songs, and drives them well, Indy 500 well, as far as I'm concerned. A tough job, opening for a huge band like Dinosaur jr, being a complete unknown, they did very well. I hope (and expect) to hear more from them!

June 7, 2005

Work update

Good news about the buffer and the side projects! I'm making great progress. Here's what I've been up to:

Continue reading "Work update" »

He's an uncharismatic stuffed shirt who looks like Harry Potter. But he also has his bad side.

There is some sort of diplomatic row going on between the Belgian and Dutch governments. The Belgian foreign secretary, Karel de Gucht, called the Dutch Prime Minister a mix of Harry Potter and middle-class stuffed-shirtedness, a man in whom I cannot detect any trace of charisma. This scandalised the Dutch Cabinet, who called the Belgian ambassador on the carpet for a good old-fashioned flogging. It also seems to have scandalised the Belgians, or so it said on Dutch radio although the Belgians in my coterie of minions hadn't heard of the whole controversy. Then again, they gave the impression that they'd be more surprised if De Gucht ever took his foot out of his mouth.
It didn't scandalise the Dutch population nearly as much. Apparently, the popular Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that 80% of those surveyed agreed with the substance of De Gucht's comments. And De Telegraaf is a right-leaning paper whose readership one would normally expect to broadly support the current government.

What can I say? Mr. Balkenende is a stuffed shirt, a goody-two-shoes without charisma. That's why we elected him. I know that we're live in the era of the short attention span, but for heaven's sake, the year 2002 isn't ancient history. I'll recap for the benefit of the crack-addled baboons who have allowed this non-item to dominate the news cycle (this includes members of the Dutch government):

Continue reading "He's an uncharismatic stuffed shirt who looks like Harry Potter. But he also has his bad side." »

June 9, 2005

Some more art stuff

Two more updates in the DeviantArt gallery. One of them is a familiar piece: the cast image for the Fire Elf from "The Corby Tribe", shown this time at a larger scale and cropped a little differently from earlier versions of the same image.
Kel with dragonBut while looking for the source image for that one on my hard drive, I found another image that I'd all but forgotten about. It's a cover image for the Night of the Dragon story. I think it was made in 2001, when I had plans to put out a print collection of the short Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan stories from the mid-1990s. That collection never materialised, just like many other ideas for new print editions of Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan; I was not, and still am not, willing to put in the work unless I'm sure it can sell and make a serious difference to my income from doing Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. But I did find the time to draw some cover art; today, I don't remember whether or not I even showed it to anyone. Here it is though, now.

June 10, 2005

How not to write ad copy for Google ads

Do I even need to bother to make the snarky joke here? I don't need training for this! I'm as skilled in the art of procrastination as a person could possibly be.

Which is more than I can say about the copywriting skills of whoever came up with this one. I know it's tricky to get it right in so little space, but honestly.

A webdesign problem...

Starting next week, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan will feature graphics that are 800 pixels wide. Adapting the current website layout, sidebars and all, to that is doable, but leads to a problem with the archives, in which there are comic graphics that are 650 pixels wide, 550 pixels wide, 480 pixels wide...widening the content area to fit 800-pixel graphics will leave big ugly gaps on those archive pages.
This is solvable in many ways. I may return to liquid layout, get rid of the sidebar (putting most of the links contained therein into the area below the comic), or find a way to hide the whitespace in the archives. I may even publish larger versions of the oldest comics although I'd recommend against holding your breath waiting for that to happen.
I have a hard time imagining a liquid layout that doesn't annoy people while moving between pages in the archives. I think I have a basic design that will retain two-column layout, but I may run into difficulties. I'll spend Saturday and maybe Monday trying things out - the site may look a bit funny although most of my testing will take place in a specially-built Movable Type site. The new layout has to go live on Wednesday, so I'm well overdue working on it.
I know that there are people out there with strong opinions, so if you fancy commenting on important webdesign issues or giving advice, feel free to post on the forum or email me at reinder@despammed.com.

Continue reading "A webdesign problem..." »

June 11, 2005

Bad Wolf

... now that was actually rather gripping. It could have been the one where we fans would all gather around in an angry mob, descending on Russel T. Davies' house to set his testicles on fire, and believe me, I was not the one who made that phrase up.

But it wasn't. For all the potential awfulness of having the episode set in a TV station broadcasting twisted caricatures of The Weakest Link, What Not To Wear and Big Brother, it worked. And the slow introduction of the Enemy Who Must Not Be Named worked as well and was a credit to Joe Ahearne's direction. Plus a few bona-fide scares including the moment when Rose gets a face full of disintegrator ray - all in all it had me on the edge of my seat even though I'd had much of it spoiled in the weeks before the episode went on air.

It's not quite the one where we gather in an ecstatic crowd to strew Russell T. Davies' path with rose petals and offer him sexual favours either, though. It's only the first half of a two-parter, the second part of which which still has the potential to be testicle-arson-inducingly awful. We'll see how the leader of the Enemy Who Must Not Be Named turns out to be interpreted this time around. One week 'till judgment day!

June 13, 2005

A quick note on webdesign

The new webdesign on rocr.net was ready to go live earlier than expected (now that's a change), but there are a few things that still need to be fixed.
The work was actually rather fun (another surprise), but I do count webdesign as one activity that I shouldn't do for too long at a time. Today, I snapped at a reader who emailed me with questions and screenshots which showed that it looked very different for him than it did for me. Eventually, it turned out that this was simply a matter of the reader reloading the stylesheet, but my reaction showed that it was time to get away from the redesign project for a while. It's functional, tested in Opera, Firefox and (buuerk) IE. I expect that recent, reasonably standards-compliant web browsers won't have much trouble showing the site, and people using other browsers may notice some oddities below the fold if they bother to look, but nothing that breaks the core function of the website: to show the latest comics and the free archives.

I do wish I could figure out how to close the gap between the blog and the link list, though. Expanding the dimensions or the padding on any of the blocks involved has the effect of pushing the blog out of its place in the middle on at least one browser, which is not what I want. I suspect it's very simple, but I don't see it.

Apart from that, I don't think I need to do much except copyfitting: cutting down the space for the blog and lengthening the two other columns. That's doable.

Fan art

Courtly Manners has got its first piece of fan art! Dig this pencil drawing of Krakatoa in low-rise riding breeches with riding crop by trusty guest artist Yonaka Yamako. As I write this, Yonaka is having some trouble with her websites so no linkback for now, but I'll fix it in the Gallery entry itself when she comes up from under.
There are two other Yonaka pieces in the Fan Art Section, (Update: link corrected) by the way, both from the earlier guest weeks.

June 14, 2005

Republication of "The Stone of Contention" press release

The following press release just went on Comixpedia. Feel free to copy and spread around:

Webcomics history returns - The Stone of Contention comes back online after 10 years.

The next storyline in the long-running webcomic Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan is a piece of webcomics history: the early story "The Stone of Contention"was one of the first story-based comics to be published online. Lost to online readers for many years, it is now coming back in a remastered, retranslated, relettered version.

Continue reading "Republication of "The Stone of Contention" press release" »

Get Medieval

Via Bo Lindbergh, Get Medieval is pretty funny, sort of like a Narbonic set in the 14th Century. It's a bit unfortunate that it's published on Livejournal instead of on a website structured to support serial webcomic publishing, but the artist has done a decent job in letting the Livejournal interface get out of the way, so the comic can be followed. The link goes to the first episode, by the way.

June 17, 2005

Things you have to know

Ursula Vernon has a Deviant Art site with lots of cool stuff on it. Once you've rushed to that site to gaze on her imaginative, stylish art, come back here.

Back? Good. I wanted to point out one piece in particular, to wit, this one:

A nice old lady with an axe

This image is proof that great minds think alike, although it also proves that some great minds are better at getting their ideas into concrete form than others. Those of you who are already familiar with the cast of The Stone of Contention, whether through reading it online in the mid-90s or through reading the print version from the same period, will notice that the Orcish Warrior Woman Ruby Elfgutter painted by Ursula is very similar in personality and appearance (well.... conceptually at least) to Ghrghuha the Gnomian Warrior Woman from "Contention". Ursula's creation has shades of Nanny Ogg in her, which I thoroughly approve of as well.

I wish I could draw like that. Heck, I wish I could afford to hire Ursula for a story or two.

There's plenty in that gallery that I haven't seen yet, so I'll spend some more of my idle time (of which there's been quite a lot this past week as I'm winding down my activities in preparation for a vacation) cyberstalking herperusing her works.

June 20, 2005

Godmoding against the end boss

Suddenly I hear the phrase "Deus ex Machina" everywhere. Even Sean Alexander at Behind the Sofa Again complains that "Parting of the Ways" contained not one, but two of them.
Overuse of Deus ex Machina resolutions (which is practically any use of them) has been a problem in the Doctor Who episodes that Russel T. Davies has written himself, but now people are seeing two where there were none, and this has to stop. Spoilers (and swearing) from here.

Continue reading "Godmoding against the end boss" »

Really, one Ig Nobel is enough...

A few years ago, Groningen-based scientist Pek van Andel won an Ig Nobel prize for his paper Magnetic resonance imaging of male and female genitals during coitus and female sexual arousal. The criteria for the Ig Nobel allow for scientifically sound papers to qualify if the idea is crazy enough, which this was.
Of course, as enlightening as Dr. van Andel's study was (and it did correct some misconceptions about what exactly goes on with the male and female genitals during coitus), focusing on the genitals only will only get you so far. This study could be seen as sort of a follow-up: the researchers have used PET scans to figure out what happens in a woman's brain during orgasm. Turns out bits of it get switched off. This will be a comedy writers' goldmine, I'm sure.

June 23, 2005

This takes the entire roll of biscuits!

Professor DeLong is very unhappy with how software suppliers for Windows do business:

I then thought that I should perhaps upgrade the McAfee virus-protection program on the machine. That turned out to be a nasty and nearly impossible process: McAfee kept throwing pop-up windows up on the screen trying to "improve" my order from $35 to $95 or $125, warning me of all the horrible things that would happen to me if I did not "upgrade" my order. Only by clever parsing of sentences and clicking the correct buttons was I able to repulse this social engineering attack. Then I noticed that the black-inkjet cartridge in the Epson printer attached to the machine was low. I replaced it--and my printer driver promptly threw a warning box up on the screen: I had installed a non-Epson print cartridge, Epson "could not guarantee print quality," and would I like to order genuine Epson print cartridges off of the Epson website? No.

I don't like it when strange movies take over my computer and use it to display adware. I don't like it when Epson lies to me about the quality of Epson-compatible inkjet cartridges. I don't like it when McAfee makes it hard to avoid spending more on virus protection than I need to.

It's a jungle out there in the Windows world. Have Microsoft and Epson and McAfee considered the long-run consequences of the reputations that they are so eagerly creating?

Ghastly stuff, but one of his commenters can top this ghastliness:

On my Windows XP computer, every use of the letters "bed" - as in the word "succumbed" in the first paragraph of Brad DeLong's posting above - is underlined as a link, to find a bed seller, I guess. Maybe the next time the word "succumbed" appears in text, I'll finally decide to buy a bed online. Likewise, the letters "mba," as in "embarass," are always an underlined link. Maybe someday soon that helpful link will lead me to enroll online for a graduate degreee in business. Oh yes, every use of the word, "business" is an underlined link too. I tried anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-adware programs, but this still lingers.

Then there's the ad that intrudes on the left margin of my screen most of the time when I open a new web page. In a year, I have never used the links featured in that margin, presumably directed to a few sites. But it just keeps happening. Recently, instead of a list of sites it has started showing flickering and moving graphics. What a waste.

At least, through much effort, I recovered my desktop image. For months, it was a gruesome black screen with a blood-red eyeball on it, and an ad for software to delete it.

I've had to learn to live with some pop-ups, because when I had the pop-up protection fully engaged, I could not send work messages from my home computer in my office Outlook system - the window in which I would write a new Outlook message was blocked as a pop-up.

Using the internet in Windows is wading through all that junk.

Emphasis mine. The eyeball thing goes beyond the ghastly and into the realm of eldritch and unspeakable.

Did I mention that I want a Mac? I'm likely to do more coloring for money this year, and I would like to do that on a new studio machine with a decent monitor, and I might as well go for graphical-industry standard stuff, especially if it also means I'm going to avoid crap like this.

Only problem is I'm not exactly made of money. Maybe this would be a good time to point people to the Paypal button on my homepage, and I guarantee you that clicking that link won't spawn a popup or do anything ghastly...

June 24, 2005

Stone of Contention - Whatcha think?

Hopefully by now readers of Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan have adjusted to the changes in format (large, horizontal, black and white images) and the change of style (much, much scribblier than recent work). I've opened a Forum thread for responses to the new story. Do you think running early work is a good idea? Do you like the different tone - do you perhaps even prefer it to the recent, more ponderous stories? Should all the gaps in the archives be bridged? Let me know!

Quick links for the weekend

Stuff that people have been sending me or that I've found on other people's blogs:

Doctor Who theme remixes. Quite a few kitchy ones and they tend to hammer the middle eight that Murray Gold rightly cut out of his version into the ground, but some nifty fun ones. Check out "Victory Lap" and the Toxic mashup. Via
Open letter to Kansas School Board, on the off chance that you haven't seen it yet. Via everyone and their mothers.
Gay Coloring Banned by school. Satire, but eerily plausible. Via #crfh.
HOWTO occupy Tunisia. Rule 1. DO NOT ENTER MOSQUES. Rule 2. DO NOT YELL AT WOMEN. Rule 3. NO DOGS. Cultural sensitivity is a life-and-death matter, and a strategic concern. And yes, you can package it in manly talk and have the troops grok it. (Can't remember via who or what I found this).
Andrew Rilstone can't shut up about Revenge of the Sith. This would be a bad thing if it was anyone other than Andrew, who has made his life's work out of discussing epic, popular culture at great length and as a result has become very good at it. Read.

Island of the Monkey Pirate Robot Ninja Technical Difficulties

Looks like all of Keenspace is timing out again and has done for a few hours. Use Modern Tales or the mirror site instead if you want to read Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan.
Update: Never mind. It's back up already.

June 25, 2005

Hip to be square

Often I get asked: "Oh Chuck, where dó you get those hip tunes from?"
To hipsterize and rockify your MP3 collection, visit this site. A simple and legal(!) way to avoid those stares when you play your Ricky Martin collection over and over; now you can get the pearly whites from those hip chicks and meaningful nods from the cool cats when you play the latest Reverend Beat-Man and the Un-Believers!

Now you've proven your hipness, you can take a step further: überhip!
The Reverend Vince sounds like Tom Waits, but has different troubles: Satan hates him, and he's trying a hard to be an asshole, but he just can't cut it, because he has Jesus.

June 27, 2005

Off to Denmark

I'm off to Kopenhagen for a short vacation. See you around in a week or so. I may update the blog and/or the forum with vacation reports but I'm not promising anything. Not a damned thing!

Update: I am there, and I'm being taken excellent care off. The hotel is so nice I have trouble getting myself to leave!

About June 2005

This page contains all entries posted to Waffle in June 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2005 is the previous archive.

July 2005 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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