Archive for March, 2006

Preorder Headsmen Mini now

March 31st, 2006 by Reinder

Headsmen minicomic cover art

After many years, I'm finally getting Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan into print again. But this time, it will be in English, and in full colour!

I'm very ambitious with this one. The plan is to include the recent story Headsmen and the 1990s story Alchemists, both of them in colour, in A5 format. If the test prints I made are anything to go by, it will look really good, as vibrant as the colours on the web version, but much, much sharper.

There's only one problem. Setting a price gets a bit complicated. Just like in the old days, the price per copy goes down the more copies one prints, but the curve is a whole lot steeper, to the point where adding just one or two more copies to the run can make a big difference.

To set a price, I need to have some idea of how many people would want a copy. So instead of offering it for sale right here and now, I would like to ask you to sign up by sending me an email. Other methods for contacting me will also work, as long as I can get your name on the list. You won't have to commit yourself to buying a copy just yet - just inform me that you might want one.

Praise for meta-post

March 30th, 2006 by Reinder

Introduction with link to post in blog.

Salient quotation with extra-salient bit in bold.

Equivalent of "Heh, indeed".

Obligatory reference to webcomic doing it first. Implicit challenge to provide earlier examples.

Lucifer # 16 on Scans_Daily

March 30th, 2006 by Reinder

I love Creation/Fall stories (and am happy that When We Had Tails has stood up so well in the 8 years since Geir sent me the script) and this comic from the series Lucifer is no exception. I had never heard of this comic, which I presume is spun off from Sandman (checks the "Lucifer" tag in the community - yep, looks like it). I never got into Sandman for some reason even though I quite like what I have read of Neil Gaiman's writing.

This story's a good one. Take some time to read it.

ROCR website redesign

March 29th, 2006 by Reinder

So I've redesigned the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan website.
ffwebsite.png
It's really more of a re-skinning than a full redesign, to be honest: the design is still based on my old Movable Type templates, and even within those limitations, the changes mostly affect the area above the fold. Still, it took me quite a bit of time, simply because I haven't been doing this as my day job since 2001. Also, I had to create some custom artwork especially for the project and do endless cross-browser testing for every piddling change.

What I've done:

Well obviously I've created a large header banner and got rid of that awkwardly-positioned by-line that had been on the top of each page since October. For better or for worse, the byline is now integrated in the header graphic although it can also be found in the tags in the HTML headers. The header graphic is now served from within WillowCMS so I can change it for the entire site with just one change to the 'home' node.
I moved the button bar back into the sidebar again. It never aligned right and pushed the comic to the button. The header area is now a lot smaller vertically. From a code order point of view, moving those buttons to the end of the HTML source is less than ideal, but it does look a whole lot better, without the awkward positioning tricks involved in so-called "One True Layout" templates. Eventually I hope to return to this problem and recode the templates so they have both correct source code order and a pleasing visual appearance, but I don't consider this an urgent problem.
I've changed the body background colour to a dark green, to fit the theme of the banner. This won't be all that noticeable to people reading the comic at 1024*768 pixels, but the green becomes a bit dominant at larger screen sizes. New colour schemes always take some getting used to, so we'll see how everyone likes it in a few weeks.

I have cleaned up a lot of cruft from the CSS file. There was a lot of Movable Type-generated stuff in there that I no longer use. I've also cut some of the front page HTML to compensate for the larger file size of the header graphic.

ONR search box - this is not a real widget!I've added one new feature to the website: a search box. The fellow in the icon is the mascot of Oh No Robot engine, which is where the search gets delegated to. I can't believe ONR didn't have a miniature version of their mascot available, but I had to make the 32x32 version myself.

ONR transcribe button, not a real widget
Oh No Robot also turned out to be the biggest source of problems with the rollout of the new design. The "Transcribe this" buttons in the archive don't fit in their borders if left as part of the nav-links bar. I'll need to think about where else to put them. In the meantime, there are two ways readers can get rid of those unsightly things: you can transcribe the comics the buttons occur on, or if you have Firefox with the appropriate extentions, you can right-click and ad-block them. I'd prefer the first option, because right now the search box covers fewer than half of the published episodes, but the other option would not be any skin off my back.

top left in firefoxI normally prefer to stick to fairly standards-compliant HTML and CSS if only because workarounds always make my head hurt, but I did use one Mozilla-only CSS feature that doesn't do a lot of harm in other browsers but makes the design a little less clinical in Firefox: I sprinkled block-level elements with the -moz-corner-radius attribute to get rounded corners. There are other ways to get rounded corners but they tend to be javascript-heavy and complicated and I can't be bothered with them. These are an easy way to reward readers for not using Internet Explorer, without depriving them of my stuff entirely.

I expect I'll have to do some clean-up and fixing over the next few weeks, and I'm sure I'll find out what some of the downsides to the new design, for example the fact that it is a lot more bandwidth-intensive, mean in practice. But for now, I'm rather pleased with how it's turned out, and glad that it will be easier to adapt in the future.

Republican War on Science seminar at Crooked Timber

March 27th, 2006 by Reinder

I loved the last two Crooked Timber seminars, but the latest one looks like it'll be a doozy. It's on The Republican War On Science, both the book by Chris Mooney, who is taking part, and the concept of the RWOS itself. I'm reading it now.

In progress: colouring for Alchemists

March 22nd, 2006 by Reinder

I'm colouring the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story Alchemists for inclusion in the forthcoming print edition of Headsmen. I like the results so far. Once it's done, I'll replace the black and white versions on the ROCR website with the colour ones, but until then, you can preview the coloured versions on my DeviantArt gallery.

Alchemists 1a Alchemists 1b Alchemists 2a Alchemists 2bAlchemists 3a Alchemists 3b

Colouring those old pages is a lot harder than colouring new ones, but the look of the finished work is strikingly similar to that of Headsmen.

Banking – it’s not just for serious grown-ups anymore!

March 21st, 2006 by Reinder

Are the Postbank even trying to be taken seriously as a bank anymore? Over the past year, in addition to the Content-Free Magazines that every other financial institution insists on sending me, they've done this big promotion for the option to Personalize Your ATM Pass with a design of your choice for the low, low price of €9.75, and their latest special offer is even sillier: instead of paying a competitive interest rate on their savings accounts, they give you Rentepunten (Interest Points) which you can save up to get discounts on goods from a catalog.

Memo to the marketing folks at the Postbank: Guys, I don't use your bank for fun. I use it to keep my money in a checking account and save a little for a rainy day, that's all. I have no interest in your attempts to forge a relationship with me, as you should have realised when I didn't even bring you flowers on the 20th anniversary of me opening my first account with you. If you want to make me a happy customer, you can begin by not trying to railroad me into switching to your online banking service, by paying interest above the level of inflation on savings accounts, and... oh, here's a good suggestion: by not charging me for services you used to offer for free. I swear, when the time comes I can impress my grandnephews and grandnieces with the hardships I used to undergo in the olden days like the Yorkshiremen in that Monty Python sketch, "... but on the other hand, bankin' were free" will be the punchline to every last one of the yarns I spin at them.

But the way things are going, I'm likely to overcome my inertia and switch to a real bank any day now. Except it may be hard getting a credit card from any other bank with the income I have now. Damn.

Of course, it could be that they're all as bad, anyway. Do other Dutch banks spam your mailbox with silly offers and Content-Free magazines? Are they all in a race to the bottom to see who can cut their services and increase charges the most for services that used to be free? Are there any left in the Netherlands that offer proper interest on small-scale savings accounts?

In which Reinder squeals like a fanboy

March 20th, 2006 by Reinder

Like I wrote in an update to the post on Rapture of the Deep Tour Edition, the "Copy Control" on that album seems to do exactly nothing although one or two commenters on the Highway Star blog have complained about distortion on the CD. This may or may not be the result of paranoia from people who are specifically looking out for artefacts caused by the "Copy Control" process.
In any case, it looks like the CD is safe to play, and the pointlessness of "Copy Control" is demonstrated by the fact that the album is on Bittorrent like everything else. I've just listened to the live tracks, and feck! I don't think I've ever heard them sounding this good. These guys, none of them younger than 50 and led by a writing team who turned 60 last year (Ian Gillan and Roger Glover) are on fire this tour. One criticism that had been leveled against Rapture of the Deep in the press, which I agreed with even after I warmed to the record, was that the group were staying in their comfort zone too much. This may be true, but Roger Glover in particular has extended the comfort zone of his playing quite a bit, and the comfort zone is a good place to be in while playing live.

With that in mind, I'm going to get that live disk first thing in the morning, and look for tickets to the summer festival they're playing in the Netherlands this year (Arrow Rock, where they're probably the only act I'm remotely interested in).

The consumer warning in my previous post on the matter is hereby withdrawn.

Uberslob observations # 3 and 4

March 20th, 2006 by Reinder

Addendum to Time and Space - Observations from an Uberslob:
Observation #3: The "What if I moved house?" test works. It probably works better if you're actually moving house, but it puts the value of your junk into perspective.
Observation #4: If, like me, you're a little bit geeky and prone to obsessiveness, making your house-cleaning rule-based also works, provided you stick to it. For every item you bring into the house (excepting food), make yourself throw out two items of equivalent weight or volume. Throw out stuff you haven't used for X years - I like a very large value for X because I'm also a penny-pinching cheapskate who wants to squeeze every bit of use out of his belongings, but any value will do.

My mother and my aunt are both big fans of that last rule, by the way, although they didn't get into it until after I'd become set in my piggish ways. Oink.

No Pink Ponies

March 20th, 2006 by Reinder

No Pink Ponies by Remy "Eisu" Mokhtar gave me a few chuckles this afternoon. The "hot geek-girl in a world of smelly boy-nerds" schtick has been done before, but Mokhtar handles it well, and his art is nice to look at. It reminds me a bit of Candi only with better art.

No Pink Ponies is quite new, so checking out the archives to see if you like it will only take a few minutes.