Archive for January, 2009

Running, exercise and joint pains

January 30th, 2009 by Reinder

Since my last physical peak in October, I've kept up with running but let other forms of exercise fall by the wayside a bit. I've not been to the gym since back then. As a result, I've lost a bit of muscle strength and gained a bit of belly fat. This is not the end of the world, except that I'm too cheap to buy a set of wider pants.

What has been bothering me, though, is that over the past two weeks, I've had to deal with joint pains that flare up a day or two after training with my running club, which are bad enough to make it hard for me to walk for a day to a day and a half. I don't think these are directly caused by running; rather, they're a seasonal, temperature-related inflammation. I've had to deal with these before though I've previously only had them in my hands. The pains, in different locations each time so far, do flare up after running and sometimes last long enough to make it impossible to go to the next training.

So instead of running last Wednesday, I went to the gym today for a light workout - cycling, elliptical trainer, some easy weight training, nothing that strains the joints. I've also made an appointment for next Tuesday at six o'clock to discuss how to train during a flare-up. I expect I know what the answer is going to be: short, easy and frequent workouts with low impact, maybe 45 minutes every day at a level that doesn't require recovery. But we'll see. To be continued...

Cross-site updates, or… done with mirrors

January 28th, 2009 by Reinder

I've been doing a lot of stuff to the website lately. Here's what's been changed in the latest tune-up:

Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan and Chronicles of the Witch Queen now have ads from a new ad provider, Webcomics World. This represents a significant policy change for me as I will be allowing some Flash ads, which will have Behaviours. I will pre-approve those on a case-by-case basis but I will no longer be denying them automatically. We'll see what happens - there's the potential for good earnings there, which will make it easier for me to spend more time and effort on webcomicking again.

To compensate, I've cut the horizontal Google ads on the archive pages on the main site, and will be looking to cull more advertising if this pans out.

The Drunk Duck mirror also gets one of the new ads, because a) it is actually bringing in decent pageview numbers, and b) it looks like I will have to put a lot more work into it in the next month or two, as the infamous FRAMED!!! Great Escape Crossover is due to be repeated there. I will have to write to the other artists involved to try and give all pages a permanent location.

The cast page for Invasion has been updated, as has the main cast page. Individual cast bios on the main site now have comments enabled, so people can write their own notes on the characters. I have also made a start on a cast section for the archives on Modern Tales, and updated the Fan art section there. The interface for uploading fan art was broken the last few times I tried using it last year, but it works now.

I have added some new stuff to Odds and Ends and to the DeviantArt site

This leaves me still having to update the old Comicgenesis site which I essentially forgot about midway through Aggie's tenure as a guest artist. That might be a more complicated job, but as I'm sitting at home with a sore foot, I might as well do it now.

All this work on various mirrors entails a serious reduplication of effort, but that is paying off. Because of the different automated cross-promotion/reader-alerting tools that the various systems have, the combined sites now have about 200,000 pageviews a month, for a comic that has in recent months updated once a month. The reason I'm doing it now is that the Invasion storyline is due to end next Monday, and after that, I want to get back to Feral as soon as I can, though it's likely I'll post a little bit of filler first. If the new ads pay off, I may well soon be updating more frequently again, though it's unlikely that I'll go back to three or more new updates a week.

Bleg no. 3 – ads break site layout in FF 3

January 23rd, 2009 by Reinder

Earn original art by fixing an HTML problem!

I seem to do nothing on this blog lately but ask readers for help, but that's how it is now. I've switched out some of the Project Wonderful ads for a new ad provider, and ever since, site display has been broken on some pages but not others. In pages like this one, the top ad breaks out of its box in the top right section next to the logo, overlapping the top row of site links and pushing down the rest of the content. The problem only occurs in Firefox 3 (edit) and Internet Explorer, though it is less obviously visible there as the ad just disappears and only on pages using a certain template. Safari and Opera render it correctly; indeed I was working in Safari while changing the templates and didn't notice anything was wrong until 1 AM last night.

What makes this one so annoying is that the HTML code for the top section in those templates is exactly the same as that in the pages that do render correctly, and they pull their positioning code from the same CSS file. Also, I did nothing but switch out one clearly marked block of javascript for another. I spent half an hour counting "Div" tags before passing the problem on to a friendly webdesigner who has more routine and experience fixing problems like this, but told me the next morning she was also stumped. Screenshot

So... if anyone with Firefox 3, a keen eye and a good knowledge of HTML/CSS can help me out with this, I'd be very grateful and send that person an original drawing or page from the archives of their choice..

Bleg no. 2: old SCSI cable for scanner

January 11th, 2009 by Reinder

I've been back from my holiday at Aggie's for a week. Aggie has already written up the whole week in her blog, and I don't have anything to add to that. It was a fantastic Christmas.

Since then, I've been back to the grind, and one of the items on the list is getting my A3 scanner to work again. Last time I wrote about it, my PC wasn't recognising the SCSI card. I've since received a potential replacement card that may or may not work; I've also noticed that the BIOS sometimes does notice that there is a SCSI card attached. The reason I haven't tested the new card yet is that the position of the suitable connector is awkward - I'd have to leave the case permanently open to hook the scanner up to it. I'll get to testing it out next week though I don't know yet how I'm going to scan the next comics page yet.

Meanwhile, though, the work has hit a new snag. I have reason to believe that the SCSI cable is also broken. It's a 68-pins High-density SCSI cable built in 1997 and I may have a hard time replacing it. The connectors are 2 1/2 inches (6.3 cm) wide.

The connectors I need

The connectors I need

I need a cable with connectors matching those, and I need them from a supplier in the Netherlands, so that I can just go and look at the connectors and check that they are the same. Like I said earlier, this may be a lot of effort to go through just to get a cable, but replacing the scanner would be prohibitively expensive. As would depending on an outside service, in the long run. As I'm doing more pencil art and more single-panel pages lately, splicing artwork together or scanning from reduced copies isn't an option either.

So if you have a cable that looks like the one in the picture, or you know a store that sells them, preferably in Groningen but anywhere in the Netherlands will be all right, please let me know at reinder.dijkhuis@gmail.com or in the comments here. Thank you.

Shameless blegging: Review me!

January 2nd, 2009 by Reinder

If you have a Webcomicsnation account, could you do me a favour and review some of the comics on Chronicles of the Witch Queen? Anyone who has an account, even if you only use it for commenting on WCN comics, can post a review which will be posted on the WCN homepage and on the Talk About Comics blog, which has seen a flood of new reviews lately. What with the boost my readership has got from a writeup in a comparatively obscure e-zine, I think getting written up in a few other places that are read at the same level would make a lot of difference for the readership numbers.

Here are the details. Some of the comics on Chronicles of the Witch Queen are also published on Rocr.net, but not all of them are. They are also divided up differently, with each storyline getting its own homepage and URL. Below, you'll find a list of comics available on the site, and where to post reviews:

Feral Review Feral
Invasion Review Invasion
The Double Review The Double
Christmas at Blocksberg Review Christmas at Blocksberg
The Eye of the underworld Review The Eye of the Underworld
Guðrún Review Guðrún
Alcydia Review Alcydia
Courtly Manners Review Courtly Manners
Courtly Manners 2: The Unicorn Race Review Courtly Manners 2: The Unicorn Race

Reviews don't have to be positive but the intention of the feature is to spread the word about comics you like - so if you like Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan and the related comics, and have a Webcomicsnation account, spread the word! I'll be grateful for any and all reviews, long or short.

Smashing!

January 1st, 2009 by Reinder

While I was away, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan was written up in Smashing Magazine's list of 50 outstanding comics from all over the world, along with European greats such as Tintin and Asterix the Gaul and American greats like Calvin and Hobbes.

To be honest, like every list of this kind, it's pretty arbitrary and there are many comics that deserve it more, but I'm honoured and grateful for the acknowledgement and the boost to my readership. Thanks guys!

For some reason, the list was mirrored at I Can Has Happy, which has also been sending many readers my way. It looks like that blog entry has been copied wholesale with only a "via" acknowledgement instead of full credit, but plagiarized or not, it does seem to have a large number of readers so I'd like to welcome people coming in from both blogs to the comic.