Archive for April, 2009

Vote incentive for April 30: Young Atra sketch

April 30th, 2009 by Reinder

Vote for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan on Topwebcomics today to see a sketch of Younger Atra's character art from 2006

Thumbnail of a sketch of the character art for Young Atra. Click to vote for ROCR on Top Web Comics and see the whole thing including

Thumbnail of a sketch of the character art for Young Atra. Click to vote for ROCR on Top Web Comics and see the whole thing including

.

To vote, click on the link. You will be asked to click a button twice to confirm that you are voting for this comic and that you're not a bot or script that automates voting (you will lose what is left of your already tenuous faith in humanity upon hearing that people have apparently done that in the past). The final page in the process has the vote incentive image. Vote incentive images will only be available until they are replaced, so you will have to vote today to see these sketches; there will be new incentive art up tomorrow.

(Or if you've come to this post via a web search, why not simply visit the comic this post is promoting, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan?)

Linguistic change from above

April 29th, 2009 by Reinder

Just this morning, a client at my day job wanted some urgent press releases translated into Dutch, pomoting a product that could be used to screen travelers for what to the best of my knowledge is still called Swine Flu in English. While we were working on it, the news came out that the Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieuhygiene, which is equivalent to the US Center for Disease Control, had urged everyone to refer to the bug in question as "Mexicaanse griep" rather than "Varkensgriep", so Mexican Flu rather than Swine Flu. Until then, government bodies had used "Varkensgriep" like everybody else.

We contacted the client and they said they wanted "Mexicaanse Griep" as well, citing the RIVM's terminology recommendation. So we used that. And already, so is everyone else. This screenshot from Nu.nl shows the linguistic change in progress:
Nu.nl, April 29, 2009, 8 PM. The body of a new article uses "Mexicaanse griep" while a link to a popular, older article still speaks of "Varkensgriep"

The Corby Tribe

April 29th, 2009 by Reinder

While you're waiting for new Feral updates, go take a gander at the mirror site on Drunk Duck, where the revised version of The Corby Tribe starts its run today!

Back in 2001, I really wanted to experiment with a comics format that America hadn't seen in so long, few readers were even willing to recognise it as comics. The format of a row of panels with a block of captions underneath is a throwback to the early days of newspaper comics, when word balloons were by no means universal. In the US, the captioned comic format is best represented by the old Prince Valiant Sunday pages, but in Europe, it was both very common and very enduring. The Dutch comic Tom Poes ran in this format until creator Marten Toonder*)'s retirement in 1986 and was re-run in some papers for a decade and a half afterwards. The British comic Rupert Bear ran, and still runs, in a similar format, only with verse.

In the late 1990s, there seemed to be a minor revival of the format in the Netherlands, with artist Eric Heuvel contributing a captioned comic to the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper.

As publication went on, I ran up against a problem: I just wasn't that great a prose writer and couldn't churn it out day after day. Over the two or so years that the story ran originally, I ended up diluting the format. So in the end, it looked like every other strip out there.

Drunk Duck doesn't support this format well (there is no option for adding formatted text in the place I need to add it), so I'm using this as an opportunity to learn how to do desktop publishing using Scribus. It's been many years since I last used any DTP software. The new revision will stick more tightly to the format and may or may not have substantial text revisions. There may be an e-book at the end of the process.

*) The characters in Mr. Toonder's work were anthropomorphic animals, and to an English speaker, his name may sound like a furry pseudonym; it is not. As someone who often gets his name misread, I sympathize.

Vote incentive for April 29: Erkenwald, again

April 29th, 2009 by Reinder

Thumbnail of a sketch of Erkenwald, from the forthcoming storyline, Muscle. Click to vote for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan at Topwebcomics, and see the full sketch.

Thumbnail of a sketch of Erkenwald, from the forthcoming storyline, Muscle. Click to vote for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan at Topwebcomics, and see the full sketch.

Vote for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan on Topwebcomics today to see a sketch of the character Erkenwald from the forthcoming storyline Muscle, written by this blog's Adam Cuerden. This sketch was supposed to be the incentive on April 23, but the schedule got out of synch due to scheduling errors on my part. I've never been that good at counting, see.

When I say "forthcoming", I'm afraid I don't know when it's forthcoming, just that I'm stubborn enough to start on it once Feral is done, whenever that is. At the current pace, that could take a while.

To vote, click on the link. You will be asked to click a button twice to confirm that you are voting for this comic and that you're not a bot or script that automates voting (you will lose what is left of your already tenuous faith in humanity upon hearing that people have apparently done that in the past). The final page in the process has the vote incentive image. Vote incentive images will only be available until they are replaced, so you will have to vote today to see these sketches; there will be new incentive art up tomorrow.

(Or if you've come to this post via a web search or from the recent Skeptic's Circle that Adam did, why not simply visit the comic this post is promoting, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan?)

Vote incentive for April 28: Neave

April 28th, 2009 by Reinder

Click to vote for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan on Topwebcomics and see character art for Neave, a new Faerie character for the spin-off of ROCR that I'm planning.

Click to vote for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan on Topwebcomics and see character art for Neave, a new Faerie character for the spin-off of ROCR that I'm planning.

Vote for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan on Topwebcomics today to see a character sketch for the female lead for the new spin-off of ROCR that I'm planning, a faerie called Neave.

I'm going with new lead characters for two reasons: one is that I want to keep the new comic accessible while still using the established world. New leads will mean a fresh start even if the existing characters will eventually show up. The other reason is that I'm also fed up with how I keep forgetting the various tattoos, pouches, hats and items of jewelry the existing characters wear. For some reason, nude-with-accessories is harder to remember and keep straight than a full costume. So for a story set in the faerie village, I'm going with two characters who don't carry all that, er, baggage.

To vote, click on the link. You will be asked to click a button twice to confirm that you are voting for this comic and that you're not a bot or script that automates voting (you will be shocked and scandalized to hear that people have apparently done that in the past). The final page in the process has the vote incentive image. Vote incentive images will only be available until they are replaced, so you will have to vote today to see these sketches; there will be new incentive art up tomorrow.

(Or if you've come to this post via a web search, why not simply visit the comic this post is promoting, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan?)

Swine flu preparedness

April 27th, 2009 by Reinder

Jim Macdonald at Making Light has a good clearing-house post of All You Need To Know Generally About Flu: what it does to the body and how to prepare.

The Scienceblog Effect Measure gives more detail about the public policy aspects and the swine flu outbreak's progress.

People in the Netherlands planning to travel to the United States in the next few weeks, such as yours truly, need to keep an eye on the Dutch foreign ministry's travel advisory (in Dutch), which still has no official word on the epidemic. While I'm at it, here's the the one for Mexico.

On a personal note, I REALLY hope that this isn't the Big One. I was kinda planning to get married next year and would like to be alive to experience that.

[Adam] Skeptic’s Circle Update

April 27th, 2009 by Adam Cuerden

I fell really quite ill last week, and now face the problem of whether to do something half-assed to get it done, or make it worth the wait.

Insomuch as it's possible, I'm going with the latter.  A quick, unfinished sample to tide you over.

Vote incentive for April 27: Mafalda Eiwisk, Goblin explorer

April 27th, 2009 by Reinder

Thumbnail of a sketch of Mafalda Eiwisk, Goblin explorer. Click to vote for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan on Topwebcomics and see the whole image, which contains one other early attempt at drawing her

Thumbnail of a sketch of Mafalda Eiwisk, Goblin explorer. Click to vote for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan on Topwebcomics and see the whole image, which contains one other early attempt at drawing her

Vote for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan on Topwebcomics today to see two character sketches for Mafalda Eiwisk, Goblin explorer and granddaughter of the more famous Goblin explorer Sir Bork Eiwisk. Mafalda only appeared in one tiny illustration as part of the epilogue to the Invasion storyline, but she went through several stages of development first, as part of which Aggie Janicot and I ended up developing the culture/anthropology of the Goblins in Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan a bit. We ended up with a hunter/trapper culture in which the males do the hunting and are lean and wiry, whereas the females do the trapping and are cunning, sedentary and very, very fat, which serves to signal that they're succesful at trapping enough food...

To vote, click on the link. You will be asked to click a button twice to confirm that you are voting for this comic and that you're not a bot or script that automates voting (you will be mildly bemused to hear that people have apparently done that in the past). The final page in the process has the vote incentive image. Vote incentive images will only be available until they are replaced, so you will have to vote today to see these sketches; there will be new incentive art up tomorrow.

(Or if you've come to this post via a web search, why not simply visit the comic this post is promoting, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan?)

No update on the 27th

April 26th, 2009 by Reinder

I'm sorry, but I won't have a Feral update ready for Monday the 27th. Like last weekend, I spent this one working on the comics on the principle that I'd do the most achievable jobs first, which meant preparing remastered comics for the Drunk Duck mirror. This week, I realised that I had to do a lot more of those than I had originally planned, so I spent all my available time on them.

The thing is, I'll be going to the States again in four weeks, and I'll be staying there for quite a bit longer than I have so far: two whole months. While I will be technically able to work on my old files there, I would very much prefer not to have to think about the reruns for a while, so I'm now working to get them buffered all the way through the end of my next stay in late July. Unfortunately, both the DTP software I have to use and the archived source files themselves were full of surprises, so it's taken much longer than planned. I now have 24 episodes done; the source files for the next five are missing altogether and need to be re-scanned.

The mid-term prospects for Feral still don't look too good. I want to work on it but I don't want to do another set of low-effort updates. I want them to look as good as they did 40 episodes ago when Kel was in the Feral's house, and I don't have my act together to the point where I can do that right now. The story will get finished one way or another, but maintaining a fixed schedule is turning out to be very difficult. On the plus side, those remasters are looking good, so please do go to the mirror site in the next few weeks for a fresh look at the Corby Tribe storyline.

Open letter to the Scribus development community

April 26th, 2009 by Reinder

Dear people working on the open source desktop publishing application Scribus,

Thank you for working on this project. Linux needs desktop publishing software badly, and it seems like for some reason, you are the only community who can be bothered to work on it. Maybe DTP carries a stigma because it's primarily associated with print, which is all unhip and old-media these days.

However, there are some areas in which you really have to do better. First off, your application is uncharacteristically crash-prone. Also, the Dutch localization is so poor you might as well not have offered it at all. But these issues pale in comparison to the sheer appallingness of your Story Editor in which users can do basic text editing. Yes, I understand that a desktop publishing program is not a word processor. However, the ability to enter text is necessary in a desktop publishing program, and the functionality is relatively easy to implement. So why is the Story Editor incapable of entering into my document what I just typed into it or inserted through the menu for adding symbols?

For the record, when I use the menu to add a double left quote, double right quote or apostrophe, and then hit the Commit button to have the text inserted into the text box, I do not expect any of the following to happen:

  • Insertion of a straight quote or straight apostrophe at the insertion point
  • Insertion of nothing at all at the insertion point
  • One of the above, plus insertion of a space to the right of the insertion point
  • Insertion of a space two characters to the right of the insertion point
  • Deletion of the character to the right of the insertion point and/or the next character to the right
  • Insertion of the correct quote, but at a point other than the insertion point
  • Preservation of an existing straight quote that was selected to be overwritten

It often takes six or seven attempts to insert all the apostrophes and quotes correctly and the extra proofreading involved slows me down considerably. This is not good enough if you claim to have a professional-level product.

To my best understanding, barring problems with the conversion and handling of various character sets, the problem of inserting text at a cursor and passing it on to a different function, application or file was solved some time in the 1960s. Smart quotes have been known since the mid-eighties. I'm puzzled as to why Scribus appears unable to take advantage of existing knowledge in this basic area of computing functionality.

Regards,
Reinder Dijkhuis, who would like an open source DTP program that does not actively work against him.

PS: Another exasperating behaviour from Story Editor is how it changes numbers typed into it into letters upon commit or when switching between windows. Please make this stop.