Archive for November, 2010

Another restored item in the ROCR archive

November 27th, 2010 by Reinder

While trawling through the archived mater files for the now definitely resumed Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan remasters, I found yet another episode that was not in the archives on the main site: the episode originally scheduled for August 16 or 17, 2002 is now back in the archives after eight years. It was restored to the archives as soon as possible, with new captions as the old captions had vanished from those locations where I was able to find earlier missing entries.

Looking at the snapshot on the site for August 16 on theThe Web Archive, that day was the day I pre-empted the daily installment to announce that I was moving to Modern Tales, which was then being launched as a subscription site. This may have something to do with the episode's more-thorough-than-usual disappearance: possibly I never got around to posting the scheduled comic, or I posted it the next day and never copied it over to the Modern Tales archive, picking up the giant archive move with the comic for the Monday afterwards. I don't remember. At least it is now back after eight years.

Scribus sucks, but its suckage can be defeated with patience

November 16th, 2010 by Reinder

What is this?

Screenshot from Scribus

Screenshot from Scribus

It's a screenshot of the open source DTP program Scribus on a Mac with the 143rd episode of The Corby Tribe open, as it is being prepared for presentation on my Drunk Duck mirror. The image is a Photoshop file with adjustment layers, and is not rendered correctly. However, it is at least rendered, so that with this image, I could in theory tweak the size until it fits.

I can't blame Scribus for not showing giant multilayered Photoshop images correctly. It's no big deal to flatten the image, turn it into a PNG and try again with a smaller, less complex version of the same file, right?

That brings me to this. Guess what this is:

Another Scribus screenshots, showing a seemingly empty image box

Another Scribus screenshots, showing a seemingly empty image box

You might answer, "This is the Scribus file from before you placed the image into the box!" and you'd be wrong. This is in fact Scribus after I created a PNG version of the image, and placed it into the box. The preview settings are set to display the image (why anyone would not want to display images in a page layout program is beyond me, but then I'm a mere amateur at this). The PNG is not rendered at all.
"Oh well," you might say. "Didn't you say before that Scribus was a bit buggy and had different issues across different platforms, but that it was better than nothing at a price you can't beat?" And indeed I did! So maybe the bug-of-the-month for Mac users is that it can't render PNGs. But we know it can display Photoshop files, right? Even though it doesn't do layered Photoshop files well? So why don't we create a flat Photoshop file and use that?

Here's the result:

Scribus for mac with a flattened PSD file

Scribus for mac with a flattened PSD file

Wait, did I just post the same image by mistake? Nope, I went to the trouble of making a whole new screenshot. Dunno why I bothered really.

So how about using a TIFF file? The file format that absolutely did not work two years ago when I tried to do the same work using Scribus for linux?

Hey, this works. So from number 143 on, I have to use TIFF as an intermediate file format

Hey, this works. So from number 143 on, I have to use TIFF as an intermediate file format

So that's one problem solved. From episode 143 on until I switch OS's again, I'll just use TIF as an intermediate file format. But it's amazing how much Scribus sucks. I mentioned before that it was easier to format text in OpenOffice and import the formatted text into Scribus!Linux!2008
than to format the text in Scribus itself. Last time I used Scribus on a Mac, that strategy did not work at all and resulted in many character rendering errors. Since the text for this episode was actually prepared a year ago, I have not put that to the test, since then, and I dread doing so with the next episode, whenever I go to create that.

Other open source alternatives to expensive commercial programs usually work well for basic functions, and the degree to which they work for advanced functionality depends on how much the development community cares about them. Scribus is unique in turning even basic features such as importing an image into a headache that returns every time you are on a different computer. And yet it has won the Packt Open Source award and is in fact used by professionals who do complex things with it. Unbelievable.

Restored items in the ROCR archives

November 7th, 2010 by Reinder

There are two redrawn items in the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan archives: the comic for July 10, 2002 and the one for August 8, 2002. The former was redrawn for no other reason than that the original version was hastily drawn and coloured and looked rather hideous. The latter has also been missing entirely from the archives since the comic's move to Modern Tales back in 2003.

Here's what happened: the move of my archives to Modern Tales in 2003 was a manual process involving about 800 individual episodes. There was no automation for this available at all. Towards the end of the process, a number of episodes got skipped, and many of those were not caught until much later. All server moves since then have had at least some automation, but they were based on the faulty archives at Modern Tales.

Fast forward to the years between 2007 and 2009, when I was rerunning the old comics in remastered, partly recoloured form on a mirror site, located on Drunk Duck. This was another manual process but it was a lot slower and involved going back to the working files and paper originals, and checking every image individually. So over time, I discovered many lost episodes. What this process had in common with the move to Modern Tales, though, was that I started to get discouraged towards the end, and when I hit the 146th episode of the storyline The Corby Tribe and realised just how poorly made and ugly it was, I gave up. But that still left me with a hideous looking episode in the archives, so in May 2010, I took some time out to redraw that one, and looked into resuming the reruns later that year while I was at it. I then found that a second episode that had visual continuity with the one I had just redrawn, was also very ugly and was only redeemed by the fact that it was not in my archives at all. So I redrew that, but it took until now to colour them fully and get them ready for display on the website.

There is now a third episode that, while not actually bad, has visual continuity with the redrawn ones, so next up, I will redraw that as well. Should be easy and fun.