Year: 2009

Kimbo vs Big Country – Round by Round

Kimbo vs Big Country

Kimbo vs Big Country

I’ve been pretty jazzed about tonight’s “Ultimate Fighter” ever since last week’s show.  The entire season has been built around Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson, even though he’s hardly the strongest fighter on the series.  He’s definately the most marketable.  The favourite to win right now is Roy “Big Country” Nelson, so of course when Rashad Evans got control of the matchmaking, he put his man Nelson up against Rampage Jackson’s Kimbo.

It’s with that in mind that I asked Kaylin what her pick was.

“Hmmm, I think Kimbo will win. Is that hug fighting daddy?” – yes darling, it is indeed the hug fighting.

So with Kimbo as the household favourite, I thought I’d set out to do a round-by-round blow-by-blow report ala my old TSN.ca wrestling reports.

To quote Mike Goldberg. And…here…we…GO!

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My first Intuos sketch

My first Intuos sketch

My first Intuos sketch

I bought an Intuos 3 on Friday (off Kijiji), and spent a little bit of time Friday night playing around with it.

I had a Graphire for years, but I lost the pen a while ago, and I had heard there was a big difference between the Intuos line and the Graphires.  Turns out they were right, there is indeed a big difference.  The pen is just more responsive, and the larger surface (this is an 8×6) makes a big difference too.  The buttons really help you out, and the touch strip which I have configured for zoom is a nice touch.

The little self-portrait on the left is my first drawing on the Intuos.  The little dude on the right was a 15 minute exercise just now to keep myself in the drawing form.

This little combo will come into play pretty heavily for me with some stuff I’m playing around with, so keep watching for what I get up to next.  Who knows, if this goes well enough, maybe there’s a Cintiq in my future!

Top 50 Comic Book Runs 40-31

My favourite comics (40-31)

My favourite comics (40-31)

I’ve been thinking about the comics that inspired me when I was younger, and that got me to thinking about what my favourite runs of all time were. This inspired me to write a list.

For the next five weeks I’m going to post 1 group a week. 40-31 are up first, next is 30-21, 20-11, 10-6, and finally 5-1.

Update – it took me 4 years, but I finally got to it, and in the meantime, I turned it to a Top 50.

The rules were simple, they had to be comics I was incredibly excited when they came out. I had to have bought them off the shelf when they were released (so Watchmen, Camelot 3000, Dark Knight Returns, Captain Britain, and a few others were disqualified). One shots didn’t count, so that left out Killing Joke (which is one of my favourite stories comics or otherwise of all time), and original graphic novels were out too. This list was about anticipation, and these are the comics that I went absolutely nuts waiting for 30 days to go by so I could find out what happened next.

This first batch says a lot about my core formative comics collecting years.  I read comics for years before I officially started “collecting them”, I remember having a ton of Marvel comics in the late 70’s/early 80’s that I swapped outright for my grade 5 friend Chris’ DC collection.  I had never read Blackhawk, or The Unknown Soldier, or Swamp Thing before. I knew Batman, Justice League, and Superman of course, but those weren’t the comics that fascinated me.  This dog eared pile of Mister Miracles totally captured my imagination, and I became a DC Fanboy from that day forward.  Chris, wherever you are, thanks for swapping my Hulks, She-Hulks and Howard the Ducks. You changed my life sir.
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I’m moving (for good this time)

Well, you knew it couldn’t last. This ole website and I have had a great run, but it’s time for me to move it on to greener pastures and close up shop here.

In the last few years this site has gone from being Tales from the Darkside to Tales from the Garside to Chronicology (the life and times of Brian Garside) to its most recent incarnation, Radical Hive – From the Hive Mind of Brian Garside.

The thing is…Radical Hive was never meant to be my blog. It was originally meant to be much more, a collective, a hive, a group, or even a tribe. It was never meant to be just mine.

That’s why for the last few months I have been building up GarsideWeb, and this site will now be brian.garsideweb.com.

I’ll be closing the doors and turning off the lights here in the next few days, putting up a splash page, and calling it a day.

I expect that Radical Hive will return in about 4 months, but it will be very different.

Join me on my website, and let the good times roll!

Customized or Scalable?

Custom vs Speed

Custom vs Speed

During my day job I’m confronted on an hourly basis with requests for small improvements that people want to make to the website in order to be more personal. Add “My Account Rep”, only show them content they own, put their name on the page, remember what they last searched, show them the most popular research for the products they own, show them the top rated research in what they own, show non-members a view of what it would look like if they were members, but don’t hide the stuff they don’t have access to, I don’t know, maybe a switch of some sort that you can click to give them the “whole view” (seriously…I don’t even know how in the world to write a spec for that).

There’s a problem with all of these though. Our old site was an example of what happens when you allow unfettered, continual customization, and don’t consider the overall impact that each one of those chips in the scalability wall makes.

The above illustration is a good example of the customization vs speed argument, imagine the teeter toter works like this. When you put something on one side, it lifts the other side up, causing the other side to get more and more out of control.  Everyone at some point in their life has been the one on the top part of the teeter totter, it’s not a lot of fun because the person on the heavy end has all of the control, they decide when you go up, or when you go down. They decide when they’ll just jump off the teeter totter and leave you to slam down hard on your butt and probably fall off.

Out of the gate I’ll tell you that speed’s got it’s work cut out for it. It’s trickier to do than customization. I can customize the crap out of a website in hours, but tweaking the speed requires deep plumbing and hard work.

Every time you add a feature to the customization side of the scale, the speed side gets lighter, and it becomes harder for speed to balance the teeter totter. Eventually you get to a point where poor speed is thrashing and flailing at the top of the teeter totter trying to gain his balance…and he simply can’t.

Well why can Google do it then?

Google’s not much different. Take a look at an iGoogle page with loads of gadgets on it, and watch how slow it loads, compare that to the straight Google home page…also keep in mind that Google has locked up about 90% of North America’s smartest software engineers…and if they can’t figure this out, what chance do us mere mortals have?

The appearance of customization is better than true customization.

First off, I believe greatly in putting more of the customization components on the client side. Cookies are a great way to do this, keep their display name, and some basic customization options in their cookie. Users who refuse customization on their machines simply don’t get customization.  Sorry, but that’s the realities of the internet in 2009. On the server side, you need some pre-assembled components, preferably in XML, HTML, or plain ole text files which use the file system rather than the database.  It’s MUCH easier to scale a file system up than it is a database into a cluster.

Too much customization is a bad thing

No matter how much apparent customization you do, eventually you reach a point where you’re still making database calls for pieces. There’s no hard and fast rule for how many database calls are too many…but you know when you hit it.  Your site’s slow.

You also hit a strange point where you’ve essentially created an infinite number of slightly different sites. While this is appropriate for a site like Google, it’s not great for a site which is trying to convey a single directed message.

Customization vs editorial control

There’s a certain level of editorial control that I expect when I go to a website. I’m figuring that there are people who get paid six figure salaries to show me what’s important, to make certain editorial decisions, and decide that this is their best stuff. Yeah it’s cool when I can add a filter to that content to let me see stuff that I’m most interested in, but when I go to the Globe and Mail’s website or Wired.com, I want to see what their editorial has determined is most important…because even though I’m not all that interested in Bio Tech, maybe today’s biotechnology story is relevant to me in a way I’m not even aware of.

In the end, customization is a good thing, but too much can put blinders on content, and put excessive strain on systems.

Fan Expo in review

A veritable flood of fans in front of our booth

A veritable flood of fans in front of our booth

August 28th to 30th was the annual Fan Expo Canada (yeah…almost two weeks ago!), and once again All New Comics was there. Initial reports have the attendance pegged at 59,000 people, and I’ve gotta say…it sure looked like about that many people to me.

I got there Friday afternoon (after being busy Friday morning with the framers who were starting our basement renovation), where Pete and Gus had everything set up really nicely.  I checked into my hotel room before heading over to the convention center, having scored an amazing deal at the Royal York hotel. Continue Reading

What I want in a home office

Work Spaces (by Pottery Barn)

Work Spaces (by Pottery Barn)

Char and I are working on finishing our basement.  We’re going to make two big rooms, and a bunch of storage down there.  The main room will be a fairly large TV/kids room which is where I plan on building my whole hog home theatre with in wall and in-ceiling speakers.  The other part of the basement will be a home office all tricked out with the latest in office fancyness.

My needs are pretty basic, desk, chair, some storage, but I’ve got a few specific things things that would make an office awesome for me.

  • A large drawing surface
  • A place for a scanner, printer, and the home server
  • A comfy chair for reading
  • Good task lighting for drawing, reading, or computer work
  • In-ceiling speakers from the main stereo (connected to the iTunes library)
  • Loads of shelves, storage, and filing spaces
  • Hard surfaced flooring (for rolling around on a chair)
  • Wired internet hookups

What else would make a great office? Any suggestions from those out there who already have great home offices?

See you at the Fan Expo!

Fan Expo Canada

Fan Expo Canada

Work is done, and I’m heading home. Tomorrow morning I’m going to set the framing guys up with what we want them to do…and then I’m off to Toronto for 3 fun filled days and nights at Fan Expo Canada, hanging with my nerdly brothers and sisters.

Check out the All New Comics Twitter account for frequent updates. I’m going to try to post pictures from my iPhone all weekend if I can, and of course I’ll update the fun here over the weekend.

The Belly Off plan (part 2)

About a year ago I set off on my Belly Off Plan…unfortunately what I didn’t know then was that having 2 kids is like 1000000000 times tougher than just one. Seriously, who knew? Plus I started a massive project that’s taken about a sixteen months to complete from the time I started really getting into it.

Combine the two factors and I found it really hard to get to the gym, and my motivation to eat better was pretty poor.

All in all though, in that year I’ve managed to stay roughly where I was a year ago…so that’s probably good news.

However last week I challenged my co-worker CJ who’s recently been motivated to lose weight, to a “belly off competition”. While we haven’t figured out what the penalties or rewards will be, right now it’s all about measurements and goal settings.

To that end we launched “The Belly Off Weblog“, to track our progress. We did our initial measurements, and we’re under way.

Let the skinniest man win!

All New Comics’ almost acquisition

The latest version of All New Comics

The latest version of All New Comics

A couple of weeks ago I posted to Twitter that we were working on a huge deal that I was really excited about.

Peter and I had an opportunity come out of nowhere which would have allowed us to buy a competitor outright for a fairly small amount of money. I was excited about their website as I really want to move All New Comics forward, but haven’t had the time, and I was excited to post a big press release saying that we had made a major acquisition.

Sadly, I didn’t get to make that announcement.

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