Month: July 2006

What does victory smell like?

Apparently victory smells like bacon. Fabio flavoured bacon that is. After being stooged out by the “5-oh”, and being unable to appear at this year's Bond Street Cup (for reasons which I am still unable to speak about on the authority of my team of French Lawyers), my Bond Street Cup trophy has been moved from the protective bunker in my home which it is usually kept in, and was awarded to April “The Fuzz” B and Fabio “The Itallian Stallion” R.

To make matters worse, Fabio sent out the following taunt on Friday;

Bionic man found in Ajax
Weekly World News

The Jax (WWN) – Local residents say that there has been a lot of strange noises emanating from a new subdivision in the metropolis of Ajax. “It sounds almost human, but I'm not sure”, stated local resident Jimmy Stanton, “Its starting to scare the kids.”

Further investigation has uncovered that a certain “Brain Garside” has had a bionic elbow implanted into his right arm. He was hoping to capture the vaunted Bond Street Cup Quoits championship for the second consecutive year. The initial operation went fine, however, when interfacing with the state of the art Windows ME software to control arm angle, launch velocity and release point, something went wrong.
“All I heard was screaming,” mumbled neighbor Marshall Durst.
“Something about not having a security pack or patch or something.
Beats me.”

Several eyewitness report that “Brain's” arm kept trying to twist into strange shapes. “I was right there,” proclaimed Ajaxian 'Slim' Jones, “His arm was doin' all kinds of bendy things and he was saying things like 'It looks like you are trying to write a letter'. It ain't normal I tell ya.”

There have been rumours of failed blood tests and possible HGH abuses, but those have been laughed at by area residents. “All I saw was a huge arc welder and a bunch of boxes of software,” said Gary Bellmore, “Oh yeah, and some comics too.”

Then on Monday, April sent out the following totally gloaty message:

Just want to send a “SHOUT OUT” to all my fans……..actually, I'd really like to thank Nikki and Tim and their secret spy/weapon; Sophie for the great tourny on Sat. It was a lot of fun!! Nice to see everyone there!

And Fab, a heart felt, “thanks man, for making my dream come true” going out to you brotha, couldn't have done it without you.

So “Brain”, Brian, whoever you are, 2007 is just around the proverbial corner, I just hope you're ready.

April “don't tell anyone about my obsession with 'roids” B

Hmmm, I get stooged by the “5-oh”, and the fuzz wins the coveted Bond Street Cup.

I smell a conspiracy. Next year things will be different, and the Bond Street Cup will return to it's rightful place on my mantle.

Tim, I think we should consider putting an asterix next to this year's victory since NEITHER of the previous year's winners were able to be on hand to defend their championship.

Fab, April, congratulations on your victory. Enjoy the victory, next year I shall come with great vengeance and furious anger, and you will know my name is the Roqq.

Garside fails drug test for Bond Street Cup

Canadian Press

7/27/2006 11:29:32 AM

Toronto (CP) – Bond Street Cup champion Brian Garside tested positive for high levels of testosterone during competition, his QuoitsNation team said Thursday on its website, raising questions about his previous victory on Bond Street, and barring him from the coming games this Saturday.

The team suspended Garside, pending results of the backup “B” sample of his drug test, just four days after Garside stood on the victory podium on the Champs-Elysees, succeeding Quebec born seven-time winner Louis Vitrol as a Canadian winner in Paris.

The Swiss-financed QuoitsNation team said it was notified by the Federation de Quoites Internationalle on Wednesday that Garside' sample showed “an unusual level of testosterone/epitestosterone” when he was tested after the third game in the championship series last Thursday.

“The team management and the throwist were both totally surprised of this physiological result,” the QuoitsNation statement said.

Garside made a remarkable comeback in that game, taking a decisive victory that moved him from 11th to third in the overall standings. He regained the leader's position two days later.

Garside has played the entire season with a degenerative hip condition that he has said will require surgery in the coming weeks or months.

Margaret Garside, his mother, said Thursday that she wouldn't blame her son if he was taking medication to treat the pain in his injured hip, but “if it's something worse than that, then he doesn't deserve to win.”

“I didn't talk to him since that hit the fan, but I'm keeping things even keel until I know what the facts are,” she said from her home in London, Ontario. “I know that this is a temptation to every throwist but I'm not going to jump to conclusions … It disappoints me.”

The QuoitsNation statement came a day after the FQI, the quoits' world governing body, said an unidentified throwist had failed a drug test during the championships.

Okay, it's not entirely true, I just double-booked myself this weekend and can't make the Bond Street Cup Quoits tournament to defend my championship. Hey, the good news is that there will be a new champ this year!

Nearly ready to take over the world

Kaylin T. Mouse (the “t” stands for “The” or “Tiberious” depending on my mood by the way) has reached yet another development milestone. She now says actual real life words, and what's more they're words that people other than us can (kind of) understand.

One of Kaylin's favourite things to do is read books. One of the first things she does in the morning is points to her shelf of books. She then takes a book and flips the pages, pointing at certain things, and gibbering away to herself.

This then morphed into her saying words.

First up was “Kitty”, the girl has got some powerful fascination with kitties, and I'm not sure why. For the first 8 months of her life this little stuffed Ty Persian kitty named Peaches sat under a chair in her bedroom (the chair which holds “The bear in the chair” and “Chair bunny” as I refer to them every night). One day she discovered this kitty under the chair and picked her up and hugged her. Then she started dragging kitty around the house, and saying “kiy key kiy key” under her breath. That transformed into “Kitty” one day, and we declared that her first official word. She points to kitties in books, and with great gusto nods her head and says “Kitty”.

Word number two was definately ball, or as she says it (pronouncing every letter) “baaaaaawwwwwwwwlllll”, she grabs a ball and holds it chanting “baaaawwwwwlll” over and over again in her cute little girl voice.

Her first sign was for Duck (she quacks her hand like a duck's beak quacking), because of this great little song Char sang to her for months, but last week she started saying “Duuut”, which I'm pretty sure is “Duck”.

The other day she started pointing at pictures of herself and saying “Kay!”, which we think means Kaylin.

Put them together and you've almost got a sentence! “Kay dut bawwwwwwwwl kitty”.

Of course that's not the end of her brilliance. She also points out a variety of objects and animals, she can find puppies, balls, apples, bannanas, kitties and ducks in her books. The best is when you relate a new word to an item and you see the wheels turning in her head as synapses are forming and she's associating things with these wonderful things called words.

Last night though the best thing ever happened. We were listening to the Beatles song “Blackbird”, which is one of my favourite tunes of all time (even though I'm an Elvis guy, not a Beatles cat), and towards the end of the song a bird starts singing. Kaylin started pointing at the speaker, and Char and I watched her as she frantically started tearing through a nearby book. She got to the picture of the Parrot and urgently started pointing at it! “Yeah Kaylin, BIRDIE!” we both said excitedly, “Birdie!”.

That's by far my favourite moment of the week…isn't it odd how all of my favourite moments these days have to do with my awesome little girl and her beautiful mom?

Spam is out of control!

Okay, I'm at a loss. I'm being entirely overwhelmed by spam, to the point where it is taking an inordinate amount of time out of my day to sort through what is Spam and what is not. Email spam, comment spam, hotmail spam, gmail spam, work spam, home spam, and now frigging Email form spam! It's out of control, and it has to stop!

At work I get approximately 2 spam messages for every 1 legit email that goes through. Our crack IT staff claims that we have a spam guard, but it's letting the obscure stuff through (to their credit, I get no porn spam anymore, but I get a buttload of viagra ads…maybe that's telling me something).

My Hotmail account has been innundated with spam of late, on a 1-1 level (and the rest of the “legit” emails are usually from a mailing list that I've signed up for accidentally while filling in one of the countless numbers of registrations (I registered for 2 more sites just today alone).

My Gmail account gets very little spam, but I'm still seeing 1 or 2 spam messages a week…odd since the only people who know about that account are Google (for my AdWords and Analytics accounts).

My home account gets a few spam a day, but Office's Junk Mail feature seems to catch most of them.

Where it's out of control however is this very site (and All New Comics). The Spam Trolls have latched onto story 21, 6 and 4. The TSN.ca Reloaded story (number 21) gets the most, with spams from such clever names as “Fetish Comment”, Bob Comment, Flights Comment, Terry Comment, and Zen Comment. Here's my favourite part. These comment spammed pages just suck. They usually have dumb assed things to say, and they're just link collections for things nobody would care to click on anyway. Here's an example from “Wedding Comment”

It's a link to a wedding planner. The link goes to a page with more links. That's it. I was going to put the link in there, but you know what? Eff those guys.

Spammers and spam autobots, please read these words carefully with your automated opticizers.

Your

Comments

Will

Never

Get

Through

I approve each and every comment on my website, as a result when I see your bullshit, I simply hit the Delete button. Even better? I changed the approval process so it defaults to delete! Your comments will never get seen by anyone, not even me!

So just go away, you're wasting your own precious resources and everyone's time.

The crap thing is I removed commenting from that story months ago, and the damn bots are STILL getting through somehow. Guess I'll just have to break my comment form to get the message out.

Spam. I hate spam.

Cool web sites that I like

I'm a web guy, it's what I do, it's what I like, some might even go so far as to call me a “mouse potatoe”. So these are the links that I've accumulated this week. Good sites, fun sites, and sites that I go to all the time:

TWiT.tv – relaunched and slightly rebranded. I love the new look, and I really like the embedded player.

Ted Serbinski's TWiT.tv redsign blog – One of the guys behind the revamp of TWiT.tv. Because of this site I finally figured out what I am, I'm not a web designer, developer, or designeloper, I'm a web architect! I think I may even have a HeadsDown business card that says that. From Ted's “About Me” page:

he’s not just a web designer, but a web architect. he understands the process from start to end (is there ever really an end though?), inside and out. database schemas, to information architecture, to complex PHP XML parsing functions, to Photoshop skills, to whatever is thrown his way. nothing ever too much.

Drupal – The publishing tool that's powering TWiT.tv

ArkTyp – Amber McCarthy's team who helped design TWiT.tv

Joomla! – Another publishing tool that's really nice to look at.

UFO's – Unobtrusive Flash Objects. Very cool. Very valid.

Stop HobbyStar – A little side project of mine which is aimed at getting HobbyStar marketing to stop their agressive tactics.

Bleeding Star Clothing – I'm loving that “Grunge club” look these days. It's oh so 2006 don'tcha know?

Hazmat – Grungy, gritty, and totally crazy. Love the look. I love the vectors combined with photography look.

Embedding Flash in HTML (2006)
With the Eolas patent lawsuit this is yet another problem we have to deal with. Crappy.

Ars Technica
I used to visit this site quite a bit, a recent overhaul and makeover has made it awesome.

Flash vs Windows Media: Choosing the right format
It's a big question for us streaming media types. What's the right way to go?

SDCC 2006: San Diego Comic Con International
I heard the HobbyStar show referred to as Nerd Prom…but come on, what's the more nerd prom? The largest convention in North America, or the 5th largest comics convention in North America?

Getting the word out

It has been a busy bunch of months, but finally after all that time, I'm off for a week! Time to sit down, take a load off, chillax, and do pretty much nothing.

…or maybe not.

I'm pretty much swamped at work lately, even with the addition of a new developer. Actually, that's caused more work for me in the short term as I have to start building work plans, project plans, and many other plans so that all of the developers (and our graphic designer) have plenty to do to keep them occupied.

Then there's a ton of other extracurricular activities I need to finish, such as performance reviews, interviews for a new developer, and various discovery documents (not to mention documentation in general).

This week I'm going to try to crank a few of those things off, and I'm going to attempt to read a book or two as well. I've got my eye on “Getting Things Done”, which I've had on my shelf since the cruise a year and a half ago. In addition to that, I'm going to read “CSS Mastery”, which is an awesome book on CSS design…yes I'm pretty much a guru, but it's always fun to learn new stuff.

All New Comics has settled into a nice little pattern. Every week I spend 2-3 hours updating the site on Sunday with the new stuff for the week. This involves finding cover images for every comic we get every week (an average of 20-25 titles which go on the site weekly), finding a blurb about each book, consulting with our inventory to figure out how many go online vs how many go to pulls, and going through the store admin to upload all of that good stuff. Then I write a little blurb, post it as news, put it on the front page, and make sure everything's organized just right.

I also usually look at our analytics to see what's being searched for, who's talking about the site on message boards etc, and if there are any new customers whom I should communicate with.

This week is additionally busy as I have to add a few dozen products to our subscription routine, which will keep me busy for a few hours.

Our AdWords are generating about 150 or so new visits every month, and our sales have definately increased. We're actually where I expected us to be at this point, but now we need to step it up so that we're making more sales and getting more people subscribed. I'd like to see us double our subscriptions by the end of the summer, and double our monthly sales as well.

It would also be nice if Pete and I weren't our own largest customers every month.

That part I doubt will happen anytime soon though. We both read far too much, and buy way too many little extras. It's not our fault though, the companies keep on putting out so much good stuff that we've gotta keep buying it all!