REMARKS 04/21/07

Last modified: Saturday, March 21, 2007 8:39 AM

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04/21/07- JUST BE THANKFUL THIS ISN'T ONE OF THOSE ICKY AND INDULGENT 10-YEAR RETROSPECTIVES
By the calendar, it's still a few months too early for that (and I'll probably forget when it isn't). Instead, this is another one of those worthless "nuttin' goin' on" updates... However, if this shows up when someone Googles "ev1servers.net", then this update has served its purpose.

I've changed web hosts again (as of 04/11/07). You probably didn't notice, because the domain-name changing stuff happened in the wee hours of the morning when only furriners and weirdos like me are awake. The down-time was pretty minimal, and there probably wouldn't have been any at all if ev1servers.net hadn't immediately turned off my account when I called to discontinue service (even though I was paid up for the month). I really wasn't too surprised by this since I'd dealt with their surly "technical support" before. Be wary of a company that doesn't tell you how to discontinue service and doesn't list phone contact numbers or address info on their website; I had to dig through my old e-mail to find a number, and fortunately that out-of-service number redirected me to the new number. What a pity... ev1.net used to be a really good, cheap ISP, and had served me well for many years.

The new webhost, Bluehost.com, seems like a good & solid company, with an attractive deal: 300GB of webspace for about $7 a month, no setup fee, with lots of webhost goodies that I'll probably never use. They even throw in a free domain registration, so you can have several seemingly independent domains hosted in the same webspace. I've been impressed with how usable and fault-tolerant their control panel is: I didn't follow their "addon domain" instructions very carefully (waiting 5 minutes after submitting a nameserver change to my registrar instead of 24 to 48 hours-- hey, I'm impatient!), and my website appeared to be dead. It turns out that the "Access denied" messages came from FTP'ing files using the Macintosh "Cyberduck" program. By default it doesn't change OS X's gestapo-like permissions to let other folks read your files (kinda necessary for a website). As slick as the MacBook and OS X are, I ended up using the good old Windoze standby, WinFTP, to do all the real work. It blazed through the 120 megs of files without choking or disconnecting-- at about the same speed that Cyberduck was able to change the permissions of the files I'd originally uploaded.

At any rate, it all seems to work now. I've even reactivated my "contact me" e-mail page; this time I'm using a form to see if it foils the address-harvesting robots. Also, thanks to a heads-up in the Guestbook, I learned of the broken links at the "Raunchy Projects" pages, a casualty of the first time I changed webhosts. It had been been broken for maybe only four or five months? Whoops... I'm glad that someone is actually looking at this stuff.

Since I'm talking computer-stuff: I'm very pleased with my new MacBook, although naturally, it triggered a spending frenzy. I won't go into all the gory details, but I do want to touch on one topic: My search for the perfect mouse. I went through two wireless mice before deciding that the aggravation of an iffy Bluetooth connection from a draining battery isn't worth the slight inconvenience of plugging in and dealing with a wire. I guess if you give Powerpoint presentations, it would be genuinely useful. Nope, not for me. I've determined that the perfect mouse is still the IBM Optical Scrollpoint, which I bought a number of years back. Once you get used to one, scrolling with a wheel (which is practically all you'll find at retail nowadays) will drive you nuts! Apparently, these didn't catch on and IBM doesn't make 'em anymore (I believe that Lenovo took over those duties); check eBay. They work fine with MacIntels too, without installing anything extra; I like 'em so much I've bought 4 of 'em, just in case (actually, one for each of the computers). I've been thinking that it would be really kewl to get a 1TB network drive and cat 6 cabling for the entertainment network-- because I'm too lazy to deal with discs. Talk about wretched excess...

Another new toy-- the iPod nano. I'm not really the type who likes to have dawn-to-dusk background music in my life, but I've been curious about the cultural-phenomenon, and was feeling a little left out. So I got one for my wife... so I could play around with it before I gave it to her. I'm totally impressed at how many CDs worth of music you can put in 8 GB, in such a small package. For your auto, don't waste your time and money on one of those worthless FM modulators; search the Internet for instructions on how to remove your radio/console and install a real iPod interface. Then stash it in your glovebox in shuffle mode, and drive around in your isolated bubble of music for months.

A digression upon a digression: Considering how litigious our society has become, I'm amazed that I haven't heard a peep about how driving and dealing with CDs don't mix-- especially since old-tech cassette players have been an extra cost option for quite a while now. Clearly, CDs are a lot more difficult to deal with as you're driving, compared to a sturdy cassette that you can just toss in the floorboard or grab without looking. In a country that's obsessed with governmental nannying and safety, you'd think that someone would bring this up. Where are the studies? Since cassettes are so old tech, the government obviously should mandate replacement of auto CD players with MP3 players. If it saves just one life, then it must be worth it, right?

 

Finally... I promised that this wouldn't be an icky & indulgent 10-year retrospective, but I feel compelled to say something, since it just dawned on me when I added the 2007 header in the index. I realize that I've been "on hiatus" for an awfully long time (and feel a little bit guilty for that), so maybe the 10-year chain should get moved back a bit? Naw...

Although this appears to be a hobby/modeling/dollmaking website, it's really just another hobby for me-- a publishing medium (and I'm a slacker at it, since I've limited myself to non-glitzy, basic non-compliant HTML). It started as a means of publishing captioned gags featuring the Star Wars figures I'd made, and evolved from there. During these 10 years, I've often strugged with the website and its "update obligation pressure" asserting control. It may be hard to imagine if you haven't been there, but there have been times when I've wondered what I really wanted to do, versus what the website was prompting me to do. It's often been easier to take cues from the website-- a diet of scantily-clad, large breasted dolls usually satisfied the beast, and I certainly haven't been adverse to making them. But it's healthy to take a few steps back to get some perspective. I've deliberately broken from the modeling/dollmaking focus several times, but in the back of my mind, it's always with apologies.

The current dearth of projects reflects what I'm currently not doing. During this hiatus, I've filled my time with lots of other interests, including most recently, the configuration of my new computer (the best new toys always take lots of futzing-around time). Generally speaking, I do try to write about stuff that's not covered elsewhere in great detail by much more knowledgeable folks... so that rules out writing about most of my new interests. In the world of 12" dolls/figures, I've chosen to focus on the oddball, out-of-the-mainstream stuff. If you want to know about the latest 40 Anniversary GI Joe Action Man stuff, there's plenty of info out there. However, if you have quirky tastes and want to know about 12" Ultraman monsters, I'll try my best to give the topic some Internet presence.

The Internet has changed a lot in these 10 years. In some respects, it mirrors what happens with computers: as the hardware gets faster, the programs get more bloated, so you don't benefit as much from the increased speed. As more people have high-speed Internet connections, websites have proliferated and have become more bloated with glitz. I think the main downside of this is noise: Do a search for an item, and many of the sites will have the exact same text. Therefore, you have to spend more time searching to find a website that offers a unique assessment of the item. Although this website is certainly guilty of leading people on dead-end searches (it's cuz I throw lots of words at the search engines), I'm proud of the fact that it's not cloned content. Perhaps if someone is interested in a "Scrollpoint mouse", they'll make it past all the identical vendor pages and find my honest and subjective opinion? Likewise, when I was looking for clues on how to repair my dryer and remove my car stereo, I was thankful that there were still free pages written by folks who just wanted to add to this vast library.

What I'm driving at: If you've got some specialized knowledge or a unique perspective, get off your ass and share it on the Internet! Become a contributor. It's the only way to offset the noise generated by the e-commerce sites, and it'll make the Internet a bit more interesting.

Here's something that I thought was both funny and ironic-- a while back, the website got a sudden spike in traffic. I checked out the message board where it was originating, and several of my images had been posted, framed with clever captions. There weren't a lot of comments, but besides the usual "what a weirdo!", there was also the other usual, "that guy has too much time on his hands!". Okay, valid points, but from an RPG board??? (y'know, "Dungeons & Dragons") Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk...


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