Archive for Site News

The Magic Spreadsheet and Other Plans

I noticed the other day that in 2015 I had only written one blog entry. Normally I would have an excuse that I had been writing elsewhere, but I haven’t. Most of my writing projects have puttered out.

First and foremost, I stopped doing reviews for Shakefire. The main reason I stopped was because of the garbage I was being given to review. I don’t blame the guy running the site, he has things that need to be reviewed, and since I have a regular day job I can’t go see movie screenings in the middle of the day, so instead I get mailed a pile of DVDs and CDs. While the music was of varying quality, and I even discovered a new band or two, the movies were almost all terrible. The lowest budget of horror films. It is depressing to always review garbage. So I quit.

Next, for “reasons”, the Man vs Wife series of game reviews I was doing petered out.

I also tried writing some fitness blog type stuff. But I’m not very fit (yet) and what I wrote was trash.

There are various projects I have by noodling with, but I’ve been down on fiction writing ever since I pushed myself to “win” NaNoWriMo a couple years ago. Winning involved me just puking out the most insipid drivel I’ve ever written and soured me on the novel and on writing.

All that leads me to my new effort to get back into writing. This new writing will include blogs and other things, but all of it will result in a daily word total that I will put up on The Magic Spreadsheet.

What is The Magic Spreadsheet? Well, it’s this. That’s a link to a Facebook group where you can find the link to the latest spreadsheet. Basically, it is a tool to try to encourage writing every day. To join, you just open the spreadsheet (it is a Google Doc) and find a free line on the appropriate page (the first sheet includes instructions on how to find the right page) and put your name on it. Then you write, and you come back and put your totals in. You earn points, both for how much you writer and for how long your unbroken chain of daily writing is. When you have enough points you can level up, which allows you to get more points for writing more. At the lowest level you need only to write 250 words a day. That’s just a couple paragraphs. I mean, this blog post is over 700 words. As of this writing, I am on my 3rd day. Hopefully I can stick with this.

In addition to the Magic Spreadsheet, I’m also trying to put together a schedule for some other projects I have, things I need to do on a regular or semi-regular basis, most of which involve writing, but some of which involve drawing, and some involve speaking, and some involve music, and some involve exercise.

Oh, exercise. I’m back on the 5BX bandwagon. If you are reading this and it intrigues you and you are a woman, there is XBX for you. I have finished the first chart and moved to the second. The full push-ups of the second chart are proving to be more difficult, so my progress has slowed.

With exercise goes “diet”, and by that I don’t mean “doing some fad binge thing to try to lose weight fast and then gain it all back when I quit”. What I mean is making small changes to my diet to include better foods. More vegetables, less junk. More water, less soda.

And both the exercise and diet are being spurred on by the fact that I’m going on a cruise the first week of July, and I would like to be in much better shape by then.

All of this comes on the heels of recently reading Surprisingly…Unstuck. I’ve read a few self help / motivation books before, but this one has to be one of the cleanest presentations of simple information that is bound to work for everyone. Most of it is exceedingly simple, but also the sort of things you might not think about on your own until someone points them out. In fact, it’s so simple that the book gets a bit repetitive at the end. Still very worth reading.

So, that’s it for now. I’m going to try to be back here more often, if for no other reason that to keep a log of things I’m doing for myself and to point the five people who might be reading my blog to other projects of mine as I work on them.

New feature on the main site…

MovieMash-SampleOf all the places I posted it, here wasn’t one of them… So, now, without further ado, I introduce to you: Movie Mash.

If you are a long time reader, you might recall for nearly two years I used to do these movie round-ups where I would give a run down of the movies releasing in theaters that week. And you might recall that for a good portion of those posts I would mock up a “super poster”, photoshopping all the movies together into one glorious mess.

Well, I’m bringing that back, sort of. The Movie Mash is where I will take, when inspired, two or more of the movies releasing on a given Friday, make a mock poster for the movie they would be if they were just one movie, and write up a synopsis of the new plot that goes with it.

I’ve already begun, with Scary Movie 42 last week and The Lords of Oblivion this week, and I’m already working on future ones. So check it out, and be sure to add the main site to your RSS reader or favorites to keep up with the latest going on over there.

Below, I’ve included my previous movie poster efforts.

Enjoy!

Choose My Adventure

Supercomputer-CYOAI am addicted to the Humble Bundles. I have bought them all and played none of them. I always intend to play them, but now I am faced with a giant list of games and no way to decide for myself which one to start with. So, dear readers, I turn to you.

Please take a moment, check out this list and vote for as many as 5 games. The game with the most votes will be the one that I play first, then the one with the next most, and so on, until I run out of games or feel the need to post another poll. As incentive, I promise to review each game that I play, thus giving you more things to read at this blog.

Which game should I play next?

  • Torchlight (32%, 6 Votes)
  • Psychonauts (21%, 4 Votes)
  • Braid (16%, 3 Votes)
  • Dungeons of Dredmor (16%, 3 Votes)
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent (16%, 3 Votes)
  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (11%, 2 Votes)
  • Super Meat Boy (11%, 2 Votes)
  • VVVVVV (11%, 2 Votes)
  • TRAUMA (11%, 2 Votes)
  • Legend of Grimrock (11%, 2 Votes)
  • Gratuitous Space Battles (11%, 2 Votes)
  • Space Pirates and Zombies (11%, 2 Votes)
  • Cortex Command (11%, 2 Votes)
  • Darwinia (11%, 2 Votes)
  • SpaceChem (5%, 1 Votes)
  • Osmos (5%, 1 Votes)
  • Jamestown (5%, 1 Votes)
  • Trine (5%, 1 Votes)
  • LIMBO (5%, 1 Votes)
  • Frozen Synapse (5%, 1 Votes)
  • Cave Story+ (5%, 1 Votes)
  • Dungeon Defenders (5%, 1 Votes)
  • BIT.TRIP RUNNER (5%, 1 Votes)
  • Snapshot (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Shatter (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Steel Storm: Burning Retribution (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Basement Collection (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Atom Zombie Smasher (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Aquaria (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Machinarium (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Uplink (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Vessel (0%, 0 Votes)
  • And Yet It Moves (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Wizorb (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Shank (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Shadowgrounds (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Samorost 2 (0%, 0 Votes)
  • DEFCON (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Crayon Physics Deluxe (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Dustforce (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Gish (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Hammerfight (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Cogs (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Lone Survivor (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Lugaru HD (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Closure (0%, 0 Votes)
  • NightSky (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Offspring Fling (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Penumbra: Overture (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Revenge of the Titans (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Rochard (0%, 0 Votes)
  • World of Goo (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 19

Loading ... Loading ...

I’ll be playing these games on Steam, so if you are also on Steam, feel free to add me as a friend. I go by Jhaer over there.

Thank you for your time.

And now…

… we interrupt this silence with a bit of posting.

So, the server on which my website resides is having hardware troubles. It is being fixed, and in the meantime the are running and loading backups or some such… all I know is that I get a big notice in my control panel that says they are doing stuff and apologize for the inconvenience. Thus, I have avoided trying to post things in fear that something will go wrong and they’ll revert to a backup that is missing the latest stuff.

Until they get it all sorted, I’ll go back to hiding.

See you soon…

I’m gonna miss you, October.

I don’t know who Adrian Snell is, but I may have to buy this album just to support such cool cover art.

I logged into the site this morning, to the WordPress dashboard, and saw the graph of my site stats.

For nearly an entire month, the traffic here was triple or more where it usually peaks. Of course, that was due to putting up a post every day about a horror movie with a Halloween tag on them. The biggest draws being the posts about vampires. The Nosferatu post alone doubled the traffic in a day.

On Halloween itself, the traffic dropped to half what it had been. And then yesterday was back to regular levels, where I suspect it will stay until December, when I might go on a Christmas movie reviewing spree.

However, those lofty heights of getting nearly 400 hits per day has strengthened my resolve in one way – I need to post more, and consistently. I may not succeed in daily postings, but I’m going to try very hard to keep October’s posting momentum through November.

At the very least, coming to post here every day this month will give me an opportunity to say things like – Day 1 of NaNoWriMo and I got 2,236 words. Probably my best start ever.

Anyway… post at ya later!

And I was doing so well…

Two weeks. And not long before that there was a ten day gap. I blame a lot of things. The untimely end of the Rebuild project was a bit of a blow. I had intended that to be a weekly feature here on the blog for a long while, and my motivation to start back up has been flagging. I will though, as I plan to sit down on the coming weekend and play through the entire game in one or two sittings to get all the details and screen shots I need, that way the game can’t delete on me again. This will have the unfortunate side effect of me knowing how it ends before I start, knowing who dies before I create them, which is less fun for me as I enjoyed the idea of being shocked and then forced to write out the scenes. I also needed to revisit how I did the screen shots. Before I was manually doing Alt+PrtScr and then pasting into GIMP, but now I’ve got IrfanView which will give me a simple key combination that will screen shot directly to a file in a directory of my choosing, so I can speed through the game. Then I’ll probably take a week or so off and start writing, hoping I’ve forgotten exactly what happens to any individual character.

I’m also working on Season 2 of Man vs Wife. I’m calling it Season 2 because of the, at first, unintentional break we took. In part this was because Dungeon! was such a bad play. I mean, I like the game, but the 2 player version in the manner we chose to play it was rough. The wife hasn’t really felt like playing much, though I did manage to get her to play Fluxx (the write-up for which is going to be hilarious). Any way, so I decided that we are going to line up about 8 games and then do a marathon weekend, which will become Season 2, eventually. I just need to find 8 games worth playing. And I might cheat in order for me to actually win a game – I’ve got a copy of Trivial Pursuit, Genus Edition from the mid-1980s that I’ve played a lot, plus I am a fountain of inane and useless information, and she isn’t.

In spite of not doing much writing for the blog, I’ve actually been writing quite a bit. Reviews for Shakefire as well as my own stuff. I got crafty and took a couple of Sharpies to my NEO and now instead of being Sherman Tank green it’s black on the back and has a nice blood-red top. I haven’t colored the keys yet, and I’m not 100% sure I will. I kinda like that the keys stand out. I’ll post a picture at some point, once I’m sure it’s done.

Speaking of crafty… Dragon*Con is also coming up, and we’ve been trying to actually put together ideas for costumes AND execute them. That second part will be a new endeavor this year as we usually just dream them up and never do anything.

Also, I’ve been sort of working on an idea for a podcast. It’s still in idea mode and I’m working out some of the logistics, but I think it’ll be pretty cool, and different. Maybe… it also might suck royally. Or I might drop the idea and simply not do it.

Anyway, more to come, I promise.

Things Are Afoot

I’ve been a little lax in posting to my blog. Which isn’t unusual at all. Since 1998, in all its various forms, my blog has always been updated in fits and starts. I post every day for a couple of weeks and then vanish, more or less. Sometimes the posting lasts longer, sometimes shorter, and sometimes the gaps are narrow and sometimes the gaps are wide. Many times I try to break this habit by instituting series of posts. However, most times the series dies, either because I lose interest or because no one else seems to care (I’ve come to grips with the fact that blogging is essentially attention whoring, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying when no one comments on what I blog).

This time, despite the most recent gap, I have a real plan.

From this day forward, this blog will continue to be about personal random thoughts – sometimes on gaming, sometimes on zombies, sometimes on writing, and more – but will also serve as a crucible for ideas. This is really no different from how it has been as I’ve always just sort of thrown things against the wall to see what sticks. The important change is what happens when something sticks.

ProbablyNot LimitedIntroducing, ProbablyNot Limited.

Once upon a time, this blog was at the root of the domain, and then I moved it to this sub-domain with the idea that I would do something with the main site. I redesigned the site a bunch of times. I even temporarily had it looking more business like with products and services and everything – and some of that might show up again, depending on what direction things go in. But I finally got things “right” in that I finished the design and actually am happy with it, to the point of putting real content there instead of half-assing it.

With the design done, now when something from this blog “sticks” (which has more to do with me and less to do with you – I’m getting better at that not needing attention thing) it will migrate to the main site. For example, the Man vs Wife series. Friday’s post will be the last time it appears in full on this blog. In the future, posts here will be more of a “Hey, another Man vs Wife is up! Go check it out!” with the full post being on the ProbablyNot Limited site. So, yeah, I’m going to make you check two websites! (Or at least subscribe to two RSS feeds.)

So, we’ll see how this goes. In a few months it may be a total crash and burn, but I’m hoping not.

Ads

I’ve toyed with ads on the site from time to time. Right now in my RSS feed there are three ads – a Google block, a GameTap ad, and an Amazon ad for Kindle/eBooks. None of them are doing well, but that’s probably because I only have about 70 people who read that feed. On the site itself, I’ve put up Google blocks and Amazon ads, I had the GameTap ad for a little while and I’ve recently switched over to an Amazon search widget (if you use it when you start your Amazoning, I’ll get a tiny commission from anything you buy). I’ve even thought about throwing up a PayPal donation button, but I would feel terrible about that unless I have at least one semi-popular regular feature (see: Man vs Wife – no really, read it and if you enjoy it, share it with others – the more people who read it, the more I’m apt to write it).

This morning I read this article over at Pajiba. It’s worth reading to get an idea of what goes behind funding a popular website. Now, I’m not popular, but it does cost me around $200 a year to keep this place going – a cost I happily pay because I like having the outlet. Then again, I’m not very heavy on traffic. I don’t get 3+ million page views a month. I get about 800, but it is climbing as I post more regularly. I’m incredibly lucky if I earn $1 a month. My best month ever was when someone used my Amazon link and then went on to buy over $5,000 worth of electronics. No other month has even come close.

VisitChart

Pageviews vs Unique Visitors - Not many people come here, but some come twice a day.

However, one of the main things I wanted to point out from that article was the mention of ad-blockers. Yes, running ad-blocking is probably the safest thing you can do, since ads are an attack vector. However, when you do that, you are also dropping yourself from the “view” count for the ads on the sites you visit. Since the ads are how they afford to keep making the content, visiting a site with ad-block running is, essentially, a form of piracy. Now, I know that piracy is a big scary word that gets tossed around a lot, but it does have meaning and it applies here.

But what if a site has terrible ads full of viruses and not-safe-for-work content that I need to block?

Well, in my opinion, if the people who run a site don’t care enough to provide safe ads for their visitors, then you probably shouldn’t reward them with visits regardless of how awesome you think the site’s main content is, so just stop going. Find another site to get that content from, one that cares about its readers. And don’t forget to send in a nicely worded (don’t be profane) email to the offending website and let them know why you won’t be coming back – they just might decide to fix it.

If you enjoy a site for content, unblock it – most ad-blockers have the ability to “white list” sites to allow ads. Keep your anti-virus up to date, and if you get a warning from an ad, contact the site owner and let them know. They actually want to know because they don’t want to be infecting their readers with viruses. Another option is to browse using a browser like Google Chrome which maintains its own Flash, PDF and other things inside its sandbox and doesn’t allow access outside of the browser. And since Chrome automatically updates itself all the time, you don’t have to remember to check for new updates and you can browse with the knowledge that you’ve always got the latest attack protections the team at Google has released.

Basically, you should seek to reward the sites you enjoy because without the reward they’ll fade away.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling from me for today…

dot Tumblr dot Com

If you haven’t caught it through other social media avenues, or by the appearance of the link over to the right on the weblog, I have a tumblr now.

It’s just another stream to follow… what’ll be over there is largely going to be pictures I take on my phone and then share. I could do that through the blog here with the WordPress app, but I haven’t liked the results of blogging from the app. It always seems to be formatted weird, and I have to fix it again later.

It’s not about the price tag

But it is about the tag. Or tags.

Back in the day, you just blogged and put it in a category. Then came the ability to throw a single post into multiple categories. Then… I’m not sure when, maybe with livejournal or similar sites, we started tagging posts with moods. “happy” wasn’t a category, but you’d have posts in many categories tagged as such. Over time, tags became more formalized, and with Web 2.0 and SEO (that’s Search Engine Optimization for the uninitiated) they became more important than categories.

Much like I still often refer to this place as a “weblog” instead of a “blog”, I tend to resist change, mostly because I hate change for changes sake. If it has purpose though… well, after years of ignoring the tagging features of the blog software’s I’ve used, I’ve finally caved in. This site will now be tagged.

To assist me with this, I’ve installed an auto-tagging plugin and this morning I ran it on all the old posts to see how it would do. It did horribly. And now I’m too lazy to spend too much time fixing it. It created over 4,000 tags for my just over 1,400 posts, and some of them are really stupid. I installed a second plugin that recommended I erase about 2,900 of those tags, and I did. However, going forward, I’ll spend the effort to better police the auto-tagging and make corrections as appropriate. In the meantime, enjoy the word cloud on my blog over on the right entitled “Partly Cloudy”. If I enjoy the tags, I’ll get a better plugin for them later.

And in order to spice up this otherwise boring post, enjoy this music video: