Man, I hate unsolicited soliciting. I hate SPAM, I hate
junk mail, and I hate it when telemarketers call.
They pestered us at least 4 times today, and
that's not counting all the telemarketers who hung up
when the answering machine kicked on. I sincerely hope
North Carolina passes a law against this obnoxious method
When you get junk mail, you can exact a
small revenge upon the offender by mailing them a "stop sending
me this crap!" letter in the return envelope, for which
they must pay postage. I've even heard of people mailing back
boxes of rocks with the return envelope taped to the
box. Not that I recommend such behavior... but then again,
I can't honestly say I'm against it.
With telemarketers, the most you can do is tell the
caller to take you off their solicitation list (always
do this- I believe they are obligated by law to never
call you again, at least where I live). I don't
condone yelling at these people, though.
More often than not they are just doing a job that they
hate, dealing with angry people on the other end all
day. The poor slob on the phone isn't the problem, it's the
company he works for that I despise. I'm at the point
where I will refuse to buy any product from a company
that tries to sell me stuff over the phone- even if it is
a product I would have normally purchased!
And now for something less bitter... Last week we saw the band
Airlines play in Chapel Hill, and they rocked us both. Jen
was hyper-ecstatic for hours after the show. It was
the second time we saw them, but this time was even
better because they had a second guitarist (which really
helps the sound live) and twice as much material. If
those guys are coming to your town (and if you like to
rock), go see them!
Something interesting happened over the weekend... Our
website's traffic spiked to about 10 times the normal
level. I couldn't deduce why this occured,
but I figured out from the site logs that most all
of the new visitors came from Finland. So, I guess we
received the equivalent of a Finnish Slashdotting :)
To our Finnish guests, Kiitos! ("Thank You")
Saanko tarjota sinulle drinkin? ("Can I buy you a
Recently my brother Tod sent me an interesting link
to a Salon article about Microsoft
cracking down on pirated software in the public school
system. I ended up writing a little rant that actually
sort of defends Microsoft (quick, cut out my tongue!).
You can read it
if you are one of those people who likes to read
rants. Personally, I never thought of myself as the
rant-posting type, but I guess now I am.
Now Get 50% More Hackles, Absolutely Free!
That's right! Jen & I decided to just go for it and update 3x per
week instead of 2x. We've wanted to do this for some
time but didn't want to start something we weren't
sure we could follow through on. Both our schedules have been
pretty full since this comic started.
Really, our schedules haven't lightened up any since
then, but we figured we just need to jump into this
with both feet. Plus, I've become faster at drawing and
Jen is always learning time-saving tricks on
the Gimp. The strips are definitely coming faster these days.
So look forward to 1/2 more wackiness compressed into
the same amount of time! That's a lot of wackiness.
I finally succumbed to the dark side. I recently bought another computer-
and left Windows 98 on it. Yes I know, Microsoft is evil, Windows sucks, blah
blah, but it is nice having the ability to play Dungeon
Keeper II once in a while, and now I can watch a DVD without
breaking the frickin' law.
This is something I'd wanted to get for a while but couldn't really
justify the expense. But last week Jen, Blue, and I went to one
of those itinerant computer shows in Raleigh, and I spied a table
selling 800 MHz Duron machines with 128 MB RAM, 20 GB HD, and DVD-ROM
for only $330! How could I resist?
Now, the vendors at these things can be pretty shady- here are
virtually untraceable "companies" selling merchandise of questionable
origin, at rock bottom prices. The fact that the guy at this table
spoke with a rather evil-sounding Russian accent didn't help my
confidence either. "Da, of course ve have varranty plan!" But the
good judgment part of my brain took a backseat to the computer-show
feeding-frenzy part of my brain, and I bought the thing.
And what do you know, it works fine! So now we have a pretty cool
setup at home; three desktops and a laptop networked together, all
Linux except for my new box. The heat generated in our computer room
reaches sauna proportions when the door and windows are closed. And
the sound of all the fans whirring at once approximates the
background noise of a typical airport. How do I like the new machine I
bought? Well, I played a couple levels of Myth II the other day, and
that was cool. Other than that, I haven't really used it. But I got a
great deal, eh?
We just saw
Memento yesterday, and it was pretty darn good. In
this day and age, when bombastic
Bruckheimer blockbusters like
Harbor seem to get all the attention, it's nice to
see a movie made with creativity and intelligence.
If you did watch Memento you might like
Fight Club strip I came across. If you didn't
watch it, go now! It's a well crafted piece of work, I
While we're on that topic, I guess I'll ramble on about
movies for a bit... Shrek
was hilarious. Much more creative than your average Disney-ish
animated adventure, and beautifully computer-rendered to
boot. In the want-to-see department, Jen and I are looking forward to
Dogs- who could
resist a good animal world domination plot? And of
course we're both psyched for Tomb Raider (Mmmm)
and Final Fantasy (Oooh)... our summer is booked!
In Hackles news, I put up instructions for adding the comic to your
website. Be our guests! I actually stole this idea
from the BadTech online
comic... Hey, "embrace and extend"- that's what innovation
is all about, right? Bill Gates would be proud.
Someone save us, the "tontos" are coming! What the heck is
this article talking about anyway? Initially, it looks like a
mildly interesting piece on video game piracy or
something. However, once I tried reading it, my mind
started to warp from the journalistic insanity I had
unleashed upon it.
"MPSJ president Ahmad Fuad Ismail said he noticed that
'tontos' are back to hound their backyard and follow
enforcement teams on their rounds."
So a tonto is like some sort of dog? Or stalker? What
kind of reporter would introduce a term like "tonto"
and expect the casual reader to know what one is?
Well enough of that. This really isn't a rant... I don't
care enough about "tontos" to rant about them. I just
think that inane journalism is funny.
Today's strip was especially fun to make. It's cool to see the
transformation from Drake's original sketch to the finished
product. First, he does a rough storyboard. Then, he draws a good copy
and inks it. Finally, I scan it and work some magic with the
GIMP. It's a lot of fun and we enjoy working together. Take a look at
Well, we've put up a new survey. We listed some favorite pet
peeves and you can vote for the one that irritates you most. Personally,
leaf blowers are at the top of my list. They're noisy and create big dust
clouds. Plus their two-cycle engines create a lot of pollution because
they burn oil.
The same guy who uses a leaf blower probably spends a
lot of money on a gym membership to stay in shape. Try a broom or a
rake! Seeing a grown man chase a stone across a parking lot with a
leaf blower makes me want to wrap it around his neck. Do
we really need to be that lazy?
I don't know why I keep reading ZDNet for my technology
news. Maybe I'm just a masochist at heart. Maybe I need
that daily dose of horrendous journalism and FUD to
jump-start my day. All I know is they consistently print
the silliest articles imaginable, and somehow I keep
Take a gander at this gem I found last week: New
open-source browser in the works. "Wow", I thought
(foolishly clicking on the link), "this is great news!
Maybe this will be the perfect alternative to Netscape
that I can use in Linux."
The article goes on to praise this revolutionary browser's
features, such as multiple rendering engine support and
Open Source licensing. Sounds pretty good so far. Then it
mentions that the browser, No Limits, is written in
Visual Basic. What??
In other words, these cutting-edge developers are going to
drop a browser ActiveX control into a VB form and call it
a new browser. Basically, we are looking at Internet
Explorer, but running within a crappy, slow
shell. Something a bored programmer could develop in 10
minutes after reading a VB for Dummies book. This
actually made it to the front page of ZDNet news. Gah!
Oh and at the end of the article, there is a quote from an
"expert" technology analyst: "Sometimes, the best
technologies don't win out. Microsoft's IIS (Internet
Information Server) is faster than Apache, but Apache has
the greatest market share, for example." Nice. IIS better
than Apache? Excuse me while I gouge out my freakin' eye.
Sigh. Maybe I should just read Slashdot like a good nerd.
I spent the afternoon writing an article, PNG tips for cartoonists, for the
edification of anyone who's interested. I learned a little
bit about myself today: spending a Saturday writing articles
isn't all that fun. I thought I'd give it a try for kicks,
but nope- not fun. I'm guessing that's why most people
don't write essays for the heck of it. Unless they're
Francis Bacon or something. Which I'm not. It was similar
to the time I decided to spend an entire week reading Ayn
Shrugged. It too wasn't very fun. I've got to come up
with more entertaining pastimes, before I go insane.
Hip Hip Hooray! It's Web Comics Awareness Day! Check out all the
special online comics created for this event. It was a fun
thing for us to participate in- hopefully the tradition
will continue each year.
So... the last two days have been a non-stop rodent
adventure for me & Jen. We discovered we had mice in our
apartment (they leave rather nasty calling cards, you
know), so we bought a couple of humane mouse traps.
Last night, just as we were about to go to sleep, we heard
the trap triggering. It caught a mouse! We took a 4:00 AM
drive to a deserted parking lot to release the critter
(about 2 miles away). We weren't sure how far we should
take it. Do they have special tracking skills that can
lead them right back to us? Who knows? We felt like
mobsters taking the mouse "for a little ride." The
situation also reminded me of a 21st
Century Fox cartoon I just read.
Anyway, this guy comes out of a beauty salon and asks us
what we're doing! Jen said, "nothing," which I'm sure the
guy didn't buy. At 4:00 AM, what's a guy doing in a dark
strip-mall beauty salon? Is he a night watchman? Burglar?
Pervert? We got out of there, went back home, and
prepared to go to sleep, when we heard the trap spring
again! This time, (needless to say) we released the mouse
in a different parking lot.
By the way, we ran a neat test with the mousetraps.
In order to prove my theory that real
mice, unlike cartoon mice, don't actually prefer cheese,
we baited one trap with cheese and the other with peanut
butter. Guess what? The mice chose peanut butter! It was a
good day for science.
It's been a couple weeks since we put up the poll "What is
your favorite operating system?" While the poll is still open for
voting, I think enough time has passed for us to report on the
somewhat surprising results.
Perhaps the most unexpected finding is that no one on the
Internet uses Windows! I think this poll will force many "experts" to
re-examine the status of what was formerly thought to be the dominant
operating system worldwide. Equally surprising, Unix/Linux proved most
popular OS of Web surfers, accounting for 83% of all users. Macs came
in a distant second, with 17% of the vote.
Admittedly, these poll results are difficult to believe. But if there's one
thing I know as a consummate geek, it's that numbers can't lie.
In other news, sometime last week, Slashdot
linked to an article about ComicsML,
an XML language for online comic strips. I was excited about this idea
mainly because of two important shortcomings it addresses:
- You can't easily search for comic strips containing specific keywords.
Being graphics files, cartoons lack a searchable text
element. A standard DTD (Document Type Definition) for comic
strips can solve this problem in an application-independent manner.
- It is more convenient to browse Web comics when
they are clustered together in a comics portal than when they
reside exclusively on their individual sites.
The second point, put another way... It has been estimated
(don't ask me where I read this- it was a long time ago),
that the average reader spends about 7 seconds reading a comic strip.
The typical Web comic, by nature of its
isolation, presents a barrier for the casual reader. For a mere
7 seconds of reading pleasure, who wants to
type in a URL and wait 20 seconds for the page to download, in
the hope that the strip has been updated since the last visit?
An XML standard for supplying comic strip information would allow Web
applications to fetch compliant strips and aggregate them on a common
Web page, all without human intervention. Now that's a
pretty cool use of technology, I think. A site that looks
and acts like what I'm talking about is Webcomics, a very
convenient place to get your daily megadose of comics
(although the implementation is different- it doesn't use
XML, and may not be automated at all, as far as I know).
The thing about XML is that everyone and their grandmother are proposing
new DTD's for every industry under the sun- and I would bet one
out of a hundred of these "standards" is ever put to widespread use.
ComicsML is a cool idea, but we'll have to see if it gets anywhere...
Man, this is one long news update. What are we, Penny Arcade or something?
It looks like some folks got their
hackles up over a B.C. comic that was supposed to run
over Easter. Apparently it was to depict a Menorah with
the quote: "Father, forgive them: for they know not what
they do." Then the Menorah gets extinguished and replaced
by a cross at the end of the strip. Could this be a slight
to Judaism? That's how I read it at first - it
seemed pretty condescending of Hart to show a Christian
cross triumphing over an extinguished Jewish symbol.
Then I thought for a second: could the beloved creator of
B.C. and The Wizard of Id really have a Jew-hating agenda?
That sure would surprise me. Most likely, the
extinguishing candles symbolized Jesus dying, and not
Johnny Hart's desire to "extinguish" the Jewish
religion. I tried to view this strip for myself, but couldn't
find it online. I guess the negative public pressure
scared Hart and/or United Media from running the cartoon
Censorship issues aside (do I really need to talk about
how stupid it is when people try to ban a cartoon
because it doesn't agree with their religion?), I think
any comic strip that tries to pass off a religious theme
in a serious and unfunny manner is just lame. I mean, this
is Family Circus territory (and not the funny
kind either). A little advice for you, Mr. Hart: If
you're going to make a cartoon that offends a minority
group, at least make it funny. A cartoon that is
offensive and funny can usually be forgiven. A
cartoon that is offensive and serious is not really
a cartoon, is it?
|Well it's tax time again. Blech. I just
wrote a big check to The Man, and I only hope my
taxes will be used for good
and not evil
We've been pretty busy these days. I'm working 60+
hours/week at my job, coding and drinking Java like
mad. Jen has been waking up at the crack of
dawn each day to bake cookies (I could never do that).
Yet still we find time to churn out comic strips
for you, our very special fans!
Ok, ok, I admit we don't yet have any "fans" per se,
much less "very special" fans, but we remain
optimistic. Judging by our Website statistics, I estimate
that our popularity is gaining at the staggering rate of
one click per week. Verily, we are an unstoppable
juggernaut! All your base are belong to us!
I wrote a poll-taking cgi script tonight. I tell
you, perl is one
messed up language. Don't get me wrong- It does the
job, and I've grown to tolerate it for the most part. I
just think it was created by sadistic aliens. After all,
How could it come from the mind of a human?
Until our Web host decides to
install python (unlikely), I
guess I'll be stuck coding in this gibberish. *Sigh*. Oh
well, I suppose I dislike it less than
other languages, so I'll quit my little rant. I put up a survey
asking the age-old geek question on the left; give it a
I just installed a guestbook,
so feel free to, like, sign it. It's a pretty cool perl
script written by a guy from Denmark.
The program is called
guestserver, and it installs easily with only a
minimum of tweaking. Apparently, it's the same guestbook
program used by Lagwagon, so I guess
Ok, we got our email working again! You can reach us at
now. Also in the news, we have a new strip up. Woo Hoo,
Now all 2 of our fans can rejoice! We'll try to make these
updates happen at least once/week, but hopefully more often
depending on our crazy schedules.
Ugh. I tried signing our site up with this 3rd party email
service, but it didn't seem to work... If anyone tried to
email us in the last couple of days, we wouldn't have
received anything. Sorry man.|
Welcome to the brand new Hackles comic strip! We will be adding
more comics and fun Web features to this site very soon. In the
meantime, feel free to hang out with Hackles the dog and his
office friends. Thanks for stopping by!|