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Oops. My bad. The current poll had a glitch in it which made anyone who voted for Rocky and Bullwinkle vote instead for WWF superstar The Rock. Yes I know- big difference! Now I understand how the woman who designed those disasterous butterfly ballots in Florida must have felt :P. I reset all the poll results to zero, so unlike the American presidential election, we can try it over from scratch.

Meanwhile, our friend Enrico from h07 is providing a new freeshell service. I've tried it and it's pretty cool- you can access all the utilities you'd expect from a remote Linux shell. According to the guidelines, however, no "script-kid language (username:I4mH4x0r etc.)" accounts will be allowed- heh, can't argue with that! If you could use something like this, go ahead and apply for an account.

Finally, did you know that Wil Weaton, the kid who played Wesley Crusher (Star Trek TNG), has his own website? As much as everyone (including I) hated his character, he seems like a cool dude. In his FAQ, to the question, What do you think of "Enterprise"?:

The only thing that I really hate is the theme song...I suspect that the composer is going to be the new holder of the "Most Hated Person In Star Trek" title...if she calls, I'll hand over the badge to her...I know I have it someplace.

So he knows how hated he was. That's cool. Now if only Garret Wang would put up a self-deprecating site like this :P. Oh, and props to Wil for having links to Slashdot, Thinkgeek, and bbspot on his page. One of us, one of us...


Well, our suspicions were right. The majority of our readers are male according to our last poll. But the big surprise is that we have more female readers than we thought (22%)! That's good news. Thank you for responding to our silly polls. We try to keep it interesting and interactive, so if you have any ideas for a poll, tell us about them.

I also noticed that we got some entries in our guestbook from France and Italy. Welcome! It amazes me to see how far and wide Hackles can reach with the Internet. Otherwise, you wouldn't know we existed over here in North Carolina with our crazy computer ideas. Thanks to all of you who continue to read Hackles. I put some new images on our "Link to Us" page. Give 'em a gander :)


jen took this picture! Jen and I are going to our respective parents' homes for Thanksgiving week. I will try to post Monday's strip from New York, but we make no guarantees! We should be back on schedule starting the Monday after Thanksgiving (November 26). Thanks for reading our crazy comic, and if you celebrate Thanksgiving, have a happy one!

Last weekend we saw Burning Airlines play at a small club in Raleigh. Man, they rock. And it's so much nicer seeing them play in an intimate setting. Blue even caught J. Robbins for a one-on-one, laid back, audio interview. What more could you ask for?

caution: anime nerd ahead! My brother posted some pictures from his recent trip to the Big Apple Anime Fest. I've always wanted to go to an anime con, but could never make it to one. Maybe it's because I'm subconsciously afraid of all the cosplay... But at any rate, he got to hang out with the voice actors from one of our favorite animes, Slayers! I was pretty jealous. Yes, I admit it, Tod and I are big anime nerds. Um, where are you going? Wait, come back! Oh, nuts.


I wrote a random comic link generator yesterday. It started out as a simple exercise in generating pseudo-random numbers using the bash shell. Then I wanted to try making a bash-based CGI script, for kicks. I ended up with a kludgy, but fun, script that Jen and I are finding addictively clickable!

The pool of comics that it chooses from is truly a grab-bag. I pretty much put every comic I could find in the list, whether I read it or not. As long as the page wasn't full of pop-up ads and didn't crash my browser, I stuck it in there. Doubtless the list will continue to grow as I find more comics. Sure, it's risky viewing a comic of completely random quality- it's kind of like russian roulette- but heck, the danger is half the fun! So go click, already!

Oh, and if you like retro arcade games and/or MAME, do click here. You won't be sorry! (And I apologize if this is one of those links that everyone already knows about- I'm a little out of the loop about these things. I found out about the All Your Base craze probably a month after everyone else got sick of it :P).


I just want to take a second to plug b-side.org, a new indie-rock website created by our grumpy friend Blue. It's a Slashdot-styled affair where people can post reviews, opinions, rants, and the like on their favorite, or not so favorite, bands. Last I checked, Blue had posted a review on the Superchunk show we saw last week- and true to form, he had very little positive to say :P

He's looking for contributors, so if any of you are down with the punk rock, feel free to get involved.


Happy Halloween! Last year Jen and I bought a ton of candy for those loveable trick-or-treaters. The problem was that not a single kid showed up at our door, and it took us forever to eat all that candy ourselves. So this year we made sure to buy only candy that we like... so when no one shows up for Halloween again, we'll have an excuse to pig out! It's the perfect plan.

There's this big, spooky webcomic crossover event called Fright Night III. We're not participating in it this Halloween, but it does look like a very cool idea. Go check it out!

I admit we've only seen a couple episodes of Enterprise, but I'm sorry to say we both think it is pretty lame so far. From the shlocky theme song (reminiscent of Michael Bolton), to the agonizingly slow pacing, to Scott Bakula's horrible acting, this show had us shaking our heads in disbelief. It is possible that we coincidentally saw the two worst episodes to date, but I still expected more from this series.

I mean, couldn't they at least try to make the characters a little original? The cold, logical, sexy Vulcan is an obvious rip-off of Seven of Nine (but much less charismatic). And what would a Star Trek series be without the eccentric doctor? Enterprise gives us Dr. Phlox, a Denobulan doctor who tries to fit this role, but isn't quite wacky or alien enough to be interesting. And the rest of the crew just seems bland and poorly-defined, compared to other Star Trek rosters we've seen.

Not to mention the plots had us literally fighting to stay awake. I'm not kidding. *Sigh*. Maybe it will get better with time, but then again, I don't know if we'll be tuning in again to give it another chance.


superchunk laura We went to see Superchunk in Chapel Hill last night. It was the first show of their American tour, and we had the best spot in the house- right in front of Laura's bass rig... mreow! Few things in life are better than a female bassist, I always say. I do prefer their older, more rocking songs to their newer stuff (isn't that always the case with bands?), but they always know how to pull off a fun, high-energy show nonetheless.

Some of you may have noticed that our last few strips look smoother than normal. Well, it's because we finally bought a state-of-the-art scanner to replace the ancient Microtek contraption we'd been using (it scanned at a maximum of 72 dpi!). The difference in image quality is truly astounding. The only problem now is that the higher-quality images take a lot longer for Jen to work with on her 233 MHz computer. She could literally surf the web for 5 minutes waiting for one area to bucket-fill in the Gimp. So... we ordered a new 1.2 GHz Athlon for her, and are now waiting for that to arrive. Sheesh, cartooning is sure getting to be an expensive hobby!


We'd like to thank all of you who've linked to us, put our comic on your web page, or told others about Hackles. You see, Jen and I are pretty horrible at self-promotion, so most of Hackles' publicity comes from word of mouth. Our readership keeps growing each week, and we owe it all to you- yes, you!

Lately, we've had a lot of new readers from Germany, thanks to Enrico Kern, our friend from the h07 Open Source group. They've featured Hackles as the comic strip for the group's Think Nerd portal, which has been getting us a ton of hits. It looks like a very cool website, although Jen and I can't understand German to save our lives ;-). Thanks, Enrico!

Other German sites have started linking to us too: Der Linux Guide, dumpcore.de, and FunControl, for example. We are seriously considering learning the language, just so we can read all these web pages.

It is an interesting fact: even though we're American and our comic strip is written in English, most of our readers seem to live in non-English speaking countries. I don't know why this is, but I think it's very neat. Jen and I are always amazed at how well our audience can read and write in English- It is a constant reminder of how language-limited most of us Americans are. Alternately, maybe it just proves that Hackles readers are super-intelligent :-D.


I finally finished reading Neal Stephenson's novel Cryptonomicon, which my friend TJ gave me for X-mas. Excellent stuff. For the record, any book that has Alan Turing as one of its characters is bound to be interesting to me ;-). I'd recommend it to any hacker, especially anyone interested in cryptography (anyone who has time to read a 900+ page novel, that is). Stuff like this makes me realize that for all our computer knowledge, even we coders tend to have a relatively shallow understanding of the technology we use. For example, I use secure shell every day, but how much do I really know about the underlying encryption algorithms? Not a whole lot, although reading books like this at least makes me feel a little smarter...

Stephenson also wrote a very good hacker essay a while back, called In the Beginning was the Command Line. Like all the stuff he seems to write, this essay is pretty darn long, but well worth the read, IMHO.

In sadder news, my brother's apartment in New York was broken into shortly after the WTC attack. The thief stole a ton of his stuff, including his titanium laptop which contained virtually all our vacation pictures. Ironically, this act of evil happened while Tod was out doing volunteer computer work for the Red Cross relief effort. File this under "when bad things happen to good people." For what it's worth, we're proud of him. It's been a very, very tough month.


What a horrible day. If any of you reading this have lost family or friends in today's atrocities, our hearts go out to you. Myself, I feel lucky that my brother, who lives in NYC, made it through the day unharmed. It seems almost ridiculous to post a funny cartoon on a day like this, so we created a special strip as a tribute to the victims of the horrors that took place.

Take care everyone.


Hello everyone! Drake and I are back from vacation. We had a fun and relaxing time. Our digital camera turned out to be very cool and we used it extensively to capture snapshots and short movies. Once we transfer the data (4GB worth!) from Drake's brother's laptop, we will post them for anyone curious enough to look at them. They will be good reminders to us of the fun we had, while we transition back to our daily routines.


Jen and I are going on a much-needed vacation this coming week with my brother and parents. We will be frolicking on the glorious beaches of Hilton Head, South Carolina, watching the bluefish run and the giant crabs scurry about. Since fish and crab watching is such a time-intensive activity, we won't be updating any strips until we get back.

We just bought a new digital camera from Best Buy (you know the drill: "No, for the 10th time, I do not want to buy your extended warranty plan, just give me the stupid camera!"), so maybe we'll come back with a bunch of pictures. Since my brother is bringing along his PlayStation 2, I suspect that many of those pictures will be of me and him playing video games while Jen rolls her eyes in disgust. Hehe.

Concerning this strip, we received an email from our Belgian reader Ronnie who offers hope for the lonely Linux geeks out there: both Alan Cox and Linus Torvalds found geek-loving girlfriends, so keep looking- they are out there! True, true. I consider myself pretty lucky to have found Jen, and I can't even claim to have invented Linux, nor do I possess a sexy beard. And if that's not enough inspiration for you lovelorn geeks, then maybe this fellow will do the trick.

See you all after next week!


We'd like to thank one of our readers, Enrico, who wrote to us and mentioned that he'd been following Hackles since the third update. Wow, how many people can say that? I can probably count the number on one hand- even if it was missing a couple of fingers! When we first started the comic, I'm not even sure how anyone could have found our site, much less found it interesting enough to revisit. We're going to throw out a link to Enrico's h07 Open Source developer group. It looks like they've been working on some very neat utilities- download some now!

What else? We saw Requiem for a Dream this weekend, and it was a mind-blowing experience. I normally don't like "drug addiction" movies, because I don't find it entertaining to watch junkies ruin their miserable lives for an hour and a half. This was different though, because the filming really made you feel like you were on whatever drugs the characters were taking (hey, it's like using drugs without any of the nasty side-effects!). And speaking of trippy, it was strange but cool to see Marlon Wayans in a dramatic role.

Oh, and the new Fugazi record comes out in September. We'll be counting down the days :P


Our August 8th strip is the 50th cartoon we've posted! Hurrah! Time to reminisce: It all started back in March... Jen threw me a simple idea, "wouldn't it be cool if we did an animated cartoon together?" I responded, "That would be fun, but we don't know the first thing about animation. Let's see if we can make a regular comic first- we can even post it on the Web!"

This was before I knew about the wealth of comics already available online (I think I actually believed I came up with a novel concept!). We decided to give it a try, just for kicks, and it eventually became the most fun and rewarding hobby we've done together. Of course, this whole endeavor would be a lot less fun if no one read Hackles, and we appreciate all of you who take the time to visit us once in a while!

My computer decided to celebrate our 50th strip by completely dying on me. How nice! I thought a bad power supply was the culprit, but after purchasing a new one, it became apparent that this was instead a CPU or motherboard problem. So I decided to go for broke and buy a new 1.4 GHz Athlon CPU and a fancy ABIT motherboard - hey I might as well get a better computer for my troubles! So now everything is working, and I have to say, my computer absolutely rocks! I've been compiling source code frivolously, just to oggle at the sheer speed of my new machine. Geek heaven.


First of all, thanks go to everyone who has linked to Hackles on their website! Our readership grows a little bit each week, and we appreciate the support. Just for fun, here are the top three sites (in terms of number of hits they bring us):

  1. WebComics - a cool comics portal.
  2. Burn All GIFS - where they have a Web comics are going GIF-free blurb, using a logo that Jen created for the occasion.
  3. Exploding Dog's red robot page - which links to our red robot cameo strip.

pika pika! Recently, I've been sent some frivolous URLs, which I will presently share. Thanks to Blue, I now know what our website looks like through the eyes of a pokemon. Behold, Hackles in glorious Pika-vision! Next my brother sent me a funny multi-media parody of some video game called Summoner. Anyone who plays D&D, or at least knows people who play the game, should get a kick out of this (you'll need Quicktime to see it- I generally don't link to stuff that doesn't work under Linux, but this was too entertaining for me not to mention). Lastly, Phil from my work showed me an awesome link- from the same people (person?) who brought you this kung-fu masterpiece, comes a fun-filled shooting game (space bar reloads the gun, for those who don't read Chinese. Again, sorry- this di Again, sorry- this didn't work for me in Mozilla/Netscape under Linux, but I had to mention it). Geez, it should be illegal for Flash to be this much fun.

So anyway, I decided to take a brief break from reading computer books, and actually read some normal people books. Well, sort of "normal" - I went to the bookstore and came back with a couple seemingly random selections. The first was Have a Nice Day, the autobiography of hardcore pro-wrestler Mick Foley (unlike most autobiographies, this was actually written by the book's subject, not by a ghostwriter. Anyone who thinks that pro-wrestlers are an ignorant and illiterate lot should take a look at this) and Bruce Catton's excellent Civil War. I just finished both books, and I have to say I had a blast. Or maybe I've just read so many dry computer books lately that I'll find anything entertaining :).

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