Okay, enough with the shigs and gittles

Yes, it’s April Fools’ Day. Yes, Schlock Mercenary has left Keenspot. And yes, my plan to take over the world required this move.

I hope you enjoyed the joke as much as I did — the joke being “I can’t tell if he’s serious or not.” To me it’s almost as funny as the time I killed Tagon and got piles of “u cant’ be s3rious!” email. It’s not quite as funny as the strip that airs tomorrow. (Just because I’m relieving the stress of the current gag doesn’t mean you’re stress-less-ly off the hook. 🙂

Please feel free to comment on how much you like the new site design. We’ll be tweaking all kinds of things over the next couple of days (and weeks, and months). There are LOTS of new features coming, some of which are designed to make me mo’ money faster, and some of which are designed to make y’all happy.

–Howard

75 thoughts on “Okay, enough with the shigs and gittles”

    1. Six months.

      Had we jumped then, things would have been seriously broken. We made some major architectural discoveries in the interim, which shine unfavorable light on both the PHP model and the Autokeen model (both of which were under consideration back then.)

      But yeah, it would have been nice to leave sooner rather than later. Then I could be saying “Join me, and we will rule the galaxy together!” this week, instead of “Um… can you tell me if anything else is broken on this site?”

      –Howard

      1. From a strictly tech point of view, what kind of updating/archiving setup are you using. I’ve been hearing how PHP is the holy grail of web site stuff (not a web person at all but interested) but you indicate there were problems with PHP. Is it PHP itself or a PHP based ‘cartoon site package’ that isn’t reliable.

        Of course, I have my own ideas for a web comic, as soon as I can find people to develop it, write it, draw it, etc. Really should have been a movie studio executive producer…

        1. Any php solution is going to be inherently more CPU-intensive than a static-page solution. Not a problem if you’ve got your own server, and can supply the horsepower required to make it go, but I’m sure you’ve seen comics where the comic for the day is “SQL: too many connections.” That’s php for you.

          –Howard

          1. PHP strikes me as a horrible solution to the case where the content-change-to-pageview ratio is as low as it tends to be for webcomics. I mean, unless you’ve got some sort of special dynamic content on your page, you’re going to be serving the same page (up to java-scriptable random ads/images/etc) all day long. Why assemble it ten thousand times if nothing changes?

            On the other hand, archives are a little different… when you’re reading a thousand strips in a row, you don’t want to have to load the archive template a thousand times. Have you considered making the front page static and the archives dynamic?

          2. There are caching solutions for php (and other languages) that make the mostly static stuff pretty low cost. And then you can do some small dynamic stuff like ads and some user customization easily.

            Given the frequency of updates to a comic site though, I would think you’d be better off with most of the data in the filesystem rather than in an sql db.

            And of course, adding better handling of sql errors than bailing out would be good to.

          3. There are caching solutions for php (and other languages) that make the mostly static stuff pretty low cost. And then you can do some small dynamic stuff like ads and some user customization easily.

            Given the frequency of updates to a comic site though, I would think you’d be better off with most of the data in the filesystem rather than in an sql db.

            And of course, adding better handling of sql errors than bailing out would be good to.

          4. Using Coral too

            Actually, if you (re)write your links to go through Coral so that you rewrite (for instance) http://schlockmercenary.com/images/first_day.gif as http://schlockmercenary.com.nyud.net:8090/images/first_day.gif, especially for all your bandwitdh-intensive static content; you can save yourself a _huge_ amount of outgoing bandwidth (read $$).

            It’s pretty cool. It’s free. It doesn’t spam the link or do popups or anything, and it will work for any http link that doesn’t require a :port element in the URI.

            As for performance, it can greatly mitigate a full slashdotting.

            (Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Coral in any way.)

          5. Re: Using Coral too

            I don’t know who provides bandwidth for coral cache, but it’d still not be nice to rely on them too too much, also I’ve had a few occasions where coral cache is laggy/slow/slashdotted

            coral cache people could make blah.com.81.nyud.net:8090 work, or something like that

            http://www.schlockmercenary.com/d/20030209.html < -- I get doubles on that, like image a, a, b, b, c, c, I noticed it and poked around for a few mins trying to find Howard Taylor's email address to no avail :)

          6. Re: Using Coral too

            I don’t know who provides bandwidth for coral cache, but it’d still not be nice to rely on them too too much, also I’ve had a few occasions where coral cache is laggy/slow/slashdotted

            coral cache people could make blah.com.81.nyud.net:8090 work, or something like that

            http://www.schlockmercenary.com/d/20030209.html < -- I get doubles on that, like image a, a, b, b, c, c, I noticed it and poked around for a few mins trying to find Howard Taylor's email address to no avail :)

          7. Using Coral too

            Actually, if you (re)write your links to go through Coral so that you rewrite (for instance) http://schlockmercenary.com/images/first_day.gif as http://schlockmercenary.com.nyud.net:8090/images/first_day.gif, especially for all your bandwitdh-intensive static content; you can save yourself a _huge_ amount of outgoing bandwidth (read $$).

            It’s pretty cool. It’s free. It doesn’t spam the link or do popups or anything, and it will work for any http link that doesn’t require a :port element in the URI.

            As for performance, it can greatly mitigate a full slashdotting.

            (Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Coral in any way.)

          8. PHP strikes me as a horrible solution to the case where the content-change-to-pageview ratio is as low as it tends to be for webcomics. I mean, unless you’ve got some sort of special dynamic content on your page, you’re going to be serving the same page (up to java-scriptable random ads/images/etc) all day long. Why assemble it ten thousand times if nothing changes?

            On the other hand, archives are a little different… when you’re reading a thousand strips in a row, you don’t want to have to load the archive template a thousand times. Have you considered making the front page static and the archives dynamic?

          9. I believe there are ways to make the server side cache the post-processing pages, but it’s probably more straightforward to go with a generated static page.

            I’ve been watching Greg at Real Life’s problems with server load, and kept thinking about emailing him the suggestion to make the front page static, but never got around to it. Much easier to be wise from the sidelines. 😉

            Out of curiosity, are you going static w/rebuild for all of the site, or just the front page? If static for all, are you using an iframe or other browser-side include for the dropdown portion? (takes quick look, doesn’t see an iframe, etc) Isn’t that rather brutal on rewriting all those pages every time the chapters get added to?

          10. The rewrite of the entire archives — almost five years worth — takes less than 30 seconds. That includes page generation, transfer, and installation.

            Shiny Systems ROCKS.

          11. Wow, I’m impressed. With a rebuild rate that fast, you’re damn right there’s no reason to use anything dynamic at all!

          12. Wow, I’m impressed. With a rebuild rate that fast, you’re damn right there’s no reason to use anything dynamic at all!

          13. The rewrite of the entire archives — almost five years worth — takes less than 30 seconds. That includes page generation, transfer, and installation.

            Shiny Systems ROCKS.

          14. I believe there are ways to make the server side cache the post-processing pages, but it’s probably more straightforward to go with a generated static page.

            I’ve been watching Greg at Real Life’s problems with server load, and kept thinking about emailing him the suggestion to make the front page static, but never got around to it. Much easier to be wise from the sidelines. 😉

            Out of curiosity, are you going static w/rebuild for all of the site, or just the front page? If static for all, are you using an iframe or other browser-side include for the dropdown portion? (takes quick look, doesn’t see an iframe, etc) Isn’t that rather brutal on rewriting all those pages every time the chapters get added to?

          15. Actually were I in your situation. I would be using a cron job executing a {insert your favorite scripting language here} script once each night at like 2 am with the output being the new “static” html home page. It would be fairly easy to setup if you are using your own server (and acutally have access to the guts of the server instead of just “upload” access.

            That way you get the benefit of dynamic (new comic each day, new add each day, etc) while greatly reducing your server load.

            Just a suggestion.

          16. That’s strikingly similar to what we’ve done, only we’ve done it one better. The HTTP server that delivers comics, and the “brain” that updates the archives are separate boxes. Generating new archives won’t impact HTTP services, and vice-versa.

            There’s more to it than that (as I’m learning now) but that’s the nutshell version.

            –Howard

          17. That’s strikingly similar to what we’ve done, only we’ve done it one better. The HTTP server that delivers comics, and the “brain” that updates the archives are separate boxes. Generating new archives won’t impact HTTP services, and vice-versa.

            There’s more to it than that (as I’m learning now) but that’s the nutshell version.

            –Howard

          18. Actually were I in your situation. I would be using a cron job executing a {insert your favorite scripting language here} script once each night at like 2 am with the output being the new “static” html home page. It would be fairly easy to setup if you are using your own server (and acutally have access to the guts of the server instead of just “upload” access.

            That way you get the benefit of dynamic (new comic each day, new add each day, etc) while greatly reducing your server load.

            Just a suggestion.

        2. Any php solution is going to be inherently more CPU-intensive than a static-page solution. Not a problem if you’ve got your own server, and can supply the horsepower required to make it go, but I’m sure you’ve seen comics where the comic for the day is “SQL: too many connections.” That’s php for you.

          –Howard

      2. From a strictly tech point of view, what kind of updating/archiving setup are you using. I’ve been hearing how PHP is the holy grail of web site stuff (not a web person at all but interested) but you indicate there were problems with PHP. Is it PHP itself or a PHP based ‘cartoon site package’ that isn’t reliable.

        Of course, I have my own ideas for a web comic, as soon as I can find people to develop it, write it, draw it, etc. Really should have been a movie studio executive producer…

    2. Six months.

      Had we jumped then, things would have been seriously broken. We made some major architectural discoveries in the interim, which shine unfavorable light on both the PHP model and the Autokeen model (both of which were under consideration back then.)

      But yeah, it would have been nice to leave sooner rather than later. Then I could be saying “Join me, and we will rule the galaxy together!” this week, instead of “Um… can you tell me if anything else is broken on this site?”

      –Howard

  1. Actually, the site does look very nice. I presume you’ll be tweaking it over time until you get it to that perfect look and feel you want, but it certainly looks nice now. And I love the fact that your “archive” calendar fills up, day by day, as opposed to the spottiness on most comics.
    Incidentally, the Secret Masters have instructed me to tell you that they “will be watching your career with great interest.”
    Dunno exactly what they meant by that…

  2. Actually, the site does look very nice. I presume you’ll be tweaking it over time until you get it to that perfect look and feel you want, but it certainly looks nice now. And I love the fact that your “archive” calendar fills up, day by day, as opposed to the spottiness on most comics.
    Incidentally, the Secret Masters have instructed me to tell you that they “will be watching your career with great interest.”
    Dunno exactly what they meant by that…

  3. Most of the menu links at the top and bottom point to pages that aren’t there. I assume you know this already, but I like making bug reports. It makes me feel smart.

  4. Most of the menu links at the top and bottom point to pages that aren’t there. I assume you know this already, but I like making bug reports. It makes me feel smart.

  5. I’m afraid that, unknown to you, we have taken your comic and are using it for our own nefarious purposes and deeds. I assure you that, as soon as I have total control of the planet and known universe, there will be a place for you and your comic in my empire. ^_^

    In the meantime, congrats on the move! I look forward to seeing the new site designs take hold in the future!

    1. Ah, “Boromir’s Folly.” “Isildur’s Bane.” You would take the weapon of your enemy and try to use it against him.

      Well… good luck with that.

      –Howard

      1. Now, now… I never said you were my enemy! Competition, perhaps, given the amount of respect I actually have for you, but nothing more or less. =)

        Besides, in the end I’m helping fufill one of your goals as well… getting more poor, unfortunate, unaware victims people to read your comic, thus increasing your reader base and the potential amounts of money you may make from them in the future!

        –Vortex

      2. Now, now… I never said you were my enemy! Competition, perhaps, given the amount of respect I actually have for you, but nothing more or less. =)

        Besides, in the end I’m helping fufill one of your goals as well… getting more poor, unfortunate, unaware victims people to read your comic, thus increasing your reader base and the potential amounts of money you may make from them in the future!

        –Vortex

    2. Ah, “Boromir’s Folly.” “Isildur’s Bane.” You would take the weapon of your enemy and try to use it against him.

      Well… good luck with that.

      –Howard

  6. I’m afraid that, unknown to you, we have taken your comic and are using it for our own nefarious purposes and deeds. I assure you that, as soon as I have total control of the planet and known universe, there will be a place for you and your comic in my empire. ^_^

    In the meantime, congrats on the move! I look forward to seeing the new site designs take hold in the future!

  7. Good Luck!

    I’m rather curious though about some of the things you’re hinting at in the open letter.

    What business needs and goals do you have that Keenspot wasn’t meeting?

    I don’t see any advertizing on the new site at all. How are you paying for the hosting?

    What are your plans for the future for world domination?
    Can you at least address the non-classified stuff with regards to taking over the comics world?

    Quick Note: several broken links on the front page:
    “The Author”
    http://www.schlockmercenary.com/schlock_author.html
    “The Process”
    http://www.schlockmercenary.com/schlockprocess.html
    “Open Letters”
    http://www.schlockmercenary.com/letters/index.html
    “Fan Art”
    http://www.schlockmercenary.com/fanart/index.html
    “Howard’s Sci-Fi Library”
    http://www.schlockmercenary.com/sff-index.html

    The Archives and Strip search all appear fine.

  8. Good Luck!

    I’m rather curious though about some of the things you’re hinting at in the open letter.

    What business needs and goals do you have that Keenspot wasn’t meeting?

    I don’t see any advertizing on the new site at all. How are you paying for the hosting?

    What are your plans for the future for world domination?
    Can you at least address the non-classified stuff with regards to taking over the comics world?

    Quick Note: several broken links on the front page:
    “The Author”
    http://www.schlockmercenary.com/schlock_author.html
    “The Process”
    http://www.schlockmercenary.com/schlockprocess.html
    “Open Letters”
    http://www.schlockmercenary.com/letters/index.html
    “Fan Art”
    http://www.schlockmercenary.com/fanart/index.html
    “Howard’s Sci-Fi Library”
    http://www.schlockmercenary.com/sff-index.html

    The Archives and Strip search all appear fine.

  9. Calendar bug, etc

    I noticed the day headings for the archive calendar are Mon-Sun, but the dates are ordered Sun-Sat (hence, it appears that today is 3/31 and that 4/1 is on Sat).

    My take on the site…
    I don’t prefer the look of the greenish links at the top (eg. The Author, The Process). It needs a nice Schlock’ed graphic for a page header and more appealing links.

    My 2 cents are in the mail….

    Malcor

      1. Re: Calendar bug, etc

        We’ve considered that particular look, and may go for it at some point in the future. First, though, we’ll de-bug the current template.

        –Howard

      2. Re: Calendar bug, etc

        We’ve considered that particular look, and may go for it at some point in the future. First, though, we’ll de-bug the current template.

        –Howard

  10. Calendar bug, etc

    I noticed the day headings for the archive calendar are Mon-Sun, but the dates are ordered Sun-Sat (hence, it appears that today is 3/31 and that 4/1 is on Sat).

    My take on the site…
    I don’t prefer the look of the greenish links at the top (eg. The Author, The Process). It needs a nice Schlock’ed graphic for a page header and more appealing links.

    My 2 cents are in the mail….

    Malcor

  11. It looks odd, the gray and green on the top for the links, and maybe some more things on the top of the page, so the comic stays in the middle of the page.

    The page looks good though :3 Congratulations on the domain, and good luck with the world domination, I know you have plenty of competition :ninja:

  12. It looks odd, the gray and green on the top for the links, and maybe some more things on the top of the page, so the comic stays in the middle of the page.

    The page looks good though :3 Congratulations on the domain, and good luck with the world domination, I know you have plenty of competition :ninja:

  13. Bandwidth on your site…

    Thsi is not an ad, I am a frequent reader of your strip and it when I read that you had moved to your own host I thought I’d give you a heads-up on something kind of cool (as seen on slashdot 8-).

    There is a P2P based public cache for web site content called Coral. You publish a link as normal and then embed links (or do forwarding) so that from http://X/y to http://X.nyud.net:8090/y and most of your traffic will go through a rotated list of proxies.

    Really cool and could save you a lot of money especially for things like your site navagation icons and your actual strip art.

    Check out (or have your web slave check out) the instructions at that Coral link.

    BTW: it’s free, it doesnt spam the link with extra anything or anything, and I am in no way affiliated with them; I just know it could help you out if you use it on your new site.

    1. Done huge good english

      Once again, my mastery of english has shown through with a mass of gramatical and spelling errors. I r a geaenous…. 😎

      /sigh

    2. Done huge good english

      Once again, my mastery of english has shown through with a mass of gramatical and spelling errors. I r a geaenous…. 😎

      /sigh

    3. Re: Bandwidth on your site…

      I read up on this technology a couple of months ago. It’s fascinating. It’s also much, MUCH more important for folks with high-bandwidth sites — flash movies, MPGs, AVIs, etc. A slashdotting can kill those sites in the first ten minutes.

      Schlock runs at pretty low bandwidth — much less than 100k per page on the current host. We can take the worst Slashdot has to offer without the help of P2P caching.

      1. Re: Bandwidth on your site…

        Ergh.. Sounds like a good recipe for succion de crapaud.

        Slashdotting will kill just about anything – but, hopefully, a distributed network system will be in place by then.

        BW

        1. Re: Bandwidth on your site…

          Many slashdottings actually come from poorly tuned networking stacks and default webserver behavior. If you expect to withstand 10000 hits an hour, then a 30 minute keepalive on the connection is a Bad Idea. 🙂

        2. Re: Bandwidth on your site…

          Many slashdottings actually come from poorly tuned networking stacks and default webserver behavior. If you expect to withstand 10000 hits an hour, then a 30 minute keepalive on the connection is a Bad Idea. 🙂

      2. Re: Bandwidth on your site…

        Ergh.. Sounds like a good recipe for succion de crapaud.

        Slashdotting will kill just about anything – but, hopefully, a distributed network system will be in place by then.

        BW

      3. Re: Bandwidth on your site…

        That sounds shockingly like a challenge. Too bad we won’t see. 🙂

        How many gigs do you pull per month (if you don’t mind me asking)?

      4. Re: Bandwidth on your site…

        That sounds shockingly like a challenge. Too bad we won’t see. 🙂

        How many gigs do you pull per month (if you don’t mind me asking)?

    4. Re: Bandwidth on your site…

      I read up on this technology a couple of months ago. It’s fascinating. It’s also much, MUCH more important for folks with high-bandwidth sites — flash movies, MPGs, AVIs, etc. A slashdotting can kill those sites in the first ten minutes.

      Schlock runs at pretty low bandwidth — much less than 100k per page on the current host. We can take the worst Slashdot has to offer without the help of P2P caching.

  14. Bandwidth on your site…

    Thsi is not an ad, I am a frequent reader of your strip and it when I read that you had moved to your own host I thought I’d give you a heads-up on something kind of cool (as seen on slashdot 8-).

    There is a P2P based public cache for web site content called Coral. You publish a link as normal and then embed links (or do forwarding) so that from http://X/y to http://X.nyud.net:8090/y and most of your traffic will go through a rotated list of proxies.

    Really cool and could save you a lot of money especially for things like your site navagation icons and your actual strip art.

    Check out (or have your web slave check out) the instructions at that Coral link.

    BTW: it’s free, it doesnt spam the link with extra anything or anything, and I am in no way affiliated with them; I just know it could help you out if you use it on your new site.

  15. Howard:

    One of the things I wish webcomics would limit is the animated CPU-hogging flashy banners. A moving .gif is enough. I run SETI@Home and I don’t need excess CPU cycles being eaten up by advertisements.

    As you know, I drive truck for a living, and one of the things I do to make life easier for me when I get home is to leave your comic (and the others I read) up in FireFox, so I can just “refresh” then go back and read what I missed while away. It works, right up until I miss an ad at the bottom of the page that eats up two weeks worth of CPU cycles so that that computer does 2 workunits per day instead of it’s usually 10-12.

    Barring Webcomics’ participation in the reduction of CPU-hogging ads, I’ll just Adblock them, so I’ll never see them.. Still a pain in the butt, though.

    That’s my rant, for now. Gud Luck es Happy DX de AI8W, Chris

    –… …– -.. . .- .. —.. .– -..-. — -.-

    1. Animated Gif’s are probably the better choice anyway – they also are smaller than a lot of the flash/shockwave animated ads.

      Also, excessive motion/light/colour is a turnoff to a lot of people – you have a very short period of time to catch their attention.

      Bandwidth is something to keep in mind no matter what – well, at least till that OC48 goes in…

      BW

    2. Animated Gif’s are probably the better choice anyway – they also are smaller than a lot of the flash/shockwave animated ads.

      Also, excessive motion/light/colour is a turnoff to a lot of people – you have a very short period of time to catch their attention.

      Bandwidth is something to keep in mind no matter what – well, at least till that OC48 goes in…

      BW

  16. Howard:

    One of the things I wish webcomics would limit is the animated CPU-hogging flashy banners. A moving .gif is enough. I run SETI@Home and I don’t need excess CPU cycles being eaten up by advertisements.

    As you know, I drive truck for a living, and one of the things I do to make life easier for me when I get home is to leave your comic (and the others I read) up in FireFox, so I can just “refresh” then go back and read what I missed while away. It works, right up until I miss an ad at the bottom of the page that eats up two weeks worth of CPU cycles so that that computer does 2 workunits per day instead of it’s usually 10-12.

    Barring Webcomics’ participation in the reduction of CPU-hogging ads, I’ll just Adblock them, so I’ll never see them.. Still a pain in the butt, though.

    That’s my rant, for now. Gud Luck es Happy DX de AI8W, Chris

    –… …– -.. . .- .. —.. .– -..-. — -.-

  17. Archive calendar

    Ok, so I know I’m a few days late on this, but as a new reader who as of last night just made my way through the archives (after about a month), I have one comment on the new site: Some sort of plus/minus a month link on the archive calendar would be nice (ex: if it’s June, have a link to May and July at the top of the calendar)

    I only mention this because there’s usually several months between storyline breaks and it can make finding the place I last left off reading difficult. I know you can use bookmarks to avoid this, but I was reading on 3 different machines…

    BTW, I’m absolutely hooked! Thanks!

Comments are closed.