Idea to save the NHL.

I’ve heard it suggested that the reason the NHL hasn’t caught on in the South is because the kids can’t play it without any ice or snow. I personally think that’s bullshit, since I don’t think I’ve ever touched a football in my life. Maybe the NHL needs to adopt a convoluted and insane championship system! 🙂

But if that does explain the unpopularity of the NHL in the south, tell me what you think of this idea: Put ice rinks in YMCAs, youth centers, standalone buildings, and the like in southern, warm-weather cities. They can be used for anything – figure skating, hockey, even just skating for fun, like on dates and the like. Maybe start some small youth hockey leagues while you’re at it, even if you can field only two teams at first with no subs.

Over time, once the kids have a place to play, maybe it can help make the NHL a reasonably national sport and return it to the Big Four so it doesn’t have so many problems like getting jerked around the schedule so it’s not Conan’s leadin, bumped for Yanni, mired on Versus, and other such stupid, stupid, idiotic things.

(Actually, having the same teams as last year could serve as a good control for whether NBC’s first two games should be 1 and 2 instead of 3 and 4 long-term, a change I’ve liked for at least a year no matter what circumstances brought it about. And I personally think that in the age of the Internet, buzz and word-of-mouth could eventually turn the NHL into a fairly national sport anyway. Seems everyone on the Internet likes the NHL, except for some NBA partisans – each side seems to want to turn any mention of either league on Sports Media Watch into a “my league rulz your league sux” shoutfest.)

Hope DMM didn’t break things by trying to do “IWC on a Postcard” for 2317, assuming he was trying to do so, especially right as he went on vacation…

(From Irregular Webcomic! Click for full-sized charitable act.)

So most of what’s happened up to this point in the Steve and Terry theme since the reboot of the universe turns out to have been an extended flashback that just ended (in what may have supposed to have been June).

Which is rather interesting in terms of fueling the “did the universe reboot to the beginning or not?” debate. All signs now seem to point to “no, except for Space”. Still, the fact that so many comics went into flashbacks with so many different approaches and explanations still seems to hint that the Irregular Crisis is not yet over, especially as regards the implications in themes such as Space and Cliffhangers.

What does it say when you learn moral lessons from Xykon, and he’s RIGHT?

(From The Order of the Stick. Click for full-sized second chance(s).)

Curse you, Rich Burlew.

I was all set to have a nice, enjoyable weekend where I could focus on finishing off some assignments for one of my classes, and you had to go and put up this whopper last night.

Uncharacteristically for this comic, and perhaps to its detriment, it engages in a bit of moralizing, but it’s all to further the greater goal. In the end, V’s real “ultimate power” may come without saying any words at all. This is a major moment in the story of V’s character, on par with taking the soul splice in the first place.

V really learns two lessons here, both related in a way, and they’re both put into stark comparison with each other in this strip. The one Xykon preaches to him is how quixotic V’s quest for “ultimate arcane power” really was all along, how one-dimensionally V saw power, how it ultimately wouldn’t ever be enough, and against someone who really grasped power, wasn’t enough. This seems to both support the idea of the soul splice representing the Four Words, though perhaps for unexpected reasons, and suggest that if it wasn’t, then when the prophecy eventually does come true it’ll come with a twist. (“I’m going to multiclass.”)

Hmm. Maybe the real four words were “My power EXCEEDS yours!”

The other lesson provides the forces of good’s response to Xykon’s characterization of power, and if anyone here is likely to vocalize it it’s O-Chul. It’s this lesson that V takes to heart in her holeside epiphany. Some forumites, before this strip, suggested that V’s run-in with Xykon showed the value of teamwork (after all, Redcloak and Tsukiko did most of the critical dirty work), but what V learns here is slightly different – baby steps, perhaps – and more fit to her situation. It’s learning not to think entirely about himself all the time. In that one moment, V realizes there’s a greater good going on here, and while self-preservation may mean resuming getting out while the getting’s good, the right thing means letting someone get a few more licks in on Xykon. In an odd way, while forum speculation for a while suggested that V and Belkar marked a study in contrasts as they flipped places on the alignment scale (one half fake, but still), the real contrast may be that while Belkar is faking character development and becoming a team player, V is getting the real thing. Maybe they could become real buddies now.

(It’s also worth comparing V to his good friend Haley, who recently said she “takes responsibility for her own actions,” defending why she wouldn’t crack down on Belkar at all. In a way, it makes perfect sense that if V was going to make friends with anyone it would be Haley with their respective look-out-for-number-one tendencies. And now, both are starting to grow out of those shells in varying ways.)

It’s here that V gets her redemption from his failure from earlier. Out of spells and trying only to make it out alive, V indirectly caused the death of several fleeing soldiers as the Battle for Azure City was drawing to a close. When this was revealed, it may have seemed a hastily-conceived way to explain V’s apparent character derailment in the 500s (check out that book V’s holding at the end). But this is an almost identical situation, except here V figures out how to pitch in without any spells and while putting himself at great risk.

The rules of story indicate O-Chul pretty much HAS to get some major damage in against Xykon now. Imagine this scenario (rather plausible without the early plot holes): O-Chul kills Xykon, returning the favor V just paid him, but doesn’t finish off the phylactery. Vaarsuvius and O-Chul leave, but for whatever reason don’t take the Monster in the Dark. Patrols come around, and while Vaarsuvius is powerless to hold them off, O-Chul isn’t. So, V gets out alive no matter what he did at the hole in the wall, but by doing something for the greater good gets someone else to help him out and actually comes out better in the deal. And suppose they subsequently find the Resistance – V gets a chance for some further literal atonement for her failure from earlier. It may have ruined the reunion of the Order, but taking off to fight Xykon may prove to be the best thing to happen to them, and to Vaarsuvius.

This might be a bad sign for Windows 7. On the other hand, IE7 was the "Vista Browser" and it kicked ass…

I was actually a little psyched to get IE8. Maybe it could fix some of the more quirky aspects of IE7, some of its slow stretches. maybe it could even keep from stopping my computer from hibernating.

Well, the new “accelerators” are overrated – the people behind the sites you visit actually have to create them, so no Yahoo Mail accelerator for me. It and a lot of the other new features are hopelessly gimmicky. I mean, color-coded tabs? Especially when I can’t define each tab’s color?

What’s more, Autocomplete is now limited to the first (not, say, most recent or relevant) 20 history results (and most recent 5, plus any favorites) as part of “spiffing up” Autocomplete. And scrolling with the side of my touchpad sucks now for speed-scrolling. (Word has a similar problem, in that it’ll sometimes refuse to scroll past the insertion point.) And the slowness issues, if anything, may have gotten worse.

I had been considering taking Firefox for a test drive to see how it could match up compared to the more concerning aspects of IE7. The main thing preventing me from doing so was the promise of IE8 and its new features, which either would be enough to keep me from going to Firefox or wouldn’t be. I didn’t think it was possible, but IE8 has actively driven me to Firefox.

(Oddly, even though I myself use IE and IE is the most popular browser, most visitors to Da Blog use Firefox. Maybe that says something about the sorts of people who would visit Da Blog…)

What’s the difference between About, Cast, and New Reader pages?

It’s a topic brought up by a post that seems to conflate them. To be sure, a conflation can help some to understand why they’re reading old Websnark posts where Eric Burns(-White) calls out webcartoonists that don’t have a cast page (“dude, it’s a cast page! It’s not the Great Artifact that will bring about the Age of Transcendence!”), but it seems some don’t agree.

Whether or not you conflate them probably depends on your specific circumstances – for example, do you have a gag-a-day comic, or a story comic? If you do conflate one or more you can probably label it with anything it fills the role of. Regardless, I would draw the boundaries like so:

  • About: Basic information about the comic, and optionally, about the author. A quick and dirty way to get acquainted with the setting or the concept. A comic FAQ might fall under an “about” header.
  • Cast: Information about the cast, their personalities, and where they are in the story.
  • New Readers: A more advanced form of the About page, explaining “the story so far”, reducing the reader’s need for an archive binge. May contain links to relevant storylines, for example, if the reader wants to “experience it for themselves”.

So, an About page is about the comic, Cast is about the cast, and New Readers is about the story. Burns(-White) loves cast pages because they can so easily serve as a filter to reveal info about the comic and the story. Cast pages can obviate the need for New Readers pages, but About pages don’t obviate the need for Cast pages without turning into Cast pages, especially when you consider the pages’ relative utility to old readers.

(No, you did not just stumble into the Floating Lightbulb by accident.)

You know what just occured to me?

Hey… I’m on Twitter now… a new channel to communicate with me… and a public one at that…

I’m tempted to try and start up the global warming debate again I tried to start back in April, and put some of the research pressure off of me.

Delusion of grandeur, or could I actually get both sides to take part in a massive Twitter debate and make real the “mirroring effect” I envisioned for the series? YOU DECIDE!

Crap. Okay, change of plans.

Should I start a new “twitter news” label?

So Peter C. Hayward commented on my Twitter intro post to inform me that apparently I can’t have a post that appears in anyone’s public timeline AND is also sent as an @reply. At least, not according to the normal @reply system. So, any posts to Da Blog will be prefixed with “Da Blog:” in the Twitter feed.

I’d kinda prefer not to do this and the alternative could be to just abandon the notion of phrasing Da Blog post titles as @replies, and if I’m understanding right and it’s entirely IMPOSSIBLE to do both there’s not really a point to instituting this step and taking the alternative would be better… maybe I can make that a Da Blog Poll in the future.

Sorry, advertisers, the new tweeter isn’t for you!

So I decided to take a look at my Project Wonderful account for the first time in a while because I noticed the Sandsday ad box was significantly higher than I was anticipating.

The first thing I noticed was that Project Wonderful spruced things up a little while I wasn’t looking. I can login right from the front page, for example.

The next thing I noticed? Despite only 8 page views a day (down from the height of the post-Komix era), Sandsday is fetching about 6 cents a day, while far more significantly viewed ad boxes (as in, 20-30) fetch only 1 cent a day, including on the Morgan Wick Sites in general.

So if you really, really want to advertise on Sandsday, you could actually get a bargain advertising to significantly more people that read Da Blog, not just the smaller comic audience!

Oh, and I finally crossed the $10 barrier needed to take some money out of my account. But that’s trivial.

(Wait… I think I forgot to tag my Twitter post as “webcomic news”. So, I have a new Twitter feed, it’s on the sidebar, sign up and get alerts the instant I post a new comic instead of whenever Komix’ trawlers happen by!)

Tweet, tweet! Tweet, tweet, tweet!

The stated purpose of Twitter is to exchange answers to the question, “What are you doing?” with friends and family. There are a few obvious problems with the concept. In some sense, it’s really just a service to send a text message to a bunch of people at once, as though you couldn’t do that anyway if you have a half-decent phone. Then there’s the obvious question whether you, or your friends or family, would want your friends and family to know about every single thing you’re doing. There’s a limit to how much following you can do at once, especially if you’re getting text messages for every single tweet (meaning you’re constantly interrupted by each incoming text) and racking up your text message bill. There are all sorts of horror stories of people begging their friends, “don’t tweet me every couple of minutes!” and “I don’t want to know what you had for dinner last night!”

In fact, if Twitter was as simple as I just described, it probably would not be on its way to becoming The Next Big Thing(tm). Instead the makers of Twitter made several decisions that, in retrospect, represent them lucking out on something they could cash in on if they just found the right business model:

  • Tweets are public. Anyone can read them, even people who haven’t signed up for Twitter (contrast, say, Facebook). This is why Twitter is called a “microblogging” platform instead of, say, a “mass text message” platform.
  • Followers control whether they want to follow you, not the other way around. It would be at the very least impractical for Ashton Kutcher to send messages to a million-plus screaming fans all at once. Big celebrities and news organizations like CNN could set up a “text this word to this number and get alerts right to your phone!” service, and probably do (for one thing, they could charge their own fees for it). But Twitter allows them to save the expense of having such a system AND open them up to anyone who desires to read them, in the spirit of the Internet itself. In fact, followship is not even a reciprocal relationship as with most social networking services, so it doesn’t have the “commitment” of “friendship”, and you don’t have to follow someone you’re not interested in just because they want to follow you. (I suspect some celebrities and corporate tweeters don’t get this and blindly follow everyone that follows them.)
  • It’s possible to run Twitter without using text messages, or even going to the site that often. Twitter has opened things up for anyone to “build a better Twitter”. I’m not really sure what the point is – either Twitter’s admitting their site sucks or it works just fine and there’s no need to use something else – but I do know I would like a Twitter platform that won’t go on the fritz if it’s disconnected from the Internet (i.e., it’ll pick right back up when you re-connect to the Internet). And that won’t prevent me from hibernating but there’s only one way to find out if that’s the case.
  • I think Twitter itself anticipated that their service would not just be used to answer the question “What are you doing?” even though almost everything about their site works under that assumption. How else to explain the existence of “@replies” or “retweets” (admittedly the latter is unofficial) or other such things? Twitter clearly sees itself as a social networking platform of some kind.

At the same time, Twitter’s relative independence from social networking platforms like MySpace and Facebook work to its benefit as well, including the non-reciprocity of followship, which actually creates more of an incentive for people to follow you when it means strictly “receiving their tweets”. If Twitter were just another social networking platform it probably would never have been able to run down the giants. By focusing all its attention on a sole feature – quick, bang-bang updates sent out to as many people as want to hear them – and downplaying the social networking aspect of its existence, Twitter has established for itself a separate identity. You don’t go to Twitter to meet new people or whatever else you do on MySpace, nor should you, and you don’t go to Facebook to write a bunch of little blurbs every half hour.

Okay, so why tweet instead of blog? Isn’t tweeting just an extremely limited form of blogging? There’s the social networking aspects, but Blogger’s decided to ape those with its “follower” feature; there’s the ability to receive text messages instead of always going to a computer, but surely someone could have come up with a service that did that without outfitting it with all the bells and whistles of Twitter, right? There’s the ability to send text messages to tweet, but surely an outfit like Blogger could institute that capability too, right? So why is it that blogs – Blogger blogs even, like Fang’s Bites – not only have Twitter accounts on top of their blogs, but use them almost entirely to post links to their blog posts? I have to imagine it’s to allow text message notification to people for whom RSS feeds aren’t immediate enough, or blog promotion. (I personally actually prefer to read Fang’s Bites off the RSS feed than in its “original” form.)

Perhaps more interesting is those people who put some things in their Tweeters and other things on their blogs. Why not just put the stuff you’re tweeting on your blogs and stop antagonizing readers by either polluting their text messages or Twitter roll or withholding content from them? When I made Da Blog’s tagline “The ONLY blog written by Morgan Wick”, the intended joke was that of course it was the only blog written by me, because why would I create another one when I had this one? Why would anyone start a second blog – especially one that limited how much you could write so severely – when they already had one?

Twitter really hit mainstream consciousness with the Ashton Kutcher-CNN “race to a million” and Oprah deciding to get a Twitter account – but the mere fact that Kutcher and CNN could race to a million showed that Twitter had attained some sort of mainstream acceptance even before that. People have been pushing Twitter as the “next big thing” since at least 2007 (it only launched in 2006). Celebrities and ordinary Joes alike have flocked to Twitter in droves over the past year or so, convinced they have to get on board with this next big thing, and there is some evidence they eventually get confused or frustrated and quit.

Forget, for a second, whether or not the dropoff rate is the result of people using “better Twitters”, as opposed to using the website, as some have suggested. Newbies are less likely to know they exist, so there’s probably some genuine dropoff. I’ve listed above some of the confusing aspects of Twitter, areas where the uninitiated might wonder, what the hell is the point? I think some of the people wondering about Twitter should make sure they’ve looked at the tweeters of people who have already taken to it like a glove so they can really get a feel for the technology and what the community is like.

Twitter isn’t just narcissistic; it can be a more two-way form of communication than almost anything else on the Internet, including ordinary blogs with their comments and even discussion forums, as you can have public conversations with anyone you’re following and/or who’s following you, from anywhere in the world – or even have a true “chat” room where just about anyone can come in and out. In this way it can be a way to elicit comments or contributions or other such things, invoking the “wisdom of crowds”. The immediacy of Twitter helps greatly with this as well; you don’t necessarily have to wait for a follower to go to the computer and actually look to check. You can use Twitter for personal purposes as well, such as to-do lists or notes, or to manage projects, or to cover events “as they happen” (impractical with a blog), or things you’d never expect to do with such a simple concept. There are a lot of rather unique Twitter accounts with some unique applications of the concept, more than I could possibly list here.

I said in Da Blog’s introductory post that I would never have a MySpace or Facebook account. I saw them as things that were overly popular that I was therefore, in some way, “too cool” for. I had no use for them, and if I were to hop on their bandwagon I would effectively be going along with the crowd and doing what everyone else was doing. But Twitter intrigues me. In an odd way, I actually have some personal interest in Twitter’s stated goal, of letting people know “what are you doing?” Since I was very young, I imagined any number of imaginary TV channels that in some way involved me and any number of… I won’t call them imaginary friends, per se, but imaginary people. Through various corporate acquisitions and permutations (I have very well-developed fantasies – I read Calvin and Hobbes as a kid), I’ve managed to maintain these fantasies in some form all the way to the present day. Through all these permutations, I almost always managed to have one channel that followed me around all day long in whatever I did, except maybe when I was eating. I’ve always had some interest in the rituals of my own life and how exactly I spent my day every day, what I was doing at each moment. Twitter and I were practically made for each other!

So I’ve been thinking about hopping on board the Twitter bandwagon for a little while – I’ve only had sufficient exposure to it to really think about it this year, but still. This is actually a little sooner than I had intended to do so, as I had intended to hop on board around the same time as certain other developments (that haven’t happened yet) came along, but I received an assignment from my communications class to (among other things) keep a log of my media usage for a four-day period. That aligns with one of the things I was intending to tweet about, and I just loved the irony of maintaining such a log on Twitter. From now until Monday, relevant entries in said log will be marked with the “#MediaLog” keyword.

So say hello to the real-life Morgan Wick Channel, also known as, your one-stop shop for all things Morgan Wick. Here you’ll find:

  • Everything (or almost everything) I’m doing. Am I on the bus? In class? Checking feeds? Working on the latest blog post? Doing actual work? Watching TV? You’ll know.
  • If I’m moved to leave a comment on something somewhere on the Internet, I’ll usually elect to write a mirroring Twitter post, depending on how much I’ve talked about the topic on Da Blog and some other factors. (Sports or webcomics? Yes. Global warming? No.)
  • Anything happening in the Morgan Wick Online Universe (which I intend to tighten soon). Every time I make a post on Da Blog, it will appear on the Twitter feed with a link. This includes “web site news” items, so you’ll get tweets every time I update the web site. I’ll also tweet every time a new Sandsday goes up, which should be a more reliable and punctual option than the Komix feed, as well as alert you when I need to post the new comic on Da Blog. If I have other projects that for whatever reason I don’t post about on Da Blog every time a new one goes up, I’ll tweet those as well. This is another reason for me to go to Twitter: anyone who likes me for anything else will be exposed to any of my other projects!
  • Other comments as I’m moved to leave them, including my more ranty moments, which will be phased off Da Blog.

I think there are enough problems with Twitter as constituted now that I’m not sure how full-bore I can go into it. Right now I’m (or rather, my mom is) charged for every text I send or receive, meaning I need to avoid texting any tweets if at all possible, and I either can’t go around following everyone under the sun or I need to turn off text reception of tweets. There are plenty of other reasons for the latter; simply put, as presently constituted there is a practical limit to how many people you can follow without getting overwhelmed by tweets, many of which you’re probably not the least bit interested in.

I’m laying down a few ground rules for my use of Twitter that will also affect what I post to Da Blog:

  • Any post that could be a tweet will be posted as a tweet. If I’m ever tempted to post something shorter than 140 characters it will be posted on Twitter and not Da Blog.
  • If I am ever tempted to write something that would span two or more Twitter posts it will be posted as a blog post instead. This could potentially actually counteract the loss of short posts to Twitter; I’ll go along and happen upon something I want to make into a tweet, but it comes out too long. Off to Da Blog with it, even if I would not have made it a blog post otherwise!
  • Some Da Blog posts may have titles written with Twitter syntax. For example, I could write a post directed to the “example” Twitter account, and so I would have a post with a title beginning “@example”. If you decide to rely on Twitter to find out when new blog posts are up you’ll want to make sure you’re seeing all my @replies. (UPDATE: Okay, never mind. See comments.) Also, from now on if I have to put up Sandsday on Da Blog the post title will start “Sandsday #XXX” to mirror the Twitter format, as opposed to now when it’s just a random thought on the action.
  • No retweets. I find merely copy-pasting someone else’s tweet to be essentially pointless. Instead I’ll just make it a reply to the tweet. (There’s a chance I’ll retweet in the title of a blog post once or twice.)

Links to my Twitter feed will be located in three places: on the right sidebar of Da Blog, on the front page and 404 page of the web site on the sidebar, and on Sandsday, both in the sidebar and below the comic. Da Blog’s sidebar, in particular, will contain “Da Tweeter”, which will display my tweets in real time.

Okay, now, I spent long enough writing this introductory post that I’m going to have lunch and immediately start working on a paper for my communication class. What will I do next? You’ll have to read my tweeter to find out.