Not surprising given his parentage, Ben has taken an early interest in computers. If he’s awake in the mornings while I’m doing my morning Web surfing, I’ll often put Apollo the laptop next to me while holding him, so I can keep reading comics while he watches Baby Einstein. This often becomes a distraction for him, though, as he’d much rather see what Daddy is up to that’s undoubtedly more interesting than puppets. This usually turns into a wrestling match as he wants to play with Daddy’s toy, which is infinitely more cool than any of his.
Well, this morning I decided to give him a crack at the thing. After waiting for Apollo to boot (“Remember, Ben, this is a Windows box, so that takes a while….”), I opened a word processor, changed the font to something large and bright so it was easy to see that he was actually making it do things, and let him go to town. I had to intervene a couple times when he hit Control or Alt, and I deleted a good bit of the unnecessary whitespace (he was particularly fond of the large Enter key and had nine pages of carriage returns), but otherwise left it as it was and thought I’d go ahead and share.
So without further ado, I present baby’s first blog post:
l———;p J;kj;lj;lkjjupoytouigry 8 7yj/
. t vmb jku g
Not a lot of substance, but he’s still getting the hang of this “language” thing. Still, it’s probably better than 90% of the blog posts out there anyway….
It’s funny how after you do something like this and you listen to yourself hemming and hawing and stuttering, you realize just how many things you wanted to say that you completely forgot about at the time. Oh well. And of course Suddenlink would have a major outage today, meaning the blog would be down half the day, starting about when the interview went live. [Rolls eyes]
Anyhoo, enjoy the podcast. There’s a lot of interesting discussion, especially around Year Seven’s Providence, Nick and Ki’s relationship vs. Fooker and Sharon’s, and this here little slice of the Intraweb. Discuss the podcast either on the podcast’s comments page, or use this thread on the GPF forum.
Three posts is a single day… perforated bovine, what is this world coming to?
I’ve just found out that I’ll be going to SIGGRAPH 2007 in San Diego, CA, on August 5-9. SIGGRAPH, for those who don’t know, is one of the world’s largest conferences for “digital innovators, creative researchers, award-winning producers, provocative artists, energetic executives, and adventurous engineers.” It’s where to find the cutting edge in 3D modeling, computer animation, and digital art. I’m technically going for my day job and I definitely won’t be presenting or exhibiting anything, but I’m adding a reference on the GPF Shows & Cons page just in case any Faulties will be in attendance (or possibly just in the area) and want to organize an ad-hoc gathering. (After all, I’m only on the West Coast every so often.) As such, I’ll probably post updates as more information develops.
Of course, this pretty much cinches that I won’t be going to Comic-Con International this year. I had pretty much abandoned hope for most convention travel this year since the little guy is still under a year old, but there’s always a part of me that dreams of at least making it back to our big two stops, Comic-Con and Dragon*Con. Alas, Comic-Con is just two weeks before SIGGRAPH, and I’m not sure I’m up to hours and hours of air travel that close together. That also puts any hope for Dragon*Con on the rocks, as it’s a scant three weeks after SIGGRAPH. While I’ll be going to SIGGRAPH on the company’s dime, meaning finances aren’t the issue, spending that much time on the road so close together would be pretty rough on our little family right now.
As usual, though, keep you eyes on the Shows & Cons page for official convention notices. Since SIGGRAPH isn’t an official GPF stop, I’m not sure how much coverage it will get on the GPF site, but it should get a good bit of face time here.
One of the impending things hinted at in today’s GPF News item is that I should be interviewed in this week’s Jesus Geek podcast. Jesus Geek is a weekly Christian/technology podcast “hosted by a geek, amateur astronomer and homeschooling dad.” When I received their interview request, I went back and listened to a number of episodes in their archives, and there’s a good chance I’ll become a regular subscriber. I’ll be putting up an official link in the next GPF News post as soon as the podcast goes live (as well as a permanent link down in the GPF Links Off-Site portion of the GPF Link-O-Rama), but I’ll give you guys a heads-up here.
If you haven’t noticed, the blog hasn’t moved yet. I know I mentioned that I expected to have it moved by last weekend, but with the Keenspot server troubles, I decided to hold off and wait until the Keen Tech Crew has finished cleaning up the debris on their end. I’ll try and give you an ETA when I have one. Until then, keep using all the same old links and feeds.
As most of you know, I’m not usually one to jump into the latest webcomics controversy. It’s sad, really, that such a relatively small community can be so self-absorbed and petty as to snipe at each other and prove just how unprofessional it can really be. Webcartoonists have a particular knack for picking up on the slightest little bit of miscommunication or overflowing ego and turn it into an embarrassing morass, while the rest of the Internet and the world at large beyond it barely even know we exist. (There are much more constructive ways to use those energies, such as, say, uniting together to promote webcomics as a whole.) That’s one reason I typically stay deathly silent whenever something like this crops up; I want to be treated as a professional, and professionals do their jobs dutifully while respecting their peers and even their adversaries. I despise politics, even on a microscopic scale.
But that’s enough of that little rant. This webcomics controversy actually has a bit of merit, and since nobody else seems to be taking the position I currently have, I might as well put my two cents worth in and hope it doesn’t turn back around to bite me. It most likely will, given how things online can easily be taken out of context, but hopefully reasonable folks will read this entire post and not just one person’s misrepresentation of it.
By now, many (if not most) of you have already heard the news, but for those who haven’t: About five and a half years ago, “Shmorky” (who I will refer to by this handle, since he produced the content in question under this pseudonym and he prefers to remain anonymous, even though many people already know who he really is), the creator of the Keenspot comic Purple Pussy, created this comic. Over the years, it has proven quite popular, having been linked and copied across the Net repeatedly in forums, blogs, and other venues. The merits of this repeated copying, whether it benefited Shmorky by promoting his work or was a detriment to him in lost advertising revenue, is not the question here; it stands as a fact, though, that it has been seen world wide by thousands of people both on and off Keenspot. It has also been reproduced in print through Keenspot’s Free Comic Book Day Spotlight contribution for 2004, which has been distributed to thousands more across the US (and probably beyond). And yet, in what many have considered a blatant act of plagiarism, world-renowned artist Todd Goldman has apparently reproduced Shrmorky’s work without permission, even exhibiting the work in an art gallery in Los Angeles and potentially earning huge revenues from its exhibition. (For more in depth detail of this situation, as well as tons of links to media and blog coverage, check out this Something Awful thread started by Shmorky himself.)
Now, before I say anything else, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I’ve met Shmorky in person, and I really like him. He seems to be a wonderful person and is unquestionably a talented artist. I may not always agree with the mature nature of some of the content he has produced, but as a fellow artist and webcartoonist, I have a great deal of respect for him and what he’s accomplished. I’ve also offered him at a minimum some moral support on this issue and offered a little bit of layman’s legal advice based on the little bit of legal research I’ve done on some related topics. If the accusations against Mr. Goldman can be proven true, I sincerely hope that Shmorky is sufficiently compensated for the appropriation of his work.
That said, I’m not sure if the well-intentioned tactics currently being used by the online comics community to draw attention to this situation are really going to have the affect everyone thinks it will have. This is a thorny situation, and it’s definitely thornier for no one more than Shmorky himself, who stands to lose a whole lot more than those who may be “aiding” him if these tactics backfire.
What tactics are these, you might ask? Well, for one thing, just do a Google search for “art thief”. At the time of this posting, the number two ranked result is a Digg of “Todd Goliath (Goldman), Art Thief”. Keenspot has even gotten into the game by preempting its usual internal self-promotion to use the system-wide Newsbox to link to this Digg. The Wikipedia article for Goldman linked above even includes coverage of the situation (although the article is currently locked so unauthenticated changes cannot be made).
Why does this concern me? For one thing, there’s a lot of accusations going around and apparently very little actual communication. Has anyone even bothered to contact Goldman about this? Gary Tyrrell has apparently tried (to which I give him a good deal of journalistic credit), and he received a rather suspicious reply whose authenticity is still in question. Beyond that, there seems to be a lot of finger pointing and mudslinging and not much else. There’s a little saying in this country about being innocent until proven guilty, and as far as I can tell, there hasn’t been any legal proceedings to evaluate any evidence. (For that matter, is this a criminal or civil law issue? Given the potential exhibition and merchandise dollars involved, I’m leaning toward criminal copyright infringement, but I’m not quite sure.) Mind you, I’m not necessarily coming to Mr. Goldman’s defense; I am, however, trying to remain objective. And since I am neither a lawyer (and I’m betting neither are the vast majority of you) nor am I a judge hearing this as a case in court, my opinion (and yours) doesn’t amount to much more than the proverbial hill of beans. Until actual legal proceedings commence and a qualified judge actually issues a ruling, there is nothing more going here on than a series of suspiciously similar images being compared on a few Web sites. It’s careless to say much else about the situation without a lawyer looking over your shoulder.
Given that, here’s what’s really got me worried for Shmorky. Some folks have interpreted the “reply” posted to Fleen as libel (not slander; do your research), that Goldman has called Shmorky a pedophile. If this message is eventually proven to have come from Goldman (check the comments for some compelling evidence in that direction), it could very well indeed be ruled as libel. Again, that’s a determination only a judge could make. But what about all these webcartoonists going about calling Goldman a thief? Who’s to say Goldman can’t turn this around and counter sue Shmorky for libel as well? Or if Shmorky doesn’t have the resources to initiate copyright infringement proceedings, what’s stopping Goldman from getting the ball rolling with a libel suit himself? True, there’s a lot more people out there than Shmorky saying this, but it was his Something Awful post that kicked of this tempest and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to be argued that the rest of us are lemmings following his lead. Goldman can’t sue the entire webcomics community, but he can sue the man who started things off by calling him a thief. And if this mess does finally make its way into a court of law, Goldman could very well be proven guilty based on the evidence at hand, but Shmorky could be facing a vicious civil libel suit at the same time. That’s a lot of lawyer fees for a small, independent artist to be paying. (One hopes he can find one to work pro bono and not on retainer.)
Thus, I recommend caution. I think the images of Shmorky’s work and Goldman’s work speak volumes in and of themselves. Promote the comparison and let viewers judge for themselves. Adding potentially libelous commentary isn’t going to help matters. I also think evidence should be preserved: images with date/time stamps intact should be archived and, better yet, copies of the Keenspot Spotlight 2004 FCBD book should be set aside as examples of prior art. That’s going to help Shmorky a whole lot more than all the chimps in the monkey house throwing feces at the 800 lb. gorilla in the next enclosure.
Greetings from Utah. I certainly hope your past few days have been better than mine, as I’ve had a rather crazy couple of days.
As previously alluded to, I’m currently in Provo, Utah, on the campus of Brigham Young University for the ID+SCORM conference. (In fact, at least part of this post was typed in during one particularly boring session using a combination of my LifeDrive and an infrared keyboard.) I’m not sure how many of you would be interested in adaptive learning models and computer-based instructional design, so I won’t bore you with any of those details. But let’s just say my trip here was a bit more… interesting.
I got up as normal on Wednesday morning, driving into Hinton with a couple traveling bags instead of my usual briefcase. My project manager and I hopped in her car and drove a couple hours to Roanoke, VA to catch our flight. Why Roanoke, when the airport in Charleston, WV would be probably closer? Because Travelocity said so, I suppose. We got to Roanoke without incident and in plenty of time to get through security and get to our gate. All the displays said our flight was on time, so we both settled in–she with her book and I with my Palm laden down with multimedia–for the wait until boarding.
It wasn’t long before we started hearing rumors from other passengers that our flight was being delayed. Sure enough, we boarded perhaps an hour late. This wasn’t much of a concern for us, as we had a long enough layover in Atlanta, GA to comfortably get to our next gate. It was a bit of a jog (for those unfamiliar with the layout of the Atlanta Hartsfield, it’s not atypical to land at the end of one concourse and have to hoof it to the end of another), but we got there right when our next flight was supposed to be boarding.
Emphasis on “supposed to be”.
Our second flight was also delayed. Unfortunately, we had another connection in Chicago, IL to catch, and we didn’t have nearly as much wiggle room at that layover for delays. (This was the first time I’ve ever had two layovers; I’ve always avoided multiple layovers in the past, but I didn’t book this trip.) My manager talked to the attendant at the counter and managed to get us on a direct flight from Atlanta to Salt Lake City, Utah. (Ironically, the attendant in Roanoke offered to put us on that flight before we left VA, but we turned it down.) That hurdle avoided, we settled in to a long cross-country flight, feeling that most or our problems were over.
This is the point where you say, “But they weren’t, were they?”
And this is the part where I reply, “You betcha.”
We landed in Salt Lake about two hours earlier than we originally planned. There was a third member of our party flying in from a different location on a different flight, so we had to stick around and wait for him. So we headed down to baggage claim to fetch our things, check in with the rental car place, and get those two tasks out of the way. We waited around the carousel for about an hour… and our luggage never came. We went ahead and checked out the rental car, then returned to the baggage desk to find out where our luggage went. The woman who helped me was much more informative than Cheryl’s attendant, who told her nothing. I managed to learn, however, that there must have been some confusion about our change in flights, and the bags neither made it on our new flight nor our original flight. She at least sounded sympathetic when she said, “Sir, we don’t know where you luggage is.”
We grabbed some rudimentary dinner and waited for Lee’s flight to land. Unfortunately, things didn’t get any better. Undoubtedly our entire trip was cursed, as his luggage was also “delayed,” even though he was on a direct flight from Pittsburgh, PA to Salt Lake. By this point, it was already 9PM Mountain time, which to us still felt like 11PM Eastern time. With an hour’s drive still ahead of us, we threw up our hands and gave up. We arrived in Provo after 10PM with plans to get up early and make a trip to Wal-Mart to pick up an emergency change of clothing. (Thus the title of this post.)
Fortunately, today was much better. While I may smell of “citrus aloe” and “orange ginger” instead of my usual more manly scents of Old Spice and Dial Antibacterial soap, I at least have a new polo shirt, pair of khakis, and several new pairs of dress socks. And during the afternoon break, Lee called the hotel and Cheryl’s and my luggage finally arrived and were waiting for us up in our rooms. (Lee’s bags, unfortunately, are still unaccounted for, although his were promised to arrive by 11AM.) Later in the evening, I hooked up with Howard Tayler, a local to these parts, and headed to his Thursday evening hangout, a local gaming store called the Dragon’s Keep. If I’m lucky, I might have a few interesting sketches or such to share once I get back home where I can access a scanner.
Most of you are probably wondering what happened yesterday with the blog. For those who may not have seen it, folks visiting the site via a Web browser were being redirected to another site. I won’t post its URL, as I don’t particularly want to give them any more Googleshare, but it seemed to be some sort of portal site in a language I didn’t immediately recognize. Some of you have speculated that this might have had something to do with the impending move to Keenspot, or perhaps with Keenspot’s current DNS server problems. While I wish those were the case, unfortunately they weren’t.
It looks like it was a problem with my dynamic DNS service, DNS2Go. As previously stated, DNS2Go has an HTTP redirection service that lets me forward “www.jeffdarlington.com” on standard HTTP port 80 to the site’s real IP address at its real non-standard port. This is the component that seems to have failed. Going to www.jeffdarlington.com took you to the mysterious site; however, if you went to jeffdarlington.com:8081 (the site’s real port number), you got the blog. (The style sheet didn’t work, of course, because WordPress hard codes the domain name in all URLs, including to the style sheet. But the content itself was still available.)
I put in a support ticket last night with DNS2Go’s tech support and got the following response this morning:
It was something on our end and we have resolved that problem.
Not very descriptive, but accurate; the site is obviously now up. My guess? I think they were hacked, and they don’t want to admit it. Their own main domain was also down during this time, and all of my domains that used the redirection service in some fashion were affected. I haven’t had a chance to independently research this theory with the conference going on and all, but it seems a bit more suspicious to me than just a technical glitch.
Anyway, things are back to normal now. The move to Keenspot is currently slated for the weekend of April 20th, just in case anyone is interested in knowing.