Attack of the Blipverts

Ah, the imprecise voodoo of advertising on the web. Too much, and you lose people. Too little, and your site is running at a loss financially and then people lose you because you can’t afford to keep the domain name locked down or exceed your site’s monthly bandwidth or… you get the idea.

And then there’s the current trend, which is to have something which detects ad blockers and throws up a smoke screen to keep you from making use of a site, either partially or fully. I’m not installing anything like that here, ever. I hate that shit.

Still, I have been forming partnerships here and there to bring some new advertisers and affiliate programs to the site. This keeps all the eggs out of one basket (which proved disastrous when Amazon kicked all of its Arkansas affiliates to the curb about 10 years ago), diversifies what’s on offer (while still keeping it very much in theLogBook’s wheelhouse), and hopefully, will eventually add up to the site being financially self-sustaining again in the near future. Read More

The new LogBook, same as the old LogBook

So, about that redesign…you might have noticed just a couple of minor cosmetic changes here and there. Just a couple.

theLogBook.com has had very, very minor variations on the same logo ever since I first rendered the word “LOGBOOK” in Microgramma Bold Extended on a Video Toaster in 1994 or ’95, just for giggles. Ever since then, that’s been the logo, and that’s been the “look”.

Video toast Read More

Contact re-established

Let's go Iron Man!In 2011, Amazon.com cut off all of its affiliation agreements with affiliates in several states, as a response to those states pushing for laws that would force Amazon to collect state sales tax in those states. This action was a calculated effort to get the affiliates to put pressure on their state legislatures to rescind the bills in question, but as many Amazon affiliates are either small businesses or sites run by individuals, Amazon didn’t get the result expected. If collecting the taxes in question made business impossible to do in those states, Amazon would’ve stopped shipping things to Arkansas and the other states in question, but of course they didn’t. That would affect the bottom line. Can’t have that.

theLogBook.com had been an Amazon affiliate since the late 1990s, which was really the point at which it went from “disorganized fan site” to “somewhat more focused site that can make a bit of money”. Then there came a tipping point at which the site was legitimately paying its own bills – the costs of hosting, the domain name, bandwidth, even my internet connectivity at home, were all being paid for by the site. This justified expansion of the site and the time spent on it, and led to a few “boom years” where content seemed to increase nearly exponentially. That had to slow down substantially when my first child arrived, but it was still worth spending time on. When Amazon cut all of its Arkansas affiliates off in 2011, myself included, it was like losing a limb. What point was there in generating more material for the site when it was no longer going to pay its own bills? Indeed, the money to buy the things frequently covered here – DVDs, music, and so on – ran out. The emphasis rapidly changed: it was time for that Doctor Who book I’d been working on at a slow burn for several years to come to the front burner in a hurry. The kind of content I could charge for was the only kind that there was any justification to work on.

Now, thanks to a change in federal law, Amazon is required to collect state sales tax nationwide…and without announcing it to anyone, they’ve re-opened the doors of their affiliate program to sites in those states they once spurned. Here’s what that means at theLogBook. Read More

Podcast of Extraordinary Magnitude: Oh Poopy

Here is the newsThe true (but necessarily vague) tale of the time I had to sue someone for stealing from theLogBook.com. 😯 Also included: more weird radio stories, waterproof droids and… a cat on crack.

Listen here:

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Right-click here and “save as” to save to your hard drive or MP3 player; leave feedback with this post or in the forums.

Thank you for not blogging

This blog has become a bit of a no-blogging zone here lately. The whole site has. I’m working on that a bit, but it’s been slow going. My hours aren’t conducive to me getting… well… much of anything done. (I just mowed my yard this week after getting a long-distance call from the guys aboard the International Space Station, asking me to do something about the fact that my grass was tall enough to brush up against their windows when their orbit carried them over Arkansas.) Daddy duty is taking more of my time as little E reaches the age where he wants to explore things, learn more stuff, and have conversations. I love the little conversations we have. It’s the whole reason one’s in the dad business. He cracks me up sometimes, especially when he comes up with some humorous response that’s like something I would say in the same situation. He really is turning into a little me. (I want him to turn out better than that!)

I’m trying to figure out what to do with theLogBook.com. Daily updates, frankly, ain’t gonna happen anymore. It was a valiant try, but at this point I think it’s all about finding clever ways to leverage what’s already on the site. You’ll be seeing quite a few instances of “It aired today X years ago!” stuff soon, as we’re going into the time of year that American TV shows generally premiere – it’s kind of a no-brainer. I wish the forums were generating more activity that I could point to without having to go in and constantly goose it, but I guess this is to be expected when I pretty much fell off the grid for about a week or so (without really planning or preparing to do so, it has to be said). Responsibility for the site going comatose lies solely at my feet.

At the core of the issue is: I have less time to do all the watching / listening / reading that I used to do, to say nothing ofr writing about all the watching / listening / reading that makes up the site. My schedule has really become more about drive-by forum postings (and an awful lot of them are links to other places) when I have the time – perhaps a little too much influence from Facebook, but really much more of a function of my schedule.

I’m open to ideas on how to make it work. I’m not ready to give up yet, even though by any measure that includes common sense, I probably should be.

Negative…it just impacted on the surface.

Star Wars: The Arcade Game (Atari 2600)ARGH. I think I’ve mentioned a few times recently that I’m working on a monumental project – creating a Flash movie, viewable online, for just about every game review existing in Phosphor Dot Fossils. That’s a lot of work, seeing as we’re at well over 100 arcade reviews and a comparable number of reviews have been done for various consoles. But now I’m running into a speed bump: the infamous “flicker” of the Atari 2600. I was trying to create a video clip of Star Wars: The Arcade Game (seen above) and ran into this dilemma. When too many moving objects occupied the screen at the same time, the Atari 2600 would have to draw them in staggered cycles. This produced the “blinking” effect that made games such as Pac-Man infamously hard on the eyes, because for every cycle that the software in question redrew the screen, it didn’t have enough memory real estate to draw everything on the screen at the same time. So Pac-Man would be shown in one cycle, a couple of monsters in the next, and the other two monsters in the next – and while modern machines and modern displays with 60-frame-per-second refresh rates on their video might be able to pull this trick off seamlessly, if they even needed to resort to that approach, the 2600 was slow enough that it showed even to the naked eye. Painfully so.

Star Wars is a particularly bad example of that – if a TIE fighter got off too many shots on the same screen, they would all start flickering madly until the number of object on screen dropped off. Worse yet, the program for Star Wars on the 2600 draws the two side walls of the Death Star trench in staggered mode…so in the resulting video, I can see the left wall of the trench just fine, but not the right wall, and not the barriers across the middle. I’m trying to figure out some video tricks to put a “trail” effect on things so they’ll be forced to stay on the screen all at once…but so far, not much luck. I really hope this doesn’t scuttle the project or force me to use emulation for the 2600 video. I want to be able to show everyone the real thing, for two reasons – #1, from a standpoint of academic and historical accuracy (and yes, I really do see this as an academic project, silly as that may seem), and #2, because it enforces some playing time for me on an almost daily basis, and I’ve enjoyed that tremendously here of late. There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I set out to put three minutes of Star Wars game play on digital videotape and wound up with about 25 minutes of footage from one game. I don’t have any idea how these tall tales get started.

We finally got some rain today, much-needed rain I might add. I’m normally not too thrilled to be feeding horses and working with horses in pouring rain, because they want to get into the barn where it’s dry and warm, and it might not occur to them to, say, not walk right through me to achieve that goal in their haste. (My persistent sneezing has returned after this morning’s horseplay, so perhaps the horses are smarter than I am.) Today, however, I found new faces to feed – a couple of my sister-in-law’s donkeys have joined the herd, although they’re isolated in their own round pen. I haven’t worked with donkeys before. There’s a big one – well, relatively big for a donkey – and a small one, so I spent the morning calling them Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior. I was about to go in to feed them when I realized that I had no idea if they were kick-happy or not. I announced my presence by telling them I’m sure we’d all get along just fine, because I have food, and food is a good thing. After someone kicked a big wet clod of mud right past my head – he was a safe distance away but got spooked by my presence and tried to run away, kicking up mud instead – I said “I can see we’re going to have to work on this relationship a bit.” I guess I need to start putting on a Mike Myers faux-Scottish accent, ’cause that man can talk to donkeys like nobody’s business.