bobquasit: (Ordinary)
Google recently added the option for voice calling to my Gmail and Google Voice. I can call anywhere in the US for free. But what's really exciting is the sound quality of the calls.

It's been frustrating to use cell phones, for me. My hearing isn't great in the human voice range, and cell phone sound quality usually sucks, to put it mildly. When I call my parents, we sometimes have trouble communicating (no jokes, please ). And when I talk to some of my friends on the cell, it's extremely frustrating; I listen as best as I can, but often miss part of what they're saying.

In addition to the sound quality problem, there's the...I forget what it's called, but basically the problem is that when you speak on a cell phone, the incoming voice signal is suppressed - and contrariwise, when someone is talking to you, they can't hear you. The old land-line connections weren't like that. And they're still not, but it sticks in my craw to pay to call my parents or friends for a land-line call when the same call would be free on my cell phone.

Google's new voice option solves both problems, at least for now. Until the end of this year, domestic calls are free and international calls are 2¢ per minute. They aren't saying what the cost will be after the end of the year, but in the meantime I can make free calls with my headset that actually sound clearer even than a land line call!

Some of you are going to be hearing from me before too long.
bobquasit: (Default)
I installed the new Google Chrome browser a couple of days ago (the day it was released). As always, one of the first sites I checked was my own RuneQuest site; I wanted to see how it looked. And what do you think was the result?

Well, I kind of gave it away with the subject. Google blocked my site, and said it was infected with malware! I checked it out, and sure enough my index.html was infected with a script exploit. I cleaned it and replaced it. Then I found that index.php was infected too. I couldn't clean it, so I just deleted it. It doesn't seem to have affected the functioning of the site.

Unfortunately my site seems to have been added to a list of bad sites in the meantime. So not only is it blocked by Google Chrome (you have to check a box affirming that you know the site is infected if you want to see it in Chrome) but it's now blocked by my work, too!

I've requested a review by Google. I'm hoping I got all of the infection. I downloaded a fresh copy of everything on the site tonight (after making the fix and deleting the bad file) and ran a scan with AntiVir; everything came up clean.

And that's it. Good night!
bobquasit: (Default)
Zines
I almost forgot: I don't know if anyone is tracking it, but I've annotated and posted a shitload of zines on my RQ site lately. Twenty-three of them since late June. Just in case you're desperate for something to read. I haven't given up on the sheetless roleplaying article, but it's basically gone into slow-motion for a while. I'll definitely finish it within a month or so, though.

LJ Backup
I've been manually backing up my LJ. Did all of 2003 (it was only half a year anyway), and am up to October 2004. It's a bit tedious, particularly since none of those old posts are tagged at all. I've been adding tags to them before backing them up, which definitely slows the process down. On the other hand, this means that there are a lot more posts that have been tagged; politics and Sebastian in particular have expanded a lot.

Shogun
I don't know if anyone here is a fan of Shogun (the novel by James Clavell), but if you are, or if you're interested in Japanese history, you might find this interesting: Learning from Shogun - Japanese History and Western Fantasy. It's a PDF with a number of academic essays about the novel and how it relates to the actual Japanese culture of the time. It's a bit disillusioning, in places, but that's inevitable. There's also an essay by one asshole of a professor who made up a clever little bit of wordplay to insult fans of the novel and ignorant Japanophile Westerners in general; he's so pleased with himself over his little coinage that he uses it about five hundred times in his essay, filling me with a powerful urge to kick him in the balls, hard. Still, the rest of the essays are pretty interesting.
bobquasit: (Default)
Still working on it. Sorry, I haven't applied any formatting yet; I'm basically just spewing it out as quickly as possible in order to actually have some text to work with.


Read more... )

More to come...
bobquasit: (Default)
I did a lot of work on my RQ site today. Added a 31-page annotated zine, created a new installment of Chatter (for site-specific posts), and cleaned up lots of odds and ends. There's still plenty to do, but it's nice to have the site a bit more up-to-date!

I should probably do some publicizing, but it's been so long...the odds are that most of the addresses on my update list are dead. I haven't sent anything out to it in a couple of years at least!
bobquasit: (Default)
I've posted five more annotated zines and an article since Monday. I also have another annotated zine ready to go on the site; I just need to link it up (I figured I shouldn't put too much up at once, so I'll probably post it over the weekend).

One of the new zines is a one-shot that I'd totally forgotten about; it was called Babble-On 5, and I wrote it for a Babylon 5 APA in 1995.

I've also managed to get good copies of some of my other zines, the later ones that I wrote for Interregnum. I'll be scanning those as well.

I bogged down on the sheetless roleplaying article, so while I was taking a walk I mentally threw out all the text and started writing it as if I was telling a friend about sheetless roleplaying. That gave me a much better start, I think.

By the way, my guestbook, polls, and quizzes - all of which were free services from a company called Alxnet - are totally dead. I can log in to my account there, but when I try to actually view or modify any of my services, I'm automatically logged out. I tried to email Alxnet and got this result:


This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

toolmanager-support@alxnet.com

Technical details of permanent failure:
PERM_FAILURE: Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 550 550 5.1.1 <toolmanager-support@alxnet.com>: Recipient address rejected: User unknown in virtual alias table (state 14).



Looks like I'm screwed. I'll need to find a new guestbook service, I guess, and some new quizzes and polls too - otherwise I'll have an unbalanced number of icons. Does anyone want to suggest a quiz/poll site that's reliable and not too obnoxious? Or some other cool feature that would work well on my RQ site?
bobquasit: (Default)
I'm working on the sheetless roleplaying article as a Google doc. It's nowhere near finished, but I thought you might find the work in progress interesting. I'm open to feedback, of course.

I haven't been using boldfacing or italics because I'm going to add those later on, when I convert it to a webpage.

Read more... )
bobquasit: (Default)
I don't know why I'm bothering to write this, but what the hell.

Since I'm scanning the remaining zines that I'm posting on my site, the text will obviously not be searchable or indexable by search engines. So to counteract that, I'm putting fairly detailed lists of contents on the main page - including the full names of everyone whose zine I commented on in that issue. It's my hope that if any of them do a vanity search for their own names, they'll stumble across my site and maybe get in touch with me.

I did a bit of Googling, and most of those old contributors seem to have kind of disappeared. Or aren't active online, anyway.
bobquasit: (Default)
My brain is basically broken right now.

I have lots that I should be doing; that article about sheetless roleplaying, for example.

I annotated and posted another zine on my site this morning, but I could do another one. I do have it scanned. But I just can't bring myself to do it.

Maybe I should take a walk and get some lunch. But I hear that it's unbearably hot outside, and the air quality is supposed to be positively lethal.

Random note: I found a ton of old zines and editorials and other material on my computer, including a one-shot Babylon 5 zine that I'd completely forgotten. Unfortunately they're all in Publish-It 4.0 format, and while I can open them and print out hardcopies, every time I try to print them to Acrobat format I get this:


I can print out hardcopies and scan them, but then the text won't be searchable or indexable...and it's a lot more work. Plus I can't edit the zines for typos.

*sigh*
bobquasit: (Default)
I just annotated and posted Rack & Rune #13 to my site. This includes a writeup of what was probably my most memorable Arisia; it includes the time that Lois and I ran backstage at the Masquerade to get our video announced. It also has a description of how we made the video itself, and the story of the gripe session at the end of Arisia '93 when a moderator tried to take the microphone away from Lois. :D
bobquasit: (Default)
I can't believe that I never got around to writing up an article on sheetless roleplaying for my RQ site. How could I have missed it?

At the last Arisia I talked about sheetless roleplaying at a panel or two, and people were really interested. As I recall, I even told some of them that I'd post something about it on my site. Damn.

I'd better start giving it some thought; I don't want to just dash it off. Let's see, what's a good title...how about "Sheetless Roleplaying: Gaming On the Next Level"?
bobquasit: (Default)
I've now scanned a second old zine, Rack & Rune #10, and have annotated both of them. Since the old layout of the zines page on my site was rather awkward, I took the opportunity to redesign it. Now I'll be able to add new (old) zines much more easily.

While I was at it, I re-read a few of the old zines. And I was struck by a slight but surprising insight: zines, and particularly APAzine, were the forerunners of blogs! Far more so than diaries. Diaries were, after all, solitary. No one ever seriously kept a personal diary without some expectation of privacy. On the other hand, APAs had both the personal quality that would be a hallmark of blogs and a social aspect which is key to blogging. So in an odd way, even though APAs are gone, they live on - in places like LiveJournal.

How odd!

Update: Whoops! I neglected to upload the annotated zines to my site. So until tomorrow the non-annotated versions will be there instead.
bobquasit: (Default)
Woohoo! We spent $55.90 and bought a combo printer/scanner at BJ's. It's an Epson, and it scans surprisingly well. I used it to turn an old zine of mine into a PDF in remarkably short order.

I wish it had been able to use OCR, but that didn't seem to be an option. I'll just have to make sure that the link description is fairly detailed when I add it to my RuneQuest site.

Anyway, here's a quick link to the zine. It was first published in July 1992.

Rack & Rune #9: Remember SPI!

Contents:
  • "From the Closed Shelves", including reviews of Lord Dunsany, The God Box by Barry Longyear, Superstoe by William Borden, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Kim by Rudyard Kipling

  • "Random RuneQuest"

  • Review: Sun County (RQ scenario pack)

  • A critique of TSR

  • Computer Problems

  • Comments (Collier, Swanson, Blacow, Derryberry, Erlandsen, Jorenby, Keller, Phillies, Plamondon, Butler)


I'm going to be able to start adding ALL of the missing zines now. *glee*

I'll need to redesign the zine page a little first, though. And I'll also have to do some work on them; the scan quality is excellent, but I want to add modern-perspective notes to them, just as I did for the zines I put up earlier.
bobquasit: (Me)
I haven't talked about this much before, but I've set up websites for a couple of my father's friends. They're relatively basic sites, of course; nothing too fancy. But I've put in some time on them, revising and updating. So just in case anyone's curious:

The Gamma Institute - I'll be honest. I don't entirely understand what this is about. Maybe someone can explain it to me.

Armenian Art Gallery - A site for an Armenian artist now living in France. I've just completed work on a considerably updated and expanded version; he hasn't approved it yet, but the test version can be found here.
bobquasit: (Default)
If anyone out there feels that my RQ site is worth it, a vote of "5" would be kind of nice here: http://www.rpggateway.com/cgi-bin/wyrm/rate.cgi?ID=3611
bobquasit: (Default)
TWENTY-EIGHT spams yesterday alone in a defunct guestbook for Pete's RQ!

So I deleted it.
bobquasit: (Default)
The spammers have been relentlessly attacking the RuneQuest Wiki on my site. Non-stop. Day after day. Sometimes they deleted the legitimate entries, sometimes they just spewed their crap above or below the real entry.

Some of them wrote "if this bothers you just delete" and then instantly re-posted their shit when I deleted it. Others posted "Im Sorry" above their drug-and-sex site links for no sane reason. One threatened to delete my whole site.

So screw it. I backed everything up a while ago, and I've killed the wiki. I'll find a decent, secure alternative and use that from now on. It'll be up on the site ASAP.
bobquasit: (Default)
I posted this over in the Fuitadnet general support forum, but for no sane reason I've decided to post it here as well. The poll doesn't work, of course, but if anyone actually feels like voting, feel free to do so in comments.
Thank you for your inquiry. Please wait for a site operator to respond. You are number 1 out of 1 customer(s) ahead of you.
You are now chatting with 'Manish'

Manish: Hello
Peter Maranci: Hi. I'm checking on the status of ticket #HNT-48024-770. No account on my domain has been able to receive email for the past 24 hours.
Manish: How can i help you ?
Peter Maranci: Has there been any progress on this ticket? I cannot receive email, and I cannot open the support ticket page, so I have no other way of knowing what's going on.
Peter Maranci: I have finally received a bounce message, if that would help.
Manish: i check the ticket
Manish: we are working on that problem
Manish: when we will fix the problem we will update you via ticket
Peter Maranci: But I can't view tickets!
Manish: we are making some updates to ticket system , that's the reason you are facing problem with ticketing system
Peter Maranci: Is there any ETR? For the ticket system OR the email problem?
Manish: not sure
Peter Maranci: That's it then? Just wait?
Manish: sir as senior techs are working on that problem,that's the reason i am unable to tell you ETA
Peter Maranci: Not much I can do about that, then. Goodbye.
Manish: Bye sir

Poll
Should I have been:
A. Ruder?
B. More polite?
C. Funnier?
D. More stubborn?
E. Speaking Armenian?
F. Masturbating?
G: Other?

bobquasit: (Default)
Five days ago, SpamAssassin suddenly stopped working on my domain.

For those who don't know, SpamAssassin blocks spam at the server. That means that I don't have to download whatever it blocks.

POPfile, my local program, blocks spam too - from the remaining emails, all of which must be downloaded first.

I get about 5,400 spams per day - no, that's not a typo - and SpamAssassin has been blocking about 5,350 or more. It's probably blocking good email once in a while, but how could I search tens of thousands of spam in order to find one or two good ones?

I can't.

Anyway, SpamAssassin went down, mysteriously, for the second time in two months. The first time my host, Fuitadnet, was able to fix the problem in a day or two. No so this time.

INTERMISSION

Some quick math:

5,400 spams per day =
37,800 spams per week =
167,400 spams per month.

And of course it comes to just over two MILLION spams per year, but the rate will no doubt increase before the end of the year, throwing off all of my calculations.

Even with a broadband connection, it takes an hour or more to check my email. And by the time I'm done, anther two or three hundred are racked up on the server.
END INTERMISSION

Fuitadnet has been having problems. They announced some major new improvements in customer support. I was also told that their main tech was out sick, and would be back on Monday to fix everything.

At 7:30am Monday morning, the spam stopped.

All email stopped.

Everything, not just the spam.

You won't even get a bounce or fail message. Emails sent to me will softly and silently vanish away. And I don't know if those lost emails will ever come back.

I tried to open a support ticket with Fuitadnet, but ironically, their support page is also down. I eventually reached a tech in LiveChat, who assured me that a ticket had been opened and they were working on it. I was given the ticket number #HNT-48024-770.

If you must reach me in the meantime, write to pmaranci at yahoo dot com.

When I get the chance, I'll write about my Saturday with Sebastian. We went to the Children's Museum in Boston and had lots of fun.

And now, to bed.

Ironic

Oct. 28th, 2004 09:39 am
bobquasit: (Default)
A couple of days ago I wrote about Alxnet screwing me. Yesterday I spent some time changing my site around to use on-site tools instead of the Alxnet ones.

So I suppose it was inevitable that I received an email last night from Alxnet. The problem is fixed. So now I have to figure out what to do.

The spam problem has been getting worse and worse on Alxnet, so I'm thinking I might leave everything that has been moved, moved. I can keep the polls and quizzes, and leave the old books as archives. We'll see.

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