Category Archives: Web Business

Construction Notice, and a Warning

Wow, it’s been ten months since I did something other than post a book review on these virtual pages.

I know this because I’ve been going through deleting them.

See, I’ve been thinking about firing up the blogging muscles again, just because they’ve been neglected.  And in looking the old place over, I saw that it needed a coat of paint and some spackling over the holes in the drywall.  And there are boxes of stuff that haven’t been touched in ages that need taken out to the trash.

The book reviews are one of those things, little things that were threatening to take over.  Now if you were a fan of those, don’t worry.  There’s now a link in the right column showing the last few books I’ve read, and there’s also a link to my Goodreads author page on the list o’ self-aggrandizing links.  So they haven’t been eliminated, just relocated… although for a long time the appearance of the reviews here has been a duplication of what I’d put first into Goodreads.

JCF poses with a cannon at Trinity Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia

For example, you had to go to my Wikipedia page entry to see this image and suss out that I had been to Russia in 2012. But really, this cannon could have been sitting in front of any old cathedral, right?

So yes, I’m cleaning up a bit and that will include catching you up on what I’ve been up to (for example, I’m 11 chapters into a new novel that hasn’t even been mentioned here; all my SF novels are now available for listening on Audible.com, which I never mentioned after the fact; and shame on me for not doing a long obituary post for Elmore Leonard, a great writer and American treasure who passed away not too long ago… and I have had some interesting changes to my personal life, but meh…).

So now the warning part: As I was tracking down and zapping the book reviews here, I stumbled on something perfectly annoying – I had somehow missed tagging and categorizing 145 of these posts when I converted the site from Blogger to WordPress.  So I need to go though and do that, preferably soon.  The bad news is that if you have subscribed to this site through e-mail or RSS, this means that the system, which is inherently stupid, will notify you every time I hit the Update button.  So once you start getting notices that make it look like I’ve suddenly become prolific, that’s not the case.  Unless someone at WP had improved the notification algorithm.  I’m letting you know now because I don’t want to be a pain, but this updating is something I really need to do. You have been warned.

So, that’s it for now. More fun and frolic to follow, I think.

2012 in Review

Everybody else is doing it – why not me? The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog and sent it to me with the option of making it public. So I might as well. I suspect this will be the easiest blog entry I will ever have to make.

PS: Happy 2013!

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 11 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thank You

Yesterday morning I posted a bit of one-off humor. Nothing unusual. I’d done it before without much response.

But some of the powers that be at WordPress.com somehow saw it and were apparently amused enough to put it into yesterday’s Freshly Pressed queue… and I wasn’t quite ready for what came next. Thousands of folks came in to see what a guy had to say about chick flicks. Many left great comments. Others lniked to the page or favorited it or passed it on to someone else in an email. The end result was 2,484 page visitors, 3,565 site hits – and all of you combined placed the page on the WordPress Top 100 Blogs of the Day (check out that familiar lookin’ #70).

You did this!

So I want to thank you all for stopping by to check out my meager attempt at humor. Everyone who read, commented, forwarded, recommended and looked at the page made it an unforgettable day, and I want to thank you all for being a part of it. And thanks to whoever it was at WordPress that pulled my post out of anonymity.

Also, thanks especially to my friend whose sidebar about chick flicks on this blog provided me with the fodder for my little excursion into lunacy.

Tomorrow, back to blogging as normal. If you can call it normal.

Welcome to the Latest New Me, or, The War is Over and I Won

Welcome to the latest iteration of joecliffordfaust.com. All the woes chronicled in the previous post are in the past, and I’m now free to get on with my life.

The new look to this site is a landmark. It’s the first time since 1998 that I haven’t designed the site myself. After several versions, I got decent at HTML, but my design skills never improved. I did learn CSS, but my ability to wield it and my general design ideas were definitely stuck in Web 1.0.

So what does this new site bring to the table. First, categories, which I always wanted but could never get to implement on my custom FTP version. Tags came as part of this, too, and I decided to use those, even though I’m hard pressed to see the difference between the two.

Second, the content here has been incorporated. I’ve run a number of different blogs since 2002: this one, the previous version, which I unplugged at entry 1000, a blog about raising chickens, a blog about which books I’d read, and a blog featuring my web comic, The Home World. Most of this is now under this one title. The current blog was totally imported. The old Word Foundry blog was selectively imported – that is, I left out all the personal stuff and the entries with broken links (hopefully) and kept all the good stuff I’d written about writing (along with the good stuff that wasn’t about writing, like my entry about Dr. Seuss’ moss-covered left-handed family credenza, which was my top drawing page as of yesterday). All my book reviews are here, as are the Home World strips. The chicken blog didn’t make the trip, but it was about time for that one to be put into the cupboard for a while.

What’s not here – for the moment – is all the non-blog stuff that was on my web site as well – the pages about my novels and other odd features that you’ve come to love and be annoyed by. I’m slowly building them into the site – I’ve got some of the Novel pages up, and markers for everything else. I’d wanted to have it all ready to go when the time came for the conversion, but I found out about Blogger’s service cutoff late in the game, and then a good part of my recent blog fix time was spent in getting permission to migrate my own site (see previous post for that story).

But for the most part, I survived. And most of the old site will survive, too, in a cleaner interface that is also easy for me to maintain. Yay, WordPress!

In the meantime, I’m going to let the dust clear and then get on with what I was supposed to be doing when this migration business reared its ugly head.

Are You Master of Your Domain Name? Are You Sure?

So there you are, sitting and doing your thing with your very own domain name.  Fudge-for-the-masses.org, i-heart-dirt.com, it doesn’t matter.  It’s yours, all yours.  And as you sit back getting ready to write your latest post, it is with smug self-assurance because you paid the powers-that-be at an Internet Domain Name Registrar, and all you have to do is periodically send them money to re-up and all is smooth sailing.

Yeah.  Right.  That was me.  Yesterday.

Today I’m a totally different me.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I happened to notice that Blogger was no longer going to support custom FTP URL’s at the start of this month, of which mine happened to be one.  Well, no problem, I thought.  I’d been wanting to redesign my website for a while.  I’d been looking at WordPress.com, and I was planning to go with a template, because while I know HTML and some CSS, I am far from what you would call a graphic designer.

I got my files together and imported enough of them that the new site would make a decent showing, with the plan of adding the missing pages as time went on.  Then I found my account number with the company I did my registration through and gave them a call, expecting a walk in the park.

More fool me.

Apparently my beloved Domain Name, which I originated and paid my own money for back in 1998, and for which I did an extended renewal in 2006, does not appear to be mine.  The Primary Contact is a construction company in the Carolinas, and the Account Technical Contact is some guy who is most definitely not me.  In answer to my “What gives?”, I was told by the rep, “Sometimes this happens.  The records get scrambled.”

Curiosity piqued, I asked another question.  “Is this a common occurrence?”

The answer, which came sotto voce: “It’s a lot more common than we like to admit.  The records are not in the good order that everyone thinks they are in.”

So now I’m in a mad dash to prove that I’m me so I can get my domain name back.  I’ve got to take care to make a just-so photocopy of my driver’s license so it faxes with no problem, and I’m scrambling to get a copy of a utility bill or insurance or credit card invoice because I need to prove “the business” (being Joe Clifford Faust) is mine – something easier said than done since I pay everything on the Internet now and have pretty much gone paperless.  But I will prevail.

Meantime, if you’re still sitting comfortably with your Domain Name, you might want to check and see if you have your driver’s license and a utility bill handy, and then dial up a course for the company who sold it to you.

Because things out in interwebland ain’t all they’re supposed to be.

Interruption of Service Alert

Things are going to be a mess here for a while.

I just found out near the end of last week that Blogger is going to discontinue support of sites using FTP to custom templates.

Guess what this site is.

According to Blogger, they’ve had this up for months, but it kind of reminds me of the notice given to the hapless humans at the beginning of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Anyway, I am now in the middle of working on trying to migrate this site elsewhere – namely WordPress.com.

The problem is, I have a lot of stuff to move and just a short time to do it in.  And even after I get stuff transferred over, it’s going to be a mess for a bit while I get it organized.  I had been wanting to have it all completely done before putting it up, but it’s not going to happen that way, what with the Saturday deadline (May 1).

So I hate to say it, but “Pardon our dust while we quickly pull up stakes and move somewhere else.”  I hate to do it, especially since I’ve been with Blogger since beginning to blog in September of 2002.  But of late I have been looking at WordPress with lust in my heart.

And the good news is – remember all those posts I’ve referred to, some 1,000 of them which covered the writing of and/news?  They’ll be coming back.  But not all of them.  I figure about half of them were about other things, but all the good stuff about writing will be back.  All my book reviews will now be in the same place, and I’ve also rolled all of my comic strips from The Home World into the new blog as well (yeah, you could say it’s The Home World’s new home world – but I wouldn’t).  Sometime this fall I might even restart the strip where it left off – we’ll see.

It’ll be nice to have everything under one roof, I think.  But it’s not going to be pleasant getting there.  So please bear with me, if you would.

Version 10.0, I Think, or,Welcome to The Home World, or,Free at Last from The Tyranny of the Pen

This is the tenth design of my web site. Appropriate – I seem to change it on average of once a year, although some designs have lasted longer than others. This also means Happy Anniversary to me, I suppose, since the site originally went live in May of 1998, but I missed that one due to various and sundry reasons. Oh, well.

This redesign does three things. It brings a cleaner look to the site, and it finally adds a long-awaited page that takes a look at how an idea evolves inside of a writer’s head over a period of… decades. It is introduced by one of the most personal essays I’ve ever written about the creative process.

Third, it also establishes a family look between this site, and one launching today in support of my other new project, The Home World.

And just what is The Home World?

Well, at risk of disappointing just about everybody out there, it is my new Web Comic. That’s right, it’s a comic strip, just like the ones found in the back pages of your local newspaper. Only not shrunk down into illegibility. And it only comes out once a week, on Wednesdays.

So why a Web Comic, and why now?

I don’t know. That’s the honest answer. Some things have popped up over the years that have slowly been pointing me to try drawing again, even though I officially gave up on it in the eighties. There was tinkering around with the writing aspect to create Lewis and Clark, which I did on a cut-and-paste internet application called Strip Creator. There was finding this particular bit of oddness in my files a while back ago. There was getting in touch with a couple of old friends from my high school days who wanted to know if I was still drawing. And I think there was also the prospect of creating something new and different just for the sheer joy of creating something, with no expectations of money or fame – or even recognition or increased web site traffic. Call it art for art’s sake.

There was also the aspect of having a Secret Writing Project. I haven’t told anybody about this – and I do mean nobody – not my wife, not my colleague with the Comic Book in the running for winning a contest, not even my old high school friends who wondered if I was still drawing (well, I did slip and say something about it to my daughter, but she was busy with coming back from Russia and starting college, so I think she has safely forgotten it). It was kind of fun having a secret in the basement like that (that wouldn’t merit an investigation by the FBI).

Still another factor was developing a process for creating the drawings that circumvented my inability to draw. I do have, as you may have seen in some samples, an odd cartoony style, but I never had any training outside of the one-size-fits-all art classes you get in school, so I never did perspective studies or still life sketches or any of that. The folks that produced the best looking comic strips, like Al Capp and Bill Watterson, were real artists to start with. I’m not. And I’m further hobbled by the fact that, every time I pick up a pencil to draw, my brain goes into this default mode and produces the same stupid looking things. I just can’t seem to control it.

Then I found some cool software called EazyDraw, and it made all the difference to me. Admittedly, the “artwork” I’m producing still looks like my style of drawing to a point, but there are several key advantages. First, I can now produce consistent looking characters. Second, by manipulating shapes into images with a mouse instead of trying to create an image from the tip of a pencil, I have made an end run around what I have for years called “the tyranny of the pen” – my term for not being able to draw outside of preconceived patterns once I get a pen in my hand. It’s like my brain doesn’t know how to lock those patterns in when I’m using a mouse, and before it figures out what I’m up to, I’ve created a drawing.

While my computer generated pictures aren’t all that great, I may get better at making them – but if I don’t, I can take heart at the one classic rule of the comic strip, namely: “Good writing can make up for bad artwork, but good artwork can never make up for bad writing.” And the writing, yeah. I think I have that part down. Hey, if Scott Adams can make a living off of Dilbert, then I’ve got every right to try this little experiment.

As for what The Home World is about, well, you’ll just have to check it out for yourself if you’re interested. I don’t know how long I’ll keep it up, even at the snail’s pace of once a week. At this writing, I am 12 weeks ahead – which means I have strips drawn up through mid November – and I have the strip plotted through the end of this year (when I researched web comics, I noticed that too many creators work on a day-to-day basis and frequently miss their own deadlines – I told myself I was going to treat this like a real comic strip and work ahead). I have no expectations of this doing well, or of generating any kind of audience, or bringing in any kind of financial reward. It may last no longer than my 100 Word Short Story series. Or it may bop ’till I drop. We’ll just have to see.

Meantime, welcome to the new version of the site.

And welcome to The Home World.