Call it a going away present


Back up in your ass with the resurrection.

Back when things really started to look bleak for Toshiba and HD-DVD I said I had always been rooting for them, but I really didn’t care who won as long as there was a clear winner and we could stop all this foolishness. Well, finally the troops are pulling out and coming home. The war is officially over.

I’m still not ready to buy a Blu-Ray player. Let’s pretend this format war never happened and consider this to be the day High Definition optical media is first released. Essentially it is, because the war stifled the format adoption, market growth, title availability, etc for the last 2 years. We would probably be looking at sub $300 Blu-Ray players and $15-17 Discs by now if not for the unforgivable stupidity of the movie and technology industries. Instead we are looking at the PS3 being the only Blu-Ray player worth buying (t’s firmware upgradable and has the online connectivity that most other current players do not offer) and $25-30 for new titles at big box retailers.

The price drops we saw from the HD-DVD camp around November and December of 2007 were false so they don’t count. By that I mean they were slashing retail prices for players WAY below the cost to produce them in the hopes early adopters would flock in and secure their position as the de facto HiDef disc. Instead of a viable consumer install base they now have about a half a million angry Wal-Mart customers that want to beat them to death with their shiny, obsolete “Ayche-Dee-DeeBeeDee” boxes.

Josh said, “I don’t care! I want to watch beautiful moving pictures on my new giant HD-TV!” and bought a decent sized library of HD-DVD’s. He contends that the are still playable, no matter who won. I contend that his choice was bad and he should feel bad. Those of you in the same predicament may want to consider converting your HD-DVD collection to Blu-Ray. All you need is a bunch of money, nearly unlimited time, and a master’s degree in computer science. You could also just pretend it was a fancy DVD player and play like it never happened.

I can’t think too hard about the contestants and the outcome, because Blu-Ray winning makes no fucking sense. HD-DVD was cheaper to produce, cheaper to buy, higher capacity (at first), region free, more interactive right out of the gate, and posessed the foresight to give their product a LOGICAL name people could understand. If we are looking for a replacement for sandwiches and the contenders are “Sandwich-2” and “Purple Explosion Ninja” I am certainly going to be curious about the PEN format but I’m also not going to immediately recognize it as something tasty and nutritious for my lunch time enjoyment.

The thing that really bugs the shit out of me is the fact that Sony actually won a format war. God damnit.

Bluehost.com: I invite you to eat a dick

The story of how Bluehost.com fired me for getting Dugg.

When I started this site in May of 2007 I did quite a lot of research as to the technology I should employ and the companies I should trust. I read countless reviews of publishing solutions and hosting companies. Settling on WordPress with ComicPress, I only needed a place to pitch my proverbial tent.

Bluehost.com was well reviewed and even listed in several places as being a Digg-stable or Digg-proof (this is important later in the story). I signed up with them, prepaid a year and Hijinks Ensue was born.

Lesson 1: Hosting for $10 a month is cheap. How often does “cheap” have a positive connotation?

Right off the bat the problems started. 30 min to an hour a day the site was down. This wasn’t much of a problem when I had 50 readers, but it was certainly annoying. Every time I called tech support I was introduced to a new kind of stupid. Well, less “stupid” and more “I can’t wait to get off work so I can masturbate into a Red Bull can, eat a ham and pass out on the couch to Family Matters reruns.”

I’d say, “My site is down, again.”
He’d reply, “Really? Did you look at the error logs? What did they say?”
“No Morpheus, I don’t read Matrix. Take your typing finger out of your asshole and look them up yourself.”
“Yeah, your site’s down. There must be a problem.”

And so on and so forth until my head would literally pull a “Scanners” and my wife would have to clean up the mess and get me a new head.

One time a Bluehost rep told me I was on a “messed up” box that always had a lot of problems. I told him to move me off of it and he refused. There was some sort of moratorium on moving people away from Box 269. “Why?” I asked.

“Cuz everyone that’s on it wants to move cuz it’s always messed up and stuff.”
More solid an argument I have never heard.

Fast forward to the first time one of my comics got a front page Digg. 100,000 people trying to ping a shitty server all at once is a lot like 6 rhinos trying to fuck the same watermelon. In this analogy my server was not one of the rhinos.

This time I saw it coming and called Bluehost support as soon as the site went down. Let me use my “I shit you not” voice when I say this. The tech guy told me I should upgrade to a dedicated box. I asked how much that was, and he said they didn’t offer them. I asked why and he replied (here’s the part where I’m not shitting you in the least), “Our three owners are making so much money, they really don’t care if you need a better server.”

Then the douche-taster asks me how to get on Digg because it sounded like something he would like to do. I assume he hosted elsewhere.

After my next front page Digg had me down for almost a day, I paid to move to a “High CPU” box. The moment they “upgraded” me my IMAP email accounts went shitballs, spitting out errors left and right. I sent in a trouble ticket (knowing good and well that most of my previous TT’s went completely unanswered). They responded to the ticket 3 weeks later saying they couldn’t replicate the problem. Think about that for a second. Let it stew. That’s like me bleeding to death in my garage, my arm severed by a chain saw, and 911 refusing to respond. Instead they send my loved ones a letter a month later saying they couldn’t replicate the problem.

So Valentine’s Day 2008 rolls around and I prepare a token of my love to my readers in the form of a special Valentine’s card. Come about 10 pm it hits the front page of Digg (sensing a pattern?). The site screeches to a halt and bursts into flames. I expect to go through the same BS to get my site turned back on, but this time the bullshit is new. Not only do they refuse to turn my site back on, but they try to convince me it’s impossible to do so even if they wanted to. As if they had cast cement shoes around my site and sunk it to the bottom of the ocean. Hey, insult! Here comes injury!

“We’ve left FTP access active so you can get your files and move them to a different server.”
“You’re firing me?!”
“Did I stutter, mother fucker? Get your shit and get the fuck off our box!”

At least that’s how I remember it.

I screamed at that guy so loud, I think he peed. In the end, his manager agreed to a 48 hour stay of execution while I found a new home. The site is now safe and sound (?) at Media Temple. DNS is still resolving for various parts of the world, but it should clear up in a day or so.

So tell me, what are your hosting horror stories?


UPDATE 2/19/08
Cheese it! They know!

UPDATE 2/21/08
UnCheese It! They know nothing! And what they don’t know, they make up! And by THEY I mean THIS ONE DUDE! Several readers pointed out that Weasy had amended his statement about my dealings with Bluehost.I sent him this email:

Hey, Weasy. Have all the opinions you want, but one thing I don’t appreciate is lying. You show me one “illegal material” on www.hijinksensue.com and I will remove it. How you can misconstrue getting Dugg as “abusing bandwidth” is beyond me. Somehow that implies malicious intent and, as I’m sure you know, getting a first page Digg is a passive act. I have no control over whether it happens or not. I think you just gave me some insight into why I was getting the caliber of service from Bluehost that I was.

Here’s the whole thread as of this posting. I wonder if someone at Bluehost lied to this dude, or if he is making this up as he goes along.

Again, STAY THE EVERLOVING ‘EFF AWAY FROM BLUEHOST!

S.W.A.T. (Swedish Weapons and Torrents)

When you think pirates these days, you conjure images of flamboyantly foppish fellows, beards beaded and doo-ragged domes. I comment today not on those sea fairing swashbuckling skalewags, but rather the dastardly digital do-bads downloading documents, data, dance music and DVD dupes.

I just dropped some alliteration science on your asses. Brain mouth words tired have now.

…rebooting…

The Jolly Roger waivers at the Pirate Bay are in some hot meatball sauce with the Swedish Government. Sweden, often known as the land of lawlessness and cheap, ready-to-assemble furniture has finally decided that creating an online portal for the sole purpose of allowing users to take and use software and media they haven’t paid for is somehow morally ambiguous. Possibly illegal!

The eyepatchers and pegleggers claim:

  1. They aren’t making the gigantic stacks of cash (what do the Swedish use for currency? Carp? Slacks? Children? Tufts of hair?) and
  2. They can never be stopped for their reach extends beyond the four corners of the (round) earth and into the very internets we breath.

I’m not passing judgement on what’s right or wrong, just what is legal. File sharing copyrighted material (even making a mix tape) is illegal. Fair use be damned. The law is clear. These are not laws I agree with, but they are real and carry serious consequences when ignored.

If they really have scattered their servers world wide, I certainly wouldn’t suggest that the Swedes or the RIAA or the MPAA or the producers of “Ugly Betty” and “Grey’s Anatomy” check Josh’s file server. There’s no reason he should be on their radar. He doesn’t have season after season of high quality HD-rips of every show imaginable. He just doesn’t.

Part 2 of this comic will deal with the aftermath of the raid and Josh’s inevitable prosecution and incarceration. What’s with all the continuity lately?

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P.S.

Sorry for missing Monday’s comic, but it was important that I get the podcast edited, uploaded, etc so you guys could enjoy it. Thanks for all the support and feedback regarding the Podcast. We have fun doing the show and plan to record episode 2 this Saturday. The process of editing and uploading should go MUCH faster this time. Don’t forget to email questions to podcast(at)hijinksensue(dot)com.

The Macbook Air is pretty and dumb


I was listening to the Webcomics Weekly Podcast and Scott Kurtz mentioned that he read a review of the Macbook Air where the reviewer described it as a “great fourth computer for a really rich person.” That pretty much sums up how I feel about the device. It’s a beautiful piece of technology, to be sure, but for all intents and purposes it’s basically useless. I’m not hating. This is not hatred you’re reading. It’s really just…meh. Once the “OMFG it’s thin and pretty!” wares off, there’s no real substance. Kind of like [insert hollywood rehab starlet du jour].

It’s a crippled (or crappled) Macbook. 1 USB port, No Firewire, no Mic/Line in, no Express Card slot, no upgradable memory, mono sound (speaker under the keyboard keys), and no optical drive. “It does’t need an optical drive,” you may say. “Why?” I would counter. “Because Steve said it doesn’t,” you point out. “Oh right,” I mumble. Then I back into a corner and weep. I love how Steve can do that. Just make something reality because he wills it so. “Optical drives are for assholes and pedophiles. You don’t need one. Hell, you don’t even want one.” Suddenly millions of Macboys rip their DVD drives and CD burners from their computer chassis like they were malignant and gangrenous.

I think I like it better if I imagine the Air, not as the world’s thinest laptop, but instead as the world’s biggest PDA, or most expensive, internet browsing cheese slicer. ZDNet says the Macbook Air is perfect for people who get $300 hair cuts… but they say that in a GOOD way. Like, “If you don’t get why this product is perfect, go shove your $40 hair cut up your ass!” TUAW gives a fair assessment stating that the Air is a second computer only and not a replacement for your main machine. I wouldnt consider it a replacement for my…shit, I already used cheese slicer…ok, something else thin and shiny. The only reason I would purchase one would be to put it in the AirMail sleeve and…shaving razor! I should have compared it to a… no, wait. I used that in the comic.

The best thing to come from the Air’s release so far is this post from Fake Steve Jobs.

It’s a no-compromise laptop that has the fastest processor ever invented, the most RAM available on any computer in the world, the best keyboard, the best screen, and the longest battery life of any laptop ever made, plus it’s thinner and lighter than any computer ever created in all of history.

Maybe I’m wrong about the Air. Tell you what. Purchase one and mail it to me with the receipt and I will give it an honest review. While you’re at it, throw in an iPhone. Mine has lost that “new iPhone” smell.

Macworld San Francisco 2008: The Omega Directive


That man simply can do no wrong. Even if he set events in motion that caused my blood to boil, rendering the surface of my skin into thirsty, crackling blisters and prompting me to claw it away in desperate madness hoping to somehow cease the burning that has both blinded me stricken me mute from screaming until my vocal chords swelled and burst and… you get the idea. I likes me some Steve. To borrow a phrase from Dave Chappelle, “Steve Jobs could fart in my dinner.”

The point I really want to illustrate is that regardless of what offering he bestows upon us, his humble flock, we will feast upon it with mouthes agape and unparalleled enthusiasm (and saliva). He could encase a turd in brushed aluminum and we would still buy it (as long as you could get the iTurd laser etched). It would require a proprietary video format, and headphones with an uncommonly small jack, but we would laud his genious while proclaiming on message boards that his iTurds don’t stink.

I’ve already ventured my guesses as to what Tuesday will bring, but as the day grows closer rumors are flooding the tubes at an exponential rate. TUAW seems to mostly agree with my conservative predictions. MacRumors.com believes those ominous banners fortale the “Macbook Air.” To get the real scoop I suggest you sit tight until Tuesday and come keynote time you head over to Engadget’s live coverage and furiously click your F5 key for an hour or so. I also recommend reading Steve’s liveblog from right up on the keynote stage. Finally, you can also help Steve prepare for the Stevenote by making sure he doesn’t forget anything and gets to the stage on time.

No matter what revelations descend from on high Tuesday, I am comfortable (almost snuggly warm) in the knowledge that two of my most prized possessions (my Macbook Pro, and iPhone) will most likely be wrought old and busted as Steve drops the new hotness on us. Then I get to play the “should I upgrade game.” Correction. Then, Josh will buy the new iShits immediately, and I will feel guilty for being jealous. Double correction. Josh will buy a plane ticket to Cupertino, locate Steve Jobs and “make it rain” (his preferred method of payment) in Job’s lap until he forks over his own personal iPhone. Then Josh will probably forget it on the plane on the way back and buy six more at the Dallas airport. This is simply the fashion in which he rolls. I am accustomed to it. It’s like being friends with a short, gay, bald-headed Kanye West.

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Just as an aside, I’ve been greatly enjoying all the discourse taking place in the comments on this site. I really appreciate each and every one of you that read this site and enjoy my silly comics. The community that is building around this site is both unexpected and fantastic. Whether or not I get to continue making comics long term relies squarely on this site’s ability to grow its readership. So if you’ve enjoyed the comics and posts, please email and friend, submit it to BoingBoing/Engadget/Gizmodo/Wired/TUAW, Stumble it, Digg it, Reddit it, post a link on your site or paint the characters on your naughty bits and stand in the middle of a busy street screaming, “FANCY PANCAKE BIRTHDAY TIME!” People will notice.

Thank you all,

Joel