General

eBay: Donkey Show

I registered for eBay in September, 1998. I do not buy on eBay often, but … damn, I’ve had that account for nearly 10 years.

So last week I decided I wanted to sell something for the first time.

I wrote up a blurb, took some pictures, went through the web forms and bam! an error! Some sort of generic error after I tried to do the phone authentication thing. I waited a half hour, tried again .. same thing. Waited until the next day, same thing.

Then I tried to use eBay’s “live chat” to get a solution, and got two solutions, one of which didn’t work, and the other was “make a new account.”

So I emailed tech support. They told me that I could use the same first solution that didn’t work, and a second solution — which also didn’t work — of recreating the auction from scratch. They also misidentified the problem [I was not getting a “page not responding” error; I was getting an error from the web app, not the web server.

[You will note that I am using the term “solution” in a loose manner.]

So I went back to the tech support email form, pasted in my original email, the original set of solutions, and a note that neither of the two worked.

Guess what I received?

A form letter listing the same two non-working solutions! 100% identical except for the name signed to it!

So today I gave in and created a new account, and it worked peachy keen, and if you’d like to buy the rare-ish Classic BattleTech book FedCom Civil War, you can checkity the link below. I’ll be listing some other gaming stuff that I’ve had sitting around my office, but maybe not until after Gen Con. We’ll see how things go.

My eBay Auctions

PS: If you work for eBay, and if you have a smidge of care for me and/or my work in the gaming industry, you know how to reach me. I’d love for my original eBay account — adamjury, not adamjury2008 — be properly set up for selling.

Uploading Files over the Web Sucks

Unless your web service processes the file after it’s uploaded and gives the uploader instant and useful feedback on whether that file is valid or not [like companies such as PsPrint do, or like most “Web 2.0” services do], please, for the love of all that is nice and easy, allow your customers to upload files via FTP. It’s simple, it allows the uploader to use whatever tool they’re familiar with, and it allows the user to verify that the file uploaded properly.

Furthermore, it’s not at the mercy of whatever post-processing script you use to deal with the file afterwards: if that script munges the uploader’s file in some way, the file is already uploaded and since your script does its work on a copy of that file [right? right?!] when the script gracefully [right? right?!] fails and alerts one of your staffers that there’s an issue, the uploader doesn’t have to care because he’s already off doing some other piece of work [or perhaps even sleeping!] knowing full well that the service will take good care of his files, instead of sitting by the web browser trying to figure out if the badly-documented error is his fault [“Maybe the filename shouldn’t have underscores?”, he asks] or the fault of the service provider [“Perhaps their hard drive is full!”]

Transcontinental, one of the largest printers in North America, simply allows users to upload their files by FTP, and if they need to send you a file back that’s too large for email, they just put it on the FTP site for you to download. Simple, readily accessible, no bullshit–now that’s professional.

New Art Book from Charm School == yummy!

book_ad.jpg

I pre-ordered my copy of Krysztof Nemeth’s upcoming second book of pin-up art over the weekend. Krysztof is an awesome guy and his art is sassy and sexy. He has a nice deal going where if you order both books, you’ll get them for a total price of $50, or $10 off buying each title individually.

I’ve seen most [if not all] of the art that’s going into this book, and it’s great stuff. Having a copy on my shelf so I can flick through it whenever I like or hand it over to friends is much better than browsing it online, though; so come May, I’ll be camped by my mailbox waiting for it.

[Hmm, I suspect my blog template won’t like an image taller than the post itself, so I might just ramble on here a little bit. Future blog topics will include my review of Apple’s Time Capsule, perhaps some talking about customer service in the hobby game industry, some stuff from my upcoming trip to Seattle, and hey, after the GAMA Trade Show in April, I’ll be able to talk about Catalyst Game Labs’ new games!]

Status Update … what the hell is Adam doing?

I have been really busy lately; I like keeping busy, but the last month or so has been hectic and stressful, and there’s a lot of stuff going on but it doesn’t feel like anything is getting finished — even though I have two brand new books [Shadowrun’s Arsenal and Classic BattleTech’s Technical Readout: 3039], released in March, sitting on the floor by my desk.

In good news, I have a new [to us] designer working on some projects now, and he’s churning out great stuff already.

I’m looking forward to the GAMA Trade Show, in April, when we’ll be announcing some new games, including the one that Rob Boyle has been developing for the last couple of years, and a card game that I designed. I’ll be taking some time to hang out with a bunch of the Catalyst Game Labs’ gang in Seattle after GTS, and maybe I’ll even see some sights.

This week I ordered a Time Capsule, and I’m expecting it early next. Just the 500GB model, but I needed a new router badly, and I found that I didn’t really use Time Machine as often as I should, as I don’t like having my laptop tethered to an external drive.

Holidays!

Well, it’s that time of year, which means I spent two whole days without working on anything — aside from a brief mid-afternoon discussion on Christmas afternoon about playtesting something we’re working on at Catalyst Game Labs. I’ve been pretty busy for all of December [and, really, since Catalyst became a go!] and so it was nice to sit down and relax and spend some quality time with family.

I’m back at it now; working on final corrections on several books that are going off to press early in January, and starting on a book that should … should … also go to press in early January. I do like making miracles. And I’ll need to, because I have an actual vacation booked in January. It’s enough of a vacation that I’m contemplating *not* taking the laptop, and I sure as hell aren’t going to spend the hours before leaving copying work files over to it, even if I do take it.

This has been a hell of an interesting year. I hope to find some time over the next week to write a bit of a year-in-review post. Whether you’re a friend of mine, someone who stumbled onto this site via a web search, a Shadowrun or Classic BattleTech fan, or someone else entirely — I hope that 2007 was a fine year for you and that 2008 will be even better. Happy seasons!

Windows for the Future

I have a Windows machine sitting on the other side of my room, safely segregated from my working desk. I use it for work purposes occasionally: to deal with legacy files and to test stuff in IE, plus I play a few games now and then, and I prefer to keep them compartmentalized away from my work machines. Sometimes I use VNC to connect to it so I can play online poker from my Powerbook

Before I started using Macs — and, really, before I started using OS X — I think I actually enjoyed fooling around with Windows, to a degree. There used to be some level of fun in installing new video drivers to make performance just a little bit better, and in running all sorts of little applications to tweak my computer. Once I learned that doing stuff with the computer was cooler than doing stuff to the computer, I began to resent the never-ending stream of maintenance that Windows seems to require: relatively frequent security updates, virus scans [and updating the software and definitions], spyware scans [and updating there, too], defragging, and as many hardcore users will say, a full reinstall roughly every year.

I don’t have time for that. More importantly, I don’t want to spend that much time doing “work” to maintain a computer that doesn’t do much work for me — time I spend twizzling with Windows is time I can’t spend on something more profitable, constructive, or fun.

I bought the current Windows machine [a HP, it has an AMD processor, some RAM, and perhaps a very small donkey inside] in late 2004. I’ve been faithfully upgrading my virus scanner, my adware scanner, and I defrag it on a regular basis. I’m such a good little babysitter. I’ve never had a virus on that machine, never had “adware” more intrusive than a cookie, and all in all, the machine is still pretty stable [although slower than it used to be … something about “using it” that seems to make it slower.]

As of now, though, I’m stopping. I’ve set the virus scanner to run once a month, and to check for updates on the same schedule. I’m not going to run spyware scanning software out of habit anymore — only if I suspect Windows has become crudded up. I’ll upgrade the software firewall if it stops working for some reason or if I run into some sort of incompatibility, but I’m not going to touch it otherwise. Defragging? No. Scandisk? Only if I have reason to suspect the hard drive is failing. Windows Updates? Once a month, no more. I’ve turned off auto-updating in Firefox — the version I have works, and I have extensions installed that work. I’ll update them once a month if there are updates available. I am not even bothering to check if I could install Vista on it.

I’m going to set this up on a schedule: first Saturday of every month is “the day I am allowed to spend an hour — maybe two — dorking with Windows.”

At some point during the year I’m going to transfer as much of possible of the actual data on the drive onto an external drive, and back static data up onto DVDs. I’ll keep the external drive powered off unless I’m actively using it.

With minimal babysitting and sane browsing habits, I think there’s a fine chance of the computer staying relatively clean and useful for another year or two. At that point, it can go in the garbage and be replaced — or not — and I’ll feel fine about discarding something that I have so little investment in, and no valuable data on.

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