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Strip 1113

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< Piro >

hair color layering...

"studies and tweaks"

Saturday - April 12, 2008

[Piro] - 13:00:00 - [link here]

Sorry about the 2 comic week, I was pretty sick last weekend and it's amazing how that can throw you even more than usual :) I was actually supposed to travel somewhere next week, but given the fact that the flight was with American Airlines and it was on MD-80s with a stop in Chicago... i figured it might be a good idea to postpone that trip for a while.

Oh, and i really should have taken that Danny Choo rant down once April 1st was over - I think some people have been taking it seriously. ^^;; I've been reading Choo's site for a while, and got in touch with him after giving him a cameo in a recent comic. It was a somewhat last minute thing - Danny contacted me about doing it the night before, I said "sure!' and i JUST missed him the next morning after finishing my end of it, which made it a little messed up (it showed up on April 2nd in Japan) but it was fun. Danny's a fun guy, and his site is full of all sorts of interesting... stuff, as well as a lot of good general interest otaku japan stormtrooper weird kinda things. That and he seems to have a thing for excessively dynamic website designs. :P

In case you are really bored and the past four comics just haven't been doing it for you, how about some randomness? :P First off, as i mentioned a few weeks ago, i've actually been working on Warmth to the point where i'm actually producing pages (including re-doing the pages I had originally done back in 2004 - it's disturbing just how bad my old art is) Art issues aside, one thing i've never been happy about with Megatokyo is the way English and Japanese dialogue is handled. The < and > brackets work, but they aren't really an ideal solution. Since warmth also contains a mix of English and Japanese dialogue, i've developed a new approach to showing the difference. English dialogue is shown using ComiCraft's WildWords font in eliptical word bubbles, while Japanese text is shown using ComiCraft's TimSaleLower with rectangular bubbles. The challenge with making something like this work is making things different enough so the reader can easily tell the difference as he/she is reading, yet similar enough so that it's not visually jarring. WildWords is an all capitals font, while TimSaleLower has lowercase letters. This, combined with the different feel of the characters, similar weights, and the bubble shape i think works. The only problem i have with it is the question mark in the TimSale font... it's a little weird, stylized. The solution may be to just change the question mark to the Wildwords one, which seems to work. I COULD go in and modify the font itself, but investing in a font editing program just to change a single character in a single font seems kinda silly. ^^;;

I have been doing some color studies for the warmth characters, and i posted one of Saeko on fredart this morning. I'm getting spoiled - the new Megatokyo site is such a pleasure to work with, and the Wordpress backend on fredart is similarly wonderful... updating the fredart page itself, posting artwork is... horrible. Given the fact that *I* programmed it myself years ago (back in 2000 i think) and given the fact that i was just learning PHP, the fact that my brain does NOT work in logical ways, and that i was not using any sort of database to store data... i can't complain too much. It's amazing that it still works as well as it does. Most of the funtionality of the site is based on using folders with each image controled by a text file. When you access the site, the structure of the galleries and other elements of the site are based on functions that count the .txt files in the data directories, and each data file gives the appropriate information to form the art page itself. Here's an example of the one i created for today's post, in a file called co000041.txt in the co_data folder:

41
co
co_graphics/sakeo2008-color.png
co_graphics/s-sakeo2008-color.jpg
650
937
april 12.08
saeko [08]
One of several color studies i've done recently 
on a newer version of Saeko for this years
Warmth production. Yes, the project is finally
actually underway. ^^;; The colors are actually
fairly bland here, i was working more on the
dynamic color of the hair, still not really there
yet. There are five or six colors in there. COPIC marker on Kodak Premium Matte Photo
Paper, lines printed via HP B1980 printer warmth fred-rin 12_author_url 13_button_url 14_button_size_h 15_button_size_w 7 no

Works great, unless you type something in wrong, which happens a lot. It can also be borked if you forget to upload something, or put something in the wrong place. It's a pain, and gives me a headache just thinking about it sometimes. Thankfully, the Webmonk33z (or should i call them 'core'? i need to ask them about that) are working with me to redesign and rebuild the site. Given how well Megatokyo is working, i'm looking forward to it. Oh, there will be a few rants here and there from them regarding the site and other things related to it, so don't be suprised if you see a new name or two show up in the rant columns from time to time.

< Kalium >

The search ninja in his natural habitat

"Not Quite Google"

Sunday - April 27, 2008

[Kalium] - 13:00:00 - [link here]

For the last month or so, I've been logging use of the search engine. Not to be creepy or anything, but I wanted to know how people used it, and I wasn't about to rely on some self-selected group willing to deal with me directly on the subject. I wanted it straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. So I pinged Alpicola, we hacked something out, and we let it run for a while.

The first few days got some odd results, so I decided to wait a while and let searches accumulate. Good thing, too. A number of interesting patterns came out. Right now, the stats I'm using are about five minutes old, so I'm reasonly confident of their accuracy.

As one might expect, a number of the most popular searches come directly from the help page, so at least I know people are reading it. While these terms used to dominate the top of the statistics, now the numbers are headed by metatype searches. The number one search by a significant margin is for 'meta:”Story”'. This tells me that people are making use of the find buttons combined with the checkboxes. Good to know. That's why they're there, after all.

When I looked at some of the early results, I was struck by the number of attempts to search for a date. This directly led to the jump-by-date feature I added several weeks ago, so someone (or perhaps several someones) should be happier now.

I'll just skip to the more interesting results: character popularity. Taking away search terms that I used in the help page, Miho is by far the most popular, with Yuki in second. Followed by Kimiko, Erika, and Largo. In that order. Kenji's up there too, but I suspect that is an artifact of (relatively) recent strips.

Now, the odd and/or amusing results. First, someone really likes caps. It seems that at least one person insists on typing all their search terms in capital letters. “ED”, “PING”, “MIHO”, and so on. Since the search ignores capitalization to do partial word matching, this is both meaningless and amusing.

Other people appear to have mistaken the search for Google, and are using it accordingly. There are a lot of searches for various anime and manga series. Air Gear, Naruto, FAKE, Fruits Basket, Claymore, and that's just a quick sampling. There are dozens more, with the occasional video game reference thrown in for variety. Some of these get really specific, such as “kyou”, “fujibayashi”, and “nagisa-chan”. For all that Fred likes Clannad, I haven't seen any of those characters work their way into MT yet.

Some are just odd. Take “aldebaran”, for example. Don't ask me what Alpha Tauri has to do with MT, I'm just as puzzled as you are. I'm also not sure what "Ferret" has to do with Megatokyo. And WoW references? Galaxy Quest lines? A cryptic search for "Rin!"? This stuff is absolutely bewildering.

A number of people don't seem to be paying close attention to the search help page. There are a number of attempts to use the jump-by-number feature that don't quite work because the reader didn't quite get it right. For example, “#42” doesn't really get you much of anywhere, and “(1)” doesn't either. Also, the jump feature isn't going to show you comics that haven't been posted yet. It's a computer program, not the Oracle at Delphi.

Also, describing a scene won't get you much. In addition to not being magical, the search isn't psychic. It really doesn't know what you want when you ask it for “largo talking to piro about erika”. The search needs a little more to go on than a vague description. I mean, sure, you'll get results, but probably not quite the ones you want.

A final thought: all of you people deliberately searching for SGDs scare me. A lot.

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