Sunday, March 7, 2021

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Send them to Pete at: ReleaseNotes@
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January 26, 2006

The Clean-Up Continues

If you downloaded this week’s update and looked at the log, you can tell we’ve been busy—very, very busy. In addition to adding some 300 new issues (including an overlooked, variant-heavy Vampirella title which a user pointed us to), we’ve made over 2,500 changes to issues that were already in the database.

Admittedly, most of these updates are incredibly minor: curving the quotes on storylines, changing "..." to a proper elipsis, etc. Other changes are to continue fixing mistypings and to standardize the spellings of creator names. We’ve still got a ways to go on this latter effort, however, so expect next week’s update to be on the heavy side as well.

When this is all done, it’s a good idea to have ComicBase rebuild its Find Comics lists using the File > File Tools > Rebuild Lists command. This operation can take a hour or so, which is why we don’t force it ourselves as part of the update. If you’ve got some time, however, it’s a good idea to do this (probably after next week’s update) to make sure that your Find Comics lists are in sync with the new data.

January 19, 2006

Also Known As…

We track well over 17,000 creator names, across more than a quarter of a million comics in ComicBase 10. It’s probably not going to surprise anyone, then, that keeping it all straight is a bit of a task—and one which it’s all too easy to fall behind on.

Let’s take the case of just one writer: Mr. Dennis O’Neil. Mr. O’Neil is a fabulous guy, and has written tons of stuff over the years. Most has been as “Denny O’Neil”, but occasionally, he’s gone by Dennis O’Neil, and various miscreditings and mistypings have added “Denny O’Neill, Dennis O’Neill, the infamous Deny O’Neil, and the various apostrophe glitches of Denny O'Neil, Denny O‘Neil, and the like.

Unfortunately, without constant checking and editing, these slight mistypings automatically make their way into the Find Comics’ Writers index, where they dilute and confuse the listings of the fine Denny O’Neil. Since each new week brings new data entry (including first works by dozens of new artists and writers), it’s difficult to keep from accidentally introducing new variants on a creator’s name—even when the creator doesn’t suddenly decide that they don’t want to be known as Chuck Dixon, and now wants to go by Charles Dixon for their latest project. (And oy! Don’t even talk to me about Berni[e] Wrightson—another terrific artist whose name changes brought no end of misery to comic indexers everywhere).

Anyway, a couple of years ago, we did a Very Clever Thing and came up with a master list of creator aliases, along with statistical counts of the most commonly used aliases of creators who sign more than one way. This works as a sort of spell-check dictionary to let us automatically fix our most common misspellings, and standardize the names of folks like Arthur Adams (known 31% of the time as Art Adams). When you do a File Tools and rebuild your Issues List, you'll automatically change any of the known aliases for your artists and writers to their most commonly signed creator name. If you download an update and allow it to correct your issue data, you’ll also get the benefits of these corrections.

When we originally did this, we managed to knock out literally thousands of errant creator aliases and misspellings. Unfortunately, it’s been a couple of years since we’ve been able to update this list, and we’ve come to realize that an update is long overdue. If you’ve downloaded this week’s update, you’ll see that we’ve patched up the creator names on over 580 issues, with many more to come in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully, by this time next week, you’ll once again see Find Comics listings only for the One True Denny O’Neil, and gone will be his mistyped cousins (as well as Garth Ennis’ evil twin Grath, who somehow popped up recently—and must be put in the ground once again with all due speed).

 

January 8, 2006

Yes, Virginia, Your Laptop Can Have Too Many Pixels…

I picked up a new Dell Inspiron laptop this Christmastime, thanks to a slew of great coupons that Techbargains hipped me to. Dell’s a little funny in the way they run specials in a couple of respects. For one, their small business and home divisions compete against each other, so you can often find the same item at significantly different prices, depending on which “store” you looked it up in. Also, they’re incredibly aggressive about the use of online “coupons”—special, time-limited codes which you can type in to their ordering system which give you different specials. If you’re really lucky, you might even be able to “stack” these coupons, taking advantage of, say, a 25% off monitors coupon, as well as a free shipping coupon.

This Christmas, things were just out of control on their Laptops section, and they had so many concurrent specials running that I still couldn’t tell you which ones were in effect when I ordered my Inspiron laptop. One fluke of the coupons I was stacking, however, was that (within a certain range) the price of the laptop actually got cheaper the more options I added to it.

As a result, I went sort of nuts, and ordered the most tricked out, insanely configured laptop I’ve ever picked up. It’s a bit on the heavy side as a result, but it packs in a huge 17" screen, a DVD, tons of RAM, and gamer-level graphics. (I was even able to finally play Call of Duty 2—a great game which has been sitting, unplayed, next to my computer for months, since my main machine couldn’t supply enough graphical power to have it run without choking).

All told, it’s a great machine, but I messed up on one critical detail: I ordered it configured with the higher-resolution (1920x1200) version of the screen, instead of the normal (1440x900) one. I’ve since come to realize that even though the screen is large by laptop standards, it’s nowhere near large enough to comfortably read that level of screen detail. Since the screen is so insanely fine in resolution, it renders normal text and icons at impossibly small sizes.

Dell seemed to realize this, and preset the text fonts to display at 120% of normal size, just so they’d be legible for normal, non-squinting, folks. Unfortunately, this tends to muck up the screen layouts of various programs (most notably Internet Explorer), since the magnification only applies to text, not graphics. Usually, it's better in cases like this to simply move the resolution setting down to something more comfortable (like 1440x900) but on LCD screens, this makes everything look a bit fuzzy, since the screen must interpolate the image to fit into its fixed screen geometry. (CRTs don’t have this issue, since they don’t have physical pixels in the way LCD screens do—they can easily switch to different resolutions without affecting the sharpness of the image).

So yes, folks, it really is possible to have too high a resolution on your laptop’s display—something I never would have believed until now. I haven’t quite worked out a solution to my current legibility dilemma, but for what it’s worth, I did discover that Firefox handles text scaling with far more aplomb than Internet Explorer. This, I believe, is what my Firefox-using friends would label reason #213 why I should have switched to Firefox as my main browser ages ago…

 

January 2, 2006

Happy New Year!

We’re back from the holiday break, the tinsel is packed away, and the favorite office morning beverage has shifted back from hot cocoa to coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. It’ll take a day or two to get on top of all the email and orders that have piled up during the week we were off, but after that, we’ll be back in action and ready to rock.

If you placed an order over the break, you should be receiving it shortly (and yes, Archive Editions are once again back in stock). I hope everyone had a great Christmas or Hanukkah, and wish you all a terrific new year.

Now, let me just get some more java before I start wading through the foot or so of mail on my desk...