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Topics - Xepher

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Announcements / Datacenter Downtime And Xepher's Going On Vacation
« on: February 06, 2008, 04:40:36 am »
I was just informed by the datacenter who houses the server that several power transformers servicing their building are being replaced this Saturday. They estimate 3 to 5 hours downtime starting at 8am CST on Saturday the 9th of February. I don't know if that just means routers are going down, or if all the servers are gonna lose power as well. We may get to see how well I built the redundancy into this new machine sooner than I wished. If for some reason it takes longer than the estimate, or you just want status updates, feel free to IM me. Xepher42 on any of AIM, Yahoo, or GoogleIM. Though note that I have no intention of being up before noon on a weekend. :-)

Additionally, I'm taking a week-long ski trip on the 10th through the 17th. I'll be taking my laptop with me, but I probably won't be online much. (I'd obviously rather be skiing. :-) ) Shouldn't be a big deal, but just figured I'd let ya'll know not to expect much response from me during that week.

Hosting Q&A / Unicode Test
« on: January 03, 2008, 04:15:56 am »
I'm posting this to test/demonstrate unicode support here. Some people are having problems with MySQL+PHP+etc... when using other languages. Below is a copy of a japanese essay I had to write years ago in college. I have no idea what it says anymore, so... just ignore it even if you CAN read japanese. As long as it looks like kana, and not random binary, we're good.



Hosting Q&A / Please Don't Send Me Private Messages
« on: December 23, 2007, 02:06:17 am »
As the title says, please don't send me private forum messages. The indicator that shows I have one is small, and I often don't notice for a day or two. Additionally, the messages are nearly impossible to archive or organize. If you need to contact me directly, such as to get a lost password, or you need a domain added to your account, please email me. Hosting-related issues (e.g. "most stuff") go to admin@... and personal stuff goes to xepher@... (obviously complete the email addresses in full.) If it's a support issue or technical question, I generally prefer to handle that on the forum, in case other users have a similar problem later, the solution can maybe be found by searching older threads. Thanks!

Announcements / Banner and Box Ad Ratings
« on: December 19, 2007, 02:36:10 pm »
It's recently been brought to my attention that one of our users uploaded banner and box images (for the rotating "ads" thing) that contained nude sketches. (As I hadn't said anything on this before, I can't blame the user for not reading my mind.) While the actual art is something allowed for a site here, I ask that everyone please keep their image ads for the box/banner to a PG or lower rating. That basically means no cuss words, no sex/nudity, and nothing more than "cartoon" violence. In a similar vein, any site with content at or above an R rating needs to have some sort of basic warning before the actual content is viewed. That can be as simple as a warning on your front page that your comics or image gallery might contain violence, nudity, or whatever the explicit content might be. You don't have to make specific warnings for every post or picture, just as long as there's some warning people see before the stuff they might find offensive.

General Chat / OMGWTF!
« on: December 12, 2007, 05:05:37 am »

Announcements / New Virtual Domain Requirement
« on: December 10, 2007, 11:56:50 pm »
I've decided that anyone wishing to use a virtual/linked domain name with their account must participate in the banner/box exchange program. It remains completely optional for everyone else, and I'll only be selectively enforcing it for existing domains/users. Anyone requesting a new domain to be linked to their account must have a banner and/or box in place on their site though. The reasoning for this is that needs a least some exposure in order to grow... I generally consider the "" part of "" to be enough, but when you're using a personal domain, it's entirely possible that people could never know who hosts the site at all and I don't think a single banner/box is too much to ask in return for what's provided.

If you have opinions (strong or otherwise) on this, let me know. I'm willing to hear people out and perhaps change my mind if there's a compelling reason, but for now, that's the new rule.

Announcements / Applications Finally Reopen
« on: December 05, 2007, 11:44:11 pm »
That's right, six months late, but I'm once again taking applications for new accounts. So if you think you've got something worthy of sharing with the world, head over the applications section of the forum, but be sure to read the instructions before posting.

General Chat / Global Warming
« on: December 02, 2007, 05:29:25 am »
Generally, I'm all for it... but it's near midnight, in December, and raining even... yet I just had to turn on my AC to keep from sweating in my own apartment. It's currently 74f (23C) outside. I think I'm gonna have to move to Alaska. :-)

Announcements / Automated Email Rules
« on: November 25, 2007, 07:08:30 pm »
I've recently had to put in place some new rules about automated email. A lot of you have forums or other scripts that use the server to send out things like new topic notifcations or registration confirmations. The problem is that a lot of these aren't well checked for sanity. That is, bots drive by, attempting forum spam, and that results in a lot of undeliverable mail being sent out by your forums. This in turn gets the server blacklisted as a spam source. Currently, roadrunner is refusing all email from because of this, and has basically got us on notice. This is pretty much due to the actions of only one or two users here. As such, new rules are going into effect immidiately regarding this.

1. The sendmail binary is no longer accessable to users. That's the local program that sends mail. A lot of web scripts use it on the backend to generate mail. There's no way to easily secure it user-by-user.
2. Thus, all outgoing email MUST be sent via the SMTP server, just like the mail server wasn't local to the script. (Most forums have settings for this if you need it.)
3. Email will be allowed ONLY to local/ addresses (and any aliases you have on domains hosted here) unless SMTP authentication is done.
4. You can only authenticate with the email system if you actually use email here (that option is set up via user-services) and you have to use your username and password. The reason for this is that means rejected/failed email will be returned to YOU instead of bounced around to me. It also gives other system admins a notice of who sent the email if/when they complain to me about abuse.
5. Keep an eye on your scripts, and do NOT let them be abused. If you set your username/password in your forum config, it will let it send email to anyone, using your creditentials. Do not do this unless you're absolutely sure it's neccessary, and you're willing to take responsibility if the script gets out of hand. Make sure your config also includes a valid return email address so you notice rejected messages right away. Pay attention to those rejection notices, and don't let the system keep sending email to invalid addresses.

As stated in the main rules, email abuse is not allowed. Whether that abuse is directly by you, or by a system you've installed doesn't really matter. The new configuration I've just implemented means that email can't be abused by any script (or person) without it having your password. Thus, if you want to be safe, configure your scripts to send to your email address (or one of your aliases on a domain you've got here) and do NOT give it your password. This means you can't do things like have a forum send out registration emails or stuff to other emails though. Most forums have a registration option that let's the admin directly approve/register new members that you could use. If you choose to give your password to a script though, you must be vigililant about what it's doing. Most of you know I'm not too hard to deal with, and I know sometimes things happen that you didn't intend. That said though, I reserve the right to terminate your email access if I feel you're not being responsible enough with things. Usually, I try to give everyone at least one direct warning before I do anything harsh, so make sure you don't ignore it. (That means you'd better have a valid contact email for me to send a warning to!)

Alright, rant over... exiting mail-nazi mode. :-P

General Chat / StupidFilter
« on: November 14, 2007, 07:16:54 pm »

I thought this was a great idea. And check out the first answer there, where they mention CRM114... that's what we just started using for spam filtering here! :-P

Announcements / Welcome to Arclight!
« on: November 11, 2007, 12:49:48 pm »
If you're reading this, you're on the new server,  code-named "Arclight" which is a Core2 Duo system with 2GB of ram and nearly a full terabyte of hard drive space. It's also being hosted on a 100mbit link (the old server was 5mbit) so things should be faster all around. All user accounts should be migrated and working by now, but this was a complex process, so if you're having issues with something, don't hesitate to bring it to my attention. You can post in the forum (aka reply here), email me, or contact me on AIM (my SN is "Xepher42" there.) Welcome to Arclight!

General Chat / Today's new word is...
« on: November 06, 2007, 03:39:22 am »
... Dyslexify!

The irony about living in "The Hill Country" is that it's easy to dyslexify to "The Hell Country."
     --Xepher, 5 minutes ago, on the internet (p.42)

Art / Scanners and Color Management
« on: October 23, 2007, 12:12:33 am »
So, I browse a lot of art sites on a regular basis. Not being an artist myself, I rarely have much in the way of useful commentary. However, I've recently noticed that a lot of people's art posts are accompanied by complaints like "My scanner ate the colors!" or "The greens really don't show up after the scan."

Computer imaging IS something I have a fair amount of experience with. Especially lately, I've been playing with my new digital camera and working a lot with color profiling and the like. As such, I think I could probably pull together a good primer on such a thing. Before I go and take the time to make a fancy article on it, I figured I'd ask around and see if anyone would actually find that useful, or if there's already some good/obvious ones out there that I should just point people at instead. Either way, my point is that there's no excuse for letting a scanner eat the colors of your artwork. :-)

The example below is as simple as enabling the color profile for my camera when processing things.

Default sRGB output:

Nikon (Camera) ICC profile output:

EDIT: Changed "at the colors" to "ate the colors" so it makes more sense. :-)

Announcements / Xepher's Trip
« on: August 15, 2007, 03:58:09 am »
I'm going to Colorado for a week, starting tomorrow. That puts me back the 22nd of August. I might have internet access while there, but probably not. As such, if something goes wrong of anyone needs help, well... Try emailing me, if I DO get online at all, I'll check email at least, but I can't promise anything. Sorry for the (almost) no-notice, but I haven't even been at home for the past two days, and it pretty much slipped my mind. I mentioned it briefly in the new server thread I think.

Anyway, see ya'll when I get back!

Hosting Q&A / Newsbox Redesign
« on: July 29, 2007, 12:17:07 pm »
I'm going to revamp the newsbox system. It's going be becomes a single, image-based device. There won't be all the various text and such, but just a "" header and then an image. That image will rotate... mostly it will show banners/ads for other sites here. Those will be images supplied by people for their own site. Basically, the typical banner/link exchange thing, but for When people mouse over the ad, they'll get a little menu popup that'll let them see more and visit the site. Mixed in with those will be occasional ads for itself, both of the "host your site here" and the "donate to support us" types.

Starting with the server move, the donation model is changing back to entirely voluntary, and the newsbox likewise becomes optional. Everyone can take donations or not take donations as they see fit. I hope that if you get a fair amount, that you consider passing some on to me, but there's no longer that 25% required as in the current model. Likewise, the newsbox will become totally voluntary. It's going to mostly server as a link exchange anyway, since no one ever paid attention to the actual "news" in it. The "support" ads/banners that I'll mix in with it will go to direct donations. This will be clearly labeled as such, so if you happen to take donations yourself on your site, your users won't be confused about where/what is what.

There's a poll on this post (above) that's asking what layout you would prefer for the new newsbox. It will not be configurable in ANY way, as it will be nearly all image. I think that makes for better eye-catching, as text-only blurbs don't really do much to advertise comics or artwork. Anyway, vote and let me know.

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