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Site Journal

By Samuel Stoddard

October 1998

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Friday, October 30, 1998

Today I'm going to talk a bit about EquiWorks, long in production, but which should finally see the light of day sometime in the first half of November. This page has an unusually narrow focus for the typical RinkWorks feature. It's the project of my wife, Darleen, and is of a "home page" of sorts for her horse-related hobbies. Although there will be some coverage of "live" horse events, most of the coverage will be on the peculiar but endlessly creative world of model horses. It's a world that's new to myself; before I met Darleen, I never had any particular interest in real horses, let alone models. But in the last year, I've accompanied her to several model horse shows, and it's fascinating what goes on there.

The basic premise of a model horse show, for those of you that don't know, is to simulate a real horse show as accurately as possible, but in freeze frame miniature. There are different classes you can enter your horse in, and they are judged and awarded ribbons in the usual fashion. What you have to do is to find (or make) a model horse that's a realistic representation of its breed and gender and happens to be in a position that a real horse would be in when it's doing what it's supposed to be doing. For example, one of the moves they do in dressage is an extended trot -- so a model horse entry in a dressage class might be a model horse (of a breed that does dressage in real life) that's in the middle of an extended trot. The models have to have all the correct tack on -- saddle, bridle, and so forth -- and it all has to fit correctly. Every little detail counts. Although using a doll for the rider is optional, the reins better be in the correct position whether you're using one or not. As I said before, there are all kinds of classes: Dressage, English Pleasure, Western Pleasure, Western Trail Riding, Roping, Cutting, Barrel Racing, and Jumping are a few. The world of miniature horse stuff isn't quite as broad as the doll house world, and although it's probably just as expensive, you're probably getting more for your money. A western model horse saddle will cost you between $60 and $120, but the craftsmanship of the saddles on even the low end of the spectrum of quality amaze me. It's all real leather, with a real miniature saddle tree inside, and with countless straps and buckles and stuff. Many of the saddles have imprinted leather and silver decorations. Harnesses, for the classes that involve carriages and surreys and sulky racing, are even more intricate. Then there's the model horses themselves, and there you're getting into a real collector's arena. Lastly, the people that get involved with model horses (at least in our area) seem to be extraordinarily nice. (The real horse world can often be, let's face it, snobbish.)

Darleen is an avid model horse fan. EquiWorks will contain photo coverage of some of the various model horse shows she goes to. In addition, she's been making some fantastic tack. She constantly amazes me by her ability to take up a craft and make things of exceptional quality. Since last Spring, she's made three or four saddles, an assortment of different types of halters and bridles, a saddle blanket, a couple jumps and fences, and a dressage rider. EquiWorks will feature her tack and allow you to buy it made-to-order.

So that's the backstory behind EquiWorks.

Wednesday, October 28, 1998

The new Site Market Game started minutes ago. Now's your chance to rule the world! Enter today. And for those of you that enjoy this type of game, check out the Holiday Box Office Challenge at Mr. Showbiz, which starts in a couple days (but you can register and start trading now).

Soon I'll be posting people's own "Song-A-Second" condensations. (See the October 24 journal entry.) If you have any to contribute, do it now.

Tuesday, October 27, 1998

I figured out what that huge traffic boost from last Friday was. It was the Lockergnome mailing list. Apparently, RinkWorks was featured there on a mailing that went out Friday. Nifty. The update hasn't shown up on their web site yet (I don't think) but should in a few days.

Monday, October 26, 1998

Everett Kaser released his new game Grasshopper Anonymous...uh, that is, Descartes Enigma, last weekend. If you have a PC, you can download the shareware version and play it. Even just the shareware version has quite a lot of puzzles, so check it out. An updated version of the Everett Kaser Software FAQ is forthcoming.

Sunday, October 25, 1998

If anyone is reading this who got referred to this site from a national newspaper, magazine, radio show, or television show, can you please mail me and tell me what? I experienced double my usual traffic on Friday, and I can't account for the increased hits by looking at my referral logs, so it's not another web site that featured me. So I'm dying to know what caused so many people to start visiting this site all of a sudden. Send mail here. Thanks!

Saturday, October 24, 1998

I've been trying to figure out how to make a Song-A-Second humor featurette (in a similar spirit as Book-A-Minute and Movie-A-Minute), but the problem is that song lyrics condense so darn well, what I came up with (with Dean, who participates in At-A-Glance Film Reviews) isn't substantial enough to make a featurette out of. So I'll turn it into a journal entry instead:

There are only a very few basic ideas expressed in the lyrics of popular songs. Don't bother wasting time trying to figure out what they're singing. 99% of them boil down to one of the following:

Readers, if I missed any, send me your own ultra-condensed song lyrics. I'll post the best ones in a future journal entry.

Thursday, October 22, 1998

I have some disappointing news. Dave and I have built up too many Book-A-Minute pages to keep up with. Before Book-A-Minute Classics came out, we could manage an update each for the SF/F and Bedtime pages every two weeks. Not comfortably, mind you, but it was doable. When Book-A-Minute Classics came out, the rate understandably had to fall to an update every three weeks per page. But even that has been harder and harder to attain lately, and I don't know when I was able to do any work on the upcoming Movie-A-Minute.

So I've made the difficult decision to drop the update rate for each of the Book-A-Minute pages down to once a month. Among all the pages, that still gives you an update almost every week. I'm hoping that when Movie-A-Minute comes out, I won't have to drop it further, but we'll see. The problem is that writing even one is such a creative drain. You wouldn't think so, looking at the finished products, but as far as creativity is concerned, Book-A-Minute is the hardest RinkWorks site to maintain. Rather than lower the quality of the updates, I figure it's better to lower their frequency.

There is another option, however, which Dave and I have discussed and didn't think was a good idea. So it's up to you readers to speak up one way or the other if you have an opinion. Should it become unmanageable for us to maintain all the Book-A-Minute pages plus, when it comes out, Movie-A-Minute, with monthly updates, which would be preferable to you: (1) that the update rate be dropped to (say) every 5 or 6 weeks, or (2) that the updates be more frequent but only contain two new ultra-condensations rather than the usual three? Don't bother trying to figure out which option would give you the most condensations in the long run -- whichever option I go with (if indeed I have to pick either), the update rate would be adjusted to the fastest rate Dave and I can comfortably manage. The issue is whether or not you'd rather have less to read more often or more to read less often. So send me email, but if all goes well, I'll be able to keep all four pages on a monthly schedule.

Tuesday, October 20, 1998

Answered to the latest reader question, "What's the most outrageous thing you'd do for RinkWorks?" follow:

I bet you're all wondering what the most outrageous thing I would do for RinkWorks is. I'll tell you. Spend nearly all my free time updating it. Call the men in the white coats, someone.

So now I have to judge this thing. According to the afore-posted rules, the person with the most outrageous answer to this question would get the reward of not having to do what he said he'd do. Hmmm. I guess the winner...would have to be...ME! Yes! I don't have to maintain RinkWorks anymore! Ok, guys, get to work. I want to see some serious combing and brawling going on.

Friday, October 16, 1998

Hi! If you're reading this, that means the web host switch has taken effect in your area. RinkWorks is now hosted once again by my original web hosting service. It's entirely possible some remote parts of RinkWorks won't work at first. If you spot anything amiss, please let me know, and I will fix the problem as soon as possible.

Thursday, October 15, 1998

It's a big day for news. Item #1: The Site Market Game has ended. Stephen K. is the winner. He'll receive his official RinkWorks hair comb soon. Final results are available by logging into the game; they'll be posted on the main Site Market Game page soon.

Item #2: The RinkWorks Message Forum hit 400 posts yesterday evening. Nothing much more to say about that.

Item #3: I'm switching web hosts again. Don't worry; unlike last time, where RinkWorks was down for a week and a half, this time you should see no downtime at all. If you do (and this would only happen if the host I'm leaving decides to pull the plug on me prematurely), then it will only be for a day or two, because the new site is already set up and ready, and all you have to do is wait for Internic to switch where the domain name points to.

At any rate, this switch will not happen at the same time for everyone. It takes a while for the change to propagate throughout the Internet. Some people will get the new host as early as tomorrow. Others won't get it for a week, although most people will get it sooner rather than later. Because of this, I have to disable a few things on the old server, so I don't get some people doing things on the old server while others do conflicting things on the new server. Posting on the message forum is the most obvious answer -- I can't have people posting on the old server and the new server at the same time. So posting to the message forum has been disabled on the old server. When the switch takes effect with your ISP, you'll be able to post again.

The same is true of the Reader Survey and subscribing/unsubscribing to the RinkWorks Mailing List. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's necessary. I know some of you need your daily dose of the message forum to wake up in the morning, but coffee works too. :-)

Anyway, keep an eye on this journal page. Once you see any entries dated after this one, you're on the new server.

In the meantime, send me answers to the latest reader question, described below.

Wednesday, October 14, 1998

It looks like Things People Said is a hit. Since its opening, it has clocked in more hits than any other RinkWorks site except for the two big guns, The Dialectizer and Computer Stupidities. Although the traffic will subside somewhat as its newness wears off, it's clear that this is a popular feature. In a way, that cheeses me off -- I put less creative effort into Things People Said than any other site. But I'm not one to complain; the satisfaction of entertaining people more than overrides that particular mixed feeling. What do you think about Things People Said? I haven't figured out how often I'm going to update that site, but there will definitely be additions now and again.

Second call on the reader question, "What's the most outrageous thing you'd do for RinkWorks?"

Tuesday, October 13, 1998

Today's reader question: "What's the most outrageous thing you'd do for RinkWorks?" Reward for the person with the looniest answer: you don't have to do whatever it is you say you'd do.

Monday, October 12, 1998

Alert reader "Issachar" points out that I may have misinterpreted the reader comments posted in yesterday's journal entry. Then again, maybe I didn't. He mentions that "in the beginning" might have been intended to mean "in the first place," in which case the reader was suggesting that The Duel of the Ages shouldn't have been violent at all, rather than that it shouldn't have been violent in the first couple chapters. I agree that this is a possible interpretation, even though the reader did go on to mention how the first couple chapters were too violent for his or her tastes. At any rate, if the reader meant that the story shouldn't have been violent in the first place, again I cite the fact that it was originally written only for Dave and I and our admittedly twisted senses of humor.

Issachar went on to comment on the violence in The Duel of the Ages:

"Personally, I took the violence in The Duel of the Ages as being in the same vein (so to speak) as certain Monty Python skits, such as the Arthur vs. Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The whole scene is so bloody as to be ludicrous, and even if it's gross, you just can't regard it the same way as, say, the contents of Reservoir Dogs (after which I felt the need to take a thorough shower)."

This is exactly how I feel about Duel's violence, and I wanted to say something along those lines yesterday but couldn't think of a good way to put it. It is too over the top to take seriously, and in fact it even doubles back and makes fun of the fact that it's too over the top to take seriously. There's a big difference between that and some of the more hard-edged, brooding movies of today that I feel are inherently destructive to our general well-being. But again, that's not to say Duel isn't going to disturb some people more than they would prefer to be. So again, note the warning before reading.

Sunday, October 11, 1998

Someone recently filled out my Reader Survey and left comments I wanted to address. An email address was not provided, so I'll answer this person's concerns here. It may be of interest to others of a similar mindset.

The comments are as follows: "I think you should update more often. I love Crazy Tales, but it's boring now because there are no updates. You almost never update I Think. . . . In my opinion The Duel of the Ages is rather boring and violent. I know that you put a warning up about the violence, but you shouldn't have made it violent in the beginning. I read the first two chapters, and I was sickened by the violence."

Regarding updates, I Think is actually the site I update most often besides At-A-Glance Film Reviews and, if you count it as a feature, this journal. Typically it is updated every five or six days, but that's not a strict rule. I don't think I could update it any more often and maintain its quality. Crazy Tales, on the other hand, is updated only every month; again that's not a strict schedule but rather just how it seems to work out. My reluctance to update that one more often is due to a couple of factors: one, it's not the most popular of sites although it gets a fair share of traffic, and two, I'm not as personally interested in it as some of the others. However, I note your enthusiasm for the site and will take that into consideration. I'll look into updating it slightly more often, but I'll have to see how much time the rest of the site requires in the near future first.

As for The Duel of the Ages, yes, it is very violent. Hence the warning label. I'm not sure why you suggest it shouldn't have been violent in the beginning, because if it hadn't been, you may have continued reading and encountered the violence anyway. Three things: (1) remember that The Duel of the Ages was not written with any audience other than ourselves in mind, hence audience reaction was not a consideration when including violence anywhere in the story, beginning or otherwise; (2) if the first two chapters bothered you, it's a good thing you stopped when you did; and (3) the violence warning, as you discovered, meant what it said -- the beginning is not exempt. To those who would be uncomfortable reading a violent, if comic, story, note the warning and think twice before reading any part of it.

At any rate, thank you whoever you are for taking the time to provide your feedback on the site.

Friday, October 9, 1998

John W. points out a very serious problem with the RinkWorks site:

"Hello. The site you have is pretty awesome, but there's just one, tiny, nearly imperceptibly nanoscopically eency-weency flaw -- or at least it looks like a flaw -- in the Book-A-Minute section. There are three parts to it (as I am quite sure you know), SF/F, Classics, and Bedtime. But here is where the problem comes in (as seen from a newly created artificial intelligence, web surfing for the first time):

If you go to the Book-A-Minute Bedtime page, at the bottom it has a link that says, "And, on Book-A-Minute SF/F..."
Okay. So you go there. At the bottom of that one, it has a link that says, "And, on Book-A-Minute Classics..."
Okay. So now you go there. At the bottom of that one, it has a link that says, "And, on Book-A-Minute SF/F..."
Okay. So then you go there. At the bottom of that one, it has a link that says, "And, on Book-A-Minute Classics..."
Okay. So now you go there. At the bottom of that one, it has a link that says, "And, on Book-A-Minute SF/F..."
Okay. So then you go there. At the bottom of that one, it has a link that says, "And, on Book-A-Minute Classics..."
Okay. So now you go there. At the bottom of that one, it has a link that says, "And, on Book-A-Minute SF/F..."
Okay. So then you go there. At the bottom of that one, it has a link that says, "And, on Book-A-Minute Classics..."
Okay. So now you go there. At the bottom of that one, it has a link that says, "And, on Book-A-Minute SF/F..."
Okay. So then you go there. At the bottom of that one, it has a link that says, "And, on Book-A-Minute Classics..."
Okay. So now you go there. At the bottom of that one, it has a link that says, "And, on Book-A-Minute SF/F..."
Okay. So then you go there. At the bottom of that one, it has a link that says, "And, on Book-A-Minute Classics..."
Okay. So the@#$(S)!(*+%_(^)~!))~*#)@)~_)!3)*$#*^%


"See, I don't mind it all that much, but then I wouldn't want to be responsible for the manslaughter of the world's first artificial intelligence. Granted, if an artificial intelligence were surfing the net and happened to stop by at RinkWorks, Brain Food would surely hit him right after he got through (if he got through) Book-A-Minute. Just forget the fact that even if you did add a link from Classics back to Bedtime, that wouldn't make much of a difference, and the fact that any artificial intelligence that couldn't get past that logic trap deserves to die, and the fact that an artificial intelligence would most likely not have a stack this small, and, well...I give up. So the illustration stinks. Never mind."

Wednesday, October 7, 1998

Things People Said has opened. Unlike most of the features at RinkWorks, there isn't a lot of original material here. You may have even seen much of the humor before elsewhere on the Internet. However, I have not yet seen these humor files grouped together in one place before -- a grouping I think only makes sense -- nor are many of the individual files as complete, yet at the same time pruned of unfunny entries. Whatever. Go read it and see what I mean. I had a lot of fun compiling everything together.

A virtual explosion happened on the RinkWorks Message Forum yesterday and shows no sign of stopping. Apparently a lot of you readers are insatiably fascinated by such topics as relativity and technology in modern culture. I learn something new every day, I guess. :-)

Tuesday, October 6, 1998

Recent work I've done on RinkWorks: EquiWorks is coming along, still on schedule for the end of the month, and Things People Said is almost done. Yesterday I installed improvements to the Message Forum which divide up the message index into several sections. There's also a list of the most recent messages posted now. Hopefully these additions will make the forum easier to navigate.

If you have any interest at all in playing the Site Market Game, sign up now. The current game is nine days from completion, and new registrations will only be allowed for another three. After that you'll have to wait until the next game to play.

Saturday, October 3, 1998

Follow-up discussion to Diane's letter is going on in the Message Forum right now -- head over there if you'd like to contribute.

Saw Antz last night. Great show. My review in At-A-Glance Film Reviews is forthcoming.

Friday, October 2, 1998

Diane's answer to the reader question, "How has the invention of the microwave affected the social climate of modern culture?" follows. Follow-up discussion is invited.

Thursday, October 1, 1998

Last Monday, The Dialectizer was featured in Netscape's daily What's Cool column, and the next day, Brain Food was there. The folks playing the RinkWorks Site Market Game have an idea of how much being featured there can shift the traffic patterns.

Answers to the most recent reader question ("How did the invention of the microwave affect the social climate of modern culture?") follow:

I also have an answer from Diane, which, because it's a more serious answer (and longer than the average), I'll post tomorrow.

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