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GPF News Archive

First Post Previous Post Next Post Latest Post February 28, 2000

 

The following news item stems from way back before we started keeping the News Archive (January 2004) and was resurrected from the Wayback Machine by showler from the forums. Because of its age, many of the links may no longer have relevance, but we thought it would be interesting to include it here in the Archive for nostalgia's sake. Also note that there may well have been many news items between this one and the items archived around it, but these are lost to history. At any rate, this provides an interesting glimpse back at the comic and the site, providing us a snapshot of what the comic was like "back in the day" before many of you first discovered it.

Quick Update: Sorry this is just another Quick Update, gang, but as you might guess, there's a lot going on behind the scenes here. We've been having server problems, which I'm trying to track down. I've contacted my service provider about the error message on the main page, but I won't be able to get their response until I get home this evening. So please ignore the error on the main page. I've manually updated the main page, so you'll still see today's strip. Thanks to everyone who let me know about it.

I'm also still struggling with the problem some of you are having with the Archive Browser. I was finally able to reproduce the error, but only in Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 and only from my home ISP account. (MSIE at my day job has not been able to reproduce the error, and I have yet to see the error occur in Netscape.) To be honest, gang, I'm at a total loss, since the error occurred suddenly and without warning. Personally, I think it's a server problem; MSIE didn't seem to have a problem with this script for a long time, and suddenly it's not working. Unfortunately, since the server isn't in my hands, I'm at the mercy of tech support. But you guys can still help me out. I've uploaded an older copy of the script here, and I'd like to ask some of you who have been experiencing the problem to give it a try and see if the error still occurs. If you still get these same errors, then I know it's something with MSIE or the server; if not, then it's my script. I haven't been able to test this in my MSIE at home yet, but I plan to once I get home tonight.

And for you MSIE fanatics out there, I am not trying to put down your favorite browser. Honest. I'm just stating facts; I write a script that produces perfectly valid and browser-inspecific HTML code, and it works all the time in Netscape and part of the time in MSIE. Most of you know by now I'm not a huge fan of Microsoft, but I also try my best to be politically neutral in the browser wars. It just puzzles me why virtually the same version of the same browser works in one place and not another. :)

And that's all I have to say for myself this time, gang. There's a whole heaping mess of stuff going on behind the scenes here, so much I'm barely keeping my head above water. But if everything works out perfectly, it will be a blast to see. So please bear with me during all these rough spots, and I'll see you next update.

Quick Update: I think I've found the root of the problem to the foul-ups in the Archive Browser. I've been conducting a lot of my tests in Netscape and hadn't even thought to try it in Internet Explorer. (I use Netscape as my default browser, but usually test pages in MSIE before a page or script goes "live.") I opened the site and browsed through it for quite some time in Netscape without seeing a single error. I then opened it in MSIE, and sure enough, the page popped up with a missing image icon. When I right-clicked the image and chose "Show Picture" from the pop-up menu, the strip loaded fine. I was able to repeatedly get this error to occur.

It appears that MSIE is not consistently loading the strips correctly. Both the Archive Browser and the Comics Archive pre-load strips by including the previous and next strips in the HTML, but the WIDTH and HEIGHT fields of the IMG tag are set to 1, so the image is hidden on the page. (You HTML coders out there should know what I mean.) This effectively forces the browser to download the image and store it in the cache, so when you scroll forward or backward, it pulls the strip from the cache instead of downloading it again. This also downloads the next strip into the cache, so it will load quicker when you click the link. Unfortunately, MSIE isn't doing this; it seems to be downloading only two images instead of three, meaning one gets skipped. You click the link to go to the next or previous link, and you get a broken image icon.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do. The HTML code is completely valid and correct; the problem appears to lie within MSIE, not my code. And I'm not about to dictate what type of web browser my visitors should use. I have always done everything humanly possible to maintain compatibility across the different browsers. (I've always though Netscape was the better browser, but I really don't want to open up that can of worms. :) I'll try running some more tests and seeing what I can do to correct this problem, and I'll keep you posted on what I find out.

Hey, gang! I'll start off this update by saying I have just had an exciting, fun-filled weekend like none other. This weekend, I got to meet two of the most incredible minds in the online comics community, Pete Abrams of Sluggy Freelance and Bill Holbrook of Kevin & Kell. David Allen, mastermind behind Plan Nine Publishing, invited us on a little weekend retreat, which ended up being a total blast. I listened as David spilled his plans for Plan Nine this year, heard Bill reveal some his secrets behind syndication and doing three comic strips at once (the man can't be human :), and became privy to some ultra-top-secret Sluggy news from Pete (and my lips are sealed, so no askin'!). It was definitely a weekend to remember. I believe Pete is planning a little retrospective for his site (when he actually finds time to do it :), so I'll let him chronicle the events. I'll just say it was a blast, and say I'll never look at the Crocodile Hunter the same way again. ;)

I've been trying to investigate the mysterious site problems some more, but still haven't come to resolution on it. For those not in the know, a number of you have been reporting problems with the site (in particular, I believe, with the Archive Browser) resulting in missing files and/or "not authorized" messages when trying to view strips. I got conflicting reports this weekend; one guy said everything cleared up and worked great, while another reported even more problems. I've contacted SimpleNet, my service provider, and got the same response I always do: "We didn't see anything wrong, so it's not our fault." Well, if one person had problems that eventually went away, and I haven't touched anything all weekend, where do you think that problem lies? :) It may be academic, since I'm considering moving to another provider before too long, so who knows how this will turn out. I'm keeping an eye on the site, so keep letting me know if you find things going haywire, gang.

Things here at GPF should be returning to some level of normality this week, following the recent bizarre surprises and crossovers. I will confess that next week starts another startling tale that I hope will keep you guys on your toes... but I'll stop there, lest I reveal too much. :)

Book news: David Allen revealed to me this weekend a proof of the book, which is now in the hands of the printers. Everything looks spectacular, especially the bonus color story at the end. The colors turned out better than I had hoped. With any luck, David may start taking pre-orders soon, so keep watching our book subsite or the Plan Nine site for more details.

Speaking of Plan Nine, I've have been invited (and I'm seriously considering going) to join the Plan Nine booth at Dragon*Con. I'll fill in more details when I have them, so I'll keep you posted.

A couple of repeats, just for those who haven't seen them (and this is the last time I post them, honest):

I have decided to do away with the Internet Homepages Top 100 link. IHT100 has moved to Global100.Com, which (in my opinion) is a mess of confusion. They have completely changed the way the chart works, now with calculations done several times a day, which sort of makes the whole thing seem a lot less... official. (The weekly update made more sense to me.) Also, the weighting system is ludicrous; the more personal information you reveal to them, the more weight your vote carries. I wasn't happy with how it worked before, and I'm even less happy with how it works now. Lastly, the site is deceptive in its purpose; while it seems to promote traffic to the best sites (through your votes), instead it merely increases their traffic (and thus ad revenues). Of all traffic through this site, traffic sent from WorldCharts is a microscopic fraction. Ergo, taking all this into account, I've snipped the link. Thanks to everyone who got GPF up into the Top Ten and kept us there (for many, many weeks, might I add), and sorry if signing up with them increased your quantities of spam.

DoubleClick, one of the Internet's largest advertising companies specializing in banner ads, may have the ability to connect your Web surfing habits with your name and physical address, claims this USA Today article. Privacy rights activists are up in arms over this, and I can definitely understand why. Even though I find banner ads as annoying as the next surfer, I can see their value... but I think this is going a little too far. Fortunately, DoubleClick has made available a way to opt-out, or disable their tracking system. (I promptly opened it in every Web browser version I have. Whether it works or not... that remains to be seen.) Please take a minute or two to read the article and make your own judgments on the issue.

And that's about it. If you want to catch the winners of our trivia contest, swing by the contest subsite and find out. You can catch the KUAC "GPF" radio interview of me at the "GPF" radio show site, in RealAudio format. (I'm still working on a transcript for the RealAudio-impared, but the going has been slow.) And, as always, you can e-mail the Man Behind the Curtain. Thanks for dropping in!

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