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There's always something happening in the highly widgetized Tix?R?Us_Blog, whether it's an unusual event, business news, a bit of tech magic, or just a fun personal story.

Updated: 2014-10-06T20:57:49.862-07:00




 Tix-Comix is a new webcomic to hit the scenes.  It was launched not with a bang, but with kind of a stifled whimper, at some unspecified time this past summer 2010.  

Tix-Comix is the brainchild of Colleen Dick, who used to draw her silly little doodles at,  but who couldn't continue without complete artistic control.  We were lucky enough to catch Colleen one day when she wasn't too busy grilling sacred cow burgers from her most recent exploit.   She graciously granted us a quick interview. We strongly suspect she really hasn't got much to say. 

TRU:  Colleen, what ever gave you the idea that you could be a cartoonist?

CD:  Well, basically I suck at pretty much everything.  So I figured hey, I can suck at drawing and at least make people laugh.  At least some of them.  At least some of the time.  Well, maybe.

TRU:  What are your toons about, Colleen?

CD:  I would call them semi-autobiographical.  Stuff that has happened to a bizarre eclectic group of characters, mixed with a healthy dose of fiction.  All the fiction, ummm.... you know, it could have happened. 

TRU:  Who are your toons especially aimed at?

CD:  (Laughs)  well, unfortunately I seem to have cornered the market for people who don't read webcomics.  Yeah, that's who it's aimed at.  Those are my people.  Not your typical 20 somethings. 

TRU:  So how do you make your comics?  Surely a web geek such as you must have some automatic process. 

CD:  No, drawing toons that pass muster with me just doesn't scale.  I just draw it on paper, scan it and clean it up in GIMP.  It's not a very interesting process, really.  

TRU:  What is your favorite toon you've done so far?

CD:  The one where Tix's best friend gets biceps from her boxing workout.  OK, now, if you'll excuse me, I sense a large fake sacred cow coming from the southeast.  I have to go vanquish it now. 

TRU:  OK,  Well, thanks a lot. (image)

Free Blogging Course


I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

Yeah I really will let y'all know what I think.(image)

New Entrecard Features


Entrecard made a major improvement today. Now you can have multiple blogs in the same account.
Each one has its own credits, but you can transfer credits easily from one to the other. They have also made multiple smaller improvements to the site, such as letting you choose between view profile and go straight to site. They also have added a RSS feed for your top droppers.

This is good news for me, and the timing is also good, as I'm in the process of decommissioning this blogger blog and factoring it into more targetted focused blogs.

Entrecard also have just published an Ebook that explains their service including these new changes.

After being in Entrecard for about a month what do I think? I think it generates a tremendous high bounce rate while inflating your visitors statistics. Most people just drop and run, and I'm sure that there's an auto dropping script that people won't publically admit to using. However if you take time to smell the roses you find some interesting blogs in among all the crappy ones and you might get a few subscribers.

What more does entrecard need? A ban list and an expand the top droppers.
The ban list would just flag that blog and remove it from my automatic list of tops if it was there.. After visiting a particular blog I decide I really hate it and never want to drop on it or see it again, let alone advertise on it. If I try to it says you have banned "Charlie's Crap Blog" Do you wish to unban it now? and if you did it would not be banned any more. Your drop list could go through and automatically open 10 blogs at a time, and it would also keep track of where you are.(image)

My own wordpress blog(s)


This blog is going to fade into obscurity to be replaced by my new collection of
mini-blogs under the cool domain of ( Well, if you're a dork like me you think that's
cool.) I am just testing the trackback system with this post. The miniblogs I have so far are

I haven't styled them yet, they are all on the Wordpress default for the moment.
Best thing is, they are all running in a single database on a single copy of the wordpress software.
I've populated some of them selectively with posts from this blog.(image)

Be nice to your System Admin


My plans to post a Geeky Goodness series have been seriously derailed by..... well, let's just call it a "situation." I have no desire to rant on about how horribly I've been treated, or how the whole situation is so incredibly stupid that if it hadn't f**cked[FOOTNOTE] me royally it would be hilarious. I know you don't care.

Meanwhile ..... I have no desire to turn my blog into one of those collections of other people's youtube videos that's otherwise content free. But once in a while among all the crap on youtube I find a well done vid that makes a clear point. I enjoyed this vid and thought you might too. I found it on AsktheAdmin. Of course he didn't create it either, but I like his sense of humor.

(object) (embed)

[FOOTNOTE]If you read my blog regularly you know that I rarely use vulgar language or obvious censored versions of it. When overused, vulgar language becomes a form of hyperbole that impedes communication. But sometimes there is no other word. When I use it I mean it.(image)

Something about me a normal Google won't find


At Portland Barcamp this weekend, I caught the tail end of a session on patents. I didn't know that Google has put all patents online. Sheesh! I gotta get out of my tracks and explore more. If you want to search for patents you go to Google and then hit the even more>> menu option at the bottom of the more menu. At the left you can see a light bulb icon beside "Patent Search" OK... so you just type "Colleen Dick" in the simple search bar and voila, MY PATENT!How do I happen to hold a patent? A long time ago I implemented cascading bandpass filters for speech on an embedded Texas Instruments speech chip --the same chip that powered the Speak 'n' Spell toy. We had to listen to this mechanical voice over and over to test it and we noted that it really messed up certain foreign-derived words that were not in its Exceptions Dictionary, particularly names. Particularly, the name of the founder of our company..... NOT good for demos! We were laughing at the way the thing pronounced our founder's name one day at lunch. See the patent and use your imagination and you can figure out for yourself what the joke was. I said to my team, "we need to allow the user to add stuff to the exceptions dictionary." So we kicked around a few ideas. I thought about how you would architect it, and that afternoon I spec'd out a rough requirements document for it. It was almost a joke, because we knew our boss would never approve of building anything useful, and certainly nothing proposed by an engineer. We weren't in marketing. All product ideas have to come from marketing. That's the way corporations work. And marketing could not wrap their heads around this one. That specs document languished on the file server for nearly a year. Meanwhile I was off on maternity leave and had not been to work for two or three weeks. What I didn't expect was a Saturday morning phone call at home from one of the company patent attorneys. When a lawyer phones YOU before you've even sucked down your first Joe of the day your first thought is I deny everything! But he was all about the audio editor specification. He informed me that the company was seeking a patent on it, and as per my conditions of employment all monetary benefits from it would be assigned to my employer, but as the original inventor/designer I would get the honor of having my name on the patent, I remembered having written it, had no trouble digging up the theory of operation (because to me it was obvious) and thinking it might be a good idea. He asked permission to drive over to my house immediately and interview me. Sheesh maybe he thought somebody else was trying to patent the same thing to do it that quickly on a Saturday! It must have been about a 60 mile trip for him, but there he was about an hour later. There in my humble dining room with my little baby, he asked me a number of more detailed questions about how the program worked etc. Based on that he wrote up and submitted the patent in legalese as you see it now. Well of course I asked someone from my team what was going on. My work mates informed me that this new manager had come onboard and started poking around and found my spec. Furthermore, this manager was championing my audio dictionary editor, had found someone in marketing to determine that there was a need for this functionality, and had already allocated several members of his team to work to productize it. I thought great, cool. Why does everyone seem to dislike this guy? I soon found out. Apparently this ambitious new manager had initiated the patent process on my phonemic editor. He had proposed himself listed as the inventor but the attorney had smelled a rat. I'm guessing the manager was not answering the questions like the real inventor would. My buds told me the lawyer had been snooping around in the cubes and asking people questions about it. They just [...]

Does your blog have unsavoury "friends?"


You are known by the company you keep. If your blog links to a bunch of dicey websites it could tarnish, if not ruin your reputation. Courtney Tuttle put me onto this little tool that evaluates your linkees. Check out Bad Neighborhood.

I was a little surprised to see that one of the sites I linked to that I thought was a blogging site had a lot of dicey keywords in its earlier posts that raised the red flag, and a couple of my posts even had tags that set off an alarm. In the case of one post I had the word pharmaceuticals --I guess that's a taboo subject now-- and if you want to find the other one you can run bad neighborhood against my blog -- I'll leave it in for you. Other than that, and a surprising 404 (which will be history shortly) no real shady characters around here. Your mileage may vary.(image)

Move over Dilbert.... uh... (sort of)


I was just surfing around the startupalooza website for who's coming to Portland and I ran across the toonlet site. I remember writing a Mr. Potato head stack in Hypercard many years ago and it was a lot of fun. I'd seen others as well, desktop toys for Windoze and Mac, all along the same line. Well, toonlet lets you give them moods and write captions and publish them for posterity, which is a step further. So I got into toonlet and created Calendargeek, an alterego for myself.

I don't really have dreadlocks but it was the coolest hairdo that fit the face. Some avatars are what people WISH they looked like, not what they really look like. I built Calendargeek to be expressive, not necessarily to look like me, or look like I wish I looked, and certainly not to be a glamour queen. However, I'm glad I don't look like Calendargeek. As far as I can tell, toonlet only allows one character to talk per frame. And it doesn't seem to let you edit the strips once they're "published." So given that, and since an awful lot of the time I feel like I'm doing a monologue anyway, Calendargeek is talking to herself and not to any other character, but you can listen in. Unfortunately in this blog layout it cuts off the punchline, and there's not much I can do about it. However if you click the strip you can see it in all its glory in its own home. Anyway, thanks for your indulgence. Toonlet is a lot of fun. Not sure quite what their revenue model is, but I'll stay tooned. Groan... sorry, just could not resist that one!

Amazingly enough, it's not Flash! It's put forth as javascript, but we all know (OK you probably didn't know but I did) that what lurks in javascript tags may or may not actually be javascript. However it appears if you "Use the source Luke" on the toonlet website it's all accomplished with css and dojo.(image)

Pimp your Blog


I'm sort of guessing anybody reading blog posts is halfway looking to promote their own blog, so this one's for you, kids. Blogrush is an interesting widget that is intended to mix up the gene pool a bit with regard to blogs. You basically place your blog in a category and then you put your own custom widget for that category on your blog. (See left pane.) The widget has links to other blog posts in your category. Every link is tagged with your blogrush id so that they know who sent a page to that other blog. You get points every time someone clicks the widget to see one of the related blog posts. When you have enough points then links to your blog will pop up in other people's blogrush widgets.

The other thing about Blogrush is that it works like those Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM) referral schemes that were all the rage in the late 90's and early 2000's. You can get referrals, and you get credit for basically any blog reading action that's caused by your referrals too. You've all heard the MLM line, join now before everybody in the world finds out about it and there are still blogrush virgins, so you can get this massive army of referrals and get lots of traffic to your blog. Some people believe that schemes like this are illegal. Indeed, the structure is the same as a pyramid scheme, which is totally illegal, but the intent here is different. As long as you're not moving money up the pyramid, it's OK.

Blogrush have very detailed statistics. It's worth it to join just to see those. It gives you an idea of how well-read your blog is. And it shows you all your referrals. For what it's worth, it's scored me a few reads.(image)





(image) Another widget you can make very easily! Go ahead, vote! it's easy.(image)

Subversion saved my derrierre


(image) Man oh man do I ever feel like I got run over by a truck and lived to tell about it. I guess this is part geek blog, part personal, and part Tix•R•Us I won't bore you with the gory details but suffice it to say MAJOR server crash requiring a rebuild. That alone is fairly traumatic, but I've survived it before thanks to good backups. This time... well let's just say some stuff, OK a LOT of stuff, got blown away for all time that shouldn't have. The feeling you get from something so utterly devastating is beyond despair. I honestly felt like blowing the whole server up and retiring to a life of taking pottery classes. But I saw one of my favorite clients, Tina Green of the LaSells center, that night, and even though Tix•R•Us was temporarily unable to produce a seating chart for that night's event, Tina still had a smile and encouraging words. So I managed to smile too and buckled down to picking up the pieces after being treated by my daughter Jean, a Corvallis OSU Symphony member, to a program of Barber, Chopin and Sibelius featuring pianist Roberto Plano on the Chopin. While listening to Plano executing flawless runs, it brought me back to why I am in this business in the first place, and I emerged from the concert, once again my happy hopeful and determined self. Indeed, Tix•R•Us was back in business in relatively short order, thanks to Subversion Subversion may be my favorite open source software package of all time. I was able to check out a new copy of the Tix•R•Us web app from my handy dandy subversion repository and whip up a configuration in pretty short order, all things considered. Tix•R•Us got the upgrade a little before I had planned but I'll make it work. It was almost ready. And after all, that whole disaster was just zeroes and ones.(image)



Did you ever get sick of making up a user name and password to each and every one of those websites where you have to have user names and passwords? A lot of folks try to simplify by using the same id and pass on every site, but that's dangerous, because if just one site is compromised or untrustworthy, the bad guy can guess your login at all the others. Wouldn't it be great if you had a SINGLE secure identity that was recognized all over the internet without requiring each site to know your password? Now you can --it's an Open Source initiative called OpenID. Right now the bottleneck is the relatively small number of websites that support OpenID login. I first heard about OpenID at the last SAO talk in January by Scott Kveton of MyStrands. OpenID takes advantage of the fact that domain names on the internet are unique. So you can pick any domain or subdomain that you control and set it up as your openID. I decided that would be a very good identity for me, being as how it's my name and all, and if I ever forget that I got way bigger problems than logging on to websites. If you don't own a domain you can sign up for a blog on wordpress. They will give you a subdomain:, which is automatically set up as an open id. (Even conservative blogger has started doing it, as of about 10 days ago!) Great, but what about the password? Won't I still have to give the password to each and every site? And wouldn't that be dangerous, because if someone ever cracked my master OpenID password they could log on as me to every OpenID site. Yet making up a different password for the same name on many sites defeats the simplicity goal. So what to do?Well, let's say I'm going to tell some website that I'm How does it know it's me and not just someone saying they're me? It's because I control and I put two lines of HTML code in the main page that tells it who to ask for the secret password. So if I'm not currently logged in it goes to that site and asks me for the secret password. If I know that it logs me in to that third party site, where I stay logged until I shut down my browser. Now if I log in anywhere else as it will look at, check that third party site, and since I'm logged in to it, I'm logged into their site too. Sam Ruby provides an elegant howto for OpenID here if you'd like to try it.As I see it, OpenID has sort of the the same weakness as HTTP authentication, which is what it rides on: If you log in to a public computer and fail to log out, you'll still be logged in. Of course the hacker would have to know your OpenID and that wouldn't be quite as readiily available as poking in browser history, but still, it's a concern. And the other overriding concern is that trusted third party has to be someone you totally trust. Tix•R•Us is one of those websites that currently requires its own login for administrators. We are not going to support OpenID for the forseeable future because most of our administrators are not geeks, and at the moment OpenID is still in the geek realm. I'm guessing few if any of them would use it even if it were supported, but it's something to keep an eye on. [...]