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The Curse of Consistency

Say what you like about Chris Crosby, and I know some of you can say a lot: the man is consistent. As long as I've been reading Superosity, and that's been years and years and years at this point, he has never been late, he has never missed an update, and he has never had guest or fan art. The man updates. Since he started writing Sore Thumbs with Owen Gieni's art, that's been rock solid as well on its three day a week schedule.

Well, Crosby didn't update either strip this morning.

At first, I suspected a KeenProblem. Maybe a server went down. Maybe the cron job got screwed somehow. But no, other KeenStrips updated (including Nukees -- another strip known for its rock-solidness, though there have been a couple of times Nukees didn't update because of technical problems, and I can't say that's true of Superosity). So, the system seems to be running... but there's no Crosby strips yet this morning.

This is probably something minor. Misnaming the files as they were uploaded into autokeen, say. Or just a delay. For Christ's sake, after this many years Chris Crosby has earned the right to be late every once in a while, damn it! He's not on trial here!

Only... Crosby never misses an update. Much less two. (And yeah, I assume Crosby's responsible for uploading Sore Thumbs. Even if Gieni does all the post-processing, which I can't swear to but is possible, the likelihood is that Crosby would do one last editorial pass before letting it through.

Now. Cards on the table time. I love Something Positive. You know that. I'm a total Milholland fanboy. But I've gotten used to a certain... randomness... as to when it gets updated. I don't bitch about it, because I'm used to it. (If I had a decent way to do an "Update Time Pool," the way I once tried to do with PvP, I probably would, because I'm a bastard. But I'm a bastard who knows nothing but love!) I love PvP, and you know I've given Kurtz shit over inconsistency of updates. It's part of my whole "when it becomes your job, it becomes your job" thesis. For strips where they aren't the artist's job, like /usr/bin/w00t!, I cut more slack. It's no big. They'll give us what they have time to give us. But in any case, if I happen to glance at Something Positive or PvP or /usr/bin/w00t! or any of a dozen other strips and they don't update on "time," I don't give it a second thought. It's within my realm of expectation.

But I don't expect Superosity not to update. Superosity always updates on time!

So... now I'm worried. The man moved from California to South Dakota. It's November. It's not outside the realm of possibility that he's frozen to death in a flash blizzard. He wouldn't know how to dress for the weather. He's an innocent in the Cold Miser's domain, damn it!

Plus, how do we know the good people of Carlsbad know how to drive? He might be used to city street gridlocks. He might not expect a high school senior in his first five year old Jetta doing eighty down Main Street. I'm from a tiny-ass rural town. I know the risks! But Chris Crosby doesn't! Damn it! Why doesn't he call or write or let me know he's just running a little late! I'll bet he's out partying with his friends again! I slave and slave and slave and slave....

And, when it turns out that hey, he overslept and wasn't feeling great and decided to update this morning instead of last night, or that he sent stuff to the wrong directory, or whatever, I'm going to be unreasonably, indefensibly, unstoppably pissed. I don't expect this from him!

It's incredibly unfair, because he's earned the right to be late every now and again. But consistency of updating is a blessing and a curse alike.

And if there is some kind of serious problem, I'm going to feel like the world's biggest asshole for writing this post. Just so you know that I know.


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No worries! He's updated! Everything is A-OK! (I'm not sure what time he updated though. It's currently 8.20 PST, if that helps. Once in a while he's late, depending if you define his deadline as Midnight PST, and he usually updates between 2-5a Pacific (yes, I work nights, why do you ask?). So, uh, yeah. Maybe he just forgot to upload the strips or something when he went to bed. (I think that's happened once before. Back in 1896, when the servers were running off of coal; Mr. Crosby got himself the Coal Lung and had to retire early, but was up bright and early with the day's strip! He is a hero to us all!)

I take responsibility for this one. There was a resource conflict last night that caused the sites updating on one of our servers (not the server Nukees is on) to go very slowly. Before I went to bed (at about one in the morning), I made sure all the initial front pages were updated and let the slow queue that had built up take care of the archive pages. Chris often uploads his strip at one or two in the morning, and with that backup, he may have gotten stuck behind that long queue, which worked itself out by 8am.

And so my faith in the universe is restored.

I can cope with technical problems. They happen. I work with computers, just like you do.

But Chris Crosby not updating? No way.

Whew! I spent all day today trying to solve about three different technical problems which all turned out, in the end, to be different facets of the same problem.

The Autokeen system is smart enough to not update a page unless that page has been changed in the past couple of days (or contains features that need to be updated). Because many of our sites (mine included as of this week) have over 1,000 comic strips, this is necessary so that it doesn't take 8 hours to update every site at Keenspot.

Well, recently, I had to reorganize everyone's accounts to different user id numbers, and then change the ownership of everyone's files to the new user id numbers. Didn't think it would have any effect.

What happened was that the "last modification time" of every file at Keenspot was changed, and thus Autokeen dutifully has been updating every single page at Keenspot, thinking they are all newly changed. Thus, it took 8-10 hours to get through all the updates. Most people didn't notice, because I took steps to update the front pages, but as I mentioned, Chris typically updates very late at night and missed my corrective efforts.

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