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News: "God invented Corona and limes just to see drunk people use sharp knives."

Chat logs claim I said this Saturday night.
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16  TZH Discussion / TZH Discussion / Re: Today's Comic on: August 27, 2013, 09:34:06 am
We currently have no conventions scheduled this year.
17  General Discussion / General Discussion / Re: The Anti-Peeve rides again! on: August 22, 2013, 08:49:33 am
Keep that one, Nerd- her powers of bargainhunting are great!

18  TZH Discussion / TZH Discussion / Re: Today's Comic on: August 22, 2013, 08:46:26 am

This kickstarter's doing so well so far, we'll probably be able to do book 3 next year... just cross your fingers and help spread the good word Smiley

The more people help spread the word for the kickstarter, the better we all do! It's been amazing and exciting so far... I'm just floored by how fast the redshirts and the survivor have been going.
19  General Discussion / General Discussion / Re: PP: Not having a Pet Peeves thread. on: August 20, 2013, 06:10:22 am
I think this may be more of my nerves being suffocated by inflammation, but I'm going to see an orthopedic doc tomorrow, so maybe he might have some advice, like, "no, don't go under the knife yet!" I also have an appointment in a month with a neurologist to test how much of my nerves are dying to see if I'm a candidate for the surgery.

I just don't like the fact that this will be chronic. This bout was set off by helping to lift the side of a riding lawnmower, and if lifting heavy things sets it off, it really limits what kind of jobs I can apply for.
Well, when the inflammation / pressure is released (through the surgery or otherwise), as far as I've ever seen and heard, you get all the feeling back. It's not truly permanent, because it's not that the nerves are dead, just... squished. I guess that's a positive :/

Anyway, I hope it goes well for you, whatever solution they come up with. And my friend had his surgery almost ten years ago, I think, so maybe they've got better methods these days.

PP: I have a stack of books that I haven't found the time to read yet. I don't think we're likely to have a few hours of uninterrupted quiet time 'til September at this rate.

AP: Game of Thrones- we've just started the first season, but so far it's been a really excellent transfer from the books to the show. I haven't read all the books (missed out on the most recent one), but the show hasn't got past where I've read so far either, so that works.
20  General Discussion / General Discussion / Re: PP: Not having a Pet Peeves thread. on: August 10, 2013, 07:30:52 am
Syn- if you can find a competent one in your area, maybe see if you can go to a chiropractor to have him work over your wrists? The swelling *may* be manageable by making sure your wrists are adjusted*.

If the surgery that's done now is similar to the kind our friend had done, it's irreversible, and has some side effects for what he can do with his hands, like strength when manipulating things at certain angles. Though that might be less of an issue for you depending on what you do- for him this is largely limited to fatigue when doing a lot of constant mouse-clicking, and loss of leverage when doing car work from some positions.

I just mention this because Jenny sometimes gets similar symptoms, but so far hers can be managed by visits to the chiropractor and the occasional wrist tape.

*an adjustment is basically just making sure all the bones are lined up in the correct spots. If you've ever cracked your knuckles or popped your back, that's what that is. There're a surprisingly large number of ways your bits and pieces can come out of joint without you necessarily noticing.

PP: Just read yesterday that according to some studies, birds have a flicker threshold around 100Hz. What does this mean? Well, humans have a threshold around 50Hz, give or take a bit. That's why movies shown at 48Hz- that is, 48 frames per second- appear to be more fluid than the conventional Hollywood 24fps. This is also why fluorescent lights (if they're working properly!) appear, to us, to cast a solid light. They're flickering at 60Hz just like the current in the wall outlet, but that's faster than we can readily perceive. Unfortunately, this means that for the birds, fluorescent light is essentially a constant strobe-light effect. Meaning I was a bad pet owner, and my poor birds must've had a rough time of things after we switched to CFLs in our house. They've all since passed away, save an angry African grey owned by my folks, so it's not like I can go and replace all the bulbs for them now. That had to be really uncomfortable Sad
21  TZH Discussion / TZH Discussion / Re: Translating webcomic on: August 06, 2013, 10:25:52 am
Hey, looks like I misfiled your email when I moved us over to Thunderbird*. Sorry about that.

The short answer is that we'd rather you didn't host translations at your own site.

The long answer is, we've got a translation project going here, to get TZH up on this site in other languages. That's stalled out due to some bugs in the UI that wipe various entries when new translations are uploaded- not exactly working as intended yet. I'll probably be able to pick that up again once we've got book 2 out the door.

If you're interested in doing translations that we'll be hosting here when we have the system up and running, send me another email and I'll get you on my list of folks to notify and add as translators. (However, we can't offer actual money- translating TZH would be a labor of love, not a paid position)

As always, we appreciate your interest and dedication to want to do something like that Smiley
22  TZH Discussion / TZH Discussion / Re: Today's Comic on: August 06, 2013, 10:12:34 am
Thanks for the feedback on first book, it was an interesting post and we are all glad you decided to continue Smiley

I just have one question on the book 2 kickstarter : will you do overseas shipping ?

Yep- the reinforced packages are making it overseas without too many problems. That said, the shipping is quite expensive- it's basically the cost of the book again. I wish we could do something about that, but we have no control over shipping costs.

We can put up to two books in a package, though! So if you and a friend decide you both want a book you can split the cost by ordering together.
23  TZH Discussion / TZH Discussion / Re: Today's Comic on: July 24, 2013, 07:23:43 am
Jenny is the powerleveling queen, by the way.

Also, I really enjoy watching this scene play out- it turns that awkwardness up to eleven, you know?
24  TZH Discussion / TZH Discussion / Re: Today's Comic on: July 18, 2013, 07:46:17 am
That's the goal, yeah. A lot of our talks went back and forth over, "do we even want to keep doing this?" and I'm glad we decided to keep going. More than that, I'm glad to be a part of a project where we *can* keep going- our resources were basically all used up, except for Jenny's ability to keep making more comics. But she's able to keep going, keep doing that, and that means now we have more than enough comics to make another book.

Meanwhile, I've been back to school. We live on my education stipend, and work on the business (and my classes). Third time's the charm, right? Cheesy

(First time, I went to university and majored in computer science... after 3 years, said BALLS TO THIS and went into the Army. Second time, I went back to school and got a degree in political science. Which is USELESS, GOOD SIR! And now I'm in college to study business administration. THE GLORIES OF THE SPREADSHEET SHALL BE MINE TO COMMAND!)
25  TZH Discussion / TZH Discussion / Re: Today's Comic on: July 13, 2013, 05:04:45 pm
Thanks- it's been a lot of lessons learned and planning to do better this next time.

There are some positives about book 1- we did make a good, solid, high-quality book... for the ones that survived quality control, anyway. And we can be proud of that, at least. Working on a project like that with Jenny was awesome. Our copy editor continues to be awesome, and we'll be using her services again for book 2. And all of the fans that supported us through *years* of production are completely awesome as well.
26  TZH Discussion / TZH Discussion / Re: Today's Comic on: July 13, 2013, 08:44:31 am
(sorry, long response)

Pretty much, with one caveat: We still have a list of folks whose books were lost/destroyed/whatever, that we want to do right by. That means getting them a refund or getting them a book. Unfortunately that'll cost about $2.5k that we don't have.

Last year we thought, okay, the right thing to do is halt the store and get everything fixed. Which for the most part we were able to do, but we were about $1.8k short of being able to fix all those orders. And with the store shut we weren't drawing in money to do so... then shipping costs got jacked up, and the cost to satisfy the lost orders got jacked up along with it. So that... kinda sucks. Definitely a head-desk sort of moment there- we went from 'hey we can't quite afford this' to 'hey we REALLY can't afford this'.

We talked about it for a long time and decided that we can't get that money unless we carry on and move forward with the business as a whole. The more sales we have, the faster we'll be able to take care of the fans and orders and issues that really need and deserve the best care ever, because you guys are awesome.

Anyway. The issues for book one fall into a couple chunks (laid out with the issue and solutions as I go):

1: Preorder ran *way* too long. Something like 18 months, which meant too many details were out of date, folks had moved, costs rose, etc. etc.

- By using Kickstarter, we can keep the preorder period down to one month. One month, go no/go, and nobody's left hanging wondering about stuff. Also it gives us a platform to address everyone who is involved very conveniently. None of the communication issues. Our quote from the print company is good for 30 days, so no rising costs either.

2: We didn't calculate our shipping costs correctly. We calculated based on the weight of the sample book using a free, padded mailer available from the post office. Those estimates turned out to be very very wrong. The padded mailers resulted in the loss of hundreds of books as they got smashed, split open, lost, whatever in transit. We wound up having to spend money on shipping and materials that we hadn't anticipated, and *because* the books went to ship about two years after the preorder was even started, our calculated costs were way off from where we'd been at the start.

- The 30 day kickstarter also helps here. The shipping costs from the post office are recalibrated in January and June, so those rates will stay the same from when we plan, to when we ship, meaning no surprises. We've learned our lesson on how to ship books, and now we put them in stiff cardboard mailers with added edge protection and corrugated pads on the front/back covers. We also have giant neon stickers that we put on the front and back to warn that the packages shouldn't be bent. It can't stop *all* of the damage, but boy has it cut down on it.

3: Coding errors in the store. I screwed up, and that was my bad. Y'know how we had problems with the shipping above? To make that even worse, the coding for the store wasn't properly handling the preorders, and certain overseas locations (where shipping is the MOST expensive!) were getting free shipping, if they had other items in their cart.

-Sometimes you just have to admit you suck at something and stop doing it. I no longer do any coding for the store, other than for the cosmetics. We pay for another company to handle our store operations, and it's worth it. Similarly, Kickstarter will be handling the work for the preorder. Their code has been written and checked by lots of other people, and they've been used for thousands of projects. We trust that they can do a better job with that than I could.

4: We picked the wrong print company. While we did get multiple bids and recommendations, the quality problems with these books were simply out of control. Out of about 3000 books printed, we had to destroy 2/3 of the shipment as unfit for sale. While we did not pay the *unit costs* for the books we destroyed, we did still have to pay for all of the *fixed costs* associated with production. Which were then applied to a much smaller print run, meaning that our total cost per book was about double what we had originally planned. Which means our profit margin per book is much lower, and that in turn restricted where we can sell the books and still make money.

- We've selected a different printing company. We've seen their work for the books from A Girl And Her Fed, and we like what they can do. They're a known quantity now, more than the other companies we got quotes from before, and we're confident they can handle our next printing.

5: We had no cost controls, and we had a poorly laid out process. The fixed costs for printing covered things like prepress charges, proofing, changing elements in the book, and that sort of thing. Every time we made some change along the way, it added costs and ate up time. For book 1, we actually went to proofing before we ran the book past our copy editor. That meant a HUGE raft of changes that then had to go back to proofing. These changes hugely increased the cost of printing, and added major delays.

- Now knowing what we did wrong, we sat down and charted out all our production timelines. We're minimizing the time needed to produce the book by doing each step in the right order. And then we'll go to proof with the book as it actually needs to be printed, instead of making corrections on the fly.

6: More shipping delays. The print company for book 1 was located in China. On the surface this didn't seem like a problem, since they gave us a better price... but this made every delay that much worse, and the books had to come by boat, and then go through customs, which added something like a month and a half to the process. (It probably didn't help that Jenny and I are both in the border security database because she's *gasp* CANADIAN)

- Our new printer is based in the US. No shipping delays, no customs delays. The books roll out of the factory, onto a truck, and straight to our location.

7: No contingency planning, and no contingency funds. This was our biggest failure in planning. We had no idea what problems we would face with our first book, so we said, okay, we'll deal with them as they come. But we didn't build in any sort of financial buffer to pay for them. This meant all those problems laid out above hit us where it hurt.

- We have a pretty good idea what sort of problems you can have now, that's for sure. And more importantly, we're adding a funding amount to the kickstarter just to handle those problems.

8: No profit!! Seriously, the way we planned book 1, was that the preorder would just *break even*, and we'd use the extra books that we would sell later as a way of making money. So not only did we not get paid for our time in making book 1, this also meant that we had no overage to use when we had problems that exceeded our contingency fund! (the one we set at a lofty ZERO DOLLARS). We've been playing catch-up ever since.

- We're adding a buffer amount here as well, for the kickstarter. Between the contingency fund and the profit, we're shooting for about 30% more than just 'breakeven'. We absolutely expect some of that to get spent on problems that crop up, but that's OKAY. Because we'll *have* it, specially set aside, to spend on those issues.

So, in the end, once book 2 is printed, and shipped, and all the problems are handled... we'll have money left over. That'll be a nice change from being in the hole. Aaaaaaaaaand then we'll spend that money on customer service for book 1.
27  General Discussion / General Discussion / Re: The Anti-Peeve rides again! on: July 04, 2013, 08:05:12 am

AP: The spambot invasion seems to be stopped... FOR NOW.

also AP: fresh baked bread. Both cheaper and tastier than the store-bought kind Smiley
28  General Discussion / General Discussion / Re: Words on paper in this technological world, reading anything? on: July 02, 2013, 07:27:25 pm
Lately I'm reading a bunch of forgotten realms books, to get ready for an upcoming D&D game. The writing is very uneven, depending on who's doing the writing of any given book, but it really does flesh out the world. Azure Bonds was really a fun concept- I love a book that explores the questions of 'what makes a person?', even in the D&D world where you can basically check their character sheet and just get an answer.
29  Forum Community / Introductions / Re: Hi there o/ on: July 02, 2013, 07:24:30 pm
Welcome to the forum! Smiley
30  TZH Discussion / TZH Discussion / Re: Today's Comic on: June 21, 2013, 06:44:26 pm
Given what the female characters are 'wearing', I'm going to go with whatever the Korean version of 'drunken frat boys' is.
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