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McFlapFlap

So we've been with Site5 for 3 1/2 days and we're already crippling the shared server we're on. There's a set "usage point" limit of 450. Regardless of a definition  or basis to understand what this number means, on Monday we used 13,450 of our 450 usage limit. We soared past it easily on Sunday as well. My slowest day of the week. So we're in a purgatory. The site's popular enough to be expensive to maintain, but not established enough to pay for itself (via ads.) We're going to have to turn to a dedicated server for the site to keep it going. They gave me, like, 6 days to lower the usage (since "Unlimited Bandwidth" only applies to Family Newsletter blogs.) This isn't a hard date by any means, but judging by Sunday, there's not a chance in hell that's going to happen. I talked with Jessica and James and I may be turning to Kickstarter for the sole purpose of funding the hosting costs. This is still up in the air, and aside from all the ridiculous Tier Goals we came up with, I'd like to hear from many of you. What could I offer to you (amounts aren't needed, just the ideas) that would make you willing to donate? I don't have a lot of time myself to peruse others campaigns, but give me suggests some of you have seen, of have thought of yourself. I also got emailed a fanart I've been sitting on from a reader in Sweden. It's everyone's favorite 2 things in one thing, by Rinzley. rinzley

133 thoughts on “McFlapFlap

    1. I suspect that if it could give advice, your answer would’ve been the question, “Normal for you, or normal for most people?”

        1. It’s an “All in the Family” reference. Archie would occasionally say “Stifle, Edith” when he wanted Edith to keep quiet on a certain point.

      1. Never keeping a bird in the house again. Those things are terrible, always crashing into stuff and flying around in various arcs. Don’t even get me started on what happens if you raise pigs. It’s like they have some kind of homicidal rage stored up and they release it specifically against pigs. I’ve never seen so much hate for bacon come from a bird.

  1. Might I suggest IPNS.com for a new web host. I’ve been with them in one form or another for over ten years and am quite happy with their service. They can handle your bandwidth issues just fine. For instance, last month I had 155,000 unique visits and 233 GB of download bandwidth.

    1. If you did 233 gigs of traffic, that would be their Diamond Plus account at $130 a month. And if you did 155k unique visits in a month, that would be about 5k a day which is quite a lot less than 13+k that these folks did.

      The problem isn’t bandwidth. Any decent host can handle traffic amounts as most of them assume that the average user isn’t going to come any where near their allowance which is going to help those who go sky high. The problem is the number of folks visiting at one time. It’s probably overloading Site5’s Apache server and that’s making it harder for the other folks on the same server.

  2. Where is the appropriate place to comment regarding any potential Kickstarter? Should we do it here or would you prefer a direct-email?

      1. A smaller step before going the Kickstarter route could be doing monthly donation drives towards the server fees, offering an exclusive drawing or computer wallpaper to those who donate over a set amount. A lot of webcomics do something similar. The problem with using Kickstarter is it’s lump sum, you need something sustainable.

        1. I think you’re talking about Grrl Power and I’m not sure, I must have stopped reading it before that incentive system showed up. The glacial pace of the comic was killing me. I think it was close to three years of real time at the point I stopped reading and they were still chronicling the FIRST afternoon where the superhero’s discovered the main character. I’m patient but not that patient.

        2. The site is patreon.com . I’ve also seen that used by Wapsi Square and Skin Deep. I’m thinking some others started too, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.

        3. I’m slow, I didn’t make the connection until Chris specifically typed “Jessica and James.” Then I was like “that’s awesome.”

  3. Well some of my ideas would be
    Non-pervy:
    Commission drawing
    Autograph Character card
    Guest spot in the comic(as a character, non essential to the story)
    An invite to an AMA event
    Pervy Ideas
    Dirty Commission Drawing
    Pin-Up style Character Card
    Guest appearance as a love interest for one of the characters

    Just some ideas

    1. And for an extra $100, we won’t e-mail your mom and tell her you spent money to have yourself appear as a comic strip character’s love interest.

      1. It’s not shocking that Juniper has money–it’s shocking that Juniper would spend her money on anyone other than herself.

        1. I considered it more encouraging than shocking. I don’t expect Juniper to ever be a truly “redeemed” character, but I still like seeing aspects of her are.

        2. What the… How did my response to Steve’s other post end up here? Now it looks like I’m contributing to an imaginary conversation.

      1. Ask Me Anything, I believe; a moot point since you pretty much already answer all questions as they show up.

        Oh, and choose carefully; as some characters’ love interest, you may end up diseased, disappeared under mysterious circumstances, plagued by ninjas, or just locked in the cellar dressed up as Santa Claus.

  4. Chris, it looks like you may look for another web hosting company. How much are you paying right now per month and how much GB of bandwidth do you need? Also, are you using a particular technology to power your site?

    1. That is a point, that different hosting services will use different metrics.

      If you find one that specializes in WordPress with a specific backend and you can conform to it might be cheaper. VMware ESX/ESXi will re-use the same physical RAM across multiple VMs on the same host where the page is identical. If all your servers run the same stack you can shove a lot more VMs on one piece of physical hardware (which also has the benefit of cutting power use), have better comprehensive monitoring tools, and hire fewer/less expensive admins for care and feeding.

      Not that I know anything about specific hosting firms, just bits and pieces about how the tech they may use works. I do inhouse sysad work and outsourcing wouldn’t be practical unless the project also required the kind of massively weird environment that’d have way too much cost for things you wouldn’t care about.

  5. I’m kinda shocked that it’s shocking that Juniper has her own money. But then we know so little about Juniper that this may really not be all that shocking.

    Still, I love this bird. The comic potential is delightful. Give it to the adorable tot in your life, and let it tell said tot “You know that Elmo guy? I ate him last night. He’s with me now. They all float down here. They alllll floooooooat.”

  6. FWIW, I’ve noticed a lot of the web comics I read are turning to Patreon (www.patreon.com) lately. Looks like it works similar to Kickstarter in that it’s a crowdfunding site and creators offer rewards to people who pledge certain amounts, but it seems a lot more suited to something ongoing (like a web comic), as opposed to a single, one-time project (like publishing a web comic in a book).

    In either case, I strongly recommend you watch the SMBC Patreon video (if you haven’t) – http://www.patreon.com/zachweinersmith – and watch this video on why his Patreon was so successful (he got about $7k a month pledged in 4 days) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X10kp77UJHE – there are some brilliant tips there, regardless of how you choose to proceed.

    1. The thing I like about that phrase is all the other birds on the shelf behind her that unsuspecting parents will pick up that may have been close enough to overhear.

  7. o.O okay…going to step away from that one lol

    As for what could be done as an incentive to get people to donate, you could borrow a page from Blue Milk Special, the Star Wars parody web comic.

    They have special pages that only those who donate get to see (via e-mail I believe) and special art for those who donate specific amounts individually, stock Post Cards (which are mailed to the individual) most of the time, but they will do requests if the person gives a sizable donation.

    1. Are you suggesting that children DON’T enjoy Tim Curry references?

      Man…there goes my children’s book idea, “Goodnight Pennywise.”

      1. I was referring to what the bird said in pannel 3 actually being what I was going to step away from lol

        The bird itself I can see humor from it if Elle keeps it around, Mister Fatty McFatFat accidently (or on purpose) recording bits and pieces that the roommates hear out of context.

        1. Oh, good…I can still put it on. It’s a pop-up book! The last page is Pennywise’s hand, waving good night.

          And yes, that would be funny, with McFatFat using the bird as an espionage tool. Though that assumes the bird is for Ellie….

      2. My brother didn’t, and man did I get in trouble for just trying to show him this cool miniseries that was on TV. Mom tells me that I was genuinely mystified that he was frightened (I don’t think he was older than 7 at the time).

        1. That’s a rough age for appreciating horror films. I remember being insanely jealous of my father who actually saw the original House on Haunted Hill in theaters, complete with the skeleton that dangled out over the audience. I was like, “that is so cool, I wish I could have seen it,” and I could not understand why to this day his reaction to that movie is “I never cared for it.” Eventually he explained to that the only reason he saw the film in theaters is because his older sister dragged him to it when she was supposed to be baby sitting him and he was only eight years old, and thus terrified of the movie. I still think he was lucky to have been able to experience a moment in movie history like that though.

        2. Amusing side note about me not being able to understand my brother being afraid of IT is apparently an older cousin used to watch some TV series that played horror movies where the host was pale painted and I’d be around and watching it enough that I had a fear of clowns for a while from that. I think my mom said “Dr Creep” was his name, but I don’t remember it myself.

  8. So I made one comment about Kickstarter/Patreon, but either it was blocked or is awaiting moderator approval. I’m hoping the latter (despite the absence of the comment with the text “awaiting moderator approval”), since I feel (in a totally biased way) that it had some good advice.

    Anyway, you were asking for tips for kickbacks – most web comics I’ve seen seem to promise original sketches or prints of their characters. Some also offer to draw the person themselves – you could even offer to give people cameos in the comic if they pledge high enough (probably very few of these), maybe even letting their cameo briefly meet their favorite character or something. For example, if it were me, I’d want to meet Ellie. I wouldn’t have a say in how we meet, but I’d certainly hope that she’d be just arriving at a restaurant (to meet Blind Guy or… Quinn, perhaps?) and I’d be sitting at a nearby table and she’d ask me if anyone was sitting in the extra chair at my table and I’d reply “Abbabbababababa…” and then the manager would call the police.

    1. Looks like I am out of the spam filters and back to posting silly comments for all the world or at least the subset of the world that frequents this website to read.

      Thanks Rusche!

      1. True, you can barely see her dark circles. They’re almost more dark dashes now.

        I do like seeing her care about something. I’m guessing that’s for her biological child.

        Cinn and Juniper are the two least likable characters, and I really do just outright dislike Cinn in pretty much every way that comes up and everything she does. With Juniper, it’s more that I have respect for her capability if she wanted to do something, but no faith in the choices she makes. So it’s nice to see her heading in a positive direction now and again.

  9. You need to move away from shared hosting. You’re going to get the same response from pretty much provider offering up “unlimited” amounts. Having ran the WordPress Multiuser support forums for a couple of years, this was something we had to beat into folks’ heads over and over again. There is no such thing as “unlimited” webhosting. (And if you have someone saying that they do, ask them if you can import the entire contents of geocities into one of their accounts. That’s 640gigs of data.)

    May I politely suggest a VPS? With most VPS providers, you have direct access to the processor (Or at least a set number of them if on a multiple processor server most of these folks use) so that way there’s no real limit with folks visiting you. You can get a cheap one for usually under 10 bucks a month. I won’t make any suggestions here so not to sound like I’m trying to promote one provider over another but I would be happy to discuss them. My email is attached to this comment.

    At the very least I have an WordPress Multiuser install sitting on a underutilized VPS (I use it mostly to get around the firewall at the library. They quite often block Google for some strange reason…) and would be happy to offer up a site to get you away from Site5 until you can decide on what you want to do. Or even as a test if you want to set up a www2.* install and redirect to that. Again my email is attached.

    For reference, this is me:

    http://mu.wordpress.org/forums/profile/27889

    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/profile/drmike

    Hope I can help :)
    -drmike

    1. Hey Doctor, I did a bunch of looking into various options a while back and I’m sure things have changed since then, but I have a VPS that I’ve been considering ditching in favor of shared hosting and your comment seems to contradict my thoughts on the issue.

      My main reason for wanting to switch is that I’m tired of being my own sysadmin, which seems to just be my fate with VPS. I don’t want to deal with config files and install patches and all of that nonsense, so the idea of shared hosting (albeit, probably some of the higher-end options) is looking pretty attractive to me.

      You seem to know what you’re talking about, so after telling me precisely how crazy I am for wanting to switch away from VPS, do you have ideas on how I might continue using VPS without being obligated to perform sysadmin duties? I’d like to be able to run some simple content management (like WordPress or Drupal or something), and maybe also a forum.

      Also, sorry Rusche, after earning my way off the spam filter, for turning your comments section into a tech support page. Although maybe my questions are relevant to your current situation perhaps?

      1. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like doing the sysadmin stuff, and I’m good at it when I can really dedicate the time to it, but… I don’t have sufficient time to dedicate to the task so as to stay up to date. Or at least not such that I can act as my own sysadmin and also create the content I want.

        1. A lot of systems have automated patching, and the hassle/breaking things issues are usually big upgrades and not the daily ones. I know Ubuntu in the past several years asks during the install if you want automatic upgrades and Scientific Linux 6 turns it on by default. If you can find a repo with versions of WordPress and the plugins you care about for your distro and you have a low level of concern security-wise, that can be set as a “set it and forget it” sort of option.

          For the big upgrades install VirtualBox on your local system and install the new version and get it working before you jump. You’ve got 6-12 months between new major version releases and old release end of support with most distros. I think a Red Hat clone, Ubuntu LTS (even year .04 releases), and Debian (pick current stable but use name, not “stable”) would all work for this. For your site config folders, check all your config files into git and use git to clone your config to several other systems and also keep your change history. Keep backups of your content too (buying 2 USB hard drives and storing one at a friend or relative’s house and swapping every 1-6 months is plenty for most people reliability-wise). Use DNS blackhole to block firewall access to anything listening externally other than port 80 (or 443 if you do SSL/TLS) and run ssh and any of your other management services on arbitrary ports above 10k, setup fail2ban for ssh and maybe consider something tripwirish if you really want to be a completionist. Definitely some upfront work, but as long as you aren’t handling any financial or personal data or are things that people will ideologically want to attack, you’ll be fine to just set it and forget it.

          If you’re not comfortable with Linux and are a Windows person, then you have a few more issues, but you can still auto-update most apps and should be able to script out others. PowerShell is decently capable for scripting, and you can use AutoIT (separate from Windows, but GPL and free) if you need graphical scripting. Granted, you may be in a situation where it’s hard to get text dumps or even small binary blobs with your config data to backup with git, and some of the network fun bits are less supported too, but as long as you’re low sensitivity a lot can sit in the “not worrying about it, it’s not THAT big of a deal” category.

        2. Cool thanks that’s a lot of info.

          Yeah, I’ve always been curious about auto-patching, mostly because if something does break due to a patch that was installed automatically, it’s likely to do it when I don’t have time to fix it. Of course, if I keep my customizations simple, I suppose the risks of that happening are low. Also – occasionally patches require reboots… but maybe there are settings that say only reboot at certain times, or only install patches that require reboots manually? Never really looked into that, but auto-patching may be the only way to go.

          My current VPS is running Debian, and I actually use Linux almost exclusively at home, so yeah, pretty comfortable with it. I’ve wanted to learn git or bzr, but again, I don’t really have time I’m willing to devote to getting up to speed with them.

          I don’t know – still on the fence – I have a few months before I’m looking at setting something up, maybe I’ll have to give it a whirl again. Maybe start with a fresh install and go from there…?

        3. Well, I can tell you that the auto-patching on Scientific Linux 6 won’t patch things that require a reboot and you have to do it automatically. Ubuntu 12.04 will patch it and every time you log in it’ll say “Reboot required” in your MOTD but I’ve let some run for months with that and had no ill effects.

          Your customizations past default packages are your major issues with autoupdates. If all you do is in the repos and things generally supported, then you’re good. On the other hand, if you install a program from the repos, say Firefox as an easy example, and then use the app to install a plugin, pick your favorite extension. When the repos update the app, the extension may or may not support the update, but should in a while when the extension author updates to support the newest version of the app. Really it depends on the degree of care for the extension. It gets worse if your customization is more old school than that, but I think you know that if you’re leery of autoupdate. It should be noted that most of my use cases are very utilitarian, so my types of customizations might be less severe than yours. An additional bit is that some updates won’t take effect until the service (or system) is restarted, so you may have some ability to test on a local system before doing those restarts to avoid downtime.

          However, all that boils down to tradeoffs in security, reliability, maintenance ease (i.e. you can’t have all three). That’s where it gets a lot easier if you aren’t too worried about a few hours of downtime and you don’t have anything of particular value if someone breaks in (past needing to clean up any drive-by downloads they were pushing off your site or things of that nature).

          As for git, I haven’t done a lot myself, but using it to back up your /etc directory and a few other critical places is fairly simple. If you’ve used any other version control you can think of git as similar but everything is potentially a master repository and you can merge anything in any direction. So you make your changes to a test VM and verify. Once you’re happy, merge to your production server and restart services and verify. Once you’re happy there merge the production server copy to all your backup copies (USB hard drives, other servers, desktop workstation, etc) and then you’ve got all your backups. Merging won’t be any different than a normal check-in with other version control as there won’t have been changes. I’ve never touched bzr, but I’d imagine you can do with a similar methodology.

          When you’ve got the time, a fresh install is useful to make sure you remember all your dependencies and where you’re keeping everything you need. I still have a MediaWiki instance at work I need to go track down where it stashed some uploads on the old system and get that working again (just hasn’t been critical and haven’t had the time). It’s definitely helpful for validating you’re backing up all you need to back up.

  10. I think an extra offer to not have Tarra email you parents would be hilarious. Plus, considering how meta or “451” Your fans have gotten, might be taken as a legit threat.

  11. She’s trying, give her a break! I am personally proud of her. Not immensely so, but still, tis an improvement. KEEP IT UP JUNI!!

      1. I doubt she’s going to be motivated enough to try to be a better person in general, but I do like seeing that she cares enough to try for some things in life.

  12. Cute fan art! and from Sweden too! Oooooooooo!!

    also, Juniper is so adorable in this one…it…..it makes me a little sad….sigh

    But still funny. Haaahaa.

    1. That fan art is very adorable. And yea, laughing at Juniper in todays strip is one of those guilty laughs. Like when someone makes fun of Detroit and you laugh but then feel bad because it’s too easy to pick on Detroit and then you think of how bad it really is and why that makes the whole thing not really funny but then you chuckle again anyway. Poor Juniper, her tragedy should not be so comedic!

      1. Sir, I’m from Michigan. You may rest assured that WE laugh at Detroit. Although often the laughter is followed by sadness that we can’t, as yet, just shove it into Lake Huron in the grandest Snake Plissken tradition.

        1. Aye, fellow Michigander. We laugh long and loud in Detroit’s direction. It would be lovely if we could evacuate it, then nuked back to the stone age. Pretty much the only way too deal with that mess, really.

        2. As an Ohio resident, I can’t speak on Detroit, but I can say that I’ve long thought that with Cleveland the best thing to do would be herd everyone out, burn it to the ground, and start over. I could be convinced that other Ohio cities needed that too, it’s just Cleveland was the one that really hit the sore nerve for me.

          I remember when the Drew Carey show was on TV and every time I heard the opening music (song “Cleveland Rocks”) I always had the urge to scream “LIES!!!!” in a stereotypical female German dominatrix voice.

        3. Before you torch Cleveland salvage the Rock and Roll hall of fame. Or at least let me loot Johnny Ramones guitar first.

        4. I’m not against salvaging valuable possessions, or maybe moving or even protecting the occasional odd building. It’s more just that driving through Cleveland it just seemed that a lot of it was way past soap and bleach and toward the realm where only fire can make it clean again.

        5. The people were just random city people like you’d expect in any city, not particularly more awful human beings than you’d expect in any other similar sampling, so I never had any ill will to the people of Cleveland, but otherwise the environment of city itself was definitely my bane for the years I was there.

        6. No, but I didn’t disagree with 30 Rock’s attitude that “In Cleveland, I’m a model.” That joke would’ve been perfectly fine with women much less attractive than Tina Fey (to be fair, not an absolute attractiveness thing, just more a living day-after-day in the unrelenting gloom tends to reduce the concern/effort for kind of a lot of things, definitely including superficial appearance things).

  13. That is adorable! Anyways, Chris, even if you manage to solve your bandwidth issue, a kickstarter project would still be a good way to get the comic out there. Also, is there any way you can increase the frequency that ads for your site appear? You could also promote more heavily through facebook and deviantart. Idk currently if there is a shotgun shuffle page but I’m sure you could rope the wiki-mods into making one and moderating it.

  14. I love the last panel. It’s perfect. Juniper’s goofy expression, the “yeahhhh” and the thought of what frame of mind/level of intoxication she was in where she thought a talking plush toy might possibly be capable of giving advice. But if she commonly solicits advice from childrens toys it goes a long way towards explaining her track record of ” wrong choice every time.”

      1. COUGHtagCOUGH

        Excuse me.

        [Also thanks Steve for the expression method for doing this textually instead of verbally I’m shamelessly imitating from last comic’s comments]

  15. I was pondering which sister would want a toy parrot like that, when I got a more serious thought on this comic.

    Is that toy intended for the son Ginger adopted? I mean, this seems at first glance just to be a bit of random silliness, but considering Juniper just re-entered the store after wussing out of talking to Quinn about the boyfriend-stealing thing, when the boyfriend in question was presumably the one who got her pregnant. Maybe rather than talk to Quinn, she decided to do what she thought was the next best thing and buy her nephew/son a gift.

    1. If so that is far more responsible behavior than I had currently believed Juniper was capable of. The first step on the path to redemption? Of course assuming she clears the burning pee question from the toy before gifting.

      1. I imagine Juniper has some issues regarding the nephew/son. While she is far from a fit parent, and really not a parent at all since Ginger is his mother now, but she will probably favor the hell out of him compared to Ginger’s other kids. It’s not like she can just forget that she carried and gave birth to him, after all. Hence, he’s probably going to be getting more gifts from her than the other kids, and this may raise some issues with Ginger because I don’t think Ginger would want the kids to get suspicious, or just feel neglected.

        1. I’d bet Ginger plans on some late gifts for Tag in case Juniper doesn’t carry through in a specific year, has Juniper call it “from the family” sort of thing, and balances gifts for the others with “from the family” gifts to avoid drawing attention. Maybe there’s an assigned “nephew gift” from various sisters and Juniper gets first dibs on Tag every year.

          Also as irritated as Ginger might get with Juniper, I wouldn’t think she’d carry that to deliberately discouraging something that is actually in a redemptive direction (i.e. giving enough of a damn to crawl out of her apathy and show some maternal concern/feelings). As long as Juniper’s tendencies are healthy, both for her and Tag, I’d expect the worst reaction from Ginger to be a tight-lipped keeping her mouth shut.

  16. First thing that I hate to say, but I rationally think you’ll need to consider, is bumping the comic from three days/week to two days/week and re-allocate the time to rewards or production of item for Kickstarter. From what you’ve said in the past about your schedule, I can’t imagine you can keep your current schedule and still have time for any rewards to require any work from you. You can always make the comics bigger if you have time. I really hate to say that, because I’m selfish and want to seek my own gratification of more comics more frequently, but realistically it seems like a likely necessity.

    I’d actually suggest fairly strongly against Kickstarter, unless you want to plan to release something to make it about, such as a book. For one thing, there’s a tendency/expectation for it to be about something being produced. For another, a failed attempt at fundraising through Kickstarter leaves you with no help and time wasted.

    I’d go the Patreon route, with something like:
    $1/month – you have my gratitude
    $3/month – I post comics a day in advance where you can see them before the general public
    $5/month – previous plus free ebook version of first book when released
    $10/month – previous plus custom inked sketch of a character in a reasonable situation with the option of including you in the sketch
    $15/month – previous but with colored sketch
    $20/month – previous plus include you as a background character in a comic now and then (restaurant patron, person at bus stop, shopper fleeing in terror).
    $50/month – previous but your character is a recurring background character (not someone with story significance, but just the neighbor Ellie frequently waves to as she comes home, or the student answering questions in class or a study partner with Richard, etc).

    Patreon also has goals for total/month raised. I’d put the “server paid for” up there, and you should probably put a “I can afford to quit and do this comic full time which = 5 updates/week” type goal as one you don’t expect to ever hit but that you’ll put up. I’d try to come up with some in between too, if possible. Maybe one being something like “will look into hiring someone to color what I draw so I can push updates to 3 or 4 times/week” (not sure which is more realistic). Maybe you could make another one being something about setting up a page where you’ll post once/week an odd trivia bit about a character which could be anywhere from one sentence to a few pages (for example one sentence might be another of Anise’s quirks, a few pages might be the story of what inspired Juniper’s interest in photography).

    I’d also start working on some merch. T-shrits, mugs, prints, etc. I know Wapsi Square puts the original drawings for strips up for sale. Having the merch in your own store will take more time and effort, but a few quick forays could be done with services where you submit the art and they sell the item if enough people order in a week and share profits.

    All these will obviously need to be tweaked to fit what’s appropriate for you and the direction of this comic. Just my thoughts for where I’d start were I in your shoes. Also, I’d probably feel bad about thinking most of these things, but I’d likely ultimately end up thinking it’s either something I’m not real happy about or not being able to do the comic.

  17. I’m trying to think of plot twists involving the bird.

    The present is for Quinn and Juniper’s going to program it to say “I’m sorry.”

    Tarra winds up recording her voice on it then using it as a distraction against X.

    The iCloud tries to data dump in it, causing it to become self-aware, thus Skynet is created…and stuck sitting on someone’s shelf going “Awk!” at random intervals.

    Juniper needs it to be her familiar in the LARP she joined because she’s secretly a nerd…and she and Quinn bump into each other when Quinn is dragged along by the guys because they need a “cleric,” except Quinn instead goes rogue and backstabs everyone.

    The parrot is going to be reprogrammed to be Juniper’s wingman at the bars she frequents.

    Juniper uses it as a mule to smuggle drus back into Mexico but is busted when the parrot records and plays back her master pan.

    1. Alteration guesses on a few of yours:

      – The present is for Quinn and Juniper’s going to program it to say “I’m sorry.”

      I’m guessing a statement more like: “Actually he was pretty small. No stamina either. You didn’t miss much, well, other than being surprised you didn’t have more than five seconds before you needed to pay attention to get him to pull out.”

      – The parrot is going to be reprogrammed to be Juniper’s wingman at the bars she frequents.

      Not wingman, but will call her cell phone for her excuse to ditch out on someone that she still wants to be able to get to buy her food and alcohol in the future.

      – Juniper uses it as a mule to smuggle drus back into Mexico but is busted when the parrot records and plays back her master pan.

      That’s when Cinn borrows it.

  18. One thing you’ll want to have installed with WordPress is “Super Cache”, you can find it in the plug-in listing. It won’t protect you from a dingy web server, but it might cut down on hosting costs.

  19. Rusche, regarding the type of things members are willing to pay for, have you thought about contacting other webcomic authors? For instance, Gunnergrik Court’s author Tom Siddell has an online shop. He may give you information about what’s selling and what is not.

    I was thinking of ways to get more readers, but the downside is that it would mean more bandwidth.

    1. More readers means more bandwidth but it also will be what eventually tips the balance towards Chris being able to make the comic self sustaining and eventually even a source of income. So more readers is never really a bad thing.

  20. Well if we are shooting out suggestions on how to make the comic some cash and if you had the time for it commissions could help. You set up the prices and what you are willing to do and I got one would hit that offer up.

  21. Chris one thing I was thinking about: I notice that whenever I go directly to the main URL, it loads up the comments section, but it only started doing this recently – it used to just say “9000 comments” or however many, and I’d have to click that to get to the comments section.

    This is only a thought, as I’m not entirely familiar with the inner workings of WordPress (like how well it caches things like comments sections) and I have no idea of the number of visitors fitting this description, but if you have a lot of readers who just come for the comic and don’t read the comments, it’s still loading the entire comments section for these people. Like I said, it’s only a guess (Jessica or That One Guy – you know which one I mean – might be able to provide more insight as it sounds like they have more experience with these things), but this could be one of several reasons your current web host’s “usage point” measurement is so high.

    It might be a way to optimize the site, regardless of wherever it ends up. Just a thought. And now that I’ve posted this I can stop thinking about it.

    1. Jessica much more than me.

      I’m a sysadmin with care and feeding of some Windows, more Linux, rare Solaris, and the occasional VMware or Citrix VM server who’s done software development development in the past, supports software developers in the present and occasionally has to lock arbitrary things down for various reasons allowing one thing but disallowing others with a continuously changing subset. I don’t actually know much about specific modern web frameworks (have never touched WordPress from an admin side, for example), I’ve just had to play with the OS, webservers, app servers, databases, and scripting languages that live undeneath such things. Makes it easier to pick up if I need to, but when it comes to off-the-top-of-my-head answers about it I’ve got nothing.

      But this is what I was saying about finding a hosting provider that specializes in WordPress hosting being cheaper. If you put me working there, I’d figure it out and do a good job, but it’d take some time to get up to speed and I’d be slow for a while. Eventually, I’d know 95+% of the problems off the top of my head, and be able to solve most things fast and have a lot automated. Put me in a diverse environment and I’ve got that learning curve with 75+% of the environment so everything takes more time and you have an advantage hiring better people (can get up to speed faster) or more senior people (have seen more in the past so can get up to speed on the differences in similar systems faster) as admins. Both of those cost more than what you could get away with for a very homogenous environment.

  22. I don’t think Juniper has ever had sex at a zoo or with any animals. Also, don’t forget to call a cab there buddies.

    1. I wouldn’t feel confident guessing the absence of many places or participants in regard to Juniper’s sex life.

      I mean, she’s walking around so probably not in the lava of an active volcano or with a resurrected T-Rex that’d just been drugged to be hyperactive and overly aggressive (compared to normal). But even that’s not certain.

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