Tag Archive | Kickstarter

Blockchain is a solution in search of a problem

Someone showed the Kickstarter board a fancy PowerPoint presentation with lots of big numbers, they ran to invest a bunch of their own funds in a blockchain without stopping to ask their own devs if the tech had any value for what the site actually does, and now they’re desperately trying to justify it after-the-fact.

…that’s my current running theory, anyway.

More analysis of Kickstarter’s announcement here — including a bunch of background explanation, for people who still aren’t following what all the new tech terms mean.

When companies announce a vague “shift to blockchain” with no specific idea what they’re doing: “Back in 2017, we reported on the bizarre story of the Long Island Iced Tea Company rebranding itself as the Long Blockchain Corp. […] Now the Securities and Exchange Commission has revoked Long Blockchain’s stock registration, effectively banning the general public from trading its shares altogether.”

The big fraud in the heart of “Web3” discourse: “The cryptocurrency web3 starts with all our existing infrastructure. So I still need a DNS name, I still need a server, I still need storage, and I still have a distributed computation occurring between the browser and the server. So already I haven’t removed any of the gatekeepers from the conventional distributed system, showing the claims of gatekeeper-free decentralization are false. Web3 is only about adding an additional layer of complexity in the name of justifying the underlying cryptocurrencies.

Problem links about NFTs/”cryptoart” specifically

A few days after the Kickstarter announcement, I got my first alert through DeviantArt Protect that an NFT is linking to one of my drawings without my permission. So it’s been an inauspicious week for blockchain news all around.

(As of this writing, the NFT-selling site is entirely ignoring the copyright claim…but I do appreciate DA for alerting me that it was happening at all. This is what a site that actually cares about its creative users looks like!)

A breakdown of what NFTs are — in straightforward terms, not in wild/ridiculous metaphors. (Which, to be clear, aren’t wrong — it’s just that I know many people don’t find them helpful.)

My days of regularly sharing this link are coming to a middle: Here Is The Article You Can Send To People When They Say “But The Environmental Issues With Cryptoart Will Be Solved Soon, Right?”

You couldn’t store the actual digital artwork in a blockchain; because of technical limits, records in most blockchains are too small to hold an entire image. Many people suggested that rather than trying to shoehorn the whole artwork into the blockchain, one could just include the web address of an image […] Seven years later, all of today’s popular NFT platforms still use the same shortcut. This means that when someone buys an NFT, they’re not buying the actual digital artwork; they’re buying a link to it. And worse, they’re buying a link that, in many cases, lives on the website of a new start-up that’s likely to fail within a few years. “

2020: “The developers of non-fungible token project NiftyMoji pulled an exit scam as they have closed the official website, all social media and dumped their tokens on the market. Also the associated Coinbreeder accounts have vanished. The developers ran off with an estimated amount of one million dollars.

Alternately, the link could get replaced with something else. Say, a bunch of random photos of rugs: “I just pulled the rug at my NFT collection on @opensea. Nobody got hurt. It is pretty easy to change the jpg, even if it does not belong to me or it is on auction. I am the artist, my decision, right?”

“The Billion Dollar Torrent,” as it’s called, reportedly includes all the NFTs on the Ethereum and Solana blockchains. These files are bundled in a massive torrent that points to roughly 15 terabytes of data. Unpacked, this adds up to almost 20 terabytes.”

Problem links about blockchains in general

Things crypto evangelists don’t like to talk about: “During a hard fork, software implementing bitcoin and its mining procedures is upgraded; once a user upgrades their software, that version rejects all transactions from older software, effectively creating a new branch of the blockchain. However, those users who retain the old software continue to process transactions, meaning that there is a parallel set of transactions taking place across two different chains.

In other words: there isn’t one single, central version of Bitcoin. It has multiple versions, and they’re mutually incompatible with each other. And yet, some people still believe blockchain is the magic bullet that will make every website interoperable. Suuuure.

Also, if you’re hearing anyone talk about how miraculous and unhackable anything blockchain is:

November 2017: “On November 19, 2017, more than $30 million worth of Tether tokens were removed from the official Tether Treasury wallet by malicious hackers. Due to this security breach, Tether has executed a newly hard forked version of the Omni Core code, which powers the Tether network. Why? Because this code refused to transact any of the stolen tokens.”

December 2021: “One of BitMart’s addresses currently shows steady outflows of entire token balances, some worth tens of millions of dollars, to an address currently labeled by Etherscan as the “BitMart Hacker.” In a follow-up tweet, PeckShield estimated the losses to be $100 million in various cryptocurrencies on the Ethereum blockchain and $96 million on Binance Smart Chain.”

“it is not new to me. im a distributed systems engineer & programmer. ive been building shit like this for decades i serve a playerbase larger than most countries and have built networks spanning the globe. blockchain is old news. it is my job to find new technologies and use them if they’re better. these are not. they are bad, embarrassingly bad.”

these issues have been documented on support forums for years, idk why Dell hasn’t patched them

Sunday: ran a standard Windows 10 update

Monday: discovered the camera had disappeared. Again. (Error code 0xa00f4244.)

Also, after months of good behavior, the machine started unpredictably rebooting to a diagnostic that ended on this screen. Again.

Tuesday: surrendered to the constant reminders and upgraded to Windows 11. Everything looks a little weird (suddenly all the corners are round?), but nothing new is broken. Paint Shop Pro still works. Had to install new drivers for my Epson scanner, but once it had them, it was happy.

Still no camera, though.

Wednesday: rebooted into the BIOS to find out if the “Integrated Camera” option had gotten un-checked. Nope, it was fine. Booted back to Windows without changing a single option — it specifically asked “do you want to save changes” and I said no.

…and now the camera works?

It seems, uh. Deeply improbable that “just look at the BIOS options without editing anything” would suddenly reawaken the hardware, after no amount of reboots/updates/scans/troubleshooters could find it. But if my camera goes foom again from the next update, this is the first thing I’m trying.

Spurred by the success, I took another crack at the google results for “Hardware scan complete with no issues” and found a solution that involves turning off permissions for the fingerprint reader.

My laptop doesn’t have a fingerprint reader.

But Device Manager had a “Fingerprint Reader” entry, which sure thought it was giving permissions to something.

They’re off now. Guess we’ll find out if it works eventually.

…speaking of things where I’m waiting to see if they’ll be fixed, Kickstarter just decided to present a gift-wrapped selling point to all their competitors. Glad I don’t have any new campaigns scheduled until late 2022 — if things don’t get better, I may need the time to comparison-shop the rest.

Who’s got two thumbs and can do Zoom calls normally again?

I gave New Computer another update — this time making a point of backing up a bunch of stuff, just in case I had to do another reinstall from scratch.

Not only did the process go fine, the camera works again!

(This update was only released a couple weeks ago, and the camera-breaking update was a couple months ago, so it’s not like I could’ve just done that from the start. Someone on the development end had to fix what they broke.)

…so, ah, fingers crossed that it’ll fix the other weird problem, where the computer spontaneously decides it wants to reboot into a diagnostic scan. Which always finds no problems, just like all the previous scans.

Plot twist: I paid more attention to when these happen, and the last 3 times were on Thursday afternoon. So this past Thursday morning, I shut down the computer completely, then headed out to work.

I get home, and it’s on this screen again. Something in here didn’t just reboot the OS, it autonomously powered the machine on.

I mean. What even does that?

The camera-fixing update was later that evening, so I guess we’ll find out “did it also fix the spontaneous diagnostics?” next Thursday.


Had an extensive dream that was an AU of The Secret Garden, but Mary Lennox was a tween necromancer, Gideon the Ninth style.

…and now that I think about it, the parallels are there? Not to Harrow, I mean to Gideon’s backstory of “was a small child when a fatal affliction swept through the whole group around her, later retrieved after being discovered surrounded by bodies.”

Maybe I’ll request it for Yuletide, or something.


It’s that magical time of year when I put Kickstarter logos in all my social-media icons, re-re-proofread all my ad copy, and anxiously look up how much it costs to ship a 5-pound box to Germany.

(Just over US $70.)

That’s right, it’s the final-week prep for Leif & Thorn volume 4.

Please click that link and hit the “Notify me on launch” button, if you haven’t already!

And folks, I am so close to the weight where, if someone wants All The Leif & Thorn Books, the cheapest method is to pack them in a Flat Rate box. 4 books isn’t quite there — but at 5 books the flat rate is cheaper, and at 6 it’ll be much cheaper, and once we get up to 9 it’ll be astronomically cheaper.

…when we get to 10, they won’t all fit in a single box. But that’s a future problem.

(Not that I’m going to do this, but: there would be something really satisfying about drawing enough to fill 9 books, and then stopping the comic, just so it’s a perfect fit for the boxes.)

Literary links roundup

A Pterry note:

There’s a thing I regularly hear people say about Terry Pratchett, even across wildly different contexts…

“Was he always perfectly sensitive about my identity? No. Would he even really understand my life and experiences? Probably not. But if I got to sit down and talk with him, it feels like he would genuinely listen. And take what I said to heart. And support my right to live an authentic and fulfilling way, whether he got it or not.”

Life goals, seriously. I can only hope readers in 50+ years will be saying the same about me.

Kickstarter is crushing it:

November 2020: “Although 2020 isn’t over yet, Kickstarter is reporting the crowdfunded comics on their platform have already amassed $22 million in pledges. That is over 30% up from 2019’s $16.9 million, with two months still to go in 2020.

July 2021: “…it almost beats Kickstarter comics’ entire 2019 ($16.9m), and is well ahead of its revenue for the first six months of 2020. If this trend continues, it would break the $25.7m record set in 2020 – possibly even getting at or above an even $30m.

So these are a bummer:

N.K. Jemisen, 2013: “All mythological creatures have a real-world root. Dryads are trees + humans + magic. Mermaids are fish + humans + magic, or maybe porpoises + magic. Unicorns are deer or horses + magic, maybe with a bit of narwhal glued on. Dragons are reptiles + magic, or maybe dinosaur bones + magic – paleontology. So again: what are orcs supposed to be?

2020: “Before we get into the results of the data analysis, let’s play a game to see how well you recognize gendered descriptions. Here are several character descriptions from actual books. For each one, select whether you think it describes a man or a woman. Don’t think too hard about it—just react!”

2021: “[What happened to Isabel Fall] has been held up as an example of progressives eating their own, of the dangers of online anonymity, of the need for sensitivity readers or content warnings. But what this story really symbolizes is the fact that as we’ve grown more adept at using the internet, we’ve also grown more adept at destroying people’s lives, but from a distance, in an abstracted way.

But this is fun:

A Lois McMaster Bujold quote I’m constantly coming back to: “The writer should always reserve the right to have a better idea.

“Well now, thanks to Nicholas Love’s neat cover generator, you can create both Penguin Classics and Oxford World Classics covers for any book (or movie, or concept) your heart desires, avian gatekeepers be damned!

Tamsyn Muir is doing a whole extra Locked Tomb novel. We’re getting a 4-part trilogy, folks. Can’t think of another ongoing series I’d be happier to hear it for.

Post-Yule retrospective on the past few months

First, a PSA:

8tracks is shutting down. In 3 days. They did install an automatic “save playlist to Spotify” button to back up everything before they go…so I guess I’m finally getting a Spotify account, huh.

* * *

I got a delightful Yuletide fic!

It looks like this:

curiosity and candy (makes the world go round) (3481 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Pet Shop of Horrors
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Count D/Leon Orcot
Characters: Count D (Pet Shop of Horrors), Leon Orcot
Additional Tags: Swearing, Canon Era, Canon-Typical Behavior, Canon-Typical Levels Of BDSM References, yes this is a tag now, Yuletide, Supernatural Elements
Summary:

Word has gotten out that Leon is D’s new chosen mate, and the supernatural is pretty eager to test out his worthiness for the role.

Shame that Leon hasn’t been informed of any of this.

I also gave one, in a niche-enough fandom that it’s barely gotten any attention — but, listen, the recipient liked it, so it’s a win.

Slowly working my way through the rest of the archive, but I have a bunch of pre-Yuletide fic recs that I haven’t even queued yet…so the rec posts of not-for-me Yulefics may take a while in coming.

* * *

I subscribed to Hulu With Live TV for the month, purely so I can watch the new Steven Universe episodes before the internet has a chance to spoil them.

Seriously, the speed at which people can draw fanart of totally-new character designs is unreal.

And during the rest of the eek, I’m trying to make the most of the subscription by bingeing as much other Hulu-exclusive content as possible. Caught up on Archer and a smorgasbord of superhero movies, still working through Family Guy and The Resident, got an apprehensive eye on Stargate Universe.

Surprisingly entertained by Gary And His Demons. (Satirical commentary on Chosen One narratives, Rick-and-Morty-type dysfunction-based humor, our hero has a magical-girl-style transformation sequence for which he sings his own theme song…it’s a lot.)

…they have over 300 episodes of ER. And it’s excellent background-watching-while-making-comics TV. I may or may not end up going another month with this.

* * *

Speaking of avoiding spoilers: I saw Frozen 2!

It was enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, but also awfully weird. Go watch Jenny Nicholson’s review for a good, thoughtful, funny breakdown of a lot of the reasons why.

Haven’t been any other movies since Endgame that I was really determined to see in theaters. Considered it for Star Wars: The Final Movie For Real This Time Really, but at this point I’ve been spoiled for enough of the reveals that, eh. Might as well wait until it’s out on streaming, and pick that time to do a free Disney+ trial period.

* * *

Decided to bake cookies for Christmas at the last minute, which had me trawling the internet for “recipes that can be made using the ingredients currently in my cupboards” on Christmas Eve.

Sidenote: I have seen so many retail outlets this year advertising “our stores are open on Christmas Eve! and will even have limited hours on Christmas Day!”, and, guys, that is not something to brag about. Go watch one of the thousands of adaptations of A Christmas Carol, then swallow your profit motive for a couple days and give your people the time off, already.

So I wasn’t going to go buy late-night groceries, because I am not a monster, and here’s the recipe I was able to make. It’s just flour, butter/margarine, brown sugar, and vanilla. Plus a bag of butterscotch chips, because I do what I want.

They were a hit at the family dinner! Then a hit again when I brought the leftovers to work. Go make ’em some time. Mix up the base with your own (premeditated or improvised) favorite add-ins.

* * *

WordPress was offering a deal on paid blogging plans, and it was cheap enough that I sprung for it.

…only to find out it doesn’t include any customization that wasn’t already in the free version. You have to pay twice as much to control your own CSS.

Oh well. I’ve gotten enough value out of WP over the years that they’ve probably earned the donation.

Prompted me to finally look for a new theme, too. Took way too long to find something that was (a) 2 columns, (b) didn’t collapse to 1 column when you weren’t practically fullscreen on desktop, (c) had spaces to keep all my widgets and menus, and (d) didn’t have clashing colors in places that non-paying users weren’t allowed to customize.

Came out pretty nice, I think.

The theme is Bouquet. The header image and the purple background are customizable. All the pink is one of two pre-set options (the others are blue and orange), which thankfully coordinates with the header pretty well.

Apparently it’s also infinite-scroll and I don’t know how to turn that off, but oh well, you can’t have everything.

* * *

Bumped up to the next-higher dose of Wellbutrin a couple months ago, and it’s been a smashing success.

Before the switch, it had gotten to the point where I was sleeping 10+ hours a day, and could feel the not-getting-anything-done. (Doesn’t help that I have a longer Day Job workweek these days — it’s great in most ways, but having it eat up all my awake time was a bit of a drawback.)

First week on the new dose, I felt refreshed, could focus way better, and was able to draw more than I got to do in probably the whole month before.

Turns out taking the higher dose too many days in a row leaves me not sleeping enough…but by now I’ve got the hang of swapping in the lower dose before I start to feel too wired, and it’s balancing out really well.

* * *

The last Leif & Thorn Kickstarter alternately feels like it happened forever ago, and like it just ended last week.

The first unbound proof arrived a whole month ago, in November:

I ended up tweaking both files, and asking for a new proof of just-the-cover. (There was some tricky color correction involved — you don’t know exactly how it’ll come out in CMYK until you see it in person.)

So the new one arrived…and somewhere between the file I sent and the paper coming out of the printer, the colors got changed in ways I didn’t do. Not in a way they would notice when quality-checking, either — it looked perfectly-balanced, which is the problem, it’s supposed to have a purple tint.

(Volume 1 was pink-tinted. Volume 3 — the one with the magic vine attack — will be green. Volume 4 is shaping up to be red.)

The company blamed an equipment failure, apologized, and sent a free replacement. I now have 3 separate copies of this cover, and the books themselves are gonna be in production…any day now. Depends on when people come back from vacation.

* * *

I drew 2 full pages ahead in BICP!

Then decided the events of those pages should be bumped back to happen after other events. Which leaves me in the fascinating position of “two pages of scanned and fully-polished lineart, still hasn’t gotten me ahead re: the page I’m supposed to post on Monday.”

…One of my New Year’s resolutions is to actually finish the series in 2020. Fingers crossed.

* * *

Marshmallow Fluff continues fluffin’ along.

I did a family visit that left him alone for the weekend, and he seems to have coped just fine:

No special Christmas dinner for Fluff, because he started turning up his nose at canned food a while back. I figure it’s a good thing — he’s no longer afraid of imminent starvation, so he feels secure enough to be picky — but it really cuts down on my “treats to provide for special occasions” options.

He also sometimes sits on one end of the couch while I’m sitting on the other! And almost relaxes. I get the joy of having a judgmental mop staring at me.