Cyberbard.net lives

By a twist of fate, and an interesting discovery, this web site received a midnight call from the governor and avoided deletion.

Here’s the thing. I have been using 1and1 as an email and web space provider for about five years. The web site I used to run had succumbed to what I call web rot, and the two blogs that were attached to it had been completely overrun with spam. It was going to take far too long to clean them out and make them usable again. So I decided that the time had come for me to close down the web site, and stop maintaining an address in “the cloud.”

The funny thing is, that was actually a difficult decision for me, because I have maintained some sort of web presence since late 1993. That was well before most people even knew what the web was. When personal web spaces became such a fad in the late 1990’s, I continued to maintain the one I had started with (albeit from different servers as my career moved about). And, I continued to maintain a site long after it became old news and many closed their sites down. So to leave the web behind was a bid saddening for me. But at the same time I was paying for a service that wasn’t being effectively used, and while the price was quite low, it was still an unnecessary expense and it would be pragmatic to let it go. Or so I thought.

The one part of my 1and1 package that I did use was the email. But, since I had free alternatives for that, it wasn’t enough to compel me to keep 1and1. So I set up a gmail account to be my primary email, and started to disconnect the cyberbard account that I had been using for five years. That’s when the problems started. Within two weeks of opening the gmail account, I found evidence of lost or misdirected messages, and a few hacking attempts. I immediately found out that reliability and security are recurring problems with gmail and many of the other free email services.

I had not fully closed my old email address yet, so when this news came to light I hastily re-visited the issue. Perhaps closing my 1and1 account wasn’t such a good idea after all! My email address through 1and1 never had any security problems that I know of, and it was a distinct enough name that messages weren’t likely to get lost or misdirected. In this day and age, it’s often necessary to have an email address for commercial and financial uses. For such applications, an email should be secure enough to evade hacking. A commercial service is far more likely to provide that instead of a free one. I looked back at the monthly cost of using 1and1 and ultimately decided that the low rate was an acceptable price for an email address that wasn’t likely to be hacked, hijacked, or messed up.

This in turn brought up the web site. My original plan was to simply euthanize the site. I had attempted to use the blogging features in the past, but the spam bots moved in like radioactive kudzu. I had not ruled out the possibility of using one of the free web services to make a clean start, with the hope of being able to keep the spam under control. However, since I had elected to retain 1and1 for their email services, that meant I would have a file sharing service as well.

So, I retained my domain name, purged all content down to the last bit, and started anew. Some of the information will be the same, but I suspect with time it will start looking very different. My old web site was very old school in design. It used static HTML files and a very antiquated design method; methods that were the norm when I first started web spinning back in the early to mid-1990’s. I was still using that same approach, and for a long time, I didn’t care about being out of date. But things have changed. I may have some professional opportunities related to web design in the future, so I figured it was high time to update by ancient skill set. I’m still getting the hang of WordPress, and I’ve been tinkering with some of the other major web tools when time permits. Instead of using a flat file structure, I’m using the cascading style templates provided by WordPress, and the internal site management features. Hopefully this time things will turn out better.

Cyberbard dot net is dead.

Long live Cyberbard dot net.

House of Supers

For the past few weeks, my home has been hosting a group of superheroes. Well, actually one super villain and two superheroes.

Lady Loki costume

Lady Loki

First, we have Caitlin as Lady Loki, a variation of the intergalactic mischief monger from The Avengers. For most of this year, Caitlin was unsure of what she wanted to be for Halloween. After seeing The Avengers in early September, that was instantly decided. Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of the twisted Norse demigod Loki sent the imaginations of both her and Lisa into high gear, and this amazing costume is the result.

For the basic structure of the costume, Lisa adapted a cos-play pattern she found on Deviant Art. I lost track of how many times she had to run to one of the various craft supply stores in the Piedmont area to get the materials she needed, but the result is a real eye-popper! At this writing, Caitlin has worn the costume (in whole or in part) to three different Halloween parties, and each time she was lauded with complements.

Total construction time for the costume was 30-some hours, spread over a six week period. That does not include the travel time to the various supply outlets. I won’t even guess what that came to. The costume was made from pieces of flannel and leather sewn or glued to a jacket-vest foundation. The various metallic highlights and accessories were made from poster board and matte board, painted with a mix of silver and gold. The helmet was made using paper mache and poster board on a toy construction hat. The horns were made from a Styrofoam, heart-shaped wreath base. The staff is a painted wooden dowel, with the head being made of reinforced poster board and plastic sheeting. A bluish penlight with a tiny crystalline charm completed the “Glow Stick of Destiny.”

hulk

The Incredible Hulk

Then we have Michael as the bestial half of the modern-day Jekyll & Hyde character, The Incredible Hulk. Michael’s costume was much easier: we ordered it from an online vendor. A few minor adjustments were made so that it would fit better, and on the whole it turned out great! Given that Michael is playing a character known for his ability to smash, he looks very cute! The costume came with a skull cap that would have made his face green, and given him a bush of black hair. A feasibility study was made to determine what it would take to make the cap not only fit better, but make the hair look more like that of the Hulk. Unfortunately, all attempts at having Michael wear the cap resulted in failure, because he found it inherently uncomfortable. Being just under two years old, there was no way in this or any other universe that he was going to tolerate such a thing being strapped to his noggin. So, the customization of the skull cap never came to pass.

But no matter, he looks both cool and cute.

2014-10-28 09.47.10

Raven pumpkin

Earlier this month, Caitlin acquired a pumpkin as a door prize, and our original plan was to carve it. Instead, it became the subject of a pumpkin decoration contest through her school. Her paint scheme of choice was the character of Raven from the Teen Titans animated series. It should be noted that Caitlin – my daughter the artist – did all of the painting herself. The rind of the pumpkin was cleaned and dried, then she applied tempera paints directly to it. It took almost three coats of paint before the colors finally started to hold. I suspect the rind was sucking up the paint like a sponge. But, she was ultimately successful!

Azareth Metrion Zinthos!

In hindsight, it’s probably a good thing that Caitlin opted to paint the pumpkin instead of carve it. The house is currently awash in scraps of cloth, sheet plastic, old newspaper, and bits of other materials left over from the construction of the Lady Loki costume. But even so, my two girls really showed off their creativity!

Happy Halloween, 2014!

halloween2014


Footnote:
The core costume design for Lady Loki came from the Deviant Art user The Lighted Soul. Within her gallery she provides a tutorial for the coat and cape, and the shirt and tunic.

The Woodland Elf features patterns and instructions for the staff and bracers, and while Crafty Mischief provided instructions for the helmet.

Happy Anniversary, Baby!

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Photo by Wayne Vedeckis, taken circa May, 2004, Cunningham Falls State Park, Thurmont, Maryland.

Lisa and I were married on October 25, 2003, in Metairie, Louisiana. Since then we’ve had two children, lived in two apartments in two different states, and bought a house. We’ve also had two cats, three guinea pigs, one dog, and four different cars. Eleven Years and counting! And best of all, we’re just getting started!