Our holiday plans
Those of you who frequent our IRC channel already know that Alien and I are planning another big trip this year. Since we've just booked our flights for it, I figured I'd bring the rest of you up to date (you know, in case anybody cares).
Older readers may remember that in 2007 Alien and I did a 21 day overland trip in eastern africa. We had such a great time there that we decided to go for something similar, except bigger.
This time around we'll be traveling in southern africa, taking Oasis Overland's "More Deserts and Game Parks" trip from Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) all the way to Johannesburg (South Africa). On the way we pass through Botswana, Namibia, Cape Town and most of South-South Africa and Lesotho. In total it's a 40 day trip plus a few days joining/leaving (the plane trip alone takes some 17 hours all told).
We're hoping this trip will be as great as the last one. The itinerary promises some great memories at least, but a lot depends on the group of people we'll be traveling with. Last time around we had a bunch of absolutely awesome people there (which made saying goodbye quite hard).
Now don't despair. We're not gone yet. The trip starts the 30th of august and we'll be gone from the 28th of august till the 10th of october. We're already working on making sure we have a buffer for the comic by then so you won't have to miss a single update, and we'll get somebody to keep an eye on the site and kill any spam that props up.
Once we get back, I'll bore you all too death with wildlife pictures :)
Olympus is taunting me
So earlier this year Olympus (my camera brand) came out with a new model, the E-30. A great camera, but at €1300 it was simply too expensive so I resisted. Besides, the E-30 was a bit too big for my tastes, I told myself.
Now today Olympus announced the E-620. A camera with most of the features and improvements of the E-30 in a smaller body and at a recommended price of $699.
It will go on sale one day before my birthday.
Olympus is taunting me. This camera has nearly everything I'd want in a camera and would be a stellar upgrade to my trusty E-510 and at $699 it IS quite affordable, except ... except Alien and I are going to Africa for 6 weeks in september-october and we really need to save up our money for that.
Damn you Olympus for bringing out an awesome, relatively cheap camera one day before my birthday at a time that I just can't afford it!
*pouts and goes to read previews, drooling*
Rest Well, Tharlavan
Tonight Tharlavan died. He was an old cat, a stray who one day late last summer walked into our house and gradually adopted us. He was very skinny and the vet said his kidneys were gone, but he liked us (and our food) and while he was a bit raggy and worn out, he was a gentle cat with a nice purr.
Rest well, Tharlavan. We knew you only briefly, but hope we made your last few months worth living.
CtS in 2009
If you're reading this (and obviously you are) then the new year has arrived on our servers and Chasing the Sunset has to face up to the dark realities of 2009.
Now, I don't do resolutions. Invariably, these are things that are never achieved. Instead I make plans (that are only *usually* not achieved. I am by nature very lazy and I begin far more things than I finish).
What's the plan for CtS you (well, I) ask? Well, I'm glad you (I) asked as I have many goals for the comic.
1) As I've mentioned before, I'm hoping to use advertising on the site to generate some capital and then use this capital to attract more people to here. The goal is to have about 2000 daily visitors on update days by the end of 2009. As a comparison: before the holidays we had about 1100.
2) We're hoping, of course, to improve the strip. I believe the story has weakened some lately and I'm hoping to reverse this trend by putting more effort and time in the planning and writing of the script. Currently I have the rough outlines of the next two chapters in my head but am having some trouble fleshing them out.
3) Try not to end the comic. I need to think up more than those two chapters lest the story reach its conclusion next year. Leaf is getting closer and closer to the endpoint of his quest (though I already have some ideas of what happens after).
4) Improve the community. Nono, we're pleased with you all! You don't need to change! I just wish to add some new things to the site to increase reader interaction and to create a bit of a community around Chasing the Sunset. If you have suggestions, I'm all eyes.
5) Maybe release a Chasing the Sunset book. We've been pondering this for a long time now and it would require a lot of work to get the quality of the first 160 strips up to a printable standard, but it would be sweet to be able to hand my non-internet-enabled family members our comic. And hey, maybe some other people would be interested too?
6) Take a holiday without missing a strip. Alien and I are plotting another multi-week holiday. Though the destination is not entirely clear yet (either Egypt-Jordan-Syria or Zimbabwe-Botswana-Namibia-South Africa depending on our financial situation and the stability of these regions) we'll probably be gone for three weeks in september or october. Here's hoping we can get a big enough buffer up this time around.
7) Make people smile.
8) Deserve you.
Well, that's our plan so far, though we tend to just make it up as we go along.
I has new lens, yay.
Ordered slightly before my own personal financial crisis became apparent, my new lens arrived yesterday. As some here know I shoot with Olympus and the new lens is from Olympus's "Budget" series (meaning not weather sealed and cheaper than the others, tho this one is definitely the most expensive budget lens in their lineup). At a focal length range of 9-18mm (equiv 18-36mm) this is an ultra wide angle lens.
Here's some fun I had with it yesterday in the center of antwerp:
This is a tricky little lens, not least because I've never shot wider than 27mm equiv and I have to learn all the caveats of UWA on the fly (and there are plenty, from perspective to very tricky lighting).
With this new lens, my kit is now extremely flexible and usable for nearly any picture. My entire kit is (multiply by 2 to get equivalent focal lengths):
- 9-18mm F/4-5.6 Ultra-wide angle zoom.
- 14-42mm F/3.5-5.6 Standard zoom kit lens. A nice and lightweight (220gr) carry-around lens.
- 40-150mm F/3.5-5.6 Tele zoom kit lens.
- 50mm F/2.0 Macro Very sharp portrait/macro/low-light lens. My favourite.
- 135-400mm F/4-5.6 Ultra-tele lens. Slightly too heavy and soft for my tastes, but served me well in africa and I like long teles.
- FL-36 Flash Guide number 36, rotates around two axis.
- Hyperdrive SPACE 250 Gb Photo storage unit
- GPS Data logger Lets me sync pictures wth location data
- Several extra batteries
- 58mm and 52mm circular polarizer
The entire kit fits in my camera bag (it's a big bag I admit) and weighs less than three kg (most of that weight is the ultra-tele). It spans 35mm-equivalent focal ranges of 18 to 800 (making it 44X optical zoom) and has everything for indoors, outdoors, macro, portrait etc etc. I'm pretty proud of this kit :)
Right now I have no concrete plans to expand it. Any more lenses now would almost certainly be to replace one I already have. In that aspect I'm drawn towards the 12-60mm standard grade lens to replace my budget 14-42mm (the former is a very good lens optically, and much praised by anybody who's used it) or the 70-300mm budget lens to replace the 135-400mm sigma I have (the former weighs less than half as much and is considerably sharper) but with current finances neither will be happening soon.
Doooom is upon us?
So we had our big 500th anniversary readership drive, how did we fare?
Sadly ... not all that great. Before I go on, let me first thank everybody who has linked to us. We are truly grateful for your efforts on our behalf.
That said, on friday we received 987 visitors. This compares well to friday a week earlier (849 visitors) but that was a particularly weak week. A week before that we had 923 visitors on friday. In spring we tended to get over a thousand quite easily. So despite all the effort - and again, we are grateful to everybody who helped - the numbers were merely average.
Of course, that just means that without all that extra incoming traffic, numbers would have been simply appalling. Over the past few weeks/months, our visitor numbers have been on a noticeable downward slide, and I'm a bit down because of that.
Of course, we've been rather sporadic in summer, a period that's traditionally lukewarm for comics as people in the northern hemisphere go play in the sunlight. However nothing much changed when we became more regular again in late august or when we went back to 3/week two weeks ago. September is normally also the time traffic picks up again as students head back to university, but alas, not for us.
And ever our readership erodes. It's not that we're losing people any faster than other comics, on the contrary I think we have very loyal (and totally awesome) readers. A certain bleed is natural as people lose interest but normally this is counteracted by new readers. It's this last bit we're failing at.
Still, even amongst our loyal readers we're detecting a certain discontent with how the comic is going lately. Obviously we're not doing things right.
So here's my question: what is it we're doing wrong? What should we improve to both keep our existing (and fantastic) readers and attract new ones? (for those suggesting advertising: we've done so in the past and will do so again in the future no doubt, but our finances aren't great and it already costs us some money just to bring you a comic in the first place).
Please sue the comments to this news post or our rather neglected forum to help us out. All feedback, even (especially) negative helps.
Welcome New Readers!
Normally in this space I blather about things less related to the comic, but since we're expecting some new people today, I figure I'd show you around.
Chasing the Sunset is a storybased fantasy/humour comic written by me (Mithandir) and drawn by my wife Alien. We've got 500 updates today, with more coming at a rate of three per week currently (mondays, wednesdays, fridays).
The very start (recently remastered) can be found here or you can read (at lower res) on a storyline-by-storyline basis starting here.
If 500 strips is too much for you to catch up on but you want to follow he story anyway, we've got a story summary.
We're somewhat episodic, so you could start at the beginning of the current chapter.
Either way, every comic has a little question mark below it and if you mouse over that, you'll get a list of characters in that strip with links to their cast pages, so you never need worry you'll miss anybody important.
Every strip and nearly every page on this site lets you add a comment. Feel free to do so! (Be polite and PG-13 tho).
Like us? Great! We have several RSS feeds that you can subscribe to to keep up to date:
CtS: What's New has all updates to the site (including comics)
CtS: Comic Thumbs has all new strips, with thumbnails.
Cts: Full Comics has all new strips, with full comics (at slightly lower res than the site).
Some new flatmates
Two female Gerbils joined us after Jonatan, our spotted mouse, died. They have a big cage in a nice spot now and tease us by being entirely impossible to tell apart, forcing us to - for now - address them jointly as Trickxy.
(Both pictures are off the same gerbil. It seems one is more adventurous and thus the name Trickxy, but we can't tell whether it's consistantly teh same one being adventurous!).
Happy Anniversary to US
Today Alien and I celebrate our (unofficial) fourth wedding Anniversary. Yay us!
i'm an uncle once more
Today my sister gave birth to another beautiful daughter. I welcome to the world Dounia, daughter of Manninne and Mounir. 52 cm tall at birth and weighing 3950g. May the world treat you well.