On The New Computer


Monday was puttering along like it will. I had scheduled that Mary Worth post and was almost at the point in my workday where I’d read enough of The AV Club to do a solid hour of staring helplessly at my code. But my MacBook had enough. “No,” it declared, “it is not time for a critical reappraisal of that Next Generation episode where Captain Picard becomes a twelve-year-old boy. The critics have been right about this episode all along and we do not need to read it as sly self-satire.”

“But wait,” I protested, “Those things have the best comments about how the AV Club isn’t any good anymore!”

“Goodbye,” it said, and the video glitched out. First it split the video into little shuffled strips. Then it went to this brown background with a less-brown circular background, like the carpet at a respectable-enough hotel from 1978. The computer shop up the block identified the problem in minutes: my computer was broken. Also nobody makes the parts for it anymore anymore. But they gave me a number at Apple to call to see if they might have any. Apple blushed and explained how they were so embarrassed by their old work like that and they wished I wouldn’t talk about it, they could do so much better now.

So while waiting for the new computer’s delivery I have to do something, computer-wise. I can’t just wander around the house reading my books and holding my love and prying open the window that’s painted shut and fixing the basement stair that’s going to completely collapse and probably kill someone someday. Fortunately for computer-based mishaps like this I have a backup.

It’s my older Mac, a PowerBook G4, that I kept for emergencies like this and because I can’t throw away stuff without an elaborate, weeks-long ritual of apology to the thing. I remember it being sleek and speedy when I got it in 2006. I was wrong. What did we know from design back then? The computer is about the size of a 1988 Chevrolet Celebrity. To set it on my table required the help of a pilot boat and a team of four people wielding containerized-cargo cranes.

It’s an ancient computer, dating back to the days before we even had binary code. Internally it represents numbers as a series of zeroes and four-fifths. It looks at the modern Internet the same way my father looks on when he’s having such a good time at this noisy restaurant that he won’t spoil dinner by admitting he forgot to turn his hearing aid on. It sits there, smiling, nodding with engagement, making the right amount of eye contact, and then I click a link on Twitter and it searches for “writing” on Yahoo. Then I hit command-V and it pastes what I copied, like, eight copies ago, last night. It’s nice having time together. I just want to hug it.

The worst hassle of all this is having to pay for a new computer. But also the worst hassle of all this has been that my emergency backup computer has really mushy shift keys that work about one-fifth of the time, so I look like I’m typing everything into a search engine. But also the other worst worst hassle of all this has been telling friends about it. I have a lot of friends who love building computers and don’t see why anyone doesn’t.

I know why I don’t. I like computers that you plug in and do stuff with. My friends who build their computers never get to do stuff with it. They’re always reporting, like, “my new graphics card is incompatible with the hard drive interruptor” and “so the optical drive cables demanded the motherboard take a side and now they’ve moved to opposite corners and are spitting on each other” and “the PCI slot teamed up with irredentist Wallachian rebels to call in tactical air strikes”. But they’re always confident they’re one round of peace talks away from the best computer ever, and they’re eager to help me out.

“We could totally build something fantastic,” they’ll say. “Not on one of those awful socket 1150s either! We’ll do it on an 1151 or I bet I can hook us up with an 1151.8!”

“I live in Lansing, Michigan, and you’re in Romania,” I answer so I don’t explicitly say I think they’re making up tech specs.

“Have you ever seen the framerates on an overclocked BrixxVideo video card? And channel that through the Heisenberg compensator matrix and you can full half duplex your quads on the composite Lumpex!”

I think this sounds like when audiophiles insist they get a better sound out of their system by using green marker on their audio cables.

“I got a friend who can get you this prototype computer case that isn’t even plastic or metal. This is for high-performance enclosing of stuff! It’s the concept of containerization as manifested in a substance that must never be looked at directly with unshielded eyes.”

I feel loved by this attention, yes. But what I’m looking for most in a computer right now is a shift key that works. Also, if you know somebody who’d be willing to give me like one computer’s worth of money in exchange for whatever it is I do, could you hook us up? Or fix copy-paste so it works. Thanks kindly.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index plummeted today as market confidence was shaken by the discovery the MyCokeRewards program has ended and all those 12-pack box flaps we’d been saving to enter the codes someday were now worthless. Estimated losses are easily enough Coke Rewards points that we could have gotten a six-month subscription to a magazine we don’t like, and now it’s all too late.

145

Cold


You might have inferred that we spent Easter with my love’s parents. We also brought our pet rabbit. My love’s parents have a new dog, a basset hound. One time, once, during the weekend the basset hound got into our pet rabbit’s room, and gave him a good solid bark!.

To this our rabbit responded not at all. Not in the least. Not even with the little eye-blink that indicates confusion. Didn’t even acknowledge the dog.

So now my love’s parents have been trying ever since to reassure their dog that no, the problem isn’t that it’s failing its basset hound rabbit-hunting chores. They’ve had some success in explaining that a Flemish Giant isn’t actually a rabbit at all, but rather a kind of short, long-eared bear that’s always preoccupied with questions like why the water bill seems uncharacteristically low and that’s why he didn’t notice. If you see their dog, please, don’t tell her otherwise. She’s got enough problems.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped a point as traders felt confused and lost in the world because that new Adam Sandler movie got a not-bad-actually review on The AV Club and now they don’t know how anything makes sense anymore.

126

How Apartment 3-G November Apartment 3-G Treated Apartment 3-G My Apartment 3-G Blog: Apartment 3-G Edition


So, readership-wise, November 2015 was the best month I’ve ever had. By far. Indeed, “by far” is too short for how good it was, in terms of attracting readers. Cut November 2015 in half and would still have been the most popular month I’ve ever had here.

Of course I have two things to thank for this: my decision to track how much nothing was going on in Apartment 3-G, and the comic strip shutting down entirely. The strip’s descent into baffling, dadaist dream-logic brought many people over here trying to learn what had happened, and then The Onion AV Club mentioned my blog as one of those writing about the strip’s collapse.

So here’s the final tally. According to WordPress there were 4,528 page views here in November. There were 2,308 unique visitors. The previous records had been set in October, with 2,204 page views and a mere 1,242 visitors. Yes, I’m staggered by that too. And before that as Apartment 3-G Bafflemania heated up, September 2015 gave me a then-record 1,687 page views and 888 unique visitors. If I could have a longrunning comic strip come to a sad, pathetic conclusion every month I might be able to make a go of writing blogs.

Almost all of that is the AV Club side effects, of course. WordPress says there were 1,042 referrers just from that one article. There were 1,316 from Google searches, almost all of them about the end of Apartment 3-G. (There were 108 hits from Yahoo, Bing, Google Image, AOL, and Ask.com searches all together, revealing that Ask.com is still around.)

There’s essentially no point my listing popular articles this month. Apart from “What We Found In The New 2015 Penny” all the top ten articles were Apartment 3-G related. Expand to the top fifteen and we get more 3-G and finally “when I Gave Up”, which was more of me mocking clickbait. Down in the dregs of the top twenty we start getting more distinct stuff I wrote, like “What I Think Of The Peanuts Movie” and “What Amazon Think I’ll Buy” and the surprisingly durable “Local Architecture Critic Derides Seasons, Nature”.

November ends with my having 622 total WordPress followers, WordPress says. December opens with the blog having gotten 28,629 page views and 14,600 unique visitors.

Statistics that suggest reader engagement were up slightly. I suppose most of the AV Club readers aren’t sticking around. But the site drew 299 Likes in November, up from October’s 279 and September’s 281, but down from this time last year. Ah well. WordPress recorded 45 comments, down from October’s 65 and September’s 56, and well down from early in the year when a hundred or so was common. I don’t know what to do to draw in more comments.

Countries sending me the most readers were, as usual, the United States with an unusually high 3,861; Canada with 225; the United Kingdom with 121; Australia with 64, and Germany at 24. India sent me 12 readers, technically up from eight. Singapore sent seven, up from two.

Single-reader countries were slightly more numerous than usual: Austria, Bangladesh, Chile, Czech Republic, the European Union (?), Indonesia, Malawi, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Venezuela, and Vietnam. The repeats from October were the Czech republic, and Norway. The Czech Republic is on a three-month streak here.

In Which I Am Discovered And Made Kind Of Famous-Ish


And so then this happened.

My readership hovers somewhere around 80 or so most days, and then suddenly jumps up to about 900 two days in a row, thanks to the AV Club.
A few weeks back I posted a graph about how my readership kept growing the more I wrote about Apartment 3-G and the less that happened in it. It’s less a funny-ha-ha and more a funny-yeah-that’s-true. I will never see numbers like this again, ever.

What happened is The Onion AV Club respects its duty to the parts of popular culture that aren’t really popular or part of the culture anymore. So it discussed the end of Apartment 3-G. Under the “Great Job, Internet” column they published an essay aptly titled “Comics bloggers say goodbye to Apartment 3-G”. And I got mentioned in it twice. As a result there’s been a rush of people reading my description of “disjointed and unfollowable” plots. As I write this the day (the 24th of November) isn’t quite over. But it seems plausible I might see a thousand page views for the day alone. That’s on top of 873 for the day before. Goodness knows what the next day will bring. I suppose fewer. It’d be odd if people were even more interested in what The AV Club says about what some other blogger says about a comic strip they weren’t following another day later.

I didn’t just get a stray link, though. I even got to be the second block-quoted text. I’m between commentary from The Lovely Ladies Of Apartment 3-G commentary blog and The Comics Reporter‘s essay on the conclusion. I am delighted to be quoted, especially since it’s as “Another blog, meanwhile”. Perhaps my name is just a little too implausible for the AV Club’s readers. I know most people trying to read my name are stumped by what to make of it. The “Nebus” part, I mean. Most folks know what to make of “Joseph”. They make “Joe” of it.

'Another blog, meanwhile, used the death of Apartment 3-G to speculate on the future of newspaper comics in general. After all, when one comic strip is canceled, that provides an opportunity to other strips to hoping to take its spot in hundreds of newspapers.' And then it quotes my 'so who won?' essay about 'not the soap opera strips'.
The Onion AV Club sees me fit to mention, kind of, as another blog, meanwhile, discussing the end of Apartment 3-G.

I know that when someone on the Internet says “I am delighted by” something, it normally means “I am not delighted by” that thing. But when I say “I am delighted by”, I don’t mean anything so complicated as “I am not delighted by”. I mean, simply, “I am delighted by”. The baffling of people by my name is only part of it. What also has me truly delighted is that the AV Club’s article was written by Joe Blevins. I know that guy.

Well, kind of know him. He and I were both participants, back in the 90s, on the Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc. Usenet groups were kind of like web forums, except that you could read them using any software you like and they didn’t have ads crowding out your web browser and making them crash. And you could follow threads and sub-threads with ease. So you see why they couldn’t compete with the modern Internet experience. But he and I were both active members in the MiSTing community.

I’ve posted a couple MiSTings here. They’re the fan fiction version of Mystery Science Theater 3000, taking Usenet posts or bad fan fiction or whatnot and making fun of it. We’d post these to rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc, which was for Mystery Science Theater 3000-related activity. This included fan fiction. I haven’t seen Blevins in ratmm, as we abbreviated a phrase that already included four abbreviations, in ages. But then who has?

So this makes things a tiny bit different. This isn’t just any old writer coming across my name and having no idea what to make of it. This is a guy with whom I collaborated in making fun of Marrissa Picard stories not knowing what to make of my name. The name “Marrissa Picard” may mean nothing to you. This is because your life has gone right in some important ways. Trust me on this. Point is, after experiences like that, I would expect my name to get recognized even after a decade.

So is Joe Blevins snubbing me? I can’t imagine why he would, unless he’s still upset about losing to me in the Web Site Number Nine MiSTing Awards for 2002, category Best Single Riff. Back then I won a devastating victory with a line in “Jaded Views”. That was a Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic about two characters who were kind of like the authors, only they were badgers and didn’t realize they made themselves out to be terrible people. I’ll own up, I don’t think my winning riff was the best one published that year, let alone the best one I’d written.

I’m not saying that “Just because they’re trapped in a desperate struggle for survival against a crushing worldwide war machine doesn’t mean they can’t maintain a very active theater community” isn’t a funny line. I just think that even in that same MiSTing, I did better with the credit “Based on a sneeze by Harlan Ellison”. I’m just passing on what the voters for MST3K fan fiction awards thought at the time. Other folks may have done beter, and Blevins may have even been one of them. While I was delighted to have a fanfic award long ago, it’s not as though I’ve spent four days a week gloating about beating him out about it. For goodness sake, there’s my award for writing that sketch in which Tom Servo gets all huffy and thoroughly debunks the theory that Casper the Friendly Ghost is the afterlife fate of Richie Rich. I’m much prouder of that.

I hope he’s not snubbing me. I’m certainly not snubbing him. I am delighted by all this. And I’m delighted to learn that a decade-plus after we last had contact he’s gone on to being a freelance writer for a leading pop culture web site. He’s always been a funny guy and I hope he’s doing well enough to support his writing habit.

Meanwhile, I am already reaping lasting benefits of an extra 1500 or so page views in two days. I’ve already had literally more than one new person subscribe by e-mail to new humor blog posts. And the readership boost hasn’t been as pronounced over on my mathematics blog, but it has been detectable. And isn’t “detectable” all that anyone on the Internet wants to be? Yes. Yes it is.