The enormous pile of Mass Effect 2 notes and illustrations in my work folders is getting daunting. So here’s a random Staff Commander Mandala Shepard picture among those prepared these last few days, so I can have the impression that I’m making progress by publishing something.
Second half of the marathon art session — additional illustrations by RonnieThunderbolts for :
Well, that’s one rather large thing that’s off my to-do list – and a bunch of poor illustrations were redone as a side effect. Now to see how many of the very old entries this unearthed we can revisit for quality.
We’ve long been using fan art by RonnieThunderbolts as additional illustrations, since his work features very clear depictions of the costumes – for some characters it’s the most illustrative art that exists. It’s not formally authorised, alas – I though I’d caught him on CBR but the PM went unanswered.
Here’s the first half a huge set of additional illustrations of his – basically everything that was left. I used to revise entries as I added the art but this is not going to fit on any realistic schedule so I just went in heavy like a good soldier. The older writeups in this set oughta be revised, though… Scheduling a few of mine for rework.
Entries now featuring more RonnieThunderbolts art — batch number one out of two :
Pfew. Looks like a lot… until you compare it to the size of writeups.org. Work is now ongoing on the second half.
After further investigation in the Java memory allocation issues, it is not financially feasible for us to run a decently-trafficked web site plus a large search app on a hosted server.
A deal has thus been hammered with the OpenSearchServer company to have them host our search databases on their new software-as-a-service platform, taking a lot of load out of our web server.
Things seem to be running well, and this has been the occasion to fully re-index the full-text search (the “Parse” button on the left). So we probably have a much stabler, more thorough and more frequently updated search solution now that we’re free of the constraints of our small web server.
Feel free to play with the Parse search. For instance it learns us that 35 people on writeups.org shoot Glocks, and 6 are metallurgists (or at least have metallurgy mentioned in their entry). And that Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev appears in four entries, though admittedly there might be different spellings.
At this point the web server is in France, the search app server in Germany and the administration is done in Brasil. The entries are written in Brasil, the US, the UK, Sweden, France, Spain and a few other countries.
We’ve been testing lasting fixes to our Java memory leak problem using a brand-new JRockit installation, which entails occasionally bringing down the search engine, a few reboots, etc. to understand what’s going on.
When you get a “no results” from the search engine, particularly when you know that there’s something, remember to use the Alpha button to locate entries.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
There’s been a big round of improvements to existing entries – those things have priority for publication, so people don’t read old entries while we’ve hammered out a new and improved version.
- BLACK WIDOW. The 1940s Black Widow (Claire Voyant, the agent of Satan) had her texts polished and the title of her entry clarified.
- BLACK WIDOW TOO. The first chronological entry for Natalia Romanova was completely redone to integrate the various retcons we couldn’t include last time, add illustrations, rewrite for style, etc. etc. It’s now a fairly thorough article about the roots of the Black Widow.
- BLACK WIDOW STRIKES AGAIN. The second writeup (1965-1970) was also fully rewritten and regauged and reillustrated and re-checked. Lotsa peekchurs.
- As part of the upgrade of our Black Widow material we are reviewing the existing entries for her – generally obscure – opponents. As a result the entry for Karla Romanova was fully redone.
- Our entry for Ivan Petrovitch Bezukhov and his moustache has been partially rewritten as we revisited our Black Widow research. It will not be fully rewritten until we’ve redone the third and fourth entry for Natasha, though. Thus, the texts and illustrations set after 1970 have yet to be redone.
- TPB ART. Scans from our old floppies replaced by scans from trade paperbacks in the following entries :
- Ultron 8 thru 12 (and added a few banners, too)
- Porcupine (writeup 1, just one banner)
- Blackout (Marcus Daniels) – Gareth also gave the History section a quick upgrade
- Karla Sofen (writeup 2 – Moonstone) (texts were also brushed up, and the main shot redone to compare blurring techniques)
- Tiger Shark (writeup 1 – Classic) (just one banner)
- We also stumbled upon a magzine with restored Agents of Atlas shots, so one new picture for :
- Our entry for XIII also had a quick brush-up for writing style, and two extra banners. Various tiny improvements to the related entries (Major Jones, Agent Martin, the Moongoose).
- A rewritten, improved version of Decuria from Chris’ Legion of Super-Heroes campaign.
- Super-minor Marvel villain Razorblade (aka Slasher) had his texts upgraded and the illustrations fully redone.
- Clarified the language notes in the Black Panther (Christopher Priest take) writeup, tweaked the Marvel Boy (Noh-Varr) after work based on his more recent appearances.
- Marvel released a 2010 calendar a few years back and, well, it’s a good quick source of banner illustrations to decorate writeups and break up blocks of texts. One new banner in the following entries:
- New banner for the Universe AZ Blossom entry since the artist who inspired the redesign – Jackson Tjota – has a germane new piece of art on his Deviantart gallery.
- SONGBIRD. Melissa Gold’s two entries now have clearer titles. The older Screaming Mimi one was reviewed for writing style and had two illustrations redone, no special changes in the Songbird entry.
- One rescanned OHOTMUME illo for Shotgun, and one for Siege – two entries that clearly need a rewrite. At least the resolution for those shots is no longer the one corresponding to the era when 56K modems were the big new thing (this site is old).
- INVINCIBLE. Bryan reviewed and overhauled and updated three of his Invincible entries, namely :
No change whatsoever in the headcount.
We’ve run out of options about fixing the Java problems without a big intervention, which is currently being scheduled. The stability of the main search engine has been terrible for the last 4 days or so.
In the meanwhile, the search engine will keep being manually reset when it collapses (and the server rebooted when needed). That’s not ideal, so let me remind y’all of the “Alpha” button on the side, which is also a neat way to find something. Google can also help, though I don’t think they have the whole site indexed yet – do a search on Google with “writeups.org” added to the key words.
I started preparing this batch of profiles with the firm intent of catching up with the publication backlog, then realised that the backlog has already been caught up with. So this is a slightly abridged batch.
Roll call :
- A short note was added to the Bug-Eyed Bandit entry about his successor – since Bug-Eyed Bandit II is a non-entity who can’t have an entry of his own.
- MASS EFFECT. We’re about done with the first game, I think – meaning that this batch has an entry for Urdnot Wrex. Wrex is usually a sign that things are about to be finished.
Furthermore, the guns have been spun out of our main Mass Effect 2 article since it was getting kinda big, and we already have a tradition of Weapons Locker articles. However, this is still work in progress.
- Our very old and terribad entry for Commander Kraken, a 1970s Marvel villain, was completely redone. There’s a first and a second entry despite him having all of four appearances – you’ll see why.
- TRIUNE UNDERSTANDING. The main entry in Gareth’s three-entries Triune arc – Jonathan Tremont, the Ron L. Hubbard of the Marvel Universe.
- Arthur Shaman, a super-minor mercenary with hypnotic powers working for AIM.
- JOHNNY MNEMONIC. A second entry by Pur_See_i8 about the movie – the Street Preacher, Dolph Lundgren’s character.
- SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS. Ethan now covers the Amazing Friends part, beginning with Firestar.
- Sergeant Gorilla is a typical Silver Age DC Comics oddity from a weird war story.
- DISCWORLD. For after all, is it not written that Gareth wrote an entry for Lu-Tze, the Sweeper ?
- THE RED STAR. It’s Skymarshall Urik Antares‘ turn to have his texts all reworked and improved and made more accessible.
- CADRE. The rest have been reviewed and upgraded – which mostly means that the capsule entries for the New Extremists now have much better illustrations.
Well, 4,879 entries now. Java leaks are becoming a problem though, we’re scheduling a review.
Some search engine difficulties during the past few hours as a re-indexation went weird. Should be good now, barring another JVM memory leak. Sorry ’bout that.
We’ve begun to use new surface blur application techniques to moderate the graininess of old comic book pictures – without adding a smudgy aspect to the image. These are the early stages and a few shots still look a bit forced, but generally illustrations from pre-1990s books will look better. In the best cases, you’d think it was a reprint.
Most old illustrations will not get revisited with this technique though, to avoid undergoing one more round of .jpg compression loss.
Anyway, roll call:
- Taurus (Cornelius van Lunt) has had a thorough round of texts and illustrations improvement. Last time we did that there were sudden revelations about the Great Wheel as the work was underway, but this time we’re good.
- SOUL CALIBUR. Tom’s SC entry for this batch is Raphaël Sorel, the cursed fencer.
- MASS EFFECT. Now covering two more fan-favourite characters as they were during the first game :
- TRIUNE UNDERSTANDING. We start this arc of Gareth’s with a teaser of sorts – the very powerful Pagan.
- The Darkness section in the New Rules Files (Powers) for DC Heroes has been updated.
- MAN-BEAST. Many Bothans died to bring us this writeup, which was requested by the Teeming Millions of WORG readers an embarrassingly long time ago. The Man-Beast is a classic and… adaptable Marvel villain.
- The entry for the Cat (Greer Nelson) has had its texts polished, and the art was much improved.
- From Bionic Six we have an antagonist written up by Pur_See_i8 – the Perceptor.
- CADRE. More reviews and improvements for these handy, generic villains :
- X’iv is a Skrull assassin seen in Young Avengers/Runaways and written up by Gareth. We like Skrulls, they go well with our colour scheme.
- As long as his Runaways books are open, Gareth also wrote up the Dickensian villain, Provost.
- Red Wolf (William Talltrees) had a banner redone since the TPB was handy. Ditto for the Man-Ape, who had a banner and three illustrations redone. Our very old and semi-useless Man-Bull notes also got a new banner, for some reason. And there’s a new shot for Invincible, by the way.
This brings us to 4,870 entries. Given the emphasis on redoing/rewriting older entries, the big 5K is still quite a distance away.