Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Perseverance of Weird Al Yankovic

Meeting Weird Al at BotCon 2009
The odds are you've probably already heard that Weird Al Yankovic's most recent album, Mandatory Fun, has officially been named the top album on the Billboard chart this week. Although Weird Al has been doing albums for more than three decades, this has never happened before, so it's kind of a big deal. Suffice it to say, being an album of parodies and funny novelty songs, this is not the kind of thing that normally tops the charts (in fact, according to Buzzfeed, the last comedy album to debut at #1 was in 1960, by the still-living legend Bob Newhart - UPDATE 7/26/14 - I've since verified that the last comedy album to reach #1 at all was in 1963, so it's still been more than 50 years however you slice it!).

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Unofficial Transformers Club and Convention Data Pages Needs Help!

As many of you know, I have made it a bit of a hobby for the past few years to collect information regarding the various convention and club exclusives toys, dating back to the first BotCon in 1994, and collect them on what I have called "The Unofficial Transformers Club and Convention Data Pages" (at least, that's what I've called them since expanding from one to three pages sometime in late 2011/early 2012). When I started the project, I had some free web hosting space through my internet access provider, but when I changed providers several years ago, I lost that privilege, and had to find an alternative.

After a bit of research, I ended up with Zymic. Besides offering a free service, they gave me the ability to change from an unwieldy multiple-directory URL to a comparatively clean one: http://gbblackrock.zzl.org/

Over the years, Zymic has become increasingly difficult to work with. Site outages would crop up from time to time, with no real timeline for getting fixed. Usually, these would be fixed within a day or so, and so while this was annoying, it was never more than a nuisance. After all, the site doesn't generate a large amount of traffic, except perhaps during convention season.

Since about the time of BotCon 2014, however, the situation has gone from nuisance to unacceptable. While I was able to make an update on the Friday of the convention, I have been unable to access the site since, nor upload any of the further updates I've since been able to make to my master files. I did not actually discover this problem for a couple of days, as I was away in London for about a week, and thought that the problem might somehow (don't ask me how) be related to accessing the site from so far away. When a conversation with a fellow fan online assured me that no one could access the site, I realized the problem was more widespread, and upon my return to the States a few days ago, I started to look into the problem with Zymic.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to get any concrete information from Zymic directly. The Twitter account they set up for announcing server issues hasn't been updated since February, and their webmaster forums have been "offline for a spot of maintenance" for quite some time (I can't verify exactly how long, though). An e-mail to their administrator address has gone unanswered, as have tweets (from people other than myself) asking for more information. I am left to assume that the service has simply been abandoned.

There is, obviously, truth to the mantra, "you get what you pay for," but since there is little expectation that I will ever generate income from the site, I see no point in paying for a more stable server. This is a hobby. Not a job. It's supposed to be fun (both for myself and for those fans who use the site).

So this brings me to my reason for posting. What do you guys think? Is this a site worth saving? Do you find it useful? What effort should I undertake to move it elsewhere? If I choose to do so, what are my best options?

For those who may have been unaware of the site until now, you can still see an archived version (obviously not updated with the most recent information) via the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.

Thanks for any and all comments!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Countdown to BotCon 2014 - Pounce and Wingspan

Last week, I mentioned that there is a rumor running around about what toys will be at-convention exclusives at BotCon 2014. We'll find out for sure if these rumors are true by the end of the week, but in the meantime, these rumors give me a chance to feature a pair I've been looking for an excuse to do for over four years now: Pounce and Wingspan.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Countdown to BotCon 2014 - Thundertron

When fans were speculating about what characters might be one of the "pirates" in this year's "Pirates vs. Knights" set at BotCon, Cannonball wasn't the only name to consistently come up. Although there aren't a huge number of pirate-themed Transformers through the 30-year history of the franchise, at least one other has been used fairly recently: Thundertron.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Countdown to BotCon 2014 - Cybertron Cannonball

As mentioned before, BotCon 2014 is featuring exclusive toys centered around a "Pirates vs. Knights" theme. Some fans may be surprised to know that there are, in fact, a few pre-existing "Pirate" characters in the Transformers franchise. One of these was introduced in the Cybertron toyline in 2006: Cannonball, and even when the convention theme was first revealed to fans several months ago, it was pretty obvious that one of the figures in the box set would be a new version of this character. But let's focus on the original for now....

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Countdown to BotCon 2014 - BotCon 2007 Exclusive Alpha Trion

With BotCon 2014 less than a month away, it seems time to get back into the swing of things here on the blog. This year's theme for the convention toys will be "Pirates vs. Knights," an evocative concept that has generated a great deal of speculation about what characters and molds will be used. One of the molds suggested has been the Vector Prime mold, but since I've already featured that toy (and also used it in my Pre-Beast Wars Family Feud photocomic), I'll instead showcase the BotCon 2007 use of that mold as Alpha Trion.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

May the Fourth Be With You - Transformers Crossovers Yoda

It's May 4th, also known to many around the world as "Star Wars Day," or, as my friends often hear it (if only through me), "Bad Pun Day." As I'm writing this, the opening crawl to Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is scrolling up my television screen. Time to pull out another Transformers feature from the now-defunct "Crossovers" line. Having already featured Darth Vader (as the Death Star) and Han Solo & Chewbacca (as the Millennium Falcon), it's time to showcase Yoda.

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