Tag Archive: SP

Clark Ashton Smith, The Crawling Chaos, Artistry

Artistry

Bow down, I am the emperor of dreams. - Clark Ashton Smith
my pre-ramble… :-)

Letter From Clark Ashton Smith About Crawling Chaos And Art - April 14th, 1937

Letter From Clark Ashton Smith About Crawling Chaos And Art

While doing some link rot checking using the Broken Link Checker plugin I came across this old post which is about an old edited letter from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) to August Derluth.

A screenshot is at left – click to enlarge or see the original here.  CAS tells about the creation of The Crawling Chaos by the two authors, showing a natural deference for his friend, Howard Phillips Lovecraft (HPL).

Some people may know that CAS also sculpted, from soapstone if my memory is correct.  The letter mentions some of this, but mainly describes a gripe that all artists have – now, quoting directly from CAS, emphasised & paragraphed for web clarity by me…

I am pleased to hear that the sculptures continue to attract so much favorable attention. I am writing to Sloane, and offering him a copy of The Double Shadow if he hasn’t seen it. . . . On second thought, I’ll mail him an inscribed one anyway.

As to a volume of my stuff, I suppose there is no harm in trying, It makes me pretty sick to remember that at least five publishers asked HPL to submit story-material for a possible book and then turned it down.

It is curious how ready people are to admit the worth of a writer after he is dead, and how goddamned cautious they are about it while he remains alive. Death seems to bring about a sort of crystallization, so to speak. . . .

As for me. I am pretty tough, and come of a hardy and long-lived ancestry. I’ll survive my present difficulties. What the future holds, I am not sure. But I have made up my mind to quit California at the earliest possible date.

Plugging Away

So CAS just kept plugging away.  He never had any money, yet mysteriously, I’ve read nearly all his stuff!!  The bulk of this was some time ago when Panther published stacks of compilations by HPL, CAS and many others.  But, just as CAS mused, he was dead by the time I read them…

The original issues had wonderfully mystical, sometimes horrible, artwork by Bruce Pennington….

Crawling Chaos

When the band (The Crawling Chaos) was formed, it was just Jeff Crowe, Keith Wear & myself.  We all read and devoured everything to do with The Cthulu Mythos – and more! [e.g for myself it led me to Lord Dunsany, Robert Heinlein, Frederik Pohl, Philip K Dick, Daniel Keyes & the rest of SF]

Genius Loci cover

Genius Loci cover

In particular, since there’s only a few folks that now know this, Keith took it upon himself to copy the whole Bruce Pennington cover for the 1st Panther book version of CAS’s Genius Loci.

I scanned my book some time ago and cleaned away the title etc just leaving the work. That’s it, left.

Bedroom Wall

So…….Keith copied the key guts of the thing onto his bedroom wall in Ashington!  The whole wall…

You can see his copy as part of the cover for our first recorded output, Magnum Innoninandum (sic) here:

Crawling Chaos - Magnum Innoninandum (cassette cover)

Crawling Chaos – Magnum Innoninandum (cassette cover)

The original (nicked at Tynemouth) drumkit is there as well as the really noisy HH amp, Jeff’s record player, speakers & discs on the floorof his mum’s living room. Keith did the cover.

The Black Abbott of Puthuum

Genius Loci also includes one of my favourite CAS passages in the description of the Black Abbott.  (I think my favourite story has to be “The Coming of the White Worm“, but that’s for another time).  Anyway, here’s the bit about the black abbott blokey…

To add to their distress, the terrain grew rougher and steeper, and they climbed acclivitous hillsides and went down endlessly into drear valleys. Anon they came to a flat, open, pebbly space. There, all at once, it seemed that the pandemonium of evil noises drew back on every hand, receding and fading into faint, dubious whispers that died at a vast remove. Simultaneously, the circling night thinned out, and a few stars shone in the welkin, and the sharp-spined hills of the desert loomed starkly against a vermilion afterglow. The travelers paused and peered wonderingly at one another in a gloom that was no more than that of natural twilight.

“What new devilry is this?” asked Cushara, hardly daring to believe that the hellish leaguers had vanished.

“I know not,” said the archer, who was staring into the dusk.” “But here, mayhap, is one of the devils.”

The others now saw that a muffled figure was approaching them, bearing a lit lantern made of some kind of translucent horn. At some distance behind the figure, lights appeared suddenly in a square dark mass which none of the party had discerned before. This mass was evidently a large building with many windows.

The figure, drawing near, was revealed by the dim yellowish lantern as a black man of immense girth and tallness, garbed in a voluminous robe of saffron such as was worn by certain monkish orders, and crowned with the two-horned purple hat of an abbot. He was indeed a singular and unlooked-for apparition: for if any monasteries existed amid the barren reaches of Izdrel, they were hidden and unknown to the world. Zobal, however, searching his memory, recalled a vague tradition he had once heard concerning a chapter of negro monks that had flourished in Yoros many centuries ago. The chapter had long been extinct, and the very site of its monastery was forgotten. Nowadays there were few blacks anywhere in the kingdom, other than those who did duty as eunuchs guarding the seraglios of nobles and rich merchants

The animals began to display a certain uneasiness at the stranger’s approach.

“Who art thou?” challenged Cushara, his fingers tightening on the haft of his weapon.

The black man grinned capaciously, showing rows of discolored teeth whose incisors were like those of a wild dog. His enormous unctuous jowls were creased by the grin into folds of amazing number and volume; and his eyes, deeply slanted and close together, seemed to wink perpetually in pouches that shook like ebon jellies. His nostrils flared prodigiously; his purple, rubbery lips drooled and quivered, and he licked them with a fat, red, salacious tongue before replying to Cushara’s question. [isn’t this bit amazing? – SP]

“I am Ujuk, abbot of the monastery of Puthuum,” he said, in a thick voice of such extraordinary volume that it appeared almost to issue from the earth under his feet. “Methinks the night has overtaken you far from the route of travelers. I bid you welcome to our hospitality.”

So, buy the book, or read the whole story here.

Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams?

(clue – “The Hashish Eater”)
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-colored sun
Of secret worlds incredible, and take
Their trailing skies for vestment when I soar….

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WordPress Permalinks Generated But Not Redirected

Introduction

Appalled

Appalled

I’ve had a few site problems whereby my host Site 5, said I was using too many resources and crashing their systems.  Naturally, I was appalled.  I traced this to a variety of plugins plus some errors in php files which must have arrived either during the periodic updates or during editing.  These were errors whereby extra text (either blank space or a carriage return to be precise) were added to the end of the php file, which usually makes it fail.  This a is a Google search on the main error I received,

Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent …  (  This is then followed by error details; usually error on line xx, repeated several times for a variety of xx)

After battling for some time, I just gave up, exported my database key tables (things like posts, comments, etc but omitting plugin inserted tables and the very large options table which I deemed to be very bloated after over five years of continuous WordPress operation…!) and re-installed WordPress as a fresh installation on my server.

Weird Permalink Problem Following Clean Install of WordPress

This is where the weird problem arose….

SP Permalink Settings

SP Permalink Settings

When one installs WordPress for the first time, permalinks are set to the default – so this current post would be:

 http://strangelyperfect.tv/?p=11622

For SEO reasons and for many years I’ve used the format shown in the screenshot from my site shown left.  This current post will thus appear as:

http://strangelyperfect.tv/11622/wordpress-permalinks-generated-but-not-redirected

It’s a “Custom Structure” and the .htaccess file is updated automatically by WordPress when you set it.  You’ll see it’s set to:

/%post_id%/%postname%/

Now, on firing up a post, say this one,

http://strangelyperfect.tv/11428/victory-or-is-it-victory-jesse-willms-surrenders-all-to-ftc-onslaught/ ,

the actual web address I was taken to was:

http://strangelyperfect.tv/%post_id%/victory-or-is-it-victory-jesse-willms-surrenders-all-to-ftc-onslaught/  (error shown in bold)

…which redirected to the homepage of the site, http://strangelyperfect.tv/   This was not what I was expecting!  So I played with the slashes, went back to original simple permalink structure, tried some of the suggested structures – and they all worked!

A custom structure of /%postname%/ worked as well, but not the one I wanted and have used for years.

Weird.   So naturally, I tried Google.

Permalink Redirection Problem Solved.

There’s a lot on the web about this.  Most is about getting .htaccess right with permissions and the code.  But mine was okay, as were all the other suggestions to try.

A real key to resolving my problem was here, Custom Permalinks Generated But Not Redirected in the WordPress forums.  Specifically, it comes from the user, James, a Happiness Engineer!

He suggested adding index.php between the domain name and permalink structure.  So my custom structure changed to:

index.php/%post_id%/%postname%/

WordPress added a leading slash on the save and the website worked!  WAHAY!

However, the best is yet to come….

I thought that the URL was now not pretty, in fact, it was pretty ugly.  The URLs were now being shown like:

http://strangelyperfect.tv/11428/victory-or-is-it-victory-jesse-willms-surrenders-all-to-ftc-onslaught/

So I removed the index.php and reset the custom structure to what I wanted – /%post_id%/%postname%/

It worked!  WAHAY!  All posts’ URLs redirecting  how I wanted!

Conclusion

I’ve no idea, actually.  I’m suspecting some caching, somewhere down the great inter-tubes in the sky, but apart from that…………..?

  • Was it my server?  Dunno.
  • Was it DNS caching?  Dunno.
  • Was it ISP caching? Dunno

All I know is that it’s working now, and the Happiness Engineer’s suggestion sent me on my way, happy.


Postscript – added 22/11/2015

My permalinks in 2015

My permalinks in 2015

Since this time, I have not had to use the index.php fix, and the permalinks are all working correctly.  The flip-flip of adding and removing the fix….just seemed to work!

NoIdeaDeer


 

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Blakes 7 Federation Troopers on Streets of Britain

Metropolitan Police Wear Examined

The appearance of “our” police is becoming more and more like some hellish dystopian vision of oppression from all the best science fiction of the last century.

Compare and contrast the two shots below; one from the finale of the BBC series Blakes Seven, the other from the Whitehall kettle during the recent student protest against fees increases.

Blakes Seven Federation Troopers

Blakes Seven Federation Troopers

Student Protest

Student Protest

Blakes Seven Overall Plot Examined

Now check out the script description from the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) entry for Blakes Seven and you will realise how far along the route to totalitarian oppression we have really come since the futuristic script was written….

In the third century of the second calendar, a corrupt galactic federation, with Earth at its center, drugs its billions of citizens into placid submission. A rebel named Roj Blake, who once tried to organize a resistance group to overthrow this regime, was caught and divested of his memories.

But Blake’s revolutionary spirit is revived when he witnesses a mass slaughter by police that is covered up by the federation officials. He escapes exile on board a prison spaceship and, together with a lovable band of outlaws, takes over a vacant alien space cruiser of awesome drive capability. Naming their new ship as “The Liberator”, Blake and his group travel the Milky Way to seek any opportunity to undermine the evil federation.  (the emphasis is mine, SP)

Thank Goodness for Wikileaks!

Of course, this is exactly why Wikileaks is so necessary nowadays.  But just because it has become so wearily tiresome to see the endless evidence of corruption, torture and nepotism done in our name, does not mean we should not see and know about it!

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How to Clean Up Outlook Contact Phone Numbers using VBA

Introduction

VBA for Fix Phone Numbers

VBA for Fix Phone Numbers

I got a new phone and when synchronised with Microsoft Outlook, the phone numbers don’t dial out properly because of spaces & STD bracketing.  It’s an LG – the previous Nokia was great, as was it’s synchronising software!

Solution

I used VBA in a workaround via Microsoft Excel!  (If you don’t have Excel, this won’t work…).  It will convert phone numbers like (+44) 1234 456789 to 0044123456789.  It also removes “-” entries and ones with multiple spaces as a number, like ”   ” which are invisible but muck stuff up!  [but see later addendum for later code additions, code is here: FixPhoneNumbers – SP]

First Step

Export the “Contacts” folder from Outlook as an Excel spreadsheet to your hard drive.  Give it a sensible name!

Second Step

Open the Excel file and then press Alt + F11 to open the Visual Basic Editor (VBE).  We’re gonna write code now!

Third Step

Insert a new code module.  You can give it a name if you like.  I didn’t and just left it as it was.

Fourth Step

Copy this VBA code into the module in the VBE. (That’s a screenshot of my code above!)

Option Explicit

Public Sub FixPhoneNumbers()
Dim rg As Range
Dim r As Integer
Dim c As Integer
Dim wks As Worksheet
Dim s As String

Application.ScreenUpdating = False
Set wks = ThisWorkbook.ActiveSheet
r = wks.Cells(1, 1).CurrentRegion.Rows.Count
c = wks.Cells(1, 1).CurrentRegion.Columns.Count

With wks
     .Columns("AD:AT").NumberFormat = "@"

 For c = 30 To 46 Step 1 'all phone fields
      For r = 2 To .Cells(1, 1).CurrentRegion.Rows.Count
      Set rg = .Cells(r, c)
           s = rg.Value
           s = Replace(s, "(", "")
           s = Replace(s, " ", "")
           s = Replace(s, ")", "")
           s = Replace(s, "+44", "0044")
           s = Replace(s, "+", "00")
           s = Replace(s, "-", "")
      If Len(s) < 7 And Len(s) > 0 Then s = "01278" & s 'assume local phone #
          rg.Value = s
      Next r
 Next c
End With

Application.ScreenUpdating = True
Set rg = Nothing
Set wks = Nothing

End Sub

The key is the lines with the Replace function.  Additional lines can be easily added if more gotchas are spotted in your own numbers.

If you don’t need a line to run, remark (Rem) it out by putting an apostrophe at the line beginning, like this one here… ‘

Fifth Step

From the Debug menu in the VBE, compile the code.  This ensures that no typos etc have got in.

Save the file.

Sixth Step

Now run the procedure called “FixPhoneNumbers”.  The simplest way to do this is to make sure the screen cursor is somewhere within the code you’ve copied in – and then hit F5 on the keyboard.

If this is confusing, go to the main Excel screen, hit Alt + F8 and run the macro, which unsurprisingly is called “FixPhoneNumbers”!!

Seventh Step

Save the file again if the changes look alright.

If they’re not, then close the file without saving, then re-open, and adjust the VBA code to suit your columns, which will be the most likely thing you’ll need to adjust.

Then do all the above again, from the Fifth Step onwards.

Eighth Step

Import the file back into Outlook.

Overwrite old contacts with the new ones.

There should be no need to map fields etc because we haven’t mucked about with them!

Caveats

  • The code is designed to work with a standard output dump from Outlook.  If you’ve added or removed fields from the contacts part of Outlook, the export will be different and you’ll need to check which columns contain phone numbers.  Modify the VBA code to suit.  In total, there were 92 columns in the export from Outlook, so if you don’t have this number then you’ll probably need a quick code modification. (That’s why I checked the count at the beginning of the code with the CurrentRegion bit so that I could get the dataset size.  In the end, I only needed a row count, but I’ve left the code in so that you can step through the code using F8 to check yours out.  Clear?  Don’t worry. )
  • Some entries I had were local phone numbers.  My code is 01278 so this is added and will need changing to suit your own local STD code if you’ve entered phone numbers without the exchange.
  • I check that the UK international code is correct.  Change the 44 to your own as appropriate.
  • There’s no error checking in the code.  But it should work – it did for me!

ADDENDUM: New Code Version!

This code is smoother and has more features than previously, although I still don’t error check.

It’s advantages are:

  1. It checks all columns and looks for the words “Phone” or “Fax” in the data headings.  In this way, any logical Outlook customisations are taken care of!
  2. It prompts the user for their local STD and National codes, placing these in the correct place.

Next Steps:

  1. I’ll turn the code into an xla add-in with a one-click button.
  2. I’ll make the whole thing work directly on the Outlook contacts from within Outlook.  I’ve used the Outlook object model before, just not very often!  So watch this space as current Outlook addins are pricey and a bit of a kludge from what I’ve read…

The New (Improved) Code Version

Download plain text version: FixPhoneNumbers

Option Explicit

Public Sub FixPhoneNumbers()
Dim rg As Range
Dim r As Integer
Dim c As Integer
Dim wks As Worksheet
Dim s As String
Dim LocalCode As Variant
Dim NationalCode  As Variant

Application.ScreenUpdating = False

LocalCode = InputBox("Do You want Full Code for Local Numbers?" _
                     , "Enter local STD/City dialling code" _
                     , "01278")
NationalCode = InputBox("Do You want cleaned up National Code? e.g. 44=UK" _
                      & vbCrLf _
                      & "+44 goes to 0044" _
                     , "Enter National code" _
                     , "44")

Set wks = ThisWorkbook.ActiveSheet

With wks
       .Range(.Cells(1, 1), .Cells(1, 1).End(xlToRight)).Font.Bold = True

          For c = 1 To .Cells(1, 1).CurrentRegion.Columns.Count Step 1 'all columns
              s = LCase(.Cells(1, c).Value)       's picks up column heading
                                                  'lower case to match search string later
                                                  'as text compare doesn't work
                'now find phone/fax fields and if found, fix numbers
     If (InStr(s, "phone") + InStr(s, "fax")) > 0 Then
            .Columns(c).NumberFormat = "@"      'make text format for tel nos
                                                'allows leading zeroes!

                     For r = 2 To .Cells(1, 1).CurrentRegion.Rows.Count
                         Set rg = .Cells(r, c)
                         s = rg.Value            're-use s
                         s = Replace(s, "(", "")
                         s = Replace(s, " ", "")
                         s = Replace(s, ")", "")
                             If Len(NationalCode) > 0 Then 'not empty string
                                  s = Replace(s, "+" & NationalCode, "00" & NationalCode)
                             End If
                         s = Replace(s, "+", "00")
                         s = Replace(s, "-", "")
                             If Len(s) < 7 And Len(s) > 0 Then s = LocalCode & s
                              rg.Value = s
                     Next r

     Else
        'nowt
     End If
       Next c
End With

Application.ScreenUpdating = True
Set rg = Nothing
Set wks = Nothing

End Sub

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Pacific Webworks, Lawyers and Social Networking

Introduction

The last thing we need is more scummy scammers and following on from Google’s legal action against Pacific Webworks (PWW) one would naively have thought that the “business” folk would be more circumspect.  (See previous article and comments, http://strangelyperfect.tv/5146/more-on-google-profits-and-pacific-webworks/ )

At the beginning of June, it appeared that the Google case against PWW had fallen flat and that PWW had gotten away with it.  This certainly appears so from yesterday’s press announcement by the odious PWW management, such as here.  It says,

SALT LAKE CITY, Jun 28, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Pacific WebWorks, Inc.  today announced that a Stipulated Final Judgment and Order for Permanent Injunction was entered in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah in the Google, Inc. vs. Pacific WebWorks, Inc. matter.

CEO Ken Bell commented, “We are very pleased to have this behind us. We have devoted a great deal of time and energy to resolving this situation and are anxious to return to the business of growing our company responsibly and profitably through our new marketing program. We appreciate our shareholders’ patience and understanding as we deal with the many details involved in the development and marketing of our products to small business users.”

Quite Bad

This looks quite bad until you realise that the PWW share price and dealing volumes have both fallen!

So what does the market know about the “settlement” that we don’t, eh?

Bloosky.com and The lawyer

PWW and Bloosky, were both named by Google, and Bloosky were (and still are) represented by Blair Jackson, who is a lawyer and on the company payroll of Bloosky in various positions.  (See at the bottom of here).

On checking out Mr Jackson, he’s part of:

CHRISTIANSEN & JACKSON, P.C.
10421 S. Jordan Gateway, Suite 600
South Jordan, Utah 84095
Telephone 801.576.2662
Facsimile 801.415.9340
Attorneys for Defendant Bloosky Interactive, LLC

You can see this on some delaying action in the Google case by Jackson for Bloosky, documents here and here.  But it gets better…   In this document, you’ll see that Bloosky are suing someone called Daniel L. Balsam for not adhering to an earlier agreement not to disclose what was said… or something. (I’ve yet to check this through!  But it looks a bit like pot-kettle-black to me…)

Whatever.

socialtoolkit.com

Yes. Whatever.  A bit more fishing on Jackson took me to the website(s) of one Vernon Howard.

He was scammed by socialtoolkit.com, in  exactly the same way as thousands of others were by Google Treasure Chest – promoted, run, designed and financed by Pacific Webworks.  It’s a scammers paradise with copious bad-web references and complaints.   The “business” says on it’s website,

Each day, more and more individuals, small business owners and Fortune 500 companies across the globe are realizing the value of SocialToolKit.com and choosing to increase their Social Networking efficiency, productivity and profits.   (Note to self:  “I must increase my Social Networking efficiency” – SP)

Here’s Vernon’s extremely well written story:

It’s an incredibly detailed tale, complete with copious screenshots, of his dealings with the various parties involved.  And he’s no shrinking violet.  He’s taking the buggers on!

There’s only one trouble.

He’s using Blair Jackson of Christiansen & Jackson, PC – Attorneys at Law, to take on socialtoolkit.com !!

How is this Weird?

Weird?  It’s positively scary!

Because if you read Vernon Howard’s account, you’ll see that he was billed by  YourProfitGateway.com

YourProfitGateway.com, when you check it’s (now freely accessible) WHOIS, unsurprisingly redirects to http://www.visualwebtools.com/site/

visualwebtools.com

If you’ve been following this, you’ll know from a while back that Visual WebTools is owned and run by…….. (trumpet fanfare)

Pacific WebWorks!

Latest News from The Visual WebTools Camp

Pacific WebWorks Updates Marketing Efforts

Thursday June 24, 2010 11:52:01 EDT SALT LAKE CITY, Jun 24, 2010

Last Thursday, this is what the odious CEO Ken Bell of PWW said about his company, their marketing and their product, Visual WebTools.

Pacific WebWorks, Inc., www.pacificwebworks.com, (OTCBB:PWEB) announced today that the company continues to perfect their new marketing program which offers prospective customers the opportunity to receive a tutorial on the product and interact with the company during the buying process.

CEO Ken Bell stated,

“Visual WebTools continues to be one of the premier online software products for small businesses in the marketplace. We expect our new, more interactive marketing approach to result in a more informed buyer who will be better equipped to employ our technologies into their online business. As a result, we expect future revenues to be more stable. We anticipate revenues to accelerate during the second half of the year with continued profitability.”

Bell continued,

“During the first six months of 2010 (i.e. since Google sued them – SP the company has focused on stabilizing profitability, servicing current customers and developing our new multi-tiered marketing program. We expect new customer acquisition in the future to be derived largely from our new direct contact marketing program. With our strong balance sheet, a current ratio in excess of 10x, tangible book value of nearly double our current market capitalization and strong historical earnings, we are positioned to continue to take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace.”

What are Google Doing?

The emphasis above, is mine.  From it, you can clearly see that Bell claims that his company is responsible for all the things that lead up to the nefarious practices that then lead to people being scammed.

So is the Google thing over with yet?  Why haven’t the Salt Lake Tribune said anything about it yet?

I still think there’s more to come out with this.  Remember the falling share price of PWW?  The markets know, you know.

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