Tuesday, March 29, 2011

24 Weeks of Sequentials pt. XIII

Unlucky week thirteen...

Nah, scratch that. Lucky week thirteen.

I'm going to keep this post short, just like my hair. After this past weekend the entire household is bald. We'll be saving on the water bill and shampoo for a while. Though I must say the chilled air feels a lot colder now.

Enough about the recent baldness, ON WITH THE SHOW!

As with every Tuesday be sure to stop over at Ryan Claytor's website where he's posted his next page of And Then One Day#9. This weeks page is absolutely amazing. It also has a great homage to Family Circus. So pop on over and see if you can spot the homage. www.elephanteater.com

I'm going to put in a little extra to next weeks post. It may be art, it may be a review or recommended reading. Only time will tell, so stay tuned!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

S.P.A.C.E., Week 12 of Snarky, and Head Shaving

Space... the final frontier.

S.P.A.C.E. as in the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo. Though not the final frontier it's always a great event. This year was no exception.

It's great to be at an event where the crowd focuses on the comics themselves. This is a rare occurence in the days where most Comic Conventions are geared towards an entertainment event. It was great getting to see a lot of new faces and getting a chance to catch up with some old friends/compatriots. This year Ryan Claytor, Jon Gordon, and I went out with Max Ink & Co. to get a chance to really experience Columbus. We had a great meal at The Red Door Tavern and were introduced to the amzing Columbus institution of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. Of the latter I can only drool when I think about that wonderful experience. If you are ever in Columbus be sure to stop and check them out, you will not be displeased.

Aside from getting a good piece of Columbus culture I had the opportunity to pick up some new books. I plan on doing some reviews over the next few weeks of many titles that I picked up so keep your eyes open.

Well on to the next item, week 12 of "24 Weeks of Sequentials". This marks the halfway point for the first issue of The Tao of Snarky: The Cutting Edge. I really enjoy playing around on the planet Rex 9 and emmersing myself into the world. The creatures and characters have started to take on a life of there own. So we return to the Den where Sgt Sahara is having some issues.

In case you've missed the previous pages you can find them through the following links, or visit older posts.

The Cutting Edge pg 1
The Cutting Edge pg 2
The Cutting Edge pg 3
The Cutting Edge pg 4
The Cutting Edge pg 5
The Cutting Edge pg 6
The Cutting Edge pg 7
The Cutting Edge pg 8
The Cutting Edge pg 9
The Cutting Edge pg 10
The Cutting Edge pg 11

Last but not least for this post...

Lissa, her son Maksen, his father Jon and I are shaving our heads for the St Baldrick's Foundation. We're doing this and taking donations for pediatric cancer research. This is for a great cause and if you could take a moment to donate what you are able to it would be greatly appreciated. You can donate by clicking the image below or clicking here.

Having all four of us shaving our heads I wanted to do a Beatle's tribute group photo to help represent the team which we named Let It Be Shaved. So enjoy and remember you can click on the image if you'd like to find out more about what we're doing or to donate to a great cause.

Yes, Lissa is actually shaving her head for this event. This is a great show of solidarity for children who are battling cancer. If that's not reason enough to donate whatever you can then I don't know what other reason you would need.

That's all for this week I look forward to seeing everyone again next week.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Ides of March

Beware the ides of March...

Too true, for this post is late, though you may be overloaded by content.

I want apologize right off the bat, I had other projects that pushed back starting this weeks Snarky page, I started coloring the page at 9:00pm when this post was supposed to publish. However the wait is worth it...

Not only do you get a new page of The Tao of Snarky: The Cutting Edge, you get the honest and wordy reviews for my new Network Attached Storage device and the magical new All-in-one Large format printer scanner.

First things first, new Snarky page.

I can't get enough of the last three panels on this page. I'm really proud of them and they make me laugh every time I see them. Especially the feeling in the second to last panel where Sgt. Sahara pulls the phone away to scream directly into the receiver, classic.

Well now it's onto the promised reviews.

Buffalo Linkstation Pro LS-XH1.5TL NAS Drive.

I want to start his off with a little disclaimer.

This is the first and only Network Attached Storage (NAS) device I have ever owned or used. The review is done from the viewpoint of a user and done without comparison to other models.
When I started considering a NAS drive I had 3 basic criteria for a NAS to suit my needs

1. A minimum 1 Terabyte of storage
2. DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) certified for media sharing
3. Web access to the information stored on the drive.

While researching the various NAS drives on the market (via reviews, user comments, and spec sheets) I usually found one problem or another with various models. The Most common problem though was transfer speed. When I looked further into this complaint I notices it happened when the NAS units had low speed processors. Add higher processor speed to the criteria.

4. Higher Processor speed.

Oh almost forgot one other thing for the criteria, cost had to be under $200.

5. Total cost below $200

After taking all of this into consideration I actually managed to find a model that would fit these needs.

Enter the Buffalo Linkstation Pro LS-XH1.5.

This had everything that I was looking for and had received decent reviews. Out of the box this item did what it was supposed to. The installation was easy though problems occurred, not directly with the unit but with the supplied backup software Memeo. When the backup software was trying to write info to the drive it kept giving a "delayed write failure" error. If you've never had this error you're lucky, it usually means the drive you are trying to write to has errors and will not be working for much longer. After updating firmware to the drive and updating the backup software everything worked smoothly. I'm going to break up my review of the item based upon the two main functions I was looking for.

Network Storage & Backup

This drive has worked fantastic for read/write speeds. Once the updates of the software and firmware were complete this device functioned well. The licensed Memeo software provided was a nice bonus, it functions as a folder mirroring backup. What this means is that you choose certain folders for the program to monitor and when the contents of that folder or sub-folder change it compares and updates the backup folder in real time (it starts backing up the file right away based upon available computer resources.) This is different than what's known as a disk backup which basically creates an "image" for the entire contents of your drive. I personally only need certain information backed up especially after the hard drive "melt down" from last year. This device is also equipped with web access. What that means is that with an Internet connection and the NAS drive on you can access the stored information ANYWHERE.

Media Server

This is one of the most delightful things to have in the house. I moved all of my music and videos to this drive so that it can stream/share music and video to devices connected to my home network (other computers/laptops, mobile devices, Video streaming devices/TV) this has removed the hassle of having to leave my main computer to gain access to the shared files. My computer uses over 300 watts of electricity, which puts a nice sized strain on the electricity bill each month if it's being used as a media server. The Linkstation Pro only uses about 17 watts of electricity. Huge power consumption difference which makes me much happier.

I've been very pleased with this product. The Linkstation Pro has been a blessing. The transfer rates are pretty high (much faster that transferring information to a USB drive) even while streaming video to the living room TV. I'll chalk this one up to the processor in this unit, speeding up the read/write rate quite a bit. Though sadly the streaming of video has limited functionality (Play & Stop) the smaller amount of power consumption makes up for it. Hopefully this will be addressed in a future firmware update.

All in all this product is worth more than it's weight in gold. Which is great because I got a great deal on this from newegg.com, $159.99 with free shipping. Cost wise it came out to be about 9.6 cents per Megabyte of storage, which is fantastic price for what you get. I mean it provides multiple back up solutions to every computer in your home including real time folder backups, it shares and streams music/video to devices connected to the network, and you can access the information on the drive from Computer/IOS/Android device that has a connection to the Internet. Honestly though it does a lot more that though I don't have a use for any other functionality at this time, which is why I'm not going to write about it.

Down to the nitty gritty, if you have a home network and have important information that you need to back up regularly (and you forget to do on a regular basis, like me.) Then a Network Attached Storage device is a solution for what ails you and I'd highly recommend the Buffalo Linkstation Pro LS-XH series NAS drive. IT does everything I need it to do and much more. Though if you are planning to get a NAS device do your research and purchase wisely.

*End review*

Now Last week I promised a second review about a new all-in-one printer/scanner however I will not be doing the review this week as I have only owned the item for 1 day.

You see there was a snafu from the company I ordered from about availability/back order/and discontinuation of the product. It was a frustrating situation considering I'm the one who found the problem, but I digress. I found a newer model which looked to be a better machine all around. So next week I will have a full review on the New Brother MFC-J6510DW. So far though this machine is incredible and it's indispensable for me as a Comic Artist (or anyone who needs something to print or scan items up to A3 in size,) for an incredible price ($179.99 w/ $1.99 shipping through newegg.com.) I've touted theMustek A3 Scanner to everyone I know which is price around $150. Now unlike the Mustek A3 scanner the Brother MFC-J6510DW has full Windows (XP/Vista/7) and Mac OS (10.4+) support. Mac Mustek owners take note.

Jeez, for not reviewing it I've said a lot already...

Screw it, I'm just going to give a review right now on this machine. I'm that excited about it.

Brother MFC-J6510DW All-in-one Printer/Scanner

The Brother does it all, I mean it when I say that: Faxing, Copying, Printing and Scanning images/pages up to a3 size (which is slightly larger than 11x17.) I'm going to break the review into each of those four parts.

Faxing: Sorry, never going to use this function. Probably works great, I however will probably never find out.

Copying: I'm not sure how much I'm going to use this functionality but I tested it out and I have to say I'm impressed, I copied both a text page and the cover of a comic. Both copies came out clean, the text had slight bleeding (due to inkjet printing on standard bond paper, most people won't notice it but I'm finicky) and the color print came out incredible, great color matching overall. Copying a single sheet for color took less than 10 seconds from hitting the start button.

Printing: With this machine there's one paper tray that stores paper up to A3 sized paper and a single page bypass on the back of the machine. The tray handles the multiple page sizes quite well while the single page tray bypass has a harder time with thicker stock paper. I was able to print on Blue Line Pro's Strathmore based 3-ply comic art boards and Canson's Fanboy comic art boards. Though using the single page tray bypass feeder has a hitch. It seems the Brother corporation included a flap to make sure people realize its only a single page feeder. This puts resistance on every page that feeds through it. On thicker pages naturally there's more resistance, this caused the guides to slide out of place and the comic art board feed unevenly. This was solved using a clip as a stopper to hold the guides in place. Asides from that the quality of the print is everything you expect from an inkjet printer, it can provide photo quality though the images aren't as rich due to the CMYK ink system instead of the photo ink system. The color matching is quite nice and it appears almost as it is on the screen. Text and images are reproduced quite well. Over all a great printer. The tray bypass feeder is my only issue and it's easy enough to work with. Print speed is great with speeds up to 35ppm (pages per minute.)

Scanning: This was the one part that worried me most about this purchase. I really don't know why I was worried having used it. The Brother Corporation has included a great scanner unit in this machine. It's only weakness is the software which is Paperport SE, the Twain Acquire inPhotoshop is incredibly simple and I would have like to see more options to adjust the image pre-scan. This might be a good thing for many people who aren't as nit-picky about there software, as it gives them a basic interface to provide an excellent scanned image. Truthfully though most image manipulation and color balancing takes place after the image is scanned so the limited user interface is a non-issue. The images that come the scanner are nothing less than stunning, it picks up every little imperfection in such a beautiful way. That said, this scanner comes with a warning, in any setting other than "black & white" scanning you will find out quickly what inks you've used are black and not-so-black-but-really-gray.

Now that that's out of the way there's something very important about all of this testing and this product.

Everything that's been done has been done wirelessly.


That means one printer for the whole household, that makes me happy. It doesn't stop there though, the physical user interface on the unit is really nice. Asides from providing the option for photo printing/editing from a memory card or USB device, copy, and fax services, it also provides scanning services where you can scan directly to a source. That source can be a chosen computer on the network, an e-mail, a USB device, or memory card. I haven't used this functionality and really don't know when I will need to, but it's nice knowing I can if I felt like it.

Asides from the interface I really want to point out this little fact. Wirelessly, this unit scanned an 11"x17" full color image and loaded it into Photoshop at 600 dpi in under 20 seconds from the time you hit the scan button. 20 SECONDS!!! My Mustek A3 took well more than that and It had to stop and dump information to Photoshop at least 3 times for every image. This is just incredible for me.

If you're still reading this and you are an artist (Comic creating friends take note,) and you are looking for a large format printer/scanner than I would recommend the Brother MFC-J6510W. It's larger than your normal printer and will take up some space, but being wireless you can put it anywhere within range of your wireless router.

In short this machine is amazing, hands down incredible. If you're in the market for an A3 scanner forget the Mustek A3, you should purchase this model. It's not that much more expensive and will provide much more bang for the buck.

Well that was long winded but necessary. For me, anyways.

If you are still reading, I'm impressed and if not you wouldn't know the difference. That wraps this up for this week. Sorry for the late post I had a lot to say in the reviews.

Look forward to seeing everyone here next week.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

24 Weeks of Sequentials pt. X

Here we are at week ten, and it's Fat Tuesday... where's my Paczki? I've been to busy working on this page to get them, that's where they are. Ah well, maybe next year.

It's funny with these weekly pages. I find that by setting this goal/deadline my subconscious plays with my production. What I mean by this is that I find I've been creating more work for myself than is necessary. Spending to much time on one step or another thinking I have plenty of time. Then I find myself rushing at the last minute to get it completed. Well it's time to work on that, stay focused, and eliminate unnecessary work.

As frustrating as it can be sometimes, i wouldn't want to be doing anything else. Well let's get back to it... here's page 10.

As with every Tuesday be sure to stop over at Ryan Claytor's website where he's posted his next page of And Then One Day#9. www.elephanteater.com.

That's all for this week. Next week I'll be posting some information/reviews on two new pieces of equipment I've received for my computer setup, they are as follows.

1. An all in one Printer/Scanner that prints and scans up to 11"x17" pages wirelessly (I'll be getting this delivered later this week, the review is pending on how much I get to use it before Tuesday.

2. A NAS which is a network storage device that's set up to mirror certain folders on my computer and back up the information from the folders in real time.

I love getting a chance to play with new equipment that can provide a relatively cheap solution to a streamlined work setup.

Catch everyone next week,


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

24 Weeks of Sequentials pt. IX

Well here we are at week nine, seriously where does the time go? Hell, imagine how It'll feel at week 24. It'll probably feel like I just blinked and there was suddenly 24 pages in front of me.

Only time will tell, eh?

I'll keep the chatter to a minimum... and now... page 9.

I hope everyone is enjoying these new pages, I'm enjoying creating them. Can't wait to see the finished product in print.

In case you've missed the previous pages you can find them through the following links, or visit older posts.

That's all for this week. I'm back off to work, maybe I can get ahead on this stuff and get a chance to post more art on here.