Rawr Bear!

New Project

Hi LJ, long time no use. But I'm not sure where else folks post blog stuff these days, and I have this old LJ account, so why not use it.

So I've been getting more and more into space sim games in the last 8 months or so, and specifically following and playtesting the Star Citizen alpha. They are adding more and more features, which require more and more button mappings, and you only have so many buttons even on the Logi/Saitek X56 Rhino HOTAS.

The popular add-on to anyone's flight sim desktop who is serious about MOAR BUTTONS in their rig typically jumps to this Farm Sim Side Panel: https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826197234

Which I looked at and though, "Wow, $150 for a bulky piece of awkward plastic with no lighting and I'd have to make a bunch of stupid little stickers to label it which would be pointless because when I switch games those stickers no longer mean anything..." It's 2018. We have science. We have technology. We can do better than this, and for cheaper!

Which has led me to my latest project: my 22 Button Programmable USB MFD. What's an MFD you ask? It's a Multi-Function Display, which is typically some sort of screen surrounded by a series of buttons which are linked to functions on the screen and change the mode or functionality of numerous parameters. Typically they are used in aircraft for managing a cluster of functions in one place, such as navigation, aircraft operations parameters, autopilot, radios and a lot more.

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Rawr Bear!

Eulogy for a Best Friend

Born Kelly Switser, he was a person of many names to different people. As a young adult he changed his name to Kele Kravelin – Kele is the Hopi Indian word for Kestrel, a small bird of prey and Kravelin a name to honor his Romani Gypsy heritage. Most of his friends knew him as G’razel, a fantasy persona which represented an ideal version of himself. To me he was often just affectionately known as ‘cat’.

In the over 20 years I’ve known Kele, he’s been many things to me: boyfriend, co-worker, roommate, lover, business partner, collaborator – but most importantly he was my best friend. Many powerful words describe his character: loyal, honest, quiet, friendly, dependable, humble, thoughtful, creative, capable, playful, stoic. When he was in college he marched and protested for gay rights all over the east coast and was a constant supporter of human decency and civil rights throughout his life. He loved animals and people as equals and was truly compassionate and concerned for their well-being and enrichment in life – Kele often sacrificed his own comfort and security for that of others.

I met Kele when I was 20 years old and we were both struggling and living far from home. His kindness and honesty were instantly endearing and it wasn’t long before we fell in love and were living and working together in Louisville, Kentucky. He was there for me when my mother died not long after and never wavered as a true friend. We shared many of our best times and our worst times, and we would wind up going separate ways over the years, but always finding our way back to each other as friends, roommates, co-workers and partners in business and creative endeavors because we knew each other and trusted one another so deeply.

Kele was born with a rare form of the genetic condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is often fatal by the age of 30. But a groundbreaking new surgery he had when he was still a teenager, coupled with new synthetic hormone treatments, gave him hope to beat the odds and defeat the fatal condition. Sadly, it’s likely that the remnants of his thyroid are what led to his recent bout with cancer which he fought valiantly through. I’d just like to take a moment to say something many of his friends have said over the last couple years: fuck cancer.

Despite the recent battle with his own body, I want to emphasize just how much life Kele had in him. He was one of the few people in this world who never let not knowing how to do something stop him from doing it. If he didn’t know, he would learn and do on his own or with help from others. Even as disease was trying to hold him back, he was going back to school to study and learn amazing new skills and technology.

In his career he was thoughtful and unflinching; no matter the job he would perform it to the best of his ability without complaint no matter how tedious or unsavory. He had no trouble picking up new skills and finding more efficient ways to get work done. He was reliable and talented and you could always trust that he would either accomplish the tasks he set out to do or communicate where he needed assistance or guidance. He never shirked duties or shrank away from challenges, instead always rising to the occasion quietly and humbly.

He was a creative and thoughtful spirit as well, creating new fantasy worlds and characters to inhabit them, and exploring the worlds and characters crafted by others – he was enchanted by exploring the creative space of possibilities. Much of his time and many of the people he touched were through his creations and the creations of others both online and in games played with others. Sharing those experiences was one of the greatest joys to Kele.

I looked forward to many more years of trust and work and friendship with Kele - sadly we don’t choose our time to leave this world. But I will never forget what an amazing person he has been and how knowing him has made me better. It has been a sincere honor to know and be known by such an amazing and genuine model of trust, compassion and friendship as Kele. His spirit and friendship will always remain as constant a companion as he had ever been.
Rawr Bear!

Furry Ark Server

I just wanted to guage the interest in a furry Ark server. I am running one right now and am happy to give the password to interested furs who just want to explore the game and have a save PvE place to explore and figure the game out as long as you're not intent upon any griefing. This is a very laid-back, friendly, PvE server with extra resources and some tweaks to improve the overall survival balance.

If that kind of server it not what you're interested in (I.e. you'd like a furry hardcore or PvP server instead) let me know and I'll consider getting another more hardcore server going as well. I may not respond super-fast to LJ comments so feel free to email me at polaris.ursa@gmail.com directly if you've got feedback or would like an invite!
Rawr Bear!

Good Business Sense

FurBuy's road has come to the edge of a cliff. It will take a community to build a bridge, otherwise the future falls off into the sea.

The Situation

Auction sites are dying. We've been actively tracking all of the furry auction sites for nearly 2 years now and the data are quite conclusive on this - Furbid is officially gone, Dealer's Den is close to nil, and FurBuy has lost about half of it's projected business over the last year. The sales aren't disappearing, they're moving: to furry image board "journal auctions". Over the last 8 months we've been carefully tracking (by hand mind you) the growth and success of these unregulated and unlicensed online auctions hosted in image board journals and submission posts. We've watched time and again as paying FurBuy subscribers move to the journal auction format, for one reason or another. Every time this happens, FurBuy loses ground and it makes the point clearer that furry auction sites had their day and may no longer be needed.

It's simply not possible to compete with journal auctions in the current climate where they are unregulated and unmanaged by site admins. This is not a complaint, it is simple business logic and sensibility - it is not worthwhile to continue running FurBuy in an environment of rampant journal auctions.

Bridge Building

This is where community comes in (i.e. YOU). If FurBuy is going to be successful and continue operating and improving then it will require community action to build bridges into other sites. The teams responsible for the image boards need to understand that journal auctions are a detriment to their purpose and that there is a team of people here willing to help them by taking on the responsibility and challenge for them. The people who are posting journal auctions need to understand that there's a better way and place for them as well. You need to be the champion of such a cause and voice your concerns to site admins and sellers posting journal auctions.

FurBuy exists to serve the furry community and provide auction and sales services to everyone - that includes third party sites regardless of what they do. We can provide sales features and portals for them with minimal effort on their part. We need people willing to voice their concerns to those teams and help us reach out and connect to synergize and elevate each other - and the community in return.

This is not about money - FurBuy never has been about money. It's about community and providing service. FurBuy was started in order to serve a need for the furry fandom and to provide excellent service and reliability. More than anything all we want is to be successful at our goal of serving the community and seeing our hard work pay off for those who make use of the system. It takes a village though and we need your vocal support through communicating your want for the site to others, spreading the word about FurBuy, and keeping traffic and interest up about the site.

Why Furry Fandom Needs FurBuy

So why should third party sites integrate with FurBuy? Online auctions are typically licensed, bonded, regulated business with legal ramifications and impact. FurBuy runs in compliance with State and Federal regulations and further also complies with the Uniform Commercial Code to protect buyers and sellers and ensure the highest quality interaction for users. Our systems are designed with this in mind, and FurBuy provides a rich framework for feedback and communication that are necessary for a thriving sales community. In addition we provide full transparency in order to prevent any wrong-doing and auction manipulation, and a team of paid administrators to keep a constant monitoring on the system and interaction with users. We believe these are of great value and purpose to the smooth and fair operation of furry sales and auctions, and we're willing to provide this service for anyone's site - free of charge.

What's wrong with journal auctions?
  • Longevity: in many cases both the journal owner and those leaving "bid comments" can remove any evidence (and legal claim) of the auction's existence
  • Regulation: sites where journal auctions exist have no policies or regulations on how they're run and therefore there's no fairness or common business decency enforced, much less compliance with law and legal regulations
  • Monitoring: admins of image boards have a completely different set of administrative priorities and cannot or do not monitor journal auctions for foul play such as shill bidding, bid shielding and fraudulent bids made by the seller to pump up their own sales
  • Transparency: in many cases both the journal owner and those leaving "bid comments" can remove or manipulate records of bids and auctions to change or completely remove information
  • Structure: journals are not setup for fielding bids, making the whole bidding process confusing and convoluted
  • Features: image boards are simply missing crucial auction/sales features which slight both the bidders and sellers

Two Paths

The bridge gets built somehow (community support) or FurBuy goes over the cliff. As of now, the community message is clear: journal auctions are adequate, reasonable and trustworthy enough for furries. In June our contract expires with the hosting facility for our servers and unless the bridge is being built we plan to deprecate FurBuy at that time. The site may continue to run but we will not be maintaining it anymore and there will be no more admin staff.

If the bridge is being built though and it looks like FurBuy might be given a fair chance at success we will instead invest in two new servers for the system, and continue on the path of rewriting the existing FurBuy site as a fresh, new HTML5 design with modern features that will make using the system faster and easier - in addition to investing in third party site integration. We're hopeful that the community will choose to go down this path, but the choice to build the bridge relies on you and your ability to motivate the community to support a dedicated, reliable, trustworthy furry sales system.
Rawr Bear!

Letter Draft

The Future (or not) Of FurBuy

FurBuy is at a turning point. It's standing precariously on the edge of a cliff where either a bridge will be built, or the whole thing will go over the cliff into the drink below. Let me lay it all out for you:

FurBuy Plans

Having a roadmap is fantastic, and we've got one for FurBuy. It would be a mountain of work for our current staff to undertake and pretty much consume the majority of our free time for the next 5-6 months. That means no time spent with loved ones, little to no gaming, not much in the way of vacation - and all this while working full-time jobs too.

What's the roadmap entail, in a nutshell? You may or may not have seen our new Beta sites for Classifieds and Forums - they're not 100% complete yet but they are functional right now. They show a new look and feel for a planned future FurBuy that has many more features and new functionality. Aside from completing those new features, we've been planning to completely rewrite the Auction system in a new framework (more of a port, not a true rewrite, but it may as well be a rewrite for most intents and purposes aside from time). We're also planning to add Stores to FurBuy later in 2013, at least in Beta format, with a potential release in early 2014. These are HUGE undertakings, in part because with the auction overhaul we're planning to add many new bells and whistles as we go.

The Cusp

Looking forward at that mountain of work (not to mention money and stress), one might step back a bit and assess the return on investment of it all. And this is where things get tricky and a little gut-wrenching. More and more lately, furries are just buying, selling, trading and auctioning things directly on FurAffinity. While this is great for FA and for fans of FA and those whose sole existence lies on FA, it's a problem for us because we're not FA and we're not "on FA" - we are apart from FA due to egos and failure to cooperate and deliver on promises (not going to get into that here). We cannot compete with FA for the sales space. And yet, FA is not a sales site nor do they have ANY support for sales (nor are most sales on FA even legal honestly, there are laws and regulations and FA is basically just looking the other way hoping nobody is noticing).

We have been watching our numbers and sales slip from FurBuy to FA for a little over a year now, and every week or two we lose another major historical supporter of FurBuy to the ranks of artists or crafters who are now "just auctioning on FA" instead. We've been carefully tracking FA auctions and sales for the last year and some now, and every time we add a new one to the list our hearts sink a little more. It feels like a kick in the shins for all of our hard work to bring people a fast, safe, efficient place to do business. And it makes us pause at length as to whether or not we should invest the time and effort and money into this huge undertaking to refresh and add new features to FurBuy.

What is FurBuy?

One thing we've never really stopped and thought about or put to people concisely is what FurBuy is all about. What is the over-arching purpose, what are the goals, what are our VALUES. Well, we've been an auction site for many, many years now but we've never been terribly clear on what else we should be and what should be our primary or core values. What we'd like to become is the one-stop furry shop for everyone's needs when it comes to finding something to buy, sell, trade or order. Stores, Auctions, Classifieds, maybe even growing into payment processing or a print shop - the options are out there.

Ultimately, FurBuy was started to meet a need for the furry fandom as a community. There wasn't an auction site for furries when we began working on FurBuy. The question now is: does the furry community still need an auction site? Or a unified stores site? Or a classifieds site? And if so, what should the core values of such a service be? We built FurBuy for you guys, the furries out there, and so you should be involved in helping direct us, telling us what's important to you. We want to hear from you, we want you involved, so please don't hesitate to just step up and talk to us - we're here for furries, to serve furries, and give you guys what you really need in a sales site.

Where YOU Come In

We want to be a part of the community. We want to work with other furry sites and groups to integrate what we do best with what they do best. We don't want to compete, we want to synergize, and elevate the entire furry community. What we need to do that is YOU, though. YOU are the furry community and you have the power to help facilitate change and values and direction. Work with us, talk to us, work with other furry sites and groups and talk with them. Help us build bridges to work together and build a better fandom all-around. YOUR voice counts and has power - we are just individuals like all of you who are trying to make a difference and provide world-class service to make the community a better place.

The future of FurBuy wholly depends on the community - you can choose to work with us or decide that the idea of FurBuy has no place in the community. If nothing happens, the latter would have to be assumed. So please, this isn't about money (it's never been about money) it's about community; if your furry community has a need and a want for FurBuy in the future, act now. Help work with the community to bring in words of encouragement, people's interest, the collaboration of the various sites/groups. We will do everything in our power to do our part of things but we can't do it alone. We need your encouragement (or discouragement) and your willingness to voice your desires for a better furry community - these things will help us decide the future of FurBuy.

Thank you for reading through all this, and we welcome discussion and involvement. Feel free to comment here or there or anywhere and just spread awareness about this. I've been serving the furry community for over 12 years, and I'd love to continue, but we need your support and the support of the community.

~ Jurann, FurBuy Founder and Lead Programmer
Rawr Bear!

(no subject)

Hey LJ. I'm not dead, just been very busy 1) with work 2) with side projects (FurBuy and StickyPaws) 3) with Warhammer/40K. Not much to report, really.
Rawr Bear!

Bizarre Realistic Dream

So last night I had a very strange and oddly realistic (hyper-real) dream about being at a Buddhist temple in Nepal. These particular Buddhists believed that their temple was a special place that could be a gateway to Nirvana that could turn certain types of practicing Buddhists into great spirits to aid the world. The only way to make that reincarnation though would be to meditate and achieve the right metaphysical state and then die immediately while in said state. So there's the setup for the dream.

I'm at this temple to witness this event (maybe as a journalist?) because for the first time they are using a .22 pistol to perform the 'instant death' necessary for the transition, as opposed to the old method of using a heavy icepick to the head. So this is a once a year event, and three Buddhists are going to attempt the reincarnation this year. Two of them were Nepalese Buddhists who were well into their later days in life who had been practicing monks for decades, but what was disturbing to me is that one was an American guy who was only 20 years old. He was dead-set on doing this and was certain that he had a special gift and power that would assure his successful transition, and many of the old monks there agreed, having felt his spiritual mettle and examined his states of meditation.

After some ritual and some celebration, for some reason the three were each placed in the passenger seats of some old run-down Asian pick-up trucks and then one by one driven over to the point where the ritual killings would commence. Each went into their meditation from within the truck, with attendant monks surveying their state of being and then one would unceremoniously shoot the meditating person in the head and instantly kill them. Nothing spectacular, nothing reverent, nothing even dramatic about it, they just each slumped over in one direction or another, dead. The whole affair was more or less quiet and methodical and uneventful until all three were driven off and the monks chanted for the success of the individuals who were just ritually slaughtered.

For some reason this whole dream just disturbs me, on a creepy level. What a waste of life, a stupid thing to believe, and a stupid thing to do. I have no idea where the dream came from or why, but it's really kind of bothering me to think about it. Like it's some real world travesty that enrages me and I want to speak out about. Except that it was only a dream...
Rawr Bear!

Adventures in Warhammer

     So my roommate has been wanting to get back into painting miniatures again for a while, it used to be her hobby before making fursuits replaced it about ten years ago. And I've always been fascinated and curious about Warhammer. In years previous though, the barrier to entry for me had been price. Well, I make oodles now, so I figured I don't have an excuse anymore.

     So I started with buying the core rulebooks for Fantasy and 40K along with three armies books from each. For Fantasy I decided to go with Skaven as my main choice, Beastmen as my second choice, and Lizardmen for my third choice. For 40K I decided on Orks as my main, Space Wolves for my second and Tau for my third. So far I've completely read the Fantasy rulebook, skimmed the 40K rulebook, completely read the Skaven armies book, and am now reading the Beastmen armies book. In addition, we've picked up a few books on how to paint the miniatures, including a Skaven clan uniform and colors sourcebook. So, that's the books, which are just the tip of the iceberg that is Warhammer...

     Because a major part of the "hobby" (as Games Workshop calls it) is collecting, cleaning, assembling, painting and detailing the models you use to play the game. So I've bought countless boxes of tiny little pieces referred to by GW and gamers as "bits", which are attached to injection-mold cast "sprues". After hours of clipping "bits" off of "sprues" and then using a razor blade to trim away "flash" and seams from the parts, you then glue them together in a vast variety of personal fashions to form "units" that will be fielded on the battleground. But that's JUST the start! Because now you've got to make sure you get a nice even coating of primer all over every model, and then the painting begins... Fortunately though that's the fun and easy part, believe it or not. Honestly one of the most fun parts for me is the final detailing, a process GW refers to as "faces and bases" where you polish-up the face of your models and the base that they stand on by adding bits of grass or rocks or debris or skulls or skeletons - countless types of terrain and interesting ground you can place them on for atmosphere and immersion. Having hundreds of models to have to do this with, meaning thousands of "bits" is very daunting indeed...

     And you do it all, because it's what's demanded when you want to finally PLAY the game! You create an army made up of several dozen to hundreds of the models in formations called units, and then take turns at killing the shit out of each other by throwing unbelievable amounts of 6-sided dice that take quite a while to learn what they're for and what they do and how to resolve everything - lotsa math! So far I played one introductory game of 40K at a GW store and got my ass handed to me, then played a full-on game of Fantasy using my own Skaven units that I assembled myself and did reasonably well though for the most part the other guy was just telling me what to do and I wasn't really learning HOW to play the game... Which makes me wonder if I could have done better, had I known what I was actually doing. But we started nearly 2 hours late, so didn't get to finish the game before the store closed. It seemed like a close battle though after the 3 turns we did get to play.

     All in all, I really do like the game. The lore is fantastic, it's a very well-crafted and interesting world full of mystery and intrigue and opportunities for battle and adventure. The models that Citadel makes are amazingly detailed and refined and they really love to engage hobbyists and help them do a great job on assembling and painting their models. I would love to have more locals that play and have them over to play at home though, I'm not a fan of hanging out in tight, hot, public shops trying to play games in the din and discomfort of their shop atmosphere... But we'll see where it goes. =)

(P.S. Don't even ask me how much I've spent on this already... Seriously, don't... lol)