Admin's blog

Otherworlds web site returns

I've decided to bring back the Other Worlds web site. It can now be found at with all of the old content intact.

Bob Arnold

Short Story Months' Two Notable Challengers

Well, the two month long Short Story Months Challenge on the theme of Second Chances had two notable and outstanding entries.

Short Story Month Coming Up - Theme for Challenge This Year

February is Short Story Month here at BigCloset and Stardust when we challenge everyone who cares to try to write and post a short story. This year the theme is going to be "Second Chances" which could also be phrased as "Starting Over" or even "New Beginnings". You get the idea. In keeping with the theme, we're going to allow short story month to last TWO months on TWO sites! So from now until the end of February, get your short stories posted at BigCloset and Stardust.

New Road to the Stars

Stardust is now running on the BigCloset server and will continue there indefinitely under my administration. Bob Arnold will still be available to help me out on technical issues. There will probably be changes in how things are run here but not immediately and not quickly.

Old movie show update and things in general

I haven't said or done much other than basic stuff here and at home for at least the past two weeks. I got hit pretty badly by a nasty cold that is only now clearing up. It's hard to do things with your head feeling like it's full of the stuff that they use to fill stuffed toys and that stuff happend to be completely soaked with something that strongly resembles molasses in wintertime.

I've got a list of things that need to be tended to so here's the order I'll be taking things in:

1) Catch up on paying my bills. Nothing is late yet and won't be if I get it caught up in the next day or so.

2) Editing for Julie O. I've got two of her stories in the queue and I really don't want to get her or her readers mad at me for taking so long to get them out.

Out sick for a while

I've been sick with a cold since last Sunday. It started off with a sore throat and went downhill from there. I think I'm on the up side of whatever got me though. Only problem is that the coughing won't let me type properly. I was going to write a bit and do some editing along with some site work this week and haven't been able to do any of it. Even typing this is taking three times longer that it normally would. Guess I'll head back to the couch and take a little nap. Where is a nice warn kitty when you need one to have purring on your chest as you sleep?


A bit of a scary day

As some of you might know from watching the news, a large area of the Northeast got drenched by heavy rain yesterday. My area in upstate NY was hit with 4 to 5 inches of rain that caused some flooding and a few power glitches too with the rain hitting the leaves and causing branches to break on power lines. Fortunately the power stayed on and the servers stayed up although there were a couple of momentary hits that caused no damage.

Although the rain has now stopped, parts of the area are still under flood warnings and watches since all that water has to go somewhere. I'll be making a trip out for groceries and to see if there's stil any flooding in my area. I hope to be able to do some site work when I get back this afternoon and post a new Julie O story here with a link to it from BCTS,

Bob Arnold

What happened to Zapped Revised?

It was one of a few things lost in the upgrade to a newer version of the content manager software. I do have the chapters stored off-line and at some point I might restore them to the site but for right now other things are a bit more important to me.

Bob Arnold

Another one (a switch) bites the dust

Seems as though another of the network switches that keep the servers conected to the Internet has died. I first noticed a problem with one of my lerrer used servers a few days ago and thought at first that the server itself had failed. Then, just a few hours ago, I noticed the exact sme problem with another server that hapened to share the same 4 port ethernet switch. Since BOTH servers had different hardware internally and different operating systems I took a look at the switch and found out that it was mangling longer data packets.

I tried the cable direct from the upstream switch in one of the servers and it came back alive again. When I replaced the bad switch with another everything started working again. I'll have to get a new replacement switch in a few days so can get my shelf spare back again.

Bob Arnold

To the Fair and back

Today ws a trip to the opening day of the 2010 NY State Fair and I had a great time. The fair wasn't as crowded with "trash" exhibits (Gunsu knives, SHAMwows and the like) as it was in the past few years. I have to wonder if this was intentional on the part of the Fair or it is/was a result of the poor economy this year. There was a lot more space in all of the buildings and the crowds weren't as tightly packed although I was one of the first people in the particular gate that I used.

Guess I'll have to wait to hear what the attendance figures are before I make up my mind about the crowding problem that has been a problem in the buildings in past years.


State Fair time again

Since it's coming up the end of August its NY State Fair time again. I've got my usual all-access tickets again and intend, health permitting, to spend a bit of time on the fairgrounds enjoying things. It all depends on how well my knees are behaving.

I'm going to take along a camera (a Canon SX110) so I should have some great pictures and maybe some video available. I might pick a few of the best and create a page for anyone interested to view them.

Bob Arnold

Frequently asked questions

You'll notice a new item in the navigation menu on the right hand side of the screen. Frequently Asked Questions will provide some answers to questons have has about the site and how it works. Please check there FIRST before asking me a question since the answer may already be available. It your question isn't there just send me a private message (to Bob Arnold of course!) and I'll try to answer it.


Here we go I hope

While it still feels like I'm leaving something unfinished I'm going to turn Stardust back on for all users. I've managed to upgrade the software to the latest released version and I think I've got most of the features the previous incarnation of Stardust had restored.

NOTE: a new html editor is being used since the one used by the old software does NOT work with the newer software. Users used to the old version may find this one a bit easier to use. If not, you can always turn it off in the "my account" link and go back to a plain text entry box.

Please let me know in a comment to this posting or in a private message if you find something that doesn't seem to work right or if a previous feature is misssing or doesn't work.

Bob Arnold

Chat rooms for BCTS and Stardust are back

A power glitch a few hours ago took down a couple of servers here including the one that runs the BTCS/Stardust chat rooms. Everything is now running again.

I've got to budget for a few new battery backup units. Looks like the batteries in the old ones are finally gone.


Am I the only person on earth that ISN'T on Facebook?

Recent news stories trumpet the fact that Facebook now has half a BILLION users. I'm NOT one of them and I find it hard to see what all the excitement is about. Why would I want to use a web site that tries to violate post privacy considerations every time they try out a new "feature" to increase their number of users?

I already have more than enough people trying to send me spam emails and I definitely have way too many people trying to find and exploit vulnerabilities on my servers and the software they run.

Severe t-storms possible this afternoon

Severe thunderstorms are possible in my area in upstate NY until about 8 PM today. As usual, if the power does go out I'll try to have the servers going as soon as any problems are resolved.


A heat wave due for the northeast - day #4

UPDATE - Jul 8 - One more 90+ day. Looks like this might be the break we need to end the heat wave since there is a pretty good change of t-storms later today.

Jul 7 - Another day of 90+ temps. Energy use for Air Condx is at record levels too. No problems locally yet though. Solid power here but there have been a few outages in other areas not too far away.

Jul 6 - temp is headed for 95 or more today with a feels like temp of over 100 degrees.  Energy use is off the charts in parts of the northeast today so there might be problems with the site or my Internet connection.

Jul 5 - Weather forecasters here in upstate NY and across the northeast are predicting 90+ temps for at least three to four days. That, by definition in my area my least, constitutes a heat wave. Depending on how hot it actually gets there might be rolling brownouts or blackouts if the electricity use gets too high. We're fortunate that we have an abundance of hydro power available to us in central NY and that the rains have filed all of the lakes/dams/rivers/streams to nearly overflowing.

Since most homes here are very well insulated to ward off the cold temps in winter it also doesn't take as much to run the air conditioning in summertime. While I don't expect any power problems from the heat you never know for certain so if the site disappears for a while it will be back after the power problems are resolved.


What was I thinking anyway?

Made a trip today to the local "big box" store for groceries and a few other essential items. I paid a visit to the electronics department and in wandering around got a good look at an Acer 10 inch netbook. It was around $300 and came with 1 GB of memory and a 160 GB hard drive. I almost bought one when I realized that really don't use the 13 inch Apple Macbook got over a year ago that much.

So I decided to save the bucks and get out the Macbook and use it more. I had to set up my wireless router to use with the iPad so I now can use the Macbook wherever I want to in the house anyway. So in the end I saved $300 and an using a piece of hardware I already had. The only thing I might do for the Macbook is to update the version of OS X on it to the lateast release.

A day of storms

In what has to be the wildest day I've had in a long time the incredibly high humidity and the approach of a weak cold front triggered a bunch of storms. Not much lightning involved but loads of heavy rain, high winds and even a few tornadoes were reported yesterday. Nothing close to where I live but some damage from a series of F0 to F1 twisters across a large area of upstate NY. 

Again, everything here at Random Access HQ is okay and the house survived the torrential downpours with  no real damage. There are a few roof spots that I'll have to have fixed before next winter though. All are around the eaves and shouldn't cost much to get them fixed properly.

5.0 earthquake rattles CNY

A quake measuring 5.0 hit near Ottawa, Canada at about 1:42 PM today. It was felt across a wide area of the northeast. So far no reports of any damage in my area. No damage here and no interruption in the power or Internet service either. Wish I could feel as confident about the weather that may be moving in tonight.


Roses are blooming again


It really must be summertime or at least very close to it since the rose bush in the front yard is starting to bloom again for 2010. This is only a small part of the bush. It must be close to six feet across and about 4 feet high.

Memorial Day update

With the improvement in weather in upstate NY I'm feeling a bit better since my knees are not complaining so badly. As a result my overall mood has improved considerably too.

For those of you concerned about Stardust closing that is now completely out of the picture. What is more likely to happen is that some time in the next month or more someone else will become primarily responsible for the day to day operations of the site.That should leave me more time to return to writing. I know that there are at least a few of you that want to see more of Zapped and possibly some of my other stories too.


Is it really worth all the hassle?

When I have to throw a hissy fit to get people to comment on the stories or my own posting I really have to wonder if it is all worth doing this. I do have other things that I could be doing with the resources that I use to run the site and it may be a whole lot less aggravating.

 Whatever happens, Stardust is NOT going to go away. It may wind up that I let someone else take the lead on things and concentrate more on the behind the scenes of keeping the server and Internet connection alive. I'll have a better handle on the future by the end of the month.


I'm done. Stardust/Other Worlds future changes

It's time that I step aside and either let someone else take over the site or simply turn it off. I'm tired of fighting to get authors to post stories here, I'm tired of fighting to get even a few comments posted to the stories posted here, I'm tired of fighting the system itself to even get stories posted and I'm extremely tired of fighting the public mis-conceptopn that the site is somehow interlocked with BCTS.

One of two things is going to happen at the end of the month - 

 1) someone else will be running the site either still on my servers or somewhere else


2) The site will be shut down permanently.

The same possibilities exist for the Other Worlds site as well.

Bye folks.........

Am I getting too old for this sh*t?

After spending over two hours trying to get Julie O's latest story to post properly I finally got things so it wasn't one long run-together paragraph. Yes, I know that there are still parts of the story that aren't quite right yet but I've grown very tired of trying to make everything 100 percent perfect. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, after 4 years and almost 12 weeks I've finally reached a point that I'm burned out.  If it was strictly up to me alone I'd shut this site and Other Worlds down but I'm not the only one that has a say in the sites operation. Now that several authors seem to have made Stardust and recently Other Worlds their primary places to post I really don't want to just flip the switch and go quietly off into the night. Maybe I'll look for some additional help or maybe I'll just hand the site over to someone else completely.

Whatever happens, the sites are likely to continue. Only my future involvement in them is in doubt right now.

Bob Arnold

iPad support for PDF files now available

I've enabled the uploading of PDF files as an attachment to stories. This way authors of a story may provide a PDF file in addition to the story for off-line reading. iPad owners may get an application (I suggest PDF Reader - iPad version - it's a 99 cent application at the iPad app store) that will enable the downloading of the PDF to an iPad for later reading.

I've also enabled the site to be able to generate a PDF file when requested. Look for the link "PDF version" at the bottom of a story to get a system generated PDF file. It isn't perfect but it is the best I can do for older stories. Please do NOT ask me to make any changes to the way the PDF version option works or how the link is displayed at the bottom of a story. My only other option is to simply turn off that function.

 Bob Arnold

Life with an iPad

I've been using the new iPad I got last week for about 5 days now. I have to say that it is a pleasure to use since I can now be anywhere in the house or the area outside and still check my servers, email and web sites. 

I did have to reset my wireless router and install better security so I can leave it going all of the time without worrying that someone will try to pirate my Internet connection to send loads of spam emails. You see I have the ONLY high speed connection for at least a mile in any direction from my home. There's no cable TV or DSL service where I live so I have to pay quite a price for my T1 line. I really don't want to openly share it either since the web servers sometimes use up a big chunk of the bandwidth with outbound traffic.

Summer slowdown seems to be here

As I write this the last posted story was on April 26th although people are still posting comments. Looks like the usual summertime slowdown has begun a bit early.

Bob Arnold

HIgh wind warning for central NY

To all site users:

 The National Weather Service has posted high wind warnings for the central NY area from Saturday, May 8th until some time in the early hours of Sunday, May 9th. Wind gusts of 60 mph or more and sustained winds of 40 MPH or so could take down power and/or telephone lines from falling trees and branches. If the power or Internet connection does go out I'll try to have things back online as soon as any damage is fully repaired. Add to that the likely prospect of a few inches of snow on Sunday and it promises to be a rather wild weekend here.

Now I've gone and done it...

I made a Syrcuse trip today and decided to go the the mall that has an Apple store. Yup, I now have an Apple 16GB iPad. It works very well too. I set things up for it to work on a temporary basis with the Airport connection on one of my iMacs. Tomorrow I'll get my wireless router configured to support it as well. I'ver got to set up the router with the proper password support to make it secure.

 I have tried it with both Stardust and Topshelf and it works very well with either site. More to come...