Author Archives: Jeff Hebert

META: New site updates

As you’ve seen from the most excellent Ben Finn below, we’ve migrated the server over to the new host, but with some problems. Specifically, the Premium content pages and the forums aren’t letting people log in.

Ben (and I, but mostly Ben) is working assiduously to figure out what the bug is. I apologize for the inconvenience and frustration, but hopefully things’ll be squared away soon. In the meantime, the apps all still work so you can continue to create away.

A big THANK YOU to Ben for handling all this, too!

Chrome Exporting is now fixed!

Over the weekend an old client called with a new bug in their HeroMachine version after the last Flash Player updated. We spent a couple of days figuring out what went wrong and now it’s fine, but along the way I stumbled across a workaround for the image exporting bug Google introduced in their last Chrome updated. Using this new (actually, very old) method instead, I was able to get this important feature working again. So now if, like me, you’re a Chrome user, you can once again export your HeroMachine 3 creations as a PNG or JPG. Hooray!

Special Contest for JJ Baskin

The man who introduced my wife and I seventeen years ago, our good friend JJ Baskin, has just been diagnosed with brain cancer. He’s a wonderful man, an incredible father, and a fantastic husband. He and his family are concentrating on staying positive and focusing on the fight with an eye to a long and happy future, so I want to help bring them a little lightness in this dark time.

So I’ve added a drawing of JJ to the “Head-Winners” set of HeroMachine 3 items (because one thing he definitely is, is a winner!):

jj

Your challenge is to create a character featuring JJ’s likeness somewhere (presumably on the end of the neck where it would normally go, but I know you all well enough to know by now that “normal” doesn’t necessarily apply!). He loves to laugh, always with a joke at the ready and a kind or sarcastic word as the occasion permits, so feel free to go for humor if you like. Or sci-fi, fantasy, modern warrior, whatever you like. He’s got a great group of supporters who are called “JJ’s Fight Club”:

jjfightclub
You’ve got one week (until Saturday, May 3) two weeks (until Saturday, May 10) to submit your entry, and normal contest rules apply.

I’ll select a winner, who will receive their choice of a free custom color illustration by me; a custom item to go in any HM3 slot; or their likeness to join JJ’s in the Winners set. I’ll also post some or all of the entries to JJ’s Facebook wall by way of encouragement, I think he’ll get a kick out of them.

Thanks in advance for your positive energy, your creativity, and for the happiness seeing all of your entries will hopefully bring JJ and his family!

File Export in Chrome Workaround

UPDATE 04/29/2014: Ignore this post, the core issue has been fixed and exporting from Chrome is now working again.

I’ve found a workaround so you can get the Image Exporter in HeroMachine 3 working again. The steps are outlined in this article but I’m reproducing them here. I tried it on my Mac install of Chrome and it worked great, taking no more than thirty seconds.

To disable the new PepperFlash:

  1. Open the Chrome Plugins page by typing this URL into the address bar: chrome://plugins
    chrome-plugins1
  2. Find the “[+] Details” button in the upper right to show the details of each installed plugin and click this button.
    chrome-plugins2
  3. Find the Flash Plugin Section in the list of Plugins.  There may be (1 file), (2 files) or (3 files) in this section.
    chrome-plugins3
  4. In the Flash section there should be 2 or 3 different versions of Flash listed.  If the Flash section only has one Flash file listed, Click Here to go to the Adobe website and download and install the Adobe Flash Plugin for Non-Internet Explorer browsers. 
  5. The first Plugin listed in the Flash section is the PepperFlash implementation.  You can tell that the first one is PepperFlash by looking for “PepperFlash” in the Location string.  See yellow highlight below.
  6. Find the “Disable” link and click that link.
    chrome-plugins4
  7. Now Close all open Chrome windows and tabs and restart Chrome and MySpeed should work as before.

Note: If no video will play or the website says that Flash is not installed after disabling PepperFlash, go back and Read Step 4 again more carefully.

META: Server changes

Overnight tonight we’ll be switching to a new host for HeroMachine.com. Hopefully this will drastically increase speed and reliability for the entire site and all the apps. You shouldn’t notice any change in saved characters or your account, but I wanted to give you a heads up just in case.

I’ll update you when the changeover is finished. Thank you for your patience as I continue to try and make the site as easy to use as possible!

All 32 Marvel Movies since 1998 Ranked

marvel-heroes-online-banner

Mighty God King has ranked all 32 Marvel movies released since 1998 and while I haven’t seen all of the entries, I think he has the others in about the right order. I just saw “Winter Soldier” a couple of nights ago and I am still pumped up about it. Usually I think of “Iron Man” as the top film, but he has a point about the closing act being fairly weak, particularly after seeing the Winter Soldier fight scenes.

How about you, where would you rank them?

What I Learned from Watching The Super Friends

super_friends

When I was a kid, the only super-hero action you could get was on Saturday mornings, and then only from the classic “Super Friends” cartoon. Looking back, I realize it was a pretty bad show, but as I said it was the only game in town. So I watched the living daylights out of it.

All these years later, I only remember two things, both thanks to Aquaman:

  1. When crossing the street, look left, right, then left again.
  2. If you get something stuck in your eye, pull the upper lid out and down on top of the lower lid. You’ll tear up and wash out the obstruction.

So there you have it. He might have been terrible at fighting super-villains, but he could teach the heck out of child safety. Thanks, Aquaman!

More Layout Changes

I apologize for how frustrating all this is, but I’m still testing various layouts and ad partners to try and get revenue where it needs to be to keep the site afloat. As a result you have probably noticed that I’ve returned to the old layout for HeroMachine 2 and 3, with no sidebar column and an ad unit integrated into the app itself.

I’ll likely be changing the sidebar to a narrower width and putting it back in some time today, so be warned. I’m also still working on a premium membership where you can have the no-ad layout full-screen sized. I’ve encountered a bit of a problem on that front, though, which is delaying me.

Thank you for your patience and your support.

The AFD in AFD Studios

For those who don’t know, the company name I’ve operated under for however many years is “AFD Studios”, which stands for “April Fool’s Day”. Why? Because that’s the day fourteen years ago that my father passed away from an aneurysm, a complication of the asbestosis that had robbed him of most of his lung capacity. I was there when it happened, which I still think about every few days even all this time later.

We always joked, my six siblings and I, that when our father died we’d all inherit one seventh of his debt, but as it turned out he was able to leave us each a little bit. It was enough, anyway, for me to take a year off to work on what became HeroMachine 2. Thus the company is named in his honor, as he helped make it possible.

I wrote the following article back in 2006, and it still sums up my feelings pretty well. I wanted to share it with you folks, who have made the time since so much fun and so fulfilling. This is the guy we owe part of the success of HeroMachine to. Thanks, Pop. Rest easy.

Today, April 1, is the anniversary of my father’s death. I’ve put together some thoughts about him and me below the fold … it’s pretty raw and heavy, so don’t click on the button unless you’re ready for that. The short version is that I miss him more now than I did while he was alive, and appreciate the fact that he raised seven great kids and greatly contributed to his community. I also mourned and came to peace with the fact that my idea of what I needed as a father died long before his body did.

My relationship with James L. C. Hebert was complicated while he was alive, and has only gotten moreso since his passing. Now that I am the same age he was when I was born, I realize how difficult life must have been for him and Mom. Seven children by the age of 36, and him without a college degree or a steady job. Yearning for the freedom of the open road and no obligations, even while overloaded with them. Driven by the loss of his own father while forced to be a dad for seven little ones. Destroying his body with alcohol and cigarettes while unknowingly being eaten from the inside out by asbestosis.

Of course I knew nothing of that as a child. Children, like animals, aren’t terribly interested in your burdens or your demons, in what happened to you when you were younger or in how hard your life has been. Children need love and security, and I got little of either from Dad growing up.

Dad was less a person while I was growing up than a kind of elemental force of angry nature. Life as a child for me was spent figuring out how to avoid his rage. My most vivid early memories of him are of yelling — at me, at my siblings, at my mother, at people on the phone. I remember a birthday party of mine (maybe I was seven?) when I was apparently acting like a brat, whining and sullen. I don’t remember why I was being rotten, but I am pretty sure I was.

I do remember Dad hauling me inside the little entry to our house while the other kids were outside playing Red Rover. He started spanking me, yelling at me to shape up. I remember it hurting, but it was probably more from the emotional trauma than that the blows were terribly hard. He spanked me into a corner and I was crying so hard I peed in my pants. At my own birthday party. I had to go change and then wipe my eyes and pretend that I was happy to be there.

That was probably the lowest moment.

There were good memories too, of course, but honestly, not very many. Most center around him bringing stacks of comic books home … maybe that’s why I love super-heroes so much. The idea of a person with amazing powers, able to escape whatever mundane troubles plagued their secret identities to become a crusader for justice and righting wrongs. Plus it was about the only thing Dad and I could share, so that made it even more special.

He and Mom took my sister Donna and I to Dogpatch, USA, which was fun mostly for the scene of him in a centrifugal force ride. It spun so fast his toupee flew off his head and stuck to the wall. That was pretty priceless.

I still think of his lessons about road manners. He spent a lot of time travelling as a salesman for one thing or another, and had good insights about how you should act on the road. I still thank him whenever I flash my lights at a semi to let him know that he can move over safely.

It’s tempting, when talking about someone who’s died, to suppress the bad and emphasize the good, to end on a positive note and wrap things up in a nice neat bundle with ribbons and good cheer. But life’s more complicated than that. When he died I didn’t really mourn. I didn’t have crying jags, or get terribly depressed, and I couldn’t understand why.

I finally came to realize that the father I had needed and longed for as a child had died long before in my mind. In fact, in some ways he’d never been allowed to exist. The hugs and the love weren’t there when I needed them, as a scared and lonely little boy, convinced his father despised him and yearning for approval that was never to come. When I was no longer a child, I had already buried that idea of a Dad.

What replaced it was respect for a man who did the best he could, and who (all things considered) did pretty damn well. Along with Mom he helped raise seven great kids, who have all gone on to success and happiness. He helped hundreds of drug and alcohol addicts recover and move on with their lives. He brought happiness and love to his siblings and his mother and his grandchildren.

It gets easier, with each anniversary of his death, to concentrate on those things and not on the father I needed, but never had, as a child. I feel sorrow for the people I love who miss him, and I hope against hope that he is in a better place now, free from the burdens and pain that dogged him throughout his life, able at last to hit the open road with a clear conscience and a happy heart.

Friend of HeroMachine author Ian Thomas Healy still needs to hear from you winners so he can get your prizes to you! He says:

Related to the Jackrabbit contest from last month: Okay, the contest is closed and the trailer is finished! You can see the final product at http://youtu.be/kQ4eWr9S86o. I used pictures from Keric, Melmo44, Mr. Nobody, and RobM, but since I had so few entries, I’ll send ebooks to HerrD and Calvary_Red as well. Send me an email with your format of choice (Kindle, EPUB, or PDF) so I can send you the ebook. ian AT ianthealy DOT com.

Mr. Nobody’s picture made me laugh out loud when I saw it. Great job! You win the signed ARC. When you email me, include your mailing address. Thanks for playing, everyone!”