Tuesday, September 30, 2008

International Crises

Not really a crises. More along the lines of a huge necessary correction. We've talked about a huge bail out of the whole system, but really it just needs some long over due correction, updating, expansion and with some better oversite. Its been a costly pain in the rump to stop everything and focus on the problem at hand, but its necessary sometimes. Its a natural cyclic event that all businesses must go through. Growth and expansion, Fall and retraction.

That's right, I'm talking about my email. Its been on the fritz for about two years now and not really able to do what I need it to do. I've been working this problem since last Thursday. I've managed to get nothing done other than shouting at my computer, paypal, amazon and a dozen other sites as I bring in a new email address to be posted soon...actually two and made a dozen other changes to the way information flows here in the offices.

First: I've switched off of Microsoft and over to Thunderbird. Thunderbird allows me to set up mail boxes, much as my old Netscape did, that are separate from each other so that email is funnelled into the correct inbox and not all jumbled together. We've about ported everything but address books over. So a few more days before this change is complete.

Second: We are porting over the whole site to a new provider. This is going to take several days and probably crash the site a number of times throughout the week and maybe weekend.

Third: Answering all email and deleteing those that aren't necessary. This is amost done.

So look for furhter chaos, but in the end, don't eat your babies, it will improve (was that a metaphor for the market?)

Steve

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday

Last week was a good productive week. I began running distributor sales reports in order to bring myself up to speed on where and what the Crusade is doing in game shops across the country. That end of the business needs a little attention.

Today Mark tackles Crusader 12 and other sundries.

Peter is working on the cover for A6.

I am working on the CKG and writing a short piece for the Crusader magazine. On top of that I'll continue running the aforementioned sales reports which shouldn't take more than an hour or two, press release on Shaes of Mist and some various updates on web pages. Oh yeah, and addressing the Paizo PDF store.

Steve

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

By the Bootstraps

We've hit the ground running this week. The constant sense that we are "recovering" from one thing or the other has begun to bug the hell out of Mark and I. Which is a good thing I think as its good to kick yourself in the ass once in awhile and remind yourself that there's a whole big wide world out there that wouldn't give a hog's ear for all your troubles and concerns. That and if all we have to worry about is being busy we should sit down and just say thank you!

So. Thank You Kindly.

Mark has been working on printing Shades of Mist and two other large jobs for other publishers. So he's kept the machines running hot and the cutter dull. So much so that one of the machine kerploded on itself and is down. We'll have it back up tomorrow but in the meantime Mark entered the Blue Room and began boxing the last of the Star Siege. That wonderful little game ships to distributors tomorrow.

Peter has been working in the CKG cover....some maps and other sundries.

Yesterday I worked on the CKG for a bit, wrapped up a bunch of bills and paper work, broke out Dwarven Glory II and polished it up. This latter project still needs a little work. Today I tackled some problems with some dungeon maps that took the better part of the morning. After that I balanced the deposit records (this too awhile as I hadn't brought it up to date since June) and I'm glad to say that TLG is on the track for having its best revenue producing year since its founding in 1999. The story to beat was 2005, and I think we can do it. The nice thing about that is that 2005 was still the d20 boom time and we were publishing Dungeons and Dragons, now its Castles & Crusades. After the deposit records I turned my attention back to Dwarven Glory II, clocked out at 5:04 p.m. and wrapped the evening up by teaching my son how to ride his bike without training wheels...that and shooting air rockets at all the neighborhood kids and stepping in a big ole pile of cat *#@$!

Its late now, about 11:00 p.m. and I've just released Crusader 8 in pdf format on RPGNow, and made a blog entry.

Tomorrow is another big day.

Steve

Sunday, September 14, 2008

When the Lights Went out in Arkansas

Tis been a fun few weeks no doubt. As some of you may or may not realize the Troll Dens were hit by a pretty wicked patch of weather that spun off of Hurricane Gustav back on the 2nd. It knocked out power out for the better part of 8 days and proved once again that the modern world is a pretty fragile place and that I could probably go native pretty fast.


I’ll give you a quick run down of the week’s events, both for your amusement (or contempt as the case may be) and historical record (for whatever that may or may not be worth to our distant future).


When I clocked in on the 1st of this fine month I took to task the mountain of orders, pre-orders and re-orders. You see, we found ourselves in a pinch for time as we came back from Gencon with Gary Gygax’s Upper Works, Star Siege Event Horizon and Towers of Adventure to ship. We had pre-orders on all these. These titles became hopelessly mired in the LA and d20 Sales that we launched in and around Gencon. Roll that up in a box of actually printing and shipping all the retailer orders and you have a small Troll Crew staring hopelessly at lots of work…throw in of course Mark taking 4 days off to recoup from the 45 non break work period before Gencon. We fitfully wrestled with it for the better part of a week until it kept growing and not shrinking. So I set myself the task of getting organized and getting us organized and shipping all this material.


So on the 1st we worked orders all day. On the 2nd Mark began some small jobs in the print shop while I prepped the several large jobs coming down. Both days went smooth, but sometime in the darkening hours of the 2nd the power went off. I didn’t know this until the next day when I woke up.


3rd: Once I took care of my normal morning I thought I would wait the power outage out and catch up on some sleep. Shouldn’t be but a few hours I thought. Well those few hours turned into the better part of the day. In the early afternoon I took my youngest (whose daycare was closed due to the power outage) and went over to the print shop and began boxing Star Siege material and getting in Mark’s way. I cleaned out one of the warehouse rooms, made a work bench area for packing boxes and took a complete inventory of that room. I quit the 3rd with no doubt that the next would have the power back on. I went home and the whole family retired to the front yard to sit in chairs and play outside (it was getting a little warm inside.)


We gamed that night at Todd’s house and I returned to my own home to candles and a radio that has no batteries, you have to crank it to charge it (a great gift from the wife!!). I relaxed into the wee hours of the dawn listening to the rain and radio.


The 4th saw the office still in the dark, and the mail room with it. I went into the mail room to attempt to package stuff. This proved impossible as I had to set up so many flash lights to see and kept tripping over crap. So I abandoned that idea and gutted the mail room. Moving tables, racks of books, rearranging all the boxes and making it much more orderly. I moved the packing table under the window so light could filter through, of course it was raining and no light was filtering through…but for the future it might be helpful. I left the mail room eventually to return to StarSiege work and the room we refer to as the blue room (this is the one I rearranged on the 3rd). I set myself the task of packing all the remaining Hall of Many Panes and marking a bunch of old titles for destruction or return to the authors. Once these were separated I packed so more and finished cleaning the blue room. The offices still had no power so I wandered home. I pulled out the ice chest and packed it with ice, soda and milk and some other perishables. Kat showed up and we once more retired to the front lawn to enjoy the cool air. Finally I relaxed to some fresh beef steak from Buffalo Grill and messed around with the family for awhile.


Early in the evening, I cranked the generator up to the immediate shouts from all of my family to turn it off “ITS TOO NOISY!!! Let us enjoy the quiet!” Its then, as I was turning the generator off, that it occurred to me that none of my kids, nor me, nor the wife had even mentioned the tv, computer games or the internet (club penguin for those of you with kids). They were all adjusting quite nicely to the no-power Chenault household.


Later, the wife and I sat by candle light and listened to Senator McCain’s speech on the crank radio. It was very relaxing.


The 5th saw us still without power. At this point I hadn’t gotten any solid TLG time in 3 days, hadn’t checked the email, the blogs, the message boards, nor had I responded to anything other than phone calls. I had left my phone over at the blue room and found myself taking care of some work around the house…abandoning TLG altogether. I cleaned gutters, raked, hauled off some crap, fixed the leaking toilet, a few other various and sundries and finally broke out my gas-generator to get the family a little time with the tv and some lights. We all spent the early afternoon on the lawn, relaxing in chairs and drinking soda and talking it up with our powerless neighbors.


The wife had to go to Memphis and all the kids but one scattered to friends houses. By 8 or so the baby was asleep and I took a leisurely read by candle light. Wandering into the Living Room I powered up the radio and began strolling through channels. I hit on a wonderful old tune, Roger Miller’s King of the Road. I naturally stopped and settled in my chair and listened to old country on the Wolf. It was a good relaxing two hours with such hits like Delta Dawn by Tanya Tucker, Haper Valley PTA by Jenny C. Riley and The Ballad of the Alamo by Marty Robbins.


The 6th I woke up to a warm house and still no power. We cleaned up the place, emptied the fridge and made the house more comfortable. We restocked candles and what nots but spent the better part of the entire day on the front lawn, talking with neighbors, enjoying the air and relaxing. It was all very good.


It was disturbed however by 7 power trucks and 5 large tree trimmers who had been showing up off and on for the past two days. The began the work of bringing us back on the grid. This is when I told Kathy that I really could care less about the power. I’m Going Amish!! She said, what about TLG? To which I said: “To hell with that! I’m going native! This is nice” We had an idiotic conversation from that point forward but I spent the better part of the day dreaming about a life without electricity…sure, I know there are some downsides, but hell, with electricity comes the wave of hurry hurry hurry, without it the world was calm and serene!. That’s all I could figure.


It was late in the evening (this was Saturday night) that the power came back on. I was leaning on the window looking out at the summer sky when it powered up. I could hear the neighbors shouting in joy and my daughter went nuts. For myself I couldn’t help but wonder how different the world was so long ago . . .


(As I nice addendum, the power went down again Sunday afternoon and was out until Monday night, the 8th).


To all those folks down south in Texas, your in our thoughts and I hope your region a speedy recovery. Being Texans I imagine it can't unfold any other way!


But things are back in order now. All pre-orders have shipped. And about 95% of the other orders have shipped. I want to thank everyone for your extraordinary patience and kindness. You guys are great! We have some major updates coming down the website, hopefully this weekend, and you will see the beginning of the new line up and schedule. Its all pretty cool….from miniature battle rules to rune lore. All cool stuff.


Quote of the Century, John Wayne in Hondo: "A man's got to do what he think's best." Said to another cow poke that was about to kick his dog.


Thanks for playing.

Steve