Monthly Archives: February 2006

A Few Reservations (Comic-Con 2006)

It’s been almost two weeks since hotel reservations for the San Diego Comic Con went on sale and sold out in a matter of hours.

The crunch is amazing. Last year, San Diego’s public transportation system dissolved under the combined assault of 100,000+ Comic Con attendees and a weekend of Padres games. Two years ago, the first year we stayed in town instead of just driving down for Saturday, we booked so late that we were stuck with the Super 8. Just for kicks, I checked the prices there. A room for this coming weekend would cost half what we paid per night on Comic Con weekend in 2004. And their prices during the con this year? I can’t tell, because they’re already sold out.

This morning, Travel Planners (the company handling reservations for the convention) sent out an email to people who had reserved hotel rooms through their service. After assuring me that my reservation was fine, they went on to ask:

In the meantime, we have a favor to ask of you. Please take a minute to reassess the number of rooms that you’ve booked and help your fellow attendees and exhibitors by canceling any rooms that you are not absolutely certain you’ll need.

Like you, we’re all thrilled that Comic Con is growing by leaps and bounds every year, but with each new show it gets more and more difficult to find enough hotel rooms to accommodate so many visitors. Accordingly, every hotel room becomes an integral part of the show’s success.

It’s not uncommon for people to grab multiple rooms just in case more people come, or to keep their options open (say, reserving both an expensive hotel downtown and a less expensive one further out, then cancelling one once they’ve made a decision). I’m astonished that it’s come to the agency pleading with people to let others have a chance at the rooms now, instead of waiting until just before the hotels start charging for cancellations.

On a related note, now’s as good a time to any to link to some recommendations for anyone planning to attend Comic Con:

Flock and self-hosted WordPress

I reinstalled Flock today and figured out what was preventing it from talking to my self-hosted blog, K-Squared Ramblings. The site is running on a stand-alone WordPress install, and I kept getting 403 Forbidden errors. (Not that I could tell. Flock hid the error and just told me something went wrong setting up the account.)

It turned out to be a setting in mod_security, an Apache module designed to limit attacks on web applications. Part of the sample filter—one that I kept because it seemed a reasonable precaution—was to block POST requests with content types other than application/x-www-form-urlencoded or multipart/form-data. However, XMLRPC uses text/xml, which was getting blocked.

There weren’t any problems reported, and none of the false positives I saw in the logs were related to the request content-type. So by the time I tried setting up Flock, it didn’t occur to me to check the mod_security log. I just figured it was a problem with my version of WordPress and left it at that.

This time, with a newer version of Flock, I decided to investigate. I found the 403 error in the server logs, checked the error log for detail, and saw the mod_security reference. A quick check of the audit logs, and there it was.

For now, I’ve loosened the content-type requirement slightly. I’ll have to decide whether it’s worth keeping XMLRPC enabled, or whether I’m better off restoring the original rule.

SecFilterSelective REQUEST_METHOD "!^(GET|HEAD)$" chain
SecFilterSelective HTTP_Content-Type "!(^application/x-www-form-urlencoded$|^multipart/form-data;|^text/xml$)"

So, the moral of the story is: If you use Flock, and you can’t get it to tie into your self/third-party-hosted WordPress blog… check the ModSecurity settings.

*This was originally posted at kelson.wordpress.com, but I moved it over here after turning that site into a photo blog.

Red Wolf Riding Hood?

We went to see Scott Shaw’s show, Oddball Comics last night. Maybe a block away from the Acme Comedy Theatre, we saw this billboard:

Billboard with two women in swimsuits and red capes with wolf heads.  WTF?

It’s hard to see in the photo, but they’re touching their index fingers together. There’s nothing else in the center of the billboard, just empty space.

As near as I can tell, they’re combining Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf, a mirror universe, and a pair of Vegas showgirls. All of which adds up to a resounding: “Huh?!?”

Mysterious Ways

Last week Peter David signed an exclusive deal with Marvel Comics. The contract has exceptions for stuff he’s already working on, like the Spike mini-series and Fallen Angel (both at IDW). The comments on that post linked to an interview at CBR, which had this interesting remark:

DC has been great and I’m very pleased and relieved, bizarrely enough, that they cancelled “Fallen Angel.” Had they not, I’d be in a very tough position because if they were still publishing it and Marvel wanted me to go exclusive, well they certainly wouldn’t have let me keep writing “Fallen Angel” for DC. So, I would have had to make a really tough choice—weigh a comic book I love against my family’s security and health. Fortunately enough I was spared having to make that decision.

It reminded me of the time I realized that VR.5‘s cancellation freed up Anthony Stewart Head to join the cast of Buffy. Or that the Sci Fi Channel turned down the B5 spinoff Crusade in part because they’d just launched Farscape.

I do wonder, though. JMS also had several books grandfathered in when he signed an exclusive with Marvel. Those included Rising Stars and Dream Police at Top Cow… and a Babylon 5 graphic novel for DC/Wildstorm (which has yet to be finished). I suspect the facts that it was a media license and a one-shot probably helped.

It’s also interesting to read Peter David’s comments about Fallen Angel and Icon. You’d think Marvel’s Icon label would be perfect—bigger circulation, lower price, still creator-owned—but IDW put so much effort into relaunching the book that he felt it would be wrong to just pack it in and take it to another publisher as long as they still wanted to publish it.

It would have been odd, though. I wonder how many books have, at different times, been published by both Marvel and DC? The only one that comes to mind right now is Elfquest. Marvel reprinted the original series through Epic in the 1980s, and DC is now handling the manga-sized reprints, the Archive editions, and new stories (still from Wendy and Richard Pini).