Blog Changes

In case you haven’t noticed, or are reading this through a RSS feed reader, the blog got a little update today. There were a bunch of reasons why, but primarily for security. The theme I had been using was full of security holes and old depreciated plugins. I had dodged a couple previous bullets with people trying to hack in but this time I wasn’t so lucky. Someone exploited a PHP hole and injected some evilness into one of my plugins. My host caught it nearly immediately, but in the 3 minutes it was there the person turned off notifications (so I would get emails about new users), registered themselves as an admin, and injected code into just about a half dozen PHP files. I spent most of today cleaning up the mess.

The real kicker is that my passwords are strong, unique, and 30+ characters. My passwords are all different and never reused. WordPress itself was completely up to date, as were the major of the plugins I use. It was the old theme that let them in. They exploited the only hole they could find. Let that be a lesson, nothing is 100%. I installed a couple additional plugins as well, just to help things a long. A security suite that actively bans IP ranges with failed login attempts, as well as one for traffic monitoring and a service for cloud backups.

That leads us to the theme, which is new. Among other things, it allows for some newer bells and whistles. The Cards page now has dropdowns for the sections and the About page has a little CSS trickery, to name a few. I’ll be messing with it more over time.

That’s all for now.

There’s a Story Behind This One


I’m just going to put that beauty right up there on top, so I can talk about it and what it took to get it. 2013 Gypsy Queen Nomar Garciaparra jumbo bat relic, #23/25. The story isn’t so much about this card, but the card that was supposed to be.

A week or so after GQ launched this year, some guy on Reddit, my daily (and constant) source of procrastination, posted in /r/baseballcards that he “got lucky” and got 2 jumbo relics in a single hobby pack. Topps is clearly known for their highest quality in regards to collation, so I couldn’t help but feel the part about the single pack was full of crap (he said, dripping with sarcasm). That should have been my first red flag but I was blinded by the Nomar and, regardless of how many packs he got them in, he did in fact have 2 jumbo relics. He had #19/25 of the Nomar pictured above, as well as a Cabrera jumbo jersey relic. While most of the posters were falling over themselves to make him offers on the latest Triple Crown winner, I sent him a PM about the Nomar.

He said he was looking to sell it, that he doesn’t really open anything other than Flagship and that his GQ packs were just kind of a random purchase. He didn’t really collect much, so he didn’t want anything in trade (second red flag) but would take Paypal for it.

I thought about it for 0.00002 seconds and made him, what I felt at the time, was an appropriate offer. $35. His card had a small crease just above Nomar’s head and I didn’t feel comfortable offering more than that. At the time, there was only one other on ebay and was “Buy it Now” at $40. He agreed, thought it was a fair price and we sent messages back and forth with our details. It was a done deal, or so I thought.

This was a Thursday afternoon, and I was getting paid on Friday so I decided to wait until the morning to send him the money. It was a good thing that I did.

Having drooled over the very idea of this card when I first saw it on the checklist, I had an ebay alert set up for anything matching it. The only entry was the aforementioned $40 BiN. That night, after dinner, I got an email from ebay. A new card matched my search criteria. It was #19/25. The seller’s username was also identical to the reddit user.

At first I thought it was a fluke. Maybe he was listing it so I could buy it from him and we’d do the transaction within Ebay. Buyers/sellers protection, all that jazz. Then I checked the auction. The starting bid was set at $49.00.

I sent him a message. No reply.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday went by. It was only a 5 day auction. The bidding hit $55, then $59.

Monday morning I got a short reply from him, saying, in a nutshell. “Screws you dood, I gettin more money for it on ebay”.

There was still a day or two left. I could seriously mess with his ebay auction. The thought crossed my mind of creating multiple accounts and creating a fictional “bidding war”, raising the price of the card into the thousands, then walking away from those accounts, forcing him to re-list it, over and over again.

I won’t lie, those thoughts crossed my mind.

I didn’t do that though. I took the high road.

I told him I’m glad he got what he could for it, and wished him well in his collecting.

Two days later, I get another email. Another card matches my search criteria. #23/25, starting at $0.99.

EXACTLY $34.99 later, including shipping ($32 + $2.99), and it’s mine.

I saved a penny, and still felt good about myself.

Let that be a lesson kids.

Never attempt to buy cards from random internet strangers, and card-karma is a very very real thing.

Strange Little Hobby

I have this thing about seeing incredibly easy to do things that people are charging money for. I can’t stand it when people apply a blue filter to a photo, save it as an action, then sell that action for $10. Drives me right up a wall. I’m a DIY kind of guy, and so my other strange little hobby is actually recreating some of those fairly easy effects. Mostly Photoshop actions and layer styles, Lightroom presets, that sort of thing. When I saw these for $6, and someone on Reddit asking for similar, I knew I had to recreate them. So, 15 minutes later…

XBOX 360 sized version

PS3 sized version

Made with CS5, saved with editable layers. Edit, print and enjoy.

If you’re wondering what on earth these are, they’re case art replacements for Xbox and PS3 games, designed to look like old school Penguin Books book covers. Now you can display your game collection right in the living room and your non-geek friends will think you’ve got a huge collection of classic paperbacks.

Blog Housekeeping

Not that it affects any of you in any way, but my last post was #1750. That’s not a significant number outside of it being just something I wanted to point out. After 1750 posts, and 12 years, for the first time I’m turning on page caching. That’s a good thing. I got a friendly email from my host last night that a significant increase in traffic to my site over the last six months has also increased load times and server resource usage. And it was legitimate usage as well, not some runaway script or resource hogging plugin. That means you fine folks are visiting, and visiting often.

I’m not going to insinuate that I know what I’m doing, or that I’m any sort of blog expert. I would also never bore you to death with self-aggrandizing posts about how to have a “popular” blog. That’s all horse shit. No pretentious crap here, no patting myself on the back for keeping at something long enough to “not suck”.

I simply wanted to say thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you to everyone who reads any of this. Thank you to the random people who just stop by from other blogs. Thank you to faithful and regular readers. Thank you for indulging my idiosyncrasies and politically and socially incorrect ramblings for this long. You guys are awesome.

That is all. Forward unto dawn.

Fixed Email

A quick apology, mostly to Greg, but also to anyone else that’s tried to email me recently at this domain. Apparently, in a fit of spam-related rage, I turned on some ridiculously strict anti-spam measures. I had SpamAssassin set at a 2 (1-10, 1 being the strictest), I had BoxTrapper installed and a mandatory white-list in place. I don’t even remember doing any of that. So, if you were wondering why emails weren’t getting returned or why it was taking days/weeks for me to reply, there you go. Everything I was being sent was either waiting for confirmation that you’re a real person, or was sitting in a spam bucket, waiting to be deleted. Sorry about that. I put everything back at a non-paranoid level, and email should be returning to normal. Carry on.

Back Story

I’m assuming by now that my old readers, my college and high-school friends, have all but given up on me and that my new readers, my baseball card bloggers, have no idea this isn’t a 100% card blog. It wasn’t always this way. Before 2011 there wasn’t a single mention of baseball cards. Actually, it was mostly video games, web stuff and little slices of life where I bitched and moaned about anything that crossed my mind. Part of me recognizes how my interests have changed and how, quite honestly, they’re allowed to. The other part of me wonders where the “old me” went and if he’s coming back. I’ve always been conflicted about blogging. What to share and how much. I’ve been doing it for so long that it comes in cycles. I’d write a lot, tons and tons of posts, then it would goes dark. Then my moods change, I discover something new or interesting, and I can’t shut up about it. I’ve also always tried to explain my thoughts as best I could and to make my website distinctly “mine”. I don’t know if I’ve ever succeeded in that, or if anyone even notices, but that’s been the idea for all these years.

Just a little back story for folks, I started this blog, albeit in a different form, way back in 2000. It’s logistical story is very similar to the history of blogs in general. For some perspective, I started this the year after Moveable Type and Blogger came into existence. I’m not saying this is the oldest blog around, but it’s up there. I started with Moveable Type, realized it was a pain in the butt, switched to Blogger, ran that for 2 years or so, then jumped into WordPress just after version 1. At the time I was self-hosting the site on a server with a bunch of my friends. My good friends had built a server so prone to dying they actually called it the Hindenburg. Those were the glory days of the internet. When a bunch of guys could literally host a server, and a site, in some other guy’s living room in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire. Sometime in college, in what I can only imagine is the single most ironic thing to ever happen, Hindenburg, the server, burst into flames during a hosting fire. I didn’t lose much, just a month or two worth of posts. In the end it was trivial. Thanks to their careful planning and backups, everyone was up and running shortly there after.

I was leaving college at this point and planned on jumping into my own business, which thankfully I never did, and I felt I needed a site that could potentially host shopping carts or some sort of client base. I didn’t want to burden the newly rebuilt server with any potential traffic jams, so I left to find other web hosts. At the same time, after taking numerous “professional practices” courses, I thought it would be prudent, especially for times when I was seeking employment, to have separate sites for my portfolio and my blog. In 2003 this domain was born. Why DocHoloday? Well, it’s been my screen name for longer than I care to remember. It’s literally been my only monicker in the digital age. It was taken from a post-modernist cyber-punk book published back in the 1990’s (that should explain a little bit about some of my crazy interests at the time), called How to Mutate and Take Over the World. In it, the authors “St. Jude” and “R.U. Sirius” hacked networks and generally had a good time, occasionally doing a little hired (digital) gun-slinging, wild west style, with their friend “Doc Holoday”. Holo, as in hologram. That reference, plus Tombstone hitting theaters a couple years later all but cemented it for me. While I never became the deviant internet hacker I wanted to be, I did enjoy the uniqueness of the handle. I’ve never encountered it before or since. It’s mine. Back when handles meant something, that was a big deal.

After I finished school I continued to blog about life, what I was having for lunch, what video games I was playing, and what I thought about, well, everything. I’ll admit, I had a lot of anger issues when I was younger. Comparatively, I was probably just your average New Englander. I believe the term is “salty”. I like a good story, a good¬†argument and a good fight. The combination of the three means I probably had a pretty good weekend. At some point, without really having a good reason or a conscience decision, I just started to mellow out. Maybe it was youthful exuberance wearing off, maybe it was “growing up”, maybe it was a combination of all that and more. I started writing more from the heart than from the tongue. Through my wife I started attending church and met a lot of really good people. A couple years ago I felt moved and accepted Christ and was baptized. A couple years after that, we had our baby girl, who is the absolute joy of my life.

I don’t really know why I wanted to write this today. I was just doing some reflecting on where I am and where I’ve come from. I can’t honestly say I’d change any of it because, it turns out, it all changed me. I think, in some small way, writing my thoughts out for all those years helped me deal with a lot of things. I didn’t bore anyone with tiny details about my problems (at least I hope I didn’t), but it was a way for me to voice my bigger concerns and frustrations and opinions and have my friends, who’s opinions I trust implicitly, give me feedback.

A blog isn’t just a journal. It’s not just a collection of stuff. It’s not a bunch of baseball cards I have, or movies I’ve seen, or games that I’ve played. It’s a small piece of me. Some days I feel like writing, some days I don’t. Some days are sunny, sometimes it rains. It’s always here to come back to, and it’s never far away.

As I said, I don’t really know why I felt like sharing that. I guess it’s to illustrate the point that, while hobbies and passions and interests may change, I’ve always appreciated the opportunity to have and to use this outlet. I was actually going to apologize about the amount of baseball card posts recently, but writing what I just have, it makes me realize that at this point in my life, it’s something I enjoy and I enjoy talking about it. I can’t artificially post my interests in another topic simply to have a more “balanced” blog. It would be fake. It would be a lie. I don’t actively intend to ignore the discussion of my personal life, but it’s simply not that interesting. By comparison, my hobbies and interests are. So, I’ll make you this promise: Whatever I’m interested in will always be the topic du jour here at my blog. My close personal friends, I will strive to write a little bit more about my day to day adventures, but please don’t leave if I mention baseball. My baseball friends, please realize that this isn’t a 100% card blog. It never was and most likely it never will be. If that means you’ll never come back, and that you feel the need to remove me from your reader feeds, I understand.

Take care, and sincerely thank you for reading.