Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Short version: I have updated, working PDFs for the Grindhouse Edition. People ordering now should be able to get them no problem.

I just have no idea yet how to get them to the people that have already ordered.

Stay tuned.

Long version:

whew. Been working on this two days straight. Between the time it takes to generate a new PDF of the books and upload them either to the server or send them to someone who's helping out due to my cheapest-possible internet connection, well, that's been my life since I woke up yesterday.

The basic problem? The PDFs were fine on their own, but it was only when combined in one larger file that fonts started to go all flaky.

The easiest thing to do would be to just put all the files separately into a ZIP file like I did for the Deluxe edition. But... some people at the time said that wasn't so convenient, so I looked for a one-file solution.

The likely suspect was the way the font was embedded. Apparently it was different for every file, and when the files were combined, *ffaaaaaaaarrrrrttttttttttt*

Had someone with more advanced software take the individual files and stick them together by some arcane technological wizardry. It worked as far as fixing the fonts and the gibberish, but it stripped out the bookmarks in doing so. No good. (data point: The fixed file with no bookmarks was 15mb less than the screwy single file, and the good files ZIPped separately, which are both around 65mb)

Then I used the handydandy "book" tool in my layout program, where different files could be added as chapters and it outputs one PDF. This worked like a charm, except it automatically renumbered all the pages, but not the individual Table of Contents for the three books. That was ugly, and not a good idea I don't think.

So I decided to just upload the ZIP file and to say hell with it. Sometimes, it's just too much work. I did time as a programmer for awhile last century, and I learned never overwrite anything. So I renamed the current download and created a new download attached to the Grindhouse product, loading the ZIP file into the new download. (hint: THIS WAS THE WRONG THING TO DO)

The problem was that the new download was not associated with the purchases already made - they were still pointing to the old download even though I'd disassociated them.

I said hell with it and went to bed.

Today, more fun!

I'm told that overwriting the current file would have been the right thing to do, but there's another suggestion to be made for a one file solution first.

It was suggested that when embedding the font, I was only embedding the subset of the font that was needed for the individual file, and so all the different files had different subsets, which created the bllarrghh.

So I remade all the individual PDF files, then combined them again! Success! Page numbering is correct! Fonts all look good! Bookmarks present! But, oh, 105mb. +40mb for fully embedding these fonts? What the hell?

Whatever. I'll upload it, people can deal with a large file after all this crap.

A funny thing happened though. After replacing both the original download thingy and the other download thingy so all customers would be working from the same file... the system automatically logged me out. Probably timed out.

When I log back in, the downloads are gone. There are now no files associated with Grindhouse, and no evidence that there ever was.

I'm informed that 105mb was way over the file upload limit for the server. Instead of canceling, it just erased all evidence that anything was ever there.

So I make a new download for Grindhouse using the ZIP file. It fits, it's associated, all new orders should now be able to grab that.

However, previous orders still have that original PDF with the font issues in their download area. Even though as far as the admin controls are concerned, it no longer exists.

...aannnnndddd... manually adding a new product to an existing order in admin does not associate the download with the order for some reason, so that's not a solution either.

And that's where we are now.

Everyone is going to get correct and working PDFs, no matter when they ordered. Exactly how that is to be accomplished is still unknown. It would be damn embarrassing to have to send RPGNow coupons to everyone considering I have this new shiny store, but if it comes to that, it comes to that. You'll get correct and functional PDFs with your print order dammit.

My web guy has tools available to him that aren't on the admin control panel, and there are still a couple tricks to try.

Vornheim's PDF seems to be OK except for one single page (the neighborhood building roll-on chart). Hopefully when that's fixed I'll just update the file in the existing download associated with Vornheim and that will be that. Hopefully.

All other PDF files in the store are fine.

These issues did not affect the PDFs that went to press - they've been checked. And were never combined into single files in the first place.

I'm off now to drill holes in my head and hope that the blood spatters on the wall in patterns that inspire a solution to all this.


  1. Well, from a customers viewpoint, it's not the worst think to have some font issue (and mostly in headings) with the free bonus pdf. I, personally, won't shed a tear if it will be weeks for you to get that right.
    So, don't panic. Take your time. Relax. *soothing music*

    (Well, what would James Raggi IV. consider soothing music? Cannibal Corpse? ;) )

  2. I don't know how you managed it, but this post was simultaneously boring as shit and hilarious.

    P.S. - Is the adventure included in the PDF? I didn't look very hard at the PDF, but I don't remember seeing an adventure unless you count the solo adventure in the tutorial book.

  3. The adventure is in the back of the Ref book - A Stranger Storm.

  4. As someone who has been there, the experience is tremendously frustrating but one that won't be repeated. It sucks learning what technology cannot do the hard way.

  5. Thanks for the update. Sounds like you've had one hell of a time working on it. I too am happy to wait, as for me they are a bonus with the printed copies.

    Hope you get it all worked out.

  6. And last nite I was bitching about blogger eating a post. I'll keep my headache thank u very much. Heh

  7. I feel your pain, James, although you are wrestling with stuff that's far more advanced that anything I have screwed around with.

    Hang in there -- nobody expects complete perfection on the technology side, especially since you are making your mark based on creativity and content. That's what people look for from you, and the old school audience is generally old enough not to get all panty-wadded over technology problems that are clearly being dealt with as fast as possible. Especially since you're dealing with functionality that probably makes most of our eyes bleed to even think about.

  8. One thing that we could do to help: maybe we can forward you the confirmation e-mail receipt that shows you what we bought; it might help if you have to start handing out coupons or the like.

  9. I get the receipts from both the webstore and Paypal when an order was made, so I'm covered there.

  10. Hey, at least you got some XP out of it