Letter from the Editor

Article by Polson

So it's that time again when someone lets me say whatever I want to the public of OTF. Not as dangerous per se as letting Michiel and Fats within ten feet of innuendo, but still not advisable. By the way, the letter from moi is actually my own personal opinion and if you hate it, feel free to direct your comments to my inbox. Don't hate my team because I'm a loudmouth.

I'm actually going to address the, er, leadership breakdown that happened a monthish ago. Now I'm aware that a lot of folk don't know what exactly happened and at the risk of losing my OTF "job" I'll explain.

For some time, since the switch from Maxwell to HAL, things at OTF have crawled to a stop, most of us have noticed. In part that is due to real life; as they say, real life happens whether you want it to or not. Which is understandable. Also with the server switch being as sudden as it was and as complicated, a lot of time was taken up just dedicated to keeping the site actually functioning. Again, kudos to Iain and HAL for their hard work doing so.

The slowness that occured after these feats is what started to bother some folk. It seemed very much that this new "free hand" system - wherein most Team Leader's had no access to make certain changes due mostly to the hacking of OTF last year - was not working. With little upper managment direction, Team Leaders felt unneeded, unwanted, unsupported and distrusted. Naturally it came to a head where people began to come forward and verbalize their frustrations, as well as present solutions. Thus began a great big email war, which flowed into the forums and msn.

Now I don't feel the need to go into detail of what was said, I'm just giving you the background in order for my following comments to make sense. The root of the problem according to Polson as it were. And the winner is...communication. communication is the law of relationships, regardless of what kind or with whom.

There are two ways this problem could have been resolved before it blew up the way it did. A. Leadership. Now it's dangerous to point fingers at leadership because if they can't take it, then you lose important body parts, but that's not my intention. No matter who the leader is or in what society or organization, if you're not willing to communicate consistantly and thoroughly what you expect, what you need, what you want, what you intend, etc. etc. then you will have uproar. Ultimatly the buck stops at the CiC and when the yo-know-what hits the fan, it's his responsibility. I've been a leader myself, and I know this. I dare say HAL knows it, and that Iain knows it. You're nuts if you think they're sitting there going, "There is nothing we could have done differently to ensure the Team Leader blow up never happened." Just because they don't wander into your forum thread or MSN conversation and tell you that doesn't mean it's not true. B. The Team Leaders. Before the straw broke the camel's back there was nothing valid preventing people from going to their leaders privately to express their concerns. I did this to a degree but I feel that I didn't do enough. I think the original email that broke the dam as it were was bang on, justified and full of positive solutions - in retrospect I just think it should have been sent to HAL and Iain first. Ultimatly, no matter what role or position you play in OTF, you are responsible for communicating your own concerns appropriately.

That said, there are two ways the situation could have been resolved after the blow up. Which in fact did happen regardless of how some people think it played out. Granted it happened later than it should have, but better late than never. A. Leadership. No I'm not going to repeat myself. I'm going to call leadership to the carpet now. Leadership is accountable to the people they are leading. They always say, when you're in front it's best to glance back once in a while and see if anyone's following you. They say that leadership reflects attitude. It's all true. If there is a problem, it's leadership's problem. And it's their responsibility to listen up, pay attention and consider the validity of the cries below them. That's the second half of communication. Listening. B. Team Leaders. I already called us to the carpet above. Now I'm just going to throw out there that as much as it is leadership's responsibility to listen, it's ours. To each other, to our leaders, to the general populace of OTF. And it's our job to relay what we hear to leadership. They count on us whether they want to or not to know what the people of OTF want and need.

OTF might just be a chatroom but we're still a community of people who work together, play together and engage together.

Not just another IP,

Blue Report Editor

[See Full Article]


To CL7:

  • Soka (SW) - For all the work she's done in keeping Trivia up and running over the last few years, our resident Ewok Smuggler earns herself some bigger weapons to poke people with... Hey, point that thing somewhere else!
  • To CL5:

  • Navi Greenleaf (FY) - Already an invaluable part of the Trivia Team despite being one of its newest members, her presence in the chatrooms is always appreciated. Keep up the good work!
  • To CL3:

  • arthu (SW)

  • [See Full Article]

    EC Update

    Article by Daecrist

    Polson has agreed to give me some space in the Blue Report to talk about things that are going on at OTF now that we've moved away from the old genre teams and whatnot. So here's the monthly Admiral's update for July.

    First I'd like to say that I'm very happy with the continued support that the community has been showing in the form of donations. At the moment the Outpost has enough money to stay online through February of 2010. I'd say that's something to be excited about considering that the Outpost has gone from running on a $1000 annual deficit on an outdated machine to the new shiny facilities we have now. I can't say this enough: I'm forever thankful to the community who stepped up and saved OTF from deletion at the end of February.

    Of course with that transition to a new machine has come some technical difficulties. At the moment Iain is working on consolidating the chat rooms and getting a proper mail subsystem working so that we can easily add and remove people from team rosters. I know that there have been complaints about the lack of a mail system, but it's my understanding that this is a result of difficulty in setting up a secure system, something that we didn't have on the old machine where potentially hundreds of people had access to everything.

    On the subject of team efforts, that has been going well. Iain and I hoped that by giving team leaders the autonomy to run their teams as they see fit that we'd start to see more work in the teams. After some initial confusion (Did we really mean it when we said "do what you want with your team"? Yes!) things are starting to get underway again. The Writer's Guild and the Simming Team are both looking for new members to assist them. The poetry guild has some exciting plans in the work for the future and is also looking for a few good men or women to help out. Trivia is going strong as always, and I expect to see good things from the Library and Film Guild in the future.

    We've made some big changes, with more to come, and I'd like to ask everyone to be patient as we work through all of this. As of the end of February this year the Outpost had been run into the ground and was on the verge of closing its doors forever. HTML chats and our big three genres aren't the big draw on the Internet today that they were ten years ago. This isn't anybody's fault, it's just a matter of the technology moving beyond our community. We may have to downsize and make some changes as the OTF of today is simply unable to sustain the level of activity that we had even five years ago, but I, Iain, and the rest of the people in the Team Leaders group are working hard to make sure that OTF will remain online and cater to the core community that has made this place great over the years.

    That's it for this month's update. The anniversary is coming up at the end of August, so look for some special events on the weekend of the 22nd!

    [See Full Article]

    Team Leader Interview: The Blue Report

    Article by Polson

    That's right, for this issue I interviewed myself. So ladies and gents, without further ado, Polson!

    1. What does the Blue Report do?
    We procrastinate mostly. One of our goals though is to keep the populace of OTF connected to the behind the scenes happenings. We’re always looking for new ways to do this, so any ideas or letters sent by any Team Leader or chatter are appreciated. Our other goals include having fun. Several members work on completely unessential projects that focus primarily on the people of OTF, i.e. the script, the story, the cartoon. And by unessential I actually mean essential. OTF is a community filled with people. We like to remind everyone that they are a part of this place, even if it’s just some horrible drawing of Iain being smothered by a Wookee.

    2. What are your future hopes for the Blue Report?
    Ideally I’d like to see more articles from various Team Leaders. I’d like anybody to send us their thoughts and opinions. I look forward to every issue, I hope others do too.

    3. What is it really like behind the Blue Report scenes?
    We procrastinate mostly. We’re a fun bunch, I think. Not a lot of chatter goes on during our down time but when it gets down to the deadline it’s a flurry of activity and dumb jokes. So far I’ve never had any complaints about the team, or had any myself. I love the BR team and I’m proud of them every issue.

    4. In what way do you feel the Blue Report best serves OTF?
    I think we put a new spin on the “it’s just a chatroom” yarn. I’ve always hated that saying because people just twist it for their own purposes. I think the BR reminds people the best of both worlds; yes we’re a chatroom and there are politics and projects, but we’re a chatroom of individuals with hopes and dreams and warped humor. I think the BR really melts the two together.

    5. Do you really blame Hobbie for everything?
    Don’t you? Oh wait, you’re me. So yes, you do. We both do. And if you’re confused, just blame Hobbie for this question.

    6. Where do the Blue Report writers get their inspiration from?
    No idea. I highly suspect it’s OTF’s nutty population though. I can’t speak for everyone but I know my cartoons are usually inspired by stupid conversations with Dmitri or anyone with the name Darth in their handle.

    7. What happened to the Rank-O-Matic?
    It died. Usually we only had three or four submissions and always the same winners, so it was kind of not working. There’s an idea floating around for a reverse Rank-O-Matic, so stay tuned. But don’t hold your breath, we’re procrastinators. And holding your breath for extended periods of time is usually ill-advised anyway.

    8. What do you love most about the Blue Report team?
    I like that they always step up to the task. And I love that they are totally insane.

    Thanks Polson!

    [See Full Article]

    Into The Blue: Revelations

    Article by Bria

    ... in which the mystery is revealed, very spontaneous plans are made, and War muses about false alarms.


    Music played. It sounded martial, exciting, full of suspense and adventure. It followed the six OTFers as they walked down the corridors, Lzrman in front. Majin found himself subconsciously adjusting his stride to the music, stepping in time.

    "Guys," SG said. "Where's the music coming from?"

    "Maybe we're in a film," Wedge suggested. "No one ever knows where the music comes from there."

    "In that case, we'd be wearing black leather cloaks and talking all stilted," Polson said. "It's the Matrix soundtrack."

    "Iain's testing the intercom," Lzrman asserted.

    "I liked Wedge's idea better," SG muttered.

    They meandered down a few more corridors and lifts, then Lzrman led them to an observation gallery and pointed. "Check it out!"

    Outside, stars were spattered against the dark backdrop of space. And off to the right—

    "A star cruiser?" Wedge asked. "What the hell is that doing here?"

    "It arrived about an hour ago," Lzrman said. "Eagle brought it."

    "Eagle?" Polson stared. "Eagle doesn't even own a skateboard, never mind a star cruiser!"

    There was a sound of the sort that might result when an impressive fanfare fails to be impressive—that is, a sort of choked-off squeak—accompanied by a small puff of smoke. It was followed by coughing.

    "I need better sound effects, damn it!" a male voice complained. He spoke with a thick Glaswegian accent and sounded annoyed. Everyone turned to stare at FM, who stood there wearing a robe and a wizard's hat.

    "Hey guys," he said. "Heard something exciting was happening for a change." He looked hopeful.

    "Someone's brought in a star cruiser," Polson said.

    "Let's go steal it," FM said.

    "We don't even know who owns it," Wedge said. "What if it's not Eagle's, but CT's?"

    There was a thoughtful silence. They all knew that under those circumstances, stealing it would be a very bad idea indeed.

    "Let's go check it out then," FM suggested. "And then see."


    A grin was doing its best to slash Bria's face in half ever since she had seen Eagle's reason for bringing Hobbie and her to the docking bay. A star cruiser had to be a million times better than X-Wings. At least.

    "Awesome," she said.

    "Isn't it?" Hobbie regarded the space ship, anchored to the outpost with a tractor beam, with an expert's eye. "I think we'll have a lot of fun with that."

    Eagle grinned at them. "Just don't have too much fun, I don't want to have to repair it."

    They were standing beside the shuttle that Eagle had taken from the ship, since the cruiser was much too big to fit into a standard docking bay.

    Hobbie was about to reply when the door to the docking bay swooshed open and seven figures ran in.

    "Oh, dear," was all Hobbie said.

    "Hey!" SG bounded over to the trio. "That your ship?"

    "Yes," Bria said.

    "Can we borrow it?" Lzrman shouted.

    "No," Hobbie said with force.

    "Can we steal it?" FM said, eliciting laughter. He laughed along, then turned serious again. "No, really."

    "No, you can't steal it!" Eagle said.

    "I know," SG said. "Let's go on a road trip."

    "Yes!" Bria shouted.

    "How do you go on a road trip in space?" Hobbie asked. He had a bad feeling about the idea. "There aren't any roads."

    "It's not about the "road" part," FM said.

    "Just about the trip," Bria added.

    "I like trips," Polson said.

    "I'll trip you," Hobbie said darkly. "I don't like the idea."

    Eagle was beaming. "Oh, I think it's a great idea."

    Hobbie looked betrayed. "Fine," he said. "But Eagle and I are going to check through the ship first, before you lot come on board."

    "I'll go ask if anyone else wants to go," Bria said.

    "I'll come with you," Majin offered. Bria nodded, and the two were gone before anyone could object.

    Shadow grinned. "Well," he said. "This should be fun."

    "Fun," Polson repeated. "A star cruiser full of OTFers on a mad road trip, piloted by Bria and maintained by Eagle and Hobbie. I think we're headed for the apocalypse."

    The sound of hooves filled the air, audible despite the fact that there is no air in space. Destiny takes things very literally, but it does have a flair for the dramatic. Sitting atop his steed, galloping past stars through the utter darkness, War wished that his boss had a bit more understanding of human exaggeration. This was going to be another false alarm, and one of these days he was going to go insane over those.


    Comments, suggestions, and general abuse can be dumped here! Come on, people, par-ti-ci-pate!
    [See Full Article]

    Dear Aunty Shadowfox...

    Article by Mr Numbahs

    Dear Aunty,
    Every saturday morning my girlfriend likes to hit up the local dollar stores, organic shopping marts and La Senza, and she insists I go along. How do I get out of this without being murdered in my sleep?
    From, Shopped-Out

    Dear Shopped-Out,
    Do you like Hide and Seek? If she can't find you, she can't murder you.
    From, Aunty Shadowfox.

    [See Full Article]

    OTF Blues: Dmitri = Abba

    Article by Polson

    Featuring Dmitri, Iain and Bria. Once again a direct result of a conversation with Dmitri who consistantly makes comments that get him into awkward situations. It was his own idea to put on a robe, dance around to ABBA and wear kitty ears. I just doodled it.

    [Enlarge comic in a new window.]

    [See Full Article]

    The REAL story behind Star Wars... part XX

    Article by Queen of the Universe


    Alderaanduran looms behind the Iain Vader's VESPA OF DESTRUCTION (copyright 1977) - which explains why the Dark Lord wears flared trousers on weekends.


    A random lackey enters the quiet control room and bows before Governor Texan, who stands before the huge wall screen (window- they aren't that flash) displaying a small green planet. The planet could indeed be called 'pea-like' as in 'like a pea'. Not a mushy pea, though that would be nice with chips and a piece of battered fish.

    We've entered the Alderaanduran system.

    Iain Vader and two stormtroopers enter with Princess Bria. Her hands are bound and she has a jam stain on her forehead. Clearly, she's been brutally tortured.

    Governor Texan, I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board, meh, my poor, princessly sinuses.

    Charming to the last. And as for the stench, that's the kitchens, it's garlic bread night. Ah, you don't know how hard I found it signing the order to terminate your life! I had to put down my cocoa!

    I'm surprised you had the courage to take the responsibility yourself! Or did you flip a coin?

    Princess Bria, before your execution, and the resulting garlic bread party we intend to indulge in, I would like you to be my guest at a ceremony that will make this battle Vespa operational. No star system will dare oppose the Emperor now (devolves into silent giggles of megalomaniacal mirth).

    The more you tighten your grip, Texan, the more star systems will slip through your fingers. Slippy, slippy, slip! Greasy fleecy mits!

    Are mocking me? Well, you'll be mocking on the other side of your face after we demonstrate the power of this Vespa of Doom and Death and Destruction! In a way, actually, no, on purpose, you have determined the choice of the planet that'll be destroyed first. Since you are reluctant to provide us with the location of the Rebel base, and as the jam scone interrogator bot failed, I have chosen to test this Vespa's destructive power...on (da-da-da-duuuuum) your home planet of Alderaanduran. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, highness! Lackey, fetch me a cup of tea!

    No! Alderaanduran is peaceful. We have no weapons, no shields, we don't even have a Subway sandwich outlet. You can't possibly...

    You would prefer another target, one with a high-salt and calory food chain? A military target even? Then name the system!

    Texan waves menacingly toward Bria (hi there!).

    I grow tired of asking this - ooh, sport biscuits, you know these haven't been the same since they changed the design, I miss eating the one with the imagine of Olympic carpet swimming. (munches) So, (spits crumbs at Bria) it'll be the last time. Where is the Rebel base?

    Bria overhears an intercom voice announcing the approach to Alderaanduran and looks mournfully at a chocolate hob-nob.


    Bria lowers her head, but cannot rid herself of the sweet scent of choccy biccy.

    They're on Dantooiooine.

    There (dunks custard cream into tea). You see Lord Vader, she can be reasonable.

    (addressing Lackey)
    Continue with the operation. You may fire when ready, ah, I love entertainment with afternoon tiffin.


    The biscuit tray flies into the air as the shout shocks the tea-boy. Silently, half of Texan's custard cream breaks off and sinks into his drink.

    My biscuit's fallen in my brew! (thus ends today's gratutitous Peter Kay homage) Fetch me a spoon! (spoke too soon) You're far too trusting. Dantooiooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration. But don't worry. We will deal with your Rebel friends soon enough (starts fishing in his cup for the submariner biscuit)

    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! (like father like daughter)

    Commence primary ignition. You know, that big red button we always tell you not to push unless was say so.

    A big red button we always tell you not to push unless we say so is pressed, which switches on a panel of lights that don't light up unless you push the big red button we always tell you not to push unless we say so. An Imperial soldier in a ridiculous hat reaches overhead and pulls a lever that doesn't work until the panel lights up after you push the big red button we always tell you not to push unless we say so. Another lever is pulled, that only pops out when you pull the lever that doesn't work until the panel lights up after you push the big red button we always tell you not to push unless we say so. Vader reaches for still another lever (quick firing, this weapon of mass destruction, ain't it, that could prove vital at some point, don't you think?) and a bank of lights on a panel and wall light up (good grief, how hard is it to have a button that says 'fire now, do not pass go, do not have to wait for panels, levers and lights'). A huge beam of light (finally!)emanates from within a cone-shaped area (chocolate or vanilla?) and converges into a single laser beam out toward Alderaanduran (who have seen the approach of doom and managed to evacuate everyone and their cat in the meantime). The small green planet of Alderaanduran is blown into space dust.

    Ah, mushy pea.
    [See Full Article]