Success and Shaking

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Aug 232011

Apparently, that worked.

After taking Cody out for dinner, we came home and not only did I manage to sit down and pound out a couple thousand words in about an hour, but I also made time to play some guitar and work on a painting. The trick now will be keeping it up. Setting a consistent time to write will probably be the best tool in the box to make that happen. I started at 9pm yesterday. That’s late enough in the evening that I don’t feel like I have to do it right when I get home, but it’s also early enough that if I spend an hour or two writing, I still have a little time afterwards to do other stuff, too.

Of course, I did all of that stuff and then ran into the realization that I still hadn’t made any progress on my basement stairs. Sigh. Perhaps tonight I shall try to make some headway on that.

In other news, we just felt an earthquake that evidently originated out in Virginia. 5.9 out there, though only a very mild rocking here. Many people didn’t even notice it. Those of us that did weren’t sure what we were feeling and it wasn’t until news of the VA quake exploded that it made sense. It seems that such intraplate earthquakes are rare, but not unheard of. I got a kick out of the fact that this quake was mentioned on the Wikipedia article about intraplate quakes not an hour after it happened. Oh, Internet, you are delightful.

Aug 222011

Cannot run out of time. There is infinite time. You are finite. Zathras is finite. This…is wrong tool.

I have many, many projects that capture my interest. Writing is foremost among them, but so too are home improvement projects, costuming, digital art, web development, programming, learning to play the guitar, and so on. I often lament that I simply don’t have enough time to do all of that and my job and spend time with my wife and spend time with friends.

But that’s really a load of crap, isn’t it?
Continue reading »

Aug 172011

A great deal has happened since my last post. I’m 27 now, had the best birthday party of my life, have been married for over a year, went on a cruise with my wife (Port Canaveral, FL and the Bahamas, leaving out of NYC), and have been doing some intense self-introspection. I’ve also been working on the second draft of The Novel (which I have now identified as the third of a four-book arc), have resumed playing guitar, and have even been working on my digital painting. Some of the stair pieces have been stained (thanks, Dad!) and more will progress in the coming weeks. Alas, as a result, still no progress on the vacuform table beyond the last update. October is not far, though, and I’ve had a new fire lit under my ass about getting it done (you know who you are).

I had an absurd amount of energy when I got home last night. I decided I should try and bleed some of it off by exercising, so I hopped on the elliptical and jogged 1.11 miles in 15 minutes. That’s not terribly impressive in and of itself, until you factor in the fact that I haven’t exercised in any serious way in months. Not sufficiently exhausted by that, I proceeded to do some weight-lifting. Still not really exhausted, but very sweaty, I showered and then rather than heating something up quick in the microwave for dinner, I decided I really wanted some eggs, so I scrambled those up. At them and still had too much energy, so I sat down to play some Rock Band on expert drums for about an hour. All of that combined finally wore me out enough to be a little more low-key. Very weird, but honestly…I could get used to having that kind of energy.

The lawn desperately needs to be mowed. It needed to be mowed before Cody and I went on our cruise. We returned this past Saturday, to find it looking like a minor rainforest. I should have mowed it then, but had just spent an hour and a half driving with my parents from NYC to CT, and then another three hours driving from CT back to MA, so I was a little tired. Sunday, it rained. Monday, it rained. Tuesday, it didn’t rain, but it was still wet. The minor rainforest is now more of a mid-tier rainforest. I am mowing tonight, the wetness of the grass notwithstanding. It’s embarrassing. Unfortunately, this probably puts the kibosh on any stair work happening this evening. Sigh.

Oct 082010

I had this whole plan for what to write about today that congealed as I drove to work. It vanished when I actually sat down to write it.

Yesterday marked Cody’s and my second month as a married couple. So far, so good! It seems a little silly to celebrate these milestones, given the four-closing-on-five years we’ve been together. The relationship is solid, we love each other just as much (if not more) now than we did when everything was exciting and new, we live together well, etc. It still feels like an achievement anyway. Marriage! It’s this big, important word that, for us, represented no functional change in our relationship toward one another that nevertheless bestowed a reaffirming, reinforcing strength that I didn’t even know could exist. I heartily approve.

I decided to bite the bullet and forgo worrying about writing a tailor-made web app for play-by-post Firefly-inspired Star Wars game I’ve been planning for a few months now. Instead, I went with MyBB and will adapt it as the need arises. I’ve used phpBB in the past, but it’s always felt a little clunkier than it ought to. MyBB is very smooth by comparison. This doesn’t obviate the need for a character creation web app, but it’s one less technical hurdle to starting the game than I had before. It’s been a long-standing desire of mine to play/run a Star Wars game that used an adapted version of the 7th Sea rule-set, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out. Play-by-post is an odd fit for such a dynamic and fluid system, but one never knows until one actually tries.

November is bearing down on us, which poses two annoying problems. The first is that Cody and I are still at a loss about a concept for Halloween costumes this year. There isn’t enough time to do anything complex1 in the time we have—next year, for sure—but even within that constraint, it’s rough. The second problem is one of time management: NaNoWriMo is going to eat my time in November, which presents something of a blockage on both the aforementioned Star Wars game as well as the heavy WoW-playing fronts. Oh, to have just six more hours each day.

Hell, I’d settle for two.

  1. Like the various costumes I’d make with a vacuform table []

Virtuosity and RPGs

 Posted by at 15:20  No Responses »
Dec 022009

Wait, what?

A friend of mine is restructuring the 3.5 edition Dungeons and Dragons rules to be more to his liking. He’s calling it D&D 3.75. Though he and I disagree on some fundamental RPG theory stuff, I wish him the best in doing so and look forward to seeing what he comes up with.

On Facebook, he mentioned having recently finished setting up the requisite mechanics for the first level. This reminded me of an issue I have, in general, with the concept of level. I sent him the following bit, mostly as fodder for him to pick through as he desired. However, it also prompted me to think about the issue a bit more, too.

Continue reading »

Oct 232009

I despise commercials. On TV, the radio, or some other format, I resent their existence. Some of them are amusing the first time you see them, but they quickly become overplayed and obnoxious. More than just the individual commercial, I especially despise commercial breaks, when we’re subjected to five, six, or more of these tedious ads in rapid succession. I mute the TV, leave the room to get a drink, or do some other activity to avoid watching them. In other words, their objective—selling me something—is not being achieved.

TV shows live and die by their ratings, compiled by Nielsen Media Research (“the Nielsens”). These numbers boil down to a certain number of viewers for a given show, and also what percentage of all viewers in that time slot were watching that particular show. For networks (and shows), higher Nielsens are good, because it means more people are watching the advertisements, more advertisers will have their products seen, and thus will continue financially supporting the show.

This, to me, has always been a stupid business model. It places shows at the mercy of advertiser’s whims. Technically speaking, cable TV is completely unregulated. They can show whatever they want: horrid vivisection, full-on nudity, copious vulgar language. But they don’t. Why? ’cause they don’t want to turn away advertisers reluctant to support a show containing those elements.

So, in short, we have an entertainment system funded and censored by people with no creative interest in the product, and who achieve their support by annoying viewers.

Does anyone else think this is ridiculous?

I think we should do show-based subscriptions. You only get the content you subscribe to, you only pay for that content, and there are no ads. The money goes directly to the “bank account” of that particular show to fund future endeavors. There are no “networks” in this world. There are no advertisers. There’s you, the cable company (which holds the repository of shows), and the creators. (Promotion of new shows would be a potential issue under this system; not a problem I’ve thought through.)

Let’s use the example of Firefly, the series beloved by many but ultimately canceled because the network (FOX) continually shuffled its timeslot, preempted it for baseball, ran the series out of order, and so forth. I can’t find a list of the ratings for each episode that aired, but I do know that the first episode had a 4.1/8 rating, meaning 4.1 million viewers watched it. Suppose the subscription cost for a show was $1.99 (the cost of a song on iTunes) per episode and further assume that the cable company gets the change portion. That’s $4.1 million in the bank for the show, or basically enough to pay for that one episode. (This is technically true, but not practically true. The pilot episode cost $10 million; the first aired episode, however, was not the pilot, and cost $3-$4 million.)

This is using dirt-simple, ultra-basic hypothetical numbers. I’m sure television accountants could cook up a better, more-sustainable number. Crank up the cost for shows with higher viewership, until they stop watching (American Idol, anyone?) and allow the actual viewership revenue to dictate how much money a show can spend.

The downside to losing both networks and ad revenue is that you need start-up capital from somewhere. I imagine this is where something like product-placement enters the picture. For shows where this is impractical, perhaps a small, static, and soundless ad in the bottom right of the screen every so often (much like networks now emblazon their logo on the screen at all times).

(This entire rant was prompted, rather paradoxically, by the news that Hulu is switching to subscriber-only model in 2010.)

For love of the craft

 Posted by at 10:25  No Responses »
Sep 092009

Stayed up until around 3am this morning, attempting to tear brilliance from my fingertips and stuff it into Word. Net wordcount was very small, and also disconnected from the place where I last left off, but at least the story’s moving again. I also tried doing some mind-mapping for the story, on the hypothesis that perhaps I’m the sort of writer that does better from an outline or reference body. That particular approach didn’t work, though I’m not totally convinced that some kind of codified brainstorming isn’t the right way to go.

Though I’ve spent a long time writing (pretty sure my parents still have stories I wrote when my age was single-digit), I still have yet to find my process, where I can say, “I’m going to sit down and write now,” and not feel a little jolt of “But I don’t know what to write!” surge through me. That will come with time and experimentation, no doubt.

Theme update

 Posted by at 16:01  No Responses »
Aug 072009

Did a big overhaul of the theme, based on the monochrome.  I liked the overall theme, but I wanted it with a black background, which required re-doing a lot of the images.  Much easier on the eyes now, I think.

Probably not entirely done.  I suspect I’ll have things to do with regard to comments and the like that aren’t immediately apparent.  One thing at a time.

Also did some additional re-writing of the post-by-email script.  I’m still not quite happy with it, but it’s better.


 Posted by at 10:46  No Responses »
Aug 072009

I’ve been trying to come up with a solution for my dual computer (PC and laptop) arrangement for a while.  I toyed with getting a KVM switch, but they tend to be more feature-rich (and expensive) than I want to deal with.  Around the time that we moved, I decided I would try to build a hardware device myself, and got all the parts I imagined I would need from You-Do-It.  I haven’t had time to sit down and do any fine electronics work since then, so the parts sat unopened in the bag.

Then a few days ago, I discovered Synergy.

In short, Synergy comes just shy of letting you share desktops across multiple computers.  Once configured (which takes all of five minutes), I could drag my mouse from the left PC monitor, to the right PC monitor…to the laptop.  Seamlessly.  It uses internal network addresses to do the relaying of signals, with one machine (the PC in this case) acting as a server and the other machines (in this case, the laptop) acting as clients.

Coolest thing ever!