Friday, December 7, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Windows 8 Pro, Initial

My initial impressions of Windows 8 Pro leave me mostly bewildered. Installing it on my Lenovo as an upgrade was, I’m certain, not the experience Microsoft wants their users to have. Right away, I would strongly caution anyone upgrading on older equipment, and when I say older, I mean anything eighteen months or older. Even better, get Windows 8 on new hardware already installed.
I’ll dispense with the details but after my recovery partition was deleted, I was locked out of the bios, and Windows 8 Pro wouldn’t activate, I was pretty frustrated.
First, the partitioning tools that came with Windows 8 installation suite are mostly useless, so if you’re working around Linux, a Linux Swap, System, and Recovery partitions, you’ll be flirting with disaster. Make sure you reset your machine to factory and back up your files before even attempting an upgrade. Windows 8 isn’t advanced enough to handle anything more than that.
The packaging on a copy of Windows 8 is pretty deceptive. Near as I can tell there is no such thing as a full version that allows you to do a clean install. You’ll have to re-install your old OS and upgrade regardless of what you purchase. This is counter intuitive to everyone who has been wrestling with Windows for more than a decade. Doing a fresh install is always better than an upgrade, but now you've no choice but to do the latter apparently.
Yeah, it’ll let you do the fresh install, but your copy won’t activate forcing you to go through the whole process over again.  
Near as a colleague and I can tell, the OS boots in such a way and quickly enough that you’ll be prevented from getting to the BIOS to make adjustments. That’s how it is on my Lenovo anyway. The restart features within the OS that claim to allow you to boot from other sources doesn’t work whatsoever, and I still haven’t found a reliable way to boot from a USB. Most of the advanced features I’ve found in control panel and settings don’t do what they claim and are likewise useless.
I found myself wishing I had a copy of Windows Millennium. Seriously, it would have been easier to install.
In the end I did a fresh install to try and find some feature that would let me boot Linux or access some sort of disk utility as I had not yet discovered my recovery partition had already been obliterated. Miraculously, the product activated and began to work normally. I have no idea why (from all indication, it shouldn't), and I was able to go in and check out some of the aforementioned “features”.
I loaded Office Pro 2010, Sketchbook Pro 2011, Minecraft, Java, and a few other odds and ends like Dropbox and began giving the operating system a try. It’s incredibly fast, intuitive, and elegant once you get it running. The store and handling of applications is great, the ability to organize the Start menu quickly is nice, and the performance is nonpareil. For reference, I'm running it on a Lenovo e420 with an i3-2310 @ 2.1 GHz, and 8 GB Ram, 7200 RPM harddrive. Pretty much stock except for the extra stick of RAM.
I couldn’t say enough great things about it until I discovered something ugly. I clicked on the beautiful weather application and scrolled all the way to the right. Big as life, there’s a shampoo ad or something displayed right in the app. I chuckled not because it was funny, but because it was decidedly not funny. Microsoft put ads in the “Pro” version of the operating system? Really?
Yeah, bewildered is the right word here. I'll write more as I get things figured out.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Being Pro-Life

Being Pro-Life starts with you, as an individual, and the choices you make. From there it spreads out to your friends and family, to your church, and to your community. It has always been about community activism and giving people information and options to make choices. Being Pro-Life is about loving other human beings and respecting not only their innate and biological life, but the metaphysical workings of their agency. 

When life begins isn't important to these beliefs, only what we do is important. If we are allowing others full access to their agency with the knowledge to use it properly, we are being true to the cause. When we stray from that notion, we stumble and fail. 

The moment we believe the Federal Government can do a better job of taking care of our friends and neighbors than we can, is the moment we can no longer lay claim to being Pro-Life. I think John Koster, Richard Mourdock, Todd Akin, Paul Ryan and others are probably having to give their anti-choice notions some thought now. Indeed, I hope the entire Republican Party is thinking about it. 

I personally believe it played a role in them losing the Senate and the White House. 

You can't be anti-choice and a fiscal conservative. It takes money to shake down dealers holding black market oral contraceptives and to kick in the door of every benevolent doctor giving a 12-year-old incest victim an abortion. Worse, this is the last way most police officer want to spend their time. Think! Do you want your community, your church leaders, and yourself responsible for spreading the Pro-Life message? People that really want to be there? Or men with guns that don't? 

Do we really want the Federal Government interfering with a pregnant cancer patient's agency, while she decides whether to fight for her life for her other two kids, or risk all and carry to term? Would you rather have benevolent friends, family, church/community leaders involved, or the Federal Government? 

Hint: The Federal Government tend to deploy heavily armed law enforcement professionals and lawyers with political ambitions to enforce the law. 

The Federal Government can't even balance a checkbook, do we really want them playing doctor with our wives, daughters, aunts, mothers, sisters, cousins, friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens? I think the message to the GOP and the Anti-Choice movement this election cycle was clear. These "Sanctity of Life" and "Personhood" pieces of legislation that have been pushed unsuccessfully since 1995 need to just stop. Put simply, we're wise to it, and we don't want it, push your radical views to your constituency some other way. 

If you want to be Pro-Life, just do it, don't try to legislate it, quantify it, or put it into a legal context. Anyone with a true devotion to their fellow human, derived from their maker or otherwise, knows that doing so is to invite folley and to see one's beliefs cheapened by a soul-blackening political machine. 

If we don't support and love our fellow humans in spite of the choices they make, we are cheapening the significance of having a choice in the first place. Do not erode the greatest gift that comes with life by supporting people who would foster Federal control over the lives of others. These people are not true advocates of the Pro-Life movement, not true fiscal conservatives, and have utterly lost their way. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Surface RT

I had all sorts of expectations about the Surface device before I had a chance to actually handle one. I marvel at how uniform every review of the iPad is as compared to the Surface device. The iPad seems to be pretty much the same experience for everyone while the Surface obviously produces an array of experiences. People confuse this to mean the Surface must be deficient in some way and that it must certainly lack something as a consequence. 

What it really means is that the device has the ability to be something different to each person that picks it up. That's closer to a real computing experience in my opinion. Maybe I'm just totally immersed in Microsoft's Metro design language and the manner in which it is supposed to reach people, but it's like anything I guess, move or be moved. 

I haven't fallen out of love with my iPad. For someone heavily invested in both Apple and Microsoft's ecosystems I don't see the Surface as a replacement for my tablet. In buying a Surface I would acquire it instead of a MacBook Air, Samsung Series 9, HP Folio 13 or similar. It's what I would get instead of a laptop to run the Windows operating system. 

It's better than an ultrabook because it can pretend to be a tablet when it needs to, while being yet even more portable because of it's battery life and size. I still don't think anyone has made a true Windows tablet device, and maybe no one needs to. The Surface, as it's own form factor has appeal all on it's own without having to plug into the marketing hype Microsoft has tried to foster. 

In truth, I think they would have done better putting it out there with no explanation and no expectations. I think the engineers who engaged a hacker-collective style means of rapid prototyping absolutely won the battle that the marketing department seems determined to lose for them. Yeah, they grabbed headlines and made Marco Arment nervous enough that he had to troll a Microsoft retail location, but they lost a valuable opportunity to stand alone outside of any shadow in the oxymoronic mobile desktop computing world. 

Microsoft could have said that there are two worlds and that they need not collide or compete. People are always going to want the option of a mobile desktop experience, mobile experience and yet even more mobile experience. If you've every traveled and carried three mobile computing devices (laptop, tablet, and smartphone) at once through the airport, you know what I mean. 

Microsoft RT is particularly interesting to me. I think RT will catch on, and being there in the beginning is going to be exciting. Early adopters will watch a whole application ecosystem grow and take advantage of it as it gains diversity. It's something that techies didn't really get to experience with the iPad because iOS had already existed previously on other devices. 

Yes, RT is basically just Windows, but the sort that has no applications outside that which enter the marketplace and were designed for touchscreens. It's like Microsoft is asking what it would have been like to start at the ground level with their OS, in a touch-capable hardware environment. I can't wait to see the answer. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 2012

I had it said to me, and then I turned around and said it to someone else. Sometimes when you can't be understood or the person can't be reasoned with, letting them know you are really angry is the second best thing. Maybe they'll just stay away, which is what probably what needs to happen anyway. 

This is a thinly veiled way of saying I've chosen to utterly exclude someone from my life. I have had to do that from time to time since I embarked on this road I'd chosen back in 2009. I always wonder if I'm doing the right thing, but it's a better feeling than knowing for sure that I didn't. 

Last year around this time I had possessed the urge to edit my first book and really push to self-publish. I decided to write another 700k words instead in the form of manuscripts for novels, game design for my Windows and Table Top game projects, and similar. What I've discovered is a truth I probably already knew. I'm even scared to read my blog from back then because I'm sure I made a mistake not engaging the editing and publishing process sooner. 

I've spent the month mourning that decision. Ask anyone with the misfortune to ask me how I've been doing lately, I'm sure they'll tell you. They will probably also tell you I'm not the forgiving or tolerant sort when it comes to failure of any sort really. Okay, I'm done feeling bad about that. It's out of my system. 

I'm a better writer now, which is what I really set out to do. So in that regard I haven't faltered in my primary goals and desires. Yay me. 

I've spent a lot of time pondering gadgets this month and the best computing devices for moving all my projects forward. Being a writer and a creative almost demands that you own a Mac, nothing else can endure my 8-10 hour day. Breaking in a new Windows Machine every 9 months at $1200 a pop seems kinda dumb compared to my three year old MacBook Pro that's outlasted two of my other machines. 

Developing games for the Windows Phone 8 platform requires different hardware entirely. Talking with my partner in crime, the mighty Livestrom, makes me certain it'll require a higher end machine. The new Windows Phones are going to be powerful and emulating them via the SDK is going to be like standing up almost two full operating systems. I'm due for a handset upgrade in February, so I might just wait and push game updates to the device itself for play testing.  

I really love my Samsung Focus though. I'll have to find it a good home if I upgrade.

I really liked being able to see everything in context to the code, how assets plugged in, and so forth. Not having my own SDK capable rig will be like building the game blind in some ways, but I don't know that I want to drop serious money on a machine that contribute to little else in my other endeavors. I don't even game on the PC anymore really so there's not even a recreational incentive for a faster machine. 

If it can make text reliably and run Sketchbook Pro and OneNote I'm basically fulfilled except with regard to end-game assets for the Windows Phone project. For a lot of it I can get by with Matthew Klundt's Sprite Something app, but for the rest there is only the hard-to-not-use Photoshop.

Monday, October 8, 2012


The virtues that give real personal power exist without the benefit of men or Gods, and cannot be easily written down or expressed with words. It isn't the sense of one's self that seems to bring action in domains arcane or banal. I don't even pretend to understand this state of being, and have dwelled there only a handful of times. 

People attempt to convey and explain this peaceful state through their unfailing faith and science of certitudes. Always, it is with panic in their voice and fear in their eyes. No one can bring it into the light and would scarcely blame the shadows for their own sake. 

It's that moment in the middle of the night when we think of how long we've lived, and wonder how much time we have left. That terror of being lost to the stars and everything we are vanishing with us when our mortal coil expires. Only I don't think it really is terror, or fear. It's something else. 

We attempt to give it many names, but the one that fits best is mortality. Any transcendent state would be meaningless without the threat of, or one being subject to, death. If one lived with no fear, there would be no contrast relative to what we mere mortals loosely define as real virtue. 

Therefore, to really know virtue, one must be subject to death. Lots of folks would jump in with how it's part of some Godly or cosmic plan that gives this notion weight. I would argue this: even if there is a plan, such a truth gives human agency a sort of unearthly power that transcends any agenda, temporal or celestial. 

I (just a man) subject to all, can deny everything for my own sake and be at peace. To myself there is only what occurs in the moment that matters. And, I can live forever in those moments. 

Thus, one man can understand the cosmos and everything in it simply by virtue of being born and being subject to death. Of all the religious and philosophical nonsense being spread like like cheap marmalade across the toast of humanity, I like the taste of that idea best. 

Simply, it means that everyone has a chance.

Friday, October 5, 2012

September 2012

I've been doing what I do for three years now. To be honest, I thought I'd get one half-assed book done, burn out and just find another job nine months in. My expectations were low. 

I think what's allowed me to persist this long was a couple of things. First, the craft itself. Writing expands the mind and makes you think more deeply about everything. Good creatives are adaptable. Second, I had a marriage of ten years under my belt. 

You'll live or die as a creative because of who you know. Having someone there to root for you when you can't pick yourself up is pretty important. I'd have given this up two years ago if it wasn't for my wife. Creatives need relationships and allies. 

Choose your spouse and your friends carefully. Ditch anyone or anything that drags you down. 

In that three years I've watched the self-publishing scene go from a little bit of nothing to guys making six-figure paydays. There wasn't much to believe in back in 2009, there was just hope. 2012 is a completely different story. The self-published author gig is a legitimate way to make a living. 

I hoped it would be. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

August 2012

A thousand words worth.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

July 2012

Everything I feel like I should write for an update sounds hollow to me now.

Suffice it to say, I'm one month closer to my goals. I work steadily according to the schedule I've set up for myself. Most of the time I'm a strange mixture of content and restless as the work proceeds. It's strange to be on the other side of so much text and to go back through it.

I've probably said it before already, but it is worth pointing out again.

One definitely sees themselves and where they were in their work. I can look at the date created for a document, read through it, edit it, and recall how I felt that day. Brutal introspection indeed.

I need to read and reread my own work more.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tablets, Ultrabooks & Copying

There are a lot of devices not the market being branded as tablets and Ultrabooks, when in reality they are anything but. It's maddening to me, as I love both of those form factors, and they seem to get diluted with each new marketing strategy. This is how I define those two form factors:

Tablet Device

- Hand held mobile device weighing 1-2 lb. at most.

- 4:3 screen ratio, designed to be held in portrait (like digital paper), but works equally well in landscape. Android is something of an exception in this regard. Because it was designed to be viewed on a phone, it looks okay (depending on device) with a 16:10 ratio, even when held in portrait.

- Touch screen interface with no others required to access all features.

- Mobile operating system designed for tablet form factor, no mouse pointers or UI that would imply input other than touch. My preference is that the OS is as good at allowing the user to create media, as it is for consuming it. Productivity with equal parts fun.

- 10+ hours of battery life. Anything less doesn't match up with my usual work day.

Everything else is some sort of media consumption device, hybrid, or glorified e-reader.

As exciting as Microsoft's Surface device might be, it is not a tablet device. It's a somewhat baffling personal computer with a touch screen. I know Microsoft and everyone else is going to market the device otherwise, and it just doesn't sit right with me. Windows 8 RT running on the right hardware, might qualify as a tablet device, but I haven't held such a thing in my hand yet.

I hope the Surface is just a step in the right direction to a true Windows-based tablet device.


- Clamshell design mobile computing device weighing 2-3 lb. at most.

- 16:9 (or similar) screen ratio, to be viewed in landscape.

- Keyboard, Trackpad interface with no need to carry external mouse.

- Desktop operating system.

- Solid state drive storage.
(...although I am starting to see the merit of hybrid drives provided they don't add bulk to the device.)

- No optical drive.

- 7+ hours of battery life.

Everything else is some kind of personal computer.

There are a number of devices that will probably break my rules, succeed, and find consumers that crave their line-blurring form factors. The industry will probably call them tablets or Ultrabooks for the sake of marketing, but it still feels wrong. These unique form factors deserve names of their own.

It sounds like I'm just describing the iPad and the MacBook Air in my quantifications above. It's probably because those two devices have defined their respective form factors like no other. They are pretty much the standard against which all others are measured by tech sites, comment section trolls, and myself.

The year is half over and I haven't seen anything that comes close to making me want to relinquish my 2010 MBA or iPad (except the newer iPad). Windows 8 RT gives me hope that there might be a Windows Product worth buying again in the Ultrabook category, but no one is making a tablet worth buying right now. Props to Google for their Nexus 7 media consumption device, it looks really good.

I can't even look at the comments section of any tech website without marveling at the number of people pointing out how similar laptops, tablets, and similar are to Apple products... whether they are or not. Everyone from car makers to PC manufacturers has been copying each other since the inception of their respective industries. It is a practice that sits at the core of all human innovation, natural as breathing. Why this is so surprising to people or that they feel the need to point it out all the time is mysterious to me.

There are certain design truths whether you are crafting a commercial aircraft or a double decker ice cream cone. As the mobile computing industry settles on these truths they will come to resemble each other more and more over time as standards of creation are quietly adopted. It's just another sign that we are becoming a global community with a greater awareness of one another.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

June 2012

Took some vacation time and spent some of it in deep reflection... when I wasn't playing Fallout: New Vegas. I did finally get a word count on what I've written so far this year and I blew past the half million mark sometime last month. I think this will be the last blog post where I talk specifically about my progress though.

In January I didn't trust myself to really write at capacity and stay on task. In July, a half million words later, and as I get ready to write the draft for my seventh book, it's lost all meaning. This is just what I do now, and I don't need to quantify my work by holding myself accountable on a blog anymore.

I know when I depart my two weeks vacation on Monday I will immediately resume my schedule. My game accounts will once again go largely innactive, books I hoped to read for pleasure will get set aside, and the quest will continue. My new book will have a draft in about 2-3 weeks and I'll be able to commence going back and editing the two in the series that precede it.

It all feels normal now.

My partner in crime and I will be pulling together a game for the Windows 8 platforms and I've already begun the design work. Our other game languishes on that old (by mobile standards) platform Windows Phone 7. We surpassed a 1000 downloads a while ago and I'm not sure where we are now.

Also, totally normal.

What isn't normal is the feeling that all this is normal. That is a wondrous sensation and that all that remains is to edit, create covers, and self publish... a process that will also come to feel normal probably by the middle of next year. It has me asking myself a question I haven't asked myself since 2009.

What will I do after this?

Friday, June 1, 2012

May 2012

I don't think anyone really appreciates the process behind any product until they've engaged it at every level. I hope down the road I can honestly tell someone looking at the same path of self-published authorship, "Yes, it was worth it, go-go". Staring at a half million words of text while standing at my desk makes me wonder if I'll be able to ever utter those words. I don't think I ever realized just how hard this would be, or the ways in which I would have to grow as a person and a creative. 

I definitely want to do this. Give it five years of my life at least. After that, I dunno. 

At this point I've given up trying to figure out exactly how much I've written in the last two months. After a lot of work, it is still spread out among two hundred or so .txt files in my Daedalus app, and I'm slowly moving it all into the formatted documents where they belong. I feel like I'm moving a huge flock of sheep that do not know where they are going or why they exist, I've written so much in the last couple of months that it has sort of lost all meaning. 

Every day, and every night, I write more. I've been taking Melatonin to make me sleep, so I don't stay up until 3:00 AM making text. The dreams and the sometimes sluggishness I feel the day after almost aren't worth it. 

I still don't lack for material. I feel like I have at least two more books in me that are still languishing as outlines and one of those could lead to an array of related works. I'm trying to at least get all the text I've already written moved to the proper place and edited before I disappear to a dark corner to write more drafts for more books. Books I already don't have the stamina to edit at this point. 

I might need to find some help. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Rain & Writing

It's raining pretty hard today, and it's cold. Couldn't let it go to waste so I moved my work out to the covered patio.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

iPad Home Screen

I think you could probably tell a lot about a person based on their iPad's home screen. For argument's sake, this is what mine looks like.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April, 2012

I'm putting this up for my own benefit, so feel free to skip reading this unless the minutia of my work is interesting to you.

By the end of April I have worked an unknown number of days and have added a likewise unknown number of words to my goal. I've spent the last two days cutting text from unformatted medium to a formatted one trying to get a grasp on how much I wrote in April. Needless to say, it was a lot. More than a 100,000 words by my reckoning. 

Master & Student is on the market now, you can download it here

My goal at this moment is to edit as much text as I can, and get it into the formatted document where it belongs. 

I think I'll just edit this post later or add the specifics to May's update. Anyway, back to work. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Standing Desk, 9 Months Later

Posted about my standing desk about nine months ago. After talking with my brother I felt like I should post an update for those who still haven't taken the plunge.

My post from last year is here.

I spend anywhere from 6-8 hours per day at my standing desk, and it gets used for work exclusively. I've stopped any sort of gaming, mostly for lack of time, and I've taken to drawing on my tablet there as well. It's where the majority of my work gets done, unless I'm ill or something.

The desk I'm using has a keyboard tray which is handy for storing my tablet, external hard drives, extra mice, and so forth. I highly recommend rotating keyboards and mice to keep your hands and wrists from getting to used to one or the other. I don't know about the orthopedic benefits, but it helps me stay focused and aware of my posture at the standing desk.

Edit: It's worth mentioning the importance of shoes. Nothing makes my back hurt like working at my standing desk barefoot. Wear good shoes when you're at your vertical workspace.


It's easier to maintain my weight. I don't feel like my weight is in constant flux. While I haven't shed mad pounds or anything, I do stay pretty much the same.

My mental health has improved, and I'm more focused. I'd actually like to figure out a way to have more table space for my notes and such. I'm not getting rid of my bust of Odin though.

Reduced pain in my hands, wrists and shoulders from long hours at the keyboard. Posture is really important and you've got to stand tall, back away from the desk, and avoid leaning on it to get the benefits I think.


It helped me sleep better for the first few months, but now I think it does the opposite. The pair of twenty five pound dumbbells sitting by the desk help.

My back hurts a little bit if I forget to take breaks and walk around. Sometimes I'll just disappear into my own little world making text and come out of it with a back ache. If you do a standing desk, make sure you take a break every hour or so. Walk around the block, rake some leaved, trim the shrubs, take out the trash, something.


If you find yourself fighting with your weight and being sleepy at your desk, I would recommend giving a standing desk a try for three months. I'm not a healthcare professional, and I would recommend consulting a doctor if you've got any condition that would mess with you as a result of standing for long hours before trying a standing desk.

It doesn't have to be expensive. My standing desk was a cheap $80 desk you buy at the office big box store and $15 worth of cinder blocks from Home Depot. There are plenty of far more expensive solutions out there if you think the cheap will clash with decor.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

March, 2012

I'm putting this up for my own benefit, so feel free to skip reading this unless the minutia of my work is interesting to you.

By the end of March I had knocked out 37 solid days of work on my novels and have somewhere around 185,000 words of my 1,000,000 word goal.

I spent a lot of time editing and realizing that I couldn't just continue writing books for two separate series without doing a lot of back reading and editing along the way. I logged nearly seventy hours reading and editing in March.

To stay on track for my goal, I really needed to be at 250,000 words by now. I don't really have time to beat myself up about it. It's of little use at this point. We set goals to better understand our limits.

The video game my partner and I made is in the process of being bounced back and forth between us and Microsoft certification, which I'm really excited about. I also finished the draft for my fifth novel and I am pleased with some of what I've written recently.

Looking ahead...


I broke through six month of writers block on my Storytelling Sciences RPG and I've began revising the system and creating a new and hopefully more final version. I'm going to add whatever I do for it to my word count as I will eventually publish the darn thing.

I made myself a reading list. I don't think I read enough, and it hurts me as a writer and editor.

There are twenty one perfectly good work days in April and if I only add 55,000 words to my total this month, I'll call it a win. I'm going to stretch and try for a lot more but I think the process will get slower as I progress further in each series. Every book I write, is another I have to fact check and edit for the one to follow.

I'd like to finish the third D&E novel, outlined to fall somewhere around 80,000 words. I think I'll shoot for that.


I'll worry about it when I get there.

I have close to 400,000 words worth of material to read and edit between the three projects I'm working on right now. It's my least favorite thing, which means I should probably be doing it right now.

Friday, March 30, 2012


53's app, called "Paper", is a stack of Moleskins, a handful of drawing tools and a small array of colors. It isn't for creating finished work or storing a gallery's worth of masterpieces locally on your iPad. The app is for a different kind of work, the sort one does before they really get to work.

If you've ever used a pen you lifted from the hotel you're staying at to jot down an idea on a napkin, this is app is for you. If you've ever grabbed the crayons from the table at the pizza place to entertain yourself by drawing on the back of a kid's menu, this app is right up your alley. The promotional video shows someone using their iPad to jot down items while wandering the city.

If you're the sort of creative person who has their best ideas no matter where they happen to be, check this app out. It's free, and you can try out the features before you buy any of them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

iPad (3rd Gen) Review

I've been trying to conjure the right words for the new Apple iPad since I got mine last Friday. There are already a bunch of reviews out there raving about how awesome the screen is, so I'll try to make this review a little different.

I think it's a worrying trend that Apple's iPad 1, only two years old, can't run all the iLife apps. If you own an iPad 1, and you feel like you're the victim of planned obsolescence, you aren't alone. Feeling like you have to upgrade only two years later to get full functionality, and access to apps and features, is pretty discouraging.

Worried about being a future victim of planned obsolescence or artificial scarcity? The new iPad (3rd Generation) will probably have better longevity because it will runs all the iLife apps at release, and has the new retina display. It very well could be a device with a 3-5+ year lifespan like an iPod or a MacBook.

As a tool and content consumption device, the new iPad has some features that the iPad 1 doesn't.


I use this application all the time to read full color PDFs that have hundreds of pages. The original iPad was sluggy and displayed each page at a lower resolution that the document was probably scanned in at. Reading such documents on the new iPad is a joy and the performance far exceeds that of the iPad.

If I did print or design professionally and wanted to have something to show samples to clients, the new iPad would be a must have tool. The full color pages of my PDF format books look as good as the real thing, sometimes better depending on the light conditions. Page turns aren't instant, but quick enough that it doesn't test my not-so-considerable patience.

Pages, Numbers, & Keynote

I didn't think I would find the retina display that useful when using business or text generation apps. I was wrong. Using these apps with the new iPad is like going from an old CRT monitor to an Apple Cinema Display. When you have to stare at a screen for hours editing or generating text, there is something to be said about the display and how it affects your stamina.

The latency of the soft keyboard seems better too, allowing me to type a little more quickly onscreen than I did with the iPad 1. I can't really explain or quantify why I feel that way, it's just a better experience. Also, the text you create is crisp and very readable. When editing, I prefer my new iPad to anything else now because of how easy on the eyes the display is.


There are only a few retina optimized games out there. I've spent a couple of hours with Infinity Blade II and Mass Effect: Infiltrator. I think once more games come out, this will be the mobile gaming platform to own for power gamers. I still play Ultima Underworld 1 in a DOS box, so I wasn't as dazzled as some. However, if mobile gaming platforms are your thing, the new iPad is your device.

Some of my old games, purchased for the iPad 1, run a little wonky. Seriously, it made me all kinds of nostalgic, but it wasn't to be unexpected. I still have a 1997 laptop to play old games. It's just the price of doing business.

There's been some talk that the iPad generates a large amount of heat when running games for an extended period of time. I did my own tests, both on battery and AC power, and didn't find this to be the case. That's not to say that it stays perfectly cool, but the heat is negligible. User experience in this regard probably varies depending on a number of variables, and maybe I just lucked out.

Yet-to-be Retina Enabled Apps

Most of them aren't so garish to be rendered unusable, but a few are. I've had a mostly favorable experience so far. Microsoft's OneNote app, for instance, looks fine and works great. Their SkyDrive app needs a hug, but I'll save that for a different review.

The short term solution seems to be loading the iPhone retina display capable version, if available. If you are looking for a reason to wait, this could qualify. Waiting for developers to upgrade to the new retina display shouldn't take too long though.

LTE 4G vs. WiFi

I took my iPad around to a half dozen different places that had public WiFi and had no connectivity problems. Also, the new iPad seems to have a pretty good range, as good or better than the iPad 1. No complaints in that regard.

I bought WiFi because I didn't have any faith there will be decent 4G in my area in the near future, and I don't travel that much. Virtually everywhere I go has WiFi except my favorite Vietnamese Resteraunt. I'm generally too busy eating anyway.

There aren't a lot of cities with real 4G service. Do your research before buying an 4G version with any expectation you'll get LTE speeds. As I write this, I don't think AT&T is supporting the WiFi Hotspot functionality, and if that's part of the reason for your purchase, make sure you get the Verizon equipped device instead. AT&T only made their press release a week ago, and things might change in that regard. They always do.


If you're perfectly happy with your iPad 1 or 2, and use it primarily to consume content, I think you could easily wait another year to upgrade without missing out on much. It'll take the developer community some time to get their applications up to speed with the new retina display, and the next iPad will come into the field already good to go in that regard.

For those of us who use the iPad as part of their professional workflow and log more than 500+ hours a year on the device, the new iPad is a good buy for the perfomance increase and the display upgrade. For reference, I upgraded from an iPad 1, buying a new Wifi-only, 64GB iPad in Black.

Monday, March 12, 2012

My Political Stance, Illustrated

I didn't go anywhere, they did. I drew this mostly out of frustration, but also to put my feelings into some sort of context.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

February, 2012

I'm putting this up for my own benefit, so feel free to skip reading this unless the minutia of my work is interesting to you. Okay, doing the math at 1:00 AM...

By the end of February I had...

... knocked out 26.5 solid days of work on my novels and 132,404 words of my 1,000,000 word goal.

To give myself some perspective, I did have a lot of stuff going on in my personal life in February. Also, I needed some time to reread my old outlines, notes, and drafts for the first books to give myself fuel and consistency in the story. Fifteen really good work days is a healthy step up from January, but still not where I need to be to reach my goal.

Looking ahead...


I thought my traveling in March would only cost me two days, but it turns out it'll be three. That gives me 19 solid work days which could add 95,000 words to my total word count. This assumes I rest on weekends and don't push too hard.

This will land me in the 225,000 word range by the end of March, 25,000 words shy of where I need to be, or five days worth of work.


There are 21 perfectly good work days in April. If I continue to increase and maintain my output, I could add 105,000 words to my total. If everything went well in March, and again in April, I could be sitting at 335,000 words, right on schedule.

If I get caught up in April, and I continue to create 100,000+ words a month thereafter, I could reach a million words by mid-November and have the holidays off to edit and prepare for publishing next year. Depending on which books I write first, I could conceivably prep to publish 2-3 books this year.

I'm going to stick to writing whatever I'm inspired to work on to keep output high. If it works out that the right books get written in the right order, so be it. I'm not going to sweat it either way.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Being Masterful At Something

In order to be masterful at something, you must spend a certain amount of time doing it. My brother and I have discussed it more than a couple of times. Apparently there are experts somewhere that say it takes 10,000 hours doing a particular thing to reach that level where you are a master of something.

I've pondered it a lot lately. Just going over the numbers in my head.

I figure I'll spend at least 200 days just writing this year to meet my goal. I calculate that's something like 1600 hours spent just making text. I'm probably being brutal to not consider the writing I've done since the summer following the 3rd grade when I really started to write. I fell in love with the craft within the confines of a program at the University of Idaho, back when people thought I might be gifted in some way.

I filled up an unknowable number of composition books with my (at the time) indecipherable handwriting in middle and high school. As far as I'm concerned, none of it counts because I don't know where any of it is. Those composition books are probably lost somewhere in my parent's house, or more likely, a landfill.

I can build my vocabulary, read the works of others, attend writing workshops, and similar but none of that logs time making text. None of it contributes to that mastery I so desperately crave. It makes me glad I logged my time spent writing since September 2009 and that I've kept everything I ever wrote during that time period.

Technology has really helped give me perspective. Apple's Lion operating system keeps track of every version of the documents I create and the times and dates when I did. I never regret the money I've spent on tools. Well, mostly never.

I've got roughly 29 months doing this now and probably 3700 hours spent making text in that time. That 10,000 hours seems infuriatingly far away as I creep along toward it. It's beyond maddening to think my best work won't see itself fixed in an electronic format for years. Everything I'm doing right now is, hopefully, just somewhat commercially viable practice.

Taking something seriously like this makes you think about every day you spend resting, relaxing or maintaing relationships with people. It's hard because those are hours toward the 10,000 you can't ever get back in this life. However, you can't only be the thing that you do. I've seen a lot of people I know learn that the hard way after their lives became violently lonely or they departed the good things about themselves to be what they do.

I've had my doubts about continuing to blog beyond just being a place to record the monthly numbers to provide statistical perspective. I think everyone needs a little more than that. It's foolish vanity to assume I'm any different.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Washington Post Social Reader = Evil

For those of you who still insist on using the Washington Post Social Reader on Facebook as a means to consume news - I present the following for you to consider. Yes, things like this can end up in the newsfeed of your friends, family and coworkers who currently have you subscribed.

Friends don't let friends use the WPSR!

I submit that linking the article in your status update is dumb and messy because Facebook made it that way, but at least you are in control of what people subscribed to your feed see!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January 2012: Progress Report

I'm putting this up for my own benefit, so feel free to skip reading this unless the minutia of my work is interesting to you.

By the end of January I had...

... knocked out only 9 solid days of work on my novels and 45,000 words of my 1,000,000 word goal.

To give myself some perspective, I was unable to start my writing schedule until January 9th and I battled with my Credit Union and several other people I make payments every month to get my cost of living down. The time was well spent, the household will be much cheaper, about 30% less per month, to maintain financially hereafter. I was also still contributing to Master & Student, which as I write this, should go to certification pretty soon.

This is about 40,000 words less or 8 work days shy of the minimum I needed for this month.

Looking ahead...


There are 21 good workdays in February that will garner me 105,000 words if I stay consistent landing me at the 150,000 word mark. That's 17,000 words shy of where I need to be. There are only two saturdays in February where I could possibly get some extra writing in bringing me to 160,000 if I really push.


I have to travel in March for a few days, costing me two work days depending on whether I can get any work done on the road. I usually can, but I'm not going to count it until that actually happens. That leaves me with 20 good work days that I can use to add 100,000 words to my word count and two saturdays I could possibly squeak out another 10,000 words if I want to push.

If everything goes well, and I push I could be at the 270,000 word mark by the end of March being 20,000 words, or four work days ahead of the curve. That assumes I work 4 precious Saturdays to that end.


It's going to take two full months to recover from a shaky start. There have already been a couple of days where I was able to hit 5800 words, slightly more than I usually write but it generally cuts into the time I spend doing research and outlining. Trying to push beyond 5k words a day is probably not worth it for that reason, I really need that time to prep and edit. I just need to be patient, slow and steady to the finish line.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Writing Advice - Have a routine

Get up in the morning.

Work out, walk or do something physical. Even if it's just cleaning the bathroom or taking out the trash, so it's not hanging over you for later.

Eat Breakfast.

Shower. You do this after breakfast in case you got any on you.

Get dressed. Put on your shoes, one right after the other.

Go to your desk and sit down, or stand. I have a standing desk.

Put your hands on the keyboard, one after the other, or both at the same time. It doesn't matter.

Move your fingers on the keys and make words appear on the screen or paper. Do this for 4-5 hours.

Do not reread and attempt to edit while you write. You'll be doing that later anyway. Would you call a "redo" in the middle of a beautiful lay up, or as you were tossing the last M&M toward your mouth? No, and writing is no different.

While you're writing, pay no attention to your word count, misspellings, poor grammar choices, and similar. Gird yourself in the full armor of apathy about the process and just tell a story.

At the end of the 4-5 hours, move away from your desk and do something else. Go outside, pet a guinea pig, or organize your socks.

Later, reread what you wrote, probably over dinner while trying to avoid sauce getting on your copy.

Play video games, watch TV, read a book (important) and get to sleep at a decent hour so you can rise the following day and do it all over again.

Write every single day. The rest will hopefully figure itself out. Even while I was in Alaska, I tried to follow this routine as much as I could, in the morning, on the plane, whenever I wasn't taking pictures and feeling like a time-traveling viking.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Even if you've done it many times before, writing something that is 80,000 words or longer is a daunting task. Nothing grants us stamina to that end like having a good group of people in proximity that work at something as hard as you do. Returning to my writing schedule has been really hard because of all the post-holiday distractions, but my friends and family have helped by shouldering some of the burden.

I'm really bad at letting people know when they've done something that helped me. There are the people in my life that politely can't understand why I haven't put my work on the market yet. They help me realize that what I do isn't easy, or easy to understand. Then there are all the people who get it, affirming that the time it takes to write a half dozen really good books isn't a task completed in less than two years. Thanks guys.

Oh, that stack of video games and books people gave me for Christmas I've spend the last two weeks ignoring gives me incentive to reach my daily goals relative to my word count and editing. I will eventually use those as rewards for meeting my goals. Thank you!

Meeting someone for coffee puts my time and my relationships into perspective. Actually wanting to see what people are up to on Facebook and Twitter gives me hope that I've got interesting people in my life that fuel my creativity. Otherwise, those sites would be only the sometimes-used self-marketing tool.

My 27 inch display is rocking several projects, two at a time, across multiple desktops. I think my greatest fear is that I'll die before I get a chance to write down everything that is in my head. Part of me doesn't care if anyone even reads it in my lifetime... only that what I thought was given life in the form of words on a page.

Chances are, my fears will be realized. Something will kill me before my fingers take the last keystroke. I'm hoping for old age and an overactive imagination that couldn't be expressed in the span of one lifetime. Such supreme and foolish vanity.

What gives me a sense of myself is that none of what I'm doing will probably amount to much. I'll write my 20 novels, my wife will get around to helping me edit them, I'll self-publish on Amazon and make enough to cover groceries. I'm too much of a misanthrope for college, a regular job, or even dealing drugs to get by.

People will judge me by the car I drive and the perception of what they think my bank account looks like. Should I (foolishly) decide to send my work into a traditional publisher, I will be rejected, and worse, ignored. I will always struggle with depression, and anger, and a hatred of things I cannot understand. I will never be a "success" by the measure contrived by most people.

I am at peace with that.

Writing on this blog has become painful though, as it doesn't seem to serve any real purpose except to give people insight into what I do. I doubt very much the people that understand why I chose this road would find anything of interest here. They already know what the score is.

Some things simply are.

Why would a guy who can't stand to read 99% of what is considered modern fiction want to write it?

Just, because.

Not everything we are called to do is simply in the service of our passions. There's the Gods we believe to exist, the notions instilled within us by our parents, and the culture of our communities to consider. Our own Agency notwithstanding, it appears to be completely random, until you begin to scratch the surface just a little bit more.

From one of the books I'm writing:

"Doing the right thing isn't about garnering a reward. Making right where all else has gone terribly wrong is thankless, difficult, and runs the risk of being futile."

"That’s no real answer. "

"You would still be out there if I hadn't. You would have continued to suffer in the coils of the Tenebrion and from the pain of your wounds, which thanks to the magic woven by your sisters, haven’t killed you yet."

"Numenarch, I would have done you the same harm when we first met, you owed me nothing."

"Lady Diligence, you are the only one keeping score."

Maybe I read too much Giacomo Leopardi and not enough Marcus Aurelius these days, but I had something of an epiphany after I wrote that. I joke about my "Armor of Apathy" and Royce's "Shield of Someone Else's Problem" (+1) with regard to the obstacles that often appear in my life. Most of what I seem to be angry about are the things where I am the most powerless to act. Where I have the most power to change something, and I do nothing, I seem to be emotionless.

I'm doing something awesome, or terribly wrong. Speaking of terribly wrong, my wife has gone crazy and wants me to cook Spam, gotta go.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Resume Interruption

My return to my old writing schedule has been difficult. I'm impatient, I hate everything I write, and fret about a lot of things that matter. Yeah, I think I said that right, and it's okay.

I spent the last year worrying about my workspace, the tools I use, application I employ and a lot of other window dressing relative to what I do. It's kind of nice to have everything in that realm sort of figured out. Having a routine relative to my workspace is also nice, because even when I have a bad day, it's still better than my worst in 2009 or 2010.

When I need to stand, I do. When I need to sit, I can. When it's time to do a set of fifty push ups, I've got just enough space.

The primary casualty is what I call "my interruptions". I've a stack of books I'd like to read, brand new video games still in the cellophane, and miniatures I'd like to sit in the garage and paint. My blog seems a little neglected as well.

If it's a table top RPG or something involving other people, it's enough incentive to pull me from my work. Everything else seems to be gathering dust right now. I'm okay with that, but my good friend Dave got me a killer driving game for the xBox and I love (love) driving games. Folks that would also fall into the "good friend" category got me some books to read.

I need to blog about my trip to Alaska and post some pics of that journey. I've got some good stories to tell about that trip. It's on the list along with everything else I plan on doing when I'm not working toward my writing goals. Hopefully, I'll get to resume my interruptions after reaching some creative plateau or milestone.

And, I'm rambling on my blog at 3 AM because I can't sleep and my fingers want to move across a keyboard and my brain is too tired for anything productive. Closing the lid on my laptop... now.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Schedule

I decided sometime while I was busy being sick before the New Year that I wanted to keep a stricter writing schedule and craft as many new drafts as I could, making that job one. I'll do my editing and outlining in my "free time" and really just focus on getting the words on the paper. I'd like to have at least one line of books I'd planned for put completely to at least first draft by September and ready for edit.

I had made the Windows Phone 7 application I'm working on with a friend job one for a couple months last year. We're pretty close to being finished and able to move on to other things. Not sure what Dave and I are going to do in the aftermath. It's my intent to manage my time better regardless and make sure that the game remains a true side project and that I focus most of my energies on writing.

We'll see how that goes. I've grown to really like creating text and images for that medium and I'd like to design more user interface for the purpose.

I think the biggest mountain to climb this year will be crafting my own personal website. The one I have now sucks and is in desperate need of some serious love. Web design has been one of those skills I've had to reach out to while being pretty distant from my passions. I find the whole process tedious but being a better artist now, it should be fun to pull together the visual elements for my site.

I've pretty much put Storytelling Sciences on the shelf for now, and it gets my occasional attention but I'm kind of at a loss for how to proceed. Part of me thinks I need a partner to work with on that front, someone that shares my passions for games, but I think my pride is probably getting in the way of seeking out that person. All in good time I suppose.