Archive for November, 2005

You May Already Be A Winner

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

Another year, another NaNo, another graphic to prove my insanity:

2005 Winner!

The novel went pretty well, partly because I ignored everything else for most of the month. But looking over it now, I think I see a short story in there waiting to be freed from the mounds of manure with which I padded my word count nightly. I’ll save the plot and one subplot for a novella, and try to get the novel thing right next November…again.

Bookmarks for mp3s

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

My free audiobooks were all mp3s, so they didn’t do the cool audiobook bookmarking thing. But I found the solution at iPod Hacks:

In the info for a track (command-i), under the Options tab, there’s a checkbox for Remember playback position. Check it.

That’s it. I haven’t field-tested it on the iPod yet, but it works in iTunes. I’ll try to report back later today.

Free Stuff Free

Monday, November 28th, 2005

I have a little iPod that needs filling, so I’ve been downloading free filks and free audiobooks. Why pay more?

Save the Rock

Thursday, November 24th, 2005

Mac of the Day: The Little Mac That Could

Here’s a real-life fairy story: Fairies stop developers’ bulldozers in their tracks.

Firestar, City, Ancient Shores

Thursday, November 17th, 2005

Rather than tell you how far I’m behind on NaNoWriMo, I’ll try to catch up a tiny bit on my book reviews.

I picked up Firestar by Michael Flynn because I’d enjoyed The Wreck of The River of Stars so much. I was correspondingly disappointed in this earlier novel.

Our Heroine is a rich woman with a fear of asteroid strikes who decides to start her own space program. The subplots involve a shallow test pilot and his ambitious friends testing her experimental spacecraft, a bunch of schoolkids and their favorite teacher who’ve been bought out by her educational branch, and the general corporate goings-on of her extensive holdings. Although there’s plenty of plot and action, plus some teen angst, I didn’t feel like there was enough conflict or reader cookies to hold my attention. It’s a long novel that sprawls; I had the feeling, from some repetitive backstory references in the second half of the book, that it had been composed as several shorter stories.

City is a classic short-story series by Clifford D. Simak with a bonus short at the end. It reminded me a bit of When Late the Sweet Birds Sang, but it covers a longer time-frame in short out-takes. I thought “Huddling Place” had the most impact of the stories, and the last one the least, but they were all worth reading.

Ancient Shores by Jack McDevitt reminded me, in terms of genre, of Sims by F. Paul Wilson—a novel I picked up for its sci-fi content but enjoyed for the modern-day, non-skiffy characters, plot, and writing. In Ancient Shores, a farmer digs up a yacht on his property in North Dakota; it’s ancient but perfectly preserved and composed of a strange, occasionally glowing, substance. His friend begins to investigate and gets involved with a woman chemist and a Sioux lawyer.

In the end, the main character doesn’t change much and the resolution is a deus ex machina—but an interesting one that makes real-world sense even though as a novel conclusion it was disappointing. The language was straightforward and the glimpses into the world of the title few and far between, but the novel still managed to convey a certain numinous feel. I recommend it, and I’ll be looking for more of his books.

Emacs Again

Sunday, November 13th, 2005

I knew it was a bad idea to upgrade my OS during NaNoWriMo, since every sub-point release tends to do bad things to Emacs. So instead of waiting for December, I waited for the weekend. The Mac is up to 10.4.3 and emacs is now the Nov. 05 Carbon Emacs Package. It’s slow and flaky, but good enough for NaNo use.

[Update] I cleaned most of the crud out of the site-lisp directory inside the package, and that sped emacs up a lot. I kept the mac, psgml and html stuff, plus subdirs.el. The files site-start.el, site-start.elc, and site-start.d/carbon-emacs-builtin-aspell.el are vital; don’t delete them or stuff will break when you least expect it.

The real location of site-lisp is inside the package (control-click and choose Show Package Contents) in Contents/Resources/share/emacs/22.0.50/site-lisp.

[Update #2] Canned Emacs slowed to a crawl, so in the end I gave up, checked the emacs project out from again, and built my own emacs. There was only one problem: no more mac-command-key-is-meta variable. I’ve become so addicted to Emacs with my special mac-ified command key shortcuts that the real Emacs was completely unusable.

Fortunately, a bit of googling showed me the new way to make the command key alt and the alt key meta:

(setq mac-command-modifier 'alt)
(setq mac-option-modifier 'meta)

Other allowed options are ‘ctrl and ‘hyper. I confess, I don’t know what hyper is.

Writing by Mac

Sunday, November 6th, 2005

From the NaNoWriMo forums: Writing aids for Mac OS X. Personally, I don’t use any of them, but I did download SideNote and GraphViz to give them a try. Most of my “notes” are actually links, so sidenote may clean up my desktop a bit.

More Sudoku Madness

Friday, November 4th, 2005

I had no idea there were Sudoku Dashboard Widgets out there. It’s the perfect NaNo break…

Build Your Own Stargate

Thursday, November 3rd, 2005

Build your own Stargate out of Lego! There are more stargates and Jaffa on the same site.

Promising the Moon

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

Optical illusion of the day: Depth Illusion in a Natural Scene

Settling the Moon for your NaNo novel? Check out the state of property rights on the Moon.