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I have my own little boys!

I have my very own little boys to play with. They have been living with us for a little more than a month with their mommy and daddy, my cousins Ben and Marie. When they came to stay with us is when life started to get better for me.

The littlest one is still a people puppy. Mom says they are called babies. Whatever mom. Anyway he is almost 10 months old. He wants to cuddle with my mom all the time. Then there is Chris and Norlin. They are 4 and 3 years old. They are my bestest friends forever. I don’t want them to leave ever.

Chris and Norlin like to do special things for me. They play with me and give me kisses. They like to sneak food to me when they are eating. They have to be very careful that none of the big people see them because they could get into trouble. But they still take a chance anyway. That is how much they love me. 

We like to go out into the back yard and play. That is the best. We like to run around and play with toys. And we love to dig holes looking for dinosaur bones. Norlin thinks that there is a T-Rex buried in our back yard. I think that he is right cause he and Chris are very smart for their age. Mommy says so. Can you imagine how big the bones will be when we dig them up. My mouth is drooling.

I am the luckiest dog in the world.

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Keeping the facts straight.

Some time back I was reading a story when half way through the story the facts changed. It’s one thing for a viewpoint to change. Two people might not agree on exactly what happened. The narrative should stay consistent.

I remember one story where it took a couple of days to go from point A to point B later it took several weeks. I’ve seen climate changes and even name changes within a story.

It can be hard keeping track of everything. I’ve worried about that myself. I may introduce a Character then we may not see him/her again for several chapters. How will I keep it all straight?

I’ve created my own fantasy world things to not happen here on Earth. I have several ideas I am working on that all take place in the same world. In order to keep track of things I need maps. First a world map. Next drill down to the continents, then to countries cities and in some cases specific buildings. My world started out when I was a Dungeon Master playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. These detailed maps allowed me to keep track of where everyone was, describe the terrain, etc. These same maps allows me to provide detail to my story. If we go into a pub what is the atmosphere, the lay out. Today there is a heath in the middle of the room with a deer roasting over the fire. The bartender cuts a slap off to serve the party members. Weeks later we are in the same city they remember how good the service and food was so return to the same pub only this time a fight breaks out. Does someone get knocked into the heath?

I use excel spread sheets to keep track of things. Each of my characters are entered in with their name maybe a nickname, a description, personality, speech, and so forth. It is important to make your characters as real as possible that includes habits both good and bad. Zentar the oldest son of an Elven Lord feels that because of his birthright he is better than everyone else. He goes on to take advantage of others claiming who and what he wants. When his greatest desire is denied him he goes off in a rage. His brother Candurn being the younger son does not hold himself in such high esteem. Instead He works hard learning to serve his family and his people. When the time comes for their father to select his successor because of his humility it is the younger Candurn whom is selected.

These spread sheets also contain governments, affiliations, guilds, etc. Not everyone who has pledged support of the king is true in their actions. Who can the king really trust? Little facts like these can add a lot to a story. Facts, stories, legions, histories are all things you should record. The king may not trust an adviser because of things that happened in the past. Yet that untrusted adviser may become the king’s best ally.

 

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Protecting your digital Data

This last week Tom, my oldest friend and co-conspirator in All Things DOS, suffered a hard drive failure on his main computer. Luckily for him he didn’t lose his data, we were able to swap out his drive and using a USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE adaptor copy his files from his old drive to his new one. All was not lost. However all too often that is not the case. As a computer tech I don’t know how many times I had to tell a customer that his valuable data was lost and there was nothing we could do to save it. Even when we could we charged $70 an hour with a two hour minimum to copy your files. The sad thing is that by taking a few simple steps you can insure that your data is protected.

I’ve talked before about backing up vital records.  After this week’s fun and games I felt it was time to bring it up again. Unlike just a few short years ago, the costs of storage devices have come down to the point that there is no excuse not to have a good backup plan in place. I use several tools to help me insure my data is safe.

I have a free account on DropBox. I have this linked to my iPad, desktop computer, laptop computer, and even my wife’s gamming computer. Every time I update or add a file to my DropBox directory It is updated not only on the cloud but to every device connected to my DropBox account. One update is saved to the cloud and three other devices without me having to do anything. Currently I have four gigabytes of free on-line storage. Not a ton but plenty for my needs. I store my books, photos from my iPad, website files, and other important files in my DropBox directory.

Speaking of website files All Things DOS maintains over 200 gigabytes of files much more than I can store on DropBox. I currently have a one terabyte external storage device I use to keep backups of that and other valuable “large” data collections.

Last week I ordered a 512 gigabyte thumb drive which I will start backing up my files too. This thumb drive will fit in my fire proof box where I keep all my valuable paper documents. I’m not rich I can’t afford an off-site storage facility not even a safety deposit box. Hopefully in the event of a fire or other disaster my box will protect my valuable files.

It is important to remember that for this to be useful it must be current. My most valuable files are constantly updated to my DropBox storage; however each time I add to my other large data collections it is important to update my back up files as well. The plan here is to keep both my external drive and my new thumb drive current incase my computer crashes. My hope is I never need it. My goal is to not tempt fate.

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Microsoft Office vs. OpenOffice

A couple weeks ago I wrote about OpenOffice a free office productivity program from Apache. After testing it out on my new computer I chose to go back to Microsoft Office. It’s not that it was a bad program in fact there were a few things I prefer about it over Microsoft Office. However, I know my way around Microsoft Office And there are a couple things I prefer about it and a few thins it offers that OpenOffice doesn’t offer One key point is Microsoft Word offers a cover page, I can chose from several preformatted cover pages. These pages are great in that they are preformatted with an image, title, and other text which I can easily customize with my own images, etc. They look nice without me having to do a lot of work. I am basically lazy anything that saves me work is a plus. As a Microsoft Partner I do get a discount on my software. Though free is nice I’ve chosen to go back to what I know. One thing I wish Microsoft would change is the way it handles custom dictionaries. With Microsoft I basically have to go in and add words manually to the extra custom dictionaries while with OpenOffice I can right click on the word and select which dictionary I want to add it to. As many of my names are made up i.e. not real names. I use a custom dictionary for each book or series of books. I also have a custom dictionary for my computer stuff there are a lot of computer terms that are not in the Microsoft Dictionary. Surprising what a computer company leaves out. One last point I wish to make is about the Auto Correct function. On my iPad it can be a pain in the rear. In word it can save me a lot of work. The iPad wants to turn “its” into “It’s” all the time. But with Office I can program in special short cuts for instance one of my activities it “All Things DOS” I have customized Auto Correct so that when I type “atdos” it will automatically change it to “All Things DOS” the thing to look out for her is it will always make the change so don’t use something that you might need to use latter.

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Search Engines and the NSA

I’ve been thinking. I know that is a dangerous thing especially for a writer.

With the high profile cases over the last few years where the prosecution has brought in computer forensic to show how the accused use the internet to search for ways to commit the crime and get away with it. Even worse lately with the NSA spying on all of us looking for the use of key words. While Google is turning over our search history and Facebook is giving them access to our posts.

What must the NSA be thinking about some of us writers?

Let’s say I am working on a book where they assassinate a head of state, of course my head of state is fictitious but I want it to be as real as possible. I might do Google searches of assassinations from the past or ways to assassinate a nations leaders. I might look at ways to get out of a city even if it’s been closed off or the protection a leader might have. How about ways to get around the ever present video cameras? We’ve all seen on NCSI how they use cameras to track villains. I might even look at how a head of state might enter the UN in New York. Buildings a sniper could use, even finding out about sniper rifles, etc.

If I wright about a terrorist group setting off a dirty bomb in New York. I might research wind patterns ways to affect the largest number of people. How to conceal the bomb, how to get it into the US even how to build one. They could poison a city’s water supply. What would I use to slowly kill the largest number of people before they figure it out.

All these could trigger the NSA search and before I know it the Feds are breaking down my door to have a little talk with me I’ll never get my first book done because I’ll be rutting away in some cell with no one knowing my whereabouts. For all I know this post might be all it takes to get my locked away for life plus ten years.

It’s not as bad with fantasy, I doubt elves, dwarfs, etc would be much of a trigger though maybe it is some kind of code I don’t know about. Science Fiction could get one in trouble.

Maybe the CIA did have Tom Clancy killed because of his internet search history. They were afraight he might fly a jet into the capital building and kill everyone.

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All-in-a-day’s-work

Not everything I do has to do with my books. My old friend Tom have become involved with Vintage Computing. We started up All Things DOS a vintage computer website. This week I have added some 2,500 Documents to our site. We currently offer more than 10,000 vintage games and applications available free to our site members. For those with slow download speeds We offer a disc burning service for a small fee.

All Things DOS currently has more than a dozen Vintage computers in our collection. The Commodore Vic-20 and C-64, the apple ][e the Macintosh 128 (the first Mac) the Macintosh SEHD, the TRS-80 Model IV and CoCo, the original IBM PC and XT, just to name a few. With 25+ years in the industry I am the technical guy. My job is to fix what I can. I have a pile of computers waiting for my time.

Today I am working on an Epson Equity II+ computer, it’s only problem is it needs a new battery. Latter I will be testing a Compaq Portable 2 which needs a new hard drive. Waiting for me is the Macintosh 128 or M0001, this was the first Macintosh model and the inside of the case is engraved with the signatures of the development team including Steve Jobs. This system is displaying the sad MAC telling me that it has a bad memory chip. I have the replacement, I Just need to get it installed.

After my stroke, my dog Tristan, started a Blog. Being a dog, he needs lots of help. Tristan tells me he needed his own blog to help him recover from the stress of almost losing me and my being gone, hospitalized, for over a month. Tristan’s a good dog but I don’t always agree with his ideas. I am attempting to teach him to watch out for the auto-correct on the iPad. Like me Tristan is a bad speller. We create new ways to spell all the time. What can I expect I am his daddy after all.

All-in-all I tend to keep myself busy which in part is why my writing is taking so long.

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WordPress vs iPad

Well it seems the iPad and WordPress don’t really like each other.  One of the first things I noticed, was while editing a page, if I added a new paragraph and then went back, my iPad would not let me go forward into the new paragraph again, I can only get into the old one.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, I decided to add a new page and add it to my menu.  I did not think about the fact that the iPad being a touchscreen would not allow me to move menu items around by touching and moving. In fact I have not been able to determine how to move a menu item with my iPad.

Overall it was a bad experience attempting to work on WordPress for my iPad. As convenient as the iPad is I decided to do all my WordPress editing, unless it is something quick, from my PC. As much as I don’t like the idea. I’ve decided I need to get another network and use that for all my editing. The iPad seems so promising. I thought it would make my life so much easier. Apparently I was wrong all this have to do it all the old way.

On the other hand I started to use Dragon Naturally Speaking. Though the two of us fight somewhat over the words it is made life much easier. I am not a touch typist. I tend to call myself a biblical typist. by this I mean I use a seek and you shall find method of typing. Sometimes I have to seek a little longer but other times.

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What’s in a name?

I am working on my first book which is in reality a series of books centered around one main Elf and a hand full of other characters. The main character is Ferguson (I know that is not a normal Elven name but that is explained in the story.) I had originally planned to call the series Ferguson and was starting book one centered around him, but as I looked more deeply at things, there was just too much unexplained in his story. So after much thought I decided to take a step back and write a preguel to the series. This book 0 puts everything in place for Ferguson to start his life’s mission.

Ferguson is an Elven Lord a member of the Elven Counsel. Each member of the counsel is also an Elven Lord the books deal with the counsel as well as the relationship between the Elven race and the other races that dwell on Kavilion. Though Ferguson is the central point throughout the overall story, he is not the main character in all of the books, so naming the series Ferguson is in someways misleading. My thoughts are to either name it Kavilion (after the world) or Elven Lords (which may also be misleading as the they play a major part of the story line, they are only a part of it.)

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Just the facts!

I have several book ideas in my mind, and I find myself bounching back and forth between them.  With Furguson, a fantisy novel, I don’t need to worry about the facts as much, but on some of the others I find myself having to do a lot of research to insure that I have the facts.

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I love my iPad.

We’ll it has been a weeknightand the more I use it the more I love my iPad.  There are some things that I still use my pc for but for the most part I am using my iPad most of the time.  Asfor QuickOffice, so far I have been happy with it.  It is limiteto what what it can do.  Yet, it is working well for me so far.  Once I am done with my draft I will need to move it into Word so I can clean it up.  However, I am not happy with the autocorrect.  I may need to turn the thing off.

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