Friday, August 28, 2015

Just a quick update.

As part of a current project I'm not at liberty to discuss in such a public forum (when it's released, getting me to shut up about it will be the challenge) I was forced to poke into the guts of the Arduino app, specifically version 1.6.5 and figure out how to add a tool to the tools menu.

Surprise. The existing sample code doesn't work. Not surprising. It hasn't been updated since 2008.

So began my crash course in Java, Processing (the framework in which the Arduino app is actually written), and Arduino itself, which is based on a very old version of the aforementioned Processing.

As a result, I've come up with a basic skeleton for building tools for the Arduino app, along with simple documentation for how to build and install those tools. I've also created my very first git repository. Woohoo! Go me. :) So here it is, ready for the perusal of the entire universe.

 By the way, if my newfound loathing for Java hasn't come through in this post, let me make it clear. Java is an abomination of a language. The only one I've ever found that I liked less was Python. Java, at least, isn't whitespace-sensitive and broken between versions.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Tip: When the bag of frozen soup at the Asian market says "Cornish Game Hen Soup" they do not mean soup with shredded bits of Cornish game hen in it. They mean soup with a whole bird in it, minus head, feet, guts, and feathers.

Ordering a pizza.

Learning Linux System Administration

Ye gods, I've neglected my blog. In my defense, there's a reason. Through a convoluted chain of events, I'm now doing technical writing as well as science fiction, cyberpunk and steampunk. Through another convoluted chain of events, my first technical work available to all y'all is a set of videos called Learning Linux System Administration, and it's available here:

Yes, that's my voice in the videos. Yes, they listed me as Jim Strickland instead of James R. Strickland, for reasons only they know for sure. I'm good with that. I mean, it's O'Reilly Press. Seriously. Seriously stoked here.

So the questions I expect are:
"Are there more technical books in the works?" Yes, there are. Watch this space.

"Are you giving up on fiction?" No. I'm still working on releasing my existing novels, plus Brass and Steel: Inferno through self-publishing. I've seen the kinds of services tech presses give writers in exchange for the rights to books. For what most sci-fi presses give you, I can sell it myself and come out about even. I also have a second Brass and Steel novel in the early stages, and some other ideas bouncing around in my head as well, so in no way am I giving up on fiction.

Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Typesetting and Ebooks

Finished typesetting and ebook-ifying Brass and Steel: Inferno.

The more I deal with typesetting for physical books, and the more trouble I have finding decent ebook readers for that most open of platforms, Linux, the less respect I have for epub and its derivatives. How many readers simply ignore all or most of the work I put into an ebook and do it the way they want? How many of them have broken support? It's infuriating. I can create an attractive book in pdf format. I can create a readable one with nice touches in epub. I guess that will have to do.

Yes, I have become quite the fanboy of XeLaTeX. (except for the stupid capitalization convention of its name.)

PS: Also learning to hate Scrivener. It makes organizing novels so much easier, but is so incredibly bad at producing output suitable for intake by other programs. Also, it barely works in Linux, and not at all on non-x86 linux platforms.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Irreconcilable Differences (and Looking Glass) revisited

As I finish typesetting Irreconcilable Differences and tweaking the typeset of Looking Glass, I'm struck by a couple things that characterize my first two published novels:

First, I was a lot less clear on how hackers make a living than I am now. Sign of the times, certainly. I'm sure they knew, but in the early aughties, most hackers we on the outside encountered were the script kiddie variety. Nowadays, of course, they're professional gangsters or selling to professional gangsters, or various government agencies worldwide. In the development of Irreconcilable Differences, it's obvious I gave it more thought, since I had professional operators, military operators, and gangs on the outside.

The other thing is that it's very obvious I had no idea how hard having someone you know die is. I was awfully cavalier about it then.

When I return to writing cyberpunk (and I will) things will be different.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Nerd moment

I'm shifting my Raspberry Pi to use LVM for everything except the boot partition. I've duped /home and my music partition to LVs on a spare drive, and now I'm pvmoving my LVs back to a partition on the HD the pi usually uses. Listening to Wierd Al's White and Nerdy. No hiccups. Gotta love the Raspberry Pi 2, but the only way to make this moment nerdier is to be playing D&D at the same time. Heh.

(Pi doesn't have an initramfs by default, so it can't boot into LVs.  You can set one up, but they have a reputation for flakiness. IMHO it shouldn't need one given that the kernel and bootloader (such as it is) are on an SD card separate from /root, but I haven't figured out how to connect that all up yet. :)


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Factoid of the day

Most people who were tarred and feathered, unless otherwise abused as well, survived. This seems impossible to us today. Tar, after all, melts above the boiling point of water. You'd be looking at second and third degree burns over most of the body, right?

Well, no.

The tar in question wasn't asphalt. It was pine tar, or pitch. The same stuff baseball players put on their bats (and their hands, if they're sneaky pitchers) which is sticky at blood temperature and molten in sauna temperatures. Further, you weren't dunked in it. Most often it was applied with a mop. Sailors handled molten tar regularly in the process of preserving wooden ships and their rigging, and sticking their hand in the tar bucket wasn't a punishment, it was part of their job.

So it might be more correct to imagine it being like superglue and feathers. Sticky, obnoxious to get off, but usually nonlethal.

(Note: did you know that cyanoacrylate, or superglue, if overheated, releases cyanide gas? Those superglue fingerprint fumers need to have good temperature control. Yes, surgical superglue still has the cyanide. The solvents are different so they're not poisonous or irritating to flesh.)

Now, back to work.


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