Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Every year, Apple pisses me off a little more.

//rant on//
A few revisions ago, Apple nerfed the Disk Utility. It was a perfectly good, powerful utility that let you repair permissions (which, contrary to what they swore, they never got quite right), format drives in at least a few industry standards, and so on.

No longer.

Today, I discover that the tool is wholly incapable of putting a FAT32 format on an SD card. Seriously.

Apparently it's a bug, but we're not talking an official beta version of the OS here, nor are we talking public alpha testing (aka first released version - like 10.12.0) we're talking a mature, stable version of MacOS X.

Every year they piss me off a little more. I've looked at the iPhone X. No home button? Nope. Facial recognition? Fuck no. I wear a hat now and again. Sometimes with a hood if it's cold. Sometimes I need to shave. Sometimes I don't. (I predict the iPhone X will be Apples Galaxy Note 7 minus the explosions and fire.)

It's not just the phone, though. They keep pouring useless crap like Siri into the desktop OS, rearranging things for no good reason, and violating the fundamentals of UN*X operating systems: root access can do anything. I'm tired of jumping through added security hoops that don't do anything but get in my way (gatekeeper, looking at you here.) I'm tired of a computer that can't ever seem to share monitors correctly. The list goes on and on.

It's like they've forgotten how to be a computer company.  One day, my biggest reasons to use a mac (supporting family members with macs and writing for commercial presses that think Microsoft Word is //good//) will end, and if this mac is still around, it'll become a respectable Linux box like all the rest of my computers except my phone and my iPad. If there were a viable option for those, I'd consider it when my phone comes up for replacement. (No, Android is not viable. It's much, much worse. I've tried it. Apple is at least picky who it lets shaft you. Android pimps you to everyone who walks by.)

I don't know what the solution is, but I'm slowly losing patience with Apple. Tim Cook needs to go. His minion Johnny Ive, who is very talented but needs a firm hand to rope him in to practicality, also needs to either go or get that firm hand. (Upside the head a few times, while tempting, is probably excessive.)

Can't stand Windows for long term use (though 10 isn't //bad//.) Slowly but surely reaching the same point with OS X. Don't really want to go Linux completely – I did the alternative platform thing with BeOS. I //like// being able to buy commercial software. I don't know what the answer is, really. But something's gotta change.
//rant off//

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Scrivener Important Safety TIp

If you are running Scrivener in Wine under Linux, make sure to upgrade to wine 2.0 at least.  Yes, this means ripping out the old version Ubuntu gives you and going to winehq and installing their version. Yes, this means you'll have to create some menu items by hand.

Scrivener appears to run in Wine 1.6, but it's got some severe bugs. Most important is a data-loss bug when syncing a project you created in IOS wine to the desktop over Dropbox. In Wine 1.6, Scrivener will report a conflicted version. If you tell it to correct the conflicted version, it will remove the conflicted file, then crash without writing the repaired version. How, exactly, this became a "total loss of document" I don't know. Probably user error.  But still.  Under wine 2.0, Scrivener behaves properly and can sync new documents from IOS over dropbox without drama.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Writing and Politics

For some time, I've been aware of the whole SJW vs Sad Puppies debate. Here's how the whole business seems to me.

First: it's artificial. If I understand the story right, the whole argument was started in the first place by one particular author to get his books on the Hugo ballot. Apparently it worked. I think that's disgusting.

Second: as with all artificial political polarization, neither side has a monopoly on trolls, bad behavior, or dumb ideas.

My take: As was said in War Games, the only way to win is not to play.

So I will go on as I have been going. I will include non-white characters in my stories because they fit in my stories, because their presence in the story implies background that might not otherwise be there, or because the character grabbed me by the throat and insisted. They do that sometimes. My characters may or may not be cisgendered for those same reasons. I will refrain from writing some demographics in worlds too close to the real because I do not feel I understand their cultural experience well enough to get it right. Disabilities are somewhat easier for me to imagine, so I will do my research and use as needed, or as the character demands.  I will write male or female characters, including as narrating characters, as I or they see fit. 

If you identify as a Sad Puppy or an SJW, and my work offends you?  Easy. Don't read it. It's ok to put it down.* There's more science fiction out there than could be read in one lifetime. No-one covers what you think is burningly important? Well, paper's cheap. Write your own. Set the world on fire, if you can, and I will cheer you on because you made it, even if your work's not my thing. I won't tell you what you should read or write. I ask only that same courtesy.


*Harlan Ellison has written stories where I hated everyone in the story, hated the narrative voice, and hated what was obviously about to happen. I still couldn't put the damn thing down, or forget it once I got to the end. I hope to have chops like that some day.

Friday, March 17, 2017

EBooks on Sale!

Beginning March 19th, I'm having a sale. From the 19th to the 23d, Looking Glass and Irreconcilable Differences will be free. Brass and Steel: Inferno will be available on a sliding discount: two bucks off the regular $2.99 price, then one buck off after a few days. Please do tell your friends. I'm trying the waters of Amazon's promotional mechanisms, and I'd like to get a sample of what they can do for me.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Farewell to Shipman

Farewell to John W. Shipman, software artist, musician, alpha nerd, friend, and communicator. He passed away on the 31st of January 2017 after a brief illness.

Shipman is the guy who turned me on to LaTeX, the free, open source programmatic typesetting system I use to set my dead-tree books, among many other things.

He could talk about food, 1960s concerts and trekking across New Mexico in a Volkswagen to see them, and tell stories about all of the interesting, quirky people he'd known through his life. Many of whom we had the pleasure of meeting while visiting him in hospice or at his memorial service. He had dozens, if not hundreds of friends there.

May he who watched birds now soar with them.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Scrivener on Linux, Revisited

So I finally got Windows Scrivener to work on Linux in Wine.
The trick seems to be you must configure Wine to use windows later than windows xp. I have mine pretending it's Windows 10. You may also need the latest version of Wine - wine-staging - but I'm not clear if that's actually required or not. I have it, because I tried it first.

Now I just have to get a Wine for Windows license. I wonder if they'll sell me an upgrade to the dual platform license?

[edit] They did. Also, the Ubuntu standard installation of Wine works fine. Make sure you're using at least wine2.0. Sure would be nice if Ubuntu would get with the program and keep Wine up to date. Just set it to run as Windows 8. Also, I now use this script  to enable font smoothing in Wine, which makes it look less horrid.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Comcast ghost voicemail

I use Comcast for my internet/tv/phone provider. Recently, it started giving me the dialtone pulsing, indicating I had a voicemail. When I checked from the website and the phone itself, there was no voicemail. Doing a little digging, I found that this is a frequent problem for Comcast users.

The solution turns out to be pretty easy. Go to your comcast voicemail screen on the website, here: https://vm.connect.comcast.net/OptimusUIVoice/, and click refresh.  That's all you have to do. Why the boneheads at Comcast couldn't be bothered to post that in their forums, I'll never know.


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