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:, 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.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Manuskript: an open source Scrivener replacement

 I like Scrivener. I use it constantly for writing.  Unfortunately, they dropped support for Linux in 2015, and while the old Linux version still works at the moment, it's only a matter of time until they introduce an upgrade to the main line (OS X, Windows, and IOS) that breaks compatibility with the Linux version.

Scrivener supposedly runs in Wine, but I've not managed to get it to do so thus far.  Plus, wine apps tend to be a bit on the flaky side. If you want to see an enraged author, have an app crash in a way that it didn't manage to preserve a backup first. It's painful.

Right now, and for the forseeable future, my solution to this is to maintain my mac, and instead of my Linux laptop for remote writing, use my iPad. (I have a keyboard for it. I can't imagine writing anything longer than a tweet -- and that only under duress -- with the on-screen keyboard.)

Scrivener isn't perfect. Its document compiler in particular is a turd.  You can make a lot of different formats with it, and most of them are almost right, but the control setup is horrific, poorly documented, and poorly supported. I've yet to make markdown or tex output work remotely correctly.  Also, its editor is a turd. Most editors allow you to create styles that are then remembered throughout the document. Thus, if you change a style, you change every instance of your use of that style. Not so with scrivener. You can create styles, alright, but they're not made part of the document(s) the way they should be. They're done as formatting on the fly. If you want to change something, you have to go back through every document and change it manually.

You can use external editors, but of course you can't have the system default to using one. It's little irritants like this that annoy me with my favorite tool.

The game has now changed.

Given the absence of Linux support, and the fact that Scrivener is in no way open source, the inevitable open source clone has popped up. It's called Manuskript.  I've just messed with it for a few minutes. It's... not horrible.  A little clunky in spots, yes. It's young yet.  I've not yet tried its document compiler, which for me makes or breaks it. I haven't looked to see if it fixes all, or indeed any of my annoyances with Scrivener, and it won't import/export Scrivener files that I've seen, but it exists. And it's free.

I'm not ready to switch... there's no real need. I have my writing needs taken care of with my mac and ipad for the time being. But I will certainly keep an eye on Manuskript. Geez, that and myHDL almost make me want to learn Python.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Plants vs Zombies Heroes

It's a nicely done game, fun play once you get the hang of it (I've never played collector card games before,) but as is typical of Electronic Arts games, you reach a point where it's nearly impossible to win without giving in to the constant touting to buy cards for real money. The boss of the last free mission has cards that are simply unbeatable with the default decks.  When I played RPGs we called that twinking.

So to heck with them, and to heck with the entire PVZ family of games. What was once a fun, standalone game from a good company (PopCap) is now a disgusting money grub. Oh, and Heroes won't respect your IOS device's landscape mode either.  Garbage. Complete garbage.


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