Wednesday, October 20, 2021

SpaceDesk - Multi Monitor 'on the cheap' using SpaceDesk

Multi-monitor setups are fun 😁 

Use an old laptop or tablet an additional monitor? Not a problem, and with SpaceDesk you can mix and match iOS, Android, and Windows devices (!).

And best of it all: it is (still) free.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Alex Archer - Rogue Angel 1 - Destiny

Review.

Let's start with a spoiler. Anjaa is an historian / archaeologist, orphan, and wielder of Joan d'Arc's sword. So, that out of the way, this is a cheap, one shot, multi-author series which is, frankly, a guilty pleasure as it is entirely brainless. And sometimes that is exactly what the doctor prescribes!

Verdict: if you're looking for a break from all that 'literary' stuff this has you covered.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

An introduction to WallX - by video

To show what this little tool does I decided to create a little video. Which was a little more complicated than expected, and I got distracted along the way 😁

So I learned OBS (to grab the screen), Magic Window (tracking the mouse pointer in OBS), looked at Stream Decks but opted for Touch Portal, added some features to WallX to simplify the handling and creation of icons, then had to learn how to edit videos in HitFilm Express.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Skyline / Beyond Skyline / Skylines

Review.

Three 'direct to TV' movies. What can I say... Frank Grillo does his thing, and the monsters are nice. Everything else is meh. Think of it as a B- version of Independence Day, spliced together with a low budget fan-made scifi flick and you know what you're dealing with.

Verdict? Skip it.


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Quickly converting icons for Touch Portal

I like Touch Portal but found the conversion of .ico to something Touch Portal can understand a pain, so I modified WallX a bit to make the process easier.

WallX v2.42 versus Touch Portal v2.3... A case of AND or OR?


Well, nothing's ever completely done but WallX now runs smoothly and hasn't crashed on me yet. I've worked on importing files / exporting graphics, faster response to user action, and added some fail safe handling when writing files. Either Windows or some virus scanner was blocking my write access now and again. Also removed a bunch of smaller and larger bugs.

But... what has that to do with Touch Portal?

Friday, October 8, 2021

Enforce single instance of OBS

OBS is a nice tool, but it's more focused on streamers (seriously? 😁) than other types of users. I like OBS. I use it to record some presentations, make instruction videos with one or more screens, etc.

Combine OBS with a stream deck (an old tablet with Touch Portal will do) and it's gadget nirvana. Unfortunately OBS wasn't designed for non-streamers, and there isn't a way to force a single instance. Time for some tricks...

Monday, October 4, 2021

Contour Jog Shuttle Pro / Pro v2 / Express and OBS Studio

Of course you can buy a Stream Deck. They're actually quite nice and are great to use. Or you could use some software package and turn your tablet or phone into a stream deck.  But what if your desk is already full, or you're out of cash? The Shuttle it is then.

And what if OBS Studio doesn't recognize the Jog Shuttle's input?

Bella Forrest - The Girl Who Dared to Think / ...

Review.

Just like Christopher Nuttall you could accuse Bella Forrest of plagiarism. I think that's not entirely fair, because she wrote some interesting stuff, but it's she's strongly... inspired.

Then again, it is impossible to write something entirely original, so let's just shrug.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

WallX v2.22 'Newfangled'

Another day, another update.

But I think it's a good one... No, a great one 😁

WallX is no longer merely a wallpaper manager, it's now also a mini launcher. Why? Well, 'because'... Seriously though, the new version included a systray icon, and I thought it a handy place to store my own custom shortcuts. Which, actually, works. More information or  download it here.


Friday, October 1, 2021

Wallpaper - Guildwars 1

Guild Wars 2 may have better graphics, better monsters, better frenemies, more content, easier skillsets (not sure if that's an improvement, but okay) but Guild Wars 1 had attitude

(Click the image to enlarge.)

If you never played an MMO, then download the (free!) Guild Wars 2, and enjoy!


Monday, September 27, 2021

Pacific Rim - The Black

Review.

Remember both Pacific Rim movies? Well, here's an anime series set in the same universe, which isn't that bad. The animation is okay, the monsters are fine... though not exceptional. The story is okay, mostly.

If there's anything bad about this one, it's the ease with which the main characters accept they are responsible for murdering a village full of friends and family, that just doesn't sit well with me. Otherwise, it's fine... but only if the story ever finishes in some sequel!


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

GoogleMaps Timeline loses data - Fixed!

This isn't entirely confirmed yet... I'm still testing this, but thus far it seems to work.

If you lose your Google Timeline data for no appearent reason, and you have more than one device, then try the following:

WaitWindow - checking for open and closed windows from a batchfile

This is a little commandline tool I wrote to help me check for windows which are open or closed from a batchfile. It can also launch other programs if a specific condition is met.

As usual, I couldn't find what I needed, so I wrote it myself...

You can download it here

Monday, September 20, 2021

GoogleDocs getting slow (lagging when typing and searching)? Blame Grammarly!

I noticed that, sometimes, GoogleDocs suddenly slowed down. It looks like the culprit is Grammarly. The fix is easy, though a little illogical.

Read on if you installed Grammarly...

Corey J White - Voidwitch series - Killing Gravity / ...

Review.

A little trilogy about a paranormally gifted (created?) telekinetic in a far away future. At roughly 220 pages per book these are not very large, but they are easy and entertaining reads.

Verdict: enjoy 'm!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Adam Wright - Harbinger PI - Lost Soul

Review.

Another supernatural PI series. How many are there by now? Never enough 😁

Harbinger PI and The Dresden Files have a lot in common though, so much that I sometimes wondered in which universe I was wandering around. Nevertheless, both are quite readable, and original enough to be called original... Euh... Sort of.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Broken links!

Due to a variety of reasons (most of those boiling down to me being stupid) I had (and still have!) to re-create a number of posts. I'm updating bit by bit all the broken links, but that's taking some intensive manual labor, so several links might still be broken for the upcoming weeks 😕

My apologies.

(I'll keep moving this post around until most of the links have been repaired. Getting closer...)

Jiu Jitsu / Earth Fall (2020)

I'm trying my utter best to like this movie, but that's because I like Nicolas Cage. In this B - direct for TV - movie he plays an utter lunatic, and that's a role that, frankly, suits him well. Will we ever see him again in a larger, better scripted movie? Perhaps some day...

Sunday, September 5, 2021

WallX v1.93 - multi-monitor wallpaper changer

WallX has seen another update. Changes: some internal fixes for better image series handling, better wallx.lst support, Windows 10 support, better support for weird combinations.

Who needs this?

Do you use wallpapers? Then you need this 😏

Multi-monitor setup - combining different screen sizes

I've been a big fan of multiple monitor setups, ever since NVidia put two or more video outputs on their cards. In fact, I did have a multi monitor setup before that using two video cards (which wasn't great, to be honest).

This post shows different sizes and combinations, to make it easier to find your path to multi-monitor minerva 😄

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Wallpaper - Welcome to the Neighbourhood

There's nothing like a decent bawl, by the un-imitable Meat Loaf. 

Perhaps his voice falters in his later works, but man, did Jim Steinman come up with some good songs, and did Meat Loaf pour his heart into them like nobody else could.

But... this is about wallpapers 😁 Now and again I like a shot of 'detective noir' and the cover of one of Meat Loaf's albums fits that mood nicely. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Alien Warfare (2019)

 Review.

Should I spend even time on describing this? I actually like the cast, but the aliens are plastic / rubber-suits, and the movie brings absolutely nothing new.

Synopsis: team of four is send into a base where everybody has been blown to dust by an alien weapon (that turns out not to be a weapon). Sigh. Why is anyone spending money on making this, or wasting time watching 'm?

Skip it.


Monday, August 23, 2021

Keith Laumer - Worlds of the Imperium

Review.

I got this one bundled together with Marion Zimmer Bradley's Seven from the Stars in an Ace double. I did read this one before (in Dutch), but didn't realize that at first. Either version might have been a rewrite, or my memory simply failed me.

Not that it mattered much, as I like to re-read enjoyable books.

It's the first of Keith Laumer's alternate reality stories, featuring 'Blitho P3' , ehm, sorry, 'Blight Insular III'. (I wonder if Ron Hubbard used that name on purpose.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Monday, August 16, 2021

Moon (2009)

Review.

This is one of those movies that I know I should enjoy, and still I found myself fast forwarding the latter half. That's... sad.

If you enjoy good Scifi movies, then give this one a chance. I fear than my, ah, 'lust for sensation' wasn't satisfied by this one, but I think that's entirely to blame on me...

Monday, August 9, 2021

James Gunn - This Fortress World (1955)

Review.

Starts like a pulp action story. Stays that way most of the time. Ends a bit too easily. In general I would call it 'Keith Laumer' style.

Short plot summary: the almighty church controls the world(s), using forgotten technology from eras past. A young monk gets tempted by an offering, and ends up running away / fighting the church.

It's all a bit 'coincidental' but that's the kind of story it is.

Note: I read this one in Dutch, but I doubt reading this in English would have changed my opinion that much 😎

Monday, August 2, 2021

Review.

know he does it for the money, but Bruce, please... You can do better.

So, what do we have here? A simple Scifi / Horror cross-over, heavily inspired by Aliens, with a little infusion of Event Horizon.

I'm not impressed. Go see both Aliens and Event Horizon, that's a way better way to spend your precious time. Note: this movie is also known as Anti-Life.


Sunday, August 1, 2021

Wallpaper - Censorship

 

I have nothing to add...

(Click on the image to enlarge.)


Monday, July 26, 2021

Marion Zimmer Bradley - Seven from the Stars (1961)

Review.

More old stuff dating back to the golden era, this is the second part of an Ace 'Double', a pocket containing two novels in one book.

The aliens, so different from humanity at the beginning of the book, blend in a little too easy. The whatever-the-name-enemy from another dimension is not convincing. And the story didn't age very well.

Monday, July 19, 2021

A C Hadfield - Carson Mach

 Review.

I love my cheap, macho military / action / adventure SF. And because dumb books are easy to digest whilst doing something else I'm more than happy to look the other way.

But... there are limits. Especially when the same mistakes are made over and over again.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Sebastien de Castell - Traitor's Blade / Knight's Shadow

Review.

Let's start with the verdict... Though it's a four book series, the first two are a very decent two-book set. And a very good read! Swashbuckling, light on magic, great on adventure. I'm a sucker for good swashbuckling, so yeah, I love it...

Monday, July 5, 2021

Lindsay Buroker - Dragon Blood Omnibus

Review.

There's a whole subset of romance novels in fantasy settings, which all seem to follow a certain pattern. This is one of those.

Sometimes they stand out (Rachel Aaron's DFZ series, for example) and sometimes they are 'pulpish' (like this one). Great if it's your thing, but Lindsay Buroker can do better, as she proved with her Dark Currents series.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Wallpaper - Roadkill Bar & Grill

I edited one of the images I found on https://www.collectedcurios.com/ and modified it a bit to make it a better wallpaper.

Lunch, anyone?

More wallpapers (every month a new one), click and scroll down.

(Click on the images themselves to enlarge.)


Monday, June 28, 2021

Helen Harper - Slouch With / Star Witch / Spirit Witch

Review.

If you like romance and fantasy, Helen Harper must be somewhere on your bookshelf. Nevertheless, she does write light, bubbly, funny tales, and this is one of those.

Contemporary witch who is way more powerful than she lets on, is lazy as hell, has a love / hate relation with a good looking male 'official', and a very rude cat (seriously).

Monday, June 21, 2021

Tim C. Taylor - Marine Cadet / Indigo Squad / Renegade Legion

Review.

An interesting premise (five million kids were sold into slavery to protect earth) takes an interesting route (let's gene engineer our cannon fodder and make them think they matter) then ends up as yet another 'soldier becomes sergeant becomes general'.

The story wanders around a bit, rambles and wanders now and again, and I still haven't figured out if the main character is a little naive... or if it's the writer.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Nathan Hystad - Confrontation

 Review.

Military SF is a guilty pleasure of mine. Let's read another two.

Today, that's Confrontation by Nathan Hystad. Oh dear... (read on)

Monday, June 7, 2021

Hyperpolice (1997)

Review.

Yeah, I know. Lot's of old anime lately.

Hyperpolice. Starts of as a comedy, but does introduce some more moral points of discussion during the series. Only 25 episodes, and not very well known... in the west.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Wallpaper - Destination (Calvin & Hobbes)

 

It's summer, and life and work are changing yet again. The future is... unclear.

It's a good thing I'm not the only one who doesn't know where he'll end up.

The truth is, most of us only discover where we are heading when we arrive...

Monday, May 31, 2021

Jack McDevitt - The engines of God (1994) / Deepsix

Review.

Strange... I'm pretty sure I've read some of his work, but I cannot recall a single title. Oh well... I had totally different expectations of these two books. I was expecting large, grand space opera, and though it features explorers, fighting for their lives, spaceships, aliens and what not... 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Sanctuary (2008)

Review.

Amanda Tapping takes care of abnormals. Innocent young man ends up protecting supernatural beings. Some evil machinations try to take the sanctuary for aforementioned supernatural beings down. Troubles ensue. I think that's pretty much it 😁

Monday, May 17, 2021

Chapter Size and Reading Speed

Writing.

(This is a follow up to Book And Chapter Sizes)

Do you need chapters, and is chapter size related to reading speed? I think it is! Read on...

Babylon 5 (1993)

Review.

I never saw all episodes of B5 thus far, so I'm watching them now. (But I realise that I saw quite a few, to be honest.) I watched this late at night, on a Hong Kong television channel whilst I was working in China, back in... 1994? Time flies...

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Retro-Plotter part 2 - No job is done until the paperwork is finished

Writing.

Why and how I keep track of events in my own stories... no matter how bad they are 😁

This is a sequel to The Retro Plotter part 1, and before I dive in, keep in mind that everyone has their own system. This is just an example of how I do things. Your approach might be far superior to mine!

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Retro-Plotter part 1 - Notes and pseudo-script

Writing.

Plotters plot, pantsers invent on the spot. I'm a bit in between.

Yes, I plot a bit, but I also make up things as I go. So how can I keep track of things?

Monday, May 10, 2021

VirtualBox 6.1 blocks outgoing WOL packets

Symptom 1: WOL tools no longer work after installing VirtualBox.

Symptom 2: SqueezePlay no longer works but SqueezeLiteX does.

Symptom 3: Connect App no longer works

Configuration: PC1 running WIN10 + WOL tool + VirtualBox --> PC2 running WIN10

(For clarification: the WOL tool is NOT running INSIDE VirtualBox.)

Continuum (2012)

Review.

Continuum wrapped up. It could have used a few more episodes, but this was all they got.


So, what do we have here? Time traveler turns into buddy cop show turns into avoid the next apocalypse. Near the end there's a hint of alternate universes, but that never went anywhere, probably because the show runners were informed it was time to wrap things up.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Corona - T Plus 358 - Side effects


Column.

One of the more curious side effects of this whole Corona mess is a loss of sense of time. We've been locked in our homes, stuck in an endless rut of repeating events, surrounded by the same four walls. For so long now that we're all losing our sense of time, even without catching actual Covid. Nothing seems to change, except for the weather, so perhaps it's only natural to forget about unimportant things like seasons, appointments, and clocks...

The 'why' game

Writing.

Solve prompts for short stories, work out mini-plots for your chapters, avoid (stupid) mistakes, and expand your chapters. All that by simply applying the 'why' game, using just five (5) simple words, that's all it takes...

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Writing to a prompt part 2 - The 'why' game

Writing.

You can turn any 'prompt' into a short story, and it's worth doing so. At least to try to, now and again.

All it needs is proper application of the 'why' game. And then that same ruleset can be used to check what has been written.

Best of all, it  works for everything, longs as well as short stories. Read on...