Saturday, August 6, 2022

Balabolka settings


Balabolka is a simple TTS (Text To Speech) tool that can help authors with proofreading and editing their work. Word has such a feature build in, but if you use Google Docs or another editor / word processor you might want to use something like Balabolka.

I have set up Balabolka in such a way that it monitors my clipboard. When I do a larger copy / paste it will start reading my text.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Wallpaper - Lost in Translation

This is one of those wallpapers that only means something to me (and a few former employees of a data center company in Amsterdam). We had a couple of LAN parties at the time (this is around the end of the last century 😉 ) and played a lot of Red Alert 2 online. Our clan name was Lost In Translation, or LiT. We never got anywhere 😅 but I still have the logo as a wallpaper.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Alex Sheppard - Dark Universe - The Last Stryker / First Covenant / Final Resistance


Alex Sheppard ( hasn't been very active since 2018, or so it seems after visiting his / her facebook page. Then again, neither am I 😉

However, this post isn't about productivity, but about this book / series. Let's start with the verdict: nah.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Django Wexler - The Forbidden Library - The Forbidden Library / The Mad Apprentice / ...


Django Wexler is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors. After the Wells of Sorcery series (I still have to add the review of book 3) this was yet another interesting series.

The concept is simple and will appeal to all fantasy readers: magic is real, and can be retrieved from books. Wizards are very adapt readers with lots of experience (we call them 'the old readers'). They all have shape shifting libraries, and get their powers from reading books.

Are you hooked yet?

Friday, July 22, 2022

SqueezeBox - Adding radio stations to SqueezeBox LMS

I haven't been able to find a good explanation (and there might be a better way to do it) so here's what I do...

It seems the current radio function is connected to TuneIn, so that's what I'll use. It should be possible to use other services but I'm still struggling there. In the SqueezeBox client you can enter URLs directly.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Connect and configure a Steam Controller


It's not a popular controller, but hey, if you have one, why not (try to) use it?

These steps are based upon the text on the Valve homepage yet slightly adjusted for clarification.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Kodi v19.3 on Android / Windows - Path to media

Want to use your Nvidia Shield or Google Chromecast with Google TV (what a horrible name) to play back files from a home (Windows) server using Kodi?

On Android you cannot browse SMB shared drives, and you have to specify them by hand using their IP address.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Brandon Sanderson - Mistborn 1 - The Final Empire


Brandon Sanderson has become a well-known and popular author, and yet I've read little by his hand. In fact, only Skyward, I believe, and that one was a little underwhelming.

He's better known for the Mistborn series, and yes. The first book The Final Empire is definitely better than Skyward.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Update on Ziggo and Bufferbloat

Ziggo increased their bandwidth again (and their pricing, let's not go there) so I checked my QoS based anti-bufferbloat recipe again. Results: it still works 😊 

Internet en Ziggo - meer betalen voor meer snelheid... welke je niet nodig hebt

Ziggo kondigde een (kleine) snelheidsverhoging aan. En bij Ziggo betekent dat simpelweg dat de prijzen ook verhoogd gaan worden. En uiteraard, daar hoefden we niet lang op te wachten...

Monday, July 11, 2022

Anne Ursu - The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy


Each book that starts with a 'school' or 'academy' threatens to become yet another Harry Potter clone. That indeed was my first worry when I started reading this one.

The second fear I had was the contra-'misogynistic' bend of the story. Don't get me wrong, misogyny has no place in this world, and unfortunately there are still many examples of such behavior in today's society.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Lisa Shearin - Raine Benaris 1 - Magic Lost, Trouble Found


The cover suggests a fantasy novel, and yeah, it is. Raine Benaris is a seeker (a combination of sleuth / retriever / artifact blood hound) who finds herself involved in the search for a millennia old artifact that might lead the goblins to victory. Make that victories.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Extra TV op Ziggo aansluiten / de Ziggo Go app installeren op de Nvidia Shield (Pro)

Als je meerdere TV's in huis hebt wil je ook graag op allemaal TV kunnen kijken. Dat gaat echter niet altijd even gemakkelijk... En dan is er natuurlijk die (on)handige Ziggo App...

Lees verder...

Friday, July 1, 2022

Wallpaper - A Better Tomorrow

Thus dual-screen wallpaper works better on two similar-sized screens (I'm currently running a dual monitor setup with two differently sized screens) but it works best on curved ultra-wide screens.

Unfortunately, I don't have one of those...

(Click image to enlarge...) 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Daryl Gregory - Spoonbenders


With masturbation being a (minor) theme, some drug (ab)use, a dysfunctional family and paranormal gifted people this book won't score well in the bible belt. Nevertheless, it's quite an interesting read, and a very different take on the subject.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Daniel Wilson - The Clockwork Dynasty


A SciFi novel whose main mechanism borders on Fantasy. It's a fair read, in which a historian hunts for automata / automatons / clockwork, and discovers some of those clockworks are a lot like human beings. I'm not entirely sure if I should classify this as SF or Fantasy, but I'll settle for SF as there is some (semi) scientific explanation for all of it.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

TouchPortal - Launching troublesome applications

Sometimes you want to launch another application from within TouchPortal, and it simply won't work, or behave oddly. I had a lot of troubles launching good old PhotoImpact X3 from TouchPortal, but thank heavens someone in the TouchPortal Discord suggested to use compatibility mode... Pfew!

Here are some things to try...

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Backup / Migrate OBS and TouchPortal

Lots of overly long explanations on YouTube. Here's my approach to backup / migrate OBS and TouchPortal settings.

This is an alternative to my previous post.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Christopher Nuttall - Schooled in Magic - Little Witches / The Right Side of History


Two typical Schooled in Magic novels, both relative short, and the plot meanders a bit without going anywhere. I fear Nuttall's a bit done with this universe. Power creep has made the heroine too big to fall.

As for these two books: they should have been one. Perhaps that would have redeemed it a bit.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Andrew Seiple - Dire Saga 0 - Fate


A short story featuring Dire, in line with Dire Born. That one's better though...

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Zero Day Protocol Handlers Exploit - MSDT (Follina) and Search

Batch file to remove some protocol handlers that might be used for zero day exploits (uncomment as required).

Boomers and Zoomers, the Alphabet Mafia, and the Cancel Culture


I'm not a boomer. It's a close call, but a boomer I am not. However I strongly dislike the term. It's not used as a group-name, it's used as an insult. As in, 'Look at that boomer, he's too old to understand.'

Am I? Or is there a somewhat bigger problem? Before you start taking aim and fire away, please understand that this post is not about enforcing my view on the rest of the world, it's actually the opposite. I ask those who ARE enforcing THEIR view to please consider that opinions may differ. So... ready to be insulted? Here we go...

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Wallpaper - Believe!

I guess I saw too many episodes of the X-Files when I was young 😌

(Click to enlarge.) 

All Wallpapers thus far...


Monday, May 30, 2022

Kameron Hurley - The Stars are Legion


Scifi with a dash of body horror, and yet another story that is hard to describe. In some far away future humanity is female only, spread over a number of ships (?) where everything is alive and build using the same basic components (variations on human genetics?).

Monday, May 23, 2022

Ed McDonald - The Raven's Mark 1 - Blackwing


Although this is the first book in a series, it's also a perfect standalone. It's a dark fantasy, medieval when it comes to technology, where the main character is a down-on-his-luck, bad-mouthing 'black captain'. Which means he's doing the dirty jobs that nobody else wants to do, like hunting deserters in the no-men's land called 'The Misery'.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Dredd (2012)


The 2012 movie Dredd has no right to be entertaining, and yet it is. Also, it may be one of the few movies that's actually good in 3D. For the record, I pretty much hate anything 3D (can't stand the glasses) and this is one of the few exceptions. I normally pick the regular versions when visiting the cinema, but back then I accidentally picked the 3D version.

To my surprise, it's even entertaining when re-watching it, years later, in 2D. Just don't expect anything to exercise the brain 😅

Saturday, May 14, 2022

To Smart Quote or Not to Smart Quote (also known as 'Curly' quotes)


On a computer, you typically use 'straight quotes', whilst in (real) books you mostly find 'curly quotes'.

In both Google Docs and Word you can let the word processor (is anyone still old enough to recognize that word?) handle it.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

3D Book Mockup


There are many sites that can do this. Here's just another one...

DIY Book Design 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Gerald Brandt - San Angeles 1 - The Courier


16 y.o. girl orphan has dragged herself out of the gutter, and now works as a courier. When she is asked to deliver a package late at night she witnesses a murder, and runs away with the package, chased by one of the mega corporations controlling the world.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Django Wexler - Wells of Sorcery 1 / 2 - Ship of Smoke and Steel / City of Stone and Silence


Street orphan fights her way up to local ward boss, and has managed to hide her magical talents from the rest of the world... until they catch her, and send her to take control over the largest ship in the world, a 500 year old ghost ship that shouldn't exist.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Wallpaper - Underground Angel

We had some angels last month, so let's add another one...

(Click image to enlarge.)

All Wallpapers thus far...

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Moving a key element after analyzing Action / Tension ratio


I have absolutely no idea if this post is going to be useful in any way 😊 but I was revising the novel I'm working on, and trying to decide if I should do a change or not... just before completion.

I shouldn't, because it took me long enough to get this far, but I'm in doubt...

Monday, April 25, 2022

Netflix - Manifest - Season 1 / 2


Discontinued on NBC, continued on Netflix. A bit similar to Lost, but Lost never did it for me. Thus far, the first two seasons of this show are available on NetFlix NL, and those are good. Season 3 isn’t available in NL because some Belgian station is still broadcasting season 3. So I’ll have to wait a bit longer even for season 4. Oh well.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Ernest Cline - Armada


Another take on Ready Player One, another love song to the eighties. Well written, but frankly I find this new take on the same trip down memory lane a little shallow. It's well written, but it's well-written fan fiction. Yet... where some fan fiction dazzles with new ideas and fresh characters I found Armada to be somewhat meh.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Felix R Savage - Earth's Last Gambit 1 - Freefall


Definitely (?) an indie writer, and one who isn't afraid to use real people, like Obama and Musk, as characters in his book. I'm not so sure that is a smart thing to do, because it will date the book rather quickly. Otherwise the book is more a technotriller than plain SF, with plausible technology.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Adam Wright - Harbinger PI 2 - Buried Memory


Mister Harbinger (a blend of Philip Marlowe and Harry Dresden) finds out what actually happened in Paris, discovers his dad blocked certain memories, works together with a vampire to fight a horde of zombies / skeletons, and ends up asleep on his own lawn.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Wallpaper - Angels

Angels are mostly girly stuff, but hey! I have a few in my wallpaper collection as well.


Monday, March 28, 2022

A.G. Riddle - Departure


I recently watched the first two seasons of Manifest, and this book starts in a similar vein: an airplane that departs, only to arrive years later.

And that's where the similarity ends 😎

Monday, March 21, 2022

Yudhanjaya Wijeratne - The Salvage Crew


A displaced mind (transplanted from a human body into a spaceship’s central computer) is part of a salvage team, and tries hard to keep its human compagnons / workers / assets alive. 

Read by Nathan Fillion, who does a fairly good job, and the story ain’t half bad either. The ending is a little rapid, but otherwise a fine book, and a tad different from all the other stuff out there.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Wen Spencer - A Brother's Price


A ‘reverse world’ novel, where the men are rare, and thus valuable. It isn’t bad, but there’s little new in there except for the reversing of roles. It’s very well written, but halfway I gave up: there’s simply not enough happening.

(From Dapper / TellTales #110.)

Monday, March 7, 2022

Joel Shepherd – Renegade / Drysine Legacy / Kantovan Vault


Space Opera / Military SF, but with one twist: no artificial gravity thus far, which has a lot of impact on the scenes in space. Thus far it follows a predictable pattern (rogue starship flees because it’s captain was betrayed by the space navy’s top brass) but the alien races are interesting, the setting is interesting, and it’s completely without teen angst. (After sampling as many first person present tense works as I could I can only conclude that those are mainly targeted at YA / NA, and include lots of whining.) 

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Wallpaper - Dragon Mural

A mural my youngest daughter and I painted. For more information see here.

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

Monday, February 28, 2022

Maria V. Snyder - Navigating the Stars / Chasing the Shadows / Defending the Galaxy (YA)


I’ve been searching for more first person present tense material to understand what I’m doing right and wrong myself. This is another YA which isn’t too bad, except for one specific scene, where the (hurt) protagonist (a 17 year old girl) climbs onto the landing gear of a space shuttle, and then literally travels half the world, 16000 kilometres, at 600 kmph.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Alex Hughes - Mindspace 4 - Vacant


The fourth book in the Mindspace series, and again a very good one.

I’ve read two short stories by his (her?) hand that bridge the gaps between the larger titles, and now have started this one. I liked the short stories, but prefer the full sized novels.

As I said when reviewing the earlier installments, the narration is very good, and the somewhat seedy mix of a drug addicted ex-guild telepath, working in a post-tech-war world for the local police office just kind of works, surprisingly.

Brilliant. I want more.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Tarah Benner – Lawless / Ruthless / Dauntless


Semi post-apocalyptic setting with a strong romantic vibe. Falls a little flat because it’s not as post-apocalyptic as suggested at the start.

Why I read it? Well, it's part of my endless quest for first person present tense references... It was mentioned on a list of present tense books, but it was wrongly listed.

Update: finished all four. They're okay, but not exceptional. I think the world would have been a much bigger hell had the famish as described taken place.

(From TellTales 109)

Monday, February 7, 2022

Netflix - Along with the Gods (2018)


Subtitled The Last 49 Days, it’s the modern day equivalent of A Matter of Life and Death).

This isn't a bad movie either. Nothing earth shattering, but still interesting to see a Korean take on the ‘defend the good / bad guy against gods and their lawyers’.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Wallpaper - Grass and Comets

Decent 3-screen wallpapers are a little harder to come by.

Someone assembled this one by copy / pasting to their heart's content. When you watch it closely you'll notice the repeating clouds. Still, if you don't pay too much attention it works well.

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Wallpaper - Air

I must have been in my 'anime' phase at the time (all geeks suffer from such an epoch during their life). This wallpaper is a remnant of mine. I think I found it on DeviantArt (when it wasn't as confusing as it is now).

(Click to enlarge.)