Sunday, December 31, 2023

2023

Wrapping up 2023, and Welcome to 2024!

The image to the left takes you to the home screen which lists all major topics.

To search this blog you have to use the desktop version of this blog.

This link will show all 2023 posts.

Countdown to 2024 - Nine Writing Tips Before Christmas - #1 - Write a Lot

Countdown / Writing.

The final tip on the final day of 2023 is very straightforward and way too obvious: write a lot. Write some more. Read a lot. Write again.

After a while building sentences becomes something automatic. You'll reach the stage where you'll effortlessly find the right words to describe the scene in your mind. This just takes practice. So write a lot, read a lot, then write even more.

Note: using a decent keyboard and some blind typing helps a lot here!

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Countdown to 2024 - Nine Writing Tips Before Christmas - #2 - Shock Yourself And Your Reader

Countdown / Writing.

Shock yourself and your reader.

What's the most exotic, outrageous thing your character would do? Would he / she really do it? Does the story lend itself to that? If so, create a situation where your character would do exactly that... the impossible, the unthinkable, the illogical (not from the character's point of view, mind you).

Friday, December 29, 2023

Countdown to 2024 - Nine Writing Tips Before Christmas - #3 - Character Sheets

Countdown / Writing.

In general I don't see much use for extensive character sheets. I even tend to skip as much of world building as I can get away with. I did find it useful to make a small char sheet for my main cast. Not to flesh them out and delve into their deepest secrets and hidden background.

My reasons are much more ordinary: I don't want to get caught out.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Countdown to 2024 - Nine Writing Tips Before Christmas - #4 - Switch Off That Brain!

Countdown / Writing.

Don't overthink. Or from a broader point of view: don't brood. Don't whine. Don't worry.

Advice is what it is: an opinion of another person. Listen to them, learn from them, but don't depend on them.

It's an odd dilemma: you must learn from others, to avoid their mistakes, and to improve your own work. On the other hand you must develop a spine. (Yeah, that's a little harsh, but read on...)

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Countdown to 2024 - Nine Writing Tips Before Christmas - #5 - Do the Math!

Countdown / Writing.

We're past Christmas, and a couple of days away from New Year's Eve. And so I think it is time to combine mathematics with the art of writing:

It's easier to add than to subtract.

Removing a plot line, a character, a chapter or a scene, all of that is way harder than adding something.  Anything. (Especially adding spelling errors is easier, but that's not the point.)

Write short. Concise. Focused. You can always expand later.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Video Encoding - H265 vs NVidia Enc vs CPU vs 1080p vs 720p vs...

Datatalk.

Goodie. There are so many (good) video codecs these days that it is hard to pick one... Or not?

There are some very decent explanations of the different formats on the Internet... but, as usual, I just had to figure it out and see for myself 😇

Countdown to 2024 - Nine Writing Tips Before Christmas - #6 - Bang It Right The First Time!

Countdown / Writing.

Use a (real) keyboard.

Don't write on your phone. Instead, use a real keyboard (and a real screen). A tablet (with an external BT keyboard) will work, but nothing beats that big piece of screen real estate in front of you.

If you can afford it, go big. 27", or even 2x 27" or some ultrawide thingy. And don't forget you'll be editing as well! If you use an editor (as in: a person, not the software 😏) it can be nice to show the editor's and your own version side by side.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Countdown to 2024 - Nine Writing Tips Before Christmas - #7 - Making a Scene

Countdown / Writing.

You're stuck.

In the countdown to 2024 I'm sharing a bunch of the most obvious tips with the poor victims that landed on this blog. Hey! You're one of them! So, what should you do when you want to write but you're stuck?

Close your eyes...

Jessica Brody – Save the Cat! Writes a Novel

Writing / Book Review.

After Janice Hardy's Plotting Your Novel I had to get this one as well, as it has a great reputation and addresses similar topics... though it's quite a different book and concept in the end. 

This book uses the ‘beat sheet’ approach used by Blake Snyder to create and improve tv- and movie-scripts. Following a specific script or method might be your thing, or it might not, so I approached this book with a bit more caution.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Countdown to 2024 - Nine Writing Tips Before Christmas - #8 - Write What the Reader Wants

Countdown / Writing.

Tip number 8 is so obvious that it hurts. And it hurts doubly so, because it effectively means that you have to sell your soul.

Write what the reader wants.

... but that's unfair! Should you shelve your dreams and go low and commercial?

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Countdown to 2024 - Nine Writing Tips Before Christmas - #9 - Write readable

Countdown / Writing.

Actually, it's nine hints before the end of the year, but this sounds better 🤔😁

Matt asked me for nine tips... Hmmm... So, here's number 9:

Write Readable

... but that is not a tip. That's the same thing I tell everyone.

Monday, December 18, 2023

A.J. Hackwith - Hell's Library - The Library of the Unwritten

Audiobook Review.

Books about libraries will always have a special place in the SF / Fantasy reader’s heart. In most novels featuring libraries these ‘arcane’ (in the most loose sense of the word) collections of books allow access to other places or alternate realities. I think my first encounter was via Pratchett’s librarian, but there are many more.

So, here's another one to add to the list 😏

Saturday, December 16, 2023

USB-C / Thunderbolt / USB4 / USB-C Docking Stations

Datatalk / USB Standards.

I needed to figure out what kind of USB-C cable I needed for a docking station, and then things got complicated really fast 😁

So, did you know that you don't need high speed cables if you want to connect (multiple) monitors over USB-C? Or that different combinations of adapters, cables and devices offer different charge speeds because they negotiate -- if they're all new enough, of a decent quality, and have a chip? Read on...

Monday, December 11, 2023

Janice Hardy – Plotting Your Novel

Writing / Book Review.

I've recently bought some books to become a better writer, and some of those were Janice Hardy's.

At 300 pages this one’s a bit bigger, and of the three Janice Hardy books I’ve picked up this one feels the most like a real ‘text book’, something to study. You can actually buy a companion ‘work book’ to work out the questions at the end of each chapter, but you don't really need it.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Writer's Block - The Sequel

Writing.

I strongly believe there is no such thing as 'writer's block'. (I do believe in procrastination though.) 

But if there is, then the only cure I know of is writing bad poetry. Preferably so bad your brain tries to crawl out through your ears from pure terror.

Let's have another go at it... 

Here's a new ditty, and after that my umpteenth attempt to translate a (horrible and disgusting) Dutch one...

Monday, December 4, 2023

Lauren Dane - Goddess with a Blade

Audiobook Review.

A hardboiled detective / supernatural investigator femme fatale, doing her thing in Sin City? Promising…

Or, perhaps, not. Few action scenes, some romantic stuff, cock sucking, more access scenes, repeat ad nauseum. If you like sex scenes in your books, sprinkled with some Vampire hormones then go and read this. I gave up after a couple of chapters. Explicit sex scenes every other chapter just ain’t rocking my boat. If it’s yours then there are at least 5 sequels to work your way through.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Monitor Kleur Kalibratie... Lekker Goedkoop (Dutch)

Datatalk / Dutch.

Je zou een ton apps verwachten, welke allemaal claimen dat ze je helpen je monitor te kalibreren... Maar nee. En de paar welke ik gevonden heb waren niet echt indrukwekkend. Dus wat te doen als je geen colorimeter hebt?

Uiteindelijk ben ik maar voor de goedkoopste oplossing gegaan: met het blote oog. (Da's altijd fout, maar soms heb je geen andere optie.)

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Monitor Color Calibration... On the Cheap (English)

Datatalk.

You'd expect to find tons of apps that would claim to aid in monitor calibration, but there aren't that many... and the few I tried were not very impressive. So, unless you have an actual colorimeter, you're pretty much on your own.

I tried some things but in the end I had to settle for the cheapest solution: eyeball it. (Which is always wrong, but sometimes all that's left.)

Friday, December 1, 2023

Wallpaper - Galactica

Wallpaper.

Symbology aside (right) the BattleStar Galactica wallpaper is a great 2h wallpaper.

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

Monday, November 27, 2023

Janice Hardy – Understanding Show, Don’t Tell

Writing / Book Review.

Janice Hardy is a Fantasy author, and runs the Fiction University website / blog. Her blog is a source of interesting titbits, related to writing fiction. She turned a number of those blog posts into books, of which I purchased three.

The three books by her hand that I'll discuss are focused on beginners to mid-level writers. They might make some good presents for under the tree, in case you have a young niece / nephew who wants to be an author some day…

Monday, November 20, 2023

Kim Stanley Robinson - Mars Trilogy - Red Mars / Green Mars / Blue Mars

Book Review.

Highly spoken of, 'a classic', and yet... I don't know.

It's epic scifi allright. Kim Stanley Robinson describes the colonialization of Mars, and all the stumbles along the way, and once you're done with book three, you know all there is to know.

But... after reading all three books, I was left with a kind of empty feeling, as things didn't go anywhere. Mumble muble bla bla mumble mumble... with a sudden stop at the end.


Monday, November 13, 2023

L.E. Modesitt - The Imager Portfolio - Imager / Imager's Challenge / Imager's Intrigue / ...

Audiobook Review.

This series is literally using ‘imagination’ as the primary magical means and method. It has some interesting aspects and intrigue, but the main character is a little too powerful, and the whole writing style smells of LitRPG and Cultivation (which I don’t like) but… he doesn’t belong to that wave of writers. 

I’m a little puzzled though. L.E. Modesitt has been around for quite a while, but I have no recollection of reading anything by his hand before. Hmmm…

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Boston - Boston

Music.

I suffer from an old time music revival, and now I'm stuck in the 70's. So let’s throw a classic at you: Boston’s debut album Boston. I’ve been playing it whilst working on my latest Dapper contribution, and damn, every track (except perhaps the last one) is fantastic. Ah, more than a feeling… and that organ!

Verdict? After all these years it's still fantastic!


Monday, November 6, 2023

Jeffery H. Haskell – Against All Odds / With Grimm Resolve / ...

Audiobook Review.

Space Opera by the numbers. So many books follow the traditional ‘captain down on his luck’ ‘fight against a secret force and a corrupt army / government’ etc. etc. etc. and this is just another one. Still, this series made it into book seven (or eight?) by now.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Wallpaper - Enjoy Capitalism

Wallpaper.

I believe human nature is effectively blocking any usable form of communism and anarchism. That's why I believe in enlightened capitalism, with a shot of socialism to protect the weak. That’s the role of government: protect the populace from getting hurt by greed and stupidity. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

Monday, October 30, 2023

Emily Suvada - This Mortal Coil / This Cruel Design / This Vicious Curse

Audiobook Review.

Post apocalyptic YA with a great concept that becomes a little too far-fetched in the latter half of the third book. Concept: the world is overrun by a virus that blows up people. The only way to survive is eating the flesh of someone who’s sick but didn’t yet explode.

From there we move into split brains, gen splicing, and virtual reality, served with a dash of betrayal and a royal helping of romance. Like I said, pretty good all the way up to the virtual reality, that’s where it looses some steam.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Indents in Kindle Create, using a Word source file

Writing.

Simple, step by step instructions on how to maintain indents for regular text, as set in Word.

In a nutshell: you need to set the indent used in Word styles.

Read on for examples and instructions.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Lena Horne - One for my Baby (1957?)

Music.

Yeah, that’s a song, not a book 🤔 Although the original was performed by Fred Astaire in the musical The Sky’s the Limit, and the best known version is perhaps Sinatra’s, this one’s my to go to. It’s night, and nobody knows if it’s the end of a love affair, or the end of the world.

Shivers... I think I'll have to read a Chandler / Marlowe next...

Here she is on YouTube...

Monday, October 23, 2023

HDD - SMR versus CMR

Datatalk.

Some newer drives use SMR instead of CMR recording. Unfortunately, manufacturers are not clear when they are using SMR technology.

SMR mostly affects the writing speed, may decrease lifespan, and greatly hampers (if not completely blocks) recovery of data upon OS failures, drive failures, or power failures. It should be cheaper (to manufacture)...

Patricia Briggs versus Faith Hunter (and a little demographics)

Column.

I’m alternating between two fantasy / romance series, Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock and Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson, trying to understand the appeal and writing styles.

It’s interesting to see how they both approach the classical notion of vampires and werewolves, and twist the readers’ expectations, whilst on the other hand serving them exactly what they want...

Monday, September 18, 2023

Elisa DeCarlo - The Devil You Say (1993)

Book Review.

A somewhat humoristic horror (?) read. The main characters are 'british at all costs', featuring a paranormal gifted young snobbish (and poor) gentleman, and his traditional butler. The story itself didn't do much for me, but the dialogues were nice and sharp and funny.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

It's all for naught... Fake or not? The quest for Lawrence Nault, self-proclaimed hermit

Writing.

On https://myindiebookshelf.com/ I ran into Lawrence Nault. Who is... real? Or not? When I see an AI generated or otherwise modified face, I start to doubt. So, just for fun, I looked a little deeper.

Sleuthing on the 'net may also help you to figure out how to present yourself as an author. Learn from the best and the worst, as they say.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Limitless (2015)

Series Review.

Limitless (the series) is more enjoyable than I expected (probably appeals to me because of the main character and his voice overs). I'm not convinced it is going to last for more than a season though... Still, it's fun so far, let's see if even the fun lasts for 22 episodes...

Monday, September 4, 2023

Faith Hunter - Jane Yellowrock - Skinwalker / Blood Crossed / Mercy Blade / Raven Cursed

Audiobook Review.

Trying to learn more about romance novels, I dipped my toes into the ‘Jane Yellowrock’ series. I think this is the second or third novel from the series. I’m still not sure what the target audience is for these: starving housewives, or males looking for a vampire killing, werewolf kicking biker chick?

Friday, September 1, 2023

Wallpaper - Blue Eyes

Wallpaper.

So... I have a thing for eyes. Sue me.

This wallpaper works great on multi-monitor setups with two identical monitors.

Click on image to enlarge or check out the other wallpapers...


 

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Ann Gimpel - Earth Reclaimed - Earth's Requiem / Earth's Blood / Earth's Hope

Audiobook Review.

Sometimes I sample ultra cheap offers on Amazon / Audible. Here's one of those... It's another typical fantasy / romance with some 'porny' chapters inserted ('She took his cock in her mouth' etc.)...

Unfortunately, though the premise is promising (post apocalypse, Celtic gods, latent magic etc.) the books as a series fail to hold my attention, and I don't need the porn scenes to spice it up. (It isn't romance, it's porn. Duh.)

Monday, August 28, 2023

Disney+ - Free Guy

Movie Review.

Ryan Reynolds is a busy bee. Here’s a high-octane, big FX take on The Truman Show (which is better) with a bit of The Matrix thrown in (which is better).

‘Guy’ lives inside a video game, and helps the programmer to recover code and discover love.

The verdict? It’s okay if you said goodbye to your brain cells two or three years ago.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Little Lil Versus Verbanet (Fiction)

Fiction.

A little piece of Flash Fiction, triggered by user posts on Discord / Writers+

Lil, Matt, I hope you won't mind :-)

(Written and posted with Lil and Matt's permission. Most of the blue messages are Lil's originals, the black and red my somewhat embellished replies.)

Have Fun!

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Netflix - Akira

Anime Review.

I think my first encounter with anime was back in '95. Yeah, I'm getting old 😔


(I know some people will hate me for my take on this classic, but it's like Jack Burton always says: "Give me your best shot, pal: I can take it.")

Monday, August 21, 2023

Netflix - Shadow and Bone

Series Review.

Shadow and Bone... Bone and Shadow... Oh, what does it matter. It's just another Netflix fantasy series, decent first season, bad second season, then rapidly killed off.

Sigh.

Typical Netflix.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Disney+ - Miss Marvel / Moon Knight / She Hulk

Series Review.

Things are never ever good enough. My god, can people complain!

Yeah, I know. I do as well. It’s only human. But the amount of negativity thrown at the Marvel shows for ‘not being true to the comics’, ‘poor CGI’, ‘discriminating’ and what not… my god! Is there even a way to do things right?!? We’re talking about television series, at smaller budgets, based on fantasy comics… and not everything has to be politically correct!

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Netflix - The Irregulars

Series Review.

Street gang assists Watson and Holmes, fighting supernatural stuff. The single episode arcs are all tied together in the end. Not that bad, and it might have deserved another season, but it’s fine as is.

(I hate series that are discontinued without a proper wrap-up. Are you listening, Netflix?)

Monday, August 7, 2023

Netflix - The Peripheral

Series Review.

I am a sucker for weird stuff with a bit of action, decent story line, interesting characters, and good production values. The Peripheral thus far ticks all the boxes. I've never read the book it's based upon (by William Gibson) but I guess I will give it a go after this series has been completed.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Send Documents to your Kindle e-reader and Windows Kindle App

Datatalk / Kindle.

You can browse your library and retrieve all your purchased documents from your e-readers, but did you know you can send other, non-Amazon documents to your Kindle e-reader? Or send them to a friend, assuming they have an Amazon / Kindle account?

Wattpad 'Vertical Framework' - Pitfalls

Writing.

Even if you're not interested in Wattpad, then the following links still provide some interesting reading, especially because it addresses  a specific subject: Pitfalls.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Martha Wells - The Murderbot Diaries - Network Effect

Audiobook Review.

I guess we’ve all read how our autistic killerbot handles the world, and in this book he finds a friend whilst rescuing his clients.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Wallpaper - Avatar / Angel

Wallpaper.

The wallpaper this month is a dual monitor wallpaper combining Avatar and Battle Angel Alita images. It works best on a pair of identical monitors. I've seen a nearly identical wallpaper, but this one is my own creation.

Click on the image to enlarge, or check out the other wallpapers...


Monday, July 31, 2023

Self-Publishing Checklist by Jane Friedman

Writing.

Source: https://janefriedman.com/

Direct link: https://janefriedman.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Self-Publishing-Checklist.pdf

She seems to be looking at things mostly from the viewpoint of a more experienced (self published) author, but otherwise this should offer some help to all aspiring writers. One suggestion: get your editing and your covers arranged a bit earlier...

Netflix - Warrior Nun - Season 2

Series Review.

Oh dear. Season 1 was promising, and had some interesting plotlines. An interesting ending. Lots of possibilities for a great season 2.

And then season 2 actually happened.