Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Joshua James & Daniel Young - Legacy of War - First Encounter / Enemy Lines / Invasion Force

Audiobook Review.

Another space opera, and unfortunately it fails in the typical areas of science and logic. The story might have been a lot better with a little more work on the technical aspects.

Here are more of my usual gripes on much of the SF Space Opera and Military SF out there:

Monday, February 26, 2024

Casey White - Silvertongue

Audiobook Review.

Last year I was (trying to) do a review per week, and haven't kept to my schedule when 2024 started... So, let's use a week or two to catch up. First target: Casey White.

Casey White is an independent self publishing author, with a number of novels to her name. I can't figure out how many, as there are multiple authors with the same name / alias 😎

How to install Windows 11 without a Microsoft account and / or TPM

Windows.

In the past you could install Windows 11 with a local account. These days? Not so. You MUST create a Microsoft Account to install Windows 11. That's... ridiculous. Can't even install a PC anymore without an internet connection.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

How to avoid being Microsoft's Bitch... Or: adding and managing Local Accounts on Windows 11

Windows.

My deepest apologies for the choice of words, but today was one of those days where I have been literally yelling at my computer screen for at least ten minutes. All thanks to Microsoft.

And today, my local accounts suddenly disappeared.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Bedrijfseconomische Omstandigheden - Hoe ontslag een lachertje is geworden dankzij de Vaststellingsovereenkomst (Dutch)

Dutch.

In veel landen is ontslag de gewoonste zaak van de wereld. Maandag ben je aan het werk. Dinsdag verteld je baas dat je kunt gaan, en Woensdag sta je op straat.

In Nederland is dat iets beter geregeld, maar niet veel... En werkgevers maken er dankbaar misbruik van, omdat het een gemakkelijke manier is om ongewenste werknemers weg te werken.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Ikea Ivar Door (Hinge) Mod (104.530.72)

DIY.

Ikea has a new (?) product called a 'door', also known under the catchy nominator '104.530.72' 😎

Actually, they have two versions. I have used the rattan version here. Both though are not of a quality that would warrant the price. (40+ bucks, Ikea? Seriously?)

Monday, February 5, 2024

JBL Live 670NC Headset - Broken & Dead

Review / DIY.

If this was a review my advice would be: don't buy. Sorry, JBL, but you screwed up. The headphone itself is nice, *mostly* well made, with unfortunately one essential flaw: it broke down, most likely due to a design or manufacturing mistake.

Thanks JBL... 100 euro down the drain.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Secomber Rescan

RPG.

My old Secomber maps were scanned 20 years ago, using a handscanner. It was about time I rescanned them, especially after finding other Secomber maps.

Click on any of these images for a larger version.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Secomber Redux

RPG.

20+ years ago I created some maps for Secomber, a small town in the Forgotten Realms. I didn't pick the place at random. I selected it because it is known, but not well documented allowing the DM lots of freedom, and it's close to lots of interesting places.

I'm planning to revisit the old document and expand on it, so in preparation I googled a bit...

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Chrome 2023 Refresh and Profile Colors

Datatalk / Chrome.

I like to differentiate my Chrome profiles by different tab colors, but the 'Chrome 2023 Refresh' enforced pastel colors on us poor users. I had not spotted that yet, but when I made a profile change, I suddenly couldn't select my original color again. Instead, we now have 'themes' that don't do what I want...

But it's fixable... for now...

Monday, January 15, 2024

VR.5

Series Review.

Outdated. Old fashioned. Geeky, nerdy, cult.

And yet, in some ways, this old one season series is lots of fun. Sidney Bloom is a telecoms technician with a talent that allows her to creep into someone else's mind, entering a kind of 'virtual reality'.

Monday, January 8, 2024

Netflix - Arcane

Anime Review.

It’s based on a computer game, but it has (fortunately) little to do with the game (besides borrowing characters and background).

Synopsis: two sisters survive in a world with lots of contrast between the rich and the poor. When a heist fails, the oldest sister goes to jail, and the youngest one goes… crazy.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Wallpaper - The Scientific Railgun Clones

Wallpaper.

I wrote about A Scientific Railgun some time ago, and here's the matching wallpaper.

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


Apple TV – Silo

Series Review.

I haven’t read the Hugh Howey novels this series is based upon, but this first season was highly enjoyable to watch. People locked in a silo-like vertical arcology need to survive on limited resources. However, there is a secretive group active in the background, controlling (and using) more advanced technology, and things might not be quite as they seem. I found it now and again a little predictable, but still worth a watch.

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...