The Big 2000

Exactly how hard is it to write 2000 words?

This is a question I want to answer before I begin my attempt at November’s NaNoWriMo. I know from experience that I often have trouble following through a task I set myself. Weather this is because I lose interest, or I reach a point where the task becomes difficult, or I simply run out of time, it boils down to the same outcome. Half finished projects, ideas, courses, and a distinct disappointed feeling about a week later.

Deadlines seem to help. When I was at university I majored in Procrastination, which meant that all my assignments were half-assed the night before they were due. Surprisingly, I still managed to pass every subject and got (reasonably) alright marks. While this isn’t the best approach, it might mean that I will be able to get a lot done in a small amount of time. I might consider organising some days off work towards the end of November to really push things along.

Another issue I have is distraction. I find that I can’t work while the TV is on, or if Patrice is around and wants to talk. As long as I have some time to dedicate to the task and am alone, usually in a different location than where I normally relax, I am able to hammer out some good work. In September Patrice and I are going on a week long vacation to Bribie Island, and I am hoping to really nut out the plan for my story. It will be a good test of endurance to see if I can work on something with a bit of gusto, but it will also see if Patrice can stand me spending so much time on something other than just spending time wit her. If this has any impact on her, I will probably not invest myself in it.

The most important thing for me will be sleep. If I am tired at all (from anything less than about 8 hours sleep) my work ethic drops to near-zero levels. This is even in my day job. If I am well-rested I am capable of a lot, and I find I have a much longer attention span, can multi-task better, work harder, and don’t fall asleep when I could be doing something more interesting like reading. Exactly how much sleep I need I’m not sure, but from past experience the amount seems to be “more the merrier!”.

When Patrice was doing shift at a hospital in Brisbane which started at 7am we were heading to bed around 9pm. This usually ended up being closer to 9:30, which meant that I was getting around 9 hours sleep each night (or at least 8:30). During those two weeks I read three whole novels, smashed out a few weeks worth of an online programming course I was doing, updated my website, and was around 1400% more productive than my usual, tired self. This is how I want November to be.

To reach the 50000 word goal I will need to write (minimum) 1667 word per day. I’m not sure exactly how long that is going to take. Sure, I can type pretty quick, but when it comes to creative writing (even what I am typing now) it’s not that fast. I need to stop and think about what I want to say and try my darnedest and cut down the number of commas I use. When I re-read what I write that is one of the big things that seems to crop up. It has the inflection of how I say it, but the sentences just don’t need the pause.

Another thing I have been thinking about is what I am going to use to write. I find that pen and paper is too slow and painful (I hold pens like I don’t want them to live any more) and my computer too impractical. I have a netbook (Samsung NC110) which is pretty light and has a battery which lasts a good number of hours, but the keyboard is a little bit small and the screen resolution is just low enough to really annoy me lately. I do think that the netbook will end up being my weapon of choice during November however. It’s the most practical and portable solution that doesn’t involve me typing thousands of words on a touch screen.

What it all boils down to is passion. Do I want to write? Do I enjoy creating fiction? That’s something that I just won’t know until I start. The best outcome would be creating something good, or even great, and being really proud of what I accomplished. If I start only to find I don’t enjoy what I am doing, that is an acceptable outcome as well. What would really bum me out would be if I started, enjoyed it, but didn’t finish because I just was lazy.

I guess we will have to wait and see.

Writing. And Writing. And Writing.

Something I have always been interested in is reading. There is so much detail, depth, intrigue and narrative in a good book that just can’t be portrayed in any other medium. When I was younger, I began writing a fantasy novel and never finished it. I believe it got to about 4000 or 5000 words before I moved on to other ways to spend my time. Throughout Primary school and high school I always read, but never tried writing again. In my second year of university one of the elective courses I could take was “The Short Story”.

It would be a bit of a tall tale to say that course made me fall in love with writing again. I enjoyed it, however I only achieved a passing grade. The tutor didn’t seem to like the hap-hazard style of writing I employed. This was mostly because I did it all the night before, and never had a plan.

After working full time for three years, I have been looking to branch out and extend myself. This is where NaNoWriMo comes in. National Novel Writing Month started in America by the Office of Letters and Light and has spread to a world-wide literary undertaking. The basic premise is to write a novel of greater than 50000 words within the month of November. I believe this is something that I want to attempt.

To do this, I need an idea which I believe is original enough to build an interesting story out of. I will also need a solid plan, and time each day to write the required 1613 words to hit the deadline. Recently I have been reading the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, and I have fallen in love with the characters and the quirky, left-and-a-little-behind-centre-field way they are portrayed and interact with the world. I think I want to try and write comedy.

Have a think about the genre, I believe it will be a real challenge to keep the book light and funny while still keeping the story entertaining and deep. I want to challenge myself. I don’t consider myself a very funny person but I believe I have a good understanding of logic, and can use that to my advantage.

Leading up to the month I want to maintain my blog a bit more often than I have been, and to get used to writing a serious amount of text down. Ideally, I would like to write five to ten thousand-word-long posts before November, so I can understand exactly how long it takes me to write, and pick up any flaws in my plan.

Assuming I can do it, I’m not sure what I would want to do with the end result. If people like it, there might be self-publishing. This is something that I can worry about after the fact.

 

Galaxy S4 and my Android Homescreen

Four days ago I upgraded to a Galaxy S4 on Virgin Mobile. So far, it has been amazing. I just wanted to share how I have my homescreen set up, now I am fairly happy with it.

Screenshot

As you can see, I have gone for a dark, patterned background. This helps save battery, and it also makes the white icons and text easier to read. I have a picture of my wife on my lockscreen, and various widgets and other icons cluttering up my other screens, but I try and keep my homescreen as clean as I can.

My homescreen was made using ADWLauncher Ex, Zooper Widget, and the Minimalist Theme icon pack

As for the phone itself, I am really loving the size, weight and high-res screen. I have noticed a few things are a little fuzzy when they aren’t designed for the resolution, but all-in-all, it’s worth it. I have picked up a S-View cover, and am waiting on a Qi wireless charging coil for it. I’m really excited about that one!

 

CL4P-TP (Claptrap) 7″ Figurine

Recently I have been playing Borderlands 2. While I have finished the campaign, and I haven’t been enjoying the second playthrough as much as the first, I still love the style, story, art direction and character development within this amazing title.

When I saw the 7″ figurine at the local EB Games I knew I had to get it. It even made me clean up my desk at work so I could give it pride-of-place.

It has a number of points of articulation, including shoulders, elbows, the flaps over the arms and eye, and the wheel. The antenna also raises and lowers. The paint on the figure is very detailed, even down to the smears of dirt and mud around the wheel.

I am very happy with how it looks and feels, the only thing I dislike is the small plastic bar holding it upright doesn’t sit very firmly into the figure. It works, you just have to be careful.

I paid $34 from EB Games.

The First Six Months of the Rest of My Life

So today is my 6 month wedding anniversary. I have to say, I love my wife so much. While I find myself flawed more often that I should, everything about her is perfect. Living with her has been the best time of my life. I can only see that continuing.

The holidays were great. We had Christmas with the In-Laws for lunch, and my parents for breakfast. New Years was spent with friends, and the rest of the holiday has been spent relaxing. There was even a 12-hour Lord of the Rings marathon in there somewhere.

The other part of my life at the moment is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. What a spectacular game. I have invested about 70 hours so far, and I feel like I’m only 2/3 through it. There are so many side quests, and things to do. Not to mention you can just start a new character, and choose all the other options. It’s almost a whole new game.

Work starts again tomorrow, and it’s going to be the end of my acting Team Leader position. I look forward to the lessened responsibility, but am a bit sad about the lower pay grade. Considering I never actually received a pay at my “new” level, it was all just back-paid at once, it won’t be that much of a shock.

Life keeps on moving. I might keep you informed, however because “you” is basically no one, I might not. Who knows.

Leading the Team

So over the last few weeks I have been acting as Team Leader at work. I think that as this time is wrapping up, I will be glad for the break back to normality.

The position isn’t that much different from what I was doing in my “pleb” role, but I was responsible for more of the “fixing” problems, than actually “telling people that we know about” problems. Some problems were easily fixed; you would make a phone call, talk to the system administrator, and the issue would be resolved. Others require more finesse, where you make 5 phone calls to work out who would be responsible for the system, then find out they are away that day.

You are also responsible for the communication to the senior staff. That’s the scary part. A problem is raised, it is completely up to you if you send communications or not, how you send them, when you send them etc. And if they aren’t right, someone gets in trouble. Luckily, this only really happened two or three times, and in those times, I only made a poor decision once. And my Manager (who got the blame) was ok with it. He is a great guy.

Long story short, it has been a stressful month-and-a-bit. This has impacted on my home life and my side-projects a bit as well. StationeryReview.com has suffered from lack of reviews, and while I have been working on TheLeek I haven’t put as much time in to it as I should have.

In the coming weeks, Skyrim is coming out, and I am hoping to make the most of it. I might even get a review posted (depending on how much I can play, and if I have the time.)

Have Fun Y’all,
Andrew

The Leek

Right, so one of my various dodge projects a while ago was “theleek.com.au”, and it was pretty swell for all of a couple of weeks. Basically, the original plan didn’t take off. So I have decided to band together some geeky brothers, and do something with the domain name.

So far, the best suggestion has been a group blog which everyone can post whatever they want on it. By everyone, I mean my friends and such who are approved posters. You never know what can happen with a collection of interesting information on the inter-tubes.

It would still maintain the original idea of games, tech and culture, but the beauty is that covers almost everything in existence. People could post about something they found out about online, something fun, something crazy, projects, whatever, and it would all fit in the criteria of “everything”.

It’s a beautiful concept. Now, time to do it…

The Stationery Business Isn’t Too Stationary

So my side project for the last few weeks / months has been www.stationeryreview.com which I started towards the end of last year. Basically, I review pens, paper, diaries and pretty much anything else that might be considered stationery.

A few weeks ago I took some time to send emails to a number of stationery manufacturers who I quite liked, and received quite a positive response. Pepople like my website and want to send me items to review. It’s amazing.

So far, I have recieved 3 notebooks, a Filofax(!), a 40% off to a stationery retailer and I am expecting more in the near future. It’s been so encouraging, and I hope I am able to keep it up.

My previous post about the Meta Game was a nice mind-experiment, however it hasn’t panned out yet. I haven’t had any time to work on making a website, and I haven’t heard hide nor hair from the other involved party. Perhaps it was just a good idea, and not quite worth the effort. We shall see.

The next few weekends are going to be crazy-hectic. I have numerous parties, weddings, events, barbecues and funerals (heh, joking) to go to, and Patrice is on placement at the hospital, so next week I am going to be getting up at some crazy hour of the morning, and getting to work in the city by 7am. At least I will build up a butt-load of time off.

Till next time, keep on trocking (trucking, and rocking)
– Andrew

Thinking Meta

For a few years I have had an idea which I haven’t really shared with anyone. While at uni we were encouraged to think differently about gaming, and the idea came from a thought session leaving traditional gaming behind.

Imagine a treasure hunt, where the clues for each item are online and the goal is to find QR Codes stuck around the place, scan them, and claim the points.

While I believe the idea is sound, I haven’t had a decent way to create, test, produce or maintain the game until last night speaking with one of my good friends, who offered to do the leg work on the project.

Between now and registering a domain name for the project, a lot needs to happen. We have to finalise the parameters and rules of the game, think of a name, build a website and test it with a group of people.

The first thing for me will be the web development. The site needs to contain quite a bit of information;

  • Entry page, information about the game
  • Registration page (to be locked down until the game is released)
  • Clues page (for registered users)
  • Profile (to see your scans, and maybe basic information)
  • Leader board (to keep the competition fierce)
  • Admin pages
    • Create a clue / code
    • Landing pages for each code
    • User Maintenance
Once we have that down pat, then we can move to a wider audience (i.e. anyone) I’m pretty excited that someone has heard and agreed with my idea. It can only go forward from here (or not, but that’s ok)