Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Stephen King talks about the possibility of rewriting the Dark Tower series, and how JJ Abrams optioned the movie rights (for $19!).

A rundown of some very cool-sounding indie video games. I love the idea of a martial arts game that plays like chess (about 4 down).

Jeremy blogs on diet. And again.

And after the last post, I resolve to not be so lazy. That paragraph was a quote. I shall link to my sources in future.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Diet #1

Fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes—foods high in complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, low in fat, and free of cholesterol—should make up the bulk of the calories you consume. The rest should come from low-fat dairy products, lean meat and poultry, and fish.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tech - Google Reader, 1 problem sorted

Marking all posts as read (see yesterday) is extremely easy, it turns out. Simply press Shift-a.

Make sure you're in Only List Updated view.
Press g + a. That gets you to view all the new stuff in a list.

I view everything in List view.

Navigate your way round the list using the n and p keys. Use o to open up the full item, and press o again to close the item back down (and keep your place in the list view).

Finally, to mark everything as read, press Shift-a.

From what I can tell, navigating this way means that when I look at Google Trends (which tells me what I'm reading and what percentage of it I'm paying attention to), I'll get some meaningful information.

Script - Useful gadgets for writers

Wired posted a list of their Top Gadgets for writers. Here are the ones relevant to me:

Digital Recorder

Don't waste time fiddling with your music player or laptop: the specialized controls and user interface of a good digital recorder are indispensable, and much better than those on devices whose focus lies elsewhere. Some DAPs are better than others—the iPod is capable enough—but you'll miss the simple, one-click operation of a smaller device with an integrated mic.

Any of the name brands will do, but make sure it offers a USB port, plug 'n' play hookup to your computer (It should appear as a portable drive when plugged in) and that the recordings are saved in a sensible format (such as WAV, WMA or MP3).

Great for capturing brainstorming sessions, Actual Plays, and those moments when the perfect lines for the scene leap out at me. I'm investigating this.

A decent pen

It's not just those of us less enamored of technology who need a decent scribbler: we all write the old-fashioned way, all the time, regardless of our affinity for the latest half-cooked tech toys. The constant scribe might want to try the ergonomic Yoropen, especially if cramp and repetitive strain are issues. And there's always the Fisher Space Pen for writers who write upside-down.

The rest of us have the Parker Jotter, which, when used with a gel-ink refill, is unbeatable. As much as I love classic fountains like my Parker 51, for everyday use, the workaday jotter topples any legend.

Okay, have to admit I haven't explored the world of pen-geekdom, but the Yoropen and the Parker Jotter sound cool.

Better writing software

The twin gorillas of word processing, Microsoft Word and Writer, impose a writing experience often counter to the needs of people who actually write, as opposed to people who generate business correspondence. There are many alternatives targeted at prose-crafters, most of them dreadful (more on those in a moment) but the two standouts are Scrivener for Mac OS X and RoughDraft for Windows, simple, straightforward, laser-guided writing software.

Scrivener has more features and eye candy, and carries a $35 price tag. RoughDraft is simpler and free of charge.

I shall check out RoughDraft immediately.

Unlimited public transport access

Exploration is about the most useful activity a writer can indulge in.

Didn't I already post about this? Public transport rocks for getting the writing down on paper, but this article also points out that a trip can also provide you with new sights and new material.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

TV - Inside and Backstage

So, this post by Denis McGrath over at Dead Things on Sticks is filled with optimism about what it's like to be working on a TV series. Some choice quotes:

Somebody once said that when you're doing TV, six is a mint; thirteen is a stretch; twenty-two is a war.

Somebody - it may have been my father - said years ago that one of the best ways to gauge the quality of a work experience is: Am I still learning? And the answer here is definitely, absolutely, yes.

... when you have professional actors, who really read the script, try to work their way through it and are trying to work with you to make it better, here is the single greatest thing they do:

They never let you get away with anything.

There's a whole lot more, including a section on the interplay between writers and directors which introduces the concept of "The Trade."

The Trade is where you look at the scene as it was shot and you suss out what was gained and what was lost. If you're lucky, you can make peace with what the director added and paper over or accept what was lost.

There is much wisdom here.

The Limit - working in longhand

The final polish is going smoothly but slowly. I'm making longhand notes, and I'm up to page 70 (out of 98). Then typing in the corrections, making final editorial decisions, and the proof and spell.

I've made an odd structural discovery that's going to necessitate a major costume change for one character in this last part of the script. Also, looking forward to the big & completely father-son scene that I'm going to have to create.

Jodi, thanks for the thought in the previous post.

Google - not just a verb, it's a monolith

Have I saved myself from wasting an hour a day online?

In the last 24 hours, I've created a gmail account, set up a Google Reader page, and swapped the blog over to the new googlised version.

I'm fairly happy with Reader. I've tried rss aggregators before, but the fact I'm on dial-up has meant they haven't been worth the time (I follow a lot of blogs, and that makes the search time very slow). Reader seems to have a few issues with creating folders (it's not intuitive or all that easy) and with marking everything as read (as far as I can tell, you can't do it). However, I'll keep exploring it.

[Edit: Ah-hah! Marking something as read is as easy as pressing the spacebar a couple of times.]

Also, thanks to Lee for fixing my PC. I'm now using the internet at normal speed again.