Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Mar 15 2012

The Ides of March

Published by under Mars,Uncategorized

So, on this day 2055 years ago (give or take a few days for calendar reform) Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by a bunch of senators (politics was more hands-on in those days) to prevent the Republic from turning into a dictator-led Empire. That worked well. Of somewhat more relevance, the Ides of March was a festival day for Mars, although for the god, not the planet.

Me, I’m in the middle of a major crunch in the day job, counting down to the cutover to a major reimplementation of our business software in a couple of weeks. By day (and sometimes night) I’m a senior analyst/developer for a major provider of satellite-delivered entertainment. This cutover is as complex as any satellite launch, except that we do that every year or two.

Which is by way of explaining my absence here lately, and for the next few weeks to come. (And by the time the dust has settled, it’ll be tax time. Oh joy.) More sometime in April, unless something exciting happens in the meantime.


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Jan 28 2012

COSine 2012 this weekend

Published by under Uncategorized,Writing

I’ll be in Colorado Springs, at the Crowne Plaza hotel, for this year’s COSine Science Fiction Convention. I’m not scheduled for any panels but I’ll be around at least for Saturday. It’s a small but fun con.

Who Else! Books will have a presence in the dealers’ room at the con, and they’ll have copies of my The Chara Talisman for sale — as well as a wide variety of other books, particularly by Colorado authors. On a related note, on Saturday, February 11, Who Else! is hosting a multi-author book signing at their Broadway Book Mall location (200 S. Broadway, Denver), and I’ll be there to sign copies of Chara or anything else someone wants me to sign. Well, excepting maybe blank checks.

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Nov 11 2011

In remembrance.

Published by under Uncategorized

It’s Veterans Day here in the US, Remembrance Day in Canada, the UK, and other commonwealth countries. Lest we forgetSometimes called Poppy Day, after the traditional symbol named from the poem “In Flander’s Fields” (where poppies grow…)

I have a book coming out today too — but that will keep.

To all veterans of the US, Canada, the UK and allied countries … thank you.

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Oct 22 2011

MileHiCon 43

Published by under T-Space,Uncategorized,Writing

Another MileHiCon — the Denver area’s annual SF convention — is underway. I have a full schedule this year, with four panels (FTL, collaborations, writing humor, and space mining), a reading — I share the slot with Kevin J. Anderson, which pretty much guarantees me an audience 😉 — an autographing — sharing the table with Vernor Vinge, so there’ll be a long line for one of us — and an interview for the Machine Readable podcast.

It promises to be a lot of fun, as always, and I get to announce the imminent release (on 11/11/11) of my novel The Chara Talisman, which I may have mentioned here once or twice already.

Hope to see you there.

(BTW, the astute among you may have noticed a gap here since the pre-Worldcon post. Mea culpa. There was plenty happening — Worldcon, Bubonicon, the report of possible FTL neutrinos, and more — and I took notes. But I didn’t immediately turn said notes into postings here, and a bunch of the other stuff happening (of lesser interest to anyone not me) got in the way. Some of those notes, particular on the possible superluminal neutrino observations, will make it here soon. Or perhaps I can figure a way to use superluminal neutrinos to post them a month ago. Cheers.)

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Aug 16 2011

Worldcon, here I come

Published by under Uncategorized

I’m frantically packing and otherwise getting ready to leave for Renovation, the 69th annual WorldCon in Reno. I’m behind schedule in just about everything else because of a whole bunch of other crap stuff going on in my life, but this weekend is for forgetting all that, meeting old friends, new friends, fans, fellow writers, editors, and generally having a good time. I fly out right after work tomorrow, and I’m taking the train (the California Zephyr) back — I haven’t taken a good long train ride in years.

I hope to see those of you who are attending, stop me and say ‘hi’. I’ll likely be wearing an aloha shirt, and my hair’s a lot shorter than Ed Bryant’s. 😉

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Apr 15 2011

My new Kindle

Published by under Uncategorized,Writing

I finally bought myself a real Kindle. I’ve been using Kindle-for-PC software on my laptop for about a year, but the actual device is much more portable. Also, I want to be able to see how my e-books and e-stories look on the actual device. (I’ll get a Nook, too, at some point. Meanwhile there’s a Nook reader for PC.)

How do I like it so far? Great, with some reservations. I bought the wi-fi only model, because (a) I’m cheap (the Kindle 3 with built-in G3 wireless access is $50 extra) and (b) having truly instant access to Amazon’s Kindle store is a little too tempting for me. (But not for you; of course you want instant access to buy any (all) of my e-books). Public wi-fi access isn’t quite as ubiquitous as one might hope, but then I don’t really need to be download while driving. Most coffee shops and fast-food places have wi-fi these days, so it isn’t really a problem. The included web browser (in the latest software) takes some getting used to — a gray-scale image, and no mouse or touchscreen means you have to move the cursor around with the “5-way” pointer key — but I could easily read my favorite blog sites.

The built-in text-to-speech software can read your e-books to you, if the publisher has activated that feature (I do with all of my books/stories). It sounds rather robotic, and occasionally messes up pronunciation, but it’s great, especially for non-fiction where dramatic reading and voice inflection isn’t so important. However, it doesn’t handle section headings or bullet-lists well. If the heading or list item doesn’t have a comma or period at the end, the Kindle software just keeps reading without taking a virtual breath, which can be a bit disconcerting.

These pronunciation issues are probably easily fixed with some tweaks to the text-to-speech algorithms. On the other hand, Amazon earlier had a dispute authors and publishers who (with some justification) claimed that this infringed on the audio performance rights. The current state seems a happy medium between providing for the visually impaired (as does the Kindle’s adjustable font size) and the improved quality of performance that a human reader could provide. (Amazon also provides for publishers to opt in or out of enabling text-to-speech when the Kindle version is prepared.)

For the tinkerers among you, the Kindle is easily “rooted”. Dropping the right files into the Kindle when it’s attached to a computer (via its USB cable) will update the OS to allow access to the Linux-based operating system using that same USB cable as a network connection. Mind, if you don’t know what you’re doing you could really mess up your reader that way. Details can be found at and looking for “usbnetwork” and “jailbreak”. Consider those vague instructions as the equivalent of a childproof-cap; if you can’t find it from that, you probably shouldn’t be messing with trying to root your Kindle. 😉

I’ll always have a soft spot for paper copies of books, but I find I’m using my Kindle more and more.

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Mar 05 2011

Wiped out

Published by under Uncategorized

It has been a crazy two weeks since my last post. When I posted that I had just gotten over what was “probably flu”, several days of fever and sleeping 20 hours a day. I had tax paperwork to catch up on and a couple of job interviews scheduled for the following week. So what happens Monday? I start the uncontrollable shivering and rapid temperature rise that began my earlier round of ‘flu. I was not happy, for multiple reasons.

As my temperature hit 104F my doctor directed me to the hospital emergency room, where they started pumping me full of fluids and ran a CT scan of my lungs. The (again, somewhat uncertain) diagnosis was pneumonia, with some other test results that were just odd enough that they wanted to keep an eye on me, so they checked me in for observation. So much for the job interview Tuesday, and — since they kept me in two nights — the other one on Wednesday. Fortunately both parties were understanding about rescheduling. Of course by Tuesday morning (thanks to IV fluids and antibiotics) I felt fine, but they didn’t want to send me home just then.

As it turned out, Tuesday’s interview — rescheduled to Thursday — went just fine. So well, in fact, that they called me late that afternoon with an offer and wanting me to start the following Monday.
This past week, then, has been my first week on the new job (Unix/Linux systems admin). Of course it’s hurry up and wait — I had to go through mandatory security training (again – we had to do it annually at H-P), fill out the usual ton of paperwork that goes with a new job, and wait for my background check to clear before they could give me access to the systems. All of which took most of the week. On top of all that, it was a busy extracurricular week for the kids: orchestra concert, high school sneak peak (Arthur and Robert start next year), school book fair, karate, and Girl Scouts. So here it is, two weeks later.

There’s been some interesting stuff happening. A couple of physicists show that wormholes could connect pairs of stars (I’m reminded of Pournelle’s “tramlines”), the Indian lunar probe Chandrayaan-1 has discovered a mile-long lava tube cave on the Moon, and I got a nice non-rejection for a story that may yet turn into a sale.

But more about that in a few days. In the meantime a reader has made some excellent suggestions for additions to this site, which I need to get working on.

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Jan 21 2011

Friday fragments

Published by under Uncategorized,Writing

It’s been an interesting week.

This weekend is the CoSine SF convention in Colorado Springs, which I’m currently missing, but I’ll be there tomorrow. GOH is Sharon Shinn. Several well known Colorado writers will also be there: Connie Willis, Ed Bryant, Wil McCarthy, Sarah Hoyt, and Kevin J Anderson, among others. CoSine always seems to be at a chaotic time for me (two years ago I ended up in the hospital that weekend) but always fun … when I can get there.

Award nomination season
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, it’s nomination season for various SF awards. I found out this week that I have at least one nomination (no, not by me) for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. It takes more than that to get on the final ballot, of course. I discovered Campbell’s Analog when I was thirteen, and it had a profound influence on me (and now I’m selling to Analog, how cool is that?). It’s cliche, but it really would be an honor to make it to the ballot.

Hunting the day job
Earlier this week I was called about a follow-up interview for a systems administrator position, a technical interview that apparently includes hands-on work to see how much I know my stuff. I’ve been brushing up on obscure corners of Solaris and Linux, the kind of stuff that fades from surface memory if you’re not doing it on a regular basis. Thank goodness for VMware, it let me set up a bunch of virtual Solaris computers on my Linux desktop; Solaris has outgrown all the spare physical computers I have sitting around. (By the way Sun/Oracle: if the minimum install memory is 539 MB please don’t say that it’s only 512 MB — it’s most annoying to go all the way through the install only to have the kernel panic on first boot because it can’t lock a (non-existent) memory page.) The interview is Monday, should be interesting and even fun.

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Jan 09 2011

A belated happy new year!

Published by under Uncategorized,Writing

I hope you all had enjoyable solstice festivities of whatever sort you celebrate, and that the new year is starting off well for you. My usual year-end chaos ran long this time around, aside from the usual (Christmas, my birthday, New Years, Jill and my anniversary). I had two separate job interviews this past week (which went well, but competition is tough; we’ll see) and a deadline for galleys to be proofread. Also a couple of doctor appointments (family and eye) — just routine checkups, although my eyeglass prescription is changing a little. All of which means I’m behind where I wanted to be on new writing and overhauling this website. (Although the more observant of you might have already noticed a minor change to the banner above.)

The writing/publishing industry is abuzz with the news of how well e-book readers sold over the holiday, vastly exceeding expectations. This (and the precarious fiscal position of Borders Bookstores) has a lot of writers, including yours truly, excited because all those new e-readers are going to need e-books (and e-short-stories) to fill them up. I’ve been prepping a couple more of my previously published stores to go up Amazon (here’s what’s available so far. I also mentioned them in an earlier post). I want to change a couple of the covers and also make the stories available for other e-readers like the Nook.

Among other resolutions, I’ve committed to finishing and submitting forty short stories and three novels this year. That’s not quite as daunting as it sounds, as some are in progress already (and is nothing to Dean Wesley Smith’s challenge of 100 stories on top of his usual novel writing schedule). I’m tempted to add a couple of Young Adult novels to my project list — they’re shorter, my kids are in the target age range, and I have a few ideas. But first I need to finish what’s in progress.

How about you? Taking on any interesting challenges in 2011?

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Dec 21 2010

Happy solstice, and Christmas chaos

Published by under Uncategorized

Happy solstice! For those of us north of the equator, the sun has stopped heading south and is coming back, hooray! (Okay, for the pedantic, the Earth has just passed the point in its orbit where its axial tilt points the north pole furthest from the sun. Either way, it means more daylight and eventually warmer temperatures.) For those in the south, hope you’re having a great summer.

Things have been a little more chaotic than usual this season, with my two boys working up toward their black belt exam this past weekend. They passed, but not without a lot of sore muscles. Part of the point of black belt is to push you to the limit and then a bit beyond. The exam started with 100 push-ups in less than four minutes, then 100 v-ups, then … but you get the idea. It finished with board breaking – 14 one-inch pine boards, some two at a time. But that was the fun part.

Between one thing and another I’m behind on posting here. I’m looking at overhauling the design of this site; I think it’s a bit too T-Space centric. I have more to offer than just that. More about what I have in mind as I get closer to relaunching the site. I’ve got some big plans for 2011, and some serious challenges to overcome to get there — but as my boys’ sensei says, the bigger the obstacles, the greater the sense of accomplishment.

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