Tag Archives: Writing

I won NaNoWriMo 2016

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winnerIt only took ten years, but I finally won NaNoWriMo.

If you’re not familiar it’s National Novel Writing Month. The goal is start Nov. 1, and by the end of Nov. 30 have 50,000 words written.

Every year for the last ten years I’ve at least done something. Some years it’s been open the site, be too busy to dedicate myself to writing, and close the site. Some years I’ve started writing, either something new, or picked up something I’d started randomly in the year. I’d get various amounts of words in, miss a day, then two, then four then I’d see that I was so far behind the average per day needed to win, I’d give up. Ten Years.

This year, my friend Tom and I both decided we’d do it again, both agreed to give it our all. I was especially motivated because a few months before Tom had shared a manuscript he wrote some 15 odd years before, and after reading it, I was more energized to create my own.

capture-2016-12-01-at-12-33-32-pmI don’t know what was different this year, other than being a bit lighter than usual on “stuff to do” work wise. But I was able to start strong, and even when I fell behind a few times, it was never so much so that it became impossible.

I actually thought I’d crush it over thanksgiving, but did the exact opposite, then when I was in the final week, the little author dashboard on the NaNoWriMo site was like at this pace you’ll finish on Dec. 2. “SO CLOSE” So I made time, and pushed through. I crossed the “finish” line around noonish on the last day.

I think one factor of the win was that I finally found an app I enjoyed using to write. I’ve tried most every app out there aimed at authors, and haven’t loved any. Some of come close, some haven’t, some have simply gone away. Scrivener, is here to stay, the iPad app is great for when I wanted to try to add a few more words but didn’t have my laptop, the Mac app is fairly intuitive to use.

Until the last week, I wasn’t sure I’d finish on time or finish at all. I have to say I’m pretty darned pleased with myself. My plan is to let it sit a week or two, then go back over the story with an eye for cleaning things up. Then anyone who’s interested may read it (warning it’s Sci Fi). Then Maybe I’ll toss it up on Amazon. Who knows.

Any how, wanted to share, because like I said, I’m pretty pleased with myself.

My First Day with Pebble Time

IMG_1768I lingered around the house yesterday before heading out for a work function just so I could get my new Pebble Time. WORTH IT!

I backed the Time the moment i heard about it. No regrets, it’s a nice piece of kit, at least so far in my first half a day ish, I’m really enjoying it as a smart watch.

The screen is (as most tech journo’s have said) not as crisp as say the AppleWatch, but that’s not terrible. It’s all kinds of readable in any light, at almost any angle. That’s a big deal for me. While i love the shake to light feature, I like not needing it very often.

IMG_1756I’m kinda torn on the body. I liked the sleek look of the original Pebble a lot, I suspect I’ll get used to the new style, but I do miss the seamlessness of that first gen. What I do like is the buttons. I like that they’re formed into single line vs. being three distinct buttons.

Also, the new body is definitely eye catching, a friend last night noticed it immediately, and asked what it was.

I like the little “thank you” that Pebble added to the back case for those of us who backed the original as well as the Time, kinda cool, makes mine (and thousands of others) a little unique.

The watch app that accompanies the new Time is much improved over the original. It’s not yet in the iOS app store (I’m running a beta at the time I’m typing this). Hopefully it drops soon, as Time isn’t compatible with the original Pebble management App. That’s a bummer for those who’re receiving their Pebbles this week.

The app itself is much improved aesthetically. You can see each face, a quick tap on a check box and the face is loaded or activated if it was already there. You can even set a default face that is your final destination when pressing the back button. I hated accidentally going past my preferred face to another, then having to click back to it, so that’s nice.

Depending on the face you can manage it’s access to the time line feature that’s new to the Pebble OS, you can also more readily access any settings that might come with that face.

IMG_1770You can also allow access to calendars, and such, which then let’s your appointments flow into the time line. Handy for sure.

Apps are still a thing, and I’m sure it’s just me, but they feel more accessible, maybe it’s the upgraded storage. On my previous Pebble with only 8 “slots” most apps despite their utility competed for space with faces and other apps.

Apps like Leaf now feel easier to use and access, where i used to have to remember i had an app, it’s already second nature to think about it. Maybe because it’s summer and Denver skipped spring and went from cold and wet to hot, so I think about my house temps more, I dunno.

I’m excited by the potential for smart bands, I hope folks take advantage of that feature. Adding battery, sensors, etc via watches adds so much utility to the Pebble Time. Also open sourcing the files and letting the community get involved, shows a lot of love and respect for their users from the Pebble Team.

I’m very happy with the Time already, and envision a long run with this as my daily driver watch, sorry watch box, you’re going to have to wait a while longer.

 

I built an app.

IMG_0627Ok I didn’t. I guess I product managed an app :)

Tom and his team worked with me on “Edit Me“. I’ve helped get lots of apps launched (no shortage of 360|iDev and Flex apps out there, that I helped with), but this is the first “not a conference attendees app” app.

Edit Me, serves a real purpose. Ever had a text message, tweet, Facebook post, etc  that you wanted to run by someone before sending? Maybe you’re a bit too heated, maybe too sad. Maybe just to check your tone, or make sure it’s not wildly offensive, etc. Or just to have a friend proof read it for you. Well that’s what we set out to solve with Edit Me.

The idea is pretty straightforward, i’ve got some short form text i want to run by someone before sending it, (Flying Spaghetti Monster knows I often need it)

3-5_1You fire up Edit me, pick your friend who’ll be the editor, throw in a title, and add your text. Off it goes. What’s cool is you and/or the recipient don’t need to register, the exchanges and notifications are bound to device not yet another set of user credentials. When they get the email it’s got an app URL (if they don’t there’s a link to get the app first) and it’ll pull up what needs to be edited.

Something more robust like users may come later, same for more granular edits, right now you offer up your edits and they’re accepted or rejected en masse. There’s no (yet) “Change this word or sentence” it’s “here’s my version of the entire text you sent” even if the change is only one or two words. We wanted to launch what we thought was the most useful version one we could, with plans to do a lot more cool things to the app as we go.

4_5I’m really excited about Edit Me, and find it really useful.

We also want to make a Mac version, which I think is going to be even more useful. While I do often need short form editing/proof reading, I do that a lot more on my mac than my iDevices.

Price: Not free. We went with $.99 because well free isn’t a sustainable model. We think Edit Me has value and utility, and is worth something. Plus really, isn’t not saying something stupid on the internet worth $.99?

NO IAP. While I won’t use the blanket “IAP is the devil” I will say when I am looking for new apps and games, seeing the “Contains In-App Purchase” label makes me think twice before even tapping to see the details. We wanted to make an app that was useful as it is, and requires no extra purchase.

If you’ve ever sat and looked at your messages, twitter or facebook app, and wondered “Should I send this, is mom going to get mad?” Edit Me is probably worth $.99 to you. Because then you could easily ask your sister or friend.

My kingdom for a Stylus

Well maybe a sub-kingdom, or duchy i don’t care about. My pal Terry wrote up a review of the Pencil by 53, which got me thinking about my next stylus. Terry did an awesome job and even did a tl;dr; flowchart for deciding if Pencil is right for you. In his view (and I agree after playing with his for 5 minutes) unless you use only Paper, and don’t care about exact precision, and have money to burn, don’t bother.

Next, yes. I have more than one.

I’ve tried the shit ones, with the nub made of foam.. they’re all crap. Squishy, weird, not remotely precise and of course not “smart”.

touch_pen_square_silveralloy_400x400_db_120516.mediumI have a Touch Pen that i like quite a bit. It’s also not “smart” but it’s capable. For one it’s just a nice pen, and I love me some pens. It’s my go to pen, i cary it everywhere, even when I’m not carrying my iPad. It’s just a damn nice pen.

As a stylus, it’s ok. It’s not as squishy as those foam jobs, but definitely very squishy still. It’s a rubber tip that works the same as the foam crap. It has a large tip (he he) so precision is nonexistent. I kickstarted it, because the makers are cool and I know they don’t make crappy stuff. I doubt I’d pay retail, but right now they appear to be on sale for $20, I’d pay that. If nothing else it’s an awesome pen, and a usable stylus.

a0367e31ec3e734e486187410995e957_largeMy ‘next’ stylus has me really excited. It might even arrive this week, who knows. It’s another kickstarter project, the TruGlide Apex. As with all kickstarter projects there’s a fair bit of hope involved. What i liked about this was that it’s “smart” in the sense that it’s BT and powered. It’s not made by an app maker and they’re working with app makers to add support. My hope is that they continue working with app makers, and that the apps I love (and those that don’t exist yet) leverage this tool. I also like that the tip isn’t huge and foamy. The site explains how it works, but basically it generates a field that mimics a finger, while having a foot print much smaller. My biggest gripe is that I can’t write with other stylii because the tip is so big it obscures what I’m doing and makes me have to write much larger than i should.

When Pencil was announced i had two reactions; 1. that’s pretty 2. Shit, that means they likely won’t support many if any other ‘smart’ stylii. It’s also unlikely other apps would support Pencil, though who knows, maybe 53 will release (or have they and I don’t know) an API.

So yeah, having seen Terry’s Pencil, I’m really excited to try out my TruGlide (why does it have to sound like it’s lube??!) when it arrives.

I’ll post an update once it arrives and I play with it, in the meantime, what’s everyone else using for stylii? Please don’t waste anyone’s time with “If apple wanted you to use a stylus they’d sell one, your finger is just fine” posts. If stylii aren’t for you, great.

I wonder if Mark Millar watches movies?

I was catching up on my news feeds after traveling and came across this funny piece. Apparently Marvel Comics Consultant Mark Millar doesn’t think a Justice League Movie will work.

One reason, he argues “I actually think the big problem for them is the characters are just too out of date. The characters were created 75 years ago, even the newest major character was created 68 years ago, so they’re in a really weird time.

Captain America came out in 1941. While 75 year old characters are completely lame, out of touch, etc., it seems, 72 is the perfect age for relevance. I suppose Hawkeye might be a young character, but who the fuck likes hawkeye in the first place?

It’s as if he doesn’t bother watching movies made by DC (I can’t blame him, most suck, but still we know they’re out there. “Now the stuff I grew up with… I adored the DC stuff growing up but really, how do you do a movie about Green Lantern. His power is that he manifests green plasma from his imagination and uses them as weapons against someone? Even that in itself if you just imagine then watching a fight scene with a guy who’s like a hundred feet away making plasma manifestations fight someone – it’s not exactly raucous, getting up close and personal.

Well, we already had a GL movie, it sucked but that wasn’t a fault in the character of GL. What I really like is that a movie based on a character who makes mental projections ‘could never work’ yet X-Men with Professor X, the worlds most powerful telepath who in theory could reach into the bad guys minds and shut them down, and Jean Grey a powerful telepath and telekinetic, who could do the mind thing if she wanted or just fling people against walls. has had several movies made, with more to come. All more than a few minutes, and with plenty of raucous up close and personal fighting.

The Flash has door handles on the side of his mask and if he doesn’t wear that mask, I’ll be pissed off, you know what I mean? 

Captain America has wings on his head shaped almost identically to Flash’s door handles. Wait a minute, no in the movies those were turned into painted on decals on a helmet. Good for the goose, not the gander I guess.

He goes on to rip on Aquaman, rightfully so, sorry Author you’re pretty much a weak link, and I guess if Marvel pretends Namor doesn’t exist it’s fine. I wouldn’t want a Namor movie, but he has off and on, been an Avenger… so…. Glass houses  Mr. Millar.

Lastly “The actual logistics of each member of the Justice League is disastrous, and you put them all together and I think you get an excellent way of losing $200 million.

So

  • Batman (already hugely successful movie franchise, and having low to zero CGI requirements)
  • Superman (ok, not so great in the movies beyond the awesome Christopher Reeves, but really just Iron Man filming wise.)
  • Wonder Woman (Who’s been ignored wrongfully, but ignoring her flying powers of late wouldn’t be hard to do, compare her to Black Widow, but give her more strength)
  • Aquaman (just stay away from water and he’s basically hawkeye)
  • Flash (speed isn’t that hard to film. Probably no more than flight)

Could never work, too impractical. But,

  • Iron Man (we’ll compare him to batman as far as successful movies, and superman as far as on screen power)
  • Black Widow (not really hard to film, she has no powers or even weapons really. her stingers got used, what twice?)
  • Captain America (the first movie to me was lame, but he’s also pretty easy to film)
  • Thor (the first movie was… mmm meh, but not bad)
  • Hulk (he’s CGI. the previous movies from what I know are a bag of hurt)
  • Hawkeye (again easy to film, no powers)

work completely, why wouldn’t they? Duh.

So the two teams aren’t that dissimilar, yet somehow Millar thinks they’re completely un-filmable, unrealistic, etc.

I’ll grant you, the folks who make DC movies, botch the job more often than not. I don’t see DC giving someone like Joss Whedon the free reign he’d want. Though that said, we did end up with bat-nipples, so who knows. DC has a long road ahead to catch up to Marvel in the movies, but to dismiss the characters as silly or not filmable, makes me wonder if Millar read many comics as a kid or still does. The two companies universes are almost interchangeable as are the characters.

Ah well, i’m sure he’d get canned if he gave the competitor good marks.

The problem with eBook pricing

I saw this NYT blog post and retweeted it (props to @datingdad) with “Good for amazon”

My friend Dave (@courier_new) asked some questions clarifying my position, so I thought I’d write my thoughts up (not new here, check the eBooks category) in a bit more than 140 chars.

Publishers are fighting companies like Amazon on eBook pricing. Many have won with agency pricing. Agency pricing lets the publisher set the price and more often than not you see this.

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Best thing i ever bought. Thank you cards

This morning I’ve been writing thank-you cards. One of the best business purchases I’ve ever made (Thanks Nicole!!) was a whole buttload of blank 360|Conferences thank you cards.

Not only do we mail them after each conference to speakers and sponsors, but we use them through out the year. Right now I’m writing thank you’s for 360|MacDev speakers for a nice surprise I have for them. I’m also writing “I’m Sorry” cards for some mistakes in billing from 360|iDev to certain speakers. I’ve also sent them out when special thanks is required and an email just isn’t the right mode. I’m not some “paper is dying, we have to save it!” luddite, but there is something meaningful in the process of writing someone a note on paper and mailing it.

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