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Since LiveJournal seem to have terrible T&Cs now, and I wasn't quite ready to give up some of the old stuff on here (not without a good peruse first, anyway), I've moved everything over to DreamWidth. I don't know if anyone can actually find me on here anymore, but if you can, hi!
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So, I saw a hashtag, had a shufty. Had a daft idea for a very short story, and here we are...

It's a PDF, because frankly I like writing stuff with LyX and seeing it laid out as I meant for it to be laid out, not mangled by some html rendering engine.

The Race

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Following on from the snippet posted here, this is another chunk of the same story. I'm writing two at once at the moment, so you may get snippets of something set in mediaeval France too.

Read more... )
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Under the cut is the first few paragraphs of a new Doctor Who story I'm writing. Basically, I'm asking if it's worth continuing. I've no idea how long it will be, could be anything from short story to novella. Here's the taster, for your delectation:

Doctor Who: Foundling - Mr Snuggles Speaks )
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I've been able to spend some time tinkering with my aging iBook recently and one thing that's really starting to bother me is the ridiculously cramped screen. 800x600 just doesn't cut it anymore. So, I decided to see what I could do to change that. There are some published hacks whereby you can swap out the old LCD for one that's capable of a higher res, but having taken one of these things apart in the past, I'm in no particular hurry to do it again, so I thought I'd see what was possible with software. Turns out it's perfectly possible to get yourself an acceptable desktop on standard iBook hardware with nothing more than good old VNC.

If you're running linux on an old iBook like me, or if you've got one of those new-fangled eee-pc gizmos or similar, this might be of use to you. Basically, the idea is to use two VNC servers to firstly give yourself a desktop your hardware isn't capable of, then shrink it to fit. You'll actually need two different VNC servers to accomplish this, but it's not too much trouble and if you're using Debian or Ubuntu, they're both apt-getable. The recipe goes something like this:

Run your first VNC server to give yourself a larger than life desktop:
$ vncserver :2 -geometry 1024x768 -depth 16

Then run your second VNC server to shrink and re-present the first for your client:
$ x11vnc -display :2 -rfbport 5903 -scale 600/768

Finally, connect to the second server to see your scaled desktop:

vncviewer :3 -fullscreen

So, to recap, that's run me a new VNC server on display 2, at 1024x768, attach a new VNC server to that display, scale it to 800x600 and present it on display 3, and finally connect the viewer to display 3 to view the results.

It works pretty well. I'm typing this on my iBook, running the display at 1600x1200 and it's still readable and reasonably responsive (as much as this machine ever is).
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I don't know whether this missive will reach their ears, but I'd like to mention the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Thanks to them, and in part to what I'm going to call Divine Intervention, we now have oodles of good quality carpet with which to re-carpet the entire house. Sincerely, you guys rock. Special thanks to Livi's parents who organised the transfer of ownership of said carpet. You guys also rock.

Mar. 11th, 2009 12:16 pm


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Alan Davies has just bought my book! Dude! Henceforth I shall unflinchingly support him in all cases of mockery by the otherwise equally fabulous Stephen Fry, through the medium of shouting at my telly. And the book has now shot right back up the Amazon rankings again, so maybe the rollercoaster ride isn't over just yet! For any casual readers drawn in by Google, I'm talking about http://www.booksforbricks.com and the bizarre and wonderful set of incidents, consequences and happenstances that have since grown up around it.

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I seem to have accidentally done something rather cool. I got the email to tell me my new Bytemark hosting was set up this morning, and promptly dived in to set some stuff installing. I threw on the usual LAMP stack for the hosting requirements I already had, then told it to go get Mono, because I figured with an up to date Ubuntu distro I might stand a chance of hosting some .NET scheduled apps or daemons up there. I ended up with mod_mono installed as well, so I decided to test it. One quick demo app later and it turns out I can now host ASP.NET on the new box as well as PHP. Result! It's by no means as quick as PHP (though that might be subject to optimisation, I don't know yet), but it definitely works. If it works well enough I might just cancel the windows hosting I'd set up for the Sequoia projects and go with my own hosting. The Sequoia Solutions website will soon feature a blog where I'll try to put some interesting content up about once a week. I think I'll be doing a write up of the steps involved in getting this working for a start.

Bear in mind, this was done almost entirely unintentionally and took no more than 10 minutes from start to finish. I think that's pretty good for getting a working ASP.NET environment going, regardless of what the host OS is!

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The sales rank for the book has fallen through the floor finally, having been buoyed by publicity from various quarters, not least you guys. There's an event horizon for all publicity, a point beyond which the message won't escape, regardless of how loud you shout, and I think we might have reached it. I've tried to get in touch with people who could push it out further, but to no avail so far. People are still buying the book, and probably in greater numbers than they ever have before, but the initial rush seems to have died down. I still have no idea exactly how many books have sold, as Lulu won't get their figures together for a little while yet, but I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who's bought a book, donated their hard-earned money or promoted the books for bricks site. You're all brilliant, and we appreciate each and every one of you.

I'm going to keep on promoting, whenever I think of a new way to get the message out, so this is not the end, but I don't think I'm likely to see sales ranks of the kind I saw last week again. You took my little book and briefly put it amongst the big boys. It was outselling all sorts of relatively high-profile books and it felt really, really good, so thank you again.

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By all rights, I should have Blackberry Maps installed on my shiny new crackberry. My applications list tells me it's installed, the Blackberry Desktop software tells me it's installed, but I can't find it.

Apparently Orange hid it in an attempt to make people buy their execrable GPS solution, and there's a lengthy howto on getting it sorted out. Problem is it doesn't work. I've followed the instructions and still no maps icon.

Any of you crackberry equipped folks out there run into this one? It's pissing me right off.

Feb. 17th, 2009 01:26 pm


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I love my Blackberry. That is all.

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In a surprise non-"books for bricks" post, I'm going to tell you how I've decided to get my life in order and start scheduling things so I don't forget to do them and end up in a huge mess when I finally get around to it. I will be using my blackberry calendar (which is exactly the same as the treo calendar, oddly) and google calendar to manage this feat. I've already put some stuff in there. I'm hoping it will become a habit and I'll eventually just do this stuff automatically, but it's nice to have a bit of a prompt to start with. I blame NovaWildstar for this.

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For anyone who hasn't seen Dakegra's comment, the article from the paper is now available online at http://www.wigantoday.net/wigannews/Adam39s-books-for-bricks-idea.4978971.jp. I don't know whether it's had quite the impact the paper had, but my Amazon sales rank had once again jumped to about 6,000 yesterday. Some rough calculations I found on the 'net seem to indicate that this equates to roughly 5 or 6 purchases per day, which is pretty damn good.

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Actually it went out on Tuesday! I had no idea, but Liv managed to get hold of some yesterday. It's pretty good. I get nearly a full page. I'll scan it in and hopefully get it up on www.booksforbricks.com soon. I think that's probably the reason for the sudden surge in sales rank on Amazon. It's dropped back to 40,000 now, which is a bit disappointing, but hey, for a while there, my little book was a better seller than over 90% of the stuff on there.

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I've just contacted the BBC with the books for bricks story. I sent the same email to both Northwest Tonight and the local news page on bbc.co.uk. Hopefully someone there will pick it up as well. I know it's not as titilating as reading about who shot who in Manchester recently, but you never know...

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Thanks to all of you who've posted on blogs, forums etc and generally pimped http://www.booksforbricks.com, it's now got 97 unique referring sites, which I think is pretty good!

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Do Amazon review their reviews? It's just I know some people have written reviews, but they're not showing up on the site, nor are they showing up on Play as far as I can see. Oh well. If anyone wants to review it on Lulu, that might help too. I've recently ordered a few copies that I can give to people in person, but I think most of you will still be better off getting it from Amazon or Play or your usual online book store.

The Lulu page is: http://www.lulu.com/content/298829 in case you want it.

In other news, it appears Sir Parsley is outselling some editions of Arthur C Clarke's 2001 by several orders of magnitude, which rocks!

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I'm still trying to find ways to publicise the book (and now the website). I've just sent an email to Chris Evans at Radio 2, on the basis that you don't get anywhere by being timid. I'm also strongly considering trying to hack my way into Stephen Fry's awareness on Twitter, in that he has more followers than God, is likely to appreciate the sentiment of what I'm trying to do and if I'm honest, is someone I'd rather like to be on speaking terms with. Onward and upward!

In other news, the Amazon sales rank for the book seems to be falling again after reaching a peak around 5,008. Hopefully the publicity from the paper will give it a nudge again, and if I manage to get any radio exposure at all, it should rocket. Lord knows what would happen if I did actually get Mr Fry's ear...

News of the site does seem to have escaped the LJ/Twitter event horizon now and we're getting donations (and presumably book sales, though these are much harder to track) from people all over the world, so thank you to everyone who's helped so far, especially those of you who are involved with the website. This is more than I ever expected, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop now...

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