Sunday, 26 April 2015

Caves, Culture and Creepy Muses

The word of the week is resplendent.

April 20 – Monday Feedback

Another month, another chapter of Book 2 reviewed!

Perhaps ‘reviewed’ isn’t quite the correct word: feedback was given and well-received.

As mentioned previously, I'm juggling quite a few things in this sequel to The Thirteenth Helliion and I often worry about balancing everything. I have more than half a dozen groups of characters whose stories I have to interweave in a way that leaves none of them behind while the plotlines unfold: I cannot allow the reader to become disinterested in any one of them or the whole fails.

That's a big task.

Good advice is worth repeating. So here you go.

At the same time, I'm enjoying it immensely, at least when I can actually sit down and block out the world for an hour to in a contiguous block of time. It hasn't been easy last few months, but at last the distractions are falling by the wayside and I'm getting more writing time in now.

Soon enough the only thing I'll be doing is writing and working and I can't describe how heavenly that sounds. Toss in some regular sleep here and there and I'll be a happy camper, no question.

April 21 – Spaceflight?

I really, really want to travel to the stars.

It's immeasurably frustrating to know that such a thing might happen in my lifetime but I'll likely be too old to set foot on another planet, as interstellar travel will probably still be for the few even then.

But still, knowing that it might actually be possible is a thrill unto itself!

You may have heard about experiments that have been conducted in the last few years pointing towards the possibility of faster than light travel. Even 10 years ago, such a thing would have been scoffed at by even the most open-minded scientists in related fields, but times change as advances are made - such is the stuff of science fiction become science fact.

A cousin of the EmDrive, the more powerful VASMIR - same idea.

A recent experiment, so recent that it has yet to be duplicated and verified - has opened even wider the door to the possibility of superfast star travel. Called the EmDrive( great name! )the experiment is another small step on what seems to be a very long ladder towards making interstellar flight a reality. Rather than depending on wormholes, like in the recent movie Interstellar, humans would create their own method of traveling to the stars.

For now, it's all just theory and a couple of promising experiments, no more. It could be decades or even centuries before we managed to create a safe and stable method of traveling around our own solar system, yet alone to other stars to set foot on world no human ever thought we'd see in a million years.

Yet we can still dream.

April 22 – Browser Redux Racing

I used to love racing games; still do, in some ways.

Back in the early ‘glory’ days of computer games, there was no better way to show off the power of a particular system then to load up a racing game and crank the speed up to crazy. Every ounce of graphical power that a console or PC build possessed would go into rendering approximations of liquid-smooth movement on the screen which fooled the eye into thinking that you were truly racing: on a track, in space or in some fantasy world with lots of eye candy going on all around.

One of the earliest games to do this right was WipeOut on the PlayStation One, which went on to spawn an entire series of games from Sony across various platforms.

There are many fans of the Wipeout series and although I came late to the party, there were enough other games to satisfy my urge them to go fast while sitting still. I don't actually have any racing games on my computer anymore, as I seem to have developed a form of mild motion sickness over the years and can't enjoy them very long – ah well.

One fan has spent a considerable amount of time converting the old game data to files that modern systems can read and made the tracks for the original Wipeout available to view on any browser - quite the feat of programming, if you ask me. If you want to view the tracks, just click here.

April 23 – Malala

How can you get a Nobel Peace Prize, you ask?

Stand up for what you believe in and be willing to put your life on the line the back that up. There's a fine line between fanaticism and belief and it's drawn with courage combined with compassion for every person you meet.

Nobody alive today more exemplifies this than 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai of Afghanistan, whose life was almost snuffed out by the Taliban and in order to silence her message of tolerance and equality.

In this exclusive, unedited interview, "I Am Malala" author Malala Yousafzai remembers the Taliban's rise to power in her Pakistani hometown and discusses her efforts to campaign for equal access to education for girls. Malala Yousafzai also offers suggestions for people looking to help out overseas and stresses the importance of education.

I don't know that I would have the courage or the maturity to do what she's done at her age, or any age for that matter. Believing as she does that education is the key to her country's future, it's humbling in the extreme to see how she has inspired millions in the face of religious fanaticism.

If enough people believe in something good, then evil will fade, though never fast enough.

April 24 – Underground Art

I've always wanted to go see prehistoric cave art, but there's a catch: almost all of its in caves.

Caves are inconveniently located, usually far away from major modern population centers and things like airports or transportation routes. Heck, most cave art is in countries other than Canada, such as in the middle of Arizona USA and Europe.

Some of the most famous examples of prehistoric cave paintings are in France, a country I'd love to visit and to spend some of that time looking at images created by humans tens of thousands of years ago. But again, most of those paintings are inaccessible, locked away behind security doors to preserve them against the damage that millions of visitors caused simply by breathing. It's and unfortunate result of too much humidity being introduced to the delicate environment of the case by tourists, which have irreparably damaged some of the most fragile types of these paintings.

Enter modern technology with a way to simultaneously make the paintings accessible to millions of people who want to see them firsthand while preserving them for future generations: make copies. And not just any copies, but full-blown 3-D recreations of the paintings and the cave that they were in.

This kind of dedication to art and culture is important to note, as we live in a world that still contains many who feel that such things are frivolous, to be disposed of it inconvenient to the ‘truths’ or beliefs that they want to espouse. The preservation of the past, especially its most fragile parts, is vital for future generations so that they can make their own interpretations of what was.

We don't live in caves any more and some people in today's world need to realize that.

April 25 – Microlofts

Well, will you look at that: more tiny homes snuck under my radar into Victoria!

Right downtown to, and an area I normally frequent near where I work. Apparently there's plans to convert the old Dominion Hotel into almost 100 small – and I mean small – units called ‘microlofts’ along with some traditional one bedroom and even a two-bedroom apartment. Here's a concept of what the kitchen area of such a small space might look like:

The idea looks promising, similar to other projects already underway in the city like the Janion, which promises to deliver suites under 300 square feet for $110K, quite affordable for singles such as myself. I would hope that the soundproofing in any such units would be up to modern standards.

As always though, the proof will be in the pudding and where you want to live will depend on what you're willing to put up with in your neighborhood. Being downtown, you always trade-off accessibility to local amenities for a lack of sirens and general traffic noise, including pedestrian traffic wandering home from bars at two in the morning.

I'm sure there's a happy medium for me somewhere around here; I just have to find it.

April 26 – Auto Awesome what?

What the heck is Google up to now?

I have quite a few things running on Google these days, as most people do. Gmail is my go-to email, Google Calendar keeps me organized and Google News filters things down to what I want to see. Not to mention YouTube, the occasional Google Doc and Google Drive for storing things.

Yesterday I had a message pop-up asking if I wanted to back up my phone’s images to Google Drive, which made sense to me as I wasn't really using the 100gb of space there for much, being a Dropbox devotee. Plus, it never hurts to have another backup of images, these days

Imagine my shock when I received a few notifications from Google today asking if I wanted to see some AutoAwesome images it had pulled from my thousands of uploads. Was Google somehow becoming psychic after dining on the images I'd give it access to? Kinda creeped me out a little, but I bit my lip and took a look. To my surprise, I liked what I saw:

This was originally 3 images

Google Photos had located a series of similar images of New York City skyline I'd taken from the top of the Empire state building and stitch them together to form the panoramic image you see above. All by itself, it has assembled various ‘choice’ photos, created a few animations and even several stories based on( I think ) when a series of photos were taken.

Creepy, right?

All the same, I'm impressed by what the technology did by itself and curious as to what else it can do. A few years ago I dismissed Google+ as unnecessary as are ready have an active FBook account, but now I may revisit my Google account to see what hidden features might be useful to me.

Google's watching me anyway, don't you know…

April 27 – Where’d THAT come from?

It's been another busy weekend, but that's all right; I've accomplished a fair bit, all told. Seeing as the weather wasn't so great, I spent most of my time inside and at home doing what needed doing.

Some of that doing was writing up the handout for tomorrow night's meet up, where I'll be presenting on the topic of Horror, which quite honestly I'm not that familiar with. Not being a big fan of gore or things that make my heart stutter with shock, I've not read much for apart from the occasional Stephen King novel over the years and the same goes with films: on first thought, Friday the 13th is just a date to me, not a slasher flick.

All the same, or is something that's with us in our everyday lives, cropping up when we least expect it and definitely when we would least welcome it - not that I'd welcome it anyway. Along those lines, a home about horror popped into my head fully-formed this afternoon out of nowhere:

It's things like this that encourage me as a writer, as it shows that my Muse happily works on things while I'm engage in other activities that aren't particularly creative but still necessary. It's almost like I have another mind inside my own, protected while it works from the distractions of the every day and being fed by the occasional morsel that trickles through all the noise.

This week coming will be, I hope, one of just writing, as I've no other plans. Hopefully.