Change of Screenery

technology2I have owned a iMac for five years now.  At the time, I figured that if nothing else, the improved hardware would be worth the expense.  It has been a pleasant experience for the most part…mainly because I installed Windows 7 onto it.  Thus, I don’t have to deal with OS X unless I really have to…like when I’m publishing an e-book to the iBookstore.

OS X is nice, but when I need to Get Things Done, I find myself gravitating back to Windows.  I also own a Windows laptop and thanks to The Cloud (or OneDrive to be more precise), I can easily keep my files in sync between my various devices instead of relying on the ol’ ‘sneaker-net’ like I used to back in my netbook days.

I will concede that the Mac is good at certain things, like organizing pictures and iTunes and all that good ‘not-computery’ stuff.  I also like that Time Machine keeps a full backup of my system in the event that something awful happens.  While I (fortunately) haven’t put it to the test yet, I have faith that it will work as advertised.  Sadly, my lack of being in OS X means I’ve accumulated quite a few pictures that I haven’t file away yet for safe keeping or kept very well organized, for that matter.

And so I have decided to start using my Mac, as, well, a Mac.  My 12″ laptop will serve as my ‘desktop PC’ and so I will be able to finally get all my pictures organized and keep all of my music in one place for what that’s worth.  Of course, when there’s Serious Work to be done, I’ll be booting back into Windows 7.  I’ve even gone as far to consider buying a new Windows desktop for the first time in a number of years.

Windows 8 makes that proposition a little trickier than it should be, but not for the reason you might suspect.  As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t mind Windows 8; the 8.1 update has made it much more usable with a keyboard and mouse (TIP: On the Start Screen, click the arrow pointing down to easily find all of your programs).

My issue is that I kinda want a touch screen.  The Metro/Modern user interface is made for touch and having (literally!) poked at Windows 8 on Windows tablets I’ve grown to appreciate it for what it is.  The issue is that touchscreen monitors are expensive and ‘all in one’ computers generally don’t have as much horsepower as a tower.  While I am not a big gamer, when I’m rendering a video it would be nice to not have to wait a half hour for it to finish.  There’s also something about having some  BIG IRON sitting under my desk chugging away at Important Stuff.

I’m tempted to build a new PC from scratch, but part of me says ‘I don’t have the time’ and the cost savings isn’t quite as dramatic as it used to be.  In the end, I may end up going to Ye Olde Eletronics Store to plunk down a few c-notes for a tower.  While I may lose nerd points for that, I’m pretty sure I don’t have many left after buying that iMac in the first place. 😉

More Than Words

writingI have two projects that I haven’t been looking forward to working on, but carry on I must.  The first is a fiction story that involves the death of a character and the second is the follow-up to “The Rules of Tech Support.”

The reason I haven’t been looking forward to working on those projects is that working on stories that hit a little too close to home or that are sad can have an effect on me.  It may have happened before without my noticing it, but while working on a short story named “The Best Job In The World” for “Nine To Five Lives,” I noticed that I began feeling increasingly angsty at work.  I was even more angry and bitter than usual and it wasn’t until I finished the first draft of the story that I got over it.

I talked to a psychologist friend about it after the fact.  I asked him:  if reading fiction affects people in some way, wouldn’t writing it have an effect on those that write it as well?  He agreed, saying that something similar had happened to him when he was writing.

In all honesty, I think I am going to have a harder time writing the second tech support book.  While I can easily disconnect myself from a fictional character, I live tech support forty hours a week, which means I can probably look forward to being full of piss and vinegar for the next few weeks.  I could stop writing about work, but the insanity that the general public brings to the table is too rich of a vein of material to ignore.  I guess I’m stuck!

Second Lives

chris_the_watch_fur_by_chrisholm
A real stinker

As a creator, you never know how your works are going to be received.  Things done on just a whim can become your Next Big Thing while your Magnum Opus sits next to it unloved despite all of the blood, sweat and tears that have been (metaphorically, I hope) poured into it.  You release your art into the wild and it’s up to John and Jane Q. Public to sort it all out.

In the same way that ‘stories write themselves,’ characters can take on a life of their own.  “Chris the Watchfur” was intended to be a one-off character in a conbook story titled “The Tell-Tale Tie,” which can be found in the upcoming Con Fluff 2.  The story and character were inspired by my friend Chris Holm, who took it upon himself to draw the character.  A friend also drew the Watchfur as part of an artist Secret Santa, and when I later needed a villain for another conbook story, he made yet another appearance, this time as a supervillian with time-based superpowers.  Oddly enough, other characters I have written for the explicit purpose of  writing a series of stories with them have not managed to escape the confines of their first story.

Not bad for a one-off character, and a crook, no less!

Free Comic Book-Less Day

fcbdFree Comic Book Day was today, and like many of us, I got excited and headed out to my friendly neighborhood comic shop to score some loot. The line at Heroes and Fantasies was crazy long and stretched all the way to the back of the building that houses the store.  I stood in line for a while and jawed with some fellow readers.  After about fifteen minutes, a woman came around to announce that the line was for the free comics only and if we wanted to shop we could just go inside.

At that point, I figured that I didn’t really need the freebies and headed inside to do a little shopping and see Zip Alegria and Eric Matos, two friends that have recently signed on with Guardian Knight Comics, a new publisher that recently sprung up in San Antonio.  I wanted to see just what they were up to and to wish them good luck in their new venture.  Along the way, I ran into some other friends, including comic artists Alfredo “Freddy” Lopez and David Hutchison.  I hadn’t seen a few of those folks in quite some time, and it was good to see what they were up to and shoot the breeze for a bit.  There were also lots of cool cosplayers dressed up as various characters and I had a lot of fun talking shop and seeing everyone have a good time.

While I suppose I could have snuck around and snagged a few books, I decided not to.  I already read comics, so Free Comic Book Day is ‘preaching to the choir’ as far as I’m concerned; those books are better off going to potential new readers.  While I went home empty-handed in terms of comics, I had a fun time, and isn’t fun what its all about?