- The push continues. I have sixteen Astronomy Hacks completed
off to my editor, and another half dozen or so nearing completion.
Thanks to everyone who's sent me suggestions, corrections, and so on.
If I haven't responded in detail, it's not because they're
unappreciated. I collect all comments in a bin and then incorporate all
of them in one final pass per hack.
I'll continue to post the hacks as I complete them over on the Subscribers' page.
Barbara and I have now been without upper-tier cable TV service for
about a month now, and haven't missed it in the slightest. (Actually,
Time-Warner didn't get someone out to disconnect the upper tier until
the 8th, but we stopped watching it as soon as we canceled the
service.) The television is seldom turned on nowadays, and evenings are
a lot more peaceful around here. We generally read and listen to
classical and Baroque music in the evenings.
I've just started re-reading Diplomatic
Immunity, the most recent book in Lois McMaster Bujold's
Vorkosigan saga. I've been re-reading the entire series in order, not
in publication order but in the order they're set. The woman can
flat-out write. Barbara has never been an SF fan, but I'm encouraging
her to start at the beginning of the Vorkosigan series and read her way
Bujold strikes something in me that very few authors do. In fact,
Robert Heinlein is the only other example I can think of. When I read
Heinlein, I want to know his
characters rather than just read about them. It sounds stupid, but I
want to be around them, to be friends with them. Oh, I know they don't
really exist in this multiverse, but in some multiverse they do exist,
just as Lazarus and Maureen and Deety and Jubal exist. If I could just
get there. And the same is true of Bujold's characters. I want to meet
and talk with Miles and Ekaterin and Gregor and Laisa and Aral and
Cordelia and Alys and Mark and Kareen and Drou and Kou and Simon and
Ellie and Elena and the rest. And, yes, even Ivan.
Bujold is a stunningly good writer. If you haven't read the Vorkosigan
saga, get yourself to bookstore or library and get started. You won't
regret it. I promise.
Tuesday, 22 February
- I'm still cranking on Astronomy
Hacks. I've fallen back into my usual practice. Instead of
writing one hack from start to finish, I'll start one, write for a
while, and then jump over and start another one. I'll write on that one
for a while, and then jump to yet another new one or start working
again on a partially-completed one. It seems a disorganized way of
doing things, but for me it works out best. I can write about something
while I'm thinking about it instead of losing the thought.
At the end of this month or the beginning of next, I'll stop and take
stock of where I am and where I need to be. I should be up to around 30
completed first-draft hacks by 1 March. During March, I hope to
complete about 30 more. The first 10 days of April will be the real
push. During those ten days, I'll be re-writing existing hacks,
incorporating suggestions from editors and readers, and perhaps adding
a few more hacks. I'll also be scrambling like mad to shoot images I
need and do other final cleanup. On 10 April, the book goes to
production, no matter what.
Incidentally, I want to thank all of you who've been sending me
suggestions for additions, changes, and corrections. I'm so under the
gun that I haven't had time to respond to all of them, but I do
appreciate your comments. Please keep them coming. I'm putting them all
in a bin, where I can run through them all at breakneck speed when I do
my final pass in April. It's helpful to me if you restrict yourself to
commenting on one hack per message and include the hack number in the
subject line. That way, I can sort them all by hack when I make my
final pass and not miss any of your comments.
The weather around here is atrocious. Today, the high temperature is
forecast to be 60°F. Tonight, snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Geez.
Still cranking away on Astronomy
Hacks, as I will be for the next couple months.
- Dan Spisak, one of Jerry Pournelle's kitchen cabinet, sent a
message to the backchannel mailing list that starts:
just spent the last seven hours trying to be a good samaritan for a
friend of mine who needed help cleaning up some adware/spyware from his
Windows 2000 system. The spyware/adware won.
To which I replied:
Sounds like pretty good evidence to me that Windows is not ready for
I no longer even attempt to clean up Windows systems for family and
friends. Instead, I strip their systems down to bare metal and install
Xandros OCE. If they absolutely need Windows for gaming or something, I
set their systems up to dual-boot, but explain to them that it's
absolutely necessary to disconnect the Ethernet cable before they boot
So far, I've yet to have anyone become infected after I've fixed their
Barbara took Duncan to the vet this morning for surgery. Duncan is to
be neutered, at age 10. The bald patch on his rear end where he had a
tumor removed some months ago remains bald. After consulting with our
vet and another vet who's a friend of ours, the conclusion was that the
likely cause was a testicular tumor.
Duncan is now completely terrified by vet visits. We talked about
having tests done, but that would have involved multiple trips to the
vet, and the likely outcome was that he'd have to be neutered anyway,
so we decided to spare Duncan the anguish of multiple vet visits and
just have it done immediately.
We'll pick Duncan up late this afternoon. Poor guy.
- Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention. I'm going to be on the Computer Outlook Talk Show
again this evening, from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. EST. They stream the feed on
the Internet, if anyone is interested in listening.
- Yesterday was pretty exhausting. Barbara took Duncan in for
surgery in the morning. When she got home from work, we drove over to
the vet's office to pick up Duncan. He's doing fine. But when we
returned home about 5:00, there was a message from Barbara's dad on the
answering machine, timestamped at 4:50. All he said was "Barbara, are
you there?" and his tone of voice really worried Barbara. She tried
calling back immediately, and got no answer.
At 8:00, I went downstairs to do the one-hour radio interview on
Computer Outlook Talk Show. At 9:00, I came back upstairs and
immediately knew something was badly wrong. Barbara had used her cell
phone to talk to her sister and learned that her dad had taken her mom
to the hospital at 5:20. Barbara didn't want to interrupt my interview,
so she sat upstairs worrying herself sick until I finished at 9:00. She
took off immediately for the hospital, and I sat around worrying about
her mom, who is in her late 70's and has some persistent health
problems. Eventually, I tried calling Barbara's cell phone, but she had
it switched off. Barbara finally got home around 11:30 and said that
her mom was back at home. They're going to do some more tests today,
but it seems the danger is past for now.
I told Barbara this morning that, although I appreciated the thought,
she really should have come downstairs and interrupted me. I'd have
said, "Sorry John. Gotta go." and that would have been that. Instead,
Barbara sat upstairs worrying for I don't know how long, waiting for me
to get off the phone. At least her mom is doing okay now. I hope it
turns out to be nothing serious.
- John Dvorak is almost totally clueless. Has been for years. In
fact, he's so reliably so far off base that if if he happens to write
something I agree with, I immediately re-examine my assumptions to
determine where I erred. But this one
takes the cake. His arguments remind me of a bunch of Albanians
sitting around discussing how they too could have nukes if only they
could figure out how to make chicken shit fissionable.
Go on. Read the article. If you don't see at least ten howlers in it,
you either know nothing about operating systems, the GPL, device
drivers, abstraction layers, and virtual machines, or you have
absolutely no sense of humor.
Saturday, 26 February 2005
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 by Robert Bruce Thompson. All