Sunday, May 25, 2014

Windows 8.1

Just when I had my XP box perfectly clean and functional, the motherboard blew.

So now I have a new laptop. I tried to convince Sara to switch to Apple months ago, but failed. As her partner it is my duty to follow her even unto darkness. Hence I have endured the maelstrom which is Windows 8.1

I don't get all the hate. I mean, sure, Win 8.1 is a gratuitously insulting piece of software that reduces people to incandescent rage whenever they try to do the simplest tasks; but that describes every version of Windows. As far as I can tell, same as it ever was.

The laptop came with 8; updating to 8.1 was free, if you don't count the nine hours of my life it consumed. The next day I was treated to the new, improved blue screen of death; after my laptop booted to the the desktop, a huge blue banner overtook the screen with the message "Please wait."

Chump that I am, I did wait for 45 minutes before going online on a different computer to see what nefarious update had effectively bricked my computer. After a few hours, I managed to boot to safe mode (so that virus protection was disabled) and then perform a restore point (the first restore attempt having failed due to the aforementioned virus protection. I would point out it was Microsoft's own virus protection, but that hardly needs to be said).

I cannot imagine what went through a professional engineer's mind when they were designing that "Please wait" screen; did the concept of a timeout (hey, we've spent half an hour at this and it's still not working, maybe we should let the user have his computer back) never occur to them? Is this a technology that Microsoft is unaware of? On the other hand, I can imagine a psychotic sadist designing it. Mind you, it's not simple greed or laziness; the lazy thing to do would to let the computer boot despite whatever perceived problem, and leave the user to the winds of fate. But no; Microsoft chose to exercise considerable effort in ensuring that your otherwise perfectly functional computer would be rendered useless, and they spent a lot of time making sure you couldn't sneak your way around it.

I have my limits, however; I shall not follow the wife into the screeching hell which is OneDrive. Manually backing my files up to the cloud every day is a right royal pain in the ass, but it doesn't leave me weeping with hatred on a weekly basis.

I do, however, envy GRRM. Not for his fame, which is a fickle favor bestowed by the gods; but for his wisdom in writing on a DOS box in the first place. If only my editor would accept Word Perfect files...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Photo shoot for SotBL

Here's an interesting You-Tube video: Gene Mollica shooting the cover for Sword of the Bright Lady. A chance to see a great artist in action - and a long-suffering model wearing the most confusing collection of gear. But he wears it so well!

At one point Lou sent me an email stuffed with incredibly gorgeous male models to choose from, and I had to ask the womenfolk for advice. If only they would show so much interest in my manuscripts.

Ironically, the sword itself did not make on to the cover, which I realized after the fact was perfectly appropriate. I must confess we took some artistic liberties: technically the revolving rifles don't appear until the 2nd book (and also my protagonist is not nearly so young and handsome until then), while this specific shot is from the long march at the end of the 1st book (where he's just about to shoot.... oh, wait, spoilers).

Oh, I guess you probably want to see the final product. We asked Gene to capture the same gritty drama he did for Promise of Blood, and he delivered. I love the white background, the gun (he had to buy it just for this shoot), and most of all Keithen's thousand-yard stare. Gene sure knows how to make a model look like he's been through hell and back. :D

sword of the bright lady mc planck