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Posted by John Scalzi

As part of my continuing effort to justify the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription I have, I’ve been playing with my Audition audio software and learning how to use it. Today I learned how to make a multitrack file! Go me. I also played with the various filters in the software to distort and shape sounds.

All of which is to say I recorded a song today and it is very very noisy indeed. It’s “Here Comes the Rain Again,” which is my favorite song from the Eurythmics. Here it is (and no, it’s not actually nine minutes long, I don’t know why the media player says that. It’s, like, five):

Yes, that’s me singing. No, Annie Lennox doesn’t have a thing to worry about.

In case you’re curious, every noise on that track either comes out of me, or out of an acoustic tenor guitar. Audio filters are fun! Let’s just say I let my Thurston out to play, and if you get that reference, congratulations, you’re old too.

No, I’m not giving up my day job. Relax. But I do enjoy playing with sounds. This is fun for me.

In any event: Enjoy the noise.


fadedwings: (Kate Hawkeye sunglasses)
[personal profile] fadedwings
Title: No-Tell Motel California
Fandom: Marvel Comics/Supernatural
Characters: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester, Kate Bishop, America Chavez
Rating: Teen
Length: 3,479 words
Content Notes: no warnings apply. written for [community profile] fan_flashworks 
prompt: Loud
Summary: Sam and Dean find themselves in a world other than their own and need a little help finding their way home. Kate Bishop is hanging out in a motel in California and may just be able to lend a hand.
Ao3 Link

Read more... )

Blacklight Sunset

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:44 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Because sometimes it’s fun to play with Photoshop’s sliders and see what you come up with. This is what happens (in part) when you push the “dehaze” slider all the way to the right. The real sunset didn’t look like this (it looked like this), but I think it might be cool to live on a planet where the sunset did look like that, every once in a while.

Enjoy the weekend, folks.


SHREW

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:36 pm
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)
[personal profile] rydra_wong in [community profile] common_nature
Yesterday I got to see a tiny shrew very close-up and it was very exciting.

So I was sitting on a muddy path in a wooded area because of reasons (ok, exhausted after climbing) when I saw movement and a tiny thing scurrying past me. I figured that glimpse was all I'd see, but I turned round to see where it'd gone and it was on the path on the other side of me, and with great caution so as not to startle it I managed to dig my phone out of my coat pocket:

longshot in which a tiny shrew may be visible among rocks and moss

(There's nothing to give a sense of scale, but the shrew is a few centimetres long. It makes mice look big.)

THEN --

Cut for blurry close-ups and blurry worm death )

Just One Thing (22 July 2017)

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:24 pm
nanila: me (Default)
[personal profile] nanila in [community profile] awesomeers
It's challenge time!

Comment with Just One Thing you've accomplished in the last 24 hours or so. It doesn't have to be a hard thing, or even a thing that you think is particularly awesome. Just a thing that you did.

Feel free to share more than one thing if you're feeling particularly accomplished!

Extra credit: find someone in the comments and give them props for what they achieved!

Nothing is too big, too small, too strange or too cryptic. And in case you'd rather do this in private, anonymous comments are screened. I will only unscreen if you ask me to.

Go!

Oh my

Jul. 22nd, 2017 10:21 am
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
This morning I made pancakes and ate them on the balcony, and started reading Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. I'm only about two chapters in, and am already blown away by her prose and her... I don't know what to call it, exactly, but it's there in God of Small Things and it's there in this one, and I haven't found anything in between that quite tastes like they do.

Other facts:

- yesterday I spent 200 chf on a handbag. It's a very nice, very understated handbag made of good leather, so probably worth it. (There was a Fossil bag I liked, on sale, considerably cheaper, but it had suede panels and was probably more fashion-dependent.) Friend R went shopping with me, and I think I disappointed her: I did not want sparkles, or colour blocks, or quilt effects, or tassels, and most things with gold embellishments I thought were too overdone (for me: underdone for R, I'm sure). I kept gravitating to bags she described as 'my aunt has one like that'. Basically I wanted something considerably smaller than my satchel, that I can wear with a dress, and that won't draw much attention (so I can carry it with ANY dress. Or with a more masc outfit if I so choose).

- We then went prowling through the makeup section. I learned a lot of terrifying things about makeup. Again, a bit weird, because I'm attracted to makeup as a THING, but evidence proves I don't bother wearing it. R kept being like 'this would look good on you'. Well, yes. Except I wouldn't wear it. I bought some single-use face masque sheets from Sephora, though, and that turns out to be quite rewarding. I haven't had a good masque since I stopped buying clinque (the Sukin mud one may or may not have been good for my skin, but it didn't feel like anything on and was therefore a disappointment).

There have been some Girlfriend Situations in the past week that have varied from bloody brilliant (gosh I'm looking forward to seeing her!) to anxiety-hamster to quietly worrying.

Friday's Photos

Jul. 21st, 2017 09:20 pm
fadedwings: (alice we all mad here)
[personal profile] fadedwings
It's been too hot this week. In the 90s and humid. Not a great mix. So my mood is starting to drop, a lot, especially when combined with other issues. So, I ended up taking a lot of pictures today because it tends to cheer me up, or at least calm me down a bit.

The squirrels were not loving the afternoon heat from what I could tell and I managed to snap several pics of a few lounging in the trees. I even stepped off of the porch and took some of the pics from the ground under the trees. I also snapped several pics of sparrows and one of a robin. Oh, also a dragonfly up at the top of the dead tree.

I think this is my favorite picture of the day:

Squirrel snug in a tree.

The rest of the pictures (11 of them) are under the cut...Read more... )

Bah, computers.

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:14 am
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
[personal profile] davidgillon

So at the start of the month my laptop's power-supply and keyboard both turned dodgy within a week of each other. I sourced a replacement power supply off eBay, and I know I can get the keyboard, I just haven't ordered it yet.

But that reminded me that my desktop has been out of action for most of a year. It's on-switch had been getting gradually worse and it gave up entirely while I was away from home last summer. Making matters worse, the case design is dire and a metal clip  to hold the motherboard in place also pins the on-switch connector onto the motherboard (which is definitely powered, an LED lights when you plug it in). I finally found a way to get it out without trashing anything this spring, but the connector isn't wired in a straightforward manner, six wires feed seven pins of a nine-pin block, so you can't replace it with a standard two pin switch.

Ordering laptop bits made me realise I might be able to source a replacement switch, given I had the part number, and indeed I could. A fiver got me a brand new OEM switch, which arrived this morning. Plug it in, power on, and nada.... Looks like it's a dead motherboard, not a dead switch. Which means completely rebuilding the desktop. I have a much better case I can frankenstein components into, but at a minimum it means sourcing a new motherboard* and I'm not certain I'll be able to transfer the processor, which is potentially worth doing as, while it's 8 years old, it's also an early i7, so potentially still more powerful than the i3s and i5s most new PCs use. I'll have to do some digging to judge.

Of course, whichever route I take, I'll still need to reseat the processor in the new motherboard, and my coordination isn't exactly great. In fact I think it's measurably worse than the last time I did this, tw computers ago, and I got help then. I may need to lure my neighbour into offering to help.

Bah, computers.

 

* Plus a Win 10 license and a new primary drive - it was running Vista, which I'm not prepared to connect to the net anymore, plus I don't want to overwrite the existing drive, so I'll swap that to being a slave

(no subject)

Jul. 21st, 2017 10:48 pm
lurkingcat: (Default)
[personal profile] lurkingcat
Just when I was in need of a calming distraction... an unexpected Neko Atsume update appears. I've got to admit that I'd mostly stopped playing but given the number of conference call requests that the team mailbox got bombarded with this afternoon now seems like a good time to start checking in on the Neko Atsume yard again.

In real life feline news Kheldar is thoroughly disappointed by the amount of water that has fallen from the skies today. He has apparently spent most of the day asleep under a bed and is only willing to venture outside now that the rain has slowed from torrential to the occasional bit of drizzle. It is very, very wet underpaw and frankly that's just not acceptable for an elderly cat.

Friday achievements

Jul. 21st, 2017 03:59 pm
adair: (Default)
[personal profile] adair in [community profile] unclutter
I have not done any big uncluttering, but a lot of little things. We have been knocking over a batch of paper bags storied near our utility room door for months. It finally got to both of us. About 35 small white handled bags went into recycling, and 6 big Barnes and Noble bags went to B2P to use at our fall book sale. Both these kinds of bags keep coming into the house, and they look so possibly helpful they get kept. At least for a while we will not knock bags to the floor when carrying baskets to the washer.

I also finally got to cleaning up my email account on the Snow Leopard laptop. My email comes to 2 different laptops and my iPad. I don't sync these because I do not want to sync other things, so email deleted in one place stays in another. Someday I hope to figure a way around this. Anyway, since I am going to clone the Snow Leopard laptop in preparation to getting a new iMac with Sierra, I though I should try to clean up my account on that laptop before the cloning. I have deleted over 1000 emails, mostly from places I shop on line who keep sending me ads every day. I also had a lot of political emails from various organizations, especially pre and post the election. I deleted them on my iPad, but they are now gone from the SL computer. This also means that when I do the data migration all that will not transfer to the new iMac. Managing computer data is a huge chore, and I am not done yet. I still have to look at the documents I kept on this laptop, and see what I do not want any more.

Paying attention to all this is important. When I stop watching what I save, or forget that I have other email records, or save webarchives that I never look at again is when stuff accumulates and gets in the way. I need to keep reminding myself of that.

New Books and ARCs, 7/21/17

Jul. 21st, 2017 08:53 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

As we ease on into another summer weekend, here are the new books and ARCs that have come to the Scalzi Compound this week. What do you like here? Share your feelings in the comments!


[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Here’s Sugar curling up with a good book, in this case the ARC of Don’t Live For Your Obituary, my upcoming collection of essays about writing and the writing life, which comes out in December from Subterranean Press. And you can win it! Here’s how:

Tell me in the comments which Beatles song I am thinking of right now.

That’s it!

The person who correctly guesses which Beatles song I am thinking of wins. In the case where more than one person correctly guesses, I will number the correct guesses in order of appearance and then use a random number generator to select the winner among them.

“Beatles song” in this case means a song recorded by the Beatles, and includes both original songs by the band, and the cover songs they recorded. Solo work does not count. Here’s a list of songs recorded by the Beatles, if you need it. The song I’m thinking of is on it.

Guess only one song. Posts with more than one guess will have only the first song considered. Posts not related to guessing a song will be deleted. Also, only one post per person — additional posts will be deleted.

This contest is open to everyone everywhere in the world, and runs until the comments here automatically shut off (which will be around 3:50pm Eastern time, Sunday, July 23rd). When you post a comment, leave a legit email address in the “email” field so I can contact you. I’ll also announce the winner here on Monday, July 24. I’ll mail the ARC to you, signed (and personalized, if so requested).

Kitten not included.

Also remember you can pre-order the hardcover edition of Obit from Subterranean Press. This is a signed, limited edition — there are only 1,000 being made — and they’ve already had a healthy number of pre-orders. So don’t wait if you want one.

Now: Guess which Beatles song I am thinking of! And good luck!


Agent to the Stars, 20 Years On

Jul. 21st, 2017 06:10 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

So, on July 21, 1997, which was a Monday, I posted the following on the alt.society.generation-x newsgroup:

Thought y’all might like to know. I’m happy, pleased, tired.

96,098 words, cranked out in a little under three months, working
mostly on weekends, grinding out 5,000 words at a sitting.

Learned two things:

a) I *can* carry a story over such a long stretch;

b) like most things on the planet, thinking about doing it is a lot
worse than simply sitting down and doing it. The writing wasn’t hard
to do, you just need to plant ass in seat and go from there.

I did find it helped not to make my first novel a gut-wrenching
personal story, if you know what I mean. Instead I just tried to write
the sort of science fiction story I would like to read. It was fun.

Now I go in to tinker and fine tune. Will soon have it ready for beta
testing. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

That novel? Agent to the Stars. Which means that today is the 20th anniversary of me being a novelist. Being a published novelist would have to wait — I date that to January 1, 2005, the official publication date of Old Man’s War — but in terms of having written a full, complete (and as it eventually turned out, publishable) novel: Today’s the day.

I’ve recounted the story of Agent before but it’s fun to tell, because I think it’s a nice antidote to the “I just had to share the story I’d been dreaming of my whole life” angle first novels often take. The gist of the story was that my 10-year high school reunion was on the horizon, and having been “the writer dude” in my class, I knew I would be asked if I had ever gotten around to writing a novel, and I wanted to be able to say “yes.” Also, I was then in my late 20s and it was time to find out whether I could actually write one or not.

Having decided I was going to write one, I decided to make it easy for myself, mostly by not trying to do all things at once. The goal was simply: Write a novel-length story. The story itself was going to be pretty simple and not personally consequential; it wasn’t going to be a thinly-disguised roman a clef, or something with a serious and/or personal theme. It would involve Hollywood in some way, because I had spent years as a film critic and knew that world well enough to write about it. And as for genre, I was most familiar with mystery/crime fiction and science fiction/fantasy, so I flipped a coin to decide which to do. It come up heads, so science fiction it was, and the story I had for that was: Aliens come and decide to get Hollywood representation.

(I don’t remember the story I was thinking for the mystery version. I’m sure death was involved. And for those about to say “well, you didn’t have to stick with science fiction for your second book,” that’s technically correct, but once I’d written one science fiction novel, I knew I could write science fiction. It was easier to stick with what I knew. And anyway I write murder mysteries now — Lock In and the upcoming Head On. They also happen to be science fiction.)

I remember the writing of Agent being pretty easy, in no small part, I’m sure, because of everything noted above — it wasn’t meant to be weighty or serious or even good, merely novel-length. When I finished it, I do remember thinking something along the lines of “Huh. That wasn’t so bad. Maybe I should have done this earlier.” In the fullness of time, I’ve realized that I probably couldn’t have done it any earlier, I wasn’t focused enough and it helped me to have some sort of external motivation, in this case, my high school reunion.

Once finished, I asked two friends and co-workers at America Online to read the book: Regan Avery and Stephen Bennett, both of whom I knew loved science fiction, and both of whom I knew I could trust to tell me if what I’d written was crap. They both gave it a thumbs up. Then I showed it to Krissy, my wife, who was apprehensive about reading it, since if she hated it she would have to tell me, and would still have to be married to me afterward. When she finished it, the first thing she said to me about it was “Thank Christ it’s good.” Domestic felicity lived for another day.

And then, having written it… I did nothing with it for two years. Because, again, it wasn’t written for any other reason than to see if I could write a novel. It was practice. People other than Regan and Stephen and Krissy finally saw it in 1999 when I decided that the then brand-new Scalzi.com site could use some content, so I put it up here as a “shareware” novel, meaning that if people liked it they could send me a dollar for it through the mail. And people did! Which was nice.

It was finally physically published in 2005, when Bill Schafer of Subterranean Press published a limited hardcover edition. I was jazzed about that, since I wanted a version of the book I could put on my shelf. The cover was done by Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik, who among other things knew of the book because I was one of Penny Arcade’s very first advertisers way back in the day, advertising the Web version of the book (those guys have done okay since then). Then came the Tor paperback edition, and the various foreign editions, and the audiobook, and here we are today.

When I wrote the novel, of course, I had no idea that writing it was the first step toward where I am now. I was working at America Online — and enjoying it! It was a cool place to be in the 90s! — and to the extent I thought I would be writing novels at all, I thought that they would be sideline to my overall writing career, rather than (as it turned out) the main thrust of it. This should be your first indication that science fiction writers in fact cannot predict the future with any accuracy.

I’m very fond of Agent, and think it reads pretty well. I’m also aware that it’s first effort, and also because it was written to be in present time in the 90s, just about out of time in terms of feeling at all contemporary (there are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors remaining, to pick just one obvious example in the book). At this point I suggest people consider it as part of an alternate history which branched off from our timeline in 1998 or thereabouts. Occasionally it gets talked about for being picked for TV/film. If that ever happens, expect some extensive plot revisions. Otherwise, it is what it is.

One thing I do like about Agent is that I still have people tell me that it’s their favorite of mine. I like that because I think it’s nice to know that even this very early effort, done simply for the purpose of finding out if I could write a novel, does what I think a novel should: Entertains people and makes them glad they spent their time with it.

I’m also happy it’s the novel that told me I could do this thing, this novel-writing thing, and that I listened to it. The last couple of decades have turned out pretty well for me. I’m excited to see where things go from here.


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