Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Adventures in Geekdom

So, I’ve always been sort of a geek, if being a book nerd and liking computers makes me a geek. But I recently took my geekdom to new heights.

I decided a few weeks ago that my 4 1/2-year-old laptop needed a tune-up. I bought my Macbook Pro in the summer of ’06. It was serving me well until it fell off a six foot high shelf in the summer of ’08. I could easily see that the fall had cracked the screen, but without a screen to see what happened when I turned the computer on, I had no idea what was going on inside. It turned out I had a bad hard drive and super drive. I only had enough cash to repair the hard drive and screen, so I left the super drive in it’s inoperable state. I figured that when the time came I would just swap out the super drive myself. It couldn’t be that hard.

Well, once I got my laptop back from the repair shop and paid my $670 repair bill, I looked up the cost of a super drive and found some instructions for replacing the drive. Though the guy in the video made it look so simple, I was still hesitant to open up my expensive laptop and tinker around with my clumsy fingers. I was certain I would shock the motherboard and render it useless. So I put it off for two years.

When I decided to tune up my computer last month, the first thing I wanted to tackle was the super drive. I also needed to swap out the hard drive. The hard drive that the repair shop put in two years ago was only 160 gb. With all my photos, music, videos, and my Windows virtual machine, this was completely inadequate. I ordered a 750 gb hard drive and a new super drive.

I installed my new hard drive and booted from my old hard drive, which was connected via firewire. I then cloned the old drive to the new one and that was done. I swapped out the old super drive in minutes. It was surprisingly as easy as the video showed. I was so proud of myself. Then, I thought to myself, “Hey! I should upgrade my operating system.”

So I ordered Snow Leopard and installed it a couple of days ago. Snow Leopard got rid of a bunch of useless drivers that were cluttering up my hard drive. Unfortunately, it also got rid of the print driver that I was using for my HP printer. So I go online to download the driver and find out that the old driver no longer works on Snow Leopard. I quickly find my only option to get my printer working is a Linux work around. WTF? I’ve never done anything like that before.

But, what the heck, I’ve gone this far in my “tune-up” process. I might as well go all the way. So I take a deep breath and open the terminal. I type in all sorts of commands, as per the instructions, unplug and plug in my printer, and it works.

So I guess the point of this blog post, besides boring you to death, is to show that all that newfangled computer mumbo jumbo is not as difficult as some make it out to be. I just ordered a new hard drive as a surprise Christmas gift for my sister and brother-in-law, and I will install it for them. If you have computer problems (hardware or software), Google is your friend. Don’t be afraid to put your geek skills to the test.


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Snarky comment designed to trick you into believing you’re about to read an interesting blog post.

Introductory sentence stating the reason the author chose this topic for this post. Sentence supporting this reasoning and possibly providing exemplary evidence for why this topic should be discussed. Closing sentence, hopefully containing a joke about how this topic relates to the author.

Paragraph describing a personal experience either related to the joke in the last paragraph or the topic at large. This paragraph will usually include some dialogue so that those with the attention span of a squirrel with ADHD will still be enthralled.

Filler paragraph. This paragraph was constructed for the sole purpose of making sure the author cannot be accused of being a lazy blogger. A gratuitous joke or cynical comment can be thrown in for the sake of the audience.

[Place medium-sized image of adorable kitten here.]

Closing paragraph will reiterate why this topic is so important that it warrants four paragraphs written by a complete nobody. Hug, hug, kiss, kiss, little hug, big kiss.

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I will be on hiatus from the blog as I work on getting my website up. If anyone wants to help a struggling writer build a website (hopefully like this one), please contact me.

Welti out.

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Yesterday, I decided to try my hand at critiquing, again.

Once upon a time, over three years ago, I belonged to the O.C. Writers’ Meetup Group. This was when I first started writing my novel. I ended up leaving the group because I was frustrated with the coddling and lack of honesty. I didn’t see how these writers were going to become better at their craft if they continued to dance around the problems they found in their fellow writers manuscripts. If someone uses too many modifiers, tell them. If they’re targeting the wrong audience, tell them. If their dialogue is cliched, tell them. Or, so I thought.

I was wrong in my assumption about what a critique group was for. I realized that critique groups are more for camaraderie than feedback — unless you are truly comfortable with your fellow critiquers. I realized that I may have seemed like a bit of an outsider to this group, considering they had been critiquing each other for months. And here I was, criticizing their leader.

It happened when the organizer of the group offered to email a few of us (his critique partners) his first six chapters. I was really excited to see how being in this critique group had helped him, since I had yet to submit anything to the group. This man was in his late 50’s and had been writing since before I was born. He had started the group and was highly admired by other members of the group who had read his work. As I waited for his email, I was expecting a polished, if somewhat flawed, manuscript. What I got confused me.

It looked like the manuscript of a teenager who had read one Clive Cussler novel and said to himself, “I can do that!” I wasn’t sure if I should be honest or diplomatic. I decided on something in between. I was honest in my critique of the writing, but diplomatic in my delivery of the critique. I went through the entire six chapters, making digital notes throughout. I then wrote up a thorough summary of my notes and included some suggested reading. Then I sent it back to him.

His response came a couple of weeks later. The verdict: My critique was so detailed in its execution that it literally made him reconsider whether or not he should be a writer. I felt awful. I left the critique group with a sense of guilt and sadness. In the world of critique groups, I was the wicked witch.

I slunk off into a solitary corner to mull over what had gone wrong. I pored through all the writers’ group’s guidelines on critiquing. Had I not followed the guidelines? Had I overstepped some boundary? And then I found it! Tucked away in one of the guidelines was a sentence stating that critiques were not to be “too detailed” so as not to hurt the writer’s feelings.

Writer’s have feelings?

I realized I was not cut out for this critiquing thing. I packed up my manuscript, clicked on the “Leave Group” button, and never looked back.

Then last night, in an attempt to find someone to critique my work, I decided to join an online critique group. I won’t say the name of the group or website to protect the writers’ works. The group organizer immediately sent me three writing samples from three different writers for me to critique.

The first story had a rage-aholic protagonist who was being very nasty to his wife while she expressed concern for his safety. I stopped reading after a couple pages. I couldn’t sympathize with raging hubby.

The second story’s protagonist was a psychotic, unremorseful serial killer. He had not a single redeeming quality, unless you count the fact that he was literate. Apparently, he used some sort of serial killer guidebook to carry out his gruesome deeds. I was not at all interested.

The last story appeared to be a paranormal romance. I read further into this one because the protagonist had a “save the cat” moment early on. For me, this moment is crucial in keeping me interested in a story. For those who don’t know (and are too lazy to click on that link), a “save the cat” moment is the moment when your protagonist does something nice that makes the reader say, “Hey, I like this guy.” From that moment on, if the writing is good, the reader will root for your protagonist’s success. Without the “save the cat” moment, readers usually have trouble finding a reason to keep reading.

So, this third entry kept me reading a little further based on his somewhat likeable protagonist. But then his protagonist quickly faded out of the story. He switched point of view to another character, without any indication whether the new character was 10 or 40 years old and what time period we were in. I was very confused and put off by the writer’s excessive modifiers. “Romance filled eyes.” Is there not a better way to say this?

Needless to say, I only critiqued the third story because of the “save the cat” moment. I figured that, though his grasp on grammar and style were not enough to keep me reading, the writer’s ability to realize he needed a likable protagonist warranted a critique.

I emailed my critique and decided I would not be returning to this online critique group. There was no reason to. I didn’t want my story critiqued by any of the three writers I had just received samples from. If these writers were a representative sample of the rest of the group, it was possible I was wasting my time.

If you have any of your own experiences with critique groups, please feel free to share them with me.

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Imagine you wake up in a strange bed in a strange, but average-looking bedroom. You walk out of the bedroom and find yourself in a small, unfamiliar house. The appliances and furnishings appear to be very modern, almost futuristic, but they’re smaller than you’re used to. The furnishings are smaller in scale and lacking in color. Almost everything is some shade of gray, green, or brown. You don’t see a television, stereo, or telephone anywhere, but you do see what could be some very thin computer monitors affixed to the walls, one in each room; but no computers.

You walk outside to find the road is unpaved, the small houses have thatched roofs, and there are no mailboxes. An elderly woman in plain clothes across the road is tending to a flourishing garden. She waves at you and yells, “Hi, John!” That’s not your name.

Are you more likely to be excited or frightened by this situation?

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Let me preface this blog entry by stating that I do not believe in ghosts. However, I am of the opinion that pretty much anything is probably possible in this universe (or an alternate universe). Therefore, though I’ve yet to be presented with proof affirming the existence of ghosts, it is possible that some form of latent energy (present at the time of death) remains behind after a person has died.

Having said that, I still don’t believe in ghosts.

So… my question is: How does a cell phone that has been dead for two months suddenly become fully-charged without ever having been connected to a charger?

I attempted to google it and came up with no explanation for this. Therefore, for literary purposes (I am willing to make giant leaps of faith for the sake of art), I am going to declare my old cell phone as officially possessed by the Ghost of Cell Phones Past. As soon as I try to use it to make a phone call I will be sucked into the handset and transported to a landfill overflowing with mountains of discarded cell phones and the Ghost of Cell Phones Past will have assumed the bodily form of Matthew McConaughey.

— Posted From My iPhone

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