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Archive for November, 2006

Five rules for keeping an empty GMail inbox

Friday, November 17th, 2006

I was getting ready to leave work yesterday when I happened across an article that someone had been reading in FireFox. I’m not even sure who had opened the page (we don’t have individual computers), but I sat right down and read it start to finish.

Now all I need to do is do it. Here’s the article: Five simple rules for keeping an empty (GMail) inbox.

Free Hugs Campaign

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

A guy stood in a busy pedestrian mall with a sign saying “Free Hugs” (YouTube video). The results are awesome. Go watch.

TMS component to show/emulate the Vista Task Dialog

Monday, November 13th, 2006

Vista has one cool new feature, which is their Task Dialog. It can show text and standard buttons, just like MessageBox, but it can also show hyperlinks in its captions, custom buttons at the bottom (“Save” and “Don’t Save”), radio buttons, large buttons with explanations on them, a checkbox, a progress bar, and an expandable area. Basically it replaces all those custom MessageBox-like dialogs that we’ve all had to write to get a decently usable UI. Here’s detailed info on how to use the Task Dialog in Vista.

Unfortunately, the Task Dialog is only available in Vista, which means that nobody can actually use it in programs until the whole world has moved on from Windows 2000 and XP. Third-party vendors to the rescue: TMS Software has a TTaskDialog Delphi component that will show a Task Dialog when you’re running under Vista, and will create a normal dialog with the same features (though not quite the same aesthetically-pleasing layout) in XP and earlier. They’ve got screenshots. Check it out.

Anyone aware of any .NET libraries that will let you call out to a Task Dialog on Vista, and/or let you simulate a Task Dialog on XP and earlier?

Magic in the making

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

Wow. That Inverse Ninja Rule really got things going.

For one thing, my Humorous Fantasy novel is actually starting to be humorous fantasy. That’s what I intended when I started this year; my first novel, “The Littlest Evil Overlord“, was humorous fantasy, and it turned out pretty well; and humorous fantasy accounts for most of what I enjoy reading. But this year’s novel had, up to today, been far too serious in tone, and I didn’t know what to do to fix it. (I blame that on having too much thought and effort invested in writing an outline beforehand. That doesn’t mean I’ll never write an outline in the future, just that I’ll have to figure out how to be careful about it.)

For another thing, I just did an almost-5,000-word day. 4,823 words today, to be exact. Which brings me to a 4,823-word weekend. Sigh.

And I managed to tie in things that I had already mentioned. Architectural features that I had written about earlier in the month suddenly became important to resolving a scene. A tiny bit of conversational color I had thrown in on a whim, now served as fuel for a moment of self-doubt — and, in fact, made a good-sized part of the scene nearly write itself.

In other words, my novel is starting to reach critical mass. The magic is starting to happen. I’m glad I decided not to give up this year. It remains to be seen whether I’ll finish on time, but I’m making some pretty decent progress (if I can keep it up), and the story is really starting to fall into place.

Over breakfast tomorrow morning, I get to write about the interview with the captive busty lesbian pirate ninjas, and watch the pirate monk captian try to explain the one that got away. Stay tuned.

10,000

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

I just passed 10,000 words for my NaNo novel. (Of course, I’m supposed to be at 20,000 by now, but who’s counting?)

And you know, sometimes procrastination pays off. I had decided that a bunch of pirate ninjas were going to drop in and attack the pirate monks’ ship, ’cause, you know, that’s what ninjas do. But they can’t actually kill or capture the heroes, right? ‘Cause that’d mess up the plot.

But when I was surfing Wikipedia looking for info on ninjas, I discovered the Inverse Ninja Law. Hah! Not only did that save the plot, it even got me extra wordcount, because I got to explain it in a footnote!

Just yesterday, I was thinking about giving up on NaNo for this year. Even now, I have no idea whether I’ll have any chance at finishing on time, since I know there will be days I won’t be able to make the 2,215 words per day that my progress report tells me I need. But you know, when things start going right, this thing is fun!

Okay, back to finish the fight scene.

Progress

Friday, November 10th, 2006

I sat down to work on my novel about two hours ago. Jennie just asked me how it was going.

“Great,” I said. “I’m almost done procrastinating.”

Calvin: the Gathering

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

I love hanging out in the NaNo forums. It’s amazing the things you can learn from people who are already certifiably fruity. Especially in the Dares thread.

Here’s a game I’m going to have to try at a con: 1,000 Blank White Cards. It’s like the Calvinball of collectible card games.

Bond villains and boiling sharks

Monday, November 6th, 2006

Embrace your inner James Bond villain! Add a vat of boiling sharks to your novel!

(I Googled “vat of boiling sharks” and came up with only two results, neither of which is the page I was looking for, so I’m once again Googlebombing the mundane. So next time, I’ll be able to find the comic straight off. Today, a comic strip… tomorrow, the world! Mwa ha ha.)

BagelCon

Monday, November 6th, 2006

Got back from Minneapolis yesterday about 6:00. The con was very mixed: there were some awesome things, and some things that were utterly botched.

If there’s anyone reading this who plans a youth con, here’s some advice:

  • Include the adult youth director in the conversations. You know, the person who gets paid to know what’s going on at the church? The church’s youth director had no clue that the con had applied for the YAC seal of approval.
  • Think before you make last-minute schedule changes. Don’t lose track of things you forgot to put on the schedule in the first place, like orientations; it’s silly when you send people off to touch groups and then have to call them back. Don’t add something that pushes coffeehouse so late that the sponsors who have to drive the next day can’t come. And people get cranky when you get them up half an hour early without prior warning, especially if most of them were up most of the night.
  • Communicate. Some of the adults knew that everyone was getting up half an hour early on Sunday morning; none of the youth did. Many of the planners didn’t even know what was going on with some of the schedule changes.
  • We adults like to be part of the community too. Don’t schedule our orientation at the same time as touch groups.
  • Don’t break up a Wink game that’s just hitting its stride to tell people it’s time to go to worship, when worship is in fact running late and won’t start for another forty minutes.
  • Think about your worships. If the idea is for everyone in the room to say something and then blow out a candle, try putting everyone next to a candle, instead of seating everyone in a mass in the middle of a large space with rings of candles all around them.
  • Plan for capacity. You can’t fit a 150+-person hug line in a little alcove.

There was good stuff. The second worship, with tribal drumming and dancing that went on for I don’t even know how long, was truly awesome, and my arms are going to hurt for days from pounding on that tire drum. As always, Unrequited Love was terrific; I had several people tell me I was the best con dad ever. The workshops were pretty good. And we left with a copy of Tombo’s CD, which mostly made up for missing coffeehouse (although I can’t credit the con planners with that one).

Whew. Quite a weekend. And now I have to go back to work? Wish me luck…

Day One

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

Not bad. 2,401 words in my first day, with 1,841 of them in the first hour and a half of NaNo. And today was a youth-group night, on a night when I also had a meeting before youth group. Plus the time I spent chasing my e-mail problems.

Now, if I can just crank out enough words to make up for not being at a computer all weekend…


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