Tag Archives: writing

How blogging ruined Star Trek.

Writing for me is a thing which I’ve barely scratched the surface. However, understanding more about what makes “good” and “bad” writing is definitely having an effect on how I perceive things which I would have previously enjoyed without question.

Case in point; The Long War by Terry Pratchett/Steven Baxter which is the follow-up to the The Long Earth; a story about how the barriers between realities are suddenly and permanently dropped, leading to a mass-migration of mankind across unpopulated worlds.  The story is moved on a number of years, but a number of plot points in the first book are trampled over and several new are introduced about with the delicacy of a bull in a china shop. To the point when the big twist finally occurs, it’s cannot be a surprise to anyone given numerous and clumsy references to in the preceding chapters.  The characterisation of several non-humans is terrible, right out of 50’s Scifi and not in a good way, honestly some of the characters in my kid’s books are better developed.

A further revelation came last night; Star Trek Voyager (which is now available on Lovefilm, Amazon UK’s streaming video service) is in fact rubbish. I’ve previously watched Voyager on Terrestrial TV, but having exhausted LF’s Sci-Fi catalogue I couldn’t resist; however I got about three episodes in before I realised that the script relies far-too-much on the Last-minute technological arse-pull; magically inventing something previously referred to as the saviour from a seemingly impossible situation.  Sadly real life, even in the future doesn’t work like that. I never noticed this in a TV Show which I’ve previously enjoyed, but now it stick  out like a sore thumb. I may have been able to forgive this deep in the doldrums of a fifth series, but Episode 3? Surely the writing discipline should have been at its peak?

If nothing else, it’ll serve as a reminder of “things not to do” in writing, and no doubt I’ll still watch Star Trek and buy the next Pratchett book when it comes out, although I suspect I’ll enjoy it a little less.

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Short Review – “The Arse First method of Technical Blogging” by Greg Ferro

Well I’ve just finished Greg’s book on blogging, in short it’s very good.  Certainly it gave me insight into why some things have worked better than others.  It provides a great intro to the subject and lots of more intermediate/advanced advice.  Without giving too much away, It’s validated my decision to use an off-the-shelf blogging package (Posterus and now WordPress) and made me think harder about some aspects of my writing, i.e. intros, titling etc, and not to worry about things like SEO.  The biggest insight came with the development of ideas; a couple of things I have done recently I now realise I’ve tried to express three or four different ideas in the space of 500 words and I need to cut that down to one or two.

The point is made several times that there is more than one way of doing things; if you follow the recipe in the book to closely IMO  you’ll end up with a lot of very similar and not that interesting to read posts.  My “Free-form Jazz” style of writing is perhaps the other end of the scale. I’m aware that I still need a lot of work on my writing discipline (which in moderation, is a good thing) and this book has/will definitely help.

In short a good read and the advice is definitely worth the asking price, as if you had to ask.

Once again you can find the book on Lean Pub, “The Arse First method of Technical Blogging” by Greg Ferro

Broken Promises and more than one new home

Well my plan to update this blog more regularly in 2013 has well and truly gone to hell in a hand basket. Culminating in the closure of the the erstwhile posterous and me only managing to extract this content before it was deleted forever.

So here we are, finally gotten around to importing the old content into a shiny-new WordPress site. I even relented and sprung for a proper domain name, so when inevitably when WordPress gets purchased by ICanHazCheezburger and also shut down, I can ensure some sort of continuity.

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Skitch for Windows; Close to perfect – but not quite

One of my current writing projects requires me to produce a LOT of screen captures at the moment and the Windows “Snip” tools isn’t quite cutting it.  I’ve been experimenting with Skitch for Windows, mostly because it directly integrates into Evernote which I use constantly.  Skitch for Mac has been flamed a bunch recently for dropping a bunch of features, most of which seem to be entirely missing from the Windows version. That said I’ve captured over 50 slides in a few hours, so something must be right. Given the project I’m working in is funded from my own back pocket, I’m only going to spring for software which I know works. Skitch has the distinct advantage of (for the moment) being free to use, although it will burn through your Evernote monthly upload allowance very quickly.  However, before I’d awaken the moths in my wallet, the following needs to be sorted:

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2012 – A Year in Books

2012 roared past like traffic on motorway for me; can’t believe my last post here was in January. Writing has progressed well and I’ve done quite a lot for Packet Pushers and several things I’ve very proud of for Juniper JNet. This has led to more opportunities, none of which have yet seen the light of day yet but these should start trickling out in January. 

I’m going to attempt to update this blog more often in 2013 if I can with general science/technology stuff and “anything else” which interests me. In lieu of a “proper” website I’ll update my various projects, personal and professional here.

Rather than write an extended blow-by-blow account, thought I’d list some of the books I’ve read this year and I’m still working my way through.

 

Ben Goldacre – Bad Science

Finally got around to reading this, I’ve been a fan his writing (also on Posterous) for a while.  There is a an excellent discussion on the scientific method which underpins everything about the 21st century as well as pleasing dismantling of homeopaths and their “art”. One of my favourite quotes “But these are just stories, and the plural of anecdote of is not data.”

John Scalzi – Redshirts

I came across this IO9, it’s basically the story of the crew of a star ship (paying much homage to Star Trek of course) told form the perspective of the security officers – The Redshirts.  The tale gets very silly and very meta but it was pretty funny. 

Terry Pratchett / Stephen Baxter – The Long Earth

Another “left-field” sci-fi novel. I know that Pratchett is not well (to say the least) and the unkind might say that it is showing in the writing, but I love Discworld and I’ll keep reading them as long as possible.  This is a non-Discworld novel and takes place on a contemporary earth were a very simple machine, a “stepper” allows the owner to move between an infinite number of parallel earths at will.  Lots of interesting concepts and finishes on a cliff hanger!

 

Southwick / Marschke / Reynolds – Junos Enterprise Routing: A Practical Guide to Junos Routing and Certification

 

Along with everything else I’m doing, I’m trying to work my way through the JNCIS-ENT material. I’ve not yet finished this but it’s very well written so far.

Marschke / Reynolds – JUNOS Enterprise Switching

 

This is the companion book for the JNCIS-ENT and has been recommended by many; more reading for me to do!