Coping: With Another Novel Weekend

Or:  “How I wrote a third of a novel and upgraded to Windows 10 in one weekend.”

Once again, I shall be short on words today because most of ‘em were drained out of me this weekend.  About 28,000 words and just over a hundred pages of text as I finished the first draft of my novel DreamOver.

Sadly, the problem with writing a novel – all 87,998 words of it and more than 410-thousand characters – is that it’s only a good start.

My friend Howard (Finance Mon$ter$) Hill warned me that getting something written was only about half the problem.  The second half is the proof-reading and tweaking.  It’s a daunting task, but I’m fortunate that my lifelong friend “the Major” will be taking a pass through it once I get it reasonably error-free.

The plot came out fine.  No animals were injured in the writing of the book.  And so far, only one draft has been printed.

There was a time when writing “The Great American Novel” seemed like quite the thing.  You read about writers like Hemmingway, and the ilk, and you wonder if they were really that good at typing and spelling as they went.

From what I understand today, most of the big publishing houses aren’t after diamonds in the rough – works of art that can be tweaked and cut into exotic gems.  What they’re after *(this is the genius of modern marketing here) is a “plug and play” that is press-ready and all they need to do is approve the “right cover” for it, turn on the publisher’s media blitzer, and presto, everyone makes money.

Were all writers in the past held to the same standards of spelling, syntax, and grammar as the lazy giants of today?  Somehow I doubt it.

That said, if you know anyone in the publishing industry who is looking for a good novel, have them drop me a line.  DreamOver is best described as “An Action-Adventure on the Frontiers of Reality” with a writing style and plot line that’s about in the middle of the literary triangle formed by Clive Cussler, the late Tom Clancy, and scientist Dean  (Entangled Minds) Radin.

I get connected with my literary “muse” nicely.  It’s a hard place to describe, but it goes something like this:

When you’re writing a fast-moving fictional book, you see everything as though you were watching it on a movie screen.  This vastly simplifies the writing process because it removes all the conscious effort at creativity.  Instead, as you watch this IMAX adventure roll out in your head, you simply write as fast as you possibly can, while trying to avoid too many typos.

Curiously, have one half-hour period where I found myself making tons of mistakes.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why.  But, all of a sudden, it dawned on me:  I was watching the movie too fast in my head.  Because it was playing at near normal speed, I was becoming so engrossed in watching the plot unfold, that I’d become oblivious to the words that were going onto the pages.

I got up, walked around for a few minutes, adjusting blood sugar levels with a snack and a cup of cinnamon tea, and got back into the flow.  Only this time, I was conscious of the “pause” button in my head.  And I think the writing flowed much better – and certainly at a lower error rate – when approached this way.

I’ll try to remember to take the same approach here, as well.  The only thing different is that when “news writing” – a kind of typographical version of the old TV show “Beat the Clock” – there’s a real reluctance to hit that pause button because every second counts. 

But not really, as it turns out.

My Upgrade to Windows 10

As if pounding out 28,000 words, plus or minus an apostrophe, this weekend wasn’t enough, I also managed to upgrade to Windows 10 on my main writing machine.

If you’ve forgotten, UrbanSurvival and Peoplenomics live on two computers.  One is named Big Box and it’s the four video card, 12 gB monster with the big SSD and many terabytes of wasteland.

Most mornings though, the writing computer is SamTop.  A Samsung portable with the i7-cores, a terabyte drive, and until this weekend, it had Windows 8.1 on it which was entirely satisfactory.

Still, realizing that Win10 would likely be a bit more secure for travel and the like, I opted to upgrade now – before we go on our Peoplenomics cruise in early September to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.

I’m not sure the improvements in security are real or illusory.  Sometimes I think Microsoft just rearranges where everything is and calls it an upgrade.  I still haven’t figured out how to set my own home page in their new browser (named Edge, for reasons that must relate back to a hangover someone had in marketing).  Explorer worked and anyone who could confuse a browser with an SUV should be allowed to compute or drive.

There are some real pluses to Win10, not the least of which is the screen is now much better behaved when you scroll in on certain applications to make type larger or smaller by using your roller mouse.

Simply hold down the “Control” key and run your finger on that middle mouse wheel between the right and left clicker buttons.  It’s magic.

The problem I had previously was that although it would work with my web writing tools (mainly LiveWriter), but after a line or two, the spacing would get screwed up on everything except the normal 100 percent scaling.

A little secret here:  That’s probably the source of about 50% of the errors in past columns:  When in the 100% scale mode, things are mighty small and I usually don’t get around to cleaning my glasses (and getting the last of the sleep out of my eyes) until around 7 AM. 

Not that something happens at 7 AM, though.  That just means I have only 54 minutes of writing to get the news and finance portion finished so the quality of typos hasn’t previously improved.

I’m operating on the theory that with a larger display on-screen, some of my gaffs will be evident even to me.  No doubt some readers will miss the former NY Times Crossword aspects of the column, but I’m still far enough from good at writing that shouldn’t matter.

The Actual Install Hints

Here are the three huge secrets that I found when installing Windows 10:

1.  Once you are ready to begin, if you are on a laptop, unplug everything from your USB ports before you begin.  I have two Logitech devices – a wireless keyboard (the fancy one with the backlit letters – another help when writing early in the day) and a wireless mouse.  The Win 10 installation froze at 92 percent on the program and 69% on the drivers until I hit the web and discovered that unplugging all USB devices save a keyboard and mouse, was the only way to fly on laptops. 

As soon as that was done, the installation was back to rolling along until the next problem came up.

2.  Once I had Win 10 installed (on SamTop), the next problem was trying to get the wireless adapter to work correctly.

Turns out that (at least on my machine) all of the previous wireless connections appeared to have been wiped out by the Win 10 install.

The good news was they weren’t – but that didn’t become evident until I decided before rolling back to 8.1 (where everything was working fine) that I would reboot the computer once and see if that helped at all. 

What got me thinking about it was the visual prompt that on the new Win 10 initial screen, there is a Wi-fi indicator.  Being a rocket-sturgeon (sic)_I figured a reboot couldn’t hurt, and in my case it solved everything.

3.  The third problem was reconstructing all things in  my browser which I thought would happen automatically, but it doesn’t. 

You’ll find a tool in the Browser settings area that will allow you to imp[ort your bookmarks from your previous version of Windows.

4.  Last, but not least, it wasn’t clear from the installation prompts that all of my Favorites would be playing Hide-and-Go-Seek.

Turns out that the simple “star” for favorites is now more or less an “Add Favorites” button while all your old bookmarks (and a lot of web searches which is more mysterious) is in the circular button called the “Hub”.

Apparently, the marketing people decided that when we go looking for something on Google or Bing, it’s worth remembering the search.  Judging by the searches it saved for me (most relating to the book which means they were one-time checks of a piece of geography in a scene) it was a waste of time.

Once you get past these few trip-wires, the rest is pretty much the same.  Maybe it’s a computational version of “the annual model” in the auto industry, but it seems to work – mostly.  And if you are planning a low productivity week at work, I can’t think of a better current excuse than to tell the boss:

Hey…lighten up already.  I just upgraded to Windows 10 and I’m still getting used to where things are located.”

With luck, that will keep you employed for another month.

During that time – in fact the next three or four months – Win 10 should provide a good computing experience until the hackers and crackers all figure out where the musical program locations landed with this fine iteration of recurrent marketing.

And by this time, say next year, we will all be back in the same kettle of fish we were in relative to personal computers that drove us to consider 10 on a few laptops now.

Reader’s Writes

Haven’t opened the mailbag much later, and it’s time.

The “Yokes On Us” I’ve often remarked about the so-called Women’s Movement.  You’ll remember that was the drive which got women something near to equal pay, but it also roughly doubled the size of the labor force available to the PowerThatBe, which in turn kept unit labor costs low.  About here, reader James picks it up”

“You are right on…until 1982 one income at two dollars an hour cut the mustard. Electricity was ten dollars or less a month, gas was the highest expense for the car. The grocery costs was for a family of four seventy five a month and rent was a hundred or less.then deregulation of the petroleum and the recession along with trickle down that didn’t trickle and the nafta treaty. Today groceries for the same size family pushes twelve hundred a month or more using the burger king food budget. (To use that method you consider each person spending for their daily food costs in total equal to the price of one burger king meal deal and one cup of coffee and doughnut )that is roughly ten dollars a day. Since eighty two i never worked less than two jobs and at times as much as six jobs. Income increased at a rate of two percent a year average while inflation increased approximately double.

We also got some feedback on the debates including this from reader Don (one of 800, or so that drop by regularly):

I don’t have time for political correctness nor does the country is what drives em wild for the Donald – if the GOP doesn’t get with it they might as well hang it up – at some point the Koch’s may give up on Jeb. I think Trump came out stronger and my guess is that Wallace and Megyn better back off some if they moderate the next debate – any way Wallace’s father was a way left of center Democrat so I question as to why he is there. Plus they took up 30% of the time – they need to cut that in half.

My take Rubio good showing – needs maturity at 44 and he is lying about amnesty – it’s a Cuban thing. Christie being from Jersey where the Republican party is the right wing of the Democratic party. Kasich was okay but if he is so great why did Ohio elect Obama twice? I am somewhat biased about Cruz but his wife is a big Exec with Goldman Sachs that eliminates him. Now Dr Carson is the real deal and went it comes to Obama not very far distanced from Sheriff Joe about him being a fraud. Bold for a Black man – probably very deserving of a cabinet position. Paul – the best part of Rand is in Texas -his father. Santorum – zzzzzzzzz Walker – loved what he did concerning public unions in Wisconsin and a nice guy – too bad he’s a nice guy- next. Huckabee – gunning for a VP slot. Jeb B – another from a long line of pathological liars – read my lips no new taxes, mission accomplished and no child left behind plus 28 pages redacted from the 9/11 report. Jindal – Nice touch of curry for Cajuns – not on most folks diet. Gilmour – why? Perry – Ronald Raven? – nuff said. Graham – fudge packing right wing neon – why is he here? Carly – she just killed them – has to be in the next major debate. 10 of these guys are wasting a lot of time and money.”

To me, the main feature of the debate was how much time the “moderators” spent promoting their own points of view, Megyn included. 

Trump’s mistake was simple:  He accepted a bad question.  What he should have done is paused for a good 10 seconds and said nothing.  When (after 10 seconds of dead air) the producers would have yelled in Megyn’s ear to press Don to speak, he could have simply said “I was considering a bad question on a questionable premise.  You should appreciate there is a line between on camera “performance” and objective “reality.”  If you’d like to ask me a non-performance question that deals with the reality of being President, then I’d be pleased to answer.

II would have loved for one of the other candidates to have said something like “You just took 90 seconds to ask me a question.  Why don’t you burn up the rest of our time by restating your own preconceived ideas?”

But no one called them out.

In the end, Megyn made a name for herself, but depending on who you speak with, some of them aren’t names we’d repeat at the breakfast table.

Well, then.  2.400 and some words already which means I should shut up and get onto the news side of things because even though this is Monday, everything is still a business model and marketing, marketing, marketing…

Jeez, is it only 5:05?  Ooops.  Not short on words after all.  Thanks, muse.

Write you you break-even,



Coping: With Another Novel Weekend — 12 Comments

  1. I’ve been using Linux since ’06. It was a very steep learning curve for me, as I was a nuts and bolts person, not a software person. My best system (and favorite) was 10.10, with which I learned to customize Linux. Yeah, it’s not necessarily for people with the on/off button capability only, but I’ve learned stuff that I would have never learned had I stayed with windose. Crashes and viruses are greatly diminished (actually, nearly non-existent) to say the least and boy is the price right. I do run an anti-virus…to detect virii that could infect windose machines I interact with(email). Installing drivers is a thing of the past…as Linux does it all (and without the mandatory restart windows is famous for). Just installed a new NIC, sound card or other hardware? Linux will boot and install hardware and driver without your input or help…the only caveat being if you want to use a proprietary driver. MoBo goes down? Pull the drive and stick it in any machine and it will boot and run perfectly…try that with windose, then fight them over re-licensing…if your machine will boot at all. Is Linux perfect? No…is any of them? I am running 12.04.5 now and the only problem I’ve encountered is a failure of WINE (windose emulator)because of a bug in a new kernel upgrade/install…which was fixed very quickly by kernel update. The amount of customization is astounding, as is the 35,000+ free software packages. Need help?…I have yet to have a problem that wasn’t able to be fixed by online forums. Is Linux for everyone…no…is it a viable alternative to Windose…Oh, yeah! I have not regretted for a minute leaving Mr H1b visa behind.

  2. Windows 10 spies, not only on you, but all your contacts. By default. Might want to check into that.

  3. It’s so relaxing to be on a highly secure(for Windows) Windows 7 machine. All Microsoft access is blocked both by my hosts file and a firewall, and all unnecessary processes are disabled. Scripting is disabled by default, and if a site requires JS, they better have a really good reason, or it’s on to the next one.

    I’m building a new machine, higher security and a non-windows environment. Until then, it’s wonderful to simply ignore most security threats and “upgrades”, since there’s no easy way in. BTW, my knock around laptop is a Windows XP machine, and there’s very little I can’t do on it. It’s almost as fast as the Win 7 machine, and just as secure.

    Perhaps I’m a bit of a codger, but I simply fail to see the point of Windows 10.

  4. If you can’t figure how to handle a question during a debate – whether you think it legitimate or not . . . Flash in the pan, flash in the pan. What did Shakespeare say about something being full of sound and fury, and signifying ‘nothing’? Adios . . .

  5. My tech savvy friends in Mensa say to use “custom install” so you can bypass all those nasty privacy issues. I never use Internet Explorer so Edge would be irrelevant to me. My computers running 7 all need BIOS updates to run 10. These same friends suggested I not try that since I am not a geek. So, I plan to use what I have until the machine dies or Win7 goes bye=bye whichever comes first. By then, refurbished machines with 10 already installed should be available. I don’t need new PC’s, just cheap prices (available on ebay with lots of shopping).

  6. Guys,
    The CONTROL+Mouse wheel thing has been there since XP.
    Just like the CONTROL+ PlusKey and CONTROL+ MinusKey.

    Just sayin…

  7. Quick update on W10. Upgraded Surface Pro 3 from 8.1 Pro. Flawless, took about 30 minutes. W10 seems to handle my 40″ screens via HDMI much better, I can see all your “creative writing” much better now… ;)

  8. “With all due respect to “Jammin Janet” the Federal Reserves modus operandi seems to have been to slam on the brakes at the free money window a month or two back, and then sort of pump the brakes, hoping for a smooth stop of deflationary pressures, so rates can be raised slightly this fall”

    I must be a blooming psychic… this is exactly what actions I thought they would do.. but I didn’t think they would do it till it got closer to november.. by taking the give away money and there really hasn’t been any recovery.. oops.. wait for page two with the rest of the story..for the new incoming administration..

  9. Thanks so much for the tip on resizing text in Windows 10. I had been using “View” but Control and the mouse wheel is so much easier!