Working from Home

Posted by Andrew
December 15th, 2015

This home office thing is great!

No interruptions from phones.  I don’t have my concentration broken by lengthy conversations about who is about to run what errand.  Crawling out of bed to make coffee fifteen minutes before the day starts is pretty alright.

The best part is being told by my employers to put all my focus on the things they originally hired me to do.  I’m learning new faster than I have in years.  I’m getting work done much more quickly than I used to.  I’m happier.  I’m in that sweet, wonderful place where I get focused on the job at hand and lose hours doing it.

I used to think would get too distracted to work in a home office environment.  It’s kind of the opposite.  The “office” is in another room with a work computer and two paintings hanging up.  I get so distracted by work that tasks such as “refill my water” go forgotten.

For as much as I’m enjoying the quiet, the education, and the achievements, I’ve also been hanging out more at Starbucks.  I’ve been tempted to beg my friends for attention on Facebook, and not even lie about it.  “Guys my job is done is anyone on Skype can I buy you coffee or you know what would be awesome I’m really good at brushing hair I’ll totally just say nice things about you for five minutes straight without taking a breath I really want be around people right now and you’re people and you’re people I like.”

This is probably nothing new to most people who have also set up a home office.  It’s mostly a really good feeling.

But guys, my job is done so I’m going to take a long walk in the sun then drive to Starbucks.

Not Blogging Much

Posted by Andrew
December 3rd, 2015

It’s been ten months, I think?

I love the Internet and all.  But I also love living in the real world.  I’ve had a really big year with a lot of huge, necessary, hopefully positive changes.

One of those changes is that I just want to be in the world.  I want to look the other person in the eye when we speak, when we agree or disagree, when we share camaraderie.   Whatever it is.

I’ve spent the last four years effectively pulling my best self out of all my fears and insecurities.  So while I love working on web sites and code, I’d prefer to communicate face-to-face or from a stage.

It’s a balance and it’s helped me to be happier than I’ve been in years.

My sources for cheap e-books.

Posted by Andrew
February 19th, 2015

My brain is always idling into weird corners of places. More by accident than by design, I wound up collecting some sources of cheap and sometimes free electronic e-books.

This comes up from time to time with friends.

Amazon Deals. Most of the best deals strike for a day then vanish. Sometimes a monthly deal will hide a good book, too. Neuromancer was a $1.99 for a while. Amazon does allow you to sign up for numerous email lists – daily deals, recent books in your chosen genres are good places to start. Or, just get in the habit of checking every day.

Bookperk. Harper Collins also sends out daily emails that highlight books of theirs on sale. These often overlap with the daily and weekly deals at Amazon. They also show deals specific to their own site, or highlight sales at other book stores.

Humble Book Bundle. A few dollars can net you a big cluster of books. There’s a one dollar minimum, if memory serves. Second and third tiers for larger donations. Some, or all, of the funds go to charity. Books are DRM free and sometimes require finessing to end up on a straight-up Kindle device. Humble is also very helpful in this regard. Most of these books will be speculative fiction or comic books.

Storybundle. Similar to Humble Bundle. Bundles vary in theme, from nonfiction to fiction to speculative fiction. The minimum is typically three dollars, and the tiers are generally more expensive.

Smashwords: If you need something quirky and cheap, Smashwords has a lot of books that are quirky and cheap. I have made use of its quirks in the past to dig up some odd reference materials. There is also a great deal of fiction from self-published authors.  I even have a short story collection there.

Public Domain books:
Project Gutenberg – The original. It still feels like navigating a site from 1995, too.. That’s okay. You pay tribute to your elders.

Wikisource – Wikisource gets special love because of “collections.” Add several files to a collection, then output the entire collection to an ebook. I did this to the Randolph Carter series of stories by HP Lovecraft.

Google Play, Amazon, Kobo store, and Nook store also keep large libraries of public domain books. Sometimes other people sell the same books with formatting fixes or embedded images. You can usually find the free version by digging through a page or two of results.

Six Songs Andrew Sings in the Shower – You Won’t Believe #5

Posted by Andrew
July 13th, 2014

People sing in the shower. Hey! I do too!

The Lillingtons – I Need Some Brain Damage

5 out of every 7 showers I take are to get ready for work. The closest Dairy Queen actually pays better than my job.

The Pixies – Allison

Easily one of their catchier, happier, sometimes more relatable tunes.

Spacehog – I Want To Live

This totally perks me up to prepare myself for a more productive, more joyful day.

Frank Zappa – I’m a Beautiful Guy

There’s a mirror between the door and the shower. Sometimes it happens.

Kompressor – The Girl from Ipanema

This song just gets the blood flowing when there’s a big task to tackle.

Stephen Lynch – Hair

There is truth and beauty everywhere, if you look for it.

PostWorlds, Viewing Pages, PHP Classes

Posted by Andrew
May 14th, 2014

I looked at this giant post about to hit Facebook and thought it might be better as a blog post.  I’m working on a Play By Post site in the style of the site I once loved, and spent a while working on how to view a page that had been stored in the database.  There were multiple “hard way”s to write one of the pages.

All of the code here is very simplified from what I’m trying to (except the HTML examples), and the variable names are not the same as in my real code.

The easiest way was to intermingle the programming language and the HTML/web page language at every step of the way.  The PHP scripting and HTML code would be so intermingled that none of it could be easily re-used, or even understood after any time has passed.  I’m not even going to write that here.  It would have been a piece of script to open the database connection and connect to this “row” of data, followed by enough HTML to get to where the next piece of data is needed, followed by PHP script to retrieve that piece of data alone, followed by enough HTML to get to where the next piece of data is needed.  Everything would have been horribly tangled up, and a pure nightmare to look at.  Where I separate my scripting code and my HTML code by creating objects.

13 Above the Night – And Away from This World

Posted by Andrew
March 4th, 2014

13 Above the Night was released in 1993 by the industrial/disco/sleazy/shock band My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. It was the album released after Sexplosion!, which features their best known song: Sex On Wheelz.  The follow-up album might have caught a number of new fans unaware.

Two asides about Sexplosion! First, it was the last Thrill Kill Kult album I bought to fill my collection somewhere around 1997 / 1998. A Crome for All Seasons was their new release at the time. Second, if you enjoyed Sexplosion! then you should try to listen to The Filthiest Show in Town. The two albums are almost companions

So, why has 13 Above the Night been so enduring and appealing to me for eighteen years? One possibility is a muted theme: the wish to be where we belong.

From the start, this is plainly a darker album than Sexplosion. The title is a clue. The album cover, a nebula, a pentacle, and the number 13, is a slap in the face. Of all the symbols, the nebula is the most interesting to me today.

Beneath the sex, sin, sadness and darkness this entire album strives to find that other place. Where silly midnight flowers bloom

Get A Blog, Pundit!

Posted by Andrew
February 24th, 2014

Right now it seems you can’t go to any community online without this combination of things happening.

A community exists for a common cause, typically recreational.  A segment of partisans on any issue, related or not, link from the relaxed community to highly focused blogs with a political cause in mind.  Suddenly, anyone who disagrees with the blogger and similar pundits is labeled with certain negative traits.  Even if the person disagrees on accident.  Buzzwords and catchphrases and, honestly, “memes” in their true sense instead of the LOLCats sense get shouted on one angry blog to the next to the next.  Then, these bitter memes end up crammed into the entire community of people. who were maybe just there to talk about how long that bottle of nutmeg stays good on a spice rack.  Maybe it’s time to buy fresh nutmeg.  MAYBE YOU’RE BUYING NUTMEG AT A STORE THAT SUPPORTS A PUNDIT BLOGGER’S NEMESIS, YOU INHUMAN ROTTEN SCUM!

Are you really as political as you think?

Here’s a short version of knowing which side of the argument you may REALLY stand on. Are you a political activist or an unpaid advertisement for a professional instigator?

The Matthew Lillard Paradox

Posted by Andrew
February 23rd, 2014

I have always loved watching Matthew Lillard act. Even before I knew anything about the acting side of acting, I latched onto just how honest he was. He wasn’t acting for a screen or for camera, but acting with something a lot of people don’t let us see. His characters react to sadness and horror with an honest manner. His face contorts. He is genuinely ugly. He reacts to happiness with honest silliness that is difficult for most people to admit they feel.

He is emotional instead of pretty. It’s amazing.

That is why I have a Matthew Lillard Paradox. I love watching Lillard act so much that any movie he is in runs the risk of not being good enough for him. He brought depth and charm to a Uwe Boll movie.

And a Numb New Year!

Posted by Andrew
February 19th, 2014

The stretch between New Year’s Day, my birthday in mid-Junary, and Valentine’s Day is always rough on me. Weather is gray and cold, even in Austin. Loneliness sets in. Unwarranted self-pity is too easy to come by.

Loneliness, too. That’s a different issue. Yes, I call this “numb.”

Gaming Like I’m Seventeen

Posted by Andrew
February 6th, 2014

My birthday in January brought a shameful new wealth of video games with it. I didn’t just receive a Playstation 3. I received about a year and a half backlog of Playstation Plus games. Playstation Plus also decided to be more valuable than ever by offering Brothers and Bioshock Infinite to their subscribers. Between Christmas, the Steam Winter Sale, and my birthday, my pile of games to play grew to include:  More video games than a grown man should own.