A Problem with Mavericks

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in Rants, Stuff | 0 comments

If you have an older Mac, you may be notic­ing some­thing funny.

Some­thing odd.

Something…sinister <insert thun­der­clap here>

 

Apple release its most recent incar­na­tion of OS X known as Mav­er­icks (10.9) a while back, and of course, it being free and all, I jumped right on it.

The iMac I use for writ­ing is fairly old — think 2009 — but was the best of the line at the time, and as such, still hold up quite well today. It is stuck at 4gb of ram, which makes me sad, but hey, whatever.

How­ever, as well as it works, some­thing was imme­di­ately amiss once Mav­er­icks was installed.

Every­thing crawled.

Apps bounced on the dock for min­utes before opening.

Nav­i­gat­ing the disk became a chore.

Chrome with a few tabs open swal­lowed the computer’s very soul.

 

This was a real prob­lem. Being a writer and web designer and gen­er­ally unor­ga­nized oaf, there are few times where I have less than ten tabs open in Chrome, a piece of writ­ing soft­ware open (Byword, iA Writer, Scrivener, Aeon Time­line), my per­sonal wiki (in Wikid­Pad), maybe a git repos­i­tory doing some­thing in the back­ground, Thun­der­bird wait­ing for emails that never come, Pho­to­shop CC doing what Adobe prod­ucts always do (eat all avail­able RAM), etc.

Keep in mind, this was hap­pen­ing with both an upgrade and a clean install. Same prob­lem. All. The. Time.

If you are notic­ing this issue your­self, I sug­gest drop­ping Mav­er­icks like the screw-up it is.

 

Wot I fink is goin’ on

Here is my per­sonal opin­ion, backed by a lit­tle sci­en­tific explo­ration of the issue as well as ram­pant, uncon­trolled guess­work via a magic 8-ball.

The major dif­fer­ence between Mav­er­icks and prior OS X ver­sions, at least when it comes to RAM, is a new­fan­gled mem­ory com­pres­sion dohicky thingamabob.

Basi­cally, so Apple can con­tinue sell­ing com­put­ers with 4gb of RAM in an age where bud­get Wal­mart lap­tops come with 8gb, they worked up a com­pres­sion scheme that shrinks the size of pro­grams you aren’t using at that moment in mem­ory. This keeps those min­i­mized apps from hog­ging up all the RAM and pri­or­i­tizes the app you are using at that very moment.

This sounds nice and all, but here is the catch.

Com­pres­sion takes pro­cess­ing power. It take mem­ory. It takes time.

And if you have an older machine, well, it ends up tak­ing away from per­for­mance rather than improv­ing it.

Last, but not least, I noticed Mav­er­icks seemed to always want to keep the RAM topped off. I sup­pose that is part of how the new sys­tem works, but all it did for me was kill my machine.

And, of course, since Apple knows what’s best for you and I, for­get dis­abling this fea­ture. You have Mav­er­icks (and, I would bet, the future Yosemite), then this fea­ture is on and there is noth­ing you can do about it.

 

How to “fix” it, sorta…

What I ended up doing is rolling that screw­ball Mav­er­icks down the hill and into the ditch where it belongs, and rein­stalling 10.8. And guess what?

A dozen Chrome tabs? work­ing fine.

Scrivener and Aeon Time­line open? Yep, A-OK.

All the issues have gone away, files are load­ing fast, and noth­ing is amiss.

So, if you are in the same boat as I was, do your­self a favor and roll back.

Basic check­list:

  • Back up via Time Machine. You should be doing this any­way, but if not, do it before you go any further.
  • Pro­cure OS X 10.8. But, good luck buy­ing it if you are already on Mav­er­icks as it is hid­den in the app store.
  • One issue to remem­ber with 10.8 is it was sold via the app store, and not on DVD. In fact, it is not easy to make a 10.8 DVD, as the files are just large enough to require a dual-layer 9 gig DVD, which are more expen­sive. But a quick googling will net you a mil­lion ways to put 10.8 on a USB stick, or even, for the brave, a sin­gle layer DVD.
  • If you can­not get 10.8, most mod­ern Macs can be restored to the orig­i­nal OS X via inter­net recov­ery. Read about it here. Then you can upgrade to 10.8 via the app store or any other method.
  • 10.7 may be a lit­tle too old, so 10.8 is your best bet. But Scrivener, iA Writer, and most other writ­ing apps (not Byword, though) work just fine on 10.7, so if that’s what you got and you don’t want to deal with upgrad­ing or find­ing 10.8, just do it.
  • Once you’ve rolled back, cre­ate a dif­fer­ent user than what you nor­mally use. Some­thing tem­po­rary is fine. Tem­pad­min, some­thing like that. The rea­son for that is it makes restor­ing your old user pro­file and apps eas­ier since you are con­sid­ered some­one else for now.
  • Once in the older ver­sion and things are work­ing, run Migra­tion Assis­tant located in /applications/Utilities and restore every­thing from your Time Machine backup. When it gets done, your Apps, your set­tings, your dock, every­thing should be exactly as you left it.
  • And always remem­ber the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy slo­gan: Don’t Panic. As long as you have a cur­rent Time Machine backup, all your files are safe. If you restore, and then log in only to find the Appli­ca­tions not installed or your doc­u­ments folder not exactly right, sim­ply restore again. They are all there, but some­times if some­thing inter­rupts the restore you may not get every­thing back the first time.
  • Last but not least, if you can­not get this to work, just go to a pro. It will cost money, but it is a hell of a lot cheaper than a new Mac.

Now, keep in mind, some apps will only work with 10.9. Some­times for no good rea­son, in fact. They were sim­ply com­piled to work with 10.9 and that’s that. Sun­rise cal­en­dar is one exam­ple. But most apps work on 10.8, at least for now, includ­ing Scrivener, iA Writer, Byword (will not work on 10.7 or below, how­ever), Aeon Time­line, etc.

OK then, bye bye now.

 

 

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Submit! Submission Trackers for Writers

Posted by on Jul 21, 2014 in Tools, Writing | 0 comments

 

Mmk. So. You write some stuff, right? Some sort of My Lit­tle Pony erot­ica, or Yeti romance, or a space opera with an actual opera album included. Now you want to send that bad-boy out to mag­a­zines, or e-zines, or pod­casts, or a ran­dom neighbor’s house wrapped around a brick.

Good.

And now it comes back, rejected. Or, if the gods of luck smile upon you (or you hap­pen to be writ­ing fan-fiction erot­ica of some boy band, that seems to work as well) the story may even be accepted. Now you need to track the his­tory of this, and the other thou­sand sto­ries you have written.

Where have you sent this story?

What was the reply?

Did it sell? It isn’t a good idea to send out sold sto­ries to other outlets…

Has it been to every­one, and maybe should sim­ply be trunked for now?

 

You could track these via pen and paper, I sup­pose. But I know my hand­writ­ing. I would be lucky if my chicken-scratch hand­writ­ing didn’t require an Egyp­tol­o­gist to deci­pher in a few months.

Nah. Let’s do this dig­i­tally. And I’ll tell you, there are a lot of options.

 

First up, my cur­rent favorite

It is sim­ple, runs on any computer/smartphone/browser/internet-enabled blender you own. And it’s free.

Using a Google spread­sheetJamie Todd Rubin has crafted a fine lit­tle sub­mis­sion tracker. The power of tabs allows the spread­sheet to be divided into sec­tions — one for enter­ing in the mar­kets and mag­a­zines, another to enter info about the works, etc.

The impor­tant tab is the sub­mis­sions tab, which looks a lit­tle some­thing like this:

 

The Google spreadsheet

Oooh, rejected!

 

You can see just how sim­ple this is. The green fields are cal­cu­lated for you, so all you have to do is input the names of the mar­kets and works, enter the date of sub­mis­sion, etc. and it takes care of the rest.

And since this is a Google spread­sheet, you can access it on any­thing with a half decent web browser.

Go get it!

 

Y? Because we love it!

Next up is Sonar, a great piece of soft­ware by the cre­ator of yWriter — which you should be using if Scrivener isn’t your thing.

Sonar is like a per­sonal data­base for all your sub­mis­sion track­ing needs. A slick lit­tle inter­face lets you track sub­mis­sion dates, con­tact info, how much you made per sale, etc.

Sonar 3

Sonar 3 in action, and OMG I hate Win­dows XP’s blue theme!

 

The prob­lem, in my case, is it is Win­dows only. And this is com­ing from a tech guy — the kind of guy who runs Win­dows pro­grams on his Mac, and Linux pro­grams in Win­dows, and… Well, you get the pic­ture. But even with the var­i­ous tricks I know for run­ning Win­dows apps under OS X, I couldn’t get Sonar to behave.

But! If you are a Win­dows user (or Linux, as I have got­ten Sonar to work under Ubuntu just fine) and don’t like the idea of the Google spread­sheet above, well, this is the one for you. And it’s free.

 

Online, free and fine

You may want a place where you don’t have to do most of the work — mar­kets are already entered, response times tracked, and you just put in you work (My Amaz­ing Story About Cheese) and select pre-populated mar­kets and gen­res from handy drop down boxes.

The (Sub­mis­sion) Grinder fits that bill.

Like Duotrope, but with­out the monthly fee (Duotrope is $5 a month, not ter­ri­bly expen­sive, but this stuff adds up). A sub­mis­sion tracker with a mar­ket search includ­ing aver­age response times (really handy), you plop in your story info and let the site do the rest.

The Grinder

Just look at those handy stats, folks.

 

 

Frankly (my dear) I like it. It has a very sim­ple stay-the-hell-out-of-my-damned-way inter­face which, while not super pretty, is very func­tional. I signed up (free) and slapped in my recent rejec­tion from Escape Pod within sec­onds. The genre drop-down box had all the gen­res you would need, even erot­ica (for you yeti love folks) and every­thing was slick as butter.

Mmmm, but­ter…

 

And, now some NERD TIME!!!1

Alright, I have a con­fes­sion to make. I really, really like to use old soft­ware for mod­ern things. Like writ­ing in ancient-assed word proces­sors from 1980. So it should come as no sur­prise that I found a great piece of old soft­ware for track­ing submissions.

Known as SAMM (here is the site, but the down­load links don’t work BECAUSE IT IS SOOOO OLD!), it was a fine piece of soft­ware writ­ten for Win­dows and DOS that had all the bells and whis­tles one needs in sub­mis­sion track­ing software.

Now, this stuff will not run on a mod­ern sys­tem, but that’s OK because DOSBOX for the win!

NEEERD!

OMG, NERD SENSE TINGLING!

 

I’ll tell you, if you ever get stuck in a time machine and end up tele­ported to the 90′s, this would be the bang-up pro­gram for sub­mis­sion track­ing. Much like Sonar, you enter in your works and mar­kets and gen­res and then use the info to track all of your (failed) attempts at being published!

Now, the SAMM page itself is full of bro­ken links, but through the magic of the Way­back Machine we can see the site as it was years ago and even down­load the programs.

 

The end result:

In the end, it doesn’t mat­ter what pro­gram you use as long as you use some­thing. Once you have a few sto­ries out there wait­ing there turn for rejec­tion and humil­i­a­tion, things get hec­tic. Keep­ing a log of this stuff in a way that lets you search and exam­ine the data will keep you from send­ing the same story to some­place twice, or a sold story out my mis­take, etc.

My two cents: Use one per­sonal, unshared tracker (the Google spread­sheet, Sonar, the tanned flesh of an enemy) and one online, search­able tracker (The (Sub­mis­sion) Grinder, Duotrope, etc.)

It doesn’t take more than a few sec­onds to enter the info into 2 places, gives you a sort of backup in case one or the other shits the bed.

I mean, why not track your fail­ures in mul­ti­ple ways!

 

 

 

 

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My Patreon Page Lives!

Posted by on Jul 14, 2014 in Patreon, Writing | 0 comments

 

So, today I finally got my Patreon page up and run­ning. It took a whole heck of a lot longer than I expected — these things take time, and there is a lot to it. Rewards, goals, sum­mon­ing the old ones for their favor, etc.

At the Patreon page you will find sto­ries — flash fic­tion, short sto­ries, novel chap­ters — posted at least once a week. There you can, if the spirit takes you, sup­port my efforts via patron­age, or just read away free of charge!

 

Patreon, for those who don’t know, is a rel­a­tively new thing as of this writ­ing. A sort of cross breed­ing of Kick­starter and Flattr/Paypal dona­tion but­tons, Patreon lets cre­ators give you con­tent, and in return, if you feel it is worth it, you can drop a dol­lar or two per story/cartoon/video, what­ever they are making.

In my case it is fic­tion. I’ve been work­ing hard on a num­ber of ser­ial sto­ries and story worlds. I’m talk­ing build­ing wikis of this stuff. So there are a bunch of tales ready to be put down on dig­i­tal paper and con­sumed by your hun­gry eyeballs.

As of now, there is one story wait­ing for you there. Go and check it out, and see if my style suits you. Read up on what my plans are, and what kind of rewards you get for sup­port­ing my efforts. Or sim­ply book­mark that bad-boy and check in once in a while. Most of the con­tent will be free for all, with some locked off for patrons only — but the bulk will be there for every­one to see.

 

If you like sci-fi, fan­tasy, and bizarre sto­ries you should head over to my Patreon page and take a gan­der! Or not, if you want to see me cry. And trust me, I don’t get any bet­ter look­ing bawl­ing like a child, so spare your­self the visual.

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The Wild and Tangled Paths of Conan

Posted by on Jun 28, 2014 in Reading | 0 comments

Have you ever done some­thing so crazy, so mad, that in hind­sight it makes you ques­tion your sanity?

 

You know, like that time you woke up wear­ing an ape suit and cov­ered in jelly? No judg­ment. Just remind­ing you. I have pictures.

 

In an incred­i­ble lapse of judg­ment I decided it would be inter­est­ing to check out the his­tory of everyone’s favorite bar­bar­ian, Conan. And not the Arnold Swartzen­ham­mer Conan, the biter of poorly made pup­pet buzzards.

 

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Windows Users Don’t Need No Stinking Twitter Client (I Guess) (Edit)

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 in Rants | 4 comments

 

 

Am I the only one who thinks Win­dows users are get­ting shafted when it comes to (every­thing) Twit­ter clients?

I don’t ask for much from a Twit­ter client — but I do ask a lit­tle. Mul­ti­ple columns, a damned spell-checker (I mean, really — it’s 2014 foks! We haz teh tech­molo­gie!), the abil­ity to view lists either as columns or woven into the feed (or what use is a stu­pid list?)

Android? Check! iOS? Check! OS X? Check!

Win­dows?

Nah.

Here are your choices — Twit­ter or Tweet­deck. And, maybe, Hoot­suite if you don’t mind the crazy inter­face and lack of real­time stream updates.

MetroTwit was nice. For a while. ‘Till Twit­ter shafted 3rd party programs.

Seesmic was con­sumed, its lit­tle furry legs kick­ing, by Hootsuite.

Oh, and Tweet­ium which looks good except:

  1. It is a Win­dows metro app, mean­ing it runs in the lit­tle dum­b­ass part of Win­dows 8 no one uses and can­not be used with reg­u­lar desk­top apps.
  2. I can’t get it to con­nect to Twitter.

And since Tweet­deck seemed to allow peo­ple to do funky things to your com­puter via spe­cially coded tweets (bravo, guys! Way to secure things!) that leaves…

Noth­ing.

Janet­ter for Win­dows can’t con­nect any­more, MetroTwit has gone the way of the dodo, Tweet­Deck leaves you pants­less, Hoot­suite is good but isn’t stand-alone (though you could do the old “make short­cut” trick with Chrome), and Tweet­ium is designed for Win­dows Baby-Mode-Wish-I-Was-An-OS metro.

It’s like a Twit­ter desert out here. Some­one throw me some water, will ya’?

 

EDIT:

I was able to get Janet­ter to work on both my Win­dows machine and my Mac. The trick may be to first log into Twitter.com, then use Janet­ter to ‘con­nect account’. If you look at the address bar of your browser you will see, at the end, some­thing like ‘forcelogin=true’ or some­thing to that effect. Copy the whole address up to that point, start­ing at ye olde http and end­ing right before the amper­sand (&) before the force login bit.

Now, with that bit copied, see if you are still signed into Twitter.com, and if you are, paste that bit in to the address bar and hit enter.

The force login part makes Twit­ter drop you and force you to log in again, at which time it will tell you Janet­ter can no longer add new tokens. But if you are already logged in and don’t allow it to log out out on its own, some­how it lets it work.

This is alright for now, as Janet­ter is a nice client — you can view lists as columns, see info on tweets, fol­low con­ver­sa­tions, etc. But, in Win­dows, there is no spell check­ing which sucks for the spelling impaired (like myself). The Mac ver­sion has spell check­ing, but only because in OS X, every field can have it (right click in the field, go to spelling and gram­mar, select ‘check spelling as you type’).

Mmmk then.

 

*poof*

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When Antivirus Software Acts Like Malware

Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 in Rants | 0 comments

I don’t know about you, but I have a very strict def­i­n­i­tion of mal­ware. Mal­ware, Latin for “imma eat your com­puter,” is any­thing that does shit it ain’t sup­posed to.

Period.

Does it install itself with­out my permission?

Mal­ware.

Does it come bun­dled with oh-so-helpful tool­bars, addons, or genet­i­cally altered vir­tual beings bent on world domination?

Mal­ware.

Does it change any sys­tem set­tings with­out my consent?

Mal­ware.

Does it delete or remove files with­out allow­ing me to inter­cede and say yea or nay?

Damned mal­ware.

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Gettin’ Soupy

Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Food, Health | 0 comments

A quick and cheap way to make a big ol’ vat of soup

 

 

 

I’ve talked before about my chang­ing diet. You know, not want­ing to con­sume chem­i­cals used to make yoga mats, or hydro­genated oils that are mere mol­e­cules away from being plastic.

I’m not health focused to the detri­ment of enjoy­ing life. I love me some dark ale and ice cream, and I count no carbs.

But I also don’t want to be the guy who’s quadru­ple bypass surgery ends up being a teach­able moment to a hun­dred pale stu­dent doc­tors at some university.

 

What’s the worst part of chang­ing your diet?

Fig­ur­ing out what the hell to eat, of course.

Hav­ing been raised on meat and con­sum­ing my fair share of fast food (pos­si­bly to the detri­ment of my lit­tle, shriv­eled pan­creas. I said pan­creas, peo­ple, get your mind out of the gut­ter…) it was a real leap of faith to cut the crap out of my food. You are awash in junk food — peanut put­ter that is a huge part hydro­genated oils (really, really bad for your kids, folks), a cul­ture that spurns veg­eta­bles as the wishy-washy hippy food or side dishes.

But once you find a few good dishes, that all changes. The world opens up to you and the dishes of a thou­sand cul­tures besides ‘Murica Meat Noms Chicken Steak All The Time bea­cons you.

So, here is a good dish.

 

First, get ye some Bet­ter Than Bul­lion broth base. I know it is a few bucks, but remem­ber — just how much do you pay for soup in a can? $4 a can? $5 a can?

This jar will make you 6-9 quarts of soup. That’s three of those big two-handled pasta pots. That’s a lot of cans.

And that is the sin­gle most expen­sive part of this soup. The rest, well, is sim­ple and cheap.

Get some veggies:

  • Car­rots rock ass in soup. 3 or so large car­rots chopped into lit­tle round bits is good for a 3 quart soup.
  • Beans, a can of red and a can of black — or what­ever type of beans you like. They end up much the same in a soup.
  • 1 can of corn in water — not the creamed stuff.
  • Mush­rooms can work nice as well — 3/4 pound of crem­ini mush­rooms works out nice in 3 quarts of soup.
  • 1 or 2 pep­pers — you don’t often see pep­pers in soup but I think they work out nice.
  • Any other veg­gie that soups well, just don’t overdo it or you’ll have more veg­gie than soup!

Pour 3 quarts of water into a big-ol’ sauce pan and get it boiling.

Add the cor­rect amount of Bet­ter Than Bul­lion — nor­mally 1 1/2 table­spoons per quart (so we are talk­ing 4 1/2 total for 3 quarts) into the boil­ing water and stir.

Add the veg­gies. Bring back up to a boil and then sim­mer, cov­ered, for 30 min­utes to an hour. I like an hour, per­son­ally, as it makes every­thing nice and soft.

While that is going, whip up some rice (1 cup should do it). Do not add the rice to the soup or it will absorb the whole damn thing — trust me. Instead, when the soup is ready, add a lit­tle rice to each bowl.

Con­sume deli­cious soup.

 

I’ve said it before, but it is worth repeat­ing: do not buy veg­eta­bles at a super­mar­ket if you can avoid it. They gouge the hell out of the prices, and this is why peo­ple think veg­eta­bles are so expensive.

If you hit a farm­ers mar­ket you’ll find 5 pounds of car­rots for a few dol­lars, canned beans at 60 cents a can, pep­pers at 99 cents a pound.

 

Try it out and let me know what you think.

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