Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Four Car Pileup, My Book, and SCSI

I got off work right on time today, and on my way home I saw a fire truck, an ambulance, and a police car in the opposite lanes. Four cars had managed to smash into each other. Well, the guy in the front didn't do any smashing, so I guess only three. All the cars were in pretty bad shape. Funny thing is that the fourth car back had the most damage, as if it hit hardest. And no, I didn't rubberneck and slow down traffic. The guy in front of me did, so of course I looked while we were going slow.

So, I'm trying to put together in my mind how four cars end up like that on a road where the traffic was not very heavy, and when it is, it's moving very slowly. It is a very flat road, and visibility was excellent. Were three drivers paying that little attention? They had to have been looking at something else. We were between two corn fields, so I'm pretty sure they weren't gawking at a woman when it happened.

I finished reading through my book and making notes of what to move where, what to add, and what to change to a different point of view. It's tricky business, keeping track of a novel-length piece of work. If you can't take time to read it in fairly large chunks so that you don't forget any details, coherent revisions are very difficult. I might post it online in chunks. If you want to see it, then please encourage me in a comment. It will be a great motivator for me to work on this thing once and for all. I wrote it in one month about three years ago-- start, middle, end, and it's time to finish it.

Did I mention that Ben is awesome?

I went back to work at 8 p.m. to complete a couple of scheduled tasks that had to be done during downtime. They actually went off without a hitch.

(computer nerdly passage approaching)

Interesting part? I had to update the SCSI controller drivers and firmware on an IBM xSeries server running Windows 2000 Server. I think it's a 345. After I updated the driver (always do that first), I rebooted onto the ServeRAID Manager Support CD. I was pleasantly surprised to see Tux appear on the screen, and then a Linux GUI. It required only two clicks from me to flash the SCSI firmware. After it was finished doing this critical hardware-level work, it prompted me to reboot, where the server then loaded back into Windows. Oh well, I'm sure it enjoyed the brief time it spent with the penguin.

(computer nerdly passage over. post over. goodnight to me)


Jim said...


I know what you mean about trying to keep track of details when you aren't writing integrally. Have you ever tried any of the so called "novel-writing" softwares out there? I've evaluated a couple... the best I've found so far is called "New Novelist" . Still, it wasn't exactly what I was looking for: it claims to help you even structure the novel, which is really more than I am looking for.

What I would love to see (and have thought about writing) is some kind of Word add-in with a database look up, that would allow you to keep notes about characters, places, and even plot information in a hyperlink format. In other words, when you create a new character, for example, you can bring up a form and save descriptive information, history, and whatever you want to about him. Later, when you type the name of a character, you can right click to bring up the characters bio or quickly navigate to other paragraphs where the same character is mentioned. Just an example ... I think you get the idea. The thing could be as complex or simple as you want to make it.

Or would that be cheating??? ;-)

BTW, whenever you feel ready to have an "outsider" take a look at your work, I'd be happy to give it a go! Go ahead and post it online or send me a chunk! I can be brutally critical if you want, or blatantly adulant if you prefer!

Mark said...

I almost assuredly will take you up on that offer of reading my stuff. So much of the character details are based on folks I've known (but I mix and match their backgrounds), that my wife has a hard time being objective. Hey, when you're trying to write a 50,000 word book in a month, you throw in whatever comes quickest to you, and that's usually actual people.

Glad you axed about writing software. There's a totally free and very good program called RoughDraft. It does something similar to what you mentioned about a database linking to notes. In the right-side pane, it keeps a few different things (selectable by tabs), and it includes Pad. What appears in the Pad area depends what file you have open, so a great way to use this is to save each chapter in its own file.

It saves the main content in .rtf format, and automatically creates a .txt file by the same name, which it uses in Pad. So, if you need to quickly jot down details about a character you introduced in chapter 3 (or whatever), you can just open the chapter3.txt file in any text editor, add your stuff, and save it. Then, the next time you open RoughDraft to work on your content, you will see the new notes on the right in Pad.

Of course, you can change the notes within RoughDraft's Pad, too.

It also features a tabbed interface, so that you can easily switch around to different chapters. It has a few tools like word count, and others. The right-side pane also is a quick way to view and open files.

But, how can I print the whole book if it's in separate files? Easy. RoughDraft has a Print multiple files feature under the File menu.

Joyous, too, is that the files are very small and non-proprietary. Easy to backup, too.

See it here, with screenshots to help explain my horrible description:

Oh, then get it and try it, if you haven't (please say you haven't after all that stuff I just spewed forth).