Writing with a Hacker mentality

As a follow up to the earlier article, I thought I’d ramble on about writing.

Science Fiction is a genre where possibilities are examined. Hard SF is where those possibilities are within the realm of science as we know it. Soft SF is where those possibilities push past the boundaries.

We know that the world is round and that it revolves around the sun and that our moon spins while also revolving around us as we spin and revolve around the sun which is also spinning. aka Orbits. The ‘Pern’ serious by Lackey deals, in part, with orbits. Another planet orbits the same sun as the dragons’ planet. Every once in a while, that planet comes close enough that the organisms on it are able to shoot through space and make it to the ground. Orbit is hard SF. Organisms leaping purposefully into space in order move to another planet, that is soft SF. Lackey is a writing hacker by taking known science and shifting its parameters around. She further hacks away at genetics via the invention of these dragons that like to spit fire at the ‘threads’ (the organisms).

In the fantasy world that contains a country named Valdemar, some of the citizens are born possessing magical gifts that reach the surface of that person at the same time as physical maturity. We know that a lot of things happen to the human body at the time of physical maturity. We also know that there are energy patterns on our own planet. The writer (Lackey again?) hacks those concepts and comes up with a wonderful book series.

E.R. Burroughs and his Tarzan books have led to how many variations on the same them?

The writer of Alice in Wonderland has led to a wide array of books dealing with what can happen with the most simplest of events.

The Brothers Grimm wrote horror, only then it was considered children’s stories. How many books are based on the concept of “Hansel and Gretel”? (think about it)

Writers are hackers. We take an idea in our head and we craft it so that it comes out interesting enough that others would want to read it.

I like that idea. Maybe now I can tell folks that I am a hacker. It is probably more socially accepting than to say I am a writer.

Hacker vs Cracker

PC language has been known as Politically Correct language. However, PC language has another, less known meaning: Personal/Portable Computer language.

There was/is BASIC. get, if, then… simple, to the point.
Somewhere along the line came UNIX. I never got around to learning that one, since I was out of college and no longer had geeks to hang with.

Now there is Open Source. While not a language, it is a term for when anyone using any computer language in any kind of software or process chooses to not keep their code a big secret and instead shows it to the world. Basically.

Growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, we had our ‘nerds’ and ‘geeks’. Now there are also ‘hackers’ and ‘crackers’. I learned today that there is a huge difference between the two. Hackers play with Open Source software by manipulating it to either fix it, change it, personalize it, whatever it. They believe that originality is to be cherished but shared. They believe that the world is round and nothing is ever made brand spanking new. Ideas are based on the ideas of others. If we kept our ideas to ourselves, we would move forward slower each year. Hackers also are not limited to software code. Hackers can be musicians (such as the internet phenom of ‘DJs’ taking existing music and smerging them into a single long piece) and even fiction writers (what else is the fantasy genre but a smerging of existing concepts and dreams?).

Then there are Crackers. Crackers are those that break through security codes and create chaos. Crackers take pride in invading the private space of computers belong to others, ranging from big business to individuals.

According to the How to be a Hacker website, “The basic difference is this: hackers build things, crackers break them.” Much thanks to Dougal for putting up the ‘Hacker’ emblem that showed me the way.

Therefore, based on this principle, I feel that it would be perfectly fine for me to state I am a Hacker. When I was taking production craft classes, my pottery teacher told us (after an incident with alleged style copying) that ‘all pots start out round. what you do with it afterwards is what makes it yours.’ Meaning it is difficult to come up with an idea for pottery style without it coming close to someone elses. What you choose to do with that idea, that style, is what makes it original. Using someone else’s choosing and not your own is not making it your own.

All ideas are round. What you do with your idea is what makes it yours.

CSS fun

oh joy oh joy how much fun I am having learning CSS

At any rate, a friend recommended I check out a freebie from CoffeeCup Software. The freebie, called CoffeeCup SiteMapper goes through the your folders and spits out a listing of them, depending on the extension of the files. You give it the location of your index.* file and off it goes. I just did up the paulaoffutt.com site, cleaned it up, and viola! There it is.

While at CoffeeCup Software, I downloaded a demo of their stylesheet maker. I played with it some. It is easier to figure out than EasyCSS but I think I like the EasyCSS better. Don’t know why, just do.

However, the same company’s EasySiteMapper is much more difficult to use. It will do the job, but will be raw and ugly.

I think it is time this punkin head went to bed. Last time I was up late and messin’ on the puter, I wound up freaking.

Waste not, want not

Insomnia is a terrible thing to waste. So I didn’t.

You may notice yet more subtle changes to the blog, such as the quote that appears at the top of the right sidebar.

I also finally found an excellent source for learning PHP!! The W3C site, the World Wide Web Consortium, has a variety of information regarding the internet, but especially in how the internet is laid out. They set the standards so that everyone is speaking the same language, even those whose language is different. I cruised there to look up some HTML code and found the CSS information.

What I like about the articles the most is that it assumes nothing. It is in understandable english. And still is enough to not be taken seriously.

At any rate, I am working on my 25th hour or so without sleep. Reckon I’ll head in there.

Back-Up Boogie Blues

Well, not really the blues. I discovered a way to synchronize without having to copy over the entire huge file.

I upload the folder to the ‘net using WSFTP pro. Then I go to the desktop and download it from the net using the same program. WSFTP lets you set up ‘sychronize files’. Meaning, the laptop is set up to update the net based on what is new/different on the laptop. The desktop is set up to update the D: drive based on what is new/different on the ‘net. And all I have to do is run that file. I will also make a CD of the whole thing every week.

Now I don’t have to sit here for an hour or more for the sync-ing to go on between the two computers over the network.

Procrastination at its most desperate

Friend of mine, darn her to heck, sent me a link to an online game. Good thing she lives all the way over in Charlotte or I’d slap her sillier. It is in German, I think by a bus/trolley company. Anyway, you keep the man upright by moving your mouse sideways. No clicking, just move the mouse. It is very addicting! I played it some this morning and stopped when I reached 79metres!! Allegedly the record is 85m.

Had a frightening moment last night. Well, half hour or so. I do regular backups of my WIP (works in progress) folder, the one that holds all my writing projects in 12 subfolders. I do monthly CD burns as well as send it via the network over to the 2nd hard drive on the desktop once a week.

Then yesterday (the day where I went with two hours sleep in over 36hrs) I messed around with the Windohs Briefcase option. The beginning of an adventure I hope to never repeat.
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Too little sleep

I am working on two hours sleep since I got up yesterday at about 10am.

I’m thinking I’m going to keep this theme. Yeah, the Quentin was elegant, but small. This one has three columns and is more flexible.

If you really liked the other one that bad, let me know. Else, I’ll think no one but me gives a rip and I’ll keep this one. Or change it again to something else. heh.

I’m afraid that if I lay down, I’ll just wake up later and be awake all night again. I’m thinking of going to bed when Lorna does. Gee, we haven’t done that in a LONG time.

Anyway, I’m off to find something else on the ‘net to do.

Let's file this under emotional scarring.