Posted by Jarsto in Media, Radio
September 25th, 2010 | 1 Comment »

I recently managed to get my hands on a lot of old recordings of the BBC Radio 4 show Just a Minute. It’s a fun gameshow where contestants (mainly comedians) are challenged to speak without repetition, deviation or hesitation for one minute on a subject assigned to them by the chairman.

It’s a good listen just for the fun of it, but I particularly like listening to it these days, because I’ve been thinking a lot about ethics for my NaNoWriMo project this year. Now what does ethics have to do with gameshows you may ask?


Posted by Jarsto in NaNoWriMo 2010, Writing
September 24th, 2010 | No Comments »

Yes, November is approaching once more, so it’s time for me to start worrying about NaNoWriMo. And the first major worry this year was finding a title for my NaNo project.

I’ve had characters and a story in mind for months now, but a title, even a working title, was proving illusive. Finally though I’ve settled on Pure Time as a working title. Both to reflect the time-travel aspects of the story (pure time is a timeline without any time-travel incursions) and to reflect the moral dilemma I’m about to inflict on one of my characters.

The origin of the idea of Pure Time as a title was Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. That got me to Critique of Pure Time. But that seemed slightly to elitist as a title. I may change my mind about that later, but for now Pure Time will do as a working title.


Posted by Jarsto in Category 42
September 24th, 2010 | No Comments »

Yes, it’s finally happened. After way too long not doing anything on the old site, I’ve decided to put up an entirely new look, and start putting some stuff online again. Hopefully I should be blogging more than about once a year from now on.

I’m not sure whether or not I’ll import all the stuff from the old blog to this one. For now though you can still see it here.


Posted by Jarsto in Gordian Knot, Writing
July 18th, 2009 | No Comments »

I haven’t been doing enough on the Gordian Knot edit lately, but today I took a fresh look at it. And though it’s taken me quite a while I’ve come to a decision: I’m going to break one of the rules I’ve set myself and not finish this draft.

I’ve been struggling with this for a while now, but after a lot of thought I’ve had to conclude that finishing this draft just wouldn’t be worth the time it would take. The edit has been an “off and on” project for too long, and my general writing style now isn’t what it was when I started the edit, so it would never truly read as one draft anyway.

On top of that I’ve been doing quite a bit of work on, and thinking about, the stories background recently. Adding in a lot of new worldbuilding, and rethinking some of the old. Once that process is complete it will need one or two major, and a lot more minor, changes to the narrative even in its second draft form.

All of which means that, all things considered, starting over from scratch once the worldbuilding is ready seems like the right thing to do. That will finally place my characters, and their actions, in the sort of rich universe I feel I’ve only been simulating thus far.

It will mean I need to put in more time to get a new draft ready, but I’m convinced it will be a better draft as a result. I’m hoping to map out a preliminary time-line with various targets on it tomorrow. And while I can’t guarantee I’ll keep to it, my current aim is to blog more actively about the project as it progresses.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I really need to return to pondering faster than light sensor technology…


Posted by Jarsto in Media, Technology
June 24th, 2009 | No Comments »

As those who follow me on twitter will know, I’ve been doing without my PC for a few days now. Not because I want to, but because my motherboard decided to short out on me. Even though this is not a nice experience, there are some positive sides to it. Granted, I’m not sure I’d see any positives if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve been able to re-purpose my file server to serve as a temporary desktop without too much trouble.

But as I do have my re-purposed file server keeping me connected to the essentials I’ve decided to do a little blog post about the surprising positives I’ve noticed in being cut off from my regular PC. Not that I’d recommend anyone get their mboard shorted out just to experience these…

Item One

I no longer have all the links I’d normally take for granted in my bookmarks, toolbar, and history. This may sound like a weird positive, but I find it is. It’s made me realise just how much of a creature of habit I really am. There are sited I visit regularly, sites I know the address off, which I simply can’t be bothered to go to when I have to actually type that address. Not bothering with those sites has left me the time to do a lot more reading than I had been doing for a while.

Item Two

Another positive thing for me is that lacking my PC has forced me to make some decisions. I’d been thinking about a Magnatune streaming membership for quite a while, but I only got around to actually getting one because I’ve been cut off from all the music that’s stored on my desktop. As a result I’ve listened to, and enjoyed, more new music in the last few days than in the previous month or so.

Item Three

Related to the missing links, but a little different, I’ve found that aside from my browsing habits my routine has also changed a little. Most the changes aren’t massive, I’ve made sure my backup desktop is now running pretty much the same software my PC normally uses, but it has made me reconsider other things – like that large number of RSS feeds I’m subscribed to, even though I mostly click “Mark All Read” because I haven’t the time to read them. I’ve already mentally scheduled a thorough RSS cleanup for when the PC is up and running again.

Looking Back

So what do I feel looking back after a few days? Well I’ll still be glad tomorrow when I can pick up my new board and get my regular PC up and running again. But even so these intervening days haven’t been as bad as I’d first thought they might be. And the replacement I’ve ordered – replacing mboard, proc & memory – is also an upgrade that should put off the need to buy a new PC entirely at least a while longer.

And of course when I do get the (upgraded) PC back up and running I can carry some of the changes to my routine made during the last few days back there. That way the crash may actually have a positive effect in the long term.


Posted by Jarsto in Technology
June 2nd, 2009 | 2 Comments »

It’s been too long since my last update to this blog. I don’t know why, but every time I decide to blog more, I keep it up for a little bit and then drop off again. And my last burst of activity was, of course, no different then the others in the end. And recently there’s been Twitter, which has replaced blogging, at least in some cases. But Twitter is, in a way, also the reason I’m blogging now. Because I’ve been having fun with code again lately, and it’s thanks to Twitter.

I was somewhat intrigued at first by mentions of the Twitter API. And then I started noticing (I must have seen them before, but I’d never actually noticed) some of the various ways people display Twitter statuses on other websites. And while there were some pretty good ones, I ran into the usual problem: none of them did exactly what I wanted them to do, the way I wanted them to do it.

Granted I could have lived with some of them, but I decided it would be more fun to write my own. Which is why I’ve been blowing the dust and rust off my PHP skills recently, working on my first ever wordpress plugin. It’s not done yet, and it’s only seen limited testing, but I’m hoping to take the code public as of version 0.5. Now I just have to figure out what features I want to have in 0.5.

The main problem seems to be one of balance – which I’ve always thought is probably the main trick of life anyway. In this case the balance is between allowing the user to customise the way they want the plugin to appear, and having something that runs without the user having to (virtually) write their own plugin.


Posted by Jarsto in Writing
February 22nd, 2009 | No Comments »

While I managed to stay out of the black hole immediately after NaNoWriMo this year, it did manage to rear it’s ugly head later in December.

For a couple of months, let’s say the second half of December through to the first half of February, I did very little writing indeed. But the last couple of weekends I’ve managed to get some decent stretches of 500 words or more in. It’s not a lot, but it’s a new start after the post-NaNo black hole.

My goal for the coming week is to try and write at least 100 words per day. Which is very little in some ways, but balancing my time to do any writing at all during the week is enough of a challenge right now. I’ve also decided that, although I usually don’t work out my plots, I do need to sit down and work out at least a couple of chapters right now.

Balancing two story lines doesn’t seem like it ought to be complicated, but getting them to keep pace (at least roughly) in story time, is proving tricky right now. That might have something to do with the relatively small blocks of writing I’m putting in. Keeping track of how much time was spent in the last visit to the other story line gets tricky when that last visit was more than a week ago for the writer.


Posted by Jarsto in The Experiment
February 22nd, 2009 | 3 Comments »

Strange though it may seem – at least it seems strange to me – I have now owned a plant for over 2 weeks. It has survived, and what’s more, I’m pretty sure it’s grown. Based on my past history keeping plants that’s quite an accomplishment on its part.

But the fact that it’s grown is now starting to be a problem I’ll have to deal with. it seems to be getting to a point where its stalks will no longer stay upright without any help. Right now I’m not sure whether or not that’s a bad sign of some sort. Guess I’ve got some research to do.


Posted by Jarsto in The Experiment
February 9th, 2009 | 5 Comments »

By popular demand: a photo of the subject and I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know I’ve managed to keep myself from making it look a bit worse on purpose to pre-emptively disguise any damage living with me might do to it.

Peppermint Plant


Posted by Jarsto in The Experiment
February 8th, 2009 | 2 Comments »

I embarked upon something of an experiment yesterday: I bought a plant. This may not seem like an earth shattering event, but up until now I’ve never really been a plant person. In fact I’m still not sure I’m a plant person.

I do however like peppermint tea, which may have contributed to the mad up welling that led me to buy a peppermint plant when I saw them on sale at the grocery store. To put this up welling even further into context: I don’t currently own any pot that is meant to have a plant kept in it.

I’ve managed to get around that (for now) by combining a washed up plastic yoghurt pot and some Duct Tape (the latter mainly for appearances sake, so that my peppermint doesn’t claim to be strawberry yoghurt).

To be perfect honest I may have been over eager in giving this phenomenon it’s own category on the blog, but my intention right now is to keep the world informed of the plant’s progress. If nothing else that will force me to occasionally remember to water it.

As for the initial report. As far as I can tell the subject of the experiment is doing fine. I’ve made sure it has plenty of water, and am reasonably confident I haven’t taken this to the point of drowning it (yet). A quick visual inspection of my thumbs doesn’t seem to show any green shading yet though.