Friday, March 22, 2013

Cell Phone Hokey Pokey

Random scene today. I wanted to write something short and this bit came to mind. Ever have phantom spasms where you store your cell phone? Happens to me all the time, especially when I'm anxious about a call. Then I pull my phone out and check it twelve times before telling myself to stop being obsessive. Wonderful inventions, these cellular telephones. :-)

Not sure where/if this will end up fitting in the story, but it was fun to write. Hope you enjoy.
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You Put Your Right Leg In

Damian’s leg vibrated. His hand was fishing around in the pocket before he even realized it. Reeling in the catch, Damian studied his phone.

Are all of the world’s intimate secrets now made clear? Inigo asked.


I’ve heard it said that such a device contains the world wide web, no?

Damian’s brain had trouble processing both Inigo’s statement and the state of the phone. There were no messages. No alerts.

I swear it went off.

He shoved the device back in his pocket.

A false alarm?Inigo said.

I guess.

His leg vibrated again. Reflex had the phone out in seconds. Again, the screen was brain.

What the hell?

He set the phone on the table. A few seconds later, his hand was in his pocket again, only this time, there was no phone to catch.

Muscle spasm? Inigo offered.

I guess. Damian replied. Maybe I’ve developed some sort of superpower, able to anticipate a future phone call.

Or perhaps you are just overly anxious to hear from her.

Perhaps. Damian admitted.

He stared at the phone, foot tapping beneath the table.

Probably. He amended.

He felt Inigo’s rolling eyes.
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Friday, March 15, 2013

A Google Reader Alternative

This is not the fiction post you were looking for, I know. Still, it may be pretty useful for many of you. I posted the same article on my gaming blog, but it bears repeating both places. Anyway, here we go...

The announcement Google made about retiring Reader sent me into a mental tailspin (as well as a whole bunch of others, it seems). I've been a Google Reader user for years now, and I'm not even sure I could find half the blogs I like to read again if Reader just disappeared. So yeah, I was just a bit panicked. Plus, as a content provider, you have to somewhat wonder how this is going to affect your readership.

Have no fear. Feedly to the rescue!

After I calmed down a bit, I suspected it probably would not be too hard to find a replacement. Surely, someone else has created a clever RSS-based reading application. It did not take long. I found Feedly right away, installed the Chrome app, logged in, and perhaps 15 minutes later was staring at my Google Reader subscriptions in a new service. After a bit of poking around, I was sold.

Then, I decided to go look to see if my Reader subscriptions would be safe with Feedly after the inevitable shutdown. The good folks at the Feedly blog had two wonderful articles. One with tips for all of us transitioning from Google Reader. The other explaining how your subscriptions WILL be transferred over (short answer: seamlessly and without any action on my part. Huzzah!).

I figured I'd pass this all along as a sort of public service announcement, as many of you undoubtedly had faced similar freak-outs in the last few days. I want to note that I am in no way affiliated or receiving anything from Feedly. I'm just pimping them because they're the first service I came across, it was super simple to set up, imported my existing subs with a button, and assured me that they've got my back when Reader is shut down. What's not to like?

So no, I do not think Google shutting down Reader will be the end of blogging. I don't think it will really harm traffic all that much. Sure some folks may be left in the dark, but where there's a will, there's a way. If we keep creating content that folks want to read, they'll figure out how to read it. How do I know this? Because I'm more consumer than creator these days anyway!

Case closed. The Mayans were still wrong.
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Friday, March 8, 2013

Chapter 3 - Intro

Back this week with another scene. Chapter 2 would be a short chapter. I switch to 3 here as we've switch location, which is sort of what I'm using to break up "chapters." Sort of an arbitrary choice, but I think it helps keep things clear.

Not too much going on here. I set up the scene and try to have some fun fleshing out my two characters. I really enjoy having a voice inside my main character's head, as it provides someone with which to have constant dialog and spruce up normally description-heavy sections. To me, it just makes things more fun. I'm also skimping a bit on description, relying the reader's experience to fill in the blanks. Pretty safe to assume that most people have been to a hotel at some point. I note that it's not a dive, but otherwise unremarkable.

The chapter's name makes more sense down the road I think, so I won't comment too much on it just yet.

For the record, I don't have any plants in my house, plastic or otherwise. But I do not mind wide-brimmed hats.
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Can I Expense That?

Damian pulled into the hotel parking space and the engine sputtered off. As usual, the door did not want to open when he pushed against it. He put his shoulder down and gave a harder shove. It squealed past the point of resistance, flinging wide. Thankfully, the space next to him was unoccupied. He'd chosen this space – furthest from the door – for just that reason.

Sometimes, it is considered mercy to kill a lame horse, Inigo pontificated.

Damian chose not to respond. Instead, he yanked the trunk open and removed his luggage. He slung a black bag containing a laptop over his shoulder. The other, larger piece was on wheels. Damian heaved it out and pulled on the handle. It slid halfway, and then stuck.

Damian pressed the button again and pulled. Nothing. He pressed harder and jiggled things a bit. The handle would not budge. He pulled and rattled, rattled and pulled. No dice. He cursed, but that didn't solve the problem, either. Finally, Damian turned and trudged toward the hotel, stooped at an uncomfortable angle.

I wonder if she got my voice message, Damian's mind wandered.

Are such messages often waylaid? Inigo asked.

Damian considered. I suppose it depends on the person.

She could have lost her phone for all Damian knew. Or left it at home while she was at work. Or turned the ringer off and didn't realize he was trying to reach her. Whatever the case, he hoped she wasn't sitting alone at home, waiting on him. Not that any girl ever would ever do that. Ever.

He considered calling again, but didn't want to risk pushing the number of missed calls into double digits. It would seem desperate, he reasoned with a nod.

Inigo let that one pass with only a chuckle.

The check-in went as smoothly as one might expect. His last name had been misspelled: G-a-r-d-n-e-r, Gardner. People always insisted on adding an extra “e” for some reason. He was neither a botanist, nor a tiller of land. Wide brimmed hats made him look silly, and his thumbs were most assuredly not green. In fact, all of the plants in his apartment were plastic.

The room was tolerable. There was not an inch of dust on the faux-wooden surfaces. No shards of glass lurked in the bathroom sink. The air was free of a musty chlorinated smell. The bed was only slightly lumpy when Damian lay down atop the comforter. He'd been in worse. Heck, he might even risk sleeping beneath the covers.

There was a time when one was fortunate to be able to sleep on something other than straw, Inigo noted. Shall I call you Lord Damian?

If you wish, fair subject, Damian answered. He waved his hand majestically to the amusement of the empty room.

If the voice in his head could have scowled in disgust, Damian was sure Inigo would have. It made him smile. The smile made him think of Genny. Damian pulled out his phone and stared at it. The clock read quarter to eight.

Damian sighed and reached over to turn on the bedside lamp. It was long, skinny, and utilitarian, like everything else in the room. Perhaps he would do some reading. He began to rummage through his things.

It is not too late! Inigo interjected.

Damian sighed. She is over an hour away, Inigo. There is no way I would be able to keep the date now.

A pity.

A knock at the door startled them both.
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