All Hallows Write

What would bloggers do with out carnivals, tags, and the what not?

Sam Kasse has given us one for writers and Halloween. I found it via Jenna Moreci. Give both ladies a visit.

Queen Takes Knight is a soft-boiled detective novel which follows detective Russel Knight on a missing person’s case. Knight is hired by the very guarded Ms. White to find her missing boy Charles. When Knight realizes that boy in this case means leather boy he falls down a rabbit of alternate sexuality and political blackmail. The most frightening part, however, is Ms. White’s increasing hold over him.

It’s Halloween night! What is your protagonist dressed up as?

He probably isn’t. As his street contact Sable might say, the boy needs to lighten up and realize he is allowed to be part of the world.

Who in your cast refuses to dress up and shows up at the Halloween party without a costume?

Russel Knight is not wearing a costume. That said, people who didn’t know his profession would guess he was at the party in a detective costume. Knight’s strategy for the party would be to observe, question, and take notes.

Which character wears the most outrageous costume, and what would it be?

Sable would show up in a fabulous costume that combined all of the Village People with Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch to be the ultimate gay pimp.

On Halloween, werewolves, vampires, and zombies are on the prowl. Which of your characters gets caught in their clutches, and which creature do they subsequently turn into?

Charlie would wind up being mauled by a werewolf. He loves to play rough with men he meets at the Eagle, a leather bar, and likes them hairy and masculine. He also lacks a good self-preservation instinct which is how he ends up missing after his last pick up play at the club. He would think the razor claws were just sharp knives for some edge play until he was pretty mauled.

Even then he probably still enjoyed it.

Who wins the contest for best costume

Without a doubt Kirsten, the rope bunny. She would show up dressed as a very accurate Wonder Woman with several gold ropes of many lengths. Like the classic Wonder Woman of the comics she would wind up in her own golden lasso as much as he put other people in it.

Who hands out toothbrushes to the trick and treaters?

“Clippy” (as our hero calls him, we don’t know his real name) would do it just to be spiteful and that is on a good year. Neighborhood kids avoid his house since he gave away Jack Chick tracts one year.

Which two of your characters decide to pair up and do an angel/devil costume together?

They won’t this year but I suspect if Knight continues to fall for Ms. White like he is right now next year he’ll be the angel to her devil.

No, he won’t be allowed to say ‘no’.

Someone is too scared to even attend the Halloween party. Who is it?

Tom Sacletter is going to be a very important man once he wins his seat in the state senate and begins to climb the political latter. He cannot afford to be seen engaged in such frivolity.

Who overdoses on Halloween candy and ends up sick?

Charlie, again. See the lack of sense and inability to control his desires and appetites.

Which character is most likely to place a curse/hex on someone and who would they curse?

Ms. White on Charlie given how he has used people and betrayed the honor and trust she showed him.

Great War Supers

Wonder Woman issue 228

I am often a stickler about matching the mythos around comics when they become a movie. This is doubly true about comics which matter to me. My first two comics loves are The Legion of Superheroes and Wonder Woman. You would think that means I disliked the new Wonder Woman movie from the get go. After all it made a huge change to her back story. Steve Trevor was not a pilot from the US Army Air Corps in World War II. Instead he is a pilot from the US during the Great War.

I actually like this change. A crucial part of the Wonder Woman mythos is the hidden nature of Paradise Island. This is a much easier sale in the era of the Great War. The planet wouldn’t fully mapped until into my lifetime with satellite. It arguably still is not fully mapped. That said, a large island in the middle of the Mediterranean completely unknown to the outside world is a hard sale once routine flights across the sea begin. In 1918 that flights were mostly in the future.

Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes issue 226

There is another reason I find this idea interesting. The Great War is an excellent but untaped period for supers. Nationalist heroes are arguably more at home in that era than even World War II. At least in the first world the hangover of The Great War was starting to poison nationalism although it would take Italy’s Fascists and Germany’s National Socialist, although with a bit of help from Japanese nationalists, to finally poison it.

National heroes would have a bigger, if less cut and dry role, in The Great War. A big role could be played by nationalist heroes from many Balkan nations and Eastern Europe. After all, the war had its beginning in a nationalist assassination. For those looking for something off the beaten path Poland and Finland gained statehood in the modern era as a result. You could even add heroes from the colonies in various roles. Nationalist movements in many French and British colonies had their origins among veterans of the Great War in France just as the US Civil Rights movements had origins among black veterans of World War II.

Legacy of Justice

At the same time the rise of transnationalism, which would fit many more modern hero archetypes, came out of the war. The new Wonder Woman movie plays with this a bit, but there is a lot more that can be mined. Playing in the late or immediate period could combine the ideas with a League of National Heroes or some other group attached to the League of Nations.

Supers drew on the pulp heroes who were first born in the Twenties. The Twenties were also a time of great adventure and exploration. Aviation was a particular proper genre in the Twenties.

Yet this era remains untapped. Marvel has the Freedom Five who have only appeared in flashbacks in The Invaders. Big Finger Games put out a source book on late Great War and Twenties heroes called Legacy of Justice which appears to be out of print. To the best of my knowledge that is about for Great War supers. If you know of any more please let me know in the comments.

Sunday Reading

D4: It Should Say Philanthropist

I understand why it says gameshow host but Hall did a lot of good with what he earned and did it quietly. His personality certainly aided in the fundraising side of his philanthropy but he didn’ make it about him.

D6: As Paul Harvey Would Say

Here is the rest of (or another part of) the Monty Hall story.

Video of the Week:

Eluveitie has a new album...this is a good thing.

Take Home Test

I had Wednesday off work to run Z to the airport and thought I would have time after to do some work on the monitor. I did not so the promised pictures will not appear today. I will have some time this weeks so that post is bumped to Tuesday.

I have also been learning Javascript. I was initially not interested in it but it buried under its browser heritage and C family syntax is a language more interesting than I thought. I like prototypes more than classes as an object system now that I am wrapping my head around them. I not only love its closures but have to admit Javascript is the first time I why you want them has been apparent.

Part of my learning is watching videos on YouTube because...well because that is part of learning today. I found The Myth of the “Real Javascript Developer” to be very interesting but not just from a Javascript viewpoint. I think it tackles important myths that permeate not just tech but life today. You are not just one thing. You are not your job.

I’m sure no one here is surprised that the idea that you can have interests outside of developing such as woodworking or music appeals to me. That is a big part of what drives this blog. However, sadly, like Marc Anthony I come to criticize Ms. O’Brien as well as praise her.

She talks about the need to not convince people that working on an Open Source after hours is not a requirement to get a job. Ideally it is not. However, for developers the best jobs will tend to go to those with off hours projects. The reason is they are practicing.

While the 10,000 hours study have been overly applied there is an important grain of truth in it. Intentional practice of a skill improves your skill. Intentional practice has to stretch you. Ideally you will consistently meet the level of challenge that puts you into Csikszentmihalyi’s flow state. The more time you spend doing that the better you get at something.

Jobs rarely put you there. You are usually hired to work well within your skill set. Certainly, you find some challenges that stretch you but as I realized a decade ago there is a big difference between a given year of experience five times and five years of experience. Some jobs do have you on the edge more often than not and those are generally the most lucrative jobs.

They also tend to go to those with the most experience.

If your day job does not often provide tasks that force you to grow and stretch where do you get it? Working off hours is one way and there are few fields where that is easier than software development. All you need is a computer powerful enough, which every computer is outside of certain performance fields, language tools which are generally free, and time.

So while we might not want to force developers to work off hours the fact is the ones who do get the most experience. The guy who spends a few hours every Saturday building something will have an edge in an interview.

Of course there are trade-offs. The woman who spends forty hours kernel hacking probably finds herself with other useful job skills lacking, especially soft skills. However, the woman who spends four hours a week writing a new mail management system for herself and intentionally chooses to do so in a functional way will do okay in the soft skills and still have a wedge technically over those who never do the take home test.

Dual Screen Laptop

Sunday’s Reading included a video about making a portable monitor out of the screen from a dead laptop. I am in the middle of that project. However, along the way that project has become a test bed for a different idea and possibly part of it. The first thing was I noticed good condition, ie one or two scratch, versions of the same monitor are actually as inexpensive as the controller board for the monitor. I suddenly thought, I could build two.

The Compaq Portable 486...at least I should not be this big. Now I want to build a dual-monitor laptop. Actually, laptop is a mis-nomer. This will be a portable computer but not in the sense of an 80s lugable. It will be mor like two copies of the portable monitor connected by a few cables where the core parts of the computer are mounted on the back of each. The current monitor integrates certain features of the follow-up video on converting the original into a portable, battery powered smart TV. I am skpping the TV but adding batteries and my own kickstand design.

Matrox Dual Head To Go When I considered the dual-monitor idea the first step was to find a motherboard. Naturally, my first thought was a Raspberry Pi but none have two video outputs. I did find the Matrox Dual Head2Go adapter which tricks the computer into seeing two monitors as one big one (there is also a triple version) but its street price is $140. Combined with the power of the Pi I decdied to look at other options.

UDOO x86 Advanced

The option I have found is the UDOO X86. The Advanced Plus is a little less than a Pi 3 plus the Matrox and has 4GB of memory as opposed to 1GB. The last is a big consideration for me as even running Debian with Openbox I had issues with a 2GB Chromebook and swam up to one I could put 16GB in. I seem to only use between 4 and 6GB. I also would have a third video output if I wanted to pack the monitor I am working on now instead of recycling it. I would need to purchase the separate wifi kit adding a bit less than $20. If money, allows, I would probably get the Ultra for its 8GB of memory. This project is in the very early stages so other boards may come under consideration. If you have any suggestions please leave a comment.

Building a method to flip up and expand the dual screens from one screen width to two is perplexing. This is why I am looking to leave the laptop form factor. Instead I plan to build two mirror image monitors with extra space beside the screens on the left and right outside edges when deployed. They would align for carry screen to screen and the sleep and shutdown circuit would be controlled by a contact switch along those outer edges. When you pull them apart to set up they machine will boot.

The Key64 The keyboard and mouse will be separate wireless or bluetooth items. The mouse will almost certainly be my current wireless model I use with my Chromebook. While I can use a stock keyboard a side project might be The Key64 or similar project. I had researched it while thinking of keeping the laptop form factor.

I have also been learning more than I thought I would want to know about 18650 battery usage.

My one concern with this design is thickness and weight. The current monitor is using plywood as the main structure material. Originally the partial cover was to be of the same material but I am using sheet metal. This will still result in a nearly 1″ thick item. If I move to sheet metal with thin insultion of rubber or cork I can probably get that closer to 7/8″ but that will still mean a thicker than most laptops machine plus a keyboard.

I am happy to read any suggestions along the way. Thursday I will have pictures of the first few steps in the new monitor. As I said, it is a testbed for some of this and I expect it may go through several evolutions.