December 2006 Archives

Like most bloggers, I don’t blog very often. I was thinking about this as I was considering what I could write for ProBlogger’s Group Writing Project. It occurred to me that this would be a good time to cover those things I should have blogged over the past year but, for whatever reason (laziness), I did not.

And so, here it is:

2006 — The Blog Posts that Weren’t


We started the year on vacation in Europe. Within a short two weeks we managed to hit France, Italy, Switzerland, and Amsterdam. It was an amazing trip, but I was sure glad to get back to boring after two full weeks of different.


No, but seriously. He shot a guy. In the face.


I finally got around to buying the equipment I need to network our old Series 1 TiVo. Now to just find time to do it.


We changed our phone service over to Vonage. I love that they email me my voicemail messages.


We went to Lebowski Fest in Austin. The absolute best part was twenty Walters screaming at a bowling alley employee who looked vaguely like Larry.


I’m still learning Rails, but I had to unsubscribe from the Rails mailing list. Way too much noise. And they allow anonymous posting, so there was a lot of spam. Every mailing list should be run by Steve Champeon.


We received our yearly feedback from the PRP judges. Nothing particularly noteworthy this year. The one thing that always bothers me is the complaints about not enough events on the calendar. I’m not sure how the webmaster can be blamed for that.


Bloglines screwed up some of my subscriptions, losing posts I was keeping new. So, I installed ReBlog on my own server. It’s nice, but without Bloglines 200 post limit per blog, it’s easy to get way behind.


We went to the Webmaster Jam Session. CoffeeCup did a great job running it. A lot of it was a tad basic for us, but it was a good experience anyway.


We played the McDonald’s Monopoly game. Not play like going in and buying burgers to play. Oh no, we sent away for entries. A lot of entries. Since each entry includes basically a $1 gift certificate to Best Buy, we actually made money on the deal. Sort of.


Absolutely nothing happened this month.


Q: Can an annual award by a news magazine jump the shark?
A: Yes. Yes it can.

Almost a month ago, I explained how to maintain one iTunes database for multiple XP users. “jeffjunk” wrote in to tell me this didn’t work for him. Well, turns out, it didn’t work for me, either.

The problem is in hardlinking the individual files. When you change something in iTunes — like adding music — it doesn’t modify the existing library files. It creates new files and deletes the old files. That kills the link the first time it updates the library. So, although I originally didn’t want to hardlink the entire directory, now I think it’s a grand idea.

As Daniel explains, hardlinking directories is not built into XP, but it is available via the Windows 2003 Resource Kit. He mentions other options, but this was something I had planned to install anyway. Install the software, then log out and log back in so the new functions are in your command line path.

As before, backup your iTunes data before you start. One thing I should mention is that this requires NTFS formatted drives. This was true with my previous instructions as well, I just forgot to mention it. That is the default for Windows XP, so if you don’t know what it is, you’re probably fine.

Now, copy the iTunes directory (most likely found in C:\Documents and Settings\<ACCOUNT NAME>\My Documents\My Music\) from the account that has your main library to someplace where all accounts can access it. I used the “Shared Music Folder,” which can be found at C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Music.

Next, remove the iTunes directory from each account. It should be found in C:\Documents and Settings\<ACCOUNT NAME>\My Documents\My Music\. Open a command prompt, navigate to the directory where you just removed the iTunes folder, and issue this command:

linkd iTunes "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Music\iTunes"

You should get a “Link created at: iTunes” message. And that’s it! Thanks again to Jeff for catching my mistake.

When I finished NaNoWriMo last year, I was pretty sure I would do it again. In fact, for months afterward I was planning my next novel, a sequel to the first that would pit my characters against a more evil, more brutal villain than they’d met before.

Then, a few weeks before the start of November, I had another idea for a novel. This one would be the first in a series, and would be a science fiction, action-adventure story. In my head I fleshed out the basic story, along with the general flow I wanted for the entire series. This, I decided, would be my next novel.

As NaNoWriMo got closer, I had another idea for a novel. This was also science fiction, but definitely humorous. Something of a buddy story set in an alternate universe. By this time November was only a couple of weeks away and I really didn’t need to be changing my mind again. But, as I got to thinking about it, I realized that the “sci-fi action” story was a lot like my first novel, and that the “buddy” story was completely different. Completely different sounded like more fun — especially since I hadn’t done anything with my previous novel since printed it for me.

So that’s what I did. I finished at about the same time I did last year. In some ways, this novel was easier to write. My first novel I’d been planning for a year before I wrote it, and the structure was pretty well set going in. This one had a much looser structure — most of it is a road trip — so I had more room to experiment. Consequently, last year I reached the end of my story at about 25K and had to go back and write filler. This year I hit 50K well before the story was finished and just wrote a summary paragraph and the final scene to finish things up. Also, this one was just more fun to write. I always enjoy writing humor more than anything serious. Plus, road trips and space aliens are less emotionally draining than torture and arms dealers. But maybe that’s just me.

Some things were harder, though. Not having planned much for this story, I didn’t really know where I was going with it and felt a little lost sometimes. Also, Angela didn’t participate this year, so I found myself putting off writing more than I did last year. Not because of anything she did — she encouraged me to write, prompting me to get back to work whenever she didn’t hear “clickety-clack” coming from my computer. Still, I found myself spending each weekend catching up, yet never actually getting caught up until the very end.

And so the question once again is: Will I do it next year? Probably, although it would be nice not to have to. I’ve got dozens of stories bouncing around in my head. If I could get myself to write as much throughout the year as I do in the month of November, maybe I wouldn’t need the kick-in-the-pants that is NaNoWriMo.