Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Letter to Zack

Dear Zachary,

From the first day of your birth I knew you'd be an amazing young man. Why? Because that was the first day anyone ever called me Zack's Dad. Of all the titles and names that are used, that is the one I am proudest of.

You've grown into an amazing young man. You are one of the funniest people I know and make me laugh all the time. You don't see all the smiles that follow you when you say 'Hi' to people. You have way of making people's day. You brighten peoples lives and they like being around you. As for me, the best part of my day is when I come home and you run out to hug me. In that instant all my problems go away and I'm just Zack's Dad. I love it.

You have a big heart and care a lot for others. In my opinion this is your greatest gift. You're going to make the world a better place just by being in it. Just like you make my life a better life because you're in it. Keep that gift of caring. Not everyone has it. Use it to make a small difference in people's lives every day. All those small differences will turn into big changes in the people around you.

You're a good and creative speaker. I saw it from an early age when you would get on stage for performances. Sometimes as we get older we let fear keep us from our talents. In acting and public speaking we call this stage fright. It makes our tummies all weird before we get in front of people to talk. Don't let the fear of failure keep you from practicing this. You're really good at it.

Like stage fright for speaking, some of us are afraid to show people our writing because they can make fun of it. Don't let this stop you from writing. School is all about learning tools to use later. Writing is one of those tools. Not everyone is great in the beginning but everyone can learn to do it. Write, become good at it, and show it to others. Take their comments to make your writing even better.

You're learning many things about writing good stories with your night writes. Try to apply these lessons to all your stories. The goal of story craft is to give information and make people feel things like happiness, sadness, anger, love, hate, or excitement. You'll be a great story teller once you learn to give information and make people feel at the same time.

Use your gifts in your writing. Let it show how much you care for those around you and be creative and funny all at the same time. You'll write things that people want to read, can't wait to finish, and will leave wanting more.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Getting Scrivener Working in Wine 1.6

I had a similar problem with broken dependencies when trying to install wine and acroread, and a complaint when trying to install ia32-libs-multiarch, just after upgrading to 12.04 from 11.04 (passing over 11.10). It seems that some ppa's I had in 11.04 installed newer versions of applications in the system. After upgrading, the remains of these apps seemed to do some mess in the dependencies.
The solution that seems to work (until now), was found on a german ubuntu board (, posts from user Lasall):
First a downgrade is required and done with the following: create the 'preferences' file:
sudo vi /etc/apt/preferences
and insert the following lines:
Package: *       
Pin: release a=precise*
Pin-Priority: 2012
enter :wq to write the file. Pin-Priority must be greater than 1000.
Then you may downgrade the offending applications with:
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
Then you may install packages that complained about dependencies, like sudo apt-get install ia32-libs-multiarch, or sudo apt-get install ia32-libs.
Finally, you should remove the file you just created:
sudo rm /etc/apt/preferences
because else no new updates would be found.
Hope this helps you too!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ubuntu with Ruby on Rails

Recently I decided to give Ruby on Rails a try. Here's the steps I went through to get it running on Ubuntu.

sudo apt-get install ruby1.9.3
sudo update-alternatives --config ruby
sudo update-alternatives --config gem
sudo apt-get install sqlite3 libsqlite3-dev
sudo gem install sqlite3 -v '1.3.8'
sudo gem install rails
rails new <application name>

sudo apt-get install nodejs
(note: you might also try gem install therubyracer)

rails server
=> Booting WEBrick
=> Rails 4.0.2 application starting in development on
=> Run `rails server -h` for more startup options
=> Ctrl-C to shutdown server
[2014-02-04 12:15:07] INFO  WEBrick 1.3.1
[2014-02-04 12:15:07] INFO  ruby 1.9.3 (2011-10-30) [x86_64-linux]
[2014-02-04 12:15:07] INFO  WEBrick::HTTPServer#start: pid=4104 port=3000
Open your browser and go to http://localhost:3000
and you should get the following screen.

I'm well into the tutorial at
So far I'm at Step 6.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Halo and Dragons

My son has become a fan of the Halo game. He plays it as much as we allow. Since the Xbox is our primary form for entertainment - with Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime - we have to kick him off fairly often.

He's also a fan of the Eragon books. He's reading, or claims to be reading, a thick one with a green dragon on the cover. He likes dragons. Part of the reason could be my unused D&D collection that serves as a dust attractor.

So recently I asked him if he'd like for me to write a story for him. He replied that he wanted one about Halo soldiers fighting dragons. Seemed right up my alley so I started a short story that I hope to complete soon.

Here's the first few paragraphs.

My name is Sergeant Augustin Xavier Montpellier. For you folks that don't speak Old Earth French, that last name is pronounced Mont-pe-lay. Yes, I know it has an ‘R’ at the end. Think of it like someone’s ugly baby. You see it. You just don’t say it. 
Most people call me Sarge. I’m a Spartan with the Void Hammers. For you Old Worlders not familiar with New Space lingo, Spartan is another word for mercenary. I get paid take care of problems. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Family Fun - Space City Con

While on a campout a while back, my wife asked if there were any family activities that I enjoyed. I listed off a few but she wasn't satisfied with my answer. I like camping. I even enjoy it. But it's unlikely you would ever see me jump up and say "Let's go camping!"

For those of you who miss the obvious, I'm a geek. I enjoy more cerebral endeavors. I love all things in geekdom including science fiction, fantasy, and role playing games. I am, however, alone in my family. No one else actually enjoys those like I do, or so I thought.

I also enjoy writing. I've written several novels, published a novella titled  The New Moon Murders, and try to write a few blog posts a week. When the Space City Con announced that  Tracy and Laura Hickman would be running a writer's workshop and Jim Butcher would teach two writing classes I began lobbying the family for a weekend pass. To my surprise, both Zack and Debbie wanted to attend.

It turns out that Space City Con has something for everyone, even the non-geeks.

Zack enjoyed the Mech Corps. These were videogame pods set up so you felt like you were in the cockpit of a giant walking robot. The behemoths fired rockets, lasers, and other weapons at one another while running around the simulated battlefield. If you've ever seen the move Robot Jox or played the game Battletech you know what this videogame is all about.

In theory there were two teams but I didn't see anyone spared who walked into the crosshairs of another player regardless of which side they were on. As far as I could tell, the tactic that worked best was to run around, avoid fire, wait for two other Mech's to mix is up, and pounce on both of them.

While I never stepped into a battlepod, Zack stayed spent most of two hours playing in one.

My son also enjoyed the Live Action Role Play. This involves people running around with foam-covered weapons and beating each other. This is right up Zack's alley since it involves constant movement and simulated violence against his fellow man.

The gave him a Paladin to play first. This character class has healing, is tough, and can soak up a lot of damage. The problem with Zack playing a Paladin is that he would hang back and wait for a large adults back to turn. He would then run up wail on them from behind. I'm thinking rogue might be a better option for the next convention. They get bonuses for attacking from behind.

My wife Debbie enjoyed the cosplay and seeing some of the old TV stars that make celebrity appearances at these events. The shopping was also plentiful with costumes, jewelry, books, and all sorts of things Zack would like for Christmas. She probably enjoyed the hotel and its pool most.

As for me, I enjoyed all of the above along with the writing session. If you enjoy science fiction films, books, or video games, you could do worse than spend a day at Space City Con. It's set up as a family event with a wide variety of panels and people. But to be honest, its the fans I enjoy most.

They have clubs, create costumes, hold panels. What they do mostly is have a great time. If you attend Space City Con, so will you.

Related Links:
Jim Butcher's Writing Advice