Monday, December 31, 2012

The New Moon Murders - TG1

I've decided to consolidate four blogs into two. My gaming geek blog will remain at while and will return to their original home under this address. Managing four was too time consuming and I wound up not updating any of them rather than figure out which one to post to on a given day. Sorry for any confusions.

In the meantime, I'll begin bringing the posts from those other blogs over to these eclectic pages.

The first post will be the announcement of The New Moon Murders, A Thomas Gunn Detective story. I've been writing for me friends for over a decade. This story was good enough to publish so I did. It is the first in a series of five to ten stories featuring a psychic detective Thomas Gunn and his pick-pocketing girlfriend Jean Louis.

As happens from time to time, the secondary character turned into a fan favorite. What's more, every editor I've hired has expressed their affection for Jean. Give this a read to see if you agree.

Genre: Horror/Detective
Price: $2.99
Description: January, 1930 - Chicago

Something evil stalks the streets performing human sacrifices every new moon.

The police are baffled. High society wants it covered up. The mob wants the murder weapon.

Fearing the involvement of a long time parishioner, aging priest Father Burke turns to a man he once thought possessed.

Private detective Thomas Gunn, tormented by visions he cannot control, takes the case only to discover that staring down the business end of a Tommy gun is nothing compared to stopping an ancient evil bent on world destruction.

In the tradition of H. P. Lovecraft and Dashel Hammitt, The New Moon Murders is a classic hard-boiled detective story fused with the elements of star-spanning horror.
Available on Amazon, iTunes, and (see sidebar).

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Zack's Journey - Shadow Dance

Having a child with attention issues is often considered a burden. The problem with AD(H)D is that so many are stigmas associated with it. When you have a child that goes a little odd when stimulated, people give you 'the look'.

True, there are problems with ADD and ADHD but there is also magic. These kids tend to be incredibly creative and enjoy living 'in the moment' the way others cannot. On a late summer night in ’05, a two year old Zack discovered the fun of shadows the way I've never witnessed before. This is a blessed memory that I will always cherish.

It began with Deb and I sitting in our white wicker chairs by the driveway. We have one of those security lights comes on  when it senses motion. It's a powerful light which completely illuminates the driveway and is an excellent shadow maker. Not the multiple shadows you normally get from artificial lighting but one, strong black shadow usually reserved for dark rooms and flash lights.

As Zack pushed his toy police car around the drive, I made the age-old rabbit shadow with my hand. This fascinated Zack. He tried to grab it but the wascally wabbit was too quick. He laughed and giggled until he discovered he had a shadow as well. At this point the the magic began.

I felt like I was watching something out of Peter Pan as my son tried to catch the his own dark image which was always just a little too fast for him. After chasing the shadow down the driveway, he found that the shadow would also chase him as well. Zack ran away from the dark boy on the ground watching the shadow as he ran. He was so intent was he on the dark image that he ran head long into Jessica’s car,  falling to the ground the ground in a heap of giggles.

Deb and I showed Zack how to control the shadow with his own movements. He waved his arms and laughed. Then he raised his foot into the air watching the shadow detach from his foot. He tried to touch the shadow but it was always just out of reach. Finally he learned to squat down. The shadow squatted as well and at last he could touch the illusive being.

Zack had so much fun it was hard to get him in for the night. Finally coaxed him into my arms to look at the stars. I sang him a song as we walked back toward the house. The rhythm was to a Louis Armstrong song “What a wonderful world” but the words were my own which talked about stars in the sky, reflected in baby blue eyes. 

Zack didn't fuss at all as we walked into the house. Once inside, Deb had to call her mom to describe the evening. Zack and I played ‘Tent on the couch’ where his folding tent goes on one section of the couch and he climbs in and out. We sang twinkle, twinkle little star for a while until Deb got off the phone with her mom.

Its nights like this when everything seems right with the world. I wish there were more of them.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Zack's Journey - My Kid Has ADHD?

ADHD kids are not like others. The AD part of the acronym means they don’t concentrate well while H causes them to act without regard for the consequences of their actions. Put together you have a child that can’t stay on task and often moves, makes noises, or exhibits other potentially annoying behavior. They get in trouble often and almost as often can’t remember what they did that caused the problem. Thus we have the final D in the acronym; Disorder.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Backup with rsync

You have a number of options if you wish to protect your Ubuntu system against the unlikely event of a disk crash. I use a layered approach to save my precious files and memories. There are numerous cloud providers that will give you some free space to store your files: Ubuntu 1, DropBox, Google, and Amazon to name a few. None of them provide enough space to save my music, pictures, videos, and game files.

To save those drive eaters, I have two external drives use as redundant storage. The cloud providers save the documents I work on day-to-day while the external drives save files I add but seldom, if ever, change. I try to perform the backup on a monthly basis.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Clearing the Rhythmbox database

So I've been at the music import thing for a while and am almost done placing my cherished songs on my Ubuntu system as well as Google Music. I've documented my journey in two other blog posts for those interested in the methodology.

I have a few albums left that aren't in the MusicBrainz database so those must be entered manually. Now I'm at the point of futzing with my music's tags and organization. 

I ran into a problem because once Rhythmbox has a song in its inventory it doesn't bother going back and rereading the tags. The solution to this was to delete the Rhythmbox database. It's located in 


Now my Southern Rock is Southern, my Alternative Rock is Alt, and my Classic Rock is truly Classic. It's also fun to watch the counters increment to my current collection size of 3062 songs. I have around 200 more to import and there are always stragglers hanging around the house and various family vehicles. 

This is been both a fun and fulfilling project that allows me to access my music from anywhere with a cell or internet connection.

Until next time.
Zack's Dad.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Music Converter - OggConvert

From my last post you know that I'm ripping my CDs to my computer and using Google Music to put it in the cloud. Google does not support some of the music I've previously exported from a windows machines. I presume it has something about the Microsoft codecs being proprietary.

The open version for media files is OGG which is a free, open container format maintained by the Xiph.Org Foundation. The Ogg format is an unrestricted by software patents and is designed to provide for efficient streaming and manipulation of high quality digital multimedia. The Ogg container format can multiplex a number of independent streams for audio, video, text (such as subtitles), and metadata.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Great Music Rip of 2012

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.” 
― Plato

I have a problem with my CD collection - it's too flipping big. So recently I decided to import the entire collection onto my Ubuntu desktop computer in hopes of preserving, cataloging, and actually listening to it on a regular basis. Along the way I discovered a few things I thought I would share.

All of the software described below (including Ubuntu) is free and available form the Ubuntu Software Center.

Step 1 - Find a good music ripper.

This was actually a little harder than I thought. I use Ubuntu which has a large number of music programs for virtually every need. The default (as of 12.04) is Rhythm Box which has some good features but, at times, is very slow when it comes to ripping CDs. 

I tried several different tools but finally settled on Banshee. It pulls the music at a faster clip and has some other interesting features like its ability to download album art. It also links to the Amazon MP3 player. One word of warning, however: Banshee is no longer supported under the current Ubuntu and I had one really odd windows manager glitch after installing. It hasn't happened since but, for a brief moment, I remembered what it was like being a Microsoft Windows user.