Friday Links #16

My new computer arrives today which is both wonderful and frustrating. I’ve wanted to get a gaming PC from Falcon Northwest for over fifteen years and today, finally, one arrives. I didn’t opt for the custom auto-quality paint job that matches our Juke’s red and pearl color scheme (a $400 upgrade that will have to wait until next time), nor did I go for the massive, full tower Mach V, but the mid-size Talon instead. Nevertheless, the components I selected put the machine near the top of the technological arms race, at least in the ~$2500 price range. It will likely be outdated within four months*. And so it goes…

My current desktop PC is an aging behemoth Alienware Aurora, a machine that gave me over 6 good years (two of them in storage) without problem until recently. I had upgraded the graphics card along the way but that was it. I took it from Windows XP to Windows 7 and then, against the recommendation from a friend who worked at Microsoft, I upgraded it again to Windows 10. I pushed it too hard and the whole thing blew. Windows 10 was too demanding for my old beast of burden and I had to put her down. Every day was a fight.

This post will likely be the last task I perform on it.

I won’t be sad to see it go, not anymore. I came home from a day of mushroom hunting on Wednesday (found six morels… we were a little early in the season) to find the machine failing to boot up. When it finally did, the screen was covered in an array of pink lines. They shifted to green, then back to pink. It’s not supposed to do that. That it didn’t do this in Safe Mode led me to conclude it was the video card. So yesterday I replaced the GTX 660 Ti that was still letting me play most new games at high, if not max settings, with a fifty-buck GT class video card that would not at all be suitable for my work in video games.

But the problem was solved. And cheaply too. Until a rock kicked up on the highway and cracked the windshield of our new car during my drive home from Best Buy. The deductible for a new windshield is, yep, another $50. The damn thing couldn’t just wait a couple days to keel over? Murphy’s Law and all of that…

So today I will sit here in my house on an 85-degree, sunny day, waiting on the UPS guy to bring my new PC and then I will slowly get everything I need downloaded and installed and transferred and configured. And then I will play DOOM on ultra-high settings. And I will revel in it.

The new PC isn’t the only thing arriving today. My contributor’s copies for the DOOM Official Strategy Guide should arrive today as well. Myself and two other authors tackled the strategy guide for DOOM back in March, with me handling the multiplayer component of the book. I sneaked in a few hours with the single player mode and cannot wait to play the rest. It’s the perfect blend of old-school frenetic action and modern day conveniences and features that eliminate most of the frustration that was inherent during the 90s. Fans of Doom and Doom 2 will not be disappointed. You can see an overly violent and gory trailer for the game here.

Yes, writing books detailing how to master games like this is what I do for a living.

*Or sooner. There was no way I was going to add an additional thousand dollars to the price tag for a Geforce Titan graphics card, but I was pretty happy to opt for the GTX 980 Ti, a huge improvement over my current graphics card, and essentially the next-best thing to a Titan for those who aren’t independently wealthy. Nvidia unveiled their new 1000-series cards earlier this week. Figures.

Bookish Links

  1. 25 Books Guaranteed to Make You a Better Writer – I’ll be honest and admit to not having heard of most of these. That said, I can’t recommend Zinsser’s On Writing Well enough to non-fiction writers. It’s terrifically helpful. That it appears on this list is all the proof I need to take the list seriously. Then again, it does leave out McKee’s Story and Pressfield’s War of Art so maybe it’s not that great after all. It’s also one of those annoying slideshow posts, so consider yourself warned.
  2. Business Musings: Getting in Touch – Kristine Kathryn Rusch tells an instructive story about the need to be accessible. Authors, new and veteran, may not only be costing themselves business by playing too-hard-to-reach, but frustrating those who aim to help them. I read this a few weeks ago and immediately realized I had forgotten to put a Contact form on my website.
  3. 5 Things Better Call Saul Can Teach Us About Writing – One of the great things about the current age of television is that the quality of the writing has increased dramatically with the popularity of the long-form series. I haven’t seen Better Call Saul yet (it’s on our list) but shows like House of Cards and Breaking Bad allow us writers to “read” and study the craft more quickly by viewing these shows when we just don’t have time or desire to read. This article by Cris Freese shows you what to look for when studying these shows.
  4. Further Thoughts on the Closing of BookTrope – BookTrope, that publishing service that aimed to match designers, authors, editors, and marketers together in perfect harmony, working towards a profitable future, has closed. Jennifer Lesher, a BookTrope author, offers some measured thoughts on the matter.
  5. What is Contemporary Fiction? – Depending on who you talk to, you might hear that every book, no matter how experimental, still falls into a genre. But not every story is “genre fiction,” meaning it doesn’t neatly fall into one of those categories such as Thriller, Romance, Mystery, Western, etc. This is why terms like “Contemporary Fiction” and “Mainstream Fiction” are so popular, replacing the catch-all label of “Fiction”. This article on the Daily Kos helps explain the differences.

Bonus Link!

Runner’s High: Athletes Who Use Marijuana to Improve Training  – This article from The Guardian discusses the performance benefits of marijuana in ultra running with quotes from Chris barnicle, the self-proclaimed “World’s Fastest Stoner”. Athletes and scientists are suggesting that marijuana can reduce pain, fatigue, and anxiety during long runs. As a resident of a state where marijuana is legal, this article does have me tempted to pick up some edibles for our upcoming fast-packing adventures. If it can help with the knee pain hikers/runners experience on long-distance trail runs, then I might just have to give it a try.

Post Image by Eric Kilby, used under Creative Commons.

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