Process, again

Best ways to understand something is to explain it to someone else.

So, I have a very limited amount of time to write every day. On a good day, it is an hour, most days it is a bit less. So, after waking the wife, walking the dogs, feeding the kid, and then getting the kid & her mother out the door, I have a few moments to myself. I need to fill as much of this hour with focused, balls-to-the-wall, non-stop writing as possible.

To do this I have tried various method: no distraction apps; pens, pencils, markers, crayons and all sorts of writing devices; notebooks of all sorts, sizes, colors and paper types; and even a tablet. Computers are all too distracting. Tablets are crap for typing. And my handwriting is illegible, at best.

So, after much trial and error, I have arrived at this process. Nothing is permanent, but I expect it will work for a while and then I will try something else. It may seem overly complex, but it gives me the focus and speed I need to get the ideas out and down. Especially, in the constrained time that i have.



That is my beast. Anna-Sophia has named him Typie. It is a 1970s vintage Hermes 3000. Yep, a typewriter. No internet here, no disctractions. No handwriting to puzzle over while trying to decipher later. It is a old school solution, but it works for me.

And in the background you might see Typie, Jr., my portable typewriter, though he sees less action. I don’t get a lot written on vacation, sadly.

And you might see my date stamper there as well. I used to not date all of the pages, but I kept loosing track of where the pages went after I was done with them. I have to keep them in order, they will need something for my papers to publish after I am dead, right?

But, there is one little problem with this solution. Paper is the ultimate analog format, and we live in a digital world. I need to get the typed pages into the computer, somehow. And, honestly, I don’t feel like re-typing shit. So, I need a different solution.



So, I scan it all in and run OCR (optical character recognition) on the result. No cute name for this one, just a little Brother all-in-one that has a sheet feeder. Pretty quick, and does not jam. Used to be our printer, but got a laster printer for that now.



Apple provides this great app for reading PDFs and looking at pictures called Preview. It also does scanning. Preview scans all my pages into PDF files. Which rocks. This makes them portable and great for referencing later, if needed. At this point, I start saving everything into Dropbox, of course.



I have tried out all of the OCR packages I can get my hands on and generally they suck. The current one I use is called OCRFeeder, which is really not an OCR package, but a GUI frontend on top of a bunch of open-source projects including the Tesseract. Tesseract is an OCR engine, now supported by Google, which does most of the heavy lifting. I would say I see somewhere in the 75-85% success rates with Tesseract/OCRFeeder, and I am sure I could get better if I read up on how to tweak/train the Tesseract engine.

On this step we go from a PDF file to a txt file and the first wave of spell check is done.



Now, the OCR is done, but the txt file is formatted like crap. It is formatted like the original page and not continuous lines of text. So, I open up the txt file in the built in editor for the Mac called TextEdit. From there I do another spell check and remove a ton of line breaks.



And finally, we reach where the work will spend the rest of its time. If Typie is where the magic starts, this is where the hard work happens. I take the txt file and bring it into Scrivener. At each step, I tweak and touch and move and work on the story, but here is where I really get started on making it not suck.

Scrivener is a application (now on mac and pc), that lets you edit a work as individual pieces and then compile it into a manuscript. So, instead of having a word file that you edit and has all sorts of strange formatting issues as you add and edit the file. With Scrivener you can edit each chapter, or section of a chapter as a separate document, and then when you need to send it out, assemble it into a whole. For you devs out there, it is an IDE for written works.

I am a vomit writer, this means I work best if I get the work as quickly as possible, capture it all, clean it up and then edit the heck out of it. But, this leaves me with a ton of writing that, well, sucks. I spend a lot of time working the initial writing I do, a lot of time editing. And a lot of what I write hits the cutting room floor, though this is getting better (used to be about 50% of what I wrote would be worthless, not it is more like 15%).

Anyway, my usual process here, is to read the document. Then run spell check and grammar check. And then read it out loud, or have the computer read it out loud to me. And then rinse and repeat until I hate what I have written. Then I stash it away and work on something else. I let some time go by, and then revisit the piece. And repeat until I send it out for review. And hopefully some day out to published…

1. hermes 2000
2. brother mfc-j410w
3. preview for scanning
4. dropbox
5. ocrfeeder
6. tesseract
7. textedit application
8. scrivener


new (to me) music

I have bought several CDs over the last couple days (yes, I am old and still like to buy CDs).

I listen to a ton of stuff off podcasts, soundcloud, and other places, but I find very little of it motivates me to buy a CD (or download) the way that a new album from a band that I have some affection for does. I wonder is it simply me falling in the trap of nostalgia or are there fewer bands making those iconic albums. Maybe, I am just not hearing the right ones.

One bright spot has been a newer feature from Amazon where they give you access to the digital copy of the CD as soon as you buy the physical one. They call it “auto-rip” or some shitty marketing name like that, but the end result rocks. I get the CD to enjoy when I want to and I get the music right freaking now, no waiting.

Here are my reviews (done in short hand so they will only make sense to people who already know who the bands are, because that seems the style of music reviews anymore):

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – about what you would expect, sadly. Not an epic, blow your socks off album (see Murder Ballads or Let Love In), but a solid album from a great artist and band.

How to Destroy Angels – Interesting, continuing the work they did on the EPs though…
OK, I need to stop this review right here. I have something I need to say. Though this album is pretty good, but it is not NIN. It has more Trent vocals than the preceding two EPs and is completely listenable and enjoyable. BUT, IT IS NOT F’ing NIN, dammit.
It is interesting to hear Trent’s music with another singing, especially a woman voice.

David Bowie – Still waiting on this one. From the listens on iTunes, more Hours than Heathen, and Heathen is my favorite of the post-Outside albums. But, I like this new one, so far.

Dead Can Dance – Came out in August, and I some how missed it. Makes me said I have not been listening to it since. More good DCD, and not like Spiritchaser (their last disappointing album).

Look I even put some notes in there, guess I don’t have what it takes to be a music reviewer…



IMG_2542On the wall right in front of my desk a piece of wire like the type used to hang paintings, looks sort of like the wires they have in coffee shops or such for art to hang on.

Hanging on mine are notecards, five sets of notecards. They are labeled as follows:

  • Programs
  • Stinger-Man
  • Memory Globes (one of the underlying cards pokes out with just the word “whores” showing)
  • Justiciar
  • The Four

Programs is a collection of programs I have never written, and the other four are stories or ideas for stories in various states of completion. But, they, both note cards and the whole hanging system, are failures.

Utter failures.

I have not written a word on the stories up there in at least a year, and I could not tell you what programs I have not yet written either. But, I keep them up.


One reason is that they remind me, that even in the face of failure, work continues. And some days I need that. I need to know, as Adam from Mythbusters loves to say, “failure is always an option”. The talent/skill is know when that time has come. When it is time to cut bait and move on.

Another reason is that I don’t ever see a writing or programming project as a complete failure. There is always a corpse to pick over. There are ideas, characters, lines, processes, methods, etc. that I might be able to use somewhere else. At some point I will fillet those old ideas, transfer them into the new system (there is always a new system) and pick up what I can.

Keep writing and make each day better than the last.



Still sick, but getting better.

Updated my about page to have a “bio” for me rather than some random stuff, added a “photo” of me. Check it out here: about

Added an ASCII-art of a bat, because I like bats.

Or in the abstract I like bats, actual bats not so much, but the idea of happy, flappy night creatures I sort of like. (sorry K)


p.s. still writing. about to set it on fire, well about to set my main character on fire anyway.

revenge of the elder gods, or cotton candy brain


So, this is a photo of what the inside of my brain is filled with right now.

The house has been the victim of some sort of awful disease that can only be retribution from some elder god we have offended.

The wife-unit was infected first and though the attempt to avoid it was valiant (and gallons of hand sanitizer were used), but for most of the weekend I have been infected by this hell-spawned demon-illness.

Though on the good side, I have recovered all the data from my dead TeraStation and migrated it over to the new Synology Server. And I have confirmed all of the ripped DVDs made the transition and work (by manually opening each one and navigating from the menu to the actual movie). I have also sorted and named all of my images/notes I have created in Evernote for like the last year. Stupid manual repetitive stuff is about all I could do all weekend.

And, though I have not got much writing done this weekend, I have figured out one of my characters and think it really gets me unblocked for the rest of the work. I hope.