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Journal Journal: Starsky and Hutch 12

I just got back from Starsky and Hutch.

Surprisingly funny. I bet the DVD will be great.

Best part was how anyone in the theatre under 30 didn't get about 70% of the best jokes.

Now I'm hoping that they'll make a CHiPs movie. I wonder what other late 70s to early 80s TV shows would translate well into movies?

Oh, and if you're not watching TRIO every night, you're really missing out on some fantastic television.

Software

Journal Journal: Writing with Open Source tools 30

There's no "Ask Slashdot" topic available for user journals, but I am intrigued by this reader's question, and I thought it was worth a try to tap into the collective wisdom of Slashdot.

Hi Wil,

you mentioned some time ago in your blog that you did a presentation on writing your book(s) using open source tools. Have you posted these slides (or whatever the medium was) anywhere?

I'm asking as I am about to embark on a writing project that will be north of 80,000 words (assuming I get past the 5,000 word 'pain barrier' that killed me last time) and recent experience with M$ Word has, quite frankly, scared the bejaysus out of me.

Anyways, if you get this it would be great to see you share some of your experiences using OSS to write.

thanks
Conrad

[1]http://www.wilwheaton.net/mt/archives/001401.php

I replied:

Hi Conrad,

Sadly, I didn't use any slides . . . that's *way* over my level of preparation for anything I do.

My talk pretty much focused on how I used OpenOffice.org to compose and edit my two current books, and what some of the pitfalls were.

I can summarize briefly for you: OO.o is a fantastic word processing suite, and did everything that I needed it to do. I was particularly impressed by the "stylist" in OO.o, which exists, I think, because they use some sort of XML-ish language behind the scenes. The stylist allowed me to assign something similar to "classes" to diffferent areas of my text, and was extremely useful in the design of "Just A Geek."

The only time I ran into an annoying limitation was moving to and from the .doc format, because OO.o and MSWord don't play nicely in regards to formatting. I worked around this by using .rtf format, when I needed to send my work out to other people (for notes and stuff). There were a few limitations in formatting, but they were purely aesthetic and didn't affect the actual data in any way.

I briefly looked at Abiword and KOffice, and found them both to be well-written and stable, but they were far more limited than OO.o.

In terms of just putting together a manuscript without regard to formatting, you could work very easily with Kwrite, or Kate, the same way that many other writers use BBEdit on the Mac.

When I finally had a finished product that I liked, I used OpenOffice.org to print to a .ps file, then used the ps2pdf13 command line tool to convert it into a .pdf document, which I sent to my printer. I understand that the newest version of OO.o has a very robust built-in pdf converter which makes that extra step unnecessary. I should also point out that converting files to .pdf on *nix always results in smaller filesizes than if you'd done it on a Mac or Windows platform. Hooray for us.

I'll post this e-mail to my Slashdot journal (CleverNickName) and maybe some of the Slashdotters will have good advice of their own to share with us.

Best of luck with your novel. Just go one scene at a time, and you'll be past 5K words before you know it!

Wil

My presentaton was pretty much limited to "I like this, I don't like this, and this thing was cool." I didn't have the time to get into a 1:1 comparison among all the different Open Source word processing suites. Do Slashdotters have any comments or suggestions? I find myself using Kate more and more when I compose weblog entries or shorter columns for magazines and the like. I occasionally use Abiword to compose and format letters and fax covers when time is a factor (Abiword loads much faster than OpenOffice.org.)

Games

Journal Journal: You made the top ten! 11

You made the top ten list!

No PointsName Hp [max]
1 20342 Morc-Mon-Hum-Mal-Law died in Sokoban on level 6 [max 9].
Killed by an owlbear. - [79]
2 15917 Morc-Mon-Hum-Mal-Law died in The Dungeons of Doom on level 12.
Killed by a xan. - [68]
3 4171 Morc-Wiz-Orc-Mal-Cha died in The Dungeons of Doom on level 6.
Killed by a water elemental. - [59]

It's cold comfort to be three fucking rocks away from beating Sokoban, only to have a fucking OWLBEAR show up out of nowhere, and whack 70 fucking hit fucking points right off you in one fucking turn.

Gods, I love this fucking game. >:-)

News

Journal Journal: UK tabloid rips off RetroCRUSH 18

RetroCRUSH is a pop culture website run my my friend Robert Berry.

On November 20, 2003, Robert wrote a humorous article called The Worst Sex Scenes Ever: A Look At The Most Unsexy Sex Scenes". On December 30, 2003, his article was stolen by the UK Tabloid The Daily Star. Robert writes, "The UK tabloid 'The Daily Star' printed the same feature, with the same movies I used (even failing to omit a joke entry for the film Deliverance that I also included in my feature). Instead of crediting my site, however, they credited a seemingly fictitious American magazine named FILM. Not only did they highlight the films I mentioned, but they lifted three separate quotes from my article and attributed them to FILM magazine readers who responded to a (apparently non-existent) poll." It was subsequently syndicated to at least 30 other news organizations without crediting Robert, who is the author of the story.

Robert recounts his conversation with Kieran Saunders, the News Editor at the tabloid: "He said, 'Well, if it's on the internet it's up for grabs. You can't copyright anything on the internet.' I told him that was untrue and he then refused to speak with me further, and said all future communication needed to be sent to their legal contact, Steven Bacon in London. I even tried to call back an hour later to speak with the actual author of the piece, Emily Rose, and Saunders answered the phone, stating, 'I told you never to call here again, speak to our legal group' before ending the call."

United States

Journal Journal: Brazil to fingerprint Americans 41

From bOINGbOING:


Brazil to fingerprint Americans in retaliation for Homeland Security indignities
The Brazilian government has retaliated against a US plan to fingerprint Brazilian visitors to the US by fingerprinting US visitors to Brazil. The judge who enacted the regulation has exempted citizens of countries whom the US intends to fingerprint from the Brazilian requirement, and has had a little Godwin's Law moment in his publicity regarding the decision:

"I consider the act absolutely brutal, threatening human rights, violating human dignity, xenophobic and worthy of the worst horrors committed by the Nazis," said Sebastiao da Silva in the court order released on Tuesday.

How dare they! How dare those ungrateful Brazilians! Don't they remember when the USA saved their asses in that one war? They OWE us! They're acting like the Bush administration ignores silly things like treaties, international law, and diplomacy! Those are just relics of the Old Europe.

I tell you what: if those Brazilians hate America so much, they should just move to France.

News

Journal Journal: Wheaton an enterprising author, too. 17

I made it into the Hollywood Reporter!!

It's a very positive article, and it's nice to read something about me in the entertainment press that isn't framed in a negative light:

Wil Wheaton might have become a minor celebrity with roles in "Stand by Me" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation," but he has become a major online star with his www.wilwheaton.net Weblog. So much so that the actor signed a three-book deal -- for books directly stemming from his blog -- with a major publisher.

The first book from publisher O'Reilly & Associates is out shortly and is titled "Dancing Barefoot," a book Wheaton self-published and sold 3,000 copies of from his Web site in four months. Up next is "Just a Geek," which will contain some of his blog writings on the rigors of being an ensign on the Starship Enterprise. The third book is tentatively titled "Wil Wheaton's Website Design."

This is really awesome, because everyone in the industry reads the Reporter. I understand that there's a mention in Variety today or Monday, too, and together they could translate into some meetings for me.

News

Journal Journal: More O'Reilly Goodness 20

O'Reilly put out a press release to announce my deal with them!

This is pretty damn cool:

Any honest computer geek will admit that his obsessive coding is, at heart, a futile attempt to create a world as cool as those depicted in science fiction. New evidence of the symbiotic relationship between Sci Fi and geekdom surfaced today, as O'Reilly & Associates, the geek publisher-of-record, announced plans to publish three books by Wil Wheaton, blogger, geek, and the actor who portrayed Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

"This is a very exciting relationship for me, for several reasons," said Wheaton. "First, I am a huge geek, and without O'Reilly, I wouldn't know HTML from LMNOP. I never would have been able to get Linux running, and Perl would be one of the not-quite-as-good-as-Mrs.-Garrett replacements on Diff'rent Strokes. Now, I'll be able to get my books into more stores than I ever was with my own Monolith Press. I can't wait to see how Dancing Barefoot does when it's got a major publisher behind it."

Wheaton's first two books, Dancing Barefoot and Just a Geek, are almost unbearably honest tales of life, love, and the rigors of being an ensign on the Starship Enterprise. First self-published by Wheaton in May 2003 and available only on the Internet and in select independent bookstores, "Dancing Barefoot" quickly sold out its initial run of 3000. The O'Reilly edition will be available in all major bookstores in early 2004.

Books

Journal Journal: Epic News in a Nutshell 13

I posted this announcement at my lame website, but I'm so excited about it, I'm gonna repost it here:

I have totally signed a three book deal with a major publisher. O'Reilly and Associates, to be precise.

Okay, I'm totally trying to play it all cool, but . . .

HOLY MOTHER OF CRAP!! WOOOO!!!!!! ROCK!

YEAH!!! KICK ASS BABY!!! UNGH!!! UNGH!!!

*pant*

*pant*

Sorry. I've been getting those massive rushes of excitement with alarming frequency. I hope you all understand.

This is a very exciting relationship for me, for several reasons. First, I am a huge geek, and without O'Reilly, I wouldn't know HTML from LMNOP. I never would have been able to get Linux running, and Perl would be one of the not-quite-as-good-as-Mrs.-Garrett replacements on Diff'rent Strokes.

This means I will be able to get my books into more stores than I ever was with Monolith Press. It means I'll be sent out on a real book signing tour. It means I'll be on national television and radio to promote my work, and maybe even get a review in major newspapers or magazines.

Dancing Barefoot sold 3,000 copies in less than five months, without any of that, and I can't wait to see how it does when it's got the power and budget of a major publisher behind it.

It also means that I will never royally screw up days worth of orders again, and I will be free to work like crazy on Just A Geek because I won't be running the business any more.

I spoke with my editor at O'Reilly this morning (" . . . my editor at O'Reilly!" that sounds so cool!), and he told me that O'Reilly is so excited to carry Dancing Barefoot, they're going to have a printing available in time for the holidays. They are currently working on a plan with Powells to get it out there right away, and I understand that they are in talks with Amazon as well. If you've been kicking yourself in the pants, or punching yourself in the back of the head because you wanted Dancing Barefoot for a holiday gift and missed out, you can stop the madness right now!

It should be in most major book stores very soon and y -- Oh my god! I'm going to walk into Vroman's and see my book on the shelf!!! AHHH!!! That RULES!

RAWK! \m/

Oops. There it goes again. :)

O'Reilly will also publish Just A Geek in Spring of next year, and I'm going to write a currently untitled technical book on personal website design that I think will come out in Summer.

So, you see, when I made my audioblog post back in July, I had just gotten off the phone with Brett from O'Reilly, who had called to tell me that none other than Tim O'Reilly himself had come back from OSCon talking about "the Wil Wheaton phenomenon" and instructed Brett to tell me that he wanted to be my publisher. Since that day, we've been working out the details. They were actually finalized a few weeks ago, but we all decided to wait until today to release this epic news, because I guess December 2 is a good day to release news, and there's a good chance some mainstream media outlets will pick this up.

I want all of you who read WWdN to know that none of this would ever have happened without you. Many of you have been here since the early days of Where's My Burrito?. In this strange, impersonal-but-personal way, you've gone with me through the ups and downs (mostly downs) of my Sisyphean struggles in the acting world. You were excited with me when I was added to Nemesis and cried with me when I was cut. You have been there when I've loved, and when I've lost. I've introduced you to Ryan and Nolan, Ferris, and Anne, who is more than my world . . . she's my entire universe.

You've supported me so much . . . I can't tell you all how wonderful it feels to share my tremendous joy with all of you now. Everyone who has read Dancing Barefoot, or come to see me at a show, or left a comment on this site, Soapboxers, Farkers, Slashdotters . . . I'm sure I'm forgetting people . . . but every single one of you owns a piece of this amazing new chapter in my life.

United States

Journal Journal: Diebold Drops C&D Lawsuits 7

Over at bOINGbOING, Cory Doctorow writes:

"Diebold has withdrawn its lawsuit threats against the sites that republished the leaked memos demonstrating its gross malfeasance in its voting machine business. Having had these memos exposed by whistle-blowers, Diebold sought to use copyright law to censor websites that published them. Then EFF took up the cause of one of the site-operators, the Online Policy Group, and now Diebold is slinking away with its tail between its legs, off to plot the downfall of democracy in some rancid warren of its own devising. Don't let the courtroom door hit yer ass on the way out."

Full Story Here.

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal Journal: Windows and The Borg 6

I guess this has made the e-mail rounds before, but it's new to me. I think it's hilarious.

(thanks to Shaun for the e-mail!)
Windows and The Borg

Picard: "Mr. LaForge, have you had any success with your attempts at finding a weakness in the Borg? And Mr. Data, have you been able to access their command pathways?"

Geordi: "Yes, Captain. In fact, we found the answer by searching through our archives on late Twentieth-century computing technology."

Geordi presses a key, and a logo appears on the computer screen.

Riker looks puzzled. "What the hell is 'Microsoft'?"

Data turns to answer. "Allow me to explain. We will send this program, for some reason called 'Windows', through the Borg command pathways. once inside their root command unit, it will begin consuming system resources at an unstoppable rate."

Picard: "But the Borg have the ability to adapt. Won't they alter their processing systems to increase their storage capacity?"

Data: "Yes, Captain. But when 'Windows' detects this, it creates a new version of itself known as an 'upgrade'. The use of resources increases exponentially with each iteration. The Borg will not be able to adapt quickly enough. Eventually all of their processing ability will be taken over and none will be available for their normal operational functions."

Picard: "Excellent work. This is even better than that 'unsolvable geometric shape' idea."

. . . 15 Minutes Later . . .

Data: "Captain, We have successfully installed the 'Windows' in the command unit and, as expected, it immediately consumed 85% of all resources. We however have not received any confirmation of the expected 'upgrade'."

Geordi: "Our scanners have picked up an increase in Borg storage and CPU capacity to compensate, but we still have no indication of an 'upgrade' to compensate for their increase."

Picard: "Data, scan the history banks again and determine if there is something we have missed."

Data: "Sir, I believe there is a reason for the failure in the 'upgrade'. Apparently the Borg have circumvented that part of the plan by not sending in their registration cards.

Riker: "Captain, we have no choice. Requesting permission to begin emergency escape sequence 3F . . ."

Geordi, excited "Wait, Captain I just detected their CPU capacity has suddenly dropped to 0% !"

Picard: "Data, what do your scanners show?"

Data: "Apparently the Borg have found the internal 'Windows' module named 'Solitaire' and it has used up all the CPU capacity."

Picard: "Let's wait and see how long this 'solitaire' can reduce their functionality."

. . . Two Hours Pass . . .

Riker: "Geordi, what's the status on the Borg?"

Geordi: "As expected the Borg are attempting to re-engineer to compensate for increased CPU and storage demands, but each time they successfully increase resources I have setup our closest deep space monitor beacon to transmit more 'windows' modules from something called the 'Microsoft fun-pack'.

Picard: "How much time will that buy us ?"

Data: "Current Borg solution rates allow me to predicate an interest time span of 6 more hours."

Geordi: "Captain, another vessel has entered our sector."

Picard: "Identify."

Data: "It appears to have markings very similar to the 'Microsoft' logo"

Over the speakers "THIS IS ADMIRAL BILL GATES OF THE MICROSOFT FLAGSHIP MONOPOLY. WE HAVE POSITIVE CONFIRMATION OF UNREGISTERED SOFTWARE IN THIS SECTOR. SURRENDER ALL ASSETS AND WE CAN AVOID ANY TROUBLE. YOU HAVE 10 SECONDS"

Data: "The alien ship has just opened its forward hatches and released thousands of humanoid shaped objects."

Picard: "Magnify forward viewer on the alien craft"

Riker: "Good God captain! Those are humans floating straight toward the Borg ship with no life support suits ! How can they survive the tortures of deep space ?!"

Data: "I don't believe that those are humans sir, if you will look closer I believe you will see that they are carrying something recognized by twenty-first century man as doe-skin leather briefcases, and wearing Armani suits"

Riker and Picard together, horrified: "Lawyers !!"

Geordi: "It can't be. All the Lawyers were rounded up and sent hurtling into the sun in 2017 during the Great Awakening."

Data: "True, but apparently some must have survived."

Riker: "They have surrounded the Borg ship and are covering it with all types of papers."

Data: "I believe that is known in ancient vernacular as 'red tape'. It often proves fatal."

Riker: "They're tearing the Borg to pieces!"

Picard: "Turn off the monitors. I can't stand to watch, not even the Borg deserve that."

Books

Journal Journal: Take the F Train 7

I think that, of all the writers named "Paul" who I have ever read, Paul Ford is my favorite.

I don't know how I have gone this long without someone I know telling me to go and check out his writing . . . but I stumbled across this at Fark today, and that lead me to read this and this. I know that I've just scratched the surface here . . . but Mother Jesus Balls. It's brilliant stuff. Just brilliant.

User Journal

Journal Journal: To Honor Trueman 6

This doesn't need any introduction. It moved me, and I'd like to share it here.

From: "William R. Granberry"
Date: Thu Nov 13, 2003 9:21:28 PM America/Los_Angeles
To: wil@wilwheaton.net

Wil-

I'm a daily reader of your site as well as a fellow blogger, filmmaker, and writer. Something happened recently that changed my perspective on, well, life. At the very least, it solidified a notion that had already taken root in my psyche.

I give you a transcription of an entry from my own blog (http://lj.theobsidian.net) (already in HTML format) in the hopes that you might consider crossposting it to your website if you feel it's as important a thought as I do.

If not, then I thank you at least for being the insightful and creative individual whose material I have come to enjoy a great deal, and hope that you enjoy my entry and get something out of it. I loved, by the way, what I read of a friend's copy of Dancing Barefoot. I hope you have another printing soon.

Best wishes to you and yours.

--------
A good friend of mine, Trueman Muhrer-Irwin was injured by a homemade bomb in Baghdad as is detailed here. His wounds are serious and he will require a lengthy rehabilitation.

Everything is relative. When you choose to think that things are bad, think to the dead, and those who face death every day; who don't really have a choice other than to wallow in their helplessness or press on. Think to those who are wounded fighting a war that they didn't start, for those who fight in wars often do so because of duty rather than passion. Trueman is such a man- he disliked his lot in life in service, but was resolved to do his duty and serve his country. He followed through in his resolution through to its end. It cost him what will now be years of his life, his health, his mobility, and a man who was by all accounts a dear friend.

I've made the mistake of choosing unhappiness. We, of course, all have unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and disenchantment forced on us. That's life. There is no option. But we have the option to wallow in it or to press on. I've almost died five times in my life. Realistically. Very close to death. Three of those times it was at the hands of another human being. Those three times I fought and survived because I chose to press on. And yet later in my life, this lesson which I have been forunate enough to learn first hand escaped me, and I've opted for depression. For despair. To whine. Shame on me. Shame on those of us who make that choice. We all falter, but we don't all have excuses.

So let's learn a lesson from Trueman when we refuse to look on the brighter side of life; when we choose to wallow in misery and unhappiness instead of resolving as countless of people do every day to execute the tasks at hand in order to find happiness and satisfaction, because it's a privilege to even have a goal to work towards. Here is a man who made a decision and the result is not his own happiness and satisfaction, but hopefully everyone else's.

Let us honor him and others who pressed on, and hope to learn from him. Keep him in your thoughts, and let's all hope his reward is a quick and complete recovery.

Star Wars Prequels

Journal Journal: R2D2 elected to Robot Hall of Fame 12

At long last, R2D2 has taken his rightful place next to HAL 9000 and Mars Pathfinder in the Robot Hall of Fame.

The jury cited R2's "ambling, lackadaisical manner," his "spontaneity, affability, and loyalty," and observed "R2-D2 is crucial is [sic] assisting Luke Skywalker in a rescue mission to free the Princess from the Death Star. The little droid navigates the complex computer system to provide the rescuers with timely assistance and status updates."

The Media

Journal Journal: Kevin Sites: How I do it. 1

Kevin Sites is a journalist. He's currently in Iraq for MSNBC (he was there for CNN earlier this year, but they made him pull the plug on his blog.)

He's been photo and audio blogging, and filing all sorts of amazing reports on his website.

This awesome story that I read at bOINGbOING today is all about how he does it.

I had a teeny tiny brush with journalism when I covered the recall election for BBC last month, and I have developed a ton of respect for people like Mr. Sites who go that much farther to make sure the story is told.

Slashdot Top Deals

...when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. - Fred Brooks, Jr.

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