James R. Strickland, Author
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11/27/2015 01:41pm Blog Entry

Taos Toolbox 2016

Some years ago (2011, to be precise) friend Jeff and I went to Taos Toolbox, then at the Taos ski area in New Mexico, taught by Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress. It was, frankly awesome. I wrote about it at length here. Most of my classmates (unlike me) have had their work published much more readily than they enjoyed previously. It was also a lot of fun, albeit a ton of work in a short timeframe. I bring this up now because Taos Toolbox 2016's applications period begins December 1, 2015. The 2016 installment is coming. Same instructors, same format, slightly different location: Angelfire, NM, 25 miles away. So if you are a writer with some chops who is still reaching for the next level, if you want your writing to go deeper and further than it could before, if you want truly enlightening instruction from two veteran science fiction authors, and a workshop experience you can't get outside of a university (and perhaps not even there) go to the Taos Toolbox Website read up, and apply. You won't regret it. -JRS

11/20/2015 04:08pm Blog Entry

Amusements in language:

If you only have one leg, can you save money buying a pant?
Seriously, do you need a /pair/ of pants if you have only the one leg?
Maybe so.  After all, it's a pair of underwear, a pair of boxers, a pair of briefs.
I think they count butt-cheeks.  Consider. It's a /pair/ of panties, but /a/ thong.
Now we're getting someplace.

Still working on the technical book. Nothing much to report.


09/15/2015 05:52pm Blog Entry


The deeper I dig into physics (yay, another amateur physicist) the more I think that physics should be taught starting out with quantum theory and move upward to Newton, as it is in nature, rather than from Newton to quantum theory as it was discovered. Or perhaps start with Newtonian mechanics and then take the deep dive to explain Newton. Right now I'm finding it easier to understand Bohr's orbitals model by knowing the electron spin and so forth that lie beneath than to simply memorize Bohr. It may be that I don't understand enough to understand how little I understand. Or I'm just weird. -JRS

08/28/2015 03:31pm Blog Entry

Just a quick update.

As part of a current project I'm not at liberty to discuss in such a public forum (when it's released, getting me to shut up about it will be the challenge) I was forced to poke into the guts of the Arduino app, specifically version 1.6.5 and figure out how to add a tool to the tools menu.

Surprise. The existing sample code doesn't work. Not surprising. It hasn't been updated since 2008.

So began my crash course in Java, Processing (the framework in which the Arduino app is actually written), and Arduino itself, which is based on a very old version of the aforementioned Processing.

As a result, I've come up with a basic skeleton for building tools for the Arduino app, along with simple documentation for how to build and install those tools. I've also created my very first git repository. Woohoo! Go me. :) So here it is, ready for the perusal of the entire universe. https://github.com/jrstrick/arduino_tool_skeleton.git

 By the way, if my newfound loathing for Java hasn't come through in this post, let me make it clear. Java is an abomination of a language. The only one I've ever found that I liked less was Python. Java, at least, isn't whitespace-sensitive and broken between versions.


07/10/2015 08:42pm Blog Entry

Tip: When the bag of frozen soup at the Asian market says "Cornish Game Hen Soup" they do not mean soup with shredded bits of Cornish game hen in it. They mean soup with a whole bird in it, minus head, feet, guts, and feathers.

Ordering a pizza.

07/10/2015 12:39pm Blog Entry

Learning Linux System Administration

Ye gods, I've neglected my blog. In my defense, there's a reason. Through a convoluted chain of events, I'm now doing technical writing as well as science fiction, cyberpunk and steampunk. Through another convoluted chain of events, my first technical work available to all y'all is a set of videos called Learning Linux System Administration, and it's available here: http://www.infiniteskills.com/training/learning-linux-administration.html

Yes, that's my voice in the videos. Yes, they listed me as Jim Strickland instead of James R. Strickland, for reasons only they know for sure. I'm good with that. I mean, it's O'Reilly Press. Seriously. Seriously stoked here.

So the questions I expect are:
"Are there more technical books in the works?" Yes, there are. Watch this space.

"Are you giving up on fiction?" No. I'm still working on releasing my existing novels, plus Brass and Steel: Inferno through self-publishing. I've seen the kinds of services tech presses give writers in exchange for the rights to books. For what most sci-fi presses give you, I can sell it myself and come out about even. I also have a second Brass and Steel novel in the early stages, and some other ideas bouncing around in my head as well, so in no way am I giving up on fiction.

Thanks for your patience.

04/28/2015 12:58pm Blog Entry

Typesetting and Ebooks

Finished typesetting and ebook-ifying Brass and Steel: Inferno.

The more I deal with typesetting for physical books, and the more trouble I have finding decent ebook readers for that most open of platforms, Linux, the less respect I have for epub and its derivatives. How many readers simply ignore all or most of the work I put into an ebook and do it the way they want? How many of them have broken support? It's infuriating. I can create an attractive book in pdf format. I can create a readable one with nice touches in epub. I guess that will have to do.

Yes, I have become quite the fanboy of XeLaTeX. (except for the stupid capitalization convention of its name.)

PS: Also learning to hate Scrivener. It makes organizing novels so much easier, but is so incredibly bad at producing output suitable for intake by other programs. Also, it barely works in Linux, and not at all on non-x86 linux platforms.

As I finish typesetting Irreconcilable Differences and tweaking the typeset of Looking Glass, I'm struck by a couple things that characterize my first two published novels:

First, I was a lot less clear on how hackers make a living than I am now. Sign of the times, certainly. I'm sure they knew, but in the early aughties, most hackers we on the outside encountered were the script kiddie variety. Nowadays, of course, they're professional gangsters or selling to professional gangsters, or various government agencies worldwide. In the development of Irreconcilable Differences, it's obvious I gave it more thought, since I had professional operators, military operators, and gangs on the outside.

The other thing is that it's very obvious I had no idea how hard having someone you know die is. I was awfully cavalier about it then.

When I return to writing cyberpunk (and I will) things will be different.

03/22/2015 03:52pm Blog Entry

Nerd moment

I'm shifting my Raspberry Pi to use LVM for everything except the boot partition. I've duped /home and my music partition to LVs on a spare drive, and now I'm pvmoving my LVs back to a partition on the HD the pi usually uses. Listening to Wierd Al's White and Nerdy. No hiccups. Gotta love the Raspberry Pi 2, but the only way to make this moment nerdier is to be playing D&D at the same time. Heh.

(Pi doesn't have an initramfs by default, so it can't boot into LVs.  You can set one up, but they have a reputation for flakiness. IMHO it shouldn't need one given that the kernel and bootloader (such as it is) are on an SD card separate from /root, but I haven't figured out how to connect that all up yet. :)


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