Obdormio.com Unwasted Hours

31 December, 2012

Small Skinny Quiz of 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

It is the last day of the year, so it’s a good day to stop and look back at what has happened so far. If you’ve been reading my little blog, I hope you were paying attention along the way, ’cause here comes the quiz. If you haven’t been reading it and are just coming in now, I hope you’re a good guesser. Best of luck, and happy new year!

Your Score:  

Your Ranking:  

24 December, 2012

The Slump

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

It never fails. The last couple of weeks of the semester, as the exams loom overhead and the list of things that absolutely critically need to be done this very moment is always at least a few points too full, I get filled with creative sparks and a burning desire to do anything but this. The procrastination muscles work overtime, and I am brimming with energy I want to apply to something not at all exam-related – start up that online D&D game, finish a stupid story I’ve been neglecting for years and be done with it, reorganise the shelves and sort through the piles and piles of comics that my childhood built up. The second the exams are over, I’ll be ready to go.

And then the exams are over, and I’m not really doing anything at all. Plenty of time now. It can all wait. Let’s play a short game of Sims instead.

In case you’re not familiar with the game yourself; there is no such thing as a short game of Sims.

This post-exam slump is as predictable a part of the process as the panic-induced burst of procrastination energy that precedes it, and yet I never get around to counteracting it. It is at its worst in December, as this break is so much shorten than summer, and as I am a big Christmas fan, I also want to just wallow in holiday bliss without doing more work that strictly necessary.

Speaking of, unless something’s gone wrong, this post goes up on Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas, the lot of you!

The next semester will be my last as a student – at least for the foreseeable future – so I guess the pattern of panic and slump will also reach its end. I don’t think life in regular gainful employment has quite as many crunch periods. Next December, I’ll be making tests rather than taking them – which I’m sure is still a good bit of work, but probably with less of the stressful wait beforehand. So no more slump? I’m hopeful, ’cause I’m an incurable optimist, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have Sims to rule and cookies to eat. Merry Christmas, once more.

17 December, 2012

Tools of the Trade

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I’ve just finished up what I think is the most intensive exam period of my academic career, and good riddance to it. The exam period, that is, not my academic career – although the results are not in yet, so we’ll see. Prior to the exams, I had a quite full semester, with teacher training eating lots of time, so all in all it’s been a busy six months.

Because I am, as previously established, crazy, I decided to add to my work this year by forging ahead with NaNoWriMo for the first time since my very first year at university. Back then, in the innocent days of 2006, I concluded that there was just no way to complete the challenge with university work on top! I clung to this established truth until now, the busiest semester yet, before throwing caution to the wind, and I actually ended up with a workable first draft of a story I have been brooding on for far too long.

A graph charting my progress thorugh NaNoWriMo

But spot the bit where I gave up in despair for a while.

Anyway, this is all preamble, what I actually want to talk about are word processors.

I know, right! Sexiest blog in the ‘verse, right here.

The purpose of a word processors, as I currently see it, is to get out of the way and allow the user to just write, and then be ready with whatever features are needed to polish the product afterwards. Pretty easy and straightforward, no? Hard to see how it could be screwed up, really.

But it can. Oh, but it can.

I’ve been using OpenOffice for, oh, several years now. I can’t quite recall when I made the switch, but it was sometime after 2005, when I no longer had a school computer with Microsoft Office on. During my aforementioned teacher training, I had to use one of the school computers they had lying around there, and it came with Microsoft Office 2010. I think my feeling can be pretty much summed up with a tweet I made at the time:

I do not understand how that thing can even be sold. When last I used Microsoft Office it had looked pretty much like OpenOffice still does, but now the UI was clunky and unnavigable. It was made so user-friendly as to be unusable. And every time I tried to scroll to a different part of a document, the would automatically jump back to wherever the cursor was. Maddening. I wanted to throw that machine out the window at the end of every day. Ugh, never again. I hope.

As I’ve pretty thoroughly established by now, I’ve been using OpenOffice. During the writing sprint in November, however, I suddenly discovered that OpenOffice isn’t what it used to be, and that LibreOffice is its spiritual successor. I’d heard the name LibreOffice before, so I’m not a complete shut-in, but I’d never bothered to look up why all the people who used to push OpenOffice had suddenly switched allegiance. What I had worked for me, and I never even noticed that there was a change in update frequency or support systems. Now that I do know, though, I think I might switch over. Just because it seems better to use a piece of software that’s actually in development and with a support structure around it. I realise that OO still has that to some extent, but hey – support the open source guys, yeah? Also, it looks prettier.

But there’s another piece of software I’m quite excited about – something new and shiny that’s caught my eye. It’s called Scrivener. OK, it’s not all that new, only to me, but it sure is shiny! Scrivener is one of the sponsors of NaNoWriMo. I didn’t actually notice it until after the month was over, but I downloaded the demo to see what everyone was raving about then. And since I did manage to squeeze out the 50 000 required words, I then almost immediately used the discount given to winners to buy a full copy. That’s how much it impressed me. It looks good, it makes organising notes easier, and its non-linear approach to text handling – because writing often is about shuffling bits around until they work – just appeal to me tremendously.

Now, there’s a part of me that is eager to jump into the old trap of thinking “If I just had the right pen, the work would do itself!”. Scrivener, or LibreOffice, or anything, obviously doesn’t do the work for you. And you don’t need any of it, you can write with a piece of coal on a slate if that’s what you have handy. But these tools can make the process easier. They can sit back and just let you write and be there when you need them to help you polish stuff once you’re done. And I’m eager to find the optimal setup here.

Because as long as I’m looking, I have an excuse not to do real work. Zing!

10 December, 2012

Still Can’t Talk. More Exams.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

The white flag is still waving. I’m in the final stretch, but the finish line still seems distant and unreachable. So, more phoning it in. I’ll be back stronger next week, I promise.

Meanwhile, music!

3 December, 2012

Can’t Talk. Exams.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I have exams lined up for a bit now, so this is a emergency post running on back-up generators. To put it another way: I’m phoning it in.

To put it another way: Look! Seasonal music!

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