I Don’t Always Write Blog Posts . . .

. . . BUT when I do, I try to make them interesting, and mention at least a little about what’s been going on since the last post. However, I’ve noticed that recently—according to my WordPress stats—I’ve gained more than a handful of new followers. If you’re one of the new followers then Welcome, gentle reader. For the new readers I’m going to put a little more background than usual into this post. And don’t forget to explore the other pages through the link tabs at the top. In particular, take a look at the Social page and consider following me on Twitter, too.

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The Day Job

BY profession I’m a Java web application developer. A few months ago the company I work for had a little bit of an unintentional downsizing, by which I mean that several of our other developers, by coincidence, all gave notice at about the same time—and as a result of that, my workload more than doubled as those other guys’ project work was dumped in my lap. So for several weeks I was working late nights and weekends, catching up with all the outstanding bug fixes.

Several weeks on, just about all of those bugs have been fixed, and so I’m back to regular maintenance on all those various applications. Which means I’m back to normal hours without the late nights and weekends. I’m even getting time in some of my lunch breaks to manage a little bit of writing.

Now that all the urgent work is done, I’ve also been spending some time evaluating some new software—web application frameworks, to be specific—to see what the next generation of our software should be using. For what it’s worth, we evaluated JSF (JavaServer Faces) and found it wanting; next up, I’m writing a small application using Apache Wicket to see how that goes, and so far it looks promising—at least, it gets away from JSPs (JavaServer Pages), which can only be a good thing.

Moving House

WE bought a new house, and we’ve been moving a few things in and getting the place ready to take the bigger furniture. Right now there’s not much we can do until some of the flooring has been replaced—but that’s just a few days away, now, and then we can get ourselves properly into the new place. And I can’t wait.

What I’m Writing

NOT that I should need to say, because it’s plastered all over this site, but I wrote Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia, a steampunk action adventure story that was published last year. Now I’m working on a sequel, which—with a little luck—should have a first draft complete by the end of August (at least, that’s the target I’ve set myself). The timeline, which is a scene-by-scene version of the story from beginning to end, is complete; that gives me a plan to work to. The first few scenes have been written, but progress has been slow. The good news is, the pace is picking up and I expect to get back to full momentum on that within a week or two, especially when the house move is behind us.

What I’m Reading

RIGHT now I’m reading Kingdom City by Ben Ireland. I’m only a couple of chapters in, so far.

What I’m Smoking

IF you’ve read back a few posts, you’ll have seen the post about how I’ve been switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes. On that, just a quick update: it’s going very well. Thanks to the e-cig as a way to stave off the craving I was down to about three “real” cigs a day. Then came another milestone: I haven’t smoked even one “real” cigarette in the last three days. Very pleased with that.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted

LAST word: I play some computer games as relaxation. I used to play World of Warcraft a lot (although I haven’t played in months now), and I’m also a big fan of the Half-Life games and their close cousins, the Portal series. Recently I found out about a game called Sir, You Are Being Hunted, which is variously described as steampunk and tweedpunk (is that a new word?). It’s a survival-stealth game, which under normal circumstances would have put me off because I’m not a fan of that genre (I tried playing Thief once, and detested it), but I’m finding Sir to be more than a little bit addictive. I mean, killer robots wearing country tweeds and smoking pipes. What’s not to like?

Until next time . . .

Bad, Bad Week

I just got through one of the heaviest work weeks I can remember in quite some time. One of our developers is leaving, so his projects are being transitioned over to other people, and I’m one of the lucky ones. But as it turned out, this guy’s work is, to put it mildly, appallingly bad. Having worked on this project for more than six months, the thing still wasn’t working—and it was supposed to have been rolled out to production the week before last.

So I was drafted in to try to get it into shape. And after four very tough days, including late night finishes, we’re almost there. One last bug to be nailed (which will probably be dealt with Monday morning) and it can go for final testing.

All of which has meant that there’s been no time for anything else. Work on GB2 has got no further than it was this time last week. The Voyage of Valerie McGrath (the short story that’s going into Xchyler Publishing’s Around The World In 80 Days anthology) is still to be edited (but I’ve had no word from my editor on that, so there’s little I could have done anyway). I’ve had no time even to relax with a bit of gaming.

Today, then, is going to be all about relaxation. I want to spend an hour working on the GB2 timeline (I have some ideas to get that ending sorted out), and I think I could do worse than have a read through McGrath to spot any mistakes I missed earlier. And I do want to have a little game time. (World of Warcraft? Diablo III? Not sure yet.)

And so, it’s time to get moving on that. Tea, then get on with it. Until next time, gentle reader . . .

Eleven Hour Shift

Yesterday was horrible. Not the working-at-home-because-of-snow part—I have no problems staying focussed on the day job, it’s quieter than working at the office, and coffee and snacks are close to hand. In fact, it was all just fine until knocking-off time. I had an errand to run as soon as the work day was over, and I was clearing half a foot of snow off the car when my phone rang. It turned out that a new release of a web application, that had been installed at 3pm, was having problems. It turned out to be some weirdness in the database server, and somewhere along the line it cleared itself and everything started working. But by that time I’d been working for eleven hours pretty much straight. I missed a Facebook release party (too busy arranging some dinner) and then slept heavy for something like ten hours. It’s mid-day and I still feel like I’m barely awake.

Anyway, on to the important stuff. The sequel to Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia (which in future I’ll refer to here as GB2) is coming along quite nicely. The first draft of the timeline was sent to my editor last week. The ending still isn’t set in stone—there’s a section that describes where all the characters are and what needs to be resolved, and I have a couple of ideas on how to wrap things up. And my editor will no doubt spot many scenes that need work.

But that’s on hold for a little while. I think I mentioned, a few posts back, that a steampunk short story I wrote for Xchyler Publishing‘s Around The World In 80 Days anthology contest made the cut; it’s scheduled for release at the end of May, I think, but the deadline for copy editing is just a few short weeks away. I should be getting something from my editor in a couple of days, and as soon as that happens I’ll be getting busy with getting that story into shape.

For now, I’ve decided to take a weekend off writing. I finally broke down and went back to playing World of Warcraft, after an absence of, I think, well over a year. At that time I gave up on it for a number of reasons: that I don’t like doing dungeons with people I don’t know (because, to be honest, even with a group as small as five players, you can guarantee at least one will be some twit who forgets that it’s a game and takes it way too seriously—it’s supposed to be fun, guys, not a chore); that even creating new characters, exploring the same areas and going through the same quests was getting somewhat old; that they seemed to be dumbing the game down; and that the Mists Of Pandaria expansion appeared to pander (har!) to kids, paving the way for a Hello Kitty Island Adventure expansion. But the thing is, it’s still by far the best MMORPG I’m aware of, and after such a long time away from it I’m seeing some things afresh. It’s still loads of fun.

So, I’m going to grab a cup of coffee and go play for a little while, then maybe park myself with a book for a bit. If you’re a WoW player and you happen to be on the Shu’halo realm, and you see a level 19 Alliance Pandaran hunter running around Redridge Mountains or Duskwood with a pet fox, just /yell the magic word “Gunn”. If I yell back “Bohemia”, you found me <grin>.

Until next time, gentle reader . . .

I have ten minutes . . .

. . . while I wait for dinner at the fast food joint. I’m posting from my phone, so this will be short.

The time line for the Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia sequel is coming along. I expect to have the first pass done tomorrow.

Now, I know I said I’d quit playing World of Warcraft a long time back. Well, I couldn’t resist—I bought the latest expansion pack the other day, and started playing last night. Not playing when I should be writing takes self-discipline but so far hasn’t been an issue.

Right, food should be ready in a minute or two. Posting.

[Update: that entry was something of an experiment, to test publishing a post from my phone. Not too successful; the formatting was off and even the title got screwed up somehow. I probably won’t do that again.]

Lazy Weekend; Games and Cloud Atlas and stuff

I haven’t done anything constructive all weekend. It’s been great.

Friday night we went out for a belated birthday celebration (steak at Outback, which was disappointing; the rib-eye was tough and over-seasoned), and bought a bunch of birthday goodies—some games, a Steam gift card, and some TV shows and movies on DVD and blu-ray.

Saturday: I had to re-install my Steam client (it wouldn’t connect), then I bought a couple of games with the card: Alice: Madness Returns—the sequel to the original American McGee’s Alice—is ready to play, but I haven’t started it yet; Syberia and Syberia II were 75% off so I got those, too.

I played Syberia when it came out, but that was a long time ago, so—especially since it only cost about $2.50—I went ahead an bought it. And spent most of Saturday playing it. I hadn’t intended to—I was going to play Alice—but I started it off, just to remind myself how it looked, and got kinda hooked. Interesting game, and very Steampunk.

Sunday: started into some of the DVDs. First up was Cloud Atlas, and it’s been haunting my thoughts since. For the first half hour I didn’t know quite what to make of it, and I wasn’t sure how the bits connected, but things started to come together by about halfway through, and by the end I was enthralled. I can’t get certain scenes out of my head. I’m going to have to watch that again soon.

Next, Star Trek: Into Darkness. Damned good. I will say no more.

Rounded off by watching a few episodes of Castle, season 5. I love that show.

So: it’s Monday morning, 6:45am, and almost time for me to fire up the work laptop and get into day-job stuff. I feel rested and ready to go, so without further ado, I’d better get on with it. Until next time . . .